Thursday, May 29, 2008

Don't Trust

I just watched the short (just over a minute) film "How Can I Know This is True?" It is available for download, free of charge, at

In the streaming film a woman, a very hot woman by the way, is talking about how she was always so rational. Then she reads the Book of Mormon and prays about it. She then admits, as though this were a good thing, that when she was trying to decide if it (the Book of Mormon) is true, is the word of God, that she "wasn't thinking about it-she was feeling."

And you know, that is a really remarkable statement. I wasn't thinking about whether the Fermat's last theorem was true, I was feeling (that would have saved an awful lot of time and effort don't you think?). I wasn't thinking it was a good idea to drill a hole in my head, I was feeling. I wasn't thinking that I should join Hitler's genocide, I was feeling. I wasn't thinking it was good to fly a plane into the twin towers, I was feeling.

I can remember very clearly speaking with some Mormon missionaries. I would continually ask them, "why should I believe what you are proclaiming?" I always got the same answer, "just pray about it and you'll feel it's right." Well, maybe I am missing something, but to totally base one's life-and afterlife-on feeling does not seem very wise to me.

I am a man. Men are rational creatures. Even by male standards, though, I tend to be exceptionally rational. I can see the evidence for biblical Christianity and perceive it as compelling. But Mormonism? I mean, feelings are certainly a valuable part of the human psyche so I am in no way anti-feelings. And yet, everything has its proper purpose. Is it the purpose of inductive science to establish deductive mathematics? Is it the purpose of a sewing machines to feed babies?

Again, it is the epitome of folly, it seems to me, to base an entire religion, an entire worldview, an entire life on feeling that something is true unless I have badly misunderstood the sense in which "feeling" is traditionally used in LDS testimony.

To be fair, in the video, the woman also says that God told her that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. So this is more than just a feeling perhaps. But there is a real problem here because God has told me that he (Smith) is not a prophet of God. It is too bad there wasn't some objective court to appeal to when considering competing religious claims. Oh wait-there is. And this is precisely what Christian apologists down through the ages have appealed to in their rational defences of the faith.

How can we know that Mormonism is false? I suggest we use our minds instead of our hearts in determining truth. It is an easy matter to see that Mormonism is not biblical Christianity (though they strongly affirm it is). All we have to do is examine what the Bible teaches then place that side by side with their own teachings. If the two systems are mutually exclusive, why then, quad erat demonstrandum.

One glaring example of contradiction, perhaps the most glaring, is that Mormons are polytheists and the Bible, I think very explicitly, says there is only one God. It is a well-known saying, well known in LDS circles anyway, that, "as man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become." In other words, if you are a good Mormon, you will someday become a god so, therefore, for the Mormon, there are many gods. And this is polytheism. In contrast, in the Bible, if one has spent five picoseconds reading the Old Testament then one sees that the major problem there, was getting everybody to agree that there was only one deity. And that lesson was a very hard one for the Jews to learn but learn it they did by New Testament times. And that is part of the reason why to this day some Jews do not accept their messiah Jesus. How could a man be God when only Yahweh is God?

And strict monotheism is not absent from the New Testament either though, of course, it also teaches that Jesus is God. So if you read on the official LDS website that Mormons are Christians too, don't you believe it for a minute-if by Christian they mean biblical Christianity. And when the Mormon missionaries come to your door and ask you to pray about the Book of Mormon there is no need for it is already manifest that it cannot be true (the reasons not all being discussed in this post).

So then, you can know that biblical teachings are true through good evidence (not here discussed) or you can feel that Mormon teachings are true. I think it is clear which side of the debate I, for one, fall on. All that being said, I would not like to give a fair hearing to the other position. Any Mormons in the blogosphere are encouraged to leave comments to this post setting the record straight. As a matter of fact, I'd love to have the opportunity to have a formal and friendly debate with you on this blog. Please let me know if you are interested.

Prince Caspian Review

It had been a while since I read Prince Caspian so before going to see the new one recently, I visited my local library and "rented" the old version on VHS. To the best of my memory it was itself quite faithful to the book. The differences between the old and the new Prince Caspian videos are multitudinous.

