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I will here reiterate my observation that what the Church seems to be doing here is formalizing under its own imprimatur some of the best apologetics arguments that have been advanced over the years. In my mind, that vindicates some of the apologists who have been vilified by critics who say their work does more harm than good or drives people away from the Church. I think we owe a debt of gratitude to many apologists, including those under the auspices of FAIR/FairMormon and FARMS/Maxwell Institute (prior to the purge of 2012).

Certainly I'm very grateful for the work of FAIR/FARMS etc.

But simply having something published on the church website doesn't necessarily vindicate.

It remains to be seen whether the church taking ownership of the answers helps more to stay or drives more out.

Edited by canard78
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I hope they get a little more hard hitting than "are Mormons Christian." But thanks for sharing all the same.

That's still the mantra in many quarters and, as such, warrants a well-reasoned response, regardless of whether you think it's a hard-hitting issue or not.

As I said earlier, the differing accounts of the First Vision thing has never been a problem for me personally, but obviously it is for others to the degree that it merits discussion on the Church website and elsewhere.

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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Certainly I'm very grateful for the work of FAIR/FARMS etc.

But simply having something published on the church website doesn't necessarily vindicate.

It remains to be seen whether the church taking ownership of the answers helps more to stay or drives more out.

I question the whole apologetics- drove-me-out-of-the-Church meme in the first place. I think this is largely a cry from people who have taken on an adversarial stance and will thus do what they can to undercut the Church's defenders, including blaming their own apostasy on the defenders.

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Questionable.

The Church will never accept their claim that Joseph Smith, 2 years before his martydrom, learned the location of the geography of The Book of Mormon from a book of travels written by John Lloyd Stephens, and everything Joseph Smith said or implied before about BoM geography indicated he "did not understand," which geography theory F.A.R.M.S. was founded upon.

Outside of that scope? possibly.

Book of Mormon geography is generally not a thing people leave the Church over unless it's a matter of them not being able to get past the erroneous notion that the Church holds officially to a hemispheric model. In that case it would be useful to reiterate that the Church takes no official position on that subject, and thus it's not a point on which the Book of Mormon can be falsified.

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I question the whole apologetics- drove-me-out-of-the-Church meme in the first place. I think this is largely a cry from people who have taken on an adversarial stance and will thus do what they can to undercut the Church's defenders, including blaming their own apostasy on the defenders.

Kevin C brought a great Brigham Young quote to my attention: "There is one principle I wish to urge upon the Saints in a way that it may remain with them—that is, to understand men and women as they are, and not understand them as you are."

http://en.fairmormon.org/Journal_of_Discourses/8/8

So it someone says something that doesn't make sense to you, you don't have to assume that they are wrong or disengenuous.

Part of my faith transition was based on content I read on Fair/FARMS/NAMI. Reading "A nation now extinct..." on NAMI was a considerable influence on my shift in perspectives on the origins of the Book of Mormon. Some of the FairMormon answers are good and adequately answer the issues. Others compound the problem and show that there are no reasonable answers to the issues. Blacklds.org/history and other Fair resources convinced me that the priesthood ban was an uninspired error based on racism and bigotry and in part contributed to a big change in my perspective on what a prophet is and how to engage with their teachings.

I have 3-4 times more posts on this board than any other and it has been among the contributors and consumers of FAIR/FARMS that I have had some of my most meaningful "ahah moments."

Given I'm not a critic and given I'm still in the church would you call any of my above comments "uppercuts."

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Book of Mormon geography is generally not a thing people leave the Church over unless it's a matter of them not being able to get past the erroneous notion that the Church holds officially to a hemispheric model. In that case it would be useful to reiterate that the Church takes no official position on that subject, and thus it's not a point on which the Book of Mormon can be falsified.

 

I know that you mentioned this FairMormon Conference talk earlier, but here it is again in case anyone missed the reference:

 

Mark Alan Wright,"Heartland as Hinterland: The Mesoamerican Core and North American Periphery of Book of Mormon Geography",

Proceedings of the 2013 FAIR Conference, (August 2013)

 

"My basic thesis is this: The core locations and events detailed in the text of the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica, but many Nephites and Lamanites migrated and established settlements far northward of the core area and are thus simply outside the scope of the text. I am certainly not the first to make this argument or note the significance of this northward migration, but from countless conversations I have had about Book of Mormon geography over the past few years I have found that many people are unfamiliar with the ideas."

