When I was an “apologist” (read: rationalizer) for Mormonism, I used to talk about the “shelf.” You know, there were things that we couldn’t quite explain, so we put them on a shelf, figuring that eventually God would sort it all out, and we’d see how everything fit together.
Somewhere along the line, the shelf collapsed, and I’m happy to say I don’t have a shelf anymore. Once you acknowledge that Mormonism is not what it claims to be, there is nothing about the religion and its claims that is so difficult to explain that it must go on the shelf until God explains it. But for the apologists, holy crap, what a shelf. To believe in Mormonism you have to believe that:
- A young guy who made his living by finding buried treasure (of course, he never found any) by putting a special rock in a hat could miraculously translate ancient records using the same rock and the same hat.
- Ancient golden plates really did exist, although only members of the young man’s immediate family and close friends ever said they saw them, and the plates weren’t actually used in the “translation” process.
- This same young man was persecuted for saying he had seen God the Father and Jesus, whereas no one, not even his family, noted his First Vision, and when “persecution” came, it was for the aforementioned rock in hat thing.
- The record he translated speaks of large numbers of pre-Christian Christians who lived in the Americas, writing in Hebrew and a form of Egyptian, building Jewish temples, making steel swords and metal chains, and riding horses–they did all of this and yet left no trace whatsoever of their culture.
- This record parallels almost exactly early nineteenth-century beliefs about the Mound Builders (a white, possibly Hebraic Christian, race that was destroyed by the evil Indians) in its descriptions of warfare, religion, culture, and technology, yet these parallels are merely coincidental.
- The young man was commanded by an angel with a drawn sword to take teenagers and married women as his polygamous wives, but he was extremely careful not to tell his lawful wife, Emma, (or the public, for that matter) about these “marriages.”
- He translated the Book of Abraham from papyrus scrolls that not only have nothing to do with Abraham but are from the wrong time period. But that’s OK, because, despite the direct translations of three of the illustrations, we are told that the real scrolls are missing.
- The young man, after founding a religion, never worked again, except to run his church, yet lived off the largesse of his followers and a lot of debt. But, we are told that he got no gain from his employment as prophet.
- This man incorrectly translated a Greek psaltery and some bogus brass plates, yet we are to believe that he really could translate ancient languages through his rock in the hat.
There’s a lot more, but just these few things seem so patently obvious that I am glad I don’t have make excuses for them anymore. What did you have on your shelf?