Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Mormonism must Choose a Side...Damned if they do...Damned if they Don't

With the scientific reality that there was no universal flood, contrary to Mormon doctrine, Mormon apologists are offering an alternative flood scenario to help those that doubt maintain belief. This new alternative is referred to as a "Regional Flood" or one that still took place...only on a much smaller scale.

But Mormon apologist want to have their cake and eat it too...but by abandoning a universal flood in favor of a regional flood...all kinds of problems begin to unravel.

A few years ago a group of BYU science professor’s bravely placed their neck’s on the Mormon chopping block by publishing an article in “Dialogue” that clearly put a nail in the coffin of Mormonism’s Universal flood doctrine …or did it really only create more cognitive dissonance? See link

While these professors successfully show why the concept of a universal flood is a na├»ve one, one that cannot be supported by reality…they dare not come out and disavow a Noahic flood altogether. They still want it both ways.

So once again schizophrenic Mormonism is trying to straddle two completely conflicting positions…one taught in its Sunday Schools and an opposing position being defended by its apologetic community. Neither position can be reconciled against the other nor with science or Book of Mormon claims.

If one accepts reality and rejects the doctrine of a universal flood one must also admit that Mormonism's most priced scripture is well...wrong

Ether 13:2 reads:

“For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof;

Clearly the Book of Mormon is teaching that the waters of a universal flood (how else could they have receded off of America AND placed Noah's Ark in the Middle East) had engulfed the mythical land of the fictional Ether and had receded off of it…leaving Ether’s America, a land choice above all lands.

This reality check is undefendable. The doctrine of a universal flood is destroyed in the article written by the BYU science professors. Yet the Book of Mormon clearly states that the America’s where subject to this same mythical universal flood.

In one fell swoop...another crack is found in the Mormon foundation.

I just don’t see any wiggle room for Mormon’s apologetic defenders out of this one…

Score one for TRUTH…


meagan said...

Hi Craig, nice to see another post from you! Although I believe there was some kind of regional or local flood, probably form the melting ice age, I agree that there is really no way out for the mormon apologists here.

I imagine them sitting in a conference room, drinking their sprite and spurting out theories that would bring the two even remotely related to keep the masses fooled. They all just have to know the truth. God damn them apologists!

Chris said...

We might add that if the Garden of Eden was in America, then the only explanation for how his descendants ended up in the Middle East per the Book of Genesis is a global Noahic Flood.

Tim said...

Hi Craig,

This seems pretty straightforward to me. While Moroni, who is speaking, and Ether, who he's talking about, may have believed that Noah's flood covered the American continent, they don't have any proof. None of them were actually there on the American continent to see it happen, given Noah's flood pre-dating the alleged colonisation of a part of the American continent by Book of Mormon people. So in the absence of evidence either way, they're assuming that Noah's flood, which they had been taught about, WAS a universal flood. Now, with more scientific knowledge, Mormon apologists are simply saying they're wrong also. So isn't simply just a case that Moroni and Ether could have wrongly believed in a universal flood, like many do these days? The authenticity of the Book of Mormon hardly rests upon whether these guys were accurate on the details of Noah's flood. They're allowed to make mistakes.


Cr@ig said...

Dear Tim,

Thanks for participating in my blog…I appreciate your contribution.

So if I understand your premise…you use “reality” as a gage to measure the so called truth claims of the Book of Mormon. And with this gage you have come to a conclusion that Ether/Moroni were wrong when they believed that a universal flood had reached the America’s. Fair enough.

So can I ask you then…do you use this same gage to measure other Book of Mormon claims that are also in conflict with reality?

The Book of Mormon describes several bronze aged civilizations…yet we know that pre-Columbian America only reached stone aged levels.

When Mormon /Moroni mention wheeled vehicles, metallurgy, non-American domestic animals and grains …were these also mistakes… (Yes I know how Mormon apologists unsuccessfully twist these realities trying to make them believable)

Why isn’t your same reality gage test being used in these instances?

Would it fair for me to extrapolate from your premise that anything found in the Book of Mormon that doesn’t reconcile with reality was just speculation on the part of either Mormon or Moroni. Ummm…that makes it rather convenient. As you say…” They're allowed to make mistakes”.

