Jump to content
Seriously No Politics ×

The Gold Plates


Recommended Posts

4 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I think you are just evading my point. You must also know that a substantial amount of "history" rests on historical statements that are far from proven. Yes, there are some historical statements that we know are dubious. But there are many others which historians tentatively use in their theories, despite their lack of verification. The same goes for testimonial evidence. Many legal arguments rest on testimonial evidence that doesn't rise to the level of fact. Many anthropological arguments do the same thing, such as with interpretations of iconography that seem plausible but which can't be verified. And so on and so forth. You must know that this is true. You must know that the notion that evidence = facts in these fields is just demonstrably false. 

Let us not forget that this entire discussion started with my claim that your evidences are not valuable unless they were bolstered by an appeal to the impossible. You have repeatedly avoided answering this point.

The entire discussion over evidence is just a rabbit hole. We can avoid it entirely by using one of your claims where we have absolutely no disagreement over the facts or their nature as evidence: the word count of the Book of Mormon. How do you justify the claim that you make that the length of the Book of Mormon at just under 270,000 words constitutes evidence for the proposition that the Book of Mormon is an authentic text?

But, to answer your point (because, unlike you, I have tried to answer all of your questions), this is all about the propositions. Now you are the one conflating evidence with proof. The funny thing about historical texts is that they are also artifacts. We can make entirely objective observations about them. Historians and anthropologists can develop propositions which can then be tested (this is sometimes more theory than practical - especially with prehistoric anthropology - but then I noted this earlier). Often these propositions can be shown to be incorrect with the application of later data (and in my experience, historians and anthropologists are more than willing to take new data and revise their propositions). The data drives the discussions.

This is not what happens with some Book of Mormon apologetics. What, in your opinion, could constitute evidence that the proposition (that Nahom in the Book of Mormon should be identified with NHM in the Arabian peninsula) is wrong? How do we falsify that proposition? What test could provide conclusive evidence that the proposition is accurate?

I really want to discuss this aspect of it - but apparently we cannot while you have the opportunity to continue to chase down this disagreement over evidence. So, let's simply adopt your definition of evidence (I don't mind if you use your definition - I don't think it will impact the discussion one way or the other) and then you can explain for me how the word count of the Book of Mormon is evidence (using your definition) of the proposition that the Book of Mormon is an authentic translation of an ancient text.

Link to comment
1 hour ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

I think you are mistaken about things being substantively different relative to the hypothesis. You seem to be suggesting here that an identical sequence of words has the same value to claims of plagiarism as does an observation of a change in writing style.

No. That's not what I am suggesting. What I am saying is that your stated standard for disqualifying something as "evidence" in relation to a hypothesis would disqualify both of these observations, despite the perceived differences in the degree to which they support the hypothesis. If your rationale was applied consistently, you wouldn't be able to say that the word strings were actually evidence of plagiarism. You would only be able to say that they amount to evidence of an intertextual connection.

The following scenario may help further illustrate why your criteria is being applied arbitrarily. 

Imagine if I the first thing I had discovered were the word strings themselves (thereby placing this data in a different position in the scientific method, where it acts as the initial observation rather than data collected to help confirm a hypothesis generated in response to that observation). Let's say I had been reading some of the online literature in relation to the writing assignment, and I noticed that the student happened to be pulling large amounts of text (multiple lengthy word strings) from that same source. According to your criteria, the word strings couldn't actually amount to evidence of plagiarism. They could only amount to a mere observation because they could be explained by multiple causes other than plagiarism.

Do you see the problem? You haven't yet been able to articulate a clear and consistent standard for what does and doesn't count as evidence in relation to a given hypothesis. The same data can be evidence or not evidence depending on an arbitrary factor, such as whether it was discovered first or second in the scientific method. 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
Link to comment
14 hours ago, smac97 said:

The site of Nahom has been touted as solid archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, but it’s hard to know exactly how strong that evidence actually is. Could Joseph have guessed the name by chance? Could he have gotten the name from a contemporary map of Arabia? Some options are less likely than others. I estimate the odds that a Book of Mormon place name would match any of almost a hundred sites in the area around Nahom at just under 1 in 100 (p = .0097).

That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I do think his search area was too small by half, and needs a more rigorous search of the literature to discover what’s there, but 1 in 100 seems fine as an upper bound on the quality of the evidence. A more detailed time intensive search may lower that significantly, but from this critics perspective it’s just not worth the effort. 1 in a hundred things happen all the time. 

Link to comment
33 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:
Quote

The site of Nahom has been touted as solid archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, but it’s hard to know exactly how strong that evidence actually is. Could Joseph have guessed the name by chance? Could he have gotten the name from a contemporary map of Arabia? Some options are less likely than others. I estimate the odds that a Book of Mormon place name would match any of almost a hundred sites in the area around Nahom at just under 1 in 100 (p = .0097).

That’s exactly what I’m talking about.  I do think his search area was too small by half, and needs a more rigorous search of the literature to discover what’s there, but 1 in 100 seems fine as an upper bound on the quality of the evidence.

Okay.

33 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

A more detailed time intensive search may lower that significantly, but from this critics perspective it’s just not worth the effort.

Funny how often that works out to be the case.  I don't really blame critics for not having the willingness to expend the requisite amounts of time/money/resources in meaningfully engaging the points and evidences being presented by Latter-day Saint scholars and apologists.  Life is short, after all.

But I hope you appreciate how vapid and vacuous that excuse actually is.  Of course they have no obligation to defend their position, but then they can hardly expect that position to be taken seriously if they can't be bothered with putting in the work to defend it.  

I am currently litigating a case about a parcel of real property in Tooele County.  The other side's attorney has done a terrible job of marshaling evidence in support of his client's position.  For example, last December he transferred the case to federal court, after which I filed a motion asking the federal judge to remand the case (transfer it back) to state court because the federal court had no jurisdiction.  The other side's attorney filed a response claiming that his client has a contract with the federal government which technically makes them "federal" employees for jurisdictional purposes, such that the federal court has jurisdiction.  I responded that they had presented zero evidence of the existence of that contract, except to assert that it exists.  The federal judge agreed with me and remanded the case back to state court, specifically noting that A) the lawsuit did not have any apparent "federal question" (it involves a Utah state statute, pertains to real property in Utah, is between parties who are all residents of Utah, and does not include any claims based on federal law), B) the party (here, the other guys) who transfers the action to federal court has the burden of establishing jurisdiction, and C) they had failed to present any actual evidence.  

As it turns out, the other side's attorney is kinda sort right.  There was a basis for federal jurisdiction (the Federal Tort Claims Act - a long story).  However, he had failed to marshal evidence pertaining to it, so his clients lost the jurisdictional argument (which is a huge deal, as the existence of federal jurisdiction may well have killed my client's case).

So if critics like Vogel and Jenkins want to discount the probative value of NHM (and any other evidences, for that matter), have at it.  I am certainly willing to listen to what you guys have to say.  As Hugh Nibley put it: "We need more anti-Mormon books. They keep us on our toes."  He was quite correct.  But they aren't doing a very good job at keeping us on our toes when actually putting in substantive work to support their position is, as you put it, "just not worth the effort."

I think the 1997 assessment of Latter-day Saint apologetics by Carl Mosser and Paul Owen, Mormon Scholarship, Apologetics, and Evangelical Neglect: Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It?, remains surprisingly germane today, perhaps even more so than when it was first published. 

Some excerpts:

Quote

The title of this paper reflects five conclusions we have come to concerning Mormon-evangelical debates. The first is that there are, contrary to popular evangelical perceptions, legitimate Mormon scholars. We use the term scholar in its formal sense of "intellectual, erudite; skilled in intellectual investigation; trained in ancient languages."2 Broadly, Mormon scholarship can be divided into four categories: traditional, neo-orthodox, liberal and cultural. We are referring to the largest and most influential of the four categories—traditional Mormon scholars. It is a point of fact that the Latter-day Saints are not an anti-intellectual group like Jehovah's Witnesses.  Mormons, in distinction to groups like JWs, produce work that has more than the mere appearance of scholarship.

The second conclusion we have come to is that Mormon scholars and apologists (not all apologists are scholars) have, with varying degrees of success, answered most of the usual evangelical criticisms.  Often these answers adequately diffuse particular (minor) criticisms. When the criticism has not been diffused the issue has usually been made much more complex.

A third conclusion we have come to is that currently there are, as far as we are aware, no books from an evangelical perspective that responsibly interact with contemporary LDS scholarly and apologetic writings.3 In a survey of twenty recent evangelical books criticizing Mormonism we found that none interact with this growing body of literature. Only a handful demonstrate any awareness of pertinent works. Many of the authors promote criticisms that have long been refuted; some are sensationalistic while others are simply ridiculous. A number of these books claim to be "the definitive" book on the matter. That they make no attempt to interact with contemporary LDS scholarship is a stain upon the authors' integrity and causes one to wonder about their credibility.

Our fourth conclusion is that at the academic level evangelicals are losing the debate with the Mormons. We are losing the battle and do not know it. In recent years the sophistication and erudition of LDS apologetics has risen considerably while evangelical responses have not.4 Those who have the skills necessary for this task rarely demonstrate an interest in the issues. Often they do not even know that there is a need. In large part this is due entirely to ignorance of the relevant literature.

Finally, our fifth conclusion is that most involved in the counter-cult movement lack the skills and training necessary to answer Mormon scholarly apologetic.  The need is great for trained evangelical biblical scholars, theologians, philosophers and historians to examine and answer the growing body of literature produced by traditional LDS scholars and apologists.

Conclusions 2-4 seem quite apt here.  The treatment of NHM has been, I think, pretty anemic.  A bland and passing effort by Vogel and a slightly more rigorous (but still broadly superficial) driveby from Jenkins.  Very little in terms of substance, but plenty of conclusory assertions, appeals to ridicule, etc.  And it looks like this situation will not improve if you are correct that substantively interacting with NHM-related scholarship is "just not worth the effort."

Subsequent to the publication of the above Mosser/Owen article, an Evangelical writer, John Weldon, wrote a response to it: Response To Mosser/Owen and FARMS

Paul Owen then wrote and published a response to Mr. Weldon: A Reply To Brother Weldon

Some excerpts:

Quote

I note at the beginning of appendix 1 that Mr. Weldon writes: "The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) publishes literature in defense of Mormonism, especially the Book of Mormon ." This statement is a factual error, not in terms of what is stated, but what goes conspicuously unstated. As Carl Mosser and I have extensively documented, FARMS does far more than simply defend the Book of Mormon: They are actively engaged in "Ancient Research." They are not FMS; they are FARMS. Why is this important? Because, by ignoring FARMS involvement in the wider field of academic historical research, Mr. Weldon hides from his readers (most of whom probably have little exposure to FARMS) the fact that many of the scholars associated with this organization are respected experts in fields directly pertinent to LDS apologetic claims; fields such as Second Temple Judaism, Ancient Near Eastern literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls and Egyptology. By contrast, no researcher currently involved in apologetic responses to LDS scholarship has any acknowledged expertise in such areas. THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM, WHICH IS NOT GOING TO GO AWAY, NO MATTER HOW LONG WE HIDE OUR HEADS IN THE SAND.

Yep.  The interesting thing here is that Mosser/Owen were, I think, genuinely interested in persuading the Latter-day Saints.  These Evangelical critics have, in recent years, been largely supplanted with a crop of secular critics who seem to have no particular interest in persuading the Latter-day Saints by way of substantive argument and evidence, and instead resort to broad ridicule, scorn, fearmongering, vilification, and so on. 

Owen continues:

Quote

The heart of the problem is Mr. Weldon's refusal to seriously engage LDS scholarship; and this comes to the surface again under the heading Needless Concerns . Brother Weldon tells us: "But at another level, the alleged new evidence for Mormonism isn't impressive--and it never will be when it comes to defending the truth claims of Mormonism." The intellectual narrow-mindedness displayed here is astounding. Of course, such evidence will fail to convince Brother Weldon; but it sure does seem impressive to folks in the LDS Church! In case Brother Weldon has forgotten, THEY are the ones that we Christians are supposed to be talking to. THEY are the ones who need to be shown why FARMS scholarship does not establish the historical and theological truth claims of the Mormon religion. And they are sure as shootin' going to find FARMS scholarship a lot more "impressive" than the frighteningly lame argument: "In a similar fashion, Mormonism is so clearly false on doctrinal grounds, one need not worry their scholarship could ever prove much of anything." My goodness, does Brother Weldon realize how utterly pathetic that must sound to a Mormon's ears? Does he care?!

But I must move on to appendix 6. I find it highly revealing that Mr. Weldon makes two admissions with regard to the complaints raised by Carl Mosser and myself. He cites us to the following effect: "The authors [Ankerberg and Weldon] constantly belittle their opponents---always questioning either their intelligence or integrity." Notice Brother Weldon's admissions: "It's hardly that we constantly questioned the intelligence of all Mormons, but we did question the intelligence of Mormon leaders, apologists, writers, and scholars at points of defending Mormonism. Because we do not think it is intelligent to defend Mormonism." Also: "We did not constantly belittle our opponents, as Mosser and Owen charge, but it is true we did belittle them at places." Again, the intellectual arrogance displayed here is astounding. Since Mormonism is wrong, therefore, those who defend Mormonism are not intelligent. But once again, over 10 million perfectly intelligent people all over the world reject Mr. Weldon's premise: They don't agree that Mormonism is a false religion! And their scholars are defending their truth claims on historical grounds; whereas Brother Weldon would have us refuse to engage them on an intellectual level, and simply declare them unintelligent for defending what is assumed to be untrue. To quote again: "Frankly, this is our view of Mormon theology and apologetics. The truth about Mormon apologetics is that its scholarship in defense of Mormonism is unimportant and of little value." Who on earth does Mr. Weldon expect to convince with a question-begging, exclusion by definition employing, and I must say, thoroughly unchristian argument like that?!

This is the part that came to mind when I read your comment ("A more detailed time intensive search may lower that significantly, but from this critics perspective it’s just not worth the effort").

I think Mosser/Owen wanted to replace Latter-day Saint belief (with, presumably, Evangelical doctrines/precepts), whereas I think most secular critics are more focused on tearing down Latter-day Saint beliefs (both to persuade its members from staying, and to persuade others from joining), being largely or wholly indifferent to the idea of replacing it with something else.

More from Owen:

Quote

Finally, some brief words about Mr. Weldon's reply to Dr. Daniel C. Peterson. First of all, I completely agree with Dr. Peterson's charge that Ankerberg and Weldon failed to interact with the more formidable LDS scholars and theologians. There is no substantial interaction with Stephen Robinson, nor B. H. Roberts, nor Hugh Nibley, nor Orson Pratt. Mr. Weldon admits this: "In fact, we did read something of Pratt, Taylor, Roberts and Nibley, but we did not cite them except in passing." Regarding Dr. Stephen Robinson, he quickly notes three points of doctrine and asks, "what else is needed to disprove Robinson's claim that Mormonism is Christian?" How about a detailed interaction with Robinson's arguments? Might that not be needed? How about something more than pointing out the obvious fact that Mormons are not Christian in the sense that Protestants, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics would define "Christian"? Dr. Robinson's whole argument (which I by no means agree with) is that such definitions are meaningless when one goes back to the pre-Nicene period. Why is Robinson wrong? Mere assertions have absolutely no evidentiary value. Stephen Robinson didn't just make assertions. He offered arguments. Are we honoring God by refusing to do the same, as does Brother Weldon when he writes: "We discussed in our encyclopedia why we don't cite FARMS, and for the same reason we did not cite these authors. When it comes to proving Mormonism, the data, the hard facts, are nonexistent, and thus the research into the data is at best speculative and tentative. . . . Nothing in the above work offers a better defense of Mormonism than what we cited, so we chose works we felt were most likely to be known by lay Mormons." Excuse me, Brother Weldon, but these things need to be demonstrated , not just asserted. And you can't demonstrate that an argument is wrong without taking the time to interact intelligently with it. How convenient it is to take the "Keep It Simple Stupid" (KISS) approach. That way, whenever someone points out that you have neglected important scholarly arguments against your position, you can just say that you were more interested in communicating to the "simple laypeople."

Similarly, I think contrary assessments of NHM (to dispute it's probative value as evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon) "need to be demonstrated, not just asserted."

I also don't think critics can meaningfully counter arguments about NHM "without taking the time to interact with {them}," as it seems "convenient" to take a "it’s just not worth the effort" approach.

33 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

1 in a hundred things happen all the time. 

You omitted the rest of Kyler's remark:

Quote

I estimate the odds that a Book of Mormon place name would match any of almost a hundred sites in the area around Nahom at just under 1 in 100 (p = .0097). By contrast, a liberal estimate of the likelihood that Nahom could have been gleaned from an available map is about 2 in 10,000 (p = .0001585). Regardless, Nahom provides meaningful—though far from overwhelming—evidence in the Book of Mormon’s favor.

The Latter-day Saints are putting forth the effort to meaningfully assess NHM and other evidences, and yet even then we don't hang our hats on such matters.  And we also seem to be keeping these things in perspective ("meaningful -- though far from overwhelming -- evidence...").  These are all secondary and ancillary.

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to comment
5 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Funny how often that works out to be the case.  I don't really blame critics for not having the willingness to expend the requisite amounts of time/money/resources in meaningfully engaging the points and evidences being presented by Latter-day Saint scholars and apologists.  Life is short, after all.

 

5 minutes ago, smac97 said:

But I hope you appreciate how vapid and vacuous that excuse actually is.  Of course they have no obligation to defend their position, but then they can hardly expect that position to be taken seriously if they can't be bothered with putting in the work to defend it.  

That misunderstands the point. The single best and perhaps only external evidence for the Book of Mormon is a 1 in a 100 guess on the upper end. That is not remarkable. That doesn’t need explaining. That the Book of Mormon has something like this is EXPECTED. You and every apologist I am aware of needs to go read this book: https://www.amazon.com/Improbability-Principle-Coincidences-Miracles-Events/dp/B00I3LJAI6/

 

Link to comment
5 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

So, let's simply adopt your definition of evidence (I don't mind if you use your definition - I don't think it will impact the discussion one way or the other) and then you can explain for me how the word count of the Book of Mormon is evidence (using your definition) of the proposition that the Book of Mormon is an authentic translation of an ancient text.

So, my definition of evidence is obviously more expansive than yours, which I think is much more appropriate for most of the fields in which the Book of Mormon's specific claims relate. Here is a description from the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy which I think encapsulate some of my ideas of evidence pretty well: 

Quote

Perhaps the root notion of evidence is that of something which serves as a reliable sign, symptom, or mark of that which it is evidence of. In Ian Hacking's phrase, this is ‘the evidence of one thing that points beyond itself’ (1975: 37). Thus, smoke is evidence of fire, Koplik spots evidence of measles, a certain distinctive and off-putting smell evidence of rotten egg. Here, the paradigm would seem to be that of straightforward correlation: the reason why smoke counts as evidence of fire, but not of impending rain, is that smoke is a reliable indicator or symptom of the former but not of the latter. Taken at face value, the idea of evidence as reliable indicator tends to encourage an inclusive picture of what sorts of things are eligible to count as evidence, according to which either mental or non-mental objects, events and states of affairs can qualify as such. For such entities would seem to be perfectly capable of standing in the relevant relation to other objects, events and states of affairs.

This is the way in which I understood that the student's paper included evidence of plagiarism. Before I read the paper, I knew that one typical sign or indicator of plagiarism was a sudden shift in writing style, especially from less advanced to highly advanced. If you search the internet you will see that this is commonly found on lists of what to look for as signs of plagiarism, so it isn't like I was just making this up. It is fairly common knowledge. Of course, I didn't see the sudden shift in style as direct proof of plagiarism. I knew that evidence could possibly be accounted for by other claims (i.e., it could be evidence of different things). Yet under my definitional framework, that doesn't disqualify the data as evidence for each of the things which it might logically support. It does just the opposite. That data becomes evidence of all of the logically relevant claims simultaneously; it just provides stronger support for some of them more than others. 

This is typically what happens in a courtroom or in competing historical theories. Two sides of the debate will take the same piece of data or evidence and try to demonstrate that it better supports their own conclusion. And then the jury or the reader of a history book gets to decide what conclusion better accounts for the available evidence. This definitional framework has utility because it recognizes that there may be multiple legitimate evidentiary relationships between a single piece of data and various claims, thus each of them can and must be evaluated and weighed according to their respective merits.

This is the way that I tend to view evidence in general. Ideally, if I had the time and interest, I would attempt to look at all the relevant and known data related to a given claim, and any of the data which seems to support the claim to any extent or degree, I will label as evidence of that claim. Thus if a victim was shot with a 9mm and it can be proven that the defendant (accused of shooting the victim) in a criminal trial was known to possess a 9mm, I would see it as increasing the plausibility that the defendant shot the victim. On its own, it wouldn't amount to anything like proof that the defendant shot the victim, intended to shoot the victim, had malice toward the victim or anything else that might be relevant to the overall case. But the plausibility of the defendant shooting the victim with such a weapon naturally increases somewhat when it can be demonstrated that he owned such a weapon. The plausibility of the claim would increase even further if the defendant could be forensically linked to the crime scene, shown to have motive, shown to be violent in the past. And so on and so forth. 

Furthermore, I don't believe something is necessary to be proven in order for it to be seen as evidence in these logic chains. For instance, if a historian has three documents that all independently support a certain historical claim, but which each have a slight chance of being forgeries, the historian may very well move forward with a theory that rests on the assumption that those documents and the claims that they independently make are most likely valid, despite the lack of certain proof about their provenance and internal claims (obviously much more reasoning would be needed to justify the belief in the internal claims, but that is not necessary to delineate at this point). In other words, a valid and reasonable argument doesn't have to be built on facts. It can integrate things that are not strictly fact, but which are reasonably likely to be true, into the overall framework. As far as I can tell, that is typical in the fields of history, law, anthropology and so forth. Of course, the theories in these fields will always be based on facts at the lowest level of analysis. That is true for each piece of Book of Mormon evidence that I pointed to as well. It is the relationship between the fact and the claim that matters. And that relationship often is not and cannot be proven in these fields, despite how integral it may be to a theory's overall integrity and logical framework. 

Evaluating the available evidence can get very complicated when you have large sets of competing data and claims. Again, here is how the Stanford encyclopedia entry describes this phenomenon:

Quote

To the extent that what one is justified in believing depends upon one's evidence, what is relevant is the bearing of one's total evidence. Even if evidence E is sufficient to justify believing hypothesis H when considered in isolation, it does not follow that one who possesses evidence E is justified in believing H on its basis. For one might possess some additional evidence E′, such that one is not justified in believing H given E and E′. In these circumstances, evidence E′ defeats the justification for believing H that would be afforded by E in its absence. Thus, even if I am initially justified in believing that your name is Fritz on the basis of your testimony to that effect, the subsequent acquisition of evidence which suggests that you are a pathological liar tends to render this same belief unjustified. A given piece of evidence is defeasible evidence just in case it is in principle susceptible to being undermined by further evidence in this way; evidence which is not susceptible to such undermining would be indefeasible evidence. It is controversial whether any evidence is indefeasible in this sense.[5]

Following Pollock (1986), we can distinguish between undercutting and rebutting defeaters. Intuitively, where E is evidence for H, an undercutting defeater is evidence which undermines the evidential connection between E and H. Thus, evidence which suggests that you are a pathological liar constitutes an undercutting defeater for your testimony: although your testimony would ordinarily afford excellent reason for me to believe that your name is Fritz, evidence that you are a pathological liar tends to sever the evidential connection between your testimony and that to which you testify. In contrast, a rebutting defeater is evidence which prevents E from justifying belief in H by supporting not-H in a more direct way. Thus, credible testimony from another source that your name is not Fritz but rather Leopold constitutes a rebutting defeater for your original testimony. It is something of an open question how deeply the distinction between ‘undermining’ and ‘rebutting’ defeaters cuts.

Significantly, defeating evidence can itself be defeated by yet further evidence: at a still later point in time, I might acquire evidence E″ which suggests that you are not a pathological liar after all, the evidence to that effect having been an artifice of your sworn enemy. In these circumstances, my initial justification for believing that your name is Fritz afforded by the original evidence E is restored. In principle, there is no limit to the complexity of the relations of defeat that might obtain between the members of a given body of evidence. Such complexity is one source of our fallibility in responding to evidence in the appropriate way.

In order to be justified in believing some proposition then, it is not enough that that proposition be well-supported by some proper subset of one's total evidence; rather, what is relevant is how well-supported the proposition is by one's total evidence. In insisting that facts about what one is justified in believing supervene on facts about one's evidence, the Evidentialist should be understood as holding that it is one's total evidence that is relevant. Of course, this leaves open questions about what relation one must bear to a piece of evidence E in order for E to count as part of one's total evidence, as well as the related question of what sorts of things are eligible for inclusion among one's total evidence.

This is why I have been uninterested in discussing the merits of Nahom. If you disagree with my evidentiary framework (which you clearly do, despite the fact that it better corresponds to the fields most closely related to the Book of Mormon's claims), then you will naturally disagree with most of my statements regarding the various evidences for the Book of Mormon, which are exceedingly complex if one works under the assumption that one's total evidence has a bearing on each of those claims. 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
Link to comment
12 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:
Quote

 

Funny how often that works out to be the case.  I don't really blame critics for not having the willingness to expend the requisite amounts of time/money/resources in meaningfully engaging the points and evidences being presented by Latter-day Saint scholars and apologists.  Life is short, after all.
...

But I hope you appreciate how vapid and vacuous that excuse actually is.  Of course they have no obligation to defend their position, but then they can hardly expect that position to be taken seriously if they can't be bothered with putting in the work to defend it.  

 

That misunderstands the point. The single best and perhaps only external evidence for the Book of Mormon is a 1 in a 100 guess on the upper end.

Again you are omitting the rest of Kyler's comment: "By contrast, a liberal estimate of the likelihood that Nahom could have been gleaned from an available map is about 2 in 10,000 (p = .0001585)."

Moreover, Kyler's 1 in 100 reference appears to only be about "the odds that a Book of Mormon place name would match any of almost a hundred sites in the area around Nahom."  Again, I think that a discussion of the "odds" can and should address not just the commonality in place name (NHM/Nahom sharing the same tri-consonantal root), but also most or all of the other criteria I cited.  That is, the name fits, and the meaning fits, and the timeframe fits, and the location fits, and the relationship with Bountiful fits, and so on.

Again, to quote Gardner: “{T}he data pointing to the connection between the Book of Mormon Nahom and the now-confirmed location of a tribe (and likely place) called nhm are extremely strong. The description fits, the linguistics fit, the geography fits, and the time frame fits. Outside of Jerusalem, nhm is the most certain connection between the Book of Mormon and known geography and history.”

12 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

That is not remarkable. That doesn’t need explaining.

I think it is both remarkable and also needs explaining.  Again, to quote Rappleye and Smoot:

Quote

While the presence of similar names in the Bible might be able to explain the first of these correlations, it simply cannot account for the all the ways the two places correspond. As Daniel C. Peterson once commented, “nhm isn’t just a name. It is a name and a date and a place and a turn in the ancient frankincense trail and a specific relationship to another location.”67 Suggesting that Joseph Smith simply got the name Nahom from the Bible is an insufficient explanation of the correlation.

Similarly, suggesting that Joseph Smith just guessed the name is also an insufficient explanation of the correlation, because the correlation has several additional data points that also need to have been accurately (and luckily) guessed by Joseph Smith.  The name and etymology and date and location and relationship to Bountiful (which in turn implicates even more data points that need to have been accurately and luckily guessed by Joseph Smith).

12 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

That the Book of Mormon has something like this is EXPECTED.

We would expect to see Joseph Smith get all of the foregoing "guesses" correct?  Are you sure?

12 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

You and every apologist I am aware of needs to go read this book: https://www.amazon.com/Improbability-Principle-Coincidences-Miracles-Events/dp/B00I3LJAI6/

Joseph Smith fabricated a place name, Nahom, which - by sheer dumb luck - happens to correlate to a number of interrelated and generally testable data points:

  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of its triconsonantal roots.
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms time (both pre-date 600 BCE).
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of meaning/purpose (place of mourning/burial).
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of its described relationship with Jerusalem and location in the Arabian peninsula (at the southern end of a travel route moving south-southeast (1 Nephi 16:13–14, 33), which subsequently turns toward the east from that point (1 Nephi 17:1)).
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of being located "nearly" westward from a location answering to the BOM's description of Bountiful, that is, on the Arabian coast close to the 16th degree north latitude.
  • Joseph Smith also had to have luckily guessed Nahom relative to a location answering to Bountiful in terms of its other features as well (access from the Arabian interior, fertility, year-round water, game, lumber for building a ship, ore for making tools, ship-launching feasibility, access to suitable winds/currents, etc.).

That's a lot of lucky guesses that all needed to be correct.

You are focusing on the first bullet to the exclusion of the others.

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to comment
4 minutes ago, smac97 said:

That is, the name fits, and the meaning fits, and the timeframe fits, and the location fits, and the relationship with Bountiful fits, and so on.

Again, to quote Gardner: “{T}he data pointing to the connection between the Book of Mormon Nahom and the now-confirmed location of a tribe (and likely place) called nhm are extremely strong. The description fits, the linguistics fit, the geography fits, and the time frame fits. Outside of Jerusalem, nhm is the most certain connection between the Book of Mormon an

I don’t know what to tell you, but that all is included in the 1/100 likelihood of a guess. All there. None of it changes a thing. And I think the area searched is likely too small (100 km either way - I’m just not buying that a location 150 km north would be rejected by apologists. So 1 in 100 is an upper bound. And as Gardner points out it is the “most certain” connection. And that’s putting it mildly. 

Link to comment
9 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Joseph Smith fabricated a place name, Nahom, which - by sheer dumb luck - happens to correlate to a number of interrelated and generally testable data points:

  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of its triconsonantal roots.
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms time (both pre-date 600 BCE).
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of meaning/purpose (place of mourning/burial).
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of its described relationship with Jerusalem and location in the Arabian peninsula (at the southern end of a travel route moving south-southeast (1 Nephi 16:13–14, 33), which subsequently turns toward the east from that point (1 Nephi 17:1)).
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of being located "nearly" westward from a location answering to the BOM's description of Bountiful, that is, on the Arabian coast close to the 16th degree north latitude.
  • Joseph Smith also had to have luckily guessed Nahom relative to a location answering to Bountiful in terms of its other features as well (access from the Arabian interior, fertility, year-round water, game, lumber for building a ship, ore for making tools, ship-launching feasibility, access to suitable winds/currents, etc.).

That's a lot of lucky guesses that all needed to be correct.

That’s all included in the 1 in a 100 (an upper bound). It’s not my fault you don’t understand the math. 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
Link to comment
4 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:
Quote

Joseph Smith fabricated a place name, Nahom, which - by sheer dumb luck - happens to correlate to a number of interrelated and generally testable data points:

  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of its triconsonantal roots.
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms time (both pre-date 600 BCE).
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of meaning/purpose (place of mourning/burial).
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of its described relationship with Jerusalem and location in the Arabian peninsula (at the southern end of a travel route moving south-southeast (1 Nephi 16:13–14, 33), which subsequently turns toward the east from that point (1 Nephi 17:1)).
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of being located "nearly" westward from a location answering to the BOM's description of Bountiful, that is, on the Arabian coast close to the 16th degree north latitude.
  • Joseph Smith also had to have luckily guessed Nahom relative to a location answering to Bountiful in terms of its other features as well (access from the Arabian interior, fertility, year-round water, game, lumber for building a ship, ore for making tools, ship-launching feasibility, access to suitable winds/currents, etc.).

That's a lot of lucky guesses that all needed to be correct.

That’s all included in the 1 in a 100 (an upper bound).

Are you sure?  From Kyler's remarks:

Quote

As I’ve hinted at above, there’s a ton of different aspects of Lehi’s journey that could be pertinent to a Bayesian analysis, from the consistent use of the terms up and down in reference to travel to Jerusalem, to attestation of Hebrew temples built outside of the Holy Land, to viable locations for the Valley of Lemuel and Nephi’s Bountiful. But none of those seem to highlight the potential accuracy of the Book of Mormon narrative in the way Nahom does. So, for the purposes of this episode, we’ll be sticking to those three special consonants and the two (somewhat less relevant) vowels sandwiched between them.
...
But either way, the evidence for Nahom is useful, but it’s far from a silver bullet. It’s not likely that Nahom could’ve been hit on by chance, but it’s not a statistical impossibility either. Its true strength, in my opinion, is as part of the rich tapestry of Old World 
evidence, the majority of which is outside the scope of this episode.

 

4 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

It’s not my fault you don’t understand the math. 

No need to be snide.

And I was not looking at the math.  I was looking at Kyler's statements that he was limiting his analysis to "those three special consonants" and that the "true strength" of Nahom "is as part of the rich tapestry of Old World evidence, the majority of which is outside the scope of this episode."

Thanks,

-Smac

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to comment
7 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Are you sure?  From Kyler's remarks:

Quote

As I’ve hinted at above, there’s a ton of different aspects of Lehi’s journey that could be pertinent to a Bayesian analysis, from the consistent use of the terms up and down in reference to travel to Jerusalem, to attestation of Hebrew temples built outside of the Holy Land, to viable locations for the Valley of Lemuel and Nephi’s Bountiful. But none of those seem to highlight the potential accuracy of the Book of Mormon narrative in the way Nahom does. So, for the purposes of this episode, we’ll be sticking to those three special consonants and the two (somewhat less relevant) vowels sandwiched between them.
...
But either way, the evidence for Nahom is useful, but it’s far from a silver bullet. It’s not likely that Nahom could’ve been hit on by chance, but it’s not a statistical impossibility either. Its true strength, in my opinion, is as part of the rich tapestry of Old World 
evidence, the majority of which is outside the scope of this episode.

Yes. Everything pertinent that you mention in relation to NHM is included. The rest, (finding “bountiful”, the valley of Lemuel, temple) etc is irrelevant to all that you said. And as far as I can tell, the rest has as much evidentiary value as the “seal of mulek” which is laughable. On NHM, you could publish a Bayesian analysis with work that could be agreed on by all sides. I think his paper is a good start. On the rest it’s all just hand waiving IMNSHO. 

Link to comment

There is a new Interpreter  article out on the brass plates

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/a-backstory-for-the-brass-plates/

"Abstract: This paper brings contemporary Ancient Near East (ANE) scholarship in several fields together with the ancient scriptures restored through Joseph Smith to construct a new starting point for interpretation of the teachings of the Book of Mormon. It assembles findings from studies of ancient scribal culture, historical linguistics and epigraphy, and the history and archaeology of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Levant, together with the traditions of ancient Israel and the ancient scriptures restored to Joseph Smith, to construct a contextualized perspective for understanding Lehi, Nephi, and the Brass Plates as they would have been understood by their contemporaries — as prominent bearers of the Josephite textual tradition. This essay offers a hypothetical, but comprehensive backstory for the Brass Plates. Because of its hypothetical character, it cannot be claimed that it is the true account. Rather it is an attempt to build a plausible backstory given the current state of knowledge in the relevant fields of academic research and the facts provided in the ancient scriptures restored through Joseph Smith."

Edited by mfbukowski
Link to comment
14 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:
Quote

That is, the name fits, and the meaning fits, and the timeframe fits, and the location fits, and the relationship with Bountiful fits, and so on.

Again, to quote Gardner: “{T}he data pointing to the connection between the Book of Mormon Nahom and the now-confirmed location of a tribe (and likely place) called nhm are extremely strong. The description fits, the linguistics fit, the geography fits, and the time frame fits. Outside of Jerusalem, nhm is the most certain connection between the Book of Mormon and known geography and history.”

I don’t know what to tell you, but that all is included in the 1/100 likelihood of a guess. All there.

I don't think so.  Again from the author:

Quote

As I’ve hinted at above, there’s a ton of different aspects of Lehi’s journey that could be pertinent to a Bayesian analysis, from the consistent use of the terms up and down in reference to travel to Jerusalem, to attestation of Hebrew temples built outside of the Holy Land, to viable locations for the Valley of Lemuel and Nephi’s Bountiful. But none of those seem to highlight the potential accuracy of the Book of Mormon narrative in the way Nahom does. So, for the purposes of this episode, we’ll be sticking to those three special consonants and the two (somewhat less relevant) vowels sandwiched between them.
...
But either way, the evidence for Nahom is useful, but it’s far from a silver bullet. It’s not likely that Nahom could’ve been hit on by chance, but it’s not a statistical impossibility either. Its true strength, in my opinion, is as part of the rich tapestry of Old World 
evidence, the majority of which is outside the scope of this episode.

Kyler differentiates what you conflate.

14 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

None of it changes a thing.

Ergo no need to interact with or meaningfully respond to it.

Convenient, that.

14 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

And I think the area searched is likely too small (100 km either way - I’m just not buying that a location 150 km north would be rejected by apologists. So 1 in 100 is an upper bound. And as Gardner points out it is the “most certain” connection. And that’s putting it mildly. 

You don't need to exert yourself looking for excuses to avoid expending the requisite amounts of time/money/resources in meaningfully engaging the points and evidences being presented by Latter-day Saint scholars and apologists.  I really meant it when I said "Life is short."  Honest.

But you'll understand why I find your question-begging dismissals unavailing.  

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to comment
8 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

. I am not sure, at this point, whether or not this is deliberate.

I don’t think it is deliberate.  I think there is a certain way of thinking about evidence that is so habitual it is getting in the way of getting your argument.  Or maybe that is just me.  I feel like I am understand your point while I read you, but when I come back to the thread or try to put it in my own words, I feel like I have lost it again. I need to sit down without distractions and write out the points you make to get it to sink in.  :) 

Link to comment
1 hour ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Yes. Everything pertinent that you mention in relation to NHM is included.

Apparently not.

1 hour ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

The rest, (finding “bountiful”, the valley of Lemuel, temple) etc is irrelevant to all that you said.

I did not raise any points as to the Valley of Lemuel or the temple.  Kyler did.  And Kyler raised them as a precursor to his explanation that he would not be including such things in his analysis.

I have pointed to NHM's geospatial relationship with Bountiful, though.  And I find that relationship very relevant.   Joseph Smith fabricating the place name Nahom out of thin air is one thing, but to fabricate it and placing it in the right place (where NHM is located), and placing it at the right time (pre-dating 600 BCE), and getting its purpose/meaning right (mourning/burial), and having it situated "nearly" westward of a viable coastal candidate for Bountiful, and having that candidate fit the various narrative elements (access from the interior, water, game, lumber, etc.).

Not only are these considerations relevant, they are also probative.  

Again, to quote Gardner: “{T}he data pointing to the connection between the Book of Mormon Nahom and the now-confirmed location of a tribe (and likely place) called nhm are extremely strong. The description fits, the linguistics fit, the geography fits, and the time frame fits. Outside of Jerusalem, nhm is the most certain connection between the Book of Mormon and known geography and history.”

Again, to quote Peterson: “nhm isn’t just a name. It is a name and a date and a place and a turn in the ancient frankincense trail and a specific relationship to another location.”

Again, to quote Rappleye/Smoot: "While the presence of similar names in the Bible might be able to explain the first of these correlations, it simply cannot account for the all the ways the two places correspond. ... Suggesting that Joseph Smith simply got the name Nahom from the Bible is an insufficient explanation of the correlation."

1 hour ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

And as far as I can tell, the rest has as much evidentiary value as the “seal of mulek” which is laughable.

Yeesh.  You are only proving my point.  Critics are not meaningfully engaging the evidence.  

An appeal to ridicule may well work for people who already agree with you and your presuppositions, but it won't move the needle much with people like me.  I would really like to see substantive interaction with Latter-day Saint scholarship on NHM, the seal of Mulek, the authorship of the text, Skousen's critical text projects, the statements of the Witnesses, textual evidences (length, complexity, Hebraisms, chiasmus, its internal chronological and geographic consistency, etc.), metal plates, tumbaga, cement in Mesoamerica, barley, sheum, and so on.

Instead, we usually see . . . well, responses such as yours.  Dodges ("it’s just not worth the effort"), appeals to ridicule ("laughable"), and so on.  As I have noted a number of times:

Quote

Daniel Peterson and Bill Hamblin are addressing the evidence.  They are addressing the ramifications of divergent opinions about the origins of The Book of Mormon.  The LDS Church is that Joseph Smith was telling the truth.  That explanation, while audacious, is nevertheless "simple and elegant."  In contrast, alternative naturalistic explanations "just don't work and they get more and more complex," to the point of implausibility (and operating well beyond any notions of supporting evidence).  Dr. Peterson, noting this implausibility to a critic, got a response of "I don’t have to lower myself to your simplistic little dichotomies.”

Here's we're getting a response ("I'm not sure we're even speaking the same language") that is saying pretty much the same thing.  It's a refusal to address the evidence.  A refusal to explore and acknowledge the ramifications (and, frankly, the flaws) in the alternative naturalistic explanations for The Book of Mormon.  

Of course, the critics/opponents of the Church are not obligated to provide a coherent counter-explanation for The Book of Mormon.  But the point is, they have not been able to.  We're coming up on nearly 200 years since the original publication of the text, and yet when the chips are down, and when a well-informed person like Daniel Peterson (or Ryan Dahle) argues for the plausibility of the LDS position, we don't get reasoned responses and rebuttals.  We get glib sarcasm.  We get curt dismissals.  We get anything but an engagement of the evidence.

This is part of why Daniel Peterson "can't manage to disbelieve," and why he suggests to critics (correctly, in my view) that "it’s intellectually incumbent upon people like that to, come on, give us an answer to this. Otherwise it’s like guerrilla warfare. You attack and attack and attack, you always withdraw, you never defend territory. You never have to stake out your own explanation, which then will be subject to criticism and attack."

This is likely why Ryan Dahle seems to be suggesting, in the absence of a coherent counter-explanation re: historicity, "the evidences in favor of faith are collectively better than the current competing arguments."

That you disagree with this conclusion is fine.  That you are incapable and/or unwilling to demonstrate a superior alternative explanation, though, and that you must in the end resort to ridicule rather than substantive reasoning and evidence, is interesting to me.

1 hour ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

On NHM, you could publish a Bayesian analysis with work that could be agreed on by all sides.

I could not.  I lack the competency.

1 hour ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

I think his paper is a good start. On the rest it’s all just hand waiving IMNSHO. 

Nobody is treating NHM like it's a smoking gun.  But it sure seems pretty good, and all the critics can do is scoff and ignore.

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to comment
28 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

There is a new Interpreter  article out on the brass plates

Incidentally, in this thread, I had better make it clear that in no way is my previous utterance, proposition or statement made above intended to imply,  suggest, or recommend in any way, that the above quoted utterance, proposition or statement is intended to suggest or imply or allude to the notion that this alleged fact represents, or is evidence, for, or corresponds to an assertion that new brass plates have been discovered which include the quoted Interpreter essay.

Link to comment
5 minutes ago, Calm said:

I don’t think it is deliberate.  I think there is a certain way of thinking about evidence that is so habitual it is getting in the way of getting your argument.  Or maybe that is just me.  

It's not just you.  I've had the same difficulty.  

He wouldn't be alone in having an engrained "certain way of thinking about evidence."  Historians parse and weigh evidence differently than attorneys do, for example.

5 minutes ago, Calm said:

I feel like I am understand your point while I read you, but when I come back to the thread or try to put it in my own words, I feel like I have lost it again. I need to sit down without distractions and write out the points you make to get it to sink in.  :) 

If you have an inclination, I would like to hear what you have to say.

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to comment
2 hours ago, smac97 said:
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of its triconsonantal roots.

His paper took a geographical area along the coast due west from “Bountiful”, and looked in a 200 km band at place names. It’s included in the 1:100 guess. 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms time (both pre-date 600 BCE).

His paper took a geographical area along the coast due west from “Bountiful”, and looked in a 200 km band at place names. It’s included in the 1:100 guess. 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of meaning/purpose (place of mourning/burial).

NHM refers to a tribe. The Book of Mormon says the place was called “Nahom”. No where does it say that “Nahom” of “NHM” means mourning or burial. I fail to see any relevance. 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of its described relationship with Jerusalem and location in the Arabian peninsula (at the southern end of a travel route moving south-southeast (1 Nephi 16:13–14, 33), which subsequently turns toward the east from that point (1 Nephi 17:1)).

You are just repeating yourself. The Bayesian analysis examines the likelihood that by guessing alone Joseph would be expected to guess an attested to region in the relevant area. 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:
  • Joseph Smith guessed a place name, Nahom, which corresponds with an actual area, NHM, in terms of being located "nearly" westward from a location answering to the BOM's description of Bountiful, that is, on the Arabian coast close to the 16th degree north latitude.

Yes. Again. The Bayesian test looks directly in this area. If you are this bad at understanding math logic and Bayesian Analysis, you should really just bow out. 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:
  • Joseph Smith also had to have luckily guessed Nahom relative to a location answering to Bountiful in terms of its other features as well (access from the Arabian interior, fertility, year-round water, game, lumber for building a ship, ore for making tools, ship-launching feasibility, access to suitable winds/currents, etc.).

The location for bountiful was assumed as a given for the analysis. Given bountiful, what is the likelihood that going more or less due west (within 100 km to the north or south) Joseph could have guessed NHM and gotten lucky. 
 

So yes every single point you make is included in assigning NHM as a 1:100 lucky guess. (As an upper bound). As for the rest? The valley of Lemuel? I assign 100 percent odds that apologists scouring the region could come up with an area that “plausibly” could meet the description. Same with Bountiful. 
 

F00CCAA6-063A-4D02-9068-33FA2027ECCD.thumb.jpeg.82e3c260fad6c07a8ae7b1ed3bb24f0b.jpeg
 

This image has several potential Bountifuls up and down the coast. The location of Bountiful and Nahom are linked and can’t be independently examined in a statistical sense. If the Tribal inscription of the NHM tribe was found further south, then apologists would have favored on of the more southern places. Again given all the tribal names available to choose from in the area, What’s the evidentiary value of NHM vs just blind luck on the part of the author? 1:100 (on the upper end). 
 

If you can’t grasp this, there is no point in continued conversation. 

Link to comment
26 minutes ago, smac97 said:

did not raise any points as to the Valley of Lemuel or the temple.  Kyler did.  And Kyler raised them as a precursor to his explanation that he would not be including such things in his analysis.

Correct. Correct correct. If the Valley of Lemuel and the temple had any evidentiary basis (which they don’t in my opinion) it would be right to consider those independent. 

26 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I have pointed to NHM's geospatial relationship with Bountiful, though.  And I find that relationship very relevant. 

And yet this is accounted for in his 1:100 analysis.  The location of bountiful and Nahom are linked in his analysis. You are simply mistaken to give any additional evidentiary value there. 

Link to comment
30 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Yeesh.  You are only proving my point.  Critics are not meaningfully engaging the evidence.  

There is no evidence there (with the seal of Mulek) to engage with. Zero, zilch nada. If you think there is I suggest you try and publish a paper about it outside a Latter Day Saint forum. It’s an assumption built on an assumption built on an inference tied together with nothing. 

Link to comment

My two cents on Nahom.

The Book of Mormon indicates that Lehi's party traveled to the Red Sea (1 Nephi 2:5–8) and then proceeded in "nearly a south-southeast direction" down the western edge of the Arabian Peninsula, "keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness which was in the borders near the Red Sea" (1 Nephi 16:13–14, 33) until they arrived at "the place which was called Nahom" (1 Nephi 16:34). After that, they traveled "nearly eastward" (1 Nephi 17:1).

What Joseph Smith seems not have realized is that there is a huge mountain range dividing the Red Sea coast from inland Arabia. As S. Kent Brown notes

Quote

A range of mountains, called Al-Sarat, runs almost the entire length of the west coast of Arabia and separates the coastal lowlands from the uplands of the interior. The peaks in the north rise to heights of five thousand feet while those in the south reach much higher. A limited number of passes and valleys offer access from one side of the range to the other.

The Nihm tribal area that apologists want to associate with Nahom is nowhere near the Red Sea coast, unfortunately. It's in the mountains northeast of Sana'a, Yemen, which itself is 7,500 ft (2,300 m) above sea level.

2022-10-21_19-11-11.jpg.b628808a4bbbb4a675575ba2d27280a1.jpg

So, Ishmael was buried in the mountains northeast of Sana'a? Well, no, Warren Aston thinks the Bronze Age cemetery at Ruwaik could be the spot. It's 62 miles (100 km) northeast of Marib, which is a 2-hour drive east of Sana'a. But it's not at all clear that the cemetery was still in use in the 6th-century BCE (see Olivia Munoz, "Protohistoric Cairns and Tower Tombs in South-Eastern Arabia," in Megaliths of the World, vol. 2, ed. Luc Laporte et al. [Oxford: Archaeopress Publishing Ltd, 2022], 905–920).

 2022-10-21_19-33-12.jpg.bc0cad5b186e0be23737c1b381db1467.jpg

And, besides, there were ancient burial sites all over Arabia.

2022-10-21_19-53-11.jpg.f26bed29f3595317d1439efb62bbc2e6.jpg 

Yes, there evidently was a Nihm tribe in the Yemen highlands in the 6th century BCE. The name in South Arabian refers to "dressed masonry" or "dressing of stone by chipping." No relation to Hebrew naḥûm.

But what about one of the proposed sites for Bountiful (Wadi Sayq/Khor Kharfot) being west of the Nihm mountains?

A popular geography book from Joseph Smith's day noted that the southeast of Arabia was known as "Arabia Felix" because it is "blessed with an excellent soil, and in general is very fertile," producing among other things "oranges, lemons, pomegranates, figs, and other fruits; honey and wax in plenty" (Jedediah Morse, Geography Made Easy, being an Abridgement of American Universal Geography [Boston: 1806], 387–388; compare 1 Nephi 17:5–6).

Now, I don't know that Joseph Smith ever read these words. But it's not out of the question. "Morse's Geography" was advertised in the Wayne Sentinel in 1822 and 1823: https://catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org/assets/83a61a2d-8221-4ee5-b763-218457b3647e/0/2

Edited by Nevo
Link to comment
On 10/21/2022 at 3:13 PM, SeekingUnderstanding said:

On NHM, you could publish a Bayesian analysis with work that could be agreed on by all sides.

I don't think that you can do this. A Bayesian analysis has certain requirements. Among them is the fact that we actually have to assign numerical values to the likelihoods. What is the numerical likelihood that Nahom should be identified with NHM? What is the likelihood that the phrase "place  which  was  called Nahom" isn't self-named by the traveling group and instead refers to a pre-existing place name. We need to ask ourselves this question for each of the issues being raised here. And in each case, we have all sorts of questions. Like that second one there. If there is a connection between the name Nahom and the concept of mourning, it makes much more since for the Nephite group to have named the place themselves rather than to have it be a mere coincidence that Ishmael died (or was buried) in a place with that name. What would be the value of the word-play in that circumstance? Even more important is the problem that we are discussing Hebrew worldplay for a text that was never written in Hebrew. What is the likelihood that these kinds of wordplays survive the multiple translations represented by the text? Do you really think you could produce a reasonable Bayesian analysis - let alone one in which the details would be agreed to by both sides?

 

Link to comment
On 10/21/2022 at 2:30 PM, Ryan Dahle said:

This is why I have been uninterested in discussing the merits of Nahom. If you disagree with my evidentiary framework (which you clearly do, despite the fact that it better corresponds to the fields most closely related to the Book of Mormon's claims), then you will naturally disagree with most of my statements regarding the various evidences for the Book of Mormon, which are exceedingly complex if one works under the assumption that one's total evidence has a bearing on each of those claims. 

Like I keep saying, Ryan, you are just avoiding having to present the chain of reasoning. Let's ignore Nahom. Let's instead focus on your claim that the word length of the Book of Mormon (just under 270,000 words) is evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon as a translation of an ancient text. Since we both agree that this claim of yours is based on a fact (which we both believe constitutes evidence), the entire discussion of what evidence is, isn't necessary for this particular discussion.

Link to comment
27 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

I don't think that you can do this. A Bayesian analysis has certain requirements. Among them is the fact that we actually have to assign numerical values to the likelihoods. What is the numerical likelihood that Nahom should be identified with NHM? What is the likelihood that the phrase "place  which  was  called Nahom" isn't self-named by the traveling group and instead refers to a pre-existing place name. We need to ask ourselves this question for each of the issues being raised here. And in each case, we have all sorts of questions. Like that second one there. If there is a connection between the name Nahom and the concept of mourning, it makes much more since for the Nephite group to have named the place themselves rather than to have it be a mere coincidence that Ishmael died (or was buried) in a place with that name. What would be the value of the word-play in that circumstance? Even more important is the problem that we are discussing Hebrew worldplay for a text that was never written in Hebrew. What is the likelihood that these kinds of wordplays survive the multiple translations represented by the text? Do you really think you could produce a reasonable Bayesian analysis - let alone one in which the details would be agreed to by both sides?

 

On the connection between NHM and mourning no. An analysis is only possible, as you say, if we assume that the site was not named by Lehi and company. Further, you would have to agree on a search area that is close to due west from Bountiful. As shown by the potential bountiful sites this search area could be quite large north to south and I think the analysis as performed in the article SMAC97 linked to is much to small. As shown on the map I linked above, potential Bountiful sites span a 200 mile range from north to south. (The study linked looked in an area too small by half). Finally you would have to include some uncertainty for future names in the region yet to be discovered. 
 

Could parameters like these be agreed to by everyone? Probably not. But they could put upper and lower bounds. The study linked estimated 1:100 vs a guess. I think that is an upper bound. I think an exhaustive analysis in a broader search area would bring that closer to perhaps 1:20, but it’s just a guess. 

Link to comment

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...