(Click here for full article)

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Book of Mormon geography is generally not a thing people leave the Church over unless it's a matter of them not being able to get past the erroneous notion that the Church holds officially to a hemispheric model. In that case it would be useful to reiterate that the Church takes no official position on that subject, and thus it's not a point on which the Book of Mormon can be falsified.

Some excuse, as if the the subject didn't matter in claiming Joseph Smith didn't understand. There are geography theories that claim he did understand. Maybe if DesNews had actually been accurate by including in their articles about the Mesoamerica Theory that the Theory was based on the false premise that Joseph Smith mispoke, it would have been laughed out of the Church long ago. Instead it was apparently hidden, as it appears to me. The only reason I know of it, was from my perusing the MI site at BYU, and I mean perusing.

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Book of Mormon geography is generally not a thing people leave the Church over unless it's a matter of them not being able to get past the erroneous notion that the Church holds officially to a hemispheric model. In that case it would be useful to reiterate that the Church takes no official position on that subject, and thus it's not a point on which the Book of Mormon can be falsified.

There isn't generally one single issue that people leave over anyway. As Elder Uchtdorf mentioned, it's more complicated than that.

BoM geography can certainly be one of the issues that goes on the "mental shelf" and can contribute to the weight that eventually leads to it crashing.

From Joseph Smith describing Illinois as "the plains of the Nephites" to the current penchant for a small corner of the yukatan peninsula.

In a letter to Emma, Joseph wrote:

The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity, and gazing upon a country the fertility, the splendour and the goodness so indescribable, all serves to pass away time unnoticed.

On its own this doesn't disprove anything but it's a contributing factor to changing perspectives.

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I know that you mentioned this FairMormon Conference talk earlier, but here it is again in case anyone missed the reference:

Mark Alan Wright,"Heartland as Hinterland: The Mesoamerican Core and North American Periphery of Book of Mormon Geography",

Proceedings of the 2013 FAIR Conference, (August 2013)

"My basic thesis is this: The core locations and events detailed in the text of the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica, but many Nephites and Lamanites migrated and established settlements far northward of the core area and are thus simply outside the scope of the text. I am certainly not the first to make this argument or note the significance of this northward migration, but from countless conversations I have had about Book of Mormon geography over the past few years I have found that many people are unfamiliar with the ideas."

(Click here for full article)

I haven't cited this talk recently, but I'm well aware of it, and it is one of the most sensible treatises I have listened to or read on this subject. In a very plausible way, it navigates the evidence between a meso-American model and hemispheric presence of Book of Mormon peoples. Recognizing that the Church itself has taken no official position, Mark Wright's hinterlands theory demonstrates that no one need be unduly troubled over the matter of Book of Mormon geography.

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Some excuse, as if the the subject didn't matter in claiming Joseph Smith didn't understand. There are geography theories that claim he did understand. Maybe if DesNews had actually been accurate by including in their articles about the Mesoamerica Theory that the Theory was based on the false premise that Joseph Smith mispoke, it would have been laughed out of the Church long ago. Instead it was apparently hidden, as it appears to me. The only reason I know of it, was from my perusing the MI site at BYU, and I mean perusing.

I honor Joseph and recognize that he himself said a prophet is only a prophet when he is acting as such. A corollary to that is that a prophet, like anyone else is subject to his own private opinions and theories absent explicit revelation on any given topic.

Furthermore, the fact that the Church takes no official position on Book of Mormon geography ought to be indication enough to anyone that the theories of Joseph or anybody else on this subject are not binding upon the Latter-day Saints, the protestations of heartlander devotees notwithstanding.

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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There isn't generally one single issue that people leave over anyway. As Elder Uchtdorf mentioned, it's more complicated than that.

BoM geography can certainly be one of the issues that goes on the "mental shelf" and can contribute to the weight that eventually leads to it crashing.

From Joseph Smith describing Illinois as "the plains of the Nephites" to the current penchant for a small corner of the yukatan peninsula.

In a letter to Emma, Joseph wrote:

On its own this doesn't disprove anything but it's a contributing factor to changing perspectives.

