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

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Don't Base Your Testimony on Declarations from Non-Believers

While serving as a guest on an LDS radio show on Utah's K-TALK radio station on Sunday, I had a minister call in [update: he does seminars on the Mormons, but isn't a regular minister] to ask a question, after a tangential cheap shot in which he claimed that what we say we believe in public and what we actually teach are different. When he got to his question, he asked, "Can you name a non-LDS archaeologist who has publicly verified that the Book of Mormon is real history?" Suspecting that the question wasn't quite sincere, my initial response was, "I'll answer that if the question cuts both ways and can be applied to the Bible as well. So may I ask you if there are non-Christian archaeologists who can confirm that Jesus was actually resurrected, or that--" He interrupted me at this point (if memory serves me correctly) and complained that this is how other Mormons have engaged in "game playing" and refusing to answer his questions.

At this point I should have stuck to my guns and insisted on putting forth my counter-question, and perhaps pointed out what his agenda was (not to mention the hostile behavior in demanding that his loaded question be answered as is - please note Christ's example shows it is entirely appropriate to handle hostile questions with counter-questions). I should have said something like this:
Excuse me, but when you preach to your congregation about the Bible, do you ask them to only accept it if they can find non-believing scholars who, on the basis of archaeological evidence alone, feel compelled to publicly admit that the stories of Jesus Christ are real history? That the Resurrection occurred, for example? Or for the Old Testament, must they find atheistic scientists who will publicly admit that the Creation story in Genesis must be true? Or non-believing archaeologists who can verify that Moses defeated Pharaoh with miracles and that the Exodus really occurred?

If anyone did tell your congregation that they needed this kind of witness from non-believers before they should believe, wouldn't you find that ridiculous? First, why would any non-believer jeopardize his or her career by publicly affirming the truth of a religious record they and their peers reject? Second, do you recognize what a limited instrument archeology is when it comes to assessing detailed historical events and especially sacred writings? How could it possibly prove the reality of the Resurrection, for example, or Nephi's crossing to the New World, or the visit of Christ to the Nephites? Isn't evidence for plausibility, not proof that specific events occurred, often the best you can hope for?
But trying to go along and keep our caller happy, I tried to answer what I thought his question was after and began discussing examples of evidence from archeology and related fields that provide plausibility for the Book of Mormon. But after mere seconds I was interrupted again with a second wave of protests about "not answering the question."

You see, it wasn't a real question at all, otherwise he would have been interested in understanding what evidences might be worth considering. He wasn't looking for evidence, but wanted to attack by calling attention to a straw man based on his demand for non-believing authorities. He demanded the authority of a non-LDS scholar in one particular field, archeology, to publicly state that the evidence "proved" that the Book of Mormon was real history. Even "true-blue Mormon" LDS scholars would hesitate to say that - about either the Book of Mormon or the Bible. They might speak of evidence for plausibility and authenticity, of valuable insights into the text gained from academic fields, and of the difficulty of anyone in Joseph Smith's day fabricating certain aspects of the text based on what was known then. But this is not to prove, but to refute attacks and provide a basis for plausibility to help people keep their minds open so they can read the text and experience the divine, life-changing power of the Spirit that be found in studying, applying, pondering and praying about the Word of God.

No offense to you non-believing archaeologists out there, but I'm not going to sit around and wait for you to make dramatic discoveries and career-destroying moves in which you, as a non-believer, publicly declare that based on archaeological evidence alone, you have proof that we believers in the Book of Mormon or Bible have been right all along. But if that day comes, be sure to post it here at Mormanity first.

I should also point out that since the Bible was written by people in Israel, a nation that is still there and where many place names have been around since the time the text was written, it is no surprise to find that it mentions places like Jerusalem that we still know of today. The fact that Jerusalem once existed provides no basis for accepting the Christian message or any of the religious beliefs of the Bible. It is only the divine and miraculous aspects where evidence becomes significant. Do we have evidence for the Exodus? For the miracles of Jesus? The Resurrection? The life of Abraham or the Patriarchs? Anybody dug up the Garden of Eden with a petrified tree of life and once-flaming sword? In these matters, archeology offers little reason to believe - of course, there is no reason why it should. Faith is still needed - and that's by design.

