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jkwilliams

The State of the Evidence

How do you feel about evidence in favor of LDS truth-claims?  

77 members have voted

  1. 1. What best describes your assessment of evidence regarding LDS truth-claims

    • If I didn't have a testimony, I would not believe based on the evidence.
      18
    • The evidence leaves room for faith and belief, but on its own I don't find it compelling.
      33
    • On balance, the evidence is compelling in supporting LDS truth-claims.
      20
    • The evidence is overwhelming in favor of LDS truth-claims.
      6


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Thanks for the responses. I'm finding the different perspectives fascinating, and I appreciate the input.

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13 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

(1) If I didn't have a testimony, I would not believe based on the evidence. = 21%
(2) The evidence leaves room for faith and belief, but on its own I don't find it compelling. = 47%
(3) On balance, the evidence is compelling in supporting LDS truth-claims. = 26%
(4) The evidence is overwhelming in favor of LDS truth-claims. = 5%


If the majority of LDS were to answer #1 and #2, would that be a hint that maybe its time to change perspectives?

If the D&C said something like "Out of informal and unscientific internet opinion polls, seek the grounds for life changing decisions" rather than something far more sensible like "Seek out of the best books words of wisdom," and to combine both study and faith, then I'd find the D&C much less valuable.  But it says what it says.  And it happens that I know much more about the state of the evidence than most of the LDS people I know, and therefore, know better than to make life changing decisions based on a poll of people unlikely to know or produce the wisdom that makes the best books.

Just saying what should be obvious.

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

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19 hours ago, JAHS said:

So I am guessing temporal evidence does not include how the restored gospel lines up with the Bible scriptures or blessings that we receive by living the gospel, right?

If you are only asking for physical or historical evidence then I am afraid there isn't much to back up any religion. Most religions are not based on physical evidence, otherwise they would not be a religion.

Agreed.

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19 hours ago, JAHS said:

So I am guessing temporal evidence does not include how the restored gospel lines up with the Bible scriptures or blessings that we receive by living the gospel, right?

If you are only asking for physical or historical evidence then I am afraid there isn't much to back up any religion. Most religions are not based on physical evidence, otherwise they would not be a religion.

It's certainly possible to have a religion with major tenets that do not contradict major scientific or historical theories. It's just that the focus of religion has always been on the spiritual, and spiritual teachings don't overlap with science or history. It's just a totally different category. 

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16 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

If the D&C said something like "Out of informal and unscientific internet opinion polls, seek the grounds for life changing decisions" rather than something far more sensible like "Seek out of the best books words of wisdom," and to combine both study and faith, then I'd find the D&C much less valuable.  But it says what it says.  And it happens that I know much more about the state of the evidence than most of the LDS people I know, and therefore, know better than to make life changing decisions based on a poll of people unlikely to know or produce the wisdom that makes the best books.

Just saying what should be obvious.

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Of course I do not consider this poll to be scientific.

Like the OP I've had two bishops express their viewpoint as a #1 or a #2, along with dozens if not hundreds of friends and family members. I know a few that might answer #3, but I am struggling to think of a single member I know in the Church that would answer #4. 

So let me rephrase the question. Isn't it obvious that its time to change perspectives?

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20 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Of course I do not consider this poll to be scientific.

Like the OP I've had two bishops express their viewpoint as a #1 or a #2, along with dozens if not hundreds of friends and family members. I know a few that might answer #3, but I am struggling to think of a single member I know in the Church that would answer #4. 

So let me rephrase the question. Isn't it obvious that its time to change perspectives?

Okay, so the Holy Spirit on one side telling me it is true and then there is the opinion of a few individuals you know.  I don't know any local members that would pick one or two, but they also are not historians or ones that may have read all of the architectural material available on the Western Hemisphere and understand all of it and it inter-relationship with the Old World.  Who am I to follow when the mind of man is so hindered, limited, and ignorant of so much?  For some strange reason I will study, pray, and follow the promptings of the Spirit.  Yeah, I know.  Such a novel approach to life.   

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56 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Of course I do not consider this poll to be scientific.

