This website allows for visitors to provide feedback through a simple form. Sometimes, that feedback seems to want a response, even though the form does not collect contact information. It is a shame to let them sit in oblivion. Here I'll archive responses to feedback/questions that didn't "make the cut".
The questions are copied as-is (other than organizing the text).
• can science drive morality ?
• Who commands an atheist to evangelize? And why?
• What is the origin of mortality?
• Are theists more moral than atheists?
• Is the Universe and/or earth fine-tuned for human life?
• ... wouldn't the next step in evolution be pure faith in God?
• I am not a atheist. But what if you atheists are wrong? ...
• ... why do atheists try to convert people when they can't prove there is no God?
• How do I convince my parents to become atheists?
• Should religion be banned?
• Can you prove an external reality?
• How could matter appear without a creator
• Am I weak if I want to believe?
• Where do your morals come from?
• Is atheist the same as antitheist (anti-theist)?
• ... Please explain how men as far back as even 3,000 years were writing about world that they didn't even knew existed ...
• why are cristians so stupid?
• Is science is catching up with the Qur'an?
• Are ultimate questions necessary
• Do Atheists believe Jesus existed and was he a good or bad man?
• Who decided that surviving is valuable? ...
• What is the meaning and purpose of our existence, of life? Why am I here?
• Your "Worship God to Avoid Going to Hell" FAQ is a bit off
• Atheists say that atheism is not a religion ...
• Why don't monkeys still turn into people and why don't people evolve
• How do you explain miracles?
• Religions like to say that the Bible has to be divine
can science drive morality ? (2015-01-05)
I think science can tell us why we are moral creatures, and it may help us have better tools towards being moral... but I wouldn't say it drives morality. Science can't tell us what's moral or not.
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Who commands an atheist to evangelize? And why? (2015-03-05)
I'm fine with the phrase "evangelical atheist". It is an improvement over the intended equivalent of "militant atheist", as apparently voicing an opinion makes us "militant" - and this rule applies to no other group in existence.
If an atheist evangelizes the atheist position (whatever that may be for that person), it is usually him/her self, or another human (like a dictator).
Setting aside the topic of religious/nonreligious dictatorships, on an individual level, an atheist may evangelize because he/she cares about people, and to make the world a better place... and it is not typically about atheism, but skepticism and scientific investigation.
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What is the origin of mortality? (2015-04-28)
Please see the article "Where does morality come from, if not God?"
This is a difficult topic because different people have different expectations. We're more interested in describing something that can be shown to be true in reality. Many religious people, on the other hand, approach the topic demanding an "objective" (that they mean by transcendent/absolute) morality that can only be validated by an authority.
Atheists don't grant those requirements. When we are talking about morality, we are talking about behaviors that mitigate harm, and maximize humanity getting along. If that is not what you're talking about, then we are essentially discussing two entirely different topics.
I've been asked how I know my definition of morality is correct. I find the question to be nonsensical. Suppose I stub my toe and say I'm in pain. If the other person asks, "But how do you have the right definition of pain?", I'm more likely to glare at the person. Does it matter? The pain was an actual real thing, and I've used a label for it. Does it matter if it does not meet some cosmic "correct" definition? At least pain can be shown to be real, unlike the absolute "objective" morality the religious describe... let alone show it to be relevant.
If your only reason for why I should care about the "moral" rules you describe, is because I'll be punished if I don't, then that is not morality. That is obedience... to a dictator.
That is why we seem to be constantly talking past each other. The article above goes into more depth as to what atheists tend to identify as morality.
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Are theists more moral than atheists? (2015-04-28)
In general, atheists tend to think that humans themselves are moral, with exceptions. Unless a person is a sociopath, we feel empathy and compassion (which can be shown in many animal species as well, including altruism).
Atheists can be immoral through totalitarian regimes - as can the religious, but there's nothing intrinsically totalitarian about atheism's "I don't believe" stance (unlike Christian doctrine's God).
