The Instigator
evanjfarrar
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
Varrack
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Mormonism is Irrational and Flawed

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
evanjfarrar
Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 6/26/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,163 times Debate No: 76977
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (49)
Votes (1)

 

evanjfarrar

Pro

Hello all. This debate is on the merits of Mormonism, and whether or not is irrational to believe in it. I will be arguing the position that Mormonism is a flawed religion, and therefore it is irrational to be a Mormon. My opponent will be opposed to this view.

Format

R1: Acceptance
R2: All Main Arguments
R3: Rebuttal (no new arguments)
R4: Final Rebuttal/Conclusion


Definitions

Mormonism:

    1. Mormonism is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationist Christianity. This movement was founded by Joseph Smith in the 1820s. During the 1830s and 1840s,Mormonism distinguished itself from traditional Protestantism.



---------------------------

I await my opponent's acceptance.

Varrack

Con

I accept.

Since both sides are presenting cases, I assume the burden of proof is shared. Thus, it's my job to show that Mormonism is rational and coherent as much as it is my opponent's to prove that it is irrational and flawed. I propose the following definitions for the terms that were not mentioned:

Irrational - without the faculty of reason; deprived of reason.[1]
Flawed - having imperfections.[2]

With that said, let us begin.

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[2] http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 1
evanjfarrar

Pro

Hello all. In this debate, I will show that Mormonism is an irrational and flawed religion, and is not based in logic or reason. I will argue as per the definitions put forth by my opponent in R1. Here are my main arguments.


C1: Mormonism Promotes Blind Faith

From analysis of Mormon scripture, it is evident that Mormonism promotes blind faith in "God's word" with implied discouragement of intellectual questioning, quelling curiosity and rational inquiry. The following are excerpts from texts of the Mormon faith.

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar. (Proverbs 20: 5-6)

Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. (Matthew 15:14)

Mormonism evidently promotes the sole belief in the Prophet, and the perfection of their own religion. This is to the point where Mormons are blindly believing in their doctrine, without consideration for clear logical faults and inaccuracies in the texts which I will mention below. This is clearly irrational.


C2: The Mormon Exaltation Process is Logically Impossible

A key element of Mormon faith is the idea of exaltation, or one becoming a god through the following of doctrine and the various religious ordinances. Mormon doctrine dictates that a god exalts another god, which occurs ad infinitum; in other words, there is an infinite progression of exalted beings that extends back in time. However, this is logically impossible.

P1: Mormonism dictates an infinite progression of causes (exaltation).
P2: Therefore, each god was made by a previous god.
P3: One cannot cross an infinity.
P4: Mormonism doctrine presented in P1 and P2 contradicts the logic given in P3.
P5: Mormonism must be false.

An explanation of the transversing of an infinity:

"Another way of looking at this is to ask what is the first cause of exaltation to godhead? To be exalted means (a god) would have to perform the action of exaltation (as Mormonism teaches). But, if there is an infinite number of exaltations (an infinite number of causes of exaltation), then we could never find the first cause because there wouldn't be one. If there is no first cause, then there can be no second, no third, etc., and there could never be a sequence of these events to occur."

By the law of non-contradiction, it is evident that the Mormon principle of exaltation, and the progression of godhood presented in Mormon text, is logically impossible and is irrational to believe in.


C3: There Are Logical Improbabilities Within Mormon Doctrine

Within Mormon texts, there are various other improbabilities, and events which logically do not make sense. In this contention, I will focus specifically on the first book of Nephi (1 Nephi). Here are some of them, with responses after each:

"And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water." (1 Nephi 2:6)

Explanation: This text outlines the travels of Lehi, specifically his journey from Jerusalem to the Red Sea. According to this excerpt, Lehi managed to hike this journey of more than 400 km in just three days.

"And it came to pass that he called the name of the river, Laman, and it emptied into the Red Sea; and the valley was in the borders near the mouth thereof." (1 Nephi 2:8)

Explanation: Just after the last excerpt comes this passage, which claims that Lehi names a river flowing into the Red Sea after his son, in hope of inspiring him to do be "more dependable", like a continually running river. But there are no permanent rivers flowing into the Red Sea, and the River Laman does not seem to physically exist.

"And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him" (1 Nephi 1:6)

Explanation: According to this excerpt, a pillar of fire appeared on top of a rock without explanation. This is clearly without logical or rational support.

Evidently, there are fallacies of logic and heaps of irrationality within the Book of Mormon, specifically the first book of Nephi, and it is supportive of the notion that Mormonism is irrational and flawed.


C4: Mormon Doctrine Contradicts Scientific Findings

Mormon doctrine dictates that the origin of Native Americans is the Lamanites, an Israelite tribe. However, this claim has been tested through DNA sequencing and genomic research, and is scientifically disproven. On the contrary, it is widely accepted within both the fields of science and history that Asia is the origin of Native American tribes, and that Native Americans crossed the Bering Strait into North America at the end of the last ice age.

Mormonism therefore contradicts science, and is irrational and untruthful.

