“Atheist Piety: A Religion of Dogmatic Dubiety”

“Atheist Piety: A Religion of Dogmatic Dubiety” December 28, 2018


Egypt's largest city, at night
Cairo: Egypt’s capital, the largest city in Africa, and our first married home
(Wikimedia Commons public domain)


The 23 December 2018 installment of the Interpreter Radio Show is now archived on the Interpreter Foundation website for your listening convenience.  Steve Densley, Craig Foster, Matt Bowen and Don Bradley joined together for discussion of such topics as the history of Joseph Smith and the advent of Christ:






In the first issue of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, which appeared in 2012, Professor Louis C. Midgley published an article entitled “Atheist Piety: A Religion of Dogmatic Dubiety.”  Some of you who missed it then might find it of interest:


Abstract: The “Special Feature” of this mass-market secular humanist magazine consists of an introduction to “America’s Peculiar Piety” followed by a miscellany of brief, nonscholarly essays critical of The Church of Jesus Christ. The questions posed in the introduction to this flagship atheist magazine go unaddressed in the essays. Some of the essays are personal exit stories by former Latter-day Saints. One is an effort by Robert M. Price to explain away the Book of Mormon without confronting its contents. This is done by ignoring the details of Joseph Smith’s career in order to picture him as the equivalent of a bizarre, emotionally conflicted figure like Charles Manson or as the embodiment of one of a wide range of mythical trickster figures like Brer Rabbit, Felix the Cat, or Doctor Who. The assumed link between these mythical or legendary figures and Joseph Smith is said to be a Jungian archetype lodged in his presumably deranged psyche, leading him to fashion the Book of Mormon.

Another essay merely mentions the well-known criticisms of Joseph Smith by Abner Cole (a.k.a. Obadiah Dogberry), while others complain that the faith of the Saints tends to meet emotional needs or that their religious community has various ways of reinforcing their own moral demands. In no instance do these authors see their own deeply held ideology as serving similar personal and community-sustaining religious functions.

All of the essays reflect a fashionable, dogmatic, naive, and deeply religious enmity toward the faith of Latter-day Saints. The essays are also shown to be instances of a modern [Page 112]militant atheism, which is contrasted with earlier and much less bold and aggressive doubts about divine things. The ideological links between those responsible for Free Inquiry and some critics on the fringes of the LDS community are also clearly identified.

Review of Tom Flynn et al. “America’s Peculiar Piety: Why Did Mormonism Grow? Why Does It Endure?” Free Inquiry, October/November 2011, 21–41.


Posted from Cairo, Egypt



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