Review: LYING, by Sam Harris

Lying
Lying by Sam Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

LYING is Harris’s latest short-book / long-essay, much in the style of his previous “Letter to a Christian Nation”. I found that he was able to cover nearly all the major aspects to the subject matter while maintaining a very short read, which can be done in a single sitting. I read it entirely in one day’s public transit commute, and it came across much as one of Harris’s longer blog posts.

Due to the short length of the ebook, it did leave me wanting more at the end of each chapter. Though, because of Harris’s concise writing style, I can’t imagine what else there is to say without becoming wordy or redundant. LYING is very well written, something I have come to expect from Harris, and I highly recommend it.

It is my hope that Harris will follow up LYING with another ebook that broadens the scope to include collective misrepresentations, opposed to the individual lies that were addressed in this one.

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My Contribution to Exposing The Mormon Delusion

Zina D. H. Young

Zina D. H. Young

A few weeks ago, while I was reading Jim Whitefield’s The Mormon Delusion Vol 1, I double-checked a claim that the author had made regarding the Church’s official website. On pages 132-3 of TMDv1 (2011 PDF edition), Whitefield had noted that, in 2006, the Church’s biographical sketch of Zina D. H. Young grossly misrepresented history and established facts. After Whitefield had pointed out the ‘error’, the Church deleted the offending sentence – which Whitefield notes in the updated edition (I read the latest 3rd edition).

I wanted to check for myself what the current wording of the biographical sketch was, so I did a quick google search of  Zina Young site:LDS.org. Sure enough, I quickly found the revised bio, just as Whitefield said. However, in the search results, I also found a link to a Relief Society Presidents poster which still contained the original biographical sketch! There I had it, proof that the LDS Church had not only rewritten history to mislead people, but that they had deleted the misrepresentation once it was discovered!

Once I realized that I had clear before-and-after copies of the Church’s official biographical sketch of Zina D. H. Young, I contacted Jim Whitefield to let him know.

Below is Jim Whitefield’s official September 2011 update containing my contribution. Click here for the original source.

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The Family (via The Blissful Heretic)

I recently came across a blog post called “The Family“, by The Blissful Heretic. I thought it was really well written, and successfully illustrates the contradiction that exists with the LDS Church’s marketing strategy of promoting themselves as a ‘family church’, while actively preaching against any and all family types that don’t fit it’s patriarchal, heterosexual, and procreational ideal.

I highly recommend my readers to follow the link below to read her great post. Here’s a sample:

In recent years, the church has been trying to enhance its image as a “family” church. It has always been adamantly opposed to homosexuality and gay marriage, and it has received a lot of press for this since its involvement in Prop 8. Nary a conference goes by without a veiled reference to “the family” being under attack. The current threat is the gay rights movement, but historically the church has also identified feminism and interracial marriage as threats to the family.  READ MORE…

Review: The Mormon Delusion. Volume 1.

The Mormon Delusion. Volume 1.
The Mormon Delusion. Volume 1. by Jim Whitefield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Mormon Delusion, Vol 1: The Truth Behind Polygamy and Secret Polyandry (TMD-1), by Jim Whitefield, is a comprehensive and thoroughly-researched look into the polygamous & polyandrous practices of the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), that lasted nearly 100 years. The author’s ability to present an incredible amount of facts and research into a well-organized, and easy to follow book, is quite an accomplishment. I read the 3rd edition in eBook (PDF) format, released in 2011.

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So, The Missionaries Called…

So, I got a call from the LDS missionaries. Normally, I wouldn’t have picked up the phone, but I had just walked in the door and answered it without looking at the caller ID. For what I initially thought would be a quick, “please don’t call again”, turned into a 15 minute theological discussion. I’m quite impressed that he was so willing to answer my questions, considering that I’m not an ‘investigator’ and am an official apostate. Rather than summarizing, I will attempt to recount the conversation as best I can:

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“Watch Your Step” – A Review

Last month, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posted a Mormon Messages video entitled, “Watch Your Step” – which is a visual story created to illustrate a talk given by Jeffrey R. Holland (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) at the April 2010 General Conference. This video is meant to show “how a moment’s decision can have far-reaching consequences – for good or bad”, by illustrating two outcomes based on a man’s decision to, or not to, look at porn on his computer. This video is a perfect example of the Church’s ignorant and simplistic black and white thinking, and its use of fear and guilt to control its membership.