Religion can plagiarize and encapsulate some common human decency, which is then indoctrinated into children... but also can indoctrinate children into bad behaviors, like hating the "others", or punishing people who don't follow their specific rules.
Theism by itself does not intrinsically affect any of that. it is more a question of the culture the person is raised in, and what the person's specific beliefs are.
Is the Universe and/or earth fine-tuned for human life? (2015-04-28)
If it was, only barely so. Humans can barely survive in their own backyards without significant human technology and know-how. Does that sound fine-tuned?
On the other hand, with the numerous exoplanets we've discovered so far, it is clear that the universe has many planets. It is a statistical eventuality that one of those planets would have the conditions for life, and we could be that lottery winner.
After that, it is a question of life on that planet evolving to survive, despite the planet.
In a sense, "fine-tuning" of the planet/universe seems to be contradictory to demonstrating a god. Why would that god need to fine-tune the universe in the first place? Shouldn't we just be able to exist just fine without volcanoes, black holes, diseases, wood stones and "correct" gravitational constants?
This is only tangentially related to the topic of atheism, which is why it didn't make the cut to the main page.
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Evolution makes a species better suited for its environment. Since evolutionist believe we came from animals, and no animals have faith in God, that means we evolved the ability to believe in God. Since evolution never reverses, wouldn't the next step in evolution be pure faith in God? (2015-05-24)
This is another oddly intertwined evolution/atheism question.
We can't really gauge that animals don't believe in any gods. Even among humans, we can't seem to get a clear definition of what people mean by "God".
I don't think it is correct to say we "evolved the ability to believe in God". What we've done is created an invisible Super Man... which itself has changed over thousands of years. The actual human gods (like Pharaohs) could be killed off, so the invisible non-manifesting god concepts were left unscathed.
Instead, what we are talking about is superstition and anthropomorphism. I'm unaware of any studies about animal equivalents to anthropomorphism, but superstition is well studied in animals.
A common misconception of evolution is that all the output is somehow purposeful. In fact, evolution has a lot of incidental "side effects". Evolution didn't select in factor of superstition. Instead, evolution selected a brain structure that excels at pattern recognition. It can simultaneously pull in data from sight, smell, hearing, etc, and extrapolate a model of the world, and understand patterns like spoken words, visual images, etc.
A side effect of that is that we commonly falsely detect patterns. When is the last time you recognized a face that was not a face, such as in an ink-blot test, some pile of rubble, or in a cloud?
Superstition is essentially false pattern recognition ("I got a job while wearing this shirt, so it is a lucky shirt","Every time there's a full moon, more car accidents happen.", etc).
We didn't evolve to believe in a god. Theism is a socialized form of superstition, which is a side effect of our brains, which evolved. While we may have some cases where false beliefs help us survive to reproduction (needed for evolution), for the most part, going through life with many false beliefs is detrimental ("That car won't hurt me if I walk out in front of it!").
So no, theism, like superstition in general, will be nothing more than an unfortunate byproduct of an evolved brain.
In regards to "evolution never reverses", that is also (kind of) a misconception. It does not reverse in a temporal (time travel) sense, but it is possible for a lineage to evolve to be water-proficient, to land-proficient, back to water-proficient. Whales are a modern example.
Evolution is commonly misunderstood to mean that life is becoming more "advanced", when in reality, bacteria have probably evolved much more than humans, if for no other reason than they have high generational rate.
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I am not a atheist. But what if you atheists are wrong? What if when you physically die, the next second you are spiritually standing in the presence of God whom you have denied and failed to obey? Is it worth the risk? (2015-05-25)
Please see the article, What if you are wrong?.
You have attempted to build a risk-assessment plot, essentially. That is fine. We are practical people, however. In order to determine risk assessments, we need real data. I'm not going to factor in immoral invisible people deciding to torture my undemonstrated soul because I was not convinced of a claim.
