A topic often discussed here is do the Apostles and Prophet really believe?
Damn good question that probably can't be answered but here are my thoughts. I think most believe but I don't think they believe in the same way we think they are supposed to believe.
I think they believe they do NOT get revelation or spiritual experiences any different than an average member. That's why they are so tight lipped about their "spiritual experiences," preferring instead, to relegate them to, "too sacred to talk about." They know they don't get revelation and visions like Joseph Smith and other prophets from the scriptures. But how can they still believe they are prophets and apostles if they don't get revelation or experiences in the same way? I think they have been taught and trained by their superiors as they work their way up the ladder, from Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, Quorum of the 70, Junior Apostle, Senior Apostle, then Prophet, that God speaks through the spirit and the "still small voice." They are taught that there is NO NEED anymore for grand visions or thus saith the Lord type revelations.
This all ended with Joseph Smith and maybe on very rare instances since then. I believe that they feel God gave most of the revelation and cannon of scripture to Smith and that the priesthood, structure of the church, and "course of the church" was set way back then and they see themselves more as "guardians" of this. They are similar to bishops or stake presidents. They are basically trustworthy managers of what God has already put in place. They believe that revelation still comes but not in the same form. They think that since the church is so well organized and established and run by solid trustworthy leaders, that God does not need to send angels, visions, and thus saith the Lord type revelations. They believe that the God expects THEM to do their best to guide the ship. To study things out. Come up with the best answer and that God only "confirms" what they decide through the warm fuzzies and still small voice.
It is similar to how we used to think that other people in the church must witness spiritual experiences on a grander level than us because of the position they occupy. When I was a kid I thought missionaries must have all these AMAZING spiritual experiences that I could never experience until I went on a mission. I was sorely disappointed when I struggled to feel the spirit any better than before my mission and that I struggled to see the kind of "miracles" I was supposed to see. I assumed bishops and stake presidents must be receiving these amazing revelations and powers of discernment for the members they attend to. I think may of you can testify that bishops and stake presidents were no different than the rest of us. Women seemed to have a more faith in the blessings and words that us men know were just us trying to come up with the right words to say. The spirit truly didn't flow through my mouth the way I thought it would before i received the priesthood.
I think on each level a leader moves up in rank in the LDS church, they are probably disappointed that their spiritual experiences and revelation are no different than before. They accept and try and justify it. By the time they are apostles they just accept the fact that they are not apostles and prophets in the same way as they read in the scriptures. They are convinced it is not necessary to receive grand revelations and that God expects them to do the work first and then they only receive warm fuzzies and still small voice as confirmation. I bet many of these guys might question a little. They probably feel a little insecure that they don't REALLY know the church is true, but they doubt their doubts, shove it down and try to ignore it.
Another factor in my mind to these men still believing is BIAS and the tribal factor. Most or all of these men have been born in the religion and indoctrinated from the beginning. Just like most people that are raised Republican in Republican states and people who were raised Democrat in Democrat states rarely change parties. Facts don't seem to change their mind. They are simply biased. Humans are tribal in nature and if they were born into or joined a "tribe" they rarely leave it. They become emotionally attached to this tribe or "their team." The defend it to the end. They are willing to dismiss evidence or logic to the contrary.
A final factor is that they are ONLY surrounded by those who believe the same way. There is incredible group think and social pressure to go along and stay on the bandwagon when you have no dissenting voices. We experienced this when were members, but it can only be so much more for GA's and apostles. I mean there are NO opportunities for these men to be honest with themselves or be influenced by non-Mormons. They sit around in meeting with the same apostles all day long and then meet with adoring fans (the lower level members). They don't live real authentic lives in any way. They are sheltered from the real world. I was similar to this when I was on my mission.
All these things together might be factors to why GA's still believe.
My first girlfriend told me once that she an amazing spiritual experience while riding a bus through the South American countryside, but got upset and gave me the "too sacred and I wouldn't understand it" thing when I asked for details, because it was her own personal and intense experience.
I think the the truth is...she had an orgasm on a bumpy ride.
