Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Why Am I Up at 1:00 am?

I just wasted more than an hour replying to a couple of emails from my dad and ultimately threw them away. It started out last weekend when he sent out another one of his brilliant political commentaries based on an anti-Islamic web site called www.prophetofdoom.com. You'd think that a Mormon would be sensitive to such things, but apparently he fails to see the irony of it all. After a couple of short emails back and forth it finally culminated in a long accusatory email in which he basically accused me of being closed minded and completely unwilling to consider any evidence for the church. He simply refuses to understand that I read it, considered it, considered the alternative explanations and found the evidence against the church to be compelling and the evidence for it to be entirely lacking.

I'm not sure, but I think that I've been very open minded. I tried to believe for 40 years. I immersed myself in the Mormon church and tried to be as knowledgeable as I could be. And then I discovered that it was all lies. Literally. I've documented it in other places, but it really infuriated me to discover how dishonest the church was. I was completely disillusioned by the realization that the church did exactly what it accused its detractors of; it lied and misrepresented its history and doctrines on a grand scale and then had the gall to attack and defame those that dared expose the truth.

My father simply refuses to consider the facts. He accuses me of being close minded, but consider the following typical response (his response in [] and underlined).
For example, DNA evidence clearly shows that the scientists got it right [not it doesn't - you only read the wild assertions of those who are not rigorous in their rantings. ] and Joseph Smith got it wrong: the Indians are from Mongolia, not Israel. [You are ignorant of many facts. Would you like me to give you specifics about the Hebrew origins of some of the Indians and recent findings of Hebrew writings of the Ten Commandments in Indian burial mounds? ]
Yes, Simon Southerton's book is nothing but wild assertions and sloppy rantings. From the language, I'm guessing he reached that conclusion by reading the FARMS articles, not from reading Southerton's book. Unlike him, however, I read the FARMS articles. I actually read them first. Then I read Southerton's book. And I've read his responses to the FARMS articles. The only lack of rigor or ranting was in the FARMS articles and the church's subsequent excommunication of Southerton. So, even though I've sent him a copy of the book and I'm pretty sure he hasn't read it, I'm the one who's only considered one side and apparently a very flawed one. OK.

He offered to send me evidence of the 10 Commandments written in Hebrew found in Indian burial grounds. Maybe I should take him up on that since I'm pretty sure I know what he's referring to and it has been conclusively proven to be a fraud.

You see, unlike him, I have actually read both sides of each issue.

So I found myself at 1:00 am over on Jeff Lindsay's web site trying to make sure I hadn't overlooked something. I read a brilliant article on why circumstantial evidence and the Book of Mormon witnesses can't be ignored any longer and we should just all stop fighting the obvious and accept Joseph Smith and the divinity of the Book of Mormon. My goodness. I've had two migraines today and that didn't help any.

It also had the most compelling evidence found to date (his and other apologists words, not mine): the letters NHM found in the middle of the Arabian desert that MIGHT be the land of Nahom. Of course, the earliest find dates to 900 A.D. They recently found an altar dating to the Book of Mormon period, but it refers to a "Nihmite." Based on this he conjectures that it would be reasonable that the would have also been a land of Nihm named after this person. Not Nahom, mind you, but I don't think they wrote out their vowels so you can pretty much fill in whatever ones you want. Convenient. The obvious question is, what does it prove? It shows that there might have been a land in Arabia with a name that is similar to a Book of Mormon name which, frankly, isn't that shocking and really doesn't prove anything except point out an interesting parallel or coincidence.

You see the work "consistent" a lot on his web site. This is the sort of "evidence" that my dad and other Mormons swoon over. The Book of Mormon mentions big cities and America has ruins of big cities. The Indians have a legend of a great white god that is consistent with the story of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon has chiasmus and so does hebrew writing. It's all very interesting and my father fails to understand that that is all it is. It's not evidence. Given three continents and several thousand years to play with, I'm sure you can find all kinds of interesting parallels and correlations. It's still not proof. The goal is to make Mormonism plausible. Again, that isn't proof.