Maybe there's an invisible dinosaur waiting outside my house to eat me as soon as I emerge. What if I'm wrong, right? Maybe I should always crawl through a back window, just in case. I can't live my life like that. The threat needs to be demonstrated before it can be taken seriously.
If you have a half-hour to burn, I encourage you to listen to Matt Dillahunty's disassembly of Pascal's Wager (this topic).
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If the burden of proof is always on the one making the claim, why do atheists try to convert people when they can't prove there is no God? (2015-06-27)
We prefer to call it "deconverting", actually. The point is to unshackle people from the grips of religion and theistic thinking to improve the world.
A minority of atheist try to specifically prove there's no god. The rest of us hold the position that the god claim is unsubstantiated. We don't have a burden of proof with that, otherwise, I agree. Proving there's no god is a burden that hasn't been met.
You seem to have a misconception about what position most atheists actually hold. Please read the article, Don't atheists believe there is no god?
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How do I convince my parents to become atheists? (2015-06-30)
You probably can't. Why do you need to? If it is causing you problems, maybe you just need to come to an agreement with your parents, such as avoiding the topic during family get-togethers.
It is not like there's a hell you're trying to save their non-existent souls from, if you don't deconvert them in time. If they are doing things like supporting harmful political policy, address them on that level.
Unfortunately, most humans in general become more entrenched in their beliefs when challenged, so they at least must be receptive in the first place. You can't just spit facts at them, and expect them to change their minds.
It often depends on what a person cares about. Some people stay religious, or stay in church, because they care about the community. Some stay religious due to fear of death. We all (including atheists) tend to filter "facts', and gauge their relevancy, based on our existing world view. Skepticism and critical thinking are attempts to override that tendency.
Most people care about morality, but don't understand how non-religious morality works, so that is their hangup.
So in short... it is complicated. One of the failures of the atheist movement has been to underestimate or undervalue the human element to this conversation.
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Should religion be banned? (2015-06-30)
I don't think so. It'd be like trying to get rid of the Flu by banning coughing (or banning burkas to combat Islamic extremism, for that matter). It is better to address the reasons why people become religious, instead.
Some become religious through childhood indoctrination and isolation from competing ideas. Some through fear and hopelessness. Those are things we can help with, which more importantly, helps the people.
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Can you prove an external reality? (2015-06-30)
I cannot. Is that important? I ask that seriously. This is essentially the problem of Hard Solipsism - how I can know that I'm not just a mind in a vat?
Being science-minded, I don't care about "proving" anything. Science does not operate on absolutes. When science does talk about proving something, it is usually meant as "demonstration beyond a reasonable doubt". That is fine. I'm fine with having sufficient evidence to reasonably hold something as true.
If there is not an external reality, does that mean that I invented the complete works of Mozart and Bach, van Gogh and Rembrandt? That is not reasonable. It is more likely there's external entities who did these things. I'm not that good at music and painting.
The reality that I seem to perceive operates in consistent, testable ways, very frequently with data/knowledge that I didn't have, or contradicts what I thought. It is more reasonable that there's an external reality.
When that answer does not satisfy, they try to shift the question in terms of justified mechanisms for how we can know. Well, either we are actual real beings, whose senses and brains do a reasonable job understanding the reality around us, or we have a god downloading 100% correct data into our brains (as another option). They've yet to show that it is the latter, instead of the former, and instead distract with philosophical questions about "internal consistency", which wouldn't demonstrate that something is true in itself. That is "Presuppositionalism", if you aren't familiar... but I digress.
We don't have to go to absolute extremes when discussing these things. It is kind of ironic that the same people who cannot provide any evidence for their god claims, suddenly want absolute 100% proof of something, before accepting that it is true.
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How could matter appear without a creator (2015-10-11)
I have no idea. Please read the article, If there is no god, how do you explain _______?.
This mentality baffles me. There's something about reality that we don't know... and you're just going to automatically cram something like "unicorns" as an automatic answer? Why would you do that?
