Evidence from science, philosophy and history against Mormonism

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“.

6 thoughts on “Evidence from science, philosophy and history against Mormonism”

  1. First let me say. I like the Mormon people, and I have many Mormon friends, and you won’t find a more pro-life people. And I would like to invite all the Mormon people to my church, the Catholic Church, because you have a fabulous culture and we desperately need your culture! So have some charity and convert.

    But you, Wintery Knight, hit the nail on the head. The religion is polytheism. They regard the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three separate carnal beings, and they actually debate who knew Marry intimately — the Father or the Holy Spirit? Plus they are evolving to become gods. I have discussed this with a lapsed Catholic who became Mormon, and he almost died with this line of questioning. “Do you believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate and corporal beings? Answer, “Yes.” And you do believe that you are in the process of becoming a god?” He answered, “Yes.” “Sir,” I said, “Don’t you remember that monotheism is the belief in ONE GOD?” All heck broke lose. He called his two young Mormon missionaries right over and when we came back around his garage we saw him telling them what happened. And the thing was they had raided our Church of Hispanic members! The man I spoke to was Mexican. (It’s also our fault. We are guilty of poor catechesis)Their book of Morman identifies the white people as good and the darker peoples as the bad ones. There is a bitter tribe of Indians somewhere in the the Southwest, I think it’s Utah or NM, and they were told if they converted to Mormonism, they would become white. Because white is good. They never became white. They aren’t Morman any more. The problem is that once you go down that road, you are not open to the True Christian Faith. It’s very hard to convert ex-Mormons and ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses. They become very bitter about all religion.

    So here we were in the last presidential election. We had to chose between a Marxist Ideologue and a polytheist. I voted for the polytheist because he was the lesser of two evils, and I don’t say that with disrespect because Mitt Romney is a very nice man, and a very principled man. But he gave the Mormon Church $7 million to destroy my religion! Imagine what kind of quandary that put me in. God bless you. Susan Fox, blogger See article on Pres. B.O.’s ideology. http://christsfaithfulwitness.blogspot.com/2013/09/barack-obama-shameless-marxist-ideologue.html

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  2. I think the whole Book of Abraham debacle is about as solid a proof against a religion as there can be, yet the LDS religion is alive and well. It just shows to go you how resilient religious belief can be.

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  3. Not religious belief Sam; ego. If you want to know about Christianity, and the errors that detract from God, all you have to do is read Genesis 1-3. “hath God said…? For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods…”

    That was, and always has been the offer Satan makes. It is the god of ego, the god of self-worship. It is the god I choose because it fits best with my ideal state… for me.

    When asked why he became a Mormon, Glen Beck said there were tenets of main-stream Christianity he couldn’t accept and that the main reason for his conversion was the love and care he received from the people at the Mormon church. Touching; but not grounds for salvation. In fact, his conversion consisted of a baptism. In the video where he explains his conversion he does not once say “I gave my life to Christ.” Rather, he explains that he committed himself to the LDS church. This is not exemplary. This is commonplace.

    People are not committed to a religion. They are committed to a person. They are either committed to themselves, or they are committed to God. One or the other; never both.

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    1. Great Reply William Logan. We follow the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, not a book and not ourselves.

      But I like Glen Beck. His answer to becoming Mormon is that great Mormon culture I talked about. You show up at a Mormon service, and by the end of the service everybody there knows you. You have to wear a suit to service, so one of the members of the Church has a suit store where the goods are very inexpensive. I even had a horrible paint job done by a Hispanic man, but his Mormon boss told me we had to “understand” because he was a member of the Mormon church! And many people become Mormon because such benefits are available. I think some of our Christian churches would benefit from a little Mormon culture. God bless you. Susan Fox http://www.christsfaithfulwitness.com

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