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Defending the Faith: Defending the Faith: Dealing with Book of Mormon geography and other secondary issues

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  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    June 16, 2011 6:52 a.m.

    Thank you Dr. Peterson, I could not agree more.

    I find great power in the Book of Mormon. So too the Bible, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. I am fascinated by archeological discoveries and find myself interested in the various historical interpretations. But my testimony is not dependent upon these.

    Even when the historical Jesus was seriously challenged, I found faith in him. Discoveries over the years that point to his being "found" in history have been interesting and even gratifying, but not redefining for my faith. So too with other historical/archeological endeavors related to church history be that ancient or modern.

    The imperatives of the scriptures are our personal and familial actions, attitudes, and approach to deity. All else is secondary.

  • Calvin Coolidge Fan MONROE, UT
    June 16, 2011 8:12 a.m.

    Thank you Dr. Peterson! You are awesome, and I believe right on the button with your analysis. IF you should happen to see these response postings... I once attended a fireside you spoke at, and shared with us your experiences at BYU with translating the works of Islam into english, and the doors that has opened for the church in the lands of Islamic rule. Is there some place I can go to read more about your experiences with that, that I could share with my wife and family? Thank you for all you do! :)

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    June 16, 2011 8:24 a.m.

    We believe all things, we hope all things. To me that says that I believe all things to be possible until proven false. Rather than the stiff-necked path of not believing in anything until proven true. More than one theory can be true.
    I do know about geography...
    -The Book of Mormon Nephites lasted for 1,000 years.
    -All the people in the area became Nephites for at least 200 years regardless of skin color or genetics.
    -There are ancient ruins of great nations in the Americas.
    -Book of Mormon lands are anywhere the Nephites lived, not just what is in our abridged scripture.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    June 16, 2011 9:41 a.m.

    From the article:

    "I find it almost unbelievable. Surely this is a secondary issue, at most.

    Nothing very important certainly not our salvation hangs upon having the precise GPS coordinates of the Jaredite city of Lib. Although an interesting topic for discussion, knowing exactly where the narrative of the Book of Mormon took place is far less momentous than believing that it did, in fact, take place."

    This is where Peterson is SOOO wrong. Why do you think tensions are hot over BoM geography? Why does it cause such a rift among otherwise like believers? It is simply because knowing "where" the BoM took place is intrinsically connected to knowing "that" it took place! The search is on because many seek a validation of their faith. We all accept the rational logic that if we "could" prove a location of a BoM event, person, or place, we have given extensive credibility to Joseph Smith. Conversely, if it could be reasonably proven that the BoM contradicts the actual history and geography's of the people and places it writes about, it would be false. The whole purpose of the BoM was to be the means for validating Mormonism.

  • Valerie7 SAN ANTONIO, TX
    June 16, 2011 9:49 a.m.

    It is interesting to talk about the possible locations of the stories found in the Book of Mormon. One day we will all know for sure. Dr. Peterson, thank you for all you do in defending the Lord's Kingdom here on earth.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    June 16, 2011 10:32 a.m.

    "Nothing very important certainly not our salvation hangs upon having the precise GPS coordinates of the Jaredite city of Lib. "

    --

    Fictional locations can not have a GPS location since they weren't there in the first place.

  • We the People Sandy, UT
    June 16, 2011 10:59 a.m.

    RanchHand:

    Lib did exist; I would love to know how you know it did not.

    This article is excellent because it captures the most important truth about the Book of Mormon. That truth is that the book is about real people and teaches men to love God and each other.

  • New Yorker Pleasant Grove, UT
    June 16, 2011 11:11 a.m.

    Hi RanchHand,

    Those of you who dismiss the BOM as fiction out-of-hand have not studied it nor its production in years just before 1830. I have thought over your skepticism and, so far, can come up with only two possibilities:

    1. You are Christians who have a knowledge from the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ is the anointed Messiah, the Son of the Living God, but you believe, much as Saul did of the Christians, that the Mormons are misdirected. If this is the case, you should find and follow the "Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It" debate on the net. For example "Still Losing the Battle . . . Still Not Knowing It: An Open Letter to Hank Hanegraaff." Dismissing the BOM out-of-hand will only work with a few LDS who haven't studied the Gospel. To reach most Mormons, you have to get down to the nitty-gritty.

    2. You are athiests or agnostics. If this is the case, I recommend you read "Three Shrines: Mantic, Sophic, and Sophistic" by Hugh Nibley from a series of lectures delivered at the Sterling Library Lecture Hall at Yale University. To influence Mormons, you have to understand them.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    June 16, 2011 11:15 a.m.

    Mr. Petersen seems humble in his willingness to share with us that he knows nothing more than we do; but his contentment with ignorance is troubling. Is it not Gods way to seek truth and answers. Don't the Mormons have some saying: it is good to seek all good things, and is not the truth a good thing.

  • sayinmypiece Las Vegas, NV
    June 16, 2011 11:19 a.m.

    The 8th Chapter of 3rd Nephi describes to total destruction of the land that took place including mountains lowered, new mountains created, cities buried under the water and so on, the whole land was changed. I have not found much description of the land after this event in the rest of the Book of Mormon. It seems to me that it would be very difficult to use the Book of Mormon to locate locations today. Did the "narrow neck" of land remain unchanged or not? I have no idea. The Book must stand alone on its own.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    June 16, 2011 11:38 a.m.

    We the People,

    How do you "know" Lib existed? You "know" it seems because the BofM is supposedly an historical account of a people that heretofore, can't be found except in the imaginations of the Mormon population and as proclaimed in Fast and Testimony meetings.

    I know one thing to be true about the Book of Mormon. It came from a man, Joseph Smith who claims it came from a set of gold plates which was shown to him by an angel. That is all I or anyone will know about the Book of Mormon - that it was a man, Joseph Smith, who made claims. That is what all religion is. Claims by MEN (including women)about who God is or what God says or what God wants us to do. No one speaks for God any more than EVERYONE speaks for God.

    I believe in God, but I live my life according to the dictates of my conscience and according to what brings me happiness. It is my wish that all men and women live their own lives according to what brings them happiness and not be duped or blinded by others who claim they know God's will.

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    June 16, 2011 11:39 a.m.

    Reading some of the comments on here related to these articles about the Book of Mormon really puts into perspective what a huge task it was for Joseph Smith to bring about the work of the restoration. I think he felt the weight of how all of it would be received by such a disbelieving people, but he forged ahead anyway and great personal expense and sacrifice. It takes a lot of faith to forge ahead in the face of all of this ridicule, but I suppose Joseph's faith in God, and his aversion to offending him was greater. I understand that there are many who just can't bring themselves to believe in something they can't see. All I can really say is that believing has not been in vain for me. The blessings and spiritual knowledge that have come as a result of excersising faith are very, very real, and would lead any reasonable person to the understanding that Joseph's claims are true. I think there is great wisdom in the way God set this all up. He requires faith before knowledge. I know it doesn't seem fair, but it's really the only way.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    June 16, 2011 11:50 a.m.

    sayinmypiece | 11:19 a.m. June 16, 2011
    Las Vegas, NV
    The 8th Chapter of 3rd Nephi describes to total destruction of the land that took place including mountains lowered, new mountains created, cities buried under the water and so on, the whole land was changed. I have not found much description of the land after this event in the rest of the Book of Mormon. It seems to me that it would be very difficult to use the Book of Mormon to locate locations today. Did the "narrow neck" of land remain unchanged or not? I have no idea. The Book must stand alone on its own.

    ----

    Another good point! If all that happened then there would be massive geologic evidence of it - you can't hide that kind of destruction. It ISN'T there.

  • New Yorker Pleasant Grove, UT
    June 16, 2011 11:51 a.m.

    skeptic,
    My above comments to RanchHand were made with our conversation in mind. I would be grateful to know which of the perpetual skeptics here at the forums belong to one of these two groups and whether there is another group I haven't thought of. Answering generalized skeptical posts is like bowling with a curtain hung in front of the pins. Since you all are taking the time to share your thoughts, I would like to give you the best response possible. Would you personally be willing to share the genesis of your taking the time to be a skeptic in these forums?

    The question in your last post seems to derive from the LDS 13th Article of Faith: "We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous ... anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

    The 9th Article applies better: "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" including the remaining, untranslated part of the BOM.

    I gather from this you have little or no LDS background?

  • We the People Sandy, UT
    June 16, 2011 12:20 p.m.

    Thinkman:

    Um, I do not know what to say. Who says that God does not commune with man? Did you talk to God to find out that fact? If you do not believe that God reveals his will to man, I respect your belief. I believe he does.

    I know much more about the Book of Mormon other than Joseph Smith was its translator. If you do not, that is fine. I have no problem and respect your beliefs or lack thereof.

    My issue is that Ranchhand emphatically said that a city did not exist. He must have some reason for this. I have reason to believe the city did exist.

  • vegassportsfan Las Vegas, NV
    June 16, 2011 12:21 p.m.

    Ranch Hand

    "It ISN"T there"

    Such an emphatic statement. You are suggesting that there has been no geological change at all, where ever it took Place, since then. Your comment indicates that you now where it took place. For or against, emphatic statements like yours just back one into a corner. In reality you or I just don't know such facts, one way or the other, to be absolute, do we?

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    June 16, 2011 12:25 p.m.

    To Ranchand:

    Do you know where Sodom and Gomorrah is? This is supposedly where the Lord destroyed the city completely. Since, it was destroyed there has to be something to indicate where it was. All we have is complete suspicion that it is on the south end of the Dead Sea. There are many things described in the Bible that has never been found or anything to indicate it was even there. Yet, many believers of the Bible will not believe in the same thing the Book of Mormon details.

    Also, have you tried going through the jungle of Mesoamerica or any of the other areas yourself. It isn't easy and many things are hidden from view because of the terrain itself. It is there, we just haven't found it.

    As I have stated before it isn't necessary where the Book of Mormon took place, just that it did. As Christ said to Thomas, "Thomas because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." That is faith and that is how we are to take the Book of Mormon, on faith and faith alone.

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    June 16, 2011 12:30 p.m.

    "Another good point! If all that happened then there would be massive geologic evidence of it - you can't hide that kind of destruction. It ISN'T there."

    So there aren't ruins at the bottom of the ocean near mesoamerica. I just saw pictures of them on the History Channel. You're telling me they don't exist?

  • Law SLC, UT
    June 16, 2011 1:02 p.m.

    @Mormoncowgirl, salvation is through Jesus so your point is mute.

    @Valkrye, we do know several points: where the final battles were - in Palmyra, and where the one true Hill Cumorah is - in Palmyra, where the pageant is performed annually. Both were identified by Joseph Smith in the first Official History of the Church as identified by President Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., in Doctrines of Salvation, 1956, pp. 232-243. Peterson et. al. know this fact but avoid it at all cost.

    @Hounddog, Fulfilled land prophecies confirm where the lands are.

    @savinggrace, Had there been hewn rock made structures they would have crumbled to the earth so Mesoamerica is out. The perimeter of the land did not change and the Narrow Neck also remained with the City of Bountiful near it, which also was untouched. Before the final battle, all Nephite cities were burned, one would not expect to find any evidence at all except remnant dirt fortifications and burial mounds - that's all.

    Keep in mind likewise that the ground was cursed by God and would not hold their riches, i.e. metal implements of war, jewelry, etc.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    June 16, 2011 1:51 p.m.

    So the article makes several quotes from Joseph Smith and George Q. Cannon. Remember, not every statement made by a prophet or apostle is doctrine, so we can dismiss statements by them as opinion. Why members keep using quotes from past prophets and apostles when it supports their view and then dismiss the ones that don't support their view is beyond me. Do these people really think that is logical?

    Several people on here have said "how do you know it doesn't exist?" Well lets use a little logic and it is really easy. So because there is no evidence of bigfoot, wouldn't it be more reasonable to assume that the percentages are that he doesn't exist? It is not reasonable to assume that he likely does exist, despite a lack of hard evidence. It is possible, just not likely. The same applies here. People assume it does not exist because the evidence simply is not there. I don't assume that aliens exist despite the lack of any real evidence. That would be unreasonable. I guess that is where faith comes in. So I applaude those with the faith to believe with no evidence.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    June 16, 2011 2:18 p.m.

    RE: New Yorker: To answer your question: I do not know, but maybe the other group you search for are just plain thinking Mormons. I think you know that not every Mormon is a Molly or Bruce Mormon. You may be surprised to learn just how many Mormons are seekers of truth rather than believers and blind followers. I think Mormons are a cross section of society in general who are united by a cultural bond. Nevertheless, like all the other posters, writers, editors and contributors to these articles, I do not know the unknown: but I like sharing ideas. Thank you for yours.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    June 16, 2011 2:49 p.m.

    The negative aspect we usually associate with bias does not come from bias itself but rather the belief that comes with it. Belief produces a set of brackets around a point of view that says in effect "The answer lies here." Once you believe you have found the answer, your point of view becomes biased, (intransigent and prejudiced) and prevents you from looking at other possible alternatives or determining probability. Beliefs act as a barrier to further understanding. If a person develops a faith in a point of view, then it becomes overwhelming to the point that nothing, even in the light of convincing evidence, will the faithful yield to better information or whether a premise is of low or high probability. A biased belief can convince its believers that they hold the key to all understanding and "truth" without providing any evidence to support it.

    Given the choice between faith-based knowledge and evidence which refutes that knowledge, the true believer will choose faith and dismiss the contrary evidence.

    This is what Dr. Peterson seems to support. Ignore lack of evidence in favor of unity.

    @New Yorker

    Being non-LDS doesn't equal lack of knowledge concerning it.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    June 16, 2011 2:51 p.m.

    RE: One major contridiction to your assumption that there is no evidence of the Book of Mormon people is because it was all destroyed is the fact that there is plethora of evidence of other civilizations of the time of the Book of Mormon and before that still exists. So do you think it was just a very selective destruction of Book of Mormon evidence. That doesn't seem logical.

  • Law SLC, UT
    June 16, 2011 3:12 p.m.

    @shleptic, precisely the reason Mesoamerica doesn't work.

    The type of forts described in the BoM are not down there, and "moat" does not a BoM fort make.

    Likewise evidence of writing is a second strike against them when the writing is void of confirmations - right? The things wrong are endless, no offense.

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    June 16, 2011 4:08 p.m.

    Prophets, revelators and seers......are leading the world to victory.

  • Gpa knows El Dorado Hills, CA
    June 16, 2011 5:15 p.m.

    Priestcraft is preaching for money. Both sides of the argument get worked up when it could potentially cost them pride or money.Share your opinion then let people form their own. " Let men worship how, WHERE , and what they may. Condemn not others for their belief.Most people don't care what others think.Plenty of info is avaiable on both sides. I have enjoyed Rod Meldrums Info and insight and I believe it. Prove all things hold fast that which is good.Who cares? The Priestcrafters and the proud are always in danger of apostasy

  • sharrona layton, UT
    June 16, 2011 7:27 p.m.

    Bill in Nebraska,"Do you know where Sodom and Gomorrah is?" Yes,at the south end of the Dead Sea area, there is a mountain known as Mt. Sodom. It is adjacent to this area that the city of Sodom was located. The Bible indicates that there were more than just the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that were destroyed that day. So far, at least 5 cities have been discovered that were turned to ash and have sulfur balls strewn throughout them.

    That is faith and that is how we are to take the Book of Mormon, on faith and faith alone. Bill your are describing,Fideism(faith-ism), theologians have claimed that human beings are inherently religious. If they do not worship the true God, then they worship false[exalted] gods, themselves or things of their own making[BoM].

    That seer his name shall be called Joseph, and it shall be after the name of his father.(JST 50:33) Joseph Smith Jr.prophecy of himself, Do you take this prophecy on faith alone? Christians and Jews do not.

  • Dadof5sons Montesano, WA
    June 16, 2011 10:05 p.m.

    What is funny is you have ardent believers of the bible and yet no one can point out this is the Mt. Sinai no body can with 100 percent certainty, No one can point out this is the tomb of Christ no one knows were that is or his exact birth place. Non of this has any weight to my salvation.

  • New Yorker Pleasant Grove, UT
    June 16, 2011 10:06 p.m.

    skeptic,

    Your comment strongly implies that thinking and truth seeking are at the opposite pole of believing and following. You seem to want to twist the knife a bit by association following with blindness. In most American religions, that is true. If you read the article Secularization, Higher Education, and Religiosity by Albrecht and Heaton (on net), you will see that for LDS the relationship is strongly positive. Higher education does not have a secularizing influence on Mormons.

    The FAIR page "Education, Scholarship, and Mormonism" reaches a perhaps somewhat less-than-Christian conclusion about characterizing active Latter-day Saints as blind followers:

    "The claim that the LDS are not educated or that we are simply 'uneducated dupes' is demonstrably false and may reflect an underlying bigotry. Additionally, as education levels rise, so does activity in the LDS Church. The LDS Church promotes learning in all areas. In most cases, the other criticisms against LDS scholars and LDS scholarship are not valid and are simply attempts to 'poison the well.'"

    What motivation would there be for a third group of "cultural Mormons" to bother putting in so much time in trying to destroy faith? Why not just let it go?

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    June 16, 2011 10:29 p.m.

    As brahmabull seems to want to put out that not everything that comes over the pulpit is revelation. However, as many LDS know that what is spoken during General Conference is counted as scripture and should be analyized and follow. So many think that many LDS are blind followers because we seem to ignore the truth of this or that. When a member of the Quroum of the Twelve or the First Presidency speak especially when they are representing their special calling as WITNESSES of the Lord Jesus Christ, pretty much what they say is scripture. What they fail to realize is that some things when spoken 150 years ago over the pulpit was meant for that time and place. When we study their teachings we focus on the setting of today and how it reconciles with today. Somethings are better left to the era spoken. This doesn't mean it is opinion but a guidance for that day and time. Joseph Smith saw many things that he was not permitted to write down or say pertaining to this time in the LDS Church. That was left to the Prophet on the earth at this time and era.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 17, 2011 12:47 a.m.

    "Lib did exist; I would love to know how you know it did not.
    "

    How do you know that it existed? As for knowing it did not, I will go by the standard scientist answer of "there is insufficient evidence to support the claim Lib existed" since you can't prove negatives.

  • Rock Calgary, Alberta
    June 17, 2011 3:15 a.m.

    Wow, sure a lot of "smart" folks out there who know more than everybody else.
    If you believe the BofM then you remember that the land was changed by earthquakes at the time of the Saviors crucifixion. Some of you say there is no proof. Is it so hard to picture a few earthquakes 2000 years ago? Do you have documentation of every earthquake on earth in the last few hundred centuries?
    If you don't believe the Bof M to be true, why are you wasting your time in such non Christian pasttimes as criticizing, and trying to find fault? Why should you care? Do you think it elevates you to some proud place better than us? You are in for a sad surprise, brother.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    June 17, 2011 6:52 a.m.

    Sharrona: That is not proof. As stated earlier that is only speculation. They have no real proof that is Sodom or Gormorrah. God is an exhalted being with a body of flesh and bones as tangible as yours and mine. The Bible specifies that in every sense which of course you deny. Joseph is and was a prophet of God. He shall be crowned with the rest of the Prophets of old. You can never change that. We don't worship Joseph Smith, but we do worship Jesus Christ every day of our lives. We may come up short but that is the meat of it.

    Your comments are misleading and contradictory to the issues of the Bible as others have tried to tell you.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    June 17, 2011 8:04 a.m.

    RE: New Yorker, thx for you response. There are a few twist and turns there that are difficult to follow, or relate fairly to what I wrote, but I think it is a good lesson to demonstrate that generally people see, hear and receive others messages in preconcieved context of how they wish to see things, or how they have already made up their minds things are. BTW, I don't think "cultural Mormons" (what ever that is) or most any culture put a lot of time in trying to destroy faith. I think they are spending more of their time searching for intelligence, truth and real answers for faith. Of course that can be a lot of work, and it may just be easier to follow others who say they know, and who one accepts as an authority figure. Your statement that higher education is associated with higher LDS church activity is interesting. Any independend statistics on that.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    June 17, 2011 8:16 a.m.

    vegassportsfan:
    "Ranch Hand

    "It ISN"T there"

    Such an emphatic statement. You are suggesting that there has been no geological change at all, where ever it took Place,..."

    --- Mountains that appeared only 2000 years ago to cover cities would be very well known by geoligists, same with seas that appeared when cities sank. There has been enough exploration of SA that we don't see baby mountains or seas. (Satelite pics don't show them either).

    New Yorker:
    "I gather from this you have little or no LDS background? "

    --- RM, 30+ years as active mormon (born/raised). I have a pretty good LDS background. More recently 20+ years of reading and understanding the TRUE history of the LDS Church and JS, not just the pablum that members are given since anything else isn't faith building.

    (My comments yesterday weren't allowed by the moderators. Why not guys?)

  • sharrona layton, UT
    June 17, 2011 8:50 a.m.

    Bill, God is an exalted being with a body of flesh and bones as tangible as yours and mine. The Bible(Jesus) JS and B Young refute this.

    Jesus, Blessed(*God blesses)art thou, Simon Bar-jo-na for FLESH and blood hath not revealed it unto thee. but my Father in heaven.(Mt 16:17)

    Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, Q. What is the Father? A. He is a personage of glory and of power. (5:2.).

    Brigham Young (JOD v 1 p 49-50): "The Lord fills the immensity of space. What saith the Psalmist[139:7-10]? Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

    *divine passive, grammatical construction used,in 2nd temple Jerusalem,prior to 70 A.D..

    That seer his name shall be called Joseph, and it shall be after the name of his father. (JST 50:33) (Joseph Smith Jr), the Bible refutes JS prophecy of himself. Mormons believe this JS prohecy, Christians and Jews refute.

  • laogden VANCOUVER, WA
    June 17, 2011 9:19 a.m.

    "I believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God" -- I LOVE mathematics, history, geography, paleontology and archaeology -- I love dinosaurs, I love the Book of Mormon --- I will waste no time in arguing, but will revel in the discovery of new things -- and I am easy to be corrected. I cannot WAIT until the veil is parted and we can see how all these marvelous things fit together in its perfect, eternal puzzle

  • brokenclay Scottsdale, AZ
    June 17, 2011 9:32 a.m.

    As I've said before, comparing BoM archaeology to Bible archaeology (like Mike Ash has done before) is like comparing apples to oranges. Sure, there are some biblical towns whose locations haven't been identified yet. But that shouldn't mask the fact that thousands HAVE been identified. The Bible has established itself as a document that has its origins in antiquity, with thousands of points to corroborate that. Even the most critical scholars will admit this. Thus, even though some places haven't been identified, we have good reason to suspect that the Bible is accurate, because it has proven historically accurate in so many other areas. The BoM, on the other hand, has the support of not even one non-Mormon scholar. There are a lot of Mormons out there who don't even believe it's a real document of antiquity. To them, it's just a pseudonymous fraud that's supposed to bring some kind of spiritual enlightenment (how that is so, I really don't know-- a fraud is a fraud).

    Bill, I wouldn't be so triumphant in attitude toward sharrona. In my perspective, she has not yet been satisfactorily answered on the good points that she raises. Qualifier: satisfactorily.

  • New Yorker Pleasant Grove, UT
    June 17, 2011 11:16 a.m.

    skeptic,
    You are right about communication. It's got to be the most difficult thing we do as humans. It is even harder here given the framework of the venue. The Pew Forum on Religion and American Life has not directly correlated education to activity in the LDS Church, but they have some numbers that tend to corroborate the possibility that Albrecht and Heaton reported. According to the Pew forums, "Mormons are significantly more likely than the population overall to have some college education. Six-in-ten Mormons (61%) have at least some college education, compared with half of the overall population. However, the proportion of Mormons who graduate from college (18%) or receive postgraduate education (10%) is similar to the population as a whole (16% and 11%, respectively)." I believe it is still true that over half the Church in the USA are converts at any given time, so those joining the Church probably also help to keep the education level up. This is my last post on this article. I once posted to you with my real name. It would be easier to chat outside this structure.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    June 17, 2011 11:33 a.m.

    @Rock

    In 2008, intelligence researcher Helmuth Nyborg examined whether IQ relates to denomination and income, using representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, which includes intelligence tests on a representative selection of white American youth, where they have also replied to questions about religious belief. His results, published in the scientific journal Intelligence demonstrated that on average, Atheists scored 1.95 IQ points higher than Agnostics, 3.82 points higher than Liberal persuasions, and 5.89 IQ points higher than Dogmatic persuasions. "I'm not saying that believing in God makes you dumber. My hypothesis is that people with a low intelligence are more easily drawn toward religions, which give answers that are certain, while people with a high intelligence are more skeptical," says the professor.

    Several Gallup poll studies of the general population have shown that those with higher IQs tend not to believe in God."

    Religious belief had declined across 137 developed nations in the 20th century at the same time as people became more intelligent.

    I think organized religion simply needs challenging because it often closes the doors to further understanding and knowledge in favor of unsupported or weak on probability dogmatic beliefs.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    June 17, 2011 12:23 p.m.

    To brokenclay and Sharrona: As Joseph Smith so put it in his first vision, he saw both God the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ. Christ taught in the Bible, that if you have seen the Son, you have seen the Father. This is the same that if you have seen my son, you have seen me. This means that both Jesus Christ and the Father both have bodies of Flesh and Bone. Brigham Young teaches emphatically that the Father is an exhalted being. He also states that there is more than one God. However, the only God that we worship is God the Father. Joseph Smith teaches this emphatically through out all of his teachings. You are taking the words that they have spoken completely and entirely out of context, but what else is new.

    Secondly, we do not know where Sodom and Gomorroa is. That is a fact. All we have is the fact there is a huge salt basin at the end of the Dead Sea. There were other cities there per science, so what. Can they actually say this is Sodom. NO. Nor can anyone come out and say where Mt. Sinai is either.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    June 17, 2011 4:02 p.m.

    Bill - we have discussed this many times before, and we may never come to an agreement on what is right and that is ok. All I am trying to point out, is when some LDS think they have an arguement about something they put a quote in from a past prophet or apostle. But when presented with a past prophet/apostles words that go against them, they claim it is opinion. This is a problem. It is like quoting Joseph Smith (dead prophet) so his teachings at the time were just that - for that time only. So we shouldn't study them in church because they only applied then right? It doesn't make sense. Why study the scriptures, those prophets lived thousands of years ago, so their words were directed at the people in that time, so what is the value of their teachings today? If it was consistant I wouldn't have an issue with it, but it isn't. LDS pick and choose what statements are doctrine and which aren't. That is fine, but allow all members to do the same. I don't think god would change his mind about doctrine. For policy yes, doctrine no.

  • Law SLC, UT
    June 17, 2011 4:38 p.m.

    @doggle, no doubt you had a lower IQ and were a "believer" also and now after attending college, questioned what you know, or thought you knew. *ALL advances in *ALL fiels of study came from the right side (of your brain) not the left. Do a survey on inventors, then weigh your new found strength.

    @layton, no one need wait, you may find understanding of the geography NOW by analyzing fulfilled land prophecies.

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    June 17, 2011 4:42 p.m.

    One group of LDS believers promotes that the BofM stories really did happen, but in the region of the United States. Another group promotes the idea that it was in Meso-America. Most older folks were taught that it encompassed all of the Americas, both north and south.

    Are LDS members infighting about where it happened? The Meso-American apologists criticized one of the "heartland" promoters some time ago, but now everyone should just get along I guess.

    It is silly to me that people would get so stirred up over where these supposed events happened. My take is that it is just fantasy, with no factual evidence from archaeology, genetics, geology etc.

    I find the LDS teachings that indigenous people of America were from wicked and idle, degenerate and devolved ancestors to be offensive. For being a critic of what I see as pseudo-history, I will get labeled as an anti-mormon.

  • allenjones PARK CITY, UT
    June 17, 2011 11:23 p.m.

    Peterson seems to buckle to intellectual pressure when he states that "knowing where...is far less momentous than believing" This seems backwards to me. We know that scientific knowledge can never be as solid as the knowledge you get from having God reveal to you personally that it is true. The knowledge of the world can not to compare to revelation from God.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    June 18, 2011 12:25 a.m.

    New Yorker, you missed one. Gay activist united with and trained by leading anti-Mormons to attack LDS and faith in general. They already know that BoM Geography is miraculously descriptive of Mesoamerica, and they know that none of their claims really float (or game would have been over long ago), and they must resort to deceptive propagandizing and emotional plays. They also seem to know that BoM evidences are rising fast, as there is apparently some panic on the anti end, trying to keep us from learning about it.

    (But don't tell them that we know they know, it's so much fun explaining this over and over and posting BoM evidences that they can do nothing with but bury with denial.....: ) I love these guys....)

  • Rock Calgary, Alberta
    June 18, 2011 5:50 a.m.

    @ Joggle

    I'm sure the statistics you found were interesting in proving your point. However. I read a book in my stats class as a grad student called 'how to lie with statistics' I basically cast doubt on every research project ever because it is so easy to skew the results to match preexisting notions. and outcomes. research can be easily channelled to find artificial conclusions.
    I don't believe the results you state concerning faith vs IQ because faith is not wholly about IQ. It cris-crosses and includes every possible spectrum of people. There are far too many very intelligent people whom I know personally and others whose work I read, and a confirming touching of my heart that cannot be ignored.

  • Rock Calgary, Alberta
    June 18, 2011 5:57 a.m.

    Sorry, Joggle, one more thing.
    You are right that organized religion does need to be challenged. there are far too may contradictions, ambiguouties, unsubstantiated notions, etc, ete in the religious world. It would be interesting, wouldn't it, to find that Jesus had guided a small group of people to set up the origional Church of Christ, and was directing it himself with all of, and only those teachings that come from Him, His "Gospel of Jesus Christ". That small group of people have grown to huge numbers and millions recognize it and adopt it constantly.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    June 18, 2011 9:03 a.m.

    Brokenclay:

    Arguing that the Bible is "accurate" needs clarification. Yes, it accurately describes some places, people, and events from antiquity, and is therefore accurate in that regard. However, I've never understood the Christian argument that because we can verify some history and geography, that means Samson really had superhuman power for not cutting his hair - that he singlehandedly killed thousands of phillistines with the jaw-bone of a "donkey" (for DN's sensitivities). Or that Elijah or Moses each had a showdown of wizardry, or more importantly that Christ rose the dead - including himself. As you have noted, all that the geographical and somewhat historical accuracy does for the Bible is solidify that it was a product of anitiquity...but, who was debating that?

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    June 18, 2011 9:12 a.m.

    Bill in Nebraska:

    First, in response to a comment you made recently on a topic in which I was out of DN bullets - yes, in spite of our disagreement we could certainly be friends. I have many Mormon friends, as I live in Provo - and I think they wonderful intelligent people. I just can't figure out why they believe this stuff.

    So, on to our disagreement here. Can you really say that if I have seen your son, I have seen you??? What does that even mean? Yes there are some shared characteristics, but also a ton of individuality. I say this in regard to my own son. He looks a little bit like me, but he definately has his own personality. The trinitarian language in the Bible is very confusing, I'll admit, but it is only more confused by the fact that the same language finds its way into the Book of Mormon. Even more interesting is that some of this language has been altered. A brief example is in the Nephi's vision of the tree of life, he bolds the Mother of God - which was later changed to the Mother of the Son of God.

  • Arlin Nusbaum SLC, UT
    June 18, 2011 9:37 a.m.

    @Dr. Peterson, the right to "apostatize" was exercised by every prophet called by God and in fact is what Joseph initially did - criticized existing corrupt practices. Indeed without apostasy there would have been no John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, Lehi, Abinadi, Mormon or Joseph Smith.

    Apostasy is appropriate if established practices have become corrupt.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    June 18, 2011 10:13 a.m.

    I'm not sure how much more of this anti-intellectual, irrational, circular rhetoric I can take from the apologists (and especially Peterson, who as a credentialed "scholar", should know better).

    I really need something to build on here. My wife is losing hope.

    As part of "studying it out", I read these "Defending the Faith" articles in the hope of finding something helpful: an "evidence", a persuasive argument, a "reason" to believe (see 1 Peter 3:15). But time and time again there is nothing but empty rhetoric. I spend a lot of time on the Maxwell Institute and FAIR sites, as well as other forums. It is all the same empty stuff and gives me nothing to go on. If I took seriously the arguments apologists have given, I would not be able to believe in the LDS Church and the BOM while rejecting belief in Scientology, UFOs, BigFoot, Santa Claus, and Pixie Dust. A set of epistemological criteria that leaves one unable to distinguish between supposed legitimate claims, and obvious fictions, is a set of faulty criteria.

    I am begging for believers to please step up to your obligation and commandment and give us something of substance.

  • brokenclay Scottsdale, AZ
    June 18, 2011 11:12 a.m.

    Mormoncowboy, I would definitely concede some of your points. I do believe that the Bible is completely true, but if it appeared that I was arguing that a document's antiquity somehow makes it inspired, I must have written my comment somewhat ambiguously. I agree emphatically with you -- antiquity and historicity do not entail inspiration.

    Though I would disagree with you about Jesus' resurrection-- it is very well documented as a historical event. If you're interested in some good works on the topic, let me know. Moreover, there are many prophecies in the Bible that cannot be passed off as vaticinium ex eventu, because of the historical evidence.

    Nevertheless, an inspired document that purports itself to be genuine requires historicity (and if it is about ancient peoples, antiquity as well) in order to be true. My point was that two different people here have tried to put the Bible and BoM on an equal plane HISTORICALLY speaking. But this does not correspond with reality, as you have noted.

    Last, thank you for addressing Bill's Father/Son theology. That has to be one of the oddest interpretations of that passage that I've ever heard.

  • brokenclay Scottsdale, AZ
    June 18, 2011 12:04 p.m.

    Mormoncowboy, I would also add that,
    1) Partial historicity does not entail complete historicity
    2) Historicity does not entail miracles
    3) However, partial historicity does grant the possibility of complete historicity
    4) The Bible is confirmed as at least partially historical
    5) The BoM is non-historical

    Has DN ever thought about setting up some kind of a forum where we all could interact in a more complete way?

    Bill, as I've pointed out before, just because the Son has a physical body does not mean that the Father therefore has one. You have completely missed the meaning of the "incarnation." John 1:14 and Philippians 2:6-7 presuppose that before Jesus was born, he did not have a body of flesh -- "the Word became flesh"; "who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." If he "became flesh," then before he was not flesh. Being in the form of God is different than being "in the likeness of men." There is no legitimate way around this.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    June 18, 2011 12:39 p.m.

    Mormon Cowboy:No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[a] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18 NIV)

    Bill in Nebraska said, Christ taught in the Bible, that if you have seen the Son, you have seen the Father. This is the same that if you have seen my son, you have seen me. This means that both Jesus Christ and the Father both have bodies of Flesh and Bone. Wrong,

    he that hath seen(*horao) me hath seen the Father;(John 14:9).*to come to see(know)Gods majesty saving purpose and will through Christ.
    Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image(character) of his person(hypostasis=essence) (Hebrews 1:3)

    The Son is the image of the INVISIBLE God firstborn(*prototokos) over creation.(Col 1:15).
    *His priority to, and preeminence over creation, not in the sense of first to be born. In Psalm 92 v. 27 God makes David his firstborn ,But David wasnt literally first born in his family.

  • Rock Calgary, Alberta
    June 18, 2011 2:53 p.m.

    Vanka, I'm sorry that there is a struggle going on there. I believe that the first thing one must do to get ones head straight is stop, stop reading all of the junk that comes into this comment board. Much of it is well meaning opinion and not doctrinally sound. Some of it is from anti mormon trolls who enjoy causing distress and argument and conflict.

    Next read only the scriptures and the Ensign magazines. Get back to the basics and be consistant with your prayers and meeting attendance.

    Again, stop reading these comments and hoping to find anything sound on them.
    Like all of the churches in the world, there is too much contradiction and ambiguity in these foolish comments.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    June 18, 2011 5:48 p.m.

    @ Brahmabull: You have repeatedly asked Latter-day Saints to stop quoting the prophets and apostles when they agree with us and ignoring them when they don't.

    Since you live in Sandy, Utah, I assumed that you knew more about LDS doctrines and practices than you apparently do. We are very comfortable accepting some things under certain conditions and questioning others or setting them aside for a time. There is no need for us to conform to your rules. When the prophets or apostles say something that seems to be off-track to us, we are perfectly justified in questioning that within certain parameters. We generally understand those parameters, and most of us are very comfortable with them.

    If this system troubles you, and you're not LDS, then so be it. If you are LDS, feel free to talk to your bishop. The Church's official website gives overviews of our beliefs.

    It strikes me, however, that you want to engage the debate on esoteria because it distracts from what is really useful, which is exactly Petersen's point.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    June 19, 2011 12:24 p.m.

    @Rock

    I don't disagree with you, but statistics are still excellent evidence, and often the easiest and most concise way to express evidence. I'm also aware a person must examine them for relevance, validity and authority or they can do more harm than good in proving your point. You missed my point however.

    Afterall...it was you who CLAIMED: Wow, sure a lot of "smart" folks out there who know more than everybody else. If you don't believe the BofM to be true, why are you wasting your time in such non Christian pasttimes as criticizing, and trying to find fault? Etc.

    The point is: comments such as yours are not an argument. I generally try to present an argument based on a supported reason, logic, and evidence rather than finding personal fault with the person. Challenging claims does not equal saying "I'm smarter than you" like you seem to indicate in you comments. What evidence do you have to support your chastizing of other commentators? The accusation of being anti-mormon gets old on these boards because the opposite accusation could be turned around by people who disagree with Mormonism calling Mormons....anti-atheists, anti-Muslim, anti-Hindu etc.!!!

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    June 19, 2011 12:44 p.m.

    On page 140 of my re-read of the Book of Mormon. I read it multiple times as an unquestioning believer. I encourage everyone (both believers and critics) who are involved in and interested in these discussions to read it while you are learning from these comments.

    It really has been fascinating to re-read it with an open mind and seeking to both listen for the spirit and apply logic and reason and the interesting things from all sides that I regularly learn on here.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    June 19, 2011 12:47 p.m.

    Also....Rock

    I can say the same concerning there are far too many very intelligent people whom I know personally and others whose work I read, and a confirming touching of my heart that cannot be ignored. Does your touching of the heart supercede mine or mine yours though? Is it evidence your claim is right and mine is wrong and vice versa? No...not at all. That is why claims must be supported by STRONG evidence.

    You say: That small group of people have grown to huge numbers and millions recognize it and adopt it constantly.

    Growth of a religion does not prove that the beliefs are true. Historically....religions (and beliefs) have grown and died. There are many religions today. They all can't be right. Plus....no one has the slightest physical evidence to support a historical Jesus; no artifacts, dwelling, works of carpentry, or self-written manuscripts and hearsay means information derived from other people rather than on a witness' own knowledge. Sorry....but the Jesus claim doesn't work for me since there is little evidence he existed as a divine or real person.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    June 19, 2011 9:04 p.m.

    Rock,

    You see? There it is again. You assume I am sinning somehow and that is why I am not receiving "the right answer".

    I hate to point out that if I stop reading the comment board, as you suggest, I would not have read your comment.

    Is reading the comment board keeping me from receiving "the right answer"? Is god that silly?

    You tell me: "Next read only the scriptures and the Ensign magazines. Get back to the basics and be consistant with your prayers and meeting attendance."

    As if I don't and haven't read scriptures and Ensign magazines... "only"? Where is that written in Moroni's promise? Why must I go to such extremes, whereas others in the Church have not had to do so?

    I will repeat, I have faithfully investigated the Church for over two decades, following every scripture and counsel, and have received no "witness" whatsoever.

    But instead of accepting my testimony, I am constantly judged (falsely), condemned, and accused of wrongdoing.

    Do you people have any idea how offensive and frustrating that is?

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    June 20, 2011 8:43 a.m.

    Rock - you think reading the ensign and church only authorized material will lead people to the truth? I don't see how you can justify that - real truth is real truth, whether it comes from a church source or not. The church isn't %100 honest with its history, so it is not a valid source of actual truth.

    Jeff - Thank you for insulting my intelligence by saying that I don't know doctrine. I am not going to argue with you on that, only to say I have read literally hundreds of books on various topics including Bom archaeology, Joseph Smith, polygamy, church history, etc. So think what you want, I don't know you so it doesn't matter a whole lot.

    As far as your suggestion to go to the bishop - believe me I have. They have no real answers other than "go pray about it", and "read the scriptures" they never resolve any real questions with real life answers.

    You do not have to conform to my rules, and I don't to yours. You contradict what was said in the ensign: "When the Prophet speaks the debate is over".
    N. Eldon Tanner, August Ensign 1979. So you cannot challenge the prophet.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    June 20, 2011 9:13 a.m.

    Brokenclay

    Christ did not have a body of flesh prior to his birth. Is there an argument here?

    Being in the form of God is not all that different from being "in the likeness of men" as men were created in God's image.

    Sharrona,

    The bible relates several situations in which folks saw God prior to the coming of Christ. Too many to list here. Also, many saw the risen Christ.

    You say that the Father and Son are of the same essence. If so, what is the difference between seeing the Father and the Son? Why could someone see one but never the other?

    Joggle,

    Agreed that a religion's growth (or lack thereof) is not, in and of itself, a claim of veracity.

    Vanka,

    Sorry it has not worked for you. Since none of us know each other personally, there is little I or anyone here can offer that may not sound trite. I hope things work out for you.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    June 20, 2011 4:28 p.m.

    @ Brahmabull: I'm sorry. I thought I was giving you the benefit of the doubt by assuming that you didn't know better.

    You know, then, as well as I do, that the Journal of Discourses is not equal to the Standard Works. You know, as well, that an individual statement by President Monson is not equal in weight or authority to a joint statment by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. President Monson would agree with me, I'm sure, which is why the Church emphasizes councils in its leadership.

    You should also know that, if you keep yourself in tune with the Spirit, the Lord will confirm what is being said by the prophets and apostles, which is why your Bishop's advice to "pray about it" is powerful advice, not a failure to answer your questions.

    Some of your complaints have been that a prophet is of no value if some of what a prophet says is not-binding or opinion. This can only be so if certain conditions exist, and one of those is failure to receive the personal revelation that you are entitled to.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    June 20, 2011 6:45 p.m.

    @ Jeff - I see what you are saying, however you are once again contradicting the words of an apostle. This time you said "the journal of discourses is not equal to the standard works." and that we should all know that. You are contradicting the words of Apostle George Q. Cannon when he says in the preface of the JofD

    "The Journal of Discourses deservedly ranks as one of the standard works of the Church."

    So here you are saying what is and isn't equal to the standard works, and I should believe you over an apostle who says it ranks as one of the standard works. In this situation I would lean towards trusting apostle Cannon over you - no offense. Unless you are to claim it was just Cannon's opinion... which wouldn't surprise me.

    This is the problem. Doctrine is subjective. You can dismiss some words of leaders, and hold to others as if it were correct. Clearly back then they thought they were hearing doctrine as they were hearing the sermons of the JofD. And now it is not doctrine, so then, what is their use?

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    June 20, 2011 11:19 p.m.

    @ Brahmabull: I am contradicting George Q. Cannon because the modern prophets apparently contradict him. Personally, I don't necessarily see that it's a contradiction, but we have been told repeatedly that current prophecy supersedes former. Since this question has been raised multiple times (underline "multiple" if you like), modern prophets have spoken on it.

    Because people occasionally have problems with what the Brethren meant in the Journal of Discourses (and other areas of documentation), it is important for Latter-day Saints to follow the contemporary line of authority. Further, since the J of D was first published, the Church has reiterated a very public and obvious protocol so that the members of the Church know the difference between what they may hear in stake conference and what they read in the canon of scripture or the official church publications.

    Some of the J of D fits into that protocol, but some of it doesn't, hence we may accept what is clear and reject what isn't.

    Again, I reiterate that personal revelation must come into play sometime. You cannot really believe that a prophet must speak prophecy all the time and tell us every single thing we must do. Do you?

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    June 21, 2011 8:36 a.m.

    The problem is simply that the Church has been trying to distance itself from the Journal of Discourses for years. It has sort of been a catch-22 because Church manuals and publications are riddled with convenient extracts from the JoD, but so are many, many "anti" publications. The irony is that both critics and Church leaders have been drinking from the same well of Mormonism for a long time. In order to combat this the Church has introduced some rather strange twist of language as an outgrowth of "correlation" - the use of the word "official". The JoD is now said not to be "official" Church doctrine - whatever that means? Now when we don't want to own our prophecies or doctrine, we just say that it's not official. It's no different from when any corporation wants to change it's branding. All employees must turn in old uniforms, business cards, post-it notes, etc, which bear the former insignia. Instead, the Church just does this with "doctrine". We have a new brand, and a new message, so we don't want to be recognized by the old image, ie, the JoD. It's just strange that doctrine can wear out like a label.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    June 21, 2011 7:36 p.m.

    @ Mormoncowboy: I'm not sure which "doctrine" you are talking about. There are some places in the Journal of Discourses in which the language is confusing and difficult, and some of them have given rise to speculation about the nature of some doctrines. I am one of those who believes that the doctrine has stayed the same from the creation. Human understanding of the doctrine has changed; languages have changed; things have been translated or transcribed in such way as to garble the doctrine (something I believe happened in some notable places in the Journal of Discourses, most of which is a treasure trove of inspired talks faithfully transcribed).

    What "new message" do "we" have? (You are no longer a Mormon, so I'm not sure why you would use first person here.) Since the first vision, the message has been this: the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness is restored. Perhaps you are one of those who wants us to be more of what we aren't.

    Your corporate analogy is valid on one sense: As the Church expands, it is important that it make sure that the doctrines are clearly understood everywhere--hence the protocols. Nothing wrong with that.