Comments about ‘Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Naive assumptions about New World Christians’

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Published: Monday, May 9 2011 3:00 a.m. MDT

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Miami Area, Fl

"if we approach the problem with preconceived expectations based on naive assumptions, it shouldnt be any wonder if we dont find what we are looking for."

Have to agree with Mr Ash here. However that sword cuts both ways and could just as easily be written as

"if we approach the problem with preconceived expectations based on naive assumptions, it shouldnt be any wonder that everything we find supports those assumptions."

The article makes a good point. I understand it can be difficult to tell ones religion via archeology. But, that leaves out the elephant in the room.

How about this. First, find those civilizations numbering "hundreds of thousands and possibly millions" and their "great cities" and then we can quibble over what church they went to.

Fort Knox, KY

Why do some people say that seeing a possible relation to archeological findings and the Book of Mormon is pseudo-archeology? Why do these then say that the methods used to verify apologists theories are pseudo-rigorous? It's kind of like saying that those who do not receive a witness that the Book of Mormon is true is because they are exercising pseudo-faith, if there is such a thing. I don't think there is such a thing as pseudo-faith any more than there is such a thing as blind faith. Faith is faith.

Why don't some people receive an answer as to whether or not the Book of Mormon is true? I don't know. For those who struggle to receive an answer, if all you can do is lean on the testimony of your spouse, children, or parents, then start with that until you can receive your own testimony. Turn to those who love and care about you the most and who you should be able to trust to tell you the truth. Ask them what has helped them to believe. Maybe those same things that have helped them will help you.

Fort Knox, KY

Something to think about is that in more recent history than that of the BookofMormon you have the Roanoke Colony (Lost Colony.) It is said these colonists disappeared after three years had elapsed without supplies from England. If something like this colony could disappear, why then is it so hard to think that those of the Book of Mormon could have been wiped out, building structures destroyed and those who remained could have blended in among others who might have been on the continent?

Think about how much excavating archeologists have done in finding ruins and remains in various sites throughout the world. Then think about how much has been ploughed over, or picked up by treasurer hunters and archeologists and how many of those things by now might be stored away in boxes.

It seems easy to dismiss stones and tablets, though there are those who are finding these things to be genuine, but how do you dismiss earthworks and ruins? (Newark Earthworks State Memorial) Among those who are finding these things to be genuine are some who are not members of the LDS faith. Could any of these things have some relation to the BookofMormon? Don't know.

Huntsville, UT

"Some critics have suggested that because the Book of Mormon claims that Christ visited the Americas, there should be an abundance of evidence for this miraculous event."


According to the BOM, when Christ supposedly visited America there were MASSIVE GEOLOGIC upheavals.

If that were true, there would be MASSIVE GEOLOGIC Evidence to support it.

Where is the evidence? Where is it?

Harwich, MA

Mr. Ash, you're making the assumption that your sharing genuine facts. The louder you speak my friend the less we can all hear.

Somewhere in Time, UT

Another great article.

I can't wait to see what the detractors have to say about how he doesn't know what he's talking about and how his articles are laughable. Another good one is about how the more he writes the more ridiculous he gets. Same old, same old.

Mr. Ashe, your articles are great and very intelligent. Thanks for all your efforts.

Scottsbluff, NE

This is a disturbing attempt to explain why no recognizable Christian artifacts are found in Meso-America. The archaeological value of ceramic studies cannot be minimized, neither can the significance of pottery development during the Late Preclassic period be ignored.

Apologists claim that during the 400 years of Christianity in America, BofM people were overwhelmed in a population of others. Most troubling to me is that this identifies real people, their history and artifacts as belonging to "others". It is a poor excuse for why archaeologists cannot find evidence for pretend mythical people. It should be a valid concern that LDS members might think less of the real Mayans and their rich and incredible culture. The apologists are promoting fantasy people over reality.

Mr. Ash said this about a fragment of pottery: "that piece of history provides little evidence concerning the civilization that created or used the pot."

Has he closed his eyes to science? Ceramic Petrography is used to find where an item of pottery was made. How far it was found from where it was made gives a way to trace the movement of pottery and associated trade. All from a fragment of a pot!

Full-on double rainbow
Bluffdale, UT

The Nephites were Christian for at the most 400 years? It seems to me that Nephi and friends knew quite a bit about Christ. It's interesting that Nephi (the first Nephi that is) even knew the word "Christ" or "Bible." I would submit that the pre-christ Nephites were much better at seeing the future than Old Testament prophets. I think that the Nephites were Christian for at least 1000 years. Your perspective on Christ is greatly enhanced from the 19th century as opposed to the Old Testament prophets perspective, and the Book of Mormon is evidence of that.

Salt Lake City, UT

I am not here to debate whether Mormons are now Christians. A Christian is considered by definition as a follower of Christ. Ash puts in his caveat by placing Christian in parentheses an indication of an argument of semantics. Alma writes that they were called Christians about 100 years before the birth of Christ. Dont regale me with JS translating the word Christian from reformed Egyptian using the Greek word as understood to mean Christ. The whole thing seems a bit too much of a parachronism for me. FAIR even changes the definition of Christianity to believer. Words dont fit, change the meaning!

Phoenix, AZ

It seems JoeBlow (4:32) is correct: Mr. Ash is putting the cart before the horse. He needs to go back and establish that indeed there were dinosaurs that roamed this planet earth millions of years ago, before he starts arguing what color they were.

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

It is abundantly clear that there is not strong, direct evidence of the story as described in the Book of Mormon. It seems that for the past month these articles have been laying the groundwork for the fact that all evidences to date are circumstantial. That is not being critical but simply an obvious, objective reading of these articles.

Ash assert that we only have 400 years of Nephite Christian society from which to find archeological evidence. The entire Book of Mormon speaks of and looks for Jesus Christ. It seems the very purpose of the book from page 1.

I am not being critical when I say that it seems clear that scholars and apologists are literally re-writing the traditional LDS belief of the Book of Mormon before our eyes in order to make it more compatible with the glaring lack of evidence. EVERYTHING, including the extent of Christian belief among the Nephites, has been dramatically reduced and minimized.

Part of me says this is a positive effort toward a more reality based LDS theology. And yet another part sees this as just further proof to the overwhelming realization that everything screems man, not God, made.

Bountiful, UT

If Ash is trying to convince us that we are unlikely to find evidence of Christianity in MesoAmerica, then let's just move on to the next subject. The Mormons are the only group I'm aware of that would even suggest that such evidence is found there, so if Ash is agreeing with the lack of evidence, then let's just move on to the next subject. There is nothing to debate.

Ash also suggests that we shouldn't approach the problem with preconceived expectations based on naive assumptions. That's another thing we can agree on. I just hope that he can hold to such ideals. My biggest concern about LDS scholars is that they do the very opposite of this by starting with the naive assumption that the Book of Mormon is a literal history and trying to fit the world into that view. I mean that is the very premise of these articles.

Murray, UT

If I remember, the term Christian is used well before Christ visited the Nephites. In Alma 46 the Nephites are refered to as Christians. That lack of detail by the author was a little surprising to me.

I also have to agree that there should be massive geological evidence based on the events of 3 Nephi should have left some discernable evidence, at least in light of the bones and rusted swords found by King Limhi's search party. Also, the land of desolation was so named because of the deforestation that had occured when the Jaredites lived their several hundred years earilers, which establishes a precedent for finding geological events from earlier civilizations.

Lehi, UT

Another great article Mike. Right on again about critics denying no matter the evidence. They already know there are many interesting parallels between Indigenous Peoples' religious symbolism and Christian iconography. In fact, there are so many that the critics "just chance" argument has become impossibly absurd and is added to the mountain of dead critical claims.

Critics also already know that other evidences are growing so rapidly that they are on the run, and can only fabricate. They know and admit they are dishonest in their claims, and everything from DNA to morphology and countless ruins and correlations testify to the truthfulness of the BoM. Still, they are unmoved by the rising pure river : ). They hold fast to chains of darkness, which testify that Satan is reality also, and we must be vigilant, lest we become this also : )

luv yall, still very busy.....

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

This whole thing is starting to become almost surreal. It seems that it doesn't matter what apologists say - true believers will always say the exact same thing. As if they don't even read the articles.

Earlier Apologists - "We have a ton of evidence. Literally everything we find screams of BofM atuhenticity."

Believer response - "Great article, right on point, critics stink."

Current Apologists - "Actually we should not expect to find evidence of anything stated in the Book of Mormon. But here is a long list of logical reasons why we should not...."

Believer response - "Great article, right on point, critics stink."

Apologists three to five years from now - "Wasn't JS wonderfully inspired to write a book, that while we all have known for years was not historical and never claimed it was, that reinforces our testimonies of the Savior."

Believer response - "Great article, right on point, critics stink."

Apologists ten years from now - "Book of Mormon? I'm not sure we have ever taught that."

Believer response - "Great article, right on point, critics stink."

Tucson, AZ

I'm assuming the believers have conceded there is no direct eveidence that any civilization that could have been the BOM people exists. I'll concede it is always possible it could be found later, but today none exists. How about some kind of reference to this great civilization in the histories of Mayans/Aztecs/Incas/ or whoever succeeded the BOM people? Certainly old world middle eastern civilizations that disappeared were known about. Even the legend of Atlantis is beginning to procude logical sites. So you take a legend (Atlantis) look hard enough in the appropriate places and you find underwater cities. Why isn't there a legend of a great civilization that disappeared? Even if only as a story bragging how their ancestors conquered the lands from them?

Fred Vader
Oklahoma City, OK

I used to think that those posters who claimed to be members, but had doubts as to the historocity of the BoM, were sincere, and were really just looking for more info, even though they didn't always agree with Mr. Ash or other posters.

However, after today's posts, and several others in the most recent weeks, I think it is pretty clear that the usual "doubting mormons" are neither doubting, nor mormon. It is evident in the way Mr. Ash's comments are often distorted, and other poster's comments are distorted, that their intent is to criticize, and lead others down false paths.

I'm cool with folks who are honest about not agreeing with the BoM, or mormons in general, even when not so nice about it. But I have little patience for those pretenders who intentionally deceive through commission, omission, and outright distortion.

If you don't believe and are not mormon, cool. Just man up and admit it, and stop the intentional deceit. You know who you are.

Salt Lake City, UT

"if we approach the problem with preconceived expectations based on naive assumptions, it shouldnt be any wonder if we dont find what we are looking for."

Incidentally you haven't found what you are looking for based on the preconceived expectation that the book of mormon is true. Does that make you naive?

Provo, Ut

Mike Ash speaks of the Book of Mormon people as though he were intimately familiar with their history and cultures, and then does an about face and states that evidence doesn't exist? How pervasive was Christianity? The Book of Mormon outlines a conflict between two or more alleged civilizations - but it says nothing as to how much public awareness there was on Christianity. While LGT is the theory he prefers, there is no absolute proof of it (in fact there is no proof of anything, which is why Ash is so fond of LGT). All Ash is doing now is speculating on what he thinks are reasonable expectations of old world archaeology and Book of Mormon support. Still he has failed to explain why other assumptions are naive. So here it is - Ash, if the Book of Mormon is true then I expect that there has got to be some reasonable evidence. That evidence can be of any kind, it just has to bee solid. Now, explain why I am naieve.

Salt Lake City, UT

"I think it is pretty clear that the usual "doubting mormons" are neither doubting, nor mormon."

Well I can only speak for myself. I'm an inactive LDS member who had joined the church almost 5 years ago (baptized may 2005), inactive due to a lack of belief in the Book of Mormon or the notion that Joseph Smith is a prophet. Essentially I consider myself a non-denominational christian since my beliefs (examples: lack of belief in Trinity doctrine, belief in eternal marriage) don't match up with any denomination.

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