SCEPTIC.INFO Free your mind - question!
SCEPTIC.INFO Free your mind - question!
Archaeology and Science Against Book of Mormon
The Mormon Church, and its offshoots, claim that their scripture The Book of Mormon is a record of ancient America. This book appeared in 1830 as the result of an alleged miracle from God. There should be archaeological evidence. There is none. But Mormons choose to disagree with all the experts. Some Mormons say that since the book records great cataclysms at the time of the death of Jesus and after that there should be no evidence left. Without the evidence, there is nothing to convince that the book simply is nothing more than a nineteenth century hoax.
EVIDENCES FOR THE BOM EXAMINED
The Jeff Lindsay pages on Mormon apologetics are the best places to go to see the Mormon answers to anti-Mormon complaints about Mormonism and to see the evidence for the Book of Mormon.
The Mormon Church has to get proof for the Book of Mormon that supports it better than any other sacred book is supported by evidence. It has to be able to do better than them in the evidence stakes if it is the word of God.
It is certainly true that the Book of Mormon has worse evidence in its favour than the Bible. “And now as I have said concerning faith – faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21). If faith is to have any hope of being accepting of the truth it has to have evidence for it and good evidence. The evidence for the Book of Mormon being true is poor now but it was worse in the 1800’s when the book appeared. That would mean that if good evidence turns up it is too late for the fact that it was not there from the start would mean that this verse was discredited and the Book of Mormon is anti-evidence for it expects us to take as true what has no evidence for it.
Among the commonest arguments he uses is that the critics moan about there being no evidence for the Book of Mormon characters and cities and places. He says there is some evidence that some of the places mentioned in the book have been found. He brushes off the objection that there is no evidence for the characters on the basis that there is no evidence for the existence of Cain, Noah, Moses and countless other Bible characters either. Many of the places in the Bible have never been found. The good thing about his reasoning is that if the absence of evidence is a basis for rejecting the Book of Mormon it is a ground for rejecting the Bible as well. It is nonetheless certain that if you cannot prove the existence of Jesus or Moses then you cannot prove that they are prophets of God. They could exist and still not be prophets so knowing for sure that they exist would still leave plenty of room for religious faith in them. Depending on possibly legendary prophets is like using water as an antibiotic instead of the tablets.
It is far more important for the Mormons to prove that the journey of the Lehites in First Nephi in 600 BC happened than anything else because it is reported to have happened in a region which gets more detail than anywhere else in the Book of Mormon. We know for a change where the author is talking about. It is the Holy Land and Arabia and the Red Sea. It is correct also to assume that if say where the river Laman and the Valley of Lemuel are assumed by Mormons to be cannot be the right place then the Book of Mormon is untrue. The same goes for the other places.
Mormons think the Lehites departed for America from Arabia.
Lindsay says that Lehi and his companions went south south-east of Jerusalem and near the borders they found Nahom and they buried Ishmael there and then they went east to a paradise place called Bountiful and there they built the ship that was to take them to America. The Mormon scholars think these places have now been located. They make a lot of the fact that anti-Mormons sneered at such a nice place like Bountiful existing where the Book of Mormon said and have been proved wrong. But think of it this way. Smith knew the area through which he said the Lehites travelled was desert. But he needed to have them build a ship so he had to invent the paradise for he had to explain how the Lehites survived and how they got the wood for the ship and how they got strong enough to build it. He knew that paradises come and go a lot in the desert. The Book of Mormon description is vague enough to show that Bountiful could have been in many other regions. It fails to tell us exactly how far the site was away from Jerusalem which shows that Smith was being careful.
The fact that a place just for burials has been found in the area where the Lehites supposedly were before they went to America called Nhm or Nehem can be put down to coincidence for there were many such places. Yet the Mormons say this place is Nahom. The Book of Mormon only says that Ishmael was buried at Nahom and not that Nahom was just a place for burial so the Mormons are stretching things. Smith knew from his Bible that Nahom or Nahum meant mourning and that was why he chose the name for the burial place of Ishmael which he made up for he said there was great mourning there over Ishmael. It stands to reason that the gentile neighbours were not going to call the place Nahom over Ishmael. The Jews at that time believed in ethnic cleansing and did not like Gentiles. Thus the Gentiles would not have liked them either!
The Book of Mormon says that Nahom is to the south southeast of Jerusalem and a place called Nahem has been found there which Lindsay finds very impressive. But the name is just pure luck. The directions are not good enough and why could the Book of Mormon not mention some town or city and how far it was from it if it wanted to give its location? Directions like that could lead one anywhere. Critics have found that the name of the place goes back to 900 AD contradicting the Book of Mormon which would need it to go back to 600 BC. An artefact from around 600 BC has turned up referring to a tribe called Nihm. But the tribe does not prove that the place name existed then or that it existed where the Book of Mormon said.
Jeff Lindsay’s boast that Smith could not have fabricated the Book of Mormon when a site matching Bountiful has been found to the right of Nahom as the Book of Mormon said is childish because the book does not say how far away. There are paradises all over the place. The place is Wadi Sayq but even the Mormon apologists use a lot of maybes when they say this is the place. One reason they say it is Bountiful is because there is plenty of timber there and the Lehites could have learned about shipbuilding there. Lindsay says that it is the place for it was reasonably easy to get to from Nehem ignoring the fact that the Book of Mormon says that the journey between the two places was very long and arduous and there was much affliction and the women had children there meaning that they must have got pregnant on the journey for they would not have travelled on a hazardous route if they had been pregnant in Nehem (1 Nephi 17:1). And one wonders what the Lehites were doing staying in tents at Bountiful if Lindsay is right about it being a shipbuilding place (1 Nephi 17:6). God says he will show them how to build the ship ruling out Lindsay’s claim that they could have learned from the people there and Nephi even wonders where the tools are going to come from and God directs him to find ore. All this refutes what the Mormons are saying. They are using the Book of Mormon to fake the evidence for their religion just like Protestants use the Bible to get one another to hate Catholics. It is simply untrue that since the timber at the site the Mormons say is Bountiful is plentiful that it must be the place mentioned in the Book of Mormon for there was no way the Lehites needed much wood for it would not have been a large ship.
Lindsay then says the site supposed to be Bountiful has a mountain nearby and that there would have been plenty of drinking water available when the Lehites were able to stay there and there were cliffs nearby and ore and flint just like in the Book of Mormon. But when Smith located the spot near the sea for the sake of the ship he naturally said there were cliffs as well for there usually are near the sea. And as for Lindsay and his drinking water, the Book of Mormon does not say there was any but he just assumes it which is untoward because the Book of Mormon has them travelling through the desert and forgets to say what they did for water. The mountain could have been anywhere. The Book of Mormon does not say it was near the site.
Lindsay has the nerve to admit that Nehem was in some European geography books but argues that Smith was too much a farm boy to look up the books and come up with Nahom. So Smith looking up a book would be a greater miracle than supernaturally learning of the place? I don’t think so! Lindsay says the critics say Smith saw it in a book while they hold he was ignorant enough in geography to think that Jerusalem was a land not just a city.
Lindsay alleges that Smith did not know that there were walls around Jerusalem on the basis that Emma Smith said so. But Smith knew that there had to be walls around cities long ago. Emma misunderstood or lied and it is hard to believe that of all the things Smith would have said that she would remember that one. And when he said about the caves he could have meant caves any distance away so he did not have to know how near the caves were to put references to the caves in the Book of Mormon. He would have assumed that there were caves there anyway since he knew from the gospels that Palestine was a hilly and stony country.
Lindsay says a plausible site for the Valley of Lemuel and the River Laman has been found in Arabia. He admits the river is not much more than a stream that flows certain times of year but argues that the Book of Mormon like the Hebrew fashion calls streams rivers. But God would be more accurate than that when he translated the Book of Mormon through Smith. The Book says it took them three days to get there and Lindsay says the 70 mile distance could have been covered by camel in that time though it would not be easy. The implausible thing is that they would not have been in that big of a hurry! The Book of Mormon does not say they were on the run from pursuers? When the river was named Laman it must have been a permanent river for it was meant to be a permanent tribute to Laman. Lehi said he wanted Laman to be like the river and flow continually into the fountain of righteousness so it was a permanent river for a temporary one would be a bad picture of what he wanted Laman to do. It was a big big gushing wide and permanent river. Only a river like that would inspire Lehi’s thought!
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