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Ryan Dahle

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About Ryan Dahle

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  1. I guess the real concern is why you feel so sure that an inspired/revealed English text should contain no KJV "errors" in the first place. Latter-day Saints believe in a God that provides some evidence for his revealed truths and gospel, but who doesn't want to make the case too logically compelling. Imagine if Joseph Smith produced an English text that in most ways agreed with the most likely variants from the earliest Bible manuscripts--variants that for the more part wouldn't be discovered and carefully analyzed for many years after his death. That would be a pretty strong evidence for his prophetic gifts--probably too strong. So in my view God was perfectly fine with allowing the Book of Mormon to be intertextually linked with imperfect biblical variants. He had a very logical reason to do so, and in most cases the discrepancies don't have any bearing whatsoever on essential doctrines and principles. Its a lot like a parent that doesn't correct their child's bad grammar at every turn. Instead, they assume that over time the child will discover the errors in their mode of expression and adapt accordingly on their own. For the mean time, it is good enough.
  2. "The IRS has published Revenue Ruling 2007-41, which outlines how churches, and all 501(c)(3) organizations, can stay within the law regarding the ban on political activity. Also, the ban by Congress is on political campaign activity regarding a candidate; churches and other 501(c)(3) organizations can engage in a limited amount of lobbying (including ballot measures) and advocate for or against issues that are in the political arena. The IRS also has provided guidance regarding the difference between advocating for a candidate and advocating for legislation." See https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/charities-churches-and-politics "In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status." See https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/lobbying "Whether an organization’s attempts to influence legislation, i.e., lobbying, constitute a substantial part of its overall activities is determined on the basis of all the pertinent facts and circumstances in each case. The IRS considers a variety of factors, including the time devoted (by both compensated and volunteer workers) and the expenditures devoted by the organization to the activity, when determining whether the lobbying activity is substantial." See https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/measuring-lobbying-substantial-part-test It seems the question is really about how much legislative activity is too much. The IRS's guidelines are vague. I'm guessing, though, that the Church's lawyers have a pretty good idea about what crosses the line and feel that the Church's legislative activities do not constitute a "substantial part" of its activities.
  3. Ryan Dahle

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    Well, I disagree with this and essentially every main point you have made in this latest post. But it has been good for me to sort of test some of your thinking, which helps me assess where you are going with your general theory and why. I doubt we are going to get anywhere with this discussion, so I won't offer my rebuttal, which would necessarily be rather lengthy. Thanks for the good conversation. I appreciate it.
  4. Ryan Dahle

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    I don't think you can support this view. Nephi says the people were ripe in iniquity and that is why the Lord destroyed them. This is what I mean by vengeance. Nephi says nothing that indicates he endorses offensive war, mass slaughter, or slavery. He is simply setting up a dichotomy between good people and evil people to persuade his brothers to follow him. You are reading in what you want to be in there. But it's not in there. So you think Nephi didn't know that the Israelites waged an offensive war against the Canaanites, a war which, by divine mandate, required the killing of women and children and livestock? Come on. Nephi and Laman and Lemuel all knew that the Lord commanded the Israelites to utterly destroy some of the Canaanite cities using human agents, just like he used Nephi to slay Laban. Nephi says that the Lord cursed the land "unto [the Canaanite's] destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it (v. 35)." Nephi also explained that after the children of Israel had "crossed the river Jordan he did make them mighty unto the driving out of the children of the land, yea, unto the scattering them to destruction." (v. 32). Who made the Israelites "mighty unto the driving out of the children of the land" and "unto the scattering them to destruction"? Obviously Nephi is ascribing the success of their military prowess to God, who expressly commanded the people to take brutal offensive military actions. Sorry, but Nephi clearly was supporting and condoning God's use of human agents to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan in an offensive war that, in some cases, involved the utter destruction of their enemies. I don't see how you can get around this. You are reading out of the text what you don't want to be there. I think you know that the issue is about the underlying ethical principle which is at the heart of this debate. Nephi committed a violent action that he would have otherwise not have done, solely because the Lord commanded him to do so. That is the point. It is a solid example of the Book of Mormon (from its major founding prophet, no less) teaching that what the Lord commands is right, even if it runs contrary to our current moral sensibilities or typical moral expectations. That is Nephi's clear moral message, which is never contradicted by any other teaching in the text. We actually see a similar example to Nephi's experience presented in the text--this time of justified attempted homicide: "And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son" (Jacob 4:5). Once again, the Book of Mormon affirms that following God is right, even if he commands an individual to kill his own child. The fact that in this case Abraham wasn't required to go through with the commandment is beside the point. The underlying moral message remains the same: obedience to God trumps all other moral considerations. So that is now four clear instances of the BofM condoning otherwise immoral behavior if God commands it (three of them involving unusual acts of violence): 1. The Israelite's offensive military conquest of Canaan 2. Nephi's slaying of Laban 3. Abraham's attempted sacrifice of Isaac 4. The practice of having many wives We have no record of any people practicing or espousing a Nephite military ethic before modern times. None at all. That is what anachronism is. In fact, I would say there has never been a modern culture that has truly practiced it. It's an ideal. Something to aspire to. That's the beauty of the Book of Mormon. It gives individuals and nations ideals to aspire to. And it turns the OT ideal of obey God no matter what completely on its head. You are avoiding my point. We are repeatedly told that we don't have a hundredth part of the proceedings of the Nehpites, and that statement really captures the larger picture of the ancient world. We only know a small portion of what beliefs and activities actually took place. Because the sample size of the records we have is not very representative, the absence of evidence upon which the argument for anachronism depends is not reliable in the first place. Other nations or people very well could have implemented something like the Nephites' military ethic, and the Nephites very well could have carried out an unusual act of divinely directed punishment against their enemies--and we could easily not know it. Also, the Book of Mormon does NOT turn the OT ideal of obey God no matter what completely on its head. You would have to have an example where God actually commanded someone to do something and the Book of Mormon showed that a character was morally justified for not doing it. That never happens in the text. All we have is a general absence of God commanding offense military actions like we see in the early days of Israelite history. You are then inferring a general principle from this absence of evidence that can't be reliably or even logically inferred--especially if divinely directed offensive military action is the exception rather than the norm, as stated in D&C 98.
  5. Ryan Dahle

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    The way I interpret the killing of Laban is as a transitory event. It's as if the Book of Mormon is telling us this is the old way of doing things. And it ends as soon as we leave Jerusalem. Never again does the Lord command such a thing in the Book of Mormon. And as you pointed out, Nephi is really torn about this decision. The OT prophets are never torn about killing someone when God commanded it. Or, at least when they are, God punishes them for their hesitation. This is a different God than the one in the Book of Mormon. The parts you have bolded are about vengeance belonging to God. They do not say it is ethical to start an offensive war just because God commands it. Well, that is an interesting interpretation. However, it makes just as much sense to view Nephi's statements as corroboration of what is said in D&C 98, which established the Nephite war ethic as being based on the same revelation that God gave to earlier righteous Israelite prophets. If divinely approved offensive warfare is the exception, rather than the rule, then we wouldn't expect to see righteous Nephites engage in offensive warfare, except in very unusual circumstances. Also, outside of Israel's conquest of Canaan, is there an example where the Israelites waged a purely offensive war against other nations on those nations' land, or committed war crimes against their people, in a way that is expressly approved of and justified by righteous or prophetic leaders??? I can't think of any examples, but I am by no means an expert in Jewish military history. Regardless, it seems you missed the point. Nephi approves of and condones the Israelite conquest of Canaan. It's not just about vengeance (in fact Nephi doesn't bring up vengeance at all), its about God using the righteous to destroy the wicked in a holy war. That is the obvious context of Nephi's statements, and he clearly approved of God's means of eradicating the wicked out of the holy land. I haven't claimed that aggressive warfare in the Book of Mormon is not commanded. It's offensive warfare that is off limits. The Nephites are free to defend themselves when their lives and liberties are being threatened. Moroni and the Nephites are participating in a war that was thrust upon them by the aggression of their enemies. Moroni is warning that he is going to stop waging a defensive war and that he is going to begin to wage an offensive war. He is threatening to come into the Lamanite territory and destroy them from off the face of the earth. Again, this is right in line with what is in D&C 98. Defensive war is the norm, but offensive war is a justifiable option in some circumstances--when an enemy repeatedly attacks you (in Moroni's situation) or when God commands (in Nephi's situation or in the situation of the Israelite conquest of Canaan which Nephi justified and condoned). Except, that once again, Nephi expressly approved of Israel's conquest of Canaan and killed Laban based on the same general principle. No matter how much you want to ignore it, the Book of Mormon begins much like Israelites' journey to their own promised land--by justifying human agents who carry out atypical acts of divine punishment. Thus, this is part of the book's military ethic, no matter how hard you look away from it or try to reinterpret it is as being symbolically transitory. That being the case, the argument for anachronism--which is built on the already shaky grounds of trying to prove a negative in the ancient world (i.e. that no prophets or people ever adopted something similar to the Nephite military ethic; or perhaps that it is unlikely that God could have instructed the Nephites to live a higher standard of warfare than contemporary societies; or even that the Nephites simply lived up to this divinely revealed principle better than their Israelite ancestors--all of which are conceivable possibilities)--really falls apart.
  6. Ryan Dahle

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    To the contrary, the Book of Mormon actually does support the idea that aggressive warfare is justified when the Lord commands it. That is made clear at the very beginning, with Nephi's slaying of Laban. Nephi was obviously concerned about the moral justification of slaying Laban, but he completed the task because the Lord commanded it. In his explanation and justification of this event to his readers, Nephi declared the following general principle: "Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes" (1 Nephi 4:13). Nephi affirmed this same principle was in operation when the Israelites conquered the Canaanites. To his brothers, he explained: 1 Nephi 17 "33 And now, do ye suppose that the children of this land, who were in the land of promise, who were driven out by our fathers, do ye suppose that they were righteous? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. 34 Do ye suppose that our fathers would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous? I say unto you, Nay. 35 Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteousis favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it. 36 Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it. 37 And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked. 38 And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes." Moreover, aggressive warfare was justified under certain circumstances. For example, Captain Moroni declared: "And behold, if ye do not this, I will come against you with my armies; yea, even I will arm my women and my children, and I will come against you, and I will follow you even into your own land, which is the land of our first inheritance; yea, and it shall be blood for blood, yea, life for life; and I will give you battle even until you are destroyed from off the face of the earth" (Alma 54:12). We can be assured that Moroni's position was in keeping with the commandments of the Lord because in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord affirmed that offensive warfare is justified in just these type of circumstances, and that this instruction was given to the ancient Nephites through Nephi himself: D&C 98 31 Nevertheless, thine enemy is in thine hands; and if thou rewardest him according to his works thou art justified; if he has sought thy life, and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified. 32 Behold, this is the law I gave unto my servant Nephi, and thy fathers, Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, and all mine ancient prophets and apostles. 33 And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them. Isn't this ethic exactly what you were just saying is NOT found in the Book of Mormon: aggressive offensive warfare being justified, if the Lord commands. We find it in the OT and in the Book of Mormon. It should be noted, however, that after their initial conquest of Canaan, the ancient Israelites weren't fundamentally an aggressive nation bent on conquest or world domination. First of all, they were too weak, militarily, to engage in such pursuits. Moreover, the rebelliousness of their leaders and their general abject state of apostasy shows that their behavior wasn't always in keeping with their moral foundation as represented in the Law of Moses and interpreted and applied by the prophets. Thus even their more aggressive acts of war don't necessarily reflect their founding ethical or moral ideology, which, according to the Book of Mormon was understood and transferred to the Nephite nation through Lehi and Nephi. I think a closer inspection shows that the Book of Mormon presents a military ethic that is very close to the moral ideology propounded in the Law of Moses, and also that ancient Israel's military ethic was less extreme than you have supposed. This of course would argue against your view of Grotius being the author, whom you stated "would never have God command anything that contradicted his system since God is a rational being." In fact, the Book of Mormon presents a God who can make exceptions to his own general moral prescriptions, in both military matters (as discussed above) and in social matters, such as the practice of polygamy (Jacob 2:30).
  7. Ryan Dahle

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    What about all the evidence for ancient origins though? How, for example, do you see your warfare connections to Hugo Grotius as being superior to the ancient connections proposed by scholars familiar with the ancient word: https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen?pub=1108&index=4 https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen?pub=1108&index=5 https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen?pub=1108&index=6 https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen?pub=1108&index=12 https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/node/201 https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1082&index=11 https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/what-was-the-nature-of-nephite-fortifications https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/what-does-archaeology-reveal-about-warfare-during-early-nephite-times https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/why-does-the-book-of-mormon-mention-cimeters The Book of Mormon honestly doesn't seem very anachronistic to me when it comes to ethical warfare. Its ethics seem to be a fairly obvious outgrowth of biblical and ANE legal and cultural concepts. And its accounts of warfare fit very well in a Mesoamerican setting.
  8. Ryan Dahle

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    Why did Galileo continue to explore the idea that the earth revolves around the sun instead of assuming the church was right that the universe was geocentric? He was simply following the evidence. Following the evidence — even in the face of deeply held religious views — is bound to bring about more knowledge and understanding, not less. Evidence-based reasoning has a pretty good track record. Ok, well stated more directly, what is it about the standard narrative that you think lacks sufficient evidence to be believed, and that is inferior compared to your theory?
  9. Ryan Dahle

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    Even if we could date all of these 13 phrases to before the 1700s, we would still have to deal with the if/and conditionals and with the fact that the text seems to have been carefully massaged for a later audience. And then you still have all the speculative assumptions about who produced the text, why he or she produced it, how it got into Joseph's possession, and how God was involved in the whole thing. I guess I've been wondering for a while what is ultimately driving your passion to search for a mystery author in the EModE period instead of just assuming, as Skousen and Carmack do, that the text comes from a being (or beings) on the other side of the veil.
  10. Ryan Dahle

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    Interestingly, I just found that the Hebrew term usually translated as "visit" in the Bible also means "to appoint." https://biblehub.com/str/hebrew/6485.htm Perhaps Helaman 13:10 is saying "visit (appoint) your destruction." [Late addition]: That being said, I think the idea of "too see or witness also works." The OED has definitions with the purpose "to see" and Webster's 1828 has connotations of "to see" in its first two definitions for visit. Maybe it is used in Helaman 13:10 to express both "bringing about destruction (as a punishment)" and also witnessing the destruction. After all "visit" definitely has connotations of transitive movement as well as divine punishment. It could even be a case of extended alternate parallelism where "behold" and "visit" are semi-synonymous words: Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger, and there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your utter destruction; and this shall surely come except ye repent, saith the Lord and those of the fourth generation shall visit your destruction.
  11. Ryan Dahle

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    A number of passages in the Bible are actually quite similar to Helaman 13:10: Hosea 8:13 13 They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but the Lord aaccepteth them not; now will he bremember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to cEgypt. Jeremiah 14:10 10 ¶ Thus saith the Lord unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not arefrained their feet, therefore the Lord doth not accept them; he will now remember their biniquity, and visit their sins. Lamentations 4:22 22 ¶ The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins. Hosea 8:13 13 They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but the Lord aaccepteth them not; now will he bremember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to cEgypt. Hosea 9:9 9 They have deeply acorrupted themselves, as in the days of bGibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins. "Sins" and "iniquity" obviously aren't "destruction," but the oddity of the phrases seems to be the lack of additional clarification through a prepositional phrase. They each have "visit" followed by a possessive pronoun and then the unusual use of "sins/iniquity" as a direct object, just like "destruction" is used as a DO in Helaman 13:10, without any further qualification. I suspect the usage in Helaman 13:10 is just a shortcut way of saying "visit your destruction" upon you or upon your heads. At least, that seems to be what the biblical passages are all saying in regard to sin and iniquity.
  12. Ryan Dahle

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    No, it's Books of Mormon and Bibles. Or Books of Mormon and Books of Abraham. Scripture and Scripture. The point is the given explanation for producing scripture turns out to not always be the actual way the scripture was produced. I'm saying that the evidence for the production of each of these texts is different. We don't have any definitive statements from Joseph or witnesses about how the Book of Abraham was produced. And the Book of Mormon makes it clear it is quoting from the Bible. You are taking something that would certainly be deceptive (Joseph Smith allegedly copying from a manuscript while pretending to dictate from a stone in a hat) and comparing it to other instances where deception can't be assumed. BTW I'm not saying that one instance of deception makes everything else a deception. I'm just showing why resorting to an assumption of repeated deception has serious problems. In each case, I believe the deception would be far more difficult than most people assume, based on the historical data at our disposal. That being said, if Joseph's claims to prophetic gifts began with deception, it would be inviting to see the subsequent miracles as being deceptive as well.
  13. Ryan Dahle

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    Again, completely apples and oranges. Everyone knew he had the plates concealed and probably knew where they were most of the time. They weren't integral to the supposed sleight of hand deception that would have needed to be carried out day after day. Etc.
  14. Ryan Dahle

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    Its not just about "a" paper. Its lots of text on lots of paper over a long period of time. Seriously, try to transcribe the entire book of Mormon onto concealable note cards and then see how easy it would be to read them off for hours on end without looking like you are frequently manipulating something in the hat or below the hat with your hand.
  15. Ryan Dahle

    Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

    Definitely apples and oranges
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