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Are we in denial?


Monster

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I am not trying to be controversial but my question is, are those members who have studied the church from day one and learned about all the issue and contradictions in denial when they still choose to believe? i ask because it seems members have no problem discrediting the Catholic church for its indiscretions of the past and present, Scientologists are just nut jobs, Evangelicals got their bible wrong, and so on and so on. But when it comes to their own faith and a conundrum faces then like polyandry, or the Book of Abraham papyri Mormons will go to great lengths to defend the faith. Using the BofA as an example it is obvious Joseph said it was a direct translation or so we use to teach. Yet since we have the papyri we know this is not true. It is a contradiction that discredits it to everyone but those who choose to believe anyway.

I am not talking here about your average TBM who goes through life blissfully ignorant of church history and gleefully following current leaders because they have had a spiritual experience validating this is what they should do. No I am talking about the scholar or someone who has critically thought about the issues and still brushes them aside and chooses to believe. Is this just denial of the obvious? I am not saying this is a bad person but are they being honest.?To have integrity would you not have to say my church has serious issues that need to be addressed.

How is ignoring these issues and claiming the church is completely true not a form of denial? Does a spiritual witness require you to set aside your own intelligence and reasoning when there is a conflict?

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I am not trying to be controversial

I hope some scholar or someone out there who has critically thought about the issues and still brushes them aside and chooses to believe actually exists, and that he would identify himself, and answer your question. But it seems to me a believing scholar would brush nothing aside, but simply posses a more compelling reason to believe, and by continuing in his research, he enjoys a development of intelligence and reasoning. From the believing scholars I’ve seen, it has everything to do with how the questions are approached and asked.

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I am not trying to be controversial but my question is, are those members who have studied the church from day one and learned about all the issue and contradictions in denial when they still choose to believe?To have integrity would you not have to say my church has serious issues that need to be addressed.

Just a point of clarification, Monster. You use "we" in the title of the thread, than you talk about believing members. Does this mean you are a believing member or were you using "we" to refer to believing members on the board?
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Being in denial is a very basic human experience. I know I eat too much and have too little excercise, yet I still eat too much and don't excercise enough. We must all choose what we believe in because frankly, we don't have the time to figure out everything about everything by ourselves. As a result, most people believe what they are taught to believe because that's what everybody around them believes. It's just easier that way.

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Except that the majority of LDS are converts and don't live in Utah.

I second that by personal experience. My belief in Mormonism, which began as a youngster, contradicted many things I was taught by those around me--especially after my interest in Mormonism became known. But those that so taught me also taught me to have an open mind and use my intellect and reasoning, and to not fear judicious experimentation, and stick to my principles.

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I am not trying to be controversial but my question is, are those members who have studied the church from day one and learned about all the issue and contradictions in denial when they still choose to believe? i ask because it seems members have no problem discrediting the Catholic church for its indiscretions of the past and present, Scientologists are just nut jobs, Evangelicals got their bible wrong, and so on and so on. But when it comes to their own faith and a conundrum faces then like polyandry, or the Book of Abraham papyri Mormons will go to great lengths to defend the faith. Using the BofA as an example it is obvious Joseph said it was a direct translation or so we use to teach. Yet since we have the papyri we know this is not true. It is a contradiction that discredits it to everyone but those who choose to believe anyway.

I am not talking here about your average TBM who goes through life blissfully ignorant of church history and gleefully following current leaders because they have had a spiritual experience validating this is what they should do. No I am talking about the scholar or someone who has critically thought about the issues and still brushes them aside and chooses to believe. Is this just denial of the obvious? I am not saying this is a bad person but are they being honest.?To have integrity would you not have to say my church has serious issues that need to be addressed.

How is ignoring these issues and claiming the church is completely true not a form of denial? Does a spiritual witness require you to set aside your own intelligence and reasoning when there is a conflict?

Consider that this isn't as irrelevant an issue as the theory of evolution, mathematics, astronomy, etc. Religion is rooted in the most fundamental of basic practical beliefs about human nature, ethics, law, future hopes and goals for ourselves and our families. There probably isn't one more important thing than religion or, in the absence of it, whatever we put in its place.

