Edit: I removed a portion of this post in order to simply it and focus on just one topic. I’ll rewrite the first part of the post (that I removed) at a later date. I also removed the comments because they no longer applied to this post; they weren’t removed because of content, they just weren’t relevant any more. The author(s) of them should feel free to re-comment, if they desire, when I post the first part of my article again.
Here is my review of a website I stumbled across.
This site is full of so-called intellectual criticisms of Mormonism that often consist of random quotes taken out of context to make a narrow and often unrelated point. Sometimes quotes are cleverly juxtaposed to make it easier for someone to make a faulty intuitive leap. Many of the quotes can be true independently but they sometimes are put together in a specific way to make a point that is not true. This is a common anti-Mormon tactic. This is a common tactic in political campaigns. It is also a common general rhetorical tactic.
There are numerous posts that seemingly point out inconsistencies and shifts in church doctrine over time, as if this somehow hurts the church. The LDS Church is founded on modern-day revelation – on the belief that we have a living prophet who is the only one authorized to receive revelation for the entire church and to authoritatively interpret the scriptures and speak for the Lord. If some doctrines did not have to change over time in response to the times, why would there be a need for a living prophet?
Because the authors who contribute to this site come across as providing intellectual criticisms of the LDS Church, church doctrine, and church leaders, I’ll write about the Church and intellectualism.
The LDS Church is sometimes criticized for being anti-intellectual. What is true about that is that the Church does not approve of intellectuals who place their own personal beliefs and egos above that of revealed doctrine; people who think that they know better than the prophet just because they might think they are smarter than him or a particular church leader. Some of these intellectuals want to sell their messes of pottage for what they think is truth. So some criticize the Church for occasionally excommunicating these “free-thinkers” for “doing nothing” but questioning authority or telling the “truth.” This brand of intellectualism consists of religious anarchists, people who believe that they should have complete immunity and impunity for their words and actions.
They criticize the Church for encouraging blind faith while at the same time disregarding LDS doctrine that teaches that God values moral (free) agency so much that a war was fought in heaven over it. Church leaders always let people have their agency, even if that means the people lose their membership in the Church. Church leaders do not call for us to have blind faith, although there are instances when we need to take a step or two into the dark or to take a leap of faith, they want us to have simple faith (that’s not simple-minded faith, it’s pure and holy faith – the faith of a child in a parent). The LDS Church is certainly not opposed to intellectuals. Does not God have the greatest intellect of all? Do we not believe that we are His children and can become like Him?
I am not encouraging people to think less or to stop asking questions. Think hard, ask the tough questions but make sure you ask God to know the truth; you can know all truth through the power of the Holy Ghost. The gospel of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accept and encompass all truth, regardless of topic. Science and doctrine go hand in hand when science is true (and when the doctrine is true).
My personal belief and philosophy is that I may believe many theories and “truths” of science and philosophy but I’m not willing to bet my eternal salvation on those. For example, I could spend my whole life doing neuropsychology and neuroscience research and discover, in the next life, that everything I thought I knew was true was in fact false. I would not be upset because I leave myself open to that possibility, even if it is not likely. The only sure thing that I really know is my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that He lives, that He has a plan for me and all of us, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His church restored to the earth and that the keys, authority, and ordinances necessary for salvation are held therein. Everything that I know to be true is related to that knowledge. All worldly, scientific, or other knowledge is secondary. The more I study science, the more sure I am that Truth is only revealed by God through His prophets and through the Holy Ghost.