Wednesday, December 12, 2007

why so complicated?

One thing that I have come to realize about nearly every significant aspect of the church and its history is that every story is so complicated from a rational standpoint. I want to lay out various aspects of the church and then give what I think would have been a simple explanation, a little more difficult yet reasonable explanation, and then a very difficult explanation. In every situation the actually explanation used in the church is the difficult one.

Book of Mormon-

Easy- Joseph Smith says he received the plates from God, there are real plates for all to see and examine, there is archeological evidence that supports the claims made in the book and no or very little contradictory evidence. There seems to be no plausible way that Joseph could have produced the plates and the translation of the plates but through the way that he claims, i.e. divine intervention. Joseph translates the plates with the Urim and Thummim given to him by God for the purpose of translating, there is a real Urim and Thummim for all to see and examine.

Medium- Joseph Smith says he received the plates from God, there are no real plates, but there is archeological evidence that supports the claims made in the book and no or very little contradictory evidence. Joseph translates the plates with the Urim and Thummim given to him by God for the purpose of translating; there is no real Urim and Thummim.

Difficult- Joseph Smith says he received the plates from God, there are no real plates, there is no archeological evidence of anything in the Book of Mormon, nearly all archeological evidence seems to contradict the claims made in the book. Joseph translates the plates by placing a stone inside of a hat and the words appear on the stone. The stone is one that Joseph found years ago while digging a well and he had previously used it unsuccessfully in money-digging and other magical adventures.

Book of Abraham-

Easy- the papyrus that we have does date to the time of Abraham; the translations of the facsimiles are supported by current knowledge of ancient Egyptian language. The translation is purported to be a true translation of the actual papyrus we have.

Medium- the papyrus that we have does not date to the time of Abraham; however, the translations of the facsimiles are supported by current knowledge of ancient Egyptian language. The translation is purported to be a true translation of the actual papyrus we have.

Hard- the papyrus that we have does not date to the time of Abraham; the translations of the facsimiles are not supported by current knowledge of ancient Egyptian language. They are recognized as common funerary texts that were buried with nearly all mummies. The translation is purported to just be inspired and the papyrus was just actually a vehicle to open Joseph’s mind to revelation and that it was not a true translation of the text in the general sense of the word.

First Vision

Easy- Joseph has a vision and then records it or at least tells people about it and there is a record of what he said happened at the time it happened. He tells the same story throughout his life with little or no variance, at least on the major details. The main point being that he prayed to find truth and had an actual physical visitation by God the Father and Jesus Christ and was told of his mission.

Medium- Joseph has a vision and then records it or at least tells people about it and there is a record of what he said happened at or near the time it happened. There are small discrepancies in the story over the years but the main details remain the same. The main point being that he prayed to find truth and was visited in some manner by God the Father and Jesus Christ and was told of his mission.

Hard- Joseph has a vision but there are no current recollections by anyone that Joseph told anyone and the first record of the vision is 12 years after it occurred. There are many discrepancies in the various versions with major details being different in the various versions. From only seeing angels, to only seeing Jesus, to seeing God the Father and Jesus. From having a dream type vision to having an actual physical encounter with God and Jesus. Also, different accounts as to the year and time the vision occurred.

Polygamy

Easy- God gives Joseph a revelation regarding plural marriage. Joseph announces this revelation to the church and how God wants it to be lived and then the saints begin to follow this revelation.

Medium- God gives Joseph a revelation regarding plural marriage. Joseph announces this revelation only to the top leaders in the church and then Joseph and the top leaders begin to follow this revelation and then eventually the revelation is given to the saints as a whole to live by.

Hard- Joseph gets caught by his wife Emma having an affair with a live in maid named Fannie Alger, Joseph then tells those who are accusing him of adultery that he had a revelation from God regarding plural marriage and that God had given Fannie Alger to him as a plural wife. He tells the top leaders about the revelation but instructs them to keep it secret and then publicly denies polygamy and then gives a revelation for general consumption that it is against God’s will to have more than one spouse (which is then canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants) all the while teaching the top leaders that polygamy is required for entry into the Celestial Kingdom. The revelation regarding polygamy is not given until 1842 (at which point the old revelation on having only one spouse is take out of the Doctrine and Covenants), over 10 years after plural marriage was first begun, and the practice is not publicly taught until 1852.

I could do the same with the following and may do so at a later point. Or feel welcome to do it yourself.

Temple

Priesthood banned from African descendants

Manifesto ending polygamy

I would actually like to make a satire of this post from an apologist point of view and then say how since discovering this pattern of difficult and unreasonable explanations he has applied the principle in his life. Now when trying to understand God he looks for the most unreasonable, difficult and faith requiring explanation possible in order to discover the truths of God. I think it should be obvious to a true believer that God does not reveal things in a simple, rational manner but prefers the difficult to understand faith-requiring method.

1 comment:

Michael Thelen said...

I love this. This is the main reason I can no longer believe any of these things. I would say that the difficult explanations are the ones acknowledged by apologists and very grudgingly by the church, whereas the easy explanations are the ones the church would like everyone to believe so that's what is actually taught in Sunday school (by relatively uninformed lay members).