Posts Tagged Morality

Christianity and Politics, Should They Mix?

David P. Gushee wrote an USA Today column titled in big bold letters “Christian politics create unholy alliances”:

“They are at it again. Republican presidential candidates are trolling for conservative Christian votes. Christian political organizers are trolling for Republican candidates’ attention. (The next occasion will be the Republican candidate debate sponsored by The Family Leader in two weeks at a church in Des Moines.) The Democrats, too, will make some effort to join this game, as they did in the 2008 cycle.”

This is what he had to say about politicians “abuse of Christian symbols”:

“Politicians continue to use and abuse the language and symbols of Christian faith in order to win political support. They speak of God, Jesus, Christian faith and Christian values. They bow their heads in prayer at a million chicken dinners. Then Christian voters — perhaps flattered, perhaps reassured — think that these evocations of holy Christian symbols and terms actually mean something.”

Mr. David Gushee submits that the “trolling” conservatives are using “Christian values” (gasp!) as a means of winning “political support” (double-gasp!) from Christian America (blasphemy!).  For  Mr. Gushee’s sake  (and I expect about 40% of the rest of America) we ought to have a set of earplugs and blinders at the ready when watching the presidential debates. It’s for our own good;  us “rank-in-file Christians”. We just don’t what’s good for us. Wait? When was politics decreed sterile of worldviews? Christianity tugs a worldview behind it; when a candidate associates himself with this worldview, we acquire some deep insight into the mind of that candidate.  So, I guess my main question is this: how is it wrong for a politician to articulate his worldview truthfully? This question seems to be inaccurate, actually. Gushee isn’t angry at politicians expressing any old worldview; it’s the Christian one that irks him. Why ought politicians hide their religious beliefs? Is politics some sort of sacred ground in which the candidate is purged of all his Christian worldviews and then – enlightened in the ways of the secular humanist – is prepared to run the presidential race? It seems quite contrary to our intuition.  A candidate’s religion usually dictates the ethics that he conforms to. Therefore, when a candidate submits that the Bible is the source of his moral standard, that’s a good thing to know ; understanding the worldview of the person you’re voting for is appropriate and ought to be encouraged.

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Bad Arguments for Atheism: Philosophy is Useless

The Depraved Effect of Empiricism:
“Philosophy, in the academic sense, is the art of asking questions that cannot be answered. Any idiot can ask that kind of question.
The awesome power of rational thought is that we can ask questions to which we CAN find the answer.
Only a total moron turns their back on that.”
— Chance Brown’s comment on this facebook page 

Should philosophy be utterly forgotten “since all we need is science”?  It’s actually kind of  ironic due to that fact that they employ a philosophy to say that “philosophy is stupid”. They are using philosophy to form their argument against philosophy! These people never seem to let me down.

Why We Need Philosophy:

All humans
 orient their lives around ideas of the nature of reality; how they explain their experiences of reality; and how they explain their ideas about what reality ought to be like. We formed all of these through the help of philosophy — no empirical evidence necessary and yet they are necessary for empirical evidence.

Human beings need metaphysical ideas
 because they are not born with instincts that determine  what they should think and want. We are born with the capacities to make up our own minds and to question any belief we have or meet. It is evident that most of the ideas in history that people have used to explain human experiences have been false or unfounded in many respects, and it is also evident that most of the ideas in history or direct human behaviour have been harmful to other human beings or to themselves. On the other hand, it is also evident that whatever adequate understanding people have of themselves, of others, and of their environment, is based on the asking and answering of the type of general questions that are philosophical. It is human to ask and answer such questions and to play with such ideas– it’s part of our nature.

All ideas about philosophy, including those that condemn philosophy, are themselves philosophical ideas. To declare all philosophical concepts useless, trifling, or impossible is little better than a refusal to do any serious philosophical reasoning. The ideas people live and die for,  war and kill for, are all philosophical ideas and are not meant to be shrugged off.

And finally, in Plato’s Apology, Socrates tells us that philosophy is a necessary tool for obtaining wisdom and knowledge. Socrates believed that in the absence of philosophy, we would not be able to question or disagree with our  thinking or ideas — we simply go with the flow and assume that whatever we  see, hear, or read is correct. As Socrates says, “… as long as I lead an unexamined life, I’m very unlikely to catch my errors and I’m very likely to go on fooling myself.”  Hmmm. I thought atheists didn’t like that. I thought they always cry out saying that we “religious folks” ought not to have a “blind faith” mentality — something that is produced when philosophy is absent from the mind.

So whenever a non-believer pulls this bluff as an argument, just give him the basic reasons why we need philosophy and how it’s actively used in everyday life; even in his own argument he’s forming against philosophy.

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God’s Foreknowledge vs. Free will. Is There a Problem?

“But for God, we have no free will. He knows already every influence, past, present and future on our lives. He knows how we behave – and will behave – in every situation. He knows whether we will worship or abandon him. It makes no difference what we do, whether we pray and worship or sin and blaspheme; God knows, even before we are born whether we will enter Heaven or Hell after we die. Our free will is an illusion; our lives are forever fixed in the amber of God’s mind.” (A post from an atheist website)

Many disbeliever agree with the above argument and commonly claim that God’s omniscience is a contradiction. How can God know everything and still allow free will? Their argument usually goes something like this:

1. God know every choice that you and I will make.
2. Since God’s knowledge is infallible, everything that God knows will happen necessarily.
3. Therefore, free will is an illusion.

As another atheist page stated, “If a god knows who will win the next presidential election, then it isn’t possible for anyone else to win.” Is this true? Does God’s omniscience (I’ll use this term interchangeably with foreknowledge; though they are technically different) negate our choice? As you will learn in the rebuttal, premise (2) does not lead to the conclusion.

A Rebuttal:
I’ll make this short and sweet: God’s omniscience does not compel future events to occur; i.e. omniscience does not necessitate you choosing A over B.

There are two necessities in the world — one basic, for example, chimpanzees are mammals; the other being conditional, for example, if you know someone is breathing, he must necessarily be taking in air. Therefore, if God foreknows Bob will walk at 9:14 AM, Bob will walk at 9:14 AM, because that’s the whole point of foreknowing something; it can’t be anything but what you foreknow. Doesn’t this raise a problem though, namely, does Bob walk at 9:14 AM because God foreknew it — or does Bob walk at 9:14 AM because Bob willed it?

Bob freely chooses to walk because there is no necessity that compels Bob, who is voluntarily walking, to choose to go forward; although it is necessary for him to go forward at the moment of walking (just as it is necessary to take in a breath when breathing). In the same way, if God sees anything in the future, that something must necessarily be, although it is bound by no necessity of nature (unlike the sun rising).

Let’s say that the sun was rising when Bob started walking at 9:14 AM. The sun rising and Bob walking at the moment of occurrence could not but be taking place (conditional necessity);  yet one of them before it took place was necessarily obliged to be, while the other freely chosen. Likewise, the things which to God are foreknown certainly exist, but some of them come from necessity of nature, while the others from the power of the agent.

I'm So Creative

Just because God foreknows that we will choose A over B, it doesn’t necessitate that we will choose it; it’s still up to us to choose. And honestly, I think we all know this inside; freedom of will seems to be a very basic and intuitional concept to mankind.

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Is God Really Free?

Free will and the nature of God can be pretty confusing stuff. A lot of people have a bunch of different opinions about it. I’m just gonna’ give you some of my thoughts on the subject:

How Free Is God?
About the only time this question arises is when we start asking, “Can God do everything?”. Some people start to say, “Yeah, He’s God. Duh!”. But after a little thinking, they then realize He cannot (1) be illogical and (2) be immoral. A logical God, I think, is a given, but what about the God and immorality? Does God have the ability to be immoral? If not, is God really free?

