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

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Facing the Shotgun

In dealing with the objections people offer against the Church, many of us have faced shotgun tactics. The objector doesn't just ask one or two questions, but comes in with a long list of objections. Dealing with them one at a time seems futile. In one of my early experiences in responding to anti-Mormon attacks, a newly baptized member was completely flustered by the thick stack of anti-Mormon literature her Protestant minister gave her, filled with hundreds of attacks on the Church. I asked what ones bothered her most, and spent some time systematically responding to them, one at a time. After demonstrating one by one that the key attacks bothering her were based on deceptive tactics or misinformation, she then made an appeal to the shear volume of attacks that remained. She said, "I don't care if you can show that most of what's in here [the anti-Mormon books] is a lie, because even if only 10% of what they say is true, that's enough to make the Church false." It was a sad moment. I appealed to the early Christians. Would she have dropped Christianity based on the shear volume of attacks raised against it? But the discussion seemed doomed from the beginning. She left the Church - and yes, we did leave her alone, as far as I can tell, at her request.

So what do we do when faced with shotgun tactics? Allen Wyatt offers some great advice in his article on answering shotgun anti-Mormonism at FAIRLDS.org. I think it's a good approach if the person raising the attacks is sincere. If someone just wants to tear down the Church and doesn't care about your answers, then you may not want to spend too much time dealing with the critics.

96 comments:

Steve C said...

The key with any situation like this is to be the one in charge. In these situations there is one on the offensive and one on the defensive. We have to take charge, to be on the offensive (without BEING offensive, of course! :). Otherwise we will be overwhelmed and can never get our point across.

Shadow Spawn said...

your key phrase was " I think it's a good approach if the person raising the attacks is sincere."

Arguing with someone who has nothing in mind, but to tear down is pretty fruitless usually. The problem is trying to protect newer, more fragile testimonies from such attacks. I think I tried and true tactic is to ask a person who is struggling with anti-lit. is to ask them why do they think out of all the churches out there, the LDS faith in particular seems to be under such furious attack all the time, and from so-called Christians at that? Get them to search out the motives of those who spread lies.

Why can't I find a stack of brochures and literature against the 7th Day Adventists?

Anonymous said...

im trying to understand the catholic concept of transubstantiation. its one of the most important parts of my catholic friends' beliefs, and i can't by it. it seems like the bible could be interpreted either way "this is my body...this is my blood" or "do this in remembrance of me." apparently as early as 106 AD or around there, st ignatius was talking about transubstantiation. i know in the LDS church the 'sacrament' is very important, but esp. w/ the st. ignatius commentary, i can see why a catholic would think its always been that way.

Joshua said...

I don't think that anti-mormons are evil. I think however, that they may be egged on (albeit without their knowledge) by Satan. I mean he wants to hinder the gospel and he'll use normally decent people to do it.

Stephen said...

Why can't I find a stack of brochures and literature against the 7th Day Adventists? It exists. I've seen stacks, not to mention, stacks against the Catholics, Bahais, etc.

The general approach I have taken is after I have demolised five or ten attacks is to state "the rest of these are just as false, just as the hundreds of attacks against Christ in his day were all false."

"Does anyone believe that if a machine cranks out lies, that a certain volume of lies makes them true? Now, lets talk about the Spirit of God."

Bookslinger said...

I realize it's pointless to debate with someone who has already made up their mind, yet I find myself doing it over and over again on these blogs. [sigh]

If someone sincerely wants to hear our responses to the attacks in order to learn what our responses are, then fine. I can respect those who want to hear both sides.

But after run-ins with ex-members I'm afraid I easily lose patience. I should be more tolerant and understanding of the ex-members who attack the church because I spent many years with bitter feelings towards the church, even though I was careful not to say or do things (at least outwardly) against the church.

I tried to be sympathetic towards members of one ex-member group, because many of their gripes are things I had problems with too. Things I was finally able to resolve. Well, maybe I'm still working on a few. I left a comment on a blog recently that contained some complaining in it about offenses of long ago. And I focused more on the problem than on the solution.

But the key thing with ex-member attackers, is they strenuously avoid trying to find reasonable pro-church or pro-gospel explanations and resolutions to their concerns. They automatically discount all pro-LDS responses because of their conclusions.

They use their (sometimes legitimate) gripes and offenses to attack and tear down, and "prove" that the church can't be true, or that God can't exist. They can't fathom the possibility that the church is true and at the same time, it and its members and leaders aren't perfect.

Where in the Bible were the people of God, and their ecclesiastical organization perfect? Only Enoch's city of Zion, and when it achieved perfection, God took it to him.

But in response to the actual attackers, I think we should say, "Whatever." I hope I can get to that point.

I've been to Christian bookstores to buy various translations of English and Spanish Bibles. And yes, most of them have a section on "cults." Included in the cult section are usually books on the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, 7th Day Adventists, Bahai, Islam, Buddism, Hinduism, Confuciousism, etc.

Steve C said...

Transsubstantiation is a Roman Catholic doctrine that, in their defense, would occur from the literal rendering of "this is my body". In a literal argument, the Roman Catholic has the advantage over the literal Protestant, who has to retreat from his own literal hermeneutic to explain a phrase such as "this is my body".
Transsubstantiation was the view of the Church Fathers and general was the view of the Church throughout the middle ages. I am not saying this to imply that it is true, simply that it is a historical position.

Anonymous said...

I suggest that we do not argue the sacrament. And I suggest that we do not "argue" or spend time "defending the faith". It gets you nowhere.

Take the lead of the Savior folks. He did not argue.

Bookslinger said...

But he sure had some great zingers.

And choice words for the scribes and pharisees

Anonymous said...

thank you, annoying person. but i was not arguing. i was INQUIRING. i wanted to learn more about the catholic perspective.

BYU Gestapo said...

The "Shotgun" idea is an interesting one to me. Weak people use it. I used it as a missionary at times in defense of the Church. In hindsight I realized how limited I really was in what I knew.

I have recently left the Church and my "gripe" is actually very simple: DNA shows the BOM to not be historical.

So how would you deal with me? What would be your answer. If anything a pro-mormon response would be a shotgun blast of hypotheses too numerous to tackle.

You can "be in charge" all you want and I'll wait patiently to hear someone explain to me why I should stay in the Church with that single doubt.

By the way, I have a degree in Molecular Biology. So shoot away.

Mormanity said...

Sorry you left. But if it's a scientific reason for leaving, are you sure you have tested the right hypothesis? That's my take on the DNA issue: people are rejecting the Book of Mormon on the basis of a hypothesis that is not derived from the text, but from popular opinions. For starters, see my DNA page at http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/DNA.shtml.

Mike Parker said...

I have recently left the Church and my "gripe" is actually very simple: DNA shows the BOM to not be historical.

I'll answer this one, and I won't use a shotgun approach. The answer is really quite simple.

The critics' argument goes like this:

A. The Book of Mormon claims that Lehi is the sole ancestor of all modern Native Americans.
B. DNA tests of Native Americans show that their DNA does not match those of Palestinian Jews.
C. Therefore the Book of Mormon is not an accurate historical record.

The problem with this charge is that A is not true -- the Book of Mormon does not claim that Lehi arrived in the New World to find it completely empty. It is, in fact, silent on this issue (although there are many passages which indicate that there were others already there). The fact that many Mormons — including many general authorities — have believed A to be true does not make it true.

Therefore, if Lehi's family of 20 to 30 people arrived to a continent already populated by peoples of mainly eastern Asian ancestry, and they intermarried with these people (as seems likely among the Lamanites, the only surviving descendants of Lehi), it would be expected that their genetic distinctiveness would be lost among an overwhelming sea of others' DNA.

Anonymous said...

You asked why people have long lists of things that are wrong with Mormonism. Your answer is that satan has filled all of these people's minds with illusion. Our very DNA must be illusion because it counters the BoM.

The more plausible explanation is that Mormonism is wrong. People have long lists of things that are wrong with Mormonism, because there is a long long list of things wrong with it.

Anyway I really want to talk about Steve's comment: "The key with any situation like this is to be the one in charge." [i.e., seek domination!]

Away from the Mormon/antiMormon debate.

Assume for half a second that Steve held a position that you've rejected. (Let's imagine Steve was a Communist...I will call this fictional character Comrade Steve rather than Brother Steve.)

In this case Comrade Steve would is saying: "When you are wrong, you should take charge."

You must force people into isolated situations where you can take control and force your world view on them. You would spend a great deal of money and effort in pushing your world view on them.

Being wrong creates has you do things to manipulate and control others.

Conversely, when the bulk of evidence favors an idea. You end up taking a different tact. When the evidence supports your beliefs, you try to put your ego in the back seat and get people to concentrate on the evidence.

Having a set of lies to defend is a path to personal power. Trying to discover truth, you put your ego behind the evidence. Seeking truth becomes a path to submission.


BTW: The reason I am reading all of these Mormon blogs is that I am trying to answer the question of why the worst people manage to get in charge. I know it is impossible to argue against the big lie.

Steve has hit a big nail squarely on the head.

Those who are wrong must seek domination to force their world view on others. Having a set of lies to defend funds massive propaganda machines, spits out reams of garbage literature and fake testimonials.

Mormonism is Machiavelli's philosophy of dominance carved into scripture. (NOTE: There was a resurgeance of interest in Machiavelli in the 1820s when Lieutenant General, Seeker, Prophet, President Joseph Smith was seeking power.).

After reading Steve's statement that, to defend the lies of Mormonism, you must seek domination, I finally came to understand one of the mysteries or Mormon.

I understand now why Missionaries tell us to look for feelings behind the words rather than the meanings of the words while reand the BoM.

Reading words and analyzing arguments is part of the search for truth. Analysis is the path to submission. You submit to truths that are outside you.

Rather than reading the words, if you concentrate on all of your feelings of fear and lust, then you can find a path to power in Smith's pack of lies.

There are many people who know this instinctively. They are looking for a semi-plausible combination lies and half truthes that can justify their desires to domination.

With lies to defend, you become the righteous. You must dominate because you are righteous.

The lies of Mormonism provides the rationalization to seek domination.

I can finally see why people fall for it. The lies speak to those who seek domination. It provides the fantasy of being among the selected righteous. You can walk on others. You can lie and cheat in business. Being wrong means that you must seek to be the one in charge.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Mike Parker:

I assert that the BOM was not historical. It does not fall in line with measurable reality.

The contradiction I find is much simplier than getting into debates about Limited Geography Theory, Ashkenazi jews, mtDNA etc...

My issue is that whether you find truth through scientific means or spiritual/metaphysical means it should still be the same truth.

I used to believe that Church held that truth. However when I found out that my religion's "Keystone," as the prophet Joseph put it, differed greatly from observable reality my belief evaporated.

No matter how much you try to spin it, every last thing that came from Joseph's mouth and/or pen should have been Universal truth. Those who offer the prophet vs. "just a man" explanation are kidding themselves.

Also, if you throw out the traditional "all of North and South America" view of the BOM you end up losing a lot of LDS doctrine. For example, the Americas being a choice land above all others and that those who live in the Americas must serve God. The Lord promised Nephi he'd keep other people from the knowledge of the "promised land" because otherwise it'd be overrun.

How can that be if the Nephite/Lamanite people were vastly outnumbered on the continent?

Furthermore, the BOM itself makes prophesies to the Lamanite children, not the Mongolians. But if the Lamanite blood is so diluted among the Mongoloid that the Hebrew is no longer detectable, than who is left to claim the blessings?

Nevermind that it's not just a few "GAs" who have held the old paradigm over the years. Almost every South American temple dedicatory prayer has made reference to the people as being connected to Lehi. Those prayers have been offered primarily by President Hinckley.

Your explanation is at best an unprovable hypothesis. At worst, it's an obviously disingenious attempt to create new history. And that's not truth in my book.

Mike Parker said...

Anonymous:You asked why people have long lists of things that are wrong with Mormonism. Your answer is that satan has filled all of these people's minds with illusion. Our very DNA must be illusion because it counters the BoM.

I do not think that attacking DNA science as flawed (an "illusion," to use your phrase) is responsible or reasonable. There are better answers to BofM difficulties than to claim that scientific understanding is a lie.

BYU Gestapo:I assert that the BOM was not historical. It does not fall in line with measurable reality.

You may assert anything you wish. There is a difference, however, between assertion and evidence. I find very little evidence for abandoning faith in the BofM in your message.

The contradiction I find is much simplier than getting into debates about Limited Geography Theory, Ashkenazi jews, mtDNA etc...
My issue is that whether you find truth through scientific means or spiritual/metaphysical means it should still be the same truth.


This presumes (a) that current scientific understanding is completely correct; (b) that all things believed by Mormons are correct in every detail, and contain no conventional wisdom or assumptions based on incomplete revelation; and (c) that the goals of science and religion are to reveal the same truths.

I reject all three premises. To accept them is to have an unreasonably fundamentalistic approach to science or religion, and fundamentalism often leads to loss of faith when one encounters evidence or facts that run counter to it. I suspect that your faith in Mormonism was of such a type, rather than a progressive faith that seeks to incorporate new truths and expand one's understanding. This is a church of revelation (personal as well as corporate), and the Spirit can and should be expected to reveal new understandings to us as we grow — just as science presents new understandings as we mature.

I used to believe that Church held that truth. However when I found out that my religion's "Keystone," as the prophet Joseph put it, differed greatly from observable reality my belief evaporated.
No matter how much you try to spin it, every last thing that came from Joseph's mouth and/or pen should have been Universal truth. Those who offer the prophet vs. "just a man" explanation are kidding themselves.


Yep, I was right: Fundamentalist assumptions. Mormon doctrine does not claim, and never has claimed, to have all of the "Universal truth" you thought it did. We learn, we grow, we understand more today than we did yesterday. As Paul taught, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

Also, if you throw out the traditional "all of North and South America" view of the BOM you end up losing a lot of LDS doctrine. For example, the Americas being a choice land above all others and that those who live in the Americas must serve God. The Lord promised Nephi he'd keep other people from the knowledge of the "promised land" because otherwise it'd be overrun.
How can that be if the Nephite/Lamanite people were vastly outnumbered on the continent?


Coming from the Old World, Nephi (of course) uses the paradigm of the Old World. When he thinks of the nations of the earth, he thinks of Babylon, Persia, Egypt — the empires of his world. The Lord promises to keep Nephi's promised land from their knowledge.

Fundamentalist assumptions make us read the BofM as we think it should read, not as Nephi was thinking.

Furthermore, the BOM itself makes prophesies to the Lamanite children, not the Mongolians. But if the Lamanite blood is so diluted among the Mongoloid that the Hebrew is no longer detectable, than who is left to claim the blessings?
Nevermind that it's not just a few "GAs" who have held the old paradigm over the years. Almost every South American temple dedicatory prayer has made reference to the people as being connected to Lehi. Those prayers have been offered primarily by President Hinckley.


The percentage of blood is not important to the promise. Most Native Americans can be descendants of Lehi without being able to detect such descendancy through DNA. But the promises are still intact, and even if this or that person doesn't have any Lehite ancestry, it's simple enough to adopt them spiritually, just as Gentiles can be adopted into the house of Israel (a New Testament concept, as well as a modern LDS doctrine).

Think outside the fundamentalist box.

Your explanation is at best an unprovable hypothesis. At worst, it's an obviously disingenious attempt to create new history. And that's not truth in my book.

Faith, but its very definition, is believing in something that cannot be proved scientifically. To believe in the BofM requires a measure of faith. Evidence can be provided for its truth (and much evidence has come to light, especially recently, and especially in the Arabian peninsula), but no amount of evidence will ever be produced to rise to the level of absolute proof.

And think what you will of me or my beliefs, but I would request that you not accuse me of lying (making a "disingenuous attempt").

I hope, perhaps, this can put a new perspective on things for you. I would be gratified if perhaps your heart wasn't so hardened that you would be willing to admit that perhaps there is another way of approaching matters of faith than you previously did.

BYU Gestapo said...

Yep, I was right: Fundamentalist assumptions. Mormon doctrine does not claim, and never has claimed, to have all of the "Universal truth" you thought it did.

If God's "One true Church" isn't universally true than why have only one Church? If thinking like that makes me a "Fundamentalist" as you put it than I'm guilty as charged.

I believe truth shouldn't be relative. You shouldn't be able to find truth were other truths contradict it, regardless of the source of that truth.

What a sad commentary that LDS Theology can't live up to that standard. Call it fundamentalist all you want, but what your comments really show is that you love the Mormon Church above all, and you want your reality to conform to it.


Faith, but its very definition, is believing in something that cannot be proved scientifically.

Actually the dictionary says: "Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing."

What instills confidence? I've never needed or asked for absolute proof as you put it. If that were the case I would have never joined the Church. But when faced with completely contradictory evidence one faces a crisis of that confidence.

It shouldn't matter where that evidence comes from if it's solid.

If you actually read Dr. Woodward's work, or hell even FARMS, they don't actually attack the data just the conclusions. They admit that you have to now have Limited Geography Theory to make all the pieces fit.

So please don't be so naive to argue that the data/evidence is incomplete or wrong. If it was Woodward would be shouting it from the rooftops.

BTW...I was at BYU when he started the Human Genetics project and even helped in the lab for a short time. I was also there when BYU shut it down. Why was that I wonder? The project didn't end...it's at Sorenson now. BYU must not have liked the results.

Conjecture perhaps...I'll admit that.

And think what you will of me or my beliefs, but I would request that you not accuse me of lying (making a "disingenuous attempt").

About the word disingenuous, it's defined as: Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating.

I'm assuming you don't have any formal expertise in Molecular Biology or genetics. If that's true than your statements about the evidence are not candid and are not straightforward. ie; you really DONT know what your talking about.

Is that lying? On a small scale maybe. I can think of worse things. So save the indignation.

I OTH have 6 years under my belt in the lab in addition to my coursework. I generate the same data we're arguing about every day. I have a hands on idea of how powerful and accurate it is.

That at a minimum qualifies me to comment.

Mike Parker said...

BYU Gestapo's fundamentalist assumptions are nothing new. Joseph Smith struggled with the same problem:

But there has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a [pancake] for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a [mallet]. Even the Saints are slow to understand.

I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all.


(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 331.)

Bookslinger said...

BYU Gestapo:

Whatever.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Indy:

Whatever what? Please specify.

To Mike:

Do you know the context of that quote? It was during the time polygamy was being practiced in secret and the notion of making the practice generally known weighed on Joseph quite a lot.

Polygamy caused quite the dissension and head scratching among the members of the Church. I'm sure I don't have to explain the ripples Emma made. That effect is still going on today.

So my point is are you really surprised when certain notions will simply not be accepted by the majority of people? Shouldn't that tell you something?

You're right about one thing, religious people have always wondered why secular people simply won't "believe." Joseph was not immune. He couldn't even get religious people to fall in line with some of his "higher notions."

So, to get this points back on the original subject, I'd like you to go back to "taking the offensive" and address my points without resorting to:

You can't believe in absolutes/you should listen to the prophet.


I already shown by leaving the Church I can look at the world in a very new unexpected way. I can do it again.

So enlighten me...

Bookslinger said...

Sorry, I can't help myself. BYU Gestapo apparently hasn't read my "pet theory" under other posts, so I just _have_ to repeat it here.

When God put the dark skin on the Lamanites He had to make genetic changes so that it would be passed on to their seed. And while He was working on their DNA, and because He is Omnipotent, He probably just changed some more sequences to match up with the Asians.

And as He is Omniscient too, He knew we'd be having this conversation, so He may have done the above just to test the faith of those who jump to conclusions.

Who knows, maybe the Asians themselves don't have "original factory" DNA parts either.

For that matter, none of us do, or else we'd all be living 700 to 900 years like the pre-Noah people.

If He can raise the dead, and turn water into wine, and multiply fishes and loaves, He can certainly alter someone's DNA.

If one accepts that we are all descendents of Adam and Eve, then "the Hand of God" is one possible explanation why all women don't have Eve's mtDNA and all men don't have Adam's Y chromosome.

Remember that the Book of Morman is less than 1/100th part of the original records. LOTS has been left out. The explanations may be in that 99% that was left out. The explanations may be in what happened AFTER Moroni finished it up! We just don't know.

