Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Eight Simple Rules That Led Me Out Of Mormonism

I am working on a few posts but have not been able to get them to the point where I am comfortable with putting them on this site for you. While I continue to work on those, I will give you this to chew on. I found this written on The Mormon Curtain by someone named XTBM. It was done back in 2005 and I could not agree more with it. I don't really like to post stuff that I have not written but hey, why re-invent the wheel?

Eight Simple Rules That Led Me Out Of Mormonism:

Rule 1: Just because someone says something doesn't mean what he/she says is true

I apply this rule to everyone, regardless of intelligence, point of view, etc. Mormon apologists - many highly educated - have all kinds of explanations for seeming contradictions in Mormonism's history. Some people accept these at face value "Oh, see, there are reasonable explanations for all of these problems!" But for a person who is guided by Rule #1, explanations are only as good as the paper they are written on! A rule that leads nicely into Rule 2…

Rule 2: Just because someone intelligent believes something is true doesn't mean it is true

If a high level of intelligence were the most important factor of discovering religious truth, then all - or a majority of - highly intelligent people in the world would hold similar religious beliefs. As it is, the world of religious beliefs is fragmented into thousands of factions, each with its own set of apologists spinning a web of logic designed to entrap their perception of truth upon its strands. There are a lot of smart people in this world who are enlisted in the ranks of the defense of what are often conflicting religious beliefs - quite obviously, not all of them can be right!

Rule 3: Reality-based belief is better than theory-based belief

"Theory" can be used to support almost any belief because all one has to do is come up with an explanation that falls in the realm of plausibility in order for the breath of life to fill a theory's lungs - and plausibility is not all that tough of a standard to reach.

"Reality", on the other hand, is a different beast altogether. The path from "theory" into "reality" is strewn with the lifeless corpses of theories that couldn't withstand the intense scrutiny required for passage. It isn't easy to distinguish between the two because theory-based beliefs are often passed off as being reality-based, but there is value in being aware of when a belief is based in theory as opposed to fact - at the least it helps one avoid the pitfall of holding too tightly to a belief that ultimately ends up being an illusion.

Mormonism is a religion that is high on theory-based belief and short on reality-based belief. The following quote by Daniel Peterson last year in regards to the lack of evidence supporting the Book of Mormon highlights this principle as it relates to the Book of Mormon:

"There is, thus far, little in the way of specific archaeological evidence -- taking archaeological in the sense of artifactual -- for the Book of Mormon. The NHM altars in Yemen may be the best we've got, along with the general accuracy of 1 Nephi's portrayal of Lehi's route along the Arabian coast (via the Valley of Lemuel and the River of Laban, and then through Nahom) to Old World Bountiful. There is, however, considerable philological evidence within the Book of Mormon itself suggestive of its antiquity, and there is a great deal of ancient evidence, artifactual and otherwise, from both the Near East and Mesoamerica, that is consistent with the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon in very specific and striking ways."

Put another way, there is, thus far, little (read: NOTHING) in terms of "reality-based" information to support the Book of Mormon, but there is considerable "theory-based" stuff out there - spun by none other than your friendly, neighborhood apologists.

Rule 4: The definition of "Faith" is NOT ignoring all evidence that is contrary to what you believe

"Faith" is perhaps the single most abused concept in Mormonism. All one has to do is have enough "faith" and the most serious issues facing Mormonism simply fade away into a backdrop of insignificance. The defect is placed with the person, not with the organization - more on that in Rule 5.

But first, for the Biblical definition of faith (this point is about faith as it is presented in Christianity, not on the validity of faith as a principle and the existence of God), let's turn to the oft-quoted standard, Hebrews 11:1 - "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." That definition, though, is incomplete without reading the rest of the chapter where faith is framed as an ACTION-BASED word. It gives many examples of people who were spurred to actions because of their faith: Abel offering a sacrifice, Noah preparing an ark, Moses refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, etc.

Nowhere does it mention that faith is ignoring evidence that contradicts your point of view. Faith is belief that leads to action, not belief in something in spite of its contradictions.

Rule 5: Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed

This rule ties closely with Rule 4 - if faith is belief that leads to action, that faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. After all, if any issue can be dismissed with "faith", then misplaced faith simply becomes a license to believe in error. Scrutinizing information that has the potential to contradict your belief system does not represent a lack of faith; rather, it's a great way to keep "faith" from trapping you into a false paradigm.

If you ask a Mormon why there is "little in the way of specific archaeological evidence…for the Book of Mormon" as Dr. Peterson stated, some will say "it has to be that way - if not, there would be no need for faith!" Faith becomes an escape hatch for belief systems knee-deep in errors.

