Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Let's be FAIR and balanced on the DNA issue


Clark Goble said...

Note that Stewart has been debating this on the FAIR forums. So man objections people have are dealt with there.

For the record I have a few problems with Stewart's paper - primarily due to his openness to HGT models which I think are untenable. But that's not really part of his primary DNA arguments.

I'd also note that LDS Science Review discussed Stewart's paper and Signature's response.

Finally one should note that Stewart was not the only writing on the topic. FARMS Review 18/1 has several essays on Southerton's claims.

Jeff Downs said...

This article may also be of interes Lamanites No More:
DNA and Lost Ties to Father Lehi

Clark Goble said...

That article tends to neglect the fact that LGT theories have been pretty mainstream in LDS circles for about a century. Also it tends to neglect the arguments from the text for LGT.

It also makes some bad arguments regarding lineage.

I'd have much more sympathy for critics arguing for a HGT if they engaged the LGT arguments more.

JD Walters said...

Okay, this "they don't really engage with the arguments" rhetoric is starting to get a bit irritating, and it doesn't inspire much confidence in the positions one is defending. What would it mean to "really engage with the arguments"? To end up agreeing with them or conceeding their validity? That's very self-serving.

Instead of just deflecting criticism, tell me what you think the strongest positive case for BoM accuracy is, and why modern historians should take BoM seriously as a historical record of Meso-America for the time period it purports to be in.

Note that this is a separate issue from the validity of Mormon theology, and the Mormon attempt to prove that they are actually 'real' Christians.

jeff g said...

While LGM has certainly gained much popularity in the past 2 or 3 decades, I would still be unwilling to characterize it as "main-stream". I'm convinced that the majority of attending Mormons still believe in HGM. Either way, to say that LGM has been mainstream for a full century is surely an exaggeration.

Of course, I'm convinced that LGM is an ad hoc hypothesis anyways.

Clark Goble said...

Jeff, by mainstream I mean acceptable in the mainstream of membership. Not that it is the dominate view.

I'd also distinguish between those taking more close readings of stuff versus people who treat the texts more cavalierly. That is even if one finds that most members think in terms of HGT model it isn't necessarily relevant anymore than treating the typical lay view of Biblical scholarship is. At least in terms of criticism of the text (as opposed to social criticism)

JD: What would it mean to "really engage with the arguments"? To end up agreeing with them or conceeding their validity? That's very self-serving.

Not at all. It simply means referencing them in a way that represents them and arguing against them. i.e. not simply ignoring them or presenting them in a strawman like fashion.

Clark Goble said...

BTW Jeff, I don't think one can call LGT ad hoc. Some attempts to label particular geographies are ad hoc. (i.e. they put existing geography ahead of the text) But I think that LGT is demanded by any reading of the text. Consider John Sorenson's Sourcebook for BoM geography. It is only about what is internal to the text. (i.e. ignores issues such as seasons, directional "misunderstandings" and so forth)

I also don't think Sorenson's model is the best. There has been recent work done that's definitely improved upon his views.

In any case while I agree some LGT are ad hoc I don't think the motivation behind a general LGT appraoch is ad hoc. It's demanded by the distances in the text.

JD Walters said...

That still doesn't address my point. When OT (and NT) archeologists explore Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, etc. they literally sleep with a Bible under their pillow, because it's so rich in actual place names and history which can be corroborated. Is the BoM used as a credible guide to ancient Meso-American geography and history by historians and archeologists? I think there was actually a statement made a few years back the Smithsonian that they have never used the BoM for archeological purposes.

Clark Goble said...

No, of course it isn't since the text is vague enough so as to not be able to identify its locations. But so what?

As I've said, I don't think that has the implications you think it does.

Blake said...

The fallacy here is thinking that the arid places where much of the bible occurred can be compared to the humid and destructive environment where many believe that the vents of the Book of Mormon occurred. The second fallacy is to believe that the bible is an accurate guide to archaeology. It isn't. If you want to get into it we can; but many books in both the OT and NT are best seen as pseudepigraphs and most of the stories so difficult to pin down to time and place that making it a guidebook to archaeology is a massive mistake.

JD Walters said...

I don't know where you get your Bible knowledge, Blake, but that simply isn't so. Books and parts of books of the Bible can be accurately dated in many cases. For example, the price of the slave in the story of Joseph (20 pieces of silver) was at that level for a certain time period only: 20th-19th century B.C. The Sinai laws have a treaty structure that can be dated to the 13th-12th century B.C.

Read "Walking the Bible" by Bruce Feiler. Every single famous archeologist which he encounters literally sleeps with a Bible under their pillow. As a first-hand guide to people, places and times it's second to none, and people like Yigael Yadin know that.

More generally on these issues see "On the Reliability of the Old Testament" by Kenneth Kitchen.