Tag Archives: Apologetics

Are Mormon doctrines supported by philosophy, science and history?

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 denies the past eternality of the universe. This peer-reviewed paper in an astrophysics journal explains. (full text here)


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 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.


[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.


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.

Guest post: Christians should oppose Black Lives Matter

The following is a guest post by a friend of mine who is also a software engineer.

The Problems with Black Lives Matter

All over Facebook I’ve seen naïve Christians posting Black Lives Matter (BLM) material, hashtags, and even donation links. According to their official statements BLM aims to:

  1. Disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure”
  2. Foster a “queer‐affirming network” and “freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking,” instead of helping people escape LGBT lifestyles and live as God intended.
  3. “A national defunding of police,” BLM is a member of M4BL which also calls for abolishing prisons.
  4. BLM parent group M4BL is pro-abortion: “we demand reproductive justice that gives us autonomy over our bodies and our identities.”
  5. BLM parent group M4BL is anti-capitalist. The alternative to capitalism is removing the freedom to buy and sell and putting the government in charge of resources. When government power is absolute, all checks and balances against evil disappear and atrocities become inevitable. I know of 100 million people who didn’t have a good time in anti-capitalist countries, especially minorities.
  6. BLM finds racism in everything with no concept of forgiveness. While masking the much larger and real causes of black inequality in the US. More on that below.

These goals don’t seem very Christian.

Some Christians say they only support the slogan “black lives matter” but not the organization. They’re probably friends with people who call themselves “National Socialists” and enjoy re-explaining to everyone they meet how it’s not actually the German kind. To each their own. Yet better slogans could be used to support black people.

Avoid the slackidasical “all lives matter” retort. That distracts from the real issues:

Black Inequality

Black inequality in the US is real. But BLM promotes a false narrative, blaming it entirely on modern systemic racism. If that’s true, why are blacks 3 times more likely to receive government assistance than whites? Why are police are about twice as likely to use lethal force against whites under arrest than blacks (although more likely to use non-lethal force against blacks)?

Before getting to the real reasons let’s first dig into that last source. It comes from the left-leaning Center for Policing Equity. The wording in their report focuses on specific localities where the police are harsher on blacks. But the overall data tells a different story. In tables 6 and 7 on page 20, police are 1.73 times more likely to use lethal force against whites under arrest than blacks, and 2.41 times more likely to use lethal force against whites under arrest for violent offences. Black Lives Matter and the left-leaning media would never tell you this.

Don’t police just arrest blacks way more than whites? Yes, absolutely. You can even find stats showing unarmed blacks are 5 times more likely to be killed by police than unarmed whites, a product of being arrested much more frequently. But unfortunately (trigger warning) it’s because in the US, blacks commit significantly more crime:

I looked up the FBI data this meme links to, converted it to rates per million and got the same result. Non-lethal crimes have a similar proportion by race.

What are the Real Causes of Black Inequality?

Perhaps the court systems are racist and blacks are convicted of murder more often? One could speculate so, but murders involve more investigation than most crimes, and you’d have to argue the system is so biased it only makes it appear as if blacks are 12.8 times more likely to kill whites than whites kill blacks. Quite a stretch.

Use careful grace in sharing these stats, as they’re easily abused by the small number of people wishing to paint blacks as an unredeemable, inferior race. Instead consider the better explanations for black inequality:

  1. 2.7 times more black children (65%) grow up in single parent homes than white children (24%). 17% of blacks were born out of wedlock in 1940 but that number is >70% today. Other races also increased but not nearly as much. We know broken families are strongly correlated with poverty, poor education, crime, and many other ills.
  2. As noted, blacks are three times more likely to receive government assistance than whites, a number that’s changed very little in 40 years. If welfare programs lifted people out of poverty, by now shouldn’t we see more than a slight decrease in blacks on welfare? Rather I suspect welfare increases rates of fatherlessness: women don’t need a man when the government pays the bills.
  3. Universities, employers, the government, and the media use “soft racism,” giving special treatment to blacks, sometimes causing an unhealthy and unnecessary inferiority complex.
  4. Due to this persecution narrative, and fear of being called racist, poor behavior among blacks isn’t called out, worsening the broken family cycle. Even being used as an excuse for the poor behavior of the recent rioters. Black CNN journalist Don Lemon received a “firestorm of criticism” for pointing to out-of-wedlock births as a problem among blacks.

I’m curious. Will you argue that fatherlessness leads to negative outcomes among whites, but a 2.7x greater rate among blacks doesn’t significantly increase their negative outcomes? Really?

Perhaps it’s even possible that police target blacks more frequently because these issues actually do lead them to commit more crimes, causing some police to subconsciously be more suspect of blacks? I don’t know if that’s true, but if so who is at fault?

Is Racism Still a Major Issue?

Before continuing please read this piece by conservative commenter David French (white), who adopted his black daughter from Ethiopia. He describes how through many incidents it made him realize racism is still alive and well in America.

Meanwhile, the black economist Thomas Sowell offers a contrary view:

Who’s right? David French says he used to think there were almost no racists. I’m still in that place. I don’t know anyone who is racist other than one or two people I met on strange corners of the internet. After adopting his daughter French discovered that yes, of course racism still exists, outlining several real incidents of bias against her. For example his daughter’s friend said, “My dad says it’s dangerous to go black people’s neighborhoods.” Alt-right trolls even made a cruel meme of his young daughter in a gas chamber.

Such memes are of course reprehensible. But French uses the wrong benchmark. The real question is not if racism exists, but if blacks face greater external hardship than other groups? People who are too smart, dumb, fat, thin, short, tall, attractive, ugly, rich, poor, Christian, or amoral. Or any other category. Almost everyone belongs to at least one. French doesn’t address that question.

Compared to Christian Persecution in the US (Yes, Really)

I can’t answer for most of those groups. But I am a Christian. I’m very glad to live in the US with its many Christian freedoms. I don’t even feel comfortable talking about Christian “persecution” in the US because other parts of the world have it so much worse. Yet there are still examples of anti-Christian discrimination here:

  1. I know a Christian friend who was kicked out of her PhD biology program for being a creationist. An intelligent, articulate, and polite one at that. I used to think people like her must’ve just been belligerent, but I hear similar stories from nearly every creationist or intelligent design proponent I speak to. Many keep their beliefs hidden. Books and documentaries are filled with such stories. Well known professor and textbook author Larry Moran has even called for universities to flunk by default any students who believe in intelligent design: “Flunk the IDiots.” Forbes later wrote a glowing bio of Moran for his stance. Imagine the outrage if Moran called to flunk all black students!
  2. In 2016, hapless Chinese scientists published a paper in the journal PLOS One, stating that the human hand shows “proper design by the Creator.” The remark was in passing and the rest of their paper had nothing to do with the evolution or design. As soon as this was realized, I watched as the backlash unfolded in the comments section. Five editors of PLOS One requested the whole article to be retracted (rather than the wording removed), two of those editors said they’d resign if it wasn’t retracted. Two others said the editor who approved the paper should be fired. And five scientists commented, saying they’d boycott PLOS One. Then the paper was retracted. Even though the Chinese researches explained they only meant to say “mother nature,” and English wasn’t their first language. No other issue with their research was found. That backlash was only for a translation issue. Imagine if they’d been Christians who actually believed God designed life.
  3. Practicing Christians are no longer allowed to hold certain jobs in the United States. A county clerk like Kim Davis cannot in good conscious abet two people into a lifelong commitment to live in sin, yet was jailed for refusing. California once banned all judges who volunteered with the Boy Scouts because the group previously required heterosexual scout leaders.
  4. Many friends often tell me they can’t publicly speak out against homosexual behavior in fear of losing their jobs. I doubt their employers have issue with vegetarians saying meat is murder.
  5. And of course secularists make memes, sometimes violent, mocking Christians all the time. So what.

Imagine if I took the crime stats above and marched around with signs about “white genocide” or “systemic racism” because blacks are more likely to get welfare or whites more likely to be shot while under arrest. That’d make me a complete narcissistic jerk. Or worse if I used it to justify arson, looting, and violence. Yet I’d still be more correct than Black Lives Matter because at least the data supports me.

I don’t think there’s anything special about hardships faced by US Christians. You could make a similarly troublesome list for hardships of unattractive and overweight people, probably worse. I’m not planning any protests for them or for US anti-Christian discrimination. That’s too minor compared to many greater injustices in the world. And please don’t take this and claim I’ve said racism no longer exists. The experiences of David French’s daughter are bad things that need to stop. But unlike in decades past, I’m not convinced it’s currently any worse than hardships faced by any number of other classes of people for a wide variety of reasons.

The Media Amplifies Racism for Profit

A couple weeks ago I posted to Facebook about Israel planning to ban their only Christian news station for proselytizing. Two friends commented that it was a great idea, because Christians indoctrinate people. I get similar comments often. Oh woe is me! But imagine if they’d instead called for banning black history? Call CNN! We found another Amy Cooper!

Although sometimes doing well, George Floyd had a long and sometimes violent criminal record. Nobody thinks he deserved to die. I’m glad the officers involved are being investigated. But put his case in perspective. People do awful things for many reasons. In the United States each year we have:

  • 600,000+ abortions
  • 250,000 deaths from negligent medical errors
  • 15,000 murders
  • 1,500 dead from child abuse.
  • 1,000 suspects killed by police (with 90 to 95% attacking police or another person). Among a total police force of more than 800,000.
  • 85 police officers killed.

Despite all that, the deceptive media amplifies any incident with a white perpetrator and black victim. Everyone knows about George Floyd, but few have heard of Tony Timpa (white), who in 2016 also begged for his life as police suffocated and made fun of him. The media gets away with this bias because almost everyone actually does hate racism, leading to collective outrage. So much that it brings riots, looting, and buildings on fire. Plus news media profit from increased news viewership of these riots. While the media ignores many greater injustices in the previous list.

The leftist media then uses Black Lives Matter as a front to push ridiculous leftist policies like defunding the police. Oh you’re against BLM? Racist.

