On Pine Needles and Mormon Apologetics

A few days ago my daughter bought some fir branches to use as Christmas decorations (she put them on the banisters and made a wreath for the front door), and I noticed that there were quite a few needles from the branches in the trunk (boot) of the car. While I was vacuuming the needles out yesterday, I had an epiphany of sorts.

Engaging in Book of Mormon apologetics is like attempting to prove that the trunk of my car isn’t actually a trunk but is really a pine forest. I imagine the argument would go something like this:

We would expect to find fallen pine needles on the ground of a pine forest, and–lo and behold!–we do find numerous examples in the so-called “trunk.” True, there’s carpet underneath the needles, not earth, but you can’t just dismiss the existence of the needles. (And how many times has the earth beneath a forest been referred to as being like a “carpet”? Coincidence? I think not.) And besides, if you analyzed what you vacuum up from the trunk, you would most definitely find traces of dirt and other debris in the carpet, mixed in with the needles; and that would be a real bullseye.

We would also expect to find stones, tree trunks, and other large objects in our hypothetical pine forest. Indeed, we do find large, hard objects surrounding our patch of forest. Specifically we find hard, dark-colored surfaces surrounding the needles; some claim these are simply the interior walls of the trunk, but then how do they explain the presence of the needles? Perhaps we’re being too literal in our language. It’s quite possible that the word we use, “trunk,” is actually referring metaphorically to a literal tree trunk. Again, this is another “hit” that critics can’t dismiss lightly.

Beneath the carpet we find a large disc-shaped object, which is rather stone-like in its appearance. It clearly has been in this position for a very long time, as evidenced by the indentation in the forest floor beneath the stone. (Similar discs have been found in other locations, some bearing the clear identifier, “Firestone,” which again is too close to the expected to be mere coincidence.) Alternatively, this could be the semi-buried remains of an ancient tree stump. DNA testing may yet confirm its relationship to the deposits of needles.

There are also traces of sawdust indicating that tree branches had recently been cut in the vicinity, which of course would be impossible in a desert or ocean. Human logging activity would not make sense unless the area had at some point been densely forested with trees suitable for lumber. Similarly, the presence of a small amount of tree sap makes sense only in the context of a pine forest.

We also find clear written evidence of the forest: a cryptic plaque reading “Accord,” which is in all likelihood a reference to “a cord,” which is a measurement of cut wood. Again, the context places it where it should be: a forest where there has been recent cutting.

There are other promising leads, such as a tubular object, which is described in some literature as a “fuel filler.” Clearly, then, this indicates the use of harvested timber as a source of fuel. We have yet to decipher a metallic plate bearing what appear to be carefully arranged numbers and letters, with the inscription “VIRGINIA” appearing along the top; this may refer to the newness of the timber industry, or as some have surmised, it may well be part of a cipher key used to encrypt the language of the forest-dwellers. Further research is warranted.

Critics tell us we just need to look up and see if we’re actually standing in a pine forest or in the trunk of a late-model Honda, but we prefer to focus on solid evidence rather than appealing to unverifiable illusions and celestial fantasy.

ETA: Since publication, another apologist has added this important perspective:

“People who think it’s just a trunk are barking up the wrong tree. They are gullible saps. They can leaf the church but not leaf it alone. Someone needs to talk to your branch president about disciplinary action. You are clearly pining to sin. You can’t see the forest for the trunks. You are evergreen with envy at my effortless spirituality. You can’t believe, but if you’d read what I have, you wood.

“My world is a beautiful lush green forest. Yours is a dirty trunk. Which is better?” [Thanks to “Some Schmo.”]

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24 Responses to On Pine Needles and Mormon Apologetics

  1. robinobishop says:

    You conclude as obliquely in your summation as you did throughout… “we prefer to focus on solid evidence rather than appealing to unverifiable illusions and celestial fantasy”. I wait for the “focus”.

    If as a Mormon I am found by you on a bed of needles in the hatch of my Prius, calling the place a forest…. Please, oh pretty please, produce the Prius, that all of us might take your account out of the illusional nonsense where IT seems so trapped.

    When Christ spoke of the celestial and the ancient apostles after him, they had blind Pagan skeptics scoffing.

  2. Odell says:

    robinobishop, I am really having a difficult time understanding your comments.

    • robinobishop says:

      Sorry…to paraphrase and condense…reflecting on the topic, where is the “solid evidence” that is at odds with the supposed illusions of LDS positions? The diffuse, conflicted anti-LDS message have no core of solid evidence.

