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

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  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    May 1, 2011 1:35 a.m.

    It is one thing to hope for things which are not seen, it is another to believe in the face of evidence to the contrary.

    The first is called faith, the second is defined as delusion.

  • Jaime Lee Bonberger Houston, TX
    April 29, 2011 10:04 p.m.

    Vanka,
    For a fine example of rampant speculation, please refer to your original message.

    I rely on the text itself and the historical accounts. The accounts do not give adequate detail of the translation technique, just the process.

    The fact remains that there are "Hebraisms" of a type and complexity that do not exist in the KJV of the Bible.

    You yourself said there were no "Egypticisms" in the BoM, and now you are saying we can't distinguish those from "Hebraisms"? Which is it?

    Statistical studies validate the existence of complex chiasmus in the BoM - much more complex and varied from anything found in the KJV - that cannot exist purely by chance.

    A translator has to select an idiom in which to translate. In Joseph Smith's day, scripture was written in KJV English, and that is what he used.

    No historical witness, friend or foe, indicated he used any source material - no manuscript, no Bible - just the stone/Urim&Thummim and, when necessary, the hat to block out the light to assist in seeing.

  • Doctor Tucson, AZ
    April 29, 2011 2:24 p.m.

    jaime-Why is it so hard to believe Joseph Smith knew Isreasli's would write in Egyptian. According to the Bible they live in Egypt for generations, their nation was next to Egypt, and they traded wwith them. Iy would be an excellent cover to say the plates were in a distorted form of Egyptian. First, no one could read Egyptian at the time and second it was dirtorted Egyptian so basically a lost language. Who could call Joe out on it? A perfect cover for a fake document.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    April 29, 2011 1:34 p.m.

    Jaime,

    Then you are back to circular logic: In order to claim there are "Hebraisms" in the Book of Mormon, you have to posit ambiguous linguistic patterns in the text, then interpret them as "Hebraisms" rather than "Egypticisms" - in other words, you have to assert (without evidence) that they are distincitvely Hebrew and ancient linguistic artifacts, which begs the very question such patterns are invoked to support.

    Moreover, you have to explain how either a strict, literal (word-for-word) translation of the BOM, or a free and loose translation distinguishes the alleged "Hebraisms" from the "King James"-isms that are clearly evidence of 19th century origins.

    I would love to hear your (rampantly speculative) thoughts on that.

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    April 29, 2011 12:32 p.m.

    @ Joggle/Vanka/Mormoncowboy/Jax (who I believe are all the same poster), and others who are curious:

    At the risk of having a spiritual experienced mocked by many of the usual suspects, I share the following "physical" and "tangible" experience:

    When I received my mission call, I was given two weeks to report to the MTC. I didn't have any money saved, and I hadn't even been able to purchase any suits or other items yet.

    On the Sunday morning before I left, I still didn't have a suit. I hadn't told anyone because I was embarrassed that I wasn't prepared. I led my parents to believe that I had what was needed, so they didn't know I didn't have a suit either.

    Everyone left for church before me that morning. As I prepared to leave, I decided to go back to my room to pray and ask for help in getting the suit and other things I needed. I immediately felt a comfort that things would be fine. As I left my room, hanging on the outside doorknob was a fitted suit.

    Not "physical" enough proof? There are many more such experiences.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    April 29, 2011 11:58 a.m.

    However important "religious feeling" may be to religious theists, there isn't any solid, verifiable evidence that suggests any of it is true. The evidence against the claim that our minds are really immaterial and not a product of our physical brains is unequivocal. When a person's brain is stimulated, through physical implements_drugs_or_magnetic fields, and put in a particular physical state, then a person's mental experience corresponds to what we know about that state. Self-reports about particular mental experiences correspond to evidence about their brains' particular physical state. There is no reason for this to be true if our minds and mental experiences are independent of our brains. People who continue to insist otherwise offer no means for testing and verifying that claim. All of this is true to a much more extreme degree when the brain is injured through physical trauma or certain drugs. Some destroy enough of the brain to end all mental experiences entirely. These issues also impact notions about the existence of gods with disembodied minds. Theists have certainly not offered any explanation for how this would even be theoretically possible, much less provide evidence for it being an actual state.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    April 29, 2011 8:41 a.m.

    "You really have to want it, even when it is something He wants you to have as much as we want to have it."

    Aside from quoting scriptures who's divine authenticity is the subject in questionm, please simply explain - why?

    Why is "wanting/desiring/faith/etc" a reasonable pre-requisite?

  • Jaime Lee Bonberger Houston, TX
    April 29, 2011 6:24 a.m.

    @Vanka April 27, 2011

    Mormon 9:32-34 makes it clear that the original BoM text was written in a form of Egyptian that was altered "according to our manner of our SPEECH", and that they also knew Hebrew, albeit in an corrupted form.

    Modern languages can be written in foreign scripts, and the underlying distinctiveness of the original language can be retained.

    In pre-exilic Israel there are many examples of ancient Semitic texts written in Egyptian script discovered in the last century. Therefore, that Lehi or Nephi could know how to do so is not unusual or surprising. It is a real stretch to think that Joseph Smith could have ever guessed this.

    Given the above, I know of no evidence that supports your contention that we should therefore expect "Egypticisms" in the BoM rather than "Hebraisms".

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    April 28, 2011 5:26 p.m.

    @Things as they are

    "It is arrogant to think that the LDS people are the only ones to converse with God through the Holy Spirit."

    Yes it is arrogant to think that. That is why Latter-Day Saints don't think that.

  • Mitsurugi Payson, UT
    April 28, 2011 4:31 p.m.

    There is a definite feeling, a clear, unmistakable feeling of truth, that has absolutely nothing to do with elevated serotonin levels in the brain and feverish desire or confusion. It is the clear communication of truth through the Spirit. And you feel it more, and understand what you are feeling when you are more obedient to the gospel. It is as if a cloud has lifted from your mind. You are happy and comforted.
    When you drift away from what you know deep down you should be doing, you become immune to that feeling and forget what it is like. It becomes easy to argue and harden your heart. And the effort to go back looks harder and harder. It's not as hard as it looks though.
    I've experienced both sides.

  • Things as they are Erie, PA
    April 28, 2011 3:20 p.m.

    Hi Skeptic

    May I ask that we dismiss for this thread the word extreme? Extreme is the Jonestown massacre, David Koresh, Alqueda, or the taliban.

    I cannot account for the others you spoke of, with the exception of those I personally know. It is arrogant to think that the LDS people are the only ones to converse with God through the Holy Spirit. I have stood in a great many prayer circles with people from many different faiths, and I know that in those circles I have felt the spirit as intensely as as in my own ward, or when giving blessings. I do not doubt that those persons have also felt the spirit with others.

    I love and respect the Holy Father, Pope Dominic XVl. I love honor and respect Billy and Franklin Graham. These are men of God. I thank the Lord that he has allowed a sweet Albanian nun to be known to the world. Mother Teresa never sought publicity, but I am grateful to have learned of her truely Christ like work. The Dhali lama is one of the greatest leaders this century has known.

    More in the next thread.

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    April 28, 2011 2:26 p.m.

    I find the changing doctrine debate interesting, first, because I'm not sure that anybody can pin down what is "doctrine" and what isn't in the LDS faith. You can look at the scriptures or read what the prophets say, but those things have changed significantly over the years in almost every area.

    Second, one strength of the LDS church is its claim to continuing revelation, so I don't understand the defensiveness on this issue.

    And third, I'm fascinated by the seeming lack of awareness about or perhaps cognitive dismissal of seemingly obvious facts. It seems that few here have read, for example, The Lectures on Faith published in the Doctrine & Covenants until 1921 and purported to be revelation from God. There are clear changes from the doctrines listed therein and what is believed today. Still, I guess if you just refuse to call anything "doctrine" then it can't be stated that the "doctrine" has changed.

    Statements like Bill's give great insight into how the LDS mind works: "You're never going to convince me it was ever DOCTRINE regardless how many quotes you get." I'm fascinated by this type of thinking.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    April 28, 2011 1:59 p.m.

    @Bull: (see Jacob, DC etc) these doctrines have never been revoked. Practices (wine, polygamy, circumcision etc) come and go, are fulfilled and altered.

    I learn much from comments.

    4th comment so Ill summarize:

    Mike writes wonderful weekly articles. Hateful dishonest people come, altering documents, misquoting, twisting, attacking, mocking, and demanding evidence, while providing none for their faiths.

    Explanations and evidences are weekly given. (A few examples: discernment of Spirits, JS miraculous and correct translations, horses, reformed Egyptian, iron, steel, geography, names, Maya centering their religion on Christian passion symbolism, DNA, EVERYTHING anyone could possibly need)

    Friendly critics bury everything, spin, and invent new LDS and critical screenames etc.

    Explanations and personal spiritual experiences are given by LDS, further evidences are demanded by critics.

    Evidences are given, polygamy distractions and mocking of experiences.

    Answers given, and it goes : )

    LDS are here, learning, sharing light "dont take my word, try valid experiments, Ive found..."

    Critics (evidently trying to condition minds to darkness), say "WRONG!!!!! trust me, Ive lied daily, but trust me now..."

    Dishonest hardened minds indicate that critical intentions are to uncontrollably misinform, regardless.

    Critical chains testify that Satan is also real.

    Critical darkness inspires vigilance, lest I become them... : )

    luvya.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    April 28, 2011 9:31 a.m.

    "It is a process that requires effort, cleansing of the soul from sin, a real desire to believe."

    I agree, it sounds very much like a process...a process that requires effort, steps to be taken, a classical case of conditioning oneself to believe through the "desire to believe" and to receive a desired response.

    In other words, it's a conditioning process "that requires effort" whereby a "response becomes more frequent or more predictable in a given environment as a result of reinforcement, with reinforcement typically being a stimulus or reward for a desired response" (as quoted from a scholarly source).

    As suggested by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, that stimulus, or "piece of candy" may be nothing more than euphoric chemicals that act on the serotonin, triggering mystical experiences as a result of the process, thereby reinforcing that "real desire to believe."

    Of course, your experience may be direct supernatural communion with the Creator of the Universe as you claim, and my point of view may indeed be "hogwash." But then again, it may not."

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    April 28, 2011 9:14 a.m.

    I know this thread has about run its course. But I have had a very serious question for a while now that many have hit on in their comments.

    I think it is clear that millions of people have had very dramatic spiritual witnesses of a religion or belief system enitirely different and often in conflict with Mormonism. And many investigators and even members have, despite what we can only assume were sincere efforts, either not received a spiritual witness of Mormonism or even received a witness in the negative.

    My question is this - I wonder if God has a different spiritual plan for some, or what actually appears to be the vast majority (99.9%), of his children than the path of Mormonism?

    Growing up LDS with the weekly reinforcement that this is the one and only true church on the face of the earth certainly conflicts with the spiritual witnesses of the VAST majority on this planet (or at least those who are religious/spiritual) - as well as many investigators and even members of the church.

  • Things as they are Erie, PA
    April 28, 2011 8:15 a.m.

    I should know better than to write or use voice to text at 3 A.M. In the last post I missed a key word that went through as EXCEPT when it should have been ACCEPT. But the point remains the same. Our Heavenly Father has a deep desire to instill in us the sacred nature of divine communication. He has said repeatedly, "there shall be no witness until AFTER the trial of your faith." You really have to want it, even when it is something He wants you to have as much as we want to have it.

    It is essential that we never take His willingness to commune with us for granted. So, He makes us fight for it. He makes us prove to Him that what we seek from Him is important enough that we would give anything to know His will concerning us.

    It must be this way, or we as humans would begin to treat holy and sacred things as we treat the secular, disposable and cheap. Exaltation must be worth every sacrifice if we are to be found worthy of it.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 28, 2011 7:54 a.m.

    Things as they are:

    It would be interesting to hear from you how it is that you believe your feelings are different or more valid than other people with extreme convictions and devotions to their beliefs; if they be other religions of different church faiths (Catholic, Baptist, Buddha,etc.) or a well practiced and skilled gambler who has total faith in his lucky charm, perhaps such as JS seer stone.

  • Things as they are Erie, PA
    April 28, 2011 2:12 a.m.

    Weber State Graduate:

    Hogwash! Conditioning is the exact opposite of the test that Alma recommends. He has outlined a very simple and easily understood process. As Moroni pointed out, a testimony that can only come from God isn't something that is asked for in the same way a child asks a parent for candy. It is a process that requires effort, cleansing of the soul from sin, a real desire to believe. Only when one has come to understand and EXCEPT (Receive these things) can an approach to God be made with an expectation of receiving an answer.

    From my own personal experiences, many of my prayers seeking for answers require an equal amount of work sometimes. Perhaps fasting as many as 5 or 6 times. And even then, the answer isn't always what I had hoped. But it is the absolutely correct answer when it comes. Remember, when we seek in prayer is what God would have for us.

    Only when you have experienced this for yourself, will you be able to understand that it isn't conditioning or exhileration of hope, It is direct communion with the Creator of the Universe. It is of God.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 27, 2011 6:50 p.m.

    Bill - I am not hung up on the issue. Your last response proves just how most LDS members can't think about things logically. You claim to believe in revelation, yet you state that quotes from past prophets/apostles don't matter. Funny how we in elders quorum study teachings of presidents of the church (all of whom are now dead) but as soon as a quote comes out that is controversial, or proves a point that goes against what you are saying you use the 'well we believe in current revelation' line. That is pretty sad. You claim to read and believe the Book of Mormon and the bible, all of which are teachings of prophets past and dead, so why study them at all? If what you say is true, and only what the current prophet says matters then why would anybody study these old books. I can give you over 50 quotes of apostles and prophets of old stating that polygamy was a DOCTRINE and you don't believe it because they are dead? I suggest you look into the church's teachings a little more before posting that something isn't doctrine when it clearly is.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    April 27, 2011 4:23 p.m.

    To Brahmabull: You're never going to convince me it was ever DOCTRINE regardless how many quotes you get. The only one that matters is that of the most current prophet as he continues to receive revelation. President Hinkley and many of the more current Presidents of the LDS Church have stated practice and that is all that matters to me.

    If you are hung up on this then I suggest you just let it go because it doesn't matter one iota to me and most faithful LDS. It has been non-PRACTICED for over a hundred years so it has no bearing on the current Church or its practices. If however, the law is ever repealed then it will be up to the Lord and his servants to reinstitute the practice of polygamy. Until then I stand with what I have said. If you don't believe in revelation then you really have no leg to stand on except being critical of something you clearly do not understand.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    April 27, 2011 1:46 p.m.

    And thus we see, some critics have inalterably hardened faith in rumors that the BoM has been disproven, although no such proof has ever been seen, yet abundant BoM evidences leave them scrambling to bury by repeating disproven copied anti-mormonisms, using numerous fabricated identities.
    And, while science naturally falls daily, the BoM stands more firmly than ever, against every attack, from every side, each critic presenting no evidence for their own faiths, while knowingly misinforming and turning blind eyes to all supportive evidences, rejecting without even openly examining or hearing.
    The Spirit testifies to the millions with ears- that is enough.
    Yet, add undenying hefting witnesses; impossible detailed religious correlations (hundreds, including passion/temple, not retained by some isolated peoples. Australians, for example, reportedly borrowed circumcision from Islanders, but few other correlations exist. (btw, @searching: intertwining Adam-Eve serpents Yin/Yang (holding compass and square by Tang dynasty) have ME origins); Polynesian and ME Morphology in America; Manassehs Asiatic IP DNA; majority Jewish DNA having IP markers; place names; Hebrew learning; Reformed Egyptian; IPclaimed lineage (Kish, MEetc)migration; Cyril (Bishop of Jerusalem, whose temple is now Holiest spot in mainstream Christianity); reported/discovered upheavals, etc, still, critics unquestionably deny.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 27, 2011 1:20 p.m.

    %EPJ: It seems you are sincere, but it would be interesting to know if you would not have the same feelings for the Koran and Prophet Mohammed if by chance your circumstance were such that you had been reared in that enviroment. It seems that different people have different propensities for beliefs. It probably has more to do with inner psychology than foreign spirts like the Holy Ghost. With the advances in the study of brain science hopefully it will be something that we will better understand in the near future.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 27, 2011 12:55 p.m.

    Bill from Nebraska - you are flat out wrong. It was a DOCTRINE. Read this quote by apostle Heber C. Kimball

    "Some quietly listen to those who speak against the plurality of wives, and against almost every principle that God has revealed. Such persons have half-a-dozen devils with them all the time. You might as well deny 'Mormonism,' and turn away from it, as to oppose the plurality of wives. Let the Presidency of this Church, and the Twelve Apostles, and all the authorities unite and say with one voice that they will oppose the DOCTRINE, and the whole of them will be damned."

    Clearly Heber C. Kimball thought it was doctrine, because it was. Not just a practice. You use flimsy arguements instead of just admitting that the church has contradicted itself here, and in many other instances. It was taught as DOCTRINE and practice. I could give many more quotes. But here is 1 more for you.

    Brigham Young - "The Church has never, and certainly will never, renounce this DOCTRINE. The revelation on plural marriage is still an integral part of LDS scripture, and always will be."

    I suppose you will say this was just his opinion?????

  • EPJ Grantsville, UT
    April 27, 2011 12:33 p.m.

    Regardless of all empirical "proof", (or lack of proof for that matter), I know the Book of Mormon is written by ancient prophets of God to testify to all that Jesus is the Christ. My testimony came directly from the Holy Ghost testifying to me, and that is the only sure way to "know" that The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ" is true. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God as the prophet who would restore God's priesthood authority on the earth. The key to knowing this is through The Book of Mormon. Read it. Study it. Pray to God with an honest desire to know . . . ask in prayer to know if it is true or if it is false. It is that simple.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    April 27, 2011 12:25 p.m.

    To Brahmabull: No the doctrine of the Church has not changed. The doctrine of marriage is between man and woman. This is totally in agreement with the Bible, The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. If you really looked you would begin to understand there is a significant difference between practice and doctrine. President Hinkley was 100% right when he stated it wasn't doctrinal. However, you would also see he stated the PRACTICE was stopped. So no, the doctrine didn't change. So many critics and members fail to understand what is doctrine and what is practice. It is essential to understand this. Those who believe it was doctrinal are the ones who left the LDS Church when the practice was ended by REVELATION. President Hinkley clearly states that the practice was stopped, not the doctrine changed.

    Further, if you read the Old Testament you will also see that the doctrine is marriage between man and woman, and anything else is clearly against the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Polygamy is the practice of a man being married to several wives. However, each marriage is recorded as a SINGLE marriage. This doesn't change the doctrine.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 27, 2011 9:42 a.m.

    Bill from Nebraska - if you don't think the doctrine of the church has changed, you have not studied church history very hard. And I am not talking just practices, but doctrine. The church used to believe and teach polygamy, it now not only doesn't teach it but President Hinckley said in a Larry King interview that "I condemn it, yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal. It is not legal. And this church takes the position that we will abide by the law. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law." Clearly, he doesn't believe it is 'doctrinal' yet the early saints did. If that is not changing doctrine, nothing is.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    April 27, 2011 9:41 a.m.

    All the proof in the world won't convince some people of the truth.

    Pres. Obama and his Birth Certificate come quickly to mind.

    There will always be those you doubting Thomases.
    Even in our modern era, even with Science, even with Technology, even with American Presidents living today.

    Religion is based on faith.

  • full disclosure Providence, UT
    April 27, 2011 9:23 a.m.

    Books to read- BH Roberts- The Book Of Mormon" By McMurrin and Madsen
    Grant Palmer "An Insiders View of Mormon Origins

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    April 27, 2011 9:15 a.m.

    EPJ,

    The existence of "Hebraisms" in the BOM is disputed even among LDS "scholars". The crux of the issue hinges on debate over whether Joseph made a literal, strict, word-for-word translation directly from the plates (Skousen), or a loose, "free" translation.

    Reasonably, we should expect so-called "Hebraisms" to carry through to the BOM text only on a strict translation, as a loose translation would have rendered the text and meanings in contemporary 19th century idiom and form.

    But even this is problematic, as the supposed original "plates" were not written in Hebrew, but in some kind of (fictional?) "reformed Egyptian" (See 1Nephi 1:2; Mosiah1:4). Indeed, Nephi explicitly states that his record "consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians".

    So-called "Hebraisms" would be an artifact of the language (and characters), rather than the "learning", so we should expect "Egypticisms" in the BOM, of which there seem to be none.

    This fact suggests a "loose" translation, which allows Joseph to have copied directly from a 19th century King James Bible, but works against the premise of "Hebraisms". On this view, BOM contains "Biblicisms" common in 19th century writing.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 27, 2011 9:11 a.m.

    The whole coming forth of the Book of Mormon is enough to make one wonder if it could be real. First an angel named Nephi (or Moroni, depending on what account you read) comes and tells Joseph that there are some gold plates buried. During translation Joseph will let nobody see them. Even the witnesses of the plates didn't get to actually see them - only hold them or touch them when under a cloth. They only actually saw them 'by spirit' and not with their real eyes. Then Joseph can't use the urim and thummim anymore, he has to use a stone in a hat. Then when he is done, the angel (Nephi, or Moroni) takes the plates up to heaven. The most disturbing thing is that ALL of the 3 witnesses were excommunicated at some point. That is like 3 of the modern apostles getting excommunicated. How could 3 with such a sound testimony leave the church. Some will say 'they never denied their testimonies' well that is only partially true. Anyways, if you believe the B.O.M. more power to you. I just can't bring myself to do so based on the evidence.

  • LeDoc SLC, UT
    April 27, 2011 8:38 a.m.

    @ Ranchhand....One would also think we could find some evidence of the Garden of Eden. That we could find the Ark..that we could figure out if the whole world was covered in water killing everything or if it was a smaller area...and if it is possible that all creatures living today could be the result of 1 male and 1 female of the species who ALL made it on ONE boat. Did Mose part the Red sea.. or was it the Reed sea? To be sure, the BOM has some "issues" some brought on by church leaders (1981 intro, now changed, claiming principla ancestry of the Native Americans) who meddled trying to "fix" things. We don't exactly have scientific "proof" of God either, and certainly not of Kolob. God either is, or He isn't! Jesus was or was not who He claimed to be. One thing that seems sure...if the teachings ascribed to Jesus are followed..the results are not bad ones; indeed they seems to bebeneficial for all. Belief denotes faith. It's your choice, you can beleive or not.

  • Northern Lights Louisville, KY
    April 27, 2011 8:31 a.m.

    RanchHand,

    There IS evidence of geological upheaval dated 2,000 years ago in North America.

    The residual lava flows of the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho covers an area the size of Rhode Island. Scientists estimate the age of these lava flows to be about 2,000 years old - dated to about the same time the Savior visited the American continent. This entire area had been completely destroyed by a wall of burning rock.

    I'm sure you don't want to hear about these sort of examples, but they do exist! I only mention the one instance because I'm very familiar with this wonderful Monument. With a little research, I'm sure there is other evidence as well; just have to want to look.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    April 27, 2011 7:56 a.m.

    "If one is to determine that one has faith, they must at least know how it is manifested. Step by step, here a little and there a little. As you apply these techniques, you will notice a real change occurring."

    Perhaps by engaging in those step-by-step techniques, the resulting "real change" is nothing more than a case of classical conditioning...the process whereby neurological patterns become sufficiently established to make a response more predictable as a result of reinforcement.

    By presenting oneself with significant stimulus of artificially induced states of intense emotional excitement, such as repetitive prayer for a spiritual confirmation, the result evokes an innate, often reflexive, behavioral response rather than a supernatural confirmation from an external force.

    "Classical conditioning" is a fascinating concept that helps explain why many seemingly intelligent people come to believe some of the fantastic claims of faith...step-by-step, here a little and there a little.

  • EPJ Grantsville, UT
    April 27, 2011 7:51 a.m.

    continued:

    Hebraisms: This item is one of the most compelling areas in supporting Book of Mormon translation from ancient Hebrew texts. Partial list of Hebraisms found in The Book of Mormon include: simile curses, poetic parallelisms, repeated alternates, prophetic perfect case, climax, prophetic speech formula, compound prepositions, plural amplification, number usage, the construct state, cognate accusatives, many ands, repetition of the possesive pronoun, emphatic pronoun, word order, adverbials, cognate accusative of possess and inheritance, relative clauses and chiasmus. Chiasmus is a complex form of poetic writing where a list of thoughts or ideas is presented in one order, then repeated in the reverse order. Joseph Smith would not have known these complexities, in fact many of these Hebrew literary elements were only identified in the twentieth century!

    Colophons: Major Book of Mormon writers introduce themselves and include an autobiographical colophon to establish their reliability as a contributor to the plates. This introductory literary mechanism is very appropriate to Egyptian autobiographies of 600 BC.

    Uneducated Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from ancient Hebrew-influenced prophet authors! He did not write it or steal it from another 19th century source.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    April 27, 2011 7:44 a.m.

    One would think that the devastating geologic upheavals that occurred only 2000 years ago when Jesus arrived on the continent among the Nephites and Lamanites would be very easy to find, being so new, geologically speaking.

    One would also think that such upheavals would have been documented by the other inhabitants of the continent, the Incas, Mayans, etc. Surely 3 days of darkness and earthquakes and all that would have made an impression on them too.

  • EPJ Grantsville, UT
    April 27, 2011 7:38 a.m.

    The modern sciences of archeology, anthropology, sociology and linguistics are very much in support of Book of Mormon facts. Here are a few examples.

    Helaman 3:7-11, Book of Mormon authors wrote of buildings which were expertly constructed from cement around the year 46 B.C. Modern archealogy using carbon-dating techniques have also identified that very same time-frame when cement became commonly used in Mexico and Central America.

    1 Nephi 4:32-35, Nephi convinced Zoram to leave behind his entire life in Jerusalem and accompany Nephi and his brothers into the desert by uttering the the most binding and solemn oath-words available in ancient Semitic culture: As the Lord liveth, and as I live. To Joseph Smiths western culture, such an oath is simply not a part of nineteenth-century psyche; yet here it is in The Book of Mormon, being used appropriately and with the appropriate results!

    Jacob 5: Book of Mormon description of olive cultivation is exactly correct compared to ancient Mediterranean manuals of the same topic. Joseph Smith only knew of farming techniques in wet, deciduous forests of the north-eastern United States.

    Not enough room for more examples.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    April 27, 2011 6:51 a.m.

    To Idaho Coug: In some ways I agree with you but the doctrine of the Church has never changed. Practices have, such as the practice of pologamy and keeping blacks from the priesthood. Some comments can be attributed to the time of when they, the prophets and others were alive.

    Pologamy has always been a practice that when done under the Lord's direction is acceptable to him but when it is not then it becomes an abomination. Both David and Solomon ran this risk as the lust of man became greater than the Lord's direction. Why then was it requested in the early church? Much has been discussed on this but the fact is, it was practiced and today it is not. That is really all that matters.

    Holding the priesthood is a priveledged given to man to be able to perform those duties normally held by the Lord. The Lord decides who and when this responsibility is given to. I suggest you take a look at my questions last week and ask them of yourself. In some ways they answer many of the questions pertaining to this.

  • Things as they are Erie, PA
    April 27, 2011 3:45 a.m.

    More to the point, scientific method requires professional detachment. It is true, as one person noted that the test of learning as per Alma 32 is a biased endeavor. But it is perfectly acceptable as the person who wants to believe applies the points that Alma reveals. If one is to determine that one has faith, they must at least know how it is manifested. Step by step, here a little and there a little. As you apply these techniques, you will notice a real change occuring. That isn't fraudulent science, it is the ability to recognize that something is happening to you that is coming from an outside source.

    I find it instructional that one of the greatest pure scientists of our day, George Winston, is working so hard on the physics of matter. Dr. Winston is investigating string theory to determine the reason that subatomic particles behave as they do. He searches for the one common thread that will reveal the reason that one particle does this or that. So interesting to watch him work. He searches for the intelligence of matter. Who knew?

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    April 26, 2011 6:40 p.m.

    Truth: The difficulty with Mormon gods instead of God, is that unlimited gods makes no sense because you have no point of reference for Absolutes. Even the philosophers Plato and Sarte understood this that the finite makes no sense without the infinite. Google, ASEITY. The absolute Truth is (John 14:6).
    Allen: You spoke of "original Greek". What do you mean by that phrase?
    It is not true that we do not possess the original text of the Bible. What we do not possess are the original manuscripts. We have accurate well- preserved copies of the original text. There are some 5,700 early N.T. MS, and they contain all or nearly all of the original text . The original text can be reconstructed 99% accuracy. There is a distinction between the text and the truth of the text. While we have 99% of the original text, 100 % of the truth comes through. Lower criticism refutes JS.
    Over 26,000 N.T. quotes from the disciples of the apostles and early church fathers can reconstruct the N.T. less 8 verses. Example, If the original triangle was burned in a museum we have enough copies to reconstruct,& the Bible.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    April 26, 2011 4:51 p.m.

    @Idaho Coug "it can be extremely difficult to know what is revelation and doctrine, or what is at least often portrayed as opinion, speculation, tradition, culture, church admin, etc. etc.
    "

    I've mentioned before that if statements from GA differ from the scriptures or from statements of other GA, those differences signal someone is giving personal beliefs. In the days of Brigham Young, it was common for GA to talk about things not clearly defined in the scriptures. That doesn't happen today. Look at past conference talks. No talks about BoM geography. No talks about BoM artifacts. Lots of talks about Jesus Christ. Lots of talks about our giving service to others.

    The way I decide if GA are speaking under inspiration or just giving their personal views is if their statements are in harmony with the scriptures and with statements from other GA. This "method" has served me well for over 40 years and continues to serve me well. I'm not worried at all about who leads the church, who gives doctrine, who is inspired as prophets. GA today focus on their mission to bring people to Christ and leave science to the scientists.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2011 4:41 p.m.

    @nanniehu

    "For me it's an uplifting, inspiring and faith promoting set of scriptures I cherish. If you feel differently, that's your right."

    I agree that most of it is uplifting inspiring and faith promoting even though I disagree on the notion of them being non-fiction. Heh, after all, I don't think religious themed fiction would even exist if such a combination were impossible.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    April 26, 2011 4:14 p.m.

    Mormoncowboy

    Though most individuals in the Bible are still unproven historically the general sweep of Bible history has been accepted for awhile. I have not seen this drive folks to believe in the Bible (as in accepting the ramifications of its veracity).

    Agreed that discovering the "wheres" of the Book of Mormon would lead one to believe that it is a historical account. And I believe that sort of proof will one day surface. But the day it does, I won't look for many conversions. Nor for many less active LDS to return. A few? Sure. But worldwide? I would guess in the low thousands, no more. You have more faith in people's logic than I do. I don't think science is the reason most turn from faith. Rather, they use it to sustain a decision made for other reasons.

    Overall, I am quite comfortable in the cross-hairs of science. Over time, I think the tide has been more in our favor than out. True, there are issues. But I am willing to wait.

    BTW, I do not follow your reference to "belligerent idiot[s]" finding salvation under the "Moroni 8 clause". Please elucidate.

  • Woody Newbury Park, CA
    April 26, 2011 3:51 p.m.

    I was first drawn to the Book of Mormon because of research I was doing into Native American religion. I was interested in Hopi stories of a migration across the Pacific, and a lost white brother. As an investigator the missionaries took me to a fireside about the archeological proofs of the BOM. The speaker had 40 or so examples of Meso-American facts to support his talk.

    I left very disappointed. I realized that seeking phyical evidence to support an understanding of Mormonism was going counter to the gifts it gives us. The evidence I needed was to have a personal revelation, not engraved plates.

  • nanniehu Wendover, UT
    April 26, 2011 3:11 p.m.

    Me thinks we wrestle too much with the idea of whether to Book of Mormon is true or not. I know it's true. How do I know this? The spirit has witnessed to me over and over again. You can tackle the scientific or theological aspects of whether the BoM is true or not and run around in circles. For me it's an uplifting, inspiring and faith promoting set of scriptures I cherish. If you feel differently, that's your right. I would never choose to take that right away from anyone, so why do so many here want to take that away from us?

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2011 2:40 p.m.

    "Those of you who think if you saw the plates as described by Joseph Smith would believe"

    Assuming there were a way to show the translations he did were accurate yeah I would, because I'm not dumb. But what we have right now is a man who supposedly translated the text in an unorthodox manner off of plates that were just seen by a few family and friends, and then the plates were taken away through God. Suffice it to say... on face value it's pretty unbelievable and skepticism shouldn't be surprising. Is it true? Well perhaps. But... if it were a hoax... wouldn't that be how it'd be done?

    Then there's that story about Harris losing pages so Smith had to translate off of different plates and D&C mentions something about enemies changing words so that if he used the same plates they'd say that he was wrong. Or... those "enemies" are correct and Joseph Smith was making it up so Smith needed an excuse to end up with a different version. Again, if it were a hoax, that's exactly what he could say/do.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2011 2:29 p.m.

    It's not like we were completely ignorant of Native American lifestyles in the 1800s. The fact that the Book of Mormon shows some similarities shouldn't be considered a surprise.

  • ? Fort Knox, KY
    April 26, 2011 1:57 p.m.

    As far as different theories or models for the Book of Mormon. It might be worth the time for some folks to listen to some of the webnars offered through Book of Mormon Evidences by Rod Meldrum. He leans toward the Heartland model for the Book of Mormon.

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    April 26, 2011 1:08 p.m.

    I recently came across a new and exciting model to explain Book of Mormon geography. There is a reason why the limited geography model is so popular. It explains why we have no evidence for what the BOM purports to have happened: we haven't found it yet...becuase its limited. Along the same lines as the limited model is the vanishing geography model. This model postulates that a smaller and samller area is where the BOM happened. Eventually the area that the BOM took place in will become so small that it will vanish entirely. Once this model is embraced, all the pieces off the puzzle will fit together perfectly. There is a good reason why the BOM is full of anachronisms, KJV bible prose, 19th century ideas, etc...it is infact a product of the 19th century.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    April 26, 2011 12:21 p.m.

    @ Ihor: You have arrived at a very strong opinion of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and, by extension, Mormonism and Mormons. Still, you betray a certain shallowness of scholarship in having arrived at your conclusions.

    Your first sentence is an interesting one--one that I actually have to agree with (which may have been your point): "No archaeological evidence supports any of the fictions presented by Joseph Smith." I agree that there is no support for his "fictions"; I don't regard the LDS canon of scripture to be fictional, and there are many archeological evidences that "support" what Joseph taught.

    You say that Joseph was "inept"--too inept to "accurately replicate a plausably believable fake." I would like to point out that, since the discussions on these threads have been going on for almost two centuries it is clear that, if the Book of Mormon is fake, it is an incredibly skillful one (as many critics point out), and not inept.

    Speaking as one of those "uneducated and the gullible" you mention who are supposed to be manipulated by the "inept fake," I welcome the manipulation. I have been successfully manipulated into a happy, fulfilling life.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    April 26, 2011 10:22 a.m.

    Mormon in Michigan -

    Good example of what I have struggled with for quite a while now. When you scan the entire landscape of LDS history and doctrine from the most early writings and comments to today, it can be extremely difficult to know what is revelation and doctrine, or what is at least often portrayed as opinion, speculation, tradition, culture, church admin, etc. etc.

    Modern-day Prophets and apostles have a direct line to the Lord in guiding and directing this church and the Saints. That was the rock that made being LDS so comforting as I grew up. And yet today, I have no clue what was, is or will be described in the near future as just a man's opinion.

    I'm not sure it is too far fetched to say that the church is being defined by apologists and scholars every bit as much as actual leaders in SLC. That certainly seems the case in regards to the framing of history and doctrine and what prophet comments and writings we choose to include or pretend never occurred.

    Sorry, but simple, clear and straightforward our history IS NOT.

  • Charityalways Centerville, UT
    April 26, 2011 9:13 a.m.

    Well, I've read all the comments. I compliment the D-News and the commenters for being fairly temperate. There's not much here I haven't considered before. A lot of non-LDS Christians say I'm going to hell for my beliefs. I am only assuming, so please forgive me, but probably a lot of the scientific people believe I will moulder in the grave without any spirit continuing or factual possiblity of physical resurrection. I choose to believe differently. I've had very little "factual" or "scientific" evidence for that choice. All I can say is that I've had overwhelming spiritual confirmation, some of that from the Book of Mormon. Maybe, someday, I will be scientifically locked up in a mental ward for my delusions, but I'm going forward now with faith, hope, and charity (Greek, Latin or KJV) the best I can.

  • Doctor Tucson, AZ
    April 26, 2011 9:01 a.m.

    The Truth and others say the BoM is a translation into modern English and words are used to convey current meaning. Perfect example of picking and choosing evidence to suit your argument. So in the BoM elephants mean elephants and millions means millions? You can't have it both ways. You also contradict a previous Ash article or two where he stresses the difference between translation and interpretation. Where are the battlefields? It is impossible the BoM is true based on any evidence unless you accept the Bom is not a 100% accurate interpretation, that J. Smith let his culture color his translation. Ash makes that point, not me.

  • Mormon in Michigan Detroit, MI
    April 26, 2011 8:56 a.m.

    Last week Mr. Ash said this:

    Direct evidence is evidence of a fact based on a witnesss personal knowledge or observation of that fact."

    Moroni's appearance is direct evidence as long as the source is from Joseph Smith. And there is just such a source in Joseph Smith's own journal from November, 1835. It tells us what Moroni said:

    "he said the indians, were the literal descendants of Abraham"

    To clarify what "literal descendants of Abraham" meant to Joseph Smith, look at a revelation written on March 28, 1835, before his journal story:

    D&C 107:40 "The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son."

    To Joseph Smith, "literal descendant" meant from father to son. These are from sources of direct evidence. Moroni said the Indians were literally from Abraham, father-to-son, through Isaac and Jacob on down to the tribes in New York.

    Now, Mr. Ash says this:

    "If we forego traditions and folk-assumptions about the Book of Mormon and apply the methods of modern science and scholarship..."

    Now apologists are now claiming that Moroni's words are just folk-assumptions and not direct evidence? Strange.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    April 26, 2011 8:36 a.m.

    Jeff:

    I'm not going to rehash the last dozen of Michael Ash's articles where he has been systematically refuting many of the historical geography models, honing in to the single conclusion which appears to favor, that of a limited geography mesoamerican model. As for Nibley, my point was simply to draw attention to the fact the mass of "evidences" cited for the Book of Mormon overlap. As for what he "proved" about Joseph Smith's insights - well that's up for debate.

    Twin Lights:

    True - it is impossible to prove "religion" true to a scientific standard, ie, a conclusion arrived at through testing. However, if The Book of Mormon is a real account of a former ancient civilization that existed somewhere on the American continents, that could be proven to a scientific standard. While some obtuse person could argue that proving the BoM true, wouldn't necessarily prove Mormonism "true", I would suspect the average person to follow the implication to the logical conclusion that there probably is some truth to Mormonism. I would expect the belligerent idiot who dismisses the connection to still find salvation under the Moroni 8 clause. Mormonism is still in sciences cross-hairs.

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    April 26, 2011 8:26 a.m.

    I used to be very impressed with Alma 32's dicusssion on how to gain a testimony. You are given such an easy starting point. All you have to do is desire to believe. The problem with desiring to believe is that you introduce confirmation bias. Maybe a better starting place would be to desire to know truth. If you don't even consider that the Book of Mormon may not be true then, IMO, your not being a very honest seeker of truth.

    The other problem I have with Alma 32 is how truth is confirmed. Swelling motions? Enlightened undertanding? Deliciousness? I get swelling motions about all sorts of non-religious non-true things. Also, many people get swelling motions about contradicting religious things (ie my church is true so yours can't be).

  • ? Fort Knox, KY
    April 26, 2011 8:12 a.m.

    Oxy-Moroni: What about Mormons who grow up outside of Utah or who come into the church some time later in life and continue to choose to believe? As you say, these are considered to be the odd ones in their communities outside of Utah. So, what do you say about those who remain committed to their beliefs despite how others might treat them or think of them?

  • caljimw Orem, UT
    April 26, 2011 8:05 a.m.

    My only criticism of Ash's article is that it takes too many words to make a simple point, that archaeologists change their minds all the time. As one very famous mesoamerican (non-LDS) archaeologist said recently, when asked about the fact that less than 1% of ruins have been excavated: "We don't know (anything)" (He used a stronger word than "anything"). The best we can hope for is that the blind men of Indostan on all sides of an issue know they are blind, and acknowledge it. In the meantime, as the good book counsels, I'll rely on faith.

  • ? Fort Knox, KY
    April 26, 2011 6:11 a.m.

    Things like the Michigan tablets, or items found from Burrows cave are considered fakes because of how clearly they describe accounts in the Bible. Yet, examples JM gives are discounted because the relation to each other and things in the Book of Mormon seem so vague. How would Book of Mormon people have taught their people about Christ, and what symbols would they have used? When Jesus taught, He taught in parables using everything around Him as examples to teach. Why should this be any different for those of the Book of Mormon or any other culture throughout the world when they taught their people about Him?

  • ? Fort Knox, KY
    April 26, 2011 5:55 a.m.

    What say you?

    The Book of Mormon was written on metal plates. Metal plates are being discovered in America and the Middle East. If they had the knowledge to work metal to make plates with them, they could have known how to work metal to make other things. Though they had this knowledge doesnt always mean they had to use it, so they could have made their swords and other weapons of war out of other materials, too. This gives one example the Book of Mormon could possibly be true. Its not a definitive example, but it is a possible example.

    Then there are these stones people are finding that Ive mentioned in comments before. Most seem to claim these as false, yet there are a few who are finding some of these things to be authentic. Some link these stones to ancient Israelites, while others link them to Prince Madoc. Which archeologist or scientist are you going to believe to prove or disprove these things? Those who do find these things authentic, how are they able to determine what any of it means?

  • rickplatts Ridgecrest, CA
    April 26, 2011 3:03 a.m.

    "God's plan is not something to be deduced by logic alone, It requires revelation from God."-- Neal A. Maxwell

    The truth of the Book of Mormon is received through revelation, not science. My apologies to those who feel that they need scientific proof, but you are missing the point entirely. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see a major scientific discovery that provides incontrovertible evidence of Book of Mormon historicity, but the abscence of that discovery has absolutely no effect on my testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, which I received by the Spirit. I pray that one day, you will also receive a witness of the Book of Mormon. I hope you are willing to accept the reality that you are entitled to know the truth, but you must be willing... I'm not implying that you aren't or haven't ever been willing to receive the truth, only that expecting scientific proof is not conducive to receiving a witness by the Spirit.

  • Simon Canberra, Australia
    April 26, 2011 12:58 a.m.

    DNA evidence from the last 3 years has shown that between 99.6% and 100% of the pre-Columbian ancestors of native Mesoamericans came from Asia (about 1200 individuals tested). Its a similar story in North and South America.

    Michael Ash's claim that the Book of Mormon "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" is difficult to fathom. Its hard to imagine how an invisible group of people left any impression at all.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    April 25, 2011 11:47 p.m.

    @sharrona You spoke of "original Greek". What do you mean by that phrase? When were the manuscripts that you consider original Greek written? Do you believe the original manuscripts were written in Greek, or were the original Greek manuscripts translations of copies...of copies of the original manuscripts?

    @everyone I (and others) have chosen to follow a way of life based on a belief in God, faith, and repentance. Many of you have chosen a different way of life. I respect your choices, and I hope you respect my choices. I don't understand why we are arguing back and forth about our choices. I think it is fine to discuss our differences so I better understand you and you better under me, but in many cases our discussions are going beyond an exchange of information. In many cases comments are made in an attempt to prove that the other guy's beliefs are wrong (both LDS and non-LDS are guilty of doing this). These discussions imply that the persons arguing don't respect the choices of the others, and without respect, discussions serve no useful purpose but are destructive to relationships.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    April 25, 2011 11:41 p.m.

    @Rifleman

    Is that your evidence? I have very good reasons and evidence to believe the way I do. Please refrain from making false assumptions about my personal willingness or unwillingness to accept a claim. Please refrain from telling me I really know "the truth" but deny it. It always seems when arguments fails....many of you resort to false accusations or false personal assumptions. You do not know me or what kind of evidence I would or would not accept. I know myself very well....but you do not know me at all. I have studied and considered extensively both belief and non-belief. I can't believe something that my mind cannot accept. How bout you? Maybe you can go against your own mind, but I can't. There is nothing in religious belief that screams "truth" to me. Possibilities do not equal truth! I can't help that you don't understand that! If you disagree with me or have an opposing opinion....support your argument with evidence instead making up reasons as to why I don't believe the same as you.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 25, 2011 10:33 p.m.

    It seems Mr. Ash's arguments are beginning to more and more parallel Grouch Marx's famous defense argument of: who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    April 25, 2011 9:38 p.m.

    Oxy-Moroni - Even in the US, there are many areas where there is an incentive not to be LDS (or to not be religious at all). We have many friends in various denominations and they are very decent. I do not recall being warned that folks outside the church were depraved or evil and I have not taught any such concept to my children.

    Sharrona - Translators should use the most commonly understandable terms for their text. They translate meaning, not words.

    Mormoncowboy - I don't think it is possible to prove any religion true or false to a scientific standard. Such proof is internal because religion is internal. Peter knew Jesus was a real person but only revelation could tell him that Jesus was the Son of God.

    There is now general consensus that Jesus was a historical person. But people do not feel impelled by that evidence to accept him as divine.

    Absent personal revelation, I cannot see how any of us can know the divinity of anything. We may know that a place existed and even that person mentioned in scripture walked there, but will we ever know their words and works were inspired?

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    April 25, 2011 9:31 p.m.

    Truth: See Moroni,7:45a Copies the KJV, The Love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. Charity(love)never fails( 1Cor 13:8) or Faith hope and charity(love)(1 Corinthians 13:13). The Greek word agape is often translated "love" in the New Testament. "agape love"is different from other types of love? Unlike our English word love, agape is not used in the Bible to refer to romantic love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Nor does agape mean charity, a term which the King James translators carried over from the Latin.
    Read Mormon Doctrine carefully. Jehovah(Abarham 2:8)? "From LDS Revelation, however, we learn that Jehovah is the English form of the actual name by which the Lord Jesus was known ANCIENTLY. JS copied the KJV unaware.
    Joseph Smith also said,Eloheim is from the word Eloi, God is singular number; and by adding the word heim ,it renders it Gods. ( H of C, 1844) Also Wrong.
    In Hebrew the form of the word Elohim, with the ending -im, which normally indicates a masculine plural, however with Elohim the construction is usually grammatically SINGULAR.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 25, 2011 8:50 p.m.

    Re: Joggle | 7:18 p.m. April 25, 2011
    "Can you prove Jesus was a real person and not a myth an/or allegory?"

    God isn't going to force anyone to accept the testimonies of those who actually foretold of his coming, or who walked with him in Judea and on this continent and witnessed his miracles.

    For those unwilling to accept they would not believe if an angel came down and placed the gold plates in their arms. The day will come however when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. Until that day those who mock are free to deny what they know in their souls is the truth.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    April 25, 2011 8:11 p.m.

    To Mormoncowboy and LDS Revelations: I appreciate your thoughtful (and thought-provoking) responses.

    I appreciate that Hugh Nibley had his critics. I also acknowledge that one should not assume that Nibley is scripture, and many LDS writers disagree with him on a variety of topics, including his methods. Still, one cannot make a broad dismissal of Nibley simply for this reason; and even if Nibley is creating a "patchwork" (was that the word?), part of what he was overtly demonstrating was that many things unavailable to Joseph and thought to be fabrications were in fact part of the ancient world.

    I disagree that "one of Ash's main points over these articles has been to try and demonstrate a preferred geographical model for The Book of Mormon peoples." Ash has been repeatedly clear that there is no definitive model for the geography of the Book of Mormon; hence there is no obligation to force an overlap of anything.

    I stand corrected by LDS Revelations. I meant "red herring," not "strawman." To bring up the idea that the Book of Mormon is 19th Century fiction would qualify as a red herring--something meant to distract the argument.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    April 25, 2011 7:18 p.m.

    @JM

    Due to DN's censorship that seems to have no rhyme or reason....I'm unsure this will be posted.

    I will only say:

    1. I weigh all evidence whether from a LDS source or non-LDS source...evaluate ALL of it thoroughly before I form an opinion. I'm not biased for or against your belief. If I could favor your belief based on the evidence....I would....but the evidence doesn't support it...in my opinion.
    2. Mormonism is based on the BoM and other texts so Mormonism is an appropriate term for your entire faith. Some positive aspects of Mormonism such as what you mention are the same aspects that can be found outside your faith.
    3.I can demonstrate the probability aspect with evidence that when weighed against the evidence that is used to support the BoM....surpasses it in strength of probability. I have previously presented evidence, but sometimes due to word limitation I have to use broad statements.....just like you do!
    4. Can you prove Jesus was a real person and not a myth an/or allegory?
    5. Unfortunately you misinterpret opposing opinion and disagreement as mockery when it is not!

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    April 25, 2011 7:11 p.m.

    RE: sharrona

    Once again, the BOM is a translation to modern english,

    IN modern english words like charity and jehovah have very well understood meaning.

    Using those words in translation is not incorrect if that was intent and meaning of the original writer.

    So it matters not a wit what the greeks and jews think.

    -
    -
    RE: Otis Spurlock | 12:52 p.m

    Tells us where the BOM occurred in America and we will show you the evidence.

    However, no hard evidence will convince you that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God,

    Nor that Joseph Smith nor any BOM prophet is prophet of God,

    Nor will any hard evedence, no sword, no chariot will make you believe in God, or the BOM, any more than any biblical evidence has convinvced or given someone faith in the bible.

    Matters of faith will never be established by hard evidence, fatih being necessary part of this mortal probation and test.

    The funny thing is when evidence is given, the doubters, the anti's just reject it anyways.

    That is not objectivity but bias operating.

    Proving Ashes assertions in the article are true.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    April 25, 2011 5:30 p.m.

    Allen: Internal evidence(false)of The BoM, Moroni 7:47 . "But charity(love) is the pure love of Christ . Makes no sense in the original Greek. Charity, mid-12c.,benevolence for the poor," caritas from the Latin Vulgate often used as translation of Greek, agape "love". Charity is the Latin translation of agape(love).

    Bill in Nebraska said, Christ has already declared the Book of Mormon(JS) to be historic? Wrong.
    P. of G.P.(Abraham 2:8)My name is Jehovah? "From LDS Revelation, however, we learn that Jehovah is the English form of the actual name by which the Lord Jesus was known ANCIENTLY. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 788). Google, Tetragrammaton
    Catholic Encyclopedia [1913, Vol. VIII, p. 329] states: "Jehovah (Yahweh),the proper name of God in the Old Testament." Had they known about the Q're perpetuum, the term "Jehovah" may have never come in to being.
    Jewish scholars recognize Jehovah to be "grammatically impossible" Jewish Encyclopedia (Vol VII, p. 8).
    The spelling Jehovah appeared first during the 1762-1769 editing of the KJV Bible. The transcription Jehovah is nothing but a misunderstanding by Christian translators of Jewish reading traditions." JS saw the KJV not Jesus.

  • LDS Revelations Sandy, UT
    April 25, 2011 5:00 p.m.

    @Jeff 12:43 pm-

    Ash's strawman that he so eagerly knocks down is that critics misunderstand how science and evidence works and that they miss the point that "Evidence does not typically prove a position but is information consistent with the position of the theory or claim." This is demonstrably false. Many critics, myself included, realize that the BoM is not totally falsifiable & instead are content to weigh evidence and make their best judgement just like believers.

    Some critics claim the BoM is proven false but most critics have more nuanced and thoughtful conclusions. I, for one, have weighed the evidence and find that the idea of a historical BoM comes up seriously short. No proof. No smoking gun. Only that all the evidence, viewed together support a non-ancient BoM. I am open to further "light and knowledge" that may change that estimation.

    By the way, my comment that the BoM is likely 19th century fiction, is not s strawman. A strawman argument is to misrepresent your opponent's argument and then to refute it as if it were their actual position. I attributed the 19th century fiction conclusion to myself only.

  • aaazzz Murray, UT
    April 25, 2011 3:56 p.m.

    JM,
    You comments are exceeding difficult for me to understand. I was excited to see your 25 points, but I now realize that I will never be able to understand them.

    Also, why would I need to escape from being a factory worker. I just went to school and got a better job. I never saw what the rules were for the JM revelation in a form I found it possible to comprehend.

    So JM, keep up the fight with those who understand you. Good luck.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    April 25, 2011 3:55 p.m.

    Hi Jeff:

    I forgot to mention that this particular critique against Nibley came in 1998 from Kent P. Jackson, Associate Dean of Religion at BYU. He is/was a colleague of Nibley, and also wrote sympathetically in regards to Nibley's intellectual contribution to Mormon apologetics - inspite of harboring some intellectual objections to Nibley's methods. The fact is, he among others, was of the opinion that Nibely took significant liberties in interwining otherwise mutually exclusive ancient cultures to create historical parallels to Mormonism, ie, trying to show Mormonism as being rooted in ancient traditions.

    The connection I was making to Ash is simple. One of Ash's main points over these articles has been to try and demonstrate a preferred geographical model for The Book of Mormon peoples. Of necessity this model requires theorists to have to superimpose Nephite linkages to existing known cultures. In order to maintain theoretical cohesion on the various "evidences" which tend to overlapp many cultures, there is a tendency to paint ancient America as a single cohesive culture. In reality there are multiple languages and customs that have to be accounted for when evidences overlapp cultures.

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    April 25, 2011 2:55 p.m.

    JM: Claiming evidence on superficial similarities when those similarities also exist in other unrelated cultures is also unreasonable. Tlaltecuhtli and Tiamat examples of the Ymir motif that describes Earth being created from the body of a god and is found not only in Middle East and Mesoamerica, but Peru, Japan, and among the Norse. There are similarities with the water and a large beast between the two, but oddly enough, Mayan/Aztec mythology doesn't provide further parallels.

    Australian aborigines also practiced circumcision. Do we include them as part of the house of Israel?

    As I said last week, your examples are plentiful, but suffer in quality. "Christ/Deity, true-self, and previously separated male/female trees (Adam/Eve, Sky/Earth, Square/Sphere, Yin/Yang opposing serpents, etc) united over a sacrificial altar containing 3 sacrificial offerings from 3 levels, etc etc." You touch on several cultures here, many unrelated, and claim that as proof of the BoM (Yin/Yang? Really?). Then you give me a 4th century catechetic teacher and want to use that as a connection to the Maya? His teaching are so mixed with Greek and Roman philosophy that even the Nephites wouldn't understand_him.

  • Kimball Bakersfield, CA
    April 25, 2011 1:58 p.m.

    Mormonism and the Book of Mormon are not intended to be proven scientifically. The deep rancor and hostility noted in the comments to Mr. Ash's brief article say more about the people who wrote them than they do about science, religion, or the LDS beliefs. I find it sad that such educated and knowledgeable scientific thinkers are so ignorant about spiritual things such as the mode and process of personal revelation from God. To deny His existence or His ability to reveal information because of ignorance regarding the process seems to be a very rigid approach to seeking knowledge. I am open to scientific data and I understand that it doesn't support my spiritual and religious beliefs, but I continue to hold to my beliefs that have been derived from spiritual sources that are not empirically studied. I have lived the majority of my life outside of Utah and find respect from others both religious and nonbelievers. Again, what is with the unresolved anger and resentment in the simple comments in the Ash article? Take a deep breath and get a productive life.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    April 25, 2011 1:42 p.m.

    As Mike previously demonstrated: Critics claim they seek evidences and would accept if given. They also admit no evidence would convince them.
    Critics know evidence exists, and, with unreasonable bias, deny, hide, pose, intentionally lie, and refuse to investigate.

    Scholars see similarities between Aleph and A, Odin and Jesus, etc, and assume proven connections.

    Dismissing evidence because you dont yet understand interlocking Christian/Mayan symbolism is unreasonable.

    I explained:

    A few similarities: like crosses on skull/primordial hill rising from chaotic Tiamat waters etc, could be chance, but many similarities collectively are FURTHER evidence of connections.

    Especially when interlocking evidences include: atonement, resurrection, pure life water/blood flowing thought cracked Golgotha to heal Adam and filthy Chaotic (Biblical Tiamat, DeadSea) waters below etc,

    AND culturally unique baptism symbols (crucified and buried in watery womb/tomb with 2Adam etc), pierced hands (same symbolic order etc) etc,

    AND at-one-ment/sealing with Christ/Deity, true-self, and previously separated male/female trees (Adam/Eve, Sky/Earth, Square/Sphere, Yin/Yang opposing serpents, etc) united over a sacrificial altar containing 3 sacrificial offerings from 3 levels, etc etc,(lotsa etc)THEN "dont get it," chance, etc become typical impossible critic claims...: ) Bye...

  • The Milk Beast Herriman, UT
    April 25, 2011 1:13 p.m.

    JM,

    What???

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    April 25, 2011 1:12 p.m.

    @ Joggle: You write: "Archaeological, anthropological, biological, and linguistic scientific evidence exists that doesn't support the BoM..."

    Granted. But the opposite is also true.

    "...and that evidence far outweighs any evidence Ash or any Mormon presents."

    Why? Because it is a Mormon presenting? How do you justify this opinion?

    "Scientists are mostly in agreement, outside of Mormonism that the evidence doesn't support Mormonism."

    You have switched from the Book of Mormon to Mormonism in general. Does this include the Mormon welfare program? Mormon humanitarian aid? Mormon family programs? Genealogy?

    "demonstrably untrue things are claimed....and claimed in a work that supposedly came from God"

    You must, then demonstrate that they are untrue. This does not include your opinion that they are untrue, but actual demonstration.

    "The most fundamental tenets of Mormonism crumble in light of the scientific evidence."

    The most fundamental tenets of Mormonism--Christ and His atonement--hardly crumble in anyone's light, let alone science's.

    You are making, again, broad statements that are unsupported and appear to be intended to justify your own unbelief (no problem) by mocking someone else's belief (problem).

  • JM Lehi, UT
    April 25, 2011 1:02 p.m.

    Another great article Mike. Im not certain if those with misinforming credentials are purposely demonstrating how correct you are, but some play the critics well : ).
    Mike says: As the number of interlocking pieces increases, the strength of the proposition increases
    Several critical screenames challenged me to discuss evidences and similarities (Baal etc) recently.
    I agreed, proposed, gave examples etc. They bailed, some with mumbled excuses, others had gymnastics tryouts ; ).
    Searching, the fairest of Critic screennames (looked at references twice), seemingly agreed to discuss 25 similarities, which collectively are evidence.
    The first 10 were unreasonably dismissed:
    Argued: dissimilar because searching lacked knowledge about Judeo/Christian, ME, and Mayan symbolism (searching only requested elucidating references once. I gave.
    Speculated: Jesus didnt say much on Temple/passion symbolism (although He did, and Lehites built templesBC).
    Unclear:
    -argued others miraculously knew about Jesus passion/temple symbolism?? Somehow making Maya/ME not know, because?
    -argued some dissimilarities exist? (although Sharonna and Biblical Christianity have dissimilarities also, Matthew and John also, but a connection is established with enough similarities, and, excluding Baallike tendencies Maya are more similar to Israelite and original Biblical Christianity than much of pop Christianity today)
    Circumstantial: yes, the passion circumstance.

    continued

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    April 25, 2011 12:53 p.m.

    I struggle so much with what Ash and his apologist colleagues have been asking us to do for many years now - discard much that has been said and written by LDS leaders in order to support a more logical, modern explanation of LDS history and doctrine.

    On one hand, where do they have the authority to dismiss what they choose in order to strengthen what they have chosen as current explanation? And on the other hand, I couldn't agree with them more. I find that I have had to set aside literally everything as opinion, tradition, culture or myth. I am a lifelong active member but both my spirit and mind are crying out that nothing makes sense anymore.

    I suppose the question for me has become this - can I set aside my doubts, confusion and frustration with the fact that so much from the First Vision to today just makes such little sense and has so many troubling questions surrounding them - and just hope?

    I'm sorry I keep saying the same thing here. I guess it is part of my process to figure this out. I appreciate what I read from believers and critics alike.

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    April 25, 2011 12:52 p.m.

    Michael Ash wrote:

    "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."

    What?! I don't know about Michael, but I'm still waiting for iron swords, coins, horse bones, chariots, DNA evidenc, linguistic, archaeological evidence, etc. Michael Ash now claims that instead of evidence to support the BoM, the BoM is the evidence?!?

    It's Advil time.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    April 25, 2011 12:43 p.m.

    It is interesting to me that so many people who have long been critical of believers make broad statements, incomplete summaries, and unsupported conclusions using some of the same techniques that they criticize.

    Weber State Graduate wants to imply that all Mormon scientists use "confirmation bias," and supports that by quoting people who say that confirmation bias exists (apparently in non-Mormon scientists as well, which is a point Ash has made).

    Oxy-Moroni broadly states that "modern science [is] completely against the BOM's claims." He might have more reasonably said that SOME "modern science" is against the claims (which claims, he doesn't say), but he has at least one adverb too many for his own claim.

    "LDS Revelations" says that Ash "creates a strawman in order to make his argument." S/he does not identify Ash's alleged strawman, but creates a strawman about 19th Century fiction that has nothing to do with the article.

    "Mormoncowboy" quotes critics of Hugh Nibley, but fails to quote Nibley; doing so would refute the critics, of course. Cowboy's simplified and incorrect summary shouldn't be taken seriously anyway.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    April 25, 2011 12:18 p.m.

    Again....Ash can't get around the "probability factor" or the "weight of the evidence" concerning the BoM. BoM evidences is very weak and improbable. Archaeological, anthropological, biological, and linguistic scientific evidence exists that doesn't support the BoM and that evidence far outweighs any evidence Ash or any Mormon presents. Scientists are mostly in agreement, outside of Mormonism that the evidence doesn't support Mormonism. Ash must twist or contort evidence to even show it as parallel which in turn has to degrade actual scientific evidence. There is simply no getting around the fact that demonstrably untrue things are claimed....and claimed in a work that supposedly came from God, even if written down by someone else. What, didn't God proof read the Gold Plates?

    The most fundamental tenets of Mormonism crumble in light of the scientific evidence. The Smithsonian Institutions National Museum of Natural History has even provided a written statement denying the BoM's archaeological validity for inquirers for years.

    For me, the scientific evidence against the Mormonism only increases and supports my inability to even initially believe the fantastically unbelieveable claims by Smith. His questionable character doesn't support his claims either.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    April 25, 2011 12:05 p.m.

    First off science will never totally prove or disprove the Book of Mormon. Also, it isn't important to prove the historical value of the Book of Mormon, only that the events protrayed in the Book of Mormon happened. The problem is that the secular world will not believe the Book of Mormon can and did come about simply as Joseph Smith stated it did.

    So the critics are left with basically destroying the evidence and credibility of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon and the individual that did the translation.

    Those of you who think if you saw the plates as described by Joseph Smith would believe then are no different than those who were there present when Christ walked the Earth. He used their own scriptures to testify of himself, yet they wouldn't believe and some of you say you are better than them.

    Christ has already declared the Book of Mormon to be historic, that Joseph Smith translated by the Gift from God and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true and LIVING church upon the whole Earth. Don't believe me then ask Christ.

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    April 25, 2011 11:20 a.m.

    Michael Ash,

    Science, anthropolgy, archaeology, linguistics, geography, geology, botany, etc. all prove to a scientific certainty that the BoM is fiction. This is not some vast right-wing conspiracy in the scientific community. This is fact.

    As a member of the LDS faith that views the BoM as not literally, I can tell you that the Church so much more straightforward, less complex and enjoyable when you don't have to perform mental gymnastics everyday regarding the BoM.

    I would encourage you to take the 500lbs gorilla off your back. It will help you enjoy the Church, life and the BoM more.

  • LDS Revelations Sandy, UT
    April 25, 2011 10:58 a.m.

    Mr Ash creates a strawman in order to make his argument.

    I don't view it as 19th fiction because I don't have 'proof' it's what Joseph claimedI view it as 19th fiction because multiple pieces of evidence support that conclusion. I don't see them as 'proof.' I'm open to the idea that I could be wrong but currently the evidence supporting that position is far better than that of the Church.

    I got the impression Mr Ash was suggesting that in BoM research, science was wrong and the victim of bias. If so, I'd love to see his support for that.

    "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..."

    Are apologist the ones to disabuse the Church of these folk assumptions? Problem is, these are often put forth by Apostles and Prophets. Is the Church really OK with self-appointed defenders sifting through the words of the the Brethren declaring what is revelation and what is assumption?

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    April 25, 2011 10:52 a.m.

    In the sciences, physical, biological, and social there also exists the concept of likelihood. Indeed in the natural science of statistics likelihood functions can be constructed. As for the BOM, the questions need not be posed as "is it true," rather it can be posed "is it likely true."

  • Doctor Tucson, AZ
    April 25, 2011 10:41 a.m.

    It is difficult to leave out the traditions and folklore when the purveyors of the tradition and folklore claim to be talking to God. When Joseph Smith says Zelph is a Lammanite isn't that evidence that at least one Lammanite lived where the body was buried? And logically if he was buried there one could assume (no direct evidence to be sure) that other lammanites buried him and therefore the objects around his burial sites are Lammanite objects and therefore evidence of Lammanite people? Now all we need to do is examine where Zelph was found and see what artifacts are there and find similar artifacts and looking at the complete picture build a model. Then see if that model fits. If it doesn't he's not a Lammanite.

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    April 25, 2011 9:51 a.m.

    "Perhaps you can give us examples of Ash picking and choosing his evidence?"

    I was referring to Ash's statement in the article where he suggested that "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." I was making the point that such efforts must take into account the origins of the book which are rooted in early 19th century magic and occult practices. Some of the traditions and folk-assumptions that Ash would forego stem from this same magical context. Please see Quinn's "Early Mormonism and the Magic World View" for a detailed treatment.

    One cannot fairly analyze the Book of Mormon without accounting for the magical practices from which it sprang. Often those same practices were used to trick and defraud people. In fact, Joseph was convicted of glass-looking for pretending to be able to find hidden treasure by using a magical stone. To me, this is compelling evidence of fraud that cannot be ignored.

  • aaazzz Murray, UT
    April 25, 2011 9:33 a.m.

    These articles are starting to do the opposite of what the initial intent was. Another article and another attack on science. It seems like Mike is moving to a position that says science will never prove or disprove the Book of Mormon.

    With this logic we could say that the shrinking ice cap on the North Pole has no correlation with the temperatures in the Artic Ocean.

    We could also say that the disapearance of the carrier pigeons had nothing to do with them being hunted.

    I am sure that it is possible to find quotes to support any position from LDS people as well as non-LDS people. I see this as a very much weaker support for a theory than physical evedince.

    Going back to the ice cap, it is much easier to measure its size, than talk about its size, if we want to see how big it is. Failure to use the scientific tools we have available to prove or disprove, is not a good way to prove or disprove any theory.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    April 25, 2011 9:27 a.m.

    @Vanka You've said several times that Ash's purpose is to present evidence supporting the truthfulness of the BoM. I didn't realize that was his purpose, and I wonder about it. Would you please give us the name and date of his articles where he states his purpose is to give evidence of the truthfulness of the BoM? This will help me to read his articles with the context he has tried to give for the articles. Thanks in advance.

    @Mormoncowboy "He [Ash] says's that the Book of Mormon, when taken for what it say's, matches quite well with Old-World American culture." Sorry, but Ash didn't say that. He did say, the picture given by the BoM is "amazingly similar in many ways to the same picture painted by New World experts about the ancient cultures during Book of Mormon times." "amazingly similar in many ways" is quite different than "matches quite well".

    @Jax I don't think Ash is picking and choosing evidence. He is discussing the BoM from a lot of different viewpoints. Perhaps you can give us examples of Ash picking and choosing his evidence?

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    April 25, 2011 8:58 a.m.

    "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."

    The problem is we can't just pick and choose evidence. For example, we can't just ignore the suspicious origins of the book. The evidence must be examined in total and in the context. If Joseph claimed to translate ancient records without making those records available for public examination, and if he translated them using a rock in a hat method, then that context must be the starting point of our examination. We cannot rely solely on what the mysteriously translated text says.

    I would hope that people are smart enough view such claims, whether religious or not, with skepticism absent some very convincing evidence proving their authenticity. Unless Ash plans to present some previously unknown evidence, the scant evidence doesn't adequately support the extraordinary claims made by Joseph.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    April 25, 2011 8:49 a.m.

    Hugh Nibley was once criticized for painting a world-view of what he termed "the ancients", which implied that earth's early inhabitants all belonged to a singular cohesive culture. He would cut and paste pieces from the Orient, the Middle-East, etc, and weave them into an "ancient" pseudo-Mormonism conveniently for his apologetics. Some of what Ash is doing, in conjunction with all Book of Mormon apologists is the same. He say's that The Book of Mormon, when taken for what it say's, matches quite well with Old-World American culture. When we take all of these "evidences", the old Nibley habit of taking bits and pieces and wrestling a collage of Old-World Mormonism, seems to be at play.

    With all of this "education" on science, from a quote-horse that appears to have no real scientific training, we need to get down to basics - falsification. It is simple. Mr. Ash needs to establish, at least theoretically, what it would take to falsify Mormonism - and then see if he can do it. If you don't even know how to falsify it, how could you ever defend it - scientifically speaking. It's just that simple!

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    April 25, 2011 8:46 a.m.

    It's important to note that Ash didn't say we believers should ignore science. He is just saying that science has more bias and interpretation than we might expect. To me, this means that I should continue having faith in the BoM because I've chosen a faith-based life-style, and that it's OK to make tentative scientific judgments about the BoM but I should recognize that the final answer from science about the BoM isn't in and that I should thus withhold final scientific judgment of the BoM.

  • Oxy-Moroni Perth, Australia
    April 25, 2011 8:34 a.m.

    Despite modern science being completely against the BOM's claims, I can still understand why Mormons, who have grown up in Utah, would want to hang on to their beliefs. They have been immersed in Mormonism all their lives and they have had many positive experiences associated with living in a mostly Mormon community. The consequences of turning their back on the church are typically very severe.

    Mormons outside of the US are almost always a small minority in their communities. They are the odd ones out in what are typically secular societies. If people in say Australia choose to leave the church they are not faced with the degree of social alienation that many US Mormons are faced with. There is almost no risk to their current or future employment. They often experience a sense of euphoria because they feel much more connected to people in their community. When I left the church my friendships with workmates, neighbors and other friends deepened considerably. I realized more fully just how decent most people are. They are certainly not the depraved and evil people church leaders constantly warned us about.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    April 25, 2011 8:24 a.m.

    Another excellent article. Thanks.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    April 25, 2011 8:19 a.m.

    For the past several months, Ash's articles have been straying further and further from their ostensible purpose: providing "evidence" supporting the "truthfulness" of the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately for Ash, his articles have been straying into realms of inquiry in which he has no training, experience, credentials, or savvy, and it shows.

    But this week, Ash's article says... pretty much nothing at all.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    April 25, 2011 7:39 a.m.

    "There is no such thing as a completely neutral observer."

    Perhaps so, but a reputable researcher will do their best to eliminate any "confirmation bias" that may creep into their work. That's why many scholars willingly subject their evidence to peer reviewed examination.

    On the other hand, apologists often engage in cognitive illusions by selectively searching for and considering information that confirms a belief, while at the same time ignoring any empirical evidence that might serve to disconfirm those beliefs.

    As pointed out by Austin Cline in an online article about conformation bias, Michael Shermer in a September 2002 issue of Scientific American stated that "Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for nonsmart reasons."

    Confirmation bias is certainly a "nonsmart" method that actively keeps one from arriving at the truth through the continued acceptance of comforting nonsense.

  • Mike in Texas Allen, TX
    April 25, 2011 7:32 a.m.

    Marvelous dissembling by Mr. Ash. In his defense of the historicity of the Book of Mormon he argues that science is not definitive, and that scientists will draw different conclusions based upon the same evidence. What a revelation. The question is why does he need to do this? Is there some concern that the scientific evidence does not support the historicity of the book? Is that what is worrying him?

    Well, maybe it should.