These are some wonderfully insightful comments from a recently resigned member of the Mormon Church, Lance Miles, which I thought were worth publicising:
There has been a lot of talk about “Truth”. The church is true. The Book of Mormon is true. The Gospel is true. My question is, what is truth? Can we test truth? How do we determine truth? Is truth found in prayer alone?
Please humor a small analogy: What if a stranger came up to you with a glass of clear liquid and said, “Drink this, it’s pure spring water.” Would you simply drink it? Certainly not. So, how do you determine if it’s truly water and not some poison?
Well, you can look at it and see that it’s a clear liquid. You can smell it. You can move the glass around and see that it behaves like water. You can always pray about it. But, is that it? Would you trust the stranger enough to risk your life on his word alone? Do you give in to blind obedience? What if he had an official looking letter certifying that he says it’s truly water? Would that be enough? Would you obey him with this limited knowledge and feelings?
What other ways can you test that liquid to make sure the stranger is telling the truth? Well, you could do a litmus test to find its PH Balance. You could run electricity through it to see if it conducts like water. You could do a chemical analysis of the liquid to see what it contains. You could even analyze the liquid to see if its molecular structure contains two Hydrogen and one Oxygen.
Back to the question posed; how do we test truth? Through ignorance and blind obedience? That actually takes away our free agency. To close ourselves up in a dark, little box hinders our growth and potential. It is no way to live an independent, authentic life.
The default answer in Mormonism is prayer and “personal revelation”. But praying only tends to confirm a bias already seeded in our subconscious. A “feeling” is not a reliable indicator of truth. It only takes a bit of honest reflection to look back into our own life history and see how many mistakes our good feelings have caused.
For forty years, we were taught NOT to question authority. “When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan—it is God’s plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy.” -Ezra Taft Benson (Improvement Era, June 1945, p. 354) Interesting that this was preached when blacks couldn’t hold the priesthood.
Mormons are taught from toddlers to “Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, Follow the prophet; don’t go astray. Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, Follow the prophet he knows the way.” It’s blind obedience through and through.
The incredible thing about this day and age is we have more tools to test truth than ever before in history. We’ve never had so much knowledge sitting at the tips of our fingers. Any question or idea can be searched and, instantly, we have volumes of information weighing on all side of the issue. We no longer need to have a shelf full of untestable religious questions for which, “we’ll just have to wait until the next life to get answered.”
The problem is we allow those supposed leaders whom we arbitrarily give authority over us to dictate our thinking and behaviors for us. We give up our critical thinking skills and, in turn, our free agency. We are taught to not question authority. Just stay in that dark, little box and do not test truth for yourself.
As a Mormon, I’m sure you’re shaking your head and saying, “No! That’s not the way it is! I’ve learned the truth and I love it. I’m not in a little box. I can think for myself.” If that’s the case then you must answer this one question honestly: Can you right now take one of those many, seemingly unanswerable, questions off your shelf and simply type it into Google? Can you take a few hours to research just one of your questions and really learn about it from every angle with unbiased, out of the box thinking?
Did you just wince? Did you justify or rationalize why you shouldn’t? Did you say to yourself, “Those questions bring an evil spirit so I will not do it.”? Or, “The internet is full of lies and anti-Mormon propaganda.”? Mormons are told to “doubt your doubts” yet every member and missionary is telling any non-member to completely doubt their current belief system. That, supposedly, Mormons have the real “truth”.
Ignorance is bliss but truth based on ignorance leads us into wrong conclusions and false ideas of reality. As I now seek for truth I put the “answers” into three categories: 1) Absolute truth 2) Justified/rationalized truth 3) Fallacy. When presented with a question, after exhausting my research and learning on the subject, I can put my “truth” into one of these three categories (ie-the earth revolves around the sun in #1). As you honestly seek truth through study and learning, see how many questions were/are in the “2) Justified/rationalized truth” category. Then ask yourself, “Why do I have to justify this belief?”
~ Lance Miles
Are you willing to bet your eternal soul on your particular religion?
You already know what it’s like to be an atheist in regards to every other religion. As do millions of other believers of other religions in regards to your God. How do you determine which god to worship?