Here's what I consider proof. Contradictions and counterexamples. Logic stipulates that a contradiction is evidence of something being false. A counterexample is a concrete example that counters or contradicts a statement and proves it to be false. It's often much easier to prove something false than it is to prove something true because all it takes is a contradiction or a counterexample. The Book of Mormon and the history of the church is full of those.

In the end, this is why I wound up reading so much about the church. The church and it's apologists do an outstanding job of muddying the water and trying to make the church look at least plausible to the uninformed. Then they apply very effective brainwashing techniques that prevent many members from being able to even consider the possibility that they are being misled. I knew people like my father would attack and I had to feel like I had the bases covered and could respond. I had to make sure I didn't have any doubts. And I guess it worked, because I don't. But, I still keep my mind open. One apologist claimed that the anti-Mormons wouldn't believe in the Book of Mormon even if the gold plates were presented to them. They are wrong. I'm willing to consider any evidence and I'm willing to keep an open mind. If my father or the church could answer my questions and provide convincing evidence then I'd be willing to be persuaded. But they don't. Instead they dabble in interesting coincidences and ignore the really thorny contradictions and other errors.

You know what. The other reason I'm still up even though I've had a long day is that it really just pisses me off that my father accused me of being close-minded and blindly rejecting any evidence for the church without even considering it. It really hurts me because it is so far from the truth. This whole journey out of Mormonism has been extremely painful and I resent the claim that it is somehow my fault that I was defrauded and refuse to continue to submit to the lies and deception. It's the spiritual equivalent of blaming the rape victim. I blog because I'm alone in this and the isolation is intentional. Leaving the church has meant severing attachments that were once an important part of my life including but not limited to friend and social activities. I'm now looked down on by my father and others that once respected me. People like my father have to explain my disbelief and the only explanations that they seem to have are pride, close-mindedness, and wickedness. The possibility that it is due to facts, reason, and conscience don't seem to occur to them because those things would obviously bring me back into the bosom of the church.

I'm going to bed. Hopefully I can sleep because I have to get up early and my head hurts. Sorry it's been so long between posts.

5 comments:

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I have a headache today too, because I couldn't get the letter I got (from a TBM in my ward whom I barely know) out of my head. It'd be so much easier to disregard it and laugh except my 13 yr old son wants to keep going to church, and I have to seriously worry what people at church might feel "prompted" to say to him.

I can almost guarantee also that my dad will react much like yours when I tell him I've left the faith. Sigh.

You seem to be very open-minded, no matter what he says.

Keep up the great writing. You feel like a kindred spirit to me.

La said...

DANG! I thought today was Wednesday, and so you were up still, and so we could be late-night blogger friends. Oh well, a day late and a penny short.

Bull, the only thing I can say is that you should remember that your dad KNOWS. I remember a time when I KNEW. Nothing could detract me from that mindset. Those stupid little meaningless crumbs (NHM) that people like Jeff Lindsay parade about may as well be the verdict in a courtroom.

From the outside, you and I can see otherwise. We can see the techniques of brainwashing (even though as mormons we never acknowledged them as such). We can see the very tipped scale of disproving evidence against proving evidence. We've let the need for it to be true go. Your father has not. Really, you shouldn't get upset that he thinks you're close-minded because he believes in a fairy tale. What does he "know"?

Sorry for the late night ramble, here. :) Hope you have a better day, less headaches, very soon.

Michelle said...

I hate thinking about all the ways my former church acquaintances will explain my departure from "the faith." Like you said, they will all involve pride, being led astray by the philosophies of men, or worse, satan, an unwillingness to live the standards. Yeah, that's it. I sold me soul to the devil so I could drink coffee.

Arizona Expositor said...

Man I feel for you, my wife feels better thinking that I was swayed by liars and cheats who make their living off of dups like me who leave the church. It's all so frustrating. Good luck with your dad...

Bull said...

Yeah, like the liars running TSCC don't have a vested financial interest in sustaining their enterprise.

I love how members of TSCC are able to so easily dismiss evidence against the church without ever reading or considering it or checking the facts. For me the big eye opener was discovering that those evil anti-Mormons dealt openly and honestly with the church's positions and responded with their own evidence and reason. Good look finding similar consideration from the church or its apologists.