Constructing a Christian Philosophical Apologetic Against the Mormon Worldview – Part 1/4

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Part 1
/ Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

Introduction

Mormonism is one of the fastest-growing religious movements in the world. Unlike Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormon church values the life of the mind, learning, and intellectual sophistication. This fact highlights the need for Christians to be able to present a philosophically sophisticated and well-argued critique of Mormon doctrine with its prerequisite worldview-commitments. While such arguments might be unintelligible to the average Jehovah’s Witness, there is reason to expect more comprehension from a typical representative of the Mormon faith. Admittedly this consideration does lose some of its force when viewed in light of the fact that despite their general valuation of the intellect, the believers in Mormonism tend to ground their faith in subjective, personal experience. But nevertheless, given the Mormons’ generally positive attitude towards (and thus in-principle openness to) the use of reason and evidence, there is hope that such philosophical arguments as will be presented below will sow some seeds of critical reason to the ground of their religious thinking, thus inviting them to engage their mind in the one area that they so seldom seem to subject to the kind of analysis which their general intellectual outlook would allow.

Many of the philosophical problems inherent in Mormon worldview are in one way or another connected to the Mormon doctrine of eternal progression and the cosmology implied by it. This is a fundamental part of the Mormon worldview, just as the question of origins is fundamental to any other worldview. However, the problem in presenting a critique of this aspect of Mormonism is that there appears to be an array of variations pertaining to this idea that are to be found in respectable Mormon sources, but which are not quite at the level of being part of the “official” Mormon doctrine. Therefore, a Mormon may try to avoid the force of any particular argument by simply denying some of the troublesome aspects of the Mormon view that comes under criticism. However, this is far from being a strength in the Mormon position. A lack of a coherent, widely accepted view of origins is simply an indication that a worldview has not met one of the key tests in worldview analysis.

It may be possible, then, to create various versions of the Mormon position on this issue, by the “patchwork” method of using statements by certain Mormon authorities while ignoring others. Consequently, a comprehensive refutation of all such variations may not be possible. Luckily, many of the criticisms that can be raised against individual pieces of Mormon view of origins and cosmology seem to generally maintain their force even when that piece is integrated into a larger whole. Therefore, it will suffice for the Christian to provide criticisms of some of the key aspects and put the burden of proof upon the shoulder of a Mormon who maintains that a version of Mormon cosmology can be crafted which overcomes the force of these criticisms.

Continue to Part 2

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