My Take:
God by definition doesn’t have the ability to be immoral. When the Bible says “God is good”, it’s basically saying “God’s nature is that of perfection”. God is the supremely perfect moral being of the universe. But the question arises, “Doesn’t this infringe on God’s free will?”. I’ll use an analogy by Harry Frankfurt:

‘Imagine a man with electrodes secretly implanted in his brain who is presented with a choice of doing either A or B [for our purposes, we’ll let A stand for good and B stand for evil]. The electrodes are inactive so long as the man chooses A; but if he were going to choose B, then the electrodes would switch on and force him to choose A. If the electrodes fire, causing him to choose A, his choice of A is clearly not a free choice. But supposed that the man really wants to do A and chooses it of his own volition. In that case his choosing A is entirely free, even though the man is literally unable to choose B, since the electrodes do not function at all and have no effect on his choice of A. What makes his choice free is the absence of any causally determining factors of his choosing A. This conception of libertarian freedom has the advantage of explaining how it is that God’s choosing to do good is free, even though it is impossible for God to choose sin, namely, His choosing is undetermined by causal constraints. Thus, libertarian freedom of the will does not require the ability to choose other than as one chooses.’

Since God’s nature is that of moral perfection, God will necessarily choose (A) freely and thus will never be forced to choose (A). Although it’s an impossibility for God to choose (B), God still has free will.  Think about it. A limitation in the range of possible choices is not the same as having no choice at all. If God is faced with a choice of either doing a particular set of good actions, (a), (b), and (c),  or a particular set of bad actions, (x), (z), and (y), His inability of choosing (x), (z), and (y) does not negate the fact that He freely chose (a), (b), and (c). In light of this, we can say with ease that God is actually free.

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Atheists Sue To Take A “Cross-shaped” Beam Out Of 9/11 Museum.

Excerpt from The New York Times:

“In the days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, some workers and mourners at the World Trade Center site seized upon a cross-shaped steel beam found amid the rubble as a symbol of faith and hope.

For the past five years, the 17-foot-tall cross was displayed outside a nearby Catholic church. On Saturday it was moved again, to the site of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, where it is to be in the permanent collection.

But the move quickly provoked a lawsuit from American Atheists, a nonprofit group based in New Jersey. They argued that because the cross is a religious symbol of Christianity and the museum is partly government financed and is on government property, the cross’s inclusion in the museum violates the United States Constitution and state civil rights law. The lawsuit, in turn, provoked the ire of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative public interest law firm, as well as others.”

The American Atheists claim:

“The installation of the cross at the September 11 Memorial and Museum is facially violative of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, which mandates: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

We Passed A Law?

Their claim would only make sense if (1) Congress is actually making a “law respecting an establishment of religion” or (2) Congress is actually making a law “prohibiting” free exercise of religion. Which, of course, they’re not. It’s bizarre that they seem to completely ignore this obvious fact.  Yes, there is a beam that resembles a Christian cross. Yes, the beam that resembles a cross is in a government-funded building. Your point? What if I make up a new religion that has a religious symbol resembling the White House? Does it follow that Congress is “facially violative of the First Amendment” for funding it? Why not? It’s the same logic the American Atheists are using.

The Beam-Cross Hurts Their Feelings?

“The challenged cross constitutes an unlawful attempt to promote a specific religion on governmental land, diminishing the civil rights, privileges or capacities of Atheist Americans, Agnostic Americans, Jewish Americans, Muslims…” etc.

How is a beam that resembles a cross “diminishing the civil rights” of anybody? I’m pretty sure your freedoms will be intact when you leave the museum. I’m just guessing though. The cross may be programmed to burn non-Christians eyes out. Or (and probably more reasonably) it could just represent the hope it gave Christians and others of the faith in one of the darkest times in America, but that’s beside the point. Right?

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Bad Arguments for Atheism: Old Testament Morality vs. New Testament Morality

Conflicting Morality?
To understand the historical context of both the Old and New Testaments is extremely important when making connections between our society and their society. When we fail to do this, we usually come to the wrong conclusions about scripture. An example of this is that many non-believers claim that there is an obvious conflict between the moralities in the Bible — Old Testament morality being more “cruel”, while New Testament is more “acceptable”. They also go on to say that if the morality in the Bible reflects God’s morality, then God’s morality is “changing”. This, they conclude, is a contradiction in God’s nature.

Contradiction In God’s Nature?
In the Bible, God’s commandments seem contingent on the moral and historical status of the people He’s dealing with. Jesus plainly affirms this in Matthew 19:8, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been that way.” Even though God didn’t intend marriage to be that way, He permitted divorce for the Israelites because of their moral depravity. Thus we can conclude that God’s commands are dependant on the historical context of the people. Different people at different times are to follow different commands.

Contradiction In The Bible’s Morality?
A contradiction is something that is logically incompatible between two statements. Given the fact that the Bible says that God’s commandments are historically conditioned and that the the New Testament was written in a totally different historical frame than that of the Old Testament’s, there isn’t any contradiction happening. Most of the laws given in the OT were never intended to be timeless ethical principles (like “unclean food”).  As proof of this, ancient Israel was a theocratic society with God at the head. That’s a huge contrast between our society and ancient Israel’s. Many acts, like adultery, were deeply immoral and deserved capital punishment. In our sexually promiscuous society such a view of adultery seems inconceivable, but I take that as a clear sign on how far we’ve fallen away from God. Think about it. Look at how much society’s view of marriage and purity has changed in the last hundred years. Now think about the last thousand years. It’s a huge transformation and isn’t necessarily in the right direction.

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Bad Arguments for Atheism: “No True Scotsman” and Anders Behring Breivik

Pointing Fingers:
After Anders Breivik went on one of the most deadly killing sprees in history with 76 confirmed murders, many started pointing fingers – especially at “christian fundamentalists“. Although Breivik was obviously not a “fundamentalist” in the theological sense, this doesn’t negate the claim that he considered himself Christian. Many Christians spoke out at this and said that Anders wasn’t a “true Christian”. However, many an atheist replied and claimed that Anders ought to be called a “true christian” and anyone that says he isn’t is committing the fallacy of No true Scotsman.

The Fallacy:
A simple version of the fallacy goes like this:
Joey: “All Americans like pizza.”
Timmy: “I don’t like pizza.”
Joey: ” Yes, but all true Americans like pizza.”

We can easily see the fallacy here. Joey starts out by saying that all Americans (somebody who comes from the United States) like pizza. Timmy is an American, but doesn’t like pizza. So what does Joey do? He refines the definition of Americans (somebody that hails from the United States) to “Americans” (somebody that hails from the United States and likes pizza) and then implies that Timmy isn’t an American based on the failure to meet up to his new definition. It’s a form of ad hoc reasoning and is highly unreasonable, even though all true Americans do like pizza.

The Atheist’s Argument:
Now, let’s look at the argument atheists and the like are making:
Smith: “All Christians follow the example of Christ.”
Johnson: “Anders Behring Breivik is a Christian.”
Smith: “Yes, but all true Christians follow the teachings of Jesus.”
Johnson: “Hey! You’re being illogical there!”

Debunking The Alleged Fallacy:
Where’s the fallacy? How is Smith being illogical? Let’s look: Smith said Christians (a person that follows Jesus’ teachings) follow the example of Christ. Johnson claims that Anders is a Christian. Smith replies by implying that Anders Breivik wasn’t a Christian and then gives the same definition that he gave earlier (Christians are people that follow Jesus’ teachings). Where’s the ad hoc reasoning? There isn’t any! Smith never refines his definition of Christian and is therefore not committing any fallacy.

A Different Fallacy Is Found:
When atheists (like Johnson in the example) say that Anders is a Christian, they’re completely assuming that he met up to the standards of being a Christian ( or a “fundamentalist Christian” for that matter).  They’re just begging the question.

Johnson: “How do you know Anders Behring Breivik is a Christian?”
Smith: “Because he said he was.”

But you see, being a Christian isn’t the same as saying you’re a Christian. Christianity isn’t a spectator’s sport – it’s full contact. This is what separates Christianity from most philosophies and religions: it’s faith coupled with works.  Without faith, you’re spiritually dead. Without works, you’re spiritually dead. They go hand in hand together.

In Conclusion:
As we saw above, nobody is committing a fallacy in saying that Anders wasn’t a true Christian. The fallacy just isn’t there. However, a fallacy is found in saying that Anders was a Christian just because he said he was. Christianity is more than just saying


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Moral Relativism vs. Moral Objectivism: Conventionalism.

Relativism is a very interesting belief that, well, doesn’t make a lick of sense. So why am I talking about it? Because most of the PC (Politically Correct, for those who don’t live in California) world believes in some type of moral relativism. It’s inescapable. That’s why I think it’s a completely relevant topic in today’s world and needs a response. To get started, let’s define the two types of mainstream relativism:

1. Conventionalism: Moral truths are completely or partially dependent on societal conventions. And for the ease of remembering, we’ll call this: “Societal Relativism” (i.e. if society believes (x), then you ought to do it).
2. Subjectivism: Moral truths are dependent on the personal preferences of the individual. We’ll call this: “I Say Relativism” (i.e. personal tastes: “Pizza Hut has the best pizza”).

In this post, I’ll start off by talking about some nonsensical conclusions of Societal Relativism (I’ll talk about I Say Relativism later):

The Euthyphro Dillema:

The Euthyphro dillemma applied to Societal Relativism basically goes like this: “Is ‘good’ supported by society because it is actually ‘good’, or is something ‘good’ because a particular society supports it?”.

The First Horn:

The answer to this one is pretty easy. If the relativist states that society supports something that is ‘good’ because it is ‘good’, then he’s not actually a relativist; he’s accepting that there is an alternative and more superior moral measuring stick, if you will, that society attempts to live up to. He is thus contradicting the core premise of moral relativism and ought to reconsider his beliefs.

The Second Horn:

This one is a little tougher, but not by much. If the relativist asserts that something is ‘good’ because a certain society supports, then a whole slew of problems happen:

Problem 1: A central belief of Societal Relativism asserts that all societal laws/beliefs equate to moral truths. This means that genocide, racism, infanticide, slavery, and oppression were all ‘good’. Really? Yup. If there are no ‘self-evident’ laws in the universe, this is what we end up with. I seriously doubt that you’ll meet any person that actually believes this, but if you do, then this person is, as William Lane Craig puts it, “morally handicapped” and needs to get some help.

Problem 2:
 If Societal Relativism is true, then anybody who opposes the ‘divine commands of society’ are immoral. Relativists agree with this. However, when taken to it’s logical conclusion, they seem to squirm. Why? Because people like, Martin Luther King Jr.,  Oskar Schindler,  and many others that opposed the ‘sacred law of the land’ are thus ‘evil’. It’s a logical conclusion and is inescapable. The men and women who risked their lives to save the Jewish people in the Holocaust were all ‘evil’. The men and women who risked their lives in assisting slaves in the Underground Railroad were all ‘evil’. The list goes on and on. Most Societal Relativists don’t even realize this. They believe that relativism fixes ethical problems, when in fact all it does is complicate things.

In Conclusion:
As we’ve seen above, Societal Relativism goes completely against our moral intuitions. Things like justice, fairness, blame, etc. just don’t make sense in a topsy turvy relativistic world. It just doesn’t fit. The Societal Relativist is either morally insane, delusional, or hasn’t actually thought about what he or she believes. This is why it is our duty to show the frankly evil conclusions of moral relativism and give the alternative: moral objectivism.

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Arguments For God: The Moral Argument

Definitions, Terms, And More:

This is probably one of the most convincing arguments for the existence of God and especially as a negation towards moral relativism. Now before we start the argument, let’s define a couple of important terms:

1. Moral duties: the obligation to retreat from the ‘bad’ and fulfill the ‘good’.
2. Moral values: ‘good’ and  ‘bad’.
3. Moral objectivism: moral values and duties that are independent of what people think (e.g. the Holocaust is bad, even if the Nazis succeeded in brainwashing the world to think that it wasn’t).
4. Moral relativism: moral values and duties that are dependent of what people think.
5. Moral intuition: an intuitional proposition is true because (1) it is self-evident, (2) needs no further justification, (2) and is known in full once all the facts are laid out (2+2=4 must be learned, but is justified by an appeal to intuition).

Here is the syllogism for the argument for those who like to see the logical flow:

1.  If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
1. Therefore God does exist.
With these in mind let’s begin the argument!

