Jump to content

Book of Mormon Historicity


Recommended Posts

14 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

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

It is certainly hoped that there will be some, but very few (if any). It costs money, and there isn't much of it. Most of those discoveries will remain LiDar data and never be excavated (at least in our lifetimes).

Quote

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?

My understanding is that the Book of Mormon peoples intermixed early with native populations that were already established. Given the differences in flora and fauna, it was important to adopt the native understanding pretty quickly in order to survive. This also lead to the adoption of the common styles for objects.

Archaeologist John Clark said pretty much what you just did. There are Nephite artifacts in many museums, but they are called by the collectives for their cultures, such as Olmec and Maya.

  • Like 4
Link to post
On 8/15/2020 at 2:06 AM, Meadowchik said:

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.

Our main disagreement, and I'm sorry if I was confusing and didn't make it clear, is that you believe that spiritual revelation is an opinion and I don't believe that it is.  That's probably all that needs to be said on the subject because we won't ever convince the other that they are wrong, and there's little reason to argue about it repeatedly. :) 

Link to post
21 minutes ago, bluebell said:

Our main disagreement, and I'm sorry if I was confusing and didn't make it clear, is that you believe that spiritual revelation is an opinion and I don't believe that it is.  That's probably all that needs to be said on the subject because we won't ever convince the other that they are wrong, and there's little reason to argue about it repeatedly. :) 

Obviously from my last reply there's loads to be said on the subject, be one a believer in Mormonism or not. But we need not discuss it further together. I really appreciate your conversation and it has helped me clarify my thoughts, so thank you.

Just to be clear, I did not say personal revelation is an opinion. I've felt what I believed to be personal revelation about high school chemistry. That, to me, is one of the best spiritual experiences ever, and it can be consistent with science and reason, and be more than opinion! :)

Where opinion comes in with personal revelation is that it's only the recipient who gets to identify it. It's their opinion that they've received personal revelation and it is just simple and basic kindness to accept that they believe it is so when they say it is, inasmuch at least as it does not infringe upon our own agency.

I think it's fair to say we all know someone or of someone who believes they have received "personal revelation" that we cannot accept as godly or inspired, even if out of respect we keep that opinion to ourselves. 

So whatever that feeling is that I felt in chemistry class, I believe it can exist and it can reveal information that is very good or important to us. It's identifying it that is trickier. We might be experiencing a powerful feeling or thought that is based on the truth, or it could just be a feeling with little or no connection to the idea at hand.

 

Edited by Meadowchik
  • Like 1
Link to post
On 8/14/2020 at 2:01 PM, smac97 said:

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)

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.

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

"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.

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 :

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.

Thanks,

-Smac

I can appreciate all that, despite the underlying assumptions built into it. You're going from a believing perspective and I am not. I don't consider straying from the church as necessarily straying from the truth.

The question about information is important, isn't it? What can revelation tell us exactly? According to Mormonism, it can tell us anything and everything that is true, right?

I'm glad we agree that multi-legged approach is important. We may, however, disagree on the default leg(s) when all are not available, however.

Link to post
1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

I can appreciate all that, despite the underlying assumptions built into it. You're going from a believing perspective and I am not. I don't consider straying from the church as necessarily straying from the truth.

The question about information is important, isn't it? What can revelation tell us exactly? According to Mormonism, it can tell us anything and everything that is true, right?

Broadly speaking, yes.  Takes a while to get there, though.  I think it's often more a means of discerning and confirming truth, rather than serving "truth" up to us a on a silver platter.

1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

I'm glad we agree that multi-legged approach is important. We may, however, disagree on the default leg(s) when all are not available, however.

Sure.

Thanks,

-Smac

  • Like 1
Link to post
6 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Obviously from my last reply there's loads to be said on the subject, be one a believer in Mormonism or not. But we need not discuss it further together. I really appreciate your conversation and it has helped me clarify my thoughts, so thank you.

Just to be clear, I did not say personal revelation is an opinion. I've felt what I believed to be personal revelation about high school chemistry. That, to me, is one of the best spiritual experiences ever, and it can be consistent with science and reason, and be more than opinion! :)

Where opinion comes in with personal revelation is that it's only the recipient who gets to identify it. It's their opinion that they've received personal revelation and it is just simple and basic kindness to accept that they believe it is so when they say it is, inasmuch at least as it does not infringe upon our own agency.

I think it's fair to say we all know someone or of someone who believes they have received "personal revelation" that we cannot accept as godly or inspired, even if out of respect we keep that opinion to ourselves. 

So whatever that feeling is that I felt in chemistry class, I believe it can exist and it can reveal information that is very good or important to us. It's identifying it that is trickier. We might be experiencing a powerful feeling or thought that is based on the truth, or it could just be a feeling with little or no connection to the idea at hand.

 

The bolded is so true, but it doesn't mean that personal revelation cannot be fact, it just means that it's not infallible.  

  • Like 1
Link to post
8 hours ago, bluebell said:

The bolded is so true, but it doesn't mean that personal revelation cannot be fact, it just means that it's not infallible.  

So how does the individual check themselves to be sure? Say you want to buy a house and you've studied, prayed, and had great feelings about it.

This is a big commitment, though, so what do you do to ensure that the good prayerful feelings are based on the fact of it being a good decision, and are not just fallible perception?

I am guessing that you do more than just pray and seek revelation, right? 

Going further, suppose you're being very circumspect about the house, financially and so forth. You've found several concrete  "deal-breakers" and start looking elsewhere. Yet you keep praying and you feel very clearly that it's still the house to buy despite the red flags.

What is the "fact" in this case? It sounds like you are saying that, because of revelation, that in such a case it is a fact that you should buy this house. Is that what you're saying?

I'm saying that, if I had this experience I would not describe those impressions that I should buy the house as fact. It is a fact that I had such feelings, though. It is only an opinion that the feelings reveal truth about the house purchase.

So when talking about claims like the Book of Mormon, there is a common LDS habit to talk about those impressions as more than they are. People say "I know," but I think that does damage. It is imo much better to be clear in our own minds and also in our communications by instead saying, "I believe."

 

Edited by Meadowchik
  • Like 1
Link to post
On 8/11/2020 at 5:07 PM, CA Steve said:

If the best evidence for a 1000 year civilization in the New World is a tribal name located in the Old World comprised of three similar consonants  to a place name in the BoM, which is located on the coast where constructing a transoceanic vessel  looks impossible due to available resources, that seems to be a problem.

Yes, and the modern producers of the Book of Mormon chose to remove the most important, potential evidence for it. Why? 

Link to post

It remains odd, though...we have a claim on the table and those who support the claim do not supply evidence for the claim and in the place of meeting their burden argue, essentially, "evidence is not a reasonable request to support the claim".  I suppose its kind of par for the course, when you point this out and get in response, essentially: "well their is evidence, but you simply have to accept one ton of assumptions.  And once you do that, then all the assumptions added together really start to appear like evidence...so that's evidence".   hm....it's hard to know where to go from here.  

 

 

Link to post
15 minutes ago, Brant Gardner said:

It remains odd, though. . . after the various explanations that there is evidence, that you continue to suggest that there is not--without doing any of the work that would allow you to make an informed decision. "Evidence is not a reasonable request to support the claim" is not an accurate summation. The correct summary would be "one piece of evidence is not a reasonable request" and the reason is the nature of the evidence. At least in my responses,  I have not suggested that there is no evidence, but rather than there is a lot of evidence of the type that is used to make historical arguments. I agree that it is hard to know where to go from here when you insist on misreading or misinterpreting the responses to your question, and you seem completely unwilling to actually do any research to support your assertions.

Now, what about those assumptions that have to be made? I suggest that there are no assumptions being made that are not standard operating procedure in dealing with textual evidence that must be compared to archaeology. There are no assumptions that are not common to the field of ethnohistory. On the other hand, you continue to present your assumptions as thought they necessarily have weight because they are yours. I find that thin evidence and it would be unacceptable in a paper on a historical subject.

Perhaps Mr. Stemelbow isn't understanding you because usually one looks at the archeology first and sees where it logically takes them.  If it shows that the native americans developed on their own, without the aid of ancient israelites, then the book of mormon claims are discarded.  You, however, look to see if you can find the book of mormon in the archeology and use your findings as evidence for historicity?  But doesn't that require presumption that the book of mormon is true or a hope that it is true prior to starting the exercise?

Link to post
16 minutes ago, Robert J Anderson said:

Perhaps Mr. Stemelbow isn't understanding you because usually one looks at the archeology first and sees where it logically takes them.  If it shows that the native americans developed on their own, without the aid of ancient israelites, then the book of mormon claims are discarded.  You, however, look to see if you can find the book of mormon in the archeology and use your findings as evidence for historicity?  But doesn't that require presumption that the book of mormon is true or a hope that it is true prior to starting the exercise?

The rhetoric of "see where it logically takes them" is so misplaced when it comes to archaeology. A pottery fragment does not self-identify or self-authenticate and its provenance is not self-evident. What we claim to know about it is in essence what we assume about it based on prior information. Archaeology can only built on prior assumptions about an area and correspondence with texts, which we don't have for sure from Mesoamerica but might in the Book of Mormon. When dealing with a text of unknown origin it is prudent to examine one's expectations and then see if the evidence compares profitably with the text's claims. 

Quote

If it shows that the native americans developed on their own, without the aid of ancient israelites

Everyone in the ancient world is presumed to be a native American regardless of their original provenance. How would you tell the difference without the texts that ground archaeology in history? The point, which you seem to be missing, is that the archaeology can only tell us so much about the world without corresponding texts. The names we attach to most of these civilizations are not the names they went by, we don't even know that. Is a Nephite any less a Nephite because unaware scholars 2000 years in the future call him an Izapan or Chiapan?

  • Like 2
Link to post
47 minutes ago, Brant Gardner said:

It remains odd, though. . . after the various explanations that there is evidence, that you continue to suggest that there is not--without doing any of the work that would allow you to make an informed decision. "Evidence is not a reasonable request to support the claim" is not an accurate summation. The correct summary would be "one piece of evidence is not a reasonable request" and the reason is the nature of the evidence. At least in my responses,  I have not suggested that there is no evidence, but rather than there is a lot of evidence of the type that is used to make historical arguments. I agree that it is hard to know where to go from here when you insist on misreading or misinterpreting the responses to your question, and you seem completely unwilling to actually do any research to support your assertions.

 

47 minutes ago, Brant Gardner said:

Now, what about those assumptions that have to be made? I suggest that there are no assumptions being made that are not standard operating procedure in dealing with textual evidence that must be compared to archaeology. There are no assumptions that are not common to the field of ethnohistory. On the other hand, you continue to present your assumptions as thought they necessarily have weight because they are yours. I find that thin evidence and it would be unacceptable in a paper on a historical subject.

I freely admit, I do not see the explanations you have offered as evidence, but rather an appeal to holding certain assumptions as being reasonable in order to create space to accept other propositions.  First, if we're talking about ancient times, we're talking about where?  As it seems evident the first assumption is where we are locating this whole story.  As @Raja Manchou has pointed out, to him, the best and only fit is found in the Malay Peninsula.  You seem to think "well no, our assumption must be somewhere in Central America."  It does feel, as @Robert J Anderson pointed out, that you are going at it backwards--trying to find out how the BoM could possibly be found in Sorenson's model of BoM locating.  I don't fault you, necessarily.  I mean what else might someone do in such a situation?  But the problem is, it seems to me, the adding of these assumptions doesn't amount to evidence.  If it ever does, you may have blazed a trail, or been a part of blazing, but until it does amount to evidence it doesn't appear there is any.  We can't, as you point out, even start with one item we call evidence.  

Link to post
10 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

So how does the individual check themselves to be sure? Say you want to buy a house and you've studied, prayed, and had great feelings about it.

This is a big commitment, though, so what do you do to ensure that the good prayerful feelings are based on the fact of it being a good decision, and are not just fallible perception?

I am guessing that you do more than just pray and seek revelation, right? 

Going further, suppose you're being very circumspect about the house, financially and so forth. You've found several concrete  "deal-breakers" and start looking elsewhere. Yet you keep praying and you feel very clearly that it's still the house to buy despite the red flags.

What is the "fact" in this case? It sounds like you are saying that, because of revelation, that in such a case it is a fact that you should buy this house. Is that what you're saying?

I'm saying that, if I had this experience I would not describe those impressions that I should buy the house as fact. It is a fact that I had such feelings, though. It is only an opinion that the feelings reveal truth about the house purchase.

So when talking about claims like the Book of Mormon, there is a common LDS habit to talk about those impressions as more than they are. People say "I know," but I think that does damage. It is imo much better to be clear in our own minds and also in our communications by instead saying, "I believe."

 

To the bold--No, I'm not saying that.  I'm saying that our fallibility in working with the process does not negate the process's ability to provide truth (or facts).  

To the underlined--sometimes, sure.  Just like sometimes it's probably does damage for someone to say "I know that my spouse loves me" when it's likely more accurate to say "I believe my spouse loves me."  Is that true for everyone though?  No.  Sometimes people really do know things that cannot be proven to other people.  While a divorced person might feel very strongly that no one can know their spouse loves them, that is more their personal experiences and biases talking than anything factual or accurate.

I think it's damaging (to us and to others) to believe that if we don't know something then no one can know it.  We aren't the standard for finding or knowing truth.  Some people really can say "I know my spouse loves me" just like some people really can say "I know the BOM is a true record."    

  • Like 2
Link to post
13 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

The rhetoric of "see where it logically takes them" is so misplaced when it comes to archaeology. A pottery fragment does not self-identify or self-authenticate and its provenance is not self-evident. What we claim to know about it is in essence what we assume about it based on prior information. Archaeology can only built on prior assumptions about an area and correspondence with texts, which we don't have for sure from Mesoamerica but might in the Book of Mormon. When dealing with a text of unknown origin it is prudent to examine one's expectations and then see if the evidence compares profitably with the text's claims. 

And I do believe as we determine those expectations the BoM comes up short.  That there is some amount of "well it's possible, if we see it this certain way..."  but the problem remains.  It can be possible elsewhere on the planet if "this certain way..." is considered.  That doesn't supply evidence for historicity in my mind.  I odn't know how it could.  

13 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

Everyone in the ancient world is presumed to be a native American regardless of their original provenance. How would you tell the difference without the texts that ground archaeology in history? The point, which you seem to be missing, is that the archaeology can only tell us so much about the world without corresponding texts. The names we attach to most of these civilizations are not the names they went by, we don't even know that. Is a Nephite any less a Nephite because unaware scholars 2000 years in the future call him an Izapan or Chiapan?

Again...this amounts to "requesting evidence for the claim is not reasonable".  The burden remains on providing evidence for the claim.  Arguing "we can't supply evidence for the claim" is not doing anything but pointing out there is no evidence to support the claim for historicity, it seems to me.  And that's a fair conclusion at this point.  

Link to post
36 minutes ago, bluebell said:

To the bold--No, I'm not saying that.  I'm saying that our fallibility in working with the process does not negate the process's ability to provide truth (or facts).  

To the underlined--sometimes, sure.  Just like sometimes it's probably does damage for someone to say "I know that my spouse loves me" when it's likely more accurate to say "I believe my spouse loves me."  Is that true for everyone though?  No.  Sometimes people really do know things that cannot be proven to other people.  While a divorced person might feel very strongly that no one can know their spouse loves them, that is more their personal experiences and biases talking than anything factual or accurate.

I think it's damaging (to us and to others) to believe that if we don't know something then no one can know it.  We aren't the standard for finding or knowing truth.  Some people really can say "I know my spouse loves me" just like some people really can say "I know the BOM is a true record."    

When and how does a person know that they really know that "the Book of Mormon is a true record," as opposed to the people who just say or think that they know?

 

Link to post
6 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

When and how does a person know that they really know that "the Book of Mormon is a true record," as opposed to the people who just say or think that they know?

 

That's a good question, with no easy answer. 

Every person is so different, with their individual hurts, trama, experiences, joys, emotional baggage, background, way of thinking, perceptions, biases, etc., and all of that, for good and bad, impacts their ability to know different things (whether the subject is love or religion or anything else).  A good bias can convince a person that something isn't true when it is, or that something is true when it isn't, all on its own.  Add in everything else that filters the interpretation of our experiences, and it can get messy. 

I think that Alma 32 is probably the best explanation of the difference between believe and know, and what knowledge looks like.  It's not foolproof, because nothing is (because our biases and baggage affect even this), but it's a good place to start. 

 

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

The rhetoric of "see where it logically takes them" is so misplaced when it comes to archaeology. A pottery fragment does not self-identify or self-authenticate and its provenance is not self-evident. What we claim to know about it is in essence what we assume about it based on prior information. Archaeology can only built on prior assumptions about an area and correspondence with texts, which we don't have for sure from Mesoamerica but might in the Book of Mormon. When dealing with a text of unknown origin it is prudent to examine one's expectations and then see if the evidence compares profitably with the text's claims. 

Everyone in the ancient world is presumed to be a native American regardless of their original provenance. How would you tell the difference without the texts that ground archaeology in history? The point, which you seem to be missing, is that the archaeology can only tell us so much about the world without corresponding texts. The names we attach to most of these civilizations are not the names they went by, we don't even know that. Is a Nephite any less a Nephite because unaware scholars 2000 years in the future call him an Izapan or Chiapan?

I didn't know that archaeology needed corresponding texts to function. 

As for the second point in bold, at this point, I think the absence of evidence wins, pointing to inspired fiction.  Having to ask "what do you expect to find" is telling.  Resorting to DNA disappearing is telling too.  Sure, the native americans could have been referring to Nephites when they called them some other name.  Their DNA could have disappeared in a sea of native american DNA of Asiatic origin.  All is possible.  We may find direct evidence in the future, but, at present, there isn't much.

This is why President Nelson's admonition to focus on the spirit is so important.  One can get lost in putting so much into historicity and relying on it to a point where it takes the place of faith.  I say this as too much emphasis on historicity can lead some out, like my brother, when they discover that "what do you expect to find" is the only answer.

Link to post
11 hours ago, Robert J Anderson said:

Perhaps Mr. Stemelbow isn't understanding you because usually one looks at the archeology first and sees where it logically takes them.  If it shows that the native americans developed on their own, without the aid of ancient israelites, then the book of mormon claims are discarded.  You, however, look to see if you can find the book of mormon in the archeology and use your findings as evidence for historicity?  But doesn't that require presumption that the book of mormon is true or a hope that it is true prior to starting the exercise?

Close. First, no one starts with the archaeology first and sses where it logically takes them. All archaeology has to be interpreted, and it is interpreted within the contexts and bounds of what is known. What happens is that there are finds that cause a redefinition of the bounds and contexts. Nevertheless, things not found in a context are very difficult to interpret.

Once again, we have to return to what is knowable in Mesoamerican archaeology, and that is a very different animal from the Old World. There is a difference in both the persistence of memory and in texts in the Old World that rarely show in the New World. The power of texts is explained in the shift that occurred from an emphasis on Central Mexico to the Maya. The reason that there was so much work done on Central Mexico is that there were at least some early texts available (all post-Conquest), but some were in the native languages. When I first started in the field, I was drawn to Central Mexico because that is where there were texts. Consequently, there were also works attempting to understand the Maya, but they tended to superimpose the later Central Mexican features onto what was found.

The decipherment of the Mayan texts changed all of that. Now the best work is occurring among the Maya because there are contemporaneous texts. So the context changes the interpretations.

Now, what about starting with the hypothesis that the Book of Mormon might be true? While it is certain that the chances of finding a positive response are significantly higher than beginning with the hypothesis that it couldn't be true, it is that very starting assumption that limits the way data are seen. On the other hand, if it is given as a possibility, then evidence is required to substantiate that hypothesis. The hypothesis cannot stand simply by being stated.

Is it true that if the data are misused, then one could twist the data to show pretty much anything? Not really, but it certainly could be attempted, and poor uses of evidence often get proposed as evidence (I remember sitting with several BYU archaeologists who were telling me that when  they needed a good laugh, they would play "Ancient American Speaks"). That is the reason that the foundational methodology must be sound, and the data must be used honestly.

Now the question should be whether my methodology passes muster. I would happily respond to anyone suggesting that it is not (providing they actually interacted with it). I would also be shocked if anyone would find that I did not use data from as current archaeology as possible at the time of writing (things can change, but so far, I haven't seen any change to anything that would negate the data I have used). So, if the methodology is reasonable, and the evidence is used correctly, now we can engage in whether or not the data paint the picture I suggest they do. It is a very testable hypothesis.

Edited to respond to a point you made to which I had said nothing. You wrote:

Quote

If it shows that the native americans developed on their own, without the aid of ancient israelites, then the book of mormon claims are discarded. 

That was the default position I saw in a lot of LDS writings from 50 years ago, and persisting in some of the more recent. A few friends and I are actively attempting to shift those notions. There is no reason except the historical hubris of believing that the Book of Mormon was behind all Native American civilizations to believe that. Indeed, there is no evidence to support external development, as you note. I have no problem setting that as a given, because I see no logical reason that there should have been any cultural influence. The cases of non-invasion cultural mixing will naturally lean to the more established. There would have to be major innovative things that would be retained, and the only one possible is metallurgy. I agree that it is not yet found in the correct time period. but I strongly suspect it was a purely economic advantage (not functional or military), and therefore kept as a guarded secret much as the production of silk was controlled in China. 

So, with no expectation that there should be a cultural infusion, but rather an adaptation to the new climate, botany, and biology, it is much more likely that the cultural influence went from established populations to the Nephites. Therefore, it doesn't affect the historical evidence for the Book of Mormon at all. It simply highlights the problem of expectation. It really does eviscerate the argument that "no Nephite/Old World" artifact has been found. Of course not.

That is the reason that the evidentiary case has to be much more carefully built.

Edited by Brant Gardner
I left our a response to an important aspect of the question.
  • Like 2
Link to post
8 hours ago, bluebell said:

That's a good question, with no easy answer. 

Every person is so different, with their individual hurts, trama, experiences, joys, emotional baggage, background, way of thinking, perceptions, biases, etc., and all of that, for good and bad, impacts their ability to know different things (whether the subject is love or religion or anything else).  A good bias can convince a person that something isn't true when it is, or that something is true when it isn't, all on its own.  Add in everything else that filters the interpretation of our experiences, and it can get messy. 

I think that Alma 32 is probably the best explanation of the difference between believe and know, and what knowledge looks like.  It's not foolproof, because nothing is (because our biases and baggage affect even this), but it's a good place to start. 

It is absolutely true that there is no easy answer. How "true" is the Bible? First of all, that question cannot be answered without at least dividing the Old and New Testaments. Then there is the question of evidence of historical context as opposed to evidence that there is not always verisimilitude. Finally, we have the crucial issue that even though there are good historical records to indicate that early Christians believed in Christ's resurrection, there is no historical evidence of the resurrection itself. Did it happen? History can tell us what the early believers thought, but it doesn't really tell us how we should think about it. We still have to work that out on our own.

  • Like 3
Link to post
32 minutes ago, Brant Gardner said:

Now, what about starting with the hypothesis that the Book of Mormon might be true?

This is a good place to start, but rather than jumping all the way to where we would like to find the Book of Mormon, why don't we start with the question: is there any evidence of Israelites migrating to a location across the sea around 600 BC? There's evidence of 600 BC Israelite migrations, and these groups look an awful lot like the Nephites. Why don't we start there?

I don't understand why we have to take the first, highly unlikely, leap and assume that the Book of Mormon setting is the Americas. If there's no evidence that a trans-Pacific voyage from the Middle East to Mexico was possible in 600 BC, then the hypothesis that the Book of Mormon might be true is dead in the water. Yet the Book of Mormon itself never makes this claim. The text only claims to be an island/peninsula in the sea, for there were many.

Edited by Rajah Manchou
Link to post
2 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

This is a good place to start, but rather than jumping all the way to where we would like to find the Book of Mormon, why don't we start with the question: is there any evidence of Israelites migrating to a location across the sea around 600 BC? There's evidence of 600 BC Israelite migrations throughout the Indian Ocean, and these groups look an awful lot like the Nephites. Why don't we start there?

I don't understand why we have to take the first, highly unlikely, leap and assume that the Book of Mormon setting is the Americas. If there's no evidence that a trans-Pacific voyage from the Middle East to Mexico was possible in 600 BC, then the hypothesis that the Book of Mormon might be true is dead in the water. Yet the Book of Mormon itself never makes this claim.

Any hypothesis can be tested. I have tested several. I no longer remember the specifics of yours, but remember I thought it was better thought-out that the Malaysia-only hypothesis, which doesn't really work at all.

Still, the methodology is the same, and I would be happy to review it. Begin with your geography, and then add the layers of topography, hydrology, and cultural history, and see how well it works. I would be interested.

Link to post
42 minutes ago, Brant Gardner said:

Any hypothesis can be tested. I have tested several. I no longer remember the specifics of yours, but remember I thought it was better thought-out that the Malaysia-only hypothesis, which doesn't really work at all.

Still, the methodology is the same, and I would be happy to review it. Begin with your geography, and then add the layers of topography, hydrology, and cultural history, and see how well it works. I would be interested.

Before geography, best to start at the beginning. Jacob mentions that in 600 BC there were many Israelites in the isles of the sea. So my first hypothesis is: Israelites migrated to the isles of the sea in 600 BC. There's substantial evidence that this is true. We find several Israelite groups from Yemen, Oman, to Egypt, to Ethiopia, even further from Mozambique in the southwest and Malabar in the east.

Next hypothesis: these groups were related to the Lehites. We of course don't know if the Lehites were a historical group, but some Mormon scholars have suggested that the Lehites looked a lot like the Rechabites. Hugh Nibley went as far to state here and here that the Lehites were Rechabites. This claim can be debated, but for the sake of brevity let's assume that the historical Biblical group that most closely resemble the Lehites culturally were the Rechabites. 

Next question, did Rechabites migrate from the Arabian Peninsula to the isles of the sea in 600 BC? According to Margaret Barker, they did. [The Rechabites] fled from Jerusalem after the time of Josiah. They "escaped to the desert, and crossed the great sea to a Paradise land of fruit trees, honey and abundant water...angels continued to inform them about events in their former world, and so they knew about the life of Jesus. Now Rechab is an interesting name; it can also mean a chariot, and so the angel sons of Rechab might have been the devotees of the chariot throne in the temple who fled from Jerusalem after Josiah’s purge, and settled somewhere across a great sea." (source) The hypothesis that a group resembling the Lehites, did in fact sail to a verdant island in the sea around 600 BC seems to have support. Their account can be found in the History of the Rechabites and the Narrative of Zosimus. 

Next question: are there similarities between the History of the Rechabites and the Book of Mormon? Jack Welch, Margaret Barker and Daniel Peterson say yes. In my opinion, the similarities between the Book of Mormon, the History of the Rechabites and the Narrative of Zosimus are the strongest evidence for Book of Mormon historicity.

I don't want to assume you agree with my conclusions above, so I'll stop there. Would you agree that the Rechabites are similar enough to the Lehites to consider them as a historical proxy? Not getting into the specifics of geography yet, but would you agree that there's evidence of Israelite (Rechabite in particular) migrations across a great sea around 600 BC? The Lemba Jews and the Malabar Jews for example.

Link to post
1 hour ago, Brant Gardner said:

Any hypothesis can be tested. I have tested several. I no longer remember the specifics of yours, but remember I thought it was better thought-out that the Malaysia-only hypothesis, which doesn't really work at all.

Still, the methodology is the same, and I would be happy to review it. Begin with your geography, and then add the layers of topography, hydrology, and cultural history, and see how well it works. I would be interested.

How would you test the hypothesis that significant chunks of the Book of Mormon were borrowed from Roman history? 

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...