Could you give me a list of their mistakes? Who gets to pick and choose what parts of the Book of Mormon are reliable…and which should be dismissed as the mistakes of Mormon , Moroni and Joseph Smith…oh thats right only those parts that aren’t based in reality.

Well by that standard…the book clearly belongs in the fiction section of any library.

Tim said...

Hi Craig,

While I'm somewhat familiar with the issues you mention regarding the BOM, I'm certainly no expert. Personally, I don't get too hung up on these issues, because the most important 'truth' of the Book of Mormon for me is what it teaches about the gospel of Christ. If there are translation mistakes, or even embellishments, on the part of Joseph Smith when it comes to describing animals, methods of living etc etc, I don't have a huge problem with it. That's not the core of the book. Presumably you grew up with the idea, as did I, that Joseph Smith was some kind of pure oracle that God spoke his unadulterated word through. Neither of us believe that anymore, but I don't see the need to label the guy a complete fraud either. I see him as a guy striving for inspiration and revelation, and making mistakes in the process. At the end of the day I've got to ask myself whether I think his life's work suggests that God did indeed lead him. And when I read the BOM, I believe that, with what it teaches about Christ and life. The other issues are second-order concerns for me. I personally see God speaking through Joseph often enough that I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt in other cases.

I guess some of you will just think I'm doing some kind of contortions to maintain my activity in the Church, but I don't see it that way.

Interested to hear your thoughts Craig. It seems from what you've written on your blog that you leaving the Church has been made difficult for you by friends/family. I've seen that too. It's clearly a problem that some LDS have, in not treating people who leave well. Something that needs to change.

Cr@ig said...

Thanks again Tim for your participation and comments.

I go back to a quote from Thomas Edison...

"Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope."

Mormonism if true is worth any sacrafice...if false, despite its not worth anyones involvement in the end...for it is just a false hope...


Tim said...

I'd like to quote Davis Bitton:

"I don't have a testimony of Church history"

Instead I have a testimony of the restored gospel of Christ. All that requires is that I believe God visiting Joseph Smith, that he inspired him in producing the BOM and D+C, and that he continues to inspire leaders. Those things are untestable. You talk about fiction, but there's no way of concluding those propositions are fiction, nor that they are fact. It requires a different approach, based on what you feel. What fiction do you think I have faith in?

It seems to me that your approach mirrors those of the narrow-minded LDS you have little time for. They see God working in every facet of their lives, and being influential in every act and thought of their leaders. It's a very absolutist view, and not one that I, nor many other LDS, subscribe to. But you seem at the other end, where because you find some mistakes and imperfections (including some very weird stuff, I admit), you conclude that God is nowhere in Church history, and that it's a fraud. I'm more of the view that God has, and continues, to work through imperfect people.

Cr@ig said...

Tim Quoted: "I don't have a testimony of Church history"

Cr@ig’s Response: Tim, I have the highest respect for you and your faith. But with all due respect, the history of the LDS church “IS” part of the foundation of a testimony in the church. For “IF” any of the spectacular claims found within Mormon history are fraudulent, fictional, embellishment, imaginary or just plain made up … then I don’t care HOW much FAITH one places in those claims…I Don’t care HOW much one’s life is perceived to be benefitted…I don’t care HOW wonderful it makes you FEEL…if its foundation is not what it claims…then in the end…it IS an utter waste of one’s time, talents and means.

The real message behind Bitton’s quote is… “Houston, we have a problem…how can we make this problem disappear? Ah I know…we can make the members think that these problems don’t matter by crafting a little ‘think-stopping’ couplet…I don’t have a testimony of church History…I have a testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Bitton is hoping that his little sleight of hand magician trick will divert your attention away from the problems laying at the core of Mormonism’s truth claims.

He is hoping that you by buying into his little ‘think-stopping’ couplet you will take your eyes off the ball and not examine, scrutinize or question the many shaky claims found at the core of the LDS church.

Why would he do this???

Because he doesn’t want you to seek the truth, to lose belief.

He wants you to continue to believe despite the evidence or lack of evidence to support Mormonism’s truth claims.

Tim I want to ask you a sincere question. IF the LDS church were NOT what it claims to be…how would one know? By what test? By what measurement? And before you tell me that Moroni’s promise and a sincere prayer are the test or measurement…you really should know something about Moroni’s promise.

