Article hit me as really strange. why would someone spend that much time doing
that kind of research. Cannot he accept the book as written or does he need
some scientific proof to make him feel better about it when he talks with
others. First question that hit me was the title to the piece. How does one
become an expert on the Book of Mormon and an expert about what exactly.
"Indeed, certain elements of Book of Mormon vocabulary may derive from a
period prior to the King James Bible — which is certainly something to
ponder."------------This is what is fascinating to me. I
have read numerous internet "theories" on why this is so, all of which
are interesting, but I have yet to make a conclusion on why this is the case. Of
course, I am completely incapable of coming to a conclusion. Not that I need
one, but it is fun to wonder "what if?" I wonder if Dr. Peterson or Dr.
Skousen will entertain us with an idea of why some vocabulary in the original
texts pre-dates the time of the translation of the Bible. On second thought, I
doubt highly respected scholars will form opinions on this as only speculation
can be expected. And, any theory will probably be "weird" or certainly
different from our expectations. Also, I hope the lectures will be
available to listen to. I probably won't be able to attend them.
I don't see anything strange in Peterson's article, but
flatlander's comment seems quite odd. Peterson TELLS what Prof. Skousen is
a specialist on: He's studied the textual history of the Book of Mormon
and created a "critical text" of it -- very much the way other scholars
have studied the textual history of Darwin's "Origin of Species,"
Mark Twain's "Tom Sawyer," Homer's "Iliad," and, for
that matter, the New Testament, and have created "critical texts" of
those works. None of these efforts have anything to do with "scientific
proof" that Homer's account is true or that Huck and Tom really lived.
Those are totally separate questions.
For most Mormons, LDS faith is not dependent on empirical evidence supporting
the Book of Mormon’s historicity. I knew of a young man who became
obsessed with the quest to the point that he came to believe he had nailed down
the exact location of Zarahemla. He was an inactive member who was struggling
against the notion that the Book of Mormon could not be understood by the
logical mind, something I presume he had been taught at one time. He was unsure
of his faith but the obsession to find proof was still with him.
@Craig,A book as large as the Book of Mormon and with as many
historical accounts, should be able to either be proven true through modern day
scientific evidence, or thus proven false.There really is no in
between. If its true, prove it. Such is the requirement of anything in life we
are supposed to take as true.Silly would be the notion "math is
complicated. Don't try to understand it really, just believe that it
I'm not sure what Chris B.'s comment has to do with Peterson's
article, but, if he really thinks the issue is so black and white, he must
imagine that the Book of Mormon has been proven false.But
where's the "proof" that would convince all rational and
fair-minded people? It doesn't actually seem to exist. Which suggests
that Chris B.'s demand is simplistic. The Book of Mormon hasn't been
proven true, but it also hasn't been proven false.
Apologists and debunkers have more in common than they suspect. One is out to
prove, the other to disprove. Neither is the basis for honest scholarship.To approach history with integrity, you can’t predetermine the
outcome. An honest scholar must the trail of evidence to wherever it leads and
it often leads to some surprising places. I don't see how a scholar can be
an apologist. You can't serve two masters.
To discount evidence when it becomes inconvenient and then draw it back for use
when it becomes convenient under the pretext of "analogical modeling" is
nothing more than intellectual dishonesty. Peterson does this quite often -
purposely ignoring evidence which does not support his conclusions while laying
claim to ostensible evidence that advances his supernatural beliefs. Belief in the BoM is a matter of faith. I have much more respect for those who
claim such belief as a matter of faith over the person who tries to incorporate
scientific evidence in support of its authenticity despite the overwhelming
empirical evidence against it. Leave the BoM where it belongs - in the arena of
@Verdad,Agreed, it hasn't been proven true or false.At this point, its on par with any story ever written by anyone, ever.
Weber State Graduate:What? Royal Skousen's "analogical
modeling" is a linguistic theory, not a ploy for hiding uncomfortable data
about the Book of Mormon. The two are unrelated.Craig Clark:The fact is that some of the greatest scholars and philosophers in
history have been apologists, and that some leading scientists, scholars, and
philosophers still today (e.g., Alister McGrath, John Polkinghorne, Alvin
Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, William Lane Craig, Kenneth Kitchen, N. T. Wright,
etc.) ARE apologists. So maybe you need to revise your notion that the two are
incompatible. The actual evidence is against you.
RE: Craig Clark, To approach history with integrity, you can’t
predetermine the outcome. An honest scholar must the trail of evidence to
wherever it leads and it often leads to some surprising places. True,(3
Ne. 21:9).For my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a
marvelous work” among the people of the land of America in the last days.
Isaiah 29:14 KJV, Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a
marvelous work among this people, even a Marvelous work and a Wonder: for the
wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent
men shall be hid.Is 29:14 Septuagint, Therefore behold I will
proceed to remove this people, and I will remove them: and ” I will
destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will hide the understanding of the
prudent.”“I will Destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will
bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” (1 Corinthians 1:19).
Paul quotes the Septuagint, from where God denounces the policy of the Wise in
Judah seeking an alliance with Egypt against Assyria.
Verdad:Such "linguistic theory" is used by Peterson as
evidence to support BoM authenticity. To advance such evidence for consideration
while at the same time discounting the overwhelming evidence against BoM
authenticity, as Peterson often does, is intellectually unreasonable. Although interesting, Skousen's "analogical modeling" does
nothing more than advance an illusion of probability through the creation of
assumed associations. Peterson frequently makes clever use of assumed
associations while ignoring or brushing off evidence to the contrary. As a
self-proclaimed scholar, such activity is simply untenable and calls into
question the validity of all his claims.Again, belief in the BoM is
a matter of faith. As such, it should remain in the arena of faith.
I studied the Book of Mormon in high school seminary, read and studied it 7-8
times whilst serving a mission. Took multiple classes on it at BYU and
institute. Taught from it in gospel doctrine for 2 years and have read it about
20 some odd times in my life.I've also read and studied books
that analyze the Book of Mormom from differing viewpoints that aren't
biased towards its claim to authenticity.Not to be arrogant,
I'm probably as much an expert on it as anyone and would invite an
opportunity to discuss my findings and insights on it with Daniel or with Mr.
The more you read the Book of Mormon, the more it becomes clear that it cannot
be what it is claimed to be. Yes, it has some good stories and spiritual ideas.
But that doesn't make it true.
I had a Senior Seminar class with Prof. Skousen. He knows so much about the
history of the manuscript etc and he is absolutely captivating to listen to. I
wish I lived closer so I could go.
Verdad,“....some of the greatest scholars and philosophers in
history have been apologists....""....maybe you need to
revise your notion that the two are incompatible. The actual evidence is against
you.____________________With all due respect, apologetics
doesn’t meet the rigorously high standards expected of first rate
scholarship. Being faith-promoting is appropriate for the Sunday School manual
and other general instructional material of the Church. But in a university
level academic thesis or dissertation, peer review from outside the Church and
BYU inner circles is essential if the study is to be taken seriously. Any flaw
or weakness is fair game to be exposed by a process that’s supposed to do
just that.There’s nothing unreasonable about that. I
wouldn’t have it any other way.
@Chris B,I'm afraid I have to chuckle when I read your
assertion that, "...should be able to either be proven true through modern
day scientific evidence, or thus proven false."(S)Yes, man knows
everything. There is nothing more to discover or learn and man has the ultimate
knowledge of all things, past, present and future. (/S) Pardon my sarcastic
tenor, but man is hardly in a position to prove anything by himself.We are taught that the way to know of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon
is by faith; by exercising Moroni's Promise as related to us in Moroni 10:4
- "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would
ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not
true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith
in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy
Ghost."Why do we need the inanely pathetic science of weak,
insignificant men when we have the power of the Holy Ghost to testify as to the
Book of Mormon's truth?
JonathanPDXYou can't be serious can you? Did you really just
say that praying about something and getting an answer by the spirit is a more
realistic and reliable method then analyzing facts? Think about that. So then
when people do take Moroni's promise and the spirit tells them that it
isn't true, is that also reliable, or does it only count when the answer is
Looking up 'analogical modeling', one finds all roads lead to Skousen.
Isn't anyone else doing this? He's been at this since before 1989.
Time to get real. In 1741, the sloop "Sea Flower", left
Belfast and was 16 weeks at sea. 46 of its 106 passengers died of starvation
with six eaten by those trying to survive. Atlantic voyages were
treacherous.In 600 BC, a group of Israelites traveled the vast
oceans to find land in the Americas after being at sea for over 300 days. Rather than looking at the writings, people should question the
legitimacy of a work which totally ignores reality. It is almost like a fiction
trying to be made real.
Exactly what words are used in the Book of Mormon and where they came from are
immensely important. The book is true and it invites any and all scrutiny.
Honest investigators have asked for a hundred years, "How did a 19th century
translator translate nephite and get nearly verbatim the same as 15th century
translators got translating Greek into the New Testament, errors and all? Why
did the first edition contain "bad English"? How could there be
expressions that were unknown in the 19th century? The answer to these questions
is that the Book of Mormon was REVEALED to Joseph word for word. He didn't
use a bible, didn't even use the plates,just looked in the hat with the
seer stone. Many eyewitness saw exactly that. We just don't learn it in
Sunday School. And for those doubting the expertise of Royal and the importance
of his work, you show your ignorance. Attend the lectures.
Brahmabull,If you really feel that has been your answer, then you
are off the hook. No problem. I have read folks here say such things and I
take them at their word. I would simply note that my experience and the
experience of all those I know personally who have taken that challenge has been
in the affirmative.Fkratz,I can only say that a sloop is
typically a relatively small craft. It really comes down to what rations were
provided for given the numbers of people and the length of time they thought
(planned) to be at sea.Also, it appears that they were transporting
convicts so rations might have been poor and meager to begin with. Not sure
there is a comparison here.
@JonathanPDX,Do you suggest that we discontinue all schools, as
those institutions teach people to find truth through indisputable means.Why don't we just tell everyone to pray about math, science,
engineering, architecture, medicine, to verify they are true?Just as
a doctor can't gain his needed expertise by praying to see if medicine is
correct, man can't pray to see if a religion is true. Anyone can convince
themsleves they've found something they really want to find, even if they
truly haven't.What if I pray and am told that 2+3=5. Does that
make it so?Nope.
Chris B,I would classify few items I have ever learned as
indisputable. As to the value of education, this is from President Hinckley:You need all the education you can get. Sacrifice a car; sacrifice
anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of
the world. That world will in large measure pay you what it thinks you are
worth, and your worth will increase as you gain education and proficiency in
your chosen field.You belong to a church that teaches the importance
of education. You have a mandate from the Lord to educate your minds and your
hearts and your hands. The Lord has said, “Teach ye diligently … of
things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have
been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are
at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations,
and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and
of kingdoms—that ye may be prepared in all things” (D&C
Since the publishing of the Book of Mormon in 1830 there have been a lot of
archeological finds in Central and South America that were not know of then.
That to me is enough "imperical" evidence of the truthfullness of the
book. However, as with the Bible, one must develop a faith and testimony to
know it is true in the "supernatural" sense.
The prophets of the Bible spoke the Word of God as did those of the Book of
Mormon. I am happy with that. Why do so many in these threads go a different
path. Both of these prophetic scriptures have brought me great joy and have
elevated my faith in Christ. Peter wrote, "For the prophecy came not in old
time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the
Holy Ghost". Both books go hand in hand to testify that Jesus is the Christ,
that is good enough for me and for my family as we go forward in the service of
our Savior. The authors of these scriptures were simple men called of God, not
primarily historians or scholars.
Paul's writing to the Corinthians states,'For what man knoweth the
things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of
God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.". So it goes with the scriptures.
Paul would of course know what he was talking about in making such an inspired
statement to unbelieving people. Paul's faith came from first hand
expeiences with The Spirit, not from scholarship. His detractors were the
scholars of the day.
I wonder how many of the critics have ever had a real spiritual event happen in
their life. I wonder how many of the so called critics have stood in the Sacred
Grove, Kirkland Temple, Joseph Smith log cabin, Liberty Jail, Far West and many
other spots where some of the most tragic and spiritual events in the History of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints occurred. I've had more
than one opportunity to do so and each time I get the same spiritual response to
things. Answers come more easily as I allow myself to be taken away from the
world around me.My ancestors were early converts to the Church.
They had the opportunity to know and to live with the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Many of their stories and the telling of the events differ so much from what the
critics state. It really shows that there is a difference when the Holy Ghost
is paramount in your life and when it is not. When one leaves the
Church of Jesus Christ we are told in the scriptures that they become the most
critical and hateful people against the people of Christ. Woncer why.
@fkratz: And of course the reality that we should not ignore must be the version
YOU have created, based on one single voyage. Not all transatlantic voyages
resulted in such Donner-Partyesque tragedies: only two out of 150 people
perished on the Mayflower. As for how long the Lehites were at sea, the entire
voyage is treated from start to finish in one chapter of the Book of Mormon (I
Nephi 18), and it makes absolutely no claim that it took anywhere near 300 days.
Perhaps you yourself should construct your realities a little more carefully.
@tusco: You are of course correct and I was mistaken. What I meant to write
was a comment about the Jaredite sea voyage lasting 344 days and occurring long
before the Lehites. Those eight small barges must have been a sight to behold,
bobbing like corks on the vast open ocean.
Bill in Nebraska (Acts 17:11)These were more noble than those in Thessalonica,
in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the
scriptures daily, whether those things were so.(I John 4::1). Dear
friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they
are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.2
Corinthians 11:3-5 "For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have
not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received,
or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with
Donn: I'm sorry but the Jesus taught by the Church of Jesus Christ is the
same Jesus as taught by the other sects of Christianity. Just as I mentioned you
have probably never been present when the Holy Ghost has been present. If you
had you would have never left the LDS Church. So as mentioned those who have
left the LDS Church are the most ardent critics. I really wonder why. Is it
because Satan who is real has made you his pawn or is it really that you have
refused to accept the truth when it is before you.The Book of Mormon
will stand as a testament against all who criticize it at the time of the
judgement. Remember at the time of the Second Coming only the most righteous
will be left on the earth. There will be some who are not members of LDS
Church. Missionary work will continue but in the end. Every knee shall bow and
every tongue will confess that Jesus is the Christ. Which is you?
@fkratz: Thanks for the clarification, and I apologize for being a bit snarky
before. I understand your misgivings from a secular standpoint. But you're
rather straining at gnats and...not swallowing camels but ignoring them (surely
there's a more apt expression that doesn't require adaptation). You
critique seafaring data while ignoring the much more fantastical and CRUCIAL
claim (again, to a secularist--I don't know if that's you) that God
could talk to someone in a cloud, lead him and his company to a promised land,
etc. If you don't believe that, then of course you don't believe all
the business about barges, etc. But why single out the Book of Mormon when the
scriptures of most major religions make similarly "supernatural" claims?
If your real beef is that you don't believe in God (or at least such an
interactive one), fine. But if you just assume that as a given without making a
compelling case for it, disputing an account of someone accomplishing something
humanly impossible with God's help amounts to a circular argument.PS I believe the voyage described in Ether is supposed to have been
transpacific, not transatlantic.
RE: Bill in Nebraska, the Jesus taught by the Church of Jesus Christ is the same
Jesus as taught by the other sects of Christianity.(Mosiah 7:27)…God
should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood
,and go forth upon the face of the earth. (Phil 2:6-10 NIV )Though
he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges he took the humble position of a
slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he
humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a
cross Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him
the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth .(1Tim 3:16)God was
manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto
the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.God becomes man
not man becomes God
The notion of accepting the Book of Mormon on faith appeals to some here. Fair
enough.But accepting it as what it claims to be would be far more
palatable to many if even one artifact, one shard of pottery, or one coin would
be found. None has.And more, the absolute convolution that is
necessary to make the plants and animals mentioned in the Book of Mormon
"work" is amazing. Elephants, horses, wheat, barley. None of them
existed by all evidence.
A Secular View:The real problem with the BoM and faith that
adherents have that it is true lies in the idea Mormons believe in something
that looks utterly ludicrous(ie Satan), improbable, and unproveable when cast in
a rational light and that goes for all religious texts in all religions old and
new. The need to believe can be so powerful that it overpowers
logic-reason-knowledge in favor of believing in things that don't jive with
reality and are extremely weak in probability. As for spiritual experiences and
that some often rely on when logical arguments fail...can be explained otherwise
as natural emotional experiences brought on by the event, the need the want,
chemical imbalances, drugs, reactions in the brain to natural external stimuli
having nothing to do with a god, brain damage. Natural explanations are always
available that are more reasonable than "God or Satan" did it. I support
your freedom to believe, but it seems to me that if you can't understand
why people don't believe.....than you haven't truly investigated
"belief" and simply accept through faith which to me is belief without
evidence. Evidence reigns supreme in our world.
Donn:I don'tknow what you are trying to prove but if you really looked at
those scriptures you cite, they really say the samething. They don't
contradict each other which is what you are trying to prove. There is no
contradiction at all. One is clearer than the other, meaning the Book of
Mormon, but in all they same the identical same thing.Torngal:
Actually is quite a bit of proof on the Book of Mormon. A lot of what is written
is things Joseph Smith could never have known as he translated the Book of
Mormon. I suggest going to FAIR and seeing for yourself much of the proof
provided. There is both physical and scientific proof that relates to the Book
of Mormon. There is parallel proof as well that Joseph Smith could not have
known about. In fact, there is more proof for the Book of Mormon than against.
However, faith is the biggest denominator of the Book of Mormon, proving not
only its existence but truth for it. Critics have spent too much time trying to
prove it is fake than trying to prove it does.
Chris B"There really is no in between. If its true, prove it. Such is
the requirement of anything in life we are supposed to take as true."Agree.Verdad"The Book of Mormon hasn't been
proven true, but it also hasn't been proven false."There
has been far more proven false about it than proven true. Far more.Bill in Nebraska"I suggest going to FAIR and seeing for yourself
much of the proof provided. There is both physical and scientific proof that
relates to the Book of Mormon. There is parallel proof as well that Joseph Smith
could not have known about. "Going to FAIR for proof its true is
like going to any anti-LDS site to prove it's false. It has no credibility
when theirs a bias or agenda. That being said some anti sites I've been to
have been quite fair and respectful in their analysis."In fact,
there is more proof for the Book of Mormon than against."That's blatantly false.
There is some considerable effort made by some to cast "apologists" as
second-rate compared to the REAL SCHOLARS who only follow a quest for knowledge
"wherever it leads" -- promoting an assumption that these real scholars
are never influenced by their own biases and that they never begin a quest for
knowledge with a particular end in mind. Baloney.Skousen, it
appears, just set out to analyze the Book of Mormon text in a certain way. For
him, he says, the textual discoveries "strongly support" a particular
understanding of the Book of Mormon itself. In other words, his studies have
led him to conclusions that he has shared with us. I like it; Daniel Peterson
evidently likes it. Some may not like it -- and may post their condemnations on
Dr. Peterson's blog comment section. We'll take their critiques under
Bill,I'm happy to look at the "quite a bit of proof" of
the Book of Mormon, so kindly share it. Because when I have gone to FAIR, I see
awkward twisting of logic to force facts to fit. And in the end, I am left with
less confidence than when I entered.And more, how POSSIBLY can you
prove "Joseph Smith could not have known" anything? But again, I am
happy to entertain the notion, so please tell us what he could not have
known.And finally, I would love someone to point to a single non-LDS
scholar who agrees that the Book of Mormon is, as it claims to be, a true record
of ancient people on the Western Hemisphere. Because I have not found a single
Like I said in a comment this morning that mysteriously disappeared without a
rejection or approval.Going to FAIR for proof that it's true is
like going to an anti-LDS site for proof that it's false.I have
seen some, what would be considered anti-LDS to members, that are quite fair and
respectful with little to no clear bias.
Bill in Nebraska - You are continually able to entertain me. You claims that all
that have left the church cannot feel the holy ghost and are pawns of satan... I
used to be offended at this but now I just feel sorry for you that you think
anybody who doesn't agree with the church is a pawn of satan. Moreover,
comments like that reinforce my decision to leave the church, as I would never
want to be a part of an organization that teaches that those that are not with
us are pawns of satan. Thank you for helping me relize my choice was correct.
Tornogal: I'm not going to list them. Reason: Most of what I would site
are available on FAIR and FARM websites. Though some I may or may not agree
with do provide the information you seek. However, from you last comment you
neither care what is said or you face it with the critics of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints point of view.They can and do explain
many things much better than I can or even wish to explain. My faith and
knowledge I have acquired is sufficient for me to disavow any of the critics
information. The proof is there is you are ernestly seeking it. Otherwise, to
explain would be nothing more than a waste of my time.
Joggle,The many medically trained LDS I know would I think well
understand the concept of emotional experiences vs. spiritual experiences and
have examined that issue.I certainly understand why folks
don’t believe. Been there, done that.Tornogal,Since there have been many artifacts found supporting the Bible, do you
believe that document to be the word of God?Donn,I
agree. Do not believe every spirit and there are false prophets. By
implication there are true prophets and there are spirits we should believe.Preaches another Jesus from that which the early church understood
– not the Jesus of Nicaea 300 years later.Fkratz,Just as an aside, I’ve been on the recreation of the Mayflower. It
looks a lot bigger on film. I don’t think I would have volunteered to
cross the pond on it. Look at Viking “ships” or the Polynesian
ocean going canoes. All of these are tiny crafts by today’s standards.
But folks do amazing things.
fkratz:You may want to look up Thor Heyerdahl. He made the voyage
you claim to be nearly impossible. The difference between you and he, is he
understood ocean currents and sailing, and knew that sailing from Belfast to new
England isn't the same as sailing from the coast of Africa or the
Mediterranean to the New World. First, he sailed from the New World to the
Polynesian islands of the South Pacific on a Balsa raft, 8000 km in 101 days.
Then he sailed from Africa to the New World in a reed boat, 6100 km in 57
days.Obviously, NOT a work of fiction.
Thinkman wrote:> Not to be arrogant, I'm probably as much
an expert on it as anyoneSeriously? After you've written and
publilshed books comparable to his,you might be able to call yourself an expert.
Royal Skousen has been through the various texts of the Book of Mormon with a
fine-tooth comb, considering the possible meaning of literally every word.Have you even looked at any of his books? Do you know anything about the
Book of Mormon manuscripts? I didn't think so.By the way, Royal
Skousen's work is *not* apologetic. What he's done has *nothing* to do
with whether or not the Book of Mormon is true and *everything* to do with what
the text of the Book of Mormon actually is and says. Those who argue otherwise
simply show their ignorance.