If there's something we don't know, then we... don't know. The actual reality of it may blow both our minds, when/if we figure it out.
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Am I weak if I want to believe? (2015-11-02)
I don't think so. There's nothing wrong with wanting to believe that life goes on after death, for instance. That is just human.
If you want to believe for other reasons like wanting to fit in with a community, those issues can be addressed by joining a secular community.
Maybe the desire the believe indicates some other problem.
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Where do your morals come from? (2015-11-19)
Please read the article, Where does morality come from, if not God?.
In short, they come from us. That does not mean it is a free-for-all, as the baseline is established by evolution. Here's the short version.
• Evolution gave us the capacity to suffer (helps keep animals from standing in fire, and surviving, for instance).
• Evolution caused us to care about not suffering.
• Evolution caused our lineage to be an empathic social species.
Now, the above itself is not morality. It is just why we care. While we do well living as a group, living as a group has its detriments (resource conflicts, playing music at 2 a.m., etc). We can cause suffering on each other by living together.
"Morality" is the label we place on our own philosophical efforts/tools to figure out how to live together. Morality is meaningless outside of a social context. It is mostly trial-and-error, which is why history shows a general improvement on morality as the years roll by.
While the context of what's harmful can vary from society to society (such as the availability of resources like water), the baseline is the same for all humans - mitigating suffering.
If that is not what you're talking about with morality, then I don't know (or even care about) what you're talking about.
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Is atheist the same as antitheist (anti-theist)? (2015-11-20)
It is if that is how we've defined them. Most of the time, that is not what people mean. "Atheist" means (at least within the atheistic circles) that one does not believe in a god, whereas "anti-theist" is about being opposed to theism/religion. You can be both.
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I have read your article. Please explain ... (2015-11-21)
"... how men as far back as even 3,000 years were writing about world that they didn't even knew existed. Some who never even met? They still wrote books that linked quite precisely with each other. Look into the history and time line of the writing and discovery of the dead sea scrolls..??
It is not unusual to be sent grandiose claims that aren't backed up - this is one of them. I don't understand the significance of the dead sea scrolls. They have some snippets of the old (Hebrew) and new testaments... and?
"Please explain how men as far back as even 3,000 years were writing about world that they didn't even knew existed. Some who never even met?" - such as? Keep in mind that the New Testament can be largely fan-fiction, where the authors read the old testament, then tailor the fictional writings to match... all wrapped around some mundane current (or hundred-year old) events.
At what point does that require a god?
But again, without any specifics, there's not much to actually address here.
While not exactly asked for, the article, Why don't atheists find Biblical prophecy convincing? covers why this approach is not epistemically sound.
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why are cristians so stupid? (2015-11-28)
Ironically, one of the problems with being intelligent is the ability to do a good job defending bad ideas, or beliefs one comes to for bad reasons. Being intelligent does not mean being correct - Sir Isaac Newton, for instance, was very Christian. He also bought into alchemy.
They could actually be rationally believing, if they are operating on an isolated and controlled body of information that is filtered just for their religious beliefs. That is one of the reasons why the Internet is helping burst those bubbles.
Maybe emotions like fear are changing how a person weighs different information. Maybe the person just hasn't thought about it before.
It does not help leap into these conversations assuming the worst about people.
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Is science is catching up with the Qur'an?
That is what I call a loaded question.
I've looked into Qu'ranic claims about science, and was not impressed. It'd better to say that the Qu'ran/Koran, if re-interpreted, can sound like something in science, but for the most part, science has long since advanced beyond the book.
There's quite a bit that reasonable educated guesses could have been in the ballpark... all coming from an Islamic world that was not, at the time, dominated by religious fundamentalism. Our modern number system, Algebra, etc, come from that world.
It wouldn't be surprising that they managed to get some science kind of right... for the time.
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Are ultimate questions necessary (2016-01-29)
(Yes, that is the complete question.)
I don't think so. I actually tend to think it is a bad way to approach living.
