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AtheistGuy

What convinces y’all that Mormonism is true?

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I’m not here to argue with anyone or change anyone’s mind. I’m just curious what compels you guys to believe the Book of Mormon and teachings of Joseph Smith? A lot of what of what I know about Mormonism comes from sources that have an anti-Mormon bias, and I want to see y’all’s perspective on the LDS church.

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6 hours ago, AtheistGuy said:

I’m not here to argue with anyone or change anyone’s mind. I’m just curious what compels you guys to believe the Book of Mormon and teachings of Joseph Smith? A lot of what of what I know about Mormonism comes from sources that have an anti-Mormon bias, and I want to see y’all’s perspective on the LDS church.

Good question, thank you for asking!

For me, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is interesting because of its recent rise. Whereas the miracles and teachings of the Bible have had centuries to be altered or messed with and we can't even confirm the historicity of the primary sources, we can look right into the lives of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and those that followed them. We can see why they believed what they did. I find that perspective to be interesting, as well as the miracles and divine manifestations they all witnessed. Those are particularly compelling to me. I have also been blessed to witness certain miracles in my own life, and from this I draw a conviction that there is a transcendent Agent, that there is something beyond mere naturalism at play in the world. The thought that there is something out there causes me to seek communion with it, and there I find the Holy Ghost, which is why I believe in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the doctrines it espouses. 

I'm aware of the arguments back and forth regarding neurobiology, psychology of religion, so on and so forth. I've heard credible and compelling arguments that religious experience is just an evolutionary structure, but so are sight, sound, and the rest, and my religious experiences within the Church have been just as real as anything I have ever seen. 

I should also state that I find the ancient echoes in the Book of Mormon especially to be quite intriguing. They are not the main dish for my faith, but more like a delicious hors d'oeurve. 

Edited by OGHoosier
Minor grammatical edit
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 It works for me. I am happier when I live the Gospel. 

The doctrine of eternity for the most part makes sense to me. More so than what I know of other faiths. 

My experiences lead me to believe without doubt there is a God.

Edited by Calm
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The unique focus on family, the emphasis on service, the unpaid clergy, the accessibility, the focus on the atonement, the fact that it’s a lifestyle church, the traditions, the longevity, and the truth that it’s patterned after Christ’s Church with the priesthood. 

Plus like calm says, my life is better with it than it is without it. 

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4 hours ago, AtheistGuy said:

I’m not here to argue with anyone or change anyone’s mind. I’m just curious what compels you guys to believe the Book of Mormon and teachings of Joseph Smith? A lot of what of what I know about Mormonism comes from sources that have an anti-Mormon bias, and I want to see y’all’s perspective on the LDS church.

Study and prayer, coupled with an overwhelming affirmation of the Holy Spirit, that it is the very Word of God. Also the belief that the marvel of the Book of Mormon, could only have been reveled by a Prophet of God. All else, is window dressing, that countless critics only wish to whine about the choices, of said window dressing. The real questions are, why are you an atheist, and why does an atheist want to know? 

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First and foremost, I know it's true based on confirmation by the Spirit that it is true.  That isn't as simple as it sounds, as it is based on multiple experiences of that happening throughout my life and from specific answers to prayer.  I would also include all the other things linked in some of the articles in Robert F. Smith's post.

But the thing that amazes me the most is how well the church's teachings stand up in scholarly ways, throughout history, and with using logic and reason.  To me, this is just the icing on the cake (and it is good icing, not like the overly sugary stuff from some cheap bakery :)).  While on my mission in the "Bible belt" region of the United States, I was confronted with a lot of different (and contradictory) views of scripture, some of which tried to portray my own beliefs as not conforming with historical teachings, or not consistent with Greek or Hebrew texts.  After my mission I began studying the Bible more deeply and I investigated some of the claims that I was confronted with.  And even though I found that I myself had some things about my own understanding that I needed to correct, I also found that the church's teachings were actually supported in historical ways, in the original languages, and in so many other ways.  It is an extremely rich and rewarding faith, in intellectual, spiritual, and in social and charitable ways.

