Why I hope Yahweh is Not Real – Comments, Thoughts, and Responses

Obviously I released a post titled “God is not real” and there was a heck of a lot of discussion!

You can find my initial argument here. However to summarise it, I don’t want any God to exist, because as a minimum, any religion being correct would result in 72% of the population having eternal suffering, for finite sins, and I don’t believe failure to believe in something is worth eternal suffering. Then there was also the idea that an all knowing and all loving God would have known all of this was going to happen, and actively allowed it to occur, following the logic that these people going to hell now are worth it for a future where vastly more people will go to heaven, I personally don’t believe that these ends justify the means. This is a major simplification, however if you want more check it out first!

Oh and all of these will come from one person who I have had a lot of conversation with, it’s been so interesting! And yeah because this is my comments section, I’m just going to use them without asking. Credit to Merlin for the discussion, find his blog here.

I feel like I may be unable to present the counter arguments fairly, so I would rather use the points made towards me as they are in context and have no influence from me, an atheist.

Though I responded differently, I think I would like to respond differently now that I have refined my arguments and opinions over so much discussion!

The “Everybody still has a chance to be saved” argument

My religion is, I believe, unique in how it preaches that all mankind… literally ALL of us, every single one of us, without exception… can be saved. True, we are judged for what we do and why we do it, but our actions are also judged in accordance with the knowledge we posses of good and evil. Even more, it is possible for those who have gone before, and never known the truth of God while in mortal life, to be redeemed. They can accept the gospel, if they choose to do so, and we can perform the holy ordinances they need, like baptism and such, by standing in their place, a proxy. That is the justice and mercy of God, where he has prepared a way for every one of his willing children to be saved, regardless of their circumstances. This life, after all, is not fair, so He has made certain that eternity will be fair. And there is much more to look forward to than straight up Heaven or Hell, as most people understand them.

Just because we can be saved doesn’t mean that we will be. And I would also say, making the barrier to entry to heaven so high is the opposite of merciful.

As well as that, just because you could hypothetically choose Yahweh doesn’t mean that it’s moral in any way to send people to hell just because they don’t.

It’s like saying “no I’m giving you the choice to give me your money, I’ll just shoot you if you don’t. But it’s up to you, it’s your decision” – You can’t just say “oh he choose not to give his money, therefore he chose to die” it’s just unfair.

The “God warns us” argument

It is my belief that God warns us away from sin because He cares, and He knows how much it hurts us. Yet, we are all free to make our choices, and we invariably hurt for it. So He also provides a way where we can be healed, and learn from our mistakes.

So essentially he warns all of us away from the path of failure so we can find him and join him after we die.

My argument is, how well is this going so far? You could say that Yahweh has been insanely and ridiculously quiet for someone trying to get everyone on his side.

I was a christian for 17 years, and even after that I felt like God hadn’t even talked to me! So yeah, he’s done an awful job of communication, especially considering the millions of thoughts put in his mind through Christians, he could at the very least do the same.

These ways of communication are through the bible, and odd thoughts and feelings and kinds of whispers, so essentially things amazingly easy to placebo effect yourself with.

If any of you have had a debate with a Christian, I’m sure you can guess where it’s going from here.

The “Free Will” argument

That said… if God were to make Himself manifest for everything, to keep us from ever hurting at all, to coerce our every decision by his mere presence… then what become of our freedom to choose? That is the crux of the issue: we must, absolutely *must,* choose, entirely of our own free will, whether we will listen to Him or not. We must be free to touch the oven, or not come over to the cold water our parent guides us to, or not allow Him to heal us, because if we are not free to choose, then what is the point of it all?

The point is that it will maximise net happiness and not let anyone suffer eternally.

This is the arguments that I hate hearing the most, because not only is it ridiculous, but it’s also contradictory.

If God were to manifest we would still have the ability to reject him or accept him. For example I may reject Yahweh if he appears for not saying anything about slavery in the bible, and waiting so long to reveal himself – I may not believe he is as good as he says.

So if we had the ultimate proof of the man in the sky, it wouldn’t go against our free will in the slightest. It would only make our choice more informed.

This is because his very appearance wouldn’t necessarily mean that we can still trust him.

Taking it from the bible this argument is completely contradicted by the fact that he reveals himself to the Israelite’s and reveals himself to many people as Jesus, at least 5,000. That’s a violation of this free will argument!

As well as that let’s take the Satan story, he was someone who knew God fully and still was able to reject him, therefore even if God did reveal himself, it wouldn’t go against free will.

The “This Life is a Test” Argument

If the point of this life were to test only our minds, our rational thinking, then, yes, we would be better served if there was nothing between us and God. But that’s not the case. The point of this life is to gain experience, and grow from it. It’s a test of our souls, not our minds. Heck, we already see that we could know everything perfectly well and still choose the wrong way, as proven by the Devil’s example.

The devil’s example referring to the fact that Satan rejected Yahweh despite knowing God.

This life is about whether or not we will listen to His voice. When we see someone in need, do we help unselfishly, or do we look after ourselves? He answers prayers through each other by teaching us the correct principles, and then letting us choose for ourselves what we will do. He also answers, yes, by whispering to us, not to subconsciously influence or control us, but to encourage us. And he answers, yes, through those chosen servants, called prophets and apostles, whom he prepares and develops to the point that seeing miracles is a confirmation, not the bedrock, of their faith.

If this life is just a test where the vast majority of us fail, then that is just cruel. I also question why this needs to exist?

It is doctrine in the bible that Adam and Eve were in a paradise just like heaven until they ate the apple. So this life clearly wasn’t designed as a test in the first place, and if it was, it’s a test that punishes every single one of your ancestors to be doomed to much harder, and more painful tests.

There is no real need to test us, just let us live.

As well as that, maybe I wouldn’t mind a test if this life hypothetically was one, however why do the consequences for failing have to be eternal torture? Doesn’t seem fair to me. As well as that, infinity being so much longer than what we life in now means that we won’t even be the same people in the after life, enough time would have passed that we would be radically different anyway. So it’s kind of testing us at the wrong point in our life.

The “Do you really think he expects us more of us than Jesus?” Question

Finally, you mention expectations. Just one question: do you think He expects more of us than He expected of Jesus Christ?

This is in more reference to the requirements to pass the test to get to heaven.

The answer to this question is yes and no. It’s an unfair question really. Yahweh expected way more than Jesus, but though the expectations of us are much less, they are far more difficult for us to achieve. Which makes Yahweh expect way more of us, since Yahweh is supposed to be perfect, therefore Jesus is inherently perfect too.

You know, we were born inherently in sin after all, and sin is in our human nature.

The Devil’s Story

There lived a being of magnificent glory, power, knowledge, and love. He lived together with his family, including multitudes upon multitudes of his children. They all lived and laughed and learned together, the father teaching his children everything he knew which they would listen to. Like all good fathers, he wanted to prepare his children for the future, and he wanted to see all of them become greater than they were, even as great as he himself. This was the desire of his children, too: to become like him.

To that end, he presented a plan to his children.

It was a plan both simple and intricate in its design, crafted solely for the purpose of helping the next generation of heavenly beings become like him. It was, however, not an easy plan. It came with certain risks… and inevitable losses. By the end of it, his children’s eternal fates would be decided, for each would know for themselves the sort of person they were, and whether they were worthy to be entrusted with the omnipotent powers of their father.

The plan was, basically, for the children to leave, gain experience as mortal beings, and try to find their way back home to their father. Success would not be easy, and test itself had to necessarily involve veiling the memory of each child as they went forth, for the test of the soul could not be one of the mind. Still, their father would do everything he could to help without invalidating the entire exercise, including enlisting the aid of his foremost children to help their siblings. One, for instance, would remain without a mortal form for a very long time, in order to be their father’s messenger to each and every one of their siblings, speaking to their souls. Several others, very advanced in their development to this point, would be selected to act as mouthpieces, prepared for the task and the burden of being special witnesses for the rest of their siblings in mortality. Yet, to make it possible at all, one of his children would have to take on the greatest and heaviest burden of all. In order to build a way by which all the other children would, without exception, have their opportunity to return, the greatest of them would have to endure, as a mortal, an agony that would make even a god tremble and groan and weep.

Who would do this?

This had likely been discussed earlier, or maybe not, but either way, one stepped forward: the firstborn of the father, the eldest of all the children. He stood and swore to do his father’s will, and make the way for his little siblings that they might succeed. The plan would proceed with the consent of all involved.

But then there was another voice. Another of the children, not the eldest, but certainly among the foremost and greatest and most beloved, stood forth and presented an alternate plan. He was clever indeed, this other brother, and he put forth that the risk of losing any of the children was too great, for certainly not all of them would make it back in complete success. But he could, and would, make it so. He would guarantee everyone’s safe return, and so, he argued, he would be the one deserving of his father’s throne and glory.

A choice was thus laid before all the children. One path, authored by the father, risked terrible failure, but promised an infinite reward. The other promised little to no risk at all, but the only one to reap any real reward would be the one that thought to dethrone his father.

A terrible conflict broke out then, as some children supported their father and eldest brother, and others supported the other brother. The shape of that conflict may well escape mortal comprehension, but the outcome became plain enough: the rebellious child and those who followed him lost. They did not want to take part in the plan, so they were barred from it. They rebelled against their father, and so they were cast out of his kingdom. And they tried to take everything by force, and so everything they had was taken from them. They were cast out of the place of happiness, and so became miserable beyond words. In their wrath, they swore, under the rebellious brother’s leadership, that they would continue to fight against their obedient siblings throughout the entirety of the test, right up until the moment of its completion, to the very last second, as long as they had any power at all.

The pain that the father and his obedient children bore at all of this was immeasurable. Nevertheless, the plan moved forward. The eldest brother, who would come to be known as Yahweh, or Jehovah, or Jesus, among other names, led his siblings in the creation of worlds uncounted for them to become mortals on, guiding humanity in accordance with the Father’s will, and he eventually took his turn in mortality, walking by the same faith required of other siblings, and bearing the ultimate agony for his family. The child who has thus far foregone mortality has been a faithful messenger known as the Holy Spirit. Other children have been called as prophets and apostles, many of them seeing and witnessing for themselves, and joining their voices together with the Father’s, to call his children home. Speaking of, all those children who were faithful, at least when they had a perfect, rational knowledge of things, have been the mortals which make up the ranks of humanity, learning everything about ourselves as we go along.

