A friend posted the picture and statement regarding the soul… I thought it an opportunity to respond, here.
I SORTA agree with that statement in the pic. While the picture is riveting, and I believe in the soul… I assume many who do not adhere to the Judeo-Christian philosophy do not, or do not realize well WHAT they believe. I will explain. All of the world’s 10,000+ religions break down into seven worldviews at most…
WORLDVIEW DEFINED QUICKLEY
The German word is WELTANSCHAUUNG, meaning a ‘world and life view,’ or ‘a paradigm.’ It is a framework through which or by which one makes sense of the data of life. A worldview makes a world of difference in one’s view of God, origins, evil, human nature, values, and destiny” A worldview consists of a series of assumptions/presuppositions that a person holds about reality. A worldview, consciously or subconsciously, affects the way a person evaluates every aspect of reality. Every person adheres to some sort of worldview, although one person may not be as consciously aware of it as another person. These presuppositions affect the thinking of every person in the world. It logically follows that the way a person thinks affects what a person does. (I have more on this in my 1st chapter of my book — as well as my WORLDVIEW post)
…. Theism (Jews and Christians as an example); Poly-Theism (Mormons); Finite Godism (Witches, New Age, etc); Naturalism (Atheists); Pantheism (Hinduism, Janism, Buddhism, etc); Panenthiesm (Western mysticism [New Age] – and Hindu bhakti, etc).
While many have a belief in the soul, the only worldview that holds the “self” resides in and continues on 𝐼𝑁 the soul is Theism. While neo-Pagans (like Wiccans) believe the soul goes through reincarnations – similar in some respect to Pantheists – in the end, we see that all this we experience is an illusion. Here, for instance, is a conversation I had with a ZEN apologist (this is taken from my 2nd chapter in my book):
MY INITIAL ENGAGEMENT:
Does the idea of “violence” as a moral good or a moral evil truly exist in the Buddhist mindset? What I mean is that according to a major school of Buddhism, isn’t there a denial that distinctions exist in reality… that separate “selves” is really a false perception? Language is considered something the Buddhist must get beyond because it serves as a tool that creates and makes these apparently illusory distinctions more grounded, or rooted in “our” psyche. For instance, the statement that “all statements are empty of meaning,” would almost be self refuting, because, that statement — then — would be meaningless. So how can one go from that teaching inherent to Buddhistic thought and say that self-defense (and using WWII as an example) is really meaningful. Isn’t the [Dalai] Lama drawing distinction by assuming the reality of Aristotelian logic in his responses to questions? (He used at least three Laws of Logic [thus, drawing distinctions using Western principles]: The Law of Contradiction; the Law of Excluded Middle; and the Law of Identity.) Curious.
THEY CALL HIM JAMES URE, RESPONDS:
You’re right that language is just a tool and in the end a useless one at that but It’s important to be able run a blog. That or teach people the particulars of the religion. It’s like a lamp needed to make your way through the dark until you reach the lighthouse (Enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.) Then of course the lamp is no longer useful unless you have taken the vow to teach others. Which in my analogy is returning into the dark to bring your brothers and sisters along (via the lamp-i.e. language) to the lighthouse (enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.)
Then… if reality is ultimately characterless and distinctionless, then the distinction between being enlightened and unenlightened is ultimately an illusion and reality is ultimately unreal. Whom is doing the leading? Leading to what? These still are distinctions being made, that is: “between knowing you are enlightened and not knowing you are enlightened.” In the Diamond Sutra, ultimately, the Bodhisattva loves no one, since no one exists and the Bodhisattva knows this:
“All beings must I lead to Nirvana, into the Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind; and yet, after beings have been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana. And why? If in a Bodhisattva the notion of a “being” should take place, he could not be called a “Bodhi-being.” And likewise if the notion of a soul, or a person should take place in him.
So even the act of loving others, therefore, is inconsistent with what is taught in the Buddhistic worldview, because there is “no one to love.” This is shown quite well (this self-refuting aspect of Buddhism) in the book, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha. A book I recommend with love, from a worldview that can use the word love well. One writer puts it thusly: “When human existence is blown out, nothing real disappears because life itself is an illusion. Nirvana is neither a re-absorption into an eternal Ultimate Reality, nor the annihilation of a self, because there is no self to annihilate. It is rather an annihilation of the illusion of an existing self. Nirvana is a state of supreme bliss and freedom without any subject left to experience it.”
MY FINAL RESPONSE AFETR NO RESPONSE
I haven’t seen a response yet. Which is fitting… because whom would be responding to whom? Put another way, would there be one mind trying to actively convince the other mind that no minds exist at all?
Here’s another way to see the same thing, Dan Story weighs in again:
It may be possible that nothing exists. However, it is impossible to demonstrate that nothing exists because to do so would be to deny our own existence. We must exist in order to affirm that reality doesn’t exist. To claim that reality is an illusion is logically impossible because it also requires claiming that the claim itself is unreal—a self-defeating statement. If reality is an illusion, how do we know that pantheism isn’t an illusion too?
[The above beliefs found in neo-Pagan, Pantheism, Panentheism affects the idea of “beauty” as well]
So many belief systems struggle with the reality of a soul of a “person.” People who just believe it to be the case live in the West and have been influenced through Western culture that has come through the stream of Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome.
In other words, for someone to say “if they could see the soul” are assuming a Judeo-Christian construct that they may not adhere to. They are “borrowing” something that they like from one religion and “quilting it together” illogically with another belief. The two cancel each-other out. Logically speaking.
