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Defending the Faith: Biblical 'minimalists' and the historical record

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  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Feb. 21, 2017 9:37 a.m.

    @oragami

    You state: And by the way I say this as a scientist and agnostic. I respect people of faith much more than I do people who seem intent on "proving" anything religious with "facts".

    Interesting. Through the centuries of time fact has changed religion. Can you think of a time when religion has changed facts.

    Thx.

  • oragami St. George, UT
    Feb. 20, 2017 12:07 a.m.

    I don't have any problem with this article with one important exception the word "prove". Nothing can be proved when it comes to archeology and even more so when it comes to religion. Even scientists avoid using the word.

    Fact is also a troubling word when it comes to things that may or may not have happened thousands of years ago.

    Faith is about faith. Proof and fact have almost nothing to do with it. If anything, this kind of focus diminishes the value of faith. And by the way I say this as a scientist and agnostic. I respect people of faith much more than I do people who seem intent on "proving" anything religious with "facts".

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 18, 2017 6:20 a.m.

    "The Catholic Church does not recognize Mormon baptism as valid because ..."

    And the Mormon church does not recognize Catholic baptism either. I don't think that Mormons recognize any other baptisms. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • CMTM Lake Forest, CA
    Feb. 17, 2017 4:23 p.m.

    RE: Husker1 What is your point??

    The Christian faith that is founded on fact is both reasonable and logical and as such has many outside evidences to support it and strengthen it. Understanding the rational and logical foundations of our faith in Christ . While we cannot prove God’s existence scientifically, we certainly have ample evidence of His existence in creation alone (Psalm 19:1-3; Romans 1:18-32).

    RE: The Catholic Church does not recognize Mormon baptism as valid because, although Mormons and Catholics use the same words, those words have completely unrelated meanings for each religion. The Mormon’s very concept of God is infinitely different from that of ‘Christians’.

    They also believe that Jesus came into existence after the Father, and that the Father and the Son are not one in being. Thus, although they use the phrase "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," in their usage this phrase takes on a meaning that is actually polytheistic and pagan rather than Trinitarian. Catholic Answers.

  • Husker1 Northern Utah County, UT
    Feb. 17, 2017 3:03 p.m.

    @CMTM

    What is your point??

    My point was that I believe in Jesus Christ. I'm Catholic and the Catholic Church has a documented history that goes back to the time of Jesus. If it were proven tomorrow that Adam and Eve never existed and were just a fable, it would not effect my faith in Jesus at all.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 17, 2017 11:16 a.m.

    Scripture has a difficult time with history as practiced by historians. Scripture has an even bigger problem with natural history. When I was in college I took "Advanced Physical Geology." The TA was a Great Salt Lake fanatic, so we got GSL and Lake Bonneville lore galore. Everyday I look at what he talked about. I can see the Bonneville sedimentary features and algal reef features. But they do not correlate with scripture. What should we do?

  • CMTM Lake Forest, CA
    Feb. 17, 2017 9:38 a.m.

    RE: Husker1. “The actual existence of Adam and Eve ,or Hebrew kings, doesn't effect my belief in Jesus Christ one way or another.”

    “ he(Jesus).. he who made them at the beginning made them male(Adam) and female, (Mt 19:4)

    The serpent and Genesis 3 in John 8:44: “You belong to your father, the devil, He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.”

    Jesus was Called the Son of David God had promised David, the first rightful ‘king of Israel’, that his throne would be established forever. (2 Saml 7:12-13).

    RE: The Apostles creed puts Jesus in history ,”….suffered under Pontius Pilate …”

    Pontius Pilate's Wife(Mt 27:19)became a Christian after the death of Jesus Christ.e.g…,

    Saint Claudia in 2 Tim 4:21 where it says, ‘Eubulus, Pudens, Linus and Claudia(Latin name) send their greetings, and so all the other Christian,

    VS, Mormon 9:29 see that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily.
    JS uses Sacrament, 600 years before it’s use. From the Latin sacramentum by Tertullian around 200 AD .

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 17, 2017 6:04 a.m.

    I think that Mr Peterson is subtly trying to make this point.
    Not everything in the Bible is proven by archaeology. Just like the BOM. So, why the different standard?

    In reality, There is much from the Bible that is provable (and much that is not).
    The Bible mentions cities and places that still exist today. The writings in the Bible mention people who can be proved to have existed.

    It is wishful thinking to try an equate BOM archaeology and Biblical archaeology.

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    Feb. 17, 2017 4:21 a.m.

    NoNamesAccepted said "Those who accept Biblical history, but reject Book of Mormon for lack of proof are being intellectual dishonest. Reject because of doctrine is fair game. But don't apply different standards to history from the Bible and the Book of Mormon."

    Bible writings are supported with centuries old documents. I can accept that the Bible comes from ancient stories and sources without believing that those stories are true. But the claim that the Book of Mormon comes from ancient sources does not have any credible backing from archaeology, DNA studies, etc. My rejection of it is not from applying a different standard to history. Quite the opposite, it is from applying the same standards of evidence. Intellectual honesty led me to my conclusion that the Jaradites, Lehi and Mulekites were a 19th century fabrication.

  • MAYHEM MIKE Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 16, 2017 10:23 p.m.

    @skeptic: "there never was a great Hebrew nation here in the Americas. . . . The search in Israel has never turned up evidence of brass plates. . . there is absolutely no evidence of a great Hebrew nation here in the Americas. . . The Native Americans disclaim that there are Hebrews among their Indian tribes. etc."

    No evidence proves it's not true? Hilarious "logic."

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Feb. 16, 2017 12:42 p.m.

    NoNamesAccepted
    "Reject because of doctrine is fair game. But don't apply different standards to history from the Bible and the Book of Mormon."
    ______________________________
    I believe in universal standards. The books of the Bible should be evaluated for historical value in the same manner in which we consider any ancient document that might potentially yield historical information. The Book of Mormon, however, is a unique case in that its claim of ancient authorship is rejected by non-LDS academia.

  • Husker1 Northern Utah County, UT
    Feb. 16, 2017 12:42 p.m.

    Not all books in the Bible are meant to be historical and the Bible, as a whole, shouldn't be treated as a history or science text. For example, I believe God created everything but I don't take the creation process ("On the first day...") in Genesis literally. The actual existence of Adam and Eve , or Hebrew kings, doesn't effect my belief in Jesus Christ one way or another.

  • CMTM Lake Forest, CA
    Feb. 16, 2017 11:34 a.m.

    RE:. NoNamesAccepted - The classical approach to the defense of Scripture.

    Premise A — The Bible is a basically reliable and trustworthy document.
    Premise B — On the basis of this reliable document we have sufficient evidence to believe confidently that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
    Premise C — Jesus Christ being the Son of God is an infallible authority.
    Premise D — Jesus Christ teaches that the Bible is more than generally trustworthy: it is the very Word of God.
    Premise E — That the word, in that it comes from God, is utterly trustworthy because God is utterly trustworthy.
    Conclusion — On the basis of the infallible authority of Jesus Christ, the Church believes the Bible to be utterly trustworthy..VS,

    "It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus Christ than is worshipped by the Mormons .. (LDS Seventy Bernard P. Brockbank, Ensign, May 1977, p.26 ).

  • Tyler D Prescott, AZ
    Feb. 16, 2017 11:17 a.m.

    @NoNamesAccepted – “the job of the apologist is not to prove anything, but simply to provide rational support for the faith”

    Rational?

    Best I can tell, all of Dr. Peterson’s defenses of the faith amount to little more than “you can’t prove it isn’t true” which of course is the same (only) defense for any superstition or belief in mythology, not to mention Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

    By the way, I wish more people would understand that “proof” resides in the domain of math and logic. Science is about evidence and telling us what is most likely. By that standard, none of the faith-based religious dogmas (as well as a fair amount of their history) survive scrutiny.

    But that’s why they call it faith, right?

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Feb. 16, 2017 10:20 a.m.

    I appreciate these columns by Dr. Peterson. I am reminded that the job of the apologist is not to prove anything, but simply to provide rational support for the faith and rational alternatives to the criticism levied by those who attack the faith.

    strom thurmond and others who perpetually attack all things LDS or Book of Mormon relies on various strawmen and half truths. The geographic location of the events of the Book of Mormon have never been definitively set. Joseph Smith pointed to the Great Lakes area. Others in his day presumed Central America. strom also ignores the massive amounts of ancient burial mounds destroyed in the Eastern US as European settlers arrived.

    While the Jewish people still exist, where is the modern proof of the other tribes of Israel? Where is the modern proof of the Exodus?

    Those who reject all scripture history are consistent. Foolish, but consistent. Those who accept Biblical history, but reject Book of Mormon for lack of proof are being intellectual dishonest.

    Reject because of doctrine is fair game. But don't apply different standards to history from the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Feb. 16, 2017 10:07 a.m.

    There never was a great Hebrew nation here in the Americas. The Book of Mormon story is a fable from beginning to end. The search in Israel has never turned up evidence of brass plates like Nephi supposedly stole from his uncle Laban. And there is absolutely no evidence of a great Hebrew nation here in the Americas less than two thousand years ago. The Native Americans disclaim that there are Hebrews among their Indian tribes. There is some excuse for people's superstitions and fairy tales during Joseph Smiths times; but not today. It is way past time to wake up to reality, and honesty.

  • Tyler D Prescott, AZ
    Feb. 16, 2017 9:26 a.m.

    “However, although it’s not typically their goal, sometimes they do prove things.”

    I wonder if Dr. Peterson takes the same attitude towards “proof” when it goes the other way.

    When reason and science disprove biblical passages does he acknowledge that as well?

    If so (i.e., if he is intellectually honest) then I applaud his affirmation of the long tradition of Biblical criticism going back at least to Spinoza, and to the last 400 years of science that has shown the Bible to be filled with myths (like all the other “sacred” books from the bronze/iron age) starting with Genesis 1 (which says water was created before light… a scientific impossibility).

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Feb. 16, 2017 8:32 a.m.

    To use the Bible or any other document as historical information, you first have to recognize its limitations. The Bible may not be wholly reliable history but it is the chief primary source on the history of ancient Israel, in many instances, the only primary source. That’s the reference point from which a scholar works.

    I find it more probable that David and Solomon did exist than did not. The details given in the text must be scrutinized for clues to who may have written the texts and why but even the improbable or unlikely reported events doesn’t necessarily make the actual characters myths.

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 16, 2017 6:41 a.m.

    I glanced at the referenced article by Mr Hamblin.

    It is incredulous to compare the Nephites to the exodus.

    Hamblin says we don't know the exact route of the exodus, and therefore since we can't find the Nephites, the Book of Mormon is not disproven.

    Sorry, the Jews still exist, they and their writings exist in antiquity and this is not disputed.

    This is bad apologetics at its worst.

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 16, 2017 6:29 a.m.

    The statement that 95% of the new world has not been excavated, ergo the Book of Mormon hasn't been proven wrong, is misleading, at best.

    The Book of Mormon places millions of people living, warring, etc, durring a specific time period. Joseph Smith put this group in the eastern United States. Not 1 fragment of evidence has been found of them.

    Further, you don't need to excavate 100% of the continent to know that there were no horses, steel, wheels, and more inportantly silk, in the Americas before Colombus.