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Showing posts from June, 2015

Tzimins are not Really Tzimins (They’re Horses)

In his Letter to a CES Director, Jeremy Runnells marvels that, according to “unofficial apologists” (what is with the need to implicitly discredit anything not “official” anyway?), “horses aren’t really horses (they’re tapirs)” in the Book of Mormon. Kevin Christensen has already pointed out that this assertion actually flattens the nuance found in the essay Runnells uses to make this claim, including the tentative evidence for horses in America. In the past, I have reviewed the work of Dr. Wade Miller, a geologist and paleontologist who has tested several pre-Columbian horse specimens which appear place horses in the New World around Book of Mormon times. This evidence is inconclusive, but demonstrates the kind of openness that remains part of the horses/Book of Mormon discussion which gets glossed over by Runnells and many others. No apologist is half as rigid as any ex-Mormon about horses being tapirs. The ex-Mormons talk about it incessantly. It is all just a big joke to them.

Nahom/Nihm: What are the Chances?

Most involved in online debates about the historicity of the Book of Mormon are familiar with Nahom, mentioned in 1 Nephi 16:34, though the average Mormon probably couldn’t even tell you that Nahom is in the Book of Mormon. It becomes important in online debates because scholars believe they have found the name and place attested to in archaeology. Reactions from skeptics have ranged from denying there is any plausible connection to brushing it off as a coincidence.  Both sides talk in terms of probabilities that have never been demonstrated. “The odds that a place by that name would be exactly where the Book of Mormon says it is are astronomical!” says the believer. “There are so many names in the Book of Mormon and so many names in the ancient Near East, Joseph Smith was bound to get one lucky guess!” declares the critic. Both of these statements need to be tethered in by the data, of course.