Irrational? Mormon Beliefs Aren’t Alone

I loved this article at NRO regarding the rationality of religious belief. To those who dismiss Mormonism because it seems so irrational, the author asks how to distinguish Mormon irrationality from that of any other faith:

Lots of people take it as a given that Mormonism is nuts; the tolerant ones just think this shouldn’t keep Mitt out of the White House. Many who hold the “Mormonism is nuts” position are religious themselves — and they’re the ones I find hardest to understand. I suspect that, almost to a man, they are (1) incapable of rationally defending their own beliefs and (2) completely unaware of how deeply irrational — in the sense of “rationality” given above — those beliefs are.

Which of the following ideas requires the bigger leap of faith: that a resurrected Christ appeared to ancient inhabitants of the Americas, or that the dead can come forth from their tombs at all? That the Garden of Eden was in Missouri, or that there was a Garden of Eden? Why do so many people scoff at the notion that an angel spoke to Joseph Smith, but accept without question that angels spoke to men and women in the Bible? (And since when is it rational to believe in angels?)

Shall we put the history of Mormonism on trial, too? Do we have a hard time voting for Mitt because his church practiced polygamy a hundred years ago, or withheld its priesthood from black men until 1978? Yes? A politician whose church has burned heretics at the stake, on the other hand . . .

You get the idea. People look on Mormonism with skepticism and contempt not because its doctrines are uniquely irrational, but because it is young and obscure. Miracles are easier to accept when viewed from the safe distance of two or three millennia; they have no business in James Monroe’s America. And familiarity with hoary old concepts — God, Resurrection, Heaven — desensitizes us to just how philosophically radical they are.

To be honest, I think he gives away too much here. I don’t think Mormon or Christian religious beliefs are irrational in the strictest sense of the word. They are often un-empirical, un-verifiable, and yes, weird sounding. But it’s not uncommon to hear a Mormon or a Christian express rational reasons for believing what they do. Imagine you had an experience for which there were very good reasons to believe that a divine being communicated with you. Wouldn’t it then be rational to believe whatever that divine being told you? That is often the basis for the beliefs of many religious people. Again, these are not empirically verifiable evidences, but they’re not crazy either.

Regardless, the point is that however irrational Mormonism may be, Christianity has no claim to greater rationality. It all reminds me of a church sign I saw once:

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