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Once you leave a belief system where you have always been provided with stock answers to difficult questions, it can be a little disconcerting engaging others in serious conversation when you haven’t been given a play book ahead of time. To get a sense of what I mean, ask a couple of believing Mormons the same theological or philosophical question and most likely you’ll get the same answer almost word for word. Out in the real world, you have to develop your own take on the tough questions. 

So, to help out fellow thinkers with that transition, here are a few questions, answers and responses I’ve found to be either engaging or an easy way to put an end to the inquisition:

Set the tone

Before you even allow yourself to be pulled into a conversation, start out with these 2 questions to set the parameters of the rest of the dialogue:

Q1: If Mormonism weren’t true would you want to know it? (variation: If God didn’t exist would you want to know it?)

Obviously if the answer is no then you can stop right there. Some people really can’t engage in such a hypothetical thought game like this.  If the answer is yes, then you move on to question 2.

Q2: Hypothetically speaking, if Mormonism weren’t true HOW would you know it? (variation: If God didn’t exist, HOW would you know it?)

You’re asking them to set the standards by which they will be able to dismiss or accept any facts or evidence in your discussion.

Responding to the Standard Dialogue

Believer: I know the Church is true.
Non-believer: That’s not a statement about the Church, that’s a statement about YOU.

Believer: But, you used to have a testimony.
Non-believer: When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
(I Corinthians 13:11)

Believer: Oh no, you’ve fallen away.
Non-believer: No, I’ve risen above.

Believer:Don’t you want to be with your family in the afterlife?
Non-believer: Not if they won’t allow me to think my own thoughts.

Believer: But the three witnesses never denied their testimony.
Non-believer:O. J. Simpson never denied his testimony either.

Believer: Then how do you explain the Book of Mormon?
Non-believer: Can my explanation be just as absurd as a guy translating secret golden plates by putting a stolen peep-stone into his hat?

Believer: Do you think you’re smarter than the leaders of the church?
Non-believer: I don’t think I’m smarter than the College of Cardinals but that doesn’t make the Catholic church true.

Believer: But what possible reason could Joseph Smith have had for making it all up?
Non-believer: You’re an intelligent, creative person; I bet you can think of ten possible reasons all by yourself if you put your mind to it.

Believer: Who got you out? Fawn Brodie? Grant Palmer? Michael Quinn? Who? Who was it?
Non-believer: Disbelief doesn’t require the uncritical acceptance of an authority figure.  Belief does.

Believer: How can you turn your back on the gospel for which your ancestors sacrificed so much?
I suppose in the same way those ancestors turned their backs on the faith of their fathers when they converted to Mormonism.

Believer: What if you are wrong?
Then, I’ll change my mind as soon as there’s a smidgeon of evidence to suggest otherwise.  What if you are wrong? What if there’s another belief system out there that is actually true?

Have you found any other questions or responses helpful?