Posted 04 November 2008 - 02:46 PM
Obiwan, I guess it was you that I accused Mak of being.
I am unaware that strong evidence for actual horses has been presented. Some tantalizing clues, yes, but not any verified hard evidence as of yet.
I don't see that this is an "either-or" proposition. As I previously discussed, the objection raised by the critics is, "Since the Book of Mormon speaks of horses, and there were no horses here before Columbus, the Book of Mormon is obviously a modern fraud." To answer the critics, we need to show that their argument is false. Clearly, one route to prove that, if you can manage it, is to demonstrate that there were in fact horses here at that time.
Another way is simply to show that, speaking from the standpoint of logic, the assertion that "there were no horses here before Columbus" is flawed. The absence of evidence is never proof of absence. While they can argue vociferously that they don't see any evidence for horses, they can't rigorously prove their assertion.
Another hole in their argument is the assumption that the "horses" in the Book of Mormon are the same "horses" as what the critics are picturing when they say "horse." When Nephi found "horses" in their new home, it would be a good 2,300 years before the man who went by the name "Carolus Linnaeus" would invent Linnaean taxonomy. What Nephi thought looked close enough to a horse to call "horse" may have been quite different from what Linnaeus would eventually call "Equus caballus."
Plausible candidates people have suggested include deer, llamas and tapirs.
I tend to agree with you that I can't see someone calling a tapir as "horse." The tapir is just too danged ugly to call it a horse. However, it turns out that the Mayans, upon seeing Spanish horses, did the same thing in reverse--they called the horses "tapirs." So it's more than just plausible that Nephi might have called a tapir a "horse."
There are other variations on these themes, and probably other completely different arguments, as well. None of these arguments excludes the others--they are all valid counterexamples to the critics' original assertion, and are thus all valid disproofs of that assertion.
Finding an actual horse doesn't even exclude the other possibilities. If horses were present in the Americas, it's still possible that the critter that Nephi ran into is what we call a "tapir", and thus is what he was talking about when he said "horse."