Not all definitions of marriage are equal

The other day I was listening to yet another Christian conservative parrot the tired mantra about how liberals are trying to change the definition of marriage. My first thought was that if marriage equality changes your definition of marriage, you’ve been using a bad definition of marriage. And that got me thinking about the various definitions of marriage, and how they compare with one another.

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I am Peter Ingersoll

When Mighty Timbo undertook his disproof of Mormonism, the first point he offered was eyewitness testimony by one Peter Ingersoll (or Ingersol, or Ingersall, not sure why there are so many different spellings), to the effect that Smith’s “Golden Bible” wasn’t really there. When I invited Timbo to submit that article, I told him that I would look for parallels between the weaknesses of Mormonism and the weaknesses of Christianity, and this is one of them. Just as Joseph Smith had eyewitnesses who could see for himself that the Book wasn’t really there, you and I and even Timbo himself are all eyewitnesses to the fact that Christianity’s God isn’t really there. In effect, we are all Peter Ingersolls, because we are eyewitnesses to God’s manifest absence from the real world.

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The case against Mormonism

I’m going to try something a little different and see how people like it. A little while ago I was approached by a self-described Christian apologist with a request that I write my best case against Christianity, up to 2,000 words, for presentation on his blog, so that he could respond to it. I declined, but I made him a counter offer: write a similar rebuttal of Mormonism, written in terms that would be convincing to a skeptic, and I would publish it on my blog, and make a similar argument against Christianity. I frankly told him that I would use his material to illustrate the extent to which a priori beliefs influence the believer’s perception of an argument’s validity and impact, but he’s still game, and sent me his arguments against Mormonism.

I’ve included his article below, unedited (though slightly reformatted to fit the blog format better). Does he convince you? Would he convince a Mormon apologist? Do his arguments apply equally well to Christianity if you make the appropriate substitutions?

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World to end—by 1881

I feel bad picking on poor Harold Camping. So just to keep him company, here’s an excerpt from an early Mormon regarding Joseph Smith’s prophecy a century or so earlier.

On the 14th of Feb. 1835, Joseph Smith said that God had revealed to him that the coming of Christ would be within 56 years, which being added to 1835 shows that before 1891 and the 14th of Feb. the Savior of the world would make his appearance again upon the earth and the winding up scene take place. In connection with this event, was related by my brother Dimick Huntington, the fact that when Joseph and Hyrum Smith submitted in their feelings to consent to give themselves up to the state mob at Nauvoo Illinois, after they had passed the Mississippi River. Joseph said “if they shed my blood it shall shorten this work 10 years”. That taken from 1891 would reduce the time to 1881 which if the true time within which the Savior should come much must be crowded into 6 years.

This is from a transcript of the Journal of Oliver Broadman Huntington, vol 2, p129. A little farther down the page, he adds:

I testify that every word that Joseph Smith spoke, will be fulfilled that has not been fulfilled.

Um, well, he’d better hurry if he wants to make it by 1881.