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I remember a comment made years ago by someone I knew and they said in the Church we hear two versions of Joseph Smith's intelligence, the first one being that he is super intelligent, spiritual, righteous, discerning, leadership qualities, we hear how good a man he was-emotional intelligence. The other version of his intelligence is how he couldn't have written the Book of Mormon, because he had limited education, didn't read much prior to the Book of Mormon and basically he wasn't smart enough to have written the book. So, the question was how do we reconcile the two, how can he be all these great qualities yet not be so smart enough to have written the Book of Mormon? Is it a matter of like on Seinfeld where someone can be smart enough to built a rocketship to send a man to the moon but yet they are lousy at parking?

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JS was a young man when he started with the translation of the BoM.  He needed to write 116 pages just so he can get the kinks out.  That was disposed of (or put in reserve) and he was able to complete the remainder of the record in a matter of a few months.

Edited by longview
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He was just a man.  Both versions are  exaggerations. Like all of us we have moments of brilliance and moments of sheer stupidity. Much of his learning seems to have taken place after the book of mormon was written. He certainly wasn't much of a leader before.  The earliest written revelation basically tells Joseph he is a sinner and doesn't seem very bright.  He did seem to learn quickly.

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56 minutes ago, Duncan said:

I remember a comment made years ago by someone I knew and they said in the Church we hear two versions of Joseph Smith's intelligence, the first one being that he is super intelligent, spiritual, righteous, discerning, leadership qualities, we hear how good a man he was-emotional intelligence. The other version of his intelligence is how he couldn't have written the Book of Mormon, because he had limited education, didn't read much prior to the Book of Mormon and basically he wasn't smart enough to have written the book. So, the question was how do we reconcile the two, how can he be all these great qualities yet not be so smart enough to have written the Book of Mormon?

I believe that Joseph Smith was very intelligent, capable of writing a book. The many grammatical errors in the first edition point to Joseph's lack of formal education. It's quite simple to reconcile the two.

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6 hours ago, Thinking said:

I believe that Joseph Smith was very intelligent, capable of writing a book. The many grammatical errors in the first edition point to Joseph's lack of formal education. It's quite simple to reconcile the two.

Exactly.  Education and intelligence are very different.

As Joseph said: "But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow; and he is within me, and comprehends more than all the world; and I will associate myself with him."

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8 hours ago, Duncan said:

I remember a comment made years ago by someone I knew and they said in the Church we hear two versions of Joseph Smith's intelligence, the first one being that he is super intelligent, spiritual, righteous, discerning, leadership qualities, we hear how good a man he was-emotional intelligence. The other version of his intelligence is how he couldn't have written the Book of Mormon, because he had limited education, didn't read much prior to the Book of Mormon and basically he wasn't smart enough to have written the book. So, the question was how do we reconcile the two, how can he be all these great qualities yet not be so smart enough to have written the Book of Mormon? Is it a matter of like on Seinfeld where someone can be smart enough to built a rocketship to send a man to the moon but yet they are lousy at parking?

I think God enabled him to do great things that people might attribute to a profusion of intelligence of any or all of the various types as we might categorize and measure them today. God seemed to give him both grace and intelligence; in either case both God and Joseph had to apply effort. Alma 32 shows how this can be done, and the principle applies to any area of endeavor.

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9 hours ago, Duncan said:

I remember a comment made years ago by someone I knew and they said in the Church we hear two versions of Joseph Smith's intelligence, the first one being that he is super intelligent, spiritual, righteous, discerning, leadership qualities, we hear how good a man he was-emotional intelligence.

This characterization refers to Joseph at what phase of his life?  What age range?

Moreover, I think this "two versions" issue is something of an exaggeration, and far more prevalent in critical writings (see, e.g., here).

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The other version of his intelligence is how he couldn't have written the Book of Mormon, because he had limited education, didn't read much prior to the Book of Mormon and basically he wasn't smart enough to have written the book.

This subject (the education and native intelligence of Joseph Smith) is usually associated with discussions pertaining to the origins of the Book of Mormon.  An omitted - but very important - element is the limited amount of time during which the Book of Mormon was produced.  That is to say, the Church's position is that Joseph Smith translated it by divine means in a fairly limited amount of time, between 7 April and 30 June 1829.  This is an 85-day period, not all of which was spent translating.  In the above article, Jack Welch estimates 65 days were spent translating, which works out to about 8 pages per day.  Ask any author and you will find that this is a very fast pace.

Moreover, consider these factors:

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Virtually all of the English text of the Book of Mormon was then translated between April 7 and the last week of June, less than sixty working days.

The dictation flowed smoothly. From the surviving portions of the Original Manuscript it appears that Joseph dictated about a dozen words at a time. Oliver would read those words back for verification, and then they would go on. Emma later added that after a meal or a night's rest, Joseph would begin, without prompting, where he had previously left off (The Saints' Herald 26 [Oct. 1, 1879]:290). No time was taken for research, internal cross-checking, or editorial rewriting.

Consequently, alternative explanations for the Book of Mormon necessarily require some assessment of Joseph Smith's education and native intelligence.  Many of these alternative explanations posit that Joseph was the original source for the text.  But given the length and complexity and nuance of the text, the only way such an explanation works is if Joseph is characterized as having a stunning amount of education and intelligence prior to and during the translation period (when Joseph was in his young 20s).

Hence, consider this statement by Emma Smith (regarding her husband's training/intellect during the translation period):

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Joseph Smith could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictate a book like the Book of Mormon. And, though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, and was present during the translation of the plates, and had cognizance of things as they transpired, it is marvelous to me, "a marvel and a wonder," as much so as to anyone else....

I did not attempt to handle the plates, other than I have told you, nor uncover them to look at them. I was satisfied that it was the work of God, and therefore did not feel it to be necessary to do so;... was not specially curious about them. I moved them from place to place on the table, as it was necessary in doing my work....

My belief is that the Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity—I have not the slightest doubt of it. I am satisfied that no man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when acting as his scribe, your father would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he could at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him. This was a usual thing for him to do. It would have been improbable that a learned man could do this; and, for one so ignorant and unlearned as he was, it was simply impossible...

Daniel Peterson also provides a good synopsis of what we know about Joseph Smith's education/intellect prior to and during the translation process:

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Such sophisticated and authentic usage of the Israelite exodus narrative strongly suggests that the author of 1 Nephi in particular, like the authors of the Book of Mormon in general, was someone thoroughly steeped in the Hebrew Bible. Of course, that description seems appropriate to Nephi, the privileged and well-educated son of a wealthy Hebrew father. But it doesn’t fit young Joseph Smith, who appears to have been anything but a systematic, regular student of the Bible. Even by the age of eighteen, according to his mother—that is, in roughly 1823, when he received the first visitation from Moroni—he “had never read the Bible through in his life.”18 Later in the 1820s, when the Book of Mormon was translated, his knowledge of the Bible does not appear to have been dramatically greater.19

In fact, the youthful Joseph does not appear to have been an avid reader at all. His mother recalls that “he seemed much less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of our children,” and there seems no reason to doubt her word.20 Very few volumes sat on the shelves of the local library, and the Smiths do not appear to have had access to that library in any case.21 Yet the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith somehow produced contains a great deal of information that is unlikely to have emerged out of his own experience.

For example, Joseph Smith never fought in a war. His military experience, such as it was, was limited almost entirely to the parades and drills of the Nauvoo Legion, with all the patriotic panoply of fife and drum that an early-nineteenth-century-American frontier militia could muster. However, in the Book of Mormon’s portrayal of the Gadianton robbers we find a detailed, realistic depiction of a prolonged guerrilla struggle—lacking any trace of romanticism, uniforms, glamour, or parades, but matching up remarkably well with the actual conduct of such unconventional conflict. Yet this portrayal was published well over a century before the great guerrilla warfare theorists of the twentieth century (such as Mao Tse Tung, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and Vo Nguyen Giap) put their pens to paper.22

