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JarMan

Joseph Smith: The World's Greatest Guesser

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On 5/12/2019 at 5:18 PM, Rajah Manchou said:

Volcanic eruptions are assumed because (1) exceedingly sharp lightnings, (2) fires, (3) thick darkness. Mesoamerica modelers also prefer reading volcanoes in 3 Nephi 8 because Mexico had active volcanoes at the time while the Heartland did not.

However,  ice core samples show no major global eruptions within 50-70 years of 34 AD. (source)

EFvk7yxAvL-3000x3000.pngThere were no major volcanic eruptions anywhere in the world when Christ died. The span between 43 BC and 95 AD even seems to be one of the quietest on record.

If i am reading that correctly, the two nearest 30 AD are also in the southern hemisphere, and are among the smallest - sometimes bad ideas die hard. Of course there are a few proponents of a S. America setting for the BoM. I feel the events of 3 Nephi are best explained by an earthquake and a storm.

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13 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

 A more localized eruption could be possible but the three days of darkness that followed could not have been volcanic ash plumes as Grover suggests. Three days of darkness was experienced across the isles of the sea, not just America. If it was caused by volcanic eruptions severe enough to throw that much ash into the atmosphere we would see it in the ice core samples. 

3 Nephi 8-9 in describing the destruction do not use the phrase  "isles of the sea".  1 Nephi 19:10 has a paraphrase by Nephi that has it, but remember that Nephi got to where he was writing by means of first a sea voyage, and then a journey inland).  It matters that the Hebrews thought of any place that you traveled to by seas as an "isle of the sea."  Nephi's paraphrase is followed by a quote from Zenos saying that some because of righteousness will hear God's voice, and others various destructive displays.   Zeno specifically refers to Kings on the isles of the sea responding to "groanings of the earth" in 1 Nephi 19:12, though darkness is not explicitly specified.  In Helaman 14, Samuel refers to a sign of darkness for the birth, and then all sorts of severe signs for the death on "the face of this land" which is equivalent to the later phrase "face of the whole earth" in verse 27.  That phrase need not be global because "earth" and "land" are the same word in Hebrew, and Exodus speaks of locusts in Egypt covering the "face of the whole earth," making it clear that it is a relative, rather than omniscient, observation.  That is, don't confuse relative statements for absolutes.

The issue as I see it is that the overall details that Grover looks at (as a professional geologist who shows me his work, and does not make unsupported assertions or over-generalizations), fit nicely with 3 Nephi.  And he provides local evidence from the right time and place to be considered that does not, in my view, get canceled out by distant ice cores.  Rather, it raises issues that cannot be resolved by current ice core evidence.

And over my life time of exploring these issues, I have noticed that the trend is for puzzles to get resolved, and the overall case for the Book of Mormon gets better and more impressive with time and inquiry.   So I am willing to give things time, keep my eyes open, and re-examine my assumptions now and then.

And Cliodude, I am not a newbie at this stuff.

https://publications.mi.byu.edu/people/kevin-christensen/

https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/author/kevinc/

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

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On 5/22/2019 at 8:17 AM, Kevin Christensen said:

3 Nephi 8-9 in describing the destruction do not use the phrase  "isles of the sea".  1 Nephi 19:10 has a paraphrase by Nephi that has it, but remember that Nephi got to where he was writing by means of first a sea voyage, and then a journey inland).  It matters that the Hebrews thought of any place that you traveled to by seas as an "isle of the sea."  Nephi's paraphrase is followed by a quote from Zenos saying that some because of righteousness will hear God's voice, and others various destructive displays.   Zeno specifically refers to Kings on the isles of the sea responding to "groanings of the earth" in 1 Nephi 19:12, though darkness is not explicitly specified.  In Helaman 14, Samuel refers to a sign of darkness for the birth, and then all sorts of severe signs for the death on "the face of this land" which is equivalent to the later phrase "face of the whole earth" in verse 27.  That phrase need not be global because "earth" and "land" are the same word in Hebrew, and Exodus speaks of locusts in Egypt covering the "face of the whole earth," making it clear that it is a relative, rather than omniscient, observation.  That is, don't confuse relative statements for absolutes.

The issue as I see it is that the overall details that Grover looks at (as a professional geologist who shows me his work, and does not make unsupported assertions or over-generalizations), fit nicely with 3 Nephi.  And he provides local evidence from the right time and place to be considered that does not, in my view, get canceled out by distant ice cores.  Rather, it raises issues that cannot be resolved by current ice core evidence.

And over my life time of exploring these issues, I have noticed that the trend is for puzzles to get resolved, and the overall case for the Book of Mormon gets better and more impressive with time and inquiry.   So I am willing to give things time, keep my eyes open, and re-examine my assumptions now and then.

And Cliodude, I am not a newbie at this stuff.

https://publications.mi.byu.edu/people/kevin-christensen/

https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/author/kevinc/

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Volcanoes are not consistent with the text of the Book of Mormon:

3 Nephi 10:9 And it came to pass that thus did the three days pass away. And it was in the morning, and the adarkness dispersed from off the face of the land, and the earth did cease to tremble, and the brocks did cease to rend, and the dreadful groanings did cease, and all the tumultuous noises did pass away.

This indicates the darkness dispersed at the same time as the earth ceased to tremble. The trembling of the earth and the darkness were related to each other. (Volcanic ash would still be in the air after an eruption.)

This verse is consistent with what was reported during the New Madrid quake of 1811-1812: https://missourilife.com/new-madrid-earthquakes-1811-1812/

"As Pierce and his traveling companions watched, the earth opened up before them, sending “a volcanic discharge of combustible matter” skyward. “The earth, river, etc., torn with furious convulsions, opened in huge trenches. There through a thousand vents sulphurous streams gushed from its very bowels leaving vast and almost unfathomable caverns,” wrote Pierce."

" Everyone in the community rushed out into the winter night, to be met with the overpowering stench of sulfur. "

" In the bitter cold, the settlers remained outdoors throughout the night, as the temblors renewed every few minutes. The earth’s emanations of smoke, water, dirt, and steam, amid an overpowering sulfurous stench, blocked the view of the moon and stars as a cacophony of terrified animal sounds and the roar of the quake engulfed the stunned community standing in near-total darkness."

" Around 7 am December 16, another quake struck, every bit as powerful as the first. By this time, the air had filled with fog and the vapors spewed from within the earth. As the settlers watched, the ground bucked and rolled, opening fissures that spit rocks and sand high into the air. An inescapable vision of hell had descended upon New Madrid, and there was no place to hide. "

" Pervading everything was the sickening pall of sulfur."

 

Most of you have a Mesoamerica mindset, thus volcanoes - inconsistent logic - despite Oliver Cowdery stating in Letter VII that the Hill Cumorah where the final battles were, is in New York.

Also the Mesoamerica theory originated with the RLDS Church back when Joseph F. Smith and his First Cousin, Joseph Smith III, were simultaneously Presidents of the LDS and RLDS Churches, respectively.

The "Utah" Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was in the process of purchasing the Hill Cumorah and some surrounding lands, finalized after President Joseph F. Smith's death.

The RLDS Church couldn't afford to, so it downplayed the importance of the Hill Cumorah being in New York and instead came up with the idea of the Hill Cumorah being in Mesoamerica.

Joseph F. Smith's son, Joseph Fielding Smith spoke out again the Mesoamerica theory, when he was the Church Historian and Apostle.

But the RLDS Church's Mesoamerica Theory was spread into Utah when the RLDS Church sent  missionaries to Utah in the 1920s. Here's a list of CofC Congregations, some in Utah as you can see: https://www.cofchrist.org/find-a-congregation

And a list of Restoration Branches, which broke off of the CofC church in the 1980s: http://www.eldersconference.org/files/content/RESTORATION%20BRANCHES%20%20DIRECTORY%20%20%20April%201%202017.pdf

This is the RLDS/CofC/Restoration Branches "Book of Mormon Foundation" where they send youth to Mesoamerica for Book of Mormon studies and promote the Maya as Book of Mormon characters: https://www.bomf.org/internship.html

This is the RLDS/CofC https://www.hillcumorahexpeditionteam.com/  Hill Cumorah Expedition Team. If you search the site, they claim they found the Hill Cumorah and its cave.