I believe in these four fundamental things:

1) God can do whatever He wants.
2) Whatever He wants is in accordance with eternal Justice and Truth.
3) He doesn't have to tell us _that_ He has done something.
4) He doesn't have to tell us _why_ He has done something.

Gestapo: Like every other "discrepancy" thrown at the Book of Mormon over the last 175 years, this one won't stick either. Just like the accusations about writings on metal plates, barley, steel, horses, whatever, it eventually gets explained.

Mike Parker said...

For what it's worth, I disagree with Books of Mormon Indy and think his interpretation relies on an unnecessary appeal to the supernatural.

Mike Parker said...

BYU Gestapo: If God's "One true Church" isn't universally true than why have only one Church? If thinking like that makes me a "Fundamentalist" as you put it than I'm guilty as charged.

Just because this is God's Church doesn't mean that He has revealed all truth, or enforces the correct understanding of every principle. The purpose of the Church is to bring back the authority, ordinances, and revelation necessary to exalt mankind, not to enforce some sort of perfectionist doctrinal kingdom. God reveals just enough to save us, and leaves the rest up to us to sort out for ourselves. Just because the Saints have some beliefs or interpretations that are not "universally true" (whatever that means) does not mean that the Church should be discarded.

This is the Church of Jesus Christ, not the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi.

I believe truth shouldn't be relative. You shouldn't be able to find truth were other truths contradict it, regardless of the source of that truth.

Of course not. The problem is separating truth from theory, assumption, or conventional wisdom. DNA and the Book of Mormon can exist happily, side by side, as long as one is willing to jettison false assumptions about what the Book of Mormon says ... and what DNA is able to prove.

What a sad commentary that LDS Theology can't live up to that standard. Call it fundamentalist all you want, but what your comments really show is that you love the Mormon Church above all, and you want your reality to conform to it.

Your mind-reading skills must be quite powerful if you know what I want and love.

The sad commentary here is that LDS theology didn't live up to your assumptions of what it should be. Your rigid beliefs crumbled rather than adapting to new, better understandings.

"Faith, but its very definition, is believing in something that cannot be proved scientifically." Actually the dictionary says: "Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing."

Your appeal to Websters is overly simplistic. Here's a more explicit definition:

"The word faith has various uses; its central meaning is similar to 'belief', 'trust' or 'confidence', but unlike these terms, 'faith' tends to imply a transpersonal rather than interpersonal relationship — with God or a higher power. The object of faith can be a person (or even an inanimate object or state of affairs) or a proposition (or body of propositions, such as a religious credo). In each case, however, the faithful subject's faith is in an aspect of the object that cannot be rationally proven or objectively known." (Emphasis added.)

What instills confidence? I've never needed or asked for absolute proof as you put it. If that were the case I would have never joined the Church. But when faced with completely contradictory evidence one faces a crisis of that confidence.
It shouldn't matter where that evidence comes from if it's solid.


But, again, the problem here is not the evidence, but how the evidence affected your rigid assumptions of the world of the Book of Mormon. DNA evidence doesn't "completely contradict" the BofM, just your interpretation of it.

If you actually read Dr. Woodward's work, or hell even FARMS, they don't actually attack the data just the conclusions. They admit that you have to now have Limited Geography Theory to make all the pieces fit.

What we now call the "Limited Geography Theory" is an understanding of the world of the BofM that goes back at least 100 years, and possibly as far back as Joseph Smith himself. It's been gaining popularity since the 1950s, as people have read the book trying to see what it says, not what others have said about it. But it is far from new, and certainly not a theory concocted to deal with the DNA "threat."

So please don't be so naive to argue that the data/evidence is incomplete or wrong. If it was Woodward would be shouting it from the rooftops.

I stated previously that it would be silly to argue that the DNA evidence is wrong. It is the assumption that it can identify a single ancestor 2600 years ago that is wrong.

BTW...I was at BYU when he started the Human Genetics project and even helped in the lab for a short time. I was also there when BYU shut it down. Why was that I wonder? The project didn't end...it's at Sorenson now. BYU must not have liked the results. Conjecture perhaps...I'll admit that.

I'm not sure what this has to do with the Book of Mormon, but it does speak volumes as to the conspiracy mindset of those who leave the Church.

For what it's worth, BYU's DNA Sequencing Center is still open and working. I don't think people at BYU or the Church are afraid of DNA research.

"And think what you will of me or my beliefs, but I would request that you not accuse me of lying (making a 'disingenuous attempt')."
About the word disingenuous, it's defined as: Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating.


It's the "not candid" and "calculating" parts that I object to. They both presume lack of honesty and forthrightness — i.e., lying.

I'm assuming you don't have any formal expertise in Molecular Biology or genetics. If that's true than your statements about the evidence are not candid and are not straightforward. ie; you really DONT know what your talking about. Is that lying? On a small scale maybe. I can think of worse things. So save the indignation.

Well, I'm certainly not going to sit here and let you attack my character and honesty. I believe you are mistaken, but I would never question your sincerity. I would request the same from you.

I OTH have 6 years under my belt in the lab in addition to my coursework. I generate the same data we're arguing about every day. I have a hands on idea of how powerful and accurate it is.
That at a minimum qualifies me to comment.


I don't question your understanding of DNA, I question your understanding of the Book of Mormon and what it says.

Do you know the context of that quote? It was during the time polygamy was being practiced in secret and the notion of making the practice generally known weighed on Joseph quite a lot.

Actually, the context was "building...temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead...." But it seems that you prefer to fall back on the critics' contention that everything Joseph Smith ever taught comes back to polygamy. Without evidence or context, in this case.

So, to get this points back on the original subject, I'd like you to go back to "taking the offensive" and address my points....

I believe I have, starting with my first post. You're just not interacting with them.

Please tell me, if you are so sure: Where in the BofM does it say that Lehi was the sole descendant of all modern Native Americans?

(And don't bother with the current introductory page; that was written in 1981 and is not part of the revealed text.)

Bookslinger said...

Mike,
Whether or not God had a hand in altering the DNA of the Lamanites or of the Asians, he must have had a hand somewhere.

Aren't we to believe that we are all descended from one of Noah's 3 son's and their wives?

Aren't we to believe that we are descended from Adam and Eve?

How did genetic differences then get introduced into the human race?

Are there possibilities besides 1) spontaneous mutations and 2) Hand of God?

I appeal to the supernatural every time I pray. I believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, intepretation of tongues, and so forth. I believe God can raise people up from the dead back to mortality (like Lazarus) and resurrect people to become immortal beings (like Moroni). Altering DNA has to fit in their somewhere.

But, coming back to a more mundane level, what do you think of my assertion, that if we are to take Nephi at face value, that God put a dark skin on the Lamanites, that should continue on their seed and the seed of anyone who mixes his seed with them (ie., intermarries), isn't that by definition a genetic alteration?

Mike Parker said...

Books of Mormon in Indy,

I apologize; allow me to clarify what I meant: I don't believe that we should never appeal to the supernatural, just that we should not appeal to the supernatural unnecessarily.

I don't think it's necessary to postulate the God changed the Lamanites' DNA sequencing. To do so begs the question, why? So it would look like Asiatic DNA? Why bother?

I think the skin color change is much more easily explained by Laman and his followers intermarrying with local indigenous peoples. This also explains why that mark would be perpetuated among those who "mixed their seed with them."

BYU Gestapo said...

First off Mike, thank you for addressing my points. I hope you and I can both agree this is healthy civil dialog.

I think of Universal truth as meaning that whatever truth you have, it should always be consistent. If it's really, really true that will be the case. I don't mean to argue that you have to have ALL truth to be Universal...my apologies. But what the Church in an official capacity ie; BOM/Canon/Scriptual should be consistent with any other truth you can find...regardless of the source.

For what it's worth, BYU's DNA Sequencing Center is still open and working. I don't think people at BYU or the Church are afraid of DNA research.

The sequencing center is simply a lab with what's called an ABI 3730 sequencing machine. It is not Woodwards lab at all. It is simply an economical way of giving access to a $400,000 machine to all the labs in the BioAg department. I've used that lab for my research many, many times.

Not trying to be too picky there, but the distinction is important.

Although I agree that my idea of Woodward's lab being shut down has a conspiratorial mood to it, it's not without reason or evidence. I knew personally 3 of the head techs in his lab and as previously mentioned helped them out myself for a short time. The details of that experience are for another night.

Point is that BYU did believe there were issues with his research. My conjecture (ephasis on that btw) is that it had to do with the results.

My comments on Joseph Smith were simply to be taken as during a period of obvious stress and direct relevance to polygamy Joseph uttered those statements. What I said is thoroughly, thoroughly backed by evidence including Joseph himself. The "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith" Chapter heading that you referred to gives a true, yet incomplete discription of the happenings at that time.

I stated previously that it would be silly to argue that the DNA evidence is wrong. It is the assumption that it can identify a single ancestor 2600 years ago that is wrong.

Why would we have to identify a single ancestor? The genetic distance between a people like the Hebrew and the Asians is so large that a mixing of the two, even a small one would show up big time.

As a side note, Lehi doesn't matter, Sariah and the daughters of Ishmael matter, but that's being picky.

mtDNA analysis is more than accurate enough to determine if a party the size of Lehi's made a contribution to the gene pool.

In fact, the original colonizers from Asia would have been pushing it to have a group as big as Lehi's. Never mind that the BOM speaks of Millions of Nephites and Lamanites dueling it out in the end.

The only plausible explanation is that ALL of Lehi's children died out.

Beyond the "principal ancestor" comment in the title page that McConkey gave us. Never mind that the comment is still technically canon and that it disparages your idea that LGT has been popular for 50 years.

Besides all that, there are an abundance of comments by Apostles, 1st presidency, prophet that all clearly show they believe the contemporary Native Americans to be Lehi's Children. These are the very same Native Americans who's DNA is Mongoloid.

So where does that leave us?

Forgive me Indy, but even the truest believer would see your argument as rediculous. What kind of God would we have if he had to jump through so many hoops to make his truth...well...truth?

Bookslinger said...

BYU Gestapo:
I don't think you're going to change your mind based on what some anonymous or semi-anonymous guys like us say on someone's blog. So, whatever you want to believe is fine.

The other night I had someone politely hand back a Book of Mormon to me because he flipped through it, found a passage that said the Jews will return to their promised land (he translated it heaven), and he said he didn't believe the Jews were going to heaven.

I also know that man to be compassionate to strangers because the previous week I saw him go out of his way to help a lost trucker with directions.

I am desirous to respect the religious belief of an anti-semitic Muslim. I am desirous to respect your religious beliefs, no matter how profoundly I disagree.

I've often fallen into the blog trap of wanting to be a white knight charging to the defense of Truth, Justice, and The One True Way. I sometimes forget that my One True Way may not be what others think of as their One True way. And of course we all have the right to believe and assert and put forth that Our way is The way.

So if you want to adjust your religious beliefs based on what you think the Book of Mormon says or implies, and what the DNA evidence indicates, that's fine.

However, I hope you do realize that what you deduce from the BoM markedly differs from others. One can deduce things from the BoM in such a way as to accomodate the DNA evidence and still be in full faith.

Also, we just don't know the Pre and Post Book of Mormon History of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. There is lots of history we just don't know.

We don't know the genetic history of the Asian peoples. We don't know how they relate to Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

By the way, do you still believe in the Bible? (Honest question.)

We don't know the DNA of the women whom the sons of Jacob/Israel married.

We don't know who Sariah was, or who Mrs. Ishmael was.

We really don't know what happened to the Lamanites after Nephi split, because they didn't keep records, or if they did, we don't have them.

We don't know what happened after Moroni buried the plates.

We don't know the fate of the 10 Northern Tribes who got carried off to Assyria. We don't know their DNA, or where it went.

We don't know how much the Jews (and the remnants of other tribes) mixed in with the Babylonians and later the Persians. We can assume it happened at least a little. We don't know the history of the Jews who remained in Babylon after Cyrus and Darius allowed a couple groups to return to Palestine.

The main thing I think we can conclude is that Abraham's DNA got spread over a heck of a large area and through many many people.

Another genetic reality that we fail to verbalize is the mixture of European/Spanish genetic material in with the native peoples.

There are very few pure native americans left who don't have any European (especially Spanish) blood. The vast majority of the people that the church calls Lamanite, are probably at least 50% European by ancestry. Mestizo is the word most commonly used in the past, but it may not be politically correct now.

I forget which was more common, Spanish men marrying Indian women, or Spanish women marrying Indian men. Probably the former.

By the way, did the DNA studies use _pure_ native american Indians, or did the studies use Mestizos?

Bookslinger said...

BYU Gestapo:
We don't really know what "Hebrew" DNA is. The Jews of today are ostensibly tribe of Judah. Lehi was tribe of Joseph.

But the fact that we don't know who the women (Sariah, Mrs. Ishmael, etc) were, to me at least, blows the whole mtDNA arguments out of the water.

And I would not characterize God altering DNA as jumping through hoops. God knows the human genome like you know the back of your hand. He created the heavens and the earth, and all things that are in them. At His command the sea parted, manna came down from heaven, thousands of the enemies of Israel dropped dead, the wind and the waves cease, and the dead came forth from the grave. Altering the DNA of a handful of people would seem easier to me than reconstituting the rotting corpse of Lazarus into a living human being.

I believe in outright miracles. I believe that God can do anything that He deems good. I don't know what all He would do or could do, other than to say "anything."

I don't know the mind of God. So when it comes to altering DNA, I have to put it under the column "God could do that if he wanted to."

For you to imply "God wouldn't do that" implies that you do know the mind of God.

---------

Mike: "Why bother?" I dunno. Same thing with dinosaur fossils that appear to pre-date the Fall (4000 BC). Maybe God does things just to put stumbling blocks out there.

Thanks for the explanation of the possibility of the skin color coming from mixing with pre-existing indigenous peoples. I hadn't heard that one, and it certainly is possible.

To God, there is no supernatural, it's all spiritual, right? There are no "miracles" per se, since God operates upon the natual laws of existence. We call things miracles because we don't know or understand the principles of their operation. 30 years ago, cell phone technology would have been a miracle.

I've seen so many "miracles" in the past 3 years that I'm in an almost constant state of amazement.

I also believe that God gave directions to Nephi about what to leave out of the small plates, and to Mormon about what to leave out of the abridgement. It will be fascinating to learn the missing pieces of the puzzle some day.

Mike Parker said...

First off Mike, thank you for addressing my points. I hope you and I can both agree this is healthy civil dialog.

Thank you. I would like to think so, too.

I think of Universal truth as meaning that whatever truth you have, it should always be consistent. If it's really, really true that will be the case. I don't mean to argue that you have to have ALL truth to be Universal...my apologies. But what the Church in an official capacity ie; BOM/Canon/Scriptual should be consistent with any other truth you can find...regardless of the source.

This assumes (a) that current scientific understanding is always correct and will never be revised; (b) that any one person (such as yourself) correctly understands the current science; (c) that prophets are infallible and never introduce errors into their written revelations; and (d) that revelation is given on matters of science.

I reject all four premises, and can give you quotes from Church leaders that C and D are not believed by the Church. As for A and B, as a scientist you should know that scientific knowledge is always advancing and that today's truths sometimes (even often) end up being tomorrow's quaint beliefs.

The sequencing center is simply a lab with what's called an ABI 3730 sequencing machine. It is not Woodwards lab at all. It is simply an economical way of giving access to a $400,000 machine to all the labs in the BioAg department. I've used that lab for my research many, many times.
Not trying to be too picky there, but the distinction is important.
Although I agree that my idea of Woodward's lab being shut down has a conspiratorial mood to it, it's not without reason or evidence. I knew personally 3 of the head techs in his lab and as previously mentioned helped them out myself for a short time. The details of that experience are for another night.
Point is that BYU did believe there were issues with his research. My conjecture (ephasis on that btw) is that it had to do with the results.


Thank you for clarifying this. I'm not sure what it has to do with BofM research; perhaps you can enlighten me.

My comments on Joseph Smith were simply to be taken as during a period of obvious stress and direct relevance to polygamy Joseph uttered those statements. What I said is thoroughly, thoroughly backed by evidence including Joseph himself. The "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith" Chapter heading that you referred to gives a true, yet incomplete discription of the happenings at that time.

I was not quoting the chapter heading, but his complaint four paragraphs before. While I'm sure he was concerned about polygamy at the time, his immediate comments were with regards to the temple ordinances.

I any case, the issue remains the same: There are many who think the gospel and the Church should be such-and-such, and too often what they really are is at odds with that. So the only two options are to experience a paradigm shift and incorporate the new, correct understanding, or reject it because it was not what one thought it was. I have chosen the former, while you have chosen the latter.

Why would we have to identify a single ancestor? The genetic distance between a people like the Hebrew and the Asians is so large that a mixing of the two, even a small one would show up big time.

Michael Whiting, John Butler, Jeffrey Meldrum, Trent Stephens, and Ryan Parr all disagree with you.

As a side note, Lehi doesn't matter, Sariah and the daughters of Ishmael matter, but that's being picky.

Unless one is looking for Lehi's Y chromosome.

mtDNA analysis is more than accurate enough to determine if a party the size of Lehi's made a contribution to the gene pool.
In fact, the original colonizers from Asia would have been pushing it to have a group as big as Lehi's.


Except that the original colonizers from Asia came across (according to current science), 50,000 years ago. Their existing population in 570 B.C. would have been enormous, with more than enough genetic material to swallow a handful of Lehites.

Never mind that the BOM speaks of Millions of Nephites and Lamanites dueling it out in the end.

Technically 230,000 Nephites against a larger force of Lamanites (Mormon 6:10-15).

Since the Nephites were all wiped out, there would be no descendants to test for DNA.

Since the Lamanites had — very early on — intermarried with indigenous peoples, their genetic signature would have been lost long before we get to the final battles. (Keep in mind that the BofM's use of the term "Lamanite" is not just blood relationship, but cultural and societal.)

The only plausible explanation is that ALL of Lehi's children died out.

I disagree.

Beyond the "principal ancestor" comment in the title page that McConkey gave us. Never mind that the comment is still technically canon and that it disparages your idea that LGT has been popular for 50 years.

Based on your last comment, I don't believe you are familiar with the literature surrounding the LGT and the history of its development. I would recommend John Sorenson's The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book. He has compiled every comment made by every Latter-day Saint leader or published author since the 1830s. Joseph Smith's final comment about BofM locations indicates he believed it was in Mesoamerica, and several prominent Latter-day Saints postulated limited geographical settings in the nineteenth century. The modern movement began with Jakeman and Sorenson in the 1950s, and has received nearly universal acceptance since then. (One simple proof is that Book of Mormon tours conducted by Latter-day Saints always seem to end up in Mesoamerica, and never go to Tierra del Fuego or Yellowknife.)

Besides all that, there are an abundance of comments by Apostles, 1st presidency, prophet that all clearly show they believe the contemporary Native Americans to be Lehi's Children. These are the very same Native Americans who's DNA is Mongoloid.

Again, your fundamentalist assumption is that LDS general authorities are infallible in their understanding of Book of Mormon geography and DNA genetics. No one is claiming this but you.

And I addressed this issue in a previous post. Did you see my comments about blood percentage, promises, and adoption?

So where does that leave us?

It leaves us with a fundamental disagreement on the nature of prophets and prophecy:

I'm willing to admit that both are subject to imperfections because the human element in revelatory transmittal; therefore prophets can misunderstand the geography of the Book of Mormon; therefore what the BofM actual says about itself does not conflict with DNA evidence.

It appears you require the most rigid and inflexible interpretation of the BofM, one that cannot stand up in the face of DNA analysis; therefore the Church must be false.

I'm saddened that you're apparently willing to readily discard your faith instead of moving to a deeper understanding of it.

Mike Parker said...

Books of Mormon in Indy: "Why bother?" I dunno. Same thing with dinosaur fossils that appear to pre-date the Fall (4000 BC). Maybe God does things just to put stumbling blocks out there.

This goes to the fundamentalist assumption that the Earth was created in 6 periods of no longer than 1000 years each, and that the chronology of the Old Testament is correct.

I reject both, so I don't have a problem with extinction-level events taking place over hundreds of millions of years.

And don't ask me what I think of Noah and ark. :-)

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo, I'm curious as to how you respond to the various essays published on the topic of DNA and the Book of Mormon by FARMS -- particularly those authored by Drs. John Butler, Michael Whiting, and David McClellan. (There's another one due out in a month or two by a biological anthropologist based in eastern Canada.) They don't seem to think that the science requires your conclusion.