“Either something is good (holy) because God commands it or else God commands something because it is good.”
If you saysomething 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.
…At first it seems like we’re stuck. Except, as mentioned earlier, this dilemma has been resolved for centuries: God is good. He is the source of goodness. He is the moral standard. His commands are not arbitrary, nor do they come from some standard external to him. They are good because they flow from his innate goodness. Dilemma averted.
Euthyphro is dead.
Now I know this doesn’t settle the issue of God’s goodness. Since this article is only intended to discuss the Euthyphro dilemma, I’ll just briefly touch on two related objections:
1 – God is not good. This is typically in response to an action or command from God in the Old Testament. And I agree that there are some things that are hard to understand and need to be discussed. But generally speaking, if we question God’s goodness, what are we judging him against? Our own moral standard? Then it’s our opinion against God’s and, if he truly exists, I’m going to trust his judgment over any finite, fallible human’s.
2 – How do we know that God is good? This question completely misses the point of Euthyphro’s resolution: God is the standard of goodness. There is nothing to compare him against or judge him by. But let’s suppose there does exist some higher moral standard. By applying this objection’s logic, we should ask “How do we know that this standard is good?” See the problem? You’re forever asking “How do we know?” to any moral standard. But if there is an objective moral standard, that is the standard by which morality is measured. It simply is good.
The best you can do is try to find some kind of inconsistency in God’s moral character. But then you can still only judge him against himself, which would point you back to objection 1. And even if you feel that one (or both) of these objections has not been resolved, my broader point is that the Euthyphro dilemma fails as a dilemma since there’s a third possible option, whether you like it or not. Thus, it’s an invalid argument.
Euthyphro is dead.
Why do skeptics keep digging him up? You may as well as ask why zombies keeps coming back. Because they do. That’s what makes them zombies. Bad arguments will always come back into fashion. But you need to see Euthyphro for what he is: a dead, defeated argument. Yet unlike zombies from TV shows and movies, he has no bite. He doesn’t even have teeth. His dilemma has been resolved for centuries….
The Euthyphro dilemma comes from Plato’s Euthyphro dialogue, which has had different forms over the centuries. Basically, it is “Are moral acts willed by God because they are good, or are they good because they are willed by God?” Another way of saying it is, does God say that things are moral because they are by nature moral, or do they become moral because God declares them to be?
The dilemma is that if the acts are morally good because they are good by nature, then they are independent of God and morality somehow exists apart from God. These acts would already be good in themselves, and God would have to appeal to them to “find out” what is good. Of course, This raises questions on how moral absolutes can exist as independent abstract entities apart from a divine being. On the other hand, if something is good because God commands that it is good, then goodness is arbitrary, and God could have called murder, good, and honesty not good. The problem here is that it means God could also be a tyrant if he so chose to be. But, he chooses to be nice.
Responding to the Euthyphro Dilemma
The Euthyphro dilemma is actually a false dichotomy. That is, it proposes only two options when another is possible. The third option is that good is based on God’s nature. God appeals to nothing other than his own character for the standard of what is good and then reveals what is good to us. It is wrong to lie because God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), not because God had to discover lying was wrong or that he arbitrarily declared it to be wrong. This means that God does not declare something to be good (ignoring his own nature) or say that something is good by nature (recognizing a standard outside of himself). Both of these situations ignore the biblical option that good is a revelation of God’s nature. In other words, God is the standard of what is good. He is good by nature, and he reveals his nature to us. Therefore, for the Christian, there is no dilemma since neither position in Euthyphro’s dilemma represents Christian theology.
In a sense, this is a philosophical statement considering the time and place they were:
in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began [Greek: before times eternal] (ESV)
in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. (HCSB)
This faith and knowledge make us sure that we have eternal life. God promised that life to us before time began—and God does not lie. (ERV)
My aim is to raise hopes by pointing the way to life without end. This is the life God promised long ago—and he doesn’t break promises! (MSG)
Here, Frank Turek and Hank Hanegraaff discuss the issue in under 4-minutes:
Hank is holding Frank’s Book at a certain page[s]… I will reproduce the sections prior to, as well as the section from his book on the Euthyphro Argument in the APPENDIX.
STAND TO REASON
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 because there is a third viable option (the site where I grabbed this originally is gone, therefore, so is the link. STAND TO REASON has a good post that stands in as a supplemental link):
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…. [see STAND TO REASON about “atheistic moral Platonism”]
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.
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 dilemma 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. (BE THINKING quoting Dr. Craig)
They [“the Good”] are the necessary expression [“commands”] of the way God “is” — RPT.
One of the most important notes to mention is that once there is a third alternative, there is no longer a dilemma.
TRUE FREE THINKER
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 — Craig”s audio follows Mario’s). Mariano Grinbank does a bang-up job below (Grinbank’s article being read by someone else):
The next few paragraphs my editor wanted me to take out. He said it repeats too much from above. He’s right to a certain extent. But it can’t be left out because many atheists I meet think I’m making an argument that I’m not making. (It’s probably my fault.) So let me spell it out as explicitly as I can.
I am not saying that you have to believe in God to be a good person or that atheists like David Silverman are immoral people.
David seems like a very nice man. And some atheists live more moral lives than many Christians.
I am also not saying that atheists don’t know morality or that you need the Bible to know basic right and wrong. Everyone knows basic right and wrong whether they believe in God or have the Bible or not. In fact, that’s exactly what the Bible teaches (see Romans 2:14-15).9
What I am saying is that atheists can’t justify morality. They can act morally and judge some actions as being moral and others immoral (as David Silverman does). But they can provide no objective basis for those judgments. Whether it’s the Holocaust, raping and murdering children, eating children, aborting children, or who adopts children, atheists have no objective standard by which to judge any of it.
Let me go out on a limb and suggest that if your worldview requires you to believe that raping children, murdering children, eating children, and slaughtering six million innocent people is just a matter of opinion, then you have the wrong worldview.
No Book Without an Author—No Morality Without God
Unlike David Silverman, Sam Harris is a new atheist who believes in objective morality. In his book, The Moral Landscape, Harris maintains that objective morality is related to “the well-being of conscious creatures,” and that science can help us determine what brings “well-being” to conscious creatures.
What’s objectionable about that thesis? Well-being is usually associated with moral choices (although not always). And science may help us discover what actually helps bring about well-being. The problem with Harris’s approach is that he is addressing the wrong question.
The question is not what method should we use to discover what is moral, but what actually makes something moral? Why does a moral law exist at all, and why does it have authority over us?
The Moral Landscape gives us no answer. It’s a nearly three-hundred-page-long example of the most common mistake made by those who think objective morality can exist without God. Harris seems to think that because we can know objective morality (epistemology), that explains why objective morality exists in the first place (ontology).
You may come to know about objective morality in many different ways: from parents, teachers, society, your conscience, etc. (Harris talks about brain states.) And you can know it while denying God exists. But that’s like saying you can know what a book says while denying there’s an author. Of course you can do that, but there would be no book to know unless there was an author! In other words, atheists can know objective morality while denying God exists, but there would be no objective morality unless God exists.
Science might be able to tell you if an action may hurt someone—like if giving a man cyanide will kill him—but science can’t tell you whether or not you ought to hurt someone. Who said it’s wrong to harm people? Sam Harris? Does he have authority over the rest of humanity? Is his nature the standard of Good?
To get his system to work, Sam Harris must smuggle in what he claims is an objective moral standard: “well-being.” As William Lane Craig pointed out in his debate with Harris, that’s not a fail-safe criterion of what’s right. But even if it was, what objective, unchanging, moral authority establishes it as right? It can’t be Sam Harris or any other finite, changing person. Only an unchanging authoritative being, who can prescribe and enforce objective morality here and beyond the grave, is an adequate standard. Only God can ground Justice and ensure that Justice is ultimately done.
Can’t Evolution Explain Morality?
We’ve already seen that an atheistic worldview can’t account for objective morality, as even Richard Dawkins once admitted. He wrote, “It’s pretty hard to get objective morality without religion.” Yet some atheists persist in claiming that evolution somehow gives us objective morality to help us survive—that if we didn’t “cooperate” with one another, we wouldn’t survive. But this argument doesn’t survive for several reasons.
First, trying to explain morality by biology is a massive category mistake. A category mistake is when you treat something in one category as if it belongs in another category. Questions like those posed earlier do that: “‘What is the chemical composition of justice?” or “What does courage taste like?” Justice and courage do not have chemicals or flavor, so the questions commit category mistakes.
The same is true when atheists try to explain moral laws by biological processes. Morality and biology are in different categories. You can’t explain an immaterial moral law by a material biological process. Justice is not made of molecules. Furthermore, moral laws are prescriptive and come from authoritative personal agents. Biological processes are descriptive and have no authority to tell you what to do. How could a mutating genetic code have the moral authority to tell you how you ought to behave?
Second, biological processes can’t make survival a moral right. There is no real “good” or purpose to evolution. Without God, survival is a subjective preference of the creature wanting to survive, but not an objective moral good or right. Biology describes what does survive, not what ought to survive. Why should humans survive as opposed to anything else? And which humans, we or the Nazis?
If one could make the case that survival is somehow a right, then should a person rape to propagate his DNA? Should a person murder if it helps him survive? Should a society murder the weak and undesirables to improve the gene pool and help the desirables survive? Hitler used evolutionary theory to justify just that.
You can’t answer those moral questions without smuggling a moral law into the evolutionary worldview. As Sam Harris rightly puts it, “Evolution could never have foreseen the wisdom or necessity of creating stable democracies, mitigating climate change, saving other species from extinction, containing the spread of nuclear weapons, or of doing much else that is now crucial to our happiness in this century.” Indeed, evolution describes a survival-of-the-fittest outcome. It doesn’t prescribe a moral outcome. That’s why Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, to their credit, are anti-Darwinian when it comes to morality. They just don’t realize that they are stealing a moral law from God when they condemn a survival-of-the-fittest ethic.
Third, physical survival isn’t the highest moral virtue. Sacrificing yourself to save someone else, as our military heroes often do, is the highest form of morality and love—far higher than mere survival. That’s exactly what Jesus claimed and then did for us.14
Fourth, since evolution is a process of change, then morals must change. Rape and murder may one day be considered “good.” So if evolution is your guide, it’s impossible for morals to be objective and unchanging.
Fifth, the assertion that evolution gave us morality as a kind of “social contract” to enable civilization isn’t an adequate ground for objective morality. ‘What if someone violates the “contract?” Is he immoral for doing so? To judge him wrong, you would again need to appeal to an objective moral law beyond any “social contract,” like we did in order to condemn the Nazi “social contract.”
