Soviet and Mormon Worldviews Closely Related

This is an old conversation from many years ago with a Mormon woman who read some of my chapter in my book. This is merely a cut-n-paste (with some slight edits for ease of reading) I kept from the forum.

My moniker is the “gears,” Johnna (the Mormon) is the “person.” And LDS, Latter Day Saints… are synonyms for Mormons.

Enjoy.

Johnna,

Hope your busy week was productive.  I am coming up to crunch time myself here soon with this round of classes.

Johnna said:

I do admit there are fellow saints who look at it this way.  My husband is one of them.

I wish here to applaud Johnna, she is at least admitting that many “Saints” view Heavenly Father’s nature this way.

  • Thank you Johnna for being honest. 

For the reader to continue they must understand what Johnna just did. Often times when Mormon Elders come to your door they will shy away from this because you are not initiated into the Latter Day Saint Church. And so, I will define the LDS “god” so the conversation is fully understood. I will pull some from my chapter, but first start out with a layman’s understanding of the Mormon “god,” and then get into the weeds a bit.


Defining the LDS “god”


  • Jesus of LDS (Mormons): Jesus was the first begotten son by Heavenly Father and Mother (one of many mothers, but presumably this one is the most important.  Polygamy is practiced in the Mormon top-tear heaven), Lucifer was also born of a sexual act in heaven, so Jesus and Satan are literally brothers – as we are all brothers and sisters, albeit most likely half-brother or sister.  During the judgment period Elohim, Jesus, and Joseph Smith will judge every Mormon and according to his works.  (I say his, because in Mormon theology women are consecrated to a Mormon man, so her salvation depends on his good works.  If he does not make it, in heaven she may become one of the many wives of a Mormon male that did make the cut, so-to-speak.)  Again, Jesus had to become exalted Himself to also attain the best Heaven so he to can be a god of his own world.  This godhood exaltation goes back to infinity in Mormon theology.  So Heavenly Father was once a man on a planet much like our, and he too had to attain exultation, he had a father, that father had a father, and so on. (Me)

Okay, here are some excerpts from my chapter further defining “god” by LDS leaders and Christian Apologists defining “god” more… first up is a seminary level Textbook for Mormon’s entering marriage via the Temple[1]:

“By definition, exaltation includes the ability to procreate the family unit throughout eternity. This our Father in heaven has power to do. His marriage partner is our mother in heaven. We are their spirit children, born to them in the bonds of celestial marriage.”

[….]

  • GOD WAS ONCE A MORTAL MAN
    • (1-2) He Lived on an Earth like Our Own
    • (1-3) He Experienced Conditions Similar to Our Own and Advanced Step by Step
  • GOD IS NOW AN EXALTED MAN WITH POWERS OF ETERNAL INCREASE
    • (1-4) Our Father in Heaven Lives in an Exalted Marriage Relationship
    • (1-5) We Are Literal Children of God, Part of His Family Unit

In other words, one with an elementary idea of the Judeo-Christian God can start to see a line of separation between the Christian God and the LDS “god.” Continuing with another LDS source:

The Father and The Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by The First Presidency and The Twelve — The scriptures plainly and repeatedly affirm that God is the Creator of the earth and the heavens and all things that in them are. In the sense so expressed, the Creator is an Organizer. God created the earth as an organized sphere; but He certainly did not create, in the sense of bringing into primal existence, the ultimate elements of the materials of which the earth consists, for “the elements are eternal” (D. & C. 93:33) [2]

A friend comments on the issue:

The Latter-day Saint god lacks eternal omniscience, aseity, supremacy, sovereignty, and omnipotence…. The god of Mormonism does not need to exist for the intelligibility of human experience. He cannot supply the transcendental conditions that are needed for the laws of logic, love, and morality. Van Til contended that “the general precedes the particular” in our reality. This implies that the particular exalted man of Mormon theology cannot supply the general and universal realities that must be, for the necessary and unavoidable transcendental conditions listed above. A restricted and fixed exalted man cannot be the indispensable foundation for the unity of experience and knowledge.[3]

Richard Abanes points out some of these ideas in his exhaustive history of the Mormon Church:

…there is a “limitless” amount of cosmic spirit matter known as “intelligence,” out of which Elohim and Heavenly Mother made countless spirit babies via celestial sex.  Their ethereal unions somehow siphoned off portions of that great ocean of cosmic “intelligence” and clothed each of these portions with a spirit body. The resulting offspring not only bore their image, but had resident within them the potential for godhood, an attribute of Heavenly Father and Mother…. Countless souls, say LDS leaders, have already attained godhood. Orson Pratt theorized: “If we should take a million of worlds like this and number their particles, we should find that there are more Gods than there are particles of matter in those worlds.”i Brigham Young, much less willing to calculate the number of gods, admitted: “How many Gods there are, I do not know. But there never was a time when there were not Gods.”ii These teachings inspired the popular Mormons couplet: “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”iii [4]

To make this point further, Francis Beckwith mentions that “[s]ince [g]od the Father of Mormonism was himself organized (or spirit-birthed) by his [g]od, who himself is the offspring of yet another [g]od, and so on ad infinitum, Mormon theology therefore implies that the [g]od over this world is a contingent being[5] in an infinite lineage of gods.”[6]  Concurring, Mormon theologian B. H. Roberts, a member of the First Council of Seventy, writes:

Not even God may place himself beyond the boundary of space: nor on the outside of duration. Nor is it conceivable to human thought he can create space, or annihilate matter. These are things that limit even God’s omnipotence. What then, is meant by the ascription of the attribute of Omnipotence to God? Simply that all that may or can be done by power conditioned by other eternal existences—duration, space, matter, truth, justice—God can do. But even he may not act out of harmony with the other eternal existences which condition or limit him.[7]

This is very important, because it makes the god Mormons here on this world worship contingent on other beings and parameters for his being and godhood, which has deep ethical consequences:

Hence, when a Mormon says that god is omnipresent he is asserting that god’s influence, power, and knowledge is all-pervasive, but that the focal point of God’s being (that is, his body) exists at a particular place in time and space. Because the Mormons do not believe that the universe is contingent upon God to sustain its continued existence,[8] there is no need for the Mormons to defend the classical view of omnipresence…. Since God Himself came into being as God (although he existed in some state eternally), He cannot be the source and sanction of values. He Himself obeys laws and affirmed values for whose existence he is not responsible.[9]


Footnotes


[1] Achieving Celestial Marriage (Salt Lake City, UT: Church Educational System Department of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, 1998), 129.  I will attach this entire page in the appendix.

[2] James E. Talmage, A Study of the Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1959) 465-466. (Emphasis added.)

[3] Mike Robinson, Presuppositional Apologetics Examines Mormonism: How Van Til’s Apologetic Refutes Mormon Theology (Denver, CO: Outskirts Press, 2007), 71-72.

[4] Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002), 285, 286-287.

i Orson Pratt, February 18, 1855, Journal of Discourses (Liverpool, F.D. Richards, 1855; lithographed reprint of original edition, 1966), vol. 2, 345. In The Seer, Pratt wrote: “We were begotten by our Father in Heaven; the person of our Father in Heaven was begotten on a previous heavenly world by His Father; and again He was begotten by a still more ancient Father, and so on, from generation to generation, from one heavenly world to another still more ancient, until our minds are wearied and lost in the multiplicity of generations and successive worlds, and as a last resort, we wonder in our minds, how far back the genealogy extends, and how the first world was formed, and the first Father was begotten” (Orson Pratt, “The Pre-Existence of Man,” The Seer, September 1853, vol. 1, no. 9, 132; cf. Orson Pratt, “The Pre-Existence of Man,” The Seer, February, 1853, vol. I, no. 2, 23-24).

ii Brigham Young, October 8, 1859, Journal of Discourses (Liverpool: Amass Lyman, 1860; lithographed reprint of original edition, 1966), vol. 7, 333.

iii Lorenzo Snow, MS, vol. 54, 404. Quoted in Hunter, 105-106.

[5] Concept of contingent being:

Contingent beings have their explanation or sufficient reason in something other than themselves. A contingent being is anything that depends on something else for its existence.

Ronald H. Nash, Faith & Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988), 127.

[6] Francis J. Beckwith, Carl Mosser, and Paul Owen, gen.ed. The New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 224.

