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Olavarria

Questian 4 The Unbelievers: How do you account for Lehi's Trail and "land of Jerusalem"?

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Q: How do you account for Lehi's Trail and "land of Jerusalem"?

A: There are three broad explanations for the alleged hits in the Book of Mormon:

  1. The Book of Mormon is an accurate translation of an authentic ancient manuscript and was translated with the power of God.
  2. A mischievous supernatural entity (e.g. Satan, a demon, magic elves, etc.) inspired Joseph Smith to include some hits in his record for the mischievous purposes of said entity.
  3. That there is a natural explanation, which could be luck, maps, specific knowledge that Joseph Smith happened to acquire from natural means, etc.

In general, I find explanation 1 and 2 equally probable and explanation 3 much more likely.

I account for Lehi

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  1. The Book of Mormon is an accurate translation of an authentic ancient manuscript and was translated with the power of God.
  2. A mischievous supernatural entity (e.g. Satan, a demon, magic elves, etc.) inspired Joseph Smith to include some hits in his record for the mischievous purposes of said entity.
  3. That there is a natural explanation, which could be luck, maps, specific knowledge that Joseph Smith happened to acquire from natural means, etc.

4. The conclusion that these are in fact "hits" overstates the evidence. For example, have apologists actually convinced any nonLDS scholars that there was in fact placed called Nehom in 600 BC, at or near the place the alter was found. If not, then at best, its a "possible" hit.

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elguanteloko:

That is the conundrum. JS was not educated in what the Saudi peninsula actually looked like. Popular opinion of the time was that it was a giant sand pit. He had no reasonable means of knowing about a Frankincense trail offshoot, a constantly flowing stream leading into the Red Sea. Let alone NHM, and Bountiful. Maps of his day wouldn't have helped. Thus it is no more reasonable to believe he had an extensive background in Middle Eastern geography, than "Angels delivering books".

It isn't as reasonable as "Angels delivering books". Analytics brought up the example of trying to explain the tricks of a magician and that's very appropriate. We don't finish watching Chris Angel thinking "Man, that guy has priesthood-like powers!", right? Because ANY explanation that involves magical or super-natural explanations are much less likely to be true that just a cool trick we don't understand yet. You are asking non-believers to accept that Chris Angel does real magic... or similar.

Now, man, I'm not saying there aren't miracles but they are a matter of faith, not of evidence or "more likely explanations" at all; if they were then they wouldn't be miracles.

ETA: it was Chris not Christ Angel... LOL, sorry about that.

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Given the normative assumptions (or Grundlage) of Judeo-Christian tradition, the epistemological problem which David Hume and Bertrand Russell have with miracles as the abrogation of the laws of nature or physics seems undeniable and understandable.

However, like Tibetan Buddhism, Mormonism as a theology denies the existence of the miraculous or supernatural,

lol really?

just as it denies the "absurdities of immaterialism."

yes, by naming it something different (i.e. "more fine or pure matter") which illustrates nothing at all. Just changing the names of things isn't explaining them.

Whether it is because Mormons are socialized to that POV, it remains a fact that the MMPI results for Mormons have to be adjusted to account for such fundamental beliefs -- which differentiate them from the remainder of the U.S. population. Otherwise, Mormons would seem dangerously delusional, when in fact it seems perfectly normal to a Mormon that people might have visions or be actively and powerfully influenced by the Holy Ghost. Even at that, however, since we are prisoners of our senses (according to Hume), and every revelation or inspiration is our own and non-transferrable, any preternatural sources of information are and remain personal..

Sure but then don't act as if it was the reasonable thing to think... it isn't. Plus I don't even think this is the case. If you seriously ask a mormon of medium education what he thinks the more likely and 'objective' explanation is for such type of events I don't think he'll give the "spiritual explanation" answer.

Yet, here Pedro has presented us with a much different problem. He is, in effect, asking us what does the preponderance of natural evidence show? That is, evidence of the kind which historians usually employ in rationally discussing vaunted historical events. Here is where the videos are powerfully expressive and difficult to refute. For they make hash of the usual claim that there is no physical evidence to confirm Book of Mormon claims.

See above. The apologists are the ones offering a VERY UNLIKELY explanation of certain events and we don't need to be refuting every silly explanation that pops up here and there and we told you why.

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It's perfectly clear, but you have not answered the question I posed.

It was clearly implied that I accepted ALL of those assumptions at least for the sake of argument right now to illustrate the point.

Thus you remain on the same foundation as anyone else.

Next time you watch Chris Angel think of what the most likely explanation to his (be it said, lame) tricks are. Did he really walked on water or was it just a trick? What is the most likely explanation? Is the one who thinks that it's just a trick or has a very imaginative, 'natural' explanation on the same grounds than he who thinks he is doing real magic?

You have no supporting evidence, nor do you have any alternative hypothesis from which you can eliminate some assumptions.

I told you I accepted them all; I don't need to reject any or to make the explanation simpler to illustrate the point.

You state that some are quite silly; to which one's are you referring? From my point of view each one is necessary for JS to use such a map to implement NHM into The Book of Mormon narrative--which seems to be something you are unwilling to admit.

2-4 need not be the case. The map itself didn't need to go anywhere as long as someone saw it and that person traveled. That makes 5 unnecessary. On 6, the person who saw the map could have told JS about the place for some reason not so long before he wrote it down.

...but yet again, I told you that I accepted all of the first assumptions to show the point. As unlikely you think these explanations are, the "An angel told me to" explanation is even less likely.

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elguanteloko:

Yes really, any miracle is just something we don't have a explanation for YET.

True enough, but even scientists put names on things they don't have an explanation for

YET. IE; Dark Matter, and even more mysterious Dark Energy.

I'm reasonably well educated, and I have no problem with religion, or religious answers to religious questions.

I have no problem with "I don't know". The FACTS are that NHM, and Bountiful exist. They existed in 600 BCE, and they existed in 1830, and they exist now. We have pictures of them now. There is no explanation for JS knowing of them from his environment. Come up with an explanation that fits all the known facts.

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elguanteloko:

Yes really, any miracle is just something we don't have a explanation for YET.

True enough, but even scientists put names on things they don't have an explanation for

YET. IE; Dark Matter, and even more mysterious Dark Energy.

I'm sure they just came up with these things out of the blue...

I'm reasonably well educated, and I have no problem with religion, or religious answers to religious questions.

me neither but they are not the most likely explanations.

I have no problem with "I don't know". The FACTS are that NHM, and Bountiful exist. They existed in 600 BCE, and they existed in 1830, and they exist now. We have pictures of them now. There is no explanation for JS knowing of them from his environment. Come up with an explanation that fits all the known facts.

did you watch the video? Listen to what Daniel C. Peterson says there. Plus, I can come up with other explanations that can be much less likely but still ALWAYS more likely than a super-natural one. You aren't really getting the point. See the "Chris Angel" analogy or Analytics post.

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Sure but then don't act as if it was the reasonable thing to think... it isn't. Plus I don't even think this is the case. If you seriously ask a mormon of medium education what he thinks the more likely and 'objective' explanation is for such type of events I don't think he'll give the "spiritual explanation" answer.

What would you consider a medium education?

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Next time you watch Chris Angel think of what the most likely explanation to his (be it said, lame) tricks are. Did he really walked on water or was it just a trick? What is the most likely explanation? Is the one who thinks that it's just a trick or has a very imaginative, 'natural' explanation on the same grounds than he who thinks he is doing real magic?

Apples and oranges.

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It was clearly implied that I accepted ALL of those assumptions at least for the sake of argument right now to illustrate the point.

Obviously it was not as you stated point blank that some are 'just silly'. Meaning that you didn't accept them as written.

Next time you watch Chris Angel think of what the most likely explanation to his (be it said, lame) tricks are. Did he really walked on water or was it just a trick? What is the most likely explanation? Is the one who thinks that it's just a trick or has a very imaginative, 'natural' explanation on the same grounds than he who thinks he is doing real magic?

Now we're not talking about an illusionist are we? We are talking about known facts and a reasonable hypothesis with minimal assumptions.

I told you I accepted them all; I don't need to reject any or to make the explanation simpler to illustrate the point.

Actually you do; for as it stands there are far too many unknowns and if it did play out as those assumptions it would be similar to an individual going to Vegas, placing bets on all the Roulette tables (not just in 1 casino but all of them), and subsequently winning them all. Astronomical in plausibility. Couple it with additional evidence from Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon and you'd have further issues in plausibility.

2-4 need not be the case. The map itself didn't need to go anywhere as long as someone saw it and that person traveled. That makes 5 unnecessary. On 6, the person who saw the map could have told JS about the place for some reason not so long before he wrote it down.

Which begs the question and adds additional assumptions that do not increase the probability of contact; namely trust in the individual as authoritative on middle eastern geography.

...but yet again, I told you that I accepted all of the first assumptions to show the point. As unlikely you think these explanations are, the "An angel told me to" explanation is even less likely.

As much as you're trying to reducto ad absurdum you fail. Moroni (nor any other angel) never told him about NHM, nor of Bountiful. Thus your critique must bear upon the translation process or the prophet himself; from which you're placing your bets on the plausibility of the improbable.
...But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the "old one." I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice.

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elguanteloko:

The FACTS are that NHM, and Bountiful exist. They existed in 600 BCE, and they existed in 1830, and they exist now.

CFR that a place called NHM existed in 600 B.C.

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Example: in the video you posted, Daniel C. Peterson says that JS looking at that map seems very unlikely... but being as open minded as possible, isn't it a hundred times more unlikely that JS got a revelation from a super-natural being? Saying JS looked at a map, as unlikely as it will EVER be (if it is), is ALWAYS going to be much more likely than a super-natural explanation of the events... than ANY super-natural explanation. That is, ANY explanation of event X that is not self contradictory, does not break any of the so-called "laws of nature", and fits the events fairly well will ALWAYS be more likely an explanation than one of a super-natural nature.

Well said.

Just as an example, it is extremely unlikely that my cousin would be accidentally struck by lightning twice in ten years. However, the accidental nature of this outcome is much more likely than his being targeted by a god, such as Zeus or Thor.

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Kerry may have made a mistake, but it is still true that the phrase "land of Jerusalem" occurs throughout the Book of Mormon so often that it is understandable that Kerry might extrapolate and reinterpret in his own mind.

There is no justification for conflating Jesus

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they agree with me. :P

I then must be illiterate.

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I then must be illiterate.

LOL I'm joking, of course.

but seriously now, I was talking about people who have some training in so-called "critical thinking".

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Rejecting a supernatural explanation is not necessarily a result of having better critical thinking skills. The statement implies that atheists and agnostics have better critical thinking skills than most people of faith.

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Obviously it was not as you stated point blank that some are 'just silly'. Meaning that you didn't accept them as written.

na, I accepted them.

Now we're not talking about an illusionist are we? We are talking about known facts and a reasonable hypothesis with minimal assumptions.

well, Vex, the point is that you have a set of events (with both JS and Chris Angel). Now, to explain them you have to go beyond the data (i.e. "JS wrote a book were it says that bla bla bla" and "Chris Angel did what seems to be walking on water" would be data and "JS looked at a map" and "Chris Angel used a device made of clear plastic to bla bla bla" would both be explanations to account for the data). The point was that in both cases there are explanations more likely to be true and explanations less likely to be true. From ALL of those explanations you are choosing to pick the one that involves super-natural events that is clearly not one of the most plausible just as saying Chris Angel really walked on water without any aid but his powers seems less likely than any other explanation I can come up with that doesn't "break the laws of nature", so to speak.

Actually you do; for as it stands there are far too many unknowns and if it did play out as those assumptions it would be similar to an individual going to Vegas, placing bets on all the Roulette tables (not just in 1 casino but all of them), and subsequently winning them all. Astronomical in plausibility. Couple it with additional evidence from Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon and you'd have further issues in plausibility.

Doesn't matter since my assumptions don't contradict known empirical observations while yours does. Take Christ's resurrection as another example. Saying Christ rose from the dead is the least likely of explanations compared with, say, Christ didn't really die on the cross (VERY unlikely) or who they all saw was in reality Christ's twin brother (quite unlikely still) because none of these explanations so obviously break known laws of nature such as "dead people don't rise by themselves after 3 days" or something.

Which begs the question and adds additional assumptions that do not increase the probability of contact; namely trust in the individual as authoritative on middle eastern geography.

that works with comparable assumptions. natural vs super-natural assumptions are NOT comparable in such sense.

As much as you're trying to reducto ad absurdum you fail. Moroni (nor any other angel) never told him about NHM, nor of Bountiful. Thus your critique must bear upon the translation process or the prophet himself; from which you're placing your bets on the plausibility of the improbable.

OK, "JS received ancient records from an angel and through some super powers he translated them, etc, etc, etc." You get the point, man. don't get all ridiculous on me now.

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Rejecting a supernatural explanation is not necessarily a result of having better critical thinking skills. The statement implies that atheists and agnostics have better critical thinking skills than most people of faith.

But I'm not saying rejecting super natural explanations is a matter of critical thinking. I'm saying rejecting super natural explanations as the most likely explanations is a matter of critical thinking. Big difference there.

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na, I accepted them.

well, Vex, the point is that you have a set of events (with both JS and Chris Angel). Now, to explain them you have to go beyond the data (i.e. "JS wrote a book were it says that bla bla bla" and "Chris Angel did what seems to be walking on water" would be data and "JS looked at a map" and "Chris Angel used a device made of clear plastic to bla bla bla" would both be explanations to account for the data). The point was that in both cases there are explanations more likely to be true and explanations less likely to be true. From ALL of those explanations you are choosing to pick the one that involves super-natural events that is clearly not one of the most plausible just as saying Chris Angel really walked on water without any aid but his powers seems less likely than any other explanation I can come up with that doesn't "break the laws of nature", so to speak.

That's a stretch and you know it.

Doesn't matter since my assumptions don't contradict known empirical observations while yours does.