In Defense of Premise 1:
Many an atheist proudly affirm that objective morality exists even in the absence of God. They state that the origin of morality is derived from the evolutionary process and is grounded in our society. It’s merely an adaptation to our hostile environment – just like legs or arms. But an obvious problem arises when one claims this: morality doesn’t become objective in a naturalistic worldview, it becomes merely an illusion of the mind conditioned throughout the ages. Why? Because it was put in our minds for the sole purpose of increasing our survivability rate. Nothing else. Therefore, it becomes impossible to condemn war, oppression, racism, and sexual abuse as evil. Although, through the course of human evolutionary development, such actions have become ‘taboo’, there is no reason to believe that such actions are actually wrong. A person committing rape, for example, is simply going against the social norm and is thus on the same level as a person that belches at the dinner table or leaves the toilette seat up. The rapist is merely acting unfashionable.  Morality when coupled with evolution becomes relativistic and non-binding, not objective and obligatory.

Some radical types have retreated to a spin-off of the famous Platonic Good to explain the existence of objective morality without God. They posit that the abstract concepts of love, charity, compassion, etc. exist in their own eternal realm and act within the non-abstract realm. However, a contradiction arises from this. From their claim it follows that in the absence of people, universals like charity would still exist. Why? Because these traits allegedly exist in an independent abstract dimension. However, this statements is incoherent because charity isn’t actually charitable. Secondly, I don’t see how this abstract dimension could interact with the physical dimension. It just doesn’t make sense. But that’s besides the point. Even if the abstract could interact with the physical dimension how would we know what is ‘good’ or ‘wrong’, since the only thing these abstract ideas could do is simply describe a particular set of actions and not actually oblige us to do anything. Thus, this theory neglects to answer both the meta-physical and normative ethical questions.

In Defense Of Premise 2:

I think it’s important to remember that the burden of proof is on the one that makes claims that are different from our moral intuition. This is to say that any theory that seems to contradict our ethical intuitions needs justification.  But, this begs the question, do intuitions actually exist? The answer is yes. There are many different pathways to gaining knowledge and I think one of them is morality. I also think that with every pathway to knowledge there are certain “base beliefs”. These base beliefs range from things like self-awareness, mathematical equations, logical principles, and most importantly, basic moral laws. One might ask, “How do you know such ‘base beliefs’ exist?”. Well, Aristotle seemed to agree with me: “Some, indeed, demand to have the law proved, but this is because they lack education; for it shows lack of education not to know of what we should require proof, and of we should not. For it is quite impossible that everything should have a proof; the process would go on to infinity, so there would be no proof….” (Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1006a). If I always had to give justification for my beliefs, then I would have to ad infinitum. Forever. To stop this infinite regress one must appeal to the apparent: intuitions or base beliefs.

Take this conversation:
“What color is that apple?”
“How do you know the apple is red?”
“Because the apple is right in front of me….”
“How do you know the apple is right in front of you?”
“Because I see it….”
“How do you know you see it?”
“Because the I see the physical world and that apple is in the physical world.”
“How do you know you see the physical world?”

It seems I’m stuck. I don’t conclude that I see the physical world based upon any other evidence. The infinite regress seems apparent. We need intuitions; without them we wouldn’t be able to know anything.

So how does this prove that objective morals exist? Well I think goes like this:
(1) If objective morality does not exist, then our moral intuitions do not exist.
(2) Our moral intuitions do exist.
(C1) Therefore, objective morality exists.

We’ve already proven premise (2) of the argument above, so what about (1)? From our argument we see that if our moral intuitions suggested the objectivity morality, then we would observe that our intuitions would be things that would only make sense if morality were objective. I think that our intuitions of justice, fairness, tolerance, charity, etc. all point to objective morality because these things can’t exist in a relative world. There is no justice if nobody is wrong. There is no tolerance if you have no obligation to respect each other’s beliefs. The list goes on and on. Our base beliefs only make sense in an objective world and until proven wrong (since the burden of proof is on the opposing side) we have every reason to believe so.

In Conclusion:

We can be sure that we cannot truly be good without a law giver. On the other hand, if we do believe that moral values and duties are objective and intuitional, that provides moral grounds for believing in God.

