During a General Conference talk on October 2 (2011) LDS General Authority Tad Callister spoke about the Book of Mormon being “A Book from God.” Church News reports:
“The genius of the Book of Mormon is there is no middle ground, declared Elder Tad R. Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy. ‘It is either the word of God as professed, or it is a total fraud.’
“The Book of Mormon does not claim to be just a collection of insightful writings but the word of God — ‘every sentence, every verse, every page,’ Elder Callister said.
“Joseph Smith declared that an angel of God directed him to translate the writings of prophets in Ancient America by divine powers. ‘If that story is true then the Book of Mormon is holy scripture, just as it professes to be; if not, it is a sophisticated, but nonetheless, diabolic hoax.’
Mr. Callister’s either/or perspective isn’t new. From early Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt to current Mormon Apostle Jeffrey Holland, Mormon leaders have said essentially the same thing:
“This book must be either true or false. If true, it is one of the most important messages ever sent from God to man, affecting both the temporal and eternal interests of every people under heaven to the same extent and in the same degree that the message of Noah affected the inhabitants of the old world. If false, it is one of the most cunning, wicked, bold, deep-laid impositions ever palmed upon the world, calculated to deceive and ruin millions who will sincerely receive it as the word of God, and will suppose themselves securely built upon the rock of truth until they are plunged with their families into hopeless despair. The nature of the message in the Book of Mormon is such, that if true, no one can possibly be saved and reject it; if false, no one can possibly be saved and receive it.” (Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, 1:1, October 15, 1850)
“To consider that everything of saving significance in the Church stands or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and, by implication, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of how it came forth is as sobering as it is true. It is a ‘sudden death’ proposition. Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is, or this Church and its founder are false, a deception from the first instance onward.” (Jeffrey Holland, Christ and the New Covenant, p. 334)
Though the truth-or-fraud proposition has been suggested before, what I found to be different in Mr. Callister’s talk (as reported by Church News) was his approach to determining the truth of the Book of Mormon. Most of the time Latter-day Saints point people to Moroni’s Promise, saying one can prove the Book of Mormon through a spiritual witness received via prayer. But Mr. Callister said nothing about “ask[ing] God…if these things are not true.” Instead,
“He invited members to determine the true nature of the Book of Mormon by asking themselves if the following scriptures would draw them closer to God or the devil. He quoted 2 Nephi 32:3, Helamen 5:12 and Moroni 10:32, which state, in turn, ‘… the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do,’ ‘… it is upon the rock of our Redeemer who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation;’ and ‘Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.’”
“’Could these statements from the Book of Mormon have possibly been authored by the evil one?’ he asked. ‘If the foregoing scriptures from the Book of Mormon teach us to worship and love and serve the Savior (which they do), how can they be from the devil?’”
Mr. Callister’s rhetorical questions infer that edifying teaching about Christ and salvation cannot come from “the evil one,” but he is mistaken. For example, in Acts 16 we read about a time when Paul was on his way to “the place of prayer.” A slave girl, who was “possessed with a spirit of divination,” followed behind the apostle for days, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” Paul eventually became annoyed and commanded the demon to come out of the girl, which it did. In this instance, the demon “taught” people that the apostle Paul was proclaiming the true way of salvation.
In Mark 1, while Jesus was teaching in a Capernaum synagogue on the Sabbath, a “man with an unclean spirit…cried out…I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and delivered the man from further torment. In this instance, the demon announced to everyone in the synagogue that Jesus was the very Holy One of God. The Bible includes many such examples of enlightening instruction being delivered by demons.
While I think Mr. Callister has suggested a faulty test in his specifics, I do appreciate his encouragement to Latter-day Saints, that they should actually make an effort to determine the true nature of the Book of Mormon — and this by taking an objective look at its origin and contents.
“Holy scripture” or “diabolic hoax”? I would like to suggest a good place to begin an objective quest to determine the true nature of the Book of Mormon is at mrm.org. Check out the articles found here , here, and here.
