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Book of Mormon Historicity


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28 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

It should be fairly easy to identify such a person. Who at that time was knowledgeable and interested enough in the Native Americans to compose such an elaborate founding myth for them?

The Book of Mormon doesn't claim to be a history of the Native Americans. There's nothing Native American about it. 

This is why we've never found any convincing evidence for the historicity of the Book of Mormon outside the Arabian Peninsula.

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12 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

The Book of Mormon doesn't claim to be a history of the Native Americans. There's nothing Native American about it. 

This is why we've never found any convincing evidence for the historicity of the Book of Mormon outside the Arabian Peninsula.

It's a founding myth for somebody.

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1 hour ago, Bernard Gui said:

This is the problem with any evidence produced in favor of the Book of Mormon. It will never be enough for some.

His summary points only amount to sharpshooting, in my opinion. It is fallacious arguments which will never be enough.

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Also, @Bernard Gui, we're talking about accepting something as an authoritative message of Truth of the Universe and all Time and everything. The standard being high is a matter of respecting that Capital-letter Potentiality and respecting other people, too, since such conclusions tend to deeply impact our relationships with them.

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15 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

His summary points only amount to sharpshooting, in my opinion. It is fallacious arguments which will never be enough.

Can you be specific as to how or what is a fallacious about the argument?   What about this is fallacious?

11 hours ago, smac97 said:

Nahom has a number of data points in its favor:

  • Right place (this is a biggie).
  • Right time.
  • Right purpose (relative to BOM narrative)
  • Plausible etymology (relative to BOM narrative)
  • Altars
  • Correlation of location with Bountiful
  • Pre-existed Lehi
  • Date/location of Niebuhr's map and d'Anville's book
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7 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

Can you be specific as to how or what is a fallacious about the argument?   What about this is fallacious?

As I said, imo it amounts to sharpshooting.

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2 hours ago, JarMan said:

Interestingly, Tolkien created Middle Earth with the intention of writing a great founding myth for the British peoples. He drew on Beowulf and Celtic and Saxon legends among other sources. As a devout Christian he introduced Christian themes. What if the Book of Mormon was created for essentially the same purpose? Maybe it's a founding myth for the American Indians. But instead of drawing on Beowulf and other Northern European sources it draws on the Aeneid and other classical sources of the Mediterranean including the bible. And what if it was created by a brilliant and inspired person from early modern times? Would that make it nonsense or still a worthwhile book to study?

Yes, that is exactly the sort of questions modern thinkers are addressing.  One can have it both ways, for Bible and BofM.  And perhaps for the Mahabharata as well.

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38 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

Also, @Bernard Gui, we're talking about accepting something as an authoritative message of Truth of the Universe and all Time and everything. The standard being high is a matter of respecting that Capital-letter Potentiality and respecting other people, too, since such conclusions tend to deeply impact our relationships with them.

A great deal rides on the question of ultimate truth, but what if it is essentially unknowable?

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5 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

A great deal rides on the question of ultimate truth, but what if it is essentially unknowable?

Sounds like an excellent thread topic. Go to, and I'll be there! ;)

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1 hour ago, Rajah Manchou said:

The Book of Mormon doesn't claim to be a history of the Native Americans. There's nothing Native American about it. 

This is why we've never found any convincing evidence for the historicity of the Book of Mormon outside the Arabian Peninsula.

Aside from the fact that the Amerinds are not "Native Americans," but just earlier immigrants, it is not true that the BofM does not tightly correlate with certain specific cultures of ancient America.  Even if we only look at it generically, for example, the Jaredite culture fits rather well with the Olmec culture, and the Nephites and Mulekites rather well with the non-Maya peoples of the Grijalva River basin.  In both cases, the chronology we create from archeology fits very well with each of those cultures -- even though they existed in very limited areas.

51 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

His summary points only amount to sharpshooting, in my opinion. It is fallacious arguments which will never be enough.

You may very well be correct that no amount of detail and evidentiary argument will ever be enough.  After all we cannot prove that Abraham or Moses ever existed.  And, even though all historians acknowledge that there was a Jewish guy named Jesus, he cannot  be proven to have been resurrected from the dead,, or to be any sort of Messiah.  These are largely matters of faith, and faith does not require earthly evidence.

At least in the case of the Bible, there is a historical source from which it comes, just like Homeric Epic.  The BofM, on the other hand, is impossible and preposterous simply on logical and common sense grounds, which is its ace-in-the-hole:  Since it is impossible and preposterous, all the more reason to give it props when strong evidence is drawn from its pages, as I do in my own study: http://www.fairmormon.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/PREPOSTEROUS-BOOK-OF-MORMON.pdf .  The evidence I offer should not be possible in a work of fiction.  There is no way Joseph Smith could have inserted certain details into his BofM, and the same applies to any 16th century predecessor.  And that verifies the case for the BofM, which in turn verifies the Bible.  A very odd turn of events.

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That is a well compiled list.  Occam's razor makes the original claims to its authorship seem all the more likely. 

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20 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Aside from the fact that the Amerinds are not "Native Americans," but just earlier immigrants, it is not true that the BofM does not tightly correlate with certain specific cultures of ancient America.  Even if we only look at it generically, for example, the Jaredite culture fits rather well with the Olmec culture, and the Nephites and Mulekites rather well with the non-Maya peoples of the Grijalva River basin.  In both cases, the chronology we create from archeology fits very well with each of those cultures -- even though they existed in very limited areas.

You may very well be correct that no amount of detail and evidentiary argument will ever be enough.  After all we cannot prove that Abraham or Moses ever existed.  And, even though all historians acknowledge that there was a Jewish guy named Jesus, he cannot  be proven to have been resurrected from the dead,, or to be any sort of Messiah.  These are largely matters of faith, and faith does not require earthly evidence.

At least in the case of the Bible, there is a historical source from which it comes, just like Homeric Epic.  The BofM, on the other hand, is impossible and preposterous simply on logical and common sense grounds, which is its ace-in-the-hole:  Since it is impossible and preposterous, all the more reason to give it props when strong evidence is drawn from its pages, as I do in my own study: http://www.fairmormon.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/PREPOSTEROUS-BOOK-OF-MORMON.pdf .  The evidence I offer should not be possible in a work of fiction.  There is no way Joseph Smith could have inserted certain details into his BofM, and the same applies to any 16th century predecessor.  And that verifies the case for the BofM, which in turn verifies the Bible.  A very odd turn of events.

I said fallacious arguments will never be enough. They are not the same as substantial "detail and evidentiary argument."

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24 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

We'd both be better off getting some sleep.

Hmmm, since we're already here...

Edited by Meadowchik
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21 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Aside from the fact that the Amerinds are not "Native Americans," but just earlier immigrants, it is not true that the BofM does not tightly correlate with certain specific cultures of ancient America.  Even if we only look at it generically, for example, the Jaredite culture fits rather well with the Olmec culture, and the Nephites and Mulekites rather well with the non-Maya peoples of the Grijalva River basin.  In both cases, the chronology we create from archeology fits very well with each of those cultures -- even though they existed in very limited areas.

There is also some pretty good geological evidence as well.

This relates to when the possible land desolation(Oaxaca province) became "desolate". For exactly the reasons the Book of Mormon states. Population pressures led to clearing forest for farmland etc. that led to erosion of the topsoil and not much of the original vegetation has grown there since. The erosion resulted in the silting of rivers and their mouths. This can be accurately carbon dated using organic material trapped in the silts.

Also Nephi describes the ores found when landing in the promised land, gold, silver and copper. These are exactly the main metals found in the ore bodies in that area and the very ancient mines are plentiful.

This is just off the top of my head, I would need to look up the papers since its been a while. They were compiled and peer reviewed for completely different purposes but I did find the correlations intriguing.

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2 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

As I said, imo it amounts to sharpshooting.

What in your view would be the appropriate way to go about establishing it?

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7 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

It is also not an electronics manual, but that doesn't tell us what it actually is.  Moreover, the Bible likewise is not a science textbook -- it is not a geology or biology manual.  Yet, both Bible and BofM contain geographical references with place-names and relative dates of events.  Are such references meant to be no more than fictional elements of fairy tales, such as those invented by J. R. R. Tolkien or George R. R. Martin?  Like all fiction, are there real lessons about life to be learned from the inspired author?  Or is it all nonsense?

Sounds a bit schizophrenic, no?

I don't think so, but false equivalencies only confuse

the issue.  The importance is the dialogue between the scripture and the reader.  That is where truth will be found.

 

Edited by JamesBYoung
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29 minutes ago, Calm said:

What in your view would be the appropriate way to go about establishing it?

The most obvious would be to start with the original object, the plates Joseph Smith claimed to translate from. Yet the fact that those are not available removes that opportunity. 

In fact this may well be considered the greatest, most profound evidence that The Book of Mormon is not to be evaluated scientifically, being that the plates were intentionally withheld, either by the translator or some more mysterious power. Either Joseph Smith, or God, or whoever else, etc..., did not intend it to be examined by any means other than the spiritual.

Why would the producer of The Book of Mormon (whoever brought it forth to our modern attention)  then remove it from our access if they want it to be examined scientifically as a historical artifact? I think that anyone who is asked to evaluate its historicity is wise to turn their decision on this point.  Furthermore, if someone other than Joseph Smith like some unidentified mysterious power withheld it, why would that entity thus merit our serious consideration of it as producing to us a historical artifact? 

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1 hour ago, JamesBYoung said:

I don't think so, but false equivalencies only confuse

So, you don't think that the Bible and Homeric Epic are equivalent works of literature with real historical underpinnings, but with unprovable divine claims?  Don't many children of the Enlightenment assume that the Bible is heavily interlarded with fictional elements?  What are these "false equivalencies" you tout?

1 hour ago, JamesBYoung said:

the issue.  The importance is the dialogue between the scripture and the reader.  That is where truth will be found.

Yes, certainly a kind of "truth."  It is often said that fiction is more truthful than non-fiction.  Those who are particularly dense won't understand what that means.

Having said that, however, it is an issue whether a literary work is just fiction.  George R. R. Martin did heavily use the War of the Roses and the geography of the British Isles to create his complex "Game of Thrones," and very successful work of fiction (complete with fire-breathing dragons).  Thus, one has to ask the question whether the BofM is likewise merely a work of fiction freely based on a contemporary knowledge of history and geography.  Making a claim that the text of the BofM is EModE only forces us to place its origin in an earlier period of time.  That doesn't change its vaunted fictional nature.

It is not only "the dialogue between the scripture and the reader" which is at issue, and not the only important issue.

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Wait...after skimming the thread, I'm curious.  Is anyone declaring they can meet the challenge offered by Phillip Jenkins some years back?  Where he and Bill Hamblin argued back and forth about whether there could even possibly be evidence for the BoM historicity?  If so, what is just one example of evidence?  

I figured we learned from that little exchange that there really is no evidence, no?  

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25 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

Wait...after skimming the thread, I'm curious.  Is anyone declaring they can meet the challenge offered by Phillip Jenkins some years back?  Where he and Bill Hamblin argued back and forth about whether there could even possibly be evidence for the BoM historicity?  If so, what is just one example of evidence?  

I figured we learned from that little exchange that there really is no evidence, no?  

Suppose the genuine plates popped up and pass as such. Or suppose similar plates of the same people or contemporaries showed up, in something which could be considered Reformed Egyptian, which identified people and places also in the BOM? To me that would be compelling. It would kind of be like believing in a horse-like unicorn, then it showing up in the fossil record, but much more complex.

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44 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

Wait...after skimming the thread, I'm curious.  Is anyone declaring they can meet the challenge offered by Phillip Jenkins some years back?  Where he and Bill Hamblin argued back and forth about whether there could even possibly be evidence for the BoM historicity?  If so, what is just one example of evidence?  

I figured we learned from that little exchange that there really is no evidence, no?  

😄

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7 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

His summary points only amount to sharpshooting, in my opinion. It is fallacious arguments which will never be enough.

How about a reasoned rebuttal? Just dismissing it as “sharpshooting” is hardly convincing.

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12 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Only because the state of proposed evidence is so weak.

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.

Edited by CA Steve
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