For those who are not familiar with the talk, it can be found on the LDS website here: ”Place No More For the Enemy of My Soul”.

While the video can be watched right here:

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Understanding Atheism

AtheismI’ve decided to expand on my previous post entitled, “Atheism vs Agnosticism” where I explored the different ways of thinking about atheism. The reason for this is because since writing that post, I’ve further explored what atheism means to others and have done a lot of reading on the subject. Some of the books I’ve read are: God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Letter to a Christian Nation, and An Atheist Manifesto by Sam Harris – all of which I highly recommend. In addition to these books, I’ve come across a wealth of information on various websites and especially YouTube.

As my original post talked about, there are a number of ways to define the terms ‘atheist’ and ‘agnostic’. My exploration of these terms were on a more passive level, that is to say I didn’t apply an active component to the definitions; the words were simply defined as what they mean separate from how they’re used. I’d say that most atheists, like myself, use a strict definition where ‘a-theist’ means, “not theist” (just as ‘atypical’ means “not typical”), and opposed to “a disbelief in a god” (since this would indicate a type of belief itself). I tend to like this definition for its simplicity. However, I’ve noticed that most theists (meaning ‘religious believers’) tend to view the term as having much more intent behind the term, such as “against religion”, “god hater”, or “anarchist” (the last two making absolutely no relevant sense). There are many atheists out there who either don’t subscribe to the label (though fit my definition) or don’t actively oppose religion at all, while others are in active opposition to specific theistic beliefs or all of theism. It’s important to remember that atheism is not an ideology, nor is it a religion unto itself as some people like to think.

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Changing Views on Drinking

One of the defining aspects of Latter-day Saints, is their abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and all kinds of illegal drugs. In this regard, I continue to be the poster-boy for Mormonism. I haven’t had a single alcoholic drink, cigarette, cup of coffee, or illegal drug in my entire life. Only recently, after having distanced myself from the Church, have I started to truly consider my reasons for maintaining this abstinence. For this blog post, I’ll be focusing on alcohol portion of the Word of Wisdom.

Alcoholic drinks were never in the house while I grew up. My world was alcohol-free, and I remember being told on numerous occasions that it was evil and dangerous to drink. My parents would even make the odd derogatory comment whenever we’d see someone drinking on TV. This type of teaching method didn’t work in the way I believe my parents intended, in that I made the correlation that bad people drink, opposed to the drinking itself being what was bad. I had always been warned that I should not be friends with anyone who drinks, and that if I found myself in a situation where alcohol was present, I should leave. Again, strengthening the idea that it’s the people who were bad for drinking, rather than the drink. Only bad people drank alcohol, or so it seemed.

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Review: The God Delusion

The God DelusionThe God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, is aptly named. It illustrates how the concept of a personal god (specifically the Abrahamic god of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) is one of complete fiction, and yet has so many convinced of His existence, despite the mounting evidence that the world is not as described in ancient scripture.

Dawkins’s approach to his arguments against theistic belief in the supernatural is an obvious extension from his career in evolutionary biology. Dawkins is very careful to take the time to define each term that he uses, sorting out the different meanings, so that his specific use of the term is clearly understood. This goes a long way to avoid confusion, especially when talking about the polytheistic, monotheistic, pantheistic, and panentheistic uses of the word ‘god’. Dawkins is also very good at presenting a much more complete picture of commonly misrepresented & quote mined historical figures such as Einstein, the American founding fathers, Hitler, etc., and shows how their uses of the word ‘god’ rarely meets today’s Christian definition.

Dawkins’s ‘The God Delusion’ is a scientific approach, in methodology if not evidentiality, to the arguments against the beliefs in gods, and is much more reserved and soft-spoken than Christopher Hitchen’s rather abrasive book, ‘God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything’. These two books have a stark contrast in their delivery, but share the same sound reasoning and logic. I highly recommend both of them.

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Adolf Hitler & The Plan of Salvation

Today is the 66th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s death, and it got me thinking about how LDS theology views Hitler in its plan of salvation.

We are all well aware of the horrific monstrosities that were perpetrated by Hitler when he became the fascist leader of Nazi Germany during WWII, as well as his role  in the events of the holocaust. To me, such a person as Hitler is beyond redemption or forgiveness. There is no evidence that, if given a chance, he would have changed his ways during his lifetime had he not completed suicide. But what of his next life?

The Plan of Salvation

The Plan of Salvation

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