What if Mormonism is wrong?
What if Mormonism (or any other religion) is wrong? This has been a question asked by bloggers and others throughout time…and a question I hope every religious person asks several times throughout their lives. It is a question anti-mormons (or anti-any religion people) want to change from a “What if” to a decided statement. And I believe it is a question many atheists want to ask theists, in the hopes of getting them to admit a rather shocking conclusion. (or, to be equitable, a question theists want to ask atheists, in the same hopes.)
Yet I think the shocking conclusion is not the one most people would originally think of. Most people think that if their religion were found wrong, then it would make an eternity of matter. I think the conclusion, however, is something different. Something that Jeff at Mormon Matters already touched upon: it doesn’t matter.
It gets back to my one of my previous posts: Who needs a fool-proof proof of God?
The question has to be set up in a particular way. For example, how fool-proof is fool-proof? And does such a proof suggest a personal impact on life? My arguments have been that we can’t really get a true fool-proof proof — fools are just too darn clever for cleverness. Similarly, should one find such a proof, this is utterly not indicative of personal impact. My point, in the end, has been that the holy grail for any side is to show supreme positive impact from their espoused beliefs and actions.
And this is why it does not matter if any religion, even Mormonism, is wrong. Because we may not be able to definitively know if we’re right or wrong, despite our feelings (which can be grossly inaccurate)…because we may not even be able to know if we can know…and finally because this shocking nest of ignorance within ignorance appears not to affect our mortal lives (at least, not enough to stop us from blogging and proselytizing incessantly), it does not matter.
I cannot find who said the quote or where it comes from, but I distinctly remember reading a scenario, which I have paraphrased:
“Higher-ups in the church feared that news about the Egyptologist discoveries about the Pearl of Great Price facsimiles would cause massive apostasy; anti-Mormon critics rejoiced the spread of such news for precisely the same reason. But both groups were wrong, as relatively no mass migration or exist occurred. Relatively no one seemed affected by such seemingly decisive proof, because true believers continued to hold to arguments of faith. Meanwhile, the cultural Mormons never believed in the literal authenticity of such works.”
I keep trying to find the speaker and source of this quotation, because when I originally read it, it resonated so strongly within. It was the first time I had heard the mental process — even second-hand — of the cultural Mormon, from someone other than myself.
Regardless, as I’ve moved forward, these kinds of comments seem to make more sense. Regardless of the rightness or wrongness, authenticity or fabrication, or many objective traits, religion will and does stand. Rather, religions, and especially Mormonism, depend on subjective and pragmatic traits.
So what if Mormonism is wrong? It doesn’t matter if the Book of Mormon is an authentic document…it matters if someone can read the Book of Mormon and take its challenge and receive a testimony that irradiates belief and faith into the soul. It matters if one can take a step and begin practicing the Mormon lifestyle and find it to be a good life. And this is true of all things: of any other religion, of nonreligious ideas, of anything.
But if one can’t do these things, then rightness will not matter. And this is what several groups do not realize. Counter-cult ministries are tilting at windmills by showing how Mormonism is “wrong” or “unbiblical.” Rather, they must focus their effort on showing how their own ministries are irradiescient (OK, I admit I made that one up, because I NEEDED the majestic concepts “iridescent,” “irradiating,” and “omniscient” ALL in one) of goodness and peace. We are not geared so much for truth, but to shiny things that make us feel joyful…we’re a bit more prepared.
This is deep stuff, and tough stuff. I had to make up a word for it, after all. The problem is…I don’t think any one group has found a way to project that to all people of all times. And this is why you have the disgruntled and disaffected, ex-mormons or ex-anything.
So, while I cringe at implication it raises, I would want people to answer my article’s titular question with, “So what? I’d aspire to live in the same way because it is good.” More frequently than they should ask, “Is it right?” I would want them to evaluate, however subjectively it is, “Is what I’m doing good?” “Am I progressing?” Every day. And if affirmation that rings true to their core isn’t the first response…then it’s time to look for changes.
…I’m certain I will be summarily thrashed for wishywashiness, or for this kind of philosophy’s naive acquiescence of the most egregious things.