And I'm also wondering about your response to the companion essays, on interpreting the data of the Book of Mormon itself (relative to geography, populations, and descent), by Matt Roper and others.

Stephen said...

BYU Gestapo is typical of a different class of those who attack the Church.

If they follow their positions honestly, they have to reject the Bible and Christ as well. I've actually seen that happen.

But generally, they are trolls, claiming knowledge of details that are false.

E.g. that limited geography is a brand new concept, not supported by the actual text of the book.

BTW, quick, how many men did a Centurion command?

..

..

..

Usually 40 to 70 (even though the term means commander of a hundred), and even fewer in times of heavy attrition.

How often when a unit is "destroyed" in many ancient writings, does that mean more than about a 15% or so casualty rate?

Rarely, and generally when it does there is more commentary.

Anyway, interesting thread, but:

Shadow Spawn said...

your key phrase was " I think it's a good approach if the person raising the attacks is sincere."


Really hits the nail on the head.

We could probably use a good thread about the typical troll (I've dealt with a lot of them that turned out not to have the credential or experience they claimed as they flogged what they thought was a "magic bullet" attack on the Church).

You can spot them because they are dogged on their magic bullet, they claim special ties to it in an LDS context (often incorrect) and they espouse rejections that are based in pure fantasy (such as the claim, here, that the limited geography approach is a very recent addition, completely unsupported by the text, whereas the original limited geography types came to that by reading the text).

Bookslinger said...

Mike, Note that I said the _fall_, not the creation. The _fall_ is generally believed by LDS authorities to be approx 4,000 BC. That says nothing about the creation. There was no death in this creation prior to the fall.

My pet theory about dinosaurs is that they are remnants of a _previous_ creation. IE, God used recycled materials when he said "here are materials, let us..."

BYU Gestapo said...

To Mike:

I'm guessing the concise version of our disagreement lies in the Fundamentalist/Progressive approach. I'd like to step back and focus on that for a bit.

I set my standards for the Prophets, the Church et al because they claim they have authority and they demand my obedience to it. If the Church offered advice as a suggestion, not a commandment I would care a great deal less.

Someone who holds authority must be accountable for how they use that authority right? Unrighteous dominion and all that.

So why can't I hold the brethren accountable if they get it wrong? It's not like a single apostle like McConkey for example was spouting, they all collectively got it wrong.

Being a progressive from what I gather from you is being willing to roll with ALL the punches, ALL the changes. To the rest of us, it appears as you've gone in with the decision already made. Whatever scenario is required to make the Church okay you think of.

To me the problem with that is that there are unlimited ways to create "Solution scenarios." That means the Church could present any scale of onerous inconsistencies and there will be people who will find a justification.

Let me give you an example, we're taught that the millenium is nie. We dont' exactly when it's coming, but it's close. So what would happen if 100 years went by and no millenium? What about 500 years? Could the Church still be true in 1000 years from now our descendants were still mortal and death pervaded the world?

I'm confident there will be some that will still find that okay. Because unless you entertain the idea at some point that a belief COULD be wrong, you'll always find a way to make it right.

Not that you throw out a belief because it's not completely clear. This is where you misunderstand me. I was with the Church 20 years and was find with that status quo.

But when you find a weighty, strong piece of contrary information, you at a minimum should entertain the notion that your belief was wrong. Just entertain it.

Ultimately, the DNA issue for me set off a cascade of reevaluation. In the end to me it seemed clear that the body of the evidence pointed to the Church not containing revelation, nor authority, and was simply another belief system like all the others.
after the DNA data came out.

I wouldn't call that rigid fundamentalism. I'm not trying to take the Church back to it's roots and restore polygamy. But the core, core engine that runs the Church is Authority and Revelation.

If I believe that the Church has neither than what am I left with? I'm not trying to take the Church back to an original state, I have no Church left.

I would suggest as an excercise that you try to imagine for a second that the Church wasn't true. How would all it's history and doctrine fit? Could it?

I think you'd be surprised at the results.

It was my conclusion obviously that the "data," as it were, fit so much better and made much more sense that the Church wasn't what it claimed.

Daniel Peterson said...

Again, I'm curious about responses to the arguments by Matt Roper, John Tvedtnes, Michael Whiting, John Sorenson, David McLellan, John Butler, Trent Stephens, Jeffrey Meldrum, Blake Ostler, Scott Woodward, and others on this issue.

None of these people sees any very strong reason to abandon Mormonism in current DNA studies. (And there is at least one more article slated to come out on the topic, from a biological anthropologist, a specialist in Amerindian DNA, who likewise sees this as a misguided tempest in a teapot.)

That Amerindian DNA at present offers no very strong support for the Book of Mormon -- and perhaps no support at all -- is true. That the data right now are consistent with the falsity of the Book of Mormon is also true. But the data are consistent with several possible scenarios, of which the falsity of the Book of Mormon is only one. And there exists other data (the compelling testimonies of the Witnesses, to take just one example of many) that is extraordinarily difficult to reconcile with the hypothetical falsehood of the Book of Mormon.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Daniel Peterson,

Are you THE Daniel Peterson from FARMS? That would be crazy.

I have with me an article by Dr. Whiting right in front of me that I'd be more than happy to comment on. I know this one is a couple of years old, but I think it's still perfectly relevant.

It's the "DNA and the Book of Mormon: a Phylogenetic perspective" from the Book of Mormon Studies journal published by FARMS, Volume 12, Number 1, 2003.

For the sake of time I'll try to just focus on one article.

First off my main contention is there is very little of anything "Phylogenetic" in the article.

The article does not articulate the pros and cons of Maximum Likelyhood, Bayesian analysis, Bootstrapping, cladistic distance or radiation etc... This may not sound fair, but although Dr. Whiting published a great article on the cladistics of insect wing variations, my suspicion is that he relied heavily on Dr. Keith Crandall at BYU to work through the actual analysis.

Dr. Crandall is very impressive actually and I had him as a professor. All phylogenetic analysis at BYU almost always passes through him.

So I think Dr. Whiting starts off with a bit of a misrepresentation that loses him credibility.

The article begins by asserting that DNA BOM research is probably not fundable with Federal money and that the authenticity of whether the BOM is true or false is not testable.

He claims that the data collected was never intended to be applied to the hypothesis because the BOM "lies within the realm of Religion and outside the realm of Science."

He then gives an overview of the "Global Colonization hypothesis" and the "Local Colonization hypothesis." These are in reality the traditional view of the BOM vs. Limited Geography Theory.

He then focuses on the complications that can arrive with testing the Local Colonization hypothesis. They are:

1. Was there a unique, Middle Eastern genetic signature in the source population?
2. Were genetic variants present in the colonizers?
3. How do you know that small founder size does not confound your results?
4. What are the affects of genetic drift?
5. What were the effects of the colonizers' arriving to a locality that was not a complete genetic island(ie, other humans were present and could contribute to the gene pool)?
6.What were the effects of gene flow after the Book of Mormon ends?
7.How do you account for the difficulties associated with a small population range?
8. Who are the extant genetic descendants of the Lamanite lineage?
9. How do you identify unamigously the Middle Eastern population that contains the ancestral genetic signature that you will use for comparision?
10. Has natrual selection changed the genetic signature?

Okay, so one at a time this is how I'd respond:

1. It would highly, highly unlikely and here's why... Lehi claimed to have a direct lineage to Joseph who was the great-grandson of Abraham. All "Middle-Eastern" (That's not including the persians, think Iran for example)people claim a connection to Abraham. Therefore there is a common ancestor for all of them. It's silly to believe that Hebrew men would have married women outside of the covenant. So Sariah and the Daughters of Ishmael are are highly unlikely to not be daughters of Abraham.

2. This is a misleading question...mtDNA and the non recombinant are of the Y chromosome vary..very, very little. They do not recombine. So any intra-familial variation would be very small and irrelevant. Also, an "Outsider" being introduced such as a non-Abrahamite has been covered in #1

3. This is a poorly formed question. Whiting further explains that "Such small population sizes would have had profound effects on how the genetic markers changed over time." What he's speaking of is the Bottleneck and/or Founder effect. The idea is that a small population leads to dimished representation of the population that the group came from. For example, Lehi et al would not show the full spectrum of the Hebrew gene pool, just a slice. That slice would still be very, very detectable and would be ubiquitous through all of his descendents.

4. This and question #10 are really the same. Both genetic drift and natural selection cause genetic change. Genetic drift through neutral mutations and natural selection through both positive and deleterious mutations.

The bottom line is how does change over time affect the analysis? Well again, the beauty of non-recombinant DNA is that you only accumulate point mutations. The rate of accumulation is also very measurable. In fact it's this slow steady changing that allows us to infer relationships between different groups. It's the core of the analysis.

5. Well, if you mixed you'd get a mix, if you didn't mix then are there any Lehites left? We've measured every represented tribe from North and South America. The results showed 99.4% to be Mongoloid. The other .6% is European.

The relatively small, and recent contribution by the Europeans shows up clearly. So would the contribution by Lehi's group.

In the assertion that it's possible and even probable that the Lehite contribution could be diluted to the point of undetectability FARMS is being disingenious. They know better.

6. Whiting asks further on in the article here, "Is it preposterous to suppose that there hass been commplete genetic isolation in the lamanite lineage during this time period?"

Yes, it is. If the numbers of surviving Lamanites is correct it certainly is. Are we really to believe that every Lamanite kept it in his pants that whole time? These were the depraved remember. Geographic isolation is frankly out of the question. The "other" peoples as it were covered the entire territory.

If Lamanites did exist, the co-existed with the Mongoloid.

7. Same answer as six, even if the Lehites had little land either they intermingled or they died out. It has to be one of the two.

8. Good question. Since we've sampled hundreds of represented tribes over all, and I mean ALL of North and South America and taken tens of thousands of samples, who is left to sample? Are we to believe that the answer lies anywhere other than the Americas? Just because we haven't produced the desired results doesn't mean that the sampling was inadequate.

9. This is easy, if we perhaps found a set of markers that matched with no one this might be an issue. We don't have to prove that the Indians were NOT Hebrew if we can prove that they WERE Mongoloid.

Besides, the beauty of phylogenetic analysis is that you can trace changes that have happened in the past. The Hebrew of today have not had enough time to change enough to be overwhelmingly different than a branch that left Jerusalem in 600 bc.

10. See number 4.


Whiting does a terrible job here. Either he's hiding his knowledge of phylogenetics or he just plain doesn't know it himself.

He glosses over any actual data that has been found and refuses to address it by saying you can't measure the authenticy of the BOM with Science. Then he moves on to offer incomplete scientific justifications to explain why things are still inconclusive.

My home teacher brought me that issue of Journal of Book of Mormon studies when he discovered my doubts. FARMS has done more damage to my testimony than anything else has.

When I saw how weak the Church's response was to the issue I knew I was in the wrong place.

Mike Parker said...

Books of Mormon in Indy: There was no death in this creation prior to the fall.

That interpretation is common among Latter-day Saints because Joseph Fielding Smith advocated strongly for it (in Man: His Origin and Destiny), based on his reading of a handful of scriptures.

However, other general authorities have rejected that reading, notably James E. Talmage and John Widtsoe. The reason that JFS's position became the de facto interpretation is that his writings (and those of his son-in-law, Bruce R. McConkie) came later, were more forceful, and ended up in Church manuals.

Personally I don't believe the fossil record supports a "no death before 4000 B.C." position. And I also think that one can accept evolution and an old earth and still be a believing Latter-day Saint (at least I hope so, for I do).

Mike Parker said...

BYU Gestapo,

Thank you for that last reply to me. I think we're getting to the nub of the issue here.

You wrote:

I'm guessing the concise version of our disagreement lies in the Fundamentalist/Progressive approach. I'd like to step back and focus on that for a bit.
I set my standards for the Prophets, the Church et al because they claim they have authority and they demand my obedience to it. If the Church offered advice as a suggestion, not a commandment I would care a great deal less.
Someone who holds authority must be accountable for how they use that authority right? Unrighteous dominion and all that.
So why can't I hold the brethren accountable if they get it wrong? It's not like a single apostle like McConkey for example was spouting, they all collectively got it wrong.


Herein lies the problem. How correct do LDS leaders need to be for the Church to be true? Do they have to be infallible (i.e., everything any one of them ever said about, say, BofM geography, has to be scientifically valid)? Or can they be right about the core issues — restoration of keys, authority to perform essential saving ordinances, etc. — and have their own opinions, right and wrong, on peripheral issues?

My contention (and my faith) is with the latter.

"I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught. Must I, then, be thrown away as a thing of naught?" — Joseph Smith (HC 6:366)

Being a progressive from what I gather from you is being willing to roll with ALL the punches, ALL the changes. To the rest of us, it appears as you've gone in with the decision already made. Whatever scenario is required to make the Church okay you think of.
To me the problem with that is that there are unlimited ways to create "Solution scenarios." That means the Church could present any scale of onerous inconsistencies and there will be people who will find a justification.


I am not nearly so malleable. There are core things about the gospel that cannot change, and there are peripheral things that can. Theories about BofM geography have never been the subject of revelation, and are therefore not core; leaders and laity are free to believe whatever they want.

Let me give you an example, we're taught that the millenium is nie. We dont' exactly when it's coming, but it's close. So what would happen if 100 years went by and no millenium? What about 500 years? Could the Church still be true in 1000 years from now our descendants were still mortal and death pervaded the world?

This is a wonderful example, because it illustrates the difference between revelation and men's interpretation of that revelation.

The early revelations in the D&C frequently warn that the second coming is near at hand. They don't give an exact date, but the warning is clear. People then began to speculate (as people are wont to do) about what that means. Many took a "it's just a few years hence" approach, and ended up being wrong. Joseph Smith himself struggled with this — he asked repeatedly, and was finally given an enigmatic reply and told to stop asking (D&C 130:14-17). And even the apostle Paul — 2000 years ago — thought it was going to be in his lifetime (in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 he talks about "we" who are alive at the second coming).

As far as I'm concerned, I don't care if the second coming is tomorrow or 500 years away. The Lord has told us to be prepared for it, and I have faith that he has good reasons for saying so. Perhaps he wants all of us to be in a constant state of repentance. Perhaps it really is tomorrow. These are issues of faith and trust in God.

But when someone gets dogmatic and requires the second coming to be on or before such-and-such a date, that person is likely to fall when the Lord doesn't adhere to his timetable.

I'm confident there will be some that will still find that okay. Because unless you entertain the idea at some point that a belief COULD be wrong, you'll always find a way to make it right.
* * *
I would suggest as an excercise that you try to imagine for a second that the Church wasn't true. How would all it's history and doctrine fit? Could it?
I think you'd be surprised at the results.


That is an interesting challenge, and one that I have entertained from time to time. The problem I always run into the same that Jesus' disciples had 2000 years ago:

"From that time many of [Jesus'] disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." (John 6:66-69)

I have a testimony of the living Christ, and of the restoration of the gospel. I received this from the Holy Spirit, and have had it reaffirmed many times. I freely admit that it is a subjective experience, and not subject to scientific scrutiny. But it has been so strong and so frequent that I cannot dismiss it simply because I can't answer all the (seeming) inconsistencies between science and faith.

My journey of faith is much like putting together a 5000-piece jigsaw puzzle, without having the box top to know what the final picture is supposed to look like. I've been able to put much of it together, but there portions of it that haven't become clear to me yet. Every once in a while I may find a piece that doesn't seem to fit within my view of what the completed puzzle is supposed to look like. My choice is then to discard the puzzle, thinking that I've been deceived, or to set the piece aside and expect that one day I will find a place for it. I've always chosen the latter, and, oddly enough, I have always found places for those pieces.

Now, I don't fully expect this to resonate with you (partly because of Paul's instruction in 1 Corinthians 2:6-16). You seem to have placed your faith in science and in your interpretation of the data and reading of the Book of Mormon. You appear to be open to new truths, as long as they conform to your preexisting beliefs and are not spiritually discerned. I find that to be a great loss.

Perhaps you'll accuse me of retreating to bearing my testimony because I've been backed into a corner (I've seen such accusations from critics repeatedly). I want to assure you I'm doing nothing of the sort. My belief in the restored gospel is grounded in a spiritual witness, but it does not stand independent of rational thought. I have simply come to a different conclusion than you about the nature and limitations of DNA evidence, what the BofM claims, and what LDS leaders can be expected to know.

It was my conclusion obviously that the "data," as it were, fit so much better and made much more sense that the Church wasn't what it claimed.

And while I hope you are happy in your choice, I would ask you to accept the possibility that you have misunderstood what the Church is and the limitations of its leaders. I would suggest as an exercise that you try to imagine for a second that the Church was true, but it just wasn't what you had expected or assumed it would be.

I think you'd be surprised at the results.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Mike Parker:

Thanks again for your post. It's rare for someone to consistently respond to what I've actually written and not predetermined list of talking points.

I think we'd get along fine in real life.... :)

You bring up some interesting issues this time, particularly spiritual sources of truth.

I had a testimony like everyone else. In fact, for years previous to me learning about the BOM DNA issue, I had struggled with my testimony. This depressed me greatly.

It seemed like now matter how hard I tried to fulfill callings, go to Church and read my scriptures I felt unfulfilled.

Particularly painful was the fact that my patriarchal blessing, as well as a very special blessing given to me by my bishop called me to fulfill some very lofty callings while on this earth.

However while at BYU I struggled greatly. I set myself on the path to fulfilling the requirements of my blessings, but began to fail, fail, fail it seemed like.

I gave my very best effort scholastically, but my grades were just "average," not stellar as one advisor put it. Morally I would slip up from time to time. Nothing that would disfellowship me, but enough that I didn't feel worthy of the spirit. As I prayed and asked for help and moved to do my part to keep the commandments I kept running into failures.

Now in hindsight I see just how much I accomplished. I realize that the standard my blessings had set was impossibly high for someone with my background. I am the first college grad of my family. Also, I've since learned how many of those around me were screwing like rabbits and being punished of course, but not kicked out of BYU.

Point is, although I wasn't perfect, I was so much better than I thought. The support of the spirit and comfort from prayer that I believed I should have access to should have helped me see that. But those with authority over me told me otherwise, and they speak for the Lord right? Can you see the conundrum?

After I graduated, I learned of the BOM DNA issue, and my testimony evaporated. It all made sense to me why the spiritual side of my life was lacking. It didn't exist in the first place.

Since that time I have never once felt within me that I was going down the wrong path. Never once has my testimony of the BOM that I felt I had come back to me.

If the spirit can leave an indelible knowledge of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, than how has mine been so easily swept away.

I have never felt even a twinge of guilt for leaving the Church. I'm about to send in my letter of resignation and have my name removed and I haven't felt to hesitate for a minute.

At a minimum it shows that a persons spiritual experiences are very subjective.

For Moroni's promise to work however, all people should be able to obtain the knowledge of it's truthfullness by the spirit. I know I certainly over the years, with my reading the BOM over 20 times and innumerable prayers have earned it.

And yet it doesn't work universally.

I really would look at the Science differently if in my soul I knew there was something there. But I don't feel it.

None of my sins were left unresolved, I spoke with my Bishop all the time and worked hard to live righteously. I know I was worthy of the spirit. I had done my part. I have nothing I'm trying to hide, no sin that I'm so ashamed of that I can't bare to be in Church.

After all that, I still get those good feelings that I used to believe were the spirit. Often, when I listen to really good music, or when I take care of my sons.

I really appreciate you wanting my happiness above all. That's very big of you. I really believe that for myself I've found it.

I currently have a fairly prestigious position at a reference laboratory, and will probably begin my PhD work very soon. Nothing like the calling my blessings promised, but success still the same.

I stay involved in the debate because I think many of those on the Church's side are being inherently dishonest. Not all, but some I believe think it's okay to "Lie for the Lord."

Also, I believe there are a great many others in the Church who wilt under the heavy expections the Church has. High moral standards is only a small portion of the issue. People in the Church are pushed beyond the limits of their time, moral, finances and spiritual stamina.

I know at BYU that if I followed to letter everything that President Batemen would have me do, calculated out I would have 4 hours a night to sleep, 30 minutes a day to cook and use the restroom do laundry.

All for what? Too look good to everyone else? To be better than everyone else?

If Christ really is God I think he'd be dissappointed the stewardship he left was being handled.

There's no reason good enough to obfuscate the facts and pretend to the members that the Emperor has clothes after all and that there's nothing to worry about. There's no reason good enough ask the world of the membership only to ask for ultimate latitude in your own performance.

In regards to the BOM the brethren should have nailed that one. It's the keystone remember? It's was gives us reason to believe Joseph had power from God, because it was translated by the power of God.

That's a little too central an issue for me to be forgiving.

Thus, I'm where I stand today... :)

Mike Parker said...

BYU Gestapo,

Wow, what can I say? Thank you for sharing your story with us. It sounds as if you sincerely struggled with issues of faith and found the Church wanting. I hope that you have found some measure of peace.

A few thoughts to share:

Point is, although I wasn't perfect, I was so much better than I thought. The support of the spirit and comfort from prayer that I believed I should have access to should have helped me see that. But those with authority over me told me otherwise, and they speak for the Lord right? Can you see the conundrum?

I honestly think this is one of the biggest challenges the Church faces today. It has hundreds of thousands of local leaders around the world, all of whom are given authority to counsel with members about their problems, but with very little training. Too often that means that some overly-judgmental people are placed in positions where a softer hand would have been better. They do the best they can (remember, we all "see through a glass, darkly" in this imperfect life), but sometimes that isn't enough.

I can't speak to your specific circumstances, since there is so much I don't know. But I can tell you that I have said things as a leader in the past that I wish I could take back, done things a certain way that I now wish I had done another way. Just because I was in a certain position and called to be the Lord's representative didn't mean I always did what He expected me to do.

This goes back to the expectations I previously mentioned. Many people think that because this is the Lord's Church, he controls everything that goes on at every level, and therefore no leader will be allowed to ever say anything wrong. But the revelations and simple experience show otherwise: The Lord gives His people their agency and wide latitude in their beliefs and actions. He teaches them "line upon line" and slowly draws them to Him. He allows them to make mistakes so they can learn from them. And he certainly doesn't care nearly as much about what we believe about Book of Mormon geography as what we believe about the Book of Mormon's teachings on faith, repentance, holiness, forgiveness, and sanctification.

Since that time I have never once felt within me that I was going down the wrong path. Never once has my testimony of the BOM that I felt I had come back to me.
If the spirit can leave an indelible knowledge of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, than how has mine been so easily swept away.


A testimony is a fragile thing. It requires constant nourishment. Neglect it, and it will vanish as quickly as it came.

"And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries...." (Alma 12:11)

"And thus we can plainly discern, that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things." (Alma 24:30)

A spiritual witness of the gospel is a powerful thing, but it is too easy to dismiss or explain away if one has had too few of them, and none recently.

I have never felt even a twinge of guilt for leaving the Church. I'm about to send in my letter of resignation and have my name removed and I haven't felt to hesitate for a minute.

I hope you would reconsider, or at least pause to give this more time. The blessings you would be throwing away are of enormous significance. I would like to think that there is still opportunity for you to reclaim them.

In regards to the BOM the brethren should have nailed that one. It's the keystone remember? It's was gives us reason to believe Joseph had power from God, because it was translated by the power of God.
That's a little too central an issue for me to be forgiving.


The Book of Mormon was not given to Joseph Smith as a field manual for Mesoamerican archeology, nor as a geneticist's guide to Amerindian DNA. It was for "the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations...."

God does not give revelations or testimonies about geography and ethnography. Not one person is required to "nail" those things to have a testimony of the gospel and the Book of Mormon. I think you have expected far too much from God and from his chosen leaders.

Please consider what I have said.

My prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line? There is no such thing as Israeli mtDNA and there never was. All mtDNA in Israeli populations came from outside the community. We do not know what mtDNA line was passed through Asenath. Judging from historical facts, there is up to a 33% chance that her mtDNA came from Central Asia.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line on y-chDNA? Both Palestinians and Israelis in Palestine exhibit the same thirteen founding lines, some of which differ completely from other lines. Lest we forget, Israelis were quick to intermarry in the early days and there were many rapes and so forth directly preceding and during the captivity.

This is one of the reasons why the Jewish commmunity began tracing Jewishness from the mother rather than from the father. Simply put, there were times when a person would not know who his/her true father was, but more often than not most would know who their true mother was.

Another interesting fact in this way is that there are many European mtDNA lines in Jewish communities in Europe, whereas Jewish communities in Africa carry predominantly African mtDNA lines. This also is an indicator of extensive intermarriages at least at the founding of these populations.

I wouldn't be expecting CMH to be found in native american populations' y-chDNA for use against the Book of Mormon, either. The Book of Mormon gives zero evidence of Levites being among the Lehites.

Mike Parker said...

BYU Gestapo,

May I also recommend to you the recent talk by Wendy Ulrich, "'Believest thou...?': Faith, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Psychology of Religious Experience."

She addresses many of the fundamental issues of challenges to faith that we've been discussing.

BYU Gestapo said...

To anonymous... WTH? There certainly is such a thing as Israeli DNA. You probably should be saying Hebrew DNA to be more accurate, but still the same.

You'd be correct to say that today's Jew isn't a good representation of the Biblical Hebrew.

The Ashkenazi population of Jews that now dominates the world population of Jews at 80% used to be only 3% back in the 11th Century. But the Israeli are not just a hodpodge of outside peoples, they're the remaining Jews.

This is why they have such a higher incidence of hereditary diseases. They are a closed society. They do not mix with others.

Regardless, you don't have to show the Lamanite were NOT Hebrew if you show that they WERE Mongoloid. That analysis is precise enough to show migration patterns of only 500 miles distant. If there is a relationship between Hebrew and Asians, which there is btw, it's far older than the timeframes we're speaking of.

I suggest you search for the Term Molecular Clock in google or Wikipedia. That should get you on track on the acute resolution of timeframe the technique provides.

BTW...please don't make such a claim without at least the begining of an explanation. It makes your point seem sophmoric.

BYU Gestapo said...

To anonymous:

Retraction...you did go into more detail in your second post...which I didn't see until I was done...my apologies.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Mike:

A quote from the article you offered:

"I do see people stick with beliefs that no longer hold water, and I worry about doing that, as when a woman talks herself into staying with an abusive partner because she cannot tolerate the cognitive dissonance of imagining herself divorced, or because she has already devoted so much to the marriage that it feels like it must be worth perpetuating and that any day it will get better in proportion to all she has sacrificed for it."

On the one hand she says faith in that which is hard to believe is admirable, but not admirable in that which "doesn't hold water."

She lists all the rational the wife goes through to stay in the relationship. She obviously believes the wife should leave.

So where is the difference? It's so simple it's crazy that I have to explain it:

The truth is ALWAYS consistent.

If people have a hard time believing in a spiritual witness that under identical conditions works for one and doesn't work for another, I commend them.

The husband isn't going to treat her right no matter how many possible solutions she can imagine.

If God makes a promise, and we keep our end, the promise should be fulfilled. He doesn't need us to make excuses for him. He shouldn't have to have us believe in timetables or varying conditions. A contract is a contract right?

Either he's consistent and not a respecter of persons, or he's a fraud.

The Cognitive Dissonance factor is exactly what I see in the Church and on this board.

Cog Dis is what gives rise to phrases like, "The Lord's ways aren't our ways."

The only way to make the unpredictability of God work in peoples minds is to create the idea that we can't understand him.

Somehow he's above reproach.

I suspect that 90% of the principles and scriptures Christians cling to come from this very phenonmenon.

People of "Faith" consistently only see what supports their prechosen view of the world and anything contrary is chalked up to God's varying whims.

Sorry, I know this is empassioned, but I have tasted what it's like to not look at the world through the eyes of religion and it's so much better than I thought.

It makes far more sense and seems to frankly be a much more hopeful place.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "Are you THE Daniel Peterson from FARMS? That would be crazy."

Alas, I am.

BYU Gestapo: "All 'Middle-Eastern' . . . people claim a connection to Abraham."

That's actually not true. You mention the Iranians, but could also have mentioned such ethnic groups as Armenians, Turks, Kurds, and the like. Anciently, of course, the Babylonians, Egyptians, Sumerians, Hittites, and so forth would have claimed no such connection. And, today, the term Arab refers to people whose primary language is Arabic, but whose genealogy may or may not actually tie them to the historical Arabia. (In other words, Egyptian "Arabs" and Moroccan "Arabs" and Iraqi "Arabs" often have little or no actual connection, biologically, with the Arabs of Syria, Transjordan, and the Peninsula.

BYU Gestapo: "Therefore there is a common ancestor for all of them."

Quite doubtful, in fact.

BYU Gestapo: "It's silly to believe that Hebrew men would have married women outside of the covenant."

Actually, they did it very commonly. That was, for instance, one of the major issues that Ezra and Nehemiah faced.

Isaac obviously didn't marry a descendant of Abraham, his father. Nor did Israel/Jacob. Ishmael married outside the covenant. So did Esau. And what of the fathers of the twelve tribes? Joseph married the daughter of the priest of Heliopolis. The genealogy of David and, thus, of Jesus contains such well-known non-Israelites as Rahab, the Canaanite harlot, and Ruth, the Moabite. Solomon married far outside the covenant. So did many of the royal line of Israel and Judah.

It seems doubtful that the Lamanites cared much about marrying within the covenant, either.

BYU Gestapo: "In the assertion that it's possible and even probable that the Lehite contribution could be diluted to the point of undetectability FARMS is being disingenious. They know better."

Since you're responding only to Professor Whiting's article, what you're actually saying is that Professor Whiting is being disingenuous, and that he knows better than he's telling but, for some reason, is unwilling to come clean. Are you really intending to accuse him of dishonesty?

Have you read the other articles published by FARMS on this topic, by people like David McClellan and John Butler? You speak highly of Keith Crandall. Have you read his article on Amerindian DNA in Dialogue?

BYU Gestapo: "FARMS has done more damage to my testimony than anything else has.

"When I saw how weak the Church's response was to the issue I knew I was in the wrong place."


I'm puzzled as to why you seem to think that Professor Whiting's response exhausts what FARMS has published on this topic, let alone why you would think that his short essay constitutes the entirety of "the Church's response."

I'm not a geneticist, but I would be very interested to see how Dr. Whiting (a bright fellow) would respond to your objections.

In any event, I would still be interested in your response to Dr. Butler, to Dr. Crandall, and, most of all, to Dr. McClellan's very lengthy essay on the subject of Amerindian DNA and the Book of Mormon. And I look forward to the appearance of the forthcoming article by the Canadian-based biological anthropologist that I've mentioned.

I certainly don't mean to judge you, or to seem to judge you, but I'm not surprised to learn that your disaffection from the Church is more broadly based than merely your reaction to this narrow technical issue.

Mike Parker said...

BYU Gestapo,

As I've mentioned previously, faith by its very nature requires that we believe in something that we cannot experience with our five senses or test with the scientific method.

You have chosen the only logical alternative to Mormonism: There is no God — a choice I disagree with, but it is your choice.

If I may I take issue with one thing:

It [non-religion] makes far more sense and seems to frankly be a much more hopeful place.

I disagree strenuously with you on this claim.

In a world without God, there is no reason to do anything that doesn't make me happy. I may choose to be kind to others because it makes me feel good and I think that's the right thing to do, but my neighbor may choose to be selfish and greedy, because he thinks that's the right thing to do. And there is no one who can authoritatively step in and say I am right and he is wrong.

In a world without God, men can rape, torture, and kill small girls, escape the law their entire lives, and die peacefully, knowing that there is no one who can make them pay for what they have done.

In a world without God, we are here as a blind stroke of random circumstance, and when we die, that is the end. The loving husband will never again know the embrace of his dead wife; the grief-stricken parent will never again hear the voice of her dead son.

In a world without God, I might as well take all I can for myself, and everyone else be damned, for once I'm gone there is no more.

It may make sense to you, but rather than being a hopeful place, I see such a world as one entirely devoid of hope, consolation, or joy.

I hope you are happy in it.

Mike Parker said...

One other thought:

The problem of God and evil is not a new one. It has been tackled by philosophers and religionists for thousands of years. You and I are late to the party, as it were, and are not likely to dig up anything that hasn't been discussed before.

May I recommend Harold S. Kushner's classic on this subject, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People." You might be surprised to learn the many, many people throughout history have experienced evil in this world and maintained their belief and faith in God.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Daniel Peterson,

Wow...what a small world we live in.

You're right about the intermarriage issue, I should have been more unambigious. I don't believe that one of the Lord's prophets, a righteous man by all accounts would marry outside the covenant. The "Lamanites" as it were didn't and wouldn't have had a choice in the matter because they only had the daughters of Ishmael available.

As far as FARMS and dishonesty go, I DO think it's dishonest to portray oneself or an idea as something it's not.

Let me explain to be clear. The vast Majority of lay people in the Church I know rely on you and even deify FARMS. If you even infer than there is no conflict or issue, people take that at face value.

Now it's true that many times I have read writings and comments from FARMS members and they've been more upfront.

But just as often I'll see an article in BYU Newsnet such as the one from Jan 29th, 2003 where the title will read: "BYU professor refutes DNA Book of Mormon Claims."

Now of course, you may not have had control over the title chosen, but Dr. Whiting in the article is quoted as, "We didn't think the arguments were good enough to respond to." This is a clear message to the general populace of the Church that all is well.

The arguments against the BOM are certainly stronger than that statement implies.

That's dishonesty in my opinion. Is intellectual dishonesty as onerous as defrauding old ladies? Perhaps not. So don't get too up in arms. But it's still dishonest.

Now it's true that Whiting is only one person. But he's not all that I've read. I focused on him for brevities sake.

If I may offer an opinion, I think that too often FARMS articles fail to approach the core issues. Woodward, Sorenson and others included.

A short summary of all their arguments is that you can't refute the possibility of the BOM being historical. That's true actually. In effect you challenge the world to prove a negative. That's a tall order indeed, and it ignores much of the science.

They go on and on about how much room there is for this hypothesis or that hypothesis.

Never do the address the fact that the majority of the evidence found up until now, both Genetic and Archeological, points in another direction than a historical BOM.

The pattern thus has been to embrace theories such as LGT that were previously unconventional or to point out how many different ways there's still a statistical chance the BOM could have happened. No matter how small the odds.

If the BOM was historical, and I emphasize HISTORICAL, ie; it really happened the way it was written, the numbers of people involved are accurate etc... then it should be easy to find contrary evidence.

This is what most often frustrates me is that many Mormon apologists act like those of us who dissent must have other issues. Somehow, they reason, it's us who are insane to have a crisis of Faith.

I don't believe you necessarily infered that with your comment above. My leaving the Church is not, and was not a uncomplicated process. I will say that the DNA BOM issue was such a catalyst for the process.

And if I can drive home a point for feedback's sake, people don't like feeling deceived. If you're not upfront with people from the get-go and they find out there's more to the story then they were told before they going to lose trust.

This is the number one issue with the Church and their approach to Church History. I believe that you at FARMS should consider at least your essays in that context and perhaps go into more detail what the opposite arguments actually are. I think you have a lot of room to improve in that area.


In any event...

I'll take time and give my response to some other articles when I'm a bit more free. I look forward to your commments.

I will also very much look forward to reading Dr. Crandall's article in Dialog. I hold him in very high regard and would be interested in what he has to say.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Mike Parker:

I'm areligious, not atheistic. I would still consider myself a deist although I don't assume that God would have to fit into the Christian/Biblical model.

For example, there's no reason to believe that the Universe didn't begin with a spark of divinity. The very laws of Physics and Chemistry could have been designed to play out the way they have naturally, and thus created life.

There is more and more evidence that suggests that given time, the formation of life is an inevitable event.

We exist, so there's certainly something going on.

I believe religion specifically however, does more harm than good to the world. Just as often as not the rapists and the murderers you spoke of have worn the emblem of the cross or the crescent. Even Mormon history is not free of violent enforcement of faith.

There is no religion, including Mormonism, that hasn't been used to exploit other people. Whether it's Tammy Fae taking millions, or a Mormon Bishop who strokes his ego. Whatever the scale, it always ends up being a tool to consolidate power over people.

John Lennon's song "Imagine" I think is hauntingly accurate in how it points the largest things holding humanity back. I think it has a theme I agree with a great deal; that people should matter most.

I hope there's accountability for those who do wrong. Generally, society provides punishment for criminal behavior regardless of belief system.

It may surprise you to know that I actually wish the Gospel WAS true. It would be heartening to know what was to come. However I have to be strong enough to let the idea go if every other source of information available to me points the other direction.

Bookslinger said...

Mike Parker:
I still haven't succeeded in my goal in pulling back your perspective to behold the pre-creation state of Adam's Earth.

Your response indicated I didn't convey my theory, because you responded to something I didn't say.

What I'm saying, in my "pet theory", is that when Jehovah said to his helpers: "we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;" is that he was looking at a ball of "stuff" which was to become the Earth upon which Adam was to be placed.

LDS do not believe in ex-nihilo creation, so I think we at least agree that the physical matter of Adam's Earth existed prior to "we will take of these materials" and was not created out of nothingness.

My theory, and I haven't read this anywhere else, is the "materials" quoted in Abraham 3:24 was the remnants of previous planetary creations, or construction and deconstruction. When I say deconstruction, I don't mean literally taken apart, but rather "turned off" or "wiped the slate."

Remember that Moses and Abraham only told us about THIS planet, and not about the zillions of other planets that Jehovah created. If the info about other planets is being withheld from us, then so would the previous planets that used the same ball of mud from which Earth was fashioned.

Like Lincoln logs or Legos, this planet could be recycled. The phrase "without form and void" doesn't say what it was void of. Void of life, void of activity, but maybe not void of all evidence of _previous_ activity. I don't think void means a complete vacuum.

We don't know what Elohim and Jehovah and their helpers did prior to the Grand Council, or between the time of the Grand Council, and the creation mentioned in Genesis/Abraham.

Did they practice? Did they make planets of lesser orders and "work their way up" to Class M planets? (Star Trek lingo :-)

This "ball" could have housed previous "creations" upon which Jehovah and Michael placed previous animals, as practice. Medical students and researchers practice on animals prior to humans, maybe Godhood students practice too.

Maybe they created planets with dinosaurs and other lesser order animals, practiced, let them die off naturally, then "wiped the slate", and went back to Elohim, and asked "What's the next assignment?" And that's when they had the Grand Council, or maybe that's when Jehovah said "we will take of THESE materials."

My theory is that this "ball of mud" underwent at least one period of construction/deconstruction, in which the fossil record was a natural result of other events, way before Jehovah even said "we will take of these materials."

Therefore, dinosaurs are a completely moot point to the Genesis/Abraham creation episode, and the length time from the Adamic Creation to the Fall, and from the Fall to present.

I think fossils existed way before "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

"In the beginning God created..." is not the _absolute_ beginning, it is merely _our_ beginning.

Mike Parker said...

BYU Gestapo: I believe religion specifically however, does more harm than good to the world. Just as often as not the rapists and the murderers you spoke of have worn the emblem of the cross or the crescent. Even Mormon history is not free of violent enforcement of faith.

To anyone who still believes that religion is the leading cause of death and suffering throughout history, I would like to introduce you to Josef Stain, Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot, and Mao Se Tung — who, combined, killed more people that all religions of the Christian era.

Those who wish to exercise power over others will use any method at their disposal, whether it be philosophy, politics, or religion. Because relgion has been used for evil does not make it evil. The teachings of Jesus Christ go against the philsophy of war, greed, and power.

And for all the complaints of the evil that has been done in the name of religion, rarely to I hear of the good that has been done the name of religion. I have yet, for example, to see a hospital founded by an atheist organization.

And for every one bishop "stroking his ego," there are one hundred who are trying to humbly carry out their assignment. Any claim to the contrary is a false exaggeration.

Again, you expect perfection where none was promised.

I'm areligious, not atheistic. I would still consider myself a deist although I don't assume that God would have to fit into the Christian/Biblical model.
For example, there's no reason to believe that the Universe didn't begin with a spark of divinity. The very laws of Physics and Chemistry could have been designed to play out the way they have naturally, and thus created life.


The problem (or benefit) of this type of "god" is that it doesn't give commandments or expect anything of you. Instead, it stays conveniently out of your hair. Deism and other sloppy forms of belief allow their followers to do what they want while still thinking that there is "something" out there.

That is not God.

Mike Parker said...

Books of Mormon in Indy,

I understand your position. I just don't agree with it — primarily because there's no scriptural support for it, secondarily because it requires an overly complex and nonsensical chain of events.

Mike Parker said...

I mentioned someone by the name of "Josef Stain" when my spell-checker should have been looking for "Joseph Stalin."

Sorry about that.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Daniel Peterson:

I just read The article the Dr. Krandall co-authored with Dean H Leavitt, and Johnathon C. Marshall.

I knew Crandall wouldn't let me down. It was one of the most balanced, upfront informative, just plain honest works I've seen yet.

If only FARMS articles had that kind of candor. Please don't take offense, but it's the area I think you guys can improve on the most.

Although in the end the article only gave one sentence to the "5th" theory, that the BOM is literary, not historical, I understand why they did that. I think they explained their reasons and they were justifiable.

To those who want a good read see:

https://www.dialoguejournal.com/excerpts/36-4.asp

Bookslinger said...

BYU Gestapo,

In the 1980's I stumbled on some of the same paradoxes you described about keeping the Spirit. I came across hypocritical members, and just enough unrighteously domineering (overbearing, browbeating, manipulative) leaders to make life in the church bitter and confusing. I went inactive, and then a few years later requested name removal.

I now sincerely regret it. Keep your options open. Unless you actively work against the church, or publish teachings against the basic tenets of the church, neither name removal nor excommunication is necessary.

I had a testimony and was "converted" prior to leaving. But my conversion wasn't deep enough. The winds of adversity pulled up my roots. After I got my butt kicked over the years, and learned some necessary lessons, then I came back. Because even though I got deconverted, I still couldn't get rid of the burned-in testimonies.

I'm one of those who got a testimony reading the Book of Mormon before any missionary discussion.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Mike Parker:

Communism and Nazism were both idealogies. Religion is an ideology as well. The only difference is that Religion uses the authority of God as leverage. The engine for both those idealogies and religion is exactly the same; use the beliefs of people for power.

I'm sorry that you feel so strongly that God has to tell us what to do. It's amazing how attached people are to the concept of sin, at least their version of it anyway.

If you don't have the pressure of punishment hovering over you to keep you line you obviously are of lower moral character...right?

I certainly wouldn't advocate true libertarianism. I do believe that there should be core values and they should be merit based.

For example, no value that has existence..."just because," or "God says so," has any value in my opinion.

You said that my God would be "no God at all," and that it would be a "sloppy form of belief."

I think you miss fact that those who have values and do good without external motive are of much higher moral caliber than those who do it because they're told.

I'm offended by your use of the word sloppy, it implies laziness, incompleteness and convenience in my belief system.

I can tell you the experience is much to the contrary.

As far as perfection goes, I've never asked for it, from anyone. What you seem to not get Mike is that Mormonism and religion in general are so flawed that the thought never even entered my mind. Approaching perfection isn't even on the agenda.

The issue I have is they claim to be mechanism to provide Salvation. In order for there to be salvation there has to: A. be a need for it, and B. exist a method to obtain it.

If it's you have reason to belive that if the de facto state of the Church and the people in it falls short of being able to provide salvation one shouldn't make excuses. Or if you find that there never was a need for Salvation in the first place, there's nothing lazy with just recognize that it falls short.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "As far as FARMS and dishonesty go, I DO think it's dishonest to portray oneself or an idea as something it's not."

I just wanted to be certain that you were, in fact, accusing Professor Whiting of dishonesty. I certainly hope that you will send your accusations and criticisms directly to him, and I would appreciate it if you would copy your note and his response to me. I'm very interested in how he will respond. So far as I'm aware, he has a national and even international reputation as a more than merely competent scientist, and I'm unaware of anybody who considers him intelllectually dishonest -- perhaps I simply don't move in the right circles -- so your comments about him have been extremely interesting to me. Did you ever have him as a teacher when you were working toward your degree?

BYU Gestapo: "I'll see an article in BYU Newsnet such as the one from Jan 29th, 2003 where the title will read: 'BYU professor refutes DNA Book of Mormon Claims.'
Now of course, you may not have had control over the title chosen,"


We had no control whatsoever, and first saw it when it was published. This is standard journalistic practice, and we can scarcely be responsible for what journalists do with their stories about us.

BYU Gestapo: "Dr. Whiting in the article is quoted as, 'We didn't think the arguments were good enough to respond to.' This is a clear message to the general populace of the Church that all is well.
The arguments against the BOM are certainly stronger than that statement implies."


Professor Whiting (along with Drs. Butler, McLellan, Meldrum, Stephens, Woodward, Sorenson, etc.) does not think that the DNA argument against the Book of Mormon has much merit. You disagree.

BYU Gestapo: "That's dishonesty in my opinion."

Here's a suggestion for graduate school: It is generally considered extremely poor form to allege that those who disagree with you are "dishonest" unless you have powerful and specific evidence for such an allegation. You will not survive long in graduate school and you will not prosper in academia if you casually toss such accusations around.

BYU Gestapo: "If I may offer an opinion, I think that too often FARMS articles fail to approach the core issues. Woodward, Sorenson and others included."

I don't expect that you'll be surprised if I disagree.

Incidentally, I'm not sure that Dr. Woodward has ever written an article for FARMS. I know that he hasn't written one on this topic.

BYU Gestapo: "A short summary of all their arguments is that you can't refute the possibility of the BOM being historical. That's true actually."

No small thing, that. (Didn't your opening comment on this thread flatly assert that "DNA shows the BOM to not be historical"?) Still, I would go further. In my judgment, there exists quite a bit of evidence pointing to the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I cheerfully admit, of course, that the evidence isn't decisive, either way.

BYU Gestapo: "In effect you challenge the world to prove a negative."

On this topic, perhaps that's true. It's not true across the board, though. I've already mentioned the various Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, whose testimony I find extremely persuasive. And there's much more besides.

BYU Gestapo: "Never do the address the fact that the majority of the evidence found up until now, both Genetic and Archeological, points in another direction than a historical BOM."

Perhaps because they don't think that to be the case? (Professor John Clark's recent presentations at BYU, the Library of Congress, and the FAIR symposium certainly suggest the he doesn't.) You might consider entertaining another explanation for their behavior besides intellectual dishonesty.

BYU Gestapo: "The pattern thus has been to embrace theories such as LGT that were previously unconventional"

If you've been following the discussion of the past few years, you're surely aware that the seeds of the limited geographical view of the Book of Mormon go back to the early 1840s, that explicit statements of the theory can be found in print in the 1920s, and that various limited geographical models have dominated serious discussion of Book of Mormon geography since the 1950s (i.e., since long before the application of DNA analysis to Amerindian populations). And you'll be aware, further, that the grounds upon which M. Wells Jakeman, John Sorenson, and others have argued for such models have very little to do with archaeological data and a great deal to do with careful reconstruction of travel distances in the text itself. In other words, it is factually, historically, incorrect to suggest that limited geographical models represent desperate ad hoc improvisations to deal with a supposedly crumbling evidentiary situation.

BYU Gestapo: "or to point out how many different ways there's still a statistical chance the BOM could have happened. No matter how small the odds."

I'm not aware of anybody seriously connected with FARMS who would agree with that characterization. The general attitude among my colleagues, so far as I can tell, is that, while significant issues obviously remain, the cumulative case for the Book of Mormon is considerably better now than it has been in the past.

BYU Gestapo: "This is what most often frustrates me is that many Mormon apologists act like those of us who dissent must have other issues."

Your autobiographical post above outright told us that there have been other, broader issues in your particular case.

And that doesn't surprise me a bit, since, otherwise, the fact that the matter of DNA, which you say destroyed your faith, apparently leaves the faith of others with demonstrated DNA expertise (e.g., doctorates and careers devoted to the topic) wholly undamaged would be impossible to explain. I can only presume, since the DNA data is the same both for you and for the scientists who disagree with you, that something other than the DNA data is operative in either your case, or theirs, or, most likely, both. And you've already admitted, here on this thread, that the DNA question wasn't your first and isn't your only issue with the Church.

BYU Gestapo, speaking of the Crandall Dialogue article: "If only FARMS articles had that kind of candor."

You seem to be under the impression that FARMS uses some sort of filter to eliminate candid articles, or that it imposes a standard requiring less than full disclosure. I can assure you that this is not the case. FARMS has published tens of thousands of pages by several hundred different authors. They are not under any sort of mandate to be deceptive or intellectually dishonest, and FARMS is not the Borg. They are individuals. Moreover, very many of them are distinguished scholars, and recognized as such far beyond the Church. If they really have all suddenly and spontaneously become disingenuous and intellectually sneaky, this is a remarkable miracle that should shake your conviction that the supernatural doesn't intervene in ordinary human life.


 

BYU Gestapo said...

Dr. Peterson,


Frankly I'm surprised at your tone. In this particular forum, I believe it's more than appropriate to question a Scientist's candor and forthrightness when it comes to issues that affect religion.

The issue of biases interpretation couldn't be more relevant than here.

If I thought it possible for FARMS to put out an article that say, leaned closer to a view of the BOM more in line with Grant Palmer's then I would back off. But we both know that the Church and BYU would never let you put that out. You and and both know you don't have that kind of independence.

To be fair, I'll admit I'm probably to hastly to lay the dishonesty charge soley on one person. I still think that Whiting overstates himself. I still think that most FARMS articles are not forthright in explaining all sides of the issue.

However I'll admit that at it's roots it's more of an institutional problem.

But that doesn't mean it isn't there. That also doesn't mean that you can't at least admit that your viewpoint flies in the face of the common wisdom held by your non-mormon colleagues regarding the new world.

Reread the Crandall article. It explains all the sides and the realities of the data without spinning reality. It actually mentions Simon Southerton. It actually states that the Hemispheric model does NOT conform to the DNA data.

Surprisingly enough it still leaves room for people choose to have faith or not.

As a side, you still don't get the catalytic affect the DNA issues has had on my faith as well as others. If you believe that it's primarily the other issues that will lead people out of the Church you are mistaken.

I predict that the DNA issue will only draw greater and greater of people out as time goes by. They will all have other issues, surely, but it will be the DNA that's the main engine for this change.

Forgive me for ending this on a snide note, but ironically enough I believe that it will be your organization that will fuel that engine.

Unless you as a whole back off the ambiguous arguments and take a model more like Crandall did, you'll do exactly the opposite of what FARMS was intended to do by actually destroying the faith and not defending it.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "Frankly I'm surprised at your tone. In this particular forum, I believe it's more than appropriate to question a Scientist's candor and forthrightness when it comes to issues that affect religion."

What "tone"? I simply wanted to be clear as to whether or not you were questioning Professor Whiting's intellectual integrity. You were. Question settled. I appreciate your straightforward and repeated answer to my question, and encourage you to write directly to Dr. Whiting himself (hoping that you will share the correspondence with me so I can learn his response).

BYU Gestapo: "The issue of biases interpretation couldn't be more relevant than here.
"If I thought it possible for FARMS to put out an article that say, leaned closer to a view of the BOM more in line with Grant Palmer's then I would back off. But we both know that the Church and BYU would never let you put that out. You and and both know you don't have that kind of independence."


FARMS is, on the whole, simply a publishing operation that encourages and supports the publication of articles and books taking a certain broad approach to Mormon topics. It was founded independently and off campus, and receives absolutely no direction from either the Church or the University -- none -- as to the substantive contents of what it publishes.

Beyond fairly typical editorial suggestions (e.g., "you might want to expand and clarify this point," "please use a plural verb with a plural subject," and "please document this assertion"), FARMS does not tell authors what to write. They choose their positions for themselves, and either submit their items to FARMS for publication or do not. It is true that FARMS will, on the whole (there have been exceptions), not publish articles or books attacking foundational LDS claims -- the scholars who founded it, who have raised money for it, built it up and directed it, were and are seeking to construct a vehicle by means of which to support and explicate those claims, on the grounds that plenty of venues exist for the opposition -- but, if this constitutes a lack of intellectual freedom, you'll have to level the same charge against Harvard University Press (which, I'm guessing, will never seriously entertain the possibility of publishing a work denying the Holocaust, arguing the position that certain races are genetically prone to lower intelligence, or even advocating a specific religious faith), journals of evolutionary biology (which are unlikely to publish creationist or even Intelligent Design proponents), journals of monetarist economics (which rarely if ever publish Marxists), and the like. FARMS was founded by and is funded by people who want a vehicle through which to publish scholarship written by believers in Joseph Smith's claims. Those who do not share that perspective, a very large proportion of the globe's population, are free to publish wherever else they choose (e.g., in Dialogue, Sunstone, the Skeptical Inquirer, or any one of thousands of other periodicals and journals, or with Signature Books or any one of scores if not hundreds of other presses). There is, on balance, only one venue for the publication of the kinds of things that FARMS publishes, but that fact in no plausible way constitutes any form of censorship, any more than the mere existence of a journal devoted to Catholic theology censors non-Catholic theologians or invalidates itself as a legitimate place for someone to publish.

FARMS, as such, does not exist in the sense you seem to imagine. There is no single Borg-like FARMS mind. There are, instead, hundreds of people who have written for FARMS, with, on the whole, rather minimal editorial intervention. (I can promise you that, as editor of the FARMS Review, my approach is extremely laissez faire. I dictate neither the content, nor the arguments, nor the style, nor even the length of submissions to the Review. I simply identify people from whom I want an essay -- though sometimes articles come in unsolicited -- and ask them to write for me. Then, along with my fellow editors, I try to help these authors to say what they want to say clearly. In the case of FARMS more broadly, submissions are, I would guess, much more likely to be wholly unsolicited.

BYU Gestapo: "To be fair, I'll admit I'm probably to hastly to lay the dishonesty charge soley on one person."

So do you have any specific ideas about what Professor Whiting may have tried to say, but, because of FARMS censorship, could not say? Do you have any evidence to support those ideas?

BYU Gestapo: "That also doesn't mean that you can't at least admit that your viewpoint flies in the face of the common wisdom held by your non-mormon colleagues regarding the new world."

It's scarcely news that Latter-day Saints represent a small religious minority. Surely, though, you don't intend to suggest that truth claims should be judged on the basis of polling data.

BYU Gestapo: "Reread the Crandall article. It explains all the sides and the realities of the data without spinning reality."

I would have had no problem whatsoever with publishing the Crandall article. Please recall that I'm the one who recommended it to you.

BYU Gestapo: "It actually mentions Simon Southerton."

So have one or two of the already-published FARMS articles, though all of them were written prior to the appearance of Southerton's book. And so, absolutely, will the forthcoming review of Southerton's book written by the Canada-based biological anthropologist whom I've mentioned several times in this thread.

BYU Gestapo: "It actually states that the Hemispheric model does NOT conform to the DNA data."

So does the article by Professor Whiting of which you've been so critical.

BYU Gestapo: "As a side, you still don't get the catalytic affect the DNA issues has had on my faith as well as others."

On that point, you could not possibly be more mistaken.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "You're right about the intermarriage issue, I should have been more unambigious. I don't believe that one of the Lord's prophets, a righteous man by all accounts would marry outside the covenant."

I gave you the example of Joseph of Egypt, who married the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On (= Heliopolis, the "city of the Sun," which refers to Ra, or Ammon-Ra, the sun god). She may well have been a convert to Israelite religion, but the "covenant" (as Matt Roper and others have been at pains to explain again and again) refers to ideology and religious affiliation, not to genetic biology. She would still, manifestly, have been, biologically speaking, a non-Israelite. And, as you well know, it would be her genetic character, not Joseph's, that would dictate the mtDNA results for their "Israelite" posterity.

BYU Gestapo: "The 'Lamanites' as it were didn't and wouldn't have had a choice in the matter because they only had the daughters of Ishmael available."

The "Lamanites" went on marrying beyond the days of Laman and Lemuel themselves . . . for roughly 130 generations, in fact. Moreover, given the name Ishmael, with its links to the desert, it is quite possible that Ishmael and his daughters were Ishmaelites -- that is, Arabs -- and not Israelites at all, except presumably by covenant affiliation. (Hugh Nibley has argued, quite persuasively, that Lehi had strong links to the desert and probably to caravan trade. For that matter, Laman and Lemuel are indisputably pre-Islamic Arabian names.) And, as John Butler has observed, we know nothing of Sariah's genealogical background, and, as you certainly know, it would be her mtDNA, and not Lehi's, that would be constitutive of the mtDNA of Lehi's posterity.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Daniel:

Some final comments... after which, I think we've beaten this to death at this point.

Let me try to illustrate the difference between Crandall's article and your own review from 2003:

Crandall:

"Notably, Southerton has reviewed data from forty-six scientific papers and found that nearly all Native American maternal DNA originated in Asia and are unrelated to Israelite maternal lineages."

You:

"Simon Southerton, an Australian biologist who once served as a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ but who now vehemently rejects his former faith,..."


Now what you says is probably close to the truth, although Southerton didn't seek name removal and was only recently excommunicated. Also, I think considering the setting his viewpoint on Mormonism is very relavent, just as is yours.

The difference is you do not address his findings.

Metcalf's article literaly only mention's Simon's name once.

This is not the same as addressing his findings. Perhaps I should have used clearer language before, what I arguing here is the value is not just speaking the man's name, but addressing what he has to say.

Besides all that, reviewing Southerton doing a Protestant video makes for easy pickings doesn't it? I mean, that video is almost as bad as our own videos the Church puts out. (Think "Ancient America Speaks")

I'll wait for the review you speak of, but so far you can't say you've been exactly verbose on the subject.

I dare you to publish the Crandall article in FARMS. I'm calling your bluff as it were... :P

I don't think it would happen.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Daniel:

Some final comments... after which, I think we've beaten this to death at this point.

Let me try to illustrate the difference between Crandall's article and your own review from 2003:

Crandall:

"Notably, Southerton has reviewed data from forty-six scientific papers and found that nearly all Native American maternal DNA originated in Asia and are unrelated to Israelite maternal lineages."

You:

"Simon Southerton, an Australian biologist who once served as a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ but who now vehemently rejects his former faith,..."


Now what you says is probably close to the truth, although Southerton didn't seek name removal and was only recently excommunicated. Also, I think considering the setting his viewpoint on Mormonism is very relavent, just as is yours.

The difference is you do not address his findings.

Metcalf's article literaly only mention's Simon's name once.

This is not the same as addressing his findings. Perhaps I should have used clearer language before, what I arguing here is the value is not just speaking the man's name, but addressing what he has to say.

Besides all that, reviewing Southerton doing a Protestant video makes for easy pickings doesn't it? I mean, that video is almost as bad as our own videos the Church puts out. (Think "Ancient America Speaks")

I'll wait for the review you speak of, but so far you can't say you've been exactly verbose on the subject.

I dare you to publish the Crandall article in FARMS. I'm calling your bluff as it were... :P

I don't think it would happen.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "Let me try to illustrate the difference between Crandall's article and your own review from 2003:

Crandall:

'Notably, Southerton has reviewed data from forty-six scientific papers and found that nearly all Native American maternal DNA originated in Asia and are unrelated to Israelite maternal lineages.'

You:

'Simon Southerton, an Australian biologist who once served as a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ but who now vehemently rejects his former faith,...'
Now what you says is probably close to the truth, although Southerton didn't seek name removal and was only recently excommunicated."


It isn't merely "close to the truth." It is true in every particular, and is false in no detail whatever. I said nothing about name removal and nothing about excommunication; it isn't essential to a rejection of Mormonism, even a vehement rejection, that one's name already be off the membership rolls. Such removal is likely to ensue. (You yourself reject Mormonism, yet continue, for the moment at least, as a member of record.)

BYU Gestapo: "The difference is you do not address his findings."

I'm not a geneticist. What scientific authority would my response to Southerton have carried? That is why I've invited people like David McClellan, Michael Whiting, John Butler, and others to write with regard to the scientific issues. I had other purposes in view.

I'm sorry that my introduction wasn't about what you think it should have been about.

BYU Gestapo: "Metcalf's article literaly only mention's Simon's name once."

I have no idea what you're talking about. Brent Metcalfe is not a FARMS author.

I can promise you that the forthcoming review of Southerton's book mentions Southerton. And another anthropologist has volunteered a review of Southerton's book that I have not yet seen; I'm fairly confident that it will mention Southerton as well.

BYU Gestapo: "This is not the same as addressing his findings. Perhaps I should have used clearer language before, what I arguing here is the value is not just speaking the man's name, but addressing what he has to say."

When we address Southerton's book we will address Southerton's book. That will happen shortly. The FARMS Review appears only twice a year, and it takes a while to put each issue together.

Besides all that, reviewing Southerton doing a Protestant video makes for easy pickings doesn't it?

His book had not yet appeared, and I wanted to comment on the video. I'm sorry if my failure to review an as yet unpublished book bothers you.

BYU Gestapo: "I'll wait for the review you speak of, but so far you can't say you've been exactly verbose on the subject."

I'm sorry that my style bothers you.

BYU Gestapo: "I dare you to publish the Crandall article in FARMS. I'm calling your bluff as it were... :P
I don't think it would happen."


That's a rather absurd challenge. No, we're not likely to publish again an article that has already been published, recently, in an LDS-oriented periodical.

I can't imagine why you imagine that I have some problem with Dr. Crandall's article. You hadn't heard of it. Remember? I'm the person who recommended it to you. Remember? I've told you that I have no problem with it whatever, and would happily have published it myself. Remember? (I might add that Dr. Crandall has consulted with us and/or served as a reviewer on at least two of the articles that we have published.)
 

Bookslinger said...

To BYU-G and Daniel P:

Thank-you, to both of you, for the public discussion.

I learned some things.

Mike Parker said...

I'm sorry that you feel so strongly that God has to tell us what to do. It's amazing how attached people are to the concept of sin, at least their version of it anyway.

"And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away." — 2 Nephi 2:13

It's been a pleasure corresponding with you, "BYU-Gestapo." I wish we could have come to more agreement on some of the basics.

Mormanity said...

Fascinating discussion - I appreciate all the energy on both sides of the issue.

Again, when it comes to science and the Book of Mormon, it is vitally important that we are careful about what hypothesis we are testing when we apply science.

The limited geography model is NOT an innovation to deal with new attacks - it is something that dates back to Joseph's day and was reinvigorated by thinkers in the Church long before DNA testing became an issue. More importantly, it is simply demanded by a careful reading of the text.

DNA evidence may sorely challenge the old, sloppy notion that the Book of Mormon describes the origins of all Native Americans, but it does not refute the actual text.

Daniel Peterson said...

I'm quite serious, BYU Gestapo, in my hope that you will send your comments regarding his article, his purported incompetence, and his alleged lack of intellectual integrity directly to Professor Whiting, and about being interested in being copied on the exchange.

I'm very curious to see how Dr. Whiting responds.

Best wishes to you.

Anonymous said...

More of BYU Gestapo's postings can be found at "Mormons in the Blogspot". Jeff doesn't want links to anti-mormon sites, so I won't give the URL, but you can google it.

Daniel Peterson said...

Thank you for directing us to some of Brendan McPherson's other public performances. Two observations:

(1) When he first appeared on this thread, Mr. McPherson (aka "BYU Gestapo") implicitly said that the notion of a "shotgun" was irrelevant to his case, since, as opposed to scattershot objections to the Church, his own reason for rejecting Mormonism was focused like a laser on a single issue: "I have recently left the Church and my 'gripe' is actually very simple: DNA shows the BOM to not be historical." Yet his subsequent posts here suggest that he did indeed have numerous "gripes" of various kinds predating his encounter with the issue of Amerindian DNA, and his posts over there, it turns out, are absolutely classic illustrations of the very "shotgun" principle that was under discussion here. (Notably, Mr. McPherson also eventually acknowledged, on this very thread, that, contrary to his own opening claim, DNA as such does not and, really, cannot demonstrate the BOM to be nonhistorical.)

(2) Mr. McPherson seems quite comfortable publicly chastizing Dr. Whiting for alleged scientific incompetence as well as for supposed intellectual dishonesty. He did it here under the pseudonym of "BYU Gestapo," and he did it on the "Blogspot" site under the name (presumably his own) of Brendan McPherson. Yet he seemed distinctly unenthused about my suggestion that he communicate his accusations against Professor Whiting -- accusations that the professor is unlikely to encounter otherwise -- directly to Dr. Whiting, for comment and response. I wonder why that might be.

Mike Parker said...

Mr. McPherson seems to also have created his own "shotgun" list of untrue, misleading, and distorted accusations against the saints, including such whoppers as:

"My Creator cares what underwear I wear."
"Monogamy is a lesser form of marriage."
"Follow Jesus...except don't drink wine like he did. It's bad...but Jesus never sinned...it's just bad."
"Search, Ponder and Pray...I mean just Pray."
"Having an eternal family means that I can blow my family off in this life while I attend to church matters and make it up to them in the next."

And on, and on, and on — there's 80 of them in all. So much for DNA being his single "gripe."

There are, of course, answers to every one, and nuances to many that he has completely missed or (purposely?) ignored.

Quite a bit to chew on, considering that he accused me, Dr. Whiting, and anyone else who believes that DNA evidence does not destroy a historical BofM of lying.

Physician, heal thyself.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Daniel Peterson:

Your recent post illustrates why FARMS, Whiting and yourself are not given credibility by most people.

First off, I am NOT this Brendan Mcpherson. He simply copied and pasted my comments into his blog. Since I don't have a blogger account he won't allow me to put up a comment stating such.

You just assumed I was this guy, just like you assume vast amounts about my personal "DE-conversion" as it where.

Apologists like yourself are not well known for doing "due diligence" with your conclusions, and this is yet another example.

I'm NOT Brenden McPherson!!

Regarding the "Shotgun" discussion, I still hold that the DNA issue was a SINGULAR catalyst for me leaving the Church and will be for many other people.

The rest that I described was background, intended for Mike Peterson. That background was not enough for me to leave the Church, obviously I stayed during the whole period. It's stuff that in hindsight fits, but was not critical in my decision.

Shame on you for going there. Personal points should have remained out of the discussion.

Second, aren't YOU the editor over at FARMS? If there are problems with Whiting's article shouldn't you be the one concerned?

It's easy to look tough to those who read the blog if you try to show how "unenthused" I am to speak to Whiting. How very typical of us two men to have a "dare off," lol.

You were equally unenthused to republish the Crandall article even though there is precedent for it.

Remember that you recently published a version of William Hamblin's article, "There Really Is a God, and He Dwells in the Temporal Parietal Lobe of Joseph Smith's Brain," Dialogue 36/4 (2003): 79–87. See William Hamblin, "Priced to Sell," FARMS Review 16/1 (2004): 37-47

Since you're in a daring mood, I'll take your dare if you take mine... :P.

Actually I'll take yours regardless. I'll email Whiting today and express my concerns. I'll tell him point blank that I believe his article to be misrepresenting and dilineate the issues I have with it.

I think you underestimate how tough academia is Daniel. Perhaps it's been a while and you've forgotten, but even as an undergrad when I would present in public, students and professors alike would be encouraged to tear you up.

And YES, even the word disingenious is used. In reality it intones more issues with candor and upfrontness than just out and out lying.

I've been accused of that very thing once by a Professor in BYU's Microbiology department. He hadn't read a particular article that I had and had assumed I was making stuff up.

Brutality in academia is really quite normal.

Bottom line is it shouldn't be anything Whiting isn't used to.

Mike Parker said...

BYU-Gestapo:

If you are not Brenden McPherson and if he copied your post to his blog as you claim, then you have my apologies.

However, I think the mistake was an honest one, everything considered. It is not typical for a blogger to copy a random comment from another blog and pass it off as his own creation. And in this case the blogger in question is a disaffected member of the Church. So there was every reason to believe McPherson was you.

But if he is not, again, I apologize.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Mike:

Thanks for the apology, totally accepted... :)

Anonymous said...

I just spent a good deal of time reading over these comments. I do not pretend to understand all of the biochemistry. It is apparent to me, that in spite of the DNA findings BYU Gestapo was indeed going to leave the church. He described the DNA finding as a "catalyst". By definition a catalyst is something that speeds up a process, implying that BYU Gestapo was already keen on leaving the church. By his own admission he had problems with the church beforehand, and all Satan had to do was throw this DNA evidence at him, which was right down his intellectual alley.

It amazes me how people can let one claim, to which they usually have the wrong notion, destroy everything that they DO believe. In this case it seems BYU Gestapo did not have a firm testimony of the gospel, and as the primary song states he was "built upon the sand". It is vital that every brother and sister have a testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon. It is infact the keystone of our religion. No intellectual testimony (if you can dare call it that) will suffice. If you do not have a spiritual testimony of the Book of Mormon, you are destined to fail. Furthermore if you do not nurture that testimony, you will fail. It is inevitable. It's sad to see strong, faithful members of the church grow lax, then fall by the wayside.

Over the years I have had many anti-mormon claims thrown at me. I am no scriptorian or expert on church history, so the claims naturally bothered me. However, because of my testimony, something that has been spiritually engrained into my being, I knew there had to be a logical explanation behind the attacks. After finding wonderful resources like Jeff Lindsay's website and FARMS, I was able to see the other side of the argument that the anti-mormons conveniently (and undoubtedly purposefully) left out. I now take every anti-mormon claim with a grain of salt. I cannot deny my testimony.

I do not say this to boast of myself or to degenerate BYU Gestapo, my point is to merely testify of the importance of a testimony of the Book of Mormon.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "Your recent post illustrates why FARMS, Whiting and yourself are not given credibility by most people."

First of all, I would like to see the evidence that I'm "not given credibility by most people." Most people haven't heard of me, of course, but among those who have, several seem to find me at least modestly credible. This may even include a person or two in those audiences at universities in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Taiwan to whom I was lecturing last month.

Then you can supply the survey data supporting that same claim against FARMS. And, finally, you can furnish the data supporting that claim against Professor Whiting. In the latter case, at least, you'll need to explain how your claim can be reconciled with his various awards, his service on National Science Foundation committees, the prominence of his appearances in Nature, his international visibility in scientific circles, etc.

I suggest that you stop permitting your urge to rhetorical overkill to lead you into indefensible exaggerations.

BYU Gestapo: "First off, I am NOT this Brendan Mcpherson. He simply copied and pasted my comments into his blog."

How was I supposed to know that you were not Brendan McPherson? I know nothing about you, but Mr. McPherson, whom I also do not know, posted your words as his on his blog. I apologize for the error, but, like Mike Parker, I think it was a reasonable (even almost inevitable) inference, under the circumstances. You will need considerably more than that to demonstrate that I and all my works are to be summarily dismissed.

BYU Gestapo: "You just assumed I was this guy, just like you assume vast amounts about my personal 'DE-conversion" as it where.'"

I can only go by what you wrote here, on this thread.

BYU Gestapo: "I'm NOT Brenden McPherson!!"

I'm inclined to credit your claim. You don't need to repeat it with emphasis any more.

BYU Gestapo: "Shame on you for going there. Personal points should have remained out of the discussion."

I've mentioned no "personal points" about you. Other than what you yourself have told us here, I know absolutely nothing about you. As it turns out, I don't even know your name.

BYU Gestapo: "Second, aren't YOU the editor over at FARMS? If there are problems with Whiting's article shouldn't you be the one concerned?"

Should I ever be convinced that there are serious problems with Professor Whiting's article, I certainly will be.

BYU Gestapo: "It's easy to look tough to those who read the blog if you try to show how 'unenthused' I am to speak to Whiting. How very typical of us two men to have a 'dare off,' lol."

You "dared" me. I haven't "dared" you. I simply think that, since you're insinuating gross incompetence and intellectual dishonesty on the part of Professor Whiting in a public forum of which he is almost certainly unaware, it would be appropriate and only fair to express your opinions to him directly. And I'm quite sincerely interested in seeing how he responds to your accusations.

BYU Gestapo: "You were equally unenthused to republish the Crandall article even though there is precedent for it.
"Remember that you recently published a version of William Hamblin's article, 'There Really Is a God, and He Dwells in the Temporal Parietal Lobe of Joseph Smith's Brain,' Dialogue 36/4 (2003): 79–87. See William Hamblin, 'Priced to Sell,' FARMS Review 16/1 (2004): 37-47


A rather different case, though that was a nice catch. Professor Hamblin had not expected Dialogue to publish his piece and had not heard back from them, so he approached us. We were already well down the road when it appeared in Dialogue, and decided to proceed with publishing it. That was not particularly at our initiative, and we did not solicit it. (It's an excellent article, by the way.)

If Professor Crandall approaches us to publish his piece again, I would probably be willing. But it's not a high priority with me, and I'm afraid that I'm not likely to subject FARMS Review editorial decisions to control by your "double-dog dares."

BYU Gestapo: "I think you underestimate how tough academia is Daniel. Perhaps it's been a while and you've forgotten

Scarcely. I've made my living as a full-time academic for two decades since finishing my graduate studies, and continue to do so.

I'm happy that you intend to write to Professor Whiting, and hope that you will share both your note and his response, should he offer one.

BYU Gestapo said...

To Daniel Peterson:


"Rhetorical Overkill," I like it. That should be a title of a movie.

It's not overkill if I believe every last one of the charges. Also it's not overkill if my language describes exactly what I'm trying to convey.

Besides I just sent Whiting an email with my concerns that I cc'd you on. So if it was overkill than why am I pressing forward with discussing it with him?

As far as Nature goes, leave them out of it. Their peer review process would have shot the FARMS article out of the water.

Whiting had to play by very different rules to get that article published.

In any event...cheers.. :)

Daniel Peterson said...

If you actually believe that the majority of people who know my work, and the publications of FARMS, and the scientific work of Dr. Whiting, refuse to take us seriously, that will clear you of the charge of acting on an urge to commit rhetorical overkill. Unfortunately, though, your acquittal on that charge will come at a high price, since it will reveal you as sincerely believing several things that are undeniably false, and as believing them on the basis of essentially no evidence. (What do you even know of my work? How many FARMS publications are you familiar with?)

I'm pleased that you have decided to attack Professor Whiting directly rather than behind his back. If he responds at all, I'll be interested in reading his reply.

Incidentally, in your note to Profesor Whiting you are incorrect in assuming that FARMS publications do not undergo peer review. This is a common misconception in certain ex-Mormon circles, based on no real information about FARMS practices of which I'm aware (though sometimes a misinterpretation and misapplication of something I once posted elsewhere has been used to support this inaccurate claim).

BYU Gestapo said...

Who...pray tell, who isn't a member of the Church, reviews the articles? Is it a blind review?

Also, there is work done by FARMS authors that is not published in FARMS, that goes through an apparently more rigorous vetting process that is well respected.

I'm talking specifically about work and literature printed under the umbrella of FARMS.

I know your FARMS work is not respected becuase it isn't referenced in any of the applicable scientific journals.

Why not encourage Whiting to send a dispatch to the "American Journal of Human Genetics" bringing up his doubts?

The body of work and publication put out in journals such as "American Journal of Physical Anthropology," "Journal of Molecular Evolution," or the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Science," does not entertain even the possibility that there could be a yet undescribed, unmeasured population in the Americas.

And until you show me non-Mormon Scientists from the field referencing FARMS publications in their own work I'll hold to my assertion that your work is not respected.

By the way, not everyone who leaves the Church is "anti-mormon." That's such a loose term to throw around isn't it? If you're not with us you're against us, is that it?

My wife is still very active in the Church and I have no problem with her doing so. She is aware of the issues and has her reasons for staying.

I get involved because, similar to the Evolution/Intelligent Design debate, I can't stand bad science. I choose to comment because the stakes are high with this particular issue. People need to be aware of all the facts and pertinent information to make educated choices.

FARMS, with it's agenda, get's in the way of that.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "Who...pray tell, who isn't a member of the Church, reviews the articles? Is it a blind review?"

It is a blind review process, and the reviewers are selected from the necessarily rather restricted pool of those who have an adequate knowledge both of the relevant secular discipline(s), whatever it is (or they are), and of the text of the Book of Mormon, adequate to form meaningful judgments about the manuscripts being considered. Few non-Latter-day Saints possess the latter qualification, so, necessarily, most (but not all) of the peer reviewing is done by Latter-day Saints.

It isn't a requirement of academic peer review generally that peer reviewers be substantially ignorant with regard to the material covered by the work to be reviewed, so it isn't at all clear why this should be a requirement for FARMS.

Nor is it typically required, in general academic peer reviewing, that the reviewers be hostile or indifferent to the central assumptions of a journal or a field of inquiry. So far as I'm aware, for instance, the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly doesn't require its peer reviewers to be non-Catholics, yet that doesn't seem to have wholly negated its status as a leading philosophical journal. And the same can be said for Faith and Philosophy, the journal published by the Society of Christian Philosophers.

For that matter, nobody seems to dismiss the Journal of Evolutionary Biology merely because it doesn't insist that all peer review be done by creationists.

BYU Gestapo: "Also, there is work done by FARMS authors that is not published in FARMS, that goes through an apparently more rigorous vetting process that is well respected.
I'm talking specifically about work and literature printed under the umbrella of FARMS."


I'm interested as to why you think you know so much about peer review processes at FARMS. Even if you were a veteran reader of FARMS materials -- which, by your own admission, you are not (since the piece by Professor Whiting was, as you've informed him, the first thing from FARMS that you had ever read) -- that would not, in itself, qualify you to comment with any authority whatever on the (necessarily largely invisible) process of peer review through which those materials had passed before you saw them.

Besides, the issue of peer review is something of a red herring. Anybody who's been around academics for a while knows that plenty of seriously defective books and worthless articles make it past peer review, as have, even, a number of flat out scientific frauds. By contrast, lack of peer review is no guarantee that something is false or without merit. Neither Newton's Principia nor Darwin's Origin of Species nor Plato's Republic nor Copernicus's De revolutionibus nor, for that matter, Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity was subjected to anything really resembling the current academic model of blind peer review.

I suspect, too, that you're laboring under a serious misapprehension about what it is that FARMS typically publishes (which is not surprising, since you seem to have read very little FARMS material). There are very, very few articles or books published by FARMS, if any, that come to the conclusion, simply, that the Book of Mormon is true. Rather, the typical argument is that, say, pre-exilic Israelite Asherah veneration is relevant to the understanding of 1 Nephi 11, or that double-sealed documents from the ancient Mediterranean offer parallels to the "sealed portion" of the Book of Mormon, or that Hebraic "if/and" conditional sentences occur in the Original Manuscript for the book of Helaman, or that the Rio Grijalva is a good candidate for the Nephite River Sidon. Merely being a Latter-day Saint doesn't oblige one to accept any of these claims; one can easily be a faithful Mormon while rejecting the Grijalva-Sidon equation, doubting the presence in the Original Manuscript of Hebraic conditional sentences, thinking double-sealed documents entirely irrelevant to the Book of Mormon, and repudiating any attempt to link Nephi's Tree of Life with pre-exilic goddess veneration. So the Mormonism or non-Mormonism of the reviewers of items broaching these topics (which are not hypothetical) is entirely irrelevant to how the reviewers will judge the quality of the evidence and the cogency of the analysis they are called upon to evaluate.

BYU Gestapo: "I know your FARMS work is not respected becuase it isn't referenced in any of the applicable scientific journals."

If you'll be so kind as to identify some of what you regard as the principal journals of Book of Mormon studies, we'll be better able to judge the merits of your claim.

BYU Gestapo: "Why not encourage Whiting to send a dispatch to the 'American Journal of Human Genetics' bringing up his doubts?

Has the American Journal of Human Genetics shown any interest whatsoever in Book of Mormon studies? Was Simon Southerton's work published there? Was Tom Murphy's?

BYU Gestapo: "The body of work and publication put out in journals such as 'American Journal of Physical Anthropology,' 'Journal of Molecular Evolution,' or the 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Science,' does not entertain even the possibility that there could be a yet undescribed, unmeasured population in the Americas.

Nor does anybody at FARMS. Not in the sense you seem to intend. (I'm guessing that you have not read, among other things, John Sorenson's An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, which would give you some sense of how people associated with FARMS actually do view these matters. But if you imagine that any of those journals think that everything and everybody in the pre-Columbian Americas has already been adequately described and "measured," you simply don't know what you're talking about. If you want to insist on that, though, you should write to them and inquire why they haven't shut down their operations, the task having now been completed.

BYU Gestapo: "And until you show me non-Mormon Scientists from the field referencing FARMS publications in their own work I'll hold to my assertion that your work is not respected."

You and others who advance that misconceived objection need to clarify whether you are asserting that FARMS publications are known and disrespected, or whether, on the other hand, they are neither respected nor disrespected because, overwhelmingly, they are not known. The former claim is demonstrably false. The latter claim is true.

The simple fact is that most scientists and scholars know little and care little about Latter-day Saint claims. Thus, they have no incentive to devote themselves to serious study of Mormon publications.

Moreover, it isn't as if, on the whole, FARMS is pioneering revolutionary new concepts in Mesoamerican studies, or sponsoring excavations in Guatemala, let alone developing its own genetic data. Those are the sorts of things that are reported in the scientific journals to which you refer. People who write or have written for FARMS (e.g., John Sorenson, David McClellan, John Clark, Michael Whiting, John Butler, and others) are frequently engaged in such enterprises, but not in their capacity as FARMS authors. FARMS is engaged in a distinctly separate undertaking, which is the application of findings from the wider world of the various secular disciplines to specifically Mormon topics (e.g., to the Book of Mormon itself). I have no reason to believe that the journals to which you refer would have any interest in such applications.

BYU Gestapo: "By the way, not everyone who leaves the Church is 'anti-mormon.' That's such a loose term to throw around isn't it? If you're not with us you're against us, is that it?

I'm not aware of having used the term anti-Mormon in anything I've written here, nor of having said anything about the concept of "anti-Mormonism."

Anonymous said...

I am very confused by you BYU Gestapo. You said the reason you lost faith in the church was because of the recent DNA findings. Your concerns were addressed and dismissed. To summarize the response: the Lamenite people mixed with the natives who already occupied the Americas. Over hundreds of years of mixing with the natives any DNA pattern leading back to Lehi would be non-existant. So what is the problem?

Now you are engaged in a petty argument about the credibility of FARMS. FARMS does not equal the church. Whether they are credible or not holds no ground concerning your issue with the church.

What is the real problem BYU Gestapo?

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo is offering us an illustration of the shotgun.

Mike Parker said...

For the sake of completeness in the historical record, BYU-Gestapo's letter to Dr. Whiting has been posted on the FAIR message boards:

LINK

In it, BYU-Gestapo makes a most revealing statement:

"Before I begin, it's important that I recognize to you that I've left the Church recently. My primary reason for doing so is that if the "Traditional Hemispheric" model regarding the Book of Mormon is incorrect, than I do not believe there is any likelihood for the Book to be anything but a literary creation."

Again we go back to the issue of dogmatic fundamentalism. For the Book of Mormon to be right, BYU-Gestapo's assumptions about it and LDS leaders' assumptions about it must be right — even when the book itself made no such claims.

This is a very odd way of behaving. Rather than letting the book speak for itself, BYU-Gestapo's testimony rested — solely, it seems — on what others told him about it.

Daniel Peterson said...

I too noticed that element in BYU Gestapo's letter to Professor Whiting, but was refraining from comment on it because, so far as I knew, the letter was not in the public domain. Now, however, that the letter has made its way onto the FAIR Boards, it's fair game for comment.

BYU Gestapo's notion that either the old, popularly held, but never canonized or official hemispheric view of Book of Mormon geography is true or the Book of Mormon is false (a) is extraordinarily dubious, (b) seems to reflect his (implicitly acknowledged) unfamiliarity with the arguments advanced by such authors as John Sorenson, Richard Hauck, John Clark, David Palmer, Matthew Roper, and etc., and (c) seems to indicate, once again, that, even if we pretend not to notice the other issues that he's raised and, instead, focus solely on Amerindian DNA, it is still not DNA as such that constitutes BYU Gestapo's problem with the Book of Mormon.

Müller said...

Anonymous said:
Your concerns were addressed and dismissed.

Müller:
I am sorry. Did I miss something?
Nothing was addressed and dismissed with regards to the core of what BYU Gestapo (highly inappropriate name in my opinion) has brought up.
see below...

anonymous:
To summarize the response: the Lamenite people mixed with the natives who already occupied the Americas. Over hundreds of years of mixing with the natives any DNA pattern leading back to Lehi would be non-existant. So what is the problem?

Müller:
The problem is that you do not even understand the impact of what you are addressing.
I was converted to the church in the eighties at age 18 somewhere in Germany.
No one who is active in the church here would have doubted that the Book of Mormon talks about all of the ancestors of the Native American tribes. Mostly American missionaries taught us that and I and some others later went into the MTC and then into our mission fields and taught others that. In my case Americans.
The converts in Central- and South America seem to not notice your LGT and that there well may be two hills instead of just one.
The Elders down there, I could imagine, would definately not say a word about all those neat findings which Dr. Petersen now conveniently states date back to Joseph Smith himself, i.e. "LGT was always taught, how could you not have known this, stupid".

Instead, the general populace of the church seem to combine in the chorus of "this church is true and so is the gospel and I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God".

My own wife is preparing a lesson for sunday school tomorrow and is just watching a lousy German translation of the movie "Legacy" as I write this. It is midnight in Germany, now. She believes all the manual and this movie tells her and will teach this to her class tomorrow.

But with (you) apologists
- FARMS really isn´t FARMS, its independant authors with independant views.
- Prophets aren´t really prophets because they don´t speak as prophets when they say or write something you don´t really like or doesn´t fit your contemporary agenda, or it was more of a "couplet" of sorts to start with. It was, you know, their opinion.
- Scripture really also isn´t really scripture, for example when a prophet wrote it down in a moment when he was not acting as such, whether that moment is now or 170 years ago or 3000 years ago.
- The church also really never is the church because THE CHURCH never says anything and really is nothing that is defined in any way other than by its legal status, maybe.
- The member or the disaffected member who made the mistake of taking what "the church" says and what "the brethren" say or have said at face value is not a member - he is a fundamentalist member or a fundamentalist disaffected member. To them "the gospel" is or was what "the church" taught them or what they believed the church stood for.
Immature of them because it should be much more mature to NOT assume that THE CHURCH has a clear stance on this or any other issue which is, well, different than what this fundamentalist thought it was.

Anonymous:
Now you are engaged in a petty argument about the credibility of FARMS. FARMS does not equal the church. Whether they are credible or not holds no ground concerning your issue with the church.

Müller:
See, nothing equals the church. You cannot hit a nail into anything. Thus, how can anyone have an issue with "the church"? Well, for one, any church are its members. Will "Geheime Staatspolizei from BYU" (BYU Gestapo) have an issue with its members? Will he have an issue with the theological implications of Alma 36 or 1. Nephi 8? Hardly! So what is the church, Anonymous?
I will not throw out the old issue bombs to ask you whether THE CHURCH did them even if the president in charge at the time may have known about them.

I, like many, turned to people from FAIR (not your club, I know) or FARMS for help when I had questions which were too precise or too specific to be answered by any given priesthood leader or home teacher with any more than the common Mormon agenda fitting the needs of the ward or stake.

But it didn´t seem like there ever was a kernel to the fruit called LDS church. It had just been an onion all along, leaving me with nothing but layers of torn peel and tears.
The Informed and the Learned of the church would resort to attacking the credibility of the character of the Inquiring. Assuming he have an "agenda" it was soon to be met with petty arguments all the while not or only nearly touching on the not seldom sincere and genuine concerns of the person concerned.

What a bull in the china shop behavior is this? People unattached to the apologist motives are watching this on the sidelines, mostly quietly. I was one of those. All along. I invested my life into the church. I didn´t like the basis of this life to be torn into pieces with likely even more to follow, including a family of four. This of course, wouldn´t be the church´s fault, it surely wouldn´t be your fault or FARMS´ fault. It would be mine, despite having believed in what THEY told me and what THEY believed and despite not knowing beforehand what THEY didn´t tell me.

Maybe you should pay a little more respect, anonymous.

If I have understood him correctly, THIS is what BYU Gestapo is criticising.
But then again, there really isn´t any FARMS. There are only authors of which BYU Gestapo supposedly hasn´t read many.

You may now feel free to "blow" my arguments "out of the water" as this practice is so frequently and whittingly put in other people´s postings above.

Mike Parker said...

And further, for the HGT to be a testimony-breaker, one must assume that general authorities are either (a) infallible or (b) have received revelation on the geography of the Book of Mormon. But no general authority has ever claimed a or b.

So, again, we're dealing with BYU Gestapo's presumptions being the actual problem.

Daniel Peterson said...

Müller: "You may now feel free to 'blow' my arguments 'out of the water' as this practice is so frequently and whittingly put in other people´s postings above."

Are these threads not intended for discussions and occasionally even for disagreements? Until Mormanity clarifies that they're actually for singing in four-part harmony, I'm going to proceed on the assumption that disagreement is permitted here.

Müller: "No one who is active in the church here would have doubted that the Book of Mormon talks about all of the ancestors of the Native American tribes. Mostly American missionaries taught us that and I and some others later went into the MTC and then into our mission fields and taught others that."

The mere fact that a notion might be widely and even unquestioningly accepted does not make it either true or revealed.

Müller: "The converts in Central- and South America seem to not notice your LGT and that there well may be two hills instead of just one.
The Elders down there, I could imagine, would definately not say a word about all those neat findings which Dr. Petersen now conveniently states date back to Joseph Smith himself, i.e. 'LGT was always taught, how could you not have known this, stupid."


Are you sure that this is so? I would imagine, to the extent that Central American members of the Church pay any attention to these issues at all, that they would be happy and proud to think that they live in the "real" Book of Mormon country. And surely some of them have noticed all of the "Lands of the Book of Mormon" tours that have been visiting their region for decades (but that, oddly, seem to have been ignoring Kansas, Illinois, Florida, and a great many other places that should, if the "hemispheric model" is true, be considered equally "Lands of the Book of Mormon").

Müller: "Instead, the general populace of the church seem to combine in the chorus of 'this church is true and so is the gospel and I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God'

And they are right to do so. The Church is true, the gospel is true, and Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

Müller: "But with (you) apologists
- FARMS really isn´t FARMS, its independant authors with independant views."


True. The authors are independent, and, apart from (usually) believing that the Book of Mormon is ancient and that it was translated by the gift and power of God, there is no party line that they must toe or unified position that they must advocate.

Müller: " . . . there really isn´t any FARMS. There are only authors of which BYU Gestapo supposedly hasn´t read many."

BYU Gestapo says that he hadn't read anything from FARMS until he read Professor Michael Whiting's 2003 article "DNA and the Book of Mormon: A Phylogenetic Perspective." FARMS has published tens of thousands of pages over the past twenty-five years, by hundreds of different authors. Unless BYU Gestapo has devoted much of his life to reading FARMS materials in the two years since Dr. Whiting's article appeared, he has plainly not read a very large proportion of what FARMS has published. And there is no evidence in what he has posted here that he has made such a dedicated study.

Müller: "- Prophets aren´t really prophets because they don´t speak as prophets when they say or write something you don´t really like or doesn´t fit your contemporary agenda, or it was more of a 'couplet' of sorts to start with. It was, you know, their opinion."

False. Prophets are prophets when speaking as such (e.g., very clearly, when their words have been canonized). When they are not speaking as prophets, they are not prophets. Nobody at FARMS of whom I'm aware rejects anything that the Church has recognized as a revelation from God.

Müller: "- Scripture really also isn´t really scripture, for example when a prophet wrote it down in a moment when he was not acting as such, whether that moment is now or 170 years ago or 3000 years ago."

There is no special FARMS or apologist edition of scripture containing fewer verses. My copies of the Standard Works are identical to those belonging to every other member of the Church.

Müller: "- The church also really never is the church because THE CHURCH never says anything and really is nothing that is defined in any way other than by its legal status, maybe."

Huh? If I can understand what this means, it appears to be false. It certainly isn't true.

Müller: "- The member or the disaffected member who made the mistake of taking what 'the church' says and what 'the brethren' say or have said at face value is not a member - he is a fundamentalist member or a fundamentalist disaffected member. To them 'the gospel' is or was what 'the church' taught them or what they believed the church stood for."

If such members think that "the gospel" revolves around matters like the precise location of the Jaredite city of Lib, they might find disagreement on such matters confusing. If, however, they understand that the gospel rests upon such propositions as "God lives," "Jesus is the Christ, the atoning Savior of humankind," "Joseph Smith was a prophet of God," "The Book of Mormon is an authentically ancient record of God's dealings with people on the American continent," "The authority of the holy priesthood has been restored," and "Joseph Smith's successors in the presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been and are prophets of God," they will (if they care at all) be modestly heartened by the fact that the scholars affiliated with FARMS hold to those propositions just as firmly as they do.

Müller: "Immature of them because it should be much more mature to NOT assume that THE CHURCH has a clear stance on this or any other issue which is, well, different than what this fundamentalist thought it was."

It is true that the Church has never issued a revelation on the geography of the Book of Mormon. In fact, it has consistently declined to do so. But such matters are, at most, of minor importance. On the important issues, such as the nature and destiny of humankind, the means of salvation, the deity of Christ, and many other matters, the Church has spoken consistently and clearly.

Müller: "it didn´t seem like there ever was a kernel to the fruit called LDS church. It had just been an onion all along, leaving me with nothing but layers of torn peel and tears."

Meine Güte! To me, the existence of God, the deity of Christ, the atonement, the prophethood of Joseph Smith, the doctrine of human exaltation, the restoration of the priesthood, the ordinances of salvation, the scriptures, the concept of premortal existence, the eternity of family relationships -- these and many items like them (too numerous to mention) are "kernel" enough to satisfy me for many lifetimes.  And the wonderful thing is that it's all true.

Anonymous said...

[i]Müller: - Prophets aren´t really prophets because they don´t speak as prophets when they say or write something you don´t really like or doesn´t fit your contemporary agenda, or it was more of a "couplet" of sorts to start with. It was, you know, their opinion.
- Scripture really also isn´t really scripture, for example when a prophet wrote it down in a moment when he was not acting as such, whether that moment is now or 170 years ago or 3000 years ago.[i]

It seems you have two problems: When is a prophet a prophet? AND what is scripture and what isn't. Allow me to explain.

It's quite easy to tell what is prophetic and what isn't (in other words what is God's word). As Daniel Peterson said, God's word is canonized. That would mean the standard works. In addition we are told things like conference talks and the Ensign are considered scripture (I think if you find it on lds.org, you can bet it's scripture). Scripture is divinely inspired, and is carefully spoken. Other writings from prophets, like a diary, are not scripture because the diary entries were not inspired of God.

Nowadays, we live in the "information superhighway". So many words and writings from general authorities and other figures are easily accessible. People falsely assume because the author/speaker was a general authority, that they are always revealing God's will. If we could read everything that the apostle Paul said in his lifetime, undoubtedly there would be things we would not accept as scripture, or from God.

There is a problem in the church. The problem does not lie with false doctrines or false prophets, it lies with the human fallibility of the members. We are told that speculative doctrine should NOT be taught in church. However, it often times is. There are members who are unable to discern between what is speculative and what is true doctrine (as is apparent in BYU Gestapo's case). I believe this is partly the reason why lesson books are given to teachers. They are meticulously prepared as to not contain anything speculative. As members we often find it more fun to speculate, but we should be careful not to spread it around as doctrine.

My sunday school teacher once related a story of how his testimony was shaken by speculative doctrine. His solution--go back to the basics. Ask yourself if the Book of Mormon is true. No scientific study can prove or disprove the Book of Mormon--the only way to find out it's divinity is by studying and praying about it. Scripture study and prayer are what testimonies are made of. Those two simple things that we are told to do over and over again.

BYU Gestapo said...

Wow! I leave for the weekend and people go crazy on me... lol.

To Müller:

I'm truly sorry that my name offended you. It's easy to think that after 50 years it's okay to make light of bad things. But there are still people like you for whom the memories are still close.

I apologize.

I chose the name because I've seen the Honor code office act like BYU was a totalitarian police state. Once, my own wife got called to be questioned about something a friend did, but they interrogated her as if she had done something wrong.

I remember a girl from my physics class that called in because "someone" had overheard her talking about going camping with boys last summer. She actually hadn't been talking about herself, but obviously whoever ran to the office thought she had. In the end it didn't matter because the Honor code office didn't believe her. The real crazy part was still to come, THEY ACTUALLY GAVE HER FORMAL PROBATION!

So I chose the name with reason, but I realize now there are those for whom it's in bad taste.

BYU Gestapo said...

The arguments "against" me as it where have evolved over the course of the discussion. Some points added, others taken further. They boil down to a few things:

1. You are showing us the shotgun.

Well, I'd argue that I haven't gone into (at least in any kind of detail) any of the other arguments people have against the Church: BOM plagarisms, Joseph's Mysticism, Kirtland Bank, Polygamy(and polyandry), Blood-Atonement, Mountain Meadow, Blacks/Priesthood, current use of Tithing funds, excommunication of intellectuals to name a few.

I mention those issues briefly for sake of argument and do not intend to touch them any further. But I want to make the point that I'm only talking DNA/BOM and how FARMS handles DNA/BOM.


2. You are a fundamentalist if you
A. Make the mistake of taking the prophets words at face value
B. Cannot discern when the prophet is acting like one and when he's not
C. Are not okay with the amount of latitude used to make the story of the BOM and Joseph Smith still be possible.

Mike, I love ya. You've been for the most part a very, very decent person on this board. However, I think you need to get a different word than fundamentalist for your argument. Perhaps you could say: "You lack fluidity," or "You need to have patience with the brethren."

But arguing that I'm an ill equiped member because I actually used to follow "every word from the mouth of the prophet," is obtuse, and doesn't give any credit to how much devotion and faith I displayed in the Church for over 20 years.

3. I Obviously don't know what canon is.

People keep saying that the hemispheric model hasn't been canonized, but it has. The title page of the Book of Mormon is CURRENTLY part of the standard works. That makes it canon by definition. It can be taken out and of course UNmade canon. But that hasn't happened.

The title page is just as much reveletion by our own definition as the proclamation on the family. Is anyone here going to argue that's not revelation?

Is anyone going to argue that changes you make to the text of any part of the BOM cannot be considered canon? If that's the case we have to go back to believing in a unified trinity.

To Daniel in particular:

A. If your corpus of reviewers are predominantly faithful members of the Church don't you think that puts an overwhelming amount amount of bias into your organization?

Non-member reviewers wouldn't need to have a detailed knowledge of the BOM. They would pick the Scientific end, and you could have other reviewers pick up the scriptural end. It's not rocket science.

If you really cared about the scientific integrity of what you are putting out you would find unbiased reviewers.

B. I very much do think that if non-member archeologists and or genetic anthropologists had heard that someone had found evidence for a previously undetected (in the non-members eyes of course) American people, they would be VERY interested.

C. You don't have to be "invited" to offer a dispatch or any other form of publication...lol. If you have something of interest, you submit it. If it's good, they print it.

My point about Dr. Whiting was that if he felt so strongly that sensitivity of Molecular technique as well as Phylogenetics was not sufficient to find ancient Hebrew connections as has already been reported, then why not state his case to the dominant journals in the field?

I think I already know the answer to that one.

Southerton never actually did (to my knowledge at least) any original research. He simply did a very, very meticulous review of the published literature and wrote his conclusions in book form.

So he had "new findings" as it were to put forth to the journals.

D. You said, "If you'll be so kind as to identify some of what you regard as the principal journals of Book of Mormon studies, we'll be better able to judge the merits of your claim."

I had stated, "I know your FARMS work is not respected becuase it isn't referenced in any of the applicable scientific journals."

The key word there Daniel is SCIENTIFIC.

E. You stated, "Neither Newton's Principia nor Darwin's Origin of Species nor Plato's Republic nor Copernicus's De revolutionibus nor, for that matter, Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity was subjected to anything really resembling the current academic model of blind peer review."

All of those works except Plato's Republic, (I have no idea why you included it) have been thoroughly, and I mean, thoroughly confirmed by what must be tens of thousands of research studies. So the affect is the same.

Are you arguing then that there's no value to Peer Review? You yourself said you do it at FARMS(sort of).

It's true that Peer Review is not infallible. But the attitude it instills of meticulous fact checking, searching for and removing ambiguity in one's argument, and just plain old high caliber writing is well worth it.

Above all, the social factor involved, knowing that the embarrassment you face from your collegues if you put out crap is a great motivator.

This embarrassment is lacking in your process because all your reviewers and authors want the same thing...the BOM to be true.

In your response to Müller you said it best:

Müller: "But with (you) apologists
- FARMS really isn´t FARMS, its independant authors with independant views."

(YOU) True. The authors are independent, and, apart from (usually) believing that the Book of Mormon is ancient and that it was translated by the gift and power of God, there is no party line that they must toe or unified position that they must advocate.


Apart from believing the Book of Mormon is ancient and that it was translated by the gift and power of God huh? Sounds like a party line if I ever saw one...rofl.

Don't you think that limits one's conclusions from the data just a tad? ;P

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "People keep saying that the hemispheric model hasn't been canonized, but it has."

If the hemispheric model of Book of Mormon geography has been canonized, it's awfully difficult to understand why John Sorenson and others on the BYU payroll have been so entirely free to publicly dissent from it for decades (including, for example, publishing articles in the Church's official magazine back in the mid-1980s advocating a limited geographical model and publishing books like Sorenson's Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon through the Church's wholly owned publishing house, Deseret Book). It's difficult to think of any genuinely canonical doctrine (e.g., the existence of God, the deity of Christ, the atonement, the antiquity of the Book of Mormon, the prophethood of Joseph Smith, etc., etc.) that could be freely and openly rejected, in speeches, in classes, and in print -- in the Ensign, no less, and in publications of Deseret Book -- by any member of the Church without repercussions, let alone by a member of the BYU faculty.

BYU Gestapo: "The title page of the Book of Mormon is CURRENTLY part of the standard works."

I think that you probably intend to refer to Elder McConkie's 1989 introduction to the Book of Mormon, and not to the Title Page, which Joseph Smith identified as having been translated from the ancient plates.

BYU Gestapo: "That makes it canon by definition."

By whose definition? There's a pronunciation guide included with the Book of Mormon, too. Is it "canonical"? If it is, then the "canon" changes for Spanish-speakers and German-speakers, and for speakers of Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Arabic, since their pronunciation of these names differs from that of English speakers. A bit weird, I think. And is the index canonical? Is the list of abbreviations?

BYU Gestapo: "Is anyone here going to argue that's not revelation?"

It's not revelation.

BYU Gestapo: "Is anyone going to argue that changes you make to the text of any part of the BOM cannot be considered canon?"

The introduction has not been inserted into the text of the Book of Mormon, any more than the index and the abbreviation list have been.

BYU Gestapo: "If your corpus of reviewers are predominantly faithful members of the Church don't you think that puts an overwhelming amount amount of bias into your organization?".

In the sense that having only evolutionary biologists as reviewers introduces bias into a journal of evolutionary biology, or in the sense that having only Catholic theologians review submissions to a journal of Catholic theology biases the review process for such a journal, I suppose it might. But you haven't addressed my point, which was that we're talking here about arguments within a paradigm, not about arguments regarding the fundamental legitimacy of a paradigm.

As I've pointed out, believing in the antiquity of the Book of Mormon doesn't commit a reviewer to any particular position on the question of whether the tree of Nephi's vision can be linked with Asherah-veneration, or on the question of whether Hebraic conditional-sentence patterns really appear in Helaman, or on the question of whether ancient manuals of olive cultivation contain parallel passages to Jacob 5. But these are the sorts of questions that actual FARMS publications have actually addressed.

BYU Gestapo: "Non-member reviewers wouldn't need to have a detailed knowledge of the BOM. They would pick the Scientific end, and you could have other reviewers pick up the scriptural end."

Nonsense. FARMS-published arguments overwhelmingly involve the application of some more or less off-the-shelf principle or point from the larger world of scholarship -- typically rather uncontroversial, and, incidentally, rarely "scientific" as such -- to the specific case of the Book of Mormon. Knowledge of the Book of Mormon text is essential to judging whether such application is or is not cogent.

BYU Gestapo: "It's not rocket science."

Precisely.

BYU Gestapo: "If you really cared about the scientific integrity of what you are putting out you would find unbiased reviewers."

If you really understood what FARMS is doing, you would realize that we do -- and you would stop invoking "science." What we do is, overwhelmingly, history, linguistics, literary analysis, anthropology, archaeology, and the like. It only very, very, very rarely involves what people typically have in mind when they mention "science."

BYU Gestapo: "I very much do think that if non-member archeologists and or genetic anthropologists had heard that someone had found evidence for a previously undetected (in the non-members eyes of course) American people, they would be VERY interested."

You may well think so, but I ask: Where is the evidence of this interest? Latter-day Saints do indisputably hold to the existence of Nephites, Lamanites, and the like, yet general interest in this proposition is, well, not exactly intense. As someone proclaiming his devotion to "science," doesn't it bother you a bit that your claim here seems to be supported by no data at all?

Anyway, once again, you've missed my point: Nobody at FARMS, for instance -- and John Sorenson's An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon illustrates the typical FARMS approach to this topic rather well (have you read it?) -- is arguing for the existence, in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, of a wholly new and biologically distinct people or ethnic group. The argument concerns, rather, the proper identification of peoples and ruins almost certainly already known -- and, thus, it involves linguistics, anthropology, and archaeology far more than biology (which may, frankly, have little relevance at all).

BYU Gestapo: "You don't have to be "invited" to offer a dispatch or any other form of publication...lol. If you have something of interest, you submit it. If it's good, they print it."

I'm not sure what you think you're replying to here. I understand how academic publishing works.

BYU Gestapo: "My point about Dr. Whiting was that if he felt so strongly that sensitivity of Molecular technique as well as Phylogenetics was not sufficient to find ancient Hebrew connections as has already been reported, then why not state his case to the dominant journals in the field?"

I'll let Professor Whiting respond to that, if he chooses. I don't presume to speak for others. You, on the other hand, seem not to mind doing so:

BYU Gestapo: "I think I already know the answer to that one."

Again, you may think so, but nothing in what you've written here suggests to me that I ought to take your guess seriously.

BYU Gestapo: "Southerton never actually did (to my knowledge at least) any original research. He simply did a very, very meticulous review of the published literature and wrote his conclusions in book form.
So he had 'new findings' as it were to put forth to the journals.


Exactly right. Professor McClellan, likewise, did a very, very meticulous review of the literature and published it with the FARMS Review. He didn't claim to be doing original research, merely to be applying already existing ideas to the specific case of the Book of Mormon. Which is, I know, how Professor Whiting -- whose record demonstrates beyond sane disputation that he is abundantly capable of publishing in top-flight scientific journals -- views his own contribution in this area.

BYU Gestapo: "You said, 'If you'll be so kind as to identify some of what you regard as the principal journals of Book of Mormon studies, we'll be better able to judge the merits of your claim.'
I had stated, 'I know your FARMS work is not respected becuase it isn't referenced in any of the applicable scientific journals.'
The key word there Daniel is SCIENTIFIC."


My point precisely. Nothing, in any of our responses to the Amerindian DNA issue, claims to be breaking new or unprecedented scientific ground. It is only applying consensus science to the specific case of the Book of Mormon. (That is, I think, the third time that I've repeated that point in this post alone.) Thus, there is nothing in these responses that merits publication, as if it were new science, in cutting edge scientic journals.

BYU Gestapo: "You stated, 'Neither Newton's Principia nor Darwin's Origin of Species nor Plato's Republic nor Copernicus's De revolutionibus nor, for that matter, Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity was subjected to anything really resembling the current academic model of blind peer review.'
All of those works except Plato's Republic, (I have no idea why you included it) have been thoroughly, and I mean, thoroughly confirmed by what must be tens of thousands of research studies. So the affect is the same.


And that invalidates my point . . . how, exactly?

I heartily agree that the rough and tumble of decades of research and debate is a far, far better and more authoritative kind of "review" than is the typical peer review process of having two or three distracted and harried people pass judgment on whether a piece of work deserves publication in the first place. Not to mention the fact that such a review process tends, as many observers have noted, to have a conservative effect on scholarship and science, since it is biased against proposals that seem too much to violate accepted mainstream consensuses.

That's why I favor letting the long-term academic marketplace of ideas evaluate theories and proposals.

Incidentally, I mentioned Plato's Republic, and could have mentioned other important works such as Thomas Aquinas's Summa contra gentiles and Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, because I'm not fixated on science as the only reputable mode of knowing, because works in history and philosophy and other such disciplines do go through the academic peer review process today, and because the work of FARMS overwhelmingly tends to focus more on the humanistic disciplines (e.g., history and literary analysis) than on the biological or physical sciences.

BYU Gestapo: "Are you arguing then that there's no value to Peer Review? You yourself said you do it at FARMS(sort of)."

I said that we at FARMS do it. Not "sort of." We do it.

I'm arguing that peer review is a moderately helpful tool that should not be fetishized into something it isn't and cannot be.

BYU Gestapo: "This embarrassment is lacking in your process because all your reviewers and authors want the same thing...the BOM to be true."

As I've noted, this is largely if not wholly irrelevant to the issues actually discussed in most if not all FARMS publications. You need to engage my actual position, and the actual reality.

BYU Gestapo: "Apart from believing the Book of Mormon is ancient and that it was translated by the gift and power of God huh? Sounds like a party line if I ever saw one...rofl."

You should get up off the floor, calm down, and make at least a token attempt to follow the argument.

Don't you think that limits one's conclusions from the data just a tad?"

I've addressed this several times already. Please engage the argument.
 

BYU Gestapo said...

I think that you probably intend to refer to Elder McConkie's 1989 introduction to the Book of Mormon, and not to the Title Page, which Joseph Smith identified as having been translated from the ancient plates

Dear Daniel, you need to take time to breath before you post. Elder McConkie died April 19th, 1985. Get your facts right.

Besides, was McConkie able to make such a change without First Presidency approval? You know that he wasn't.

I love how you guys(posters on the blog) argue somehow that an idea that began with an apostle and got put into our Standard Works isn't relevant.

I also love how you guys argue that the heritage of the Lamanites doesn't matter. Elder McConkie obviously thought it was an important issue, enough to add it to the Book of Mormon.

But you haven't addressed my point, which was that we're talking here about arguments within a paradigm, not about arguments regarding the fundamental legitimacy of a paradigm.

Shouldn't the legitamacy of your paradigm not matter to the rest of the world? Tell that to the missionaries handing out Books of Mormon.

Shouldn't your paradigm withstand the rigors of a cross cultural analysis?

You call it a paradigm, I call it your own little imaginary world.

It is only applying consensus science to the specific case of the Book of Mormon.

You've so missed the boat here. Consensus science leaves no room for the Book of Mormon. Or were you just talking about the Mormon consensus?

The argument concerns, rather, the proper identification of peoples and ruins almost certainly already known -- and, thus, it involves linguistics, anthropology, and archaeology far more than biology (which may, frankly, have little relevance at all)

So the self proclaimed non-biologist doesn't think biology has any relevance in the case huh?

You may well think so, but I ask: Where is the evidence of this interest? Latter-day Saints do indisputably hold to the existence of Nephites, Lamanites, and the like, yet general interest in this proposition is, well, not exactly intense. As someone proclaiming his devotion to "science," doesn't it bother you a bit that your claim here seems to be supported by no data at all?

Daniel, Daniel, the whole point is that if there were ANY validity to what you guys say, there WOULD be interest. The "data" I use is that I've never read in any Genetic or Anthropological oriented journals anyone taking an interest in any of the Mormon theories.

I guess being so busy reading real journals does indeed leave little time for FARMS publications... :)


If you really understood what FARMS is doing, you would realize that we do -- and you would stop invoking "science." What we do is, overwhelmingly, history, linguistics, literary analysis, anthropology, archaeology, and the like. It only very, very, very rarely involves what people typically have in mind when they mention "science."

Are you uncomfortable then with the word "Science?" Do you believe you shouldn't be held to it's standards?

Also, last I checked most Anthropologists and Archeologists considered themselves scientists.

Last I checked you have 13 articles on DNA alone linked on your website. That doesn't sound rare to me.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "Dear Daniel, you need to take time to breath[e] before you post. Elder McConkie died April 19th, 1985. Get your facts right."

Please forgive the typo. The edition for which Elder McConkie wrote the introduction was published in 1981, not 1989.

As someone who clearly confused the Title Page with the introduction, though, you should probably be a bit less smug in advising another to "get [his] facts right."

BYU Gestapo: "Besides, was McConkie able to make such a change without First Presidency approval? You know that he wasn't."

I'm sure that the text had First Presidency approval. Whether or not they were really paying close attention to the single partial phrase in the introduction that is indirectly relevant to this question, however, is another matter. Certainly I'm aware of no claim of revealed authority for the introduction.

Are you really intending to ignore my comments about the publication of such items as John Sorenson's book and his Ensign articles after the publication of the introduction? Do you feel no obligation to actually engage the arguments against your claim that the hemispheric model of Book of Mormon geography has been "canonized"?

BYU Gestapo: "I also love how you guys argue that the heritage of the Lamanites doesn't matter. Elder McConkie obviously thought it was an important issue, enough to add it to the Book of Mormon."

Nothing was added to the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon text is quite distinct from the introduction, as it is from the index and the list of abbreviations.

BYU Gestapo: "Shouldn't the legitamacy of your paradigm not matter to the rest of the world?"

The rest of the world is entirely free to question our paradigm, and, obviously, does so.

I've simply been trying to set forth for you the basis of the research and publication program followed by FARMS. Once FARMS has produced a publication, anybody in the world is free to examine it.

BYU Gestapo: "Shouldn't your paradigm withstand the rigors of a cross cultural analysis?"

Yes.

BYU Gestapo: "You call it a paradigm, I call it your own little imaginary world."

That's nice.

BYU Gestapo: "You've so missed the boat here. Consensus science leaves no room for the Book of Mormon."

That's the question at issue. Your declaration, which doesn't seem especially well informed, doesn't settle the matter.

BYU Gestapo: "So the self proclaimed non-biologist doesn't think biology has any relevance in the case huh?"

The self-proclaimed non-biologist feels entirely competent to decide whether biology is relevant or irrelevant to a whole host of subjects (e.g., film criticism, ancient history, symbolic logic, quantum physics, medieval Islamic philosophy, the poetry of Tennyson, southeast Asian politics, and business management). Such decisions are metabiological.

The province of biology is the biological. No more.

BYU Gestapo: "Daniel, Daniel, the whole point is that if there were ANY validity to what you guys say, there WOULD be interest."

But it is only interest in the topic that would lead to the kind of examination of the topic that would permit a well-grounded verdict as to its validity. You have the cart before the horse.

BYU Gestapo: "The 'data' I use is that I've never read in any Genetic or Anthropological oriented journals anyone taking an interest in any of the Mormon theories.

You seem to have forgotten that it is precisely the contention of Professor Whiting and Professor McClellan and others that "the Mormon theories" would have no genetic implications such that any journal focused on genetic questions should take an interest in them.

And, on the whole, denominational or sectarian questions don't make their way into journals of anthropology. (How many such journals do you monitor?) As it is, though, John Sorenson, for example, has published articles reflecting his Mormon interests -- though, following academic convention, not overtly so -- in such places as the Maya studies journal Katunob (as you are, no doubt, well aware).

BYU Gestapo: "I guess being so busy reading real journals does indeed leave little time for FARMS publications... :)"

I have no such problem. I can't speak for you, though.

BYU Gestapo: "Are you uncomfortable then with the word 'Science?'"

Not at all. I just don't consider literary criticism, philology, and ancient history "scientific" (unless it be, perhaps, in the German sense of wissenschaftlich). And, as a general matter of principle quite independent of Mormon concerns, I resist imperialistic efforts by philosophically naïve scientists -- usually not of the front rank -- to claim the rest of the world for whatever their particular specialty happens to be.

BYU Gestapo: "Do you believe you shouldn't be held to it's standards?"

Where do you come up with this stuff?

History should be held to historical standards. Holding it to the standards of particle physics, mineralogy, or parasitology would be rather silly, not to say incoherent.

BYU Gestapo: "Also, last I checked most Anthropologists and Archeologists considered themselves scientists."

I'd be (mildly) interested in the nature of your "checking." Did you conduct a major survey? Have you published it?

Anthropology is a borderline scientific discipline. Physical anthropology is more clearly "scientific" (in the sense that it approximates to fields like anatomy), while social and cultural anthropology are considerably less so. Archaeology falls somewhere between history and a science. I myself would tend to classify it with history.

BYU Gestapo: "Last I checked you have 13 articles on DNA alone linked on your website. That doesn't sound rare to me.".

Out of the many, many hundreds of items we've published, these articles, focused on a single issue, represent a striking anomaly. And, anyway, even several of them aren't principally concerned with genetic science as such, but with logically antecedent questions about the interpretation of the text. (How many of them, if any, have you actually read beyond Professor Whiting's piece? You've never explicitly claimed to have read any of them besides his, and your use of them just now suggests that you aren't very familiar with them.)
 

Mike Parker said...

BYU-Gestapo:Mike, I love ya. You've been for the most part a very, very decent person on this board. However, I think you need to get a different word than fundamentalist for your argument. Perhaps you could say: "You lack fluidity," or "You need to have patience with the brethren."

Actually, I think "fundamentalist" is the perfect word, and I'll tell you why:

"Fundamentalism" is characterized by a rigid adherence to what one sees as immutable principles, and an intolerance of other views.

In the case of so-called "Mormon fundamentalists," they believe that polygamy is a deal-breaker, a principle that cannot be revoked. When Wilford Woodruff and successive Church presidents revoked the practice, fundamentalists were unwilling to accept that, and left the Church.

In your case, you believe that the hemispheric geography model for the Book of Mormon is the only correct interpretation of the Book of Mormon, and must be a revealed principle. HGT is a deal-breaker. When others present evidence that such is not the case (either from DNA science or the actual text of the book), you were unwilling to accept that, and left the Church.

The only difference between you and the polygamists is that they started their own church, while you rejected the Church. Both of you experienced cognitive dissonance, and resolved it by rejecting the Church as inspired.

You claim that I'm accusing you of "[making] the mistake of taking the prophets words at face value." But that's not it at all -- I claim you are requiring a hyper-literal interpretation of the prophetic mantle, one in which all prophets are always right in all the opinions they hold and in all the things that they say. But the Church has never held to that idea, beginning with Joseph Smith himself, who went out of his way to warn people that prophets receive revelation, but they are also men with their own ideas, opinions, and theories.

You also say that my POV means that one "cannot discern when the prophet is acting like one and when he's not." But that is also not true: The entire purpose of the Holy Ghost is to inspire the members of the Church to know when the prophet is speaking from God and when he's not.

There is a little joke that is sometimes told among Latter-day Saints: "Catholics teach that the pope is infallible, but no one believes it. Mormons teach that the prophet is not infallible, but no one believes it."

BYU-G: But arguing that I'm an ill equiped member because I actually used to follow "every word from the mouth of the prophet," is obtuse, and doesn't give any credit to how much devotion and faith I displayed in the Church for over 20 years.

It's not your devotion I question. It's your over-devotion to the point of believing that everything coming from the pulpit is coming direct from God's mouth.

BYU-G: People keep saying that the hemispheric model hasn't been canonized, but it has. The [introduction] of the Book of Mormon is CURRENTLY part of the standard works. That makes it canon by definition. It can be taken out and of course UNmade canon. But that hasn't happened.

You misunderstand what canon is. The "canonized" part of the Book of Mormon includes the title page written by Moroni, plus everything from 1 Nephi 1 to Moroni 10. Everything else — including the introduction you are referring to — is there to help the reader, and represents the perspective of the authors who wrote it. It may be approved by the Church, but that does not make it revelation or canon.

BYU-G: Is anyone going to argue that changes you make to the text of any part of the BOM cannot be considered canon? If that's the case we have to go back to believing in a unified trinity.

If the above accurately represents what you believe, then you misunderstand the nature of textual changes to the Book of Mormon, as well as its teachings on the nature of the Godhead.

But that is a subject for another discussion.

Brendan McPherson said...

Dear Daniel Peterson,
I must say i do appreciate your work. I can actually say I am Not BYU Gestapo and am sorry I didn't credit him as author. I am Not a disaffected member, i still havent received discipline despite threats from mormons.