This time I decided to approach the debate as a guy (since they won't talk to Angie anymore). Let's see if "Mike" can get further with this misogynist sect.
You are speaking live with Austin, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Information provided in this session is to provide assistance only and is not an official statement of the Church.
Austin: hello, how can I help you?
Me: Hi I've got a question about the devil.
Why did God make the devil?
Austin: what kind of question?
(We've got a slow reader, slow typer, or slow internet connection here.)
Me: Why did God make the devil?
Austin: we don't believe that He did
(WTF? I learn new things about mormons every time I do these chats.)
Me: I thought god created everything
Where did the devil come from?
(Pause during which I cleaned up maybe a quarter of my son's toys.)
Austin: the Bible calls the devil a "fallen angel"
Me: oh sure, of course not. but he made him when he was still an angel right?
Austin: we all have the ability to choose who/what kind of person, etc we will be
Me: Can god destroy the devil, now that he is fallen?
Austin: this part is harder for a lot of people to grasp, but we actually believe that if anything has the ability to think and reason for itself- then God did not create that reasoning part- He created a body to house that reasoning
Me: So God just makes our bodies, not our brains and minds?
Austin: well.. technically our brains are part of our bodies- but our minds, right. The part that allows us to think for ourselves and make decisions and reason, etc. That part of us is eternal
Me: So our minds are eternal, but God didn't make them? Then where did they come from?
And did the devil's mind come from the same place?
Austin: God's goal, everything He does, is that we (our intelligence or whatever you wish to call it) can become more like He is and experience the joy that He does, etc.
we don't know
Me: well, this is all very interesting. but back to the devil - since he has chosen to be fallen, or whatever, why doesn't god just smite him?
Austin: and yes, the devil is included in that. Eternity is something that is hard, maybe impossible for us to grasp. In Eternity, I don't think there is any "come from"
Me: So nothing really made our minds, they just always existed?
Austin: God has a perfect plan, which is in place. it began long before He created the world and will continue until the final resurrection. Before then, everything that needs to happen will... everything will be worked out before the end.
As far as we know, yes
Me: but if god knows everything that will ever happen, why did he let the devil tempt Eve in teh garden and make mankind fall?
Austin: the fall is actually part of the plan
Me: It is?
Austin: God knows what will happen. He doesn't stop it, but He does make a way for us to overcome it.
The important principle is agency
(Free will alert! Free will alert!)
Austin: God won't stop us from making our own decisions- and suffering the consequences
but He gives us opportunities to learn about consequences before we make decisions
Me: and he won't stop the devil from making his own decisions and letting all of us suffer the consequences, right?
Austin: He gives us the Gospel, and the Holy Ghost so that we will know which decisions will bring happiness, and which won't
that's correct. Instead, He gives us tools to use so that we can avoid the traps of the devil
Me: But after the Fall we're all cursed. We don't live in the garden, men have to work and women suffer pain in childbirth, right?
Even though only Adam and Eve had agency in that, we all suffer the consequences.
Austin: we actually look on the fall as a necessary step in God's plan
(Then it's a STUPID plan!)
Me: but why couldn't he have just I don't know made the garden without the tree or without the devil? Then people would still have agency but we wouldn't suffer from disease and pain.
Austin: if they hadn't been banished from the Garden of Eden, we know that they wouldn't have been able to have children... and none of us would be able to get a body. A physical body and a mortal life are necessary steps to becoming more like God
we must endure pain sometimes so that we can learn to fully appreciate joy and happiness
Me: They couldn't have kids in the garden? But God made Adam out of dust and Eve out of his rib. So we could still have had physical bodies without leaving the Garden.
Some pain, sure, but not kids starving to death around the world. I don't see how that helps anyone appreciate joy and happiness.
Austin: may I share with you a passage of scripture that explains this principle of being free to choose?
That becomes the question, then.. how much suffering isenough? Luckily we don't hav eto understand that. We only have to learn to trust that God is in control and that things will work out. He gives peace to our souls if we trust and follow Him.
That is one part of the power of the Holy Ghost- to bring peace to our souls despite trials, etc.