For the Book of Mormon, the origins of the text are entirely connected to the miraculous. An angel brought Joseph to the book. It was written by a people who were destroyed. Their language is lost. Many other peoples have swept over their lands. We think it took place in Mesoamerica, where almost no ancient place names from Book of Mormon times remain in use today (a rare exception being Lamanai, Belize, but as close as that is to the Book of Mormon name Lamoni, it may simply be coincidence). This is a part of the world where archeology is in its infancy compared to Biblical archeology in the Old World. So we're just beginning to identify possible locations, etc. In the Book of Mormon case, finding direct matches for ancient place names unknown to Joseph Smith out to be a big deal. Some of the most exciting material comes from the Old World where much more is known, especially the Arabian Peninsula. For example, finding an ancient burial site named Nahom in the Arabian Peninsula in the right location ought to be very exciting. Our critic couldn't care less, though - he wasn't interested in that. It didn't "answer" his question. Finding evidence of plausibility for many aspects of the text ought to be exciting and something that sincere followers of Christ might wish to consider. Or not. It's up to you.

In my view, sometimes a consideration of evidence for plausibility is helpful. Not because God is going to eliminate the need for faith thanks to all the proof that non-believers are going to sheepishly point to. Not because God has decided to start giving signs when demanded by skeptics. But sometimes a little intellectual stimulus can help people overcome the attacks of the Adversary long enough for faith to sprout. There are some evidences in favor of Book of Mormon plausibility that demand attention. I hope you'll consider them, for what they are worth. I list a few on my Book of Mormon Evidences page, but it's just a small scattering of what could be discussed. But it's a place to start, I suppose. Also read a few issues of the publications at the Maxwell Institute. But most importantly, read the Book of Mormon and give it a chance.

44 comments:

Clean Cut said...

Very worthwhile post. Thank you for sharing your insights as well as your frustrations. I think most of us can relate to having experiences where we wish we could go back and say something differently. Thanks for taking the time share what you have in this post.

Jia said...

I too have had moments when I've been theologically "challenged". It's not that people want an actual answer, they want a fight. They want to "prove" to the world that they are right, despite the testimonies of others.

Thanks for this post. Well written and it needed to be said!

Jia

Brian D. said...

I once had a critic engage me in a similar conversation. The critic, of course, was quick to admit that if they ever find the body [of Christ], he would give up being a Christian. Now that is faith!:-)

Bryce Haymond said...

Excellent post. I agree. I don't think the Lord will even allow definitive proof of any miraculous gospel event. For that would do away with faith. It would then be a fact, not a gospel based on faith. God wants faith. Faith is the very core of the gospel. We are not to look for definitive proof, but to have faith. And God has promised that if we have faith, signs will follow.

If an angel from heaven came down and set the golden plates down in front of someone, would that be enough to convince them that the Church was true? Hardly! If a stone tablet was found in Central America which had the name Zarahemla carved on it, would that prompt people to be baptized? No. That is not what the gospel is about.

I like this YouTube video from LDS scholars on the subject.

jayleenb said...

I've felt that frustration so many times.

I was watching some round table discussions on the Pearl of Great Price and found myself thinking that if only everyone could catch hold of this. I just want to shout it from the rooftops. 'If only I were an angel'... and then I remember the rest of that scripture. It's painful to watch so many people reject the fullness of the Gospel.

It's painful to hear them mock Joseph Smith and mock the Book of Mormon, when you know that if they could just 'get it' their lives would change and their eyes would see and their ears hear.

I always think that there is something I could say to break through... and then I walk away feeling I've failed somehow.

But you know what? It took me 20 years. So there really is hope for those who are combative. A seed is planted with your having turned the tables on him. He'll think about it and maybe someday he'll realize his thinking is wrongheaded and maybe he'll investigate with a more open heart.

Keep on keeping on Jeff.

Zelph said...

I think Mormanity has a point and I will actually agree with you on this. If your system of belief is based mostly on faith and partially on 'plausibility' provided by evidence, then there is no dispelling the Book of Mormon.

However, the turning point for me was when I went through a change in the way I view what is 'true'. Now, I am much more skeptical and want 'proof' instead of just 'plausibility', and that is what led to my disillusionment. I believe that is what it comes down to.

The reason I stopped believing that prayer was the ultimate source for validating 'truth' is because this system has been wrong so many times. Despite what we are taught in church, people of other faiths and religions use the exact same method of reading their sacred texts and praying about it. They come to the same conclusion based on similar spiritual experiences. I know Muslims that have the same conviction for the Qur'an and they have prayed to Allah and have felt the same thing what we would call the holy ghost testifying that it is God's word as given to the prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel.

That is why I take a more scientific approach now that I am a little older and rely less on feelings and emotions. I do not believe that just because we feel that something is true in our heart that it makes it true. That is called hope.

I also agree with Mormanity that there is just as much criticism of the Bible, and that is why I am just as skeptical of all religions, even the historical Jesus.

Sorry, but justifying Mormonism because "it is in the Bible" or "the Bible has the same criticism" will not work with me, as it simply verifies and strengthens my position that it is all made up.

Zera Pulsipher said...

To "Zelph"

I know a little bit how you feel as I have had struggles as well with the very same thoughts and questions and while evidence and proofs are always nice they are few and far between.

Even in science evidence only goes so far to support and uphold a theory. Dark Matter is a perfect example of this, every model of the universe fails without it so we know it exists yet it has yet to be found or verified past that. Granted come this fall when the world largest particle accelerator goes live that may change and an unverified particle needed may bee found. But what if which I feel is more likely nothing else is found? Does that mean the dark matter doesn't exist despite it making up over 90% of the universe? No but skeptics will still accept that it exists because it is implausible for it not to. There is more evidence for dark matter then against it so one must now come to the conclusion that makes the most sense. This is science so if this method is what validates science why does it invalidate religion? Let me say this about your claim that it was all made up in regards with the Book of Mormon is it possible that it was made up? Absolutely. Is it plausible though? After studying myself and reading the studies of others scholar and non-scholar alike the only conclusion to come to is no. The only plausible reason for as Jeff puts it the "Hits" are for it to be an ancient record. What's magnificent is that even once coming to this conclusion that doesn't mean that the miracles and other things are what they seem you still need faith to accept the message of the Book of Mormon just as you need faith to believe that the universe itself isn't a paradox and that it does contain dark matter. All facts eventually go back to being based on faith in some form or another even scientific facts that have been verified if you follow them back far enough have some point where either a leap of faith was made or must be made. So if you want to live without faith good luck finding anything safe to call a fact because chances are their are others with evidence to invalidate or change it. In the words of one much wiser then myself "The only thing I have come to know, is that I know nothing." It would be wise if everyman came to this conclusion ad set about trying to understand thing rather then know them.

Zera Pulsipher said...

sorry for the wall of text

Greg said...

Sorry, but justifying Mormonism because "it is in the Bible" or "the Bible has the same criticism" will not work with me, as it simply verifies and strengthens my position that it is all made up.

I agree. Jeff has a point since the man asking the question was a Christian, but I thought it was a side-step to ask "Does it cut both ways?" It doesn't matter, objectively. What if the person asking the question is an atheist?

I don't buy the "plausibility" argument for accepting an entire faith. There is plenty of evidence of plausibility for the existence of alien spacecraft visiting Earth frequently, yet it would be absurd to "know" that this is true and live out your life in the name of it.

Why, in the absence of direct evidence, would you believe something? It's absurd for anything else, but religion gets a pass for any number of warm, fuzzy non-reasons.

No credible study proves anything in the Book of Mormon true - so why believe it? No credible study proves that unicorns exist - why believe in them? Faith is dangerous in this way, especially when it is accepted without question or based on a very "personal" testimony of "truth." Plenty of good things have been done in its name, but also, plenty of terrible things. That's the danger of believing something in the absence of evidence.

Zelph said...

Greg, good point about space aliens. And as I have said, LDS apologists have demonstrated the 'plausibility' of the Book of Mormon being a true history, but that is a far cry from 'proof' of the historicity. What would constitute proof for me would be an independent archaeologist that is not LDS or tied to the LDS church to verify the authenticity.

Here is another example of how the spirit has misled- I am not old enough to remember Spencer W Kimball, but I do remember a Native American living with us for a few years while he went to High School with my older brothers. My parents called him their "Lamanite" and they had felt the spirit that he was a descendant of the Book of Mormon. However, DNA has demonstrated that his ancestors were of the 98% from Asia. It seems the spirit in this case was simply emotional hope, and that is why I do not believe that it is a good measure to determine truth, because it is so subjective and personal and impossible to tell the difference between emotional hope and an external force.

Dan and Wendy said...

While a missionary in Montreal, an investigator invited us over to his place. Unknown to us he also invited representatives over from a different faith. He then set himself up as the judge and asked us both to argue our faith.

We listed the "plausible" reasons why we felt our faith was true, as did the other representatives. What separated us though was our testimonies that we knew what we taught was truth, and he could too if he sincerely asked.

