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JarMan

Joseph Smith: The World's Greatest Guesser

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13 hours ago, Anakin7 said:

    Ah but Mohammed was as illiterate [if not more so] as Joseph Smith J.r and he produces the Koran....................

The earliest copies of the Qur'an are from long after the death of Muhammad.  And those early copies which we do have differ somewhat from the later standardized form.  He was a caravaneer for his wife's company, and spent a lot of time on the road.  It is believed by many that he heard many stories in evening campfires, and that found its way into the Qur'an, in addition to a lot of Judaism.

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7 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Should we expect to find place and tribal names that reflect that area (NY) and common words describing Native Americans in his story?

We can expect to find that the theory that the Native Americans came from the Middle East was a common belief during the early 1800s. The entire premise of the BOM is not an original idea at all. Oliver Cowdery’s own pastor even wrote a book about it before the BOM. 

That’s why I say it is possible Joseph gained his knowledge about this kind of stuff in NY. 

Edited by 10THAmendment

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1 hour ago, 10THAmendment said:

We can expect to find that the theory that the Native Americans came from the Middle East was a common belief during the early 1800s. The entire premise of the BOM is not an original idea at all. Oliver Cowdery’s own pastor even wrote a book about it before the BOM. 

That’s why I say it is possible Joseph gained his knowledge about this kind of stuff in NY. 

That’s fine, but it did not answer my questions.

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16 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

The Oberlin Manuscript was about Romans in America.
Manuscript Found was said to be a story about Israelites who migrated to America.
We don't know what the relationship is between the Oberlin Manuscript and Manuscript Found.

Hasn’t the Two-Spalding-Books theory been discarded for lack of any solid evidence? I have studied the Oberlin manuscript itself in depth. It is clearly not a source for the Book of Mormon.

What evidence do you think indicates there was another Spalding book that was more like the Book of Mormon? (Other than later statements like , “It was purported that.....” or “So-and-so said he remembered.....” or “Spalding allegedly or reportedly.....). 

Some “witnesses” said they remembered passages and names in both the BoM and the phantom other book were exactly the same. If this were true, Spalding (an inexperienced and patently untalented writer) was surprisingly capable of writing in two starkly different styles. It is hard to imagine that he could so drastically change his style in order to to create another more “religious” book so similar to (or identical to) the writing in the BoM, while his first book had no such similarities at all.

For example, it is obvious that his description of the uncouth, barbaric Deliware’s (Lamanites)...
 

Quote

When the dogs were consumed & the fire nearly extinguished, the cerimonies of their sacred festival began — the white dogs which were very plump & fat, were knocked on the head & their throats cut. Their hair was then singed off, having first their entrails taken out — & being suspended by the nose before a hot fire they were soon roasted — thrown upon a long Table & desected into as many pieces as there were persons to swallow them. The company immediately formed a procession, one rank of men, the other of women — the men marching to the left & the women to the right of the Table each one took a piece & devoured it with as good a * * * * as if it had been the most delicious morsel. Having completed these sacred cerimonies with great solemnity — the whole company formed themselves into a compact circle round the stage — ten musitians immediately mounted & at once, the multitude on every side sang a song — The tune & the musical voices of the singers pleased the ear,  w hilst the immagination was delighted with the poetic inginuety of the composition — The multitude all joined in the chorus, with voices so loud & multifarious that the atmosphere quaked with terror — & the neighboring hills [sent back] by way of mockery — sent back the sound of their voices improved by tenfold confusions. Perhaps, reader, you have the curiosity to hear the song — I can give you only the last stanzy & the chorus.
For us the sun emits his rais
The moon shines forth for our delight The stars extol our heroes prais
And warriors flee before our fight.
Chorus
Delawan to chakee poloo Manegango farwah teloo Chanepauh, lawango chapah

http://www.bahaistudies.net/asma/manuscript_found.pdf

....could not have been written by the author of the Book of Mormon. The rest of the Manuscript Story is no better written than this nor any more similar to the style of writing in the BoM.