 

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I tried other things.  But I've had experiences with God and the Holy Ghost that leaves me knowing for sure that I have Heavenly Parents and a Savior who know me (by extension everyone) intimately in every moment of my life.   It is so much easier to keep the commandments, than it is to live outside the gospel framework.

I think I have read every critical article/book about Church History or doctrine or of leaders.   And I've followed every footnote to original sources (often finding that the original source doesn't say what the critic claimed it did, and when it does, often seeing how it could just as easily be read consistent with faith).   More importantly I know that we do not now know everything and we won't ever probably know the whole story until judgment, but that God has no choice but to work through flawed human beings, because that is all there is.

I believe because of the witness of the spirit.

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Hi @AtheistGuy!

I didn't grow up in the Church. I found it in my mid-teens and had special spiritual experiences that convinced me, not only that God exists, but that this Church is what it says it is, namely a restoration of the true Church of Jesus Christ.  There's a practical aspect of it, too, that keeps me enthusiastic, besides a continuing spiritual fulfillment.  I am pretty sure that my life would have been far less happy without this Church in my life.   I joined the Church at age 14 (the only one of my family to join at that time), and I'm 68 years old now.  I have never had cause to regret my membership.

What "compels [me] to believe the Book of Mormon and teachings of Joseph Smith?"  And I would add, "to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God." I have put God, Christ, the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith to the test, and have been answered in the affirmative.  

Has God spoken to me and confirmed all this?  In short, yes, though probably not in the way you might think. But I am about as convinced as it is possible to be, without actually having been visited by God. You'll have to take my subjective word for it, I'm afraid. I can do nothing to convince you of any of this, except to say you have to experience it yourself.  And that would require that you take it seriously, and put in genuine effort to discover for yourself the truth of these things. 

Perhaps the simple declaration above is adequate, as is, for the purpose of your question.  There's so much more that I would like to say in this regard, however, so what follows delves into these matters more deeply.  I didn't think that you were looking for a huge essay, so if you go no farther than those three paragraphs above, fair enough.  But I hope you feel to consider what I've written below.  In either case, accept my best wishes in whatever it is you seek.

==================================

I know that many atheists, especially those of a scientific bent, kind of want to find some kind of objective scientific evidence that God exists, before they'll accept it. And since this seems to be virtually or literally impossible, they regard the idea of a creator God to be pure fiction. 

I understand this quite well.  Looked at objectively, even if God exists, why would such a being need creations such as us or any other kind?  Wouldn't such a God be perfectly content in and of Himself without making subsidiary beings to worship Him?  I should think that this is obvious, and for that matter why would a God even need to create a universe?  Logically, God doesn't need us, nor does He need a universe.  But the universe is here, and so are we. The conundrum is: WHY?  

There are only two possible answers: 
(1) random fluctuations in space-time, or as Stephen Hawking wrote in his final book: "I think the universe was spontaneously created out of nothing, according to the laws of science."
or (2) a being created it all, and He had a purpose in doing so.  

Answer 1 is irrelevant to the discussion, and we can safely ignore it and concentrate on answer 2. This is because the question of God is only relevant with answer 2. Not to mention that Hawking’s conviction as to the truth of the spontaneous creation of the universe is just as non-falsifiable as the conviction of a Creationist that it was God who created the universe.

Allowing for the moment that God truly does exist, how can someone come to become convinced of it?  In the Bible (or, for that matter, the Koran and any number of other holy books) it is written that God revealed himself to certain specific individuals, and gave intelligence regarding himself and how he wanted us to behave.  We are left to either believe these individuals, or not.  A few of my theist but non-Mormon friends come from the school of thought that the Bible is to be believed implicitly: "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it."  But the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ask "Just because the Bible says something, why should one believe it?"  And this is critical.  Words on a page are only as valuable as the information that they convey.  We would expect that if God exists, the words he caused to be written down would contain valuable information.  Unless He's Loki, and gets his kicks out of tricking us, that is!  So let's just assume that He's not Loki (or Coyote, from some of my ancestors' religious traditions).  Because if God is out to trick us, we might as well give up before we get started!