[7] B.H. Roberts, Seventy’s Course in Theology: Third and Fourth Year (Salt Lake City, UT: Caxton Press, 1910), 4:70; quoted in The New Mormon Challenge, 225;

[B.H. Roberts] added that “even [God] may not act out of harmony with the other external existences [such as duration, space, matter, truth, justice] which condition or limit him. “ Mormon theologian John Widtsoe maintains that belief in creation out of nothing does nothing but cause confusion: “Much inconsistency of thought has come from the notion that things may be derived from an immaterial state, that is, from nothingness.”  In addition to this assertion, Widtsoe asserts that God cannot create matter [out of nothing] nor can he destroy it: “God, possessing the supreme intelligence of the universe, can cause energy in accomplishing his ends, but create it, or destroy it, he cannot.”  The sum of matter and energy, whatever their form, always remains the same.

The New Mormon Challenge, 104, [see fn#6].

[8] The Bible has a different view on this, matter, let’s read from Colossians 1:16-17, first from the NASB, then from the Message Bible:

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995);

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

Eugene H Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002).

[9] Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish, The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1991), 43, 44. (Emphasis added.)

I don’t know if this clears up the defining aspect of the LDS “god,” but this is what Johnna is referencing as believing. Publicly! Not trying to obfuscate their understanding to a non-Mormon.


Continuing w/Convo


I may add here that she also admits that her husband thinks this way as well, she didn’t need to share this private nugget with us, but she chose to, thanks again.  Remember (speaking to the reader), it really doesn’t matter what Johnna thinks on the matter, her “goddess-hood” (i.e., salvation to the highest LDS heaven — or — she will be sealed to another LDS man/god she has never met) isn’t based at all on her thoughts on the matter. It is based entirely upon what her husband believes.  That’s the bottom line.

Johnna said:

I do believe that God (the Father, and the Son) are co-eternal with matter. Actually, I believe in some sense, as a child of God, I am co-eternal with matter, and so are you.

So the question is this then, based on what you said Johnna… how did the first “god” appear? The Judeo-Christian (theistic) God does not encounter this problem: “all that began to exist has cause.” YHWH (God) did not “begin” to exist, so He could’t have been created. However, these infinite regress of gods in LDS theology all had a cause. What kicked off the original “cause.” As an aside, we know an actual infinite regress of historical events is impossible. We know this from an ancient philosopher’s paradox of motion, Zeno. 

We would never reach an end of these historical events. In other words, you would not be “here” right now conversing about this matter. To extend my thinking on the possibility of these “gods” really evolving from this more base “eternal matter” are these quotes by Marxists philosophers showing Mormonism has more in common with atheistic dialectical materialism:

  • “…. ‘The electron is as inexhaustible as the atom, nature is infinite….’ Any form of matter possesses a complex structure and an infinite variety of internal and external connections and properties.”

~ V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 14, 262.  Found in Marxist-Leninist theory: The Fundamentals of Marxist-Leninist Philosophy (trans. from the Russian by Robert Daglish; Moscow, U.S.S.R: Progress Publishers, 1974), 76.

  • “And again: ‘The indestructibility of the atom, its inexhaustibility, the mutability of all forms of matter and of its motion, have always been the stronghold of dialectical materialism.’  Proceeding from the scientific facts of the structural heterogeneity and the inexhaustibility of matter, the diversity of the laws of motion, Lenin formulated a generalized [original spelling] philosophical concept of matter.”

~ Ibid, 280-81. Found in, Ibid, 74-75.

  • “Time is an objectively real form of the existence of matter in motion.”  [In other words, if matter is eternal, and the atoms motion is eternal, these need places to move and exist, ergo, time is eternal as well.]  “It characterizes the sequence of the occurrence of material processes, the separateness of the various stages of these processes, their duration and their development. ‘There is nothing in the world but matter in motion,’ Lenin wrote, ‘and matter in motion cannot move otherwise than in space and time’.”

~ Ibid., 175.  Found in, Ibid, 85-86.

  • “The Marxist-Leninist doctrine of the infinitude of the universe is the fundamental axiom at the basis of Soviet cosmology.” …. it is the first concern of Soviet scientists to refute the conclusions of an unavoidable ‘heat death’, which is often drawn from the second law of thermodynamics.  Since, according to this law, energy that has been transformed into heat cannot again be turned back entirely into higher forms of energy, our universe must be tending towards a state of affairs in which all higher forms of energy have been changed into heat and the latter in turn has been equally distributed throughout the entire universe, with the result that all macrophysical processes would have come to a standstill.”

~ Gustav A. Wetter, Dialectical Materialism: A Historical and Systematic Survey of the Philosophy in the Soviet Union (trans. from the German by Peter Heath; New York, NY: Frederick A. Prager, 1958), 436.

  • “Rozental’ and Yudin’s Short Philosophical Dictionary gives the following definition of ‘substance’: ‘….  For Marxist philosophical materialism, substance, i.e., essence, the ground of all things, consists in self-moving and eternally developing matter.”

~ Ibid., 292.

  • “The concept of space and time.  All material bodies have a certain extension: length, breadth, height.  They are variously placed in relation to each other and constitute parts of one or another system.  Space is a form of coordination of coexisting objects and states of matter.  It consists in the fact that objects are extraposed to one another (alongside, beside, beneath, above, within, behind, in front, etc.) and have certain quantitative relationships.  The order of coexistence of these objects and their states forms the structure of space…. Space and time are universal forms of the existence of matter, the coordination of objects.  The universality of these forms lies in the fact that they are forms of existence of all the objects and processes that have ever existed or will exist in the infinite universe.”

~ Alexander Spirkin, Dialectical Materialism (trans. from the Russian by Robert Daglish; Moscow, U.S.S.R: Progress Publishers, 1983), 77-78.

  • “To sum up, all objects and processes in the world are finite.  But the totality of finite things and processes is infinite.  The universe had no beginning, has no end and is inexhaustible…. The concept of beginning is meaningful when applied not to the universe as a whole but only to separate, specific things and processes, that is to say, to the finite.  We can set no limits to the universe as a whole.  It categorically forbids us to do so.  It is ageless [e.g., matter and motion].  It is infinitely old and eternally young.”

~ Ibid., 81-82.

Again, all this is to say is that Dialectical Materialism/Marxism has more in common with Mormon theology/philosophy than Mormon theology/philosophy has in common with Christian theology/philosophy. Both say matter is eternal. Both say consciousness came from this eternal state. Both say you can move through a thesis/antithesis to a synthesis. Both say this “evolving” never ends – and note the Mormon “god” continues to accumulate knowledge.

Johnna said:

Of course, I continue to consider myself Christian, and I certainly don’t consider myself an atheist.

An atheist could adopt a similar view in that evolution to a state where control of matter in a godlike fashion would be possible. Many naturalists hold to Eatern metaphysics, who have a similar view of matter being eternal. At this point I merely responded with an adapted excerpt from chapter one of Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson’s book, Questions to Ask Your Mormon Friend: Effective Ways to Challenge a Mormon’s Arguments Without Being Offensive (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1994):


Are They (LDS) Christians?


…The twelfth Mormon President Spencer W. Kimball said:

Latter-day Saints are true Christians. We cannot understand how anyone could question our being Christians. It would certainly be a reflection upon anyone who would say such a thing, because if they attended even one session of any meeting of this church, they would come to realize that every prayer and every song and every sermon is centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are the true followers of Jesus Christ; and we hope the world will finally come to the conclusion that we are Christians, if there are any in the world. (Edward L. Kimball, ed., The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 434).

Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie stated:

Mormonism is Christianity; Christianity is Mormonism; they are one and the same, and they are not to be distinguished from each other in the minutest detail…. Mormons are true Christians; their worship is the pure, unadulterated Christianity authored by Christ and accepted by Peter, James, and John and all the ancient saints. (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 513)

Rex Lee, the president of LDS-owned Brigham Young University, felt that it was “ridiculous” to not consider Mormons as Christians. He added:

I assume that qualification as a Christian turns mainly on belief in Christ. Mormons not only qualify as Christians under that definition, but they have also given broader meaning to the definition itself. (Rex Lee, What Do Mormons Believe?, p. 19)

The LDS Church has been striving in recent years to gain acceptance as a Christian religion. Although the LDS Church has been very successful at polishing its image, it has never backed off from its many heretical doctrines, which distinguish it from Biblical Christianity. While many Mormons claim that they should also be entitled to the name “Christian,” many of these same Mormons would be equally offended in Bible-believing Christians insisted on being called “Mormons.”

>>>>>>>>>>>

Imagine the Mormons’ reaction to the following statement:

I’m a Mormon but I don’t believe Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. I’m a Mormon but I don’t believe that God was once a man or that men can become gods. I’m a Mormon but I don’t believe the Mormon Church is the only true church or that we need human prophets to guide the church. I’m a Mormon but I don’t believe the Book of Mormon is the Word of God. I’m a Mormon but I don’t believe temples are necessary or that couples can be married for eternity.

