http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Smith,_Jr.

Mid-1800s + con artist + claims visits by angels + seer stones + golden plates + a big hat + gullible people = Mormonism.

It boggles my mind that people actually think that Joseph Smith was a prophet. If his claims we made in the 21st Century almost no one would believe him for a second. The term 'con artist' comes to mind when I think of Smith. Why is there such a will, even today, to believe in the absurd?

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I agree. I still have a difficult time understanding the willful ignorance of these people. I suspect many know it's a load of crap though. I guess a lot of them are afraid of being ousted from their social circle. That usually happens with Mormons leaving the flock. All your friends and family - bye bye. I'm sure Jesus would approve.

I pick on the Mormons because it should be obvious that Smith was a con man. What gives him more credibility than the random person on the street claiming to have had a revelation from God? Humans are a quirky bunch.
People are willing to believe in the absurd because they aren't taught to think rationally since an early age. It's human nature to be curious about the unknown and to look for answers and a reason to why we're here, but if society accepts the supernatural then anything goes. As a result, some cuckoos who seem sure of themselves are given undeserved attention and respect.
I think south park caricatured Mormonism perfectly in one of their episodes...when the narrator is explaining the religion of Mormonism and the bizarre explanations of Joseph Smith, there is a background chorus that goes "Dumb dumb dumb ..dumb!"
I love that episode.
Mormons are fun. My conversion rate is 1 in 5.

Remember, when you invite them in to witness about Joe Smith, they have to engage in a dialogue!

I typically start off laying grounds rules- I illustrate some logical fallacies that neither side can break. Then I'll wheel out my dry erase board, and keep track of their arguments so that I can rebut them one by one and not lose track. Typically, they run away scared after about an hour.

My only success was in a social situation over many lunches. Missionaries are too well indoctrinated: they fully expect to be challenged by "Agents of Satan." I like to think that I softened them up, though.
the erase board sounds like an excellent idea. I guess they can't dodge the questions when it's right there in their face.
You guys, you keep misspelling Morons.

Just sayin'
some insights into how mormons specifically (but also other believers) can and do believe these things.

http://www.mccue.cc/bob/postmormon.htm

lots of good reading on that site, the author is a former mormon bishop who left in his early 40's (which is very hard to do after so many years of "social investment" put into the religion).

i was born in the mormon church and went on a mission for two years in brazil baptizing and teaching. i've left since then but it still haunts my psyche/ conciousness. it's a trip trying to let go 100%

my story of leaving the fold can be found here: http://onedudesms.wordpress.com (but i recommend the site by the former bishop, better).

-markii
I really liked the claim that Jesus came to America...and that the Native Americans are a lost tribe of Israel .Just goes to show that if you keep saying something for a long while ,eventually someone will believe you...........
well that was a belief held by many religious faiths at the time back then (that n. americans were from the tribe of israel- see: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&...). joseph smith (a great storyteller) simply wrote the book of mormon upon this idea (most likely with help by other books and friends).
"Misspelling Morons" doesn't seem to me to be far from the truth. After all, the word was not unknown during Joe's time. I like to think that using "Mormon" and "Moroni" by adding a letter each was his little joke.

However, there's a complication: Joe was from New York, and probably listened to the tales of seamen who traveled around the horn of Africa. He would have heard of the islands of Comoros, where the largest city is, and probably was, Moroni, on the island of Grand Comoros. So, we find the word "Moroni" in his vocabulary, as well as "Comoros," which became "Hill Cumorah," where he found the mythical plates.

We can easily find that Joe used extant Biblical names with minor changes to make person and place names in the Book of Mormon. His anachronisms, such as finding steel, chariots, elephants, horses, compasses, silk, etc., still miss actual animals that lived on the continent in the time two millenium ago, such as the coatimundi, which really did exist. One wonders why people are so credulous to be able to follow such a man.

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