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Kevin Graham

Can Mormons leave for legitimate reasons?

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Perhaps this is why we call everyone who questions our belief, "anti-Mormon."

I don't call everyone who questions my beliefs "anti-Mormon." I don't know anybody who does, but I know that I don't.

Are any conclusions ever properly defined as "purely intellectual"?

Certainly. To conclude, when one has added two oranges to the two oranges that one already had, that one now has four oranges, is quite straightforwardly rational. Elementary logic is like that, too. If "All men are mortal" and "Socrates is a man," it follows quite directly and beyond debate that "Socrates is mortal." But very few issues of any importance are so simple.

For instance, when Marie Curie concluded that Radium was in fact a unique element, did she make an intellectual conclusion based on "knowledge," or was it also a mixture of her psychological past that played a part?

Conclusions in the experimental physical sciences (e.g., chemical analyses) can be fairly objectively demonstrated, but in this they are rather different from conclusions in the non-experimental sciences (e.g., cosmology), quite different from conclusions in the social sciences (e.g. anthropology), and utterly different from fields like history -- to say nothing of areas such as literary and art criticism.

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So, my experience was certainly not "purely intellectual" or "knowlegde"-based -- in fact I am not even sure you can really seperate the "intellectual" from the "emotional" that well -- but I think it was legitimate. It was done rationally, reasonably, and fairly. It was done with careful and thoughtful consideration. It was done with plenty of thinking about the future. If was done honestly. It was done introspectively and inductively, with no real reliance or trust of outside "information" or "knowledge."

I think it is possible to just decide a church is not worth the time...once the belief is gone it woudn't be any different than leaving an unsatisfying job. Every family has members who have drifted away...I have not had experiences with a lot of angst and anger so I always assumed that was the norm until I came to the internet. Those I knew simply went on to other satisfying things and didnt' look back.

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When I was on my mission, I was assigned to home teach a woman who had recently divorced and gone inactive with her 2 children, who were fast approaching the age of accountability.

We were asked to encourage her to start attending. Incidentally, our local building was being renovated, so we were meeting in the stake center with two other wards.

On our first visit, we spent some time building a relationship of trust, then I approached the subject of her Church inattendance. She told me that when married, her husband and her visiting teacher had fallen in love, and he divorced her. Now, her ex-husband and ex-visiting teacher were married and attending a ward that meets in the stake center, and it was just too painful for her and her kids to see them together. So, they didn't go to Church.

That sounded like a good, legitimate reason to not attend Church to me, so I just asked her to commit to attend Church when our building was finished.

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== I don't call everyone who questions my beliefs "anti-Mormon." I don't know anybody who does, but I know that I don't

This was generally speaking. But can you think of any critic of the faith who hasn't been referred to as anti-Mormon? I can't.

== Certainly. To conclude, when one has added two oranges to the two oranges that one already had, that one now has four oranges, is quite straightforwardly rational. Elementary logic is like that, too. If "All men are mortal" and "Socrates is a man," it follows quite directly and beyond debate that "Socrates is mortal." But very few issues of any importance are so simple.

So there are qualifications? A decision made can only be considered "intellectual," so long as it can be fairly and objectively demonstrated? I'm sorry, but I don't find this qualification anywhere in the dictionary. Plus, it begs the question as to which conclusion is fairly and objectively demonstrated. I have a hard time believing this can be confined to the physical sciences alone. Is it a fairly and objectively demonstrated fact that horses never existed on the moon? I think so.

And I'm certain that most people think the conclusion that horses did not exist in Ancient America is fairly and objectively demonstrated. If the experts conclude that horses didn't exist until the 15th century, where is their subjectivity coming from? Assuming bias isn't enough, it has to be pin-pointed.