And, of course, the rebellious brother has been called Lucifer, or Satan, or the Devil. He and his, they had, and still have, a perfect knowledge of God, our Heavenly Father. They rebelled against him anyway, and lost. Theirs is the frantic struggle of those who know they are doomed, quite soon, and have only one thing left: taking as many with them as possible.

It is even more galling for them, I suspect, since their perfect knowledge informs them how few will be so miserable as they are. Perhaps that is why they work so hard to convince us that almost no one can go back to Heaven, and that the only option to that is Hell.

The blatantly obvious flaw in this story is that Yahweh had no good reason to test his children, and as well as that, the plan proposed by Satan would not mean that it would only benefit him. Think of all the children who would have suffered eternally, you think it wouldn’t have benefited them as well?

If Satan would gain a special priority (which I see no reason why he would) how does that make him any different from Jesus? You got to remember that Satan was a good guy before he turned on God, so having him in this position would be just like having a Jesus.

Yahweh being all powerful, doesn’t mean that Satan could challenge him anyway, so the entire thing was pointless.

The “Hell Not Existing/Is just a place without Yahweh” Argument

I could point out the depiction of flames, fire and torture, as well as the general way it’s taught, however if we ignored all that then how about I tell you what hell is a place with.

It’s a place with Satan. You know, that massively powerful angel who hates all humans, and tries to make people join him in real life along with his hoard of demons, who make up a third of what used to be God’s angels.

Not only that, but it’s the place where all the arseholes go, which means at the very least prepare for just a more fucked version of the exact same thing we have on earth already.

As for the hell not existing argument theirs two directions you could go with. The first taking the idea from Revelation where everyone just is burned in a fiery lake, which is still quite unpleasant, and the second being everyone does go to heaven of some kind.

But if everyone does go to heaven of some kind, then what about that thing said by Jesus, the guy who knows what heaven’s like. What was it again? That heaven is harder to get into than a camel going through the eye of a needle? – The eye of a needle referring to the gate which was nearly impossible for a camel to get through.

It is far from historic fact that the eye of a needle was a gate, people obviously think this was mistranslated, and the interpretation of just as difficult for a rope to pass through the eye of the needle to get into heaven is just as valid.

Anyway even if it was for a thread to pass through a needle, that would be too difficult in my opinion, have you ever done textiles? It takes literally ages to get it in right!

The Hell Should Exist Argument

This is one I heard much later having written this. The argument goes, “Would you want the person who slit your mothers throat to be in eternal happiness with you, or do they deserve to be punished? Do the people who inflicted so much suffering on holocaust victims deserve eternal happiness? Of course not they need to be punished”

This argument made me realise, that hell shouldn’t actually need to exist, because why do you need a hell to punish people? You simply don’t. It is unnecessary.

And also how is it moral for God to inflict this eternal suffering? Even if the punishment for one sin was conclusively equivalent to one million years, that’s nothing in comparison to eternity, how much more of a sin is it to be the one inflicting this eternal suffering. If I was a person who judged where people went after they die, then where do you think I would put the person who inflicts suffering on people eternally?

The punishment needs to fit the crime. You can’t say “You told a lie once, and you stole something” to justify eternal torture. These two things are not equal, and not the same.

Ending Thoughts

This is by no means supposed to be a be all and end all for religious arguments and discourse. I still of course have not heard the best arguments, and would like to hear more. This to me is surface level, and there are more responses and comebacks to my arguments that would be interesting to see.

So if you have anything you think disproves this, or you have something you want to add or just discuss, please let me know! All discourse is welcome as long as its on topic and constructive.

47 thoughts on “Why I hope Yahweh is Not Real – Comments, Thoughts, and Responses

  1. Apologies for taking a bit longer than I intended. Last week got *very* busy.

    How to describe my impressions of this CES Letter…

    Obviously, it’s not really feasible to discuss *every* point, so, speaking in fairly general terms:

    A little over a year ago, I stepped up to help my family with a rather complicated situation. Skipping over the details, many of them being personal in nature, I am now helping to raise my nephew, who turned thirteen this year. There have, of course, been a number of arguments as we try to teach him what he needs to know in order to become the fine, mature man I know he can be. A major part of many of these arguments is when he focuses on some specific detail of what we are saying, extends it very far to reach some conclusion that is far distant from what we mean, and totally misses what we are actually trying to say.

    That is what this letter reminds me of. It does not seem particularly objective to me, or earnest in seeking answers. Indeed, the author states, several times, something akin to, “There are answers to these questions, but I don’t accept them.” They dismiss them as being the work of apologists, whom they clearly do not have a favorable opinion of. And this, while they continually take things entirely out of context, which changes the meaning of things entirely. I can speak with confidence on that count, as the author cites more than one talk which I was there for, listening to, and have discussed with fellow church members since. So, while the words may indeed be direct quotes from our leaders, the meaning of them is completely altered.

    There’s a reason why, every time I share a quote on my blog, I take the time to put it into context, and keep my discussion of it as balanced as I can: because *context matters.*

    So, while it does ask questions, it turns all of them into pointed barbs and accusations, and ones which ignore the answers, even those most obvious ones. Why does the translated Book of Mormon so strongly resemble a translated Bible? Uh, maybe because they’re both *translations?* Translating is not an exact science, you know, and even “exact sciences” leave room for flaws in human capabilities.

    There is no archaeological evidence? I would argue that there is *much* evidence of the previous civilizations which inhabited the Americas, whose histories and languages are long since lost. There are dozens of things within the Book of Mormon which have only recently been verified by archaeological discoveries, right down to little choices of phrasing. Like how they say they “cast up” roads instead of “laying down” roads, as we would naturally think of it. Yet they recently found, courtesy of satellites, a massive network of ancient roadways in South America, which, due to the frequent flooding, were raised above the surrounding ground. They were “cast up.” How would Joseph Smith know anything about that?

    And those are still just details. It’s *all* just details, carefully taken and twisted to mean something they weren’t intended to say. The author has problems with how the Book was translated? (his statements are erroneous, by the way) With exactly when they preached what doctrine? With statements true and false about what Joseph did, as if his enemies would want to cast him as anything other than the worst possible person they could make him out to be?

    They think a prophet ought to be able to tell at a glance exactly what crimes a professional con man is guilty of? What, exactly, do they think a prophet is? A psychic?

    Heck, if this author understood our doctrine at all, they would understand that our ceremonies do not need to look like an “earlier form of Freemasonry” because Freemasonry is derived from, not the source of, the practices performed in ancient temples.

    Problems with the Kinderhook plates? Try going to the source and getting a direct, honest answer. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/kinderhook-plates?lang=eng

    Is there really any problem, at all, with a for-profit association owned by the Church to do something in pursuit of profit, like, say, purchasing and improving a market area, turning it into a large mall?

    I once saw a special about the Book of Abraham, not produced by my church. It did a fair job of seeming objective, including bringing up several of the issues this author does, but ignoring even possible answers. Especially, there were a few details of my own which I noticed. For one, the parchment which is currently on display in a museum, purported to be the same manuscript Joseph Smith used, does not at all match the description of the genuine article. All they have to authenticate it as such is a letter supposedly written by his wife, Emma, but, even if the letter were genuine, there was no explanation provided for how it, and the parchment, survived the Chicago fire which had supposedly consumed the ancient record. It’s nothing definitive, but it makes me suspicious.

    And then there’s the section marked “Science.” Like every other dispute between science and religion, it supposes that one must believe in only the one or the other. That is a terrible mistake, and one which leads, once again, to taking things out of context and making sweeping statements that are generally untrue, because they dismiss possibilities that have not been either proven or disproved.

    For a contrast to that: there is evidence in the Middle East of a truly MASSIVE tower that was, long ago, leveled to the ground. Maybe it was the Tower of Babel, or maybe not. It would not be properly objective of me to state that these specific ruins *are* of that tower, just as it would not be objective of me to say that they are not.

    But speaking on the subject of science, I have a whole aside here.

    Did you know that the scientist who proposed the existence of neutrinos did so because of the trust he had in the laws of the universe, and he was mocked on every hand for it?

    What’s with saying we have to go all “supernatural” view? Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and magic is just unexplained science. Technology is the result of scientific knowledge, it is knowledge given physical form in application. Why should any sufficiently advanced knowledge not be easily confused with magic? And if knowledge is power, why should the power of magic be anything other than the demonstration of sufficiently-advanced knowledge? In short: why should the miracles wrought by the power of God, or the imitation of such by the Devil, be anything but science that we don’t yet understand?

    And did you know that the Judeo-Christian version of the world’s creation is looking more and more legit, due to recent scientific discoveries of things that ancient people could never have known, and didn’t even have words for?

    “The earth was without form.” Like a liquid is without form? Like molten magma, perhaps?
    “The waters above were divided from the waters beneath,” like lots of rain, which cooled the magma, formed the crust of the Earth, on which the waters fell out of the atmosphere to form a global ocean.
    “The waters were gathered together, and the dry land appeared.” Like the first continent rising from the depths.
    “Dividing light from dark, greater light to rule the day and lesser light to rule the night” and “the stars were caused to appear.” On that subject, our sky now looks very different from the sky of Earth’s early days. https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/ask-ethan-110-what-did-the-sky-look-like-when-earth-first-formed-23e4c30082a3
    “The earth brings forth” all the plant life. We recently discovered that plants first formed in mud pools on land.
    “The sea brings forth” all the original animal life, which, most creation stories make no such distinction between plant and animals, but the sea was where animal life began.
    The creation story stipulates sea creatures, and flying creatures coming forth first, whales and birds, winged fowl of every kind. Which made me wonder, but… well, did you know that they now think that the dinosaurs were largely feathered? The ones on the ground were, effectively, flightless fowl, not entirely dissimilar to ostriches and penguins, and it is theorized that they are the ancestors of all our modern birds. But how is an ancient prophet going to describe dinosaurs, except, if they have feathers, as “fowl of every kind?” And how to describe those in the sea except as “great whales?”
    Finally, it mentions mammals, like cattle, last, with humans being the youngest of the animals on Earth, just like science says.

    So… for a religion that supposedly cannot coexist with science, how, exactly, did primitive people, who had no means of knowing or even describing any of this, get so much right that is only being verified by today’s scientific knowledge?

    And if these are only being discovered now, who knows what other “unscientific” things will be proven? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • You cannot ever, ever say that. If there is no proof for something there is no good reason to believe it until there is. You cannot operate on the faith that things will be proven later because until it is actually proven you don’t have a good reason to believe in it.