OK, now that *that's* out of the way, the thing I think is scary is that some of these GA's, if they really are believers, will take some tiny little thought that comes across their minds and actually BELIEVE that it's a still, small voice or some kind revelation.
In other words, they don't realize that it's a randomly firing neuron or subconscious thought floating to the surface and NOT God talking to them. There are plenty of homeless people that believe that.
I think they do. I have a TBM friend whose family is one of the elite of the area. They are Relief Society Presidents, Temple Presidents, etc. They took part in the building of the chapel.
They absolutely believe, without question. Anything which seems to contradict the truthfulness of the Church is dismissed outright as miscommunication or outright lies. "I'm sorry, but that information is just plain wrong. You have your truth and I have mine. Heavenly Father will explain it one day."
So if they believe, I'm sure that the higher ups do too.
I think it's more complicated than that. I think some of them believe, and others pretend to believe. I met a member of the presiding bishopric on my mission. He struck me as someone who didn't really believe what he was telling us. Maybe he did and I am wrong, but I honestly think it's a mixed bag.
I think even if they didn't believe, they would believe that the ends justifies the means.
Kind of like drug dealers, they know the sheep need their drugs and they don't want the sheep to suffer pain or withdrawl.
Plus, I think they believe the church maintains order and provides a unified outlook. They keep up the charade for the good of it and to maintain the status quo.
There are probably others who have invested so much that they can't allow it not to be true.
For others, the church is their way of being Bigman in the tribe that gives them position, respect and self-importance. With a few exceptions, they don't have to compete in the real world. They are big fish in a small pond.
It appears that Grant Palmer spoke with a GA, who told him that the new Apostles eventually learn that the Church is not true, but that they are given a million dollars to keep quiet. Also, the only people chosen to be Apostles are people who are "Church broke", people who are so loyal that they would probably still support the Church even if they learned it was not true. New Apostles slowly learn the Church is not true, and by the time they become one of the top 6, they know the Church is not true. I saw this on Palmer's website and somewhere else, so I'm guessing Palmer did write it, although it's possible he didn't.
Nope - they know it's a fart. They keep it going because members wouldn't know what to do if they found out the church was a fraud and scam perpetrated by 3 guys, plus, you can't forget the billions of dollars in tithing money that go into their pockets.
It makes no difference. They have all reached the point of no return. They are so deep into Mormonism that if they leave now it will destroy them. They have a better chance of keeping their reputations and fortunes if they just wait it out. It's doubtful that society will take them down to the level they deserve so they ride on the hope that they can keep up the charade and leave this world with their wealth and reputations intact. If they do know it's a scam, and I think they do, what will they gain if they reveal it? Nothing except their own self-respect.
They know J.S and B.Y were scum bags and the whole thing is made up. However, they've been given jobs to do and that job is to keep the corporation going. They find justification in the belief that they are helping families and cities by instituting what amounts to a community of people being taught morals and values based on traditional family unity by old fashioned biblical teachings with some wacky off the wall teachings as found in the D&C, temple ceremony etc. just enough to claim better then and more truth then other christian sects. Do good be rewarded do bad be punished. In their heads living a LDS life style by the book, straight as a arrow life will be more rewarding without the set backs of taking a chance of being progressive or different and losing family, friends or employment. The LDS life style is don't take chance's in life, follow the rules and guidelines and life will be easier. In their minds the LDS church teach's a conservative, obey the rules life style. In their minds it's seen as a good thing. Because they live in a bubble they will never see the harm it causes fist hand. They are sheltered from this on purpose so the primary goal of running a profitable business comes first and foremost. Anything opposed to that is old fashioned religious persecution. I feel through about half of the 20th century a lot of old crusty leaders believed. But in the year 2017, no not anyone of them really believes is true anymore.
They all know the whole thing is a scam, but the money trail and their reputations are the most important things in their lives. What I still can't comprehend though, is how in the world Uchtdorf could look in the video camera with a straight face and compare a cell phone with a rock. And how could anybody in their right mind believe him?!