A knowledgeable Latter-day Saint would defy that such a person was, in fact, a true Mormon. why? Because this person who claims to be Mormon denies the very doctrines that make Mormons what they are. At the same time, however, a Mormon who claims to be Christian denies the very doctrines that make Christians what they are. 

Indeed, Mormonism denies or distorts the basic tenants of Biblical Christianity. The two religions are incompatible. The areas of difference include the (1) doctrine of God, (2) the basis for authority, and the (3) idea of salvation for mankind.

Brigham Young University professors Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks ask “anti-Mormons” to refrain from calling Mormonism a cult. They ask that “more neutral terminology [be used], such as ‘religious movement,’ ‘religious group,’ or ‘church.’” I would do this, but in return I would ask the Mormon Church to quit attempting to use the name “Christian” to describe its “religious movement.”

Unlike many contemporary Mormons who desire to have equal status within Christianity, many LDS leaders have gone out of their way to deride these same Christian churches. Throughout the history of the LDS Church, its leaders have continually taught that Mormonism is far superior to the Christian denominations.

Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, made the first attack on Christianity when he claimed to have asked God, in 1820, which of all the churches was correct.  He was answered that “I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight; that those professors were all corrupt…” (Joseph Smith’s Testimony, 1:13).

According to Smith, Christianity was not in need of reformation. Rather, its corruption was so severe that a complete restoration was necessary. Drs. Peterson and Ricks attempted to downplay the severity of Christianity’s “depravity” by claiming that Smith merely referred to the local churches at the time of his youth. They write:

What the Lord told Joseph Smith in the grove was that the churches and creeds of 1820 were defective and distorted by error. He did not say that they were entirely and utterly wrong (since they preserved much truth), nor did he say that each and every Christian church would always be wrong…. He did not say that Christianity, as such, is false. There is nothing logically wrong with saying that the churches of 1820 were incorrect on many important issues (“corrupt”), and then saying that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (organized in 1830) is true (Peterson and Ricks, Offenders for a Word, pp. 170-171).

Was Smith really referring only to the churches of 1820? To draw such a conclusion undermines the very existence of the LDS Church as well as goes against the pronounced statements of many Mormon leaders. Contrary to what these professors claim, Bruce McConkie seems to be more consistent with Mormonism’s overall attack on Christianity. Following a quotation of the Athanasian Creed, he concluded:

Is it any wonder that the Lord of heaven, as He stood by His Father’s side on that glorious day in 1820, speaking of all the churches in all Christendom, told young Joseph “that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight”? (McConkie, The Promised Messiah, p. 117, [emphasis mine])

What Smith supposedly was told by God – that there could only be one true church upon the earth – is supported by the Book of Mormon itself. It reads:

And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth ( Nephi 14:10).

McConkie described the “church of the devil” when he wrote:

What is the church of the devil in our day, and where is the seat of her power?…. It is all of the systems, both Christian and non-Christian, that perverted the pure and perfect gospel…. It is communism; it is Islam; it is Buddhism; it is modern Christianity in all it parts.  It is Germany under Hitler, Russia under Stalin, and Italy under Mussolini (McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, pp. 54-55, [emphasis mine]).

Doctrines and Covenants 1:30 confirms this idea of exclusivity when it says that smith’s restored church is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased….” Expounding on the idea that only two churches exist – the Church of the Lamb and the Church of Babylon – George Q. Cannon, a former member of the LDS First Presidency, said:

The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christendom, though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common origin. They all belong to Babylon. God is not the founder of them, yet there are many sincere people who belong to them. These Elders of the Church are commanded to warn, and they commanded to gather out. The Spirit of the Lord moves upon the people who will listen to His servants to leave Babylon and join the Church of the Lamb (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, p. 324, [emphasis mine]).

As indicated by the pretense of his statement, Cannon believed any non-LDS Church is part of Babylon or, as the Book of Mormon puts it, “the church of the devil.”

Christians and Mormons may believe in Christ’s literal resurrection, but Christians do not believe that Jesus went to Americas after His resurrection, nor that His resurrection merely paves the way for men to be resurrected (earlier post on salvation); they do not hold that Christ’s birth was a result of God the Father having sexual relations with Mary; nor do Christians believe that Jesus is a created being who was the spirit-brother of Lucifer.

Christians have never worshipped a God who, as the offspring of another God, became a mortal man and eventually attained godhood. Thay have also never worshipped a being who resides near a planet called Kolob.

Peterson and Ricks write:

At least until recently, Mormons have thought of conservative Christians as, in many ways, their allies…. Most Latter-day Saints can only shake their heads, therefore, at the claim that Mormonism is not Christian (Offenders for a Word, p. 57)

Despite the arguments made by these writers, Gordon B. Hinkly, first counselor to LDS President Ezra Taft Benson, disagreed that the differences are minor. Speaking of the uniqueness of his church while classifying it as Christian, he wrote the following in an LDS Church tract:

They [Mormons] are generally classed as Protestants, since they are not Catholics. Actually they are no closer to Protestantism than they are to Catholicism. Neither historically nor on the basis of modern association, theology, or practice, can they be grouped with either…. Suffice it to say that its theology, it organization, and its practices are in many respects entirely unique among today’s Christian denominations (What of the Mormons?, p. 2)

Mormon leaders since Joseph Smith’s day have continually emphasized the differences, not the similarities, between Mormonism and Christianity. A Christian who is approached by a Mormon who says Mormonism is “just the same” as the historical Biblical Christianity needs to realize that this Mormon either does not know Mormonism or does not know the tenants of the Christian faith.  As Clansman (a Mormon I debated on this particular web site where I posted this response) and others have consistently shown.

  1. That an actual infinite is possible;
  2. That there is an infinite regress of gods;
  3. The universe and gods exist co-eternally;
  4. That Jesus death on the cross was only for Adams sin;
  5. That Jesus is a god (one of an infinite), not God;
  6. That God didn’t create the space-time continuum;
  7. That any Spirit child could have done what Jesus did if he advanced as quickly as Jesus did. . . (in fact there could be a Jesus up there right now that has been exulted before getting his physical body, like Jesus did);
  8. That blacks were cursed spirit children who stayed neutral in the heavenly (Kolobly) war;
  9. That blacks will become white in heaven/Kolob, or a planet/heaven of their own;
  10. That Joseph Smith and others said ALL other churches were corrupt;
  11. That Joseph Smith has multiple First Vision accounts;
  12. That Joseph Smith used occultic practices to translate the Book of Mormon;
  13. That he had many, many wives;
  14. That LDS have added Scripture;
  15. That Brigham Young ordered the deaths of innocents;
  16. That Brigham Young had many, many wives;
  17. That Jesus had many, many wives (at least according to LDS);
  18. That the Book of Mormon claims to be a historical book yet not one iota of evidence for it can be found;
  19. That Heavenly Father has many, many wives (that yes, he screws for eternity, the LDS and Islam have something in common – also occult connections as well);
  20. That god, Heavenly Father, was once a man on a planet that may have owned a 7-11 type business and have been unfaithful to his wife before being exulted and following a LDS like path to it – exultation/salvation;
  21. That Heavenly Father had a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother who were also once human;
  22. On, and On, and On, and On – ad infinitum!

Of Spaghetti Monsters and Teapots

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy notes that “category mistakes” were a key cause to metaphysical mistakes:

Finally, the fallacy that Aristotle calls form of expression exploits the kind of ambiguity made possible by what we have come to call category mistakes, in this case, fitting words to the wrong categories. Aristotle’s example is the word ‘flourishing’ which may appear to be a verb because of its ‘ing’ ending (as in ‘cutting’ or ‘running’) and so belongs to the category of actions, whereas it really belongs in the category of quality. Category confusion was, for Aristotle, the key cause of metaphysical mistakes. (ARISTOTLE 2.1.4)

THE POACHED EGG includes CARM well reasoned explanation of the issue:

Matt Slick over at CARM writes, “A category mistake is an error in logic in which one category of a thing is presented as belonging to another category.  For example, to say “the rock is alive” assigns the category of life to an inanimate object.  Another example would be to judge the beauty of a painting based on how much it weighs.  This is a category error, since the category of beauty is not determined by the category of weight. So, for the atheist to work from inside his materialistic, non-transcendent worldview and require evidence for the non-material, transcendent God (which necessarily exists outside his perceived worldview) is a category mistake because it is asking for the material evidence of the non-material, the non-transcendent evidence of the transcendent.  It is like asking to have a thought placed on a scale.  It doesn’t work because they are different categories.”

