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

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Steel in the Book of Mormon?

Recently, a commenter recommended that article, "Steel in the Book of Mormon" by William Hamblin as a good source of information about this favorite area for critics to poke at. I think it's a valuable article that helps us better understand the richness and complexity of the text, and the danger of making simple 21st century assumptions about an ancient text.

One issue that is not thoroughly discussed in that article, however, is the issue of meteoric iron alloys as a type of steel. I discus this on my LDSFAQ page about metals in the Book of Mormon. Meteoric deposits of alloys of iron and nickel, for example, which modern scientists have called "steel," could account for the reference to steel in Ether, for example.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

My favorite lie in the Book of Mormon is Nimrod and the Elephants. Yes, there were elephants and horses in North American a thousand...it's just that the bones are too small to be found.

The claim that people were using steel before the discovery of steel is important because it is in the opening pages.

The whole power of the Book of Mormon is that the words themselves are false. It is when you read between the words that revelation happens. It has been known since antiquity that once you introduce falsehoods, contraditictions and paradoxes into your foundations of reason that anything can become true.

The big lie is the path to power. The question is how to find an organization dedicating hundreds of billions of dollars and millions upon millions of man hours into perpetuating the lie.

I mean, like Communism was a great ride. Accept the paradoxes of Marxist dialectics...and bam...all the inequities you perform in life are justified as you are a revolutionary. You will be rewarded by bringing a worker's paradise to earth.

People of the failed classical tradition see the lie. They try desparately to point out the large number of lies in the Book of Mormon and that sit at the foundations of the religion. They fail to realize that it is the lies that serve as the path to power.

Look at the pure, unadulterated power of the men at the head of the LDS Church. For that matter, look at the power held the many wived cult leaders who know the power that lies between words.

Adopting and worshipping lies makes a person a God!!!!

Ooops, I better go into anonymous mode. I would get fired if this post were tracked back to me.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That was deep. Deeply mistaken.

Bookslinger said...

According to non-LDS archeologists, there was a form of alloyed-iron that can legitimately be called steel used in the middle east prior to and included the 600 BC era of Lehi.

Even King Tut's tomb even had a hardened iron dagger that could legitimately be called steel.

The Book of Mormon does not say that all the Nephites had steel swords. They were rare and precious.

Ether 7:9 tells of steel swords being made, but that was among the Jaredites.

In the 19th century English used by Joseph Smith, and in the King James English, "steel" could also mean any hardened or alloyed metal and is not necessarily a 20th or 21st century definition of steel.

If you'd bother to read Jeff's website's pages about metals in the Book of Mormon, you'd see a lot of NON-LDS references about metals in Mesoamerica and in the ancient mideast, including the use of iron and hardened iron by the Olmecs.

And even among the conquistadors, some of the archivists described _some_ of the natives swords as "steel."

While the proof of existence of steel in the Ancient mideast exists, the evidence of it is rare, just like in Mesoamerica. But it's there, in both.

You not only ignore modern discoveries of ancient iron-working, and iron-hardening, you also ignore (non-LDS) Bible scholars' understanding of the use of the word "steel" by the KJV translators, and you ignore the dictionary definition of "steel" of the 1820's.

You'd also learn things about how horse bones and horse fossils are also RARE to NON-EXISTANT in parts of the world (for instance the HUN empire) where it was documented that horses existed for many years. You demand that there be archeological evidence of horses in Mesoamerica, yet there is no equivalent archeological evidence of horses in areas where historians agree there were horses.

You fail to mention that the "disappearing horse bones" of Mesoamerica perfectly match the disappearing horse bones in other parts of the world!

These archealogical findings ADD plausibility to the Book of Mormon, not detract from it. While not proving anything, the findings certainly offer possible explanations, removing the critics' charges of "there's no evidence!"

Yet, you guys just keep repeating the now-disproven accusations over and over again, amid the evidence, even by non-LDS scientists and archeologists, that answers the accusations.