Now, realizing this... is there anyone who finds it surprising, even to the point of feeling a certain empathy for religious people, that they tend to block these issues from introspective criticism? You are asking people to look at themselves as honestly as possible and that's scary. In my experience, however, atheists do no better job at questioning what they accepted already when it is as momentous as religion.

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I am not trying to be controversial but my question is, are those members who have studied the church from day one and learned about all the issue and contradictions in denial when they still choose to believe? i ask because it seems members have no problem discrediting the Catholic church for its indiscretions of the past and present, Scientologists are just nut jobs, Evangelicals got their bible wrong, and so on and so on. But when it comes to their own faith and a conundrum faces then like polyandry, or the Book of Abraham papyri Mormons will go to great lengths to defend the faith. Using the BofA as an example it is obvious Joseph said it was a direct translation or so we use to teach. Yet since we have the papyri we know this is not true. It is a contradiction that discredits it to everyone but those who choose to believe anyway.

Hehe, none of those people are in denial. They are just trying to defend their faith, just as we are. That's not denial, it is resilience ;-).

I am not talking here about your average TBM who goes through life blissfully ignorant of church history and gleefully following current leaders because they have had a spiritual experience validating this is what they should do. No I am talking about the scholar or someone who has critically thought about the issues and still brushes them aside and chooses to believe. Is this just denial of the obvious? I am not saying this is a bad person but are they being honest.?To have integrity would you not have to say my church has serious issues that need to be addressed.

No, it's not denial. It's a willingness to not give up, just because things seem to be going in the opposite direction. Resilience, I say. And resiliance makes the difference.

The person is still being honest to themselves as well. Oftentimes, so much weight is placed on the opposing position that it seems to be not being honest, but that is not the case; it is just because the issue is not being looked at from a neutral point of view. Just because a side has more weight supporting it does not make it correct.

How is ignoring these issues and claiming the church is completely true not a form of denial? Does a spiritual witness require you to set aside your own intelligence and reasoning when there is a conflict?

Denial is something that the weighty side tends to like to use as a toothpick to poke those who are resilient ;-).

It doesn't point out the truth, it just irritates people XD.

After all, there is no more evidence for what I see being true than what I feel inside being true; nothing may be proven in this universe, after all ;-)

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Just a point of clarification, Monster. You use "we" in the title of the thread, than you talk about believing members. Does this mean you are a believing member or were you using "we" to refer to believing members on the board?

Im not sure if I am a believer anymore. I just do not know what is real and what is made up. But the real answer to your question is I am just a lousy writer.

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Im not sure if I am a believer anymore.

Believer in what? God, Jesus Christ, The LDS Church, Book of Mormon, Bible, Holy Ghost?

I suppose I should elaborate more as to my purpose in asking these questions and perhaps I suggest they are even more rhetorical questions than anything else. For the last year I have felt as though the LDS Church had over time materially misrepresented information to me. These feelings have at times been very upsetting to the point I could question everything I had ever been taught. So I tried an experiment which if possible I suggest you do the same. I took a step back and read/pondered my personal journals. I am not a avid journal writer but overtime I have filled a few books. What I discovered set me back on firm enough footing to move forward. I have not solved all of my issues but I am working on them and hopefully I will be able to resolve them.

As I read my journal I was certain I would find some weird things. Things I felt I possibly had been "brainwashed with" I essentially was looking for the damage done from what I considered at the time material misrepresentations. I was blown away. Out of hundreds of pages I could not find any damage done. My journal was full of rich testimony. I testified of a loving God who heard and answered prayers. A God who on multiple occasions provided miracles in my life. I testified of Jesus Christ of his Atonement and the peace his forgiveness had given me in my life. I wrote of the influence of the Holy Ghost and how it on multiple occasions had comforted me. I was grateful for a family who sustained me and loved. I was grateful to be a member of the Church because it provided a way for me to learn the Gospel and serve others. All the weird damaging stuff I was hoping to find did not exist.

