In my last entry on Mormonism, I listed three questions that have to be answered in the affirmative if Mormonism is to be true:
1. Was Joseph Smith a prophet of God?
2. Was the Book of Mormon really written by ancient prophets (...and is it true)?
3. Was Christ's church lost from the earth and then restored through Joseph Smith?
The person who sent me these three questions said if they are all true, then several other things are also true:
- The LDS church is the one and only true church on the earth. While others might do good and teach some truth, only one is authorized by God and lead by Jesus Christ.
- There is a prophet of the Lord that speaks to us just as Moses, Abraham, and Isaac of Old.
- God has a plan for us and it has been revealed to us
- We can better understand the Bible through modern prophets and additional scripture, all of which help us to better understand the Lord and his plan for us.
- Marriages, when performed in the Temple, can be, not just only for this life, but for all eternity.
- We have additional understanding of life after death.
- Members of the church can hold the priesthood of God and can act in his name to bless, heal, baptize, etc.
- You can receive the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost to help and aid you in your life.
Today, I want to share a thought that I think it not only applicable here, but is applicable in many other areas of thinking. In any deductive argument, the conclusion follows necessarily
from the premises. It isn't possible for the conclusion to be false if both of the premises are true and if the conclusion follows logically from the premises. So, if it turns out that the conclusion is false, then that necessarily entails that at least one of the premises that led to the conclusion is also false.
Not so with inductive arguments. If a conclusion becomes more probable when the premises are true, and if the conclusion turns out to be false, that only makes the premises less probable, but not impossible.
It could be that some Mormons would disagree with the fellow who sent me this email, but the fellow who sent me this email seemed to think all of the things that followed from a "yes" answer to the three questions above followed deductively. He said, "If those three things are in fact true, then the rest that is built upon it is also true."
If that is, in fact, the case, then the entire Mormon religion can be shown to be false just by showing that one of those points is false. It just takes one! One could argue like so:
-If 1, 2, and 3 are true, then x is true.
-X is not true.
-Therefore, 1, 2 and 3 are not true.
The one that jumps out most to me is the one about eternal marriage.
Marriages, when performed in the Temple, can be, not just only for this life, but for all eternity.
Jesus addressed this issue explicitly in Matthew 22:23-33. Jesus taught that there would be a resurrection of the dead, but the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. So they confronted Jesus about it.
In this confrontation, the Sadducees made what is called a reductio ad absurdum
argument. That's where you take a person's point of view to its logical conclusion. If the logical conclusion of a person's point of view is absurd, then the premises that led to it are also absurd. The Sadducees assumed, for the sake of argument, that resurrection was true. Then they constructed a scenario under that assumption and asked Jesus about it. In the scenario, a woman married several brothers, one after the other as each died, and the Sadducees asked Jesus, "In the resurrection therefore whose wife of the seven shall she be? For they all had her."
In asking this question, they hoped to expose the absurdity of resurrection. Either this woman would be married to all of the men, which is absurd, or she would be married to only one of them. But there is no way to determine which of them she would be married to, so there's no way for Jesus to answer the question.
Jesus responded by rejecting the hidden assumption in their question, which is that she would be married to any
of them. He said, "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven." In other words, the woman would not be married to any
of the seven brothers at the resurrection. She would be like the angels--single.
After Jesus removed the objection the Sadducees had to resurrection, he went on to show them, from the Torah, that resurrection is true.
I suppose a Mormon could say, "Well, yes, it's true that in the resurrection, people will not get
married, but those who have already
gotten married will remain so." If that's what Jesus was saying, then he didn't rebut the Sudducees' argument after all. In fact, he said something that was completely irrelevent to the question they asked. It seems perfectly clear to me that Jesus intended to convey to the Sadducees that nobody will be married at the resurrection. Marriage is for this mortal life only.
Now we can make the following argument:
-If Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and the Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets, and Christ's church was lost from the earth and restored through Joseph Smith, then marriages, when performed in the Temple, can be, not just only for this life, but for all eternity.
-Marriage is not
for all eternity.
-Therefore, Joseph Smith is not a prophet of God, the Book of Mormon was not written by ancient prophets, and Christ's church was not lost from earth and restored through Joseph Smith.
So Mormonism is not true.
Somebody on Yahoo Answers asked a similar question as the Sadducees asked Jesus, only instead of a woman marrying several men, they asked about whether a man could be sealed for eternity with another woman in case his wife died. The Mormons answered that yes, he could. At the resurrection, he would be married to every woman he had married in the Temple and had his marriage sealed for eternity. So there will be polygamy in heaven.
That made me wonder whether it worked the other way around, so I posted a question on Yahoo Answers. Could a woman have her marriage sealed to more than one man in case her first husband died? The concensus from the Mormons was that she could not. So, in heaven, a man can have several wives, but a woman cannot have several husbands.
I suppose a Mormon might answer my argument by saying that Jesus was only dealing with a woman who had several husbands. It was an obvious absurdity to suggest that a woman could have more than one husband at the resurrection, but if the Sadducees had asked him about a man who had had several wives, Jesus could've easily answered by saying they would all be his wives at the resurrection, and that would not have been absurd. But that argument would fail because the woman could have been married to at least one of the men at the resurrection, but Jesus answered by saying she wouldn't be married to any
A Mormon might also answer my argument by saying that the Sadducees were talking about ordinary marriage, not about Temple marriages that are sealed for eternity. I think that is a very weak argument for several reasons.
First, because the concept of eternal marriage is completely foreign to the Bible.
Second, marriages were never performed in temples, neither in Judaism nor in Christianity.
Third, if the Mormon concept of eternal marriages being sealed in Temples was a view that Jesus held, the conversation with the Sadducees would've looked much different, I think. It would've looked something like this:
Sadducees: If a woman married and her husband died without having children, and she married his brother who also died without having children, etc., whose wife would she be at the resurrection?
Jesus: She wouldn't be married to any of them unless her marriage was sealed for eternity in the Temple.
Sadducees: Okay, so suppose her marriages were sealed for eternity to all of them.
Jesus: That can't happen. She can only be sealed to one of them. At the resurrection, she would be married to whichever one she had been sealed to, if any.
What an opportunity for Jesus to instruct the Sadducees on the Mormon concept of eternal marriage! A Mormon might say that Jesus' silence on the matter was due to the fact that eternal marriage was normative in Judaism, and the Sadducees already knew about it. But if that was the case, then you'd expect the Sadducees to make a better argument and include the concept of eternal marriage in there.
A Mormon might say that the knowledge of eternal marriage is implicit in the argument of the Sadducees, since they were assuming she had to be married to somebody
at the resurrection. But that's the very assumption the Sadducees rejected! They could not have believed in eternal marriage for the simple reason that they did not believe in eternal life! They did not believe in a resurrection. They seemed to think that eternal marriage followed
from the doctrine of resurrection, and they were mistaken about that, as Jesus showed them. Mormons are mistaken about it, too.
It seems to me that the one argument a Mormon could make is that the Bible has been tampered with. We don't really have an accurate version of this passage. We'll save that for another blog entry.
I am not trying to be condescending when I bring up these hypothetical things a Mormon might say. I want to make a disclaimer about that since there may be Mormons reading this who might be offended that I'm insulting their intelligence. I have never heard a Mormon actually raise these objections that I'm bringing up, and I don't know whether they actually would or not. So why am I bringing them up? I'm doing it because I'm simply trying to anticipate any possible rejoinders that I can think of. I'm trying to cover all my bases. If there are other rejoinders that I didn't think of, then I'd like to hear them.