This statement, then, is speculative at best:

Quote

Not Joseph Smith Jr, but other figures in Mormon Studies took the lectures at Dartmouth: Ethan Smith, Solomon Spaulding and Hiram Smith. Two out of those thretook what they learned from lectures with John Smith and wrote books about Hebrews in America.

 

Edited by Bernard Gui

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9 hours ago, strappinglad said:

I suspect that the final numbers will always be stunningly small for the chance that JS wrote the book himself.

One might well suspect that, given how outrageously small a chance is obtained in this paper. But it really isn't so. That's just how dangerously fragile their methodology is, multiplying so many probabilities together. That manifold multiplication is how they get their impressively low probability as a final result, but it inherently means that their result is incredibly sensitive to errors that are also multiplied many times.

If ten of their discrepancies all get promoted from 50-fold effects to 50-million-fold effects, which could be perfectly reasonable, then that's a factor of 10^60 right there.

And if treating 100 individual features as independent random guesses gives odds like 10^-100, but the 100 features are really only 10 independent suites of tightly correlated choices, then the real odds to be inferred from these features are only around 10^-10. So redoing their calculation correctly could realistically change the result by a factor like 10^90 or even much more. Considering JarMan's point that most of the paper's "hit" features are common features of ancient societies that Joseph Smith likely knew (he at least knew the Biblical ones), it might be that all those hundred-plus features only have a single collective probability around 10%, instead of 10^-100. That whole gigantic odds calculation could be nothing but smoke.

Between the above two effects there is easily a factor of 10^150 up for grabs here. The final result is completely in doubt, because the same multiplication effect that gives them their stunningly small probabilities can come right back and bite them very hard. The carelessly applied Bayesian methodology that seems so amazingly powerful is in fact extremely fragile. Looking hard at the data can absolutely turn odds of 10^132 or whatever against into very high odds for the Book of Mormon not being authentic.

The real problem with this paper is the failure to understand that extreme fragility. It would be one thing to say, Hey, look at this: if we take a wildly optimistic and naive shot at estimating Bayesian odds against the Book of Mormon, we can make the odds come out this insanely low! It's okay to say that. What you have to say in the next breath, though, if you're going to be remotely responsible, is that if you take a less optimistic shot then the odds come out extremely differently. Instead these guys seriously present a wildly optimistic shot with a wildly unreliable methodology as if it were rigorous. This is crackpot territory.

It's really embarrassing for Interpreter. To put it in appropriately Bayesian terms: observing this single paper as a data point is enough to lower the odds that Interpreter is a legitimate academic journal by a large factor. A lot of careful hard work by other authors on other papers in Interpreter gets tarnished by association with this one piece of folly. "Oh, your paper is in Interpreter? The journal that published the 10^132 odds that the Book of Mormon is historical? Ha ha ha." Not what a serious Interpreter author wants to hear when they cite their publication—and not what Interpreter wants potential future authors to think, when they're deciding where to submit their next work. Whoever did peer review on this one really let the institution down.

Edited by Physics Guy
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8 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

The Oberlin Manuscript was about Romans in America.
Manuscript Found was said to be a story about Israelites who migrated to America.
We don't know what the relationship is between the Oberlin Manuscript and Manuscript Found.

The problem is that no "Manuscript Found" has ever been found and the probability of it ever existing is extremely low based upon the affidavits that Hurlbut obtained and the evidence in the Oberling manuscript itself.

Glenn

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15 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

At what age do you suggest he began writing his magnum opus? Where did he do it? No one who knew or worked with him ever made such a suggestion before, during, or after the book’s appearance. Those who knew him best said it was not possible for him to write a book. It would be difficult to hide such an endeavor while living in cramped family quarters, working on the family farm, doing the odd construction projects, and spending the nights and weekends looking for hidden treasures. 

