The Onus

Albert Camus said that the myth of Sisyphus was the greatest analogy for human life - a folly. But, man's greatest achievement would be to smile while in the place of Sisyphus.

o·nus [oh-nuh s]
noun, plural o·nus·es.
1. a difficult or disagreeable obligation, task, burden, etc.
2. burden of proof.
3. blame or responsibility.

This article is meant to answer what the onus is. It is meant to answer how an atheist lives a moral and fulfilling life. For further background, it is best to read the article “Why I am Atheist?” . This article is illustrating how someone, in the face of absolute existential depression, finds exuberant happiness. There are others out there who have no faith in a God, no beliefs in anything skeptical, but live with a dreadnought of infinite nothingness resting in their dreams. I know that feeling; you know there’s no afterlife, you can feel how powerless life really is. The depth of nothing is so daunting. What can we make of it? I know that many people want a quick and easy answer to life. However, I will take my time with this. This is what I live by. This is what I want to share.

Some think this is the easy slippery slope to violence as there are no believed consequences for your actions. However, someone in this position knows how important their actions are to how others view them. For, as Sartre says, once you die, who you are is dependent on what other people think of you and they will determine that on your behavioral conduct. You know that there is no ethereal entity that can pierce through your soul or anything clandestine  It is a mistake to believe that, with no consequences of an after-life, it warrants immediate violence to others. It was the Ring of Gyges that encapsulates this point. If there was a ring that could make you invisible, what would you do with this power? Many argue that anyone would, without a doubt, commit atrocious and manipulative acts. However, these people are wrong to believe that all people would do so. There are also a great many that would do good or nothing at all. These people exist and are easy to meet.

Nothingness

There are a few of us in the world that accept the following, for others, let this set the premise for the mindset of the onus:

There is no creator. There is no God.

Life is fragile and easily ends. There is no afterlife.

Anything considered a soul or spirit is just a matter of physical energy (ie. kinetic). Nothing supernatural.

We are nothing but memories.  Who we are is just a collection of thoughts.  And thoughts are produced by the brain.  Nothing more.

You have been forced into this world. You have been forced with the responsbility to live it.

You are forced with choices on how to conduct yourself everyday of your life.

For the very fact that you are conscious, you can never be free or ignorant from any of the above. You will never escape your burden of responsibility.

You have the burden of responsibility to make choices in life and decide how to conduct it.

Life is an onus.

Exisential Living

Sartre showed that there are two major ways of approaching life:

For-Others: Living with the constant policing of your thoughts by how others perceive you. Consistently worried what others think and how others feel about you. This is living vicariously through others, other constitutions, while justifying it as being empathetic.  Many of these people will consider themselves as “a people person” or “care too much for others”.  These self-descriptions are likely very true, as it is far too easy to neglect the development of your own self-identity by latching onto others.

Sartre noted that we can be consumed by the “look” that others give us. This is the idea that we are being viewed as an object and that our behavior is vulnerable to judgment while our intentions remain unexplained. In this way of living, we utilize society and people by working for it, by discovering what needs are necessary, what resources are asked for, etc. However, there is no room for individual providence because living this way is consumed by an all more important task; maintaing how you are viewed once you die. “Hell is other people” because we depend so deeply on how others judge us and our behavior is what is most salient to them.

In-Itself: Living by attributing your lifes meaning to other variables such as your job, companions, social groups, friends, community, furniture, your car, etc.

I used to contend that living in-itself offered no such means of individual providence, no means to live as an individual as you attribute your self to other things. However, I missed the point of living in-itself in that you are still a comparable variable to these things. “Bad faith” is an important thing to remember in this. When we live as a certain variable in a system, we are still an existant being in that system, regardless of how we look at it. However, if we are able to make the distinction and maintain awareness that we are an inconsequential variable, we can be authentic beings. We can maintain individual providence so long as we remember that our current role is transient. It is not a means of living or an identity, but a role played in order to support our individuality. This is why we cannot let our job identify us, but we also cannot be so easily swept away by the notion, “I am working Y until X happens”. We should not let Y identify us. We ought to maintain our X identity that we are ambitious for, for it is our individual providence.

