Defending the Faith: 'Parallels' of prophets not parallel

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • Jeanie b. Orem, UT
    May 22, 2012 7:58 a.m.


    A person who has a belief that God is not real and is not willing to put that belief to the test will never have any evidence that God does in fact exist. That is what KD Lewis was saying - in a way that respects different choices in life.

    Joggle and people who believe similarly will not go where the evidence will be found because they don't believe in the process, or the possibility of God's reality. They cut themselves off from that source of evidence and are only left to what man can discover and prove through science, therefore their experiences will continue to lead them to the conclusions that God is not real no matter what believes say.

    Joggle - Believers can know God's thoughts because He sent His son to tell us them. They are written down for us. We also directly communicate with God through prayer and receive His thoughts about our own lives . We don't know all that God thinks, but we know enough to understand what kind of people He wants us to be and what His plan for us is.

  • Kith Huntington Beach, CA
    May 21, 2012 10:21 p.m.

    KD Lewis

    What lack of evidence? If one reads the Book of Mormon with an open mind, with real intent to act on any knowledge received, and humbly asks the Father in the name of Jesus Christ whether the book is true, I testify and promise you, they will receive a witness by the power of the Holy Ghost.


    Post some claims that you have trouble finding references for. I'll see if I can provide some.

  • Jeanie b. Orem, UT
    May 21, 2012 10:04 p.m.

    Joggle - in claiming that believers have "an ideological commitment which forces them to argue for something which has no basis in reality" aren't you strongly implying that God does not exist?

    Ok, so you don't need to prove your dis-belief. However, be careful that you do not say in different words what you claimed you never said.

    Thinkman - you need different Mormon friends.

  • KD Lewis Provo, UT
    May 21, 2012 4:09 p.m.


    By saying that some unexplained phenomenon can have an explanation that does not involve God, yet not having proof that this is the case, you are making the same argument as any believer would in favor of God. You have the belief that there is no God, I have a belief there is. We could spend all day citing different experiences or evidences in favor of our own position and yet never convince each other. My point is not to convince you, but to have you acknowledge that some people can have knowledge you don't, evidences you don't, and facts that you don't. As a result, they will come up with different explanations than yours. That doesn't make those explanations illogical, factless, or unreal. They merely have a different belief than you because they have had different experiences and observations of the world around them. In other words...don't discount other people's beliefs and experiences simply because you don't share them.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    May 21, 2012 2:12 p.m.

    Jeannie B

    Non-believers and skeptics DON"T base their world solely based on human observation and conclusions. We accept that there is much that humans have not and cannot observe at this time and much that we don't know. Unlike those of faith though we don't fill in the gaps with conclusions or assume humans know everything with certainty. Many of us accept that there are possibilities and things human cannot observe, but that still doesn't prove there is a God. If God was proveable then everybody would agree on the existence of this God.

    Claiming that non-believers "cannot prove that God does not exist" often relies upon the misunderstanding that those non-believer's claim "God does not exist" and should prove this. In reality, non-believers merely fail to accept the believers claim "God exists" and thus, the initial burden of proof lies with the believer. If the believer is unable to provide good reason to accept the existence of their god, it is unreasonable to expect the non-believer to construct a disproof of it. Believers can think they know their God's thoughts....but I've never seen proof ever!

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    May 21, 2012 12:21 p.m.

    ...Demand references." Yes, whenever I do that with my Mormon friends on what proves the LDS church's claims to be true, I'm told to just pray, pay and obey. If I still don't believe or haven't received a witness of the LDS church to be true, then I'm told I'm not sincere enough or have sin that needs to be removed.

  • Jeanie b. Orem, UT
    May 20, 2012 11:44 p.m.

    Joggle -

    Everyone lives on faith in one way or another. Even you do. You schedule events in the future because you have faith that you and the world will be here when those events will take place. You could easily be gone. The world has not always been in existence and maybe one day will not be here. You have no proof that your faith is based on anything other than a repeating pattern, but there are still no guarantees and yet you live as if there are.

    What makes wise words? Humans make up a whole slew of sayings - so how do we know which ones are wise? To what standard or authority do we turn?

