Sunday, 12 February 2012

"Inspired fiction"

While reading a post on Wheat and Tares, I tripped over this term: "inspired fiction". I decided I've been ignoring it long enough.

If you want to be a Mormon, but you don't think that the Book of Mormon is literally true, you could call it "inspired fiction". This means that instead of thinking Joseph Smith made up a bunch of stories that aren't true, God told Joseph Smith to make up a bunch of stories that aren't true. (What's the difference? Well, if God does it, it's all right, you see.)

When I see someone taking this tack, it's like they're saying, "Oh, of course the Emperor has no socks, but the rest of his couture is exquisite!" It's a partial credit situation; points for realising it's not true, but demerits for going along with it anyway. Call me crazy, but it matters to me if my beliefs are true. If it's not true, I don't have time for it.

What about the idea that, although not true, the stories in the Book of Mormon are good moral stories that can help you to live a better life? That's where it all comes down. The Book of Mormon's a terrible guide for moral living! Here's what you'll find:and that's just off the top of my head.

Are there no other fictional books that people could use as a guide for life? Of course there are, but it doesn't really matter to these people -- I suspect the reason they've mistaken this awful book for a guide is that either they're tied to it by their social group, or maybe they enjoyed reading it and believing in it once, and they can't bear to relinquish it completely. Which is kind of sad. I can understand if someone thinks these stories are a literal true account of the dealings of a cruel god that they have no choice but to obey -- who can say how they'd act in a hostage situation? But imagine not thinking this stuff is true, and digging on it anyway. Somehow I think that's worse.


  1. Oh, forgot. There's something else they do sometimes.

    If you, as a Mormon, believed it was all true -- I don't know, maybe because everyone is trained to say it's true over and over! -- and you found it wasn't and left, they act like that's a really weird and aberrant expectation.

    "What are you, some kind of fundamentalist?"

    1. I let "brainwashing" slip in a conversation at a party on Saturday with two old friends (one stoked to find I'm no longer a mormon and a mormon friend who had no idea that I wasn't). The old mormon friend was less than impressed. I love how they can't see themselves doing that to their kids, smiling at them up on the stand as they recite, "I would like to bear my testimony...."

      Also, that "inspired fiction" argument. I just can't understand how any one can eat that shit up. Is the church going to change the title page of the BOM from "It is a record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas..." to, "It is a bunch of fables from which, if you really try, you can find some moral to base a Sunday School lesson on."

      The thing that killed my "testimony" (thank goodness) more than anything else was the apologists taking it upon themselves to declare things that "prophets" never will.

    2. Like +1.

      If missionaries ever said, "We have a metaphor we'd like to tell you about," then I'd have to temper my criticism. But they don't say this.

      The "inspired fiction" thing is so contrary to the church's actual claims and the actual beliefs of its members.

  2. Also, I don't know how you guys put the links into your comments but I thought this one from President Paternoster was appropriate for those who have not read it. Pure gold along with all his others.

  3. If there really is a 'god', wouldn't her books be a lot better written? And a damn sight more scientifically accurate?

  4. @Anaalyst. I know, it's shocking. Master-of-the-Universe conforms not only to the style guide of the time of writing, but also to local content. So it's indistinguishable from if people wrote it. It's the fossil record all over again.|
    It's as if he doesn't actually want people to believe in him. Crazy trickster


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