What is it that drives us as human beings? We view the world through a particular lens, some of us defining it as we search for truth and others seem to view the world without searching hard at all. What are the answers to the big questions: Where did we come from? What is my purpose in life? What happens when we die? It seems that the way Joseph Smith viewed the world can be answered by taking a peek into his short time here on earth.
It appears that he had some strange beliefs about where we come from. Consider the following teaching about God:
“We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 345-346).
Let’s look at this for a moment. Joseph Smith wants to teach that God was once a man like us? So in the mind of Joseph Smith, there is an infinite number of planets out there, because there must be an infinite number of Gods populating them. In order for Smith’s idea to work, there has to be an infinite number of gods populating an infinite number of planets, from an infinite amount of time in the past.
William Lane Craig explains that Persian philosopher, Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Ghazālī, believed that we cannot really have an actual infinite number of anything (let alone, Gods). In other words, “Ghazālī had no problem with the existence of merely potential infinites, for these are just ideal limits. But when we come to an actual infinite, we’re dealing with a collection that is not growing toward infinity as a limit but is already complete” (Craig, On Guard 79). What this means is that an unlimited number of Gods is impossible because in Mormonism, people continue to become gods all the time. If they are adding to the number of infinite gods, then the number cannot be infinite in the first place.
It is the same with time. In order for the doctrine of gods in Mormonism to work, there has to be an infinite amount of time (at least past-time), because to a Mormon, there is no sole, powerful, creator who made the universe in which we live. According to Mormonism, the universe always existed (D&C 93:33), and gods are basically reduced to alien-humans who were good enough to become gods from other planets. But there are several issues with this. One is that an infinite amount of time cannot exist, since we haven’t yet experienced tomorrow, but yesterday we have experienced, and we know that tomorrow is going to happen, Lord willing, which is the moment in the space-time continuum where time itself is bound. In order for an infinite amount of time to exist, it would have to be a complete set of infinite time, but because tomorrow itself exists, it proves that an infinite set amount of time is not reality.
Mormonism teaches an infinite number of gods. Think about it, if God populated a planet of billions of people who have the potential to become gods of their own planets and do the same thing (Which our Creator supposedly came from a planet near the made-up star, “Kolob,” once being a man like us), then there would have to be an infinite number of planets as well, at least accumulating at the speed of the number of people who die and have the chance to become gods of their own planets. You’re probably thinking, “this is absurd!” by now, and you would be correct. An actual infinite number of anything cannot exist.
The point in all of this is that everything in the space-time continuum has to have a beginning. The universe, in which all of these planets exist in the mind of Joseph Smith, has to have a beginning. Since there is a beginning, there cannot be an infinite amount of past time. If there cannot be an infinite amount of time, there cannot be an infinite amount of planets and as such, there cannot be an infinite amount of gods.
So what else brings me to the idea that Joseph Smith is an atheist? Because just as C. S. Lewis talks about Jesus (Mere Christianity book 2, Ch. 3), Joseph Smith can in a similar manner, only be a liar, a lunatic, or who he says he is, which is a prophet of God.
There are several questions we must raise about this, however. For instance, a prophet of God would likely not be inspired to translate a word of God in a language that was not spoken at the time of the interpretation. The Book of Mormon was translated in Early Modern English, which was not spoken for over two hundred years before the time of the Book of Mormon. If God spoke to Americans, why would He use a language that was not used in common speech? No other prophet in history did anything like this. Smith clearly had presuppositions about this type of language, that it was holier than the common language.
Joseph Smith had several wives. Wouldn’t this be the drive in the era he was in to condone his polygamy? I believe this was his motivation to start Mormonism in the first place. He was simply a sex addict. Think about all of the people who opposed Joseph Smith. He was booted out of places, and they regarded him as a liar themselves. For what reasons? The same reasons anyone would, because they saw that he was seeking only to serve his own desires.
