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Mormonism and Religion

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Lindin
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I have recently received notice that my defenses have been overly audacious in addition to being against forum rules. In interest of maintaining excellent relations with a group of people that I still have a great deal in common with, I would like to respectfully end my participation in this thread, as I do not feel I would be able to continue and maintain a decorum.

Also, I have concluded that my attempt to defend the LDS church in this thread, though dealing specifically with said church, was misguided, and perhaps even improper.

I will however continue to post in areas of the forum that are less... perhaps confrontational for me. I still love this community and am very excited about sharing information with all of you.

Please do not construe this as a failure to further explain my position, as you must suppose that such a defense would be impossible to carry out entirely. I merely wish to obey the wishes of the community's moderators (and thus the community) and stop picking fights in your own house. This also was unintentional, though it should have been obvious to me. It was not.

Edit: I would still very much enjoy a discussion of LDS epistemology, ethics and to a lesser degree, metaphysics and politics via PM's and E-mails should any wish to pursue one.

Edited by Matthew J
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Such as?

I have a quick question in regards to the issue of cults being applicable to all religions. Leonard Peikoff made a distinction between what he referred to as "truly primative, 100% irrational religion" versus "advanced theology" in The Ominous Paralles (I was paraphrasing, I can't remember if he used those exact terms). Was he making that distinction because of the level of reason that is used in Theology (an example being Thomism) versus the 100% faith alone fundamentalism of various Christian sects. under the leadership of ones like Pat Robertson? And if this is the case, how would this affect the Objectivist view of the application of the cult to various philosophers and theologians who mix reason into conceptualizations of a God?

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I use a "scale" from "primitive religion" to "advanced theology" along which one can place religious people. I place a person on this scale based on how literally he takes his religion. On the "primitive" side of the scale, I place those who believe that a story like Zeus compelling Cronus to regurgitate five children, or a story like Adam and Eve and fruit, actually happened. To the extent that people believe that these events actually happened, I place them on the "primitive" end of the scale. At the other end are those who consider these stories to be allegorical.

This scale is an epistemological one. One could also an ethical scale. Rather than judging the nature of the person's belief, one would judge the outcomes and place them on this scale accordingly: do they want to kill non-believers? do they want to practice self-mutilation? and so on.

I think the epistemological scale is the more fundamental one. The ethical one might be more immediately important if you're the non-believer being hounded down.

A warning though, at the "advanced theology" end of the scale is an elevator door. Pressing the "down" button takes you to subjectivist/nihilist hell; pressing the "up" button takes you to heaven. And that's my allegorical yarn :o

Edited by softwareNerd
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All religions are cults. They are just cults on a much wider scale.

That's not true. According to most cult experts, a cult is a species of religion characterized by deceptive recruitment methods, brainwashing, forceful interference in the lives of its members, and (in some cases) complete separation from society.

As far as I know (and I've researched Scientology a lot), Scientology fits the bill on all four counts, so Moose was right on target.

Edited by dondigitalia
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  • 3 weeks later...

I always thought that having an angel called Moroni was really a big hint and wink and nod to the non-Mormons about how silly the while thing is.

I mean, think if Joseph Smith (was that the guy's name) was just a big huckster, wanted to bang like 5 women at once and take people's money, so he made up a religion, and to poke fun at the shills he called the angel Moroni, and holy crap they followed him to Utah!

Once you're started with such a story, and you've got a bunch of wives and kids, you can't give it up, can you? So he kept a-spinnin his yarns, and they got more and more outlandish, and the followers all believed every word, and soon their knickers were blessed. LOL!

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That's not true. According to most cult experts, a cult is a species of religion characterized by deceptive recruitment methods, brainwashing, forceful interference in the lives of its members, and (in some cases) complete separation from society.

As far as I know (and I've researched Scientology a lot), Scientology fits the bill on all four counts, so Moose was right on target.

Does that apply to Christianity in countries where it is a tiny minority? How about converted Muslims in the US?

I have a hard time conceptualizing where the line between a cult and a non-cult religion is. Both are based on lies. And fundy Christians are often quite pressuring, like any cult. I'm not sure.

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I always thought that having an angel called Moroni was really a big hint and wink and nod to the non-Mormons about how silly the while thing is.
In the book of Alma there is a man named Moron. So really, that would be a better laughup than Moroni would, if the smear made any logical sense, which it doesn't. I do not know the etymological roots of the word Moron, but I assure you that it wasnt any kind of insult (or in fact a word at all) for the people whose history is purportedly included in the book of Mormon. In fact, if Joseph Smith were intending to make it up and pass it off as truth, he would likely have refrained from giving them such names. Incidentally, at 17 he managed to "make up" over 400 names that are historically consistent, a feat that alone would have taken months or years of research, of which he had none. Must've been a really smart kid that Joseph.

I mean, think if Joseph Smith (was that the guy's name) was just a big huckster, wanted to bang like 5 women at once and take people's money, so he made up a religion, and to poke fun at the shills he called the angel Moroni, and holy crap they followed him to Utah!

Joseph Smith died long before the Latter Day Saints went to Utah. Thats simple history. Also, he was considered a shrewd businessman and had no desire to take other people's money, and you will find no first hand account of his character to the contrary. To attempt to discuss polygamy on this forum would require an accepted premises that does not exist, so I will not attempt it.

As for the videos, I actually found, to my surprise, that there was very little misrepresentation done. The points I would especially like to set straight involve the translation of the plates. Of course, the sitting on the floor with a hat was added for comical effect. Also, the first 116 pages of the manuscript were indeed lost by Martin Harris, though not exactly in the same way portrayed in the cartoon. Whether they were hidden, stolen, or destroyed is unkown or unimportant. Joseph did not retranslate those 116 pages (known as the book of Lehi) because If he did, the origional manuscript would be produced with changes so as to appear that Joseph Smith was inconsistent. To avoid this, the 116 pages remained lost.

Again, I could continue to defend certain points in history, but I expect it would be fruitless and needlessly contrary. I could not let these few points go Unfixed however. Upon serious study, you will find nothing rediculous about the life of Joseph Smith. Thank you.

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As for the videos, I actually found, to my surprise, that there was very little misrepresentation done.

Actually, according to South Park, Mormons are right ;) , here's a transcript from another funny episode:

(outside the gates of Hell)

Hell Orientation Speaker: Hello, newcomers, and welcome. Can everybody hear me? (taps the mic a few times) Hello? Can everybuh-? Okay. (the crowd quiets down) Uh, I'm the hell director. Uh, it looks like we have about 8,615 of you newbies today, and for those of you who are a little confused, uh, you are dead, and this is hell, so, abandon all hope and uh... yada yada yada... Uh, we are now going to start the orientation process, which will last about-

Man 3: Hey, wait a minute, I shouldn't be here. I was a totally strict and devout Protestant! I thought we went to heaven!

Hell Director: Yes, well I'm afraid you were wrong.

Man 4: I was a practicing Jehovah's Witness.

Hell director: Uh, you picked the wrong religion as well.

Man 5: Well, who was right? Who gets into heaven?

Hell Director: I'm afraid it was the Mormons. Yes, the Mormons were the correct answer.

Crowd: (disappointed) Awww.

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Okay, and now for today's topic. Momonism or bust. right.. Southpark was oversimplistic in the same way that many are oversimplistic. Mormonism is one of the only religions that does Not condemn a person to hell if they die unbaptized into our church. Firstly, I'd like to establish what "heaven" is, if we care to use such a term. When properly sealed to your spouse on earth in a temple, the LDS faith teaches that they will remain sealed after the resurection. In this way, they will be the only ones able to attain exaltation because exaltation requires procreation, an ability only available to someone who has someone to procreate With. Exaltation, or "heaven" thus requires you to have a spouse sealed in a temple (and yes an LDS temple, as no other church has or claims to have the power and authority to act in gods name). This necesarily requries you to have been baptized in order to meet the demands of justice. God is perfectly just and cannot fake reality any more than you or I can. God, in the LDS faith, Is perfectly consistent with the axioms of Existence, consciousness, and identity, as well as the primacy of existence. He cannot defy them, for then he would cease to be a perfect being, and thus cease to be at all. This paradox is not even worth considering for the impossibility of Such an entity acting in contradiction to his nature. Once a person is baptized, the demands of justice can be met through Jesus Christ by means of a covenant or contract made with the person being baptized, which i will not detail here. this was merely to establish how baptism is necesary to entering the temple or acheiving exaltation.

So, in this sense, yes, we believe you must have been baptized and sealed by the power and authority of God which only the LDS faith has, and in that sense you "must be a mormon" to "go to heaven" to be grossly simplistic. However, if you die without having made these covenants, we do not condemn you to hell like many churches do, or as the world believes we do. We have another practice that is often a target of ridicule which is posthumous baptism. We take teenagers, baptise them in the Name of the dead, and the dead have the opportunity to accept or deny the covenant thereby offered to them. If they do so, they will have opportunity to find a spouse after teh ressurection and acheive exaltation.

Finally, the depiction of hell as a place of fire, brimstone, and satan being a dude with horns and a tail is completely inaccurate, is a tool of entertainment for southpark, and should not be attributed to the LDS church. Damnation literally means, a halting of progression. That is all.

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Matthew J, I'm not sure why you are spending the effort to detail the finer points of Mormonism and to discuss the attributes of its God. You can claim all you want about this alleged God, about whether he is consistent with certain philosophical axioms etc, but this all evades a simple fact: you have not given a single reason or single shred of evidence for the existence of this God. We can talk about chairs, atoms, governments, books, and movies because these things exist. We cannot talk about God, because it doesn't.

When it comes to religion, there is only ONE question to be asked - What is this God you speak of? Until you answer this (i.e. offer proof to our faculties of reason), efforts to explain whether or not South Park gets the story right are beyond superfluous.

Edited by Spano
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Spano,

I was not attempting to prove the existence of God. I do not feel it would be appropriate to try to do so on this forum. I was merely defending my beliefs as they were being misrepresented, and did not wish these fallacies applied to myself. Thank you for your forthcoming answer however. I shall only offer one small piece of evidence that will likely mean nothing, as this thread has been devoted to debunking it: If the book of Mormon is true and was translated by the boy Joseph Smith, that would be evidence to the rational mind that God exists.

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