The modern scientific disciplines of seismology and vulcanology also have something to contribute to this matter: Joseph Smith lived in an area that was, geologically speaking, very quiet. He never saw a volcano, never experienced an earthquake of any notable magnitude (if, indeed, he ever felt one at all). Yet the Book of Mormon’s portrayal of the great New World catastrophes that marked the crucifixion of Christ is remarkably realistic, down to the aftershocks, the choking vapors, and the lightning storms that arise when volcanic particles churn at high velocities in the cloud above an eruption. It seems very likely that 3 Nephi was written either by someone who was an eyewitness to a major volcanic and seismic event (which Joseph never was) or, alternatively, by someone who had read accounts of the Nephite destruction. A third possibility is that someone employed similar accounts from other sources in order to formulate a fictional though deceptively realistic tale. However, it seems extremely unlikely that Joseph Smith had done any vulcanological or seismological research.23

Similarly, the lengthy allegory of the olive tree given in Jacob 5 betrays a knowledge of olive cultivation considerably beyond what Joseph Smith, growing up in the cool, wet deciduous forests of the American Northeast, likely possessed. In fact, the allegory is remarkably consistent in detail with what we learn from ancient manuals on Mediterranean olive culture.24

See also these remarks (in an article written by Peterson, Matthew Roper, and William Hamblin):

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More to the point, the other author was temporarily assigned to duty at the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. If, upon his return to the U.S., he were to state, "I lived for six months in Ramat Eshkol," how many people would know the place to which he referred? Very few. On the other hand, if he were to say, "I lived six months in Jerusalem," everyone would understand. But Ramat Eshkol is a suburb of Jerusalem, several miles to the north, and technically not part of the city itself. Thus, to those familiar with the microgeography of Jerusalem and Israel, Ramat Eshkol would be a meaningful geographical designator. To those only vaguely familiar with Israel, however, Jerusalem would be much more meaningful. Therefore, since those ignorant of Jerusalem's microgeography significantly outnumber those who know it (especially in North America), he usually says that he lived in Jerusalem. Does this somehow make him a liar? Or, more drastically, are we to assume--paralleling the methods of the critics--that, because he says he lived in Jerusalem instead of Ramat Eshkol, he never lived in Israel at all, and, indeed, that he doesn't even exist?

All this may help us understand why Alma did not give a more precise location for the birth of Jesus. It is probably because he was talking to people some five centuries removed from any direct knowledge of the geography of Judea. Bethlehem is never mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and its exact location would almost certainly have been unknown to the average nonscholarly Nephite. Furthermore, copies of the scriptures are unlikely to have been widely distributed among ordinary people since, without the printing press, they would simply have been too expensive. A prophetic reference to a small unfamiliar village near Jerusalem would, therefore, likely have been meaningless to Alma's audience. Jerusalem, by contrast, was well known and frequently mentioned.

The "idiot-savant" paradox. Furthermore, to suggest that Joseph Smith knew the precise location of Jesus' baptism by John ("in Bethabara, beyond Jordan," 1 Nephi 10:9; cf. John 1:28), but hadn't a clue about the famous town of Christ's birth, is inconsistent. [4] It is highly improbable that the Book of Mormon's author or authors missed one of the most obvious facts about the most popular story in the Bible--something known to every child and to every singer of Christmas carols? [5] Do they intend to say that a clever fraud who could write a book displaying so wide an array of subtle and authentic Near Eastern and biblical cultural and literary traits as the Book of Mormon does was nonetheless so stupid as to claim, before a Bible-reading public, that Jesus was born in the city of Jerusalem? As one anti-Mormon author has pointed out, "every schoolboy and schoolgirl knows Christ was born in Bethlehem." [6] Exactly! It is virtually certain, therefore, that Alma 7:10 was as foreign to Joseph Smith's preconceptions as it is to those of anti-Mormon critics. He is hardly likely to have twisted the Christmas story in so obvious a way, to have raised so noticeable a red flag, if he were trying to perpetrate a deception.

However, the Book of Mormon's prophecy that Christ would be born "at Jerusalem which is the land of our fathers" fits remarkably well with what we now know to have been ancient usage. [7] 

Similarly, consider these remarks by William Hamblin:

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This is another manifestation of what I call the "Idiot Savant" theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon. Anti-Mormons typically hold that Joseph was an incompetent country bumpkin who was so illiterate regarding the Bible that he was unaware that Christ was born in Bethlehem, and yet at the same time he is supposed to be capable of forging a complex document exhibiting hundreds of intricate and significant parallels with the ancient Near East and Mesoamerica.  Critics of the Book of Mormon simply can't have it both ways.  They must be able to construct a consistent model which can explain all of the known data concerning the origin and text of the Book of Mormon. It is not sufficient simply to invent a haphazard collection of contradictory and inconsistent explanations for individual features of the text. As has been demonstrated in detail, the Book of Mormon is completely consistent internally in presenting a limited geography.44 Such a discontinuity between what the text of the Book of Mormon actually says and what Joseph personally may have believed about the geography and antiquities of the Book of Mormon is very illuminating. If Joseph Smith is the originator of, or a believer in, the Hemisphric Geography Model as the anti-Mormons claim, he could not consistently be the author of the Book of Mormon. 

None of this is intended to disparage the character or intelligence of Joseph Smith, but rather to illustrate the unlikeliness of him being the original source of the text of the Book of Mormon.

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So, the question was how do we reconcile the two, how can he be all these great qualities yet not be so smart enough to have written the Book of Mormon? 

The Church does not believe that Joseph wrote the Book of Mormon, and rather posits that he translated it "by the gift and power of God."

Based on things like foregoing remarks by his mother and Emma, Joseph Smith seems to have changed between his youth/adolescence/young adulthood (the phases of his life preceding and contemporaneous with his experience in translating the Book of Mormon) and his later adult life (when he was the beneficiary of years of study and further education).  

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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9 hours ago, Duncan said:

I remember a comment made years ago by someone I knew and they said in the Church we hear two versions of Joseph Smith's intelligence, the first one being that he is super intelligent, spiritual, righteous, discerning, leadership qualities, we hear how good a man he was-emotional intelligence. The other version of his intelligence is how he couldn't have written the Book of Mormon, because he had limited education, didn't read much prior to the Book of Mormon and basically he wasn't smart enough to have written the book. So, the question was how do we reconcile the two, how can he be all these great qualities yet not be so smart enough to have written the Book of Mormon? Is it a matter of like on Seinfeld where someone can be smart enough to built a rocketship to send a man to the moon but yet they are lousy at parking?

It's seems to be an argument for Joseph Smith being an inspired great leader but not smart enough to fake being an inspired great leader.

 

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9 hours ago, Duncan said:

I remember a comment made years ago by someone I knew and they said in the Church we hear two versions of Joseph Smith's intelligence, the first one being that he is super intelligent, spiritual, righteous, discerning, leadership qualities, we hear how good a man he was-emotional intelligence. The other version of his intelligence is how he couldn't have written the Book of Mormon, because he had limited education, didn't read much prior to the Book of Mormon and basically he wasn't smart enough to have written the book. So, the question was how do we reconcile the two, how can he be all these great qualities yet not be so smart enough to have written the Book of Mormon?

I don't know that I would characterize Joseph Smith as being super intelligent. However, the revelations he received from God over the years gave him an insight into religious matters that seem to be well beyond his education.

But, to be honest, I think that's just how the gospel works. It's like having access to this larger, more detailed framework of understanding which makes so many things tie together in ways that you wouldn't notice easily without the framework, but which are completely obvious once you have been exposed to it.

Whenever I go to bible study with my Baptist friends I'm always the "smartest" guy in the room, but really all I'm doing is sharing the simple (but to them, unknown / not yet discovered) plan of the gospel. 

I think of Joseph Smith in much the same way. He may not have had a genius level IQ, but he had more knowledge and understanding than you would expect someone with his background and education to possess.

 

 

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3 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

.........................................

As Joseph said: "But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow; and he is within me, and comprehends more than all the world; and I will associate myself with him."

Yes, the Holy Spirit may have been Joseph's Ace-in-the-hole.  Which reminds me that the internet makes geniuses of us all, if we use it effectively.

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46 minutes ago, Amulek said:

He may not have had a genius level IQ, but he had more knowledge and understanding than you would expect someone with his background and education to possess.

Mosiah 8:16   And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God.                                                                      17     But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.

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First of all, education and intelligence are not the same thing. Most of us have probably had some experience with that idea when we think about it a bit. That said, it would appear that Joseph was probably of average education for someone of his age and time. This was before the prevalence of "free and appropriate education" and western New York at the time was pretty much the frontier. Like others of that time, he apparently learned to read and write at home with the Bible being the principal text. He could also apparently do basic math. His parents and siblings also appear to have been of average education for the time and place and could also read and write. 

