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

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ancient Mesoamerican Baptism?

A famous early account of life in Mesoamerica just after the Spanish Conquest is the 1566 record of Friar Diego de Landa about his observations in the Yucatan. At a used book sale, I recently acquired an English translation of his work, Yucatan Before and After the Conquest, translated by William Gates (New York: Dover Books, 1978), originally published as Relación de las cosas de Yucatan, 1566, first published in English in 1937 as Publication No. 20 of the Maya Society, Baltimore. No English translation was available for Joseph Smith to study, even if he had been a bookwork with a vast frontier library. Much of what we know about Mayan culture - which is still precious little - derives from the writings of this friar, who, I'm sorry to report, persecuted the inhabitants of the Yucatan and burned many of their records that could have told us much more. But from his descriptions, we do see a number of things that might make some sense as possible remnants from contact with ancient Book of Mormon peoples. One of the most striking things is the existence of Mayan rites with close connections to the Book of Mormon concept of baptism. Here is an excerpt from pages 42 to 45 of the English translation:
Sec. XXVI. Method of baptism in Yucatan; How it was celebrated


Baptism is not found anywhere in the Indies save here in Yucatan, and even with a word meaning to be born anew or a second time, the same as the Latin word renascer. Thus, in the language of Yucatan sihil means 'to be born anew," or a second time, but only however in composition; thus caput-sihil means to be reborn. Its origin we have been unable to learn, but it is something they have always used and for which they have had such devotion that no one fails to receive it; they had such reverence for it that those guilty of sins, or who knew they were about to sin, were obliged to confess to the priest, in order to receive it; and they had such faith in it that in no manner did they ever take ft a second time. They believed that in receiving it they acquired a predisposition to good conduct and habits, protection against being harmed by the devils in their earthly affairs, and that through it and living a good life they would attain a beatitude hereafter which, like that of Mahomet, consisted in eating and drinking.

Their custom of preparing for baptism was as follows: the Indian women raised the children to the age of three, placing for the boys a small white plaquet, fastened to the head in the hair of the tonsure; the girls wore a thin cord tied very low about the waist, to which was attached a small shell over the private parts; to remove these two things was regarded among them as a sin and disgraceful, until the time of the baptism, which was given between the ages of three and twelve; until this ceremony was received they did not marry.

Whenever one desired to have his child baptised, he went to the priest and made his wish known to him, who then published this in the town, with the day chosen, which they took care should be of good omen. This being done, the solicitant, being thus charged with giving the fiesta, selected at his discretion some leading man of the town to assist him in the matter. Afterwards they chose four other old and honored men to assist the priest on the day of the ceremony, these being chosen with the priest's cooperation. In these elections the fathers of all the eligible children took part, for the fiesta was a concern of all; those so chosen were called Chacs. For the three days before the ceremony the parents of the children, as well as the officials, fasted and abstained from their wives.

On the day, all assembled at the house of the one giving the fiesta, and brought all the children who were to be baptized, and placed them In the patio or court of the house, all clean and scattered with fresh leaves; the boys together in a line, and the girls the same, with an aged woman as matron for the girls, and a man in charge of the boys. . . .

[Landa then describes how the priest purifies the house and casts out demons, and refers to the priest carrying a hyssop made of a short stick and the tales of serpents like rattlesnakes (the aspersarium).]

The chacs then went to the children and placed on the heads of all white cloths which the mothers had brought for this purpose. They then asked of the largest ones whether they had done any bad thing, or obscene conduct, and if any had done so, they confessed them and separated from the others.

When this was done the priest called on all to be silent and seated, and began to bless the children, with long prayers, and to sanctify them with the hyssop, all with great serenity. After this benediction he seated himself, and the one elected by the parents as director of the fiesta took a bone given him by the priest, went to the children and menaced each one with the bone on the forehead, nine times. After this he wet the bond in a jar of water he carried, and with it anointed them on the forehead, the face, and between the fingers of their hands and the bones of their feet, without saying a word. The liquor was confected out of certain flowers and ground cacao, dissolved in virgin water, as they call it, taken from the hollows of trees or of rocks in the forest. . . .

The fiesta then ended with long eating and drinking; and the fiesta was called em-ku, which means 'the descent of the god.'
Fascinating! A major Mayan ritual was associated with being born again, purification, cleansing from sin, confession of sins to a priest, changing one's nature to be a better person, and gaining salvation in the afterlife - all very LDS and Christian concepts (at least early Christianity - some of these concepts have been lost in some parts of modern Christianity). It was readily recognizable as a Native American form of baptism by a Catholic friar in the sixteenth century. The ritual, like Christian baptism, was performed by a priest, to whom candidates for baptism confessed their sins, if serious sins were present - again similar to the restored Christian practice in LDS religion. White cloth was associated with the ritual, as in the LDS practice (though for LDS baptism, the candidates dress completely in white.) Though sprinkling was done rather than immersion, Christian baptism went a similar route in the centuries after the loss of apostles, and the Book of Mormon records that baptism was becoming corrupted in the fourth century among the Nephites, when infants were being baptized (presumably by sprinkling). Unlike the Aztecs, though, the Yucatan form of baptism is for children in the range of 3 to 12 years. And, as in Christian baptism, the ceremony is associated with "the descent of the god" - akin to the description of baptism in Romans 6, where Paul explains that it is a symbol of the death and resurrection of Christ.

Could the three days of fasting of the adults before the baptism ritual be associated with the symbolism of Christ being in the grave for three days? Perhaps. Later in Landa's book (p. 50), there is a reference to the troubling practice of human sacrifice: "At times they threw the victims alive into the well at Chichen Itza, believing that they would come forth on the third day, even though they never did see them reappear." The three-day concept could be tied to ancient lost knowledge of the death and resurrection of Christ.

And after baptism, the baptized people were anointed with sacred water, being anointed on the head and elsewhere, a practice which could very well have derived from knowledge of anointings in the ancient temple.

Related to de Landa's account of baptism in Mesoamerica is the later account of Mexican-born Spaniard, Mariano Veytia (1720-1778; full name: Mariano Fernandez de Echevarria y Veytia), who recorded what he learned from native Mexicans about their ancient history. His writings, which were not even printed in Joseph Smith's day and only recently have been translated to English, are available in the book Ancient America Rediscovered, translated by Ronda Cunningham, compiled by Donald W. Hemingway and W. David Hemingway (Springville, Utah: Bonneville Books, 2000). The following excerpt from Veytia is taken from pages 167-169 of Ancient America Rediscovered:

Other customs and rites were still found among these peoples at the time of the arrival of the Spanish, which, because of being more particular and characteristic of Christianity, prove more effectively that the person who introduced them was an apostle or disciple of Jesus Christ. Baptism is the first sacrament necessary, without which there can be no salvation, and therefore they rightly call it the door of the Catholic Church, to which no one can enter except by it; and it is evident that throughout this country a type of baptism was found to be established. Although it varied in the ceremonies according to the places, substantially they all agreed on this bath of natural water, saying upon the baptized person some forms such as honors and prayers and putting a name upon him, and this they observed as a rite of religion, preserving the memory of Quetzalcohuatl's having taught it to them. Father Remesal affirms that the first Spanish who arrived at Yucatan found that those natives used a type of baptism, to which they gave a name in their language which in our language means being born again. An expression more in agreement with that of Christ in the Gospel cannot be given. They had (he says) so much devotion and reverence for it that no one failed to receive it. They thought that in it they were receiving a pure disposition to be good and to not be harmed by the devils, and to attain the glory that they were hoping for. It was given to them from the age of three years up until twelve, and without it no one got married. They would choose a day for it that was not one of their tragic days, the fathers would fast for three days beforehand and would abstain from the women, the priests would handle the purification of the home, casting out the devil with certain ceremonies, and once these ceremonies were over the children would go one by one, and the priests would give them a little corn and ground incense in the hand, and they in a brazier, and in a cup they would send wine outside the town, with an order to the Indians not to drink it or look back, and with this they believed that they had cast out the devil. The priest would come out dressed in long, solemn clothing with a hyssop in his hand. They would put white cloths on the heads of the children, they would ask the big ones if they ha done any sin, and in confessing they would remove them to a place and bless them with prayers, making movements as if to strike them with the hyssop, and with certain water that they had in a bone, they would wet the forehead and the features of the face and between the toes and the fingers, and then the priest would get up and remove the cloths from the children, and certain notifications being done, they were thus baptized and the festival would end in banquets, and in the nine following days the father of the child was not to approach his wife.

