Tag Archives: Politics

Are Latter Day Saints (LDS) doctrines supported by philosophy, science and history?

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

This post presents evidence against Mormonism/LDS in three main areas. The first is in the area of science. The second is in the area of philosophy. And the third is in the area of history.

The scientific evidence

First, let’s take a look at what the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, believes about the origin of the universe:

“The elements are eternal. That which had a beggining will surely have an end; take a ring, it is without beggining or end – cut it for a beggining place and at the same time you have an ending place.” (“Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, p. 205)

“Now, the word create came from the word baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos – chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existance from the time he had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beggining, and can have no end.”
(“Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, p. 395)

A Mormon scholar named Blake Ostler summarizes the Mormon view in a Mormon theological journal:

“In contrast to the self-sufficient and solitary absolute who creates ex nihilo (out of nothing), the Mormon God did not bring into being the ultimate constituents of the cosmos — neither its fundamental matter nor the space/time matrix which defines it. Hence, unlike the Necessary Being of classical theology who alone could not not exist and on which all else is contingent for existence, the personal God of Mormonism confronts uncreated realities which exist of metaphysical necessity. Such realities include inherently self-directing selves (intelligences), primordial elements (mass/energy), the natural laws which structure reality, and moral principles grounded in the intrinsic value of selves and the requirements for growth and happiness.” (Blake Ostler, “The Mormon Concept of God,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 17 (Summer 1984):65-93)

So, Mormons believe in an eternally existing universe, such that matter was never created out of nothing, and will never be destroyed. But this is at odds with modern cosmology.

The Big Bang cosmology is the most widely accepted cosmology of the day. It is based on several lines of evidence, and is broadly compatible with Genesis. It denies the past eternality of the universe. This peer-reviewed paper in an astrophysics journal explains. (full text here)

Excerpt:

The standard Big Bang model thus describes a universe which is not eternal in the past, but which came into being a finite time ago. Moreover,–and this deserves underscoring–the origin it posits is an absolute origin ex nihilo. For not only all matter and energy, but space and time themselves come into being at the initial cosmological singularity. As Barrow and Tipler emphasize, “At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo.

[…]On such a model the universe originates ex nihilo in the sense that at the initial singularity it is true that There is no earlier space-time point or it is false that Something existed prior to the singularity.

Christian cosmology requires such a creation out of nothing, but this is clearly incompatible with what Mormons believe about the universe. The claims about the universe made by the two religions are in disagreement, and we can test empirically to see who is right, using science.

Philosophical problems

Always Have a Reason contrasts two concepts of God in Mormonism: Monarchotheism and Polytheism. It turns out that although Mormonism is actually a polytheistic religion, like Hinduism. In Mormonism, humans can become God and then be God of their own planet. So there are many Gods in Mormonism, not just one.

Excerpt:

[T]he notion that there are innumerable contingent “primal intelligences” is central to this Mormon concept of god (P+M, 201; Beckwith and Parrish, 101). That there is more than one god is attested in the Pearl of Great Price, particularly Abraham 4-5. This Mormon concept has the gods positioned to move “primal intelligences along the path to godhood” (Beckwith and Parrish, 114). Among these gods are other gods which were once humans, including God the Father. Brigham Young wrote, “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…” (Brigham Young, The Seer, 132, quoted in Beckwith and Parrish, 106).

[…]The logic of the Mormon polytheistic concept of God entails that there is an infinite number of gods. To see this, it must be noted that each god him/herself was helped on the path to godhood by another god. There is, therefore, an infinite regress of gods, each aided on his/her path to godhood by a previous god. There is no termination in this series. Now because this entails an actually infinite collection of gods, the Mormon polytheistic concept of deity must deal with all the paradoxes which come with actually existing infinities…

The idea of counting up to an actual infinite number of things by addition (it doesn’t matter what kind of thing it is) is problematic. See here.

More:

Finally, it seems polytheistic Mormonism has a difficulty at its heart–namely the infinite regress of deity.