Finally, the claim that we wouldn’t survive without cooperation is a pragmatic issue, not a moral issue. And it isn’t even true. Many people survive and even prosper precisely because they don’t cooperate with other people! Criminals often prosper quite nicely. So do dictators. Atheist Joseph Stalin murdered millions more people than he cooperated with. He never got justice in this life. He died comfortably in bed at the age of seventy-four, shaking his fist at God one last time.
Atheists call murderers like Stalin, Mao, and Poi Pot, who were atheists themselves, “madmen”—as if reason alone should have led them to act morally. But those dictators were very reasonably following their atheistic belief that without God, everything is permissible. Reason is a tool by which we discover what the moral law is, but it can’t account for why the moral law exists in the first place. For the moral law to exist, God must exist. If God does not exist, then why shouldn’t Stalin and Mao have murdered to get what they wanted, especially since they knew they could get away with it? That certainly was not “unreasonable.”
From Euthyphro to Elvis
“Not so fast,” say atheists. “Even if evolution doesn’t work as the standard of morality, you can’t ground objective morality in God either. You’re forgetting about the Euthyphro dilemma.”
Euthyphro is a character in one of Plato’s writings who poses a couple of questions that either make God subject to objective morality or an arbitrary source of morality. The supposed dilemma goes like this: Does God do something because it is good (which would imply there is a standard of Good beyond God), or is it Good because God does it (which would imply that God arbitrarily makes up morality)?
But this is not an actual dilemma at all. An actual dilemma has only two opposing alternatives: A or non-A. We don’t have that here. In this situation we have A and B. Well, maybe there is a third alternative: a C. There is.
When it comes to morality, God doesn’t look up to another standard beyond Himself. If He has to look up to another standard, then He wouldn’t be God—the standard beyond Him would be God. Nor is God arbitrary. There is nothing arbitrary about an unchanging standard of Good.
The third alternative is that God’s nature is the standard. God Himself is the unchanging standard of Good. The buck has to stop somewhere, and it stops at God’s unchanging moral nature. In other words, the standard of rightness we know as the Moral Law flows from the nature of God Himself—infinite justice and infinite love.
How can God’s nature account for ultimate value? Before answering that, we need to reiterate that an atheistic worldview can’t account for the objective value of human beings. On an atheistic worldview, we’re nothing but overgrown germs that arrived here accidentally by mindless processes and thus have no ultimate purpose or significance. Life is meaningless. We are each objectively worth zero. And adding a bunch of us up into a society doesn’t create value. If you add up a bunch of zeroes, the total worth is still zero.
But on a Christian worldview, God is the ground and source of ultimate value, and He endows us with His image. Therefore, our lives have objective value, meaning, and purpose. If there is a real purpose to life—a “final cause” as Aristotle put it—then there must be a right way to live it. After all, to get to a specific destination, you can’t just go in any direction. Morality helps inform us of that direction. That means God doesn’t arbitrarily make up moral commands. He’s not an exasperated parent who justifies everything with, “Just do it because I said so!” God’s commands are consistent with His moral nature and point us to the final cause or objective goal of our lives (more on that goal later).
So the source of our lives as human beings is God, not primordial slime. And source is important. You can see the importance of source by considering the most expensive items ever sold at auction:
The most expensive lock of hair: Elvis Presley’s, $115,000.
The most expensive piece of clothing: Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress, $1,267,500.
The most expensive piece of sports memorabilia: Mark McGwire’s 70th-home-run ball from 1998, $3,000,000.
People ascribed enormous value to those items not because the raw materials are that valuable—you can get hair, dresses, and baseballs for a lot less—but because of the source of each item. People or events that are deemed special are connected with those items.
The values of those items are extrinsic in that they are ascribed by whatever the buyers want to pay. But if Christianity is true, your value is intrinsic because you are connected to God. Your value is based on the worth infused into you by the source and standard of all value, God Himself.
Marinate in that for a minute: The infinite God has endowed you with immeasurable worth. The majestic heavens aren’t made in His image, but you are! That’s why you have moral rights. As Thomas Jefferson put it, “All men are created equal [and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Because of God, you are inherently valuable, and always will be, no matter what you’ve done or what anyone else thinks about you. Your value is far from zero. You are literally sacred.
Frank Turek, Stealing from God (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 98-106.
(Almost all the videos or audios below are from my YouTube Channel. I recovered many of them from my Vimeo account and my MRCTV account. Enjoy, I have worked all day on fixing audio and video to make them more presentable)
If C.S. Lewis was the greatest Christian expositor of the 20th century, Ravi Zacharias might well go down in history as the greatest of the 21st century. Both are often described as “apologists,” but that sounds defensive to the modern ear. (WASHINGTON TIMES)
“To my friend, my mentor and a great hero of the faith [Ravi Zacharias] — Thank you,” Tim Tebow wrote. “I know I’ll see you again and I look forward to that day. Love you brother.” (PJ-MEDIA)
First, let me say, I am a fan of Ravi Zacharias. A huge fan. He has impacted me in countless ways, and thus, he has impacted my family. As a three-time felon, I benefited from his insights into what a Christian worldview should look like, and how a Christian should present himself. But he is a man — in need of a savior and prone to missteps and falls. Like any of us. His statement via CHRISTIANITY TODAY makes note of this:
“I have learned a difficult and painful lesson through this ordeal,” Zacharias said. “I failed to exercise wise caution and to protect myself from even the appearance of impropriety, and for that I am profoundly sorry. I have acknowledged this to my Lord, my wife, my children, our ministry board, and my colleagues.”
