May 31, 2009


In July 1984, a young woman was raped inside of her home. I want to clearly emphasize how horrible this must have been for her, and how no one on Earth should ever have to suffer such a thing. It should never have happened in the first place.

Unfortunately it did. The events that transpired afterward changed the way many people look at truth and personal conviction. The victim identified a suspect and swore under oath that he was the man that had raped her. Although the man's family swore that his alibi was legitimate, the victim continued to insist that he was the guilty man. There was some evidence that could link him to the crime, but it was nothing more than circumstantial.

What convinced the jury that he was the offender was the victim's testimony. She was absolutely certain that he was the man who had raped her on that horrible night. Because of her certainty, another victim of a very similar crime on the same night became convinced that he was also the one who had raped her. The strength of the testimonies convicted him of this and another rape, and he ended up sentenced to life plus 54 years for these two crimes.

Nearly 11 years later, however, DNA evidence proved beyond a doubt that he was innocent of the crimes. He was exonerated, and quickly forgave his accuser. The real rapist was then identified - an inmate who had confessed to the crimes years earlier (details).

What do we learn from this series of tragic events? The angle I would like to take for the purposes of this blog is to stress that emotional conviction alone is never enough to accept something as truth. As certain as the victim was of the identity of her rapist, it cannot (or should not) nullify the evidence.

This is not to say that emotional conviction is irrelevant. If there had been a DNA match with the suspect, it would be expected that the victim would also recognize him and swear that he was the right man. On the other hand, if she swore that he was the right man even after the DNA showed no match, would a jury be justified in disregarding the facts because she was "just so sure?"

Regarding the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, so many insist that they know the legitimacy of the Church because of their emotional/spiritual conviction. They just know. They don't need anything else. They ignore or explain away the evidence that the Book of Mormon was authored by Joseph Smith (see my outline for references), the fact that DNA and linguistic evidence points to Asia, not Israel, as the origin of the Native Americans. They excuse somehow that Joseph Smith wrote a book on Egyptian grammar that has nothing to do with Egyptian grammar, and that his interpretations of the facsimiles on the papyri have not been supported by respected Egyptologists. They somehow justify the facts that he married teenagers, married other men's wives without consent, lied to his own wife about the nature of these marriages, and had zero justification for doing so. They insist that there are perfectly good reasons that The Book of Mormon contains countless inaccuracies, impossibilities, and contradictions.

So many individuals continue to ignore or attempt to excuse these facts for the sake of their emotional conviction. So many do mental acrobatics to make these facts somehow explainable to fit their emotional conviction. Again, I argue that if the emotional conviction is right, the evidence should support the conviction. If the evidence does not support the conviction, maybe we, like the unfortunate rape victim, would be wise to rethink the validity thereof.

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