One of the fun things about watching people try to argue religion *from an outside perspective* is that you can see the low blows people will make without feeling personally hurt anymore. Non-Mormon Christians will often point to the doubtful historicity of the Book of Mormon and then say, “Aha!” as if it means anything. You can shake it off and then look at a more interesting phenomenon: how Mormon apologists respond…Mormon apologists, instead of defending a tenuous historicity…will point out that the history may not be there…but that it doesn’t *have* to be there.
For example, this is a short little skirmish on the issue.
So…the way to justify Mormonism is to show that…Christianity and the Bible too have holes in historicity?
I wrote earlier at my blog, Irresistible (Dis)Grace, about this phenomenon of Mormons not only leaving the church but dropping out of Christianity as a whole. Is it a wonder? Do people wonder how others get to the point where they say, as a friend of our own Chanson has said: “If the (Mormon) Church isn’t true, then none of them are?” (Actually, you can see an interesting effect, I think, even though I’ve not done any statistical research on it…are Mormons more sympathetic to the Catholic church? Or how about the Orthodox church, which precedes even the Catholics? Because if Mormonism is not true, then it could be that there was no apostasy…meaning the source…Catholicism or Orthodoxy…still has the priesthood.)
Consider…the church spends an awful lot of time promoting this idea that it is the only restored fulness of the Gospel. Even if they don’t say it explicitly now (if they don’t), there’s definitely this idea of Apostasy…a losing of the way, etc., that requires everyone else to be wrong. Mormonism patches the holes that were perverted by the development of mainstream Christianity, so to speak. So if Mormonism is wrong, then really, that just means there’s a hole in the straight and narrow path that has not been patched!
But beyond that…now, we have warfare against the religions. This is something I have detested when I was actively involved, because I was on the battlefield, but now that I’m off the battlefield, it’s fascinating to watch.
If you notice, it’s not just different sects of Christianity either. All religions seem to do it to each other. So…it’s like, in each of their own special ways, they try to prove the other false (I’ve seen some curious Muslim criticisms of the Trinity, for example, or for the necessity of Christ’s actual sacrifice — which essentially is seen as human sacrifice — as a saving measure.) but no religion is proven correct because they cannot defend themselves from the other criticisms.
I guess I have to go back to the beginning. It’s not fair to say that churches *only* spend time discrediting the others. Churches also spend time trying to show how their doctrines somehow hold up against criticism. People have remarked throughout historicity (err, history) about taking an all-or-nothing approach: The Book of Mormon must be the greatest book ever or it must be the worst deception ever. Joseph Smith must be a true Prophet of the restoration or he is an abject fraud. And obviously, the GAs are rooting for truthfulness. It’s their job.
But then you have this new problem…apologetics. This is another smorgasbord of fun for outside viewers, because you can see how people squirm around the documents. But this, too, happens for all religions, so it’s nothing special. Isn’t it interesting, though, how apologetics can make things more convoluted? When I read certain apologist works, the logical acrobatics the particular apologist must go through makes me dizzy…it makes me wonder if they actually have a grasp on things. Are they trying to show a connection that desperately does not exist?
In the end, I feel liberated when I don’t try to force the issues. If I don’t believe, there’s no need to jump around and try to make myself. If things make sense, then I can adopt those things. I do not belittle those whose faith makes sense for them, but I point out that it doesn’t convince me, so I shouldn’t be marginalized as “evil” or “doomed.”