--------------------------

Sources

(1) http://www.godandscience.org...
(2) http://skepticsannotatedbible.com...
(3) https://carm.org...
(4) http://www.godandscience.org...
Varrack

Con

Observations

My opponent and I have agreed via the comments section that it is alright for me to both rebut the opposing case and make my own case in this round to further the discussion. While I do believe the BoP is shared, I think Pro has a somewhat larger burden due to the inductive nature of the resolution. For example, I can't affirm that Mormonism is perfect by not debunking flaws that have been pointed out - I would instead have to search the entire religion for every possible inconsistency, which is hard to achieve. Also, the only way I can affirm that Mormonism is rational without comparing it to other religions is to provide objective evidence of it being true, which isn't as easy as my opponent pointing out things they may not think to be logical.

To readers: if you're not very familiar with Mormonism, you can read a fairly short summary of it in source 10.

Pro's Case

R1. Blind Faith

Pro never defines "blind faith" here, so for the sake of the debate I am going to assume that having faith blindly is "believing without reason". The lack of reason is the equivalent of irrationality, which is appropriate to the resolution.

The issue with Pro's argument is that he is assuming truth cannot be found. As believed in the Mormon faith, truth does exist, and they can be found by searching the scriptures. At the same time, the church encourages an open mind and a rational inquiry. It does not discourage intellectual questioning and reasoning as Pro asserts it does. For example, in the last chapter of the Book of Mormon is found this verse: "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost." (Moroni 10:4)[1] If the Mormon church encouraged blind faith, then they would teach something along the lines of "these things are absolutely true and you cannot question them or ask God if they are". It does the exact opposite: encouraging time alone to ponder these things and decide for oneself if they tenets of this religion is true.

Two scriptures were cited by Pro in the last round, with the first being Proverbs 20: 5-6, which states that God is flawless. This is indeed held as a truth in Mormonism, but nowhere in the verse does it discourage rational inquiry. It simply states that God is the source of all truth, and thus implies that one can go to him for the source of all truth. The second scripture has nothing to do with blind faith, it was Jesus describing the Pharisees who were contending against them.

R2. Infinite Regression

1) It is not official doctrine that there is an infinite regression of deities, although the idea has been entertained by a few leaders, but the idea has been dismissed by others. FairMormon.org clarifies that "Not all Latter-day Saints accept the ideas which suggest a regression of divine beings. LDS doctrine on this point is not clear, and mostly speculative."[3]

2) Even if we were to assume that an infinite regression of gods, the concept isn't impossible. "Those who attack the Saints on these grounds often make the mistake of confusing various ideas about infinity. They may take principles that apply to finite things, and improperly extrapolate them to infinite things. Trans-finite mathematics and some aspects of the calculus deal with infinities, and show that such concepts are not irrational, nor do they share all our intuitive ideas of what infinities must involve."[3] To assert that it is impossible is to not acknowledge that the law of causation could have been the creation of God, with him being outside such a concept and outside the bounds of logic that wouldn't necessarily apply to him, being part of his creation.

R3. Logical Improbabilities

1 Nephi 2:6 does not imply that Lehi reached the Red Sea in three days. "And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness..." It implies that Lehi stopped when the three days were up, not when he got to the Red Sea.

1 Nephi 2:8 doesn't show a problem either. There are a number of wadis (riverbeds that are either permanently or intermittently dry) that exist in Saudi Arabia, with some of them connected to the Red Sea[4]. Studies confirm that "the Sahara has been drying slowly from six thousand years ago to reach the present day conditions around 1,100 years ago"[5], meaning that the Sahara was much wetter in the past and was once a fertile grassland. The beginning of the Book of Mormon is thought to take place in 600 B.C. (2,600 years ago)[6], so the land back then was much more wet and there is a high possibility that the wadis that exist now were once rivers then. Thus the concept of the River Laman is not problematic.

1 Nephi 1:6 describes a pillar of fire that came before Lehi "as he prayed unto the Lord". Simple. The existence of God is a tenet in the Mormon faith, and members believe miracles such as these to be a result of communication with God.

R4. DNA Evidence

Mormon doctrine does not dictate that the origin of all Native Americans is the Lamanites, just that the Lamanites who did live on became intermingled with Native Americans. This does not reject the claim that many tribes did come from Asia through the Bering Strait, it just asserts that some came from Israel.

I do agree that there isn't much DNA evidence for the Lehites, but this argument doesn't work against Mormonism for the following reasons:

a. We must take into consideration the likelihood that if the Book of Mormon is true, then the Lamanites probably intermingled with the Native tribes that were already here, thus causing the DNA of the Lamanites that were once Israelites to become mixed a lot. When genes are shared between two big groups, they are scattered throughout their descendants and make it difficult to specifically track down. Add that to thousands of years of living in America since arriving from Israel and you'll definitely find that genes are hard to pin down.

b. Approximately 90% of the Amerindians were wiped out due to disease brought by Europeans which could have significantly distorted the true genetic picture of Lehi's descendants[7].

c. Lehi and his family were not even jews. They were from the tribe of Manasseh (Alma 10:3)[8], and that tribe was carried off by the Assyrians, giving them little time to contribute to the genetic mix of the Middle East.

d. It is not a scientifically sound approach to base DNA findings off the Middle East when it has always been the crossroad of three continents and has seen lots of immigration and intermarriage throughout its history. Using it as a "standard" for DNA testing is ridiculous.

