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LDS Primary Lesson 5: The First Vision

January 28, 2011

My 4- and 7-year-old sons will be taught this coming Sunday that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus. The purpose of the lesson is “To help each child know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.” To be more accurate about it, the purpose should read, “To help each child know that Joseph Smith said he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.” The fact that he said this doesn’t make it true. It’s time to remind the children that when they hear a miracle story, they should ask themselves what is more probable, that the miracle actually happened or that the story is just that: a story.

The lesson has a couple of very interesting caveats: It says, “Angels might not appear to us; but if we ask sincerely, Heavenly Father will answer our prayers in the way that is best for us.” Indeed, angels will not appear to us because angels are no more real than dragons or unicorns (both of which are mentioned in the Bible). And “Heavenly Father will answer our prayers in the way that is best for us” is a classic justification—whatever the answer is to our prayers, it will be God’s will.

The other caveat is that “The children should not expect Heavenly Father and Jesus to appear to them to answer their prayers.” Why not? Because if God and Jesus don’t appear to answer their prayers, it might damage their faith?

There is no verifiable evidence that anyone has seen any god of any stripe. There are only stories.

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