There’s an alternative to evidence-based arguments about the church: asking good questions. Open-ended questions get people to think.
If someone you love isn’t ready to listen to the “evidence” you’ve discovered, don’t let that get in the way of having interesting conversations. You might be surprised at what you discover by being willing to ask and listen.
The questions below are designed to encourage reflection on the methods Mormons use to arrive at their religious beliefs. These questions also ask people to consider how their beliefs might differ from what is taught at church.
Critical Thinking Questions to Ask Latter-day Saints
- What do you think it would take for any religion to gain and keep members? What do you think leads people to be devoted to their faith?
- What do you think about people who join the church? What do you think about people who leave the church and join another faith?
- What do you think about people who don’t believe in God? Why do you believe what you do?
- What is the biggest source of evidence for your belief in the church? [Optional: ask for more information about the evidence they are using. For example, if they say faith, you could ask, How do you define faith? If they say, personal revelation, you could ask how they experience personal revelation. Is it via thoughts in their head? feelings? something else?]
- On a scale of 1-10, how reliable do you feel that type of evidence is in determining truth? Is it possible someone else could use the same method and reach a different conclusion? Do you use this same method of information to form non-religious beliefs? Why or why not?
- If the church was not what it claimed itself to be, how would you know? What type of evidence might cause you to rethink your belief? If you found sufficient contradictory evidence to your belief, would you be willing to revise it? (If not, why not?)
- What about the church is most meaningful in your life? If that disappeared, how committed to the church would you be?
- Is there anything you believe that is different (or contradicts) what is taught in church? If so, what is it? Why do you believe differently?
- How do you feel about people who kill because of their religious beliefs? Why do you think they choose to harm others in the name of their religion?
- What do you think it means to “follow the prophet”? Would you kill someone if the prophet asked you to? Would you lie if the prophet asked you to? Why or why not?
- What does “sacred” mean? What’s sacred to you and why? Is there anything you feel is sacred that the church didn’t teach you to view this way?
- How do you define “doctrine”? What are the doctrines of the LDS church? [Optional: What impact would it have on you if you discovered the doctrines you’ve mentioned have changed? ]
- How do you feel about people who leave the church for reasons of conscience? Can you think of any reason you might consider leaving the church?
- What does loyalty mean to you? Do you think loyalty to the church (as an organization) is important? If so, why?
- What character traits do you expect from prophets, seers, and revelators? How do you know when they are merely speaking as men? Is there anything a previous or current prophet could do that would lead you to doubt they were/are a prophet?
- How do you tell the difference between personal revelation and your own brain? What would you stake on your ability to tell the difference?
- Do you believe the Book of Mormon is the most correct book? What does correct mean to you? If you discovered the Book of Mormon didn’t meet those criteria, how would that impact you?
To learn more, ask additional open-ended questions like these:
- What do you mean by that?
- Can you elaborate on that?
- How did you come to that conclusion?
Try having discussions without needing to change another person’s mind. Instead, let them think without needing to defend themselves. Listen. Ask more. And listen again.
Then wait and see what happens.