Category Archives: Mormonism

Three Mormons and I

Part 17 – Part the Last

If the claims presented by these three Mormons are indeed real claims of Mormonism, then reason demonstrates that Mormonism is a false religion.

For no true prophet can under the prophetic charism speak what is demonstrably false or absurd or impious.

It is impious to fail to show honor where honor is due. Now, the god of god the father is due honor. But these men presented a view of the world according to which they are “not interested” about such gods but only on the one on whom they presently depend. This is a utilitarian and insufficiently pious attitude for a true religion.

It is absurd to suggest that God the Father becomes omnipresent through the ministration of another agent. It is absurd to suggest that he depends on another agent. But in order to be omnipresent, these Mormons said, God the father depends on the Holy Spirit.

It is in the end atheism to deny that there is one ultimate God that depends and depended on no one and nothing, that is himself the Source of All Good and lacks nothing of the range of perfection. And, if Mormonism is as these men says it is, it is itself Atheism. Granted, it is a “religious” atheism in a very extended sense, given that it calls for a way of life that is not simply dedicated to pleasure and money. However, the question remains what is the nature of this “experience” that is so dearly prized. If and insofar as it occasions one to abandon gluttony and pleasure for a life of the mind, then it is a step in the right direction. I recall the lyrics of Pink Floyd waking me up to the meaninglessness of a life of pleasure and greed. I recall that to have been a step in the right direction. But only because it led to the step to the one true God. In fact, for me to return to that captivating music would be to slide to eternal ruin.

Our conversation was so earnest and respectful that we were all moved by it. I was, and I believe they were. We said so, and I have every reason to believe each of us.

Before we parted, they asked me if they could pray over me. I kindly refused, judging that it would be a scandal for them and a dishonor to the One True God if I accepted the invitation of those who are yet searching for the True God, presently lost in the shadows of mythology and darkness, of the lack of a true moral compass, to pray over me. Since I did not want to give any credence to their false superstition and since I did not want to do the True God any dishonor, I told them that I would pray for them after we departed and would know that they would pray for me.

That is what I did, and I still bear them in my heart. If I am blessed enough by God to have found the One True God and his One True Religion, which He established and which he therefore sanctions alone out of all the world’s religions, I know that this is not my doing but his calling. And I know from the documents of Vatican II, but this truth is already embedded in the Tradition, that this One True God calls all human beings in the entire world to abandon their false religions and to believe in him and follow him in the one true religion, that which is practiced alone in the Holy Roman Apostolic and Catholic Church (Lumen Gentium, chapter 2).

Three Mormons and I

Part 16

Now, in a series of per se ordered causes, every cause lower in the chain depends for its causal efficacy on what is higher. So much is this the case that if the higher cause does not cause, the lower cause does cause. To describe this fact, we can call each of the causes that itself depends an “instrumental” cause.

We have drawn our definitions. Now, here is the argument. If there is no non-instrumental cause, then no instrument can act. That is, there must be a non-instrumental cause. There must be a cause that is not itself dependent on a higher cause. If there is no non-instrumental cause, then it would be impossible for any instrumental cause to have its instrumental agency. Just as if my arm were not moving, neither could my hand be moving. If the shaft were not moving, neither could the plunger be moving.

(Even if you allow the per se ordered series to be infinite, there has to be one cause outside that infinite series that is itself not moved, not caused, not instrumental. An instrument works only in virtue of an agent. The whole series of instruments is as “one instrument” in relation to the ultimate agent. No agent, no instrument!)

So, if every single cause were simply an instrumental cause, then there would be no non-instrumental cause. And thus there would be no instrumental agency.

But it is obvious, when we look around, that there is instrumental agency. For the sun moves the flowers to grow, and the wind draws the boat forward, and I am communicating to you.

Therefore, we must come to a first cause that is a non-instrumental cause. And this, all (or at least many) call God.

Part 15 and this part amount to a refutation of the claim of these Mormons, revealed by some “prophet” in the 20th century, that God the Father himself was a man like you or I who evolved into his deity. Thus, reason itself demonstrates the falsity of their claim.

Three Mormons and I

Part 15

Another question is whether God the Father presently depends on the one whom he once called God the Father. If not, then is he absolutely autonomous? If so, then he must be Existence Itself. But we have already shown one cannot become existence itself.

So, he must in fact presently depend on the one whom he called God. And that one on the one he called God. And that one on the one he called God. Etc., unto infinity. And in this chain we never get the True God. Now, this picture contradicts reason.

For, when you have a vertical chain of presently-dependent causes, nothing lower in the chain can act unless enabled to act by that upon which it is dependent. Now, a vertical chain of presently-dependent causes is not a temporally sequenced set but a simultaneous series of causes. Here is a picture example: The water is drawn by the vacuum; The plunger draws a vacuum in the pipe (We are speaking of a well of water); the shaft draws the plunger; the lever draws the shaft; the hand draws the lever; the arm draws the hand; the brain draws the arm; the mind draws the brain; etc. This is a series of vertically or simultaneously dependent causes.

Classical philosophy calls this a series of per se ordered causes. Observe that this chain of causes has absolutely no temporal dispersal. It obtains at the same instant. It has nothing to do with father begetting son, with genealogy, etc. This is not a chain in the backward direction.

Three Mormons and I

Part 14

Another question is whether God the Father presently gives religious homage to the one on whom he depended during his pilgrimage? If not, the is impious. If so, then he is a dependent god. And would he not want us to join him in extolling the higher God? If not, he is irreligious. If so, why are you three Mormons telling me not to worry about that higher God?

 

Three Mormons and I

Part 13

Next, they said that the Holy Spirit would soon get a body.

This I found remarkable.

So you mean that the Holy Spirit will then also be restricted and confined to a body? They said, “Yes, … but it will be a perfect body.”

Well, once again, “perfect body” is a relative expression: Given that you have a body, it may be more or less perfect. But it is impossible that any bodily thing be simply “perfect”.

Further, what of omnipresence!  If every bodily thing is in but one place, Whoever bears a body cannot, qua such, be in all places.

Thus, although the Spirit is omnipresent now, he shall soon cease to be omnipresent? Then, in being promoted to bodiliness, he will be demoted in omnipotence? They did not have a response to this.

Further, how shall God the Father maintain his omnipresence if his one aid in this feat is soon to be constricted to a body? They shall both need a helper. Who shall rise to help our helpless gods? They have arms and cannot be everywhere; they have eyes but cannot see all things — for how shall the eye see around the great planet? They have noses but smell only faintly that which is very far away. They have hands but cannot touch your heart. Whom shall we send from our exalted earth to prop up these weak gods?

Three Mormons and I

Part 12

One remarkable belief was that they held that God the Father had a body. This is, of course, another example of the impossibility that the one whom they call God the Father is True God. Indeed, if God has a body, then he cannot be in all places. For every body is in a place. If my body is not his, there are two places. Therefore, he cannot be in all places.

And since there are many bodies – yours and mine and Pluto’s and that of Mars, etc. – God the Father must be distant from many places. He must not be omnipresent.

But the True God is omnipresent.

So I asked them about these things.

First, about the body. Every body has a limit; thus, whatever is bodily is necessarily limited. They countered, “His body is perfect.” To which I responded, “What do you mean? If I have perfect health that is wonderful for me, who am only a man. But ‘having a body’ necessarily means I am im-perfect in the sense of lacking many pure perfections. I must have parts and thus am not simple and self-identical. I am in time and change. Etc.” They had no response but repeated the bit about the Father’s body being “perfect”.

Second, I asked about God’s omnipresence. The Father cannot be in all places, because his perfect body constricts him to some place. They said that God the Father is present in all places through his Holy Spirit. Since the Spirit is spirit, he is not restricted by a body. Thus, he can be in all places.

So, I asked whether God the Father depends on his Holy Spirit in order to be in all places. They said, “Yes.”

So, I said, the ultimate person of the Godhead (in this universe) is in fact dependent? He is almighty only through the help of another? They said, “Yes.”

Well, if he is dependent, I said, he cannot really be God. He needs his vice-regent in order to effect some things which he could not otherwise effect: Namely, being in all places. Therefore, neither can he truly be a creator ex nihilo, as they had proposed.

They had no response.

Three Mormons and I

Part 11

I gathered from this man’s conversion experience and from their talk about experience and the book of Mormon that the “religious” basis of their being Mormon is this inner experience. Of course, there are other sociological causes of their being Mormon – their tight family and religious and societal connections. But a large part of the draw on the “individual” as a religious agent is this inner experience. I asked whether there were any external signs. They never really came round on this question. Except for two things. First, they pointed to the very translation of the golden tablets. This translation was, they said, a miracle. Second, they pointed to the number of Temples they had built and the number of Mormons worldwide. I did acknowledge that the second item was phenomenal. The first, however, I think begs the question. And the second presupposes the very success it points out. I wanted a miracle from Joseph Smith, and they only gave me his translation.

Now, there were some other remarkable beliefs they had, on which I will spend the last few posts.

 

Three Mormons and I

Part 10

This interest in the here and now is connected to another point, their grasp of the springs of religion. From whence springs religion?

For these Mormons, religion springs from experience. Rather, from an emotional moment. From a very moving emotional moment. They each spoke of the emotional moment of the rites of the Temple.

Also, they asked me to read, and I did, from their Book of Mormon. The passage said something like (to paraphrase), “If you are moved, you know this book to be true.” Then one of them related his own conversion. From being very worldly, he at one point hit rock bottom and asked God if this world was all there was. Since his parents were Mormon, he decided to read from the Book of Mormon. He was deeply moved and began to believe that this world – honor, pleasure, money – was not all that there was. In relating this experience, he began to well up with tears as though he was having that emotional experience, or trying to have it, again.

I do think that he did have some moving experience earlier in his life. I do consider that he did convert to a different way of living. From a brutal, bestial way of living to a somewhat higher, somewhat more rational way of living. From the flesh of the body to the flesh of the emotions.

So, I believe that this was a step in the right way for him. However, I believe he is still laboring under ignorance and has not found that happiness for which his heart longs. Of course, I am a wicked theologian and no saint. Therefore, I could not be of as much assistance as he needs. But I showed sincere respect for him and his experience as well as for the other two. And they for me. We were friendly and courteous the entire conversation. They were sincerely engaged in the conversation. So I shall continue to relate it.

The conversation went on long enough that my wife and then my daughter had to bring us some refreshments of water and peaches.

Three Mormons and I

Part 9

Another interesting point emerges. The Mormons said that they had no interest in these higher things, these “deeper” things, which they were commanded to believe but which two of them seemed to agree were ridiculous.

No interest in these higher things! Yet, a belief in them! But should not our love of Truth and of God lead us to want to contemplate these things above all? Our love of Truth should lead us to want to know the “god” of “god the father”. But they kept coming back down to matters here and now. To the mundane. To their religious program.

I noted the contrast to the Catholic religion. When a Catholic boy says to his devout father, “I wish to abandon all worldly hopes and devote my heart and mind to the One True God. I wish to be alone with the alone,” this father rejoices with all the tears of his heart. For this death is the beginning of true life. The father knows that now he has done well, the grace of God working perhaps through his cooperation. Now his son will find the happiness for which all hearts were made. Quite unlike this is the view that keeps things to the “here and now”, merely to propagating the species or the family or the religious program, or all three. To keep the mind simply to the here and now; pragmatism; this is not evidence of genuine curiosity.

Further, this return to matters here and now evidences an ironic lack of interest in things religious, in things higher.

The genuine Jew or Christian are interested, very interested in, zealous for, the True God. The One True God who has no source! The Mormons have a chain of gods but are only interested in the next link in the chain. This is evidence of lack of true religious devotion.

This is no judgment on the future eternal welfare of these persons. This is judgment on the objective state of what they presented to me as their religion, of that religion which I can describe based on their comments. Perhaps their understanding of Mormonism was inadequate. Perhaps it was adequate.

Three Mormons and I

Part 8

We have established that only one thing can be “existence itself”. Everything else must not be existence itself. That is, everything else must receive and not be identical with its existence. It must not be existence itself but must receive some finite “cut” of existence proportionate to its kind of character.

(Implicit here is another proof for God’s existence. We know that of the many things that are only one of them could be existence itself. Since there are many, at lest all but one receive their existence. Not from themselves, since in order to supply, they would already exist. But on the supposition they don’t exist. Therefore, they receive it from another. If that receives its existence, then from another. Etc. Unless we come to one that does not receive but is its own existence, then none will have the wherewithal to give existence to another. If none has that, then nothing could be. But we clearly see that many things are. Therefore, we must conclude that Being Itself exists. Now, this argument entertains the notion of secondary creators. I shall go on to argue against the idea of secondary creators.)

Given that for each thing that is not existence, its existence cut to a certain kind, it is by no means infinite in power. It rather (at best) has a range over which it is competent. But nothing that (at best) has a range over which it is competent has competence over the very “being as such” of anything, not even itself. For everything that lacks competence over being as such must, in its causal activity on another thing, presuppose that other thing’s being. It can affect or arrange or rearrange that thing. But it cannot “create it out of nothing”.

Now, a creator has competence over the very “being as such” of what it creates. If nothing but the True God has this competence, then nothing but this True God can be a creator.

On these grounds, then, the belief of these Mormons that some will (or can) become Creator gods is proven false. No one but the One True God can be creator. Nothing else has any “potential” to become creator God.