Ravi, like many a person I know (myself included), will always make claims not in line with reality to lift ourselves up to a greater status in life to impress others. It is almost a default of our prideful nature. I acknowledge all these faults in Ravi, and in my own life — it is a long and complex life filled with spiritual falls, scrapes, wounds, and battles. Ravi’s message of how the Christian worldview is coherent whereas others are not is not changed by his faults and missteps. God’s truth is unchangeable. As imperfect vessels, we imperfectly reflect His perfection. As you can see one of Ravi’s misstatements is made in the following video… but that retelling of flawed history by Ravi has no impact on the truth of his response in showing the self-deleting assumption of the questioner:
With that being said, Ravi passed from this place to the next. In March 2020, it was revealed that Zacharias had been diagnosed with a malignant and rare cancer within his spine. If one wants a book by him that shows the elegance of his thought and skills as a writer, his book “The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives” is the book I recommend the most. A portion of this book in audio form has been used by myself in a presentation while filling in at an adult Bible study at church (Grace Baptist). the Below is an older post of mine (updated a bit) discussing this section of the book where God’s design of our life doesn’t end with Him knitting us together in the womb — along with the mentioned audio:
BEAUTY IS MORE THAN SKIN DEEP
In this presentation Ravi Zacharias takes his time explaining a talk he was present at where Dr. Francis S. Collins (WIKI) compares a cross section of DNA to a stained-glass Rose window from Yorkminster Cathedral. The design is apparent and Collins mentions it a huge boost to his faith.
At The Veritas Forum at Caltech, Francis Collins shares two images representing the scientific worldview and the spiritual worldview. He asks whether there is a way to merge science & faith, and suggests that his experience is that these two perspectives are not in conflict. (The full presentation can be seen HERE):
“The picture (of the DNA) did more that take away one’s breath; it was awesome in the profoundest sense of the term – not just beautiful but overwhelming. And it almost mirrored the pattern of the Rose window… The intricacy of the DNA’s design, which pointed to the Transcendant One, astonished those who are themselves the design and who have been created semitranscendant by design. We see ourselves only partially, but through our Creator’s eyes, we see our transcendence. In looking at our own DNA, the subject and the object come together.”
END of POST
I have other uploads as well I have used in conversation over the years as well that are instructive to the armchair apologist. Here they are (some recently imported from my VIMEO account:
Ravi Zacharias responds with “precise language” to a written question. With his patented charm and clarity, Ravi responds to the challenge of exclusivity in Christianity that skeptics challenge us with.
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 upload. 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.
A Muslim student at Michigan University challenges Ravi Zacharias on Christianities seemingly lack of ability in keeping the “law” like Islam and Judaism do so well. How can Christianity be true if it isn’t doing that which God demands? (I have recently enhanced, greatly, the audio in the file from my original VIMEO upload… and reconfigured slightly the visual presentation.)
(February 12, 2014) This is for a group of men that are going through Gregory Koukl’s book, “Tactics.” Often times a person merely need to ask his accuser questions to better open up what they mean by their questioning.
✂Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” AND WHEN HE HAD SAID THIS, HE WENT OUT AGAIN…. (NASB – emphasis added)
One example of this “Socratic Method” can be seen here: “Socratic Method ~ Falling On Their Own Sword (Origins Myths)” The students start out sounding like experts and often times the Christians will shy away from conversation when in fact the person is basing their assumptions on a self-refuting idea[s], and all that is needed to bring it out are a few questions.
(March 31, 2013) Ravi Zacharias does a great job in explaining what pornography does to shame, the Holy, and the insatiable fire of not being able to satisfy men’s archetype they build in their minds eye.
(February 11, 2014) A quick witted response brings a light heart to a serious subject. This comes from an event today from the University of Pennsylvania, titled, “Is Truth Real?” Ravi Zacharias International Ministry has the longer version here.
This is part of the “Defending the Cosmological Argument” series. Table of Contents: PLAYLIST
Dr. William Lane Craig proves Al Ghazali’s premise that an actual infinite number of things is absurd by using Hilbert’s Hotel (if you’re an atheist listen carefully: Dr. Craig did not say actual infinites are non-existent). The following clip comes from Dr. Craig’s lecture: PLAYLIST
Atheist Jeffrey Shallit deliberately took William Lane Craig out of context on Hilbert’s Hotel. Craig responded: HILBERT HOTEL
Here’s the problem, it seems to me: in order for the collection to be completed, we must have already enumerated, one at a time, an infinite number of previous cards. But before the final card could be added, the card immediately prior to it would have to be added; and before that card could be added, the card immediately prior to it would have to be added; and so on ad infinitum. So one gets driven back and back into the infinite past, making it impossible for any card to be added to the collection.
This way of putting the argument is somewhat akin to Zeno’s argument that before Achilles could cross the stadium, he would have to cross half-way; but before he could cross half-way, he would have to cross a quarter of the way; but before he could cross a quarter of the way, he would have to cross an eighth of the way, and so on to infinity. Therefore, Achilles could not arrive at any point. Zeno’s paradox is resolved by noting that the intervals traversed by Achilles are potential and unequal. Zeno gratuitously assumes that any finite interval is composed of an infinite number of points, whereas Zeno’s opponents, like Aristotle, take the interval as a whole to be conceptually prior to any divisions which we might make in it. Moreover, Zeno’s intervals, being unequal, add up to a merely finite distance. By contrast, in the case of an infinite past the intervals are actual and equal and add up to an infinite distance.