I must say that I was impressed with the faithfulness of the first new movie to the book "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." I was less impressed with the second offering. It seems to me they took a lot more liberties with the latter than they did with the former. The opening scene of the first movie was absent from the book though, more or less, implied in it. Further, the scene on the ice was a clear departure from the book. Other than that, with the possible exception of a watered down version of the anological trilemma, there really wasn't a whole lot different between movie number one and book number one. By analogical trilemma, I mean when the professor is reassuring the oldest brother and sister that they ought to believe their youngest sister about the magical wardrobe as incredible as it may seem.

So there were too many changes in Prince Caspian the movie from Prince Caspian the book, in my opinion. What other complaints are there? Well, there was way too much fighting in this one (and also the first one). Yes, it is true, that there is fighting in the books. Moreover, violence itself is not a problem. There is plenty of violence (and sex, now that you mention it) in the Bible itself. My problem is not with violence per se. In fact, I rather enjoyed the first installment of the Saw series. Those movies are about a man who enjoys torturing people in unique ways, albeit with a view to ethical reform if the people happen to survive the ordeal (they normally don't survive). My problem is with violence as a spectacle which takes away from the real story under consideration.

And what is the real story of the Narnia series and, more particularly of Prince Caspian? I remember watching an interview of the cast of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" and one of the people said that it, the first movie, was just a good story and can be interprated any way one wants. Not so. Jack clearly intended certain meanings to be taken from his Narnian series. He specifically said, in a letter to a child, that Aslan is supposed to be a real person who really exists outside the novels in our world. He then went on to imply that that person is Jesus Christ. It is not that Narnia is an alegory for Christianity. Rather, Narnia is a parallel, albeit fictional, Christianity you might say.

And there are certain ethical themes in the various books. For instance, Edmunds lust for Turkish Delight is an illustration of gluttony (one of the seven deadly sins). His gluttony lead immediately to the negative consequence of the betrayel of his friends and siblings. And after that, it led to his death. Or, it would have, if Aslan (who is Jesus, remember) did not die in his place on the stone table (the ten commandments, by the way, were written on stone tables in our own world). The Chronicles of Narnia are blatantly, though not explicitly Christian stories. Now, even in the new movie Prince Caspian they included the ethical idea of faith. If you have seen the movie or read the book, you know that the older siblings do not believe the youngest's eyewitness testimony to having seen Aslan in spite of everything that happened in part one. In other words, they had a lack of faith which is sin.

But, while this ethical idea was included, along with the heinousness of pride, the focus of the movie seemed to be not primarily on ethics, which is closely linked to theology in my view. Instead, the focus seemed to be on fighting battles. And such "cheap thrills" normally imply a lack of substance. But there is no lack of substance possible when one is talking about Jesus so all the fighting was superflous at best and watered down the real story at worst.

Now, this is not to say that the movie did not have its good points as well. I enjoyed the movie (though I have other complaints as well I'll spare the reader here). I thought prince Caspian was cast much better than he was in the older movie. That is one example of a positive. The special effects were good. The movie seemed more mature than part one which is a nice feature for adult audiences. And it did stay close to the essence of the Narnia series of books as a whole and Prince Caspian in particular. So it was not all bad.

In the final analysis I would have to say that I could pobably give it five stars if there was less gratuitous violence and less deviations from the book as I remember it. For these perceived flaws I can only give four stars or less. I do recommend it for fans of the books, the older movies, good fantasy fiction in general, Christians with an imagination, and everybody else.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This Blog's Purpose

The purpose of this blog is to be an extention, not only of myself, but also, a soon to be founded ministry. There are, of course, many different sorts of ministries. This one is a ministry focused on Christian apologetics (i.e. the intellectual defence of the faith). As for the blog itself, it shall consist primarily of random thoughts for the day normally revolving around something of cultural interest and/or important for Christian apologetics. And the cultural analysis shall be from a particularly Christian perspective. Thanks for reading! Tell all your friends about this blog!!