Joseph Smith Could Not Have Written the Book of Mormon

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SamBee
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Re: Joseph Smith Could Not Have Written the Book of Mormon

Post by SamBee » 03 Dec 2018, 15:08

Only in the vaguest sense. Many of the detractors seem to think he lifted passages wholesale. This is certainly the case with the Bible - we know parts of Isaiah are quoted.
We can't get around the fact that they existed
So did the works of Thomas Aquinas and Spinoza but that doesn't mean Smith had access to them.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

IT_Veteran
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Re: Joseph Smith Could Not Have Written the Book of Mormon

Post by IT_Veteran » 03 Dec 2018, 16:32

SamBee wrote:
03 Dec 2018, 15:08
Only in the vaguest sense. Many of the detractors seem to think he lifted passages wholesale. This is certainly the case with the Bible - we know parts of Isaiah are quoted.
We can't get around the fact that they existed
So did the works of Thomas Aquinas and Spinoza but that doesn't mean Smith had access to them.
I didn't suggest he had access to them. I (and many others) also haven't claimed he's lifted the passages and copied them down. Copying ideas wouldn't require access to the books.

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SamBee
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Re: Joseph Smith Could Not Have Written the Book of Mormon

Post by SamBee » 03 Dec 2018, 18:25

That's what they're saying though - it's not ideas but actual lines, words, phrases, passages. You do require access for them.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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DarkJedi
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Re: Joseph Smith Could Not Have Written the Book of Mormon

Post by DarkJedi » 04 Dec 2018, 08:38

1)It seems to me the Smiths were very social people. With the "religious excitement" of the day it also appears they regularly interacted with those various religious practitioners. It is therefore likely that Joseph was at least a passive participant in much of what was going on and in those interactions, and again, being there was no television or radio (or baseball), family conversation and story telling were usual pass times. I think it highly likely all of the Smiths, and any other locals who were just as social, were exposed to many different ideas of the day, including those mentioned elsewhere in this thread. They didn't necessarily have to have access to the books themselves, only to others who had at some point had access and had shared ideas and thoughts or shared ideas and thoughts others had shared with them. And we need to keep in mind that some of these practitioners of religion were likely educated as ministers and had likely been exposed to various theological ideas on an academic basis. That some people had the idea that the native Americans were somehow linked to ancient Israel is doubtless, it is not impossible that the Smith's (even just one of them who then shared it) were exposed to such an idea. Many of the early teachings of JS are very close to Methodist theology, and Methodists were a large part of the aforementioned religious excitement. As a native of this area, I can point out that almost all those quaint little white churches in the picturesque small towns of the area are Methodist. Within less than 10 minutes of my own home I could be at no fewer than 4 Methodist churches. And guess what the next most common of those little white churches is? That's right, the majority that aren't Methodist are Presbyterian (my own little town has 3 churches, a Presbyterian church established in the early 1800s, a Methodist church established in the mid 1800s and a baptist church established in the 1960s).

2) Again as a native of the area and putting aside Comoros/Moroni, there are some place names (like Oneida and Lehigh) that are strikingly similar to BoM names.

3) I think it would be hard to argue that a short time after the publication of the BoM when JS was working on the JST that he did not have access to Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible. It's just too similar.

I'm not saying that Joseph Smith made it all up either by himself or with help. I'm not saying he couldn't have either. And it is also possible that he really was inspired and that the BoM is really what it is purported to be.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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On Own Now
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Re: Joseph Smith Could Not Have Written the Book of Mormon

Post by On Own Now » 04 Dec 2018, 09:18

JS was about as educated as the average American Frontier farmer in the early 1800's. Does that make him uneducated? No. Does it make him educated by our standards? No.

The Smiths were not land-owners. They were tenant farmers, barely making it. In fact, if not for the rise of JS as a prophet, I'm sure the entire Smith family would have gone under financially.

It bears mentioning that there was no way to read the written word in those days without having a physical copy of a book in your own hands. This was slightly before the advent of the internet, google, cell phones, search and copy-paste functionality. This was before youtube, podcasts, ted talks... it was before "online". It was before the telephone, the radio, and even the telegraph. There were only four modes of transportation in the area: foot, horse, cart/wagon/sled drawn by an animal, and boat. There were probably no more than three or four families living within a mile radius of the Smiths, and with no phones or cars, we would consider this to be very isolated today.

Additionally, they weren't simply living on the outskirts of "civilization". The first Palmyra newspaper was printed in 1817. The population of Palmyra in 1820 was 3,124 people. The area was "booming" because of the advent of the Erie Canal; 1,500 people moved into the area in the next five years. Yet, this simply meant more construction workers and shipping laborers and businesses to sell goods. It would be an error to think that highly educated philosophers occupied the area. The village was incorporated in 1827.

For my part, I've never been motivated by the number of different proper nouns. Many of the concepts in the BofM reflect religious thoughts and questions of the day. Could the idea of the Native Americans being descendant from Israelites have been the subject of farmer philosophy around the hearth? Sure. But the prose, the story arcs, the foreshadowing elements, the different voices from different characters, the adept interpretation of Isaiah, the theological connections between old and new testament, the Psalm of Nephi, the protagonists who fall, the unlikely who rise, the compassion, the oppression, the lust for power, the faith to persevere... there is something here that is more than just general exposure to ideas.

Look, I don't believe there were plates. I don't believe JS translated by the "Gift and Power of God". I don't know how he did it. But I think it's silly not to acknowledge that producing the BofM at the age of 23 in that environment was amazing. And, BTW, it was the first in a long series of amazing achievements. JS was a once-in-a-generation figure. He had a mind that operated on a different level, but he also didn't know how to stop. He reinvented constantly; making every step grander than the last. For people like us, we tend to focus on his major failures (of which there were also many, and serious), but for some reason, we also tend to minimize and explain away his accomplishments. Believers, on the other hand, minimize and explain away his failures and focus on his accomplishments. As I said earlier, we start with our conclusion in mind and work from there. We all do this. This is why two people can have a conversation about JS, the BofM, the Church, Politics, Society, and each thinks the other is wrong.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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Re: Joseph Smith Could Not Have Written the Book of Mormon

Post by Roy » 04 Dec 2018, 12:11

On Own Now wrote:
04 Dec 2018, 09:18
we start with our conclusion in mind and work from there. We all do this. This is why two people can have a conversation about JS, the BofM, the Church, Politics, Society, and each thinks the other is wrong.
I do not disagree with anything that you have said OON. What I think is bothersome is that believers in our church sometimes buttresses their faith by saying for JS to have written the BoM is impossible and that the only possible explanation is a miracle from God. Church is an environment where people that express certainty in the unverifiable get validation. I understand that. It is their club with their rules. People who believe like they do get validation. One of the reasons I participate at StayLDS is for the validation. Different club, different rules. Like you say - we all do this.
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On Own Now
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Re: Joseph Smith Could Not Have Written the Book of Mormon

Post by On Own Now » 04 Dec 2018, 13:15

Roy wrote:
04 Dec 2018, 12:11
What I think is bothersome is that believers in our church sometimes buttresses their faith by saying for JS to have written the BoM is impossible and that the only possible explanation is a miracle from God. Church is an environment where people that express certainty in the unverifiable get validation. I understand that. It is their club with their rules. People who believe like they do get validation.
I agree that it is bothersome... and that's what started this thread... annoyance at misapplied (from our perspective) logic. One of the avenues I've tried to follow in my post-LDS world-view is to try specifically not to be annoyed or bothered. It is in the recognition that I do the same thing, so it's worthwhile to give allowances for other people to process information from their own unique perspective and arrive at a different conclusion than mine.

I remember once talking to a friend about healing miracles. This was long after my faith crisis and acceptance of Atheism. I told him that when I was a missionary in Latin America, I saw a lot of things that were impossible to explain. He looked at me incredulously... "You can't possibly believe that!" He retorted. The funny thing was that I wasn't trying to say God healed people, but rather point out that sometimes things happen that we can't explain, and I was leaving off the obvious follow-on, which was that believing people will therefore see these things as miracles. I just thought it was funny that he wasn't able to separate miracles from the belief in miracles; to him, because miracles don't exist, it would be impossible for a rational person to have a belief in miracles.

This friend was also a conspiracy theory nut-job (I mean that in the most endearing way). JFK? Killed by the CIA. 9/11? US Gov't. In that vein, let me say that our religious assertions are a lot like conspiracy theories. If you are one who believes, you can't see why others don't interpret the data the same way you do? I mean... come on... the magic bullet, right? If you are an anti-conspiracy person, then everything has an explanation. Two people look at the same thing and see things much differently. I simply learned not to talk to my friend about the JFK assassination and we remained friendly.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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Re: Joseph Smith Could Not Have Written the Book of Mormon

Post by nibbler » 04 Dec 2018, 13:48

I agree with the premise, I'll just throw this out there.
On Own Now wrote:
04 Dec 2018, 13:15
If you are one who believes, you can't see why others don't interpret the data the same way you do? I mean... come on... the magic bullet, right? If you are an anti-conspiracy person, then everything has an explanation. Two people look at the same thing and see things much differently.
It's true, people can receive what appears to be the same input and walk away with very different conclusions. I think one struggle is that sometimes we fall into the trap of assuming that other people aren't working with the right set of data, and that if they would just accept the right data then they would reach the same conclusions as we have reached. Then it becomes an argument over which data is correct. It's essentially the same phenomenon but with the focus moved away from belief/conclusion and onto what is or is not a "valid" data set.

In the context of church... "But Joseph Smith didn't have a peep-stone." If an argument ensues, is it a matter of two people looking at the same thing very differently or is it a matter of the two parties operating with entirely different sets of data? Is it worth working towards people agreeing on the data or should it be left at, "you see it your way, I'll see it mine." I suppose that's all any of us can do when dealing with events that we weren't present for. Heck, even events that we were present for can generate one set of data for person A and another set of data for person B.
On Own Now wrote:
04 Dec 2018, 13:15
I agree that it is bothersome... and that's what started this thread... annoyance at misapplied (from our perspective) logic. One of the avenues I've tried to follow in my post-LDS world-view is to try specifically not to be annoyed or bothered. It is in the recognition that I do the same thing, so it's worthwhile to give allowances for other people to process information from their own unique perspective and arrive at a different conclusion than mine.
I think the frustration that some experience is in knowing that they will not receive the same allowances that they are constantly making for others. But I suppose that's a big part of it, learning to accept that, making allowances for that as well.
If one dream dies, dream another dream. If you get knocked down, get back up and go again.
― Joel Osteen

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Re: Joseph Smith Could Not Have Written the Book of Mormon

Post by dande48 » 04 Dec 2018, 16:50

nibbler wrote:
04 Dec 2018, 13:48
It's true, people can receive what appears to be the same input and walk away with very different conclusions. I think one struggle is that sometimes we fall into the trap of assuming that other people aren't working with the right set of data, and that if they would just accept the right data then they would reach the same conclusions as we have reached. Then it becomes an argument over which data is correct. It's essentially the same phenomenon but with the focus moved away from belief/conclusion and onto what is or is not a "valid" data set.
I think the root of this is, people automatically interpret evidence to support what they already believe. They rarely ever change what they believe to support the evidence.
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DarkJedi
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Re: Joseph Smith Could Not Have Written the Book of Mormon

Post by DarkJedi » 04 Dec 2018, 18:36

dande48 wrote:
04 Dec 2018, 16:50
nibbler wrote:
04 Dec 2018, 13:48
It's true, people can receive what appears to be the same input and walk away with very different conclusions. I think one struggle is that sometimes we fall into the trap of assuming that other people aren't working with the right set of data, and that if they would just accept the right data then they would reach the same conclusions as we have reached. Then it becomes an argument over which data is correct. It's essentially the same phenomenon but with the focus moved away from belief/conclusion and onto what is or is not a "valid" data set.
I think the root of this is, people automatically interpret evidence to support what they already believe. They rarely ever change what they believe to support the evidence.
I agree with this, but I think it's important to point out in relation to this that for may of us here our beliefs have changed on the subject. Pre-faith crisis/transition I full believed the whole thing about the BoM, it's origins and what it was. I did not doubt the Lamanites were Native Americans. My belief is much, much different now and that is in large party based on evidence.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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