At length, the onus of life is best fulfilled by living as an individual in-itself. You can live vicariously through others, but you are then no longer an individual. Your individuality is what defines you by others and yourself. You know when you are creating a facade and you know when you are sacrificing your individuality for the sake of pleasing others. However, if we are powerless beings, we must embrace the only thing that matters most; our individuality.

Empowerment Through Chaos

Most people have an intuitive understanding of chaos theory; one variable can have significant effects on other variables over time. One friend tells a friend who tells two friends, etc. These two together are powerful concepts to remember; the power of chaos and exponential growth.

The Lorenz system is a system of ordinary differential equations (the Lorenz equations) first studied by Edward Lorenz. It is notable for having chaotic solutions for certain parameter values and initial conditions. In particular, the Lorenz attractor is a set of chaotic solutions of the Lorenz system which, when plotted, resemble a butterfly or figure eight. ~ Wikipedia

I just want to clarify one thing about chaos that is usually misunderstood; chaos theory is not disorder or a mess. Chaos, in this case, is the focus on how one variable can have chaotic implications all over the world. It is chaotic because one variable acts analguously to a virus that affects proximal variables and then extensive variables beyond it’s original locality. In other words, “a butterfly flapping it’s wings can start a hurricane on the other side of the planet”. Now, this doesn’t mean immediately, of course. Chaos is not something that is universally defined or has a set of rules; it’s chaos afterall! This is why chaos theory is also usually associated with evolution. I won’t delve into that, but if you are already reading this, then it is likely that you see how chaos theory is an integral part of the gradual process of evolution. After all, it is not like evolution is something that happens in jumps of vulgar mutations, etc. It’s a gradual, progressive, but system. Chaos theory would say that, given all the information, you could easily observe how one variable affects all the others.

To come off the tangent, my point is just that, as a single individual person, you are a single variable in the world. Although you are only one singular variable, you are significantly important to the world and should never think otherwise. This is used to reinforce the importance of living in-itself as an individual.

Morality..?

A question often asked of atheists is, “Where do you get your morality?”. While this article is not explicitly about atheism, it is about the steps taken while becoming atheist. and afterwards. When it comes to morality, many will argue that you require moral policing, ie. God. This is basically the Santas Claus idea: kids will be good if they are rewarded for behaving good and punished for behaving badly. However, in this case, we do not accept any sort of policing phenomenological being over the universe, it’s just us fragile pathetic humans. Of course, many theologians will bump in with arguments reminiscient of the Ring of Gyges argument, “If there’s no consequences in the after life, then an atheist will commit atrocious evils!”. We can, of course, retaliate by pointing at the evils that theists do. Though, this doesn’t explain why atheists do not commit evils, or what reason they have not to.

As an individual with no belief in a moral God, you only have your own wits and society to help decide your morality. This is where I embrace Humanism. Make no mistake though, Humanism is not a religion. There is no dogma in Humanism. There is no faith required. The fundamentals of humanism rest in the idea that moral decisions ought to be central to human concern and humane interaction.

Let’s take a few specific points into consideration. Keep in mind, each of these can be an entire article on it’s own. However, my point is just to show the reasoning utilized by humanism:

+ If Human-kind takes the top priority in moral decisions, does this mean you ought to sacrifice yourself sometimes?
– Yes. Altruism is something that human-kind thrives on and honours. You can find countless sacrifices made by humans for human-kind and how well they are respected.

+ Hitler and his eugencis argued that we ought to utilize evolutionary concepts to better huamn-kind as a whole. Is this Humane?
– This is a more controversial question, but one I ought to address. Firstly, Hitler was definitively NOT an atheist. To anyone who would argue that Hitler was, I let them consider this video:

– To continue the question, hitler’s intentions were mixed. He may be considered a secular humanist as any religion can utilize humanist fundamentals but act more heavily on other morals. This is why Humanism alone is what is best because it is not then mixed with other religious or zealous beliefs.

+ What about abortion?
– As Humanism embraces humane decisions, it would contend that the most humane decision is dependant on the mother whom would also take care of the potential child. Someone may argue that it ought to be a humane decision for the child. When considering the most humane decision, it is arguable that it is more humane to be aborted. To touch on abortion debates, it is amazing how the debate of the child’s abortion is only when it is in fruition.. If you ought to bare the child when it has begun it’s potential growth in life, then you ought to never use condoms and do your best to become pregnant at any given time. Of course, this is held true by many religions, but it is not humane. Simply being born into life is not humane. The most humane thing, for all man-kind, is to raise a humane child. This means having the child in your most promising context. This is why many people will wait till they can properly provide for their child; because it’s humane. Most people will agree that if you are a teen, with no parents, no job, and no education, you cannot responsibly provide for a child. It would be inhumane.

+ What about capital punishment?
– When considering what is best for all human-kind, I would look at the evidence of capital punishment:

the proposed alternative of life sentences without parole and with restitution would ensure harsh punishment and protection of the public, while providing restitution and ensuring that innocent people are not executed. Figures, tables, chapter notes, index, and 209 references
~ https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=138430

– Personally, I am a proponent of positive psychology and would contend that rehabilitation and restitution is the most optimistic and humane solution. While it cannot always be utilized, this does not necessitate punishment of death. The most beneficial thing for all of human-kind is to protect society from those individuals that can inflict harm upon others. However, that does not necessitate death, especially if it has been shown that these people can be rehabilitated for the benefit of society.
At length, I think these examples show the ideal reasoning of humanism.

What is the purpose of life then?  What is the onus?

Life is easy to lose purpose in.  Humans crave patterns and context.  Our brains are virtually programmed to identify patterns in order to better understand and survive our environments.  When we cannot find a reason or purpose in our own lives, we naturally feel a sense of despair.  Why should I be alive if there is no reason to my existence?

In the face of absolutely pointlessness, nothingness, and no purpose is perfect living potential.  It’s a difficult bridge to gap and not one that you dogmatically accept by leaping into.  It will come naturally.  If you are reading this and feeling the existential depression of purposelessness, then hear me out:

Life has given you no purpose to living.  No reason to be here other than to reproduce.

However, you have the ability to question and reason this.  You have the ability to ask what your purpose is.  So many other living things will never and can not think this, let alone think at all.

You are alive.  Whatever you are, you are alive and able to experience.  You have to make constant choices on how to live your life.  Your purpose will inevitably be to experience and grow.  Learn new things.  Meet new people.  Listen to new music.  Smell new aroma’s.  Taste new food.  Feel the breeze of countrysides and the bustling of crowded cities.  Develop a repertoire of experience.

Andreas Vesalius was the first man to record and observe the bones within us.

We are here for a number of years, and then we are dust. Many will say that “life is short”. However, we are lucky to have had any time at all. If you are alive long enough to acknowledge your own existence, then you have experienced something that countless others that could have been in your place and the infinite amount of others who never will. Though, we should not treat death lightly. It can be very easy to end our lives. So we must treat it seriously and keep our wits about us. For me, the skull is the symbol of our mortality. It represents that which is a part of us we naturally want to ignore; what remains of us when our flesh is gone. It is scary to many because of its strong association to death. To me, death reminds me to live life to its fullest potential and enjoy every moment.

You are a cognizant human with the ability to record your experience and intelligently remember them.  Share this with others.  In your own time, you will find things you like and prefer to others.  You will meet people and know which ones you get along with and ones you do not.  Experiences will not always be pleasant.  You will hear awful things.  Taste and smell disgusting things.  But this comes as a consequence of also finding amazing things.  Delicious and enticing smells and foods.

You are here to experience.  What and how you experience life is up to you.  We are burdened with life and how to make our choices.  When we despair in light of a lacking sense of purpose, you must remember the ultimate reason for your existence: to experience.  The onus of life is to decide how we live our lives.  If you find that you do not know how to experience new things, open the doors to random chaotic experiences.  Order food you have never tried.  Listen to music you never heard of.  Say hi to strangers. Ask that girl out.  Buy that guy a drink.  Talk.  Join the discussion.

Enjoy life.

~

Logical Fallacies

Here’s some quick summaries of logic and logical fallacies:

 

Deductive Logic
Bolstered by Rene Descartes
– Example: All ravens are black.  That is a raven.  Therefore, it is black.
– Process in which a conclusion is reached by a series of premises. 
– Logic Example: P = Q, Q = R, Thus, P = R

Inductive Logic
Bolstered by Francis Bacon
– Example 1: This raven is black and that raven is black.  Therefore, all ravens are black.
– Example 2: This swan is white.  Therefore, all swans are white.
– Note: It only takes one black swan to prove it wrong.
– Process of generalizing premises or a sample to the population of the relevant context. 

➡ Logical Fallacies:

Non-Sequitor
+ This is the fallacy where a statement is made that does not follow from the premises or conclusions.  It is usually intuitive to note it as nonsense.
– Example 1: We found his fingerprints on the gun.  Therefore, guinea pigs are evil.
– Example 2: If all boys like chocolate and chocolate is given for free, then the sun revolves around the earth.

Illicit Appeal to Authority


+ Although we often rely on experts in fields for professional opinions, we somtimes entirely rely an arguments credibility on a professionals opinion.

+ What kind of people should not be relied upon?
– It is a fallacy to rely on those that lack of expertise of the relevant issue, who have no expertise in the relveant issue, and people talking about matters that are known to be problematic (ie. issues that are of subjective nature or inconclusive conclusions)

+ When is it okay?
– When other and independent experts agree with the claim that they are making (ie. gravity is real), and it must be possible for you yourself to check the claim by some systematic observation (ie. drop a cup). In other words, you should always be able to examine the evidence that the experts used to establish the relevant point.

Ad populum; Argument from popularity

+ Sometimes we believe something just because everyone else does, or many others hold a similar belief.  However, if it is a popular belief, then it should be all the more easier to verify its cogency. It is unnecessary and a fallacy to simply accept a belief because other people do.
– Example 1: There is good reason to believe in God; people in every culture, at all times, believed in a God. Therefore, I believe in God.
– Example 2: Everyone smokes, therefore, you should smoke to.

Ad Hominem Argument (against the person, to the man)

+ This is the attempt to make a criticism of the opposition by directly attacking the person purporting arguments. This is a fallacy because the legitimate criticism should be made to the proposed argument, not the person giving the argument. Even evil people can say completely cogent things
– Example 1: Freud’s theories should never be considered in any field.  After all, he did do drugs and was obsessed with sex.
– Example 2: 
Circular Reasoning

+ It is a fallacy to presuppose the truth of your conclusion in your premises. If you are going to assume your conclusion is true before trying to prove it, you are using circular reasoning. 
– Example: There must be a God, since there bible and quan both say there is and the bible and quran were inspired by God.

Begging the question

+ Similar to circular reasoning. When the reasoning for the conlcusion depends on accepting the truh of the conclusion. 

Slippery Slope

+ This is a type of argument in which one makes the claim that one event will inevitably lead to greater other consequences. Often, this further consequences have no relevance or the person does not show a chain of causation. It is usually used as a scare tactic in order to convince others to not follow a certain opposition
– Example 1: If gay marriage is legalized, polygamy will be legalized, and even worse, and soon people will be marrying their relatives and pet animals, thus, same-sex marriage will lead to social chaos.
– Example 2: Marijuana is a “gateway drug”. Marijuana leads to the usage of cocaine.

Straw man

+ The straw man tactic is to take the opposition and set the arguments in a way that is easier to attack or misrepresents their claims. 
– Example: Very popular edited videos of Richard Dawkins by creationists to try and prove him wrong:


Fallacy of Equivocation

+ This fallacy is commited when a key word in an argument is used in two or more sense and the premises seem to support the conclusion. However, this is because the sense of the defined words are not distinguished. It will seem to make sense but only if the words are not defined separately.
– Example 1: Everything evil is black. Everything good is white. Thus, black people are evil.
– Example 2: Theism is better than nothing. Nothing is better than Theism. Thus, theism is better than nothing.

Red Herring

+ Not necessarily a fallacy but an attempt to divert attention away from the real issue. 
– Example 1: Richard Dawkins “What If You’re Wrong?”

– Although his answer is thorough, it does not technically answer the question. However, if he were to add the presumed “I don’t know” or “I would go to hell” then it would be perfectly fine. Creationists often use this as an example to show how Dawkins is wrong – which is a thoroughly false assumption because he explains his answer thorooughly afterwards. 
– Example 2: “I believe in abortion” “Really? Well, the doctor there that does abortions is also a wife beater!” Although it may be true that the doctor beats his wife, it has nothing to do with abortion.

Tu quoque

 

+ This is the attempt to divert attention of vices to the opposition.  It stands for, “You too!” and is usually when someone is trying to show that you are just as faulty for the pointed flaw as they are.  While it may be true that you are at fault for something, it is a fallacy to ignore the point in favour of attacking the other.  Truthfully, this is usually just an attempt to save-face rather than admit being wrong.

 

Confusing Correlation with Causation

 

+ There is a plethora of evidence out there involving correlations and they are often used to imply a causation of a factor.  So, with more X we have more Y.  However, that does not mean that X causes Y, it only indicates a relationship or coincidence.

 

Post-hoc ergo propter hoc

 

+ “After this, therefore because of this” follows correlations perfectly because it is the exact fallacy that is being used.  It is also common for someone to think that because a certain variable simply happened before another, that it must have caused it.
– Example 1: I bought a stock in apple then terrorists crashed into the WTC.  Therefore, buying stocks causes terrorist attacks.
– Example 2: Helen moved into my house and then I noticed cockroaches in my basement.  Therefore, Helen causes cockroaches to appear.

 

False Analogy

 

+ Often in arguments, we use analogies to draw similarities between concepts to relay a point.  However, there is the fallacy of using an analogy between two things which have no relevant variables.
– Example 1: Gun control is like birth control.

 

Examples of debates using fallacies

 

Media examples chock full of fallacies, can you find them..?


What do you think..?

Why Mormonism is Moot

Mormonism, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), is an inarguably popular religion. While it is not as prolific as Christianity or Islam, it is certainly an extension of Christianity and Theism. Many of us are accustomed to seeing the white shrit and black pants boys on bikes trying to talk to you about God. Normally, we avoid them. Normally, people avoid religious debate all together, it can be intimidating and many of us humbly admit to not knowing where to question or what to believe. Mormons are certainly a confident group and they are often noted for their charisma. However, Mormons make one grave mistake that humans are inclined to making too often; believing something absolutely bunk because of either traditions or kernels of proverbial reasoning.

Religions often preach that “love” is what their religion values most. However, they completely neglect the idea that there is not a single good that cannot be done without a belief in God. Furthermore, while they pontificate “love” as their main tenet, so do other religions. How can you tell who to believe? Well, you’d ask for further details. Unfortunately, when it comes to Mormonism, you’re heading towards a boat load from a treasure hunter who fantasizes about finding relics with glowing stones all the way from Egypt.

tl;dr

A guy named Joe Smith says he met an angel who gave him golden plates that only he can see and read. He says that it’s the restored bible that came from people who moved from Egypt and Israel to the america’s in 600 BC. Jesus, went to the america’s and told them all about God but then they were all killed by the people who we found later to be natives. If you preach the Book of Mormons, you too can become like Jesus and be a God in the after-life. Mormonism’s values are similar to Christianity. Polygamy is sometimes acceptable, depending on who you ask.

➡ Founding

Before Jospeh Smith found Mormonism, he was a treasure hunter. Joseph Smith claimed that the could dig tresure up from the dirt by using seer stones to tell him where to find them. To find out this information, he would put the seer stones in the bottom of a hat and then read the reflections from the stone. Many people ignore this history of Smith because it makes his founding look all the more skeptical.

Mormonism was founded by a man named Joseph Smith. In 1823, Smith claims that hewas visited by an angel named “Moroni” who told him where to find relics that would reveal the foundations of Mormonism. Included in these relics was the golden plates that would translate the book of Mormons to Smith. However, there was a catch and that is that he could not show the plates to anyone else nor could anyone see them. Smith would publicly translate the book to people, but he would hide the relics at the bottom of a hat or hide behind a curtain while, apparently, utilizing the angelic relics.

