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

Monday, February 26, 2018

Update on Horses in the Book of Mormon

One of the toughest challenges for the Book of Mormon is the issue of horses. At first glance, it's a simple case for rejecting the book. The Book of Mormon speaks of horses used by Book of Mormon peoples, and yet there is no proof of such a thing. In fact, horses went extinct in the Americas thousands of years before they show up in the Book of Mormon. Bingo. The book is bogus.

Several recent publications on this topic deserve to be considered:
Both of these are now mentioned on my related Mormon Answers (LDSFAQ) page, "Questions About Problems with Plants and Animals in the Book of Mormon."

These new publications remind us of some vital issues that are often overlooked by those criticizing the Book of Mormon:

1) In Joseph's day, it was understood that horses simply were not in the ancient Americas at all. It was only after the Book of Mormon was published that it became known that there were ancient horses, elephants, and camels here long ago. So yes, these animals were in the Americas, but are believed to have gone extinct well before Book of Mormon times.

2) The last surviving groups of any extinct animal are likely to be present long after the apparent extinction date because fossilized or preserved remains of any species are very rare, and thus the apparent "last" remains found are rarely the actual last animal that existed. The difference between reported extinction date and the actual persistence of a species can be hundreds or thousands of years, or, in some cases, millions of years when species once thought to be extinct were found to still exist (e.g., the coelacanth fish).

3) It is possible that in some regions, now-extinct animals such as the horse might have persisted long after the apparent extinction of the species. Recent evidence also shows some mammoths lived long past the previously recognized extinction date in northern North America. It could be that some surviving horses were found and exploited by Nephites when they arrived. They are not mentioned after the time of Christ, as if they had gone extinct by then.

4) Pre-Columbian remains of horses in the Americas raise the possibility that horses were present for a while in Book of Mormon lands during Book of Mormon times. Both of the above papers provide detailed evidence that needs to be part of future debates on this topic.

5) Finding remains of ancient animals in a hot, humid climate with an acidic soil, typical of Mesoamerica, is extremely unlikely. However, the cooler climate of caves represents a possible place where such remains might endure, and this is where some of the most promising finds have been made. The many decades it took to find any physical evidence of horses among the ancient huns, whose empire was based on heavy use of horses, reminds us of how difficult it is to find animal remains among ancient peoples that used them, especially when the animal is edible (and rather tasty, according to some of my friends in Europe -- for a while I lived next to a horse butcher shop in Switzerland).

6) While it is possible that the word "horse" might have been applied to another species,  in light of evidence that horses were in the Americas anciently and in light of at least some traces of horse remains among pre-Columbian Native Americans, assuming that actual horses were meant is a reasonable approach. Of course, much more work is needed in this area. Meanwhile, the hard evidence presented by Johnson and further evidence discussed by Miller and Roper should not be overlooked.

[The following four paragraphs were added Feb. 28, 2018.]

Critics have asked where are horses in Mesoamerican art if they were still around in Book of Mormon times? I would also like to point out that the horses among the Nephites may have been unusual or rare animals that became fully extinct before the end of the Nephite record. If they were not a significant part of life for Book of Mormon peoples, they may also have not been important or significant in other neighboring cultures. If they became fully extinct in Book of Mormon lands by, say 50 AD, there is no reason to expect Mesoamerican art from later times to show them. What we have from earlier times is a minute fraction of what remains to be excavated. The lack of clear horse figures in what we have so far from the early Book of Mormon period is not conclusive evidence that horses or other animals were not present in the Americas then.

None of this will satisfy the critics. But keep in mind that horses in the Book of Mormon are one of the biggest weaknesses in a book abounding with strengths. If the book is true, as I believe it is, it should hardly be surprising that serious unresolved questions marks persist in some areas. Apparent weaknesses need to be considered in light of the strengths as well, such as the abundance of evidence from the Arabian Peninsula, the Old World elements such as Hebraic word plays and poetical elements throughout the Book of Mormon, the reliable and compelling evidence from numerous witnesses of the plates and the translation process, etc. Further, the weakness of uncertain horses in the Book of Mormon is an area with a hint of a familiar trend: what seemed to be a blunder contrary to common knowledge in 1830 ("no horses ever existed here anciently -- they came from the Spaniards") later changed in light of fossil evidence showing horses were here and actually originated in the Americas. The problem shifted to one of timing relative to their apparent extinction before the Nephites arrived. But the extinction date has been pushed back, and now there is at least tentative though not widely accepted evidence of actual horses in the Americas during Book of Mormon times.

Just as the common knowledge that America's wild horses came from recent Spanish horses didn't manage to inform the authors of the Book of Mormon (whether that was Joseph and fellow conspirators or ancient writers), that "horse sense" may be lacking among the animals themselves.  Daniel Johnson's paper notes the discrepancy between Spanish horses and possible release of Spanish horses with the common type of horses favored by some Indian tribes, raising legitimate questions about the origins of these animals. A recent study on wild horse DNA in British Columbian horses also raises the possibility that non-Spanish origins are important, though this does not necessarily mean the horses have ancient American origins, but could have descended from other Old World imports. It's an area for further research, but one that keeps the door open for the unexpected result that wild horses in the Americas may have been here all along and are not all descended from horses introduced by the Spaniards or others. See E. Gus Cothran and Wayne P. McCrory, "A Preliminary Genetic Study of the Wild Horse (Equus Caballus) in the Brittany Triangle (Tachelach'ed) Region of the ?Elegesi Qayus (Nemiah) Wild Horse Preserve of British Columbia," The Long Riders Guild Academic Foundation, Nov. 2014, http://www.lrgaf.org/articles/Wild%20Horse%20DNA%20Report%202015.pdf.

Interestingly, DNA evidence is also overturning other aspects of previously established knowledge about horses. See "Surprising new study redraws family tree of domesticated and 'wild' horses," Science Daily, February 22, 2018, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180222145132.htm. See an interesting response to this story from Straight from the Horse's Heart (rtfitchauthor.com).

As a reminder of common knowledge on horses being from the Spaniards, here is an excerpt from the article "Equus" in the British Encyclopedia, vol. 3, printed in 1809. An American version of this came out in 1819.

Likewise, the opening page of Jedidiah Morse's popular American Gazetteer printed in 1809 reminds us that the wild horses used by an Indian tribe in South America were, of course, introduced by the Spaniards:

If Joseph were the literati that he seems to have been, based on the evolving narrative used to explain key Book of Mormon evidence, one must ask why he would be ignorant of the well-known fact that horses and elephants were not ever present in the ancient Americas? Why did he not possess the common knowledge that horses were introduced by the Spaniards? For a guy who is pulling arcane information off of elite maps of Arabia and accessing libraries of cutting-edge information to add little bits and pieces of plausibility to the book, it seems bizarre that he would suddenly fail to consult his technical advisory team when it came to animals in the Book of Mormon -- and then manage to have his animal blunders (like many other former blunders in the book) at least given a touch of hope by later fossil finds showing that they actually were native to the Americas anciently. But it seems that this is still mostly too ancient for comfort -- so far, though Daniel Johnson's discussion of the evidence raises significant hopes that there is much more than we've recognized that has already been found. Stay tuned.

60 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

Thanks for posting that link to the American Gazeteer. In perusing it, I was immediately reminded of a relatively recent disagreement we had about what was known or knowable about the ancient inhabitants of the Americas in Joseph's time. Your contention was that all european Americans, including Joseph, thought of Native Americans as barbaric teepee dwellers who had no resemblance to the BoM peoples. I provided you with several examples of texts, extant in Joseph's time, that recognized the sophistication of the ancient peoples and their societies. You poo pooed them as not being popular enough, or close enough to Joseph's back yard to have any influence on his thinking. Hopefully the Gazeteer is popular enough, and American enough for your tastes. Consider the following examples (emphasis added by me):

In the description of "Mexico":

"The historians most to be relied on say that it [pre columbian Mexico City] was nearly nine miles in circumference; and contained upwards of 60,000 houses, containing each 4 to 10 inhabitants."

Also, this about the "Pacbacama" valley in Peru:

"4 leagues from Lima, formerly beautified by a magnificent temple built by the Incas, and dedicated to the Creator of the Universe. The Peruvians had in it several idols; but they had in it so great a reverence for God, whom they called Pacbacamac, that they offered him what they esteemed most precious. . . The ruins of this superb structure, says Jovet, do yet demonstrate its former magnificence and greatness.

Or this under "Titicaca":

"On an isle in this lake, Mango Caffac(?), the founder of the Peruvian Monarchy, reported that the Sun, his father, had placed him with Oello his consort and sister. Here was a temple dedicated to the Sun, splendid with plates of gold and silver. . . Over the river El Disaguadero, still remains the bridge of rushes invented by Capae Yupanqui, the fifth Inca, for transporting his army to the other side, in order to conquer the provinces of Collafuyo.

Or this most interesting find on the facing page under "Tizon":

"In a journey made thus far , in 1606, the Spaniards found some large edifices, and met with some Indians who spoke the Mexican language, and who told them, that a few days journey from that river towards the N was the kingdom of Tolan, and many other inhabited places whence the Mexicans migrated. It is, indeed, confirmed by Mr. Stewart, in his late travels, that there are civilized Indians in the interior parts of America. Beyond the Missouri, he met with powerful nations who were courteous and hospitable, and appeared to be a polished and civilized people, having regularly built towns, and enjoying a state of society not far removed from the European.

Anonymous said...

Jeff won't believe Joseph had access to any book or document unless he sees a photo of the Smith family bookshelf. No other explanation will suffice for Jeff (except a miracle, of course).

Anonymous said...