Here are two challenges by an atheist troll which I take up (click to enlarge):

This is with a h/t to Detective Wallace, and comes via THE POACHED EGG as well as the original author, ANSWERS FOR HOPE:

There is a fundamental distinction between the way that Christian apologists approach proving a negative, and the way that atheists approach proving a negative. The distinction is that Christian apologists give good reasons to accept that something doesn’t exist or isn’t true, whereas atheist apologists will commit a fallacy known as an argument from ignorance. The atheist will say “If you can’t prove to my satisfaction that God exists, then I am justified in not believing.” It is an argument from ignorance to say that “X” does not exist because it hasn’t been proven to my satisfaction. However, Christian apologists will say, “We have good reasons to not accept your claim.” and then will proceed to give those reasons.

The Conflict of Worldviews

Since science alone can not test the validity of worldviews, we must use other methods to test claims in which science itself cannot test. You might ask, how can we tell how a worldview is valid or invalid? The mark of something that is not true is inconsistency. What we must do is take all of the presuppositions of a worldview into account, and follow those presuppositions to their logical conclusions. If any of these presuppositions are shown to be internally inconsistent while following them to their ultimate conclusion, then that worldview is false.

In this case, since the atheist is arguing for The Flying Spaghetti Monster, we must take the properties of the Flying Spaghetti Monster into consideration when arguing against it.

The Problem for the Atheist

It should be recognized that when the atheist is arguing for a deity in order to refute any type of theism, including Christianity, that the atheist is forsaking their own worldview for in favor of another. The presuppositions of Pastafarianism are inconsistent with the presuppositions of atheism. Since the arguments and objections that atheism brings to the table in regards to Christianity are not sufficient, it is necessary for atheists to posit something as absurd as a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Since the presuppositions of Pastafarianism are inconsistent with atheism, when they adopt this worldview to try to challenge the Special Revelation of Christianity, they are actually forsaking their own belief that no gods exist. If the arguments that atheists used against Christianity were so consistent, there would be no need for them to mention the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It seems that the atheists have not realized that if could successfully prove the existence of a Flying Spaghetti Monster, then atheism would be false. The Flying Spaghetti Monster undermines the entire atheist worldview.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster

The Flying Spaghetti Monster concept was revealed to the public when an atheist named Bobby Henderson wrote a letter to the Kansas State Board of Education in regards to a decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes.(1) Intelligent Design proponents responded by saying that his letter unwittingly proved the ID movement’s point, because ID does not say or try to conclude who the designer is. Nevertheless, The Flying Spaghetti Monster became a popular objection to Christianity and all other forms of theism, even though that doesn’t appear to be what Bobby Henderson’s original intention was.

[….]

1. Pastafarianism only entertains relative moral values at best.

2. Pastafarians live as if objective moral values exist.

3. If a Pastafarian lives as if objective morals exist while claiming that morals are relative, then the pastafarian worldview is self-contradictory.

4. A self-contradictory worldview cannot be true.

Conclusion: Therefore, Pastafarianism is false. (A cosmological argument against flying spaghetti monster.)

(read it all)

Prior to the “FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER” hypothesis there was the CELESTIAL TEAPOT ARGUMENT:

So the Flying Spaghetti Monster is just a rip off of earlier thinking. But, here is the refutation of it:

Brian Garvey, a lecturer in the philosophy of mind and psychology at Lancaster University, has written an article (referenced here) exploring Russell’s famous celestial teapot. The article, Absence of Evidence, Evidence of Absence, and the Atheist’s Teapot (PDF), appears in in the latest volume of Ars Disputandi, a philosophy of religion journal hosted by Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Here’s the abstract:

Atheists often admit that there is no positive evidence for atheism. Many argue that there is nonetheless a prima facie argument, which I will refer to as the ‘teapot argument’. They liken agnosticism to remaining neutral on the existence of a teapot in outer space. The present paper argues that this analogy fails, for the person who denies such a teapot can agree with the person who affirms it regarding every other feature of the world, which is not the case with the atheist vis-a-vis the theist. The atheist is committed to there being an alternative explanation of why the universe exists and is the way it is. Moreover, the analogy relies on assumptions about the prior plausibility of atheism. Hence, the teapot argument fails.

And a quote:

“There is, I want to argue, a significant difference between denying the existence of a teapot orbiting the sun, and denying the existence of God. When two people disagree over whether or not there is a teapot orbiting the sun, they are disagreeing over whether the world includes that particular item or not. For all that that particular disagreement implies, the two people agree about every other feature of the world: the tea-ist believes in a world that is exactly the same as the one the a-tea-ist believes in, with the single difference that it contains one item that the a-tea-ist’s world doesn’t contain. Since, as I have argued in the previous section, the only thing that could count as evidence for the teapot orbiting the sun is that someone has seen it, it is in one way analogous to a situation where one person says: ‘there’s a postbox at the end of the high street’ and the other person says ‘no there isn’t, go and have a look’, and the first person goes and looks and doesn’t see one. If that person is reasonable, that will be the end of the argument. The two situations are not quite analogous, however, in that no-one has gone and looked to see whether there is a teapot in outer space. But the situations are disanalogous in a second way too, and a way which helps to illuminate why, in the absence of evidence, it is reasonable to conclude that there is no such teapot. That is, that there is nothing manifestly far-fetched in the idea of there being a postbox at the end of the high street. In the absence of seeing one (leaving aside the possibility of more indirect evidence, such as seeing a map of where all the postboxes are at the GPO) one is hardly being unreasonable if one doesn’t come down on one side or the other. And this difference between the postbox and the teapot tells us something about why it is unreasonable to suspend judgement regarding the teapot, even though we have not only failed to see one, but failed to carry out anything remotely approaching an exhaustive search. Because of its manifest far-fetchedness, or what amounts to the same thing, because it’s reasonable in the absence of prior evidence on the specific hypothesis to estimate that it’s highly unlikely, we can say that, when it comes to teapots orbiting the sun, absence of evidence is evidence of absence. The atheist’s argument attempts to gain persuasiveness by ignoring this issue of prior plausibility. It is true that we cannot (at present) conclusively prove that there’s no teapot in outer space in the way that we could conclusively prove that there’s no postbox on the end of the street by going there and looking. But part of the reason why, despite not being able to do this, it is still reasonable to conclude that there isn’t, is that prior to any investigation the hypothesis is manifestly far-fetched. In the postbox case it is not, and thus we can see that absence of evidence, as far as rendering it reasonable to deny something’s existence goes, has different force depending on the case in hand. Unless the existence of God is taken to be also manifestly far-fetched, the argument to the effect that if we don’t suspend judgement regarding the teapot then we shouldn’t suspend it regarding God, doesn’t get off the ground.”Boiled for Sins Flying Spaghetti Monster

(Via Thinking Matters)

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines Atheism as: the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God —

  • The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

There is a subtle, but important difference between not believing in something and believing that something is not (does not exist). Atheism adopts the latter position in holding that God does not exist. Atheism is more than mere lack of belief, it is the denial of the existence of God. Mere lack of belief makes the atheist no different from a newborn baby or my Chevy. (Added to a bit — but from APOLOGETICS 315)


a couple more videos i liked


 

H.P. Owen and Self Referentially FALSE Views of Nature

One of the reasons I am a bibliophile and love to follow references given in one book with the purchase of the referenced book is many of the same quotes used by multiple authors on a subject do not give the full weight and gravity of the larger quote. I will give you an example. In J.P. Moreland’s work from 1987, “Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity,” he quotes Huw Parri Owen’s work, Christian Theism. In a more voluminous work, he and William Lane Craig use the same quote:

Determinism is self-stultifying.  If my mental processes are totally determined, I am totally determined either to accept or to reject determinism.  But if the sole reason for my believing or not believing X is that I am causally determined to believe it I have no ground for holding that my judgment is true or false.

J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2003) 241.

A great quote for sure.

I was finally able to get a good bound copy for a VERY reasonable price (previously when I looked for a copy, they were very expensive). While this book will enter my hopper to be read in full, I read the chapter the quote came from, and loved this larger quote from the section… and it deals with the self-stultifying aspect of Marx and Freud. I will add another quote by an excellent authot=r that does much the same, but first here is H.P. Owen’s larger reference:H.P. Owen Christian Theism Book 330

  1. If determinism were true how could the illusion of free will arise? If we are wholly determined why are we not conscious of being so? These questions gain additional force from the fact that we feel ourselves able to resist those very forces by which according to determinism our actions are invariably caused. The sense of free will cannot be plausibly attributed to “wish-fulfilment”. Admittedly it may seem desirable in so far as it raises us above physical nature. Yet is also imposes on us an existential burden together with a burden of guilt on those occasions when we have misused our freedom of choice.
  2. Determinism is incompatible with a great deal of our moral language. In particular it is incompatible with the concepts of obligation and moral responsibility. I cannot be obliged to do X unless I am free to do it simply because it is my duty and not because I am determined by other factors. Of course obligation is itself a determining factor in so far as it is a form of constraint. However the constraint is a unique one; and a sign of its uniqueness is that it leaves a person free either to accept or to reject it. Equally I cannot be morally responsible for an action that I was compelled to perform even if the compulsion proceeds from my own nature and so is an act of self-determination. And if I am not responsible for an action I cannot be blamed for it.
  3. Chiefly, however, determinism is self-stultifying. If my mental processes are totally determined, I am totally determined either to accept or to reject determinism. But if the sole reason for my believing or not believing X is that I am causally determined to believe it I have no ground for holding that my judgment is true or false. J. R. Lucas has put the point cogently with reference to Marxist and Freudian forms of determinism thus. ‘The Marxist who says that all ideologies have no independent validity and merely reflect the class interests of those who hold them can be told that in that case his Marxist views merely express the economic interests of his class, and have no more claim to be judged true or valid than any other view. So too the Freudian, if he makes out that everybody else’s philosophy is merely the consequence of childhood experiences, is, by parity of reasoning, revealing merely his delayed response to what happened to him when he was a child.’ Lucas then makes the same point with regard to a person who maintains, more generally, that our behaviour is totally determined by heredity and environment. “If what he says is true, he says it merely as the result of his heredity and environment, and of nothing else. He does not hold his determinist views because they are true, but because he has such-and-such a genetic make-up, and has received such-and-such stimuli; that is, not because the structure of the universe is such-and-such but only because the configuration of only one part of the universe, together with the structure of the determinist’s brain, is such as to produce that result.”

The exact force of this criticism is sometimes missed. Certainly on deterministic premisses determinism may be true. But we should not have any grounds for affirming that it is true or therefore for knowing that it is so. In order to obtain these grounds we must be free from all determining factors in order to assess the evidence according to its own worth. This principle applies to the assessment of all truth-claims (including those of Christianity). Freedom from determining factors is therefore required in the cognitive as much as in the moral sphere.

Huw Parri Owen, Christian Theism: A Study in its Basic Principles (Edinburgh, London: T & T Clark, 1984), 118-119.

Here is a smaller section from Dr. Roy Clouser critiquing Freudian determinism as well as throwing a stone in Taoism’s shoe:

…As an example of the strong sense of this incoherency, take the claim sometimes made by Taoists that “Nothing can be said of the Tao.” Taken without qualification (which is not the way it is intended), this is self-referentially incoherent since to say “Nothing can be said of the Tao” is to say something of the Tao. Thus, when taken in reference to itself, the statement cancels its own truth. As an example of the weak version of self-referential incoherency, take the claim once made by Freud that every belief is a product of the believer’s unconscious emotional needs. If this claim were true, it would have to be true of itself since it is a belief of Freud’s. It therefore requires itself to be nothing more than the product of Freud’s unconscious emotional needs. This would not necessarily make the claim false, but it would mean that even if it were true neither Freud nor anyone else could ever know that it is. The most it would allow anyone to say is that he or she couldn’t help but believe it.  The next criterion says that a theory must not be incompatible with any belief we have to assume for the theory to be true. I will call a theory that violates this rule “self-assumptively incoherent.” As an example of this incoherence, consider the claim made by some philosophers that all things are exclusively physical [atheistic-naturalism]. This has been explained by its advocates to mean that nothing has any property or is governed by any law that is not a physical property or a physical law. But the very sentence expressing this claim, the sentence “All things are exclusively physical,” must be assumed to possess a linguistic meaning. This is not a physical property, but unless the sentence had it, it would not be a sentence; it would be nothing but physical sounds or marks that would not) linguistically signify any meaning whatever and thus could not express any claim — just as a group of pebbles, or clouds, or leaves, fails to signify any meaning or express any claim. Moreover, to assert this exclusivist materialism is the same as claiming it is true, which is another nonphysical property; and the claim that it is true further assumes that its denial would have to be false, which is a relation guaranteed by logical, not physical, laws. (Indeed, any theory which denies the existence of logical laws is instantly and irredeemably self-assumptively incoherent since that very denial is proposed as true in a way that logically excludes its being false.) What this shows is that the claim “All things are exclusively physical” must itself be assumed to have nonphysical properties and be governed by nonphysical laws or it could neither be understood nor be true. Thus, no matter how clever the supporting arguments for this claim may seem, the claim itself is incompatible with assumptions that are required for it to be true. It is therefore self-assumptively incoherent in the strong sense…

Roy A. Clouser, The Myth of Religious Neutrality: An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Belief in Theories (Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame Press, 2005), 84-85.

The Euthyphro Argument Dissected (Updated)

The Euthyphro Dilemma, with Frank Turek from Christian Research Institute on Vimeo.

“Either something is good (holy) because God commands it or else God commands something because it is good.”

  • If you say something is good because God commands it, this makes right and wrong arbitrary; In other words, God could have commanded that acts of hatred, brutality, cruelty, and so on be good. Making God Himself arbitrary and the commands His followers follow arbitrary as well.
  • If God commands something because it is good, then good is independent of God. Thus, morality can’t claim to be based on God’s commands (and God Himself is bound by something “outside” Himself — nullifying the theists claim of omnipotence and omniscience).

There are “two horns” to the dilemma presented, but much like Plato does, we will split the horns with a third option and show that the TWO CHOICES are false becuase there is a third viable option:

SPLITTING EUTHYPHRO’S HORNS

If a dilemma with limited choices is presented, you should always consider that these choices may not be your only options.  Euthyphro’s case is a prime example.  There is a third alternative…and who knows?, there could be others that no one has come up with yet, but Christianity teaches this third alternative for the basis of morality:

God wills something because He is good.

What does this mean?  It means that the nature of God is the standard of goodness.  God’s nature is just the way God is.  He doesn’t ‘will’ Himself to be good, and kind, and just, and holy…He just is these things.  His commandments to us are an expression of that nature, so our moral duties stem from the commands of a God who IS good…and loving…and just…not a God who arbitrarily decides that he will command something on a whim, but gives commandments that stem from His unchanging character.

If God’s character defines what is good.  His commands must reflect His moral nature.

[….]

The Euthyphro dilemma is a false one because there is at least one other choice that splits the horns of the dilemma.  This option, taught as part of the Christian doctrine of who God is, is perfectly consistent with the concept that God must exist for objective morality to exist in our world.

Plato came up with his own third option…that moral values simply exist on their own.  No need for God.  Later Christian thinkers equated this to God’s moral nature, like we just discussed.  However, some argue that God is not necessary; that goodness and justice, etc. can exist on their own…this idea is often referred to as Atheistic Moral Platonism….

(Via Rational Faith Online).

This is VERY simple to grasp, but here are more dealings with it, Peter Kreeft’s short dealing with this supposed dilemma:

There are four possible relations between religion and morality, God and goodness.

Religion and morality may be thought to be independent. Kierkegaard’s sharp contrast between “the ethical” and “the religious,” especially in Fear and Trembling, may lead to such a supposition. But (a) an amoral God, indifferent to morality, would not be a wholly good God, for one of the primary meanings of “good” involves the “moral”—just, loving, wise, righteous, holy, kind. And (b) such a morality, not having any connection with God, the Absolute Being, would not have absolute reality behind it.

God may be thought of as the inventor of morality, as he is the inventor of birds. The moral law is often thought of as simply a product of God’s choice. This is the Divine Command Theory: a thing is good only because God commands it and evil because he forbids it. If that is all, however, we have a serious problem: God and his morality are arbitrary and based on mere power. If God commanded us to kill innocent people, that would become good, since good here means “whatever God commands.” The Divine Command Theory reduces morality to power. Socrates refuted the Divine Command Theory pretty conclusively in Plato’s Euthyphro. He asked Euthyphro, “Is a thing pious because the gods will it, or do the gods will it because it is pious?” He refuted the first alternative, and thought he was left with the second as the only alternative.

But the idea that God commands a thing because it is good is also unacceptable, because it makes God conform to a law higher than himself, a law that overarches God and humanity alike. The God of the Bible is no more separated from moral goodness by being under it than he is by being over it. He no more obeys a higher law that binds him, than he creates the law as an artifact that could change and could well have been different, like a planet.

The only rationally acceptable answer to the question of the relation between God and morality is the biblical one: morality is based on God’s eternal nature. That is why morality is essentially unchangeable. “I am the Lord your God; sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44). Our obligation to be just, kind, honest, loving and righteous “goes all the way up” to ultimate reality, to the eternal nature of God, to what God is. That is why morality has absolute and unchangeable binding force on our conscience.

The only other possible sources of moral obligation are:

a. My ideals, purposes, aspirations, and desires, something created by my mind or will, like the rules of baseball. This utterly fails to account for why it is always wrong to disobey or change the rules.
b. My moral will itself. Some read Kant this way: I impose morality on myself. But how can the one bound and the one who binds be the same? If the locksmith locks himself in a room, he is not really locked in, for he can also unlock himself.
c. Another human being may be thought to be the one who imposes morality on me—my parents, for example. But this fails to account for its binding character. If your father commands you to deal drugs, your moral obligation is to disobey him. No human being can have absolute authority over another.
d. “Society” is a popular answer to the question of the origin of morality “this or that specific person” is a very unpopular answer. Yet the two are the same. “Society” only means more individuals. What right do they have to legislate morality to me? Quantity cannot yield quality; adding numbers cannot change the rules of a relative game to the rightful absolute demands of conscience.
e. The universe, evolution, natural selection and survival all fare even worse as explanations for morality. You cannot get more out of less. The principle of causality is violated here. How could the primordial slime pools gurgle up the Sermon on the Mount?

Atheists often claim that Christians make a category mistake in using God to explain nature; they say it is like the Greeks using Zeus to explain lightning. In fact, lightning should be explained on its own level, as a material, natural, scientific phenomenon. The same with morality. Why bring in God?

Because morality is more like Zeus than like lightning. Morality exists only on the level of persons, spirits, souls, minds, wills—not mere molecules. You can make correlations between moral obligations and persons (e.g., persons should love other persons), but you cannot make any correlations between morality and molecules. No one has even tried to explain the difference between good and evil in terms, for example, of the difference between heavy and light atoms.

So it is really the atheist who makes the same category mistake as the ancient pagan who explained lightning by the will of Zeus. The atheist uses a merely material thing to explain a spiritual thing. That is a far sillier version of the category mistake than the one the ancients made; for it is possible that the greater (Zeus, spirit) caused the lesser (lightning) and explains it; but it is not possible that the lesser (molecules) adequately caused and explains the greater (morality). A good will might create molecules, but how could molecules create a good will? How can electricity obligate me? Only a good will can demand a good will; only Love can demand love.

(Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God)


While Plato was dealing with polytheism and a form of monism, this argument as dealt with herein is response to the challenges presented to theism. However, his use of a third option is what we present here as well… making this dilemma mute. What was Plato’s solution?

“You split the horns of the dilemmas by formulating a third alternative, namely, God is the good. The good is the moral nature of God Himself. That is to say, God is necessarily holy, loving, kind, just, and so on. These attributes of God comprise the good. God’s moral character expresses itself toward us in the form of certain commandments, which became for us our moral duties.

Hence, God’s commandments are not arbitrary but necessarily flow from His own nature. They are necessary expression of the way God is.One of the most important notes to mention is that once there is a third alternative, there is no longer a dilemma. Mariano Grinbank of True Free Thinker deals with the many aspects of this supposed dilemma. He does an excellent job of doing this. However, zero in on the section from the 2:40 mark to the 3:45 mark (the same idea is brought up in the 6:55 through 9:55 mark of the Craig response). Mariano Grinbank does a bang-up job below (Grinbank’s article being read by someone else):

  • Apologetic315 (http://www.apologetics315.com/) and TrueFreeThinker (http://www.truefreethinker.com/) team up to put to rest the many aspects of what is perceived to be a dilemma by many first year philosophy students in the Euthyphro dialogue between two Grecian thinkers.

Here is William Lane Craig responding to some challenges in regards to the Euthyphro argument.

Five Reasons Why You Can Believe God Exists

One in five Americans now identify as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular. How would you identify yourself? Philosopher and apologist Dr. William Lane Craig presents five reasons why belief in God makes good rational sense.

Agent Causality vs. Blind Causality

Is Evil Proof Against God? Where Does It Come From?

Description of the above video:

  • If there is a God, why is there so much evil? How could any God that cares about right and wrong allow so much bad to happen? And if there is no God, who then determines what is right and what is wrong? The answers to these questions, as Boston College philosopher Peter Kreeft explains, go to the heart of ethics, morality and how we know what it means to be a decent person.

The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other. But the standard that measures two things is something different from either.

[….]

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 13, 38.

Description of the above video:

  • Isn’t human suffering proof that a just, all-powerful God must not exist? On the contrary, says Boston College Professor of Philosophy Peter Kreeft. How can “suffering” exist without an objective standard against which to judge it? Absent a standard, there is no justice. If there is no justice, there is no injustice. And if there is no injustice, there is no suffering. On the other hand, if justice exists, God exists. In five minutes, learn more.

Description of the above video:

  • A student asks a question of Ravi Zacharias about God condemning people [atheists] to hell. This Q&A occurred after a presentation Ravi gave at Harvard University, and is now one of his most well-known responses in the apologetic sub-culture. This is an updated version to my original post (http://youtu.be/4EeOvWdHGaM). I truncated the beginning as well as editing the volume of the initial question. I also added graphics and text quotes into the audio presentation. Enjoy this short response by Mr. Zacharias, it is him at his best.

Description of the above video:

  • Is evil rational? If it is, then how can we depend on reason alone to make a better world? Best-selling author Dennis Prager has a challenging answer.

Description of the above video:

  • Atheists Trying to Have Their Cake and Eat It Too on Morality. This video shows that when an atheist denies objective morality they also affirm moral good and evil without the thought of any contradiction or inconsistency on their part.

EVERY ONE HAS HEARD people quarreling. Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kinds of things they say. They say things like this: “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?”–‘That’s my seat, I was there first”–“Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm”–“Why should you shove in first?”–“Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine”–“Come on, you promised.” People say things like that every day, educated people as well as uneducated, and children as well as grown-ups.

Now what interests me about all these remarks is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man’s behavior does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behavior which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies: “To hell with your standard.” Nearly always he tries to make out that what he has been doing does not really go against the standard, or that if it does there is some special excuse. He pretends there is some special reason in this particular case why the person who took the seat first should not keep it, or that things were quite different when he was given the bit of orange, or that some thing has turned up which lets him off keeping his promise. It looks, in fact, very much as if both parties had in mind some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behavior or morality or whatever you like to call it, about which they really agreed. And they have. If they had not, they might, of course, fight like animals, but they could not quarrel in the human sense of the word. Quarreling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are; just as there would be no sense in saying that a footballer had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the rules of football.

(accuser) “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?”

(responder) “Your right, I apologize.”

(accuser) “That’s my seat, I was there first!”

(responder) “Your right, you were. Here you go.”

(accuser) “Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine.”

(responder) “Oh gosh, I forgot, here you go.”

(accuser) “Come on, you promised.”

(responder) “Your right, lets go to the movies.”

Now this Law or Rule about Right and Wrong used to be called the Law of Nature. Nowadays, when we talk of the “laws of nature” we usually mean things like gravitation, or heredity, or the laws of chemistry. But when the older thinkers called the Law of Right and Wrong “the Law of Nature,” they really meant the Law of Human Nature. The idea was that, just as all bodies are governed by the law of gravitation and organisms by biological laws, so the creature called man also had his law–with this great difference, that a body could not choose whether it obeyed the law of gravitation or not, but a man could choose either to obey the Law of Human Nature or to disobey it.

This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that every one knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it. They did not mean, of course, that you might not find an odd individual here and there who did not know it, just as you find a few people who are color-blind or have no ear for a tune. But taking the race as a whole, they thought that the human idea of decent behavior was obvious to every one. And I believe they were right. If they were not, then all the things we said about the war were nonsense. What was the sense in saying the enemy were in the wrong unless Right is a real thing which the Nazis at bottom knew as well as we did and ought to have practiced! If they had no notion of what we mean by right, then, though we might still have had to fight them, we could no more have blamed them for that than for the color of their hair.

