Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Challenging Issues & Keeping the Faith: The Book of Mormon and modern science

Published: Monday, April 25 2011 4:00 a.m. MDT

Noting that there are interpretative factors in archaeology and that no archaeologists are in complete agreement in the interpretation of the data is not akin to saying there is no general agreement among New World experts regarding some details of the lives, habits, theologies, etc., of New World cultures. Nor am I claiming that non-LDS archaeologists and LDS archaeologists have contradictory views of New World cultures or that any theory is as good as any other theory.

I’m a firm believer that science is self-correcting and that the general consensus of most scientists typically represents a correct conclusion. My point is, however, that all archaeologists interpret the data in light of a variety of other influencing factors.

Unfortunately, for most of church history few people really examined the Book of Mormon with a scholarly eye. In the absence of rigorous examination, assumptions were made which frequently led believers and critics to ask the wrong questions. As Jeffares explains, "... if theory and evidence really are intertwined in important ways, then which theories one chooses, and where hypotheses come from, matters. Archaeology is not solely driven by its data. It is also driven by the questions archaeologists wish to ask. It is this theoretical side of archaeology that now generates the most debate.”

If we forego traditions and folk-assumptions about the Book of Mormon and apply the methods of modern science and scholarship to what the Book of Mormon actually says and does not say, we find that the book paints a picture which is amazingly similar in many ways to the same picture painted by New World experts about the ancient cultures during Book of Mormon times.

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