Great article Sharon. It sounds to me like the LDS leadership is responding to critics about how to test the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. It also sounds like they are making a shift to focus more on Christ so that the world will view them as Christians. I went to mormon.org and read “what Mormons believe” after the Southern Baptist preacher declared openly and publicly that Mitt Romney wasn’t a Christian. Reading on mormon.org looks like they are indeed Christian to those who aren’t truly familiar with LDS teachings. Knowing all the underlying messages and doctrines changes everything written there. Just more deception from the LDS church. I wonder if the Mormon Missionaries will be switching from ” just pray with a sincere heart and ask God if it is true.” to ” ask yourself if the following scriptures would draw you closer to God or the devil.”
If the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith wrote was truly of God, why have there been so many changes made to it by the LDS church? That should be the question the LDS membership should be asking.
I am going with that its a total fraud. The “burning in my bosom” tells me so.
As much as I normally think general Authorities are pretty awesome, I gotta say that your right on this one Sharon. When I saw the talk broadcast I remember thinking ‘Seriously …. your going with that argument? Its uplifting, therefore the Devil can’t make it? That’s not going to convince anybody! That’s worse than trying to beleive when he Paul insists that everyone just magically knows God exists, even though there are hundreds of millions of self professed atheists around today.’
I detect a trend of objectivity in the churches rhetoric in recent years. they are slowly beginning to realize that ‘I know Mormonism is true, God told me so’ is useless for converting people when every other religion can and sometimes do run similar versions of the same trick. My old Pentecostal church was virtually identical in its efforts to convince potential converts.
Sharon recommends that an objective test start at some articles on the parent website. that probably is a good place to start, but only if it doesn’t make up the whole of said test. I would suggest finding some argument(s) against the Book of Mormon, and find the smartest, best version of it you can. Then go to some Mormon websites/books and find the Smartest, best rebuttals you can. Then go back to find the best counter-rebuttals you can and so on. Find out if any argument holds up by testing it in the fire of the best Scholarship the other side can provide. And then start again and do the same with Arguments for Mormonism. compare and contrast the result. That would be my recommendation for finding out the truth.
Kate, I guess the Missionaries would say that I cheated in my approach to Mormonism
via the Book of Mormon because when Mormonism first perked my attention I proceeded
to read what it’s prophets and apostles taught about the God mentioned in the Bible and
Book of Mormon before I had a chance to read the Book of Mormon itself. I read a wide
variety of sermons by these apostles , both from former apostles to then current ones (late
1970’s ) . I could’nt accept what Mormon apostles have taught about God and salvation etc.
Long story short, I kept my Bible . I found the Book of Mormon to be interesting, but not
necessary for me to accept as another guide for me in faith and conduct . The Bible seems
sufficient for that .
I’m trying to process this statement you made in your post above:
“That’s worse than trying to beleive when he Paul insists that everyone just magically knows God exists, even though there are hundreds of millions of self professed atheists around today.”
Are you referring to Romans 1:19-20? I don’t think you really have the option of disagreeing with the apostle Paul. Are you demonstrating an inflated view of your own intellect and spiritual status? Paul tells us in Galatians 1:11-12 that he received the gospel he preached via a revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul lays out the basis of that gospel in the Book of Romans. In Galatians 1:8 Paul also says that even if an angel preaches a different gospel he’s accursed. Paul was making a very strong point here regarding the fierceness with which believers need to guard the gospel.
When someone comes along claiming another revelation and another gospel, we are to not only reject it but earnestly defend the true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The BoM is a fable, a myth and a fabrication. There is no historical basis for it. However if someone wants to believe that a fella that once hunted for buried treasure with a magic rock, dug up some gold plates and translated them via a process of putting the magic rock in a hat then that’s his prerogative. That a lost tribe of Israel floated over to the Americas on some magic boats and became the forerunners of the American Indians just isn’t substantiated by any manner then that someone enjoys the story and wants to believe it.
Mick I think you need to bear down real hard and hit the books on this one.
Well, that’s definitely interesting. Obviously, people must be getting a little more skeptical, because otherwise, there’d be no reason to address this issue.
Kate, I don’t know about you, but the Mormons around me have been all fired up over the preacher’s statements. I guess my question would be why do they want to be labeled as “Christian” so badly anyway?? I mean, their founding prophet called all Christian churches an “abomination”. Their early prophets made it a point to stand distinct from other mainstream Christian churches. They don’t teach any of traditional Christian theology. They don’t actually worship Christ; he’s just a means to an end. Christians have been labeled as apostates, the “whore of Babylon”, greedy, and a bunch of other slanderous terms by Mormons. And now they want to be grouped with us? That seems a tad odd to me. Another attempt at becoming more relevant and accepted by popular culture. It’s incredibly misleading.
It’s also weird to me that so many Mormons seem to be ignorant of their own historical past and prophets’ teachings. Because of this, a bunch of LDS are posting things like, “I believe the Bible is the word of God” (ironically leaving out a very significant detail, obviously), “I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins”, “It’s through his sacrifice I believe I can repent and be forgiven of my sins”… all basic things that sound very traditional Christian-like, but with a little research, they’d find that’s not what their former prophets taught at all.
It all boils down to what they want to believe. I find there’s a very broad spectrum of Mormons. Those whose lives are consumed by the system, they only refer to God as “Heavenly Father”, and have accepted it hook, line, and sinker. Then there are others who think it’s just another form of mainstream Christianity. And still others who figure it’s either the LDS or the Catholics that have “proper authority”, and the LDS church seems like the lesser of the two evils, so to speak.
Yet, all they need to realize is it’s JESUS, not a religion, that saves.
Thanks for this excellent article, Sharon. In his address, the General Conference speaker believes the Book of Mormon is the word of God because it has a lot to say about Jesus Christ, and speaks highly of him. He believes it draws people closer to Jesus Christ.
There seems to be many passages in the Book of Mormon which offer praise to Jesus. But … can one speak highly of Jesus if one does not regard Jesus’ work? What does the Book of Mormon have to say about the Cross; the work of God?
“Behold I have given unto you my gospel, … that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross … that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil” (3 Nephi 27:13-14).
In this passage, we read that Jesus was sent to be lifted up upon the cross. That certainly is true and consistent with the Bible. And so, no problem. Oh, wait, I almost forgot. What about the why? Is the why true? Why was Jesus lifted up upon the cross? According to the Book of Mormon, it was so all men shall be lifted up as well, to stand before Jesus. And then: Judgment. This is the LDS gospel.
As a Christian, what do I think when I look upon the Cross? Do I think of judgment? Well, actually, I do. Do I think of my judgment? Yes; certainly. Do I think of one day facing judgment? No. Why? Because when Jesus went to the Cross, that was my judgment. My sins were laid upon him, and he was judged and condemned. He saved me from judgment.
This is why the Bible’s why—its why about the Cross—is so astonishing. Here it is:
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:14-18).
Why did Jesus go to the Cross? He did so to give me eternal life. Those who don’t believe may learn here (v. 18) their judgment’s verdict. For the verdict is already in. They are “condemned already.”
I always get a kick out of it when Mormons tell us that we don’t understand Mormonism and yet Mormons don’t seem to be able to get their act together to clearly articulate exactly what Mormonism is. It’s as if they fill it up with their own personal meaning.
Part of the problem is that Mormonism is so incredibly inconsistent, ambiguous and given to fits of change. I guess there’s a Mormonism for every generation because this Mormonism that we view today is nothing like the original or that which was redefined about every twenty to forty years. Think of it, the original BoM is significantly different from subsequent editions. The D&C is different from the original Book of Commandments. In fact, some early Mormons were so fed-up with the changes that they split-off from Smith. The temple ceremonies have been significantly changed. I haven’t even mentioned plural marriage, blacks and the priesthood or adam-god.
I think Mormons, Utah edition, need to take a look at the Community of Christ and compare and contrast and ask how did the CoC end up being the CoC. See what their views on the BoM are.
I think if I were a Mormon one of the questions I would ask would be, “Why are there so many sects of Mormonism and what conditions have led to this?” I had some e mail correspondence with an official at the Community of Christ sect of Mormonism and asked him about the BoM. He told me that the individual members have the option of seeing it as a spiritual book rather than an historical/spiritual book. This sect goes way back to the time of Smith’s death and had, as its prophet, Joseph Smith’s son. It also claimed Smith’s wife as a member. So they must be the “true” Mormon church, right? It looks like these folks go way back to Nauvoo. They must know something about the original beliefs of the Mormon church.
It seems that Mormonism has been pretty much a religious free-for-all. So it’s not that surprising that we have an evolution of thought regarding the BoM.
We saw this with one of our dear departed Mormon posters who doesn’t come our way any more. To this Mormon the BoM was a testimony of Jesus Christ. Well duh, I say. This Mormon was sitting on pins and needles waiting for that glorious day when evidence would surface proving the BoM was an actual history of actual events. This poor soul is turning blue waiting to exhale upon reception of this news. It won’t come.
Time for a new revelation!
I’m guessing this next generation of young Mormons aren’t going to want the religion to remain in it’s current form. For those who want to be Christians, they’ll find their way to a faith based church.
Spiritual food. God’s Word is described as our spiritual food, Matt.4:4; John 6:32-35 .
Just as many people today seek to become healthy by baking their own bread without
man-made ingredients , so to we are counseled in the New Testament to avoid the
man-made additives that false prophets seek to feed people as spiritual food. The gospel
truths, the healthy spiritual food that Jesus sent His apostles with to feed mankind after
He had risen from the dead , is more than enough spiritual nourishment to safely enable
a person to get to heaven and live with God . These saving truths are even mentioned in the
Book of Mormon : One true God- Moroni 8:18; Mosiah 3:8 ; Jesus is Savior – Hel.14:15 ;
Jesus rose from the dead – 2Nephi 9:11-12 ; salvation thru Christ alone – 2 Nephi 31:19 .
This makes the Book of Mormon another witness of these vital truths . Unfortunately ,
certain “modern day ” prophets [ Matt 24:11] not content with believing Jesus gave to His
apostles enough truth to enable a person today to embrace in order to receive eternal life ,
these prophets have attempted to add more saving truths , more “requirements” for eternal
life . Instead of embracing the clear saving truths in the New Testament , these men serve up
their own ideas as spiritual food from God . Not content on the nourishment that Jesus
originally provided , these prophets have sought to enhance His recipe for eternal life by
mixing in their own additives , thus rendering the N.T. [ and Book of Mormon] as not
nourishing enough to make a person healthy enough to get to receive eternal life.
When I read these excerpts from the BoM it all sounds pretty amateurish to me. Joseph Smith had a good working knowledge of the Bible so he was able to make his tome sound like scripture. It’s easy to spot a phoney and the BoM is it. The same ring of phoniness is in the other works of Smith and the pronouncements of the Mormon prophets. It doesn’t ring true. The notes are sour. It’s out of tune.
Smith, according to his family was a good story teller and could keep them entertained for hours with his rambling fantasies.
I really don’t know how Mormons can’t help but see through the whole charade. But in order to spot a fake you have to know the authentic. This is the blind spot that Mormons have. They don’t know the real Jesus. They have a distorted view of the Word of God.
Falcon, I think that we don’t need to be confused as to how the BM contains doctrines
that the Bible does. When it comes to the BM being a “second witness ” to the Bible on
some important spiritual truths this is correct , it is such a witness. So is the Koran . It
describes Jesus as sinless, as a true prophet , etc , to name a few truths it shares with the
Bible. So what does this all mean to us ? I think the following principle sums it up for me :
There is a distinction between truths contained IN the Book of Mormon, and the truth
or authenticity OF the Book of Mormon .