I don't angrily cast aside an ice cream cone because there's no ultimate purpose to it. I eat the ice cream, because it brightens my day.
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Do Atheists believe Jesus existed and was he a good or bad man? (2016-01-31 )
Mostly we divide up into three camps - the "Mythisists" (that he was a fabircation) and those who believe in a historical Jesus. The rest shrug their shoulders.
For those who believe in a historical Jesus, they don't accept that he was the son of God, or did any miracles... just that he was just a regular charismatic guy, essentially.
The view is not so much that Jesus was a bad man (maybe aside from randomly executing a fig tree that was not bearing fruit out of season). The problem with Jesus's teachings was that they are often poor advice - favoring faith over reason and skepticism, telling people to give all their assets to the poor and not worry about long term sustainability, etc.
He had good advice, and bad advice.
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Who decided that surviving is valuable? What is the point of living if anyone whose life I change or make a difference in is just going to die away anyway? What's the point of life without God? (2016-03-09)
No one decided surviving is valuable. Who decided that sticking your hand into hot coals is undesirable? No one. That is built into you by evolution.
Species that did not instinctually value survival went extinct. Unless you have psychological issues (or literally don't have a brain, like plants), you can't help but value survival.
The point in helping someone else is that person suffers less. Do you not feel compassion? Does there need to be more of a reason?
It'd be like having muscle pain, and deciding not to take pain relievers because you'll be dead in 50 years anyway.
The purpose of life without God is whatever you want it to be. Which is more gratifying - setting your own course, or having your life dictated to you by parent figures?
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What is the meaning and purpose of our existence, of life? Why am I here? (2016-06-07)
Similar to above, does there need to be a purpose to your existence handed to you?
I might give some glib explanation as to your family history, and the reproductive habits of your parents, but I'm going to assume the "Why am I here?" is a continuation of a philosophical question.
Atheists don't think there's any reason why we are here, beyond what we assign to ourselves. We don't believe we need a reason. That is a requirement you have. It is more a question of what attitude a person takes. If you watch every movie with the attitude that it should utterly complete your life, then you're going to be sorely disappointed forever. No one made you have that requirement... nor does reality owe it to you.
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Your "Worship God to Avoid Going to Hell" FAQ is a bit off (2016-06-20)
"... and I assume it is not your fault, just that you don't understand religion. In actuality, the question should be "Would you live a moral lifestyle in accordance with the Bible to avoid going to hell?". Worshipping God while living life as a horrible sinner is not going to get you to heaven. Also, the problem with your dictator example is that it uses another human as the centerpiece of the question, which just changes the question fundamentally. Something close for an example would be "If it turns out that in reality a scientist created this universe and not God, and he gave you a set of rules to live your life by or be cast out of the universe he created, would you follow the rules?"
I'll readily admit there's a lot about religious mentality that baffles me.
When you say, "The question should be...", keep in mind that the questions are those that are actually asked of us, not the questions you think are ideal. I don't believe your question is correct, because it is too loaded. It may not event be possible to "live a moral livestyle in accordance with the Bible"... maybe only after most of the Bible is rationalized away and discarded.
In addition, you're dismissing that there are theists who actually think that worship is all that is needed. Even more think that while doing good is important, not believing trumps good works, and you're still going to hell. We run into people who hold these views all the time. Maybe you just don't understand your fellow religious people?
The purpose of the article was not to address the debate between salvation through works and salvation through faith - it was addressing that one point - whether a person would worship to avoid hellfire.
So your objection is not actually relevant.
In regards to the human/god distinction, that would be one of those baffling points I was mentioning. I've heard the argument that there's rules differences between children and parents (for instance, when is bedtime?), that is meant to benefit the children, even if they don't understand it.
Granted, however, that does not mean that any asserted similar instances are automatically true. How would the child with bad parents tell the difference between his/her parents, and the child with good parents? When it comes things like moral rules, it ultimately comes down to reality-based issues, like suffering.