To the point of your post, a huge area of omission regarding the presence of horses in ancient America, is the lack of depictions of the beast in writing or art. If they were as prevalent and useful as made out to be by the BoM, one would expect to find them present in depictions of day-to-day life, or especially war. Where are they in the artifacts? It may have been difficult to locate physical remains of the Huns' horses, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that they were present in their society. Where's similar evidence in the archaeological record in the Americas?

Anonymous said...

Horses. Just another exercise of intellectual acrobatics needed to defend the legitimacy of Joseph Smith and the BOM. I honestly can't think of any other religion that requires so many far-reaching explanations. From multiple hill cummorahs, North American edens, polyandry, disavowed prophetic teachings, facsimiles, wooden submarines. The list just goes on and on

Jeff Lindsay said...

Anon, it sounds like the mere act of responding to your long list of arguments will be taken as ad admission of guilt. Do I have that right? Because a sound theory doesn't get opposed and doesn't lead to smart opponents making long lists of objections, right?

Just wondering, is there anything you believe in that is or has been the subject of debate? Perhaps something like the Bible as the word of God, the Democratic Platform, Global Warming, Federal Reserve fiscal policy, the Atkins Diet, Net Neutrality, gun control, anything? Maybe General Relativity or, to keep things especially easy, Germ Theory or the theory of gravity? All of these were or are controversial. Have you had a serious debate with people that have different views on such a topic? Have you encountered the annoyance of vocal opponents who can easily create long lists of arguments and attacks? If that would be a new experience for you, I'd encourage you to try a serious debate or two with smart opponents. You'll find that even seemingly clearcut and logical (to you) positions can have numerous flaws or weak spots, at least in the eyes of others, and can be attacked by either intelligent or ignorance forces, or both, with long lists of arguments and counter evidences. Sometimes the arguments are simply overwhelming and leave no room for a failed belief system -- like the Electric Universe, or major portions of the faith-based policies of both of America's major political parties (the faith-based part includes the blind faith shared by both parties that endless debt can be accrued faster and faster without the kind of horrific consequences that have occurred in every other nation embarking on the same path in the past) -- but in many cases we find that issues are complicated, take time to work through, and aren't resolved by throwing out simple sound bytes and long lists with a declaration of victory based on the number of objections one can conceive.

Horses in the Book of Mormon involves several complex issues. If the book is an ancient record, then is there a way to understand it's reference to horses that can fit with what we know? The answer is yes. There are several possible approaches, yet still question marks. But there is an interesting trend. What was utterly without support in 1830 now has the benefit of fossil evidence showing that horses were here anciently, and more recently has a small amount of physical evidence suggesting surviving horses were present to a limited degree in Book of Mormon lands. They disappear from the record by the time of Christ's ministry 2000 years ago. There is no mention of them being ridden by humans or being used in battle. They may have pulled a ceremonial litter/"chariot" of some kind for a king in one reference among the Lamanites, but otherwise they appear to have been herded, possibly for food, with no further hints at their usage. Then they disappear from the record. That is well after their accepted extinction date, but surviving pockets of a species long past the extinction date based on rare finds of remnants is likely a common occurrence. So we have question marks, but not a solid reason for rejecting the Book of Mormon.

As for the absence of horses in art, it's true that among the tiny fraction of Mesoamerican art that has been excavated, we don't have obvious horses. If horses played a major role among the Mayans, for example, we'd expect something. But the presence of horses, possibly rare already, as possibly a source of food among the Nephites does not or as a tool of some kind for one Lamanite king mean that other cultures at other times used them, or that they found them important enough to portray during the possibly brief time they were present.

At the moment it is simply too early to say that horses were not depicted in Mesoamerican art unless you assume that what has been excavated already tells us everything we need to know.

Anonymous said...

If Joseph were the literati that he seems to have been, based on the evolving narrative used to explain key Book of Mormon evidence, one must ask why he would be ignorant of the well-known fact that horses and elephants were not ever present in the ancient Americas?

This is silly beyond words. If a man has access to a bunch of books, and he reads some of them, does that mean he must have read them all?

If a man were to read some of these books, but not all of them, would that be such a rare and inexplicable thing?

If a man were to encounter a fact in a book, and then forget what he read, would that be such a rare thing?

If a student reads a textbook for an exam, and he goes on to answer 19 out of 20 questions correctly, why did he get that one answer wrong? If he were the studious young man he seems to have been, must one ask why he would be ignorant of that one fact he missed on the exam?

Does getting 1 out of 20 wrong, even though he also got 19 out of 20 correct, indicate that the student did not read the textbook?

You're too smart for this kind of silliness, Jeff. Once again, your faith commitment to the historicity of the Book of Mormon is clouding your judgement.

-- OK

Anonymous said...

... is there a way to understand its reference to horses that can fit with what we know? The answer is yes. There are several possible approaches, yet still question marks....

This is LDS apologetics in a nutshell. Yes, says the apologist, the evidence certainly does seem to be against us. Yet maybe there's a "way to understand" the Book of Mormon that, however improbably, explains that evidence away. Let us exercise our imaginations and search for such a way to understand.

This is why LDS apologetics makes sense only to those who already believe in its conclusions. It relieves them of the spiritual angst engendered by the evidence --- by the clash of an outdated worldview with modernity.

-- OK

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

My initial response was to say I used my seer stone to interpret what you had written and I'm glad you realize that you were wrong--apology accepted.

As I read your response to my post again however, I thought there were a few issues that needed to be addressed as you were getting somewhat personal. I'll start from the top:

1. "it sounds like the mere act of responding to your long list of arguments will be taken as ad admission of guilt. Do I have that right?"

I'm not sure what you have to feel guilty about. Perhaps a visit to your bishop or branch president is in order? My post had nothing to do with guilt--Freud may have something to say about your feelings. . .

2. "long list of arguments"

There's a big difference between an argument and its evidence. My argument was a simple paragraph followed by a "long list" of evidence to support my claim. I know this can be confusing but there are many good textbooks in print that can aid you in making the distinctions. One of my favorites is The Curious Writer by Bruce Ballenger.

3. "I'd encourage you to try a serious debate or two with smart opponents."

This phrase made me smile. I guess I'm to assume by this statement that yourself and others who have debated my point of view on your blog are not smart opponents? That's an alright statement to make about yourself, but others who have herein countered my arguments may have a differing opinion about their intellectual prowess. I don't think they would appreciate your throwing them under the bus.

Anita Wells said...

There's been some fascinating new DNA research on horse ancestry which proves there's still a lot to learn in this field: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180222145132.htm

Jeff Lindsay said...

OK, theories for origin of the Book of Mormon increasingly appeal to smart outside help to do the heavy intellectual lifting. So if Joseph had help and direct or indirect access to abundant knowledge, how did his co-conspirators fail to remind him of basics like Christ being born in Bethlehem, Arabia being impassable, and horses being what the Spaniards brought, definitely not native to America? It’s not silly beyond words. It’s recognizing that the models offered for Book of Mormon creation leave some huge question marks. But sure, he could have been a great student of many topics and just missed basic common knowledge on several things, which his team also obviously missed and failed to correct. But do you lean to the Joseph did it alone theory, with no need for help on,say, Hebraisms and Hebrew names?

Jeff Lindsay said...

Anon #1, yes, Jedidiah Morse's views are interesting. Thanks for pointing them out. He does refer to some structures in various locations, including a wooden temple in the northwest, and yes, some kind of edifices in Peru. But none of this prepared the population in general for the revelations that would come later from Stephens and Catherwood which introduced the populace to the significance of extensive stone buildings in Mesoamerica and evidence of a truly majestic ancient civilization -- not just polite noble savages west of Missouri praised for building towns.

If you look at his many other references to native tribes, it seems that he likes to point out some of their positives: amiable, polite, comely, hospitable, commodious, etc. But he doesn't leave much room to overlook the fact that they are generally a far cry from advanced Christian civilization.

Consider his characterization of the very important Cree Indians, which he calls Knisteneaux:
Knisteneaux: a tribe of Indians widely extended over the N part of N. America. Their language is similar to the Algonquins who inhabit the waters of St. Lawrence, and the coast of Labrador. Their dress is simple and commodious, their women are the most comely of savages. Their people are subject to but few disorders. They are mild and affable, just to one another other, and hospitable to strangers. [So far, so good!] Smoking precedes all affairs of consequence. This sacred rite is never prophaned; its obligations are indispenfable. It settles all differences between contending parties. No person is allowed to join in the solemnity, who has cohabited with a woman within 24 hours. They say, "he is unclean." At their funerals, the mourners cut off their hair, lacerate their flesh, blacken their faces, bury the most valuable property of the deceased, destroy what remains, that it may not pain them by bringing him to remembrance; widows sometimes sacrifice themselves with their departed husbands. Families have domestic gods, which are carved images about 8 inches long ; these they treat with the most superstitious regard. Chastity is no virtue with these people ; they exchange wives, or offer them to strangers as acts of hospitality. Incest and bestiality are common among them. So wicked, so brutal are the most amiable tribes of men, not enlightened by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sounds like he's praising another group of "noble savages" with a lot of refined attributes, and then he drops the hammer and decries these immoral brutes who lack the Gospel. But still, he does give glimpses of some genuine diversity among the tribes and some features pointing to advances beyond nomadic life alone. But for all that, the popular understanding of Native Americans in the 19th century was not terribly flattering. Stephens and Catherwood would surprise many, including the Mormons, who saw that as a big deal and some of the first meaningful evidence supporting the Book of Mormon.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Anita, thank you. It's a fascinating story. As we learn that the native horses in Asia really aren't all that native, and that the "feral" horses in America really are the same species as the ancient horses on this land, there are a growing number of people who question the US government's classification of American wild horses as an "invasive species" when they at least are the re-introduced original, or something very close to it. And there are also voices who are wondering if the standard story of wild horses in American all coming from recent Spanish horses really can fit the facts -- including the appearance of many wild horses (especially the spotted ones favored by some tribes), the extensive and early development of horsemanship skills among many tribes so rapidly after Spanish horses came to the continent, and the extensive Indian lore about horses, developing so quickly. There are some intelligent voices who, in light of Indian data and genetic data for wild American horses that don't neatly fit into the Spanish camp, wonder if wild horses in America may have persisted naturally from pre-Columbian horses. I don't know enough on this topic to discuss it yet, but there are some interesting issues requiring more investigation.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Thank you for the post.

mjb said...

Book of Mormon: Horses
Anti-Mormon: There were no horses back then!
Mormon: There's some evidence there were horses. Here it is.
Anti-Mormon: Intellectual acrobatics!!

Anonymous said...

mjb, nothing Jeff has presented qualifies as "evidence" by any stretch.

Collin Simonsen said...

Anonymous,

I won't take anything you say seriously until I know who you are. I find that most critics making comments on Mormon blogs keep their identity hidden.

A question for all critics: What evidence do you have that Joseph Smith read ANY books prior to his writing the Book of Mormon, other than the Bible? I'd be surprised if you could find more than 1 or 2 examples. All of the evidence is that he had almost no education at that time. Only later did he gain an education.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Latest No-evidence Anon, that's a fair statement because I haven't much of the evidence here. I've referred people to a couple of excellent articles that present some significant evidence. But among the evidences I referred to is one that I hope you might also know of already, without the need for citations: the fossil evidence that horses actually were in the Americas anciently. As I recall, the first such evidence was reported in 1840, and then later came the dramatic La Brea tar pit finds. Now ancient American horses are part of our common knowledge. That's evidence that moved science a little closer to the Book of Mormon -- though the timing was off. But can you see how that ought to count as relevant evidence? I also presented primary sources supporting the notion that it was common knowledge in Joseph's day (and still is in ours) that wild horses in the Americas came from the Spaniards. That evidence was relevant to the discussion. Does it not count as evidence? So what does it take for something to count as evidence of some kind? Or are you willing to walk back your statement a little?

Anonymous said...

The evidence is in the product, Collin! If I suddenly started making cookies in my kitchen, and then you come to my house and find not one single cookbook, I think it's safe to assume I found a recipe somehow! Joseph's so-called inspired works are chock-full of references, allusions, and copied passages from existing work. We can either blame that on prophetic inspiration (the least likely and least rational explanation) or assume he had access to the works he was riffing on, Collin.

Anonymous said...

And as for dismissing the words of anonymous commenters, Collin, allow me to make you aware of something: most of the Founding Fathers often wrote for the public anonymously. These are men who Mormons believe to have been given godhood status, if Wilford Woodruff is to be believed. I think I'm safe amongst them in not revealing my identity.

mjb said...

"I think it's safe to assume I found a recipe somehow!"

What about the first person to make a cookie?

Anonymous said...

That person should be sainted.

Anonymous said...

Colin,

You're working on a flawed premise. You ask "What evidence do you have that Joseph Smith read ANY books prior to his writing the Book of Mormon?"

Which I answer with: why is reading anything essential? I have read virtually nothing about the Russian meddling in the election, neither have I seen anything about it on TV, but I've heard a lot about it. Remember the milieu in which Joseph spent his formative years "The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others." By his account, we can assume he heard a lot of theories about religion, both basic and otherwise.

His account also lets us know that not only was he paying attention, but he was consuming information at a pretty good rate: "During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit."

So, what need books?

mjb said...

I have to agree!

bearyb said...

"So what need books?"

Really? I thought that one of the paths that has been promoted about the origin of the Book of Mormon involved not only a very active imagination on the part of Joseph Smith, but also his knowledge of and/or access to a fairly extensive (and rare) collection of literature.

Did I miss something? Has that opinion been changed by those who have promoted it here?

Or is it now considered sufficient that he merely must have "heard about" all the ideas that he decided to incorporate into the BoM, and should then somehow be held responsible for lifting them from some specific book or other.

The account of Joseph's referred to above seems only to speak of religious beliefs, and the differing ways that various passages in the Bible specifically were being interpreted by the many different sects. I don't think one could assume he knew much else about "how the world works" simply because he was extremely interested in his eternal welfare. In fact, elsewhere in the same account he admits that he was "unacquainted with men and things." Of course, this would have been around the time of his First Vision at the age of 14, and he has demonstrated through his works that he turned out to be an extremely intelligent man and could certainly have heard various things and retained them. But where is the evidence?

So here you are saying now, "What need books?" I think the most controversial things about the BoM (discussed here anyway) have very little to do with the religious aspects of the book, and more to do with the non-religious or historical elements of it.

How much of that kind of stuff do you think came up in day-to-day conversation?

bearyb said...

And another thing:

You say "I have read virtually nothing about the Russian meddling in the election, neither have I seen anything about it on TV, but I've heard a lot about it."

How intelligent an article do you think you could write about all the things you have "heard about" regarding the Russian meddling in the election?

Anonymous said...

You have entirely missed the point bearyb. You're lobbing hand grenades at a straw man. Congratulations, it's dead.

Anonymous said...

Beary writes:

"Really? I thought that one of the paths that has been promoted about the origin of the Book of Mormon involved not only a very active imagination on the part of Joseph Smith, but also his knowledge of and/or access to a fairly extensive (and rare) collection of literature."

You seem to be conflating critics claims with Jeff's claims about the critics. I haven't read any claims by critics on this blog about Joseph's "extensive (and rare) collection of literature." I have read it many, many times from Jeff in his attempt to explain how Joseph must have worked to have produced what he did if it wasn't by the "power and inspiration of God." Those of us who are unbelievers only see the need for information available in Joseph's time for it to be included in the BoM. Your question "But where is the evidence?" can then be answered with: the book itself is the evidence. If information was available, and it ended up in the book, he got it by either word of mouth or by reading. Being as his access to learned and lay religious men was much higher than his access to "extensive (and rare) collection[s] of literature," it stands to reason that the information was transmitted verbally, and not by reading.

As for "How much of that kind of stuff do you think came up in day-to-day conversation?" I would answer with: quite a lot. The possibility of native Americans being descendents of the lost tribes of Israel had been postulated and discussed since the early 17th century as was the idea of America being a "promised land" reserved for the righteous. See https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/native-americans-jews-the-lost-tribes-episode/. The despoiling of tumuli and searching for treasures and relics of an advanced but defunct culture were common practices in Joseph's time, if one is to believe the church's stance on Joseph's treasure seeking. The fear of and political discussion of secret societies controlling the government was very much a hot button topic before the BoM began to be translated. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Morgan_(anti-Mason). There is much of early 19th century America contained within the Book of Mormon, including religious concepts and items of doctrinal contention.

bearyb said...

Ok, so apparently there was a lot of discussion around the time of the publication of the BoM concerning the origins of native Americans, and more particularly the idea that they might have been descendants of the lost tribes of Israel.

I might ask whether these were discussions that Joseph were ever a party to, and you would probably say that of course he was, as the evidence to that effect is in the BoM.

I'm sure you are aware, by the way, that the emphasis that was earlier placed on that possibility in the introduction to the BoM has been softened - but not eliminated - in the latest available version. And it is important to maintain the difference between what was actually claimed to be translated and commentary on the same (which is what the introduction is, as well as the synopsis of each chapter at their beginnings).

I suppose you might say that about all types of things contained in the BoM, that if they are in there Joseph must - somehow or another - have been exposed to such concepts through social contacts.

The BoM is obviously a very complex piece of literature. We do not know all the details surrounding how it came to be. I accept that it is partly a product of Joseph's time and circumstance, because if one is translating something from an unknown into a familiar language, what else could be the result? Similarly, what would be the point of having the "gift of tongues" if there were no sensible interpretation made available?

But there is much, much more contained in the BoM that has no such easy explanation, and many things that are not only not a product of his time and circumstance, but actually go against things that anyone of his time "should have known." And, granted, there are still many questions unanswered about many things concerning it.

Aside from all this, I accept the BoM to be what it claims to be because of the promises it contains, which are available to all who seek them with pure intent.

Anonymous said...

You say there are "many things that are not only not a product of his time and circumstance, but actually go against things that anyone of his time 'should have known.'"

Name 5, or even 3.

Luiz Carvalho said...

You post on Mormanity a question like yours and honestly expect someone to do a simple website search for you? What is this, too afraid of the “big bad search function”?

Aparentemente, o objetivo desse cidadao eh se fazer de fazido, quando na verdade esta mais perdido que peao em circo.

Anonymous said...

I'm not asking for a web search, I'm asking for support for bearyb's assertion. I also didn't ask for poor/lazy Portuguese, fubeca.

Luiz Carvalho said...

So you ARE scared of a simple web search... shocking.

Parece que alguem vai sair com o rabo entre as pernas ou dar com a lingua entre os dentes. Qual deles sera?

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Carvalho should be banned for making light of my disability. Either that or his horrible spelling in Portuguese--I'm not sure which is more egregious.

Luiz, please switch your keyboard to Portuguese--let auto-correct be your friend. . .

Scott Mitchell said...

Anonymous,
Here are three examples of things neither Joseph or any other contemporaries knew in 1830, which would have contrary to common belief of laymen and scholars alike.

First, the pervasive presence of Early Modern English in the critical text of the Book of Mormon. Scholarship by Royal Skousen and Stanford Carmack has now shown that not only did no one on earth speak Early Modern English by 1830 (thus meaning it wasn't something you could learn by listening to it being spoken by others, nor could you read it in "View of the Hebrews" or any other text from which Joseph Smith has been accused of borrowing), but significant parts of its grammar and vocabulary were obsolete by the time of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible. So, Smith couldn't have just ripped off biblical language, either. In fact, Smith was frustrated with the grammar, vocabulary, Hebraisms, figures of speech and syntax in the Book of Mormon critical text, thought they were in error, and tried to edit them out of the 1837 edition.

Second, the discovery that approximately 25% of the language family of Uto-Aztecan, which consists of 60 or 70 different dialects spoken in an area stretching from the southwestern US (and a part of Alaska, believe it or not) down the western half of Mexico and into Central America and was undiscovered in 1830, would contain Semitic cognates from Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Egyptian. Brian Stubbs' research discovered this, and his books have listed those cognates, which currently number about 1500, and has shown their evolution over time. These cognates aren't found to exist in other Western Hemisphere language families outside Uto-Aztecan.

Third, the discovery in the Americas of enormous (by ancient standards) cement-constructed metropolises, which made Mesoamerica eventually become the most densely populated place in the world. Joseph Smith not only didn't know this, he thought the poor little bands of Indians west of the Missouri River were the Lamanites mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and he taught that. He was completely wrong about that, as he was about many of his opinions on history and doctrine. By 1830, the only thing known about Mesoamerica's archaeological past was that there were some impressive ceremonial ruins sites scattered here and there, but it was not known until recently the staggering population figures associated with these city states, and the amount of cement residences surrounding them that were in Joseph's time covered by jungle.

Joseph badly wanted to discover archaeological or textual evidence of the Book of Mormon's authenticity, but he couldn't, because it it simply wasn't known at the time. This is a subtle hurdle you have to overcome when attempting to discredit Book of Mormon authenticity--the fact that when Joseph Smith tried to defend it, neither he nor anyone else ever cited to the evidence we have today. They were all completely ignorant of it, which means he couldn't have authored the book.

If you can respond to the above points in an intellectually sound way, I'll be happy to provide seven or eight more evidences for you to tackle, and then more. In fact, even if you can't explain away the above in an intellectually sound way, I'll still be able to provide those evidences. On the "horses" issue, your position has been slowly eroding over time, and those eroding it are scientists. In time, I believe the horses argument will disappear the same way the steel swords issue has disappeared. You're always on thin ice when your logical foundation is "It could not have existed, because we haven't discovered unassailable evidence of it YET."

Scott Mitchell said...

Anonymous,
Here are three examples of things neither Joseph or any other contemporaries knew in 1830, which would have contrary to common belief of laymen and scholars alike.

First, the pervasive presence of Early Modern English in the critical text of the Book of Mormon. Scholarship by Royal Skousen and Stanford Carmack has now shown that not only did no one on earth speak Early Modern English by 1830 (thus meaning it wasn't something you could learn by listening to it being spoken by others, nor could you read it in "View of the Hebrews" or any other text from which Joseph Smith has been accused of borrowing), but significant parts of its grammar and vocabulary were obsolete by the time of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible. So, Smith couldn't have just ripped off biblical language, either. In fact, Smith was frustrated with the grammar, vocabulary, Hebraisms, figures of speech and syntax in the Book of Mormon critical text, thought they were in error, and tried to edit them out of the 1837 edition.

Second, the discovery that approximately 25% of the language family of Uto-Aztecan, which consists of 60 or 70 different dialects spoken in an area stretching from the southwestern US (and a part of Alaska, believe it or not) down the western half of Mexico and into Central America and was undiscovered in 1830, would contain Semitic cognates from Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Egyptian. Brian Stubbs' research discovered this, and his books have listed those cognates, which currently number about 1500, and has shown their evolution over time. These cognates aren't found to exist in other Western Hemisphere language families outside Uto-Aztecan.

Third, the discovery in the Americas of enormous (by ancient standards) cement-constructed metropolises, which made Mesoamerica eventually become the most densely populated place in the world. Joseph Smith not only didn't know this, he thought the poor little bands of Indians west of the Missouri River were the Lamanites mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and he taught that. He was completely wrong about that, as he was about many of his opinions on history and doctrine. By 1830, the only thing known about Mesoamerica's archaeological past was that there were some impressive ceremonial ruins sites scattered here and there, but it was not known until recently the staggering population figures associated with these city states, and the amount of cement residences surrounding them that were in Joseph's time covered by jungle.

Joseph badly wanted to discover archaeological or textual evidence of the Book of Mormon's authenticity, but he couldn't, because it it simply wasn't known at the time. This is a subtle hurdle you have to overcome when attempting to discredit Book of Mormon authenticity--the fact that when Joseph Smith tried to defend it, neither he nor anyone else ever cited to the evidence we have today. They were all completely ignorant of it, which means he couldn't have authored the book.

If you can respond to the above points in an intellectually sound way, I'll be happy to provide seven or eight more evidences for you to tackle, and then more. In fact, even if you can't explain away the above in an intellectually sound way, I'll still be able to provide those evidences. On the "horses" issue, your position has been slowly eroding over time, and those eroding it are scientists. In time, I believe the horses argument will disappear the same way the steel swords issue has disappeared. You're always on thin ice when your logical foundation is "It could not have existed, because we haven't discovered unassailable evidence of it YET."

Scott Mitchell said...

Anonymous,
Here are three examples of things neither Joseph or any other contemporaries knew in 1830, which would have contrary to common belief of laymen and scholars alike.

First, the pervasive presence of Early Modern English in the critical text of the Book of Mormon. Scholarship by Royal Skousen and Stanford Carmack has now shown that not only did no one on earth speak Early Modern English by 1830 (thus meaning it wasn't something you could learn by listening to it being spoken by others, nor could you read it in "View of the Hebrews" or any other text from which Joseph Smith has been accused of borrowing), but significant parts of its grammar and vocabulary were obsolete by the time of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible. So, Smith couldn't have just ripped off biblical language, either. In fact, Smith was frustrated with the grammar, vocabulary, Hebraisms, figures of speech and syntax in the Book of Mormon critical text, thought they were in error, and tried to edit them out of the 1837 edition.

Second, the discovery that approximately 25% of the language family of Uto-Aztecan, which consists of 60 or 70 different dialects spoken in an area stretching from the southwestern US (and a part of Alaska, believe it or not) down the western half of Mexico and into Central America and was undiscovered in 1830, would contain Semitic cognates from Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Egyptian. Brian Stubbs' research discovered this, and his books have listed those cognates, which currently number about 1500, and has shown their evolution over time. These cognates aren't found to exist in other Western Hemisphere language families outside Uto-Aztecan.

Third, the discovery in the Americas of enormous (by ancient standards) cement-constructed metropolises, which made Mesoamerica eventually become the most densely populated place in the world. Joseph Smith not only didn't know this, he thought the poor little bands of Indians west of the Missouri River were the Lamanites mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and he taught that. He was completely wrong about that, as he was about many of his opinions on history and doctrine. By 1830, the only thing known about Mesoamerica's archaeological past was that there were some impressive ceremonial ruins sites scattered here and there, but it was not known until recently the staggering population figures associated with these city states, and the amount of cement residences surrounding them that were in Joseph's time covered by jungle.

Joseph badly wanted to discover archaeological or textual evidence of the Book of Mormon's authenticity, but he couldn't, because it it simply wasn't known at the time. This is a subtle hurdle you have to overcome when attempting to discredit Book of Mormon authenticity--the fact that when Joseph Smith tried to defend it, neither he nor anyone else ever cited to the evidence we have today. They were all completely ignorant of it, which means he couldn't have authored the book.

If you can respond to the above points in an intellectually sound way, I'll be happy to provide seven or eight more evidences for you to tackle, and then more. In fact, even if you can't explain away the above in an intellectually sound way, I'll still be able to provide those evidences. On the "horses" issue, your position has been slowly eroding over time, and those eroding it are scientists. In time, I believe the horses argument will disappear the same way the steel swords issue has disappeared. You're always on thin ice when your logical foundation is "It could not have existed, because we haven't discovered unassailable evidence of it YET."

Anonymous said...

I have a question for Scott Mitchell. Why aren't we seeing the incredibly significant, indeed revolutionary, work of Carmack, Stubbs, etc. published in secular peer-reviewed journals and validated by secular researchers?

Think about it. If these men's research is legit, it completely revolutionizes several scholarly fields. Yet instead of publishing in venues that actually reach the people with the expertise to properly evaluate it and perhaps validate it, they publish it only in obscure, partisan venues like The Interpreter, read only by the already-convinced. It's like discovering irrefutable evidence of the existence of thetans and publishing it only in Scientology Today.

As some wise man said long ago, Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick....

So why hide all this light, all this putatively legitimate and world-changing research, under the bushel of The Interpreter?

No peer-review, no respect.

-- OK

Scott Mitchell said...

Anonymous:

I gave you three examples of solid evidence, and you responded to only one of those arguments. And even that one response to one of the arguments was a non-response, in which you made not even the slightest attempt to address its substance. Obviously, you went looking to see what other Book of Mormon critics might have written about this issue, who, unlike you, might have dealt with the substance of the Early Modern English claims. Finding none, and unwilling to try to refute the argument yourself, you found refuge in the pitiful "no peer review" retort. Here's the answer to your challenge:

Both Skousen and Carmack have spotless reputations among their peers and in academia in general. Their resumes are very impressive, not only within Mormonism, but among scholars everywhere. No one has ever said otherwise. They have Ph.Ds from prestigious university doctoral programs and have been accepted as experts in their fields by the world at large. And they have shared their research so that anyone who wants to check their sources can easily do so, whether or not they have a doctorate in English or linguistics. When it comes to their work identifying pre-KJV obsolete Early Modern English in the Book of Mormon critical text, they HAVE NO PEERS. No one else with their academic credentials has read the Book of Mormon's critical text, and done the research to determine whether the grammar, vocabulary and phraseology is several centuries old but can be found in early writings which no one's been aware of for the last three hundred years. If you seek to offer an intellectually sound rebuttal, please list even one peer in the whole world who has studied the same material they have studied, and reached a conclusion contrary to the one they have reached. And provide his or her research, so that we can see if it truly addresses the substance, or merely criticizes them for endorsing Book of Mormon authenticity.

As you know full well, scientists and academics in general feel they will lose their professional credibility if they corroborate scholarly findings which lend credibility to the idea that the Bible or Book of Mormon are authentic records of real events. If they agree with the religion-favoring scholarly findings, they won't do so publicly by publishing their review in a journal, unless they have already identified themselves as a believer and are publishing in a journal read by like-minded scholars. If fellow scholars are conversant in the field and disagree with the scholarly findings of the believer, they will jump at the chance to discredit him or her, because doing so can only enhance their reputation among their own predominantly atheist or agnostic academics. If that fellow scholar is conversant in the field, and knows he or she CAN'T discredit the findings of the religious scholar, he or she will simply remain silent and hope someone else can come along and somehow tear it down. If you, "Anonymous,", consider yourself intellectually-oriented, go ahead and dare to read their research yourself and point out where it doesn't meet scholarly standards.

Anonymous said...

Not so, Scott Mitchell. Because of Blogger's word limit, let me address your final paragraph, point by point, in two parts.

Part One:

As you know full well, scientists and academics in general feel they will lose their professional credibility if they corroborate scholarly findings which lend credibility to the idea that the Bible or BoM are authentic records of real events.

Two problems here. First, biblical scholars have corroborated the historicity of the Bible on many occasions. They have successfully published their corroborating research in secular academic journals. See the recent give-and-take over the historicity of King David for a good example, or the "biblical minimalism" controversy, both of which were conducted in secular-academic scholarly journals.

Second, I object to your placement of the Bible and BoM in the same category. The Bible is indisputably an ancient text, while the BoM is not. In the case of the Bible, we have extant manuscripts going back more than 2,000 years. We know what languages the biblical texts were composed in. We have ancient artifacts bearing biblical text and names.

In the case of the BoM we have none of this. No manuscripts prior to 1830. No corroborating artifacts. LDS scholars can't even agree on what language it was written in! The result is that "ancient BoM studies" does not exist as a legitimate scholarly discipline. (Many LDS scholars will agree with me on this.) Speaking of "the Bible or Book of Mormon" is like speaking of "airplanes and UFOs." The juxtaposition tells us something about the speaker who makes it.

If they agree with the religion-favoring scholarly findings, they won't do so publicly by publishing their review in a journal, unless they have already identified themselves as a believer and are publishing in a journal read by like-minded scholars. If fellow scholars are conversant in the field and disagree with the scholarly findings of the believer, they will jump at the chance to discredit him or her, because doing so can only enhance their reputation among their own predominantly atheist or agnostic academics.

Again, this is not true of biblical scholarship. "Religion-favoring scholarly findings" have indeed survived peer-review, been published in secular academic journals, and been favorably received and respectfully debated by secular scholars. In some cases the "religion-favoring" research has even convinced the initial skeptics and become the scholarly consensus. (For a good example, consider the debates over the historicity of Jesus.) Why has this sort of thing happen in the case of the Bible, but not the BoM?

Let me repeat: In the case of the Bible, religion-favoring research has survived peer-review. It has been published in secular academic journals. It has been respectfully debated by secular scholars. And in some cases it has wound up becoming the scholarly consensus.

And isn't this what people like you want to happen with the BoM---for your views to become the scholarly consensus? If this is what you want, then why not proceed as the Bible scholars have?

-- OK

Anonymous said...

Part Two:

If that fellow scholar is conversant in the field, and knows he or she CAN'T discredit the findings of the religious scholar, he or she will simply remain silent and hope someone else can come along and somehow tear it down. If you, "Anonymous," consider yourself intellectually-oriented, go ahead and dare to read their research yourself and point out where it doesn't meet scholarly standards.

Here you are misrepresenting the scholarly process. So let me remind you: first, the researcher brings his work to the attention of the relevant scholarly community by submitting it for publication and having it peer-reviewed by the appropriate experts. This is the responsibility of the researcher; it is NOT the responsibility of "intellectually oriented" skeptics who are not experts in the field. The fact is I have read much of this research myself, and have responded to it in detail here on Mormanity. But that's no substitute for genuine peer review. In other words, what you're calling for here has already happened. What I'm calling for here is what needs to happen if these researchers wish to be effective outside the tiny little world of the Church.

Also, of course, the mere fact that researchers like Carmack are not submitting the work in question to secular academic journals is in itself a demonstration that their work "doesn't meet scholarly standards."

Finally, let me remind everyone that I'm not asking for anything unreasonable here. I am merely calling on BoM apologists like Carmack to "dare" to do what so many biblical scholars have done, which is simply to submit their potentially world-changing research to secular academic journals.

So please, stop making excuses for why LDS scholars cannot do as the Bible scholars have done. No peer review, no respect.

-- OK

Scott Mitchell said...

Anonymous,

How carefully have you considered your argument that "scholars have corroborated the historicity of the Bible on many occasions." So scholars have proven that Jesus really did resurrect, huh? That he did all those other miracles, too? Have they proven the Adam and Eve story from the Garden of Eden? That Enoch never died, but was taken up into heaven? That Moses did all those miracles in Egypt, then parted the Red Sea, then struck a rock with a stick and water came rushing out? That Elijah called down fire from heaven which burned up a huge stone altar and a pool of water, then raised a child from the dead? As you know, I could go on. Archaeologists have found proof that David existed. They have no proof of Solomon, nor of his temple. They can't prove the historicity of any biblical figure before David, including Moses. In fact, they've never located any Egyptian records of the Israelites living there. They have found ruins of places mentioned in the Bible, but there are more places they haven't found than places they've found. And the only reason they've found any places which they can identify is because the area has been continuously inhabited by people who kept the old place names. But when new invaders take over an area and rename its towns and cities, or destroy them, within a short time it becomes impossible to find the ancient biblical place. Let's do an experiment: Please name me a noted scientist who believes "the historicity of the Bible has been corroborated" scientifically.

Scott Mitchell said...

Anonymous,

The second point is that the same kind of proof that exists for the Bible is the kind that HAS been found for the Book of Mormon. Nahom (NHM in Arabic) has been located exactly where the Book of Mormon indicates it should be, and it dates back to before 600 B.C. A place fitting the description of the Book of Mormon's first Bountiful has been found exactly where the Book of Mormon indicates it should be, almost due east of Nahom, and it's the only place on the entire coast of Oman that fits the description. A steel sword dating back to 600 BC has been found and is on display in Jerusalem's Museum of Israel. That true steel existed in Israel this early was not known until recently. Writing on metal plates, unknown in the early 1800s, has been found all over the Middle East, in the Americas, and even in Europe. 25 % of the Uto-Aztecan language family has been shown to be derived from Syriac, Phoenician, Hebrew, Aramaic and Egyptian. It was not known in 1829, but later discoveries would show that Mesoamerican civilization consisted of multiple written languages, incredibly large city-states and metropolises made of cement and stone, and warfare and genocide on an immensely large scale of lost human life which was not paralleled in the territories now comprising the United States. The problem with your assertion is that you're only bolstering my point. Scholars who believe that all or most of the factual assertions of the Bible are true historical events do not get corroboration from peer review in academia. Go ahead and try to prove me wrong. Show me a favorable peer review. Some scholars may show through their research that there was a historical Jesus of Nazareth, but if they claim he was really born of a virgin, and was the offspring of God, they are immediately derided into oblivion, professionally shunned by academia, and their reputation is destroyed.

Scott Mitchell said...

Anonymous,
To continue, the exact same kind of favorable peer review biblical archaeologists, linguists and theologians have received, has been received by Book of Mormon archaeologists, linguists and theologians. Ph.Ds who believe in BoM authenticity do research, and write scholarly articles and books, and other Mormon Ph.Ds, as well as many other interested scholars and laymen, read the findings and generally accept them. That's the way it works with the Bible, too. Biblical archaeologists, linguists and theologians read and accept each others' articles. But atheist or agnostic scientists don't believe the Bible or the Book of Mormon, and thus will never favorably review a study that argues either book to be a true record. The academic credentials of the two groups are the same. The only difference is that non-Mormon scholars who work to demonstrate biblical historicity are not enthusiastic about studying the Book of Mormon, whereas Mormon scholars ARE enthusiastically working to show the historicity of both books. That fact that you're unaware of BoM scholarship and don't follow it, doesn't mean it's not there. Mormon scholars go to the same prestigious universities and get the same degrees as their biblical counterparts.

I hate to keep putting you on the spot, but again, I must point out that while you claim to be conversant with the research of Skousen and Carmack and Stubbs and others, you still refuse to deal with its substance. You continually hide behind the supposed lack of available peer review. I believe you're showing not only your own unfamiliarity with the BoM research in question, but with the peer review process in general for scholars who believe in BoM or Bible historicity. Noted archaeologist John E. Clark has spoken and written at length about this peer review process. Clark has a B.S. and M.S. from BYU and a Ph.D from the University of Michigan. He has received plenty of favorable peer review from secular archaeologists for his work in Mesoamerica. But getting positive peer review from these same peers for anything that might imply Book of Mormon historicity simply isn't possible. (See my next post for a quote from him on this topic.)

Scott Mitchell said...

(Continued from last post) Here are excerpts from Clark:

"My archaeology does not concern the Book of Mormon and never has. I would never attempt to prove the book’s message by science, and I think such efforts are a foolish waste of time—not because there is no evidence, but because the evidence cannot make a difference in the ways imagined. I tell Mormon friends that if I found an artifact that would make a significant difference, such as the golden plates, I would bury it and keep my mouth shut. This is rhetorical exaggeration, of course, to drive home the point that, as a practicing Mormon, I would have no credibility on the matter. I would be the last one in the profession to be believed if Book of Mormon related artifacts were found. In reality, I would not dream of spinning the data found in my archaeology even if confronted with such an artifact.

"It is not my intent to write a treatise on Book of Mormon arguments and philosophical approaches. My message to those who might be interested is the simple one that I know the Book of Mormon well and the archaeological data from Middle America very well. The juxtaposition of the two causes me no intellectual heartburn or loss of faith.

"Mormon colleagues have argued with me, vehemently, that, with enough of the right kind of evidence, objective seekers of truth will be persuaded of the book’s truth and cover story. I tell them that their model of science and objective seekers does not approximate my experience with scientists. My closest non-Mormon academic colleagues accept or tolerate my Mormonism; others are annoyed with it. They think I must be doing something nefarious on the side. To deny such a charge would be to give it credence. The issue at stake is whether I can be an “objective” scientist and Mesoamerican archaeologist if I believe in the Book of Mormon. I try my best to be. Since I’m not selling Mormonism, and they’re not buying it, there has been no reason to attempt discussion of personal biases or to explore the parameters on which such a discussion could even occur. Some colleagues think that I must compartmentalize my religious beliefs and my archaeological queries and avoid mixing them for fear of explosion. This explanation comes close to accusing me of double-mindedness. My own cognitive model for how I think is that I treat both topics in the same way, and with the same logical standards. I don’t tolerate nonsense from Mormons or non-Mormons, whatever their credentials."

I once heard a panel discussion where Clark was talking about peer review specifically. He said there's no such thing when it comes to asking non-Mormon peers to review some work that might suggest BoM historicity. They wouldn't agree to it, they'd be offended that you asked, and they'd lose professional respect for you.

Scott Mitchell said...

(Continued from last post)

A few final thoughts: First, the presence of Bible manuscripts dating back to the Dead Sea Scrolls does impress scientists as proof of anything other than the documents' existence. All that means to them is beliefs in non-historical myths and legends date back a long time, which they were already aware of. And they're right--the manuscripts' existence doesn't prove the truth of what the manuscripts say.

Second, to say no manuscript of the BoM exists is to reveal your personal bias and abandonment of logic. The gold-colored plates were seen by twelve men, who gave a statement to the world that they saw them and handled them. In a court of law, that's very strong evidence that a manuscript written on plates did exist, especially since most of those men left Mormonism and felt Joseph faked other non-BoM-related claims. Joseph Smith said the angel required him to return the plates to him after the translation was complete, which, if true, provides a logical explanation as to why we don't have the plates today. Using scientific reasoning, we can't logically say something didn't ever exist because we haven't personally seen it during our own lives. The ark of the covenant, the Jewish temples, and the swords from the Battle of Hastings are not to be found, either. Nor have we seen angels. What does that prove? If you don't believe Joseph Smith had any dealing with an angel, then logically, you must count yourself as another one of those who don't really think the angels of the Bible were real, either, which impeaches your prior point about the historicity of the Bible having been proven.

Over the next few days, I'm going to do some personal investigation into the availability of scholarly linguistic journals to review Book of Mormon-authenticating papers like those Skousen and Carmack have produced. Can you name any you think would be willing to review that kind of work? I can, and will, obtain a small list on my own of linguistic journals, but I'm not aware of any that would agree to read the Book of Mormon critical text as part of their review. But if you do know of some, I hope you'll share your info and save me some time.

Anonymous said...

Can you name any you think would be willing to review that kind of work?

Well, I see that Brian Stubbs has published in International Journal of American Linguistics. Beyond that I would search for journals in the fields of "historical linguistics" and "comparative linguistics."

So scholars have proven that Jesus really did resurrect, huh?

No, of course not. But secular scholarship has demonstrated the existence of many of the people, places, and events mentioned in the Bible. These would be among the "many occasions" on which scholars have demonstrated the Bible's historicity. I did not mean that scholars had validated every name, place, and incident in the Bible, but that they had done so for many of them --- certainly enough to establish that the Bible is indeed rooted in the history of the ancient Middle East. We all know that there remain plenty of questions on which secular scholarship remains agnostic, and of course the miracle stories are in this category.

So, where is the secular academic peer-reviewed scholarship on Zarahemla? The existence of Zarahemla should be no more miraculous than the existence of Shiloh. But where's the evidence for it? Where's the scholarship?

You don't see academic scholarship divided on the question of whether Shiloh is located in Israel or near, say, Baghdad. You don't see anything like the in-house LDS debate over whether the ruins of Zarahemla should be sought in eastern Iowa or Chiapas, Mexico. That's because the Bible is rooted in an actual ancient history.

The gold-colored plates were seen by twelve men, who gave a statement to the world that they saw them and handled them. In a court of law, that's very strong evidence that a manuscript written on plates did exist, especially since most of those men left Mormonism....

Suppose that I publicly accused you of being a hopeless drunkard, and you sued me for slander, and in court I submitted as evidence a letter, written many years ago, that read like this:

Be it known unto all that we have seen Scott Mitchell passed out in Pioneer Park with an empty bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand. And this we bear record with words of soberness [see what I did there?], that the said Scott Mitchell has said unto us that he finds said whiskey good to the taste. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen and heard. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.

Suppose further that this letter was followed by the names of eight different people, but that these names were not actual signatures but rather were all written in my own hand. Suppose even further that I could not produce the supposed signatories for testimony and cross-examination. When questioned on these matters by the judge, I say that the letter is a printer's copy which I made of the original with the original signatures, prepared for the printer; as for the original letter, gosh darn it, you honor, but I seem to have misplaced it somewhere.*

How far is this statement going to get me in a court of law? Not very far. As evidence goes, it's really, really unreliable. So why in the world do LDS apologists keep giving us this court analogy?

-- OK

* Have you ever wondered about the incredible carelessness of the early Church? It supposedly had the original letter of the eight witnesses, but where is it now? And the Book of Abraham --- if the early Church leaders really believed the papyri to be an Abrahamic document, then they must also have believed they were in possession of one of the world's most important ancient documents. Yet they let it slip away. It would be like the British Museum losing the Rosetta Stone. Oops!

But the seer stone, by gum, that's a different story. The Golden Plates? Gone. The Urim and Thummim? Gone. The original signed statement of the eight witnesses? Gone. But the seer stone? That we still have. Doesn't it seem even a teensie bit odd, Scott?

Scott Mitchell said...

Anonymous,

What I'm about to write today and tomorrow might surprise you. Undoubtedly, it will disappoint some who, like me, believe in BoM authenticity.

There are a couple points on which we seem to agree, at least partially. The "Book of Abraham" papyri, for example. We both agree extreme negligence in caring for the papyrus was involved. This is true regardless of whether those papyri actually said anything about Abraham. I think said negligence is attributable to Joseph Smith, not to the church as a whole. Joseph let them go unaccounted for, and it's unfathomable that he would, given what he'd been through with the lost 116 pages of the BoM. And if you're trying to get me to defend Book of Abraham authenticity, don't bother. I won't. Why? Because the case for BoM authenticity is infinitely stronger than the case for the Book of Abraham. In fact, I've written an essay on the Book of Abraham in which I discuss all the areas where the provenance is deficient. I try to follow the evidence, and go where it leads me, even if it leads to conclusions other LDS believers consider untenable.

The same is true of the supposed seer stone. The provenance behind it is pitifully bad, based on multiple hearsay statements from multiple possessors. Simply from an epistemological standpoint, if we know that Joseph Smith wrote or dictated a detailed autobiographical history, which he did, and we find nary a word in that history about his use of an orange-and-black-striped egg-shaped stone to translate the Book of Mormon, we should never accept it as authentic merely because a bunch of people who possessed it are repeating hearsay statements about its authenticity. This is true regardless of whether we accept Joseph's version of his own history as accurate or not. If his history is accurate, and it doesn't mention this relic, that casts doubt on it. If his own history isn't accurate, hearsay statements reported to have been made by him in private conversations are even less accurate. They're no more credible than hearsay statements reported by polygamist men to have been made by him to the effect that an angel with a sword twice threatened to kill him if he didn't take additional wives. We should accept such pathetic evidence. People always want their possessions to prove extremely significant and valuable, and so they have a motive to repeat, and then embellish, every statement made to them that shines a positive light on that item. That's why we have successful TV shows like Antiques Roadshow. But I'm sure you and I both agree it was a mistake for the LDS Church to tout that stone to the world as the BoM seer stone. I would have the same opinion even if I knew the stone was authentic, because I would also know that the LDS church was being far too careless in its evaluation of evidence.

The testimony of the eight witnesses is an entirely different matter, however. The missing signed statement is a red herring that has no bearing on whether the eight men actually witnessed what they said they witnessed. Why? Because all eight men lived their lives in accordance with that statement. Every single one made crystal clear, till the day he died, that his belief in the authenticity of the Book of Mormon was unshakeable. Even the Whitmers and Hiram Page, who all left the main church body and worshipped separately, maintained the Book of Mormon as the foremost scripture in their lives. Though they concluded that Joseph Smith had faked many of the revelations in the D&C, they all knew the Book of Mormon had not been been faked. But if your point is that the signed statement should have been preserved, if it existed at all, I agree with you. On the other hand, since the eight men knew the BoM was being distributed around the world with their statement in the front of it, and they never objected, that says something too. I'll address your other points tomorrow.

Scott Mitchell said...

Anonymous:

Your reference to Zarahemla is surprising. Mesoamerica is different from Israel in some very obvious ways: There are ruins of huge, major city-states all over the place whose names we don't know. Places like El Mirador, La Venta, Tres Zapotes, San Lorenzo, Piedras Negras, Santa Rosa, Monte Alban, etc. Why are we using Spanish names for places that date to before Christ? Because we have no way of knowing what the original place name was. The people who once lived there have been destroyed, and the language they spoke is lost to history, A few places we can identify because of recovered glyphs and Codices in certain places, but for most places, we just don't know the name of the place. Moreover, most of the ancient Mesoamerican cities are still buried under dense vegetation. And, no historian who spoke a still-extant language compiled an onomasticon and a map, like Eusebius did for the Bible, to help modern scholars identify places. The methodological errors in thinking Book of Mormon locations ought to be identified today are thoroughly and insightfully addressed in a 1993 article by William Hamblin, entitled "Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon" Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (Spring 1993) pp. 161-197, but see pp. 162-170 specifically. From Hamblin:

"As an example of shifts in the names of cities based on conquest and linguistic changes, we need look no further than Jerusalem. From the Canaanite u-ru-sa-lim derived the Hebrew Yerushalem or Yerushalayim. The city was also frequently called the City of David, and Zion, giving four common names for Jerusalem in the Old Testament alone. The Greeks called the city both Ierousalem and Hierosolyma; the Latins retained Hierosolyma. However, following the Roman conquest in A.D. 135, the emperor Hadrian changed the name to Aelia Capitolina. It retained its identity as Jerusalem only because Christians eventually came to dominate the Roman Empire and changed the name back. Following the Muslim conquests, however, the city was called Aliya (from the Roman Aelia), Bayt al- Maqdis, or al-Quds, as it still is by Palestinians today. If Christianity had been exterminated rather than becoming the dominant religion of the Roman empire, what linguistic evidence would we have that al-Quds of today was the ancient Jerusalem?"

For a place name to be preserved, and for the place to be identifiable, it has to be visible. Too, either records have to survive that we can actually read, which unambiguously identify certain ascertainable features with a particular place name, or inhabitants have to continuously live in the place from Book of Mormon times to now, who have never allowed the place name to be altered. That's not the way Mesoamerican history has been, and the Book of Mormon doesn't suggest otherwise. Mesoamerican history shows that when conquerors came into a city, they killed the inhabitants, tore down their monuments, changed the place names and the prevailing language, and built on top of the conquered city's ruins. So, we know the Olmecs were there, but we can't read their glyphs or writings. And since they all died out or mixed in with other ethnicities, how could the names of their cities be preserved? We don't even know what they called themselves. How could we know? The same is true of the Nephites. How in the world could archaeology tell us where Zarahemla was? More later

For these same reasons, we can't find Mount Sinai--there are 20 different candidates. We don't know the Exodus route. Nor can we match the ancient places mentioned in old records from western Anatolia with known locations.

Scott Mitchell said...

Anon--You mentioned peer review afforded to Brian Stubbs, whom you had previously identified as having published his Uto-Aztecan studies without peer review. I don't know whether you're conceding the peer review argument with respect to Brian or not, but just in case, I offer this: In his seminal work, "Exploring the Explanatory Power of Semitic and Egyptian in Uto-Aztecan", Stubbs reveals that he has had positive peer review from Roger William Wescott, David H. Kelley, Stephen Ricks, Paul Hoskisson, John S. Robertson, Mary Ritchie Key and two other Ph.D linguists specializing in Uto-Aztecan. Regarding Wescott: "[F]irst in his Princeton class, Ph.D in linguistics, Rhodes scholar at Oxford, President of the Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States, author of 500 articles and 40 books, calls Brian's work 'a strong link between the Uto-Aztecan and Afro-Asiatic languages.' " Regarding Kelly: "Harvard Ph.D who published in anthropology, linguistics, Uto-Aztecan, and contributed to the decipherment of the Mayan glyphs, said upon reciving an earlier draft: 'The thick thing came in the mail and I did not want to tackle it, but dutifully opened it, intending to look at a page or two. However, I started to read and ended up reading the whole book. It is the most interesting and significant piece of research I have seen in years.' "

Scott Mitchell said...

Anon-Regarding peer review for Skousen and Carmack:

Every article Carmack or Skousen ever published in the Mormon Interpreter was peer-reviewed. Skousen himself, whose credentials you haven't questioned, has been the one of the peers for two of Carmack's papers. From talking with both men in the past, I know that the peer review process is not just so much rubber-stamping. In fact, both men have been extra-careful not to over-hype the implications of their findings. They both know that Book of Mormon critics are scrutinizing every word they say, hoping to pounce on any identifiable flaw in methodology or reasoning. Generally, at Mormon Interpreter, two scholars per submission are asked to do peer review before a paper gets published. The last two papers submitted by Carmack were peer-reviewed by two linguists who remained anonymous, so as to prevent possible personal relationships from influencing the review process. Yes, this is a private organization run by Mormons, but the scholarly peer review over Book of Mormon papers submitted there is conducted with high professional standards, and by professionally qualified scholars.

As far as the critical text project of the Book of Mormon is concerned, the 2001 rendering of the original and printer's manuscripts were reviewed by John Welch and Richard Rust (textual critic, now emeritus professor at University of North Carolina). All six parts of the Analyis of Textual Variants project, which produced 4000+ pages of textual analysis, were reviewed by David Calabro, a first rate scholar with a degree from the University of Chicago. He also reviewed most of the two-part volume "The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon: Grammatical Variation." Carmack also reviewed the 1279 pages of Grammatical Variation and soon-to-be-published 1400-page book entitled The Nature of the Original Language, describing the vocabulary, phrases and expression of the Book of Mormon critical text. Grant Hardy, another internationally-recognized scholar who happens to be Mormon, has reviewed Anaysis of Textual Variants and Grammatical Variations (ATV) in print, both in the Oxford University Press book and in BYU Studies. Seth Perry formerly of the University of Chicago Divinity School at now a professor at Princeton, has reviewed ATV in print. Also Paul Gutjahr of Indiana University has reviewed Skousen's work in his Princeton book on the Book of Mormon. Parry and Gutjahr are non-Mormons and highly respected scholars in religious studies.

Regarding Skousen's The Book of Mormon, the Earliest Text, published by Yale: Hardy wrote the introduction, but he also reviewed the content, including the preface. It was also reviewed for Yale University Press by Terryl Givens, Richard Bushman, and the famous Emanuel Tov (editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and not a Mormon), and it passed muster.

Scott Mitchell said...

Anon--Skousen relates that from his very first article on BoM textual criticism (in BYU Studies, which was reviewed in advance by two people) to his latest article and book, everything has had peer-review.

Carmack, in discussing his experience with peer review by linguistics scholars who are unfamiliar with the Book of Mormon, and uninterested in religious texts, notes the political nature of the review process and how it affect scholars' receptiveness to his and Skousen's findings. "Appropriately stripped-down versions with references to deity or the supernatural eliminated, might get through. But most will still deem them politically incorrect, because the Book of Mormon is a controversial text, and the extensive use of extra-biblical Early Modern English strongly supports Joseph Smith not being the author." Nevetheless, Carmack is aware of one eminent linguist who has reviewed his comparative work and hasn't dismissed his BoM-EModE correspondences as unlikely. If Carmack is able to eliminate enough of the "religion" from a paper outlining his Book of Mormon textual research in the future, which he is mulling, and does submit his findings it to a scholarly journal, the most probable candidate would be the Journal of English Linguistics, because of its area of emphasis. But the problem facing him, and those like him, is evident. Linguists with no interest in the subject will necessarily have to jump into the world of Book of Mormon provenance to adequately review his work in this area.

In my next post, I'll address your last point.

Scott Mitchell said...

Anon--Regarding your analogy of you introducing the statement proving me to be a drunkard: [BTW, your "words of soberness" was a clever insertion, I admit. I laughed.] You asked: "How far is this statement going to get me in a court of law? Not very far. As evidence goes, it's really, really unreliable. So why in the world do LDS apologists keep giving us this court analogy?"

First of all, I've never read this court analogy that you claim is so prevalent among LDS "apologists." I'll take your word for it that you have, however. I'm not an LDS apologist myself, so I wouldn't know. I do confess to being a Book of Mormon apologist, but only because I've been scrutinizing every aspect of it for 24 years now, and unlike several other claims, it holds up. In fact, its case is bolstered more and more each day.

Here's why your analogy doesn't work: First of all, in a court of law, there would be no hearing on the admissibility of your proffered statement, because it would be summarily rejected not only because it can't be authenticated, but because it's hearsay, regardless of whether you had the original signed document or not. And the reason it's hearsay is because those making the statement have to be subject to cross-examination so their veracity can be tested, and they're not. So you're right to point out that this statement has no value under these circumstances. But in my court example, I DIDN'T assume the absence of those making the statement at the time the statement was offered to prove the truth of its assertion. During their lives, the eight witnesses, as well as the other witnesses, were always available for cross-examination by anyone who might want to test the veracity of their statement, or their part in making it. The court case I posit lasts decades, taking place in the 1830s through the 1880s, during which time the men in question can be questioned on the witness stand, or otherwise, regarding the reality of the plates. But in your hypothetical, there is no evidence of any kind to support you. You can ask for a continuance to try to round up the witnesses, but if you're unsuccessful, summary judgment will be granted against you.

Your example, on the other hand, IS analogous to a different situation. Suppose in a Dialogue-sponsored written debate, I'm alleging that Joseph Smith's defrauded people out of money by persuading them to contribute to his fake presidential campaign. I contend that JS never really ran for president, and I offer as proof the absence of the form he was required to sign declaring his candidacy for president and placing his name on the ballot. It cannot be located anywhere, and it's been missing for 170 years. But you, in defending JS's reputation against this allegation, produce an Illinois presidential ballot containing his name as a candidate, numerous journal entries reporting Joseph's campaign speeches, and newspaper articles reporting campaign rallies where Joseph and his opponents spoke against each other. You even cite to, as your coup de grace, a record showing JS resigned from his lucrative job as Elections Commissioner to run for president. All eyewitnesses to these things are long since dead. How persuavive is my missing signed form to prove JS never ran for president?

The question I think you should ask yourself, is whether, in your heart of hearts, you want the Book of Mormon to be true. If you find that you really don't, can you say in all honesty that your desire that it not be true has no influence over how objectively you examine the evidence offered as proof of its authenticity? Can you also truthfully say that your reaction to BoM authenticity claims are not colored by your feelings about many other aspects of the LDS Church? Can you truly judge BoM arguments separately, on their own merits, regardless of whether Mormonism is right or wrong in other instances? Isn't that what intellectual integrity requires?

Anonymous said...

http://www.academia.edu/185247/_Mormon_Scholarship_Apologetics_and_Evangelical_Neglect_Losing_the_Battle_and_Not_Knowing_It_

Fred & Anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Shorter Scott Mitchell: There is still no scholarship whatsoever that (a) supports the authenticity of the Book of Mormon as an ancient document and (b) has made it past non-Mormon peer review.

Oddly enough, there is plenty of scholarship that (a) supports the authenticity of the Bible as an ancient document and (b) has made it past secular peer review.

Genuine ancient cultures leave real archaeological and textual traces. Fictional ones do not.

After all these years of trying, the Church has got zilch, because the its claims just aren't true. The Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price are 19th-century documents. To every non-Mormon scholar, this is obvious. All the evidence points that way.

Sorry.

--OK

Jeff Lindsay said...

Scott, pay attention to OK's comments here. It is a valuable and instructive example of the opposite of scholarship and reminds us how meaningless it can be to engage zealous critics driven by an agenda where evidence, logic, and data are irrelevant. When you see such horrifically irresponsible statements like "ALL the evidence" supports their theory or NO non-LDS scholars see any merit in the evidence, or claim that their stance is universally obvious to ALL scholars other than Mormons, when it most certainly is not, then you know you are dealing with a person incapable or unwilling of weighing the complexities of evidence and the diversity of views that actually occur regarding LDS scriptures.

OK has openly admitted that he despises the Church for its stance on same-sex marriage and related social issues, and thus his goal is not to weigh evidence but to undermine the credibility of the Church. Presenting evidence of any kind stirs a gag reflex. The fact that he is a retired professor and able to write great swelling words while sharing seemingly strong talking points does not mean he has weighed the evidence seriously for one moment.

OK is the one who once demanded a specific piece of evidence if Book of Mormon claims are to be taken seriously. He said it would help if we could at least show a Mayan glyph that means "and it came to pass." When such a glyph was promptly provided by one of my readers, with some interesting details, he merely chuckled and moved on with the next attack. Not even an admission that it could represent a tiny, weak scrap of evidence to be considered. Naturally, in his agenda-driven view, there can be no evidence. Only an agenda of loathing.

Real scholars have grand biases that blind them in many cases, but they are still often willing to admit that there are limitations to their theories or that the other side may have some evidence in their favor. Real scholars might also recognize that there are other non-LDS scholars who have been impressed with some of the evidence (e.g., Margaret Barker, or other scholars with expertise in chiasmus). And real scholars would recognize that there are some impressive bits of evidence for things like the plausibility of Lehi's trail, including data from peer-reviewed LDS writers and non-LDS scholars.

Blanket statements claiming the scholars of the world are completely in favor of their position are a red flag. Don't expect genuine engagement. But, since those unfamiliar with the real landscape of evidence may be influenced by such pompous statements, it is important that we speak out and remind those seeking for real answers that there are some and that there is some noteworthy evidence that should be pondered. Not to prove our case, but to help sincere people overcome the seemingly solid barriers to faith that OK and others try to erect.

He remains welcome here, but we must understand where is coming from and why his anonymous remarks do not rise to the level of serious scholarship, appearances or claims notwithstanding.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, you write that my "goal is not to weigh evidence but to undermine the credibility of the Church." But of course I have done a great deal of evidence-weighing here. For example, when I argue that the EModE Carmack claims to have found in the Book of Mormon is a methodological artifact, I am weighing evidence.

But yes, I am a skeptic who thinks the Church's authority is bogus and who wants to undermine it. Just as you, Jeff, are a believer who thinks the Church's authority is legitimate and who wants to justify it.

Ye who are without sin, etc.

Yes, neither of us is unbiased. Both of us start from strongly held beliefs. You are not a whit less biased than I am. Each of us has an agenda.

To which I say, So what?

The important thing is that you continue to evade the basic question I keep raising: Where's the scholarship that is (1) published in secular peer-reviewed academic journals, and that (2) supports the antiquity of the Book of Mormon?

Where is it?

Nowhere!

It doesn't exist.

In another thread, a commenter listed a bunch of articles that he thought came close to qualifying as "scholarship that is (1) published in secular peer-reviewed academic journals, and that (2) supports the antiquity of the Book of Mormon." But none of his examples actually make the grade. Some of them meet criterion (1) but not (2). Others meet (2) but not (1). None of them meet both.

How odd!

By way of comparison, there is a mountain of scholarship that is (1) published in secular peer-reviewed academic journals, and that (2) supports the antiquity of the Bible.

For the Bible, there is plenty of scholarship that meets both criterion (1) and criterion (2). But for the Book of Mormon there is none.

Zilch.

Nada.

This is the glaring fact that justifies my blanket statements. This is the glaring fact that, in the millions of words you have written for this blog, you have never once adequately addressed.

I do, however, very much appreciate your graciousness and ethics as a blog host. And you are right that my "anonymous remarks do not rise to the level of serious scholarship." I have never claimed them to be "serious scholarship." Nothing that is written on this blog is serious scholarship. Who would expect it to be? It's a blog, not an academic journal. At best it amounts to discussion about scholarship, serious and otherwise.

-- OK

RTM9999 said...

Name the peer reviewed articles that conclude that the Bible is an actual product of the time frame that is claimed in the Bible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guess what you won't find it ( There are attempts by Christian Apologists to explain the evidence for the Flood,etc. however good luck trying to get any scholar/geologist to accept those explanations.) .

Here I'll help you along with a couple of SPECIFIC questions and statements that are peer reviewed and show that YOU are glossing over the actual stance of scholars.

So do you believe that the Earth is only roughly 6,000 years old and that everything recorded w/in the Bible is w/o a doubt historically accurate? Did mankind actually descend from Adam and Eve ( That are described as being created by God) or are you the descendant of chimps ( That ultimately descended from a one celled organism that sprang forth from a pool of ooze. ) ?

How far are you willing to go to defend YOUR claims concerning the Bible?

If only you could be as critical of the Bible evidence as you are of the BoM evidence.
Evidence for a Flood
Sediment layers suggest that 7,500 years ago Mediterranean water roared into the Black Sea
By James Trefil
smithsonian.com
April 1, 2000

RTM9999 said...

More for Anon
Evidence for the Exodus from Rational Wiki
"William Dever, an archaeologist normally associated with the more conservative end of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, has labeled the question of the historicity of Exodus “dead.” Israeli archaeologist Ze'ev Herzog provides the current consensus view on the historicity of the Exodus;[5]
“”The Israelites never were in Egypt. They never came from abroad. This whole chain is broken. It is not a historical one. It is a later legendary reconstruction — made in the seventh century [BCE] — of a history that never happened.

Professor of Ancient History and Archaeology Eric H. ClineWikipedia's W.svg also summarizes the scholarly consensus in his book Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction (published by Oxford University Press and winner of the 2011 Biblical Archaeology Society's "Best Popular Book on Archaeology");[6]

Despite attempts by a number of biblical archaeologists — and an even larger number of amateur enthusiasts — over the years, credible direct archaeological evidence for the Exodus has yet to be found.

While it can be argued that such evidence would be difficult to find, since nomads generally do not leave behind permanent installations, archaeologists have discovered and excavated nomadic emplacements from other periods in the Sinai desert.
So if there were archaeological remains to be found from the Exodus, one would have expected them to be found by now. And yet, thus far there is no trace of the biblical "600,000 men on foot, besides children" plus "a mixed crowd...and live stock in great numbers" (Exod. 12:37-38) who wandered for forty years in the desert."


IOWs The scholars date the writing of the first books of the Bible to roughly the 7th Century BC and the Flood is seen as happening after the Earth started to warm after the Ice Age roughly 20,000 years ago.

Which of course does not match the dating called for in the first five book of the Bible.

RTM9999 said...

Yet more for Anon

According to scholars the Genesis story of the Flood finds an earlier telling from a story about Gilgamesh.

Even the story of Moses is found in another cultures myths.

Thus the Bible is actually seen by scholars as a faulty attempt to create a "nation of people" that were merely Canaanites that wanted to create a history for those Canaanites that would separate them from the other Canaanites that occupied the same area.
Thus the scholars don't believe the stories of Adam and Eve, the Fall, The Flood, The Ark, ( Especially in regards to all the species being saved by being taken aboard the Ark.) ,etc. ! They especially don't believe that the Nation of Israel spent 400 years in Egypt as slaves and that the number of descendants cited in the Bible could have possibly originated from the sons of Jacob and their wives that migrated to Egypt and then ended up being enslaved by the Egyptians.

So there is "ZILCH" and "NADA" to back up YOUR claims.
This is the glaring hypocrisy in YOUR stance since you want to claim that there is all sorts of evidence to support YOUR stance concerning the Bible and none to support the stance of believers in the BoM.

Yup in Israel they've found evidence that some sites existed that are mentioned in the Bible and names that are mentioned have been found however that is far from creating a blanket endorsement from the scholars that the Bible is historically accurate and written in the time frame that is claimed from it's pages.

That does not take the place of actual evidence that even supports the date for the claimed timing of the Bible.