Dr Moore wrote:
I read Ostler’s interview of McMurrin
today (1981). He presented as a balanced and thoughtful individual at the time - and with an admitted heretic no less - as a student, if I am reading the preface correctly.
So, what happened?
When and why did Ostler don the mask of the raving lunatic thug who blasts anonymous heretics as cowards? What traumatic event catalyzed his metamorphosis from nuanced student caterpillar into the Menacing Moth of Mormon Madness?
I would take a stab at saying a few things happened as I perceive it. One, the internet. No, sincerely! Now everyone has a voice and control is truly gone for any organization to control information.
Two, Ostler's life work his magnum opus on the Mormon Theology of God is, for the most part, simply ignored. For one thing it didn't get very much printing at all, and I was astoundingly fortunate to get the entire set! And, the public just simply aren't interested in seeing yet another Christian sect get some points up on a different Christian sect, in this case, Mormonism up some points on traditional Christianity. The world yawned at the years of laborious and loving labor Ostler went through and it appears to be very ungrateful and unimpressed. THAT can be a canker on an ego soul, without question. After all, he was banking on making quite a few conversions with it, and so far as I can gather, no one has joined Mormonism based on Ostler's life long and loving work. And none of us are going back either based on his magnum opus. This is a no win for Ostler, a no relevance that tanked years and years of his life.
He missed a fantastic opportunity when the window actually opened for him of taking on the 4 Horsemen of atheism when the New Atheism was born, he could have tackled them, but instead went for the blase and truly beyond knowledge of 99% of humanity against Christian philosophers of which literally no one reads, and literally no one gives a flying flip about.
Now that the New Atheism made its case, there is no point in contending with them, they have moved on as has everyone else. But what it did is bring in a fresh and brighter crop, much more nuanced and intellectually able atheists of whom the Mormon apologists refuse to touch with a ten foot pole (to steal a Nibleyism from the old man himself).
I have in mind Michael Martin. I have in mind Kai Nielsen, and James A. Lindsay, Marshall Brain, Richard M. Gale, Nicholas Everitt, Matthew S. McCormick, David Eller, Scott F Aikin & Robert B. Talisse, A. C. Grayling, and those sophisticated philosophical atheists, not the loud mouth blabber mouthed publicity seeking ones that Mormons every now and then pretend to take on, but merely comment on a mere weakest argument they present, and continue to cherry pick even the weakest atheists
! I have yet to see a Mormon actually take on the strongest arguments of Dawkins, Hitchins, or Stenger yet. Harris I am not that familiar with, unfortunately. And you certainly won't see them even dare get into the cage with the above named litany of philosophical atheists I have listed, not with an integrity and actual wholesale refuting in a thorough manner as they did against Evangelicalism in the old FARMS days. But Evangelicalism was a weak kneed little 5 year old boy compared to the atheists, so it was blase and a cake walk to smash them to smithereens. Not so the atheists.
In short, deep down, Mormon scholars and apologists recognize that they have lost the war, but are afraid to admit it. I know that fear. I know
that fear. They are unaware that there really is a spectacular bright and loving and enduring light at the end of the tunnel, but they can't, nay, they won't look to it. It is sincerely no fun being on the losing side, and realizing that one is forced to defend it (the sunk cost fallacy), and hence their joyless existence and apologetic. It's drab, it means precious little, there is no enthusiasm, because there is no way out (in their minds). When one loses hope, anger prevails, one lashes out irrationally and emotionally, and with a great deal of vehemence, and that is where we see they are at. Thank goodness the anger phase can fade out as they move forward into the greater light, if they allow themselves that option.