It interests me how the alleged “New Atheists”  have rejected God as the source of moral objectivity. Richard Taylor on the subject writes, “The modern age, more or less repudiating the idea of a divine lawgiver, has nevertheless tried to retain the ideas of moral right and wrong, not noticing that, in casting God aside, they have also abolished the conditions of meaningfulness for moral right and wrong as well. Thus, even educated persons sometimes declare that such things are war, or abortion, or the violation of certain human rights, are ‘morally wrong,’ and they imagine that they have said something true and significant.Educated people do not need to be told, however, that questions such as these have never been answered outside of religion…. Contemporary writers in ethics, who blithely discourse upon moral right and wrong and moral obligation without any reference to religion, are really just weaving intellectual webs from thin air; which amounts to saying that they discourse without meaning.”

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Mormonism: Historical Reliability

Mormonism seems to be the opposite of the Bible in several ways. The Book of Mormon and the other “Standard Works” are in complete contrast with the Bible’s superb historical reliability. In the face of contradicting evidences, Mormonism’s  claim of divine revelation seems less and less plausible. Since they claim the “Standard Works” have a greater explanatory scope than the Bible, they carry the burden of proof to show both the superiority and reliability of the Standard Works. But they completely fail to do that for these reasons:

Religion Problems:

1. The Book of Mormon states that the Nephites and Lamanites had Jewish beliefs that became Christian when the resurrected Christ appeared to them. However, there is no evidence that the ancient inhabitants in the Americas had either Jewish or Christian beliefs.

Language Problems:

1. The gold plates (from which the Book of Mormon was supposedly translated from) is said to be written in “reformed Egyptian”.  Almost all scholars of linguistics (except those that are Mormon) call this made-up language pure gibberish. Why? Because there is absolutely no existing evidence of a “Reformed Egyptian” language.  On top of this, there isn’t any evidence that the following words used in the Book of Mormon are Egyptian or Semetic: Shazar (1 Nephi 16:13-14), Irreantum (1 Nephi 17:5), Liahona (Alma 37:38), deseret (Ether 2:3), or other words unique to the Book of Mormon.

2. The Book of Nephi and Mosiah asserts that the Hebrew native language was Egyptian from 600-91 B.C and  Mormon 9:32 says it was “Reformed Egyptian” by A.D. 400. However, according to well-established history Hebrews spoke Hebrew until the Babylonian captivity in 560-538 B.C.. Under the captivity of the Babylonians, the Hebrews adopted Aramaic while those with religious positions still spoke Hebrew.

Zoological Problems:

1. 1 Nephi 18:25 says that North America had cows, oxen, donkeys, horses, and goats “for the use of man” in 600 B.C. However, these animals weren’t present in North America until the Europeans brought them almost a thousand years later.

New World Artifact Problem:

“And they said unto him: Behold, he is feeding thy horses. Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi; for there had been a great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land.” Alma 18:9

1. Alma 18:9-10, 12 , Alma 20:6, and 3 Nephi 3:22 mention the use of chariots in the Americas. Firstly, there is no record of any use of wheeled modes of transportation. Secondly, the roads built by the natives were crude, steep, and rough – conditions unsuitable for the use of chariots.

And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.”  2 Nephi 5:15

2. The use of steel and iron are mentioned several times in the Book of Mormon. The fact is, there is absolutely no evidence found in the Americas of iron being smelted or being hardened into steel. As Kevin J. Vaughn, a Purdue assistant professor of anthropology, says “Even though ancient Andean people smelted some metals, such as copper, they never smelted iron like they did in the Old World,” and goes on to say that “metals were used for a variety of tools in the Old World, such as weapons, while in the Americas, metals were used as prestige goods for the wealthy elite.”

3. Mormon 6:10-15 claims that hundreds of thousands of people were killed near the hill Cumorah during a major battle. It says that “their flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth” (Mormon 6:15). In other words, their bodies were left there, unburied.

To give you the magnitude of death this supposed battle brought upon, let’s look at another major battle. During the Battle of Gettysburg, 6,000 men died and about 55,000 were wounded. The people sent to clear the dead described the field as having “streams of blood”.  If Gettysburg had streams of blood, then the battle at Cumorah was an ocean of blood. I mean seriously, it’s really hard to imagine 100,000+ dead bodies.  But, even with all the dead, no artifacts have ever been found near the battlefield. Metallic artifacts from weapons and armor would have all been easily found, but nothing has ever been discovered at hill Cumorah.

