I was deeply impressed by Grant Hardy’s presentation at the recent FAIR conference. Hardy discussed four different types of conversations that Mormons might have about their faith (with academics, critics, faithful members, and wavering Mormons) and gave some advice and suggestions for each. In a nutshell, Hardy encouraged Mormons to err on the side of kindness and generosity, to acknowledge that we have much to learn from others, and to give more space for complexity, nuance, and alternative interpretations.
The entire presentation is terrific, but this quote in particular stood out to me:
When confronted with information that makes our beliefs seem unreasonable, … sometimes the best response may be to reexamine our own assumptions and expectations. I grew up thinking that evolution was false and that the Book of Mormon was a history of most of the inhabitants of ancient America. I no longer believe those things. Many criticisms can be summarized as “the basic claims of the Church are contrary to science, history, or ethics,” and as painful as it may be to hear that, such charges often have some validity and deserve careful consideration rather than an offhand dismissal or a snappy retort.