I Talked with Mormons for 2 Hours...(very long)
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29-07-2017, 09:20 PM
I Talked with Mormons for 2 Hours...(very long)
Okay, so I just spent several hours writing this, and I apologize in advance for spelling, grammatical, or content-based errors. I just wanted to get this whole thing out there, describe my whole experience as best as I could. So get ready for a long one. There's a surprise at the end for people who get that far, I promise.




So, several months ago a couple of Mormon missionaries came to my mother's house, left a BoM, and talked to her about typical happy Christian-y things for a while. They've been visiting her every week or so since then, and I decided that it might be a perfect opportunity to have a little talk with them. It was not at all my intention to de-convert them: I was genuinely curious about their beliefs, and I had never truly sat down and had a conversation with the faithful before.

So, my mother set an appointment for 2:00 PM (she said that she told them to bring their Bibles and thinking caps because I 'knew my stuff'), and we walked out to a nice gazebo in the park, behind a Methodist church. I wish I could say it was nice and peaceful, but there was construction going on nearby, and in fact we had to take a detour around it to get to the meeting place.

My mother and I arrived about half an hour early, and I spent the time getting ready. I had taken the liberty of reading the first 'book' of the BoM the night before (1 Nephi), and writing down a list of questions I would ask them. There weren't any CHECKMATE THEIST notes, but I did make note of a few historical incongruities in the text, which I'll get to later on. I brought the BoM they had provided and my huge Leviathan of a Bible (It's the Penguin Classics edition of the KJV, with quotation marks and the Apocrypha), as well as some sheets of paper to record some notes of their responses.

We waited for quite a while, actually. At around 2:10 my mother decided to call them (with my phone since her batteries were dead) just to make sure she had the time right, to no response but an answering machine. We waited another 5-7 minutes and I was beginning to feel a mixture of disappointment and relief. I had taken the time to read some of their texts and to write down questions about their faith, and they seemed to be a no-show. Nevertheless, as anyone who knows me in real life will tell you, I'm socially awkward and shy as fuck, and I was almost a little glad that I might not have to risk meeting new people or the possibility of offending them.

My mother decided that she had waited long enough and rose to leave and charge her phone. I decided I'd wait until 2:30, not only in the hopes of getting my questions answered, but since I frankly had nothing better to do and liked the fresh air. Lo and behold, however, since as my mother had set off towards the path to leave, there arose from the distance the distinct forms of two young men, dressed in bright white shirts with ties.

My mother pointed them out excitedly as if I might have possibly missed them, and then scurried back into the gazebo. I rose to my feet and stood at the entrance step, filled with an ever-growing mixture of apprehension and anticipation as they approached. I could see that they were about my age (I'm 17, and they later revealed themselves to be 18 and 19): one was about a half foot shorter than the other, who was about my height. I know it's stupid, but I'm bad with faces and my memory of detail is lacking, but I think the taller one was blond, and the other had brown hair.

I realized then that for better or for worse, I couldn't back out now. They waved at my mother, who did likewise, and finally stepped up into the gazebo. We shook hands and introduced ourselves to each other. I won't reveal their names, so let's just call the taller one Elisha and the shorter one Vincent.

I could see from their name tags that they held the title 'elder,' and I accordingly asked whether I should refer to them as such, as an honorific. Elisha said that I could if I wished, but that I could also just use their first names if I wished. I like how he said that: "We have first names too!" Or something like that. I always heard that Mormons were nice, and indeed that was my impression -- at least of Elisha. Throughout the conversation Vincent only spoke a few times, and I think that's either because he was new and learning through observation, or because Elisha was new and learning through action. It could be that Vincent was just shy, however.

I informed them that I was curious about their beliefs and had written down questions, and indeed, I warned them that I was very skeptical of everything (I was scared to say atheist or explicitly state that I didn't believe in God at any point.) They didn't seem to mind too much, and we took our seats.

The first thing I asked was the reason why they weren't allowed to enter my mother's house without an 18 year old male present (oh yeah, forgot to mention that bit. They talked with my mother in the hall or in the park whenever they came over). Apparently it was just a "precaution" from scandal. It was my impression there may have been a specific incident in the church's history where a missionary seduced a single woman, and thus the church didn't want to risk it. It may also be a simple way to reduce "temptation." Either way, soon after we began to talk my mother got bored and took her leave. She headed for home, leaving just me with the two missionaries.

They were nice and polite, and indeed, so was I, to such an extent that I'm sure the more militant among you may groan at my leniency -- but I wasn't there to fight or debate, just to make sense of Mormonism and find out what makes the religious tick.