I've already stated that I do not believe Joseph wrote the BofM.

But the not enough time to write it argument is a very weak one, IMO....that was the only point I was making.

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5 hours ago, ALarson said:

I've already stated that I do not believe Joseph wrote the BofM.

But the not enough time to write it argument is a very weak one, IMO....that was the only point I was making.

IME, having done some writing myself and observing my son who has aspired to be a published fantasy writer at ages similar to Joseph’s when he produced the BoM, I think the time argument is very strong.

Who is your candidate for the author?

Edited by Bernard Gui

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45 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

IME, having done some writing myself and observing my son who has aspired to be a published fantasy writer at ages similar to Joseph’s when he produced the BoM, I think the time argument is very strong.

Joseph would have had 7 or 8 years to write it....and I happen to believe he was close to being a genius (just my opinion....don't CFR me :) ).   I just personally believe that when someone uses that argument, it's a weak one (not enough time).   I also don't think you can compare how fast one person writes a book to how fast another person is able to compose and write.    

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10 minutes ago, ALarson said:

Joseph would have had 7 or 8 years to write it....and I happen to believe he was close to being a genius (just my opinion....don't CFR me :) ).   I just personally believe that when someone uses that argument, it's a weak one (not enough time).   I also don't think you can compare how fast one person writes a book to how fast another person is able to compose and write.    

If you are sticking to that theory, then my earlier questions are legitimate and merit answers. 

At what age do you suggest he began writing his magnum opus? Where did he do it? No one who knew or worked with him ever made such a suggestion before, during, or after the book’s appearance. Those who knew him best said it was not possible for him to write a book. It would be difficult to hide such an endeavor while living in cramped family quarters, working on the family farm, doing the odd construction projects, and spending the nights and weekends looking for hidden treasures. The amount of paper, pens, and ink he needed would be readily visible. How did he deceive them?

Edited by Bernard Gui

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21 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

If you are sticking to that theory, then my earlier questions are legitimate and merit answers. 

At what age do you suggest he began writing his magnum opus? Where did he do it? 

He was a story teller and entertained many with all his stories.  He had a great imagination and could have been a very proficient writer and author  He could have found ways to get alone to write over all those years. Lots of "coulds" (I admit)  :)  There's much we don't know about those years as well (regarding every single day...no way for us to know...he was  24 - 25 years old when it was finished).  If he'd wanted to write a book, I believe he was very able to do so.  I personally believe that Joseph Smith was brilliant and extremely intelligent.  

There are a great many different ways he could have found a way to write if he'd really wanted to write a book, IMO.

I personally do not believe he wrote the BofM.....we can continue going back and forth.  But, I strongly believe that the time argument is not a strong one.

Edited by ALarson
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I am in favor of View of the Hebrews over the Spaulding script(s).  

I don't think Joseph Smith is a good guesser or a prophet of God.  In fact, I would say that Joseph displayed little promise in predicting the course of existence.

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1 hour ago, ALarson said:

He was a story teller and entertained many with all his stories.  He had a great imagination and could have been a very proficient writer and author  He could have found ways to get alone to write over all those years. Lots of "coulds" (I admit)  :)  There's much we don't know about those years as well (regarding every single day...no way for us to know...he was  24 - 25 years old when it was finished).  If he'd wanted to write a book, I believe he was very able to do so.  I personally believe that Joseph Smith was brilliant and extremely intelligent.  

There are a great many different ways he could have found a way to write if he'd really wanted to write a book, IMO.

I personally do not believe he wrote the BofM.....we can continue going back and forth.  But, I strongly believe that the time argument is not a strong one.

I don't think the BoM is high art in any great literary sense.  I think Joseph was very creative with his abilities to take previous religious ideas and repurpose them.  I believe it was Terryl Givens in a conference at USU on BoM translation a couple years back who introduced me to this idea called bricolage.  This is essentially a construction of something from a diverse range of available things.  I think Joseph essentially did this, and put his own unique twist on it.  That he was able to garner a lot of followers, and that the BoM has continued to inspire religious people for many generations afterwards is quite the amazing legacy. 

But that doesn't make the BoM miraculous in terms of its literary contents or construction.  People who make comments about how the BoM inspired them and how it changed their lives, are not commenting on the literary depth and genius of the book.  They are speaking to their experience with the book, which is something different.  Its not something to be dismissed as insignificant either, as the the experience that so many people have reading something is an important thing to consider when looking at the value of the text to individuals.  I'm just saying that this subjective experience that some people have, does not tell us about literary genius.  Many people are inspired by a multitude of different things, try looking up motivational speeches on Youtube videos to see what millions of others are watching that they find inspirational.  These videos might be very meaningful and change the lives of people in various different ways, but they aren't necessarily great film making to experts in the film industry.  And the BoM isn't great literature to literary scholars either.  

 

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15 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

But that doesn't make the BoM miraculous in terms of its literary contents or construction.  ......................  And the BoM isn't great literature to literary scholars either.  

I believe that you are responding to an argument that no one is really making i.e. that the Book of Mormon is great literature or that it is of a miraculous construction. The ideas are about the complexity of the Book of Mormon, names, story lines, person shifts, the curious case of Early Modern English, chiasmus (some of which may be very good Hebrew literature), etc.

Glenn

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2 hours ago, ALarson said:

I personally do not believe he wrote the BofM.....we can continue going back and forth.  But, I strongly believe that the time argument is not a strong one.

Do you have a theory on how the Book of Mormon was produced, who actually wrote it, etc. that you would care to share with us?

Glenn

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5 minutes ago, Glenn101 said:

I believe that you are responding to an argument that no one is really making i.e. that the Book of Mormon is great literature or that it is of a miraculous construction. The ideas are about the complexity of the Book of Mormon, names, story lines, person shifts, the curious case of Early Modern English, chiasmus (some of which may be very good Hebrew literature), etc.

Glenn

I think the observations people are making about the complexity of the BoM, names, story lines, etc. that you mention when evaluated through a scholarly, non apologetic lens, aren't nearly as significant as apologists are attempting to make them.  Its a very insular group of people that find these observations about the BoM to be significant.  I can imagine other religious groups have similar exaggerated observations about the significance of their revered religious texts.  Outside observing scholars might rarely find the same points significant.  

This human phenomenon isn't unique to Mormonism, and I think can be explained as a feature of tribal meaning making.    

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3 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

I think the observations people are making about the complexity of the BoM, names, story lines, etc. that you mention when evaluated through a scholarly, non apologetic lens, aren't nearly as significant as apologists are attempting to make them. 

Do you know of a scholarly non apologetic study that accounts for that ensemble either individually or together? I've been hearing this repeated often enough but have yet to see the report(s) that knock the LDS apologetic research to its knees. The best that I have seen so far is people saying it ain't so but I don't have to prove anything, all I have to do is say it ain't so.

Glenn

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17 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

I don't think the BoM is high art in any great literary sense.  I think Joseph was very creative with his abilities to take previous religious ideas and repurpose them.  I believe it was Terryl Givens in a conference at USU on BoM translation a couple years back who introduced me to this idea called bricolage.  This is essentially a construction of something from a diverse range of available things.  I think Joseph essentially did this, and put his own unique twist on it.  That he was able to garner a lot of followers, and that the BoM has continued to inspire religious people for many generations afterwards is quite the amazing legacy. 

But that doesn't make the BoM miraculous in terms of its literary contents or construction.  People who make comments about how the BoM inspired them and how it changed their lives, are not commenting on the literary depth and genius of the book.  They are speaking to their experience with the book, which is something different.  Its not something to be dismissed as insignificant either, as the the experience that so many people have reading something is an important thing to consider when looking at the value of the text to individuals.  I'm just saying that this subjective experience that some people have, does not tell us about literary genius.  Many people are inspired by a multitude of different things, try looking up motivational speeches on Youtube videos to see what millions of others are watching that they find inspirational.  These videos might be very meaningful and change the lives of people in various different ways, but they aren't necessarily great film making to experts in the film industry.  And the BoM isn't great literature to literary scholars either.  

 

It was never intended to be nor promoted as “great literature.” Mormon made that clear in his preface. It’s purpose is to testify of Christ. It does that spectacularly.

Perhaps literary critics find it wanting. Nevertheless it has greatness throughout. I just finished studying Jacob’s sermon found in 2 Nephi 6-10. A masterful religious discourse! Even as literature, it approaches greatness. It is one of many great discourses in the book. IMO it would be miraculous if Joseph mustered all that on his first try from his own inexperienced imagination. 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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8 hours ago, Glenn101 said:

Do you know of a scholarly non apologetic study that accounts for [complexity of the BoM]? ... The best that I have seen so far is people saying it ain't so but I don't have to prove anything, all I have to do is say it ain't so.

So far all I've seen are Mormon apologists asserting that the Book of Mormon is too complex for Smith to have composed it, and all I can do is shrug, because I just don't have that impression at all, to the point where I really just have no idea where the apologists are getting this idea that their Book would have been so hard for Smith to write. The only complexity I can see in it is the kind of complexity that is quite easy to make up, because it comes from rambling away without a clear plan. That's just my own subjective impression, but until "complexity" gets pinned down in specific terms, competing subjective impressions is all that there is, here.

If someone were to be specific about exactly what objective features were supposed to have been hard for someone like Smith to have composed, then one could go and look at other texts by other writers and see how often those objective features have been achieved. One wouldn't even have to have the problem of comparing gifted/educated/professional writers with an unschooled farm hand, because these days there are web sites that get writing posted by all kinds of amateur authors. Amazon also lets people self-publish at $0.99 a book, so with a modest budget one could simply buy a large pool of finished unprofessional writing for comparison. It would be modern writing, but we're presumably not talking about comparisons of spelling and dialect. Crafting an intricate plot full of diverse characters should not come any more easily to the average person today than it did in the past.

It might not be so hard to find out exactly where the Book of Mormon would lie on the spectrum of amateur writing, if it were considered as an amateur work of fiction. If it were totally off the usual charts for numerous objective features, that might be a strong argument that Smith didn't just compose it himself. It would be important to formulate the objective features in a way that even non-Mormons found reasonable, however. If one ended up effectively defining "complex" to mean "exactly like the Book of Mormon" then of course no other works would be so "complex".

I have no interest whatever in undertaking this myself, but there seem to be quite a few Mormons working hard to convince non-Mormons about their faith. This might be a good project for some of them, because it would turn an old subjective argument into something more convincing—or, if the results turned out to be disappointing, they would at least let Mormon apologists know that they should drop an unconvincing argument and concentrate on better ones.

Edited by Physics Guy

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28 minutes ago, Physics Guy said:

Crafting an intricate plot full of diverse characters should not come any more easily to the average person today than it did in the past.

I disagree. There are many more examples of world building out there in a variety of contexts, especially historical contexts so people would be more likely to know what was needed and be able to start out with a clearer view of what was needed.   

You also have computers to search to help keeping consistency over large time spans. 

Then not having to worry about getting caught or wasting money on false starts considering paper and ink/pens were costly for that time period. 

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13 minutes ago, Physics Guy said:

So far all I've seen are Mormon apologists asserting that the Book of Mormon is too complex for Smith to have composed it, and all I can do is shrug, because I just don't have that impression at all, to the point where I really just have no idea where the apologists are getting this idea that their Book would have been so hard for Smith to write. The only complexity I can see in it is the kind of complexity that is quite easy to make up, because it comes from rambling away without a clear plan. That's just my own subjective impression, but until "complexity" gets pinned down in specific terms, competing subjective impressions is all that there is, here.

Many of your points have been covered by many different articles over many years, and still, this is what you have produced in answer, i.e. "all I can do is shrug."

16 minutes ago, Physics Guy said:

If someone were to be specific about exactly what objective features were supposed to have been hard for someone like Smith to have composed, then one could go and look at other texts by other writers and see how often those objective features have been achieved. One wouldn't even have to have the problem of comparing gifted/educated/professional writers with an unschooled farm hand, because these days there are web sites that get writing posted by all kinds of amateur authors. Amazon also lets people self-publish at $0.99 a book, so with a modest budget one could simply buy a large pool of finished unprofessional writing for comparison. It would be modern writing, but we're presumably not talking about comparisons of spelling and dialect. Crafting an intricate plot full of diverse characters should not come any more easily to the average person today than it did in the past.

Yes, it would be easy to compare the works of amateur authors that have posted on the internet with the Book of Mormon to see how they compare as to complexity, but it would be completely invalid just based upon the availability and accessibility of information today as opposed to the days of Joseph Smith. You need an apples to apples comparison, i.e. authors from Joseph's day with comparable education levels and access to information. So maybe we could compare the Book of Mormon and its complexity to another amateur author with a much greater educational level, Solomon Spaulding.

23 minutes ago, Physics Guy said:

It might not be so hard to find out exactly where the Book of Mormon would lie on the spectrum of amateur writing, if it were considered as an amateur work of fiction. If it were totally off the usual charts for numerous objective features, that might be a strong argument that Smith didn't just compose it himself. It would be important to formulate the objective features in a way that even non-Mormons found reasonable, however. If one ended up effectively defining "complex" to mean "exactly like the Book of Mormon" then of course no other works would be so "complex".

Again, there have been articles detailing objective features that do make a strong argument that Joseph did not compose the Book of Mormon himself. One such series of articles is by Stanford Carmack on the presence of Early Modern English in the Book of Mormon. But people just shrug their shoulders and say that Joseph was just imitating the language of the KJV and ignoring the actual data and research that refutes that argument.

40 minutes ago, Physics Guy said:

I have no interest whatever in undertaking this myself, but there seem to be quite a few Mormons working hard to convince non-Mormons about their faith.

And that is the usual bottom line. It ain't so but I don't have the facts and data to back up my assertion and am not interested in making my case.

Glenn

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Of course I'm not interesting in making my case. Why on Earth should I be? No-one is paying me to research Mormonism.

I'm a casual passer-by who saw something interesting in the Mormon shopwindow and ducked in to look closer. On closer looking I wasn't impressed. Sorry 'bout that, but it's true. Every few weeks I pass by again, and sometimes I look in again. I thought that's what you wanted: some interest. 

I'm the potential customer, not the merchant. You're blaming me, the customer, for not working harder to dig around in the back room of your shop in order to find the good stuff. What the heck kind of attitude is that? If you have better products back there, why not put them in the window?

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Posted (edited)

I'm both an Excel/stats geek and a BOM apologetics geek. I had several people ask me my opinion on this piece. I wrote out a simple hypothetical story to illustrate my point that the probabilities assigned to different variables don't seem to make sense.

 

Sam, speaking through his interpreter[a], confronted the enemy king. “Surrender immediately.”

“No I will never surrender.” The king said. “This (very elaborate) throne(b) I sit on is the same of my father[c], and his father, and his father, Amos[d], the great king who settled this land, who died from a snake bite[e].”

Sam replies, “You live in a large city[f], and some are rich but some are very poor[g]. In your marketplaces[h], the poor can’t even afford to buy enough corn(i), wheat[j], or barley[k] to survive. Your army is not well equipped. You fight with primitive technology like flinging stones[l]. We have steel[m] swords and a cavalry of hundreds of soldiers on horseback[n]. We will never forgive you for the way you tortured the captives[o] you took from the last battle and how you ransacked our city of Bountiful, destroying all the important monuments.[p]”

King, “hah, I just got word, half your army got lost on the road[q] from your land to our land in that one thickly forested area[r].”

Sam, “We are followers of Jesus Christ (s). Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Our Lord will save us.”
THE END
Finally, this short story was said to be found written in Reformed Egyptian[t] and translated into English. 

 

I believe if I did my math right, the authors would say there’s less than 150 trillion to one chance the author could have so correctly identified an ancient Mesoamerican setting without it actually being a real, historical record.

a people spoke different languages: 1/10
b king sat on elaborate throne: 1/10
c political power ran in family dynasties: 1/10
d it was important to trace one’s genealogy to prominent ancestors: 1/50
e poisonous snakes existed: 1/50
f parts of land were densely populated: 1/10
g there were strong class distinctions: 1/10
h marketplaces existed: 1/10
i corn listed as primary grain 1/10
j wheat didn’t exist 2 (negative correspondence)
k barley didn’t exist 2 (negative)
l stones used as weapons: 1/50
m steel didn’t exist 50 (negative)
n horses didn’t exist 50 (negative)
o soldiers were cruel to enemy captives: 1/10
p there were deliberate destruction of records or important monuments: 1/10
q roads existed 1/10
r easy to get lost in the terrain/wilderness: 1/50
s strong Christian elements in Maya religion: 1/50 (positive) 
t written in Reformed Egyptian: 2 (negative)

positive correlations:
10*10*10*10*50*50*10*10*10*50*10*10*10*50*50 = 3.1E18

Negative correlations:
2*2*50*50*2 = 20,000

20,000/3.1E18 = 1/1.5E13 or 150 trillion

Edited by churchistrue
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4 hours ago, Physics Guy said:

So far all I've seen are Mormon apologists asserting that the Book of Mormon is too complex for Smith to have composed it, and all I can do is shrug, because I just don't have that impression at all, to the point where I really just have no idea where the apologists are getting this idea that their Book would have been so hard for Smith to write. The only complexity I can see in it is the kind of complexity that is quite easy to make up, because it comes from rambling away without a clear plan. That's just my own subjective impression, but until "complexity" gets pinned down in specific terms, competing subjective impressions is all that there is, here.

I think this is right that most of these things aren't quantified enough. Further too many apologists play up Joseph being completely ignorant based upon the latter Emma Smith recollections.  By the same measure I think many critics play us Joseph being too intelligent and having access to all these obscure sources in order to explain elements objectively in the text. But for apologists to make a better case I think they need to make these arguments more objective whereas right now far too many are just subjective often emotional conclusions.

Although to be fair in many ways both sides are making a burden of proof argument which explains the form the arguments take. Apologists are typically arguing to people already with commitments to Joseph Smith on an emotional level so that subjective judgment makes sense. Critics are typically arguing to people who buy into methodological naturalism that inherently sees a huge burden of proof that needs met to believe in angels delivering gold plates. Even if some elements of the text are odd, attributing it to Joseph's cleverness is far more probable to them than angels and lost unknown civilizations.

That's important since ultimately apologists aren't arguing to those critics since there's no way they can ever meet the burden of proof critics demand.

 

 

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13 hours ago, Glenn101 said:

Do you know of a scholarly non apologetic study that accounts for that ensemble either individually or together? I've been hearing this repeated often enough but have yet to see the report(s) that knock the LDS apologetic research to its knees. The best that I have seen so far is people saying it ain't so but I don't have to prove anything, all I have to do is say it ain't so.

Glenn

I don't know of any studies like that.  I also don't know of any scholarly studies that dig deeply into the apologetic arguments of other religious groups and their sacred texts.  There is a reason for this, and the reason is not because the apologetic arguments are substantive.  I'll let you try to figure out the reason.  Oh, its also not because of Satan.  

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