Inoculation means making sure children learn about the doubt-raising stuff somewhere along the way. The Gospels’ chronology cannot be reconciled! Evolution and geology! Joseph Smith was credibly accused of marrying whats-her-name! Neuroscientists don’t believe in free will! Zelph the White Lamanite!

If raised by faithful parents and teachers, the kids won’t feel that things are being kept secret and will better be able to work through the concern and can be given contextual information and apologetics and the case against and so on.

Sure. Fine by me.

There can be real downsides of doing it too soon or too late; of giving too much information; of inoculating too much instead of focusing on the Gospel; of advancing with too much certainty a facile apologetic response that gets blown up later; etc.

But my main problem with inoculation as it is usually done is twofold.

First and least is the sense of smugness that often accompanies it. There is often a feel of ‘now you know the real secret story unlike all those dumb naive people.’ Inoculation is inoculation, not gnosis. This kind of pseudo-inoculation is usually worse than no inoculation at all. A better way of inoculating is, ‘here is some information that sometimes bothers people. Here are some reasons why people who were bothered by it got over it. We believe. Questions? Moving on.” The best approach is just to mention it along with the other information without flagging it as a problem particularly. “They had lots of trouble in Zion’s Camp. Joseph Smith got in a fistfight with his brother. Everyone was quarrelling with each other. They got sick. There were miracles too. Let me tell you about one . . . ”

But my biggest problem is that inoculation usually accepts the frame that these are reasons for doubt. Whereas what they really are is opportunities for increased understanding. These problems are not always just things that need to be rebutted or explained away. They are sometimes areas where, taking them down from the shelf from time to time, you will eventually deepen your knowledge of God and the gospel. Treating them as a problem shuts down those kinds of future inquiries.

That is why, in some sense, I am a spiritual anti-vaxxer.

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