    A world solely based on human observation and conclusions is a very small, limited world. A belief in a God that sent His son to show us wisdom and teach us a larger faith is a much broader world and a much more hopeful one.

    What's more, there is no scientific evidence that God does NOT exist. God is not a magician, He uses natural laws - some of which man has discovered and used ignorantly to explain away His miracles.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    May 20, 2012 1:39 p.m.

    KD Lewis,

    We have developed explanations, based upon natural causes, for many events previously left unexplained. How, then, can we know that a presently unexplained phenomenon will not turn out to have some natural explanation? Many of those who believe through faith fill in the gaps in our knowedge with their own unproven beliefs and religions. They have an ideological commitment which forces them to argue for something which has no basis in reality. Faith is a barrier to future knowledge when it fills in the gaps of our knowledge with unproven, uncertain guesswork or wishful thinking instead of knowledge based on facts or at least high probability. In other had better have facts available that are high up on the certainty scale. Although Christ's words bring benefit to many as can any wise words made by humans.....those words do not mean Christ's existence is fact. Just because one believes or has faith that something is true does not mean it is! Just because there are gaps in scientific knowledge or there are things we can't currently observe doesn't mean that God (and all that includes) is the correct or only explanation.

  • Tzadikim Bakersfield, CA
    May 19, 2012 7:09 p.m.

    Dr. Petersen's article raises interesting points about not taking lose criticism "seriously", without establishing credible sources. But what do we do with credible similarities? I don't think there are many "similarities" of other religious figures or doctrines that would shake the faith of a strong adherent. It's usually the critics and scoffers who are most influenced...

    I have studied and taught Hebrew from my early days at BYU (Dr. Gabriel Tabor,'70-'71) and followed many favorite professors over the years. Drs. Skousen, Madsen and Nibley have offered much to the scholarly world; but not all of their contributions have been accepted by outside academics either.

    There are more similarities between the teachings of Mohammed and Joseph Smith than there are between Mohammed and Jesus Christ. I would really enjoy an academic piece from Dr. Daniel on those. How would you answer honest critics who use Biblical proof-tests from 2 Cor.11:1-15 and Gal.1:6-12? These are very compelling and offer a Biblical answer as a possibility.

    Thank you for scholarly articles for those of us still stuck in the fascinating minutia of apologetics and the ddefense of our faith.

  • KD Lewis Provo, UT
    May 19, 2012 2:15 p.m.


    Faith does not exist independent of evidence, in fact it is based upon evidence. One would not believe in the words of Christ if following them did not bring some sort of benefit. Since benefit does come from following the words of Christ and in the ways that Christ says that benefit will come then in faith one can believe he was in fact what he claimed to be: the Son of God.

    While one might try to discredit that belief and label it as irrational and find evidence to support said claim doesn't mean that Christian belief isn't true. To cite supposed evidence that Christianity was fabricated doesn't mean that further evidence won't come up that actually shows Christianity is what it claims to be. Just as a lack of evidence of God now doesn't bar more evidence coming in the future. Meanwhile, people still enjoy the benefits of that belief without being enslaved to what is currently "proven". To say that truth is only what we can currently observe is not only illogical but also creates its own barrier to future knowledge.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    May 18, 2012 3:14 p.m.

    Even today, we see many examples of seedling historicized mythologies: beliefs of urban legends which started as pure fiction or hoaxes; propaganda spread by politicians which stem from fiction but believed by their constituents. Christianity depends on establishing a historical Jesus and it will defend, at all costs, even the most unreliable sources. The faithful want to believe in Jesus, and belief alone can create intellectual barriers. Historical review has yet to achieve the reliability of scientific investigation. Whereas beliefs can live comfortably without evidence at all, facts depend on evidence. Did early Christians copy (or steal) the other ideas from other cultures directly into their own faith? Not necessarily. They may have gotten many of their beliefs through the combining of different (often contradictory) beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. So whether the first Christians borrowed or independently came up with a savior story makes no difference whatsoever. The point here only aims to illustrate that Christians did not originate the savior story. The early historical documents can prove nothing about an actual Jesus but they do show an evolution of belief derived from varied and diverse concepts of Christianity, which Mr_Peterson conveniently ignores.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 18, 2012 11:59 a.m.


