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Cohesive Narrative of the fabricated Book of Mormon?


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6 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

..........................Considering the timing (1812-1830) and the actors (eg. Spaulding's nephew and Hyrum Smith's classmate), I don't see how this could be a simple coincidence.

It occurs to me also that you might find Richard Bushman's literary analysis useful: https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/mormon-moses-and-the-representation-of-reality/

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46 minutes ago, Glenn101 said:

Their stories describe a manuscript that is so unlike the one now located at Oberlin College that Doctor Hurlbut went back to interview those witnesses again to determine if maybe Spaulding had written another manuscript. Some of the witnesses averred that yes, Solomon Spaulding had indeed gone back and rewritten his story so that it could sound more biblical. However, there is a problem with that narrative as one of the pages is written on the back of a letter that was dated to a time after Spaulding had left Ohio, indicating that he was still working on that same story.

But, there are people who are firmly convinced that there has to be another manuscript which has yet to be found.

Dan Vogel might argue that this sort of story matched the tenor of the times, and that one ought to expect several different accounts along those same lines.  After all, everybody was doing it.

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1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

I've suggested a cohesive narrative already, for how the BOM is not as claime: all supernatural influence is the same as claimed, except that it is from Satan, not God.

After all, look at the racism it relies on and perpetuates. Bad fruit. Not to mention other division and suffering, and deceiving Native Americans about their ancestry.

Anyways...

You're not asking due diligence questions, where the burden of proof falls upon the claimants. People can lie and hide forever how they made something or how something occurred. Don't be naive.

A good detective would make the opposite case:  We simply do not find that such conspiracies can successfully maintain secrecy forever.  The more participants, the more likely word is to get out -- except in cases where the perpetrator is alone and not part of a larger group, as with the Zodiac Killer, who was never caught, and whose identity we do not know to this day.

For those who rely on hard forensic evidence, supernatural claims are irrelevant and unbelievable, whether from Elohim or Beelzebub.

But you are right, as B. H. Roberts agreed, the burden of proof is on the claimants.  If that is the case, then we ought to take seriously the actual data and all associated logical arguments, rather than casually dismissing it with the wave of the hand.  We must exercise due diligence.

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2 hours ago, Navidad said:

Funny you say this. I was at a banquet of the MHA one evening when Sandra Tanner came in a bit late and sat next to me. For the first few minutes I did not know who she was.  Everyone else at the table certainly did. I was surprised (not sure what my preconceptions were) how she became the focus of the conversation during the entire meal. Folks (all LDS faithful as far as I could tell) responded very well to her and plied her with questions. She seems to enjoy the discussion as well. I think, out of ignorance I gasped when I figured out who she was because I thought everyone would be uncomfortable with her there. Au contraire! She was delightful and everyone seemed very interested in what she had to say. Interesting meal!

I had many conversations with Sandra in years past, and even attended her church in SLC (Missionary & Alliance Church) with her and her late husband and children.  She sang a solo during the main service.  Even though we disagreed on some things, we never had a cross word.  A lovely lady.  Glad you got the chance to meet her.

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3 hours ago, Navidad said:

Thanks for your very interesting and thoughtful post. I will check out the links over this weekend. I have to speak at a conference this evening and am a bit consumed by that. What really interests me most right now is the place of the Book of Mormon in the LDS canon today. I question its place in the canon beside the D&C which contains the vast majority of current LDS doctrinal thought, as well as most of what I would deem as heterodox thought. I don't know why missionaries encourage folks to read the Book of Mormon instead of D&C. One could read the Book of Mormon over and over and not understand or know anything of some of the most important LDS doctrines, views, and perspectives, especially on the rest of Christianity. Obviously, along with everyone else we are studying the D&C right now in Sunday School. It seems that it contains the meat of the LDS distinctives, does it not? Why do missionaries encourage the reading of the Book of Mormon instead of D&C which would give the investigator a much deeper understanding of LDS distinctives. Gotta go study for tonight. I have a feeling I am going to get a lot of questions and I need to be prepared, especially in Spanish. Best

The BofM has always been the main focus and conversion tool of LDS missionary work from day one.  To this day it has been a kind of symbol of this new dispensation and reestablishment of the Lord's Church this final time, before He returns in glory.  The missionaries present it as a test dependent upon reception of the witness of the Holy Ghost -- which so angers the evangelical community.

At the same time, it contains the fullness of the Gospel and a very sophisticated theology, which I point out in my “Book of Mormon Theologies: A Thumbnail Sketch,” lecture delivered at the September 2012 annual meeting of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology (SMPT), at Utah State University, Logan, Utah, online at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1WileB3WVoNm0DlVrLUBRMdwKsrlWLElj/view?usp=sharing (version 2).

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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7 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

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

I grant that Joseph's Imagination + Environment is the simplist theory, but the problem is that in comparing theories, we need to ask, "Which is better?" and in measuring better, we ought to employ criteria that are not completely paradigm-dependent.  According to Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the most important criteria for paradigm choice that are not paradigm depdent are:

testability (puzzle definition and solution)

accuracy of key predictions

comprehensiveness and coherence,

fruitfulness (that is, the kinds of details that an inside view detects that an outside view completely overlooks)

simplicity and aethetics

future promise

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

 

7 hours ago, Fether said:

Everything is as I expected it. I hoped that there would be something. I would absolutely love to see a document that lays it out… but maybe that is too much to ask.

Pious faith-promoting literature assumes belief at the outset as a condition of inquiry, whereas the scientific approach suggested by Kuhn may be more of what you are looking for.  If so, see my “The Preposterous Book of Mormon: A Singular Advantage,” lecture, Aug 8, 2014, at the annual FAIRMORMON Conference, Provo, Utah, online at http://www.fairmormon.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/PREPOSTEROUS-BOOK-OF-MORMON.pdf .

There are many other such discussions of the hard evidence, including those cited by Kevin.

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4 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

hard evidence

I am curious how you define that term vs soft evidence. Like would chiasmus be hard or soft evidence for the Book of Mormon? EModE phrases soft or hard? Hebraisms? Book of Mormon complexity? Alleged speed of Book of Mormon production? NHM?

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4 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

After all, look at the racism it relies on and perpetuates. Bad fruit.

There is no racism in the Book of Mormon. 

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3 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Dan Vogel might argue that this sort of story matched the tenor of the times, and that one ought to expect several different accounts along those same lines.  After all, everybody was doing it.

I was engaged in a discussion about this very thing with Dan and a couple of other people a few years ago, on another board. He is not a proponent of the Spaulding theory. We agreed on that point at least.

 

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2 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

I am curious how you define that term vs soft evidence. Like would chiasmus be hard or soft evidence for the Book of Mormon? EModE phrases soft or hard? Hebraisms? Book of Mormon complexity? Alleged speed of Book of Mormon production? NHM?

I am an archeologist and I tend to think in terms of hard, forensic evidence which archeologists find convincing or at least indicative.  This includes artifacts of various kinds, including inscriptions, and scientific dating techniques.  It also includes linguistic and literary analysis.  It does not include pious belief (even if inspired), or absurd theological assumptions and speculations which make a mockery of logic.  And, as in a court of law, all the elements of hard, forensic evidence must be combined in a rational way and presented to an unbiased jury for evaluation.  In the case of academia, that jury of peers is composed of fellow scholars who draw conclusions of their own, and often write reviews of books and articles which seek to puzzle out the true nature of ancient cultures.  It is a never-ending process among a community of scholars, but it is always data-dependent.  The key is how to interpret the data.  For history is not facts, but the interpretation of facts.

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17 minutes ago, Glenn101 said:

I was engaged in a discussion about this very thing with Dan and a couple of other people a few years ago, on another board. He is not a proponent of the Spaulding theory. We agreed on that point at least.

Of course, but then Fawn Brodie had long since rejected the Spalding Theory.  Vogel doesn't attach himself to particulars, but only to generic notions that certain ideas were in the air.

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10 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

But you are right, as B. H. Roberts agreed, the burden of proof is on the claimants.  If that is the case, then we ought to take seriously the actual data and all associated logical arguments, rather than casually dismissing it with the wave of the hand.  We must exercise due diligence.

Not exactly, no. 

Who has authority over an individual life? Whose claims are entitled to one's time and energy? Joseph Smith is not entitled to my attention, nor is the church. And,

From a scientific perspective, the claims are not relevant, as they're not making scientific claims.

From an intellectual perspective, the lines are deeply blurred, because they rely heavily on emotions. 

From a moral and spiritual perspective, I can reasonably say this: the church's claims encroach upon moral and spiritual boundaries of peoples' lives. So I would say that the claimants have the moral responsibility to go back to the drawing board, dig much more deeply to build a morally-tenable proposition for other human beings. (FTR this goes to anyone who claims to speak for God to humankind.) 

A few weeks ago a person was asking me about my mother's cancer diagnosis. She then proceeded to give me instructions for my mother's treatment. She is not a doctor or medically qualified at all. It's not uncommon for people to say things like this to each other, but it does reveal something about them. It reveals a casual regard for the gravity of their proposal and its potential impact on the person they are telling. It also reveals a disproportionate confidence in the information they are sharing. It reveals disrespect for other people and a disrespect for the subject material.

In short, my response here is a deeper explanation of why the premise of this thread is all backwards. It is like Fether is demanding my mom to tell him why she should not fast for three days and take the nutritional supplements he suggested. To that I do say "Shoo."

There is an inherent lack of respect in making unprovable claims about how people should fundamentally live their lives.

Edited by Meadowchik
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19 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

Do we have Dr. John's curriculum so that we can see and compare it?

Yes. Someone had gone to Dartmouth and scanned them, but I can't find the link at the moment. Another resource is Richard Behrens:
Dartmouth Arminianism And Its Impact on Hyrum Smith And the Smith Family
Dreams, Visions, and Visitations: The Genesis of Mormonism

19 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

I don't follow, I'm afraid. Are you suggesting that Spaulding's nephew went to India and convinced a tribe that they were Israelites waiting for a golden book? 

I'm suggesting that the origin story of the Book of Mormon narrative might seem remarkable to us today, but it appears to have been fairly commonplace among those who attended Dartmouth in the late 18th and early 19th century, including Hyrum Smith. For example, Behrens goes into some detail about Levi Spaulding's (Solomon Spaulding's nephew) conversion following a vision of light.

Like I said earlier, I'm happily on the fence about Book of Mormon origins, and find all hypotheses to be almost equally interesting. I just don't see how it can be argued that the Book of Mormon could not have a natural explanation when there are other stories of such visions and golden books in the same time period told by people from the same school.

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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14 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I had many conversations with Sandra in years past, and even attended her church in SLC (Missionary & Alliance Church) with her and her late husband and children.  She sang a solo during the main service.  Even though we disagreed on some things, we never had a cross word.  A lovely lady.  Glad you got the chance to meet her.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance is an unusually fine group. They started out as a missionary-sending organization and many years later became a formal denomination within the Evangelical (large E) tradition. My uncle served as their president for some years prior to his death. A.W. Tozer, one of their early pioneers is one of my very favorite writers. His sermons are well worth reading, regardless of your own affiliation or lack thereof. I did not know that the Tanners were C&MA. I learned a lesson at that banquet that night from everyone at the table. If I remember right, I believe there was a grandson of President Kimball, Sandra Tanner, a Franciscan or Dominican priest (former or current, I am not sure), and a Mennonite at that table. Quite a diverse group. It is one of the reasons I enjoy attending MHA events.

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deleted

Edited by Bernard Gui
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15 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Yes. It was easy peasy. Both translucent material as well as letting in a bit of light around the face. I even did it inside with no artificial lighting. 

How much ambient light do you think was in this room? Did they translate only when sunlight came through the windows?

 

 

1127EC42-F368-4B54-B380-52E0518CE6DD.jpeg

Edited by Bernard Gui
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7 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

How much ambient light do you think was in this room? Did they translate only when sunlight came through the windows?

 

 

1127EC42-F368-4B54-B380-52E0518CE6DD.jpeg

Well when I tried it I had no artificial light and wasn’t close to any windows. I see nothing about that home that would make it any different. I’m sure Oliver had enough light to write and I think that would be plenty.  Feel free to keep adding stipulations if you need to. 

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3 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Yes. Someone had gone to Dartmouth and scanned them, but I can't find the link at the moment. Another resource is Richard Behrens:
Dartmouth Arminianism And Its Impact on Hyrum Smith And the Smith Family
Dreams, Visions, and Visitations: The Genesis of Mormonism

Fascinating, I'll have to take a look.

3 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

I'm suggesting that the origin story of the Book of Mormon narrative might seem remarkable to us today, but it appears to have been fairly commonplace among those who attended Dartmouth in the late 18th and early 19th century, including Hyrum Smith. For example, Behrens goes into some detail about Levi Spaulding's (Solomon Spaulding's nephew) conversion following a vision of light.

"Vision of light" is an awfully broad term and such phenomena persist today, as they have throughout a lot of recorded history. I'm not convinced there's anything special about that. 

As for the India connection, I'm still not following. The Chummerah people were discovered, as you say, in 1829. I'd say that's too late to be an inspiration for the Book of Mormon, and in any case, wasn't Hyrum away from Dartmouth by then? So I'd say the discovery of the Chummerah people comes too late to influence the Book of Mormon gold plates story. Any connection would have to come from stories ambiently floating around Dartmouth, which Spaulding's nephew took and foisted upon the inhabitants of Chummerah. Is that what you are suggesting?

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5 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Not exactly, no. 

Who has authority over an individual life? Whose claims are entitled to one's time and energy? Joseph Smith is not entitled to my attention, nor is the church.

No one is obligated to entertain claims from any source.  So, yes, one has to pick and choose what is worth bothering with.  Joe Smith and the LDS Church are not of interest to everyone.  Correct.

5 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

..........From a scientific perspective, the claims are not relevant, as they're not making scientific claims.

Not true at all.  There are a multitude of testable claims made by the Book of Mormon -- fully testable by science.  I treat a number such claims in my “The Preposterous Book of Mormon: A Singular Advantage,” lecture, Aug 8, 2014, at the annual FAIRMORMON Conference, Provo, Utah, online at  http://www.fairmormon.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/PREPOSTEROUS-BOOK-OF-MORMON.pdf .

5 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

From an intellectual perspective, the lines are deeply blurred, because they rely heavily on emotions. 

Yes, this is the claim also made by evangelicals.  They are very critical of LDS dependence on the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which they regard as entirely emotional.  They often use the word "feelings," and prefer to quote Scripture as a kind of "proof" for their interpretative theology.  However, that is not in any way associated with science, but is really a matter of personal opinion and their church tradition.

Quote

 

From a moral and spiritual perspective, I can reasonably say this: the church's claims encroach upon moral and spiritual boundaries of peoples' lives. So I would say that the claimants have the moral responsibility to go back to the drawing board, dig much more deeply to build a morally-tenable proposition for other human beings. (FTR this goes to anyone who claims to speak for God to humankind.) 

A few weeks ago a person was asking me about my mother's cancer diagnosis. She then proceeded to give me instructions for my mother's treatment. She is not a doctor or medically qualified at all. It's not uncommon for people to say things like this to each other, but it does reveal something about them. It reveals a casual regard for the gravity of their proposal and its potential impact on the person they are telling. It also reveals a disproportionate confidence in the information they are sharing. It reveals disrespect for other people and a disrespect for the subject material.

In short, my response here is a deeper explanation of why the premise of this thread is all backwards. It is like Fether is demanding my mom to tell him why she should not fast for three days and take the nutritional supplements he suggested. To that I do say "Shoo."

There is an inherent lack of respect in making unprovable claims about how people should fundamentally live their lives.

 

Of course, there is no place for busybodies to make such personal suggestions, even if they mean well.  And that has nothing to do with science or testable claims.  I don't see how that entails LDS claims.  Atheists are as likely to make silly statements and claims, and to give unsolicited advice.  A lot of nonsense has to be tolerated in ordinary life.  Just tell them to go fly a kite. :pirate:

 

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4 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Yes. Someone had gone to Dartmouth and scanned them, but I can't find the link at the moment. Another resource is Richard Behrens:
Dartmouth Arminianism And Its Impact on Hyrum Smith And the Smith Family
Dreams, Visions, and Visitations: The Genesis of Mormonism

I'm suggesting that the origin story of the Book of Mormon narrative might seem remarkable to us today, but it appears to have been fairly commonplace among those who attended Dartmouth in the late 18th and early 19th century, including Hyrum Smith. For example, Behrens goes into some detail about Levi Spaulding's (Solomon Spaulding's nephew) conversion following a vision of light.

Like I said earlier, I'm happily on the fence about Book of Mormon origins, and find all hypotheses to be almost equally interesting. I just don't see how it can be argued that the Book of Mormon could not have a natural explanation when there are other stories of such visions and golden books in the same time period told by people from the same school.

I agree.

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Yes, this is the claim also made by evangelicals.  They are very critical of LDS dependence on the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which they regard as entirely emotional.  They often use the word "feelings," and prefer to quote Scripture as a kind of "proof" for their interpretative theology.

Go fly a kite! Ha! Sorry, couldn't resist!

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2 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Well when I tried it I had no artificial light and wasn’t close to any windows. I see nothing about that home that would make it any different. I’m sure Oliver had enough light to write and I think that would be plenty.  Feel free to keep adding stipulations if you need to. 

You have based your theory on the assumptions that he allowed light in through the side of the hat or that the hat was translucent. Do you have evidence the hat was translucent? If so, did enough light penetrate it to allow Joseph to read from cards? How did he flip the cards? Did they sit close to a window? Have you been inside the Whitmer home? We’re the conditions there the same as your experimental reading? Do you have evidence they only translated in daylight hours? Just exploring the possibilities.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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8 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

I can reasonably say this: the church's claims encroach upon moral and spiritual boundaries of peoples' lives. So I would say that the claimants have the moral responsibility to go back to the drawing board, dig much more deeply to build a morally-tenable proposition for other human beings. (FTR this goes to anyone who claims to speak for God to humankind.) 

 

8 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

There is an inherent lack of respect in making unprovable claims about how people should fundamentally live their lives.

Yep.

On the other hand, folks could hear the claims and then decide if they want to partake. 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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