I think we're getting off on tangents here, but the original claim by Beowulf was that ex-Mormons never leave for intellectual reasons nor because of knowledge gained. He offered no "purely" qualifier as you did. So, is it safe to say that you agree ex-Mormons could leave the Church for reasons that are at the very least, partially intellectual? If so, then we cannot fault ex-Mormons when they claim to leave the Church for intellectual reasons (how many actually say "purely intellectual" reasons?). The adjective can, after all, simply mean "of or relating to the intellect." Therefore, any decision is rightly called an intellectual decision. Intellectual also implies rationalism as opposed to an appeal to emotion. Emotion plays a huge part in the LDS testimony, so perhaps this is a reason why so many ex-Mormons prefer this term. It distinguishes their belief from the LDS testimony, which is, for the most part, grounded in emotion.

The reason I reacted the way I did to Beowulf, was because it seems we're trying to set up boundaries on the term intellectual. For some reason we don't want ex-Mormons using that term to describe their reasons for leaving. I don't think we can do that. If we do, we only embarrass ourselves.

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Here is the crux of the issue: If you no longer believe Mormonism, THEN JUST GO! As they say - P*** OFF! Why do you have to come back to taunt Mormons if you no longer believe, and why do you have to be a drone constantly justifying yourself? Worried about something? Not sure if you're really right about leaving? Have some lingering doubts it "might" be true? Want to be a "saviour" to Mormons, to "rescue" them from delusion? Let's turn the tables, do YOU have a legitimate reasons to come back here and try to dissuade Mormons from their beliefs?

Of course I speak to myself, because for four years now I've been coming back to LDS boards, actually, this July is five years. But I make no bones about the fact that I have plenty of lingering doubts! And yes, I did torment Mormons. Now it's time to admit why I'm really still on these boards. In every believer there are lingering doubts, as in every unbeliever there are lingering doubts. And if you don't have any, then why not go on a Catholic or JW board and try to dissuade them? Not the same? No need to justify yourself there, because you really think it's rot? Gee, Mormonism must be an amazing religion to bring so many back in such a state of mind. Okay, off you go, let's hear the usual rant about "cult" and the need to "save the world".

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But can you think of any critic of the faith who hasn't been referred to as anti-Mormon? I can't.

I would never term Richard Mouw an anti-Mormon. Nor Douglas Davies. Nor Craig Blomberg. Nor Larry Foster. Nor Jan Shipps. Nor David Trobisch. Nor Kenneth Winn. Nor would I have called Thomas O'Dea an anti-Mormon. Nor Wallace Stegner. There, off the top of my head, are nine -- all of whom have written critically of Mormonism and/or of the Church, but none of whom I've ever heard referred to as an anti-Mormon.

A decision made can only be considered "intellectual," so long as it can be fairly and objectively demonstrated? I'm sorry, but I don't find this qualification anywhere in the dictionary.

Sigh. I've never suggested that there is a simple black and white dichotomy between "intellectual decisions" and "non-intellectual decisions," with nothing in between. I've said, several times, that, apart from a few very simple and usually rather trivial decisions or conclusions (usually of the type that a computer can reach), the vast majority of conclusions and decisions are reached on the basis of a mix of factors. (There are also, of course, some conclusions and decisions that would have to be viewed as completely non-rational or irrational. But I'm not talking about those.)

Plus, it begs the question as to which conclusion is fairly and objectively demonstrated.

The nature of "objective demonstration" is a big topic in such areas as the philosophy of science. I realize that books could be written on the topic. Books have been written on the topic. I don't intend to write one -- and certainly not on a message board thread.

I chose the distinction between experimental physical sciences, on the one hand, and history, on the other, as a sort of shorthand. A conclusion reached on the basis of an objective chemical litmus test is quite distinctly different from a conclusion about the principal causes of the First World War derived from a lengthy discussion of selected documentary evidence. I don't think that kind of distinction is particularly difficult to see, and I certainly don't believe it's controversial.

And I'm certain that most people think the conclusion that horses did not exist in Ancient America is fairly and objectively demonstrated. If the experts conclude that horses didn't exist until the 15th century, where is their subjectivity coming from? Assuming bias isn't enough, it has to be pin-pointed.

