The shelf.

For those who enjoyed the previous post on the ten reasons Runtu can’t be a Mormon anymore (see here), I’ve found another great post from him that I’ve entitled “The Shelf.

The “shelf” is where Mormons who can’t help but notice the huge errors of Mormonism are told to put their “questions.” They are instructed to shelve it away until one day the Mormon god reveals it to them.

Runtu published a great post on this “shelf” that I wanted to share with you (and the comments left on the original post are worth reading too). He originally entitled his piece Why I don’t envy Mormon apologists:

When I was an “apologist” (read: rationalizer) for Mormonism, I used to talk about the “shelf.” You know, there were things that we couldn’t quite explain, so we put them on a shelf, figuring that eventually God would sort it all out, and we’d see how everything fit together.

Somewhere along the line, the shelf collapsed, and I’m happy to say I don’t have a shelf anymore. Once you acknowledge that Mormonism is not what it claims to be, there is nothing about the religion and its claims that is so difficult to explain that it must go on the shelf until God explains it. But for the apologists, [expletive deleted], what a shelf. To believe in Mormonism you have to believe that:

  • A young guy who made his living by finding buried treasure (of course, he never found any) by putting a special rock in a hat could miraculously translate ancient records using the same rock and the same hat.
  • Ancient golden plates really did exist, although only members of the young man’s immediate family and close friends ever said they saw them, and the plates weren’t actually used in the “translation” process.
  • This same young man was persecuted for saying he had seen God the Father and Jesus, whereas no one, not even his family, noted his First Vision, and when “persecution” came, it was for the aforementioned rock in hat thing.
  • The record he translated speaks of large numbers of pre-Christian Christians who lived in the Americas, writing in Hebrew and a form of Egyptian, building Jewish temples, making steel swords and metal chains, and riding horses–they did all of this and yet left no trace whatsoever of their culture.
  • This record parallels almost exactly early nineteenth-century beliefs about the Mound Builders (a white, possibly Hebraic Christian, race that was destroyed by the evil Indians) in its descriptions of warfare, religion, culture, and technology, yet these parallels are merely coincidental.
  • The young man was commanded by an angel with a drawn sword to take teenagers and married women as his polygamous wives, but he was extremely careful not to tell his lawful wife, Emma, (or the public, for that matter) about these “marriages.”
  • He translated the Book of Abraham from papyrus scrolls that not only have nothing to do with Abraham but are from the wrong time period. But that’s OK, because, despite the direct translations of three of the illustrations, we are told that the real scrolls are missing.
  • The young man, after founding a religion, never worked again, except to run his church, yet lived off the largesse of his followers and a lot of debt. But, we are told that he got no gain from his employment as prophet.
  • This man incorrectly translated a Greek psaltery and some bogus brass plates, yet we are to believe that he really could translate ancient languages through his rock in the hat.

There’s a lot more, but just these few things seem so patently obvious that I am glad I don’t have make excuses for them anymore. What did you have on your shelf?

Again, thanks for your candor, Runtu.

– Pilgrim

12 thoughts on “The shelf.

  1. American archeology and the provenance of the book of Abraham are all fair game, but ridicule is neither good defending nor contending. Repeating “rock in the hat” over and over for its comedic value gets us nowhere, and plays the same game that Hitchens and Maher play against all forms of Christianity, orthodox or not. It doesn’t prove or disprove anything. I recognize you are merely quoting, but you are doing so as if it’s a good argument.


  2. Dear Vlad:

    Thank you for your comment.

    I don’t feel the author (Runtu) was using the “rock in the hat” as a mockery as much as he was simply stressing his point. I think Runtu made a clear and concise point, a point that not everyone will agree with.

    – The Pilgrim


  3. Problem is, after studying actual recorded history in college, I’ve found that the unlikely happens a lot. With regularity.

    Thus far, all you’ve been able to argue (or Runtu) is that the Mormon story is unlikely.

    Well, so is most of world history. Until it is established. Then we all fall over ourselves to explain why it never could have been otherwise. History itself is one big tall tale that just happened to be true.

    And if you want to talk about putting things on the “shelf”… You act like this is something that Christians don’t do.

    I always think it’s so cute when Christians try to pretend their religious claims are factually verifiable.

    The little dears.

    Also Pilgrim, be careful about getting too cozy with the ex-Mormon crowd.

    More often than not, they aren’t even remotely the allies you think they are.

    My experience is that usually, when a Mormon leaves the LDS faith, it is not so they can sign up for Christianity. Usually, they immediately take all the skills they learned from dissecting Mormonism, and immediately turn them on Jesus.

    Face it, if you can deconstruct Joseph Smith, it’s really not all that hard to make the next logical step and annihilate Jesus in the process.

    These guys aren’t your friends. In fact, more often than not, they hold you in just as much contempt as they hold me. It fairly unusual for a Mormon to reject his faith and run with open arms to the Evangelical movement. They’ve already uncovered one “fairy tale” and now that is exactly how they are going to view the Bible. Another “fairy tale” waiting to be discovered.