About the best that the critic of the argument can do at this point, I think, is to say that if one adds cards at a rate of, say, one card per second, then the collection can be completed because there has been an infinite number of seconds in the beginningless past. But clearly this response only pushes the problem back a notch: for the question then is, how can the infinite collection of past seconds be formed by successive addition? For before the present second could elapse, the one before it would have to elapse, and so on, as before. Because the problem is applicable to time itself, it cannot be resolved by appealing to infinite past time.
(This is recovered audio from Vimeo*) While this is an older audio, it really is timeless… the topic in fact has been renewed every generation in the annals of human history since Grecian times and even waay back to the Garden when the Serpent said, “did God say…”?
*My Vimeo account was terminated; this is a recovered audio from it. (Some will be many years old, as is the case with this audio.)
Science tells us that universe came into being via The Big Bang. But how do you get from energy and matter to a self-aware human being? That takes three additional Big Bangs that science can’t explain. Noted theologian, Frank Pastore (who died in a motorcycle accident a few years ago… he will be missed), unravels this compelling mystery and, in the process, poses the ultimate question that every thinking person must face.
Mr. Atheist thinks these are verses Christians would rather skip. Some probably would, but in this episode, we walk through them and explain why context is key. Mr. Atheist seems unfamiliar with the ancient near-eastern contexts and languages that inform the proper translations and understandings of several passages on his list. (Also, The Bible On Slavery: Part One | Part Two)
Can something be true for you and not true for me? In other words, is the truth relative or is the truth fixed? How you answer this question shapes the way you look at the world. Renowned philosophy professor Paul Copan provides an excellent road map through this tricky and vitally important issue.
(There are really two “apologetics” [streams of arguments] below. The first is a refutation of Chimp/Human similarities; the second is a dealing with the underlying presuppositions and the self-defeating aspects of them [Jump To This]. And this post spawned a “SISTER POST” of sorts. Enjoy.)
0:35‘They’re 99% the same’
1:56 70% aligned and verified
3:55 Time needed for evolution
5:29Chromosomes don’t add up
6:57 What else is similar?
9:07 More than merely DNA
10:27 Useful in witnessing
11:52 These facts convince scientists
Here I want to offer a somewhat short refutation [NOT] of the perpetual myth about human and chimpanzee DNA being 99% similar. One friend included it in a comment to me:
A cat shares 85 percent of our DNA along with dogs. Plants 15-20 percent . We share 90% of the genome with a banana. Chimpanzees 99% nearly…
Here is my short response:
Not only that, but your idea of 99% is not a real stat as well. Many things have changed since that 1975 claim.* One example is that junk DNA is roundly refuted, and 2001 and 2005 Nature and Science Journal articles make clear that we share from 81% to 87% of DNA with chimps. That shouldn’t be a surprise since we both have eyes to see, stomachs to digest food, etc. So again, when I see you make claims above, rarely are they rooted in anything either current or true.
*(CREATION.COM)The original 1% claim goes back to 1975.2This was a long time before a direct comparison of the individual ‘letters’ (base pairs) of human and chimp DNA was possible—the first draft of the human DNA was not published until 2001 and for the chimp it was 2005. The 1975 figure came from crude comparisons of very limited stretches of human and chimp DNA that had been pre-selected for similarity. The chimp and human DNA strands were then checked for how much they stuck to each other—a method called DNA hybridization. (2.Cohen, J., Relative differences: the myth of 1%, Science 316(5833):1836, 2007; doi: 10.1126/science.316.5833.1836)
Even a recent 2006 TIME article continues the mantra when they say, “Scientists figured out decades ago that chimps are our nearest evolutionary cousins, roughly 98% to 99% identical to humans at the genetic level.” So while science moves on and corrects itself, our culture is stuck in what was said to be a proof, and reject what ACTUALLY an evidence against the evolutionary proposition. Similar refutations of evolutionary positions that Richard Dawkins and “Junk DNA.”
What do I mean by that? I mean that if something is said to be evidence and is used to promote [FOR] the evolutionary paradigm… and then it is shown not to be the case… wouldn’t it then logically be an evidence AGAINST this said paradigm? I think so.
MOVING ON… SORTA
Before zeroing in on the Chimp issue, one other quick note regarding a recent discovery that undermines this “similarity” idea. That is this study:
So startling, in fact, that according to David Thaler, one of the lead authors of the study, “This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could.”
The study’s very own author was so disturbed by how the conclusions challenged current scientific dogma that he “fought against it as hard as [he] could.” His “fight” gives credence to the study’s conclusions. His eventual acceptance, not to mention publication, of the conclusions speaks well of Thaler’s commitment to being a scientist first and an ideologue second.
According to traditional evolutionary thinking, all living things on Earth share common ancestry, with species evolving through a slow process of random mutation, natural selection, and adaptation over roughly 3.8 billion years. The idea that humans and most animals suddenly appeared at the same time a mere 200,000 years ago or less does not fit with that model.
“While thoughtful investigators may disagree about the precise age of the universe, we can be confident about its finite nature”
>>J Warner Wallace, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2015), 37.