In the territories of Texcoco, Mexico, Tiacopan, Culhuacan, and other regions there were certain festivities in which the ceremony was solemnly done of bathing the children and putting names upon them; but when these festivities were not immediate, it was a custom to bathe the children seven days after they were born, standing them on their feet and throwing water on them from the top of the head, and at the same time they would put the name upon them. If it was a boy, they would put an arrow in the right hand and a target in the left, and if it was a girl, in one hand the spindle and in the other the shuttle, or a broom; and two months after birth (which was after forty days), because each month of theirs was twenty days long, the mothers would take them to present them at the temple, where they were received by one of the priests who was the one who was in charge of keeping the count of their calendar or ecclesiastical chart. This priest would present the child to one of their gods as it seemed right to him, and as a surname would give the child the name of that deity, to whom he did certain honors, and they amounted to asking him to give that child a good and peaceful nature, that it not be hard for him to learn what he should learn, for him to be happy in war, for him not to suffer travails and need, and other similar things.

In some towns their bath was not until the tenth day after birth, and in others it was not by infusion but by immersion, submerging the children in ponds, rivers, springs, or fonts full of water; but in all parts they gave them a name in doing this ceremony of the bath; and although in some parts the remembrance had already been lost of the one who introduced these ceremonies or many of them among them, and among the better educated people, as I have said, the knowledge was found that it was Quetzalcohuatl who taught them this ablution or bath of natural water and to give the children a name at the time of performing it; and it seems natural that being an apostle or disciple of the Lord he would carry it out that way, to fill the commandment that the Lord gave to all his apostles when he commanded them to preach the Gospel throughout all the world and to every creature, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, promising eternal salvation through faith and baptism: Whosoever believes and is baptized shall be saved. . . .

No less remarkable is the custom that they found established of confessing to the priests, declaring to them those things that they had as sins, and accepting the penitence that the priests would impose upon them; and the obligation that the priests had, not to reveal the sins that were confessed to them, was so rigorous that if they violated this confidentiality they were severely punished even with the penalty of death.
Some may question how well Veytia understood Mesoamerican legends and whether what he heard or what he wrote was tainted by an effort to find contrived parallels between Mesoamerican legends and the Gospel, but much of what he writes on the topic of baptism is supported by other sources and appears credible. (On the other hand, he may have relied heavily on de Landa in his description of baptism, so I cannot say how valuable Veytia is here as an independent witness of Mesoamerican traditions.) But in any case, the parallels between Mesoamerican baptism and Christianity certainly are consistent with the Book of Mormon.

Could it be that such native practices reflect elements derived from knowledge of ancient Christian ceremonies such as baptism, though in a pagan and corrupt form?

22 comments:

Bookslinger said...

This is the kind of thing that the antis completely ignore in their "there's absolutely no evidence!" rants and chants.

Other good writings of the early conquistador era, are by Garcilaso de la Vega. He was perhaps one of the last surviving Incan royalty. He was taken to Europe and educated there, and was able to write in Spanish so that it would be preserved. I have an English translation of his book "The Incas."

There are still several editions of his books/writings in print. If anyone's interested, go to Amazon.com and do a search on "garcilaso de la vega".

Ken said...

I took a Book of Mormon Tour when I went to Cancun. We went through Chitzen Itza and other sites. Our tour guide was Jose Devila. Have you ever heard of him? He pointed out sites that look very much like baptismal founts and a box that looks very much like the one Joseph Smith described that he found the Gold Plates in. Very interesting. What do you think about things like that?

Dan the Man said...

I as well took a tour of Cancun through Chichen Itza, and more importantly, Ek balam. In Ek Balam, I noticed things on the wall that could not be disputed as anything other than hieroglyphics. How did that happen?

Bookslinger said...

Then why do the antis say there is *nothing* that supports the plausibility of the Book of Mormon?

Mormanity said...

I've got a photo an ancient stone box from southern Mexico that I posted on Mormanity. I took the photo earlier this year during a visit to a museum in Oaxaca.

Mormanity said...

I think what some antis mean when they say there is "not a scrap of evidence" is that there is not incontrovertible, overwhelming evidence that is so hard to ignore, so well known, and so acknowledged by former critics that it can fully eliminate the need for any faith and compel even the most cynical atheist to come unto Christ and be baptized as a Latter-day Saint. Such evidence is on its way, for the time is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, but I strongly recommend exerting at least a particle of faith before that point, otherwise it might be too late.

J.P.R. said...

Many of you may be familiar with the concept of "Quetzalcohuatl" as mentioned in this article. If not, Quetzalcohuatl is represented today in these ruins as a "feathered serpent." He was the god of these people, and the source of their inspiration and beliefs. Quetzalcohuatl, having visited these ancient people at one time, we suppose him to be none other than the reserrected Jesus Christ. The concept behind the "feathered serpent" was that he descended below all men when he came to earth (serpent), but had power from His Father to ascend back to heaven (feathers). I find it more than ironic that this manner of baptism was taught them and passed down in some form even though the prieshood was not with them.

J.P.R. said...

Many of you may be familiar with the concept of "Quetzalcohuatl" as mentioned in this article. If not, Quetzalcohuatl is represented today in these ruins as a "feathered serpent." He was the god of these people, and the source of their inspiration and beliefs. Quetzalcohuatl, having visited these ancient people at one time, we suppose him to be none other than the reserrected Jesus Christ. The concept behind the "feathered serpent" was that he descended below all men when he came to earth (serpent), but had power from His Father to ascend back to heaven (feathers). I find it more than ironic that this manner of baptism was taught them and passed down in some form even though the prieshood was not with them.

Anonymous said...

The white cloth placed on the head of the person to be baptized reminds me of the Catholic practice of covering the baby with a cloth called a pall during baptism. In death the deceased catholic, when brought into church in a casket, is again sprinkled, in memory of his/her baptism into the church.
Then a large white cloth (pall) is placed on the casket in recognition of his origional baptism. A very sacred and nice ceremony.

Anonymous said...

Jeff-if you wish--place this comment in your main blog.

Elder Lindsay, son of Jeff Lindsay enters the Missionary Training Center (MTC) this very day.

I have known Jeffs son for most of his 19 years. Elder Lindsay has always been one of the best boys I have ever known. He has been a great leader. I personally supervised his Eagle project. I have known him in school as one of my students, and in church as a Deacon when I was in the Bishopric.

Elder Lindsay without a doubt will be a credit to the Missionary forces of the church.

Jeff you are to be congradulated for rasing such a fine son. And I know you are giving continual thanks for being given such a son.

Sean said...

Nice blog. I plan to read this everyday because I have been anti stuff and my faith has wavered a lot. The fact that I have messed up a lot and drive away the Spirit contributes to my predicament as well.

Anonymous said...

Re: antis

Why do we call people who "disagree" with us antis? Is it a slang term? Is there something more polite we could use?

Are they anti-mormon?
Are they the anti Christ?
Are they antiaircraft?
Are they antisocial?
Are they antibody?

Bookslinger said...

Those who disagree with the church are "nonbelievers."

"Antis" are those who attack the LDS church and its leaders or members with half truths, twisted or incomplete information, and sometimes outright lies. The bitterest ones seem to usually be former members. Even from the days of Joseph Smith, the most virulent opponents of the church were former members.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability

As I understand it in overly simple terms, the principle of falsifiablity requires a hypothesis to possess the ability to be proven true or false. Hypotheses that can only be true or can be only be false therefore are not valid hypotheses.

The best example of this is phenomenon of poor reasoning in Mormondom is Book of Mormon word print studies. Regardless of the result, LDS faithful insist it is prove that the LDS version of have the BoM came is true. If word print studies suggest a single author to the Book of Mormon then this is because the Book of Mormon is the result of a single translator (Joseph Smith). If the study suggests multiple authors, this is because it is a translation of multiple authors. You see, regardless of the result the result, the experiment cannot invalidate the hypothesis and hence the experiment proves nothing.

Is there a proper name for the reverse? That is, assertions that can be used to prove conflicting hypotheses true.

For example, almost all cultures have some sort of creation mythology. I have observed atheist use this assertion to validate the assessment that religion is merely a creation of man. I have also observed theist use this assertion to validate the assessment that the creation is indeed real, because similar stories of it exist everywhere.

The Mayans possessed a zero like number in their number system. Before the Mayans, the Indian sub-continent achieved the concept of zero and passed it on to Arabs (consequently westerners use Arabic not Roman numerals today). However, to suggest that Mayans must have obtained the concept of zero from the Indian subcontinent is extremely poor reasoning (non-sequitor?).

Anonymous said...

Mormanity,

“Such evidence is on its way, for the time is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ,”

I have often thought why the faithful go such lengths to rationalize their faith. Your quote is exactly why and it makes sense. If ones faith is indeed reality, then rationality will eventually catch up with it. So while Mormon Apologist might have cyclical (short term) setbacks, secularly (no pun intended) a mountain of evidence will build in their favor. Unfortunately for the Mormon Apologist, has human knowledge has grown exponential even in disciplines such as anthropology, archeology, linguistics, DNA, etc, the balance of evidence has shifted decidedly against them, more than just a temporary setback. I can see only one way to explain this.

When I was in the MTC one missionary suggested to another that dinosaurs, fossil records, etc were plants by God in order to test our faith. The second missionary took offense pointing out the absurdity of the reasoning. I stepped in, mentioning that although I did not agree with the hypothesis, the reasoning is extremely sound. After all God misled Abraham into believing that God would let him kill his son in order to test his faith. This sort of extreme faith testing is found through out all religions, not just the Mormons.

I have decided that the God I choose to believe in so powerful he does not need to play head games with his children in order to for his children to grow. If I was to continue to believe in the God of the Mormon Abraham, to maintain logical consistency I would have to believe that God is a being that engages in absurdly intricate and complex schemes to deliberately misled his children, thereby making his children stronger is some bizarre way.

Mormanity said...

To the Anon who raised the issue of falsifiability, you assertions regarding Wordprint studies are quite wrong. There have not been claims that a single author results for the Book of Mormon supports Joseph Smith as translator - what are you talking about?? We already know he was the "author" of the English text. When John Hilton and others applied Wordprint studies to the Book of Mormon, there was a legitimate question about whether the style of a translator would override the differences in styles of the original authors in another language. It can actually go either way, depending on how the translation is done. The testing was not done to understand the text. The results were actually surprising and unexpected in that the unique stle of multiple distinct authors came through rather clearly. Alma could with relatively high probability be identified as a different voice than Nephi, etc.

The result does not prove the Book of Mormon to be true or untrue. But it does something to falsify the claim that Joseph Smith is the actual author of the text and not just the translator of. That's the takeaway.

I hope you'll be open to the possibility that real evidence may be able to falsify some of your dearly held beliefs, like the mistaken belief that the Book of Mormon is the fabrication of one man, Joseph Smith.

Anonymous said...

>At 6:07 AM, November 28, 2008, Mormanity

You appear to be much better read on Mormon subjects than I will ever care to be. So I can not help be feel that your gloss over of the David Holmes study is an attempt to bait me into some kind of gotcha. My understanding is that in the late Seventies there was a sort of prove of concept article suggesting statistical analysis could proof multiple authors of the Book of Mormon at BYU (Larsen, etal?). As a direct consequence separate studies were launched, one at Berkley (Hilton) and one at a University in the UK (David Holmes). Holmes results were quite the opposite of Hilton’s. If I recall the basic conclusion from Holmes was that who ever wrote the Doctrine and Covenants also wrote the Book of Mormon. In the past I read sections of each paper, but quickly got lost in the math, but read enough to understand their gist.

A few years ago I read a FARMS essay published in the mid 90’s attempting to explain why the two papers would have such different results. If I recall correctly the analogy used in the essay was that of the vending machine in the FARMS building rejecting valid dollar bills. That is Holmes sample space and methods were much too conservative and rejected way too many legitimate matches (false negatives).

Any ways, I am confused by this statement: “your dearly held beliefs, like the mistaken belief that the Book of Mormon is the fabrication of one man,” When did I ever imply this was my belief and dearly held no less? For all I know JRR Tolkien was divinely inspired to write what he wrote and Stephen King made a pact with the Devil to give him the ability to write what he writes.

Anonymous said...

>At 6:07 AM, November 28, 2008, Mormanity

“There have not been claims that a single author results for the Book of Mormon supports Joseph Smith as translator - what are you talking about??”

