I've seen the article "The Alarming Truth Behind Anti-Mormonism" being shared a lot online in the past few weeks. The article talks about the dangers of Exmormonism by framing it in terms of the dangers of atheism. It is true that there is a growing trend in the US for people to become atheist when they leave a religion (rather than converting to another religion) and Mormonism is no exception. The problem that I have with this article is that it tries to make the argument that true morality comes only through religion and that this trend towards becoming a more secular and atheist society will lead to moral degeneration as we give up on the values taught by religion.
I'm not the only one to find this idea absurd. Today's post is written by an anonymous guest as a rebuttal to the four points made in the article. Enjoy!
Link to "The Alarming Truth Behind Anti-Mormonism":
Point one: There is Only one Credible Alternative to the Restored Gospel
The author says that the only credible alternative to Mormonism is atheism.
- 0.2% of the world population is Mormon
- 14% of the world population is "secular, non-religious, agnostics and atheists"
If the only two credible options for religious belief are the Restored Gospel and atheism, then 85.8% of the world population does not have a credible alternative to the Restored Gospel.
In America, atheism is one of the fastest growing religious opinions (as the author points out in point number two). Catholics aren't leaving their church to become Jews. Jews aren't suddenly deciding to be Lutherans. Evangelicals aren't suddenly converting to Islam. The majority of people who leave every religion are becoming atheists.
This point could just as easily read: There is only one Credible Alternative to the Catholic Church: atheism.
Assuming of course that there was some Catholic out there who assumed, like this person, that the only metric of an arguments validity was its popularity, and only sampled people who were or were formally part of the Catholic church. This argument is absurd! But not only is it absurd, it completely devalues religious faith. In a world where 85% of the population bases their world view on religious faith, to say that only 0.2% of the population that has a faithful view even has a credible opinion is to say that religious faith produces what the author claims to be a credible argument only 0.23% of the time.
If you follow the (flawed) populist logic of the author, we can conclude that because atheism produces a credible argument 98.6% of the time, we should all be atheist. Obviously, we cannot immediately reject all faith based arguments because of some convoluted popularity contest. This sloppy, lazy, and down right rude attempt to dismiss all of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and (insert literally any religion other than Mormonism here) was made to make Joseph Smith the sole defender of Christian faith.
The statement "Christianity itself hinges upon the question, “Was Joseph Smith really a prophet?" is simply untrue, regardless of the opinion of some Mormons. The divinity of Christ doesn't depend on Joseph Smith's ability to prophesy (although Joseph's ability to prophesy certainly depends on Christ's divinity). Just read any book on theology written before 1828, or ask any non-Mormon Christian.
Point two: Crises of Faith in LDS Communities Are Really Just a Symptom of a Larger Problem
As I have already shown, the author's second point (the fact that atheism is rising across the board) shoots the first point in the face, drags it to the road, and curb stomps it.
Point three: Post-Modern Atheism Is Paving the Way for a New and Destructive Moral Order
First, I would like to quote the author:
"To be clear, people who become Atheists don’t suddenly become moral monsters. Their moral views shift, but they probably have more in common with the moral beliefs of their religious friends than they have in contrast."
He then goes on to describe how without religious belief, a society goes into a steady moral decline.
…Really? Lets look at the morals of societies that are (100% religious, 0% atheist):
First one to comes to mind is Saudi Arabia, where people are beheaded for apostasy, homosexuality, adultery, and witchcraft. Women can't drive, must be accompanied by a man everywhere in public, and are generally treated like property.
The same horrible morals appear at the other end too (0% religious, 100% atheist):
North Korea, Religious people can be killed on the spot.
Obviously the only reason you would have 0% of one type of belief is if you're murdering your opposition, which is completely immoral. The only conclusion I can come to is that there is a non linear relationship between "Immorality" and religious belief. I live in a very religious area, and I know for a fact that the people here are acting immorally. Just ask any bishop. He only hears what goes on from the ones who aren't too afraid to confess. A lot of very religious people do some very immoral things.
I also know that very much of what shakes my own faith and the faith of other people I know isn't the desire to be immoral, but it is the immorality that we see in religion. The religiously motivated wars in the Bible. Or the "it's better for one man to perish than a nation dwindle in disbelief" quote from the Book of Mormon.
Obviously, religious people see religion in a different way, but the point I'm making is that human morality doesn't come after someone has become religious, it preceded it. The desire to be moral is what motivated them to be religious, the religion isn't what motivated them to be moral. Whether there is or is not a religion, people will continue to act in moral ways.
Perfect Example: Jean Meslier. There are many people who continue in the religion without any religious faith, specifically because they enjoy the morals it encourages. I have met several Atheists who have completed missions, and are still completely active and enjoy the church, with no intention of leaving. I have also met several grown men who are the same way, but enjoy raising their families in a moral tradition. The faith may fade, but the morals will stay.
"You see, when people begin rejecting moral codes (because they are based on transcendent truths), they shift from feeling ashamed about falling short of moral standards and become angry that anyone would condemn their actions in the first place."-said by someone who rejects Sharia Law (a moral code based on transcendent truths) and is angered to find out it is immoral for women to drive.
Point four: The Book of Mormon Powerfully Responds to This Mindset
…by giving us free agency.
"The goal of Atheism, however, is to destroy the moral distinction between choices."
…No, the goal of atheism is to not believe in a deity. Socrates was forced to drink hemlock on a charge of atheism, and wrote an entire book on ethics, which in my opinion, has been more influential than the Bible has been. (I mean, you don't see us stoning people for minor religious infractions anymore, but good grief, we don't exactly "Turn the other cheek" either.)
Again, atheism doesn't end morality, it just takes it from one realm to another. In the Theistic realm, God is an absolute authority on morality, and what he says goes! If God says, give, you give and it's moral. If God says love, you love and it's moral. BUT, if God says kill, you kill and it's moral. If God says harm and you harm, it's moral.
In the atheistic realm, there is no absolute authority on morality. If I say "giving is moral", we debate. If I say "Loving is moral", we debate. If I say "killing is moral", we debate. If I say "harming is moral", we debate. Which leaves us with some grey areas on a few subjects, but at least we aren't, you know, killing people and taking their land because God promised it to us. *Cough*Old Testament *Cough*