Black inequality in America is real. If you love people of all races as Christ commands, then you should want to solve this problem. That can only be done if we tackle the real causes, and not the left-leaning media’s exaggerated racism narrative that masks them.

Is the definition of atheism “a lack of belief in God”?

First, let’s see check with the Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God.

Stanford University is one of the top 5 universities in the United States, so that’s a solid definition. To be an atheist is to be a person who makes the claim that, as a matter of FACT, there is no intelligent agent who created the universe. Atheists think that there is no God, and theists think that there is a God. Both claims are objective claims about the way the world is out there, and so both sides must furnish forth arguments and evidence as to how they are able to know what they are each claiming.

Philosopher William Lane Craig has some thoughts on atheism, atheists and lacking belief in God in this reply to a questioner.


In my discussions with atheists, they  are using the term that they “lack belief in God”. They claim that this is different from not believing in God or from saying that God does not exist. I’m not sure how to respond to this. It seems to me that its a silly word-play and is logically the same as saying that you do not believe in God.
What would be a good response to this?
Thank you for your time,


And here is Dr. Craig’s full response:

Your atheist friends are right that there is an important logical difference between believing that there is no God and not believing that there is a God.  Compare my saying, “I believe that there is no gold on Mars” with my saying “I do not believe that there is gold on Mars.”   If I have no opinion on the matter, then I do not believe that there is gold on Mars, and I do not believe that there is no gold on Mars.  There’s a difference between saying, “I do not believe (p)” and “I believe (not-p).”   Logically where you place the negation makes a world of difference.

But where your atheist friends err is in claiming that atheism involves only not believing that there is a God rather than believing that there is no God.

There’s a history behind this.  Certain atheists in the mid-twentieth century were promoting the so-called “presumption of atheism.” At face value, this would appear to be the claim that in the absence of evidence for the existence of God, we should presume that God does not exist.  Atheism is a sort of default position, and the theist bears a special burden of proof with regard to his belief that God exists.

So understood, such an alleged presumption is clearly mistaken.  For the assertion that “There is no God” is just as much a claim to knowledge as is the assertion that “There is a God.”  Therefore, the former assertion requires justification just as the latter does.  It is the agnostic who makes no knowledge claim at all with respect to God’s existence.  He confesses that he doesn’t know whether there is a God or whether there is no God.

But when you look more closely at how protagonists of the presumption of atheism used the term “atheist,” you discover that they were defining the word in a non-standard way, synonymous with “non-theist.”  So understood the term would encompass agnostics and traditional atheists, along with those who think the question meaningless (verificationists).  As Antony Flew confesses,

the word ‘atheist’ has in the present context to be construed in an unusual way.  Nowadays it is normally taken to mean someone who explicitly denies the existence . . . of God . . . But here it has to be understood not positively but negatively, with the originally Greek prefix ‘a-’ being read in this same way in ‘atheist’ as it customarily is in . . . words as ‘amoral’ . . . . In this interpretation an atheist becomes not someone who positively asserts the non-existence of God, but someone who is simply not a theist. (A Companion to Philosophy of Religion, ed. Philip Quinn and Charles Taliaferro [Oxford:  Blackwell, 1997], s.v. “The Presumption of Atheism,” by Antony Flew)

Such a re-definition of the word “atheist” trivializes the claim of the presumption of atheism, for on this definition, atheism ceases to be a view.  It is merely a psychological state which is shared by people who hold various views or no view at all.  On this re-definition, even babies, who hold no opinion at all on the matter, count as atheists!  In fact, our cat Muff counts as an atheist on this definition, since she has (to my knowledge) no belief in God.

One would still require justification in order to know either that God exists or that He does not exist, which is the question we’re really interested in.

So why, you might wonder, would atheists be anxious to so trivialize their position?  Here I agree with you that a deceptive game is being played by many atheists.  If atheism is taken to be a view, namely the view that there is no God, then atheists must shoulder their share of the burden of proof to support this view.  But many atheists admit freely that they cannot sustain such a burden of proof.  So they try to shirk their epistemic responsibility by re-defining atheism so that it is no longer a view but just a psychological condition which as such makes no assertions.  They are really closet agnostics who want to claim the mantle of atheism without shouldering its responsibilities.

This is disingenuous and still leaves us asking, “So is there a God or not?”

So there you have it. We are interested in what both sides know and what reasons and evidence they have to justify their claim to know. We are interested in talking to people who make claims about objective reality, not about themselves, and who then go on to give reasons and evidence to support their claims about objective reality. There are atheists out there that do make an objective claim that God does not exist, and then support that claim with arguments and evidence. Those are good atheists, and we should engage in rational conversations with them. But clearly there are some atheists who are not like that. How should we deal with these “subjective atheists”?

Dealing with subjective atheists

How should theists respond to people who just want to talk about their psychological state? Well, my advice is to avoid them. They are approaching religion irrationally and non-cognitively – like the person who enters a physics class and says “I lack a belief in the gravitational force!”.  When you engage in serious discussions with people about God’s existence, you only care about what people know and what they can show to be true. We don’t care about a person’s psychology.