Why Did The Brigham Young Teaching Manual Remove Polygamy References?

“In the Church’s Sunday School manual, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , the Church changed the word ‘wives’ to ‘[wife].'” (CES Letter)

Clarification For Reader – The word wife is printed in brackets [ ] so that the reader knows that the quote has been changed. This is what it means when something is in brackets [].There is no effort at deceiving here. In the first reference to “wives,” Brigham Young was addressing multiple people (specifically, the First Presidency, Apostles, bishops, priesthood quorums, and presiding officers), so saying “your wives” was not a reference to polygamy.

The other reference, “his [wife] and children,” makes it clear that the word has been changed, as the context of his message had nothing to do with polygamy and the purpose of this lesson in the manual had nothing to do with polygamy.

Not A History Book – This is a book to help teach spiritual lessons, not a history book. I’m not sure why CES Letter would be upset that polygamy is omitted from an LDS lesson considering how angry they are that Mormons once practiced polygamy. So do they want polygamy in our teaching manuals? Now they are upset that we don’t promote polygamy?

A quick search on the LDS.org website shows over a dozen official Teaching Manuals that talk about polygamy. I doubt there is a person in the United States of America who isn’t aware Brigham Young practiced polygamy. There is absolutely no attempt to white-wash history. We teach lessons all the time about what happened in history. But this particular section in the Brigham Young manual is not about what happened in history. The quote was about maintaining healthy relationships. It was a lesson about the gospel. If polygamy is no longer a policy, why would the church not change it from “wives”?

Omit Brigham Young Teachings On Polygamy? – So what about all of Brigham Young’s teachings about polygamy? Do Mormons just pretend like they don’t exist? CES Letter says:

“Not only is the manual deceptive in disclosing whether or not Brigham Young was a polygamist but it’s deceptive in hiding Brigham Young’s real teaching on marriage: ‘The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.’ – Journal of Discourses 1 1 :269” (CES Letter)

CES Letter is repeating the same phony argument they made earlier. They just don’t get it.

Polygamy was a policy, not doctrine, and policies change.

Now repeat it after me… slowly: Polygamy was a policy, not a doctrine, and policies change. One more time: Polygamy was a policy, not doctrine, and policies change.

This quote about who becomes “Gods, even the sons of God” applied strictly to those people in those circumstances. CES Letter snips out the rest of the quote where he said, “at least in your faith.” As in, this only applied to them because it was the policy at that time, but for others it doesn’t apply. This is all clearly explained in LDS teaching material. Brigham Young said in the part of the quote CES Letter snips out: “If it is wrong for a man to have more than one wife at a time, the Lord will reveal it by and by, and he will put it away that it will not be known in the Church.” But even if this weren’t the case, why isn’t CES Letter overjoyed that Mormons don’t teach Brigham Young’s policies on polygamy? I thought CES Letter was opposed to polygamy?

The Brigham Young manual contains a tiny fraction of everything he said. The manual includes quotes that are important to the lessons. Again, why include a quote about polygamy that no longer applies?

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood The Brigham Young teaching manual does teach “Brigham Young’s real teaching on marriage.” It just does not teach polygamy, which he made clear applied to only those times.
Appeal To
Ignorance
CES Letter covers up vital context of the quotes. They incorrectly imply that the changed wording was speaking in a context of monogamy vs. polygamy. They weren’t; he was only talking about maintaining healthy relationships.
Cherry-Picking CES Letter points out one clarification in one manual, and ignores all of the other manuals which discuss polygamy in great detail.
Non Sequitur CES Letter suggests omitting one quote is a white-wash, but it is impossible to include everything Brigham Young said in one manual.
Repetition CES Letter repeats the same quote and argument they made on p.38.
Shifting Goalposts Does CES Letter want us to teach polygamy or not?

Now, CES Letter recycles the same argument they already made earlier over again, and they add the spin that it is being covered up by the church. They can’t give any serious evidence for any kind of coverup, just that a random line in a teaching manual that has nothing to do with polygamy and nothing to do with history omits the word “wives.” Scandalous! But if there were a real cover-up, how did CES Letter find out about this issue in the first place?

This is how CES Letter operates, heavily on innuendo. The entire argument is not only false, it is illogical. Why would the Mormon website talk about polygamy if this is something we no longer practice? As far as history goes, the records are all available. CES Letter demands the church openly teach about these things, yet condemns the church for ever teaching them? This is how CES Letter operates: through innuendo. They repeat the Big Lies, and they wrap them in a veneer of science.

Hypocritical Anti-Mormons – Why do so many “pro-equality” activists–who think people should be free to marry whoever they love–condemn Mormons for their history with polygamy? Wasn’t Zina a consenting adults who made all of her decisions for herself? Shouldn’t polygamy be on their list of marriages that deserve equality? Well yes, it should, and this is why anti-Mormons spin polygamy as something that coerces and manipulates women into subjugation. Lately, this narrative has become evens easier as there really are crazy cults that actually do victimize women and force people to marry. Interestingly, we only seem to hear about splinter groups in Utah, however.


Doesn’t CES Letter themselves revise their pdf? Why are they allowed to revise their writings but attack Mormons for omitting the word wives, and putting [wife] in brackets?

Big LieCES Letter uses the same big lie tactic that they used against the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham. They start of with the big lie that marriage for time and for eternity were the same. This compounds and leads to other lies to attack Joseph Smith’s character, and they repeat the Big Lie over and over. One lie leads to another, and now suddenly saying “[wife]” instead of “wives” in a teaching lesson that has nothing to do with polygamy is a cover-up.

Bullying – This argument is the kind of argument that a bully uses against someone he berates. “If you are so smart, nerd, why are you pretending like you aren’t [Black/White/Asian/etc.]?”

Mormons cannot express the outrage they rightfully feel about being attacked like this because, after all, polygamy did happen, and we can’t know for sure if it was perverted and weird or not, as it is ancient history. Non-Mormons have the luxury of believing in “evolving” truth, but with Mormons, it is an original sin. This is why many Mormons don’t even recognize the big hypocrisy coming out of anti-Mormons–they are outraged because the church changed its policy yet they get to change their policies! Anti-Mormons in general condemn us for polygamy yet promote all kinds of sexual “freedom.”

Marxists believe some classes of society are victimized by the misdeeds of other classes–-in this argument, specifically women victimized by men. This goes back to the idea of “original sin,” which feudal lords taught to their workers. If faced with a sin that you didn’t commit and you can’t reconcile, universal salvation is the only possible answer. In a Socialist society, you are lumped by class and suffer for the misdeeds of others in that class. Mormon men are unequal to Mormon women because of this original sin, and we need “social justice” to equalize the classes. It is interesting that skeptics would treat polygamy like some kind of original sin that Mormons aren’t allowed to get past, as the feudal Dark Age Lords also enforced their universal salvation ideology by oppressing the people with an original sin doctrine, Adam’s sin. Universal salvation follows original sin: Propagate social justice or you are damned for Joseph Smith’s polygamy.

Did Zina Young Marry Joseph Smith While Already Married?

“She was married for 7.5 months and was about 6 months pregnant with her first husband, Henry Jacobs, when she married Joseph after being told Joseph’s life was in danger from an angel with a drawn sword.” (CES Letter)

Not Polyandry – Joseph Smith’s sealing to Zina Young was for the afterlife only. It did not involve a physical relationship and was very different than the “marriage” Zina had to Henry Jacobs. It was literally a matter of saying some words at a ceremony and then possibly never seeing each other until the afterlife.
Women were to strictly have only one husband, according to D&C 132:63:

“But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery.”

Why was Joseph Smith sealed to women who were already married? Because civil marriage and sealings were totally different things. One could be sealed “for eternity” to one person and married “for time” to another, because a sealing for eternal cohabitation in the afterlife did not involve sexual or earthly relations. The “new and everlasting covenant” of eternal marriage would nullify civil marriage in the afterlife: “All old covenants have I caused to be done away.”

Zina herself said that the sealing was about “associating in family relationships in the worlds to come.”
Joseph Smith did not tell Zina Jacobs that his life was in danger from a threatening angel. She heard that from her brother, because Joseph Smith was telling lots of people about the angel experience, explaining why he was introducing polygamy. It had nothing to do with Zina specifically.

Brigham Young Marriage

Two years after Joseph Smith’s martyrdom, Zina Young split with her husband Henry Jacobs and married Brigham Young in a civil marriage. The fact that Zina no longer bore Henry’s last name at this ceremony makes this clear. CES Letter claims:

“After Joseph’s death, she married Brigham Young and had Young’s baby while her first husband, Henry, was on a mission.” (CES Letter)

Not true. Henry Jacobs was present at the ceremony. There is no evidence that Henry and Zina were still together. CES Letter claims: “Henry separated only after Brigham Young took his wife and told Henry that Zina was now only his (Brigham) wife.” But CES Letter provides no evidence, and it is not true, no matter how many times they repeat it. They were already split.

Brigham Young’s marriage was Levrite marriage, which was for time only and not for the afterlife.
 
 
Whitewashing History?

“If anyone needs proof that the Church is still whitewashing history in 2014 side from the above-mentioned issues, Zina is it.” (CES Letter)

CES Letter says Mormons are whitewashing history, yet aren’t they the ones who refuse to accept the distinction between marriage for time and sealing for eternity? They repeat the same argument over and over and pretend like they are the same thing.

The reason the LDS website does not mention Joseph Smith as a “concurrent husband with Henry Jacobs” is because he wasn’t. It was an eternity-only sealing. The reason Brigham Young is not mentioned as a “concurrent husband” is because he wasn’t. Zina had split with Henry. The reason church sources have “nothing in there about the polyandry,” is because there was no polyandry. The church sources are correct. CES Letter just can’t stop lying.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood The premise of this argument is false. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young did not commit polyandry with Zina Young. She was split from Henry when she married Brigham Young.

Brigham Young did not tell tell “Henry that Zina was now only his (Brigham) wife.”

Repetition This entire argument was already made twice by CES Letter on page 32. They already repeated the threatening angel allegation several times.

CES Letter repeats the same fake claims of polyandry and co-marriage several times within this argument, instead of providing any evidence.

Strawman This argument misrepresents the Mormon concept of marriage.
Etymological CES Letter says Zina was married to Henry “7.5 months” to make the number appear larger, instead of just rounding off to a whole number.

CES Letter cites “100% LDS sources.” What, as opposed to 12% LDS sources?

Tu Quoque CES Letter complains about history being white-washed, but they themselves whitewash this issue. They demand websites mention every single detail of Zina Young’s “biographic snapshot,” yet there is so much vital information that they themselves cherry-pick.

Now, CES Letter recycles the same argument they already made earlier over again, and they add the spin that it is being covered up by the church. They can’t give any serious evidence for any kind of coverup, just that a couple websites apparently don’t mention the eternity-only sealing and remarriage. Scandalous! But if there were a real cover-up, how did CES Letter find out about this issue in the first place?

This is how CES Letter operates, heavily on innuendo. The entire argument is not only false, it is illogical. Why would the Mormon website talk about polygamy if this is something we no longer practice? As far as history goes, the records are all available. CES Letter demands the church openly teach about these things, yet condemns the church for ever teaching them? This is how CES Letter operates: through innuendo. They repeat the Big Lies, and they wrap them in a veneer of science.

Hypocritical Anti-Mormons – Why do so many “pro-equality” activists–who think people should be free to marry whoever they love–condemn Mormons for their history with polygamy? Wasn’t Zina a consenting adults who made all of her decisions for herself? Shouldn’t polygamy be on their list of marriages that deserve equality? Well yes, it should, and this is why anti-Mormons spin polygamy as something that coerces and manipulates women into subjugation. Lately, this narrative has become evens easier as there really are crazy cults that actually do victimize women and force people to marry. Interestingly, we only seem to hear about splinter groups in Utah, however.

The key component is the claim that men are victimizing women. This frame of “predator versus victim” leads us to a Marxist ideology. Marxism is all about protecting victims from the predators. Marxists think the biggest miracle about mankind is that we evolved to the top of the food chain without ever becoming predators of other animals. Economically, Marxists protect working classes from a predator class.

Marxism is all about protecting the vulnerable from those seeking unequal advantage, and all about keeping people weak in order to keep them reliant on a benevolent dictator for safety.

Big LieCES Letter uses the same big lie tactic that they used against the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham. They start of with the big lie that marriage for time and for eternity were the same. This compounds and leads to other lies to attack Joseph Smith’s character, and they repeat the Big Lie over and over. One lie leads to another.

This lie is easier for the reader to accept after all those earlier arguments that attached the same kind of narrative about the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham. If Joseph Smith made up all these books of scripture haphazardly, isn’t it reasonable that he was stealing other men’s wives?

CES Letter can get away with this Big Lie because it is the consensus among so many people that Joseph Smith had carnal relations with girls, and because it takes so long to actually investigate the evidence. People are too lazy to actually look through all the historical documents. Even mainstream church apologists are beaten down by all of the accusations and have give way to the big lie. They are too tired defending against it. Even if you don’t believe the allegations, just this association frames Joseph Smith and Brigham Young as creeps.

For the Book of Abraham, the big lie was that the book was “translated” from a recovered fragment of papyrus that we now know is the Book of Breathing. They repeat it over and over. With polygamy, the big lie likewise will be used by CES Letter to make all sorts of implications to attack Joseph Smith’s character.

Did The Mormon Church Justify Its Racial Priesthood Ban, Yet Deny Knowing Why?


We Don’t Know Why

Brigham Young did not explain why he instituted the ban. From 1852 until 1978, people of African descent were not allowed to receive the priesthood in the LDS church. Modern prophets are not magicians who can summon the spirit of Brigham Young and ask him why. All we can do is consider the circumstances and context of the policy to theorize some explanations.

Skeptics rake the Mormon church over the coals for the racist policy, but really the church should be proud of their history with civil rights. Mormons were persecuted and expelled, and Joseph Smith was murdered largely because he ran a political platform of abolishing slavery. Mormons were resoundingly attacked in the 19th century newspapers because of their race integration:

  • Priesthood leadership has often been restricted throughout history. The sons of Levi could only hold it in the Old Testament. Jesus conferred it to his Jewish disciples, and commanded them to hold off preaching to the Gentiles for a while. It is up to God to decide how best to organize church leadership.
  • All had the opportunity for salvation. Priesthood leadership is not necessary to get to heaven. Those who were prevented from receiving temple ordinances, along with everyone in life who does not get an opportunity to hear about them, will get an opportunity in the future. Mormons believe in vicarious baptisms on behalf of the dead, as well as all the other saving ordinances.

Letter To Ernest Wilkinson

This 1949 private letter to Ernest Wilkinson from the first presidency gives no explanation or justification. It only explains the policy. It references Brigham Young’s announcement of the policy in which he said one day race would no longer be an issue when it comes to priesthood:

“The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. President Brigham Young said: ‘Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to.”

We find this principle in the Book of Mormon, where Lamanites excluded themselves from the gospel and priesthood because their fathers rejected it. But this does not necessarily apply to Blacks in America, and offers no insight into the origins of the policy. The point he was making is that the policy will operate by introducing all worthy men to priesthood leadership once the blessings of the gospel spread throughout the world.

Wilford Woodruff Statement

“The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes.”

Wilford Woodruff’s (1807-1898) statement has been misconstrued by anti-Mormons to mean exclusion is a punishment from before birth. But he didn’t say that at all. Really, he was only observing that some people are born into nice circumstances and other aren’t. Is this not true? Don’t Leftists today talk about this same idea, calling it “white privilege?” Same thing. Woodruff does not speculate why this privilege exists or why some people are born with “handicap” challenges. Just that not receiving the priesthood is another handicap.

This is not justification for the policy. It could be people who couldn’t get the priesthood were more righteous in the pre-existence and needed a greater challenge in this life? Woodruff does not say what it means.

No Disavowal Or Apology

CES Letter complains:

“Along with the above First Presidency statement, there are many other statements and explanations made by prophets and apostles clearly ‘justifying’ the Church’s racism.” (CES Letter)

None of these statements justified the policy, nor did they explain the origins. They simply clarified what the policy was.

CES Letter quotes the Official Declaration header that overturned the racial policy and claims it is contradictory:

“‘Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. ‘…
So, the 201 3 edition Official Declaration 2 Header in the scriptures is not only misleading, it’s dishonest. We do have records – including from the First Presidency itself – with very clear insights on the origins of the ban on the blacks.” (CES Letter)

Neither the Declaration’s explanatory heading nor the 2013 Essay from the church disavow the concepts explained in the above first presidency quotes. Mormons still believe that people have historically been excluded from the priesthood due to behavior of their fathers, and that circumstances of birth, including handicaps, are part of the plan established pre-birth. We see both concepts still in operation today: In Communist China, people have little access to the gospel because the government closed its borders to the church many years ago. Is that fair to the Chinese? No, but it is a realistic observation.

We don’t know why Brigham Young instituted the racial policy, and I think it is foolish to try to speculate. We gain a better understanding when we consider circumstances of the 1880’s. America was a racially divided society and Mormons were heavily persecuted for their anti-slavery activism. Political pressure from pro-slavery states, rapid church expansion in wide-ranging cultures, and Marxist infiltration in liberal movements may have contributed to the ban.

Not Doctrine – Policy is different than doctrine. Doctrine is based on eternal principles and doesn’t change. Policy changes frequently to suit circumstances of the time. There was never any theology, doctrine, or revelation behind the policy. No reason was given for the racist policy, though there are many theories. Mormons have a difficult time because there is no good answer! How do you justify racial discrimination?

The Left is allowed to admit their racist history and evolve, but Mormons cannot do this because they paint the Mormon culture into a culture where policy is not allowed to change because they think doctrine and policy are the same thing. None of us were around in those times and we don’t know the circumstances. We can’t judge why the policy happened or what it means about Mormons today. The important thing is how we view race relations today.
The Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 26 says God accepts all:

“For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”

This is the doctrine of salvation and it does not relate to who got to hold the priesthood at any given time in history. The prophet Joseph Smith’s views on race were ahead of their time:

“My cogitations, like Daniel’s, have for a long time troubled me, when I viewed… two or three millions of people are held as slaves for life, because the spirit in them is covered with a darker skin than ours…
The wisdom which ought to characterize the freest, wisest, and most noble nation of the nineteenth century, should, like the sun in his meridian splendor, warm every object beneath its rays; and the main efforts of her officers, who are nothing more nor less than the servants of the people, ought to be directed to ameliorate the condition of all, black or white, bond or free; for the best of books says, “God hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth.”

How long did it take other 19th century institutions such as the Democrat Party to catch up to this? Divine revelation is superior to social justice, and even today you see the misdirection of those on the Left, who tear down statues, give unmerited rewards, and spread racial division in the name of equality. If the LDS would just stick by their principles–let the army come, let the newspapers print their cartoons–they would always be on the right side of history.

We should celebrate our church’s history. The racial restriction with the priesthood was unfortunate and inexcusable, but our doctrine regarding race has had it right all along. The doctrines of popular culture continue to push racism, and we need to stick by the classical principles that we’ve had from the beginning.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood CES Letter incorrectly claims the policy was “doctrine and revelation.”

CES Letter quotes statements that describe gospel concepts but they do not talk about the origin of the ban. Nor has the church ever disavowed these concepts. The premise of CES Letter‘s argument is false.

Non Sequitur Descriptions of a policy are not justification or explanations for the origins of the policy.
If skeptics want Mormons to not be racist, why are they complaining about “throwing” doctrines “under the bus” when Mormons get rid of a racist policy?

CES Letter claims this argument is “secondary to all of the” previous arguments. If so, why is this argument pretty much the same as the argument they made earlier on p.51?

Repetition CES Letter repeats earlier racism claims. This entire argument is a repeat of their argument on p.39.

CES Letter repeats the general slogan they have repeated many times already: “Yesterday’s revelation and doctrine is today’s ‘disavowed theories.’ Yesterday’s prophets are today’s disavowed heretics.”
CES Letter also repeats their sarcastic slogan: “prophets, seers, and revelators”

Ad Hominem “not only misleading, it’s dishonest.”
False Dilemma Withholding people from priesthood leadership does not mean God is punishing them.

The church does the right thing and ends race restrictions, and what do we get? Anti-Mormons complaining that we are throwing earlier prophets “under the bus.” The racial priesthood ban is one of the most powerful anti-Mormon attacks because it shifts focus away from the history of Mormons on the front of civil rights. Mormons were expelled and Joseph Smith was killed because their southern-state neighbors did not like their anti-slavery activisim. Fundamentally, Mormon doctrine is that all people are children of God. Do anti-Mormons believe all people are children of God?

Mormons cannot express the outrage they rightfully feel about being attacked like this because, after all, the ban on priesthood leadership did happen, and there is no justifying racism. God is constant, so either the prophets were racists who came up with it on their own, or the church was forced into having this policy because of historical circumstances. Non-Mormons have the luxury of believing in “evolving” truth, so they don’t need to worry if their political party, or their church, or their university, or their government, or their ideological group once had a discriminatory policy. That’s all in the past But with Mormons, it is an original sin.

This is why many Mormons don’t even recognize the big hypocrisy coming out of anti-Mormons–they are outraged because the church changed its policy! CES Letter condemns us because Brigham Young said some racist things. But what does this racial policy have to do with me? I didn’t cause it.

Perhaps what is most remarkable about CES Letter‘s argument is what they don’t say. They act outraged that the Mormon church changes its policy–apparently commandments and operational structures are supposed to remain static throughout all human history–but how much moral outrage do they actually express about racism? Where do they say everyone is a child of God and deserves equal treatment and equal dignity? Where do they say rewards should be based on merit rather than skin color? I don’t see them say this, and it is definitely a Mormon belief that everyone deserves equal dignity and reward based on merit. Do anti-Mormons believe this?

CES Letter makes it clear that the problem is the Mormon church held on to this racial policy for so long. They repeat over and over the number of years and number of prophets that this policy spanned in history. The problem is Mormon justice does not evolve like it does for Marxists. The church is not politically active. We aren’t political activists protesting in the streets. Anti-Mormons demand that we lead political crusades, yet then they complain when we actually do, like with the gay marriage opposition. Then it is inappropriate for the church to become politically active. So which is it? Should we be politically active or not? In another 130 years, will anti-Mormons complain that we didn’t do enough to defend traditional marriage?

This all goes back to what anti-Mormons believe in: evolving truth and agitating for class consciousness. Mormons believe in reward from merit rather than strict equality, personal excellence rather than being defined by class distinction, personal approbation rather than rights and handouts from the government. The issue for them is not really individual dignity and merit but becoming conscious of as a class of people.

From day one, no Mormon considered the policy to have any affect on salvation or exaltation. People always get what they deserve in the end based on their works and who they make themselves. Anti-Mormons apparently believe a person’s rank in the priesthood and status as church leader makes them better or gives them extra reward.

Use Opponent As Authority Tactic – This is a popular Marxist tactic that anti-Mormons use. They use Mormonism’s own authorities to discredit the faith, such as an alleged Mormon scholar. What makes this argument powerful is:

  • Deceptively discredits the vast libraries of study on Book of Abraham by LDS professionals.
  • Gives more focus to a phony frame that attacks the Mormon church.
  • Divides the ranks of the church.
  • Establishes a frame that demands a clear, modern explanation in the Book of Abraham for every religious issue in existence, and that it be exactly corroborated by every other Mormon source.

Why Did God Command The Killing Of Children In The Bible?

Did God Kill Egypt’s Children?

“Exodus 12:12 : God kills all the firstborn children in Egypt except for those who put blood on their doors? What kind of a god is this? Like the flood, what kind of a loving god would kill innocent children for the actions of others?” (CES Letter)

The natural death of a child because of disease is different than the command to execute a criminal for breaking the law. The Israelites did not kill anyone by putting blood on their doors. While we make every effort to stop natural disasters from happening, people will always die of natural causes. The execution of a criminal is a purposeful act of killing, while the death of Egypt’s firstborn was a natural event.

It is up to God to decide when people should die naturally, as God is the Creator. This is God’s responsibility because God created everything. He set the plan of existence in motion, and life and death are part of the plan. Everyone needs to die sometimes, and natural disasters sometimes kill people. This is simple reality. It is illogical to apply a human sense of justice to natural or divine events.

Consider also the context. Egypt’s Pharaoh was inflicting eugenics on the Hebrew people. His father ordered the killing of all Hebrew babies. This was a very serious crime against humanity. What if this plague had happened to Nazis? Don’t modern films frequently portray the mass slaughter of Nazis in a glorified way? I find it interesting that atheists get so upset about the natural death of Egyptian genocidists’ children, yet when is the last time they mentioned the bombing of Dresden? Didn’t many thousands of innocent children, who had nothing to do with Nazism, burn to death in the Allied fire-bombing of Dresden? Was that fair?

Mosiah said a wicked leader brings ruin upon his own people:

“For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction! Yea, remember king Noah, his wickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people. Behold what great destruction did come upon them; and also because of their iniquities they were brought into bondage.
And were it not for the interposition of their all-wise Creator, and this because of their sincere repentance, they must unavoidably remain in bondage until now.” (Mosiah 29:17-19)

It is up to the wisdom of the Creator to figure out how deal with a wicked leader. What if God hadn’t sent the plagues? The Hebrews would have remained in bondage and likely would have been totally killed off by Pharaoh’s eugenics program.

So what would be CES Letter‘s alternative solution to divine justice? What is their plan? A world where we all die by “chance,” and where death is not part of an over-arching plan of exaltation for eternal happiness?

Punish Rebellious Children?

“Deuteronomy 21:1 8-21 : Got a rebellious kid who doesn’t listen? Take him to the elders and to the end of the gates and stone him to death!” (CES Letter)

Different times. Back in the day, people were punished for rebellion. This may come as quite a shock to today’s narcissistic generation, but in the time of the Law of Moses, civilization teetered on the brink of ruin and they couldn’t afford having rebellions. Well, and still today, isn’t treason a federal crime punishable by death?

Of course, the question of what the Hebrews considered “rebellion” makes all the difference. CES Letter says there was a “death penalty for those who mix cotton with polyester.” Did Moses kill people for petty things like mixing cotton and polyester? No, of course not. The Hebrews didn’t even have either cotton or polyester. Polyester was invented in 1941.

Hebrews were prohibited from weaving together linen and wool because this was a unique trait of the Temple priestly clothing. To plagiarize temple clothing was a shocking affront, much like anti-Mormons who rub temple garments in the dirt as they protest front of General Conference. It was an act of sincere rebellion against the theocracy. But I don’t see anywhere that it was punishable by death. CES Letter made that up, as well.

The kind of rebellion that Deuteronomy 21 says should result in stoning is what we today would consider high treason. This was a very patriarchal society, and parents were considered legal authorities. In today’s society, we can afford to practice more individual choice and we can disrespect our elders without society immediately crumbling.

Working On The Sabbath

“Exodus 35:1-2 : God commands death penalty for those who work on the Sabbath trying to support their families.” (CES Letter)

Yes, people were expected to reverence the Sabbath. I don’t know what is so difficult about that. Again, different times.

CES Letter seems to think people would have worked on the Sabbath “trying to support their families,” but how is that possible? If all the stores were closed, how could one buy or sell things to support their family? Any commercial work would have been unproductive, so the only kind of work I could think of would be manufacturing or agricultural. It is accepted as human nature that we need a day of rest from such labor in order to be productive, so again, how did this law hinder people from supporting their families? Isn’t it still law that people get a day off from work each week?

It is interesting that instead of focusing on individual freedom, CES Letter would express outrage about economic loss. The implication here is that a certain class of people were hindered from producing economic output, which is coincidentally what the entire Marxist movement is based on. Workers rights! Well, maybe it is possible to be both economically productive and keep the commandments of God.

Brazen Serpent

“Number 21:5-9 : God doesn’t like to hear whining and ingratitude so he sends out a bunch of snakes to kill the people. When the people had enough of the snakes, they ask Moses to tell God to quit it. God decides Moses is persuasive and tells Moses to put a snake a pole and tell the people to look at the pole and they won’t die. So, the pole is built, the people look at it and they don’t die. The moral of the story? Don’t whine or God will send in the snakes.” (CES Letter)

No, that was not the point of the story. Nephi in the Book of Mormon explained:

“He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.” (1 Nephi 17:41)

God’s way is strait and simple, yet restrictive. People reject God’s way because they want a complicated yet unrestrictive way. Success in life takes self-control, and if you restrict yourself from harmful behavior, then you will be fine. The fiery serpents had nothing to do with whining or ingratitude, but teaching people this concept.

Again, the snakes were a natural event. There is a difference between death from natural causes and someone killing someone. Moses did not send the snakes. The remedy for snake bites also had nothing to do with Moses being “persuasive.” It was a compassionate miracle that the Lord delivered, and a symbol for how easy it is to accept Jesus as our Savior.

CES Letter‘s version of the story sounds rather narcissistic, as if God was some parent punishing a kid for staying out to late and not getting a job. It is rather telling that they would interpret a story about self-control as instead being about punishment for ingratitude.

Levite Dismembers Concubine

“Judges 19:22-29 : After picking up his concubine from his father-in-law’s house, a certain Levite settles in Gibeah for the night. The men of the city attempt to sodomize him, but end up raping the concubine until her death. As a response, the Levite dismembers his wife’s corpse and sends her body parts throughout the land of Israel. Who needs R or X-rated movies when you got scripture like this?” (CES Letter)

Um, so? Do you incorrectly think God in this story commanded or condoned the killing, raping, or dismembering? What is the point of talking about this scripture verse?

Rated R events happen in life. Maybe skeptics with their gentle sensibilities get emotional hearing about it, but the real-life stories in the scriptures are important history and teach important lessons. It is time to grow up and stop crying because you can’t handle hearing about violence. Is CES Letter saying violent stories from history should be censored?

Jesus Was Cruel As Jehovah?

“As a believing Mormon, I tried to rationalize some of the craziness by saying, ‘Oh, this is in the crazy Old Testament when the Law of Moses was in force. Christ came and fulfilled the Law of Moses.'” (CES Letter)

Correct, the Law of Moses was enforced in very different times. They were crazy times. It was a theocratic society with a strict set of rules because of the precarious circumstances. Commandments change under prophetic direction according to circumstances. We are blessed to live in times of peace and tranquility.

It is so easy for us today to sit in judgement of these ancient trailblazers, in our cushy office chairs, our convenience stores and air conditioned homes, and to laugh at people who cured snake bites by looking at a pole. But could one skeptic or anti-Mormon survive the exodus across the Middle East desert, start a civilization, and fight off frequent invasions?

Of course, our civilization today is so much more sophisticated and advanced than those primitive ancients, but maybe, just maybe, they had a reason for their rules and practices.

CES Letter asks how the same Jesus who was compassionate in the New Testament could be behind the Law of Moses:

“The problem with this is that the crazy god of the Old Testament was Jehovah. Who’s Jehovah? The premortal Jesus Christ. So, Christ is the crazy god of the Old Testament. The Christ of the Old Testament and the Christ of the New Testament are light years different. Again, I’m asked to believe in not only a part-time racist god and a part-time polygamous god but a part-time psychopathic schizophrenic one as well.” (CES Letter)

CES Letter fails to provide a single example of how Jehovah was different than Jesus. No, Jesus was not “light years different” from Jehovah, and Jehovah was not a “crazy god,” no matter how many times CES Letter repeats this disrespectful slur. They were just different times.

Jesus had every bit as much a sense of justice. The rules of divine justice do not change. CES Letter was crying about the slaughter of the Midianites, but Jesus very clearly affirmed that Israel made the right decision. Jesus taught that mercy could not replace justice, and to try to do so is phony love. Ignoring a crime does not make it go away. The Law of Moses was good and appropriate for its time.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Etymology CES Letter uses present tense to describe the bible story to make these events sound more recent and important to modern day.
Red Herring Racism and polygamy have nothing to do with this discussion. Commandments change as needed to fit circumstances in history.
Falsehood Whining and ingratitude have nothing to do with the brazen serpent. It was a teaching moment, that the correct path for survival is simple but restrictive.

The Law of Moses did not ban the mixing of cotton and polyester. It is an anachronism to claim the Hebrews had either one of these products. This law did not ban wearing two different clothings of different products, but of weaving them (they only had linen and wool at the time) together to mimic priestly robes of the temple. The law did not specify the death penalty for this infraction. CES Letter tells several lies here to incorrectly make it look like “rebellion” was defined in arbitrary and petty terms.

Appeal To Emotion The story of death and rape in Judges 19:22-29 is shocking, but what does it have to do with this discussion?
Ad Hominem CES Letter calls God and scripture “crazy” four times. They call God a racist and psychotic schizophrenic. CES Letter justifies their heresy by arguing that rebellion shouldn’t be punishable.
Repetition CES Letter repeats their Ad Hominem attacks on God several times.
Appeal To
Ignorance
CES Letter misrepresents these scriptures and ignores historical context.
Non Sequiture The Hebrews couldn’t have commercially worked on the Sabbath to support their families, as commerce did not run on the Sabbath, and people naturally need a day off from work to be productive anyway.
Historicity CES Letter applies Deuteronomy 21 to “a rebellious kid” today, but the circumstances were completely different in those days, as is what they considered “rebellion.”
Anachronism The Hebrews did not have cotton or polyester.
CES Letter compares Judges 19 to an R-Rated movie.
Appeal To
Ridicule
The entire last two paragraphs consist of snotty ridicule for God and the scriptures.

CES Letter equates natural disasters with divine commandments to punish lawbreakers. This is very dangerous to equate these two issues, and to do so has often led to genocide. Suddenly, it is God’s responsibility when someone murders? Or it is a Mormon’s fault when someone dies of cancer? It is dangerous and dehumanizing for anyone to push this kind of narrative.

CES Letter attacks the character of the Mormon God with appeals to emotion, whipping up a sense of danger. Mormons are liable to kill their rebellious children because of what we read in the Old Testament? This dangerous narrative is important because it gives anti-Mormons a reason to hate Mormons. If the Book of Mormon was made up and Joseph Smith was a conman–so what? Even if he were a fraud, aren’t Mormons still nice people who do nice things and make the world a better place? Why not just let them be? The powerful thing with these arguments is that CES Letter tells you why Mormonism is evil: it victimizes people. This is easy rhetoric for them to push, as the internet is filled with all kinds of false rumors about Mormon polygamy and because the fake news media labels modern-day polygamist cultists as “Mormon”.

Suddenly it’s not just about crazy bible stories. Now, all Mormons are dangerous! They use God as an excuse to kill and take sexual slaves.Of course, this illogical, dehumanizing argument ignores clear Mormon doctrine that opposes such behavior, and clear reality about what the scriptures actually say.

This narrative pushes the Big Lie that CES Letter introduced with their polygamy arguments. In the polygamy arguments, CES Letter approaches marriage from our modern society’s definition, ignore all historical context, and perpetuate the big lie that eternal sealings in the temple were the same as a civil marriage with a physical relationship. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, why did he violate women’s rights? Well, he didn’t! CES Letter is equating different circumstances. But people are much more likely to believe CES Letter‘s string of illogic because they connected the dots out on their own, subconsciously. They are also more likely to believe the evidences for that deduction, which in this case are falsehoods. One lie leads to another.


Appeal To Class WarfareCES lettertakes offense with people being barred from working on the Sabbath to feed their families. Why? Marxism is all about economic production. People should be “free” to work in the factories seven days a week, like they do in Communist China and they did in the Soviet Union. Why is CES Letter offended by a religious belief that they think hinders economic production? Why do they see this as a highly moral injustice? Why do they talk about it in the same discussion as killing children?

With each of these issues, as yourself “what is their alternative solution?” For polygamy, the alternative solution was government-controlled marriage, where for the first time everyone was forced to register their personal relationships with the federal government. Today, the solution to the Mormon concept of chastity and modesty seems to be zero fidelity in relationships. For CES Letter‘s outrage over Israel killing the Midianites, what would be their alternative solution to self-defense? Perhaps no national defense whatsoever, and no regard for law? For their outrage over punishing rebellious “kids,” what would be their solution? Well for Marxists, rebellious kids are preferred.

Kids are easily manipulated by politics and government. In Marxist states like Mao’s China, rebellious kids ratted out their “counter-revolutionary” parents to the authorities. What would be the alternative to the Sabbath policy? No days off from work. More economic production. What would be the alternative to graphically violent stories in the bible? Censorship. A government body that erases all undesirable content from books, perhaps?

Victimization Culture – The association of Mormons with the emotional complaint, “God lets children die,” reinforces the victimization culture among anti-Mormons and ex-Mormons, where everything bad in life is the fault of Mormons and the LDS church. If Mormon parents discipline a rebellious child, then that means Mormons are stoning them like the witch-burners of old. Suddenly, disagreement with anything an anti-Mormon says is an act of aggression and intolerance. Maybe it is Mormons’ fault when a child dies of cancer, because we believe in divine justice.

This is where we get today’s popular cultural appeal to accept degeneracy, apostasy, and relative truth in the name of “tolerance” and “equality.” It is really just intolerance of Mormon beliefs. This argument is dangerous because not only does it make Mormons automatically intolerant if they don’t agree with everything a skeptic says, it makes them dangerous and liable to “blood atone” people. All those nice Mormons riding around on bikes handing out Books of Mormon? Watch out!

Why Did God Command Nephi To Kill Laban Who Was Defenseless?

“The Lord commands Nephi to murder (decapitate) Laban for the brass plates. Never mind that Laban was drunk and defenseless.” (CES Letter)

Self-Defense – Laban had tried to kill Nephi and his family three times, and he was liable to try a fourth time. Laban had also committed robbery, which is punishable by execution (see Exodus 22:2). Nephi’s actions were legally justified.

Ultimately, it was self-defense. I know, Laban was unconscious and defenseless. Yes, but that just means he put himself in a stupid position. Would you order the killing of some powerful guys twice, steal their stuff, and then get drunk at night and pass out alone on an isolated street?

Nephi did not want to kill Laban. “I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.” But he had to because the Lord explicitly commanded him to execute the law, and in order to obtain the brass plates and preserve a nation. I think this was a personal lesson Nephi needed to learn, as he had done everything he could to avoid a violent confrontation.

The lesson was to do what it takes to defend yourself and carry out divine commandments. In the Spirit’s command to Nephi, He explained why Nephi’s actions were legally justified and why it was necessary in the greater scheme of things–why it was spiritually justified, and repeating that it was a divine command.

“Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property…

Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.” (1 Nephi 4:11,13)

Selfish vs. Spiritual Intent – Skeptics in general like to say Mormons are liable to be “told by the Spirit” to kill anyone who stands between what they want. But when inspiration comes from a person’s head rather than from the Spirit of God, it does not correctly reference the law as justification, it does not correctly explain why it is necessary for the purposes of God, and it does not explain why it is spiritually justified. It also tends to be premeditated, while Nephi was surprised to come across Laban.

It is human nature to hear what you want to hear, and it is a very difficult thing to look at the situation objectively and be as receptive to answers we don’t like as to answers we do. We must be careful to be sure that the inspiration truly comes from God.

The point of this story was that it was very difficult to follow direction of the Spirit sometimes when it poses a moral dilemma. It is easy to follow the Spirit when it tells you to do something obviously good, like feeding the homeless or helping the downtrodden. But what about if the Spirit tells you to run away from an abusive household? Isn’t that a violation of the ten commandments–honoring your father and mother? Is it murder to shoot an intruder who is threatening your family? In moments like these, it takes courage to rely on the Spirit and follow through on what is best.

Maybe in the movies some circumstances shows up that allows the hero to get out of doing the killing. If this were a movie, Laban would have woken up just in time, realized that Nephi could have killed him but didn’t, and become his friend. But this doesn’t happen in real life. In real life, God doesn’t protect you from having to make difficult choices. Laban would have successfully hunted down Nephi’s family.

Nephi learned something by killing Laban, as traumatic as the experience doubtlessly was. It is interesting that Nephi talks so much about the justice of God in the chapters following this event. He explains justice and mercy in a remarkable way that delicate readers sometimes get offended by. Nephi had to think through the mechanics of divine justice, and his responsibility toward his family, future generations, and nation’s self-defense.

Why No Divine Intervention – When Abraham followed through on God’s command to sacrifice his son on an altar, an angel intervened just in time and told him it was just a test of faith. Why didn’t God do the same thing for Nephi?

“The argument that Laban would send his servants after Nephi and his brothers is ridiculous considering that the same God who had no problem lighting stones and taming swarms of bees (Ether 2-3) for the Brother of Jared can also preserve Nephi.” (CES Letter)

Well, that is false. Ether never claimed that they crossed the ocean with bees. But regardless, the point is that God isn’t always going to shield us from painful experiences. We experience tough things in life to grow. The Jaradites needed to stones in order to make the journey; there was no other way. Nephi had a course of action in order to be successful, and he did what he had to do.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood CES Letter says, “This story has been used as a defense in killings by religious people.” I assume they are referring to Ron Lafferty, who anti-Mormons frequently claim was inspired by Nephi. But despite these claims, I find zero evidence that Ron Lafferty was at all inspired by Mormons or Nephi’s experience, in his murder of a woman and child over thirty years ago. Lafferty was not a Mormon, and Mormons believe in obeying the law.
Etymology CES Letter uses present tense to describe the story, to make these events sound more recent and important to modern day.
Strawman The Lord did not command Nephi to kill (not murder) Laban only for the brass plates, but also for the sake of self-defense, the survival of Nephi’s new civilization, and because it was legally justified.
Appeal To Ridicule “Never mind that…”
Ad Hominem “ridiculous”
This entire argument attacks the character of Mormons and makes them seem dangerous.
False Comparison The comparison to the Jaradites’ situation is illogical. The Jaradites needed illuminated stones in order to sail across the ocean. They had no other option.
Red Herring The Jaradites’ swarms of bees has nothing to do with this.
Guilt By Association Ron Lafferty was a non-Mormon cultist who killed a woman and child for no reason. We could ask CES Letter, why do anti-Mormon atheists hold the same beliefs as Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao, who killed millions of people for “the greater good”? There, see how guilt by association works?

Normally, people understand that these were biblical times, the laws were different, and we can’t judge ancient history by today’s sensibilities. I’ve never actually seen someone get sincerely upset by the Laban story–just as an excuse. I don’t mind if someone doesn’t like violence and thinks killing is terrible, even in self-defense. But to use this story to imply that all Mormons are dangerous and liable to launch a jihad on their spiritual enemies is crossing the line. Anti-Mormons come up with phony association with crazy killers like Ron Lafferty.

It closes the skeptics’ minds to divine justice. They hold on to their social justice, even though followers of social justice are themselves routinely violent. Communist leaders, environmentalist terrorist groups, Antifa… you don’t need to invent visions of God to justify your violence. It is human nature.

CES Letter is setting the expectation that spiritual communication should not only be a magical oracle or genie that gives us whatever we want, but God should also keep us from having to defend ourselves with violence. CES Letter‘s expectation perpetuates Satan’s solution where all our decisions are made for us and salvation is universal. Just pray and you are saved. The essence of Satan’s plan is universal salvation.

Look at any of the social issues that Mormons get attacked for in the church, from racism, to sexism, to homophobia, and you see the same thing. You think Mormons like telling children of gay couples that they need to postpone baptism until they are adults? The commandment is to “forbid not” worthy and willing people from getting baptized, but there are circumstances that pose a moral dilemma which we can’t ignore. We can either cave in and make the easy choice–disregard the law of chastity, or in Nephi’s case, disregard the Lord’s command to get the brass plates and flee town–or we follow God’s guidance.

Mormons recognize that the gate is narrow and the path strait, but we don’t say that there is always one prescribed solution for everything to cover each individual. Circumstances are different for each person. People are not robots that react the same to each condition. This is why God sends out individual missionaries to talk to people one-on-one while Satan broadcasts programs on TV and messages in the media to millions of people at a time. It is the fate of machines to receive the same programming as if every other machine is built the same way. But we are not machines. We are men and women, and the Holy Ghost talks to us individually on a case by case basis, and most of the time there is not one single “correct” choice that we must make.

We can be sure of the Spirit’s witness of Mormon doctrine because it aligns with our good works, works that consistently lead to final success, and it continues to enlighten and improve our lives. Then, we know it came from a good source. Bad fruit will never be given to us by God, even if someone decides to ruin things for us later along the way. Nephi’s killing Laban probably hurt him a lot, but ultimately it led to good. It is also important to remember that bad fruit is not from our own doing, or an indication that we are cursed to be failures. Our stumbles despite our own weakness are the work of Satan and they can be overcome. If someone exercises their agency to cause us pain, that is on them.

It is painful to watch anti-Mormons spiral in a hole of hopelessness and self-pity. They beat themselves up over painful events in their lives and blame themselves, and they refuse to let go and accept people are free to make bad decisions, or that Satan is the source of temptation and doom. They build this confined box in their minds. Lehi’s advice for Laman and Lemuel was to not think about the gloomy place you are now but to focus one the direction you are headed and be firm in faith on the source that guides you. This is ultimately how prayer and the Holy Ghost delivers us from the problem of human flaws. We improve day by day as the Holy Ghost tutors us and we gain mastery over our intellect, emotion, and spirit.

Why Was Moses Commanded To Kill Midianite Women & Children Except Virgins?

“This is truly despicable behavior from God and Moses. Under God’s direction, Moses’ army defeats the Midianites. They kill all the adult males, but take the women and children captive. When Moses learns that they left some alive, he angrily says: “Have you saved all the women alive? Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” So they went back and did as Moses – the Lord’s prophet – commanded, killing everyone except for the virgins.” (CES Letter)

The reason the Midianites were destroyed was because they posed a great immediate threat to Israel. The Lord explains very clearly the events leading up to this particular battle:

“Vex the Midianites, and smite them: For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor’s sake.” (Num. 25:17-18)

  • “Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor,” with apostate sacrifices to idol gods, including child sacrifice. They practiced “only evil continually,” and more and more Israelites were changing sides to join them.
  • A prophet for Baal climbed the mountain of Pe‘or and prophesied the destruction of Moab because of Israel. This likely stirred up violent resentment against Israel throughout the Midianite and Moabite region.
  • Zimri was committing adultery with a Midianite woman in the camp of Moses, leading to the deaths of both Zimri and the woman. This was likely the breaking point in the tension between the two sides.

  • Whether a Midianite was a virgin or not indicated whether they were initiated into the sexual cult practices that was the basis of child sacrifice, and such a corruptive influence on Israel. Hece, the non-virgins were killed. It had nothing to do with sexual slavery or anything.

    Self-Defense – Wars happen. This appears to be a battle between two nations over issues that focused on religion and sexual relationships. Midian hated Israel because of their religion and the death of Cozbi. Israel hated Midian because they were corrupting the people of Israel and threatened the continued existence of Israel. They went to war and Israel won.

    Scholars think the narrative was changed as the Old Testament was passed down, to downplay the involvement of Moab. Who knows how much the text was corrupted. Plain and precious truths were taken from the bible, so we don’t know how much of the narrative was changed and we don’t know all of the circumstances involved. We know at least that Israel was struggling for survival, the Midianites were an existential threat, and they found it important to stamp out the Ba’al cult practices which included child sacrifice.

    Four thousand years from now, a student of American history might assume America was genocidal for dropping the atomic bombs on Japan. War is a dirty business, but nations have a duty to defend their people.

    CES Letter Logical Fallacies

    Etymology CES Letter uses present tense to describe the bible story to make these events sound more recent and important to modern day.
    Red Herring CES Letter shifts blame to Joseph Smith:

    “In this way, they got 32,000 virgins. This is the same prophet that Joseph Smith claimed to have appeared to him and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1 836 for the ‘gathering of Israel.'” (CES Letter)

    The story with the Midiantes literally has nothing to do with Joseph Smith. The number of spared virgins has nothing to do with sexual partners, which is clearly what CES Letter is insinuating here, as the cult worship of Ba’al was the issue. This red herring suggests Joseph Smith adopted genocidal beliefs and sexual slavery from the bible: pure and baseless character attack.

    CES Letter suggests scientific credibility for their narrative:

    “Aside from scientifically discredited stories mentioned earlier, the following scriptures are some among many which make it hard for me believe the scriptures literally and that the scriptures hold any credibility” (CES Letter)

    This is a discussion about ethics. Science is not the study of ethics.

    Guilt By Ignorance CES Letter completely ignores historical context of Israel’s wars and threats.
    Falsehood CES Letter misquotes Numbers 31 to cover up the reason for the conflict.
    Ad Hominem CES Letter:

    “To believe in the scriptures, I have to believe in a god who endorsed murder, genocide, infanticide, rape, slavery, selling daughters into sex slavery, polygamy, child abuse, stoning disobedient children, pillage, plunder, sexism, racism, human sacrifice, animal sacrifice, killing people who work on the Sabbath, death penalty for those who mix cotton with polyester, and so on…. This is truly despicable behavior from God and Moses.” (CES Letter)

    Repetition Redundant: “When Moses learns that they left some alive, he angrily says: ‘Have you saved all the women alive?'”
    Contradiction CES Letter accuses God of child sacrifice, but that is precisely what Moses stopped by fighting this war.”

    CES Letter attacks the character of the Mormon God with appeals to emotion. They whip up a sense of danger. Mormons are liable to commit genocide because of what happened in Numbers 31, and Joseph Smith is liable to take all the virgins. This is important because it gives anti-Mormons a reason to hate Mormons. If the Book of Mormon was made up and Joseph Smith was a conman–so what? Even if he were a fraud, aren’t Mormons still nice people who do nice things and make the world a better place? Why not just let them be? The powerful thing with these arguments is that CES Letter tells you why Mormonism is evil: it kills men and victimizes girls. It This is easy rhetoric for them to push, as the internet is filled with all kinds of false rumors about Mormon polygamy and because the fake news media labels modern-day polygamist cultists as “Mormon”.

    Suddenly it’s not just about Joseph Smith. Now, all Mormons are dangerous! They use God as an excuse to kill and take sexual slaves.

    Of course, this illogical, dehumanizing argument ignores clear Mormon doctrine that opposes such behavior, and clear reality about what the scriptures actually say. Mormons and Christians fought to end the international slave trade and victimization of women and children. What has CES Letter done to stop human trafficking or the slavery of women that still goes on?

    This is an argument about ethics. Apparently it is evil, genocidal, and rape to defend your nation in war. What alternative system of ethics does CES Letter propose? Social justice? Where does that lead? What motive would social justice warriors have to behave differently in a similar situation?

    Does Science Discredit Mormon Beliefs?

    Tower of Babel

    Skeptics say science discredits the Tower of Babel story. So what, ancient people did not build towers? Which part of the tower of Babel story is discredited? The typical atheist arguments against the tower of Babel are:

    • Ancient people could not build a tower tall enough to reach heaven.
    • God would not punish them for trying to reach heaven.
    Biblical scholars agree “heaven” refers to the sky, and the point was that it was a very tall tower for the time. Mormons understand that it was just a tall tower. I don’t know of a single Mormon who believes the tower actually somehow reached the Celestial kingdom. Nobody thinks this.

    The second argument totally misses the point. It wasn’t about trying to go to heaven. It was about relying on the devices of one’s own workmanship instead of looking to God.

    The Babylonian people invented a superior construction method of sun-backed brick-making. They united as a society on a grand-scale construction project and sought to make a “name” for themselves. The natural consequence was a confusion of language. I find this to be a profound, convincing, and fascinating story about development of technology, and its relationship to social dynamics and language. I don’t know of any scientists who claim that in the history of the world there was never an ancient tower that was built and society fractured as a result.

    People Living Very Old

    The bible claims some people were living to be hundreds of years old. There is any number of explanations for this. Maybe the record used a different measurement for years? The Hebrew word for “year,” shanah, means “repetition” or “revolution.” So maybe they measured by the repetition of some other standard. Or maybe people really did live that long. How do you know they didn’t? I’m not aware of any anthropological method for determining how many years ancient people lived.

    All Species Originate From Noah?

    CES Letter says science discredited the belief in Noah:

    “Humans and animals having their origins from Noah’s family and the animals contained in the ark 4,500 years ago.”

    The scriptures never claimed every animal on planet earth died except those on Noah’s ark. The Hebrew word for “earth,” erets, applies to a specific piece of land. This is also how the word “earth” is used in the Book of Mormon.

    The scriptures do not say that Noah took two or seven of every creature. It says they took “of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort… of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind.” I don’t interpret this to mean two of every single species. As we learn from the LDS temple, the animal kingdom is not scripturally divided into species, but general kinds of animals: birds, creeping things, elephants, lions, etc.

    Jonah’s Whale

    Of all stories in the bible, the narrative that the prophet Jonah was swallowed and regurgitated by a “great fish” is probably the most unrealistic. The popular story of James Bartley in 1891 being swallowed by a whale is disputed by historians. How could a person survive inside a whale with no air?

    The scriptures say it was some kind of “fish,” not necessarily a whale, and that it was “prepared” somehow. Maybe it swallowed a container with air, who knows? Whatever the circumstances, Jonah somehow prayed in the direction of the temple, and he was regurgitated onto dry land. We do not have enough information to guess how this all was possible. But the point of scriptures is not to guess up some physical explanations for miracles but to learn a moral lesson.

    Turning Into Salt

    CES Letter says science discredited: “People turning into salt in Sodom & Gomorrah.”
    The people of Sodom and Gomorrah did not turn into salt. It was only one person who turned into salt: Lot’s wife. The Hebrew word for “salt,” melach, is the masculine form of malach, which means “powder.” People can be smashed into powder in a huge volanic eruption, which is what happened here.

    Kolob

     
    Jaradites Travel With Bees Across Ocean?

    “They carried honey bees across the ocean? Swarms of them? All manner of them which was upon the face of the land? (Ether 2:3). ” (CES Letter)

    The Book of Mormon does not claim that the Jaradites carried bees across the ocean. Ether 2:3 takes place before they traveled in the barges.

    “And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.” (Ether 2:3)

    Where does it say anything about carrying bees across an ocean? That doesn’t happen until four chapters later. Even if it did say this, bees can be carried on ships. Yes, it happens.

    Jaradites Used Submarine Vessels

    In this argument, the argument against Noah, and the argument against the Tower of Babel, CES Letter suggests ancient people were not capable of such great accomplishments:

    “Putting a hole on the bottom and on the top of a submarine-like vessel that is tight like a dish so that when you’re in need of air, you unplug one hole but make sure to plug it back in when you go back in the water? ( Ether 2:19-20 )” (CES Letter)

    Yes, boats can be covered and have ventilation hatches. Ancient people had brains and were capable of figuring out how to make this work.

    Skeptics scoff at the idea of a covered ship ventilating out of a single hole. But this is because these skeptics do not understand basic physics. We do not know how it looked, but the hatches were probably considerable in size.

    They likely located a hatch at one end and a hatch at the other end of the ship, one hatch near the base and one hatch near the top for effective ventilation.

    Look at a modern ship. They use large pipes sticking out of the deck of a ship, and they use fans to force air down the intakes. Ancient people could not use a fan, so a ventilation hatch near the base of the vessel would make most sense. The Book of Mormon actually displays a correct understanding of ventilating space.

    CES Letter Logical Fallacies

    Falsehood Scripture does not claim that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah turned into salt.
    Scripture does not claim that the Jaradites carried bees across the ocean.
    Argument From
    Ignorance
    The Bible does not claim that Jonah was swallowed by a “whale,” though it could have been a whale. It claims that the animal was “prepared” in some way to preserve Jonah.
    Strawman The LDS understanding of Noah’s ark is different than mainstream Christianity, and CES Letter seems to mingle the two. Skeptics further characterize the Tower of Babel in a way that neither Mormons nor Mainstream Christians believe.
    Repetition In this argument, CES Letter repeats their arguments about Noah and Kolob.
    CES Letter repeats their phony bee accusation to make it sound true.
    Kafkatrappingwhy would you have to go on for hours defending yourself if your argument is valid?

    That is what’s going on here. People are understandably wary of crazy metaphysics blogs that claim the tower of Babel reached to the Celestial kingdom or that people magically transformed into salt. So it is pretty much useless to try to talk about this.

    The great thing is we don’t need to, because these arguments are built on a false strawman portrayal of what Mormons believe. It is an effective argument because people naturally trust scientific buzzwords over a fringe book of scripture from some ancient prophet. People assume ancient peoples weren’t capable of figuring out how to ventilate a ship.

    What is brilliant about CES Letter is how they allege unreasonable associations as well as unreasonable discrepancies, part of the Contradiction Strategy. They go back and forth between contradiction and similarity, like a demolition man swinging a rusted old metal pole back and forth in order to tear it out of the ground quicker. One second we are appalled at inconsistencies. The next we are shocked at the similarities.

    But just raising the question gives it some tiny amount of credibility. As is often the case with innuendo, this argument successfully uses the kafkatrapping tactic. They begin with the frame that each issue deserves to be called into question, and we buy into it. This leads to an obsession with truth that you can only see, and a superstitious outlook, and suddenly we are trying to scientifically prove every single miracle that ever happened in the history of the world to validate ourselves.

    Fake Science – Satan wants people to pridefully think they know all about science, but really they know very little. CES Letter incorrectly believes quantum mechanics is necessary to know how the sun produces energy. But the Satanic appeal to science is useful for anti-Mormons if it can propagate fake science that leads people astray. That’s why you have top ‘respected’ scientists giving us ‘proof’ for why God doesn’t exist. Followers of Satan accept this fake science without the slightest critical thought or understanding of nature’s laws. It is willful ignorance.

    Changeable Truth – What is the alternative to scripture that has remained essentially the same for many thousands of years? Well, scripture that is always changing. Truth that is never static for Marxists. In the anti-Mormon’s narrative, there is no way the story of Noah is true today the way it was back then, nor should it be. Truth is relative, always fitting modernity. It’s just another branch of science.

    Today, why don’t we add some more female characters to the Book of Abraham story, to show that we are ‘inclusive.’ Why don’t we add something to justify abortion? That is what the anti-Mormon alternative to scripture would be. It is important to keep religion based on immutable, eternal truth and separate from science, because humans are imperfect, and social justice always involves human avarice which always leads to atrocity.

    Racism – Why assume the Jaradites couldn’t figure out how to ventilate a ship? The Babylonians weren’t capable of building a tall tower? Noah’s family wasn’t capable of building a large raft?

    This follows a disturbing pattern of behavior from CES Letter where they dismiss entire populations of people as superstitious primitives. I think ancient people were smarter and more advanced than we give them credit for.

    It is so easy for us today to sit in judgement of these ancient trailblazers, in our cushy office chairs, our convenience stores and air conditioned homes, and to laugh at their crazy superstitions. But could one skeptic or anti-Mormon survive a flood, travel across the Pacific ocean in a wood raft, or survive being swallowed by a whale?

    Of course, our civilization today is so much more sophisticated and advanced than those primitive ancients, but maybe, just maybe, these people knew what they were talking about.

    People were already “debunking” these biblical stories in the 19th century. If Joseph Smith lived in an age of enlightened science, why would he propagate these narratives? Why would he make up the story of the Jaradite barges which resembles Noah’s ark? Actually, the Jaradite story sheds important light on the Noah’s ark story: they used seeing stones and traveled across a local ocean.

    How Could Noah Fit All Animals Into His Ark?

    “Science has proven that there was no worldwide flood 4,500 years ago.” (CES Letter)

    Worldwide Flood? – A lot of what we think about Noah is mythology that people have assumed over the years. It is a very ancient story that is found in just about every ancient civilization on earth, and with many consistent details. At the turn of the ice age with vast amounts of ice melting, there was lots of flooding around the world. Science has confirmed these large floods.

    My opinion is that Noah experienced a large regional flood.

    The Hebrew word for “earth,” erets, applies to a specific piece of land. This is also how the word “earth” is used in the Book of Mormon. I don’t think the entire globe was covered at one moment with water, but over time with large local flood events, and that the animals in Noah’s ark were a small percentage of surviving animals around the world.

    I see nothing in Genesis to contradict this. Look at what the scriptures actually say. Noah and his people built a large raft and survived a flood with a bunch of animals, each animal representing a category of life “after his kind.” The point of the story is not whether the entire globe was covered at a single time in a flood 4,500 years ago. The point is to teach a moral story of obedience and redemption from wickedness.

    Large Ark?

    “Do you really literally believe in the flood story where 600-year-old Noah built a massive ark with dimensions that equate to about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet deep?” (CES Letter)

    Yes. I don’t see what is so difficult to believe about an old man’s family building a large raft.

    The significance of the ark’s dimensions is that they are the same as Moses’ tabernacle and the Jerusalem temple. Each regional flood story talks about different dimensions of the raft that correlate with their own local watercraft or sacred structures. The point of the Genesis story is not the size or shape of the ark, but that it relates to the temple.

    Two Of Every Creature?

    “That Noah and his very small family took two of each unclean creature and seven of every clean creature and all the food and fresh water that would be needed on board for 6 months? ” (CES Letter)

    The scriptures do not say that Noah took two or seven of every creature. It says they took “of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort… of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind.” I don’t interpret this to mean two of every single species. As we learn from the LDS temple, the animal kingdom is not scripturally divided into species, but general kinds of animals: birds, creeping things, elephants, lions, etc.

    What we learn from the scriptures is Noah took representative male and female animals from each “kind” of animal.

    Repopulate After The Flood?

    “And that after the flood, Noah and his family released the animals and they, long with Noah’s family of eight repopulated – via incest – the entire planet?… What would the herbivores eat after the flood subsided? ” (CES Letter)

    Scientists have been surprised by how quickly an ecosystem is able to regrow and flourish after forest fires and volcanic eruptions. Life finds a way, and in fact, large devastating events can be healthy for a region.

    It is hard to imagine, if we are going off of children’s cartoons like Ice Age and Land Before Time, but we know for a fact animals did flourish quickly after the great ice ages and meteor crash. Is CES Letter denying that herbivores were unable to survive after disasters wiped out plant life when a meteor crashed into earth? Isn’t it generally accepted that large disaster events have happened and that animals survived?

    Seperate Faith & Science – Unfortunately, a lot of myth has woven into our understanding of Noah’s ark. Nature worship has always been a popular form of apostasy, and superstitious apostates have always used Noah’s ark as a basis for their corrupt tall tales.

    CES Letter‘s questions assume a phony mythological model that indeed sounds rather unreasonable, according to our modern scientific data. But this is the case only if you are using scientific data to fit a religious model. Why do we need to do this? This is what flat-earthers and anti-evolutionists do. Instead, how about we just investigate science for what it is and stop trying to superstitiously confirm religious faith with physical science? How could science possibly prove or disprove whether an old man’s family built a large raft and survived a flood with a bunch of animals?

    The truly ironic thing about atheists who argue against Noah’s ark is that they tend to believe in modern climate change. Isn’t it generally agreed that global warming is a reality? Isn’t it generally agreed, furthermore, that mankind’s “sins” are to blame? Hasn’t this led to hysteria among extreme environmentalists–who are effectively nature worshipers–such as Al Gore’s prophesy that the polar ice caps would be completely melted by 2016? It is truly crazy that atheists sneered at the Noah’s ark narrative yet believed the North Pole would completely melt in under 10 years.

    So if we are to truly treat the Noah’s ark story “literally,” we need to go by what Genesis strictly says and disregard the myth that has been attached over the years by hysterics. A good first step is to disregard anyone who says “science has proven” anything.

    History is whatever the historians write. Isn’t that the saying? It is interesting that the skeptics who appeal to science so much claim science can prove history? Isn’t history by definition something that we can’t know for a fact? You weren’t around to see what happened, so you assume based on the best evidence you can find. Like everyone else, Mormons gather the best evidence we could find and make reasonable, logical conclusions. It is truly an act of blind faith to assume science proves an old man’s family 4,500 years ago didn’t create a large rafts and bring a bunch of animals aboard!

    CES Letter displays their ignorance of basic science:

    “How did the carnivores survive? There would not have been nearly enough herbivores to sustain the carnivores during the voyage and the months after the ark landed.” (CES Letter)

    This question falsely assumes there are as many carnivore species and herbivores. Actually, there are many more kinds of herbivores than carnivores. “On the whole, herbivores speciate more than carnivores.” This is why when you walk into a forest you see lots of birds and squirrels, but not a lot of mountain lions. So the ark would have been filled with some types of carnivores and lots of types of herbivores. It would not have been hard for Noah’s family to store some food for the carnivores.

    Would God Wipe Out Populations Of People?

    “Am I expected to believe in a god who would wipe out the entire planet like that? Kill millions of women and innocent children for the actions of others? What kind of a god is this?” (CES Letter)

    CES Letter deceptively makes an ethical argument immediately after attempts at scientific, logical arguments. Has science proven or disproven whether God would wipe out populations of people? It is purely a question of ethics, which is something science cannot place under a microscope and study. CES Letter tries to illogically imply some kind of scientific basis for their moral beliefs.

    It is also rather condescending for CES Letter to imply that women and children are incapable of deserving punishment. “Kill millions of women and innocent children for the actions of others?” What, women don’t sin now? Teenaged children don’t sin? Why assume that the women who perished in the flood were incapable of making decisions that led to the punishment?

    It is illogical to describe the Creator of the universe as a genocidal killer–like atheist Socialist Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, or Chairman Mao. Because God created everything. He set the plan of existence in motion, and life and death are part of the plan. Everyone needs to die sometimes, and natural disasters sometimes kill people. This is simple reality.
    Skeptics must recognize that death is something to be accepted. So what is their alternative solution? What is their plan? A world where we all die by “chance” and death is not part of an over-arching plan of exaltation for eternal happiness. In this reality, it is easy to rationalize why some need to die for the greater good. CES Letter‘s questions imply that justice ought to be meted on a class basis–such as men, women, or children. This approach has historically led to crimes against humanity, as we saw in Chairman Mao’s great famine which wiped out millions.

    If you read the literal narrative in Genesis, you find that it wasn’t innocent women and children who died in the flood. It also wasn’t millions of people. The land was saturated universally with wickedness and natural disaster wiped them out. It’s as simple as that. We don’t live in a cartoon world where you get second or third chances. There are consequences for wickedness. Today, there may not be great natural disasters that wipe out the wicked, but there are natural consequences that go along with sin. But the good news is death is not the end, but just one more step in our eternal journeys.

    What would CES Letter‘s alternative ethical model be to Noah’s ark?

    CES Letter Logical Fallacies

    Falsehood CES Letter incorrectly characterizes the population that died in Noah’s flood as women and children who died because of the sins of others.

    CES Letter incorrectly assumes there “would not have been nearly enough herbivores to sustain the carnivores” in the ark.

    CES Letter incorrectly characterizes the “literal” story of Noah from the bible as two or seven of every “creature.” The Genesis story says two “of every sort,” not of every species.

    CES Letter incorrectly characterizes “millions” perishing in the flood. If you take the timeline and genealogy line literally as described in Genesis, there is no way mankind could reproduce that quickly.

    Argument From
    Ignorance
    We know and are told very little details of what happened. CES Letter claims there is an “abundance of evidence against” the story. But where? They present zero evidence against it.
    Strawman The LDS understanding of Noah’s ark is different than mainstream Christianity, and CES Letter seems to mingle the two. CES Letter seems to copy the typical atheist talking points against mainstream Christianity and assume they apply to Mormons.
    Red Herring CES Letter asks how “Noah’s family of eight repopulated – via incest – the entire planet?” All mankind can count Noah as a common ancestor, but there is nothing in Genesis that indicates the entire human race around the globe was wiped out in the flood. Even if they were, CES Letter seems to assume that later commandments against incest were being broken, but there was no commandment against marrying cousins at the time, so this issue is moot.
    Repetition CES Letter repeats parts of their argument.
    CES Letter repeats this argument on p.68.
    Guilt By
    Assocation
    This question unfairly associates Mormons with mainstream Christian narratives.

    What kind of God would wipe out an entire civilization in a flood? This is a good question, and it is unfortunate that CES letter poisons the well with their fake science and lies, a dishonest frame. But it is a great question about justice and ethics that I believe each person needs to figure out for themselves. Mormons do not believe that millions were killed in the flood, or that they were innocent women and children, but we do believe that natural disasters have wiped out wicked people. What kind of God would do this?

