Messages archive

Messages archive (7/20/97 - 8/23/97)


The most recent messages can be found here.


received 8/23/97
I read your response to Brother Taggart's review of your web site. What is it about being involved in FARMS that gives people such a nasty dispostion? First Bill Hamblin's "Metcalfe is Butthead" debacle and now Taggart's nasty jab at sites that tell the truth about Mormon history, calling them "blights." Did these guys ever read the Golden Rule?

"Blights"??

I wonder how the FARMS people can go to their bishops with a straight face and answer in their temple recommend interviews that they are "honest" with their "fellowmen"?

Like you, I hope that FARMS will create a web site and post their stuff where everyone can have access to it. Like other aspects of Mormonism, FARMS writings need to be subjected to the light of public scrutiny. If FARMS writers are proud of their work, why not post it for all to see?

Actually, they do have a website located here.

Unfortunately, most of the information is "for sale" rather than available on the net. The stuff is slowly making it onto the net though. Hopefully, someday it will all be on the net. If they are making much $$$$$ off selling it though, they may only put "teasers" up which is sort of how the site looks now.

I'm sure you would be happy to link to a FARMS web site, and even feature it prominently.

I have dozens of links to the FARMS site and direct links to numerous FARMS essays.

Most of the people I know who are deeply disillusioned with the church have spent a good deal of time reading the apologetics of people like Nibley and those who write for FARMS, and have realized how thoroughly intellectually dishonest such writings are.

Did you see my most recent page on Nibley located here?

The desire to suppress opposing views is a tacit admission of the bankruptcy of the suppressor's position: Faced with the inability to respond on the merits, there is nothing left but the attempt to silence.

FARMS no longer seems to rely on silence. Their favorite tricks these days seem to be along the lines of pointing out small errors and ignoring the big picture (or the main issues) the critics bring up. Another recent favorite is the, "we've heard this argument before" line. Then they don't bother to show how the argument is incorrect.

Mormon leaders and apologists really need to "come clean" about Mormon history and many other "truth" claims. It is morally indefensible to "lie for the Lord." The Lord doesn't need people to lie for him. He is the author of truth, and "a lying tongue" is one of the things he "hates."

Moreover, it is becoming ever more apparent that the Emperor is strutting around in his underwear, and he really should get dressed.

Last time I saw the Emperor, his underwear must have been in the wash. ;)


received 8/22/97
To believe in no God is a lose/lose position and a belief in God is a win/win position.

I disagree. By not believing in that for which there is no evidence I save time, money, energy, and a headache caused by the mental gymnastics such a belief would put on me.

If we both live to be 100 and die and there is no God then nothing really matters, the end is the end. An atheist will die shuddering in fear.

Shuddering in fear? I'm not afraid of going to bed every night. Why should I be afraid of death? Someone who believes in a vengeful God (like that of the Bible) has far more to fear on their deathbed than someone banking on a dreamless sleep.

I think I will die with much less mental pain believing that the end is just the beginning.

And I think it is important to "begin" in this life since it is the only one we are sure of. Why wait for a beginning after this life? Religion tends to cause people like yourself to become obsessed with death as your message shows. Atheism allows one to become obsessed with living. It really is a more mentally fulfilling philosophy. There is none of the "pain" you seem to abhor.

But if there is no God it won't really matter. On the other hand if there is a God the atheist is gona have a lot of explaining to do!!!

How's this for an explanation to this God of yours?

God,
You supposedly gave me a brain. Now why didn't you expect me to use it?

Regardless of this God's response, my next question would probably be something like:
What were you hiding from?

The solution is for one to open your heart and mind to win/win.

Both my mind and heart (in that order) are wide open. That is why I search for truth based on evidence, experience, and reality rather than rely on a dogmatic testimony like the one you just gave me.

FYI, the wager you speak of is called Pascal's Wager and it has several flaws which you can read about here.


received 8/18/97
RPC man, just dropping you a line to let you know that the more I read about your views, the more I see the truth in what you say.

As one of my converts you will now be required to send your money to ... ;)

I have been silently collecting books that you referenced on your site for a long time, and I have read many.

I hope to begin to dialogue with you soon as I make my move to separate myself from the LDS church and enter the road to free thinking.

Anytime. I enjoy a good conversation. The free thinking road is tons of fun. You won't regret the re-acquisition of your own mind.

I know you are agnostic and I sense not a theist.