It comes from their humanity. That's where we all are. Our knowledge is limited. We are, as it were, "dated and placed." working from within specific contexts and information-horizons. Those who conclude that horses didn't exist in pre-Columbian America during historic times do so on the basis of probabilities, not on the basis of conclusive proof. (I doubt that any of them would deny that.) Believers in the Book of Mormon have what they regard as another piece of evidence, ignored or disregarded by the other side, which causes them to doubt the mainstream consensus -- and which also causes them to take another look at relevant issues of C-14 dating and of comparative historical semantics. Both positions are rational. Neither (yet) has the evidence for a knock-out blow. (In that regard, the task for believers in the Book of Mormon is actually -- at least theoretically speaking -- easier than that for those who maintain that no horses existed in historic times in the Americas prior to their introduction by Europeans: It is effectively impossible to prove a negative; one authenticated pre-Columbian horse bone, dated to the right period, would conclusively prove the positive.)

A person looking at the evidence and considering whether to trust the Book of Mormon or not needs to make a decision (even perhaps a decision to suspend judgment) under conditions of imperfect information. How he or she chooses to weigh what information we do have will depend on a multitude of factors. Sin, or a desire to sin, cannot be ruled out as one of those factors. Nor can spiritual experiences or a lack thereof, arrogance, anger at a bishop, loyalty to parents, love for the text of the Book of Mormon, disdain for Mormon doctrine, prior commitments, predispositions dating from childhood, characteristic personal habits of thinking, and a whole host of other matters.

You seem to want to quarrel with me regarding this matter. I don't understand why. My position seems to me pretty unobjectionable. Merely common sense.

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Kevin, I'm not talking to you in particular. In fact I didn't even have you in mind, but some of the others who like to come here to torment Mormons, as one RF previously did. I'll leave it open and let any reply who feel my post applies to them. I think it is relevant, because this is debate, and legitimacy can apply both ways. So let's not narrow the "terms of reference", which were not stated anyway, and allow some psychology (or reverse psychology) of belief/disbelief to have some interplay in this debate. I think it is legitimate to "cross-examine" motives.

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Why, when confronted, say, with evidence regarding horses in the Book of Mormon and pre-Columbian America, does one group of reasonably intelligent and sane people reject the Book of Mormon while another group, possessed of similar intelligence and likewise sane, does not reject the Book of Mormon? Why do the two groups weigh and weight evidence differently? It is, I think, ridiculous and counterintuitive to suggest that factors such as personal history, background, experiences, hopes, precommitments, habits of thought, unique psychological qualities, etc., etc. -- yes, and including but not limited to spiritual experiences (or a lack thereof) -- play no role in such matters. On both sides.

I've said, and I'll say it again, that I do not believe that any human who lives today or who has ever lived is a purely rational propositional-calculus computer.

QUOTE 

In the case of group A (LDS who remain faithful), a bedrock LDS principle must be acknowledged. Mainly, that we do so for other reasons (such as spiritual); none of which are in any sense classified as "intellectual." Therefore, it seems rather disingenuous for us to deny an ex-Mormon "intellectual" claims when in fact we are the ones who are basing a belief on factors other than purely factual "knowledge" (i.e. spiritual, emotional, etc.).  As for why both parties do not come to the same conclusion, one could just as easily argue that the LDS faithful have too much to lose, therefore they don't believe it because they don't want to. We do like these types of ESP drawn conclusions anymore than ex-Mormons do.

I do not believe that those who leave the Church are any more purely rational than are those who remain. At the very beginning of this thread, I wrote that

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our perceptions are always colored by our own individual personal history, character, knowledge, ignorance, desires, mental and emotional health, ambitions, etc. So no decision to accept the gospel or to reject it is likely to be purely rational, uncolored by "personal" factors.

You fundamentally misunderstand me if you think that I'm arguing that all who leave the Church are irrational, while those who do not are purely rational. I'm not sure that I'm capable of denying that any more clearly than I already have.

QUOTE 

Before we assume ex-Mormons are the ones with non-intellectual baggage that taints their perspective,

An assumption that I do not make -- not, at least, in the sense that I think "non-intellectual baggage" is unique to ex-Mormons. It is, I say again, the universal and inescapable condition of all human minds.

The above interchange sums up what I intended to say. In probably a more measured response than I was capable of on Friday.

I have been away all weekend (went to Seattle to watch my 16-year-old son audition for a summer ballet program), and come back to find myself either being demonized for being a rigid idiot, or lauded for saying the obvious. (sigh)

Kevin believes that I never answered his query. Well, I did, using only the sample of people that I personally know, plus asample of more famous people who I have read about (such as Samuel Clemens) who have lost faith in God. In not a single case is their decision to leave the Church or disbelieve in God based on intellectual foundations. NOT ONE.

This is not my mind-reading or psychoanalysis (I hate the term!). This is observation.

As you may recall (or not), my original comment that Kevin so heavily jumped on was on a thread asking if PhDs in religion studies can remain in the Church. My response? Of course they can. If they do not, it is for another reason, not intellectual. And I think this applies to anyone leaving the Church.

I did not condemn anyone. Or accuse anyone of sinning.

Perhaps Kevin is misunderstanding what I meant about "demons". This is not the ancient idea of evil spirits. Nor is it the more modern implication of evil sins concealed. My use of it is the more psychoanalitical (there's that ugly word again) idea of people holding various emotions in their lives. My sister I mentioned, for example, no longer believes after experiencing two terrible husbands in a row. She is bitter. Do I blame her? No. I understand completely where she is at. But I do not have to listen to her "intellectual" explanations about why the Church is not true. I know the reasons are different.

I never intended to offend anyone. But as Dr. Petersen said, we are not robots. Everything we do is colored by our emotional environment. Even the great skeptics on this board such as MC or noel00.

Even me.

Beowulf

P.S.: I mentioned this thread Saturday night in an e-mail to my friend Bill Hamblin (yes, I have known him for many years, longer than many of you have been alive :P ). His response was succinct, and typically outrageous: "Never tell an apostate he did not leave the church for purely intellectual reasons. He will be outraged because he "knows" that he is intellectual while you have only stayed in the church based on pure emotion."

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I note that someone here tried to "psychoanalyze" Kevin Graham for why his attack on me was so vehement.

As long as we are delving into psyches, I should say that it has nothing to do with the FAIR board. I think it goes back a couple of months ago when I dared to oppose one of Kevin's occasional blasts against all things Islamic. I think he may have had it in for me since that time, ready to jump on me for being bigoted against former Mormons (in the same way, I presume, that he is bigoted against all Muslims?).

I am not, btw. I thought I made it clear that I have sympathy for all former Mormons whom I personally know. I reserve judgment on the ones that I don't know, such as some on this board, but I suspect that when I become acquainted with them better, I will feel the same for them, too.

Is that better?

Beowulf

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I have not had time to read through all of this thread, but I would like to add my .02 about those who decide to leave the church. I may be in the minority here, but I believe anyone can leave any church for any reason they want and it is a legitimate reason. Not liking the paint job in the cultural hall is a good enough reason to leave the church. In fact, no reason needs to be given. I know this sounds corny, but this is the United States, not Iran. Grown up people make decisions that they think best for themselves, and are under no obligation to explain themselves.

Now, flame away. :P

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When I was on my mission, I was assigned to home teach a woman who had recently divorced and gone inactive with her 2 children, who were fast approaching the age of accountability.

I am rather curious. how did you get assigned as a home teacher while on your mission?

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Hi Dan,

== I would never term Richard Mouw an anti-Mormon. Nor Douglas Davies. Nor Craig Blomberg. Nor Larry Foster. Nor Jan Shipps. Nor David Trobisch. Nor Kenneth Winn. Nor would I have called Thomas O'Dea an anti-Mormon. Nor Wallace Stegner. There, off the top of my head, are nine -- all of whom have written critically of Mormonism and/or of the Church, but none of whom I've ever heard referred to as an anti-Mormon.

Fair enough. But aside from Blomberg and Shipps, how many LDS are in any way familiar with the rest? I'd guess less than 1% of the Mormon membership has read anything about the others to even make an informed judgment as to whether or not they are critical of the faith. But since we're on the subject, what makes a critic no longer a critic, but instead an anti-Mormon? What makes JP Holding an anti-Mormon? How is it that Richard Mouw can participate with several notorious anti-Mormons in the anti-Mormon film produced by anti-Mormon IRR, yet remain a somethig other than an anti? I'm genuinely curious, not trying to be quarrelsome.

And BTW, Jan Shipps is listed on Russel Anderson's "Authors of anti-Mormon works" website: http://www.lightplanet.com/response/anti-authors.htm

== Sigh. I've never suggested that there is a simple black and white dichotomy between "intellectual decisions" and "non-intellectual decisions," with nothing in between.

Which is why I asked the question, for clarification.

== The nature of "objective demonstration" is a big topic in such areas as the philosophy of science. I realize that books could be written on the topic. Books have been written on the topic. I don't intend to write one -- and certainly not on a message board thread.

True enough, and I tried to veer off of this and get back on track to the main issue at hand: Can ex-Mormons leave for reasons that are at least partially intellectual? You didn't respond to this, nor the last paragraph. I'm genuinely curious if you'd agree with it. This whole ordeal, after all, circles around the dispute as to whether or not ex-Mormons can rightfully claim to have left for "intellectual" reasons. By definition of the term, I argue that they can. You argue that they cannot do so for "purely intellectual" reasons. This seems to leave plenty of room open for what Beowulf's position did not allow. Mainly that intellectual reasons can and do play a role in an ex-Mormon's decision to leave the faith. I'm not comfortable saying any particular class of people is incapable of making a rational decision in regards to their faith. Rational, meaning intellectual. If ex-Mormons cannot make intellectual decisions to leave the faith, then isn't it equally true that LDS converts are incapable of making a rational or intellectual decision by joining the faith?

== You seem to want to quarrel with me regarding this matter. I don't understand why. My position seems to me pretty unobjectionable. Merely common sense.

Well, you didn't answer my question that would have pretty much made your position perfectly clear. You recently said that you and I probably don't disagree so much on the Islam subject as it might appear, and I think the same holds true in this instance. This is why I'm asking clarifying questions, to make sure we're really not so far apart as it may seem. For the record, I never denied that all humans have non-intellectual variables that factor in their decision making. Of course they do. But I'm not sure this means intellectual decisions cannot be made - Beowulf's position. Again, the dispute is over whether or not ex-Mormons can rightfully claim to have made an intellectual decision in their apostasy. By definition of the term, they most certainly can. By definition, all decisions are intellectual, including the decision to get baptized.

And you never really disagreed with this. You only said that "purely" intellectual decisions could never be made. I look forward to your feedback.

Beowulf,

== Kevin believes that I never answered his query. Well, I did, using only the sample of people that I personally know, plus asample of more famous people who I have read about (such as Samuel Clemens) who have lost faith in God. In not a single case is their decision to leave the Church or disbelieve in God based on intellectual foundations. NOT ONE.