I know that some people say the idea of a Law of Nature or decent behavior known to all men is unsound, because different civilizations and different ages have had quite different moralities.

But this is not true. There have been differences between their moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference. If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Creeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own. Some of the evidence for this I have put together in the appendix of another book called The Abolition of Man; but for our present purpose I need only ask the reader to think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to–whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or everyone. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put Yourself first. selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked.

But the most remarkable thing is this. Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining “It’s not fair” before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties do not matter; but then, next minute, they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is no such thing as Right and Wrong–in other words, if there is no Law of Nature–what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else?

It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table. Now if we are agreed about that, I go on to my next point, which is this. None of us are really keeping the Law of Nature. If there are any exceptions among you, 1 apologize to them. They had much better read some other work, for nothing I am going to say concerns them. And now, turning to the ordinary human beings who are left:

I hope you will not misunderstand what I am going to say. I am not preaching, and Heaven knows I do not pretend to be better than anyone else. I am only trying to call attention to a fact; the fact that this year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people. There may be all sorts of excuses for us. That time you were so unfair to the children was when you were very tired. That slightly shady business about the money–the one you have almost forgotten-came when you were very hard up. And what you promised to do for old So-and-so and have never done–well, you never would have promised if you had known how frightfully busy you were going to be. And as for your behavior to your wife (or husband) or sister (or brother) if I knew how irritating they could be, I would not wonder at it–and who the dickens am I, anyway? I am just the same. That is to say, I do not succeed in keeping the Law of Nature very well, and the moment anyone tells me I am not keeping it, there starts up in my mind a string of excuses as long as your arm. The question at the moment is not whether they are good excuses. The point is that they are one more proof of how deeply, whether we like it or not, we believe in the Law of Nature. If we do not believe in decent behavior, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently? The truth is, we believe in decency so much–we feel the Rule of Law pressing on us so–that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility. For you notice that it is only for our bad behavior that we find all these explanations. It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves.

These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 17-21.

After reading that portion of CLASSIC Lewis, here is some thoughts from a philosopher that I disagree with on many points (he is an atheist after all), but he argues well for the following, even if later rejecting it:

If the reader is not familiar with Mere Christianity, I would urge him or her to buy it. The first chapter alone is worth the cost of the book. It is a brilliant piece of psychology. In it, Lewis sums up two crucial aspects of the human condition. We can see the first aspect in the passage quoted. Human beings do quarrel in the way Lewis describes. We are moral agents who cannot help feeling that there are some things we ought to do, and that there are other things we ought not to do. We believe, sometimes despite ourselves, that there is such a thing as right and wrong, and that there are certain principles of conduct to which we and all other human beings ought to adhere. In our dealings with other people we constantly appeal to those principles. We are quick to notice when others violate them. We get defensive and make excuses when it appears that we have violated them ourselves. We get defensive even when no one else is around. We accuse ourselves when no else does, and we rationalize our behavior in front of our consciences just as we would in front of another person. We cannot help applying to ourselves the principles we firmly believe apply to all. To use Alvin Plantinga’s term, the belief in morality is basic. Even when we reject that belief in our theoretical reasoning, it comes back to haunt us at every turn. We can never really get away from it. There is a reason why our legal system defines insanity as the inability to tell right from wrong: people who lack that ability have lost an important part of their humanity. They have taken a step down towards the level of beasts.

Even if, in our heart of hearts, we all believe in morality, we do not necessarily share the exact same moral values. Differences regarding values are at least a part of what we quarrel about. Yet Lewis correctly recognizes that our differences in this area never amount to a total difference. The moral beliefs human beings entertain display broad cross-cultural similarities. Ancient Egyptians did not appreciate having their property stolen any more than we do. A brother’s murder, a wife’s infidelity, or a friend’s betrayal would have angered them, just as it angers us. Human nature has not changed much for tens of thousands of years. It does not change at all when one travels to the other side of the globe.

I did not believe Lewis the first time I read him, or even the second time. This idea, that there is a fundamental underlying unity to the moral fabric of humanity, is a hard one to accept. Think about those suicidal fanatics who crashed planes into the World Trade Center. They “knew” they were doing the right thing, that Allah would reward them in heaven with virgins galore. How radically different from our own values the values of some Muslims must seem! Yet there is common ground. Even the most militant Muslims despise thieves, cheats, and liars, just as Christians. Jews, and atheists do. They value loyalty and friendship. just as we do. They love their children and their parents. just as we do. They even condemn murder, at least within their own societies. It is only when they deal with outsiders like us that some of them may seem like (and in fact, be) monsters. To distinguish between insiders and outsiders, and to treat the latter horribly, is actually not so unusual in human history. Expanding one’s “inside group” until it encompasses all of humanity is something of an innovation. When we consider all this, the moral gulf between us and them does not seem so unbridgeable. Our admittedly great differences occur against a background of fundamental similarities. Similarities guaranteed by the fact that we are all stuck being human. So it seems Lewis was right, despite my earlier skepticism. Universal moral themes can and do underpin the diversity of our moral opinions.

[….]

Moral statements, then, cannot be mere matters of taste and opinion. They essentially involve an appeal to principles that transcend both the wishes of any one individual, and the customs of any one culture or society. That there are such principles, and that we cannot really escape from them, are points Lewis successfully illuminates. It thus seems very plausible to suppose that when our moral statements appeal to these principles in an appropriate and rational manner, they deserve to be called truths.

Andrew Marker, The Ladder: Escaping from Plato’s Cave (iUniverse.com, 2010), 108-110, 111-112.

Brain-In-A-Vat

The video will start at the 12-minute mark:

An excerpt of pretty much the same topic noted in the video… but a bit more explained.

…We thus have good grounds for believing in the existence of an all-good, uncaused, timeless, changeless, immaterial, personal creator and designer of the universe, which is what most people mean by “God.” But what about people who lack the education, resources, or time to comprehend these sometimes abstruse reasons for the existence of God? Can they know that God exists wholly apart from arguments? I’m persuaded that they can, for God can be known through immediate experience. This was the way people in the Bible knew God, as Pro­fessor John Hick explains:

God was known to them as a dynamic will interacting with their own wills, a sheer given reality, as inescapably to be reckoned with as destructive storm and life-giving sunshine…. They did not think of God as an inferred entity but as an experienced reality…. To them God was not a proposition completing a syl­logism, or an idea adopted by the mind, but the experiential reality which gave significance to their lives.

For these people, God was not the best explanation of their religious experience and so they believed in him; rather, in their religious experience they came to know God directly.

Philosophers call beliefs such as this “properly basic beliefs.” They aren’t based on some other beliefs; rather, they are part of the foundation of a person’s system of beliefs. Other properly basic beliefs include the belief in the reality of the past, the existence of the external world, and the presence of other minds such as your own. When you think about it, none of these beliefs can be proven. How could you prove that the world was not created five minutes ago with built-in appearances of age, such as food in our stomachs from the breakfasts we never really ate and memory traces in our brains of events we never really experienced? How could you prove that you are not a brain in a vat of chemicals being stimulated with electrodes by some mad scientist to believe that you are here reading this book? How could you prove that other people are not really automata who exhibit all the external behavior of persons with minds, when in reality they are soulless, robot-like entities?

Although these sorts of beliefs are basic for us, that doesn’t mean they’re arbi­trary. Rather, they are grounded in the sense that they’re formed in the context of certain experiences. In the experiential context of seeing and feeling and hearing things, I naturally form the belief that there are certain physical objects that I am sensing. Thus, my basic beliefs are not arbitrary but appropriately grounded in experience. There may be no way to prove such beliefs, and yet it is perfectly rational to hold them. You would have to be crazy to think that the world was created five minutes ago or that you are a brain in a vat! Such beliefs are thus not merely basic but properly basic.

In the same way, belief in God is for those who seek him a properly basic belief grounded in our experience of God, as we discern him in nature, conscience, and other means. This has an important lesson. If, through experiencing God, we can know in a properly basic way that God exists, then a real danger exists that proofs for God could actually distract one’s attention from God himself. The Bible promises, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8 RSV). We mustn’t so concentrate on the proofs for God that we fail to hear the inner voice of God speaking to our own heart. For those who listen, God becomes an immediate reality in their lives.

Someone might object that an atheist or an adherent to some nonpersonal religious faith such as Taoism could also claim to know their beliefs in a properly basic way. Certainly, they could claim such a thing, but what does that prove? Imagine that you were locked in a room with four color-blind people, all of whom claimed that there is no difference between red and green. Suppose you tried to convince them by showing them colored pictures of red and green objects and asking, “Can’t you see the difference?” Of course, they would see no difference at all and would dismiss your claim to see different colors as delusory. In terms of showing who’s right, there would be a complete standoff. But would their denial of the difference between red and green or your inability to show them that you are right do anything either to render your belief false or to invalidate your experience? Obviously not!

