Names and e-mail addresses have been witheld to protect the guilty. If you recognise your letter here, and wish to have your name and address displayed, feel free to contact me.
"it presupposes that one believes in such a thing as Divine inspiration, which is by no means an established fact."
You do not believe that the Great Father of All can speak to His children? If you cannot believe this, then you cannot possibly believe in the Old Testament, when numerous times, God speaks to people, such as Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Issac, Jacob (Isreal), Moses, Isaiha, etc.
Also, the many inspirational words of the New Testament. Perhaps, Christ quoted the epistle's so much because they were his own words?
Also, if one denies Divine Inspiration, then the book of Revelation (Apocalypse) is also false, because it, too, "presupposes that one believes in such a thing as Divine inspiration...", because it is the Lord speaking to the Apostle John. If one cannot believe in the holy scriptures, then what good is faith at all?
Fortunately, however, God does speak to those who earnestly and sincerely seek him and are prepared and willing to do his will. This is how we have the Bible, the acknowledged word of the Lord.
Have another look at my quote. I said that the theory of Divine Inspiration "...is not an established fact...". This means that it has not been proven. What you have given me above is your opinion, nothing more. While I understand that your opinion may be important to you, it is entirely subjective, and unfortunately counts for nothing in the debate.
None of the so-called Holy Books of the world, be it the Bible, the Koran, or the Book of Mormon display Divine Inspiration. Instead, in each we find contradictions, confusions and all the hallmarks of human authorship. If you want to claim divine inspiration for a particular book, then you need to present evidence for your case. Simply stating your opinion does not count as evidence.
I do not wish to argue or fight, merely to suggest that you try to not find God through human intellect, which is insignificant to that of the Almighty, but rather search for him in spirit. By this I mean through prayer, which is not a series of vain repetitions to dead "saints", but a sincere conversation with the Father in Heaven. Remember, please, that in order to inherit the kingdom, we must be as children. Children know not the scriptures, nor do they try to destroy others; they merely have faith, pray, and trust. This is something Jesus expressively taught in the New Testament.
Anyway, I do not wish to fight nor argue, only to ask you to seek God not with your mind, but with your heart, and try to believe that He loves his children, which are us.
Why are there 7 vials, 7 trumpets, 7 angels, etc. and what are there meanings and how are they all connected to each others?
I have no idea, and neither does anyone else, despite what they may tell you. The only person who does know is the author of Revelations, and he is long dead.
A close examination of the book, in it's historical setting, reveals that the author thought that all the things written therein would be fulfilled by about 96 AD. He was wrong, and countless Christian commentators followed him down the path of confusion.
Why did the author think that end of the world was so near? Because Jesus said so...
Matthew 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Jesus was wrong, too.
Arent Mormons really called "The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints?"
Correct, although this title is actually only used by the largest sect of Mormonism. In the town where I used to live, Independence Missouri, there are two goodly size offshoots of Mormonism called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, and the other simply called The Church of Christ - Strangite.
By a curious twist of history, the plot of ground that Joseph Smith pointed out as the site where Jesus Christ would return to earth is owned by a tiny sect of Mormonism known as the Temple Lot group.
Should I as a Native American read the Book of Mormon?
I doubt it will be very relevant. At the time that Smith wrote the Book of Mormon, there was much popular speculation about the origin of the Native Americans. One popular theory held that they were descended from the Jews, possibly one of the Ten Lost Tribes. Joseph Smith wrote his book centered around this theory.
Unfortunately for the Mormons, scientific enquiry eventually confirmed that the Americas had been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, long before the myth of Abraham had even been invented. This left the Mormon church in a terrible dilemma - they couldn't agree with the scientific evidence, because that would mean that Smith would have been exposed as a fraud, and they couldn't find any evidence to support the claims of the Book of Mormon. And so they have danced around the issue these many years...
So, to answer your question, the Book of Mormon has as much relevance to Native Americans as a bicycle does to a fish, i.e. none at all. The Book of Mormon is interesting in its own right, as an example of early frontier fiction. But no non-Mormon archaeologist or anthropologist would mistake it for a true history of early America.
Are you or were you a Mormon @ one time?
I never was a Mormon. I used to be a fundamentalist Christian, but I am an atheist today.
Received: 2/23/98 (in response to above)
Thanks for your reply Curt,
I have a mormon friend who is aNative American who has been talking to me about these Lamanite people in the book who are the ancestors of the Native American people today. That is why he is so anxious for me to read the Book of Mormon.
Curious. You might want to point that the real history of the Indigenous Americans is far richer and much more interesting than the paltry and demeaning fantasy in the Book of Mormon. The Mormon Church has never been big on race relations, and it probably stems from the fact that they value the confused ramblings of an uneducated farmboy over the real truth.
I have been invited to attend one of his church meetings. Do you have any idea what I can expect @ one of their meetings?
I have no idea, to be honest. From what I have heard, the biggest thing to expect is severe boredom.
I would encourage you to try and present both sides of the issue to your friend. Since the Mormons have this perverted view of American history, they prize "native" converts quite highly, because they seem to feel that it vindicates their scheming "prophet" somehow. I guarantee that they see your friend as a trophy, nothing more. They couldn't care less about him as a person.
You may want to get in touch with a real ex-mormon, who could probably give you much more information than I could. A friend of mine runs a website at http://www.lds-mormon.com. You can also get a lot of information from the Recovery from Mormonism website.
Would you be able to give me an explanation as to how could Noah have had every kind of animal on the Ark? Aren't there over 3 million kinds of animals?
It is a meaningless question. The Flood is a myth, nothing more. There is no geological evidence of a global flood, and many ancient cultures have historical records that reach back in an unbroken line before the time of the alleged flood.
I am rather pleased to see that you responded to my e-mail. I was interested to read your reply.
In reference to brother Nibley's "a-priori commitment" to defending mormonism I would have to agree. I ask does that make his argument any less valid? Many notable scholars of the past could be accused of that same commitment to their various agendas. Ex. Darwin, Sagan, Hawking etc. That accusation becomes even more potent when a scholar embarks to defend religion. I applaud the fortitude displayed by those scholars who, in spite of possible ridicule by their peers stand up for their various theories. It has been the scientific rule-of -thumb for the past 200 yrs. to reject the history of mankind as we have it in the bible (book of mormon etc.). Seeking alternate answers to the origins of man, why we are here, etc. Hence theories seemingly disproving religion have been readily accepted, while unanswered questions are quietly brushed aside.
You are indeed correct that an a-priori commitment does not necessarily connote an invalid argument. Any argument must stand or fall on it's own premise. The bias of the proponent should not affect the validity of the argument.
However, it is equally true that a bias often causes otherwise intelligent people to support or expound arguments that are fatally flawed. An excellent example is Jakeman Wells' "explanation" of the Lehi stone. As a trained archaeologist, Wells should have known that trait-list comparison is regarded as an extremely weak tool by genuine archaeology (I'll get to that later, since a lot of Sorenson's and Nibley's work make use of this particular tool). In fact, Wells was criticized by both Nibley and Sorenson. What is it that would make an otherwise intelligent person see a tableau from his own "bible" on a completely unrelated, pagan relief, if not an a-priori, and, I might add, irrational commitment to a particular faith?
I would also question the statement that Science generally has an anti-religious agenda. While it is true that many scientists have a dogmatic streak that detracts from the notion of an unbiased search for truth, this should not affect the general method of science. Science does not have a specifically anti-religious agenda. Rather, it generally turns out that our ancient cherished notions are not valid. Science has a duty to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Should this lead away from some deeply held belief, science cannot bow to sentimentality.
Recently many remarkable discoveries have shed new light on the origins of the Book of Mormon. Chiasmus, a hebrew poetic style (unknown in the days of Joseph Smith) was recently dscovered to be prevalent throughout the Book of Mormon text. Chiasmus follows an ABCCBA pattern where the first portion of the text is repeated at the last. Complex passages conveying profound doctrines are arranged chiastcally. Chapters, Verses, and entire books in the book of mormon are written in chiasmus. Ex alma ch. 36, Mosiah.
I have done quite a bit of study on the issue of chiasmus, and I'm afraid that the results do not bode well for the Book of Mormon. You state that Chiasmus is a "Hebrew poetic style". It may be true that the Hebrews used it, although the examples that Welch cites from the Old Testament are generally much shorter and more concise than those he claims to find in the BoM. The point, however, is that the kind of Chiasmus that Welch and others find in the BoM seems to turn up in a number of places, usually entirely unconnected with Hebrew at all.
For example, the book that was "translated" by Joseph Smith's erstwhile disciple, James Strang, also contains chiastic forms. The same forms show up in the writings of Shakespeare, and a host of other places. It appears that what we have here is yet another example of the "Bible Code" phenomenon. In other words, one can find chiastic structures in just about any text of sufficient length. I tried this theory out on a book that has nothing whatsoever to do with Hebrews or even poetry, and I was surprised at how easy it is to find chiastic structures without even trying.
In short, I find that the phenomenon of chiasmus has far more to do with our human propensity for seeing patterns where none exist, than it does with Divine inspiration.
Another evidence that the Book of Mormon is indeed an ancient record is wordprint studies. Wordprints can verify authorship of a text by comparing the text in question with other texts written by a known author. Wordprints can also verify multiple authorship by calculating the percentage of words and phrases that are used by a particular person. The most recent studies contain over a 99% accuracy rate, and have been used to verify authorship on a number of prominent literary works. The most recent tests done by John L. Hilton of the Berkely group of computer scientists, were conducted in 1997. The tests have come back in favor of multiple authorship for the Book of Mormon. Incidently, the Book of Mormon authorship styles were tested against the styles of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and Solomon Spaulding and were shown to be distinct and different from any of the supposed 19th century ghost writers.
There are two problems that you should be aware of. First, it is very difficult to apply a wordprint test to the Book of Mormon, for the very simple reason that it is the result of multiple authors. What do I mean by that? Simply that the BoM contains a prodigious amount of material quoted from the King James Version of the Bible. Most wordprint studies have excluded the obvious - the massive quotes from Isaiah and Malachi, but it is not possible to separate out the literally hundreds of quotes from the rest of the Bible.
Secondly, the very same wordprint tests have been used to establish that Isaiah had more than one author, the second beginning at chapter 40. This is a severe problem for the Book of Mormon, since an analysis of the second part of Isaiah reveals that it was written near the end of the Persian Captivity, over a hundred years after the first part, and close to sixty years after Lehi left Jerusalem. Yet the Book of Mormon quotes from both sections of Isaiah with equanimity. The only obvious answer is that Smith did not realize that Isaiah had two parts, and quoted from both sections.
Thus, if you insist that the wordprint test has any integrity, you have created another problem for the Book of Mormon.
The previous paragraphs illustrate just a small portion of the internal evidences which support the Book of Mormon as an ancient record. There also have been many external evidences that have been brought forth to validate Book of Mormon claims.
Upon his arrival in the new world Columbus was astonished when the natives fell down in the attitude of worship to the explorers. He noted that the natives believed that he and his crew were from heaven, sent from god. One native american belief wat that of a beareded white or fair-skinned God. This God appeared to the people and performed many of the acts associated with Christ ant his ministry among the jews in Jerusalem. This fair-skinned deity was known as Quetzalcoatl. Glyphs throughout Mesoamericacan be found that represent Quetzalcoatl. It was the most prominent belief held in that area at that time. Obviously when the spaniards arrived the natives thought that they fit the description of their beloved Quetzalcoatl. Therefore the natives fell down and worshipped them.
More problems: the origin of the Quetzalcoatl myth is currently the subject of much debate. Even if it could be established that it dates from a time consistent with the Book of Mormon story, it still would not prove anything. What we have here is yet another example of trait-list comparison. Quetzelcoatl shares some very superficial similarities with the Jesus myth, but these similarities are nowhere near strong enough to provide a definite link. In addition, some of the religious trapping surrounding the Quetzelcoatl myth are of a decidedly pagan nature.
Recently, many geographical parallels have been discovered. Many Book of Mormon cities have been matched with Mesoamerican counterpart cities. These cities correspond in many striking ways. For a more detailed account of this check out John L. Sorenson's book "An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon".
There are numerous problems with Sorenson's book, not the least of which is that he asks us to believe that the Nephites couldn't tell North from East. Sorenson's work still fails to provide a definite link to the Book of Mormon - all he provides are superficial parallels. If you go through his list, you will find that there is nothing that will apply to the Book of Mormon and nothing else. Indeed, most of Sorenson's traits could apply to just about any ancient society. Once again, the "smoking gun", the item that would provide a definite link to the Book of Mormon is missing.
