John Dehlin posted this link on facebook yesterday (24 March 2014); and unsure of why it was worth a “wow” from him, I took the time to review it. It is a one hour presentation and these days I never usually spend a whole hour on anything Mormon. I can’t make out if Dehlin’s reference to Jon McNaughton (the Tea-Party’s painter) is intended as an insult or a compliment. Like many others, I still can’t fathom Dehlin’s motives clearly.
“Wow. Jake Hilton is Jon McNaughton in oral form….and he’s coming to an LDS fireside near you.”
The ‘Book of Mormon Evidence Conference’ (updated 23 November 2013) opening sequence is very professional and promises ‘archaeological evidence’, ‘geographical evidence’, ‘genetic evidence’, historical evidence’, ‘scriptural evidence’ and ‘prophetic evidence’. That should indeed be worth a “wow”, if indeed, after all these years (and the abundance of incontrovertible evidence against the remotest possibility of the book being a true account of a real people), we are to be treated to new discoveries of peer reviewed evidence in each area, obtained through the scientific method. Not that I held out much hope.
The emphasis is on strengthening youth, as they are “lost and confused” and leaving the Church. They must hold to the iron rod and get through the mists of darkness (quoting the BOM). Hilton of course doesn’t mention the fact that Joseph Smith plagiarised that whole dream sequence from his own father’s account of the very same dream he heard from when he was about six years of age. (See: The Mormon Delusion, Vol. 2. Ch. 9). “Leaving in droves; apostasy is happening right now in the Church today.”
Amazingly, Hilton quotes non-Mormon, Ken Ham, – the biggest idiot creationist in the world, recently made to look a complete fool by Bill Nye. Sixty percent of young adults are not Church active and eighty-eight percent of youth will deny their faith in Christianity by graduation. What is the solution in Mormonism? The iron rod itself – the word of God. All kids have to do is keep reading the BOM over and over and apply its principles. However, once people leave the Church, they don’t want to come back – having fallen into sin and transgression. I think that translates to ‘having discovered the truth and rejected the lies’. The notion that members who leave the Church ‘fall into sin and transgression’ is ever popular in Mormonism, and of course, ever absurd.
Hilton compares Hebrew and Roman ‘foundations’ to show the Hebrews were on the right track and the Romans got it all wrong. He confirms creationism as true and that the first man and woman “from whom we are all descended” were Adam and Eve. “If ever there is a theory, a philosophy, an idea that is presented to you that does not square with the scriptures, you reject it! Throw it out the window and don’t look back.” Right there is the reason people should reject Mormonism, if not religion in general. If science doesn’t fit with scripture, reject the science. Clearly, when science proves something as fact, it is the prior held belief that needs attention. But religion says, never mind the facts, stick with the fiction – rely on the delusion. It’s comfortable, warm and fuzzy.
Marriage is between a man and woman only. He condemns philosophy completely as a foundation for anything useful and makes absurd parallels about ‘worshipping’ sports stars. Oh, and it’s called ‘American IDOL’ for a reason! We make idols of men instead of god (apparently). For a supposedly up to date presentation, that’s a little outdated as an argument. People today do understand the difference between worshipping a god and admiring sports and film stars – they are not as stupid as Hilton tries to make out. And the photo he shows is of a BYU game where the majority of adoring spectators in the picture are undoubtedly members of the Mormon Church.
Unbelievably, Hilton then rounds on evolution and condemns it as “only the theories of men.” He clearly hasn’t studied any of the science surrounding it, or understood that it has long been a proven fact and not just a ‘theory of men’ as he claims. Someone should teach him that whilst ‘a theory’ may be a hypothesis, all ‘scientific theory’ has moved beyond that, consisting of facts established through peer reviewed evidence which is accepted by the scientific community. The ‘theory of evolution’ describes the process and thus why it is true. Evolution is an established scientific fact. Evolution is not something you have to have ‘faith’ in or ‘believe’ in – it is not debatable; you just have to understand it. It is a fact and as real as anything we know. Hilton should watch Cosmos, among many other things. The original hypothesis has been verified over and over through several different scientific disciplines that each confirm the other, leaving the fossil record as a kind of unneeded bonus – the tree of life has been well mapped – and is added to almost daily. Here in England, you can get a free copy from the BBC or Open University. It is now unquestionable science that you cannot “throw it out the window and don’t look back” just because it “does not square with the scriptures.” If science is right, then scripture is wrong.
Quoting a school text book on biology, he objects to us being described as animals related to earth worms. If he understood the wonders of science and how DNA and RNA show how everything is related, he would of course have to take a different view, so I can only assume he avoids all the evidence. We actually know more about evolution than we do about space-time curvature (gravity). And we are related to earth worms – as well as every other living thing on the planet – whether we like the idea or not.
Hilton claims organic evolution is “Satan’s chief weapon in this dispensation.” In my books, I state that despite what leaders have claimed in the past, the modern Mormon Church hasn’t made a stand about evolution (despite the fact that it is taught at BYU), because to do so (either way) would cause far too many problems for the Church. Yet here we are, with a definitive stand against scientific facts that cannot be disputed. If Church leaders persist with this stance, that alone will ultimately kill the Church. Well, unless that is, yet again they eventually declare that earlier leaders got it all wrong and admit that of course evolution is a fact and the Adam and Eve story is just a fable. In today’s world of scientific ‘understanding’ (not on faith or belief), the Church cannot and will not survive without accepting the facts. Even the Pope accepts evolution as a fact, and he represents a Church that grows by more members every single year than the Mormon Church has in total.
Hilton then disparages President Obama as “the first gay President” because he has come out in favour of gay marriage. The fact that Obama is a Democrat won’t help there, as most Mormons in America appear to be Republican, despite the fact the Church claims not to have political sway with members. He admits that Salt Lake City “has become the most popular homosexual city in America.” Then, following three slides with one word on each: “Warning”, “Graphic”, “Images”, he shows some tame pictures of the gay pride march in SLC from June 2013. He described them as “disturbing”. This is because over five hundred members of the Church marched in support of it.
He also disparaged Obama for declaring “We are no longer a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation and a nation of non-believers.” Hilton didn’t like the all-embracing love and compassion of his own President, who is in fact Christian. He went on to say that meant we are no longer a nation that believes in one God but a nation that believes in many gods. That has to be one of the most ignorant statements I have ever heard. If the Church persists in such divisive commentary, it is more than doomed. And it is one reason why people are rejecting such religions as Mormonism.
Hilton wants America to be a ‘Christian’ nation only. That’s despite the fact that it was never set up under any god; church and state were supposed to have remained separate. Just because someone decided to put ‘One nation under God’ on US currency in the 1950s, does not mean the Mormon Church can claim exclusivity for themselves or even all Christians. Obama got it right; it is a nation for everyone. Hilton certainly knows how to offend Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus, as well as non-believers. Does he have a clue as to how bigoted (and unchristian) this kind of rhetoric is? He seemed to think that the date on which Obama said this was ‘significant’ for some obscure reason. It was April 6th – the date Mormons (incorrectly) believe was Christ’s birthday, because Joseph Smith claimed it. Is Jesus now upset with Obama, despite the fact that he is a good Christian?
And Hilton expects to ‘retain’ the youth and young adults of the Church by teaching such nonsense. The youth of today, more and more, understand and accept scientific evidence regarding evolution; and they also understand the hard wiring of human (and many other species) brains to same-sex attraction in six to eight percent of the population. Considering they were ‘made that way’ (if you believe in creationism, which the Church clearly does), the truly ‘Christian’ attitude is surely to understand this and accept people as they are. Leave people alone rather than try to force them to believe and behave as you think they should. Leave ‘gayness’ between the individual and their god, if they have one. If not, just mind your own business. What ever have they done to you to deserve such treatment? The fact that five hundred Mormons did join the gay pride march shows that at least some members do understand the facts. It also demonstrated an understanding of unconditional love; something Mormonism preaches but does not appear to practice.
Despite the fact that early missionaries baptised thousands of people in England in the mid 1800s, today, England (and Europe) is “a missionary graveyard” where very few join the Church. He has no idea that the days of superstition are behind us and that science has taught people the truth about many things. People no longer identify with the Mormon idea of a god that defies known science.
He then explains that the internet is the main problem – it is of course full of lies. “The reason why youth are not at Church is because they are on the internet.” He doesn’t understand that youngsters of today can determine truth from lies, or that the lies the Church itself presents on the internet are so easily discernable. Using the internet to combat the problem will only lead to further apostasy. Speaking of the internet, Hilton mentions anti-Mormon literature as nothing new and laughs at ‘recovery from Mormonism’ as if it is a joke, little realising the anguish and suffering that takes place when people reluctantly realise and have to face the truth and leave the fold, losing family and friends who then reject them as apostates. That is the Mormon version of being ‘Christian’, in a nutshell.
Finally, after over forty minutes, he speaks of Joseph Smith claiming the Book of Mormon being “the most correct book ever written.” Either it is true and Smith was a prophet, or it is not true and Smith was a fraud. The BOM is being attacked via the internet. In this ‘web’, says Hilton, is a spider (he shows an actual picture of a huge black spider) and it’s name is – wait for it – ‘Lucifer’. He strikes at the youth of the Church when they are weak. The only thing weak here is Hilton’s argument. The world-wide web is simply a resource for information that was always out there, but is now more readily accessible. Previously, the Church could hide its lies and deceptions quite easily. Now they are laid bare, which is why they feel the need to keep publishing new ‘essays’ in attempted damage limitation. Many members will question why the need and then also leave.
He doesn’t think Satan needs to attack grandpa or grandma, mom or dad, he goes after the kids. He clearly does not see all the Stake Presidents, Bishops and other Mormon leaders having a crisis of faith due to the truth ‘prevailing’. It’s not just youth leaving the Church. Hilton should take a look at the make up of ex-Mormon groups. He would soon discover who is leaving the Church.
Finally, he turns to ‘evidence’ for the BOM and declares: “DNA evidence proves the BOM true. Here’s the evidence for yourself – look it over.” At this point he is looking at a photo of two young soldiers firing a machine gun and a message appears in the smoke emissions “DNA proves the Book of Mormon true” – that’s it. No actual evidence is presented at all. My old friend, Simon Southerton, is well ahead of the game on this aspect, and apologists have no idea what to say next. I find it more than ironical that Hilton wants to refute the same evidence (DNA) that shows we are related to all living species, including earth worms (which it does), on one hand, and then on the other, to accept that DNA ‘proves’ the Book of Mormon (which it doesn’t) – it does exactly the opposite, which is why the Church was obliged to alter the description from reading that characters in the book were the ‘principle’ ancestors, to ‘among’ the ancestors of Native Americans a little while ago. If all else fails, change the rules, move the goal posts, make things up.
“Another round loaded” he says. “Joseph Smith was a true prophet. We can prove it. We can defend it.” But he can’t, and he doesn’t. He speaks of defending the faith. When people accuse the Church of being ‘Latter-day Lies’ – fire right back. “The Book of Mormon is true – I KNOW it.” Considering Church lawyers admitted in court, during the recent ‘Tom Phillips v. Thomas S. Monson’ case in London, England, that church “beliefs should no longer be considered facts” (so there was no case to answer), this will become a very dangerous statement to officially make in the future. People may ‘believe’ the Book of Mormon is true but leaders cannot state it as fact because the Church lawyers have declared that the Church (and Monson himself) does not do that. It is a matter of faith rather than fact. That will come back to bite them.
Youth can say they ‘know’ it spiritually and also physically because science backs it up. He still doesn’t state HOW. The fact is that science destroys the Book of Mormon over and over again in every aspect and detail. (See: The Mormon Delusion, Volume 2, for evidence of many of the scientific facts. An analysis of chapters is available under ‘TMD Volumes 1 & 2’ at the top of this page).
History is next. Hilton maintains “history backs it up.” He quotes Ballard and also the Book of Mormon itself, waffling on about Mormon evidence provided on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Still no evidence is actually presented. There is none. If you bother to check Facebook, Twitter and YouTube postings by the Church, there is nothing new and no tangible peer-reviewed scientific evidence available, just manipulations of the truth to suit Mormon needs. As with all the recent essays published by the Church to date – there is nothing new, just contradictions, excuses and apologies for the past.
So, apart from all the whinging and whining about youth leaving the Church, an offensive barrage of nonsense against the American President and many other faiths and non-believers, where is the evidence that was promised at the beginning. Where is all the ‘archaeological evidence’, ‘geographical evidence’, ‘genetic evidence’ and ‘historical evidence’ about the Book of Mormon? Not a single piece of evidence is presented. However, “it’s all about saving souls.”
Apparently, heroically, Hilton walked around Hong Kong on an injured leg for many months before being sent home early from a mission. When he returned home early (honourably) he was ostracised and rumours were spread about him, so he left the Church and was inactive for five years. He returned of course, and in tears he expresses his pain and then joy; but that experience should tell him something about how people feel who reject the Church due to the incontrovertible evidence against it, and he should at least understand how it feels to be rejected when one discovers the fraud. It also shows the typical Mormon attitude and assumptions made about people without due consideration. Unconditional love is not often practiced in the Church.
Overall, taking the view that science actually supports the Book of Mormon and at the same time, claiming that evolution is not scientifically proven, is unbelievably ignorant and it is clear that Hilton has just buried his head in the sand of delusional thinking – an absolute requirement in Mormonism, now that the truth is so blindingly obvious, thanks to science and the internet.
If John Dehlin’s ‘wow’, isn’t “Wow, how can this guy be so ignorant”, then I fail to see what it is for. To present this to the youth of the Church and give no evidence in support of the claims, leaving them to search the internet, will only exacerbate the problem. As the presentation shows, there are numerous web sites available with information regarding the Church, and they will see them all. Many youth will inevitably see through the lies presented, not by so-called anti-Mormon sites but by the Church itself, because many claims will defy known and accepted science. The Church has nailed its colours to the wrong mast and that mast has already been shot to pieces; the ship is sinking fast under the weight of scientific evidence (not just the theories of men). And it cannot be ‘saved’.