In the same way, the person who has actually come to know God as a living reality in his life can know with assurance that his experience is no delusion, regardless of what the atheist or Taoist tells him. Still, it remains the case that in such a situation, although the believer may know that his belief is true, both parties are at a complete loss to show the truth of his respective belief to the other party. How is one to break this deadlock? We should do whatever is feasible to find common ground, such as logic and empirical facts, by means of which we can show in a noncircular way whose view is correct. For that reason, arguments such as I have given above are important, for even if they are not the primary means by which we know that God exists, they may be the means by which we can show someone else that God exists. We may know that God exists in a properly basic way, and we may try to show that God exists by appeal to the common facts of science, ethics, and philosophy.

In summary, we’ve seen good reasons to believe God exists, but that conclu­sion is but the first step, albeit a crucial one. The Bible says, “Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6 RSV). If we have come to believe that he exists, we must now seek him, with the confidence that if we do so with our whole heart, he will reward us with the personal knowledge of himself.

Norman Geisler and Paul Hoffman ed., Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001), 84-86.

Ravi Zacharias Challenges the Challenger

Mortimer J. Adler rightly points out that while many Christians are quick in responding to the conclusions in an argument often times the Christian is unaware that the point of departure is not in the conclusion, but in the starting premise, the foundational assumptions.

Norman L. Geisler & Peter Bocchino, Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions About the Christian Faith (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2001), 20-21.

(One may wish as well to peruse the posts with Greg Bahnsen’s audio included.) Below are two short audio examples of Ravi Zacharias “questioning the questioner,” the first is a recounting of conversation, whereas the second is a challenge proferred by a student and is Ravi at his best!

This second audio is of a student asking Ravi Zacharias about God condemning people [atheists] to hell and the moral implications of this. This Q&A occurred after a presentation Ravi gave at Harvard University (the entire presentation is worth the purchase), and is now one of his most well-known responses in the apologetic sub-culture.

Enjoy this short response by Mr. Zacharias, it is him at his best.

I am including some remarks from an earlier version of the above audio from my YouTube. Someone makes the following statement:

  • Polish parlor trick showman. Why do people still fall for his nonsense. BTW. There is no evidence for gods, none. Ravi is merely lying and creating logical fallacy.

To which another commentator responds:

Actually he is very articulately (yet indirectly) pointing to the presence of “argumentum ad ignorantium” in the debate over atheism/theism. Faith is a logical fallacy on the terms of atheism, as atheism is a logical fallacy on the terms of the physical universe being unable to explain its origin. All leading atheists and Religious believers/scholars accept these boundaries. His answer begins with his explanation of the self-destructive nature of the question as given from its source (being an atheist)… it self-destructs because the question giver already doesn’t subscribe to the moral law as bound to the moral law giver who is the subject of the question. The question giver rejects the evidence that the believer accepts. And the believer can only point to evidence that the atheist rejects.

Is God All Powerful? Can He Make A Rock He Can’t Lift?

Video Description:

The above video is a presentation I have done at church as well as in front of high school’ers at a Christian school. 


For a less than 2-minute treatment of my above 23-minute presentation [e.g., save time], watch this DR. CRAIG VIDEO:

Dr. William Lane Craig answers a question about God’s attribute. In this case, His omnipotence.

BOOK:

★ One of the best books to introduce people to “first principles” and how to apply them to worldviews: “Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith“.

BOOK:

★ Much of what I spoke of was from chapter four, “The Nature of God.” it is the book, “Handbook of Christian Apologetics“.

CARM RESPONDS (article):

Can God make a rock so big He can’t pick it up?

GOD & SCIENCE RESPONDS (article):

Can God Create a Rock So Heavy He Can’t Lift It? – Can God Truly Be Omnipotent?

CRI in EQUIP RESPONDS (article):

Can God create a rock so heavy He can’t move it?

[ME]-DOCUMENT:

Can God Make A Rock So Big He Cannot Lift It?

[ME]-POWER POINT:

Can God Make a Rock So Big That.

Hear Atheists Themselves on Evil and Absolutes [UPDATED!]

I wish to start out with an excerpt from a chapter in my book where I use two scholarly works that use Darwinian naturalism as a guide to their ethic:

  • Dale Peterson and Richard Wrangham, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 1997).
  • Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000).

My incorporation of these works into my book (quote):

“Lest one think this line of thinking is insane, that is: sexual acts are something from our evolutionary past and advantageous; rape is said to not be a pathology but an evolutionary adaptation – a strategy for maximizing reproductive success….. The first concept that one must understand is that these authors do not view nature alone as imposing a moral “oughtness” into the situation of survival of the fittest. They view rape, for instance, in its historical evolutionary context as neither right nor wrong ethically. Rape, is neither moral nor immoral vis-à-vis evolutionary lines of thought, even if ingrained in us from our evolutionary paths of survival. Did you catch that? Even if a rape occurs today, it is neither moral nor immoral, it is merely currently taboo. The biological, amoral, justification of rape is made often times as a survival mechanism bringing up the net “survival status” of a species, usually fraught with examples of homosexual worms, lesbian seagulls, and the like.”

(pp. 7-9 of  Roman-Epicurean-ism-Natural-Law-and-Homosexuality)

Now, hear from other atheist and evolutionary apologists themselves in regard to the matter:

Richard Dawkins

(h/t: TrueFreeThinker) – A Statement Made by an atheist at the Atheist and Agnostic Society:

Some atheists do believe in ethical absolutes, some don’t. My answer is a bit more complicated — I don’t believe that there are any axiological claims which are absolutely true, except within the context of one person’s opinion.

That is, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so are ethics. So, why is Adolf Hitler wrong? Because he murdered millions, and his only justification, even if it were valid, was based on things which he should have known were factually wrong. Why is it wrong to do that? Because I said so. Unless you actually disagree with me — unless you want to say that Adolf Hitler was right — I’m not sure I have more to say.

[side note] You may also be aware that Richard Dawkins stated,

  • “What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question.”

Stated during an interview with Larry Taunton, “Richard Dawkins: The Atheist Evangelist,” by Faith Magazine, Issue Number 18, December 2007 (copyright; 2007-2008)

Lewis Wolpert

From the video description:

Atheists Trying to Have Their Cake and Eat It Too on Morality. This video shows that when an atheist denies objective morality they also affirm moral good and evil without the thought of any contradiction or inconsistency on their part.

Dan Barker

This is from the video Description for the Dan Barker video below:

The atheist’s animal-level view of “morality” is completely skewed by dint of its lack of objectivity. In fact, the atheist makes up his own personal version of “morals” as he goes along, and this video provides an eye-opening example of this bizarre phenomenon of the atheist’s crippled psyche:

During this debate, the atheist stated that he believed rape was morally acceptable, then he actually stated that he would rape a little girl and then kill himself — you have just got to hear his psychotic words with your own ears to believe it!

He then stammered and stumbled through a series of ridiculously lame excuses for his shameful lack of any type of moral compass.

To the utter amazement of his opponent and all present in the audience, the gruesomely amoral atheist even goes so far as to actually crack a sick little joke on the subject of SERIAL CHILD-RAPE!

:::shudders:::

Meanwhile, the Christian in the video gracefully and heroically realizes the clearly objective moral values that unquestionably come to humanity by God’s grace, and yet are far beyond the lower animal’s and the atheist’s tenuous mental grasp. Be sure to keep watching until the very end so that you can hear the Christian’s final word — it’s a real knuckle-duster!

Atheist dogma™ not only fails to provide a stable platform for objective human morality for its adherent — it precludes him even the possibility. It’s this very intellectual inability to apprehend any objective moral values that leads such believers in atheist dogma™ as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Dahmer to commit their horrific atheistic atrocities.

Any believer in atheist dogma™, given sufficient power, would take the exact same course of action that Hitler did, without a moment’s hesitation.

Note as well that evolutionary naturalism has very dogmatic implication, IF — that is — the honest atheist/evolutionist follow the matter to their logical conclusions, via the ineffable Dr. Provine:

William Provine

Atheist and staunch evolutionist Dr. William Provine (who is often quoted by Richard Dawkins) admits what life has in stored if Darwinism is true. The quote comes from his debate here with Dr. Phillip E. Johnson at Stanford University, April 30, 1994.