Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shout out to my international readers!

Not only am I picking up hits from all over the US ranging from San Francisco to Virginia, I've been seeing some coming in from all over the world, such as Scotland, Spain, and particularly Korea!

Thanks to everyone for stopping in! I'll be updating again soon:)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Today is the 6th of November...

...And some mormon dumbass decided it was a good idea to plaster the internet (especially Facebook) with testimonkeys. I haven't seen any yet, but I fully expect to...and I have a response prepared.

Now those (few) of you who are regular and informed readers will know that sometime this summer I got sick and tired of all the endless 'mormonisms' on Facebook. It might have been right after this very blog started getting visits from morgbots hoping to reconvert me. (We can all take a moment to laugh at that memory now. Done? Okay, just a little more...) And anyone who pays attention to both my blog and my Facebook page (a tall order, I know) by now has realized that I am no longer making an effort to refrain from calling them on their stupid bullshit.

So in the spirit of continuing that tradition, I have prepared a statement to be written in the event my family decides to plaster Facebook with their testimonies today.

I would like to bear my UNtestimony, that I know the mormon church is NOT true. I know that Joseph Smith was NOT a prophet of god, but rather an 18th Century conman who often couldn't even keep his stories straight. I know the Book of Mormon is NOT true; in fact it may be the LEAST historically-accurate book in existence, and has been altered so many times that if a modern mormon were presented with an original copy they would denounce it as false doctrine.

I know that the current leaders of the mormon church are NOT inspired of god, as evidenced by Packer's homophobic statements recently made from the pulpit that--horrendous bigotry aside for the moment--were still GROSSLY inaccurate.

I know that the "sacred-not-secret" temple ceremonies were stolen from the Freemasons, and that they have periodically been altered in an attempt to water down their creepiness. I also know that if investigators were actually told about all the crazy stuff that happens during the initiatory and endowment that the mormon church's conversion numbers would drop considerably more than they already have.

Finally, I know that "12 million" people CAN be wrong...and in fact that number itself IS wrong. The truth of the matter is that according to recent surveys there are nearly twice as many Atheists/Agnostics in this country as mormons. Just food for thought.

This is the 'untestimony' that I have prepared for the event. Feel free to copy and paste it if you're feeling as frustrated as I am:)

And finally, some advice for whoever decided that this was a good idea in the first place:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Been a pretty long time...

...But stuff has been happening. Turns out I'm evil. I called my brother out when he defended his religion on my Facebook page. (Technically I called him out for attacking my opinion of his religion on my Facebook page...) I informed my mother that she is an unpredictable, judgemental, and manipulative person that I choose not to spend time around because I don't enjoy doing it. And I told my 16-yr-old sister about the series of secret handshakes in the mormon temple. As a result, I find I am a very unpopular person in my family...maybe even slightly more unpopular than I already was.

But on the plus side, I only had to listen to one person on Facebook gushing about how great General Conference is. Either no one else enjoyed it, or else they had the good sense to keep it to themselves. Now if only some of that sense would rub off on my mother...

Monday, August 23, 2010

If God created everything, why would God want to hide it?

Something I read today brought up this thought to me: If God created everything, why would God want to hide it?

He obviously went to absurd lengths to make sure it could NEVER be effectively traced back to him: in fact an objecitve perusal of the universe doesn't point to his existence at all.

So the real question is now which of these is true: On the seventh day God rested, or on the seventh day God laid low and wiped off all the fingerprints he'd left at the scene?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Haven't updated this in a while...

And don't have much to add right now. But on my trip to Arkansas I learned that I have more readers in my family than I thought, so a big shoutout to all my extended family for reading along! :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Going to visit family in Northern Arkansas tomorrow.

I'll be gone for two weeks, and therefore won't be able to blog anything...unless I get sick of something and log in with my cell phone:)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cults 101: Checklist of Cult Characteristics

I was referred to this very interesting link a few weeks ago. It represents a general snapshot of some of the pyshological manipulation techniques used to support the structure of a cult. The checklist can be found at http://www.csj.org/infoserv_cult101/checklis.htm

I'm going to go down the list, examining each item and then testing whether it applies to mormonism.

1) The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law. - CHECK. The mormon church teaches that the living prophets--and Joseph Smith in particular--are the foremost authority and often literally speak to the members on God's behalf.

Relevant quote: "My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he tells you to do something wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it." - Heber J. Grant

2) Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished. - CHECK. Difficult questions are openly discouraged by the mormons, especially when posed to high level authorities. Those with doubts are encouraged to meet with the Bishop or Stake President, who will often attempt to ascertain what "sin" led to these doubts. It is an oft-repeated mantra in the mormon church that anyone who is seriously doubting has done something contrary to God's will, and this action has "weakened their faith." Actual dissent is not tolerated at all: teaching anything contrary to established doctrine will get one removed from church callings, and can lead to formal church discipline.

Relevant quote: "Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward Church authorities, general or local.... Evil-speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true." - 1985 CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium, pp. 24-25

3) Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s). - MAYBE. This is the only point on the checklist that doesn't earn a concrete checkmark, though many individuals can attest to local activities that fit this description. The mormon practice of "Fasting" arguably counts, but this one is not so clear-cut as the others. The practice of "Speaking in Tongues" was rather prevalent in early mormon history, but is no longer seen in meetings.

Relevant quote: "When Joseph asked Brigham Young to pray, Brigham spoke in tongues, using strange sounds and unfamiliar words. The others looked at Joseph in some perplexity, for this type of spiritual phenomenon was not common to them. It was Joseph’s first experience with the puzzling speech and he called it ‘pure Adamic’ and stated that it was ‘of God.’ Speaking in tongues spread through the Pennsylvania branches of the church first, then occurred in Mendon, New York. Brigham Young brought it to Kirtland. The practice became a part of the Saints’ worship – particularly among women – until well into the next century." - King and Newell, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, p. 46

4) The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth). - CHECK. Dress codes are provided, and often strictly enforced. ("Modest" clothing should covers the knees and shoulders, only one pair of earrings for women, etc...) In addition, mormon leaders openly set dating policy for younger members; for example, I once had a Stake President inform us that if we weren't going on at least 2 dates every month, then we were "not fulfilling your priesthood responsibilities." Other, higher, leaders have expressly urged young couples to have children early and often.

Relevant quote: "It is an act of extreme selfishness for a married couple to refuse to have children when they are able to do so." - Spencer W. Kimball

5) The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity). - CHECK. If I had a nickel for every time I heard the mormon church referred to as "the only true church" I would be able to retire on a private island in the Bahamas. They believe that only those baptized as mormons, and accepting the mormon gospel, will achieve salvation in the next life. Toward this end, they perform proxy baptisms on behalf of deceased individuals, even if the individual objected in life, and often over the express objections of surviving family members.

Relevant quote: "[There is] no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth...no man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God" - Joseph Fielding Smith

6) The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society. - CHECK. The mormon church heavily relies on this, and my childhood was peppered with phrases such as "be in the world, but not of the world." The mormons members refer to themselves as "Saints", and at one time usually referred to non-members as "Gentiles", though this had fallen out of everyday speech before I was born. This distrust and disdain for the rest of the world is most prevalent in Utah, where all non-mormons are regarded either with deep suspicion or as possible converts.

Relevant quote: "There are two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations." - 1 Nephi, 14:10

7) The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations). - CHECK. As noted above, the prophet is considered God's mouthpiece on earth. Criminal actions--even abuse--of local leaders are not turned over to the police, but instead are quietly handled within the internal structure. (This usually means nothing more than releasing the individual.)

Relevant quote: "I live above the law, and so do this people." - Brigham Young

8) The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities). - CHECK. "Lying for the Lord" is universally accepted and often encouraged if it produces the desired results. Full-time missionaries call this principle "Milk Before Meat", meaning that investigators should be shielded from issues and doctrines that will hinder their conversion. The relevant quote following point number 1 reflects this as well.

Relevant quote: "I have a hard time with historians... because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting; it destroys. Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting." - Boyd K. Packer

9) The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion. - CHECK. Two words: "Worthy" and "Unworthy". Every member of the mormon church has one of these two labels constantly hanging over his/her head. "Worthiness Interviews" with the local leadership are conducted at frequent intervals, determining which label the member gets to carry for the next several months. The greatest threat to "worthiness" is sexuality, and so chastity (sometimes renamed "virtue" by the mormon church) is rigidly enforced.

Relevant quote: "There is no true Latter-day Saint who would not rather bury a son or a daughter than to have him or her lose his or her chastity – realizing that chastity is of more value than anything else in all the world." - Heber J. Grant

10) Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group. - CHECK. No matter what your hopes or dreams were before joining the mormon church, your new priority is obedience, and your new goal is the Celestial Kingdom. If you were a single convert, your new goal is temple marriage. If your spouse is not a mormon, your new goal is to convert him/her...or to one day aspire to a "worthy" spouse. Your activities are now limited to those approved by the 1st Presidency, and are usually severely curtailed when you receive a calling. In addition, members swear an oath to consecrate all that they have when undergoing the "Endowment" ceremony in the mormon temple.

Relevant quote: "You and each of you covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar, that you do accept the law of consecration as contained in this, the book of Doctrine and Covenants, in that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion. Each of you bow your head and say, 'Yes.'" - Mormon "Endowment" Ceremony

11) The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members. - CHECK. The mormon church puts a fantastic amount of effort into converting new members; including TV and internet ads, a full-time missionary corps numbering in the tens of thousands, and as evidenced by the furiously-hammered-home phrase "Every Member a Missionary" all mormons are called on to spread the church's gospel to potential new members. Despite all this effort--as well as the constant claim that they are "the fastest growing church" in America--mormon conversion numbers have been steadily declining over the past ten years.

Relevant quote: "Under the impetus of President Hinckley’s words, including his challenge to double the number of people whom we help enter the covenant of baptism, we have been analyzing the sources of teaching opportunities that lead to baptisms.... President Hinckley has called us to make a concerted effort to double the number of converts who are currently being baptized each year." - Dallin H. Oaks

12) The group is preoccupied with making money. - CHECK. Aside from the millions (perhaps Billions!) of dollars brought in by members paying ten percent of their gross earnings, the mormon church has devoted a great deal of time and effort to business concerns. There are literally dozens of church-owned bookstore chains, not to mention the merchandising (as of CTR rings), and massive ad campaigns. And then there's the fact that the mormon church is currently building a mall in Salt Lake City. A religious institution building a mall...it staggers the mind!

Relevant quote: "The $1.2 million condominium at 40 N. State that is home to the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be exempt from property taxes, Salt Lake County commissioners ruled Tuesday." - Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 8, 1988

13) Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities. - CHECK. Many--even most--mormons serve "callings" in the church. These can sometimes eat up a very substantial amount of time, especially in the case of local leaders such as "Bishop" or "Stake President." Between fulfilling their callings, preparing talks, and attending the required meetings at church, mormons can devote well upwards of 40 hours a week on church-related activities.

Relevant quote: "The overwhelming joy of conversion or a new calling is often followed by feelings of being overwhelmed with duties and doctrines." - Neal A. Maxwell

14) Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members. - CHECK. Similar to item 6 above, the mormon church views nonmembers either as potential converts or else "outsiders" to be distrusted. Again, this distinction is most prevalent in Utah, mostly because it is a deeply-engrained tradition there. Outside of Utah, this is difficult to practice because of the relatively small numbers of mormons. But in Utah, a non-mormon who exhibits no interest in converting will almost always eventually be ignored.

Relevant quote: "SAINTS ARE THE BEST PEOPLE....and in many ways superior to any other people. - Joseph Fielding Smith

15) The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group. - DOUBLE CHECK. Mormons are led to believe that nobody ever leaves the mormon church for doctrinal reasons, and that all those who do leave do so for personal offenses or because of "sin." Apostasy is the single greatest fear in the mind of a mormon, and those who have left are deliberately shunned by their friends and family. Occasionally a group of members will band together and shower gifts on the apostate in an attempt to "bring them back to the fold" (We Ex-Mormons refer to this as "Love-Bombing.") but someone who leaves the mormon church can usually look forward to the loss of some/most/all of their friends, followed by severely-increased tensions with their family members--often up to being disowned. But fortunately, all of this is a vast improvement in recent times: in the earlier days of mormon history, apostates were treated a little bit more harshly.

