How Can Anyone Remain a Mormon in the Face of All the “Facts”?

One of the things that you will see sometimes in anti-Mormon forums is what appears to be a sincere question: ‘How can anyone remain a Mormon in the face of all the facts?’  As a Mormon myself, I would like to address this.

First of all, many of the “facts” they think that they have are not facts at all.  They are more claims than facts.  Even if they have sources for their claims, that does not make them facts.  Claims might be facts, but they might not be.  Facts can be hard to come by on things like religious beliefs, politics, and even history.  Most claims can not be proven to be facts if sufficient rigor is applied.

Secondly, many facts are partial facts.  They do not tell the whole story.  At times, partial facts can produce a distorted view of reality on their own.  Critics are often very good at presenting partial facts in such a way that they present a very negative view of their opposition, and this will often be intentional.  Taking partial facts, deliberately presenting them in the worst possible way, and intentionally twisting them to give a distorted view, is one of the things that anti-Mormons do very well.  Once you see this, it takes most of the bite out of their attacks.

Lastly, one can have a collection of facts and still come to the wrong conclusion.  I would suggest that good conclusions are even more important than good facts.  It does not take much imagination to consider opponents in religion or politics doing this to each other.  Many arguments between pro and anti-Mormons will focus on conclusions rather than facts.

So to summarize, much of what you will find on anti-Mormon forums are claims rather than facts, partial facts used in negative ways, and erroneous conclusions based on some facts.

For me, the real question is why would anyone leave Mormonism, and all of its potential benefits, based on the claims, partial facts, and suspect conclusions that come from anti-Mormons?

14 Responses to “How Can Anyone Remain a Mormon in the Face of All the “Facts”?”

  1. 1 A. Relative February 12, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Here is a fact – your brother-in-law, high priest, first councilor in the bishopric, “called by g-d” by your church is now … (I will not fill in the details on a public forum). How do you justify and come to terms with what you know for a fact is going on in your own family?

    • 2 Eric Nielson February 13, 2018 at 12:28 pm

      Why would I expect that no individual in a leadership position would ever commit a crime? So I would put this in the wrong conclusion category.

      As far as the church goes, I am not aware of any organization that has spoken out against his particular crime with more consistency and clarity. I sometimes wondered for a few years if the church could talk about other things.

      Additionally, if a person lies about worthiness, I am not sure I blame other local leaders for extending callings. They are sometimes eager to find people willing to serve. Also purposes behind callings can be mysterious.

      This is not without its precedence in the scriptures. Mighty David had quite a fall himself. God had called him.

      • 3 Eric Nielson February 13, 2018 at 12:50 pm

        Seems the argument is this:
        P1 Brother X has a calling
        P2 Brother X sinned before and after the calling was extended.
        P3 Nobody with a calling would ever sin before or after a calling.
        C1 Church cannot be true.

        Problem is with P3 and C1. P3 goes against “all have sinned”. C1 assumes truth claims are dependent on universal leader perfection.

  2. 4 A. Relative February 13, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Brother X sinned before, during, and after callings… first temple marriage sealing canceled, was allowed to be sealed again… went to LDS addiction recovery group, problems became worse NOT better, LDS church did NOT stop the abuse, law enforcement did. X was turned in by employer NOT church. Year after year after year after year this goes on… 10 years + so if leaders are “imperfect” and anything goes for anyone, what is the point of calling anyone a leader? priesthood are “protectors”??? we should trust and follow the leader??? try telling that to your innocent little nieces.

    • 5 Eric Nielson February 13, 2018 at 3:43 pm

      Yes he did terrible things. Yes he lied to the church about it. Yes this could have terrible consequences. Yes this could harm faith. It is not known what others knew since he lied about it over and over.

      Must we assume everyone is like that? I think not.

  3. 6 A. Relative February 14, 2018 at 1:10 am

    Why would anyone leave Mormonism? Brother X is not the only problem – turns out the Mormons and the Catholics have quite a few things in common… it’s easy to rationalize and dismiss “anti” claims as being false, until you experience it for yourself, in your own family. People are not leaving the church over spilled milk.

  4. 7 Eric Nielson February 14, 2018 at 7:15 am

    There is no doubt that this is a serious and difficult time in our extended family personally.

    Yet here again unnecessary conclusions are being drawn. It is absurd to think that this type of thing only happens to Mormons and Catholics. Or to think that religion is the cause. Especially when it is religions that speak out the loudest against this sort of thing.

    Additionally, in comments above, there are claims that the church knew all the details about what was going on and did nothing. This is a good example of something that is not a known fact, but a claim. The type of interviews we are talking about are highly confidential, and will not be common knowledge. Also, in this case particularly, the individual almost certainly lied about his behavior. Any level of confession (if any) was likely very vague, So another example of what I was talking about in the original post – claims that are not facts.

    Further yet, people leaving the church over serious sins committed by family members who are local leaders is well outside the scope of what this post is about.

  5. 8 Eric Nielson February 14, 2018 at 8:31 am

    As I think about this more, there could be two different arguments going on. One from an anti-Mormon perspective, and one from a more personal experience perspective. I would like to lay these out.

    Anti-Mormon perspective:

    P1 – Church member/leader commits sin
    P2 – Church makes truth claims
    P3 – A true church cannot have members/leaders that commit sins
    C1 – Church is not true.

    Again, P3 and C1 make this an invalid argument.

    Personal experience perspective:

    P1 – A family member/church leader commits serious sin
    P2 – This sin causes me deep pain, anger, embarrassment, confusion.
    P3 – A true church should have done more to prevent this
    C1 – Church is not true

    While some points of the above are different, the results are sort of the same, Again, P3 and C1 are the problems. Just how much control do we think the church should have? Especially when people lie about their situation.

    Anyway, it is easy to get stuck in an endless loop over the above type of arguments. I just hope we can see them for what they are.

    But there is a fundamental difference between being angry over a family member and their serious sins, and typical anti-Mormon efforts.

    • 9 A. Relative February 14, 2018 at 10:17 am

      You did not answer my question. If leaders are imperfect, led by lies rather than the spirit, Catholics/Mormons/general population are all pretty much the same, and anything is excused for anyone because we are all imperfect, what distinguishes anything in the LDS church from any other group? This is not about faith in g-d, it is about faith in men, and organizations here on earth.

      • 10 Eric Nielson February 14, 2018 at 10:42 am

        My answer to your question was at best indirect and assumed. Sorry.

        The answer to the question is that we should not blindly trust anyone. Including church leaders. We should not be basing our faith and testimony on their behavior at all. To reject the church based on that would be a throwing the baby out with the bath water scenario.

        The only reason to sustain Mormon church leaders in spite of their failings is if we have some spiritual experience with the truth claims of the church. Did the first vision happen? Is the Book of Mormon scripture? Was the priesthood restored? Etc. If we religiously believe these things then we can tolerate weakness in leaders because our faith was not based on their perfection.

        So what is the distinction? It is the fundamental truth claims which I have spiritual conviction of. Other organizations do not have them. For me, Mormon leaders can have faults and it won’t kill my testimony because my testimony was not built on them in the first place.

      • 11 Eric Nielson February 14, 2018 at 10:58 am

        Further further. This gets to the problem of evil overall. God himself can know of evil things happening but not prevent them sometimes. Should we expect some local church leader to be better than God?

    • 12 Eric Nielson February 14, 2018 at 10:48 am

      Additionally there is no anything goes for churc leaders. My Bil will be excommunicated and held accountable to God in addition to likely spending the rest of his life in prison. If any other church leader knew all the details they could face severe consequences as well.

  6. 13 A. Relative February 14, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Thanks for all your comments Eric. I do know there is more than this life, I do not know that any particular earthly religious organization is better than the others though. All religious communities have many beautiful things within them, but g-d alone deserves our worship. Faith is synonymous with hope – I hope all organizations have enough good in them to help the people who find community there, but also hope that everyone will come to rely directly on their Savior – not faith in any particular organization, not faith in any imperfect person – but instead have individual, and personal faith in their Savior with no middle-man to get in the way of that very personal relationship. Wheat and tares within everyone, and everything. Hope in the end all of us – every last living being who ever existed in this universe – will have gained the knowledge they need to progress, and everything will have been worth it. So… no hard feelings to those who decide to leave the LDS church? and likewise no hard feelings to those who have decided to stay? we’re all brothers and sisters down here… live and let live? hugs and love going out to everyone, everywhere, no matter what organization they hang out with? have faith – have hope that everything is going to be ok for everyone by the end of it all. Lots of love to you and yours, happy V-day!

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