I'm an agnostic/atheist as I define the terms in this essay.

That's not to say that I hope, wish, or know that god does not exist. I just don't see any reasons to postulate that god does exist anymore. I'm not too worried about whether a god exists. If one (or more) does, I'm sure they would appreciate a person who relies on reason, experience, and the scientific method to formulate their philosophy on life--rather than reliance on authority, tradition, or others.

BTW, are you really Dr. Quinn in disguise?

Yes I am. No, I'm just kidding. ;) I disagree with Quinn on several issues including those found in my review of "The Mormon Hierarchy : Origins of Power". Quinn believes (or at least says he believes) in the supernatural--including many items of Mormonism which I don't. Quinn doesn't even have email. He told me that he had a difficult time just using a word processor so there is little chance that you will see a website run by him in the near future.


received 8/18/97
Just to let you know how I feel about your rather slanted version of the alt.religion.mormon postings ... The vast majority of your archives is in the negative against my thoughts, and you fail to include much of anything of my replies...

I suppose you plan to house my works on your site? ;)

I have no problem linking to or explaining positions that don't agree with mine. In fact, I almost always make a point of doing just that. How many "faith-promoting" sites do you know of that do the same? If you expect me to include views I don't agree with on my site, as if I did, you are mistaken.

If your posts looked at the big picture rather than apologetics, I'd strongly consider them.


received 8/18/97
I am impressed with your site and am considering linking to it.

Link away.

Look out when the Pope endorses a scientific idea; remember that the church got its astronomy ideas from Aristotle not the Bible. Is evolution also now on the way out?

If it is, will that make it any less true? I really couldn't care less what the Catholic Church (or any organization) states its dogma now consists of since I don't have to believe it based on their word.

Having just perused Darwin's "Descent of Man" I was astounded at his sexist and racist views.

You shouldn't be. He was writing over 100 years ago. A much larger percentage of the population was racist back then. Does that make all of his arguments invalid? I don't think so.


received 8/13/97
In response to this message, I received:

I think Tom Alexander did something on this in Sunstone quite a few years ago. About the time he wrote Mormonism in Transition, which I think also discusses it. (Later I received another message that stated that MIT doesn't discuss the issue very much but many other similar changing doctrine issues). If I get a chance, I'll check Sunstone, too. It pointed out how thoroughly Trinitarian the Book of Mormon is. Also, as I'm sure you know, the Lectures on Faith (available in the 1835 D&C--removed in the 1921 edition) say that the Father and the Spirit are personages of spirit, while the Son is a personage of tabernacle.


received 8/11/97
Hello
#12, I'm #63.

I am not a number. I'm a free man. ;) If you aren't an Iron Maiden or The Prisoner fan then you probably won't get that one.

I should just briefly note here that my story at the above site was written 2 years ago and would sound different if I wrote it today.

I read your letter on Eric's site, and then realized you must be the infamous rpcman (the link at the bottom was a dead giveaway:)

Wow, I'm infamous now? I guess that is OK as long as my true-believing Mormon (TBM) mom doesn't find out. ;)

Your site is great, and I have added many of your suggestions to my own reading list. I'm just about finished with "A History of God"--it really puts things in perspective to see how many different ideas people have had about God, and why they have had them. It seems to me that the real purpose of religion should not be to save souls, but to express and address the awe inherent in our human experience. Saying that one form of spirituality is the only right one denies the validity of another person's sense of wonder. As a TBM, I really missed the boat.

Amen and amen. I couldn't agree more. We've been going to a UU fellowship for about a year and it has been so refreshing after decades in Mormonism. I don't agree with much of the politics many in UUism hold dear, but I really like the religion, if you can call it that, part of it--open inquiry, awe of nature, wonder at the universe, and above all a search for truth.

"The Demon Haunted World" is probably the best book I have ever read. Just because the title interested me (I had not yet explored the Internet or found your site), I bought it to read while interviewing for graduate school at the Mayo Clinic. I came home knowing that my days as a Mormon were numbered; I just had to decide between telling my family now, and letting them figure it out after I moved out of Utah and quit faking it. If you read my letter (#63), then you know what happened.

A few weeks ago, I took my dad to see Contact. He said it was the best movie he has ever seen, and he is now reading "The Demon Haunted World." But he'll never change. He has far too much invested in the church to give it an honest look. And why should he? Mormonism works for him.

