Comments about ‘Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Challenging Issues & Keeping the Faith: What archaeology can and can't teach’

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Published: Monday, May 2 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Scottsbluff, NE

To avoid "naïve assumptions about what archaeology can and cant tell us about the early inhabitants of ancient America", people should read this: Three Basic Principles of Archaeological Research by Garrett G. Fagan. It can be found online. Here is a quote from it:

"Archaeologists and historians will always support the evidence over speculation -- to do otherwise is to close the door on history and open the door on myth."

People are too easily taken in by pseudoarchaeology and apologists should not to be trusted.

Ask yourself this: Archaeology and DNA studies show that there was no Biblical flood in America. Science shows that humans have lived in the Americas without interruption for more than 10,000 years.

The apologists are now trying to establish the belief of a small group of Israelites beginning about AD 600, living among these "pre-adamites". Such delusions are highly offensive to many of America's indigenous people, particularly those that apologists might tell us are non-BofM people.

Everybody Wang Chung Tonight
Riverton, Utah

The best evidence of the BOM is the gradual but undeniable change its narrative can occassionaly have on an individuals heart and spirit. Such personal changes do not require supporting evidence, and never have so required.

Seeking after scientific proof to support ones belief in the BOM is a mystifying endeavor. Why does Michael Ash expend such energy on this? Is it to aid in missionary work? Is it to authoritatively respond to critics of the historicity of the BOM? Is it to shore up Michael Ashs own faltering faith in the record? The Savior soundly criticized we who seek after signs. Sign-seekers may receive signs, but not unto salvation. It seems to me that Ash is in effect seeking signs for whatever purpose.

I suspect Ash is in the midst of his own personal struggle with the historicity of the BOM, and is trying to address it with a wild goose chase for hard scientific evidence of the book. My advice to Ash is to just let it go.

Murray, UT

I don't understand why Mike is talking about is how we don't really have anything to disprove the exsistance of the Book of Mormon.

I don't really understand why he made the point about barley. Barley is an old world crop that conatins gluten, while Hordeum pusillum (which is the new world equivalent of barley) does not contain gluten. That probably doesn't make any difference, but I am not sure it is a good idea to start making these kinds of claims about the fauna and flora mentioned in the Book of Mormon. It leads to too many ather problems.

Miami Area, Fl

Wouldn't "great cities" and populations of hundreds of thousands or even Millions turn up via archeology?

Wouldn't we have found a site where a great battle where hundreds of thousands of people died carrying weapons? Archeology would have found that by now.

Yes, it is possible that the BOM is historical, and we just have not uncovered any real evidence based on BOM claims.

Yes, it is possible, but common sense would suggest that it did not happen.

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

The central theme of the Book of Mormon is the testimony of Jesus Christ accumulating in His physical appearance in the New World. The story of His appearance in the BofM seems to be quite dramatic. He came in great glory, preceded by fantastic and wide-ranging natural events, appeared to a large number of people, remained for an extended period of time, performed miracles, and introduced Mormonism or the same gospel we claim was restored by JS. This HAD to leave a dramatic impact on the culture and beliefs of those who lived during that time.

Evidences of THAT would be huge to the claims we make of the Book of Mormon. Evidences of this would be very difficult to brush off as something else. It would be far more than a "lucky hit" by Joseph Smith. And regardless of what some may say, it would have a phenominal effect of the missionary work of the church.

I would love to see some evidence that the dramatic events surrounding the visitation of Christ occurred. I don't that we teach a Limited Visitation Theory. It HAD to impact those people and that culture in a phenominal way!

Grantsville, UT

To: "Michael_M"

"Ask yourself this: Archaeology and DNA studies show that there was no Biblical flood in America. Science shows that humans have lived in the Americas without interruption for more than 10,000 years."

The Grand Canyon from the October-December 2008 quarterly publication, Answers. Written by eminent geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling. "Within this sandstone, we find grains of the mineral zircon, which is relatively easy to trace to its source because zircon usually contains radioactive uranium. By dating these zircon grains, using the uranium-lead U-Pb) radioactive method, it has been postulated that the sand grains in the Navajo Sandstone came from the Appalachians of Pennsylvania and New York, and from former mountains further north in Canada. If this is true, the sand grains were transported about 1,250 miles (2012 km) right across North America."

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

To NoMad -

I'm not sure what you are trying to say by your quote. Are you saying this proves a worldwide flood?

Google "zircon and the grand canyon" and one of the first things that pop us in an article from Nature News. This quote in it was interesting:

"As soon as zircon crystallizes from molten magma, its radioactive uranium begins to decay into lead. The amount of lead in a zircon grain therefore reveals when it formed. These ages can then be matched to zircon ages from different mountain ranges.

Half of the Grand Canyon samples were formed either around 1.2 billion years ago or around 500 million years ago. These ages match granite in the Appalachian Mountains. Only a quarter of the grains came from the Ancestral Rockies; the rest hark from the interior of Canada."

Yes, it appears some of the zircon found in the Grand Canyon came from the Appalachian Mountains - at least 500 million years ago!

Grantsville, UT

Idaho Coug,

Looking at To: "Michael_M" Comment: "Ask yourself this: Archaeology and DNA studies show that there was no Biblical flood in America. Science shows that humans have lived in the Americas without interruption for more than 10,000 years."

His comment has no flood in the US

Scottsbluff, NE

Dr. Snelling's conclusions are not published in scientific journals for peer review. What is the "October-December 2008 quarterly publication"? Certainly not a professional scientific journal. Is that why the title was left out of today's mention of it? Dr. Snellings theories are not accepted by the scientific community and are even discounted by some young earth creationists.

One could read Chariots of the Gods and believe that ancient astronauts influenced the Plains of Nazca, but just because something is in print does not make it so. This also applies to the writings of LDS apologists. Simply saying something in writing does not make it real.

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.

Grantsville, UT


The publication is "Answers". You do have a valid point which is "Faith".

Tucson, AZ

Great article!

Tucson, AZ

How far down did the glaciers come? That would explain minerals from Canada being found in northern AZ. And again, no one is asking for proof of the book of Mormon. Just eveidence that the culture/civilization existed. As long as apologists are willing to change their arguement to match the evidence (LGT) then the apologist will always be able to say, "See you can't prove me wrong."

Twin Falls, ID

These articles just aren't the same without the zany and incomprehensible posts from JM. Where are you JM? Please post. My wife and I are going through our Monday withdrawals without you and your posts.

Provo, UT

One would think that if Mr. Ash is going to pronounce an authoritative judgment on the entire field and tradition of Archeology, he would at least be required to have some credentials in Archeology. Or at least philosophy of science. Or something.

What are Ash's credentials? What peer-evaluated expertise does he have that gives him any credibility at all on these topics?

Fort Knox, KY

I posted this in another article, but it may be worth repeating here. A book that may be worth reading for some folks is "Antiquities of the state of New York. Being the results of extensive original surveys and explorations, with a supplement on the antiquities of the West..." by E.G. Squire. Enjoy.

the truth
Holladay, UT

RE: Michael_M

What evidence would a worldwide flood leave behind that would not easily disappear in a few years of erosion, weather, and so forth?

If you filled a bathtub then let it dry out slowly over several months,
what evidence thousands of year later would you find that the bathtub was ever filled?

"Science shows that humans have lived in the Americas without interruption for more than 10,000 years"

Science has shown NO such thing.

But then again science is full of assumptions, just look at evolution, a story this weekend assumes a relationship of old fossils to us, all to satisfy a theory.

No hard evidence, just assumption, and before you cry about DNA, DNA can just shows common genetic features, NOT a relationship,

all living things share common genetic features to some degree that does not show relationship, all relationships must be assumed.

Science has shown the existance of man at various times, but other than it can no make conclusion of uninterruption, uninteruption is an assumption.

We know small groups have travel the oceans for millenia, why not isrealites?

Miami Area, Fl

"just look at evolution, a story this weekend assumes a relationship of old fossils to us, all to satisfy a theory."

Well, lets look at the two possibilities.

Evolution happened in man
Evolution did not happen in man

Is it fair to say that creatures have "evolved"? Personally, I believe that has been proven beyond doubt.

Has man evolved? Well, science has shown VERY strong evidence.

Those who deny evolution of man the strongest, do so only to "satisfy a theory"

You tell me. Who has the most factual evidence to support their position?

Scottsbluff, NE

Michael Ash has written that the flood may not have been worldwide.

From his Mormon Times article on February 1, 2010:

"Not all LDS Church members believe the sun stood still (Joshua 10:13) or that Noah's flood covered every inch of the entire planet."

From the 2008 FAIR Conference:

"There either were horses in the ancient Americas, the fundamentalist mind may think, or the Book of Mormon is false. There either was a world-wide flood that wiped out virtually all life, or the Bible is false. To the fundamentalist, there is no middle ground."

Mr. Ash offers this advice about the flood: "we should use our brains as well as our spirits when we study the gospel."

Also see the FAIR article "Mormonism and science/Global or local Flood":

"The belief that the flood was either global or local does not constitute a critical part of Latter-day Saint theology."

"A current hypothesis that has been gaining ground since 1998 is that a significant flooding event occurred in the area now occupied by the Black Sea."

To those who missed the point of my post, argue the flood with the apologists, not with me.

Provo, Ut

After reading the first two paragraphs it has become clear to me that Vanka's observations have been correct. Ash is Googling logical constructs and fallacies in order to keep up with the consideration. In other words he is trying to educate himself while he presumes to teach - which raises serious questions on most of his arguments.

1) He states that critics are "silly" to suggest that the BoM "contradicts archaeology" and states that the fallacy is "denying the antecedent" because all archaeology is not discovered. He is basically stating that "lack of evidence is not evidence of lack", and he is correct on that point, however contradiction is not denying the antecedent. If geneticists for example state with 99.73% probability that all American Indians migrated from Asia (I'm not a geneticist, so I can't evaluate the debate) then that contradicts The Book of Mormons claim that they came from Jerusalem. This would not be an example of denying the antecedent, but it is a contradiction. Furthermore, denying the antecedent in this case can just as easily be a scape-goat for lack of evidence because it is hard to tell when all archaeology has been discovered.

Grantsville, UT

"More frequently critics of the church claim that the Book of Mormon is unsupported by archaeological evidence."

During the period of 1959-1961, NWAF colleague Dee Green was editor of the BYU Archaeological Society Newsletter and had an article from it published in the summer of 1969 edition of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, pp 7678 in which he acknowledged that the NWAF findings did not back up the veracity of the Book of Mormon claims. After this article and another six years of fruitless search, Thomas Ferguson published a 29-page paper in 1975 where he concluded,

"I'm afraid that up to this point, I must agree with Dee Green, who has told us that to date there is no Book-of-Mormon geography..."

In 1976, referring to his own paper, Ferguson wrote a letter in which he stated:

"...The real implication of the paper is that you can't set the Book-of-Mormon geography down anywhere because it is fictional and will never meet the requirements of the dirt-archeology. I should say what is in the ground will never conform to what is in the book."

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