Researching Unapproved Materials on the Internet

RESEARCHING “UNAPPROVED” MATERIALS ON THE INTERNET

("Unapproved materials" is not a quote from the church or its leaders and is highly misleading. Most who read the two quotes below will likely agree with them. They're good quotes.)

Elder Quentin L. Cook made the following comment in the October 2012 General Conference:

Some have immersed themselves in internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said the following in his CES talk “What is Truth?” (33:00):

...Remember that in this age of information there are many who create doubt about anything and everything at any time and every place. You will find even those who still claim that they have evidence that the earth is flat. That the moon is a hologram. It looks like it a little bit. And that certain movie stars are really aliens from another planet. And it is always good to keep in mind just because something is printed on paper, appears on the internet, is frequently repeated or has a powerful group of followers doesn’t make it true.

CES Letter, Page 122

It is surprising and puzzling that The CES Letter would criticize these comments of Elders Cook and Uchtdorf, which are true and wise in any context.

 “Some have immersed themselves in internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed.” (Emphasis added.)

Elder Dieter Uchtdorf explained: “Remember that in this age of information there are many who create doubt about anything and everything at any time and every place. You will find even those who still claim that they have evidence that the earth is flat. That the moon is a hologram. It looks like it a little bit. And that certain movie stars are really aliens from another planet. And it is always good to keep in mind just because something is printed on paper, appears on the internet, is frequently repeated or has a powerful group of followers doesn't make it true.” (Emphasis added.)

Any scholar would agree that any material that magnifies, exaggerates, or invents information is undesirable. Equally true is the observation that popularity or even consensus does not create truth. The criticisms of The CES Letter seem short-sighted.

The Church has never discouraged anyone to learn truth, regardless of the source. Falsehoods are the problem.

Joseph Smith taught: “One of the grand fundamental principles of "Mormonism" is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may” (TPJS 313.)

The Prophet also warned: “Avoid contentions and vain disputes with men of corrupt minds, who do not desire to know the truth. Remember that "it is a day of warning, and not a day of many words." (TPJS 43.)


Additional Resources:

Easier than Research, More Inflammatory than Truth (2000 FAIR Conference) by Daniel C. Peterson

Faith, Reason, Knowledge, and Truth –  by Richard N. Williams

Notes and Communications: Faith and Truth –  by John A. Tvedtnes

The Truth about Mormonism: A Former Adherent Analyzes the LDS Faith –  by Matthew Roper

FAIR Questions 1: Truth in other religions 0:05:31

To Help Advance the Pursuit of Truth as it Concerns our Way of Life — Ralph Hancock