Rule 6: Spiritual experiences alone do not lead to religious truth

This rule strikes directly at the heart of why many people stay in Mormonism regardless of the issues. People have certain spiritual experiences that they take to mean the Church is "true" beyond a shadow of a doubt. It is not my place or my desire to tell people what God has or hasn't revealed to them, but one thing I strongly believe is that Mormons are not the only people who believe God has revealed the truth to them.

People in religions around the world don't go around dedicating their lives to their religion for trivial reasons - they believe it is for a higher cause. I'm willing to bet that if I went and talked to 10,000 leaders in various religious organizations around the world, a good number of them would give me a similar answer: "I'm only doing the will of God - He as led me here and He has revealed to me the truthfulness of this work. I see His hand in this work."

I'm not God, so I'm not going to pretend I know why this phenomenon exists. But it is apparent that spiritual experiences can result in many, many different interpretations of truth. And, no matter how much a person claims that their spiritual experiences have led them to know their path is the way to truth - and no matter how sincere they are in that belief - that doesn't automatically mean that they are right. And if that's the case, I believe one shouldn't base one's beliefs 100% on spiritual feelings.

Rule 7: Everyone's beliefs are grounded in logic

In the world of Mormonism, logic is often turned into the "bad guy", but the reality is no one can escape logic. People who rely solely on spiritual experiences for the basis of their testimony are relying on logic as well, regardless of whether or not they choose to see it that way. They still have to logically conclude that the spiritual experiences that they've had must mean that the Mormon church is "true". They are using logic to determine that there is NO other possible explanation for their experiences. They are using logic to decide they don't need to consider any other information (i.e. - DNA, archeology, etc) in determining the truthfulness of the Church. Everything that a person believes has to pass through his or her own personal firewall of logic!

Some people claim that "logic and reason will never discover truth." Although this might be true on some levels, I disagree with it as a rule that can be consistently applied to all situations. First, as it relates to Mormonism, I disagree with the unstated assumption that spiritual experiences ALONE are a better way to discover truth - see Rule #6. Second, because even the meaning of spiritual experiences must pass through one's personal system of logic. Finally, I disagree because sometimes (though certainly not always) logic does discover truth. One can use logic and reason to determine the truth about whether or not Joseph Smith married other men's wives, or whether or not he revised revelations, or that the American Indians are primarily (probably even entirely) descendants of Asians, or that the papyrus fragments in existence today were not written in Abraham's time. All of these are truths that have been determined through logic and reason! The real question isn't whether or not these things are true,but what will one do when determining the significance of this information?

Rule 8: I will not allow other people to dictate my life

This rule is what gives meaning to all the other rules - at least in regards to Mormonism. After all, what good is it to know something is false if you aren't willing to abandon the falsehood? Many here have felt the intense pressure applied by family and friends when they discover you no longer believe. Too often, in their eyes, "good" is defined relative to belief in Mormonism - it doesn't really matter what type of life you lead, if you don't believe in Mormonism, you are in the grips of evil!

This outside pressure can vary in intensity depending on one's personal situation and it causes some people to live a life that is not in harmony with their underlying beliefs - an "active" Mormon who doesn't believe in Mormonism's claims of truth. I will not fake belief to appease anyone because as soon as I do so, I have lost control of my life and, at that point, what good is that kind of life?

Each of us at some point must decide if we will live life on our own terms or if we will live it on someone else's terms. For some people, this rule is easy to live by, but for me it has been extremely difficult - and, after reading this board for quite some time now, I don't think I'm the only one who has struggled with this issue. Too many people feel their belief system is superior to your own, even when it is riddled with issues that contradict the "simple rules" that you live by…

Any other rules that you live by that caused you to lose you belief in Mormonism?


  1. That was very informative. You ought to add "The Mormon Curtain" to your blog list IMHO.

  2. Your reasons for renouncing Mormonism are sound. I sincerely hope you will not eventually throw the baby out with the bath water. Christianity is based on faith beyond our knowledge, for sure, but never against our knowledge. You paraphrased our (Christian Research & Counsel) slogan, "Belief without proof is faith. Belief in spite of proof is folly." I think you might appreciate the information on our web site at http://crcmin.org/brochnonlds1.html . On that page, you'll find a brochure titled "Heavenly Father's Plan for You . . . according to the Bible." It has a more thorough explanation than the routine plan of salvation tracts one usually finds.

  3. Tom,
    The link looks like it has some interesting information on it. I will take a closer look at it over the next few days. Please go to my "contact me" section and email me so I can contact you privately once I am done reading your material. I'm sure I'll have some questions or comments for you.

    I hope you will continue to visit and offer your views on the different subjects I touch on.