Because God makes Himself apparently invisible and impalpable to us, we have to assume that He either refuses to let us detect Him, or He has made it difficult for us to do so.  But if He doesn't want us to be able to detect Him, then we can't possibly do so, and we might as well give up in that case.  How could He hold us responsible for doing what He says, when He refuses to let us detect Him?  It follows therefore, that if He exists, and if He matters to us, then there must be a way to detect Him.  Just for a moment, look at what we see in the Bible regarding this.  Does the Bible say that God is detectable?  And if He is, how do we detect Him?

In the first place, we learn that God wants us to detect Him. The Prophet Amos wrote: "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7)  So God's secret will be revealed to prophets, at least.  But who is a prophet? Where can you find one? I suggest you look in a mirror.

Moses said: "...would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!"  So it must be the case that God wants all of his people to be prophets (if possible, though Moses clearly implies this is difficult), and thus have His secrets revealed to them!  All I am trying to say to you about this is this: God, if He exists, is willing to reveal to you the truth of his existence.

In the New Testament we read that after Jesus's crucifixion and subsequent resurrection from the dead he contacted a couple of his disciples who were heading back to the town of Emmaus from Jerusalem, quite disappointed that Jesus had been executed by the Romans, and though they had heard rumors of his coming back from the dead, they were unsure.  They didn't at first recognize him, but as he visited with him and later blessed some food they were about to eat, they recognized that it was Him!  And afterwards spoke with each other as follows: "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?"  They had detected something that they didn't immediately recognize at first -- that what the stranger was teaching them was true, because of the feeling that God put into them as they heard the words spoken by the as-yet-undetected resurrected Jesus.

And this is what we come to.  If God exists, He simply has to be willing to reveal His existence to you, otherwise what's the point? But you must exert yourself, because you don’t get something for nothing.

You ask, what "compels [me] to believe the Book of Mormon and teachings of Joseph Smith?"  And I would add, "to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God." I have put God, Christ, the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith to the test, and have been answered.  In the affirmative. 

There is no other way.  There is a challenge in the Book of Mormon, and perhaps you've heard of it:

"And when ye shall receive these things [i.e. The Book of Mormon], 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."  (Moroni 10:4)

But you can't just idly ask, you actually have to "ask with a sincere heart, with real intent".  I think that if you don't believe in God, let alone Christ, nevertheless if you sincerely allow for the possibility of an answer, that might be sufficient faith to get an answer.

But you're going to have to read the Book of Mormon first.  I will confess that I received a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true before I read it all the way through, and I know of others who have received that testimony before completing it, too.  But some effort needs to be made, and some faith exercised, even if only a little faith.  In a revelation given to Oliver Cowdery through the Prophet Joseph Smith, God said:
"Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right."

You will note the word "feel" here.  If you were to hear something with your ears, you might think that someone was trying to trick you somehow by generating a sound. Especially in these days of computer-generated effects, one might be concerned that Industrial Light and Magic was involved, and not God.  But if you, knowing that you are perfectly sane, receive confirmation through your thoughts and feelings, then this is far more reliable.  

Well, anyway.  That's how I arrived at my conviction of the truth of the existence of God and faith in the Savior Jesus Christ, the LDS church, the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith.  And if I can do it, so can anyone.

There is, by the way, a subsidiary question that follows close on the heels of an affirmative answer to the question "Does God exist?"  That subsidiary question is "Why does God exist?" or "Why did God create the universe and us?"  There's an answer, but the previous question needs to be answered first, I would say.  Carts should follow horses, not the reverse.  Usually, at least.

 

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Plural marriage. If you want an eternal harem your choices are limited to the Church or Islam and Islam has some issues.