In philosophy, Moroni’s promise is what is called “Circular Reasoning” (do a Google search).

Circular reasoning is an inference drawn from a premise that includes the conclusion.

Here’s an example:

[The Premise]

Moroni promises that if one is sincere and asks God if the Book of Mormon is True…God will answer you and tell you that it is true.

[The Inference]

If you are sincere enough, God will answer your prayer with an answer that the book is true.

[Here’s the Conclusion]

God will tell you that the book is true.

Me: But what if the Book of Mormon is false?

LDS: It can’t be…that was NOT one of the options…it can only be found to be true.

Me: but what if I didn’t receive “THE” promised answer?

LDS: Then you didn’t try sincerely enough…try again.

Me: Ok I did it again and STILL didn’t receive “THE” answer.

LDS: Well because the Book “IS” true and that is the only posible answer, you STILL must not have tried sincerely enough…go back and do it again and again and again until you do receive the ONE and ONLY ANSWER.

You see Tim, in circular reasoning…a conclusion that does not support the original premise...ALWAYS take you back to the beginning in one continuous circle.

Only conclusions that support the premise are acceptable. Therefore the premise [Moroni’s promise] is a false premise.

So I ask you again…If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was NOT what it claims to be…How would I know?

See below for conclusion...

Cr@ig said...

{continued from above post}

I’ll offer some answers to this question:

01. There would be inconsistencies in the stories behind its historical claims.

02. Witnesses to important events would themselves prove to be unreliable.

03. Supportive evidence would instead support alternative conclusions rather than the churches traditional views…in other words…the church would change its position to meet the science rather than the science accepting the churches positions. (think of Hemispheric vs. Limited Geography theory, Asian migration vs Middle Eastern, South East Asia migration for Polynesian’s vs American) Tim, nothing in the claims of the Book of Mormon regarding the civilizations described in the Book of Mormon have ever been supported by the science. But then this is EXACTLY what one would expect to find if the Book of Mormon were fiction rather than real.

04. The church would begin to change the reasons and logic behind difficult issues to make them less difficult. (many church apologist are now accepting and teaching the reality that Joseph Smith was NOT a faithful husband to Emma and after all was only a man with the weaknesses of a man)

05. The Prophecies of Mormon’s prophets would be no more accurate than a business forecaster. In other words, they would be just as human as the forecasts of other humans who claim no such help from a God.

And I’ve only touched the tip of a very deep ice berg…But Tim…I’d like your list of how one could know if the church were not all it claimed to be… I await your reply

Tim said...

"But Tim…I’d like your list of how one could know if the church were not all it claimed to be… I await your reply"

Very happy to reply Craig. But first, talking about what the Church claims to be is pretty difficult to define. Different people will have different views. Does one leader speak for the Church, or not?

Makes much more sense for me to instead provide an answer to how we might know whether the Church is actually the restored gospel of Christ, as it claims to be.

And the answer - it has to be arrived at spiritually. It simply can't be reasoned through. As I mentioned earlier, it comes down to whether a person sees the hand of God in the BOM/D+C, and whether he believes Joseph was visited. You seem to want to intellectualise these things, but I don't think it's possible. There's no way we can prove these things one way or another. (Incidentally, I fully agree with your views on Moroni's promise - it isn't particularly rational. It's a spiritual teaching that must be understood by our spiritual selves).

You may think this is an airy-fairy type answer, but that's the nature of religous belief. We can't prove of disprove God's existence, or prove or disprove Jesus's resurrection, and neither can we prove or disprove whether God appeared to, and revealed things to, Joseph Smith.

You may think apologists want to slip a whole bunch of strange things under the carpet. I'd suggest that they're merely trying to offset the work of ex-LDS who blow all these things out of proportion. You're focused on a very sanitised, often incorrect history that you (and I) were taught by naive and well-meaning people. And perhaps there's an element in which some leaders thought suppressing the whole truth would be be beneficial. (Wrongly in my view, but everyone's entitled to make mistakes). But I've sorted through all that and still find truth in the foundational claims, to my own satisfaction. But obviously it's different for you.