I asked some basic questions, like "In your opinion who is God?" to which Elisha answered something along the lines of "He is the Heavenly Father of our Spirits." I pressed them on spirits, asking what exactly that was. They said it was another term for souls, but I insisted on a concrete explanation. I asked if a soul was something measurable or detectable. Elisha had "never thought about that" before, and eventually -- I think it was Vincent -- offered a sort of analogy for the soul. Humans' bodies and their souls coexist together "like a hand and a glove." I thought this was a neat analogy, and I foresaw no better explanation, so I moved on.

I asked who Jesus was. They described him as a teacher whom they had "come to know through prayer," who is wiser and more powerful than them, but also a sort of "big brother" who looked after them.

I simply couldn't resist this glorious opportunity. I inquired: "So Jesus is like a Big Brother who is always watching?" They wholeheartedly agreed to this assessment. Tongue [Image: big-brother-is-watching-you-1984-ingsoc-...7403-0.jpg]

I asked them who the Devil was. Apparently, in their view, before the existence of the Earth our "spirits" were all brother and sisters (this part was confusing, so I may not be recording it correctly. Sorry.) After God starting sending them to Earth, God decided to send a redeemer to them (for some reason?) So Satan (named Lucifer at this time) and Jesus were brothers, and the former wanted to go down and be the redeemer, bypass free will, and force people to be good (I was tempted to mention Clockwork Orange) in order to bring himself more glory instead of bringing God glory. God said no, and chose Jesus instead, whose plan it was to give mankind the right to choose salvation or not (that's quite a choice, right? Facepalm ) Lucifer got bitchy, changed his name to Satan, and decided to start messing with people, tricking them to do evil. I pointed out that this was the exact opposite of what he was doing originally, which Elisha conceded to. But I guess you need some scapegoat, right?

I asked who Joseph Smith was. Apparently, in 1820 he was inspired byJames 1:5 and prayed to God in a grove of trees to determine which church was the right one. He had an epiphany and discovered that none of them were (I guess he got at least that right, eh?). So it was up to him to found the true successor to Jesus' ministry. Apparently there was a large gap between the death of Jesus' apostles and Smith's vision where there was no true church with an accurate doctrine, but ever since then we've been in the "latter days", where God's truth is much clearer, and where anyone who follows Jesus correctly is considered a "saint" -- hence, "latter day saints." I asked, and they confirmed that under these criteria they themselves were saints. This particular exchange was Vincent's shining moment. He quoted what Smith had said about his vision verbatim, with the descriptions of a pillar of light, and the voice of God, etcetera. Elisha had specifically suggested that Vincent speak the quote, so perhaps it was part of his training to memorize that particular section.

Anyway, they assured me that Joseph Smith was just one of a list of many prophets whom God had sent to get people to repent and turn towards the just path. We listed some of the prophets, but then Elisha mentioned how Noah was telling people to repent before the flood. Having just read the Genesis flood myth a few days previously, I knew that this was inaccurate. The idea of Noah going around and trying to get people to repent is a modern tradition -- a revisionist fantasy that has no scriptural basis, much like the idea that the serpent in the garden of Eden was Satan in disguise.

I said that I could not recall the part of the story where he had tried to get people to repent, and so they tried to look for it. Vincent took out his physical Bible and Elisha scanned the verses on his tablet. They searched for several minutes, and, sure enough, nowhere does it say that that Noah was trying to get people to keep the commandments. I also pointed out there were hardly any commandments to keep at this point: Moses wasn't for many, many generations, and God hadn't made any demands since he told Cain to hit the road. I also took the opportunity to inquire why God would send a flood, killing innocent animals, when he could just send a plague instead. All of these observations and questions visibly shook them, and they assured me they'd look into it. And don't worry, we returned to the flood later. And things got weeeeeeeeeird.

I asked them who wrote the Bible, and was impressed (for whatever reason) that they confessed that many people wrote it over many years. It was at this point that they explained that their church prefers the KJV over any other versions, because they believe it most accurately conveys the ideas of the original texts. I asked, jokingly, why believers didn't just learn ancient Hebrew and Greek.

At this point I decided to dive into the Book of Mormon itself. Within the first section the narrator, Nephi, and his family, are called by God to enter the wilderness, receive some old brass plates, and then build a ship to sail to the "promised land." The missionaries confirmed this land was the Americas, and when I asked, they stated that Nephi's family had landed somewhere in South America around 600 BC. To my relief, they assured me that Nephi and his family were not the first inhabitants of the Americas. They gave a brief synopsis of the rest of the BoM: Nephi's descendants, and those of his brother Laman, branch off into different tribes, and over many years these people learn and the prophets teach, the ways of Jesus. I pointed out that Jesus wouldn't be born for several centuries, but they insisted that like in the Old Testament, the prophets knew about him before he was born. I briefly mused how Jews don't think those prophecies refer to Jesus, but little became of that train of thought. Besides, after Jesus' resurrection, they continued, he traveled to the Americas and preached to the Nephites and Lamanites in person.

The missionaries denied that this was Jesus' second coming, and described your average, run-of-the-mill judgement day when Jesus would return, and all people who died would be given perfect, immortal bodies like when Jesus first returned. I asked for an ETA of this Judgement Day, so I could fit it into my schedule, but alas, they didn't know.

During my perusal of the BoM, I noticed a troubling little implication. You see, Nephi has a vision of the future, where there is one true church and a great church of the Devil, a "whore" that corrupts all the nations and languages in the world. Considering Joseph Smith grew up around American Protestants in the first half of the 19th Century, of course I assumed that this was referring to the Catholic Church, and I still think it is. Elisha admitted that most people who first look into Mormonism assume it's the Catholic Church, but he insisted that the officials of the Church had come out and stated that the Devil Church was simply an allegory for incorrect sects.

For those of you have never opened a Book of Mormon (Laughat ), it's written in the style of the KJV, with intentional archaisms like "exceedingly" and "it came to pass" as well as "thees" and "thous," most likely because Joseph Smith wanted his snake oil to sound holier and more important than it actually was. Smith claimed that the book itself is a translation from ancient golden plates an angel showed him -- the records of the Nephites and Lamanites compiled and abridged by the prophet Mormon (hence, Book of Mormon). I decided to form a whole string of questions about the Book of Mormon's language and translations. You see, the tablets were written in Ancient Egyptian (WTF?), which Smith couldn't understand, so instead he used a strange artefact -- a 'seer stone' in order to somehow dictate the words of the tablets to his friends who then wrote it down. Elisha said that it would have been a great sin to sell the plates, and so God took them back. I asked if Smith had ever bothered to transcribe the writing so that people could compare translations later, and, alas, no he did not. They seemed surprised at my suggestion of doing that, as if the thought of that had never occurred to them before, which I'm sure it hadn't.

Seeing as how it is thus impossible to examine the original sources from which the BoM was allegedly translated, I asked them to clarify if translations of the BoM into other languages used the English version, which they confirmed. I reminded them that the KJV was translated from various sources in the "original tongues", and that second-hand translating leaves much meaning and nuance lacking. They conceded this, and admitted that even the Bible had been corrupted through time, distance, and translations. Nonetheless, they believed that there remained a fundamental spiritual inspiration which rendered the scriptures still endowed with an underlying truth and power. In fact, apparently, when groups of Mormons translate the BoM into other languages, they all pray very hard to come up with the best word to express the same idea (one must wonder why Smith even needed to have the plates as an excuse when he could have just said he prayed and the words came to him.). I expressed my skepticism with regards to the BoM's similarities to the KJV, and wondered why Smith would translate it into language which was already archaic by the 1800's. I received no satisfactory language to this. I also expressed curiosity about how the other translations read -- whether they were written to express their respective languages' specific archaisms. And in fact they offered to get me a copy of the Spanish translation of the Book of Mormon (I assume it's called El Libro de Mormón) so I can compare it to Spanish's equivalent to the KJV -- La Santa Biblia Versión Reina-Valera. That was a very thoughtful offer of theirs, and I accepted. I should receive when we meet again on Monday.

Anyway, I just wrote that Smith dictated the BoM? Well, apparently sometime along the way the guy who was writing it down's family demanded to see some of the writings Smith was coming up with and eventually Smith allowed it. That section was called the book of Lehi, and instead of simply dictating an identical version from the same plates, Smith claimed that the family had corrupted and edited his writing and that they would accuse him of lying when he rewrote it. (I know from South Park that they didn't edit it and were testing to see if he could dictate the same text twice, which he obviously couldn't. I wonder why... Consider ). So apparently God confiscated the Book of Lehi. It's funny because at several points in 1 Nephi the narrator says that he could go into further detail, or explain his genealogy (that would be too verifiable, of course), but he won't because his father (Lehi) already did so. Facepalm

In front of the BoM is a list of several wtinesses who testified to the existence of the golden plates before they disappeared. Wanna know the problem?

Oliver Cowdery
David Whitmer
Martin Harris
Christian Whitmer
Jacob Whitmer
Peter Whitmer, Jun.
John Whitmer
Hiram Page
Joseph Smith, Sen.
Hyrum Smith
Samuel H. Smith

Let's play detective for a bit. Can anyone notice a problem with this list of witnesses? Consider Consider Consider



Obviously I pointed out that it wasn't much of a list when 3 of the witnesses are in your immediate family, 5 more are family friends, 2 more are already believers to whom you've dictated your holy book, and missionaries can't even remember who that 1 other person was (they said they'd look Hiram Page up later). I asked why Smith wouldn't get some witnesses who didn't already believe him, and the answer wasn't very good. I think it was something about how the Mormons were being persecuted (I corrected Elisha, who said "prosecuted"). Not that it matters too much anyway. Witnesses are the most unreliable form of evidence either way. I guess donating to a museum was out of the question?

Speaking of persecution, though, we talked about that for a bit. And of course I doubt there's anyone here who would condone the treatment the Mormon's received at this time. In fact, in Missouri the governor actually issued an executive order calling for the execution of all Mormons in the state. That's why Mormons all moved out West to Ohio -- they started 'utopian' societies like many others did during that period: "The Second Great Awakening", it's called.

While we were on the subject of the history of Mormonism, I inquired about the church's historical stance on the issue of slavery which was getting very heated at that time. It was my impression that they either didn't know the answer or weren't comfortable with it. They dodged it a bit. Apparently the church sometimes baptized slaves, but Elisha for one didn't think any Mormons owned slaves and that if they did "they were probably decent masters, no beatings or anything like that." I muttered almost under my breath, "As decent as a slaveowner can be..." But they insisted that everyone is a child of God and equal in his eyes.

Speaking about African-Americans, however, I remembered that they were not allowed to be ordained as Mormon priests until 1978. I asked the missionaries about this. Amusingly, they insisted that this had "nothing to do with racism." On the contrary in fact, apparently blacks couldn't be priests because that would only "cause more people to be racist against them." Blink Don't get me wrong, I do not believe these two to be racists -- in fact, their explanations were hesitant, restrained. They were clearly trying to understand it themselves.

Around this point I began listing off political and theological issues to find the Church's position on them. "Let me just start off with some not at all controversial... abortion!" I said with an unassuming grin. They reiterated that everyone is a child of God, including fetuses, and that abortion would thus be immoral. However, they did list three exceptions: in cases where the fetus wouldn't survive anyway, in cases where the mother's life is in danger, and, reluctantly, in cases of rape and incest, in which case it is "frowned upon" but is still "the mother's decision." I asked about stem-cell research but they didn't know. They'll be looking that one up later too.

Next was same-sex marriage. It's the usual "God created men and women for each other" and thus "marriage is meant for a man and a woman." Elisha clarified that in their view homosexuality is a choice. Same goes for transgenderism. "God sent people to earth as male or female for a reason" and they shouldn't try to change it. I pointed out that many individuals with gender dysphoria have tangible, endemic differences in brain chemistry from their birth and asked whether it could therefore be possible that God created them like that for a reason. Like with black priesthood they seemed uncomfortable with their own viewpoints in this instance.

I apologized in advance for the next question: "What is your church's position on polygamy?" Luckily I managed to elicit some smiles and laughs from my preemptive apology. But yeah, turns out that most modern Mormon sects don't allow polygamy "because of the law." Apparently there is a fundamentalist denomination that endorses it, however: the FLDS, which I assume means Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints.

Then I asked about their afterlife, and I was rather surprised with how different it was from mainstream Christianity. From what I can gather, when a person dies their spirit goes to a sort of spiritual "waiting room" in the spirit world, and whatever emotional state that that individual experienced during life continues in that waiting room until the day of judgement. Therefore it is the Church's job to try to make as many people happy as possible before the end times. While in the spirit world, however, apparently Jesus' message is provided to everyone, and then they can choose whether or not to accept his sacrifice or not. (Again, what kind of a choice is that? Facepalm ) After judgement day, and Jesus returns, people will have one last chance to choose him, and based on their decisions they'll be assigned to one of three kingdoms:

The Celestial Kingdom, for believers who followed all of the commandments (Jesus and God live here),

The Terrestrial Kingdom, for believers who didn't follow the commandments and non-believers who were righteous,

And the Telestial Kingdom (I asked them where the root for that word was and they didn't know), for the unrighteous unbelievers.

There's no real damnation or eternal punishment. Apparently all of these kingdoms are sweet, but the lower ones are less sweet than others.

As for baptism, they believe in full immersion after the person has reached age 8, which they consider old enough to make decisions.

They didn't recognize the term "Eucharist," and refer to that rite as simply a "sacrament". They eat bread, but never drink alcohol. Instead they use water. They don't think that Jesus is literally there: they're consubstantiationists.

I asked what they thought of apostates, and they contrasted themselves with Jehovah's Witness who, you may know, are notoriously assholes to their apostates, shunning and ostracizing them completely. I don't know how much I can believe them, but they seemed to think that Mormons treated apostates much better, accepting them and still loving them since they're still God's children. At the end of the day for them, I guess as long as you get the message in the spirit world, it doesn't matter too much if you miss out on it during this life.

They had never even heard about the Biblical Apocrypha, which, I assume, isn't unusual among most Christian sects.

My very last question concerned what was without a doubt the clearest and most demonstrable contradiction with reality that I had found in the BoM: the pièce de résistance, as it were: 1 Nephi 18:25, once Nephi and his family land in South America:
Quote: And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper.

It is an undisputed historical fact, verifiable through virtually endless sources of evidence, that prior to the arrival of Europeans about two millennia after this story is supposed to take place, there were no horses, asses, oxen, or cows in the Americas. When I pointed this out, Elisha admitted that he too had known that before -- before he was born again. That was one of the reasons he found it hard to believe. But he simply prayed, and God told him it was true. After all, cannot God do anything?

From there our discussion about faith in spite of evidence branched off into Noah's flood and evolution and it got weird.[i] Apparently their church concedes that evolution is a fact, but before we got to that Elisha seemed to imply that there was a possibility that Dinosaurs didn't exist. I informed him that fossils were demonstrable, and he mused that God could have put them there 6000 years ago and made them look older. I of course responded he could have made the universe last Tuesday and given us memories, and instead of noticing that I was refuting him, he agreed. God can do whatever he wants, and who are we to think otherwise, I guess.

There was still that problem of Adam and Eve, and that complete clusterfuck that is Noah's Ark. I told them about how the Epic of Gilgamesh preceded the Genesis story, and various reasons why Noah's Ark couldn't work (genetic defects from inbreeding, all the plants would be dead, the water pressure would have killed all the fish [I made a joke here about how Finding Nemo was not historically accurate with regards to water pressure], how the animals would get back, etc. I also offered a symbolic explanation for Adam and Eve -- that it was the story of the agricultural revolution, when the relative ease and lack of want and ambition from foraging was replaced with the toil and tribulations of agriculture. Once again they seemed hurt because they knew what I was saying was true, but their religion just wouldn't allow a contradiction.

Vincent spoke up again. In the face of all the contradictions and mental jumping-jacks, a verse from the BoM -- one whose sentiment I have seen reflected throughout my experience with these people and their religion -- counteracted his thoughts about contradictions. Moroni 10:4-5:
Quote: And when ye shall receive these things, 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.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

It was this sentiment that inspired Joseph Smith to pray, and allegedly to found his movement; it was this sentiment which inspired these two missionaries, almost exactly my age, to abandon their critical thinking; and it is this sentiment that I believe is Mormonism's greatest evangelical tool: "Just pray, and God will show you the truth of the Book of Mormon." I was rather disheartened at this development, and looked away in sadness a few times. But I assure you that the whole meeting was amicable. They confirmed that I did not come across as hostile, and they even stated that they loved getting questions.

In fact, I forgot to mention another little scriptural hiccup. I had just read through Exodus and I noticed that little 10 Commandments hiccup in the narrative. I asked them what the 10 Commandments were, and of course they starting listing off "Don't kill, don't steal." I informed them that in Exodus itself those commandments are not reffered to as such, and are not explicitly stated to have been carved in stone. If you don't know which one I'm talking about, this should explain it:



They seemed quite shocked about the whole affair and said they would look into the matter later. This wasn't specific to Mormonism -- I wanted to ask any Christian about it. My guess is it's something like the Noah affair, where common tradition says he preached, even though it doesn't say that anywhere. I guess someone somewhere made a mistake, and no one bothered to go and check.

I said that after all that time they could ask me about my beliefs, and of course they asked what my relationship was with Jesus Christ. I sighed and thought for a moment about how to phrase it. I think it went something like this:

"My parents never really brought me up into a specific faith, and so I had to look for myself. So of course I started with the Bible. I started looking into different faiths and beliefs, and I found that there are hundreds of systems around the world that all believe they're right, and who all thinl that everyone else is wrong. To prove it they all use the same methods. Baptists speak in tongues when filled with the holy spirit, when Muslims have near deaht experiences they see the prophet Mohammad -- what I'm looking for, as an outsider, is a religion that is different: a religion with something empirical that sets it apart from the rest."

They seemed to understand my position but as we stood up and they told me that it was their custom as missionaries to pray with people at the end of meetings. I of course found this rather embarrassing, and I wondered for a while whether I shouldn't just humor them and talk to myself. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it. When they asked why not, I don't know why, but the first thing that came to my head was a quote from Hamlet, after Claudius tries praying, and I shared it with them:

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

They asked if I thought I'd be talking to the air, and when I answered in the affirmative they relented. "If it makes you uncomfortable you don't have to," said Elisha. I nodded, we shook hands, agreed on a meeting on Monday for more questions and for that Spanish BoM, and we parted ways.

This conversation -- it's really... moved me, I guess is the word. I've heard about people who believe things despite them not being evidently true or even being evidently not true, but to actually speak to them... I mean, they were certainly nice people, pleasant to speak to, and I think I learned a lot about Mormonism. But it just chills me that I could have been like them so easily, if I had been born into the right house.

You know how the religious look at others as lost souls -- hate the sin love the sinner -- ? I think I look at them as lost minds. I hope that maybe I can get through to them eventually. But I bear no malice towards them. Oh, and to certain individuals (you know who you are situation), please stop slamming doors in Mormons' faces. We all know their beliefs are absurd, and think on a certain level they know they are too, but what exactly are you proving with such hostility? You don't have to talk with them like I did, but please don't be mean. They could have been you. Hell, maybe once upon a time they were.

TL;DR:


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29-07-2017, 11:14 PM
RE: I Talked with Mormons for 2 Hours...(very long)
What exactly do you stand to gain from "getting through to them?" If they're happy and living good lives, and as you said, they're really nice people who deserve respect, then why do you feel the need to intervene in their way of thinking?

(I did read your entire post, btw. I appreciate that you can be kind to people who are soliciting their religious beliefs to you.)
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30-07-2017, 01:38 AM
RE: I Talked with Mormons for 2 Hours...(very long)
(29-07-2017 11:14 PM)Aliza Wrote:  What exactly do you stand to gain from "getting through to them?" If they're happy and living good lives, and as you said, they're really nice people who deserve respect, then why do you feel the need to intervene in their way of thinking?

Accumulation of data.

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30-07-2017, 07:45 AM
RE: I Talked with Mormons for 2 Hours...(very long)
Sorry, but I couldn't make it through your overly-detailed thread. My attention span wanes after a couple of screens of text on any/all forums.

At any rate, I fail to see why you needed to have this tedious and ultimately unnecessary 2-hour(!) conversation with these delusional sorts of people? What did you hope to gain, if anything? You can learn all you need to know about Mormonism from 10 minutes with Rational Wiki, and without having to resist a torrent of bullshit that contradicts just about every scientific fact known to 21st century mankind.

BTW, did you ask them if they were wearing their protective undies? Big Grin

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30-07-2017, 08:40 AM
RE: I Talked with Mormons for 2 Hours...(very long)
(29-07-2017 11:14 PM)Aliza Wrote:  What exactly do you stand to gain from "getting through to them?" If they're happy and living good lives, and as you said, they're really nice people who deserve respect, then why do you feel the need to intervene in their way of thinking?

My thoughts about "getting through to them" are more complicated than that: that was just how I managed to write it down since I don't quite understand it myself.

There was just something so sad about how they had no choice but to dismiss reality for what they almost admitted was wishful thinking. I just can't stand to see people like that. Their job is to go to people and get them to join their belief system and learn the "truth", but one of the most basic tenets of Mormonism is that to see the "truth" you have to pray and wait for a fuzzy feeling. That's no way to look for truth, and teaching that to your children is just... wrong. How can a child of a family like that even attend a history class when their faith tells them falsehoods about the past that have to supersede any evidence?

I don't want to outright de-convert them, I just want them to think past their preconceived worldview. So I ask them tough questions about theology and scripture, and I try to offer other explanations, so they can at least begin to see from my point of view why I can't believe, and maybe ask themselves if their reasons for believing are truly good enough.

(30-07-2017 07:45 AM)SYZ Wrote:  At any rate, I fail to see why you needed to have this tedious and ultimately unnecessary 2-hour(!) conversation with these delusional sorts of people? What did you hope to gain, if anything? You can learn all you need to know about Mormonism from 10 minutes with Rational Wiki, and without having to resist a torrent of bullshit that contradicts just about every scientific fact known to 21st century mankind.

BTW, did you ask them if they were wearing their protective undies? Big Grin

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I concede it likely looks tedious from a text perspective, but I think this was one of the best conversations I ever had (then again, I'm a recluse who seldom talks to people... Weeping ) And of course it was unnecessary, but I wanted to get a better understanding than a wiki page could provide -- not just find out what they believe but show them some contradictions their texts have with reality, not just read about them but actually talk to them. Anyone can read about something, but I had a chance to actually see it.

I had never actually planned for the conversation to have a specific length -- it just kept going and I didn't notice how much time had passed until the end.

GAH!! Angry I forgot about the magic underwear!

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30-07-2017, 08:52 AM (This post was last modified: 30-07-2017 09:09 AM by Aliza.)
RE: I Talked with Mormons for 2 Hours...(very long)
(30-07-2017 08:40 AM)TSG Wrote:  
(29-07-2017 11:14 PM)Aliza Wrote:  What exactly do you stand to gain from "getting through to them?" If they're happy and living good lives, and as you said, they're really nice people who deserve respect, then why do you feel the need to intervene in their way of thinking?

My thoughts about "getting through to them" are more complicated than that: that was just how I managed to write it down since I don't quite understand it myself.

There was just something so sad about how they had no choice but to dismiss reality for what they almost admitted was wishful thinking. I just can't stand to see people like that. Their job is to go to people and get them to join their belief system and learn the "truth", but one of the most basic tenets of Mormonism is that to see the "truth" you have to pray and wait for a fuzzy feeling. That's no way to look for truth, and teaching that to your children is just... wrong. How can a child of a family like that even attend a history class when their faith tells them falsehoods about the past that have to supersede any evidence?

I don't want to outright de-convert them, I just want them to think past their preconceived worldview. So I ask them tough questions about theology and scripture, and I try to offer other explanations, so they can at least begin to see from my point of view why I can't believe, and maybe ask themselves if their reasons for believing are truly good enough.

(30-07-2017 07:45 AM)SYZ Wrote:  At any rate, I fail to see why you needed to have this tedious and ultimately unnecessary 2-hour(!) conversation with these delusional sorts of people? What did you hope to gain, if anything? You can learn all you need to know about Mormonism from 10 minutes with Rational Wiki, and without having to resist a torrent of bullshit that contradicts just about every scientific fact known to 21st century mankind.

BTW, did you ask them if they were wearing their protective undies? Big Grin

[Image: magic_underwear.jpg]
Bullet Proof, Fire Proof, and Boner Proof

Tongue

I concede it likely looks tedious from a text perspective, but I think this was one of the best conversations I ever had (then again, I'm a recluse who seldom talks to people... Weeping ) And of course it was unnecessary, but I wanted to get a better understanding than a wiki page could provide -- not just find out what they believe but show them some contradictions their texts have with reality, not just read about them but actually talk to them. Anyone can read about something, but I had a chance to actually see it.

I had never actually planned for the conversation to have a specific length -- it just kept going and I didn't notice how much time had passed until the end.

GAH!! Angry I forgot about the magic underwear!

I've had a conversation about Mormonism with some online "elders." I didn't find it inspirational or even interesting. Their religious beliefs are so disconnected from my way of thinking that I couldn't even find common ground.

Nice people, though.

Edited to add: if you're going to ask about Mormon underwear, make sure to ask generally. If you wouln't normally inquire about what underwear anyone else is wearing, then don't ask them about theirs. Tongue
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30-07-2017, 10:14 AM
RE: I Talked with Mormons for 2 Hours...(very long)
(30-07-2017 08:52 AM)Aliza Wrote:  
(30-07-2017 08:40 AM)TSG Wrote:  My thoughts about "getting through to them" are more complicated than that: that was just how I managed to write it down since I don't quite understand it myself.

There was just something so sad about how they had no choice but to dismiss reality for what they almost admitted was wishful thinking. I just can't stand to see people like that. Their job is to go to people and get them to join their belief system and learn the "truth", but one of the most basic tenets of Mormonism is that to see the "truth" you have to pray and wait for a fuzzy feeling. That's no way to look for truth, and teaching that to your children is just... wrong. How can a child of a family like that even attend a history class when their faith tells them falsehoods about the past that have to supersede any evidence?

I don't want to outright de-convert them, I just want them to think past their preconceived worldview. So I ask them tough questions about theology and scripture, and I try to offer other explanations, so they can at least begin to see from my point of view why I can't believe, and maybe ask themselves if their reasons for believing are truly good enough.


I concede it likely looks tedious from a text perspective, but I think this was one of the best conversations I ever had (then again, I'm a recluse who seldom talks to people... Weeping ) And of course it was unnecessary, but I wanted to get a better understanding than a wiki page could provide -- not just find out what they believe but show them some contradictions their texts have with reality, not just read about them but actually talk to them. Anyone can read about something, but I had a chance to actually see it.

I had never actually planned for the conversation to have a specific length -- it just kept going and I didn't notice how much time had passed until the end.

GAH!! Angry I forgot about the magic underwear!

I've had a conversation about Mormonism with some online "elders." I didn't find it inspirational or even interesting. Their religious beliefs are so disconnected from my way of thinking that I couldn't even find common ground.

Nice people, though.

Edited to add: if you're going to ask about Mormon underwear, make sure to ask generally. If you wouln't normally inquire about what underwear anyone else is wearing, then don't ask them about theirs. Tongue

I wouldn't call my conversation inspirational, but I think I would probably say it was enlightening, just for the insight it gave me into the theistic mind. The common ground I found came from the close proximity of our ages, and despite the fact that I don't believe any of their claims, I find Mormonism, like other religions, fascinating, and I could read about religion for hours. Maybe that's why I had so many questions and the conversation stretched out for 2 hours...

As for the underwear, yeah.... I was going to word it something like "What sorts of garments do members of your church wear to show their devotion?"

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30-07-2017, 12:11 PM
RE: I Talked with Mormons for 2 Hours...(very long)
(29-07-2017 09:20 PM)TSG Wrote:  The first thing I asked was the reason why they weren't allowed to enter my mother's house without an 18 year old male present (oh yeah, forgot to mention that bit. They talked with my mother in the hall or in the park whenever they came over). Apparently it was just a "precaution" from scandal. It was my impression there may have been a specific incident in the church's history where a missionary seduced a single woman, and thus the church didn't want to risk it. o]

It might be connected with the sex in chains case forty years ago. It was well publicized at the time.

The Mormon sex in chains case was a widely reported scandal involving a sexual assault by an American woman, Joyce McKinney, on a young American male Mormon missionary, Kirk Anderson, in England in 1977. According to Anderson, he had been abducted by McKinney from the steps of a church meetinghouse, chained to a bed and raped by her.

Joyce McKinney scandal 1977

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30-07-2017, 12:31 PM
RE: I Talked with Mormons for 2 Hours...(very long)
(30-07-2017 12:11 PM)Norm Deplume Wrote:  
(29-07-2017 09:20 PM)TSG Wrote:  The first thing I asked was the reason why they weren't allowed to enter my mother's house without an 18 year old male present (oh yeah, forgot to mention that bit. They talked with my mother in the hall or in the park whenever they came over). Apparently it was just a "precaution" from scandal. It was my impression there may have been a specific incident in the church's history where a missionary seduced a single woman, and thus the church didn't want to risk it. o]

It might be connected with the sex in chains case forty years ago. It was well publicized at the time.

The Mormon sex in chains case was a widely reported scandal involving a sexual assault by an American woman, Joyce McKinney, on a young American male Mormon missionary, Kirk Anderson, in England in 1977. According to Anderson, he had been abducted by McKinney from the steps of a church meetinghouse, chained to a bed and raped by her.

Joyce McKinney scandal 1977

Oh, dear... Shocking Everything about this case is just... wrong. But it might have something to do with the custom. I can't seem to find any other info about the matter.

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30-07-2017, 02:16 PM
RE: I Talked with Mormons for 2 Hours...(very long)
(30-07-2017 10:14 AM)TSG Wrote:  
(30-07-2017 08:52 AM)Aliza Wrote:  I've had a conversation about Mormonism with some online "elders." I didn't find it inspirational or even interesting. Their religious beliefs are so disconnected from my way of thinking that I couldn't even find common ground.

Nice people, though.

Edited to add: if you're going to ask about Mormon underwear, make sure to ask generally. If you wouln't normally inquire about what underwear anyone else is wearing, then don't ask them about theirs. Tongue

I wouldn't call my conversation inspirational, but I think I would probably say it was enlightening, just for the insight it gave me into the theistic mind. The common ground I found came from the close proximity of our ages, and despite the fact that I don't believe any of their claims, I find Mormonism, like other religions, fascinating, and I could read about religion for hours. Maybe that's why I had so many questions and the conversation stretched out for 2 hours...

As for the underwear, yeah.... I was going to word it something like "What sorts of garments do members of your church wear to show their devotion?"

Two questions:

Why do you assume there is just one theistic mindset?

How thoroughly do you understand every experience and way of being that you can assume all religious folk would be better off giving them up? (Please note I am not questioning whether or not their beliefs are true, just the basis for your assumption that they would be better off without them.)

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
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