(More Bible Studies Available @ www.marktabata.com)
It is written:
1 Corinthians 8:5-6-For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
About two years ago, I was blessed to meet a couple of missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often referred to as “Mormons,” and referred to here as such with no intended malice or insult). I pulled over and introduced myself and invited them to my home for a Bible study. They told me they had heard of me, but would be very glad to speak with me.
On the appointed day, we met and had a cordial discussion over lasagna and water (instead of my normal cherry coke). One of the first things that we discussed had to do with the Nature of God.
Mark: I really appreciate this opportunity to speak with you.
Mormons: We don’t often have people seek us out to talk! Thanks for having us.
Mark: Well, let me start with a question, which I suspect will lead to another.
Mormons: Very well.
Mark: Whenever I study with anyone, one of the first things that I share with them deals with how I know that there is an eternal God. We can see the evidence from the Law of Causality, the fact of design in the universe, and from the existence of moral law. Would you agree that there must be an eternal Creator?
Mormons: (Looking at each other and one spoke up). Well, we definitely believe that there is a god.
Mark: I see. You acknowledge that there is a God, but you do not want to identify Him as the eternal Creator?
Mormons: Well, it is a little bit more complicated than that.
Mark: I will try to keep up. But before you go further, I suspect it is a good time to ask my next question.
Mormons: (Smiling). Please!
Mark: Why don’t you tell me about Kolob?
From there, the conversation went in a few different directions.
Christians often believe that the god worshipped by Mormons is the same God that we worship. (The lowercase “g” for the Mormon god is intentional, not a typo).
However, the eternal God of Creation (Who is the same God revealed not only in Creation but also in the pages of the Holy Bible) is not the same god as the god of Mormonism.
You see, Mormons believe that their god is actually Adam (the same from in the Garden of Eden), and that Adam is actually an extraterrestrial (alien) from a star system called Kolob.
No, they don’t advertise this to the people that they attempt to convert (at least, not in the experience of the Mormons that I have studied with).
Let me provide the documentation that this is what they teach.
In the Mormon church, there is a document known as the Journal Of Discourses. One of the writers of this tome is a man named Brigham Young, who is one of the most respected leaders of the Mormon organization. Listen to what Brigham Young claims for himself in the Journal:
“I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture.” (Brigham Young, as quoted in Erastus Snow, Orson Hyde, et al, The Complete Journal of Discourses – Deluxe LDS Reference Edition – with Comprehensive TOPICAL Guide, Multiple Indexes, Speaker Biographies, & Over 12,500 Links, 127501 (Kindle Edition))
“Not here, I do not allude to anything of the kind in this place, but in the councils of the nations-that Brigham Young has said “when he sends forth his discourses to the world they may call them Scripture.” I say now, when they are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible, and if you want to read revelation read the sayings of him who knows the mind of God, without any special command to one man to go here, and to another to go yonder, or to do this or that, or to go and settle here or there.” (Brigham Young, as quoted in Erastus Snow, Orson Hyde, et al, The Complete Journal of Discourses – Deluxe LDS Reference Edition – with Comprehensive TOPICAL Guide, Multiple Indexes, Speaker Biographies, & Over 12,500 Links, 131960 (Kindle Edition))
Now, that’s pretty clear isn’t it?
Listen to what Young said on April 9, 1852, under the sermon, Self-Government-Mysteries-Recreation And Amusement, Not In Themselves Sinful-Tithing-Adam, Our Father And Our God (yes, you read that correctly, M.T.):
“When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is michael, the archangel, the ancient of days! About whom holy men have written and spoken-he is our father and our god, and the only god with whom we have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later. They came here, organized the raw material, and arranged in their order the herbs of the field, the trees, the apple, the peach, the plum, the pear, and every other fruit that is desirable and good for man; the seed was brought from another sphere, and planted in this earth…. What a learned idea! Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven.” (Erastus Snow, Orson Hyde, et al. The Complete Journal of Discourses – Deluxe LDS Reference Edition – with Comprehensive TOPICAL Guide, Multiple Indexes, Speaker Biographies, & Over 12,500 Links, 1490-1509 (Kindle Edition)
More recently, another Mormon scholar has written:
“It is equally clear from the teachings of latter-day prophets, that Eloheim, our Father, was once a mortal being working out his salvation upon another earth in subjection to his Father. Joseph Smith taught: It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that… he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the father of us all, dwelt on an earth. 2 President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “Our Father in Heaven, according to the Prophet, had a Father, and since there has been a condition of this kind through all eternity, each Father had a Father.” 3 Brigham Young explained that “there never was a time when there were not Gods and worlds and when men were not passing through the same ordeals that we are now passing through.” 4 Surely, these divine progenitors of Eloheim are deities in their own right, with worlds, powers, kingdoms, and creations of their own. None of which could have been created by Eloheim or Jehovah.” (Lynn M. Hilton, The Kolob Theorem, a Mormon’s View of God’s Starry Universe, 384-400 (Kindle Edition); Orem, Utah; Granite Publishing and Distribution, LLD)
Now, let’s stop and unpack what we have read here.
According to Mormon theology, the god which they worship is actually an extraterrestrial (alien) from another planet, who himself was created by another god; and that god was made by another god; etc. etc. stretching back into infinity. This is the first big problem with the Mormon view of god: it leads to an infinite regress which leads to an infinite number of contradictions which would make existence impossible.
Let me illustrate:
Mark: Guys, before we look at the question of god being an alien, I want to ask you where his creator came from.
Mormons: He was made by another god.
Mark: Well, where did that god come from?
Mormons: Well, he was made by someone greater than him.
Mark: So you are saying that there has been an endless chain of gods without an actual eternal God Who started the whole process?
Mark: Well, that’s impossible.
Mormons: What do you mean?
Mark: Well, that is called an infinite regress by philosophers. It’s the idea of an endless chain of finite causes and effects stretching back into infinity without something to actually start the process. The problem is, that leads to an unlimited number of contradictions which would make the whole chain impossible. Let me share these words with you from a gentleman who gives some great illustrations of what I mean. You guys stay with me!
“Actual infinites are sets of numbers to which no increment can be added since, by nature of their infiniteness, the set includes all numbers—there is nothing to add. If this is hard to imagine, there is good reason: actual infinites do not exist and cannot exist in the physical world. If actual infinites did exist in the physical world, we would see absurdities and effects we could not live with, literally. For instance, let’s say you had a CD collection that was infinitely large, and each CD had an infinite number of songs on it. If you listened to one CD, you hear as much music as if you had listened to all of the CDs—an infinite amount—and yet those infinites are of different sizes—a nonsensical notion. Let’s also say that there were only two artists in your CD collection, Bach and the Beatles, and that every other CD was by the Beatles. This would mean that you had as many Beatles CDs as you would Beatles and Bach CDs combined; they would both be an infinite number. But at the same time they would be different sized infinites. And would the number of Beatles CDs be odd or even? It must be one or the other, but to speak of infinity in such a way is irrational.” “Or imagine a racecar driver and his son. The racecar driver is making circuit after circuit on a track a mile long. Meanwhile in the infield, his three-year-old son is on his tricycle going in circles. The son is completing a dozen or so circuits to his dad’s one. But if they had each been going for an infinite amount of time, they would have completed an equal number of circuits! If this makes your brain hurt or is confusing at all, then you are beginning to understand why actual infinites do not exist in the physical world. These examples are not just interesting brainteasers or puzzles. The fact that if X = Y then X cannot also be twelve times greater than Y is extremely important. You would never want to cross a bridge, ride in a car, or live in a house designed by an engineer who didn’t recognize or didn’t care about the absurdities of actual infinites. This demonstration of the non-existence of actual infinites can be applied in two real-world areas, time and causality. The best way to show that time is not infinite, that it had a beginning, is to observe that there is a “now.” If now exists, then time cannot be infinite. To show this, picture the moment “now” as a destination, like a train station. Then picture time as train tracks that are actually infinitely long. If you were a passenger waiting on the train to arrive, how long would you have to wait? The answer is: forever. You can never reach the end of infinity; thus, infinitely long train tracks cannot ever be crossed. There is no end to arrive at, no station. If infinitely long train tracks could be crossed, they would be the equivalent of a one-ended stick, a nonsensical notion. In fact, this is the opposite limitation of potential infinites. Just as potential infinites are finite numbers that can never turn infinite, actual infinites could never reach the end of their infiniteness and turn finite. But there is an end, a “now”; the train did arrive at the station. This means the tracks of time cannot be infinitely long. There cannot be an infinite number of preceding moments prior to the present moment. The past is not an actual infinite. Thus, time had to have a beginning. Time, however, did not cause itself to spring into existence. If it had a beginning, then something initiated it. This is where causality comes into the picture. There is no such thing as an effect that was not caused. You are an effect of the biological process caused by your parents. These words you now read were caused by my typing on a keyboard. The current state of the universe is an effect caused by various astronomical and physical conditions. Note, however, that each of the causes mentioned are also effects. For example, your parents are not only your cause, but they are the effects of their parents who were the effects of their parents, and so on. But, as the non-existence of actual infinites shows, the chain of causes cannot regress forever. The train station in this case is made of present causes; because we have causes now, there must be a beginning to the sequence. Thus, there must be a cause that is not an effect, an uncaused cause, or first cause. Since the universe is an effect, it must have had a cause itself. The Kalam argument tells us that the universe had a beginning and that the beginning was caused by an uncaused cause. At this point there are only two options: either the cause was personal or it was impersonal. Reflection on what this uncaused cause would look like leads us to a conclusion rather quickly. The first cause would require an ability to create. Without this ability nothing could be created. It would also require an intention to create, a will to initiate the universe. Without this will to create, nothing would be created. It would require a non-contingent being, one whose existence depends on nothing but itself. If it was contingent, then it would simply be one more effect in the chain of causes and effects. And it must be transcendent. The cause of the universe must be outside of and apart from the universe. Now add all these things together. What kind of thing relies on nothing for its existence, has the power to create something from nothing, has a will to do it or not do it and has the characteristic of existing outside of the creation? Does this sound like a personal or impersonal being? Personal, of course. Thus, the Kalam argument brings us to the conclusion that the universe had a beginning that was caused by a personal, powerful, transcendent being.” (Doug Powell, olman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics (Holman Quicksource Guides), 594-692 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: Holman Reference)
Mormons: So you are saying….
Mark: You cannot have an unlimited number of finite causes and effects (or gods). This will lead to an unlimited number of contradictions that would make existence itself impossible. In fact, let me share this quote with you from a former atheist who came to realize that an infinite regress is impossible. In fact, this guy was the most well-known (former) atheist in the universities of the world!
“But in David Conway’s The Rediscovery of Wisdom and the 2004 edition of Richard Swinburne’s The Existence of God, I found especially effective responses to the Humean (and Kantian) critique of the cosmological argument. Conway systematically addresses each of Hume’s objections. For instance, Hume held that there is no cause of the existence of any series of physical beings beyond the sum of each member of the series. If there is a beginningless series of nonnecessary existent beings, then this is a sufficient cause for the universe as a whole. Conway rejected this objection on the grounds that “the causal explanations of the parts of any such whole in terms of other parts cannot add up to a causal explanation of the whole, if the items mentioned as causes are items whose own existence stands in need of a causal explanation.” 6 So, for example, consider a software virus capable of replicating itself on computers connected by a network. The fact that a million computers have been infected by the virus does not in itself explain the existence of the self-replicating virus. Concerning the same Humean argument, Swinburne said: The whole infinite series will have no explanation at all, for there will be no causes of members of the series lying outside the series. In that case, the existence of the universe over infinite time will be an inexplicable brute fact. There will be an explanation (in terms of laws) of why, once existent, it continues to exist. But what will be inexplicable is its existence at all throughout infinite time. The existence of a complex physical universe over finite or infinite time is something “too big” for science to explain. 7” (Antony Flew & Roy Abraham Varghese, There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, 139-140 (Kindle Edition); New York, NY; HarperCollins E-Books)
So, you cannot have an unlimited chain of past gods. There has to be an eternal God. In fact, we know this from science as well (the Law of Causality, the Laws of Thermodynamics, etc.). Besides, this raises a second problem for your theology.
