Jump to content
Benjamin Seeker

Skousen & Carmack Lecture Take Aways

Recommended Posts

On 10/26/2018 at 9:40 PM, JarMan said:

In these passages I take visit to mean "punish on account of." I should also note that the one doing the visiting is always God.

Helaman 13:10 is different on both accounts. It wouldn't make sense to say "punish you on account of your destruction."

Interestingly, I just found that the Hebrew term usually translated as "visit" in the Bible also means "to appoint."

https://biblehub.com/str/hebrew/6485.htm

Perhaps Helaman  13:10 is saying "visit (appoint) your destruction."

 

[Late addition]: That being said, I think the idea of "too see or witness also works." The OED has definitions with the purpose "to see" and Webster's 1828 has connotations of "to see" in its first two definitions for visit. Maybe it is used in Helaman 13:10 to express both "bringing about destruction (as a punishment)" and also witnessing the destruction. After all "visit" definitely has connotations of transitive movement as well as divine punishment. It could even be a case of extended alternate parallelism where "behold" and "visit" are semi-synonymous words:

 

  • Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger,
    • and there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies,
      • to behold your utter destruction;
  • and this shall surely come except ye repent, saith the Lord
    • and those of the fourth generation shall
      • visit your destruction.
Edited by Ryan Dahle

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Interestingly, I just found that the Hebrew term usually translated as "visit" in the Bible also means "to appoint."

https://biblehub.com/str/hebrew/6485.htm

Perhaps Helaman  13:10 is saying "visit (appoint) your destruction."

 

[Late addition]: That being said, I think the idea of "too see or witness also works." The OED has definitions with the purpose "to see" and Webster's 1828 has connotations of "to see" in its first two definitions for visit. Maybe it is used in Helaman 13:10 to express both "bringing about destruction (as a punishment)" and also witnessing the destruction. After all "visit" definitely has connotations of transitive movement as well as divine punishment. It could even be a case of extended alternate parallelism where "behold" and "visit" are semi-synonymous words:

 

  • Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger,
    • and there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies,
      • to behold your utter destruction;
  • and this shall surely come except ye repent, saith the Lord
    • and those of the fourth generation shall
      • visit your destruction.

Yes, you are seeing what I was seeing regarding parallelism. Except I don’t think visit works well here. I think the whole point is that God would cause (visit) the Nephite destruction and their enemies would witness (behold) it. The parallelism doesn’t work if God visits in the first instance but the enemies visit in the second. The parallelism does work if God does the visiting and the enemies do the beholding in both instances. This Latin-English dictionary offers both “visit” and “behold” as a possible interpretation of viso

Several of the words and phrases Skousen has identified as possibly not originating before the early 1700’s can be “moved back in time” by appealing to Latin or French. Hinderment and ites are two examples that appeal to the French.The suffixes -ment and -ites both come from the French. Skousen acknowledges that these words could have been created with knowledge of similar words like government and Israelites, but I think the likelihood increases if our translator was fluent in French. The other instance is retained meaning to take back. The French/Latin roots of this word can mean to take back.

Skousen lists 13 words/phrases that he hasn’t been able to find before the early 1700’s. Of those, I think a plausible case can be made for four of them by appealing to French or Latin. Two of them I think have since been found (though I’m waiting for some feedback on “murmur with”. One example, “an eye singled to”, can plausibly be explained simply by its pronunciation being almost indistinguishable from “an eye single to”. This leaves only six phrases that have not yet been found in EModE. Of these six, four haven’t been found in English in any era, so its possible they are novel constructions that were created either by Joseph Smith or an early modern writer/translator. This leaves us with only two phrases in the entire Book of Mormon that seem to be modern: “they are a descendant of the Jews” (descendant with a plural subject) and “wax strong in years”. Once these two fall (and they will) we will be able to account for everything in the Book of Mormon as being pre-early-1700’s or else novel constructions of an unknown date. 

If you find a horde of coins it’s likely it was hidden soon after the date on the newest coin in the horde. Right now our coin horde appears to have only two modern coins. If we can show these coins are actually early modern, it will make it likely our horde is actually early modern. 

Edited by JarMan

Share this post


Link to post
17 hours ago, Physics Guy said:

It's very unlikely a priori for Smith to have found an otherwise unknown Early Modern text to copy,

There are two parts to this. First is the likelihood that a previously unknown early modern text would surface in the 1800’s. The second is the likelihood that Joseph Smith could have gotten access to it. The first issue is really not uncommon at all. I happen to know of a previously unknown early modern document that surfaced in 1864. The work is called “On the Law of Prize and Booty” and was originally written around 1609. This is a significant series of events since the author of this work is a man named Hugo Grotius. He is the very same man I have proposed as being the original early modern author of the Book of Mormon. Additionally, I believe I can point to a passage in this work that has a striking parallel in the Book of Mormon. In other words, I think it’s plausible the Book of Mormon author was familiar with this 1609-ish work. This argues against Joseph Smith or any of his contemporaries being the author since this work wouldn’t be discovered for another 35 years after the Book of Mormon was dictated. And of course it supports my notion that the Book of Mormon was written by Grotius. 

The second thing to address is the likelihood that Joseph could have come into possession of this manuscript. This likelihood is hard to assess and I think a person’s first reaction would be to consider it very unlikely. But I don’t think it’s as unlikely as it might seem at first. @Rajah Manchou has brought to my attention that a Dr John Smith was Joseph’s great uncle. This is a person that could have very well come into possession of such a manuscript. It’s as little as two degrees of separation then to get it to Joseph Smith Jr. 

Share this post


Link to post
22 hours ago, JarMan said:

If you find a horde of coins it’s likely it was hidden soon after the date on the newest coin in the horde. Right now our coin horde appears to have only two modern coins. If we can show these coins are actually early modern, it will make it likely our horde is actually early modern. 

Even if we could date all of these 13 phrases to before the 1700s, we would still have to deal with the if/and conditionals and with the fact that the text seems to have been carefully massaged for a later audience. And then you still have all the speculative assumptions about who produced the text, why he or she produced it, how it got into Joseph's possession, and how God was involved in the whole thing. 

I guess I've been wondering for a while what is ultimately driving your passion to search for a mystery author in the EModE period instead of just assuming, as Skousen and Carmack do, that the text comes from a being (or beings) on the other side of the veil. 

Share this post


Link to post
41 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Even if we could date all of these 13 phrases to before the 1700s, we would still have to deal with the if/and conditionals and with the fact that the text seems to have been carefully massaged for a later audience. And then you still have all the speculative assumptions about who produced the text, why he or she produced it, how it got into Joseph's possession, and how God was involved in the whole thing. 

The only massaging I think may have happened is obsolete words may have been replaced. What did you have in mind?

43 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I guess I've been wondering for a while what is ultimately driving your passion to search for a mystery author in the EModE period instead of just assuming, as Skousen and Carmack do, that the text comes from a being (or beings) on the other side of the veil. 

Why did Galileo continue to explore the idea that the earth revolves around the sun instead of assuming the church was right that the universe was geocentric? He was simply following the evidence. Following the evidence — even in the face of deeply held religious views — is bound to bring about more knowledge and understanding, not less. Evidence-based reasoning has a pretty good track record. 

