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Midnight Mormons vs. RFM (Debate Commentary)

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February 5, 2022 9:35 pm

Midnight Mormons vs. RFM (Debate Commentary)

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February 5, 2022 9:35 pm

In this episode, Matthew the Nuclear Calvinist and the Apostate Paul comment on a debate (?) held on November 13, 2021 between the three amigos of the YouTube channel, Midnight Mormons, and Radio Free Mormon. The video has been posted to the Heart of the Matter, the Midnight Mormons, and the Mormon Discussion, Inc. podcast channels and, to date, has racked up 43K views. The pre-debate drama was amped up, perhaps purposefully to draw an audience, and the fireworks continued during the debate. It was not a formal debate, and the participants went off-format for much of the evening, leaving Matthew and I asking whether this was in fact a debate. We comment on that and several of the points made by each side.

Link to the debate:

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You're entering Outer Brightness. Welcome, Fireflies, to this episode of the Outer Brightness Podcast. I am Matthew, the Nuclear Calvinist, and as always, here's my illustrious, renowned colleague, the apostate Paul.

I like the apostate too. That's cool. So yeah, thanks for joining us today on this episode of Outer Brightness. So today, we're going to be addressing kind of a debate. I don't know if you can really qualify it as an actual debate, but we're just going to call it that.

It's a debate that was between RFM, Radio Free Mormon, who we interviewed for one of our earlier episodes, and he was having a debate with the Midnight Mormons. So they went to several topics, including the historicity of the Book of Mormon and other questions. So we're going to just kind of have an informal discussion about what we thought about the debate. We're going to ask specific questions about certain things that were discussed during the debate. And so that's the topic for today.

So thank you for joining us, and we're going to go ahead and get started. So Paul, let's talk a little bit about the overall debate format. Talk about how they structured the debate, maybe pros, the positives and negatives of the debate, maybe changes we would have wished to have made to the debate if we were the ones hosting it. So overall, what were your thoughts about the debate, Paul? Yeah, you know, you kind of mentioned in the intro that questionable maybe whether we would call it a debate, so to speak, like we're used to seeing maybe among Christians debating topics of theology.

Wow, that's only half of me. It was more like a town hall debate. It was held at Sean McCraney's campus church in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Radio Free Mormon is from the Seattle area, I believe, and was down there in Utah for what's called the Thrive Conference, which is a conference for ex Latter-day Saints to come together and talk about life after Mormonism from a secular perspective. And so while he was down there, he I guess the Midnight Mormons had initially challenged Bill Reel. It sounded like to debate and I guess it got handed off to Radio Free Mormon because Bill Reel doesn't really care for debate format.

He doesn't think it gets anything accomplished. So Sean McCraney ended up being the moderator. He wasn't their first choice, but he was willing to offer up his church to hold the debate and also provided from the church's budget subway and drinks for the entire debate teams as well as for those who came to watch the debate.

And so, you know, kind of in a formal debate that we're maybe we're used to seeing on like the Gospel Truth, right? Podcast with Marlon. What's his last name? Is it Wilson? Marlon Wilson?

Marlon Wilson. You're right. So, you know, if you're used to watching a debate like that, there's a topic and so each side will debate one topic. Here what they did is they threw it out to the those who listen to Radio Free Mormon podcast or watch the Midnight Mormons YouTube channel to kind of crowdsource questions that would be posed. And then Sean McCraney kind of collated the questions and combine them into I forget. I think maybe eight questions that they tackled during the debate. And I think in one sense that maybe that was positive because, you know, like if you watch a presidential town hall debate, which is this was kind of more akin to the audience feels more involved maybe than they do in say a formal debate, which is often why I like formal debates.

They'll have question question and answer periods at the end to get the audience involved more. But ultimately, I think it ended up covering too much ground to really be effective. That's my take on it.

What do you think, Matthew? Yeah, it was, it did seem kind of like it was all over the place. And I think a lot of it was still civil, thankfully, you know, like, I didn't see like a lot of just fights break out, which is kind of what I was worried about.

You know, because whether, you know, whether you are a fan of RFM or not, you know, he kind of stirs up controversy, I guess, you know, he's kind of a controversial figure, even if he himself, maybe, you know, isn't isn't as violent as some of the critics of the LDS church are. But yeah, it, it definitely did feel a little bit, kind of all over the place. And it felt like it seemed like a lot of the questions were framed in such a way to like, they really wanted a specific answer.

But then it was kind of dodged, or, you know, it was kind of twisted a different way. Like, I can't remember if it was RFM, I think it was I think it was Sean McCraney, who gave the first question, he was like, Okay, I want you to give us your best case for the Book of Mormon, you know, historicity, archaeology, all that. And like, basically, it was personal experience and testimony and things like that. And I was like, Okay, well, he specifically wanted these other things that weren't really discussed. But he also did say at the end, give us your best case for the Book of Mormon. And so maybe they felt that that stuff was relevant.

Yeah, definitely. There was some, some declarationism on on the side of the Midnight Mormons for that first question, for sure. So I guess I guess we maybe we should talk a little bit about did you did you pay attention at all in the weeks leading up to this debate? And it's okay if you say no, because I know you were busy wrapping up your, your PhD.

And now you're busy with, with wedding plans. But did you pay attention at all to the back and forth that was happening between the Midnight Mormons and an RFM? And maybe we should say, so Midnight Mormons is a YouTube channel. It's three young or younger Latter Day Saints Cardin Ellis, Brad Whitbeck and Kwaku El. And they previously had a show called This is the Show with a somewhat risque acronym for the for the This is the Show and, and were removed from the Fair Mormon, or Fair LDS YouTube channel.

I think that happened a couple years ago or last year. And that came up during the debate. But there was a back and forth between RFM and Midnight Mormons as they tried to plan the debate and come up with what the format would be. Did you pay attention to any of that any of that as it went on? No, I didn't really pay attention. I remember hearing the announcement for the debate.

And then I saw Fred Anson's announcement, hey, it's happening like, Oh, yeah, I forgot that that was a thing that was happening. So yeah, no, not really. But they did. They did kind of talk a little bit about it at the very beginning of the debate, how they tried to set it up. And it was kind of behind the scenes drama, which seems kind of weird to bring it up during the debate.

It's like, at that point, look, you're already there. So yeah, I mean, it was definitely a lot of showboating. I think on both sides, pre debate to try to make the other side look like either they weren't going to show up or, you know, or difficult to work with on getting the format and location and time nailed down that kind of thing.

You know, RFM for his part definitely posted on his Facebook page, you know, updates and stuff like that. And Midnight Mormons did a response video on their channel pre debate. So it was kind of interesting kind of, I don't know, left a little bit of bad taste in my mouth, because I thought, you know, okay, even if there's some difficulties in getting things lined up, that should be kind of left aside and that the topics of the debate should be should be focused on, which was interesting, because even before the first question, right, like cardinalis jumped in and talked about how, you know, it was originally a challenge to build real and we brought you a sixth microphone so you can you can participate like made like challenged him on the spot, sitting in the front row to participate. So I thought that was a little bit in bad taste. But I think that was I think there was some of that on both sides leading up to it.

But what do you think about that? Yeah, I thought that was kind of ridiculous. Like my my opinion was, okay, look, there's there's drama in the background. I'm sure that there's drama with every setting up every debate because yeah, everybody wants wants it to go their way. But once you agree upon, you know, the format, how it's going to go, that's it, either go through with it, or you cancel it or reschedule or whatever, but you don't show up to the agreed upon format and then say, throw in last minute, hey, let's change it and add somebody else to debate panel, you know, that's just not that I should do it. And it kind of bothered me to that it's like, there wasn't even really a like for a Book of Mormon debate, you know, specifically had a thesis, you know, is a Book of Abraham ancient scripture. And so, you know, there's a positive and the negative side, as people know what they're getting into this debate, it was just like debate, you know, it wasn't the thesis that was important. It was the people who are debating, you know, that was what was drawing people. So, yeah, like the fact that you go into it, and there's not really a clear topic of debate, there's many different topics that didn't, I mean, like, even if there was two or three topics, I've seen that before, too, you know, or like, there's a debate where they are from the outset, they say, Okay, we're gonna be talking about this, this and this.

Okay, cool. But from this, it didn't seem like they really did that. So yeah, so you kind of mentioned the first question was was posed about the Book of Mormon, and it was posed to the Midnight Mormon. So I think there were supposed to be four questions per side. And then the side that was asked the question would be given eight minutes to respond. And then the other side was supposed to have eight minutes to counter what they had said in response to the question.

And then the initial side would have another three minutes to counter anything that was said in the rebuttal. So that first question was about the Book of Mormon, they asked the Midnight Mormons to give their, their best case for the Book of Mormon. And as you mentioned, Matthew, it was basically all three of them just bearing their testimony of their experiences with the Book of Mormon and how it's made them feel and how it's impacted their lives.

And there wasn't a whole lot talked about with regards to historicity. In fact, you know, Quaker even made the comment that you don't have to believe that the Book of Mormon is historical, which I thought was interesting because I didn't think, although I think that the LDS Church is headed in that direction, like the community of Christ did previously, I don't think that the leadership of the LDS Church is quite there yet. So I thought it was interesting to hear Quaker say that. But he also made an appeal to Latter-day Saints to be courageous in defending and holding on to what their ancestors had built. You know, in that, in that sense, he was referring to, you know, past leaders of the LDS Church, pioneers, those who, you know, kind of built what the LDS Church is today.

And what did you think about, about that appeal that he made to the audience? Yeah. I'm not entirely sure if he was trying to use that as like a, as like an evidence of the truthfulness of the, you know, of the religion is that, you know, all these people came before us and they built upon it. Or if he was just kind of trying to appeal to them to say, hey, don't throw it out as soon as you find something controversial about the faith or something you don't quite understand, which if it were the latter, I could kind of understand that because I would probably say the same thing about Christianity. You know, like if someone comes along and says, well, what about trilobites?

And what about, you know, what about, you know, what about dinosaur bones? And if someone says, well, all right, well, I can't be Christian anymore. You know, that totally refutes my faith. You know, it's like, okay, I think you should really sit down and think about it and study out the various views and not just immediately throw out your entire religion because you find something that's hard to understand and reconcile. So I could kind of understand that. So I would, I'm not really entirely sure what, where he was kind of going with that, you know, but there is this, there is this in the LDS church, there's this very strong feeling of like tradition, like our forefathers, they came across the plains and they suffered so many hardships. And so we can't let them down kind of a thing. And it's almost like almost kind of a form of manipulation, I think, to an extent to be like, well, they did all this stuff for you and now you're just going to throw it away. And so if that's kind of what he was going for. Yeah.

I'm not sure I'd really agree with that kind of way of thinking, but what about you? Yeah. What's, what's the hymn that we used to sing as Latter-day Saints? True to the truth, which our fathers have cherished.

True to the faith. That's the one I'm thinking. Yeah.

I forget all the lyrics, but yeah. Yeah. There's definitely that. And what, what his comment made me think of is back when I was kind of first starting to question the LDS church shortly after my mission and was, was involved in some online discussion groups. I was discussing one of the guys that I discuss things with is the descendant of a very prominent 19th century LDS apostle who was imprisoned for polygamy. And I remember having one conversation with with him and he, he made a similar comment to what Quaker said, you know, that, that he would never turn his back on his ancestors. I'm trying to remember exactly how he, how he phrased it, but it was similar.

You know what I mean? Like this, this dedication to what your ancestors had done is, is kind of a, it's a, it's an interesting thing that's kind of built into, into Mormonism. So I thought it was kind of interesting that quake, you did that because quake, you in particular mentioned in his opening, well, not maybe not his opening comments, but later on mentioned that he's a convert to the LDS church and he converted in 2014.

So he's only been a latter-day Saint for seven years or so. And so it's interesting that he kind of brought up that, that argument for sticking with what the ancestors have created. And it does kind of, it does seem kind of to go against what, at least I think going to be Hinkley, maybe other prophets have said the same, but you know, there's this, there's this notion that Mormonism is about taking whatever, taking truth, no matter where it comes from. So you take truth, you incorporate that into your life and then, you know, you reject what isn't true. But then, so that kind of butts heads against this idea of like, well, this is what our ancestors believed. So we need to follow the same path. And so it's like, well, wait a minute.

What if our ancestors were wrong though? Should we still go with that or stick to the whole, keep what's true, reject what isn't kind of. Yeah. Yeah. Right. I mean, you know, there's the whole concept of the, oh, in the early church, the, the apostles message or what's, what's the other term that's used in early church history.

The, the rule of faith, you know, that has been handed down from the apostles. Yeah. That's, that's tradition. Right. And that he seemed to be making a similar argument for a tradition within the LDS faith.

But if you, like you said, if you apply that to broader historic Christianity, then there shouldn't be a need for an LDS restoration per se. Exactly. Yup. Yeah. I thought you were talking about early LDS church history. So I was like, I'm not sure what you're thinking about that. You're talking about the Christian church history. I was going back further.

Yeah. So one of the other things that I thought was interesting in the Midnight Mormon's opening remarks when they were asked to talk about the historicity of the book of Mormon you know, the best, best argument for it being the word of God, that kind of thing. They all each all three of them mentioned modern leftist secularism. So they kind of came out arguing against that.

What do you think of, what did you think of them couching the debate in terms of Mormonism versus modern leftist secularism? I see that a lot. I think just in general everybody kind of thinks that like their religion is the solution to this problem. I mean, I've heard about it spoken of like, even just Christianity in general or Islam or like specifically the reform tradition or specific streams of tradition. So I feel like everybody feels like they see this growing trend of bucking, you know, the conservative values that have been kind of in Western society for so long.

And now it's completely changing and everyone says, well, it's because of X. And so if you just accept what we have to teach, that's the solution. And so like, I'm not going to say that I wouldn't say the same thing about Christianity, you know, like adopting the faith of our fathers is what keep being grounded in a biblical faith. That's not a good thing. But like I said, it just seems like it seems like a rallying cry that everybody kind of, maybe not everybody, but a large part of the population sees and they're kind of afraid of it. So kind of tapping into the stream of consciousness, this kind of zeitgeist of, wow, there's a lot of things that are changing, and that's not good.

And I see what's headed. And then saying, hey, we've got the we've got the solution for that, you know, it seems almost kind of like a salesman tactic a little bit, a little bit of, you know, a little bit of manipulation, even maybe even not a conscious manipulation, they personally just view it from their worldview, that they see this problem, and, and the LDS church and what is taught by the LDS church and their leadership are led by revelation, that's how they're gonna solve that problem. So I mean, I can't really attribute the motive behind why they kind of tapped into that.

