How the LDS Church Prepares Its Members for Atheism (Part 2)

[The following is the second of a five-part essay offered by Mormon Coffee guest contributor Joshua Valentine (aka spartacus).]

While it does not mirror the atheist worldview as the previous points, the LDS epistemology sets its members up to turn against faith and thus embrace atheistic rationalism.  While Mormonism is not strictly speaking a fideistic religion, it relies heavily upon some principles of fideism.  For members of the LDS Church, ultimate truth is not discovered, recognized, or even approached by study, evidence, logic, or history.  Moroni10PrayerThese are only an optional means ultimately to lead a person to pray about the Book of Mormon and the current LDS prophet to learn that the LDS Church is true.  Once this testimony is gained by prayer, it is regarded as transcendent or invulnerable to any and all evidence against the object of faith – the LDS Church and its gospel.  LDS religious epistemology is fideistic in that this prayer-testimony experience, like faith received in fideism, is independent of the world as it actually is.  Investigation into the facts is not required to learn Ultimate Truth; it is not encouraged and may even be discouraged.  Once the testimony is received it is independent of evidence and argument; all other concerns and issues are viewed as irrelevant.

It usually takes a lot of time, study, and heartache before all that is left between the member and the exit is that prayer experience.  Every ex-member, before they leave the LDS Church, has to reevaluate their testimony and its origin.  When the evidence makes it impossible for the member to have faith in that prayer experience, members come to realize that the LDS epistemology of prayer for ultimate truth is woefully insufficient.  Ex-members conclude that staking their whole life and the lives of their loved ones on blind faith in a prayer experience is unreliable, irresponsible, and dangerous.

By poor reasoning (e.g.- Wouldn’t God answer a sincere prayer?) the ex-member made the poor decision to join the religion.  By better reasoning, they leave it.  Unfortunately, faith and this prayer experience are so strongly tied together by LDS teaching that when the prayer-testimony experience is found wanting and dangerous, so too is faith in general.  The improved reasoning that led to leaving the church may only evaluate faith based on a limited form of it as propagated by the LDS Church.  When they realize the LDS Church is false, they blame their dependence on that experience which, by the teachings of their church, was precipitated by an initial faithful act and was the foundation of their continued faith.  Because the idea of faith taught by their church is so simplistic they don’t even realize that they were “duped” by a bad version of faith, but, instead, believe that faith itself betrayed them.  The undiscerning faith espoused by their church that led to accepting the prayer experience as truth, is found to be gullible, and, if not reevaluated, all faith is judged as gullible.  Shunning all faith, the ex-LDS member is left only with atheistic rationalism.

Mormonism also shuns all mystery.  If a religious truth is mysterious, it is because of the ignorance of man.  If it is confusing, it is because it is of Satan.  Mormonism assumes that truth is simple and understandable to the mind of man.  If it is not understandable to the human mind, it is not true.  LDS show these assumptions in the way they discuss topics that most people realize will be difficult to understand, like the nature of God.

When Mormons are presented with an issue in their doctrine by critics, no matter the issue and its improbability, Mormons are often quick to claim that the doctrine of the Trinity is more confusing.  Mormons also latch onto the word “incomprehensible” when it is used by Christians to describe God.  Christians are simply admitting that God’s nature transcends complete understanding by the human mind.  But Mormons argue that this is proof that the Christian teaching of God is false, as if all truth about God should be well within the human mind’s powers of comprehension. They believe that God as a glorified man is easier to understand than that God is three persons in one being.  They believe that Jesus is obviously a separate being from God from the fact that he prayed to the Father.  Any explanation that hints at complexity or mystery is immediately written off as false.

This shunning of transcendent mystery and insistence that the world make sense to the human mind is mirrored in atheistic scientism. If it is beyond reason or cannot be tested scientifically, then it cannot be known, or considered true or real.

While there is no reason to believe that all spiritual experiences of all Mormons are inauthentic or are insignificant, much of what is described as “feeling the Spirit” indicates a shallow experience of emotion mistaken as spiritual revelation. When church talks, church-produced videos, or even secular movies are described as experiences of “feeling the Spirit,” or criticized as “didn’t feel the Spirit,” it becomes difficult to see how these spiritual experiences differ from any other manufactured emotional event.  Many former members have come to the conclusion that these experiences were only that.

Much like the reevaluation of their acceptance of faith based on what was taught by the LDS Church, members who leave also reevaluate these experiences of “feeling the Spirit.” And as many throw out faith altogether, so too is all spiritual experience disregarded as only emotional experiences brought about by natural environmental stimulus, psychological states, and manipulation. Because the LDS Church and its culture teaches spiritual experience as being so mundane and so often related to performances that include dramatic techniques, they are easily dismissed and, as with faith, all spiritual experience is discarded because what they experienced as a member is determined to have been inauthentic.

How the LDS Church Prepares Its Members for Atheism (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5)

This entry was posted in LDS Church, Mormon Culture, Truth, Honesty, Prayer, and Inquiry and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to How the LDS Church Prepares Its Members for Atheism (Part 2)

  1. falcon says:

    noun: fideism
    the doctrine that knowledge depends on faith or revelation.
    late 19th century: from Latin fides ‘faith’ + -ism.

    I think the danger, for folks who depend on feelings for truth and revelation, is that it’s so easy to get fooled. Religious con artists prey on the vulnerable and often on those who wouldn’t appear to be vulnerable, to suggestion.
    I’ve been watching some recent videos by a woman who was in Scientology for thirty years. Her warning is that people shouldn’t think they wouldn’t be fooled by groups such as this and be sucked in. Some of these groups are very adept at what is known as “Neuro Linguistic Programming”. It’s a series of techniques that starts with confusing a person or throwing a person off even slightly. I’ve been aware that MM often use that technique. I think they pulled it on me a couple of weeks ago. The two MM didn’t drive up my drive way (I live in the country and my drive way is a little long) they came marching up rather quickly on foot. I happened to spot them and the dogs gave me some warning with their barking. It’s a surprise attack sort of strategy.
    Andy Watson told me about the technique some years ago. It was late at night and he heard someone pulling on his security door. Andy grabs his Glock to welcome what he thought was an intruder. Turns out to be a couple of Mormon missionary boys who he had met previously. They got a stern lecture from Andy.
    So what’s my point? The point is that all sorts of subtle psychological techniques can be employed to manipulate people. An ambiance can be created that appears to be “spiritual”. The person thinks they are “feeling the spirit” or receiving a revelation when in reality it’s just the power of suggestion.
    Mormons missionaries are trained to get people to “feel” something and rush them into the baptismal font as soon as they can.
    It’s all a big giant flim flam and I don’t even know if the MM are aware of how bogus it all is. The “pray and read the BoM and receive the burning in the bosom” is the classic scam. Here’s how it works. The prey reads the BoM and nothing happens. He’s questioned as whether or not he prayed. He’s told to pray again. No response. He’s then told he needs to read it sincerely and humbly. He gives it another try. Nothing happens. He’s told to read it again, then again, then again. In-other-words, the only acceptable response is the “burning in the bosom”. If the prey didn’t get it, he’s to blame.
    It’s all a spiritual rip-off.

  2. falcon says:

    There was a Christian mystic by the name of Watchman Nee who wrote about man’s body, soul and spirit. The explanation is to long for this discussion, but the Bible does tell us that we are indeed body, soul and spirit. The bottom line, from what I can remember off of the top of my head, is that the soul has latent power. What happens quite often is that people think something is coming out of their spirit or from the Holy Spirit when in reality it is the soul.
    So we wonder how Mormons, for example, can claim spiritual experiences and even power. According to what Watchman Nee taught, that “power” is coming from the soul. According to him, the goal of many religions of the world is to break through the impediment of the body and access the latent power of the soul. So Satan’s desire is to access the latent power of the soul through people.
    This may be getting a little “out there” :), but it does provide an explanation for what we see in psychic phenomenon and various religions and cults. A Christian is born again by the Spirit of God and has no use for the latent power of the soul. If someone isn’t born again by the Spirit of God, they do not belong to Him therefore they cannot access the power of the Holy Spirit. There’s only one place for those who aren’t born again to go for spiritual power and that is the soul.

  3. falcon says:

    It’s distressing to me that religious folks hop on the bandwagon of “spiritual” experience without doing a little “testing of the spirits” as the Bible recommends. LDS folks will argue up-and-down that their spiritual experiences are the real deal because they could “feel” it. There is no chance, in their minds, that what might be happening is an emotional reaction to an implanted thought.
    One of the goals, if not the goal of Cognitive Rational Therapy, is to get people to change their emotions by changing what they think about. Pretty revolutionary stuff, right? So if religious people are fed a constant diet of mood provoking thoughts, they’re going to think that what they are feeling is reality.
    I’ve discussed on past threads how when I visit LDS historic sites, the obvious goal of the volunteers is to provoke emotions. What’s interesting is that quite often the tour guides are cute young college age girls, some from foreign countries, who with their sincere facial expressions and doe eyed looks almost plead for an emotional response to their presentation. Now no one is going to give these girls a hard time or challenge them as they emote all over the place.
    My goal is to ask them a question in a very non-confrontational manner that might just bump them off their game a little. The hope is that long range, maybe my question will come floating through their minds again as God’s Spirit prompts them.

  4. Mike R says:

    You provide a lot to ponder about , hopefully any LDS reading your posts will see how they have been lured through trusting in emotions /feelings into joining a latter day imitation of Jesus’ church and gospel and return to the authentic faith –Jude 3 .
    You said , ” By poor reasoning ( e.g. would’nt God answer a sincere prayer ?) the ex member made the poor decision to join the religion . ”

    That’s a good point . To think God should answer any prayer we send to Him because we are really sincere is simply not the picture we see unfold in the scriptures about this . But it’s easy for someone to pull one verse out of context in order to convince us to trust his/her message by praying about it
    and waiting for a feeling . A false prophet would love to convince sincere people that is the way to validate his ” revelations ” , as a way to trust him and submit to his authority over them .
    The apostle John advocated the main way to test any new prophet — 1 Jn 4:1 . That criteria is still very much relevant today .

  5. falcon says:

    Christianity has had its share of con artists, flim-flam men and hucksters. Do any of you remember Todd Bentley from a couple of summers ago.

    From the article “False Apostles and the Case of Todd Bentley”

    “The self-professing modern apostles of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) would have you believe they have the most direct line of communication with God. But their faulty track record—even on matters of simple biblical discernment—gives you good reason to wonder if they’re perpetually dialing the wrong number.”

    “Perhaps the most vivid example of the NAR’s frightening lack of discernment was their handling of notorious heretic Todd Bentley. Instead of warning people about the danger Bentley presented, the apostolic elite decided to affirm and anoint him as one of their own. Far from identifying the good reasons for caution and concern about his teaching, the leading modern apostles went out of their way to place their stamp of approval on this obvious charlatan.”

    “Bentley, a Canadian evangelist, rose to worldwide prominence in 2008 during a series of “revival” meetings in Lakeland, Florida. Originally scheduled to speak for just a few days, Bentley wound up staying for several months, claiming that a new outpouring of the Spirit was taking place.”

    “Bentley frequently told hyperviolent stories about his own manifestations of the Spirit. Smashed tables and doors were common results of his charismatic experiences. One particularly violent episode occurred soon after his conversion. In a testimony you can listen to here, he claims that after he was saved, it was revealed that he was also possessed by demons—twenty-five to be exact.”

  6. falcon says:

    “It was not unusual for Bentley to share in the credit for the miracles claimed during the Lakeland revival. However, there was not a single documented miracle from the Lakeland revival. The conservative Christian publication World magazine asked Bentley’s ministry team for a list of names of those who had been healed. After a long wait and much persistence, World eventually received a list of twelve names, and subsequently found that many of those people had died from the ailments they were supposedly cured of. A further investigation by ABC Nightline reported that “not a single [medical] miracle could be verified.”

    “In spite of those and countless other warning signs, the Lakeland revival was widely celebrated as a legitimate movement of the Holy Spirit. Even cautious charismatics and continuationists took a “wait and see” approach to Bentley and his antics. Prominent Reformed charismatic Adrian Warnock invoked Acts 5:33-39 when he wrote of Bentley, “I am taking the Gamaliel approach, at least for now.” That kind of sinful attitude—one which encourages Christians not to exercise biblical discernment—permeates evangelicalism and saturates the charismatic movement.”

    The entire article can be accessed here:

  7. MistakenTestimony says:

    After reading the first one in this series I was sure that the second one would not be able to top it. But you did it. This is brilliant stuff here. I feel like a complete neophyte reading this, as if I were hearing this for the first time. Not to put you on a pedestal or to put down anyone else, I just wanted to compliment you on this.

  8. MistakenTestimony says:

    Not that I agree with everything you have ever said here (or anyone else for that matter, and I’m sure the feeling is mutual), but as far as your analysis of what you are talking about now is spot on. I mean in your first post of the series you started with the three typical approaches that have been used to explain why Mormons turn to atheism after their shelf collapses, each of which I could speak on and add input to, but then you turn a completely different direction and systematically go down that road for a five part series. After contemplating what you’re saying this seems that all along Mormonism has been a calculated scheme by the enemy to destroy the true faith by destroying an intentionally self-destructive time bomb of false faith—a religion of naturalism designed to self-destruct into naturalism and at the same time confuse the truth of what faith means for both Christians and non-believers alike.

  9. falcon says:

    It all goes back to Joseph Smith. The dude was a totally religious loose cannon. He could convince people and get them to sign on to his tall tale. The environment was ripe for a Joseph Smith as it was of others of this era less famous than Smith. I contend that at the end of his life Smith was out of control and on a self-destructive spree. He would have eventually destroyed himself.
    The fascinating thing is that today, after all of these years, there are people who still are mesmerized by Smith. Most of them don’t really know the real Smith including his polygamy, the marrying of young girls and women married to other men. Those who do know it make excuses for the behavior. I heard one woman say that all these other women including those married to other men were given to Smith in the pre-existence. Can you imagine wanting to believe something that bad?
    But the basis of a relationship is trust and the LDS church has blown it on that front. As far as revelation goes, the individual LDS members can use it to come up with a reason to keep believing.

  10. Mike R says:

    Yes indeed , to many t.v. preachers have been quite the side show for way to long . It probably won’t change any time soon unfortunately — to much money still to be fleeced from their followers .

  11. falcon says:

    So how can someone determine how a “revelation” that makes them feel emotionally good is real or a counterfeit? Actually it’s not all that difficult; compare it to the standard revelation. Joseph Smith pulled a fast one because he was able to convince those who hopped on board his train that the standard revelation was wrong. Not only was it wrong but God told him, he reported, that it was an abomination.
    Once someone accepted that premise, Smith was free to “reveal” whatever he wanted. The real genius of this move was what he termed “continuous revelation”. “Continuous” came to mean in Mormon speak, changeable. So the prophet could do a 180 and it wouldn’t be questioned. Although a some brave souls did question Smith’s revolving revelations. Early on he was challenged when he changed the Book of Commandments to the Doctrines and Covenants. Many were not pleased because they saw it as a power grab by Smith. It did not make them feel good.

    “……..David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, made this statement:

    Some of the revelations as they now appear in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants have been changed and added to changed and added to. Some of the changes being the greatest importance as the meaning is entirely changed on some very important matters; as if the Lord had changed his mind a few years after he gave the revelations, and after having commanded his servants (as they claim) to print them in the “Book of Commandments;” and after giving his servants a revelation, being a preface unto His Book of Commandments, which says: “Behold this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the Book of my Commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, oh inhabitants of the earth.” Also in this preface, “Behold I am God, and have spoken it; These commandments are of me.” “Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful.” The revelations were printed in the Book of Commandments correctly! This I know, and I will prove it to you.”