If I understand your question correctly, you are asking who specifically is claiming that single author results support Joseph Smith as translator. If you look at my originally post you will see that I did not claim that members of the Mormon literati/intelligentsia or well known apologists such as yourself have documented this claim. I did write “LDS faithful”. Despite being familiar with word print studies and interacting with LDS faithful all your life, are you stating that you have never heard this claim made??? (Three question marks is greater than two, conveying an even greater sense of perplexed incredulousness)

Anonymous said...

>At 6:07 AM, November 28, 2008, Mormanity

“There have not been claims that a single author results for the Book of Mormon supports Joseph Smith as translator - what are you talking about??”

Below is a direct quote from the Holmes paper:

"The most impressive statistical analysis carried out on the Book of Mormon is that
undertaken by Larsen et al. (1980), academics at Brigham Young University, the
Mormon University in Utah. Their aim was to test the assumption that the Book of
Mormon was written by a single author (Joseph Smith or another person) against the
alternative hypothesis of multiple authorship. These researchers realized that a
conclusion in favour of single authorship would not necessarily invalidate believers'
claims. Smith, even under divine direction, might have paraphrased the text into his
own words or, alternatively, he could have received the translation word for word in a
uniform literary mode with all stylistic differences between authors obliterated."

Mormanity said...

Anon, your original statement was "The best example of this is phenomenon of poor reasoning in Mormondom is Book of Mormon word print studies. Regardless of the result, LDS faithful insist it is prove that the LDS version of have the BoM came is true."

The fact that Larsen recognized that the signal of the translator might overwhelm the signal of orignal authors and that the conclusion of his testing could go either way does not mean he was going to take any set of results and argue that they prove the Book of Mormon is true. He never said that a single-author result would prove the Book of Mormon is true. When his results pointed to multiple authors, he still did not argue that this proves the Book of Mormon to be true.

The work was done to better understand the text and the translation, not to prove or disprove truthfulness.

Your hypothesis that "Mormon faithful" will interpret any result as proof of truthfulness is incorrect.

Anonymous said...

No. The statement is very, very correct. The disconnect appears to be your misunderstanding of a hastily written observation of how LDS faithful behave with regard to word print studies in order to reach a separating but related question regarding creation mythology existing through out human history.

I see a lot of miscommunication in the thread. One person stated “LDS faithful” and another thought “literati/intelligentsia/famous apologists”. One person requested evidence of “claims that a single author results for the Book of Mormon supports Joseph Smith as translator” and when given the other person thought the original request was for evidence of ‘“claims that a single author results for the Book of Mormon supports Joseph Smith as translator” – is prove that the BoM is true’ The original statement was clarified, “If word print studies suggest a single author to the Book of Mormon then this is because the Book of Mormon is the result of a single translator (Joseph Smith).” It appears this clarification was mistaken to mean that word print studies indicating that the BoM has a single author are proof that the BoM is a translation of reformed Egyptian.

To end the miscommunication I will clarify the original stated observation. If experiment X (word print studies) can have result A (single author) or result B (multiple authors) and BEFORE even running the experiment the experimenter dismisses the negative consequences of result A to the experimenter’s hypothesis, then the experimenter has successfully constructed an experiment that can do can do nothing to falsify his hypothesis, and as such the experiment does little to defend the hypothesis. On every occasion (including this one) this is how I have personally observed Mormon’s use word print studies. Joseph-Smith-as-author results are immediately dismissed as the voice of the translator, while multiple author results disprove the critics (which in this case I fail to see is different than proving Mormon’s right).

"But it does something to falsify the claim that Joseph Smith is the actual author of the text and not just the translator of." Being that the Hilton study eliminated the skeptics top candidates for multiple authors, that leaves either the LDS account of the BoM is true or a something like a group of leprechauns got together and wrote the BoM. Clearly the implication is that the LDS account is the more consistent alternative. In like manner, when a skeptic claims that he/she doesn’t believe in the LDS account, the skeptic is implying that they believe J.S. was either an out-right fraud or a man that sincerely believed his own mental invention. Maybe I am missing it, but I am not seeing some sort of obvious alternative in the middle.

To help you understand the point imagine a skeptic came along before Larsen et.al., and said lets try this word print study thing with the BoM. If the experiment shows multiple authors, well that is only because J.S. invented several distinct characters that spoke in the first person, but if the experiment shows a single author then that disproves the Mormon claim that it is a translation of multiple authors.

If that occurred you would blow the nonsense whistle in no time flat, as well you should. I have no problem with Mormon’s playing the voice of translator game, but if they are going to, then can’t go around claiming that multiple authors disprove the skeptic.

You seem to be insisting you have never witness LDS faithful present word print studies as yet another assertion to the assessment that their religion is “true”. I must say that is somewhat difficult to believe, but I will take your word for it.

I am a layman when it comes to stats so I can not comment on the conflicting studies. I can say that Holmes raises legitimate issues regarding J.S. prophetic voice and non-prophetic voice, the person/character Nephi using “And it came to pass” and “the wilderness” excessively and that these issues should to be consider statistically in any word print study.

I can say that the whole word prints in the BoM issue reeks of the Bible Code debates. My own informal survey of bible code documentaries suggests that most statisticians do not believe there are codes hidden in the bible. I have not found a single Mormon that believes in them despite the fact there are peer reviewed/published statistical studies indicating there are codes hidden in the bible. I have witness enough respected and highly intelligent people unintentionally torture data to derive at what they believed to be an unbiased conclusion, to realize that there is ample room for either side to do so with regard to word print studies and the BoM.

I disagree with the assessment that the Hilton study had surprising results. The Larsen study was somewhat sloppy with an obviously predetermined conclusion of multiple authors. While the rigor of the Hilton may indeed prove multiple authors, the fact it validates the previous predetermined conclusion hardly qualifies as surprising.

I am still curious about my original question. There are creation mythologies through out most of the known human civilization. This fact can be used in favor of both atheist and theist alike depending on how it is interpreted. Is there a name for this?

Mormography said...

I believe eisegesis is the closest answer to my question above.

I made an observation about "LDS Faithful", which Mormanity bizarrely took to mean Larsen. I corrected Mormanity several times, but despite my patience, he continued to with his straw-man, assuming that I was referring to Larsen. A simple search of forums, etc is ample demonstration that LDS Faithful take word print studies as proof of their "dearly held beliefs", which Mormanity continued to deny. Then he referred to my personal observations and life experiences as a "hypothesis", essential calling me a liar, liar pants on fire. Despite this I continued to have patience with him and gave more dialog to work with.

One will note from the thread above, that I took the time and patience to address Mormanity's concerns, though he never took the time or thought to consider questions I posed to him. To the contrary, besides implying that I am a liar, he assigned believes to me that I never claimed: "your dearly held beliefs, like the mistaken belief that the Book of Mormon is the fabrication of one man, Joseph Smith." If Mormanity was assuming that I was some sort of "anti" it is odd that he would assign such a believe to me. I have seen skeptical critics argue that the BoM was written by multiple authors, in fact that is one of the items addressed in the apologists' word print studies.

In the thread above Bookslinger defines an "anti" as some that resorts to "half truths, twisted or incomplete information, and sometimes outright lies." Both Bookslinger and Mormanity have maligned me with the label "anti", but when challenged neither one of them could come up with a single assertion of "half truths, twisted or incomplete information, and sometimes outright lies" or explain how expounding on the truth is working against the LDS Church. Bookslinger essential argued I should spend my time criticizing violent Muslim Clerics, before making my observations about Mormonism. Notice this line of reasoning essential concedes that I have made valid points. When Mormanity could not describe how he justifies labeling me "anti" he explains that I am not pro-Mormon. Hence the true mentality is exposed. Any non-believe that is not pro-Mormon is "anti". And pro-Mormon must then be someone that is willing to tell
"half truths, twisted or incomplete information" for the LDS Church.

What is it that they find so offensive? What they find so offensive is that I take the position, that if Joseph Smith was a prophet, then so was Muhammad, Bhagwan Rajneesh, Buddha, and the Pope. If Monson, Hinckle, or whom ever is a prophet, then so are Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, Pat Robertson, Binny Hinn, and the Grand Ayatollahs. They reject the modern, pluralist, all-inclusive way thinking and cling to the archaic, immature way of thinking that ones own religion is the only religion with the fullness of truth. As surely as the law of Moses was but a school master, this out-dated paradigm had a usefulness in a stage of societal development that has passed. It is time to move on to a higher way of thinking.