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Sent the Jaradites to a land where man had never been? What about Joseph Smiths notion that Adam lived first in Missouri where the garden of Eden was located?
The LDS Church’s FamilySearch organization has a video out showing that Native Americans came from Siberia 10,000+ years ago. It seems to agree completely with the latest science but leave no room for the Book of Mormon narrative. Watch it here: https://youtu.be/L1cs748ctx0
Ooops! The download file has a typo. The filename should be MormonStories-1594… not 1494. Might mess up playlist orders if they go by filename order.
Thanks for fixing the filename!
Thanks Mike for framing all the voluminous writings on the subject and distilling them into something so clear and concise. As someone who finds it easy to get lost in the weeds, I’m grateful for the work you’ve put into your overviews. I’m about halfway through this episode, and in discussing the GTE:
“The Book of Mormon provides little direct information about cultural contact between the peoples it describes and others who may have lived nearby. Consequently, most early Latter-day Saints assumed that Near Easterners or West Asians like Jared, Lehi, Mulek, and their companions were the first or the largest or even the only groups to settle the Americas.”
The BoM provides very specific information about cultural contact between the peoples it describes and others who may have lived nearby: That specific information is that there was zero of it.
I just wanted to make that point clear because even with the ensuing discussion this point can get lost in all the talk about the use of the term “critics.” And it could be easy to conclude that when y’all say “it’s because there is none,” maybe you’re referring to the fact that mainstream sciences don’t show any evidence of contact (or of Nephites, Lamanites, etc.).
But to be clear, it’s actually not an assumption made by humans as they would like us to think, it’s statement by God through Joseph Smith. Internally to the Mormon narrative it is because there was nobody else.
The BoM is not at all vague or quiet on the topic. It is explicit. This is not an assumption by anybody based on a lack of information in the scriptures.
When the authors of the essay say that the BoM says little about hypothetical cultural interactions, they are lying.
When they describe the belief that the BoM peoples were alone in the continent as an “assumption” based on a lack of scriptural material, they are lying.
About science and its tentative nature, Isaac Asimov had the perfect summary. He was confronted in a letter by an English major who tried to show up him by saying science is always proving itself wrong. His response:
“John, when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”
In other words, science gets more accurate and refined over time. We’re long past the point of throwing out entire frameworks wholesale when it comes to many basic questions. Atoms exist, the Earth formed from dust and ice less than 5 billion years ago but more than 4 billion, humans evolved through a billions-year-long process, and humans have been in the Americas uninterrupted for tens of thousands of years.
We are always revising our scientific conclusions, but we’re not radically reshaping them very much anymore. We have known for decades that the Earth isn’t perfectly spherical: it’s lumpy, bulges around the equator, and unevenly massive. But it’s still very much round. We won’t ever suddenly find out that we’ve been wrong about a round Earth the whole time and it’s actually cube-shaped.
Likewise, there is not enough uncertainty about human history and genetics to allow the Book of Mormon to be a true record of events it allegedly describes. That would be the archeological, linguistic, and genetic version of a Cubic Earth.
The more we study in the different fields of science, independently of each other, the more they converge on a cohesive Big Picture where the small parts make sense in harmony with each other. It’s an idea called “Consilience.”
That’s wholly different from the revisionism the LDS church has displayed. Apologetics is the opposite of consilience; changing the narrative out of convenience in a mish-mash fashion rather than as a consequence of the underlying, coherent nature of reality. This is why the Modern church position is somewhat schizophrenic and internally inconsistent, not being able to independently confirm earlier “revelations” with new and independent findings and having to retcon the narrative in small, incompatible pieces. The modern LDS narrative is far more confused, fractured, and inconsistent than it was back when neutral evidence and observation couldn’t gain-say the narrative laid out by Smith.
BTW, that term “retcon” is something Dr. Dehlin might find useful going forward. In long-running serial fiction like TV series, radio dramas, soap operas, pulp fiction, and comic books, sometimes the continuity established by earlier episodes is re-written by later ones. This can happen when the writer(s) decide they don’t like the old idea, or when they accidentally write something that contradicts it. So they construct a “retroactive continuity” or retcon to rationalize the contradiction and keep the story moving. For the last few months as I’ve gone through the archive, I keep thinking to myself that the word John is looking for with the LDS’s many revisions is “retcon.”
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