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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Is the Historicity of the Book of Mormon Relevant?

The Book of Mormon is supposed to be a historical document of religious texts of people that lived in Ancient America. In my previous post, I talked about how there is a change in the way the Mormon leadership views Native Americans.

Traditionally, it was widely believed, taught and accepted that Native Americans were all decedents of the Lamanites. Now, it seems that the church is starting to back off on that assumption and take the position that it is unclear who are the decedents of the Lamanites. However, it is clear the the church still stands by the Book of Mormon as being a historically accurate document of Native Americans and their religious practices.

Let's assume for a minute that the Book of Mormon is a historical record. My question is this: Why stop there? If the LDS church accepts religious texts of ancient America as scripture, why do they stop at just the Book of Mormon?

Other Religious Texts Of Ancient America

We have the Books of Chilam Balam, written in Yucatec Maya and consisting of historical chronicles mixed with myth, divination, and prophecy. Unlike the Book of Mormon lands and people, we know that the Mayas existed and that the Books of Chilam Balam are historicaly accurate.

The Aztecs had sacred texts like The Hymn of Huitzilopochtli. The great thing is that we know that the people that wrote this hymn existed. We can translate the texts from Nahuatl, which language actually exists, because people still speak Nahuatl in Mexico. I know this first hand, because I saw villages that still speak Nahuatl and even picked up a few words on my mission in Mexico.

Among ancient Aztec writings are prophesies concerning the years we are living in today. Why does the LDS church dismiss these writings, yet we know they are historical documents written by people that lived in Ancient America.

How Is The Book Of Mormon Different?

So my question is this: If the Book of Mormon is a historical religious document of civilizations of Ancient America, why do we accept it as being scripture if we don't accept the Books of Chilam Balam, or the Hymn of Huizilopochtli, which are also historical religious documents of civilizations of Ancient America?

I don't think the Book of Mormon is intended to be a historical document. If it were, the angel Moroni would have given it to the Smithsonian institute or maybe a wondering sheepherder like the dead sea scrolls. We could also ask the opposite, why didn't a Mormon prophet discover the dead sea scrolls?

So why does the LDS church try to prove the historicity of the Book of Mormon? If the historicity of ancient texts qualifies as scripture, then by that measure, the Book of Mormon shouldn't hold as much weight as the Books of Chilam Balam, or the The Hymn of Huitzilopochtli. Compared to those documents, the Book of Mormon should take a backseat, since we can all agree that they are historical documents from real people that we know existed, and we can actually point on a map of the real world where they lived.

What It Comes Down To

My point is that it has nothing to do with the historicity of the Book of Mormon as an ancient text. It has everything to do with the story of an Angel and the translation of a mysterious language on gold plates. The Book of Mormon is nothing more than a device to claim divine authority.

Disillusioned Mormon

38 comments:

tatabug said...

Perhaps there would be no need to try and prove the historical accuracy of the Book of Mormon if there weren't attempts to try to discredit it as being historically inaccurate. I suppose that if the Church decided to make no attempts to try and defend the Book of Mormon, it would be assumed that there is no possible defense and as such the Book of Mormon is presumably untrue. Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish. --Austin Farrer on C.S. Lewis

Also, not all history or all religious writing is created equal. There can be much wisdom found in various religious writings and commentary. Even C.S. Lewis teaches some great things. But these writings are not authorized, nor do they even come from prophets, and that is what scripture is. Anyway, the purpose of the Church is not to promote history. It is to bring people to Christ.

Zelph said...

Tatabug,

Yes, that is correct that in the LDS church, scripture must come from a prophet and not just an academic or secular source.

That is the whole point. If this is the case, then why try to prove the BoM as being a historical document? It makes no difference if it is a historical document or inspired fiction, because the source is from a prophet.

That goes back to my original point and that is that the historicity is irrelevant. What is relevant in the LDS community is that it came from a prophet through and angel and divine power.

So once again, why does the church continue to focus on the historicity of the Book of Mormon when we all know that is not what makes scripture?

Second, isn't it possible that LDS members can still have the same conviction of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon without it being historically true? Since it is given to us by prophets, it doesn't matter if it is true historically.

Elder Joseph said...

Tata

The purpose of the church is not to bring people to Christ.Its to bring people to the LDS church to comply with its unique regulations and system of obedience to priesthood heirarchy.

How is a 150 year old Priesthood ban on Black Skin people bringing People To Christ?

How is Polygamy for Old Mormon Leaders (young girls marrying and concieving with old men) bringing people to Christ ?

How is teaching that blacks are the cursed less valiants from the pre existence bringing people to Christ ?

I've no doubt David Koresh and Jim Jones thought they were bringing poeple to Christ also.

The Book Of Mormon has no Historicity to anything in the Americas.Its reads more like a fantasy novel from Joseph Smith to con people out of their possessions , virtue , dignity and lives .

In return they got persecuted , they had their money taken from them , many had their lives taken from them ,they had their wives taken from them by Joseph himself.

If the Book of Mormon is a historical document it means you believe the Americas ( now a Limited Geography Version) had Cows, Horses , Pigs , Goats, Steel Swords , Chariots etc prior to Columbus and The Spaniards despite your own museums showing otherwise.

Just to get back on B H Roberts .Yes he remained a member until the end , but he did write that that the church faces grave difficulties over this.I've read his writings , they are more than just a devils advocate .The concerns are real. He seemingly relied on his testimony in the end rather than finding any realistic answers to it all.

If he had have quit you would have just said 'lots of LDS Apostles etc quit before too' look at Judas etc.
It just so happens that the Mormon Apologists were able to tackle it with him remaining a full believer .

Zelph said...

Tata-

I think that for many years, the LDS church has defended the widely taught and publicized doctrine that Native Americans are decedents of Lamanites. However, it looks like at least regarding this fundamental doctrine that the church HAS abandoned trying to defend it-regarding the idea that the Lamanites are the ancestors of ALL Native Americans.

However, I disagree with you that the purpose of the LDS church is not to promote history. The church has used the Book of Mormon as a conversion tool for Native Americans, Polynesians and all over Latin America. People were converted on a false premise of history that the Book of Mormon was a history of their personal ancestors. To me, that is using history as a means to conversion.

Bishop Rick said...

I personally don't think the historicity of the BofM is relevant. The church could be a great organization for good in the world without the BofM. I wish the church would simply come clean about it, drop all the controversial doctrine that can't be defended, and become leader in the Christian movement.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I think the historicity of the BOM IS relevant when the leadership of the church promotes widely that it is the "most correct book on earth."

If it isn't, then why say that? Because there is a reason they said that about it. In my opinion, the reason they say that is to get people to believe the church is the One True Church, so they will join up and pay tithing.

Faithful members will claim of course they need tithing, to further the Lord's great work on the earth! Skeptics will nod and say of course they need tithing, like all good corporations do.

:) So if we are looking at it in tithing terms, perhaps the historicity isn't relevant. Not for the believer or the skeptic.

tatabug said...

Zelph,

I don't think the Church is abandoning the idea that ALL Native Americans are descended from the Lamanites, but are rather accepting the idea that genetically speaking, the Lamanites are probably not the principal ancestors of our current Native Americans. But religiously speaking, Native Americans are still descended from "Lamanites" who may or may not have been genetically related to Laman and Lemuel, but were affiliated with them in their campaign against the Nephites, and as a result were labeled as such.

The Church's own revelations talk about taking the Book of Mormon to the Lamanites in order that they might know about their fathers. D&C 3:19-20 says, "And for this very purpose are these plates preserved, which contain these records--that the promises of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to his people; And that the Lamanites might come to the knowledge of their fathers, and that they might know the promises of the Lord, and that they may believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ, and be glorified through faith in his name, and that through their repentance they might be saved. Amen."

It isn't a matter of historicity that we are trying to prove through the promotion of the Book of Mormon to the Native Americans. It is a matter of a divine mandate which has been given to us to fulfill. You may disagree with the authenticity of this mandate and all others that are issued through the Church, but the idea that proving the historicity of the Book of Mormon is somehow a driving force behind the Church's efforts to convert is unfounded. We are supposed to share the Book of Mormon with all the world, but a promise was given to Nephi that a remnant of his seed would receive the record through the Gentiles so that they would know who they are and where they came from (2 Nephi 30:3-4). The promotion of it on those terms is merely a fulfillment of prophecy.

But this issue is just one among many that are predicated on continuing revelation, which you've rejected, but cannot disprove with any degree of certainty, except perhaps in your own mind. However, this is the only basis there is in which to consider such issues.

You said,

Second, isn't it possible that LDS members can still have the same conviction of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon without it being historically true? Since it is given to us by prophets, it doesn't matter if it is true historically.

If we start discounting the historicity of the Book of Mormon, where do we stop when it comes to its truthfulness? If we start considering that the history doesn't matter (which indeed it might not) then we start down a slippery slope where we might not know what to believe, until at last we believe in nothing. I have a firm belief that when all is said and done, we will be suprised at the accuracy contained in the scriptures, in spite of what conventional wisdom teaches about the absolute absurdity of certain ideas.

Bishop Rick said...

Tata,

One thing that sticks out in my mind regarding Native Americans having a degree of Lamanite DNA, is that this scenario does not work with the Limited Geography model. If the Lamanites lived in Mezo-America for 1000 years, then it does not make sense to think that their DNA could have migrated to North America. This would lead me to believe that the Indians of North America are not descended from Laman at all. The only possibilities would be natives in central America. If this is indeed the case, then the D&C is incorrect in several accounts, which is disturbing because the D&C is supposed to be direct revelation from the Lord.

How does the church reconcile this?

tatabug said...

BR,

I really don't know how the Church reconciles it. But the Church itself has taken no doctrinal stance on the geography of the Book of Mormon.

However, I reconcile it by saying there are a great many possibilities, but we don't have all the answers and that's okay. I think migration is an entirely possible scenario. From what I understand, the Jaredites lived north of the Nephites and Lamanites. North of Mesoamerica could be just a little north or it could reach up into North America itself. It is quite possible, and has even been suggested, that the Jaredites great last battle was fought in North America. In addition, it is almost without doubt that some of the Jaredites broke off from the main body of the Jaredites before they were destroyed and migrated south and likely mingled with the Nephites and Lamanites. I think it is entirely within the realm of possibility to believe that those peoples migrated to many parts of the Americas, both North and South. Perhaps not in large numbers, but it wouldn't take many, and it could've happened at any time.

I think we must also realize that we can't know from whom every group of Native Americans descended, be they from South, Central, or North America. It is quite possible that while some may technically be Lamanite descendants, others truly may not be. But I think we can safely say that most probably are in some way or another. I don't think it is imperative that we know the exact lineage of every person before we can feel secure in saying that they are of Lamanite descent. Regardless of our descent, we as members of the Lord's Church are of the House of Israel, primarily Ephraim or Manasseh, whether through direct descent or spiritual adoption.

I'm not sure what the reason for your being disturbed. Mesoamerica IS basically Central America. It may not include all of Mexico, but then the Book of Mormon doesn't deal with the people outside a supposedly limited geographic scale. In other words, the authors really only write about the things going on around them that affected them and their people. The limited geography model doesn't exclude the possibility that there were groups which lived on the outskirts or who migrated a great distance away. The large plates of Nephi contained a more detailed history than what is currently contained in the Book of Mormon. The smaller plates dealt more specifically with the things of a religious nature, because the Book of Mormon was not intended as a history book, but as a witness of Christ. It would be wonderful to have access to the large plates to learn the more specific details of history, but we don't, and so we just have to go on the limited information which has been given to us.

Elder Joseph said...

Tata

How can you be bothered with an obvious fraud.You use a book written by a man with his head in a hat reading off a stone to determine who The American Indians are and where they originated ?

I'm embarrassed for the church. When you look at all the demands for Women, Demands for Money ,Demands for loyalty and demands to build him a house from Joseph Smith upon his followers, its pretty clear what he was ....

And here you are defending the most ridiculous version of the origin of American Indians and somehow they are linked to this Book Of Mormon ...through some fictional characters all out of a pep stone gazer's hat ?

All this talk of Hemispheric models , Limited Geograpy theory is just a waste of terminology . The game is up !

Its time for the church to disband and give everyone a full refund and compensation for broken families , depression , and fraud .
:)

Bishop Rick said...

EJ,

Ok, stop fooling around. What do you really think?

:)

Bishop Rick said...

Tata,

There is no precedence for such a migration. This type of migration ceased with the onset of civilization. This is why it was easy for groups to live in this region relatively isolated with little or no knowledge of other cultures.

tatabug said...

EJ,

Why do you have to be so rude? I realize the contempt you have for the Church, but please be more respectful when you address me. It would also be nice if you would address the topic at hand rather than just throw out numerous random accusations which seldom warrant response.

BR,

I will kindly disagree that there is no precedence for such migration, and will just leave it at that, as the information available with regard to migration is vast but is difficult for me to comprehend and discuss with any semblance of intelligence. Suffice it to say, there is much archaeological, plant, disease, cultural, and animal transfer (in many directions) before Columbus that has been noted, but not explained as to the hows or whys, because in the scientific community, it is very hard to overcome conventional wisdom.

tatabug said...

I should add, conventional wisdom being that such things didn't happen before Columbus.

Bishop Rick said...

Tata,

The BofM has examples of limited migration and isolationism. One example that comes to mind is the Jaredites living in isolation separate from the Mulekites even though they were not that far apart geographically.

Also, if you subscribe to the Limited Geography Mode (LGM) you would have to also assume limited migration within a small geographic location. In the 1000 year timeline of the BofM, (according to LGM) all migrations would have taken place in MezoAmerica.

With those 2 examples, why should we just automatically suppose that full-scale intercontinental migrations occurred in the 1000 years following the desolation of the Nephites, when it didn't happen the previous 2400 years?

Elder Joseph said...

Tata

My apologies to you.I appreciate that some of the items you are trying to find answers for could be 'trying' your faith at the same time.

I have quit church 3 weeks ago after attending and participating faithfully for two years .The effect and pain is huge for both sides .I've tried to reassure members that its got nothing to do with any of them as individuals and that I admire them all for what they are trying to achieve .

But at the same time they seem to have difficulty understanding that I've gone forever .I feel like I have had a Ton in weight of Steel pressing on my chest for the last three weeks telling me its over .I never had such a strong feeling like this .Its my confirmation.

I still did a tea appointment and my lessons ? lol etc for the Missionaries, but they think they can pray and fast and change my mind somehow. How extraordinary I thought.

I'll leave it to just reading yours and Bishop Ricks posts as they are very interesting and beyond my league .

I can only imagine what B R went through in his decision that the church isn't what he was led to believe and what you might face in the future yourself.

tatabug said...

BR,

Alma 63:4-10
4 And it came to pass that in the thirty and seventh year of the reign of the judges, there was a large company of men, even to the amount of five thousand and four hundred men, with their wives and their children, departed out of the land of Zarahemla into the land which was northward.
5 And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward.
6 And behold, there were many of the Nephites who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children; and they took their course northward. And thus ended the thirty and seventh year.
7 And in the thirty and eighth year, this man built other ships. And the first ship did also return, and many more people did enter into it; and they also took much provisions, and set out again to the land northward.
8 And it came to pass that they were never heard of more. And we suppose that they were drowned in the depths of the sea. And it came to pass that one other ship also did sail forth; and whither she did go we know not.
9 And it came to pass that in this year there were many people who went forth into the land northward. And thus ended the thirty and eighth year.
10 And it came to pass in the thirty and ninth year of the reign of the judges, Shiblon died also, and Corianton had gone forth to the land northward in a ship, to carry forth provisions unto the people who had gone forth into that land.


Helaman 3:3-12
3 And it came to pass in the forty and sixth, yea, there was much contention and many dissensions; in the which there were an exceedingly great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land.
4 And they did travel to an exceedingly great distance, insomuch that they came to large bodies of water and many rivers.
5 Yea, and even they did spread forth into all parts of the land, into whatever parts it had not been rendered desolate and without timber, because of the many inhabitants who had before inherited the land.
6 And now no part of the land was desolate, save it were for timber; but because of the greatness of the destruction of the people who had before inhabited the land it was called desolate.
7 And there being but little timber upon the face of the land, nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly aexpert in the working of cement; therefore they did build houses of cement, in the which they did dwell.
8 And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.
9 And the people who were in the land northward did dwell in tents, and in houses of cement, and they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings.
10 And it came to pass as timber was exceedingly scarce in the land northward, they did send forth much by the way of shipping.
11 And thus they did enable the people in the land northward that they might build many cities, both of wood and of cement.
12 And it came to pass that there were many of the people of Ammon, who were Lamanites by birth, did also go forth into this land.


These scriptures do not give any indication that migrations among the Nephites and Lamanites took place on a small scale. They provide several instances of migrations, which sound rather large, and were generally northward, though it is possible that some were southward also because the scripture says that they began to cover the whole earth from the sea north to south and east to west making it sound as though the entire continent of North and South America became populated.

Also, the LGM does not preclude large-scale migrations. The only thing the LGM means is that the recorded history of the Book of Mormon was primarily limited to a small geographic region. Once migrations took place, there is very little information about them. Perhaps Nephi's large plates gave more history relative to those who migrated, because it is apparent that there was contact between those who left and those who remained, as evidenced by the references to parties which would sail northward with timber and supplies. However, we can't forget that the LGM is not a doctrine; it is only a theory.

Given these migrations, it is probably safe to assume that there were others. They needn't occur frequently to have an impact, but anytime 5,000+ men and their wives and children migrate, you can expect that to have a much greater impact than say a group of 20 or so.

Conventional wisdom may say that such migrations didn't occur there during those periods, but conventional wisdom has been proven wrong before. We shouldn't be so narrow-minded to assume that just because we haven't discovered any clear evidence from history that certain events took place to mean that they didn't. We should be open to the many possibilities and not just be blinded by conventional wisdom.

EJ,

I appreciate the apology.

There actually aren't any answers that I'm searching for which have been 'trying' my faith. My questions have primarily centered in trying to answer the issues that have been brought up by you and others. I have great faith that the Church is true. Doubts have crept in on occasion, but none that have seriously caused me to question my faith. I just hate the animosity laced comments that you make. It just makes it very hard for me to want to have a civil conversation with you.

I'm sorry things didn't work out for you in the Church. Perhaps the pain in your chest over your departure is knowing that you've made the wrong decision rather than a confirmation (kidding, LOL). Anyway, enjoy your 'tea' and email me occasionally to let me know how you are doing.

Bishop Rick said...

tata,

I will have to read the entire chapter and few before and after to get a good perspective on what is happening there before responding.

Elder Joseph said...

tata

I just couldn't attend anymore , I tried so hard but each time Joseph Smith or Brigham Young was mentioned I could feel anger inside .It was simply impossible to continue.

It's because of Joseph Smith's behaviour and 'marriage' practices , taking other mens wives , asking for mens wives ,marrying young teens , house maids etc .. Doing it behind his wife's back on many occasions and then threatening her in D&C as well.
And Brigham Young too and just about all of them who called themselves men of God that time.

It's actually a great weight off my mind that I won't ever have to justify it all.If I was sharing this as a restoration of the early first Century church and my investigators brought up Joseph Smiths behaviour then I would struggle with it .

Then to believe that Heavenly Father made him do it is too much on my conscience.
Its too risky for me as I comprehend my own mortality.

I wouldn't want to befriend anyone like this in real life let alone contribute my time and money to his church.But the church members have been a good influence.

We had a ward 40 day fast for baptisms. The missionaries asked me to pray with them for six baptisms for Dec 4th .

I actually prayed that they would fail and fail big time( no disrespect to them ) but seeing and experiencing the whole structure and tactics used on the mission confirmed to me that it was just a farce .

Well they only got one Baptism,a 59 year old lonely lady ( only 4 weeks after the first door knock )the missionaries themselves said 'she's crazy'.

I could say that my prayers were answered , but I once prayed that no Investigators would turn up one given Sunday and one turned up !( excluding myself )lol

Now I can see this new convert being befriended in the ward ready for the next stage in processing her mind and purse !

Maybe she is a real convert , but I doubt very much she actually knows what she's joined .she's Black Skinned too .They will have to hope she doesn't hear about the 150 years of Less Valiant teaching.

tatabug said...

EJ,

It's so strange how two people can have such polar opposite opinions about the same things. It just reconfirms to me the prophecy that Joseph made which said that his name would be spoken of for good and evil among all people.

Elder Joseph said...

tata

Joseph Smith said alot of things ,including men who live on the moon and dress like Quakers . alot of which has been dismissed by his own followers.

That statement of being known for good and eveil is not prophecy, it's more like hedging your bets.

It's like saying some shares go up and some shares go down , hardly a prophecy.

It's only prophecy to you because you need to cling on to anything to support belief in him . JW's do exactly the same about their own organisation .They will quote something and casually avoid the other 99% of statements which are totally ridiculous.

Our Bishop had a revelation in Fast and testimony meeting .He revelated that we are heading for an economic recession.( He had read it in the Sunday paper before church ) lol

It reminds of a famous war prophecy of joseph Smiths which similalry was in the newspapers.

I found out what revelation is Mormon Style and its a bit of aof a farce unfortunately .

