Please post your questions here for my “Dr. Michael Coe – Where is he now?” Interview

John Dehlin News 23 Comments

Dr. Michael Coe

Esteemed Listeners – In 1.5 weeks I will re-interview Dr. Michael Coe (live…from his home in New Haven, Connecticut…with video even!) – as part of a new Mormon Stories Podcast series where I interview top interviewees from the past.  For those who haven’t yet listened to my interview with Dr. Coe, it ranks in the top 3 podcasts of all time for Mormon Stories Podcast.

A few topics I hope to cover with Dr. Coe:

Dr. Coe is 89, so please adjust your expectations accordingly, but please post any questions you have for him below.

Thanks in advance!!!  I’m super excited for this interview.

John

Comments 23

  1. What are his thoughts on the recent discoveries in Mexico that TBMs are using to defend ideas in the BOM?

    Plus, please convey to Dr. Coe the message that his Mormon Stories interview from years ago was pivotal in easing and really erasing my nagging fear, “what if it is all true.”

    1. I’ll tag along with Ann’s comment. I’m still married thanks in part to Dr. Coe’s statement in your earlier podcast that there is a 99.9998 percent chance that the Book of Mormon is not an accurate depiction of New World history. That pinged for my wife and she no longer believed I had “gone off the deep end.” Just celebrated 20 years in January. Thanks, Dr. Coe.

  2. Does he know how much progress has happened on the ground of the new city discovery?
    And any new info about those people.

    Does he know of large battle sites that have been found in the americas ? And how much human remains would be expected at a site 2000 years old?
    Does he feel current dating processes to be accurate.?

  3. Please ask this John. This comes from myself, someone with an MA in Maya Archaeology.

    “It has been asserted by LDS archaeologists, such as John Clark, that the timeline for civilizations in Mesoamerica matches up with those mentioned in the Book of Mormon. What is your take on that? Is it not generally understood that there was incipient Olmec occupation around San Lorenzo, but that San Lorenzo appears almost out of nowhere around 1400 B.C.? If there is nothing in the area prior to 1400 B.C. that can be recognized as a civilization, or complex society, then there are hundreds of years unaccounted for in the ‘supposed’ Jaredite culture?”

    I would also like to ask him how he views that Book of Mormon as far as the actors/agents involved. Archaeology has increasingly been focused on the role of agents/agency theory in societal change. Although we have no way of knowing what individuals were thinking so long ago, does it not seem to him ridiculous that the Book of Mormon has individuals acting in very European ways? It is as if the Book of Mormon insinuates that the Native Americans had no separate cultural logic and individuality is portrayed as Europeans view it.

  4. 1. Is there any evidence of any large animals (tapir, llama, buffalo, etc) being domesticated in pre-Colombian America? For example, has there been any discoveries of grazing fields, yolks, riding devices or artwork depicting such that would indicate that large beasts of burden were domesticated in pre-Colombian America?
    2. Is there any evidence of old world plants being introduced to the new world during the Book of Mormon time-frame? If there were and they grew “exceedingly” as it says in the Book of Mormon, would it be difficult to detect with modern science?
    3. Is there any possible way that a pre-Colombian civilization produced steel but was somehow missed by modern archaeologists?

  5. What would happen to the career of a NON-Mormon scientist who DID in fact prove/find convincing evidence that a native American or Meso-American civilization had derived from middle eastern roots?

  6. This is not a Book of Mormon question, but a theological question about the Latter Day Saint theology of Exaltation and Eternal Progression. I take no offense if you wish to disqualify this question.

    The teaching of exultation in the celestial kingdom and eternal progression is the most fundamental teaching of the Latter Day Saints Church. If it is true that god was once a human person, and the god that our god worshipped was once a human person with his own god, then this implies that the Latter Day Saints Church believes that god is just a part of the material universe as anything else.

    If god is just another part of the material universe, then god is NOT the most fundamental thing that exists; the material universe is the most fundamental thing that exists. We have to conclude that the Latter Day Saints theology implies that the material universe is the most fundamental thing that is, even though Latter Day Saints theology doesn’t explicitly teach this. Isn’t the belief that the material universe is the most fundamental thing that exists the central belief of atheistic materialism?

    How does the Latter Day Saints Church avoid the logical coincidence with atheistic materialism?

  7. What are your thoughts on the new discoveries of much more populous city complexes in Central and South America (the Amazon, just this week). Some people are saying this supports the narrative in the BOM for large populations. Where do these discoveries fit in the archaeological narrative?

  8. It would interest me to know what he can say regarding the credibility of the BYU archeology and anthropology departments. What do other universities and experts think of the work they do? Are they a laughing stock? Has their credibility increased, decreased, or stayed the same over the last few decades?

    He’ll probably try to give a diplomatic answer, but I’d love it if he could give an indication as to what the experts think of BYU’s work in his fields.

  9. Why have No artifacts been found, why have no armour been discovered? Why has zarahemla never been found. Why have no other golden plates from any book of Mormon tribes been found, why have there not been any other golden plates of so-called reformed egyption ever been found, from the book of Mormon era?.

  10. While deployed, I don’t have his book Final Report with me to reference the source. But either in the book or on your interview he stated that LDS archaeologists were doing real archaeology. What were they researching and what were their conclusions? Did their conclusions in peer-reviewed journals match LDS-sponsored publications?

  11. Based upon the pollen distribution from core samples at Olmec and Mayan (or any other pre-Columbian site), can we expect to find any traces of barley or wheat pollen as mentioned as crops in the BoM? How about in the art? Thomas Stuart Ferguson of the New World Archaeological Foundation wrote that “this negative score on the plant-life test should not be treated too lightly. An abundance of evidence supporting the existence of these plants [wheat and barley] has been found in other parts of the world of antiquity. The existence of numerous non-Book-of-Mormon plants (maize, lima beans, tomatoes, squash, etc.) has been supported by abundant archaeological findings…Art portrayals in ceramics, murals and sculptured works–of ancient plant life–are fairly commonplace.”1 Dr. Coe referred to the NWAF as “a first class operation.”2 What are his recollections of TSF and the NWAF?

    1. Stan Larson, “The Odyssey of Thomas Stuart Ferguson,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 23, no. 1 (1990), 77, https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V23N01_57.pdf (accessed May 29, 2017).

    2. Michael D. Coe, Final Report: An Archaeologist Excavates His Past (NY: Thames & Hudson, 2006), 126-127.

    Subsequently, my second footnote is most likely the reference to my first question.

  12. In his Dialogue article, Dr. Coe stated that “Mormon archaeologists over the years have almost unanimously accepted the Book of Mormon as an accurate, historical account of the New World people’s between about 2,000 B.C. and A.D. 421.”1 Is this assumption by LDS archaeologists of accepting the Book of Mormon’s account of New World history as the starting point problematic for non-LDS archaeologists? Why or why not?

    1. Michael Coe, “Mormons and Archaeology: An Outside View,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 8, no. 2 (1973): 41.

  13. Dr. Coe stated that “the most significant year for Mormon archaeology was 1842, when the Prophet [Joseph Smith] read “Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan” by the founder of Maya archaeology, John Lloyd Stephens.” After Smith published extracts of Stephens book in Times and Seasons, he stated that the city of Palenque was “‘among the mighty works of the Nephites.'”1

    Why is this problematic for Mormon archaeology?

    1. Ibid.

  14. Dr. Coe concluded his 1973 Dialogue article by stating: “In conclusion, an outside observer like myself would make these suggestions [to Mormon archaeologists]. Forget the so-far fruitless quest for the Jaredite, Nephites, Mulekites, and the lands of Zarahemla and Bountiful: there is no more chance of finding them than of discovering the ruins of the bottomless pit described in the book of Revelations (sic). It has been Hugh Nibley himself, the Mormon philosopher and historian, who has pointed out the futility of such endeavors. Continue the praiseworthy excavations in Mexico, remembering that little or nothing pertaining to the Book of Mormon will ever result from them. And start digging into the archaeological remains of the Saints themselves.”1

    In light of the recent buzz among faithful Saints concerning the discovery of sprawling previously undiscovered ancient cities in Guatamala through the use of Lidar, isn’t it fair for believing Mormons to hold out hope for archaeology of the Jaredite, Mulekites, Nephites and the lands of Zarahemla and Bountiful to be discovered? Could these new discoveries be these cities and lands? Why or why not? What are the odds based upon the previous research done?2

    1. Ibid., 48.

    2. Tom Clynes, “Exclusive: Laser Scans Reveal Maya “Megalopolis” Below Guatemalan Jungle,” National Geographic, February 1, 2018, https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/02/maya-laser-lidar-guatemala-pacunam/ (accessed March 29, 2018).

    1. 90% of these new house mounds, agricultural features, water control features, etc. date to the Late Classic Period, likely after 700 A.D. and are squarely outside the timeframe of the Book of Mormon. Furthermore, the artifact inventory is going to be consistent across the board, whether house mounds of the commoners or the rich are excavated. There is a ton of ceramics, lithic (stone) tools, ground stone, and semi’precious items that were valued. Exotics brought in by trade include jade. Fine polychrome ceramics were highly valued. The fancy material culture is found in much greater abundance in residences of the elite than in those of the commoners. None of the technologies that the Book of Mormon mentions have ever been found in the Maya area and are anachronistic for the technological level of the civilization. So no, the lidar imaging of the jungle and the discovery of thousands more Maya residences has nothing whatsoever to do with the Book of Mormon.

      1. Rich,

        Thanks for the answer. You and I both know that. My question is really for those who are new to the idea of BoM anachronisms and Mormon Stories, in general. This answer coming from the former Chair of the Yale Archaeology Dept whose specialty is Olmec and Mayan archaeology carries more gravitas than you or me, however. 🙂

  15. When he was in the field working for the CIA, was he issued a weapon. I’m really hoping he carried a Walther PPK. But based upon his archaeology and lecturing, a whip would satisfy me. 🙂

  16. 90% of these new house mounds, agricultural features, water control features, etc. date to the Late Classic Period, likely after 700 A.D. and are squarely outside the timeframe of the Book of Mormon. Furthermore, the artifact inventory is going to be consistent across the board, whether house mounds of the commoners or the rich are excavated. There is a ton of ceramics, lithic (stone) tools, ground stone, and semi’precious items that were valued. Exotics brought in by trade include jade. Fine polychrome ceramics were highly valued. The fancy material culture is found in much greater abundance in residences of the elite than in those of the commoners. None of the technologies that the Book of Mormon mentions have ever been found in the Maya area and are anachronistic for the technological level of the civilization. So no, the lidar imaging of the jungle and the discovery of thousands more Maya residences has nothing whatsoever to do with the Book of Mormon.

  17. I loved his representation of science and his humility that new information can be found at any point – basically that what he cares about is truth. Also loved to hear his position about separating the life-improving principles that Jesus taught from all the mystical expectations – how one can still be a good person! He seems like a great man.

  18. I love Michael Coe; his books on Mayan epigraphy and mesoamerican archeology are worth the price. I’m teaching myself how to read mayan using his book on epigraphy.

    I also love that he’s willing to talk about the BoM. Let’s have this issue discussed out in the open.

    That being said, one thing no one seems to bring up, apologists(FAIR) and dispologists(Mormon Stories) is that Sorenson’s paradigm for Book of Mormon geography has had some real world productive value. Someone please correct me, if I am wrong, but Sorenson theorized that the Grijalva River was Sidon and the the Nephite heartland was in the central depression of Chiapas BEFORE the NWAF dug there. He convinced Ferguson to have him point there efforts there for that reason.

    Sorenson then leveraged their work to back up his hypothesis. In otherwords, the convergances between the BoM and that region are productive rather than redactive.

    Attaches is a link where I provide quotes from Coe and Sorenson attesting to the existence of Sorenson’s model before NWAF did it’s work. Then I give a few examples of how the BoM history converges with the archeology of that area.

    http://thebookofmormonhistory.blogspot.jp/2018/04/sorensons-paradigm.html?m=1

    Ps.
    A note on the horse and other supposed anachronisms. The Yucatec Mayan word for horse, tzimmin, is also the yucatec mayan word for tapir. Why? Because before the Spanish came, they’d never seen a horse, much less have a word for it.

    Also, Hernan Cortez reffered to the Aztec temples as “torres y mezquitas”, towers and mosques. Most likely because Aztec and Mayan temples consisted of a stone pyramid, with a chapel like structure on top. No one throws out Cortez’s account of the conquest because Muslims weren’t around in the Americas, pre-1492. Why?

    Because loan shifting is a real thing that happens when speakers of one language encounter objects from the world of another. To say that apologists are playing games with words is a bit of strawman.

    Also, Dehlin seems to be conflating multiple theories of translation and presenting them as something like a new official story, which I don’t see as accurate.

    Also, the claim that apologists are microsizing everything so as to be unfalsifiable is also a bit of a strawman. The Book of Mormon itself makes the demands of a small geography etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *