Evidence, Subjective Proof, and Objective Proof

I have commonly been asked, in light of my defense of LDS doctrine, what proof I have that what I believe is true. Recently I have gone through an extended and extensive discussion with a fellow on this matter, which has clarified some thoughts for me, which I now present for your consideration. First, let’s define some terms so that we don’t end up in an argument that is merely about semantics.

Evidence.

  1. that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.
  2. something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign: His flushed look was visible evidence of his fever.
  3. Law. data presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects.

Proof.

  1. evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to produce belief in its truth.
  2. anything serving as such evidence: What proof do you have?
  3. the act of testing or making trial of anything; test; trial: to put a thing to the proof.
  4. the establishment of the truth of anything; demonstration.

Objective/objectivity.

  1. not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.
  2. intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book.
  3. of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality.

Subjective/subjectivity.

  1. existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought (opposed to objective).
  2. Philosophy. relating to or of the nature of an object as it is known in the mind as distinct from a thing in itself.
  3. relating to properties or specific conditions of the mind as distinguished from general or universal experience.

These are all definitions taken from a standard dictionary, but for the purpose of this discussion I must add some terms and the definitions I have attached to them.

Objective proof. Proof that has been given from one person to another, or that has been witnessed by more than one person. This is to be differentiated from proof that merely can be given from one person to another, or which can be witnessed by more than one person.

Subjective proof. Proof that, whether or not it can be given from one person to another or can be witnessed by more than one person, has not been.

To illustrate the differences between these types of proof, take the sun, for example. If I tell my friend “The sun has risen” and he says “What proof do you have?” I merely say “Go outside and look.” He looks, he sees, and he knows. This is objective proof.

However, let us suppose that my friend is blind, cannot feel temperature changes on his skin, and is completely devoid of any sense that would tell him the sun has risen. I tell him “The sun has risen” and he says “What proof do you have?” I cannot tell him to go outside and look, because he cannot see. He cannot feel the light of the sun upon his skin. There is no way for me to prove to him that the sun has risen. This is subjective proof.

Notice that the facts are the same one way or the other. The sun has indeed risen. The difference is in my ability or inability to demonstrate this proof to my friend. The proof becomes objective at the moment in which it is given or communicated to a second person, but this does not change the nature of the proof itself.

Note: Now, we could go into a more metaphysical discussion on whether in this example I even know the sun has risen. After all, scientists have been able to simulate certain feelings and perceptions in the human brain using electrical impulses, so perhaps the sun has not truly risen, and it’s all in my head. Perhaps we are all living in an artificial world similar to that shown in the movie The Matrix and what we perceive as reality is not reality at all. Perhaps even the concept that 2+2=4 is not reality, as some philosophers have postulated. But that is a different discussion, for the most part. For the purposes of our discussion, we will assume that 2+2=4, and that when we see the sun shining it really is shining not just within one’s head, but that this is a fact.

Alrighty, are we ready to get started?

The question is how do I know that God lives, that Jesus Christ is real, that the LDS Church is true, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, etc.?

The simple, short answer is that God has told me so.

Why did God tell me so?

Because I followed the formula.

How do I know God has told me so?

There is a form of communication that results in the transfer of knowledge, not through oral or written communication, not through sound, site, smell/taste, or touch, but through another medium. This form of communication cannot be forged or falsified, because intrinsic to the form of communication is the ability to detect forgery. In other words, I am saying that God has communicated with me and has told me the truth and factual nature of the above items in a way that cannot be faked.

The reasonable scientist or skeptic at this point would naturally say “That’s all well and good for you, now prove it to me.”

To which my response is “I can’t.”

“Then why should I believe you?”

“You shouldn’t, not unless you want to.”

“Why would I want to believe you?”

“Because if the things I am claiming to be true are indeed true, you want to participate.”

“What if I don’t want to participate, I just want to know if what you’re saying is true because I want to know what is true generally?”

“Then you’re not following the formula, and it won’t work.”

Now, in the real world, this conversation might continue on with questions such as “Why is the formula set up that way?” or “Why doesn’t God just tell us he exists?” But these are different questions and not the purpose of this post. The point here is to illustrate in broad terms how God communicates with man, why Mormons believe what they do, and how they can claim to know that what they believe is true.

Where I have found that skeptics err is when they start making statements such as:

  • There is no such form of communication.
  • There is no such other sense with which to detect such communication.
  • If you can’t prove it to me, then it doesn’t exist.

These are illogical statements. The person who makes them is attempting to prove a negative. They are saying definitively that something does not exist, when they have no proof that the something in question does not exist. All they have proof of is that they have no hard evidence to positively prove its existence, or in other words, they take a lack of evidence as hard proof of non-existence. In doing so, they are exercising much greater faith than any Mormon.

As evidence for their faith, Mormons can at least point to the word of trusted friends and family who say they know due to communication with an omniscient being, the existence of the Book of Mormon, and countless other reference points. None of these is proof, but they at least get one to the point of saying “If none of this is true, then why does all this stuff exist?” Those who claim Mormonism or a belief in God is false have no such evidence. True, they may have friends, family, and associates who believe as they do, but these people make no claim of communication with an omniscient being, since that would undermine their primary argument. There is no physical evidence to lend credence to their position. They are merely saying “I have never seen a black swan therefore there is no such thing” which again is illogical since their experience is subjective, and such a thing may exist without their knowing of it. Likewise, God may exist without their knowing of it. Any argument to the contrary seems to hinge on assumptions about God, such as “If God existed, he wouldn’t let children be tortured and killed.” But this is merely an assumption, and there is no proof that it is true.

What of the case of the individual who says “I also communicate with God, and he told me that Mormons are wrong.” For me, it doesn’t present a problem. I know what I know, and if someone else says they have evidence that conflicts with my knowledge, logically I must assume they are incorrect. For the person caught between a Mormon and someone of another faith claiming to have received divine communication, as Mormons, this might produce something more of a dilemma. Assuming the other person’s belief system also provide a formula for knowing whether it is true or not, then the logical thing to do, assuming the third person is interested in exploring both faiths, would be to test both of them, or try both formulas, and go with the one that yield the satisfactory result.

But what if they try both, and they end up deciding God has told them Mormonism is false? Again, this is no different than the situation with the first person. How can such a thing happen? The form of communication I referenced above does not allow for forgery, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t forged forms of communication. God’s communication can’t be forged, but a person could trick themselves into thinking they’ve received it when in fact they haven’t, or Satan could do the same.

“Ah-ha!” the skeptic says, “So how do you know you aren’t just tricking yourself?! How do you know you have received the true communication while the other person has received false communication?”

Because once you receive the true communication, then you know what it is. Only those who haven’t received this communication, or who haven’t learned how to identify it when they do, or who purposely fool themselves after having received it, or who get lazy and forget what the communication was like, or perhaps some other reasons (I’m getting a bit lazy here myself about writing this post at this point and I admit the possibility of other reasons beyond those I’ve mentioned), are subject to mistaking false communication for the real thing.

Now, although it’s not the point of this post, I’ll touch on the subject of why God would communicate this way.

  1. We are children of God, destined to become like him.
  2. Only those who want to live the life God lives can become like him.
  3. We can’t prove to God or ourselves what kind of life we want to live unless we have a chance to do so in a state of uncertain limbo, which this life is. If God were to give us knowledge prior to us proving ourselves, it would frustrate our ability to generate that proof. Thus we only receive knowledge after we prove ourselves by exercising faith.
  4. If the proof that comes by this form of communication with God were not subjective, but could be proven objectively by one person to another, then knowledge could be given by one man to another independent of God, and thus the second person could receive knowledge prior to proving themselves, which would hurt them rather than help them.

Thus, it makes sense that certain types of knowledge can only be given to man by God, so that God’s plan for man, to help him become like Him, remains under God’s perfect control, and does not become frustrated by the imperfections of man.

If I’ve made any errors in my thinking, I invite you to point them out, not because I think I can best you in an argument and have fun doing so, but because I believe I may have made some errors, and I would like to learn from them. I look forward to the discussion.

Comments

  1. But that's the beauty of it all, isn't it!!! No one has to prove a thing because it's all based on faith, yea!!!

    But boy, when just the slightest mention of anything remotely 'scientific' is associated with the Book of Mormon, boy you better expect those educated BYU archeologist are right on top of it!!!

    Oh, wait, the proof turned out to be wrong. Darn it.

    But wait, it's all based on faith, so it doesn't matter, yea!!!

    • "But that’s the beauty of it all, isn’t it!!! No one has to prove a thing because it’s all based on faith, yea!!!"

      God still has to prove it. We Mormons don't say there isn't proof, only that we aren't capable of providing it, only God is.

      "But boy, when just the slightest mention of anything remotely ‘scientific’ is associated with the Book of Mormon, boy you better expect those educated BYU archeologist are right on top of it!!!"

      Somebody within the Church is on top of just about everything. But only the overly excited take anything archeological as proof of anything. For most Mormons archeology is merely interesting, and why shouldn't it be if it seems to validate Mormon beliefs? And if it turns out to not validate our beliefs, well, why should we remain interested in it just as before?

  2. In other words, very good assessment Anthony! That's pretty much how it is!

    I keep hearing that little ditty from the South Park Mormon episode in my head…

  3. This is simply dangerous. To teach that this is how one should define truth is wrong.

    "For most Mormons archeology is merely interesting, and why shouldn’t it be if it seems to validate Mormon beliefs? And if it turns out to not validate our beliefs, well, why should we remain interested in it just as before?" What an atrocious viewpoint. It is a science. Is that how you think we should think about the studies in evolution? Studies in physics? If it validates what you have been taught, then listen and stay interested? If it does not validate it, then just ignore it?

    You don't know what proof is. I'm SO tired and frustrated with religious people trying to redefine what proof is so they aren't subject to having to show it for their extraordinary claims.

    Let me explain something to you about truth. Truth is truth no matter who you are. A lie is a lie, even if everyone believes it with all their heart. This whole "subjective truth" doesn't make any sense. It's ludicrous.

    Example: (If I tell my friend “The sun has risen” and he says “What proof do you have?” I merely say “Go outside and look.” He looks, he sees, and he knows. This is "SUBJECTIVE" proof.)

    Here's the funny thing about this "subjective proof". IT'S NOT TRUE!!!!! The sun didn't rise. It appeared as though the sun rose, but it's simply not true. Witnessing something to happen is not proof. Stop saying that it is. The sun didn't rise because we, on Earth, are orbiting the sun. It only appeared to have risen.

    God asking me to "prove" myself is bullocks. If God has endowed me with logic and reason, then why would He ask me to ignore that? He wants us to simply follow him, even if what he asks is illogical and immoral? That's horrible! That is not a moral teaching! It is not how a loving benevolent God would act.

    He asked Abraham to go kill his son to prove his faith, and then stopped him just before he did. Abraham was told that he did well, because he followed without question. Lets think about this for a moment.

    Is that how a good tester tests someone's morality? If I had a child, and was trying to teach him to be a good person, I'd want him to respond to me, telling him to kill his own son, by saying "No, father. For that is immoral. I will not kill my son. You have always taught me that killing is wrong, and I can objectively understand why not killing would be beneficial to society as a whole. Therefore, you must be a devil for asking me to do this."

    See the difference? The church teaches to follow, no matter what it is. This is a cult mentality. This is the master-slave relationship. This is immoral.

    One must understand why proof is so important to help get out of that cult mentality.

    It was stated that skeptics "err" on these subjects. I will explain why they are not an error in logic.

    There is no such form of communication. (referring to divine personal revelation)

    There is no such other sense with which to detect such communication.

    If you can’t prove it to me, then it doesn’t exist.

    1. "There is no such form of communication." This is true. How arrogant do you have to be to honestly think that God thinks you're such a better person than someone who has actually used their brain to establish objective reality, that He will talk to you personally and not them. He will talk to you personally, but he will not talk to Stephen Hawking. You are simply a better person than Stephen Hawking, and because he desires proper evidence to establish something as truth, God will leave him in the dust. Too bad for him. Gandhi will receive no personal revelation either, as he is not Christian. He has not proven himself to God. He practices Hinduism his whole life. God must be very disappointed in him. This is ludicrous and elitist.

    2. "There is no such other sense with which to detect such communication." This is also true. Just because you can conceptualize something doesn't make it possible. It's often more likely that you don't understand something enough, so you don't understand when something doesn't make sense. It's like when someone says God lives beyond space and time. This doesn't make sense. God cannot live outside space or time. NOTHING can be outside space, as there would then be no place for it to be. Nothing can exist outside time, as then there could be no progression in its state. So, unless you're prepared to say God doesn't exist, nor does He progress, you can't say "God is beyond space and time". It wouldn't make any sense.

    The communication sense thing is the same issue. You aren't allowed to make up new and special senses that only you have. It would mean that you are physically different than people without this sense. If you are physically different, then you'd be able to objectively show what that difference is. Else, you think it's just magic… and I hope you're smarter than to believe in magic.

    3. "If you can’t prove it to me, then it doesn’t exist." This, I hope, is misquoted. It isn't that without prove something doesn't exist. It's that without proper evidence, there is no reason for believing in something. My friend could tell me that he has a small box with a unicorn in it. I look in the box and see nothing. "Oh, it's because the unicorn is invisible." I notice the box is quite small. Too small for a unicorn. "Oh, the unicorn is a miniature unicorn." I lift the box and notice no extra weight. "Oh, the unicorn flies, so you don't feel it's weight when the box is lifted up." And so on and so forth.

    The issue isn't that there is no way that there is a tiny invisible flying unicorn in the box. It's that there is no reason for me to believe that there is one. I couldn't prove it's not there. But there is no actual reason for me to assume its existence.

    Stop saying that you KNOW God exists. You don't. You have faith God exists. There does not exist a form of conclusive proof that would allow you to KNOW God exists without being able to show it. If you want to say you believe God exists, that's one thing. But stop saying that you KNOW. It's a flat out lie and confuses the definition of what proof and knowledge is.

    If you want to sit there on your arrogant high horse saying that you are smarter than other people because you CHOOSE to be a slave to a God that leads a racist, sexist, bigotous organization that asks you to turn off your brain and do whatever it tells you to do, whether moral, reasonable, or logical or not, than go ahead. However, don't pretend like you have proof that it's true. You don't. If you think you do, you should really try and go show someone who knows what the scientific method is, so they can explain to you why it's not proof, or publish it so more people can see this proof. I know I'd want to see it if someone actually had proof.

  4. "'For most Mormons archeology is merely interesting, and why shouldn’t it be if it seems to validate Mormon beliefs? And if it turns out to not validate our beliefs, well, why should we remain interested in it just as before?' What an atrocious viewpoint. It is a science. Is that how you think we should think about the studies in evolution? Studies in physics? If it validates what you have been taught, then listen and stay interested? If it does not validate it, then just ignore it?"

    I never said anything about ignoring science. But nobody can give equal time to all scientific discoveries because there simply isn't enough time. My question is why shouldn't one expect Mormons, as a group, to be more interested in those scientific discoveries that appear to validate Mormon beliefs, and less interested in science that does no such thing? I am making no statement about how I think Mormons who are research scientists or whose focus in life is the hard sciences should do their work or see things.

    "Example: (If I tell my friend “The sun has risen” and he says “What proof do you have?” I merely say “Go outside and look.” He looks, he sees, and he knows. This is “SUBJECTIVE” proof.)

    Here’s the funny thing about this “subjective proof”. IT’S NOT TRUE!!!!! The sun didn’t rise. It appeared as though the sun rose, but it’s simply not true. Witnessing something to happen is not proof. Stop saying that it is. The sun didn’t rise because we, on Earth, are orbiting the sun. It only appeared to have risen."

    Nathan, to bring this up is childish. Of course I know the sun doesn't technically "rise", but "sunrise" is the word everyone uses to describe the moment at which the rotation of the earth causes the sun to be visible by those on the earth. You're merely arguing semantics and trying to make it part of the overall discussion when it has nothing to do with it.

    "God asking me to “prove” myself is bullocks. If God has endowed me with logic and reason, then why would He ask me to ignore that? He wants us to simply follow him, even if what he asks is illogical and immoral? That’s horrible! That is not a moral teaching! It is not how a loving benevolent God would act."

    Logic and reason only work as far as we have correct information upon which to base our judgments. Hitler thought his actions were logical and moral, as with Stalin, Mao, etc. No murderous dictator ever set out saying "I know this is wrong and doesn't make any sense, but I just want to do it." To them their actions made sense and were the right thing to do. God is the only being who knows everything. He will never ask us to do something illogical or immoral, although because of our limited knowledge the things he asks of us may seem illogical or immoral.

    "He asked Abraham to go kill his son to prove his faith, and then stopped him just before he did. Abraham was told that he did well, because he followed without question. Lets think about this for a moment.

    Is that how a good tester tests someone’s morality? If I had a child, and was trying to teach him to be a good person, I’d want him to respond to me, telling him to kill his own son, by saying “No, father. For that is immoral. I will not kill my son. You have always taught me that killing is wrong, and I can objectively understand why not killing would be beneficial to society as a whole. Therefore, you must be a devil for asking me to do this.”

    Your conclusion that Abraham was misled is based on assumptions you are making. If God knows everything, is a loving God, and only wants what's best for Abraham and his son, and Abraham knows this, then Abrahams behavior in obeying God without apparent question is completely logical.

    "The church teaches to follow, no matter what it is. This is a cult mentality. This is the master-slave relationship. This is immoral."

    Actually the LDS Church advises its members to not follow blindly, but to get confirmation from God on everything. As Brigham Young said "What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually."

    "1. 'There is no such form of communication.' This is true."

    You claim there is no such form of communication, but you provide no proof of your claim. Why should I believe you, when I have evidence to the contrary?

    "How arrogant do you have to be to honestly think that God thinks you’re such a better person than someone who has actually used their brain to establish objective reality, that He will talk to you personally and not them. He will talk to you personally, but he will not talk to Stephen Hawking. You are simply a better person than Stephen Hawking, and because he desires proper evidence to establish something as truth, God will leave him in the dust. Too bad for him. Gandhi will receive no personal revelation either, as he is not Christian. He has not proven himself to God. He practices Hinduism his whole life. God must be very disappointed in him. This is ludicrous and elitist."

    I've never said I thought I was better than anyone else, nor have I ever stated that people who are "better" receive communication from God and those who aren't better don't. I've also never stated that Hawking, Gandhi, or anyone else is left behind in the dust. I have never stated that I think God is disappointed in Hawking or Gandhi. You are revealing what you believe I believe, but you are quite mistaken. I'm sure many of the best people in the world will never hear of the gospel or the LDS Church in their lives.

    "'There is no such other sense with which to detect such communication.' This is also true."

    Again, where is the proof to back up your claim?

    "The communication sense thing is the same issue. You aren’t allowed to make up new and special senses that only you have. It would mean that you are physically different than people without this sense. If you are physically different, then you’d be able to objectively show what that difference is. "

    I didn't make it up. You are once again assuming I have no evidence of what I claim. Nor do I claim that only I have such a sense. I am claiming that we all have the sense, but some of us choose to pay attention to it and some don't. And it's not a physical matter, per se, although everything is physical. We are all made of two parts, body and spirit. The body is what we are able to easily detect with our modern scientific equipment and our physical senses, the spirit is thus far undetectable to scientific equipment. But whether or not it can be detected by our equipment does not determine whether it exists or not. DNA was undetectable 100 years ago, but still existed. Perhaps 100 years from now equipment will be available that could detect the spirit.

    "It’s that without proper evidence, there is no reason for believing in something."

    On this point we can agree, at least mostly. I would say that without proper evidence there is no reason to believe something unless you want to.

    "Stop saying that you KNOW God exists. You don’t. You have faith God exists. There does not exist a form of conclusive proof that would allow you to KNOW God exists without being able to show it. If you want to say you believe God exists, that’s one thing. But stop saying that you KNOW. It’s a flat out lie and confuses the definition of what proof and knowledge is."

    By your logic, if you know with 100% certainty that I do not know whether God exists, shouldn't you be able to show me conclusive proof that I don't know whether he exists?

    Joseph Smith claimed that he went into the woods, prayed to God, and that God and Jesus Christ appeared to him. It had been proved to him that they existed, but how could he show that proof to anyone else? You might define "proof" as only that which can be easily shared, but then we're back to arguing semantics which is why I explained the terms I use and what I mean by them in the original post. You could say he didn't really know he had seen what he thought he saw, but then you might as well argue that we don't know whether anything exists or not, and where does that get us?

    Or take the black swan example. A boy raised in Australia in 1800 who had seen black swans but then was taken by his parents to Britain would say "I know black swans exist. I've seen them." How logical would it be for someone in Britain to say "Show me the proof", for the boy to respond "I can't, they're only in Australia and I can't exactly go back there and grab one for you at the moment" and for the skeptic to then say "Then stop saying you know they exist until you can prove it to me." The boy knows what he has seen. Why should he not say he knows black swans exist until he can bring back a black swan to prove it? It's fine for the skeptic to say "I won't believe it until I see it" but it's quite another thing for the skeptic to tell the boy he shouldn't say he knows what he has seen until he has the proof with him or until it's proved generally from other sources.

    "If you want to sit there on your arrogant high horse saying that you are smarter than other people because you CHOOSE to be a slave to a God that leads a racist, sexist, bigotous organization that asks you to turn off your brain and do whatever it tells you to do, whether moral, reasonable, or logical or not, than go ahead."

    Again, I've never said I was smarter than anyone else. If I have come across as arrogant in any way I apologize, I am certainly not immune to becoming emotionally engaged in these discussions.

    If you think I turn my brain off in order to follow my religion you're welcome to your opinion. I see my faith as the only logical path I can take. To deny it, or not say that I know what I know, would be a lie.

    "However, don’t pretend like you have proof that it’s true. You don’t. If you think you do, you should really try and go show someone who knows what the scientific method is, so they can explain to you why it’s not proof, or publish it so more people can see this proof. I know I’d want to see it if someone actually had proof."

    I know I don't have objective proof, that's kind of the point of this whole post. I freely admit that I can't prove what I know to anyone else, or at least that I lack the knowledge of how to prove it to anyone else. All I claim to have is firsthand proof, or subjective proof, just as the boy who has seen a black swan in 1800s Australia but who doesn't know how to prove it to someone in Britain.

  5. Joshua. You are not listening to me. I am tired of re-explaining the same thing over and over.

    YOU CAN'T PROVE A NEGATIVE!!!!!!!

    Do you understand this very simple concept? There is no way to prove a negative. It can't be done. It's not how logic works. I can't prove that something doesn't exist. The burden of proof lies on those that say something DOES exist. If said person can't actually prove something, or at least give PROPER evidence, then you SHOULDN'T believe it.

    (“1. ‘There is no such form of communication.’ This is true.”)

    You claim there is no such form of communication, but you provide no proof of your claim. Why should I believe you, when I have evidence to the contrary?

    Because YOU CAN'T PROVE A NEGATIVE! My "proof" is that I lived in the church for 20 years. It doesn't exist. My claim is valid, as you CAN'T show that it exists. You are delusional.

    (“‘There is no such other sense with which to detect such communication.’ This is also true.”)

    Again, where is the proof to back up your claim?

    Because YOU CAN'T PROVE A NEGATIVE!

    (“It’s that without proper evidence, there is no reason for believing in something.”)

    On this point we can agree, at least mostly. I would say that without proper evidence there is no reason to believe something "unless you want to."

    No. WANTING to believe in something is NOT a good reason to. It has absolutely NO bearing on truth or reason. It's flat out ignoring the reality around you. WANTING to believe in fairies doesn't in ANY WAY change whether or not fairies exist.

    (Here’s the funny thing about this “subjective proof”. IT’S NOT TRUE!!!!! The sun didn’t rise. It appeared as though the sun rose, but it’s simply not true. Witnessing something to happen is not proof. Stop saying that it is. The sun didn’t rise because we, on Earth, are orbiting the sun. It only appeared to have risen.”

    Nathan, to bring this up is childish. Of course I know the sun doesn’t technically “rise”, but “sunrise” is the word everyone uses to describe the moment at which the rotation of the earth causes the sun to be visible by those on the earth. You’re merely arguing semantics and trying to make it part of the overall discussion when it has nothing to do with it.)

    This is not childish. It's the whole point. You keep bringing up all this personal evidence that you have, but as you can see from this example, experiencing something ISN'T proof. It's not even good evidence. Not even to you! You can observe something and be under a VERY false impression. Without actually being able to reproduce it or show it in some objective way, then it's simply not valid. Even if God blew the roof off your house and came down toward you in a fiery chariot of blazing glory and called you by name, it would NOT be proof. It'd likely be pretty convincing, but it would not be proof. It could've very well been an alien claiming to be a god or a time traveler from the future with the technology to make it appear something like that has happened. My point is, is that personal experience is NOT proof. It's not even evidence without being able to bring something objectively conclusive from it.

    You are infuriating. You have no concept of logic in your claims. You offer no evidence beyond saying "I can't show you, because I have no proof. But I know for myself." which is pretty much evidence that you're brainwashed.

    You sound very uneducated on the definitions of proof, evidence, and knowledge.

    "I have a deep conviction in my heart. For it was told to me in a dream. I know these things to be true, for my very soul shakes at the prospect of any other possibility. It was told to me that a meteor killed the dinosaurs."

    VS

    "Through careful observation within the rock layers, and scientifically analyzing fossil records, we have been able to conclude that it is most likely that a meteor killed the dinosaurs."

    Ugh. You're hopeless. It's in one ear and out the other. I'm tired of constantly repeating myself and having to point out your illogical conclusions rather than actually fighting your points. Go back to school and learn how to be a rational human being.

  6. Joshua, you wrote this, in your “Evidence, Subject Proof and Objective Proof” post:

    “This form of communication cannot be forged or falsified, because intrinsic to the form of communication is the ability to detect forgery.”

    I think you've confused communication with knowledge. Even if you substitute “knowledge” or “fact” or “evidence” or “proof” for “communication, you’re still missing the mark. If in principle you’ve got a claim that can’t be falsified, then it’s not knowledge, in the sense of scientific knowledge.

    You also wrote: “if the things I am claiming to be true are indeed true, you want to participate.”

    There are so many claims about which religious beliefs are true, objectively or subjectively, Joshua. (Why pick the one you chose? Are you a convert, or were you raised a Mormon? ) What about other people who make the same claim about their religions? What about all the religions you’ve never heard about that make claims like yours?

    In fact, if you google Pascal’s Wager, you can learn all about why someone might want, or not want, to participate in a claim like yours.

    Then there’s this, from your other post: “Subjective proof. Proof that, whether or not it can be given from one person to another or can be witness [sic] by more than one person, has not been.”

    You’re confusing proof with a fact. I’d explain it to you, but you wouldn’t understand or accept it, anyway, because, as you also wrote:

    ” I know what I know.”

    Of course. Some of what you know, like your literal belief in a god, just happens to be wrong. 😉

  7. Nathan, I'm sorry to give you heartburn over this, but entertain me if you will.

    You say "YOU CAN’T PROVE A NEGATIVE!!!!!!!" But then you say with regards to that form of communication that we have referenced "It doesn’t exist." Shouldn't you be listening to your own advice?

    I am not trying to prove a negative. You are. You claim that something doesn't exist. The burden of proof rests upon you to prove that your claim is true. If you cannot prove your claim to be true, why should I believe your claim? You say your claim cannot be proven, because proving a negative is impossible, but then I ask you–is it not illogical to claim with such certainty that which you cannot prove?

    "The burden of proof lies on those that say something DOES exist."

    I am not trying to prove to you the existence of anything. If I were, then yes, there would be some burden of proof upon me. But such is not my intent. My only intent is to show that anyone who claims that Mormonism is false is merely expressing their opinion. Whether the matter at hand involves proving a negative or not is of no matter, the fact remains that one should not be compelled to believe that for which there is no proof. I think we agree on that point, do we not?

    "WANTING to believe in something is NOT a good reason to. It has absolutely NO bearing on truth or reason. It’s flat out ignoring the reality around you. WANTING to believe in fairies doesn’t in ANY WAY change whether or not fairies exist."

    It may or may not be a good reason to believe in something, I merely stated that it was a reason. I also never stated that belief affects the facts. The reason I bring up the matter is that this is the system God has created. That is, one in which faith is required prior to one gaining knowledge. Therefore, only those who want God to exist, who want the gospel to be true, are ever able to obtain the knowledge that it is.

    "Without actually being able to reproduce it or show it in some objective way, then it’s simply not valid. Even if God blew the roof off your house and came down toward you in a fiery chariot of blazing glory and called you by name, it would NOT be proof. It’d likely be pretty convincing, but it would not be proof. It could’ve very well been an alien claiming to be a god or a time traveler from the future with the technology to make it appear something like that has happened. My point is, is that personal experience is NOT proof. It’s not even evidence without being able to bring something objectively conclusive from it."

    I agree that personal experience for one person, regardless of its quality, cannot serve as proof for another person. I also agree that fiery chariots and such aren't proof since they are merely visual stimuli being processed through the eye and other physical means of sensation and as such can be faked. What I dispute is whether or not God, if God exists, has the power to prove to me that he exists. I argue that God can prove to me that he exists. I do not say that this is proof I can share with another, but it is proof to me, and the formula can be followed by anyone such that they can receive the proof for themselves.

    You cannot logically say that there is no way for God to communicate in a way that can prove to one that he exists, because as you say, you cannot prove a negative and therefore have no basis upon which to make the claim. You can say that you find it ridiculous, and that you won't believe it without proof, and that is logical, but to say that I have not experienced this form of communication with God is not logical and is based upon nothing but your opinion.

    "You offer no evidence beyond saying 'I can’t show you, because I have no proof. But I know for myself.'"

    Yes, once again, I am not trying to prove to you that what I believe is true, therefore there is no burden of proof upon me. I am only trying to show the lack of logic in those who claim they can prove a negative but then offer no proof.

  8. @Dave

    "If in principle you’ve got a claim that can’t be falsified, then it’s not knowledge, in the sense of scientific knowledge."

    I wish the climate change people could understand this…but that's another matter.

    I would say that the claim that God exists is falsifiable–if one dies and there is no consciousness, or there is but one never meets God, then it would seem God doesn't exist. Of course this doesn't do us much good here and now if God does indeed exist and we get hung up on the matter.

    "There are so many claims about which religious beliefs are true, objectively or subjectively, Joshua. (Why pick the one you chose? Are you a convert, or were you raised a Mormon? ) What about other people who make the same claim about their religions? What about all the religions you’ve never heard about that make claims like yours?"

    I'm saying if Mormonism is true, you would want to have that knowledge that it is true, wouldn't you? Saying "yes" doesn't imply that you accept Mormonism is true, I'm just asking whether you would want to know if it's true, if it is. I would hope the response would be "Yes, if Mormonism is true, I want to know that it is." The only alternative is to state that even if Mormonism is true you don't want to know.

    As for people in other religions, that's not my concern, or rather, it's not a logical issue for me, although I recognize the issue for someone in your position. If someone else makes the same claims I make, but the doctrine of what they believe is exclusive to mine, then one of us is wrong. I know mine is not wrong, so I can only assume the other person is crazy, lying, or misled. I recognize they can make the same claims about me, but again, this doesn't bother me. It's not as important for me to know why they think what they think as it is for me to know what I know.

    For the record I was born into the LDS faith.

    "You’re confusing proof with a fact."

    Perhaps. Humor me. Let's assume there is a God. Let's assume he can communicate with us in a way that cannot be misunderstood, forged, or faked. Let's assume one who receives knowledge via this form of communication can know, with absolute certainty, that the knowledge is true. Given those assumptions, which I recognize you may not hold as valid, but just assuming that they are valid for the sake of argument, would the knowledge received in this manner constitute proof to the person who receives that knowledge? Would that knowledge not also be fact?

  9. "I am not trying to prove a negative. You are. You claim that something doesn’t exist. The burden of proof rests upon you to prove that your claim is true. If you cannot prove your claim to be true, why should I believe your claim? You say your claim cannot be proven, because proving a negative is impossible, but then I ask you–is it not illogical to claim with such certainty that which you cannot prove?"

    Absolutely not. Again, please learn how logic works before making such ludicrous claims. I am not the one making the claim. YOU have made a claim that something exists. You have a website stating that it is truth. YOU are making the claim and you even say you have proof (for only yourself, which is completely insane, because that simply isn't how proof works ever, in any circumstance). I am on here stating that this claim of yours is completely wrong and NO ONE should listen to you unless you can actually give SOME KIND of evidence as per YOUR claim. Negatives can't be proven wrong, and they are not asked to, because it's ridiculous. They are assumed true until there is some type of evidence indicating that something exists. It's like me asking you for proof that Zeus doesn't exist in reality, and you not being able to prove it. Should I therefore "not believe you because you don't have proof?" Please.

    Just because I can't prove fairies don't exist does mean I should believe someone who says they do actually exist. But, if I DO hear someone say that they do exist, I am going to ask them for some sort of evidence. Upon hearing what they have to say and finding out that they have NO IDEA what evidence is, no concept of basic logic, etc., of course I would urge them to stop making these ridiculous claims, as it is spreading lies. You STILL have not answered any of my questions on the previous page. You did what you LOVE to do and started arguing about what proof is and who has the burden of proof.

    It's you. You are the one who believes that something exists. God. You have a website in which you have and are still publicly claiming this to be truth.

    What is proof, or even evidence? Try answering some of the questions I posed for starters. Explain to me how a God existing even makes sense. Explain to me why God will talk to you, someone who is a complete sheep, doesn't know the first thing about logic and reason, someone who ignores scientific validity, basically a nobody in the grand scheme of things, and yet won't talk to Stephen Hawking. Why did He not talk to Albert Einstein?

    "I wish the climate change people could understand this…but that’s another matter."

    Ok… ok… I have to stop you RIGHT here. I assume you're talking about global warming. There IS falsifiable data concluding that global warming is happening and that humans are making it worse. So… That's all I have to say about that. Ok, back to what you were saying to me.

    "What I dispute is whether or not God, if God exists, has the power to prove to me that he exists. I argue that God can prove to me that he exists."

    Circular logic. God exists because, if He exists, He can prove that He exists. Doesn't pan out. You don't get to assume God exists for your claim that God exists. Try again.

    But even if I grant you that assumption, it still doesn't work.

    “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7–8)

    I am sure seeking. I did seek and knocked for 20 years in lowly humble prayer. I kept the commandments and took the sacrament worthily and weekly. That wasn't enough?

    “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right” (D&C 9:7–8)

    Sure tried this. Over and over. Over and over and over and over.

    "I would say that the claim that God exists is falsifiable–if one dies and there is no consciousness, or there is but one never meets God, then it would seem God doesn’t exist."

    You obviously don't know what falsifiable means.

    You leave me in quite the pickle.

    You have this forum to answer questions. I pose my questions, and you side step and offer VERY poor logic and circular reasoning to get around them. You don't answer them.

    How can I have an intelligent debate with someone who doesn't know what proof is; who doesn't know what falsifiable means; who doesn't understand the scientific method; who blatantly ignores basic logic; etc etc.?

    You apparently have direct contact with God, so I'll expect a thorough, convincing response to every one of my questions. Because I'm sure God knows. I don't have to assume that you'll know. Pray to God about these questions so I can get the answer straight from Him.

    1. You have a logical explanation for Noah’s Arch? Please, give me a reasonable and logical explanation how the millions and millions of species spread across several continents were somehow packed into a single boat AND how said species could have ended up where they are now, all apparently starting from a single point (where the arch stopped and the animals got off.) Please give me a logical explanation why all physical evidence points to no such migration happening, but instead indicates that evolution over the course of millions and millions of years perfectly accounts for everything.

    2. Please give me a logical explanation as to how all the ancient fossils came to be if there was no death before the fall of Adam. Do you have a logical and reasonable explanation about dinosaurs? They couldn’t have died out before Adam, as that would indicate that there was death before the fall, where it is clearly stated that there wasn’t.

    3. Please give me a logical explanation as to why we can see light coming from a source that is billions of light-years away if the universe is only about 6000-10,000 years old. (p.s. if you're going to say that the earth IS billions of years old, and evolution occurred, then you'll still have to explain how that happened without death before the fall of Adam.)

    4. Please give me a logical explanation why God was totally cool with racism, slavery, and the prostitution of daughters.

    “Whereas others merely read the Bible and come to the conclusion it is true, this is not enough for us. We demand communication from God and urge all investigators of our religion to seek the same so that they can know without any doubt that what we teach is true.”

    If this is true, then I have some questions for you to ask Him.

    5. Why is it moral to discriminate against homosexuals, despite all the scientific evidence indicating that they are, in fact, born like that and do not have any more choice to be gay than you have to be straight?

    6. If all things are possible with God, then why won’t He heal amputees? Why does he only heal things that could also simply regress without the aid of God? Why aren’t the prayers of amputees answered as well?

    7. Why did he create a world that, when seen through the eyes of scientific inquiry, indicates a far different past than how He says it is? Is He trying to trick us? Are we suppose to just shut our eyes and cover our ears and go “Lalalalala, God did it and He’ll explain it to us after we die. End of story!”

    8. How does He expect Mormons to have faith if He is in direct contact with them, giving them indisputable proof? Faith is NOT to have a perfect knowledge, but to hope for something that is true. (This part really is bullshit. I was in the church for almost 20 years and I’ve NEVER met a Mormon who actually claims to have direct communication with God.)

    Furthermore, having a conviction in your heart is not proof.

    Feeling good after you do something nice for someone is not proof.

    Praying for something to happen, and then it happening is not proof.

    Hearing “still small voices” in your head that validate exactly what you think should happen is not proof.

    Proof is not personal. What is proof for one person must also constitute proof for ANY other person, else it is not a universal truth, and is very likely a form of logical fallacy.

  10. Sadly, another fruit of Mormonism: Atheism.

    Mormonism tells people THEY are the only true church on earth, THEIR prophet alone speaks for God, THEY alone hold the keys to your salvation…and then kids grow up and get a library card and find out it's all crap and they have been sold a lie by duplicitous men wanting their 10% tithe and their allegiance. It's called "scorched earth policy" where people turn their backs on God and all faiths because of what Mormonism did to them. Utah has a large atheist population due to being "scorched" by Mormonism. By their fruits ye shall know them.

    Nathan I was raised Mormon and was in the church for 20 years as well, and experienced the same things. I was made to feel like it was a problem with ME why I couldn't feel the "burning" and didn't buy all the doctrines. It was MY fault or MY sin, because nothing could be wrong with the faithful members feelings! Mormons use feelings to equal what your faith should be put in to equal fact (FEELINGS=FAITH=FACT). I agree with you completely that this is faulty thinking. Feelings are not proof of anything! I then learned the real facts of church history and realized I had been lied to my whole life by the church and my own family! It's a tough pill to swallow and it was hard to accept. I was lost for many years acting as if there was no God because of the falsehoods of Mormonism.

    But God IS speaking to you Nathan! Just look, He already led you out of a cult! Do you know how many millions will never get out of that and will die believing in a false church and a false prophet to save them? But you got out. He is working on you and reaching out to you, just keep searching.

    The Mormon faith burns people bad, I know it personally, you are told your whole life it is the truth and when you realize it's not you don't know where to turn. But don't let it scorch you against faith in God completely! I pray you find the real Truth someday: Jesus Christ. It's between you and God and about your relationship with Him, and you don't have to do ANYTHING to be good enough. Jesus was good enough because we can't be! Jesus welcomes all to the cross, he hung out with beggars, lepers, and prostitutes and called sinners to Him! No shirt or tie required. You don't need a church institution or a so called "prophet" telling you what to do! Jesus died for you, to save you, because He loves you. All He asks is you believe in Him, place your faith in Him only, not men or a church, and He will save you. Just keep searching, seek truth and you will find it.

    Everyone places faith in SOMETHING, even faith that there isn't a God, because His existence cannot be proven/disproven either way. The proper equation is FACT=FAITH=FEELING. Search out facts, then determine what to place your faith in, and then the feelings you get will be based in truth. Then it's not just what you have been taught since you were born, you choose where to place your faith. I have chosen to believe and trust in Jesus and His words, something I'm sure you find to be illogical as well. I felt the same way before about other faiths too, but after searching Jesus out and reading about his life, teachings, and purpose I decided that trusting God alone to save me was the most logical decision I could make. I certainly couldn't do it on my own, and neither could the LDS church or it's fallible men.

  11. Let's dive into your questions first.

    "1. You have a logical explanation for Noah’s Arch? Please, give me a reasonable and logical explanation how the millions and millions of species spread across several continents were somehow packed into a single boat AND how said species could have ended up where they are now, all apparently starting from a single point (where the arch stopped and the animals got off.) Please give me a logical explanation why all physical evidence points to no such migration happening, but instead indicates that evolution over the course of millions and millions of years perfectly accounts for everything."

    My opinion is that the flood was local, the "earth" which is referenced in the Biblical story is limited to the land in which Noah lived, and the animal species contained in the ark were limited to those immediately available to Noah in his vicinity.

    "2. Please give me a logical explanation as to how all the ancient fossils came to be if there was no death before the fall of Adam. Do you have a logical and reasonable explanation about dinosaurs? They couldn’t have died out before Adam, as that would indicate that there was death before the fall, where it is clearly stated that there wasn’t."

    There was "no death" within the Garden of Eden, which was limited in its geographic scope. I assume the dinosaurs lived well before the Garden of Eden existed on the earth.

    "3. Please give me a logical explanation as to why we can see light coming from a source that is billions of light-years away if the universe is only about 6000-10,000 years old. (p.s. if you’re going to say that the earth IS billions of years old, and evolution occurred, then you’ll still have to explain how that happened without death before the fall of Adam.)"

    Mormon doctrine doesn't teach that the universe is only a few thousand years old. The words used for "days" in the Bible can also be translated from Hebrew as "periods".

    "4. Please give me a logical explanation why God was totally cool with racism, slavery, and the prostitution of daughters."

    I'll have to get back to you on this one at some later date after I've done some research. I don't believe God was cool with any of this, but I lack the knowledge at the moment to back up the claim.

    "5. Why is it moral to discriminate against homosexuals, despite all the scientific evidence indicating that they are, in fact, born like that and do not have any more choice to be gay than you have to be straight?"

    Can you expound on what you are referring to as far as discrimination? The Church does, of course, discriminate against practicing homosexuals in terms of not considering them members in good standing, and doesn't consider gay marriage as a legitimate form of marriage. But the Church is also against discrimination against homosexuals when it comes to housing, employment, etc.

    "6. If all things are possible with God, then why won’t He heal amputees? Why does he only heal things that could also simply regress without the aid of God? Why aren’t the prayers of amputees answered as well?"

    Perhaps I'm misreading you, but there seems to be implicit in your question the idea that somebody who has lost a limb would be better off if they were healed of the malady. But what if that's not the case? One might as well ask why there is any suffering at all, in any degree. But if there were no suffering whatsoever, no challenges, no obstacles to be overcome, what would the purpose of life be? There would be no achievement and no progress.

    "7. Why did he create a world that, when seen through the eyes of scientific inquiry, indicates a far different past than how He says it is? Is He trying to trick us? Are we suppose to just shut our eyes and cover our ears and go “Lalalalala, God did it and He’ll explain it to us after we die. End of story!”"

    Is it that we're confused by how "He says it is" or by our interpretation of how He says it is? I suspect we misunderstand a lot of things he has said about how it is. My opinion is that there is no disagreement between how He says it is and how it is. Part of that has to do with the progress of science, part of that has to do with the progress of us humans in understanding what God has really said.

    "8. How does He expect Mormons to have faith if He is in direct contact with them, giving them indisputable proof? Faith is NOT to have a perfect knowledge, but to hope for something that is true. (This part really is bullshit. I was in the church for almost 20 years and I’ve NEVER met a Mormon who actually claims to have direct communication with God.)"

    God expects us to exercise faith as a step towards gaining knowledge. No one is born with pure knowledge, we all come as blank slates to a certain degree. But some of us hear the message of the gospel, it appeals to us, we exercise faith that it is true, and then we are given knowledge. But we do not exercise faith in all things at once, nor are we given knowledge of all things at once. We exercise faith only as quickly as we're exposed to new ideas, and we are given knowledge only as quickly as we exercise faith in each idea. Each of us is in the process of putting together a huge puzzle with millions of pieces and so we have knowledge in one area but exercise faith in another.

    Now, back to the stuff above.

    "I am not the one making the claim. YOU have made a claim that something exists. You have a website stating that it is truth. YOU are making the claim and you even say you have proof… I am on here stating that this claim of yours is completely wrong and NO ONE should listen to you unless you can actually give SOME KIND of evidence as per YOUR claim."

    It is true that I claim on this website that certain things are true and exist, such as God, but I do not ask anyone to believe me based on my claim alone. I never say "Because I know, you must accept what I say independent of anything else." What I do say is that I know God exists, and that no one else can prove that I do not know that God exists, nor can anyone show that it is illogical or irrational for me to say that I know God exists. And I go further in saying that if someone wants to know for themselves that God exists, there are steps one can take so that they can have the same evidence I have and know the same way I know. I do not ask nor expect anyone to believe me when I say that God exists without obtaining proof for themselves.

    "Just because I can’t prove fairies don’t exist does mean I should believe someone who says they do actually exist. But, if I DO hear someone say that they do exist, I am going to ask them for some sort of evidence."

    I think that's perfectly reasonable and logical, and I have never asked anyone to think or do otherwise.

    "Explain to me how a God existing even makes sense."

    I'm not sure I understand the question. Are you asking how there could be such a being as Mormons say God is, or are you asking something else?

    "Explain to me why God will talk to you, someone who is a complete sheep, doesn’t know the first thing about logic and reason, someone who ignores scientific validity, basically a nobody in the grand scheme of things, and yet won’t talk to Stephen Hawking. Why did He not talk to Albert Einstein?"

    God will talk to anyone, because nobody is a nobody in the grand scheme of things. We all have the potential to become gods. We are all possessed of the potential to create worlds, stars, galaxies, and to populate them with children who will continue the process. This holds true for an illiterate, blind beggar on the streets of New Delhi as well as for an Albert Einstein. If God has not communicated with a Hawking or Einstein the same way he has with me it is merely because they haven't knocked on God's door, so to speak.

    "Circular logic. God exists because, if He exists, He can prove that He exists. Doesn’t pan out. You don’t get to assume God exists for your claim that God exists. Try again."

    I think your claims that I use circular logic, ignore the scientific method, etc. are largely based on your misunderstandings of what I am saying, as you quite frequently show that you do not understand my words.

    I did not say what you are saying I said. I never said "God exists because, if He exists, He can prove that He exists." What I have been saying is that I know God exists because he has proven his existence to me. This is separate from the statement that if God (as I understand God to be) exists, then he has the power to prove that he exists. This second statement says nothing about whether or not God actually exists, only that if he exists, let's assume he has the power to prove his existence. If he exists but does not have the power to prove his existence, then we are talking about a being that is not God, at least not as I nor I believe most people would define "God".

    "I am sure seeking. I did seek and knocked for 20 years in lowly humble prayer. I kept the commandments and took the sacrament worthily and weekly. That wasn’t enough?"

    I don't know. I don't know what you have done or haven't done other than what you say. I don't know your heart so I can only speculate. But perhaps 20 years wasn't enough. Maybe you were doing everything right but God wanted to test you for 30 years to see if you really wanted the gospel to be true. Maybe you think you were being sincere, but you only wanted to know because of the difficulties you would face in leaving the Church, and not because you sincerely wanted the Church to be true. Maybe you know, maybe you don't. I certainly don't so I can only speculate. Brigham Young studied the gospel hardcore for 2 years before he received his answer. Others received their answers within minutes of their first introduction to the gospel. Everyone is unique and God gives everyone what is best for them in their unique situation.

    "You obviously don’t know what falsifiable means."

    Alma 41:11-13

    11 Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—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.

    12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.

    13 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.

    To clarify, the existence of God as I believe him to be is falsifiable or in other words the very existence of God may not be falsifiable, but the existence of God according to Mormon doctrine is. If one dies, and one of these two things doesn't happen, then either God does not exist or God is substantially different than what Mormons believe him to be to the point where you could say that the "Mormon God" does not exist.

    "I was in the church for almost 20 years and I’ve NEVER met a Mormon who actually claims to have direct communication with God."

    This strikes me as rather strange. We are talking about the LDS Church, right? :) I'm pretty sure I meet someone virtually every Sunday at church who makes that claim. The claim is certainly made several times, twice a year, during General Conference. The claim might not be made in those exact words, but it is certainly implied.

    "Furthermore, having a conviction in your heart is not proof.

    Feeling good after you do something nice for someone is not proof.

    Praying for something to happen, and then it happening is not proof.

    Hearing “still small voices” in your head that validate exactly what you think should happen is not proof."

    I agree completely.

    "Proof is not personal. What is proof for one person must also constitute proof for ANY other person, else it is not a universal truth, and is very likely a form of logical fallacy."

    I agree with you once again. If everyone were exactly like me, then everyone could follow the exact same steps in the exact same way and receive the exact same proof. Since we are all different, and nobody is capable of following the exact same steps in the exact same way there exists some variability in the timing and method in which people receive their proof, but an application of the steps given in Moroni 10:3-5 by any person will result in that person arriving at the same conclusion I have. How is this not scientific? If we accept the dictionary definition of proof as "evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to produce belief in its truth" then how could someone say this not proof? If I perform an experiment, and reach a conclusion, and you doubt my conclusion, so I tell you the steps whereby you may reach the same conclusion, and you take those steps and reach the same conclusion, have you not obtained proof? If you do not arrive at the same conclusion, then logically either I did not communicate the steps accurately to you, you did not take the steps as I specified, or there exists some other variability between the circumstances of the two experiments. But where is the logic in claiming that because you performed the experiment and did not arrive at the results I did, that therefore the results I received are invalid and that if I claim I got the results I did I am lying? Would it not make more sense to first verify that one took all the steps as directed, and to then verify whether any other variability exists?

  12. "But God IS speaking to you Nathan! Just look, He already led you out of a cult!"

    God didn't lead me out of the "cult". I did. I learned more and I did research. God had no hand in it.

    "It’s between you and God and about your relationship with Him, and you don’t have to do ANYTHING to be good enough."

    I find this horribly immoral. The idea of scape goating. It takes away personal responsibility. The idea that you can do harm to someone, and Jesus will just forgive you and cause it to be as though you are clean and never did any wrong is a bad thing to teach.

    "Jesus was good enough because we can’t be!"

    Another horrible and insulting thing to teach your children. We CAN'T be good. We are innately sinful and must constantly strive to be like Jesus (someone who wasn't all that good when you really look at the philosophy that he preached.)

    "Everyone places faith in SOMETHING, even faith that there isn’t a God, because His existence cannot be proven/disproven either way."

    This is wrong. Atheism is not a brand of faith. It is the DENIAL of faith. Do you have faith that there isn't a giant self aware raisin on the dark side of the moon? Do you have faith that Zeus doesn't exist? No. You simply assume they are wrong by default and would require some sort of evidence for you to change your mind. I don't have faith that God doesn't exist. And I won't even go as far to say that I know God doesn't exist. But i will say that there is no good reason to believe in God and plenty to deny it.

    "The proper equation is FACT=FAITH=FEELING"

    This is also very wrong, by definition. If you have the facts, then you wouldn't need faith. Faith based morality is another way of saying "I choose to not care whether or not this has facts about it or not, I will close my eyes and believe it anyway." If there are facts concluding that something is true, and you see and understand these facts, then you don't have faith. If there are no facts on the subject that make a conclusion, then you have no reason to believe or have faith in said subject.

    "Search out facts, then determine what to place your faith in, and then the feelings you get will be based in truth." Feelings are never based in truth. Even if you know the truth. Feelings are 100% subjective and fallible. No feeling constitutes truth any more than any other feeling. Personal subjection cannot indicate whether something is true or not without having objective, falsifiable, and repeatable evidence to support it. The feelings have nothing to do with it.

    "I have chosen to believe and trust in Jesus and His words, something I’m sure you find to be illogical as well. I felt the same way before about other faiths too, but after searching Jesus out and reading about his life, teachings, and purpose I decided that trusting God alone to save me was the most logical decision I could make. I certainly couldn’t do it on my own…"

    First, yes. I do find it illogical.

    Second, other Christian churches have the same weak points that I have already established, and I would invite you to read and answer questions 1-7 in my previous post.

    Third, of course you can do it on your own. What a demonizing and insulting view you have on yourself. There are lots of people who "do it" without the aid of Jesus. You can too. Everyone can. I can. Joshua can. The Christian church as a whole drives this (the idea that you can ONLY do it with the aid of Christ or God) into people's hearts. Even worse, is that they get you to have positive feelings about it! It turns you into a slave. Where you love and fear the same person (God). Where fact no longer has any merit, because you trust in God for everything and trust everything that you believe is from God, even if that thing is horrible or immoral.

    No, Leah. Other churches are no better. God still doesn't exist, even there.

  13. "My opinion is that the flood was local, the “earth” which is referenced in the Biblical story is limited to the land in which Noah lived, and the animal species contained in the ark were limited to those immediately available to Noah in his vicinity."

    This is not what the bible says. It's pretty clear that you are cherry picking what you believe in the bible. Even the JST version of it. It clearly states that the entire earth was flooded, not just a small part. I'm pretty sure God would've known whether it was the whole Earth or not.

    "There was “no death” within the Garden of Eden, which was limited in its geographic scope. I assume the dinosaurs lived well before the Garden of Eden existed on the earth."

    So, all that evolutionary evidence indicating that man began in Africa, and not in Missouri is just a strange happenstance? All the fossil records that fit perfectly into the evolutionary view and the fact that there has yet to be found a fossil that does not fit within it is just what HAPPENED to have been happening outside where God created that had no death?

    "Mormon doctrine doesn’t teach that the universe is only a few thousand years old. The words used for “days” in the Bible can also be translated from Hebrew as “periods”."

