Faith is a Unique Journey for Everyone

Many members never become less active. Yet, many do. Everyone’s path is unique.

I’ve never left the Church, but certainly have modified my views as I’ve been exposed to truth from all kinds of sources. Nobody’s faith should remain the same for long, is my view.

Below are stories that show how and why certain Latter-day Saints stopped believing and practicing their faith. And how and why they returned.

Great insights from Elder Uchtdorf:

Three prominent Latter-day Saints left the Church.  Years later they returned.  Each story of deconversion and reconversion is very unique.

I’ll introduce each panelist briefly:

  •  on the right:   Janet Eyring; niece of Spencer W. Kimball and cousin of Henry B. Eyring; grew up in Berkeley, CA; graduated from BYU in 1976; served mission in Toronto; got Master’s & PhD at UCLA; crisis of faith started as a child & wasn’t resolved till 46; spent 20 years outside the Church
  • middle:   Don Bradley; grew up in Upstate NY; Bachelor’s in History from BYU; spent time as an agnostic and atheist, then back to theist, then Baha’i, then generic Protestant before returning to the Utah-based church where he had begun; now getting Master’s in History at Utah State
  • on the left:   Maxine Hanks;  related to Marion G. Hanks; was excommunicated as one of the “September 6” in 1993; was out of the LDS Church for 20 years; 1/2 of life in the Church, 1/2 of life out of the Church; feminist who has authored or co-authored several books including Women & Authority: Re-emerging Mormon FeminismMormon Faith in AmericaGetting Together With YesterdayA History of Sanpete County, and was a contributor to Secrets of Mary MagdaleneReligion in America, and Latter-day Dissent.

Don Bradley was interviewed about his period outside of the Church:

Dusty was referenced in a talk by Elder Uchdorf as one who opposed the Church who returned to faith:

For young Latter-day Saints:

Patrick Mason — author of Planted — discusses belief and doubt.

Old Testament Issues that Unnecessarily Challenge Faith

Jeff discusses several issues: the flood, Jonah & the whale, Genesis’ creation account, and others.

The Bible is similar to a library. Lots of books there. Lots of books from different genres or styles there. Not all the books are historical non-fiction. Same with the Old Testament.

Some in the Old Testament is poetry. Some is parable. Some is absolute history. But not all is absolutely historical.

Did the Good Samaritan story really happen in the New Testament? Probably not.

Did Jonah really get swallowed by and remain in the belly of the whale? For three days? Almost certainly not.

Ben Spackman is a helpful source on this topic:

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:

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.

Objections to the Resurrection with Gary Habermas

Frank Turek raises some significant objections to the resurrection of Christ, but his guest is none other than the foremost expert in the topic, Dr. Gary Habermas.

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They discussed common objections:

  • everyone hallucinated: agnostic scholars support the evidences supporting groups seeing Jesus
  • extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence: not true. Simple evidence can build a case. It’s not extraordinary to say someone is alive.
  • miracles don’t happen: ask them if they have proof naturalism is true. They don’t.
  • don’t all religions have resurrection and miracle claims? – only Jesus has sources for resurrection and miracles within 1-2 years after his life
  • why doesn’t the resurrected Jesus appear right now? What good would God gain by coercing belief?

Gary finishes with a discussion on doubt. Most doubt is not factual. It’s emotional.

Gary describes in the video below his minimal-facts approach to the resurrection. He only uses the New Testament and other data that atheist scholars agree to. From that agreed-upon data he can still argue for the resurrection.

Demographics, Faith, and Family: How the West Really Lost God

Below are videos describing demographic trends and the interrelationships between faith and family. No faith often results in no marriage and no children. No marriage often results in no faith. The two — marriage and faith — rise and fall together.

Mary reports that Scandinavia — the most secular region in the world — has both little faith and few families. 40-50% of homes have a single occupant. And these are not all widows and widowers. Few are marrying.

Faith and family formation seems to go hand in hand.

Mary disputes the notion of believers vs unbelievers. All believers are people of some faith. Just what do they put their faith in?

This video is a more recent speech by Mary Eberstadt. She discusses the competition paganism — a rival faith — feels toward religion.

Because of the faith/family decline the world has seen it’s appropriate to review the consequences. And the coming demographic winter (population decline).

Primary vs. Secondary Questions

Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge, General Authority Seventy, speaks during a BYU devotional on Jan. 22, 2019.

Elder Corbridge gave this talk at the BYU devotional yesterday: What to do with your questions, according to 1 General Authority who’s an expert on anti-Church materials.

As part of an assignment, Elder Corbridge read critical material. Lots of critical or anti-Mormon material. In fact, he claims there’s virtually nothing he hasn’t read from critical or anti sources.

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Key point:

Elder Corbridge explained there are primary and secondary questions when it comes to the Church. The primary questions must be answered first, as they are the most important. They include:

  • Is there a God who is our Father?
  • Is Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Savior of the world?
  • Was Joseph Smith a prophet?
  • Is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the kingdom of God on the earth?
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In contrast, the secondary questions are unending. They include questions about Church history, polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, women and the priesthood, how the Book of Mormon was translated, DNA and the Book of Mormon, gay marriage, different accounts of the First Vision and so on.

“If you answer the primary questions, the secondary questions get answered too or they pale in significance and you can deal with things you understand and things you don’t understand, things you agree with and things you don’t agree with without jumping ship altogether,” Elder Corbridge said.

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More from the talk:

“There are some members of the Church who don’t know the answers to the primary questions, and they spend their time and attention slogging through the secondary questions.

They mistakenly try to learn the truth by process of elimination, by attempting to eliminate every doubt,” Elder Corbridge said.

One cannot prove the Church is true by disproving every claim made against it. Ultimately, there must be affirmative proof. With the things of God, that affirmative proof comes by revelation through the Spirit of the Holy Ghost.

Faith, Reason, and Spiritual Experience

Wonderful perspectives with Blake Ostler.

Topics Discussed:

• Epistemology of Religious Experience
• The Distinctive Mormon Epistemic Practices
• Faith, Evidence and Reason

Among many other ideas, Blake makes the point that we should trust our spiritual experiences just as we would trust our senses. He states that we’re hard wired to be spiritual. That God has implanted within us a spiritual compass we can follow when we’re faithful.

Bruce and Marie Hafen: Understanding and Navigating Stages of Faith, Pt. 1

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Awesome podcast.

They discuss the class — Religious Problems — they took at BYU decades ago.  The format was that each student would introduce a topic about a “controversial” topic.

Topics included church history, Joseph’s polygamy, race and priesthood, living one’s religion, having the spirit, etc.

We should be able to discuss these things — doubt, faith, questions — in the open.  And learn from these topics.

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The Hafens gave a topic at BYU-Hawaii:  “Faith is Not Blind” and wrote a book with the same title.

 

 

Scientism: the (irrational) Faith of Many Atheists

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I recently completed my Google Slides presentation here.

Science isn’t in conflict with religion.  Instead, the problem is with Scientism: the irrational believe that Science is the only source of truth.

Scientism (and not Science) conflicts with religion and many other fields.