Monday, March 26, 2018

Rejection and Substitution: Origins of False Religion, Secular Humanism, and Atheism

Rejection and Substitution:
Origins of False Religion, Secular Humanism, and Atheism
Neil J Flinders

The Ancient Pattern of 'The Two Paths'
Story A

Our personal choices, which turn into beliefs then behaviors, tend to follow two basic pathways. One path leads to (a) a confirmation of the divine existence of our Heavenly Father, his Plan for us, and his love for his children. The other path leads to (b) the rejection of this notion of a divine Providence, and the substitution of other human devised conceptions of the origin, purpose and function of humankind. The first path leads to the Plan of Happiness and Eternal lives. The second path leads to a myriad of diverse human philosophies mingled with scriptural fragments; each of which foster confusion and ultimate eternal diffusion. This alternate path provides a birthplace for false religion, secular humanism, and eventual atheism—where people esteem themselves to be the source of ultimate power and determinants of individual destiny. These two paths constitute “the doctrine of the two ways” written and spoken about anciently as well as in modern times. (The Ancient Doctrine of the Two Ways and the Book of Mormon Noel B. Reynolds BYU Provo,; see also Deut. ch. 30; Dead Sea Scrolls)

Choosing which path to follow is a basic challenge of mortality: “Behold here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that [the Plan of Happiness] which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.” (D&C 93: 31; Romans 1:16-32) Accepting and abiding by Heavenly Father's authority, truth, and light or rejecting revealed counsel, then substituting something else in its place has been a problem since the beginning. Individuals are able to create their own alternative beliefs and actions; to which they consecrate their time, energy and resources. These substitutes, when acted upon, form the cultural foundations for much of human education. It is within this crucible of choice that conflicting values, and various destructive behaviors emerge. The comment by the Jewish Historian, Josephus, offers one example from antiquity. He attributed the engineering of the Tower of Babel to a man named Nimrod. He separated himself from God and taught his followers they should “esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God.” (Flavius Josephus Antiquities of the Jews IV, 3, Trans. by William Whiston.) This doctrine of self empowerment is alive and pervasive in the world today. The undesirable consequences are evident.

What follows in this document, is a brief review of scriptural comments on this central human issue, as well as some of its consequences. Our choices do have consequences and these consequences can travel from generation to generation. Consider carefully the personal significance of the offerings in these records and the personal testimonies of these individual witnesses.

Adam's Account

Adam and Eve kept a Book of Remembrance—a genealogical record in the language of Adam, in which was recorded ordinances and instructions from Heavenly Father regarding the origin, nature, and destiny of humankind. “And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and daughters.” (PGP, Moses 5:1-12; Gen. Chapters 1 & 2.) Using this record, Adam and Eve taught their children literacy and shared testimonial instruction regarding their personal origin, nature and destiny.

And a Book of Remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration; and by them [these writings] their children were taught to read and write. Now this same Priesthood which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.” This was the prophesy “Adam spake as he was moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and a genealogy was kept of the children of God. And this was the book of the generations of Adam,saying: In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him. In the image of his own body, male and female, created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created and became living souls in the land upon the footstool of God.” (PGP Moses 6:5-9.)

According to the record of Adam, some of the children did not heed the teachings of their parents:

“And Satan came among them,saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: Believe it not; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish. And the Lord God called upon men by the Holy Ghost everywhere and commanded them that they should repent. And as many as believed in the Son, and repented of their sins, should be saved; and as many as believed not and repented not, should be damned; and the words went forth out of the mouth of God in a firm decree; wherefore they must be fulfilled. And Adam and Eve his wife, ceased not to call upon God.” (PGP Moses 5:13-16.) [As illustrated in the story of Cain and Abel] Cain “. . . rejected the greater counsel which was had from God; and this is a cursing . . . and Cain was wroth, and listened not any more to the voice of the Lord, neither to Abel, his brother, who walked in holiness before the Lord. And Adam and his wife mourned before the Lord because of Cain and his brethren.” (PGP Moses 5:25-27.)

Enoch's Account

Enoch, one of Adam's posterity, chose to follow the teachings and counsel of his righteous ancestors. His record describes the initial efforts he made to encourage the people of that time to follow the path that God had given to his children. The Plan to help them prevail over the challenges of mortality, and to optimize their opportunities for personal development—physically and spiritually. It is evident that many had rejected God's counsel and substituted their own preferences. These substitutes were born of their own choices that envelope the weaknesses of the flesh: Carnality—feeding physical appetites; Sensuality—limiting their assumptions to only that which could be assessed by the physical senses; Devilishness—which is, inevitably, erroneous in terms of eternal validity.

