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The Gold Plates


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Just now, Bernard Gui said:

If Twain said it, it must be true.😬

On the other hand, there have been a whole lot of serious investigations of the various witnesses (not just the 11 in print). They hold up very well.

Again, I just don’t think the witnesses add anything to the credibility of the Book of Mormon. YMMV

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11 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Speaking of Dan Vogel, I'm listening to this youtube with Vogel and a believer discussing the BoM. Just began it, because I saw it elsewhere. At 1:53 in, it mentions tin plates, on the timeline provided. 

ETA: Vogel mentions tin shingles used back then could have been used to make the plates. 

Be sure to keep a grain of salt handy.

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1 minute ago, jkwilliams said:

Again, I just don’t think the witnesses add anything to the credibility of the Book of Mormon. YMMV

Yes, MMV.

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Just now, Tacenda said:
Quote

Could you point me to evidence/scholarship about this?  Joseph Smith's experience in working with copper?  What "outbuilding" are you referencing?

And yet many people did see them, including the Eight Witnesses (who saw them in mundane circumstances) and the Three Witnesses (who saw them in miraculous circumstances).

https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/content/historic-sites/palmyra/sacred-grove?lang=eng

The Smiths used oak for making barrels and other wood for making household and farm implements

Okay.  How is that evidence of "Joseph Smith's experience in working with copper?"

Just now, Tacenda said:

Also, I saw this in wiki and it kind of boggles my mind a little bit, wouldn't you want non related witnesses?

All the witnesses were family, close friends, or financial backers of Joseph Smith. Cowdery, Page, and the five Whitmers were related by marriage.[13]

In Mark Twain's 1872 book, Roughing It, he wryly commented: "And when I am far on the road to conviction, and eight men, be they grammatical or otherwise, come forward and tell me that they have seen the plates too; and not only seen those plates but 'hefted' them, I am convinced. I could not feel more satisfied and at rest if the entire Whitmer family had testified."

It is, nevertheless, a form of ad hominem.  And in legal parlance, the familial association of the witnesses would go to the probative weight of their statements, not the admissibility of their statements.

Moreover, those who discount the credibility of the witnesses due to familial association seldom seem to be willing to credit their credibility by acknowledging the later alienations/estrangements of many of them.  

From FAIR:

Quote

Relationships among the Three and Eight Witnesses

Three of the witnesses were related to Joseph Smith:

  • Joseph Smith, Sr. [father]
  • Hyrum Smith [brother]
  • Samuel H. Smith [brother]

Five of the eleven witnesses were sons of Peter Whitmer, Sr., who had provided Joseph and Oliver a place to translate:

  • David Whitmer
  • Christian Whitmer
  • Jacob Whitmer
  • Peter Whitmer, Jr.
  • John Whitmer

Two of the witnesses married into the Whitmer family:

  • Oliver Cowdery would marry Elizabeth Ann Whitmer in 1832.[2]
  • Hiram Page married the oldest Whitmer daughter, Catherine, on 10 November 1825.[3]

The following video introduces all witnesses, both formal and informal, to the Book of Mormon, examines several of the hardest-hitting claims against them, and demonstrates the emergent strength of their composite testimonials.

 

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 minute ago, smac97 said:

Okay.  How is that evidence of "Joseph Smith's experience in working with copper?"

In Mark Twain's 1872 book, Roughing It, he wryly commented: "And when I am far on the road to conviction, and eight men, be they grammatical or otherwise, come forward and tell me that they have seen the plates too; and not only seen those plates but 'hefted' them, I am convinced. I could not feel more satisfied and at rest if the entire Whitmer family had testified."

It is, nevertheless, a form of ad hominem.  And in legal parlance, the familial association of the witnesses would go to the probative weight of their statements, not the admissibility of their statements.

Moreover, those who discount the credibility of the witnesses due to familial association seldom seem to be willing to credit their credibility by acknowledging the later alienations/estrangements of many of them.  

From FAIR:

Thanks,

-Smac

I just think Twain’s words are a humorous comment on the nonvalue of the witness testimony. The testimony adds virtually no probative weight to the credibility of the Book of Mormon. 

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13 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I just think Twain’s words are a humorous comment on the nonvalue of the witness testimony.

I think Mark Twain was a humorist.

Witness testimony is often all that we have.  And while it has its weaknesses and limitations, characterizing it has having zero value seems a bit much.

13 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

The testimony adds virtually no probative weight to the credibility of the Book of Mormon. 

I think it adds quite a lot.  But then there's the text to account for as well.

Thanks,

-Smac

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27 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I think Mark Twain was a humorist.

Witness testimony is often all that we have.  And while it has its weaknesses and limitations, characterizing it has having zero value seems a bit much.

I think it adds quite a lot.  But then there's the text to account for as well.

Thanks,

-Smac

I don’t know what the witness testimony adds. It certainly doesn’t make the story of the Nephites more plausible, and it offers no evidence that what they saw was really an ancient record. 

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2 hours ago, Tacenda said:

Speaking of Dan Vogel, I'm listening to this youtube with Vogel and a believer discussing the BoM. Just began it, because I saw it elsewhere. At 1:53 in, it mentions tin plates, on the timeline provided. 

ETA: Vogel mentions tin shingles used back then could have been used to make the plates. 

Does he have a theory as to what became of these tin plates? 

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1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

I don’t know what the witness testimony adds.

Information.  Data.  Evidence.

For most of human history events have only been recollected because witnesses have preserved, in some form, what they have seen and experienced.  In the last 150+ years we have had ways to provide more objective evidence, such as photographs, audio recordings, video recordings, forensics, various forms of technology, and so on.  And yet witness testimony still plays a huge role in our lives.  In law, history, politics, religion, and so on.

I suspect you are only discounting "witness testimony" as it pertains to the Book of Mormon.  Am I correct in that?

1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

It certainly doesn’t make the story of the Nephites more plausible,

Yes, it does.

1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

and it offers no evidence that what they saw was really an ancient record. 

Yes, it does.

Thanks,

-Smac

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25 minutes ago, Rivers said:

Does he have a theory as to what became of these tin plates? 

Can’t remember, but most likely Joseph, clever fellow that he was, would have hidden or disposed of them.

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25 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Information.  Data.  Evidence.

For most of human history events have only been recollected because witnesses have preserved, in some form, what they have seen and experienced.  In the last 150+ years we have had ways to provide more objective evidence, such as photographs, audio recordings, video recordings, forensics, various forms of technology, and so on.  And yet witness testimony still plays a huge role in our lives.  In law, history, politics, religion, and so on.

I suspect you are only discounting "witness testimony" as it pertains to the Book of Mormon.  Am I correct in that?

Yes, it does.

Yes, it does.

Thanks,

-Smac

No, I am not dismissing the witness testimony because it involves the Book of Mormon. What a ludicrous and frankly uncharitable thing to say. Does the witness testimony establish that the plates are an ancient record? No. Does it confirm the accuracy of the “translation?” No. Does it add evidence of the existence of a proto-Christian civilization in ancient America? Again, no. What it establishes is that the witnesses saw something they believed to be plates that appeared to be gold and, for some, that someone they believed to be an angel appeared to them. That’s pretty much it. 

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9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

No, I am not dismissing the witness testimony because it involves the Book of Mormon.

So you are dismissing witness testimony in toto?

9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

What a ludicrous and frankly uncharitable thing to say.

I was actually giving you the benefit of the doubt, as your categorical declarations ("I don’t know what the witness testimony adds" and "I just think Twain’s words are a humorous comment on the nonvalue of the witness testimony") seemed far too undreasonable to apply in a broader context.

Plus you started out with "I just don’t think the witnesses add anything to the credibility of the Book of Mormon."  How is it uncharitable to A) take the preceding statement at face value, and B) not construe your remarks discounting "witness testimony" across the board?

9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Does the witness testimony establish that the plates are an ancient record?  No.

You are stacking the deck here.

Evidence is "an item which a litigant proffers to make the existence of a fact more or less probable."

Evidence is what the factfinder uses to reach a conclusion about what is "established" and what is not. 

And there is virtually never a "smoking gun," a single piece of dispositive evidence on which a conclusion is exclusively founded.

Does the witness testimony make the claimed provenance of the Book of Mormon more probably?  Yes.  Decidedly yes.  It is evidence.  Now, the witness statements are not definitive, they are not sufficient.  But to suggest that they are have no probative value at all is simply incorrect.  There is a reason why critics of the Book of Mormon have, in turn, both engaged the witness statements (because they recognize that those statements have probative weight and need to be accounted for) and ignored the statements (because the more you grapple with the statements and the credibility of the testators, the more obviously formidable they become).

9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Does it confirm the accuracy of the “translation?” No.

I agree.  I don't think anyone has suggested that the witness statements are probative as the accuracy of the translation.  

But that's a far different proposition from saying that the witness statements are not probative of anything at all.

9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Does it add evidence of the existence of a proto-Christian civilization in ancient America? Again, no.

Actually, yes.  The plates were purportedly an artifact of the Lehites in the Americas.

9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

What it establishes is that the witnesses saw something they believed to be plates

Not accurate, this.

9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

that appeared to be gold

This is accurate.  "Appeared to be gold" is not the same as, and need not be the same as, "gold."  Tumbaga is a pretty cool fit.  And it's rather interesting that Joseph Smith knew nothing about it.

9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

and, for some, that someone they believed to be an angel appeared to them. That’s pretty much it. 

A lot more than that, I think.

Thanks,

-Smac

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33 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

No, I am not dismissing the witness testimony because it involves the Book of Mormon. What a ludicrous and frankly uncharitable thing to say. Does the witness testimony establish that the plates are an ancient record? No. Does it confirm the accuracy of the “translation?” No. Does it add evidence of the existence of a proto-Christian civilization in ancient America? Again, no. What it establishes is that the witnesses saw something they believed to be plates that appeared to be gold and, for some, that someone they believed to be an angel appeared to them. That’s pretty much it. 

I assume you wouldn’t give much credence to the eleven witnesses of Christ’s resurrection either.  

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6 minutes ago, smac97 said:

So you are dismissing witness testimony in toto?

I was actually giving you the benefit of the doubt, as your categorical declarations ("I don’t know what the witness testimony adds" and "I just think Twain’s words are a humorous comment on the nonvalue of the witness testimony") seemed far too undreasonable to apply in a broader context.

Plus you started out with "I just don’t think the witnesses add anything to the credibility of the Book of Mormon."  How is it uncharitable to A) take the preceding statement at face value, and B) not construe your remarks discounting "witness testimony" across the board?

You are stacking the deck here.

Evidence is "an item which a litigant proffers to make the existence of a fact more or less probable."

Evidence is what the factfinder uses to reach a conclusion about what is "established" and what is not. 

And there is virtually never a "smoking gun," a single piece of dispositive evidence on which a conclusion is exclusively founded.

Does the witness testimony make the claimed provenance of the Book of Mormon more probably?  Yes.  Decidedly yes.  It is evidence.  Now, the witness statements are not definitive, they are not sufficient.  But to suggest that they are have no probative value at all is simply incorrect.  There is a reason why critics of the Book of Mormon have, in turn, both engaged the witness statements (because they recognize that those statements have probative weight and need to be accounted for) and ignored the statements (because the more you grapple with the statements and the credibility of the testators, the more obviously formidable they become).

I agree.  I don't think anyone has suggested that the witness statements are probative as the accuracy of the translation.  

But that's a far different proposition from saying that the witness statements are not probative of anything at all.

Actually, yes.  The plates were purportedly an artifact of the Lehites in the Americas.

Not accurate, this.

This is accurate.  "Appeared to be gold" is not the same as, and need not be the same as, "gold."  Tumbaga is a pretty cool fit.  And it's rather interesting that Joseph Smith knew nothing about it.

A lot more than that, I think.

Thanks,

-Smac

Maybe we just approach things differently. The witness testimony is just that: witness testimony that they saw plates and an angel. Whether I’m stacking the deck or not (I don’t think I am), I don’t know how the testimony adds anything to the claims of an ancient civilization and it’s history, any more than the Strang witnesses add anything to his claims of an ancient brass record. 

In the end, faith in the Book of Mormon is a matter not of evidence but of spiritual witness. I have no argument with spiritual experiences and have never questioned anyone’s testimony. I’m sure you think I’m hard-hearted or something because I don’t find the witness testimony particularly relevant. So be it. 

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On 9/9/2022 at 3:28 PM, Bernard Gui said:

The hoops were usually made of wood or steel. I do not think the Smiths had the skills, facilities, or materials to make steel or iron hoops. A cooper probably didn’t work with metals. The sheet metal that was most available would be tin, but it was not the galvanized tin we use today. 

Back in the good old days on this board, Dan Vogel proposed tin as the most likely metal Joseph used to fabricate the plates. I researched tinsmithing . I even obtained some pure tin sheets and tried to duplicate the gold plates. As a result I concluded tin was not a viable candidate. I don’t think I convinced him, though.

Did coopers buy metal hoops already fashioned or make their own?  Now you have brought this up, it seems unlikely that a small cooper shop would have the tools necessary to roll out and weld a hoop or melt the metal and use a mold or whatever was done to create the hoop itself. 
 

I assume the hoop metal is likely pretty dense and difficult to cut given it has to be strong enough to hold a barrel together. It is not just flimsy sheet metal, but relatively rigid.

Edited by Calm
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10 hours ago, Calm said:

Did coopers buy metal hoops already fashioned or make their own?  Now you have brought this up, it seems unlikely that a small copper shop would have the tools necessary to roll out and weld a hoop or melt the metal and use a mold or whatever was done to create the hoop itself. 
 

I assume the hoop metal is likely pretty dense and difficult to cut given it has to be strong enough to hold a barrel together. It is not just flimsy sheet metal, but relatively rigid.

As I was watering my strawberries yesterday that are planted in a wine barrel my husband found online, I touched the metal rings on them, I have 6 of them, the metal ring is way too thick to be used for the plates, so he'd have to have done some handy work for them to be thinner.

But as I posted earlier, Dan Vogel said back in the day, they had very thin tin shingles for a roof in the right shape that JS could have ordered and used. But all of it is anyone's guess. 

I found this conversation from googling. https://www.reddit.com/r/mormon/comments/kfx6a5/tin_plates_based_on_dan_vogels_theory/

 

 

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On 9/8/2022 at 10:36 PM, Rivers said:

This is a question for the non-believers.  Do you think Joseph Smith had tangible metal plates of some kind or something that looked like metal plates?  Or do you think the plates were completely imaginary?  
 

I’m curious to know if there is any consensus among critics on this matter.

Thanks for starting a thread that has no racism or sexism in it.

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2 hours ago, Tacenda said:

As I was watering my strawberries yesterday that are planted in a wine barrel my husband found online, I touched the metal rings on them, I have 6 of them, the metal ring is way too thick to be used for the plates, so he'd have to have done some handy work for them to be thinner.

But as I posted earlier, Dan Vogel said back in the day, they had very thin tin shingles for a roof in the right shape that JS could have ordered and used. But all of it is anyone's guess. 

I found this conversation from googling. https://www.reddit.com/r/mormon/comments/kfx6a5/tin_plates_based_on_dan_vogels_theory/

 

 

Yeah they made them out of tin and then spray painted them with gold spray paint. 

Humor.

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