Con's Case

My argument will focus around the validity of the Book of Mormon and Joseph's role as Prophet. There are two views of what happened with the birth of the BoM: either Joseph made up every story in the book, authoring it himself or he translated it from reformed Egyptian by the power of God. I will provide evidence to show why the latter scenario is more probable, thus showing that Mormonism is indeed rational.

A1. Writing of the BoM

The repetition of words, constructive states of sentences, and overall writing style of the Book of Mormon suggest that it was first written in a Semitic language like Hebrew or Egyptian. Here are multiple examples:

a. The frequent use of conjunctions in the BoM, such as "and", is similar to that of Egyptian writing. In English, we would say something like "nuts, bolts, nails, screws, and staples". In the BoM, we find verses like this: "in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores." (2 Nephi 5:15.) Interestingly enough, Egyptian doesn't use punctuation[9] but uses conjunctions to put items together instead. Helaman 3:14 has the word "and" in it a total of 18 times. Grammatical edits of the BoM have inserted commas, but the sentence structure is still there.

b. The constructive word structures in the BoM and awkward use of words suggest that it originally came from a Semitic language, of which the word structures are much different. Some of these include:

- "altar of stones", instead of "stone altar" (1 Nephi 2:7)
- "plates of brass", instead of "brass plates" (1 Nephi 3:3)
- "vapor of darkness", instead of "dark vapor" (1 Nephi 12:5)

Other words such as "stiffneckedness" is used many times throughout the Book of Mormon, such as in Words of Mormon verse 17. If it were Joseph writing his own book, he would have likely used "stubborn" or "inflexible". But instead he used the Semitic counterpart, the extremely awkward "stiffneckedness."

The evidence provided shows that it is rational to believe in the BoM, thus Mormonism as well. How could a boy with only three years of education[10] come up with 531 pages of claimed scripture know so much about the Middle East, especially the Arabian Peninsula in which Lehi traveled? Coming up with many Semitic names (Amleki, Giddianhi, Mariontum, etc.) is also a pretty interesting feat.

Other Evidence

In Doctrine & Covenants 87 (more Mormon scripture), the Civil War was predicted of and prophesied of. The revelation came in 1832, 29 years before the war broke out. In the third verse reads "For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States..."[11] This is direct evidence of prophecy.

Character limit is here, so I'll end now, but happy to elaborate.

[1] https://www.lds.org...
[2] http://tinyurl.com...
[3] http://tinyurl.com...
[4] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://tinyurl.com...
[6] http://tinyurl.com...
[7] http://tinyurl.com...
[8] https://www.lds.org...
[9] http://history-world.org...
[10] http://tinyurl.com...
[11] https://www.lds.org...
Debate Round No. 2
evanjfarrar

Pro

In this round, I will show the weaknesses in both my opponent's responses to my arguments and his own arguments for the rationality of Mormonism.

Rebuttal

R1: The Conflation of Symbolic and Literal Truth

"The issue with Pro's argument is that he is assuming truth cannot be found. As believed in the Mormon faith, truth does exist, and they can be found by searching the scriptures. At the same time, the church encourages an open mind and a rational inquiry. It does not discourage intellectual questioning and reasoning as Pro asserts it does."

Here, Con conflates two ideas of truth- one symbolic truth as found in scripture, and a literal truth also achieved through rational inquiry. I argue that literal truth cannot be found in religion, and never will be, as nothing found in religious texts is supported by a shred of evidence. Simply put, it is irrational to look for literal truth in religious text, especially scripture, as very little is historically accurate.

Coming from a purely rational, logical perspective, I would argue that truth is factual and based on evidence, otherwise we cannot prove that something is (or was) physically existent. By this definition, there cannot be universal spiritual truth, as spirituality is opinion-based. One is attracted to religion, as one is spiritually satisfied by this sort of faith.

Therefore, I find that reading scripture for truth, whether literal (non-existent in religious texts) and symbolic (up to opinion, therefore not universally true) is irrational.

Drawn directly from mormon.org: "To have faith is to 'hope for things which are not seen, which are true' (see Book of Mormon, Alma 32:21 and Hebrews 11:1)."

We can see a clear conflation again in Mormon text. Mormonism allows for the interpretation of text for literal truth by my definition, however, if the 'things' interpreted for truth 'are not seen', there is either a contradiction, or an encouragement to search for symbolic truth. Symbolic truth cannot be existent by my definition either.


R2: On God's 'Flawlessness'

Upon inquiry of this belief in God's flawlessness, we can conclude that by this belief, God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. On the contrary, God cannot be flawless, as proven by such problems as the existence of evil, and the paradox of omnipotence.

Unless God is not omnipotent, omniscient, etc., however, then, he cannot be a perfectly flawless being. I ask my opponent to make this distinction.