Enoch journeyed in the land, among the people; and as he journeyed the Spirit of God descended out of heaven, and abode upon him. And he heard a voice from heaven saying: Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus sayeth the Lord: I am angry with this people, . . . for their hearts have waxed hard, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off; And for these many generations [5th generation after Adam] ever since the day I created them, have they gone astray, and have denied me, and have sought their own counsels in the dark; and in their own abominations have they devised murder, and have not kept the commandments, which I gave unto their father, Adam. (PGP Moses 6:27-30)

As Enoch continued his assigned mission, he spoke to the people in straight forward and simple language saying:

The Lord which spake with me, the same is the God of heaven, and he is my God, and ye are my brethren, and why counsel ye yourselves, and deny the God of heaven. . . . death has come upon our fathers; nevertheless we know them, and cannot deny, and even the first of all we know, even Adam. For a book of remembrance we have written among us, according to the pattern given by the finger of God; and it is given in our language. . . And he said unto them: Because that Adam fell, we are, and by his fall came death; and we are made partakers of misery and woe. Behold Satan hath come among the children of men, and tempteth them to worship him; and men have become carnal, sensual, and devilish and are shut out from the presence of God. But God hath made known unto our fathers that all men must repent. And he called upon our father Adam by his own voice, saying: I am God; I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh. And he also said unto him: If thou will turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his [Jesus Christ's] name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you. (PGP Moses 6:43-52.)
Nephi's Account

Nephi, a righteous prophet of God in the Western Hemisphere, was given a vision of our dispensation. He gave us a description of the cultural consequences to be faced by (a) his family's descendents and also (b) the Gentile inhabitants who would live in the period just preceding the Savior's Second Coming:

Behold I prophesy unto you concerning the last days; . . . when the Lord shall bring these things [The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ] forth unto the children of men. After my seed and the seed of my brethren have dwindled in unbelief, and shall have been smitten by the Gentiles; . . . and the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, . . . that they have built up many churches [belief systems]; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind on the face of the poor. And there are many churches [belief systems] built up which cause envyings, and strifes, and malice. And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever. (BM 2 Nephi 26:14-33.)

Nephi continues with his descriptive report, by identifying specific elements of the counter-culture that defies God and his Plan which shall be established in these latter days:

For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches [belief systems] which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord's; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord's; and thus shall everyone say that hath built up churches [belief systems] and not unto the Lord. And they shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance. And they deny the power of God, the Holy One Israel; and they say unto unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work and he has given his power unto men; . . . Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us. And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God. . . . Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark. . . Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted. Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up. (BM 2 Nephi 28:3-12.)

Mormon's Description of Two Orders of 'Authority' that Emerged
Mormon, editor of Lehi's family history (600 B.C.-- 400 A.D.), refers often to cultural episodes spawned by significant conflicting consequences from secular versus spiritually oriented authority and education. A sequence of references to these social practices in one particular era identifies several critical differences. The context, content, process, and structure of learning and teaching differed and dramatically affected the outcomes. During the period from 180 B.C. to A.D. 34, Mormon describes the traditional Holy Order of the Son of God and the emergence of a substitute called the Order of Nehor—two conflicting orders of authority, one founded on revelation from God, the other based on secular humanism, which is derived solely from human precepts. (Alma 4:20; Alma 1:3-15, 2:1-3.) Nehor, the founder of the order associated with his name, for example, promoted himself by teaching false doctrines:
Nehor “testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, . . . for the Lord had created all men, … and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.. . . Every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but they ought to be supported by the people. . . . that they need not fear or tremble . . . [and he] began to wear very costly apparel, yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching [and killed a man named Gideon who challenged his teachings]. (Alma 1:1-15).

