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Deconstructing Mormonism: An Analysis and Assessment of the Mormon Faith Paperback – May 15, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 558 pages
  • Publisher: American Atheist Press (May 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578840074
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578840076
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #969,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Since its inception in 1830, Mormonism has continued to gain prominence on the world stage as a unique form of Christianity embedded in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Mormonism not only holds that the Mormon Church was literally "restored" to the earth by `God' through direct revelation to its founder Joseph Smith, making it therefore the "only true" church of Jesus Christ, but regards itself as a "rational" theology, and a way of life that is beneficial to the social and psychological well-being and welfare of its adherents and society at large.

Deconstructing Mormonism explores these claims in depth. In the end three unavoidable conclusions are reached. First, Mormon theological truth-claims are ultimately false or incoherent, and therefore unjustifiable and unwarranted as truth-claims. Once deconstructed such truth-claims are found to be factually vacuous. At bottom, there is simply nothing to believe, leaving Mormons, like all theistic believers, with merely subjective, non self-justifying interpretations of brain-induced phenomena, and an irrational belief in their beliefs derived by self-deception. Second, the status of Mormon truth-claims, including their believed origin, makes Mormonism, like all other theistic faiths, an irrational belief system, and its adherents likewise irrational in holding such beliefs and asserting them as Truth. And finally, that at its darkest and most fundamental core, the Mormon faith, as an authoritarian and `revelation'-based social system, represents the worst in all theistic faiths, and is potentially, if not actually, one of the most personally and socially damaging, dangerous and destructive theistic religions of all. While the argued conclusions reached and personal criticisms made in this work will likely be troubling to honest readers of any faith (particularly parents raising their children in their faith), they will hopefully be therapeutic and liberating as well, leading them - defensive and resistant or not - slowly but surely back to their natural atheism, and to the path of mental health and intellectual integrity.

About the Author

Thomas Riskas was a devout member of the Mormon faith, serving for over 20 years in various teaching, missionary, and leadership roles as an ordained Elder, Seventy, and High Priest in the Melchizedek priesthood; experiences that provided him, along with his own personal studies and experiences in the faith, with the needed grounding in Mormon history, doctrine, religious practice, and culture to author this book.

Ever since his formal resignation from the church, he has considered himself a naturalist and secular humanist, entirely without belief in any gods or the supernatural. His personal passions are the study and therapeutic practice of philosophy and psychoanalysis in both his personal life and professional work as a lecturer, writer, and organizational psychologist and consultant.

About the Author

Thomas Riskas was a devout member of the Mormon faith, serving as a member of The Seventy and High Priesthood. After 20 years of devotion, he left the church in 2002. He had been a Mormon since his conversion at age 24. He served as a member in good standing in many teaching, missionary, and leadership roles. These experiences provide him with the needed grounding in Mormon history, doctrine, religious practice, and culture.

Ever since his formal resignation from the church, he has considered himself a naturalist and secular humanist, entirely without belief in any gods or the supernatural. His personal passions are the study and therapeutic practice of philosophy and psychoanalysis in both his personal life and professional work as a lecturer, writer, and organizational psychologist and consultant.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Very difficult reading!
lyleric
It would be a lie for me to say that this book hasn’t challenged my faith, or I think for anyone to say otherwise who has actually read and understood it.
Jim S.
We are all unprepared for this,......SERIOUSLY.
Kerry Shirts

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Jim S. on December 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading the other reviews and information provided in this site, I decided to buy it to see for myself what all the fuss is about. It didn’t take long to find out. After reading the Introduction I realized that this is indeed a serious book that presents a formidable challenge to the Mormon faith. Therefore, if you are a Mormon, as I am, please be advised that there is a real risk to reading this book, although I would argue that the risk it poses is worth taking.

Let me say up front that this is not a book for the uneducated or slight of intellect. The author seems to have written it for highly educated or otherwise intelligent or intellectually curious readers who are either critics or investigators of the Church, or are members of the Church who either have questions and doubts, or consider themselves loyal public advocates and defenders of the faith. Also, the author, now an Atheist, repeatedly makes it clear that his conclusions extend to other theistic religions as well.

Essentially, there are two main aspects to Riskas’ deconstruction of the Mormon faith. The first is his analysis of the foundational teachings of the Church, which comprise Chapters 3-6. In these Chapters Riskas brings into question the concept of the Mormon God and Godhead, the various aspects of the Mormon “Plan of Salvation,” and the Mormon doctrines of Revelation and Faith. The second aspect of the book is Riskas’ “psycho-social” assessment of the Church, which begins toward the end of Chapter 8, and continues in the Epilogue, Personal Postscript and Appendix A. In his assessment of Mormonism he brings into question the nature and interpretations of Mormons’ most sacred spiritual experiences and way of life, as well as the practices and culture of the Church as a social system.
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84 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Shirts on August 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
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. (See? That's one of the problems of Mormon apologetics, not to mention Christian apologetics, we get puffed up thinking we can refute anything, which just is not even factually true). What is it about this book that has so eviscerated Mormonism, and in turn ALL Western Christians faiths? A few words first. For one thing, this is simply not an easy book to read. It is *serious*. There is no other way to describe this. Now that being said, I believe Thomas Riskas is right to sincerely admonish readers to just make it through the first chapters as they lay the ground work for the rest of the book. This is important. By laying the ground work, you see the unrelenting and impeccable logic of his thoughts, analysis, and discussions along with the answers. I had to read and re-read quite a few of those first pages in the first few chapters over more than once. It is worth it for no other reason than to actually "get it" with the sheer force of the power of his arguments he develops in later chapters.

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!
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on August 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this 2011 book, Thomas Riskas (a former Mormon) has written an interesting philosophical (from the analytic tradition) critique of the faith of the Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon).

He describes his book, "the analysis offered in this book is conducted primarily as a question consisting of many questions regarding the sense and rationality of commonly professed and accepted doctrines and beliefs which constitute ... Mormon theology." (Pg. xxxix) He adds, "this book essentially consists of two books in one: my formal, more objective analysis of the Mormon faith and my formal and more personal assessment of the Mormon faith." (Pg. lx) "In my psychosocial assessment of the Mormon faith I argue---passionately at times---for the conclusion that the Mormon faith, as a belief system, is both psychologically harmful and dangerous to both believers and society." (Pg. lxii)

Here are some additional quotations from the book:

"My contention here is that faith in ANY 'God'---including the Mormon god---is NECESSARILY impossible, and therefore does not exist because the object of such faith as attested to is a factual non reality as conceptualized." (Pg. 187)
"...most all that Mormon believers can honestly and reasonably say... is that when it comes to their religious doctrines and beliefs they really do not REALLY care about knowledge and truth. They choose to believe the unbelievable on the problematic basis of conditioned feelings..." (Pg. 304)
"In my informed and considered judgment, the Mormon religion is on balance and at bottom not only an IRRATIONAL faith ... but a TOXIC faith as well." (Pg.
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