The above quote is the response I got from a Mormon detractor after I had posted two links (one to a FAIR article, another to a FARMS one) which backed up the arguments I was making. Of course, I am not the first one to be told that LDS scholars are not real scholars, and that they are a joke in the view of all reliable scientific communities. This has been a common tactic by anti-Mormons for years.“And PLEASE stop posting these ridiculous links to FAIR/FARMS. They are NOT well respected members of the scientific community. they're LDS Inc. lackeys that are intent on muddying the waters with junk science that is literaly laughed at by credible scholars and scientists.”
Back in 1997 Paul Owen and Carl Mosser, two Evangelical scholars, essentially debunked this bogus argument when they presented their paper “Mormon Apologetic Scholarship and Evangelical Neglect: Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It?” at the Evangelical Theological Society Far West Annual Meeting. After they read through several LDS scholarly and apologetic articles and books, they came to this startling conclusion: “It appears that we may be losing the battle and not knowing it.”
They proceed to give high praise to LDS scholars and apologists. Here are just a few examples:
On LDS scholarship and Apologetics (Generally)
“There are many evangelical myths concerning Mormon scholarship. The first is that there are few, if any, traditional Mormon scholars with training in fields pertinent to evangelical Mormon debates. This is simply false. It is a myth that when Mormons receive training in historiography, biblical languages, theology and philosophy they invariably abandon traditional LDS believes in the historicity of the Book of Mormon and the prophethood of Joseph Smith. It is a myth that liberal Mormons have so shaken the foundations of LDS believe that Mormonism is crumbling apart. It is a myth that neo-orthodox Mormons have influenced the theology of their Church to such a degree that it will soon abandon traditional emphasis and follow a path similar to the RLDS or the World-Wide Church of God.”
“…there are, contrary to popular evangelical perceptions, legitimate Mormon scholars. We use the term scholar in its formal sense of ‘intellectual, erudite; skilled in intellectual investigation; trained in ancient languages.’”
“Mormon scholars and apologists (not all apologists are scholars) have, with varying degrees of success, answered most of the usual evangelical criticisms. Often these answers adequately diffuse particular (minor) criticisms.”
“… at the academic level evangelicals are losing the debate with the Mormons. We are losing the battle and do not know it. In recent years the sophistication and erudition of LDS apologetics has risen considerably while evangelical responses have not.”
“The scholarship of Mormon writers is often rigorous. In the least their work warrants examination.”On Hugh W. Nibley
“Nibley has produced a seemingly endless stream of books and articles covering a dauntingly vast array of subject matter. Whether writing on Patristics, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Apocrypha, the culture of the Ancient Near East or Mormonism, he demonstrates an impressive command of the original languages, primary texts and secondary literature… The few evangelicals who are aware of Hugh Nibley often dismiss him as a fraud or pseudo-scholar…. The bulk of Nibley's work has gone unchallenged by evangelicals despite the fact that he has been publishing relevant material since 1946…. Whatever flaws may exist in his methodology, Nibley is a scholar of high caliber…. Nibley has also received praise from non-LDS scholars such as Jacob Neusner, James Charlesworth, Cyrus Gordon, Raphael Patai and Jacob Milgrom.”I could go on and on with quotes from this article. Paul Owen and Carl Mosser praise several other LDS scholars specifically and mention the praise they have received from other non-LDS scholars. They also discuss the lofty credentials that many LDS scholars have. I strongly recommend anyone who has any doubt about the credibility of LDS scholars to read the whole article.
Sadly, here we are 13 years later, and people still insist that they are all bogus scholars with no respect. Is it worth mentioning that such an argument is an ad hominem attack? Please, people, if they are really such terrible scholars, then real arguments against what they write really shouldn’t be hard.
For those who still doubt the credibility of LDS scholars, consider some of the credentials of various LDS scholars (note: most of the following information is taken from Michael R. Ash, Shaken Faith Syndrome, pg. 85-90. Much thanks to Ash for complying so much of this information into one source. Like the Mosser and Owen paper, it is commended that the reader consult Ash’s book to see additional credentials for these and other LDS scholars):
John E. Clark
Clark served as the director of the New World Archaeological Foundation for many years (and no, the NWAF was not and is not about Book of Mormon archeology. In fact, many non-LDS scholars have been a part of the NWAF). He authored and co-authored many books on Mesoamerica which have been used as course reading material in various universities, and he is on the editorial board for the Ancient Mesoamerica journal, which is published by Cambridge.
John L. Sorenson
Sorenson co-authored a book on pre-Columbian contact with the Americas which was included on reading lists from Harvard. Another book authored by Sorenson is cited in the American Anthropologist.
Whiting is an evolutionary biologist who had an article featured as the cover story in Nature journal (Jan 16, 2003). He is a member of the scientific review panel for the Systematic Biology program (with the National Science Foundation).
Butler is the Project Leader for the Human Identity DNA Technologies Group (with the National Institute of Standards and Technology). This group was in charge of identifying DNA traces in the wake of the WTC attacks. He is also a member of the FBI’s Scientific Working Group of DNA Analysis Methods, the Department of Defense’s Quality Assurance Oversight Committee on DNA Analysis, and he holds a patent on one of the major methodologies for genetic screening (just in case you didn’t know, since he holds that patent, he very likely invented that methodology). He has also won two awards.
Gee is on the board of directors for the Aziz S. Atiya Fund for Coptic Studies (U of U), and has given presentations at several professional conferences in Egyptology and other related fields, and published in several academic journals, and has been cited by leading Egyptologists.
S. Kent Brown
Brown is a contributor to the Anchor Bible Dictionary and managing editor of the Coptic Encyclopedia.
Tvedtnes is a Hebrew scholar who has presented at several professional Hebrew conferences, including a paper on the “Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon” at the Thirteenth annual World Congress of Jewish Studies. He has also published in several academic journals.
Givens has published several LDS related books through the prestigious Oxford University Press.
John W. Welch
Welch was praised by biblical scholar David Noel Freedman for his role as editor of, and for his contributing article on the Book of Mormon in, Chiasmus in Antiquity. In the preface of that work, Freedman said, “The editor is to be commended for his catholicity and courage, and for his own original contributions in several domains including a unique treatment of the Book of Mormon. His introduction to the whole work is indispensable.”
Daniel C. Peterson
Out of all of these, Peterson is the most active in LDS apologetics. As such, he is frequently the biggest target of ridicule. Oddly enough, he also has been praised by non-LDS scholars. He is the editor-in-chief of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (METI) and has published with non-LDS academic publishers. According to Hossein Ziai, the Director Iranian Studies at UCLA, Peterson is a “fine scholar,” who has “established himself as a well respected scholar” in Islamic studies. METI has “made a lasting contribution to the scholarly activity of Islamic intellectual traditions” and Peterson’s work on METI is “superb.”
Once again, this could go on for awhile. I think you get the point. It does not sound like the non-LDS scholars are falling on the floor in laughter. To the contrary, LDS scholars are keeping up well – and remaining involved – with the greater scholarly community.
For additional information on the credibility of LDS scholarship, I not only recommend the previously mentioned works, but also Daniel C. Peterson, “Editors Introduction – The Witchcraft Paradigm: One Claims to ‘Second Sight’ by People Who Say It Doesn’t Exist,” FARMS Review, 18:2 (2006)