The Mormon Delusion, Vol 1: The Truth Behind Polygamy and Secret Polyandry (TMD-1), by Jim Whitefield, is a comprehensive and thoroughly-researched look into the polygamous & polyandrous practices of the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), that lasted nearly 100 years. The author’s ability to present an incredible amount of facts and research into a well-organized, and easy to follow book, is quite an accomplishment. I read the 3rd edition in eBook (PDF) format, released in 2011.
I’ve decided to expand on my previous post entitled, “Atheism vs Agnosticism” where I explored the different ways of thinking about atheism. The reason for this is because since writing that post, I’ve further explored what atheism means to others and have done a lot of reading on the subject. Some of the books I’ve read are: God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Letter to a Christian Nation, and An Atheist Manifesto by Sam Harris – all of which I highly recommend. In addition to these books, I’ve come across a wealth of information on various websites and especially YouTube.
As my original post talked about, there are a number of ways to define the terms ‘atheist’ and ‘agnostic’. My exploration of these terms were on a more passive level, that is to say I didn’t apply an active component to the definitions; the words were simply defined as what they mean separate from how they’re used. I’d say that most atheists, like myself, use a strict definition where ‘a-theist’ means, “not theist” (just as ‘atypical’ means “not typical”), and opposed to “a disbelief in a god” (since this would indicate a type of belief itself). I tend to like this definition for its simplicity. However, I’ve noticed that most theists (meaning ‘religious believers’) tend to view the term as having much more intent behind the term, such as “against religion”, “god hater”, or “anarchist” (the last two making absolutely no relevant sense). There are many atheists out there who either don’t subscribe to the label (though fit my definition) or don’t actively oppose religion at all, while others are in active opposition to specific theistic beliefs or all of theism. It’s important to remember that atheism is not an ideology, nor is it a religion unto itself as some people like to think.
The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, is aptly named. It illustrates how the concept of a personal god (specifically the Abrahamic god of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) is one of complete fiction, and yet has so many convinced of His existence, despite the mounting evidence that the world is not as described in ancient scripture.
Dawkins’s approach to his arguments against theistic belief in the supernatural is an obvious extension from his career in evolutionary biology. Dawkins is very careful to take the time to define each term that he uses, sorting out the different meanings, so that his specific use of the term is clearly understood. This goes a long way to avoid confusion, especially when talking about the polytheistic, monotheistic, pantheistic, and panentheistic uses of the word ‘god’. Dawkins is also very good at presenting a much more complete picture of commonly misrepresented & quote mined historical figures such as Einstein, the American founding fathers, Hitler, etc., and shows how their uses of the word ‘god’ rarely meets today’s Christian definition.
Dawkins’s ‘The God Delusion’ is a scientific approach, in methodology if not evidentiality, to the arguments against the beliefs in gods, and is much more reserved and soft-spoken than Christopher Hitchen’s rather abrasive book, ‘God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything’. These two books have a stark contrast in their delivery, but share the same sound reasoning and logic. I highly recommend both of them.
Today is the 66th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s death, and it got me thinking about how LDS theology views Hitler in its plan of salvation.
We are all well aware of the horrific monstrosities that were perpetrated by Hitler when he became the fascist leader of Nazi Germany during WWII, as well as his role in the events of the holocaust. To me, such a person as Hitler is beyond redemption or forgiveness. There is no evidence that, if given a chance, he would have changed his ways during his lifetime had he not completed suicide. But what of his next life?
Last week, I had posted the article entitled, Gay Students vs. BYU Honor Code (archived here), to my Facebook account. This, along with my opening comments on the article, caused quite a debate (you can read more about this on my previous blog post). What really struck me were the tactics being used by those in favor of BYU’s honor code (and by extension, LDS morals). What I mean by “tactics” is the way in which they presented and ‘justified’ their argument, not the argument itself. Some of these tactics are somewhat universal, in that most people use them regularly, including myself (though I’m trying to improve in this area). However, I’ve noticed certain ones being extremely common among Mormons specifically.
Just a quick update to my post yesterday:
I just received a phone call from ‘my’ Bishop (whom I’ve never met). He let me know that he’s received a copy of my resignation letter, which was given to him from the Stake President. He simply wanted to confirm with me that I am aware of the “seriousness” of my decision, and warn me that I will lose all priesthood privileges (for whatever good it’s done me). I confirmed that I’m well aware of the ‘consequences’. He then said he’d send in the forms to Church Headquarters!
The phone call was short and to the point, which I really appreciated. I guess this means that I should expect a final confirmation letter in a few weeks.
Correction: I’ve just been informed that I have met my bishop once before.
UPDATE: Response from the Church, part 3
I’ve been really busy trying to respond to all the emails and messages I’ve been receiving over the past few days. So, I just wanted to post a video that I think is extremely well done. It’s an animated short (about 8 minutes, which I know is longer than the average internet user’s attention span), which tells the story of a young man who grows up being taught one way of doing things, only the find that others don’t do it the same way… and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Here it is, for your viewing pleasure…
Let me know what you think.