[…]Each god relies upon a former god, which itself relies upon a former god, forever. Certainly, this is an incoherence at the core of this concept of deity, for it provides no explanation for the existence of the gods, nor does it explain the existence of the universe.

Now let’s see the historical evidence against Mormonism.

The historical evidence

J. Warner Wallace explains how the “Book of Abraham”, a part of the Mormon Scriptures, faces historical difficulties.

The Book of Abraham papyri are not as old as claimed:

Mormon prophets and teachers have always maintained that the papyri that was purchased by Joseph Smith was the actual papyri that was created and written by Abraham. In fact, early believers were told that the papyri were the writings of Abraham.

[…]There is little doubt that the earliest of leaders and witnesses believed and maintained that these papyri were, in fact the very scrolls upon which Abraham and Joseph wrote. These papyri were considered to be the original scrolls until they were later recovered in 1966. After discovering the original papyri, scientists, linguists, archeologists and investigators (both Mormon and non-Mormon) examined them and came to agree that the papyri are far too young to have been written by Abraham. They are approximately 1500 to 2000 years too late, dating from anywhere between 500 B.C. (John A. Wilson, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1968, p. 70.) and 60 A.D. If they papyri had never been discovered, this truth would never have come to light. Today, however, we know the truth, and the truth contradicts the statements of the earliest Mormon leaders and witnesses.

The Book of Abraham papyri do not claim what Joseph Smith said:

In addition to this, the existing papyri simply don’t say anything that would place them in the era related to 2000BC in ancient Egypt. The content of the papyri would at least help verify the dating of the document, even if the content had been transcribed or copied from an earlier document. But the papyri simply tell us about an ancient burial ritual and prayers that are consistent with Egyptian culture in 500BC. Nothing in the papyri hints specifically or exclusively to a time in history in which Abraham would have lived.

So there is a clear difference hear between the Bible and Mormonism, when it comes to historical verification.

Further study

There is a very good podcast featuring J. Warner Wallace that summarizes some other theological problems with Mormonism that I blogged about before. And if you want a nice long PDF to print out and read at lunch (which is what I did with it) you can grab this PDF by Michael Licona, entitled “Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock“.

Pastor explains why the pulpit must address public policy issues

Crusader knight prepares for battle
Crusader knight prepares for battle

My friend Scott pointed out this brave and necessary article from pastor Michael Sherrard, who is currently studying for his PhD in New Testament.

Pastor Sherrard writes:

[…][P]astors are… watchmen. And when the enemy is before us, the watchmen better not have his head down wiping the eggnog off his ugly sweater as the walls are being scaled.

Rather than be caught defenseless, pastors must equip their people to engage a culture that is becoming increasingly hostile toward Christianity. And so, the pulpit must be political. Yes, I know that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. Let’s get that out of the way. I already hear your objection: “We should care more about salvation than society.” Sure, I agree. It is better to lose the world than your soul. But if you think that society can go to hell as long as people don’t, you’ve fallen for an old trick and you’ve misunderstood the nature of the gospel.

A politically silent pulpit is one that is catering to the secularist’s agenda: “Keep your religious beliefs private. They are not wanted in society. They are no good to us.” And for some reason, we’ve bought into the propaganda of those that want to fashion a society after their own values. Somehow they have convinced us that the only good beliefs for society are the beliefs of atheists. But beliefs that are true are true for all and are good for all. It does not matter where they come from. And if the Christian message contains truth, the application of that truth is far reaching. It does not end at the capital steps.

Christianity is an all-encompassing worldview. Meaning, it is a set of true beliefs that affect all of life. The gospel itself has implications that go beyond ones eternal destination. We see this truth in Paul’s ethics. Pauline ethics might be summed up this way: because Christ humbled himself and died on a cross, so should you be humble and willfully offer up your life for the good of others (Phil 2:1-11). Our faith manifests itself in ways that benefit others, if it is a real faith. You must repress your hope in God to keep it private. I doubt you disagree with this.

So why are politics off limits? Why is it right for us to sit back and allow harmful policies be legislated? Why shouldn’t we expose candidates that seek to preserve the right to kill babies? Why do we think we have to let atheists run our country? Are Christian teachings not good? Do they not promote human flourishing? Why do we think a Christian influence equals a theocracy? How have we become so simple minded about our civil responsibility? Pastors we have failed our people. If it is not our job to instruct the people of God on these things, whose job is it?

When politics are ignored in the pulpit the message to the world and the church is clear: Christianity is irrelevant. It tells the world that what we care about is our little club, and it tells those in the club not to worry about what goes on outside.

Yes, yes, yes!!!!! This is exactly what my main complaint about pastors is – that they are so contain to discuss castles in the sky and angels dancing on the head of a pin. They want to chase Christian theology into some far-off area where it has no connection with anything real. They want to make our happy feelings everything, and leave us with nothing hard to do for God. But being a partner means doing work that achieves goals, and politics is surely one of the areas where we can show God that we are with him, and that we love him.

Now, the pastor got a lot of flak from nitwits for that post, and so he wrote them a response, with the title “No, your’e right. We should let the atheists run the country”.

Here’s the best part:

Oh and you’re right, who cares who holds office. The Bible doesn’t say anything about voting and our role in democracy. (You’ll be happy to know I’ve also stopped teaching my kids math because Jesus didn’t say anything about that either.) Who cares if there are candidates that would exclude us from the first amendment. Religious freedom is overrated. I mean look how the church is growing in parts of the world where Christianity is illegal. We could benefit from a dose of persecution. You know, I think I’ll pray for it. Tonight I will huddle my family and pray that we will soon find ourselves in a country where I could lose my head for my faith. That sounds biblical.

Religious liberty is my most important concern. I would be willing to flee my country in order to get it back.

I think it’s worth it to read both his posts in full. Why aren’t more pastors like that? Why all this focus on feeling good and being liked, and doing whatever we “feel led” to do? How about we do what is necessary, whether it makes us feel good or not?

Ben Shapiro speaks out against “microaggression” oversensitivity at U of Missouri

Nearly 400 students showed up to hear Ben Shapiro speak
Nearly 400 students showed up to hear Ben Shapiro speak

My favorite political podcast is The Weekly Standard, and my favorite cultural podcast is Ben Shapiro. I really recommend subscribing to both and listening to them. The video of this lecture shows you what makes Ben Shapiro special. (H/T Kevin the Super Husband)

Lecture:

Question and Answer:

And here’s a news article for those who cannot watch from Breitbart News.

Excerpt:

Ben Shapiro’s speech Thursday evening at the University of Missouri was a galvanizing moment for the campus and community that became the national focus of media attention in early November after a group of radical black liberation activists, assisted by leftist faculty members, forced the resignation of the university’s president and chancellor.
The event marked the first large, public backlash to the political correctness gone wild that had overtaken Mizzou in the past several months.

Towards the end of his rousing speech, Shapiro discussed how the “micro aggression” culture of taking offense at minor, even unintended things leads to real aggression. Shapiro said, “There’s never been a bad person on planet Earth who has not felt justified in doing his or her bad thing. All colleges do now is give people reasons to feel justified in doing the bad things that they want to do.”

Shapiro lit into the very real aggressions that had played out at the University of Missouri, including the story that Breitbart News covered of Mizzou faculty member Dr. Melissa Click, who blocked a student reporter with a camera when he attempted to enter a public space on campus that #ConcernedStudent1950 activists had declared a “safe space” for themselves.

[…]The audience of over 350 responded immediately with applause that lasted several seconds. The crowd’s applause showed the cathartic impact of someone speaking the truth out loud at the University of Missouri.

Shapiro was invited to speak by the Young America’s Foundation. My first thought when I see an event like this is why aren’t Christian churches more involved in applying the Bible and Christian theology to the culture. My pastor almost never applies the Bible to anything that is happening in real life. He almost never references anything that is happening in the culture, much less current events.

Thank goodness there are brave conservatives like Ben Shapiro who are willing to put rounds downrange onto the target, rather than focus on pious language doesn’t equip anyone to declare or defend their conservative beliefs. There are so many ideas that are undermining the life plans of Christian men these days – feminism, postmodernism, relativism, global warming alarmism, socialism, pacificism, unilateral surrender and appeasement, and so on. And yet so few pastors can see these threats and how they differ with the Bible’s teachings. Even those that see seem to lack the courage of those who speak out about them. We need to be talking about what is happening in politics and in the culture, so that we can make a world where it is safe to speak out about Christian things without fear – even if the truth makes people feel “offended”.

Scott Walker’s plan to reform public sector unions

Political contributions to public sector unions
Political contributions to public sector unions (click for larger image)

(Source: OpenSecrets.org)

I am not sure if I really explained the importance of Scott Walker’s plan to rein in public sector unions in my last post.

Basically, public sector unions generate a lot of money from forced collection of union dues, and they turn around and use that money to donate to politicians who are in favor of growing government. Unions want bigger government, because they make more money if government grows.

This Wall Street Journal article explains that unions donate mostly to Democrats.

Excerpt:

Corporations and their employees… tend to spread their donations fairly evenly between the two major parties, unlike unions, which overwhelmingly assist Democrats. In 2008, Democrats received 55% of the $2 billion contributed by corporate PACs and company employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Labor unions were responsible for $75 million in political donations, with 92% going to Democrats.

So how much money are we talking about?

Total political contributions in 2014 election cycle
Total political contributions in 2014 election cycle (click for larger image)

To see how much unions control government, take a look at this story from National Review, written by economist Veronique to Rugy.

It says:

  • The top campaign donor of the last 25 years is ActBlue, an online political-action committee dedicated to raising funds for Democrats. ActBlue’s political contributions, which total close to $100 million, are even more impressive when one realizes that it was only launched in 2004. That’s $100 million in ten years.
  • Fourteen labor unions were among the top 25 political campaign contributors.
  • Three public-sector unions were among the 14 labor groups: the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; the National Education Association; and the American Federation of Teachers. Their combined contributions amount to $150 million, or 15 percent of the top 25’s approximately $1 billion in donations since 1989.
  • Public- and private-sector unions contributed 55.6 percent — $552 million — of the top 25’s contributions.

Where does the money go? The Daily Caller notes:

“Nearly all of labor’s 2012 donations to candidates and parties – 90 percent – went to Democrats,” the report from CRP concluded. “Public sector unions, which include employees at all levels of government, donated $14.7 million to Democrats in 2014.”

But someone has a plan to do something about this: Scott Walker.

This Investors Business Daily article by economist Veronique de Rugy explains what he would do to the unions if elected President in 2016.

She writes:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker just proposed a plan to overhaul the country’s labor laws, called “My Plan to Give Power to the People, Not the Union Bosses.”

It would do that by expanding employee choice and holding unions accountable to their members.

One of the main underlying themes of the Republican presidential hopeful’s private-sector reforms is transferring power and decision-making from unions to their members.

For instance, the plan would guarantee employees’ rights by strengthening secret-ballot elections. Under current law, unions have ways to work around the protections, making such elections less than secret. The change would protect workers from retaliation by not disclosing their choices to unions during workplace elections.

Though federal laws outlaw extortion, the Supreme Court has ruled that they usually do not apply to unions. Walker’s plan would change that to protect workers from threats, violence and extortion from unions.

Similarly, his reforms would protect whistleblowers who report wrongdoing on the part of a union from being fired or discriminated against.

[…][Public sector unions]… also make the government less effective and more expensive.

That’s why a President Walker would work with Congress to prohibit public employee unions altogether. Meanwhile, he would implement taxpayer and paycheck protections.

As Heritage Foundation labor economist James Sherk explained for National Review, “Walker proposes cracking down on the use of ‘union time’ — that is, allowing federal employees to work for their unions at taxpayer expense.