Of course, there was much doubt about the existance of these relics, so Smith had witnesses sign a paper showing that they had seen them. However, each witness was family or financially backing Smith. If this isn’t the definition of bias, what woulde be? Of course, it is also a logical fallacy to believe that a simple witness to something proves it’s existance. This is where faith would be necessary, but usually theistic religions require faith in God, not in the credibility of the holy texts authorship. For example, the Bible has been revised numerous times by the Council of Nicaea. However, these were groups of reputable members in the religion. At least Christians claim that humans wrote the bible, in plain sight, with God speaking through them. Yes, it’s still a problem to debate, but it’s a lot more credible than golden plates that no one can see but you that you found in the hills with the help of an angel and only you can read it in the bottom of a hat!

If you are to pontificate a new religion to others, you ought to be able to offer good reasoning or justification for your credibility aside from forcing others to say they believe you. When considering Joseph Smith’s background and the methods of writing the Book of Mormon, there is far too much room for doubt and suspicion.

➡ Beliefs

Essentially, Mormonism is an extension of Christianity. Mormonism utilizes the Old and New Testament as holy texts in support of it’s foundational beliefs. So, if you already have an understanding of the basics in these texts, then you know the very basic foundations of Mormonism.

Mormonism is really defined by the book of Mormons. In this, Joseph Smith explains all. So, for the sake of brevity, I want to give the quick run-down of what they believe without trying to convert you to Mormonism. While missionaries want to simply convert you to God, they will leave out a lot of key tenets of Mormonisms belief system and it’s flaws. When considering something to live by for the rest of your life, you really ought to question it fully, should you not?

Anyways, let’s look at the foundational beliefs.

Think of the Book of Mormons as the continuation and addition to the Old and New Testamanets. Smith explains, in the Book of Mormon, that Christ is amongst other Gods in heaven whom routinely create planets to spread life. It is a continuing process of reproducing. By believing in God and giving strong efforts in spreading their word, you too can join their ranks in God-hood, like Jesus, in the after-life. Marriages made in human form are continued in the after-life, so it’s easy to see where the problem of polygamy came in when reproduction is such a key tenet of Mormonism. On that note, it is important to mention that Brigham Young, the most notable successor of Smith after his death, introduced the concept that Adam (Adam and Eve) is the father of all spirits on Earth and the originator of all human-life. This is important to note because this is something testable.

The extension upon the Bible is that Israelites and Egyptians moved to the America’s, from Jerusalem, in 600 BC. There were four nations: Nephites, Lamanites, Jaredites, and Mulek’s. Let’s take a quick look at them:

Nephites: These are the light-skinned people. However, they were all killed by the

Lamanites. Before the last one died, they buried the golden plates that Smith would later claim to have uncovered, with the help of the angel Moroni.

Lamanites: These are the dark-skinned people. Mormonism’s will typically argue that the native people of America were Lamanites.

Jaredites: These are the people of southern America. They were apparently from the tower of Babel so their was linguistic differences.

Mulek’s: An inconsequential nation that worked with the Lamanites.

So why do Mormons go around preaching their beliefs? Because they believe that, by doing so, they will become Gods in the after-life. We can see more of the belief system exposed in my next section.

➡ Crucial Flaws

Without going into the philosophical arguments first, I want to first note very important physical flaws in Mormonism.

Archaeology

“I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel” ~ 1 Nephi 16:18

You can see, for yourself, that even the Smithsonian Institution has noted that there is no evidence supporting the existance of any of the nations, nor their use of steel or iron:

“…never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide

….

Present evidence indicates that the first people to reach this continent from the East were the Norsemen who briefly visited the northeastern part of North America around AD 1000 and then settled in Greenland.

Iron, stseel, glass, and silk were not used in the New World before 1492.

….

No reputable Egyptologist or other specialist on Old World archaeology, and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archaeological remains in Mexico and archaeological remains in Egypt.”

+ http://irr.org/mit/smithsonian.html

Furthermore, if Mormons are taking the same premise as Christians that Adam and Eve are the first two humans created, then they must face the lacking archaeological evidence that they ever existed. You can find a plethora of evidence showing human fossils tracing millions of years back in time… and I will show you some of it.

“New discoveries combine to indicate that all the major steps in human evolution took place in Africa. Skeletal analysis of oldest human forbears around 3 million years ago reveal many anatomical similarities to African Great Apes. These and biochemical resemblances indicate a common ancestry for humans and apes, perhaps only a few million years earlier. Enlarged knowledge through recent recovery of skeletons of several successive stages in the line leading to modern peoples shows that many attributes or skills by which we define humanity arose much more recently in time than heretofore believed.”

