There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

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drumdude
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There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

Post by drumdude »

DP wrote:Several times, I’ve been confronted with an interesting question: “Can there be any valid criticisms of the Church?” I’ve posted a response to the challenge at least twice, and I’ve been attacked each time for what I wrote, by people who plainly didn’t understand what I wrote and, it seems, couldn’t be bothered to try to understand it. And now the question has come across my radar screen yet again. So, in strict conformity to a common definition of the term insanity, I’ll try once more:

Yes, there can be valid criticisms of the Church. Both of the Church as an assemblage of people and of the Church as an institution.

To choose a few trivial examples:

We, as Saints, could and should be doing better in our ministering and at attending the temple more often. We should be more active missionaries, be better at family history research, be more charitable in our behavior, be more service-oriented. (If nobody else in the Church is defective in those areas, I am. Which means that, even if I’m the only one, the Church membership isn’t living up to its full potential.) More of our youth should be serving as missionaries. Our musical and artistic tastes might be better. Our movie-going and novel-reading preferences might be more consistent with our values, more elevated. We should ourselves generate better literature and movies and art.

As far as the Church itself goes: The Lord himself has been critical of it from time to time, as have its leaders. But here are some fairly insignificant criticisms that I myself have offered: Our art and architecture have sometimes been pretty uninspiring. Our Sunday school and other manuals have often been quite uninteresting. Our meetings are sometimes boring. (And so forth.)

(I expect that some readers will want me to share some more serious areas of disagreement with Church leaders and some weightier criticisms. I’m afraid that I’ll have to disappoint them. I’m not going to be lured into public attacks on my church. And anyway, [a] that’s not the point of this post and [ b] I don’t really have any truly serious criticisms or areas of disagreement. I am, to use the silly language favored by one tiny faction of critics, a “chapel Mormon.” Mainstream and orthodox. Not for the sake of being mainstream and orthodox but simply because that’s what I actually believe.)

Here, though, is the more serious question that some really want to ask:

Can there be any valid evidence against the Church?

To which my answer is No, there cannot.

This is the point at which some of my critics began to froth years ago, and over which some continue to wax occasionally indignant still today. So permit me to explain:

My answer presumes the Church to be true. Why? Because I believe it to be. (The question is about my personal opinion on the matter, right?)

Since the Church is ex hypothesi true, there can be no genuine evidence that it is false. Of course, there can be seeming evidence against its claims, evidence that reasonable people might well regard as genuine and damning. In the end, though, on the assumption that the claims of the Church are true, what seems to be genuine, damning evidence against it must ultimately prove not to be such.

There is evidence that parallel rails on a train track converge in the distance. However, they don’t actually converge at a distance; they remain parallel. The visual evidence that they converge proves to be illusory.

There is evidence that the Sun goes around the Earth. For millennia, close watchers of the sky thought that it did, and they had reasons for thinking so. However, we can now explain those reasons, that evidence, in other ways.

There might be evidence strongly suggesting that Frank killed Bob. But if, in fact, it was Jim who killed Bob, and not Frank, the evidence suggesting that Frank was the murderer must eventually be reinterpreted as demonstrating no such thing.

It’s in that sense that I say that there can, in the end, be no valid evidence against the claims of Mormonism. Ultimately, you see, there can never be proof that something that is true is actually false.

Now, before closing, I need to make a few points:

I’m not advocating a closed mind. I’m not saying that I refuse to consider evidence contrary to my religious beliefs. I’m not saying that there are no substantial arguments against Mormonism that deserve consideration. I’m not saying that every objection has been answered to the satisfaction of every rational and honest mind. I am saying that my conviction that the claims of Mormonism is true entails the corollary conviction that arguments against its truth are, in the end, wrong.

I hope that helps. Though I really doubt that it will help some folks in certain circles of my critics.

Good critics can be a blessing. As a grinding wheel sharpens a knife, they can (and often do) sharpen arguments and help to clarify propositions.

Incompetent critics, by contrast — e.g., those who regularly, grossly misread what their opponents say and who fail to grasp arguments and issues — are pretty much useless and a waste of time. Unfortunately, though, they’re both prolific and extremely vocal, across the web. It takes real discipline to ignore them. Discipline that I’ve too often lacked. As the saying goes, I’m a work in progress.
Can you think of any proposition that you believe so blindly, that reality itself must bend, twist, warp, and contort in impossible ways to conform to the truth of your belief in the face of all the evidence to the contrary?

I think the ability for me to live my life without that burden, without performing those impossible mental gymnastics, and to live without that constant cognitive dissonance has been one of the greatest gifts of my adult life. It saddens me that Dan has never experienced it.

That is the very definition of having an open mind: the ability to change your deepest held beliefs in the face of new evidence. Having an open mind also gives you the ability to have a non-binary opinion on things like the idea that "Mormonism is true." Mine is non-zero, by the way. Call it a one in a million chance that Mormonism is true.