R3: Arguing Against Infinite Regression Is Valid

It is a cop-out reject the premise of infinite regression because there are some within the Mormon faith that reject it. I have brought up this argument specifically because the belief of infinite regression is both logically implausible and supported within the LDS community.

"Those who attack the Saints on these grounds often make the mistake of confusing various ideas about infinity. They may take principles that apply to finite things, and improperly extrapolate them to infinite things."

I am not extrapolating any theories of finite things, I am claiming that an infinite regression is impossible because of the idea of transversing an infinity. Also, by countering a logical implausibility within the Mormon religion by claiming that God is above logical inquiry is a cop-out and shows the irrationality of Mormon belief. This denial of logic shows that this type of faith is irrational.


R4: The Texts Do Contain Implausibilities, Contrary To My Opponent's Arguments

My opponent claims that "[1 Nephi 2:6]
implies that Lehi stopped when the three days were up, not when he got to the Red Sea." On the other hand, I believe this can be interpreted to mean that the Red Sea came to pass within three days of travel, which by my previous arguments, is a highly implausible belief to hold.

Also, my opponent responds to my refutation of 1 Nephi 1:6 with: "The existence of God is a tenet in the Mormon faith, and members believe miracles such as these to be a result of communication with God." However, we already know that miracles are logically and rationally implausible. Let me cite Voltaire: "A miracle is the violation of mathematical, divine, immutable, eternal laws. By the very exposition itself, a miracle is a contradiction in terms: a law cannot at the same time be immutable and violated."


R5: On Denial of DNA Evidence

"you'll definitely find that genes are hard to pin down...It is not a scientifically sound approach to base DNA findings off the Middle East when it has always been the crossroad of three continents."

I doubt, with the numerous advances made in the genomic field, that mapping the genome and tracing the Lamanites to their origins would be impossible, as my opponent infers. I trust the results of the scientific inquiry in this case. Using advanced genomic technology, it is quite simple to map the genome. We can trace the Native American tribes back to their roots by comparing genes to indigenous tribes in various regions of the world.

My opponent finds this sort of technological capability far-fetched, when it is clearly not.


R6: On the Claim to Rationality for the BoM

"The evidence provided shows that it is rational to believe in the BoM, thus Mormonism as well. How could a boy with only three years of education[10] come up with 531 pages of claimed scripture know so much about the Middle East, especially the Arabian Peninsula in which Lehi traveled? Coming up with many Semitic names (Amleki, Giddianhi, Mariontum, etc.) is also a pretty interesting feat."

I think my opponent assumes in this argument that if Joseph faked the originality of the Book of Mormon, it would be blatantly obvious.

My opponent proposes hypothetical statements as grounds to claim the Book of Mormon's credibility, however, there is evidence (yes, evidence) to suggest that the Book of Mormon is not so. For example, the animals mentioned in Nephite records (including cattle, horses and sheep) do not have any archaeological support for their existence during the time period when the Book of Mormon was written. It is the same for metals and minerals mentioned in the text; there is no archaeological evidence to support the mining or usage of these materials.


R7: On The Prophecy of Civil War

"For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States..."[11] This is direct evidence of prophecy."

This is NOT prophecy. In 1832, when my opponent claims the Civil War was 'predicted of', there was tension between the North and the South, and it was not hard to think of the possibility of civil war. These tensions had been built up slowly over time, and came to a peak in this exact year, 1832, with the Nullification Crisis.

---------------------

I await my opponent's response.


Additional Sources

(1) http://www.exmormon.org...
(2) http://www.mormon.org...
(3) http://study.com...;
Varrack

Con

It is practically impossible for my opponent to fulfill his burden at this point. Even if Mormonism is flawed and likely untrue (which is all of Pro's Case), that doesn't mean it is void and completely deprived of reason (as is the definition of irrational). If I can show any reason in the LDS faith, of if Pro drops any of my arguments on it being reasonable, then the resolution is instantly negated.

R1. Truth and Faith

- Scripture is not based on the lack of evidence. As I said before (and Pro ignored), the Mormon faith encourages people to read its scripture and then ask God if it is true. Such is rational inquiry, and is a legitimate base for evidence. If one asks and they receive a witness (as the BoM guaranteed), then personal spiritual experience is evidence. The LDS faith does not assume that something is true and that one cannot find out about it. James 1:5 states that "if any of the lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him"[1]. If the ability to ask God of certain things were not a part of the Mormon faith, then evidence would not exist and truth wouldn't either.

- Faith is the evidence of things unseen because it is the *precursor* to personal revelation, which is evidence. Moroni 10:4 states it very clearly: "and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."[2] The reason faith is so important is because it is the requirement for one to be given personal evidence of what truth is.

R2. Nature of God

"God cannot be flawless, as proven by such problems as the existence of evil, and the paradox of omnipotence." This is called a Bare Assertion. Pro has not shown how the paradox of omnipotence or existence of evil shows flaws in God's being. I could easily assume that the existence of the universe presumes God, but without making an argument to support such I cannot be taken seriously. This goes for my opponent's assertions: no argument has been made, so no response is needed.