Relevant quote: "I say, rather than that apostates should flourish here, I will unsheath [sic] my bowie knife, and conquer or die [Great commotion in the congregation, and a simultaneous burst of feeling, assenting to the declaration.]. Now, you nasty apostates, clear out, or judgment will be put to the line, and righteousness to the plummet [Voices, generally, ‘go it, go it.’]. If you say it is right, raise your hands [All hands up.]. Let us call upon the Lord to assist us in this, and every good work." - Brigham Young

I know this has run long, but I wanted to be thorough. Mormonism clearly meets the standards given by the International Cultic Studies Association--a global group that steadfastly refuses to label any organization as such, preferring to circulate techniques on identification and recovery. So the next time you hear someone calling the mormon church a cult--or claiming that the mormon church is not a cult--you'll know the facts.

Now obviously this is going to catch me some flak from my occasional trolls/defenders of the faith, but they can deal with it. iBear is officially saying that the mormon church is a cult, and I've posted 15 legitimate points and how they apply to support that assertion. If you really want to defend your religion, make sure you do your homework first before coming here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

iBear's favorite quote of the day:

"I have a hard time with historians... because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting; it destroys. Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting."

- Apostle Boyd K. Packer, as related by D. Michael Quinn, “Pillars of My Faith,” talk delivered at Sunstone Symposium, Salt Lake City, August 19, 1994

First Presidency sends letter to Argentina, opposing Same-Sex Marriage

The government of Argentina is hoping to pass a same-sex marriage bill next week. The law would give same-sex couples in Argentina the right to adopt. Just as in California last fall, the mormon church has sent out a letter opposing this giant step toward equality.

A translation of the letter's contents:
Uncertainties have arisen because of the legislation that has been proposed that would change the definition of marriage in Argentina. The doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is absolutely clear: Marriage is between one man and one woman and is ordained of God. We recommend that together with your families you review "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" to understand more completely the doctrine of the Church as it relates to this essential topic.

And a scanned copy of the letter, courtesy of Concerned in Argentina:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

iBear's Ex-Mormon Blog is now the top exmo blog on Google!!!!!!

I want to take this opportunity to thank all my readers, especially my new readers, because those are really the only ones I have:)

I also want to thank my annoying trolls and uninformed defenders of the faith, without whom this might have been possible, but I wouldn't have laughed nearly as much! :P

And finally, an extra shout-out and congratulations to the good folks over at Lively News and Outer Blogness for coming in right behind me! (And also for boosting my readers by linking to me:P) Do you think we get medals? :)

So I learned something interesting last night...

Turns out my mother believes that a "perfect parent" (such as God) is entitled to mass-murder his children if they disobey, provided he warns them first.

I think my birthday celebrations just got a lot more sincere...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I thought I was the only one.

I had a thought occur to me today: for the first 20ish years of my life, I really thought that nobody ever stops believing in the mormon church. I bought their "offended" stories hook, line, and sinker.

So after deciding to reexamine my own beliefs, when the time finally came that I no longer considered myself a mormon, I thought I was the only one.

And that thought made leaving the morg quite a bit harder...though luckily I'm an independent character to begin with, so by that point my mind was made up. But I was thinking today about how many people find themselves unable to make that decision because they think no one else has done it. The mormon church paints those who leave as small, bitter people who still believe the doctrine, but left the church because of their anger and pride. They do not, and cannot allow the members to think that anyone ever studies their way out, or no longer believes in what the church teaches. Because, like any cult, the mormon church actively works to make their members afraid to leave.

And I'm not talking about fear of the made-up punishment waiting in their fanciful afterlife. I'm talking about fear of shunning and the accompanying loneliness. I'm talking about losing contact with friends and family. I'm talking about repeatedly drilling into their members that nobody ever leaves for a legitimate reason, so that when a doubting member runs across a legitimate reason to leave, they think that nobody has ever done this before, and then they're afraid to take that step by themselves. That kind of emotional manipulation inevitably leads to the person second-guessing themselves, and so the morg plays on their fears and tightens its grip around them all over again. And if they did as the mormon church tells them to do and expressed their doubts openly to a bishop or stake president, then they are watched very closely for any further signs of dissent.

The mormon church fights very hard to make its members afraid to leave, and it works. I left anyway, mostly because I just shrugged it off and didn't give a rat's ass. But there's no way of really knowing how many people don't leave, for no other reason than because they're afraid. The best I could do for these people is reassure them that they're not alone, that other people have gone through what you're going through, and understand how you feel.

