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Book of Mormon Historicity


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4 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

Well any plates could do.  If inspired, the plates need not contain the story found in the BoM.  I thought we were disagreeing whether the story in the BoM could be historical if one does not believe in God?  Or am I missing something?  

No they don't.  They can be considered but also seen, kind of like many apologists do at times with his view, as Joseph didn't really know if it was God or if God was imagined.  Since no God it's likely its imagined even if inspired.  

That's a lack of imagination it seems to me.  Inspiration need not be limited to coming from God. 

That's the point.  Anything is possible.  Atheist simply means one is not convinced there is a God.  

It feels like we aren't talking about the same thing.  My original question is "Can someone believe the Book of Mormon to be historical and also not believe in God or angels?"  That means that the Book of Mormon is an actual historical document that was written by real life humans between 600BC and 400AD.

I think everyone agrees that Joseph Smith did not have the ability to translate anything like the Book of Mormon?  So, if there isn't a God or angels, then his story is invalid because he couldn't have translated it.  Saying he was "inspired" doesn't help because inspiration wouldn't produce an actual historical document.  If God/angels don't exist, then no one can be inspired to create an actual historical document out of thin air.

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5 hours ago, webbles said:

It feels like we aren't talking about the same thing.  My original question is "Can someone believe the Book of Mormon to be historical and also not believe in God or angels?"  That means that the Book of Mormon is an actual historical document that was written by real life humans between 600BC and 400AD.

I think everyone agrees that Joseph Smith did not have the ability to translate anything like the Book of Mormon?  So, if there isn't a God or angels, then his story is invalid because he couldn't have translated it.  Saying he was "inspired" doesn't help because inspiration wouldn't produce an actual historical document.  If God/angels don't exist, then no one can be inspired to create an actual historical document out of thin air.

If the BOM is historical, Reformed Egyptian was real written language.  There’s no way it would have been translated without revelation.

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On 8/13/2020 at 6:01 PM, 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.   

early button push...will correct...

 

Edited by Meadowchik
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On 8/12/2020 at 1:32 AM, Brant Gardner said:

Why was Dr. Jenkins' request for a single Nephite artifact not a reasonable question? Because it fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the available evidence. if someone were to try to determine my religion from the car I drive, the architecture of my house, the brand of my computer, or any number of physical artifacts, what might someone conclude?

Wouldn't the physical artifacts found in your car and and home (I'm thinking of that Greg Olsen painting of Christ that hangs above all our pianos) be enough to make a pretty good guess about your religion? I'm always surprised by how easy it is to identify a Mormon being interviewed on TV just by seeing the things on their walls and shelves in the background.

How do we explain all these new LiDar discoveries that date to the Book of Mormon that haven't yet revealed any evidence of a semitic or egyptian script or any of the physical artifacts that the Book of Mormon describes? If these cities have been hidden and unlooted for 1600 years, wouldn't we be finding at least one artifact that we know would have been in a Nephite home, iron and steel weapons for example? 

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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On 8/14/2020 at 6:22 PM, bluebell said:

There's a difference between providing no evidence and providing no evidence that you find compelling.  I think you are confusing the two.  The BOM does provide evidence, both spiritual and physical.  That you don't find it compelling doesn't mean no one does.  It's your opinion, it's not a fact.

Again though, this is your opinion, it's not a fact.  There are many millions of people that don't find it problematic. 

Yes, if JS was lying it would be very discouraging.

According to you (not saying that snarkily, just emphasizing my point).  Like I said, we all have our own personal beliefs and opinions and I'm fine with your's but that's all it is, opinion.  It doesn't deserve more weight than that.  Millions of people disagree with you.  I personally find it extremely consistent with how God operates.

Yes, faith can be hard.  I agree that religion and spiritual things would seem much easier if that wasn't the case.

So I had just said that the BOM lacks self-awareness, clarifying that it makes many claims without providing sufficient evidence. I really like what you say here in the bolded, and I think it says even more clearly part of what I was trying to convey. The Book of Mormon presents opinions as fact.

Then, through Moroni’s challenge, it goes further and presents an opinion-forming process as a fact-checking process.

"I think they only fall apart when opinion alone is presented as fact."

The Book of Mormon does this over and over again implicitly, and then formalizes this habit explicitly in Moroni’s challenge.

We can see this behavior repeated in the early church, adopted into Mormonism, and continuing to this day.

“I know the church is true” is a common example of this habit.

And this behavior is more than just an innocent diversion, it has real-world impact beyond personal belief.

Going back to what I said earlier,

I would say that the sermon on faith would be quite complete with a fuller, clearer appreciation of science and reason. On the other hand, Moroni's promise tends to a very lopsided reliance on feelings, which of course can be extremely faulty, much moreso than science and reasoned study of all kinds.

And so, although an affirmative physical evidence would not be enough (since it obviously cannot confirm claims of a supernatural nature), it is still integral to good belief. You may not need science to believe in an afterlife, but I am going to assume you use science to great benefit, including in your attempts to live a life that would be closer to the Giver of Eternal Life. Is that assumption wrong?

Adding to that, I would also contemplate the ramifications of institutionalised, dogmatised habit described above. What happens when opinions are formalized as fact? What happens when those opinions are finally untenable and must be abandoned?

I think it causes divisions and strife and delays, not to mention the harm itself of the bad information.

What happens spiritually, when one is taught to think of opinions as fact? How does that impact relationships? In my opinion, this is a danger that humanity has suffered under repeatedly, but we advance when we learn to manage our opinions better. Using the terms of therapy, it is like the difference between enmeshment and differentiation where differentiation is healthier, but in the realm of intellect, philosophy, scholarship, and spirituality.

Edited by Meadowchik
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12 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Greg Olsen painting of Christ

I don’t know about the US, but while we were living in Canada Olsen was the number one Christian artist for the country according to an art dealer who stopped by our LDS bookstore to pick up some art as he had run out (probably during the holiday shopping season).

A couple a months ago I had the weird experience of seeing a red robe Christ (Del Parson iirc) in a small rooftop apartment in a Korean drama. I don’t remember that a point was made the resident was Christian or not...often the set designs mix several different religions’ symbols and characters may attend Christian churches while using talismans, etc., but she was definitely not a Latter-day Saint by behaviour or anything else. 
 

A lot of the Christ centered art we see in our church context is used by nonLDS Christians, so there would need to be more than just that to signal ‘Latter-day Saint lives here’.

Edited by Calm
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4 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

Now to LiDar. it appears that you don't quite understand what it is and what it does. It can peer below the canopy to find large man-made structures, including dimensions and height. It doesn't come close to identifying tools. It would be something like saying that satellite pictures can show us neighborhoods, but you can't tell from the rooftops which ones are Mormon--and therefore none of them are. Right tool, wrong use.

I'm referring to the excavations of those complexes discovered by lidar. 

4 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

You can identify a Mormon by their trappings if and only if you already know that the complex identifies a Mormon. If you only know that it represents a religious belief and don't have a name to it, what happens when that complex is called by a different name? 

Is the expectation that excavations reveal Nephite artifacts, but since we have no way to know what a Nephite artifact would look like, the archeologists mistakenly identify the artifacts as Mayan? Just trying to understand, are we saying that the Jaredites, Mulekites and Lehites were the Olmecs and the Maya, or that the Jaredites, Mulekites and Lehites lived among the Olmecs and the Maya but we can't distinguish them from the Olmecs and Maya?

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6 hours ago, Calm said:

A lot of the Christ centered art we see in our church context is used by nonLDS Christians, so there would need to be more than just that to signal ‘Latter-day Saint lives here’.

I've always wondered why, if the Nephites and Maya shared the same space there wasn't more sharing between the two. The benefits of writing in reformed egyptian on metal plates for example. Wheels. Metallurgy. Swords. Building of ships big enough to carry hundreds of people. All the things the Jaredites, Mulekites and Lehites would have known but didn't pass along to the Olmecs and the Maya.

And then the Nephites never mention the Maya or anything that looks like Mayan artifacts or technology. Wouldn't there be more sharing if they were in the same space for 1000 years?

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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1 hour ago, Rajah Manchou said:

I'm referring to the excavations of those complexes discovered by lidar. 

Is the expectation that excavations reveal Nephite artifacts, but since we have no way to know what a Nephite artifact would look like, the archeologists mistakenly identify the artifacts as Mayan? Just trying to understand, are we saying that the Jaredites, Mulekites and Lehites were the Olmecs and the Maya, or that the Jaredites, Mulekites and Lehites lived among the Olmecs and the Maya but we can't distinguish them from the Olmecs and Maya?

I'm no scholar but I think the Jaredites were the Olmecs and the Nephites, Mulekites and Lamanites lived among the Mayans. 

Edited by rodheadlee
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59 minutes ago, rodheadlee said:

I'm no scholar but I think the Jaredites were the Olmecs and the Nephites, Mulekites and Lamanites lived among the Mayans. 

Are the Mayans in the Book of Mormon?  Did the Mayans assimilate to BOM peoples’ civilization or the other way around? Or did the Maya live in their own separate cities from BOM people?  Were the Maya actually called Maya or is that name given to them later on?

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23 minutes ago, Rivers said:

Are the Mayans in the Book of Mormon?  Did the Mayans assimilate to BOM peoples’ civilization or the other way around? Or did the Maya live in their own separate cities from BOM people?  Were the Maya actually called Maya or is that name given to them later on?

Mayan is a name given to a group of polities by modern people. Wikipedia has a pretty good section on that part of your questions. They were already there when Nephi showed up. I would say the lamanites lived among the Mayans in their own cities and the early Nephites probably live separate in the beginning. I just have a high school level of Education and I got to go find my cat. I'll talk to you later. I found my cat. I have to bring them in when it gets dark or the critters will get him, coyotes and birds of prey. Remember in the book of Jacob I believe everyone who is not a Nephite is called a Lamanite. 

Edited by rodheadlee
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2 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

I've always wondered why, if the Nephites and Maya shared the same space there wasn't more sharing between the two. The benefits of writing in reformed egyptian on metal plates for example. Wheels. Metallurgy. Swords. Building of ships big enough to carry hundreds of people. All the things the Jaredites, Mulekites and Lehites would have known but didn't pass along to the Olmecs and the Maya.

And then the Nephites never mention the Maya or anything that looks like Mayan artifacts or technology. Wouldn't there be more sharing if they were in the same space for 1000 years?

Since we only have a bare minimum of the knowledge of what "reformed egyptian" even looks like, why can't "reformed egyptian" be one of the actual languages that has been found in the Americas?

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25 minutes ago, webbles said:

Since we only have a bare minimum of the knowledge of what "reformed egyptian" even looks like, why can't "reformed egyptian" be one of the actual languages that has been found in the Americas?

There's also little reason to believe that Reformed Egyptian would really have persisted as a public language. Benjamin makes a point of ensuring that his sons know it, which indicates that it had passed from normal circulation by his day. That's probably also connected to the fact that Benjamin was the first to receive the plates from the Jacobean line of record-keepers. From then on, the record passes in the line of Alma from keeper to keeper, with each one being specifically trained for the purpose. When the plates leave the Almaic line, they go to Mormon, who was already becoming "learned after the manner of [his] people" by the age of 10. Mormon stresses being "a pure descendant of Nephi" several times in the context of his introductions. It seems that the plates, and the language that went with them, constituted an object of family heritage like the brass plates had. They were as much heirlooms as they were artifacts. The language need not have persisted much farther than that. It's likely that they would have adopted the artistic styles of surrounding cultures for their material culture and artistic choices, especially since, as I recall, there's not much writing on an Israelite temple. 

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For the record, Meadowchik, my opinions can certainly be taken as fact. You can’t go wrong. 😋
 

There is a great deal of circumstantial evidence about the historicity of the BoM. I won’t go into that, since it’s not conclusive, of course. 
But one can gain a testimony of the book by using circumstantial evidence in conjunction with Moroni’s admonition to gain the spiritual knowledge necessary. Prayer is the only conclusive way to expand our knowledge of the BoM. 

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1 hour ago, Rivers said:

Are the Mayans in the Book of Mormon?  Did the Mayans assimilate to BOM peoples’ civilization or the other way around? Or did the Maya live in their own separate cities from BOM people?  Were the Maya actually called Maya or is that name given to them later on?

Who knows?  I personally like South America as the BoM location.  A book has been written about this, and it’s fairly convincing. 
Clearly, the fact that the Spanish met two or three highly advanced civilizations in the New World and that it was obvious that they descended from perhaps equal or even higher civilizations is circumstantial evidence of the possibility of a highly civilized group of immigrants could exist. 

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1 hour ago, webbles said:

Since we only have a bare minimum of the knowledge of what "reformed egyptian" even looks like, why can't "reformed egyptian" be one of the actual languages that has been found in the Americas?

Reformed egyptian would look semitic + egyptian. There's not much of that if any in the Mayan languages.

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1 hour ago, OGHoosier said:

The language need not have persisted much farther than that. It's likely that they would have adopted the artistic styles of surrounding cultures for their material culture and artistic choices, especially since, as I recall, there's not much writing on an Israelite temple. 

Is it possible that a pure semitic language persists for 1000 years in a culture that externally appears 100% Maya without any Mayan influencing the language?

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3 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Reformed egyptian would look semitic + egyptian. There's not much of that if any in the Mayan languages.

Where does it say that it in the Book of Mormon?  The only verse I know of that uses the term "reformed egyptian" is Mormon 9:32.  That is almost 1,000 years from the time of Lehi.  The likelihood that Mormon's "reformed egyptian" is anything like a semetic + egyptian language feels really small.

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13 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Is it possible that a pure semitic language persists for 1000 years in a culture that externally appears 100% Maya without any Mayan influencing the language?

It's unlikely. "The Hebrew hath been changed by us also" leads me to think that the Reformed Egyptian also evolved, though it retained enough continuity for Mormon to understand what was on the small plates. The point is that it would be unlikely for us to find extant Reformed Egyptian, since it seems to primarily have been a priestly language and, in all likelihood, was only a dominant script during the early period of Nephite residence in the New World, when they were still very Judaic in their worship. Like I said, I don't think Hebrew temples have much writing on them, if the biblical descriptions are anything to go by, and it's debatable whether or not any Jewish style temples in the Land of Nephi would even survive the hundreds of years of Lamanite occupation in order to leave us a text. 

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43 minutes ago, webbles said:

Where does it say that it in the Book of Mormon?  The only verse I know of that uses the term "reformed egyptian" is Mormon 9:32.  That is almost 1,000 years from the time of Lehi.  The likelihood that Mormon's "reformed egyptian" is anything like a semetic + egyptian language feels really small.

I'd always assumed that Nephi used the same reformed egyptian as Moroni. Is that not the case? He does say they altered it. But that raises the question if they were altering it, wouldn't they be altering because Mayan influence? 

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32 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

I'd always assumed that Nephi used the same reformed egyptian as Moroni. Is that not the case? He does say they altered it. But that raises the question if they were altering it, wouldn't they be altering because Mayan influence? 

Mayan or Izapan or some other regional culture group, yes. I'd think so. Which raises the intriguing possibility that the small plates record of Nephi had a few more links in the chain of transmission than we have previously thought. 

 

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1 hour ago, OGHoosier said:

Mayan or Izapan or some other regional culture group, yes. I'd think so. Which raises the intriguing possibility that the small plates record of Nephi had a few more links in the chain of transmission than we have previously thought. 

Moroni said "none other people knoweth our language". Unless by "our" he means the few trained scribes that knew reformed egyptian, this sounds to me like all 5th century Nephites spoke a language that nobody else knew. It wasn't Hebrew or Egyptian or Aramaic, Mayan or otherwise. It was unique to the Nephites.

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7 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

I'd always assumed that Nephi used the same reformed egyptian as Moroni. Is that not the case? He does say they altered it. But that raises the question if they were altering it, wouldn't they be altering because Mayan influence? 

I don't see why Nephi and Moroni would have used the same language.  Mormon 9:32 says "called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us,".  I've read that as Mormon saying that it has been altered over the centuries from when they first got it.  It doesn't even say when or where they first got it, so it could have come from Lehi, it could have come from the Mulekites, it could have come from those that were already in the Americas.

I'm also not exactly sure if Mormon could read the original small plates without the use of the seer stones.  Take English.  Go back 1000 years and you'll get English that looks like

Beowulf.Kenning.jpg

That is from Beowulf (the image comes from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_English#/media/File:Beowulf.Kenning.jpg).  I'm a native English speaker but I have no idea how to read that.  According to wikipedia:

Quote

A detail of the first page of the Beowulf manuscript, showing the words "ofer hron rade", translated as "over the whale's road (sea)". It is an example of an Old English stylistic device, the kenning.

So, not only are the characters different from what I would expect (see the 'r') but the actual words don't make any sense ("ofer" maybe is "over" but what is hron or rade?).

I just don't see how the same language from 1000 years ago could stay the same for that long.  Especially when the Book of Mormon mentions encountering at least two civilizations that had different languages (Mulekites in Omni 1:18 and Lamanites in Mosiah 24:4).

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6 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Moroni said "none other people knoweth our language". Unless by "our" he means the few trained scribes that knew reformed egyptian, this sounds to me like all 5th century Nephites spoke a language that nobody else knew. It wasn't Hebrew or Egyptian or Aramaic, Mayan or otherwise. It was unique to the Nephites.

The 5th century Nephites are basically identical to the 5th century Lamanites and they are basically identical to any other group in the area.  4 Nephi 1:17 has everyone in that area become "one".  So they would all have the same language.  And then 4 Nephi 1:20 has the Lamanites splitting off because of religious differences (roughly 200AD).

So I read that as talking about people that he's never met, such as people from across the sea.

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