I personally believe Joseph was a genius. Again, that has nothing to do with his level of education. I think it unlikely he could have made up the Book of Mormon but he still could have had a superior intellect and I think that is demonstrated by the many other things he accomplished.

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Yes, the Holy Spirit may have been Joseph's Ace-in-the-hole.  Which reminds me that the internet makes geniuses of us all, if we use it effectively.

I think the Internet has made more idiots than geniuses. Access to knowledge is not the primary contributor to being a genius.

Joseph Smith was ignorant when he was young and corrected this as he got older. He was smart but the Holy Ghost by its very nature makes people smarter.

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28 minutes ago, Boanerges said:

First of all, education and intelligence are not the same thing.

I quite agree.  I think both are raised relative to Joseph Smith, however, because both would be needed in order for many naturalistic, Joseph-wrote-it counter-explanations for the text of the Book of Mormon.  An uneducated-but-intelligent person couldn't have done it.  And an educationally-credentialled-but-not-particularly-intelligent person cound't have done it, either.

28 minutes ago, Boanerges said:

Most of us have probably had some experience with that idea when we think about it a bit. That said, it would appear that Joseph was probably of average education for someone of his age and time.

Yep.  But even a well-educated person in that era/milieu would have a difficult or impossible time writing the Book of Mormon.  

28 minutes ago, Boanerges said:

This was before the prevalence of "free and appropriate education" and western New York at the time was pretty much the frontier. Like others of that time, he apparently learned to read and write at home with the Bible being the principal text. He could also apparently do basic math. His parents and siblings also appear to have been of average education for the time and place and could also read and write. 

I personally believe Joseph was a genius.

I think he became very intelligent over time, both because he studied and worked to improve himself, and also because God gave him further light and knowledge.  As noted here:

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We do not know the precise nature of a number of other visits to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Some messengers may have given keys, while others taught him doctrine or gave him counsel. These personages include Seth, Isaac, Jacob, and the Jewish and Nephite Apostles. [20] In addition, Joseph saw other angels in vision, some of whom are identified in recorded revelations such as Doctrine and Covenants 107:53; 128:19–21. [21] These verses list Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Moroni, Jesus Christ, Michael, Peter, James, John, God the Father, Gabriel, Raphael, and “divers” others. George Q. Cannon added, “Moroni, who held the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim, visited Joseph; he had doubtless, also, visits from Nephi and it may be from Alma and others, but though they came and had authority, holding the authority of the Priesthood, we have no account of their ordaining him.” [22] President John Taylor testified that “when Joseph Smith was raised up as a prophet of God, Mormon, Moroni, Nephi and others of the ancient Prophets who formerly lived on this Continent, and Peter and John and others who lived on the Asiatic Continent, came to him and communicated to him certain principles pertaining to the Gospel of the Son of God. Why? Because they held the keys of the various dispensations, and conferred them upon him, and he upon us.” [23]

President Taylor also taught that Joseph “understood things that were past, and comprehended the various dispensations and the designs of those dispensations. He not only had the principles developed, but he was conversant with the parties who officiated as the leading men of those dispensations, and from a number of them he received authority and keys and priesthood and power for the carrying out of the great purposes of the Lord in the last days, who were sent and commissioned specially by the Almighty to confer upon him those keys and this authority.” [24] (See the charts at the end of this article for a listing of messengers and other personalities who appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith or whom he saw in vision.)

I have long appreciated the Church's emphasis on learning.

28 minutes ago, Boanerges said:

Again, that has nothing to do with his level of education. I think it unlikely he could have made up the Book of Mormon but he still could have had a superior intellect and I think that is demonstrated by the many other things he accomplished.

Whether his intellect was innately "superior" or became so through his efforts and through divine instruction, we still end up at the same place: Joseph Smith was a pretty sharp guy.

Thanks,

-Smac

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5 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

Exactly.  Education and intelligence are very different.

As Joseph said: "But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow; and he is within me, and comprehends more than all the world; and I will associate myself with him."

That raises the question of what knowledge Joseph actually revealed?

