The Mormon Apogee of Affirming the Consequent

From Wikipedia:

Affirming the consequent, sometimes called converse error or fallacy of the converse, is a formal fallacy of inferring the converse from the original statement. The corresponding argument has the general form:

  1. If P, then Q.
  2. Q.
  3. Therefore, P.

An argument of this form is invalid, i.e., the conclusion can be false even when statements 1 and 2 are true. Since P was never asserted as the only sufficient condition for Q, other factors could account for Q (while P was false).

If you understand the above, now read the following and try to convince me that it is not a textbook case of affirming the consequent:

Moroni 10:4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

In proposition form:

  1. If you ask god if the Book of Mormon is true, god will confirm it through a feeling.
  2. You feel something.
  3. The Book of Mormon is true.

Could your feeling be due to virtually infinite alternative causes?  Absolutely.

And if you don’t feel something?  You did it wrong.

The irony of this just struck me: the core logic of the missionary message is a logical fallacy.  🙂



I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

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158 Responses

  1. Parker says:

    “First you have faith, then you approach God in that faith and then He confirms your faith.”

    If I have faith, why do I need confirmation that I have faith?

  2. To strengthen (or further develop) your faith. The gospel generates faith, maintains faith and further develops it.

    That’s why it’s called exercise. Exercising faith develops it, just as exercising a muscle develops the muscle.

  3. Vajra says:

    I read your remarks in that thread. I don’t think your argument holds water. That is all.

  4. Holly says:


    To strengthen (or further develop) your faith. The gospel generates faith, maintains faith and further develops it.

    That’s why it’s called exercise. Exercising faith develops it, just as exercising a muscle develops the muscle.

    It’s so often invoked in situations like these that it’s too easy, really, but I must nonetheless cite Lewis Carroll, who easily sums up the anarchist’s basic approach:

    Oh, don’t go on like that!’ cried the poor Queen, wringing her hands in despair. ‘Consider what a great girl you are. Consider what a long way you’ve come to-day. Consider what o’clock it is. Consider anything, only don’t cry!’

    Alice could not help laughing at this, even in the midst of her tears. ‘Can you keep from crying by considering things?’ she asked.

    ‘That’s the way it’s done,’ the Queen said with great decision: ‘nobody can do two things at once, you know. Let’s consider your age to begin with — how old are you?’

    ‘I’m seven and a half, exactly.’

    ‘You needn’t say “exactly”,’ the Queen remarked. ‘I can believe it without that. Now I’ll give you something to believe. I’m just one hundred and one, five months and a day.’

    ‘I can’t believe that!’ said Alice.

    ‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’

    Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’

    ‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

    Given how prodigiously the anarchist exercises his ability to believe the impossible, I have every confidence that he never stops believing impossible things. It’s the only thing that explains the bravado with which he asks others to accept his assertions as anything approaching sense.

    Particularly since he exercises his faith at the neglect of his reason. It’s not much use to be someone with massively powerful legs and utterly puny arms.

  5. Suzanne Neilsen says:

    In response to comments 113 & 114.
    You guys need to check out Zoe Caldwell’s kick ass portrayal of Medea.
    Among other things, ” Medea” to me pointed out the shallowness of Mormon scripture. Other patriarchal cultures noticed there were woman. Yet in the Book of Mormon, the PoGP, and D&C, there is no one remotely like Medea.
    I wonder what would have happened if Joseph Smith would have told Medea that she needed to cleave unto Joseph or she shall be destroyed.
    Now there’s some Church History I would have enjoyed.

  6. Holly says:

    I’ll try to find that, Suzanne. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Not only is there no one like Medea in any of Mormon scripture, there’s no one like Jael or Rahab or Deborah, to name just a few women from the OT. It’s pretty strong proof to me of the fictional nature of Joseph’s works–women aren’t there because it didn’t occur to him to incorporate them into his story more often, or to give them names when he did mention them.

    It’s also proof of his unfitness to lead. A decent prophet of a decent god would not be so oblivious to women as human beings.

  7. m0rb2hk301 says:

  1. March 17, 2013

    […] answer (1) no, (2) yes, (3) only if you have some reason to want to do that, (4) see this post, (5) yes, (6) well, I can’t believe that such a god would deserve worship, (7) WTF??? (8) […]

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