Me: Well I read the article, but a lot of it is confusing to me
Austin: I understand
Me: Why did God design a system where mankind had to fall? Why couldn't he make people able to grow and have kids and learn and progress, but still stay safe and happy in the garden? why make things so that innocent children starve to death?
Austin: this part is hard at first for a lot of people, but as you study the plan as a whole- and continue to pray and ask God for His help in understanding, etc.- it will continue to make more sense
Me: well since it makes sense to you, maybe you can explain it to me? I thought God was all powerful. Shouldn't a wise, eternal, all-powerful god be able to make a better system than this one?
Austin: you have to remember that He didn't create the part of us that is 'us'-the unique core of us. His plan is the only/best way to take us from where we were before to where we can have the joy that God has.
If He could have, He would have
this must be the best possible system
(Must be because my god is a little god.)
Me: He's limited in his power?
Austin: He can do everything that can be done, but there must be Eternal laws that GOd is subject to (must like we are subject to the laws of physics). but these Eternal laws are things like justice, balance, etc.
Me: God is subject to Eternal laws? Well, did someone or something cause these laws to exist, or do they supersede God?
Austin: we don't know. It's back to the "Eternal" thing again
Me: well this is really interesting. I've never heard this idea of things being more eternal than God.
Is God more powerful than the devil?
Austin: nothing is MORE Eternal
either it's Eternal or it isn't
I don't think there can be degrees of Eternal
Me: okay good point :)
(This is probably my own Christian childhood. I was taught we had eternal souls, from the moment of conception moving forward, but not backward in time.)
Austin: but this is really turning into a more philosophical speculative conversation than what is actually the purpose of this site
Me: Oh well I just... I guess I don't understand why a loving god would let kids starve to death for some master plan. I have one kid and I'd never let him starve no mater what
Austin: there is a lot we cannot understand about God and the Eternal nature of things- but we do know is important
and that is outlined here on this website
I encourage you to continue to read through the outlines here
Me: Maybe I just love my son more than God loves us?
Austin: and we can clarify any questions you have about what you read
that's definitely not the case. God's love is perfect. (NOT!)But He does understand things better than we do
Me: I don't know, I think I understand suffering better than he must
Austin: at some level- and that level might be different for different people- we have to put our trust in God's hands
Me: I do everything in my limited power to stop it, he doesn't
Austin: and understand that as Isaiah and Proverbs teach us-His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, etc.
Me: Higher or just different? It seems like Higher would mean better, and better would be less kids starving to death
Austin: I would not underestimate what God understand=)
Me: Maybe if he cures all the disease in the world, or ends hunger I'll believe. I can't understand worshiping a god that lets innocent people hurt so much
Austin: hold on a moment
I have to go help some new missionaries
would you like to wait? or can I transfer you to another representative who can teach you what we believe about how to gain trust in God and His plan even if we don't understand it all?
Me: Either one would be great
Austin: ok, one moment
Has transferred you to: Kendall
You are speaking live with Kendall, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Information provided in this session is provided for assistance only and is not an official statement of the Church.
Kendall: Hey Mike give me a moment to read the conversation to ceath up
Me: Sure thing
Kendall: Alright Mike so if I understand correctly you have a qusetion still about why God lets us suffer?
Me: And why he won't just destroy the devil
Kendall: there is actually a scripture in The Book of Mormon that explains this perfectly
are you familiar with the Book of Mormon at all?
Me: no, not really
Kendall: The Book of Mormon is similar to the Bible meaning that it is another witness of Jesus Christ's life and minestry. However it was written by the people who lived in aincent America, in 6000 B.C.
Kendall: Just like the book of James or John in the Bible, the Book of Mormon has other books such as a section called the Book of Nephi
Nephi was a prophet who was taught by God and here is what he has to say about why we must suffer.
Me: Okay - let me read this first
(Now my son wants pancakes, so the ultimate multi-tasking adventure begins)
it basically looks like it says that everything happens in balance? like there has to be evil for good to exist?
Kendall: that is exactly right
imagine never knowing pain, or sorrow
how could you then know joy and peace?
Me: well, actually I think so. Some people have pretty good lives all the way through, and they're happy. Other people have lives that are mixes of pain and happiness
Kendall: That is true, it always does seem like that on the surface. But I promise you that everyone goes through trials in their lives, they just might not be that visible to others. Do you remember the story of Job from the Bible?
Me: well okay but I'm not asking about minor troubles. I'm asking about kids starving to death.
Kendall. So why would God allow his children to die, if He loves them?
Me: yes, exactly. because I would do everything in my power to keep my son from starving or dying or suffering
Kendall: If I had a son, I would do the exact same thing. But if you were to solve every problem that your son has, then how could he learn?
Me: I'm not saying every problem. I'm saying those ones - starving, dying, and suffering. God is supposed to be more powerful than I am, but he lets people starve, die, and suffer. Why?
Kendall: Are you familiar with what happened to God's son Jesus Christ when he was on earth?
Me: yeah, and that's something else I don't get. Why kill his own son? He's the one who set up the system. Why not make a system that doesn't require a blood sacrifice?
Kendall: God created a plan so that we could return and live with Him, but this could only be possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
(Now my neighbor is here. She has a job interview so I'm watching her son for a little bit. While making debating mormons - and making pancakes. Why do I have the feeling this won't end well?)
Me: It seems like if I had been all powerful and all knowing, I'd come up with a different system. Heck, I'd do anything to avoid having my son tortured, beaten, and hung to death.
Kendall: I think for the most part we would all feel the same way. However before Christ left this life, He said to the God, "father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Even after Christ was tourtured, and spit upon, and forsaken by His own people
He still only cared about us
Me: I'm not questioning Christ's love for us. I'm questioning God's love for both Christ and us
Kendall: alright, and that is a doubt that most people have.
Me: How do you get beyond that doubt to trust him?
(Crap! Pancakes are burning. Time to take them off the stove.)
Kendall: So imagine knowing that your family is introuble, and the only way to help them is by sending your only son to them. But you know that he will suffer beyond comprehension, would you till send your son to them?
(Christian neighbor mom totally, unquestioningly answered the same. "NO!" It's a non-brainwashed thing.)
Me: No, because I'm his mother. He's an innocent and he depends on me.
(At this point, I was sure I'd blown it. They MUST realize I'm actually female - right?)
Kendall: But why did God send his son, when Christ never sinned nor did anything wrong in his life knowing of all the things that will happen to His son?
Me: I don't know. It doesn't make sense to me. Why couldn't he just make us good, or forgive us? How does torturing someone (or letting him be tortured) make the rest of us less sinful?
Kendall: Because God cannot, nor will he control us. That was Lucifer's plan. The only possible reason is Love.
Letting children starve to death is part of a plan for love? Having his own son brutally murdered is love?
Kendall: We might not understand right now, but we must first trust in God. There will always be doubts, the doubts never go away. It only becomes a probelm when the doubts overweigh the truth.
Me: How can you trust a God who allows so much wickedness as part of his plan? It just doesn't seem right to me to trust someone who has the power to stop evil, but won't do it.
Why won't god destroy the devil?
Kendall: Life would deffinetly be a lot easier, and because life would be so easy that we would not grow as much as we could if their was no trials.
Me: But maybe we wouldn't be so broken either. And kids who starve to death never have a chance to grow - they're dead. Why won't god destroy the devil? We could still grow and learn without him, and it would probably be easier to love each other and be good to one another if we weren't tempted to be wicked
Kendall: In the Bible Christ is always tell us to help the poor and the needy. Maybe it is not God but the people in the World who are letting the children starve.
(Capital "W" in World concerns me.)
Me: It's both. But people only have so much power - go is all powerful. Surely he could make more food or help crops grow better or something like that. That wouldn't even interfere with agency, it would just mean there was enough food for everybody, in all places. Can't he do that?
Kendall: Of course He could, but how could that help the world for the greater good? sure people would not be hungry or dieing, but how does that help the people who wont help, who wont donate to the needy, who wont asist the poor?
Me: Are you saying God cares more about the people who won't help than the people who are starving?
Kendall: not at all, but that that is where the bigger problem is
It is already in our power to help them
just that most people choose not to
Me: But if no one was starving, it wouldn't matter if some people weren't helping. Right now people aren't helping and so other, innocent people have to suffer. And God has the power to stop, but won't. How is that loving or just or balanced?
