Jump to content

Book of Mormon Historicity


Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

I"m drawing a parallel.  For some reason it seems people are accepting all the assumptions required to believe the historicity of the BoM all because of a ghost (being God).

This made me wonder, is it possible to believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon and not believe in God or angels?  Unlike the Bible, the provenance of the Book of Mormon is tied up with God and angels, so it feels like that is really difficult, if not impossible to do.  Similarly, can someone believe in the historicity of D&C 7 (a document written by the apostle John) and not believe in God or angels?  Both have the same provenance and both a purported to be historical records.

Link to post
11 minutes ago, webbles said:

This made me wonder, is it possible to believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon and not believe in God or angels?  Unlike the Bible, the provenance of the Book of Mormon is tied up with God and angels, so it feels like that is really difficult, if not impossible to do.  Similarly, can someone believe in the historicity of D&C 7 (a document written by the apostle John) and not believe in God or angels?  Both have the same provenance and both a purported to be historical records.

I think it's possible.  It's possible Joseph got the words from an older person who lived in the, what, 16th century?  He found some dustied writings that were found centuries before.  Or something.  

Link to post
35 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I think it's possible.  It's possible Joseph got the words from an older person who lived in the, what, 16th century?  He found some dustied writings that were found centuries before.  Or something.  

But that 16th century person would still have to have gotten the original history from the Americas.  And the chance that a 16th century person would be able to translate the text is really small.  Unless we also say that it wasn't a written history, and instead it is an oral history.  But an oral history wouldn't sound like the Book of Mormon so who ever wrote it down would have had to have re-structured the text and at that point, how much of the original oral history can we depend on?  That doesn't sound like believing in the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

Link to post
11 minutes ago, webbles said:

But that 16th century person would still have to have gotten the original history from the Americas.  And the chance that a 16th century person would be able to translate the text is really small.  Unless we also say that it wasn't a written history, and instead it is an oral history.  But an oral history wouldn't sound like the Book of Mormon so who ever wrote it down would have had to have re-structured the text and at that point, how much of the original oral history can we depend on?  That doesn't sound like believing in the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

He was showing his gullibility, or just trying to be funny.  I think he is cute when he does that.

Link to post
1 hour ago, webbles said:

This made me wonder, is it possible to believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon and not believe in God or angels?  Unlike the Bible, the provenance of the Book of Mormon is tied up with God and angels, so it feels like that is really difficult, if not impossible to do.  Similarly, can someone believe in the historicity of D&C 7 (a document written by the apostle John) and not believe in God or angels?  Both have the same provenance and both a purported to be historical records.

Once you accept the premise that God and angels are people like us... or more precisely that we are people like them.. it gradually becomes perfectly clear that all of history is the story of us.  Where we came from, how we got here, and where we are going after we are done here.

Link to post
3 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

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

What's interesting is the supposition that LDS experts cannot be trusted unless validated from outside (nevermind that the most impressive LDS experts got their Ph.D.s from outside institutions and publish regularly in professional journals without controversy), whereas, whatever anyone from the outside says must be correct since as professionals, they must be totally objective and omniscient, even if, in many cases, they demonstrate that they don't know much about the Book of Mormon and LDS scholarship, even when they have read it (Coe, for instance), or make their pronouncements without having read it (McMurrin and Bloom).

As a practical matter, we must take Hugh Nibley seriously when he speaks about the necessity of "gentile respectability."  The anti-Mormons are so bigoted that they will not accept the opinion of any but non-Mormon experts, and even then they hypocritically call such opinions into question.  Why?  That's just the way it is.  Life is unfair.

Quote

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

Further, there is the issue of thinking of the problem in terms of a philosophical discussion about whether or not there was once a garden in a particular spot. In that model, nothing is at stake.  Whether or not there was a garden doesn't matter as much as whether Joseph Smith really did receive real inspiration, if, for instance, Moroni was a real resurrected being who came to Joseph Smith with an authentic account.  If so, it calls for wholesale changes to a person's life and society.  So, treating one set of commentators as though they must be wrong because everything is at stake for them, and another set  as correct because nothing is at stake except social ostracism if they take Joseph Smith seriously, overlooks the reality that the ongoing stakes heighten the need to get things right.  Barbour refers to a rival parable of "The Partisan" in which setting is WWII in the Resistance, rather than philosophers discussing a garden, and the stakes about who to trust involve life and death.  A similar conflict and similar stakes arise in the Harry Potter books around Dumbledore's declaration that "I trust Severus Snape" and Harry's ongoing experience and grounds for mistrust (even, counting instances where the mistrust seems to have been dead wrong, as in the first book). Does Harry's experience mean Dumbledore is wrong, or does Dumbledore know something that Harry does not?  Is Professor Lupin wrong to say, "I trust Dumbledore?" when Lupin doesn't know everything Dumbledore knows, based on his experiences.

Can I decide who to trust in the absence of absolute certainty and in the absence of all the information that I might want?  The thing is, I must decide, and I have to be open to the possibility that I might have more to learn.  So faith goes with the territory.  ..........................

Faith must be primary in the absence of a falsifiable and logical case for religious belief.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
  • Like 2
Link to post
3 hours ago, stemelbow said:

I"m drawing a parallel.  For some reason it seems people are accepting all the assumptions required to believe the historicity of the BoM all because of a ghost (being God). 

You are confusing science with faith.  Science is not based on faith or ghosts, and cannot deal with such subjects.  You are making a category mistake.

3 hours ago, stemelbow said:

So you're saying there's a chance.  Gotacha.

No.  I'm saying that hard science and logic verify the existence of a particular set of facts in a particular place and time.  There are dozens of such correlations which depend solely upon science and logic.  All of that can be dismissed by a nonchalant wave of the hand, but that is not the same as taking it seriously.

3 hours ago, stemelbow said:

I don't think it matters if they were Mormon or not.  

It shouldn't matter, but in the real world it matters to those who are bigoted or suspicious about motives.

  • Like 2
Link to post
14 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

As a practical matter, we must take Hugh Nibley seriously when he speaks about the necessity of "gentile respectability."  The ant-Mormons are so bigoted that they will not accept the opinion of any but non-Mormon experts, and even then they hypocritically call such opinions into question.  Why?  That's just the way it is.  Life is unfair.

Faith must be primary in the absence of a falsifiable and logical case for religious belief.

Someone taking someone else's word for something is and always has been an incredible... no, not the right word.. fascinating thing.  Something we should do only when we are so sure that the person we are trusting is correct that we are willing to make their word our own.

That's what faith is all about.  God tells us things... gives us his word or assurance that something is true.. and we then take his word as our own word.  Either that or we pick someone else to trust and take that other person's word as our own, instead.

That's how learning works.  We pick who to learn from, who to trust, who to believe, and by that we show who we follow as their disciple.

  • Like 1
Link to post
On 8/12/2020 at 12:43 PM, smac97 said:

Could you clarify how this is a "problem with NHM as evidence?"  I'm not sure I understand your point.

Because there were several maps and books that predated the publication of the Book of Mormon with variations of NHM in the location where the Book of Mormon locates Nahom. 

Sure Joseph may not have had access to maps and books, but we aren't certain Joseph was the sole author/translator.

Edited by Rajah Manchou
Link to post
4 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

What's interesting is the supposition that LDS experts cannot be trusted unless validated from outside

The irony of this attitude is that this lack of trust is based on the presumption of bias toward the faith claims of the church that an LDS member expert might naturally have while ignoring the possibility of bias against the church that a non LDS expert might have.   Unfortunately there isn't an anti-Mormon church where we can check a person's membership record and standing within the organization, but we can attempt to measure bias against the church based on the way the person attempts to interact with the scholarship from those within the church.  

And one of the biggest problems that I see with non-LDS experts (aside from the possible bias noted above) is that they are rarely very familiar with the texts that drive the LDS position, and in that regard they are unqualified to address it (such as Coe's scant knowledge of the contents of the Book of Mormon).  This is really a crucial point.

Edited by InCognitus
  • Like 1
Link to post
9 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

possibility of bias against the church

Not necessarily the Church or members, but possible bias against faith positions or things they assume as unnecessary to examine because of assumptions of connection to belief in spiritual things. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
17 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

The irony of this attitude is that this lack of trust is based on the presumption of bias toward the faith claims of the church that an LDS member expert might naturally have while ignoring the possibility of bias against the church that a non LDS expert might have.   Unfortunately there isn't an anti-Mormon church where we can check a person's membership record and standing within the organization, but we can attempt to measure bias against the church based on the way the person attempts to interact with the scholarship from those within the church.  

And one of the biggest problems that I see with non-LDS experts (aside from the possible bias noted above) is that they are rarely very familiar with the texts that drive the LDS position, and in that regard they are unqualified to address it (such as Coe's scant knowledge of the contents of the Book of Mormon).  This is really a crucial point.

Except members don't even agree on what the data says. What is the official stance on evidence for historicity? These historicity threads pop up ever other week and for as long as I've been here us members can't even agree. Top-selling books full of evidence for one model are invalidated by top selling books full of evidence for a completely different model.

This indicates a lack of data and weak methodologies.

Link to post
16 minutes ago, Calm said:

Not necessarily the Church or members, but possible bias against faith positions or things they assume as unnecessary to examine because of assumptions of connection to belief in spiritual things. 

Yep, that too.

Link to post
2 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Except members don't even agree on what the data says. What is the official stance on evidence for historicity? These historicity threads pop up ever other week and for as long as I've been here us members can't even agree. Top-selling books full of evidence for one model are invalidated by top selling books full of evidence for a completely different model.

This indicates a lack of data and weak methodologies.

I disagree. Disagreement over interpretations of data is the bread and butter of many different disciplines. It doesn’t automatically mean the data is weak or lacking. 

  • Like 4
Link to post
7 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I disagree. Disagreement over interpretations of data is the bread and butter of many different disciplines. It doesn’t automatically mean the data is weak or lacking. 

What data are you referring to? The data that Israelites migrated to the Heartland in 600 BC or the data that Israelites migrated to Guatemala in 600 BC?

This isn't a case of different interpretations of the same data. This is a case of two completely different data sets.

  • Like 1
Link to post
30 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

What data are you referring to? The data that Israelites migrated to the Heartland in 600 BC or the data that Israelites migrated to Guatemala in 600 BC?

This isn't a case of different interpretations of the same data. This is a case of two completely different data sets.

I’m talking about data in general. For example, disagreement between respected historians over what different data means is a hallmark of studying history. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
1 hour ago, bluebell said:

I disagree. Disagreement over interpretations of data is the bread and butter of many different disciplines. It doesn’t automatically mean the data is weak or lacking. 

Including interpreting the data on a known set of blueprints to build or remodel a house. Many meetings are held between builder, homeowner and the architects and or the structural engineer to accomplish this. It goes on until the completion of the home and many disagreements are found in the process. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
4 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Because there were several maps and books that predated the publication of the Book of Mormon with variations of NHM in the location where the Book of Mormon locates Nahom. 

Sure Joseph may not have had access to maps and books, but we aren't certain Joseph was the sole author/translator.

I still don't understand.  We're speaking of "evidence," not "certainty."

I asked: "Could you clarify how this is a 'problem with NHM as evidence?' I'm not sure I understand your point."

Is it your position that "evidence" only qualifies as such if it results in unassailable "certainty?"

Thanks,

-Smac

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
On 8/12/2020 at 7:37 PM, Bernard Gui said:

In my experience, the fulfillment of Moroni's promise is the sine qua non of testimony. Alma's experiment goes hand in hand, but without the confirmation of the Spirit, fruit can wither on the vine. Parable of the sower comes to mind.

We had quite the surprise a few months ago. A neighbor who grew up with our older children posted on Facebook that he was getting baptized. What??? He was a wild boy back in the day. We remembered him most as the kid who tormented Bellalindissima at the bus stop every day. He was the youth who had wild parties, fast cars, and rowdy friends. He purchased the family home from his mother. So, he had some bad things happen.... a difficult divorce, one of his best friends and then his mother died from breast cancer within weeks of each other, lots of beer, etc. He was despondent for months. He was looking at Facebook one day when he saw a post from a woman he casually knew in high school. She was also friends with our kids of that age and a former member of our ward. She had had an unfortunate marriage and was divorced. He posted a greeting on her page and they reminisced about high school. After a week or so, they went on a date, then another, and another..... At church one Sunday, her parents took us aside. They said their daughter was dating our neighbor XXXX. What did we know about him? Ummmmmmm.....well, he's a hard worker and a generous neighbor and.....ummmm.

The Church came up and it piqued his interest. She mentioned the Book of Mormon. He asked how he could get one. She gave him her copy. So, as was his wont, he built a big bonfire in the backyard fire pit, got out his lawn chair and a couple of beers, and sat down to look at the book. He started reading. By the third page he looked at the beers and thought they were inappropriate for the occasion.  He poured them on the ground and continued reading. Within minutes he knew without a doubt that what he was reading was true. From that moment he became a different person. That was the last beer he touched. He accepted missionary discussions and started attending church with her. Her daughter was serving a mission in another state. She got permission to teach him the discussions on Skype. He was baptized. His long-estranged father attended the baptism! Several weeks later they were married in their home. They are biding their time waiting to be sealed in the temple. He refers to his wife as His Eternal Bride. He is very vocal about his conversion both on the Internet and in person. He is not the same person we had known all these years. The change has been breathtaking.

No worries.

 

I can agree on the importance of a spiritual confirmation, but it is not enough on its own. Specifically, it is an unreliable measure of the quality or accuracy of information. 

Kindness means that I believe you when you say you've accepted Moroni's challenge and received spiritual confirmation. It also means that I believe others who've had spiritual confirmations of their beliefs, too, including my own. The divergence of ideas among those who testify of their spiritually affirming experiences, and often enough from the same person, tells me that this profession of feeling, this spiritual confirmation, while possibly important for the individual, is not a reliable source of information. It is an indicator of something, to be sure, but not of the quality or accuracy of information.

Also, by the way, even atheists can clean themselves up, quit bad habits, and become better people who value family and marriage and commitment. They can have deeply profound and inspiring experiences. I do.

 

Link to post
8 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

I can agree on the importance of a spiritual confirmation, but it is not enough on its own. Specifically, it is an unreliable measure of the quality or accuracy of information. 

Kindness means that I believe you when you say you've accepted Moroni's challenge and received spiritual confirmation. It also means that I believe others who've had spiritual confirmations of their beliefs, too, including my own. The divergence of ideas among those who testify of their spiritually affirming experiences, and often enough from the same person, tells me that this profession of feeling, this spiritual confirmation, while possibly important for the individual, is not a reliable source of information. It is an indicator of something, to be sure, but not of the quality or accuracy of information.

Also, by the way, even atheists can clean themselves up, quit bad habits, and become better people who value family and marriage and commitment. They can have deeply profound and inspiring experiences. I do.

 

I couldn’t disagree more. It’s the most reliable information I have ever received. And I have received a lot of information.

Edited by Bernard Gui
  • Like 3
Link to post
16 hours ago, bluebell said:

The bolded parts aren't self evident though, they are opinions, which is fine.  We all have our opinions and beliefs on things.  I think they only fall apart when opinion alone is presented as fact.   

I agree with the underlined part.  I think that's why Dallin H. Oaks taught that scholarship, especially as it deals with the BOM, plays an important role in our testimonies. 

On the contrary, the bolded is obvious. The Book of Mormon makes a great many claims for which it does not provide evidence. 

As I said earlier to Calm, there is also something very problematic in the fact that the plates were never made available for public scrutiny and were quickly removed from us ever since. It would be a very discouraging behavior if Joseph Smith hid away the plates and said that God took them. Even worse is if some supernatural power did take them, while then asking us to make do with what was left behind.Neither scenario inspires confidence, and neither seems consistent. 

The Book of Mormon itself is supposed to be a vital record of a people obtaining and maintaining a vital record of their spiritual ancestry! And yet, here we are, without either sets of plates.

Link to post
35 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

I couldn’t disagree more. It’s the most reliable information I have ever received. And I have received a lot of information.

And yet it is only reliable for you. It is not reliable as a source of that same information for many, many others. Which means that it is not reliable in the context that "reliable" is being used in this thread. Many people have testified of their spiritual witnesses, with powerful sincerity, and those witnesses do not agree, not even close.

Edited by Meadowchik
Link to post
4 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

I can agree on the importance of a spiritual confirmation, but it is not enough on its own.

Agreed.  "And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith."  (D&C 109:7)

Quote

Specifically, it is an unreliable measure of the quality or accuracy of information.

I'm not sure what you mean by "information."

I think the Spirit is reliable for its intended purposes, and when used in its intended context.

Quote

Kindness means that I believe you when you say you've accepted Moroni's challenge and received spiritual confirmation. It also means that I believe others who've had spiritual confirmations of their beliefs, too, including my own. The divergence of ideas among those who testify of their spiritually affirming experiences, and often enough from the same person, tells me that this profession of feeling, this spiritual confirmation, while possibly important for the individual, is not a reliable source of information. It is an indicator of something, to be sure, but not of the quality or accuracy of information.

I think it is.  Consider these remarks by Michael Ash:

Quote

In a previous installment I explained that Roman Catholics take a three-legged tripod-like approach to determining truth—Scripture, Tradition, and the Pope. I believe that we Latter-day Saints are asked to take a four-legged approach to truth, like the four legs of a stool. These would include: Scripture, Prophets, Personal Revelation, and Reason. By utilizing the methodologies for all four of these tools, we have a better chance of accurately determining what is true.

"The Spirit told me _________," taken in isolation, will often not be sufficient.  The above "four-legged approach" substantially improves our ability to discern and accept truth.

Quote

Also, by the way, even atheists can clean themselves up, quit bad habits, and become better people who value family and marriage and commitment. They can have deeply profound and inspiring experiences. I do.

I agree.  I think we are hard-wired to pursue "deeply profound and inspiring experiences."  I think that's part of the plan.  From 2 Nephi 28 :

Quote

31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.
32 Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts.

This is strongly-worded.  We all stray, we all need to "repent and come unto" the Savior.  However, during that period, His "arm is lengthened out all the day long."  

Isaiah 54 also has some meaning for me.

Quote

 

7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.

 

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
  • Like 2
Link to post
15 hours ago, webbles said:

But that 16th century person would still have to have gotten the original history from the Americas. 

Why the Americas?  Don't we have a believer among us right now who advocates for a south Asian location for the BOM?  

15 hours ago, webbles said:

And the chance that a 16th century person would be able to translate the text is really small.  Unless we also say that it wasn't a written history, and instead it is an oral history.

Unfortunaely, if Joseph Smith created the english BoM in the fashion he claimed, it is simply an oral history.  There is no direct tie to the plates, and the witnesses suggest he didn't ocnsult the plates when he dictated the words.  Perhaps the stories that we call the BoM weren't written down until the 1820s something, to begin with.  

15 hours ago, webbles said:

  But an oral history wouldn't sound like the Book of Mormon so who ever wrote it down would have had to have re-structured the text and at that point, how much of the original oral history can we depend on?  That doesn't sound like believing in the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

Yes, well.  we have zero amount of the BoM we can depend on now.  We simply either accept it on faith or reject it on reason.  That's not to say, of course, that there aren't people who fall in between somewhere, but that's where we are, it seems to me.  All this linguistics claims by Gardner and Smith notwithstanding.  

Link to post
14 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You are confusing science with faith.  Science is not based on faith or ghosts, and cannot deal with such subjects.  You are making a category mistake.

No you are misunderstanding me.  But what of it?  No big deal.  

14 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

No.  I'm saying that hard science and logic verify the existence of a particular set of facts in a particular place and time.  There are dozens of such correlations which depend solely upon science and logic.  All of that can be dismissed by a nonchalant wave of the hand, but that is not the same as taking it seriously.

To me, we haven't really gotten anywhere.  To ask for evidence and get a sophisticated sounding argument about how it's possible because I mean anything is possible isn't employing science and logic.  I'd wonder if such a position is taking it seriously. The request is simply one piece of evidence.  The response has been, essentially, well it's comp;icated.  You can't really ask for evidence because doing so is just really ignorant.  But if you want to know, you have to read this book which argues it's possible, by the end of it. with that, you can't really declare there's no evidence because it's really possible if you make a few assumptions, accept a few coincidences as unique, and all of that.  

To me, that's simply confusing the reality.   

14 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

It shouldn't matter, but in the real world it matters to those who are bigoted or suspicious about motives.

If you say so.  It's apparent to me, that without peer review, arguments struggle.  This whole argument with linguistics is a tough one, only in that if it can't really be verified by experts, its hanging out there.  That's why Carmack's take is so unconvincing.  It simply hasn't been scientific.  I don't really see how some weights and measures seeming parallel means much of anything, particularly if it appears the measures are all bent to fit each other.  

Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...