These RLDS/CofC/Restoration Branch members are Mormons. They believe in The Book of Mormon. You can read their many testimonies on these sites.

They just are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because they don't believe Brigham Young was Joseph Smith's successor, thus they don't have the priesthood and revelatory keys.

A good reason why Pres. Nelson has asked us to use the full name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

http://www.centerplace.info/ This shows a list of Churches which broke off from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and some from the CofC church, calling themselves Restoration Branches. Again, they all believe in The Book of Mormon.

 

This is the autobiography of HA Stebbins. http://www.latterdaytruth.org/pdf/100746.pdf

He mentions in the page number 194: " I sat down and began to go over the antiquarian writings of John L. Stephens, Josiah Priest, J.D. Baldwin, C. G. Foster, H. H. Bancro:fit, Desire Charney, W. H. Prescott, and other historians. The first distinct instruction given me was, "Take the Jaredites first, as the first people who came." The next was to take up the narrative and follow it in its order clear through. In the first I was astonished at the clear proofs brought to my attention, those I had never heard any of our ministers use nor seen in any writings. As I continued the Holy Spirit bore witness ,to me in such power and gave me light I had never had before. All fear and dread left me and I made page after page of references and quotations to use in the sermons."

I emphasized the above in bold underline, because he ignored his leaders. He ignored Oliver Cowdery in Letter VII, which should have been well known, since HA Stebbins was born in 1844.

This is HA Stebbins published Book of Mormon lectures where he ignores North America as a Book of Mormon setting: http://www.latterdaytruth.org/pdf/101148.pdf

HA Stebbins is mentioned by RLDS Scholar Louise E Hills in his 1924 book: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt/search?q1=Stebbins;id=wu.89058377359;view=1up;seq=115;start=1;sz=10;page=search;orient=0

LE Hills was the first Book of Mormon Scholar to confine the Book of Mormon geography and the "original" Hill Cumorah in Central America. These are references to the work Cumorah in his same 1924 book:

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt/search?q1=cumorah&id=wu.89058377359&view=1up&seq=115

As you can see, he questions the Hill Cumorah being in New York.

MY POINT BEING - the whole volcano issue is based on a false premise of the geography of The Book of Mormon being located in Mesoamerica, which idea originated with the RLDS Church which origins started by not following Brigham Young.

Here you can see HA Stebbins' name on a reproduced 1916 document which disclaims any association with Brigham Young. http://www.centerplace.org/library/Study/GCRall.htm

 

The admins around here don't like me, because I point all this stuff out. Thus they revoked my starting a new thread, or posting pictures.

But this is the truth: The Mesoamerica Geography Theory originated with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 

Knowing this, why do you promote this RLDS Mesoamerica Geography Theory?

A rhetorical question, because I know you would answer that you don't agree. Facts do not matter to some, apparently. A complicated scholarly approach is more important.

Kind regards,

Burnside

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

To follow up, the Admins don't even allow the URLs I pasted above to be "clickable."

This is how scared they are, or whoever is asking them to censor me - how scared they are that it should be made known that the Mesoamerica Geography Theory for the Book of Mormon originated with the RLDS Church as far back as the late 1800s and into the 1920s and is now being promoted by some LDS Members in UTAH.

Quite odd, since I've been a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all my life, served a two-year mission in Venezuela back in the day when North American missionaries were allowed in Venezuela, and recently finished a two-year commitment as a Temple Worker in the baptistry of the Gilbert Arizona Temple. I saw the change made by Pres. Monson allowing Priests to perform Temple Baptisms and be Witnesses, when before only endowed Melchizedek priesthood holders were allowed to baptize, and the more recent in January of this year of allowing of 11-year old deacons to participate as proxies.

But what do other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints care about the TRUTH, if it conflicts with their preconceived erroneous ideas about the Book of Mormon and its geography? Very little, apparently.

Makes me wonder who they follow, the Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or some confused LDS Scholars who promote a plagiarized Mesoamerica Book of Mormon geography theory from the confused RLDS Church which changed its name to Community of Christ, around 1986 and it's breakaway "Restoration Branches."

Edited by Burnside

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On 5/22/2019 at 10:17 PM, Kevin Christensen said:

3 Nephi 8-9 in describing the destruction do not use the phrase  "isles of the sea".  1 Nephi 19:10 has a paraphrase by Nephi that has it, but remember that Nephi got to where he was writing by means of first a sea voyage, and then a journey inland).  

How old would Jacob have been when Nephi described the three days of darkness as a sign given to the isles of the sea? Jacob describes the isles of the sea as numerous and inhabited. The two statements from Nephi and Jacob come close enough in the text that it'd seem the phrase "isles of the sea" is referring to the islands they passed through. Jacob says these isles of the sea were inhabited by their brothers, I assume from the Tribe of Israel. 

The three days of darkness was a sign to all in the isles of the sea, not just America. Since there is no trace of a volcanic eruption large enough to cause three days of darkness in the isles of the sea, the cause of the darkness must have had some other source.

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14 hours ago, Burnside said:

To follow up, the Admins don't even allow the URLs I pasted above to be "clickable."

This is how scared they are, or whoever is asking them to censor me - how scared they are that it should be made known that the Mesoamerica Geography Theory for the Book of Mormon originated with the RLDS Church as far back as the late 1800s and into the 1920s and is now being promoted by some LDS Members in UTAH.

Quite odd, since I've been a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all my life, served a two-year mission in Venezuela back in the day when North American missionaries were allowed in Venezuela, and recently finished a two-year commitment as a Temple Worker in the baptistry of the Gilbert Arizona Temple. I saw the change made by Pres. Monson allowing Priests to perform Temple Baptisms and be Witnesses, when before only endowed Melchizedek priesthood holders were allowed to baptize, and the more recent in January of this year of allowing of 11-year old deacons to participate as proxies.

But what do other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints care about the TRUTH, if it conflicts with their preconceived erroneous ideas about the Book of Mormon and its geography? Very little, apparently.

Makes me wonder who they follow, the Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or some confused LDS Scholars who promote a plagiarized Mesoamerica Book of Mormon geography theory from the confused RLDS Church which changed its name to Community of Christ, around 1986 and it's breakaway "Restoration Branches."

You remind me of our ward gospel hobbyist when I was growing up. No matter what was being discussed in priesthood mtg or gospel doctrine, this old High Priest would always find a way to steer things to a discussion of the communist threat, Ezra Taft Benson’s writings, etc. And every F & T mtg., there he was, front and center, harping on the same thing.

“Is there any other tune you can whistle?” my dad asked him one Sunday after meetings, only half in jest.

Who cares where the Mesoamerica limited geography theory came from? I don’t. What we do——or what we should do——is follow the evidence. And right now this evidence seems to point to a Mesoamerica limited geography.

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Posted (edited)

Addressing criticisms of the article, the point is not that readers are expected to agree with the assigned weighted probabilities. Rather, the value is that the methodology and analysis is laid bare. If someone disagrees with the assignment of probabilities, they can assign their own. But it doesn’t matter. Remember, the starting assumption weighed heavily against the truthfulness of the BoM. Even readjusting the probabilities, the difference would be nominal. The Bayesian analysis is so heavily in favor of the BoM that the critical responses in this thread are truly straining at gnats. 

I also note that the article only treats items in Coes book, and assumes the truthfulness of what Coe believes. I believe he’s dead wrong, for example, on horses, etc.  The curly horse remains a mystery and should score a hit rather than a miss. In any event, he doesn’t touch on the name of Mulek and other very solid evidences. 

Edited by PacMan
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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, PacMan said:

Addressing criticisms of the article, the point is not that readers are expected to agree with the assigned weighted probabilities. Rather, the value is that the methodology and analysis is laid bare. If someone disagrees with the assignment of probabilities, they can assign their own. But it doesn’t matter. Remember, the starting assumption weighed heavily against the truthfulness of the BoM. Even readjusting the probabilities, the difference would be nominal. The Bayesian analysis is so heavily in favor of the BoM that the critical responses in this thread are truly straining at gnats. 

I also note that the article only treats items in Coes book, and assumes the truthfulness of what Coe believes. I believe he’s dead wrong, for example, on horses, etc.  The curly horse remains a mystery and should score a hit rather than a miss. In any event, he doesn’t touch on the name of Mulek and other very solid evidences. 

Billy Shears has thoroughly discredited the Dales' paper. They should take it down and rework it.

Edited by Exiled

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On 5/22/2019 at 8:34 AM, Rajah Manchou said:

 A more localized eruption could be possible but the three days of darkness that followed could not have been volcanic ash plumes as Grover suggests. Three days of darkness was experienced across the isles of the sea, not just America. If it was caused by volcanic eruptions severe enough to throw that much ash into the atmosphere we would see it in the ice core samples. 

Xitle which blew up around the same time as the ones Kevin mentioned had "eruptive columns perhaps no more than 8,000 m high." The age was around 2000 years ago (2003 +/- 62 yr). So I'm not sure your assumption holds. 

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2 hours ago, Exiled said:

Billy Shears has thoroughly discredited the Dales' paper. They should take it down and rework it.

I don’t think any amount of reworking can salvage the paper. The Dales ought to just withdraw it and concede it’s hopelessly flawed. Interpreter would be wise to lead them in that direction since it’s a black mark on what is otherwise a very good publication. 

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

Xitle which blew up around the same time as the ones Kevin mentioned had "eruptive columns perhaps no more than 8,000 m high." The age was around 2000 years ago (2003 +/- 62 yr). So I'm not sure your assumption holds. 

I'm not questioning a local eruption in Mexico or anywhere else in the world in 34 AD. I'm asking, how could a local eruption be the cause of the destruction described in 3 Nephi? The 3 days of darkness was a sign given to all the House of Israel in the isles of the sea, not just America.

An eruption like El Chichon (Mexico, 1982) is visible in ice core samples, but it did not cause 3 days of darkness in the isles of the sea. How could a local eruption like Xitle in 34 AD cause 3 days of darkness in the isles of the sea but not turn up in the ice cores?

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9 hours ago, Exiled said:

Billy Shears has thoroughly discredited the Dales' paper. They should take it down and rework it.

Who? I’ve never heard of him. And I can’t find anything on him.

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7 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

I'm not questioning a local eruption in Mexico or anywhere else in the world in 34 AD. I'm asking, how could a local eruption be the cause of the destruction described in 3 Nephi? The 3 days of darkness was a sign given to all the House of Israel in the isles of the sea, not just America.

An eruption like El Chichon (Mexico, 1982) is visible in ice core samples, but it did not cause 3 days of darkness in the isles of the sea. How could a local eruption like Xitle in 34 AD cause 3 days of darkness in the isles of the sea but not turn up in the ice cores?

Wouldn't a local 3 days of darkness be a sign to all those who heard of it?

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1 hour ago, PacMan said:

Who? I’ve never heard of him. And I can’t find anything on him.

https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/joseph-smith-the-worlds-greatest-guesser-a-bayesian-statistical-analysis-of-positive-and-negative-correspondences-between-the-book-of-mormon-and-the-maya/

Take a look at the comments section. You will find his responses to the Dales' paper there.

He also comments a lot on Dr. Person's blog Sic et Non.  

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/

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1 hour ago, PacMan said:

Who? I’ve never heard of him. And I can’t find anything on him.

Isn't Billy Shears the drummer in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band?

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8 hours ago, JarMan said:

I don’t think any amount of reworking can salvage the paper. The Dales ought to just withdraw it and concede it’s hopelessly flawed. Interpreter would be wise to lead them in that direction since it’s a black mark on what is otherwise a very good publication. 

Perhaps that would be the best. I don't think bayes is a good tool for historical issues.  There seems to be too much randomness in the assignment of probabilities and how can one be that sure of the probabilities when dealing with history to begin with?

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3 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Isn't Billy Shears the drummer in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band?

Yes and I instantly think of the opening song to that album whenever I see his comments .... "so may I introduce to you the one and only Billy Shears ....."

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Just now, Exiled said:

Perhaps that would be the best. I don't think bayes is a good tool for historical issues.  There seems to be too much randomness in the assignment of probabilities and how can one be that sure of the probabilities when dealing with history to begin with?

I think it could be salvaged. I would suggest:

1- Include all of the evidence--not just things that are explicitly mentioned in both the Book of Mormon and in the Maya.

2- Rather than scoring the 131 (or whatever) pieces of evidence independently, group them into 10 or 20 categories that are closer to being truly statistically independent, and then score the groups.

3- Be more conscientious in the scoring--rather than asking whether a detail is specific and unique (or whatever they are doing) and asking "what are the chances Joseph guessed that right about the Maya?" ask, "how plausible is it that somebody writing 19th Century speculative fiction about mound builders based on the premise that they are of Israel origin would include the details in this group?" and compare that to "how plausible is it an authentic Mesoamerican document would contain the details in this group?"

4- Caveat the heck out of it--the probability of historicity that comes out the end isn't a real probability in any objective sense--it is merely a score that compiles the subjective judgments that were made in steps 2 and 3.

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9 minutes ago, Analytics said:

I think it could be salvaged. I would suggest:

1- Include all of the evidence--not just things that are explicitly mentioned in both the Book of Mormon and in the Maya.

2- Rather than scoring the 131 (or whatever) pieces of evidence independently, group them into 10 or 20 categories that are closer to being truly statistically independent, and then score the groups.

3- Be more conscientious in the scoring--rather than asking whether a detail is specific and unique (or whatever they are doing) and asking "what are the chances Joseph guessed that right about the Maya?" ask, "how plausible is it that somebody writing 19th Century speculative fiction about mound builders based on the premise that they are of Israel origin would include the details in this group?" and compare that to "how plausible is it an authentic Mesoamerican document would contain the details in this group?"

4- Caveat the heck out of it--the probability of historicity that comes out the end isn't a real probability in any objective sense--it is merely a score that compiles the subjective judgments that were made in steps 2 and 3.

That would be quite an undertaking but an interesting read for sure.

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I didn't read the article, but do the authors ever acknowledge that irrespective of Joseph Smith, someone in the world has to be "The World's Greatest Guesser"?  If it isn't Joseph Smith, who do they suggest it is?  Do they discuss the field of amazing guessers that would be included in the discussion?

That being the case, we should probably develop a defense of Joseph Smith that goes beyond arguing that he wasn't just really good at guessing, since I'm not sure that's the foundation you want to build a religious belief on.

And if that's the best defense you can come up with for someone who claimed to be a Prophet, it's honestly just a little sad. :mellow:

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2 minutes ago, cinepro said:

I didn't read the article, but do the authors ever acknowledge that irrespective of Joseph Smith, someone in the world has to be "The World's Greatest Guesser"?  If it isn't Joseph Smith, who do they suggest it is?  Do they discuss the field of amazing guessers that would be included in the discussion?

🤣

 

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

Wouldn't a local 3 days of darkness be a sign to all those who heard of it?

I suppose it could, but how would the House of Israel in the isles of the sea have heard about the 3 days of darkness in the Americas in 34 AD? I've mentioned this before, there are accounts of tribes in Asia experiencing an extended period of darkness called Thimzing between A.D. 25-40:

"As it was pitch dark, neither animals nor men could see at all, and tigers went about biting wildly at trees, stones, and people. A general transformation took place.." (source)

"A Chin legend says that a long ago, the world became very dark. The darkness was called Thimzing. At this time, many awful things happened. Everything, even dry wood and stones, came to life, so people had nothing to make fires with." (source)
 
The timing is exact (25-40 AD), the descriptions of events is similar to accounts of a great transformation in 3rd Nephi even down to specifics such as dry wood and not being able to make fires during the period of darkness. These accounts match the Book of Mormon and date to the right period in a limited geography that in the 4th century AD shared toponyms (Komorriyya and Rahma) with the Book of Mormon lands of Cumorah and Ramah.
 
But these transformative events in complete darkness could not have been caused by an eruption of a volcano in Mexico.
 
The correspondences between the Book of Mormon and Southeast Asia are far more specific and precise, even down to a founding by a warrior chief named Maroni. I've shared these correspondences here for nearly two years and the most common response seems to be that they are nothing more than a curious coincidence. If so, then how can we say that similar correspondences in Mesoamerica are something more than coincidence?
Edited by Rajah Manchou

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18 hours ago, Analytics said:

I think it could be salvaged. I would suggest:

1- Include all of the evidence--not just things that are explicitly mentioned in both the Book of Mormon and in the Maya.

2- Rather than scoring the 131 (or whatever) pieces of evidence independently, group them into 10 or 20 categories that are closer to being truly statistically independent, and then score the groups.

3- Be more conscientious in the scoring--rather than asking whether a detail is specific and unique (or whatever they are doing) and asking "what are the chances Joseph guessed that right about the Maya?" ask, "how plausible is it that somebody writing 19th Century speculative fiction about mound builders based on the premise that they are of Israel origin would include the details in this group?" and compare that to "how plausible is it an authentic Mesoamerican document would contain the details in this group?"

4- Caveat the heck out of it--the probability of historicity that comes out the end isn't a real probability in any objective sense--it is merely a score that compiles the subjective judgments that were made in steps 2 and 3.

Here's why I think it cannot be salvaged. In order to use a Bayes analysis the two things being compared must be exhaustive, meaning that one or the other is certain to be true. If one of the propositions being analyzed is that the Book of Mormon represents a real history of Mesoamerican events, then the other proposition (in the simplest scenario) is that it is fictional. If it is fictional, every person who ever lived before the Book of Mormon has to be considered as a possible author. Otherwise it is not an exhaustive comparison. The Dales infer the only possibility (for the fictional proposition) is that Joseph made it up. In other words, they've set up a false dichotomy. This is a fatal flaw in the paper.

For example, they need to consider an author who is well-read in the Bible and in Roman history. This hypothetical author could have written the Book of Mormon, attempting to sound ancient based on his knowledge of ancient history. For demonstration purposes I'll run through the 33 political correspondences presented in the paper with my hypothetical person in mind.

1) Fundamental level of political organization is the independent city-state

Correspondence: Ancient Rome, particularly under the kings and in the early republic

2) “Capital” or leading city-state dominates a cluster of other communities

Correspondence: Ancient Rome, particularly under the kings and in the early republic

3) Some subordinate city-states shift their allegiance to a different “capital” city

Correspondence: Italian Peninsula particularly under the early Roman Republic

4) Complex state institutions

Correspondence: Ancient Rome particularly under the late republic and empire

5) Many cities exist

Correspondence: Many cities in the ancient Mediterranean

6) City of Laman (Lamanai) “occcupied from earliest times”

No correspondence that I know of

7) Parts of the land were very densely settled

Correspondence: Rome, Carthage, Alexandria

8 ) Large-scale public works

Correspondence: Ancient Rome - aqueducts, Colosseum, for example

9) Some rulers live in luxury

Correspondence: The emperors of the Roman Empire

10) Elaborate thrones

Correspondence: 1 Kings 10:18-20

11) Royalty exists, with attendant palaces, courts and nobles

Correspondence: The Roman Emperors

12) Royal or elite marriages for political purposes

Correspondence: This was the norm in ancient Rome

13) Feasting for political purposes

Correspondence: Roman public banquets like Saturnalia

14) Gifts to the king for political advantage

Their is no correspondence here between the Maya and the Book of Mormon. The Maya shows that rulers put on feasts and gave gifts to their underlings. These are not "gifts to the king" as advertised in the sub-heading. The cited verse in the Book of Mormon simply says that King Benjamin did not seek riches from his people, which I read to mean unfair taxes. There were leaders of ancient Rome, like Cicero, who had a reputation for not taxing the people unfairly.

15) Political factions organize around a member of the elite

Correspondence: Julius Caesar, Pompey

16) Foreigners move in and take over government, often as family dynasties

Correspondence: Roman dynasties constantly conquered new lands and took over the government

17) City administrative area with bureaucrats and aristocrats

Correspondence: Roman Forum

18) Records kept specifically of the reigns of the kings

Correspondence: Ancient Rome - Tacitus, for example

19) Native leaders incorporated in power structure after subjugation

Correspondence: Many Roman provinces - Judea after being conquered by Rome in 63 BC, for example

20) Tribute required of subjects

Correspondence: The many people conquered by the ancient Romans - Egypt, for example

21) Limited number of important patrilineages

Correspondence: Ancient Roman senators

22) King and “king elect”

Correspondence: Roman Emperor Valerian and his son Gallienus

23) There are captains serving kings

Correspondence: Many Romany generals - Agricola, for example

24) Political power is exercised by family dynasties

Correspondence: Many in the Roman Empire - Julio-Claudian dynasty, for example

25) Kings rule over subordinate provincial or territorial rulers, some of noble blood (subkings)

Correspondence: Ptolemy of Mauretania, Herod of Judea under the Romans

26) “Seating” means accession to political power

Correspondence: This is a common meaning of the word, see OED 1(d)

27) Separation of civil and religious authority

The Book of Mormon doesn't truly have separation of church and state. At least not in the modern sense. The kings or judges appoint the leaders of the church (Mosiah 6:3, for example). And the church leaders exercise some amount of civil authority (see Alma 30). In the NT the Jewish priests held the religious power and the Romans the ultimate civil power. But the Sanhedrin also likely exercised civil power. The real correspondence is that there is overlap-not separation-when it came to matters of church and state.

28) Those of noble birth aspire to power

Correspondence: countless figures in Roman history - Catiline and Julius Caesar, for example

29) Royal courts imitate their enemies

Correspondence: The Romans imitated the Greeks in many aspects of their lives

30) Royal courts function as “great households”

The use of the word "house" instead of "palace" in the Book of Mormon is not significant. See, for example, Genesis 43 where Joseph's brothers are brought into his "house" for official state business.

31) Candidates for high office had to possess hidden knowledge

This sub-heading is misleading. What's being referred to in the Book of Mormon is princes who were taught the language of their fathers. Ancient Roman leaders were usually well-educated, particularly if they were an heir apparent. The family wealth often allowed them to learn from private tutors.

32) Abrupt breaks in dynasties

Correspondence: The Roman emperors had many dynasties, several of which ended by assassination, such as Severus Alexander

33) Subservient peoples are said to “possess” the land while ruled by a dominant power

This is not even a legitimate correspondence. In The Maya kings are said to "possess" subservient kings. In the Book of Mormon people are said to "possess" land while they are tributary to another king. This is one of many examples of silly straining.

In summary, the things identified in the Book of Mormon as being "hits" are simply general things that exist in other sources of ancient history. In addition, the Dales list 18 disagreements between Coe and the Book of Mormon namely horses, elephants, iron, steel, copper, refined gold and silver, brass, chariots, sheep, goats, swine, wheat, barley, cattle, silk, donkey, hybrid Egyptian/Hebrew, and lack of Near Eastern DNA. It's easy to see that all of these things existed in Roman history. The methodology of the paper is fatally flawed and, what was intended to be a rebuke to Coe, has ended up looking foolish instead.

Edited by JarMan

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JarMan, a lot of these just sound like what one expects to see in many relatively advanced human civilizations.

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I think that if the paper were to be reworked or if another paper were to use bayes theorem as a tool to claim historicity, the bible as a source for the book of mormon needs to be discussed and analyzed.  The literary dependence of the book of mormon on the bible seems too much to discount and if historicity is to survive, this fact needs to be dealt with. For example, the three days of darkness discussed hereinabove seems likely to have come from Exodus 10.  The speech by Mormon in Moroni 7 is based on 1 Corinthians 13.  Acts 16, where Paul and Silas are miraculously released from prison due to an earthquake is almost the same as Alma and Amulek being released from prison, after an earthquake as found in Alma 14, etc., etc.  Then, the deutero Isaiah problem complicates historicity further.

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