“If Only 10% of These Charges, Are True, The Church is False” – The Fallacy of Quantity Versus Quality

In one of my first experiences in helping to teach the Gospel out here in Wisconsin, we had a new convert in our home who had been given volumes of anti-Mormon literature by her former pastor. She came in with a stack of books, relying especially upon a thick tome that I think was written by the Tanners. She asked one pointed question after another, all of which had reasonable answers, in my opinion. We dealt with them one at a time, turning to answers from the scriptures, when appropriate, or making points based on logic or other sources of information. After about 40 minutes of this, she grew impatient and said something like, “Look, maybe you’’ve got answers for the questions I’’ve raised, but there are hundreds more arguments in this book. How can the Church be true when there are so many arguments against it?” I said that it’s easy to make arguments against anything. I reminded her of the days of early Christianity when there were numerous false witnesses against Christ, when there were paid witnesses who said that the tomb had been raided by Christians to fake the Resurrection, when all the elite religious leaders of the Jews spoke against Christ, and when the whole Roman world seemed to speak against Christ and the Christians. There were volumes and volumes of arguments against the Church back then, too. “If you were living them, how could you see past the massive arguments and recognize the divinity of the Son of God and the truth of Christianity?”

Unwilling to acknowledge the importance of a spiritual witness, she returned to her anti-Mormon books. I pointed out that while we had examined only a few of the arguments, the ones she had raised had reasonable answers, and some even demonstrated a lack of integrity on the part of the authors. Her answer surprised me: “I don’’t care. Even if only 10% of that book is true, that’’s enough to prove the Church is false.”

Ah, the fallacy of quantity versus quality, a key tool in the Adversary’’s arsenal. Impress them with shear volume, wear them out with endless attacks, and many will succumb, overwhelmed by the image and impression of strength.

I recently received a letter from a former LDS member explaining why he and his wife were leaving the Church. In that letter, he acknowledged that there may be “excuses” to deal with each anti-Mormon argument when taken individually, but that taken together as a whole, the case against the Church is overwhelming. He then lists a barrage of arguments, mentioning DNA and the Book of Mormon, anachronisms, 4,000 changes in the Book of Mormon, racism, polygamy, the Temple and masonry, etc. — problems that each can be dealt with if one takes the time to understand the issues and examines the assumptions behind them. Even then, one must be willing to recognize that there always will be some gaps in our understanding and that no amount of evidence and study will remove the need for faith or replace the power of a witness from the Holy Ghost. But there are answers, sometimes powerful answers that turn apparent weaknesses in the Book of Mormon, for example, into strong evidence for authenticity. But such insights do not come from a superficial glance at the text and related literature. Sadly, he has become another victim of the fallacy of quantity versus quality.

There are tough arguments, indeed. DNA and the Book of Mormon is a great example of this. And for a meaningful understanding of the issues, one must identify assumptions and evaluate information from a variety of perspectives. In so doing, one can come away with a better understanding of what the Book of Mormon is and what it is not. But the Adversary would have us just fold based upon a superficial examination: “Yikes, a guy with a Ph.D. says the Book of Mormon is phooey. Indians are Jews — oh my!”

The Gospel is true, and the Book of Mormon is a divine, authentic book of scripture, in spite of whatever mountains of books and brochures against it the enemy can mount. And Jesus is the Son of God, no matter how many false witnesses and Ph.D.s and celebrities take a stand against Him. It’’s not about who can shout the loudest and longest, but Whose gentle voice we listen for amidst the senseless shouting of men.

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Author: Jeff Lindsay

134 thoughts on ““If Only 10% of These Charges, Are True, The Church is False” – The Fallacy of Quantity Versus Quality

  1. This is pretty interesting to me. Six years ago I got married to my girlfriend of 4 years who was a member of the church. I always figured I would probably join the church.

    While dating I had taken the discussions on and off. After we got married I started taking them again. I would go online and read quite a bit of anti-Mormon literature. Then I would always go check your lds faq site for the alternate side to all the attacks.

    Eventually I came to look at the problem of the volumes of anti-Mormon literature in the opposite way as this person you are describing. Because once you investigate 10, 20, 30 claims against Mormons and find that they are all wrong you realize that all of the claims are going to be wrong and it is not worth a ton of time and energy to look into each spurious claim.

    Thank goodness for the LDS FAQ site you created though. Otherwise it may have been hard for me to realize there is another side to the arguments.

  2. Of course you have identified a logical fallacy. The first comment on this posting shows the flip-side of the coin.

    Here’s to hoping that you continue to evenly apply your logical analysis not only to the arguments against the Church, but to the arguments for the church as well.

  3. I agree with what you are saying. My parents are in the process of having their names removed from the records of the church. They site areas of church history & what they think is a problem with DNA & the Book of Mormon, as their reasons for desiring to leave the church. I find it very interesting how easy it is for someone to lose the presence of the hold ghost, when your thoughts are dwelling on the supposed problems with the church and the teachings of the church. Everyone has a different perspective on everything, but I’ve come to learn from personal experinces that those people that write anti materical about the church and the leaders of the church are usally only telling half the story & aren’t explaing the whole idea that the person was talking about. I would ask all people that are having problems or issues with the church to reflect upon the personal real expierences that they have had with the priesthood power and in church that their testimonies were built upon.

    This morning in my scripture study, my wife and I read the vision of the tree of life in 1st Nephi. The part at the end were Lehi and Nephi saw the people who had partken of the fruit and then falt ashamed and felt their way to the great and spacious building has particular reference to this topic.

  4. How do you suppose the people feel that left the church because of Mark Hoffman’s forged Joseph Smith III patriarchal blessing? Do you think that they came back to the church when it was revealed that the blessing was a forgery? Probably not. They found (or fabricated) another reason.

    How was it put in father Lehi’s vision? Some are blinded by mists, others gave up, and still others were ashamed.

    What I’ve found is that some people are looking for a reason to leave the church or to never accept the truth. If you run into a really honest person they will admit that they don’t want to live the covenants. But they don’t want to admit to themselves or others that they don’t want to be good people; they want to put the blame on someone or something else. So, they latch onto American Indian DNA or the bishop’s personality as an excuse rather than admit that it’s actually their own choice.

    But that’s just my own opinion. Although I seem to remember a quote from the Brothers Karamazov about how some people actually like to be offended.

  5. I’m with Floyd, some people feel important coming into the church, then they feel important leaving. It’s all about them for them and they totally miss the point of existence.

  6. I suspect that niether Southerton or any other person has ever left the Church because the were convinced by evidence of any sort. Science simply does not offer surety and finality. If Southerton really lost his testimony because of MtDNA, then he would at the very least be having serious thoughts about reversing that decision Behar found that some Ashkenazi Jews have the Q-P36 lineage deemed to be a founder lineag in Native Americans. He would also have been swayed by Shen who found Q-P36 in 5% of Iraqi Jews. None of this sways Southerton. No scientific finding would ever sway Southerton’s current anti-Mormon posture. The DNA issue and his book were all about money.

  7. The most important witness that we need to strive is the witness of the Holy Ghost. I have read some criticisms against the Church, some quite laughable, some a bit more serious. In the end, most of them are patently false. The sheer volume speaks nothing, especially when the commonality lacks credibility or presents half-truths.

    I also have benefited from Jeff’s FAQ pages. They strike me with the right amount of humour/seriousness. The information is presented with a well researched progression.

  8. Anon at 10:11,
    My reasoning was more along the lines of yours. Every claim of the anti’s that I researched was debunked, so the “shortcut” I took was that the rest were debunkable.

    And the fact that the anti’s keep recycling debunked arguments says something about their motives.

  9. *Somewhat irrelevant (and yes, I know this and am posting it anyway.)*

    The funniest anti accusation I’ve ever seen was Decker’s claim that the spires on the DC temple are positioned so as to impale the descending Savior at the 2nd coming.

    I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but can anyone trump that one?

  10. Did you hear that we worship Italian angels?

    Would you like-a some-a Moroni noodles for dinner?

  11. My favorite:

    The reason Mormons have so many kids is so that we’ll have plenty of people to seed new planets when the Church commands us to begin interplanetary colonization.

    (I always wondered what they use all those floors of the Church Office building for — its a secret space program).

  12. Ah, that explains food storage! Why a one-year supply? Because Mormon space ships will need lots of food for the interstellar voyage. Any good planets to populate within one light-year? As for me and my house, we’re sticking with Mars.

  13. Ha ha ha!! That is funny. I have heard those things too. On a more serious note, someone real close to me was “antied”. It hurt that they believed nonsense rather than just simply reading the scriptures. After two years of watching me faithfully attend church, he no longer thinks we are some weird cult. He has decided we are good people who are confused about theology. Hey, it is a step up!

  14. Floyd, do I have to be a member of the Church in order to be a good person?

    For my whole life, except for the last five, I’ve felt like I was being a good person in spite of the Church.

    I say that with all due respect, but with no less weight.

  15. What’s funny is that the anti’s don’t realize that barely .01% of their charges are even true. They ALL use various levels of truth to tell various levels of lie.

    If the anti only knew that there is in fact SO MUCH evidence showing that the Church is literally True, that it is FAR beyond a shadow of a doubt. In truth, the only “shadows” are those created by the anti-mind and spirit.

    They think the evidence swings on their side, we know it swings on ours. However, not simply swings, it’s the Fullness. Likely the only religion on the planet in which it’s members as a whole unequivically proclaim every aspect of it Gods.

    Anyway, an objective study of both sides will alway’s result in the Church as the winner. All who say otherwise, aren’t in fact objective when they do their study for their minds and hearts are already set elsewhere, not fully humble, meek, and teachable as a little child. I know this from experience and my own observation of human behavior, attitudes and thinking patterns. It’s a clear fact, but of course only seeable by those who have the eyes to see. Telling an anti this would be talking to a wall, like telling a liberal that Bush is actually a good guy and doing almost the best that can be done in the circumstance as a leader of a Republic rather than a dictator. If he was a dictator, I’m sure he would have done more that is needed to be done to solve Americas problems. But, when you live in the real world, there has to sometimes be compromise.

  16. i find it hard to believe that this would be a discussion on lds faith if the auther removes comments… could you please summarize or paraphrase what ‘that one guy’ said that was removed? I am curious

  17. The author of the comment removed it, not me. What’s so hard to believe? People write things, then change their mind. When I remove something, it can either vanish completely or say “removed by administrator” as I recall. I remove comments that use profanity, that provide links to sites I feel are inappropriate, that are just spam, that are attempts to hijack the thread to a completely unrelated topic like politics, or that are especially nasty. That shouldn’t be unbelievable, either. Discussion of a post does not entitle people to say anything at all without bounds or propriety. As the proprietor, I can impose some rules here, and I do.

  18. I keep a list of reasons why I should go inactive. The list is quite long and at any time I can pick a reason to give up on the church. Almost any reason will work, I have seen most of them in other people. Having converted from protestantism, where would I go once I have give up on the endurance thing. The church offers the only system of answers to life’s questions and the only one that bestows the spirit almost every week saying it is true.

  19. The DNA argument is senseless to me, too, because:
    The Book of Mormon is only an abridgement of a hundreth of the writings of some of what was written by a few people over a relativley short span of time in a (probably) small geographical area, etc etc, and the anti’s know that.
    For all we know others were here before or since (lost tribes, anyone?); anyone with Jewish DNA could have been hopelessly out-bred or killed off.
    We also know God can apparently change the color of your skin to suit his covenant keeping, and I’ll bet he’d do it with a logical physical changing of the body’s chemistry, like (gasp) alter one’s DNA.
    And of course, man’s science could be, dare I say it, less than perfect.
    It’s kind of like the dinosaur argument. Maybe they’re millions of years old, maybe not. Maybe they originated here (creation practice Earth?), maybe from an “old earth”, maybe they came from somewhere else completely.
    “Here is matter unorganized, Michael. Don’t worry about a few bones in the dirt. Let’s go make a world for us”

    Love this blog, BTW