Share this post


Link to post
On 10/30/2018 at 9:46 AM, JarMan said:

It's very unlikely a priori for Smith to have found an otherwise unknown Early Modern text to copy,

@Physics Guy This happened at least once. Stephen Mack would have known of the Detroit Manuscript, an unrecognizable Early Modern text that was found by Colonel Edwards, a business partner of Stephen Mack. The text attracted much attention because it was written in a mysterious script that some found to be "Phoenician-like". The script also resembled most, if not all, of the characters on the Anthon Transcript.

It is highly probable that the Smiths would have known about this ancient "Bible", and even possible they saw the script. Turns out the text was written by a 17th century historian who also wrote pseudo-histories of the mythological kings of Ireland based on much earlier chronicles of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 

If it was possible for Stephen Mack's business partner to discover a 17th century history written in a mysterious script that tells of ancient Egyptians and Israelites sailing around the world to an island in the sea, it would also be possible for the Smiths to discover a 17th century history written in a mysterious script of ancient Egyptians and Israelites sailing to an island in the sea.

http://www.olivercowdery.com/smithhome/2000s/2001RBSt.htm

Edited by Rajah Manchou

Share this post


Link to post
15 hours ago, JarMan said:
16 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I guess I've been wondering for a while what is ultimately driving your passion to search for a mystery author in the EModE period instead of just assuming, as Skousen and Carmack do, that the text comes from a being (or beings) on the other side of the veil. 

Why did Galileo continue to explore the idea that the earth revolves around the sun instead of assuming the church was right that the universe was geocentric? He was simply following the evidence. Following the evidence — even in the face of deeply held religious views — is bound to bring about more knowledge and understanding, not less. Evidence-based reasoning has a pretty good track record. 

Ok, well stated more directly, what is it about the standard narrative that you think lacks sufficient evidence to be believed, and that is inferior compared to your theory?

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Ok, well stated more directly, what is it about the standard narrative that you think lacks sufficient evidence to be believed, and that is inferior compared to your theory?

For the record I don't reject the standard narrative. I take it on faith and am comfortable with the cognitive dissonance that comes with pursuing a different explanation.

The main problem with the standard narrative, though, is that the Book of Mormon is completely anachronistic. With my model all of the anachronisms go away. I have discussed dozens of examples on here in the past but I'll bring up one again that I think is very significant. The ethics of warfare in the Book of Mormon make no sense from any ancient people I know of, and especially not from ancient Hebraic or American peoples. The Book of Mormon warfare ethic tells us when warfare is justified, whether it is right to take captives as slaves, the proper treatment of prisoners, the proper treatment of non-combatants, how to deal with robbers, when civil war is justified, when deception is justified, and a host of other related issues. This warfare ethic is not found in the bible or in any ancient cultures. It's very familiar to us moderns and, as a result, I think we tend to not realize just how different it is from the ancient world and from Old Testament peoples.

Now lets look at early modern Europe. A system of international law was being developed in the 16th and 17th Centuries that agrees strikingly with the principles in the Book of Mormon including the ones I have listed above. The man who literally wrote the book on international law (or ethical warfare) is the very person I have proposed as the author of the Book of Mormon. For me, ethical warfare has always been one of the main messages of the Book of Mormon. If you look at my proposed time frame for the production of the Book of Mormon (1635 to 1645) you can see that Europe was in the throes of a horrible war. . . the deadliest war in human history up to that point in time. The Book of Mormon strikes me as a plea to all nations in all times, particularly Christian nations, to repent and end the bloodshed (or don't start it in the first place) or else risk being punished by God with utter destruction.

Share this post


Link to post
On 10/30/2018 at 9:46 AM, JarMan said:

The second thing to address is the likelihood that Joseph could have come into possession of this manuscript. This likelihood is hard to assess and I think a person’s first reaction would be to consider it very unlikely. 

The Irish historian who wrote the 17th century text found by Stephen Mack's business partner, also wrote a pseudo-history of Ireland that was found in a cave in New York, 6 years before the Book of Mormon was published.

TG60Vo80Y5-2000x2000.png











Two 17th century texts (one found under a house, another in a New York cave) Both written in a mysterious script by an author famous for his historical accounts describing migrations of mythological tribes, some from Egypt and the Middle East. 

Edited by Rajah Manchou

Share this post


Link to post
On 10/31/2018 at 2:29 PM, JarMan said:

For the record I don't reject the standard narrative. I take it on faith and am comfortable with the cognitive dissonance that comes with pursuing a different explanation.

The main problem with the standard narrative, though, is that the Book of Mormon is completely anachronistic. With my model all of the anachronisms go away.

What about all the evidence for ancient origins though? How, for example, do you see your warfare connections to Hugo Grotius as being superior to the ancient connections proposed by scholars familiar with the ancient word:

https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen?pub=1108&index=4

https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen?pub=1108&index=5 

https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen?pub=1108&index=6

https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen?pub=1108&index=12

https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/node/201

https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1082&index=11

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/what-was-the-nature-of-nephite-fortifications

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/what-does-archaeology-reveal-about-warfare-during-early-nephite-times

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/why-does-the-book-of-mormon-mention-cimeters

The Book of Mormon honestly doesn't seem very anachronistic to me when it comes to ethical warfare. Its ethics seem to be a fairly obvious outgrowth of biblical and ANE legal and cultural concepts. And its accounts of warfare fit very well in a Mesoamerican setting. 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

What about all the evidence for ancient origins though? How, for example, do you see your warfare connections to Hugo Grotius as being superior to the ancient connections proposed by scholars familiar with the ancient word:

https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen?pub=1108&index=4

https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen?pub=1108&index=5 

https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen?pub=1108&index=6

https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen?pub=1108&index=12

https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/node/201

https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1082&index=11

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/what-was-the-nature-of-nephite-fortifications

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/what-does-archaeology-reveal-about-warfare-during-early-nephite-times

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/why-does-the-book-of-mormon-mention-cimeters

The Book of Mormon honestly doesn't seem very anachronistic to me when it comes to ethical warfare. Its ethics seem to be a fairly obvious outgrowth of biblical and ANE legal and cultural concepts. And its accounts of warfare fit very well in a Mesoamerican setting. 

There are two issues I think are helpful to keep separate. The first is Book of Mormon warfare tactics, strategy and general practices. Second is the issue of a warfare ethic. On the first issue I agree with the scholars that the Book of Mormon is describing "real" warfare. The Book of Mormon author is no doubt familiar with the practices of warfare in the ancient world. Grotius was a historian of ancient warfare, particularly of ancient Rome and Greece. He also wrote the history of Dutch warfare during the late 16th Century including the famous battle with the Spanish Armada. He is really the perfect authorial candidate when it comes to having the necessary knowledge about warfare to be able to construct the narratives in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon similarities to ancient Roman warfare, I think, out-pace any similarities to ancient meso-american warfare.

The second issue--ethics in warfare--is really something I think the scholars have missed the target on. The obvious comparison to make is with the ethics of warfare in the Old Testament. We see a notable divergence from the OT to the Book of Mormon. The OT ethic is based on the idea that what God commands is, by definition, moral. If God commands an offensive war it is, by definition, a moral war. If God commands the slaughter of non-combatant men, women, and children that is, by definition, a moral action. Same thing with taking slaves, plunder, and all other actions in warfare. The God of the Book of Mormon never commands offensive warfare, the slaughter of innocent people, the taking of slaves, or any other practices we would consider immoral from a modern perspective. This is a major anachronism. We do not see this moral order in warfare in any ancient culture in any part of the world. It just didn't exist anciently. This was a system that was developed in early modern times by bringing together Greek philosophy, Christian ethics, and a historical outlook on warfare throughout the ancient through early modern worlds. Grotius' system was based on natural rights and he believed the principles would be valid even without the existence of God. The basic principles were that humans had a natural right to self-preservation and, by extension, the right to protect their property, families, and freedoms. Also, humans are by nature, social creatures, and depend on others in order to help effect the protection of their lives and freedoms. All of his other ideas basically grow from these two basic principles. This is a completely different system from the idea that what God commands God justifies. Instead, the system stands on its own without any command from God. Grotius would never have God command anything that contradicted his system since God is a rational being. The difference between the OT and the Book of Mormon is the difference between radical jihad and the western ideal of tolerance. We should not expect Book of Mormon people to have modern western values

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
11 hours ago, JarMan said:

The second issue--ethics in warfare--is really something I think the scholars have missed the target on. The obvious comparison to make is with the ethics of warfare in the Old Testament. We see a notable divergence from the OT to the Book of Mormon. The OT ethic is based on the idea that what God commands is, by definition, moral. If God commands an offensive war it is, by definition, a moral war. If God commands the slaughter of non-combatant men, women, and children that is, by definition, a moral action. Same thing with taking slaves, plunder, and all other actions in warfare. The God of the Book of Mormon never commands offensive warfare, the slaughter of innocent people, the taking of slaves, or any other practices we would consider immoral from a modern perspective. This is a major anachronism. We do not see this moral order in warfare in any ancient culture in any part of the world. It just didn't exist anciently. This was a system that was developed in early modern times by bringing together Greek philosophy, Christian ethics, and a historical outlook on warfare throughout the ancient through early modern worlds. Grotius' system was based on natural rights and he believed the principles would be valid even without the existence of God. The basic principles were that humans had a natural right to self-preservation and, by extension, the right to protect their property, families, and freedoms. Also, humans are by nature, social creatures, and depend on others in order to help effect the protection of their lives and freedoms. All of his other ideas basically grow from these two basic principles. This is a completely different system from the idea that what God commands God justifies. Instead, the system stands on its own without any command from God. Grotius would never have God command anything that contradicted his system since God is a rational being. The difference between the OT and the Book of Mormon is the difference between radical jihad and the western ideal of tolerance. We should not expect Book of Mormon people to have modern western values

To the contrary, the Book of Mormon actually does support the idea that aggressive warfare is justified when the Lord commands it. That is made clear at the very beginning, with Nephi's slaying of Laban. Nephi was obviously concerned about the moral justification of slaying Laban, but he completed the task because the Lord commanded it. In his explanation and justification of this event to his readers, Nephi declared the following general principle: "Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes" (1 Nephi 4:13). 

Nephi affirmed this same principle was in operation when the Israelites conquered the Canaanites. To his brothers, he explained: 

1 Nephi 17

"33 And now, do ye suppose that the children of this land, who were in the land of promise, who were driven out by our fathers, do ye suppose that they were righteous? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.

34 Do ye suppose that our fathers would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous? I say unto you, Nay.

35 Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteousis favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it.

36 Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.

37 And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked.

38 And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes."

Moreover, aggressive warfare was justified under certain circumstances. For example, Captain Moroni declared: "And behold, if ye do not this, I will come against you with my armies; yea, even I will arm my women and my children, and I will come against you, and I will follow you even into your own land, which is the land of our first inheritance; yea, and it shall be blood for blood, yea, life for life; and I will give you battle even until you are destroyed from off the face of the earth" (Alma 54:12). We can be assured that Moroni's position was in keeping with the commandments of the Lord because in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord affirmed that offensive warfare is justified in just these type of circumstances, and that this instruction was given to the ancient Nephites through Nephi himself: 

D&C 98

31 Nevertheless, thine enemy is in thine hands; and if thou rewardest him according to his works thou art justified; if he has sought thy life, and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified.

32 Behold, this is the law I gave unto my servant Nephi, and thy fathers, Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, and all mine ancient prophets and apostles.

33 And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them.

Isn't this ethic exactly what you were just saying is NOT found in  the Book of Mormon: aggressive offensive warfare being justified, if the Lord commands. We find it in the OT and in the Book of Mormon. It should be noted, however, that after their initial conquest of Canaan, the ancient Israelites weren't fundamentally an aggressive nation bent on conquest or world domination. First of all, they were too weak, militarily, to engage in such pursuits. Moreover, the rebelliousness of their leaders and their general abject state of apostasy shows that their behavior wasn't always in keeping with their moral foundation as represented in the Law of Moses and interpreted and applied by the prophets. Thus even their more aggressive acts of war don't necessarily reflect their founding ethical or moral ideology, which, according to the Book of Mormon was understood and transferred to the Nephite nation through Lehi and Nephi.

I think a closer inspection shows that the Book of Mormon presents a military ethic that is very close to the moral ideology propounded in the Law of Moses, and also that ancient Israel's military ethic was less extreme than you have supposed. This of course would argue against your view of Grotius being the author, whom you stated "would never have God command anything that contradicted his system since God is a rational being." In fact, the Book of Mormon presents a God who can make exceptions to his own general moral prescriptions, in both military matters (as discussed above) and in social matters, such as the practice of polygamy (Jacob 2:30). 

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

To the contrary, the Book of Mormon actually does support the idea that aggressive warfare is justified when the Lord commands it. That is made clear at the very beginning, with Nephi's slaying of Laban. Nephi was obviously concerned about the moral justification of slaying Laban, but he completed the task because the Lord commanded it. In his explanation and justification of this event to his readers, Nephi declared the following general principle: "Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes" (1 Nephi 4:13). 

Nephi affirmed this same principle was in operation when the Israelites conquered the Canaanites. To his brothers, he explained: 

1 Nephi 17

"33 And now, do ye suppose that the children of this land, who were in the land of promise, who were driven out by our fathers, do ye suppose that they were righteous? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.

34 Do ye suppose that our fathers would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous? I say unto you, Nay.

35 Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteousis favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it.

36 Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.

37 And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked.

38 And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes."

The way I interpret the killing of Laban is as a transitory event. It's as if the Book of Mormon is telling us this is the old way of doing things. And it ends as soon as we leave Jerusalem. Never again does the Lord command such a thing in the Book of Mormon. And as you pointed out, Nephi is really torn about this decision. The OT prophets are never torn about killing someone when God commanded it. Or, at least when they are, God punishes them for their hesitation. This is a different God than the one in the Book of Mormon.

The parts you have bolded are about vengeance belonging to God. They do not say it is ethical to start an offensive war just because God commands it.

3 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Moreover, aggressive warfare was justified under certain circumstances. For example, Captain Moroni declared: "And behold, if ye do not this, I will come against you with my armies; yea, even I will arm my women and my children, and I will come against you, and I will follow you even into your own land, which is the land of our first inheritance; yea, and it shall be blood for blood, yea, life for life; and I will give you battle even until you are destroyed from off the face of the earth" (Alma 54:12).

I haven't claimed that aggressive warfare in the Book of Mormon is not commanded. It's offensive warfare that is off limits. The Nephites are free to defend themselves when their lives and liberties are being threatened. Moroni and the Nephites are participating in a war that was thrust upon them by the aggression of their enemies.

4 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

We can be assured that Moroni's position was in keeping with the commandments of the Lord because in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord affirmed that offensive warfare is justified in just these type of circumstances, and that this instruction was given to the ancient Nephites through Nephi himself: 

D&C 98

31 Nevertheless, thine enemy is in thine hands; and if thou rewardest him according to his works thou art justified; if he has sought thy life, and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified.

32 Behold, this is the law I gave unto my servant Nephi, and thy fathers, Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, and all mine ancient prophets and apostles.

33 And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them.

We can't read the D&C to find out what's in the Book of Mormon. We have to read the Book of Mormon to find out what's in the Book of Mormon. And the God of the Book of Mormon never tells the Nephites to start an offensive war. Nor do the Nephites ever justify an aggression by saying that the Lord commanded it. That's an OT concept not a Book of Mormon one.

3 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Isn't this ethic exactly what you were just saying is NOT found in  the Book of Mormon: aggressive offensive warfare being justified, if the Lord commands. We find it in the OT and in the Book of Mormon.

In the Book of Mormon offensive war is never justified and the Lord never commands it (the killing of Laban notwithstanding). I stand by that statement. That is a different concept from whether or not or in what manner God chooses to punish the wicked. And in the Book of Mormon God certainly never commands the wholesale slaughter of innocent people.

3 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

It should be noted, however, that after their initial conquest of Canaan, the ancient Israelites weren't fundamentally an aggressive nation bent on conquest or world domination. First of all, they were too weak, militarily, to engage in such pursuits. Moreover, the rebelliousness of their leaders and their general abject state of apostasy shows that their behavior wasn't always in keeping with their moral foundation as represented in the Law of Moses and interpreted and applied by the prophets. Thus even their more aggressive acts of war don't necessarily reflect their founding ethical or moral ideology,

This is irrelevant to the points I brought up. The relevant issue is when the OT people chose to go to war, what justifications did they use? And how did they prosecute their wars when it came to treating their enemies? When you compare to the Nephites you get fundamentally different answers to these questions.

4 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

which, according to the Book of Mormon was understood and transferred to the Nephite nation through Lehi and Nephi.

No, it wasn't transferred to Lehi and Nephi. It may have been partially transferred to the Lamanites. But the OT justification for war (it is moral because God commanded it) is never used in the Book of Mormon.

4 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I think a closer inspection shows that the Book of Mormon presents a military ethic that is very close to the moral ideology propounded in the Law of Moses, and also that ancient Israel's military ethic was less extreme than you have supposed.

No matter how much you want to ignore it, the OT justifies offensive warfare, the killing of innocent non-combatants, and the enslavement of enemies. It does this over and over again in unambiguous terms. This is not a Book of Mormon military ethic no matter how hard you look. 

4 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

This of course would argue against your view of Grotius being the author, whom you stated "would never have God command anything that contradicted his system since God is a rational being." In fact, the Book of Mormon presents a God who can make exceptions to his own general moral prescriptions, in both military matters (as discussed above) and in social matters, such as the practice of polygamy (Jacob 2:30). 

Notwithstanding the killing of Laban, the God of the Book of Mormon doesn't make exceptions to Grotius' natural law theory of warfare. It's as if we are talking about two different Gods of War. The OT God of War says: what I say you do no matter how horrible it seems. The Book of Mormon God of War says: I will never command something that is immoral in the first place.

Share this post


Link to post
4 hours ago, JarMan said:
8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

To the contrary, the Book of Mormon actually does support the idea that aggressive warfare is justified when the Lord commands it. That is made clear at the very beginning, with Nephi's slaying of Laban. Nephi was obviously concerned about the moral justification of slaying Laban, but he completed the task because the Lord commanded it. In his explanation and justification of this event to his readers, Nephi declared the following general principle: "Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes" (1 Nephi 4:13). 

Nephi affirmed this same principle was in operation when the Israelites conquered the Canaanites. To his brothers, he explained: 

1 Nephi 17

"33 And now, do ye suppose that the children of this land, who were in the land of promise, who were driven out by our fathers, do ye suppose that they were righteous? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.

34 Do ye suppose that our fathers would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous? I say unto you, Nay.

35 Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteousis favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it.

36 Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.

37 And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked.

38 And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes."

The way I interpret the killing of Laban is as a transitory event. It's as if the Book of Mormon is telling us this is the old way of doing things. And it ends as soon as we leave Jerusalem. Never again does the Lord command such a thing in the Book of Mormon. And as you pointed out, Nephi is really torn about this decision. The OT prophets are never torn about killing someone when God commanded it. Or, at least when they are, God punishes them for their hesitation. This is a different God than the one in the Book of Mormon.

The parts you have bolded are about vengeance belonging to God. They do not say it is ethical to start an offensive war just because God commands it.

Well, that is an interesting interpretation. However, it makes just as much sense to view Nephi's statements as corroboration of what is said in D&C 98, which established the Nephite war ethic as being based on the same revelation that God gave to earlier righteous Israelite prophets. If divinely approved offensive warfare is the exception, rather than the rule, then we wouldn't expect to see righteous Nephites engage in offensive warfare, except in very unusual circumstances. 

Also, outside of Israel's conquest of Canaan, is there an example where the Israelites waged a purely offensive war against other nations on those nations' land, or committed war crimes against their people, in a way that is expressly approved of and justified by righteous or prophetic leaders??? I can't think of any examples, but I am by no means an expert in Jewish military history. 

Regardless, it seems you missed the point. Nephi approves of and condones the Israelite conquest of Canaan. It's not just about vengeance (in fact Nephi doesn't bring up vengeance at all), its about God using the righteous to destroy the wicked in a holy war. That is the obvious context of Nephi's statements, and he clearly approved of God's means of eradicating the wicked out of the holy land. 

4 hours ago, JarMan said:
8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Moreover, aggressive warfare was justified under certain circumstances. For example, Captain Moroni declared: "And behold, if ye do not this, I will come against you with my armies; yea, even I will arm my women and my children, and I will come against you, and I will follow you even into your own land, which is the land of our first inheritance; yea, and it shall be blood for blood, yea, life for life; and I will give you battle even until you are destroyed from off the face of the earth" (Alma 54:12).

I haven't claimed that aggressive warfare in the Book of Mormon is not commanded. It's offensive warfare that is off limits. The Nephites are free to defend themselves when their lives and liberties are being threatened. Moroni and the Nephites are participating in a war that was thrust upon them by the aggression of their enemies.

Moroni is warning that he is going to stop waging a defensive war and that he is going to begin to wage an offensive war. He is threatening to come into the Lamanite territory and destroy them from off the face of the earth. Again, this is right in line with what is in D&C 98. Defensive war is the norm, but offensive war is a justifiable option in some circumstances--when an enemy repeatedly attacks you (in Moroni's situation) or when God commands (in Nephi's situation or in the situation of the Israelite conquest of Canaan which Nephi justified and condoned). 

4 hours ago, JarMan said:

No matter how much you want to ignore it, the OT justifies offensive warfare, the killing of innocent non-combatants, and the enslavement of enemies. It does this over and over again in unambiguous terms. This is not a Book of Mormon military ethic no matter how hard you look.

Except, that once again, Nephi expressly approved of Israel's conquest of Canaan and killed Laban based on the same general principle. No matter how much you want to ignore it, the Book of Mormon begins much like Israelites' journey to their own promised land--by justifying human agents who carry out atypical acts of divine punishment. Thus, this is part of the book's military ethic, no matter how hard you look away from it or try to reinterpret it is as being symbolically transitory.

That being the case, the argument for anachronism--which is built on the already shaky grounds of trying to prove a negative in the ancient world (i.e. that no prophets or people ever adopted something similar to the Nephite military ethic; or perhaps that it is unlikely that God could have instructed the Nephites to live a higher standard of warfare than contemporary societies; or even that the Nephites simply lived up to this divinely revealed principle better than their Israelite ancestors--all of which are conceivable possibilities)--really falls apart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Ryan Dahle

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Well, that is an interesting interpretation. However, it makes just as much sense to view Nephi's statements as corroboration of what is said in D&C 98, which established the Nephite war ethic as being based on the same revelation that God gave to earlier righteous Israelite prophets. If divinely approved offensive warfare is the exception, rather than the rule, then we wouldn't expect to see righteous Nephites engage in offensive warfare, except in very unusual circumstances. 

It makes no sense to view Nephi's statements as corroboration of D&C 98. You are conflating two separate ideas. One is the idea that God will punish wicked people, sometimes through defeat in war. Nephi does corroborate this. But the other idea is that God commands offensive wars, the mass slaughter of innocent people, and the enslavement of enemies. Nephi says nothing to support this idea. The righteous Nephites never start offensive wars; never commit mass slaughter; never enslave their enemies.

1 hour ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Also, outside of Israel's conquest of Canaan, is there an example where the Israelites waged a purely offensive war against other nations on those nations' land, or committed war crimes against their people, in a way that is expressly approved of and justified by righteous or prophetic leaders??? I can't think of any examples, but I am by no means an expert in Jewish military history.

See 1 Samuel 15 for a good example.

1 hour ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Regardless, it seems you missed the point. Nephi approves of and condones the Israelite conquest of Canaan. It's not just about vengeance (in fact Nephi doesn't bring up vengeance at all), its about God using the righteous to destroy the wicked in a holy war. That is the obvious context of Nephi's statements, and he clearly approved of God's means of eradicating the wicked out of the holy land. 

I don't think you can support this view. Nephi says the people were ripe in iniquity and that is why the Lord destroyed them. This is what I mean by vengeance. Nephi says nothing that indicates he endorses offensive war, mass slaughter, or slavery. He is simply setting up a dichotomy between good people and evil people to persuade his brothers to follow him. You are reading in what you want to be in there. But it's not in there.

1 hour ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Moroni is warning that he is going to stop waging a defensive war and that he is going to begin to wage an offensive war. He is threatening to come into the Lamanite territory and destroy them from off the face of the earth. Again, this is right in line with what is in D&C 98. Defensive war is the norm, but offensive war is a justifiable option in some circumstances--when an enemy repeatedly attacks you (in Moroni's situation) or when God commands (in Nephi's situation or in the situation of the Israelite conquest of Canaan which Nephi justified and condoned).

By a defensive war I am talking about who started it, not about how it is conducted. This war was clearly not started by the Nephites. They were simply defending themselves. Pursuing an aggressive end to the war does not suddenly make the war offensive. An offensive war would be a war of conquest in order to gain land, tribute, slaves, booty, etc. The Nephites never conduct this type of war which is so common in the OT. Trying to aggressively end a war that is thrust upon you is well within the Grotian war ethic.

1 hour ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Except, that once again, Nephi expressly approved of Israel's conquest of Canaan and killed Laban based on the same general principle. No matter how much you want to ignore it, the Book of Mormon begins much like Israelites' journey to their own promised land--by justifying human agents who carry out atypical acts of divine punishment. Thus, this is part of the book's military ethic, no matter how hard you look away from it or try to reinterpret it is as being symbolically transitory.

Nephi does not expressly approve of the actions of the people of Israel. Again, you are reading something that is not there. And a single homicide (based on ample provocation, as you well know) does not equal unprovoked, offensive warfare that repeatedly involves slaughtering thousands of innocent people. This is a moral equivocation of the worst order. It would be a better comparison to look at some of the non-war homicides that occur in the OT since Nephi's actions were not in a military context. For instance, we have Moses slaying an Egyptian, Sampson murdering a bunch of Philistines, or Elijah killing the prophets of Baal. These acts have varying degrees of provocation (or none, in Sampson's case) but these acts are more comparable. They aren't, however, very useful in helping us understand the military ethic of the OT.

2 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

That being the case, the argument for anachronism--which is built on the already shaky grounds of trying to prove a negative in the ancient world (i.e. that no prophets or people ever adopted something similar to the Nephite military ethic; or perhaps that it is unlikely that God could have instructed the Nephites to live a higher standard of warfare than contemporary societies; or even that the Nephites simply lived up to this divinely revealed principle better than their Israelite ancestors--all of which are conceivable possibilities)--really falls apart.

We have no record of any people practicing or espousing a Nephite military ethic before modern times. None at all. That is what anachronism is. In fact, I would say there has never been a modern culture that has truly practiced it. It's an ideal. Something to aspire to. That's the beauty of the Book of Mormon. It gives individuals and nations ideals to aspire to. And it turns the OT ideal of obey God no matter what completely on its head. As it turns out, God operates based on rational, moral principals that can be derived without having to invoke God to prove them. At least that's what Grotius believed. And I think the Book of Mormon--in contradistinction to the OT--demonstrates this beautifully, as well.

Share this post


Link to post

 

9 hours ago, JarMan said:
12 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Regardless, it seems you missed the point. Nephi approves of and condones the Israelite conquest of Canaan. It's not just about vengeance (in fact Nephi doesn't bring up vengeance at all), its about God using the righteous to destroy the wicked in a holy war. That is the obvious context of Nephi's statements, and he clearly approved of God's means of eradicating the wicked out of the holy land. 

I don't think you can support this view. Nephi says the people were ripe in iniquity and that is why the Lord destroyed them. This is what I mean by vengeance. Nephi says nothing that indicates he endorses offensive war, mass slaughter, or slavery. He is simply setting up a dichotomy between good people and evil people to persuade his brothers to follow him. You are reading in what you want to be in there. But it's not in there.

So you think Nephi didn't know that the Israelites waged an offensive war against the Canaanites, a war which, by divine mandate, required the killing of women and children and livestock? Come on. Nephi and Laman and Lemuel all knew that the Lord commanded the Israelites to utterly destroy some of the Canaanite cities using human agents, just like he used Nephi to slay Laban. Nephi says that the Lord cursed the land "unto [the Canaanite's] destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it (v. 35)." Nephi also explained that after the children of Israel had "crossed the river Jordan he did make them mighty unto the driving out of the children of the land, yea, unto the scattering them to destruction." (v. 32). 

Who made the Israelites "mighty unto the driving out of the children of the land" and "unto the scattering them to destruction"? Obviously Nephi is ascribing the success of their military prowess to God, who expressly commanded the people to take brutal offensive military actions. Sorry, but Nephi clearly was supporting and condoning God's use of human agents to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan in an offensive war that, in some cases, involved the utter destruction of their enemies. I don't see how you can get around this. You are reading out of the text what you don't want to be there.

9 hours ago, JarMan said:

And a single homicide (based on ample provocation, as you well know) does not equal unprovoked, offensive warfare that repeatedly involves slaughtering thousands of innocent people. This is a moral equivocation of the worst order.

I think you know that the issue is about the underlying ethical principle which is at the heart of this debate. Nephi committed a violent action that he would have otherwise not have done, solely because the Lord commanded him to do so. That is the point. It is a solid example of the Book of Mormon (from its major founding prophet, no less) teaching that what the Lord commands is  right, even if it runs contrary to our current moral sensibilities or typical moral expectations. That is Nephi's clear moral message, which is never contradicted by any other teaching in the text. 

We actually see a similar example to Nephi's experience presented in the text--this time of justified attempted homicide: "And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son" (Jacob 4:5). Once again, the Book of Mormon affirms that following God is right, even if he commands an individual to kill his own child. The fact that in this case Abraham wasn't required to go through with the commandment is beside the point. The underlying moral message remains the same: obedience to God trumps all other moral considerations. 

So that is now four clear instances of the BofM condoning otherwise immoral behavior if God commands it (three of them involving unusual acts of violence):

1. The Israelite's offensive military conquest of Canaan

2. Nephi's slaying of Laban

3. Abraham's attempted sacrifice of Isaac 

4. The practice of having many wives

9 hours ago, JarMan said:
12 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

That being the case, the argument for anachronism--which is built on the already shaky grounds of trying to prove a negative in the ancient world (i.e. that no prophets or people ever adopted something similar to the Nephite military ethic; or perhaps that it is unlikely that God could have instructed the Nephites to live a higher standard of warfare than contemporary societies; or even that the Nephites simply lived up to this divinely revealed principle better than their Israelite ancestors--all of which are conceivable possibilities)--really falls apart.

We have no record of any people practicing or espousing a Nephite military ethic before modern times. None at all. That is what anachronism is. In fact, I would say there has never been a modern culture that has truly practiced it. It's an ideal. Something to aspire to. That's the beauty of the Book of Mormon. It gives individuals and nations ideals to aspire to. And it turns the OT ideal of obey God no matter what completely on its head.

You are avoiding my point. We are repeatedly told that we don't have a hundredth part of the proceedings of the Nehpites, and that statement really captures the larger picture of the ancient world. We only know a small portion of what beliefs and activities actually took place. Because the sample size of the records we have is not very representative, the absence of evidence upon which the argument for anachronism depends is not reliable in the first place. Other nations or people very well could have implemented something like the Nephites' military ethic, and the Nephites very well could have carried out an unusual act of divinely directed punishment against their enemies--and we could easily not know it. 

Also, the Book of Mormon does NOT turn the OT ideal of obey God no matter what completely on its head. You would have to have an example where God actually commanded someone to do something and the Book of Mormon showed that a character was morally justified for not doing it. That never happens in the text. All we have is a general absence of God commanding offense military actions like we see in the early days of Israelite history. You are then inferring a general principle from this absence of evidence that can't be reliably or even logically inferred--especially if divinely directed offensive military action is the exception rather than the norm, as stated in D&C 98. 

 

Edited by Ryan Dahle

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

 

So you think Nephi didn't know that the Israelites waged an offensive war against the Canaanites, a war which, by divine mandate, required the killing of women and children and livestock? Come on. Nephi and Laman and Lemuel all knew that the Lord commanded the Israelites to utterly destroy some of the Canaanite cities using human agents, just like he used Nephi to slay Laban. Nephi says that the Lord cursed the land "unto [the Canaanite's] destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it (v. 35)." Nephi also explained that after the children of Israel had "crossed the river Jordan he did make them mighty unto the driving out of the children of the land, yea, unto the scattering them to destruction." (v. 32). 

Who made the Israelites "mighty unto the driving out of the children of the land" and "unto the scattering them to destruction"? Obviously Nephi is ascribing the success of their military prowess to God, who expressly commanded the people to take brutal offensive military actions. Sorry, but Nephi clearly was supporting and condoning God's use of human agents to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan in an offensive war that, in some cases, involved the utter destruction of their enemies. I don't see how you can get around this. You are reading out of the text what you don't want to be there.

I think you know that the issue is about the underlying ethical principle which is at the heart of this debate. Nephi committed a violent action that he would have otherwise not have done, solely because the Lord commanded him to do so. That is the point. It is a solid example of the Book of Mormon (from its major founding prophet, no less) teaching that what the Lord commands is  right, even if it runs contrary to our current moral sensibilities or typical moral expectations. That is Nephi's clear moral message, which is never contradicted by any other teaching in the text. 

We actually see a similar example to Nephi's experience presented in the text--this time of justified attempted homicide: "And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son" (Jacob 4:5). Once again, the Book of Mormon affirms that following God is right, even if he commands an individual to kill his own child. The fact that in this case Abraham wasn't required to go through with the commandment is beside the point. The underlying moral message remains the same: obedience to God trumps all other moral considerations. 

So that is now four clear instances of the BofM condoning otherwise immoral behavior if God commands it (three of them involving unusual acts of violence):

1. The Israelite's offensive military conquest of Canaan

2. Nephi's slaying of Laban

3. Abraham's attempted sacrifice of Isaac 

4. The practice of having many wives

You are avoiding my point. We are repeatedly told that we don't have a hundredth part of the proceedings of the Nehpites, and that statement really captures the larger picture of the ancient world. We only know a small portion of what beliefs and activities actually took place. Because the sample size of the records we have is not very representative, the absence of evidence upon which the argument for anachronism depends is not reliable in the first place. Other nations or people very well could have implemented something like the Nephites' military ethic, and the Nephites very well could have carried out an unusual act of divinely directed punishment against their enemies--and we could easily not know it. 

Also, the Book of Mormon does NOT turn the OT ideal of obey God no matter what completely on its head. You would have to have an example where God actually commanded someone to do something and the Book of Mormon showed that a character was morally justified for not doing it. That never happens in the text. All we have is a general absence of God commanding offense military actions like we see in the early days of Israelite history. You are then inferring a general principle from this absence of evidence that can't be reliably or even logically inferred--especially if divinely directed offensive military action is the exception rather than the norm, as stated in D&C 98. 

You are espousing a fiction by continuing to claim that Nephi condoned the specific violent actions of the Israelites in conquering Canaan. It's like saying that praising the outcome of the Civil War or the Revolutionary War or WWII or any war for that matter is an implicit endorsement of any war crimes or atrocities committed by the winning side. Actually it's even worse than that because the purpose of Nephi's commentary isn't to pontificate on the war at all. His purpose is to establish the dichotomy we see throughout both the OT and the Book of Mormon: God punishes the wicked and blesses the righteous. You want to conflate method with outcome to support your point when neither the context nor a direct reading supports this. Nephi is talking outcome. As in, come on big brothers, if you don't support me in this commandment from God, this is going to be the outcome.

You are conveniently forgetting some important details in the Laban story. Part of the justification for killing Laban was that he had tried to kill Nephi and his brothers and had taken their property. The Lord doesn't deliver a drunken Laban into Nephi's hands until after he had some moral justification for the killing. Whether there was sufficient provocation or not is up for debate. But you can't pretend this is similar to the repeated, unprovoked, mass killing of women and children.

As far as Abraham's non-sacrifice of Isaac there are a few things to consider. As I mentioned earlier, I see the early part of the Book of Mormon as a transition from a barbaric to a more civilized culture. Nephi and his family were Israelites. They were products of the barbaric culture they inherited. I see both the killing of Laban and also the taking of his servant captive as morally borderline actions. In my mind this shows the ethical transformation that is taking place. Afterwards they no longer justify killing in any situation except punishment for severe crimes and in defensive wars. And they no longer justify slavery. And the Nephites find themselves in a moral conundrum similar to the one we face today. The god of our holy scripture commanded things in the past that are immoral. We try to find a balancing act where we pay some amount of lip service to the idea of obedience to God, yet we don't condone the immoral things the people were commanded to do. In my mind this is what Nephi is doing when he points out that Abraham's actions in obeying God were considered to be righteous. We had this very discussion in Gospel Doctrine Class earlier this year. We can admire Abraham for his obedience while simultaneously and unambiguously rejecting the idea of human sacrifice under any circumstance.

In bringing up multiple wives I think you've mis-identified what is really happening. The commandment in the Book of Mormon is actually more restrictive than the OT. So you can't claim the people were being allowed to do something they would normally find morally repugnant. It was just the opposite. They were being limited in a practice they found to be morally acceptable.

Now we come to the issue of anachronism again. You are recycling an oft misused apologetic argument that I really wish people would reflect a little bit more upon. It is not logically coherent to claim an anachronism does not exist based on what we don't know. This argument usually takes two different forms. The first, is that the Nephites had scriptures or teachings not found in the Book of Mormon. If we had those scriptures (the argument goes) then we would find all of the missing doctrines such as the degrees of glory or temple work for the dead or whatever it is we want to be in the Nephite record that just doesn't show up in the Book of Mormon. The second form this argument takes is to say that the evidence is out there, we just haven't found it yet. This is usually used in the context of archaeology. No horses or elephants in the archaeological record from the correct time period?--We just haven't found it yet. At some point we have to come up with an explanation that relies on the facts we actually know instead of an explanation that appeals to speculation about what exists in the gaps. This is the intellectually honest approach. The other way is more of a faith-based approach, which I don't have a problem with, by the way. My problem is when people dress the faith-based approached in fact-based clothing and try to pass it off as something it isn't.

Finally, you are missing the point about the changed ethic we see in the Book of Mormon. God never commands human sacrifice or the slaughter of innocent people in the Book of Mormon precisely because God is inherently ethical. He cannot command something that is against his own nature. And we can infer general ethical principles based on the events in the Book of Mormon. That is precisely what this book of scripture is begging us to do.

Edited by JarMan

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, JarMan said:

Finally, you are missing the point about the changed ethic we see in the Book of Mormon. God never commands human sacrifice or the slaughter of innocent people in the Book of Mormon precisely because God is inherently ethical. He cannot command something that is against his own nature. And we can infer general ethical principles based on the events in the Book of Mormon. That is precisely what this book of scripture is begging us to do.

Well, I disagree with this and essentially every main point you have made in this latest post. But it has been good for me to sort of test some of your thinking, which helps me assess where you are going with your general theory and why. I doubt we are going to get anywhere with this discussion, so I won't offer my rebuttal, which would necessarily be rather lengthy. Thanks for the good conversation. I appreciate it.

Share this post


Link to post
4 hours ago, JarMan said:

The god of our holy scripture commanded things in the past that are immoral. 

4 hours ago, JarMan said:

God is inherently ethical.  He cannot command something that is against his own nature

I don't understand how you reconcile these ideas.  If God is not immoral by nature, then he cannot command immorality.  So these two sentences seem to contradict each other - can you clarify this?

This also largely depends on your definition of morality.  For man to judge God based on man's definition of morality seems kind of backwards.

Quote

We try to find a balancing act where we pay some amount of lip service to the idea of obedience to God, yet we don't condone the immoral things the people were commanded to do.

I don't understand this either.  You cannot simultaneously condone and condemn a behavior at the same time - unless you are a slimy politician ;) 

Edited by pogi

Share this post


Link to post
7 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Well, I disagree with this and essentially every main point you have made in this latest post. But it has been good for me to sort of test some of your thinking, which helps me assess where you are going with your general theory and why. I doubt we are going to get anywhere with this discussion, so I won't offer my rebuttal, which would necessarily be rather lengthy. Thanks for the good conversation. I appreciate it.

Thanks for the challenges and civil discussion. 

Share this post


Link to post
5 hours ago, pogi said:

I don't understand how you reconcile these ideas.  If God is not immoral by nature, then he cannot command immorality.  So these two sentences seem to contradict each other - can you clarify this?

You’re right. They do contradict each other. That’s because one concept is from the OT and the other is from the Book of Mormon. My whole point is that these two books present different views of the nature of God. My explanation for this is that the OT is an ancient work and the Book of Mormon is an early modern one. 

5 hours ago, pogi said:

This also largely depends on your definition of morality.  For man to judge God based on man's definition of morality seems kind of backwards.

The ancient view of morality is that whatever God commands is, by definition, moral. This is the view in the OT. We thus see unspeakable cruelty to innocent people being required by God in the OT.

Grotius’ view of ethics was that ethical behavior could be derived from a few basic principles, even if God didn’t exist. He reasoned that God’s will would be consistent with this view since God is both rational and good. So man isn’t judging God. He’s simply using reason to identify true principles consistent with God’s will. 

5 hours ago, pogi said:

I don't understand this either.  You cannot simultaneously condone and condemn a behavior at the same time - unless you are a slimy politician ;) 

I don’t understand it either but we still see it. We praise Abraham for his obedience while simultaneously condemning human sacrifice. The rational way to look at this is to either admit that human sacrifice is sometimes acceptable, or else to admit that Abraham was wrong to obey God. I take the second view because I disagree with the OT idea that murdering innocent people is moral if God commands it. I prefer the Book of Mormon view which is that God won’t command that which is immoral. 

Share this post


Link to post
12 hours ago, JarMan said:

You’re right. They do contradict each other. That’s because one concept is from the OT and the other is from the Book of Mormon. My whole point is that these two books present different views of the nature of God. My explanation for this is that the OT is an ancient work and the Book of Mormon is an early modern one. 

Thanks for explaining.  

Nephi/Lehi lived in OT times so why would they hold different views on the nature of God?

12 hours ago, JarMan said:

The ancient view of morality is that whatever God commands is, by definition, moral. This is the view in the OT. We thus see unspeakable cruelty to innocent people being required by God in the OT.

Would not have Nephi held the same view of morality as an Old Testament times prophet?

"Unspeakable cruelty being required by God"  What do you make of that?  Are you suggesting that these accounts are fictional, that God did not really require such cruelty, or are you suggesting that God is immoral, at least according to our definition?

12 hours ago, JarMan said:

Grotius’ view of ethics was that ethical behavior could be derived from a few basic principles, even if God didn’t exist. He reasoned that God’s will would be consistent with this view since God is both rational and good. So man isn’t judging God. He’s simply using reason to identify true principles consistent with God’s will. 

 Any foundational principles from which we can build an ethical paradigm are based entirely on presuppositions rather than reason or logic.  So, how can one use reason to identify "true principles" of morality, without relying on underlying presuppositions about suffering and the value of life, etc?

12 hours ago, JarMan said:

I don’t understand it either but we still see it. We praise Abraham for his obedience while simultaneously condemning human sacrifice. The rational way to look at this is to either admit that human sacrifice is sometimes acceptable, or else to admit that Abraham was wrong to obey God. I take the second view because I disagree with the OT idea that murdering innocent people is moral if God commands it. I prefer the Book of Mormon view which is that God won’t command that which is immoral. 

If you accept the atonement of Jesus Christ (the symbol of Abraham's sacrifice), don't you have to conclude that human/self sacrifice is sometimes acceptable to God?

How can one say that Abraham was wrong to obey God without acknowledging that God was wrong?

Edited by pogi

Share this post


Link to post
11 hours ago, pogi said:

Thanks for explaining.  

Nephi/Lehi lived in OT times so why would they hold different views on the nature of God?

Would not have Nephi held the same view of morality as an Old Testament times prophet?