CFR. Show me where my observations contradict known empirical observation.
Take Christ's resurrection as another example. Saying Christ rose from the dead is the least likely of explanations compared with, say, Christ didn't really die on the cross (VERY unlikely) or who they all saw was in reality Christ's twin brother (quite unlikely still) because none of these explanations so obviously break known laws of nature such as "dead people don't rise by themselves after 3 days" or something.
Nah, no one is ever resuscitated from the dead. Not in this day and age. But this is neither here nor there. So keep trying to reducto ad absurdom you're not helping your case any.

that works with comparable assumptions. natural vs super-natural assumptions are NOT comparable in such sense.

CFR where I have dictated a super-natural assumption.

OK, "JS received ancient records from an angel and through some super powers he translated them, etc, etc, etc." You get the point, man. don't get all ridiculous on me now.

Let me rephrase this in something you can recognize: "So some guy sat at a window for hours at end attempting to come up with laws that govern the Universe and then one day he spontaneously got it all right." Do you see the similarities?

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That's a stretch and you know it.

pfff cool rebuttal. "You are wrong and you know it!" isn't going to fly with me.

CFR. Show me where my observations contradict known empirical observation.

God, super-translating powers, angels of dead people that tell you information of dead civilizations, etc.

Nah, no one is ever resuscitated from the dead. Not in this day and age. But this is neither here nor there. So keep trying to reducto ad absurdom you're not helping your case any.

...

CFR where I have dictated a super-natural assumption.

just did.

Let me rephrase this in something you can recognize: "So some guy sat at a window for hours at end attempting to come up with laws that govern the Universe and then one day he spontaneously got it all right." Do you see the similarities?

no, frankly I don't.

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pfff cool rebuttal. "You are wrong and you know it!" isn't going to fly with me.

Yeah, and neither is that analogy which you taut as being what we're discussing.

God, super-translating powers, angels of dead people that tell you information of dead civilizations, etc.

Again, CFR where I said that. Not where you did.

...

just did.

No you didn't, but good try at attempting to put words into my mouth. Care to try again?

no, frankly I don't.

Perhaps some reading of Einstein is in order then? That is his great thought experiment--amazing that some one who purports to be such a logical individual cannot see the similarities between all the large breaks in science and what is termed revelation. Care to revisit your hypothesis yet?

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Yeah, and neither is that analogy which you taut as being what we're discussing.

Again, CFR where I said that. Not where you did.

your super-natural explanation implies it... actually, requires it.

No you didn't, but good try at attempting to put words into my mouth. Care to try again?

...

Perhaps some reading of Einstein is in order then? That is his great thought experiment--

googled it but can't find it. and, no, I'm not really interested in reading Einstein. What I've read I haven't liked (his non-scientific stuff, that is).

amazing that some one who purports to be such a logical individual

who's that? I don't know him or her.

cannot see the similarities between all the large breaks in science and what is termed revelation. Care to revisit your hypothesis yet?

I'll need more than that. I have no idea how what you are saying goes against what I've been saying.

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In response to the OP. Well the premise rest's soundly on the presumption that this particular place where they found and altar that had NHM inscribed on it was Nahom.

I was rather partial to jmordecai's criticism, IMO he has done an adequate job of putting a 400lb. gorilla in the room and I haven't seen adequate response yet.

My own thought is this. In the BoM we see "altar" appear only a few times.

2 Nephi 16:6

Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar;

1 Nephi 2:7

And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.

Alma 17:4

And they had been teaching the word of God for the space of fourteen years among the Lamanites, having had much success in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth; yea, by the power of their words many were brought before the altar of God, to call on his name and confess their sins before him.

Alma 15:17

Therefore, after Alma having established the church at Sidom, seeing a great check, yea, seeing that the people were checked as to the pride of their hearts, and began to humble themselves before God, and began to assemble themselves together at their sanctuaries to worship God before the altar, watching and praying continually, that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction

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your super-natural explanation implies it... actually, requires it.

...

Are you going to answer my CFR (I'll give you a hint; quote my super-natural explanation that you seem to be under the delusion I have given)? I've already called for it twice. I'm still waiting. Fulfill the CFR or concede, it's your choice.

googled it but can't find it. and, no, I'm not really interested in reading Einstein. What I've read I haven't liked (his non-scientific stuff, that is).

http://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/Goodies/Chasing_the_light/index.html

It's termed "Einstein's Great Thought Experiment"

who's that? I don't know him or her.

Obviously since you have yet to actually engage the issues with your hypothesis.

I'll need more than that. I have no idea how what you are saying goes against what I've been saying.

A 16 year old boy postulated the relativistic effects that would occur at the speed of light. Not a well trained professor in physics. Not a team of physicists, and not some lost dissertation that happened to fall into his hands.

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