      • Steve says:

        Are you serious? Everything we know about the ancient Americas points to the Book of Mormon being a fake: Archaeology, linguistics, DNA, etc. all show the people of the Americas being descended from early settlers from Asia, with limited or no contact with the outside world. There is no trace to suggest that the Nephites and Lamanites ever existed, or that anything in the BoM ever happened.

        The Book of Abraham is a verifiable false translation. All one has to do is take the facsimiles to someone with even a rudimentary understanding of Egyptian language to know that Joseph Smith lied about his ability to translate Egyptian.

  3. Ray Agostini says:

    You have children considering mission? And this is the sort of drivel you want them to read? Your meanderings and wanderings in a philosophical warp of “oh, I don’t know, but here’s what I think. ”

    Those poor deluded Mormons.

    What have you really been trying to accomplish through all of your recent postings on message boards, John. Your unbelief? You want to spread this to your children, too? No? Ya coulda fooled me!

    You’re the saddest story I know, John, a descendant of prominent Mormons who defended the Prophet at great personal costs, and were even willing to give their lives for the Prophet, if necessary.

    It’s about “testimony”. It’s about having a personal conviction that bucks the trends of popular prejudice.

    I don’t think you ever had a real testimony, John. I don’t think you ever felt the same kind of witness your venerable ancestors felt, even though some of them questioned the Prophet.

    You’re a child of a rich Mormon heritage, and for me, to see you dismiss this with the disregard of your so-called “empiricism”, while ignoring the richness of the revelations of Joseph Smith, makes me sad.

    Maybe I expect way too much of John Williams.

    But carry on, John, while I cringe at every post you do running down and rationalising Mormonism.

    I should henceforth turn my eyes away, and let it be. And not let this pain afflict me anymore.

    Give my blessings to your lovely wife and children at this Christmas, and may you all enjoy this time together as ONE, a happy Mormon family.

    Love ya, mate.

    • Robert Macgregor says:

      Years ago I was worried I may have sinned against the greater light thus barring me from entering the celestial kingdom so I went to the temple grounds to get revelation.
      While sitting against the wall of the temple praying A very intelligent force of communication over powered my mind saying:
      If you do well, you will be exalted.
      This is with in your means, It’s important!
      We want you!
      I can’t explain those sort of experiences away and have to conclude that Joseph Smith got it right.

      • runtu says:

        Your spiritual experiences are yours alone, so I can’t and won’t judge them. I’m glad you have found peace in the LDS church.

  4. Ray Agostini says:

    So you’ve placed me on the moderation queue, have you, Runtu?

    Bye Bye, Runtu.

  5. robinobishop says:

    This place feels like a tomb, with so much here badly dated and flat. Nevertheless, that’s not my problem.

    Summary of what is not understood for Odell:

    The contribution by Rontu this Christmas season is that the LDS are without “solid evidence”…that we stand on something other than a substantive foundation. My Query to Rontu is to identify for us what it is that the LDS stand on that are not what we say it is. That is, what part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not Mormon?

    One hopes that the anti’s here have something contemporary. The old stuff has been so very defeated. Hopefully, there is something to focus on other than the fuzziness of metaphor.

    It is irrational to assert without evidence. Perhaps you merely project, Rontu.

    • runtu says:

      “My Query to Rontu is to identify for us what it is that the LDS stand on that are not what we say it is. That is, what part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not Mormon?”

      I honestly have no idea what this means.

    • robinobishop says:

      OK. Why do you keep looking back? Why not move on, like beyond Mormonism. How many YEARS need you examine the testimony you never really got for yourself? From your own account, you leaned heavily on the testimonies of others. Now so much later you can’t bring yourself to come out. Take credit for what you have discovered real about life that makes you better in the bargain. To you, It’s only a church after all. Inspire us with something.

      • runtu says:

        Come out as what? You obviously know nothing about me.

      • robinobishop says:

        I was hoping you could report who you are now that you have extracted Mormonism from your life, You know, now that you have cleansed yourself from the fastest growing Christian Church in the world, what is the great light that has fallen upon you. Come out from Your own trial of tears, tragedy and persecution.
        You should be out of the experience of leaving it now that its several years later.
        You should have come out of it knowing the significance of WHY with an answer to the why. Without it, this blog has no purpose and your purpose in ‘separating yourself’ from the One True Church raises the doubts of readers.

        Why hide your discovery. Come out.

      • @ robinobishop – It never ceases to amaze me that in our advanced age of information technology, Mormons like you are only able to repeat tired, old, out-dated information. Do you have your *own* brain? Are you capable of thinking and researching for yourself? God gave you a brain; use it! You weren’t created to be a Star Trek ‘Borg’.

        The ‘fastest growing religion’ and the ‘fastest growing Christian religion’ is not a simplistic determination; there are many determinant factors (fertility rates as opposed to conversion rates, etc). However, a general, over-all answer for the U.S. is that ‘Non-denominational’ Christianity is the current ‘fastest growing Christian religion,’ (3.4% change in total adults 1990 – 2010). ‘Evangelical/Born Again’ and ‘Pentecostal – Unspecified’ Christians grew by 0.6%. Jehovah Witnesses – 0.1%. Mormons – 0.0%.

        A world-wide determination is far more difficult as far as what ‘brand’ of Christianity, but Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity have historically been in the forefront. The religion of Islam, for the first time in recorded history, is now out-pacing Christianity in ‘Total Growth’.

        Church historian Elder Marlin K. Jensen, while attending a Q&A set up by Phil Barlow at Utah State University, stated that the church is losing more members not seen since the early Kirtland days. For example, the growth rate in Europe is abysmal. Missions are being consolidated to what they were almost forty years ago, etc.

        Mormons like you just don’t get it and sadly probably never will. You are blinded by your own arrogance and fear of knowing the *real* truth. You people live in a bubble of your making and call it ‘truth’ or the ‘one and only true church’, etc., because that’s all you want to know and where you want to reside.

        Don’t misread me (although I think it’s reasonable to conjecture that you will), in that the Mormon church is somewhat monolithic and will be around for a long time, but what you fail to see or realize is that it is never the same Mormonism, i.e., it is forever re-inventing itself as facts surface discrediting it’s former ‘truthfulness’. A good example of this is the resent declaration on race found on LDS.org.

        In the end though, conversing with people like you is a waste of time. I am spending MY TIME writing this and it will come to no effect. You and your ilk will stay aboard a rotten ship and go down with it, while other, more intelligent passengers once they realize what kind of ship they boarded will launch the life boats and start rowing for shore.

        I have reached shore. I am now HAPPY and FREE (and a better Christian)!! You and your ilk haven’t a clue what this means.

        Sad for you, but you really can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

        Notwihstanding, I wish you well.

  6. robinobishop says:

    I always know when folks are at the end of their conversation. One of 3 things happen: 1. Silence. 2. Foul language. 3. Block.

  7. vikingz2000 says:

    You say that the old stuff has been so very defeated?!

    Pray, tell, what might this old, defeated stuff be? Oh, I know! Stuff like the World War Two halocaust never happened, or the US never did land a man on the moon–it was acted out in movie studio.

    “My country right or wrong, like my mother drunk or sober.” People like you will always defend the church even if the evidence exposing it as fraud (pious or otherwise) is stacked a mile high.

    I’m on vacation typing this out on my wife’s iPad, which is too laborious to type at length, but all I can do is ‘bear testimony’ to you that if you set aside your biases then read, read, read books written by credible authors, listen to podcasts, and have the courage to accept truth then you WILL come to KNOW what many have come to know about the Mormon church.
    I’ll say one more thing: I do business with believing Mormon and we would have long discussions about the many aspects of Mormonism you won’t learn about reading so-called church approved material, but he took up my challenge and started to do his own investigating. Result: Our discussions are a lot less combative now. His most recent comment was a very meek (he actually did say all of this in so many words), “Here are your books back. I don’t want to read them anymore. I understand where you are coming from now, but I don’t care if this stuff is true or not or what it means as far the church being or not being what it claims to be. You were able to leave the church, but I never could. It would be a disaster for my family. For me and my family the church works for us and that’s all I care about. This is the only truth I want to know.”

    We don’t discuss religion anymore.

    • robinobishop says:

      Viking,
      “….Pray, tell, what might this old, defeated stuff be?”

      Like I wrote, the “All” old defeated stuff. You know, the old stuff you have been counseled elsewhere by accomplished researchers not to uselessly repeat only to abandon after the well-worn path to defeat is repeated.

      Your Mormon business acquaintances discouraged you without disturbing their business arrangements with you or yours with them. They can help you feel accomplished without losing a step themselves. I think you’ve been had.

  8. Odell says:

    Ray Agostini, you have absolutely no class. If you pretend to represent LDS faith, you are one of the poorest examples of it I have seen.

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