I thought I was the only one. I wasn't, and neither are you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Believer and the Apostate

A remarkably well-written essay from an objective point of view, dissecting a phenomenon growing much more common among all religions. This was so well done that I'm going to copy the entire thing into the blog. (Note: I can't seem to locate the name of the author, but I'm going to add the URL to the site where I found it.) http://www.2think.org/hundredsheep/bible/apostasy.shtml

The Believer and the Apostate

There is quite possibly no greater threat to the believer than the existence of the apostate. In order to reduce dissonance, the true believer must assume that their own particular system of faith is so obviously true that no open-minded seeker who is fully appraised of the facts can fail to accept it. The apostate represents the real-world disconfirmation of this assumption. It is possible to ascribe the existence of non-believers to several sources – the work of the Enemy, or a deliberate (and thus rebellious) close-mindedness or even, in some cases, non-election. The apostate, however, is in a different class altogether.

The apostate is defined as a person who, at one time, fully accepted the dogma and tenets of the particular system, who participated in its rituals, and who defended it from the attacks of unbelievers. However, the apostate at some point reached the conclusion that the system was intellectually bankrupt, and defected from the faith, either for another tradition, or for a system of freethought.

Thus, the apostate cannot exist in the worldview of the believer. There is no place in their psychological makeup for someone who was fully appraised of all the dogma of the tradition, who accepted all its pronouncements implicitly, and yet who later rejected the system. The very existence of such a person poses a threat to the careful mental balancing act in which act believers are engaged.

It is interesting to note some of the defenses against apostasy that have evolved in all traditions over the millennia. Most of the time, the believer utilizes these defenses in a completely unconscious fashion, since to acknowledge the reason for these defenses also raises uncomfortable questions.

Most religious traditions present two lines of defense. The first is to minimize the possibility of apostasy in the first place. The second is to reduce the threat that the existence of an apostate poses to the believer’s belief-system.

For the first line of defense, apostasy can be reduced by attacking the source – reason and logical thinking. Most religious traditions tend to denigrate independent thought, even going so far as to ascribe it to the Enemy. At the same time, these traditions will emphasize that faith is not only an alternative, but in fact a superior guide to truth.

Over the centuries, many religious leaders have noted that exposure to ideas and arguments from outside a particular system will very often start the believer on the path to apostasy. This has unconsciously resulted in an inherent distrust of independent thought, and even of education in general.

In some traditions, notably those derived from Eastern systems, reason is viewed as a direct impediment to enlightenment. Thus, believers are taught to empty the mind of all thoughts, to attain a state of unthinking clarity.

In Western traditions, the usual solution is to place independent thought in the category of sin. This is done either explicitly, or by implicitly emphasizing blind faith as a virtue.

Jesus' famous statement to doubting Thomas in the gospel of John perfectly illustrates this concept.

John 20:27-28 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Recall that this quote occurs in the context of a demand for proof - Thomas refused to accept the testimony of the other disciples that Jesus had risen, unless he could examine the resurrected Master for himself. Jesus' reply, and the tone of the whole passage itself, suggests that Thomas was somehow in the wrong, that it would have been better if he had simply believed without question. We also find here the beginnings of the curious concept that the blinder the faith, the more virtuous it is. Thomas is commended for believing after demanding physical proof: Jesus heaps greater praise on those who simply believe without such proof.

The Bible makes many such assertions, in both the Old and New Testaments.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding...

I Corinthians 1:19-25 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

The Bible is not alone in subtly denigrating human reason. The Book of Mormon, for example, also includes a number of polemics against earthly wisdom.

II Nephi 9:28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

II Nephi 27:26 Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid.

In addition to casting reason and independent thought in a negative light, a further tactic to minimize apostasy is to prevent access to apostate, or polemical literature directed against the faith. The Catholic Church, for example, maintains a list of forbidden books, and has done so for centuries, ever since the laity became literate, in fact. Other traditions, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, will not designate certain books as forbidden, but will rather emphasize that only Church publications are fit for the use of the believer. In like manner, the LDS church frowns upon publications that are not deemed "faith-promoting".

This line of defense usually produces a curious paradox. Most human beings need rational thought in order to function effectively in the secular world. They are thus quite able to effectively apply logic and reason in everyday situations. But, it is important that this light of reason never be brought to bear on one’s own system of belief. The reason for this is not difficult to determine – very few, if any, religious systems can survive a dispassionate, rational dissection. This fact is acknowledged by the believer, usually unconsciously.

