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Joe Smith said : “As man is God was,,, as God is man may become”

I see at least 3 logical dilemmas in this statement. Do you agree?
Logical Dilemma 1: As man is God was
If God was once a man,,, where did man come from? There is no way around the fact that this statement implies that man originated apart from a creator. From my understanding there are only three possibilities for the origin of man.
1. Man was created by God and each kind makes after it‘s own kind. Animals do not evolve from one species to another. This is the biblical model of creation.
2. God created the cosmos and the basic materials for life and set evolution into motion. This is theistic evolution.
3. There was nothing and it went bang and eventually evolved into everything. Over billions of years simple life (if ya can call it that) arose and evolved into what we now call mankind without the influence of a God. This is what most people call evolution. Most do not even realize that this implies that one day (probably through a quantum leap, as evolutionist have proposed) that mankind will evolve spiritually into gods.
4. It is not really a logical possibility but some people believe that life on our planet was planted or seeded by alien beings. This idea is called the starseed theory or panspermia. Most who hold this belief do not ask themselves where did the aliens come from? This idea does not circumvent the necessity of a creator and/or evolution with or without a God.
The logical absurdity of, As man is God was, is that it naturally requires pure evolution. It would require that nothing became everything all by itself and eventually became a God (all by itself).
Logical Dilemma 2: as God is man may become

If man became a God before there was a God,,, why do we need a God or the Mormon teaching about becoming Gods to actually become a God. Doesn’t that imply that eventually all men should have or will become Gods? Or is the Mormon position that only one man evolved into a God and then said no other man could become a God unless he followed his rules and then he started the Mormon church and laid out all the does’ and don’ts about how to become a God?

Logical Dilemma 3: The book of Mormon

The book of Mormon is in agreement with the Holy Bible that there is only one God (and there where none before and there will be none after him), he is a spirit and he does not change. The bible even says that God is not a man (Num23:19).

Can’t you see the logical dilemma of Mormonism by initially saying that there is only one God and that he is unchangeable,,,,, and then going on to say that God was once a man?
Logical Dilemma 4: The book of Mormon
“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (History of the Church, Vol. 4, page 461)
If the Book of Mormon is the “most correct book on earth”,,Why has it been changed so many times? Please tell me how many times has the Book of Mormon been revised since Joseph Smith translated it from the golden plates?

Mormon Dilemmas by Damon Whitsell is licensed(for your free use) under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.Based on a work at http://www.how2becomeachristian.info/mormonism.htm.Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Spectrumofrights_Comic1.

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4 Comments

    • Seth R.
    • Posted August 6, 2008 at 3:50 pm
    • Permalink

    OK, a few things about Mormon cosmology need to be cleared up here.

    The traditional Christian view states that there are essentially two different kinds of things in the universe – Creator and creation.

    The Creator is God. Everything else is stuff He created. Created out of nothing that is. This is how traditional Christianity defines the cosmos and explains the origin of man and everything else. One moment where everything burst into existence – from God.

    Mormons utterly reject this view.

    We reject creation ex nihilo. Nothing was ever created out of nothing. Rather, God organized our present universe out of pre-existing chaotic matter. The most basic components of human identity – labeled “intelligence” in Mormon scripture – is also eternal and was never created out of nothing by anybody. Thus, we are eternal as well. God is only a “creator” in Mormon cosmology in the same sense that a painter is a creator. He organized pre-existing stuff to “create” something new and beautiful.

    So, Mormons believe the universe, ourselves, and everything else, to be co-eternal with God. A universe without beginning or end. There was no Big Bang style moment where it all suddenly appeared out of God’s mind.

    That is the real point of theological disagreement between Mormons and traditional Christianity. The other stuff is all window dressing really.

    Now, what about Joseph Smith’s statement that God was once a mortal man?

    First, I should note that this statement by Joseph was never canonized. Many Mormons do not believe it, and you are not required to believe it to be a member of our church. Neither have we ever gotten the details on what exactly this statement by Joseph meant, though many have speculated. Anyway, it’s not exactly binding Mormon doctrine in the first place.

    However, Joseph did say it, and he is an important figure in Mormon doctrine, so let’s just assume, for the sake of discussion that this is doctrinal. How does it work?

