There seems to be a strong bias against fact in this day and age. James Poniewozik in Time magazine (23 Aug 2010) states:
On Aug 4, Barack Obama, celebrated his 49th birthday. Or at least, he did if you live in one version of the U.S. If you live in another version, on Aug 4, Barack Obama, the claimant to the presidency, celebrated an unknown anniversary of his birth on foreign soil, maybe Kenya, which makes him ineligible to hold his office.
Many also believe that he (obama) is a Muslim, that 9/11 was an inside job or the work of Saddam Hussein, that health care reform will establish “death panels,” that FEMA made plans for “concentration camps,” that Trig Palin’s real mother is not Sarah but Bristol, that corporations or community organizers stole this or that election.
And religions are not immune from the power of myth. A very high percentage of Americans do not believe in evolution, instead professing a belief in the literal story at the start of Genesis. The Old Testament is full of myths that many Christians continue to believe are reality, for example:
- The creation story including Adam and Eve
- No death before the fall
- Noah’s flood
- Tower of Babel and language
- Jonah and the big fish
- Earth standing still
The Old Testament may be great literature, but is not particularly good history, and its certainly not a science book.
Mormons are certainly not immune from believing in myths. For example:
- Seagull-and-cricket story
- Three Nephite stories
- All Native Americans are Lamanites
- Afro-Americans are descendants of Cain and Ham, they were fence sitters in the war in heaven
Some of us would rather believe an inspirational fabrication, than a scientific fact. This anti-intellectualism is disturbing. But this type of thinking seems to be encouraged by the faction represented by Joseph Fielding Smith, Ezra Taft Benson, Bruce R. McConkie, and Boyd K. Packer. On the other side, you have individuals like B.H. Roberts, James Talmage, John A. Widtsoe, Henry Eyring, and many contemporary scientists at BYU who argue for a more scientific fact-based approach to Mormonism and religion in general.
If we don’t give up on our myths (or at least de-emphasize them), we will continue to lose our young college-trained members. We are already losing our appeal to scientific community.