Quantcast

Comments about ‘Mormon Media Observer: A take on the atheism debate’

Return to article »

Published: Monday, Jan. 24 2011 4:30 a.m. MST

Comments
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
Yorkshire
City, Ut

Atheists, (like a certain other segment of the population, which shall remain nameless)are not content to just be so.

There is only joy in being so, when being "in your face" at any and all times and ways about it to others.

Mormoncowboy
Provo, Ut

I would caution against using the old "science vs religion" dichotomy to discuss what can be accomplished via the scientific process. Science vs religion, is not about "science" (observation and inquiry) but rather certain theories (which have peer review/empirical support) within it's domain. Most commonly it is creationism vs evolution. Still, The Book of Mormon advocates the scientific process for religious discovery in two places. Form a hypothesis (God lives, etc), perform a test (pray), observe outcome (theoretical ideas' on the Holy Ghost"). However, as I mentioned in Orson Scott Cards last post, we have problems of test validity and observation of outcomes. Even Mr. Williams here evokes the subjective nature of the Holy Ghost by saying:

"Those who have done so know what they have experienced, and as they nurture that spirit, genuine joy grows."

In others words, it cannot be peer reviewed, so a person must rely on their interpretation. To further complicate, when we are being honest, we also experience contradiction with this experience, as Mr. Card noted when he suggested being "...careful when claiming spiritual experiences". Religion is at a disadvantage to science in at least this regard, and all evidence is strictly subjective.

Full-on double rainbow
Bluffdale, UT

This is an easy one. What you have to do is randomly assign people into two groups. One group to receive true religion and the other to receive placebo religion. Of course you want to make it double blind so that the people receiving the religion and the people administering religion don't know which is the placebo. Then run your statistical analysis on the results. If your really careful then you will have taken subjectivity right out of the equation.

The Atheist
Provo, UT

"...my testimony, my knowledge of God, is independent of any other person."

Independent from any other person = irrelevant to any other person = not publically verifiable.

"Mormons believe there is evidence for the existence God for those willing to experiment upon the word of God."

Dont invoke scientific metaphor, language, and method unless you are going to take it seriously. And if you do take it seriously, you find that the LDS experiment (Moronis challenge) is a shell game, not science.

"I find the unique combination of order and diversity in nature compelling."

Your argument from design must take into account such things as the tsunami that killed over 300,000. You must concede that the Grand Watchmaker created a mechanism that is hostile and malicious against human life.

Either this is because it is a malicious rather than benevolent god, or because there is no god. You choose.

"Mormonisms last evidence sits in the power of the Holy Ghost that comes to the hearts and minds of those who seek God through earnest, submissive prayer and faithful action."

Anyone who has read The Emperors New Clothes can see the immorality of this confidence game.

Iggle
Salt Lake City, UT

As a convert to the LDS Church, I've come to respect atheists' point of view. They're consistent in that they deem all religious beliefs irrational. It's in contrast to many religious people of all faiths who basically say, "MY beliefs are perfectly sound, while YOURS are irrational and absurd!" even though neither would pass the test of modern science (and that's why we have the concept of faith, and that's how it is). Plus, not all atheists are "in your face." And they stick up for the First Amendment in a way that won't threaten our right to worship, but will protect us from those who think they're fighting "cults." Mormons, of all people, should not worry about the limiting of public prayers (see Mosiah 24).

No, I don't totally agree with atheists, but I learn from them.

brokenclay
Scottsdale, AZ

"Either this [a tsunami] is because it is a malicious rather than benevolent god, or because there is no god. You choose."

You present us with a false dilemma. Most of the brightest atheist philosophers have conceded that the problem of evil (especially the deductive version) is really no problem at all for a theist's worldview. This puts the atheist in an interesting position, because the problem of evil is one of the few (if not only) positive arguments that can be marshaled in favor of atheism. Thus many of the new atheists have resorted to defining atheism in purely negative terms (i.e., atheism is NOT such and such, rather than, atheism IS such and such).

Existentialism is a legitimate form of determining the truth, because God does speak to people personally. But what the Mormons haven't realized is that there are other spirits out there in the world who can speak as well. Just because you have a feeling doesn't mean it's the HS.

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world."

The Atheist
Provo, UT

Brokenclay

You fail to show how it is a false dilemma. Please, educate us all. How is that a false dilemma?

