Critics frequently argue that—unlike believing Mormons who supposedly grasp at straws and rely on irrational feelings to support their beliefs—they (the critics) are rational, logical, and rely on the findings of science and empirical evidence for their beliefs. On an on-line discussion board populated by ex-Mormons who gather to vent about their former faith, one poster—using the screen name “Baffeled [sic] and Bewildered”—recently asked, “Why do intelligent people still buy into the [Mormon]…lies?”
…I wonder how they can continue to buy into the idiotic apologistic explanations provided for facts that any logical thinking person should see right through.
…Then there is the whole DNA thing…. [Y]ou don’t even have to be intelligent to understand that one, and yet they just accept the stupid, unintelligent, ridiculous explanations put out by the church and their idiot apologists.
Among the varied and numerous responses to we read the comments of “SusieQ#1” who assures the ex-Mormon crowd that Mormons believe because of “faith, not…facts.”
It’s very important to remember, the lack of factual evidence of golden plates, angels, or people places or things in the BOM [Book of Mormon], the BOA [Book of Abraham] translations, etc, does not matter. It doesn’t matter one bit. None of those things are necessary for belief by faith. God works in mysterious ways, god [sic] can do all things.
Also, remember that it is a lack of faith that requires evidence and proof. (That’s Biblical!) That is a crucial point. Can’t ignore that important part of belief by faith. The other very important point: Emotional bonding to traditional beliefs even if they are weird superstitions overrides logic and reason if one is constantly immersed in talk that is “truth.”
“Stray Mutt,” another frequent ex-Mormon poster, claims—in response to “Baffeled and Bewildered’s” question—that Mormon’s “believe because they want to. They have a picture of Mormonism in their head. It only vaguely resembles reality but it’s what they want to be true.”
So according to a number of critics (and many similar citations could be given), when it comes to religious beliefs, Mormons are illogical, irrational, and biased. Mormons supposedly support their belief with feelings and disregard logic and evidence because accepting the empirical data would cause their world to collapse.
As I demonstrated in Shaken Faith Syndrome, however, Latter-day Saints not only have rational reasons for believing the truth claims of Mormonism but all people—including critics—often rely on irrational feelings and bias in weighing evidence for important matters such as religion. In chapter 2, for example, I pointed out that, according to an informal 2001 poll of several ex-Mormons, over half said that nothing could cause them to return to Mormonism (p. 13). A recent discussion on the ex-Mormon discussion board solidifies the findings of this poll. On 19 August 2008, one anonymous critic asked his fellow critics:
If genetic anthropologists proved that Native American DNA matched Israeli Jew DNA, what would you do? …[I]f evidence started to point decisively in the direction of [Mormonism]…, would you believe again? …How much evidence would it take for you to concede a point in the [Mormon Church’s]…scientific favor?
Some of the replies were interesting as well as telling. “Randy J.” replied:
No, because the BOM was discredited long before DNA testing existed…. The DNA results merely confirm what we already knew. The only way that any DNA testing could ever support the BOM would be if they were faked or misread. There’s no evidence whatsoever anywhere in the Americas to show that the people and cultures described in the BOM ever existed.
What interesting circular logic. According to this critic, DNA science proves that the Book of Mormon is fictional. If DNA science were to confirm the Book of Mormon, then the DNA science must be fake or misread because we already know that the Book of Mormon is fictional. “FlattopSF” likewise responded:
No. Even if there was evidence for EVERYTHING, I would not. I am logic and science oriented, but there is another whole dimension of this that you are not presenting: Mor[m]onism is a murderous fascist cult. What amount of “factual evidence” can possibly justify that?
It would not matter to “FlattopSF” if all the evidence incontrovertibly pointed to the veracity of the Book of Mormon. Because he/she believes that the Church is a “murderous fascist cult,” none of that evidence would matter. “FlattopSF” would still reject belief in the prophetic abilities of Joseph Smith because “factual evidence” could not possibly justify what he/she sees as the atrocities supposedly committed by the Church.
Above, I quoted “SusieQ#1” who claimed that Mormons override “logic and reason” and ignore “facts” because they believe that any evidence contrary to their belief is simply God’s way of working in “mysterious ways.” When she responded to the query regarding hypothetical DNA evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon, however, she said:
Any evidence (DNA or otherwise) that supports the BOM will be strictly coincidental. Imaginary people do not have DNA! The BOM is about imaginary people, places and things that are believed by a testimony by faith and “spiritual eye” witness.
Just because other people believe it, does not make it factually true. There are no evidences for the BOM. There never will be. That’s the beauty of it!
So according to “SusieQ#1” there can be no real evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon. Why? Because the Book of Mormon is fictional. How do we know that it’s fictional? Because there are no real evidences in favor of the book. What do we make of “any evidence” in favor of the Book of Mormon? It’s merely “coincidental” because the Book of Mormon isn’t true.
It seems odd that people who claim that Mormons are illogical and simply rely on “feelings” refuse to accept any logical, rational evidence in favor of the Church because they already know it’s not true. It gets worse, however. As I noted in my book:
Some ex-members have even claimed that if there was irrefutable evidence that Mormonism was true, they would still reject the Church and rebel against God because of the things they found distasteful (p. 13).
Readers may have wondered if, in writing the above, I was engaging in hyperbole. Some of the comments to the DNA-as-evidence question, however, demonstrate that such a hatred of Mormonism and LDS beliefs is so strong that there really are people who would reject God even if they knew that the LDS faith was true. As “Heresy” wrote in response to the query:
I left before I knew of any historical issues. I left because I didn’t want to worship a God with such an ego that He demanded worship, and needed so many silly rituals and ordinances. …I also didn’t like the idea of a God who would speak directly to old white guys and not me. The history problems are just icing on the cake.
It wouldn’t matter to “Heresy” if the LDS Church was true. I wouldn’t matter if God really spoke to Joseph or that Jesus visited ancient America. S/he does not like—what s/he understands to be—the characteristics of the Mormon God, and therefore would reject the Church even if it was true.
Earlier I quoted “Stray Mutt” who claimed that Mormons believe “because they want to.” Mormonism, s/he assures the ex-Mormon crowd, only “vaguely resembles reality” but is accepted by Mormons because of their desire for the teachings to be true. In other words, Mormonism is not true; it’s a figment created by the false hopes and the desires of gullible Mormon members. However, in the thread asking if ex-members would believe again if DNA evidence favored the Book of Mormon we discover that for “Stray Mutt” truth is irrelevant.
Long before I decided the BOM was fake, I realized…I couldn’t embrace the foundations of LDS or Christian theology. It doesn’t matter to me whether the BoM people actually existed. Even if Jesus and God were to appear to me, I’d say, “Sorry, but your system is screwed up and you’re [&#@%]…. In fact, punishing me forever for being true to my convictions instead of pretending I love you guys just shows what [&#@%]…you are.”
Apparently “Stray Mutt” has such a distaste for what s/he perceives as the characteristics of God, that s/he would not only reject such supreme beings (despite their existence) but “Stray Mutt” would like to tell such divine beings that they are not as smart as s/he is. Their way of running the universe, according to “Stray Mutt,” is “screwed up.” It’s interesting, in light of such arrogance, that the English word “apostasy” comes from the Greek apostasia which means to “defect” or “revolt” and has even referred to political rebels.
While Mormons are often accused of rationalizing their beliefs, it becomes apparent (as I argue in Shaken Faith Syndrome) that there is much more to belief as well as disbelief than feelings and empirical evidence.