Thursday, October 30, 2014

'Nuff the Magic Dragon

This is my 100th post on this blog, and I've written over 100,000 words--a good size novel (oh, and I completed a novel that size early this year too).

Two years ago, I began in September 2012, when I wanted to document my attending the Mormon church as the managing editor of Mormonthink.  That was short lived, and the story is familiar to most of my readers. (You can google it if you want to read the news-stories.  It's in the Daily Beast, NY Times and more.)

For this centennial blog post, I thought I would change it up.

What would my readers think if I told them:

Joseph Smith did something invaluable for human kind.

Yes, I would like to praise the man in a specific way.  I'm serious.  What he did might just change the world, and we might see that happen soon.  Perhaps we are seeing it.

To explain, I want to show you a children's book, which was inspired by Carl Sagan for the original idea.

Some tell me, the gold plates were real, angel Moroni visited Joseph Smith, and God appeared to him and then helped him translate ancient records.

Here is a little tale for you.  (Here is the source, by J. M. Odesluys, which makes a great children's story book.)


"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage," I tell you.
"Show me," you say. 

I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle--but no dragon.  But I know without a shadow of a doubt I can see it and the fiery breath.
"Where's the dragon?" you ask. 

"Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving.
"But I can't see her!" you cry.

I reply, "I forgot to tell you that she's an invisible dragon." 
"Can I hear her?" you ask.

"You have to learn dragon whispers to hear her.  She is silent to all others," I tell you.
"Can I touch her?" you ask.

"You can try, but she can only be felt by those who truly know dragons," I say.
You reach out, but feel nothing.  "I can't see where she is.  Perhaps we can spread flour on the floor of the garage and see where she walks."

"Now there's an idea!" I say.  Thinking, I add: "But this dragon floats in the air.  Flour won't show the dragon's footprints.  Only those who truly love dragons can find her." 

"Invisible or not, a dragon has fire!" you exclaim.  "Perhaps we can get a infrared sensing, thermal camera and see her fiery breath!"
"You think a lot," I reply.  "Unfortunately, the invisible fire is also heatless." 

"Hmm." You think and think some more.  "Let's spray paint everywhere in the garage, and see if we can make her appear!"

"Perhaps you are over-thinking this.  Clearly, being invisible, heatless and floating everywhere, you must realize she's an incorporeal dragon.  Without a body the paint won't stick." 

"How big is your dragon?" you ask.

"She can be very very big, or very very small," I explain. "She can change into anything she wants at any size she desires.  She's very magical."

You sigh and shake your head.  "You're dragon can't be touched?"
"Can't be seen or heard?"
"Not unless you are a superior lover of dragons."
"Can't be detected with sensors?"
"Can't be painted and won't leave footprints?"

You sigh and ask, "What's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who breathes heatless fire...and no dragon at all?"
"Your problem," I tell you, "is that you don't have enough faith." 
"I find your dragon, non-sensed, and un-real."


Now, compare this story to a brief summary of history on religion.

Social anthropologists find the earliest signs of religion in cave dwellings.  

The hypothesis is that in the cave tribe leaders received visual and auditory hallucinations feeding words and vision, like one sees in sensory deprivation chambers.  The "invisible entities" of hallucination were revered and perhaps offerings made to appease it for more revelation and protection. Further hypothesis is that the leaders took the offerings and became wealthy, perhaps lazy and even cruel. Eventually followers went into the cave and found the leaders lied.

The leaders eventually moved their spirits and gods to above ground, guarded shafts and lairs. 

Great expense went into building them and the leaders ruled and lived lavishly, as if gods themselves.  The pinnacles of these temples pointed up, while the gods were buried inside.  The guards and others did know the truth, and eventually their cruel reigns ended.

The end of that epoch seems to have brought humility to religious leaders. The people couldn't build temples big enough, but they moved god to the highest points, even further away, out of reach for most people. 

Ancient Hindu and  Jewish texts speak of prophets going to mountains and finding inspiration or bringing down commandments.  The Old Testament never mentions heaven, just that god is in the mountain of the Lord.

For a long time, the New Testament moved god beyond human reach, into heaven.  Only god could reach the people when he wanted,to reassure chosen leaders that he is real and miraculously powerful.  

Then science with telescopes peers into the skies and beyond.  And as science found no heaven, and pushed at religion's claims,they have moved god beyond space-time, outside of the measurable universe.  Beyond science even.  

Each time the goal posts of god are moved, he becomes less personable.  Non-corporeal, non human.  An indiscernible force everywhere. Invisible, non-sensed, not-detected or found by any means except through faith and the feelings the religions tell you to have. 

What did Joseph Smith do?

Smith brought god back to human form, residing within the universe at Kolob and revealing artifacts to back his claims.  People loved the more tangible, personable, approachable god.

