Comments about ‘FAIR: Wordprint analysis and the Book of Mormon’

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Published: Monday, Aug. 8 2011 11:00 a.m. MDT

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Provo, Ut

To Maryquilter:

"If prophets of God proved every single thing about scriptures to us then there would be no need for faith, personal study, personal revelation, nor provide us with opportunities for growth."

This is the common Christian response. No one has ever adequately explained why God built a plan on the principles of "faith". What virtues inherently rest themselves in the exercise of faith? In reality, if you break it down, no one is ever being asked to have faith in God, and this is particularly true in Mormonism. Rather, by extension when one is encouraged to have faith - it is faith in the Bible, the theology, the leadership, the Book of Mormon, etc. It is not enough to believe that exists and that he loves me, but that I must have "faith" that he restored the Mormon truth. Why is any theology worthy of faith? Even if God is worthy of such faith, I can't seperate the way I am to have faith in him (keeping idiosyncratic "commandments" for example) from the religions which claim to hold the keys of knowledge and salvation. Faith is never really about God, it's about power.

Newport Beach, CA

I am not a huge fan of the idea that much of a person's character can be judged by what he believes. Formal Christian identity is less important than Christian life. What we believe is less important than what we become. Believing the right things can certainly help us become what we ought to be (just as believing the wrong things can hinder our progress), but I've seen too many fundamentally decent and reasonable people disagree about too many strongly-held beliefs, to think that all decent people will invariably come to the same conclusions about anything.

The doctrines and historical foundations of the Church may well be 100% true and consistent with how they're portrayed by the Church's defenders. But it is unjust, and therefore unrighteous, to assume that everyone who disagrees must be wicked. To the extent any person sincerely seeks the truth, his firmness in the right, as God and chance have given him to see the right, will be imputed to him for righteousness. And at some point, whatever mistakes a man makes in the details will be made clear to him, whether in this life or the next.

Farmington, UT

Mormoncowboy: Sorry you have closed yourself off to any possibility of a loving God who wishes only the best for you.

LValfre: I see no sense whatsoever in your comment that faith destroys all individuality, sorry.

RanchHand: We are not 'devoted to the LDS church', we are devoted to God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We are devoted to following the principles Jesus set forth for us. If I try to live the 10 commandments, serve others, forgive others, and find joy and peace in my life: if I try to 'Love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, might, and strength", and " love my neighbor as myself" then find in the next life that it was all a sham-- I have no problem with that because I think I will have lived a happier more fulfilled life than those who see only negativity and hatred and live in judgement of those around them and close their minds to truth if it doesn't agree with their current notions. Truth can come only to those who are willing to change their minds if they believe their former notions to be incorrect.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

To Weber: Facsimile 1: "Not only do we see, in the Book of Luke, a Jewish adaptation of an Egyptian scene, but we also fine some interesting parallels to AFacsimile 1 from the Book of Abraham. In this vingnette, Joseph identified tthe figure lying on the lion couch as Abraham. Egytologists identified the figure as Osiris. Based on an early Judaic adaptaion of Facisimile 1, Joseph got it exactly right."

"The late klaus Baer, a non-LDS Egyptologis from the Unviersity of Chicago, claimed that Facsimile 1 and 3 are unusual and it would be erroneous to claim that dozens of similar examples could be found. Facsimile 3, he went on to note, is not a judgement scene (as often claimed by critics) and it might prove difficult to find an exact parallel."

The problem is the critics slam LDS Scholarship and yet when one of their own dispell their notions they continue to slam it as LDS Scholarship. So as noted above it does not in any way discount what Joseph Smith did. The problem that the critics fail to understand is that Joseph Smith didn't know Egyptian at all. His translation came from our Heavenly Father.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


Former Mormons going out of their way to criticize the Church may not be evidence that the Church is true, but it does indicate that we should take their criticisms with a bit of salt. I left the church of my youth decades ago. I have virtually nothing to do with it but when I do speak of it, I try to be respectful and to speak well of the good folks I knew therein.

Your point about Jehovah vs. YHWH puzzles me. Since the name Jehovah was in common usage, it seems perfectly logical that Christ would have identified himself by that name.

Certainly Jesus and Christ are not names Christ would have used during his lifetime. But I would fully expect that they would be how he would identify himself to us now given that they are the name and title we know and understand.