Thus, the believer often reaches a state of compromise which effectively creates separate mental compartments for faith and the "real world". This strategy, which is quite similar to George Orwell’s "doublethink", allows the believer to accept at face value any pronouncement made within the confines of his own faith, while subjecting any principle that originates outside of his system to rational examination.

This dichotomy is nowhere more evident than in the field of apologetics. In order to effectively produce a defense of the faith, the apologist must of necessity examine competing systems of belief. Generally, an apologist is easily able to spot the logical flaws and special pleading that exist in rival faiths, but seems completely unable to apply the same analysis to his own tenets. Thus, an apologist will sometimes refute the arguments of a religious opponent, and then use the very same arguments to support their own position.

In the second line of defense, it is important to minimize the potential damage that can be done to the believer’s faith by the apostate. The first frequently employed strategy is also the most obvious – disassociation. Many religious systems will forbid all contact with the apostate. This tenet is usually strictly enforced, even to the point of threatening believers with excommunication if they knowingly consort with apostates.

In this vein, it is worth noting that very few apologetic arguments are actually directed at non-believers. While an apologetic system is ostensibly designed to win over the non-believer, its primary purpose is actually to reassure the believer.1

A second tactic is simply to avoid all mention of apostates from one’s own particular system. This has to be carefully balanced, since apostates from other traditions, especially those that fall away in favor of one’s own system, are powerful apologetic devices. At the same time, it is imperative to maintain that apostasy from one’s own faith is rare or non-existent. So effective is this strategy that most believers are quite surprised to learn that apostates from their own ranks actually exist.

Yet another frequently employed tactic is used when a believer does come into contact with an apostate, despite the careful shielding that most traditions erect. This strategy seeks to reduce the believer’s dissonance by assuming that the apostate fell away due to some unacknowledged sin, or some other flaw on the part of the former adherent. It is extremely important, for the believer’s state of mind, that the blame for the apostasy must fall squarely on the shoulders of the apostate himself. It is quite literally unthinkable that the fault could lie with the system itself. This line of reasoning must be avoided at all costs.

With all of the above in mind, it is quite significant to note that the number of inactive members, or outright apostates, seems to be directly related to the amount of information that is available to the believer. During the Dark Ages, for example, literacy was restricted to the clergy, thus ensuring that the believer had little or no access to competing ideas. The believer was thus completely dependent on the Priest for an exposition of the Truth. This system allowed the Church to brand heretics as not only enemies to the faith, but in fact as enemies of society at large. Punishment of heresy was commensurate with this concept.

Over time the proletariat became increasingly literate, with a corresponding weakening of the Church’s power. Where the Catholic Church once held complete political and spiritual power in Europe, her influence has declined to the point where it is almost negligible. In contrast, the influence of the Church remains strong in third world countries, where literacy rates remain low.

The first world is now deeply immersed in an information explosion, due in large part to the exponential growth of the Internet and related information channels. The believer is now able to access information about his own or even competing faiths in mere minutes. He is also able to easily come into contact, and dialogue with adherents of other faiths, as well as former believers in his own tenets. It will be very interesting to see how traditional faith survives in this new era.


1. This is especially evident from the type of information that the apologist chooses to expose. For example, a survey of Internet Web sites devoted to apologetics will reveal that very few actually contain links to opposing arguments. In contrast, sites devoted to Atheism or similar freethought systems will very often link to Theist arguments.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

In the recent Sherlock Holmes film, the titular character offers Watson a piece of wonderful advice:

"Never theorize before you have data. Invariably, you end up twisting facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

Substitute the word "beliefs" for "theories", and you have the entire basis for mormon apologetics.

New DNA recognition technique further cements BoM errors.

The ability to isolate single nucleotide polymorphisms (abbreviated to SNPs, or "snips" for short) can now tell us about ALL of a population's ancestors, rather than just the dominant (or "principle" if you will:P) ancestors of that group. Or, in layman's terms..."If there were Lamanites in the Americas, they will be found. If there weren’t, we’ll learn that too." - Dr. Simon Southerton.

Stay tuned, fans of reality:)


Top Book of Mormon quotes you'll never see!

