Failures of Informal Logic: Fallacies of the Faithful

Reading the blog, “From DC to BC A Mormon graduate student’s attempt to harness intellectualism and faith,” and see that, as she addresses the Hans Mattsson affair, on her list, under #1, “There are myriad resources available to understanding the ‘less appealing’ parts of Mormon history.” This sort of excuse or rebuttal is deceptive. There are people in the LDS church who have no idea about the scholarship she lists. (She also lists books that have among them heavy-handed apologetic accounts–she mentions Juanita Brooks, but she also mentions Givens and Bushman, two unofficial mouthpieces for orthodoxy. There are alternative accounts that are much more convincing and detailed about the difficulties of church history.) Primarily, the whole “rebuttal” is false b/c many people have no problems with church history until they start to have doubts. That’s when they go looking for further information and start finding disturbing parts of the puzzle. Essentially, they begin to engage their critical faculties upon the church, and all the LDS church has given them has been white-washed, hagiographic pabulum. To say that there are “many resources” or that she doesn’t “believe that it is the Church’s responsibility to hold our hand and teach us our history. We need to be proactive and study it carefully, as well as prayerfully.”–to say this is to not address the problem: People don’t have a need to go looking or to learn more about the church until they have their doubts, at which point the hour is late, and the only knowledge they have is what the church has given them. When they go and then test this knowledge, it comes up woefully short and inadequate to the demands of a thinking human being looking for thoughtful, truthful, accounts of the church’s doctrines and past.

It’s interesting that basic informal logic gets abused by not just her, but other apologists before her. Blake Ostler makes this very charge against those with doubts who complain that the church betrayed them. He does this in the Mormon Matters (I think) podcast on immunizing the saints.

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