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

Friday, February 10, 2017

Evaluating Book of Mormon Claims: Where Do We Stand after 187 Years?

After 187 years of critics poking fun at the Book of Mormon and exposing its weaknesses, today it seems to be the established view of numerous highly educated elites that there is "not a scrap of evidence" supporting the Book of Mormon. That is the consensus, at least, among those who are rather unfamiliar with the text and the associated evidence related to Book of Mormon claims. But for those who are willing to look a little deeper, a much different world emerges.

The non-existent scraps of evidence are forming a hefty pile that demands a little attention. No, we are not able to prove that angels exist and Jesus visited the Americas based on undeniable evidence. We don't even have the original gold plates for scientific analysis. Faith is still an essential and merciful ingredient, as intended by the Lord, for accepting the Book of Mormon as the word of God and as a testament of Jesus Christ. For those not interested in faith, there are plenty of reasons one can pick for ignoring Christ, the scriptures, and especially Mormonism. But for those with a particle of faith, there are also many notable particles of intellectually satisfying evidences that can strengthen faith or help overcome challenges to faith. So let's look at the big picture of where we are in terms of Book of Mormon evidence.

The testable claims from the Book of Mormon began with the declaration that a sacred record had been preserved on metal plates and buried in a stone box by people from an ancient literate civilization with Old World roots. That story featured numerous hilarious concepts when it was presented. Today, we know that stone boxes were used by ancient Native Americans to preserve sacred objects, especially in Mesoamerica, where most LDS scholars believe is the only plausible location for the New World Book of Mormon events. You can see multiple examples of sacred stone boxes in the National Archaeological Museum in Mexico City, as I have reported here earlier. We know that writing sacred record on metal plates was a known practice in the ancient Middle East, making the existence of the brass and gold plates less hilarious today than it was in 1830. We know that there were advanced writing systems in ancient Mesoamerica. Things that were laughable among the general public and unknown or not well known in 1830 have become more established today.

That's just a beginning of numerous issues where once ridiculous Book of Mormon claims now have at least some evidence in their support. And as for the possibility of Joseph's gold plates actually existing, we now have detailed scholarship on the statements and activities of numerous witnesses providing a compelling case that the gold plates were real. Laughable details such as the impossibility of Joseph carrying a 200-pound block of gold have become more plausible in light of analysis regarding what real hand-made metal plates would actually weigh, especially if made from the Mesoamerican gold-copper alloy known as tumbaga. A figure of 60 pounds, consistent with estimates from witnesses, is entirely reasonable. The whole idea of metal plates is less laughable than it was initially, and not only because examples of writing on metal plates in the Old World have been found.

Many other issues of this kind could be mentioned, such as Book of Mormon claims of ancient temples, ancient highways, practices of warfare, and, say, the idea of an older civilization that gave way to a newer civilization with dates that could correspond with the Olmecs and the later groups in Mesoamerica such as the Mayans. The correspondences are not just the big picture stuff, but get down into many interesting details such as the hundreds of correspondences from many disciplines examines by John Sorenson in Mormon's Codex and the linkages to Mesoamerica examined by Brant Gardner in Traditions of the Fathers.

While there have been many exciting finds and remarkable publications in the past decade, including the two books I just mentioned, there is still a great deal of value in a 2005 presentation given by Mesoamerican archaeologist John Clark about the state of evidence relating to the Book of Mormon. If that presentation were redone today, one might wish to add many details regarding the Arabian Peninsula evidence, new linguistic evidence both relating to the miraculous translation of the Book of Mormon and the presence of significant Old World influence in Uto-Aztercan languages, and abundant evidence of Semitic word plays in the Book of Mormon that point to ancient origins, but the 2005 summary of John Clark is still highly informative.


The presentation, "Debating the Foundations of Mormonism: The Book of Mormon and Archaeology" by John E. Clark, Wade Ardern, and Matthew Roper, was made at the August 2005 FAIRMormon Conference. The transcript is available at FAIRMormon.org. The video is jsut a 7-minute segment that begins a couple minutes into John's presentation (skipping his hat tip to the Tanners for their helpful anti-Mormon work, which John feels has actually helped strengthen the case for the Book of Mormon). You can also see the full nearly-hour-long video on Youtube.

Update: In a related presentation, Dr. John E. Clark as Professor of Anthropology at BYU gave a speech entitled "Archaeology, Relics, and Book of Mormon Belief" on May 25, 2004 in the de Jong Concert Hall at BYU. His comments on guessing unguessable things should be applied, in my opinion, to the burgeoning evidence we have from the Arabian Peninsula, which has not been the focus of his research but is where we have perhaps the most easily identifiable and verifiable evidences. Here is an excerpt from his speech (an unofficial transcript is available online), which I have previously shared but find still relevant today:
In the past fifty years, friends and foes have adopted Joseph's plan of comparing ruined cities with those in the Book of Mormon. Both sides believe archaeology is on their side. Consider the argument against the Book of Mormon circulated recently by an evangelical group. "The Bible is supported in its truth claims by the corroborating evidence of geography and archaeology. That assertion cannot be said for the Book of Mormon. Several decades of archaeological research funded by LDS institutions concentrating in Central America and Mexico have yielded nothing that corroborates the historical events described in the Book of Mormon." The only things wrong with this clever argument are that its claims are false and its logic faulty.

Archaeology and geography support the Book of Mormon to the same degree and for the same reasons that they support the Bible. Both books present the same challenges for empirical confirmation and both are in good shape. Many things have been verified for each but many have not. Anti-Mormon arguments specialize in listing things mentioned in the Book of Mormon that archaeology has not found. Rather than cry over missing evidence, I will tell you about evidence that has been found.

The pamphlet lists eight deficiencies. First, that no Book of Mormon cities have been located, and last, that no artifact of any kind that demonstrates the Book of Mormon is true has been found. This last assertion is overly optimistic in suggesting that such material proof is even possible. No artifact imaginable, or even a roomful, could ever convince critics that the Book of Mormon is true. The implied claim that the right relic could prove the book's truth beyond all doubt is too strong and underestimates human cussedness. Moroni could appear before Congress tomorrow with the golden plates, the Sword of Laban, and the Liahona in hand, and this would not satisfy public demands for more proofs.

The logical challenges with the first assertion, that no cities have been located, are more subtle. Book of Mormon cities have been found, they are well known, and their artifacts grace the finest museums. They are merely masked by archaeological labels such as "Maya," "Olmec," and so on. The problem, then, is not that Book of Mormon artifacts have not been found, only that they have not been recognized for what they are. Again, if you stumbled onto Zarahemla, how would you know?

One last point about significant evidence. The hypothesis of human authorship demands that truth claims in the Book of Mormon be judged by what was believed, known, or knowable in Joseph's backyard in the 1820s. The book's description of ancient peoples differs greatly from the notions of rude savages held by nineteenth-century Americans. The book's claim of city-societies was laughable at the time, but no one is laughing now. As the city example shows, the lower the probability that Joseph Smith could have guessed a future fact, the stronger the likelihood that he received the information from a divine source. Consequently, the most compelling evidence of authenticity is that which verifies unguessable things recorded in the Book of Mormon, the more outlandish, the better. Confirmation of such things would eliminate any residual probability of human authorship and go a long way in demonstrating that Joseph Smith could not have written the book. This is precisely what a century of archaeology has done.

I will consider a few items in the time remaining. The one requirement for making comparisons between archaeology and the Book of Mormon is to be in the right place. For reasons I will explore in a few minutes, Mesoamerica is the right place. The first archaeological claims related to the Book of Mormon concern the facts of September 22, 1827, the actuality of metal plates preserved in a stone box. This used to be considered a monstrous tale, but concealing metal records in stone boxes is now a documented Old World practice. Stone offering boxes have also been discovered in Mesoamerica, but so far the golden plates are still at large, as we would expect them to be. Another fact obvious that September morning was that ancient peoples of the Americas knew how to write, a ludicrous claim for anyone to make in 1827. We now know of at least six Mesoamerican writing systems that predate the Christian era. This should count for something, but it is not enough for dedicated skeptics. They demand to see reformed Egyptian, preferably on gold pages, and to find traces of the Hebrew language. There are promising leads on both, but nothing conclusive yet. New scripts are still being discovered, and many texts remain undeciphered. The example shown here was recovered 56 years ago and qualifies as America's earliest writing sample, but so far nothing much has been made of it and most scholars have forgotten that it exists.

The golden plates and other relics ended up in New York in the final instance because the Nephites were exterminated in a cataclysmic battle. The Book of Mormon brims with warfare and nasty people. Until twenty years ago, the book's claims on this matter were pooh-poohed by the famous scholars. Now that Maya writing is being read, warfare appears to have been a Mesoamerican pastime. The information on warfare in the Book of Mormon is particularly rich and provides ample opportunity to check Joseph Smith's luck in getting the details right. The warfare described in the book differs from what Joseph could have known or imagined. In the book, one reads of fortified cities with ditches, walls, and palisades. Mesoamerican cities dated to Nephite times have been found with all these features. The Book of Mormon mentions bows and arrows, swords, slings, scimitars, clubs, spears, shields, breastplates, helmets, and cotton armor--all items documented from Mesoamerica. Aztec swords were of wood, sometimes edged with stone knives. There are indications of wooden swords in the Book of Mormon. How else could swords become stained with blood? Wooden swords could sever heads and limbs and were lethal. The practice of taking detached arms as battle trophies, as in the story of Ammon, is also documented from Mesoamerica.

Another precise correspondence is the practice of fleeing to the summits of pyramids as places of last defense and consequently, of eventual surrender. Conquered cities were depicted in Mesoamerica by symbols for broken towers or burning pyramids. Mormon records this practice. Other practices of his day were human sacrifice and cannibalism, vile behaviors well-attested for Mesoamerica. The final battle at Cumorah involved staggering numbers of troops and of Nephite battle units of 10,000. Aztec documents described armies of over 200,000 warriors, also divided into command units of 10,000. The Aztec ciphers appear to be propagandistic exaggeration. I do not know whether this applies to Book of Mormon numbers or not.

In summary, the practices and instruments of war described in the Book of Mormon display multiple and precise correspondences with Mesoamerican practices and in ways unimaginable to nineteenth-century Americans.

Mesoamerica is a land of decomposing cities with their pyramids or towers, temples, and palaces--all items mentioned in the Book of Mormon but foreign to the gossip along the Erie Canal in Joseph Smith's day. Cities show up in all the right places and for the predicted times. One of the more unusual and specific claims in the Book of Mormon is that houses and cities of cement were built by 49 B.C. in the land northward, a claim considered ridiculous in 1830. As it turns out, it receives remarkable confirmation at Teotihuacan, the largest pre-Columbian city ever built in the Americas. Teotihuacan is still covered with ancient cement that has lasted over 1500 years.

All Book of Mormon peoples had kings who ruled cities and territories. American prejudices of native tribes in Joseph's day had no room for kings or their tyrannies. These were crazy claims. The last Jaredite king, Coriantumr, carved his history on a stone about 300 B.C., an event in line with Mesoamerican practices at that time. A particular gem in the book is that King Benjamin labored with his own hands, an outrageous thing for Joseph Smith to claim for a king. It was not until the 1960s that anthropology caught up to the idea of working kings and validated it among world cultures. Even more specific, consider Riplakish, the tenth Jaredite king, an oppressive tyrant who forced slaves to construct buildings and produce fancy goods. Among the items he commissioned about 1200 B.C. was an exceedingly beautiful throne. The earliest civilization in Mesoamerica is known for its elaborate stone thrones. How did Joseph Smith get this detail right?

Not all evidence concerns material goods. A striking correspondence is this drawing from the Dresden Codex, one of four surviving pre-Columbian Maya books. It shows a sacrificial victim with a tree growing from his heart, a literal portrayal of the metaphor preached in Alma chapter 32. Other images depict the Tree of Life. The book's metaphors make sense in the Mesoamerican world. We are just beginning to study these metaphors, so check in with the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies for future developments.

A correspondence that has always impressed me involves prophecies in 400-year blocks.
The Maya were obsessed with time, and they carved precise dates on their stone monuments that began with a count of 400 years, an interval called a bactun. Each bactun was made up of twenty katuns, an extremely important twenty-year interval. If you will permit me some liberties with the text, Samuel the Lamanite warned the Nephites that one bactun shall not pass away before they would be smitten. Nephi and Alma uttered the same bactun prophecy, and Moroni recorded its fulfillment. Moroni bids us farewell just after the first katun of this final bactun, or 420 years since the sign was given of the coming of Christ. What are the chances of Joseph Smith guessing correctly the vigesimal system of timekeeping and prophesying among the Maya. The list of unusual items corresponding to Book of Mormon claims could be extended.

The LDS tendency to get absorbed in specifics has been characterized as a method for distracting attention from large problems by engaging critics with endless irrelevant details, much as a mosquito swarm distracts from the rhinoceros in the kitchen. Let's take up the dare to consider big issues, namely geography and cycles of civilization and population. As is clear from the Cluff expedition, if the geography is not right, one can waste years searching for Zarahemla and never get there. Book of Mormon geography presents a serious challenge because the only city location known with certitude is Old World Jerusalem, and this does not help us with locations in the promised land.

However, it is marvelous for the Old World portion of the narrative. As Kent Brown and others have shown, the geography of the Arabian peninsula described in First Nephi is precise down to its place names. The remarkable geographic fit includes numerous details unknown in Joseph Smith's day. For the New World, dealing with geography is a two-step exercise. An internal geography must first be deduced from clues in the book, and this deduction must then become the standard for identifying a real world setting. John Sorenson has done the best work on this matter, and this is his internal map of physical features and cities. The Book of Mormon account is remarkably consistent throughout. Nephite lands included a narrow neck between two seas and lands northward and southward of this neck. The land southward could be traversed on foot with children and animals in tow in about thirty days, so it could not have been much longer than 300 miles. The 3000 miles required for the traditional geography is off by one order of magnitude. Nephite lands were small and did not include all of the Americas or their peoples.

The principal corollary of a limited geography is that Book of Mormon peoples were not alone on the continent. Therefore, to check for correspondences we must find the right place and peoples. It is worth noticing that anti-Mormons lament the demise of traditional, continental geography because it was so easy to ridicule. The limited geography is giving them fits. . . .



112 comments:

Mormography said...
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Mormography said...
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Mormography said...
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Mormography said...

For belief in the BoM, confirmation basis is required (see Wikipedia confirmation basis). Faith in the BoM is not possible because faith believes in things without evidence. It does not believe in things contrary to evidence, that is the job of confirmation basis.

There is a mountain of evidence contrary to the BoM hypothesis. So much evidence in fact, we see here the least painful option cognitive dissonance offers. Create a blog to intelligently play dumb: gradually diverge the hypothesis to something so thoroughly reimagined that it is no longer the same thing and then act like the new thing was always the hypothesis.

For those not interested in integrity there are plenty of reasons to ignore reason, facts, and especially science. Those with a particle of integrity would never deceitfully redefine faith, claim untestable items are testable, deceitfully present "laughable”/”hilarious” strawmen claims and then claim them defeated.

The Atlantis theory and the BoM theory were similar theories in their time. Both are much more “laughable” today than in their time. Resorting to a persecution complex (ex: “After 187 years of critics poking fun at the Book of Mormon”) is a classically strong reaction to cognitive dissonance, an indication of the intensity of the pain it causes.

Anonymous said...

I am no expert on BoM evidence, but I did have a mission companion from a tribe in El Salvador who joined the church in part because of the similarities he saw between the Book of Mormon and some tribal traditions and stories. I thought that was pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

We have a lot more LDS apologetics than we did 187 years ago, but that doesn't mean we have a lot more actual evidence for the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Thanks to advances in linguistics, DNA science, history, and archaeology, however, we have many, many more reasons to doubt that historicity.

When it comes to evidence for BoM historicity that has actually managed to survive secular-academic peer review, we have exactly as much today as we had 187 years ago: none.

It might be instructive to go beyond the question of BoM evidences and make some other observations about the early Church and today's Church:

-- The early Church and its prophets believed wholeheartedly in the hemispheric model. Today's apologists throw these early leaders under the bus and argue for a Limited Geography model. And of course the Church's actual prophets, who, as seers and revelators, might be expected to be able to resolve such basic points, are instead completely silent on them. (And I do mean basic points. Given its history of missionary activity and outreach programs, doesn't the Church need to know whether Natve Americans really are Lamanites or not?)

-- The early prophets prophesied all the time. They articulated radical new ideas like exaltation and polygamy. Today's prophets don't prophesy at all, they just speak in banalities and manage the corporation. Compare the statements of Smith and Young with the treacly tweets of Monson. In keeping with the Church's current 1950s worldview, today's LDS apostle is basically the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. When I read the words of the prophets up to Joseph Fielding Smith, the experience is often bracing. After JFS it's soporific.

-- The early prophets spoke out boldly on the most radical aspects of LDS apologetics and doctrine. Today's prophets timidly maintain plausible deniability by letting FAIR and various bloggers like Jeff do all the heavy lifting.

-- Initially the followers of Joseph Smith constituted a single church. Today, after a history of schism that started almost immediately (thanks in part to Joseph's egomania and bombastic leadership style), there are several Mormon churches, ranging from the FLDS, which Brigham Young would probably find himself most comfortable in, to the Unitarian-ish Church of Christ.

-- OK

Hiser said...

The surmisings of anti-Mormons like OK are weak. The original manuscript indicates that the text was dictated. The witnesses of the dictation tell us no writings were dictated from. The form and structure of the English language tell us that Joseph Smith did not come up with the words himself. This foundational evidence trumps the fuzzier arguments that OK likes to make.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Hiser, the evidence is overwhelming that Joseph Smith (or at least some other early 19th-century writer) did "come up with the words himself":

The Book of Mormon rehashes theological issues being debated in Smith's time and place (issues totally anachronistic for the period 600 BCE to 400 AD). I mean, c'mon: a bunch of Jews leave Jerusalem for the New World, and within a generation they're suddenly discussing problems in 19th-century Protestant doctrine? Riiiiight....

The book shows remarkable parallels with a book published nearby in 1825 by Oliver Cowdery's former minister. Coincidence? Riiiiiight.... As evidence against the Book of Mormon's antiquity, View of the Hebrews alone outweighs the entire corpus of LDS apologetics.

The book weighs in on the question of Native American origins, also a hot topic in Smith's time and place, and answers that question in a way consistent with 19th-century American, rather than ancient, thinking.

It includes errors unique to the King James Bible --- errors the apologists have completely failed to explain away.

Its putative author, Joseph Smith, was already known as, and would subsequently prove himself to be, a consummate bull-pookie artist (snookering people about his ability to find treasure with his seer stone, making up stuff on the fly about Zelph the white Lamanite, and making up the Book of Abraham out of whole cloth).

The book was supposedly translated from metal plates that were oh-so-conveniently taken from us by an angel and thus made unavailable for our inspection.

Then there's the Morgan Affair, the highly convoluted explanation for Joseph's inability to retranslate the missing 116 pages (how can anyone possibly believe that story?), etc., etc., etc.

That anyone these days believes in Book of Mormon historicity is a testament to the amazing power of religious faith and indoctrination.

-- OK

Mormography said...

How Janus-ed Mormanity and ilk are. With one face they are open iconoclast and with another face apologist.

They readily concede critical positions, such as Native Americans principal ancestors are not BoM characters, etc. Then immediately contradict themselves with posts such as this one, with imaginary claims of greater BoM evidence than before.

Anonymous said...

To get back to the original post: Jeff gives the game away when he writes that "Faith is still an essential and merciful ingredient" in evaluating the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

In other words, in 187 years, the apologists haven't really gotten anywhere. Even after all this time, faith is still required. In all this time, they still don't have any evidence that can stand on its own.

That's quite an admission when you think about it.

Compare this to where things stand with the academic study of the Bible. A century ago, belief in the historicity of King David required the same kind of faith that belief in the BoM's King Josiah does today. But such faith is no longer required today. Nowadays we have fairly strong archaeological evidence --- accepted as such by scholars of all faiths and of no faith, published in peer-reviewed academic journals --- that supports the historicity of King David.

After 187 years of searching, do we have anything comparable supporting the historicity of the Book of Mormon?*

No.

Let me repeat for emphasis:

No.

One more time:

No!

After 187 years, no peer review. (Carmack, Stubbs --- we're still waiting....) After all this time, faith is still required. How utterly unlike the study of the Bible. What best explains the difference? The most obvious explanation is that the Bible is ancient and the Book of Mormon is not.

-- OK

* Please, spare me the knee-jerk invocation of Nahom and Bountiful. The broad outlines of Lehi's journey could easily have been inspired by maps extant in 19th-century New England. Which is the more likely explanation: that Joseph (or a colleague like Cowdery) saw such a map? Or that an angel appeared to Joseph, turned him on to a set of gold plates engraved in an unknown tongue and containing stories chock-full of 19th-century theological disputes and 19th-century theories of Indain originas, that the angel then conveniently took the plates away, etc.?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Jeff. I love Clark's presentation. I hope he'll do an updated version it some time soon.

Jack

Jeff Lindsay said...

OK, your inability to deal with the most interesting evidence, draped in a demand that we spare you the "knee-jerk invocation" of such data, is a great demonstration of the knee-jerk reaction of one committed to not seeing evidence.

Faith, by the way, is still required for accepting the Bible as scripture. We can't even prove that the most important structure in the history of the Jews and arguably in the history of the world, the First Temple, actually existed, although the very recent work at Khirbet Qeiyafa provides new support for its reality. But faith remains needed for many of the important claims of the text.

Anonymous said...

We can't even prove that ... the First Temple actually existed....

Yes. But so what? No faith is required to know that the Bible is ancient. The evidence alone suffices. The Bible is demonstrably ancient, without recourse to faith; the Book of Mormon is not. That's the point. (That's also why there's no legitimate academic discipline of "Ancient Book of Mormon Studies.")

-- OK

Anonymous said...

The portion of Clark's speech you have quoted above is remarkable in its vagueness. I'm hoping there was more of his speech that dealt in specifics.

As usual I will share a couple of things that stood out to me as problematic.

1) A laboring king was impossible for Joseph to have created? If I remember my anecdotal history from grade school correctly, after helping win the war of independence, many Americans wanted George Washington to be their king. He of course refused, and became president instead, while still working. In a sense, he was a working king. I would say in Joseph's time, the idea of a working king is a uniquely American one, and one not that out of place considering many of the other nineteenth century American themes grafted on to Book of Mormon characters. Remember that Joseph was creating his own civilization--he needed to explain some of the reasons for known native American practices (scalping, burying the hatchet), but he had a clean slate to integrate new world ideas and ideals with old world, biblical traditions.

2)"The Book of Mormon brims with warfare and nasty people. Until twenty years ago, the book's claims on this matter were pooh-poohed by the famous scholars." Isn't he the one who said Joseph had to rely on the experience of his day? Wasn't it common knowledge in Joseph's day that Indian tribes warred with each other as much or more than they did with the new world settlers? I don't see this as much of a stretch.

3) He discusses the idea of prophesy in the Book of Mormon. Anyone else find it interesting that the prophesies in the Book are oddly specific about known dates for events that would occur within the confines of the story, but extremely vague for anything prophesied to happen outside of the story (excepting the prophecy that Joseph would be the one to translate the book--how could they ever have known that one. . .)?

MuralMama said...

Plausibility has become my buzz word in recent years regarding the Book of Mormon. I've read Ash, Givens, Bushman, and others, and truly, besides faith, plausibility is the most I've come to expect. And that's fine. I read the BoM and the Spirit is there; the very human, very real stories of righteous families struggling with difficult and wayward children, miraculous conversions, spiritual whisperings and heavenly directions, faithless trouble-makers, wars, human frailties, human triumphs, and every last bit of it wrapping around one central character: Jesus the Christ.

I suppose I could put my faith in a greater farce, i.e. any book that makes no claims of divine origin, yet suggests that by following its tenants I will have greater peace... So says the guru who penned it. No, instead I believe I will take the risk of looking like a fool to the doubters and naysayers, to the atheists who only care to mock others, tear others down in order to build themselves up. There is evidence enough, plausibility enough, that despite the very human, very fallible men and women of the church, from Joseph Smith forward, there is way too much good within the pages of the BoM and within the Gospel itself for me to deny it and walk away. I guess we'll know who was right and who was wrong when we get on the other side of the vale. You know, if you believe in that sort of thing...

Mormography said...

Mormanity –

“Faith, by the way, is still required for accepting the Bible as scripture."

Of course, no one argued otherwise. Deflecting to arguments never asserted, you concede those asserted. Namely, faith in the BoM is impossible, however, confirmation bias is required to believe in it.

Huston said...

Hey Jeff, great video link above, but if I may, I think this is the best Book of Mormon evidence video online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ATGGwbll3c&t=2s

Ken Cluff said...

For all of you critics who've posted here... this post is gross generalization if you willl... You do realize don’t you, you suffer from the same confirmation bias you claim believers in the Book of Mormon suffer from? I was about to write a small essay rebutting your assertions, but then I recalled the statement, “for the believer no proof is needed.” As someone who believes the Book of Mormon is a fraudulent work, you need no evidence for it… you know with certainty your position is true. Your confirmation bias will not allow you to accept any evidence to the contrary. You have “faith” in your rational thought processes and have come to what you think is the only possible conclusion. So be it. Enjoy your life.

I admit to having a confirmation bias of sorts. I call it “faith.” You’re quite correct, there are somethings I can’t explain and those I do take on faith. Just as you do for your positions. The difference between you and those of us who believe, is we have asked ourselves and God about these very questions. We’ve prayed. Not only that, we’ve tested it’s claims in our personal day to day lives. The overwhelming evidence in countless small ways is it’s true. It works. Living the book’s principles has made my life meaningful and helped me weather devastating trials and storms. I can attest from hard won experience that no other self-help or history book could help me as the Book of Mormon has.

I was about to ask you to keep your comments to yourself. But in reality, post away. In cases such as this it's a binary problem, there are only two valid views: it’s true or it’s false. Either you're right or I am. There is no common ground in the middle on this question, so just on Pascal’s Wager alone, I’ll take my position over yours any day. Reading your posts helps me keep that resolve fresh.

Mormography said...

Ken -

Funny ... I had a good laugh.

"you suffer from the same confirmation bias you claim believers"

Nope. Mormanity agrees with me. Numerous items, such as, BoM characters are not the principal ancestors and the BoM was not translated with the Urim and Thumin, but rather a confidence trick rock in hat are all now concede.

I agree that there are many transcendental principles in the BoM that are true. This is also true of many works such as the Koran, etc.

But seeing as you insist there is no middle ground, you are a bigger critic than me. I would not call the BoM a fraud the way you do.

Anonymous said...

Ken, I trust that you and Mormography and I would all insist on applying certain secular standards of logic and evidence to claims about, say, the date of composition of Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Suppose some member of the First Church of Hamlet claimed that Shakespeare's famous play was written in 421 AD, and you, Mormography, and I showed this person the voluminous evidence that it was actually written around 1600. Suppose further that, as the debate dragged on, this Hamletian kept failing, failing, failing to produce any solid evidence for his position and finally said, "Well, ultimately the truth of my claim depends on faith. It rests on the witness of the Holy Ghost of Hamlet the King."

I trust you would say, as Mormography and I would, that such a reliance on faith would be inappropriate and, of course, utterly unpersuasive---that in fact it would make us even less likely to be convinced. I trust you would agree with me and Mormography that there's no reason whatsoever for Shakespeare scholars generally to give this kind of thing the time of day.

I trust finally that you would not feel your own judgment in this case was flawed by confirmation bias. I mean, would you really say that your own bias was equivalent to that of the Hamletian?

If not, why would it be any different when the text in question is the Book of Mormon?

You're positing an equivalence were there isn't one. Mormography and I are applying the same standard across the board, whereas you are engaged in special pleading.

-- OK

Mormography said...

OK - Very patient of you to explain it to Ken, however, his initial emotional outburst demonstrates that he already knows he is in the wrong.

MuralMama said...

To you naysayers who seem to do little but tear apart others in your free time, I must ask- Do you even believe in Christ? The Atonement? The Resurrection? Or even the Bible as a book of faith with divine origins? You lob so much vitriol and mockery at the BoM, but do you even consider yourselves Christians, in the big "C" sense?

It seems to me that having faith in God and believing that a man who was of divine parentage, a man who came to die for the sins of the world so that we could all be saved in the Kingdom of God, a man who not only lived and died on this planet (according to Josephus, et al), but also rose from the dead after 3 days, then later ascended into heaven, is a much, much harder sell than the divine origins or historicity of the BoM.

When you add to the list of crazy and amazing things Christians believe based on the Bible (a flood, angels, providence, a talking donkey, a fiery furnace, manna, quail, serpents from above, revelatory dreams, divine deliverance, and Damascus moments), I hardly see Joseph Smith's story to be a bridge to far when it comes to faith.

Anonymous said...

MuralMama, the Bible is a collection of ancient stories, myths, genealogies, poems, etc. It is not divine. Unlike the Book of Mormon, however, the Bible really is ancient. Also unlike the Book of Mormon, the Bible contains some of the world's greatest literature.

I should add that millions of good Christians agree with me about the Bible. Millions of good Christians understand, for example, that there was no literal global flood, no Tower of Babel, no Adam and Eve, etc. These are myths.

There are also, of course, many thousands of good Mormons who understand that the Book of Mormon was written in the 19th century. Literalists like yourself do not have a monopoly on the words "Christian" and "Mormon."

-- OK

Mormography said...

MurualMama –

Again, by deflecting, you are conceding. You have argued: If my religion is wrong then so are all others. There may be some truth to this, but as Ken points out, Mormonism is one of those religions without a middle ground. There many religions that have middle grounds, so Mormonism is not like all other religions.

Your self-contradictory ad-hominem attacks (ex: “do little but tear apart others in your free time” ”You lob so much vitriol and mockery”) have been answered numerous times throughout this blog site. I invite you to use the search engine.

To sum up, it is the Mormon Hypothesis that tears apart others with lobs of vitriol and mockery. The Mormon Hypothesis labels all other religions great and abdominal (BoM), with pastors in the employ of Satan (original temple ceremony), drawing near to God with lips and far with their hearts (JS first vision). Given yours and Ken Cluff’s frustrate and hateful responses here, pretty much sums things up.

You and Ken have convinced me how great the BoM is. If this is the way you two are with the BoM, just imagine what the world would be like if masses of your kind did not have the BoM to temper them.

In this aspect, JS was extremely insightful. The common historical interpretation of JS (see Dan Vogel, et al) is that he did not believe in hell. For JS this would mean everyone was going to heaven, meaning divinity lost the carrot and stick to inspire desirable behavior. Therefore humans needed to be trick into desirable behavior, like all parents have done with their children. Ergo, while the metals sheets JS frabricated one day a year until complete (and dislocated his finger pushing the last D-ring into place), was completely justified by the good fruits the fraud would produce.

Marcus Norton said...

It is a bit of a worthless endevour to argue with critics like Mormography and OK. They aren't interested in the truth. They aren't interested in facts.

The fact of the matter is that Joseph was an uneducated person. The fact is he testified that he had a vision where he saw God the Father and his son Jesus Christ. He testified that he received a book made from Gold from the an angel.

There were witnesses who testified that they lifted and held these plates in their hands and turned the pages. Many of these witnesses left the church but they never denied their witness.

The same Vogel that Mormography liked to reference also said that the witnesses had the equivalent of a "spirital experience" or they only saw the plates with "spiritual eyes" when the witnesses themselves testified repeatedly that they hefted and held the plates in their hands.

Is that a honest accounting of historical events by Vogel? I don't think it is.

vblogger said...

Yet another good summary post, Jeff Lindsay. Too bad time didn't allow a more detailed summary of Old World geography confirmations about the numerous details around the entire Old World Journey, including the land Bountiful, for example, which was on no 18th century maps.

Reading critics accusations of confirmation bias above so blatantly demonstrates their own confirmation bias it's eye-opening to me.

For example, thank you above for the reminder about the claim of Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews as a possible origin for the Book of Mormon. No one has offered any evidence that Joseph accessed this book or referred to it during the translation process--or that Joseph read many books in general or visited any libraries. But, just for fun, I've just reviewed and re-read most of the original full-text of View of the Hebrews.

Its contrast to the Book of Mormon could not be more stark. View of the Hebrews is a theoretical historical analysis of the connection between the 10 lost tribes and the native americans. It includes no prophesy, no ancient chiasmus or poetic parallelism, no doctrine or spiritual teaching, no additional witness of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, focuses primarily all of those things, with a clear and stated purpose to NOT focus on history.

Theoretically, perhaps evidence could be produced, which would contradict numerous statements by 1st-hand witnesses to the translation process, that Joseph actually utilized View of the Hebrews during the translation. If that evidence were available, after we accounted for its' contradiction to the 1st hand witness statements, then we might generously give View of the Hebrews credit for maybe 1% of the ideas, and 0% of the actual words or language of the Book of Mormon.

From what I can find, not one sentence from View of the Hebrews matches one sentence from the Book of Mormon.

For a critic to see View of the Hebrews as a primary source of the Book of Mormon, they must ignore at least 99% of the Book of Mormon that includes entirely new content. And they must ignore all the witnesses directly involved in the translation who made hundreds of statements, none of which mention Joseph referring to no other maps, books, or other sources, and all of which mention the ancient plates or the power of God. Finally, they still must come up with some other explanation for the other 99.9% of the Book of Mormon.

Ask any real live author how far a general plot idea, with no actual language, gets them towards writing a real book. Ideas are everywhere and almost useless in creating great literature. At most Joseph Smith could have gained from the View of the Hebrews the idea that Native Americans originate from the lost 10 tribes and that eventually they will be restored. Hardly a novel idea.

Talk about confirmation bias!

Anonymous said...

Marcus, it is indeed a fact that Joseph Smith said a bunch of stuff. Doesn't make that stuff true. Lots of people say stuff.

It's also a fact that lots of other people in Joseph's day said they had visions. You've chosen to believe one of these people, and not others. Just one out of many. About all those others, you're as much of a skeptic as I am. About every religion but one. But you have no more warrant for following Smith than others have for following Mary Baker Eddy.

Facts, facts, facts. It's a fact that lots of other people back then followed other self-proclaimed prophets. In the Burned Over District, there seems to have been more than the usual number of gullible people. It's perfectly reasonable for me to believe the eleven witnesses to have been among those gullible people. What I don't understand is why you would put any stock in their statements. Given the way so many of them are on record of speaking later about seeing things with "spiritual eyes" and the like, their testimony wouldn't have held up for one minute under a competent cross-examination.

But really the point I'd like to make here is that Mormography and I are not the only ones who reject the historicity of the Book of Mormon. We're among the few who actively express that rejection and explain the reasoning behind it, but 99 percent of humanity agrees with us. So it's a bit disingenuous of you to reduce your opposition to "critics like Mormography and OK," when what you really mean is "the vast majority of humankind---everyone who is not a Mormon literalist."

What you're essentially arguing is that everyone except you and your fellow literalists is wrong, that all of us non-Mormons are prejudiced, blinded by irrational bias, incapable of evaluating evidence, tools of Satan, etc. We're all fools, and only you and your fellows can see the truth. Riiiiight.

Also, that whole bit about how bit about how "Joseph was an uneducated person" is silly. He was the son of a teacher. He was a reader. He was talking with people like Cowdery and Rigdon. He was quite familiar with the Bible.* The comparatively low level of sophistication of the Book of Mormon seems about what one would expect.

The overarching fact is that smart people who do not already happen to be Mormon do not find Mormon evidences very impressive. And it's not because we're all blinded by prejudice. Sorry.

-- OK

* One of the dumber statements of FAIR's was that Joseph was not known to have owned a Bible, as if a family Bible owned by his parents would not have been sufficient access.

everything before us said...

Ask any real live author how far a general plot idea, with no actual language, gets them towards writing a real book. Ideas are everywhere and almost useless in creating great literature.

Actually, just ask Shakespeare, who stole his "general plot ideas" for Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear, etc, etc, etc, from pre-existing sources. Unless, of course, you don't consider Shakespeare to be "great literature."

Anonymous said...

Shakespeare, of course, is great literature. The Book of Mormon is not.

-- OK

Unknown said...

You quoted the historic proof of David- do you deny the supernatural claims associated with David, or just the Book of Mormon

Mormography said...

Marcus -

"It is a bit of a worthless endevour to argue with critics like Mormography and OK. They aren't interested in the truth. They aren't interested in facts."

When you make comments like that you display how hateful religion is. The only fact in your list you and I disagree with, is the Vogel item. Yes, Vogel, like the LDS Church, says the some of the witnesses of the plates only saw with spiritual eyes. Vogel also acknowledges some of the witnesses hefted the plates and heard the metal rustle under a cloth. So, the one item you disagreed with, you were actually the one that had the facts wrong.

Marcus Norton said...

@OK

"It's also a fact that lots of other people in Joseph's day said they had visions."

Yes..I am aware of this.

"We're among the few who actively express that rejection and explain the reasoning behind it, but 99 percent of humanity agrees with us."

LOL. Nice random statistic that most likely has no actually evidence behind it.

"What you're essentially arguing is that everyone except you and your fellow literalists is wrong, that all of us non-Mormons are prejudiced, blinded by irrational bias, incapable of evaluating evidence, tools of Satan, etc. We're all fools, and only you and your fellows can see the truth. Riiiiight."

No not really not all just you and Mormography. I didn't add in all the ad hominem attacks you did.

@Mormography..

"When you make comments like that you display how hateful religion is."

No not really. I was just pointing out the fact that it is useless to argue with people like yourself that aren't willing to be reasonable.

And no I didn't have the facts wrong. Vogel has basically tried to redefine the experiences of the witnesses as simply spiritual experiences.

Here's some examples of Vogel minimizing the witnesses statements of actually handling the plates...

"Vogel’s approach to the Eight Witnesses matches Palmer’s, though with more detailed speculation. He starts with flat disbelief: “There is simply no reliable proof for the existence of the supernatural.”[14] Reading Vogel on the Book of Mormon witnesses, therefore, is tracking a conclusion in search of evidence. In his writing, no witness saw a divine vision or examined an authentic ancient artifact. In explaining the experience of the Eight Witnesses, Vogel uses little material from these men, though he has collected most of their published testimonies. In all his explanations, the Eight Witnesses saw the plates only through imagination, what he calls a “visionary” experience."

"Vogel broadly equates the experience of the Eight Witnesses with that of the Three Witnesses, who he thinks describe an event of a “subjective nature” that fits “the illusion of a group hallucination.”[20] Thus “the experiences of the eight men were apparently visionary in nature, similar to the experiences of the three witnesses.”[21]"

"The Eight Witnesses left 10 specific statements of handling the plates: the above 4 from Samuel and Hyrum and 6 among the John Whitmer reports.[48] Vogel quotes 8 of the 10 handling statements and adds the disturbing comment “As can be seen, except for Poulson’s late interview with John Whitmer, specific declarations by the witnesses about handling the plates are few and vague.”[49]

"Subjective interpreters seek to replace a material event with a psychic event, and they minimize how much the Eight Witnesses said about examining the plates. Vogel generalizes: “Individual statements by the eight witnesses are rare due largely to their early deaths.”[63] This statement prefaces the listing of two group testimonies and 17 times when one of the Eight Witnesses explained or validated his published testimony or when family members said he was always faithful to it. Thus rare is inaccurate, especially since this source scholar has added six John Whitmer interviews to the above inventory."


MuralMama said...

OK, thank you. You gave the the answer I was seeking. So you are not a believer, at all. Got it. Just trying to understand the foundation of your argumentation. And of course, we are all entitled to our own opinions, i.e. what we think we know. Yipee for other Mormons and mainstream Christians who believe what they believe, though it may be different from my own beliefs. Good for them. Doesn't make them right and me wrong. Lots and lots of things we'll probably never know in this earth life. Lots of things require scholarship and faith, starting with the very existence of God himself. I'll lean to the "yes" side and allow you the freedom to believe differently.

Mormography, you are an idiot. Sorry, your post had my eyes rolling to the back of my head. Conceding? Nay. Deflecting? Not even. I was seeking understanding, background. OK took care of it for, so no worries. However, your snotty and condescending reply had nothing to do with my questions or comments.

I don't read Jeff's blog regularly, so you'll excuse my ignorance of the lofty ideas you have enlightened us all with in previous posts. I actually don't spend my days at the computer looking for ways to be ugly and critical of others' beliefs, or even spend time espousing my own. I try to be out doing good in the world. You might try that. It will do you & those around you much...good.

Understand, I am sure enough in my faith and in the mysteries of this world that I'm really not all that concerned about what you think... I mean believe... I mean know beyond a shadow of a doubt. If that makes me gullible rube, so be it.

Mormography said...

vblogger -

What critic pointing out confirmation bias above stated View of the Hebrews was a possible origin for the BoM? What is usually stated with View of the Hebrews is remarkable parallels to the BoM premise, ergo the BoM was typical for the time period.

“Reading critics accusations of confirmation bias above so blatantly demonstrates their own confirmation bias” How? Are you denying that View of the Hebrews demonstrates wandering Romans, Israelites, and Atlanteans ideas did not exist at the time of the BoM?

Mormography said...

Marcus Norton –

“And no I didn't have the facts wrong. Vogel has basically tried to redefine the experiences of the witnesses as simply spiritual experiences.” I never argued otherwise. You in fact argued Vogel denies witnesses hefted something. Vogel does not deny this. Sorry you are having difficulty communicating.

“useless to argue with people like yourself that aren't willing to be reasonable.”

Your inability to refute me does make me unreasonable. Care to back up your claim that I am being unreasonable? Or was that just another ad hominem?

Mormography said...

MurualMama –

Please enlighten all of us now how your new found understanding and background has change anything. But of course, your claimed search for understanding and background was immediately contradicted by your follow on comments. But yes, you are right. Mormanity should try to be more like you.

Marcus Norton said...

Mormography..

"You in fact argued Vogel denies witnesses hefted something. Vogel does not deny this. Sorry you are having difficulty communicating."

Sorry you are having difficulty reading. Never argued that Vogel didnt mention anything you said.

My argument was that Vogel argues that the witnesses experience was more of just a spiritual experience rather than an actual event as the quotes I provided suggested.

The witnesses statements themselves suggest that it was more than just a "spiritual" experience as Vogel would have us believe.

vblogger said...

Mormography--

OK above mentions View of the Hebrews.

Can you point to one phrase or sentence that appears in both books?

As I said, a couple of general ideas are pretty useless when composing a book.

Mormography said...

Marcus Norton -

You are correct, I have difficulty reading minds. You are also correct in asserting that to a simpleton 21st century mind the statements by themselves suggest more. It appears you and Vogel agree with each other. How reasonable.

Nice you to see you could not back up your claim that I was being unreasonable.

Mormography said...

vblogger -

Wow. You deny that wandering Romans, Israelites, and Atlanteans ideas did not exist at the time of the BoM production. Of course confirmation bias has nothing to with that! Sighh ...

Jeff Lindsay said...

OK said "One of the dumber statements of FAIR's was that Joseph was not known to have owned a Bible, as if a family Bible owned by his parents would not have been sufficient access."

But the translation work was not done near his parents' home. It was done in Harmony township, not the current Harmony PA. This was an information vacuum, far from libraries and book stores. Many witnesses of the translation process attest that he had no books or notes to use. It was an amazing process of steady oral dictation that is confirmed by detailed analysis of the manuscripts. And as he finished that work, one of the first things he did was to buy a Bible in order to begin his inspired "translation" of Genesis and other parts of the Bible, soon leading to our current Book of Moses. The lack of a Bible in his possession and in his hands during the translation is relevant data. The testimony of LDS and non-LDS witnesses of his translation work is relevant data, as is the statements and behavior of numerous witnesses of the plates. The textual evidence we can extract from the original manuscript, the printer!s nanuscripr, and the body of the text in general all provide surprising evidence relevant to the origins of the Book of Mormon that challenge easy theories of a clumsy fraud.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, the context of my remark about the parents' Bible was Joseph's education, not the BoM translation. But it's not hard to imagine a Bible being available during the translation as well. We're talking about the single most widely available book of the time.

Also, of course, witness accounts of the translation process can only tell us so much about the sources Joseph might have used. He wasn't being watched 24/7, after all.

-- OK

Leo Winegar said...

@OK, two questions...

First, do you know any non-LDS academics with an expertise in both Mesoamerican studies and the BOM? Demanding peer review without this unique scholarly combination seems like a stretch. But, perhaps I'm mistaken, and you can point us to a few peer reviewed articles solidifying the truth claims of any religion, done by non-religious academics? In other words, does your assertion that a lack of non-LDS peer reviews necessarily demonstrate incompetence within LDS scholarship, or that the BOM is fiction? If so, why? Oh, and I'm not really looking for the "legitimate scholars don't want to waste their time researching a farce like the BOM" answer. Maybe it's because BOM research is cutting edge and we're just too cool for mainstream science? I'm guessing that's your answer, but I'll wait to see.

Second, primary source documents argue that the BOM was produced at a staggering rate. Let's say you're correct, and that Joseph dictated this "work of fiction" from a pre-determined text. How do you suggest he did this? Did he place a small candle into his hat for light? Before retiring to bed each night, did he spend a few hours memorizing 7-8 pages of text? Did he take small breaks, to cheat-sheet-sneak-peak? Perhaps he was inspired by the Devil to create "another testament", which would eventually inspire millions of people to spend their entire lives doing good? Perhaps Joseph was the savant of all savants, and made it up on the spot? Exactly how do you propose we prop Joseph up to account for Alma 36? How about the if/and conditional sentences? How about the many Hebraisms and other bullseyes that Joseph somehow guessed right? Perhaps you are full-aware of these many coincidences, yet still muster the heroic energy to spend most of your waking hours telling Mormons how brainwashed we are? Man, that sounds like a pretty sweet gig. #lotsoffun #afulfillinglife

I look forward to your response.

Anonymous said...

Leo,

Why would one need to be an expert in BoM studies to be able to tell if it was hooey? Does it take a hooey expert to be able to identify hooey?

Also, 4-5 years isn't a staggering rate for the amount of text produced. There was plenty of preparation (as Lucy Smith explained) before the actual production of the BoM manuscript.

Jeff,

I wonder if Emma's parents had a Bible in the house in Harmony? What about the neighbors? I guess it would be hard to come across a copy since it was such an unknown and unpopular book.

Think on all of the early conversion stories from the church of people borrowing the BoM from someone. My guess is that book borrowing was a pretty common practice.

Leo Winegar said...

@OK, you haven't answered any of my questions. Here, let me copy them again for you, just in case you missed them:

First, do you know any non-LDS academics with an expertise in both Mesoamerican studies and the BOM? Demanding peer review without this unique scholarly combination seems like a stretch. But, perhaps I'm mistaken, and you can point us to a few peer reviewed articles solidifying the truth claims of any religion, done by non-religious academics? In other words, does your assertion that a lack of non-LDS peer reviews necessarily demonstrate incompetence within LDS scholarship, or that the BOM is fiction? If so, why? Oh, and I'm not really looking for the "legitimate scholars don't want to waste their time researching a farce like the BOM" answer. Maybe it's because BOM research is cutting edge and we're just too cool for mainstream science? I'm guessing that's your answer, but I'll wait to see.

Second, primary source documents argue that the BOM was produced at a staggering rate. Let's say you're correct, and that Joseph dictated this "work of fiction" from a pre-determined text. How do you suggest he did this? Did he place a small candle into his hat for light? Before retiring to bed each night, did he spend a few hours memorizing 7-8 pages of text? Did he take small breaks, to cheat-sheet-sneak-peak? Perhaps he was inspired by the Devil to create "another testament", which would eventually inspire millions of people to spend their entire lives doing good? Perhaps Joseph was the savant of all savants, and made it up on the spot? Exactly how do you propose we prop Joseph up to account for Alma 36? How about the if/and conditional sentences? How about the many Hebraisms and other bullseyes that Joseph somehow guessed right? Perhaps you are full-aware of these many coincidences, yet still muster the heroic energy to spend most of your waking hours telling Mormons how brainwashed we are?

Marcus Norton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcus Norton said...

I apologize that I wasnt as clear as I could've been in what I was trying to say.

Have a good day.

Mormography said...

Marcus Norton -

You obvious are not understanding Vogel, Quinn, Bushman, and Van Wagoner, which is exactly the point regarding confirmation bias. These historians accuse the LDS Church of “taking personal experiences of someone else and trying to turn them into something else”. Bushman and Van Wagoner have not been excommunicated for doing what historians do, provide the correct context to historical figures personal experiences.

Our exercise here demonstrates the original assertion of confirmation bias.

Mormography said...

Leo Winegar –

Your questions were answered. Your insistence that they were not is yet another example of confirmation bias. Additionally, you falsely claim several assertions OK never made. If you truly wish to understand, you need to open your mind with a softened heart.

Marcus Norton said...

Also...I apologize for suggesting you were being unreasonable.

Marcus Norton said...

No I understand vogel I just don't agree with him.

I don't know why you include Bushman with vogel though.

No simply disagreeing doesn't demonstrate confirmation bias.

Show me examples where Bushman does what you just said.

Leo Winegar said...

@Mormography, can you explain how OK answered my questions? I'm honestly confused. Can you clarify how I falsely claimed several assertions that OK never made? Are you sincerely asking, with real intent, for me to open my mind with a softened heart?

Jeff Lindsay said...

The scribes Joseph used watched every word he dictated. They would have known if he was cheating, using a Bible, working with manuscripts, making major revisions, heading to the library to get info for a verse or two, etc. There is no hint of any of the things we would expect if this was anything besides what it is reported to be: a man on his own dictating text to scribes. It's a miraculous process to begin with, from the viewings of the plates to each page of dictation. It was produced in 3 months, with about 65 days of dictation.

Through this, he managed to give us a text RICH in Hebraic word plays years before he studied Hebrew. He gave us a text where geographical references involving "up" and "down" in Israel correspond accurately with the actual topography of the territory in ever case. He gave us amazing little details along Lehi's trail that were laughable until just a few years ago when, oops, it turns out there is an excellent candidate for that "non-existent" River Laman in a plausible, accessible place consistent with the text, and there is a remarkably plausible candidate for that impossible, non-existent Bountiful that Ph.D.s from Ivy League schools have ridiculed because such a place obviously would attract tons of people and could not be uninhabited, when in fact a brilliant candidate exists in exactly the right place relative the archaeologically confirmed Nahom/Nihm territory and is uninhabited to this day due to its inaccessibility, unless one comes from nearly due West as Nephi did and enters via the 25-mile long wadi that brings you to that miraculous place.

These once loudly ridiculed, unguessable details are now dismissed with a wave of OK's hand as something Joseph could easily have obtained from a map, with no effort to show how any map could have resulted in the surprising details we have. There are a few rare maps showing the place name Nehhem or Nehm on them, a tiny spot among dozens of place names, but none of these maps have been shown to have been any closer than a couple hundred miles to Joseph. They are rare, expensive things that weren't the kind of thing farm boys perused. Those maps had tons of names and many details that were ignored. How is it that Joseph managed to pluck only one obscure name of that map and have the good luck that the name would be confirmed by 3 archaeological specimens to have been an ancient name in that region in Lehi's day, and be in exactly the right place for the difficult but possible eastward turn that would lead directly to Bountiful? This doesn't count as potential evidence? This is something that Joseph just did with one glance at a map? This is an amazing story, the story of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Map.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Some of the Arabian evidence is discussed in more detail in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Map. Hope you'll take a look at that 2-part series. Also see Book of Mormon Evidences.

Anonymous said...

The scribes Joseph used watched every word he dictated. They would have known if he was cheating, using a Bible, working with manuscripts, making major revisions, heading to the library to get info for a verse or two, etc.

That's not what the church says:

"Explain that when Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he said the words out loud, and his scribe wrote the words down. Sometimes Joseph and the scribe were separated by a divider and could not see each other.

Put a divider in the middle of a classroom table or the floor (for example, two children could hold a small blanket or sheet or a large piece of heavy paper). Have a child sit on one side of the divider and slowly read a short verse from the Book of Mormon while a child sitting on the other side of the divider writes down what is being read. Then have the scribe read what he or she wrote so the child reading the scripture can be sure it was written correctly. (You may want to have more than one scribe so all children who want to participate can do so.)"

"Joseph placed either the interpreters or the seer stone in a hat, pressed his face into the hat to block out extraneous light, and read aloud the English words that appeared on the instrument."

The scribes wrote every word he dictated. For the most part, they didn't observe the way in which they were produced. My theory is that he didn't have one approach to producing the text. Some was from memory and some was written down. Also, it wasn't produced in one sitting--time for forays, etc.

Leo Winegar said...

@Anonymous, you are quoting from a primary manual to establish your theory? Sounds like solid historiography to me. Here's what Elder Maxwell said in 1997:

With regard to the physical circumstances of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his scribe, Martin Harris was quoted as saying there was a blanket or curtain hung between himself and Joseph during the translation process. If Martin is accurately quoted, perhaps this occurred when the Prophet was copying characters directly from the plates in the sample to be taken to Professor Charles Anthon, since the dates mentioned are several months before Martin Harris’s brief scribal duties began. I say this because although David Whitmer mentions a blanket being used—it was only to partition off the living area in order to keep both the translator and scribe from the eyes of visitors (see David Whitmer Interviews: A Restoration Witness, ed. Lyndon W. Cook, [1991], 173).

In fact, Elizabeth Anne Whitmer Cowdery, Oliver’s wife, said, “Joseph never had a curtain drawn between him and his scribe” (quoted in John W. Welch and Tim Rathbone, “The Translation of the Book of Mormon: Basic Historical Information,” F.A.R.M.S. report WRR–86, p. 25). Emma likewise said of her days as scribe, early on, that Joseph dictated “hour after hour with nothing between us” (“Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” 289)

Perhaps we could have a little chat about primary sources, and proper historiography? It would be a shame for you spend your entire life in the spin-zone, and never really understand what you're talking about.

Leo Winegar said...

@OK, I'm patiently waiting for you to defend your position that the Church of Jesus Christ needs peer review to establish our truth claims. Are there other religious institutions that have used this approach? Please enlighten us.

I'm also interested to see your evidence for a "4-5 year" timeline. If you're suggesting that Joseph's conversations with Moroni need to fit within a neat little box, and that their dialogue was limited to treasure seeking, I'm all ears.

In your upstanding response, could you be a dear and provide proper sourcing? Most of us here are beyond the spin. Thanks!

BTW, here are my original questions in case you missed them:

First, do you know any non-LDS academics with an expertise in both Mesoamerican studies and the BOM? Demanding peer review without this unique scholarly combination seems like a stretch. But, perhaps I'm mistaken, and you can point us to a few peer reviewed articles solidifying the truth claims of any religion, done by non-religious academics? In other words, does your assertion that a lack of non-LDS peer reviews necessarily demonstrate incompetence within LDS scholarship, or that the BOM is fiction? If so, why? Oh, and I'm not really looking for the "legitimate scholars don't want to waste their time researching a farce like the BOM" answer. Maybe it's because BOM research is cutting edge and we're just too cool for mainstream science? I'm guessing that's your answer, but I'll wait to see.

Second, primary source documents argue that the BOM was produced at a staggering rate. Let's say you're correct, and that Joseph dictated this "work of fiction" from a pre-determined text. How do you suggest he did this? Did he place a small candle into his hat for light? Before retiring to bed each night, did he spend a few hours memorizing 7-8 pages of text? Did he take small breaks, to cheat-sheet-sneak-peak? Perhaps he was inspired by the Devil to create "another testament", which would eventually inspire millions of people to spend their entire lives doing good? Perhaps Joseph was the savant of all savants, and made it up on the spot? Exactly how do you propose we prop Joseph up to account for Alma 36? How about the if/and conditional sentences? How about the many Hebraisms and other bullseyes that Joseph somehow guessed right? Perhaps you are full-aware of these many coincidences, yet still muster the heroic energy to spend most of your waking hours telling Mormons how brainwashed we are?

Anonymous said...

Leo Winegar writes above that he has "two questions" for me, and then proceeds to ask me 15 questions. That's a funny way of counting, but whatever. Then he waits all of an hour and 12 minutes and lets us know how impatient he is for my response. Just a heads-up, Leo---people do sleep. Chill.

Anyway, here goes. I'll try to address both Leo's questions and his claims.

First, do you know any non-LDS academics with an expertise in both Mesoamerican studies and the BOM?

No, but so what?

Demanding peer review without this unique scholarly combination seems like a stretch.

No, it's not a stretch at all. Leo is giving us another example of LDS special pleading. If an archaeologist were actually to find an ancient artifact with Hebrew or Egyptian lettering, or an ancient steel sword, or horse bones from 200 A.D., or whatever, they could write up their findings and get it past peer review with no problem whatsoever---as long as the find was legit. There would be no need for these peer-reviewers to have any expertise in the BoM in order to evaluate such findings. And contrary to paranoid assertions that have been made here in the past, such findings would not be blocked by secular peer-reviewers who would say to themselves, "Whoa---these results look good, by gum! These letters really are Hebrew! But they vindicate that crazy Book of Mormon, so we'd better squelch them."

I see quite plainly what you're doing here, Leo. You're offering yet another excuse for the utter failure of BoM apologists to prove their case in secular academia. You're suggesting that they can't pass peer review because the kinds of peer reviewers needed (those with a rare combination of archaeological and BoM expertise) do not exist. Well, excuses are not the same as evidence.

But, perhaps I'm mistaken, and you can point us to a few peer reviewed articles solidifying the truth claims of any religion, done by non-religious academics? In other words, does your assertion that a lack of non-LDS peer reviews necessarily demonstrate incompetence within LDS scholarship, or that the BOM is fiction?

No, the absence of peer-reviewed research does not indicate that the BoM is fiction. Other evidence (abundant other evidence) demonstrates that the BoM is fiction. What the lack of peer review demonstrates is the weakness of FAIR-style and Jeff Lindsay style LDS apologetics.

And yes, I can "point ... to a few peer reviewed articles solidifying the truth claims of any religion, done by non-religious academics." Actually, Jeff has already done this for us. That the biblical King David really existed and ruled over a kingdom, that there was a First Temple, etc.---these are all religious claims that have been supported by secular research published in peer-reviewed journals.

There are also, of course, religious claims that have been disproved by secular research published in peer-reviewed journals. This is what happened to the Church's longstanding religious claim that Native Americans as a whole are the descendants of the Nephites. It was an ocean of secular, peer-reviewed DNA research that led the Church to change its claim that the Lamanites were the "principle ancestors" of Native Americans to "among the ancestors."

Also, of course, the general thrust of astronomy, cosmology, geology, linguistics, etc., as developed in thousands of peer-reviewed articles, disprove any number of other religious claims, such as the Genesis creation account, God's dispersion of peoples and languages at the Tower of Babel, the global Noachic flood, etc., etc.

This battle between science and religion has been rather prominent for a couple of centuries now, Leo---where have you been? Have you been paying attention? Are you starting to see how silly your questions are?

Do you want me to go on?

-- OK

Leo Winegar said...

@OK, you mean horse bones like this?:
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-centuries-old-bones-of-horses-unearthed-in-2005jul17-story.html

Leo Winegar said...

@OK, or like this?

A January 2012 publication describes progress in DNA analyses of horses which promises to open new avenues for this research:

“In recent years, many scholars have embraced the hypothesis that the Botai or other inhabitants of the Eurasian Steppes became the first people to tame the wild horse, Equus ferus, between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago. This theory implies that horses were domesticated in a similar manner to other modern livestock, such as cattle, sheep and goats, said Alessandro Achilli, a geneticist at the University of Pavia in Italy. DNA analyses have revealed little genetic variation among these animals, suggesting that they descended from a small group of ancestors tamed in just a few places, he explained.
“But when Achilli and a team of fellow researchers collected maternally inherited mitochondrial genomes from living horses in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas, a strikingly different picture emerged. “We found a high number of different lineages that we were able to identify—at least 18,” said Achilli, a co-author of a paper outlining the findings in the January 30 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences….
“Why would disparate groups in far-flung corners of the globe hatch similar schemes to forge partnerships with their equine neighbors? “The very fact that many wild mares were independently domesticated in different places testifies to how significant horses have been to humankind,” Achilli said….
“The latest findings have the potential to open new avenues for further research into horses both modern and ancient, Achilli said. “Now that a large number of horse lineages have been defined, they could be easily employed not only to analyze other modern breeds, including thoroughbreds, but also to classify ancient remains,” he explained. – http://www.history.com/news/2012/01/30/ … udy-shows/

Source: http://thewildhorseconspiracy.org/2013/07/02/exciting-article-about-by-phd-steven-jones-re-more-recent-surviving-native-horse-in-north-america/

Anonymous said...

Leo, are you serious? Researchers find a horse skeleton dating back to "sometime between 1625 and 1705"? That's a century, or nearly two centuries, after Spaniards brought horses to the New World. It says nothing whatsoever of the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

I've been through this one before. As everyone knows, horses occasionally to escape captivity. They roam. It's not that far from Spanish Mexico up into southern California. To take this finding as evidence for the Book of Mormon is ludicrous.

-- OK

Anonymous said...

Leo, I chased down some of your citations. Pitiful stuff. One of them is an unusable URL ((it contains an ellipsis). Another is to a crank post that links to a crank magazine.

Exactly one of your citations appears to be a peer-reviewed journal article, and it tells us that "[t]he range of dates suggested" by carbon-dating the horse skeleton "is either A.D. 1426-1481 (one standard deviation) or A.D. 1400-1633 (two standard deviations)."

In other words, the horse remains could well date back to the early 1600s. According to the same article, this is about the same time that the Plains Indians obtained horses from the Spanish.

This is the best you can come up with? The best you can do? Ya got nothin'.

-- OK

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps we could have a little chat about primary sources, and proper historiography? It would be a shame for you spend your entire life in the spin-zone, and never really understand what you're talking about."

An official church publication is a "spin zone"? Wow. It may not be what actually happened, but it's what the church says happened.

Anonymous said...

OK, huh?
https://academic.oup.com/jmammal/article-abstract/38/2/278/934315/Pre-Columbian-Horses-from-Yucatan?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Anonymous said...

"I'm also interested to see your evidence for a "4-5 year" timeline. If you're suggesting that Joseph's conversations with Moroni need to fit within a neat little box, and that their dialogue was limited to treasure seeking, I'm all ears.

In your upstanding response, could you be a dear and provide proper sourcing? Most of us here are beyond the spin. Thanks!"

Leo,

Ok didn't write that response, I did. Another errant assumption by you. I've posted it more than once, but since you're not in the know, here's your official church publication complete with a url if you care to peruse it (emphasis added by me):

Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, wrote that after the first visits of Moroni, “Joseph continued to receive instructions from the Lord, and we continued to get the children together every evening for the purpose of listening while he gave us a relation of the same. … During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode [method] of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them” (Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, pp. 82–83)"

https://www.lds.org/manual/primary-5-doctrine-and-covenants-and-church-history/lesson-4-joseph-smith-prepares-to-receive-the-gold-plates?lang=eng

First visit of Moroni Sept. 21, 1823. JS received the plates Sept. 22, 1827 and commenced translation sometime after that (likely Dec 1827). Translation begins in earnest with Cowdery as scribe Apr. 7, 1829.

https://history.lds.org/timeline/palmyra-fayette-harmony?lang=eng

See how the book wasn't created in one sitting and not in a vacuum as many would have you infer by their statements?

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:06 directed me to this article. That link takes you to an abstract, but the full thing can be viewed here.

So, what's this article, "Pre-Columbian Horses from Yucatan," all about? Not much, I'm afraid.

The entire article is less than a full page. It's basically a note from 1956 from a researcher at the Museum of Comparative Zoology in Cambridge, Mass. about a few horse remains found in Yucatan.

One set of remains was identified as Equus occidentalis, one of the New World Pleistocene-era species thought to have gone extinct thousands of years ago.

A second set of remains was identified as Equus conversidens, another Pleistocene-era species.

The only thing that makes these remarkable is their lack of fossilization and their location among potsherds, both of which suggest they are more recent than one would expect. Even the author, however, sees them as being pre-Mayan, which also means pre-Book of Mormon.

The third set of remains consists of three teeth, considerably mineralized, species unknown, but again considered pre-Mayan.

That's it. Note that neither of the two identified species would be the species brought over by the Nephites from the Old World. Sorry.

The author concludes: "It is by no means implied that horses were known to the Mayans, but it seems likely that horses were present on the Yucatan Peninsula in pre-Mayan time." How much earlier than the Mayans? The author doesn't say. How reliable is this brief article? I have no idea. As I said, it's basically just a note; I doubt that the actual findings were peer-reviewed or that anyone ever bothered to try to replicate them. The article is now 60 years old and seems to have had no impact at all on subsequent Equus research.

Again, if that's all you've got, ya got nothin'.

-- OK

Mormography said...

Marcus Norton –
“No I understand vogel I just don't agree with him.””No simply disagreeing doesn't demonstrate confirmation bias.”

Obviously, everyone understood you do not agree with Vogel. Not agreeing with Vogel is extremely different than saying he got his facts wrong. The confirmation bias is in parroting facts no disagrees with while conveniently forgetting facts you do not favor.

“I don't know why you include Bushman with vogel though.””Show me examples where Bushman does what you just said.”

We could go back and forth for years, is it not best to focus on common ground? You agree that Van Wagoner demonstrates that despite detail records following Young’s famous speech, no mention of the miracle exists. Despite dry pavement throughout the city, clouds in sky must mean it is raining. Confirmation bias. Mormanity dismisses Wagoner because he loves his grandparents. An open omission to a lack of objectivity, validating the assertion of confirmation bias. Bushman agrees Smith was hired as a glass looker indicating the historical context, etc.

Mormography said...

Leo Winegar -
”can you explain how OK answered my questions?”

Yes.

”I'm honestly confused.”

If you honestly desire understanding, you might ask yourself, what is it about your behavior that makes people not take you seriously.

”Can you clarify how I falsely claimed several assertions that OK never made?”

Yes

”Are you sincerely asking, with real intent, for me to open my mind with a softened heart?”

I never asked you to do that. I my understanding does not depend on your desire to understand.

Leo Winegar said...

Well, there are a few anonymous critics here, so difficult to know who is actually who, but I'll finish my comments by saying this. I can't be honest with myself and declare the evidence that supports LDS truth claims as amounting to "nothin". I've carefully studied the history, and there is definitely something divine happening there. Joseph wasn't a savant, he was a day-laborer. And yes, I'm a man of faith, which gives critics room to characterize me as a walking confirmation bias, but I have studied enough from both camps to feel comfortable with my approach. Greater historical clarity is definitely on the horizon, as demonstrated by this article by Jeff, and props to him for putting it out there. Hugh Nibley wasn't a joke, and the slow-growing hill of pro-LDS evidence can't be so easily brushed aside...no matter how eloquent or aggressive the critic. Also, the philosophical arguments for God's existence as developed by C.S. Lewis, William Lane Craig, and others speak strongly to me. As I have studied the events surrounding the translation process, I can clearly see valid arguments for and against divinity. But, thankfully, the personal spiritual evidence I have gathered tips the scale. Here's the bottom line: There is not a "smoking gun" that disproves Mormonism. The so-called irrefutable preponderance of evidence (for or against) is nothing more than a mirage, and God designed it to be that way. Faith, backed by as much scientific evidence as possible, is my way forward, and I am supremely happy because of it.

Mormography said...

The astute and historians alike observe an underlining belief of Mormonism. People need to be tricked into desirable behavior. For some, there may be a significant amount of truth to this belief.

What we see above are fear and anger. Fear if the latest trick of confirmation bias is discovered, it will cease to work. Anger towards those who do not need to be tricked into desirable behavior or dare challenge the group’s power to decide what desirable behavior is.

Leo Winegar said...

@Mormography, that verbiage is full of holes, generalization, and you should know better. Even a meta-analysis of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies couldn't prove what you are claiming. People join the church for raw, unencumbered reasons, like the woman who reads the Book of Mormon on her own, and without any direct contact with church members, knows by the Holy Spirit the book is from God. This type of phenomena is something you can't explain away with numbers. The conviction among our core membership is so ironclad, that no amount of blasts on the internet will stop our growth. The fringe is affected, yes, but those effects are minimal and are experienced by other faiths on a global level. Agnosticism will never win outright, no matter fervently you preach. It's a losing cause, and I'm embarrassed/saddened by how critics like you waste your time. Neither fear nor anger motivate me, or millions like me. That's pure rubbish.

Mormography said...

“@Mormography, that verbiage is full of holes, generalization, and you should know better. Even a meta-analysis of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies couldn't prove what you are claiming.”

A generalization? Obviously yes. Unprovable? Maybe. However, there are many undisputed assertions to ground the assessment. Mormon’s agree that 99.99% of the planet thinks the metal plates were a trickster’s device. Mormon’s agree the Voree Plates are a clever deception. Mormon’s agree JS’s metals plates had nothing to do with the production of the BoM, the plates exist only as a confidence device. The list could go on and on, the holes you chose to see must do with the medium we are using.

”People join the church for raw, unencumbered reasons, like the woman who reads the Book of Mormon on her own, and without any direct contact with church members, knows by the Holy Spirit the book is from God. This type of phenomena is something you can't explain away with numbers. The conviction among our core membership is so ironclad, that no amount of blasts on the internet will stop our growth. The fringe is affected, yes, but those effects are minimal and are experienced by other faiths on a global level. Agnosticism will never win outright, no matter fervently you preach.”

In the paragraph above we could substitute BoM with Watchtower/Koran/Herbalife/etc and see the same statement. My posts throughout Mormanity demonstrates I agree for the most part. 2001 and Space Odyssey picks up on humanity’s abstract adoption of the evolutionary process. As every new generation imprints the prior’s operating system, the new generation feels only a generic urge to not deviate too much unless environmental circumstances necessitate radical change. Even with these subtle changes, after 187 years the religion has change dramatically.

”It's a losing cause, and I'm embarrassed/saddened by how critics like you waste your time. Neither fear nor anger motivate me, or millions like me. That's pure rubbish.”

No kidding, the time Mormanity wastes is fantastic. Ignatius Donnelly was prolific compared to Mormanity. Famous Americans endorsed his Atlantean theory of the new world. The fact is, today few take it seriously. Fact is after 187 years, theories of wandering Israelites, Romans, Atlanteans are laughable compare to 187 years ago. Mormanity is much too intelligent to not understand this basic truth. So, until you have a better theory for his deliberate lie, this what we have.

Leo Winegar said...

@Mormography, I'm just curious, but have you met anyone that has prayed specifically about the truthfulness of the Qurʾān? Or, do Muslims simply experience a general peace from Allah when they pray? As you may know, Mormons believe that God loves all people, and due to this perfect love, he will send peace to any sincere person who prays. I guess what I'm asking is, other than Mormons, do you know any other people who ask God to confirm the specific/unique truth claims of his/her religion? I haven't, so that is why I'm asking.

Mormography said...

Yes.

Your questions self-state famous Mormon contradictions, already discussed throughout this blog. Sending "peace" and confirming "unique truth claims" are indistinguishable with a unary communication channel that can only vary in intensity. Negative replies are not possible and therefore the channel violates fundamental principles of modern epistemology.

The unique truth claims Mormon and others receive an answer to is a generic, but intense peace confirming transcendental values such as self-sacrifice and group conformity, etc, not that a great Nephite/Lamanite battle was fought in what is today New York or Iram of the Pillars was buried in ancient Arabia.

Leo Winegar said...

@Mormography, I'm new to this blog. You personally know a Muslim who has prayed to Allah to ask if the Qurʾān is true?

Leo Winegar said...

@Mormography, to illustrate, take a look at this real Islam discussion where rank and file Muslims answer this question.
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/950759-how-do-you-know-that-islam-is-the-right-religion

Also, take a look at this video from Dr. Muhammad Salah:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SF3J8osmdlQ

Nothing mentioned about praying to Allah to ask him to confirm, through a spiritual feeling, that Islam is the true religion.

Don Neighbors said...

I find it rather amusing when terms like "confirmation bias" are bandied about, as if the person using the term is immune to it somehow. Folks, I have news for you: We all suffer from some level of "confirmation bias." It's a pretty inescapable aspect of being human. Moreover, no matte what side of the fence we are on, we exercise faith in the information we use. The vast majority of us are simply not in a position to do the legwork to conclusively prove or disprove an argument.

The critic of Mormonism is fond of criticising LDS scholars on the premise that their work has not undergone "peer review." "Peer review" is translated thusly: "evaluation of scientific, academic, or professional work by others working in the same field." Do you see the problem here? Few indeed are the non-LDS scholars who work in the same field as those LDS scholars who use their research to provide insight into Book of Mormon archaeology. Critics who fall back on this argument are using an argument that is weak indeed.

Mormography said...
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Mormography said...

Don Neighbors -

I find it rather amusing when terms like "confirmation bias" are bandied about, as if the person using the term is immune to it somehow. Folks, I have news for you: We all suffer from some level of "confirmation bias."

Yes, Don, unconscious bias is the latest buzz phrase. We all have faith, but I have news for you: faith is the belief in something without evidence, not despite the evidence.

"evaluation of scientific, academic, or professional work by others working in the same field." Do you see the problem here?

I do. There are fields such as archeology and genetics, there is no such field as LDS-archeology and LDS-genetics. To explain the "LDS folks" conundrum take a burning candle. The wax and wick are separate from the flame that burns on it. The burning in the bosom and religious inspiration/devotion are separate from the historicity of ancient writings. But in the case of Mormonism, they are completely intertwined. To untangle them to is to admit defeat.

Mormography said...

Leo Winegar -

Asking twice is calling me a liar. Does it matter if I am world traveled with acquaintances across the globe? It should not. I have interacted with Seven Day Adventist, Jehovah Witnesses, as well as Muslims, in and out of the US and thought I was talking to a Mormon.

You are taking a very closed minded approach. The fascinating Mormon spin on that seeming contradiction of American Calvinism. Be rich, but not too rich. Ben Franklin was so good at being humble he was proud of it. Mormon's are humble, but not so humble they cease to be special.

To help you understand, not even honest Mormons claim they have a monopoly on praying for the veracity of scripture. From the Voree Plates to Waren Jeffs writings, non-LDS Mormons have done just that. Simple thought experiment: If a person reads the BoM with the Voree scripture included, will God tell that person the scripture is not true. How about appending a bunch of non-scripture around the book of Isaiah. These are really simple though experiments you should have been able to come up with yourself.

Ignoring the difficulties with the unary communication channel and its inability to provide falsifiability, but then go to great lengths to call me a liar display a particularly closed mindset.

Leo Winegar said...

@Mormography, I'm not calling you a liar, but what you are claiming doesn't seem to be what the people from these other religions claim for themselves. Yes, they say they have the true religion, but this belief doesn't come through precise/binary questioning, through the Holy Spirit of God. Who are these people that you spoke with, and what did they say exactly? I'd like to talk to them. Or, can you point me to any research that demonstrates what you are claiming?

Oh, and when I have prayed about the Bible as a whole, I don't feel like all of it is pure (aka what God would speak if he were to visit us in person today). I feel like it has serious problems, and through my careful study and prayer God has helped me to discern truth from error. These are very specific questions that God will answer if we sincerely search, ponder and pray. Every phrase, in every religious text can be scrutinized, prayed-over, and God can confirm, clarify or reject-outright the contents. The cool thing about the Book of Mormon, is that we can ask God if it is inspired, if it is from him, and he answers that question. Again, I don't believe other religions ask with this level of specificity, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

God bless you.

Mormography said...

@Leo Winegar, I have not met a single Mormon that claims as you do, and I know a lot of Mormons.

Mormography said...

@Leo Winegar, "God has helped me to discern truth from error." God obviously is not done with you yet.

Leo Winegar said...

@Mormongraphy, how do you know that I'm a Mormon? Did I admit that earlier? Maybe I'm just trolling you? I'll take your silence on my request for evidence as proof that you are lying (ahem...notice I didn't call you a liar?)

What do you think I'm claiming, that is different from the "lots of" Mormons that you know?

Anonymous said...

Don Neighbors says we should excuse Mormon apologists for not seeking out peer review. Why? Because, he says, there are so few genuine peers who are fit to review their work.

But that's not so.

Sure, there aren't any people doing Book of Mormon archaeology who are not already Mormon. But so what? The key here is to remember that many claims about the Book of Mormon are also claims about archaeology qua archaeology, or genetics qua genetics, or linguistics qua linguistics. As such, there's no reason they can't adequately be reviewed by competent non-Mormon archaeologists/geneticist/linguists.

There are plenty of Mesoamericanists with the expertise needed to evaluate claims about putative Book of Mormon peoples in ancient Mesoamerica. If one strips out terms like Nephite, Lamanite, etc., the apologist could easily write up an article titled, say, "Evidence of Classical Period Horsedrawn Wheeled Chariots Found in Maya Region," or "Yucatan Site from 30+/- A.D. Shows Evidence of Massive Earthquake," or "Semitic DNA Found in Contemporary Mayan Population," whatever, and then submit it to an appropriate journal for peer review, and there's absolutely no reason to think that a competent non-Mormon Mesoamericanist would not be able to evauate the article on its merits. But of course they'd actually have to have the goods, and strangely enough they seem to. At least they never seem to be quite confident enough in their own evidence to submit it to the academic world at large.

There's no reason whatsoever that Stanford Carmack could not tweak his Interpreter articles a bit and submit them to an academic linguistics journal. The adjudication of the methodological questions I've raised in the past about his work do not require any expertise whatsoever in the Book of Mormon.

Don Neighbors is simply making excuses. So is Jeff when he tries to claim some special epistemological status for the archaeological and linguistic claims of the apologists. It's really maddening: this style of apologetics wants to appropriate for itself the hard-earned authority of science---an authority that rests in large part on rigorously ruling out the supernatural---without actually, you know, ruling out the supernatural. It's a kind of intellectual hypocrisy. Journals like the Interpreter dress themselves up in all the trappings of a genuine scholarly journal except for the ones that really count. They go for the appearance without the reality. I guess they figure most of their readers won't see the con.

Anyway, once you admit the supernatural as part of a proposed explanation, you're playing by a set of rules under which anyone can prove anything.

The real reason apologists avoid peer review is because they suspect just how bad their work really is.

-- OK

Mormography said...
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Mormography said...

@Leo Winegar, I was just asking myself that same question. What makes me think your Mormon? You are probably one of those atheist. I'll take your silence to mean you are an atheist and any response to mean that you are troll.

Leo Winegar said...

@Mormography, I'll honestly answer any question you ask me, because I'm an honest person. Why don't you provide some evidence that shows boolean/binary questioning happens in non-LDS faiths? You claimed above to have known a lot of people that have specifically asked God about their unique truth claims. I'm questioning your ability to prove that claim. Third time's the charm?

Mormography said...

@troll, I knew it. You are a troll!

"Why don't you provide some evidence that shows boolean/binary questioning happens in non-LDS faiths?"

Because I never claimed it does. If you are suggesting Mormon's claim "boolean/binary questioning", you are obviously not Mormon. So troll, do claim any credo?

Leo Winegar said...

@Mormography, Mormons do, in fact, claim to practice binary questioning. They ask God Yes/No questions all the time. I have to laugh/cry at the silly perception that some exmo's have. Here's what D&C 9 states:

8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.

So, Mormons ask, "Is the Book of Mormon true (right)?" and God answers them with a burning in their bosom. You seemed to argue above that this practice is common among other religions, so therefore this would prove all religions are claiming to have the truth, discovered through a similar process. This is obviously faulty logic. Mormons are absolutely unique in this practice, and anyone who prays specifically about the truth of the Book of Mormon can receive a binary (true/false) answer from God.

Oh, and my credo? I'm a Mormon hahah. God bless you!

Mormography said...

@troll, Who is the exmo with the silly perception?

Sigghh ... what u just did is called misdirection. You switch from determining veracity of scripture to producing scripture. DC9 refers to Oliver Cowdery's desire to produce scripture. So how effective was this "unique" process for OC. The fact that it did not work is undisputed. Also, y r the first I have seen interrupt this as a strict 0 and 1 process. So, by your standard the BoM is fraud, because way, way more people claim a 0 answer than a 1 answer. Now this makes the every-fiber-of-being thing wierd .... after all it is only a 0 or 1

The Qu'ran has very similar verses. Islamic apologism is built into the Qu'ran. In it Muhammad is accused of being just a talented poet vice prophet, much like JS. The Qu'ran addresses this with open challenges for anyone to produce similar scripture. OC could not, but JS and Muhammed answer each other's challenge.

So did James Strange, which you have yet to explain.

Anonymous said...

Leo, isn't D&C 9:8-9 directed specifically to Oliver Cowdery? And isn't it specifically about translating the Book of Mormon?

On its face, D&C 9 is not a revelation about how other people might receive answers to other questions.

Maybe, as you say, Mormons do "ask God Yes/No questions all the time," and then wait for the ol' burning in the bosom, but such a practice is not justified by D&C 9. Is it more of a folk practice, maybe?

-- OK

Mormography said...

The Mormon religion has its own name because of unique items to it. No one has suggested otherwise. For example, Mormon’s have a once monthly practice of fasting and sharing of a testimony in a group. Do other religions fast? Yes. Do other religions give testimony? Yes. Does the Mormon monthly practice make them unique? Of course, not.

For all of Leo Winegar’s insincerity (ex – “I'll honestly answer any question “, then ignoring most) his behavior is true to the internal contradictions of Mormonism. Moroni 10 is the typical scripture given in Leo situation. I have never observed a Mormon claim Moroni 10 applies as a line for line read out of scripture. Leo recognized the unary communication channel difficulties, so he switched to DC9 hoping to overcome them.

In all, what one can see in Leo’s interaction is the immature arrogance of believing one’s religion is the one true religion. His behavior is the fruit of that belief.

Leo Winegar said...

Regarding D&C 9: 6-9, President Monson said: "That counsel will guide you. It has guided me." Simple confirmation from the Prophet. In fact, these verses have been referenced ~61 times in general conference, and (hint, hint) it wasn't to give us a history lesson on Oliver Cowdery. This clear pattern of revelation was explained to Oliver, and like many other scriptures, it equally applies to us.

As you may know, Mormons believe their leaders to be inspired and that if a concept is repeatedly/recently taught over the pulpit, that it is reliable, and is considered canon. In other words, Mormon leaders have consistently taught that a binary approach to prayer is an appropriate method for receiving answers.

In addition to my personal experience with asking "Yes/No" questions and receiving clear answers, I have a close friend that recently prayed about a new job, which he was desperately seeking because his (then) current employer was letting him go. An amazing job offer came, amounting to a 70% salary increase. No brainer to accept, right?

He prayed and fasted, and fervently asked God, "Should I take this job?" He felt a stupor of thought and uneasy during the process. So, he clarified his line of questioning, "Should I keep looking and say 'no' to this particular job?" Keep in mind, that he had no other job offers on the table, and with a small family of 4, he was desperate to secure something.

So, as he attended the temple, after revising his line of questioning to, "Should I keep looking?", his answer clearly came, "Yes". He felt an overwhelming spiritual peace.

He notified the recruiter and the company came back with a message, "The SVP wants to meet with you to discuss." At this point in his experience I thought, surely he would visit with the SVP and re-consider the offer. But, this faithful man, filled with confidence that the Lord would provide, said "No, but thanks" to the recruiter.

He had no other offers at this point.

So, fast forward a couple of weeks, and this dear friend now has an even better job. The Lord knew what he was doing, and he directed his humble son to wait, and try again.

Albeit anecdotal, this counts as extremely strong evidence for me. Just like a friend who is a "promoter" and recommends their favorite restaurant to family and friends, I listen carefully to good people like him. He is extremely bright, and shows no signs of brainwashing/manipulation. His experience was absolutely authentic.

I too have experienced events like this in my life. I know that God speaks to us today, and we can hear him if we listen. He is real. The few scriptures he has provided about answering prayer, are valid and have contemporary application.

I am praying for the critics on this thread, that your hearts may soften, and you will one day hope to believe. God bless each of you.

Mormography said...

@troll, It sounds like you are violently agreeing with me. It is hard-hearted arrogance to think other religions are not full of such anecdotes.

”Mormons believe their leaders to be inspired and that if a concept is repeatedly/recently taught over the pulpit, that it is reliable, and is considered canon.”

Wow, you really are new here. Mormanity and FAIR could not disagree with you more. The question of what is canon comes up repeatedly. Their definition differs from yours. To them canon needs to be presented to the church and voted on. Of course, their definition of canon has not been presented to the church and voted on, a contradiction they have yet to respond to.

---

Focusing on a speck of dust in someone else’s eye is one to way to forget about the beam in your own. It is also a behavior trait of those that know they are in the wrong.

Leo Winegar said...

Ezra Taft Benson

We are admonished to “seek out of the best books words of wisdom” (D&C 88:118). Surely these books must include the scriptures. Alongside them must be the words of the Presidents of the Church. The Lord said of the President of the Church, “His word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth” (D&C 21:5). These books make up what has been referred to as “the Lord’s library”—namely the standard works and the various volumes that contain the words of the different Presidents of the Church. Of the latter volumes, that which would be of greatest importance to you would be the words of the current President of the Church, for his words are directed to our day and our needs. (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.137-138)

“I bear witness to the world today that more than a century and a half ago the iron ceiling was shattered; the heavens were once again opened, and since that time revelations have been continuous. …

“Since that momentous day in 1820, additional scripture has continued to come, including the numerous and vital revelations flowing in a never-ending stream from God to his prophets on the earth. …

“… We testify to the world that revelation continues and that the vaults and files of the Church contain these revelations which come month to month and day to day. We testify also that there is, since 1830 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, and will continue to be, so long as time shall last, a prophet, recognized of God and his people, who will continue to interpret the mind and will of the Lord.

“Now, a word of warning: Let us not make the error of the ancients. Numerous modern sectarians believe in the Abrahams, the Moseses, and the Pauls, but resist believing in today’s prophets. The ancients also could accept the prophets of an earlier day, but denounced and cursed the ones who were their contemporaries.

“In our day, as in times past, many people expect that if there be revelation it will come with awe-inspiring, earth-shaking display. For many it is hard to accept as revelation those numerous ones in Moses’ time, in Joseph’s time, and in our own year—those revelations which come to prophets as deep, unassailable impressions settling down on the prophet’s mind and heart as dew from heaven or as the dawn dissipates the darkness of night.

“Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication. I say, in the deepest of humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that from the prophet of the Restoration to the prophet of our own year, the communication line is unbroken, the authority is continuous, a light, brilliant and penetrating, continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal. For nearly a century and a half there has been no interruption” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 114–15; or Ensign, May 1977, 77–78).

Yes, our standard works require a formal sustaining vote, but if you ask any rank and file member of the church, about whether or not the most recent conference addresses are considered canon, they will emphatically say "Yes". I know why FAIR is conservative with their definition of canon (because of a few deviations in our history). But, what I'm talking about is consistency and recency, and what modern-day revelation means for day-to-day living. What really matters to me? Our standard works, and the most recent general conference talks. This constitutes God's word.

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

@troll

Now that you have expelled great energy deflecting from the original thread, are you ready to concur on the original item?:

After 187 years theories of wandering Israelites, Romans, Atlanteans are laughable compare to 187 years ago.

Leo Winegar said...

@Mormography, does that mean you agree with my approach? That's awesome! I'm glad that you are beginning to see it my way. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, Leo, given some of the pronouncements by earlier "prophets"---especially Brigham Young---I find it hard to believe that any of the Church's presidents have any special access to the truth. I'm sorry, but a guy who says "If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so" is not a man of God. He's a man who cannot distinguish his own prejudices and folk beliefs from the Word of God, which is to say he's an arrogant blasphemer. Yet to this day the Church considers this man a prophet, which in turn means the Church has such horribly bad judgment I cannot possibly trust it.

-- OK

Mormography said...

@troll

"beginning"? As far as I can tell you always agreed with me, you merely pretend not to momentarily.

Leo Winegar said...

We focus on both consistency and recency. Like any church on earth, as we look further into our past, some of our ancillary doctrines and practices have become unimportant. We are no different in this regard. As a whole, the core doctrines and practices of our church have remained unchanged. The gospel of Jesus Christ is our primary focus: "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost".

Joseph Smith: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 121)."

If President Monson or the Apostles began to teach something radically different today, I would spend time on my knees, and ask for direction. Personal revelation is something I strongly believe in. If some great new direction from our leadership occurs, it would be up to each member to come to grips with it.

Listen to General Conference with an open mind and heart. I plead with you. I know that you will feel a great love from your Heavenly Father if you do. God bless.

Anonymous said...

If President Monson or the Apostles began to teach something radically different today, I would spend time on my knees, and ask for direction.

If the President of the Church were to announce today that interracial marriage is death on the spot, that the Catholic Church is the Church of the Devil and the Whore of All the Earth, that polygamy was once again doctrinal (and that if his wife didn't like it she would be "destroyed"), or any of the other wackadoodle pronouncements from the good old days, I'd like to think you wouldn't need to "ask for direction" at all before concluding that the president is a wackadoodle.

And--truth being timeless and all that---if you would think that about a contemporary prophet, why not an earlier one?

Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were wackadoodles, not prophets.

-- OK

Leo Winegar said...

Perhaps you also believe the Christian God to be a "wackadoodle"? Sorry to say it, but if you had been around at the time/region of Noah, you would have drowned. Elder Holland helps to explain: "Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds."

We have a combination of issues we deal with as Mormons.

First, God likes to test his people, with counter-intuitive commands. This builds faith among the believers, and unfortunately, engenders anger in the Godless.

Second, we are weak and pitiful. God knows this, yet he continues to work through imperfect vessels. Just like our own children, we let them stumble and fall. You know that we don't claim infallibility, so why do you demand it?

Third, in the past 100 years, our world has been turned upside down, in almost every possible way. We think we understand what it was like to be in Joseph or Brigham's shoes, but we don't. Projecting our reality upon those pitiful pioneers is unreasonable. They were very, very different from you and I. If you look at the vast majority of what they did and taught, you see God's hand acting through them. They were wonderful, albeit imperfect men.

If President Monson commanded all of those things that you described above, I would be surprised. Why? Because we live in a different time, and we need different faith-building trials. I'm grateful I don't have to blindly follow the prophet, but that I can seek confirmation through the Holy Ghost to any question/concern I have. I've done this, and God has helped me, over and over again.

I'm praying for you my friend. I know that God loves you, and wants you to return. Please consider it.

I'll leave you this time with 2 Nephi 9:

28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

29 But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.

Anonymous said...

Yes, now that you mention it, the Christian God is a wackadoodle. Or rather, the Christian idea of God is a wackadoodle idea. (Unlike Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, the Christian God does not exist.) It's not that other Christians don't believe some silly stuff, just that orthodox Mormons believe even more silly stuff.

And no, I would not have drowned had I been alive "at the time/place of Noah." There is no "time/place of Noah," no more than there is a "time/place of Luke Skywalker." The Noah story is myth, not history.

And who says I'm demanding infallibility? Where have I said anything even remotely like that? Strawman argument.

Anyway, suppose you were to criticize the Scientology leaders for their deceptions, and a Scientology apologist excused them by saying, "Well, their deceptions are okay because, after all, Xenu and the Supreme Being work through imperfect vessels, and anyway, none of us are infallible."

You wouldn't buy that nonsense for a minute.

Suppose you were still around in the year 2150 and criticized L. Ron Hubbard and David Miscavage, and the Scientology apologist of that time responded by saying "In the past 100 years, our world has been turned upside down, in almost every possible way. We think we understand what it was like to be in L. Ron's or David's shoes, but we don't. Projecting our reality upon those pitiful pioneers is unreasonable. They were very, very different from you and I. If you look at the vast majority of what they did and taught, you see the Supreme Being's hand acting through them. They were wonderful, albeit imperfect men."

You wouldn't buy that either. We both know perfectly well that Hubbard and Miscavage were scoundrels even by the standards of their own era. So were Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Their rascality cannot be explained away through some thinly veiled moral-relativist argument that, well, morals were different back then.

What I'm trying to say here is that you keep giving us arguments that you yourself would never accept if applied to any other group but your own.

-- OK

Anonymous said...

"They were very, very different from you and I."

If you learn one thing from scripture, it's that human nature doesn't change. That's one of the lessons the story of Adam and Eve teaches us. Those early prophets weren't different, they just handled matters much differently than you or I would because their level of accountability was much different--they were a community and a law unto themselves.

Reminds me of this:

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

Anonymous said...

To get back to the OP, this statement by John E. Clark, quoted by Jeff in his update, is just ludicrous:

The [Book of Mormon's] description of ancient peoples differs greatly from the notions of rude savages held by nineteenth-century Americans. The book's claim of city-societies was laughable at the time, but no one is laughing now.

That's idiotic. In the 1820s, everyone and their uncle knew the basic stories of Pizarro and the "city-society" of the Incas, and Cortez and the "city-society" of the Aztecs; they knew about pyramids and other ruins around Mexico City---they knew that Montezuma ruled over a great city---they knew about the big burial mounds studded with strangely worked artifacts in the northeast U.S., etc.

The big question for early 19th-C Americans, with their "notions of rude savages," was what happened to the obviously "civilized" people who built these burial mounds. How did those people come to be replaced by the "rude savages" inhabiting the area when the white colonists arrived? That was the question, a big question back then, and the Book of Mormon was just one of many books of its era that claimed to answer it. View of the Hebrews is another.

Anyway, the BoM's "claim of city-societies" was anything but "laughable at the time."

Equally ludicrous is this statement by Clark:

Mesoamerica is a land of decomposing cities with their pyramids or towers, temples, and palaces--all items mentioned in the Book of Mormon but foreign to the gossip along the Erie Canal in Joseph Smith's day.

Is he kidding? The incredible story of Cortez's conquest of Mexico was well known throughout the western world. One of the most popular chronicles of the time was Bernal Diaz del Castillo's Conquest of New Spain, which describes much that we find in the BoM. It contains passages like this:

"When we saw so many cities and villages built in the water and other great towns on dry land we were amazed ... on account of the great towers and cues [pyramids] and buildings ... all built of masonry...."

Castillo's book also mentions several other things that Clark thinks would have been unknown in Smith's circle, including temples, human sacrifices (everyone knew of these---they were infamous), and even the cement about which Clark makes such a big deal: "[W]e came upon a fortress strongly built of stone and lime and some other cement, so strong that with iron pickaxes it was difficult to demolish it...."

I'm not saying Joseph Smith himself read Conquest of New Spain. It's possible, as the book was available in America at that time in English translation, but I rather doubt he did. Lots of other Americans, however, did read it---plenty enough to know that Tenochtitlan was a city with pyramids and towers and such---and the story of the conquest, as I said above, was much more widely known, just as the basic story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is known by many more people than have actually read Robert Louis Stevenson's novel. What I am saying is that Clark is wrong to suggest that such matters were "foreign to the gossip along the Erie Canal in Joseph Smith's day."

Our forebears were not as ignorant as Clark seems to think. For him to cite the BoM's description of a bunch of widely known ideas as evidence of the book's ancientness is really, really embarrassing. That BYU speech you quoted is hackwork.

-- OK

Jeff Lindsay said...

OK, your harsh assessment of John Clark's statement requires far too much modern hindsight and some errant assumptions. My response is the subject of my latest post, "In Defense of Dr. John E. Clark's 'Ludicrous' Assessment of Early Criticism of the Book of Mormon." Nobody is saying that that absolutely nobody knew of ancient American civilization, but that it was far from common knowledge and, in terms of common knowledge of the day, was a subject of criticism and laughter. That changed dramatically around 1840 with John Lloyd Stephens' impressive publication that began to change the popular view of ancient America and led at least to the LDS recognition that there was some evidence to defend the Book of Mormon against common attacks and support its basic claims about the ancient Americas.

Hiser said...

Jeff, @OK's analyses are very unbalanced. He is actually doing a hack job in this comment section. For instance, he wrote of how badly the BofM reads compared to the KJB. He is very unstudied and unbalanced in his approach. I point this out so that others who may be vulnerable to his criticisms will know that they are actually one-sided and mischaracterize things.

For example, OK writes of going from reading Isaiah in the BofM to reading non-Isaiah portions, and how the nonbiblical BofM suffers by comparison. Well, that is going from poetry to prose. And the Lord meant BofM prose to be clearer than KJB prose, so it reads like a clearer version of a 16c chronicle at times and sometimes like rather plain 16c, 17c, or 18c sermon language. In 1 Nephi we encounter a lot of Revelation-type language, couched in grammar that is archaic, both biblical and extrabiblical. The BofM is an exceedingly complex text that OK refuses to do justice to. Sad and rather transparent, to anyone with a background in this sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

Yes, God speaks to me through a rock in my hat.... and no you can't look.