"As my client has clearly not broken any law, I move that he be released with the court's apologies." - Korihor's attorney

"Quick, get Shiz a doctor! He's still breathing!"

"Hey Jared, what's your brother's name again?"

3 Nephi 11:15 "And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side,...going forth one by one until they had all gone forth... Until finally Jesus said, Father, how many damned Nephite hands do I have to get stuck in my side? Wasn't that spear enough? So far I've counted 17,427, most of them unwashed and a lot of them with ragged fingernails!"

And, chosen by our viewers, the top Book of Mormon quote you'll never see: "What happened!? Why is there blood all over your clothes!? It looks like somebody cut off your head and stole your...waaaaaait." - Zoram, the servant of Laban

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Angel Moroni sighting at the World Cup!

As this blog has been seeing a lot more traffic recently, I will probably make an effort to update it more often.

Full Disclosure: I am passing this on from a link I was referred to...credit goes to the hilarious individual who first came up with it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

iBear has discovered the contents of the sealed portion of the Golden Plates!

Turns out it was just a whole lot of fine print. Here's the Title Page:

*This book is entirely a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, places, or events is entirely coincidental, and furthermore strains the bounds of human reason. Moroni's Promise does not imply a guarantee, and should not be attempted without parental consent. If headaches, confusion, frustration, or dizziness result, call your bishop immediately. The Book of Mormon is not for everyone; consult your doctor before reading.

I was going to translate the rest, but I lost my magic rock:(

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wow, I haven't updated this blog in forever!

Exmo get-together at Gators was fun, and the trip to Arkansas went well, even if a little hectic.

Nothing of serious note to report here on my Exmo blog. Just updating:)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Looking forward to a get-together with some fellow exmos tonight!

Drinks at Gators in Treasure Island. (Or is that *on* Treasure Island? It's a town and an island, so I'm not sure it's clear.)

Should be fun:)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A shorter re-phrasing of "Why I left the Mormon Church."

I've mentioned this before on the blog, so long-time readers (if I have those) can doze off for a little bit:P My first concrete step out of the morg was the realization that I had been told what to believe for my entire life, and I found I didn't care for it. I took a figurative step back to reexamine my own beliefs and look at things objectively, and I immediately realized that after about 23 years as a BIC mormon, I didn't really believe that there were 15 old men in SLC that received personal messages for me from god.

Other things quickly followed: I didn't believe the story of Genesis--my biology studies seemed to directly contradict it, in fact, but I had never examined both in the same light at the same time. I didn't believe that there were horse-riding, steel-forging, elephant-taming, hebrew-speaking-but-reformed-egyptian-writing Jews in the Americas before Columbus. I didn't believe that black people were less worthy, or that women were undeserving of authority positions, or that a series of secret handshakes would be required to get into heaven.

In short, I didn't really believe all these things that I had gone along with all my life for no other reason than because that's what I had been told to believe.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Random, late-night thoughts of an Agnostic Insomniac*

*Agnostic Insomniac: I don't know if I'll ever get to sleep:P

So...had a remarkably frustrating phone conversation with my whacko [censored by popular demand] of a mother. Which served only the dual purposes of making it even HARDER for me to sleep tonight and giving me a completely unrelated sentence to open up this post.

An earlier thread on here today (You know who you are, and shame on you for it.) got me thinking about a couple of things. Mostly abstract things; things that were driven completely out of my head by other events of the evening, and then marched back into my exhausted-but-unable-to-sleep brain in the dead of night like so many marionettes at a funeral. (Random obscure insomniac reference--you heard it here first, folks.) Thoughts about agnosticism, and how it is related to/differs from atheism. And so, without further (any?) ado, I present iBear's unofficial and non-binding dissertation on the Universal Agnostic. (Patent Pending)

Agnostics come in several different "flavors." (like ice cream) These flavors all have marked differences, but an overall set of similarities. (like ice cream) There are "Christian Agnostics", who do not know whether the triple deity "God + Jesus + Holy Ghost/Captain America" really exists. But they generally believe that if he (it? they?) DOESN'T exist, then there is no God. (again, just like ice cream)

There are "Jewish Agnostics", who cut out the latter two pieces of the triple diety (especially the part with Captain America...meshugga, you know) and only claim not to know about God. These are the same people who--I am forced to assume--can't decide whether to go through with the circumcision or not. That seems to me like the kind of thing you need to have reached a decision on before the scalpel gets there.

