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JarMan

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  1. He seems like a good candidate because of proximity in space and time. But we can't rule out an early modern production. There is almost nothing in the Book of Mormon that can't be identified before about the 1630's. The problem with John Smith is we don't know a lot about him. The ideal candidate has a lifetime of writing about things in the Book of Mormon. Ideally he has written about the bible, war, peace, civilization, Christianity, government, etc. Then we could compare what he's written to the contents in the Book of Mormon. It also wouldn't hurt if he's written history and drama so we know he has the ability and inclination to produce something Book of Mormon-ish. I've combed through literally hundreds of books, papers, sermons, etc to narrow down the candidate list. There are less than ten men on that list. If you know of something written by John Smith I'm happy to research it and compare it to the Book of Mormon. If warranted I'll add him to the list.
  2. No. I’m an early modern author guy.
  3. I feel like too many people are attached to a false dichotomy. The two choices seem to be that either the Book of Mormon is what it says it is or else Joseph Smith made it up. There are many other choices that, for some reason, people don't want to explore. On a spiritual level I accept the Book of Mormon for what it claims to be. But on a physical level I believe there is always a naturalistic explanation for everything that occurs. So I look at the Book of Mormon and say to myself, We have this book here. Where did it come from? Somebody created these words. Everything in the book reflects the thoughts of some actual person who lived and died like every other person. From the broadest perspective possible we have to consider every person who ever lived before 1829 as a possible candidate. This includes Joseph, of course, but also billions of other people. We can quickly eliminate a lot of people. Let's start with the bible in the Book of Mormon and be really conservative. We can exclude as candidates everyone who lived before, let's say, the 3rd century. They wouldn't have the necessary biblical knowledge to produce the Book of Mormon. So now our pool of possible candidates is everyone who lived between 200 and 1829. Our candidates had to have lived within the sphere of influence of the bible so we will need to exclude people who lived in lands un-contacted by outsiders. This probably means the entire western hemisphere, much of Oceania, and parts of Asia and Africa up until Renaissance times or later. Our net is getting smaller but it is still very large and includes millions, possibly billions. I won't play out the whole scenario but without a lot of effort you can continue to shrink the candidate pool based on the contents of the Book of Mormon. At some point you'll have to exclude everyone pre-reformation since the doctrine of the Book of Mormon obviously includes a lot of reformed doctrine. This leaves a pool of people who lived between, say, 1500 and 1829. Now, with a high probability, we can eliminate orthodox Catholics and non-Christians. On the issue of infant baptism we can now eliminate most of the Protestant world, as well. Factor in Arminianism and we can now, with a high degree of certainty, bump up the date to about 1600. On simple doctrinal issues alone this leaves us with a pool of people who lived since about 1600. But it's a very small portion of the Christian world from here that fits the appropriate criteria. The thing is, though, that the beginning date cannot be moved very far forward from 1600. I would argue that we could move it to the 16-teens without much trouble and possibly as late as the 1630's, but no later. This leaves us with roughly 200 years of history in which our candidate had to have lived. As large a range as this is, we can eliminate a lot of the Christian world, namely almost all Catholics, Calvinists, and Lutherans. At this point we have probably narrowed our candidate pool down to less than a hundred thousand people. The more we shrink our pool the less certain we can be that we've inadvertently eliminated the correct person, but a hundred thousand people is still too large to be meaningful. At some point we have to start eliminating people based on their abilities. Our candidate had to either have been very well educated in the bible and various other issues or else a religious savant. Our candidate pool is probably down to less than a thousand people at this point, with a mix of something like 99% or more well-educated and 1% or less savant. It puzzles me why so many people want to believe the Joseph-as-savant story. To me it seems much more likely that a well-educated person existing sometime in the 200 years or so before the Book of Mormon wrote it. The whole point of this lengthy digression is that the paper under discussion did not test against this hypothesis. It sets up a false dichotomy. Either Joseph wrote it or else the Book of Mormon is historical. My take is that people in both the apologetic and critical camps need to start using a little more imagination.
  4. The paper is full of this type of weirdness. Consider the "Strong Christian elements in Maya religion" for example. You would think the differences in Maya religion and Christianity would be a very strong negative correspondence. Somehow it gets turned into a strong correspondence. It's become an axiom that those chasing parallels cannot recognize their own confirmation bias no matter how obvious it is to others.
  5. I was hoping someone would step up and defend the article. Oh well, I made comments on the Interpreter website. Maybe the Dales will respond.
  6. @Burnside This thread isn’t about Book of Mormon geography. Please limit your comments in this discussion to the issue at hand. Thanks.
  7. There was enough known about ancient civilizations in Renaissance times or even earlier to describe virtually every aspect of Book of Mormon civilizations. By about the 1630's all of the doctrinal issues had been described, as far as I can tell. It could have been written any time after that and I would assume the process took years to complete. Joseph merely needed to read it.
  8. I have no doubt a Southeast Asian setting will have almost all of the same correspondences cited by the Interpreter article. Consider these 33 claimed political correspondences: Fundamental level of political organization is the independent city-state, “Capital” or leading city-state dominates a cluster of other communities, Some subordinate city-states shift their allegiance to a different “capital” city, Complex state institutions, Many cities exist, City of Laman (Lamanai) “occcupied from earliest times”, Parts of the land were very densely settled, Large-scale public works, Some rulers live in luxury, Elaborate thrones, Royalty exists, with attendant palaces, courts and nobles, Royal or elite marriages for political purposes, Feasting for political purposes, Gifts to the king for political advantage, Political factions organize around a member of the elite, Foreigners move in and take over government, often as family dynasties, City administrative area with bureaucrats and aristocrats, Records kept specifically of the reigns of the kings, Native leaders incorporated in power structure after subjugation, Tribute required of subjects, Limited number of important patrilineages, King and “king elect”, There are captains serving kings, Political power is exercised by family dynasties, Kings rule over subordinate provincial or territorial rulers, some of noble blood (subkings), “Seating” means accession to political power, Separation of civil and religious authority, Those of noble birth aspire to power, Royal courts imitate their enemies, Royal courts function as “great households”, Candidates for high office had to possess hidden knowledge, Abrupt breaks in dynasties, Subservient peoples are said to “possess” the land while ruled by a dominant power What civilization has ever existed for a thousand years that doesn't have at least 25 of these 33 correspondences? I would think most would have at least 30. The remaining 98 correspondences in the categories Cultural and Social, Religious, Military, Physical and Geographical, Technological and Miscellaneous are just as general. What the paper really shows is how well the Book of Mormon reflects real civilizations, in general. It does not show that there is anything particularly Mesoamerican about the Book of Mormon.
  9. The general statistical concept is sound. And I have no reason to reject the Mesoamerican descriptions. But there are some obvious errors having to do with the Book of Mormon and Biblical history. For example, in Section 1.18 of Appendix A the paper claims "the doings of the kings were kept separately from the rest of the history of a people" in regard to the Book of Mormon. This is an incorrect description of the Book of Mormon records. The records of the kings were part of the large plates which contained a record of the secular history of the people. So the record of the kings was kept with the record of the people, not separately, as claimed. Section 1.19 claims the ancient Romans did not incorporate the native leaders into the power structure. While this may be generally true, their are obvious exceptions such as Herod, which is an obvious biblical example. Another example that immediately comes to mind is the series of kings in Numidea or Mauritania including Juba I, Juba II and Ptolemy. Both 1.18 and 1.19 were given the highest rating of improbability (2%). In addition, there are some bizarre arguments based on the use of certain words. For example, Section 1.26 focuses on the word "seating" to show a correspondence regarding kings rising to power. It's true that both Coe and the Book of Mormon use "seating" to describe kings coming to power. Given that this is a normal use of the word, it is unclear why the use of "seating" is thought to be significant. Section 1.33 makes a similar claim based on the word "possess" in relation to lands that are ruled by a dominant power. The paper does nothing to show why this might be an unexpected use of the word. Even if they could make that case, it would be a meaningless distinction unless they were trying to show that Coe's book was based on the Book of Mormon. There are many more criticisms that can be made. I've come to really enjoy the weekly publications in the Interpreter and, in general, they have been of very high quality. This is no doubt related to the peer review process (not to mention the quality of authors they attract). But they've let a questionable work slip through here.
  10. A recent Interpreter article entitled "Joseph Smith: The World’s Greatest Guesser (A Bayesian Statistical Analysis of Positive and Negative Correspondences between the Book of Mormon and The Maya)" identifies 131 purported similarities between the Book of Mormon and Michael Coe's book The Maya. In addition, 6 negative correspondences are identified. This paper assigns a probability to each of the 131 correspondences based on the likelihood Joseph Smith could have guessed it and multiplies them all together. Then it divides by the 6 negative correspondence probabilities (which they claim to estimate conservatively) to come up with a final probability that Joseph made it all up. Multiplying by a billion to one they come up with a combined likelihood that the skeptical position (Joseph made it all up) is correct as an astonishingly low 4.2 X 10^-132 (that's 4.2 times 10 to the minus 132 power or a decimal followed by 131 leading 0's followed by 42). They identify an additional 12 negative correspondences from Coe's Dialogue article and statements Coe made on John Dehlin's podcast but do not calculate them into the final number. Any statistical analysis that comes up with such a vanishingly low probability should be suspect from the start. There are a host of legitimate criticisms that could be leveled at this paper but I want to focus on just one angle. The proposed correspondences are almost all applicable to history in general, and to ancient Mediterranean history, in particular. So a person with knowledge of ancient Mediterranean history (Phoenicia, Greece, Rome, etc.), for example, could have come up with the vast majority, if not all, of the 131 proposed correspondences. In addition, the 6 negative correspondences from Coe's book as well as the 12 from his article and podcasts are all explainable by and correlate positively to the Book of Mormon being written by someone with a knowledge of ancient Mediterranean history. I'm not claiming Joseph Smith had the knowledge to do this. In fact, I strongly reject the idea that Joseph came up with the Book of Mormon. However, I think someone with a very good knowledge of ancient history (as well as the bible and a few other subject matters) could have written the Book of Mormon. By focusing on ancient Mesoamerica the authors of this article have completely missed the more obvious and more numerous similarities with the ancient Mediterranean world. As such, the entire premise of the paper (the Book of Mormon is historical) is severely undermined.
  11. As you know I have welcomed helpful and constructive criticism because it helps me refine my position. General statements that imply I am being dishonest ("fast and loose with the facts") or lack mental capacity ("you might try engaging with reason and logic") without a specific criticism behind them are neither helpful nor constructive. Statements like "you refuse to bring your assertions into alignment with the facts" are not helpful unless you tell me which assertions and which facts you are talking about. I'm not a mind reader. I have not read the paper you have cited because it is not in a form that I can access. If you can provide it in a form I can access I will be more than happy to read it. But even then I need something specific to respond to. Otherwise we will likely continue to talk past each other and both end up feeling a little bruised in the process.
  12. Robert, you appear to be so emotionally invested in this issue that you've become incoherent. You've also misstated my position several times in order to build your straw man. As far as making a formal presentation, I have a paper almost finished that supports an early modern creation of the Book of Mormon but no plans and no time to write one regarding the witness accounts. I actually think these statements speak for themselves. I am more interested, anyway, in pursuing the early modern angle and have ideas for several more papers (but not really any time). Stop the personal attacks.
  13. You haven't identified a single thing that contradicts me. Instead you've resorted to reading Emma's mind and insinuating that since you wrote a paper on this subject you are right by default. This looks a lot like desperation to me.
  14. I consider any appeal to the supernatural to be a conflict with a naturalist position. What I mean by being a believer is that I believe in the inherent goodness of the Book of Mormon. Maybe this means it was inspired by God. Maybe not. I was a little rude. But I wasn't wrong.
  15. The translation of the 116 pages was likely different than the rest of the Book of Mormon. It's likely the 116 pages were done with a curtain separating Joseph and the scribe. When Oliver was the scribe Joseph would have needed the box to carry the manuscripts in. But that doesn't mean Joseph didn't also have a set of "plates." And I wouldn't put much stock in Emma's untruthful interview from 50 years after the fact. Plus, her statements seem anomalous compared to the other accounts. And why do you think scryers used this method? Are you saying they truly saw things written on stones in their hat? Isn't it more likely they did this to block anybody else from viewing the stone? And again, we have to separate the two different translation periods. My proposed method applies when Oliver was the scribe. As I've said, Joseph could have set up the room every morning beforehand. The problem here is that for a naturalist (I wouldn't characterize myself as a non-believer) the seer stone method is out from the start. Some sort of memorization or trance-like on the spot creation is also out from the start. In my view both of those things are impossible. There has to be a simple explanation that fits with what we know about the process. Joseph reading from a manuscript is such an obvious answer that people don't want to believe it. We've conditioned ourselves (both believers and critics) by all of these crazy theories, that we can't believe it could actually be so simple. This is utter nonsense and it pains me to see very intelligent people including scholars I have a ton of respect for even wade into this type of conversation.
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