The problem arises, I suppose, when people leave things to moulder on the mental shelf without revisiting them from time to time to see if they can be reconciled with new reasoning or information or whether they are wrongfully attributing to the Church positions it does not hold.

Your Joseph Smith quotation is a case in point. Have you read and considered Mark Wright's FairMormon talk that Wiki Wonka cited?

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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Some of the FairMormon answers are good and adequately answer the issues. Others compound the problem and show that there are no reasonable answers to the issues. 

 

I am assuming here you consider the first group questions that have reasonable answers and thus FairMormon is able to provide them and the second questions that don't have reasonable answers so FM isn't able to do much more than outline the problems realistically and it is up to the individual to deal with it how they choose.

 

Am I correct or are you saying that in the second we unintentionally make things worse, making it appear as if there are no reasonable answers when there may be.

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I am assuming here you consider the first group questions that have reasonable answers and thus FairMormon is able to provide them and the second questions that don't have reasonable answers so FM isn't able to do much more than outline the problems realistically and it is up to the individual to deal with it how they choose.

Am I correct or are you saying that in the second we unintentionally make things worse, making it appear as if there are no reasonable answers when there may be.

You are correct. I would imagine that if there was a reasonable answer the folks of FairMormon, of all people, would have answered it.

The only remaining problem that sometimes happens is that rather than just say "we don't have an answer to this issue" an attempted answer is given which isn't very reasonable or is a clumsy half-answer. In those cases it might simply be better to say "we don't know."

An example I've given before was a question about a G. Palmer suggestion that King Benjamin's speech was inspired by a specific circuit preacher's last talk at a camp that had a tower. The FM answer simply answered by saying there are similarities b/n KB and mesoamerican kings. While that gives a deflection it doesn't answer the original issue. (I don't have a link).

Edited by canard78
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http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon/Plagiarism_accusations/Benjamin_Paddock

 

I am not sure what is wrong with this answer:

 

The parallels between the two events are general, sometimes manufactured, and likely coincidental.

 

And then it goes on to demonstrate this.  There is no mention of Mesoamerica.

 

Perhaps it has been changed since you last looked at it?  I probably would have mentioned your criticism to the list plus IIRC we had someone ask a question about it so more work was done.

 

If you like it now, think of all the great work you can do for FairMormon by going around and critiquing our work.  Very helpful.   :)

 

I totally agree we need to say "we don't know" if we don't.  That some of the pages may be half done is the problem with the volunteer nature of the work and having people try to fit putting stuff up between other realities of life.  That is why we need people like you checking to see when more needs to be done.  When something is not really an issue for oneself, it can sometimes be harder to see what needs to be added.  That may be why the original answer took that form....the possible resemblance between KB and mesoamerican kings would be more interesting to most FM members than details about Paddock.

 

Add-on....I am wondering if you went to this page and didn't realize we had the other one above as well:

 

http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon/Evidences/Kingship_and_coronation_in_Book_of_Mormon

 

If this was what happened, do you think it is important enough to start trying to have "for further information on this part of the claim of _____, see here:_____" or would that clutter up the wiki too much and make it more confusing?

Edited by calmoriah
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So do you see the "content and degree of detail" in the accounts to be something that could cause a "reasonable and intelligent" person concern or not? Are you also saying that if someone sees a contradiction between the 1832 account and the 1838 account that they are neither reasonable nor intelligent? 

 

I'm a historian. That means that I'm immersed almost daily in the production and/or discussion of history in some way. I have a PhD in history. I've attended numberless history seminars. I've taught history at the secondary, undergraduate, and postgraduate levels. I currently work in an editorial position at an academic history journal attached to a research university.

 

I raise these points solely because it is my impression that most of those who worry about the multiple accounts of the First Vision aren't terribly familiar with the historical enterprise. In short, from a purely historical point of view, there is nothing shocking, troubling, or worrisome about these accounts. Genuine historical accounts of real events often differ more in 'content and degree of detail' than these accounts do -- a point no legitimate historian would contradict.

 

If one were to manufacture purely secular accounts of an event, making sure that the differences amongst them exactly paralleled the differences in the First Vision account, and then presented a seminar to historians on the 'troubling concerns' these differences raise, one would be laughed at in my school ... and labelled historiographically untrained.

 

The only difference that I can discern is that Joseph Smith's accounts deal with the supernatural and more specifically with the origins of 'Mormonism' and so come already emcumbered with controversy. And I'm fine with that. The truth claims of 'Mormonism' are indeed controversial. I can personally think of 1,001 reasons a 'reasonable and intelligent' person might not be inclined to believe them. Outside of overwhelming personal experience, I wouldn't be inclined to believe them.

 

But not because the First Vision accounts raise troubling historical issues. They don't. Depending on the person, they may raise other troubling issues, but to insist that those issues are somehow historical (and, I suspect, therefore more 'legitimate' and intelligent) in the end appears, to this historian, to be academically naive.

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http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon/Plagiarism_accusations/Benjamin_Paddock

I am not sure what is wrong with this answer:

And then it goes on to demonstrate this. There is no mention of Mesoamerica.

Perhaps it has been changed since you last looked at it? I probably would have mentioned your criticism to the list plus IIRC we had someone ask a question about it so more work was done.

If you like it now, think of all the great work you can do for FairMormon by going around and critiquing our work. Very helpful. :)

I totally agree we need to say "we don't know" if we don't. That some of the pages may be half done is the problem with the volunteer nature of the work and having people try to fit putting stuff up between other realities of life. That is why we need people like you checking to see when more needs to be done. When something is not really an issue for oneself, it can sometimes be harder to see what needs to be added. That may be why the original answer took that form....the possible resemblance between KB and mesoamerican kings would be more interesting to most FM members than details about Paddock.

Add-on....I am wondering if you went to this page and didn't realize we had the other one above as well:

http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon/Evidences/Kingship_and_coronation_in_Book_of_Mormon

If this was what happened, do you think it is important enough to start trying to have "for further information on this part of the claim of _____, see here:_____" or would that clutter up the wiki too much and make it more confusing?

Thanks Cal, I really appreciate you digging these things out. The first one is new to me and very well written. It has a balanced tone but also reaches reasonable conclusions. I also appreciate there absolutely no "ad hominem" at Palmer.

The second link looks similar to the page I originally found. At the time (I think???) it was the answer that linked from the index of Palmer claims. I think the first one you referenced is a much stronger answer to Palmer's claim.

And yes, I would be happy to review articles, though I'm a little concerned about being seen as a "nit picker."

As someone who still is trying to "doubt my doubts before I doubt my faith" I suppose I would be able to provide both constructive feedback.

There's a link to feedback at the top of the articles. Should I just use that if I see something?

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I'm a historian. That means that I'm immersed almost daily in the production and/or discussion of history in some way. I have a PhD in history. I've attended numberless history seminars. I've taught history at the secondary, undergraduate, and postgraduate levels. I currently work in an editorial position at an academic history journal attached to a research university.

I raise these points solely because it is my impression that most of those who worry about the multiple accounts of the First Vision aren't terribly familiar with the historical enterprise. In short, from a purely historical point of view, there is nothing shocking, troubling, or worrisome about these accounts. Genuine historical accounts of real events often differ more in 'content and degree of detail' than these accounts do -- a point no legitimate historian would contradict.

If one were to manufacture purely secular accounts of an event, making sure that the differences amongst them exactly paralleled the differences in the First Vision account, and then presented a seminar to historians on the 'troubling concerns' these differences raise, one would be laughed at in my school ... and labelled historiographically untrained.

The only difference that I can discern is that Joseph Smith's accounts deal with the supernatural and more specifically with the origins of 'Mormonism' and so come already emcumbered with controversy. And I'm fine with that. The truth claims of 'Mormonism' are indeed controversial. I can personally think of 1,001 reasons a 'reasonable and intelligent' person might not be inclined to believe them. Outside of overwhelming personal experience, I wouldn't be inclined to believe them.

But not because the First Vision accounts raise troubling historical issues. They don't. Depending on the person, they may raise other troubling issues, but to insist that those issues are somehow historical (and, I suspect, therefore more 'legitimate' and intelligent) in the end appears, to this historian, to be academically naive.

I accept that. I've been a historian and am currently a market researcher.

We have a tool where we get 150 to watch a TV ad and then describe what they've seen. It's amazing how different people play back the same 30 seconds of film.

