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

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Little Green Band of Vegetation: Another Amazingly Lucky Guess by Joseph Smith?


Have any of you pondered just how amazing First Nephi is in terms of the intellectually rich evidence it provides for the plausability of the Book of Mormon? For the intellectually and spiritually honest, it can open one's mind to the possibility that maybe this is an ancient text with origins unexplainable by the usual claims of fabrication and forgery by a sinister farm boy. I've previously highlighted the delightful evidences we have from the Arabian Peninsula (see my Book of Mormon evidences page, for example), but today I'd like to remind you of one piece of that body of evidence: the bulls-eye placement of Bountiful on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, nearly due east of the ancient burial place Nahom (or Nehhem, as it is shown on one map from the University of Sana'a in Yemen). Following the detailed directions given in the Book of Mormon plausibly takes us to the eastern shores of modern Oman, where in fact we have a couple of excellent candidates for the place that anti-Mormon critics once dismissed as an impossibility (and apparently still can't honestly acknowledge today).

The area of the Peninsula that offers such rich finds for the Book of Mormon is more than merely interesting. It is truly amazing. The region the Book of Mormon describes as a plush, green area with fruit trees and many other criteria that appear to plausibly fulfilled by real locations, is counterintuitive, surprising, and unexpected in a Peninsula that "every knows" is little more than a vast dessert. But among that entire Peninsula there is a little green band of vegetation on the coast due east of Nahom (or Nehhem or Nihm, the name of the ancient tribe who left us ancient altars from Lehi's day with their tribal name inscribed thereon, showing that the Semitic root of NHM was the key name associated with that ancient area). The plausible candidates for Bountiful are an important enough find that it is dangerously irresponsible to dismiss such an intriguing and gracious hint of ancient origins as just a lucky guess. It is not "proof" that Jesus is the Christ, but evidence that we should not be too hasty to dismiss the Book of Mormon as mere fantasy and fraud. Open your mind and your heart, read the text, and learn for yourself if it truly is an ancient witness for the reality of the Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, and evidence that the work of the gathering of Israel and the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ has begun.


There are many other videos of interest about the evidence from the Arabian Peninsula. Here's one more. Important note regarding the last video: You don't need a cool hat to be a fan of the Book of Mormon or to be an LDS scholar. But I guess it helps.

Oh, did I mention iron ore? Yeah, it's a cool story from the Bountiful region. And I just updated my link to an important old article at LDSMag.com that is hard to find unless you know just where to look. It's >"Geologists Discover Iron Ore in the Region of Nephi's Bountiful" by Ron Harris in Meridian Magazine at LDSmag.com. (I dare you to find it using Google! I think everyone else's links to this article are dead after LDSMag changed the URL.) Excellent, easy-to-smelt iron ore has been discovered in the region of Bountiful on the eastern coast of Oman, consistent with the Book of Mormon. This article discusses the significance of the find and confirms that the iron ore near the area can be converted to workable metal using wood-fired technology. The video adds further insight. Cool stuff--and part of the growing body of shreds of evidence for the plausibility of the Book of Mormon that simply don't exist.





48 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think we're entering a new era wherein the very rocks will shout evidential praises from the earth's archeological sites. It's both terrifying and wonderful.

Jack

openminded said...

I, for one, acknowledge how bulls-eye this is for the BoM.

The only counter I could possibly think of is how this is a Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy, but just look at the odds! Only two sites out of so much desert. I find it hard to pass this off as mere coincidence.

I'd stop there, but you take it here:
"Open your mind and your heart, read the text, and learn for yourself if it truly is an ancient witness for the reality of the Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah..."
I'm going to stop myself from taking this thread into a discussion that's irrelevant to the original topic by just saying this: I can pick verses from the BoM that would turn me away from the conclusion that this book is a scriptural text (and therefore, I wouldn't consider it a witness).

Stan said...

It is very interesting and tantalizing. However, it also kinda reminds me of all the "evidence" of Noah's ark on Mt. Ararat. Until there there are real scientific studies of the evidence by parties not so inclined to bias and actual peer review by skeptics, I won't be basing my faith on it.

Some may take heart by some scraps of evidence and some may even join the church with that kind of encouragement. I think it is a false comfort and really sets people up for disappointment.

Tom said...

"For the intellectually and spiritually honest,"
Why didn't you just say something along the lines of, 'If you don't see it my way, you don't have the spirit." Or this other great one Missionaries like to use, "You have not asked with an open heart and mind."
Jeff, when you get a bunch of non-LDS archeologists together and they all agree there might be even the slightest truth to the BOM's geographical and archeological evidence, then let's hear it. Till then, you are still grasping at straws to make it all fit together. Keep juggling those balls in the air though, if that what's makes your world work. :)

openminded said...

I'm sort of appalled by the above comments.

I understand the want for unbiased archaeology, but it's hard to deny physical results. They didn't claim to see ore just because they're biased. And they aren't going to ruin (their already religiously-tainted) reputation by providing false claims.

Sure, Mormon apologetics grasps for straws. Yes, they don't have much of a case for the BoM's validity as a historical document. Some apologetics even admit that it's not historical, but take a liberal view of it.

However, if Bountiful were to exist, the perfect candidate for it has been found.

jackg said...

Jeff,

I guess it's easy for you to believe anything you want in your defense of the BOM. The sad thing is that you don't believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, but would rather chase after obscure findings. Jeff, God has given you all you need in the Bible. You see, I believe that He IS capable of preserving His Word and Truth for us despite any evil and wicked men. Besides, what evil and wicked men would leave in the 10 commandments and Jesus' sermon on the mount? Or, what about Romans?? BUT, evil and wicked men would take out parts about becoming gods and procreating with multiple wives for eternity. The argument doesn't make any sense, Jeff.

Praying for you...

openminded said...

jackg,
Stunning double standard here. I don't know I you've realized this, but a lot of the "archaeological support" for the bible is as shoddy as the support for the BoM in some places.

As for people becoming gods, those who follow strict monotheism would be highly motivated to remove any passages relating to polytheism. Polygamy was also widely practiced by OT rulers, and because staying with your wives in the afterlife was doubtfully a school of thought (considering particular schools of thought on the afterlife), I wouldn't expect it to be elaborated much in scripture.

As for god preserving his word, it would seem he has failed at this before:
How can you say, "We are wise, for we have the Law of the LORD," when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? (Jeremiah 8:8)

jackg said...

openminded,

I know you struggle to accept the truth about JS and the BOM. It's understandable. And, I know you have to relegate the Bible to a status of non-authority for the beliefs of Mormonism to work for you. Take off the lens of the 8th AOF, and you will have a clearer understanding of the Bible. Then, you will come to know for yourself that the Bible is sufficient and that the BOM is nothing more than a poor fictional writing.

Praying for you...

Anonymous said...

What was the date (or year or decade, etc) when the Bible became the closed cannon word of God and how come his servants (the prophets) didn't tell us about this?

Anonymous said...

Okay, (I am the anonymous from the post above) i was curious about the texts of the Bible. I found this Wikipedia article about Religious Texts - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_text

You will probably notice that there is some disagreement as to what books belong in the Bible. What is your take on this and how is this explained in your church?

openminded said...

jackg. You've been misled. I'll address what you "know" about me before I reiterate what I said in response to your claims of biblical inerrancy.

I was actually once your type--a strong-willed bible-believing fundamentalist, constantly debating Mormons about how their views contradict biblical claims (but actually, I went through Moroni's promise a few times. More than a few, really. I got a no each time). And you know what I found when I studied Mormonism? Plagiarism in the BoM. A frequent, inexcusable plagiarism of the Bible in the BoM. You know exactly what I mean too--what are NT verses doing in the BoM in OT times? etc, etc. It's a very serious issue (though the Mormons tend to come up with some pretty extravagant excuses for it, eh?).

But then a friend of mine brought up some scholarship on the Epic of Gilgamesh and the story of Noah's Ark. The Epic contained the story of Noah's ark, only with different characters, a different place, and minor detail changes that don't change the storyline much at all.

Ha! I said. Though this is an obvious parallel with Noah's Ark, I bet it doesn't predate the OT.

It does. And with my experience concerning plagiarism in the BoM, I knew immediately, and without excuse, that the story for Noah's Ark came from a separate, earlier culture with no ties to our Elohim. The writer of Genesis plagiarized from his cultural backdrop.

The bible, at that time for me, became God's word except for the stolen story of Noah's Ark. Then the stolen story of the Leviathan. Then with the redacted OT. Then with pseudepigrapha in the NT. Then with verses that were falsely ascribed to Jesus. Then Deutero-Isaiah in the OT.

And I was able to accept all of this because I wasn't closed off by using one set of standards to derail Mormonism, but not applying those same standards to my own religion. I didn't like it, but it was honest. I would've been in denial, otherwise.

But already, this "God-breathed" book has said, 'How can you say, "We are wise, for we have the Law of the LORD," when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?' Do you not listen to your own bible when it tells you that it's been mishandled?

Or are you as the Mormons are: afraid to accept the truth, and instead wear a false sense of security from the same level of irrational, straw-grasping apologetics that both Mormons and biblical inerrantists must use to uphold their fundamentalist beliefs?

The only reason I could imagine that you could hold Mormonism up to one set of standards while denying the use of the same set to your own beliefs is that you are, in fact, afraid, threatened, and too heavily involved with your own beliefs to allow that to happen. But I am awaiting a response from you that will no doubt be easily paralleled to the responses you get from Mormons when you confront them about their beliefs.

You accuse Mormons of wearing a lens--but your lens is much the same. The only difference is the side you wear them for. But you're just as gullible as you and I think the Mormons are to accept such ridiculous truth-claims.

(Please pray that Jeff doesn't kick me off his blog for being so contentious!)

ecep said...

Jeff, have you pondered how this post is a textbook case of confirmation bias?

With all due respect, is this at all evident to you?

GB said...

JG "I guess it's easy for you to believe anything you want in your defense of the BOM."

LOL!!!

That is funny coming from an anti-Mormon.

JG "The sad thing is that you don't believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God,. . . "

Have you ever critically looked at the doctrine of "inerrancy"?

It is a modern fabrication.

You believe it based on BLIND faith alone.

JG ". . . but would rather chase after obscure findings."

That is better that believing in man-made fabrications like "inerrancy" and "sola scriptura".

JG "Jeff, God has given you all you need in the Bible."

Obviously the Bible is insufficient in establishing doctrine. Just look at the variety of conflicting "Biblical" beliefs.

JG "You see, I believe that He IS capable of preserving His Word . . . "
We don't have a single autograph.

But then again, you are ASSUMING that all of "His Word" is in the Bible, despite the evidence otherwise.

JG "and Truth for us despite any evil and wicked men."

Is that why Jesus said, (Luke 11: 52) "Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: . . . "

What was the "key of knowledge" that those wicked men had removed?

Perhaps you should look critically at your own beliefs before you start condemning others for theirs.

jackg said...

Well, I guess it's easy to call me an anti-Mormon when I'm really not. If I were, I wouldn't care that you're all being lied to and misled. Do you consider yourself an anti-Christian? I would guess not, but you would still believe that I am being lied to and misled. So, calling me an ant-Mormon is really uncalled for. I know it makes you feel better to do so, and I don't begrudge you that.

I always find it humorous when Mormons want to debate the canon, yet don't question the veracity of the teachings of a false prophet, and gobble that stuff up like one eats at a buffet--indiscriminately.

GB,

A lot of what you say is pretty immature. Just say that you believe in a god who has limited power and ability. I don't. But, if that's your position, then just state it...actually put it down on paper just like that. If you struggle to do that, then you need to question what you actually believe about God, the God who created you, knows you, loves you, and wants you to know the truth about Him. I'm just a messenger bringing you the truth, and the truth is diametrically opposed to the teachings of JS.

Jeff, you're smart enough to know that you're chasing after anything to back up your belief in the BOM. Here's the truth, Jeff, you don't have to believe in that book. All you have to do is believe in Jesus Christ and then fight for the truth in the face of all the lies and false teachings that are out there. Use the Bible as the standard of measure, Jeff, not the writings of a false prophet and your own experiences. What you consider to be spiritual experiences have to be measured against the biblical text; you can't measure the biblical text against your experiences and the writings of your false prophet. That's why I say Mormonism uses a backward approach to finding the truth about God.

Praying for all of you...

GB said...

Jackg,

Thanks for proving my point.

Creek said...

jackg,

The irony of this thread is that you (a Protestant) view Mormonism the same way I (a Catholic) view Protestantism.

Many of the fundamentals of your faith are based on manmade doctrines, specifically sola scriptura and sola fide. I'd be interested in reading your defense of them...using scriptures only, of course.

jackg said...

GB,

Your point isn't what's important. The point is that Jesus Christ is all anyone needs, and the truth about Him can be found in the Bible. God is faithful, and it would be unfaithful of Him if He did not preserve His Word. That's all that really matters. Everything else is nothing more than folk theology and opinion.

Praying for you...

jackg said...

Creek,

Regarding your point about man-made doctrines: the doctrines you point out are what Spirit-led men have been able to exegete from the biblical text. What's man-made (meaning not exegeted from the text but made up) is the belief that God was once a man just like us, and if just like us, in need of a Savior. Such a thought is blasphemy. God did not take away the Holy Spirit, which is what would have happened if one is to believe that a "restoration" was needed. The Spirit has been alive and leading people since Pentecost. He has led men to understand biblical principles, and men have given them labels in an attempt to teach them so that the Body of Christ is edified. These men have worked from within the framework of the Bible; JS worked outside that framework and made up his own stuff.

Praying for you...

Rusty Southwick said...

JackG,

You committed a red herring here:
"I believe that He IS capable of preserving His Word and Truth for us despite any evil and wicked men."

The capability of God is not in question here. You've raised that as a false dichotomy. Mormonism doesn't claim that yet you attribute it to us. It's faulty logic to assume that God would do all the things He is capable of. Instead, He can do many things for various reasons, and you'll note He often does allow men to mess up without immediately sanitizing what they've done. You act as if mankind's blunders reflect poorly on God. This also is a fallacy.

You also said: "God has given you all you need in the Bible."

Which interpretation and version of the Bible do you speak of? Do we just get to take our pick of whichever one we like the best? This really needs to be clarified better.

Also: "The sad thing is that you don't believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God..."

Which parts that are interpreted to conflict do you think aren't inerrant? Unless you know of another version that we don't know about. You got a lot of 'splainin to do, Lucy.

Creek said...

Jackg,

Spirit-led men like Martin Luther? Do you agree with all of his positions? If he was "spirit-led" then you must agree with his position on Mary, right?

Look, I'm not arguing LDS doctrine with you because neither of us is LDS. I'm asking you to defend some of YOUR core beliefs. You can't attack LDS beliefs on this board and then dodge questions about your own beliefs that you claim are the only way to salvation. So what's up with sola scriptura?

Saying an "Our Father" for you...

openminded said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
openminded said...

"Spirit-led men" give out correct exegesis.

How do we know they are led by the right spirit?
They follow the true Jesus.

How do we know they follow the true Jesus?
Because of how they exegete the bible. You know, supporting the trinity and the contradicting stories of the birth of Christ (right story, right?). They know the Jesus of the bible.

How do we know the exegete the bible correctly?
They are led by the right spirit.

Anything else you'd like to add to the circle, jack?

How bout a spirit-led testimony? You know, the kind fundamentalists can't admit to lest they give credibility to spirit-led testimonies, which are a part of nearly every religion.

jackg said...

Rusty,

The ability of God is in question. It's not a red herring, Rusty. I'm just taking LDS teachings to where they logically conclude.

Spirit-led men are not infallible. I'm Spirit-led, but still don't get things perfect. The amazing thing about God is that He has chosen to work through a fallen and broken humanity to bring forth the simple message that Jesus Christ came into the world to save us by His work on the cross. It's such a simple message; I really struggle to understand why you all why want to fight against it. Could any of you please tell me why you do this?

In case I don't get back on this thread until after Christmas, and despite the fact that we don't agree, I sincerely want to wish you all a Merry Christmas. I hope you can all accept this heartfelt wish. :-)

Peace and Blessings...

openminded said...

Can you tell me why a purely infallible document is needed to reach that message? It'd seem that only the verses that make that claim would need to be true, and whatever supporting verses that are called on.

But not everything speaks of Jesus dying on the cross so we may be saved. Some are very divisive, some talk of genocide, some seem purely fictional, some are prophecies; but there's a lot of baggage coming in with the seemingly simple message of dying onthe cross to save us.

What's wrong is that all this baggage is accepted as true simply because it was included in a compilation of over 80 books relating to our religion. And so we end up with some unnecessary and spiteful discrimination on top of a message of love.

And so the bible you defend is not only fallible, but there is good reason to speak out about its pitfalls and to realize not every word in there is from God (if there are any at all).

Pops said...

There are many spirits extant in the world today. Some spirit-led people are led by the wrong spirits. Choose wisely.

Hint: if a spirit-led person tells you that salvation is freely available to those who willfully ignore - and even contradict - God's admonition to obey his commandments and to do good works, they might be tuned to the wrong spirit. God wouldn't give us commandments and counsel if he didn't mean it.

Anonymous said...

"There are many spirits extant in the world today. Some spirit-led people are led by the wrong spirits. "

Do you have any actual evidence of this? Please post actual facts, and not just random thoughts to back this up.

Pops said...

I found this post really interesting.

One comment was a bit puzzling - the one about "confirmation bias". The iron ore and the verdant greenery is actually where the Book of Mormon says it ought to be. How is that confirmation bias? It sounds rather like confirmation, not bias.

Anonymous said...

I found this really interesting.
"There are many spirits extant in the world today. Some spirit-led people are led by the wrong spirits. "
It is amazing that anyone can just post anything they like, however crazy it is, and it is not challenged. That is the craziest thing I have ever heard. It is that kind of thinking that pushes back actual learning and understanding. It makes us dumber in fact to just accept things like that that make no sense at all.

Pops said...

I'm glad I could amaze you. Have a merry Christmas!

Zerabp said...

Merry Christmas All

Rich said...

Jack G,
If you could explain this to me we'll be on the track of showing the trinity, one single God with three parts(tell me if that is no accurate), over a Godhead which is three separate persons comprising a governing body, in light of the baptism of Christ.
Christ was on earth being baptized by John the baptist. God the Father speaks from heaven, a different location, saying that he is well pleased in his Son, then the Holy Ghost appears in the form of a dove, also on earth but not the same person/manifestation that is being baptized.
That biblical reference seems to speak more clearly to a Godhead then a trinity. For the Trinity to work, Christ has to be telling us, from heaven, that he is well pleased with himself, and then appear as two manifestations of the same person on the earth at his baptism. So are you then saying that God's 3 separate manifestation can be simultaneously present for all to hear and see?
The Godhead also follows with Stephen seeing Christ on the right hand of God, two standing together. Or God can manifest two parts of himself also at the same time.
And just to add more clarity to my Godhead position, the I and my Father are one fits the Godhead when you consider Christ is talking about being one in purpose. They have the same goal of saving humanity as does the Holy Ghost. They all do their parts of our salvation.
By the way I don't see anyone fighting the work Christ did on the cross to save us, don't forget the garden of Gethsemane, only disagreeing with you that you only need the bible to be saved.

ecep said...

Pops:

This post cites a few similarities between reality and the Book of Mormon.

These similarities are claimed to be "amazing" and "intellectually rich" evidence for the BoM that make it "dangerously irresponsible to dismiss" the BoM as a modern work of fiction. "The Book of Mormon is accurate and ancient" is very much the thrust of this post, though not explicitly stated.

However, the similarities are nowhere near sufficient to conclude or even form a reasonable suspicion that the BoM is an ancient work of nonfiction, especially given other spectacular and implausible fact claims contained in the book.

They only seem amazing and confirmatory when one's view is coloured by confirmation bias. When viewed dispassionately, they're just minor similarities.

Pops said...

It seems you were overwhelmed by Jeff's choice of adjectives. He does call it a "shred" of evidence at the end, but perhaps you failed to read that far.

ecep said...

"It seems you were overwhelmed by Jeff's choice of adjectives."

Uh, Pops, even if that was true, it would still be a red herring. It would not refute the point you're responding to.

"He does call it a 'shred' of evidence at the end, but perhaps you failed to read that far."

Lovely innuendo, Pops.

The post did construct a rhetorical veneer that proved too thin to hide the confirmation bias. For example, in addition to what I noted previously, note the gloating about the supposed triumph over unnamed critics, as well as the suggestion that anyone not reaching the same conclusion is intellectually or spiritually dishonest.

This is not level-headed evaluation of facts. This is confirmation bias in action.

Anonymous said...

ecep, you want innuendo?
Try this:
"There are many spirits extant in the world today. Some spirit-led people are led by the wrong spirits. "
I can't wait to see what the source to that nonsense is.

Pops said...

Is there or is there not a green oasis on the Arabian Peninsula located where the Book of Mormon states it ought to be located? Is there or is there not easily-smelted iron ore at the surface at that location?

The post was about verifiable and verified facts, not innuendo or interpretation. If you think Jeff lied, just come out and say so.

Papa D said...

I always am amazed at how the most vocal critics find ways to derail an actual discussion of subjects like this - and how willingly many Mormons follow that lead and respond to those tactics, effectively ending up spitting at each other while the point of the post goes unaddressed and undiscussed.

In an effort to address Jeff's actual point in this post:

As Jeff said, this might be a lucky coincidence - but man what an amazing shot in the dark if it is only a coincidence!

I've said for many years that 1 Nephi and Ether are MUCH stronger evidences for the Book of Mormon than the rest of the book - since those two books are about the only things in the BofM that currently have any hope of being verified in any way (including through what we know of cultural anthropology), given that the book itself has no real clues about location that can be pinned to any specific area outside of those two books.

Fortunately for Mormons, those two books actually are very good evidences - which is one of the main reasons why the vocal critics focus on the rest of the book and pretty much ignore 1 Nephi and Ehter.

openminded said...

Ether? Ignored?

This is the book with the Jaredite boats with absolutely No plausibility of lasting the over 300 days in the sea?

Same book with the mythical concept of the Tower of Babel?

The person who gasped for air after his head was cut off?

(steel swords? I don't remember)

I don't think it was ignored at all. I think you're being exposed to really pathetic blog sites.

And 1 Nephi? That's the book that extensively quotes Isaiah, right? Check out Deutero-Isaiah.

Best wishes

ecep said...

Pops:

My "lovely innuendo" comment was not directed at Jeff's post . . .

"Is there or is there not a green oasis on the Arabian Peninsula . . . Is there or is there not easily-smelted iron ore . . ."

There is, and nobody is disputing this.

" . . . located where the Book of Mormon states it ought to be located?"

No. The Book of Mormon does not specify the location of Bountiful, nor does it specify this particular location in Oman, nor does it say that the Lehites remained in the Arabian Peninsula after wandering for eight years. It does gives some vague clues (by the sea, near a mountain, ore close enough to be retrieved) that this location satisfies.

These modest similarities can be adequately explained by coincidence, especially in light of spectacular and implausible fact claims made elsewhere in the Book of Mormon. They can't be reasonably taken to be confirmatory if one examines them dispassionately.

They can be seen to be confirmatory if one is seeking to validate an a priori belief that the Book of Mormon is accurate and ancient - in other words, if one is applying confirmation bias.

Papa D:

openminded makes a good point about Ether - there's little hope for proving the story that refugees from the Tower of Babel sailed to the New World in poorly ventilated, submarine-like wooden barges propelled by the invisible hand of God for nearly one year and then grew into a great civilization that completely destroyed itself in a massive civil war.

AFAIK, 1 Nephi does have some believability issues but has nothing notably faith-shattering, except maybe some of the KJV quotations.

Papa D said...

Just a few things, open-minded and ecep:

1) I am a history teacher by training and inclination. My degree is in history - from a highly reputable, not-BYU college. The things you mention as problematic in the last two comments really aren't - especially in an account that is proported to be that old. There certainly is a good argument against some of them, but there are equally good arguments for each of then - and, for example, the case of Shiz raising up and gasping for breath after having his head cut off is completely plausible and simply not problematic at all.

