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On 6/15/2020 at 12:09 PM, smac97 said:

I think the same must be said for The Book of Mormon. The "fake but accurate," "I can reject what The Book of Mormon claims to be and what Joseph Smith represented it to be, but still accept it as scripture" type of reasoning is, in my view, a fundamentally flawed line of reasoning. Elder Oaks aptly described it as "not only reject(ing) the concepts of faith and revelation that The Book of Mormon explains and advocates, but it is also not even good scholarship."

While I agree that viewing the Book of Mormon as pseudepigrapha has deep implications for other parts of our assessment of Church history and beliefs, I protest against your conclusion that maintaining a view of it as scripture although pseudepigraphical necessarily rests on "fundamentally flawed reason." Such a conclusion depends on a very Christian view of scripture as the revealed word of God. However, in the Judaic tradition of scripture, it might be better viewed as a "wrestle with God" — a long, drawn-out argument with the Divine, with other scriptures, with traditions and culture, and with ourselves. In such a tradition, scripture is not necessarily purely inspired, but may contain much inspiration when humanity, reaching for the Divine, sometimes touches it. Because of this, no scripture is totally exempt from argument against it. The Book of Mormon vigorously engages with previous scriptures, with the traditions and issues of Joseph Smith's day, and with God, attempting to settle disputes and positing arguments of its own. Thus, the Book of Mormon can be easily seen as fitting into this scriptural tradition. Personally, I think this allows us to engage with it much more productively, and to more effectively grapple with issues such as racism in the Book of Mormon.

That being said, such a view of the Book of Mormon does raise questions with regard to Joseph Smith's claims and character, as well as some of the foundational events in the church's history, and it requires one to separate the church and the Book of Mormon to an extent.

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2 hours ago, Tishbite said:

While I agree that viewing the Book of Mormon as pseudepigrapha has deep implications for other parts of our assessment of Church history and beliefs, I protest against your conclusion that maintaining a view of it as scripture although pseudepigraphical necessarily rests on "fundamentally flawed reason." Such a conclusion depends on a very Christian view of scripture as the revealed word of God.

Not really.  The fundamental flaw with the "Inspired Fiction" theory arises by contrasting it with the narrative from Joseph Smith and the Witnesses.  It doesn't take "a very Christian view of scripture" to see that Joseph and the Witnesses spoke of actual, physical, authentically-ancient plates, actual theophanies, etc., whereas the "Inspired Fiction" theory posits that there were no plates.  Or if there were plates, that they were fabricated and fraudulently presented as ancient.  The "Inspired Fiction" theory requires Joseph Smith to be deluded or a liar, and the Witnesses to be collectively deluded, collectively liars, or collectively dupes (or perhaps some combination of these).

The "Inspired Fiction" requires acceptance of an explanation about the origins of the Book of Mormon that is almost entirely alternative to the explanation given by Joseph Smith, corroborated by the Witnesses, and espoused by the Church.  It's pretty much a dilemma.  The individual has to choose one, or the other.  Not because of "a very Christian view of scripture," but because the facts and the evidence and the narrative create such a fork in the road.

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However, in the Judaic tradition of scripture, it might be better viewed as a "wrestle with God" — a long, drawn-out argument with the Divine, with other scriptures, with traditions and culture, and with ourselves. In such a tradition, scripture is not necessarily purely inspired, but may contain much inspiration when humanity, reaching for the Divine, sometimes touches it. 

I understand this.  But in terms of inspiration, that's a difference of degree, not kind.  I quite agree that the scriptures need not be "purely inspired."  Hence, we have exegetical interpretations of The Book of Mormon like this:

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What Does it Mean to be a White and Delightsome People?
...
In his prophecies of the last days, Nephi remarked that the Book of Mormon would be carried “forth unto the remnant of [his] seed." Upon receiving the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ, the remnant of Nephi's seed would “rejoice,” for then “they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and a delightsome people.”

The Prophet Joseph Smith made an important textual emendation to this passage in the 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon, where the phrase “a white and a delightsome people” was changed to “a pure and a delightsome people.” According to Royal Skousen, “The 1840 change of white to pure seems to be a conscious one and was probably made by Joseph Smith as part of his editing of the 1840 edition. The change does not appear to be an accidental error based on any visual or phonetic resemblance between the two words.”

The original reading of “white and delightsome” was retained in the LDS textual tradition until the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon, where it substituted “white” with the “pure” for the 1840 edition. The reading of “pure” has been retained in the 2013 LDS edition of the text.

This textual discrepancy understandably raises concerns for many readers. How could the Book of Mormon be inspired if it supposedly has what many assume to be “racist” teachings—in this case that having white skin is somehow a sign of divine favor? To answer this question—or to even see if this is the right question to ask—we need to first try to understand the Nephite concept of “race” (assuming they even conceived of “race” similarly to how we do today) and then reflect on what we might learn from it to improve our own ethical and spiritual sensitivities.

First, it is critical to underscore the fact that modern sociologists, historians, and cultural anthropologists are coming to see “race” as being largely, if not solely, a social construct and not a biological feature. ...
...
Brant A. Gardner remarked that “the Book of Mormon is, in fact, racist,” but quickly added that it is “not at all ['racist'] in the usual sense of the term.” Rather than being a form of modern racism that bases antipathy on a difference of skin color, Gardner reads Nephite “racism” as an ethnocentrism “along the insider/outsider boundary, not the white/dark boundary.”  Gardner concluded that “the ‘skin of blackness’ was certainly intended to be a pejorative term, but it was not a physical description.”

Ethnocentrism in the textual narrative is likely an artifact of human, not divine, origin.  I'm okay with that.  We've never subscribed to an inerrant view of scripture.  Thus the scriptures need not be 100% god-breathed.  There can be some errors.  I can accommodate the presence of those errors, as they do not alter the narrative presented by Joseph Smith, the Witnesses, the Church, etc.  The errors require us to jettison an "inspired and inerrant" approach in favor of an "inspired but not pristinely and absolutely perfect" approach.  So I can readily accommodate these sorts of "flaws" in scripture, because they do not negate the divine origins of The Book of Mormon.  Again, this is a difference of degree, not kind.

The "Inspired Fiction" theory, however, necessarily goes the other way.  In terms of explaining the origins of The Book of Mormon, it posits a difference of kind, not just degree.  I must choose to believe the advocates of the "Inspired Fiction" theory, or else I can choose to believe Joseph Smith and his successors, the Witnesses, the Church, and so on.  It's one or the other.

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Because of this, no scripture is totally exempt from argument against it. The Book of Mormon vigorously engages with previous scriptures, with the traditions and issues of Joseph Smith's day, and with God, attempting to settle disputes and positing arguments of its own.

I agree.

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Thus, the Book of Mormon can be easily seen as fitting into this scriptural tradition.

Again, I agree.

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Personally, I think this allows us to engage with it much more productively, and to more effectively grapple with issues such as racism in the Book of Mormon.

I'm okay with that.

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That being said, such a view of the Book of Mormon does raise questions with regard to Joseph Smith's claims and character, as well as some of the foundational events in the church's history, and it requires one to separate the church and the Book of Mormon to an extent.

The "Inspired Fiction" creates quite a dilemma, which you are quite correct in characterizing as centering on "Joseph Smith's claims and character."  However, you have left out the statement of the Three Witnesses.  And the Eight Witnesses.  And what the text itself has to say about its origins.  So it's not just about Joseph's claims and character.  There's a lot more evidence in view which also needs to be addressed.  In my experience, the "Inspired Fiction" advocates never seem to get around to doing that.  Because assessing the evidence brings the ramifications of the theory to the surface.  And those ramifications are huge.

The "Inspired Fiction" advocates requires its adherents to reject what Joseph Smith said, and/or to materially impugn his character and/or mental competency.  And it requires categorical rejection of the statement of the Three Witnesses, who were either liars, deluded, or dupes, or some combination thereof.  Same with the Eight Witnesses.  And it also requires us to reject what The Book of Mormon says about itself.  And it also requires us to reject what the prophets and apostles from 1830 to now have said about it.

Again, the ramifications of the "Inspired Fiction" theory are huge.  Its advocates either haven't realized that, or they have and just don't want to to discuss it because, I think, such a discussion would lay bare and make obvious the damage this theory does to an enduring and efficacious testimony of the Restored Gospel.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

The "Inspired Fiction" theory, however, necessarily goes the other way.  In terms of explaining the origins of The Book of Mormon, it posits a difference of kind, not just degree.  I must choose to believe the advocates of the "Inspired Fiction" theory, or else I can choose to believe Joseph Smith and his successors, the Witnesses, the Church, and so on.

 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

In my experience, the "Inspired Fiction" advocates never seem to get around to doing that.  Because assessing the evidence brings the ramifications of the theory to the surface.  And those ramifications are huge.

The "Inspired Fiction" advocates requires its adherents to reject what Joseph Smith said, and/or to materially impugn his character and/or mental competency.  And it requires categorical rejection of the statement of the Three Witnesses, who were either liars, deluded, or dupes, or some combination thereof.  Same with the Eight Witnesses.  And it also requires us to reject what The Book of Mormon says about itself.  And it also requires us to reject what the prophets and apostles from 1830 to now have said about it.

Again, the ramifications of the "Inspired Fiction" theory are hugeIts advocates either haven't realized that, or they have and just don't want to to discuss it because, I think, such a discussion would lay bare and make obvious the damage this theory does to an enduring and efficacious testimony of the Restored Gospel.

Who are these "advocates"? You talk about this like there's some fifth column in the Church that is pushing this idea. I can only think of one person (the originator of this thread) that actually promotes the view that the Book of Mormon is inspired fiction. How many others publicly recommend it? Maybe I'm out of the loop, but I can't think of anyone. Greg Prince, maybe? Anthony Hutchinson wrote a single article on the subject 27 years ago but he's been out of the Church for decades, hasn't he? I haven't heard a word from him since Bill Clinton was president. What are the main publications that lay out "the theory"?

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4 hours ago, Nevo said:

 

Who are these "advocates"? You talk about this like there's some fifth column in the Church that is pushing this idea. I can only think of one person (the originator of this thread) that actually promotes the view that the Book of Mormon is inspired fiction. How many others publicly recommend it? Maybe I'm out of the loop, but I can't think of anyone. Greg Prince, maybe? Anthony Hutchinson wrote a single article on the subject 27 years ago but he's been out of the Church for decades, hasn't he? I haven't heard a word from him since Bill Clinton was president. What are the main publications that lay out "the theory"?

Precisely what I was thinking as well- thanks for voicing it so clearly.  There is no understanding of nuance here, and he develops a strawman false dichotomy devoid of any understanding of hermeneutics.  It's either "fiction" or literally true or false.  Literature of any kind is symbolic, using 26 little squiggles, in English,  to express all that we can communicate as humans and cannot "represent reality" as it is, and yet we supposedly have to choose between "fiction" or absolute "truth"

It's just very simplistic thinking.

And like you, I struggle to find others who are that simplistic representing the "fiction" side of the equation.

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14 hours ago, Nevo said:

 

Who are these "advocates"? You talk about this like there's some fifth column in the Church that is pushing this idea. I can only think of one person (the originator of this thread) that actually promotes the view that the Book of Mormon is inspired fiction. How many others publicly recommend it? Maybe I'm out of the loop, but I can't think of anyone. Greg Prince, maybe? Anthony Hutchinson wrote a single article on the subject 27 years ago but he's been out of the Church for decades, hasn't he? I haven't heard a word from him since Bill Clinton was president. What are the main publications that lay out "the theory"?

I'd just like to note I don't advocate for the inspired 19th century view. I advocate for seeing at as scripture to the people who already view it as a 19th century work. And I advocate to my fellow apologists to be more tolerant of this view.

 

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14 hours ago, Nevo said:

Who are these "advocates"? You talk about this like there's some fifth column in the Church that is pushing this idea. I can only think of one person (the originator of this thread) that actually promotes the view that the Book of Mormon is inspired fiction. How many others publicly recommend it? Maybe I'm out of the loop, but I can't think of anyone. Greg Prince, maybe? Anthony Hutchinson wrote a single article on the subject 27 years ago but he's been out of the Church for decades, hasn't he? I haven't heard a word from him since Bill Clinton was president. What are the main publications that lay out "the theory"?

 

9 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Precisely what I was thinking as well- thanks for voicing it so clearly. 

I think it may be a mistake to try to gauge the influence or support for the Inspired Fiction theory simply by the amount of published material advocating for it. Churchistrue is hardly alone in his views. This article gives a fairly up-to-date response and names several other individuals besides Hutchinson who are promulgating variations of the theory:

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/et-incarnatus-est-the-imperative-for-book-of-mormon-historicity/

 

 

 

 

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21 hours ago, Calm said:

 From the personal stories of FM members I have heard and read over almost 20 years while many have done that, a number became apologists not because of personal faith crises,  but because they saw others’ experiences with such and wanted to help them.  

Yep, that's how I got started.  While googling I saw someone who was wrong on the internet and immediately I felt the urge to correct their misunderstanding. And then it happened again, and then again, and before I realized it, I was hooked.

Helping to clear up misunderstandings is just something I do now, but I can stop when and if I want to.  I've stopped a few times just to test and make sure I can stop when and if I want to.  I like helping this way, though, so I would rather do it than stop doing it.

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1 hour ago, Ryan Dahle said:

 

I think it may be a mistake to try to gauge the influence or support for the Inspired Fiction theory simply by the amount of published material advocating for it. Churchistrue is hardly alone in his views. This article gives a fairly up-to-date response and names several other individuals besides Hutchinson who are promulgating variations of the theory:

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/et-incarnatus-est-the-imperative-for-book-of-mormon-historicity/

Thank you for your response. It's good to speak with you again.

Yes I read that article when it came out and in my opinion it is just the same things that we have been discussing on this thread.  Nothing new, no arguments at all, really, just assertions about what "must" follow from dubious assumptions, when of course dubious assumptions lead to dubious answers, and repeating the same dubious answers over and over does not help anyone.

My answer will be brief since I've already said so much here already.

I find this very frustrating because I perceive the problem to be one of logic and nothing else. But I will get to that a little later.

I think using the word "fiction" is a major mistake which in my opinion immediately makes this Theory absurd.

The word "fiction" means that the story is totally made up, and not ever intended to be about what is or was the case.

You go to a movie like Star Wars and everyone knows it's fiction.

Sometimes books or films will be " based on real events", or words to that effect.

Sometimes you will see the words " true story" on the cover of a book.

Obviously we all know that these distinctions exist.

All of us know the difference between what fiction is and is not or those labels would not be at all useful to anyone.

As I alluded to earlier I think there is virtually no one in the LDS community who actually believes that The Book of Mormon is fiction, a completely made up story, which Joseph never intended to be true, relating events he knew he made up.

 That is the difference between Star Wars and the Book of Mormon.

Inspired or not there's a difference between fiction and nonfiction. Ask any librarian.

Where does the bible appear in a fiction or nonfiction section?

Yet in this discussion it seems that no one seems to know it "fiction" means.  The very use of the words "inspired fiction" is actually the problem itself.

It is a CAUSE of controversy around a problem in semantics. 

But there is another problem exemplified by the Smoot article linked above.

He says

"Without the historicity of the Book of Mormon, both its contents and the manner of its coming forth, Joseph Smith has no genuine prophetic qualification."

That statement is simply logically absurd.

Let's get it in our time machine and go back to the time of Isaiah. We pick up a scroll fresh from Isaiah's writing table.

It is scripture that is not historic. He wrote it last night.

No history except the last 24 hours sitting on his writing table

So that shows that Isaiah has "no genuine prophetic qualification "?

Hopefully that should make the difference between historicity and prophetic qualification clear.

Also, it came from psychological processes within Isaiah's being. If there were "triggers" or catalysts we have no idea.

Do those facts automatically make the writing non scriptural?

Do those two facts automatically make the writing "fiction"?

Did Isaiah drink any wine yesterday?

If he did, would that automatically disqualify what he wrote as not scriptural?  We know nothing about Isaiah's personal life nor do we even know that Isaiah was the author of sections of what became the book of "Isaiah"

I have recently noticed that church authorities are now often referring to the "author of Hebrews" and quotes from that book since of course the authorship is debatable.

And then we have folks like Smoot saying things like if the book is not historical then we "must"not believe it.

I will decide what I find believable and what I do not find believable, thank you very much. But I certainly do not find his article believable.

The church shrinks daily around issues like this one and sooner or later we will have to come to grips with the problems we have with historicity, or there will be no one left to even care.

Sooner or later we will have to deal with the simple fact that all we have in the Book of Mormon and all Latter-Day scripture came out of the psychological /spiritual processes within Joseph mind.

And yet I can see the witnesses.

Nobody seems to understand that all we have is what came out of their psychological processes and testimonies.  All we have for our personal testimonies is what comes out of our psychological /spiritual processes.

There is no "real" tangible objective evidence for any of it, except perhaps a hat or a stone, and we need to deal with that fact, or the church itself will become a footnote in history. 

The only reason I am even here is because of my psychological processes and receiving a testimony, I thank God that I am not alone.

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5 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

This article gives a fairly up-to-date response and names several other individuals besides Hutchinson who are promulgating variations of the theory:

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/et-incarnatus-est-the-imperative-for-book-of-mormon-historicity/

So the main promulgators of the "Inspired Fiction Theory" (a term coined by Stephen Smoot for this article) are Anthony Hutchinson, Robert M. Price,  Scott Dunn, and Ann Taves? That is even worse than I thought.

Hutchinson ("perhaps the chief architect of the IFT") hasn't said a word about it since 1993. Dunn wrote his essay on automatic writing in 1985. Price and Taves have never been members of the Church and Price doesn't even believe in God. Needless to say, neither personally believes that the Book of Mormon is divinely inspired scripture.

Edited by Nevo
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30 minutes ago, Nevo said:

So the main promulgators of the "Inspired Fiction Theory" (a term coined by Stephen Smoot for this article) are Anthony Hutchinson, Robert M. Price,  Scott Dunn, and Ann Taves? That is even worse than I thought.

Hutchinson ("perhaps the chief architect of the IFT") hasn't said a word about it since 1993. Dunn wrote his essay on automatic writing in 1985. Price and Taves have never been members of the Church and Price doesn't even believe in God. Needless to say, neither personally believes that the Book of Mormon is divinely inspired scripture.

I think it's more accurate to say the promulgators of the "Inspired Fiction 19th Century" view are not promulgating at all, but are sitting quietly through Sunday meetings hoping to avoid the wrath of border police like Smoot and wondering how long they can feel authentic without making their beliefs known in at least a small way. A lot of them are sending me private facebook posts thanking me for my work. Many times they are parents of large, active Mormon families and serving in local leadership callings. 

 

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1 hour ago, Nevo said:

So the main promulgators of the "Inspired Fiction Theory" (a term coined by Stephen Smoot for this article) are Anthony Hutchinson, Robert M. Price,  Scott Dunn, and Ann Taves? That is even worse than I thought.

Hutchinson ("perhaps the chief architect of the IFT") hasn't said a word about it since 1993. Dunn wrote his essay on automatic writing in 1985. Price and Taves have never been members of the Church and Price doesn't even believe in God. Needless to say, neither personally believes that the Book of Mormon is divinely inspired scripture.

I'm not an expert on this topic. My point is simply that there are probably a lot more people than we might assume who simultaneously feel the Book of Mormon is inspired of God and yet who highly doubt or outright reject its historicity on a fundamental level. 

Also, the term certainly wasn't "coined" by Smoot for his article. I believe it has been widely in use well before his article was published. 

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2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Thank you for your response. It's good to speak with you again.

Yes I read that article when it came out and in my opinion it is just the same things that we have been discussing on this thread.  Nothing new, no arguments at all, really, just assertions about what "must" follow from dubious assumptions, when of course dubious assumptions lead to dubious answers, and repeating the same dubious answers over and over does not help anyone.

My answer will be brief since I've already said so much here already.

I find this very frustrating because I perceive the problem to be one of logic and nothing else. But I will get to that a little later.

I think using the word "fiction" is a major mistake which in my opinion immediately makes this Theory absurd.

The word "fiction" means that the story is totally made up, and not ever intended to be about what is or was the case.

You go to a movie like Star Wars and everyone knows it's fiction.

Sometimes books or films will be " based on real events", or words to that effect.

Sometimes you will see the words " true story" on the cover of a book.

Obviously we all know that these distinctions exist.

All of us know the difference between what fiction is and is not or those labels would not be at all useful to anyone.

As I alluded to earlier I think there is virtually no one in the LDS community who actually believes that The Book of Mormon is fiction, a completely made up story, which Joseph never intended to be true, relating events he knew he made up.

 That is the difference between Star Wars and the Book of Mormon.

Inspired or not there's a difference between fiction and nonfiction. Ask any librarian.

Where does the bible appear in a fiction or nonfiction section?

Yet in this discussion it seems that no one seems to know it "fiction" means.  The very use of the words "inspired fiction" is actually the problem itself.

It is a CAUSE of controversy around a problem in semantics. 

But there is another problem exemplified by the Smoot article linked above.

He says

"Without the historicity of the Book of Mormon, both its contents and the manner of its coming forth, Joseph Smith has no genuine prophetic qualification."

That statement is simply logically absurd.

Let's get it in our time machine and go back to the time of Isaiah. We pick up a scroll fresh from Isaiah's writing table.

It is scripture that is not historic. He wrote it last night.

No history except the last 24 hours sitting on his writing table

So that shows that Isaiah has "no genuine prophetic qualification "?

Hopefully that should make the difference between historicity and prophetic qualification clear.

Also, it came from psychological processes within Isaiah's being. If there were "triggers" or catalysts we have no idea.

Do those facts automatically make the writing non scriptural?

Do those two facts automatically make the writing "fiction"?

Did Isaiah drink any wine yesterday?

If he did, would that automatically disqualify what he wrote as not scriptural?  We know nothing about Isaiah's personal life nor do we even know that Isaiah was the author of sections of what became the book of "Isaiah"

I have recently noticed that church authorities are now often referring to the "author of Hebrews" and quotes from that book since of course the authorship is debatable.

And then we have folks like Smoot saying things like if the book is not historical then we "must"not believe it.

I will decide what I find believable and what I do not find believable, thank you very much. But I certainly do not find his article believable.

The church shrinks daily around issues like this one and sooner or later we will have to come to grips with the problems we have with historicity, or there will be no one left to even care.

Sooner or later we will have to deal with the simple fact that all we have in the Book of Mormon and all Latter-Day scripture came out of the psychological /spiritual processes within Joseph mind.

And yet I can see the witnesses.

Nobody seems to understand that all we have is what came out of their psychological processes and testimonies.  All we have for our personal testimonies is what comes out of our psychological /spiritual processes.

There is no "real" tangible objective evidence for any of it, except perhaps a hat or a stone, and we need to deal with that fact, or the church itself will become a footnote in history. 

The only reason I am even here is because of my psychological processes and receiving a testimony, I thank God that I am not alone.

Sorry, I'm not really interested in picking up where Smac97 left off. It seems to me that you haven't interacted with the arguments he is actually making, and which Smoot and many others have been making. 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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13 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Sorry, I'm not really interested in picking up where Smac97 left off. It seems to me that you haven't interacted with the arguments he is actually making, and which Smoot and many others have been making. 

In that case I would apologize and accept the correction.

Would you please tell me what I am missing?  Clearly it seems I am having trouble communicating with others here and you are at least the second to tell me that, and I would like to remedy that.   Is it more my tone or the substance of what I am saying?  I really have a tendency to lean heavily toward sarcasm, which I definitely see as a fault.

Further, does your position about the importance of historicity also apply to your interpretation of the Book of Abraham?   Did the patriarch Abraham write it?

Do you accept it as scripture?

If there are differences, or similarities, it might be very fruitful to analyze them

Edited by mfbukowski
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54 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Also, the term certainly wasn't "coined" by Smoot for his article. I believe it has been widely in use well before his article was published. 

Yes, you're right. I stand corrected.

From a quick Google search, it appears to go back at least as far as 1995 (see William J. Hamblin, "The Latest Straw Man," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 4/2 [1995]: 83).

Edited by Nevo
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It is hard for me to follow this conversation. It is all a bit too binary or dualistic for me. It is also not possible to write everything I want to say in one post. So, I won’t! Aren’t you glad?

At their most basic, both the Book of Mormon and the Bible are literature. Is it wrong for them to be taught at a secular university by a literature professor as literature? No. Must that professor be a believer in the sacred truths they contain? No. It is not wrong . . . it is incomplete. While scriptures are literature, in the mind of the believer they are much more. So, the students at the secular university miss out on the much more.

If the Bible and the Book of Mormon are literature, they are full of tenses, grammar, voice, mood, inflection, and writing styles. In understanding and unlocking their meaning, is all of that important? Of course. Can one understand the meaning without a knowledge of all that? Yes! But, like the above professor, the resultant understanding is incomplete.

If a verb is used in the subjunctive mood, does it have a different meaning than if it is used in the imperative mood? Yes! Does something written in the present, past, or imperfect tense have a different meaning? Yes!  Are there tenses, moods, voice on every page of the Bible? Yes! In the Book of Mormon? Yes! Is there a difference in the meaning of an active or a passive voice? Yes! Is that important in understanding a word, a verse, a chapter, a book? Yes!  I hearken back to this years Sunstone Conference. A brilliant analysis of D&C 1:30 was done by a faithful LDS physician. In his grammatical analysis of that verse and those that surround it, he concluded that the verse is written in the subjunctive mood (there are four different possibilities of moods in English). Therefore, he gave the verse a meaning that is a bit different than the “normal” and “regular” interpretation by those who don’t consider the mood of the verse. We do this with the Bible all the time as well. Words just don’t provide meaning – tense, voice, and mood of the word sometimes provide greater context and meaning than the word itself (especially in English).

Are there different types of literature within the Book of Mormon and the Bible? Yes! Should we interpret each of those different types differently? Yes! Neither scripture is made up of only one type of literature. In the Bible there is poetry, parable, prose, prophecy, wisdom sayings, songs, allegory, metaphor, letters, history, and apocalyptic literature, and more. I am not adept with the Book of Mormon, but I believe many of the same types, if not all of them are found in therein – ditto for the D&C. Do we need to read and interpret each of these types of literature differently to gather their meaning? Should we understand why the author used one type or another? Should we learn the rules for interpreting each? Yes! Are parables fiction? Yes! Do they represent real historical characters and events? No! Are there ways to learn to distinguish parables from history? Yes! Can each be used to teach truths? Yes!

Does poetry have a different context and meaning than law lists? Yes! Do scriptures contain both? Yes? Metaphors and allegories? Yes! Does our heart have a literal door at which Christ knocks? No! Should that be interpreted literally? No!

Is Christ literally a vine? No! Should that be interpreted literally? No! How do we know what we should interpret in scripture as literal or not? That takes a lot of study! If it isn’t literal is it not true? No! Is the story of Jonah and the Whale history, parable, or ????? How do we tell; how can we know? Study – understanding the mindset and culture of the writer or narrator. Even then, good folks will come up with different conclusions? What is the culture of those who wrote, and those who were written about? How would they have understood the text? Are different scriptures written for specific people, places, and times? What meaning do they have for us in this time, dispensation, age, or era? Who is right? We often don’t know with certainty! We can’t be certain about that which is inherently uncertain.

How did the Holy Spirit work in the writing of scripture? How does the Holy Spirit work in the interpretation of scripture? What are the spiritual lessons to be learned in scripture? What is transcendent in scripture? What is the purpose of scripture? What is necessary to believe, to dig everything out of scripture that it holds for us? Now we are into spiritual discernment. This is where we leave the literature professor behind! Now we are at a whole different level of interpretation! We each receive the revelation in scripture through a different filter. My favorite, most meaningful verse is different from yours. Is one of us wrong? No! Are we both right? Yes!

Both the technical and the spiritual aspects of interpretation are necessary and important in rightly dividing the word of truth – the scripture. What does the scripture claim for itself? What are we reading into the scripture, instead of taking out of it? Do we twist scripture to fit what we already believe from other sources?

This is just a beginning to a discussion about interpretation of scripture, whether liberal, fundamentalist, neo-orthodox, plenary, God-breathed, inerrant, contextual, or ????????? It all matters. It is not simply a matter of historical fiction or not. There is much more to unlock in all scripture - both LDS and non-LDS than that! Yes!

Edited by Navidad
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13 hours ago, Navidad said:

It is hard for me to follow this conversation. It is all a bit too binary or dualistic for me. It is also not possible to write everything I want to say in one post. So, I won’t! Aren’t you glad?

At their most basic, both the Book of Mormon and the Bible are literature. Is it wrong for them to be taught at a secular university by a literature professor as literature? No. Must that professor be a believer in the sacred truths they contain? No. It is not wrong . . . it is incomplete. While scriptures are literature, in the mind of the believer they are much more. So, the students at the secular university miss out on the much more.

If the Bible and the Book of Mormon are literature, they are full of tenses, grammar, voice, mood, inflection, and writing styles. In understanding and unlocking their meaning, is all of that important? Of course. Can one understand the meaning without a knowledge of all that? Yes! But, like the above professor, the resultant understanding is incomplete.

If a verb is used in the subjunctive mood, does it have a different meaning than if it is used in the imperative mood? Yes! Does something written in the present, past, or imperfect tense have a different meaning? Yes!  Are there tenses, moods, voice on every page of the Bible? Yes! In the Book of Mormon? Yes! Is there a difference in the meaning of an active or a passive voice? Yes! Is that important in understanding a word, a verse, a chapter, a book? Yes!  I hearken back to this years Sunstone Conference. A brilliant analysis of D&C 1:30 was done by a faithful LDS physician. In his grammatical analysis of that verse and those that surround it, he concluded that the verse is written in the subjunctive mood (there are four different possibilities of moods in English). Therefore, he gave the verse a meaning that is a bit different than the “normal” and “regular” interpretation by those who don’t consider the mood of the verse. We do this with the Bible all the time as well. Words just don’t provide meaning – tense, voice, and mood of the word sometimes provide greater context and meaning than the word itself (especially in English).

Are there different types of literature within the Book of Mormon and the Bible? Yes! Should we interpret each of those different types differently? Yes! Neither scripture is made up of only one type of literature. In the Bible there is poetry, parable, prose, prophecy, wisdom sayings, songs, allegory, metaphor, letters, history, and apocalyptic literature, and more. I am not adept with the Book of Mormon, but I believe many of the same types, if not all of them are found in therein – ditto for the D&C. Do we need to read and interpret each of these types of literature differently to gather their meaning? Should we understand why the author used one type or another? Should we learn the rules for interpreting each? Yes! Are parables fiction? Yes! Do they represent real historical characters and events? No! Are there ways to learn to distinguish parables from history? Yes! Can each be used to teach truths? Yes!

Does poetry have a different context and meaning than law lists? Yes! Do scriptures contain both? Yes? Metaphors and allegories? Yes! Does our heart have a literal door at which Christ knocks? No! Should that be interpreted literally? No!

Is Christ literally a vine? No! Should that be interpreted literally? No! How do we know what we should interpret in scripture as literal or not? That takes a lot of study! If it isn’t literal is it not true? No! Is the story of Jonah and the Whale history, parable, or ????? How do we tell; how can we know? Study – understanding the mindset and culture of the writer or narrator. Even then, good folks will come up with different conclusions? What is the culture of those who wrote, and those who were written about? How would they have understood the text? Are different scriptures written for specific people, places, and times? What meaning do they have for us in this time, dispensation, age, or era? Who is right? We often don’t know with certainty! We can’t be certain about that which is inherently uncertain.

How did the Holy Spirit work in the writing of scripture? How does the Holy Spirit work in the interpretation of scripture? What are the spiritual lessons to be learned in scripture? What is transcendent in scripture? What is the purpose of scripture? What is necessary to believe, to dig everything out of scripture that it holds for us? Now we are into spiritual discernment. This is where we leave the literature professor behind! Now we are at a whole different level of interpretation! We each receive the revelation in scripture through a different filter. My favorite, most meaningful verse is different from yours. Is one of us wrong? No! Are we both right? Yes!

Both the technical and the spiritual aspects of interpretation are necessary and important in rightly dividing the word of truth – the scripture. What does the scripture claim for itself? What are we reading into the scripture, instead of taking out of it? Do we twist scripture to fit what we already believe from other sources?

This is just a beginning to a discussion about interpretation of scripture, whether liberal, fundamentalist, neo-orthodox, plenary, God-breathed, inerrant, contextual, or ????????? It all matters. It is not simply a matter of historical fiction or not. There is much more to unlock in all scripture - both LDS and non-LDS than that! Yes!

Agreed, completely and I think it will be a fruitful discussion for both of us and hopefully others.

Will get back to you as soon as I have the time to do so.

Preliminary question- since we both have a belief in the atonement of Jesus Christ, that might be a good start.

There IS "historical evidence" that Jesus died on the cross - at least in the bible, assuming we take the bible as a good historical source.

But here's the question:

GIVEN it was a historical event- how much of that supports the BELIEF that because of that event-  your sins (and mine) are forgiven?

My contention is that the BELIEF is a leap of faith IF the event itself is historical or not. (ie: that it "really happened").  To me that is the conventional Christian belief that "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have ever lasting life."

Belief in God is like that as well- we have NO historical evidence that God exists, and yet we accept his "reality" on faith and/or personal experience.  That of course does not include any historical requirements.

In other words - the BELIEF that God and Jesus "saved us" IS what saves regardless of the historic realities of either one's existence

That is tantamount to saying that because God exists- I believe that he has provided a way to forgive us of our sins, and we call that mechanism "the atonement"

Others here contend it must have been a historic event for that event to save us.   I separate the BELIEF in  historicity from the BELIEF in the atonement - that we are saved by Jesus Christ.

I see no logical entailment there whatsoever.  

Christ could have saved us by a method other than his crucifixion.  The crucifixion could have been historical and not be saving,  but it is the BELIEF- the leap of faith- that saves us, not the historical event.

And why is this an important issue for LDS and not for other Christians?

Because there is historical evidence for the Bible but not a great amount of evidence for the Book of Mormon and VERY poor evidence for the "authenticity" of the Book of Abraham.   I have never heard your opinion on the Book of Abraham, incidentally.

SO the issue of "inspired fiction" in the BOM is an issue for some because they believe that IF there were never any Nephites- the Book of Mormon has no spiritual value.

I contend that the Book of Mormon has spiritual value whether or not Nephites actually existed

Hope that clarifies it a little, and I would like to hear your views.

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1 minute ago, mfbukowski said:

It is hard for me to follow this conversation. It is all a bit too binary or dualistic for me. It is also not possible to write everything I want to say in one post. So, I won’t! Aren’t you glad?

At their most basic, both the Book of Mormon and the Bible are literature. Is it wrong for them to be taught at a secular university by a literature professor as literature? No. Must that professor be a believer in the sacred truths they contain? No. It is not wrong . . . it is incomplete. While scriptures are literature, in the mind of the believer they are much more. So, the students at the secular university miss out on the much more.

If the Bible and the Book of Mormon are literature, they are full of tenses, grammar, voice, mood, inflection, and writing styles. In understanding and unlocking their meaning, is all of that important? Of course. Can one understand the meaning without a knowledge of all that? Yes! But, like the above professor, the resultant understanding is incomplete.

Yes this is a good summary of the issues here in my opinion, as well as your analogy of poetry, not quoted here.

Does poetry need to be historically true to have spiritual value?  Of course not.  Could it be historically true?  Of course.  Spiritual value and historicity are independent variables.

Those who need the Book of Mormon to be historically true do not appear to understand that dichotomy in my opinion.

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Faith in historicity is not faith in God, it is faith in the records of man.

I know that God can and does forgive my sins by grace, after all I can do, through reason, and then by spiritual confirmation of that knowledge, regardless of my paltry ability to understand and define how or what He does or why he does it.

The Bible and Book of Mormon present one possible way He works, and I am committed to that path, but not because either book is or is not "historical".

Like the endowment there are the blessings and covenants, and then there is the presentation of those blessings and covenants.  So too is history, it is the story and presentation of God's work, but the presentation of the message is not the message itself.

The story may change, the presentation may change, but he message can only come by way of the spirit.

This the presentation must change, as the presentation in human language changes, or else the presentation becomes an idol. 

The presentation is not the message, it is created by human language, culture and the records of man.

The message can only be found by the spirit.

God loves and forgives us, and acts as the perfect father.

How he does it is his business. 

We may know some day.

Today we know only children's stories.

Worshipping historicity is worshipping an idol.

Edited by mfbukowski
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Since my interlocutors appear to have abandoned me for reasons I do not understand, I might as well use this space to carry on my thoughts, at least giving them an opportunity to respond if they like.  This is useful for me to see which way the wind blows or if it is just me that..... nevermind.

I am reminded of the story about Galileo who was being prosecuted by the church for teaching false doctrine, essentially he was teaching science that was non-biblical.  His reply was "Scripture teaches us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

This obsession with history I think is more about how the heavens theoretically go rather than about how to go to heaven.! ;)

Joseph spoke of what is necessary to understand the true nature of God.   Let me riff on that a bit.

We have questions about Who, What, Why, and How.

Mixing these up, as Galileo showed, causes problems and I think that is the problem here.  He was talking about mixing up HOW God makes the heavens go with WHAT we must do to "go to heaven"

Who are we talking about?  Our Heavenly Father, a glorified human and the father of our spirits, who loves us and cares for us.  We see him as a "Father" because that is a human image we impose on the concept of God, as a person who ideally does all those things in our personal lives.  We also believe we ourselves are in HIS "image" and we see Him as "one of us" though infinitely above us

Why does he do what he does?  The gospel teaches us that he wants our immortality and eternal life, to have joy and fill the measure of our creation- to "be all we can be"

What does he do to achieve those ends?  In our image of Him, He allows us to communicate with Him through the spirit.  This is probably His primary and most important aspect.

He hears and answers our prayers, and fulfills the function of what we conceive as all that a perfect Father would do.  It is through that communication wthat we know what is right and wrong instictively through what we call our "conscience".  His image as the perfect Father is inseparable from us being made "in his image" and also our image of what it is to be a human being.  As a good Father he gives us a world in which to live which provides us with all our needs "after all we can do".  Building a shelter, for example,  is something we do for ourselves, after He provides the materials.

How does he do all this?  Unknowable except through paradigms, theories and stories, the way we humans describe the "how" of everything, and this was Galileo's insight when he made his comment about "how the heavens go".   This is where Pragmatism as a philosophy comes in, along with other philosophies of men in science and all man teaches. God does not teach us that, except in very basic terms like "spirit is matter" etc.  We make up paradigms and theories and stories.  All of science fits here in the "how" section- and includes history.  "Christ was born in Bethlehem, taught and was crucified" is part of the paradigm we use in the gospel, but the gospel itself is not about HOW God communicates with billions of people at once, hearing prayers and organizing universes simultaneously, presumably.

We are not Gods so we cannot possibly know how the atonement works, or any of this, just THAT it works, and belief on its own also works.

We know that people can be cured from disease by their conscious beliefs and even have scientific evidence for that- in scientific language that is called the "placebo effect". 

Science shows that in certain cases the BELIEF ALONE that we will be cured by a drug can ACTUALLY cure us!

But HOW could a sugar pill cure a serious disease because our mind BELIEVED it would?

We cannot know the "how" of such things.

So the biggest problems we have with the gospel seems to me to be when we confuse HOW questions- how God does things- with the WHAT and WHY questions.

HOW does doing what God says give us eternal life?  No answer.  How does belief in Christ give us immortality?  No answer. 

 HOW does the historical event of Christ's suffering in Gethsemane and crucifixion "cause" the atonement and  "pay for" our sins?  No answer.

Yet HOW does a hundred ton machine made of steel fly through the air taking with it passengers and delivering freight?  Ask any aeronautical engineer.   HOW can people across the globe hear and see me in my living room and carry on a conversation simultaneously as if the distance between us didn't exist?  We have a paradigm that will cover how that works

Historical questions must get historical answers, to answer HOW history works and "what happened".

Spiritual answers do not tell us HOW things work- one can be an aeronautical engineer and not believe in, nor ask God any questions to figure out if a particular plane design will fly.

Historians do not need to be believers to research whether or not Jesus was crucified, or what the significance that even had for mankind.

Likewise, spiritual confirmations that Christ suffered and died for MY sins are not received by studying history.

Why this causes confusion, apparently, is a mystery to me.

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13 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Since my interlocutors appear to have abandoned me for reasons I do not understand, I might as well use this space to carry on my thoughts, at least giving them an opportunity to respond if they like.  This is useful for me to see which way the wind blows or if it is just me that..... nevermind.

Book of Mormon is historical.  It is irrational to think otherwise.  The Bible is based on actual human experiences and the resultant testimonies of God's dealings with mankind.  BoM is the same.  Chock full of real people, some who have actually seen the visitation of the Savior in the Western Hemisphere.

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2 hours ago, longview said:

Book of Mormon is historical.  It is irrational to think otherwise.  The Bible is based on actual human experiences and the resultant testimonies of God's dealings with mankind.  BoM is the same.  Chock full of real people, some who have actually seen the visitation of the Savior in the Western Hemisphere.

Here's the deal: I agree with you!!!

But there is no real evidence that those people existed, other than the BOM itself. 

It is circular reasoning to say that those alleged people saw the events of the BOM when relying also on the BOM to prove both the existence of the witnesses and the events.

@smac97 kept avoiding the evidence issue, because none exists!

Same with the bible.

What evidence do we have for Moses and the commandments? The bible only

What evidence do we have for Joseph's vision?

Only Joseph testimony.

So in all three instances all we have is the testimony of the testator..

The Bible gives its own proof for itself.

The Book of Mormon gives its own proof for itself.

Joseph gives his own proof for himself.

The reason I joined the church was because I saw that reason alone could show a way that all three could be true.

What anti Mormons harp upon is the lack of evidence, so for purposes of debate I take their position on the truth of the Book of Mormon Etc.

But what I am offering is a way even for atheists to understand and accept the possibility that these religious texts could be useful and give their lives meaning.

Logically it is not possible for Spiritual truths to be shown historically. It is confused thinking to think that is possible. Eyewitnesses to Christ's crucifixion had no idea that their sins were there for forgiving. They saw the historical event unfold before them but totally missed the spiritual event.

Actually being involved in the event itself did not convey spiritual truth to them. They had more experience and the history of the event than any scholar could ever have. And yet they still did not see that Jesus was the Christ the Savior and the son of God.

History did not convert them then and history does not convert people now.

Spiritual truths "happen" within a person's heart.

But there is a way to justify these as beliefs through reason alone, and I am suggesting that through Pragmatic philosophy that is exactly what is possible.  But yet of course we still have to have a spiritual testimony to change our lives.

But the testimony can be justified by sound philosophy rather than wobbly history, logic instead of circular reasoning and hearsay.

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5 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Here's the deal: I agree with you!!!

But there is no real evidence that those people existed, other than the BOM itself. 

It is circular reasoning to say that those alleged people saw the events of the BOM when relying also on the BOM to prove both the existence of the witnesses and the events.

@smac97 kept avoiding the evidence issue, because none exists!

Same with the bible.

What evidence do we have for Moses and the commandments? The bible only

What evidence do we have for Joseph's vision?

Only Joseph testimony.

So in all three instances all we have is the testimony of the testator..

The Bible gives its own proof for itself.

The Book of Mormon gives its own proof for itself.

Joseph gives his own proof for himself.

The reason I joined the church was because I saw that reason alone could show a way that all three could be true.

What anti Mormons harp upon is the lack of evidence, so for purposes of debate I take their position on the truth of the Book of Mormon Etc.

But what I am offering is a way even for atheists to understand and accept the possibility that these religious texts could be useful and give their lives meaning.

Logically it is not possible for Spiritual truths to be shown historically. It is confused thinking to think that is possible. Eyewitnesses to Christ's crucifixion had no idea that their sins were there for forgiving. They saw the historical event unfold before them but totally missed the spiritual event.

Actually being involved in the event itself did not convey spiritual truth to them. They had more experience and the history of the event than any scholar could ever have. And yet they still did not see that Jesus was the Christ the Savior and the son of God.

History did not convert them then and history does not convert people now.

Spiritual truths "happen" within a person's heart.

But there is a way to justify these as beliefs through reason alone, and I am suggesting that through Pragmatic philosophy that is exactly what is possible.  But yet of course we still have to have a spiritual testimony to change our lives.

But the testimony can be justified by sound philosophy rather than wobbly history, logic instead of circular reasoning and hearsay.

MFB - Could you provide a very brief primer (a launching off point) of this pragmatic philosophy? Give me how YOU would characterize it. : )

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38 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Here's the deal: I agree with you!!!

But there is no real evidence that those people existed, other than the BOM itself. 

It is circular reasoning to say that those alleged people saw the events of the BOM when relying also on the BOM to prove both the existence of the witnesses and the events.

@smac97 kept avoiding the evidence issue, because none exists!

Same with the bible.

What evidence do we have for Moses and the commandments? The bible only

What evidence do we have for Joseph's vision?

Only Joseph testimony.

So in all three instances all we have is the testimony of the testator..

The Bible gives its own proof for itself.

The Book of Mormon gives its own proof for itself.

Joseph gives his own proof for himself.

The reason I joined the church was because I saw that reason alone could show a way that all three could be true.

What anti Mormons harp upon is the lack of evidence, so for purposes of debate I take their position on the truth of the Book of Mormon Etc.

But what I am offering is a way even for atheists to understand and accept the possibility that these religious texts could be useful and give their lives meaning.

Logically it is not possible for Spiritual truths to be shown historically. It is confused thinking to think that is possible. Eyewitnesses to Christ's crucifixion had no idea that their sins were there for forgiving. They saw the historical event unfold before them but totally missed the spiritual event.

Actually being involved in the event itself did not convey spiritual truth to them. They had more experience and the history of the event than any scholar could ever have. And yet they still did not see that Jesus was the Christ the Savior and the son of God.

History did not convert them then and history does not convert people now.

Spiritual truths "happen" within a person's heart.

But there is a way to justify these as beliefs through reason alone, and I am suggesting that through Pragmatic philosophy that is exactly what is possible.  But yet of course we still have to have a spiritual testimony to change our lives.

But the testimony can be justified by sound philosophy rather than wobbly history, logic instead of circular reasoning and hearsay.

This I can stand behind!

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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

Here's the deal: I agree with you!!!

But there is no real evidence that those people existed, other than the BOM itself. 

Yes, there is.

Quote

It is circular reasoning to say that those alleged people saw the events of the BOM when relying also on the BOM to prove both the existence of the witnesses and the events.

Nobody relies on The Book of Mormon to "prove {} the existence of the witnesses."

Nobody disputes the existence of the Witnesses.  Their statements are evidence.

Quote

@smac97 kept avoiding the evidence issue, because none exists!

I stopped interacting with you because I felt the discussion was not productive.

And I strongly disagree with the second part of the above statement as well.  Evidence does, in fact, exist.

Quote

What evidence do we have for Joseph's vision?

Only Joseph testimony.

For many of his visions, yes, we ultimately have Joseph's account only.  But his account is, nevertheless, evidence.  

However, what about the vision in D&C 110?  Oliver Cowdery shared that one, such that we have more than Joseph Smith's say-so.

What about the Statement of the Three Witnesses?  That's evidence, too.  More than Joseph's say-so.

The Statement of the Eight Witnesses.  Again, more than Joseph's say-so (though about the Plates, not about divine manifestations).

And on and on.  From Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations 1820-1844 (edited by John Welch and Erick Carlson), p. 267:

Quote

{I} a number of instances, others witnessed Joseph Smith's visionary experiences.  Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris, Sidney Rigdon, Heber C. Kimball, Frederick G. Williams, John Murdock, Zebedee Coltrin, and others were present when the Prophet had visions, often seeing the manifestation with him.  The recorded statements of these witnesses and co-participants give additional testimony and credibility to the reality of the Prophet's seeric experiences.7
...
7. Smith, History, 1839, in Jesse, Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:282; Joseph Smith-History 1:54.  See also Smith, Biographical Sketches, 85-86.

With respect, I think you have your hackles raised, such that you are becoming wedded to an assertion that is not borne out by competent analysis.  Part of why I discontinued our prior interaction was because it seemed that you were (or seemed to be) spoiling for a fight.  That still seems to be the case.  I invite you to reconsider your position and give it some further thought and study.

Quote

So in all three instances all we have is the testimony of the testator.

This is simply not so.  We have more than the testimony of Joseph Smith.  We have multiple additional witnesses.  Plus we have the Plates.  Plus we have the text of the translation of The Book of Mormon.  Plus we have considerable amounts of probative evidence compiled and explained by various scholars and apologists.  These are all pieces of "evidence" over and above "the testimony of the testator."

We can certainly discuss the probative weight of these evidences.  I'm all for that.  But to simply assert or pretend that they do not exist at all just won't do.

Quote

The Bible gives its own proof for itself.

The Book of Mormon gives its own proof for itself.

Joseph gives his own proof for himself.

The reason I joined the church was because I saw that reason alone could show a way that all three could be true.

I agree with this sentiment.  Quite a bit.

It sure would be nice if you stopped trying to pick a fight.

Quote

What anti Mormons harp upon is the lack of evidence, so for purposes of debate I take their position on the truth of the Book of Mormon Etc.

I don't.  Their position is not factually correct.

Quote

But what I am offering is a way even for atheists to understand and accept the possibility that these religious texts could be useful and give their lives meaning.

Logically it is not possible for Spiritual truths to be shown historically.  It is confused thinking to think that is possible.

I think spiritual truths can be corroborated through forms of evidence other than the Spirit.

Quote

Actually being involved in the event itself did not convey spiritual truth to them. They had more experience and the history of the event than any scholar could ever have. And yet they still did not see that Jesus was the Christ the Savior and the son of God.

History did not convert them then and history does not convert people now.

I fully acknowledge that accepting The Book of Mormon is eventually and fundamentally an exercise in faith.  But we must build on that.  Elder Holland put it well (emphasis added) :

Quote

My testimony to you tonight is that the gospel is infallibly true and that a variety of infallible proofs supporting that assertion will continue to come until Jesus descends as the ultimate infallible truth of all. Our testimonies aren’t dependent on evidence—we still need that spiritual confirmation in the heart of which we have spoken—but not to seek for and not to acknowledge intellectual, documentable support for our belief when it is available is to needlessly limit an otherwise incomparably strong theological position and deny us a unique, persuasive vocabulary in the latter-day arena of religious investigation and sectarian debate. Thus armed with so much evidence of the kind we have celebrated here tonight, we ought to be more assertive than we sometimes are in defending our testimony of truth.

To that point I mention that while we were living and serving in England, I became fond of the writing of the English cleric Austin Farrer. Speaking of the contribution made by C. S. Lewis specifically and of Christian apologists generally, Farrer said: “Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.”[10]
...
[10] Austin Farrer, “The Christian Apologist,” in Light on C.S. Lewis, ed. Jocelyn Gibb (1965), 26.

You seem hostile to the concept emphasized above.  If so, and with respect, I invite you to give it some reconsideration.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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The text provides us with a huge amount of evidence on the question of whether the Book of Mormon is Joseph Smith's text. I study the syntax in a comparative vein and many of my comparative studies strongly indicate that it is not Joseph Smith's text. The syntax is quite different in a number of ways from biblical syntax, Joseph Smith's syntax, pseudobiblical syntax, and modern syntax.

(Comparative studies based on small and large text databases, mostly put together from public domain texts, including Joseph's early writings, almost 30 pseudobiblical texts, the 1611 King James text, the 1769 King James text, 25,000 early modern texts, 200,000 18c texts, Google Books, the early American database Evans, etc.)

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