Ruminations on Religion
Mormons, history, reality, and myth
The Book of Mormon has no foundation in ancient scripture. Joseph Smith allegedly was visited by an angel (Moroni) who directed him (now missing) to a place where golden plates (from his days in New England he was a "treasure seeker" and known as a confidance man who swindled people out of their money) were buried, from which he read the word of a Jesus who walked throughout the New World. Smith was kicked out of Ohio by an angry crowd who learned of his sexual irregularities, and forced to flee from Missouri when he encouraged bigamy. Smith had no formal education but could read, in part, the bible and dabbled in witchcraft. To consider this man a source of enlightenment does disservice to those who can read more than a few words.
The Book of Mormon is fantasy. Joseph Smith dictated to Martin Harris its "hidden message" by reading reflections in seer stones (the mythical "Urim and Thummim") at the bottom of his hat--the stones have since "been lost." Harris later claimed he lost the original manuscript. It never existed, for the LDS is a myth originally used to choke wealth and property out of the most gullible. I have a large Mormon library with all of the original publications from the old press (dated 1834 through 1837) which released the Book of Abraham--another fantasy that Smith claimed he bought from a traveling mummy exhibition as the text was allegedly printed on Egyptian papyri. My publications detail my knowledge of hieroglyphics, but Smith never studied the language according to any biographer--and the papyri also miraculously disappeared.
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Evil, Sin, and Religion
For thousands of years, religions have attempted to define sin and evil according to particular preferences proffered by priests, pastors and similar being. Invocations of the name(s) of a deity or deities is common, and the codification of behavior deemed acceptable or unacceptable is attributed to that deity that no one or only a few claim they have direct access to hearing and sometimes seeing. That is nonsense as it makes those clerics into theological terrorists threatening others with imaginary offenses that carry severe penalties.
Another delightful read. I do not think that we are very different--only our literary style is different. The passage "Do unto others as you would have them do to you" is now over 15,000 years since it was first written--then plagiarized by numerous other people and recorded as being original (which it has not been for 15000 years).
In my way of thinking, "evil" (sin/crime/etc) is when a person does something to another person without that other person's knowledgeable consent. That means, if you ask me to help you end your life for whatever reason, and I know you are in good mental health and can make a judgment based on your personal desires (as did Socrates), and if I had no objection to helping you end your life, then I would not be committing murder (the same as two combatants in a war are not murdering one another as both combatants know of the possibility/risk of death. The same is true for theft: if I take an apple off of your tree without your permission, that is theft, but if you invite me to take an apple off of your tree as you want me to eat it, then I am not stealing the apple. To me evil/sin/crime comes without consent, as in the case of "adultery" (where one partner does not know and does not want the other partner in a sexual relationship with someone else); but if one partner has no objection to the other partner having sex with anyone else, that is not adultery but a form of concubinage. Eugenics is always wrong as it take away the freedom of choice based on an external criteria that the eugenicist(s) argue is correct without the consent of the person being tested (as proposed and enacted by Hitler in his death camps). Photocopying a paper from Wikipedia is always wrong without the written consent (and attribution) of Wikipedia--it is theft of intellectual property (plagiarism). The summation is that evil/sin/crime comes without consent.
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