Joseph Smith did this in the golden era after the printing press and before the internet.  Documentation exists, actually abounds, but was hard to access in his era and subsequent times.  If one could collect all the old documents, newspapers, court proceedings, journal entries and more, one could piece it all together to see almost precisely how Joseph Smith created his scam.  

Now that the LDS church has grown large enough to merit attention, we can scrutinize it as a model for how religions form and can be easily discredited.  It is large enough, and the internet is now bringing back all the old documents, newspapers and more.  Soon enough, we will have the jigsaw picture complete and it will serve as a model for how older religions, whose records are lost, also started from lies by charismatic leaders.

Here is the entire 2-minute primary talk on the history of religion, for those that want it.

(click on image to zoom in)

Happy 100th!

PS- I'll be taking a break for a while.


  1. LOL!!

    I loved the ending of the story. PUFF!

    puff the magic dragon just took on new meaning.

    Thanks, David!

  2. That is hilarious David T. Too bad you are so wrong about everything. You're so caught up in proving this church is wrong that you twist and skew facts all of the time. No one has said that they know exactly where heaven is and therefore can find it when entering space. In fact as telescopes improve they are finding more and more planets...that by the way, according to, "scientist," did not exist....that is until their tools improved!

    You think you've got it all figured out, but you really don't and you are truly pitiful.

    1. You have a poor sense of science. Scientist haven't ever said there aren't planets. They speculated on them and hypothesized for decades and centuries. What you confuse is skepticism for denial. Evidence is king in science, and you apparently are unfortunate not to understand.

    2. But we don't know what an non physical planet would be. We couldn't distinguish an immaterial planet from a non-existent planet. And the same goes for gods, souls, demons, devils, and every other purported invisible or divine being. The fact that all religious people imagine they "know" about such things doesn't make your magical beliefs any more real than theirs are.

      Like David, Mormonism is my favorite soap opera-- a lovely illustration as to how religions/myths/superstions form, evolve, and die out. Joseph Smith got the virulent religious memes just right, but all magical beliefs eventually die out, because science works in a way that faith never could.

    3. Thomas A. You are too young to recall what was believed by scientist throughout time. You are the unfortunate one, because even your statement lends proof to their being other planets, and possibly humans living on those planets.

    4. Articulett, Religion and science go together, and in hand.

  3. Congratulations on your 100th post!

    Thank you for all your hard work in publishing this blog. Your blog was instrumental in helping me find the courage to leave the church, and more importantly, get my children out of a destructive organization. Though the journey out has been painful as we have had to deal with some harsh judgments, we found that life is now a thousand times more beautiful.

    I'm so grateful that pioneers like you help to pave the way for others. I'm sure it took a lot of bravery to stand up and put yourself out there. Thank you, David!

  4. David T. you are playing a dangerous game, making a children story to teach atheism. That is abusive to children. They should have the right to have time to decide for themselves about God, but you are sinister! You lure children into denying God. Like Satan, you have a forked tongue.

    1. Anonymous you are playing a dangerous game, making a children story to teach "religion". That is abusive to children. They should have the right to have time to decide for themselves about "atheism", but you are sinister! You lure children into "accepting" God. Like Satan, you have a forked tongue.

  5. Hi there. You said: "The Old Testament never mentions heaven, just that god is in the mountain of the Lord." Was this appraisal made after considering 1 Kings 8:27, its parallel in 2 Chronicles 6:18, as well as Deuteronomy 10:14 and Psalm 148:4?
    It appears then that the Old Testament already located God beyond human reach, in heaven.

    1. @Jim -- That's only correct if you already believe that "sky" must be figurative on other grounds. I'm afraid you cannot demonstrate that, though. That God dwells in "the sky" was believed quite literally in antiquity. God's dwelling place became increasingly more distant as man's understanding of the size of the universe grew -- and as we also came to understand that the sky is not a solid dome -- until now we can only conceive of "heaven" as some kind of transcendent "other".

      English is a most convenient language for this way of thinking, since our older word for "sky" is only preserved in the sense of the dwelling place of God, while the more common word denotes only what we see when we look up from the ground. We therefore find it easy to separate the concepts. But as you observe, those words are the same in Hebrew, as they are in most other languages such as Greek. The ancients had no reason to separate the two concepts.

  6. Thanks for another brilliant post.

    I am trying to learn how to laugh at this church rather than be angry at it, even though I am the classic example of "the spouse who left, divorced and had the kids turned against her." Hurts unbelievably, but I wouldnt give freedom or reality up for anything.

    Your blog helps me to find the humor in all of this.

    Enjoy your break--you will be missed.

    1. ...that was by me, Morning Glory

  7. Hey David,
    You said you wrote a novel in your first paragraph. It appears it is a novel different than your blog. What is it about? Are you seriously approaching publishers with it?
    Morning Glory