There’s a reason why the Book of Mormon is placed in Motels rooms in the West especially ,
rather than the D&C , or some Mormon doctrinal books etc . As I said earlier, I personally
don’t see a need for the Book of Mormon , it certainly does’nt help me live a more moral
lifestyle than the Bible , and considering how Mormon leadership has issued additional
“requirements” to gain eternal life above and beyond those in the Book of Mormon, I politely
dismiss it from being an authority in my life. I think that the gospel that Jesus sent His apostles
out into the world with as described in the New Testament , does’nt need to be supplemented by
the “saving truths ” as revealed by the modern-day prophets of the Mormon church.
falcon, I couldn’t agree more. I remember hearing how there’s “no way the BoM is false, no one with a poor education could ever write something like that!” Honestly? It sounds like a 4th grader wrote it. Like Twain said, “The book seems to be merely a prosey detail of imaginary history with the Old Testament for a model followed by a tedious plegiarism of the New Testament. The author labored to give his words and phrases the quaint old fashioned sound and structure of our King James translation of the scriptures. Whenever he found his speech growing too modern, which was about every sentence or two, he ladeled in a few such scriptural phrases as, “exceeding sore,” “and it came to pass,” etc. and made things satisfactory again. “And it came to pass,” was his pet. If he had left that out, his bible would have been only a pamphlet.” (from Roughing It) 🙂
From the LDS official explanation of why the BoM is central to their history and theology:
“We can expect increased attacks upon Joseph Smith as a prophet and upon the Book of Mormon. Satan will attack us at the core of the Restoration and our belief: the Prophet Joseph Smith and his divine mission. To any fair-minded person, his inspired works are more than adequate to establish him as a great prophet. His mission is a legacy which is enhanced as scholars learn more about the antiquity and roots of what he restored in fulness.” (from lds.org)
Seriously?? If anything, scholars are finding just the opposite! The DNA evidence, the rejection from the Smithsonian, the lack of archeological and historical artifacts… yeah, the scholars are learning about it alright. Learning that none of the stuff in it holds up against any scientific or Biblical scrutiny.
Sorry, I keep forgetting to close my italics. Whoops.
The BoM is a “feel good” book about Jesus. So if it makes a person feel good about Jesus, it must be true, right? Wrong! There is an odd sort of genius about the Moroni challenge when you think about it. It’s not really all that complicated but actually the basis for an effective con. That basis is to make the person feel something. The strong emotion will drive the decision that hooks the mark. It can also be like setting a trap. Effective traps have an attractive bait that gets the prey to ignore the danger and act in a manner that is not in (the prey’s) best interest. The bait in the BoM is the feel good atmosphere which is created relative to Jesus.
Now does the prey, the mark, know that this Jesus portrayed in the BoM is the Jesus revealed in the Bible? When Smith wrote the BoM he very well may have had the Biblical Jesus in mind. In fact I think he probably did. But then there was Smith’s switcheroo as he evolved his religion with the new and improved God the Father, Jesus, Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit. Soon enough he had men becoming gods, men marrying multiple women and Celestial sex.
A person would have to be pretty warped to have any of this make them feel good. However if Mormons are continually taken back to the BoM to get their “feel good fix” (the bait in the trap) they will continue to ignore the danger of the trap.
I remember Sandra Tanner talking about how her and Gerald had uncovered all of the information that led them to the conclusion that Mormonism was indeed false. The last thing they did, and it took a while, was to jettison the BoM.
Yes, I am disagreeing with Paul here. I do have that option and so do you simply because we are both living people with free will and working brains. Thinking that Pauls argument in Romans 1:19-20 fails is problematic if you believe that all of the words that he once wrote are infallible and part of the Gospel, and all of the words recorded in our New Testament Manuscripts accurately reflect what was originally written down. Since I believe neither of those, I have a bit of wiggle room here, so to speak.
More importantly, may have made sense in the days where very few people didn’t believe in God/gods and those who didn’t really explain reality well. Paul could declare that Gods existence was just obvious and everybody he was writing to could believe him.
Today, there are almost a billion Atheist + Agnostic, and their attempts to explain the world naturalistically have advanced considerably. If the existence of God where obvious to somebody, then they would believe it. So the fact that a significant part of the world population do not shows that it is not obvious to them. So when Paul declares that it is obvious to everybody, I just don’t see how I can take him seriously. Perhaps we can get out of saying he made a false statement by pointing out it could reasonably have been true as of the time he said it, but it is certainly not obvious to everybody today.