Wht didn't Gordon Hinckley warn the Bangladeshi people to repent because a huricane was headed their way ? instead he was cracking jokes in conference just weeks before .

You know I like you as a person really:)In real life I would carry your shopping and whatever else was needed.Of course I'd help Gordon Hinckley across the road too.Its the institution of Mormonism I'm challenging.

Bishop Rick said...

tata,

How often do you get an offer to have your shopping carried? That must be worth something?

Still haven't read the Alma chapter yet, but I promise I will.

tatabug said...

Of course it's worth something Bishop Rick. I just love that Elder Joseph would carry my shopping. He's a very nice guy, and likeable most of the time :)

Bishop Rick said...

tata,

I finally read the last few chapters of Alma to give me an idea of what was going on at the time.

First, I find a few things odd about the migrations talked about in Alma 63:

1. The Nephites just defeated the Lamanites in a war the previous year. So after defending your land in battle, you just up and leave after peace is restored, heading into the wilderness where you will be outside the protection of the army.

2. That 5,000 men and their families would spontaneously decide to uproot and venture into the unknown. That number is just huge. How do you even talk to 5,000 people and convince them to migrate? Doesn't seem feasible.

Now assuming that the Jaredites lived to the North (which is a good assumption with the info at hand) they would have been the people referred to that had inhabited the land before the migrations, and since the Jaredites would have lived in North America (assuming the hill cumorah of the last battle was in NY) then it stands to reason that the migrations northward led them to North America. That is just a long migration for really no reason other than curiosity and looking for land to inherit.

You say that we shouldn't be closed minded to the possibility of either large migrations for LGM, and shouldn't be blinded by conventional wisdom.

To that I say that with the lack of physical evidence, all you have to fall back on is conventional wisdom based on past experience.

tatabug said...

BR,

Thanks for taking the time to read and think through it, and keep your promise as well.

Perhaps those Nephites had just had all they could take of the Lamanites and their endless warfare. Maybe they thought they could get far enough away that they wouldn't have to worry about the Lamanites bothering them again. That seems very reasonable to me.

As far as the large number of people, it doesn't seem like it would be too terribly difficult to arrange such a move. If you decide one day that you are going to move, but you decide you are going to do it next week, well, yes, that might be very difficult to arrange and let 5,000 people know. But I doubt that they made such decisions without lengthy planning. Such a plan may have been in the works for years. You have to remember that it isn't the same as us moving from one state to another, where when we get to our destination, we can just go to the store and get what we need to stock our shelves and our refrigerators. They had to plan for all sorts of provisions. They would need seeds and probably their domesticated animals, tools, tents perhaps. Who knows what all. So if we consider that they planned a significant time in advance, you might consider that a few of them get together and make a plan, then each of them tells all of their families and friends, and those families and friends tell their families and friends, and you know how fast word can spread, then it wouldn't be too conceivably difficult to imagine those numbers multiply more rapidly than at first thought. I think we sometimes underestimate people from earlier times, thinking that they aren't as capable or as intelligent as we, or that at most they are no more capable or intelligent, but people from the past have shown that they can be quite capable and quite often, ingenious. We shouldn't think that because something is difficult, that it wouldn't be undertaken. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Also, if you consider Hagoth, who built a ship, which more than likely took a good year or so to build. No doubt people would take notice and say, "Hey, what's that ship for?" Then before you know it, everyone knows what's going on, and many may decide they would like to join in.

Another reason for migrating, which IS stated in the account, also deals with Hagoth. It simply says he was a curious man. Curiosity alone can drive men and women into all sorts of adventures and discoveries. It didn't state that Hagoth was unhappy or unsuccessful where he was living. He was just merely curious to know what else there was to find in this great big world.

And I can only agree with you that there is a lack of physical evidence. For someone who lacks a belief in the Book of Mormon, you may choose to fall back to conventional wisdom, and that is a very safe position for you.

Bishop Rick said...

tata,

I am perfectly willing to accept that the scenarios you mention were possible. I thought of them as well. The biggest problem that just can't get past is that scriptures in general are filled with fantastic stories that defy conventional wisdom as the norm. These fantastic things simply don't happen outside the stories in the scriptures (unless of course you are Joseph Smith). That is a huge red flag for me. I can't reconcile the inconsistency. Possible? Yes to an extent. Probable? No. Any precedence outside the scriptures? No. (I'm speaking in generalities here of course). There are just way too many things that have to be explained away with plausibility vs. probability for me. More than faith should be required to reconcile.

tatabug said...

BR,

Fair enough, but to what extent do you think our faith should reach? Or in what things should we have faith?

Bishop Rick said...

tata,

There are a few obvious things that have to require faith by default, such as the pre-existence and the afterlife, and I'm ok with that. Where I have trouble is when a fantastic story takes place for no reason.

Here is an example:

Joseph Smith is headed to his house to get some wine for the sacrament and is met on the road by an angel that tells him that water (or any appropriate liquid) can be a substitute for wine.

Why couldn't Joseph simply have been inspired? Why all the grandiose unprompted angel visitation? This type of thing was the norm with Joseph, but was not prior to him and has not been since. This is a red flag to me.

There are many accounts were fantastic things took place where ordinary would have done fine, and of course the more fantastic stories had no witnesses.

This is a kind of simplistic attempt to answer your question, but in fairness, to answer it properly would best be done over lunch rather than a blog post.

tatabug said...

It seems to me that it takes no faith to believe in the afterlife. Who wants to believe that this life is all there is to our existence; that once we die in mortality, we cease to exist? I realize that there are individuals who believe that there is no life after death, but that belief seems more difficult to fathom than does the opposite belief. But maybe that's just me.

However, the belief in a pre-existence and an afterlife almost requires one to consider the purpose of this life. To consider that there is a purpose to this life and what that might be is where one needs faith. The very fact that you mention pre-existence in the context of faith is curious to me, as it seems that there are very few religions which subscribe to idea that we lived in the pre-existence.

It also seems to me that the Bible creates a great precedent for miraculous events. Anyway, the visitation was more significant than just the matter of whether or not wine was used for the sacrament. There was more than just that particular information which was given to Joseph. I just don't see what is so extraordinary about such an outpouring of heavenly manifestations during this period as it was the period which layed the foundation of Christ's Church on the earth. It's first establishment in New Testament times was no less devoid of miracles. I think the very fact that there was so much divine interest in the establishment of the Church shows just how important it was that it be established properly. But of course, I can certainly expect that you and others doubt for the fear that it was a mere ploy to fool others into converting. Faith has no place among such fears.

Bishop Rick said...

tata,

The afterlife is probably the thing that I struggle most with. I certainly have no reason to believe in an afterlife, but like you, I find it hard to accept that there is none. I think anytime an unknown is involved, it takes faith to believe in it.

Regarding the preexistence, remember I am LDS and have been taught the "plan of salvation". This is another curious topic. I think that if there is a preexistence, then certainly there is an afterlife, so in this case, I can see where no faith would be needed for the afterlife. The preexistence doctrine has a lot of holes in it, so I have not been able to reconcile it. Regrettably this makes the afterlife suspect for me as well.

You are right the Bible is full of miraculous tales, and though I didn't mention that specifically in my comment, I was thinking of that as well. (see note about needing to discuss over lunch vs. thru blog).

Please fill me in on all the details surrounding the angelic visitation that includes not needing wine, etc. I am not aware of the other details involved and would like to know what they are.

tatabug said...

BR,

Are you trying to ask me out to lunch, because this is the second time you've mentioned it? Ha Ha. Sorry, I just don't think my husband would like that very much =)

I know what you mean. It's a deep conversation. But it just bugs the crap out of me when you or Zelph start talking about faith. I just don't think either of you really know what faith is, and I'm sure you think the same thing about me.

Also, I realize that you are LDS, but it seems like when you apostatize that you would throw stuff like that out the window with everything else.

Anyway, D&C 27 contains all of the information which was revealed during Joseph's encounter with the heavenly messenger. This section is basically talking about a sacrament meeting which will take place just before Jesus descends openly and publicly at his second coming. This sacrament meeting, of course, is the one which will take place at Adam-ondi-Ahman, and the scriptures outline those who will be in attendance. There is also reference to the Armor of God at the end of the section. Joseph's History of the Church really doesn't give any other details which pertain to this particular visitation other than what is contained in the section 27 heading.

tatabug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bishop Rick said...

tata,

If you and I ever go to lunch, you can bring your husband, and I will bring my wife...and EJ can come to carry the shopping.

You shouldn't let my interpretation of faith bug the crap out of you. It is just the interpretation that makes the most sense to me. I am interested in what your interpretation of faith is.

I don't throw anything out the window. All I can do is take all that I have learned and glean from that what makes sense and throw out the rest.

I am not an anti-Mormon. I am just someone searching for the truth. I just don't think the Mormon church has that truth. I don't have an anti-mormon website. I don't picket General Conference (I actually watch or attend). I just don't believe everything I have been told. That goes for a lot of mainstream Christian stuff as well. I don't discriminate with my unbelief.

Thanks for the info on D&C 27. I couldn't remember where I heard of the sacrament wine story...must be getting old.

Elder Joseph said...

tata you said

"Are you trying to ask me out to lunch, because this is the second time you've mentioned it? Ha Ha. Sorry, I just don't think my husband would like that very much =)"

Goodness how would have survived in Joseph Smith's time when he would marry other mens wives , sometimes whilst they were away on missions ! How would your husband cope with that ! :))

Or what about the threat of having your wife reassigned to another ( more worthy priesthood holder) if you disobeyed Brighams orders ?

B R
" If you and I ever go to lunch, you can bring your husband, and I will bring my wife...and EJ can come to carry the shopping."

Yes if I am compelled to carry the Shopping a mile , I will carry it twain ... lol

tatabug said...

EJ,

The topic was lunch--not marriage. Stick with it man! But thank you for the offer, once again, to carry my shopping for no less than 2 miles. How about 3 or 4? Do you like me that much? =)

BR,

That sounds like a fun and very interesting lunch. Although, I feel sorry for EJ having to do all the work.

The problem I have with your interpretation of faith, if I understand correctly, is that it relies so heavily upon human knowledge and understanding, or conventional wisdom. It seems that you only exercise faith when conventional wisdom has no answers or when the answers don't suit you. It's like you would rather put your faith in the arm of flesh rather than in God. But that isn't real faith. The faith that you exercise is one of necessity. We all have faith that the sun will rise, because it does everyday.

But that kind of faith is insufficient. True faith must be centered on Jesus Christ. Real faith is believing that He is real and is our Savior regardless of what the world thinks. Real faith is believing that miracles can and have happened, even though they can't be explained scientifically, or in spite of the fact that we haven't witnessed them ourselves. There is real power in faith when it is properly focused.

There is a great deal of knowledge available in this world. It is compelling. Some of it is true, and some of it isn't. Even the things that aren't true are very compelling. That is why we can't afford to risk making decisions relating to our salvation without divine guidance. We've had discussions regarding the Spirit before, and so I know that you think it all boils down to wishful thinking. There isn't much left to say on that topic except that I know you are wrong. Yes, people can be deceived into thinking that they've felt the Spirit when they really haven't, but that doesn't mean that the Spirit isn't real. It is really the only way to find truth, because when men rely on their own intellect, they are guided on so many differing paths.

I know I'm just wasting my "breath," but it just concerns me. I don't know any of you guys, but I do care about you all, and only wish the best things for you. I feel like you all have the truth in front of you, and you once even believed it yourselves, but....(sigh)

Anyway, I'll be going out of town tomorrow, so I won't get a chance to respond for a couple of weeks. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Bishop Rick said...

tata,

You are pretty close to understanding my take on faith but not 100%. I think alot of people (not necessarily you) confuse faith, hope and knowledge. Let me describe how I would define each:

Hope:
I hope that I will wake up tomorrow.

Faith:
I have faith that I will have a job tomorrow.

Knowledge:
I know the Sun is going to come up tomorrow.

In other words, hope is a reflection of what I want to be or to happen. Faith is a belief that something is or will happen regardless of whether I want it or not. Knowledge is something that I know is or will be.

Kind of a progression.

I hope.
I have faith.
I know.

3 distinct expressions.

Elder Joseph said...

tata

"Although, I feel sorry for EJ having to do all the work."

When I am in the service of my fellow being , I am only in the service of my God .....Just keep the shopping light ! lol

I really wish I could 'see/feel' what you do about Mormonism but I can't . I can only see the reality of it all ..

BR has been there and come out of it , so I'm certain that you may too one day..... and www.exmormon.org is full of ex TBM's , its amazing .

Anonymous said...

I like this title. Good question.

Most people read the record critically regarding some ancillary part, not the part it was intended.

It is not about animal husbandry, archaeology, money, boats, ships, logging, etc. It is about Jesus Christ.

How many people have read it critically from that view point?

Most people can't discern truth in the first place, let alone the Holy Spirit, both of which are required to accept the value of the book.