At the end of it he liked our arguments better, but I don't think that he ever joined the church.

As a humorous sidenote, later on in my mission I was sitting in a house teaching the mother of a family when one of the representatives of the other faith from the previous discussion walked in. It was her mother that I was teaching. If looks could kill I would've been dead on the spot.

Anonymous said...

In 1948 my late father was a sailor in the Coast Guard. He was a non-member reading the Book Of Mormon. When he got to the part that said that if it wasn't for their stiff necks people would be able to accept the book. My dad didn't understand what stiff necked meant. So he prayed about it. He said he heard a voice say to take the Book of Mormon to the fantail (backend)of the ship and ask Chief So & So what he thought of the book. So my dad did and the chief took the book and threw it overboard and said it was of the devil. As my father walked back to his bunk the voice said, Now Albert that is what is meant by stiff necked. From some of these posts it appears that stiff neckedness still abounds.

Richard G.
ps - I can't remember if stiff necked is one or two words but you get the point.

Tracy Keeney said...

"Don't Base Your Testimony on Declarations from Non-Believers"

HA!! I heard the whole conversation with Randy. I wonder if he'll ever realize the incredibly asinine nature of his whole question and point. I mean honestly, as a self-proclaimed preacher, does he base HIS testimony of the Bible or Christ on the declarations of non-believers?? The funny thing is, you could tell he thought he was just SO clever in posing the question.
What he started out with was that he'd attended our meetings in 3 different Stakes over a period of 5 years. He admitted he wasn't attending as someone sincerely seeking God, but rather as someone curious to find out what Mormons really believe and not just what Mormons SAY they believe or what missionaries teach. He claimed that there was this huge dichotomy between what MEMBERS believe and what the CHURCH teaches, and this whole thing about whether or not the Book of Mormon was REAL history was an example of this "huge gap".
He went on to say that all the members he talked with REALLY BELIEVE that the Book of Mormon is REAL HISTORY, that it really happened. But that the Church doesn't have any PROOF that it really happened, and that's when he asked Jeff whether or not he could name any non-LDS archaeologists who can verify the authenticity of the book and the history it contains.
The truth is, the Church claims it's REAL HISTORY by the testimony of Joseph Smith and the other witnesses, AND by personal testimony gained when someone reads it and prays about it. It's a matter of FAITH, not evidence. The Church has NEVER said, "The Book of Mormon is REAL HISTORY and here's a list of all the scholars, archaeologists and anthropologists who can prove it."
So where's this "huge gap" between what the members believe and what the Church teaches??
The members believe EXACTLY what the Church teaches. The Church says "read it, ponder it and pray about it and the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth to you." And that's what members do. It's what former NON-members do. The Church doesn't ask anyone to take THEIR word for it. They don't tell anyone to do scientific research to verify it's authenticity, and they've never claimed that it's been proven by archaeologists. They say "pray about it and let GOD's HOLY SPIRIT tell you whether or not it's true."
Evidently, what the Holy Spirit says isn't good enough for preacher Randy.

Zera Pulsipher said...

Greg said

"There is plenty of evidence of plausibility for the existence of alien spacecraft visiting Earth frequently, yet it would be absurd to "know" that this is true and live out your life in the name of it."

Actually there is no plausible evidence whatsoever unless you consider eyewitness's plausible, which they aren't.

Every Photograph ever taken has been proven either A. a hoax, or B. A case of mistaken identity. Same with every film taken.

The cases of "abduction" all appear to be implanted memories, and not one has withstood the test when another psychiatrist has tried to reach the "memories". Then there's the mathematics involved which give the chance of intelligent life let alone more advanced life next to nothing of a possibility of existence.

Then even if against the mathematical odds there was life more advanced then ours it would be impossible for them to reach us unless they can break not just bend the laws of physics and thermo dynamics.

So your assumption is faulty in the first place and comparing that the The Book of Mormon evidences is like comparing apples to chipmunks.

"No credible study proves anything in the Book of Mormon true"

Actually plenty of credible studies prove different aspect of it to be true there is just no way of linking those thing directly into Context of a Book of Mormon setting.

For example we know the made wine from the cocoa bean where most believe the BoM took place.

We know that the BoM refers to the use of wine. which was thought to not exist in Meso America hence helping the case but not providing any direct evidence for it.

Stop making faulty assumptions because you don't want to believe something and then maybe you can make a valid point.

"Faith is dangerous in this way, especially when it is accepted without question or based on a very "personal" testimony of "truth."

How is it dangerous? Even if one deludes himself into practicing a faith most will only bring psychological benefits to the individual practicing it. so again how is it dangerous? What's dangerous is making bigoted statements like the one above because it can lead to persecuting others.

Zelph said

"However, DNA has demonstrated that his ancestors were of the 98% from Asia."

Which still leaves a very large possibility for him to have at least 2% of his genetic code from Lamantish decent doesn't it. So while they could be wrong their spiritual impression may still be right as well your just going off faith that they are wrong, amazing how things get twisted when all the information is given huh.

Greg said...

Zera, I was stating that it would be absurd to believe something like UFOs, just as it would for other things in the absence of evidence. I think you missed the point of what I was saying, but I'll try to address your arguments as best I can.

"Actually there is no plausible evidence whatsoever unless you consider eyewitness's plausible, which they aren't."

Were the witnesses to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon plausible, then? You're just assuming all UFO eyewitnesses to be implausible. What if I just went ahead and said all eyewitnesses to the BOM translation were implausible? How is that any different from what you just said?

"Every Photograph ever taken has been proven either A. a hoax, or B. A case of mistaken identity. Same with every film taken."

This simply isn't true. There are plenty of photographs that have never been satisfactorily explained, taken by people who have never sought profit, etc. Most supposed photographs of "UFOs" are indeed hoaxes or mistakes, but not all of them and they certainly haven't been proven so.

"Then even if against the mathematical odds there was life more advanced then ours it would be impossible for them to reach us unless they can break not just bend the laws of physics and thermo dynamics."

It's a big and arbitrary assumption to state that intelligent life would have to break or bend the laws of physics to contact us.

"Stop making faulty assumptions because you don't want to believe something and then maybe you can make a valid point."

What faulty assumptions was I making? I think I've demonstrated that you have made several. I only used the UFO analogy to demonstrate how arbitrary it is to believe one thing without evidence only to dismiss another without evidence. Indeed, my point was that it IS absurd to believe in aliens/UFOs without proof. The same goes for other things.

"How is it dangerous? Even if one deludes himself into practicing a faith most will only bring psychological benefits to the individual practicing it. so again how is it dangerous? What's dangerous is making bigoted statements like the one above because it can lead to persecuting others."

Faith can be dangerous. The 9/11 hijackers had absolute faith that they would be rewarded in heaven for their actions. I'm not saying that everyone is that extreme, but how is it a good thing to believe something simply because you want to believe it? It's a dishonest way of looking at the world.

My statement wasn't bigoted. I wasn't attacking individuals because they have faith. I was only saying that faith CAN be a dangerous thing and should be regarded as such.

If someone was gravely ill and you had to choose between a risky medical procedure in a university hospital or treatment from someone with absolute faith in their ability to spiritually heal someone, which would you choose? Not all faith is harmless.

Ryan said...

You know, it's interesting the great faith people have in cutting-edge science to guide them in the paths of happiness...

Don't get me wrong -- science is a wonderful way to learn and make improvements when taken as a whole, over a long time, but there is no guarantee that today's finding is true, good, or correct. Errors, misunderstandings and incomplete knowledge regularly lead to serious problems. Sure, they get worked out eventually, but how many people suffer due to their faith in the system in the meantime?

50 years ago smoking was good for you. Now we know better, but that doesn't cure the folks who now have lung cancer from smoking 20 years ago.

Also, there's nothing built into science to make it ethical or otherwise differentiate "good" and "bad." It's a very effective way for learning how things work, but it's up to the scientist to make moral judgment calls about what to study... the ancient Romans literally made a science of crucifixion and the result was unutterably horrific.

SteSmo said...

Jack wrote:

"Besides, the LDS church as plenty of other problems facing it; such as Joseph Smith's failed prophecies, the BofA taken from the Egyptian Book of the Dead....not written by Abraham's own hand as was declared."

Please name these failed prophecies.

Also, your comments on the Book of Abraham smack of ignorance. Jeff has some excellent material on this issue on his website that you should check out. Also see the material from FARMS and FAIR.

Anonymous said...

As a non-believing Near Eastern archaeologist, I couldn't agree more with your very thoughtful and well-argued post.

In my youth, I excavated quite extensively in Israel, including Jerusalem. While very rarely there may be an inscription or a seal that might tantalizingly suggest that a biblical name may have some provenance, (or once in a lifetime, the Dead Sea scrolls) excavations largely fill in the gaps in social history -- the nuts and bolts of how ancient peoples lived their daily lives -- what they drank and ate, the structures of their dwellings etc. All this proves is that the Bible is not inaccurate as a framework for understanding the chronology and ethnography of the Bronze, Iron and Classical periods in the region.

In terms of proving that god exists or a judeo-christian construct dominated ancient life? The archaeological record seems to show that paganism was the dominant belief system -- even in Jerusalem at the very height of the David/Solomon epoch.

Believe the Bible/BOM on the strength of your faith -- if you don't have that, there are no relevant answers in archaeology.

Ryan said...

I'm confused why Jeff's response is "irrelevant." The minister asked,

Can you name a non-LDS archaeologist who publicly states that the Book of Mormon is verifiable history?

This is called poisoning the well. Questions like this are designed so that there is no good response.

Jeff: yes
Minister: Liar, liar pants on fire!

Jeff: no, but...
Minister: See, you've just admitted the Book of Mormon is a fake and a lie. Anyone believes it is true is duped, stupid, or worships the devil. *click* (hangs up, having extracted the desired words from Jeff and delivered the rant, and not the least bit interested in the rest of the reply)

Jeff: Can *you* name a non-Christian archaeologist who publicly states that the entire Bible contains real history?
Minister: You're playing word games with me!

Given the circumstances, I think it's perfectly reasonable to throw the question back at the questioner.

Reminds me of the folks on my mission who loved asking LDS if they were "Christian."

Ryan: yes
Other: No you're not! You don't go to a bible-teaching church like mine.

You see, Spanish-speaking evangelicals in southern California had hijacked the word "Christian" to mean "evangelical Christian." Mormons, 7th day adventists, Jehova's Witnesses, and Catholics were not invited to the party.

Of course, you can't just say "no, I'm not Christian" either, because we all know where that leads...

Mormanity said...

The issue of prophetic tests and claims of false or fulfilled prophecies is off topic for this post. It's a topic I discuss in more detail in my LDSFAQ area: "Fulfilled Prophecies of Joseph Smith" and "Questions about the Prophecies of Joseph Smith (including allegedly failed prophecies).

Zera Pulsipher said...

Ryan Said
"Don't get me wrong -- science is a wonderful way to learn and make improvements when taken as a whole, over a long time, but there is no guarantee that today's finding is true, good, or correct. Errors, misunderstandings and incomplete knowledge regularly lead to serious problems. Sure, they get worked out eventually, but how many people suffer due to their faith in the system in the meantime?"

My point exactly with my first post...

@ Greg
There is evidence other then the three and eight witnesses testimonies. Their testimonies being weaker that's absurd how many UFO proponents become skeptics on it and then continue to talk about their experiences as if they weren't skeptical, which the three and most the eight did despite not believing Joseph to be a prophet anymore. As for evidence I gave one the more things that were thought to be impossible in the ancient Americas that Jospeh placed their despite reason and knowledge at the time, the more it is evidenced that it is indeed a historical record rather then a made up account. My testimony is based on faith and reason not just one or the other.

SteSmo said...

Jack:

Did I throw any insults? If I did, please show me.

"The first was concerning the building of the temple in MO (1832 Temple Lot) Fast forward to the current date and, not only has the temple not been built, the church doesn't even own the land."

Nope, not a prophecy, but a commandment that was not completed by the Saints because of their wickedness. See here: http://en.fairmormon.org/Independence_temple_to_be_built_%22in_this_generation%22

"Second, Joseph prophesied David Patten would go on a mission the following Spring. Since Patten was killed that Fall....I don't believe that one came true as well."

Nope, not a prophecy, but a mission call. See here: http://en.fairmormon.org/David_Patten_to_serve_a_mission%3F

"False prophecies = False prophet"

Are you willing to apply this same standard to biblical Prophets?

http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith_and_prophetic_test_in_Deuteronomy_18

Anyways, back to topic, I suppose.

Zelph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"If your system of belief is based mostly on faith and partially on 'plausibility' provided by evidence, then there is no dispelling the Book of Mormon."

Not me. When I was taught the lessons I asked to see the gold plates. The next lesson the missionary showed me 2" x3" gold color plates and asked me what would that prove? If Joseph showed the plates they would just say they were fake that is after the plates were stolen and melted down for money.

Tracy Keeney said...

Jack said:

"Then why do they allow such as this:

http://www.meridianmagazine.com/sci_rel/061212map.html"

Why do THEY allow it? They, WHO???
Jack, that's ONE scholar's article about RESEARCH and PLAUSIBLE Book of Mormon sites, and the scholar happens to be LDS. That's not "THE CHURCH" claiming there's evidence. Even the AUTHOR isn't claiming any irrefutable "evidence". It's just his educated opinion, and the opinion of other researchers on some of the studies they've done. Meridian Magazine is not a church publication. It's Scott and Maureen Proctor's publication, and they are simply members of the church who started an online magazine, and that article was written by a contributing author.
You're trying to make the Church guilty of something for which it's not guilty.

Tracy Keeney said...

Jack said:

"Then why do they allow such as this:

http://www.meridianmagazine.com/sci_rel/061212map.html"

Why do THEY allow it? They, WHO???
Jack, that's ONE scholar's article about RESEARCH and PLAUSIBLE Book of Mormon sites, and the scholar happens to be LDS. That's not "THE CHURCH" claiming there's evidence. Even the AUTHOR isn't claiming any irrefutable "evidence". It's just his educated opinion, and the opinion of other researchers on some of the studies they've done. Meridian Magazine is not a church publication. It's Scott and Maureen Proctor's publication, and they are simply members of the church who started an online magazine, and that article was written by a contributing author.
You're trying to make the Church guilty of something for which it's not guilty.

Clean Cut said...

The Book of Mormon is its own proof.

Mormanity said...

Sorry - some of the comments may be confusing since they respond to an anti-Mormon whose posts I have deleted. He was using a vulgar screen name that I didn't catch at first. I tolerate a lot of anti-Mormon expressions here, but vulgarity is unacceptable. What pathetic childishness!

Ryan said...

I'm confused... what do Joseph Smith's prophecies have to do with non-LDS archaeologists?

Interesting how on both the radio show and in this post Jeff gets accused of derailing the topic, then just a few comments later the topic really does get derailed (and not by Jeff, either).

Pot? Kettle?

To anon@2:18 --

That's hilarious! Time to find some gold spray paint and index cards...

Matt said...

Thanks for the post - seeing you get that out there saves me the time of setting forth my own frustrations about the same old anti arguments!

Why can't people understand that religion doesn't have to bow to science and reasoning? Sure we can find scientific points to affirm our faith, but science didn't bring me to Christ and it isn't going to push me away either.

SteSmo said...

"That's not a personal attack?"

Nope. Just the facts. Now, if I had said, say:

"Hey stupid dumb face! Your such an idiot, man! You sure are dumb! Don't you know anything about anything?" Or something along those lines, then that would be a personal attack.

You claimed:

"the BofA taken from the Egyptian Book of the Dead....not written by Abraham's own hand as was declared."

This does smack of ignorance. This tired claim has been successfully challenged. The latest scholarship has cast significant doubt on this claim. In fact, there seems to be good evidence that Joseph Smith did not use the Book of Breathings Made by Isis (not the Book of Dead, which is a different document, as you claim) in his translation of the Book of Abraham. The historical and Egyptological evidence suggests that Joseph translated said Book of Abraham from a scroll that was destroyed in the Chicago Fire. See Dr. John Gee on this issue. His works include:

A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri (FARMS. 2000)

and these articles:

http://farms.byu.edu/viewauthor.php?authorID=24

especially these:

http://farms.byu.edu/publications/bookschapter.php?bookid=&chapid=268

and

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/pdf.php?filename=MzAwOTM3NTgzNy0xOS0yLnBkZg==&type=cmV2aWV3Secondly, you claimed that Joseph Smith uttered false prophecies, and then promptly touted David Patton and the Temple as two examples. However, as has been demonstrated, these were not prophecies but commandments. They are different things.

"I suppose, when prophecies don't come true, the only way to protect the prophet is to dismiss his use of "Thus saith the LORD".:"

Please show me "Thus saith the Lord" phrases in connection with prophetic utterances. Again, those were commandments, not prophecies. See the links I provided and Jeff's links.

"But, we were asked to stay on topic so I won't go into why your argument is without merit."

Fair enough. I suppose we will just have to agree to disagree.

Mormanity said...

More comments from the same vulgar source deleted. Hope he matures someday.

Mormanity said...

Hey, don't even bother responding to fools who post with vulgar names. I'll just delete their comments and anything that mentions their name.

Alex Valencic said...

