This is an archived copy of a post written by Conflict Of Justice (conflictofjustice.com). Used with permission: Conflict Of Justice may not agree with any alterations made.
“With all this talk from General Authorities against the scary internet and daring to be balanced by looking at what both defenders and critics are saying about the Church, it is as if questioning and researching and doubting is now the new pornography. Truth has no fear of the light.”(CES Letter)
Quote From ‘Our Race’ – When I read this, I thought CES Letter‘s line “truth has no fear of the light” had a nice ring to, and I thought it sounded familiar. So looked up to see if anyone has said this before, and guess what? It comes from a book titled “Our Race” by British Israelite Charles A.L. Totten. In “Our Race,” Totten argues that native British are God’s “chosen” race. He says the British race is God’s selected stock:
“But, if the vast Bible scheme to subjugate the earth, and people it with chosen and selected stock, and thence to draw material for heaven itself according to some well digested plan foreseen from the beginning in all its bearings, is after all the truth, then just such methods as we see about us may be reasonably expected, will be realized in due time as the outcome of superior intelligence, and win our fullest recognition.”Our Race
I disagree with these racial ideas. But regardless, here is Totten’s full quote that CES Letter may or may not have gotten their line from:
“Truth has no fear of Light, nor has it any controversy save with Darkness.”Our Race
It is true, truth has no fear of exposure or investigation. But I don’t think only falsehoods stir up controversy. Jesus was very controversial, wasn’t he? Hasn’t every prophet in history basically been controversial? It is a dangerous thing to assume everything that stirs up controversy–that riles up that scholars, established “science,” and popular “truth”–is darkness. That is how Galileo ended up in prison when he discovered that the sun was at the center of the solar system. It is possible to be controversial, investigate truth, and still be seperated from the darkness. We can do this by humbly and intelligently seeking truth and not being small minded. And by not gleaning our wisdom from books titled “Our Race.”
But I think it is a bad idea to dwell on temptations and read websites and books we already know to be false. CES Letter seems to think the better path is to be “daring” and to listen to what “both defenders and critics are saying about the Church.” We that sounds nice, but there are two problesm:
- Do skeptics and Anti-Mormons actually listen to Mormon defenders ? Just look at how the Exmormon community has responsed to my investigation of CES Letter. Top comments: “Poor attempts to discredit it…” “Scary to me that he calls the CES Letter Marxist… It seems like the author is fabricating an imaginary evil enemy to fight against.” “What a joke! This person goes on listing all the supposed fallacies in the questions posed by the CES letter to then ignore the fact that they use half these fallacies in their own ‘disproving’ of the letter” “Skimmed it, and as expected, it’s a slog. Neither edifying nor fun.” Exmormon Reddit How many in this community actually listened to and carefully considered any of my responses to CES Letter? The next top comment after these takes a short quote about related horse-like animals from my discussion of horses in America and ignores my main point: that horses very well could have existed in America in Nephi’s time. They don’t bother addressing the point of my article. So forgive me, but when Anti-Mormons talk about getting both sides of the argument, that sounds nice, but I don’t see them actually investigating or considering the pro-Mormon narratives.
- I have gleaned a lot of great information from pro-Mormon writers such as Dr. Hugh Nibley, but the most important discoveries for me have come from studying raw information, scans of original historic documents which are conveniently provided at JosephSmithPapers.org. Consider the credibility of quotes you come across. Recognize logical fallacies. Most importantly, recognize your personal biases and experiences that you introduce to the issues. This is a “balanced” approach to studying Mormon history. Looking at some pro-Mormon writings and some anti-Mormon writings is not good enough.
- This line from CES Letter is strange: “questioning and researching and doubting is now the new pornography.” I’m pretty sure church leaderers has never discouraged reading original raw historical documents, unlike their condemnation of pornographic websites. So I guess CES Letter must be referring to anti-Mormon websites. Is reading anti-Mormon websites such as Mormon Think like viewing pornography? Yeah, it kinda is. These anti-Mormon websites do not provide balanced research, though they may put on scholarly airs. They do not answer questions. They are there to make people lose faith and turn against the church. This would be comparable to a man who quarrels with his wife and doubts whether he wants to be married any more, turning to pornography to investigate the merits of alternative family relationships. Is pornography designed to help men investigate healthy romantic relationships? No, it is designed to exploit a man’s lust for the body image and collect money in exchange. Likewise, anti-Mormon websites exploit the outrage doubters feel about bullying they experienced at church, or the church’s conservative political leanings, or not being allowed to drink coffee like everyone else, etc. It becomes a vice where they want to move on with their lives but can’t. Most men who view pornography should not break up with their family. Pornography provides them a fantasy that is totally unrealistic in the real world. Likewise, most doubters who read anti-Mormon websites are being fed a fantasy and become afraid to confront harsh realities of life. They take the truth to be hard. The healthier path would be to confront those personal issues head on instead of running away.
CES Letter claims they did investigate the raw information:
“Most of the information I discovered and confirmed online about the Church is found from Church friendly sources. I confirmed… [CES Letter repeats previous arguments]”(CES Letter)
I doubt that is true. I don’t think CES Letter was reading through JosephSmithPapers.org one day and thought, “You know, there doesn’t seem to be any mention of the priesthood restoration prior to 1834!” That would be a weird thing for someone to think (considering it isn’t true.) I really, really doubt CES Letter discovered their issues on their own while reading the raw information from Church sources. Furthermore, I think very very few skeptics bother reading through raw information at all, which is readily available online. Their issues come from following what they read on small-minded anti-Mormon websites. Stop pretending otherwise.