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One of the major things is the witness of the Spirit...  in answer to prayer and the study of our canon... particularly when I accepted Moroni's challenge in regard to the BoM... as part of numerous spiritual experiences, including a healing through a priesthood blessing... when listening to gen conf... When I ponder the Plan of Salvation, it makes such logical sense in its fairness to all... the closeness I feel to Heavenly Father and his magnificent gift of his Son as our Savior...

GG

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4 hours ago, The Nehor said:

Plural marriage. If you want an eternal harem your choices are limited to the Church or Islam and Islam has some issues.

:rofl:

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A combination of spiritual witnesses and the fact that it makes sense to my mind.

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Dr. Mario De Pillis Sr., the great religious scholar, gave an address at Graceland University at Lamoni, Iow, some five years ago.

He said the number one reason Mormons of all stripes who stay in their denominations generally agree with the statement "it works for me."

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For me, it's the spiritual experiences that I've had with it.  

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I'm going to be a debby downer and say the responses so far could be in any religion...except for Nehor's response of course. ;) Therefore, we need to make sure to not force those that aren't members to believe we have all truth compared to their...some truth. Not to derail, but getting tired of the divisions, and I don't think God is too happy about it. 

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On 11/5/2019 at 2:24 PM, bluebell said:

I'm not sure what that really has to do with anything though.  We certainly don't force anyone to believe anything, for starters, and whether or not the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have unique reasons for why we believe what we do seems besides the point.  

Exactly...

 

GG

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On 11/4/2019 at 3:42 PM, The Nehor said:

Plural marriage. If you want an eternal harem your choices are limited to the Church or Islam and Islam has some issues.

Oh yeah, guess I should say the spiritual experiences I have had and the miracles I have seen help.

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On 11/5/2019 at 9:10 PM, Tacenda said:

I'm going to be a debby downer and say the responses so far could be in any religion

Well I do not feel that is a "downer" it points out the one thing common to all religions is people.  As soon as people gets involved in anything it get complicated.  Yes I am happy to express why I believe and there have been some good answers in the thread.  But why I believe is like a self help book.  The person writing the book can only come at it from what they know and what they are (if they are honest) but it will be hard to have it apply to everyone who buys the book. (I no longer read self help books).  It is easy to see on this board (I include myself in this comment) persons shaped by their experiences both good and bad. I do not think many want bad experiences (lets call them painful maybe even damaging).  We are more than our experiences good or bad.  Deep down in all of us (even now in my sixties it is hard work to know myself) we choose good or we choose evil or we can try to withdraw from making those choices all together. (this would be a topic that would fill pages).   Being mortal forces us to make choices.  So when we make statements about why we believe, even though the events in our lives really did occur as we say they did the statement becomes a choice.  It also works just the same way for those stating they do not believe.  Ultimately (and I feel that the scriptures back this up) we can ignore everything.  Or some believe with very little to go own. It scares me to take ownership of my choices, there is really something there that cannot be avoided.

Edited by Metis_LDS
spelling

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On 11/3/2019 at 12:24 PM, MustardSeed said:

The unique focus on family, the emphasis on service, the unpaid clergy, the accessibility, the focus on the atonement, the fact that it’s a lifestyle church, the traditions, the longevity, and the truth that it’s patterned after Christ’s Church with the priesthood. 

Plus like calm says, my life is better with it than it is without it. 

The first and second part are big selling points.  Friends I have from overseas shudder when they see how most Christian churches here operate, it's like a for profit business.

On 11/5/2019 at 2:10 PM, Tacenda said:

I'm going to be a debby downer and say the responses so far could be in any religion...except for Nehor's response of course. ;) Therefore, we need to make sure to not force those that aren't members to believe we have all truth compared to their...some truth. Not to derail, but getting tired of the divisions, and I don't think God is too happy about it. 

Considering the violence Christians here are now having to face, yeah I'd say divisions are a bad idea.  A lot of millenials despise religion here stateside because of how they were treated as kids.  Think there was a main commandment, something along the lines of love thy God with all thy heart and whatsoever you do to the least of these you do to me also.  Hmm....

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