This is absurd. You made a blanket statement that says every single ex-Mormon on the planet fits into your little (mis)characterization, and to prove it you offer your psychoanalysis of a very few you happen to know personally. Your response does nothing to vindicate your initial claim. You made it perfectly clear that ex-Mormons (not just the ones you know) do not leave for intellectual reasons. Even more puzzling is your statement that they do not leave because of "knowledge." You essentially tried to hijack the concept of knowledge and intellectual in a manner that would forbid ex-Mormons from using it. Your attempt failed miserably, and you might want to look over Wade's recent lesson on the fallacy of inductive reasoning here: http://www.fairboards.org/index.php?showtopic=6643&st=120

This is truly great stuff. In fact, I'm compelled to quote it:

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Fair enough. But aside from Blomberg and Shipps, how many LDS are in any way familiar with the rest? I'd guess less than 1% of the Mormon membership has read anything about others to even make a judgment as to whether or not they are critical of the faith.

How many LDS have heard of John L. Smith, Dennis Wright, Preston Condra, James Spencer, Bill Schnoebelen, Clodette Woodhouse, Timothy Oliver, Kurt Van Gorden ©, Isaiah Bennett, John Weldon, Latayne Colvett Scott, Floyd McElveen, John Farkas, or most of the rest of the teeming anti-Mormon menagerie? Many Latter-day Saints probably couldn't even identify the eminent comparative religionist "Dr." Walter Martin, the world famous Egyptologist "Dr." "Dr." Dee Jay Nelson, or the screen sensation Ed Decker.

But since we're on the subject, what makes a critic no longer a critic, but instead an anti-Mormon? What makes JP Holding an anti-Mormon? How is it that Richard Mouw can participate with several notorious anti-Mormons in the anti-Mormon film produced by anti-Mormon IRR, yet remain a somethig other than an anti?

The people for whom I reserve the term anti-Mormon typically have a kind of crusade going. They participate with ministries, tabloids, lecture series, radio programs, television shows, curriculum projects, and the like that are designed to dissuade people from accepting Mormonism and, where possible, to detach Latter-day Saints from the Church. At the very least, they appear on message boards such as this with the same purpose in view.

Richard Mouw, Craig Blomberg, and the others don't do that.

And BTW, Jan Shipps is listed on Russel Anderson's "Authors of anti-Mormon works"

That strikes me as strange. I know Jan. I disagree with her on quite a few things, but we get along fine. She's even written for the FARMS Review. (We had to make special allowance for the lamentable absence of lying, snarling, and viciousness in her essay.) I can't control what somebody might call her, any more than I can keep Tal Bachman from calling me a mentally ill and psychologically crippled sociopath with Nazi leanings. (I'm not making this up.)

Can ex-Mormons leave for reasons that are at least partially intellectual? You didn't respond to this, nor the last paragraph. I'm genuinely curious if you'd agree with it.

I've actually responded to this issue in virtually every post I've written on this thread.

I'm not comfortable saying any particular class of people is incapable of making a rational decision in regards to their faith.

Nor am I. That's why I haven't said it.

Rational, meaning intellectual. If ex-Mormons cannot make intellectual decisions to leave the faith, then isn't it equally true that LDS converts are incapable of making a rational or intellectual decision by joining the faith?

I've addressed this very issue repeatedly.

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Hi Dan,

== How many LDS have heard of John L. Smith, Dennis Wright...

Exactly. But wouldn't you agree that "anti-Mormon" is the preferred application among LDS in general? This was my point, after all. We have a tendency to label negatively to virtually anyone that criticizes (When I say "we," of course, I am speaking of LDS in general - not to insist that this must be how all LDS view it, including yourself).

== The people for whom I reserve the term anti-Mormon typically have a kind of crusade going. They participate with ministries, tabloids, lecture series, radio programs, television shows, curriculum projects, and the like that are designed to dissuade people from accepting Mormonism and, where possible, to detach Latter-day Saints from the Church. At the very least, they appear on message boards such as this with the same purpose in view. Richard Mouw, Craig Blomberg, and the others don't do that.