R3. Infinite Regression

- There are also many within the Mormon faith who reject infinite regression, so to reject it does not mean that Mormonism is deprived of reason or flawed. It just means that one view of certain doctrine is probably unlikely, and that the other view is likely correct.

- Saying that God is above logical inquiry doesn't mean that the faith is irrational, just that the deity that is believed in is beyond human comprehension. To apply logic to a transcendent being who created logic and assuming that he is bound by his creation is a flawed assumption.

R4. Logical Improbabilities

- 1 Nephi 2:6 states that *when* three days had passed, Lehi stopped. The text never says that they even reached the Red Sea, so it is irrational to assume such. Also, Pro says "I believe this can be interpreted to mean that the Red Sea came to pass within three days of travel". This is personal bias, and no rationale for thinking such was provided by Pro, so there is no reason to buy his assertions. I've already shown that the verse indicates the end of three days to be the time when they stopped and camped, not by the time they reached the Red Sea (which they never did go to).

- Pro drops 1 Nephi 2:8.

- 1 Nephi 1:6 is easy to justify. The existence of God presumes the allowance of miracles, as believed in the Mormon faith. Pro needs to show how such is irrational. Also, scientific laws are based on human perception of how things act 99.9% of the time, and don't necessarily dictate that they must act that way 100% of the time (although they can predict that they will always act as such).

R5. DNA Evidence

Pro dropped all four of my responses to why relying in DNA evidence is not scientifically accurate, and instead states "I trust the results of the scientific inquiry in this case" despite me already showing why not to trust it. Lehi's family is not even Jewish, most of the natives were wiped out due to disease, the natives intermingled a lot, and using the Middle East as a DNA standard is very flawed. Until Pro responds to these, there's no reason to take his assertions at face value. Personal bias seems to be all Pro is relying on.

R6. Validity of BoM

- Pro dropped my arguments about the BoM writing indicating translation from a Semitic language.

- Makie a new argument (such as saying the lack of evidence of animals and minerals is evidence for the BoM's invalidity) is prohibited in the third round and a violation of the round structure, so I am not obligated to respond to it.

R7. Civil War Prophecy

An insignificant rebellion in 1832 does not make it "obvious" that a huge war would break out that would come following the entire secession of several states. In fact, "No American statesman in 1832 believed that the doctrines of secession then talked of would result in a great civil war. None of them had the foresight to see that a great rebellion would occur, beginning in South Carolina; that it would terminate in the death and misery of many souls; that the Southern States would be divided against the Northern States"[3]

[1] https://www.lds.org...
[2] https://www.lds.org...
[3] http://en.fairmormon.org...
Debate Round No. 3
evanjfarrar

Pro

Hello all. In this final round, I will give a last response to my opponent's statements in the last round, and then I shall deliver my closing statement.

Rebuttal

R1: Mormonism's Flaws Justify the Resolution

My opponent fails to realize that Mormonism's flaws makes it unreasonable to believe in. I equate believing in Mormonism to believing in the tooth fairy, or the Easter bunny, in that there is no reason to believe in it, because it is so utterly implausible.

I deny Con's arguments against my fulfillment of the burden, as Con has brought up arguments which are clearly irrational and illogical to complement the Mormon faith, rather than giving the religion logical grounds (I will show this below). All of Con's responses that I have accepted are all purely hypothetical (like in response to scripture) and not provided alongside evidence or reason, so besides claiming such, there is not much else I can say.

R2: Rational Inquiry Cannot be Based on Supernatural Belief

I deny this premise because claiming rational inquiry on the basis of irrational belief is unreasonable. My opponent claims a possibility of rational inquiry in asking a supernatural being (supposedly above human perception) if something within human perception is true. However, we can already see by the existence of various problems of religious faith that this belief in the supernatural is wholly irrational.

In response to my opponent's denial of my proposal of the problem of evil and the problem of omnipotence, I can only assume that my opponent does not know of the existence of these problems. In short, the problem of evil presents a contradiction between the existence of evil (specifically unjustified evils, beyond justification by free will, universal balance, etc.) and the existence of an all-powerful, wholly benevolent deity. The problem of omnipotence can be presented by asking a simple question: can God create a rock which is too heavy for him to carry? Both answering in the positive and negative proves that power cannot be absolute.

R3: Exactly, it is Beyond Human Comprehension

In truth, my opponent concedes this debate by claiming that God is above human comprehension. If something is beyond human comprehension, there is no reason within human comprehension to believe in its existence. This all goes back to my argument of blind faith- Mormonism is irrational to believe in.

R4: Scripture is Still Implausible

I assert that we cannot prove the logic in any scripture, as we have absolutely no proof of its plausibility. By denying my assertions on the logical improbabilities of scripture, my opponent still fails to provide a valid reason why this scripture is rational to believe in. BoP is evidently shared in this case, and Con has not provided, while I have still provided logically-based claims.

R5: Scientific Finding is Not Personal Bias

My opponent assigns personal bias to a scientific claim. Science is the understanding of the world through human comprehension, while the Mormon faith, as my opponent has already admitted, is beyond human understanding. Therefore, the Mormon faith is unscientific, and furthermore, is void of logic and reason, as both logic and reason are realms of the human perception of the world.