Over nearly a century of time, this new order established considerable influence and formed a great deal of power. There was a visible concentration of this institution in a city named Ammonihah—an intellectual center for the movement. Mormon records the account of one Alma who visited this city as both a former government official and as the senior Church leader of this society. It was Alma's stated intent to fulfill an assignment from an Angel who appeared to him saying:

I am sent to command thee that thou return to the city of Ammonihah and say unto them, . . . except they repent the Lord God will destroy them. For behold they do study at this time that they may destroy the liberty of the people, . . . which is contrary to the statutes, and judgments, and commandments which he [God] has given unto his people. (Alma 8:16-17)

It was in this city, controlled by agnostics, humanists and atheists, that a philosophy of government prevailed which led to the burning of not only religious records but also the people who believed in the content of those records. Referring to such behavior towards believers Mormon wrote:

And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed and had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire; and they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire. (Alms 14:8)

Mormon states the perpetrators of such murder was intellectuals of Ammonihah:

. . . lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers, who were of the profession of Nehor; . . . as to the people that were in the land of Ammonihah, they yet remained a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people; and they repented not of their sins, . . . for they were of the profession of Nehor, and did not believe in the repentance of their sins. (Alma 14:16-18.)

As for the nature of the curriculum pursued in the schooling of such people Mormon provides a simple contrasting description of an earlier establishment of secular schools in his culture. Whereas, the traditional revealed principles, Alma the father of the Alma previously referred to in the citations stated:

I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made freee, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you. And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments. . . . And it came to pass that none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him from God. Therefore, he consecrated all their priests and all their teachers; and none were consecrated except they were just men. (23:13-17)
In contrast

Amulon [a devious and wicked man] and his brethren [were granted authority by the King to establish a school system] in every land which was possessed by his people; and thus the language of Nephi [literacy] began to be taught among all the people of the Lamanites. And they were a people friendly one with another; nevertheless, [1] they knew not God; neither did the brethren of Amulon teach them anything concerning the Lord their God, [2] neither the law of Moses; [3]nor did they teach them the words of Abinadi; [who tesified of Christ at his martyrdom] But they taught them that they should keep their record, and that they might write one to another. (Alma 24:1-6)
Outcome of a Secular Curriculum: [viz. (a) Ignore God, (b) Ignore Christ and His Atonement, and (c) Ignore the Ten Commandments]

And thus the Lamanites began to increase in riches, and began to trade one with another and wax great, and began to be a cunning and a wise people, as to the wisdom of the world, yea, a very cunning people delighting in all manner of wickedness and plunder, except it were among their own brethren. . . . Amulon began to exercise authority . . . and whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death. (Alma 24:1-11)

Korihor's Arguments and Confession

A century before the appearance of the resurrected Jesus Christ to the inhabitants of the American Hemisphere, Korihor, an anti-Christ challenged the believers of his time with the substitute arguments he had similar to Nehorian doctrine. The representative government of the time operated on the premise of freedom of speech and so Korihor was free under the law of the land to make whatever claims he desired.

After this manner did he preach, saying: . . . unto the people that there should be no Christ . . . O ye that are bound down under a foolish and vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things: Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know anything which is to come. Behold, these things which ye call prophesies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers. How do ye know of their surety? Behold ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ. Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so. And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime. And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms—telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof. (Alma 30:12-18)

After enduring a pathetic life, the story of Korihor ends in an ignominious death soon after offering this confession:

I always knew that there was a God. But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me. (Alma 30:52-53)
Mormon's description and warning to those of the Latter Days
The Nephite Record shall come forth in a day of wickedness, degeneracy, and apostasy.” [Chapter 8 Heading,]
And no one need say they [the consequences of unbelief] shall not come, for they surely shall, for the Lord hath spoken it; for out of the earth shall they come, by the hand of the Lord, and none can stay it; and it shall come in a day when it shall be said that miracles are done away; and it shall come even as if one should speak from the dead. And it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness. Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches. Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands; and there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places. Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity. Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins. O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled. Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you. Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted. O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world? Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not? Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?” (“Mormon 8:26-40;see also Book of Joel chpts. 1-3.)
Moroni repeated another significant exhortation to those who would live in the latter-days [when he summarized the Jaredite record on the 24 plates found by Limhi and his people.]
[T]his land, . . . is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off . . . when they are ripened in iniquity. . . . Whatsoever nation shall possess it, shall be free from bondage and from captivity and from all other nations under heaven if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ . . .” ((Ether 1:1-2)Ether 2:9-12)
Paul, the Apostle, Describes the Destructive Aspects of Disbelief in Roman Society
I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth . . .For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.' . . . Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 16-32)
This same pattern is evident in the decline and fall of recorded cultures. Without morality there can be no spirituality. They each had a curriculum that excelled in basic literacy—with bright and clever students who enjoyed economic prosperity but who had few if any morals and delighted in all manner of wickedness. Sound familiar? How high could we stack the evidence? Such are the inevitable results when we delete any and all reference in our educational programs to: (1) acknowledgment of a Supreme Being, (2) any reference to a divinely endorsed moral code, and (3) any acknowledgment of Jesus Christ and his mortal mission. It is easy to envision this pattern in American public education and the social and political forces among a majority of her citizens.
Relativism and the ensuing discussion of human conceived ‘ethics’ just can’t cut it—“ethics” does not equal “morality.” Group-think ‘ethics’ simply creates criminals rather then citizens of character. Do we need more evidence than we already have from Wall Street, Corporate America, and Main Street Realtors to convince us—without saying anything of the “criminal elements” that now flourish in our nation? The point is: Educational programs that focus entirely or even primarily on physical and intellectual achievement only hasten the decline of a peaceful and productive society. The story in the Book of Mormon and the other standard works clearly link the negative influence of such counter-productive education to lawyers, judges, and various characters that espouse doctrines like:

SHEREM 5th Century b. c.
NEHOR (and the ORDER OF) 91 b. c.
ZEEZROM 82 b. c.
KORIHOR 74 b. c.
ZORAM 74 b. c.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson has explained:
Moral relativism . . . is the enemy of conscience. By moral relativism, I mean the belief that no moral claim can be verified as objectively true or false or better than any other. What results [from this context] is a chaos of truth claims, a quagmire in which no one has moral confidence to act. This may sound liberating to individuals, but a society can't run on it. Conscience requires faith in fixed moral concepts and values such as justice, mercy, love, honesty, generosity, self-restraint, and integrity that exist apart from personal preference.” (Deseret News June 18, 2017 B4)
Story B
The Modern Pattern of the Two Paths

Contemporary learning and teaching, at home or elsewhere, has emerged from the long history of divisive choices involving rejection and substitution. Each generation is exposed to inherited opportunities and traditions of previous generations—often referred to as “traditions of the fathers.” The volume of history and the nature of events that has produced false religion, secular humanism [Agnostics], and atheistic philosophies seems endless. Numerous tribes, institutions, and nations have produced counterfeit claims of thrones, kingdoms, principalities, powers, dominions and all manner of fraudulent and usually temporary authority. Apostasy, agnosticism, relativism, atheism, and seemingly endless similar forms of mingling fragments of truth with an abundance of error; all prone claims of power and influence usually driven by greed. It is a brief account of what is obvious and indicative of an ongoing story. It is also highly relevant to nearly everyone's life whether or not we are aware.

Libraries bulge with thousands of articles, hundreds of books, and the internet is an open door to seemingly endless forms of explanations to some aspects of efforts to explain: How did human life originate? What is is the nature of humanity? And, What is the destiny of the individual personality? These data banks are largely devoid of any consensus or unity on these matters for any given period of time. They document the rise and fall of nearly all cultures and civilizations that attempted to prevail. It didn't work for Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Greece, or Rome. Whatever promises might have been offered, sustainable results crumbled and decayed. There were dark ages, new offerings, struggles, forms of enlightenment, renaissances, and delusions. Human substitutions for divine standards, doctrines, ordinances, principles, and values, multiplied, waned and evaporated. Man-made ethics [precepts] could not replace divine moral directives in supporting sustainable human social order; personal freedom did not prevail over time. What seems self-evident is that 'Camelot' cannot exist without positive individual spirituality founded on divinely revealed moral standards.

Some devoted individuals have attempted to survey societies and civilizations and report these to the general public. Arnold J. Toynbee’s 12-volume A Study of History (1934–1961) and Will and Ariel Durant’s The Story of Civilization (11 volumes, 1935–1975) are two well-known examples. At mid-20th century, Edward D. Myers headed an effort based on Toynbee’s work to explain “how the various civilizations handed down from one generation to the next the accumulated experience, knowledge, and wisdom of the human race.” His book Education in the Perspective of History was published in 1960. It examines nineteen civilizations and offers commentary on the role of education in these societies that pertained to their (1) origins, (2) growth and development, (3) “times of trouble,” and (4) ultimate demise or disintegration. Reference to these and other sources simply acknowledge that the topic has been a subject of significant interest. Western culture has invested considerable effort in trying to understand itself. The search goes on but the results remain the same.