    That's right. They don't have a stand on the subject. Which is odd for a church that claims to have direct communication with God.

    "Can you expound on what you are referring to as far as discrimination? The Church does, of course, discriminate against practicing homosexuals in terms of not considering them members in good standing, and doesn’t consider gay marriage as a legitimate form of marriage. But the Church is also against discrimination against homosexuals when it comes to housing, employment, etc."

    They demonize them. They tell them that it's a choice and that God won't accept them as such. They make them feel evil and hated. They preach that they are WRONG and BAD for being themselves and ask them to live alone, live a lie, or go to hell. This is horrible discrimination and immoral by anyone who considers themselves merciful or just.

    "Perhaps I’m misreading you, but there seems to be implicit in your question the idea that somebody who has lost a limb would be better off if they were healed of the malady. But what if that’s not the case? One might as well ask why there is any suffering at all, in any degree. But if there were no suffering whatsoever, no challenges, no obstacles to be overcome, what would the purpose of life be? There would be no achievement and no progress."

    Are you really going to sit there and try and convince me that MAYBE said amputee is better off without his or her limbs? Really? You must be joking. And you are going to also try and state that God allows hardship to happen because it makes life better? I suppose when life is hard, it's because God loves you. And also, when life is easy, it's because God loves you. I do hope you are joking. I really really do.

    "Is it that we’re confused by how “He says it is” or by our interpretation of how He says it is? I suspect we misunderstand a lot of things he has said about how it is. My opinion is that there is no disagreement between how He says it is and how it is. Part of that has to do with the progress of science, part of that has to do with the progress of us humans in understanding what God has really said."

    Please take a class in evolution, or even any basic science before stating things like this. If you really think there is no disagreement between what God says, or has said, and what science says, then you have a very rudimentary understanding of the sciences.

    "God expects us to exercise faith as a step towards gaining knowledge. No one is born with pure knowledge, we all come as blank slates to a certain degree. But some of us hear the message of the gospel, it appeals to us, we exercise faith that it is true, and then we are given knowledge. But we do not exercise faith in all things at once, nor are we given knowledge of all things at once. We exercise faith only as quickly as we’re exposed to new ideas, and we are given knowledge only as quickly as we exercise faith in each idea. Each of us is in the process of putting together a huge puzzle with millions of pieces and so we have knowledge in one area but exercise faith in another."

    Bullocks. The very idea that ANY knowledge can be gleaned from faith is inherently contradictory. If you are told something in faith, then you don't have knowledge. You can't gain knowledge from said faith, because the knowledge isn't in that faith. The knowledge would necessarily have to come from something or somewhere else.

    "What I do say is that I know God exists, and that no one else can prove that I do not know that God exists, nor can anyone show that it is illogical or irrational for me to say that I know God exists. "

    I have. Many times. You simply do not understand the basic tenants of logic and reason. You seem to be far too brainwashed to ever let go of your barbaric and subjective god.

    "I think your claims that I use circular logic, ignore the scientific method, etc. are largely based on your misunderstandings of what I am saying, as you quite frequently show that you do not understand my words."

    Nope. You can say that I don't understand you all you want, but the fact of the matter is I know all your claims. I understand what you are saying, and I have enough knowledge to conclusively state that you are full of bull. You do not understand what circular logic is and why it is not a valid argument. In fact, you used it again in the statement:

    "I know God exists because he has proven his existence to me." God exists because he says he exists.

    I know that you don't understand this concept because you continually use it. I know that you don't know how to properly use the scientific method, because you still claim to have personal proof for the existence of God that CAN'T be shown to anyone, despite the FACT that proof simply doesn't work like this.

    "Maybe you were doing everything right but God wanted to test you for 30 years to see if you really wanted the gospel to be true. Maybe you think you were being sincere, but you only wanted to know because of the difficulties you would face in leaving the Church, and not because you sincerely wanted the Church to be true. Maybe you know, maybe you don’t."

    Why would God give me a test that I would fail after giving what I believe any reasonable being would verify as "long enough"? You aren't based in logic or reason. you are basing everything off of "God MUST be true, therefore ANY explanation as to why someone didn't receive an answer, despite following all the commandments and putting the scriptures to the tests that are apparently defined by God within the scriptures themselves, are valid. Do you not see that you are brainwashed?

    "To clarify, the existence of God as I believe him to be is falsifiable or in other words the very existence of God may not be falsifiable, but the existence of God according to Mormon doctrine is. If one dies, and one of these two things doesn’t happen, then either God does not exist or God is substantially different than what Mormons believe him to be to the point where you could say that the “Mormon God” does not exist."

    I'm not even going to waste my breath. You simply don't understand what falsifiable means.

    "This strikes me as rather strange. We are talking about the LDS Church, right? :) I’m pretty sure I meet someone virtually every Sunday at church who makes that claim. The claim is certainly made several times, twice a year, during General Conference. The claim might not be made in those exact words, but it is certainly implied."

    Nope. Never. Well, besides the claim made by the president, but I've never actually met him. All other claims are about still small voices and things that give them FAITH. Not proof. Not direct communication.

    I am leaving this site and I am not coming back. You are not educated enough to have a legitimate discussion about these matters. I hope you stop claiming that you proof soon, as it aids in the poor understanding of what proof and truth is. Good day.

  14. I said my feelings would be based in truth, not evidence that the thing is true. I researched and looked into it and made a conscious decision to place my faith in Jesus. If I get "good feelings" about it, I know it is not just because I have been told to feel it since birth, it is something I researched and chose to believe. I in no way meant that it was any sort of proof, just that I know it didn't come from my childhood brainwashing. I chose it, and chose to put my faith in Him. It was an informed decision, not the recitations of an 8 year old child trying to please their parents or the product of the parlor trick "burning in the bosom." I am sure you will still see all of my thought processes as illogical since I believe in God and you don't, but as an adult I made an informed decision instead of just following what I have been told since childhood.

    I also didn't say another church, I said to be a follower of Jesus. Churches themselves have no morality, nor can attending one give you any. Jesus IS the scapegoat, in fact that is what He came here for. It doesn't mean I do what I want and not care, it just means Jesus took the punishment for my sins for me. That changes people, and gives them a love and gratitude for Him, and gives us a desire to follow Him. NO Christian goes out hurting people on purpose shouting " I can do this if I want and Jesus will just forgive me!" That is illogical and does not happen.

    For the record, we are all immoral. If not outwardly, then inwardly. Do you know anyone who is perfect? Someone who is pure in thought and deed their whole life? I don't think so. The difference with Christians is we are able to admit it. Pride and rebellion keeps others from humbling themselves before God and admitting it. We just acknowledge it and ask forgiveness, it is not demonizing ourselves. I do not believe everything horrible and immoral comes from God, it is a result of sin. I am not a slave, I have been set free by forgiveness in Jesus by his grace.

  15. "It clearly states that the entire earth was flooded, not just a small part. I’m pretty sure God would’ve known whether it was the whole Earth or not."

    If it were clear there would be no debate. Go Google "noah flood local" and you'll find all sorts of debate.

    "So, all that evolutionary evidence indicating that man began in Africa, and not in Missouri is just a strange happenstance? All the fossil records that fit perfectly into the evolutionary view and the fact that there has yet to be found a fossil that does not fit within it is just what HAPPENED to have been happening outside where God created that had no death?"

    Is there conclusive evidence that all humans today descended from an ancestor in Africa? Seems like I've heard of a "missing link" or something. Besides, in my opinion we don't have to rule out the idea of there having been other humanoids on the earth prior to or at the same time as Adam and Eve. There is ample debate on this matter as well. I don't see a problem with the idea of everything on the earth happening just as you think it happened, and about 6,000 years ago God creating the Garden of Eden, putting Adam and Eve in it, and when they're kicked out they come out into the world more or less as we know it today. Who knows, maybe the Africans were already there and didn't stem from Adam and Eve. I know I'm getting out there on that one, but I'm not shutting the door on such a theory.

    "That’s right. They don’t have a stand on the subject. Which is odd for a church that claims to have direct communication with God."

    Why should the Church take a stand on things that don't matter much? There are much more important things to worry about. The Church doesn't take a stand on every single thing they could.

    "They demonize them. They tell them that it’s a choice and that God won’t accept them as such. They make them feel evil and hated. They preach that they are WRONG and BAD for being themselves and ask them to live alone, live a lie, or go to hell. This is horrible discrimination and immoral by anyone who considers themselves merciful or just."

    Wow, granted, I'm not gay, but I've never seen this kind of attitude coming from the Church. I don't doubt there are some members who act this way, but I've never seen it coming from any official. I don't see any difference between how the Church regards those who are gay and those who are kleptomaniacs.

    Separate question–if being gay isn't a choice, but something genetic or built-in, wouldn't that qualify it as an abnormality, since it obviously isn't what evolution would provide, since it doesn't lead to propagation of the species? If it's an abnormality, why isn't there a huge movement in the gay community to find a cure? Shouldn't the gay community be demanding that funding be provided to figure out how to fix those who are gay? Just curious as to your response.

    "Are you really going to sit there and try and convince me that MAYBE said amputee is better off without his or her limbs? Really? You must be joking. And you are going to also try and state that God allows hardship to happen because it makes life better? I suppose when life is hard, it’s because God loves you. And also, when life is easy, it’s because God loves you. I do hope you are joking. I really really do."

    Do you know of anyone who has suffered a terrible physical accident, but overcame that difficulty to achieve something amazing that inspired others to improve their lives? Would the world really be a better place if such chains of events never happened?

    "Please take a class in evolution, or even any basic science before stating things like this. If you really think there is no disagreement between what God says, or has said, and what science says, then you have a very rudimentary understanding of the sciences."

    Or you have a rudimentary understanding of what God has said.

    "Bullocks. The very idea that ANY knowledge can be gleaned from faith is inherently contradictory. If you are told something in faith, then you don’t have knowledge. You can’t gain knowledge from said faith, because the knowledge isn’t in that faith. The knowledge would necessarily have to come from something or somewhere else."

    You misunderstood me. I didn't say that knowledge comes from faith as exercise leads to increased strength, I said that faith leads to knowledge. The faith doesn't produce it. If I exercise faith that God exists, and God proves to me that he does exist, it's not the faith the gave me knowledge–God gave me the knowledge. But God requires that I exercise faith in order for him to give me knowledge.

    "I have. Many times. You simply do not understand the basic tenants of logic and reason. You seem to be far too brainwashed to ever let go of your barbaric and subjective god."

    And yet whenever you say you've used logic, you misstate what I or the Church has stated. I haven't seen you use logic or reason along with accurate statements of my beliefs to discredit anything I've said.

    "Nope. You can say that I don’t understand you all you want, but the fact of the matter is I know all your claims."

    Then why do you keep misstating what I say over and over again? If you understood me it seems you would argue with what I've said rather than what I haven't said.

    "I understand what you are saying, and I have enough knowledge to conclusively state that you are full of bull. You do not understand what circular logic is and why it is not a valid argument. In fact, you used it again in the statement:

    'I know God exists because he has proven his existence to me.' God exists because he says he exists."

    Circular logic or reasoning assumes that its central point is already proven, and uses this in support of itself. I did not say that it's logical for one to assume God exists before he proves that he exists. I said it's logical for one to believe He exists only after God proves to someone that He exists. How is this circular?

    "I know that you don’t understand this concept because you continually use it. I know that you don’t know how to properly use the scientific method, because you still claim to have personal proof for the existence of God that CAN’T be shown to anyone, despite the FACT that proof simply doesn’t work like this."

    Whoever said the proof can't be shown? I've only said that I can't show it. I also can't prove how DNA sequencing works because I don't know the details. But God can certainly prove his own existence. If he proves it to 10 people but not to another 10 people, how can the second group of 10 people claim the first 10 have no proof? Sure, they have no demonstrable proof, but how can one say the matter has not been proven to them, that is, the members of the first group?

    "Why would God give me a test that I would fail after giving what I believe any reasonable being would verify as “long enough”?

    Perhaps so that in the judgment you won't have any excuse. You won't be able to say "I really wanted it to be true" because God will say "If you really wanted it to be true why did you give up on it?" You won't have anyone else to blame for your choices.

    "You aren’t based in logic or reason. you are basing everything off of “God MUST be true, therefore ANY explanation as to why someone didn’t receive an answer, despite following all the commandments and putting the scriptures to the tests that are apparently defined by God within the scriptures themselves, are valid."

    Again, that is not what I'm saying. I've never said "God MUST be true." I've only stated that I know God is true, or exists. I didn't arrive at the conclusion that God exists by using logic, I arrived at it by receiving proof of his existence.

    "Do you not see that you are brainwashed?"

    Do you not see that you continue to misunderstand what I say?

    "I’m not even going to waste my breath. You simply don’t understand what falsifiable means."

    I'll take that as you conceding the point. If you don't, then explain to me why the existence of God, the Mormon God, isn't falsifiable. As you are fond of saying, if it's so clear and obvious it should be simple to explain.

    "I am leaving this site and I am not coming back. You are not educated enough to have a legitimate discussion about these matters. I hope you stop claiming that you proof soon, as it aids in the poor understanding of what proof and truth is. Good day."

    I think you would get less frustrated if you targeted actual Mormon doctrine yourself rather than your misunderstandings of it. I think you're logical in all your points, except that you are targeting beliefs that aren't those of myself nor the Mormon faith. The only point in which I dispute your logic is your claim to know things that you then say are impossible to know, that is, the non-existence of God.

  16. "Is there conclusive evidence that all humans today descended from an ancestor in Africa? Seems like I’ve heard of a “missing link” or something."

    The above example is good enough to demonstrate that your full of bizarre, brain-washed ideas, Joshua that don't correlate with reality.

    You've heard of the missing link? That's like a Nazi saying he'd heard the Jews liked to drink the blood of Christian babies. That's like a racist saying he'd heard that black people aren't human. That's like rapist saying he's heard women in short skirts are asking for it.

    Consider the source of your "missing link," Joshua. It comes from people like you. There is no missing link.

    Then you pull out the hoary chestnut about God working in mysterious ways, claiming that someone who's arm has been blown off could be a good thing for the amputee. That means you think it might be good that Jews were gassed by the Nazis, that blacks were lynched, and that women are raped.

    You're very immoral, Joshua. You claim gassing, lynching and rape, not to mention amputation by bomb, can be good. That means you think getting an A in a college class, finding a lost child, donating to the poor, taking care of elderly parents, and serving your country in the military could be bad things.

    Have you forgotten your belief in a god who is all-powerful and all-knowing? The god you claim can cause local flooding, and keep a tyrannosaurus out of a garden? Have you forgotten that this is the god who talks to you?

    What, your puny god speaks in Chinese, and you can't figure out what he's saying? After all your study, the best you can come up with when confronted with an evil act is, "Maybe it'll work out OK in the end?"

    You don't know the difference between good and evil? You can't explain God's thinking, his actions, his commands?

    If you don't understand what God wants, if you think God's plan includes murder and rape, if you believe people who lose limbs to bombs mean "achievement" and "progress," then you are morally very sick indeed.

    If there is a spirit prison or an outer darkness, you're going to spend some significant time there.

  17. Leah, like Joshua, you are a morally depraved person. Read your own words:

    "Do you know how many millions will never get out of [a cult] and will die believing in a false church and a false prophet to save them? But you got out. He is working on you and reaching out to you, just keep searching."

    So your god allows millions to be lost. He plucked up Nathan and he plucked up you. In fact, Leah, you were unable to save yourself. Your god had to do that for you. Millions of others who can't save themselves? Burnt toast!

    To top it off, you think someone like Hitler doesn't even have to turn to God to be saved and to know the Truth. As you write, Leah, "you don’t have to do ANYTHING to be good enough." God just picks people to save, who can't save themselves, like you!

    Have you gone online, Leah, and read Hitler's annotated Bible, with his annotations in it referring to his beliefs about the "Aryan race" and "Jews?" Do you think, because he was obviously such a failure as a Christian, that your god might have plucked him up and saved him, maybe just in the few last seconds of Hitler's life, whether or not Hitler wanted to be saved?

    The answer, according to what you've written here, is yes.

    That's why you'll end up in hell – separated from your god for eternity – because you think you can do anything, or believe anything, and still be saved, even if you don't want to be saved.

  18. If you would have read the rest of my post, I said "you don't have to do ANYTHING to be good enough." To be good enough, Dave. You think you are good enough to go to heaven? You think you can work your way there, are your thoughts and deeds pure and perfect? Jesus was the only one to ever be perfect, so it is through Him that you can be saved. I didn't say so, the Bible did. I also made it clear that no Christian goes out sinning and doing whatever they want, when you accept Jesus He becomes Lord of your life and He gives you a desire to follow Him. You won't be perfect, just forgiven.

    If you would have read the rest of my post, I also said "all He asks is that you place your faith and trust in Him alone." You DO have to turn to God to be saved, by placing your faith and trust in Him, I stated that clearly. God reaches out and calls to EVERYONE. There are those who will accept Him and place their faith in Him, and others who will reject Him or place their faith in other means. But he calls to us ALL. God judges men's hearts, and He decides who is His and who isn't. When I said "millions," I was not referring only to the Mormon church, I was referring to all cults and all who believe in falsehoods. There are people in all religions, including Mormons, who are saved I am sure, and God knows who they are. But the Bible tells us there are many who will choose to be lost. We do have a choice to accept or reject His offer. Hitler showed he did not have the Spirit within him, so in my opinion he definitely did not accept Jesus as the Lord of his life. Hitler used "Christianity" to help him control people, and he definitely did not follow Jesus. God will be his judge. And since God is perfectly holy and just, I will accept whatever His decision is on whomever is saved.

    I couldn't save myself and I still can't, God called to me and I accepted His offer. His offer is open to all who will accept it. You can take my statements out of context and appoint yourself my judge and jury and condemn me to hell, that is fine, it means absolutely nothing to me unless you are God. He knows who is in my heart and He alone will be my judge as He will be for all.

  19. "Leah, like Joshua, you are a morally depraved person."

    And you aren't? You are completely moral and holy and perfect? Then you have become your own god and don't need another one. What is it with everyone thinking their own morality and self righteousness will get them somewhere?

  20. I would like to point out again the statement by Nathan that my faith sounds like "scape goating." That term came from the Bible, it was the goat the Jews used symbolically as taking away their sins. Jesus made it clear this was His sole purpose, to take away our sins. He is called "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." He is our holy and perfect sacrifice who took our place in punishment for our sins so we don't have to. So yes, that is what Christianity is about, scape goating. And it's biblical. That is God's offer to accept or reject. If you think it is "immoral" take it up with God, it was His plan and His idea, not mine.

  21. Leah – so you can read my mind to know that I didn't read your entire post? Or are you just insulting? I'm guessing the latter.

    So Hitler wasn't a Christian? You can read his mind, too? Do you speak for God when you make that pronouncement? Everything we know about Hitler points to his Christianity. Here's a page LOADED with photos of Mr. Hitler in front of churches and crosses, meeting with priests, etc: http://nobeliefs.com/nazis.htm

    You should get thee to wikipedia and look up the meaning of the No True Scotsman fallacy, because you embody it, Leah.

    If there's no way to know if someone is a Christian, then quite possibly YOU'RE not a Christian, either. And just who are you to declare that Hitler didn't have a Christian spirit? Again, do you speak for God?

    As far as being good enough to get into Heaven, if it's not based on good works, then it's not based on bad works, either. So Hitler, by your thinking, might definitely be at the right hand of God, although I'm definitely not sure about you, as you have a serious case of what the Greeks called hubris, and Christians call false pride.

    You contradict yourself, too, which is another reason you might very well end up in Hell. On the one hand, you tell us we have to accept Jesus. Then you tell us, "But I couldn't do it alone." Why don't you make up your mind, Leah? Either you save yourself or God chooses to save you. If you save yourself, then God had nothing to do with it. If god chooses who to save, then YOU have nothing to do with it – like you said, "God will be his judge."

    "What is it with everyone thinking their own morality and self righteousness will get them somewhere?"

    Well, there you go – you need only look in the mirror to see that you've described yourself: "God called to me and I accepted His offer."

    So YOU'RE going somewhere, to Heaven, because God called to you. Not Hitler. Not Joshua or millions of Mormons. But you, Leah, are going somewhere.

  22. This isn't exactly the direction I was hoping this discussion would take. Nathan and I were having such a productive debate, well, relatively speaking.

    But if I might jump in again, Dave, when you said "like Joshua, you are a morally depraved person" were you just using Leah's points facetiously against her, in which case there's no need for me to respond, or were you seriously lumping us both together?

  23. As per your other post, Leah:

    "He is our holy and perfect sacrifice who took our place in punishment for our sins so we don’t have to."

    That's not quite a complete sentence. So "we don't have to" what? So we don't have to be punished?

    If you thought through what that means, you'd realize what a childish concept it is. Since you're brainwashed, you can't do that. But the claim is on par with, "Santa brings toys to good children."

    Just what happened to humans before Jesus made his sacrifice, Leah? Did all humans go straight to Hell? I'd like an answer from you. What happened to people before Jesus came along.

    And just what is different now that he's come? Is it that most people still go to Hell, but that those who choose to accept him don't go to Hell? I'd like your answer to that, too.

    So 1): What happened to people before Jesus put in an appearance and

    2) Specifically what's different about punishment now? What has changed in the way of human punishment now that Jesus is here? Don't tell me "he took our sins on his back for us." I know that. Tell me how it's changed the way punishment works.

    Thanks!

  24. By the way, Leah, you wrote this:

    "Hitler used “Christianity” to help him control people"

    How do you know YOU aren't being controlled by people like Hitler? How do you know your religious leaders, your religious friends, and the stuff you read about Christianity isn't designed to control you?

    Those poor Christian Germans were tricked by someone using Christianity, and too dumb to figure it out? But you're smart enough to know the difference between someone using Christianity to control you, and "real" Christianity, minus the control?

    What you've really admitted to, without realizing it, is that you're brainwashed.

  25. Actually I was not being insulting, I just couldn't believe you had read what I wrote judging by your comments. But go ahead and assume whatever, it looks like you do that a lot, along with condemning people to hell.

    Hitler had tons of pictures taken with Muslim leaders too that he had alliances with to help him kill Jews, does that make him Muslim? Really, I hope you have more than photos for your judgments. You have a fascination with Hitler, and are continuing to try and get me to say who and who is not going to hell. I am not God, I do not know men's hearts, therefore I cannot say who is and who is not going to hell, nor will I. I know what the Bible teaches, and it says those who place their faith and trust in Jesus will be saved, those who don't, won't. If you don't like that answer, I am not here to tell you what you want to hear. Take it up with God, it's in His word. I will leave the condemning of people to hell for you, since you obviously revel in it.

    "Why don’t you make up your mind, Leah? Either you save yourself or God chooses to save you. "

    This is your construct, I have never said either you save yourself or God saves you, that is how you have framed it in your mind. I will again repeat what I stated earlier: God reaches out to everyone, those who accept Him are saved, those who reject Him are not. This is in the Bible, it was not my idea. I accepted God's offer by trusting Him and placing my faith in Him. He offers this choice to everyone.

    "So YOU’RE going somewhere, to Heaven, because God called to you. Not Hitler. Not Joshua or millions of Mormons. But you, Leah, are going somewhere."

    I will repeat myself AGAIN: I do not decide who goes to heaven or hell, God does. He said in His word those who accept His son will be saved by His grace through faith. I said there are Mormons and people of all religious affiliations who will be saved, and I never said names of people who weren't. Seriously, are you even reading what I write?

    As for your questions, I really don't know why you are interested in my answers since I am "brainwashed" and "childish" but I will give some quick ones anyway, just so I can see how you will twist these and take them out of context. Call it morbid curiosity. Plus it will give you another chance to tell me why I am going to hell!

    "1): What happened to people before Jesus put in an appearance and

    2) Specifically what’s different about punishment now? What has changed in the way of human punishment now that Jesus is here? Don’t tell me “he took our sins on his back for us.” I know that. Tell me how it’s changed the way punishment works."

    If you will read the book of Romans, Paul answers these questions for you. I will take some excerpts out to give you an idea, but read the book if you want the whole picture.

    For question 1:

    Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

    Rom 4:1-8/16

    1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

    4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

    7 “Blessed are they

    whose transgressions are forgiven,

    whose sins are covered.

    8 Blessed is the man

    whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

    16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring-not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.

    For question 2:

    Rom 5:9-11

    9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

    Rom 3:21-26

    21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

    "How do you know YOU aren’t being controlled by people like Hitler?"

    How do YOU know you're not being controlled by people like Hitler? ….really?

  26. Leah, you're full of BS.

    "Hitler had tons of pictures taken with Muslim leaders"

    Well, where are they? (Looks like YOU have a Hitler fascination).

    "Hitler showed he did not have the Spirit within him, so in my opinion he definitely did not accept Jesus as the Lord of his life."

    You know this how? Because of your unholy fascination with the man? Who am I, who is Joshua or Nathan or Chris or Kent to know if the spirit of the Lord dwelt within the bosom of Hitler? You do, though!

    I used Hitler to demonstrate that your claim we only need to ask Jesus to be saved is ridiculous. If true, and Hitler made that request, it means he'd be Glory Bound with you. But I didn't claim any special knowledge about him, or fascination with him. YOU'VE come up with all the personal information about him.

    Again, let's see the tons of pictures of pictures of Hitler with Muslim leaders. We don't want to forget about that.

    Meanwhile, after I pointed out the silliness about Hilter getting into Heaven under your belief system, YOU came back with, "But gosh, Hitler was no true Christian." I never said Hitler was a Christian. You just imagined I did in your mind.

    So again, you've claimed more knowledge about him then I said I had, Miss "I'm Actually Secretly Fascinated with Hitler but will Pretend Dave is" Leah. Not only did you claim knowledge about him that Hitler wasn't a Christian, you claimed he only "used" Christianity to control people.

    Where did you learn this stuff about Hitler? I certainly didn't bring up anything other than his name.

    Ah, but asking to be saved, even for Hitler, isn't enough, you say. God has to call us. And he doesn't have to choose a Christian, because YOU were a Mormon, not a Christian, and you answered His call. And you said God calls EVERYONE. That, Leah, would include Hitler. So God called Hitler (your claim, not mine), and according to you, if Hitler answered the call, he's saved, no matter what bad things he did in his life, and no matter what good things he did.

    LIke you said, Leah, we aren't perfect – like Hitler – we all sin – like Hitler – yet we can still get into Heaven if we answer the call.

    OK – so where are those tons of photos of Hitler with Muslim leaders? Is it like Hitler and 2,0o0 Muslim leaders, or 2000 photos of Hitler with two Muslim leaders? Let's see the links.

  27. Leah – as for my questions:

    "t read the book if you want the whole picture."

    There you go again, assuming I haven't read the book.

    Question 1: You failed to say what the punishment was for sin. Rom: 1-20: God has invisible qualities, Leah. There's no mention of punishment. As for the rest of your verses, there is nothing about the punishment meted out by God, either.

    Note, though, that Job was punished, for no reason, other than God had a bet going with Satan. Or did you not read that part of the Bible?

    So you've blown off the question. You aren't psychologically able to deal with it. You don't want to say the obvious: no one could go to Heaven until Jesus came along, so everyone potentially went to Hell (although the concept wasn't well developed in the OT).

    Still, the loving God definitely went in for punishment, before death. He repeatedly gave masses of men painful hemorrhoids (maybe tumors or, in a stretch, the plague) "in their secret parts." For adulterers: death. God orders Saul to kill all of the Amalekites, including men, women,the infants, sucklings, asses, ox, sheep and camels. God punishes David for dallying with Bathsheba by killing David's son. You know what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. And we don't even have to mention how humans were punished during the Flood. Plus he punished the Egyptians by killing their first born (even the first born animals!) and drowned the Egyptian army for chasing after the Jews.

    Heaven and Hell, though, are largely absent from the OT, and aren't like Heaven and Hell in the NT.

    Question 2: You did better, Leah, this time. It took you a little while until you found your way to Rom 3:25 – "because in [God's] forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished."

    So at his discretion, God let sins slide in the OT. You could get away with all sorts of mischief. Then, through faith in the blood of Jesus (his crucifixion), God started the practice of sending sinful people to Hell.

    Before Jesus, God's punishments included tumors and piles and plagues, getting stoned to death, drowning, etc. The dead remained dead. After Jesus, lots of dead people burn forever in Hell.

    As bad as it was in the OT, it might be preferable to be stoned to death, or drown, than to suffer in everlasting Hell.

  28. Um, delusional much? You brought Hitler up, and you KEEP talking about him. My statement you took out of context, the rest of my post said God would judge him, I can't. I merely gave my opinion that I think Hitler was not saved, but I made it clear it was just my opinion and it was God's decision where Hitler goes. I am pretty sure I can still have an opinion, unless the Thought Police have been formed and you have appointed yourself their leader.

    This would be tons of pictures of Hitler with one Muslim leader, to clarify. My point was a picture of Hitler in front of a Christian church does no more to prove Hitler's beliefs more than a picture of him with a Muslim.
    http://www.tellthechildrenthetruth.com/gallery/
    http://www.thefirstorlast.com/NAZI-and-ISLAM.html
    http://www.solomonia.com/wordpress/wp-content/upl
    http://ivarfjeld.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/hitl
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_WFPbsM4_T7A/THDYabiOkQI

    I still say God calls to everyone, and people can call out to God. Why does it have to be either/or for you? God calls to everyone, some accept and call out to Him, some don't. He wants everyone to be saved, but many will choose not to be. Many will reject His offer and do things their own way. That's in the Bible. Read a Bible if you want to know God's plan, He can explain it better than I can. But He also says His ways are not our ways, so you may not be able to comprehend everything He does. I just don't argue it, I trust His judgement. If you have any more questions about God or His plan of salvation, you can go to the Bible for answers. I am not going to tell you what you want to hear just so you stop insulting me. God's word is what it is. Argue with Him. Ask Him about Hitler and where he went, that is not in my jurisdiction. I've already stated my OPINION on the matter.

    Joshua: I am sorry to tell you this, but Nathan said he is leaving this site and never coming back because he thinks you are stupid. I don't think that qualifies as a "productive conversation." :)

  29. Just a thought…is it very wise to go on a public forum on the internet and call people names, spew venom at them for their religious beliefs, and insult them while giving a link to your own website where you offer a touring service? It's not very good PR and could be bad for business…just sayin'

  30. I guess that could be true, but why wouldn't you just call yourself "anonymous" and use a fake email instead of lying and stealing someone's name, email, and website? But yeah, I guess it's possible…

  31. Nope I didn't project anything, I believed Dave was who he said he was, which is why I thought it unwise for him to be advertising his business to people he was condemning to hell. Joshua gave the possibility that Dave might not be who he said he was, which could have easily been the case.

    I am a woman with children which is why I will stay anonymous. It is fairly easy to find people on the internet these days, and after being told on this site that I am of the devil, evil, damned to hell and numerous other insults you are darn right I will not reveal myself completely to strange angry men online! There are lots of crazies out there! I tell my kids to do the same, it's basic internet security. I do say what I believe though, why wouldn't I under anonymity? Believe me or don't, it really doesn't matter. I come here for research, information, and perspective from Mormons outside of my family. What I usually get is insulted, except by Joshua, which is the only reason I still ask him questions and come on here. So I agree with you there.

  32. I'm not sure who you think you are to INTENTIONALLY use my name to confuse or prove a point.

    You do nothing but cause further confusion and propagation for lying when you can get away with it. That is neither Christian of you, or secularly moral for you.

    It it was Dave, then shame on you. You are hurting your own cause and acting childish.

    If it was Joshua (as per the "I have to admit has been very civil in his posts and responses." comment, which I wouldn't classify as being correct) then you are being presumptuous and self serving. Shame on you.

    I kept my subscription to here because I found it humorous how you guys argued yourselves into corners. Both sides. Or rather, all three sides…

    Joshua and Leah. I do not say that there is no God. I say that there is no reasonable piece of evidence that gives the claim any validity passed the accuracy of a guess or wishful thinking.

    Dave. You seem to be just arguing for the sake of arguing. I don't even know what point you're ever trying to make. You even ARGUED about the semantic definition of agnostic where it had no change on the outcome of any discussion. If you want to consider me an atheist or not is you're call. It makes no difference to me.

    I don't care who you are or where you're from or what you've seen. ANY personal experience is subjective and therefore not even a TYPE of proof. If you, Joshua, really want to call it "subjective proof" then go for it, as long as you will not claim it to be actual proof, conclusive proof, or fact. You don't have the luxury of redefining the tenants and structure of established logic, reason, and science. It's just not how it works.

    Proof is a scientific word used to define the state of knowledge we have about a particular claim. If you have faith, then that's one thing. Faith needs no proof. Faith can not give you proof. No part of faith can be a piece of what becomes proof.

    Proof comes from repeatable objective falsifiable testing. The test that you gave me is not falsifiable. If there is no God, and therefore no afterlife, then if you died you'd still never know. It COULD prove it right, but it could not prove it wrong. Therefore, it is not a falsifiable test. Same thing with your needing to wait longer than 20 years. If there is no time limit, then that test can never prove it wrong. It would be a waste of my time to consider waiting longer than the bulk of my life. You'd feel the same way about ANY other religion other than your own. It's how reasonable people make objective and fact based decisions.

    Now, Joshua, please explain to me how your proof of God came to be, so I can show you that it was completely subjective, therefore not an actual proof. It was an experience (or a continuing experience).

  33. @Leah "Joshua gave the possibility that Dave might not be who he said he was, which could have easily been the case."

    I'm not sure what you're referring to…?

    @Nathan "I’m not sure who you think you are to INTENTIONALLY use my name to confuse or prove a point."

    Maybe it's because I haven't followed every single comment on here, but I have no idea what you're talking about so I don't think I'm the person who did whatever it is has been done.

    "I do not say that there is no God. I say that there is no reasonable piece of evidence that gives the claim any validity passed the accuracy of a guess or wishful thinking."

    I agree with you there. Or at least I think your perspective is logical, given your experience.

    "Joshua, really want to call it “subjective proof” then go for it, as long as you will not claim it to be actual proof, conclusive proof, or fact."

    Fair enough. I never have called my own experiences conclusive proof, by which I take it you mean what I would mean by objective proof. Of course my experiences are fact to me, but I don't expect anyone else to accept them as fact without their own evidence. The more I think about our discussions the more I think we've been arguing semantics more than anything else.

    "Proof comes from repeatable objective falsifiable testing. The test that you gave me is not falsifiable. If there is no God, and therefore no afterlife, then if you died you’d still never know. It COULD prove it right, but it could not prove it wrong. Therefore, it is not a falsifiable test. "

    Hehe, yes, I see your point.

    "please explain to me how your proof of God came to be, so I can show you that it was completely subjective, therefore not an actual proof."

    I've never argued that it was anything but subjective. I can see how if you define the word "fact" as something that is a construct of the human mind, then you can say that a subjective experience is not a fact. I use the word fact as merely meaning something that is true or real. If God and Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, then I would define that as a fact regardless of whether it can be proven to anyone but Joseph himself. As to whether anyone else should feel the least obligation to accept it as fact, no, I don't see why anyone should, and plenty of reasons why they shouldn't. And yet it still seems perfectly logical to me for Joseph Smith to go about claiming it was a fact, because it is a fact to him. Of course the burden of proof is then on him to either prove the matter as fact to others, or to give them a formula by which they can obtain that proof for themselves. I would argue he did provide that formula, but that it only works for those who want what Joseph Smith taught to be true. If you don't really want it to be true, you'll never be given the proof, since that would only needlessly condemn you.

    I guess that's a question I haven't asked you, so just out of curiosity, if you could make "things" (that is, life, the universe, and everything) exactly what you wanted them to be, what would it be? Would you want there to be a God? Would you want to become a god? How would you set everything up if it were up to you?

  34. Facts are not personal. Facts are facts. Opinions are not facts. Someone seemingly, even to themselves, experiencing something does make something a fact. Like my previous example of God blowing the roof off your house and calling you by name. This would not be a fact. There is no way to tell whether or not that was ACTUALLY God without something tangible or testable. Therefore it was not fact. It is NOT considered fact that Joseph Smith saw God. It is NOT a fact that Jesus even existed. You do not understand what fact means. Please learn to use scientific phrases correctly. You don't get to call an experience fact without falsifiable proof. It's plain and simple.

    You didn't answer my question. You danced around it. Try again.

    And what I'd wish for reality to be has no bearing on reality any more than whether or not I wish leprechauns would do my laundry at night.

    It's sad to see you honestly think that personal opinion on reality has any bearing on it. Well, all our views are valid, aren't they? No, they don't. It depends on the evidence. If someone is making a factual statement, that is, a statement in which they are claiming something to be a fact, then there is evidence bearing on it. That means that personal opinion, which is not informed by evidence, is not of interest.

  35. Again, I think we're arguing semantics. If something really happened, but nobody knows about it, is it a fact that it happened?

    "Someone seemingly, even to themselves, experiencing something does make something a fact."

    For the sake of argument, let's assume there is a God, of the Mormon sort. And let's suppose he wanted to prove to the entire world that he exists. How could he do it? Even if he came down in a flaming chariot in front of everyone in the world, that still wouldn't be proof in your book, right? So what would it take for you to accept the existence of God as fact?

    "You didn’t answer my question. You danced around it. Try again."

    You said you only wanted the answer so that you could show me that it's completely subjective. I already admit that, so why do you care what the answer is?

    "And what I’d wish for reality to be has no bearing on reality any more than whether or not I wish leprechauns would do my laundry at night."

    I didn't say it did, I'm just curious to know what you want to be true. If you don't want to talk about that then that's fine.

    "It’s sad to see you honestly think that personal opinion on reality has any bearing on it."

    I don't. Once again you misunderstand what I say and make assumptions about what I believe. Hopefully you're keeping track of all these instances, because by the time we're through you should have a completely different idea of what I believe than when we started.

  36. "Again, I think we’re arguing semantics. If something really happened, but nobody knows about it, is it a fact that it happened?"
    -It is not considered fact. Something becomes fact once it can be tested and is falsifiable. If there is no way to prove that it didn't happen, then by extension of the same logic, you cannot be certain that it did happen. Anything is possible, but that doesn't mean everything is possible. The more extraordinary the claim, like the existence of a God, the more extraordinary the evidence must be (even to you). It's not a matter of convincing. It's a matter of proving. Facts are proven.

    "For the sake of argument, let’s assume there is a God"
    -No. I won't assume there is a god. That's my whole point.

    "How could he do it?"
    -It is not my job to tell you how you should prove your claims that you define as fact. The point is that none of them can happen or it's conveniently "not in his nature".

    Actually, I just thought of one. Be able to predict something with greater accuracy that we, as mere humans, can do with our logic (math and physics). This means physically predict something. For example, we can use math and physics to predict where a planet will be after a certain amount of time, but we can only do it to a finite amount of accuracy (We're pretty damn close to perfectly accurate with what we use now). God should know the position of everything, in every time, at any time. This can not be a single event, as math and physics can be consistently accurate every time. (You'll notice that none of God's prophecies never have dates or times on them… that's mighty convenient.) If God is all powerful, and you have a direct line of contact with Him, than He would be able to tell you which prediction would work the best.

    "You said you only wanted the answer so that you could show me that it’s completely subjective. I already admit that, so why do you care what the answer is?"
    -I quote you "Of course my experiences are fact to me". This is why. You honestly think that what happened to you was convincing enough to be considered a universal fact for everyone. That God exists. And you have already agreed that all our senses are fallible without a falsifiable test, so you think you were communicated to directly through a supernatural dimension (that you have no evidence for).

    "I didn’t say it did, I’m just curious to know what you want to be true. If you don’t want to talk about that then that’s fine."
    -It simply isn't relevant to the conversation.

    "Hopefully you’re keeping track of all these instances, because by the time we’re through you should have a completely different idea of what I believe than when we started."
    -I hope so. I currently think you are a misinformed person who can't see the forest through the trees. So caught up in the fantasy of what you would like, that you can't look at your own claims critically, and therefor assume the truth of things that have no place in objective reality.

    -You still haven't answered my question.

  37. Jashua: "If something really happened, but nobody knows about it, is it a fact that it happened?"

    If something "really" happened, then it happened. Without anyone knowing about what happened, though, excludes what happened from the dictionary definition of what constitutes a fact. I guess you can make up meanings for any word your want, though. It just makes it difficult to carry on a conversation.

    “Someone seemingly, even to themselves, experiencing something does make something a fact.”

    It makes "something" a fact to the person who experienced the something. The something, of course, could be a traffic accident, reading a book, or a delusional or a drug induced vision of God.

    That last wouldn't mean the someone saw God, only that he thought he saw God. Just like it would be a fact that someone saw what he thought was football player on TV score a touchdown, when what "really happened" in fact was an illusion of a touchdown because of the camera angle.

  38. @Nathan – "It is not considered fact. Something becomes fact once it can be tested and is falsifiable. If there is no way to prove that it didn’t happen, then by extension of the same logic, you cannot be certain that it did happen. Anything is possible, but that doesn’t mean everything is possible. The more extraordinary the claim, like the existence of a God, the more extraordinary the evidence must be (even to you). It’s not a matter of convincing. It’s a matter of proving. Facts are proven."

    From the dictionary for "fact"

    1. something that actually exists; reality; truth.

    2. something known to exist or to have happened.

    3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true.

    4. something said to be true or supposed to have happened.

    By all these definitions of the word "fact" I would say that my knowledge that God exists is a fact. We can argue the semantics of the word fact, but that's not really the point of the debate, is it? I say that I know that God exists. If I'm correct then your argument has been that I cannot know that God exists. I say it is illogical to make such a claim, since you do not possess all knowledge and therefore you cannot know whether or not I know that God exists, nor can you logically claim that God does not exist. All you can logically claim is that you do not know whether or not God exists, and that it is your opinion based on the evidence available to you that God doesn't exist and that anyone who thinks he does is misled.

    "You honestly think that what happened to you was convincing enough to be considered a universal fact for everyone. "

    Once again, you misunderstand me. It seems like after so many misunderstandings you might want to reconsider a lot of your other preconceived notions about what Mormons believe. You have many fundamental and critical misunderstandings about Mormon doctrine, such that the "Mormon religion" you criticize can't reasonably be considered the same religion as the one that actually exists.

    I have never thought nor said anything that should be construed as me thinking that what I've experienced should be considered a universal fact for anyone, let alone everyone, else.

    "-You still haven’t answered my question."

    Let's see…which question was that exactly? Part of the problem is that I often answer your questions with my own questions, the idea being that by answering my question you answer your own, or that a direct answer would not be sufficient for clarity and therefore my question attempts to bring clarity to my understanding of yours. The problem with all this is that it makes it hard to scan back through and figure out what questions have ultimately been answered and which haven't.

  39. @Dave

    "If something “really” happened, then it happened. Without anyone knowing about what happened, though, excludes what happened from the dictionary definition of what constitutes a fact. I guess you can make up meanings for any word your want, though. It just makes it difficult to carry on a conversation."

    See dictionary definitions above, but yes, not knowing what the other means by a word does make communication difficult. I think my usage of the word "fact" is in line with the dictionary definitions above, but if you don't, then I guess we'll just have to avoid that word and explain what we mean in its place.

    "It makes “something” a fact to the person who experienced the something. The something, of course, could be a traffic accident, reading a book, or a delusional or a drug induced vision of God. That last wouldn’t mean the someone saw God, only that he thought he saw God. Just like it would be a fact that someone saw what he thought was football player on TV score a touchdown, when what “really happened” in fact was an illusion of a touchdown because of the camera angle."

    The real question is whether anyone can know anything, isn't it? And thus we get into the debate over absolute knowledge. I will claim that absolute knowledge is not only real, but that God can grant or communicate absolute knowledge to a human, and that he does on a regular basis. This cannot be disputed logically as a possibility by anyone who does not believe there is any such thing as absolute knowledge, for to do so would contradict their very argument. If someone claims to have absolute knowledge that God cannot communicate absolute knowledge, or that God does not exist, the burden of proof would be upon them to prove a negative, at least if they expect anyone to accept what they say. Although I claim to have absolute knowledge given to me by God, I do not claim that anyone should believe what I say based on my claim alone. I do claim that if God exists, and if God has given me absolute knowledge, and if that absolute knowledge can only be obtained from God and only after one exercises faith in Him, then I am acting in a manner that would be logical for one who had enjoyed such an experience and had such knowledge. One might think I'm crazy, but still admit the logic of my arguments and behavior.

  40. "From the dictionary for “fact”
    1. something that actually exists; reality; truth.
    2. something known to exist or to have happened.
    3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true.
    4. something said to be true or supposed to have happened."
    -I'm Sorry Joshua, but I simply won't let you get away with interpreting these definitions any way you wish.
    1. something that actually exists; reality; truth. – Meaning you are claiming the thing you call fact to literally have happened and it is true (This does not allow room for MAYBE it's not true).
    2. something known to exist or to have happened. – Again, to call something fact with this definition, you are saying something literally happened with a high degree of certainty. They don't use the word think or opinion. They say KNOWN to exist.
    3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true. -Notice it says KNOWN to be true. It doesn't say assumed to be true.
    4. something said to be true or supposed to have happened. – Again, with this definition you are claiming something to be true. To claim that something is true, you can't be making assumptions, else you can't actually have knowledge that said thing is true.

    "that it is your opinion based on the evidence available to you"
    -Opinion is not based on evidence. Opinions are based on subjection. Facts are based on evidence.

    "Once again, you misunderstand me. It seems like after so many misunderstandings you might want to reconsider a lot of your other preconceived notions about what Mormons believe. You have many fundamental and critical misunderstandings about Mormon doctrine, such that the “Mormon religion” you criticize can’t reasonably be considered the same religion as the one that actually exists."
    -What am I misunderstand here? First of all, I was Mormon for 20 years. Stop saying my knowledge on the matter is simple and preconceived. Second, the universal truth I was saying that you are stating with this fact that you claim is that God exists. Are you trying to say that you don't think God exists for all people? I'm sorry to say, but the LDS doctrine does claim to know of God's existence and that that existence is fact for everyone. With this claim to knowledge, it is not unreasonable for someone to ask for the proof of such a claim. Otherwise, you are in the same boat as every other religion.

    "I have never thought nor said anything that should be construed as me thinking that what I’ve experienced should be considered a universal fact for anyone, let alone everyone, else."
    -I'm curious. What kind of a God do you worship? I'm pretty sure that when i was in the church, the God I worshiped was a God that literally existed (upon my false assumptions) and was in literal existence for everyone. This would be a universal fact.

    -You still didn't answer my question. The question was what experience happened that gave you such unquestioningly strong convictions in your claim to say that it is a FACT that God exists. Please, tell us of this experience that was so clear, that there is no room for reasonable doubt.

  41. "I will claim that absolute knowledge is not only real, but that God can grant or communicate absolute knowledge to a human, and that he does on a regular basis."

    -Then take me up on my test that I offer as sufficient.

  42. I did not post that last post by "Leah." It's awesome to see grown adults acting like 8 year olds, so while we are at it: your mom has a mustache!

  43. The last statement made by an 'Anthony Despain' is not me.

    To whomever this is, you are a coward and your statement has no validity here. Perhaps in your miserable life you will earn respect for yourself and others.

    Joshua, please remove this person from your website.

  44. Hey – I'm the only person here who has been willing to say who he is, and it should be easy to see if I'm me. I'd say I'm with Anthony and Nathan on condemning bogus comments. But at this point, I don't know if what they are posting is in their words or not.

    I have a question: Joshua, are you Joshua? Because after more comments than I can keep in my head, I think you've lost it a bit now.

    “I have never thought nor said anything that should be construed as me thinking that what I’ve experienced should be considered a universal fact for anyone, let alone everyone, else.”

    That makes it difficult to carry on this discussion. You are claiming something the other people claim, that is that they hear voices in their heads. I don't know if you're crazy – you don't seem to be – but I'm not sure you'd ever win converts with your line of thought.

    You never got around to answering my questions about morality, or lack of it, either. Oh, well.

    • Well everyone, guess who was doing the impersonating? Turns out it was Dave, who alternatively impersonated me, Anthony, Leah, and Nathan. I'll go ahead and delete all his posts wherein he impersonated someone else. And he has now been banned from the blog.

  45. Thank you Joshua, he was throwing us all into a bit of confusion as to who was really saying what. Very sad that he has nothing better to do, obviously business is NOT doing very well for him just as I imagined. :)

    He is gone now so it probably has no benefit to answer his question any further, but I will do it anyway just to finish it up in case he is interested in reading it…

    The verses I gave in answer to "where people went before Jesus" clearly explained that Abraham, a person alive before Jesus, was judged on his faith, not his righteousness. Faith is what credited him righteousness, and then it was stated that those with faith would have their "sins covered" indicating they were saved. That is how God judged men as I have reiterated, by what is in their hearts. It's the same today, if you have a faith in God (Jesus/God are one in the same to Christians) to save you, that determines where God sends people yesterday and today. Faith in the one true God. The point is also reiterated in James 2, where he explains that Rahab the prostitute was saved by her faith, (her faith was exhibited in her actions by caring for and loving her neighbor as herself.) She was a prostitute, so it definitely was not her "righteousness" or works that saved her. God knew her heart and judged her accordingly. James also restates the point of Abraham's faith being shown by his love in action for others. The word used in the Bible is "works" or "deeds," but if you read the whole chapter in it's context (very important) you will see that James is referring to caring and loving for our fellow man that stems from a faith in God.

    This was all off topic anyway thanks to good ol' Dave and his shenanigans, so I will end now on this note so you all can continue to discuss the topic at hand.

  46. Leah, this is a little old, you said "So yes, that is what Christianity is about, scape goating. And it’s biblical. That is God’s offer to accept or reject. If you think it is “immoral” take it up with God, it was His plan and His idea, not mine."

    My point is that, yes, this is what is taught. This is also immoral and a means of control, unless given by a deity (in which case it would still be immoral and about control, just with divine permission). It gives one the mentality that you have an out. It's a loop hole.

    The concept of a faith based religious system is also a poor system of morality. Suppose you feel like your life isn't going well and you seek divine help. If you pray for help and then don't feel like you received an answer or still feel overwhelmed, what is Christ's advice? Humble yourself. Humble yourself more and more and more. Give more of yourself to him. Think less about the world around you and just feel him. Just trust him. Trust only him. Feel his love. If you don't feel his love all around you, then humble yourself before him even more.

    This is a system of brainwashing and thought control. You can even be convicted of thought crime. It's totalitarianism. It's the wish to be a slave.

    I want to be clear about something. I don't think that I am an atheist because I'm smarter or that you're dumb or anything like that. And I don't think it's an intentional wish to be a slave. I don't think it's thought of like that by the person, but it's why depression rates are higher among the religious (especially LDS, as this is a key piece of their doctrine about feeling the spirit). I lived it. I was in the middle of it for years and years and years. I didn't realize what I was doing until I saw the reason and logical side of what was going on.

    If there is no actual evidence for this God, no actual physical reason, no shred of verifiable evidence, why would you want to assume that it's true? It's a master-slave relationship.

    With so much evidence indicating that the Bible isn't true word for word (As I feel any truly divinely inspired literary work should be) why would you assume that any of it is true, or even intrinsically good?

  47. "Suppose you feel like your life isn’t going well and you seek divine help. If you pray for help and then don’t feel like you received an answer or still feel overwhelmed, what is Christ’s advice? Humble yourself. Humble yourself more and more and more. Give more of yourself to him. Think less about the world around you and just feel him. Just trust him. Trust only him. Feel his love. If you don’t feel his love all around you, then humble yourself before him even more."

    I can't speak for what Leah believes, but this isn't what I've been taught in the LDS Church nor what I believe.

    "If there is no actual evidence for this God, no actual physical reason, no shred of verifiable evidence, why would you want to assume that it’s true? It’s a master-slave relationship."

    I agree. I wouldn't live the way I do if no evidence had been presented to me.

  48. Where do you draw your standard of morality/immorality from? What is "immorality" to you?

    If there is no God and no set standard or divine law by which morality is measured, how can you continue to say what is immoral? What is "good?" If it is by a certain governments standard or a leader's standard or even your own standard, than it is all relative. Without God there are no moral absolutes, only human relativism which usually leads down an extremely "immoral" road by anyone's standard…

    I do know there are studies that have been done showing Utah as the state with the highest level of depression cases and the largest prozac use because of the LDS population, but I have never heard these statistics about Christians. Do you have any data/statistics showing that Christians have a high level of depression also?

  49. @Joshua

    "I can’t speak for what Leah believes, but this isn’t what I’ve been taught in the LDS Church nor what I believe."

    D&C 67:10 Humble yourselves before me and you shall see me and know that I am.

    D&C 112:10 Be thou humble and the Lord shall give thee answer to thy prayers.

    D&C 136:32 Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself.

    D&C 136:33 The Spirit is sent forth to enlighten the humble.

    Alma 5:27–28 Have ye been sufficiently humble?

    1 Pet. 5:5–6 (2 Ne. 9:42) God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

    2 Ne. 33:15 thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey

    D&C 84:44 live by every word that proceeds from God

    Alma 13:28 be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming submissive

    Mosiah 3:19 natural man is enemy to God unless he becomes as child, submissive, willing to submit to all things

    Matt. 18:4 Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven

    Deut. 8:2 God led thee forty years in the wilderness to humble thee.

    3 Ne. 9:20 offer for sacrifice to Christ broken heart and contrite spirit

    D&C 56:17 wo unto poor whose hearts are not broken and spirits are not contrite,

    D&C 56:18 blessed are poor whose hearts are broken and spirits are contrite

    D&C 97:8 all whose hearts are broken and whose spirits are contrite are accepted of the Lord

    D&C 38:22 Wherefore, hear my voice and follow me, and you shall be a free people, and ye shall have no laws but my laws when I come, for I am your lawgiver

    D&C 56:2 (D&C 112:14) he who will not take up cross and follow the Lord will not be saved

    Whether you want to accept it or not, it is what the church teaches. It's also the advice you gave me, in a round about way. Saying that God must want to test me more to make sure I REALLY want to obey him. If 20 years wasn't enough, then He must have wanted to humble me for 30 years, right?

    "I agree. I wouldn’t live the way I do if no evidence had been presented to me."

    -You still haven't answered my question. You claim to have evidence, but still have not presented any.

    @Leah

    The extensive study, “Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religi-osity and Secularism in the Prosperous Demo-cracies,”

    The extract of the paper sums it up nicely, so I'll directly quote it.

    "In this article, we report the results of a study examining the relationship between a nation’s religiosity and its “moral health.” The received wisdom would lead one to predict a positive correlation between national religiosity and national moral health — as one goes up the other goes up. In fact, that appears not to be the case, and the example of the United States is most striking; Americans are among the most religious people in the Western world, and yet we have among the highest rates of homicide, abortion, and teen pregnancies. To the extent that these measures are related to something that might be called “national moral health,” the intuitive thesis that links religiosity to morality would seem to be gainsaid. "

    If religion is the only way to be moral, than this would not have been the result of the study. Where do we get our morals from? Reason, logic, and experience. It's not difficult to do what you feel would best propagate the human race while decreasing all the suffering that you can.

    Slavery is immoral. The Christian God is not really against slavery, however. In fact, he gives instructions as to how to trade slaves.

    (Leviticus 25:44-46) "However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way."

    Or how to beat them

    (Exodus 21:20-21) "When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property."

    There are lots more references like this, but I won't go into them. My point is that you (or at least I hope you do) find slavery immoral. How do you know? God says it's ok, as long as you follow the rules about it.

    Without God's moral code (which I find very morally buggy) we can continually change and better it to further collaborate with different cultures and philosophies. There are some good things in the christian moral code and some that aren't so good. There are some great Buddhist and Taoist morals and some that aren't. There are some modern philosophers that have some great insight into morality. Etc. Atheists don't lack a moral code, we just get ours from the best of lots of places.

    • "Whether you want to accept it or not, it is what the church teaches. It’s also the advice you gave me, in a round about way. Saying that God must want to test me more to make sure I REALLY want to obey him. If 20 years wasn’t enough, then He must have wanted to humble me for 30 years, right?"

      Ok, I reread what you wrote and while technically correct, the tone is quite different than the way I've ever been taught or the way I believe. You make it sound like God wants us to debase ourselves, think of ourselves as miserable creatures deserving of nothing, and grovel before him. Maybe that isn't the way you intended it to come across, but that's how it comes across to me.

      "You claim to have evidence, but still have not presented any."

      I don't claim to have evidence, I claim to have been presented with evidence. I do not know how to share the evidence that has been presented to me. All I can do is tell people I've received evidence, and tell them the steps I took to get it.

  50. @Leah

    Sorry, I was unable to again find the study that discussed the rate of depression among Christians. I relinquish the argument until I can track it down again.

  51. "I don’t claim to have evidence, I claim to have been presented with evidence. I do not know how to share the evidence that has been presented to me. All I can do is tell people I’ve received evidence, and tell them the steps I took to get it."

    -Let me rephrase my question then. Please tell me of the evidence you received and why you find it to be credible.

    "Ok, I reread what you wrote and while technically correct, the tone is quite different than the way I’ve ever been taught or the way I believe. You make it sound like God wants us to debase ourselves, think of ourselves as miserable creatures deserving of nothing, and grovel before him. Maybe that isn’t the way you intended it to come across, but that’s how it comes across to me."

    -It doesn't matter how it comes across. For someone who doesn't take things on word alone, but rests beliefs on things that can be shown and tested, this is how it ends up. Perhaps you never humbled yourself very far because you were satisfied with less evidence than I am.

    "D&C 67:10 Humble yourselves before me and you shall see me and know that I am."

    Are you insinuating that I was not humble enough?

    "D&C 136:32 Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself."

    Again, did i not humble myself enough?

    I humbled myself beyond the point of deep deep depression.

    "D&C 97:8 all whose hearts are broken and whose spirits are contrite are accepted of the Lord"

    I lowered myself to as broken hearted and contrite as I could. I did it for years, honestly asking with an open heart whether it was true or not. Sometimes I had a little good feeling after praying or reading, but nothing that I would call evidence now that I'm aware of the scientific method, how it works, and why it works.

    I followed the commandments, I read the scriptures, I went to church, I prayed several times a day, I repented for anything and everything.

    So, tell me. What part of the formula did I leave out?

  52. "Please tell me of the evidence you received and why you find it to be credible."

    It's knowledge delivered by the Holy Ghost. How to describe it? I don't know. I could use all sorts of words, but they would be describing symptoms of knowing and ancillary feelings associated with the process, but not the knowledge itself. I've thought about this quite a bit and I can't come up with an analogy or example that is completely accurate. There's that cliche analogy about salt, and how one can't tell another what salt tastes like, but they still know what it tastes like, but that analogy has its faults, because you could come up with some philosophical argument to claim that I don't really know what salt tastes like. But the knowledge I have of the existence of God and the truth of the gospel as taught by the LDS Church is something I can be sure of, because within the communication itself is the ability to know that one's mind isn't being tricked, that the knowledge one has is absolute knowledge. How? Again, I don't know how to describe it, there's nothing to describe, that's just how it is.

    "So, tell me. What part of the formula did I leave out?"

    I don't know. I don't know your heart, I don't know your mind any more than what you've shared with me. My theory is that you didn't want the gospel to be true, and you found the evidence you needed to give you a logical foundation for the type of life you really wanted to live.

  53. "My theory is that you didn’t want the gospel to be true."

    -Nope. I sure wanted it to be true. I wanted it to be true very very badly. Like I said, I gave 20 years to the church.

    "You found the evidence you needed to give you a logical foundation for the type of life you really wanted to live."

    -Yup. Once I looked at everything objectively, as opposed to apologetically, things made much more sense. Things fell into line much clearer. My observable surroundings matched what science claims it is. There isn't any need to believe things without (real) evidence. I am much happier since I left. It simply makes more sense.

    "The knowledge I have of the existence of God and the truth of the gospel as taught by the LDS Church is something I can be sure of, because within the communication itself is the ability to know that one’s mind isn’t being tricked, that the knowledge one has is absolute knowledge. "

    -Hahaha!!!! Good one. I'll be giggling about that one for a while. You really helped me prove my point.

    Though I would love to find someone who can show me God, I simply won't be able to from you. If you are going to let things like this pass as reasonable, then we cannot have a reasonable discussion. Besides, there is no amount of logic or evidence that would change your mind. I really wish you could've shown me some convincing evidence or develop a reasonable philosophical claim to change my mind, but alas.

    Cherrio. Probably won't hear from me again unless I see something better researched, less subjective, and more rational.

    • "Once I looked at everything objectively, as opposed to apologetically, things made much more sense. Things fell into line much clearer. My observable surroundings matched what science claims it is. There isn’t any need to believe things without (real) evidence. I am much happier since I left. It simply makes more sense."

      The funny thing is that this is exactly how I feel about remaining an active member of the LDS Church. When I look at things as taught by the Church, things make more sense than they do if I ignore them. Things fall into line much clearer. My observable surroundings, and science, match what I've been taught and what I believe as a result of my religion. I have real evidence. I can't imagine being happier leaving, and I don't know anyone who has left who is happier. Oh, I know they say they're happier, but to me they seem bitter, angry, hurt, and resentful. They give me no credible evidence of being happier. For me, the Church simply makes more sense. Based on our conversations, I think a lot of the issue is simply that you don't understand Church doctrines. There must have been 20 or 30 instances in our conversations where I had to wonder whether we were talking about the same religion, because what you thought the Church taught and what the Church actually teaches diverge so widely from one another.

      "Hahaha!!!! Good one. I’ll be giggling about that one for a while. You really helped me prove my point."

      You can laugh, but you have no logical foundation for claiming that what I'm saying isn't true. You can say you think it's not true, you can express an opinion, but as you yourself have admitted, you have no proof that my claim is false. I freely admit I cannot prove to you that it is true, but I have all the proof I need for myself that it is and there's no evidence you can provide to prove otherwise to me because all you've got is science, which is a long ways away from having all the answers about life and this universe. God knows everything, and he gives us shortcuts to get the knowledge that matters most. But he only gives the knowledge on a subjective basis so that we have to develop a one on one relationship with him and we don't end up depending on anyone else. It is perfectly rational and logical for God to set things up in such a way that I cannot prove to you that God exists, and so that you can only know if he exists if you really want to for the right reasons. That's how agency/choice is maintained. Any other method would destroy agency and not allow you to prove to yourself what kind of life you really want to live.

  54. Hehe. Whatever you say. Here's a game for you. You have three contradictions and at least 2 logical fallacies in your previous reply. See if you can find them! In the mean time, have a good life!

  55. I'm afraid I'm too lazy to try and figure out what you believe to be contradictions and logical fallacies, because in the past whenever you've made such claims you've merely misunderstood what I was saying.

  56. "If religion is the only way to be moral, than this would not have been the result of the study. Where do we get our morals from? Reason, logic, and experience."

    This is still completely relative. I think we can see just from the conversation between you and Joshua that everyone has different reason, logic, and experience. What may be moral to you is not moral to another. There is a group called NAMBLA who likes to have sex with little boys, and they find it completely moral to the point where they would like it legalized. Do you find this to be moral? Well, they do. They think it's perfectly natural. Relativism does not work. Maybe I think it's justified and moral if I go shoot someone in the face, who are you to say it's wrong? Is your reasoning and logic better than mine? If so, why?

    As for the slave argument, the word "slave" was used differently in biblical times…people actually sold themselves into "slavery" when they had debts or needed to earn a living. Sometimes being a "slave" was akin to being an employee and it had more benefits. Most were not forced into the employment. and it was a way of life which is why those laws were needed for the Israelites.

    Here are a few articles with links to studies with statistics showing that people who believe in God are less depressed, commit suicide less, and even commit less crime. If you want to go into the numbers of people murdered by atheists throughout history as opposed to people who believe in a higher power, atheists lose there too.

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/believers-bette

    http://godandscience.org/apologetics/religion_as_

    http://www.adherents.com/misc/religion_suicide.ht

    When you believe in a God that you must answer too, it affects your behavior. You speak of humility like it is a bad thing. Being humble is not "immoral," I'd say people who are humble are usually more moral. Do you think being prideful, arrogant, and stubborn are better alternatives to being humble? Would more people be better off being prideful, arrogant, and stubborn? I think not.

    As for being happier out of the church, sorry Joshua, I AM more happy, free, and alive than I ever was under the bondage of Mormonism whether you believe it or not. But "happy" is just a feeling that can come and go, and you cannot base your life on whatever fleeting feeling you have…I'd say I have peace and rest. Even if I have a bad day and I don't feel "happy," I am at peace ALWAYS. It comes from the confidence and security in my relationship with Jesus, not a church or men ruling it or religious rituals. That inner peace does not come and go like a feeling of "happiness," it is there constantly. My soul is at rest.

  57. As for your answer to all of your praying and seeking Nathan, you did get the answer. It was to get out of Mormonism. Mormons know there are 2 answers to the prayer of "is this book and/or church true," but they can't seem to grasp that the answer they have all received is the wrong one…

  58. I'd like to make one last point on the studies of depression/behavior of "religious" people…just because people engage in outward acts of religion does not mean they are "good" people or that they believe in God at all. There are many "religious" people who do everything pious on the outside like go to church and seemingly follow the commandments (I say seemingly because no one has followed the commandments fully), but in their hearts they are frauds. God will judge the heart, not your outward appearance.

    So if there was a study showing "religious" people have problems with depression, they are still human so big deal. They still have problems resulting from SIN. Christians are not perfect, they struggle with sin like everyone else, and any sin causes depression. We just have hope, peace, and forgiveness through Jesus, because ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, so we recognize our need for a savior. That is where the humility comes in, just admitting that we have broken the law and ask forgiveness instead of pridefully acting perfect. I don't see how that humility causes any harm, I'd say its just getting rid of denial. The studies also don't pinpoint born again Christians as the subjects, it's "religious people." This includes Mormons who have high rates of depression due to the stringent demands of the religion and the constant striving for perfection and godhood. Christians don't strive for that whatsoever, so the demands are not the same.

  59. "There is a group called NAMBLA who likes to have sex with little boys, and they find it completely moral to the point where they would like it legalized. Do you find this to be moral?"

    -Of course not. And I'd like to point out that morality isn't defined as "things you like to do". Give people a little more credit than that.

    "The word “slave” was used differently in biblical times"

    -I don't think it's ever moral to call another human being your property, but if you want to justify it that way, here are some different examples.

    If a son is disobedient, stone him to death.

    Deuteronomy 21:18-21 "18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

    19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

    20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

    21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear."

    Prostitution is punished by burning the woman to death

    Leviticus 21:9 "If a priest's daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she also defiles her father's holiness, and she must be burned to death."

    Murder of 42 children

    2 Kings 2:23-24 "And he [Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them."

    Christ says to kill those who don't believe in him as their king.

    Luke 19:27: "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me."

    My point isn't that you think this is moral. It's that you know this is not moral, despite it having being said of by "God". Meaning you have a moral code that is separate from "what god told you". Morality may be somewhat relative, but that does not mean that it must have come from a god. Morals can be explained through cultural memes and evolutionary changes within communities. What actions tend to bring more prosperity tend to be repeated. If things halt or hinder prosperity (like killing or raping, causing distrust among people) then it tends to be avoided.

    "As for your answer to all of your praying and seeking Nathan, you did get the answer."

    -Sorry, but I've tried several sects of Christianity as well as several eastern religions. Sorry to tell you, but they are all ridiculous and offer no more actual evidence than the LDS religion.

    "Do you think being prideful, arrogant, and stubborn are better alternatives to being humble?"

    -Proud? Actually, yes. One should be proud of him or her self. One should be happy to showcase his or her talents for their betterment.

    Arrogant? No. But I also don't think it's true that you are necessarily arrogant if you are not humble.

    Stubborn? Well, that depends on what you're being stubborn about. Are you stubborn about requiring evidence for people who claim something as fact? I think that's moral and good. Are you being stubborn in the face of quantifiable scientific evidence? Probably not as moral.

    Also, I don't think being humble is immoral. I should clarify. Asking someone to humble themselves before you for your acceptance, else you will be punished, is immoral. Requiring humility to receive truthful answers is immoral.

    "Mormons know there are 2 answers to the prayer of “is this book and/or church true,” but they can’t seem to grasp that the answer they have all received is the wrong one…"

    -I'm pretty sure you have no reason why you have the right answer that isn't just as subjective as the Mormon's reason, or doesn't use circular reasoning (like saying the bible tells you so).

    "If you want to go into the numbers of people murdered by atheists throughout history as opposed to people who believe in a higher power, atheists lose there too."

    -Hmmm… this is pretty much not true at all. I'd also like to clarify that counting mere persons who believe something doesn't count. There has never been a case (that I'm aware of. If you can find one, let me know) in which someone killed someone else in the name of atheism. I can tell you COUNTLESS examples of religious people killing in the name of god or because of "divine permission" of God, etc. Most wars are religious in nature. Not all, but a vast majority.

    You had some interesting studies that I will closely look at. On the surface they seem to contradict studies that I've seen, but I will give them just as much weight as mine have if they are well sourced and cited.

  60. On the whole murder issue, I don't think religion or atheism have anything to do with it. There have been people throughout history who have wanted power and who have been willing to murder to get it. Some have used religion as a tool to this end (the crusades, reigns of the popes, etc.), and others have been atheists (Mao, Stalin, etc.). Whether or not they were religious isn't the point–these guys and organizations would have done what they did whether they were religious or not.

  61. That is probably true Joshua, all men can fall prey to the evils of pride and the hunger for power and control.

    "I’m pretty sure you have no reason why you have the right answer that isn’t just as subjective as the Mormon’s reason, or doesn’t use circular reasoning (like saying the bible tells you so)."

    I didn't say my beliefs were right nor was I arguing that, I said there are 2 answers to the Mormon prayer. The answers are either 1. the church is true, or 2. the church isn't true. Mormons get the answer that it is true, and fail to see anyone else as receiving the right answer, whether it be Christians, atheists, or anyone who gets the answer that it is not true. They dismiss anyone else who hasn't received their answer as the one getting the false answer, not themselves.

    "I think that’s moral and good. Are you being stubborn in the face of quantifiable scientific evidence? Probably not as moral."

    Again, this is all relative. "You think." What you think is good is not always what I think is good. Different cultures in different parts of the world "think" certain things are good that we do not. Who's beliefs are superior? And why? People tend to justify their actions for doing things they like to do as being perfectly fine and moral so they do not have guilt, where do you get the idea that it is not? Maybe NAMBLA is right and you are wrong with YOUR view of morality! Who are you to say, is it something inside of you that tells you what is wrong and right? If so where does that come from? Societies basing what is right or wrong by what makes them "proper" does not work either, since different societies function in different ways throughout the world. Which one is right? Our culture embraces abortion as a woman's right and finds it perfectly moral in cases of a woman being raped all the way to a young girl who's college plans would be ruined. I find it to be disgusting, selfish, and murder of innocent babies. Who's view is the "moral" view? Tell me, oh god of this world.

    Without a higher power or God to establish moral absolutes you have no leg to stand on with your subjective view of what is moral. Funny how you argue religious views as subjective and only based on personal experience, when the same can be said for your views on morality. You have made yourself your own god, establishing what is right or wrong based on your own understanding. I guess that is why Mormonism doesn't work for some…becoming a god in the next life just wasn't soon enough? You trust men to do what in your eyes is "good" just "because?" History has shown that men fail time and time again, religious or non-religious alike. I choose to trust God and His standards of what is moral and not mans.

    The Luke verse was taken from a parable, so not exactly Jesus saying "kill those who don't believe in me" like you framed it. As for the rest of the law, God gave his stringent law to the Israelites in order to show them the severity of sin and how a holy God cannot tolerate sin in His presence. It was given to convict them and show them how high the standards were to live with a perfect God, show them they could not attain them due to their sin, thus leading them to accept a savior and God's plan of redemption. I am not under the law, these things do not apply to Gentiles. Although I do not agree with some of them, I understand and trust God and His motives. You trust men and their motives, which have brought about MANY atrocities much worse than what you listed above. Whose way is morally superior, mans or Gods, and why? Is it mans because you "think" so? You use the same subjective evidence you accuse Joshua of.

    For you to dictate what is moral is relative, subjective, and a circular reasoning of its own.

  62. "I didn’t say my beliefs were right nor was I arguing that"

    -Yes you are. You are saying that your "god given" morals are superior to mine.

    "Who’s beliefs are superior? And why?"

    -Who's ever beliefs cause the greatest world prosperity with the least amount of suffering. Of course it's up for rational debate. That will likely never change. That doesn't mean that ANYONE's views are valid. Especially these days, when we have proper technology that can scientifically define how much someone or something is suffering (neuroscience imaging). And again, morality isn't defined as doing what ever you want.

    "Maybe NAMBLA is right and you are wrong with YOUR view of morality! Who are you to say"

    -Who am I not to say that raping little boys is wrong? Just like burning people alive as punishment is wrong. Just like enslaving other persons is wrong. Just like stoning your child to death is wrong. All these things are wrong, always have been wrong (even if commanded by any god), and always will be wrong. They do not create prosperous nations, nor harmonious trusting relationships with each other.

    "Our culture embraces abortion as a woman’s right and finds it perfectly moral in cases of a woman being raped all the way to a young girl who’s college plans would be ruined. I find it to be disgusting, selfish, and murder of innocent babies. Who’s view is the “moral” view?"

    -Of course this is up for debate, and I know plenty of atheists that agree with you and many god fearing persons who don't. It's not very black and white and up for debate with or without god. It comes down to the evidence. When does the cell replication become what you would define as a baby? What are your justifications for that claim? At what point does this baby start to begin to have the ability to suffer? When does it become self aware? Is the mother in danger, should she keep the child? Etc.

    "Without a higher power or God to establish moral absolutes you have no leg to stand on with your subjective view of what is moral. Funny how you argue religious views as subjective and only based on personal experience, when the same can be said for your views on morality."

    -I have plenty "legs" to stand on. I do not base my moral compass on strictly personal experience, nor strictly subjective experience. If I claim a moral point, then I will have empirical, statistical, or psychological evidence to back it up. Although, I will admit, there are some things that I will simply assume (like raping people being generally unpleasant for the victim involved). You are free to disagree if you wish, but i likely won't take you seriously without some evidence to back it up.

    "You have made yourself your own god, establishing what is right or wrong based on your own understanding."

    -Please… let us not reduce this discussion to these types of claims. It's ridiculous to take things to such extremes.

    "You trust men to do what in your eyes is “good” just “because?” "

    -No. Not just because. That would be silly. I've already established several times how I find my morals, and it certainly isn't "just because."

    "The Luke verse was taken from a parable, so not exactly Jesus saying “kill those who don’t believe in me” like you framed it."

    -Hmmm… odd way to end a parable I think, but I'll let it go.

    "As for the rest of the law, God gave his stringent law to the Israelites in order to show them the severity of sin and how a holy God cannot tolerate sin in His presence."

    -So… it's moral for God to do it, but not moral for you to do it?

    "Although I do not agree with some of them, I understand and trust God and His motives."

    -That's my very problem. You will take anything god does as being moral, without critical analysis or rational debate. Even if he destroys whole cities, makes barbaric laws, asks for human sacrifice, condones the murder of children, the sex-slave trading of daughters, etc.

    "You trust men and their motives, which have brought about MANY atrocities much worse than what you listed above. "

    -Like what? Besides, I don't trust ANY man and his motives. I trust well thought out, peer reviewed, philosophies that are subject to debate. I don't believe in moral absolutes. There are likely several optimal ways to achieve a high prosperity in our world with the least amount of suffering.

    "Whose way is morally superior, mans or Gods, and why? Is it mans because you “think” so? You use the same subjective evidence you accuse Joshua of."

    -1. Mans. God's moral code is buggy and lacks a lot of specifics.

    2. No. It is "mans" (not all man's, only man's which has passed reasonable criticism and has evidence backing it up), not because I "think so", but because that is rational. If someone "thinks" they have a better moral code, they are more than welcome to show why they think that way, and leave it up to debate and criticism.

    3. Nope. I wouldn't take on a moral code just because someone says they feel a deep inner feeling that tells them it's right, or because they have a communication with a supernatural dimension, or anything beyond giving evidence.

    "For you to dictate what is moral is relative, subjective, and a circular reasoning of its own."

    -I am not "dictating" it. I don't think I'd have any final word, but I do have a voice in it. And how is that circular reasoning?

  63. http://critical-thinkers.com/wp-content/uploads/2

    A great flow chart to see if you are having a rational discussion.

  64. I like it. I need to add Facebook-like like buttons to the comments here, but I've got such a big list of things I need to do…

  65. You have been breaking several of the rules.

  66. I fully admit to breaking the first one, at least on some points, but if someone tries to carry on a conversation with me after that point, they do so at their own peril, do they not?

    And there is a part I don't quite agree with, the part that says "The position that is more reasonable and has more supporting evidence should be accepted as true." That seems rather subjective, since the weakness or ignorance of those involved involved in a discussion may mean that neither is in possession of the truth. Or one person may be in possession of the truth, but lack the skills to make their position appear more reasonable, or they may lack the supporting evidence simply because they haven't collected it or can't remember it.

    I can't quite see where I've broken any of the other rules…although perhaps I have. I'm sure you think I've broken a lot since you frequently misunderstand what I'm saying. If you can provide an example of where I've broken a rule I'm all ears and would enjoy debating the matter or standing corrected if need be.

  67. "I fully admit to breaking the first one, at least on some points, but if someone tries to carry on a conversation with me after that point, they do so at their own peril, do they not?"
    -You have broken the first one, at your own admitting, but the problem lies in the fact that you have yourself a website built as a forum for discussion about what mormons believe. If that forum is not rational, then it is dishonest (with others or with itself). If you believe that there could not possibly exist evidence that could change your mind, then it would not be rational to submit that what convinced you, in the first place, was rational evidence. Once you stop requiring rational evidence to justify claims of truth, you can convince yourself of just about anything. But I suppose you would discuss it with you at one's own "peril". There is no point, however, and should not be within the claims of the person who moderates a forum of evidence and truth. It's nonsensical.

    "That seems rather subjective, since the weakness or ignorance of those involved in a discussion may mean that neither is in possession of the truth.”
    -This is not subjective. It's objectively relative. Science doesn't claim to know everything about everything. It's always subject to change upon better and more conclusive evidence. Each of us, should we claim to be a rational person, are expected to assume the position that is more reasonable and has more supporting evidence and should be accepted as true at any given point within our experience.

    "Or one person may be in possession of the truth, but lack the skills to make their position appear more reasonable"
    -It's not about presentation. If you are unable to make your claim appear rational, then it likely isn't rational. If it's because you lack the knowledge of logic and philosophy, then it's likely that it was not built with logic and philosophy. If it's because you don't understand it well enough, then you don't understand it well enough to claim it as fact.

    "they may lack the supporting evidence simply because they haven’t collected it or can’t remember it."
    -Then they shouldn't claim it as fact in the first place until they collect it or recall the evidence

    "I’m sure you think I’ve broken a lot since you frequently misunderstand what I’m saying."
    -Just because i word things in a way that you disagree does not mean that I didn't understand you. I'll admit that there have been spares moments when there was a misunderstanding, but that has gone both ways.

    "If you can provide an example of where I’ve broken a rule I’m all ears and would enjoy debating the matter or standing corrected if need be."
    1. [The person asserting a position bears onus of demonstrating its truth]
    – You still haven't answered my question.
    2. [Provide evidence for your position and arguments]
    -Same. The base of your argument still lies upon an experience in which convinced you of its truth. You still have yet to even be able to write it down in a rational sentence. I'll give you that it must have been a very extraordinary experience to convince you of such an extraordinary claim, but for it to be considered fact from you, you must be able to understand it.
    The taste of salt is difficult to explain, but I'm not making life changes and claiming fundamental properties of reality based on the specific, difficult to describe, taste of salt. It would be silly to do so, as it is such an extremely subjective thing that you have no evidence to indicate that it has any bearing on objective reality.
    I would not even claim the fact that salt exists based on HOW it tastes. I could, however, by submitting THAT it tastes using logic and rational objectivity.

  68. "I am not “dictating” it. I don’t think I’d have any final word, but I do have a voice in it. And how is that circular reasoning?"

    You have made very definitive statements of "that is immoral" so it sounded like dictating to me…especially when you said your morals were better than God's because "God’s moral code is buggy and lacks a lot of specifics," I assumed you were dictating what was moral. If it's just your opinion or "voice" than I will take them as such. Otherwise, it sounded a lot like dictating.

    As for it being circular reasoning, when you cannot tell me exactly your standard of measurement for what is "moral" except that men decide through their own means of psychology or rationale, it is circular. Ex. "Who decides what is moral? Men do. Which men? The ones who are the most moral."

    You have given no REAL evidence of how to measure what is moral and what isn't besides mens opinion or "rationale". How do we know which men to listen too? Back to the NAMBLA example, they don't see it as raping little boys. They forge relationships with them and coax them into this behavior. They call it "love" and think it is right and natural and the boys aren't being forced. They don't say it just "something they like to do" they think it's normal. How do we know, if the little boy is coerced and believes he actually loves and trusts the older man, that it is wrong? What is the standard of measurement?

    You can argue that it is just my opinion that God's standard of morality is superior than that of mans, but it would still only be your opinion. I hold my own view that God is right, and who are you to dictate that my opinion is wrong? Because men like you decide that it is? Circular and relative.

  69. Also Nathan: In response to me saying you have made yourself your own god, you said "Please… let us not reduce this discussion to these types of claims. It’s ridiculous to take things to such extremes"

    I do not think this is extreme at all. You yourself admitted that you cannot say that there is NO God. You just don't like His morals, rules, commandments, etc…you think they are "buggy" to quote you. So if there is a God, you don't like Him and are rebelling against his flawed code. Thus you have made your own code, which you find to be above and better than Gods, you also said that yourself. I'd say it's perfectly rational to say you have rejected God and made yourself your own god over Him. Plenty of "evidence" for it. Isn't that how you determine who is more rational??

  70. "So if there is a God, you don’t like Him and are rebelling against his flawed code. Thus you have made your own code, which you find to be above and better than Gods, you also said that yourself. I’d say it’s perfectly rational to say you have rejected God and made yourself your own god over Him. Plenty of “evidence” for it. Isn’t that how you determine who is more rational??"
    – All of your arguments make the assumption that there is a god or that I believe in a god. I don't believe in a god. If I don't believe in a god, then how could I make myself a god in his place? I suppose you could redefine what you would consider a god, but that just goes into arguing semantics. I do not believe I have any supernatural powers. I don't believe I have natural domain over other people. I do not believe that my word is intrinsically better than the word of anyone else.

    "You just don’t like His morals, rules, commandments, etc…you think they are “buggy” to quote you."
    -The biggest problem I have with god is that he's not real. He's imaginary. Of course I can't prove this. I can't even say that god does not exist, for certain. I can, however, say that there is no logical reason to believe in god beyond wishful thinking. (I can't say for certain that unicorns don't exist, either) Part of the evidence showing that god does not exist is that fact that his morals and code of ethics are most definitely not those of a perfect being.
    I do believe that I am morally superior to the Christian god. This does not mean I see myself as a god, as I also believe that you are morally superior to the Christian god as well. I don't believe that you advocate slavery, torture, genocide, etc. I don't believe that you would set up a deceptive test for your children where they would become "tricked" if they used scientific methods to understand their surroundings. I don't believe that you would ever think it would be ok to torture someone forever for a finite crime (no matter how horrible a crime).

  71. Also. I think you'd be pretty hard pressed to find someone who agrees that it is rational to assume I think I'm a god based on the fact that I think the christian god's morals are poor.

  72. I said you have made yourself your own god…not that you truly believe you are one in the sense of what God is, as in being supernatural and all that…only that you make your own code of morals and decide what is right or wrong based on your own ideas or those of men. Believers in God let him decide and read His word to determine what is right or wrong.

    "I think you’d be pretty hard pressed to find someone who agrees that it is rational to assume I think I’m a god based on the fact that I think the christian god’s morals are poor."

    Is this the standard now, majority rules? If I find more people to agree with me than those who agree with you, then am I right and you will accept it? Being as there are more believers on this earth than atheists, I might not be so hard pressed…would that change your thinking? Probably not. You'd excuse it away as we are not "rational" again with no other standard than that of your own thinking.

    I am just seriously trying to understand the methods you choose to determine morality without God, because everything you have given so far hasn't made any sense and still seems relative.

  73. "Is this the standard now, majority rules? If I find more people to agree with me than those who agree with you, then am I right and you will accept it? Being as there are more believers on this earth than atheists, I might not be so hard pressed…would that change your thinking? Probably not. You’d excuse it away as we are not “rational” again with no other standard than that of your own thinking."
    -Of course the majority mentality doesn't make it true. I wasn't talking about a majority.
    Also, you're right. I should be more clear. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone with a critical mind and a demonstrable knowledge in philosophy and logic that agrees that it is rational to assume I think I’m a god based on the fact that I think the christian god’s morals are poor. If you did find someone with a reasonable argument, I'd happily re-state my position.

    "I am just seriously trying to understand the methods you choose to determine morality without God, because everything you have given so far hasn’t made any sense and still seems relative."
    -I don't know how familiar you are with evolutionary studies and memes, but morals can be explained through them. An idea of how to act around other people is thought of, and tried. If this helps the individual, it will likely be carried out again. As every individual is doing this, certain traits among groups will become more desirable and prosperous, and thus more likely to happen again. Soon, the action that will aid the group will become the optimal action for the individual, as it would help the individual the most in the long run. Things done by individuals that harm the group as a whole will be seen as undesirable, thus less likely to be chosen by members of said group.

    What you define as right and wrong are just labels you put on certain actions that either propagate or hinder the group you specifically identify with. For example: Suppose country X and country Y are at war. Country X is primarily religion A, whereas country Y is primarily religion B. Religion A states in it's texts that all other religions are wrong and should be fought to the death over. Religion B states the same thing. The war is over leadership in the whole of the land. Both countries want their religion to be in power, because it's the "true" religion. Both sides see the others' action as evil and their own choice as good. They would both be right as well.

    As you can see, morals are relative. However, that would not mean that ANYTHING can be seen as good or evil. There are some things that have been clearly established by almost every civilization that has formed ethics and laws. Don't steal. Don't kill. Don't lie. etc. Things that would generally cause distress or harm to the group as a whole.

    On top of the basics, I personally have read many different philosophies and found that I could agree with some and not as much with others.

    I know that I suffer when certain things happen to me, and I also assume that others "feel" much as I do. Because of this understanding, and a desire for others not to suffer, I can act in a way that I honestly feel would cause the least amount of suffering for my fellow living beings. I don't assume that my ideas as absolute, as I may in the future learn something that would help me be more ethical. If I decide that my opinion is ever absolute, it would stop me from learning and progressing any further in that specific area.

    I don't understand why you think this is a good argument. Do you really think that without the bible, people would go around stealing from each other, or raping and killing for no reason? Is the only reason you don't do those things because of god? Would you do those things if you weren't a christian?

  74. Josh, I have some new questions, if you still choose to not answer my last one.

    Can man challenge God's will through his thoughts or actions?

    Can God challenge man's thoughts and actions through His will (deny man free will)?

  75. Well, ok. If you won't answer those questions, what you think think, after prayer and personal study, what do you think about Mark 11:24:

    "24Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

  76. Alright. It you're not going to answer that question either, let me ask you this:

    Assuming that there does exist an objective reality that we share (that exists outside of our minds) how can I distinguish between someone who claims to be a conduit for god and actually is, and someone who claims the same thing but is delusional?

    Is it reasonable to believe someone on their word (lets even assume it's a common claim, like: God exists)?

    How much evidence (and of what kind) would it take for you to believe that bigfoot is real?

  77. It would seem that Joshua has fallen off the face of the earth…or at least off his own website.

  78. Hey, I'm back! Sorry, I don't think I'm going to respond to everything going all the way back to the beginning of February. Too confusing to read through, plus I'm limited on time, so let's jump to Feb 21st.

    @Nathan – "Josh, I have some new questions, if you still choose to not answer my last one."

    Not sure what the "last one" was…seems like the last question before this statement was for Leah, but I'm not sure. If you want to clarify go ahead, if it's too old and you're over it that's fine too.

    Moving on…

    "Can man challenge God’s will through his thoughts or actions?"

    I'm not sure I understand the question, can you clarify? I'm not sure what you mean by "challenge God's will".

    "Can God challenge man’s thoughts and actions through His will (deny man free will)?"

    I may not be understanding exactly what you mean by the question since we haven't defined what is meant by "free will" nor "challenge". But if I understand correctly, I think the answer is yes and no and perhaps maybe. That is, yes, theoretically God could challenge or take away man's free will, except that then he would cease to be God…maybe. I think it depends on various factors.

    "Well, ok. If you won’t answer those questions, what you think think, after prayer and personal study, what do you think about Mark 11:24:'Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.'"

    I didn't pray or study, but my initial thought is that it sounds like a pretty good deal and seems to have been born out thus far in my life. I seem to get pretty much whatever I pray for, although not always in the way I expect.

    "Assuming that there does exist an objective reality that we share (that exists outside of our minds) how can I distinguish between someone who claims to be a conduit for god and actually is, and someone who claims the same thing but is delusional?"

    You would have to get absolute knowledge directly from God.

    "Is it reasonable to believe someone on their word (lets even assume it’s a common claim, like: God exists)?"

    No, it's completely unreasonable, illogical, and irrational.

    "How much evidence (and of what kind) would it take for you to believe that bigfoot is real?"

    Probably an actual specimen.

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