    I'm not sure Jesus offers any more of a model for human behavior than does Superman. Even if Jesus as the divine Son of God is a reality, little of what he did, I can follow. I suppose some of his teachings offer a little more practical advice, but most of the "good" that Jesus went about doing, was the kind of thing you need more than a good heart to achieve. How do we heal the sick, or feed the multitudes, or cast out devils (if you believe that sort of thing), etc??

  • jttheawesome Scranton, PA
    May 18, 2012 10:37 a.m.

    SKEPTIC: I fully accept the idea of free will (or agency, as some call it) And you are in general correct about organized religion being toxic - but not completely so.I would could attention to the enormous good that has come about through world-wide mission organizations, particularly Christian ones. Much of the advances on disease have come about because of Christian missionary doctors and nurses who willing gave up lucrative careers in domestic practice to perform medical work in very poor conditions for little or no pay. Slavery has largely disappeared from the world solely because of Christian activists over the past several centuries. Schools are being set up, homes built, and fresh water supplied due to Christian organizations. Now, in regard to the idea of a "fantasy character," it goes without saying that Jesus Christ was a living historical human being. There are plenty of Biblical and extra-biblical records for His existence. Jesus, who is indeed God incarnate, has set the gold standard for what is or is not good. Without this standard, good and bad is determined on a case by case basis; one person's good is another person's bad. Just food for thought....

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    May 18, 2012 9:10 a.m.

    RE: jttheawesome:
    Well said. But, one question; while Jesus is in most cases a good model for man's behavior, is it necessary to have a fantasy character to embrace to be a good human being. Don’t humans in general have and innate charter of good and bad to make choices. All other animals do. Can't humans be good and do right just for goodness sake. Do they have to be divided and destructive in fighting over whos god is god, etc. Organized religion is poison to man.

  • jttheawesome Scranton, PA
    May 18, 2012 8:41 a.m.

    One can hardly compare biological evolution to religious evolution; it's like comparing apples and elephants.I would agree that in all the written history of mankind, religion in general, of any kind, has been an abysmal failure.The atrocities done in the name of one or the other religion are nefarious and unspeakable, and unfortunately, Christianity is ranked amongst these religions. However, Christ-followers should be looking at Christ, not the man-made religions set up in His name. Being a Christian is all about a relationship with Jesus, not a religion or form of worship which dishonors all He taught and stood for. The comparability of religions - the good the bad, and the ugly - is of Satanic origin. The solution is to begin focusing on the amazing commonalities we all have, and allow the light of Christ to shine from many candles. And, no, I'm not espousing Universalism, but I am saying that if we take our eyes off ourselves and our own narrow view of things, and adopt a Biblical worldview, many differences can be dissolved and things in common brought into focus.

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    May 18, 2012 6:56 a.m.

    re: filovirus 11:23 p.m. May 17, 2012

    So you obviously did not catch the word play?

    Bottom line; if religions evolve I guess that means that Evolution is valid?

  • filovirus Salem, OR
    May 17, 2012 11:23 p.m.

    @ Wally West

    "Religions evolve. Really?"

    Absolutely. Organized religions do evolve. What stays constant are God, his doctrine, and the facts (ie. Jesus born of a virgin).

    In the Old Testament, God required animal sacrifice and the ten commandments, among other things. During Christ's ministry he expounded the ten commandment in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). He also called apostles, 70s, etc. After his ascension he had the gospel go to the gentiles.

    In the BOM, organized religion didn't even start until Alma the Elder formed seven churches in Zarahemla. Before that, the organization the the religion was more fluid.

    Today, the LDS church is very structured. It needed to evolve to be able to accommodate the large number of members, a difficulty not known during and before Christ's time.

  • Jeanie b. Orem, UT
    May 17, 2012 9:46 p.m.

    An excellent book on this subject is The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton. C. S. Lewis reportedly said that besides the scriptures this was the book that influenced him the most to become a Christian.

    According to Chesterton, Christianity is the only religion that claims to have had its God walk and live among us - as one of us.

    While it can be a heavy book to plow through, his thoughts and reasoning about Christianity being a unique religion - and not a spin-off or an out growth or even remotely a parallel of any other philosophy or mythology is fascinating.

  • gcrobmd GADSDEN, AL
    May 17, 2012 7:54 p.m.

    Hugh Nibley gives an interesting comparison between Joseph Smith and Muhammad in his book, The World and the Prophets, chapter 3.

    Of course there are similarities in doctrine between these stories: the light of Christ suggests eternal truths for all men and women. And the story of Christ began at the foundation of the world.

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    May 17, 2012 7:18 p.m.

    @ filovirus 6:52 p.m. May 17, 2012

    Religions evolve. Really?

  • filovirus Salem, OR
    May 17, 2012 6:52 p.m.

    Just because something is parallel does not mean that one is derived from the other. Take for example a butterfly and a bird. Both have wings and can fly. Does this mean one copied the other. No, their wing structures are totally different and the evolution of both happened separately.

    The same can be said of religions. Although many are similar in nature and in some principles, it doesn't necessarily mean one is based on the other. You will find many parallels between new world religions and old world religions than evolved independently from each other.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    May 17, 2012 6:32 p.m.

    Re; Islam has never taught that Muhammad was divine, nor even a son of God. "God does not beget," says Qur'an 112:3, "nor is he begotten."

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life(John 3:16)

    Anthanasian creed: one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.

    Only-begotten(monogenēs,3439 )a. single of its kind, only used of only sons or daughters (viewed in relation to their parents)
    b) used of Christ, denotes the only begotten son of God. The word “begotten” does not imply a beginning of His Sonship. It suggests a relationship, but it must be separated from generation as related to man.

    God begets God, man begets man: God creates man. C.S. Lewis

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    May 17, 2012 6:31 p.m.

    Per Mormoncowboy & Redshirt1701

    Unless I'm chronologically off, Ancient Egyptian religion came before Christianity. Could it be that Mary/Jesus is a Isis/Horus redo?

    Mithra too predates Jesus. Again who is copying who?

    Could it be as simple as; Good stories never die and History loves to repeat itself?

  • sharrona layton, UT
    May 17, 2012 2:43 p.m.

    RE: Verdad, Peterson's a reasonably knowledgeable Mormon and has written a biography of Muhammad, so I suspect that he could probably write a column comparing Joseph Smith and Muhammad. Skeptic, why don't you lay out a list of the parallels that you see?

    “I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large number of the majority have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter Nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I.” Joseph Smith(DHC v.6 pp. 408,409)

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    May 17, 2012 1:13 p.m.

    How about this, could it be that the reason why you see the parallels is because they are all based on the same core knowledge that was corrupted at some point in history.

    As the Bible points out, most of the tribes of Israel were scattered. Now, if they had the prophesies of Isiah, they would know all about Christ's virgin birth, and his eventual death. If that basic truth was lost to apostacy, isn't it possible that the local cultures adopted some of the story into their own religious beliefs. This isn't that far from a plausible explaination because as the OT describes, the Jews often adopted elements of worship from the neighboring gentiles. Granted, they often had to be punished to get them to return to God's truth.

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    May 17, 2012 12:21 p.m.

    Peterson's a reasonably knowledgeable Mormon and has written a biography of Muhammad, so I suspect that he could probably write a column comparing Joseph Smith and Muhammad. Skeptic, why don't you lay out a list of the parallels that you see?

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 17, 2012 12:00 p.m.

    No, I think Peterson is correct. In the broader atheist community that concerned with far more than just Mormonism, the critique that the Christ narrative exists repeatedly in history is quite prolific, and includes correllary's in Islam. It should be noted that refuting the Islam parallels are probably the weakest, simply because the Christian era preceeded Islam. However, I am not personally very familiar with the actual histories of those traditions which preceed Christianity, so I couldn't offer whether those traditions are valid corellary's.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    May 17, 2012 9:11 a.m.

    I seems Mr. Peterson is throwing the readers a curve ball. The comparison of parallels is not between Muhammad and Jesus; but, between Muhammad and Joseph Smith.