  4. I believe in objective truth. But I do not believe that God has allowed you grounds for believing in the Bible independent of faith.

    This whole effort to “prove” the Bible (or Book of Mormon) by objective data that all will be forced to accept is nothing more than an intellectual and theological Tower of Babel.


  5. How do you know what grounds God has and has not allowed? Do you arrive at that through faith or your objective search for truth? If it’s by the former, than that’s YOUR faith, and it isn’t binding on anything. If you believe you have arrived at that objectively, then the issue can be discussed just so.

    Don’t get too carried away. Hardly anything can be “proved,” but the Bible does claim to present objective data. It is therefore open to intellectual investigation, whether for or against.


  6. The Bible’s faith claims are not “objective data” and are utterly unverifiable.

    Even if you proved that Jesus rose from the dead – which you cannot – that still would not prove he’s a God we ought to worship. What of the Pharisee’s accusation that he performed his miracles by the power of the devil?

    But as it so happens, none of the miracles in the Bible are objectively verifiable – despite the best efforts of 2000 years of scholarship. The most you guys have been able to prove is that some guy named “Jesus” wandered the Palestinian countryside, made some people mad, and was executed. The End.

    Sorry, but that hardly qualifies as “proving” Christianity.

    Really, the faith claims of the Bible are every bit as incredible, and every bit as unverifiable as those of the Book of Mormon.


  7. Seth,

    I disagree with your assertion that we cannot prove any of the claims of Christianity. There are many great books out that show your claim to be utterly false… The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel is a great one. However, just for the sake of arguement let’s say Christians can’t PROVE any of the calims of christianity.

    Given that, all you are really saying is that “well, since you can’t prove anything with Christianity you have no room to talk about us mormons not being able to ‘prove’ mormonism”.

    That is an incredibly weak agrument. The problem you have with that is not that mormons can’t PROVE mormonism is true. It is the fact that a large number of LDS claims have been PROVEN to be either misleading, half-truthful or just flat out lies.



  8. Greetings Seth,

    You actually believe that Jesus was merely a man that wandered the countryside and died for making the Pharisees mad? I know that you are making a point that Jesus and his works can’t be proven, according to you. However, your point is weak. Let me inject that the average LDS and the Jehovah Witness both say there is no proof that he was God? Seth your argument {point} is weak my friend. Unlike the BOM there is proof absolute. You failed to mention or realize that the entire collective group of his Apostles’ together witnessed his return and appearance (in the upper-room). Also, he was addressed as Lord and God at this time. Please read John 20 25-28. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
    26. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
    27. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
    28. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

    Remember, after his departure to be with the Father, if he wasn’t all that he claimed, then why would the Apostles remain steadfast even to face the pain of a meaningless death? Either the Holy Bible is objective or all of the Apostles too were false and itching to die in vain

    One last point, just about 7 years, I recall that the LDS Church used and incorporating the KJV Bible within their television advertisements???? Hmmmmif not “objective” in content, then certainly “hypocritical” in use.

    Jesus is Lord


  9. I just noticed this, for some reason. When I saw the “expletive deleted,” I had to look up the original because I don’t usually use expletives. So, I was relieved to see that I hadn’t in this case, either (well, I guess some people consider that an expletive).

    As for the notion that I was ridiculing Joseph Smith, that’s just silly. Everything I said is true and verifiable. Does it prove that Mormonism is not true? No, of course not. However, it is information that really cannot be explained away, at least it was for me, so it constituted a lot of the stuff on my “shelf.” And for those who think I believe that Christian truth claims are “factually verifiable,” no, I don’t, and I said nothing to suggest that. So, if you’re going to be snotty about “the little dears,” at least try to represent what we say accurately.

    My point is simply this: belief in Mormonism requires a big shelf; not believing in it doesn’t. I’m happier without the shelf.


  10. Dear Runtu:

    Thank you for your comment.

    Lest readers think the accusation that you were ridiculing Joseph Smith was something the original poster said, I can unequivocally declare that I made no such statement nor do I believe you were ridiculing him. The charge of “ridicule” came from the first commenter, Vlad, in his attempt at defending Mormonism. I too am not a stranger to being charged with “ridiculing Joseph Smith” any time a serious inquiry is made into his history and his character. It’s an oft-used tactic when Smith defenders can’t provide a substantive argument.

    Furthermore, I also did not claim that you have converted to Christianity. I was merely re-posting your original post because I liked it.

    I just wanted to clear up any confusion that readers may have gotten from your comment.

    Thanks again for stopping by.


  11. No, I didn’t think you were accusing me of anything. I just felt I should respond to some of the comments, which were unfair and a little snotty, honestly.

    And yes, I believe in Christ, but I do not believe that Christian truth claims are “factually verifiable.” How is one supposed to verify the resurrection or Jesus’ taking on the sins of all humanity?


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