A Snapshot of There and Then to Our Here and Now

The almost immediate rejection of the gift of truth and light was soon manifest. As the gift faded away, False Religion, Secular Humanism [Agnosticism], and Atheism filled the vacuum. The powers of Apostasy, Dark Ages, Reformation, Renaissance's and an Enlightenment proceeded to play out their parts in preparation for a final Restoration of Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness for his children. Inspired individuals nurtured the establishment of a foundation for freedom that would tolerate believers in divine Providence and allow new truth and light to be manifest. The so-called American experiment offered a better way. Benjamin Franklin, one of those founders answered the central question at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787; Franklin was asked by a lady, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy.” Franklin replied,“A republic . . . if you can keep it.” Looking back and considering current events the guarded response was well stated.

A simple example, created by a Jr. High School civics teacher, illustrates one way this can be accomplished. A teacher could include the following exercise in his student assignments: Answer the following questions by using direct quotes from the Declaration of Independence. The founders of this great nation, in a promised land, had it right when they declared this government had an inspired origin.

Q. Where does the Declaration of Independence say mankind receives their rights?
A. “They are endowed by their Creator.”
Q. What rights do we receive from the Creator?
A. “Certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Q. Why do we have governments?
A. “To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.”
Q. Where do governments derive their just powers?
A. “From the consent of the governed.”
Q. From whence does mankind gain title to a “separate and equal station?”
A. “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.”
Q. When the people alter or abolish their government to whom should they appeal?
A. “The Supreme Judge of the World.”
Q. What should be made clear?
A. “Our intentions.”
Q. When should people rebel?
A. “Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it.”
Q. On whom should the people rely for protection when they change their form of government?
A. “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.”

The context now controlling modern public and higher education institutions do not support or encourage these kinds of assignments. Ignoring original documents and their contextual meanings is an example of historical revisionism—in school curriculum and the law. Ignore or change it is in fashion.

How things got to be like they are now in America, Europe, and elsewhere can be simply sketched. It is easy to understand a snapshot or two, of a movement that occurred in the United States between 1880 and 1920. It is easy to find discussions of this transition from a general, publicly embraced, world view that included a place for both believers and non-believers. After the turn of the century the non-believers view of the world changed—just like it had in the culture and city of Ammonihah two thousand years before. In the modern case, one can see the shift in more detail. Changes in basic assumptions, textbooks, and the intellectual centers of the nation were dramatic. As one observer has noted, our cathedrals of learning became citadels of secularism. References to a Heavenly Father and his Son were banned from public schools. President David O. McKay said this:

By making that [prayer] unconstitutional, the Supreme Court of the United States severs the connecting cord between the public schools of the United States and source of divine intelligence, the Creator himself, in whom we live and have our being.” (Relief Society Magazine vol. 49, no. 12, pp. 877-878. Dec. 1962)

This action by the Highest US National Court was in support of changes that had been underway for a century or more. The chart below illustrates how assumptions changed in academia between 1880 -1920. New answers to old questions replaced the old answers in our national culture, textbooks, laboratories, and classrooms. The new assumptions and answers had one thing in common. There was no reason to make any reference to divine intervention or information. God and the Spiritual dimension of humankind was irrelevant or non existent. The new premise was expressed in the form of a secular hypothesis: “The more you learn about the secular the less need there is for the spiritual.”
Selected Examples of Prominent Emerging Secular Influences

Acknowledges God's Role
Ignores or Denies God's Role
Francis Bacon (1620)
Novum Organum

A study of God's works do not replace God's words or revelation.

Paul Henrich Dietrich d'Holbach (1770)
Systeme de la Nature

The ignorant layman may believe in a personal God but not a scientist.
Isaac Newton (1686)
Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy

I wrote my treatise to support the belief in a Deity.

Pierre Simon Laplace (1829)
Celestial Mechanics

Concerning a belief in God, “I had no need of that hypothesis.”
James Hutton (1788)
Theory of the Earth

Observed order in Nature suggests a more perfect Author of nature than man finds in himself.

Sir Charles Lyell (1830)
Principles of Geology

God is not a necessary hypothesis in Geology
William Paley (1821)
Natural Theology

There must be a God because of the intricate design of nature.


Charles Darwin (1859)
The Origin of Species

The intricacy of nature can be fully explained without the intervention of God
George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1830)
Introduction to the Philosophy of History

History is the study of God carrying out his plan for man.

Karl Marx (1847)
The Communist Manifesto

The notion of God can be banished from the study of history; it is only a revelation of man.
Friedrich Froebel (1826)
The Education of Man

The life-work of man is to find unity with himself and God.
John Dewey (1916)
Democracy and Education

Man is endowed by nature to transform the ideal to the real; this is what I would call “God.”

Understanding the intricacies of the physical world was soon to dominate all aspects of legitimate, popular schooling. The only boundaries are the ones we are now pushing to expand or remove. All disciplines were affected, some would say infected, but there were compelling reasons to pay attention to new discoveries in material matters. Improvements in our physical lives was very compelling. However, what was being set aside and lost received less and less attention. This chart indicates the how wide the movement was and where it was headed.

New Answers to Old Questions
Neil J Flinders

Prominent Theorist
Basic Question
Previous Style Answer
New Style Answer


What makes a good law?
Whatever is in harmony with God’s commands.
Whatever makes most people the happiest. (Bentham)

Where did man come from?
Man was created by God.
Man evolved from lower life forms. (Darwin)
How should the fruits of labor be distributed?
Reward should be distributed according to responsibility.

Reward should be distributed according to need. (Marx)
What causes unusual physical illnesses?
Psychosomatic behavior is the result of good or evil spiritual influences.
Psychosomatic behavior is shaped by the conflict inherent in the sexual drive or chemical imbalances. (Freud)

What is education?
Education is the process of influencing growth and development.

Education is growth and development. (Dewey)
Why do people behave as they do?
Human behavior is the result of choices initiated by the spirit or soul within a person.
Human behavior is the result of reactions to stimulus exerted upon a person by the external environment or the genetic code. (Watson)

What is true in the Bible?
The content of the Bible is literal and true.
The content of the Bible that can be verified by science is factual; the rest is mythical. (Bultmann)

These changes in basic beliefs, as indicated above, frames our Here and Now

There Is a Brighter Future

But that topic is another chapter in an ongoing Saga

A good introduction could be the Prophet Joseph's statement:

Joseph Smith's Prophecy Regarding This Last Dispensation:
The servants of God will not have gone over the nations of the Gentiles, with a warning voice, until the destroying angel will commence to waste the inhabitants of the earth, and as the prophet [Isaiah] has said, ‘It shall be a vexation to hear the report.’”– (Isaiah 28:18-21) “I speak thus, because I feel for my fellow men; I do it in the name of the Lord, being moved upon by the Holy Spirit. . . .Oh, that I could snatch them from the vortex of misery, into which I behold them plunging themselves, by their sins; that I might be enabled by the warning voice, to be an instrument of bringing them to unfeigned repentance, that they might have faith to stand in the evil day.” (TPJS p. 87. [1835])
Joseph also Declared:

The ancient prophets declared that in the last days the God of Heaven should set up a kingdom which should never be destroyed . . . I calculate to be one of the instruments . . . I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world.” (TPJS pp. 365-366)

The Pattern will be constant:

The prophet Joseph Smith [1835] taught:
Elder M. Russell Ballard now teaches:
Hear It
Receive It
Gather Together
Sustain and Defend It
(TPJS pp. 86-89)
Know It
Embrace It
Participate in It
Defend It
Church News March 6, 2016. p. 5

The emphasis originating with the Restoration has not changed.

Elder Ballard recently emphasized the importance of teaching context:
More than at anytime in our history, . . . [we] need to be blessed by learning doctrinal or historical context by study and faith accompanied by pure testimony so [we] can experience a mature and lasting conversion to the gospel and a life-long commitment to Jesus Christ. . . . Church leaders today are fully conscious of the unlimited access to information and we are making extraordinary efforts to provide accurate context and understanding of the teachings of the Restoration.”(Church News March 6, 2016. pp 5, 11)

Pursuing the task of sharing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been the blessing of every dispensation. As the Prophet Joel declared: “Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.” (Joel 1:3) It is now, as it has been always, a matter of understanding, embracing and sharing the correct context and making sure the proper connections for eternal relationships. It is critical to recognize there was and is a powerful bond between the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Spirit and Keys of Elijah. These tandem missions drive the Lord's work in these latter-days. Joseph said: “We don't ask any people to throw away any good they have got; we only ask them to come and get more. What if all the world should embrace this gospel? They would then see eye to eye, and the blessings of God would be poured out upon the people, which is the desire of my whole soul.” (HC 5:259). It is no accident that the second section of the Doctrine and Covenants, following the first section [which was dictated by the Savior himself] is Jehovah's declaration that: [See the Quote Below the Chart]

Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. (D&C 2:1-3)