Arguments against Agnosticism

William Lane Craig is a wonderful philosopher:

John Lennox is a bright mathematician and philosopher. Lennox and other discuss the lack of evidence for the multiverse. But lack of evidence is no problem when blind faith can be inserted.

Alvin Plantinga is a bright mind:

Mark Hofmann

I grew up in the 1980s and remember hearing bits and pieces about this saga. Hofmann was a con man and murder who was also an expert in the field of LDS history and documents.

Informative and fascinating insights from Gospel Tangents:

This fellow noticed the elements in the ink that made him think these documents were possible forgeries.

Misreading the Bible


I recently discovered Gospel Tangents YouTube channel. The host, Rick, finds terrific scholars. Ben shares very helpful insights.

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For millennia, mankind believed the earth was flat. Does the Bible support that view?

Ben Spackman says yes. We’ll talk about a biblical world view, and how we’ve come around to believe the earth is round, rather than flat. Check out our conversation…

The Book of Genesis describes the creation of the earth in 7 days. Can that be interpreted through a scientific viewpoint?

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Ben Spackman will answer that question. Check out our conversation…

Was Jonah really in the belly of a great fish for 3 days?

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I learned quite a bit about the forward-thinking Pres. McKay:

Pres. Smith was a wonderful prophet, but not a scientist. A very literal thinker.

Women and the Priesthood

In 1992, Dr. Michael Quinn published an essay stating that women have held the priesthood since 1843. It was one of the reasons church leaders cited in excommunicating him.

This will be an interesting contrast to our conversation with Dr. Jonathan Stapley (see below), who did not endorse the idea that women held priesthood.


In the 19th and early 20th century, Mormon women used to lay hands on the sick. Dr. Jonathan Stapley will give us more information on baptisms for health, and temple healers. Check out our conversation…

In April 2014, Elder Oaks gave a sermon on women and priesthood. Dr. Jonathan Stapley this was no ordinary talk. He called it theologically groundbreaking! I was a bit surprised how revolutionary Stapley felt the sermon was.

It seemed to me to be a response to the Ordain Women movement which was asking for women to be allowed to attend the priesthood session of General Conference. Do you think Oaks talk was groundbreaking? Check out our conversation

DNA, the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and more

I’m excited to introduce Dr. Ugo Perego all the way from Italy. This is going to be the first of several conversations where we’re going to talk about DNA. You can think of this first episode as DNA 101 as we learn a little bit about DNA science, but we will continue to learn more about this big topic

DNA evidence seems to show that Native Americans came from Asia rather than from the Middle East as the Book of Mormon implies. Dr. Ugo Perego is a population geneticist. How does he explain this?

If you’ve listened to my interviews on the Book of Mormon, I’ve asked a few people, like Jim Vun Cannon and David Rosenvall about the Lemba Tribe in Africa. They’re a tribe that has Middle Eastern DNA, unlike Native Americans who don’t.

I asked Dr. Ugo Perego about this tribe and we’ll get a good introduction into the Lemba Tribe. We’ll also talk a little bit about Viking DNA. Can that be distinguished from Columbus DNA? Check out our conversation…

In January 2014, the LDS Church produced a new Gospel Topics Essay on DNA and the Book of Mormon. I asked Dr. Ugo Perego if he had anything to do with writing that essay. I think you’ll find his answer very interesting.

We’ll also talk about Rodney Meldrum’s claim to have found DNA in Native Americans here in the Americas. Check out our conversation…..

Some people have been critical of Dr. Perego’s work, especially with regards to these paternity tests. In this episode, Ugo will discuss this criticism. Is he trying to hide something? Check out our conversation…

Swords, Elephants, and Nephite Ore in the Baja

We’re continuing our conversation with David Rosenvall. He’s the guy who came up with who came up with the idea that the Book of Mormon lands may have occurred in the Baja Peninsula. We’ll also discuss some other issues with the Book of Mormon. Are there two Hill Cumorahs? What about steel swords? We’ll talk about that in this conversation….

In this episode we’re going to talk about the thorniest of all topics when it comes to the Book of Mormon: DNA.

Dealing with Doubt

Have you ever doubted your faith? Is it ok to doubt your faith? 

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Couple talks on the topic:

When Doubts and Questions Arise

Overcoming the Danger of Doubt

How Can I Overcome Doubt with Faith?

Elder Holland gives wonderful insight:

In this broadcast of Giving An Answer broadcast, H.C. Felder interviews Dr. Gary Habermas about his book Dealing with Doubt.  Dr. Habermas talks about his personal struggle with doubt and gives biblical examples of strong men of faith who at some point in their walk struggled with the issue of doubt.

He explains how doubt can be used to develop a stronger faith.  Dr. Habermas also discusses the different types of doubt and how to overcome them.