I like that definition, though it must be extremely difficult to make distinctions for those who occasionally cross these lines (i.e. Mouw and Blomberg). I personally had a hard time applying the term to JP Holding when I started responding to his book. I bent over backwards to come up with existing differences between him and others anti-Mormon ministries, just so I could create a personalized definition of the term that wouldn't apply to him. I think in virtually all cases we apply this arbitrarily since anything against us can be considered "anti." For this reason I now have a tendency to drop it altogether. I even got rid of my url that had it in the title. You hear more and more critics complaining about it, and I'm not so sure they don't have a good reason to.

== That strikes me as strange.

Same here. I came across that months ago and it left me scratching my head. But it is one of the things that made me consider the possibility that we're taking this anti-Mormon thing a bit too far (generally speaking again - not saying you do it).

== I've actually responded to this issue in virtually every post I've written on this thread.

Actually, you never answered the question pertaining to a decision being partially intellectual (I'm not complaining about it). I just don't want to get the wrong inference from something you may or may not have implied.

== Nor am I. That's why I haven't said it

I know you haven't. Beowulf implied it.

== I've addressed this very issue repeatedly.

Hmm. OK. So without going back and reviewing everything that has been written, I'll go ahead and assume it is true that you do not believe an LDS convert choice to join the Church is a rational or intellectual decision. In the absence of correction, I'll assume you agree with this.

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But wouldn't you agree that "anti-Mormon" is the preferred application among LDS in general?

No, I wouldn't.

So without going back and reviewing everything that has been written, I'll go ahead and assume it is true that you do not believe an LDS convert choice to join the Church is a rational or intellectual decision. In the absence of correction, I'll assume you agree with this.

You would be better served, if you really want to understand my position, to go back and read what I've written. I've said it as clearly as I'm capable of saying it. I can't think of any new way to say it, and see no reason to repeat what I've already written since what I've written has clearly failed to explain what I have in mind.

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Psychologically speaking a truely rational and a truely irrational decision/judgment would be seen as the extremes of a spectrum of decisons that are part rational based and part irrational based. And most likely in reality such complete detachment from one or the other would be viewed as at least neurotic and possibly psychotic.

There are emotional and rational components to every inner experience. Healthy individuals are not capable of compartmentalizing so completely to avoid this. Discussions of the emotions or intellect as somehow being separate from each other is a convenient abstract for discussion, but does not exist in reality (anymore than a 'point' or the number '1' does).

A safe assumption to make when one is discussing "intellectual judgment" is to assume that the emotional aspects of the decision don't have sufficient weight to significantly influence the outcome, but it is not accurate to assume they are not present. Nor is it accurate to discount them completely as they will likely have some influence on how the outcome is achieved.

And I'd say clinically speaking, the vast majority of important decisions in our daily lives have strong emotional (irrational) dimension to them. This is part of what makes them important to us. The only times one can 'escape' this attachment is when one is dealing in the abstract and/or nonmeaningful (as in being perceived as having no impact on one's emotional or personal life) which some areas of science qualify for (1+1=2 doesn't have value meaning in the abstract form it is discussed in mathematics, but certainly has meaning when talking about concrete family arrangments) or when one has disengaged themselves from life (either mental or emotional illness).

I would personally refrain from describing someone's concious decision to discard a belief system they were committed to (as opposed to those that just get in the habit of inactivity and drift away) as rational or irrational, but rather refer to it as meaningful and personal (anything that has an impact on our lives is "personal"). The meaning will vary depending on who is evaluating it and will most likely vary over time, sometimes significantly. General terms are rather useless in this case anyway due to the individual characteristics of each decision.

But wouldn't you agree that "anti-Mormon" is the preferred application among LDS in general?
I find it interesting how little I hear this term outside of apologetic forums. Even in discussions about the protestors around temples, it is rare for this term to be used in my experience. Others may have a different experience as language customs/habits vary widely from place to place.