And speaking of bringing things back on topic... I don't really feel like going through all the 33 comments again to find out who said, it what exactly was said, but somebody made the claim that it is unfair to pose the minister's same question to him, citing an example of what if an atheist had called...

Anyway, I think it is important to note that, because the alleged questioner is a Christian minister, it is totally fair to hold him to the same standard that he holds us. When I was serving a mission in southern California, I never had anyone ask me about the veracity of the Bible. However, I would occasionally ask individuals how they knew the Bible was true. Often the response was something along the lines of, "Um... er... well, it just is! Everybody knows that!" I would then ask, "Have you ever prayed and asked the Lord to verify the truthfulness of the Bible?" The response was always an appalled negative. Apparently, it is sinful to question the validity of the Bible as sacred text.

Anyway, if the members of the mainstream Christian community are to use the standard of physical archeological evidence to prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon as a sacred text, then such standards must be held up to all sacred texts. Not just ones they choose to verify. Thus,I agree that Jeff's question was absolutely relevant.

And, perhaps with the risk of causing some individuals to draw the comparison toof far, I will point out that Christ himself used this method when people tried to trick him with questions. Remember the question of authority and the responding question about the baptism of John?

Greg said...

"Anyway, I think it is important to note that, because the alleged questioner is a Christian minister, it is totally fair to hold him to the same standard that he holds us."

Right, I think there is a point there, as I stated about Jeff's response. However, I'm still curious how one would respond to an atheist who has no similar "scandal" of believing a book to be true "just because it is." I think something like this needs to be defended objectively and not just within the context of other believers.

Alex Valencic said...

I have several friends and associates who are atheists. On those rare occasions in which we discuss things related to religion, the conversation usually ends with something like this:

No amount of physical evidence will do anything to prove the authenticity of the source material of religious texts (i.e. divine inspiration). All the evidence can do is say that someone at some point lived in some place. At some point, one must have faith in God to believe that that person living at some point in some place was inspired by God. Not that he (or she) was just writing their own ideas.

In other words, I don't think there is any meaningful purpose in trying to "prove" God. To believers or non-believers. So I don't try. I leave the proving up to the Spirit.

Anonymous said...

1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass. And He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John, and Joseph Smith

2who bore record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

3Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein; for the time is at hand.

Anonymous said...

Either the things we read in the BoM match up with reality, or they don't. Who asked the question is irrelevant, be they a Christian minister or the Dalai Lama. Truth is truth.

Truth isn't plausibility. Truth isn't using rhetoric to avoid hard facts. Truth is the reality of the world as it exists. If you have to ignore parts of reality, you ignore truth, and you have no integrity.

Anonymous said...

"Truth is the reality of the world as it exists."


Truth is things (all true facts) as they are, as they were, as they are to come. All true facts. The reality of the world does not give us all the true facts. Because of this we are always changing or preception of reality, like it or not.

Anonymous said...

Why not just answer with a simple, "No. I cannot name such an archaeologist who has verified the historicity of the Book of Mormon." And then pose your questions regarding verification of biblical history?

Tracy Keeney said...

He DID.

Mormanity said...

Thanks for listening, Tracy. Yes, I did say that. But I had to explain that the simple "no" answer does not mean that the Book of Mormon is on hopeless ground or has nothing going for it compared to the Bible. It's important to understand that the question is loaded and cuts both ways.

What really disappoints me about so many anti-Mormon Christians is that the "scientific" arguments they turn so ignorantly against the Book of Mormon often would also undermine the Bible. If non-believing archaeologists are needed to verify the reality of the Book of Mormon, must we demand that they stand up for the reality and accuracy of the stories of the Bible as well? Good luck!!

And if antis expect DNA evidence to "prove" the accuracy of the Book of Mormon text (they often have little knowledge about what the text really really requires), can they also show how it "proves" the Bible? Many of these antis who rant about DNA evidence also teach an interpretation of the Bible holding that the earth is only 6,000 years old. Look, a major foundation for the use of DNA in tracking and dating human migrations is the idea that humans and chimps are separated by 4.5 million years of gradual evolutionary change. Good luck with the DNA evidence in finding support for a 6,000-year-old earth.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I was under the impression that instead of the simple "no" answer, your initial response was the off-putting, "I'll answer that if the question cuts both ways and can be applied to the Bible as well..." I understand and agree with your point here. I was merely suggesting that a simple direct answer or conceding a point can diffuse antagonism and lead to a more productive discussion.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for listening.