Joseph Smith died in a gunfight, and it seems that prophets of God, many of them becoming martyrs, would not have had guns in their possession other than for hunting (if guns existed at the times of the prophets), if they really trusted in God. How many prophets in the Bible fought for their lives other than with words? Imagine Jesus with a gun. It is laughable, because it would not have happened. A history of Joseph Smiths death was written by the 8th governor of Illinois:
An attempt was made to break open the door but Joe Smith being armed with a six barrelled pistol furnished by his friends fired several times as the door was bursted open and wounded three of the assailants At the same time several shots were fired into the room by some of which John Taylor received four wounds and Hiram Smith [Joseph’s brother] was instantly killed Joe Smith now attempted to escape by jumping out of the second story window but the fall so stunned him that he was unable to rise and being placed in a sitting posture by the conspirators below they despatched him with four balls shot through his body (History of Illinois from its commencement as a state in 1818 TO 1847 Thomas Ford, Chicago: SC GRIGGS & CO 1854, 354).
So Smith shot people up, stole men’s wives, made a wrong-era language translation of a book that has no archaeological evidence to support it whatsoever, taught radical doctrines never heard of before in theology, and the list goes on. It seems that the reason Mormonism grew is because he was the type of man who had an answer for everything, and was better than most at keeping track of his lies. Unfortunately for Mormonism, Smith couldn’t keep track of all of his lies, and eventually they caught up with him and an angry mob exterminated him. It is only Smith’s successors who continued to elevate him to a higher status, because they also saw the benefits of Mormonism, which was being able to justify the feeding of their similar lack of self-control.
Joseph Smith was an atheist because he took notice to the trusting naivety of his contemporary fellow man, and through manipulation, convinced a handful of them that he was more than a storyteller in order to get what he wanted. He was an atheist because he was living according to his worldview, which does whatever is desired, because nothing mattered in his eyes. To him, there were no gods to answer to, no judges to face, and thus, he manipulated the world around him to do what he did best, use women as objects.
Mormonism is specifically a man’s religion, much like Islam. It all points toward endless amazing sex for the Muslim. What about women? What do they get? To share one husband among a crowd of women? I’m sure that this sounds like an extremely exciting eternity for women, but realistically, it seems like it would get old after the first few thousand millennia.
Mormonism is not far from this. When you die (if you are a good-enough Mormon man), you can populate your own planet with endless celestial sex, in the same way Mormons teach that God has done on this planet. Again, what about women? Nothing but objects. Objects that their husbands supposedly love, but nonetheless, objects. What do they have to look forward to in eternity? Objectification. Baby machines.
Joseph Smith was clearly an atheist. He didn’t believe that he would have to answer for these kinds of things. In the book of James, chapter three, the Bible teaches us that not many of us should become teachers because teachers will receive a harsher judgment. If Smith read this (which most Mormons believe he was at minimum, a biblical scholar), then he would know that if he taught things which were wrong, he would receive harsher judgment. Otherwise, we have reason to believe that if he read James, he did not believe anything it said. Teachers receive harsher judgment because by teaching, they claim to be experts on what they teach. If you are teaching theology or doctrine, then you claim to have expertise on the subject. The fact that Joseph Smith did teach enormous amounts of doctrine which clearly disagrees with what the Bible teaches, he is claiming to be an authority on the subject of theology (through revelation), at the least. As such, we can conclude that he either doesn’t care what the Bible says, which, through the eyes of Pascal, would be a serious violation of wagering, or that he doesn’t believe what the Bible says, which would make him, for the most part, an atheist. Lacking morality and manipulating those around him to feed his sexual desire, brings a conclusion that Smith didn’t believe that he had to answer to a Just Judge.
In the trilemma that C.S. Lewis offers his readers in Mere Christianity, there are three choices: liar, lunatic or Lord. And because of His miracles, because of the things that the apostles said of Him and died for what they kept saying, we can conclude that Jesus is Lord. Joseph Smith, on the other hand, was probably not a lunatic, because he could clearly formulate thoughts. He was not a prophet, because of the reasons listed above (and a plethora of other reasons), but he was a liar. Why? Because he had the disease that is pandemic to most humans: He wanted to serve himself.
Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus.