In his massive 480 page book, Deconstructing Mormonism: An Analysis and Assessment of the Mormon Faith, published by American Atheist Press, Thomas Riskas is the first author to use the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) against a different religion, Mormonism. On page xxxiii he writes that it:
...is beneficial to all believers, and is therefore important enough to present at some length below, and to reference repeatedly throughout this book as a reminder and invitation to readers.I had mentioned his book in the introduction to The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion Is True.I said I hope others who plan on deconstructing different religions should consider doing the same thing in their books. Anyway, based on a review on Amazon Riskas does such a superb job even a Mormon apologist admits he cannot answer him. He wrote:
I have been a Mormon Apologist on the Internet now for over 15 years. There is NOTHING I cannot take apart, refute, and show to be fallacious, wrong, incorrect, warped, weird, and wrong headed, .......until now. What is it about this book that has so eviscerated Mormonism, and in turn ALL Western Christians faiths?
This is not a mere will-o-wisp book or a simple pimple either. It is a huge, brawling 480 pager packed with intense analysis, incredible discussion, penetrating, sincere, serious, and very, very pointed questions for Mormons in the faith. Very dense book, very thorough book analyzing the Mormon concept of God, faith, revelation, (on revelation pp. 297-303 is simply going to blow your minds, but read the first 296 pages FIRST!), plan of salvation, and reality. And his entire analysis and critique can be applied to any and all faiths across the boards, astoundingly enough! I am more than serious here. You Christian who want to get one up on Mormonism, you just go right ahead and use Riskas. You best be dang good and sure you realize, however, that his critique is clearly, obviously, and very powerfully fully taking your own beliefs and knowledge completely apart leaving you in ashes and dust also.
Now for a confession. I am singularly *unprepared* to deal with this. What?! An apologist for almost 2 decades ***unprepared***? Having tackled innumerable anti-Mormon and idiotic pro-Mormon (you simply have no idea how indubitably silly some conservative Mormon apologetics is, I mean you just have NO IDEA!) thinking for years, reading literally hundreds of books of all kinds and types to broaden my education and ability to discuss intelligently the reasons Mormonism is viable? Am I serious? Unfortunately, yes, I am. Here are a few reasons why I feel completely inadequate to the task of taking on Riskas. I, as a Mormon (and the serious VAST majority of all the rest of you Christian in the Western World have had this problem as well, don't you even pretend you don't), have been told what to think my entire life. I came to recognize this a few years ago actually, and have actually gotten a rather horrid taste in my mouth for apologetics. We as Mormons are simply never taught HOW to think, we are only taught WHAT to, and we in our simple minded non-thinking, non-critical, naive as sheep way, have simply believed in WHAT we have been told. And everything we read is geared to simply reinforcing what we have been told. Thomas Riskas has shown me the cost now of being raised and kept in abject ignorance of HOW TO THINK through theology ALL THE WAY TO THE LOGICAL, EVIDENTIAL END. This is ***critical*** to grasp. We always (we - meaning we Mormons and ALL the rest of you Christians, whether you admit it or not) stop at the faith-promoting points whether in scripture, or listening to inspired leaders (who also always make sure whatever is taught and said ends up building testimony, not analyzing viable contrasts), or reading church related literature. The simple Sally, Dick, and Jane mentality that has been spoon fed to us for decades has now come home to roost with some very powerful evidence that our faith is simply not prepared for *real* thinking, *real* knowledge, and *real* problems of DOUBT, that dastardly devilish doubt, that we all have, we all are taught to fear and think is of Satan, and that we all ignore, entirely to our perils, either sooner or later. Because we have been conditioned to simply have faith and believe, have faith and believe, have faith and believe, the sledge hammer of logic and doubt is now shattering the glass of faith.
I have recently, this year (2012) have begun reading atheist materials, because I want to give all side a FAIR hearing, and I want to understand all sides arguments, logic, etc. Having read through many texts by John W. Loftus, George H. Smith, Christopher Hitchins, Richard Dawkins, Victor J. Stenger, Sam Harris, Dan Barker, Hector Avalos, and others, I can plainly see why Christianity doesn't have a chance, biblically, logically, or spiritually. However, now I am forced to wear that shoe against Thomas Riskas' research and discussion. Good heavens, HOW are we Mormons going to have a chance now that our faith and doctrines have been every bit as much and powerfully deconstructed by Riskas as the Christian faith has been deconstructed by the new atheists? What makes Riskas' book so powerful, so thorough, and so.....well, just so......unforgettable, is that he is the very first person that I am aware of, I mean this literally, the very FIRST person to LITERALLY take us through every single assumption we have been taught and accepted as true and factual reality and absolute truth about God, the plan of salvation, faith, and spiritual experiences, and shown us the complete weaknesses of our assumptions which we think are factual truths and eternal laws and absolute objective realities.