It's important for us to remember as we try to strengthen our own faith and help others struggling with their own that we are all brothers and sisters. Whether a member of the Church, indifferent to it, or someone who is fighting against it for whatever reason, know that we will never be able to understand what each other have been through. All we can do is offer our own insights, our hope, our faith, our questions, and our love in the hopes that we can grow together.
What a beautiful thought from this piece: "The real reason that I believe in Christ and in the Restored Church is because of the spiritual experiences I have had. Human reason is limited. Pure and simple. . . . There are just so many things that are unknowable and that is why personal revelation is so important. Revelation bridges the gap between what Humans think they know and the truth that only God can distill."
Not too long ago, Britt and I were eating dinner with a family member when she proceeded to tell us that she was leaving the Church. She told us that she and her husband had learned things about Church history that they couldn’t look past. They were unable to reconcile their discoveries with their faith, so they felt that they had no other choice but to leave. This was heartbreaking for us to hear, but, unfortunately, we know many others like them.
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And if you are like us, you also have multiple friends, family members, and acquaintances who have left the Church, perhaps largely within the last few years. . . .
And after seeing so many good people walk out, Britt and I have decided to do something about it. You see, there are many people who want to believe, but after learning seemingly disconcerting things about Church history, they are unable to work past their doubts.
Too many have been driven from the Church, not because they were looking for a reason to go, but because they happened upon information that they couldn’t reconcile with their faith nor simply ignore.
I personally know what it’s like to struggle with understanding how certain historical realities fit into the story of the Restoration. I also have many ex-Mormon friends, and I’ll bet I’m familiar with just about every anti-Mormon argument in the book. And yet, I’m a Mormon through and through.
I hope that by sharing what I have learned through both faith and reason, someone who is struggling might find strength and perhaps a few who have left the fold might find their way back.
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This article (the first in a series of related articles) will attempt to undermine the logical power that anti-Mormon arguments falsely appear to have. The reason I start with a logical approach is because anti-Mormon thought can be so seemingly convincing that some people lose the disposition to exercise faith in God. This may sound strange because you may have had experiences exercising faith in the midst of doubts. But for others, it is not so easy. For those who have been convinced that Joseph Smith is some kind of crook or criminal, sincere prayers and scripture study is unthinkable.
So, I write this article hoping that by demonstrating the logical weaknesses of anti-Mormon arguments, someone in this situation will regain the opportunity to exercise a particle of faith.
Consider the following reasons that anti-Mormon arguments are not as convincing as they appear to be:
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1. Negative Evidence Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be
Many intellectuals argue that “negative evidence” is supreme. To understand what they mean by this, consider the hypothesis that “all swans are white.” According to these intellectuals, it doesn’t matter how many white swans you find, you never really prove that “all” swans are white. However, as soon as you find one black swan, you have disproved the theory that “all swans are white.” They conclude that positive evidence doesn’t ever really prove anything, but negative evidence can. And it’s easy to see why they think that way.
This is the approach that ex-Mormons have taken to their faith. In the face of unsettling information, they disregard all of the positive evidence because they think that a few points of negative evidence are sufficient to end the discussion. And given how logical the above reasoning seems to be, it is no wonder why.
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But they are still wrong.
To understand why, consider another example. After first discovering the planet Uranus, astronomers attempted to predict its orbit by using Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of physics. They could observe the orbit of Uranus with their own eyes, but when they used Newton’s mathematical models to predict that orbit, they failed time and again.
It made no sense. Newton’s laws had been right about so many things, but astronomers had found a case in which Newton’s laws did not work. So, was Newton wrong? Were his laws not quite as infallible as they had seemed? In light of this “negative evidence,” it would have been easy to conclude just that.
However, years later, astronomers discovered another planet, Neptune. And as it turns out, when astronomers accounted for the mass of this newly discovered planet, Newton’s laws predicted the orbit of Uranus perfectly.
So, as it turned out, it wasn’t that Newton’s laws of physics didn’t work. It was that they didn’t seem to work. And that’s because the astronomers simply didn’t have all the relevant information and context.
This example shows very clearly why negative evidence is far from supreme. You can dig up all sorts of facts about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, but you will never know if you really have access to all the relevant context and perspectives. And if that is the case, why discount the positive evidence proving that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God?
In recent years, many faithful Church members have encountered challenging aspects of Church history, belief, or practice. Feeling isolated, alienated, or misled, some struggle to stay. Some simply leave. Many search for a reliable and faithful place to work through their questions. The abundance of information online can leave them frustrated. Planted offers those who struggle—and those who love them—practical ways to stay planted in the gospel of Jesus Christ.