Like the OP I've had two bishops express their viewpoint as a #1 or a #2, along with dozens if not hundreds of friends and family members. I know a few that might answer #3, but I am struggling to think of a single member I know in the Church that would answer #4. 

So let me rephrase the question. Isn't it obvious that its time to change perspectives?

Ever see Rhinoceros by Eugene Inonesco?  In the play, people start turning into rhinoceros, and they start rationalizing that it's a good idea.  It was inspired by Inonesco's observation of how some French adapted to the presence of the Nazis in Paris.

Seems relevant to an argument based on popular opinion rather that consideration of the state of the art.

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

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58 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

Ever see Rhinoceros by Eugene Inonesco?  In the play, people start turning into rhinoceros, and they start rationalizing that it's a good idea.  It was inspired by Inonesco's observation of how some French adapted to the presence of the Nazis in Paris.

Seems relevant to an argument based on popular opinion rather that consideration of the state of the art.

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

So is the rhinoceros the Meso model or the Heartland model?

Let me add that I am not advocating for arguments based on popular opinion. If you've seen my posts over the past year, I've been pushing for Book of Mormon historicity by placing events in Asia rather than the popular Meso and Heartland models. Its hardly a popular idea, and in most cases is a total threadkiller. Even though Asia fits in almost every way, it falls flat because the rhinoceros is the false notion that the Book of Mormon claims to be a record of the Americas.

So the "good idea" in this case is that even though there is little to no evidence for Hebrew migrations to the New World we can get around it by rationalizing that silk is pineapple fiber and domesticated elephants were mastadons. Yet such rationalization is not necessary if we dare shift our paradigms to look in places where Hebrews really did migrate in 600 BC (Asia) and where silk really did exist in 2500 BC (Asia) and where domesticated elephants are really elephants (Asia). But the paradigm is so strong for Mesoamerica that even proposing an alternative feels equivalent to a treasonous lack of faith (see reference to Nazis above).

Edited by Rajah Manchou

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22 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

A few years ago, my stake president (a biology professor) gave an address in stake conference in which he invited those who were struggling based on issues of historicity and other LDS truth-claims to make an appointment with him so he could help resolve our concerns. I did so, and after discussing my issues, he made a curious statement, that if he didn't have a testimony, he would think the church's claims (the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and so on) were obvious frauds. I was a little shocked. He gave me the names of some "experts" (his words, and I corresponded with them. Two of them made similar statements to the effect that, absent a testimony, the truth-claims don't stand on their own.

A few thoughts:

1. I think there is a huge difference between the sentiment that "if he didn't have a testimony, he would think the church's claims (the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and so on) were obvious frauds" and "absent a testimony, the truth-claims don't stand on their own."  I quite agree with the latter, but not with the former (the "obvious frauds" bit).  There has been much written (by people like Daniel Peterson, Hugh Nibley, and others) about the rather marked lack of viable alternative theories about the origins of The Book of Mormon.  If the Church's proffered explanation as to where it came from is not palatable, then what is the alternative theory?  So far every alternative theory I have seen fails, and fails spectacularly.  And ironically, these alternative theories pretty much always rely on speculation and guesswork, not "evidence."

2. I agree wholeheartedly with the centrality of a "testimony" (shorthand, I think, for a witness from The Spirit that the truth claims of the LDS Church are as they claim to be).  Ultimately, I think Latter-day Saints must have The Spirit as the basis for their testimony.  "Evidence" is important, but faith informed by a spiritual witness is what carries the day.  "For we walk by faith, not by sight."

3. I think The Book of Abraham takes a bit more faith to accept than The Book of Mormon (perhaps on par with the faith necessary to accept The Bible).

Thanks,

-Smac

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5 minutes ago, smac97 said:

A few thoughts:

1. I think there is a huge difference between the sentiment that "if he didn't have a testimony, he would think the church's claims (the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and so on) were obvious frauds" and "absent a testimony, the truth-claims don't stand on their own."  I quite agree with the latter, but not with the former (the "obvious frauds" bit).  There has been much written (by people like Daniel Peterson, Hugh Nibley, and others) about the rather marked lack of viable alternative theories about the origins of The Book of Mormon.  If the Church's proffered explanation as to where it came from is not palatable, then what is the alternative theory?  So far every alternative theory I have seen fails, and fails spectacularly.  And ironically, these alternative theories pretty much always rely on speculation and guesswork, not "evidence."

2. I agree wholeheartedly with the centrality of a "testimony" (shorthand, I think, for a witness from The Spirit that the truth claims of the LDS Church are as they claim to be).  Ultimately, I think Latter-day Saints must have The Spirit as the basis for their testimony.  "Evidence" is important, but faith informed by a spiritual witness is what carries the day.  "For we walk by faith, not by sight."

3. I think The Book of Abraham takes a bit more faith to accept than The Book of Mormon (perhaps on par with the faith necessary to accept The Bible).

Thanks,

-Smac

I guess I don't have the problem of finding alternative theories spectacular failures, but that's another topic for another day. I think what my stake president and others were saying is that testimony is more important than secular evidence, and that makes sense to me. 

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2 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

There is a recording of Warren Jeffs from jail admitting he was a fraud and not a prophet.

His church didn't believe him. Despite the "evidence" of his own testimony the people still find enough reason to have faith.

I think this is a stark example of what we all face. If I'm considering the Book of Abraham translation based on Joseph's claims and what experts now largely agree on, I'd conclude that the BoA isn't what Joseph claimed it to be. But there is always room for faith.

The problem comes in when the overwhelming totality of "evidence" seems to contradict a deeply held belief. Should one hold on to the belief that Warren Jeffs is a prophet or is there a point at which FLDS members should consider an alternative?

I'm really getting tired of people with superficial knowledge of issues surrounding the BofA claiming that it's a closed case (not saying this is you HJW).  The critics have one the battle of popular opinion.  But read "A Brief Assessment of the LDS Book of Abraham" by our own Robert F Smith, and you'll realize it's far from that simple.

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10 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I guess I don't have the problem of finding alternative theories spectacular failures, but that's another topic for another day.

Nor do I.  I am quite serene in letting people ignore The Book of Mormon altogether.  I just think it's problematic to declare them as "obvious frauds" where no competent counterargument as to its origins has been presented.  This lack makes the book's alleged status as a "fraud" to be something other than "obvious."

Joseph Smith as the author doesn't work.  This would seem to be the most "obvious" counterargument, but it goes against the great weight of the empirical/historical evidence at hand.

The Spalding-Rigdon Theory doesn't work.

The Cowdery / View the Hebrews Theory doesn't work.

A coordinated authorship by a cabal of unidentified conspirators doesn't work.

This is not to say that the divine origins of The Book of Mormon are a "slam dunk" or anything like it.  I think reasonable minds can and do disagree about its origins.  But i think it's inaccurate to suggest it is an "obvious" fraud.  

Quote

I think what my stake president and others were saying is that testimony is more important than secular evidence, and that makes sense to me. 

That sounds reasonable.

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 minute ago, smac97 said:

Nor do I.  I am quite serene in letting people ignore The Book of Mormon altogether.  I just think it's problematic to declare them as "obvious frauds" where no competent counterargument as to its origins has been presented.  This lack makes the book's alleged status as a "fraud" to be something other than "obvious."

Joseph Smith as the author doesn't work.  This would seem to be the most "obvious" counterargument, but it goes against the great weight of the empirical/historical evidence at hand.

The Spalding-Rigdon Theory doesn't work.

The Cowdery / View the Hebrews Theory doesn't work.

A coordinated authorship by a cabal of unidentified conspirators doesn't work.

This is not to say that the divine origins of The Book of Mormon are a "slam dunk" or anything like it.  I think reasonable minds can and do disagree about its origins.  But i think it's inaccurate to suggest it is an "obvious" fraud.  

That sounds reasonable.

Thanks,

-Smac

I assume Joseph Smith came up with most of it, but that's just a guess. However it came about, it seems pretty obvious to me that it's of 19th-century origin, as it looks pretty much exactly what you would expect a story combining mound-builder mythology and a restorationist reading of the King James Bible to look like. I don't quite understand how it's problematic not to have a specific theory in mind, as it kind of speaks for itself. It goes without saying that most people here disagree with my assessment, and I'm sure not going to get into a debate about Book of Mormon origins.

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18 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I assume Joseph Smith came up with most of it, but that's just a guess.

Precisely my point.  The notion that "Joseph Smith came up with most of it" is not based on "the state of the evidence," but on "a guess."

I don't really press the matter, though.  I don't think people who are ambivalent about The Book of Mormon have any need to pay attention to it or present countertheories as to its origins.  But if someone comes along and affirmatively labels it a fraud, and yet is incapable of presenting a countertheory as to its origins, and does these things while claiming to be reliant on "evidence," well . . . 

Quote

However it came about, it seems pretty obvious to me that it's of 19th-century origin, as it looks pretty much exactly what you would expect a story combining mound-builder mythology and a restorationist reading of the King James Bible to look like. I don't quite understand how it's problematic not to have a specific theory in mind, as it kind of speaks for itself. It goes without saying that most people here disagree with my assessment, and I'm sure not going to get into a debate about Book of Mormon origins.

Fair enough.  You'll understand, though, why people like me find "however it came about . . . {but it's obviously} of 19th-century origin" to be rather weak tea.  Summarily waving away the book as being of this "obvious" origin is certainly your prerogative, but you do so against the extant evidence, and in the absence of any coherent evidence that would seemingly be required as part of declaring its origins to be "obvious."

I think Daniel Peterson describes things rather well regarding "evidence" pertaining to The Book of Mormon:

Quote

One thing that needs to be said about the Book of Mormon from the beginning is that the very existence of the book is an astonishing thing. The sheer speed with which it was produced is a miracle. Many probably already know that it was produced in a little over two months. Now that may not seem as impressive to some people as it actually is. A few years ago, I was invited to prepare a book for a company that wanted a book on the Near East. They wanted it fairly quickly; in fact, they wanted it remarkably quickly. I asked them how much time I would have to produce the book if I accepted the offer, and they said a little over two months. Well, I accepted. One of the reasons I accepted was because I wanted to see if I could actually do that. Well, I did. I produced a book of about 140,000 words in a little over two months. I was pretty pleased with myself, and other people commented that I wrote very rapidly and so on.

But then I began thinking about it. The Book of Mormon is about 250,000 words long, and it was produced in about the same amount of time. But remember, it was dictated without any revisions. I had a word processor and a very sophisticated computer that could transfer things around, and I had been working on this for some time, since this particular subject, Near Eastern studies, is my specialty. Joseph Smith dictated the Book of Mormon, never made any serious changes, and produced a book much longer and, I would say, much more impressive than mine, in about the same amount of time. Some people would say, "Oh yes, his imagination simply overflowed." I challenge them to produce a book like that. The very existence of the book, produced under the circumstances under which it was, is a remarkable thing...

...

Well, it's not only the speed of the book's production that I think is impressive, it's also the plausibility of the book as history. I spend a lot of my time reading ancient and medieval history by ancient and medieval writers, and this book reads plausibly as history. The people in it behave the way historical people did. The societies and civilizations in the Book of Mormon behave in the way ancient societies and civilizations did behave. 

...

I would also say that the details of the Book of Mormon, the complexity of the book, are also impressive. John Sorenson published what I think is a classic book a few years ago called An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon in which he produces plausible correlations for the Book of Mormon with features and locations in Mesoamerica. That is, I think, impressive, and I'm struck by many of the correlations he adduces. I would go beyond that and say that the first and primary impressive thing about that is the fact that a plausible and coherent geography can be deduced from the book that was produced so rapidly--so plausible and coherent that a little tiny town mentioned at one point in the Book of Mormon would show up two hundred pages later in the same place. Now this is beyond the capacity of my students to do. It's beyond my capacity to do in two months without a lot of aid and assistance from electronic gadgets and so on.

The only book that I could think of that may even resemble it in some way (some people have pointed this out) is something like J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. But we need to remember that Lord of the Rings was produced over a period of about thirty years by a man with a doctorate who taught at Cambridge and Oxford Universities. It's quite a different thing than a book that was produced in about two months. So the very existence of the book is an astonishing thing.

...

The witnesses to the Book of Mormon-have always been extremely impressive to me. Some people seem to deal with them by simply waving them aside. This can't be done. Richard Anderson's work on the three witnesses and the eight witnesses demonstrates conclusively that these were sincere, competent, honorable people who believed that they had seen what they claimed to see. More recently, Lyndon Cook has published a collection of interviews with David Whitmer, who was the last survivor of the three witnesses. There are almost ninety interviews there and what is impressive about it is the sheer monotony of the interviews, the monotony of the story that he tells---because it is the same story over and over and over again. David Whitmer, you will remember, left the Church and never came back and at times, felt some hostility towards the Church and some dissatisfaction with the direction it had gone. But that is irrelevant; those are just his opinions. Where he is important is as a witness. He was given many opportunities to step back from his witness, to say, "Well, I might have been mistaken" or "Joseph Smith fooled me" or something like that. He never availed himself of that opportunity. He always stood by his witness. In fact, he did more than stand by it--he insisted on it. He had his testimony of the Book of Mormon placed on his tombstone. That, I think, is striking.

It's a long article, but I think it merits a read.

And I think it reflects a far more informed and evidence-based assessment of The Book of Mormon than "however it came about."

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97

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3 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Precisely my point.  The notion that "Joseph Smith came up with most of it" is not based on "the state of the evidence," but on "a guess."

I don't really press the matter, though.  I don't think people who are ambivalent about The Book of Mormon have any need to pay attention to it or present countertheories as to its origins.  But if someone comes along and affirmatively labels it a fraud, and yet is incapable of presenting a countertheory as to its origins, and does these things while claiming to be reliant on "evidence," well . . . 

Fair enough.  You'll understand, though, why people like me find "however it came about . . . {but it's obviously} of 19th-century origin" to be rather weak tea.  Summarily waving away the book as being of this "obvious" origin is certainly your prerogative, but you do so against the extant evidence, and in the absence of any coherent evidence that would seemingly be required as part of declaring its origins to be "obvious."

I think Daniel Peterson describes things rather well regarding "evidence" pertaining to The Book of Mormon:

It's a long article, but I think it merits a read.

And I think it reflects a far more informed and evidence-based assessment of The Book of Mormon than "however it came about."

Thanks,

-Smac

Good gravy, do you really think my opinion on these matters is just based on "summarily waving away the book"? This is why I didn't want to get into a discussion of the book's origins, and I shouldn't have taken the bait. Suffice it to say that my conclusions are the result of a lot of study and prayer over many years, and I would imagine I've read and considered at least as much apologetic work as you have. I do think Joseph Smith was capable of writing the Book of Mormon, so if he did, that works just fine for me. Others seem to disagree. No worries.

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24 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I assume Joseph Smith came up with most of it, but that's just a guess. However it came about, it seems pretty obvious to me that it's of 19th-century origin, as it looks pretty much exactly what you would expect a story combining mound-builder mythology and a restorationist reading of the King James Bible to look like. I don't quite understand how it's problematic not to have a specific theory in mind, as it kind of speaks for itself. It goes without saying that most people here disagree with my assessment, and I'm sure not going to get into a debate about Book of Mormon origins.

The mound builder hypothesis doesn't work either. The physical description of Nephite lands are nothing like that of the Mississippian Indian culture.

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I do not expect everyone to find the confirmation that I have because not everyone has been exposed to the information I have.  Even if they had they probably would not have made all the connections that I have and with the clarity that seems too come to me. 

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1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

Good gravy, do you really think my opinion on these matters is just based on "summarily waving away the book"?

Well, yes.  You said: "I assume Joseph Smith came up with most of it, but that's just a guess."  Assumptions and guesswork is what you've cited.

Quote

This is why I didn't want to get into a discussion of the book's origins, and I shouldn't have taken the bait. Suffice it to say that my conclusions are the result of a lot of study and prayer over many years, and I would imagine I've read and considered at least as much apologetic work as you have.

I'll leave you to your conclusions, then.  But perhaps you can understand why, given your previous statement, I thought you hadn't given the matter much thought.