From what I've read of Beowulf's comments, it seems to me that the implications of his comments is that while intellectual issues may be present, it is still the emotional dimension that gives it the weight to 'drive' someone out of the Church even if it is central to the decision to leave. IOW, how important an intellectual problem is depends on our emotional investments at the time (struggling over a mathmatical problem for the fun of it isn't likely to cause cognitive dissonance as much as if our entrance into a grad program is depending on solving the problem). The emotional content is supplied by our perceived experience, not our factual knowledge. Using the horse example, those who are not in a state of great spiritual thirst may use that idea as the trigger of their decision not to investigate the Church. Someone who is really making an effort looking for the Spirit will much more likely focus on some spiritual aspect or information (such as the doctrine of personal revelation or the nature of God). I'd also say that for the person who the intellectual information is truely important, they won't stop at the first answer they get and assume that it's right but try to expand their search to consider the most data possible as if it's truely important to them, they won't want to make a mistake. Judgment is then determined by what is important to the person asking the question and importance and meaning are...again...emotionally driven.

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== You would be better served, if you really want to understand my position, to go back and read what I've written. I've said it as clearly as I'm capable of saying it. I can't think of any new way to say it, and see no reason to repeat what I've already written since what I've written has clearly failed to explain what I have in mind.

Which is why I am asking a very specific yes/no question. I want to make sure I understand you correctly. Wouldn't a simple yes or no have been easier than writing all of that? :P

But I'm sure I understand you now. You do not believe decisions to join the Church are rational or intellectual. Good grief, what a bone-crushing headline that could make for an anti-Mormon forum.

Beowulf, are you sure that you want to deny ex-Mormons their claim of having made intellectual choices based on "knowledge"? If so, then, as the good doctor points out, that edge swings both ways.

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You do not believe decisions to join the Church are rational or intellectual
Surely a more accurate way of paraphrasing Dan would be he doesn't believe they are "only rational or intellectual." As in "they are intellectual and they are emotional, the two not being mutally exclusive".

At least that's how I've read his remarks. Might be my personal filter is on though. :P

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Great post Calmorah.

== I find it interesting how little I hear this term outside of apologetic forums.

True, but how often do you hear about LDS critics in Church at all? Whenever the topic comes up, anti-Mormon is usually the preferred nomenclature, so to speak.

Before I joined the Church I was given some crap literature by John Ankerberg. My granny sent it to me. Anyway, once the Mormon family realized what I was reading, they immediately cried "that's anti-Mormon, Kevin," as if I was supposed to have an earthly clue what that meant.

Between that time and my baptism (approx 3 years) I heard that term over and over and over. After I joined the church I never really heard it that often because the subject rarely came up. But a year later when I went on my mission to Ed Decker's backyard, the term became an important one to know. During my first month I learned all sorts of things that seemed weird to me, like dusting off the feet to curse the anti-Mormon homes that preached Walter Martin, etc.

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Whenever the topic comes up, anti-Mormon is usually the preferred nomenclature, so to speak.

I am specifically talking about when the topic does come up when I speak of frequency.

I'd say the preferred nomenclature in my experience runs closer to "idiot" or "clown" or some variation on those themes. "Delusional" runs strongly as well.

I would expect in areas where apologetics are the focus (such as when you were given material that needed to be defended against), this term likely is used more though in my experience "critic" tends to be used more than "anti-mormon" unless some ministry or someone who gets paid for doing this stuff is being talked about. When it's just casual discussion such as making observations about the protestors hanging around Temple Square and other arenas, the personal qualities of the person tend to be more discussed than what their overall aim is or a particular issue.

In my experience, most LDS don't feel a particular need to defend their positions which leads to the focus on personalities and quality of behaviour.

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Are there "legitimate" reasons for leaving the Church?

Legitimate...

3.

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Kevin W. Graham Previously Posted: Go to the FAIR homepage and search the two terms. This is what you get:

1) Critic: 36 hits

2) Anti-Mormon: 651 hits

Nuff said.

Ken Responds: I'm sorry... Did you interpret my post as some sort of apologia for the use of the term "anti-Mormon"? If so, you might want to read it again. :P

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