      This is why science is so important, if it discovers that religion is true, it changes it’s mind and starts studying that. However until this happens the best you can have is faith, which is an awful way to tell what is true or not.

      I find it funny that you cherry pick this example from genesis of all things. The thing your arguing for is that the events that created the world in genesis coincide with evolution, but if that’s the case it’s also disproving Adam and Eve, we know it’s impossible for the human race to have started in this way from research into colonising other planets.

      Then whether the tower of Bable actually existed or not is irrelavent, because we know how language originated and it was never in this way.

      Noah’s arc is also ridiculous to believe happened, there is no evidence of a world wide flood ever around that time, and it also says only 8 people survived it, yet 100 years after it happened you get the Egypt story, so that’s essentially impossible to have happened, even ignoring all the other impracticality’s which would also make it impossible.

      Not to mention the guy who heard voices in his head telling him to kill his own son and he interpreted this as the all loving God.

      The way you describe the opening of Genesis is in reference to the earth. But you don’t realise how vague it is, I had always believed it was in reference to the empty void of space, giving us the problem of why there is water. However if you interpret it as the Earth, which was formed vastly later in time than other places then it’s ignoring a huge amount of steps. For example, God creates light after the Earth, which just could not have happened, the heavier particles to form the Earth needed to be formed in stars. Revelation also then goes on to blatantly misunderstand how night and day works, assuming that one earth day is universal.

      You also take the splitting of water completely out of context. Did you not read the part after where he called the second expanse of split water heaven?

      It then says that God created the sun and the moon and the stars after he created all the plants. Yeah that’s also impossible. It also calls the moon a light which is blatantly wrong.

      It then says that flying creatures and sea creatures were the first ones to come out, but this is also wrong, it was just sea creatures. It specifically describes flying animals, and we both know dinosaurs even with feathers were no such thing, expect for one specific type of dinosaur. It also describes then as flying birds, not dinosaurs which is also wrong.

      I’ve just gone through all of creation and pretty much all of it was wrong. I think what it is was that Genesis was deliberately vague and had educated guesses that people are now trying to make fit, but there are still so many problems with it’s inaccuracies. We are learning more and more about how the universe was created, and as we do we see just how wrong genesis is. I recommend looking at Lawrence Krauss’ lectures about a universe from nothing, to see more about what I mean.

      The neutrino was a theory proposed to explain a concept in physics, and rightly so, nobody believed it until it was proven to be there. It’s a shame religious people don’t apply this same standard.

      I must say though that neutrino’s are far from supernatural. They were actually predicted in order to explain the natural. It was not faith, but a proposed idea to explain something we didn’t understand already. If the person who proposed the neutrino was proven wrong, he would have been sad, yet he would believe in the other model proposed for the neutrino.

      I studied physics so I know about why it was even proposed in the first place, the premise was that it would keep the natural law of conservation of momentum causing the energies to be the same instead of unbalanced. It was not just a supernatural random thing like a ghost that was being suggested.

      Sure, extremely advanced technology can look like magic to us, however we have no good reason to believe it’s there until it’s proven.

      We have tested religion scientifically and none of them have passed.

      “why should the miracles wrought by the power of God, or the imitation of such by the Devil, be anything but science that we don’t yet understand?” – because so much of it we do understand, we know how placebo’s work, we know how legends work, we know how faith healers work, we understand psychology, we know that literally every other possible explanation is more likely than a supernatural one, as the supernatural has never been observed. This is my favourite deconstruction of that argument: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZeWPScnolo and it explains it far better than I ever could here.

      I read the introduction to the CES letter in some places. The thing about the mistranslation thing was instead about why did they contain only the specific errors used in Joseph Smith’s KJV of the bible that he owned. These mistranslations don’t appear in other places, just there. Inclusions from his KJV makes it more likely to be referencing other parts of the bible instead of actual word from God.

      Do some of the things really not bother you? Like Joseph Smith using the same stone he used to locate buried treasure inside of a hat to translate the book of Mormon instead of actually using the plates themselves? Surely that is a major thing!?

      I think some answers are not good enough, which is why he said he doesn’t accept them. For example saying the Earth is round because I like my dog is an answer, but it might not be good enough for you to accept.

      I’m sorry some of these things seem taken out of context. Now that you mention it, the guy did seem very hurt and abused by the LDS church, perhaps he could have been taking things too far, but I still don’t think that means you can throw everything out. Even the stuff that I read in the first half an hour is still convincing enough to not believe it, as the whole origin story of Mormonism still remains it’s most convincing rebuttal.

      Sorry I have no idea what the kinderhook plates actually are, because I’ve not read that far. I’ve read Nephi 1, but have slowed down with Nephi 2 because of coming to uni and everything being busy. This comment is too long already, but I do have my thoughts on Nephi 1 in a blog post somewhere.

      No worries for being busy, it happens. We can’t have these huge discussions constantly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You say we can’t believe in something without there being evidence?

        Ok, where is the proof of “the Missing Link” that so many people, scientist and otherwise, believe in? 😉

        I would argue that believing without – or, rather, *before* – there is evidence, is not only rational, but an integral part of the scientific process. Literally, it’s part of the process, coming up with theories to test, and theories are conceived, proposed, believed, and disproved all the time.

        The neutrino is an example where such a belief was validated with proof, but the man behind that theory did not have “evidence” until after he had formulated the theory, correct? Of *course* it was “predicted in order to explain the natural.” That’s what all theories are. And you make my point again, it is not “supernatural.” It was merely unexplained science, a piece of knowledge that had not yet been discovered and understood.

        What about extraterrestrial life? People call you crazy if you start talking about life on other planets, and yet I find it to be perfectly rational to believe that there *is* life out there, what with how BIG this universe is. How rational is it to insist that there is not, just because we haven’t found it yet? Indeed, how can one say it’s impossible at all until we’ve found and searched every last corner of the stars and proven it so?

        Similarly, until you know every last thing about what is possible, how can you declare something to be impossible just because you don’t know how it was done? Like, say, miracles?

        Marco Polo journeyed to Asia and returned to Europe, talking about so many fantastic things, like… burning rocks! But people then and there had no understanding of coal, so many of them did not believe his “fantastic claims.” So it is with “magic” and “miracles.” Just because we don’t understand the mechanics of how it was done does not mean that it was not done.

        Thus, I repeat my question: Why should any of the miracles wrought by God be anything other than the application of unexplained science?

        For instance: the creation of the world.

        Why should evolution not be to God like a computer program is to us? Enter task criteria, set parameters, hit “enter,” and the job gets done. I have several such programs running now while I focus my attention on typing these words.

        You say “pretty much all of it was wrong” and “vague” but you are not allowing a chance for it to be right. I went through it, after all, and found several specific and amazingly accurate things, according to present scientific knowledge. And if you think they made “educated guesses” thousands of years ago, then I invite you to look at the creation stories of other cultures all around the world and all throughout the centuries.

        Heck, you apparently missed the part where I mentioned waters above being divided from waters beneath, ie, all the rain that fell out of the atmosphere to cool the magma and turn it into the crust one which the oceans would rest, and from which the first continent arose.

        Much like you apparently miss the whole story of Abraham and Isaac. Yes, Abraham was commanded to offer his son, and he did. Yet Isaac lived, did he not? Because an angel stopped it. Then, having obeyed and offered his son, Abraham was provided a ram, trapped in a thicket of thorns. And what of Isaac? He was far younger than his aged father, he could have gotten away, but he, too, submitted. Both of them were tested, and they passed, and they were protected. Through them, we have an example of the sacrifice God made for us, even his Son, Jesus Christ. Most of all, for Abraham and Isaac, they learned something about themselves. They proved themselves… to themselves.

        Which is what the test of this life is all about. *We* need to know about ourselves what God already knows.

        So, to answer your question, do the things claimed in the CES letter really not bother me?

        No. They don’t. Because I’ve already experienced this. I’ve already been through this sort of thing. I have already passed this way more than once in my life, and I know that many of the claims made in that letter are completely bogus, being rooted in truths which have been manipulated out of context, while more legitimate concerns have perfectly valid answers already, but the author refused to accept for whatever reason.

        The entire thing with the plates and the stone? There is some truth there, but it’s also completely false. Of *course* they didn’t translate the Book of Mormon “with” the gold plates. The gold plates are what they translated it “from,” not “with.” As I understand the process, the prophet would look at the symbols on the plates, which he could not read, and affix it within his mind. Then he would lift the hat with the stone inside it, bringing the stone near and looking within it. The meaning of it would come to him, and he would dictate an English translation of that meaning, which his scribe would write down.

        Now, anyone with experience in translation can tell you that it is virtually impossible to get it “perfect.” That’s not the purpose of it. The purpose is to convey the meaning of words in one language in a form which the recipients can most easily comprehend. Thus, many of the intricacies with the English translation of the Book of Mormon, such as the vocabulary within it, the Biblical style of it, etc. It’s *not* a word-for-word repetition of what was written. It is a translation.

        As for treasure seeking with the stone, well, I will direct you to my church’s answer to that. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/treasure-seeking?lang=eng

        To add my two cents: apparently, it was a part of their folk culture, and, as has often been the case, there was a learning curve wherein Joseph Smith and his followers had to learn to both set the man apart from the world as a prophet, and yet also accept that he was just a man, with his own mistakes to make and learn from.

        So, no, I am not bothered anymore by such claims and accusations and questions with an agenda behind them, as are found in this letter.

        Because, much like with the scientific process, I begin with a few core, central truths, and work my way outwards from there, sifting through truth and error, to discover which theories are false and which ones are true… and I try to be patient with what answers we don’t have *yet.* 🙂

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        • I assume you’re talking about the missing link in evolution? Yeah that’s complete and total bullshit. We have found the transition fossils in evolution. Not just that but we have observed it in labs. We have to remake lots of antibiotics too because bacteria are evolving to resist them. It is rapid evolution that we have observed already.

          I probably did say that, but maybe it would be better to say you’re not justified in believing something until there is evidence. Of course you can believe if you want too, I wouldn’t say it’s a good idea though.

          Believing before it’s been proven is utterly ridiculous. And that is a blatant misrepresentation of the scientific process.

          Science suggests a hypothesis, and then tests it, if it’s proven true then eventually it becomes fact. There is no element of belief beforehand what-so-ever.

          You’re forgetting the many, many examples where people have believed without evidence and most often been wrong. Just like every other religion from your perspective. Many, many scientific hypotheses have been proven wrong by science, and there was no good reason to believe them before they were proven. Neutrino’s are just the same.

          If we progressed with every theory without proving it to be true, it would lead to very horrible and crazy science which is untrue. We need to prove it to move forward. If science is proven wrong, it changes it’s mind. If it’s proven right it progresses.

          You cannot possibly know that it’s science we can’t explain until we find a way to prove it, there is no good reason to believe it until that happens. There is however good reason to test it, and all tests so far to do with God have proved nothing – the Templeton foundation has a bias to prove God through tests, and they have so far through their tests have only discovered the opposite.

          I agree with you that there probably is life on other planets. Maybe just bacteria-like lifeforms however I am open to the chance that there may be intelligent life as well, considering that it’s not impossible for another planet to go under the same conditions as there are on Earth. We have already found many Earth-like planets for example. But we can’t say that we know aliens are real until we’ve found them. The best we can say is that it’s likely or unlikely currently.

          I think it’s because of all of the movies that people think aliens are so irrational. I think aliens could exist, thinking aliens could exist like they do in the films, that may be a different story!

          When did I ever conclude that it was impossible? It’s not impossible until it’s proven to be impossible. All I’m saying is that looking at everything we have currently I think it’s unlikely. Until God is disproven, I will never say that I know he isn’t real. It’s not how science works. The God hypothesis is treated much like any other, and it’s so far only been shown to be the opposite of conclusive.

          “Why should any of the miracles wrought by God be anything other than the application of unexplained science?” – because the science we have currently explains it already. Until that extra science is proven to exist, we have no way to use it here. Until that happens, the best explanation is always the natural one. As from what we know already, any natural explanation is vastly more likely than a supernatural one. Especially when you see these miracles happen through other religions. What happens when someone from another religion gets a miracle? You use the exact same explanations that we have for your miracles.

          The creation of the world is pretty well explained science, I can direct you to that Universe from Nothing book by Lawerence Krauss that I mentioned earlier.

          If God is real, that is what evolution could be like. However, I still don’t see a good reason to believe that.

          Some things were correct in Genesis, however several really accurate things that are in the story of creation doesn’t suddenly make its huge mistakes ok. From people receiving divine knowledge you’d expect them to get it all right surely? As they got a lot wrong, and only a few things right, it’s easier to believe that they had no idea what was going on.

          I don’t disagree that other religions creation stories are also crazy. However, that still doesn’t excuse yours. If the religion is true, it should be correct!

          The Abraham story is crazy. He heard voices in his head telling him to kill his own son and associated that with his all loving God. It’s kind of telling isn’t it?

          Ok I think that the explanations for the Joseph Smith stuff aren’t nearly good enough for me. However, I now see how it doesn’t bother you.

          I want to know what these central truths are that you work out from, because God certainly cannot be included in them as his existence is vastly far from fact. I would also like to know how you got from these truths to using this to believe the convoluted story of Joseph Smith and LDS, when I see other religions as far easier to believe upon looking at them.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. When I asked about comparing what God required of Jesus vs what he requires of us, I may have muddled my point.

    What I *intended* to get across was that God and Jesus are not strangers to pain. They know exactly what we suffer, and Jesus suffered worse than anyone. They went through this entirely to help us, to give us all a fair chance (even if some of us will fail, we all have a fair chance). They have suffered for their love for us, and they take it whenever we break down and scream at them for how unfair our specific lives are.

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    • I knew what you were trying to say, I don’t know if God can suffer from pain, but Jesus most certainly did.

      I however question what God and Jesus expected instead when they made the world the way it is. Why wouldn’t we complain about the horrible stuff in this world? This is supposedly God’s master plan, this future right now is what God knew would happen, and was what God wanted. Is it not fair enough to question, is this really the best you could do?

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  3. Regarding your first few points in this post… I refer to a quote from a movie based on a comic book, called Watchmen. (I appreciate the comic, but I can’t really recommend the movie)

    A being with godlike power over matter and energy says, “I can change almost anything. But I can’t change human nature.”

    Good thing, too. That would be probably the worst possible violation of our… selves… imaginable. Much like is accomplished in that extended Jasmine/Lucifer comparison.

    People accuse God and religion and such of trying to control us all the time. I say, the simple fact that we can defy such is all the proof I need that God does no such thing.

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    • Yeah if God controlled our thoughts that would be very messed up. I don’t believe this is true, but it’s worth mentioning that there is no way to know for 100% that we aren’t being controlled by a celestial dictator. There are many reasons to doubt it, but you cannot prove it. It’s unfalsifiable.

      Religion is trying to control us all the time, and just because you can walk away from it doesn’t mean that they’re not trying to control you, they could just be trying badly. Indoctrination is a major problem, and anyone with religious parents is subjected to it. It’s the most major form of attempted control imaginable. The fact that religion tries to tell you how to live your live, and most often demands a percentage of your income, is a form of control.

      God is very controlling too for the same reasons. Why should this guy have the audacity to judge us and choose what happens to us after death based on whether or not we conform to the standards he tells us to conform too.

      Being able to defy the control only makes it far more likely that God is not controlling our brains. It does not mean he’s not trying to control us.

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  4. Regarding: Everyone can be saved.
    It’s not like being mugged. It’s a bit more like this: http://devanjensen.blogspot.com/2012/04/parable-of-push-ups.html

    In regards to why we must be tested:
    Because we are children of God, and heirs to everything He has, alongside Christ, as is said in Romans 8:16 – 18.
    “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
    “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
    “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

    Now, if we are heirs of God, set to receive everything He has… would you want that sort of power and glory in the hands of Hitler, Jack the Ripper, or Satan? For that matter, would you want it in the hands of anyone who, virtues notwithstanding, has no real-world experience? Would you not want it only in the hands of those who have already proven that they can be trusted with it? Or would you rather it by like any spoiled child who happens to have so much power and riches because of their parents, instead of earning it themselves?

    A number of your points, regarding free will, the devil’s story, etc. might be addressed in a different way. If you don’t mind me drawing on pop culture again (as I usually do), did you ever see the show “Angel,” the spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I don’t know how familiar anyone is with that, but, in the fourth season, there is a big bad villain which is astoundingly like my religion’s view of the Devil. I mean, I don’t know if they did that on purpose, but I can easily see them having drawn on LDS stories of the Devil to create this villain.

    Her name is Jasmine. She is an entity much like the divine powers behind the scenes. In fact, she was once one of them. Now, after a long, convoluted series of events, she has descended to Earth in physical form. All who behold her fall down in devoted worship. All who see her, hear her voice, know without question that she is a goddess, here to lead them, and so they all do what she says without hesitation or reservation. No more war. No more stealing. No more killing. All is peaceful.

    …except, that it’s all a lie. Her appearance is a mask, and her words of virtue are a cloak for her desires, her appetites. Everybody does what Jasmine tells them because they have literally been robbed of the ability to choose otherwise. Everybody is devoted to her because they have no choice in the matter. They are her servants, her slaves… and her food. A few at a time, she bring them to her chambers, has them remove their clothes, and she eats them, as easily and casually as you or I would eat our own food. And they do not resist, because they can’t conceive of resisting her.

    It is only happenstance (hah, “coincidence” again) that leads first one person, then another, to become aware of Jasmine’s lies, her evil. They resist, and manage to break her spell over humanity. The result: absolute chaos and widespread destruction. Humanity reverts instantly back to its previous violence, all the crime and war and everything else. And Jasmine, in her wrath (and just before she is killed) is determined to wipe out all of humanity, now that she can’t enthrall their minds to worship her.

    I’ve greatly summarized, but the comparison between Jasmine and Lucifer is astounding.
    Ancient, otherworldly powers who talk a good game and make big promises to all of us, but really just enslave us, in our minds and souls, to serve their own selfish agendas.
    Jasmine, and other otherworldly powers, are quick to point out that the simple argument of “Jasmine ate people” is overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who are dying horribly right now, much like one could argue in favor of “everyone being saved,” but who could rationally argue that she was a hero instead of a villain?
    The “peace” Jasmine brought, and which Lucifer promised, is not the sort that I would want, where we all behave so very well and nothing bad happens, in exchange for our free will.
    Much like Jasmine eats people physically, Lucifer, for all his promises, would be feeding off of us for eternity, if we’d let him have his way.
    Oh, and they both first want to rule all of humanity, but, when thwarted, they resolve to destroy us instead.

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    • And now it begins! You’ve made this is so interesting now, I hope I can do the same.

      I think I remember you saying that hell isn’t real. If that’s the case then theirs no real need for a test in the first place and the push up story makes sense.

      If hell is real, the story is the same but with the teacher shooting everyone who doesn’t eat the doughnut in the head. No matter how nicely you try to dress it up, with the threat of eternal suffering, you need an analogy as severe as this.

      An extra part of the story is that the teacher can be regarded as Yahweh. Yahweh could have not just given everyone a donut, but a treat exactly how they wanted, and a guy wouldn’t have needed to do sit ups to do it.

      If you take the interpretation (of which I’m not convinced of) that in Christian doctrine hell is not real, then I don’t really have a problem with most of the things your saying besides what I’ve said already about the need for the test.

      I don’t believe that it’s considered doctrine by any group of Christians that we will receive everything God has. Then we would all be all-powerful after we die, and I don’t believe anyone believes that.

      If the alternative to giving people like Satan all this power is eternal suffering then I’d give them the power instantly. But if hell doesn’t exist then of course I wouldn’t want them to have this power. I instead think nobody’s getting all this power after they die, regardless of which of our beliefs are true.

      Your story about Jasmine is interesting to me, and I’ll explain why.

      I’m putting us both in the position of the first person to discover Jasmine’s evil deeds. You didn’t say what exactly Jasmine did, but let’s say she was really awful in general. She killed millions of people, tortured billions, waged wars, told them to take slaves and punished people for their thoughts, but not just their thoughts, their very wants and desires that they have absolutely no control over.

      I say “Jasmine is not this all-loving person that we think she is”, you say “But Jasmine said that she loves everyone, this must somehow be justified” The result: Our difference in beliefs. And if you like I can point to examples of Yahweh doing all these things.

      I wish you could apply this same criticism you do to Jasmine that you do to Yahweh, whose actions have been far worse in my opinion (Numbers 31 and Exodus 21) just to name two.

      You cannot, and must not, judge God by what he says about himself. You can only judge them by their actions, since anyone could make up any lie about themselves.