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Habermas contrasts factual doubt with emotional doubt and how one can lead to the other. Emotions are much more complicated.

Emotional doubt is by far the most common and most painful. Gary has worked with clinical psychologists for years on this topic.

Volitional doubt is the type that can’t be reached. They tried once, and aren’t going to try again.

This is Gary speaking on the topic he’s best known for: the resurrection.

Superstitious, Gullible, and Unreliable? Shakers, Gladden Bishop, and Martin Harris

Good summary at the Conflict of Justice blog: Was Martin Harris A Superstitious, Gullible, And Unreliable Witness?

Martin Harris left the Church in 1837 during the Kirtland Bank Crisis. A financial panic that affected the entire country, not just Kirtland, Ohio.

After Martin left he affiliated with many sects from the Quakers to break-off LDS factions. But never did he renounce his faith in the Book of Mormon. Nor did he deny his testimony as a witness to the angel, the Liahona, Golden Plates, Brass Plates, and several other objects on the table in 1829.

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Martin saw the artifacts separate from the other 2 witnesses. He and Joseph were alone with the angel.

For a time, Martin Harris associated with Gladden Bishop. Bishop claimed to have the authority to lead the Church after Joseph’s death. Eventually, many of his followers abandoned Bishop in the 1850s and led by Granville Hedrick formed The Church of Christ (Temple Lot).

Before Joseph’s death, Bishop made all kinds of claims without evidence. Bishop never got witnesses to support his claims to have received the Liahona, the lost 116 pages, the golden plates, the breastplate of Moroni, etc.

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During Martin Harris’ many years away from the Church, Martin affiliated with more than one LDS- related group — even ones with leaders making incredible claims — but never himself denied his own testimony.

Consider reading this account by Susan Easton Black on Martin’s long absence from the Church.

A few interesting paragraphs:

David Dille had known Martin in the 1830s. Dille was called to serve a mission to England in 1852. On his way to England, Dille visited Martin Harris in Kirtland. David recorded the following:

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“Although Martin was in bed at the time and had resolved not to “admit anyone into his room for three days,” he allowed his old acquaintance to enter. “His good wife introduced me to him, he received me very coldly but told me to take a seat,” recalled Dille. “I obeyed.” After a few moments, Martin inquired, “How are they getting along at Salt Lake?” Dille answered, “Fine, delightfull.” Dille’s response was not satisfactory to Martin.

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He came to the point: “How are they getting along with polygamy?” Dille said, “Them that was in it was very comfortable.” Martin pressed him for a better answer: “How do you reconcile polygamy with the doctrine taught by one of the old prophets?” Dille replied, “Mr. Harris, if necessary take what you call polygamy to fulfill that prophecy. . . . There is more females born into the world than there is males and besides the many thousands of young men slain in battle, leaving the ladies without a mate.” After reflecting upon his answer, Martin said, “It is so but I never thought of it in that light before.” He then interrupted their conversation to ask Caroline to bring him breakfast before again turning to Elder Dille.

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Martin captured some of the exciting feelings he once had in the faith.

“I have not eaten anything for three days but the old spirit of Mormonism has cured me,” he claimed. Martin then entreated the missionary, “You must stay with me all day.” Having made other plans, Dille told Martin that he would be visiting “Bro. Whiting that afternoon.” And then Martin invited him to “stay till noon and we will get you a good dinner and I will go with you.” Dille replied, “You can’t go, you are sick.”

At this, Martin sprang out of bed and began to put on his clothes while saying, “sick, no, you have brought the old spirit of Mormonism here and it has cured me.” After dinner, both men called upon Brother Whiting. It was in the Whiting home that Martin spoke at length of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon:

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Do I not know that the Book of Mormon is true? Did I not hear the voice of God out of heaven declaring that it was truth and correctly translated? Yes[,] I did[,] and you know I did for I see you have the spirit of it. . . .

I know that the plates have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice declared it unto us. . . . And as many of the plates as Joseph Smith translated I handled with my hands, plate after plate. Martin then estimated the dimensions of the plates: “I should think they were so long [demonstrating with his hands], or about eight inches, and about so thick, or about four inches; and each of the plates was thicker than the thickest tin.”

Dille asked him if he “ever lost 3,000 dollars by the publishing of the Book of Mormon.” Martin replied, “I never lost one cent. Mr. Smith . . . paid me all that I advanced, and more too.”

So, Martin harbored issues about polygamy and Brigham Young, but the still believed in the Book of Mormon.

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Elder Colburn, like Elder Dille before him, had known Martin years before. Colburn had been baptized in 1833 and had marched with Martin in Zion’s Camp in 1834. It seemed natural for him to search out an old friend. Colburn had a “lengthy interview” with Martin.

He sent news of their discussion to Elder Erastus Snow, editor of the St. Louis Luminary. Excerpts of his interview were printed in the Luminary:

“At first [Martin Harris] was down on polygamy, but before we left he informed me that he never should say a word against it. He confessed that he had lost confidence in Joseph Smith, consequently, his mind became darkened, and he was left to himself; he tried the Shakers, but that would not do, then tried Gladden Bishop, but no satisfaction; [he] had concluded he would wait until the Saints returned to Jackson Co., and then he would repair there.

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He gave us a history of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon; his going to New York and presenting the characters to Professor Anthon, etc.; concluded before we left that “Brigham was Governor,” and that the authorities were there, and that he should go there as soon as he could get away. Yet once again, Martin did not make good on his promise. He refused to leave his beloved Kirtland.”

Martin was in his 70s when he helped his much-younger wife (40) move to Iowa. Caroline Young Harris was a niece of Brigham Young. After moving his family, Martin soon returned to Kirtland. A few years after living in Iowa, Caroline moved to Utah. After years of living alone, Caroline Harris remarried.

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Another account of Martin and William Smith attempting to start a new church in Kirtland:

Elder Beese reported to Pres. Young’s office that “Martin Harris had reorganized the Church in this place with 6 members. Appointed Wm. Smith their Leader Prophet Seer & Revelator. In [a] few days Harris drove Wm. Smith out of the place & damned him to Hell.” William’s aspirations for presidency were short-lived at the hands of a disgruntled Martin Harris.

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A relative of Martin’s visited him at the end of his mission to England:

Elder Homer introduced himself to Martin “as a brother-in-law of Martin Harris, Jr.,—as he [Martin Jr.] had married my eldest sister—and as an Elder of the Church who was returning from a foreign mission.”

Martin snapped, “One of those Brighamite ‘Mormons,’ are you?” He then “railed impatiently against Utah and the founder of the ‘Mormon’ commonwealth.” To Homer, “Martin Harris seemed to be obsessed. He would not understand that there stood before him a man who knew his wife [Caroline] and children, who had followed the Church to Utah.”

After a time, Martin asked, “You want to see the Temple, do you?” Elder Homer nodded. “I’ll get the key,” said Martin. According to Homer, Martin now “radiated with interest.” He led Homer and his cousin into the Kirtland Temple and “through the rooms of the Temple and explained how they were used. He pointed out the place of the School of the Prophets. He showed us where the Temple curtain had at one time hung. He related thrilling experiences in connection with the history of the sacred building.”

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While speaking of the neglected state of the temple, Martin again railed “against the Utah ‘Mormons’” and said that a “gross injustice had been done to him. He should have been chosen President of the Church.” It was then that Martin seemed “somewhat exhausted.”

While they were resting, Homer asked, “Is it not true that you were once very prominent in the Church, that you gave liberally of your means, and that you were active in the performance of your duties?” Martin replied, “That is very true.” He mused, “Things were alright then. I was honored while the people were here, but now that I am old and poor it is all different.”

Homer reported that when questioned about his belief in the Book of Mormon, “the shabby, emaciated little man before us was transformed as he stood with hand outstretched toward the sun of heaven.” “Young man,” answered Martin Harris with impressiveness, “Do I believe it! Do you see the sun shining! Just as surely as the sun is shining on us and gives us light, and the [moon] and stars give us light by night, just as surely as the breath of life sustains us, so surely do I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, chosen of God to open the last dispensation of the fulness of times; so surely do I know that the Book of Mormon was divinely translated. I saw the plates; I saw the Angel; I heard the voice of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God.

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I might as well doubt my own existence as to doubt the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon or the divine calling of Joseph Smith.” To Homer, “it was a sublime moment. It was a wonderful testimony.” Indeed, “it was the real Martin Harris whose burning testimony no power on earth could quench.” Homer claimed that hearing him testify was “the most thrilling moment” of his life.

It was then that Martin turned to Elder Homer and asked, “Who are you?” Homer explained for the second time his relationship. “So my son Martin married your sister,” repeated the old man, shaking his hand. “You know my family then?” “Yes,” he replied, “Wouldn’t you like to see your family again?”

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Martin admitted that he would “like to see Caroline and the children” but lamented that his impoverished circumstances prevented such a visit. “That need not stand in the way,” Homer said. “President Young would be only too glad to furnish means to convey you to Utah.” The mere mention of Brigham Young angered Martin. “Don’t talk Brigham Young,” he warned. Martin then declared, “He would not do anything that was right.” Homer suggested that Martin “send him a message by me.”

Martin refused. Yet he did admit, “I should like to see my family.” Homer entreated him again to convey a message to President Young. Martin replied, You call on Brigham Young. Tell him about our visit. Tell him that Martin Harris is an old, old man, living on charity with his relatives. Tell him I should like to visit Utah, my family, my children—I would be glad to accept help from the Church, but I want no personal favors.