I asked myself then what exactly are the fruits of the Church I felt betrayed by? They were fruits of a testimony of God, Jesus Christ, The Holy Ghost and the personal relationship I was privileged to have with them. Essentially this experience put me back on solid enough ground to take another step forward instead of giving up all together. I don't have the all answers to the questions that perplex me. However, I do feel I have a testimony and answers of the basics and I am looking forward to rediscovering my testimony in the areas I feel I have lost it. While it is a difficult transition I feel I have been liberated and am rediscovering the richness of the LDS teachings with a greater understanding.

All the best Monster

Biz

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I was 20 years old, and still the only member of the Church in my birth family.

Ps. I live in California.

I was in NY at the time of my conversion, and baptized while at a SUNY college (35+ years ago). My father had some unique ideas/opinions about Christianity and my mother viewed religion as a crutch or the weak. Two brothers joined during their 70's college years as well, and my father eventually joined the church a few years ago, in his eighties! My wife is still the only member in her immediate and extended family after joining in the 70's.

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I appreciate your thoughts and post and I ask myself the same thing often. Why do I continue to believe despite known contradictions in my mind? Am I in denial because of my doubt and confusion about the history of the Church or certain doctrines? In a way, yes. However, what one person calls denial another can call faith. Faith is, and always will be, the first principle of the gospel (or religion/spirituality). Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (or I would add not understood). It really is that simple. Religion and spirituality can never be proven, no matter how much someone tries. They might think (or "know") they can, but in the end they can't (or don't "know").

The real question for me is not whether I am in denial about the Church, but am I in denial about the existence of a god, or even spirituality? I have come to a personal conclusion that spirituality is important to my life. I have also come to a personal conclusion that the religion I happened to be born into (Mormonism) provides me with the spiritual connection that fills my soul. Basic LDS Church doctrines and, probably more importantly, the necessity of a restoration makes sense to me logically, but in the end it is only by faith that this "logic" will transform into actions (or belief). In the end, I will likely be more surprised about the existence of God than I would be about whether or not Joseph Smith used his knowledge of free masonry when revealing the temple ceremony. Nevertheless, having faith (or denial) in both of these things (the existence in God and the blessings of the temple) brings me peace right now and in my opinion makes me a better person, husband, and father.

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You speak as if just because some facts are known on some issues that the conclusions that have been come to by the enemies of the Church are a slam dunk and must be correct. To me, more truth on a matter means that an investigator on a subject must search harder for a proper explanation. In other words, the reaction I have always come to when faced with stuff is that I just have to dig harder till I come to a correct understanding. I don't see anything that I've every come across as forcing me to conclude that the church isn't true or that the BOM or BOA is not historical.

How in the world does digging deep to find real answers on something and not settling for lazy critical answers constitute lack of integrity or denial?

I have never been not forced by any particular "fact" to conclude anything. More often, the fact that someone come across a certain fact that on the surface contradicts usual popular assumptions merely points to a more complex truth, not to some slam dunk explanation that the Church is not true. To conclude that the Church is not true based on some perception of "fact" is usually a manifestation that the person making such a conclusion is actually on the track of being an unbeliever anyway, and his conclusion that he has come to is merely a lazy cop out, because he has not started digging more to get to the actual answers. My reaction to challenges has always been to simply dig deeper, never to conclude that something is false. And when I dig far enough, usually I come to a conclusion that not even other apologists besides myself have come to, although my explanation becomes a faith building explanation that is different than theirs.

It is unfortunate that TBM's who are not "Internet Mormons" who have been exposed to stuff before suffer "dark nights of the soul" as John Dehlin has called it, and suffer a loss of faith as a result. Sometimes apologetics is helpful. But I think that if people like that were educated in a different way of thinking and percieving the things that they come across, that it would be more effective. If they would realize that they have the right to aim skepticism in the direction of a certain explanation offered by some enemy of the church, and withhold judgement on an issue until they can find out the actual facts for themselves somehow. Or if they would only realize that they are not being forced to accept a certain conclusion just because a certain fact is known or a certain claim is made, and that they have a right to aim skepticism in the direction of the bad conclusion. And yes, I assert that any conclusion that concludes that something must mean the Church is not true is simply a bad conclusion. There is always another faithful conclusion that can be made for any issue.