You assert the following without any support: Most of the brightest atheist philosophers have conceded that the problem of evil (especially the deductive version) is really no problem at all for a theist's worldview.

To which atheist philosophers are you referring?

The problem of evil as invoked by atheists is not necessarily meant to be a problem for theists. Against reason, they already believe (and typically rely on the flaccid arguments of CS Lewis see The Problem of pain). The Problem of Evil is a rational argument that has never been resolved by theists not even by your so-called existentialism (to whom are you referring here?)

Your claims are completely wrong and unsupported.

In addition to the New Atheists mentioned (Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, Stenger, Hitchens), there are scholars and former pastors such as Bart Ehrman who have abandoned faith and adopted a form of atheism and ALL of them use the problem of evil as an explanation for why they do not believe.

Your ideas seem out of touch (to put it kindly).

sharrona
layton, Ut

Atheists: "For since the creation of world(KOSMOS) Gods invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen being understood from what has been made, so men* are without excuse. (Romans 1:20).

Cosmological arguments are, as the name implies, attempts to infer the creation of the Cosmos or universe. Sometimes called first-cause arguments because they attempt to infer that God must exist as the first or ultimate cause of the universe.
1. Some contingent being exist. 2. If any contingent being exists, then a necessary being must exist(because contingent beings require a necessary being as their ultimate cause). 3. Therefore their exists a necessary being(which is the ultimate cause of the existence of contingent beings). *In Acts 17: 22-34, Paul deals with mans need for God even the Greeks philosophers havegods.

brokenclay
Scottsdale, AZ

I applaud Christopher Hitchens for continuing to define atheism in positive terms. This is the honest way to do it. However, in his debate with Craig, this admission didn't turn out well for him. The point is, there are indeed new atheists that continue to define atheism positively (however ill-advised that is), and so they have warrant to use the argument from evil.

I've read a quote from Sam Harris that defines atheism in purely negative terms. Thus the argument from evil cannot be used as a positive argument for atheism.

Ehrman is an agnostic. In the professional philosophy literature, the deductive problem of evil has all but disappeared in recent times. No one has ever shown that evil and a good God are logically incompatible.

Thus the false dilemma, if you'll allow me to connect the dots. You say, either God is evil, or there is no God. But given evil, these are not the only two options to choose from. Though a theodicy will never be found, plenty of defenses have been written. If only one possible explanation is given, your assertion is shown to be a false dilemma.

Convert
Cedar City, UT

Lane, I have to question your statement "my testimony, my knowledge of God, is independent of any other person." That simply cannot be true...for several reasons:

1.As an LDS member, every member I know obtained their testimony through the efforts of other members, and sometimes hundreds of other members. If you were "born in the Covenant", your testimony and beliefs were born from other's testimonies and are certainly dependent on many others.

2.Being a Utah Mormon places you at the center of Mormon influence. Being from Texas, I can assure you that there is no place like Utah, with respect to the Church. We are literally engulfed by the Church here (the LDS faithful, the LDS society, the LDS media, etc). And it is because of other members.

3. The further you get from Utah/So.Idaho and from LDS families and the more distant you are from active LDS members, there is a huge gap in terms of numbers of members with "strong testimonies" (whatever that means).

Believe me...we are all dependent on each other for continued spiritual influence and relationships.

michaelm
Waukesha, WI

Seems once again history repeats itself. There is no evil, there is no God, do what you want, all are equal but are also sheep to be lead, no one deserves what they earn or create, no one is responsible for their actions, there is no sin.

Eat Drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.Yes we have been here before too bad history must repeat itself as so few bother to understand the past.

It makes me fear for what is next because history also records this part of the cycle as well.

Mormoncowboy
Provo, Ut

Michaelm:

I am very interested to learn of this cycle, a time when the conventional thinking has been to deny God, and good/evil.

Perhaps before we appeal to the much needed history lessons, we first learn the lessons.

Mountanman
Hayden, ID

Atheists problem: failure to observe! Just because they have never observed God in the universe doesn't mean others have not! Absence of evidence for them is not evidence of absence for others! Even though I have never been to Japan, others have seen it and can testify it really exists and I have no problem accepting their testimony. I have not seen God either but others have and I accept their testimonies in the scriptures as well.

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

There are legitimate reasons for someone to both believe and disbelieve. In the end, if there is a God He/She will be most interested in how we treated those in our sphere of influence. If there is not, a life of love and service is by far the most fulfilling. Either way, it is important that we all focus on loving and serving our fellow man.

sharrona
layton, Ut

RE Jack Pack Lambert, "I have heard modern translations and they usually just do not measure up."? JS had a hard time with Greek.

1. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (3Nephi 13:12) compare,
1. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Mt 6:13&6:14JST)
"Although the KJV renders this 'deliver us from evil,' the presence of the article indicates not evil (force), but the evil one himself. Daniel B. Wallace, Should be, the evil one(MT 6:13 NIV). JS follows the poor KJV Translation.

2. And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be* filled. added [with the Holy Ghost] ?(3Nephi 12:6) compare
2. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be *filled. (Mt 5:6 KJV)
Blessed are they who hunger and thirsts for righteousness for they will be satisfied.(Mt 5:6 NIV) Modern translation
*Filled or, satisfied (chortazo, 5526) to fill or be satisfied with food not the Holy Ghost. JS misunderstood the text.
2 of many mistakes by JS.

The Atheist
Provo, UT

sharrona,

Your bringing up (but poorly explaining) cosmological arguments rings hollow for LDS.

Joseph Smith and the early "prophets" of the LDS Church denied "natural religion" along with their cosmological and ontological arguments.

Instead, they asserted "revelation" (of a sort) and passing knowledge of god down by tradition, to be the only means by which the existence of god can be known.

For intance, for almost 90 years, official LDS doctrine (in the Standard Works) was as follows:

"Q. According to the foregoing account, how was the knowledge of the existence of God first suggested to the minds of men?

A. By the manifestation made to our father Adam, when he was in the presence of God, both before and while he was in Eden. (2:44.)

Q. How was the knowledge of the existence of God disseminated among the inhabitants of the world?

A. By tradition from father to son.

Q. Is the knowledge of the existence of God a matter of mere tradition, founded upon human testimony alone, until a person receives a manifestation of God to themselves?

A. It is."

Lectures on Faith, Lecture 2nd. ["Decanonized" in 1921 without a sustaining vote.]

Your arguments fail on LDS.

The Atheist
Provo, UT

brokenclay,

You wrote:

"In the professional philosophy literature, the deductive problem of evil has all but disappeared in recent times. No one has ever shown that evil and a good God are logically incompatible."

On the contrary. It has been shown so much and so often as to have become mundane. Theodicies (soteriological, salvific, and every other theodicy)have failed so completely. That is why the deductive problem of evil has all but disappeared. Not because some one argument logically overcame it.

You assume far too much, and speculate even more. It is unfortunate, because otherwise you might make more clear arguments.

By the way, more recent scholarship in professional philosophy shows quite convincingly that the distinction between positive and negative atheism is a false dichotomy. Moreover, the distinction between agnosticism and atheism is without a difference.

sharrona
layton, Ut

The Atheisits,Your bringing up cosmological arguments rings hollow for LDS.
True, Im a Christian. My line of defense is for Genesis 1:1.
1.If an infinite number of moments occurred before today, then today would never come, because it is impossible to traverse an infinite number of moments. 2. But today has come. 3. Hence ,there was a finite number of moment before today; the universe had a beginning. Even the extentialist JP Sarte understood the finite makes no sense without an infinite.
Joseph Smith and the early "prophets" of the LDS Church denied "natural religion.
Not in Kirtland Ohio, I was quoting from Lecture Second,#4 "the works of creation of the world, throughout their vast forms and varieties, clearly exhibit the power of the Godhead; but we mean those evidences by which the first thoughts were suggested to men that there was a God who crated all things,then they quote Romans 1:20. You make my point Mormonism changes not Chritianity

Alberta Reader
Magrath, AB

One thing is certain we ALL will agree on. All MANKIND will die.
Answer will be given no more arguments I beleive the BofM when it teaches in Alma 40:11

Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.

cmtam
lake forest, ca

Alberta Reader said, " One thing is certain we ALL will agree on. All MANKIND will die."
Not JS, Check D&C 7: 1-5 The Apostle John is still alive. JS misunderstood the text in (John 21:22,23)

Also,"Answer will be given no more arguments. I believe the BofM when it teaches in Alma 40:11." Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body,yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.

Believe Ecclesiastes 12:10,Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and "the spirit shall return unto God Who Gave It." Refutes pre-existence.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments