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Chris Smith

A Challenge From John Gee

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You list a lot of credentials, none of which seem to make you any sort of expert on egyptology, which, I believe, is the crux of Gee's dispute; that non-experts are acting as experts; and falsely-so.

Would you apply this criticism to apologists, like Kerry Shirts and Mike Ash, who defend the BOA?

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I have been following this and related posts for some time. I suggest we should not distract ourselves from the substantive issues about the text called the 'Book of Abraham' by:

(a) Calling people liars (for which I believe CK has apologized already - if not he certainly should)

(b) Imposing linguistic tests which do not seem to be relevant to the great majority of issues about the 'Book of Abraham' raised on this board.

A substantive point by CaliforniaKid seems to be set out in this part of an earlier post by him, which also refers to a fairly measured and detailed statement of his position elsewhere:

... But there is no such phrase at the end of the preserved fragment. Gee's statement is merely an extrapolation from a statement by Gustavus Seyffarth. Seyffarth noted that the papyrus in the St. Louis Museum was "not a record, but an invocation to the Deity Osirus, in which occurs the name of the person, (Horus,) and a picture of the attendant spirits, introducting the dead to the judge, Osirus." Gee argues that since Seyffarth elsewhere translated "the beginning of the book of" as "the book of hymns"-- and since he calls the present roll an "invocation"-- the fragment in the museum must have had the phrase "the beginning of the book of" on it. This is obviously an unwarranted conclusion.

Sometime back I wrote the following summary of why the missing papyrus theory doesn't really get off the ground:

http://www.mormonapologetics.org/index.php...mp;p=1208098112

Does John Gee not intend to defend the proposition that "the fragment in the museum must have had the phrase "the beginning of the book of" on it."? CK's argument against that point is one that seems prima facie cogent, and it does not appear to depend for its evaluation on its reader possessing expertise in translating ancient Egyptian.

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DUPLICITY 1 : contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action; especially : the belying of one's true intentions by deceptive words or action.

Thesaurus Entry Word: duplicity

Function: noun

Text: the inclination or practice of misleading others through lies or trickery <we were lucky not to be taken in by his duplicity> -- see DECEIT

It is a jaw dropper that you can put it in print that calling somebody duplicitious isn't calling them a liar CK.

I am not calling Gee duplicitous. I am saying I still suspect him of duplicity. That is altogether my right as a free-thinking being. Nor is it my intent to continue broadcasting my suspicion, but other people keep bringing it up.

You have taken it upon yourself to judge an experts competence when all you can do (by your own admission) is parrot other people.

I have not questioned Gee's competence. In fact, I explicitly affirmed it.

you admit you have to use translations provided by 'competent scholars' which means you have no way of knowing anything for yourself,

Gee, Nibley, Rhodes, Baer, and Ritner all essentially agree on the translation of the BoB (with minor but irrelevant exceptions). If they are wrong, then getting an education in hieratic writing is not going to help me "know for myself," as I would be relying on the same education system and the same authorities they all relied on in producing their translations. In any case, one can only be an expert on so many things; other things one has to take on faith.

your only criteria is putting competent in front of what you use and liar in front of what you don't use.

Quite to the contrary, I have provided explicit and lengthy rationales for all the aspects of Gee's work I have problems with, and none of those problems have been addressed.

How convenient and how easy and how arrogant and how outrageous. It isn't going to happen on this board anymore and anybody who thinks they can continue to use gutter tactics against Mormons on a Mormon board is going to get a wake up call. You have been given an opportunity to deal with the 'incompetent, duplicitious, desparate' Dr. Gee head on and you have refused it! 'Nuff said, keep the gutter tactics on boards where name calling is considered a fine and dandy substitute for knowledge.

I clearly am not the only person on this board who thinks that Dr. Gee's challenge is a poor substitute for "dealing with Dr. Gee head on". No offense, but perhaps you should take stock of your moderatorial detachment. People here disagree with "experts" on a daily basis. Are you going to start requiring that posters be credentialed in evolutionary biology before they can claim to believe in intelligent design? I have at least provided straightforward reasons for why I believe what I believe. Is it really a rule of this board that I must back those reasons up with a P.hD in the field under discussion?

-CK

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Why are all these new people coming out of the woodwork for this thread?

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Why are all these new people coming out of the woodwork for this thread?

My guess is, a somewhat direct response/challenge from Dr. Gee has increased interest.

As for myself, I've been lurking for a few months, and recently started posting.

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Dr. Gee's challenge here reminds me of God's grand non sequitur in response to Job's plea of innocence. Job knows that he is righteous and deserves none of the affliction that comes upon him, so he demands a justification (several of which his "friends" helpfully suggest). When God finally responds in person, he pointedly avoids answering the question. Instead, he invokes his own magnificence and power and cows Job into submission. Job's solution is to renounce questioning this bullying God at all, which seems to have been just the response God was looking for.

Bad critic, CaliforniaKid! Down, boy!

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I missed this the first time through, but upon re-reading Gee's challenge I was struck by the fact that he never hints that he would actually be willing to address criticisms of his writings raised by critics in this forum--even if someone did pass his test. So, what, in fact, really is the point of the challenge?

It appears to be an attempt to silence criticisms, rather than respond to them.

CKS

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Bad critic, CaliforniaKid! Down, boy!

It looks like to me that this is the level of response we will have to be satisfied with when those who rely on badmouthing instead of demonstrating their knowledge can't put out what they demand from others. It is unfortunate that posters with no background in what they are criticizing resort to this instead of facing the problems with their approach with the same honesty they claim is lacking in others. Claiming that a critic doesn't need to know what an Egytologist knows to determine if that Egyptologist is lying or interpreting obscure translations correctly is laughable and pathetic. I don't know how to say what needs to be said about what we have seen nicely and we have been given no reason to try to. Dr. Gee has been a poster here and the scoffers will talk about what he says instead of throwing out schoolyard taunts when they are in our house. Critics can use all the phoney baloney justifications they can muster but the challenge stands unanswered and that tells us what we need to know.

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CaliforniaKid,

While it is "altogether [your] right as a free-thinking being" to suspect someone of duplicity, the minute you have expressed that thought to others you are engaging in something altogether different. The difference between calling someone a liar and thinking they might be lying is clear. The difference between calling someong a liar or calling someone a person you think is probably a liar, are not so far apart.

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It looks like to me that this is the level of response we will have to be satisfied with when those who rely on badmouthing instead of demonstrating their knowledge can't put out what they demand from others.

But we are denying that the expert knowledge in translating Egyptian is really the central issue for the criticisms (For an analogy, see my post above). If this is right (and I think it is) then demonstration of knowlegde of the this type is inappropriate and amounts to bullying and obfuscation of the points made by the critic.

Furthermore, if Dr. Gee and the Mods were granted the point, then they should also discourage almost all of the usual apologists on this board from commenting on the BOA and the KEP at all.

Should Dr. Gee be given a quiz on other topics that come into play such as historiological methodology, arcane 19 century historical specifics, the statistics and probability considerations regard document distribution dispersion and transmission, the relations between Jewish astrology and Egyptian astrology etc?

Too many things are relevant for anyone to claim global victory by dint of specialized expertise.

I don't think so. Rather, questions and criticisms should be frankly answered and explanations made in a nondefensive way.

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It appears to be an attempt to silence criticisms, rather than respond to them.

And how will a challenge like this silence discussion? Will the name callers start caring about what they know as compared to what Dr. Gee knows and disappear into the shadows in shame? I have seen no indication of that. If a call out silences the school yard criticism then bully for us, respectful posters will finally be able to have a discussion. The truth is this challenge is doing what it needs to do. It is an embarrassment to those who can't do anything but parrot what somebody else says. The only thing that comes from them is the scurrilous insults they use to convince everybody they know best. So just keep bringing on those excuses and see who falls for them while the challenge stands unanswered. Complaining that Dr. Gee hasn't answered your questions when you won't even get near theh questions he asked first is the weakest response of all.

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CaliforniaKid,

While it is "altogether [your] right as a free-thinking being" to suspect someone of duplicity, the minute you have expressed that thought to others you are engaging in something altogether different. The difference between calling someone a liar and thinking they might be lying is clear. The difference between calling someong a liar or calling someone a person you think is probably a liar, are not so far apart.

Unfortunately, the lack of a straightforward answer only makes the suspicions more acute.

What do you make of my example above with the equation challenge?

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And how will a challenge like this silence discussion?

Your right! We can and should just continue the discussion and hightlight the same criticisms until a real answer is forthcoming. (Unless someone gets banned or censored).

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I don't think so. Rather, questions and criticisms should be frankly answered and explanations made in a nondefensive way.

I agree so let's begin with Dr. Gee's carefully thought out questions. We have to start somewhere, he did ask them first, and I think those who have slandered Dr. Gee should be responsible for restarting the debate in a nondefensive way. I am sure that you will agree it is unreasonable to allow the critics to determine which questions can be asked!

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Unfortunately, the lack of a straightforward answer only makes the suspicions more acute.

This response has nothing to do with the principle expressed in my post.
What do you make of my example above with the equation challenge?
Being a mathematician, they probably were not as scary looking as they might be to someone else. :P To be frank, I do not know the purpose of Dr. Gee's test. It might be to bully, or it might not. There were some translational questions, and there were other non-translational questions. I think it would go a long way towards furthering discussion if someone honestly attempted all the questions, and got a response from Dr. Gee.

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Unfortunately, the lack of a straightforward answer only makes the suspicions more acute.

It would be fun to turn what you say on you all day long but I have to get back to work. You are only validating the problems created when Dr. Gee finally asks a question and no one will answer. You should stop while you are ahead.

Answer the questions before making demands on anybody else to answer yours, people.

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It would be fun to turn what you say on you all day long but I have to get back to work. You are only validating the problems created when Dr. Gee finally asks a question and no one will answer. You should stop while you are ahead.

Answer the questions before making demands on anybody else to answer yours, people.

I feel that am ahead on this point in my opinion--you just don't think so. That's your right. I don't agree with your points. Is that breaking some rule?

Answer the questions before making demands on anybody else to answer yours, people.

I don't know the answers to the largely irrelevant questions.

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While there are many examples of Books of Breathings, the Book of Abraham is one of a kind.

The BOB in the possession of the church is identical to all other BOB, is that correct? You are stating there is nothing unique.

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I agree so let's begin with Dr. Gee's carefully thought out questions. We have to start somewhere, he did ask them first, and I think those who have slandered Dr. Gee should be responsible for restarting the debate in a nondefensive way.

We all know it's CaliforniaKid we're talking about.

What if CKid tries to answer the test and gets an "F" grade? Then will Gee post a response to CKid's criticism (...which was asked first, BTW)? There's a pundit folder for this kind of thing, right? Maybe we can get that moderator formerly known as Oreos to set it up. He/she did a pretty fair job when I debated David Stewart.

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I agree so let's begin with Dr. Gee's carefully thought out questions. We have to start somewhere, he did ask them first, and I think those who have slandered Dr. Gee should be responsible for restarting the debate in a nondefensive way. I am sure that you will agree it is unreasonable to allow the critics to determine which questions can be asked!

So far as I can see, in the OP John Gee has not actually asked any questions about problems of substance relating to the evaluation of the 'Book of Abraham' as produced by Joseph Smith. What he has done is to set us an Egyptological examination relating to the Joseph Smith papyri. He does not tell us what will happen if any of us pass the examination - will he then feel able to (for instance) respond to CaliforniaKid's earlier detailed and calm setting out of his case, which I referenced in my last post?

If Gee's position is (though he does not say this explicitly) that nobody who cannot pass his test is qualified to express any opinion on the authenticity of the 'Book of Abraham' produced by Joseph Smith, and if (as seems likely from the tone of Chaos's posts) at least one moderator agrees with him, then the implication would be that all discussion of the topic should cease forthwith - since Gee himself does not post here, and so far as I am aware no non-LDS qualified Egyptologist shows any signs of wishing to be seen talking about this topic.

When, very, very roughly, does Gee expect to have a draft of his promised book on the 'Book of Abraham'? Or when does he at least expect to publish a substantial preliminary account of his views in a refereed Egyptological journal (which is what scholars usually do when they have a book on the way? It's been a long time now. (Do I have to post that question in Middle Egyptian to get an answer?)

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I think it would go a long way towards furthering discussion if someone honestly attempted all the questions, and got a response from Dr. Gee.

I'm quite certain that that wouldn't further the discussion of Seyffarth's statement at all.

-CK

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1) Accusing someone of telling a lie is not prima facie slander, especially if I back up the claim.

2) I have withdrawn my bald accusation that John Gee told a lie, but I have not withdrawn either my criticisms of his book and article or my conviction that he misrepresented the facts-- intentionally or unintentionally.

3) I have not "continued the slander" on "other boards". I explained over there to Will Schryver why I "suspect [Gee] of duplicity" (and I do suspect him of duplicity), but I have not declared him a liar there or here since apologizing for that bald accusation.

...

-CK

This is rather sad explanation to say the least-- and I think it is a very good reason for why Gee posted this in the first place. CK, I think you may have hung around "that other board" too long as evidenced by how your usually cogent and respectful nature is starting to suffer.

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I'm quite certain that that wouldn't further the discussion of Seyffarth's statement at all.

-CK

That is because you don't see the big picture. If you honestly attempted a conversation, and Gee responds harshly or doesn't respond at all (as many would have us believe he will) it would go a long way in proving to people like me that he isn't willing to deal with the issue. If he responds kindly, then all benefit.

Best,

Zeta-Flux

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It would be fun to turn what you say on you all day long but I have to get back to work. You are only validating the problems created when Dr. Gee finally asks a question and no one will answer.

He was, in essence, asked questions first. He didn't answer them. Shouldn't he answer those before asking his own? Shouldn't he also explain why he is asking those questions at all (i.e. how those questions related to the original criticisms?).

I'm sorry but I know bullying and obfuscation when I see it.

Let us just stipulate or conceed that no one here can translate Egyptian to Dr. Gee's satisfaction.

The next question is; why does this consession take him off the hook from answering the original quite reasonable sounding criticisms which were asked first and which are not directly related to translation as such?

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