But besides this clear void, this equation is still invalid. Scientific claims, which I have put forth in the form of DNA evidence, are rooted in natural laws which are universally applicable no matter the proponent. Therefore, I cannot be biased in bringing up scientific evidence.

R6: Linguistic Analysis is Not Applicable to Content

Linguistic analysis still does not prove the rationality in believing in a higher power. Proving the Book of Mormon's linguistic properties as veritable does not prove the plausibility of the content. Even if this linguistic analysis somehow supports the legitimacy of the origins of the Book of Mormon, my opponent still fails to provide logical claims to support the content within the texts.

R7: On the Alleged Creation of a New Argument

I would argue that this was bringing up evidence to support my denial of the BoM's invalidity, not making an entirely separate argument. I will assume this argument is conceded, as my opponent has not provided a response.

R8: On the Claim to Prophecy

My opponent utilizes an excerpt from a Mormon organization, which is clearly biased.

It is evident that there were undeniable tensions between the North and South which peaked in 1832 with the crisis. These tensions carried through to the Civil War. I am in no way claiming that a civil war was obviously imminent in 1832, and I am impressed if Joseph Smith guessed right in this case, if these claims are true. But saying this is a prophecy, and therefore claiming Joseph as a divine prophet, is highly irrational. If I guessed that a third world war would begin in 2025, and I was right, I am still not a prophet, even if I claim to be.

-------------------

Closing Statement

I ask that you all kneel, and pray to a supernatural being. Whichever you prefer, but do so as truthfully and legitimately as you can. Ask if the next 100 times you flip a coin, every time, the coin will land on the heads side. Then, once you have finished your prayer, flip a coin 100 times. I can almost guarantee that your wishes will not be fulfilled.

Some of you may deny the logic in believing that a coin will land on heads 100 times in a row anyway. Great. However, some remain, and try to logically support the belief that if one truly has faith in a supernatural being, a coin will land on heads 100 times in a row. Even one-hundred thousand, or perhaps infinitely many.

As an atheist, I can dismiss this as irrational belief. Why? Because of statistics. Because of logic. Because of science. Because of human understanding and human perception. The theist might shout, "Well, there is still the possibility!", or, "You can't prove that this won't happen!". I can simply respond that I have a far better chance of being right.

Sorry, you may have prayed to the wrong being, as logically, there can only really be one that is true, if any. Hindus believe their world view is universally true. Buddhists think the same. Mormons also think the same. But, in reality, we can see that it is implausible to have faith in these institutionalized religions in general; not one can really trump the others.

Belief in the supernatural is blind faith, as my opponent has evidently conceded in his claim of religion being outside the sphere of human understanding. Mormonism is filled with flaws- from logical improbabilites in scripture, to logical voids in the Mormon idea of infinite regression of deities. In some places, Mormon belief is even unscientific, with scientific evidence showing the lack of support for the Mormon theory on the origin of Native American tribes. In all, however hard my opponent tries to justify this faith, Mormonism still stands as implausible, irrational and highly flawed, akin to the rest of today's religions.

I thank you all for reading, and I ask a vote in favor of Pro. I would like to extend my gratitude to my opponent as well; this has been a fantastic debate.
Varrack

Con

This is quite interesting. Pro has cherry-picked parts of my arguments to respond to, while ignoring the rest and simply stating that they are irrational. Pro makes some huge concessions which make it practically impossible for him to win.

Burden of Proof & the Resolution

I contend still that the larger end of the BoP lies on my opponent. I explained my reasoning in Round 2 thus: "I can't affirm that Mormonism is perfect by not debunking flaws that have been pointed out - I would instead have to search the entire religion for every possible inconsistency, which is hard to achieve. Also, the only way I can affirm that Mormonism is rational without comparing it to other religions is to provide objective evidence of it being true, which isn't as easy as my opponent pointing out things they may not think to be logical."

This was never responded to, meaning it was conceded. Thus, as a reader, you must assume that Pro has the larger end of the BoP, since such was asserted by both sides.

Since our cases revolve around the validity of Mormonism, I will show the two possibilities that could occur from the claims shown:

-If Mormonism is likely true, then there must be a rational base for believing in it, and it probably isn't flawed.
-If Mormonism is likely untrue, then it is probably flawed, and there may be illogical reasons to believe in it. However, this does not fulfill the burden of proof, as Pro needs to show that Mormonism is deprived of reason. Even if he shows that it is flawed, he cannot affirm it being irrational unless it is apparent that there is no reason to believe in it.

This burden is impossible to fulfill because many of my arguments on the rationality of this faith have been dropped. By doing such, Pro concedes that there are reasons to believe in Mormonism. One of the important ones is the argument I made about the BoM likely having a Semitic origin, meaning that it was probably translated. Since this was a reason to believe in the faith, and was never answered, then it is utterly impossible for Pro to affirm that Mormonism is completely deprived of reason, (as is the definition of irrational). Thus, as the BoP has failed to have been met, you must vote Con by default.

