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"Not a shred of archeological evidence"


mpschmitt

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I have discerned a mantra becoming more prevalent (or maybe I'm just more aware of it) in Evangelical responses to Mormonism. It usually takes the form of:

"There's not a shred of archeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon"

I find this problematic coming from folks who profess belief in the Bible. I would not find it as problematic if it came from a secular scholar. There are "factoids" (to the secular scholar who lacks the faith to believe) too numerous to mention in the bible that are not substantiated by any historical or archeological evidence to my knowledge, and this is not problematic for any of us because we take it on faith. It seems like a double standard to me. Any thoughts? I'm particularly interested in what my Evangelical brothers and sisters out there feel about this? Do you feel it is a fair approach to our theology to use such means to "discredit it" or does it seem as slippery a slope to you as it does to us?

In bringing this up, I'm not seeking to undermine the Bible, I'm just trying to put forward the idea that such a methodology of debunking something is not very fair or effective when you get into matters of faith and belief. Particularly if your own tradition has similar problems in different areas.

Here are a few examples of items in the Bible that to my knowledge we have no physical evidence, or no third party corroborating text at the very least, to support them (but verily there are many):

The existence of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and a host of other old testament prophets

The existence of Adam and Eve

The existence of the Ark of Noah

The fall of Jericho

The plagues of the Egyptians

The exodus of the Jews

The parting of the Red Sea

The Ark of the Covenant

The Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus

The Crucifixion of Jesus (if you allow Josephus this may not be a problem)

The Rending of the Veil of the Temple

The Resurrection of Jesus

Also more recent discoveries have begun to corroborate some things that were sticking points at earlier times for Biblical scholars (such as the fact that there was no evidence that Solomon had as many horses as the Bible says he had), but those took thousands of years to surface. The Book of Mormon has been around for a comparatively shorter amount of time and describes a culture that had devolved to not only avoid record keeping but to hate and seek the destruction of the record keepers and their records. A culture that ultimately annihilated itself, with no third parties around to carry on the documentation, and with subsequent conquest that caused more destruction of artifacts and records (Conquistadors).

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I have discerned a mantra becoming more prevalent

...

Perhaps because it is true.

A great deal of the biblical geography can be confirmed as being

"real" places on the face of the earth. Not in every single instance,

of course, but once we get out of the semi-mythological Genesis,

and into the rest of the Hebrew Bible, the locations in the text

can be confirmed.

We know where Jericho is.

We do not know of any such place as Zarahemla.

We know where the Sea of Galilee is.

We cannot confirm a narrow neck of land, a day and a half's walk across

for a Nephite.

We know where the Mediterranean is.

Nobody other than Mormons believes Ripliancum to be a real place.

However, the Book of Mormon mentions Jerusalem, and we can

all agree where that is. The book also mentions an expanse of

land which could only have been Arabia -- it mentions the

Red Sea, etc. etc.

So, there are geographical locations in the Book of Mormon

which everybody can agree is real.

Now, all the Mormons need do is to add a few more locations

to that list we all agree upon.

If the Book of Mormon's geography is "true," then sooner or

later God should allow them to pinpoint their sacred spots

in the Americas. Joseph Smith found a Nephite tower or altar

not far from Kansas City. That's at least a start.

Uncle Dale

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Perhaps because it is true.

A great deal of the biblical geography can be confirmed as being

"real" places on the face of the earth. Not in every single instance,

of course, but once we get out of the semi-mythological Genesis,

and into the rest of the Hebrew Bible, the locations in the text

can be confirmed.

We know where Jericho is.

We do not know of any such place as Zarahemla.

We know where the Sea of Galilee is.

We cannot confirm a narrow neck of land, a day and a half's walk across

for a Nephite.

We know where the Mediterranean is.

Nobody other than Mormons believes Ripliancum to be a real place.

However, the Book of Mormon mentions Jerusalem, and we can

all agree where that is. The book also mentions an expanse of

land which could only have been Arabia -- it mentions the

Red Sea, etc. etc.

So, there are geographical locations in the Book of Mormon

which everybody can agree is real.

Now, all the Mormons need do is to add a few more locations

to that list we all agree upon.

If the Book of Mormon's geography is "true," then sooner or

later God should allow them to pinpoint their sacred spots

in the Americas. Joseph Smith found a Nephite tower or altar

not far from Kansas City. That's at least a start.

Uncle Dale

Yes, but Uncle Dale, you must admit that knowing where something is, like Nahom for instance (see http://www.jefflindsay.com/bme15.shtml ) is only one piece of the puzzle. I could write a book that testified that on May 7th, 1632, giant pecan pies fell out of the sky and 3 foot tall men emerged from them who wreaked havoc for 10 days on New Amsterdam. Fortunately for us we know that New Amsterdam was the original name of what became New York City. But what if we didn't? And even if we did, can we determine anything at all about the veracity of the pecan pie invasion simply based on the fact that we know there was a New Amsterdam? No.

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Dale, what do you know of Gamla?

Is it a Syrian hunk of Bronze Age land claimed by the Israelis?

UD

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Gamla was the seat of a savage siege during the Jewish Revolt of AD 66, for which Josephus gave a fair amount of geographi and descriptive detail, but it wasn't until a few decades ago that its location was established. This despite quite a concetrated effort of 100+ years of searching.

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Clearly there is archaeological evidence for Mormonism. Lots of it. Ever been to Palmyra? Kirtland? Nauvoo? Those places are talked about in LDS scripture.

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...it wasn't until a few decades ago

...

Well, I'm glad they found it.

Now when those Ancient Near Eastern scholars get together, they'll

have one more site to talk about. They'll probably even dig up

some nice old coins and other Jewish artifacts there. Fine with me.

And when the Meso-American scholars get together, they'll talk about

all the ancient sites they've uncovered in the Americas. They'll talk

about the geographical spread of maize agriculture out of the Valley

of Mexico to places as far flung as southern Chili and Maine. They'll

talk about the distribution of fossil red pepper pollen in the

annual deposits of ancient lake beds. They'll talk about the variations

in pottery making over the ages, and how one Indian culture borrowed

ceramics and weaving techniques from another.

They'll talk about many such things.

But not about Israelite colonies in the Americas.

Not in 2009.

Not in 2109.

and not in 2209.

Such archaeological talk will be limited to BYU -- forever.

Sorry about that.

UD

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And you've completely missed the point. Not surprised in the slightest.

The point being? That the Mormon archaeologists have searched for Zarahemla

since the 19th century, but may not find it for another 200 years?

Joseph Smith could find a Nephite tower on Lyman Wight's farm in a matter

of a few hours. Joseph Smith could find Zelph's bones in an equally short

period of time. He knew from whence Enoch's city departed the earth, and

he knew where Noah built his ark. He knew where Adam and Eve were created

and he knew where to send Oliver Cowdery and Parley Pratt, to locate some

Lamanites to preach to in 1830.

Were Joseph Smith still alive, you'd have Zarahemla artifacts on display

in Salt Lake City even as we talk.

But as for "real" Israelite artifacts: My belief is, that you'll never dig

up so much as a single ceramic lamp, let alone ossuaries for Nephi I and

all the kings named Nephi who followed him. No Israelite temples and no

Israelite temple furnishings. No Hebrew inscriptions. No Israelite

wheat fossil pollen. No amphora. No wine-presses. No olive oil jugs.

Of course that is just my belief, as a Reorganized LDS. Perhaps you

can list some reputable archaeologists who disagree with me???

UD

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Has everyone forgotten about the discovery of Nehom's location? Then travel due east, and there's Bountiful as well. Since the rest of the BoMormon doesn't specify exactly where it took place, and since their language wasn't preserved to allow us to track down Zarahemla, the BoMormon really is doing well enough. Great, in fact. Do people think Joseph Smith just got really, really, really etc. lucky with Nehom?

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Has everyone forgotten about the discovery of Nehom's location? Then travel due east, and there's Bountiful as well. Since the rest of the BoMormon doesn't specify exactly where it took place, and since their language wasn't preserved to allow us to track down Zarahemla, the BoMormon really is doing well enough. Great, in fact. Do people think Joseph Smith just got really, really, really etc. lucky with Nehom?

Which do you suppose will confirm this identification first?

The non-Mormon experts in ancient Arabian geography?

or

The Brethren in Salt Lake City?

Until one or the other confirms that no 19th century American writer

could have possibly located a NHM in ancient Yemen, I'll not put any

reliance in this allegation as supplying irrefutable proof of BoM antiquity.

UD

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Actually, I can think of NO reputable archaeologists that would agree with you, because no reputable archaeologist will state what will NOT be found.

OK, then -- to which conferences or meetings of experts on ancient

America should I go, in order to attend papers given which cite

the Book of Mormon as an authentic ancient text -- or its cultures

and locations as real possibilities for future exploration>

Which professional journals should I read, wherein the dispersion

of Old World technology, or agriculture, or ceramics and textiles

among known paleoIndian groups is examined and discussed.

Which experts in preColumbian anthropology should I speak with,

in order to gain a contemporary view of Book of Mormon accounts?

In short, when will the golden day arrive, when at last a Mormon

scholar publishes Book of Mormon cultural references in non-LDS,

peer-reviewed professional journals.

I can find Catholics, Protestants and Jewish scholars all publishing

in non-sectarian biblical and ANE journals. And I can find all sorts

of non-LDS scholars publishing in journals devoted to preColumbian

physical and cultural anthropology. But I fail to notice a single

mention of Jaredites, Mulekites, Nephites or Lamanites.

Am I reading the wrong literature?

UD

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OK I just want to as on simple quesstion .. and I want EVERYONE to try to find out: WHERE in Scandinavia si a town called Christiania! Please DO take a short while to look at the map. One more hint .. today it is one of then biggest Cities in Scandinavia! A premier to anyone who finds it on a map!

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Also more recent discoveries have begun to corroborate some things that were sticking points at earlier times for Biblical scholars (such as the fact that there was no evidence that Solomon had as many horses as the Bible says he had), but those took thousands of years to surface. The Book of Mormon has been around for a comparatively shorter amount of time and describes a culture that had devolved to not only avoid record keeping but to hate and seek the destruction of the record keepers and their records. A culture that ultimately annihilated itself, with no third parties around to carry on the documentation, and with subsequent conquest that caused more destruction of artifacts and records (Conquistadors).

No amount of historical archeological evidence will lend scientific credence to either the Bible or BoM. That is because such will not prove God exists, that He has a Son, or that His Son died for our sins and was resurected. Those are all faith based and no amount of science will help one believe.

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Until one or the other confirms that no 19th century American writer

could have possibly located a NHM in ancient Yemen, I'll not put any

reliance in this allegation as supplying irrefutable proof of BoM antiquity.

UD

ROFL Whatever. Who in upstate New York in 1830 would know where a place in Saudi Arabia was that hadn't existed for at least 1000 years? And what are the chances that a person putting together a forgery to... uh... make money(?)... would get their hands on such esoteric knowledge. And why name such an obscure location at all and go to so much trouble? Also, Bountiful (which would not have been on any map at that time or any time) corroborating its location is rather striking. It is rather unlikely that even in Europe and even Saudi Arabia, even a single person had an idea where NHM was. But you can enjoy your Kool-aid, if you like. :P The discovery of Nehom is strong authentication of the BoMormon; anyone that says otherwise has lost all sense of objectivity. Also, no one said it was irrefutable proof. But it's a miracle to get that right, whether God had a hand in it or not. The sign seekers should be happy to have gotten a sign... instead, they pretend it means nothing.

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Top Ten reasons "Not a shred of archeological evidence" is out there.

10. All those "it came to pass" glyphs are only coincidental.

9. The finding of other records on metal plates, Phfft, coincidental.

8. Egyptian names in the Book of Mormon like Panchi and Nephi must be there because even though Joseph Smith only had a third grade education back then it was equivalent to a Harvard, MIT and Princton degrees combined.

7. NHM/Nahum is purely coincidental.

6. Joseph Smith luckily guessed the exact sailing time it would take by currents for the Brother of Jared story, not even close to a bullseye.

5. It must of been pure luck that those three and eleven witnesses never once denied their statements to the world, even after the church kicked some of them out. For sure one of the weakest non evidence out there geesh...

4. Joseph's prophecies like the Civil War was just another lucky guess.

3.People having dreams of church leaders and missionaries before they had ever even seen a picture of them must have been a mass and global phenomenon. Joseph probably hypnotized them even years after his death. I have to admit that is a nice trick.

2. Things like Hebraisms and Chiasmus was well known during Josephs time so obviously there is nothing to this.

1. And the number one reason has to be that over thirteen million members who took up Moroni's challenge were obviously drug induced.

~~~~> Anijen just one deluded man

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Has everyone forgotten about the discovery of Nehom's location? Then travel due east, and there's Bountiful as well. Since the rest of the BoMormon doesn't specify exactly where it took place, and since their language wasn't preserved to allow us to track down Zarahemla, the BoMormon really is doing well enough. Great, in fact. Do people think Joseph Smith just got really, really, really etc. lucky with Nehom?

Nope, in fact I mentioned it above ;-)

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Lets not get carried away and call NHM a slam dunk. It is an intriguing piece of evidence, but there are plenty of non-mystical explanations for it's discovery. No need for JS to be a Harvard scholar for apologsts to locate something with an outside chance of being some kind of a match.

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ROFL Whatever. Who in upstate New York in 1830 would know where a place in Saudi Arabia was...

Hyrum Smith, Dartmouth College campus student --

Ethan Smith, Dartmouth College graduate (known to have visited Palmyra)

Solomon Spalding, Dartmouth College graduate (lived in upstate NY)

UD

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