Arguments for the existence of an immaterial soul

89 posts / 0 new
Last post
17 April, 2014 - 16:03
Offline
Joined: 3 years 2 months ago

1. I agree
2. I also agree with you. Atheism does not make you any better of a person. There was an interesting article I read a week ago.
3. Interesting.

18 April, 2014 - 02:35
Offline
Joined: 4 years 3 months ago

tom wrote:
metivier wrote:

In sum, the decisive question is and likely shall always remain, if what one claims is true, what changes?

If you found out that God exists and that he was infinitely good (by your own highest standards of justice) and that you had the possibility to be together with him and anyone you loved in a state of eternal happiness, that wouldn't change anything for you? The hope that all the evil, all the suffering in this world did not have the last word, you wouldn't care about that?

If you can demonstrate that what you say is true in a way that will be instantly accepted by everyone due to the overwhelming validity of evidence that has suddenly appeared in support of your claim, I might be swayed.

This is where you've hit the nail on the head: one has to "find this out" first, which is the typical ruse of the believer.

But things that are demonstrably true require no belief. And in the demonstrably true lies extraordinary happiness. Here. Now. Not later or in an eternity that all available evidence suggests no life will ever enjoy.

In any case, what is persistently missing in this discussion is a bridge to mnemonics. If someone were talking about, for example, the seeming unbelievability of memory techniques and the miracles they promise and how one needs to "witness" about their power and how such preternatural displays relate to religious conversion, then this would be an interesting discussion. I don't think there's much of a relationship there due to the absolute grounding of mnemonics in science, but there's still a touch of exploration that could be fruitful.

Otherwise, I kindly suggest that the OP consider talking about how he uses memory techniques to contain all of this vast information in his mind or rest his wrists. It's the memory techniques that are worth debating over and you could do more to forward your cause and create interest by framing your beliefs and its prologemena in what people are primarily here to discuss.

19 April, 2014 - 07:16
Offline
Joined: 2 years 10 months ago

Agreed Tom

Bateman: Our chapels are pretty meager, but our temples are a little lavish, but that can be justified by the fact that it might be a kind of hypnotic thing to keep people in the church and helping the world, just like the Cathedrals could. Our temples are still not very lavish, I think we're pretty good about that usually. We generally hold to the philosophy, love God by serving others.

19 April, 2014 - 08:08
JC
JC's picture
Offline
Joined: 2 years 9 months ago

I find it curious that all or most intellects who enter into the "science world" change there beliefs, or at least question it. This speaks volumes.

My opinion is this: If you believe in God you are wrong. If you don't believe in God you are wrong.

I do however believe that religion is the most important thing in the world. I wont go into my reasoning as I fear it will offend people.

What do you guys think?

19 April, 2014 - 10:41
Offline
Joined: 4 years 3 months ago

JC wrote:

My opinion is this: If you believe in God you are wrong. If you don't believe in God you are wrong.

Let's switch things out and see how this works:

If you believe in Santa Claus you are wrong. If you don't believe in Santa Claus you are wrong.

If you believe in the Tooth Fairy you are wrong. If you don't believe in the Tooth Fairy you are wrong.

If you believe in the Easter Bunny you are wrong. If you don't believe in Easter Bunny you are wrong.

I can only repeat again: the belief is irrelevant. The actions that fall in accordance with the belief are the problem.

People will shop for presents and Easter eggs to hide around the house regardless of the beliefs that drive them because giving gifts and playing hide and go seek are things that seem to appear in all cultures. But when Little Timmy ties a string around his sister's tooth and slams the door on the other end shut, that can cause medical, moral and ethical problems - especially when it's an adult tooth!

In any case, if you fear that your reasoning behind why religion is the most important thing in the world will offend others, that's the precise reason why you should share it. Surely it can't be so controversial ...

21 April, 2014 - 16:53
Offline
Joined: 2 years 10 months ago

Actually that's not necessarily true, and among Mormons it is the opposite of true.

Recent Pew Research Article:
Mormons with a high school education or less are substantially more likely than those with more education to say they find some elements of Mormonism difficult to believe.
Pew Article

Another Study:
"As noted in the previous table, the data indicate a strong positive relationship between educational level and attendance at meetings. For males, 34 percent of the respondents with just a grade school education report weekly attendance. This increases to 71 percent of the males who are college graduates and 80 percent of those who have had graduate school training. The relationships for females are similar with the percentage of weekly attenders increasing from 48 percent of those with a grade school education to 82 percent of those with the college degree. Attendance drops slightly, however, for females who go beyond the college degree. In all categories except for those with post-graduate education, the attendance level is higher for women than it is for men. However, post-graduate men are more likely to attend on a weekly basis than are post-graduate women."
Study

Basically, among Mormons, the more educated you get, the more religious you get. Does that suggest that its the truth? Most definitely.

Btw guys, let me know if i'm letting negative emotions out on the text. I have a lot of respect for anyone that does mnemonics, because anyone who does mnemonics must have a passion or a drive to learn. That is something that I respect greatly.

22 April, 2014 - 11:57
tom
tom's picture
Offline
Joined: 2 years 9 months ago

metivier wrote:
tom wrote:
metivier wrote:

In sum, the decisive question is and likely shall always remain, if what one claims is true, what changes?

If you found out that God exists and that he was infinitely good (by your own highest standards of justice) and that you had the possibility to be together with him and anyone you loved in a state of eternal happiness, that wouldn't change anything for you? The hope that all the evil, all the suffering in this world did not have the last word, you wouldn't care about that?

If you can demonstrate that what you say is true in a way that will be instantly accepted by everyone due to the overwhelming validity of evidence that has suddenly appeared in support of your claim, I might be swayed.

This is where you've hit the nail on the head: one has to "find this out" first, which is the typical ruse of the believer.

Let's distinguish between the different topics at hand:

1. Are questions about God or the afterlife meaningful? I say yes because they have a great impact on our perception of life in general and on our actions. You agree with this but still hold that beliefs themselves are irrelevant. That seems contradictory to me. How would you define the terms relevant/irrelevant? When is something relevant in your opinion?

2. Can I prove God's existence to you? No. Others might (Aquinas/Feser, New Apologetics). These arguments are the ones that seem most interesting to me. I can't tell you if they actually succeed, though, because I don't know enough about metaphysics and modal logic. Since you consider it possible for God to exist (You requested evidence for God which presupposes the logical possibility of his existence.) the modal ontological argument in Part I Article 1 of NA's Tractatus may be most interesting to you because it is supposed to show that "If it is logically possible that God exists, then it is logically necessary that God exists."

3. Can you only believe in God when his existence has been proven? I say no: This is one of the most fundamental questions to ask and I am not sure about the answer. It's an open question for me. What I do know, though, is that everything I consider valuable in my life - truth, justice, love - converges in this idea of God. It gives meaning to my life in a way that nothing else possibly could. I am deeply drawn towards the good that springs from this. Now, as long as I am not sure about God's existence, it seems most rational to me to suppose the best possible options. So far this has been the concept of God that is taught by the Catholic Church.

---

metivier wrote:

And in the demonstrably true lies extraordinary happiness. Here. Now. Not later or in an eternity that all available evidence suggests no life will ever enjoy.

Sure, as long you and your close ones aren't threatened by hunger, diseases or tyrants - like most people throughout most parts of history.

[I am not saying that you should make things up because reality is too hard to bear. What I am saying is: Without hope for more this world is a tragedy.]

---

metivier wrote:

In any case, what is persistently missing in this discussion is a bridge to mnemonics. If someone were talking about, for example, the seeming unbelievability of memory techniques and the miracles they promise and how one needs to "witness" about their power and how such preternatural displays relate to religious conversion, then this would be an interesting discussion. I don't think there's much of a relationship there due to the absolute grounding of mnemonics in science, but there's still a touch of exploration that could be fruitful.

Otherwise, I kindly suggest that the OP consider talking about how he uses memory techniques to contain all of this vast information in his mind or rest his wrists. It's the memory techniques that are worth debating over and you could do more to forward your cause and create interest by framing your beliefs and its prologemena in what people are primarily here to discuss.

This is the Offtopic-section and the OP did not ask about the connection between religion and mnemonics. It's his thread, so no such connection is needed. I agree, though, that this connection would be interesting to explore.

As for mnemonics being absolutely grounded in science, I don't know what you mean by that. Mnemonics are not hypotheses about the natural world, so they aren't falsifiable. Mnemonics is not descriptive (like physics) but constructive (like carpentry). Because of that I'd rather consider it a form of art or craft.
Anyways, it seems to me that christian thinkers have had a major influence in the history of mnemonics. Even if you only name the priests/monks you get Thomas Aquinas among other scholastics, Richard Grey, Gregor von Feinaigle, Matteo Ricci, Christian August Lebrecht Kästner, M. Johann Heinrich Döbel, Johannes Buno and Giordano Bruno. Of course I wouldn't claim that mnemonics are grounded in theology because of that. I'd say that they can be a useful tool in prayer and adoration.

---

metivier wrote:

Let's switch things out and see how this works:

If you believe in Santa Claus you are wrong. If you don't believe in Santa Claus you are wrong.

If you believe in the Tooth Fairy you are wrong. If you don't believe in the Tooth Fairy you are wrong.

If you believe in the Easter Bunny you are wrong. If you don't believe in Easter Bunny you are wrong.

Everyone of us knows that the tooth fairy, the easter bunny etc don't exist. We are not sure whether God exists. You can of course claim that he doesn't - but lining him up with figures that everybody knows don't exist is merely to beg the question.

Best regards!

tom

22 April, 2014 - 23:12
Offline
Joined: 4 years 1 month ago

I'm impressed with the civility here. Thank you all very much for that.

I wanted to allow some momentum to gather before I contributed anything myself, but now there's quite some reading to do in order to catch up. I first want to counter this idea from Bateman's first post above:

"I don't believe there really are any arguments; their belief is not based in reason, it's based in a deep-seated need to believe. I wish there was an afterlife or a soul, but there is no reason to believe there is one."

These people, whose belief is not based in reason but in a deep-seated need to believe, are out there. As are dogmatists who will champion almost any conceivable creed.

But 1)there are good reasons, not dogmatic ones, to posit an immaterial soul, and I'll stick my neck out a little bit here and say that I even think 2) there are good reasons to posit a soul that outlives the death of the body, which is a far more demanding proposition. But I'll state a clear defense for the former.

1)The first good reason a person may posit an immaterial soul is that for all our understanding of matter, a description of how consciousness may arise from it is wholly lacking. I'm not just saying that scientists haven't gotten to the answer yet, I'm saying that they don't even know where to look. They don't even know the questions to ask, because a fully-reconciled physical theory of the mechanisms by which consciousness can arise from matter isn't even visible out there on the horizon. The information we have now is absolutely inadequate to tackle this question. The perfect time to posit new entities and mechanisms to form the outlines of something that resembles an answer is when there is no other way to do it. And we're in that boat right now.

An immaterial substance that could interact in some way with matter could produce consciousness in theory, so in attempting to answer this question, an immaterial soul is as good a place to start as any other.

2) And as a point in favor of the soul's existence outliving the death of the body, I only have to assert that this posited soul is necessary for the existence of mind, and then to point to the existence of mind after the death of the body. It should be enough to ward off the notion that a soul's surviving the death of the body is too "silly" to warrant serious consideration.

"Near Death Experiences" is a term for reports of experiences (mind) that occur to people from time to time in certain situations. There are common threads of experiences even across cultures.

It is an unfortunate misnomer, because it conceals the very important point that these are often not situations in which a person nearly dies, but situations in which a person actually dies. These people give their reports of these "Near" Death Experiences when life is subsequently restored to them. These are Death Experiences.

Sorry if this was a bit of derailing of a focused topic, but I felt it was worth pointing out none the less and I'll make sure to understand the rest of what has been said in this thread before posting again, I promise :)

23 April, 2014 - 00:33
Offline
Joined: 4 years 3 months ago

tom wrote:

We are not sure whether God exists. You can of course claim that he doesn't - but lining him up with figures that everybody knows don't exist is merely to beg the question.

To beg the question was precisely the intention, both in the context of the discussion and in response to JC, who was not the OP, but who does have fascinating initials in this context.

tom wrote:

This is the Offtopic-section and the OP did not ask about the connection between religion and mnemonics. It's his thread, so no such connection is needed. I agree, though, that this connection would be interesting to explore.tom

As for whether or not the OP asked for a connection between religion or mnemonics does not trump nor is granted immunity from questions about mnemonics in an off-topic mnemonics forum. And in an off-topic way, I am suggesting that such a question is needed. The OP is free to evade the question after "begging the question" by posting it in public - in this place - and each person can decide how that reflects upon the bulk of material that OP has used this occasion to present.

Nonetheless, as you kindly point out ...

...

tom wrote:

christian thinkers have had a major influence in the history of mnemonics. Even if you only name the priests/monks you get Thomas Aquinas among other scholastics, Richard Grey, Gregor von Feinaigle, Matteo Ricci, Christian August Lebrecht Kästner, M. Johann Heinrich Döbel, Johannes Buno and Giordano Bruno. Of course I wouldn't claim that mnemonics are grounded in theology because of that. I'd say that they can be a useful tool in prayer and adoration.

They sure can be a useful tool in prayer and even as a non-believer, I've written a book about doing it. But the influence of religious thinkers in the preservation and distribution of mnemonics throughout history supports none of the positions formulating here.

tom wrote:

As for mnemonics being absolutely grounded in science, I don't know what you mean by that. Mnemonics are not hypotheses about the natural world, so they aren't falsifiable. Mnemonics is not descriptive (like physics) but constructive (like carpentry). Because of that I'd rather consider it a form of art or craft.

Many arts and crafts have elements that are scientifically demonstrable in so far as mix this substance with that substance and you get which you can reasonably expect an average person's application to last on a canvas with x intensity supposing y conditions are maintained. Carpentry relies upon principles that have been characterized and demonstrated by science as well. That doesn't make carpentry itself scientific as such, but without those principles ... carpentry, where art though?

As for mnemonics, any studies exist that have demonstrated the validity of mnemonics as a practice with likewise empirical qualities. The experiments are easily repeatable by anyone and the results are predictable in an overwhelming number of cases.

As for deciding that hope must be tied to religion and without it the world is tragedy, people seem to enjoy thinking like that despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. I can't say what will come, but it does seem clear that now is your chance to pursue that line of thought if you wish. I won't be raising a glass to such a position, though I most certainly will share a drink with you (and any of you, regardless of your beliefs) should we have the opportunity to tap glasses.

LociInTheSky wrote:

"Near Death Experiences" is a term for reports of experiences (mind) that occur to people from time to time in certain situations. There are common threads of experiences even across cultures.

It is an unfortunate misnomer, because it conceals the very important point that these are often not situations in which a person nearly dies, but situations in which a person actually dies. These people give their reports of these "Near" Death Experiences when life is subsequently restored to them. These are Death Experiences.

Yet another opportunity to discuss memory and belief in this this thread. I'd be interested how (and if) this connects to false witness syndrome, to take one example where research has been conducted.

LociInTheSky wrote:

Sorry if this was a bit of derailing of a focused topic ...

With all due respect to Tom and the OP, by all means "derail" this public, off-topic conversation without apology. Focus is built from the margin as often as it is from the center.

23 April, 2014 - 06:59
Offline
Joined: 3 years 2 months ago

JC wrote:

My opinion is this: If you believe in God you are wrong. If you don't believe in God you are wrong.

Why? As metivier did, you could say this about anything. If you believe in FSM, you're wrong, and if you don't believe in FSM, you are also wrong. That's simply false. Burden of proof again. You are correct in disbelieving a claim until it has been demonstrated to be true.

@tom: The correct this to do is not believe a claim until it's demonstrated. That is different from believing that the claim is false. The latter requires proof, the former does not.

LociInTheSky wrote:

1)The first good reason a person may posit an immaterial soul is that for all our understanding of matter, a description of how consciousness may arise from it is wholly lacking. I'm not just saying that scientists haven't gotten to the answer yet, I'm saying that they don't even know where to look. They don't even know the questions to ask, because a fully-reconciled physical theory of the mechanisms by which consciousness can arise from matter isn't even visible out there on the horizon. The information we have now is absolutely inadequate to tackle this question. The perfect time to posit new entities and mechanisms to form the outlines of something that resembles an answer is when there is no other way to do it. And we're in that boat right now.

An immaterial substance that could interact in some way with matter could produce consciousness in theory, so in attempting to answer this question, an immaterial soul is as good a place to start as any other.

2) And as a point in favor of the soul's existence outliving the death of the body, I only have to assert that this posited soul is necessary for the existence of mind, and then to point to the existence of mind after the death of the body. It should be enough to ward off the notion that a soul's surviving the death of the body is too "silly" to warrant serious consideration.

1. I always look at this question from this perspective: If we assume that's true, when did it start? Are humans the only species that have this? Do chimpanzees, who share 96-98.8% of our DNA also have this? Give a good reason if they do not. Where in that 1.2-4% of DNA is the answer? And we can continue this down the evolutionary chain... But regardless; How do you know? If scientists don't even know where to look or ask, how can you have the slightest idea of whatever it is?

2. Why do you claim it's necessary? We can alter everything about a person's identity, personality, etc. by altering their brains. See Phineas Gage, Sam Harris, Mac Fedge, this article... (Also combine this with #1. Do mice also require this? I only say mice because of the large amount of experiments we do on them)

Bateman

23 April, 2014 - 16:14
Offline
Joined: 5 years 2 months ago

Philosophers have been debating the monism/dualism issue for a long time. I agree with the views of Michael Shermer expressed in his book "The Believing Brain" when he states that if 'the soul is the unique pattern of information that represents a person, and unless there is some medium to retain the pattern of our personal information after we die, our soul dies with us. In this sense, the soul is the unique pattern of information that represents a person, and unless there is some medium to retain the pattern of our personal information after we die, our soul dies with us. Our bodies are made of proteins, coded by our DNA, so with the disintegration of DNA our protein patterns are lost forever. Our memories and personality are stored in the patterns of neurons firing in our brains and the synaptic connections between them, so when those neurons die and those synaptic connections are broken, it spells the death of our memories and personality. The effect is similar to the ravages of stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease, but absolute and final. No brain, no mind; no body, no soul."

LociInTheSky wrote:

"Near Death Experiences" is a term for reports of experiences (mind) that occur to people from time to time in certain situations. There are common threads of experiences even across cultures.

It is an unfortunate misnomer, because it conceals the very important point that these are often not situations in which a person nearly dies, but situations in which a person actually dies. These people give their reports of these "Near" Death Experiences when life is subsequently restored to them. These are Death Experiences.

Near death experiences are not death experiences. Having your heart stop for 2 to 10 minutes and being promptly resuscitated doesn’t make you ‘clinically dead.’ It only means your heart isn’t beating and you may not be conscious.
Experiences similar to near-death experiences have been experienced by pilots blacking out under g-forces, brain damage, hallucinogenic drugs and reportedly even by electrical stimulation of the right angular gyrus in the temporal lobe. The evidence points to the conclusion that the mind and brain are not separate entities but one and the same.
In any case even if we cannot fully explain a mystery with natural means does not mean it requires a supernatural explanation.

23 April, 2014 - 16:49
Offline
Joined: 3 years 2 months ago

Ah yes, I forgot about degenerative brain disorders. Good points John.

24 April, 2014 - 13:27
JC
JC's picture
Offline
Joined: 2 years 9 months ago

http://gbam.tv/question-asked-to-atheist-which-they-could-not-answer/#.U...

I thought you guys might enjoy this. Please let me know what you think of the questions and answers

24 April, 2014 - 14:01
JC
JC's picture
Offline
Joined: 2 years 9 months ago

Hi Bateman

My reasoning is that there is no solid proof of Gods existence, and there is no solid proof that he doesn't exist. Therefore believing in either is incorrect.

Could you please elaborate on why you say it is simply false?

24 April, 2014 - 15:05
Offline
Joined: 1 year 10 months ago

JC wrote:

Please let me know what you think of the questions and answers

I don't think that evolution and religion are incompatible, and I'm very interested in evolution, so I'll post an opinion. :)

I didn't watch the whole thing, but regarding Ray Comfort's question about whether there are examples of intermediate species (or "kinds" as he puts it), the answer is yes. See this fish and this list of transitional fossils.

Basically, scientists used knowledge of evolution and geology to predict the exact location where they might find a certain type of intermediate species. Then they went to that location, and found it right where they expected it:

Evolutionary theory (complemented by an extensive knowledge of geology) predicted not only that this fish would have existed, but also that its fossilized remains would probably be found within a specific part of the world, in geological layers of a particular age. Hence, Shubin's many trips with his team to the Canadian Arctic, where those rock layers could be found. "We designed this expedition with the goal of finding this exact fossil," explains Shubin. "And we used the tools of evolution and geology as discovery tools to make a prediction about where to look. And the prediction was confirmed." Tiktaalik isn't just proof of evolution; it's also proof that the scientific process works.

Many religious people believe in evolution, so I don't think that the ideas are incompatible at all. If some parts of the Bible can be taken metaphorically, why can't the length and order of the creation story also be taken metaphorically?

There is a really interesting documentary about evolution/creationism that explains where and why evolution and Intelligent Design disagree. If I recall correctly, people on all sides of the lawsuit were religious, including the ones that defended evolution. Check it out at the link below:

http://youtu.be/x2xyrel-2vI

24 April, 2014 - 15:29
Offline
Joined: 3 years 2 months ago

Josh pretty much said what I would. There are intermediate fossils. Technically, all fossils are intermediates, there are no "perfect specimens" or "complete species".

@JC: As I said a couple comments ago, there is a difference between believing a claim is false, and not believing that it's true. Without providing any evidence or argument for it, it would be incorrect to claim that "god" does not exist, or that he does. But it is correct to disbelieve(not accept as valid, or not believe) an unsubstantiated claim either way.

It's a little bit like court cases. You are voted guilty or not guilty based on the evidence. It's not whether you are guilty or innocent. It's just, is the evidence compelling enough to say that you are guilty? If it's not, you are not guilty. It's not the same as being innocent.

Check out here if still confused.

Bateman

27 April, 2014 - 05:58
Offline
Joined: 2 years 10 months ago

Josh, I agree with you. Evolution is not exclusive with religious beliefs. I'm not even sure that it requires a figurative translation of the bible. The bible says that god created the heavens and the earth, not how god created the heavens and the earth. God must be a minimalist and evolution seems like a minimalist doctrine. He is perfectly efficient.

Loci, John and Bateman: I'm not sure you're hitting the mark on the near death experiences. I'm still not educated on this topic, so feel free to point out my views flaws, but from what I have read it seems that psychological and neurological effects can't account for what is going on.

At the onset of clinical death, consciousness is lost within several seconds. Measurable brain activity stops within 20 to 40 seconds

Clinical Death

Of the nearly 800 testimonies that the Durham, N.C.-based International Association for Near-Death Studies has catalogued, about a quarter happened while people were clinically dead.

Huffington post

Some scientists have suggested that they are creations of the mind, with a lack of oxygen and an awry mix of brain chemicals being responsible for visions and the sense of being out of the body. Accounts also vary of what people see, though similarities such as intense light and feelings of peace and wonder are common.

Huffington post

neurophysiological processes must play some part in NDE. Similar experiences can be induced through electrical stimulation of the temporal lobe (and hence of the hippocampus) during neurosurgery for epilepsy, with high carbon dioxide levels (hypercarbia), and in decreased cerebral perfusion resulting in local cerebral hypoxia as in rapid acceleration during training of fighter pilots, or as in hyperventilation followed by Valsalva manoeuvre. Ketamine-induced experiences resulting from blockage of the NMDA receptor, and the role of endorphin, serotonin, and enkephalin have also been mentioned, as have near-death-like experiences after the use of LSD, psilocarpine, and mescaline. These induced experiences can consist of unconsciousness, out-of-body experiences, and perception of light or flashes of recollection from the past. These recollections, however, consist of fragmented and random memories unlike the panoramic life-review that can occur in NDE. Further, transformational processes with changing life-insight and disappearance of fear of death are rarely reported after induced experiences.
Thus, induced experiences are not identical to NDE...*

Skepdic Article

It is possible that others had NDEs but don't remember them due either to brain damage, to different abilities in short term memory, or to the timing of their experience vis-à-vis when they regained consciousness. The only significant factor between the NDEers and non-NDEers in the Dutch study, according to van Lommel and his colleagues, was age: those who had NDEs tended to be younger. This is partly due to the fact that older cardiac arrest patients are more likely to die than younger ones, but it may also be partly due the fact that younger brains are more likely to have better short term memory functions than older brains.

Skepdic

Over the years, some have theorized that NDEs result when the brain is deprived of oxygen, or when a mysterious, yet-unverified chemical binds itself to neurons in an effort to protect them from that deprivation. Still others think that the brain's impending shutdown triggers a flood of euphoria-causing endorphins, or electrical discharges in the hippocampus (the brain area involved in memory), while others think the state is caused by the side effects of anesthesia or medications.
However, so far, science has failed to come up with an airtight explanation for NDEs. In the largest-ever study of the phenomenon, published in the Lancet in 2001, Dutch physicians interviewed 344 mostly elderly hospital patients who survived brushes with death in which their hearts stopped. Only 18 percent of them reported experiencing NDEs, and the researchers found no link to the amount of time they were in cardiac arrest, or the drugs they were given.

Howstuff works

Since then, a 2010 study published in the journal Clinical Care offers yet another possible explanation. Researchers looked at blood samples taken from 52 patients shortly after they'd survived cardiac arrest. The 11 patients who reported experiencing NDEs tended to have significantly higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in their bloodstreams. This data jibes with other studies that have linked high CO2 levels with visual hallucinations. And mountain climbers who've experienced CO2 spikes at high altitudes have reported seeing bright lights and having other hallucinations similar to NDEs. But again, the researchers only offer a caveat. Not every patient in the study who had high CO2 levels had an NDE.

Howstuff Works

So, CO 2 can't explain it, just about everyone has one in death or in near death (memory correlates to having one), even if they can't remember them, induced experiences cannot provide anything quite like them, medications don't matter, a huge portion happen when all brain function is gone, although to provide a non-religious explanation oxygen deprivation and chemical imbalances have been said to cause it (it doesn't seem like you could have a detailed experience like that without any electrical activity. Just saying. No neurons pumping? really?) What would be the evolutionary advantage of commonness in near death experiences too? Or even having them? Doesn't make much sense to me since, especially in ancient times, very few had them. Still today few have them, even with modern resuscitation technology. It seems the metaphysical explanation is the most logical right now. People left their bodies.

Edit: I'm going to explain my no electrical activity reasoning better.Here's my reasoning. LSD and other things cause people to hallucinate by changing their neurotransmitter levels in some way and your neurotransmitters change the electrical activity in the brain. But if you have no electrical activity then neurotransmitters don't matter. You couldn't possibly see anything. Now this is just from my knowledge from Neuroscience for Dummies and High School Biology, but I have yet to see how the neurotransmitters could change anything if you don't have any electrical activity. If the ion pumps aren't working, you shouldn't hallucinate.

As far as TBI's etc, there must be a great deal of communication between the mind and the soul and a TBI could easily disrupt or distort both. Not sure it proves or disproves religion or the soul in any sense. Identity doesn't have to be completely encoded in the soul or is it encoded completely in the soul in my view or my religion's view.

Interesting Parallel to Mormon doctrine:

Atwater (1992) reports that only adults in her sample experienced distressing NDEs, not children.[46]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_experience

1 May, 2014 - 11:27
Offline
Joined: 2 years 8 months ago

I grew up in the church and was excited about it until I was almost 19(5-6 years ago). Which is right before Mormons typically leave on a mission. I figured I would research and find all the knock down arguments in support of Mormonism and stabilize my faith completely before taking it to other people. This is not typically recommended by Mormons authorities though, which should have set off some red flags at the time. Needless to say, I didn't find what I was expecting. It's sort of soul crushing when you find out those villainous "anti-Mormons" you've been raised to deeply mistrust are normal people who actually have really good arguments.(Except for some of the stereotypical crazies picketing outside the temple) :P

For a long time I went back and forth about probabilities and what seems more or less likely given information that Joseph Smith had access too like some posts on this thread have been talking about. While Mormonism insists information wasn't available back then, and he couldn't have known certain things, there is also evidence that he very well may have: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/View_of_the_Hebrews#Comparison_with_Book_of_Mormon. And while Mormonism insists that the book of Mormon is historically accurate, a lot of it is just wrong and full of mistakes you would expect from someone living where Joseph did. Like how he used local animals and technologies for what he thought would be in the Americas during book of Mormon times. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anachronisms_in_the_Book_of_Mormon

Critics will point out where Joseph Smith was wrong, and the apologists will give examples or anecdotes of how it could still be possible if you look at it a certain way. None of that really matters because to a lot of Mormons, even if there is a small chance, the concept of faith, and a strong mistrust for any information the church doesn't give you, makes it feasible to still believe. That's basically where I was after researching for a while. That is until I found out about two more facts that were flat out the end of Mormonism for me.

First, was finding out how the Book of Abraham was translated and put together. Long story short, unlike the gold plates which conveniently disappeared when people wanted proof, we actually have the papyri used to translate the book of Abraham. While in Joseph Smith's day nobody knew how to translate something like this, when they were reexamined in the 60's by actual Egyptologists, it's clear Joseph Smith's translation was way off, and he had no idea what was written on them. : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Abraham

The second piece of information was learning that the Mormon temple rituals in a lot of ways directly copied the Freemasons, and their rituals (secrecy, hand signs, masonic symbols ). And if there is any ambiguity on that point, Joseph smith himself wrote in "History of the Church" about joining the masons and going up in the ranks. Soon after joining, lo and behold, he gets a new revelation about creating the Mormon temple rituals. The same big square and compass symbols that are on the front of every masonic lodge are the same ones that are on the garments all Mormons wear after going through the temple. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Freemasonry#Historical_connections

The fact that both of these lines of argument use documents from the church itself, such as the papyri and writings from Joseph smith to make their point, and the fact that the church doesn't ever mention of any of this to it's members was just far too compelling for me to ignore.

Anyway, sorry for the wall of text. It seemed relevant to some of the posts on this thread.

3 May, 2014 - 11:08
Offline
Joined: 2 years 10 months ago

"It's sort of soul crushing when you find out those villainous "anti-Mormons" you've been raised to deeply mistrust are normal people who actually have really good arguments"

Like the Spalding-Rigdon Theory or that Joseph Smith Wrote the Book of Mormon?

Fairmormon article
Jocker's Rebuttal Neil A. Maxwell Institute
Yes, they are normal people and they aren't necessarily "villainous," but they don't have good arguments. They do tend to misquote a lot though.

I just finished doing my research on wordprints. Fascinating stuff. That's a good introduction, although there are naturally objections. I can explain any for you, if you wish to raise some.

"There is also evidence that he very well may have: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/View_of_the_Hebrews#Comparison_with_Book_of...."

Have you ever read View of the Hebrews? Is it really just more than chance?
Some interesting stuff on that...
View of Hebrews

"First, was finding out how the Book of Abraham was translated and put together. Long story short, unlike the gold plates which conveniently disappeared when people wanted proof, we actually have the papyri used to translate the book of Abraham. While in Joseph Smith's day nobody knew how to translate something like this, when they were reexamined in the 60's by actual Egyptologists, it's clear Joseph Smith's translation was way off, and he had no idea what was written on them. : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Abraham"

Off, but perhaps not off enough?

Lindsay
Mormon Challenges.org

Skipped over temple section of your post...

3 May, 2014 - 11:11
Offline
Joined: 2 years 10 months ago

All arguments for and against must take into account the chance factor. Not sure either side has been very good about this... Definitely read View of the Hebrews and note all similarities. Then read some other novels. I plan on doing this soon as well.

4 May, 2014 - 06:37
Offline
Joined: 2 years 8 months ago

Yeah, I've spent a lot of time on those sites early on as a home base. They did a good job of sort making me go back and forth at first and giving me hope, but the longer you spend looking at both sides critically, it becomes clearer and clearer who is on the back foot as far as evidence goes. Like I said before, on almost all the issues, its critics putting forward powerful arguments, and then Mormon apologists basically showing where all the pockets of hope still may exist. But with DNA evidence, shady polygamy practices including journal testimonies, Kinder hook plates and Josephs comments about it, BoM anachronisms, Book of Abraham, old temple practices and history, and questionable statements and practices from past prophets that are now ignored, It just becomes too much for someone wanting to be intellectually honest to support.

While apologetics can still keep some entrenched Mormons believing with a generous helping of faith, it isn't the least bit convincing to those who don't already believe or are new. Which is why the Mormon church doesn't tell the new members\investigators any of this(Even the basics accepted by Mormons in the know). If I would have known, and told these things to my investigating friends back before they were baptized I know for a fact they would have left on the spot(even including apologetic arguments). Which makes me wonder how strong a position really is if I would have to wait until a person has their whole lives and\or family invested in it in before letting them even find out about something as basic as temple rituals or practices their own faith had in the past. You seem like a pretty evidence oriented person, and even you can't bring yourself too even hear anything involving the temple even though it's a somewhat key part of the discussion in a lot of cases.

While reading apologist material, notice how a large percent of their rebuttals are essentially saying " If you look at it this way, there is still a possibility." and also keep in mind that if the average church going Mormon was asked to accept the same premises that the Mormon scholars accept, there would be significantly less Mormons.

4 May, 2014 - 18:02
Offline
Joined: 2 years 10 months ago

DNA Evidence:
DNA
1/3 are Eurasian, although they aren't the BoM peoples. Definitely a trend towards diffusionism in anthropology now.
Kon-Tiki
Ever heard of this? The ancients could do way more than we give them credit for. Just look to the pyramids... Totally plausible, even likely that at least a few groups from Eurasia would sail to the Americas.

"While reading apologist material, notice how a large percent of their rebuttals are essentially saying " If you look at it this way, there is still a possibility." and also keep in mind that if the average church going Mormon was asked to accept the same premises that the Mormon scholars accept, there would be significantly less Mormons."

I have noticed

BoM Anachronisms: The only three that don't make sense are horses, chariots and swords. My Uncle who lives in Tuscan calls Javelina's "pigs." That never seemed problematic to me, actually it seemed realistic...

BoA: It actually seems to be evidence for the church... Joseph Smith knew more than chance or intuition when nobody knew anything.

"Old temple practices and history, and questionable statements and practices from past prophets that are now ignored, It just becomes too much for someone wanting to be intellectually honest to support"

Not sure if that convinces me either way. Logically culture would influence prophets the same way it influences us. Prophets aren't any biologically different than us. They're just men with a responsibility. That is not a change in stance. And when you're creating or getting revealed a new church it would naturally take a long time to adapt everyone to the new system and hierarchy. Unless they were to break the laws of physics and stay in the same point in time to adapt. I do agree with you that some of the changes in the church appear to be related to outside or internal pressures and not revelation, with revelation being a guise to promote change in members, but the chance factor must be considered. How many changes that are not controversial are left unnoticed? If there have been 100,000 changes to the Book of Mormon and only around 40 are controversial shouldn't that say something?

"keep in mind that if the average church going Mormon was asked to accept the same premises that the Mormon scholars accept, there would be significantly less Mormons." Perhaps. Like you did, I hop back and forth.

Kinderhook Plates: The fairmormon.org analysis of this one is relatively convincing, although I haven't made my conclusions on this issue yet.

How long did you spend reviewing the evidence pro and con? I've often wondered if dissenters from the church didn't enough time reviewing and gave up on the church early while those on fair and other sites are the ones who have spent the most time reviewing it.

5 May, 2014 - 05:32
Offline
Joined: 2 years 8 months ago

If you view the Book of Abraham as support for Joseph Smith, I feel like either you are reading only what apologists write (though even then it would be hard get that message), or you don't fully understand the criticism.

He wasn't just imposing this Abraham story on some random Egyptian text, which would still look bad, but it was on a well known and common cultural text that has a specific goal for burying dead. Trying to pretend it could have something to do with what is written in the Book of Abraham in light of that seems silly. To make matters worse, he actually tried to draw in the missing pieces of the facsimiles(which the egyptologists specifically noticed was incorrect before even seeing the originals). These changes ranged from pretty wrong when drawing the wrong head and adding a knife to one scene, to almost comical when the missing text was copied from other papyri and written back in upside down. Then, things just get worse from there when you include the Kirkland Egyptian papers, which was the Egyptian alphabet that Joseph Smith had constructed to translate the Book of Abraham, and it appears to have nothing to do with Egyptian. How can you possibly look at that as a positive for BoM evidence? It seems like the absolute worst case scenario. Positive evidence would be something along the lines of actually mentioning the name of the person the whole text is supposed to be about for a start. Instead it talks about an Egyptian guy named 'Hor' over and over which fits the context much better. (A high society Egyptian man being buried with text about a Jew would be really strange.)

Assuming the church was true, and the Book of Mormon really was a history of ancient people, the main line of attack should simply be doing basic archaeology. It's really not too much to ask for that as new evidence is uncovered about the world, that it actually supports the book of Mormon's hypothesis instead of giving new reasons to doubt. It never does, and apologists again and again have to come up with reasons why things might still be ok.

I didn't take what at the time seemed like a choice of eternal consequences lightly. I dedicated a lot of my time to looking at all the evidence. Way too long now that I look back and see my bias though. I wouldn't have given all the other religions out there a fraction of that time.

It's much more comfortable now that I directly proportion my beliefs to the amount of evidence and not to the fact there is a mere possibility. ( Almost any worldview could work with that level of skepticism. )

5 May, 2014 - 10:01
Offline
Joined: 2 years 10 months ago

I was referring to the fact that The Book of Abraham actually parallels other things we now know about Abraham. Many new writings have surfaced since the 1830s and they have verified the story of the Book of Abraham, not the translation. I find that backs up one of the primary apologetic arguments quite well. That the text was copied and eventually distorted (not inconceivable with the Egyptians obsession with history.) Joseph then translated the original. The only troubling point in that theory is the Egyptus anachronism.

Perhaps you could consider it evidence against, but it is weak evidence for sure.

As for his Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar? Have you ever heard of Kabbalah? Kabbalah Its a method of decoding encoded information to prevent unready minds from learning of it. Very suggestive. The Jews came up with it.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Now i'm going to go on the attack front with my list of proofs and prophetic instances.

Wordprints: Article After having discounted every one of the critics theories can you honestly say there is any chance at all that the BoM (Book of Mormon) isn't true? Critics are getting pushed back into smaller and smaller corners with weaker and weaker evidence for them. Still on every anti-mormon think tank website critics have resulted to hundred year old theories that have weak historical cases and have been mathematically disproved. The Joseph Smith author theory and Spalding-Rigdon theories are the only two that I have been able to find. They make no sense. Basically, there is no historical argument for anyone else and everyone who had a historical argument is now eliminated.

Stephen A. Douglas Prophecy:

May 18th, 1843:--Dined with Judge Stephen A. Douglas, who is presiding at court. After dinner Judge Douglas requested President Smith to give him a history of the Missouri persecution, which he did in a very minute manner for about three hours. He also gave a relation of his journey to Washington city, and his application in behalf of the saints to Mr. Van Buren, the president of the United States, for redress, and Mr. Van Buren's pusillanimous reply--'Gentlemen, your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you;' and the cold, unfeeling manner in which he was treated by most of the senators and representatives in relation to the subject, Clay saying, 'You had better go to Oregon,' and Calhoun shaking his head solemnly, saying, 'It's a nice question--a critical question; but it will not do to agitate it.'
The judge listened with the greatest attention, and then spoke warmly in deprecation of Governor Boggs and the authorities in Missouri, who had taken part in the extermination, and said that any people that would do as the mobs of Missouri had done ought to be brought to judgment; they ought to be punished.
President Smith, in concluding his remarks, said that 'if the government, which receives into its coffers the money of citizens for its public lands, while its officials are rolling in luxury at the expense of its public treasury, cannot protect such citizens in their lives and property, it is an old granny anyhow, and I prophesy in the name of the Lord of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the saints in the state of Missouri and punish crimes committed by her officers, that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left, for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women and children and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished, thereby perpetrating a foul and corroding blot upon the fair fame of this great republic, the very thought of which would have caused the high-minded and patriotic framers of the Constitution of the United States to hide their faces with shame. Judge, you will aspire to the presidency of the United States; and if you ever turn your hand against me or the Latter-day Saints, you will feel the weight of the hand of the Almighty upon you; and you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you; for the conversation of this day will stick to you through life.'. . .

There is no good critique of this prophecy. Something that critics hate. I will elaborate.

Not a potsherd left: Dissolution of the whigs (an overthrow of the government in essence.) + Civil War + Expansion of Federal Government power. Any potsherds of the old government left? Not really. Small chance he would predict this correctly? Yes. After 1832, very few thought a civil war would happen, perhaps none except JS.

JS (Joseph Smith) also predicted that "Judge, you will aspire to the presidency of the United States; and if you ever turn your hand against me or the Latter-day Saints, you will feel the weight of the hand of the Almighty upon you; and you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you; for the conversation of this day will stick to you through life.'. . ." which basically means that Stephen A. Douglas would run for president and that something bad would happen to him if he slandered against the Mormon's in Nauvoo.

He did and he lost to Lincoln and died a month later rather unexpectedly. What are his chances of running for president when Joseph made the prophecy?

Chances < 43 (number of presidents)/12,106 (Number of individuals serving as senators +/ congressmen) = 0.0035519577% of being correct.

Edit: My numbers are way off. I'm going to update them. Lol, i'm not a math guy at all.

Edit2: Presidents and their offices. Lots of different ways to become president. I'm not going to do a statistical study, because of time constrains, but ask yourself if that proposition would seem likely at all at the time and why JS picked Douglas, not some other person in the room or some other congressmen or even made a prophecy at all. Definitely evidence for the Mormon church.

Why are the chances less than even that amazingly small number? Stephen A. Douglas was still a judge (he was running for congress) when the prophecy was made. In his project Gutenberg bio it says that he had to ride a horse around campaigning in the country. Not a sign of someone who is guaranteed to win. These are very long odds. Gutenberg Bio. It was not obvious that he would be president (just demonstrated,) nor was the prophecy forged as some have suggested. Forged Prophecy?

Dead Sea Scrolls (dramatic, non-chance accountable similarities.) Hugh Nibley has done a lot on this.

Textual Evidence: Smarter Dictated Text. Royal Skousen has done a lot in this area and there's tons more than is just shown there.

Golden Plates in a stone box?

Slightly convincing NHM thing. I'm skeptical of this one still.

What about the coronation ceremony in Mosiah too? Perfect replica of ancient practices. Or Sheum? That's an Akkadian term. We hadn't even deciphered their language yet. Akkadian language. Weights and Measures, Sheum and neas.

At this point if you deny the possibility of divine intervention, nobody wrote the Book of Mormon. It's simply not possible.

This seems to be the best critics can do:

2 Anacronisms (Horses and Chariots.) The loan-shifting explanation is actually backed up by the Book of Mormon (or not put down) in all other instances. In essence the Book of Mormon suggests loan-shifting in most of the anachronistic cases and when it doesn't it doesn't go against the loan-shifting theory. Loan-shifting has been historically verified across cultures. It is factual, likely, and does not represent a weakness.
BoA: I just explained that one. It's at least weak evidence against and at most a little evidence for.
Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar: This ones actually a pretty good one, but there's still some possibility. As I explained it has to do with Kaballah.
Free Will: The best argument against, but perhaps possible.
Shady History: Most of this is understandable and justifiable given culture, mistakes, logic, etc. There are a few cases where that isn't so however. Polygamy is one of those cases
Probability: Some Mormon claims seem fantastic. Critics try to provide historical possibilities that are more likely. Most of these make no sense or have been historically or mathematically disproven. I have yet to run into one that makes any sense given wordprint studies and our knowledge of Mormon history.
Edit: Chance: Not enough parallels to be significant. (Not true in my view.)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I'll take Pascals wager.

Edit: Sorry, if I offended you in asking how much time you spent. I should not have made that assumption or question. Of course you would take those things seriously. Any sane man would and I have no cause to think you insane. Let me know if I let any negative emotions bleed through guys. Nobody deserves that.

Intelligent Introvert

6 May, 2014 - 05:00
Offline
Joined: 5 years 2 months ago

Hi Intelligent Introvert
It seems like you are really doing your homework on this. Keep at it. The truth is out there.
May I recommend that you do some research on the the principle of "inference to the best explanation".
John

6 May, 2014 - 08:07
Offline
Joined: 2 years 8 months ago

Pascals wager is considered one of the easiest arguments to refute if you just consider the fact that it works exactly the same for all religions. If it somehow gives credibility to Mormonism, it would give even more to a religion like Islam, or any religion with a painful hell.(More to lose if you are wrong.)
It's considered one of the weakest arguments out there in debate circles.

I have found "fulfilled" prophecies to be one of the least convincing arguments as well. They usually have far to many flaws. They are either interpreted as loosely as they need to be to make the prophecy work, don't have an end date on when it should take place so you'll never know if it's wrong, or have some other sort of built in fail-safe. If it looks too bad to even make a leap, some sort of get out of jail free card is played. For example, saying if the saints are righteous, X will happen, so when X doesn't happen, you just assume the saints weren't righteous enough, Or the apologist staple that " he was speaking as a man. " These kinds of excuses aren't compelling to anyone that doesn't already believe. If the prophecy isn't falsifiable, it really doesn't do much to establish credibility for a position.

Believers seem to lower their skepticism enough to let anything pass for evidence when it comes to their religion. For example, how seriously do you take these prophecies? You probably aren't compelled to join Islam now right? Everybody's pet holy man makes predictions that they view as true. To honestly evaluate these things you have to approach it with the same mindset you would approach those Muhammad prophecies, and though you seem to buy whatever excuse Mormon apologists come up with,I have a feeling you wouldn't have the same acceptance of excuses given by Islamic apologists for what seems to be their failed prophecies. Even if Joseph had gotten something right, it means nothing in light of all the misses(Or apologist dodges). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_prophecies_of_Joseph_Smith

In order for a prophecy to be credible in light of this fact, it needs to be narrow and specific, falsifiable, and be set up in a way that the person doesn't have the ability to influence the outcome(sounds a little like the scientific method huh?).

A politically savvy person like Joseph Smith predicting someone running for president, after having directly talked to him about it seems far less than compelling, and It seems like the same US government has been going strong to me. The fact that the dissolution of the wigs counts as an overthrow of the government to you, is exactly the kind of loose interpretation that I was talking about, and needs to be removed as a possibility when making prophecies. The last part of that same prophecy that you didn't bother mention says that the war would be poured out on all nations.This clearly didn't come true unless you go way out of context to accept any future war that would ever happen involving other nations.(Which Mormon apologists probably would :p )

6 May, 2014 - 12:46
Offline
Joined: 2 years 10 months ago

"Pascals wager is considered one of the easiest arguments to refute if you just consider the fact that it works exactly the same for all religions. If it somehow gives credibility to Mormonism, it would give even more to a religion like Islam, or any religion with a painful hell.(More to lose if you are wrong.)
It's considered one of the weakest arguments out there in debate circles."

Ok? Again, I'm not proving anything with this. It doesn't give credibility to Mormonism. It makes the evidence needed to be motivated to live the lifestyle lower because of the risk/reward ratio.

"It would give even more to a religion like Islam, or any religion with a painful hell.(More to lose if you are wrong.)
It's considered one of the weakest arguments out there in debate circles."

Obviously

"Believers seem to lower their skepticism enough to let anything pass for evidence when it comes to their religion. For example, how seriously do you take these prophecies?"

Interesting. Thx for the link.

"In order for a prophecy to be credible in light of this fact, it needs to be narrow and specific, falsifiable, and be set up in a way that the person doesn't have the ability to influence the outcome(sounds a little like the scientific method huh?)."

Again, Obviously.

"A politically savvy person like Joseph Smith predicting someone running for president, after having directly talked to him about it seems far less than compelling, and It seems like the same US government has been going strong to me."

Correction: He hadn't just talked to him about it, and no matter how politically savvy you are, getting a candidate right when he's in his careers infancy is a long shot. The Civil War wasn't strong? 4,000,000 deaths? There are enough strands to form a tight one, but I agree, its not all that compelling if what you're saying about the others is true, but I haven't done an extensive analyses of prophecies yet. Idk whether they're near misses, failed or true, or what the ratio is. So i'll let you have this one.

Great refutation of this prophecy. I've never heard any good refutation of it before and i've looked hard.

I've still never found good refutations for wordprints or the thousands of parallels, though. You're avoidance of those is rather telling.

Mesoamerica
420 parallels to ancient Mesoamerica. Note it took this guy his entire life to learn enough to make his conclusions. And I think it said 7 years just to write it. Some of this stuff wasn't known at all in Joseph's day.
Names
Sure, there are possible and more probable sources and if there were misses then it would be great evidence against, but 300 proper names suggests something more than just modifying or adding in Bible names. Lots of modifications can go awry and none did that I know of.
I don't have an exact number for the parallels to early Christianity and ancient Judaism (dead sea scrolls basically) but i'd guess from my reading its well above 200, perhaps even in the thousands.
Middle Eastern Geography Argument
Joseph Smith Cosmology
Jeff Lindsay has many more Parallels on his site. Jeff Lindsay, although some in those previous links are parts of his.
Also as Royal Skousen has noticed, there are tons of Hebraisms, especially in the early editions. I'd guess no non-Hebraic structures were present in the original manuscript from the rate of decline in the number of these through editing.
And there's non-chance accountable Chiasmus. There was a statistical study on this. Chiasmus
I think we're at least into the thousands here (maybe tens of thousands if you count every Hebraic structure in the original.) For a book that focuses on religion and doesn't mention all that many small details its amazing just how much confirmation there is. Like Neil A. Maxwell, I think the BoM is very much falsifiable, both from a scientific and metaphysical perspective. Sure, anybody could spend their lives researching it and writing a Book like the Book of Mormon, but everybody would be restrained by time and the knowledge of their day and age (lots of this stuff wasn't known back then.) They'd also be restrained by their lack of knowledge of a particular subject existing. Everyday I research I find a new area of expertise, a new occupation that I didn't know about before. I definitely agree that the Church underestimates Joseph's education, but I also think the critics overestimate it. Ultimately though, education doesn't matter. There are things nobody knew at the time that are mentioned in the Book of Mormon, lots of things. Maybe you could account for it by chance? The lack of nonparallels is really astounding though. It just seems so unlikely that that is the case. If Joseph wasn't lying about the fact that the BoM was an ancient record, then it seems likely he really did see God.
This was a refutation of...
Coincidences

Here's also a refutation of:
FARMS Recent Defenses
(Notice that the author doesn't compare the number of Hebraisms, poetic forms, etc in the Spalding Manuscript, he just cites examples, which sometimes he can't even do.) (Also check the historical case against Spalding-Rigdon theory.) Historical Case

An Intro to Stylometry (wordprints) for anyone interested:

FAIRMormon Wordprint Article
Jocker's Justification
History of Stylometry
Jocker's Rebuttal

Is this not relatively convincing? Perhaps not enough to convert (that might be against doctrine, i'm not sure.) but at least enough to warrant staying lds?

6 May, 2014 - 12:48
Offline
Joined: 2 years 10 months ago

John, i'll check it out. Thx. If you're referring to my NDE argument, I agree its not all that good. I was more defending Loci than trying to use it in a debate setting.

8 May, 2014 - 13:10
Offline
Joined: 2 years 8 months ago

It doesn't strike me as unthinkable that Joseph Smith could have wrote it himself. It's a substantial project, but doesn't even come close to what I would classify as supernatural. Lots of people have written lots of big books, and since nobody actually knows for sure Joseph Smiths exact level of intelligence and resources available to him, it seems reasonable to assume he simply had what he needed given that the BoM exists.

It's the same way I think about the story of Jesus' resurrection, or miracles in general now. There is no need to jump to supernatural causes for what can be explained much more simply by natural causes. Is it more likely that laws of nature were suspended in these cases and something that we haven't even verified the existence of is the cause, or is it simply that more legends and stories were created, which we know happens all the time.

In the case of the BoM, is it more likely that we are simply missing some information on how something was done, which happens all the time, Or that an actual miracle occurred.

Nobody jumps to the assumption that the Pyramids or Stonehenge were created with the aid of magic or gods just because they were tricky projects that we don't have all the answers to. ( Though some try to push alien theories :p )

8 May, 2014 - 18:54
Offline
Joined: 2 years 10 months ago

Swords, like horses and (chariots is explained by my horse section) are another one. Decided I'd post with a good link.
Swords
Those were the last 3 anachronisms that I had yet to truly examine and find a potential logical reason for.

Learn memory techniques for free! Just click the "Sign up" button below to create an account and we'll send you an email with some tips on how to get started.

Related content: