Conversations with a Non-Mormon Part II
This is really a continuation of the conversation I had with the person (and people) from “How do Mormons reconcile the contradictions in their religion?“
As we went on from the opening question (and answers) I discussed in my last entry, the main questioner questioned whether Mormonism could be falsifiable under these criteria. He raised the dearth of evidence of Book of Mormon locations, and I pointed out that absence of evidence doesn’t mean evidence of absence (although, absence of evidence doesn’t alone give compelling reason to believe.) He eventually said:
I guess this is how I would look at it:
If Mormonism is true, you would expect evidence of this civilization
If Mormonism is false, you would expect no evidence of this civilization.
Strictly speaking you can only ever prove Mormonism true by that criteria since if you haven’t found the evidence it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist… but if you’re going to be intellectually honest, you have to say that the world we’re living in doesn’t look like the one the book of mormon describes
He actually said something later that related to the point that I thought was interesting too…
Which, while I realize I’m preaching to the atheistic/agnostic choir here, ultimately means that you could justify absolutely anything with that line of reasoning. Which means that Mormonism is consistent with all possible evidence. Which means that it ultimately predicts and explains nothing about reality.
I guess I haven’t thought a lot about that last part. But I did try to address his first message by saying:
Let me put your scenario to a different test.
“If black swans truly exist, you would expect evidence of these swans.
If black swans truly did not exist, you would expect no evidence of these swans.”
Indeed, we did not see evidence of these swans for a looooong time. But did that conclusively show that black swans do not exist? Well, when Europeans discovered Australia, I bet THEY were really surprised to find those black swans after all! Book of Mormon cities should be larger and more noticeable than our black swans, and we suppose that we know *where* to look…but we could be way off.
You say that “if you’re going to be intellectually honest, you have to say that the world we’re living in doesn’t look like the one the book of mormon describes.” But you play with fire. I’ll tell you something:
GLENN BECK IS MAKING A KILLING PRECISELY BY ARGUING THAT THE WORLD WE’RE LIVING IN LOOKS LIKE THE ONE THE BOOK OF MORMON DESCRIBES. When he invokes images of the constitution “hanging by a thread” because of America’s unrighteous pride, he’s pulling deep into Mormon lore and the Book of Mormon pride cycle. And apparently, as much as you or I want to believe he’s just a nutjob that NO ONE LISTENS TO, plenty of people (many non-mormons too…these people would probably flip if they realized Beck was one of the Mormons!) do listen to Glenn Beck (even if he’s still a nutjob).
Apparently, what the world looks like — and how it relates to any piece of literature — is in the eye of the beholder.
In hindsight, that’s one scary answer.