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canard78

So There's No Archaeological Evidence For The Book Of Mormon?

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In addition to the false premise that we should be finding artifacts that can be directly linked to the book of Mormon...

Why is this a false premise? If we are able to find artifacts that can be directly linked to the Bible why not also the Book of Mormon? 

 

...another misconception is that we should expect God to provide proof in order for his gospel to be true. This standard is never applied to the bible, or course, but it is imposed on the Book of Mormon.

 

If Joseph translated the Book of Abraham, we should be able to point to the original scrolls and have scholars verify the translation is the argument. They fail to see how this would completely defeat the purpose of us relying on faith. For that matter, why doesn't God just go to the White House and set the record strait? Why not have angels march on the Vatican and explain the reality situation? Why stop at a jar made by the brother of Jared, why not provide a video of Jesus curing blind people?

Do you remember the excitement that flurried around the church membership when Stela 5 became more widely known about? It was even used as a source (with detailed explanations and illustration) in my home-study Book of Mormon seminary material. It was still in there when I taught seminary for a couple of years in the late 2000s.

 

On the one hand we people like Sorenson and Gardner who work tirelessly to find evidence and then we have statements like yours saying no evidence should ever even be found. Does that mean you think those who work to discover and promote physical evidence for the BoM are on a "fool's errand?"

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There are real bones and real buildings and real geographical evidences in likely spots.  Just because there are no city name signs blazoned with Book of Mormon names doesn't mean they are not valid.

 

What Joseph translated is in the Book of Abraham.  There is reasonable evidence to assume there was a large scroll that could have contained the BoA.  It is also reasonable that Josephs translation could have been revelation. 

 

What you are asking is for irrefutable proof.  Time has erased the irrefutable.

So are you saying that we don't have irrefutable proof of the Romans? Has time erased it all? I took my kids to a Roman villa last year (Chedworth). It was developed in phases from around 120 to 350AD. It's a stunning location and the quality of the cultural, religious and day-to-day artifacts were stunning. It was also slightly sobering to realise that in that single site there was more evidence for Romans in Britain than had ever been found to support the idea that Lehites had ever lived in the Americas.

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Not quite. The problem is that everyone knows that there should be archaeological evidence--especially those who have no idea what archaeological evidence looks like. Even in places where there is great basis on which to build the evidence, such as the continuing location of a Jerusalem that was never lost to history, there are specifics that have taken time to find. This in spite of a much longer period of archaeological interest in biblical lands.

 

The biggest problem I see for associating archaeology and the Book of Mormon is that people declare firm statements based on opinions of what should be found. if those opinions are wrong, the conclusions are also wrong. The biggest of the problems is the assumption that there should be clear evidence of Old World influence. That is the flip side of the coin that archaeologists fight against, which is that there must have been Old World influence because New World civilizations needed the push to advance. Neither is correct.

Thanks for the thoughtful post, as ever.

I agree that unrealistic expectations need to be managed.

 

We are further hampered in the New World by a lack of old texts. The Old World is document rich. The New World is document poor--extremely poor. Most the hemisphere has no textual tradition at all, and the area with the textual tradition apparently lost most of it because they didn't start carving texts into stone until later (evidenced by the almost miraculous preservation of the San Bartolo murals which show writing much earlier than had been expected--and well developed enough to suggest that it was in wider use).

But of what is left, there's not much in the old texts that supports or references something that could be specifically 'Book of Mormon' in nature, is there?

 

My personal approach has been to look at what is known of Mesoamerica and compare it to what is happening in the text of the Book of Mormon. That approach takes time periods and cultural trends to see if they match with the descriptions in the text. I find the correlations rather remarkable, including many that fit into dates for particular actions and cultural data that fit that time and place.

 

Is there archaeological evidence of the Book of Mormon? The artifacts do not clearly prove the Book of Mormon, but a comparison of the Book of Mormon to the artifactual record (and linguistic records) does find that the Book of Mormon fits comfortably into the appropriate cultural contexts at the appropriate times. That is a form of archaeological evidence, just not the one people think they are looking for.

I agree that the range of convergences at least allow for faith to be supported. I think a spiritual witness, supported by a reassuring set of parallels that say it could possibly have happened are helpful to people.

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Did Dan Peterson just tacitly acknowledge that there's no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon?

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865628607/Much-left-to-discover-between-archaeology-and-the-Book-of-Mormon.html

Peterson effectively seems to be saying that the so-called critics are right, there is no archaeological evidence. But it's not because there's none to be found, it's just because we haven't looked in the right place yet.

