Over the years, a lot of critics of Mormonism have made some pretty stupid arguments and have adopted some counterproductive tactics. Here are a few of the highlights (or lowlights, maybe):
“Let me tell you what you really believe.” Often a critic will insist that some obscure, esoteric item represents core LDS doctrine. Usually, these “doctrines” come from some long-forgotten book, pamphlet, or address from the nineteenth century. And when the unsuspecting Mormon replies that Mormons don’t really believe such things, the critic will move in for the kill: “See? Your church has been hiding its true beliefs from you!” But rather than seeing the light, most Mormons will come away from such an exchange believing that, not only does the critic not know anything about Mormonism, but he or she isn’t interested in dialogue of any kind.
“You Mormons rely on feelings, and you can’t trust feelings.” This one is just plain ridiculous. If you talk to any religious person, no matter their belief system, you find that their faith is based in feelings. They believe because it feels right. A Calvinist who constantly berated “feelings-based” Mormonism explained that he had found God through an extraordinary spiritual experience in his car at a stoplight. Asked if his experience was not based on feelings, he said something like, “No, this wasn’t feelings. This was God speaking to me.” It seems like common sense, but if you’re going to tear down other people’s spiritual experiences, yours are going to be subject to the same kinds of attack.
Related to this argument is the suggestion, particularly by fundamentalist Christians, that their Bible-based beliefs have the factual and archaeological support lacking for Mormonism. Jerusalem and Egypt are real places, they argue, so obviously the events described in the Bible must have taken place. Where, they ask, is the evidence for the Book of Mormon? Of course, this argument completely falls apart when you realize that there is no archaelogical evidence for the spiritual and religious claims of the Bible. There’s no conclusive evidence for Adam and Eve, the Flood, or the Resurrection. On that score, the Bible has no more going for it than the Book of Mormon.
“You follow the wrong gospel, worship the wrong Jesus, and are inspired of the devil!” Nothing is quite as effective as telling another person that their beliefs are Satanic, but that’s what some ostensibly well-meaning critics (primarily of the Evangelical strain) tell Mormons. Some have actually said they’d prefer that Mormons lose their faith entirely and become atheists rather than persist in the diabolical religion Joseph Smith taught. Of course, most Latter-day Saints brush off these arguments as being unworthy of discussion.
“Mormonism doesn’t make sense.” Some Christian critics have argued that Mormonism doesn’t make sense rationally (see, for example, Frank Beckwith’s attempt to show the logical impossibility of eternal progression). The problem, of course, is that the logical arguments used to destroy faith in Mormonism are just as destructive when trained on traditional Christianity.
These are a few of the dumber arguments against Mormonism. Generally they don’t get critics anywhere, but it’s kind of fun to watch newcomers continue to bring such stuff up.