    To answer your question, let me ask my own.

    How do you reconcile a changing mortal Jesus with an unchangeable God?

    And how do you reconcile the existence of a Father, Son and Holy Spirit with the idea of one God?

    These are rhetorical questions, of course. I’m well aware that traditional Christian theologians have reconciled these apparent contradictions.

    My question is why the same reasoning and logic would not work equally well for Mormons?

    You’ve already worked out how there can be three Gods and yet “One God.” Why can’t Mormons have an infinite number of gods and yet “One God?” Does not the same reasoning and logic apply?

    And if Jesus could start out as a tiny infant, and progress as any normal child, then adolescent, then adult, and not ruin the whole “unchangeable God” idea, why could not God the Father have once been a mortal as well? Doesn’t the same logic apply?

    Essentially, the same logical contradictions you point out in Mormonism are inherently present in traditional Christianity as well. Christian theologians have gotten around them in a way you find satisfactory. Why not Mormon theologians as well?

    Finally, your bonus question about the revision of the Book of Mormon.

    Yeah, it’s been revised. Almost always for grammar and spelling mistakes.

    So what?

    The Bible has been revised and corrected just as much, and that didn’t seem to shake your faith at all. Why should correcting typos in the Book of Mormon shake my faith at all?

    That’s a real non-issue.

    On the creation ex nihilo issue however, there we have some real substantive disagreement.

    • Damon Whitsell
    • Posted August 6, 2008 at 4:16 pm
    • Permalink

    TY for your comment Seth. I am working on a dead computer trying to bring it back to life. I will be commenting on your comment afterwards.

    My post was made to “shake your faith” but rather to let non Mormons see what Mormons teach. I will be showing that for the first half of LDS church history, every Mormon leader has parroted Joe Smiths assertion that God is an exalted man and all men can be exalted to Godhood

    TY again Damon

    • Seth R.
    • Posted August 6, 2008 at 4:37 pm
    • Permalink

    That’s fine Damon.

    One thing I would want to point out though….

    The modern Church leadership has taken a more conservative, and perhaps agnostic, stance on Joseph’s King Follett sermon (where he made the statement in question).

    However, I personally like the King Follett sermon a lot.

    This puts me in an odd position of defending Joseph’s teachings, while at the same time acknowledging that some of them are not entirely embraced by current LDS leadership.

    • Jettboy
    • Posted August 6, 2008 at 5:51 pm
    • Permalink

    The first and most damaging fallacies are the lack of contextual and definitional examinations. Some of the logical problems are based on lack of explaining related subjects that help to answer some of the questions posed. Other logical problems are based on assumptions held that Mormons don’t hold themselves. Probably the most hypocritical is when a detractor states (with some truth I might add) that Mormons use Protestant and Catholic words and notions, yet mean something different. Then, they turn around and criticize Mormonism from the definitions that Mormons don’t hold as if the first statement didn’t exist. A very switch and bait tactic that is employed with such ease by the following supposed logical dilemmas that turn out to be strawmen.

    The reason I wanted to answer these particular accusations was because of how pedestrian they are. The arguments show up constantly, and I might add have been answered many times over; if you agree with the answers or not.

    First and foremost, Joseph Smith (I love the whole “Joe” thing as a classic dismissive) never said “As man is God was,,, as God is man may become,” as claimed by the critic. Don’t get me wrong, I am perfectly willing to accept that the concept came from Joseph Smith made prominent by the famous speech near the end of his life. To get the facts correct, however, the formulation was presented by the Prophet Lorenzo Snow decades after Joseph Smith died. Its general meaning has been argued and discussed within Mormonism almost from the time it was made.

    “If God was once a man,,, where did man come from?”

    Most of the criticism is based on the supposition that the statement is about Physical Creation. He lists three problems that to a Mormon aren’t problems. Besides the question of if Mormonism has room for Creationism, Evolution, or Panspermia (I believe all three are not theologically exclusive of each), what the statement is talking about is Spiritual existence. Mormons often use the term “intelligence” to express the primordial spiritual existence far removed from physical formations. Where did “man come from” is not easy to answer, but not in the way the critic seems to think. “Man” has always been Man and therefore never came from anywhere. Just as God was never “Created,” “Man” was never created. At least not until the spiritual and the physical were “organized” by God from existing material. I will get into the complications of that in another paragraph.