I would have expected Dan to admit at least some small possibility that the church is not true, that there is a real possibility that the evidence against Mormonism is what it seems to be. But it sounds like he is 100% convinced the church is true. And that, it seems to me, is the very definition of a closed mind.
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Doctor Scratch
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

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They pick and choose which aspects are unassailable: hence their war with the Heartlanders. Nothing can challenge the Mopologists’ belief that the Book of Mormon took place in Latin America.

But there are other things that they have no problem attacking. Remember how Midgley said that they had to wait for Elder Petersen to die before they could promulgate the LGT? So, what does that tell you? It says that the apologists don’t actually believe in apostolic authority: the keys of the priesthood, to them, are apparently conditional. The same goes for DCP saying that BY was teaching false doctrine on the matter of Adam-God. And let’s not forget the Mopologists’ peculiar relationship with the concept of priestcraft.
Last edited by Doctor Scratch on Thu Jul 28, 2022 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
"If, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14
drumdude
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

Post by drumdude »

Doctor Scratch wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 12:14 am
They pick and choose which aspects are unassailable: hence their war with the Heartlanders. Nothing can challenge the Mopologists’ belief that the Book of Mormon took place in Latin America.

But there are other things that they have no problem attacking. Remember how Midgley said that they had to wait for Elder Petersen to die before they could promulgate the LGT? So, what does that tell you? It says that the apologists don’t actually believe in apostolic authority: the keys of the priesthood, to them, are apparently conditional. The same goes for DCP saying that BY was teaching false doctrine on the matter of Adam-God.
Excellent point. Why are they attacking Heartlanders at all? Heartlanders know that their belief is true, and any evidence that Smoot and friends throw at them is wasted because it can (according to Dan's process) be re-interpreted in such a way to preserve their belief.

There's no use debating anything once you assert your belief is true by definition.
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Doctor Scratch
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

Post by Doctor Scratch »

drumdude wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 12:17 am
Doctor Scratch wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 12:14 am
They pick and choose which aspects are unassailable: hence their war with the Heartlanders. Nothing can challenge the Mopologists’ belief that the Book of Mormon took place in Latin America.

But there are other things that they have no problem attacking. Remember how Midgley said that they had to wait for Elder Petersen to die before they could promulgate the LGT? So, what does that tell you? It says that the apologists don’t actually believe in apostolic authority: the keys of the priesthood, to them, are apparently conditional. The same goes for DCP saying that BY was teaching false doctrine on the matter of Adam-God.
Excellent point. Why are they attacking Heartlanders at all? Heartlanders know that their belief is true, and any evidence that Smoot and friends throw at them is wasted because it can (according to Dan's process) be re-interpreted in such a way to preserve their belief.

There's no use debating anything once you assert your belief is true by definition.
The argument is that the Heartlanders are “attacking the Brethren,” but as I pointed out, the Mopologists, in supporting the LGT, are *also* attacking the Brethren. It’s like, take your pick: are the contemporary Brethren wrong? Or the Brethren from past eras?

When you back up a bit, the justification for the criticism is that you need to be respectful, if not reverent, towards the Brethren. Both sides apparently believe this, and think that it’s centrally important, hence the conflict.
"If, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14
drumdude
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

Post by drumdude »

When you give them an impossible either or choice, they create new categories and contexts out of thin air to make that impossible choice seemingly disappear.

There are many tricks like that which can justify any absurd belief in the face of an infinite number of facts against it.
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Dr Moore
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

Post by Dr Moore »

Or, how to advocate a closed mind in as many words as possible.
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

Post by Fence Sitter »

No small irony in the fact Dan believes there is no evidence that can disprove the church while simultaneously not being able to provide a single piece of evidence that proves it is.
drumdude
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

Post by drumdude »

Fence Sitter wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 1:34 am
No small irony in the fact Dan believes there is no evidence that can disprove the church while simultaneously not being able to provide a single piece of evidence that proves it is.
We just haven’t dug up enough of Central America yet. Every TBM will become a Mezoamerican history expert overnight once they find Zarahemla.
Dr Exiled
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

Post by Dr Exiled »

Since the Church is ex hypothesi true, there can be no genuine evidence that it is false. Of course, there can be seeming evidence against its claims, evidence that reasonable people might well regard as genuine and damning. In the end, though, on the assumption that the claims of the Church are true, what seems to be genuine, damning evidence against it must ultimately prove not to be such.
The trouble with this, obviously, is that anything can be ex hypothesi true [insert favorite crazy theory].
Myth is misused by the powerful to subjugate the masses all too often.
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

Post by dastardly stem »

I’m not advocating a closed mind. I’m not saying that I refuse to consider evidence contrary to my religious beliefs. I’m not saying that there are no substantial arguments against Mormonism that deserve consideration. I’m not saying that every objection has been answered to the satisfaction of every rational and honest mind. I am saying that my conviction that the claims of Mormonism is true entails the corollary conviction that arguments against its truth are, in the end, wrong.
He advocates for a closed mind after saying explicitly that he is not doing so? Agreed Dr Exiled, Peterson is defining for all how to have a closed mind while contradicting himself by suggesting he’s not being closed minded. It’s a sad thought if you ask me.
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