    It is really a question of universal salvation. If you believe salvation should be guaranteed for everyone, then you would be outraged at the thought of people being killed by catastrophes. But if you believe that salvation depends on merits, you would believe that there are natural consequences that people reep for their behavior.

    Universal salvation has always been the core belief system of those who corrupted the Noah’s ark story with their myths. Nature worshipers and apostate Christians of the Dark Ages promoted blind faith so that the masses would be profitable economic producers. Salvation was universal for all feudal serfs who plowed their masters’ fields and had holy water poured on their foreheads as babies. They taught the people that people were wiped out by floods whether they deserved it or not. Mormons are different. A person must choose baptism and it must be a token of their actual faith. We plow our own fields. We accept the consequences.

    I detect class-warfare in this argument, with some classes of society being victimized by the misdeeds of other classes–specifically women and children victimized by men. We are tempted to ask, “Why did Noah get chosen to survive while all these innocent people died?” This goes back to the idea of “original sin,” which feudal lords taught to their workers. If faced with a sin that you didn’t commit and you can’t reconcile, universal salvation is the only possible answer. In a Socialist society, you are lumped by class and suffer for the misdeeds of others in that class. In a Socialist society, God doesn’t pick and choose which class deserves to punishment, a dictator does. Natural consequences don’t happen because of sin, but by sheer chance, and there is nothing you can do to help your fate. There is no repentance. So which is worse? A flood that punishes the wicked or a flood that just kills everybody no matter what?

    Which system of justice is superior, social justice or divine justice? It is edifying to compare the benefits of each order of justice, but it is unproductive to subvert this important question with fake science and bad logic.

    Do Mormons Believe Death Existed Before Adam?

    “2 Nephi 2:22 and Alma 12:23-24 state there was no death of any kind (humans, all animals, birds, fish, dinosaurs, etc.) on this earth until the “Fall of Adam”, which according to D&C 77:6-7 occurred 7,000 years ago. It is scientifically established there has been life and death on this planet for billions of years. How does the Church reconcile this?” (CES Letter)

    False.

    • 2 Nephi 2:22 does not say anything about death. It only says Adam and Even were in a state of childlike innocence, and everything would have remained in the same state forever that it was in.

      “And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence…” (2 Nephi 2:22-23)

    • Alma 12 does not say Adam was immortal and there was no death. It only says Adam become immortal if he had eaten of the tree of life. Doesn’t this indicate that Adam was mortal already?

      “And now behold, I say unto you that if it had been possible for Adam to have partaken of the fruit of the tree of life at that time, there would have been no death, and the word would have been void, making God a liar, for he said: If thou eat thou shalt surely die.

      And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.” (Alma 12:23-24)

    So the premise of this argument is totally wrong. Nobody claimed fish and dinosaurs were immortal before the fall of Adam. The scriptures never claimed that there weren’t already cycles of life and death.

    We assume in the church that Adam and Even lived a very long time before they partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed, but there is no indication in the scriptures for how long that was or that they wouldn’t at some point have died of old age.

    Science vs. Faith?CES Letter runs with their lie:

    “The problem Mormonism encounters is that so many of its claims are well within the realm of scientific study, and as such, can be proven or disproven. To cling to faith in these areas, here the overwhelming evidence is against it, is willful ignorance, not spiritual dedication. ” (CES Letter)

    As well as being wrong about the scriptures, CES Letter is wrong about science. Science doesn’t prove or disprove anything. The purpose of science is to efficiently serve a utility, not to find final “truth.” Scientists have developed different theories for different uses, and regardless of how soundly those theories serve us, they are always still just theories.

    Science is the study of physical truth, not spiritual truth, and this is a very important distinction to make. Any attempt to draw spiritual conclusions out of a physical premise is the very definition of superstition. That’s what this argument does. CES Letter starts with a scientific theory and incorrectly compares it to scripture. This is no different than looking at lightning in the sky and wondering whether it came from Zeus or not. CES Letter‘s argument disregards spiritual faith by assuming that physical science always either proves or disproves it. The existence of Zeus now depends on our study of lightning.

    The problem with this is science is always changing and updating. We are always learning new things and coming up with new theories. “Physical evidence” can easily be manipulated and twisted, as CES Letter does here. There is so much in the universe that we don’t know, it would be foolish to base our lives only on what the scientific “community” tells us. It would be even more foolish to base things that we can’t see and put under a microscope, such as ethics, morality, and spirituality, and the study of physical science.

    So I am not sure why CES Letter thinks scientists are any kind of authority about who Adam was, if Adam existed, how long Adam lived, or how Adam relates to us.

    What About Monkeys?CES Letter says:

    “If Adam and Eve are the first humans, how do we explain the 14 other Hominin species who lived and died 35,000 – 250,000 years before Adam? When did those guys stop being human?” (CES Letter)

    What? Adam became “human” when he ate the forbidden fruit! That was the whole point of the story! Adam ate forbidden fruit, became “human,” and we are his descendants. What is so difficult about that?

    “When did those guys stop being human?” Hominin species actually aren’t human. Gorillas aren’t human. Chimpanzees aren’t human. That’s why they are called chimpanzees and not humans. For someone who clings so much to science it is weird that CES Letter would get this wrong. Those “guys” didn’t start being human or stop being human. The only human Hominin species is Homo Sapiens.

    Was Adam the first animal to have Homo Sapien genes? Maybe, maybe not. He was the first animal with the ability to “sin” and receive forgiveness. That is what makes him our “father” as far as the scriptures are concerned. Adam sinned, and thus we have a probationary state to try to repent before we die. The important thing about being human is our ability to recognize death and truly find salvation to overcome death. The forbidden fruit established human behavior which separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

    Does CES Letter seriously think chimpanzees and gorillas are the same as humans? This is a false equivelancy that skeptics and atheists often use against spirituality, that animals somehow are equal to us. If we fit this into a frame of Socialism, the message is that we all should be on an equal playing field, gorillas and humans, will equal rights and everything equal. We should tremble before death the same way gorillas do. Well Mormons are all for equal rights, but we recognize that humans gained an ability that other animals don’t have, and that is to be like our Father in Heaven. We aren’t divided into different species and individual differences in order to unite with equal ability and equal merits, but so that we can excel on an individual basis. Death does not exist as a punishment for existing, but as an opportunity to gain the merits for eternal exaltation.

    This is why Socialists are so offended by the Adam and Eve story. Their outrage isn’t really about the talking snake and forbidden fruit, but that humans are lifted as superior to other animals In the Socialist cult of equality, humans are machines for production and consumption just like anything else. They think it is dangerous to arrogantly think we have divine potential as individuals.

    CES Letter Logical Fallacies

    Falsehood CES Letter suggests other Hominem species like gorillas were human: “If Adam and Eve are the first humans, how do we explain the 14 other Hominin species… When did those guys stop being human?”

    The entire premise of this argument is false. The Book of Mormons does not say death did not exist for any creature before Adam and Eve.

    Argument From
    Ignorance
    We do not know the physical process of creating Adam’s body nor how long he lived in the state of innocence in the Garden of Eden.
    Bandwagon “scientifically established”
    Argument From
    Ignorance
    We do not know the physical process of creating Adam’s body nor how long he lived in the state of innocence in the Garden of Eden.
    Strawman In my public school science class, I learned that science explores reoccurring physical phenomena, not that it proves what “truth” is, and especially not that it proves or disproves spiritual ideas.
    Shifting Goalposts CES Letter just argued that LDS temple ceremonies don’t go back to Solomon’s temple, yet now they seem to push human evolution, even though not all physical links in human history have been proven.

    CES letter previously arued that there were inconsistencies between the bible and Book of Mormon, but now they attack what is in the bible.

    This is the perfect place for CES Letter to declare “science” as the correct method for truth, even as they push fake science. They just got done appealing to universal salvation, and now they push faith in science so that we have a vehicle to get there. Science can be manipulated and “updated” however it needs to.

    Contradiction StrategyCES Letter goes back and forth between too much similarity and too much difference between other sources.

    A requirement of the strategy being used by anti-Mormons is that each part of the Mormon belief system needs a ‘particular essence.’ Followers of Satan can never say: “Well, we just don’t know.” They need an answer for every part, so that they can deconstruct every part, belief by belief.

    This is easier to accomplish when the answer are constantly shifting and you don’t have to settle on one single truth, like Mormons have to. One day, Joseph Smith got his geography names from upstate New York. In a couple years, if we look at anti-Mormon websites they might tell us he actually got them from some book he read, or a map of Mongolia that a family friend possessed. As for Freemasonry, if tomorrow a document surfaces that unmistakably connects Freemason rituals to Jerusalem’s temple, anti-Mormons will just shift the narrative to something else–probably shift to inconsistencies.

    When it comes to history, there is so much we don’t know and will never know. Fools jump to conclusions. Followers of Satan are easily tricked when it comes to history, because they are lazy and do not care to use critical thought. If there is vague evidence for something but we mostly don’t know what really happened because it is ancient history, followers of Satan will jump to lazy conclusions, whatever narrative is hyped on in the media and dressed up in emotional language.

    It is easy to manipulate Satan’s followers when it comes to history because they rely only on what they can see and put no true faith in anything.

    Does Mormon Exaltation Depend On Secret Temple Rituals?

    “Is God really going to require people to know secret tokens, handshakes, and signs to get into the Celestial Kingdom?” (CES Letter)”

    Works Prove Faith – The question of faith versus works goes back to the beginning of Christianity. Jesus taught that good works such as baptism demonstrate a person’s worthiness to enter heaven. Faith leads to good works. The argument against temple ordinances is the same argument that is used against baptism or any kind of ordinance.

    Why do we have to perform this ceremony to please God? Just like schools are organized with formal schedules and graduation ceremonies, God organizes the church with formal expressions of faith through which spiritual blessings and authority are conferred.

    Why do schools hold graduation ceremonies? What is the point of a diploma? Same reason. Is God going to really require all this? Yes, He is. Proxy baptisms and ordinances allow those who did not get the opportunity to accept or reject them in this life the opportunity in the afterlife.

    Not Secret – If the temple signs and tokens are secret, why are they available for anything on YouTube? Are anti-Mormons just really sneaky? No, obviously it is not a secret.

    CES Letter pivots and remarks:

    “If so, Masons, former Mormons, anti-Mormons, unworthy Mormons as well as non-Mormons who’ve seen the endowment on YouTube or read about the signs/handshakes/tokens online should pass through the pearly gates with flying colors.” (CES Letter)”

    If a non-Mormon views it all on YouTube outside of context and an understanding of true Mormon concepts, they will just hear a bunch of boring biblical speeches and random gestures. It won’t matter. If a non-temple-worthy Mormon or an anti-Mormon views it on YouTube, they will be doing so unworthily and be making a mockery of sacred things, and inviting their damnation. It is not secret, but we still don’t want Tom Hanks to broadcast it around because non-temple-worthy people will misunderstand what is happening and will harden their hearts against the truth. It will make them less likely to accept truth. The anti-Mormons who create and distribute these videos, and invent associations with Paganism and secret societies, are spreading damnation for themselves and others.

    Anyone who has been through the Mormon temple knows the ordinances are not a free pass to heaven. This is a very basic tenant of Mormonism, and it is very telling that CES Letter acts coy about it. The temple ordinances prepare those who are worthy and ready, as an expression of their faith. Like a school diploma does not guarantee that you will do well in your profession, the ordinances simply show a person’s preparation.

    Temple ordinances are extremely sacred, and the more skeptics and anti-Mormons handle them with this kind of sneering cavalier attitude, the more hateful and unhappy people they will become.

    Universal Salvation – Faith versus works is a false dichotomy that apostates created to promote the Satanic ideology of universal salvation. Apostate Christians of the Dark Ages promoted blind faith so that the masses would be profitable economic producers for them. Salvation was universal for all feudal serfs who plowed their masters’ fields and had holy water poured on their foreheads as babies. Mormons are different. A person must choose baptism and it must be a token of their actual faith. We plow our own fields.

    Notice how CES Letter shifts their argument to class warfare:

    “Does the eternal salvation, eternal happiness, and eternal sealings of families really depend on medieval originated Masonic rituals in multi-million dollar castles?”

    Imagine somebody asking this about schools. Does does deliverance from harm (aka. salvation), happiness, and family really depend on a certificate showing that we received at a fancy building of education? Well no, those things depend on our merit and how hard we work for income, but a school diploma certainly helps us achieve that. Why would someone reject that a diploma and the education behind it is necessary for success?

    In much the same way as those feudal Lords, modern-day Socialists promote blind faith and attack meritocracy. Their fanatical focus on equality of outcome looks to a big controlling central power to retain all responsibility and all fitness, and all we have to do is wave our hands in the air and put our trust in them–be dutiful serfs on their fields. Making it to the temple is not easy. You don’t get there because you are rich, a certain race, or privileged. You get there because you worked hard to be a strong and virtuous person.

    Several lies were carefully woven into CES Letter‘s provocative question:

    • CES Letter incorrectly equates Freemason rituals with LDS temple ceremonies. There are a couple similarities but they are very different. Mormonism is not a secret society.
    • CES Letter incorrectly makes it look like Mormons think they are guaranteed salvation and happiness if they go to the temple.
    • CES Letter incorrectly assumes Masonic rituals, which show similarities to LDS temple ceremonies, originated in medieval times. This is totally basless and incorrect.
    • “Multi-million dollar castles”?
    • CES Letter sets a false dilemna: if Mormon ordinances increases happiness and salvation then that excludes other people from being happy or safe. This is classic class warfare agitation where if one person isn’t successful it must be because someone else is. One class must be opppressing another class from their multi-million dollar castles.

    Unfairly Excluding? – So if religious ordinances don’t help with our success, then what does? The Socialist answer is equality; we are all happy as equal economic producers under a benevolent dictator, a totally even playing field for our safety, happiness, and family definition.
    CES Letter continues:

    “Is God really going to separate good couples and their children who love one other and who want to be together in the next life because they object to uncomfortable and strange Masonic temple rituals and a polygamous heaven?” (CES Letter)

    • CES Letter illogically set a false dilemma before, but now they ignore an obvious either/or condition: Either Mormons are right and families can be sealed in their temple for eternity, or CES Letter is right and good couples and children will be separated after death. In other words, CES Letter points out a problem that they do not have a solution for. They are just complaining.
    • CES Letter again repeats their false claim that the LDS ceremony is Masonic.
    • CES Letter is suggesting that “love” is what really matters rather than sealing ceremonies. This perpetuates their faith rather than works argument from before, universal salvation. If families want to be together in heaven they will get sealed in the temple, just like people who want an education will get a diploma from a school. The Socialist solution is for everyone to get diplomas regardless of their education so that no one is excluded. Everyone gets a trophy: all you need is love.
    • CES Letter implys that only good “couples” can love each other. I thought anti-Mormons believed in “all you need is love?” Are polygamous people unable to love? Aren’t anti-Mormons always championing alternative family arrangements?
       
      CES Letter sets a false dilemma fallacy where good “couples” shouldn’t want a Mormon version of heaven because it is “polygamous.” This strengths CES Letter‘s Big Lie that Mormon policy is the same thing as Mormon unchanging doctrine, and that polygamy therefore is still somehow a problem. It is interesting that CES Letter would treat polygamy like some kind of original sin that Mormons aren’t allowed to get past, as the feudal Dark Age Lords also enforced their universal salvation ideology by oppressing the people with an original sin doctrine, Adam’s sin. Universal salvation follows original sin: Propagate social justice or you are damned for Joseph Smith’s polygamy.
    • “uncomfortable and strange” – Some parts of the temple and Mormonism could be uncomfortable, it is true. Why is that a problem? Why do people always need comfort and familiarity? Socialists try to divide people into classes of similar people so that they feel more comfortable, in a familiar surrounding, and ease them into the universal salvation idelogy. Socialism is all about making people comfortable, but always being comfortable does not help a person excel and find happiness. Muscles are built through strenuous labor. Likewise, a strong and virtuous person develops through discomfort.
       
      Socialists alter their ordinances to fit individual classes, but Mormons do not divide people into classes. We do not alter ordinances to fit different cultures. We focus on the individual, not the class. If you avoid the Temple because you are scared of Masonic associations and Pagan orgins, then you do not have the courage, faith, and fortitude to receive the blessings you would receive. Mormons do not hand out lollipops and ice cream to make people feel comfortable, sorry.

    After all of this complaining, still no solution from CES letter. What is their superior alternative to the Mormon temple? How does CES Letter propose saving families eternally in heaven? Well, obviously atheists don’t believe in heaven. Marxists don’t even believe in families! If the anti-Mormon Marxists had their way, the government would raise children. So why are they complaining about some children being separated in the afterlife?

    This entire argument boils down to the primeval battle in heaven where God wanted to test and try us on earth, so we can excel from our merits, while Satan wanted to save everybody and force us to make right choices. It’s just so unfair!!!

    CES Letter Logical Fallacies

    Falsehood CES Letter repeats the falsehood that the Mormon temple ordinances originated from midievel Masons.
    Repetition CES Letter repeats key phrases like “signs, tokens, handshakes.”
    Redunant: “uncomfortable and strange.”
    False Dilemma CES Letter sets false dilemmas and ignores legitimate either/or situations.
    Ad Hominem Uncomfortable and strange. Multi-million dollar castles.
    Begging The Question If they were “good couples”, then they would have nothing to worry about. The question is what proves they are good?
    Strawman Knowing signs and tokens from a Youtube video doesn’t mean anything, just as swimming in water is not a baptism.
    CES Letter misrepresents the function of LDS temple ordinances and what they mean.
    Red Herring The rich castle imagery is an appeal to class warfare. Which economic class is excluded from the temple?
    Appeal To Ridicule “…unworthy Mormons as well as non-Mormons who’ve seen the endowment on YouTube or read about the signs/handshakes/tokens online should pass through the pearly gates with lying colors.” No.
    Tu Quoque The appeal to universal salvation is dampened by the suggestion that Mormons believe in getting a free pass from temple ordinances. The appeal to intolerance and bigotry is dampened by accusation of Mormons being intolerant.

    Finally! We get to see the ideology that CES Letter has been agitating for this who time. The mask slips. What is the alternative to Mormonism? Universal salvation. CES Letter frames the temple as an issue of class warfare, Mormons performing secret Pagan rituals in multimillion-dollar castles, while good couples get excluded because they do not like polygamy.

    CES Letter does not tell us what the alternative to Mormon works should be, but the answer is implicit: faith. What else could it be? Faith versus works, one or the other. Socialism relies on blind faith, and for all the hatred CES Letter expresses for “faith” throughout their pdf, that is what universal salvation relies on, and that is really what they are promoting.

    Big Lie TacticCES Letter shifts between internal contradictions and external contradictions to propagate their big lie. Previously, CES Letter (baselessly) argued that the LDS temple contradicts ancient rituals. Then they argued that the LDS temple contradicts earlier LDS temple ceremonies. CES Letter ignores all historical context, and perpetuate the big lie. Now LDS temples contradict morality.

    CES Letter gets away with this because demonize the Freemasons or the Illuminati or whatever. There is so much mythology on TV about it and conspiracy theories in the news. It is easy to make an Ad Hominem attack through association. It takes people too long to look at the actual evidence and study actual historical documents. Even mainstream church apologists are beaten down by all of the accusations and have give way to the big lie.
    The really clever thing about this argument is how CES letter brings up polygamy. Skeptics also tend to bring up the Black priesthood ban in this argument. These things are “original sins” that they hang over the heads of modern-day Mormons to pressure them into accepting universal salvation. If faced with a sin that you didn’t commit and you can’t reconcile, universal salvation is the only possible answer.

    Of course, they do not say what it is they believe in so we can’t return challenges in kind to their faith. They never say “instead of this we believe in this.” I think this is why anti-Mormons typically don’t bring up the real reasons why they left the church when they ask their “questions.” No mention of gay marriage, feminism, or the other social issues of today which they typically complain about. They want to snipe from a safe position where they don’t have to talk about their own beliefs.

    Anyone who actually knows history knows CES Letter is wrong, but real value of this argument is that it builds association between Mormons and secret societies. The point of this argument is not to convince us that Joseph Smith ripped off the temple ceremony, but to associate Joseph Smith with shadowy secret groups. That is what really makes this argument effective. Thus, CES Letter reinforces their Big Lie that Mormons are dangerous.

    This is how CES Letter operates: through innuendo. They push the Big Lies, they wrap them in a veneer of science, and this convinces the weak-minded members of their audience that science is a superior alternative truth to Mormonism, and that science proves that Joseph Smith was dangerous. This is what is known as superstition. Not science. This is like saying Joseph Smith was visited by an ancient alien in his First Vision at Cumorah, rather than God and angels. It is unscientific, goofy, and erases all faith.

    This reinforces the victimization culture among anti-Mormons and ex-Mormons, where everything bad in life is the fault of Mormons and the LDS church. If Mormons don’t agree with their shifting truth, the narrative that changes as needed to propagate the Socialist ideology, then that means Mormons are intolerant, withholding blessings from people who deserve them. Suddenly, disagreement with anything an anti-Mormon says is an act of aggression and intolerance.

    This is where we get today’s popular cultural appeal to accept degeneracy and apostasy, relative truth, in the name of “tolerance” and “equality.” It is really just intolerance of Mormon beliefs.

    Contradiction StrategyCES Letter goes back and forth between too much similarity and too much difference between other sources.

    A requirement of the strategy being used by anti-Mormons is that each part of the Mormon belief system needs a ‘particular essence.’ Followers of Satan can never say: “Well, we just don’t know.” They need an answer for every part, so that they can deconstruct every part, belief by belief.

    This is easier to accomplish when the answer are constantly shifting and you don’t have to settle on one single truth, like Mormons have to. One day, Joseph Smith got his geography names from upstate New York. In a couple years, if we look at anti-Mormon websites they might tell us he actually got them from some book he read, or a map of Mongolia that a family friend possessed. As for Freemasonry, if tomorrow a document surfaces that unmistakably connects Freemason rituals to Jerusalem’s temple, anti-Mormons will just shift the narrative to something else–probably shift to inconsistencies.

    When it comes to history, there is so much we don’t know and will never know. This argument is ridiculous because there are zero records to confirm where the rituals came from, and CES Letter asserts their claim from thin air. Fools jump to conclusions. Followers of Satan are easily tricked when it comes to their pareidolia and history, because they are lazy and do not care to use critical thought. It is especially easy when it comes to the Mormon temple because Mormons are reticent about what happens in the temple and anti-Mormons can say pretty much whatever they want. They spread all kinds of falsehoods about these sacred buildings and sully the temple unopposed. If there is vague evidence for something but we mostly don’t know what really happened because it is ancient history, followers of Satan will jump to lazy conclusions, whatever narrative is hyped on in the media and dressed up in emotional language.

    It is easy to manipulate Satan’s followers when it comes to history because they rely only on what they can see and put no true faith in anything.