    I have to quote the next criticism because it is so full of misunderstanding and even, interesting enough, *denial* of one of the most criticized beliefs Mormons hold:

    “If man became a God before there was a God,,, why do we need a God or the Mormon teaching about becoming Gods to actually become a God. Doesn’t that imply that eventually all men should have or will become Gods? Or is the Mormon position that only one man evolved into a God and then said no other man could become a God unless he followed his rules and then he started the Mormon church and laid out all the does’ and don’ts about how to become a God?”

    Hard to know where to start with this one. This can be answered by the Mormon belief that God has a Father and His Father probably had a God, and down the line. How close this comes to “folk-belief” is unknown. It depends on some interpretations of both Scripture and teachings of Joseph Smith that aren’t clear. It might very well have started with our God, but that still doesn’t cause logical problems as expressed by the criticism. He could have simply followed the path of Jesus who became Man in order to become the God of Salvation. Interesting enough, we are commanded to follow after Jesus who followed after his Father.

    We need a God because without God there would have been no “organization” and therefore we would have remained in the state of primordial spiritual intelligence. We could not form ourselves even if we are self existing. In the same way, we could not form our physical bodies without God and we cannot be saved or progress without Jesus. Yes, this is all complicated and could be put into a theological dissertation; but that is the point. The criticism simplifies where it isn’t so simple and then jumbles or ignores other Mormon teachings. I could go into explaining the last question posed by the paragraph, but that would be biting off more than I want right now.

    “Can’t you see the logical dilemma of Mormonism by initially saying that there is only one God and that he is unchangeable,,,,, and then going on to say that God was once a man?”

    I suppose one could say, and Mormons often do, the same thing about Jesus Christ. Muslims are known to argue against the Trinity for this very reason; claiming the One in Three God is illogical and still be called a monotheist. If Jesus is God, then did He not change when he became physical? However, Mormons mean something entirely different. Change is about the individual and not about the spiritual or physical. God has always been God, just as anyone has always been themselves. Ice and steam, for instance, are still water in its non-liquid state. That should be something a Trinitarian should understand. Of course, that brings up the question of what “God” means or who can be labeled with that? Jesus seems at one point to have exclaimed that every person is a God and therefore it isn’t a mockery for him to claim the title.

    A related part of this is that Mormons believe that there is just One God, and that would be The Father. Any other gods that exist are not of immediate influence or personal devotion. Now, Mormons are not Trinitarians in the classical sense, so there needs farther clarification. There is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost who exists numerically independently from each other. However, they act within the authority of God the Father so intimately that they essentially become One God. It has been said that Mormons are Social Trinitarians, and that comes as close to accurate as possible.

    Finally, the argument “If the Book of Mormon is the ‘most correct book on earth,’ Why has it been changed so many times?” is a mis-interpretation of a statement reported to have been made by Joseph Smith. I say “reported” because it was recorded by someone rather than actually written down by Joseph Smith. To be fair, that is how almost all of what we have about Joseph Smith’s teachings came about. But, I digress. The assumption made is that “The most correct book on earth” means its textual presentation. For a Christian that believes in the infallibility of the text of the Bible that is a “logical” interpretation of the saying, but it is wrong! Here is what Joseph Smith is reported to have said:

    “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

    In context what Joseph Smith is saying is that the Book of Mormon is the most correct in its teachings that any other book. It is possible that there could be an argument that the textual purity is what he meant, but it would be hard to prove. Joseph Smith made editorial corrections while he was alive without feeling compelled to explain why the changes *could* be made. Most important is that the Book of Mormon expresses adamantly that it is NOT perfect and is probably filled with mistakes. It condemns anyone who finds fault with the Book of Mormon because of the human frailty it exhibits. It laments the insufficiencies of the language and the writing. At one point it states an original source is better that what was put in the Book of Mormon, but couldn’t be used because of space limitations or lack of corresponding ways of communication. It actually turns out to be a fascinating examination of Scriptural development (for those who don’t believe in Biblical infallibility or sufficiency). At most Joseph Smith could be accused of hyperbole rather than obfuscation.


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