You said "For “IF” any of the spectacular claims found within Mormon history are fraudulent, fictional, embellishment, imaginary or just plain made up … then I don’t care HOW much FAITH one places in those claims…I Don’t care HOW much one’s life is perceived to be benefitted…I don’t care HOW wonderful it makes you FEEL…if its foundation is not what it claims…then in the end…it IS an utter waste of one’s time, talents and means." I think I broadly agree - it's just that we have very different views on what constitutes these claims. You seem to think Joseph's moral character comprises one of these claims - I think it's just whether he received revelation or not.

Cr@ig said...

Tim, you intrigue me and I find myself respecting your position…just not agreeing with your conclusions.

I believe that you are in complete denial. I believe that you are an intelligent, thinking individual who has merely found a way to ignore and suspend reality in order to accommodate your faith.

However, I find you an articulate, well balanced, defender of your faith.

Since my enlightenment, I have encountered many defenders of your church who espouse this same philosophy of Mormonism. It is pure apologetics. Because the church IS all it claims to be and because we KNOW it to be true…all of the many inconsistencies and difficulties don’t matter…why? Because in the end, the church IS all it claims to be. So why get our garmies all in a bunch over things we don’t fully understand and can’t fully explain or apologize away…because after all is said and done…none of those things really matter.

This appears to be the “new safe harbor” for active members who have also become enlightened to the many difficulties and inconsistencies in the Mormon faith paradigm.

Now regarding your assertion that answers to spiritual questions must be arrived at through spiritual means …that they simply can't be reasoned through. I must admit that even as an active believing member of the church I had difficulty with this one. There is an aire of superiority within the church that “our” spiritual witness is somehow superior to the so-called spiritual witnesses of all other faith systems. I used to squirm as the instructor would teach out of the lesson manual how the LDS experience was superior since our spiritual experience…were..ah…from the Holy Ghost and thus God and therefore really a real spiritual witness…while all other faith based spiritual witnesses…were… ah…of the devil. How did he know this??? Because both LDS leaders and LDS scriptures say so. ding, ding, ding…more circular reasoning!!!

Tell me why the LDS spiritual witness requires one to ignore reality? What truth claim could be a reliable spiritually witnessed truth that has to ignore or suspend reality to make it believable? How can you (I’m assuming this premise) dismiss as truth, the truth claims of the Muslim and Evangelical faith paradigms? I suggest that you use your skeptical, quizzical, thinking mind when assessing their truth claims…while using an entirely different mindset when examining Mormon truth claims. You THINK, use logic and intellectualize their spiritual confirmation claims….but you don’t with your own??? How can this be credible??? Why the double standard?

Now regarding proving or disproving whether or not Joseph Smith actually saw God the Father and his son Jesus Christ. You are correct, no one can prove a negative. I cannot disprove his claim. BUT I can use my brain and discern whether or not Joseph Smith was a reliable, truthful person. I can look at the body of his life’s work to see if he was trustworthy. I can learn that he was a practitioner of fraudulent, deceitful activities from his youth through to the day he died. I can see that he was a gifted provocateur of tall tales. That he often used lies and deceit to hide his secrets. These things are unquestioned. So could this very flawed man still have seen what he claimed…sure…but is he a reliable, trustworthy, believable source for such a claim? Absolutely not.

Jay said...

Cr@ig, I do not know what profession you are, but as a fellow Scientist I understand that other Scientists often rely on guesswork and theory, especially when it comes to history. There is still a lot of theory about PANGEA (which the Bible supports). Which according to the Bible the earth was separated in the days of PELEG which was a long time after NOAH. If there was a regional flooding, it was when all the continents were together anyway as the Bible states.If the flood did not cover the American continent, you are stating that all semitic religions that believe in Genesis is incorrect and not just the mormons. As for trying to help out with a little bit of the arguments in the comments, a lot of the LDS/ Book of Mormon views on early civilization migration can be supported. There is not only ancient folklore from Hawaii that follows the Hagoth story very closely, but as a Scientist and especially one that works with genetics, I know that there is a lot of talk about the Asians inhabiting the polynesian islands and not from America, but either way there is a mix in their genes that come from each continent. Just because the particular gene they studied is an Asian and not native American trait, there are other genes that do show native American descent. Science has only just begun to study the human genome and scientific papers that are published are not always true, they are just thought to be so by some until they can be proven otherwise. I have taken classes that teach me to look for signs of weakness in a scientific paper and usually the ones I read about global migration lack a lot of result and rely on theory.