    All this proves that if a “prophet” wants to change what had previously been revealed, in Mormon-land that’s acceptable, at least to the truly indoctrinated. Are current LDS members even aware of the changing “revelations” of their religion?

  12. falcon says:

    So Joseph Smith then declared his work done, gave up his magic rock and proclaimed that he would now preach the gospel only. Consider the following, obtained from the above source:

    David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, gives us this interesting information:

    After the translation of the Book of Mormon was finished, early in the spring of 1830, before April 6th, Joseph gave the stone to Oliver Cowdery and told me as well as the rest that he was through with it, and he did not use the stone any more. He said he was through the work that God had given him the gift to perform, except to preach the gospel. He told us that we would all have to depend on the Holy Ghost hereafter to be guided into truth and obtain the will of the Lord. (An Address To All Believers In Christ, Richmond, Missouri, 1887, page 32)

    The fact that Joseph Smith was not planning on doing any other work besides the Book of Mormon is well verified by the revelation given in March of 1829. This revelation was printed in the Book of Commandments as chapter 4. Verse 2 reads as follows:

    …and he has a gift to translate the book, and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift.

    By the year 1835, when this revelation was reprinted in the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith had pretended to at least one other gift besides that of translating the Book of Mormon, he had pretended to the gift of rewording the Bible (Inspired Version), and a short time after this he brought forth the Book of Abraham. Certainly this revelation commanding Joseph Smith to pretend to no other gift but to translate the Book of Mormon could not remain in its original uncensored form. This change in church policy necessitated a change in the revelation. The Mormon Church had decided to go beyond the Book of Mormon and accept Joseph Smith’s other writings as scripture. Therefore, this revelation was changed to read as follows:

    And you have a gift to translate the plates; and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you; and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift, until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished. (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 5, verse 4)

    End of excerpt.

    So wait a minute. Joseph Smith changed his mind it seems. He had more things that he had to translate and others needed to be straightened out. Only hard core Smith believers/followers can ignore this. It’s typical false prophet manner of operation.
    Regardless of how something makes someone feel, that’s not the determining factor for truth.

  13. Mike R says:


    Your take on how Mormon leaders have abused the phrase ” continuing revelation” is a good one .
    The more successful latter days false prophets we meet these days are skilled at manipulating sincere people to follow them , and by establishing emotions/feelings as the barometer to test their new teachings people are easily fooled into believing them and submitting to these prophets alleged authority .

    Mormonism is not the answer . Jn 14:6

  14. falcon says:

    The sad thing I guess, is that there are Mormons who sincerely believe all of the fantastic stories told by Smith and those who were in his inner circle at the beginning. The problem is that the true believers today are believing one thing when reality is quite different.
    Let me offer this as an example:

    First let’s look at the actual testimony of the men known as the Three Witnesses. They are David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris. In the printed statement found in the Book of Mormon, all three of them affirm being shown the plates by an angel, and the LDS church implies that all three men saw the plates with Joseph on the same day. It is portrayed as a physical, tangible, and verifiable event.

    But, what people are not told is that the experience was visionary in nature.

    Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith were third cousins (Oliver Cowdery: The Elusive Second Elder of the Restoration, Phillip R. Legg, p. 17), and Cowdery also shared what must be considered a magical, mystical mindset. D. Michael Quinn in his book, Early Mormonism & the Magic World View, states, “Cowdery’s use of a divining rod, however, does suggest that before 1829, he may have also had at least some knowledge of and experience with as trology and ceremonial folk magic” (p. 35). Brigham Young related a story from the life of Oliver Cowdery in which Cowdery claimed that he and Joseph Smith walked right into the Hill Cumorah with the gold plates of the Book of Mormon and put them back on a table. In this huge cave were piles of gold plates and a sword with writing on it (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 19, p. 38.).

    While this experience with a cave of gold plates sounds more like a vivid dream, it was referred to as the gift of “second sight,” or “seeing with the eyes of understanding.

    End of excerpt (

    “Seeing with the eyes of understanding.” That’s quite a bit different from actually seeing something with your physical eyes. If I imagine I see something. If I get the picture vivid in my mind is it actually “seeing” the thing. But what the LDS church has been selling is that these guys saw things with their physical eyes. It’s not to difficult to get people to see things in their imagination. A good story teller with a willing audience can pull off that trick with little difficulty.

  15. Joshua Valentine says:


    Thank you for the great compliment. I’m glad you are getting a lot out of the article so far.

    I liked your summation: “all along Mormonism has been a calculated scheme by the enemy to destroy the true faith by destroying an intentionally self-destructive time bomb of false faith—a religion of naturalism designed to self-destruct into naturalism and at the same time confuse the truth of what faith means for both Christians and non-believers alike.” As a Christian believer, when all is considered (we have much more to go), it is difficult not to come to that conclusion.


    That is some crazy stuff with Bentley. As you might say, it may be crazy but it happens all too often. And thanks for the citation on Cowdery’s cousin relation with Smith – I’ve been wanting to find that.

  16. falcon says:

    People of faith get fooled. They may be more gullible than the average person because they want to believe. They often trust to quickly and deeply. There have been churches that claim all sorts of spiritual phenomenon. There are a lot of desperate people looking for answers and some just want an emotional buzz. So up steps someone, man or woman, with answers and the ability to manipulate people, and the revelatory experience is produced.
    I’ve been looking at “conversion disorder” for some time wondering if this isn’t what some people are claiming is spiritual manifestations. These are physical reactions like shaking, tics any number of things. It’s really mass hallucinations. It happened to a bunch of high school girls in western New York a couple of years back. Where was Joseph Smith from?
    Video news report:

  17. historybuff says:

    Your reference to conversion disorder and the accompanying link were intriguing. Thank you!
    It should be noted that the concept of a “conversion disorder” has nothing to do with a religious conversion, although the interrelationship between the disorder and various bizarre religious “spiritual manifestations” might be interesting.

    The simplest definition is that psychological stress sometimes “converts” into physiological symptoms like tics, shaking, or convulsions. It’s generally associated with persons who are unable to cope with their lives, and occurs occasionally in teenage girls. Manifestations can spread through a group of stressed people like a highly infectious disease, but that’s believed to be purely a “copy cat” psychological disorder. Here’s a good definition:
    “The sensory and motor manifestations of conversion disorder take many forms and are designated conversion reactions because the underlying anxiety is assumed to have been “converted” into physical symptoms.”

    As you noted, this can account for a number of mass hysteria incidents and so-called neurological epidemics, and may also be applicable to certain religious activities and visions such as those you were describing. It’s not an exclusively Mormon disorder.

  18. falcon says:

    That was my point. There’s a challenge in sorting out what may in fact be a legitimate spiritual experience and reactions that have another source. I’ve mentioned what Watchman Nee had to say about the latent power of the soul. The “revivals” and camp meetings that Joseph Smith certainly attended were known for the physical manifestations such as falling, laughing, barking, twitching and any number of other things. I’ve written about this extensively on this blog in years past.
    If you can get it, read “Temple Manifestations”. It’s all about the wild and wholly world of Mormon temples in the early days. In fact I believe it was Wilford Woodruff who said that the signers of the Declaration of Independence appeared to him demanding that the temple work be done for them. Some Mormons insist that they have seen the spirits of the dead while they were performing the ritual baptism for the dead.
    I mention these things because Mormons are driven by feelings that they say are communications from God. There is a website that’s devoted to Mormon urban legends that tell all sorts of amazing tales. There was a popular Mormon by the name of Paul Dunn who used to be a favorite of Mormon youth at their “firesides” for his ability to tell fabulous stories.

  19. Pingback: Wake Up! | Where Mormon Doctrine Falls Apart

  20. Pingback: How the LDS Church Prepares Its Members for Atheism (Part 1) | Mormon Coffee

Leave a Reply