Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Greg Trimble's 11 Book of Mormon evidences

If you have Mormon friends on social media, chances are you've been presented with links to some pretty interesting Mormon logic. One post I've recently seen from a popular blog makes the case for The Book of Mormon in 11 poorly thought out proofs. The proofs are stated as questions and are the typical examples offered by general authorities of why The Book of Mormon is true which means they're the kinds of things you can say in church meetings to make yourself feel important and everyone else feel comfortable, but predictably they are not very convincing.

Here are the eleven questions that will prove the authenticity of The Book of Mormon and my brief responses.

1. Could an uneducated boy come up with 531 pages of ancient scripture on his own that was historically accurate and prophetic in nature?

Answer: Yes, absolutely. Please open your copy of the book to essentially any page that isn't copied almost verbatim from the King James Bible (that might be harder than it sounds). Now tell me how many verses you have to read before you find one that sounds like an uneducated young man (calling someone in his early 20s a "boy" is condescending and inaccurate) er-ing and um-ing a dictation from his head. Not many. Joseph Smith loaded his book so full of place keepers, redundancies, filler and slip ups that I'm amazed when I make it through a single verse without feeling the need to edit.

Keep in mind that this is how it reads even after the Church's editing of all the more egregious frontier farmer speech.

2. Would it be possible for that boy to understand and include ancient Hebrew literary writing styles such as idioms and Chiasmus, some of which weren’t even discovered until long after Joseph Smith was gone ?

Answer: Easily. He read the Bible a lot. He, like every other human being who reads, would absorb and reproduce the style of what he reads to some degree. As for chiasmus, it's an extremely common organizational tool that certainly appears in Jewish literature but is not in any way limited to it. I made a chiasmus on accident once, others are more carefully thought out. You can find chiasmus in children's literature as easily as you find it in adult literature from all over the world, European literature included. This just came to mind, maybe Jews wrote it:

(A) Hickory dickory dock! 
(B)/(C) The mouse went up the clock.
(C) The clock struck one,
(B) The mouse ran down.
(A) Hickory dickory dock!

And quit insisting Joseph was a "boy" when he wrote The Book of Mormon; he was a married man.

3. How would Joseph Smith have been able to know so much about the Middle East, especially the Arabian Peninsula where Lehi and his family traveled? The book includes findings in that region that no one had discovered yet.

Answer: The "knowledge" about the Middle East found in the Book of Mormon could have been derived from having been shown a map. What do you think has been discovered there after the printing of The Book of Mormon that was included in the text? The "NHM" alter? Come on, give us what you've got. Everything apologists have thrown out there has been debunked.

4. How could Joseph Smith come up with roughly 200 new names in the Book of Mormon and then have them turn out to be Semitic in nature?

Answer: He read the Bible a lot. He reused many of those names, modifying them as he saw fit. It wouldn't be hard to throw in a few more made up names that look similar to what's found in the Bible.

5. If you think Joseph Smith couldn’t have written this book, then where did it come from? If one says the devil put him up to it…then why would Satan want to publish another testament of Jesus Christ and a book that does nothing but promote righteousness. Jesus said that a house divided against itself would fall.

Answer: Only a moron would say the devil wrote or inspired the writing of The Book of Mormon. It's origins are clearly early 19th century publications and popular thought.

6. Who were the “other sheep” that would hear Jesus’s voice in John 10:16?

Answer: The "Gentiles", in other words, the non-Jews.

7. Why are there volumes of books written by non-LDS authors stating that Christ came and visited the America’s a couple thousand years ago just like it says in 3rd Nephi? (See Example “He Walked The America’s”) How would Joseph Smith have known this when at the time no one even considered it?

Answer: No one has a monopoly on stupidity, ethnocentrism and wishful thinking. The one book you linked us to is very revealing about yourself as a thinker.

8. If we have the stick of Judah (record of the Jews or the Bible), then where is the stick of Joseph that is referenced in Ezekiel 37:15-20? The Book of Mormon is the only explanation for this scripture. Lehi was a descendant of Joseph. Think Joseph Smith could have gotten that right by sheer chance?

Answer: This is a misinterpretation of the Bible.

9. How could there be so many witnesses of the Book of Mormon and the plates and not one of them deny their testimony even when some of them became bitter toward Joseph Smith? With so many people involved…a hoax of this magnitude could never go uncovered.

Answer: People do and say all sorts of things for friendship, family and their reputation. Historian Dan Vogel has some presented some important information for you to consider.

10. How could the Book of Mormon never contradict itself while being an extremely complex book? After all these years…someone would have found something…but no.

Answer: The Book of Mormon is relatively straight forward in its narrative. It basically just tells the same story over and over again. The repetition is numbing, not profound. Despite the simplicity of the repeated narrative, contradictions and errors have in fact been found (you just have to be brave enough to read something other than LDS apologetic literature). It also contradicts known archealogy, natural history, and the history of religious and political thought; it contradicts other Mormon scripture; it contradicts current LDS beliefs (e.g. temporary suffering in hell vs. eternal suffering and the nature of the Godhead).

Even though The Book of Mormon isn't horribly riddled with internal contradictions, why does that somehow make it true? Many authors manage to avoid totally screwing up their stories, does that mean their books are true? Absolutely not.

11. How do I feel while I read the Book of Mormon? Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t trust your feelings. We are spiritual beings, and if we can’t trust our feelings, then what do we have? Over and over again in the Old and New Testament we’re told that we can trust that “still small voice” to guide us in our decisions. (1 Kings 19:12) I can write evidence after evidence to back up the Book of Mormon but each of those evidences I found were only secondary to the whispering of the Spirit I felt that day before I began waxing up my surf board.

Answer: Epistemology is a tricky thing. You're insisting that emotions are all we have. That's an unfortunate move on your part because we have a lot more than that: we have other senses to work with and we have logic. But if you're going to insist on feelings let's look at your feelings. Let's say you wake up from a dream about your wife cheating on you and you feel hurt and angry. You can't look at her the same for weeks. Did she really cheat on you? Are your feelings reliable? And what about others' feelings? Why do you seem so willing to disregard anyone's feelings and impressions that don't align with your own? What makes you think yours are the only true ones when members of essentially every other religion will use the same evidence as proof of their religion being true?

P.S. I wrote this blog immediately after reading the questions. The answers were too easy. I then went back to the blog to read the comments and saw that several people had written their responses as well. Several were similar to my own but I definitely encourage others to read through them.

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