Obviously, there's tons of religious stuff that might be true, but it might not be.  But for all the comprehension given him by the Holy Ghost, did he ever teach a single thing about the world that was new and would now be considered reliable enough to be taught in, say, a regular university biology, physics or history class?

 

I mean, imagine if I told you that I had a developed a computer program that had access to an source of information that was omniscient and had all the wisdom and knowledge of the universe.  You might wonder what new and interesting knowledge this program had revealed.

If I told you it revealed that there were a race of people living on Saturn ten million years ago but they disappeared without a trace, you might find that interesting, but you might also wonder if I could share a cure for cancer while I'm at it.

Edited by cinepro
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8 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

No person, even if a genius, could have done so.  The contents of the book itself belie any attempt to explain it by natural means, even if we cast about for a genius in the 16th century (and there are several brilliant candidates).  Had the BofM been no more than a clever piece of fiction, it would be impossible to find manifold real world connections in the ancient New World -- which we find in profusion.  And that is only one aspect of the overall problem of explaining away the BofM.

Just because no person (or no other person) has done something doesn't mean no person could do something.

And I'm not sure why you think the contents of the book "belie any attempt to explain it by natural means."  There have been tons of different theories presented over the years; I'm shocked you haven't heard of them.  Not only have there been numerous attempts to explain it by natural means, even if there were no attempts to explain it otherwise, that does not lend credence to any supernatural theories.

And of course, this ignores the fact that the contents of the book also "belie" any success at explaining the contents of the book by supernatural means too.  The supernatural theories leave just as many gaps and questions as the natural ones do.  Heck, even the most simple question of "tight" or "loose" translation can't be answered; both are contradicted by the "contents of the book."

As for "manifold real word connections in the ancient New World", I would argue that any book of sufficient length made with the style and setting of the Book of Mormon could reveal tons of connections to an ancient setting, with the number of connections only limited by the education, creativity and perseverance of those who were dedicated to finding those connections.  Book of Mormon studies would fit comfortably with UFO research, Bigfoot taxonomy, and ghost hunting.  All real, valid endeavors pursued by smart, dedicated people that have produced mountains of "evidences."  I can't "explain away" all of their evidence, and I don't necessarily have fully formed counter-theories at the ready, but yet I don't feel logically compelled to believe in UFOs, bigfoot or ghosts.  I just accept that their evidences haven't met the burden of proof yet, and withhold belief until that day comes.

Edited by cinepro
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12 hours ago, Duncan said:

I remember a comment made years ago by someone I knew and they said in the Church we hear two versions of Joseph Smith's intelligence, the first one being that he is super intelligent, spiritual, righteous, discerning, leadership qualities, we hear how good a man he was-emotional intelligence. The other version of his intelligence is how he couldn't have written the Book of Mormon, because he had limited education, didn't read much prior to the Book of Mormon and basically he wasn't smart enough to have written the book. So, the question was how do we reconcile the two, how can he be all these great qualities yet not be so smart enough to have written the Book of Mormon? Is it a matter of like on Seinfeld where someone can be smart enough to built a rocketship to send a man to the moon but yet they are lousy at parking?

The Book of Mormon was written in a language unknown to the modern inhabitants of the world at the time Joseph found it, after he was directed to where to go to find it.  People saying he wasn't smart enough to write that book are basically saying he wasn't smart enough to translate a language that he did not know or understand or get anyone, other than God, to translate for him.

 

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5 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

Exactly.  Education and intelligence are very different.

Yet time and again, apologists and even general authorities point to Joseph's lack of education as evidence that he could not have written the book - as if lack of education equals lack of intelligence.

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1 hour ago, cinepro said:

And I'm not sure why you think the contents of the book "belie any attempt to explain it by natural means."  There have been tons of different theories presented over the years; I'm shocked you haven't heard of them.  Not only have there been numerous attempts to explain it by natural means, even if there were no attempts to explain it otherwise, that does not lend credence to any supernatural theories.

I think you may have misunderstood the use of "belie" in this context. I took it to mean that strictly naturalistic explanations are contradicted by or don't give a true or accurate accounting of the book's contents. You seem to have taken it to mean that Robert had never heard of naturalistic explanations. Which, we should all know, would render his statement as absurd, seeing that he has written about and discussed such theories since ... well, since before I was born. 

