A meditation on religious conflict

[This is a prose poem that came out after I finished up writing brief about a particularly gnarly run in with original sin and the law that punishes it. Enjoy!]

“Religious War has signified the greatest advance of the masses so far, for it proves that the masses have begun to treat concepts with respect.  Religious War start only after more refined quarrels between sects have refined reason in general to the point where even the mob becomes subtle and takes trifles seriously and actually considers it possible that the “eternal salvation of the soul” might depend on small differences between concepts.” – F. Nietzsche

“But if all religious teachers were honest enough to renounce their pretensions to godliness when their ignorance of the knowledge of God is made manifest, they will all be as badly off as I am, at any rate; and you might just as well take the lives of other false teachers as that of mine. If any man is authorized to take away my life because he thinks and says I am a false teacher, then, upon the same principle, we should be justified in taking away the life of every false teacher, and where would be the end of blood? And who would not be the sufferer?” – J. Smith

Science tells us that our universe began as a single point, and that human beings are super-developed animals with incredible imaginations that in their limitless symbolizing and shaping of the world with their art spawned religion, civilization, and consciousness of our unfathomable beginning and becoming.

The orthodox catholic tells us that God is the unknowable Father that is the source of this point, but that he is nothing within it, that God is the substance of the man Jesus the Christ that became part of the created world, and the substance of the Holy Spirit that fills creation and the strange human souls that take on the the image of this substance but are condemned to be separated from it.

Mohammed tells us that man is nothing like God, and absolute and unknowable, who has no child and wills all that happens and all that exists, God is the final arbiter of this created reality and should be feared and loved.

The Buddha tells us that we are not separate souls, and God is irrelevant to our enlightenment to this fact; only in our giving up ourselves and our souls can we awake to the reality of God.

Paul tell us that man is a debased spirit separated from God, clothed in corrupt flesh but redeemed to God’s image through assent and capitulation to the reality of the single Christ, the God who submitted to death and suffering to save the world from it.

Moses tells us that there is a law from heaven that all must follow and that one people were chosen to proclaim it.

Joseph Smith tells us that God is the same as us: a single eternal soul living within the uncreated universe who discovered intelligence and then glory though the laws of reality that fill the immensity of space and makes all things as they are.

The Hindu tells us that we are all the shifting faces of God, the absolute reality that sits behind all appearances, and that only those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender themselves to other gods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own many natures.

Pilate tells us that truth is an illusion and then spilled the blood of the man the Christians call God by the power of the law and might of Rome.

Jesus tells us that God’s law and all other truth is swallowed in Christ, the mystery and promise of God’s love, that God’s kingdom has nothing to do with Rome that killed him, but is in midst of the love and joy that springs from His blood and suffering and ours.

The Evangelical tells us that we should proclaim this last Word above all others, and attests that there is no end to this blood that saves us.

It seems that in this blood there should be an end to the blood Nietzsche and Joseph Smith spoke of, but how remains its mystery.

 

Created from Nothing

A chief theological difference between mainstream Christianity and Mormonism is found in “Creation Ex Nihilo”. This is the belief that God is a non-created being who created the universe out of nothing (or out of himself). In my understanding, Mormonism holds that God may or may not be created and that he organized the universe with pre-existing materials.

The most obvious criticism of the Mormon viewpoint is that it leads to the logical fallacy of the endless regress. If God is created, who created God? And who created that creator? And who created that creator? etc. The answer to each question is just passing the buck on into the past.

We know that in the laws of nature (something Evangelicals would say was introduced in the creation) that something can not come from nothing. So Mormons need to answer “where did the pre-existing natural materials come from that God used to create?” And I would follow that question with “if they were created, why aren’t we worshiping their creator?”

The mainstream Christian view is probably most strongly supported by John 1. Aristotle and Plato’s asked the question: who is the logical necessity that is the uncaused cause or the unmoved mover? John answers “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Later John makes it clear that the Word is Jesus. (Which raises more problems for Mormon theology about the nature of Jesus.)

The idea of creation ex-nihilo is supported by the evidence of the Big Bang. The Big Bang shows that the universe had a beginning. There was a one time a specific point where all things were born and put into motion. If it had a beginning that means in had to have a “beginner”.

I’m seriously short changing these concepts and ideas. (and there’s likely going to be some fledgling BYU philosophy student who wants to comment with their own 30 page retort). If you like to read more I’d recommend William Lane Craig’s excellent article in “The New Mormon Challenge” where he specifically places his cosmological argument in the context of Mormon studies.