Isn't that the very nature of translation - that the person hearing the words understands them for what they mean and represent? When I speak with folks in another language, I modify the pronunciation of my name so they can understand better.

Provo, Ut


Your response was a cheap dodge, suggesting you have reached the end of your rope. I think those questions deserve more attention than you have allowed. Mormons constantly insist that their religious devotion is not one of "blind faith", yet when presented with difficult questions, simple dodges and thought stopping jabs with pretenses of remorse are offered as nothing more than subtle insult (I'm sorry you (I) have closed yourself off...). I would encourage to think about that for a while. What is faith? Why would it be required? Does faith entail uncertainty? If so, why is faith in religion appropriate?

After all, "faith in God" is always embedded with the implication that first one must have faith in the theological structure that defines and speaks for whatever God we are to have in!

Weber State Graduate
Clearfield, UT

Bill, I'm surprised you would quote Dr. Klaus Baer.

For some reason, I'm unable to get Dr. Baer's quotes about Joseph Smith's erroneous interpretation past the sensitivity of the DN moderators. Suffice it to say, Dr. Baer (along with other non-Mormon Egyptologists and Mormon scholars) is adamant that Josephs interpretation is categorically wrong.

By quoting Dr. Baer to support your argument, you have again unwittingly set yourself up...Dr. Baers interpretation of the vignette is at extreme odds with Joseph Smith's rendition.

Furthermore, Dr. Baer has criticized LDS apologists such as Hugh Nibley that defend Joseph Smith's inaccurate rendition of the facsimiles. I'm not sure, but I believe this quote from Dr. Baer offended the sensitivity of the DN moderators, thereby rejecting my earlier post.

Simply put, Joseph Smith's translation ability has been brought into serious question by credible Egyptologists such as the late Klaus Baer from the University of Chicago.

The fact that he Joseph Smith couldn't accurately translate BoA Egyptian writings brings further doubt to his claim to have accurately translated BoM "Reformed Egyptian" writings.

Such skepticism is both reasonable and prudent against a person who claims to hold the keys to another's salvation.

the greater outdoors, UT

Mormoncowboy states, " No one has ever adequately explained why God built a plan on the principles of "faith"."

The answer is that the inadequacy resides within you. The rest of your post details that it is you who has the issue of faith, God, commandments and religion.

There are millions of others who have had the question answered to their satisfaction. I'm not trying to put you down but I highly doubt that any answer would ever be adequate for you.

It was the same with Doubting Thomas who had to see to believe. Christ said that's okay but more blessed are those who believe who haven't seen Him.

You describe the exact test of this life. We are here to be tested, to find truth, to be obedient and to come to know God and return to Him.

Some have that desire and many others don't. It's no knock if you don't but it's not a knock either if I do.

There is nothing you or any of the others who want to argue points of doctrine, can say that would make me question my testimony. Absolutely nothing.

the greater outdoors, UT

It doesn't matter that I can't go find the cities listed in the Book of Mormon. The cities listed in the Bible can be found, visited and enjoyed and billions of people still don't believe.

I have had way too many experiences with God, Christ and the Holy Ghost to deny what I know. I couldn't be like that clown on the Heart of the Matter who professes it was all just heartburn.

The question that stands, that not one of you have answered is,
what do you believe?

What do you have to offer that is better than what I have?

How will my life be better off without the teachings of the gospel and all the blessings that come from adherence to God's commandments?

From what I can tell from posts like yours is that you don't have a foundation for living, that you think those who believe are weak-minded and that somehow your worldly philosophies are higher and greater than God's and Christ's.

I disagree with your beliefs but allow you to have them. Are you not able to do the same with those you disagree? Doesn't appear so....

Farmington, UT

Twin Lights: Thanks for your comments, I totally agree. I too try to speak respectfully of the church I was formerly a baptized member of. It was filled with kind and well-intentioned people who love the Lord. Although they taught an anti-mormon class filled with lies and misrepresentations, I look back and realize that in their mind they were only trying to 'save' me from what they thought would be eternal torment.

When I moved to St. George from LA and started taking the missionary discussions, the local branch of my old church contacted me in an effort to "save" me again. Just wish they had their facts straight before teaching impressionable teens lies about the Mormon faith. Share differences in doctrine, but keep to the truth.

That was 36 years ago and I have never looked back. Worshipping and serving God through the Mormon church has been the most wonderful experience in my life ; not always the easiest, but rewarding beyond measure. If at some point I thought God was showing me that this is in error, then I would be open to investigating that, but in 36 years that has not been my experience.

Richland, WA

If Sidney Rigdon actually wrote the Book of Mormon text, how did it get dictated by Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery, since there was no manuscript at hand for Cowdery to read from? Why bother creating a new manuscript by laborious dictation when the conspirators could have just used the (hypothetical) Rigdon manuscript? If Rigdon had the Book of Mormon manuscript, what was the point in having Joseph Smith delay things by the months he took to produce a dictated manuscript? Why did Rigdon need Joseph Smith in order to publish the book? Smith had no reputation that would lend credibility to the book. He was a total unknown. Rigdon, on the other hand, was an established Church of Christ pastor who could have published the book on his own. There are lots more definite Indian mounds in Ohio than in New York. By accepting the visions of Smith, Rigdon was never more than second fiddle to a young man with no education whose years of claims of visions reduced the credibility of the book. And why bother with a 500 page book when a 100 page one would be just as effective, at much less effort?

Salt Lake City, UT


"I find it also ironic how easily the account of the three witnesses are so easily discarded by critics."

97% of climate scientists believe anthropogenic climate change is occurring... but look how many easily discard their accounts.

Whos Life RU Living?
Ogden, UT


"These have had signs enough, but seem to be bound in chains too tight for freeing, might not hurt to try, but don't trust them : ) on ANYTHING!! ; )"

I think we know who is really bound by chains.

To be able to consider the possibility of anything is freedom!

Apo, AP


In response to your comment: "Today we can find any number of societies where the majority has freely abandoned religion and God. Far from being dens of iniquity, these societies are the happiest, safest, and most successful in the world."
Having lived around the world in some of these 'happiest, safest and most-successful' countries, I would strongly disagree with your argument that they have "[shucked] off the rusty chains of ancient superstition and questionable religions." (I disagree with your characterization of religion in these countries).

Namely, I'd like to hear of a country in the world that does not have a large majority of the population who believe in a God or adhere to a religion. I used to believe that Japan did not, until I lived there. Nor is it true in other Asian countries or in Europe, where I have lived, for that matter.

Pullman, WA

No matter how educated, or privileged, or smart, or creative, or inquisitive, or rich we are collectively or individually, there is still so much that we do not understand. When we try to apply absolutes to an active, interested, involved Creator we see incongruences that can rattle our faith. But when we understand that He loves us, that He is molding us, that He is perfecting us, that His commandments are often there to help us become something that better approaches His perfection and attributes, we see that He is a loving Father who, much like you, wants His children to achieve their full potential and thereby live with Him eternally. Living the commandments makes us happy, full, enriched. I love that.

The Book of Mormon is a Godsend worthy of our emulation. We will get nearer to God by abiding by it's precepts. I love that it is so mysterious. If we are supposed to be such smart people, why are external theories for its origin more far fetched than the original explanation: that it came from ancient prophets of God? Don't be fooled. God is definitely in it's preservation and in it's translation. Cherish it.

The Vanka
Provo, UT

We must place in science our best hopes of knowing the truth about the BOM and its origins. The so-called spiritual methods are unreliable, non-falsifiable, and partake of the logic of a carnival game (or the Emperor's New Clothes scam).

I have taken "Moroni's Challenge" many times over many years. The promised confirmation has never been fulfilled.

Instead, I am repeatedly told that there is a flaw in ME.

That is the classic confidence game illustrated by the Emperor's New Clothes story. If you can't "see" the "truth" (of the Emperor's New Clothes, or of the BOM), then YOU are not worthy.

Most religions employ such fallacious logic, but Mormonism's use of this ploy is uniquely blatant.

I am open to God's revealing to me that the BOM and LDS Church are "true". If that takes an appearance on the road to Damascus, or even University Parkway, and striking me deaf, dumb, blind, mute, or crippled, all I have to say is: here I am! I am not hiding.

Farr West, Utah

Vanka: Your parable has one major (and several minor) inaccuracies:

Joseph Smith never used the "treasure" for financial gain. He was almost always penniless, despite thousands of followers. He even failed (economically) as a storekeeper because he was too nice to collect full payment from his customers.

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