Sunday, July 28, 2013

Life is a test - The Parable

I am kind of tired of the lame excuse that God can't be more involved in our lives because then we would have no agency, God can't have prophets that actually prophecy or show signs because we wouldn't have any choice, or that God has to make the choice appear 50/50 so that you have to choose.  All because, OBVIOUSLY, life is a test.

Well, this is a really stupid test if it is one.  If you ever had a test in school that was like the one God is supposedly giving us humans, you would probably talk to the college and try and get that professor in trouble.  Let me demonstrate the inherent absurdity of said test with a parable.  Note, that this reflects the beliefs about prophetic revelation that I have gleaned from reading apologetic sources, removing a lot of the power of prophets, etc.

The Test
There once was a group of students that were going to be given a test.  They do not know that they are going to be given this test, nor will any of their past knowledge be on the test.  They are, essentially, starting as a blank slate (for the purposes of this test).  As luck would have it, the professor decided to be out of town between the now and when the test is supposed to be given, so they won't be learning anything from him directly.

Luckily, the professor decided to send out letters to all of the students.  Sadly, he was in a foreign country with an unreliable postal system.  Many of the letters got lost, some got damaged and were discarded by the students on arrival, some got lost after they arrived.  Some precious few, however, got to their destination and were read.  These students now knew that there was a test coming, they still didn't know what would be on it, but that they needed to start studying.

They had proof of the test through the letter, unfortunately the professor did not provide any way for the students to know that it came from him.  Due to this, many of those that received the letters did not believe the test was coming, and due to the lack of evidence of the letter coming from the professor, most of the other students did not believe the group that had received letters.

To counter-act all of this miscommunication, the professor called up one of the students personally and told this student about the test, as well as how to study for it.  Sadly, the line was garbled, and it was hard to tell it was the professor calling.  Nevertheless, this student decided that they needed to go around and tell everyone that the test and how to study.  This student had no proof of privileged knowledge, and was a little kooky to boot, but quickly amassed followers among the students.  Unfortunately, this student was unable to clearly communicate how to study, and the study guide that this student wrote was riddled with errors and inaccuracies.  At least, the professor thought, they were going to be getting some studying done.

The professor also made sure that his teaching assistant knew all about the test and was available for questions.  The only problem is that the teaching assistant has a speech impediment.  The assistant's speech impediment is so bad that few students can really understand him, and the majority of them simply think they are hearing things if the teaching assistant tries to talk to them.  The professor also tasked the assistant to try and spread the news about the test and how to study.

There was also a study guide available from last year's test (which is identical to this year's), but the professor made clear (in his phone call) that last year's study guide had been corrupted, and while it had some good things in it, the students would need to take any questions to his teaching assistant in order to determine what is relevant to this year's test.

There were also many different students that had decided to start their own following.  Each group claiming different tests, with different test material, using different study guides, and different test dates.  This situation became so confusing that most students didn't know what to believe with regards to when the test was or what to study.  Many of the students started to send e-mails to the professor complaining about this.  As the professor hear more and more about the chaotic situation, he knew that this was what he intended all along.  Surely, thought the professor, this would be an ideal test, only those that passed the test would be worthy of a good grade.

-- The End --

I could keep going with this and flesh it out more, but I think this shows the quality of Mormon God's 'test'.
Really, why wouldn't it be a reasonable test if we had infallible prophets, perfect scripture, and visible miracles.  We would still have to make a difficult choice to accept God/Jesus/The Gospel.  Think about it.  Just because you know how you should act, does not mean that it is easy to act in that way.  Simple example, everyone knows what the speed limit is and how to avoid a speeding ticket, yet how many people still get them?  Or murder, steal, lie, cheat, etc?  Doing the "right" thing is pretty damn hard, even when you know, perfectly, what it is you should or should not be doing.  How does knowing what you need to do remove the element of choice?  People would not have to make a choice to believe.  There is nothing commendable about making a choice to believe in God when that choice is not logical nor rational based on the current evidence at hand.


  1. Talk about an extended metaphor! This is a brilliant post. The thought of the holy ghost as a TA makes me chuckle.

    I'd also like to point out one of the things I find annoying about what you mentioned in the beginning--that TBMs say that prophets showing signs or performing public miracles would deny people the choice of believing in God. It frustrates me that TBMs are also quick to point out that a testimony built on a miracle instead of faith is shaky. You can see angels (Laman and Lemuel for example) but still fall away from the truth. To me, that defeats the argument that God can't show himself because he values our agency too much.

    1. Thank you :)
      That is an excellent point. Yet another self-contradictory statement in the Book of Mormon. SURPISE!