Any conclusion anyone comes to on their perception of a certian fact is choice they make. You are never forced to conclude that the Church is not true by any particular fact. I am just always persuaded that I have to put more effort into finding the correct explanation on the matter than giving up in defeat. I fail to see how because I dig deep to find answers means that I'm in denial. But I will say that when I actually do find answers and I have talked to post mormons or anti mormons about them, they deny that my explanations have validity, only because they have knee jerk reactions that there is no way that what I present can be true. So is it really the apologist that is in denial, or is it the critic, when plausible explanations can be made, but critics deny the rationality and the plausibility of the faithful explanation? Then the critic sits there and mocks the honest efforts of apologists to get to the heart of the matter, when the arrogance of the critics think that they have everything figured out because of the mere appearance of a slam dunk. If Thomas Edison would have settled for giving up before he had the proper combination of materials and everything, he wouldn't have had success. There is no indication that many truths should be necessarily straight forward and as simple as critics would believe. And the fact that they insist that everything is so simply false about the church because of the simpleness of their criticisms will come back to bite them in the end. And because so much is at stake with the question of people's salvation here demands that we must use real effort to get to the answers.

And since an alternate faithful explanation or explanations can be made for issues, that demonstrates that the critical conclusion is NOT the only answer that one can come to on the issue. And therefore, there is no reason that the critical conclusion should be accepted, or should be assumed to be true.

Furthermore, if some apologists don't follow evidence in that explanation, and offer bad apologetics, does that really mean they lack integrity? Or does it mean that they just need to reconsider their methodologies on how they do their apologetics? I guarantee you that if they spent their time followoing the evidence to its logical conclusions rather than trying to explain it away, they can always make a faithful explanation that is acceptable, even based on the seemingly worst things imaginable. Most often apologists that do bad apologetics are making a good faith effort and are not into it to be deceptive.

Of course anyone that has been exposed to the actual facts of Church history has to make radical changes in their thought process and so forth, but never are we forced to give up our faith as a result. We just come to a more nuanced and healthy and mature faith as a result.

I am not trying to be controversial but my question is, are those members who have studied the church from day one and learned about all the issue and contradictions in denial when they still choose to believe? i ask because it seems members have no problem discrediting the Catholic church for its indiscretions of the past and present, Scientologists are just nut jobs, Evangelicals got their bible wrong, and so on and so on. But when it comes to their own faith and a conundrum faces then like polyandry, or the Book of Abraham papyri Mormons will go to great lengths to defend the faith. Using the BofA as an example it is obvious Joseph said it was a direct translation or so we use to teach. Yet since we have the papyri we know this is not true. It is a contradiction that discredits it to everyone but those who choose to believe anyway.

I am not talking here about your average TBM who goes through life blissfully ignorant of church history and gleefully following current leaders because they have had a spiritual experience validating this is what they should do. No I am talking about the scholar or someone who has critically thought about the issues and still brushes them aside and chooses to believe. Is this just denial of the obvious? I am not saying this is a bad person but are they being honest.?To have integrity would you not have to say my church has serious issues that need to be addressed.

How is ignoring these issues and claiming the church is completely true not a form of denial? Does a spiritual witness require you to set aside your own intelligence and reasoning when there is a conflict?

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Im not sure if I am a believer anymore. I just do not know what is real and what is made up. But the real answer to your question is I am just a lousy writer.

Thanks for the info.

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I am not trying to be controversial but my question is, are those members who have studied the church from day one and learned about all the issue and contradictions in denial when they still choose to believe? i ask because it seems members have no problem discrediting the Catholic church for its indiscretions of the past and present, Scientologists are just nut jobs, Evangelicals got their bible wrong, and so on and so on. But when it comes to their own faith and a conundrum faces then like polyandry, or the Book of Abraham papyri Mormons will go to great lengths to defend the faith. Using the BofA as an example it is obvious Joseph said it was a direct translation or so we use to teach. Yet since we have the papyri we know this is not true. It is a contradiction that discredits it to everyone but those who choose to believe anyway.

Now you are catching on.

Each group is engaged in special pleading regarding the problems and confirmation bias regarding reasons to believe.

The Scientologists think the Mormons are nuts.

What a world.