Mick, Like I said to you in a private email, Just because millions of people believe something does not make it true. Like I said, Millions if not billions believed Noah was a kook, possible even his own kids thought so as well, yet the masses were wrong and died as a result. Just because the majority believes something does not make it true. Like the Bible says, people love darkness rather than light.
” Just because millions of people believe something does not make it true.”
Of course not, i wasn’t trying t suggest that because of the population of atheists in the world we should beleive God does not exist. That would be a huge non-sequiter. What I am saying is that when a large number of people beleive not-X, one cannot claim that X is obviously true to them, which is why I cannot take Paul seriously here, although can see why he said it in his day and age.
Hope you’re having a good day. Same to the rest of you here. Just wanted to clarify a few things:
Mick said, “That’s worse than trying to beleive when he Paul insists that everyone just magically knows God exists, even though there are hundreds of millions of self professed atheists around today.’”and in reference to Rom 1:19-20, “Yes, I am disagreeing with Paul here.”
First, 20 says “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse;…” This is actually part of a historical narrative as seen by 21 “when they knew God” and 24 & 26 God “gave them up” because they acted from their denial of God (21). Paul explains that they went from a knowledge of God, and from a refusal of Him to all kinds of darkness that affected their minds eventually leading to a culture like that of the Romans. So it would seem that Paul is specifically talking about an original group that knew God existed.
Now we can use verse 20 in our time and say that the existence and nature of creation tesifies of the existence and nature of God, but no where does Paul say that everyone everywhere has always known that there is a God, simply that the evidence of a God’s existence and power has always been on display for humans to accept and seek further or reject.
Far from “magical” it’s quite fair and logical -that the creator can be seen in the creation, and that we can refuse to see such if we do so will. Not that it’s “obvious” and unavoidable but that it’s available for free choosing.
Oh and Mick said “If the existence of God where obvious to somebody, then they would believe it.”;
remember, just because you know God exists doesn’t mean you accept Him as God, “…even the demons believe…” (James, I think)
Also this assumes a certain amount of intellectual and self-honesty on the part of atheists. Agnostics may be honest in that they don’t know either way, but are a little too certain if they are hard agnostics and “know that they can’t know”(self-defeating claim and impractical- would have to know everything about everything but God or everything about God in order to say you can’t know). Atheists may be honest in that they are without belief, but a little too certain if they are hard atheists and “know that there isn’t a God” (can’t know a negative-since you would need to know everything to know the absence of something) If you are a theist then, to be consistant, you would have to believe that athiests and agnostics of the hard type are over-confidently mistaken or self-deluding, either way they are not really looking.
Though, I guess an LDS who believes that knowledge of God only comes only by revelation, that all these statements, including Pauls, are misguided since no one is praying.
It is not true that someone would believe in God if they knew He existed. I have meet many atheists that have flat out said, If they were to run the Ark down a macy’s day parade I still would not believe.
Thanks for the reply. What you have written strikes me as one of the most carefully thought out posts against my position so far. Please understand I have no opposition to this Scripture per say and I would love to be able to beleive what you have written. While you are right when you say this is a historical narrative, I don’t beleive it was talking about just the Romans as you do (If I am reading you correctly). here is why
Romans 1:18-19 NIV
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
Which people is God wrathful against? All those who suppress the truth in their wickedness. Not just one culture or time or place, but all the godlessness and wickedness of people, Which really covers just about everybody who isn’t a follower of Christ. When I read the section it just seems apparent to me that Paul is talking about people everywhere, and its not just me. The NIV authors title that section “God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity”. Just Google that passage and you will see lots of commentators making the same conclusions as me. I am not the odd one out here
“Also this assumes a certain amount of intellectual and self-honesty on the part of atheists. ”
Yes, I am. I know enough of them to know that hey are not lying to me- they really don’t think God exists. Its not that God has made it plain to them that he exists and they choose to reject him, its that they really genuinely see no more reason for God to exist than the Tooth fairy.