Mormons: What’s that?
Mark: Well, if you are saying that the god which created your god is greater than your god, then why don’t you worship him? Or the god that made him? Or his great-grandfather?
Mormons: Well, I guess…
Mark: My point is, worship would be meaningless. Why worship a being that is just another created being? That’s very much like the ancient Doctrine of Emanations that many Jewish people believe is the initial lie that led Satan to rebel against God. But, that’s for another study. But there is still another problem that all of this hits on with your theology.
Mormons: Okay, and that would be…
Mark: Well, let’s say for the sake of argument that I believe aliens exist (which I don’t mainly for scientific reasons).
Mormons: Wait. What do you mean? Surely you don’t believe that our planet is the only planet with life do you?
Mark: I do believe that.
Mormons: That seems pretty unlikely. The universe is such a big place…
Mark: I can see why you would be skeptical, and that’s okay. I’m happy to provide evidence for my beliefs. That’s in harmony with what the Bible tells us to do as Christians, to speak words of truth and reason (Acts 26:25). In fact, there are two answers to why I am highly skeptical of extraterrestrial life. Which would you like to start with: the scientific reason, or the Scriptural reason?
Mark: Excellent. Well, as you know, in the last hundred years especially, we have learned a great deal about the universe. More to the point, we have learned a great deal about the factors which are needed in order for life to exist. Let me share with you this conversation between Lee Strobel and a cosmologist named Peter Strauss.
“These extraordinary cosmic “coincidences” have not escaped secular scientists. “There is, for me, powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all,” said Paul Davies, a professor of physics at Arizona State University. “It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the universe . . . The impression of design is overwhelming.” 7 British cosmologist Edward R. Harrison doesn’t hesitate to draw conclusions from the universe’s razor-sharp calibration. “Here is the cosmological proof of the existence of God,” he said flatly. “The fine-tuning of the universe provides prima facie evidence of deistic design.” 8 And Strauss wasn’t done yet. “Not only is our universe precisely calibrated to a breathtaking degree, but our planet is also remarkably and fortuitously situated so life would be possible.” “In what way?” I asked. “To have a planet like ours where life exists, first you need to be in the right kind of galaxy. There are three types of galaxies: elliptical, spiral, and irregular. You need to be in a spiral galaxy, like we are, because it’s the only kind that produces the right heavy elements and has the right radiation levels. “But you can’t live just anywhere in the galaxy,” he continued. “If you’re too close to the center, there’s too much radiation and there’s also a black hole, which you want to avoid. If you’re too far from the center, you won’t have the right heavy elements; you’d lack the oxygen and carbon you’d need. You have to live in the so-called ‘Goldilocks Zone,’ or the galactic habitable zone, where life could exist.” “Are you referring to intelligent life?” I asked. “Anything more complex than bacteria,” he said. Then he continued, “To have life, you need a star like our sun. Our sun is a Class G star that has supported stable planet orbits in the right location for a long time. The star must be in its middle age, so its luminosity is stabilized. It has to be a bachelor star—many stars in the universe are binary, which means two stars orbiting each other, which is bad for stable planetary orbits. Plus, the star should be a third-generation star, like our sun.”…Strauss paused, but I could tell he wasn’t done yet. “There are so many parameters that have to be just right for our planet to support life,” he said. “The distance from the sun, the rotation rate, the amount of water, the tilt, the right size so gravity lets gases like methane escape but allows oxygen to stay. “You need a moon like ours—it’s very rare to have just one large moon—in order to stabilize Earth’s tilt. As counterintuitive as it sounds, you even need to have tectonic activity, which experts said could be ‘the central requirement for life on a planet.’ 