If it looks nutty to moderately informed outsiders, then it is probably nutty. A good rule of thumb is "You are not special and your religion isn't an exception".

.

.

.

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Or if it is "nutty" to you, more likely, you are simply unaccustomed to it, and deride it only because of that unfamiliarity.

Now you are catching on.

Each group is engaged in special pleading regarding the problems and confirmation bias regarding reasons to believe.

The Scientologists think the Mormons are nuts.

What a world.

If it looks nutty to moderately informed outsiders, then it is probably nutty. A good rule of thumb is "You are not special and your religion isn't an exception".

.

.

.

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Or if it is "nutty" to you, more likely, you are simply unaccustomed to it, and deride it only because of that unfamiliarity.

Well I did say moderately informed outsider.

Anyway, are you special pleading for Mormonism or is this the case for Scientology, Raelianism, and Branch Davidianism too?

The problem is only my lack of familiarity in each case? We can't ever as outsiders have some perspective or circumspection that allows our common sense to detect basic nuttiness where the insiders of the weird movement cannot due exactly to being too used to it?

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I am not trying to be controversial but my question is, are those members who have studied the church from day one and learned about all the issue and contradictions in denial when they still choose to believe? i ask because it seems members have no problem discrediting the Catholic church for its indiscretions of the past and present, Scientologists are just nut jobs, Evangelicals got their bible wrong, and so on and so on. But when it comes to their own faith and a conundrum faces then like polyandry, or the Book of Abraham papyri Mormons will go to great lengths to defend the faith. Using the BofA as an example it is obvious Joseph said it was a direct translation or so we use to teach. Yet since we have the papyri we know this is not true. It is a contradiction that discredits it to everyone but those who choose to believe anyway.

I am not talking here about your average TBM who goes through life blissfully ignorant of church history and gleefully following current leaders because they have had a spiritual experience validating this is what they should do. No I am talking about the scholar or someone who has critically thought about the issues and still brushes them aside and chooses to believe. Is this just denial of the obvious? I am not saying this is a bad person but are they being honest.?To have integrity would you not have to say my church has serious issues that need to be addressed.

How is ignoring these issues and claiming the church is completely true not a form of denial? Does a spiritual witness require you to set aside your own intelligence and reasoning when there is a conflict?

I have wondered about this, myself, off and on, as I lost my faith (in the church) because of certain issues I learned about, after joining and being a member for several years. How is it that so many, seemingly, very intelligent people, who obviously know, at least, as much, and probably more about church history, than I do, continue on in faith, after knowing those things that caused me to lose faith? What is different about their experience? It really puzzled me for awhile, but I came to realize that several possible things were going on. Perhaps, they have had spiritual experiences I have not had...more confirmation than I had. Or, maybe, my understanding, of the things that bothered me was too shallow, (didn't really study it out enough). Or, maybe, those who are super intelligent are just really good at justifying their beliefs.

Could even be all of the above.

I don't believe it's conscious denial, though (for most, anyway). I do believe most are sincere in their beliefs.

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Except that the majority of LDS are converts and don't live in Utah.

Maybe "active members" would be a better measure. Most of those are still in the US (by far). But regardless of such particulars, most people adhere to the faith of their fathers. Sure, there are Muslims who become Christians, and Christians who become Buddhists, but these are exceptions. I doubt such conversions ever exceed 10% of a culture (but I have no numbers on that, just a hunch).

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Back when I lived in California, a member who had lost faith after reading The Changing World of Mormonism got to know me and asked "How can you know what you know, and believe what you believe?"

My "Paradigms Crossed" essay grew from the seed of that question. The key points are that what looks like an key anomaly from one perspective can appear very differently from another, either to due viewing it in a different framework, in which it does not pose a problem, or simply as relatively unimportant compared to other things. All I've had to do is keep my eyes open, give things time, and re-examine my own assumptions now and then.

Kevin Christensen

Bethel Park, PA

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All I've had to do is keep my eyes open, give things time, and re-examine my own assumptions now and then.

I think this sums up very nicely why so many of us stay after learning things that cause us to doubt. I have eventually had my doubts satisfactorily answered which is why if anything new comes up I just wait.

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