Changes To “The Most Correct” Book:

Joseph Smith said “that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book,” (History of the Church, vol. 4, p. 461).  Why? Because it was allegedly translated through the power of God himself. Here is a brief list of revisions to the “most correct book on earth”:

1830 Edition of the Book of Mormon 1981 Edition of the Book of Mormon
1 Nephi 11:18 “And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of [. . . . ] God, after the manner of the flesh “And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.”
1 Nephi 11:21 “And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the [. . . . ] Eternal Father!…” “And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!…”
1 Nephi 11:32 “…And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, [. . . . ] the Everlasting God, was judged of the world…” “…And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world…”
1 Nephi 13:40 “…and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is [. . . . ] the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world…” “…and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the World…”
1 Nephi 19:20 “…for had not the Lord been merciful, to shew unto me concerning them, even as he had prophets of old; [. . . . ] for he surely…” “…for had not the Lord been merciful, to show unto me concerning them, even as he had prophets of old, I should have perished also.”
1 Nephi 20:1
changed in 1964 ed.
“Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah,[. . . . ] which swear…” “Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear…”
Mosiah 21:28
changed in 1964 ed.
“…king Benjamin had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings;…” “…king Mosiah had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings;…”
Alma 46:40 “…because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared, to remove the cause of diseases which was subsequent to man by the nature of the climate.” “…because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to removed the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate.”
3 Nephi 3:23 “And the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla, and the land which was between the land of Zarahemla and the land Bountiful.” “And the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla [ . . . .] and the land Bountiful…”
3 Nephi 10:4 “O ye people of these great cities which have fallen which are a descendant of Jacob; yea which are of the house of Israel; O ye people of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you…” “O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, [. . . . ] how oft have I gathered you…”
3 Nephi 16:10 “and thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you at that day, When the Gentiles shall sin against my Gospel, and shall subject the fulness of my Gospel, and shall be lifted up…” “And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel,[. . . . ] and shall be lifted up…”
3 Nephi 22:4 “…for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, [. . . . ] and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.” “…for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.”
Ether 9:2 “…nevertheless, the Lord was merciful unto Omer, and also to his sons and to his daughters, which were not, or which did not seek his destruction.” “Nevertheless, the Lord was merciful unto Omer, and also to his sons, and to his daughters [. . . . ] who did not seek his destruction.”

The list doesn’t end there. The Doctrine and Covenants (a divine revelation from God published in 1833 and re-published in 1835) has been changed numerous times throughout the years:
Section 6: gained 101 words and was then placed in a totally different section.
Section 19: gained 64 words.
Section 20: received 388 words.
Section 28: (Originally a mere 93 words) gained 649 words.

649 words! Jeez! I’m pretty sure they weren’t just spell-checking there.

The Best Evidence Against Mormonism:

The Book of Abraham is allegedly Joseph Smith’s translation of an Egyptian papyri Joseph obtained through purchasing an Egyptian mummy and is probably the best evidence against Mormonism. The actual papyri (thought to be destroyed in a Chicago fire) was discovered in the archives of the New York City’s Metropolitan Museum. After examining the text, Egyptologists and many other scholars confirmed that these supposed “revelations” were actually nothing but common Egyptian burial texts belonging to the Book of Breathings and bears absolutely no resemblance to the Book of Abraham. If Joseph Smith was terribly wrong in his translation of the Book of Abraham, it follows that he cannot be trusted to have produced an accurate translation of the Book of Mormon, which he himself claimed was in the same language.

Baer (an Egyptologist that translated the book) provided a comparison of his translation with Joseph Smith’s. It is quite easy to see that there is not the slightest resemblance between the two. For example:

Baer’s translation: “the”

Smith’s translation: “… now this priest had offered upon this altar three virgins at one time who were the daughters of Onitah, one of the royal descent directly from the loins of Ham, these virgins were offered up because of their virtue they would not bow down to worship gods of wood or stone, therefore they were killed upon this altar”

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