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

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Powerful Evidence Against the Book of Mormon

I was asked why I don't provide evidence against the Book of Mormon as well as for. Well, as part of what may be a more balanced approach, let me admit that there are many arguments that are used against the Book of Mormon. Certainly one of the most common, one that is viewed as a "slam dunk" argument by many critics, is the one based on Alma 7:10. Mormons, hold on to your testimony, or better yet, quit reading right now if your faith is weak, because I'm about to reveal one of the top 10 dirty little problems about the Book of Mormon, a problem that many critics say we Mormons don't want others to know about. And frankly, Mormons rarely get up in testimony meeting and discuss this problem, seminary manuals are silent about it, and missionaries rarely tell it to their investigators. It's like the whole Church is trying to hide a fatal flaw in the Book of Mormon that anybody with an IQ of about 40 or so could think of.

Still reading? Beware - because here it is. Alma 7:10 says that Christ was born in the land of Jerusalem, but the Bible teaches that He was born in Bethlehem. In fact, every school child knows that Christ was born in Bethlehem. Joseph Smith's fraudulent work was so clumsy, so ignorant of the teachings of the Bible, so devoid of intelligence, so absent of thought and research, that he got messed up regarding one of the most basic facts in the whole Bible. Absolute idiocy, an obvious flaw, and exactly the kind of nonsense we would expect from an ignorant farmboy trying to make up scripture on his own.

So there you go! If you're looking for a reason to reject the Book of Mormon, that's about as good as any.

However, if you're looking for understanding, you may want to ask yourself if there might be something more to this issue. It sure looks like a slam-dunk argument against the Book of Mormon, clear, logical, straightforward, undeniable. But many times the critics leave out some important information (often unintentional, I'm sure, at least at first). Could there be any possible answer to so powerful an argument? Perhaps. Take a look and judge for yourself. Actually, there is much more to be said on this issue than that link gives, but it's one place to start.

Here's a quick summary of the issues from the above links:
  1. Bethlehem is only 5 miles from Jerusalem, making it virtually a suburb of the city. Thus, referring to the birthplace of Christ as being in the land of Jerusalem is quite reasonable.
  2. For people long and far removed from Jerusalem, referring to Bethlehem as being in the land of Jerusalem actually makes more sense that referring to the tiny village itself, just like people from Brea, California or Sandy, Utah might tell Europeans that they are from Los Angeles or Salt Lake City, respectively.
  3. Ancient documents from Lehi's era support the concept of Jerusalem being viewed of as more than just a city, but a region including outlying villages.
  4. The Dead Sea Scrolls refer to the "land of Jerusalem" and a non-LDS scholar commenting on that passage notes how this phrase "greatly enhances the sense of historicity" of a document. It's an authentic phrase.
Overall, rather than being a major flaw, Alma 7:10 is an entirely authentic touch that is perfectly consistent with the hypothesis that the Book of Mormon is an ancient Semitic document. It strains credulity to think that Joseph would be so brilliant as to add that touch, when it is so obviously "wrong" to all the learned Bible scholars among anti-Mormon ranks.

And are we supposed to believe that the farmboy who was so ignorant of the Bible as to make the blunder of Alma 7:10 was at the same time so perceptive and such a great scholar of the Bible that he could detect and imitate Hebraic literary tools such as chiasmus or paired tricola long before they were well recognized by typical Bible scholars???

95 comments:

AlexG said...

Don't forget other 'fatalities' such as horses, steel or wheat. Man, did Joseph get it wrong! Maybe a bit more research on the current trends of scientific knowledge would enabled him to put more 'authentic' record.

There is also an issue that has not been put forward. It included the knowledge thac common people had about warfare manouvres. Should we examine the usage of military tactics, such as those utilised by Helaman or Moroni. it would require a formal training in military arts to include all of the warfare that is presented in the Book of Mormon. I would very much like to know how, given the environment of the United States in the early 1800's someone could imagine those guerrilla tactics. Was it pure luck?

Anonymous said...

Jeff if you are referring to my comments yesterday. No, you got it wrong again. No wonder you get such hostile comments at times. It is difficult to communicate with you. You suggested that I had duct tape on and could not see. Yet, after leaving comments twice yesterday, you still can't figure out what I meant. Or are you just making things up?
You said
"I was asked why I don't provide evidence against the Book of Mormon as well as for."
That was not what you were asked by me at all. I asked "Could it be that you are just seeing what you want to see?"
I did not ask for you to provide evidence against the BOM. I said,
"I see that quite commonly on your site every evidence you examine always points to the deviness or thruthfulness of the BOM or Mormon religion. Evidence supporting your belief system-100%. Evidence against-NIL "
Today's post was providing a well balanced approach? According to whom? It just sounded hollow to me. I hope you were not serious. And no, just so you understand. I am not asking you for a balanced approach. I am asking if your bias clouds the way you study the evidence? It is not likely that every time you examine something you get the answer you want. Meaning, every answer I get supports my belief system. If that were the case, I think an independant unbiased party should be employed to see if those results stand up.
Have you ever noticed that every time something comes out in the media about the LDS church that puts the church in a good light, it is true. You certainly post about such things here on your blog. And if something comes out that reflects poorly on the Church it is false, biased, inspired by Satan or the Church or its leaders were misinterpreted. It sounds so comic book that the Church is always good and right. Any evidence to the contrary is certainly the work of the Devil. That doesn't sound comic book to you?
I do agree with what you said yesterday though. You might just be seeing what you want to see. It's comforting to write about your studies and have other members pat you on the back and say how great you are and how right you are. Yet, when someone like me comes along and asks if you are biased about how you see things, you attack and become mean spirited. Or do you only want worshipers and followers of you to comment on what you write? How much could be learned from that?

annegb said...

I just found this blog from a link on Times and Seasons. Good blog. I especially enjoyed your post about bishops. It's so nice to know bishops are human.

inhimdependent_lds said...

Greetings Jeff,

As someone who is relatively new to the blogging world i just wanted to say hello and good job on all that you are doing. I have been observing you from afar! As a convert to the Church i have found your contributions and the contributions of others like yourself to be very helpful and beneficial- especially when i was a very new convert!

May God continue to bless you in all of your righteous endeavors!

Bookslinger said...

Anon (or Chris/Andy/Ram/Bill/etc.):
Again you mischaracterize by calling rebuttals "attack and become mean spirited."

Want some cheese with that whine?

Whininess, hyperbole, and mischaracterizations are hallmarks of the RfM crowd.

Look man, I'm sorry if you got hurt in the church. (That's the common thread for most of the RfM-ers.) Bad things sometimes happen. People fail because they are not perfect.

But your insinuation that only an "independant unbiased party" can legitimately study and comment on Book of Mormon evidence is kind of absurd.

Catholics are allowed to do Catholic studies, Jews are allowed to do Jewish studies, Muslims can, Mormons can, etc., etc. Do you go to their web sites and question if they are seeing only what they want to see? Why here?

It looks like you're just trying to sow doubt. You haven't brought anything new or positive to the table. It appears that you're following in the footsteps of disaffected and former members. The more people the RfM-ers "convert" to their cause, the more they feel justified in leaving the church.

Or are you claiming to be a true Bible-believing Christian and are come to save us from our folly? If that's the case, let me know, because I can respect them. I was somewhat of a fundamentalist/evangelical christian when I was younger.

Would you call the propaganda over at RfM independent and unbiased? Is all analysis of pro/con Mormon stuff over there done by independent and unbiased parties? No way! They're more biased than TBM Mormons are. Jeff allows polite anti-mormon statements here, but they don't allow polite pro-mormon statements there.

Do you want to see independent unbiased research into Book of Mormon claims? Then you go out and hire yourself some independent unbiased researchers, give them plenty of money, but don't tell them what to do, or how to do it, because then they would be biased by their employer. Why don't you set up an independent foundation, with an independent board of directors, and you just fund it all? If you want to see something, then _you_ pay for it.

Could your views be biased because you got hurt in the church? Mine did. Until I figured out that problems in the church are human failings, not God's failings.

The Book of Mormon is true. The LDS church is the Lord's official church. The problems in it are the faults of its imperfect members. As long as God allows imperfect human beings to be in his church, and take leadership positions in it, there are going to be some problems and some people are going to get hurt.

But it's been that way since the beginning of the world. Just a few examples: Adam, the first patriarch and first head of the church, one of his sons killed another. Jacob tricked Esau and his father. Then Jacob's (Israel's) kids weren't good. They sold the younest into slavery! They all lied to their father. They killed a whole village because someone slept with their sister. One son of Jacob slept with another one of his wives or concubines.

Even Moses had problems. David and Solomom had problems. Paul had problems with church members. Peter and Paul had a rivalry going.

The point being: The only time God's true church was "perfect" was the city of Enoch, and when it was perfected, it was taken from the earth. And the three generations of Nephites after the coming of Christ were pretty good, but by the fourth generation, things started going downhill.

Other than those instances, the official church has never been a perfect church.

If you've already left the church. I advise you, for your own emotional health, let it alone, ignore it, and live your life. If you haven't left the church, then seek resolution within the church, going up the chain of authority to resolve whatever offenses there were. If you want forgiveness of your sins, then learn to forgive others their trespasses against you. I know it's a hard thing to do. But if you don't forgive the jerks who hurt you, or at least give the judgement for their offenses over to Christ, it will eat away inside you forever.

Solutions or answers to human failings, yours or anyone else's, won't be found in proving the church wrong. Even if, just supposing the church is totally false, that won't make the hurt go away. You'll still have to forgive them (turn the offense over to Christ), eventually, in order to heal. The clue to the truthfullness of that is found in the observation that the RfM-ers never really recover and move on.

Anonymous said...

Here is proof that saying that Jesus was born in Jerusalem is biblically sound:

2 Kgs. 14: 20
20 And they brought him on horses: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.

Luke 2: 4
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem•; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

Anonymous said...

To BOMII or whatever you call yourself.
"Whininess, hyperbole, and mischaracterizations are hallmarks of the RfM crowd."
I dont know what you are talking about.
"Look man, I'm sorry if you got hurt in the church."
I didn't say that. Don't know where you got that from or why you think that.
"But your insinuation that only an "independant unbiased party" can legitimately study and comment on Book of Mormon evidence is kind of absurd."
I didn't say that nor insinuate that. I was talking about all of Jeff's studies.
"Catholics are allowed to do Catholic studies, Jews are allowed to do Jewish studies, Muslims can, Mormons can, etc., etc. Do you go to their web sites and question if they are seeing only what they want to see? Why here?"
I don't know or care about their religions. Only my own. They can think what they like or be biased if they like. I don't stick my nose in their religion or business.
"But your insinuation that only an "independant unbiased party" can legitimately study and comment on Book of Mormon evidence is kind of absurd." Again, I didn't say that.
"Could your views be biased because you got hurt in the church? Mine did. "
Then I think you are weak and simple minded. I have not gotten hurt in the church. Why do you keep saying that? Are you programed to say that?
"Would you call the propaganda over at RfM independent and unbiased? Is all analysis of pro/con Mormon stuff over there done by independent and unbiased parties? No way! They're more biased than TBM Mormons are."
I don't know what I would call it. I have never been there. I don't care what a bunch of ex-mormons think or write. You have been there from what you write. Why do you go there? What purpose does it serve? You go there and mischarecterize what people say too? You read into what people say there and then question them on your own interpretaion of what they say?
"Or are you claiming to be a true Bible-believing Christian and are come to save us from our folly?"
I don't know who you are nor does it interest me if you are saved or not. I was asking Jeff a question about his research.
"Could your views be biased because you got hurt in the church? Mine did. Until I figured out that problems in the church are human failings, not God's failings."
I read your some of your stories about your mission and experience with other members. I think you have major problems. I have never seen another missionary want to kill his companions. You scare me.
"If you've already left the church. I advise you, for your own emotional health, let it alone, ignore it, and live your life. If you haven't left the church, then seek resolution within the church, going up the chain of authority to resolve whatever offenses there were."
Left the Church. What are you talking about? Seek resolution? For what? I have no idea what you mean or what you are talking about.
Please don't address me again. It is too difficult to read your ramblings and the leaps you make in logic are incredible and absurd.
Interesting. I only ask Jeff if he sees what he wants to see when he examines evidence and I get this.

Walker said...

How about we cool down this written yelling match? Quite frankly (sorry if someone thinks this is cliche), I can see where all parties are coming from.

Anon:

Often, we members of the church are so bombarded with the same old drivel of "arguments" (if they can be called that) that we close ranks and descend into siege mentality. It's the tendency when faced with attacks from all sides. I actually agree wtih you; members often take trivial evidence too far in trying to "prove" the Church is true. I believe that such attempts do more to undermine the credibility of this work than any amount of fair questioning.

To address your question (at least general terms, and to speak for many church history scholars (a particularly explosive area of study for those whose gospel understanding is weak), I feel under no obligation to write a white-washed history of any element of the Church. You've certainly heard it before, but people (including prophets) are quite human. If you were to walk up to me and begin telling me that research showed that so and so had a certain imperfection (even a glaring one), I would listen to your claims, though I might disagree with your use of evidence.

Concerning bias on the part of Church members, I've generally seen Mormon scholars to be more forthright in their claims. Scholars such as Grant Underwood, Ronald Walker, and Richard Bushman, are all quite frank about blemishes on individual prophets, such as JOseph or Brigham (please see the new bio of Joseph, Joseph Smith: Rough STone Rolling). ON the other hand, non-Mormon scholars simply cannot take such fantastic stories seriously. Consequently, they dismiss them and the evidence supporting them out-of-hand as an anomaly, trickery, or outright fraud. This, I believe, limits free inquiry far more than anything LEGITIMATE MOrmon scholars do.

In my studies, I have learned some things that many Orthodox members would be uncomfortable hearing, at least in a Sunday School setting. Yet, these things do not shake my testimony. Quite the opposite, they strengthen it. As Boyd K. Packer noted, they teach us "how a man can become a prophet."

Sister in Indy said...

I'm not trying to answer for Jeff, but of course a person will usually see what they want to see when they examine evidence. After all, isn't that what they're looking for? I know I get excited when I find something a little bit tangible that may have connections to the scriptures. For instance, in high school, we were talking about how the Native Americans got here, and at the time the theory was the Bering Land Bridge. I put forth the idea that some may have come by boat. Naturally, being the only Mormon at my high school, everyone thought that was the most ridiculous, improbable thing they'd ever heard. Fast forward to college, Anthropology 101. Bering Land Bridge timing is off, but since there were people in Australia by the time there were people in North America, that meant that humans knew how to build boats and they could have come by boat following the shoreline around to North America. Come to find out, it only takes about 2 months to row from Oregon to Chile. Now, this certainly doesn't fit the Book of Mormon story, but going from "Boats?! You're nuts!" to "Boats are now a dominant theory" surely got my attention. Does this prove that the Book of Mormon is true? Definitely not. No amount of science will. In fact, no amount of science will prove that the Book of Mormon or the Church is true or untrue. But it's fun to see the clues, a little something tangible to wave in the faces (I don't really do that--I usually keep to myself) of those who have their "concrete" damnable evidence against the BOM or the Church. Don't get me wrong--I love science. I excelled in biology, chemistry, and physics in college. Core requirements were a drudgery for me. But I do have issues with the scientific community and the feeling that they know everything. Ironic since the body of knowledge is constantly being rewritten, not just added to.

I love this quote from Michael Crichton on the scientific community (from the intro to "Prey"): "We think we know what we are doing. We have always thought so. We never seem to acknowledge that we have been wrong in the past, and so might be wrong in the future. Instead, each generation writes off earlier errors as the result of bad thinking by less able minds--and then confidently embarks on fresh errors of its own."

It works for science the same way it works for the scriptures--you can prove anything you want to by them. Our view is tainted by our culture, too. I really wish we could learn the gospel in the vacuum. For instance, on another blog, there was a discussion about what it means for families to be together forever. Is it with just your spouse or your kids? I know that westerners typically think of family in terms of nuclear family, but in other societies, communal living is the norm, and family most definitely includes aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and the like. Either way is going to color your view on the matter.

The only true way to know anything for sure is to take it to the true authority--God. But it's fun picking up on little evidences along the way.

I can't speak for Jeff, but that's how I see it.

Mormanity said...

Hey anon, there was a tongue-in-cheek aspect to the post's "objectivity," but it illustrates something important: many of the arguments against the Book of Mormon have another side that, when examined, shows that the weakness may actually be a strength. It's a common pattern, and it merits thoughtful consideration.

You ask if "only want worshipers and followers of [me] to comment on what [I] write"? No - I welcome discussion about what I write here. Plenty of critical comments are left standing. But please note that you still haven't commented on the topics I've raised. Making more sweeping comments about bias without addressing the topics being discussed reminds me of the people I complained about, the ones wrapped in intellectual duct tape.

Now it is a legitimate response to say that Alma 7:10 is just one verse and could have been a lucky hit, etc., etc., or to indicate that there are more serious apparent errors that should be addressed first, but just crying "bias, bias" isn't very helpful here.

Let me clarify what I tried to say earlier: Of course I'm biased. I know God exists, I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I'm writing from the perspective of a defender of the faith. I'm willing to admit that there are questions I can't answer and things that I can't figure out (hey, I don't get polygamy, I wish the 1978 revelation on the priesthood had been given many years earlier, I wish the Word of Wisdom were more tolerant of tea and perhaps even coffee, I think tithing policies should include tithing deductible items, I don't understand some statements attributed to Brigham Young, and I am repeatedly frustrated that the Lord doesn't choose to do everything my way). But in the midst of all such issues, I still know a few things to be true, and I will defend them. So if someone argues that Christ was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem, making the Book of Mormon to be false, I'm not likely to buy it and leave the Church. Rather, I'll look for the answer that may be there, and if it's interesting, I just might share it. In short, yes, I'm biased!

One more bias: I don't like anonymous posts. I suggest getting some kind of moniker so we can tell who is who when commenting, but for now I'll allow anonymous comments as a convenience to those who wish to make a quick comment.

Patricia said...

Sister in Indy:

Michael Crichton's skepticism of the scientific community's groupthink is not an argument that bolsters BofM historicity.

Quite the contrary. He is a huge proponent of the scientific method.

He argues against the scientific community's extrapolation of minor evidences into grand theories and proofs.

Kind of like Jeff Lindsay. Set up silly strawmen, knock them down, and say "see, BofM could be true."

Crichton would probably look at the physical, archaeological, linguistic, anthropologic, botanic, metallurgical, literary, and other evidences of pre-Columbian Americas and say that no evidence supports a conclusion of BofM historicity.

Tom said...

"Hey anon, there was a tongue-in-cheek aspect to the post's "objectivity," but it illustrates something important: many of the arguments against the Book of Mormon have another side that, when examined, shows that the weakness may actually be a strength. It's a common pattern, and it merits thoughtful consideration."
Yes, I have noticed that when you want to ridicule or belittle what you don't agree with you use sarcasm or post with tongue planted in cheek. I have seen you call it humor. I called it being hollow. Don't think it is too helpful.
 "You ask if "only want worshipers and followers of [me] to comment on what [I] write"? No - I welcome discussion about what I write here. Plenty of critical comments are left standing. But please note that you still haven't commented on the topics I've raised. Making more sweeping comments about bias without addressing the topics being discussed reminds me of the people I complained about, the ones wrapped in intellectual duct tape."
You are wrong again. I have not made one comment about bias. I asked a simple question. I will repeat it. Are you just seeing what you want to see? I asked a question about your bias. I did not make "sweeping comments" about bias.

"Now it is a legitimate response to say that Alma 7:10 is just one verse and could have been a lucky hit, etc., etc., or to indicate that there are more serious apparent errors that should be addressed first, but just crying "bias, bias" isn't very helpful here." 

Round and round we go. I didn't cry bias. I asked you if your bias clouds your judgement when you examine evidence. It was a question. I did not say you were biased and your results should be thrown out because of it. What isn't helpful is for you to continue to say I have said what I have not.

"Let me clarify what I tried to say earlier: Of course I'm biased. I know God exists, I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I'm writing from the perspective of a defender of the faith. I'm willing to admit that there are questions I can't answer and things that I can't figure out (hey, I don't get polygamy, I wish the 1978 revelation on the priesthood had been given many years earlier, I wish the Word of Wisdom were more tolerant of tea and perhaps even coffee, I think tithing policies should include tithing deductible items, I don't understand some statements attributed to Brigham Young, and I am repeatedly frustrated that the Lord doesn't choose to do everything my way). But in the midst of all such issues, I still know a few things to be true, and I will defend them. So if someone argues that Christ was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem, making the Book of Mormon to be false, I'm not likely to buy it and leave the Church. Rather, I'll look for the answer that may be there, and if it's interesting, I just might share it. In short, yes, I'm biased!"

Great! I knew you were biased. Now, what I was asking is, Do you don't think your bias changes the way you look at the evidence that you gather about the BOM or the Church? Certainly the topics you bring up and discuss here are of concern to many LDS. I don't get polygamy either. I don't want to go into it but I don't think it casts a favorable light on JS. I don't like having to defend it each time someone finds out I am a LDS. I too wish SWK had received that priesthood revelation sooner. Would have been great to point to it and show non members how forward thinking the church is. I wish that the WOW had been followed by our early Prophets. Wish BY didn't like wine so much. Wish he had not become so rich in SL. I wish I wish I wish But, things didn't happen the way I would have wanted them to happen. What bothers me about these things is that members of the Church deny they happened, explain them away, or say it is just Satan's way of trying to destroy the Church. I think it just makes us look bad. It makes us look like we are afraid people will find out things about our past. I think it shows that we are afraid to say the Church was wrong. Also, I agree with what Walker posted about members trying to prove the Church is true. This is what he said
"I actually agree wtih you; members often take trivial evidence too far in trying to "prove" the Church is true. I believe that such attempts do more to undermine the credibility of this work than any amount of fair questioning."

"One more bias: I don't like anonymous posts. I suggest getting some kind of moniker so we can tell who is who when commenting, but for now I'll allow anonymous comments as a convenience to those who wish to make a quick comment."
I do not have a blog so did not get a moniker. I have not seen you suggest to others that post anonymously to get a moniker. Or is it that you just don't like what I have to say? Not sure why that would be. I asked a question and made no judgement on your findings. Was my question that threatening?

AlexG said...

I would take the side of what Tom/Anonymous presents, up to a point. Sometimes defenders of the faith have the same weakness as the Anti-Mormon camp, they tend to exaggerate information and present in their light, as well as playing some 'mental gymnastics' in order to defend an aspect of Mormonism. I wish to make it clear that I am not criticising your efforts, Jeff. I particularly like your line of reasoning in defending the Church. Your pages have helped me answer some questions that I had. Yet the point made by Tom/Anonymous is valid, though. In our intent to defend the Church, should we discard discarding questions or elements that would provide a negative response?

I defend the calling of Joseph Smith as a prophet, but not Joseph Smith as a human. Yes, I would have liked that he left the first presidency succession clearly stated, that the priesthood was given to all men, regardless of race or lineage on conditions of worthiness so that all mankind can be saved. That Bruce R. McConkie would have thought what he wrote a bit more before publishing so called 'Mormon Doctrine' and so many issues that could be said. I agree that we need to hold fast at what we believe (to paraphrase 1 Thessalonians 5:21) It is a fine line doing apologetics. I would not think, though, that in order to present a 'balanced' approach you need to include all the smut the Antis provide. But sometimes they have made LDS people search more in what and why we believe.

Patricia:

If Michael Crichton viewed the Bible with all the tools that you mention, what would it be the conclusions? What about the stories recorded there? A 'universal' flooding? A sea parting so that people could pass? Bread falling from the sky? A column of fire guiding a massive migration? What scientific evidence do we have of these things? The birth of Christ has been disputed. The image of Christ has also been challenged by modern science. Are the stories in the Bible false? Beware of the parameters you set, because Jeff has actually pointed out that the Book of Mormon COULD have a Mesoamerican setting. Not by building straw men, but by showing evidences of plausibility. He is not 'proving' that the Book of Mormon is true, but he is giving several pointers of why it could be a record set in the Americas.

Consider also that archeology has focussed more on Middle East and Egypt more than the Americas. There is still a lot that we do not know. And there was a lot of destruction of the knowlege of the indigenous people, both deliberate and from the passage of time. If the Book of Mormon was 'proven' by archeology, would you then accept it for what it actually is, i.e., revealed word of God through prophets to the inhabitants of the Americas?

Walker said...

Tom:

While I'm glad you agree with me, I assume you recognize the overall spirit of my post as a faithful. My issue lies not so much in defending the Church as it does in defending it blindly and/or simplistically. I do not want to jump into your personal debate with Jeff, but I must admit, the question you posed to jeff ("are you seeing what you want to see?" "are you letting your bias affect your research?") is so loaded that one almost needs a background check to ask it :) Again, just a bit of humor. All in good fun.

I agree that it would have been quite handy if President Kimball had received the revelation earlier. Then again, it would have been for Peter, I'm sure, to have received his revelation to preach to the Gentiles earlier. I mean, the issue divided the early Christian quorum like no other. Having seen the gammit of Church history, there is SO MUCH MORE I wish I understood.

But that does not preclude me from having a firm conviction in the Church's truthfulness. In some ways, these weaknesses highlight the greatness of the Church's potential, just as the founding fathers' foibles did not stand in the way of creating the longest standing, self-created Constitution in world history.

Tom, I would encourage you to rethink what your membership in the church really means. Does spiritual knowledge really come down to how many hidden skeletons we know about?
Hardly. Don't let present day (dare I say it?) biases stand in the way of understanding Joseph's/Brigham's/the Church's past as it was understood at the time. As I said before, I know about things that some church members would not feel comfortable knowing. That does not place me above them. Rather, we just use different raw materials to form the same artwork of testimony.

Mormanity said...

One doesn't need a blog to have a moniker - just register at blogger.com. I would encourage commenters to do it.

I may only be seeing part of the picture when I make comments. Of course - that's true for all of us. So if you are concerned that I'm missing soem perspectives, feel free to fill me in - preferably staying somewhat on topic.

Daniel Peterson said...

Patricia: "Crichton would probably look at the physical, archaeological, linguistic, anthropologic, botanic, metallurgical, literary, and other evidences of pre-Columbian Americas and say that no evidence supports a conclusion of BofM historicity."

I hate to seem ungrateful. The appearance, here, of a bona fide mind reader is certainly cause for rejoicing, and I have no doubt whatever that Patricia has mastered all of the relevant pre-Columbian linguistic, anthropological, botanical, metallurgical, literary, and other data, and properly applied that vast collection of data to the question of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

But even if Patricia's valuable insight into how Michael Crichton would probably react to the question of Book of Mormon historicity is true -- and I'm certainly not qualified to dispute her intuition -- so what?

I've never taken Michael Crichton as my guide in any important life decision. Why should his hypothetical opinion regarding matters in which he has no demonstrated interest or expertise be my guide in this matter?

Patricia said...

Daniel Peterson

Snarkiness does not profundity make.

When an authority figure is cited to bolster one's argument (as was Crichton), it becomes relevant to the discussion to point out if that figure is being represented properly.

I would take the same approach with you, but you don't meet the qualification.

Anonymous said...

Who did the better job or representing Crichton - the person who gives an exact quote from him, or someone who tells us what they think he would conclude in a hypothetical teaching?

Daniel Peterson said...

Patricia: "Snarkiness does not profundity make."

Nor does it shallowness make. It's in a different category. "Snarkiness," if I understand the term, concerns tone. Profundity refers to content. Profound comments can be made in all sorts of tones, as can shallow comments.

Patricia: "I would take the same approach with you, but you don't meet the qualification."

Right. Whatever that may mean.

I still don't see why anybody should care about your ascription of a hypothetical opinion to Michael Crichton concerning what pre-Columbian linguistic, anthropological, botanical, metallurgical, literary, and other data, with which he probably has only a passing acquaintance, might indicate about the historicity of the Book of Mormon, with which he probably isn't very familiar.

Anonymous said...

"We think we know what we are doing. We have always thought so. We never seem to acknowledge that we have been wrong in the past, and so might be wrong in the future. "
Maybe when he wrote that, MC had people like you in mind, Dan.

Daniel Peterson said...

Maybe. Maybe not. Do you have any evidence or analysis to suggest that he did? And anything to indicate that, if he did, he would be right? And anything to suggest that anybody should care if he did?

Ascribing hypothetical opinions to Michael Crichton (with whom nobody here seems to be personally acquainted) about things or people regarding which he's said nothing and of which he probably knows nothing, and then using these fictional opinions as if they somehow constituted evidence against Latter-day Saints, seems to be popular on this thread, for some reason. It strikes me as pretty eccentric behavior.

Anonymous said...

I think her point Dan is that since you have a plainly discerible habit of platitude and pretention you display wherever you leave comment, being "snidely derisive," (snark) just exposes your weakness more.

I mean, are you really a BYU professor? Do BYU professors talk this way? Debate this way? No wonder the antis, (and apparently a lot of other people) hate you.

Daniel Peterson said...

anonymous: "I think her point Dan is that since you have a plainly discerible habit of platitude and pretention you display wherever you leave comment, being "snidely derisive," (snark) just exposes your weakness more."

Perhaps. But, of course, if that's really her point, she's committing a non sequitur. Sarcasm or irony is a mode of presentation. In itself, sarcasm and/or irony says nothing about the strength or weakness of a point or an argument, since both strong and weak points can be made with or without sarcasm and/or irony. The strength or weakness of a position has to be judged on the basis of its cogency, its basis in evidence, and the validity of the reasoning used to support it. The tone or method of its presentation is irrelevant to the question of its truth or falsity. For instance, the proposition "2+2=4" is either true or false. Whether it's written in crayon, spoken in Navajo, communicated by a vicious swine like myself or by a wonderful person like you, delivered with a snarl, or explained while laughing is immaterial.

Incidentally, you're wrong about the "pretension." I really am pompous and evil. I'm not pretending.

I have no idea, however, what you intend by your reference to my "plainly discerible habit of platitude." I haven't used a single "platitude" here. It's very difficult, and perhaps impossible, to be platitudinous at the same time one is being snarky.

anonymous: "I mean, are you really a BYU professor?"

Yes. And I post here under my real name.

anonymous: "Do BYU professors talk this way?"

Clearly, at least one does. At least occasionally.

anonymous: "Debate this way?"

Nothing here has risen to anywhere near the level of a debate, let alone an academic debate. I'm simply having fun, and I hope you are, too.

anonymous: "No wonder the antis, (and apparently a lot of other people) hate you."

No wonder. I'm an eminently hateable person. Incredibly unpleasant, and widely disliked. You should see my neighborhood. Nobody speaks to me. For at least a block around my house, the place looks like Mordor. Mothers gather their children together when I pass by. Dogs howl and strain at their leashes. Halloween is my high holy day.

Daniel Peterson said...

Now that we've agreed that I'm a despicable creep who is understandably hated by many people, perhaps we can talk about Alma 7:10, the matter that Mormanity raised here, or something actually relevant to that topic.

I think that the unexpectedly authentic character of the reference to a "land of Jerusalem" constitutes a small but interesting bit of evidence for the Semiticism and historicity of the Book of Mormon.

Does anybody other than Michael Crichton have an opinion on this issue? Is that opinion supported by relevant data and logic?

Anonymous said...

I think instead of asking Jeff if he's biased, it would be better to actually dispute some of the statements he makes. I really don't think there's a such thing as "unbiased"--not when it comes to religion anyways.

Dan the Man said...

No evidence to support it? How abou the mayans, the olmecs, toltecs, and just about every culture that shows influence of Jaredite and Nephite civilization? If you don' believe the Book of Mormon could have been written in reformed egyptin, go to such sites as Ek'Balam, and look at their writings, and you try and tell me thatr they don't bear a suspicious resemblance to hierieoglyphics.

There's other evidence, but the things that astound me most are not what's been left by these people, but in reading about their behaviors, how dead-on Joseph Smith was, even before scientists knew things, such as river valleys in Arabia, various sheikh customs, the warring tendencies of people of central asia, and so much more.

Sister in Indy said...

Just to clarify: I wasn't setting up Michael Crichton as some sort of authority on anything. I was simply trying to not plagiarize by properly citing my quote. I liked the quote. He put into words better than I could an opinion that I had.

I just think it's interesting how people try to prove that the Book of Mormon is wrong based on the selfsame science that continuously finds little clues here and there and then tries to explain them with a very limited theory that leaves no room for any other explanation until a few short years down the road, scientists find more little clues and have to revamp their theories. I've seen it time and time again in the short amount of time that I've been on the Earth. Yet, people put so much stock into scientific evidence and the interpretation du jour.

Daniel Peterson said...

Sister in Indy: "I wasn't setting up Michael Crichton as some sort of authority on anything. I was simply trying to not plagiarize by properly citing my quote. I liked the quote. He put into words better than I could an opinion that I had.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with your citation of Michael Crichton, and nothing wrong with the quotation itself, which is a really good one that was also relevant to the discussion.

What I had a problem with here, in my customarily vicious, spiteful, and loathesome way, was arbitrary attempts by manifestly biased people to assign opinions to Michael Crichton regarding matters of which he's said nothing and of which he most likely knows nothing, and then using those assigned opinions as if they somehow represented evidence against Mormonism.

No wonder many people hate me.

Alma 7:10 still seems fairly impressive, though, despite the fact that Patricia and Anonymous don't appear to want to discuss it.

Walker said...

Dan:

Even if you are utterly repulsive and the very embodiment of all that is wrong in the world, you are also eminently hilarious. Today was a little rough for me. After reading your post on your hateability factor, at least I knew that I'm not alone (break out the Michael McClean everybody!)

AlexG said...

OK, serious question. When did the name of Jehova first appear on biblical texts. Was it on the Septuagint? On the Talmud utilised by ancient Jews? Or did it appear until the later Masoteric texts? Could the use of the name of Jehova be considered an anacronism in the Book of Mormon? I understand that the Book of Mormon is a translation and Jehova makes sense in a modern context, but I just wondering. I am not an expert on Middle East terminology, so if Bro. Peterson, or any that knows anything about it, would care to enlighten I would much appreciate this.

Daniel Peterson said...

There is much debate about the age of various biblical texts, but there is no debate that, for instance, the name Yahweh appears in the eighth-century BC inscription at Kuntillet Ajrud. So it's definitely old enough for the Book of Mormon, and not anachronistic.

Daniel Peterson said...

Oh. Perhaps you meant Jehovah instead of the more accurate transliteration, Yahweh?

In that case, Jehovah originates in the sixteenth century AD.

But I don't see that as any kind of a problem for the Book of Mormon. Jehovah was the universally accepted English version of that divine name for several centuries.

Bookslinger said...

Do the Dead Sea Scrolls align closer to the Septuagint or to the Masoretic Text?

Daniel Peterson said...

On the matter of the name Yahweh, they don't differ significantly. (Obviously, Greek represents that name differently than does Hebrew, but it's undeniably the same name.)

In other regards, the Dead Sea Scrolls appear to represent a third manuscript tradition, distinctively similar in some ways to the Masoretic text but, in others, to the Septuagint.

Daniel Peterson said...

It seems that Patricia and the kindly Anonymous have disappeared.

Attempts to get certain critics to deal in substance (as opposed to mere sneering and the delivery of sweeping, uninformed, and unsubstantiated hostile judgments) frequently appear to have that effect on them: It was very effective, recently, with "Frank," on the thread discussing cognate accusative constructions and Lehi as a "visionary man." He simply vanished.

It's hard not to think of the way garlic, crucifixes, and wolfsbane function in horror movies.

Samuel said...

"It's hard not to think of the way garlic, crucifixes, and wolfsbane function in horror movies."

Hehe. The same thought occurred to me.

I think the explanation of telling people the city name they would be familiar with (such as I do when I tell people I live in Orlando when I really live in Chuluota, FL) is a pretty powerful bit of evidence. And tellingly, he doesn't simply say the City of Jerusalem, but the Land thereof. Very interesting and yet one more piece of the puzzle.

Mormanity said...

In an attempt to being some degree of closure here, let me note what I think has been learned in the comments above:

1. "It's very difficult, and perhaps impossible, to be platitudinous at the same time one is being snarky."

2. The intellectual content of an argument should be the focal point of actual debate. Sideshows about alleged bias or snarkiness contribute little of substance.

3. Daniel Peterson is truly evil, using the RFM definition of the word (synonymous with "Mormon defender"). May there be a flood of such evil doers!

4. I am still curious about response to the Alma 7:10 issue and many other issues that have been raised by LDS defenders.

Anonymous said...

"Rather, I'll look for the answer that may be there, and if it's interesting, I just might share it. In short, yes, I'm biased!"
 "Sideshows about alleged bias or snarkiness contribute little of substance."
It is bad enough that you can't remember what some commenters say Jeff, But now you can't even remember admitting yourself to being biased. Why is it now that your admitted bias is "alleged"?

Daniel Peterson said...

Hear hear! Now we're getting some discussion.

Sheesh. Let's get back to talking about Mormon bias and some Mormons' snarkiness and even, perhaps, how certain Mormons deserve widespread contempt. Anything rather than discussing the substantive matters that the thread was intended to treat.

Bill said...

"Anything rather than discussing the substantive matters that the thread was intended to treat."

Oh, Daniel, please tell us about that substantive evidence in the BofM that proves historicity...you know, guerilla warfare...who needs archaeological evidence, DNA, evidences of horses, steel, etc. when we can talk about the Gadianton Che Guevara...

Daniel Peterson said...

I assume that you're aware of the various treatments, by believers in the Book of Mormon, of Amerindian DNA, steel, horses, and archaeology. (There are some good things coming down the pike, too.)

I never speak of "proof" of historicity. Such proof does not currently exist, and it is very unlikely that it will be found. (It is also unlikely that disproof of historicity will be found, and it certainly does not currently exist.) Historical "proof," apart from rather mundane, undisputed, and specific matters, is quite hard to come by, whether we're talking about Mormonism or anything else.

However, there is evidence that is supportive of Book of Mormon historicity. For instance, as I've argued publicly and in print, the depiction of guerrilla warfare in the Book of Mormon is strikingly plausible, and it does not appear to be the kind of thing that would have come from the mind of Joseph Smith or could have been easily derived from his information environment.

Apart, of course, from the usual sneering, condescension, and mockery, do you have any actual evidence or analysis to show that I'm wrong on that point? Please do offer some substance.

And feel free to comment (substantively) on Alma 7:10.

Anonymous said...

"The appearance, here, of a bona fide mind reader is certainly cause for rejoicing,..."
"... and it does not appear to be the kind of thing that would have come from the mind of Joseph Smith"
Yeah Dan. Thanks for the insight into the Prophets mind. Can you please tell us what was going through his mind when he found his trusted seer stone?

Walker said...

"Yeah Dan. Thanks for the insight into the Prophets mind. Can you please tell us what was going through his mind when he found his trusted seer stone?"

We were actually making some intellectual headway, but suddenly, in a fit of absurdity, our friend Anon@10:47 decided he would have none of it.

Really now, Anon, I would assume you're better than such cheap shots. Indeed, your argument hardly rises above a chortle, lacking substance or even seriousness.

As to Dan's supposed ability for mind-reading (while he is evil, endowed with evil powers ;), he is simply following the standards for intellectual historians (See Joseph Ellis' bio. of Thomas Jefferson, American Sphinx). Our best way to determine what one thought is to see what one read. The method is imperfect, it is true. But it does tell us SOMETHING. And what Joseph read was next to nil. Hence, it is fair to say that he probably knew very little about writing a history of anybody, let alone a group of ancient American religious clerics who claim Hebraic descent. Covering one's basis on that feat is enough to give Mark Hoffman a migraine!

If you wish to engage in the debate on Joseph's use of the seer stone, what it meant for the translation, etc., please do so. But if not, spare us all from the lame-witted comments intended to entertain its writer than inform its reader.

AlexG said...

I was trying to refer to the name Yawheh. I just didn't know how to spell it correctly. And it appears that I didn't do a great job on Jehovah.Thank you very much, Bro. Peterson, for the information.

Walker said...

In fact, I'm beginning to ponder a ponder. What if the critics on this board actually DIDN'T know anything about the accusations they make? What if THEY were the puppets, not the Mormons (an accusation I am far too familiar with) So far, I've given many the benefit of the doubt. But when they attack evidence by simply relating to a modern Communist leader, I really begin to wonder.

And yes, logic requires solid evidence to support an argument, not just passionately held belief.

Anonymous said...

Walker said:

"If you wish to engage in the debate on Joseph's use of the seer stone, what it meant for the translation, etc., please do so. But if not, spare us all from the lame-witted comments intended to entertain its writer than inform its reader.."

Sorry, no comment was made. Just a question about what the Prophet was thinking when he found a rock and called it a seer stone.

"Really now, Anon, I would assume you're better than such cheap shots. Indeed, your argument hardly rises above a chortle, lacking substance or even seriousness."

Sorry, again, there was no arguement. It was a question.

Bookslinger said...

Because Jeff has admitted to being biased, we can no longer trust anything he says, including his claim to be biased. Therefore, further claims of his bias (by him or by others) must continue to be "alleged" until we have an independent study commission (composed of independent non-Mormons, but not anyone with a history of Mormon-bashing) certify as to whether he is indeed biased or not.

But then, who will certify that the study commission is itself non-biased?

Bookslinger said...

Same theme, new variation.

Welcome back CB/Andy/Chris/Bill.

Walker said...

Anon:

Perhaps I was a bit rash in accusing you of rashness :) However, I've read other terse of a similar vein from other folks. In the end, they seem to exhibit a the attitude that I described. And quite frankly, your "yeah Dan. thank you for the insight..." smacks of sarcasm.

No matter. Perhaps you can prove me wrong by actually engaging in the evidence. What say you about Alma 7:10 or even seer stones? That would yield some fruitful discussion.

Walker said...

Correction: That should be "other terse comments/questions"

Bookslinger said...

Actual text of Alma 7:10,

"10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God."
Here's a link.

So it doesn't exactly match the "land of Jerusalem" of the Dead Sea Schools, but the concept is close enough.

But when talking about a village that is a suburb of a city on the other side of the world, I like the Brea/Los Angeles, or Sandy/Salt Lake analogy.

When I was in Ecuador, the whole continental United States was referred to as "Nueva York". When we tried to eplain that New York was just one city of many cities, or just one state of many states, they still insisted that "New York" was a valid synonym for the United States, since that was the biggest or principle city, or the one that all Ecuadorians went to.

Daniel Peterson said...

Anonymous 10:47: "Yeah Dan. Thanks for the insight into the Prophets mind. Can you please tell us what was going through his mind when he found his trusted seer stone?

You seem to be constantly shifting subjects, so as to avoid a substantive discussion on anything. It really is reminiscent of garlic, crucifixes, and wolfsbane.

In my published discussion of "Gadianton Masonry," I provided evidence -- though not as much as I could have provided -- for Joseph Smith's attitude toward things military, and showed that Gadiantonism did not appear to spring from his experience or attitude, but that it does seem strikingly realistic and plausible.

That is rather different from simply making up an opinion on a topic, ascribing that opinion to someone who has never shown the slightest interest in the topic and has never commented on it, and then, assuming the fictional opinion to be fact, using it as evidence against those whose opinion differs. To ascribe an opinion to somebody when there is no evidence that he held or holds such an opinion is quite different from concluding, since there is no evidence that a person held such an opinion or had a particular attitude, that he probably didn't.

If you wish to dispute my evidence and analysis on that point, please do so. But, in order for your critique to be at all meaningful, you will need to dispute my positon on the basis of your own evidence and analysis. Sneering condescension does not constitute an argument.

Do you have anything to say about Alma 7:10? Do you have any substantive positions at all? Or are you merely striking poses?

Samuel said...

"Do you have anything to say about Alma 7:10? Do you have any substantive positions at all? Or are you merely striking poses?"

I guess he went back to the RfM boards with all of our other former "friends" from this blog. Over there, they don't need to engage in substantive arguments, just outlandish stories, ie that "returned missionary" who was so sick. We missed his post over there where he stated that they nearly had to amputate his foot from another sickness.

Walker said...

Another one bites the dust!

Bookslinger said...

Sam, they're just the same two people.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is supposed to make me leave my faith, Bethlehem versus Jerusalem?
You mean that does it?
Should I show you how many inconsistencies there are in the Bible? Of course, you will delete my post before others have a chance to read it, won't you?
Well, in case you're really fair,
here it is:
http://tinyurl.com/e3mp9

I highly doubt your statement will affect anyone but the most idiotic among us, or the gullible.

Walker said...

Anon@2:05

Just so you know, this is a blog in favor of the Mormon Church (see other postings to get a flavor of it). So I, for one, agree w/everything you claim.

Anonymous said...

Anon@2:05:
" I highly doubt your statement will affect anyone but the most idiotic among us, or the gullible."
You have come to the right place.

Daniel Peterson said...

Indeed you have. I'm sure that I speak for at least certain others when I say that I myself am not only a contemptible hack whom it is proper to hate, but, in fact, a gullible idiot.

Where is the proof of this? That's simple: Despite all of the persuasive, rigorous refutations of my position offered above by Patricia and Anonymous, and on the "Lehi as a Visionary Man" thread by Frank, I persist in my opinions.

BYU alter ego said...

To Daniel:

I had to scroll up and actually read the whole thread to follow what was going on here...lol. crazy... :)

"Platitudes" isn't your style at all. Your comments are pretty unique actually.

I guess your end conclusions can be pretty predictable. But still, it looks like your friend anon was just trying to use alliteration and didn't use their dictionary...tisk tisk anon.

About Alma 7:10:

I can't see why this would be an issue for either side of the larger debate.

It's not a smoking gun for a literary Book of Mormon, nor is it supportive of a divine translation.

To Jeff:

"Indications of plausibility," is so hollow. And this particular subject doesn't even allow for that.

The New and Old Testaments have the structure "at Jerusalem" 81 times. The BOM has it 18 times. Why is Alma 7:10 unique?

More "plausible" is that Joseph always referred to the area in a general sense because he was probably ignorant of the details. Also, it's the same structure used multiple times in the King James Bible as I pointed out earlier.

I frankly can't think of a time where the BOM ever gets specific about the "land of our fathers." Bethany, Bethpage, Bethlehem, Bethel (how's that for alliteration Dan?:P) and other "cities" surrounding Jerusalem are not mentioned anywhere in the BOM. Specificity as an issue, is of our own fabrication.

Also, as an aside, you swith the language in your post to "Land of Jerusalem" when you refer to the language of the Dead Sea Scrolls. "Land of Jerusalem" and "at Jerusalem" are not the same.

Also, neither structure is unique for the 19th Century vernacular.

Incidentally the "Land of Jerusalem" is used in the BOM 41 times. Again, I fail to see why Alma 7:10 is relevant at all, except that it illustrates your own confirmation bias.

There are many other, much larger, issues that are better measured than this one.

Daniel Peterson said...

You're right, BYU AE, about the fact that I don't write platitudinously. Thanks for that. And thanks for discussing actual substance.

However, I think you aren't getting the issue relative to Alma 7:10.

BYU AE: "I can't see why this would be an issue for either side of the larger debate.
It's not a smoking gun for a literary Book of Mormon, nor is it supportive of a divine translation."


Actually, since Alma 7:10 says that Christ would be born "at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers," it seems, at first glance, to be a stupid error. On closer inspection, however, since ancient evidence unavailable to Joseph Smith does seem to indicate not only that Bethlehem could be considered within the "land of Jerusalem" but that it actually was so considered, it turns out not to be an obviously stupid error but an unexpected indicator of apparent authentic antiquity.

BYU AE: "'Indications of plausibility,' is so hollow. And this particular subject doesn't even allow for that."

Why not?

BYU AE: "The New and Old Testaments have the structure 'at Jerusalem' 81 times. The BOM has it 18 times. Why is Alma 7:10 unique?

Because it puts Bethlehem "at Jerusalem," which it terms not a "city" but a "land."

BYU AE: "More 'plausible' is that Joseph always referred to the area in a general sense because he was probably ignorant of the details.

I would need to be convinced that Joseph didn't know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem or that Jerusalem and Bethelehem are distinct urban areas. If, as you seem to think, he was capable of composing a complex pseudohistorical work like the Book of Mormon and, yet, was so monumentally ignorant of what every Christmas caroler knows as to commit the stupendous blunder of Alma 7:10, he must have been an idiot savant of cosmic proportions.

BYU AE: "I frankly can't think of a time where the BOM ever gets specific about the 'land of our fathers.' Bethany, Bethpage, Bethlehem, Bethel (how's that for alliteration Dan?:P) and other "cities" surrounding Jerusalem are not mentioned anywhere in the BOM."

You forget Bethabara, which is mentioned at 1 Nephi 10:9.

The issue of lack of specificity regarding Old World microgeography doesn't point specifically to ignorance on Joseph Smith's part. It's at least as likely to point to such ignorance on the part of the ancient Nephites. By the time of Alma 7:10, for instance, the Nephites were more than five hundred years -- half a millennium -- removed from Palestine, and many thousands of miles distant. No living Nephite, nor any of his ancestors for roughly twenty generations, knew those places from personal experience. By the time of the editor Mormon, from whom most of the text as we have it derives, they had been gone for fully a thousand years, or roughly forty generations.

BYU AE: "Also, as an aside, you swith the language in your post to 'Land of Jerusalem' when you refer to the language of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 'Land of Jerusalem' and 'at Jerusalem' are not the same."

I don't see much substantive difference between the land of Jerusalem and Jerusalem . . . the land. If you do, I hope you'll explain it to me.

BYU AE: "Also, neither structure is unique for the 19th Century vernacular.

This isn't a matter of idiom or "vernacular." It's a question of whether or not Joseph Smith knew that Bethlehem was considered, anciently, to be part of a "land of Jerusalem."

BYU AE: "Incidentally the 'Land of Jerusalem' is used in the BOM 41 times.

As I've explained, that isn't the issue. Anyway, how many times do you find the term land of Jerusalem in the Bible? It occurs in ancient non-biblical texts, and it occurs in the Book of Mormon. Please locate it in the Bible.

BYU AE: "Again, I fail to see why Alma 7:10 is relevant at all, except that it illustrates your own confirmation bias."

As I say, I believe that you have failed to grasp the significance of this issue.

I would, incidentally, appreciate having your definition of confirmation bias as you use it here. It appears to be somewhat idiosyncratic.

Walker said...

Alter Ego:

Remarkable AE! We agree on something. I also believe that Alma 7:10 is certainly no smoking gun (though I do believe that "land of jerusalem" and "at Jerusalm, WHICH IS THE LAND OF OUR FATHERS" are aboslutely comparable in concept, which is really what we're looking for).

I would take issue with your "indications of plausibility argument." Plausibility is the key to the authenticity of any questionable text. If one gets enough lucky guesses going, coupled with the patently unusual process by which the Book of Mormon was transcribed, an unusual explanation suddenly becomes quite plausible. Due to the general weirdness of the circumstances, naturalistic explanations (which, I do admit, I have inclinations towards) become inadequate to explain them. No naturalistic assumption is complex enough or nuanced enough to account for all of the BOM's subtleties. It's simply too bizarre for the historical profession.

Mormanity said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mormanity said...

Alter, this issue is not one that I have raised as some great and glorious evidence that the Book of Mormon is true. It's clearly a minor point, at best an "authentic touch" but hardly the most interesting issue in terms of evidence. But I address the issue because critics have been shouting about it for years. It is listed by critics as one of the key "smoking guns" proving the Book of Mormon is false, right up there with Jacon's "adieu" and several other popular tidbits. Several pages present it as one of the very foremost and first arguments in their war against the Book of Mormon.

As with so many other arguments against the Book of Mormon, a little digging shows that the alleged gaffe is actually plausible, and in some cases even provides possible evidence in favor of authenticity. But if it weren't for all the attention critics have given Alma 7:10, it would probably have been overlooked completely by LDS Apologists.

Bookslinger said...

I'm under the impression that BYU's opinion is that if the Book of Mormon is true, then there should exist evidence that proves it.

BYU-AE, are you assuming that LDS apologetics is attempting to prove authenticity of the BoM?

I realize that some members think that certain evidence in favor of BoM plausibility equates to "proof", but I don't think the serious apologists are portraying it as that.

The "you're trying to 'prove'..." accusation seems to be a straw-man erected by the vociferous anti's and RfM-ers.

Until faith is no longer required by God, I don't think there will ever be hard-core scientifically-accepted proof of the authenticity of the BoM. The best that believers can hope for is evidence of plausibility. Just about all evidence purported to disprove authenticity has been explained away.

Daniel Peterson said...

Mormanity is right that it is the anti-Mormons who raised Alma 7:10 to prominence, in countless leaflets and lectures and seminars and tabloids and radio shows and videos. Some years back, I even saw a bumper sticker in California that read, in large print, Bethlehem or Jerusalem?, and then, in smaller letters below that, The Jesus of Mormonism, or the Jesus of the Bible?

But the joke's on them. And that's the point: What seemed to be a glaring mistake is actually a small but interesting item suggesting historical authenticity.

Anonymous said...

"I'm under the impression that BYU's opinion is that if the Book of Mormon is true, then there should exist evidence that proves it."

Is that asking too much? Proof would be nice, other than the warm fuzzy feeling proof.

"BYU-AE, are you assuming that LDS apologetics is attempting to prove authenticity of the BoM?"

Why wouldn't or shouldn't they? If they could are you saying they wouldn't?


"The "you're trying to 'prove'..." accusation seems to be a straw-man erected by the vociferous anti's and RfM-ers.'

Do you ever post without talking about anti's and RfM-ers? What is it you have for them? Didn't you used to be one before?

"Until faith is no longer required by God, I don't think there will ever be hard-core scientifically-accepted proof of the authenticity of the BoM."

Now isn't that convenient? And now I am sure all the church apologists will just run home since no scientifically-accepted proof of the authenticity of the BoM is now needed.
In case you have not noticed, no proof other than the warm fuzzy kind is required. Never has been and if you go looking for it you will end up looking for truths that are just not "useful".

Bookslinger said...

Chris/Bill/Andy/etc (or Anonymous RfM-er),

Again, you mischaracterize.

Apologetics is not offering, nor looking for, proof of BoM authenticity.

Apologetics attempts to 1) counter the claims of _alleged_ proof that the BoM is false, and 2) offer evidence of plausibility.

Jeff and Daniel have made that point repeatedly.

Anti: "This thing here proves the BoM is false."

Apologist: "That's not correct. And here's why."

This lack of "smoking gun" proof (proof either way) is consistent with teachings in the New Testament.

But if you are atheist/agnostic/anti-christian in general, please feel free to argue against and point out the alleged errors of some other christian religions.

Daniel Peterson said...

While we deny that there is proof for the Book of Mormon -- just as there is no absolute proof for most large and/or significant historical claims -- we enthusiastically point out evidence for the Book of Mormon, which exists in abundance.

Absolute proof is seldom available outside of mathematics, abstract logic, and a few very specific areas within certain kinds of science. In criminal trials, the standard is "beyond a reasonable doubt"; in civil trials, it is "the preponderance of the evidence."

Understanding the distinction between proof and evidence would clear up a lot of problems for some critics of the Church, and spare them much pointless hyperventilating.

Walker said...

Anon:

"Now isn't that convenient? And now I am sure all the church apologists will just run home since no scientifically-accepted proof of the authenticity of the BoM is now needed."

I'm afraid you have distorted Indy's words. As Dan noted, even in modern U.S. history, a subject for which there is ample documentation, there remain gaps in our understanding. I will burden the blog with examples, but U.S. foreign policy is replete with ambiguities about the presidential decision-making at the time of war. We do not even have evidence to prove that Nixon specifically directed Watergate (though, of course, he directed everything that led up to it).

Point being, ancient studies will have far more ambiguity than it will have clarity.

In case you have not noticed, no proof other than the warm fuzzy kind is required. Never has been and if you go looking for it you will end up looking for truths that are just not "useful".


I'm not sure what Mormons you have been talking to. It sounds like their sheep in Mormons' clothing! If indeed they have this "warm-fuzzy" paradigm of revelation, they really need a paradigm shift in the most urgent way.

Additionally, you betray your failure to understand the pulse of present-day LDS scholarship. Simply because a Mormon argues a position does not give one license to discredit it based on his religious beliefs alone. While the Book of Mormon presents a special problem to naturalistic historians (its complexity is far too great to be attributed to Joseph alone), dismissing legitimate evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon's historocity (which does indeed exist) out of hand is irresponsible scholarship.

A final note: the sacred writings I believe do not disparage academic learning; quite the contrary, they commend and command it. "I will tell you in your MIND and in your heart," the Lord tells Joseph Smith.

As to your reference to Boyd K. Packer's statement on truth that is not "useful," just so you know, that sentence was a paraphrase of Benjamin Franklin's opinion on deism (tho' it might true, it is not useful).

Again, spare us of the hackneyed description of Mormons as dumb sheep and of revelation as "warm fuzzies." We've heard it all before, as I would guess you are well aware. Such descriptions add nothing new to the conversation and is no better than stereotyping races or ethnicities. I can only assume that you have written it more to vent than to engage in worthwhile debate.

Walker said...

Correction: The Lord told Oliver Cowdery

My mistake

AlexG said...

Anon @1:59 PM
Please provide a scientifically-accepted proof of the Resurection of Jesus Christ. Provide also a scientifically-accepted proof of the parting of the Red Sea. Or should we accept those 'facts' from the Bible without question? How do we know these events took place without a scientifically-accepted proof? May I suggest the answer in the writings of Paul to the
Hebrews.
If you can grant that amount of faith to the Bible, would it be too much to give it to the Book of Mormon? Whilst there are no so called 'smoking guns' I believe that the elements suggested in this discussion might enable us to think that the Book of Mormon could have been a Mesoamerican record. But the most important aspect of the Book of Mormon its not its historicity, because it is not a history textbook, but rather revealed word of God through prophets to the inhabitants of the American continent.

Bro Peterson, do you have more info. on the usage of 'Yahweh'. I am fascinated by it. Hope I am not 'threadjacking'.

My two pences on the Alma 7:10. Have you noted how it states that Mary was 'overshadowed' by the Spirit? It states plainly about the virgin birth. You can cross reference it to Luke 1:35. Now if Joseph Smith was inventing all this, why would he put this reference to the virgin birth but 'forget' the obvious Bethlehem bit. Just two pences.

Samuel said...

"Please provide a scientifically-accepted proof of the Resurection of Jesus Christ. Provide also a scientifically-accepted proof of the parting of the Red Sea."

You go AG.

As an aside, I feel like the shroud of Turin is pretty good evidence for being the burial shroud of Christ, as I have said before. But even if "proven" true, it still doesn't make Jesus Christ the son of God. After all, it doesn't prove the resurrection. And even if dated to the first century AD (I think the carbon dating was seriously flawed), people will still think it is simply an old cloth which was forged at a later time. You won't ever satisfy everyone.

I love how people who have to rely on faith to believe the Bible (because that is all there is to rely on) bash us when we claim the same right for the Book of Mormon.

Valid for them and the Bible, invalid for us and the BoM.

BYU alter ego said...

Daniel Peterson: "I would, incidentally, appreciate having your definition of confirmation bias as you use it here. It appears to be somewhat idiosyncratic."

If your definition is the same as mine;ie, "a type of cognitive bias toward confirmation of the hypothesis under study, or scientific prejudice," then it's not idiosyncratic.

The term is used in statistics as well for quite the same subject, just in a more quantifiable way.

Samuel said...

Bias cuts both ways.

BYU alter ego said...

Samuel: "Bias cuts both ways."

Very true. But when I learned about the BOM DNA issue while still a student at BYU, I was still a very devoted member.

So I changed my mind, even though I was biased in favor of the Church.

You may argue that I'm biased now and I wouldn't argue with you. Though I do try to balance myself.

But my initial reaction to the arguments against the BOM is very signifigant.

Samuel said...

"Very true. But when I learned about the BOM DNA issue while still a student at BYU, I was still a very devoted member."

Perhaps this is flogging a dead horse, but how exactly do you feel the DNA evidence disproves the Book of Mormon?

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU AE: "If your definition [of confirmation bias] is the same as mine;ie, 'a type of cognitive bias toward confirmation of the hypothesis under study, or scientific prejudice,' then it's not idiosyncratic."

I guess not. I was hoping that it was, though, because, otherwise, you seem simply to have misapplied it in the case of my response to Alma 7:10. I hope that you now understand my reasoning with regard to that verse.

Incidentally, you say that you were a believer when you first encountered the issue of Amerindian DNA and the Book of Mormon, yet, as I recall, you also told us, some time back, that there were many issues that had bothered you regarding Mormonism prior to that encounter. Thus--and, admittedly, I don't know you, but can only go by what you yourself have said--the situation seems to be a bit more ambiguous than "Blissfully Untroubled True Believer Encounters Fact that Destroys His Testimony." And, indeed, there are several professional geneticists (with doctorates in the field) who, judging from their published articles on the subject, plainly don't view the issue as you do. Accordingly, the difference between your particular response and theirs to the same facts appears difficult to explain by simply appealing to the data commonly available to both you and those who don't share your opinion. 

Bookslinger said...

Story of a 1,400 pound meteorite consisting of mostly iron-nickel alloy, found recently (Oct 2005) near Greensburg Kansas.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051111/ap_on_sc/giant_meteorite_1
or
click here

BYU alter ego said...

Daniel Peterson: [about confirmation bias]"I guess not. I was hoping that it was, though, because, otherwise, you seem simply to have misapplied it in the case of my response to Alma 7:10."

Actually, I was directing those comments to Jeff. His finding import in even the mostly faintly relevant evidence is a great example of the concept.

By the way, I will admit openly that it's something I struggle with as well. However, if you recognize the need to balance you're far better off than the blissfully confident.

Daniel Peterson: "Thus--and, admittedly, I don't know you, but can only go by what you yourself have said--the situation seems to be a bit more ambiguous than "Blissfully Untroubled True Believer Encounters Fact that Destroys His Testimony."

Let's be clear. Never did the thought that the Church wasn't true enter into my mind until after the DNA issue.

The fact that my spiritual struggle with unanswered prayers and a depression from not ever feeling good enough while attending BYU occurred are things that I've gained insight to after the fact.

They were not catalytic in my paradigm shift.

Samuel said...

"Let's be clear. Never did the thought that the Church wasn't true enter into my mind until after the DNA issue."

So I assume by this you left the Church because of the DNA issue? How exactly (I asked you this before) do you think that the DNA evidence uncovered thus far disproves the Book of Mormon?

Does it show, for example, that NO influx of pre-Columbian Near Eastern genetic data could have entered into the Mesoamerican population? Seems to me it proves (at least in the testing so far) that it is not present now, but does that mean it never existed? Or is its non-existence just one of a number of possible theories why it isn't there?

Is the science that settled? And frankly, is it that trustworthy? Was the sample large enough? Do the testing methods accurately measure what the science is trying to prove? Has there been sufficient peer review of the data?

I honestly do not know the terms to use, but after having read of all the errors that can crop up in carbon dating tests (and obviously other scientific tests,) I am not too quick to let the methods of man determine the measure and depths of faith.

Alter Ego, I would really like to hear your take on this.

Bookslinger said...

Sam, He has in at least a couple other threads.

1. As I understand it, their reasoning is that the church, ever since JS, has stated that the modern Amerindians have the Lamanites as their principal ancestors.

2. They assume that if there were pre-existing populations (other than the Jewish Mulekites) in the Americas at the arrival of the Lehites that the Book of Mormon would have mentioned them.

3. They assume that if there were subsequent immigrations, Israelite or non-Israelite, during the period 600 BC to 400 AD that the Book of Mormon would have mentioned them.

4. Therefore, they assume that Lamanites should be pure Israeli bloodlines at least up to the point of 400 AD.

5. They further assume that Lehi's DNA should be close to the DNA found in modern Jewish men, and that Sariah's and Mrs. Ishmaeal's DNA should be close to the DNA found in modern Jewish women.

There are problems in all those assumptions.

1. Lineage can flow among female lines as well as male lines. Large groups of Lehite men marrying non-Lehite women would cause Lehite mtDNA to eventually disappear. Large groups of Lehite women marrying non-Lehite men would cause Lehite Y-chromosome DNA to eventually disappear. There was approx 2100 years for that to happen, from 600 BC to 1500 AD.

Yet all the progeny of those lines would still fully qualify as legitimate descendants of Lehi.

2 & 3. The Bible is full of examples of God not fully disclosing things, or telling one group about another group. The fact that characters are missing from the Book of Mormon does not mean they weren't there. I know that really ticks off the antis. They just can't accept the fact that God doesn't tell us everything that we want to know.

4. By the close of the Book of Mormon, the term "Lamanite" is clearly not used to strictly mean a descendant of Laman or Lemuel. Mormon and previous record keepers went to great pains to indicate it was a word applied to all those who were not Nephites, as it included Zoramites, dissenters, etc. So if there were populations of Asian origin in the land, which had aligned themselves with the Lamanites, those peoples would have been rightly called Lamanites by the Nephites. Therefore a preponderance of Asian DNA could very well have been found in the group known as the Lamanites by the close of the Book of Mormon.

The Amerindians would then be principally descended from that Asian/Lehite mix (still called Lamanite) that existed in 400 AD.

Then there was 1100 years, 40 generations, for more mixing, DNA bottlenecks, and who knows what, to occur prior to the arrival of the Spanish.

5. Although there is some logic in assuming that Lehi had the same Y-chromosome as Abraham, I see no logic in assuming that Sariah and Mrs. Ishmael should have the same mtDNA as modern Jewish women.

Lehi was tribe of Joseph. Joseph married in Egypt. Judah likely married back in Palestine, plus had children by Tamar. We don't know who Joseph's and Judah's descendants married during the Egyptian period.

Isaac and Jacob married cousins, but we don't know the matriarchal ancestry of those female cousins.

Add to that the non-Israelite female mtDNA thrown in via Ruth. Her sons were considered Jewish, as David was her descendant. She may have had daughters to perpetuate her mtDNA in the Jewish population.

Add to that the genetic mixing that occured in the Babylonian captivity, and after the Diaspora of 70 AD; so there is no reason to conclude that modern Jewish women are going to have the same mtDNA of Israelite women of 600 BC.

And with all the mixing from the Exodus to 600 BC, and the fact we don't know who Sariah and Mrs. Ishmael were, it is not logical to assume that Sariah and Mrs. Ishmael even had the same mtDNA as the majority of Jewish women in Judah in 600 BC.

Not only could Mrs. Ishmael been Asian, we don't know what servants Lehi's party had with them, and one or more of those could have been Asian.

BYU-AE is going to say it's more complicated than that. Yes, it is. But at least I've shown that they've had to make some major assumptions in order for them to conclude that DNA evidence "disproves" the Book of Mormon.

Researchers like BYU-AE like to go by probabilities of what most likely happened. If they can show that there is 99.5% likelihood that their interpretation of the DNA evidence indicates the Book of Mormon is false, they can discount the .5% probability.

However, we know that God does not work with probabilities but with possibilities. We know that God can work within that .5%. If it's at least anyway possible, then God can do it.

We don't have a slam-dunk answer to the DNA critics. The best we can counter is to bring up possibilities. The best the critics can counter is to say "That's not likely."

But in matters of faith, "not likely" leaves a loophole open. Faith resides in possibilities, regardless of how unlikely they are from a scientific viewpoint.

In the day when "all things shall be revealed" these things will be made known. There will be a lot of forehead slapping that day. The answers may lie in areas that neither side has considered.

I'll still entertain the possibility of divine alteration of Lamanite DNA, and also of Asian DNA at some point in history. If DNA can naturally randomly mutate, then whose hand controls nature and randomness?

Samuel said...

Thanks for your response. I still would like to hear Alter Ego mention what he thought of my points.

About the word 'Principal.' One definition of it is "First, highest, or foremost in importance, rank, worth, or degree; chief."

So the sentence could mean the Lamanites were the most important of the ancestors of the American Indians. Not necessarily the only.

BYU alter ego said...

To Samuel:

First off, you ask, "Is the science that settled?"

Yes, any non-Mormon scientist would agree. Email some if you don't believe me.

"And frankly, is it that trustworthy?"

Um...ya. Those who generated the data could care less about Mormonism and thus would have no alterior motive. Besides, the efforts to use DNA to trace lineage is motivated to confirm prexisting theory, ie; Asian origin/single migration event. The DNA is an afterthought really.

"Was the sample large enough?

Yes, thus far it's over 7000-8000 Amerinds sampled. Do you know how to do a "power analysis?" See: LINK. That would show you the relevance.

The number will soon be much larger over the next 5 years.

See:
DNA study of human migration
National Geographic and IBM investigate spread of prehistoric peoples around world


"Do the testing methods accurately measure what the science is trying to prove?"

Among many things measured two things stick out that are extremely relevant:

1. Origin
2. Number of Migration events

The testing methods are quite accurate in both of these examples.

"Has there been sufficient peer review of the data?"

Yes. There are almost 200 papers now on Amerindian DNA since roughly 1995. That's a lot of peer review. This was not out of a singular paper or a singular researcher's work.

About my decision, the reasoning is quite more simple than how Indy(aka Bookslinger) puts it.

To me, it simply shows that Joseph lied. He out and out lied.

Joseph claimed that by the power of the Holy Ghost and through his calling as prophet, the Lord could reveal truth to him.

The "truth" he proclaimed is not consistent with reality. Not even close. Examples are, the BOM, the Lamanites, Book of Abraham, Kinderhook, and a multitude of sundry prophecy.

So even though ancient American history is anything but a closed case, as Mormon apologists try to point out, Joseph's version is beyond salvaging.

So rather than dream up infinitely complex solutions to all the LDS theological inconsistencies, I reason that Joseph simply lied.

He certainly had motive to do so.

So to answer your question Samuel, the BOM DNA issue was THE catalyst for me to see that Joseph lied, ergo, the Church was not true.

Never before did that option enter my head previous. It's what shook me, woke me up, blew my ******* mind.

Of course there are many other reasons to doubt the Church. But that is the one that started it all for me.

Samuel said...

Ok, so maybe I am dense. What exactly from the DNA studies prove that the Book of Mormon is false? Does the science show that no migration of Jewish DNA could have ever happened?

Thanks for your reply, AE.

BYU alter ego said...

See the more recent thread on this blog about "Southerton's inadequate Science." I talk a lot about the reasons and give links to relevant articles as well as give examples.

LINK

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU AE: "First off, you ask, "Is the science that settled?"
Yes, any non-Mormon scientist would agree.


The Mormon scientists agree, too. To suggest that they don't is to create a straw man. The question is the relevance of broad generalizations about the populating of the Americans 20,000 years ago, or so, to the specific question of whether or not a very small party of Hebrews arrived in the New World around 600 BC. On that point, since they don't have the Book of Mormon in view, the general studies and broad portrayals are silent. It remains for those who are interested specifically in the Book of Mormon to apply those studies to it, or to judge them largely or wholly irrelevant.

That's where the controversy lies. BYU AE believes that the broader studies demonstrate the Book of Mormon false. A number of Latter-day Saint scientists (at BYU, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, at a genetics research firm in eastern Canada) with special interest in DNA (and with doctorates in genetics, biological anthropology, molecular biology, and biochemistry) believe that they demonstrate nothing of the kind.

BYU AE: "To me, it simply shows that Joseph lied. He out and out lied. . . . Joseph simply lied."

This conclusion is characteristically uncareful. At most, genetic disproof of the Book of Mormon, if it existed, would demonstrate the Book of Mormon false. It would not demonstrate that Joseph Smith consciously deceived. He might have been insane, he might have been deceived by conspirators, etc.

For the record, I think the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that Joseph Smith was sincere.

BYU AE: "He certainly had motive to do so."

It would be interesting to hear more about this alleged motive.

Incidentally, Richard Bushman's Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, recently published by Alfred E. Knopf Publishers in New York City, is a superb biography by one of the finest living American historians that, to say the least of it, doesn't see any clear evidence that "Joseph lied. He out and out lied. . . . Joseph simply lied."

BYU AE: "The "truth" he proclaimed is not consistent with reality. Not even close. Examples are, the BOM, the Lamanites, Book of Abraham, Kinderhook, and a multitude of sundry prophecy."

On these topics, BYU AE is far beyond even his claimed expertise in DNA; there are many scholars with superb credentials who disagree with him in these areas. (He is likely, very soon, to pronounce them dishonest mercenaries, or some such thing.)

BYU AE: "So even though ancient American history is anything but a closed case, as Mormon apologists try to point out, Joseph's version is beyond salvaging."

As it turns out, Dr. John Clark, one of the leading Mesoamerican field archaeologists in the United States, believes that the archaeological tide is flowing very much in the direction of the Book of Mormon. He'll have a brief article out on this topic in not the next issue of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies but the one following it.

 

Anonymous said...

it seems quite popular to point any deficiencies or follies within the church toward the human error of our leadership. i agree, prophets are human of course. the difference between folly with old testament prophets and folly of our leaders in this 'dispensation' is that the follies are claimed to be stamped with the approval of God, even commanded by him. i have no qualms with polygamy, but polygamy as instituted by God is another thing. how many unethical, or embarrassing doctrines, as instituted by God, are needed to come out of a man's mouth to put that man's claim of having a divine 'calling' in serious question? or is that he claimed its divine institution merely a reflection of his human-ness, thus making it all the same. it's not that the doctrine with blacks in the priesthood is embarrassing and should have been ended earlier, it's that it is simply wrong, unethical, and God was manipulated in such a way as to reason and institute such a thing. it points to error and fraudulence of divinity, as authored by the character flaw. the same for polygamy. biblically we see polygamy, but never as instituted from God. there's a big difference. by continually pushing every mistake to our religious leaders human-ness, we can reasonably say religion has never done wrong! and while i agree with cs lewis in that we are the rusty cup holding the pure water, this is simply too diplomatic for my liking. in fact it's absurd! does the caste system imply that some of the early hindu's had imperfections in character, or does it discredit the religion as a whole? a valid question i think. the the fact that the catholic church did what it did in the name of God for so many centuries is proof to me that it just isn't what it claims to be. i'm also aware that taking such an approach to evaluate religion would lead to the conclusion that all religion is corrupt. the point is that there's a difference between mistakes, and mistakes claimed to be backed by God approval. this, and that a religious institution only gets so much slack as pertains to this. i want to stress (and await the response) the major difference between JS and BY practicing polygamy and the fact that they instituted it by God's command. what's more discomforting than the polygamy is the the manipulation of God's name. the crusades (as 'willed by God')don't disprove Christianity, but clearly disprove that the leaders at that time were not so inspired. perhaps some would be willing to argue that they still were, but my goodness you'd have to do it in spite of obvious moral corruptness on their part and your own moral logic.

Brad said...

so God gave me the freedom to choose; did he not? When I left a Mormon "fire side open house gathering" with the intent NOT to be baptized I was exercising the use of a God given gift; was I not? Yet the Mormon church practices baptism of the dead and so in 2 or 3 generations I may very well be baptized against my will; mite I not? As a well balanced sudo-atheist catholic I can't help but wonder how do you people justify the theft of a "God given right", or is this freedom only available to those who do as they are told thus nullifying the freedom by definition? It would appear to me that you wait until I have left my house so you can break in and steel that which is of most value to me. If a group of people have the right to take a "God given right" because they have come to an agreement amongst themselves that it needed to be done then it follows: the group of people that took Joseph Smith's right to live from him were in the right, because they were all in agreement that it needed to be done. Is this not so? I have been once again invited to a "fire side open house gathering" by a wonderfully nice 21 year old home-care worker who would be hurt if I do not go. Once again I will keep a respectful silence so as not to lead the young believers from their place of worship by mistake. However this silence can only last so many times wile I sit amongst those who would steel from me. What should I do? Here in Lethbridge it is next to impossible to spit without hitting one of you and all of you want me to be polite but all I can think of is your acts of theft and this come between me and you. what can I do to restore the harmony between us without giving up my rights?

Brad said...

It has since been pointed out to me by one of you that I was not clear about the relationship between my statements and the topic of this thread and not in a polite manner. Let me be unmistakably clear. The topic of discussion needs no science and no scrutiny of the book at all! The bible states very clearly that we are to know who is with us and who is against by the acts they do. This clearly is applicable to all who claim to be prophets. Even on this day your prophets will endeavor to defy God by denying mankind freedom to chose. This act colors the claims of your so called prophets so they may be seen for what they are. They sit at 90 degrees to the actions of God. By this it is known they are not prophets at all but men of deception. I for one will fight to the death for your right to discern for your self and your right to self determination even as I know you will endeavor to take from me that same right once I am dead.

We shall know our enemy by their acts.

Anonymous said...

this is a different anonymous, not the one everyone is getting mad at.

there is a lot of hate and arguments in this forum, some plausible, some not.

truthfully, you can have all of the historical evidence you want, proving anything you want it to prove.

however, you can never prove any religion is right or wrong, especially christian/judaic religions, as what you really need to prove/disprove is one thing. that jesus was the son of god, and rose from the dead. or, for that matter, that god exists. this is something that no one will ever be able to prove/disprove, and i'm not siding either way. it just seems that all of these arguments are trivial, when no one will ever know for sure until they're dead.

as i said before, this mainly applies to the christian/judaic religions. anything else, such as more eastern asian religions, or animistic religions in africa, for example, may need to prove other things, but i wont comment to avoid angering anyone.

ultimately, it is known that none of this can ever be proved. that's why it's called FAITH, believing in something despite the arguments for/against it. everyone is entitled to their own faith, so just let it be. you may agree or disagree, but you don't need to push that on someone else.

and just for the record, i'm jewish, and am trying to be as unbiased as possible in this comment, although removing all bias is also impossible...

Brenan said...

Keep up the good work!
In Christs Love,
B.D

RedesignSite.com said...

As a Buddhist, I would like to see more blogs, comments, views, articles, opinions, discussion and other forms of faith and opinion begin to create how we as people can find similar ground. We are all one. One world, one people and one world. And, the world is not going to recover from our religious wars, consumption of coal and oil and continued defense of this term - "My God is the true God". The middle east has killed many babies over that phrase. Please think.

eternian said...

@Daniel Peterson

Your claim that "Such proof does not currently exist, and it is very unlikely that it will be found. (It is also unlikely that disproof of historicity will be found" is illogical if the Book of Mormon is "the most correct book" ever written, and superior to the Bible and covering hundreds of years of history of large and extensive cultures. If the Bible, covering a tiny nation over thousands of years has countless evidences to support it archeology, why wouldn't the Book of Mormon have at least as much for it's hundreds?:

http://zarahemlacitylimits.com/essays/BookOfMormon/No_Longer_Believe_12.html

Your lack of faith and casual presumption for someone who claims the Book of Mormon is true is contradictory and says a lot about the Mormon cult.

Dave Betts said...

Jeff,

I'm a Christian and disagree with your views regarding Mormonism. However, rather than start a debate with you, I'd like to thank you for this post - although it hasn't changed my opinion, I really appreciate your openness to address some sticky points. I respect that a lot!

All the best,

Dave