And you keep beating Mormons over the head by calling our faith "lies" for things that can't be proven with cold hard evidence. That would be a gross insult against _any_ religion.

You're using false logic yourself by saying the _absence_ of evidence is "proof" against faith. _Absence_ of evidence does not prove anything one way or the other!

How dare you attack people's faith like that. If there were cold hard evidence which proved it, it wouldn't be faith.

Mormanity said...

Now before we get too upset with our anonymous critic, we should give the man or woman have a chance to speak. Honestly, I want to know more. Just what is this favorite story of yours - that "favorite lie" - about Nimrod and the Elephants?

It sounds enchanting, but I'm afraid I've never heard of it. My editions of the Book of Mormon don't seem to have any such tale, so a clarification would be welcome.

Perhaps you are thinking of the ancient hunter in Genesis named Nimrod? Elephants are mentioned in one verse, Ether 9:19. Earlier in Ether 2, there is reference to an Old World valley named Nimrod, and later in Ether 7:22, a king's son is named Nimrod, but there is no connection between him and elephants. I've seen a Web page from an anti-Mormon mentioning both, so maybe that's where you got the idea.

It's a pity some of our critics haven't done the work of reading the text before becoming so expert in its fallacies.

Oh, and what's this about horse and elephant (mammoth/mastodon) bones being too small to be found? The fossilized bones of both species seem plenty big to be viewed with the naked eye.

Mormanity said...

Some useful background information on steel can be found at http://www.mri.on.ca/steel.html. Note that while the rise of a formal steel industry may have occurred after Nephi's day, there are reasons to accept the existence of more ancient steel as a rarity - either from meteoric sources or from accidental production. And steel in the Book of Mormon is, in fact, described as a rare and precious metal.

Anti-Mormons have often mocked the Book of Mormon with taunts like, "How do you hide a steel mill?" Downright silly. There is no reference to steel as a major industrial raw material among the Nephites. Nephi had a rare sword said to be steel - perhaps iron with a carburized edge, perhaps an early form of Damascus steel or wootz steel - or perhaps a non-ferrous metal (considering the challenges of translating the Hebrew word that sometimes is translated as "steel" in the Old Testament). Nephi tried to pass on his knowledge of steel, but it does not seem to have stuck. The Jaredites had access to a hill with deposits from which they could make "steel" swords, and I suspect this was a meteoric alloy. But steel mills and widespread production of steel are not found in the core of Book of Mormon civilizations.

Stephen said...

The Jaredites had access to a hill with deposits from which they could make "steel" swords like Bell Mountain in Saudi Arabia (now more like Bell Hill -- I've climbed it).

Anonymous said...

You are right, the horses and elephants were brought into the Valley of Nimrod. The BoM does not go into the life of Nimrod, so I don't know if he had elephants.

Ether [19] "And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms. "

It is in Ether 2 that we enter the Valley of Nimrod. I admit, it is when the story enters the Valley of Nimrod where I really started to get the feel the Joseph Smith really was sneering at the world with utter contempt.

BTW, I know that there's lots of web pages that explain away the elephants. I see the massive wealth and power of the LDS hierarchy and know the extents to which they will go to defend their big lie. For that matter, I would not be surprised if the total amount of time and money spent apologizing for the BoM is hundred times that spent to sequence the human genome.

I only dropped anonymous comments into your blog to show my shear amazement at the amount of effort you throw into defending the lie.

I hope the LDS church does not demand that you take your site down. I love to show people the type of reasoning that dominates life in Utah.

John W. Redelfs said...

Anonymous wrote:
"I hope the LDS church does not demand that you take your site down."
---

Not much chance of that happening. I rather imagine they approve of Mormanity. There would be an enormous number of other websites asked to shut down before this one.

Charles said...

Second to that Jeff has made it clear in previous posts he is not from Utah.

Not to rehash an old argument but everything that can be disputed in the Book of Mormon can also be used to discredit the Bible.

My favorite lie in the Bible? The guy walking on water, oh no wait, rising from the dead, I know that's not possible. Hmmn, what about...

Anonymous said...

Charles Said:

"Not to rehash an old argument but everything that can be disputed in the Book of Mormon can also be used to discredit the Bible."

Yes, there's a large number of people who say Christianity was a big lie.

For that matter, religion as a lie was a major topic Smith's days. The generations before Smith had thrown off the English Crown which was also the head of the Anglican Church.

A large number of people were questioning the authority and authenticity of the Bible (e.g. Thomas Paine - Age of Reason).

There would have been a great deal of talk about needing myths and recognized authorities in religion. There was even talk of impending doom if there was not a recognized state religion.

Smith's day also seems have a resurgence in talk about Plato and Machiavelli.

Hegel (1770-1831) and Marx (1818-1883) were conteporary to Smith (1805-1844). They made systems of big lies that raised the state to a religion and raised intellectuals to the role of religious prophets.

The BoM fits in so perfectly with the metaphysics of Joseph Smith's day that I find I cannot think of the story as anything other than something that a boy in Smith's position would have dreamt up.

In viewing the BoM as a big lie, I have to applaud efforts to explain away the large number of oddities in the book, because that is part of the game. A ton of money, power and influence rides on the game.

Dan the Man said...

But, last time I checked, Hegel and Marx were never so bold to try and pass off what they wrote as true histories. Plus, as we've seen, socialism and marxism, communism, that political thought, has largely failed. Whereas Joseph Smith's teachings have done nothing but grow and be successful.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but isn't it more important how the BOM makes you feel? Don't worry about all the oddities. Forget that you have to suspend disbelief to read it. Think about how it makes you feel.
It makes me feel soooooo sleeeeeepy.
Here, I give you this from Carl,
"Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable" ...Carl
Sagan
When we are self-indulgent and uncritical, when we confuse hopes and facts,
we slide into pseudoscience and superstition." - Carl Sagan - The
Demon-Haunted World; Science As A Candle In The Dark

Mormanity said...

Still looking for help, Anonymous. The Jaredites bring their flocks and some honeybees with them in Ether 2, where we encounter the Valley of Nimrod - but the Book of Mormon does not say that they brought elephants with them. These animals are only mentioned in the New World and presumably were already native there - probably a pocket of not-yet-extinct mammoths or mastodons.

So, for the moment, it looks like Nimrod and the Elephants is just a fairytale NOT found in any LDS text. I'd still love to hear it. I'm sleepy, too.

For some info on elephants in the New World, see http://www.2s2.com/chapmanresearch/elephant.html.

Anonymous said...

Hi Charles---

You are wrong about Jeff----He is from Utah!

Anonymous said...

Captain M. Said:

"But, last time I checked, Hegel and Marx were never so bold to try and pass off what they wrote as true histories. [...] Whereas Joseph Smith's teachings have done nothing but grow and be successful."

Both Hegel and Marx convinced legions of followers that they were in tune with the world spirit of history. Many still consider Marx among the greatest economists, and he continues to be the most influencial.

It is likely that Marx deluded himself into thinking that he was the manifestation of the world spirit.

As for the success of Mormonism.

The many different utopian societies set up by Smith all failed. Young's Empire of Deseret never came to pass.

You are right that the actual size of the LDS church has grown. People holding that might makes right can see strong demographic trends coupled with a malleable collection of big lies held by a centralized general authority and are impressed.

Those who don't hold Machievelli's view that might makes right note that corruption grows faster than truth.

Look at how fast the accounting scandals of the 90s took out trillions in assets.

Communism was a corruption that came after Smith. It was virulent enough to engulf half the world.

The LDS invests more time and effort into growth than just about any other modern church. The whole Mormon society is geared to growing their church as fast as possible. The massive families with mutliple wives and children pop out babies at third world rates. The greater part of the 10% tythes goes to growth or buying influence. People spend massive amount of times on Missions. Unlike most Christian missions which generally bring humanitary aid along with the message. Mormon missions are geared entirely toward the growth of the church.

The LDS Church is a church of salesmen.

Any organization that spends the dollars and time into growing that the LDS Church spends would be large.

If the LDS Church is a big lie. Then by definition its growth is a corruption. That a statement spreads quickly does not change its truth value.

The growth of the LDS Church is better explained by the structure of the organization than by claims of divinity.

Daniel Peterson said...

Incidentally, the next issue of the FARMS Review (due out probably in a month or so) will contain a review of Carl Sagan's "The Demon-Haunted World."

I was inspired to request a review of the book after noticing how many vocal atheists/agnostics cited Sagan, and that volume in particular, almost as holy writ.

Floyd the Wonderdog said...

I heard Jeff say one time that he was conceived in the BYU Clark Law School parking lot.




It wasn't a parking lot then, but as married student housing at the time. ;^)

Anonymous said...

Hey Dan, This from the FARMS site.
The principal purpose of the FARMS Review is to help serious readers make informed choices and judgments about books published, primarily on the Book of Mormon. The evaluations are intended to encourage reliable scholarship on the Book of Mormon and the other ancient scriptures.

Reviews are written by invitation. Any person interested in writing a review should first contact the editor. Style guidelines will be sent to the reviewers.

Don't know why FARMS would want to review a book that has nothing to do with Mormonism. Telling though isn't it?
I like how you felt inspired to request a review of the book mentioned. Did that inspired feeling feel anything like heart burn?
Not to belittle your group or anything, but are you sure you are up to reviewing someone like Sagan? If you feel you are, I feel inspired (sorry had a bean burrito for lunch) to request a review of the works of Richard Feynman and Albert Einstein. Oh yeah, how about some of S. Hawking's stuff too?

Anonymous said...

Marx and Smith can hardly be considered contemporaries. So they lived *about* the time. Joseph Smith's only influences before the Book of Mormon were his basic reading level schoolbooks, the Bible, and the Protestant preachers during the Second Great Revival. Marx was not around in New England during this revival; his influences were far different. Smith was raised in a large, loving, conservative religious home. Marx came from a liberal Jewish home, with a rich and influential father who was a lawyer and his brother became a chief rabbi. Thus their upbrining and influences are vastly different. While Joseph Smith was uneducated and in no position to publish the Book of Mormon at the age of 24, Karl Marx enrolled in a university at the age of 15 and surrounded himself with a circle of philosophical peers. Marx and Joseph: different as night and day.

Whilst Marxist regimes fell apart from the inside, the utopias created by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young THRIVED. They built large, splendid, beautiful cities out of a swamp (Nauvoo) and a barren, secluded desert (Salt Lake). Persecution from outsiders and traitors were the only obstacle the early saints faced. Hardly a fair comparison to Communism.

Moreover, to say that the Church does not give humanitarian aid to other countries is RIDICULOUS. It has given over $77 MILLION to Africa over the last 5 years alone. Missionaries' main task is to spread the gospel, it is true, but that makes sense when you remember the maxim: "Catch a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, he eats for the rest of his life." Missionaries call people to repentance and teach them a better way of life. Africa right now is ravished because of warfare and AIDS. We could not worry about teaching people about the gospel and instead just send money and money and more money to pay the doctor's bills of all the AIDS babies....or we can teach the people there about God, about the eternal family unit, and about abstinence, which will slow the spread of AIDS.

Along with the millions and millions of humanitarian aid the church donates, missionaries are sent to proclaim the gospel. The Church helps motivate people to do good; how can you contend with such a righteous cause? Open your heart, cast aside the spirit of contention in exchange for the Spirit of God. There are sooo many reasons to have faith: overcome your doubt and stop the silly arguments. =)

Daniel Peterson said...

"Don't know why FARMS would want to review a book that has nothing to do with Mormonism. Telling though isn't it?"

I don't know what you think it "tells." I saw certain alienated ex-Mormons making a big deal about the book (claiming that it eviscerated theism in general and, derivatively, Mormonism in particular), so I figured that a review of it would be interesting. As editor, I have considerable latitude and virtually entire independence.

"Not to belittle your group or anything, but are you sure you are up to reviewing someone like Sagan?"

Personally, I've never regarded Sagan as a demigod. In any event, the young Harvard-Ph.D. biochemist who wrote the review essay for us didn't seem to feel particularly inferior or intimidated.

"I . . . request a review of the works of Richard Feynman and Albert Einstein. Oh yeah, how about some of S. Hawking's stuff too?"

Maybe someday. If I feel it relevant. Right now, I see no particular relevance.

I like Feynman and Hawking's stuff. I grew up near Caltech, Feynman's stomping grounds, used to hang around the campus from time to time, had friends studying there, and very nearly went there as an undergraduate myself. I had a poster of Albert Einstein on my wall both at home and in my dorm room, and began my college studies as a mathematics major with a strong interest in cosmology.

If you were expecting me to be anti-scientific, or clueless about contemporary science, your expectation was misguided.
 
Let's please try not to distract this thread any further from the discussion of steel and the Book of Mormon.

Anonymous said...

The comments on this blog are becoming a course in how to use the anti-mormon RfM playbook. Take historical events and put a spin on them. Yes, the saints abandoned Kirtland, the settlements in Missouri, and Nauvoo, so you could say those societies all failed. The United Order failed in both places, too.

But the antis don't say exactly how they failed, or what strengthening came from it. Or how it was part of a larger story of actions-and-consequences, with many parallels to the Old Testament.

The vast increase of humanitarian aid to non-members is a relatively new thing, within the last 20 years. I remember when welfare missionaries were limited to teaching people hygiene, and small construction projects, no where near the scale of what's done today.

But do we get kudos from the antis for what we do today for non-members with no strings attached? No, we are mocked for not doing enough for non-members in the past, even though Mormons have always taken care of their own. (Ooh, I see an attack coming from the playbook on that statement.)

And the antis don't point out that even before the huge increase of non-member humanitarian aid spending that occured in the late 80's and 90's, the internal Welfare Program of the church spent, (and now continues to spend) tens (maybe hundreds) of millions of dollars a year in food and basic necessities for members.

And if you converted to a dollar value, all the donated hours members provide to the Welfare Program, on farms, in canneries, in warehouses and storehouses, and driving the trucks to deliver goods, it would be several times more.

Anonymous said...

"Don't know why FARMS would want to review a book that has nothing to do with Mormonism. Telling though isn't it?"

"I don't know what you think it "tells." "

Yes, I don't expect you woud. I didn't tell you.

"I saw certain alienated ex-Mormons making a big deal about the book (claiming that it eviscerated theism in general and, derivatively, Mormonism in particular), so I figured that a review of it would be interesting. "

I would love to see where these ex-Mormons said that the book eviscerated Mormonism in particular.
Would making a big deal about it mean, quoting from it? Or would you only equate making a big deal out of it if they had said it was the most correct book of any book on earth?

"Not to belittle your group or anything, but are you sure you are up to reviewing someone like Sagan?"

"Personally, I've never regarded Sagan as a demigod. In any event, the young Harvard-Ph.D. biochemist who wrote the review essay for us didn't seem to feel particularly inferior or intimidated."

Nor do I. But I imagine that your walls are plenty full of pictures of other demigods to have room for some scientist. Can't wait to read what the young biochemist has to say about Sagan though.

"I . . . request a review of the works of Richard Feynman and Albert Einstein. Oh yeah, how about some of S. Hawking's stuff too?"

"Maybe someday. If I feel it relevant. Right now, I see no particular relevance."

Maybe if more ex-mormons started quoting them you might think they are relevant.

"I like Feynman and Hawking's stuff. I grew up near Caltech, Feynman's stomping grounds, used to hang around the campus from time to time, had friends studying there, and very nearly went there as an undergraduate myself. I had a poster of Albert Einstein on my wall both at home and in my dorm room, and began my college studies as a mathematics major with a strong interest in cosmology.

If you were expecting me to be anti-scientific, or clueless about contemporary science, your expectation was misguided."

No, not at all. If I were going to try to stump you with some scientists names, I don't think I would have picked Einstein, Sagan, Hawking, and Feynman. I can clearly see that you are very science oriented and well versed in science having had a picture of Einstein in your dorm room as a student and growing up near CalTech.

"Let's please try not to distract this thread any further from the discussion of steel and the Book of Mormon."

OK

Daniel Peterson said...

Whatever.

Irony can be fun, but pointless sarcasm isn't very interesting.

Anyway, I've got a plane to catch. Asia beckons.

Mormanity said...

Daniel, good luck in Asia! Thanks much for dropping by this blog.

Mormanity said...

Update: The Paper on steel I referred to earlier has a new URL: http://www.mri.on.ca/steel.pdf.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous:

I know this comment thread is several years old, and I know I can't change your views, but I just had 2 questions for you if you don't mind. 1: what is is that you DO believe in? (not what you believe is false, but what do you believe is true?) and 2: Why do you spend so much time on something you don't believe in?

I don't intend any cynicism by these questions, I am just curious. I live in a different country than most, and I will leave my religious views unknown, just know that I am a Christian.

I don't know if you will get this, as it is so old, but I am truly curious as to what you believe.

Thanks

-A Dominician

Anonymous said...

well, I didnt read all of you guyses posts (I only read like the first 10) but why are you trying so desperately to defend a LIE?? What are you afraid of?? Even if you´re right and there is another kind of steel (blah blah) why didnt archeologists find gold?? I dont know where it says it and I cant quote it perfectly but in the BoM it says "their land was also full of horses and gold".. excuse me but where are the horses?! Where is the gold?! In the BoM it says the Nephites were a culture with writing... Well, a culture with writing leaves records, so where are they?! We can find the bible written on Papyrus, why cant we find the gold plates?! Yes, I believe in Jesus Christ.. Why? Because Jesus Christ IS a historical figure! There are many non-bibical records that mention christ, even from people that hated him! Why would they talk about a person that never existed?? I know there is no evidence that he was resurrected, but how the heck do you wanna proove it?? But what we DO have are the temples, the cities, the houses, the seas that are mentioned in the bibel. What do we have for the book of mormon? Have you ever heard anyone saying: "Hey, I´m going to the BoM Bountiful this weekend?" No? mmmh and why do you think that is?! Because this city never existed!! According to the book of Mormon the nephites and lemanites (sorry if i spelled them wrong) were a huge culture. Where are the skelletons of the 2 Million people that died in a single battle on the hill cumorah?! Where are the elephants? Where are the horses? Why did DNA analysis proove that Native americans cannot possibly be related to people from Jerusalem? Why did Joseph Smith go to prison because he lied to people even before he WROTE (yes, JOSEPH WROTE IT!!) the BoM! Do you really think god would have a prophet who lied to people?! Why cant we find any evidence for the book of Mormon?! Why did Joseph Smith have around 30 wives and even more affairs?! Why was poligamy allowed until the USA decided that its forbidden?! Do you really think god said: "Oh the USA doesnt allow it? Well, okay, Joseph, its no longer allowed!" Why are there the wrong plants mentioned in the book of mormon?
Dear Mormons, polease, find the REAL christ, read the bibel and find the truth. The book of mormon is a fictional book created in the 1820´s by Joseph Smith.

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of any artifacts being found to prove any of their stories, especially in the book of Ether. Horses came with the Spaniards, cattle with Columbus, no elephants. The early indians did not have linen, or silk. I believe this book a complete fabrication.

Gary Bluemel said...

Mormon's are a culture of story tellers. I find it interesting that no one has seen the connection between Joseph Smith, his stories and Mormon lies. Paul Dunn is just an example of modern fabricators. Just do what he did and come out on the lies. Just accept the fact that the BOM is just stories. They aren't true and probably would be better served as a work of decent fiction in the style of Lord of the Rings. Paul Dunn said his lies were simply "neat little packages" to illustrate a point. I'll take that.