1 hour ago, cinepro said:

And of course, this ignores the fact that the contents of the book also "belie" any success at explaining the contents of the book by supernatural means too.  The supernatural theories leave just as many gaps and questions as the natural ones do.  Heck, even the most simple question of "tight" or "loose" translation can't be answered; both are contradicted by the "contents of the book."

It should be noted that supernatural theories can accommodate a mixture of natural and supernatural explanations in a way that strictly naturalistic theories can't. God can use or allow naturalistic elements or components to be a part of his miraculous endeavors, but naturalism doesn't allow God into the equation at all.

(Note: I'm using "natural" and "supernatural" here in a general sense. More technically speaking, Latter-day Saints typically see all things as being bound by eternal (i.e. natural) laws that at thei core seem to be independent of God himself.)  

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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5 minutes ago, Thinking said:

Yet time and again, apologists and even general authorities point to Joseph's lack of education as evidence that he could not have written the book - as if lack of education equals lack of intelligence.

I think that is unfair. I would say Joseph was only semiliterate at best when the book was created. His other written works are nothing like the book. I can accept someone uneducated writing a novel but if he cannot write a coherent letter I am going to doubt he wrote the novel unless the novel is really REALLY bad.

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13 hours ago, Duncan said:

I remember a comment made years ago by someone I knew and they said in the Church we hear two versions of Joseph Smith's intelligence, the first one being that he is super intelligent, spiritual, righteous, discerning, leadership qualities, we hear how good a man he was-emotional intelligence. The other version of his intelligence is how he couldn't have written the Book of Mormon, because he had limited education, didn't read much prior to the Book of Mormon and basically he wasn't smart enough to have written the book. So, the question was how do we reconcile the two, how can he be all these great qualities yet not be so smart enough to have written the Book of Mormon? Is it a matter of like on Seinfeld where someone can be smart enough to built a rocketship to send a man to the moon but yet they are lousy at parking?

I don't think 'the church' suggests he wasn't intelligent, just not formally educated.  In fact, I'd say that his track record shows he was clearly intelligent and when given the opportunity to learn, he did extremely well.  I think critics are the one's who have thrown both suggestions out--Joseph was so smart and wily he fooled everyone with his 'golden bible' or Joseph was lazy, ignorant, the whole family were hucksters and wastrels (this was the way he was portrayed in the first anti mormon book by Eber Howe).

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I believe Joseph had help from Oliver Cowdery, because of the below. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Cowdery

See also: View of the Hebrews

For several years, Cowdery and his family attended the Congregational Church in Poultney, Vermont, when its minister was the Rev. Ethan Smith, author of View of the Hebrews, an 1823 book suggesting that Native Americans were of Hebrew origin, a not uncommon speculation during the colonial and early national periods.[45][46] In 2000, David Persuitte argued that Cowdery's knowledge of View of the Hebrews significantly contributed to the final version of the Book of Mormon,[47] a connection first suggested as early as 1902.[48] Fawn Brodie wrote that it "may never be proved that Joseph saw View of the Hebrews before writing the Book of Mormon, but the striking parallelisms between the two books hardly leave a case for mere coincidence."[49] Richard Bushman and John W. Welch reject the connection and argue that there is little relationship between the contents of the two books.[50]

Footnotes

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19 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I believe Joseph had help from Oliver Cowdery, because of the below. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Cowdery

See also: View of the Hebrews

For several years, Cowdery and his family attended the Congregational Church in Poultney, Vermont, when its minister was the Rev. Ethan Smith, author of View of the Hebrews, an 1823 book suggesting that Native Americans were of Hebrew origin, a not uncommon speculation during the colonial and early national periods.[45][46] In 2000, David Persuitte argued that Cowdery's knowledge of View of the Hebrews significantly contributed to the final version of the Book of Mormon,[47] a connection first suggested as early as 1902.[48] Fawn Brodie wrote that it "may never be proved that Joseph saw View of the Hebrews before writing the Book of Mormon, but the striking parallelisms between the two books hardly leave a case for mere coincidence."[49] Richard Bushman and John W. Welch reject the connection and argue that there is little relationship between the contents of the two books.[50]

Footnotes

What motivation would Oliver Cowdery have to take part in such a fraud to build up Joseph Smith as a prophet and Seer?

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