“I don’t like it when folks call other folks liars…even if the accusation is credible. It’s just not kind. “
– John Dehlin, Facebook, 25 April 2011.
Consistent with his philosophy, Dr. John Dehlin has called out and attacked the “bully” Scott Gordon for being deceitful, and maliciously lying about Dehlin’s personal beliefs about God.
“Scott Gordon,” blogged Dehlin, “and FAIRMORMON literally gave NO effort to be fair or even-handed with [their] comments. I don’t know what else to conclude than that he has the desire to malign, distort, manipulate, deceive, etc.”
Scott Gordon, it seems, was merely mistaken about Dehlin’s beliefs and inaccurately claimed that Dehlin believed that “there is no God” . This mistake is understandable, and was likely made in the light of the fact that Dehlin, in his own words, “certainly expressed doubt about God” in times past (Dehlin). Dehlin also stated in a 2012 interview with John Larsen and Zilpha Larsen that “the probability that God exists is quite low,” the idea of deity is absurd, and that he is “aware that [the probability of God existing] might be completely a product of my imagination” (Smith 39).
It may have been more accurate to state that Dehlin is some sort of agnostic or, at least, that he has atheist leanings (see note 2). But in either case, claiming that Scott Gordon was maliciously deceiving his audience is simply ridiculous and “not kind.”
Will I be labelled an internet bully for criticizing John Dehlin’s views like others have? Probably not. It is likely that Dehlin will never read this and therefore will never have the opportunity to do so. So far, though, Dehlin has labelled Daniel Peterson as a “pathological deceiver,” Scott Gordon as a “deceiving,” “manipulating,” “bully,” Stephen Smoot an “internet thug,” and has even stated that he heard from “50 people” that Thomas S. Monson suffers from “dementia,” a rumor (false) that exist even within the Church. The fact he so viciously attacks Scott Gordon for simply making a descriptive error while he merrily labels those how he pleases is telling.
1. Scott Gordon isn’t the only one who made this mistake. “Infants and Thrones” has, a little over a month ago, also made a similar claim that Dehlin is a “reluctant atheist.” Interestingly enough, Dehlin didn’t viciously attack “Infants and Thrones” for supposed smear tactics, deception, lying, or anything of the sort, as pointed out by Daniel Peterson. Yet, consistent with his inconsistencies, Dehlin is seemingly unwilling to pardon Scott Gordon for the same mistake.
2. It’s difficult to understand exactly what John Dehlin believes. On one hand, he has compared not believing in God equivalent to not believing in elves, trolls, and hobbits (as late as 2 June 2016) and refuses to self identify as not believing in those particular things. And, on another hand, one can spot him defending his belief in deity as late as 12 July 2016 in the comments section in his open letter to Gordon stating that “[i]n 5 minutes of searching I was able to find several of my public statements about my belief in God.” He would, it seems, like to be identified as a “truth seeker.” “I don’t think that I will ever identify as atheist or agnostic,” writes Dehlin. “While I have tons of respect for those who do (’tis not an easy lot)….here is my reasoning: If religion is made up/man-made…..then it doesn’t deserve a portion of my identity. After all….I don’t self-identify in reference to hobbits, or elves, or trolls. So why self-identify in terms of religious non-belief? How about truth-seeker as an identity? Your favorite way to self-identify?” John Dehlin, Facebook, 2 June 2016.
Dehlin, John. “A Public Request to Scott Gordon of FAIRMORMON.” Mormon Stories. N.p., 12 July 2016. Web. 14 July 2016.
Smith, Gregory L. “Dubious “Mormon” Stories: A Twenty-First Century Construction of Exit Narratives.” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.