There are quite probably "Muslim Agnostics", although not much is heard about them these days. Wondering whether Allah exists is one thing, but nobody's going to blow himself up unless he's damn sure those virgins are waiting for him in heaven. (Apologies to my Muslim friends, and I assure you the best way to punish me for my blasphemy would be to declare jihad on my crazy-ass mother.)

So long as the law of averages is in effect, there will of course also be agnostics who wonder about Zeus or Shiva or Osiris. (And imagine those poor "Norse Agnostics": it really ups the difficulty level when you're unsure of the existence of a god like Loki, who will LIE to you about himself just for the hell of it.)

But the Universal Agnostic is someone who manages to avoid getting bogged down in these popular "flavors of the week". (Add some sprinkles and we're right back to the ice cream.) The Universal Agnostic is a man (Or a woman...being an Agnostic I don't claim to know either way.) who possesses the ability to at least recognize when something is NOT god. The medical analogy would be "I know THAT'S not a cure. That's not either. Or that. Or that. Or definitely THAT! But that doesn't mean there isn't some kind of cure out there somewhere."

So when this Universal Agnostic claims to be agnostic (And I do.) the idea that he (or she...although that doesn't apply as much now that it seems I'm talking about myself, does it?) is trying to convey is that he doesn't (REALLY doesn't) believe in any of the current choices of diety...but does not feel there is sufficient evidence to draw a conclusion regarding the existence of SOME sort of diety. (I lament the fact that the only two words provided for this concept are "god" and "diety".)

Second on the list--that's right, I got to the second item on the list before telling anyone there was a list--is the question regarding belief in a "soul" or "spirit". (Those of you who didn't know which thread I was referencing earlier should now consider yourselves either appropriately informed or hopelessly lost.) Again I lament the lack of different words available to convey the idea; "soul" and "spirit" have both been used so extensively by certain groups (You know who you are, and shame on you for it.) that they come with pre-packed conceptual baggage. But for lack of a more accurate term, yes: I believe in some sort of "soul." I do not believe the entirety of a person's thoughts, hopes, dreams, and memories are purely the biochemical workings of a neural conglomeration.

Many outspoken atheists (Yes Virginia, they have those.) will disagree with me here. (And that breaks my heart. Really. Look...this is my "heartbroken" face.) For no other reason than because it amuses me, I submit a link to one of the albums on my facebook page. Remember, everyone, this link will ONLY take you to a string of binary characters. Anything that appears more substantial than a collection of ones and zeros is simply the work of your fanciful imagination.


Do I believe that this "soul" exists beyond death? I don't have the first f***ing clue. How the hell would I know that? Seriously, people...you're being ridiculous. Does the existence of this "soul" inevitably lead to the existence of some kind of deity? Not necessarily...that assumes that the "soul" (and yes; I will continue to place that word in quotes until I...just don't feel like it anymore.) is something artificial, something that cannot have developed naturally but must have been concocted somehow. (like ice cream...it's a running gag.)

How could this "soul" have developed naturally? I'm glad you asked that question. And I'll be even MORE glad when you answer it, because once again I don't have the first f***ing clue. I don't even know if there *IS* one, much less where it comes from. But I THINK there is. When I look someone in the eyes, I don't see a string of ones and zeros. I see--spoiler alert: the link takes you to a picture--the picture.

So anyway, it's now after 6am here, so I ought to relabel this "Random, early-morning thoughts of an Agnostic Insomniac." But I'm a lazy man on nights like this, so I'm not going to. There are also parts of this that should probably be marked as spoofs...but as I'm a lazy man (see above) I'm not going to do that either. Everybody can just wonder...it's good enough for us Agnostics.

So on that note, I think I'm going to put an end to this humiliating display. I'll copy it to my blog (before I read over it and think better of the idea) if anyone gets nostalgic in a few weeks. (Author's note: you should probably know by now that THIS is the copy on my blog.)

Thank you all so much!

You've been a wonderful audience!

I'll be here all night!

...I mean that.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Interesting thought I posted on Facebook yesterday, now preserved on my blog for posterity:)

Hell is a place without reason, where 2 and 2 can make 3 one day and then 5 the next, depending only on what mood god is in. Atheists deny such a place exists, while most christians believe we're there already...