Okay, back to the refutation of the 99% similarity. Here, Dr. Thomas Seiler, Ph.D., Physics, Technical University of Munich refutes compelingly this outdated TIME magazine article… and my friend:
…Most of you may have heard the statement that chimpanzees and humans are having 99% of their genes in common. However, what you are usually not told is that this result was not based on comparing the entire DNA of man and ape but only on comparing a very small fraction of it (ca. 3 %). The function of the other 97% of the genetic code was not understood. Therefore, it was concluded that this DNA had no function at all and it was considered “leftover junk from evolution” and not taken into consideration for the comparison between man and ape. Meanwhile, modern genetics has demonstrated for almost the entire DNA that there is functionality in every genetic letter. And this has led to the collapse of the claim that man and chimpanzee have 99% of their DNA in common.
In 2007, the leading scientific journal Science therefore called the suggested 1% difference “a myth.” And from a publication in Nature in 2010 comparing the genes of our so-called Y-chromosome with those of the chimpanzee Y-chromosome we know now that 60% of human Y-chromosome is not contained in that of the chimpanzee. This represents a difference of one billion genetic letters, known as nucleotides.
And modern genetics has recently made another important discovery which was very unexpected. Researchers found that all of the different groups of humans on earth, wherever they live and whatever they look like, have 99.9% of their genes in common. This leads to a problem for the hypothesis of evolution because if humans really were descended from the apes, then how could it be that we only have 40% of our Y-chromosome in common with the apes but at the same time there is almost a complete genetic identity among all humans? If there had been an evolution from ape to man then it should still go on among men and reveal significant genetic differences. These recent discoveries therefore drastically widen the gap between man and the animals. And they confirm that there are in reality no such things as human “races”. Asians, Europeans, Africans and Indigenous people from America and Australia only have superficial differences like color of skin or shape of the nose but they are all extremely similar on the genetic level.
And these recent breakthrough discoveries even go further. Today, because of the extreme similarity of the human genome, it is considered a well-established fact among geneticists, that all humans living on earth now are descended from one single man and from one single woman. In order to convince yourself of this you only have to search in the internet for the terms “mitochondrial Eve” or “Y-chromosome Adam”. These names were given by evolutionists in an ironic sense but now many regret that choice of name because this discovery perfectly confirms the Catholic Doctrine of Creation which has taught for 2000 years that all humans are brothers and sisters descended from one single human couple, the real historical persons Adam and Eve, not from a multitude of subhuman primates….
Wow. Enough said? Or will this myth still infect the brains of people wishing something to be true that continue to lose evidences for? One other noteworthy exchange from that conversation I wish to note here.
My friend said many things, which is convenient… many skeptics of young earth creationism or Christianity for that matter have paragraphs of bumper sticker [what they think are] facts strung together… like a lullaby to prove to themselves they are right. (What they ironically they call the GISH GALLOP [“it’s far easier to raise numerous unsubstantiated points than it is to refute them properly”] in referring to us.) Which is why I like to stop, and discuss one issue at a time. Which the above is.
When you do that, rarely does the position of the skeptic hold water.
Here is what my friend said:
I also see damage being done to children when you teach them things that are scientifically inaccurate. The earth is not 10000 years old…
ATHEOPATHS: in an evolutionary universe, concepts like “good” and “evil” are just illusions of our brains conditioned by millions of years of Darwinian evolution.
Also ATHEOPATHS: Christianity is evil child abuse.
While the main driver of the topic is a PSYCHOLOGY TODAY article that posits Christianity is harmful to children — just Christianity mind you…
It is a form a Christophobia – a fear of anything related to Christianity/Christ, A bias against one “particular” religious expression. A word I used in one of my first “conversation series” posts on my old blog (November of 2006): “theophobia” – a fear of “the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe”.
… is telling. The point that Doc Sarfati makes is Yuuuge. That is,
skeptics of the Faith like to use moral positions to refute the absolute morality of Christianity, or a position they attribute truth to and expect others to grasp said truth as, well, true — is not in fact the case if their worldview is reality. They pay no attention to the underlying aspect of where these laws or stated facts are reasoned from — mind or matter.
While the whole conversation is a bit drawn out, a refuting principle I used in it which is the same principle Dr. Sarfati taps into (i.e., the Laws of Logic), is this quote by J.B.S. Haldane
“If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”
It is the same as this reflection by Stephen Hawkings noted by Ravi Zacharias:
One of the most intriguing aspects mentioned by Ravi Zacharias of a lecture he attended entitled “Determinism – Is Man a Slave or the Master of His Fate,” given by Stephen Hawking, who is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, Isaac Newton’s chair, was this admission by Dr. Hawking’s, was Hawking’s admission that if “we are the random products of chance, and hence, not free, or whether God had designed these laws within which we are free.” In other words, do we have the ability to make choices, or do we simply follow a chemical reaction induced by millions of mutational collisions of free atoms? Michael Polyni mentions that this “reduction of the world to its atomic elements acting blindly in terms of equilibrations of forces,” a belief that has prevailed “since the birth of modern science, has made any sort of teleological [a reason or explanation for something in function of its end, purpose, or goal] view of the cosmos seem unscientific…. [to] the contemporary mind.”
 Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004), 118, 119.  Michael Polanyi and Harry Prosch, Meaning (Chicago, IL: Chicago university Press, 1977), 162.
