Friday, 20 June 2008

Shaken Faith Syndrome

The Mormon apologetics site FAIR has released a book by Michael R Ash designed to help Mormons deal with the "Anti-Mormon material" they encounter. It is enitled Shaken Faith Syndrome and the following is the blurb that accompanies the book:

"Description In today's Internet world, an increasing number of Latter-day Saints are encountering anti-Mormon material. In the absence of ready answers, LDS-critical claims can be unsettling or create doubt. Some arguments have caused a few members—even active members with strong testimonies—to lose their faith. Shaken Faith Syndrome explores how we can be both critical thinkers and devout believers. Misconceptions that can make us vulnerable to shaken faith are dispelled, and some of the most frequent anti-LDS claims are refuted. Shaken Faith Syndrome invites us to strengthen our testimonies and intellectual foundations as we develop a more mature appreciation for prophets and revelation as well as a greater understanding of the inherent limitations of science, history, and even the scriptures."

Note the words I highlighted, i.e. "In the absence of ready answers" and the reference to "the inherent limitations of science, history, and even the scriptures". The author's purpose is purportedly to "strengthen our testimonies and intellectual foundations" but it seems an impossible task given that he considers every source, inspired and profane, inadequate to the task. And what are you left with? How you think about how you feel? The clever part, though, is that, in the absence of ready answers he has invented a syndrome.

Now syndrome is from the Greek syn, 'together with' and dramein, 'to run'. A syndrome is a set of symptoms running together indicating a physical or mental disorder. So, the author's message appears to be, "I know anti-Mormons ask difficult questions and I understand that there are no ready answers but if you think they might have a point there is something wrong with you."

Tragically, there will be those Mormons who will convince themselves that they, or an apostate loved one, might be suffering from a syndrome. I understand that psychiatry is a popular profession in Utah so I suppose that's some professional therapist's pension plan drawn up and guaranteed. It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

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