The Internet Is Not Evil – CES Letter says:
Elder Neil Andersen made the following statement in the October 2014 General Conference specifically targeting the medium of the Internet in a bizarre attempt to discredit the Internet as a reliable source for getting factual and truthful information: ‘We might remind the sincere inquirer that Internet information does not have a ‘truth’ filter. Some information, no matter how convincing, is simply not true.’” (CES Letter)
I find it interesting that Elder Neil Andersen brought this up years before America realized there is a ton of fake news on the internet, and the American Justice Department focused their top resources on battling the internet’s fake news. Gee, it’s almost as if Elder Neil Andersen was a prophet of something! It’s kinda hard to argue now-a-days that fake news isn’t a problem on the internet. I mean, come on. It’s kinda funny to see anti-Mormons be outraged over a call for critical thinking and dismiss it as “a bizarre attempt to discredit the Internet as a reliable source for getting factual and truthful information.”
Mormons do not believe in supressing information. We do not call on Facebook and Google to censor websites they disagree with. We do not believe the internet is evil. Yes, the internet is full of all kinds of lies, but truth can be found as well. Any college professor will tell you that original raw documents and peer-reviewed journals are more credible than Wikipedia, but we do not tell people to avoid the internet. We think it is just common sense to avoid Wikipedia.
|See also:||How To Ask Question & Not Doubt|
We believe in getting both sides of the argument. This does not mean that we build faith by going out and seeking confrontation with anti-Mormonism. Should a kid that is getting bullied at school constantly seek confronation with his bully? A balanced approach to truth simply means to be a humble and open-minded person.
CES Letter Logical Fallacies
|Falsehoods||LDS leaders did not say to avoid the internet, but to watch out for lies on the internet.|
|Ad Hominem||Most of CES Letter‘s argument is personal attacks and appeal to ridicule. “bizzare attempt”|
|Circular Logic||CES Letter says: “Under Cook’s counsel, FairMormon and unofficial LDS apologetic websites are anti- Mormon sources that should be avoided… they provide many ridiculous answers with logical fallacies and omissions while leaving members confused and hanging with a bizarre version of Mormonism. ” (CES Letter) Isn’t the whole point of the CES Letter PDF to make the case for these logical fallacies, omissions, and bizarre positions?|
|Strawman||Mormons never said we shouldn’t get both sides of every argument.|
|Hasty Generalization||CES Letter gives two brief snippets of quotes out of context, and complains about “all this talk” about “the scary internet.”|
|Non Sequitur||CES Letter complains that FairMormon “are anti-Mormon sources that should be avoided,” according to the church’s “counsel.” Why? Because “they introduce to Mormons ‘internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcoming of early Church leaders…'” In other words, because they address the anti-Mormon frame. So not only does CES Letter portray a fake strawman of Mormons avoiding doubtful questions, but they also ridicule Mormons who actually confront and address these issues. CES Letter asks: “What about the disturbing information about early Church leaders and the Church which are not magnified, or exaggerated, or invented? … Why is the member required to repent for coming to the conclusion that something is very wrong?” (CES Letter) Those are two very different things. Finding out some historical information that disturbs you is very different than concluding that something is very wrong.|
|Shifting Goalposts||Earlier, CES Letter argued that witnesses in the Book of Mormon who published their testimony can’t be trusted because anybody can write anything in a book: “It doesn’t mean anything. People can believe in false things their entire lives and never recant. Just because they never denied or recanted does not follow that their experience and claims are true or that reality matches to what their perceived experience was.” (CES Letter) So when it comes to Mormons making a claim in a book, it doesn’t mean anything. But when it is anti-Mormons making a claim in a book, suddenly then: “Who cares whether you received the information from a stranger, television, book, magazine, comic book, napkin, and even the scary internet? They’re all mediums or conduits of information.” (CES Letter)|
|Repetition||This argument is packed full of repeated arguments that CES Letter already argued earlier. CES Letter inflates this argument, and what could be said in two short sentences fills up multiple lengthy paragraphs.|
|Begging The Question||Avoiding books is not the same thing as questioning whether the internet should be trusted. One can ignore and avoid information and yet trust the internet, and one can confront information in a balanced way and yet not trust the internet.|
Every group or movement has some history that it is not proud of. How do people reconcile this? Well, if CES Letter is right and any discovery of these “facts” inevitably leads to the “conclusion that something is very wrong,” then what is the solution? You can either accept history for what it is, which is what Mormons do, or you can… what? What is the alternative solution?
Well, perhaps, censor the internet? This is what extremist Leftists do. When we bring up disturbing information about their ideology and contradictions in what they believe, what happens? They ignore, and if it becomes too loud to ignore, we get censored. This is why my edits to Wikipedia’s Mormon page has been erased. They don’t try to justify themselves or reply with investigative answers. They simply censor us. You see, when they tell us to be “balanced by looking at what both defenders and critics,” they are holding us to our own standard, not to theirs.
Marxists believe if someone isn’t allowed to say something, then it won’t be true. It’s all about conception and perception. If people aren’t allowed to conceive an idea, then it won’t be perceived by an audience, and it will disappear. So, for example, when CES Letter ridicules Mormons for believing some of Mark Hofmann’s forgeries, they omit the fact that Mark Hofmann was a virulent Anti-Mormon who murdered for his anti-Mormon cause. Suddenly a murderous Anti-Mormon becomes a positive case for why people should turn against Mormons.
The Mormon solution is to thoughtfully investigate issues and critically weed out fake news from your head. The Anti-Mormon solution is to censor anything you think is fake so that it doesn’t exist.