But I thought it was interesting. And maybe, maybe it's just because, you know, young generation, there is kind of like an anti establishment, you know, kind of growing of like, you know, more conservatives that aren't even religious that are going against what the, you know, media tells them and what has been kind of been forced in, you know, almost propaganda esque, you know, type of information is being given out there. So maybe they were subconsciously tapping into that, because they're, you know, the two of them were Gen Z years, I'm not sure how old the elder is, but he's definitely not Gen Z guy. It's probably more than you know, just not sure how old is there either.

I don't think he's, I don't think he's quite Gen X, he's probably a millennial. But yeah, it was interesting that they did kind of come out and try to tar RFM as coming from this modern leftist secular approach. And I don't know that that's wholly unwarranted for them to do that. It just was interesting that they did. And just kind of in connection with that, I watched the, so the debate went out as a live stream on YouTube on the Heart of the Matter channel, which is Sean McCraney's channel. And when I tuned in to watch it on the live stream, the thumbnail was up there, Mormonism versus Christianity, a debate, which I thought was interesting because, and I grabbed a screenshot of it and send it to you, Matthew, because I was like, this is interesting because RFM is not a Christian as far as I know.

And if you want to hear the three of us talk with RFM, the two of us talk with RFM about that, you can listen to that episode, Radio Free Mormon of our podcast. But it was just interesting that it had that thumbnail up there. And then once the debate was over, the thumbnail was updated and it was like, I think it says now like Midnight Mormons versus RFM, a debate or something like that. So I kind of wonder the background for why it was initially tagged as Mormonism versus Christianity, if that was an attempt to work the algorithm and get more, get more viewers as they were searching for Mormonism versus Christianity during the debate time. I don't know.

But it was interesting. Was it just the thumbnail photo or was it also the title of the video? I can't remember.

I don't remember either. I think it was just the thumbnail. Maybe it was, if it was just a thumbnail, maybe it was just a recycled thumbnail they had lying around. Oh, that could be. And then they realized, oh yeah, RFM is Christian. So they had to change it later. That's a good point.

That could be it. All right. So any, any other thoughts on, on anything from the debate before I go on and ask some other questions or anything you want to say? I don't know.

Yeah, we're good to go. So one of the things that everybody I think found interesting is that the three Midnight Mormons came in wearing bulletproof vests on the outside of their clothes. What did you think about that? Yeah, it was very strange. It, it seemed like a, like several, like quite a while went by before they even addressed it.

Right. I can't remember who first brought it up. If it was like Sean, if he said something like, well, maybe if I was strapped in a Volker vest like you guys or something, I can't remember who said it, but yeah, it was weird. It's like, they just showed up just wearing it and like didn't, didn't point it out. It's almost like, I don't know. Is it, is it like a victim complex thing?

You know, like they feel like they're, they're being persecuted for the faith. You know, I don't know. What do you, what do you think that was about?

I mean, I don't know for sure. I do know that among the more secular progressive Mormon and ex Mormon crowd that, that Radio Free Mormon is a part of a few years back, there was a meme that was put out. It's from the movie and glorious bastards which is a Quentin Tarantino movie. And it's a, there's a scene in which a Nazi officer is beaten to death by blows to the head in the movie.

And the, when, when this is the show was first coming out and being posted to YouTube a meme was made, a video meme was made with the acronym for this is the show put on, put next to the baseball bat or whatever was being used to pummel the head in the, in the movie. And and then John Delin, who runs the Mormon stories podcast hits, his name was tagged next to the Nazi officer. And so that, that, when that meme was posted, it got a lot of attention in the ex Mormon world, I guess, online.

And so that was, that was kind of brought up, I think in, in some pre debate discussions between RFM and bill real. And then I had listened to kind of the midnight Mormons pre debate show that they did, where they kind of responded to some of the things that have been said on, on RFM Facebook wall and, and in their, in the podcast, the Mormonism live that goes out on Wednesday nights. And so it was, I think you know, the midnight Mormons don't think that that meme is a very big deal. Others think it's, you know, proposing violence towards John Delin, someone that the, the progressive Mormon community really cares for and has gotten a lot of benefit from his podcast and the work that he does.

So it's, it's kind of a sore spot, I would say between the two, like the apologetics community and, and the progressive Mormon community and ex Mormon community. And that came up. And so in the, in their pre debate show, the midnight Mormons were talking about how they had received death threats. And so them showing up in the Bulletproof vests, I guess, was their statement, you know, look, we received death threats and quick, you runs a I guess a party planning company called young and dumb and plans college parties all throughout Utah.

And you know, he even made the statement in their pre debate show that, that he was going to throw some money at the security guys that do security for his college parties and make sure that there was adequate security at the debate. So I'm not sure whether he actually did that or not, but that was the statement that was made. So anyway, and then it did come up in the debate that, you know, cardinalists like cited statistics from a Wikipedia page that according to him had statistics from the FBI crime unit showing that bombings of LDS chapels have been up since 20, 2017 quite significantly.

So I haven't looked into whether or not, whether or not that's the case. I do know that when I was, when I was younger and living in Utah, I don't know if you remember this at all, Matthew, but kind of around the September six, when that all went down, when the six LDS scholars were excommunicated from the church, that seems like there was an uptick in bombings of chapels at that time too, in the nineties. So yeah, I didn't remember that. I didn't really remember the September six until I don't know about them until years later though, too. Cause I was, I was like what, 92-ish, 93-ish somewhere around there. So I was like five or six.

So yeah, I didn't know nothing about nothing back then. So yeah, I don't recall that. I don't, I don't really, you don't really hear many stories period of like LDS churches being bombed, but I'm sure it happens. I do remember some news stories when I was around 13 or 14, which would have been around that time of the September six, not sure if they were connected, but it's, it's, it is interesting that as more and more information comes out about the LDS church and the LDS church hiding information from its members, that maybe there's an uptick in, in violent acts against LDS chapels. I hope that's not the case, you know, but there was some back and forth during the debate with each side kind of accusing the other of worse crimes of violence or, or whatever towards one another.

So that was, that, that kind of disappointed me too. Well, I, I know that that's kind of happened too in the past with Kwaku in previous debates as he brings up the crusades and other atrocities that Christians have committed. And, you know, it's like, well, how is that relevant? You know, like that was irrelevant to the debate. Like, yeah, we know a lot of messed up stuff has been done in the name of Christianity and, you know, atheism and basically any ism you can think of.

It's been co-opted for these, yeah, these terrible things, but how's that relevant to the debate? Right. Yep. You are listening to outer brightness, a podcast for post Mormons who are drawn by God to walk with Jesus rather than turn away. Outer brightness, outer brightness, outer brightness.

There's no weeping and wailing and mashing of teeth here. We were all born and raised in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, more commonly referred to as the Mormon faith. All of us have left that religion and have been drawn to faith in Jesus Christ based on biblical teachings. The name of our podcast, outer brightness reflects John one nine, which calls Jesus the true light, which gives light to everyone. We have found life beyond Mormonism to be brighter than we were told it would be. And the light we have is not our own.

It comes to us from without, thus outer brightness. Our purpose is to share our journeys of faith and what God has done in drawing us to his son. We have conversations about all aspects of that transition, the fears, challenges, joys, and everything in between.

We're glad you found us and we hope you'll stick around. So church artists was another thing that came up because RFM talked about, he talked a lot about his kind of central theme. I think that he was trying to get across to the midnight Mormons as he spoke with them and to them during the debate was that they don't know the extent to which the LDS church has hidden things from people.

They kind of brush that stuff off. He thought maybe too glibly because they're young and they weren't a part of the church, the LDS church during the, he said seventies and eighties when a lot of stuff definitely was hidden. And they kind of brush him off as a boomer and made the case that look, we've known all of this stuff all along. But one of the things that he brought up is the way that the translation process for the book of Mormon has been portrayed visually in church magazines and publications where, you know, artistic renderings of Joseph Smith sitting at a table with the golden plates in front of him, running his fingers over the characters was presented, you know, sometimes with him wearing spectacles, which were supposed to be the Urim and Thummim. And, you know, he made the case that when it came, when it started to be known through the internet that he had used the same seer stone that he had used to try to find buried treasure prior to becoming a prophet and leader of a church to do the translation of the book of Mormon that the, and that, you know, people started to question, why is there this discrepancy between what has been presented to us visually, even if there were articles about the seer stone here and there in a church publication like the church news or the end sign occasionally, maybe once every 10 years, visually, it was very much presented that he was looking at the gold plates while he translated. So he made the case that the church blamed the artists, you know, like, look, we commissioned artists to do renderings and they do, they do what they do artistically. We can't take accountability for what they do, even if it's not historically accurate.

What's your take on that? I don't know if maybe you can correct me, but I don't think that LDS church has actually officially come out and thrown the artists under the bus, right? They're kind of, there have been apologists that have kind of explained it that way, like fair apologists that say that they're artistic renditions.

They're not meant to be historically accurate, et cetera. But I don't, maybe, maybe the church has come out and says, no, you're right. Thanks for that clarification. It has been the apologists. You're right.

Right. So, so that's kind of why, yeah, it's a sticky issue because I do kind of agree with RFM that even though the picture has never been said, this is historically exactly what has happened, the way that we were taught about it and the way it's shown in books and magazines and enzyme, where Joseph Smith has the plates on the table and he's kind of thumbing through it. And even as recent as the prophet of the Restoration movie, they showed him looking at the plates, you know?

And so it does make it seem like, yeah, that's actually what happened. And so this idea that when you find out, no, like most of the time it wasn't even in the same room, it was in the box or it was hidden under a cloth or something, you know, like he wasn't even looking at the plates. I think that does, it's kind of a showing of bad faith from the church to be like, you know, to continue to push out in official material, pictures that are just not accurate, even if there's nothing there to say. And I never really see anything either, like any kind of disclaimer that says, disclaimer, this is an artist's rendition. It's not historically accurate account of what actually happened. You don't see anything like that.

It just shows you the picture. They describe what happened and you say, oh, okay, that's what, that's what it seems like it happens. And then when so many LDS members found out through South Park or, you know, from the internet that that's not actually how it happened. He had his face in the hat. I knew Mormons myself when I was a kid who thought, oh, that's so stupid. Like Joseph Smith putting his face in the hat and then like, you know, that's actually what happened.

You know, he had his face in the hat and he had the seer stone inside the hat and there's different accounts as to what he would actually see whether it was like a scroll opening and the actual letters would unfurl or whatever. Yeah, it's not quite what those paintings depict. And so it does feel kind of like the, the rug is being pulled under you when you find that out. And some people can, you know, they can work through it. Like I'll admit that it's not that big of a deal personally. It's not, that's not what broke my shelf, you know, like, but it is just kind of like, it's kind of like when you it's, it's a little glimpse into how the sausage is made, you know, like you, you have the final product, you see what's there and you get a tiny little glimpse and like, oh, like it's not quite exactly what I thought it was. And like for some people that's kind of just opening the door and there's so many other things that are much more serious that the LDS church doesn't teach. So I think that in and of itself is not really something to worry about, but it's kind of opening yourself up to this new idea of like, oh, basically what I taught as a kid isn't exactly reality. And so that kind of starts them on the path of exploring other things that weren't quite as they were depicted to us.

So yeah, I don't know. It's like to really stick on that as like a really big deal is kind of not really a big deal. But yeah, for me personally, I felt like it was a springboard into church history and learning more about the church and, you know, learning that the church history is kind of whitewashed a little bit. So what are your thoughts on it? Yeah, I think, you know, you made a good correction on me. It isn't, it was the apologists that were arguing that, you know, the church can't really control what the artists do once they commission them. I remember when I first saw that, that argument made, gosh, decade and a half ago, probably reading fair.

I did. It didn't sit well with me because one, I don't think that the LDS church is just commissioning artists to paint or draw something and saying, do whatever you want. You know, I think that they probably do give us some guidelines. This is what we're looking for.

This is what we want presented. You know, I may be wrong. I know I'm not involved in the LDS church's artistic department, but I have a hard time believing that, that they're just telling the artists, look, we want to, we want a painting of Joseph Smith translating the book of Mormon, do whatever you want, you know, historically accurate or not.

I don't think that's kind of like the guidance they're giving. But also like you pointed out, even if it's not, even as the apologists that are kind of throwing the artists under the bus, RFM made the case, and I think he's right that in the debate that the LDS church still chose to publish those pictures in their official publications magazines, even those, even though that's not canon, you know, the magazines aren't considered to be scripture. And so, you know, Latter-day Saints shouldn't treat it as such, but they did choose to publish the pictures that depict him running his fingers over the plates and, you know, in something that's very much not like what the historical record shows. So let's see. So I mentioned earlier the Midnight Mormons, you know, used the term boomer a lot and, you know, talked about Gen Z and they made the case that many of the arguments against the LDS church are generational. What do you think about that argument?

Does it, does it stand? I don't know. It's kind of hard to really paint an entire generation with a broad brush. I think there is something to it though, just because millennials and Gen Z are just so used to being, having the internet and having access to all this information that maybe we just naturally grow up understanding that things change quickly, you know, and maybe there's some level of adaptability there to where you pick up new information and replace it quickly with new information that comes out. So maybe there is that kind of idea just with the advent of the internet and, you know, computers being accessible to everybody that maybe we are more amenable to change to where maybe older generations, when they see stuff like this, that they've been taught for decades and decades and they find out, oh, that's not true. That's more of a shock to them because they're less able or willing to accept new information. So maybe there is something kind of, you know, there's some kind of substance to that, but to say that the arguments only are, you know, they're only convincing to boomer, baby boomers or other older generations. I just don't think it really holds much weight because, yeah, like I said earlier, you know, I don't think the argument about the artist rendition of the translation of the Book of Mormon, that alone was enough to like destroy my testimony, but it did make me start to question more like, okay, well, what else was I taught in church that maybe isn't completely conforming to what history tells us, you know? So it didn't start to make me think more critically about certain things. And maybe that's a trait too of millennials and Gen Z is we're more willing to question things rather than just accept it, you know, what we're told. I don't know.

What about you? What do you think about that? The generational argument? Yeah, I think, I think you've made some really good points there about, you know, Gen Z millennials maybe being more used to things changing quickly and being okay with that, being more comfortable with it. There's probably, there probably is something there. But I think, and also I think there's some, you know, so I'm, I'm not a boomer, but I'm old enough to remember, you know, when John Dylan was still doing Mormon stories as a believing, even if maybe not Orthodox believing a Latter-day Saint and still trying to make the argument that people should stay in the LDS church, even knowing the hard things and trying to make the case to in the terms that he put it, inoculate the younger generations with the harder stuff so that they wouldn't be as challenged by it. And so that was, you know, that was just like 13 years ago that he was making that case. And so now you kind of see that playing out with with the Gen Z or maybe they're millennials.

What are they? The, the Midnight Mormons, they're millennials. You see that playing out with the millennial Midnight Mormons where they're like, yeah, I've, we've known about all this stuff. We talked about it in seminary, you know, it's not, it's not difficult for us.

It doesn't bother. It may be challenging a little bit, but it's not going to make us leave the church kind of attitude. And, you know, I even had taken that attitude as well.

Like, towards the end of my time in the LDS church, I was an instructor in the elders quorum and a, and a, and a counselor in the elders quorum presidency. And, you know, when we would go through lessons, occasionally something difficult from, you know, somebody would have seen something difficult on the internet and they would, they would raise a question, right. About something that was being presented. And so, you know, there were, there were times when I made statements like, you know, Hey, I knew about all that. I know about all this stuff. Now I've learned about it on the internet.

You know, it's not, it's not shaking me. What do you think about that? Taking that approach? Like, Hey, there's all this difficult stuff about the LDS church that looks, makes it look like, you know, what was, what was presented to us as history is not actually accurate history.

But I know about all that stuff. Now it's, it's not going to make me leave the church. What do you think about that? That approach? Do you mean like for someone personally, like to maintain their testimony or do you mean as like trying to convince other people to stay in the church?

For someone personally? Yeah. I mean, we've both encountered people in the discussion groups that are like that. They're like, I've read every anti-Mormon book on the market and there's nothing that can phase me.

And it seems almost like a badge of honor, you know, that they, they take this aisle and nothing could phase me. I mean, if they're not convinced, they're not convinced, you know, but a lot of times you can have overwhelming evidence staring you right in the face and, you know, you can still refuse to accept the truth. So I'm not going, I'm not saying like I'm insulting your intelligence or something like that, but you know, I do, you know, as Christians, we do believe that God has to make the truth known to you, you know, like we're all kind of apart from Christ, we're all kind of veiled under this kind of scales of darkness. And, and, you know, we're all, we're all kind of just, you know, flailing around the dark and we're trying to cling onto something. And for a lot of people, Mormonism is that thing they cling onto.

And like, it doesn't matter what kind of things, controversial things they run into. They, they still cling onto something, something keeps them in the church, you know, keeps our testimony strong. And, and like, I tried to do that too, you know, towards the end of my kind of faith crisis, but there was just so much evidence piling up and just things that didn't make sense. And I couldn't just put it on the shelf anymore because it just, the shelves collapsed.

And I was like, Oh, you know, I don't know what I'm doing anymore. So, I mean, I, we do see it, it's not an uncommon thing, but I also tend to think that a lot of the LDS apologetics, at least was very kind of like you just said earlier with FAIR is that a lot of their arguments are just not very convincing, but for someone who's desperately trying to hold on, it can be convincing to them. You know, like it, it's like, you know, when you're, when you're looking for something, when you're looking for a hammer, everything starts to look like a hammer kind of a thing. So it's like, they're, they'll cling onto any kind of argument that bolsters our faith, even if under critical examination, it makes no sense or it just falls apart.

They'll, they'll stick to it because it's good enough. At least that's kind of how it seems. So I don't know if that kind of answered your question or I kind of went around to, Yeah, it does answer my question. And, and, you know, like I said, I, I took that same approach towards the end of my, my time in the LDS church. I tried to, it was more of me trying to bolster myself, bolster my confidence, I think, even though, like you said, there was kind of like this mountain of things on the, on the shelf that were, that was like piling up and spilling over and collapsing the shelf. But I did, I had tried to kind of bolster myself by saying, Oh, you know, I know all this stuff now and it's, you know, it's not a big deal.

But, you know, it was a big deal. I thought there was, there was some irony, you know, we mentioned earlier that, that the Midnight Mormons kind of came out arguing against, leftist secular, what'd they call it? Modern leftist secularism, right? They came out kind of guns a blazing against modern leftist secularism and, and tried to kind of pin that, as a moniker on RFM. But there's irony in them trying to do so because RFM, you know, he was, although he might be, you know, left leaning politically, I have no idea. One of the statements that he made in the debate, and I don't know if he was being facetious was that the, the United States of America is the greatest country in the history of the world. And he got a big, big applause for that. Not sure if he was being facetious there or not, but, they tried to pin this moniker on him, but he's the one sitting there going, Hey, truth matters.

Right. And he was the one presenting facts. And, you know, a philosophical position that's, that's often tied with modern leftist secularism is postmodernism where truth doesn't matter, or there is no truth that you can discover. And words don't matter and don't mean anything. They don't have referent to actual reality. So it was just kind of ironic.

