Sunday, April 27, 2008

List of Questions to ask Mormon Leaders

These aren't my questions, but were prepared by others on . Yet, I thought they are so great, I thought I'd share them here. Now, as many of you know I was an amateur apologist for Mormonism before I discovered Mormonism wasn't true, so I know a good many apologetic responses to many of these questions. However, I think these questions bring up a lot of the significant issues and when one mentally adds up the probability that all of the apologetic excuses one right after the other one begins to see that the most likely explanation is that Mormonism is just not true.

Questions by wintersfootsteps

Do you consider it lying when someone does not tell you the complete story and purposefully leaves out certain details?

Why was I taught an inaccurate version of events from church leaders regarding the first vision and translation of the Book of Mormon?

Why was I not taught about Joseph Smith's past regarding treasure seeking with the same seer stone used in the translation of the Book of Mormon?

Can you understand that when people realize the church didn't share all the facts regarding this matter it makes the church seem as if it is covering something up?

Now that many people have admitted that Joseph Smith used a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon, as well as treasure seeking facts, why don't they teach and promote the accurate version of events?

Why does the church use tools, like paintings, that depict the translation of the Book of Mormon in a false manner to teach children and investigators?

Why not show paintings depicting the actual events of the translation of the Book of Mormon with Joseph Smith using a seer stone in a top hat?

Does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believe the Book of Abraham to be scripture?

Why doesn't the church tell the complete and full story regarding the Book of Abraham?

Why did Joseph Smith translate the Egyptian papyri and claim it as scripture when many Egyptologists have studied the papyri and translate them to common funerary texts?

Do you find it troubling that a "Prophet of God" could get this wrong?

Do you understand why so many people see this as a giant red flag in regards to being able to trust Joseph Smith and his translating abilities?

Why did Joseph Smith believe the Kinderhook Plates were record from God and make plans to translate them?

Why don't most Mormons know about the situation regarding the Kinderhook Plates?

If Joseph Smith did nothing wrong, why not talk about it?

Why does the Mormon Church teach that polygamy will be practiced in heaven?

Why would it even be necessary to be married in heaven?

Why would God or an angel of God command Joseph Smith to practice polygamy?

If an angel of God commanded Joseph Smith to practice polygamy, why was it necessary for him to keep it secret from his own wife?

How could a "Prophet of God" deceive his own wife?

Isn't lying to your wife breaking a commandment?

Why would Joseph Smith practice polygamy even though the 12th article of faith clearly states: We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. Even though polygamy was never legal?

If the current prophet were to receive revelation that polygamy was again necessary, would you or male family members take on other wives?

What if your own wife were against the idea of taking on other wives? Would you do it anyway?

Why were 33 of the know women sealed to Joseph Smith in the temple already married to living men?

Why would a "Prophet of God" think it to be a good idea to take on two wives (Helen Mar Kimball and Nancy Winchester) when they were only 14 years old at the time?

Do you know it was uncommon for 14 year olds to be married, even in that time period?

Why did the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants (1835) include a section denying the practice of polygamy?

Why would it be necessary to lie about polygamy being practiced by Mormons if it was truly needed to reach the celestial kingdom?

Can you understand why it is so hard to trust an organization that was clearly being deceitful?

Why would God command people to break the law and then ask them to lie about it?

If polygamy was truly essential to reach the celestial kingdom, why was the practice stopped?

Why has the church changed it's position on gospel doctrine so many times?

Why did Brigham Young repeatedly teach that Adam was God the Father?

Why do most Mormons who talk to me about this issue believe it's either a mistake or something that was taken out of context?

Brigham Young clearly believed and taught that Adam was indeed God the Father. He told people he had revelation on the subject. Why do Mormon Apologists deny this?

Since the church has officially distanced itself from the comments about the Adam/God theory, how do you know what will be true doctrine and what will not?

Bruce R. McConkie claimed that Brigham Young's views about the Adam/God theory were "out of harmony with the gospel," He also bluntly stated, "...anyone who received the temple endowments and who yet believe the Adam/God theory does not deserve to be saved." (BYU devotional 6/1/1980). Does the church believe certain types of people shouldn't be saved?

If anyone who received the temple endowments and still believed the Adam/God theory didn't deserve to be saved, where does that leave Brigham Young?

One prophet teaches that Adam is God, something "which God revealed to him" as well as that his teachings are scripture. When then have another prophet who condemns the doctrine that Adam is God. Finally, we have an apostle who feels that the prophets can be an unreliable source of information. Therefore, he says, we should rely on the scriptures-- which themselves originate from prophets and apostles. How are we supposed to know who to believe and when?

Do you understand how that makes anything hard to believe?

When does one know to believe the prophets and apostles? It seems that it just depends on whom and when?

How can one believe the famous saying, "The prophet will never lead you astray" after Brigham Young led people astray?

Don't you think God would have designed a clearer system than this for receiving his divine messages?

Why has the temple endowment ceremony been changed if it came directly from God Himself?

Why were death oaths once used in the temple ceremony?

Why was it that people of color could not hold the priesthood until 1978?

Why would God not want all of his children to be treated fairly?

Why would God allow certain kinds of people the priesthood and not others?

Many people have mentioned that the Church was about to lose it's tax-exempt status and that is the only reason the prophet suddenly received revelation to allow men of color to hold the priesthood. What is the official reason for the change of heart?

Do you understand why its hard to believe this decision was made purely from revelation?

Why were missionaries taught not to baptize people of color on their missions before 1978?

Do you understand why many people will always consider the Mormon Church to be a racist organization due to the comments and actions of previous prophets and apostles?

Why was it taught that people who were born with dark skin were being punished in this life because of their actions in the pre-existence?

Do you understand why it is extremely offensive to people to judge their character because of your beliefs about them in the pre-existence? How can you judge someone on something that you have no personal recollection of?

Why was it taught that dark skin would turn lighter and more "delightsome" once they learned and accepted the gospel?

Now that we know for certain that skin color has nothing to do with any curse, how can we believe anything else these specific apostles and prophets said? How can we trust anyone who was so horribly and inhumanely wrong?

Why has the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints never officially apologized to people of color for this mistreatment?

Do you feel that the Church should apologize for their mistreatment of African-Americans and other races after the harm and hurt it caused many of them?

In the past it was taught that birth control was "wickedness" (Joseph Fielding Smith) and that if you used birth control "destruction was inevitable" (Joseph Fielding Smith). If these words came from a prophet, why do we now believe different things?

Yet another prophet has it wrong, how can we trust the things they say given this track record?

If temple garments were so important, why has the design for the garments changed over time?

Why wasn't Joseph Smith wearing his temple garments when he was killed?

Originally, the Word of Wisdom asked members not to have alcohol, tobacco, hot drinks, the use of wine only with communion, and meat only in the winter. How did that evolve into the no coffee/tea/alcohol/tobacco Word of Wisdom we have today?

If the word of Wisdom is so important, why did Joseph Smith have alcohol with him in Carthage Jail? It was not intended for communion. (History of the Church, vol. 7 p. 101)

If the word of wisdom was intended to teach Mormons not to have hot drinks, why is drinking hot chocolate allowed but not coffee? Is it the caffeine? If caffeine is the issue, why do many Mormons drink Mountain Dew or other caffeinated soft drinks?

Why were many of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon later quoted as saying that they saw the golden plates through "the eyes of faith?"
If church leaders think this isn't an issue, why isn't it discussed openly and honestly?

Why isn't this information shared with investigators?

Don't you feel that it is important to be honest with people that are deciding if the Mormon Church is for them?

Shouldn't everything be out in the open before someone is baptized? Isn't that fair and moral?

Why are items mentioned in the Book of Mormon not in the Americas at the time (Pre-Colombian)? None of these items have been discovered or verified in any ancient American archeological expedition or historical investigation in the last 200 years?

Silk (Alma 1:29)
Chariots (Alma 18:9)
Seven Day Week (Mosiah 13:18)
Cimeters (old world two-handed steel blade) (Mosiah 9:16 and other verses)
Land kept from the knowledge of "Other Nations" (2 Nephi 1:18)
Bellows (1 Nephi 17:11)
Brass and Iron (2 Nephi 5:15)
Breast plates and Copper (Mosiah 8:10)
Gold and Silver Currency (Alma 11)
Silver (Jarom 1:18)
Steel Swords (Esther 7:9, 2 Nephi 5:14)
Cattle, oxen, donkeys, horses, goats, and wild goats (1 Nephi 18:25)
Sheep, Swine, and elephants (Esther 7:9 and 2 Nephi 5:14)
Plow agriculture such as barley (Alma 11:7) and wheat (Mosiah 9:9)
Absence of foods known to ancient America such as chocolate, lima beans, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, etc.

Do you understand why its so hard for people to believe the Book of Mormon as true historical record with all of these problems?

Why are women not allowed to hold the priesthood?

If the color of skin (to hold the priesthood) is no longer an issue, why is gender an issue?

Why does gender determine so much in the Mormon Church?

Why are women basically groomed from a young age (I speak from experience) to be wives and mothers?

What happens when a Mormon woman decides she doesn't want to be a wife or mother and instead focus on a career or education?

What would you say to a young woman who didn't want to be a wife and mother?

How does anyone know what God wants for someone else?

Why are women only allowed to occupy subordinate roles to make priesthood holders?

If women are only allowed to serve under male priesthood roles, how is there any equality?

Why are women who raise their voices about this inequality receive disciplinary action?

Maxine Hanks, excommunicated, editor of "Woman and Authority: Reemerging Mormon Fundamentalism."
Deborah Lake, excommunicated, author of "Secret Ceremonies."
Lavina Fielding Anderson, excommunicated, collected stories of people (mainly women) who have been abused by the Mormon system. Edited the book, "Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective."

Is it the Church's position to say that one person has more power, control, and responsibility based on gender?

Why are women supposed to tell their husbands their temple names, but men are told to keep their temple name from their wives?

What is the purpose of the temple name?

Why must we have a new/different name in heaven?

Shouldn't God know who we are without secret handshakes and secret names?

Do you understand why many feel that women are second class citizens in the church?

Why was I told multiple times that my life wouldn't be as fulfilling if I didn't marry a return missionary and raise my kids in the church?

How would anyone know what would make my life, and others, more fulfilling?

Does the church know what will and will not be fulfilling to women?

Why can't a women bless her own child?

Why is it that women don't get to make any decisions about church wealth?

Do you think its fair and equal to not give women equal say in how this money is spent?

Can you understand that this inequality is an extremely valid reason to leave the church?

the poster amusick added these:

Why is the church so patriarchal, when it is clear that patriarchal societies foster abuse of women and children? Why do women have no clear voice in the church, especially in the upper echelons? Why do church courts have no female representatives in them, even when females are being judged?

Why did the church actively oppose the ERA and the marriage amendment, when it is supposed to not be a political institution, and becoming politically involved could jeopardize its tax exempt status? Why did it try to cover up this opposition?

What about the Greek Psaltery?

Why after 200 years is there still no archaeological record of any BOM peoples? Why is the genetic evidence so compellingly against the BOM peoples being descended from Israelite peoples?

Why is the temple ceremony so close to the masonic ceremonies JS participated in prior to his starting up temple ceremonies? And why have they been changed so much?

Why are women still subjugated in the temple ceremony? They have to veil, and be responsible to their husbands, not to the Lord.

Why does the church talk about JS so much, and neglects Jesus Christ so much (count the references to JS in any General Conference, and compare them with references to Jesus Christ)?

Why does the church feel it is acceptable to Christ's teachings to spend $2B on a mall, when so many of its own members are unable to feed their families?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Offense-Taking Scale

I thought some might find it enjoyable or informative to take the Offense-Taking Scale, which I developed and validated a few years ago for my master's thesis. If you are interested in reading more about this scale, you can find it here (I am first author).

Indicate the extent to which you are in agreement with each item by putting one number next to the item.

6 = Agree strongly

5 = Agree somewhat

4 = Agree slightly

3 = Disagree slightly

2 = Disagree somewhat

1 = Disagree strongly

____ 1. After someone has offended me, I usually think about the offense frequently.

____ 2. It takes something fairly severe to offend me.

____ 3. When I become offended, it is very difficult for me to concentrate.

____ 4. Once someone has wronged me, I stay offended for a while.

____ 5. It does not take much to make me mad.

____ 6. People rarely anger me.

____ 7. I usually do not stay angry very long.

____ 8. I lose my patience easily.

____ 9. I am relatively easy-going.

____ 10. The rest of my day is not ruined when I get offended.

____ 11. My friends often tell me I over-react to perceived slights.

____ 12. I get aggravated often.

____ 13. When I get frustrated, it does not take me long to calm down.

____ 14. I may become irritated at the slightest thing.

____ 15. There are people who owe me an apology.

____ 16. I recall every time individuals have wronged me in the past.

Scoring: The total scale score is found by reverse scoring items 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, and 13, then summing the scores with the other items. The Sensitivity subscale is formed by adding items 5, 8, 11, 12, and 14, with the reverse score of items 2, 6, and 9. The Severity subscale is formed by adding items 1, 3, 4, 15, and 16, with the reverse score of items 7, 10, and 13. The average score for the total scale is 45, for the sensitivity subscale 20, for the severity subscale 25.

The Sensitivity Subscale reflects both the frequency with which one takes offense and the tolerance one has for offense stimuli. The Severity Subscale, on the other hand, measures the magnitude of disruption of the offended state upon the person’s functioning, the temporal duration of the offended state, and the endorsement of entitlement cognitions.

RadioLab’s “Who Am I?”

I just love the program on NPR called RadioLab. It is a very entertaining and thought provoking science show. Today's episode was all about the mind and one's sense of self. If you are even mildly interested, take a listen and you will not regret it. If you like this episode, listen to some more.

Who Am I?

The fallacy of the test “Try it. If it works, it is true”

So many religionists believe that if they try something and it works then it denotes that something is true. Buddhists lean heavily on it. Mormons do too, as do New Agers.

Scientific research methods are designed to help scientists not be fooled by that fallacy. Let's discuss a few reasons why something might not be true, even when we try something and we get the desired outcome.

First, correlation cannot establish causation. For example, let's say these two events are correlated (i.e., they both occur in relative proximity), praying to find keys and finding the keys. Let's say that this has happened on a number of occasions. We cannot infer based solely on correlation that the praying caused us to find the keys. We might find the keys everytime whether or not we pray. Certainly there are people who don't pray (like me) who lose keys and then find them. Or, it could be that some third variable also co-occurs with the first two events, such as thinking about where you might have left the keys or you might actually look for the keys everytime you pray for them and find them. This third variable might actually be responsible for the event of finding the keys. And it could be that some other variable is responsible for causing both the praying and the finding of the keys. I can't think of one for this example, but there could be other examples in which this is the case.

Personal "tests" of a principle using do not include an adequate control group. In other words one condition in which you tried the procedure and one in which you did not. It is not enough to try each condition only once or twice as you would be taking advantage of chance. The relationship between procedure and outcome across both conditions needs to happen often enough to show that the relationship is not likely due to chance. And one needs to be on guard to make sure that you are not sabatoging the experiment by making the results what you want them to be (i.e., trying harder in the condition you want to succeed). Scientists prefer to use large sample sizes in which the subjects are unaware of the hypothesis to increase the reliability of the results.

Also, humans are very prone to remember the hits and forget the misses. For, example, they remember when their dreams have some things in common with future events, but forget all the things their dreams got wrong.

Furthermore, even if what we are doing does work, we may take the wrong lesson from it. For example, it may be that prayer actually does help us find our keys, but not due to supernatural influence but because prayer calms our minds and our calm minds are able to remember better where we left the keys. Native peoples might believe their tribal shaman has magical powers because everytime they have a headache, he gives them a special herb and their headache goes away. It might be that the herb is a natural (not supernatural) medicine or it might be that the shaman uses the persons belief to produce a placebo effect.

In summary, just because something works when you try it, it does not mean that you have established that the procedure causes the outcome, that you will get reliable results everytime you use the procedure, or that the implications that you take from the successful procedure are correct (i.e., praying works therefore there is a God, or snake oil cures broken bones, etc).

The whole idea of "this works, therefore it must be true" is how superstitions, lucky charms, and rituals like rain dances or human sacrifices are born. Some superstitions are harmless, but I am interested in discovering and understanding and teaching true causal relationships. It bugs me when people try to persuade others that something is true because it worked for them when their results may have nothing to do with what they so confidently teach.

I have no problem with people sharing with others what has worked for them in the hopes that maybe it might work for others as well. I would just caution against presupposing a causal relationship where none has been established and especially against using your fortunate results to promote some supposed truth that is in no way implied from your psuedoexperiment (i.e., that god exists because whenever you pray to him you find your car keys; or, that Mormonism is true because you often feel a good feeling when you read the Book of Mormon, etc).

Was Jesus the Jewish Messiah?

The following is the most even handed summary of the arguments, although it is far from complete. I highly recommend not making a judgment based solely on the content of this post, but also read the material on the 8 links at the bottom of this post under the section "Sources and Further Reading". The following material is quoted from here.

The title "Christ," which was applied almost interchangeably with the name "Jesus" by Christians from the New Testament era onwards, comes from the Greek for "Messiah."

The Messiah is a Jewish hero-figure predicted by the Hebrew prophets to save the Jews and bring justice to the world.

Christians believe Jesus was and is this Messiah; Jews believe he is not and still await a future messiah. Presented below are basic outlines of the reasons given for both views.

Reasons for Jesus as Messiah (Christian Perspective)

Christian Argument
Jewish Counter-Argument
Jesus was born of a virgin. Matthew 1:22-23 fulfills Isaiah 7:14. "Nowhere does the Bible predict that the Messiah will be born to a virgin. In fact, virgins never give birth anywhere in the Bible. This idea is to be found only in pagan mythology. To the Jewish mind, the very idea that G-d would plant a seed in a woman is unnecessary and unnatural." (5, p.31)

"The Hebrew term in Isaiah “almah” which means a “young woman” is mistranslated as “virgin.” Honest Christian scholars now acknowledge that this is “a pious fraud” and now (see the new Protestant “Revised Standard Version” of the Bible) translate the word correctly." (5, p.33)
Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:4-6 fulfills Micah 5:2. Jesus was likely born in Nazareth - the Bethlehem story has no historical foundation.
Jesus was from the line of David. Luke 3 fulfills Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Ezekiel 34:23-24; II Sam. 7:14; I Chr. 17:11-14, 22:9-10, 28:4-6. A tribal line cannot be passed on through adoption, so Jesus cannot be "son of David" through Joseph. A tribal line also does not pass through the mother, and even if it did, Mary was not descended of David through Solomon. (6, p.2)
Jesus' side was pierced on the cross. John 19:33-37 fulfills Zechariah 12:10.
Jesus was the Suffering Servant. John 12:37-38; Acts 8:30-35; 1 Peter 2:21-25 fulfill Isaiah 52-53. Isaiah 52-53 is referring to the people of Israel, not to the Messiah.
Jesus was God. John 8:58 fulfills Isaiah 9:6. "Nowhere does our Bible say that the Messiah would be a god or G-d-like. The very idea that G-d would take on human form is repulsive to Jews because it contradicts our concept of G-d as being above and beyond the limitations of the human body and situation. Jews believe that G-d alone is to be worshiped, not a being who is His creation, be he angel, saint, or even the Messiah himself." (5, p. 31)

Reasons against Jesus as Messiah (Jewish Perspective)

Jewish Argument
Christian Counter-Argument
The true Messiah is to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem—but Jesus lived while the Temple was still standing. Jeremiah 33:18 Jesus will do this at the Second Coming.
The Messiah will reestablish Jewish religious law as the law of the land.
Jeremiah 33:15
Jesus will do this at the Second Coming.
The Messiah will save Israel." In the case of Jesus, the very opposite took place. Not long after his death, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, Jerusalem was laid to waste, and the Jews went into exile to begin a 1900 year long night of persecution, — largely at the hands of the followers of this self-styled Messiah!" (6) Jesus will do this at the Second Coming.
He will establish a government in Israel that will be the center of all world government, both for Jews and gentiles (Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:10; 42:1). Jesus will do this at the Second Coming.
The Messiah will return all exiles to their homeland. Isaiah 11:11-12
Jeremiah 23:8; 30:3
Hosea 3:4-5
Jesus will do this at the Second Coming.

Jewish response: The claim that Jesus will fulfill the Messianic prophesies when he returns does not give him any credibility for his "first" coming. The Bible never speaks about the Messiah returning after an initial appearance. The "second coming" theory is a desperate attempt to explain away Jesus’ failure. The Biblical passages which Christians are forced to regard as second coming don’t speak of someone returning, they have a "first coming" perspective. (6, p1)

Sources and Further Reading

  1. "How do we know that Jesus is the Messiah?"
  2. "What proof do you have that Jesus was the Messiah?" Jews for Jesus.
  3. "Evidence that Jesus Christ is the Messiah." Matthew McGee.
  4. "Is Jesus Both Messiah and God?" Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense, ch. 22, published online.
  5. The Real Messiah? A Jewish Response to Missionaries. PDF e-book published by Jews for Judaism.
  6. The Jewish Messiah. PDF brochure published by Jews for Judaism.
  7. Messiah Revealed.
  8. "Mosiach: The Messiah." Judaism 101.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

God cannot be both all-powerful and all-loving

My argument is this: If god were all-loving, he would want to save us from needless suffering. If he were all-powerful, he would be able to save us from needless suffering. If needless suffering exists, either god is not all-loving or not all-powerful or not either. Said another way, if needless suffering exists, then god cannot be both all-loving and all-powerful.

It is beyond dispute that suffering does exist. What is in question is whether this suffering is needless. The standard apologetic argument is that we are not in a position to know whether suffering is needless or not; god could have a purpose for our suffering that we may not be able to comprehend. So, let us suppose that god does have a purpose for our suffering - if we suffer it accomplishes some end. Is there another way to accomplish that same end without our suffering? If god is all-powerful, he could accomplish that end without our suffering; if one suggests that he cannot, then one admits that he is not all-powerful and my point is proven. However, if one sticks with the idea that god is all-powerful, then he could accomplish the whatever end our suffering would serve, without us suffering. So, if the same end can be accomplished without suffering, then all suffering is indeed needless. Since we do suffer, we suffer needlessly if god is all-powerful, and if we suffer needlessly, then god is not both all-loving and all-powerful.

Suffering exists.

If god is all-powerful, then all suffering is needless, because he could accomplish whatever purpose suffering serves without our actually having to experience suffering.

If god is all-loving, he would have compassion on us and want to save us from needless suffering.

If god is all-powerful, he has the ability to save us from needless suffering.

Since we needlessly suffer, he either lacks the will or the ability to save us from needless suffering.

If he lacks the will, he is not all-loving.

If he lacks the ability, he is not all-powerful.

Therefore, the existence of needless suffering stands as a testament that god cannot be both all-loving and all-powerful.

Here are some responses I got and my replies:

What if suffering isn't neccessary and God is loving and doesn't prevent it?

I have considered this and reasoned through it, but I am open to revisiting it again.

In what sort of a situation can we consider a god all-loving if he does not save us from unnecessary suffering and is capable of doing it? I am sincerely asking that question. I presently think it is impossible short of changing the definition of all-loving so much so that it no longer means all-loving.

If there were a reason for him not saving us from unnecessary suffering, then the suffering would not be unnecessary. But, if were all-powerful, he would be able to accomplish the "reason for allowing the suffering" without us actually having to suffer.

You, see every mental exercise I try, keeps coming back to the same conclusion. You would do me a great favor if you can find a hole in my reasoning. Think through what I quoted of what you wrote and show me how that would be possible.

Love, however, is a human emotion and as we all know, emotion does not obey the rules of logic and defies the constraints of a single definition. I would agree with the statement that a loving father would not want his children to have to endure any needless suffering, but this is my definition of loving. The easy answer here for the apologists is to simply state that we, as simple mortal beings, are incapable of understanding love on the same level as God and are thus not well positioned to impose our definition of love upon him.

It is true that I am using the human conception of love in its perfect form which we can only imagine. God cannot be both all-loving (the concept humans represent by the words all-loving) and all-powerful (again, what humans mean by those words). I have demonstrated that. Mine was a conceptual argument. Regardless of the human language, I was reasoning with the human constructs that are best represented in English with the words "all-loving" and "all-powerful".

You are positing that the teaching that "god is all-loving" is actually trying to convey something humans wouldn't normally think of when they read those words. That humans don't have the capacity to understand what that teaching is about. So, the meaning humans get from that statement is not correct. Love no longer implies the desire to allieviate the needless suffering of others. I ask what kind of love is that? It is not love at all, so why use the word. When the meaning conveyed by a word is not the meaning one is trying to convey then you would be misusing the word.

For example, the word "translate" conveys a certain idea to humans who speak English. Yet, to hear the apologists speak, they suppose Joseph meant something very different by that word than what your typical English-speaker means by it. I can show that Joseph did not "translate" (meaning the normal human understanding of the word) the Book of Abraham. But, I make no claims about whether or not he "translated" when one is intending some other meaning for the word.

Similarly, I have shown that god cannot be both all-loving and all-powerful if we are talking about the normal ideas people think of when they hear those words. I have made no claims of what the results of reasoning would be when using an entirely different construct, that supposedly humans can't even understand. So, are you claiming then that preachers and Bibles don't make the claim that god is all-loving as humans would understand that statement? If so, publize that, that no one has ever meant to convey the human idea that god is all-loving, that everytime they said "god is all-loving" they meant something different that humans can't even understand. For, pity sake, they would do better to speak in tongues, at least then their words would not be misleading.

Now, lest you think I am getting hung up on the English word all-loving, the Hebrew and Greek scriptures also teach that god is all-loving, in their own way. It is the concept that is conveyed that is important, not the specifics of the language itself. But, evidently the human concept of all-loving isn't applicable when applied to god no matter what the language. Words are used to convey meaning, if the meaning that one is trying to convey is not represented by the word, then don't use the word, or say that it is close, but you humans couldn't really understand.

So, in a nutshell, most humans think all-loving includes a desire to end needless suffering of loved ones. That is the kind of all-loving that I have shown god cannot be if he is also all-powerful. I have no position on any other kind of "all-loving god" that isn't all-loving according to human meanings of that word.

A loving parent lets their children make their own mistakes and learn from them.

Whatever it is we could learn from suffering (i.e., knowledge, wisdom, compassion, etc), an all-powerful god could give to us without our ever having to suffer. Can he not? If he is unable to, he is not all-powerful.

An all-powerful god could even implant memories and program our minds with all the "growth and development" we could gain from 1,000 years in an instant without us ever having to actually experience any pain. That makes all pain unnecessary.


1) We are eternal beings in a temporary human form. We chose our lives and knew what it entailed. Thus the suffering may be pointless, but something we wished to experience. A loving God stays out of it as it was our choice.

An all-powerful god controls all the variables. He can set up whatever rules for learning or growth or knowledge acquisition that he wants. He doesn't have to build a reality where suffering exists. Anything that he could accomplish with suffering, he could acomplish without suffering, so there was just no need to create or permit a reality to continue to exist that he did not create (if one wants to go there) a reality that has suffering.

If he had created a reality without suffering (all of which is needless), the option would not have been available for us to choose. We could still do whatever we want without being placed in a situation in which we could choose suffering. Choices are always constrained by what is available or possible; we can only choose among possibilities that exist in reality and an all-powerful god could create any kind of reality he wanted to. So, why would an all-loving god want to create a reality with suffering when it is completely unnecessary?

2) Free agency. God believes in our right of choice and interfering to remove the consequences of actions would in a way limit our free agency. These actions of course may not have been your own, or may be indirect.

An all-powerful god can control not only whether or not we are spared consequences, but can determine what the consequences will be. So, he could still allow us to choose and experience consequences, while making sure that none of the consequences include suffering.

3) Suffering is only bad in our current perspective. If life is eternal, that makes this life very short compared to the expanse of eternity. Perhaps a miniscule amount of suffering doesn't amount to much compared to the expanse of our own eventual experience and just doesn't warrant interference.

Needless suffering is needless suffering, regardless of whether it lasts only ten seconds or ten years. Ten seconds isn't very long when viewed from the perspective of a lifetime. Imagine me attacking your young child with a taser for no reason. She'll only feel it for a few seconds, which "doesn't amount to much compared to the expanse of her own eventual lifetime of experience". Does it just not warrant interference? It is purposeless suffering, don't you love your daughter enough to want to spare her those ten seconds of unnecessary pain?

If god really loves us, he knows we care about the pain we are in even if it seems small to him, he would want to spare us from needless suffering, even if it is only momentary.