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 itÂs 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.