2) I don't believe in sola scripture. I don't accept any permutation of scriptural inerrancy. Therefore, I don't try to claim that the Book of Mormon (or any part of it) is inerrant, totally accurate history. It certainly doesn't claim to be, when judged only by what the words in it actually say. Therefore, I am free to view Ether in the same general light as I view the Old Testament - and "as accurate as (or even more accurate than) the Old Testament" is a really low standard. Just sayin'.

3) When you read carefully how Ether is described to have been compiled - and then when you read carefully the actual account and how incredibly little it says about the span of time it covers, what is left largely can be evaluated most coherently through a cultural anthropology lens. It presents a VERY different people than the rest of the Book of Mormon, and that presentation is remarkably consistent from a cultural anthropoly perspective with similar accounts that are accepted as legitimate in origin.

4) Frankly, fwiw, I believe very few Mormons understand much of what I mean in the points above - which means, unforunately, that the Book of Mormon, generally, and Ether, especially, get defended in ludicrous and incorrect ways FAR too often. For that reason, I don't blame those who react correctly to incorrect apologetics. I don't think your quick, summaries are solid criticisms of the actual text, but I certainly accept them as good rebuttals to the poor understandings of the majority of members.

5) In the end, I simnply believe the actual accounts in 1 Nephi and Ether are far stronger than most people realize - on either side. Those who argue against them generally do so by attacking the bad arguments made for them, which obviously is totally circuitous and non-productive, imo.

6) In the case of this post, the only argument against it really is either that it is a lucky guess or that it is totally coincidental - and I agree with Jeff that it is a real doozy of an amazing guess or coincidence, if that is the case.

openminded said...

"I don't think your quick, summaries are solid criticisms of the actual text, but I certainly accept them as good rebuttals to the poor understandings of the majority of members."

I agree completely.

Though as per your 1st item, I'm at the convenience of not having to worry about, say, gasping for air being impossible. I could've stopped at the Jaredite boats and taken this thread on a spin about how ridiculously impossible the entire trip is. I would rather not solidly criticize the text in regards to it though, as I could find more reputable people who have already done so, and quite effectively.

I'm guessing, if I'm trying to defend my faith with liberal values that are comfortable with disowning the OT as an accurate portrayal of history (as I have done in my liberal Christian times), that the story became madly skewed through...some oral tradition? I'd have to revisit the chapter to see how it was compiled (or beg for a quick recap of all the parts relevant to the telling of the Jaredite-boat story).

But if it didn't happen as it said it did, then how am I supposed to accept the need for the "words" (as per Moroni's promise) of the BoM to be true?

Shall we say...true, but don't worry about that one part because of X, Y, and Z factors?
That would seem to make it only true a majority of the time, whereas the standard implied by Moroni is that all of the words are true?

Anonymous said...

You've apparently never witnessed the antics of a decapitated chicken.

Papa D said...

"whereas the standard implied by Moroni is that all of the words are true?"

That's one of the best examples of a mis-reading of the text, open-minded. That statement simply doesn't exist anywhere in the actual book. Sure, many members have taken that stance, but that just twists the Book of Mormon into the inerrant Bible of some Protestants. It just doesn't claim to be that.

Anyway, we are wandering far from the point of Jeff's post, so, while I really do aprpeciate how civil you've been in this discussion, I'm going to bow out and wait until Jeff posts something else that is more along the lines of our current discussion.

I also write occasionally about topics like this on my own blog, so feel free to comment there if you feel like it.

Papa D said...

open-minded, perhaps the post on my own blog that best hits the topic we've been discussing is one I wrote just over 13 months ago. It's titled "Rethinking Our Assumptions of the Book of Mormon" - and the link is:

http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2009/11/rethinking-our-assumptions-of-book-of.html

openminded said...
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openminded said...

Thank you for providing the link.

I've already responded there, so I won't continue to take this thread towards a different topic.

Papa D said...

I finally had time to respond on my own blog, open-minded. I will apologize in advance, if you read this first, for the length. It ended up being practically a dissertation of multiple comments. *sheepish grin*

Richard A Durrant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.