Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Blind Faith and the Book of Abraham: Who's Blind?

Many critics put a lot of faith in the anti-Mormon spin on the Book of Abraham. But it's blind faith, or at least "squinting" faith, that can't withstand much observation. Look at The Book of Abraham Project, a rich source of well documented information on the Book of Abraham. To deal with the common objections raised by critics, look at their page on Criticisms of Joseph Smith and the Book of Abraham, which refutes most of the attacks made on the Book of Abraham.

I also have my own pages on the topic: "Ancient Evidences for the Book of Abraham: Other Records Confirm its Story," which challenges the critics to explain how so much of the material in the Book of Abraham is confirmed by ancient documents that Joseph could not have known about. As for the specific attacks of the critics, see my page, The Truth About the Book of Abraham, Part 1 and The Book of Abraham, Part 2 - Evidence that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.

The Book of Abraham is one area where I really feel that Mormons can turn the tables on our critics and start asking some tough questions of our own.

Test:

4 comments:

Daniel Carlson said...

About your "tough questions" for critics. I do have something that should cause consideration. You claim that the discoveries of Naham, Bountiful and the River Laman/Valley of Lemuel provide compelling evidence for authenticity. Please visit www.mormonstudies.com. They have an essay "Recent defences of the Book of Mormon." It shows that these placenames were indeed known in the 19th century, despite the ignorance of many modern anti-Mormons.

(For the record: I agree that the ancient documents are compelling evidence for the BOA. Brent Metcalfe has recently claimed they support his theories of the text, but fails to substantiate the claim- probably because, like many critics, he knows many uncomfortable answers await with further research).

Mormanity said...

I believe you are referring to the "defense2.htm" page at the mormonstudies site. I don't think you accurately represented what they say. They DO NOT demonstrate that the name of the ancient burial place, Nahom/Nehem, could have been known to Joseph Smith. The essay does show that some people had spoken of a "Felix Arabia" in Yemen, in the southwestern end of the Arabian Peninsula. (No hint that Joseph had access to such information, of course.) But Nephi's journey turns away before getting close to that allegedly green region and heads due east into Oman. Nothing available to scholars in Joseph's day could have equipped him to describe the journey and describe the place Bountiful with so many plausible details. And of course, nothing available even to most scholars in this century could have allowed them to fabricate the accurate description of the River of Laman and the Valley of Lemuel. And what about the place Shazer?

The essay's dismissal of the "mourning" aspect of the placename Nahom is silly. Of course the place already had that name - but (a) it was an ancient burial place, for which "mourning" would be a great name, and (b) Hebrew writers of biblical times were always adding double meaning or making puns, so emphasizing mourning in the context of the place name Nahom would be a logical thing to do. But the real issue: can anyone dispute that there was in fact an ancient burial place of that name in the region described by the Book of Mormon? Can anyone deny that ancient altars have been found showing that a tribe of a related name (Nihm) was there in Lehi's day? Can anyone dispute that a place like Bountiful is in fact nearly due east of Nahom, or that a plausible candidate for Shazer exists, and ditto for the River Laman? Are we really supposed to believe that this was all coincidence?

Here's one more question: if Joseph had access to materials that spoke of "Felix Arabia" in Yemen, why would he have Lehi's group turn due east before they reached it, and take a gamble that something similar might be found on the east coast? How on earth could he come up with the idea of a place like Bountiful, an idea that anti-Mormons would mock well into the twentieth century and even (some) into the twenty-first, only to have a plausible candidate actually be found? Ditto for the Valley of Lemuel, etc. Doesn't this pique your curiosity just a little? Might it not be a good idea to give the Book of Mormon a chance? Please, it deserves a chance, in spite of all the assaults, for it really is authentic ancient scripture made available in our day by the power of God. Faith is needed, of course, even to read it with an open mind, but then comes the miracle of the witness of the Spirit. Yes, it is real, true, authentic, and genuinely divine. And I am grateful that the Lord has let enough concrete evidence "out of the bag" to at least soften some hearts so that they can give it a fair chance and read.

Daniel Carlson said...

Thanks Jeff for your input. I must state for the record, I am a Latter-day Saint. I just was curious about certain aspects of the Arabian Peninsula evidence (yes, and also the name "Alma" as we discovered in that e-mail correspondence we shared).

One thing about the Book of Abraham. The name "Egyptus" is present in the text. This, in Greek means "Memphis." How come the Book of Abraham claims it means "forbidden" in Egyptian?

I know a fellow LDS neighbour of mine who is hoping to establsih a pro-LDS website. He plans on doing rebuttals to the more "popluar" yet deceitful anti-LDS tracts on the internet (i.e. "Book of Mormon Questions" at lds-mormon.com and "Investigating Mormonism" by Richard Packham) alongside answering other questions. As a prominent apologist, any advice?

Oh, and finally, Wade Englund has established a brilliant new resource on the Kinderhook Plates. I suggest you should link it on your BofM problems page. Its been a popular discussion among LDS critics on groups I participate in.

Mormanity said...

Thanks for the comments and the good questions! The Wade Englund resource is excellent: it's at http://www.aros.net/~wenglund/kinderhook.htm. I will link to it elsewhere.