Although it is needless to respond to Pro's responses based on the nature of the resolution, I will do so anyway.

Rebuttals

R1 makes no argument. It is based on the assertion that my arguments are irrational, which is a bare claim in itself. Dismissed.

R2 is based around discussion of the existence of God, with two contentions made: the existence of evil and the omnipotence paradox. The existence of evil is permitted because of free will given to all men, meaning that all people have the ability to choose between good and evil, and some will inevitably choose evil. To allow evil is to allow one's agency, for to prohibit it is to restrict the ability to choose. Since free will is a good in itself (which I'm sure my opponent will agree), then it is important to uphold goodness to allow it to happen. The omnipotence paradox isn't a problem either: God could create a rock and then restrict his power so that he would not be able to lift it. To not be able to restrict oneself would be a contradiction of omnipotence, so this scenario can exist.

R3 is a branch off of the infinite regression argument, responding only to one of the remarks I made in that contention and ignoring the rest. Stating that "God is above human comprehension" doesn't negate anything, because such a statement isn't strictly specific. God's existence is comprehendable, but not the entirety of his being or his nature.

R4 makes assertions while dropping everything I said in the last round. I showed how rational inquiry is a legitimate base for evidence, and how faith is the precursor to that. Extend these arguments.

R5. Extend all rebuttals on DNA evidence. I showed why the results of DNA testing ought not to be trusted. Pro responded by simply stating "I trust science". That's great, but I've shown why not to trust it in this case alone. I am not denying all science, just showing why it shouldn't be trusted in this instance. This is personal bias.

R6. "Proving the Book of Mormon's linguistic properties as veritable does not prove the plausibility of the content." Yes it does. Another face value bare assertion made again by Pro. Extend all arguments on BoM.

R7. Pro used a new argument to deny the validity of the BoM in response to my argument about its validity. That is a direct violation of the rules, as stated in Round 1 that no new arguments are to be made in round 3.

R8 commits the Genetic Fallacy by attempting to dismiss my source simply because of its origin. https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com...

Also, if someone claims to be a prophet, and makes prophecies that come true, then that person is likely a prophet. If I said that the Baltimore, Marlyand riots from earlier this year is a prediction of a civil war erupting, I would be thought of as crazy. The tensions between the North and South do not indicate the eruption of a civil war, especially when such a war has never occurred in the history of the US up to that point in time.

Dropped Arguments

- Blind Faith & Rational Inquiry
- Infinite Regression
- Logical Improbabilities
- DNA Evidence responses
- Writing of the BoM

Conclusion

The end result is plain and simple: the BoP on Pro's end was never fulfilled. I fulfilled my end by showing how there is evidence for the validity of Mormonism, which was never refuted by Pro. Belief in religion comes from personal inquiry of that which is supernatural, and is not mutually exclusive with science. There is plenty of objective and subjective evidence for Mormonism, and I believe I've made myself very clear on it. Although I think Pro is passionate about his beliefs, I don't think that his arguments are good enough to refute Mormonism. Anyways, thanks for the debate, and of course, vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
49 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Preston 2 years ago
Preston
Obvious Con Win, RFD I will post in comments, as a Google Doc, may or may not vote
Posted by evanjfarrar 2 years ago
evanjfarrar
Again, you fail to see why faith is irrational by itself. Faith is belief without evidential reason to believe; it is void of sound reason and logic, which is the very definition of irrational.

We can argue about the merits of the Book of Mormon all day, however, it is impossible to support the presence of faith in the logical sphere of human comprehension. As Varrack has already said, supernaturalism, or belief in a higher power, is outside the realm of human understanding, and it is obviously irrational to hold faith in something beyond comprehension. I really don't see any possible refutation of this claim, besides claiming that faith is somehow beneficial to the human race, which I also see as impossible in this case.

------------------------

"You also have an internal conflict here, in order to use the BOM to prove that Mormonism is untrue is to say that the BOM is true and thus can be applied to show that mormons are off base, however you are attacking the BOM while also saying "l. Other than citing certain sections of the text, there is really no way you can prove either side." This is fallacious as well.

I have to assume that something is true to point out the flaws in it, just as I have to consider God's existence to point out the irrationality of the faithful position.
Posted by Preston 2 years ago
Preston
- - - -I don't think any religions are rational, because all of them look to a higher power, or something beyond the observable natural world, to explain things that science cannot currently answer. That is the main characteristic of religion that I find to be irrational.

Ok, so you dont have faith, thats fine, but it doesnt make it irrational. Do you believe in the past? Because you have no way of proving it exists, you cant even prove anything outside of yourself exists unless you have faith.

- - - -I have cherry-picked examples for obvious reasons- the Mormon text is too extensive for one not to have such a strategy when proving Mormonism is rational/irrational. Other than citing certain sections of the text, there is really no way you can prove either side.

Ok, So 2 things, cherry picking is fallicious and abusive, you shouldnt cherry pick, you have to prove mormonism, as a whole, is flawed. not 1 passage.