 

I think you are misreading Peterson's statement. Peterson has also made the point that the archaeological discovery of inscriptions that confirm the existence of the place called Nahom (N-H-M) in Arabia, in the exact spot where LDS scholars have deduced Nahom should be located based on Nephi's account, is a "bulls eye for the Book of Mormon." That is archaeological evidence that "directly" supports the Book of Mormon.

 

Peterson was probably referring to archaeological evidence from Mesoamerica. There is a fair amount of Mesoamerican archaeological evidence that "indirectly" supports the Book of Mormon, but some would argue that there is no Mesoamerican archaeological evidence that "directly" supports the book. Notice that Peterson used the adjective "directly," implying that some archaeological evidence from the region "indirectly" supports the book, which is indeed the case, such as the powerful evidence for an ancient Near Eastern presence in pre-classic Mesomerica.

Edited by mikegriffith1

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Joseph said: "I don't blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself." Same goes for a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I can't blame you for not believing it until you've experienced what I've experienced, and what millions of others have experienced.

So not being "convinced" doesn't make you wrong. It only makes you lacking in key experience. The only way to bridge that gap is to prayerfully read the Book of Mormon and pray have the Holy Ghost testify to you whether it is God's word. Please carefully consider every aspect of the passage linked to in the above paragraph.

External evidence like archaeology will only, at best, provide probable cause for the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. That's quite a different matter than "proof". For example, I've found what I accept as considerable evidence for Nephites, as have others. But I certainly don't think such evidence somehow "proves" the Book of Mormon. It only corroborates, or supports it. The only real proof or test of spiritual things comes through spiritual means.

Of less importance, I also suggest considering this article, as a primer, in the manner of first studying things out in your mind "and then asking". (The only correction I have for that article is where the author asserts that the only written languages found in the Americas are in MesoAmerica. On the contrary, Mi'kMaq writing, discovered among Native Americans in the northeastern corner of North America centuries ago suggests that the author has overlooked at least one known written language in the Americas.)

Good post. One point many have not thought to consider is that if the Lotd did allow obvious confirming archaeological evidence to remain, it would undermine his purposes in bringing forth the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon was designed by the Lord to be a test of faith to those who engage with it. And it is also designed to be a way to develop the capacity to receive eternal truth by spiritual means, not by tangible physical evidence. The scriptures clearly indicate the development of this capacity to receive truth by spiritual means is very important and precious to God. I'm convinced the Lord has hidden the physical evidence of the Book of Mormon peoples and civilization so that this great test of faith and the development of the ability to receive truth by spiritual means might go forward unhindered. Obvious physical evidence would undermine God's program of bringing forth a people of unconquerable faith in the latter-days. The windows of the great and spacious building need to be filled with many falsely convinced mockers in order for the necessary tests of faith to take place that the faith of the saints might be tried and refined as gold.

Edited by Bobbieaware

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So are you saying that we don't have irrefutable proof of the Romans? Has time erased it all? I took my kids to a Roman villa last year (Chedworth). It was developed in phases from around 120 to 350AD. It's a stunning location and the quality of the cultural, religious and day-to-day artifacts were stunning. It was also slightly sobering to realise that in that single site there was more evidence for Romans in Britain than had ever been found to support the idea that Lehites had ever lived in the Americas.

And here we have exactly the problem of how a set of expectations can define a problem field, methods, and standards of solution. I write about this in my response to Jeremy Runnells.

Think for a moment exactly the circumstances under which Lehi’s family arrived in the New World in around 590 bce compared to Runnells’s model of the Roman conquest of Britain. The Romans came to stay in 43 ce, and made Britain a province until 410. The Romans sent several legions, kept a constant military presence, provided ongoing population and administrative influx, as well as trade across the English channel from other, nearby, Roman-controlled territories. How well does that model of a well-supported, well-supplied invasion involving many thousands of soldiers and government officials in continuous contact with Rome over 300 years apply to Lehi’s arrival in a single isolated ship?

Archeological surveys demonstrate that when Lehi arrived, it would have been to a location with pre-existing populations, [Page 210]at that time consisting of small villages and hamlets.57 In the Book of Mormon a ship arrives in a New World location with perhaps 15 adults and 25 children.58 So here we have a picture of a small group arriving into an unfamiliar, already populated area. (Matt Roper’s “Nephi’s Neighbors” is essential reading on this topic.59) The locals have their own language, knowledge of local crops and other resources, which would be essential information for the new arrivals who would be foolish not to adopt working local practices. Archeologically, therefore, we should assume the newcomers would look very much like the locals because they would adopt their material culture.

If you are looking for the wrong things, you don't see what is there. If we can find the overall setting, the river, evidence of volcanic eruptions at the right time, and civilizations rising, falling, and moving at the right times, different language groups in the right places, two cylinder seals from the right place with characters resembling those copied from the plates, are we justified in pouting about steel and horses as though without them we have nothing of value? Which ought to be easiest to find? A river or a horse bone? And if that river location comes with a whole set of meaningful convergences (see Larry Poulson's FAIR presentation from a few years back), doesn't that count as evidence to be accounted for?

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Bethel Park, PA

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But of what is left, there's not much in the old texts that supports or references something that could be specifically 'Book of Mormon' in nature, is there?

 

There is so little from Book of Mormon times that finding something that gave us a clear link would be wonderful but perhaps too much to hope for. With all of the texts we have for Egypt, there are a few things that appear to reference Hebrews, but very little. Now assume that all of those were lost and we found two documents from that whole collection. Finding the rare reference to the Hebrews would be very difficult.

 

The majority of the texts we have are from the Maya (there are a few epi-Olmec texts that could be from Book of Mormon times). The later Maya texts postdate the Book of Mormon and have no reason to speak of a people who had been destroyed about 200 years earlier. The epi-Olmec texts have the same problem as the Egyptian texts. They are from the wrong place and a clear reference would be statistically unusual. 

 

So we would love to find something in a text, but the reality of what has survived is that it will be unlikely. Since we also don't have the traditions locating the people we are looking for, it becomes even more difficult to associate an artifact with the Book of Mormon. Take the case of Teotihuacan. That is the name we use for what was the sixth largest city in the world during its heyday. It was tremendously influential, and we do have texts indicating when they arrived in Tikal and we can see how dramatically they affected the Maya region. There is clear archaeological evidence for what they did and where their central city was. What we don't know is what they called themselves. Teotihuacan is the name the Aztecs gave the ruins hundreds of years later. Although the Maya were writing, there is no clear Teotihuacano writing system (though there is a suggestion that some of the art is a type of writing). We are not sure of their language, though there are speculations based on spread of loanwords. 

 

It isn't a correct correlation, but assume that the Teotihuacanos were Nephites. How would we know? There is an abundance of archaeological evidence, but it cannot be specifically tied to the name of the people who produced them, or the language they used. All anyone could say is that the art they produced looks Mesoamerican rather than Middle Eastern. Of course, if you look at the development of iconography in the Old World, you will find lots of borrowed and repurposed images (including pretty much everything in Christianity). So the fact that it doesn't look Middle Eastern (especially after that many years in the New World as would have to be the case for Nephites) doesn't disqualify them. As I said, the Teotihuacanos were not Nephites, this is just an example of the problems we have in New World archaeology that are very different from what biblical archaeology has to deal with for the same time period.

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Beautiful lyrics..

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I would be more worried if it actually doesn't exist and they do find it.

I think that has happened once or twice

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I can't wrap my head around the idea that God won't provide archeological proof because we would somehow lose the need for faith or as a need to test our faith.

.....................................................................

....................................... So why again are we not finding stronger archeoligical evidences?

One way for you to get reasonable and unbiased answers to those questions would be for you to take a few introductory courses in anthropology and archeology at a local college.  This would come under the heading of "reality therapy," since it would help you understand the real world of anthropological & archeological research, although it would never explain the assumption that God might be obligated to provide "archeological proof" of something.  We humans are basically on our own in that respect.  Human civilizations have laid down millennia of strata, artifacts, and history.  We may research it as best we can, and conclude from it what we will, but we are on our own in drawing such conclusions.  God is not going to do it for us.

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As a practical matter I do not want it proven. Evidence does not have the effect on our mind we often imagine it will. The proofs for how unhealthy obesity is roll forth and we know how to prevent it in ourselves but obesity is on the rise anyways. I expect proof of the church's claims would begin with a wave of conversions in the same way obesity or realization of the reality of a global or personal crisis of any kind is usually met with frantic action or concern. Then for most the concern and action fade into the background and we are left with an even larger load of inactives and my Home Teaching list gets annoyingly longer. I do not want it to be longer.

What are you basing your reasoning on? Is it because you've been taught this all your life or does it logically make sense to you? To me it makes no logical sense to believe someone would be more likely to fall away from the Church if in addition to their spiritual experiences there was powerful and persuasive tangible evidence to strengthen their testimony. I see the two as creating synergy as opposed to being mutually exclusive.

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What are you basing your reasoning on? Is it because you've been taught this all your life or does it logically make sense to you? To me it makes no logical sense to believe someone would be more likely to fall away from the Church if in addition to their spiritual experiences there was powerful and persuasive tangible evidence to strengthen their testimony. I see the two as creating synergy as opposed to being mutually exclusive.

Brigham Young told people to pray they would never see an angel which I suppose would be tangible proof because most of those who do fall away. Your conclusion is rational but while humans have the ability to reason it very rarely is a ruling force in their lives.

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Why is this a false premise? If we are able to find artifacts that can be directly linked to the Bible why not also the Book of Mormon? 

 

Do you remember the excitement that flurried around the church membership when Stela 5 became more widely known about? It was even used as a source (with detailed explanations and illustration) in my home-study Book of Mormon seminary material. It was still in there when I taught seminary for a couple of years in the late 2000s.

 

On the one hand we people like Sorenson and Gardner who work tirelessly to find evidence and then we have statements like yours saying no evidence should ever even be found. Does that mean you think those who work to discover and promote physical evidence for the BoM are on a "fool's errand?"

It appears that you are not reading what is being posted. Please provide a reference in the book of Mormon that describes an artifact that we should find. What you fail to understand is the following:

1) names have not remained the same so we have no idea what any of the cities were called. All the archaeological sites have been given spanish names because nobody knows what they were called back in the day. This same problem relates to people. A person named Nephi would have his name changed to something else with each conquering nation. The old word does not have this problem. 

2) The book of mormon does not mention any objects other then weapons. The materials they used for construction have been found, and the archaeological sites are in relation to each other just as described in the Book of Mormon but for some reason this does not satisfy you. If we found a piece of artwork, there is no way of comparing this to what is mentioned in the Book of Mormon. 

3) The written record has been lost, party because of the conquering nations and party because of the environment. You have provided examples of written texts that mention names that are also found in the bible. If you are arguing that the Book of Mormon is not true because we have not found any such confirmations in the new world then I would ask you, what are the names that do show up in the ancient record? If the Nephites are not mentioned, then surely there are other names that are. Do you see the hypocrisy?  If the Nephites should have been mentioned in archaeology then why don't you produce the archaeology that mentions names and I will show you a nephite. It is a circular argument. 

4) We do have lots of findings, as has been mentioned, that confirm the book of mormon but this is never enough for you because you are asking for us to produce what cannot be produced. Your examples always are of written records but all we are finding in the Americas are objects. Objects do not tell us stories. 

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You have other texts mentioning the same people. This does not prove anything. It just proves that the people mentioned in the bible are mentioned elsewhere. You will be able to prove their acts. But again, if this is the standard that you want to follow then please produce a written document from central america that tells us who all the kings were down there and I will show you which ones were nephites. 

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Does the presents of Roman artifacts prove the Roman Gods exist?

Odd question. How is that relevant?

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I would be happy if they found just one sword.

I take it you're looking for Ammon's sword?

ammon-defending-kings-sheep-39656-galler

 

The sword that Arnold Friberg painted into Ammon's hands is so anachronistic it's hilarious.  Swords of that design didn't exist until around a thousand years later, and only in Europe.  But then, Friberg probably didn't know anything about the Macauitl.

 

How about this one?

800px-Macuahuitl_Armeria_Real_Higher_Def

The actual item was at the Royal Armory of Madrid until 1884 when it was destroyed by fire.

 

Want to make one?  Here's a series of 4 videos on making a macauitl:

 

 

Go to the FOURTH video for a really keen (in both senses) show of several macauitls this guy has made in different styles, and finding native pigments (actually from Moab, UT) for them.  Also some real Man-Music -- Thunder Drums.

Edited by Stargazer

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Those have been found in abundance. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macuahuitl

 

 

Ooh, you beat me to the punch.

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Yep, though what is meant by steel is debatable. Nephi had a sword acquired from Laban and copied it for his people. The record does not say how good the copies were but after that Nephi taught some basic metallurgy but later in the abbreviated section of the Book of Mormon (post-Jacob to King Mosiah, about 500 years) the Nephite people did not fare very well and it is possible that the old world knowledge of metallurgy was lost somewhere.

 

The only other mention of steel that I recall is in the Book of Ether which is a different civilization all together and may have been a short-term discovery.

 

The word "steel" is exclusively used in our civilization to mean an alloy of carbon and iron.  However, it seems that it used to have a broad meaning of something that was very hard or durable.  The word is used in the KJV in places where one might not expect that carbon/iron is what they meant.  And in fact, carbon/iron goes back to at least 1800 BC: Ancient Steel.  Nephi's (or rather Laban's sword) may very well have been carbon/iron steel, since the material was used in making swords at that time -- although it was very expensive, which would explain why it was referred to as "most precious".

 

Nephi's bow (which broke) was also referred to as "steel", but it seems unlikely that even Nephi (with Arnold Friberg muscles) could draw a bow made out of solid steel.  In this case, "steel" would be referring to the toughness or strength of the bow.  Nephi's bow was most likely to be a laminated bow, although I understand that these were rare back in the day,, due to lack of waterproof glues.

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Does the presents of Roman artifacts prove the Roman Gods exist?

Really good one which I promise to steal. ;)

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I take it you're looking for Ammon's sword?

ammon-defending-kings-sheep-39656-galler

The sword that Arnold Friberg painted into Ammon's hands is so anachronistic it's hilarious. Swords of that design didn't exist until around a thousand years later, and only in Europe. But then, Friberg probably didn't know anything about the Macauitl.

How about this one?

800px-Macuahuitl_Armeria_Real_Higher_Def

The actual item was at the Royal Armory of Madrid until 1884 when it was destroyed by fire.

Want to make one? Here's a series of 4 videos on making a macauitl:

Go to the FOURTH video for a really keen (in both senses) show of several macauitls this guy has made in different styles, and finding native pigments (actually from Moab, UT) for them. Also some real Man-Music -- Thunder Drums.

Do the macauitls blades rust like the sword blades mentioned in Mosiah 8:11?

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The word "steel" is exclusively used in our civilization to mean an alloy of carbon and iron. However, it seems that it used to have a broad meaning of something that was very hard or durable. The word is used in the KJV in places where one might not expect that carbon/iron is what they meant. And in fact, carbon/iron goes back to at least 1800 BC: Ancient Steel. Nephi's (or rather Laban's sword) may very well have been carbon/iron steel, since the material was used in making swords at that time -- although it was very expensive, which would explain why it was referred to as "most precious".

Nephi's bow (which broke) was also referred to as "steel", but it seems unlikely that even Nephi (with Arnold Friberg muscles) could draw a bow made out of solid steel. In this case, "steel" would be referring to the toughness or strength of the bow. Nephi's bow was most likely to be a laminated bow, although I understand that these were rare back in the day,, due to lack of waterproof glues.

Nephi owning a steel sword in the old world isn't the problem. Jaredites with with steel swords in the New World, now there's a problem problem. No evidence of Pre-Columbian steel nor of its slag byproduct have ever been found in the Americas. In fact the oldest metallurgical evidence found in the Americas dates to hundreds of years after the Jaredites died off.

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Nephi owning a steel sword in the old world isn't the problem. Jaredites with with steel swords in the New World, now there's a problem problem. No evidence of Pre-Columbian steel nor of its slag byproduct have ever been found in the Americas. In fact the oldest metallurgical evidence found in the Americas dates to hundreds of years after the Jaredites died off.

 

The steel swords mentioned in the KJV Bible in the OT times are reckoned to actually be bronze, not steel.  As I said, the current English word "steel" originally meant hard or durable.  We use the word in its old connotation when we say things like "You must steel yourself for bad news."

 

The Jaredites do not need to have had carburized iron to have had steel swords.  Neither do the Nephites.

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Do the macauitls blades rust like the sword blades mentioned in Mosiah 8:11?

 

Of course not.

 

 

11 And again, they have brought swords, the hilts thereof have perished, and the blades thereof were cankered with rust; and there is no one in the land that is able to interpret the language or the engravings that are on the plates. Therefore I said unto thee: Canst thou translate?

 

Whose swords were these?  They were Jaredite swords, and if they were cankered with rust, keep in mind that bronze does rust: the copper oxidizes on the surface, which actually preserves the underlying metal (unless copper chloride is present, in which case it will eventually destroy the whole piece). 

 

Just because they haven't ever found iron metallurgy going on for steel production doesn't mean it never happened.  The Romans were real big on steel swords, but finding Roman foundries was also something that has been challenging.  I read an article several years ago about such a place that was found, and was virtually the first ever that had been discovered with providence going back to Roman times. 

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