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Posts posted by OGHoosier

  1. On 8/30/2020 at 12:19 AM, Judd said:

    Anyway, we’re so used to viewing the worlds as so different that we often forget that Moroni was a contemporary of the early Catholic Church. Had his “wandering whithersoever I can” encompassed instead crossing the seas and delivering the plates to Ancient Rome, the Christian world would currently have a much different canon.  

    I've actually thought that Mormon and Moroni, through their close association with the Three Nephites, were exposed to some of the works of the first three Christian centuries. Jesus' original Twelve Apostles rank above the Nephite disciples, I believe, since they were given the sealing power and iirc the same is not recorded for the Nephite disciples, who are not named as apostles (though that could just be a translation thing.) Also, the Twelve Apostles are told that they will judge all the House of Israel, and the Nephite disciples are told they will be judged by the Twelve. Given the fact that Christ Himself gives the Nephites the prophecies of Malachi, it seems to me likely that He would provide for his Nephite disciples to have access to the words and teachings of Peter, Paul, and the great saints of the early Church. So, rather than the plates being delivered to Ancient Rome, ancient Rome was delivered to the plates. 

    • Like 1
  2. 13 minutes ago, Robert J Anderson said:

    Who said Dr. Gee and Dr. Muhlestein aren't real Egyptologists?  I don't think Dr. Ritner said so.  He was only objecting to their interpretations of the Book of Abraham.  Also, I sense that you are equating mere disagreement with bigotry.  I am sure you would agree that one can disagree with another and not be a bigot, right?

    Dr. Ritner did not say so, to his credit (though I confess that I expect such consideration as a standard). The actual scholars usually don't. However, I've noticed a trend among consumers of scholarship (particularly of the Reddit variety) to dismiss people like Gee and Muhlestein out of hand, or refuse to engage their work until it passes some metric of external approval. That, I think, is in practice bigoted. Sure, we can disagree with each other and not be bigots, but to deny someone a voice at the table simply because of who they are, their communities and opinions? I leave it to you to judge. You can want external examination of Gee and Muhlestein and be justified, but to refuse to even hear them before someone outside the community compels your validation? That crosses a line for me. 

    13 minutes ago, Robert J Anderson said:

    Anyway, my opinion is that perhaps leaving the battlefield of *** for tat apologetics might be a better course.  My brother took a deep dive into it and left the church over it because he lost his spiritual focus.  You probably don't have this problem, I am sure, but others might.  It also leads to unnecessary anger and there is much that we do not know and probably won't until this life is over.  In the end, who cares if someone is in fact bigoted toward us or professors from BYU or anyone else in the church?  The spiritual witness is what matters and sustains.  I was down in Los Angeles a few years ago watching a football game, rooting for the University of Utah and had several people ask me how many wives I had.  My response was to pretend that I couldn't remember if it were 4 or 5.  Everyone laughed and we went on.

    Fair enough. 

    • Like 1
  3. I think the Givens' are onto something when they write about how a certain cognitive distance is required for us to truly have choice which reflects what we truly want and who we truly are. There's a saying that people show who they really are once they put on a mask; being separated from those who know us and their expectations of us offers us the chance to really let loose. Given that the face of God is veiled from us and we feel independent, we can act as we are and show who we are and what we value most highly. We can choose whether or not to become worthy of godhood. 

    There's also the idea that faith is a principle of power and constitutes the very power of God. In that case this life would be a sort of workout, strengthening our divine muscles if you will. 

    There's also a thought that I have had recur to me a few times. Perhaps it is crazy. But I am a firm believer that suffering is an essential part of this earthly experience. I don't know how many of you have ever read the Eragon books (if you haven't, then spoiler alert) but in the end the good guy goes to fight the evil emperor and gets totally whooped. The hero loses the climactic final battle in devastating fashion: the evil emperor is for all intents and purposes a god at that point and is just way too powerful for any combination of opposing forces to ever overcome him. The hero's last-ditch effort is to cast a spell that causes the evil emperor to feel, to experience, to understand every negative emotion he has ever caused in his generations-long reign. The experience is too much for the Bad Guy, who destroys himself and rids the world of his tyranny. End scene. 

    It occurs to me that we could become a lot like the Bad Guy of Eragon without a knowledge, a personal knowledge born of experience, of suffering. We could cause it and just not know, and as Gods, who could teach us? I believe that apotheosis requires a period of suffering, an inoculation against coldness and cruelty, but to have that we must first know what those concepts are and what they mean to the individual, and that requires experience. It's kind of like the Primary song, "How could the Father tell the world?/Of sacrifice, of death?/He sent His Son to die for us/And rise with living breath." How could the Father show the world of cruelty, of coldness, of wickedness and pain? How could He teach us about these things so that we would recognize and avoid them? By inoculation: during our "short night in the inconvenient hotel" as Mother Teresa described mortality-as-juxtaposed-with-eternity, we would be exposed to these things. We would be exposed to despair and suffering, so that we would not consider them too cheaply. 

    As to how this connects back to faith, it seems to me obvious that God has to be at a distance during such an experience. In a tragic sense, humanity needs to be free to be choose cruelty as well as good, so that we may see that all things have their opposites. But that freedom would not exist were God to hover there. Nor would we be able to experience despair or hopelessness, with God ever nearby. To experience these things for even the shortest time, God needs to pull away for a minute. We all need to go through Gethsemane, to be crucified together with Christ. We all need to ask, at one point or another, "Oh God, where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?"

    Or, in the words of the Exemplar, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" 

    Faith is a necessity because of the necessity of God's distance. God has to be distant, He has to, or else the Plan fails. It rends Him, we are told, but it is not avoidable. Thus, He asks us to have faith, offers it as a means of sustenance, and waits until, for each of us, "it is finished." This is my theodicy and with it my theology of faith, such as it is. 

    • Like 1
  4. 13 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

    There is no spirit.  You judge writing, story, simply on the basis of its quality.  Spirit is not inspiration.  Spirit is makebelieve.  Inspiration is simply your chemical response to appreciated info.  

    Those who don't already believe that assertion find nothing in your comment that is convincing. It's just not a shared point of departure, no matter how many times it is said. 

    • Like 3
  5. 5 hours ago, Robert J Anderson said:

    Isn't the problem, from a critic's perspective, that the believing apologist must come to a believing conclusion, despite where the evidence logically leads?

    That is the problem, from a critic's perspective. From my perspective,  @mfbukowski is right. Logic can only build off of established rules and assumptions. If those rules are not shared, the logic becomes irrelevant and a category error.

    5 hours ago, Robert J Anderson said:

    At a certain point, one has to humbly give up on outliers, despite the continued existence of possibilities the outliers possess.

    Why? It seems like any choice to do so would be entirely subjective. 

    5 hours ago, Robert J Anderson said:

    I think this is why critics make the demand to have non-mormon experts review apologetic work.  It isn't because of bigotry or some other reason.  Apologists hold to outliers, perhaps too much, and maybe independent experts would do some good in showing this?

    Who gets to define "too much"? The outside experts? Why do the apologists and their genuinely held opinions deserve to be disenfranchised? Who sets the standards? Where does the authority come from? 

    Perhaps my point should be clarified, it couldn't hurt. I don't believe that it is inherently bigoted to ask for a non-Mormon expert, but it is bigoted to say that the opinions of Mormons don't count, dismissing them out of hand, is bigoted. It's dismissing a person, refusing to listen, simply because of who they are or the opinions and affiliations they hold. Hence, somebody who argues that Gee or Muhlestein aren't "real Egyptologists" is acting in a bigoted manner. 

    6 hours ago, Robert J Anderson said:

    If one spends too much time rationalizing possibilities, one can suddenly realize that possibility doesn't equal probability and start to doubt the spiritual.  We live in an imperfect world where sense can mislead us.  God speaks to imperfect vessels and what may seem one way is in reality another when seen through the spirit. 

    I pretty much agree with this. This blog post summarized some thoughts of C.S. Lewis which I think you'll mostly agree with, and I do too. You are absolutely right about imperfect worlds, misleading senses, and how God can act in ways that don't make sense to us. But I do think that apologetics can have value as helping us learn how God works, what God is willing to prioritize and tolerate, and I think that is valuable. Many would best be served by your philosophy, but others, perhaps less so. The Kingdom requires all kinds. 

    • Like 3
  6. On 8/31/2020 at 8:01 AM, stemelbow said:

    So, the conclusion is, since Ritner and Rhodes appeared to have some question marks that means it's possible it could be something other than they suggested?  Since anomalies have been mentioned, it's possible that attributing the figure as Anubis might be a mistake?  Since there are differences found, we don't really know very much?  So the overriding presumption here is that all the question marks might mean Abraham's story can be found in the Egyptian anyway?  Granted I didn't read the 100 pages.  Wasn't interesting enough.  I did a skim.  Not sure what exactly you are trying to say with this.  Perhaps you are saying, well it might not really be Anubis anyway, because there is uniqueness to this particular vignette?  Did Barney point to any Egyptian experts to suggest as much?  or is he simply saying, we don't really know, so it's possible Ritner and company are wrong anyway?  

    Let's take this paragraph sentence by sentence.

    On 8/31/2020 at 8:01 AM, stemelbow said:

    So, the conclusion is, since Ritner and Rhodes appeared to have some question marks that means it's possible it could be something other than they suggested?

    Yes. Bear in mind that Ritner, Rhodes, nor anybody else are actually ancient Egyptians, nor authors of these texts. That means that all we get are interpretations from the outside. Egyptologists can catalogue various symbols, catalogue their contexts, and thus figure out a general range of meaning for each one. That meaning, as best we can guess, is most likely going to represent a mainstream use of those symbols since it is drawn from a broad number of samples. This does not, however, mean that all possible meanings have been discovered by the scholars, or even can be. So, in conclusion, scholars can only give us a "most likely" interpretation of these things. It's always possible that it could be something other than they suggested. These are symbols we are talking about, not laws of nature. 

    On 8/31/2020 at 8:01 AM, stemelbow said:

    Since anomalies have been mentioned, it's possible that attributing the figure as Anubis might be a mistake?

    Since there are big anomalies regarding Figure 6, yes. Precisely. 

    On 8/31/2020 at 8:01 AM, stemelbow said:

    Since there are differences found, we don't really know very much?  So the overriding presumption here is that all the question marks might mean Abraham's story can be found in the Egyptian anyway?

    Not in the Breathing Permit, no. On another papyrus, whether or not Joseph Smith ever encountered it, yes. 

    On 8/31/2020 at 8:01 AM, stemelbow said:

    Granted I didn't read the 100 pages.  Wasn't interesting enough.  I did a skim.  Not sure what exactly you are trying to say with this.  Perhaps you are saying, well it might not really be Anubis anyway, because there is uniqueness to this particular vignette?  Did Barney point to any Egyptian experts to suggest as much?  or is he simply saying, we don't really know, so it's possible Ritner and company are wrong anyway?  

    This is unfortunate, I found the paper quite interesting. If you'd like, you can check Barney's included bibliography, where he cites many mainstream Egyptologists and their findings, including Robert Ritner. Unfortunately, I don't have time to list them. Also, since we're on the Anubis figure, he argues that there are anomalies with the greater vignette, yes, but also with the Anubis figure itself, which weaken identifications of the figure as Anubis. 

    I don't quite know what you mean by "point to Egyptian experts". Barney did original research, citing other credible Egyptian experts. People are allowed to put forth original theses, you know. Not everything has to first have been said by someone else. Were it so, scholarship would grind to a halt and be broken in its own paradox. 

    On 8/31/2020 at 8:01 AM, stemelbow said:

    Seems fairly odd that he didn't go to Ritner himself for input.  He seems comfortable concluding Ritner isn't sure without any statement from Ritner (at least from what I've seen) suggesting as much.

    He's critiquing the grounds upon which Ritner bases his certainty, not disputing what Ritner thinks about his own opinions. 

    On 8/31/2020 at 8:01 AM, stemelbow said:

    Unfortunately, all too often, apologetics attempts to run right over the top of every single logical and scholarly rule in order to justify itself.    "We've found something fascinating about our scripture, because it's possible God did the unthinkable and has sent scholars in the wrong direction, distracted on their rules of scholarship and stuff.  Since its possible God has misled our scholars, we can say without reservation that our religion is possible and since possible that means it's probably true."  

    Unfortunately, all too often, critics attempt to run right over the top of sound philosophy regarding the scope, capabilities, and limitations of research and human knowledge. This often results in fetishization of a sense of certainty and authority, and a complementary intolerance for ambiguity. 

    I mean, seriously: "because it's possible God did the unthinkable and has sent scholars in the wrong direction, distracted on their rules of scholarship and stuff."

    Literally everything we have of scholarship has been dragged out of the ashes of past scholarship that has been burnt to the ground. The whole concept of ongoing research is built on the premise that scholars can be wrong! I'm going to presume that you know this and stop beating this particular dead horse. 

    Also, define rules of scholarship. Let me guess: "peer review." When an apologetic statement is, actually, peer reviewed, the goalpost shifts: "peer-reviewed by non-Mormon experts." This seems to me like nothing more than rank ideological bigotry. What kind of free discourse can we conceivably claim if a person's opinions on a matter can be summarily dismissed based on his origins, life circumstances, or ideological opinions? That's why claims that "mUhLeStEiN aNd GeE aReN't ReAl EgYpToLoGiStS" merely convince me to regard the claimant as a bigot. Try these "rules of scholarship" on for size: intellectual humility, willingness to acknowledge the horizons of one's understanding, willingness to acknowledge the limitations of scholarship, and willingness to understand that all conclusions, including one's own, are held provisionally. Willingness to understand that not all explanations are or can be universal. Willingness to understand that institutional authority is not a trump card. 


    Since its possible God has misled our scholars, we can say without reservation that our religion is possible and since possible that means it's probably true.

    No need for God to do the misleading: if Barney is right, the scholars have done that themselves. Nevertheless, "by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls."  The august dignity of "the wise" is of little concern. Finally, you misrepresent me. Have I ever said possibility implied probability? No, but it confounds certainty. I'm okay with the absence of that; much of it is probably false certainty anyway. 

    Edit: I forgot this part:


    I don't really understand the presumptive nature of this position you are holding.  What audience are you talking about here?

    I'm generally talking about the Semitic Adaptation Theory, which holds forth that Joseph Smith's translations represent how a Jewish redactor would have interpreted those symbols. It's basically that Semitic redactors adapted the facsimiles as illustrations of their own text - the Book of Abraham. Therefore, to declare the Egyptian sacerdotal interpretation of the scenes as a disproof of the Book is to commit a non sequitur - the Egyptian priest's interpretation is not exclusive, nor is it as important as the Semitic interpretation. Under SAT,  the facsimiles that Joseph received could have been included among Hor's possessions as an accompaniment to a Book of Abraham text, or they could simply be types, with Joseph receiving the rest by revelation. 

    • Like 1
  7. 1 hour ago, Bernard Gui said:

    In our area “Ex-Mormons for Jesus“ shadowed the missionaries to find out who they were visiting. They would then show up later to “tell them the truth”  about what Church “really teaches.” They visited a convert family the week after their baptism. The next Sunday, the father and mother came to me (the bishop) and said they would not be coming back. I asked why? They said the EMJ folks told them that we had naked orgies in the temple.....and that if they confronted me I would deny it. I did. Nothing I could say convinced them it was a lie.They never came back.

    I was present when an angry couple shouted at their bishop as the cast Satan out of him after their excommunication. His parents were members of my ward. He lied during the council that one of the reasons they were leaving was because our ward had ignored mistreated his impoverished parents. Later the man became a leader in the local former Mormons group and continued to lie about the Church in regularly published messages.

    Actions like that help me to understand why early members of the Church like Brigham Young thought that D&C 76's redefinition of hell was too kind. That's dishonest, manipulative, and infuriating. 

    1 hour ago, Bernard Gui said:

    “If you really love me more than the Church, then smoke a joint or have a glass of wine or a beer with me” has been a fairly common request. Usually, some sort of reconciliation comes months or years later.

    I've never seen that happen myself but it wouldn't surprise me. If so, that's abusive. 

    • Like 1
  8. 18 hours ago, Scribe said:

    No, it has not. The parallels that Barney cites are textual. They are not ancient Egyptian religious vignettes relabeled to tell a completely different story. And the textual parallels are pretty general; the only characteristically Egyptian image in either one is the "weighing" of souls in the Testament of Abraham.

    So, in other words...Semitic authors adapting themes from Egyptian illustrations in their writing is irrelevant because their adaptations take the form of text as opposed to illustration? Between you and me our standards of evaluating these things are surely different, but in my opinion that seems like an overly narrow definition of the phenomenon of borrowing. Semitic-Egyptian borrowing in other genres weakens the argument from silence with respect to the genre of illustration. 


    • Like 1
  9. 4 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

    One of the most sacred moments of my life happened in a visit to St. Anthony's Seminary (Franciscan) in Santa Barbara- right next door to the SB mission dating to the 17 hundreds established by Junipero Serra.  The altar below is in the Seminary- not the mission.   But when the Eucharist is elevated by the priest, as is shown in your pics, the host is superimposed over that circular area, and then higher up is the crucifix, symbolizing of course Christ's sacrifice, if you are Catholic.  And notice that the crucifix itself is on a roughly circular area surrounded by various symbols sacred to Catholics, and the Father and Holy Ghost symbolized in the other smaller circles. 

    The cross seems to grow out of the Tree of Life

    So you have the  Garden, the sacrifice of the Mass re-capitulating the Savior's sacrifice, with the Father and Holy Ghost all in a symphony of circles representing eternity.


    I was praying about becoming a Catholic priest at the time, at the age of 13, and I think those prayers led to the first personal revelation of my life, so this I think was in 1962 or so. 

    It is an incredibly beautiful altar piece.

    I believe the seminary is now closed though, and the building has been sold to another Christian group.   But man, THAT altarpiece is a treasure!!  Blow it up and zoom in if you can- it is just one symbol on top of another- simply gorgeous!!



    The Catholics do religious artwork like no other, in my humble opinion, though to be fair I haven't gotten to see a lot of Eastern Orthodox artwork in person so my judgement is provisional. 

    I hope that one day my own religious tradition can have such a vibrant artistic tradition but there is a 2000 year head start and some of the greatest artistic geniuses of all time to catch up to. 

    • Like 1
  10. 1 hour ago, Scribe said:

    People from one culture don't generally copy whole scenes from another culture, relabel the figures, and use them as illustrations of entirely different scenes from their own sacred texts. Given Judaism's revulsion toward gods other than Yahweh, Hebrew/Jews would have been especially unlikely to do that with images that included ancient Egyptian deities. And nobody can find an instance in which they did so.

    This is false. This exact phenomenon, in fact, has been documented. 

    Per Kevin Barney, discussing his paper entitled "The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources":


     If the text came into the care of an Egyptian-Jew in the Greco-Roman era (and I fancifully labeled this hypothetical scribe J-Red, for “Jewish Redactor”), he may have adopted or adapted Egyptian vignettes as illustrations of the Abraham story contained in the text.  This may sound fanciful at first, but I then went on to show several examples from that time and place where this is exactly what happened.  For instance, in the Testament of Abraham, the vignette accompanying chapter 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead is reimagined in Semitic terms.  Osiris sitting on the throne of judgment becomes Abel; the Egyptian gods become Semitic angels; the scribe Thoth becomes the biblical Enoch.  So I posited as a possibility that, “As the vignette for chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead is to the Testament of Abraham, so are the Facsimiles to the Book of Abraham.”

    Another example I gave from this same time period was the Demotic Story of Setna, which is adapted into Jewish lore with seven rabbinic splinter stories, and ultimately finds its way into the Gospel of Luke as the story of Lazarus and the rich man.  In that Gospel account, Abraham is used as a Jewish substitute for the Egyptian Osiris, just as we see in Facsimiles 1 and 3.  So it was common for Jews living in Egypt around the turn of the era to adopt or adapt Egyptian iconography to their own purposes as illustrations of their own stories.

    Barney goes on to discuss how he views the idea of Jewish redaction of the vignettes as possible, as well as the idea that Joseph Smith redacted them in genuine Hebraic scriptural tradition. I view either explanation as acceptable. 

    "Jewish revulsion towards Gods other than Yahweh" is highly exaggerated by the priestly compilers of the Hebrew Bible. Even within the Bible you can see the children of Israel worshipping other gods all the time; it's basically the whole point of Kings and Chronicles. Baal and Asherah were worshipped in Israelite high places and even in the temple. The Jews in Egypt had their own temple in Elephantine which was in communion, if you will, with Jerusalem. The picture is quite different than what the Old Testament lets on. 

    1 hour ago, Scribe said:

    This is misleading. The text of the Papyrus of Hor is a standard-issue Book of Breathing, and there is nothing unusual about it. The vignette that became Facsimile 1 is unusual among Egyptian papyri, but only slightly. Embalming scenes from Books of Breathing are usually somewhat different from this particular vignette, but a scene where a person lies on or gets up from a lion-headed bed would always signify a scene of embalming or resurrection. Moreover, Ritner thinks the scene in the Papyrus of Hor may be copied from a temple relief, and temples from the same time period as the Papyrus of Hor contain scenes that closely match the vignette. While it may be true that "we cannot honestly claim that we fully understand what is going on with it", for the most part the drawing is well understood.

    This is also not quite accurate. See Quinten Barney on Facsimile 3, which was part of the Papyrus of Hor; it's got some unusual abnormalities to contend with. Facsimile 1, as well. If a different redactor is in play and the vignette has been re-appropriated, then precedents kind of cease to matter, since the whole game has changed. 

    That's the whole problem, as I said before. Ritner goes after it as a mainstream Egyptologist; when, unsurprisingly, his interpretations are different from that of a redactor, the case is apparently closed and the book is false. I say, not so fast. 

    • Like 3
  11. 4 minutes ago, california boy said:

    I agree with you.  It would be very difficult to be neutral in scholarship.  When it comes to religion few people are neutral, even those that don't follow a particular religion.  My post was explaining why some ex Mormons can't leave the Church alone.

    Sounds good to me. I'm glad you've made your peace and are in a good place (or at least it looks like it from here.) 

    • Like 1
  12. 8 minutes ago, Bob Crockett said:

    Your wife's experience is not evidence.   The number of bashers likely exceed the membership of the LDS Church. 

    16 million bashers? Maybe on a casual dinner-table-conversation level, but really dedicated ones? I'd bet there haven't been that many in all of recorded history. 

    Also, his wife's experience is, in fact, evidence that a peaceful rupture is possible. 

    • Like 1
  13. I mean, I don't really believe in the idea of "neutral scholarship" at all. Everyone comes at questions with an ingrained way of looking at the world that will affect their conclusions. It is not avoidable and it affects what we view as evidence and how we weigh it. But I am not the first to preach such cautions and certainly not the last. So, since I don't believe in truly neutral scholarship, my answer is no, there can be no neutral scholarship on Joseph Smith. 

    Admittedly, the problem is more pronounced when it comes to Joseph Smith since the questions involved require staking whole lifestyles, worldviews, social connections...in reality, we stake our lives on the answer. This is as Jesus Christ wants it; "he who loveth his life shall lose it and he who loseth his life shall find it" and all that. So I believe that the idea of "neutral scholarship" is even less plausible for matters regarding Joseph Smith. 

    Now, it is possible for scholars to approximate neutrality by working with deliberate charity for the other side, giving due regard for counterarguments, etc. But "true neutrality" is frankly an incoherent idea, philosophically. So no, I don't believe it can exist. 

    @california boy, I think your discussion of the motives of former-members-turned-critics is valid but in essence says that no, neutral scholarship and commentary cannot exist. You offer a defense of the moral justification of criticism of the Church, but that does not say that such criticism is neutral. 

    • Like 3
  14. Ritner is an deservedly renowned Egyptologist, very capable in his field. It's the field in question that is the problem. Scholastic Egyptology, like most fields of academic study, focuses on creating a normative framework based on collected data. This framework forms the way we look at the subject matter.  In other words, it's about analyzing the data and using it to create a coherent mental picture. This involves figuring out the predictable rules and regularities which make things make sense. Once we determine the rules, we judge things by those rules. This is a useful and honestly indispensable practice but it does leave a certain blind spot when is comes to anomaly. 

    Ritner is approaching the Joseph Smith Papyri in terms of rules, precedents, and regularities in Egyptology. He's trying to situate the Joseph Smith papyri in a conventional Egyptological framework. He interprets things as approximations of what they would have meant to Egyptian cultic priests. Everything must yield an interpretation within the Egyptian cultic system. His preferred approach is normative, looking at the papyri and judging them as though they were normal Egyptian papyri. His interpretations are quite orthodox and respectable in this regard. 

    But the papyri are not normal Egyptian papyri. Per Kerry Muhlestein, "It seems logically inconsistent to dictate that one unknown part of the papyrus must conform to known drawings when other known parts of the papyrus clearly do not." Besides, even if they didn't have observable anomalies, the Joseph Smith Papyri passed from the conventional to the anomalous when they became involved in sacred translation. The conventional explanation for these papyri is not definitive unless the papyri are viewed as nothing more than basic Egyptian ritual papyri. Such an approach, however, ignores the present anomalies and the complicating factor of sacred translation and the question of whose interpretations count. I find it an unsatisfactory approach and thus Ritner's persistent opposition to the Church is not troubling to me. It misses the point. 

    • Like 1
  15. 8 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

    You like that one?

    Check out this one.  It's a screenshot off my Kindle book which I strongly suggest you buy.  The kindle reader app is free and the book sells for THREE DOLLARS!  Sorry for the text size but it is the best I am capable of under the limitations I had.  Vattimo is a practicing Catholic (as far as I know ) who is in my opinion one of the best contemporary pragmatic theologians who is actually a believer.





    What gives meaning in our lives is the creation of new worlds, which process brings us joy and well-being.

    Sound familiar?  ;)


    I'll get that book and get back to you.

    Actually, I did mean to ask you for more recommendations. I've finished reading and digesting "What It's Like To Be A Bat", what's the next great text?

  16. 1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

    I'm eager to see what he comes up with too.  Still,  feeling concerned hes basing his conclusions on only part of the story since what is published is a very minimal sampling of the claimed comparisons.  Hopefully too, Townsend doesn't take the legs out from under him.  

    I think I get your tendency to lash out.  Og's comment seems to help prepare room for the very apologetic I mentioned.  

    Townsend's upcoming paper, if I am not mistaken, is focused on Clarke's influence in the Isaiah of the Book of Mormon. It wouldn't engage Jackson's work much. 

    I think my comment has been misunderstood. It's my fault for not being more precise. I believe that divine revelation is needed for anything to become doctrine, however, I do think that it's reasonable for God to highlight truths that Joseph found in the world around him. In that sense I don't think that every single doctrine we have needed to be delivered direct from heaven without any intermediary. It's possible that the Spirit confirmed the truth of some doctrines to Joseph Smith which he found in his environment. To my mind, that is not any less a revelation. Paul taught truths which were found in the world around him (cf. Acts 17:28). Jesus Christ referenced the scriptures of his day and possibly even the Setne story in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. This does not bother me; it would be foolish to presume that children of God could be so totally blind as to miss all truth and represent none of it in their sacred musings. 

    This, however, is nowhere close to what I intended to say:

    11 hours ago, stemelbow said:

    "well God didn't reveal anything new to Joseph...it was sitting in a set of books, so He just told Joseph about that stuff, asking him to slyly sneak some of the useful sounding parts out and then pretend it was all something like a "translation" given of God.  What a marvelous truth we have discovered!"  

    I do not believe that God didn't reveal "anything new" to Joseph. On the contrary, He revealed quite a bit. I think that your view of revelation is unnecessarily narrow, but that definition of revelation sure makes for good mockery, doesn't it? That's no apologetic, that's a mockery. 

    Edit: As a sidenote, imagine somebody saying that "Paul just got the idea that we are children of God from Greek poets!" 

    • Like 3
  17. 2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

    I just have one more point to make, then I hope to escape this thread- it is about physicalism - the view that we are all "determined" by chemicals and ONE major counter-argument against it was put forth by a guy called Frank Jackson.

    The earth shaker argument was put out by Thomas Nagel- whom I often quote because this issue is a staple on this board, and I quote Nagel usually when it does come up.  That is "What it's like to be a bat".  

    I am going to try to put forward a more understandable argument.

    Physical reactions are noted by science as nerve impulses and electrochemical reactions.

    But the "reality" WE EXPERIENCE are NOT nerve impulses and electrochemical reactions etc.

    When we get stung by a mosquito it "itches"!!   What we experience is an "ITCH" which is a subjective experience which we cannot compare with anyone else's itch.  One person may be allergic to mosquitoes and their experience may be quite different than ours.

    Neurologically the description of what is happening during what we call an "itch" does not itself FEEL like an itch, and therefore does NOT DESCRIBE the experience of the itch the way we feel it.

    Some philosophers call what we feel and experience, a "quale" or in the plural, they use the word "qualia".  Qualia are the itch in the bite and the RED in red- not the wavelength of light but it's experience- the way it feels to see something "red"

    From an article I wrote in Times and Seasons, at the request of our friend, Clark Goble,


    he made the following comment, quoting Frank Johnson :


    So that is the central problem with physicalism and why logically, talking about light wavelengths is not talking about the quale "red" nor is talking about what the mosquito did to your skin is not "make it itch"

    Religion and morals speak about qualia, science speaks about accepted hypotheses about what CAUSES qualia in the supposedly "real world"

    How often are you thinking about the quarks and subatomic particles in a chair when you talk about a "chair"??

    Which language game is the one speaking about "reality" in that situation?

    Yet again, Rorty said it perfectly

    Show me where Sam Harris refutes THAT!

    He confuses describing qualia with scientific description, just as good old Cardinal Bellarmine did.

    I'm in awe.

    • Like 1
  18. 2 hours ago, Calm said:

    I would not be surprised if this was originally meant to be a reference to dust rather than powder in the sense that God created man from dust and now because of their wickedness returns them to it. Or it could be hyperbole with the purpose to emphasizing those who sin against the Lord end up as less than the sands of the sea, powder that disappears as a wind scatters it. 

    I think the way God talks to us is often very simple and matter of fact, but the way we share that message with others may end up filled with complicated phrasing of symbolic, sacred language because of trying to convey the sense of the experience along with the info.  I don’t think that makes the language untrue or not faithful to what God actually said. It is simply that the truth trying to be conveyed is more than the words. 

    The intended sacred nature of scripture language feels to me to be degraded by using a term like hyperbole or exaggeration which fits more with boasting for me than sacred language. 

    Long time ago I remember reading about a sacred mountain when I was studying mythology. I remember the mountain being described by the writer as not that memorable or special. The only thing unusual about it was that it had been identified with divinity. However, the religious description of the mountain was quite the opposite. I can’t remember if it was actually described as standing above its neighbours, but that is the feel of it that is in my memory. Unfortunately we are talking about something I read most likely in my mid teens and while the general info impressed me enough to stick in my head, the name did not...though I think it likely Japan or Greece as the two places I studied the most. 

    That's a good point. The experience of transcendence, by nature, transcends the conventional situations for which language is employed. Language fails to describe it, so it makes sense that we would inflate our language with regard to sacred things, not out of a desire to boast but a desire to appropriately capture and represent the sacred and transcendent nature of what we're discussing. 

    • Like 1
  19. 3 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

    And then there is the Stone of Scone

    I could go for a scone right about now.

    6 hours ago, Tacenda said:

    Well, there are people that do not believe Joseph Smith lived polygamy either, in fact it's our British poster, or the one with a British flag as their avatar. And some will not believe that the BoM lands were anywhere but the New York area. 

    Such lapses of awareness are truly unfortunate. 


    7 hours ago, mrmarklin said:

    In my mind the case for a US based Nephite civilization is very weak, because When Europeans arrived the natives were illiterate savages with no writing abilities and divided into a bunch of warring tribes. 

    South or Central America make a better case, as there were fairly cultured and high civilizations with methods to record things When the Europeans arrived. Presumably, these could be descended from the even higher Nephites. 

    I don't read Jracforr as proposing a North American geography. He says in his OP that he views Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua as locations where the Book of Mormon took place. Rather, he's saying that the Nephite settlement followed similar patterns as the European settlement of North America and represents a model for such.

    However, @Jracforr, I have to push back on a couple of points. It's true that the land northward gets relatively short shrift in the Book of Mormon. However, I would argue that that is because it was never the heartland of Nephite civilization like Zarahemla was. We only see signs of real Nephite migration to the land northward in Alma, 500 years after the Lehite landing and 100 years into the unified Nephite-Mulekite state. Zarahemla remained the center of gravity until the Nephites lost it only a few decades before their final destruction. The line from Bountiful to Zarahemla was the Nephite heartland, as illustrated by the fact that the Nephites hunkered down to defend that land during the Gadianton siege in 3 Nephi. We only really get the names of cities in the land northward as they are in the process of being destroyed by the Lamanites. I would argue that Zarahemla and Bountiful and Ammonihah and such are more analogous to New York and Philadelphia and Boston than they are to Atlanta and Richmond and Raleigh. The land northward was the less-relevant part of the country, not the land southward. 

    • Like 3
  20. The Holley map is laughable. Jacobugath is supposed to be to the north, Angola should be north of the narrow neck while Morianton should be south of Bountiful, Zarahemla is nowhere near the coast whereas the land of Lehi-Nephi should be at least somewhere near a coast, and Onidah needs to be south, closer to Jerusalem than Zarahemla. For the life of me I'll never understand why Jeremy Runnells wasted any time on this one. 

    Also Zarahemla = Palmyra is ludicrous.

    • Like 2
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