+ Human Origins

“A highly resolved primate cladogram based on DNA evidence is congruent with extant and fossil osteological evidence. A provisional primate classification based on this cladogram and the time scale provided by fossils and the model of local molecular clocks has all named taxa represent clades and assigns the same taxonomic rank to those clades of roughly equivalent age. Order Primates divides into Strepsirhini and Haplorhini. Strepsirhines divide into Lemuriformes and Loriformes, whereas haplorhines divide into Tarsiiformes and Anthropoidea. Within Anthropoidea when equivalent ranks are used for divisions within Platyrrhini and Catarrhini, Homininae divides into Hylobatini (common and siamang gibbon) and Hominini, and the latter divides into Pongina forPongo(orangutans) and Hominina forGorillaandHomo. Homoitself divides into the subgeneraH.(Homo) for humans andH.(Pan) for chimpanzees and bonobos. The differences between this provisional age related phylogenetic classification and current primate taxonomies are discussed.”

+ Toward a phylogenetic classification of primates based on DNA evidence complemented by fossil evidence

Atonement

This is already a significant problem for Christianity as it is. If the Mormons are to take Christs sacrifice as a form of atonement, you must ask how he is atoning and to whom? Considering the idea that Adam and Eve are already non-existant characters that apparently initiated original sin, then who is Christ atoning for to begin with? Let the good man Dawkins explain:

Sexism

Firstly, Mormons definitively believe women to be inferior to men. Perhaps more liberal minded Mormons may believe otherwise, but it would contradict the reproducing nature of their after-life and the purpose of women on Earth, according to their own Holy Texts. Bruce R. McConkie, a LDS leader, is quoted as saying, “woman’s primary place is in the home, where she is to rear children and abide by the righteous counsel of her husband”:

+ http://www.caic.org.au/lds/mormwomn.htm

Here are some direct quotations from the Book of Mormon to support sexism:

“For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women.” ~ Jacob 2:28

“And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.” ~ 2 Nephi 13:12

Past Flaws

Initial flaws in the church included polygamy, racism, financial secrecy, homophobia, and history revisionism. Mormons views on polygamy and racism has changed, but this is also in part due to their constant and frequent editing of the Book of Mormon. Of course, if it was the word of God, should it not be invincible and true? Why should the word of the immortal creator of all life and existance need a revision?

Marriage and Divorce

Almost all religions claim that their marriage, under the name of God, will maintain the integrity of the marriage. Mormons hold marriage to be even more significant as it continues through their mortal life to the after-life. Thus, Mormons must inexorably value marriage more than an Atheist. Furthermore, if the marriage is under the name of our creator and invincible God, what is the point of saying this if he does not contribute any integrity to the marriage at all? Furthermore, what about the evidence showing that Atheists have the lowest divorce rates?

Here are results done by the Barna Research Group, which is, ironically, a Christian organization:

“11% of all American adults are divorced

25% of all American adults have had at least one divorce

27% of born-again Christians have had at least one divorce

24% of all non-born-again Christians have been divorced

21% of atheists have been divorced

21% of Catholics and Lutherans have been divorced

24% of Mormons have been divorced

25% of mainstream Protestants have been divorced

29% of Baptists have been divorced

24% of nondenominational, independent Protestants have been divorced

27% of people in the South and Midwest have been divorced

26% of people in the West have been divorced

19% of people in the Northwest and Northeast have been divorced”

+ Atheism and Divorce

An additional factor that some people take is that education or attendance to religious events makes a difference in divorce rates and family integrity. However, there is evidence showing that this is still not true. While Atheism is not included in this study, it is evident that we can attribute Mormons with having lower divorce rates than most other religions, aside from Atheism.

“This paper examines religious differentials in patterns of family formation. When compared with those who state no religious preference, Catholics, Protestants, and Mormons are more likely to marry, less likely to divorce, more likely to remarry following divorce, and they have larger families. … These patterns are not altered when frequency of attendance and education are included as control variables.”

+ Religion and Family Formation

Joseph Smith is a martyr..?

The events that lead up to Joseph Smith’s death are controversial, but it doesn’t take much research to learn what happened. Joseph Smith was running for the president of the US but he, of course, had a lot of opposition. The main opposition was a group of people who produced a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor. The main problem people had with Smith, aside from trying to change the US to a Theocracy (clergymen rule the country), Smith was accused of practicing polygamy and having subjugating views of women. In response, Smith had the newspaper destroyed (bureaucractically). This censorship caused a lot of problems and lead Smith to be jailed, with his brother. They went willingly saying that they were innocent men and would let the court show so. However, an angry mob busted into the jail and shot them both to death.. many, many times.

So, many people consider Smith a martyr for this. I am curious how..? Let me just double check..

mar·tyr

Noun: A person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs.

Ok, yeah. A martyr is someone who dies because of their religious or other beliefs. I suppose Smith is a martyr because he believed he waas innocent of polygamy even though he openly admits to destroying the main medium to try and prove this? How can anyone, in their right mind, think this is matryrdom? Furthermore, some will equate him with Jesus. Well, Smith certainly did not die in the name of God, sin, or divine reasoning. Let’s face it; he was shot by an angry mob of husbands. Do I think they were right to do so? No, of course not. But that doesn’t mean Smith is a martyr. In this case, I’d say both parties are dumb. My biggest problem would have been Smith trying to change the US into a theocracy. Imagine the differences that would have made and how the public responded to that.

➡ So… what do I say to the preaching Mormons on the street..?

Generally, they will ask you, “Hello. Have you read/are you familiar with the bible/book of mormons?” and then continue to tell you how it spreads love and peace. The thing to remember is that people want to do good and they fervently believe they are doing good by telling others how to love and join their community. You cannot ever expect to turn the tables and try to convert them. However, you can ask questions showing an understanding and genuine problems with acceptance of the religion. When asked if you are familiar with the book of Mormons, here are some genuine options.

Estbalish Joseph Smith as a prophet:

As a precursor, missionaries often ask, “Have you heard the good news?”. While they do not do so all the time now, or they have become exhausted from their folly, this is a common phrase. The good news will be that the bible has been restored and found. This is where we can continue to our questioning.

You ought to first reply, “Yes, but I first must ask, you do declare Joseph Smith as your prophet and inarguable author of the book of mormons?”.

+ No: If they do not, you can then ask who wrote the Book of Mormons if it was not Joseph Smith who translated it from the golden plates. Any Mormon claiming that Joseph Smith did not write the book must be full of shit or is trying to avoid looking like an ill-informed person. Thus, you can ask to look at the Book of Mormons they have on them and look on the inside covers for the signature of the witnesses or Joseph Smith himself. Usually the witnesses signature is there. If so, claim that this signature is in there out of necessity to prove Joseph Smith’s divine translation of God from the golden plates.

+ Yes: Continue below.

Ask about historical problems:

“So Joseph Smith translated the word of God from the golden plates that were left behind by the Nephites, as claimed by the Book itself, right?”

+ No: If they claim that the golden plates were not left behind by the Nephites, you ought to ask them where the golden plates came from. If they continue to disagree, ask them to open to the Chapter of Moroni where he, as the final Nephite, writes about how he and the rest of the Nephites are being killed by the Lamantines and thus leaves the translation buried.

+ Yes(1): “How can you believe that Joseph Smith claims that Nephites existed in America when there is no proof of it? Furthermore, they mention the use of iron and steel in 600 BC but even the Smithsonian Institute denies any possibility of this for extensive years beyond Smith’s claim.”

+ Yes(2): “Where are the plates now..?” This is an often controversial question. I would not personally rely on this question to go anywhere productive as they are most prepared to answer this one with the power of God, Moroni, etc. It would likely be derailed with the “what’s more important, the evidence or the beliefs” argument.

What to believe..?

You can pretty much say this to any religious person to effectively end a debate:

“There are many religious people out in the world claiming that they follow the one true God, that their holy text is the true one, and that all others are false. I’m not sure who to trust because I cannot tell who to trust is the true religion. How can you tell the difference without making a blind leap of faith that could be made for any religion?”

~