      If there is a God, it is absolutely and utterly impossible to know whether or not he is lying to us about what he’s saying or not.

      Therefore we must judge the person’s actions to see if they comply with what they say.

      When I read most of the old testament (and some of the new) as a christian I found it so difficult, because I forced myself to rationalise and try and explain all of the bad things that happened. Now I can see the very obvious bad things for what they are: bad things.

      Please make sure you are not living in worship of Jasmine, I believe you are. The comparison between Jasmine and Yahweh is far more compelling, and far more fitting to me.

      Moving on to the last thing you said. How can you possibly know what Satan is like? You’ve only been told what he’s like from the person who despises him, yet still doesn’t prevent him from committing his evil. In the same way how can you possibly know God isn’t enslaving you either? How can you possibly know for sure that God is telling the truth in his bible?

      Satan knew Yahweh personally, yet he still turned his back on him. As an angel he knew God the most, and also knew the consequences of what would happen. Yet he still turned his back on God. Was he just an arsehole? Or is it likely that the guy who knew God personally had more reasons for it?

      Getting back to the reality that Lucifer promised. When did I ever say this would give up our free will? We would still be able to make our own choices.

      If heaven is eternal happiness for everyone who is there, and your free will remains constant, how can Satan’s plan for putting everyone in heaven be bad?

      Oh and though God doesn’t say he wants to rule all of humanity, he does ask for worship from all of humanity, so theirs that, it may not be ruling the world but still insanely selfish.

      A follower of Jasmine has the exact same attitude and beliefs, and thoughts a Christian may have towards Yahweh. To the extent of believing that they are God and that they will be saved. You have to make sure that you are not falling for a Jasmine, and how do you do this? Looking at the actions that they take.

      Sorry for completely reversing the analogy, but as I was reading I was thinking, how is Jasmine any different from God? It was too easy not to bring up. I’ve changed the argument to subjectivity, how can you possibly know the nature of Satan or God to comment on the idea that Satan’s plan was truly this sinister?

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      • A small correction, with a long explanation. I never said Hell is not real. I said it’s not the same as it is typically understood.

        In LDS doctrine, I suppose you could say that there are various states in which we find ourselves after we die, and some of these have been confused and amalgamated into a single notion of “Hell” with eternal fire and whatnot. A graphic image, but inaccurate.

        First, there’s what happens right after we die. Our spirits (rather, we, having become spirits without our bodies once more) go to stand before God and account for our lives, our choices. It’s uncomfortable enough for a child to be held accountable by their parents, or an adult being held similarly accountable by their peers. Just imagine standing before God himself, with no lies or anything else to cloak our actions in. We stand bare, facing nothing more or less than the absolute truth of ourselves. Not always a pleasant idea, eh?

        That much truth weighing down on us may well feel much like a lake of everlasting fire around us. Thus, one aspect of what people understand as Hell.

        Now, we don’t just stay there forever. We linger for some time with all the other spirits in what we call the Spirit World. Fresh off our accounting to God for our mortal lives, some of us are in better states than others. For some, it’s like a paradise, and for others, more like a prison, as we are still keenly aware of our wrongdoings. That would be another idea that was absorbed into most people’s understanding of Hell.

        But, eventually, we are all resurrected, receiving our physical bodies again, but in peak condition, without imperfection, and immortal. Some time after that, we face a final judgment, and only then are our eternal fates sealed. Now, we are told in scripture that no unclean thing can enter the kingdom of Heaven. With how we might well feel, under such constant truth, that might well be a mercy. Yet, where can something unclean go and dwell for eternity? Thus, the need of a place for them, for the people who had every chance to reach out and take the celestial version of the donut in the analogy, but did not. They have a place to live in what peace and happiness they can have, but they will always know what they could have had. And that is another “Hell.”

        And then, at last, there is the final fate of Lucifer/Satan and his followers, those who knew the truth and knew God and chose their own plan. In the analogy, they don’t just refuse the donut, they attack the teacher, and the guy doing the push-ups, and all the other students, trying to take all the donuts for themselves. They are the ones who truly suffer eternally in a place of absolute darkness, and that is the truest inspiration for our understanding of Hell.

        (more on other subjects later)

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        • Ok thank you for the clarification. If we all come before God, live with him for ages as spirits then I think that’s much more fair, especially for the people like me.

          Is it fair to criticise God and disagree with him? For example I may disagree with the ends justify the means mentality of the old testament or just not want an entity that knows my every thought and want in my life, you’re right, that is never a pleasant idea. Is it fair enough to want to place yourself in LDS hell just to avoid a celestial dictator who knows and surveys everything about you, who you disagree with ideologically? If it’s true that everything there is peaceful and fine, it’s difficult to see why people would want such a high level of control and surveillance over their life by choosing to be with God.

          I look forward to hearing about the other subjects, I just had to sneak the question in!

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          • What one does with one’s life, mortal or eternal, is one’s own choice. Still, to answer your questions with questions:

            Is it “control and surveillance” when a parent is teaching their children the family trade?

            Is it “celestial tyranny” when the roles of parent and teacher overlap?

            And is it either fair or rational to oppose truth?

            That last goes into how something is not simply true because God says so, but He says it because it is true. He is bound by truth, he cannot go against it, either in word or in spirit, and still be “God.” It is a doctrinal point in my church that if God lied, he would cease to be God. If he broke his word, he would cease to be God. When we do what He says, he bound, by cosmic, divine law, to fulfill his word and give us the blessings He has promised us.

            As opposed to Lucifer, the Prince of Lies. 😉

            So, while it is, I would say, fair to ask questions, fair to criticize, fair to disagree, even fair to rage at God, I would heavily emphasize the need to do so with the desire and intent to seek greater understanding.

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            • Hey if a parent teaching their children the family trend involves them knowing every single thing about them, following their every action, and listening to their every thought that is control and surveillance.

              It is celestial tyranny. A celestial entity has no business forcing itself into my thoughts and actions, and trying to take over the same role my parents have. If that’s not celestial tyranny then punishing people for not doing what this celestial entity says, and saying that we need to live to it’s standard is.

              If God cannot go against truth then he’s not all powerful. If God only says the morals because they are true, then they do not come from the objectiveness of God but an objectiveness of morality which God is forced to follow.

              You are limiting God’s power by this, by what you have described he is not all powerful. Because an all powerful God could still break his word and stay as God.

              If God lied then he would just be Jasmine in the sky. He would not cease to vanish. Why are you so confident in what he says about himself, lying is easy!

              Lying is also most definitely not always wrong. Is it a sin to tell the nazi’s that your not hiding any jews in your house when you actually are? That’s a situation where it can only be sinful to tell the truth.

              As opposed to Lucifer. the prince of lies? You mean the guy who you are told is the prince of lies by the person trying to set him up in that way. If you ask me it just seems like an obvious way to explain suffering, if God didn’t like suffering he would have got of rid of Satan ages ago. It’s concerning 1 that Satan felt a need to disagree with God in the first place and 2 that God does nothing to prevent him until revelation.

              I have a post coming soon about how revelation is the worst and most brutal thing ever. I don’t even give my opinion really, just write the horrible things that God does out in order. When I see those actions in order, I see no reason to think that God is any better than Satan. If this is the finale of “God’s amazing plan for everyone” then it’s the worst thing imaginable.

              If there is a god it is an absolute must to ask questions. God would be the most radical scientific discovery ever, and we would need to test as much as possible to learn as much as possible.

              You don’t think the universe always existing is a good enough explanation. I don’t even think God always existing is a nearly good enough explanation either.

              Science is making developments in this area. We’ve discovered that something can come from nothing. You would say that this nothing is not nothing and in fact the vacuum of space. The God question now is, who created nothing? Which sounds quite crazy to me. I also must tell you that we’ve discovered that empty space, the vacuum of space, can also come from nothing. We are working towards the answer to these origins questions quite convincingly whereas the Templeton foundation is still struggling to prove even one thing.

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              • One thing, before I retire for the evening, just because this one excites me, concerning God and truth.

                To be clear, I may refer to my church’s doctrine, but this is pretty much entirely my own perspective, my own thinking, not church doctrine, k?

                Now, you think that a God who cannot lie is not all-powerful, yes?

                Well, a lie only works when the person being lied to does not know the truth. In the face of one who knows the truth, a lie has no power. The power of a lie is limited, but the power of truth is eternal.

                Truth itself is eternal.

                I don’t mean “facts of the moment” like “man cannot fly” was a fact a couple centuries ago and now “man can fly” is a fact, albeit one that depends on surrounding facts about available technology. Each was true in their time, but Truth, with a capital T, is comprised of all facts, and all knowledge.

                Knowlege is power, and knowledge is an understanding of what is true. This understanding enables and empowers those who possess it. Knowledge of animals allowed us to domesticate them; knowledge of farming allows us to produce food; knowledge of fire and the elements created our civilization; knowledge of the seas allowed us to cross them; understanding our bodies gave us medicine; understanding electricity and binary gave us our computers; and so forth.

                In other words, knowledge, or understanding what is truth, begets mastery of forces we were unable to control before. And none of this is done by changing what is true, but by conforming to it. Knowledge *is* power, so to have all knowledge is to be all-powerful, and as knowledge hinges on what is true… then how is a God who is all-knowing, and therefore His power is inherently tied to Truth, anything but all-powerful?

                Whatever God says, no matter how ridiculous it may sound to us at the time, is absolutely true. We can hold to that, and ask questions without fear of confusion or divine recrimination. We can trust in His promises, and so we are empowered by Truth as well. And no matter what darkness we find ourselves in, if we hold true to His words, we can trust it will guide us through the dark and into the light.

                I would say that the capacity to lie is a flaw, a weakness, rather than a strength, especially as it can only be used with any sort of effectiveness against a flawed being whose knowledge is imperfect. In the face of an all-knowing God of Truth, lies are absolutely useless.

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                • I think your answer that your looking for is that you have to take it on faith, because God’s traits and existence are not demonstrable currently.

                  As I mentioned in the last comment lies can be more moral than truth. If the Nazi’s prayed to Yahweh and asked if there were any Jews in the house in front of them, God would be sinning to tell the truth.

                  Lying is never caused by a consequence of not knowing the truth. Lying can only be done when the truth is known and your going against it.

                  When God claims to be all powerful he has already lied. Being all powerful is impossible, as it leads to paradox’s. Like could God make a rock so heavy he couldn’t lift it physically? All answers to this question result in the conclusion that God is not all powerful.

                  It is also impossible for God to know if there is something he doesn’t know, because he wouldn’t know about it.

                  An all powerful being is surely capable of lying, if it is unable then there is something that it can’t do, and is therefore not all powerful.

                  It would seem, that it would have to be that God chooses not to lie. But if that’s the case, how can you know what’s true and what’s not?

                  This being is supposedly all powerful, however could an all powerful being not deceive the masses, and convincingly give you perceptions of a much different relationship to what is actually taking place.

                  Could a not all powerful being, but just a really powerful being like an angel deceive the masses, pretend to be a God and have it look just the same.

                  I don’t believe it’s possible for you to know for sure. You have to take it on faith that God is not lying.

                  I see it a different way. The God of the bible is very human and flawed to me, showing signs of jealousy and evilness, as well as performing many bad actions. Not just in the old testament but in the new as well. When I look at these major character flaws, I can’t help but see him as man made.

                  I’m surprised you didn’t mention the something from nothing thing. Don’t you think that’s amazing scientific progress? What an exiting time to live in.

                  My stance on Christianity has changed really. My opinion is more that there is no good reason to believe in it, than it’s flat out wrong.

                  I think there are some things that we don’t know, and that’s ok, as long as we work towards answers.

                  My stance currently is more like “I don’t know, but neither do you” – as in I don’t necessarily have to present my own claims in order to believe that yours are wrong.

                  I’m going away for the weekend so if you reply before then I probably won’t be able to reply before I get back!

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • I’ll get to the rest in due time, but, for the moment… I think we define “all-powerful” slightly differently. For some, I understand, it means “able to do anything at all.” The way I am accustomed to using it, it means, “able to do anything which is possible.” Does that make sense?

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                    • It makes sense but if theirs something a person can’t do; they are not all powerful. For something that’s all powerful nothing is impossible. This is why nobody really believes the concept exists. For your faith, that definition of all-powerfulness is functional, yet it also admits that there are things God cannot do.

                      You commented so much. I’m worried that this will get way too big or many interesting things will be dropped.

                      Like

                  • In regards to taking thing on faith… I have faith in my family, and I have faith in my friends, and I have faith in my God, all for the same reason: I don’t just know *about* them, I *know* them, through experience, and through qualities which *have* been demonstrated. 🙂

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                    • Three questions:

                      1) How honest are you when you say that?

                      2) What proof would you accept?

                      I mean, I did just get done talking about how people have witnessed God’s power, yet have not believed, and I cannot think of one instance where such a display resulted in any lasting conversion.

                      Mind you, there *is* a way. But it’s neither quick nor easy, and it requires a great deal of effort from you. Which brings me to my third question:

                      3) How honest are you *really* when you say that?

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                    • This is exactly what I meant when I said I was worried about all of the good stuff being thrown out. But if you can demonstrate God, I suppose it won’t matter so much.

                      I’m very honest. If you can prove God exists, then I have to believe it, I won’t have a choice but to believe it. I can’t lie, of course I’ll be sceptical, but the truth has nothing to fear from honest investigation.

                      Your proof not just has to demonstrate a God, but Yahweh. If you showed a God to need to exist, I would first go to deism, which is a belief that there is a God, just not from any of the organised religions. You would then need to demonstrate that Yahweh is that deity.

                      I don’t know what that proof could be, except for something not only that I couldn’t refute, but would be better than the answer of “I don’t know” – which in many, many cases, is the correct answer.

                      To elaborate on what I mean, let’s take the case of evolution before it was discovered. How could such a vast variety of life arise without a God? Since evolution wouldn’t have been discovered yet, my answer would be “I don’t know” – which in my opinion is a better answer than God did it. Since in the realm of “I don’t know” – the God explanation is one of many possible solutions to the problem, and there is no way to tell which of these solutions are the correct one until we have actually found the correct solution. This is the classic God of the gaps problem.

                      I’ll wait to hear what this proof is before passing judgement. However I don’t believe that proof should ever need to require effort from the person you’re trying to persuade.

                      If your trying to change someones mind, the burden of proof is on you and not them.

                      When you say the word proof, it doesn’t usually refer to the person you’re trying to convince doing things on their own, but demonstrating to them in a relatively quick amount of time why these facts prove what you’re setting out to prove.

                      I am obviously reluctant to put in a great deal of effort into this, considering that for the vast majority of my life I have always been putting that same effort in.

                      However if we perhaps compromise, and both put great effort into looking at each other’s world views then this method of proof would be something I’d be far more happy to follow through with and look into.

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                    • Then, I have a challenge for you… but I hesitate to make it.

                      Proof provided by someone else can always be contested. But if you really want to know, for yourself, then you have to do what everyone else has had to do in order to know for themselves, and what I had to do to know for myself. If you do it, you gain the only proof which truly stands on its own, independent of what anyone else says, whether they agree or disagree.

                      It is difficult and demanding, not in the sense that the task itself is difficult, but in the commitment one must make to it. Indeed, it’s quite simple, even easy… but it requires honest dedication, if for no other reason than to thoroughly examine what is presented, which is not small.

                      I can, of course, understand your reluctance to put in so much effort, especially if you feel that you have already done so, for such a long time, yet gained so little for it. It’s like digging in a mine: if you stop finding what you’re looking for, then eventually you give up on it.

                      I am especially hesitant as, in all honesty, I do not know what I can properly offer you on my part. I mean, when you’ve already struck the motherload, why would you go to another mine that’s already played out? 😉

                      So, I’m not trying to be coy or anything, but I feel compelled to ask, just one more time… if I offer you this challenge, which will be demanding, will you honestly consider accepting it?

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                    • Um if proof can be contested by someone else, it’s not very good proof is it?

                      I should be honest. If your method involves drugs or going on a missionary type thing I’m not prepared to do it. I am also not prepared to do it forever, at some point it has to end in the two possible ways it could end.

                      That being said, after all this talk I would be surprised if your method was anything other than reading the bible and praying for God to reveal himself to me every day – bringing back the problems with personal experience and coincidences we talked about so long ago.

                      You said at the start that God’s traits have been demonstrated, what I was asking is for you to demonstrate them. If a person cannot demonstrate God and just tells them to look for themselves I don’t really see how God has been demonstrated.

                      Nevertheless I’ll wait until hearing what you have to say first. If your willing to put the same effort that I put in then of course I’ll consider it.

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                    • Fair enough.

                      And you are pretty close with what the challenge is. The reason being… well, even people who experience miracles have to do the same thing as those who do not, namely, yes: read, ponder, and pray.

                      So, I challenge you to read the Book of Mormon.
                      You can get a free copy (with or without a visit from some missionaries who can explain it to you and answer questions and such) here: https://www.comeuntochrist.org/beliefs/book-of-mormon-request

                      If you do this, honestly open to the possibility of it being true, then you may obtain a proof that no one can dispute.

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                    • Ok maybe I should have realised beforehand that I wouldn’t be prepared to invite LDS people into my home. Everything on that website just felt a bit uncomfortable to me, and if theirs an alternative I would rather take it.

                      Sorry, I live with my parents so I don’t want any questions from them, but if you think it’s absolutely necessary to get a physical version, I suppose I’ll fill this form in when I go back to university.

                      The book of mormon is free and available online, I’ve found a pdf of it already! Surely that’s ok as well?

                      So here’s the trade off, I’ll read the book of mormon, and pray about it, if you read a book of my choosing at the same rate that I read.

                      How about you give me instructions of where to start, information about it, and length of time I should read and pray daily? As well as other instructions you would like to say.

                      Then based on what you say, I’ll ask you to do a similar thing, though obviously for a different book.

                      I’ll also promise now to stay open, otherwise it would be pointless right? I’d of course ask you to do the same.

                      Fair?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Of course a PDF works. I have no idea if one can use a bookmark with PDFs, but it works. 🙂

                      Let’s see… I believe the information one needs to understand the beginning of it is at the beginning, assuming the PDF has the introduction and such. There are footnotes, too, meant as study helps along the way. So, I think that should mostly cover things, at least at first.

                      Where to start: the beginning.
                      How much to read per day, and everything about praying, I will leave you to decide. It’s not so much about how long you pray as *how* you pray. There is a promise made in the final chapter of the book, Moroni 10: 3-5, which addresses that.

                      That promise is the crux of the matter. It is the proof I obtained, and which millions of others have obtained. It may take time to become ready to test that promise (I was seventeen before I really understood it, and applied it properly), but it’s real.

                      And with that proof, the truth of everything I believe in rises or falls.

                      …not to say I’m always “right” on every subject, of course, because I am always learning more, but everything I learn hinges on that promise. 😉

                      So, as you read, I would ask only that you pay attention to your experience with it, what it makes you think and feel, and what it means.

                      Is that all right?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I’m sure you’ve heard of it before, but I’m worried your perceptions of it are quite negative.

                      So I want to say two things first. The truth has nothing to fear from investigation (which applies to me too – which is why I accepted this in the first place), and the book I’m suggesting is not setting out to prove anything against the LDS church, it’s just asking questions.

                      The pdf is here: https://cesletter.org/CES-Letter.pdf, however if that link doesn’t work the free download is here, only the physical version costs money: https://cesletter.org/#downloads

                      Should we start this thing today? How about trying to read for at least 20 minutes daily?Yours is way shorter than mine so I expect you’ll finish before I do.

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                    • I am almost finished. I read a little the past couple days, but I knew I’d have a lot of spare time today, so I pushed through the bulk of it in one go. It was strangely reminiscent of arguments I’ve had on Facebook, only I had no “reply” button.

                      Joseph Smith once said, to someone who was complaining about a gossiping slur on their reputation, that whenever he heard something ill of himself, he always stopped and looked at himself, to see if there was a kernel of truth within it. And, he said, there always is.

                      That is what I think of when I read this. It has kernels of truth within it, one must humbly admit, but that does not make it true.

                      Details to follow.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Please follow with details, I want to know what you think is true, and why you don’t believe the other things. It seems highly trustworthy, and comes from the perspective of someone who has discovered all these things yet still wants to believe, but struggles due to the seriousness of the claims. I’ve read a little of it too, but far from all of it.

                      I’m making my way steadily through Nephi 1, and am maybe just under half way complete. I’m enjoying reading it, but no voices from above so far. I’m blogging it so you’ll be able to see my thoughts after that releases.

                      The book of Mormon is much longer, and you could count Nephi 1 in itself as a book, so would you maybe be up for another one after this? You don’t have to be, I’m just asking.

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                  • Being mortal, instead of divine, I do forget some of the things I want to say by the time I get done saying them. Thus, the lack of response to the Nazi thing. 😉

                    I have, in fact, used that very same example to explain how we flawed mortals can sometimes break commandments in pursuance of keeping other, more important commandments. Christ did teach that the chiefest commandments were to love God, our neighbor, and ourselves. What is evil if not the absence of that love, as demonstrated by the horrific acts we commit against each other? And I recall a moment to come where Jesus will divide the good from the wicked, and it will be based entirely on the love we do or do not demonstrate for one another.

                    …but I am getting a bit off the subject.

                    So, back to the Nazi thing. Firstly, as the Nazis would be absolutely evil, do you really think God is going to answer their prayer and direct them to the Jews in hiding? Um, no. Secondly, more to the point, how might a perfectly honest person direct the Nazis away from the Jews he is hiding?

                    I don’t know if you are familiar with the musical Showboat. It’s set during the days of Jim Crow, so a local sheriff comes to arrest a woman accused of having “negro blood” in her for daring to marry a white man. Now, the sheriff states, very specifically, that having even a drop of negro blood in someone makes them a negro (he uses a less polite term). So the husband declares that he, himself, has more than a drop of negro blood, and he will swear to that in a court of law, *with* witnesses. The sheriff intends to push on anyway… until a perfectly honest man, the sort of man who would not lie even to save his own life, and is known to his friends and the sheriff specifically for this integrity, steps forward and backs up the white man’s claim. Anyone else, *anyone else,* the sheriff would question his word, but not him. So, he goes away, leaving them be, albeit with a warning to the couple in question that they have to clear out of town.

                    What everyone fails to mention is that the white husband has negro blood in him specifically because, in front of all of them, he just barely ingested a few drops of his wife’s blood. which, by the sheriff’s own definition, is negro blood. So he has “negro” blood literally “inside him,” just not in the way the usual way which the sheriff is thinking of. So, a statement can be perfectly true, just not in the way one assumes it is.

                    I also recall a moment in the Bible when some priests demanded to know of Jesus by what authority he taught the people and did what he did. Jesus turned it around on them, said, in effect, “I will tell you the source of my authority if you first tell me where John the Baptist got his: from God or from man?” And the priests discussed for a moment, because if they admitted John’s authority was of God, Jesus can ask why they didn’t accept him, and if they say it was of man, then the people, with whom John was popular, would be angry with them. So their answer was, “We cannot say.” And Jesus, true to his word, did not answer their question.

                    So, if a man as honest as God were put to the test by a Nazi looking for the Jew he was hiding, the honest might simply say, “You will find no Jews here in my house.” Now, what he leaves unsaid is *why* he will not find any. It could be, “Because I’ve hidden them too well for you to find.” Or it could be, “Because I’ve hidden them *outside* my house.” Or maybe, “Because I know how your mind works and you are going to turn and leave *because* I told you that you won’t find them here.” Or, perhaps, “Because I will kill you before you can find them.”

                    See what I mean?

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                    • You mean to say that belief in him is irrelevant to your judgement? That is first of all news to me, and second of all a good thing, because being a moral person is irrelevant to what you believe about who created you.

                      I don’t personally believe God is going to answer any prayer, so maybe that’s not a good question to ask me. I also think you would agree with me when I say deception is a sin. The way you described getting out of the nazi situation is deception, which is a sin, and a form of lying. So God can’t lie, but it’s ok for him to deceive?

                      The nazi situation is one where if God did not deceive them, he would be sinning. So we now have two things that God would be completely immoral in not being able to do. So if God is moral, he would be able to deceive, but if he’s able to deceive (repeat what I’ve been saying this whole time)

                      It’s interesting that you say God would do nothing, because I agree with you there. I know we’ve talked about it already, but if I was slowly dying from an injury and you were right there with me, if you didn’t call an ambulance to help me, do you think I’d have something to say about it?

                      Now God is present in every situation (if he’s real) and considering theirs all these people dying in his presence where an ambulance could easily be called, I do have something to say about it.

                      Inaction in some cases can be a sin in my opinion. God is very guilty of it if he is real.

                      Like

                  • Perhaps a further explanation about the honesty of God. I mean, perhaps you wonder why an all-powerful being would *have* to be honest?

                    Well, take the principle about man’s mastery of the world coming through the power of knowledge, which is an understanding of truth, and conforming to what is true, rather than changing it. Now, apply it on a cosmic scale.

                    The power of God is the power of all the knowledge in the universe. His mastery of cosmic forces comes through his knowledge of them. He does not break the laws of science when he performs miracles, it is merely that our understanding of those laws, and how they can be used, is incomplete. God does not break the laws, but uses them. He rules them by conforming to them. Thus, he can do anything which is possible, but there are impossible things.

                    A particular point of my church’s doctrine is that the powers of Heaven, aka the power which God wields, is irreversibly tied to the principles of righteousness. Principles like faith, love, humility, and truth. For us to access the power of God, we must align ourselves with His spirit through the practice of these principles, including truth. God, being bound by the same laws and principles, has his power because he, too, practices these principles. His power is tied to them, he cannot have the one without the other. Thus, God, in order to be “God,” must be honest. If he lies, he ceases to be God.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • What do you mean by ceases to be God? Here’s the thing, if God does lie, what happens? You might not call him God, but that wouldn’t stop him being the creator of the universe, it wouldn’t stop him knowing everything, it wouldn’t stop him being all powerful (except including his ability to lie…), and it wouldn’t stop him from having power over everyone’s lives. So, in what sense is this being still not a God? If he tells one lie, does that instead just make him a celestial dictator? I think the latter is true whether God can tell the truth or not!

                      God is bound by the laws of physics? So, he couldn’t change them if he wanted too?

                      The fact that God cannot operate against the laws of physics, also limits his power vastly does it not?

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      • Concerning the doctrinal point about receiving anything God has… I believe I mentioned early on that my church is a bit unique in some of its doctrinal points, yes? 😉

        As for the Jasmine analogy, eh, no worries about reversing it. I rather expected it. I mean, it’s not like I’ve never heard anyone accuse God of tyranny before. 😉

        And, as it happens, the story with Jasmine figures into how one knows whether or not Jasmine, or other cosmic entities, are true or false. In scripture, we are told, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” In the story, it’s even simpler. In a word: proximity.

        Jasmine enthralled anyone who looked at her or heard her voice through a powerful magic, but that magic stopped at the surface of her flesh. When a bit of her blood accidentally mixed within the bloodstream of one of her first disciples on Earth, a young woman, she was able to see past the illusion, to the true horror beneath, and, upon seeing that, was able to think for herself again. She was able to duplicate the experience for another one, and they did it again for a few more, and so on.

        It was by simple virtue of being so close to Jasmine that they were able to pierce the veil of her lies. They found out the truth through knowing her.

        We are told in scripture: “This is life eternal, to know thee, the true and everlasting God.” Which would indicate, contrary to popular opinion, that God *can* be known. Indeed, that is a central precept of my religion: we must each seek to know Him, ourselves. That is how we can come to trust Him and do His will, through experience.

        And, yes, this does involve asking questions. For one, I have often wondered at some of those things in the Old Testament, as you have. But the more I learn about those times, the more I come to understand how right He is.

        Take, for instance, a showdown between a prophet and four hundred and fifty priests of Baal. It’s a famous story, culminating in fire coming down from Heaven, followed by the mass destruction of Baal’s priests. A graphic event, and I wondered why all those priests needed to be killed. Recently, however, I learned exactly what those priests were guilty off, what atrocities they led their people, including Israelites, in committing, and just how poetic it was for God to condemn them with a display of fire.

        My point being, my trust in God is based on my experience with Him. I have asked questions and found answers, and asked questions based on those answers, and so on. I have put in the effort to learn, for myself. I have learned to listen to His spirit, and I have taken leaps of faith. I have built my own relationship with Him, completely independent of anyone else, and anything else.

        By His fruits do I know Him. 😉

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        • Yeah it’s unique. What type of LDS are you? Are there specific branches?

          I’m confused by how your so confident God is not a jasmine, if he’s even real in the first place. Is God not supposed to be with everyone all the time? If that’s the case, then proximity has led the vast majority of people to dislike this God and choose a different one.

          I could also just as easily say, it was only by being close to God, and reading the terrible crimes that he commits in the bible that they learned just how unworthy God was of worship.

          I can point it out to you if you need me too, the examples of Jasmine doing bad things don’t compare to what Yahweh has done. So many people have seen through this. The proximity gained through reading the bible themselves, leads them to notice how bad these crimes really are. If all of these things fit with God’s morality, frankly it’s rubbish and we don’t need it. You surely would rather live with the law we have in today’s society rather than replace it with the law that they had in the society of the exodus? Let me remind you that someone was killed for picking up sticks on the sabbath in those times.

          When is it ever moral to own a slave? Exodus 21 blatantly endorses slavery. So does the new testament when it says “Slaves love your masters, even the cruel ones” so much of the old testament is unjustifiable. But I’m glad your doing research into these kinds of things, the more you find, the more the cracks will show.

          God says do not murder. Also God: killing 450 priests. So he’s a hypocrite. It does not matter how bad they were, God cannot kill people. Whose more moral, a guy who kills 450 people or the people who led many people to atrocities? One thing we can agree on, is that they’re both immoral.

          We abolished the death penalty a long time ago because it made us the bad guys. It’s far more punishing to let criminals live in prison for their entire lives.

          The reason why God has judgement day is to put everyone on an even level, and then punish everyone who did bad things, such as these priests. Not only was doing this immoral, but also unnecessary, as they would all be judged much later.

          This was not any of the examples I gave you, this is your own that you chose. It should have been something I could agree with, but it’s not. I still think that it is horrible. I had never heard that story before.

          The whole building a relationship is a weird one for me. It seems like Yahweh is telling everyone incredibly different things. There are so many sects of Christianity you would have thought at the very least Yahweh speaking to people could tell them which one is correct.

          A lack of consistency is very concerning, and cements the idea that this is all in everyone’s head.

          Speaking on behalf of God was the easiest thing for me to do. Because God was what I thought he was, he was my opinions and what I wanted projected outwards. He knew me so personally, because I knew myself so personally.

          If you don’t think this is true for Christianity. You can at least see why it’s true for other religions. Why other religions without your real God also feel like they’re God speaks to them, and has the exact same personal relationship with them that you have with Yahweh.

          Our views on Gods are incredibly similar. I believe that all 4000 (or so) gods are not real, you believe that 3999 (or so) gods are not real.

          This is how you explain why people from other religions also feel like this exact same relationship is real and true to them. But the question is. If these people have the exact same thing you have with your God, but they’re God isn’t real, how can you possibly know for sure that your relationship with God isn’t in your head?

          Ahhh there’s way too much here. But it’s all interesting to me and I can’t not say it! Maybe theirs a better way to do this, like a podcast or something.

          Liked by 1 person

          • To answer your first question, there is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and there have been two churches I can recall which broke off from us.

            One was in the early days of the church, after our founder, Joseph Smith Jr., was murdered. This being the first time we’d experienced such a transition in leadership, there were some (one, in particular) who tried to usurp the process and claim they had been “secretly appointed” as his successor. Some went with that one, becoming what was called the Reformed LDS church, though I believe they changed it to the Community of Christ something like ten or fifteen years ago.

            The second was a few decades later, and the Mormon Fundamentalists, as they are called, broke off from the main body of the church over the issue of plural marriage. In particular, when the decision to end the practice, permanently and without exception, came down, they disagreed with it. They still practice it to this day.

            Outside those two, I don’t believe there has been any significant branching-off anywhere else in our history, though it might have. Bottom line, we’re all one church, adhering to the same doctrine no matter where we are in the world.

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          • You raise a number of valid questions (which I very much love!) and I shall do my best to address them. 🙂

            The most central thing I want to mention is something you are exactly right about:

            It seems that everyone has their own view of God and they make that God whatever they want Him/Her/Them/It to be. There is, indeed, a great deal of confusion, and people can be astoundingly fickle about what they choose to do or believe in regards to God.

            If I may be forgiven for drawing on an example from a fairly recent manga/anime, do you know anything about Overlord? It basically tells the usual fantasy story, but from the villains’ point of view. Taking the center lead is an undead skeleton sorcerer, and he is surrounded by absolutely devoted followers in whose eyes he is absolutely flawless and without peer. One of them is especially cunning, and almost every scheme he comes up with, and almost everything that happens at all, he attributes to his master’s will and abundant capacity. It’s complimentary, in a way, but he does not realize that he is, in fact, skewing his master within his own head to conform to *his* definition of perfection. The story hasn’t finished yet, but I’d be willing to bet that this is going to bite them in the butt.

            In a similar way, as you say, people have often made their deities conform to *their* views, rather than the other way around.

            Perhaps an even more pointed anime comparison could be found in some priests in Maria the Virgin Witch, priests which the lead character rightly accuses of preaching overly-complicated ideas that they themselves do not actually understand, and which ultimately go against what their God actually is. Even in Christianity, there have been competing ideas about what God is, that He is a spirit, that He fills the whole universe, that He exists in your heart… none of which are entirely false, from my church’s perspective, but which aren’t the actual truth.

            It was in the middle of such a religious confusion that Joseph Smith Jr. was trying to find his way. Wanting to join the right church, the true one, but having no means to determine this on his own, he studied the Bible. Within the book of James, he found a passage that seemed to enter with great force into his whole being, and he could not stop thinking about it, which said, simply, to ask of God, and ask in faith. So, one morning, he retired to a grove near his family’s farm, and he knelt and prayed.

            A full account of his experience can be found here: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/pgp/js-h/1?lang=eng

            But, to summarize: his prayer was answered. He saw God the Father, and he saw Jesus Christ standing next to Him. Another account includes the presence of angels, but this one focuses specifically on the Father and the Son. And when Joseph emerged from this encounter, several fundamental truths, which had been lost over the centuries, emerged with him. These truths include that God is a physical being, that the Father and Son are separate individuals, that the heavens are not closed, and, most especially, that revelation from God continues.

            This is, of course, a very serious claim, and it is one that either is or is not true, it cannot be both.

            That last truth I mentioned, about continuing revelation, is particularly important to some of the points you raised. It is through revelation to His prophets and personal revelation to each of us that we navigate the confusion which results from everyone’s flawed perspectives. God is, after all, the outstanding expert on Himself. 😉

            Now, most of us don’t have experiences like the one I just described. But, do you remember that whole thing with 450 priests? The prophet who instigated this, Elijah (I think… I get him and Elisha mixed up far too easily), was sorely disappointed in the aftermath. He had this idea in his head that King Ahab and the Israelites would turn away from idols and false gods and all the wicked behavior they had been engaging in, after such a demonstration of God’s power. But they didn’t. Fire from heaven converted *no one.* Much like the plagues in Egypt generations earlier had converted no one, and much like many other such demonstrations throughout the ages before and after converted no one. Then God demonstrated to his prophet, teaching him (and us, through his example).

            To paraphrase the Bible, the prophet witnessed several dramatic events, like storms and shaking earth, but God was not truly in any of those. Then, after all of these big, loud, dramatic things… there came a still, small voice that spoke to the soul of the prophet. *That* was what the prophet had to learn to listen to, and what all of us need to learn to listen to.

            That was what urged Joseph Smith Jr. to pray on that spring morning, by carrying the words of the Bible deep into his heart. That is how he was called to be a prophet in modern times: through personal revelation, first and foremost.

            That is the rock upon which Jesus declared his church was built.

            Now, realizing I’ve kind of been all over the place already, the points you bring up have much to do with continuing revelation.

            For instance, when you ask about living under the law as it was way back when? No need. The Law of Moses was meant to point towards the coming of Christ, and it was fulfilled with his Atonement, including his death and resurrection. Much of what he did was to teach a higher law, that of not simply refraining from doing evil, but of doing good and governing oneself even within one’s own mind.

            The bit about being stoned for picking up sticks? Well, that wasn’t even part of the Law of Moses. It was part of an extended set of rules designed to ward everyone away from breaking the letter of the law, but that came at the cost of trampling the spirit of said law.

            The Bible does *not* endorse slavery, but as slavery was a thing (though a bit different from what you or I tend to recall from its practice in more modern times), it *does* have instructions for the slaves themselves, and it *does* refer to men both bonded and free when it’s trying to encompass something addressed to everyone.

            Now, one thing I am going to differ with you on not just religiously but in a number of ways: the death penalty does not make us bad. It should not be used lightly, but there are cases where it simply must be done, because there is never a guarantee, no matter the security measures, that a serial killer won’t escape and continue killing.

            We are told not to kill, but this is not meant to forbid us from defending ourselves, enacting justice, fighting wars for our freedom, etc. There is a cost to the soul when we take a life, and those who take lives easily are not in a good place in their relationship with God.

            Finally, to wrap this comment up, a point of my church’s doctrine is that much of what people believe about their god(s) is, in fact, partially true. Rather, it has fragments of truth within it, and they simply don’t have the entire truth. So long as they behave in accordance with what they *do* know, in their hearts, they are entitled to things such as comfort and guidance. Everyone is born with something we call the Light of Christ, which is that kernel of the Spirit’s presence within them, which tries to help them know what is right and what is wrong. Many people have had trouble hearing it, that still, small voice, but it’s there. And it is persistent, as any loving parent would be, in trying to help a child find their way.

            So, how do I know my relationship with God isn’t all in my head? In a word: experience.

            On which note, I would make a distinction between hearing about some authority figure, or even living in proximity to them, and actually getting to know them. As you say, there was a version of God that was in your head, but with everything we’re talking about, would you be willing to get to know a version that *isn’t* just in your head?

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            • For 17 years of my life I tried to get to know that version of God. For a lot of it, the way you describe your relationship is the same way I would have described mine. Deconversion is not simple nor done on a whim. It is incredibly difficult to change your world view when you have spent so much time believing it.

              When finding messed up things in the bible is as easy as turning the next page, how can you imply me being closed minded? It’s like saying, here’s my friend Hitler, we have a really good relationship, he makes great paintings, tells jokes, and is really fun to be with. I can’t not forget all the messed-up stuff he’s done, even if from your perspective he’s nice to you.

              Like those who take lives easily are not in a good place in their relationship with God? What about God from the old testament? As well as that, if God giving instructions of where to get your slaves from and how to treat them is not endorsing slavery to you, that’s frankly dishonest, he’s telling them to get slaves from foreign countries in that passage! There was only one thing that God should have said about slavery, and that thing is to not do it.

              Is faith a reliable path to truth? The answer is of course not. So many people believing in other religions different to yours simply because of faith have got it wrong from your perspective. It had led them to the wrong conclusions.

              So, if faith can lead the majority (from your perspective) to wrong conclusions, and only the minority to the correct conclusions. How can faith be called a reliable method to find truth?

              So, when Joseph Smith proposes to take these things on faith through prayer, not only is he fully endorsing a bad method of finding truth, but also a method which has led a huge amount of people to form the wrong conclusions.

              You said your relationship comes from experience, and that’s why you believe in it. But everyone in every religion feels like that, so how can we test and find out which is right? The answer is that it’s impossible to know. Your individual experience is not convincing because of this, and faith is not a reliable path to truth.

              If people were really communicating with a divine creator, one thing that would make it more convincing is consistency, as you would assume the same God would tell the people who believe in him the same things. However, it is as you said, nobody can seem to agree on anything that God’s saying. Making it much easier to doubt.

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      • Yeah it’s no good responding to strawmans, the best version of the argument is the only one worth responding to. I have to thank you a lot for providing these as I don’t think I could have present the arguments as fairly as someone who believed them!

        It’s difficult because obviously it’s an unfair format. But I obviously didn’t want to bother you, as it would only continue the huge conversation from before.

        All I can say is that your more than welcome to do the exact same thing I’ve done with you, on your own blog.

        Liked by 1 person

    • No problem, don’t feel like you have any obligation to respond to anything here. This post itself is quite old, as I waited for the conversation to finish before releasing it, to see if there would be anything else to add.

      I have a fair amount of draft and scheduled posts to release that I’ve written and waited on so it would be stupid to reply and make comments to all of them!

      I do hope to get other people responding, but when your in a new area of blogging it’s not as easy. Like the Christianity WP community is pretty huge, but it seems very reluctant to read atheism, and within itself it also seems quite reluctant to read other people too, just because theirs so many blogs it’s difficult for everyone to be read.

      I can’t complain because I’ve stopped reading blogs entirely myself. But I hope to see more opinions as well. Fingers crossed haha.

      Maybe I’ll write a “Why Christians should read Athiest blogs” post and see if that works!

      Liked by 1 person

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