tension between faith and scholarship and move forward with an approach thatmaximizes the benefits to as many people as possible.It was teaching World Religions that convinced me that critical examination of religioncan only work in one direction. First, I need to distinguish spirituality from exclusiveclaims of particular denominations. I maintain a firm belief in spirituality and believe thatin addition to the primacy of personal experience, scholarship, history, and even scientificinvestigation can support the reality of spiritual phenomena. On the other hand, there arephilosophical, theological, and critical reasons for suspecting the claims specificreligions, namely:1) If there really is a supreme Creator of the Universe who interacts with all things, it islogical that He/She/They would be far beyond our comprehension.
2) Mormon theology (and I would say theology in general) supports the idea thatwhatever God’s form or nature, God adapts Himself (I use the pronoun flexibly) to ourunderstandings, expectations, and limitations (see 2Ne. 31:3, Ether 12:39; D&C 29:33;50:12; 88:46, which all imply that God speaks to us in a way we will understand morethan the way “things really are”).
3) Finally and significantly, study of the religions of the world and human historydemonstrates that humans conceptualize gods and the divine in their own image. Sowhatever the reality of God and spiritual truth may be, human religions clearly constitutecultural constructions designed to meet human needs and reinforce the values andpractices of leadership in the community. Most particular religions teach that theirs is thetrue way, or at least the best way!I believe that scholarship and critical analysis can support a denomination as beneficial oreven among the best, but not the “Only True Church.” So though I love the LDS Churchand find Mormon theology, scripture, and lifestyle better than any other religion withwhich I am familiar, I gently suggest that the idea that Adam and Eve were Mormons andthe subsequent story of the apostasy and restoration of truth and authority is untenable.Apologetic arguments and investigation can weaken counterclaims and thereby allow (orcreate) room to believe, but they cannot, in my view, create an overall theory moreplausible than the academic ones they are opposing.2