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MD: 385: Honest Conversations About Faith: A Testimony of the Restored Gospel: w/ Jacob Hansen & Bill Reel

Rarely in Mormonism do people in disagreement sit down to enter conversations about the issues upon which they disagree with understanding and healthy dialogue being at the forefront. But LDS Faithful believer Jacob Hansen and Ex-Mormon atheist Bill Reel sit down to discuss a Mormon Testimony, how one could arrive at a LDS Testimony, and how one derives confidence in it. The goal of this conversation as well as any that may follow or come before is to create a space where both parties seek to best understand the other’s point of view and to have a safe space to add clarity and context to one’s perspective to ensure as little misunderstanding as possible. The hope is that these conversations give listeners a well rounded view of controversial issues so that they might be able to work out their own thoughts, beliefs, and perspectives in a safe environment and to show both sides that healthy disagreement can in fact happen.

Jacob Hansen Bio: Jacob is a Life long member of the LDS Church (His Mom is a convert) He served a mission in Argentina 2005-2007 Jacob graduated at BYU Hawaii with a Business Degree He is a Podcaster, Youtuber, Blogger He is the only one of his 8 siblings still active in the church. He has served primarily in the young men’s organization in his ward for the past 10 years including recently serving as 2nd and then 1st counselor in ward bishopric. Primary interests: Philosophy, History, Religion, Sailing, Surfing, JiuJitsu, Hunting, Adventures. He married his college sweetheart in 2010 and they have 4 kids.

Bill Reel bio: Bill was a convert to the LDS Church at 17 years old. He served as a Bishop in that same ward from the age of 29 to 34. While a sitting Bishop, Bill had a faith crisis and began deconstructing his beliefs going so far as to deconstruct Christ and God. While Bill is satisfied with the label of Atheist he also considers himself a mystic and drawn to secular Buddhism. Bill is the Executive Director for the Non-Profit Mormon Discussion Inc and host/co-hosts several podcasts including Mormonism LIVE and the Almost Awakened Podcast. Bill and his wife have been married 25 years and they have 4 children and 3 grandkids and they reside in Washington Utah



5 thoughts on “MD: 385: Honest Conversations About Faith: A Testimony of the Restored Gospel: w/ Jacob Hansen & Bill Reel”

  1. Wow! This was the hardest discussion with Jacob to listen to so far. As I listen to believers defend their position, I keep getting the sense that they forget that Bill (and myself) have been in their shoes, believed their beliefs. I’ve been on both sides of the argument of Mormonism. I actually have an advantage of perspective, having been on both sides. My thought processes, arguments, and beliefs have changed but I havent forgotten what they used to be. And just because I no longer belive with certainty in a God, doesn’t mean I cannot have valid arguments beyond God/no God. Not believing in God does not disqualify someone, particularly a former Mormon, from discussing a testimony of Mormonism.

    I also found it remarkably frustrating that Jacob kept demanding specifics, but when Bill started to get specific, he immediately back pedaled and said he didn’t know anything about it. (Bill is correct, most believers don’t know the specifics, and therefore they can’t even discuss them. It would not be faith promoting to look more closely at them.) On the other hand, Jacob insisted there was data that outweighed the non-faith promoting stuff, but he didn’t get specific. It felt a bit like he picked up an imaginary hammer to pound in his argument.

    I stayed with this episode right to the end. I think I deserve a cookie. LOL!

  2. Man this one was painful. I applaud Jacob for coming on the show but nothing that was presented spoke to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as being true other than the fact that Jacob Hansen said it. I kept waiting for him to get to the meat and it never came. All of his “rational” conclusions seemed farcical to me. The closest he got to any meat was intelligent design but he failed to realize that earth is only one possibility among millions and where that one possibility actually occurred would necessarily be the one that we all experience. Where one possibility exists among some huge number of opportunities approaching infinity that one possibility is nearly guaranteed to occur. Because it occurred once at earth it almost certainly has occurred in other parts of the universe that are yet unexplored by us. There is no way he could convince me that God is the most rational conclusion. I found it humorous that he thought he was using the most complete data.

  3. De Anna said a lot of the things that got my attention, too. Someone get her a yummy cookie! He said he knew about all the criticisms and still kept his faith, but then claimed ignorance of so many of the things Bill listed or was unable to give his personal reconcilliation to the things he actually seemed aware of.

    I applaud your patience, Bill.
    Jacob revealed so much of himself once it became your turn to speak. You gave him over a half hour of uninterrupted time to lay out his points, then asked for equal time to lay out yours. He agreed. But he could not let you go uninterrupted for more than a few minutes. He would jump in with “real quick…“ but would then go on at length to dispute your points or say why they were not relevant. Someone would need to run a timer, but I think Jacob probably spoke at least 2/3 of the time. It’s as though his nervous system could not tolerate the dissonance that he has been keeping at bay using the “reasoning” he constructed to keep his beliefs safe. He sometimes seemed desperate to NOT hear what you had to say.
    He kept objecting with “this was supposed to be about Testimony”. It obviously *was* about Testimony, but the logic and reasoning behind your deconstruction couldn’t be contained within the system he built to protect his beliefs. He repeatedly tried to diminish and straw-man your reasons saying “you could point to *every little thing*…” (even though your reasons were HUGE things – which is why he couldn’t let you talk about them). Or he would dismiss you with ‘it’s because you start with the premise that there is no god…’ so none of the rest of it makes sense to you – which totally disregards the fact that a belief in god was your original pre-critical-thinking premise.
    The discussion was very similar to my exchanges with Jacob on social media. He would claim that his church’s teachings produces morally superior outcomes, but he will never respond when you ask how the Mountain Meadows Massacre, for example, reflected that moral superiority.
    He is simply unable to logically process and address the problems with Mormonism.

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