Response to CARM: A logical proof

22 Aug

I have recently been pointed to a website called Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry as an excellent location to learn LDS doctrine. On this website they have many pages dedicated to what they call exposing the truth of Mormonism. Most of what they present is well thought out, and they use many quotes and documents to support it. When they are simply giving a list of quotes they don’t do too bad. When they try to interpret those quotes and explain doctrine they fail almost completely. So I am starting a new series in which I will address a selection of pages from that website.

The first page I will address is titled “A Logical Proof that Mormonism is False.” It attempts to do what it says; give a logical proof to prove the church wrong. I am not going to quote it in its entirety here, but you can use the link to read the full article. I will summarize it here.

 

The doctrine that the author focuses on is that of the endless generations of gods; more specifically, the belief that there is no beginning, or first generation. As Joseph Smith said, “There never was a son without a father.” The author calls it eternal regression.

After identifying the doctrine that he wishes to focus on he rightly identifies the logic that truth cannot contradict itself. I have no problems admitting this.

His explanation of the doctrine that follows is a bit simplistic, but good enough for the purpose at hand. As he points out, the doctrine teaches “that as far back as you look in time” the cycle of father and children (or generations) “has always been occurring.” He also puts it thus: “from an infinity of time in the past, the Mormon plan of exaltation…has been in effect.”

This is what he claims is logically impossible. Why? As he says “Because you cannot cross an infinity.”

I want to concede this point. One cannot cross an infinity. The reason being there is no beginning or end.

Using this point the author makes the following argument:

“…in order for us to get to the present state of this god on this planet, there would have had to be an infinite number of exaltations in the past. But, this cannot be because in order to get to the present, you would have to transverse an infinite number of exaltations. But that is impossible since you cannot transverse an infinity. Therefore, the Mormon system…is impossible, and Mormonism is proven false.”

 

Now, in conceding the point that one cannot cross an infinity I in no way agree with the reasoning here presented. For his argument to stand one of two things have to also be true. Either it must also be impossible to move in an infinity at all, or the doctrine must mandate that we have, as he said, traversed the entirety of eternity.

Unless the author can prove the second option than he must prove the first. As he can’t prove the second we must look to the first option.

The question then is, “Is it possible to move within an infinity?”

Let us look at an example of an infinity that we move on every day; the number line. In the following illustration we see a standard number line.

Number LineNote that a standard number line continues in both directions to an infinity. As we all know, you can always add one more to any number. It is also true that you can always take one away. These two facts make the number line an infinity.

Now, according to the article, since a number line is an infinity than “in order for us” to be at any point on it “there would have had to be an infinite number” before that point. “But, this cannot be because in order to get to [that point], you would have to transverse an infinite number [before it]. But that is impossible since you cannot transverse an infinity. Therefore [number lines are] impossible.”

This reasoning would, of necessity, be applied to all number lines, including the well known timeline. This is shown below.

TimelineSince a number line is infinite, and since a timeline is a number line, than a timeline is also infinite. In other words, something can always come next and something has always come before. By the author’s reasoning then, no timeline could actually exist because it is an infinity.

However, since we know that number lines do exist (including timelines), and that they are actually infinite, the logical proof presented is proven false. After all, if something actually exists than it must logically be possible.

 

Now, the author does try putting their reasoning another way. “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.”

What this really means is that without a beginning you cannot have a sequence of events. This is again proven false by simply looking at the number line. It has no beginning and yet is a sequence, and a sequence of events when used as a timeline. Thus we have an example of there being no beginning and yet a sequence exists.

Given the number line, while it is impossible to traverse an infinity, it is possible to move within one. As such it is logically possible for us to be where we are and yet still have an infinite number of creations and exaltations in the past.

On a final note the author makes the assumption that Mormons (who obviously can’t argue with his logic) will simply reject the given proof. The assumed response is that Mormons will say the doctrine is a mystery in an attempt to dismiss the proof. The author does say that “Mysteries are fine, but they cannot suffice as an explanation if they contradict logic. In other words, if a principle is blatantly illogically, it cannot be true.”

I would agree, and since I have demonstrated that the principle of the doctrine is perfectly logical and does actually occur in our observable existence, then we can say that the full doctrine is a mystery and still logical, and leave it at that.

Response to CARM: A logical proof continued

The last part of the article claims to give the truth that replaces what the author has proven false. The basic concept is that there has to be an uncaused cause; something that simply exists. The claim is that since the idea of an infinite past is illogical than this idea of an uncaused cause has to be the truth. As I have shown that an infinite past is logical than we are no longer under the necessity of accepting the idea of an uncaused cause. So now we can examine this concept.

To look at this we must consider the law of cause and effect. It is rather simple; for every event there is a preceding event that caused it, as well as a following event that is caused by it. In this way all events can be traced through a series of causes and effects back through time. According to this law of logic there cannot be a cause which does not produce an effect, nor can there be an effect without a corresponding cause. As such, the author is claiming that logic necessitate that we accept as true something that directly contradicts the laws of logic.

The author also gives a few scriptures that they claim support this doctrine. I am not going to comment on them at this time as my purpose is simply to speak on the logical proof presented and the alternative given.

 

On a final note let us remember that the author stated that “Mysteries are fine, but they cannot suffice as an explanation if they contradict logic. In other words, if a principle is blatantly illogically, it cannot be true.” Keep this in mind.

They also said “Saying it is a mystery means nothing if the proclamation of that mystery violates the laws of logic.”

So, with this in mind let us consider the illogical doctrine that the rest of Christianity adheres to; the trinity. This concept claims that God is a single entity that exists as three. It is described as three in one, one as three, but any way you look at it the doctrine is claiming that a plurality is in fact a singularity. The argument is the 1 = 3 and 3 = 1. The most common response when one is asked to explain how this is possible is to simply call it a mystery. Yet, as the author at CARM says, “Saying it is a mystery means nothing if the proclamation of that mystery violates the laws of logic.

 

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