Powerful Evidence Against the Book of Mormon

I was asked why I don’t provide evidence against the Book of Mormon as well as for. Well, as part of what may be a more balanced approach, let me admit that there are many arguments that are used against the Book of Mormon. Certainly one of the most common, one that is viewed as a “slam dunk” argument by many critics, is the one based on Alma 7:10. Mormons, hold on to your testimony, or better yet, quit reading right now if your faith is weak, because I’m about to reveal one of the top 10 dirty little problems about the Book of Mormon, a problem that many critics say we Mormons don’t want others to know about. And frankly, Mormons rarely get up in testimony meeting and discuss this problem, seminary manuals are silent about it, and missionaries rarely tell it to their investigators. It’s like the whole Church is trying to hide a fatal flaw in the Book of Mormon that anybody with an IQ of about 40 or so could think of.

Still reading? Beware – because here it is. Alma 7:10 says that Christ was born in the land of Jerusalem, but the Bible teaches that He was born in Bethlehem. In fact, every school child knows that Christ was born in Bethlehem. Joseph Smith’s fraudulent work was so clumsy, so ignorant of the teachings of the Bible, so devoid of intelligence, so absent of thought and research, that he got messed up regarding one of the most basic facts in the whole Bible. Absolute idiocy, an obvious flaw, and exactly the kind of nonsense we would expect from an ignorant farmboy trying to make up scripture on his own.

So there you go! If you’re looking for a reason to reject the Book of Mormon, that’s about as good as any.

However, if you’re looking for understanding, you may want to ask yourself if there might be something more to this issue. It sure looks like a slam-dunk argument against the Book of Mormon, clear, logical, straightforward, undeniable. But many times the critics leave out some important information (often unintentional, I’m sure, at least at first). Could there be any possible answer to so powerful an argument? Perhaps. Take a look and judge for yourself. Actually, there is much more to be said on this issue than that link gives, but it’s one place to start.

Here’s a quick summary of the issues from the above links:

  1. Bethlehem is only 5 miles from Jerusalem, making it virtually a suburb of the city. Thus, referring to the birthplace of Christ as being in the land of Jerusalem is quite reasonable.
  2. For people long and far removed from Jerusalem, referring to Bethlehem as being in the land of Jerusalem actually makes more sense that referring to the tiny village itself, just like people from Brea, California or Sandy, Utah might tell Europeans that they are from Los Angeles or Salt Lake City, respectively.
  3. Ancient documents from Lehi’s era support the concept of Jerusalem being viewed of as more than just a city, but a region including outlying villages.
  4. The Dead Sea Scrolls refer to the “land of Jerusalem” and a non-LDS scholar commenting on that passage notes how this phrase “greatly enhances the sense of historicity” of a document. It’s an authentic phrase.

Overall, rather than being a major flaw, Alma 7:10 is an entirely authentic touch that is perfectly consistent with the hypothesis that the Book of Mormon is an ancient Semitic document. It strains credulity to think that Joseph would be so brilliant as to add that touch, when it is so obviously “wrong” to all the learned Bible scholars among anti-Mormon ranks.

And are we supposed to believe that the farmboy who was so ignorant of the Bible as to make the blunder of Alma 7:10 was at the same time so perceptive and such a great scholar of the Bible that he could detect and imitate Hebraic literary tools such as chiasmus or paired tricola long before they were well recognized by typical Bible scholars???

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Author: Jeff Lindsay

95 thoughts on “Powerful Evidence Against the Book of Mormon

  1. Don’t forget other ‘fatalities’ such as horses, steel or wheat. Man, did Joseph get it wrong! Maybe a bit more research on the current trends of scientific knowledge would enabled him to put more ‘authentic’ record.

    There is also an issue that has not been put forward. It included the knowledge thac common people had about warfare manouvres. Should we examine the usage of military tactics, such as those utilised by Helaman or Moroni. it would require a formal training in military arts to include all of the warfare that is presented in the Book of Mormon. I would very much like to know how, given the environment of the United States in the early 1800’s someone could imagine those guerrilla tactics. Was it pure luck?

  2. Jeff if you are referring to my comments yesterday. No, you got it wrong again. No wonder you get such hostile comments at times. It is difficult to communicate with you. You suggested that I had duct tape on and could not see. Yet, after leaving comments twice yesterday, you still can’t figure out what I meant. Or are you just making things up?
    You said
    “I was asked why I don’t provide evidence against the Book of Mormon as well as for.”
    That was not what you were asked by me at all. I asked “Could it be that you are just seeing what you want to see?”
    I did not ask for you to provide evidence against the BOM. I said,
    “I see that quite commonly on your site every evidence you examine always points to the deviness or thruthfulness of the BOM or Mormon religion. Evidence supporting your belief system-100%. Evidence against-NIL ”
    Today’s post was providing a well balanced approach? According to whom? It just sounded hollow to me. I hope you were not serious. And no, just so you understand. I am not asking you for a balanced approach. I am asking if your bias clouds the way you study the evidence? It is not likely that every time you examine something you get the answer you want. Meaning, every answer I get supports my belief system. If that were the case, I think an independant unbiased party should be employed to see if those results stand up.
    Have you ever noticed that every time something comes out in the media about the LDS church that puts the church in a good light, it is true. You certainly post about such things here on your blog. And if something comes out that reflects poorly on the Church it is false, biased, inspired by Satan or the Church or its leaders were misinterpreted. It sounds so comic book that the Church is always good and right. Any evidence to the contrary is certainly the work of the Devil. That doesn’t sound comic book to you?
    I do agree with what you said yesterday though. You might just be seeing what you want to see. It’s comforting to write about your studies and have other members pat you on the back and say how great you are and how right you are. Yet, when someone like me comes along and asks if you are biased about how you see things, you attack and become mean spirited. Or do you only want worshipers and followers of you to comment on what you write? How much could be learned from that?

  3. I just found this blog from a link on Times and Seasons. Good blog. I especially enjoyed your post about bishops. It’s so nice to know bishops are human.

  4. Greetings Jeff,

    As someone who is relatively new to the blogging world i just wanted to say hello and good job on all that you are doing. I have been observing you from afar! As a convert to the Church i have found your contributions and the contributions of others like yourself to be very helpful and beneficial- especially when i was a very new convert!

    May God continue to bless you in all of your righteous endeavors!

  5. Anon (or Chris/Andy/Ram/Bill/etc.):
    Again you mischaracterize by calling rebuttals “attack and become mean spirited.”

    Want some cheese with that whine?

    Whininess, hyperbole, and mischaracterizations are hallmarks of the RfM crowd.

    Look man, I’m sorry if you got hurt in the church. (That’s the common thread for most of the RfM-ers.) Bad things sometimes happen. People fail because they are not perfect.

    But your insinuation that only an “independant unbiased party” can legitimately study and comment on Book of Mormon evidence is kind of absurd.

    Catholics are allowed to do Catholic studies, Jews are allowed to do Jewish studies, Muslims can, Mormons can, etc., etc. Do you go to their web sites and question if they are seeing only what they want to see? Why here?

    It looks like you’re just trying to sow doubt. You haven’t brought anything new or positive to the table. It appears that you’re following in the footsteps of disaffected and former members. The more people the RfM-ers “convert” to their cause, the more they feel justified in leaving the church.

    Or are you claiming to be a true Bible-believing Christian and are come to save us from our folly? If that’s the case, let me know, because I can respect them. I was somewhat of a fundamentalist/evangelical christian when I was younger.

    Would you call the propaganda over at RfM independent and unbiased? Is all analysis of pro/con Mormon stuff over there done by independent and unbiased parties? No way! They’re more biased than TBM Mormons are. Jeff allows polite anti-mormon statements here, but they don’t allow polite pro-mormon statements there.

    Do you want to see independent unbiased research into Book of Mormon claims? Then you go out and hire yourself some independent unbiased researchers, give them plenty of money, but don’t tell them what to do, or how to do it, because then they would be biased by their employer. Why don’t you set up an independent foundation, with an independent board of directors, and you just fund it all? If you want to see something, then _you_ pay for it.

    Could your views be biased because you got hurt in the church? Mine did. Until I figured out that problems in the church are human failings, not God’s failings.

    The Book of Mormon is true. The LDS church is the Lord’s official church. The problems in it are the faults of its imperfect members. As long as God allows imperfect human beings to be in his church, and take leadership positions in it, there are going to be some problems and some people are going to get hurt.

    But it’s been that way since the beginning of the world. Just a few examples: Adam, the first patriarch and first head of the church, one of his sons killed another. Jacob tricked Esau and his father. Then Jacob’s (Israel’s) kids weren’t good. They sold the younest into slavery! They all lied to their father. They killed a whole village because someone slept with their sister. One son of Jacob slept with another one of his wives or concubines.

    Even Moses had problems. David and Solomom had problems. Paul had problems with church members. Peter and Paul had a rivalry going.

    The point being: The only time God’s true church was “perfect” was the city of Enoch, and when it was perfected, it was taken from the earth. And the three generations of Nephites after the coming of Christ were pretty good, but by the fourth generation, things started going downhill.

    Other than those instances, the official church has never been a perfect church.

    If you’ve already left the church. I advise you, for your own emotional health, let it alone, ignore it, and live your life. If you haven’t left the church, then seek resolution within the church, going up the chain of authority to resolve whatever offenses there were. If you want forgiveness of your sins, then learn to forgive others their trespasses against you. I know it’s a hard thing to do. But if you don’t forgive the jerks who hurt you, or at least give the judgement for their offenses over to Christ, it will eat away inside you forever.

    Solutions or answers to human failings, yours or anyone else’s, won’t be found in proving the church wrong. Even if, just supposing the church is totally false, that won’t make the hurt go away. You’ll still have to forgive them (turn the offense over to Christ), eventually, in order to heal. The clue to the truthfullness of that is found in the observation that the RfM-ers never really recover and move on.

  6. Here is proof that saying that Jesus was born in Jerusalem is biblically sound:

    2 Kgs. 14: 20
    20 And they brought him on horses: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.

    Luke 2: 4
    4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem•; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

  7. To BOMII or whatever you call yourself.
    “Whininess, hyperbole, and mischaracterizations are hallmarks of the RfM crowd.”
    I dont know what you are talking about.
    “Look man, I’m sorry if you got hurt in the church.”
    I didn’t say that. Don’t know where you got that from or why you think that.
    “But your insinuation that only an “independant unbiased party” can legitimately study and comment on Book of Mormon evidence is kind of absurd.”
    I didn’t say that nor insinuate that. I was talking about all of Jeff’s studies.
    “Catholics are allowed to do Catholic studies, Jews are allowed to do Jewish studies, Muslims can, Mormons can, etc., etc. Do you go to their web sites and question if they are seeing only what they want to see? Why here?”
    I don’t know or care about their religions. Only my own. They can think what they like or be biased if they like. I don’t stick my nose in their religion or business.
    “But your insinuation that only an “independant unbiased party” can legitimately study and comment on Book of Mormon evidence is kind of absurd.” Again, I didn’t say that.
    “Could your views be biased because you got hurt in the church? Mine did. “
    Then I think you are weak and simple minded. I have not gotten hurt in the church. Why do you keep saying that? Are you programed to say that?
    “Would you call the propaganda over at RfM independent and unbiased? Is all analysis of pro/con Mormon stuff over there done by independent and unbiased parties? No way! They’re more biased than TBM Mormons are.”
    I don’t know what I would call it. I have never been there. I don’t care what a bunch of ex-mormons think or write. You have been there from what you write. Why do you go there? What purpose does it serve? You go there and mischarecterize what people say too? You read into what people say there and then question them on your own interpretaion of what they say?
    “Or are you claiming to be a true Bible-believing Christian and are come to save us from our folly?”
    I don’t know who you are nor does it interest me if you are saved or not. I was asking Jeff a question about his research.
    “Could your views be biased because you got hurt in the church? Mine did. Until I figured out that problems in the church are human failings, not God’s failings.”
    I read your some of your stories about your mission and experience with other members. I think you have major problems. I have never seen another missionary want to kill his companions. You scare me.
    “If you’ve already left the church. I advise you, for your own emotional health, let it alone, ignore it, and live your life. If you haven’t left the church, then seek resolution within the church, going up the chain of authority to resolve whatever offenses there were.”
    Left the Church. What are you talking about? Seek resolution? For what? I have no idea what you mean or what you are talking about.
    Please don’t address me again. It is too difficult to read your ramblings and the leaps you make in logic are incredible and absurd.
    Interesting. I only ask Jeff if he sees what he wants to see when he examines evidence and I get this.

  8. How about we cool down this written yelling match? Quite frankly (sorry if someone thinks this is cliche), I can see where all parties are coming from.

    Anon:

    Often, we members of the church are so bombarded with the same old drivel of “arguments” (if they can be called that) that we close ranks and descend into siege mentality. It’s the tendency when faced with attacks from all sides. I actually agree wtih you; members often take trivial evidence too far in trying to “prove” the Church is true. I believe that such attempts do more to undermine the credibility of this work than any amount of fair questioning.

    To address your question (at least general terms, and to speak for many church history scholars (a particularly explosive area of study for those whose gospel understanding is weak), I feel under no obligation to write a white-washed history of any element of the Church. You’ve certainly heard it before, but people (including prophets) are quite human. If you were to walk up to me and begin telling me that research showed that so and so had a certain imperfection (even a glaring one), I would listen to your claims, though I might disagree with your use of evidence.

    Concerning bias on the part of Church members, I’ve generally seen Mormon scholars to be more forthright in their claims. Scholars such as Grant Underwood, Ronald Walker, and Richard Bushman, are all quite frank about blemishes on individual prophets, such as JOseph or Brigham (please see the new bio of Joseph, Joseph Smith: Rough STone Rolling). ON the other hand, non-Mormon scholars simply cannot take such fantastic stories seriously. Consequently, they dismiss them and the evidence supporting them out-of-hand as an anomaly, trickery, or outright fraud. This, I believe, limits free inquiry far more than anything LEGITIMATE MOrmon scholars do.

    In my studies, I have learned some things that many Orthodox members would be uncomfortable hearing, at least in a Sunday School setting. Yet, these things do not shake my testimony. Quite the opposite, they strengthen it. As Boyd K. Packer noted, they teach us “how a man can become a prophet.”

  9. I’m not trying to answer for Jeff, but of course a person will usually see what they want to see when they examine evidence. After all, isn’t that what they’re looking for? I know I get excited when I find something a little bit tangible that may have connections to the scriptures. For instance, in high school, we were talking about how the Native Americans got here, and at the time the theory was the Bering Land Bridge. I put forth the idea that some may have come by boat. Naturally, being the only Mormon at my high school, everyone thought that was the most ridiculous, improbable thing they’d ever heard. Fast forward to college, Anthropology 101. Bering Land Bridge timing is off, but since there were people in Australia by the time there were people in North America, that meant that humans knew how to build boats and they could have come by boat following the shoreline around to North America. Come to find out, it only takes about 2 months to row from Oregon to Chile. Now, this certainly doesn’t fit the Book of Mormon story, but going from “Boats?! You’re nuts!” to “Boats are now a dominant theory” surely got my attention. Does this prove that the Book of Mormon is true? Definitely not. No amount of science will. In fact, no amount of science will prove that the Book of Mormon or the Church is true or untrue. But it’s fun to see the clues, a little something tangible to wave in the faces (I don’t really do that–I usually keep to myself) of those who have their “concrete” damnable evidence against the BOM or the Church. Don’t get me wrong–I love science. I excelled in biology, chemistry, and physics in college. Core requirements were a drudgery for me. But I do have issues with the scientific community and the feeling that they know everything. Ironic since the body of knowledge is constantly being rewritten, not just added to.

    I love this quote from Michael Crichton on the scientific community (from the intro to “Prey”): “We think we know what we are doing. We have always thought so. We never seem to acknowledge that we have been wrong in the past, and so might be wrong in the future. Instead, each generation writes off earlier errors as the result of bad thinking by less able minds–and then confidently embarks on fresh errors of its own.”

    It works for science the same way it works for the scriptures–you can prove anything you want to by them. Our view is tainted by our culture, too. I really wish we could learn the gospel in the vacuum. For instance, on another blog, there was a discussion about what it means for families to be together forever. Is it with just your spouse or your kids? I know that westerners typically think of family in terms of nuclear family, but in other societies, communal living is the norm, and family most definitely includes aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and the like. Either way is going to color your view on the matter.

    The only true way to know anything for sure is to take it to the true authority–God. But it’s fun picking up on little evidences along the way.

    I can’t speak for Jeff, but that’s how I see it.

  10. Hey anon, there was a tongue-in-cheek aspect to the post’s “objectivity,” but it illustrates something important: many of the arguments against the Book of Mormon have another side that, when examined, shows that the weakness may actually be a strength. It’s a common pattern, and it merits thoughtful consideration.

    You ask if “only want worshipers and followers of [me] to comment on what [I] write”? No – I welcome discussion about what I write here. Plenty of critical comments are left standing. But please note that you still haven’t commented on the topics I’ve raised. Making more sweeping comments about bias without addressing the topics being discussed reminds me of the people I complained about, the ones wrapped in intellectual duct tape.

    Now it is a legitimate response to say that Alma 7:10 is just one verse and could have been a lucky hit, etc., etc., or to indicate that there are more serious apparent errors that should be addressed first, but just crying “bias, bias” isn’t very helpful here.

    Let me clarify what I tried to say earlier: Of course I’m biased. I know God exists, I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I’m writing from the perspective of a defender of the faith. I’m willing to admit that there are questions I can’t answer and things that I can’t figure out (hey, I don’t get polygamy, I wish the 1978 revelation on the priesthood had been given many years earlier, I wish the Word of Wisdom were more tolerant of tea and perhaps even coffee, I think tithing policies should include tithing deductible items, I don’t understand some statements attributed to Brigham Young, and I am repeatedly frustrated that the Lord doesn’t choose to do everything my way). But in the midst of all such issues, I still know a few things to be true, and I will defend them. So if someone argues that Christ was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem, making the Book of Mormon to be false, I’m not likely to buy it and leave the Church. Rather, I’ll look for the answer that may be there, and if it’s interesting, I just might share it. In short, yes, I’m biased!

    One more bias: I don’t like anonymous posts. I suggest getting some kind of moniker so we can tell who is who when commenting, but for now I’ll allow anonymous comments as a convenience to those who wish to make a quick comment.

  11. Sister in Indy:

    Michael Crichton’s skepticism of the scientific community’s groupthink is not an argument that bolsters BofM historicity.

    Quite the contrary. He is a huge proponent of the scientific method.

    He argues against the scientific community’s extrapolation of minor evidences into grand theories and proofs.

    Kind of like Jeff Lindsay. Set up silly strawmen, knock them down, and say “see, BofM could be true.”

    Crichton would probably look at the physical, archaeological, linguistic, anthropologic, botanic, metallurgical, literary, and other evidences of pre-Columbian Americas and say that no evidence supports a conclusion of BofM historicity.

  12. “Hey anon, there was a tongue-in-cheek aspect to the post’s “objectivity,” but it illustrates something important: many of the arguments against the Book of Mormon have another side that, when examined, shows that the weakness may actually be a strength. It’s a common pattern, and it merits thoughtful consideration.”
    Yes, I have noticed that when you want to ridicule or belittle what you don’t agree with you use sarcasm or post with tongue planted in cheek. I have seen you call it humor. I called it being hollow. Don’t think it is too helpful.
 “You ask if “only want worshipers and followers of [me] to comment on what [I] write”? No – I welcome discussion about what I write here. Plenty of critical comments are left standing. But please note that you still haven’t commented on the topics I’ve raised. Making more sweeping comments about bias without addressing the topics being discussed reminds me of the people I complained about, the ones wrapped in intellectual duct tape.”
    You are wrong again. I have not made one comment about bias. I asked a simple question. I will repeat it. Are you just seeing what you want to see? I asked a question about your bias. I did not make “sweeping comments” about bias.
    
”Now it is a legitimate response to say that Alma 7:10 is just one verse and could have been a lucky hit, etc., etc., or to indicate that there are more serious apparent errors that should be addressed first, but just crying “bias, bias” isn’t very helpful here.” 

    Round and round we go. I didn’t cry bias. I asked you if your bias clouds your judgement when you examine evidence. It was a question. I did not say you were biased and your results should be thrown out because of it. What isn’t helpful is for you to continue to say I have said what I have not.
    
”Let me clarify what I tried to say earlier: Of course I’m biased. I know God exists, I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I’m writing from the perspective of a defender of the faith. I’m willing to admit that there are questions I can’t answer and things that I can’t figure out (hey, I don’t get polygamy, I wish the 1978 revelation on the priesthood had been given many years earlier, I wish the Word of Wisdom were more tolerant of tea and perhaps even coffee, I think tithing policies should include tithing deductible items, I don’t understand some statements attributed to Brigham Young, and I am repeatedly frustrated that the Lord doesn’t choose to do everything my way). But in the midst of all such issues, I still know a few things to be true, and I will defend them. So if someone argues that Christ was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem, making the Book of Mormon to be false, I’m not likely to buy it and leave the Church. Rather, I’ll look for the answer that may be there, and if it’s interesting, I just might share it. In short, yes, I’m biased!”

    Great! I knew you were biased. Now, what I was asking is, Do you don’t think your bias changes the way you look at the evidence that you gather about the BOM or the Church? Certainly the topics you bring up and discuss here are of concern to many LDS. I don’t get polygamy either. I don’t want to go into it but I don’t think it casts a favorable light on JS. I don’t like having to defend it each time someone finds out I am a LDS. I too wish SWK had received that priesthood revelation sooner. Would have been great to point to it and show non members how forward thinking the church is. I wish that the WOW had been followed by our early Prophets. Wish BY didn’t like wine so much. Wish he had not become so rich in SL. I wish I wish I wish But, things didn’t happen the way I would have wanted them to happen. What bothers me about these things is that members of the Church deny they happened, explain them away, or say it is just Satan’s way of trying to destroy the Church. I think it just makes us look bad. It makes us look like we are afraid people will find out things about our past. I think it shows that we are afraid to say the Church was wrong. Also, I agree with what Walker posted about members trying to prove the Church is true. This is what he said
    “I actually agree wtih you; members often take trivial evidence too far in trying to “prove” the Church is true. I believe that such attempts do more to undermine the credibility of this work than any amount of fair questioning.”
    
”One more bias: I don’t like anonymous posts. I suggest getting some kind of moniker so we can tell who is who when commenting, but for now I’ll allow anonymous comments as a convenience to those who wish to make a quick comment.”
    I do not have a blog so did not get a moniker. I have not seen you suggest to others that post anonymously to get a moniker. Or is it that you just don’t like what I have to say? Not sure why that would be. I asked a question and made no judgement on your findings. Was my question that threatening?

  13. I would take the side of what Tom/Anonymous presents, up to a point. Sometimes defenders of the faith have the same weakness as the Anti-Mormon camp, they tend to exaggerate information and present in their light, as well as playing some ‘mental gymnastics’ in order to defend an aspect of Mormonism. I wish to make it clear that I am not criticising your efforts, Jeff. I particularly like your line of reasoning in defending the Church. Your pages have helped me answer some questions that I had. Yet the point made by Tom/Anonymous is valid, though. In our intent to defend the Church, should we discard discarding questions or elements that would provide a negative response?

    I defend the calling of Joseph Smith as a prophet, but not Joseph Smith as a human. Yes, I would have liked that he left the first presidency succession clearly stated, that the priesthood was given to all men, regardless of race or lineage on conditions of worthiness so that all mankind can be saved. That Bruce R. McConkie would have thought what he wrote a bit more before publishing so called ‘Mormon Doctrine’ and so many issues that could be said. I agree that we need to hold fast at what we believe (to paraphrase 1 Thessalonians 5:21) It is a fine line doing apologetics. I would not think, though, that in order to present a ‘balanced’ approach you need to include all the smut the Antis provide. But sometimes they have made LDS people search more in what and why we believe.

    Patricia:

    If Michael Crichton viewed the Bible with all the tools that you mention, what would it be the conclusions? What about the stories recorded there? A ‘universal’ flooding? A sea parting so that people could pass? Bread falling from the sky? A column of fire guiding a massive migration? What scientific evidence do we have of these things? The birth of Christ has been disputed. The image of Christ has also been challenged by modern science. Are the stories in the Bible false? Beware of the parameters you set, because Jeff has actually pointed out that the Book of Mormon COULD have a Mesoamerican setting. Not by building straw men, but by showing evidences of plausibility. He is not ‘proving’ that the Book of Mormon is true, but he is giving several pointers of why it could be a record set in the Americas.

    Consider also that archeology has focussed more on Middle East and Egypt more than the Americas. There is still a lot that we do not know. And there was a lot of destruction of the knowlege of the indigenous people, both deliberate and from the passage of time. If the Book of Mormon was ‘proven’ by archeology, would you then accept it for what it actually is, i.e., revealed word of God through prophets to the inhabitants of the Americas?

  14. Tom:

    While I’m glad you agree with me, I assume you recognize the overall spirit of my post as a faithful. My issue lies not so much in defending the Church as it does in defending it blindly and/or simplistically. I do not want to jump into your personal debate with Jeff, but I must admit, the question you posed to jeff (“are you seeing what you want to see?” “are you letting your bias affect your research?”) is so loaded that one almost needs a background check to ask it 🙂 Again, just a bit of humor. All in good fun.

    I agree that it would have been quite handy if President Kimball had received the revelation earlier. Then again, it would have been for Peter, I’m sure, to have received his revelation to preach to the Gentiles earlier. I mean, the issue divided the early Christian quorum like no other. Having seen the gammit of Church history, there is SO MUCH MORE I wish I understood.

    But that does not preclude me from having a firm conviction in the Church’s truthfulness. In some ways, these weaknesses highlight the greatness of the Church’s potential, just as the founding fathers’ foibles did not stand in the way of creating the longest standing, self-created Constitution in world history.

    Tom, I would encourage you to rethink what your membership in the church really means. Does spiritual knowledge really come down to how many hidden skeletons we know about?
    Hardly. Don’t let present day (dare I say it?) biases stand in the way of understanding Joseph’s/Brigham’s/the Church’s past as it was understood at the time. As I said before, I know about things that some church members would not feel comfortable knowing. That does not place me above them. Rather, we just use different raw materials to form the same artwork of testimony.

  15. One doesn’t need a blog to have a moniker – just register at blogger.com. I would encourage commenters to do it.

    I may only be seeing part of the picture when I make comments. Of course – that’s true for all of us. So if you are concerned that I’m missing soem perspectives, feel free to fill me in – preferably staying somewhat on topic.

  16. Patricia: “Crichton would probably look at the physical, archaeological, linguistic, anthropologic, botanic, metallurgical, literary, and other evidences of pre-Columbian Americas and say that no evidence supports a conclusion of BofM historicity.”

    I hate to seem ungrateful. The appearance, here, of a bona fide mind reader is certainly cause for rejoicing, and I have no doubt whatever that Patricia has mastered all of the relevant pre-Columbian linguistic, anthropological, botanical, metallurgical, literary, and other data, and properly applied that vast collection of data to the question of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

    But even if Patricia’s valuable insight into how Michael Crichton would probably react to the question of Book of Mormon historicity is true — and I’m certainly not qualified to dispute her intuition — so what?

    I’ve never taken Michael Crichton as my guide in any important life decision. Why should his hypothetical opinion regarding matters in which he has no demonstrated interest or expertise be my guide in this matter?

  17. Daniel Peterson

    Snarkiness does not profundity make.

    When an authority figure is cited to bolster one’s argument (as was Crichton), it becomes relevant to the discussion to point out if that figure is being represented properly.

    I would take the same approach with you, but you don’t meet the qualification.

  18. Who did the better job or representing Crichton – the person who gives an exact quote from him, or someone who tells us what they think he would conclude in a hypothetical teaching?

  19. Patricia: “Snarkiness does not profundity make.”

    Nor does it shallowness make. It’s in a different category. “Snarkiness,” if I understand the term, concerns tone. Profundity refers to content. Profound comments can be made in all sorts of tones, as can shallow comments.

    Patricia: “I would take the same approach with you, but you don’t meet the qualification.”

    Right. Whatever that may mean.

    I still don’t see why anybody should care about your ascription of a hypothetical opinion to Michael Crichton concerning what pre-Columbian linguistic, anthropological, botanical, metallurgical, literary, and other data, with which he probably has only a passing acquaintance, might indicate about the historicity of the Book of Mormon, with which he probably isn’t very familiar.

  20. “We think we know what we are doing. We have always thought so. We never seem to acknowledge that we have been wrong in the past, and so might be wrong in the future. “
    Maybe when he wrote that, MC had people like you in mind, Dan.

  21. Maybe. Maybe not. Do you have any evidence or analysis to suggest that he did? And anything to indicate that, if he did, he would be right? And anything to suggest that anybody should care if he did?

    Ascribing hypothetical opinions to Michael Crichton (with whom nobody here seems to be personally acquainted) about things or people regarding which he’s said nothing and of which he probably knows nothing, and then using these fictional opinions as if they somehow constituted evidence against Latter-day Saints, seems to be popular on this thread, for some reason. It strikes me as pretty eccentric behavior.

  22. I think her point Dan is that since you have a plainly discerible habit of platitude and pretention you display wherever you leave comment, being “snidely derisive,” (snark) just exposes your weakness more.

    I mean, are you really a BYU professor? Do BYU professors talk this way? Debate this way? No wonder the antis, (and apparently a lot of other people) hate you.

  23. anonymous: “I think her point Dan is that since you have a plainly discerible habit of platitude and pretention you display wherever you leave comment, being “snidely derisive,” (snark) just exposes your weakness more.”

    Perhaps. But, of course, if that’s really her point, she’s committing a non sequitur. Sarcasm or irony is a mode of presentation. In itself, sarcasm and/or irony says nothing about the strength or weakness of a point or an argument, since both strong and weak points can be made with or without sarcasm and/or irony. The strength or weakness of a position has to be judged on the basis of its cogency, its basis in evidence, and the validity of the reasoning used to support it. The tone or method of its presentation is irrelevant to the question of its truth or falsity. For instance, the proposition “2+2=4” is either true or false. Whether it’s written in crayon, spoken in Navajo, communicated by a vicious swine like myself or by a wonderful person like you, delivered with a snarl, or explained while laughing is immaterial.

    Incidentally, you’re wrong about the “pretension.” I really am pompous and evil. I’m not pretending.

    I have no idea, however, what you intend by your reference to my “plainly discerible habit of platitude.” I haven’t used a single “platitude” here. It’s very difficult, and perhaps impossible, to be platitudinous at the same time one is being snarky.

    anonymous: “I mean, are you really a BYU professor?”

    Yes. And I post here under my real name.

    anonymous: “Do BYU professors talk this way?”

    Clearly, at least one does. At least occasionally.

    anonymous: “Debate this way?”

    Nothing here has risen to anywhere near the level of a debate, let alone an academic debate. I’m simply having fun, and I hope you are, too.

    anonymous: “No wonder the antis, (and apparently a lot of other people) hate you.”

    No wonder. I’m an eminently hateable person. Incredibly unpleasant, and widely disliked. You should see my neighborhood. Nobody speaks to me. For at least a block around my house, the place looks like Mordor. Mothers gather their children together when I pass by. Dogs howl and strain at their leashes. Halloween is my high holy day.

  24. Now that we’ve agreed that I’m a despicable creep who is understandably hated by many people, perhaps we can talk about Alma 7:10, the matter that Mormanity raised here, or something actually relevant to that topic.

    I think that the unexpectedly authentic character of the reference to a “land of Jerusalem” constitutes a small but interesting bit of evidence for the Semiticism and historicity of the Book of Mormon.

    Does anybody other than Michael Crichton have an opinion on this issue? Is that opinion supported by relevant data and logic?

  25. I think instead of asking Jeff if he’s biased, it would be better to actually dispute some of the statements he makes. I really don’t think there’s a such thing as “unbiased”–not when it comes to religion anyways.

  26. No evidence to support it? How abou the mayans, the olmecs, toltecs, and just about every culture that shows influence of Jaredite and Nephite civilization? If you don’ believe the Book of Mormon could have been written in reformed egyptin, go to such sites as Ek’Balam, and look at their writings, and you try and tell me thatr they don’t bear a suspicious resemblance to hierieoglyphics.

    There’s other evidence, but the things that astound me most are not what’s been left by these people, but in reading about their behaviors, how dead-on Joseph Smith was, even before scientists knew things, such as river valleys in Arabia, various sheikh customs, the warring tendencies of people of central asia, and so much more.

  27. Just to clarify: I wasn’t setting up Michael Crichton as some sort of authority on anything. I was simply trying to not plagiarize by properly citing my quote. I liked the quote. He put into words better than I could an opinion that I had.

    I just think it’s interesting how people try to prove that the Book of Mormon is wrong based on the selfsame science that continuously finds little clues here and there and then tries to explain them with a very limited theory that leaves no room for any other explanation until a few short years down the road, scientists find more little clues and have to revamp their theories. I’ve seen it time and time again in the short amount of time that I’ve been on the Earth. Yet, people put so much stock into scientific evidence and the interpretation du jour.