Misunderestimating Mormonism

This is one of those times where one probably ought to announce one’s biases up front so as to avoid any misunderstanding: I do not believe Mormonism to be metaphysically true because I accept a different and competing set of metaphysical truths.

While I cannot claim to have given the Latter-Day religion every possible consideration, I have a) had Mormon missionaries over to my house for several weeks running; b) read parts of the Book of Mormon; c) read articles and books on Mormonism by Mormon and non-Mormon experts; and d) visited a Mormon house of worship.

That means Mormon proselytizers are probably wasting their time. It also means that I find lazy anti-Mormon caricatures incredibly irksome.

To wit, reader Ken Dahl writes in comments, “The Mormon god has willingly allowed 99.99% of humanity to pass through life without knowing the principals of salvation as put forward by the LDS church in Salt Lake City. One must wonder about this marvelous ‘plan of salvation’ espoused by Mormonism — living a principled life on earth as the Mormon god intended. It isn’t a plan at all. It’s an epic failure in concept and execution. Further evidence that their ‘loving’ god doesn’t exist.”

This comment evinces an utter failure to understand Mormonism on its own terms. Let us count out a few of the ways:

1) Mormons do believe in hell but it’s pretty damned hard to get there. So the Latter-Day “plan of salvation” has not consigned “99.99% of humanity” to eternal torment in outer darkness.

2) Mormons believe in different levels of heaven or “degrees of glory,” designated as the Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial Kingdoms.

3) They also believe in a post-mortal existence in the “spirit world” before we’re sorted into those kingdoms.

4) Mormons believe that the highest heaven, the Celestial Kingdom, is reserved to believing Mormons in this world or in our post-mortal existence.

5) They believe that their actions in this world affect the spirit world, in two ways. First, their proselytizing efforts send people into the spirit world as believing Mormons likely to migrate up thereafter.

6) Second, Mormons believe that their religious rituals in this world affect what goes on in that spirit world. Thus the baptisms, by proxy, for the dead.

7) You know what, let me just include a handy chart here from Wikipedia to help y’all out:

Mormon heavens

Indeed, you can get almost all of the above on the Mormon hereafter from the content of the Wikipedia article on the subject. If you accept the premises of Mormonism, this is a credible “plan of salvation” for at least a pretty good chunk of humanity, and not an awful fate for the rest of us. If a good plan is evidence of a good planner then a certain reader might want to rethink the existence of a certain deity.

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