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Rivers

The Book of Mormon is a conundrum.

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The Book of Mormon is a strange phenomenon.  

On one hand there are legitimate problems.  Namely, the anachronisms and lack of hard archaeological proof.

On the other hand we have the complexity and intricacy of the text itself, the historical record of its production, and the testimonies of all the witnesses.  It’s all very impressive.  

And of course there is the spiritual witness received by myself along with millions of others.  

 I believe it’s inspired but saying it’s historical is still a leap for me.  A strange book indeed.  

 

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Perhaps one who sees "anachronisms" and "lack of archaeological proof" in the Book of Mormon sees those alleged issues less as they are, and more as he is. ;):) 

Just a thought.

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2 hours ago, Rivers said:

The Book of Mormon is a strange phenomenon.  

On one hand there are legitimate problems.  Namely, the anachronisms and lack of hard archaeological proof.

On the other hand we have the complexity and intricacy of the text itself, the historical record of its production, and the testimonies of all the witnesses.  It’s all very impressive.  

And of course there is the spiritual witness received by myself along with millions of others.  

 I believe it’s inspired but saying it’s historical is still a leap for me.  A strange book indeed.  

 

If you want a much more impressive book...... historically accurate, lacking anachronisms, mountains of hard archaeological proof, thousands of pieces  of textual support in many differing languages....billions of believers.......you should stick with the far superior... Bible. 

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If it's not historical, then all those other things don't matter. One has to accept the whole package or none of it. 

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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, snowflake said:

If you want a much more impressive book...... historically accurate, lacking anachronisms, mountains of hard archaeological proof, thousands of pieces  of textual support in many differing languages....billions of believers.......you should stick with the far superior... Bible. 

While the Bible is ancient, much of is invented material in terms of the people and events. The Book of Daniel is in many ways similar to the Book of Mormon.

Edited by Gray
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Rivers said:

The Book of Mormon is a strange phenomenon.  

On one hand there are legitimate problems.  Namely, the anachronisms and lack of hard archaeological proof.

On the other hand we have the complexity and intricacy of the text itself, the historical record of its production, and the testimonies of all the witnesses.  It’s all very impressive.  

And of course there is the spiritual witness received by myself along with millions of others.  

 I believe it’s inspired but saying it’s historical is still a leap for me.  A strange book indeed.  

The conundrum went away for me when I started to view the world through a naturalistic lens.  Of course there are anachronisms because Joseph is a 19th century human and can't possibly create a narrative without infusing his 19th century lens into the product.  

Witnesses for Mormonism are like witnesses for bigfoot or alien abductions or other religious claims of the supernatural, they are materially inaccurate albeit sometimes sincere witness statements.  

Personal spiritual witness is always a subjective experience, and should not automatically be put into the category of scientific accuracy, but more often than not belongs in the category of meaning making and art and love.  

All of the complexities make a whole lot of sense when I look at them through this view.  

Edited by hope_for_things
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8 minutes ago, Gray said:

Obviously not. Many people don't accept that false dichotomy.

How is that false? If Joseph Smith made up the whole story then he is not the prophet he claimed to be. 

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2 minutes ago, JAHS said:

How is that false? If Joseph Smith made up the whole story then he is not the prophet he claimed to be. 

Prophets make up stories too. Jesus taught almost entirely in made up stories.

The Book of Daniel is a made up story. It's still scripture.

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1 hour ago, JAHS said:

If it's not historical, then all those other things don't matter. One has to accept the whole package or none of it. 

Not at all, not even the Bible is 100% historical, why expect the Book of Mormon to be?

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1 hour ago, snowflake said:

If you want a much more impressive book...... historically accurate, lacking anachronisms, mountains of hard archaeological proof, thousands of pieces  of textual support in many differing languages....billions of believers.......you should stick with the far superior... Bible. 

The Bible has it's issues too.   Did you know that placing striped sticks in view of mating animals results in striped offspring?  (Gen.30:35--43)
But I still have faith that both are true.

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Just now, mnn727 said:

Not at all, not even the Bible is 100% historical, why expect the Book of Mormon to be?

I expect that Joseph Smith actually obtained gold plates and translated them by the power of God and brought forth the history of the people. I don't expect the Book of Mormon to be 100% historical, but I do expect it to be mostly historical. 

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5 minutes ago, Gray said:

Prophets make up stories too. Jesus taught almost entirely in made up stories.

The Book of Daniel is a made up story. It's still scripture.

I am not talking about made up stories within the scripture I am talking about the fact that the Nephites, Lamanites and all characters in the Book of Mormon actually existed. 

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4 hours ago, Rivers said:

The Book of Mormon is a strange phenomenon.  

On one hand there are legitimate problems.  Namely, the anachronisms and lack of hard archaeological proof.

On the other hand we have the complexity and intricacy of the text itself, the historical record of its production, and the testimonies of all the witnesses.  It’s all very impressive.  

And of course there is the spiritual witness received by myself along with millions of others.  

 I believe it’s inspired but saying it’s historical is still a leap for me.  A strange book indeed.  

 

As Parley P. Pratt so eloquently described it... "he began to tell of a book, a STRANGE BOOK, a VERY STRANGE BOOK!" I do think there is more reason to hold it to be what its text says it to be, "history" being a very flexible concept.

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9 minutes ago, mnn727 said:

Not at all, not even the Bible is 100% historical, why expect the Book of Mormon to be?

I read that more to mean if The Book of Mormon wasn’t what it claims to be. So if there never was a group of people leaving Jerusalem, there were never Nephites or Lamanites, a resurrected Christ never actually appeared to an ancient civilization, there never was a Moroni who would later be claimed as the angel who helped bring forth the record, and there were never any plates that many people testified of. I do find that view rather problematic to still believing in any kind of truth claims about the church. 

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11 minutes ago, JAHS said:

I am not talking about made up stories within the scripture I am talking about the fact that the Nephites, Lamanites and all characters in the Book of Mormon actually existed. 

The prophet Daniel didn't exist either.

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1 minute ago, Gray said:

The prophet Daniel didn't exist either.

Not only that, but the evidence we have to support much of the Hebrew Bible containing accurate historical events isn't compelling, as there little to no evidence.  Of course the bible doesn't actually make claims to be accurate history, the authors of these disparate texts were writing for different purposes using different genres to communicate different perspectives.  A paradigm of accurate modern historiography would be completely foreign to the authors of these texts.   

Did historical humans even exist that these later mythical stories were built on is a question that is difficult to answer for most of the old patriarchs.  The details of the stories about the characters represented in the text are even less likely to be accurate descriptions of history.  So not only do we have little to no evidence that the people even existed, we have even less evidence to support the substance of the stories themselves in terms of historical accuracy. 

So its not just that Daniel or Job or some other book is the exception to the rule on being historical.  That paradigm should flipped to view the vast majority of the Hebrew Bible as completely lacking in historical accuracy, and to approach the text with very different expectations.  

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14 minutes ago, Gray said:

The prophet Daniel didn't exist either.

I am also not talking about one prophet in the scripture. I am talking about the actual existence of the Gold plates and that Joseph Smith translated them into the Book of Mormon. 

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7 minutes ago, JAHS said:

I am also not talking about one prophet in the scripture. I am talking about the actual existence of the Gold plates and that Joseph Smith translated them into the Book of Mormon. 

Yes, I know. So if that didn't happen the way you thought, does that mean the Book of Mormon is wrong about being generous to the poor?

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2 minutes ago, Gray said:

Yes, I know. So if that didn't happen the way you thought, does that mean the Book of Mormon is wrong about being generous to the poor?

I say it did happen the way I thought, so your question is irrelevant.  

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5 hours ago, Rivers said:

On one hand there are legitimate problems.  Namely, the anachronisms and lack of hard archaeological proof.

In my view, these "problems" need to be qualified. It is very difficult to reliably prove negatives when it comes to ancient history. The archaeological and historical record is extremely fragmented, new and unexpected discoveries are made quite frequently, old views are often overturned or refined, discrepancies between historical texts and the archaeological record are plentiful, and unsolved mysteries abound. 

It should also be noted that there really is a LOT of circumstantial archaeological/historical evidence that supports the Book of Mormon's authenticity. Certainly not enough to compel a disbelieving audience to accept its claimed historicity, but definitely enough to provide a robust defense of its historical plausibility, especially for those who have testimonies of its spiritual worth and who are familiar with the historical documentation and eye-witness testimonies related to its coming forth.

For me, the real problem is that many people simply fail to understand the true limitations of archaeological evidence, nor are most who are bothered by the perceived lack of evidence usually all that familiar with the research that has been done which potentially connects the text with its claimed ancient milieus.  

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1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

The conundrum went away for me when I started to view the world through a naturalistic lens.

There is nothing at all wrong with reason and logic.  What you may not realize is that Mormonism is an entirely naturalistic religion, seeing no contradiction between faith and reason.  It posits an entirely natural God(s) in a natural universe.  Even spirit is merely a finer form of matter, and God himself was once a man.  This is a frank denial of Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition.

1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

  Of course there are anachronisms because Joseph is a 19th century human and can't possibly create a narrative without infusing his 19th century lens into the product. 

Since we  know that the Book of Mormon text was received in Early Modern English, it cannot have been composed by anyone in the 19th century.  Why?  Because EModE was already extinct at that time.   BMC, “Does the Book of Mormon Really Have ‘Bad’ Grammar? (Ether 12:25),” KnoWhy #490, Dec 4, 2018, online at https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/does-the-book-of-mormon-really-have-bad-grammar .

What about the  thousands of claimed anachronisms in the Bible and Book of Mormon?  Many of those are merely misunderstandings or mistranslations of the text.  Many exhibit our lack of knowledge about the ancient world.  Professional linguistics, archeology, and history have shown us, for example, that most of the alleged anachronisms were based on lack of hard data.

There are actually very few true anachronisms in the Bible or Book of Mormon.  What is remarkable are the many accurate statements in both books, which can now be verified scientifically.  That is via reason.  If either book is phony, that should not be possible.

1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

Witnesses for Mormonism are like witnesses for bigfoot or alien abductions or other religious claims of the supernatural, they are materially inaccurate albeit sometimes sincere witness statements.  

Personal spiritual witness is always a subjective experience, and should not automatically be put into the category of scientific accuracy, but more often than not belongs in the category of meaning making and art and love.  .......................  

Correct.  However, I know of no one who is so foolish as to "automatically" place "subjective experience . . . into the category of scientific accuracy."  Perhaps you could cite someone who has made that idiotic claim.

The formal Witness Statements and one's own personal witness are quite subjective, and so only hold water as personal testimonies.  Most people just don't understand that a personal testimony is non-transferrable, that it is only applicable to that person alone.  If one does not have a personal testimony from the Holy Spirit, then all the testimonies of others combined carry little weight.  That is what is called faith.  That is not the same as reason.

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3 hours ago, snowflake said:

If you want a much more impressive book...... historically accurate, lacking anachronisms, mountains of hard archaeological proof, thousands of pieces  of textual support in many differing languages....billions of believers.......you should stick with the far superior... Bible. 

I like that one too.  In fact we are studying the second half as a church right now.

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3 hours ago, JAHS said:

If it's not historical, then all those other things don't matter. One has to accept the whole package or none of it. 

I never said I don’t believe it’s historicity.  But it takes more of a leap of faith for me.  

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15 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

There is nothing at all wrong with reason and logic.  What you may not realize is that Mormonism is an entirely naturalistic religion, seeing no contradiction between faith and reason.  It posits an entirely natural God(s) in a natural universe.  Even spirit is merely a finer form of matter, and God himself was once a man.  This is a frank denial of Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition.

Yes, I understand there are strains within Mormonism that appeal to God working within natural means, however I don't think your average Mormon believing that God uses natural means to accomplish his work, would describe other traditional Mormon narratives as fitting this definition.  Naturalism is typically used and understood as excluding supernatural and spiritual explanations of phenomena.  Would the narrative of the resurrected human visitation of Moroni better fit the common definition of a natural or supernatural event?  

25 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Since we  know that the Book of Mormon text was received in Early Modern English, it cannot have been composed by anyone in the 19th century.  Why?  Because EModE was already extinct at that time.   BMC, “Does the Book of Mormon Really Have ‘Bad’ Grammar? (Ether 12:25),” KnoWhy #490, Dec 4, 2018, online at https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/does-the-book-of-mormon-really-have-bad-grammar .

What about the  thousands of claimed anachronisms in the Bible and Book of Mormon?  Many of those are merely misunderstandings or mistranslations of the text.  Many exhibit our lack of knowledge about the ancient world.  Professional linguistics, archeology, and history have shown us, for example, that most of the alleged anachronisms were based on lack of hard data.

There are actually very few true anachronisms in the Bible or Book of Mormon.  What is remarkable are the many accurate statements in both books, which can now be verified scientifically.  That is via reason.  If either book is phony, that should not be possible.

I haven't encountered many people in Mormon circles that find the EmodE theory compelling.  I see it as a fringe theory at best.  

As for the Bible, of course it is riddled with anachronisms, and we should expect that with pseudepigraphical works that have been modified multiple times by different scribes over many generations.  Even if you believe the oral traditions were passed down with some degree of accuracy over centuries, any reasonable analysis would expect some changes to occur.  The more reasonable way of approaching these texts would be to ask questions about what context the authors are experiencing at the time the are composing the text.  This would include any edits and reconstructions later down the road every time a text is translated or revised.  

That the BoM which was dictated in the 19th century is directly addressing 19th century concerns should not be a surprise. 

35 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Correct.  However, I know of no one who is so foolish as to "automatically" place "subjective experience . . . into the category of scientific accuracy."  Perhaps you could cite someone who has made that idiotic claim.

The formal Witness Statements and one's own personal witness are quite subjective, and so only hold water as personal testimonies.  Most people just don't understand that a personal testimony is non-transferrable, that it is only applicable to that person alone.  If one does not have a personal testimony from the Holy Spirit, then all the testimonies of others combined carry little weight.  That is what is called faith.  That is not the same as reason.

I don't know of very many people who are able to escape their own preconceived biases, in spite of all our education and awareness of these biases.  human nature wins out more often than not and trying to become more aware of how we are influenced by our human nature is the best I any of us can be expected to do.  We fail more often than not even with additional awareness.  People make these mistakes (myself included of course) of confusing our personal subjective experiences as factual evidence, literally every day. 

Daniel Kahneman has done a nice job of trying to improve our awareness of our own limitations with memory and bias in recent years.

https://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_kahneman_the_riddle_of_experience_vs_memory?language=en

I agree with your points on witness statements completely and their subjectivity being relative to each individual.  However the traditional Mormon narrative does not view these witness statements as limited in the way you seem to.  This Mormon narrative likes to use these witness statements as concrete evidence that the plates existed as a tangible ancient artifact, and a high degrees of confidence is places in the veracity of these subjective witness statements.  This confidence is then marshaled in the context of arguments for historicity in the context of individuals discussing archaeology or linguistics or critical textual studies.  

I also completely agree with your personal testimony point.  I would only add that a personal testimony is limited in the nature of what it can tell someone.  It can tell someone how they feel about something, the relationship they have to the church or to another person.  It cannot and there has been no compelling evidence that I've ever seen, that any personal testimony experience can reveal facts about the universe that are otherwise unavailable to that person.  I'm talking about things like remote viewing, or an accurate prediction of the future or the past.  In other words, a personal subjective religious experience is powerful and compelling and individual, but it is not magic and it does not give someone a special power to do something supernatural (using the common definition of the term again.)  

 

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