Others I have read:
Arthur C. Clarke--"Childhood's End" I'm a long time SF fan, and this is one of the best.

Richard Dawkins--"The Blind Watchmaker". "The Selfish Gene" is good too.

Daniel C. Dennett--both "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" and "Conciousness Explained".

Umberto Eco--"Focault's Pendulum" (a friend who served a mission in Italy says that the Italians consider Eco a national treasure.) "The Name of the Rose" is even better--a medieval murder mystery full of superstition vs. reason themes.

Stephen Jay Gould--"Dinosaur in a Haystack". I liked "The Panda's Thumb" a little bit better.

Carl Sagan--"Contact" which was better than the movie because it developed the themes much more, but he could have co-written it with someone like Arthur C. Clarke and it would have been a better novel. "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" was good too, particularly the second half.

Michael Shermer--"Why People Believe Weird Things". Afrocentrism and holocaust denial were new skeptical territories for me. What did you think of his chapter on Ayn Rand?

I haven't read this book yet but plan to in the near future so I can't yet comment on what he thinks of Ayn Rand.

Keep up the web site--I check for new stuff almost daily.

Thanks. It's nice to know that it isn't a wasted effort.


received 8/6/97
I just happened upon your site today and am having a difficult time understanding your stand towards the
LDS church. Looking through the book reviews, it appears that you are promoting many books that cause doubt in the LDS faith or validity of the Book of Mormon. Yet, at the same time you seem to portray a persona of an active LDS individual. Just wondering what your motives or goals are with this site. I've always been interested in delving into the matters of my religion and have taken it upon me to read Nibley when I have time, or critiques of LDS autors and writings found on the Internet. However, with this site I am left wondering as to whether the swaying of the people is to pro or anti Mormon. Could you clarify this for me? Thank you.

Basically, I'm a non-orthodox LDS member. Believe it or not, there are many of us. I'm not trying to promote pro or anti books. I'm trying to promote thought. I hope the items on my site will expand the scope of thought for many people. Reading both sides of the various issues us humans are concerned with has been helpful for me. My "goal", if you can call it that, is to get people to think.

See this page and this one for more.


received 7/28/97
I have yet to meet an anti-Mormon that had anything worthwhile to say on the subject of the validity of the Mormon faith, but after reading your letter and taking a more close look at your page, I think I may have finally found one.

I'll take that as a compliment. ;) However, I don't consider myself to be an "anti-Mormon". Dubbing me as such is about like calling a non-Orthodox Jew an "anti-Semite". I'd consider myself an "anti" of many things--anti-Untruth, anti-Dishonesty, etc., but anti-Mormon isn't one of them.


received 7/26/97
I think you make some interesting points to consider on this page, but perhaps looking at the big poicture would be more helpful.

Looking at the big picture is VERY helpful, and I highly recommend that Mormons and Christians do just that. For instance, when we look at the wealth of knowledge that science has helped provide us with regard to the history of the earth and the various species on this planet, can anyone really still honestly assert (as the Bible and Book of Mormon do) that the earth was created six thousand years ago, that a global flood wiped out all species not on Noah's Ark four thousand years ago, or that the stars are fixed in the "firmament" which rotates around our earth?

There IS no book like the B of M or the Bible that has ever been made up. It is simply too complex. The Koran is not much more than a modified Bible. The big point I think you are missing is the complexity of detail and continuity of storyline.

Actually, there are numerous books like the Book of Mormon, the Bible and the Koran in that they have been entirely or partially made up. I've read fiction that was far more complex (and historically accurate--something which can't be said for the above books). The Book of Mormon when looked at with a critical eye is a simple story and numerous errors were made in the storyline.

The Book of Mormon is much closer to a modified version of the Bible than the Koran. See this page for just a few examples.

Also, did you know that each author of the varios books [in the Book of Mormon] has his own writing style? Many authors study for years to immitate one author's style...it is impossible for JS to have change his writing habit for every writer. Lemme know what you think.

You are referring to the wordprint study done at BYU in the late 70s. You should look into the studies more carefully. I suggest you pick up a copy of both Sunstone, November-December 1980 and March 1981. The various authors in the Book of Mormon are more or less attributable to the portions quoted out of the Bible. Each author of the various books doesn't have his own writing style. The BYU researchers claimed 24 authors (although not for each book as you state above), but if you start to take away the "authors" Joseph Smith quoted out of the KJV of the Bible (Isaiah, the Lord, the Lord as quoted by Isaiah, Jesus, the Father, etc.) you aren't left with many styles in the Book of Mormon. There are other flaws and false assumptions in the Larsen study.

For more on the Book of Mormon problems, you may want to look at this page.


received 7/25/97
After reading this page, a Mormon responds:

The church is not what saves us! The leaders are not who save us! The truth is what sets us free! I know that the gospel found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. All doctrine and truth goes back to our belief in latter-day revelation. What all people are encouraged to know is that God lives, we are His children, Jesus Christ is the literal son of God, and that they have a plan for our happiness. I know these things are true.

What you call "knowledge" is really belief. There is a big difference.

I also know that because Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us so much, they want us to understand the Plan of Salvation, thereby helping us have happiness today and be able to return and live with them again in the future. This is why God has chosen riteous men to serve as his witnesses. They learn truth directly from Him, and testify of this truth to each of us. Finally, the Spirit can confirm truth to each of us. In this way, WE ARE NOT EXPECTED TO BLINDLY FOLLOW THE COUNSEL OF PROPHETS AND APOSTLES. We are expected to pray for ourselves and receive a witness of the truth. After receiving this witness, we are encouraged to obey the truth.

What do you then think of this page?

Joseph Smith was the first prophet of this dispensation. He spent his whole life in service of the Lord. Does this mean he never made a mistake? Does this mean he was always, 100% of the time, speaking for the Lord? Absolutely not! We do not believe the prophets are made perfect after receiving this call. In fact, we know if these witnesses go against the will of God, God will remove them from office immediately. (D&C proclamations) God will keep His word, because He wants each of us to know His truth. He wants each of His children to return and live with Him once again.

This appears to be a contradiction. You state that prophets aren't made perfect but then state that God will remove them if they go against the will of God. Are you saying that God isn't perfect either? You have also resorted to the same circular arguments the page you were referring to points out. You base your belief in prophets on what people claiming to be prophets have told you. If a prophet, in your eyes, gets up and says that God will no longer remove prophets if they disobey God, how will you follow your circular reasoning as to who prophets are and what they do? It's sort of like saying the Bible is God's word because the Bible says it's God's word. If people are gullible enough to stop the questioning there then we should all be writing books that include the phrase, "this book is God's word". In a poof of magic, that book will then become God's "circular" word.

Just as Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, Gordon B. Hinckley is too. You can see this by his actions and by his firm faith in the Lord. The Gospel he preaches is true. Should we just go ahead and believe everything he says, then? Absolutely not! Pray for a confirmation, and the good feelings you've had when hearing the message will be confirmed by the spirit. Consequently, you will make this doctrine a part of your life. Relying on one's own intellect without involving the Father who made us, we cannot and will not find the answers we need and/or are seeking.

I have discussed this issue to some extent here. In case you haven't read enough of my writings, you should know that I can no longer blindly rely on faith. If there is a God that gave me an intellect, I hope that this God would wish me to use it. I have personally found that faith is a ridiculous philosophy for me to continue to base my life on. If God is real, there is no reason for this being to hide. I have prayed my guts out and never received an answer that came from anywhere besides my intellect. You have to remember that I was a theist too (for almost 30 years).

Now comes our part! We know that God lives and that He sent His son Jesus Christ to sacrifice for each of us. Now, we must seek understanding and truth, gain a confirmation that these truths are truly from Heavenly Father, and follow with all of our hearts. People that fall from the church are not following this pattern of conversion. Does this mean the doctrines are not true? No, it means these people are human and that they have fallen short.

You state this as though anyone can walk down the street and visit God. We don't know God lives. We don't know if there even was a Jesus. The idea of someone being killed as some sort of a sacrifice is, in and of itself, barbaric and should cause you to question this God you worship.

People don't fall from the church because they have fallen short. People "fall" from the church for a variety of reasons--including the need to live a life based on reality rather than fantasy and the need to be honest.

Let's focus on the central issue here! I am seeking understanding as to why you write things like your critique to the proclamation of the family on the Net. Are you seeking other people to support you?

Absolutely not. I really could care less what other people believe (except that some of those beliefs lead to actions that are detrimental to the quality of all life on this planet). If faith makes a person happy, then they shouldn't bother reading what I write. I state that very clearly on my introduction page. I wrote my critique on the http://www.lds-mormon.com/potf because the http://www.lds-mormon.com/potf is a very dangerous document that needs to be exposed for what it is. I try to get people to think. I'm not looking for supporters or people who live by faith.