I thought that, that they came out guns a blazing against RFM and he's the one going, Hey, hey, truth matters, guys. And like you said, there are statements that, you know, maybe you don't even have to have a historical view of the book alone. Like you said earlier, you know, you can just believe whatever you want about it. And like, yeah, that doesn't get more, you know, postmodern than that. And also there was a comment that Kwaku made later about, he says how he envisioned there's a possibility of men being married to men in the celestial kingdom or something like that. Like that's definitely not traditional Mormonism.

No, that's so, yeah, it was very strange. So one of the other things that the Midnight Mormons did was they criticized RFM and his quote unquote attacks on the LDS church because he's an atheist or an agnostic. And they tried to get him to state his position on whether or not there is a God. And he, he, he came out with the agnostic position and said, I don't know. But what did you think about like, like is criticizing his attacks on the LDS church because he's an atheist or agnostic because he doesn't believe? Is that a valid response to the, to the critiques that he raised?

Why, why or why not? Yeah, no, I think it's basically just your classic ad hominem attack. Like, you know, you are X therefore your argument isn't valid is pretty much the definition of ad hominem attack.

So yeah, I don't, I don't think it really is. I think you can, you can, when you're addressing a comment, you can say, well, from your position, you see it this way, you know? So maybe you can kind of discuss a topic like that in an, in a debate, but to just flat out say, well, you're wrong because you're, you're, you're, you're this doesn't make a lot of sense. You know, like if, yeah, if, if the, if the argument is true, it doesn't matter, you know, who says it. If they, if it's an atheist or a Christian or, you know, any other kind of theist or a non theist spiritual person, if the criticism is valid, then you should try to address that instead of, yeah, try to use that person and their belief structure as a weapon against them.

So what about you? What do you think of that? Yeah, I totally agree with you. It was, it was an ad hominem attack and it, and you know, they didn't really address the items that he had raised. And to be fair to them radio free Mormon only occasionally addressed things that they had said he kind of had a message that he was putting forward and he kind of, kind of seemed to stick to a script in every time he was given the mic. So I don't know, like you said at the very, very beginning of the night, I don't think it was really a debate per se.

But kind of final question I have, and then we'll wrap up. Kweku during the debate kind of tried to nail down what, what LDS might mean when they, they claim to know something in their testimony. What did you think about his attempts to do so?

And it didn't really go anywhere. The other two midnight Mormons were like, well, maybe we'll do a show on that. So what did you, what did you think about that? Is that when he was kind of talking about like, what it means to know something is kind of like dependent on your culture or something like that. Yeah.

Yeah. It didn't really make sense to me. Like, I don't know. I kind of like philosophy and thinking about the study. So the field of study for our listeners who don't know, like the study field of study that talks about what, how you know something is, is called epistemology. And so I'm kind of interested in actually discussing that, but it does seem kind of like an odd place to have, you know, a fundamental debate on what epistemology is like that, that itself could be an entire debate talking about like, okay, as a, as a secular, you know, as someone who is not a believer anymore, who's a non, you know, a non theist with RFM, assumedly, I'm not sure exactly what he believes, but he's definitely, he's, he's not Christian, but maybe he believes in some kind of God.

So like, how, how do you know, how do you trust what you know is true? Like, I think that's a fascinating thing to, for them to debate about in and of itself. But yeah, to try to knock that down in like five or ten minutes or something like that is just like not possible. Yeah. And as far as my LDS believe, when they say they know something in their testimony, usually it's more equivalent to what most people would say as believe, or I, you know, I consider to be true rather than what most people would say they know, you know, something that's verifiable, something that's, you know, irrefutable. I'll just don't really use it in that sense. So yeah, that whole bringing that up was kind of, yeah, it was kind of strange. What are your thoughts on that poll?

Yeah, I agree. I, I was kind of curious where he was going with it. I'd have to go back and listen, but it seemed to me like it was around the time that they were trying to nail down exactly what RFM believed. And he said, I don't know. And I was kind of curious, like, was Quaco trying to lead into a discussion more of a back and forth with, with RFM about what no means to try to find some common ground and say, you know, neither one of us is claiming to know perfectly, you know, maybe, I don't know. It was interesting. So any, any final thoughts on, on the debate, the format recommendations for our listeners, would you recommend that they, they watch the debate?

I don't know. I feel like if you know these people and you're interested in them, probably something worth watching, but it's kind of like, so I'm a big fan of, there's a channel on YouTube called red letter media. And they, and it's like, they, they, they post a lot of movie reviews and stuff. And it's like, if you've, they also made their own film called space cop. And so I would only recommend space cop if you've seen everything else, because if you don't see, haven't seen everything else, you're not going to get any of the jokes in space cop. It's like one big inside joke. So in that kind of sense, it's like, if you know about, you know, the controversy behind RFM and like you, you know, you're either interested in the LDS apologetics community.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-12 01:36:18 / 2023-06-12 01:57:05 / 21

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