You also have an internal conflict here, in order to use the BOM to prove that Mormonism is untrue is to say that the BOM is true and thus can be applied to show that mormons are off base, however you are attacking the BOM while also saying "l. Other than citing certain sections of the text, there is really no way you can prove either side." This is fallacious as well.

- - - -Oh, and feel free to actually present the evidence for the river flowing into the Red Sea, because I see no evidence.

ok, https://rsc.byu.edu...

and you are misquoting the red sea verse it says "Lehi noted that the river which he named after his son Laman "emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea."" feel free to look into it further but this refers to when ancient Near Eastern lexical and cosmological considerations are taken into account. In the ancient Near East there were two great bodies of water, the saltwater oceans and the subterranean sweet waters, both of which were thought b
Posted by evanjfarrar 2 years ago
evanjfarrar
"Your wall of text has literally no support for your claim other than 'I studied it' which I do sincerely doubt after looking at your arguments. These are cherry picked examples, See if i was debating you I would establish what makes a religion rational, then point out how we stand above it, but then again the religions that you seem to think are rational kill people and pass laws to execute those who don't fit in. But mormons are bad because there are no current rivers running into the red sea, although there is evidence that rivers used to flow into the red sea."

----------------------------

I don't think any religions are rational, because all of them look to a higher power, or something beyond the observable natural world, to explain things that science cannot currently answer. That is the main characteristic of religion that I find to be irrational.

I have cherry-picked examples for obvious reasons- the Mormon text is too extensive for one not to have such a strategy when proving Mormonism is rational/irrational. Other than citing certain sections of the text, there is really no way you can prove either side.

Oh, and feel free to actually present the evidence for the river flowing into the Red Sea, because I see no evidence. One of the reasons the Red Sea is so saline is because of the lack of flow, and the effects of extensive evaporation. Also, if you want to have an argument over evidence for religion, specifically Mormonism, I am happy to present why religion does not have any supporting evidence, and why religion is generally incompatible with evidence-based reasoning.
Posted by Preston 2 years ago
Preston
@Kyle_the_Heretic We would get along IRL, hahaha, I agree what I said may come across aggressive, however the one thing ive learned in life is 'Say what you mean because if you dont then you are wasting your time.' I think you are trying to say, The elderly are wiser than Youth, I would diligently agree if this was what you were saying. I see now this is what you meant however.

@evanjfarrar
I do not state 'You dont understand this religion' because you question it, I do so because you think that challenges such as the one you have provided 'Make mormonism stand out for the worst.' If you honestly think this religion is based purely off the Book of mormon then you don't understand that we believe that doctrine can change, and that its goal as a religion is to benefit the family.

Your wall of text has literally no support for your claim other than 'I studied it' which I do sincerely doubt after looking at your arguments. These are cherry picked examples, See if i was debating you I would establish what makes a religion rational, then point out how we stand above it, but then again the religions that you seem to think are rational kill people and pass laws to execute those who don't fit in. But mormons are bad because there are no current rivers running into the red sea, although there is evidence that rivers used to flow into the red sea.
Posted by Varrack 2 years ago
Varrack
I used all 10,000 characters on that one...limit is just too small.
Posted by Kyle_the_Heretic 2 years ago
Kyle_the_Heretic
@ Varrack

Forget I said it. I apologize. You seem to be way too busy trying to be the winning post number to have time to be cocky anyway. I'd go nuts posting over and over again just to be the winner. Kind of makes me glad I'm old and boring.
Posted by Varrack 2 years ago
Varrack
@Kyle_the_Heretic,

I'm not quite sure what you mean by cockiness translating into one being a bad representative of their religion. If I came off cocky, I didn't intend it that way, and wasn't really sure how to phrase my comment differently while still getting my point across. Even if me being young means I talk differently than older folks, I don't think that necessarily implies that I am shaming my religion, but rather going through a learning process in which I can better say my thoughts.
Posted by evanjfarrar 2 years ago
evanjfarrar
@evanjfarrar hahaha, you already lost, its always funny to see someone who doesnt understand mormonism in depth try to criticize it, its like a child who doesnt want to eat his pineapple but hasnt ever had pineapple :P good luck beating a mormon at a mormonism discussion.

-----------------

Preston,

I thank you for involving yourself in this discussion, polite or not.

I have studied Mormonism for a while, and I know enough about it that I can claim its irrationality. Your argument is basically that because you are a Mormon, and therefore know about your own religion, my opinion is irrelevant. You jump to the conclusion that I do not know about Mormonism because I am not a Mormon, and because I criticize it when you do not. That is extremely warped logic.

I have always been an atheist, and I like to study religion as a belief structure, and point out its weaknesses. Sure, there are many things that I appreciate about religion. I have many friends that are religious, and I deeply care for them. But I believe organized religion, Mormonism especially, has it all wrong.

I would love to debate the merits of religion with you another time; I have no intention to personally attack or demean you, but only point out the flaws in believing blindly, particularly in certain religious texts like the Book of Mormon.

Thanks,
Evan
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by kasmic 2 years ago
kasmic
evanjfarrarVarrack
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Rfd http://www.debate.org/forums/religion/topic/71045/