Quote

I do think Joseph Smith was capable of writing the Book of Mormon, so if he did, that works just fine for me. Others seem to disagree. No worries.

Fair enough.  

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97

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3 minutes ago, thesometimesaint said:

The mound builder hypothesis doesn't work either. The physical description of Nephite lands are nothing like that of the Mississippian Indian culture.

As I said, the book's origins are another topic. I've written before about how well the Book of Mormon matches the mound-builder mythology, but I'll leave it at that.

Edited by jkwilliams

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58 minutes ago, drums12 said:

I'm really getting tired of people with superficial knowledge of issues surrounding the BofA claiming that it's a closed case (not saying this is you HJW).  The critics have one the battle of popular opinion.  But read "A Brief Assessment of the LDS Book of Abraham" by our own Robert F Smith, and you'll realize it's far from that simple.

It is simple to see that the church doesn't know what to make of the BoA translation. They seem to acknowledge that the provenance isn't what it claimed to be (ie. the words of Abraham, written by his own hand upon papyrus), nor does the translation offered by JS match scholarly translations of the text. Is the church's knowledge on this superficial? They don't know how to define "translation" in this regard so they offer theories. All of the many theories make things complicated, but that doesn't mean it's not relatively simply to see that the BoA wasn't "translated" in the traditional sense, nor does it come from the papyrus, nor was it written by Abraham's own hand.

Edited by HappyJackWagon

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7 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

It is simple to see that the church doesn't know what to make of the BoA translation. They seem to acknowledge that the provenance isn't what it claimed to be (ie. the words of Abraham, written by his own hand upon papyrus), nor does the translation offered by JS match scholarly translations of the text. Is the church's knowledge on this superficial? They don't know how to define "translation" in this regard so they offer theories. All of the many theories make things complicated, but that doesn't mean it's relatively simply to see that the BoA wasn't "translated" in the traditional sense, nor does it come from the papyrus, nor was it written by Abraham's own hand.

Nor is your understanding, of what all of these things mean, correct.

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42 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I assume Joseph Smith came up with most of it, but that's just a guess. However it came about, it seems pretty obvious to me that it's of 19th-century origin, as it looks pretty much exactly what you would expect a story combining mound-builder mythology and a restorationist reading of the King James Bible to look like. I don't quite understand how it's problematic not to have a specific theory in mind, as it kind of speaks for itself. It goes without saying that most people here disagree with my assessment, and I'm sure not going to get into a debate about Book of Mormon origins.

I am of two minds on the issue of Book of Mormon historicity.

On the one hand, there is overwhelming evidence it is a product of the 19th century.

On the other hand, there are too many significant ties with the ancient world for me to conclude the Book of Mormon is exclusively a product of the 19th century.

It therefore seems to be one of those treasures both new and old.

Matthew 13:52

52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

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2 minutes ago, consiglieri said:

I am of two minds on the issue of Book of Mormon historicity.

On the one hand, there is overwhelming evidence it is a product of the 19th century.

On the other hand, there are too many significant ties with the ancient world for me to conclude the Book of Mormon is exclusively a product of the 19th century.

It therefore seems to be one of those treasures both new and old.

Matthew 13:52

52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

Works for me. 

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42 minutes ago, consiglieri said:

I am of two minds on the issue of Book of Mormon historicity.

On the one hand, there is overwhelming evidence it is a product of the 19th century.

You're making smac's point and mine from earlier.  You guys throw around terms like "there's overwhelming evidence" for this or that, and really, I think the evidence contrary to Joseph Smith's claims to be remarkably wanting.  

Exactly what is the state of evidence among disbelievers?  If it wasn't for your "testimony" would you be able to continue your disbelief in the church based on the evidence?  Or does the evidence stand on its own?  For as much evidence as you guys claim, you certainly use a lot of "it's unlikely", "probably", "it's possible" et al.

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I had a testimony before being exposed to unvarnished history and doctrine.  After much study I do not believe much evidence supporting the LDS truth claims, and a mountain of evidence against these claims.  I wish this wasn't so.  I would have been happy as a life long member, but I can't unlearn what I know.

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