So I'm not saying that the multiple versions are evidence it never happened. I'm just saying suggestions that the differences should be of no concern at all, especially when put in the context of other trends in Joseph's expressions and definitions of Deity, seem unreasonable.

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There's a link to feedback at the top of the articles. Should I just use that if I see something?

Yes, please. I'll try and remember to warn wiki that you are planning on helping identify weaknesses in case he doesnt see this.
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Yes, please. I'll try and remember to warn wiki that you are planning on helping identify weaknesses in case he doesnt see this.

 

OK. Like I said, I don't want to appear to be nit-picky. I'll try to do it in a constructive, non-aggressive way.

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OK. Like I said, I don't want to appear to be nit-picky. I'll try to do it in a constructive, non-aggressive way.

 

Actually we welcome the feedback and suggestions. I often find useful feedback on FairMormon materials on critical websites and use that to improve the Wiki.

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I will here reiterate my observation that what the Church seems to be doing here is formalizing under its own imprimatur some of the best apologetics arguments that have been advanced over the years.

 

 

1. I wonder if this will change the policy on the Institute program.  Several years ago I wanted to give a presentation to the students on current BOM geography theory. 

 

The Institute Director asked me if I were an "anti-antiMormon."  I gave him a puzzled look.

 

"We really appreciate what apologists have been doing, but we were instructed not to allow apologists to give a presentation to the students."

 

2. I also note that the Swedish church leader was having problems, and none of the apologetic materials were used to help him with his problems. 

Edited by cdowis
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1. I wonder if this will change the policy on the Institute program.  Several years ago I wanted to give a presentation to the students on current BOM geography theory. 

 

The Institute Director asked me if I were an "anti-antiMormon."  I gave him a puzzled look.

 

"We really appreciate what apologists have been doing, but we were instructed not to allow apologists to give a presentation to the students."

 

I suppose that, like most anyone else teaching in official Church fora, the CES people are highly anxious to present only material that has been reviewed by Correlation. Since the Church takes no stance on Book of Mormon geography, I can understand why the Institute director would not want to bring in someone to give a presentation on that subject.

 

Presumably, though, content that is on lds.org -- including that in the nature of apologetics -- has passed muster with Correlation.

 

2. I also note that the Swedish church leader was having problems, and none of the apologetic materials were used to help him with his problems.

 

I don't know about Mattsson himself, but in the bootlegged recording of the fireside I listened to online, some of those present at the fireside conducted by Elder Jensen and Rick Turley were highly dismissive of FAIR and FARMS material because it did not come officially from the Church.

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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I don't know about Mattsson himself, but in the bootlegged recording of the fireside I listened to online, some of those present at the fireside conducted by Elder Jensen and Rick Turley were highly dismissive of FAIR and FARMS material because it did not come officially from the Church.

 

OK, so lds.org will become an "official" apologetic site and give an official answer to all "difficult questions".  I notice that mormon newsroom was the resource to look at the DNA issue, so I am concerned that the major LDS web site may become caught up in credibility issues.  I think the newsroom is a safer choice.

 

But I'm nobody -- just an apologist.

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OK, so lds.org will become an "official" apologetic site and give an official answer to all "difficult questions".

 

I don't know that such an intent has been expressed. All I've really observed on this matter is what DBMormon has posted here.

 

I notice that mormon newsroom was the resource to look at the DNA issue, so I am concerned that the major LDS web site may become caught up in credibility issues.  I think the newsroom is a safer choice.

 

 

Different purposes. Newsroom exists as a convenient repository to which inquiring news media representatives may be directed for answers to frequently asked questions. And bear in mind that Newsroom is a component of lds.org

 

What this new initiative seems to be, on the other hand (and I have no insider knowledge on this), is a place for members or investigators to go to who are having faith issues.

 

 

But I'm nobody -- just an apologist.

 

Well, I'm nobody special, myself.

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      In a now-defunct thread, I pointed out that the only evidence for the accusation that anyone had ever tried to "hide" the 1832 First Vision account was the mere fact that it hadn't been published. I argued from this that there was an implicit assumption on the part of the accusers that non-publication was always intentional, and that "hiding" was the intention that drove it.
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