If the Book of Mormon was ancient scripture we would expect the Book of Mormon people to have ancient views. Since they have modern views instead that tells us the Book of Mormon is probably a modern book. 

11 hours ago, pogi said:

"Unspeakable cruelty being required by God"  What do you make of that?  Are you suggesting that these accounts are fictional, that God did not really require such cruelty, or are you suggesting that God is immoral, at least according to our definition?

I’m suggesting those that authored the OT accounts were trying to justify the immoral behavior of their people by claiming God commanded them to do it. 

11 hours ago, pogi said:

Any foundational principles from which we can build an ethical paradigm are based entirely on presuppositions rather than reason or logic.  So, how can one use reason to identify "true principles" of morality, without relying on underlying presuppositions about suffering and the value of life, etc?

I mentioned two underlying principles of Grotius’ system of ethics. They are that people have a right to defend themselves and that humans are social creatures. He derives everything else from these ideas. 

11 hours ago, pogi said:

If you accept the atonement of Jesus Christ (the symbol of Abraham's sacrifice), don't you have to conclude that human/self sacrifice is sometimes acceptable to God?

No. 

11 hours ago, pogi said:

How can one say that Abraham was wrong to obey God without acknowledging that God was wrong?

If God had commanded it God would have been wrong. My view is that God did not command it. It is just a story demonstrating the level of commitment the people were expected to have toward God. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
11 hours ago, JarMan said:

If the Book of Mormon was ancient scripture we would expect the Book of Mormon people to have ancient views. Since they have modern views instead that tells us the Book of Mormon is probably a modern book. 

I’m suggesting those that authored the OT accounts were trying to justify the immoral behavior of their people by claiming God commanded them to do it. 

I mentioned two underlying principles of Grotius’ system of ethics. They are that people have a right to defend themselves and that humans are social creatures. He derives everything else from these ideas. 

No. 

If God had commanded it God would have been wrong. My view is that God did not command it. It is just a story demonstrating the level of commitment the people were expected to have toward God. 

Ok, I understand where you are coming from now.  Sorry, came in late to the conversation.

In regards to Grotius, again, all his arguments are based on presuppositions. What does he mean we have a "right"?  Does he view rights as God given or government given?  Because there is no such thing as nature given rights, those are what we would call natural "abilities" not "rights".  How can he rationally defend either position without relying on presuppositions?  If they are God given, then that is a faith based presupposition.  If they are government given, then they are not universal/absolute unquestionable/undeniable rights.     Second, are all humans social creatures, and what does that have to do with morality/ethics?  We are sexual creatures too, therefore what?  We are selfish creatures too.  Some more than others.  There are some that are called anti-social.   How can one rationalize that their behavior is any less ethical than anyone else's without relying on presuppositions?  Third, these underlying principles say nothing of sexual morality/ethics, lying, animal mistreatment, environmental ethics, etc. etc. There are endless presuppositions that are not based in rationality/reason, rather they are based on presuppositions, which are largely based on feelings of right vs. wrong and good vs. bad, rather than reason.  Any justification for any ethic/moral is entirely dependent upon those underlying presuppositions right vs. wrong which are not based in reason at all.  Some might call them "self-evident", which speaks to their lack of a rational foundation and instead point to some unspoken inherent understanding or sense of right vs. wrong.  You can follow the reasoning and rationality of ethics all the way back to their underlying presuppositions, but when you examine their foundation, they are arational. 

Quote

No. 

Are you suggesting that the "sacrifice" of Jesus Christ was not the will of God?  

Edited by pogi

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, pogi said:

Ok, I understand where you are coming from now.  Sorry, came in late to the conversation.

In regards to Grotius, again, all his arguments are based on presuppositions. What does he mean we have a "right"?  Does he view rights as God given or government given?  Because there is no such thing as nature given rights, those are what we would call natural "abilities" not "rights".  How can he rationally defend either position without relying on presuppositions?  If they are God given, then that is a faith based presupposition.  If they are government given, then they are not universal/absolute unquestionable/undeniable rights.     Second, are all humans social creatures, and what does that have to do with morality/ethics?  We are sexual creatures too, therefore what?  We are selfish creatures too.  Some more than others.  There are some that are called anti-social.   How can one rationalize that their behavior is any less ethical than anyone else's without relying on presuppositions?  Third, these underlying principles say nothing of sexual morality/ethics, lying, animal mistreatment, environmental ethics, etc. etc. There are endless presuppositions that are not based in rationality/reason, rather they are based on presuppositions, which are largely based on feelings of right vs. wrong and good vs. bad, rather than reason.  Any justification for any ethic/moral is entirely dependent upon those underlying presuppositions right vs. wrong which are not based in reason at all.  Some might call them "self-evident", which speaks to their lack of a rational foundation and instead point to some unspoken inherent understanding or sense of right vs. wrong.  You can follow the reasoning and rationality of ethics all the way back to their underlying presuppositions, but when you examine their foundation, they are arational. 

The ethical systems I'm comparing are the ethics of war. So things like sexual behavior are not part of my analysis. I think I should try to explain Grotius' system a little better. He lived in a time of tremendous religious strife and religious warfare. Heretics were being burned at the stake and most of Europe was being ravaged by war. The subtext to all of this strife was religious disagreement (though of course there were other political considerations, as well). Grotius wanted to develop a code of conduct in war that everybody could agree to. By identifying "natural law" principles he felt they could be universally accepted--even by those who didn't believe in God. His starting point was that man had an inherent right--a "natural right"-- to defend himself. He may have personally believed this right was from God. But to allow this to be a universal right accepted even by non-believers, he didn't appeal to the divine in order to identify self defense as a natural right. The second principle was the social nature of man. Man was this way by nature. Whether he personally believed God had created man that way or not is beside the point. He simply stated that man was naturally in that state as a principle that he hoped could be universally accepted by both religious and non-religious people.

This second principle is important for a couple of reasons. It implies that people will organize themselves into groups for their own mutual benefit--governments, if you will--and that there are thus different ways (some better than others) to accomplish this. Also, people will need to depend on others to help them with the first principle, which is self defense since one person can't effectively do that job on his own. This becomes the foundation of what later thinkers would call social contract theory. By organizing into societies for mutual benefits, particularly self defense, you owe something to that society. You can't simply free-ride on the benefits without contributing anything yourself.

An example of this theory applied in Grotius' life is the case of the Anabaptists (whose modern theological descendants include the Mennonites and Amish). Grotius was an admirer of the Anabaptists who he felt were the most Christian people he knew. However, he strongly disagreed with their pacifist views. It sort of broke his heart to be in such strong disagreement with them over this issue. He respected their own personal choice in choosing not to fight but felt pacifism was not a principle that all Christians should adopt. As a compromise he believed that Anabaptists could exist within the larger Christian community as long as they agreed to pay for the costs of their protection. We see these exact principles reflected in the Book of Mormon with the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. They are revered as examples of righteousness. But they also have to pay for the protections provided by the Nephites. This is one of the many examples where Grotius' natural law theory shines through in the Book of Mormon.

3 hours ago, pogi said:

Are you suggesting that the "sacrifice" of Jesus Christ was not the will of God?  

If Abinadi is to be believed, "God himself" came down in "the form of man" (Mosiah 13:34). This was the heresy charge that led to him being burned at the stake (Mosiah 17:7-8). So God didn't sacrifice his son. He sacrificed himself. Self sacrifice can be a moral act.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×