Why “Show your shelf”? Isn’t the “shelf” analogy exclusively for people who have concerns with the restored gospel?
The shelf analogy refers to someone who has a question that they don’t have a good answer for, so they put it to one side (on the “shelf”) yet it still plays on their mind.
Some people talk about their shelf “breaking” under the weight of too many questions against the gospel but others feel that they have too many questions in support of the gospel that they don’t have good answers for. In some cases their “shelf breaks” and they become even more active in the gospel or return to church. This site helps to demonstrate that the analogy of a broken shelf is not something only experienced by those with concerns against the gospel.
Isn’t it a bit cheap to ask hundreds of questions without any attempt to answer them?
One of the aims of this site is to demonstrate that asking a simple question requires (in many cases) a long and complex answer. In other cases, the answer raises many more questions.
For example, if it wasn’t inspired, then how did Joseph Smith achieve such incredible and complex internal consistency while dictating the Book of Mormon (120 examples documented here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here)? One possible answer is that he had notes with all the important details on, but why did the witnesses say Joseph didn’t have any notes? When and where did he write these notes? Where are the notes now? How did Joseph afford the paper to write on? Why did Joseph say the Book of Mormon was true if having notes would mean he knew was a hoax? If Joseph knew it was a fraud, then why did he and his associates read from the Book of Mormon in Carthage Jail before they died? If you were in prison, would you read from a book that you knew was a hoax for comfort? And sing songs celebrating the hoax you had created?
How are these questions relevant to those with doubts?
Most people who read the questions on this site will find new evidences for the gospel. Most people will also consider the difficulty (“mental gymnastics”) of establishing a plausible alternative explanation for the Book of Mormon.
In the words of Jeffrey R. Holland:
If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages—especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers—if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, … a rock of offence,” a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.”Safety For the Soul, 2009
This site also demonstrates the reality that leaving the gospel doesn’t empty the shelf, it simply swaps the list of questions that are now sat on the shelf.