Curt when making the statement that Hugh Nibley has "a-priori commitment" to mormonism you must also realize that your website displays an a-priori commitment to anti-mormonism. I hope that these few examples can clear up the misconseption that there is no evidence suggesting an ancient origin for the Book of Mormon. I have also of course prayed about the Book of Mormon and have recieved many spirtual witnesses of it's divine origin. I am not trying to be combative, I am sorry if my initial e-mail came off that way. I guess when one attacks something that sits so close to the heart it arouses feeling of anger.
Curt the Book of Mormon has been under intense scrutiny since it's coming forth 150 yrs. ago. It has stood the test of time and it's claims grow stronger with age. Instead of spending so much time trying to rip peoples belief structures down, why not ask your heavenly father if the Book of Mormon be true? I know from firsthand experienc that if you ask with sincerity your prayers will be answered in the affirmative.
I'm afraid that you still have not shown any evidence for the Book of Mormon. Nothing that you have provided definitely establishes the Book as an ancient work. Until you can do so, there is very little point in praying for guidance, since I already know what the answer is.
You must remember that we are presented with a dizzying array of sacred books, each claiming to be the Whole Truth. Each can be "defended" using the very same techniques that you have outlined.
However, when closely examined, they all fail the test of authenticity. They all bear the fingerprints of men, and not of God.
What a connection ... if Joseph was so lame that he had to copy the idea ...where is the Book of Mormon that he copied ... surely you wouldn't expect him to make it up without some help.
Don't consider for a minute that God may have directed him ... no - no ... for satan's sake, lets get as many people to not read the Book of Mormon as we can because that is what Jesus would do????????????????????
Here is a page from the Alpha Ministries - one page study of Mormonism:::
YOUR LIFE AS A MORMON
OK ... granted that I just copied this stuff and it doesn't reflect the information the way I'd like to put it.... but where does it say not to give ten percent to the church in the Bible???? Where in the Bible did Jesus rebuke his followers when they did all the "things" they were supposed to do???
Are you really thinking?? ABOUT WHAT JESUS WANTS FOR YOU???
Doesn't it seem wrong to be trying to back people out of believing in Jesus?
Spend you time trying to bring souls to Christ NOT TAKE THEM AWAY.
This problem of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is based upon the accounts we have in history...the gospels and the other ancient works of antiquity. I do not see how you fairly reviewed the 4 accounts as 4 separate and independent narrative sources by 4 men who had the right to insert whatever they chose to as authors of these records. What problem is there with 4 separate accounts?
Also, you failed to demonstrate, not from honest objectice analysis of all logically available evidences, but conclusions of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ based upon theoretical and phlisophical prejudice in my estimation based upon your interpretatons of the narratives as they are written. As you did wax eloquent in your views of pagan religious beliefs which I might add was quite thorough, you still fell into the trap of not satisfactorally explaining what happened that changed a bunch of cowardly men, hiding behing doors from the temple police, to become the fearsome and fearless proclaimers of the Resurrection? To make matters worse, we find the early martyrs of the original disciples all dying horrible deaths INDEPENDENTLY ALONE in separate areas of the world with the chance to recant their testimonies if they new that this resurrction bit was all a made up lie. This is what is the great PROOF of the Resurrection. If they where insane then ALL of them were who where martyred. We could feel sorry for these misguided souls. However, I challenge you to find ONE disciple who broke under the pressure of "If you do not stop proclaiming this message...we will put you to death" The problem for you is not as easy as you may think.
If the Gospels where the only accounts we has in ancient antiquity as to the events surrounding Jesus and the Resurrection there would be some better reason to doubt their authenticity. However we have Josephus, Pliney the Younger, Thallus, The Talmuds, Cornelius Tacitus, Lucian of Samosota, Suetonius, Phlegon, Justin Martyr, Letter of Mara Bar-Serapion, and Tertullian ( to name a few...) all who testify to either Jesus' life, deeds, disciples and deaths. Since there is no question to the historical acuraccy of what the New Testament claims as to Jesus life on earth beyond a reasonable doubt, let alone the fact that there is more manuscript evidence for the New Testament than any 10 ancient pieces of Classical Literature COMBINED, verified by these other sources I mentioned outside of the New Testament who where contemporaries of Jesus' day, the questions to ask are, "What happened to the body of Jesus?" and " What changed these disciples around?" Remember that you spent more time explaining the events around the pagan beliefs than you ever did in explaining these necessary questions. If one did not read your treatise carefully, one would have assumed that you did an admirable job of refuting a 2000 year old problem that still has not been laid to rest by you or by anybody.
See this message for a refutation of a similar argument.