Ep 474 – Week of Tannehill – The Devil

Panel Discussion

Posted April 19th, 2018

Bob, Jake, Glenn, and Matt talk to Mike Tannehill about the devil — and evil – and his whole develish role in the Plan of Salvation — and a whole bunch of other stuff.  This episode was originally published in Oct 2014.





  • Jaasiel Rodriguez

    ¡Hermanos! ¡¿Como pueden dudar las verdades de el evangelio como expuestas por el pilar de la Fe que es el Hermano Tannehill?!


    Sorry for the wall of text, but your discussion really got me thinking. I always had a lingering doubt about the whole devil thing, though I also had a late night experience where I felt that inexplicable terror and influence.

    My belief in the devil came to an end when I went through a psychosis and first experienced a strong anxiety medication. It immediately became apparent that my perception of morality had much to do with biochemical processes in my mind.

    It’s a challenging thing to accept. However, I thinks it’s better to accept that our perception of morality can be very subjective and start to tackle morality from psychology and neuroscience, rather than work from stories that can at best be metaphors but are usually diversions and dead ends. You guys brought a few of those stories that were really good examples of needless stories.

    The “Veil” and “Pre-existence” is a good example because it makes the discussion about an empirical view of our consciousness as well as the current state of affairs into one about something that is unobservable. For example, I once asked a religion professor and stake president at BYUI about why it took Martin Luther King to accomplish a change in the US. He told me that the only way he could explain it was with the “pre-existence”. That changes the conversation about the historical immorality of people, and our tribal tendencies, and makes about something that can’t change. It’s a tool for ending conversation when the subject can bring up doubt. Why should women be in the home? And the fundamental argument is that they have an eternal property in their soul, which comes from before the veil. There is no way to validate that, and therefore the conversation ends as to why women have been relegated to a confined position across history.

    Another great example is when you took Señor Tannehill to task about why the devil does things like present an army of demons. Mike’s retort is that one is assuming that the devils want to be seen, which is a correct observation. Except, that’s the problem with these stories and “accounts”: both assumptions are valid. There is no real way to distinguish which is the correct assumption. How is that a useful tool for moral evaluation? It’s ambiguous in the way a propaganda statement from a totalitarian regime or a marketing agency plays with the meaning of words and statements, neither of which form particularly good moral systems.

    Mike himself shows the problem this creates. He says that no one who left the mission field because they gave up is going to publish that. He takes a problem which has a strong mental health dimension, and makes it about people’s spiritual weakness, with the overall implication that it was the devil tempting missionaries. By doing so, it makes the core of the problem ambiguous and untestable. It casts doubt on an empirical analysis of what those people who leave are experiencing.

    This may seem harmless to Mike because he doesn’t experience mental health as a result of chemical imbalances, but to a person who has experienced that, a belief that the devil is causing the suffering can be poison. It takes their problem and makes it metaphysical, when it could be that a person needs medication, or even just more sun or athletic development.

    Anyways, gracias for the discussion compas, even if it’s a few years old! It was awesome! Much love from LA!