I pray you will go back to the only true source of all, eternal truth: Heavenly Father. The thing that separates this church from all others is that we don't tell people to blindly follow. We tell people that having faith is important, but even more importantly, we tell people they must establish a living relationship with a living Father in Heaven, thereby understanding His truth.

Perhaps you can tell this Father to drop in for a visit once in a while. Is he on vacation, hiding, or is he just not in favor of child support? Sarcasm aside, what you claim isn't blind faith, is blind faith to those of us who take a step back and try to look at the teachings objectively. You aren't speaking to a potential convert who doesn't know Mormonism.

What happens if the truth this Father gives (or rather, what you think this Father gives) is in opposition to what the church leaders teach?

As it says in 2 Nephi 28:30, the minute we stop accepting the truth Heavenly Father gives us, the minute we start forgetting all that we once knew. I have seen it with my dad, and I can see it with people like you. The "happiness" you are now feeling isn't eternal and it will end.

Sure my happiness will end. The day that I die. Are you incorrectly assuming that I would be happier in this life if I remained an orthodox Mormon? FYI, nothing anyone feels is eternal. Our existence ends after about 70 or so years. I'm glad I'm not blowing the entire 70 on Mormon meetings, readings, etc. To quote the famous poet Neil Peart, My "mind is not for rent, To any god or government, Always hopeful, yet discontent". I'm not as discontented as I once was as an active Mormon sweeping doubts and questions under the carpet of faith.

I pray you will share your love and joy and spirit with those that visit your web page instead of sharing negative feelings and thoughts.

Some people think it is a very positive thing to progress--to point out problems that need to be fixed (like doctrines practiced by millions which include commandments to multiply and replenish an already overpopulated earth). Some also think it is a good thing to ask questions, to search for objective truth, and to learn from past mistakes. These aren't negative feelings and thoughts. These are positive feelings and thoughts that help us to become better as individuals and as a species living on this planet.

The church is true, not because of the members, but because Jesus Christ is the true and only leader. May God bless you!

I hope my comments don't offend you. I specifically ask on the email page for people to read the introduction page if they haven't done so already, and I ask that comments include reasoning rather than testimonies and preaching.


received 7/23/97
Why don't you follow up this essay (What is God's Name?) with an essay about when the doctrine that God has a body was first taught. Do not the "Lectures on Faith" teach that God is a spirit? Why do they say nothing about God having a body?

I may do just that if I can find the time. I wasn't in essay writing mode yet when I read the 7 volume "History of the Church". I wish I was. It was clear from reading that history that God (and numerous opinions now held by the church) changed over the years. Someone must have done something on this elsewhere you'd think--like Sunstone or Dialogue?

I was in a Gospel Doctrine class in xxxx, New Jersey some thirty years ago when a faithful member put forth the idea that God having a body was not taught until about 1844, and it did not come from the first vision as was currently being taught in the missionary discussions. He was promptly trounced by all the high councilmen in the class who felt it their duty to snuff this heresy in the bud. (This was before the multiple versions of the first vision came to light.)

Later that afternoon I visited the faithful member in his study where he showed me from his research that this was true.

Isn't it interesting that God got a body of "flesh and bones" at about the same time that polygamy and physical eternal procreation were introduced?

There are alot of things that came together *after* polygamy was practiced in private by Joseph Smith. Eternal progression, eternal marriage, forever families, God's nature, the entire Temple Endowment, etc. were all, more or less, results of Joseph's polygamy. Members probably think that those items caused polygamy but the opposite is true.

Thanks for the message. If you do come across any good sources to be added to the essay, please let me know.


received 7/20/97
I think your site is a marvelous work and a wonder!!
received 7/20/97
Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know how much I appreciated finding your Honest Intellectual Inquiry site.

I have lived in the southeastern U.S. all my life and have long held the free-thought opinions so well represented on your site. However, as you can well imagine, I am in the *vast* minority here, and rarely am afforded the opportunity to speak with others who either share my beliefs or are open-minded enough to at least discuss such thoughts without falling back on "faith" very quickly.

Finding your page truly brightened my day and made me feel not quite so alone in my beliefs/opinions.

I look forward to revisiting your site soon to further explore the many pages and links.

Keep up the good work!!!


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