John Cleese explains the above in a Monty Python view for the layman:
Here is Ravi again, but this time at a Q&A at Yale being challenged by a graduate student:
To be clear, my friend has no idea that what he has said is internally self-refuting. To show this working out with yet another skeptic of the Faith, here is apologist Frank Turek dispensing in similar fashion to Jonathan Sarfati (see below), Daniel Dennet:
Atheist Daniel Dennett, for example, asserts that consciousness is an illusion. (One wonders if Dennett was conscious when he said that!) His claim is not only superstitious, it’s logically indefensible. In order to detect an illusion, you’d have to be able to see what’s real. Just like you need to wake up to know that a dream is only a dream, Daniel Dennett would need to wake up with some kind of superconsciousness to know that the ordinary consciousness the rest of us mortals have is just an illusion. In other words, he’d have to be someone like God in order to know that.
Dennett’s assertion that consciousness is an illusion is not the result of an unbiased evaluation of the evidence. Indeed, there is no such thing as “unbiased evaluation” in a materialist world because the laws of physics determine everything anyone thinks, including everything Dennett thinks. Dennett is just assuming the ideology of materialism is true and applying its implications to consciousness. In doing so, he makes the same mistake we’ve seen so many other atheists make. He is exempting himself from his own theory. Dennett says consciousness is an illusion, but he treats his own consciousness as not an illusion. He certainly doesn’t think the ideas in his book are an illusion. He acts like he’s really telling the truth about reality.
When atheists have to call common sense “an illusion” and make self-defeating assertions to defend atheism, then no one should call the atheistic worldview “reasonable.” Superstitious is much more accurate.
Frank Turek, Stealing from God (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 46-47.
Or when the same naturalistic position is used to make moral statements… it should be taken as illusory. Philosopher Roger Scruton drives this point home when he says, “A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely negative,’ is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.” I agree.
Here is the promised longer quote[s] by Jonathan Sarfati:
…if evolution were true, then there would be selection only for survival advantage; and there would be no reason to suppose that this would necessarily include rationality. After a talk on the Christian roots of science in Canada, 2010, one atheopathic* philosophy professor argued that natural selection really would select for logic and rationality. I responded by pointing out that under his worldview, theistic religion is another thing that ‘evolved’, and this is something he regards as irrational. So under his own worldview he believes that natural selection can select powerfully for irrationality, after all. English doctor and insightful social commentator Theodore Dalrymple (who is a non-theist himself) shows up the problem in a refutation of New Atheist Daniel Dennett:
Dennett argues that religion is explicable in evolutionary terms—for example, by our inborn human propensity, at one time valuable for our survival on the African savannahs, to attribute animate agency to threatening events.
For Dennett, to prove the biological origin of belief in God is to show its irrationality, to break its spell. But of course it is a necessary part of the argument that all possible human beliefs, including belief in evolution, must be explicable in precisely the same way; or else why single out religion for this treatment? Either we test ideas according to arguments in their favour, independent of their origins, thus making the argument from evolution irrelevant, or all possible beliefs come under the same suspicion of being only evolutionary adaptations—and thus biologically contingent rather than true or false. We find ourselves facing a version of the paradox of the Cretan liar: all beliefs, including this one, are the products of evolution, and all beliefs that are products of evolution cannot be known to be true.
*Atheopath or Atheopathy: “Leading misotheist [“hatred of God” or “hatred of the gods”] Richard Dawkins [one can insert many names here] often calls theistic religion a ‘virus of the mind’, which would make it a kind of disease or pathology, and parents who teach it to their kids are, in Dawkins’ view, supposedly practising mental child abuse. But the sorts of criteria Dawkins applies makes one wonder whether his own fanatical antitheism itself could be a mental pathology—hence, ‘atheopath’.” (Taken from the Creation.com article, “The biblical roots of modern science,” by Jonathan Sarfati [published: 19 May 2012] ~ comments in the “[ ]” are mine.)
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.
Hope your busy week was productive. I am coming up to crunch time myself here soon with this round of classes.
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:
“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) 
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.
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
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 in an infinite lineage of gods.” 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.
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, 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.
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.
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.)
 Mike Robinson, Presuppositional Apologetics Examines Mormonism: How Van Til’s Apologetic Refutes Mormon Theology (Denver, CO: Outskirts Press, 2007), 71-72.
 Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002), 285, 286-287.
iOrson 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.
iiiLorenzo Snow, MS, vol. 54, 404. Quoted in Hunter, 105-106.
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.
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.
 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].
 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).
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.
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.
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.
Of course, I continue to consider myself Christian, and I certainly don’t consider myself an atheist.
…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.
That an actual infinite is possible;
That there is an infinite regress of gods;
The universe and gods exist co-eternally;
That Jesus death on the cross was only for Adams sin;
That Jesus is a god (one of an infinite), not God;
That God didn’t create the space-time continuum;
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);
That blacks were cursed spirit children who stayed neutral in the heavenly (Kolobly) war;
That blacks will become white in heaven/Kolob, or a planet/heaven of their own;
That Joseph Smith and others said ALL other churches were corrupt;
That Joseph Smith has multiple First Vision accounts;
That Joseph Smith used occultic practices to translate the Book of Mormon;
That he had many, many wives;
That LDS have added Scripture;
That Brigham Young ordered the deaths of innocents;
That Brigham Young had many, many wives;
That Jesus had many, many wives (at least according to LDS);
That the Book of Mormon claims to be a historical book yet not one iota of evidence for it can be found;
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);
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;
That Heavenly Father had a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother who were also once human;
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)
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):
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.)
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.”
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)
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:
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.
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.
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.