If it cannot be substantiated why the difference between deity and human matters, then I am entirely reasonable to reject the claim as gibberish. The difference in rules between parent and child can be explained, and in other cases, invalidated, based on real reasons.
... not just merely accepted because "well, they are the parents."
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Atheists say that atheism is not a religion while i see the elements to consider a religion are exist in atheism? (2016-06-22)
I'm fine with the idea that atheistic religions can exist (some argue that some branches of Buddhism are just that).
You may even be able to find some social groups that can be dogmatic about some topics... but that is more a "religious element" of the social circle than anything else.
There's nothing intrinsic about atheism itself that is religious. What is religious about "I don't believe you"?
Some people stretch and distort definitions to the point where having any stance on religion makes a religion. That means saying "I'm not religious" now makes a person religious. That is nonsense.
The article, Is atheism a religion? basically says the same thing.
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Why don't monkeys still turn into people and why don't people evolve (2016-07-08)
This is not related to atheism. I'll indulge anyway.
What is a "monkey"? It is like asking "Why don't mammals turn into people?" Is there a particular species you're thinking about? Humans are apes, as officially part of the Great Ape family - so they have.
Also keep in mind that between the Chimpanzee/Homo sapiens sapiens common ancestor, were a number of branched humanoids who we didn't "evolve from". They either died off, merged into our lineage, or we killed them off. So those were other species that didn't "become people" prematurely.
What is a "person"? I happen to think many species are people, even if they aren't recognized, or cannot assert and express it.
If you're asking why modern ape/monkey species don't evolve into humans (I'm guessing that is what was meant)... because that is not how evolution works. It is like asking why your cousin is not turning into your brother.... why would the cousin do that?
It is a branching tree, not a merging tree. There's no "advancement", or any goals. Chimpanzees exist because their lineage hasn't gone extinct yet. Their evolution is going to depending on their survival versus their environment. Who knows where that'll take them? Their survival to reproduction does not depend on the ability to speak, so natural selection does not really apply.
Humanity is evolving, though maybe not through natural selection anymore (modern medicine eliminates the survival-to-reproduction part of the evolutionary engine). We may still be subject to group selection, sexual selection, artificial selection, etc.
... But don't expect any major changes any time soon. It is only been about 6-8 million years since we split off from our Chimp cousins' lineage.
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How do you explain miracles? (2016-07-18)
Are there miracles? Every time we look into one, it is either disproven, or there's not enough information to validate that any miracle happened.
A miracle is not anytime there's something we can't explain. To demonstrate a miracle, one has to specifically demonstrate divine intervention.
... which requires that the god be demonstrated first, before it can be asserted to be a cause for an event.
As far as we are concerned, there's no miracles to explain.
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Religions like to say that the Bible has to be divine (2016-08-02)
"... because it has survived thousands of years, while others perish and are forgotten completely. True, many different forms of Christianity have different translations, but they all have the same general premise. As an atheist, how do I respond to that?
To me, the core problem is the epistemology. How does a religious text being old mean it is true? Christianity is rife with mechanisms to explain away any disagreements or contrary data.
We have a term for this - it is "unfalsifiable".
Beliefs that don't kill you, but aren't demonstrable, have a tendency to linger. That is not surprising.
Doesn't that also mean that Hinduism is true? That is the longest-lasting religion. If you point this out, however, you'll probably be met with ad-hoc reasons that disqualify it (I had one Christian tell me that you can distinguish between true and false religions because the false ones don't have a resurrection story. I didn't get an explanation as to why that mattered.)
Research the history of Biblical Canonization. There was a lot of politics involved. Some forgeries are added, some books didn't even make the cut. It is not like there was one contiguous "Bible". It was constructed by people. It is survived this long because the political powerhouses have kept it updated and adapted. Even modern translations continue to do this. Mormonism simply inherited the full Christian heritage and added its own text.
That does not tell you anything about whether it is true.