9 Plate tectonics drives biodiversity, helps avoid a water world without continents, and helps generate the magnetic field. Also, it’s nice to have a huge planet like Jupiter nearby to act like a vacuum cleaner by attracting potentially devastating comets and meteors away from you.” “Periodically, newspapers tout the discovery of what astronomers call an ‘Earth-like planet,’” I said. “Yes, but generally all they mean is that it has a similar size as Earth or that it might be positioned to allow surface water. But there’s so much more to Earth than those two factors.” “How many conditions have to be met to create an Earth-like planet?” I asked. “Hugh Ross sets the number at 322,” he replied. 10 “So if you run probability calculations, you find that there’s a 10-304 chance you’re going to find another planet that’s truly like Earth.” “Still, there are lots of potential candidates out there,” I pointed out. “One estimate is there could be more than a billion trillion planets.” “Granted,” he said. “So let’s factor that number into our probability equation. That still means the odds of having any higher life–supporting planet would be one in a million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion.” He let that astonishing number sink in. “In science,” he said, “we have a phrase for probabilities like that.” “Really? What is it?” There came a grin. “Ain’t gonna happen.”” (Lee Strobel, The Case For Miracles: A Journalist Investigates Evidence For The Supernatural, 178-181 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
Mormons: Well, I’m not sure about that.
Mark: Would you like some more corroboration from other scientists? Because I have plenty that I am happy to share with you.
Mormons: No, no, that’s okay….you mentioned Scriptural evidence too?
Mark: Yes. My argument from the Bible is simple. If it is the case that the Bible is the Word of God, and if it is the case that the Bible teaches extraterrestrial life is unlikely, then extraterrestrial life is unlikely. It is the case that the Bible is the Word of God (I will share some of that evidence later), and it is the case that the Bible teaches that the existence of extraterrestrial life is unlikely. Therefore, the existence of extraterrestrial life is unlikely.
Mormons: Wait. You are saying “unlikely” and not “impossible.”
Mark: Yes. I don’t believe that the Bible directly deals with the subject, but only makes some statements which may teach that the existence of extraterrestrials is very unlikely.
Mormons: Okay, I can get on board with that. But what in the Bible makes you think that extraterrestrial life is unlikely?
Mark: Well, the main thing is that the Bible teaches that God specifically designed the Earth to be inhabited by intelligent beings. The Prophet Isaiah wrote:
Isaiah 45:18-For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.
Look at how the Earth is set in contrast with the Heavens, and one of the things which God says about the Earth is that it was designed to be “inhabited.” This is set in contrast to the rest of the heavenly bodies. That suggests to me that extraterrestrial life is very unlikely, according to the Bible.
Mormons: Well, I guess we can see where you would come to that belief.
Mark: But guys, that leads to still another problem with your view of your god. Going back to the problem of an infinite regress, you have the same issue: where would the aliens come from?
Mormons: I think I see where you are going.
Mark: No matter what, you have to get back to the eternal Creator Who has revealed Himself through the universe and through Scripture. That God Who has revealed Himself does not match up with the god of the book of Mormon, but He does line up with the God of the Bible. So guys, would you like to go a little deeper? I would like to share with you some of the evidences which show that the Bible is the Word of God.
My friends were very gracious and cordial, and allowed me to present some of the evidences which document that the Bible is the Word of God. Sadly, however, they were reassigned after our study and I never heard from them again.
Christians, please understand: the god of Mormonism is not the same God that Christians worship. The god of Mormonism is a created being from another world (i.e., a being claiming to be an alien). The God of Christianity is the eternal God that identifies Himself through nature and Who is identical with the God revealed through the pages of the Holy Bible.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.
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