Read the rest through the link above.

Kirtland Bank Crisis

Solid summary of what occurred with the Kirtland banking crisis:

Much more was going on in 1837, including the Panic of 1837, in the broader economy. Consider the broader context from the videos below.

Short video:

Longer video:

Another view from Gospel Tangents:

” The year 1837 was one of the most turbulent periods in all of Mormon history. It was the year the Kirtland Bank collapsed. Many, including apostles, lost faith in Joseph Smith and his ability to lead. Why did Joseph decide that Kirtland needed a bank? What were the economic reasons behind this?

Historian and Author, Dr. Mark Staker talks about this in his book [Hearken O Ye People: The Historical Settings of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations] about the Kirtland period. We’ll talk to him about the events that led up to the Kirtland Banking Crisis.”

Latter-day Saints are equipped to confront atheism

From the Deseret News story in 2017 by Hyrum Lewis.

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In recent decades, anti-religion books have become best-sellers, the culture has become increasingly secular, and religious affiliation has declined among the population. There are many reasons for this rise in atheism, but it is not because atheists have advanced good arguments. They haven’t.

The basic atheist objection to belief in God is that we don’t see him, but this assumes — for no reason at all — that knowledge comes exclusively through sight. Most religious people believe that revelation — scriptures, personal inspiration or living prophets — can give knowledge just as sight, sound or touch can. Many Latter-day Saints believe in God not necessarily because they have seen him, but because they know through spiritual witness that he is real.

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Atheists don’t take such spiritual experiences at face value, but instead dismiss them as mere illusions — tricks played on us by the brain. The mind evolved to believe nonsense, says the atheist, so we can just discard spiritual experiences accordingly.

But notice that by saying our brains are powerful deception machines, atheists have undercut the validity of the science that forms the very basis of their worldview. If we can dismiss spiritual experiences (such as “feeling the Holy Ghost”) by appealing to brain chemistry, we can also dismiss sensory experiences in the same way and for the same reasons. If our brains are built to trick us, why should we trust anything they tell us, including the evidence for evolution, relativity or any other scientific theory? When it comes to spiritual experiences, the atheist refers to the brain as an all-powerful deception machine; when it comes to science, the atheist refers to the brain as an all-powerful truth machine.

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The atheist claim that “we don’t see God” is also false. The scriptures and LDS traditions are full of accounts of people who have seen, heard or even touched God. Why are atheists willing to accept sensory evidence when it comes to science, but not when it comes to religion? It would appear that, for the atheist, the “seeing is believing” rule only counts when it supports their worldview.

Also note that atheists themselves believe in many things they can’t see. Atheists generally believe in moral principles, but when has anyone ever seen these entities called “good” and “evil”? If our experiences of God are “just feelings” that we can ignore, then why aren’t our experiences of right and wrong also “just feelings” that we can likewise ignore? “Moral” is simply a name we give to certain behaviors we prefer, but isn’t our preference for them, like our belief in God, just a product of evolution that we can now disregard?

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Science works on the principle of falsifiability, but no scientist is willing to falsify morals in the face of new evidence. It’s inconceivable that a scientist would look into a microscope and declare, “I’ve just falsified the theory that murder is wrong.” Since no atheists are willing to falsify their morals, this is evidence that they do exactly what they charge religious people with doing: believing in things for which there is no empirical scientific evidence.

Another common atheist argument says that God can’t exist because he would not allow the suffering and wickedness that are so prevalent in the world. While other Christian denominations teach that God created us from nothing, Latter-day Saints believe that our intelligence and agency are co-eternal with God. This means that God respects our free will. We played a role in coming to earth, with all the risks that entailed.

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We also have the ability to choose, even if we abuse it. If we choose greed, we reap the unhappiness of materialism; if we choose selfishness, we reap the unhappiness of loneliness; if we choose substance abuse, we reap the unhappiness of addiction; if we choose indolence, we reap the unhappiness of poverty. God could not stop this suffering without depriving us of our agency. Human choices explain much (perhaps most) of the suffering in the world.

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Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we must remember that everyone, atheists included, have faith. Humans are wired for worship and we all seek out dogmas that give our lives direction. Our choice is not whether to worship, but what to worship.

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Notice, for instance, that nearly all atheists who ridicule the idea of faith, themselves gravitate to secular faiths such as Marxism, progressivism, humanism, postmodernism, scientism, libertarianism or other such “isms.” Each is based on dogmas that require leaps of faith.

While atheism has grown in America over the past generation, this is not because it has solid arguments behind it. Latter-day Saints are equipped with religious truths that can help them refute even the strongest atheist claims.