Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Making God in Our Own Image to Cast Aside His Prophets

They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall. (Doctrine and Covenants 1:16)
Lori Burkman has a piece at Rational Faiths entitled “Disgracing God to Save a Prophet,” in which she essentially argues that God simply would not have commanded polygamy—it is too hard, too painful, too immoral for it to be from God—and therefore, polygamy must be Joseph Smith’s mistake. Whether it was a sincere misunderstanding between him and God, or simply Joseph Smith wanting so bad to have lots of sex and women that he abused his power and became a fallen prophet makes no difference to her.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Case of Disappearing DNA

Not too long ago, I wrote a summary of the DNA/Book of Mormon issue which I hope was understandable to even those who know very little about DNA. My own experience with reading the DNA articles is that they are difficult to understand, so I tried to break down in common, understandable terms, with as little jargon as possible. One of the things I pointed out there is that people have ancestors whose DNA is undetectable. The notorious Greg Smith has recently brought a case in point to my attention.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Major Non-LDS Press That Took Book of Mormon Geography Seriously

In a sort of introduction to the book version of Journey of Faith: From Jerusalem to the Promised Land, S. Kent Brown tells a short, little-known story about an experience he had while working at the BYU Jerusalem Center in April of 1996.
My friend, the late Charles E. Smith of Simon and Schuster Publishers, came to my office and brought a close associate, Mr. Emanuel Hausman, who was the president of Carta, the publisher of the most important atlases and maps of the Bible. During our conversation, unexpectedly, Mr. Hausman said, “I think that you ought to write an atlas of the Book of Mormon. I have read the Book of Mormon and believe that it is possible to create a series of maps for it. Carta would be willing to publish such an atlas.” I tried to hide my surprise. The thought darted quickly through my mind: “You just heard the publisher of the most distinguished series of atlases on the Bible say that he would be willing to work on an atlas of the Book of Mormon. Unbelievable.” (p. 2)

Brown mentions this only in passing, as it served as the first in a series of events that eventually lead to something very different: the Journey of Faith film. Brown is not clear whatever became of that project itself, but given that 20 years later nothing like that has been published, it is safe to say that it ended up not going anywhere. Still, I do not think that makes Brown’s initial thought any less relevant: the publisher of the most distinguished series of atlases on the Bible was willing to publish a similar set of atlases on the Book of Mormon. This is nothing that will make headlines 20 years later, but it is an example—and small one, to be sure—of a reputable non-LDS publisher taking work on Book of Mormon geography seriously. I guess Book of Mormon geography is not a TOTAL laughingstock among non-Mormons.