Religion: Beyond Belief

Devout Unbelief, Part 4

In the Mormon temple ceremony, Joseph Smith put forward a bold vision of what it means to be human: Men and women are gods in the making. Properly schooled and empowered, they can become anything, or, rather, everything, they can imagine. Smith’s vision for society was no less radical: With his fellow saints, he would […]

Devout Unbelief, Part 3

When a fellow mathematician asked the uncommonly brilliant John Nash how he could believe he was being recruited by aliens, Nash replied, “Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did. So I took them seriously.” How about Joseph Smith? Was he a crook, madman, […]

Devout Unbelief, Part 2

Why believe in the first place? How could an educated, otherwise skeptical person with a sense of humor believe in angels bearing golden plates? How could someone like Mormon genius, polymath, and liberal social critic Hugh Nibley, my intellectual mentor until I found unbelief in Berkeley, believe the story of Joseph Smith, and not just […]

Devout Unbelief, Part 1

Thirty-one years ago this month, I sat down one Saturday afternoon as a faithful Latter-day Saint to read the Book of Mormon. When I got up a few hours later, I was an unbeliever, and not just in Mormonism. That afternoon I became a born-again atheist. I am an atheist still. But that afternoon also […]