“He also wants to stop unions from using federal resources to collect the portion of dues that they spend on political causes and lobbying.”

Walker’s plan also would establish a nationwide right-to-work law, making voluntary union dues the default option for all private- and public-sector workers. It would give workers the freedom to choose whether they want to be in a union or not.

States that want to take this freedom away from their workers would have to affirmatively vote to opt out of right-to-work status.

[…]The Walker plan includes many more reforms, such as a repeal of the Davis-Bacon wage controls, which alone could save taxpayers nearly $13 billion over the next 10 years. If implemented, it would be a giant step toward freeing businesses, employers, workers and taxpayers from the incredible burden imposed on them by federal labor laws and union bosses.

Why should we believe that he’ll really do it? Well, unlike some of the talker candidates, Walker has already done it in his state. And it worked – a $3.6 billion dollar deficit was erased.

If you are concerned about the growth of government, and all that that entails, e.g. – higher taxes, massive spending, bloated welfare state, huge levels of corruption, government waste, abortion, gay marriage, etc – then you should know that all of that is driven by the political donations of unions.

And I don’t want anyone to think that union workers are the same as union bosses. In Wisconsin, as soon as the union workers got the right to work without having the pay union dues, the vast majority of them chose not to pay union dues.

How Christianity shaped Margaret Thatcher’s conservative politics

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan
Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan

This is from the Daily Signal, and is really recommended for Christians who are tempted by the policies of the left.

Check it:

Few people are aware that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, one of the foremost politicians of the 20th century, was a lay Methodist preacher before she entered politics.

There has been very little examination into the role that her Christian faith played in her politics.

“Economics is the method; the object is to change the soul,” Thatcher once declared, revealing that the way she conceived her free-market ideology was as much about transforming values as about improving Britain’s ailing GDP.

More profoundly, there was a strong religious basis to Thatcher’s politics—one that stemmed from her strict Methodist upbringing and, more specifically, the chief influence in her life, her father, who was a greengrocer, councilor, and Wesleyan lay preacher.

In sourcing the origins of her free-market ideology, it is not in the pages of Frederick von Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” or Milton Friedman’s monetarist theory where we find the answer, but in the sermon notes of her father, Alf Roberts.

Contained within his sermons, one finds the theological basis of what would later become the cornerstones of Thatcherism: an individualistic interpretation of the Bible, a nod to the spiritual dangers of avarice, praise of the Protestant work ethic, virtues of thrift and self-reliance, and finally, a divine justification for individual liberty and the free market.

In short, Thatcherism always owed more to Methodism than to Monetarism.

Thatcher herself was a preacher before she formally entered politics while a student at Oxford University. Even though she later transferred this missionary energy from the pulpit to the podium, her religious values remained an underlying core.

Indeed, on becoming leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, Thatcher (much like Ronald Reagan) saw it as her chief mission to completely undermine the moral credibility of socialism and communism and reconnect the broken link between Protestant and capitalist values in Britain.

Preaching from the pulpit on several occasions, Thatcher unashamedly asserted the Biblical case for the sovereignty of individual liberty and the “invisible hand.”

“Do not be tempted to identify virtue with collectivism,” she preached from the pulpit of St. Lawrence Jewry Church in London in 1978. “I wonder whether the State services would have done as much for the man who fell among the thieves as the Good Samaritan did for him.” According to Thatcher, “[i]t was to individuals that the Ten Commandments were addressed.” She continued, “We are called on to repent our own sins, not each others’.”

“What mattered,” in her words, “was Man’s relationship to God.”

Thatcher’s interpretation was that as Christianity was a call to men individually, so it should follow that political choices reside with the citizen rather than the state.

“The Road to Serfdom” and “Free to Choose” are two of my favorite economics books, and very suitable for laymen. If an understanding of the free enterprise system isn’t yet part of your Christian worldview, it might be a good idea to get studying! After all, Christians are not concerned with policies that make us feel good regarding the poor. We are concerned with policies that actually do good for the poor. There is a big difference.