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Philosophy and the Restored Gospel
Advantages of Latter-day Saint Theology in Philosophy
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Question: What are some of the philosophical/theological advantages of the Restored Gospel?
Creatio Ex Materia
There are many philosophical advantages to believing in the Restored Gospel. One is believing in Creatio Ex Materia (Creation from Material). Traditional Christianity has held to Creatio Ex Nihilo (Creation out of Nothing). Creatio Ex Materia helps Latter-day Saint theology be more compatible with the second law of thermodynamics which states that matter cannot be created nor destroyed. With this theology, we don’t have to go through pains to assert that God could have created our earth since we have no evidence that immaterial things can actuate material events. Our monism does wonders to make our theology very healthy.
Christian philosophers of religion have traditionally seen the body and the soul as two separate entities—with the soul being the center of intelligence and being something that gives life to the body. This conception of the soul has come under a lot of scrutiny with such events such as the split-brain studies which showed that the brain can actually be working like two minds if split. Latter-day Saints affirm that the body and spirit are one in creating intelligence and meaningful experience (D&C 88:15). This view is known as "substance monism". This belief allows us to avoid much of the problems with mind-body dualism. This is essentially the view that biblical scholars recognize as being advocated in the Bible. 
Theistic philosophers of religion have had to deal with what is known as “The Problem of Evil”. The problem of evil basically poses that the existence of a loving-all powerful God is threatened by the existence of evil—both natural and human—in the world.
The Latter-day Saint theodicy starts with the pre-existence , where in the pre-mortal council, we deliberated about the possibility of coming to earth, receiving a body, and learning the difference between good and evil. We accepted this proposition as part of our quest to become like God. We believe that God (potentially) went through this same process at some time in perhaps eons past. Latter-day Saints understand that there is opposition in all things (2 Nephi 2:11). Without understanding of contraries, there would be no understanding. If we did not understand that evil existed, we would not be able to conceptualize the existence of a good God. Thus, Latter-day Saints combine a very well-developed and unique soul-making theodicy with an opposition theodicy to answer the problem of evil.
Additional Listening on the Problem of Evil in Latter-day Saint Theology
- Exploring Mormon Thought Ep. 60: What We Learn From the Problem of Evil
- Exploring Mormon Thought Ep. 61: What We Learn From the Problem of Evil Part 2
- Exploring Mormon Thought Ep. 63: A Mormon Process Theodicy
- Exploring Mormon Thought Ep. 64: The Plan of Atonement Theodicy Part 1
- Exploring Mormon Thought Ep. 65: The Plan of Atonement Theodicy Part 2
- Exploring Mormon Thought Ep. 66: Radical Evils and the Pre-mortal Consent - The Plan of Atonement Theodicy Part 3
- Exploring Mormon Thought Ep. 67: Natural Evils - The Plan of Atonement Theodicy Part 4
- Exploring Mormon Thought Ep. 68: Jesus Christ the Savior of the World - The Plan of Atonement Theodicy Part 5
- David Paulsen: Joseph Smith and the Problem of Evil
A compelling answer to the Problem of Diversity
The Problem of Diversity states that the existence of an all-knowing God is threatened by the existence of many religions with conflicting beliefs. If he truly wants us to believe in one truth, why would so many religions with conflicting teachings exist?
- Latter-day Saints believe that religion is established by God (D&C 134:1)
- Latter-day Saints believe that God has inspired the good in all religions. (Alma 29:6; Moroni 7:19)
- Latter-day Saints believe that God gives his Spirit unto all people so that they can understand the difference between good and evil (Moroni 7:16)
- Latter-day Saints believe that all that that is good and inspires people love God and serve him is of him.(Moroni 7:12; D&C 84:46-47)
A more detailed answer to this criticism may be found at the link.
Truly, the Restored Gospel offers variegated ways in which to inspire faith in those that may have ruminated over these questions for millenia. With the ushering in of the dispensation of the fullness of times, God brought us pearls of great price.
- Donald R. Potts, "Body" in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible ed., David Noel Freedman (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000) 194; Henry L. Carrigan, Jr., "Soul" Ibid., 1245; Alice Ogden Bellisb, "Spirit" Ibid., 1248.