Do Mormons send food to starving people?
Kendall: Ofcourse we do, tons
the first sunday of every month we have something called fast sunday
Me: That's really good. I think it's important to help starving people. I just don't understand why God doesn't seem to think that it's as important as you Mormons do, or as I do. Can you explain this to me because it doesn't make sense to me?
Kendall: God does care, that is why He commands us to do it. Who better to take of the poor than their own brothers and sisters? We have all already been given so much by God that he expects us to be the one to help them.
(Boys! Quit hitting each other. One of you can bounce on the trampoline and one of you can play with the fire truck. DON'T throw the fire truck!)
Me: God would be better at it, because he could fix the problem all at once. He's all powerful. He can get into countries that have secured border, where humanitarian aid can't go. He could take care of the people he created (their bodies at least) better than we can because he isn't limited like we are
Kendall: That is why we must learn how to do it.
Me: We must learn how to do it, because God can but he won't?
Kendall: But through the people who are doing it, in a way, isn't God himself doing it
Me: No! The people are doing it. If God was doing it himself, it would be a big miracle, like turning 7 loaves of bread and 2 fish into enough to feed the crowds listening to Jesus speak. Why won't he do that with starving African children now?
Me: I think it's good and valuable that you help. I also like that the Jews, Chrsitians, Catholics and Muslims help. But why doesn't God just fix it?
And why won't he just destroy the devil?
Kendall: Our church is only 15.5 million to 6.75 billion people in the world, yet look at how much we have tried to help
Me: I think that's excellent. I just wish your god was as good to humanity as you are.
If he has the power to destroy the devil, why won't he do it?
Kendall: I can totally understand why this is such an important topic to you. And if it was just as important to you as it was to everyone else, then their would be no starvation in the world.
as for the Devil, he has no power over us. It is only when we allow him to
So why would God destroy him?
Me: Because he is evil. And evil should be eliminated, don't you think?
Kendall: He has given us all we need to over come the devil. The rest is up to us.
Me: It seems like God set us up so that most people would fail. How many people are there on earth, and how many will make it to heaven?
Kendall: He has already done his part to give us a way to make it to heaven. It is not Him, but ourselves that is keeping us from going to heaven.
But the way he gave us lets most people fall through the cracks
Kendall: It is because the people Chose to not follow God
Me: If God is all powerful and all knowing, why not make a system that fewer people fail at? If he loves us, but most of us don't make it to heaven, why doesn't he change the plan?
Kendall: The plan is perfect, does it not make sense as to why we fail?
Me: The plan where kids starve to death and his own son is a blood sacrifice is perfect? I don't agree
Kendall: But what happened to his son after his death?
Me: Well he went to hell for two days, but god sends his other children - us- to hell for eternity all the time. Which just doesn't seem loving at all to me
There's absolutely nothing my son could do that would make me torture him for even one second, much less forever
Kendall: He didn't go to hell, infact he is given everything that the father has
Me: but what about people god does send to hell. Aren't we all god's children?
(Neighbor-mom is back. Time to take the little ones outside for a minute.)
Kendall: Your questions are important to me, thanks for sharing, but I know that God's plan was perfect. He knew that His son had to suffer because he loves us. If Christ didn't pay for our sins, there would be no hope for us to even be with God.
Think about that, we sin and are so imperfect and God has provided a way for us to be clean and return to Him. Instead of criticizing his plan, we should be grateful that He has provided a way for us to return through His Son
Kendall: Has transferred you to Nathan
You are speaking live with Nathan, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Information provided in this session is to provide assistance only and is not an official statement of the Church.
Nathan: Hello, hang on a second... I have a few other people I am helping right now and I'll be with you in a minute...
Nathan: Has transferred you to Shawn
You are speaking live with Shawn, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Information provided in this session is to provide assistance only and is not an official statement of the Church.
Me: Hi Shawn?
(I've been outside for 15 minutes. Surely they've hung up on me.)
Shawn: Yes. How can I help you?
(Whoa! They'll stick around FOREVER if you're a MAN.)
Me: Hi Shawn. I just have one question. Why hasn't God destroyed the devil?
Shawn: Because he is necessary to our growth and learning. Our purpose on this earth is to learn to distinguish between good and evil. Choosing good leads to happiness, joy, and freedom. Choosing evil leads to captivity, and misery. There must be opposition.
There will always been good and evil because there will always be agency and opposition.
Me: Do you think it's possible to distinguish between good and evil without following the Mormon faith?
Shawn: Yes. All men have been given the Light of Christ - which is like a ingrown knowledge, or conciounce. However, when one repeatedely goes against that light and chooses to do wrong, that light dims and it is then harder to distinguish.
Me: Okay so if someone follows his moral center, and does what is right his whole life, will he go to heaven?
Shawn: Doing what is right all of your life is one necessity and step you must take, but it must be accompanied with certain ordinances. For none can enter the Kingdom of God save through faith in Christ, baptism, and repentance.
We believe in three different Kingdoms of Heaven - the Celestial (Highest), the Terrestrial, and the Telestial. All ordinances must be performed to enter the Celestial.
Me: So if someone is born in say Laos and he's a good man and kind and does what is right, but he never gets baptized or has faith in Christ - what happens to him?
Shawn: ALL men will be given the opportunity to accept Christ and be baptized. All will hear the Gospel and have the opportunity to accept Christ and the ordinances before they are Judged and placed into a Kingdom of God.
Me: Like, after they die but before they go to one of the levels of heaven or to hell?
Shawn: Yes. Exactly
Me: Well, that seems good. But then why bother to do missionary work here on earth?
If God will give everyone a chance later, maybe we should just concentrate on being good people and worry about heaven and hell after we die.
Shawn: Because this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God. That is the whole purpose of our time here. And we are the exact same after we die - we leave this world with the same knowledge, thoughts, beliefs.
Me: Wait, so we're exactly the same, then will people make different choices when they're given that last opportunity to hear the Gospel, or will they hold onto the beliefs they had on earth?
(Because otherwise, atheists are right. We can wait till we're dead to commit - the Mormon God is actually allowing for disbelief due to lack of evidence up UNTIL judgment!)
Shawn: They could do either. But their feelings they had while on earth are the same. Yet, just like hearts and attitudes can be changed here, they could be changed there as well. It is really up to the person.
(WTF? Better steer this conversation somewhere that isn't totally foreign to me.)
Me: But I still don't see why the devil is necessary for growth and learning. Good can exist without evil. Evil can exist without good.
If good depended on evil to BE good, then that would mean God depends on the devil to BE god. And that doesn't make sense to me at all.
Shawn: Could you ever know really what happiness is if you never experienced grief, pain and sorrow?
Could you know something was hot if you had never felt cold?
All things are relative to their opposition and the things around them.
Me: Yes, I think so. My son has had a very good life, and he is happy everyday.
He doesn't need to hurt to know what it feels like to not hurt. He doesn't need to starve to know that it feels good to have a healthy meal.
The highlighted verses should explain the concept
Me: Kendall sent the same verse. It says everything happens in balance, but I don't think that's true.
Shawn: If your son knew NOTHING except a good meal - did not even know there existed anything different - he could not comprehend what a bad meal was.
Me: Like I just said, my son doesn't need to feel starvation to know eating food is good. Our brains send us signals that we like food and so we eat it.
So what's the harm of not comprehending a bad meal?
Shawn: Well then he cannot be truly happy - maybe he feels he is happy, or balanced, but there is more happiness out there than he knows
Because then you cannot experience FULL happiness.
He is content, but he is not reaching the full possibility of joy, happiness and knowledge.
Me: Maybe the happiness that doesn't require suffering, starvation, pain, and death of innocent children across the world is a BETTER kind than the "full" happiness you're describing.
Shawn: Ignorance is bliss
Me: It makes no sense that you have to experience pain to be happy. You have to experience pain to be miserable, I'll grant you that.
Yes and bliss is another word for happy
Shawn: So if he only knew pain and suffering, then he should be content and blissful as well. What you are saying implies that they are opposite.
(No shit happiness and misery are opposites. Heck, Noggin cartoons establish that lesson daily before 9 a.m. Mormon = moron right about now.)
Me: NO! He'd be miserable. Pain and suffering cause misery. Safety, protection, and provision cause happiness.
Shawn: If we were all only ever sad and pained and so forth, then we would still be content
(Sheltered, brainwashed, CLUELESS Shawn.)
Me: No, we wouldn't be.
Because people who grow up in abusive homes, and don't know anything but sadness and pain, they are not content. They are miserable.
Shawn: They only cause misery because we know that we are miserable because we know we are not happy - because we know the difference.
Me: Parents who lose their children to AIDS and starvation in Africa, who only know pain and suffering, they are not happy. They are miserable.
Shawn: If there was not a difference, it would not matter what we experienced - it would be the same.
(Gee, if there was no difference rape would be as okay as not rape. Well duh! There IS a difference. The presence of lovemaking isn't what makes rape bad. Rape makes rape bad. Starvation is not what makes food good.)
Me: Shawn what you're saying makes no sense.
Pain = bad, not pain = good.
Shawn: Because they know of something different- they talk to people who are different, they see difference on tv, they know difference.
Me: You don't have to break one ankle to know that the other one is healthy
Shawn: They know difference thought because of this Light of Christ which is given to all men
Me: Why is knowing the difference more important than just being "content" in the Garden of Eden, or just going straight to heaven? Why make some people suffer unimaginable pain so that others can experience more joy and contentment?
That's not loving. That's God picking favorites. (Which He does in the Bible - chosen people and such.)
Shawn: You should pray about this, with real intent, truly wanting the answer, and you will get one. (AKA - I don't have an answer. Ask Magic Man.)
Me: Have you gotten one when you prayed about this?
Shawn: I know that God is our Father and he wants us to experience full joy. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I know that we are here for a purpose and that God has a plan for each of us. I know that God's plan is perfect.
Yes, I have. I know it as a fact. That is how real my answers have been.
Me: What do you know of starving children who die in the desert?
or kids who are beaten in foster homes?
How is that part of a perfect plan?
Shawn: God knows and loves them.
Me: Love means taking care of someone. Love means trying to stop needless suffering.
Shawn: We do not know all things God knows.
Me: I don't claim to know all things God knows. But I know that if *I* was all powerful, I'd put an end to starvation.
Shawn: Do you attend church now?
Me: What does that have to do with the continued existence of the devil, or God's ambivalence to human suffering?
Shawn: I know that God's plan is perfect. I have no doubt. I know that God knows all things and all things will be made right in the end.
Me: So it's okay for thousands of children to suffer and die for the "greater good" of God's plan?
Shawn: I don't know. I just know God loves His children.
Me: Love means not letting someone starve to death.
If God' plan is love, then it's seriously overrated.
Shawn: Part of his love is our agency. He cannot stop us from making choices.
(Here we go again with free will...)
If a father chooses to beat his child, that is his choice, and God respects agency.
(WTF? I seriously did not see this coming!)
Me: What child born in a 3rd world country, already infected with HIV, has agency?
God respects beating your kids?
If you knew a man was beating his children, would you try to stop him?
Shawn: This life is but a small part. We will live for eternity.
Me: If you saw your neighbor beat his child, would you try to stop him?
Shawn: I know all of this is true. I have prayed, I have felt greater joy than I have ever known. It is clear we have different beliefs. I respect yours. We are both rooted in our opinions. So this conversation must come to an end.
Me: If you say your neighbor beat his child, would you try to stop him? Just please answer that
My opinion is the moral one that does not try to excuse an unjust god.
Shawn: Have a nice day!
What have I learned? Shawn was by far the most brainwashed. "I know I'm right because I know I'm right because I know I'm right." Circular logic blows. Apparently Mormons are waaaaay more off from the Christianity I'm more familiar with than I'd realized. God didn't make our "selves" just our bodies? Seems like a god that didn't do that part shouldn't get to screw with us as much as he does, in that case. He should only have jurisdiction or guardianship over the physical self. And what's up with god being subject to "eternal laws"? That's different. Of course, all religions are weird and only the one you grew up with seems semi-normal. But still, there was a lot more Scientology similarities than I'd expected. And most important of all: Mormons will spend literally 2 hours talking to a man, trying to persuade him, but will log off lickety-split from a woman who disagrees.