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Responding to the New Video on Nahom as Archaeological Evidence for the Book of Mormon

Many of my (few) readers have probably already seen the new video by Book of Mormon Central on Nahom as archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, starring my good friend (and co-author on a related paper) Stephen Smoot. If you haven’t, check it out:



As usual, comments sections wherever this video is shared have been flooded by Internet ex-Mormons insisting this not evidence for the Book of Mormon. I’ve actually had a few productive conversations with some reasonable people who don’t think Nahom is, by itself, compelling evidence—and I can understand that. But the insistence that Nahom is not evidence at all is just, frankly, absurd. So I’ll just go ahead and preempt about 90% of future responses to this post by responding to the most common arguments against Nahom/NHM now:

1. The Book of Mormon is false, therefore there can be no evidence, therefore this is not evidence. First, this is circular reasoning. It assumes the conclusion (Book of Mormon is false) which the evidence presented (in this case, Nahom/NHM) is intended to challenge, and then uses that assumed conclusion to dismiss the evidence. Not a valid argument. Second, something need not actually be true in order for evidence which supports it to exist. Lots of things which are not true can be and have been supported by evidence. So even if we grant the conclusion (which, for the record, I do not), that does not prove that NHM/Nahom is not evidence which supports the opposite conclusion (the Book of Mormon is true).

2. There is no evidence for X, Y, and Z in the Book of Mormon, so this is not evidence either. This is a red herring, or more simply a type of misdirection. Instead of dealing with the actual argument and data built around NHM/Nahom, this argument points to (perceived) deficiencies in evidence for other Book of Mormon claims (horses, metallurgy, New World cities, etc.) and then argues (or implies) that since there is no evidence for these things, this also does not count as evidence. Whether NHM/Nahom is evidence is an independent question from whether or not there is other evidence, and it is entirely possible to have evidence for somethings and not for others—evidence is not an all or nothing scenario. So lack of evidence for, say, horses, does not mean there is no evidence for, say, Nahom.

3. Nahom is not identical to NHM because vowels. When people actually begin engaging the actual correlation, this is usually the first argument. But it is literally impossible to get any closer with the inscriptional evidence, since most ancient Near Eastern writings do not use vowels. To demand stronger evidence than what the very best data itself could ever conceivably support is simply irrational and unfair. Furthermore, scholars have generally accepted correlations between biblical names and inscriptions with far less phonological similarity than Nahom and Nehem/Nihm.

4. Joseph Smith could have gotten a similar name (Nahum) from the Bible. Well, sure he could have. But nothing in the Bible would have suggested that he should use it as a place name at the end of a south-southeastward trail along the Red Sea; or that he should have a deceased character buried there; or have his group turn eastward there; or that he should have a “bountiful” coastal land eastward from there, and so on. This only explains a single dimension of this multidimensional evidence.

5. Joseph Smith saw a map with Nehem/Nehhm on it. When these maps were first discovered, they were dismissed as evidence for the Book of Mormon because they didn’t prove the place was there in 600 BC. Now that archaeology confirms NHM is older than 600 BC, these maps are suddenly supposed to explain how Joseph Smith knew that? Come on. To my knowledge, none of these maps have been placed closer than ~300 miles from Joseph Smith while translating the Book of Mormon. And they have hundreds of names. Why only Nahom? And why not actually spell it as it appears on the maps (Nehem/Nehhm)? Oh, and these maps still don’t explain all the details above. And finally, some of both Joseph’s supporters and critics appear to have used maps to debate the fine points of 1 Nephi in the 1830s and ’40s. Yet none of them got the details of 1 Nephi right, and none of them noticed Nehem or made a connection to Nahom. So why are we to think Joseph Smith did?

6. The archaeological evidence is for a tribal name, not a place name. The inscriptions say that the donor was a Nihmite, which is—per the British Museum catalogue entry for the inscription—a person from the Nihm region. Nehem is a tribal territory, and thus the name of both the tribe and the place. The conflation of the tribal and place name is also evident in the way the tribal name shows up in Arabian geographical treaties and lists from the Islamic era.


Several of these are already explained in the video, and yet people still respond with these objections. So odds are this preemptive effort is in vain, but alas, still I try. Anyway, enjoy the video and be sure share it!

Comments

  1. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2015/07/debating-book-of-mormon-apologists/

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    1. I am not really interested in getting into the particulars of Jenkins back-and-forth with Hamblin, but Jenkins's approach is basically argument #5 above. He claims Joseph Smith must have gotten the name from a map, and I've already explained what I think about that.

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    2. Smart man, Neal. The Jenkins / Hamblin debate ran its course t a complete dead end. Both Jenkins and Hamblin made good points but I side with Hamblin despite my desiring he had taken a different approach.

      I like your responses. They provided fresh ideas to me about the Nahom debate which had previously been unknown to me.

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  2. Something more about the Book of Mormon. The book cannot be historical as the story in the book of Ether is not historical. Most scholars except the fundamentalist consider it as myth. See https://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/01-genesis/text/articles-books/seely_babel_wtj.pdf

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    1. I see, then, you are taking approach #2.

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  3. The fact that there were some islands called the Comora Islands and it's chief port was Moroni off the coast of southern Africa is a bullseye for the evidence that Smith used what was available to him. Captain Kidd operated out of their and stories about his possible treasures were buried around New York were part of the folklore of the time of Smith's youth. Also the word Mormon means "frightening " in Greek and was used in reference to the puffin birds that flew off the eastern seaboard of New York. https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Puffin--Mormon-Arcticus--1--Male-2--Fema/28CB9CD62468FB95?utm_expid=.Y_yUGC0iRAmk48W_NagSLQ.0&utm_referrer=http

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    1. Hey, I can copy and paste links too. How fun!

      https://wheatandtares.org/2017/05/27/the-telephone-game-evolving-misinformation-about-joseph-smith-captain-kidd-and-the-comoro-islands/amp/

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    2. A slight variant on approach #2. Instead of dismissing it by pointing to lack of evidence somewhere else in the Book of Mormon, this is a dismissal by pointing to some perceived evidence for 19th century origins. It's still a red herring nonetheless.

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  4. Please respond to my criticisms

    In Yemen you can find thousands of inscriptions, so how is finding NHM impressive? Book of Mormon doesn't tell us where Nahom is, it only says it is "nearly south-southeast" of Jerusalem.

    Book of Mormon doesn't tell us where Bountiful is, it only says "nearly eastward" which is too ambigious. There aretwo candidates for Bountiful, which is it? Can't be both.


    As for the possibillity of wordplay it rarely happens in the Book of Mormon, so how do you know Nephi was doing wordplay in 1 Nephi 16:34? You don't understand how coincidence works, I suggest you read a really good book

    https://www.amazon.com/Improbability-Principle-Coincidences-Miracles-Events/dp/0374175349

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    1. Absent some rigorous documentation, I am not sure there are "thousands" of inscriptions in Yemen. But that is not the point. The issue is not the probably that the sequence of letters NHM would show up in inscriptions. It is the likelihood that NHM would show up as name of a place, and in the right general area, too.

      (Too my knowledge, of all the tribal territory names in Arabia, this is the only one that has been traced back 3000 years to Joseph Smith's day ... why don't you tell me what are the odds of that, eh?)

      As for your comments about Nephi's directions being vague, why don't you try this: pick a random US state that you don't know very well. If you know the name of more than one city in the state, pick a different one. Now make up a story about someone leaving from the one city you know and have them start moving in a particular direction. After an unspecified about of time, have them stop, name the place they stopped--just make up the name, don't look anything up. But you can't use a generic name (e.g., Centerville, or Farmington) that is known to be a common name for cities, towns, or counties in the US. It has to be a name that you would think is unique enough to be only one of its kind. After you've picked that name, carry on with your story.

      THEN, go look at a map, start with the well-known city you started in, and search the map moving in whatever direction you chose, and see if the made up town name shows up there before you cross the state boarders. Even search counties if you like. There's probably going to hundreds, if not thousands of potential names, so surely you've got good odds, right? Probably not. And frankly, if a person came to me and told me that is what they did and they totally guess the name of real town (and it wasn't one of those generic names), I would suspect they were lying, and I'd bet most other people would too. Generally speaking, correctly identifying obscure place names is taken as a sign that the person is familiar with the geographic region they are talking about. Yet for some reason, in the Book of Mormon, somehow its not. How very odd.

      Re: Bountiful, personally I favor Khor Kharfot, but both proposed candidates fall within the same general area, which is basically due east of Nahom/NHM. It is a comparatively small stretch (maybe a few dozen miles, tops) of highly lush, fertile territory, and the only region along the southern coast of Arabia wherein there are inlets that meet the description in the Book of Mormon. The fact that scholars quibble over which inlet in that relatively small area was the very spot Nephi built his boat is hardly consequential.

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    2. As for the wordplay, you clearly are not keeping up with the literature on Book of Mormon names and linguistics. No, wordplay does *not* "rarely happen in the Book of Mormon." Matt Bowen--a scholar with training in both Egyptian and Hebrew, who did his PhD work in ANE wordplay--has proposed some pretty compelling wordplays for all kinds of names in the Book of Mormon, and several others have also suggested numerous wordplays. In 1 and 2 Nephi alone, there is evidence for wordplay on Nephi, Zoram, Laman, several puns in the tree of life visons of Nephi and Lehi, on Nahom, Jacob, and Joseph. And those are just the ones I am aware of off the top of my head. And none of these puns would be obvious to someone not familiar with the ancient languages the Book of Mormon claims to be translated from.

      And I do understand how coincidence works. I never said this couldn't be coincidence. If that is how you wish to explain it, go ahead. But the possibility of it being coincidence does not make this non-evidence. Coincidence is merely one way to interpret the evidence, but it doesn't make it not evidence. In fact, since a coincidence is literally a random chance accident that can't be explained, calling it that is actually an acknowledgement that you can't explain how this evidence exists, but nonetheless you still reject the explanation of the evidence as given (i.e., that it happened because Nephi is a real person who was there ca. 600 BC).

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    3. "Absent some rigorous documentation, I am not sure there are "thousands" of inscriptions in Yemen"

      Read http://dasi.humnet.unipi.it/index.php?id=42&prjId=1&corId=0&colId=0

      "The issue is not the probably that the sequence of letters NHM would show up in inscriptions. It is the likelihood that NHM would show up as name of a place, and in the right general area, too."

      NHM is not a place name, it is a tribe. NHM is in the "right general area" where you can find thousands of other inscriptions.

      "why don't you try this"

      Okay suppose we are in Montana state. We travel "nearly south-south east" to end up in Kansas state. Now we travel "nearly eastward" to go to a beach. What state did we end up in? Hard to know, let alone a city.

      "if a person came to me and told me that is what they did and they totally guess the name of real town

      The area allowed by Book of Mormon description is huge, "nearly eastward" can be East, South East, or North East.

      "proposed candidates fall within the same general area"

      Except that 90 miles of desert seperates them.

      "In 1 and 2 Nephi alone, there is evidence for wordplay on Nephi, Zoram, Laman, several puns in the tree of life visons of Nephi and Lehi, on Nahom, Jacob, and Joseph."

      Even if true, the Book of Mormon contains 337 proper names. "Mourn" appears 41 times in the Book of Mormon. Please show me evidence of wordplay in 1 Nephi 16:34.

      Is the daily mail doing wordplay? "Friends and family of Nohemi Gonzalez mourned the victim " Notice that NHM fits "Nohemi".

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3319957/I-love-baby-Boyfriend-Nohemi-Gonzalez-23-shares-grief-mourns-firecracker-vigil-American-Paris-victim.html

      "In fact, since a coincidence is literally a random chance accident that can't be explained"

      Yes, coincidence is a reasonable possibility because you can find thousands of inscriptions in Yemen.

      "If that is how you wish to explain it, go ahead. But the possibility of it being coincidence does not make this non-evidence."

      I suggest some research on coincidence, probability, and patternicity.
      Both patternicity and coincidence can explain it well. Read the Book of suggested.

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    4. “Read http://dasi.humnet.unipi.it/index.php?id=42&prjId=1&corId=0&colId=0”

      Cool! Thanks for sharing that database, I was not aware of it. Now, can you tell me: (1) how many of those inscriptions pre-date 600 BC, (2) how many of them mention any toponyms/tribal names at all, and (3) how many of those pre-600 BC toponyms or tribal territories can be documented in a location that would reasonably fit the Book of Mormon?

      As I said before, the question is not merely the sheer number of inscriptions (several of which actually mention the Nihmites in them). I mean, there 300,000 inscriptions from Mesopotamia (http://cdli.ucla.edu/projects/royal/royal.html), but nobody brushes it off as coincidence that a small handful of Israelite king names show up in just the right context at the right time.

      “NHM is not a place name, it is a tribe.”

      See argument #6 in the OP.

      “Okay suppose we are in Montana state. We travel "nearly south-south east" to end up in Kansas state. Now we travel "nearly eastward" to go to a beach. What state did we end up in? Hard to know, let alone a city.”

      You realize that you didn’t actually try the experiment at all, right? The only names that show up here are well known state names that I am certain you not only knew, but already knew the geographic relationship of beforehand. You took no risk on making up a name and then seeing if you got lucky.
      “Except that 90 miles of desert seperates them.”

      False. They are not separated by 90 miles of “desert.” Khor Khofart and Khor Rori are essentially the east and west bookends of a generally fertile area, which if moved further east or west along the Arabian coast would not fit nearly as well with the Book of Mormon description.

      “Even if true, the Book of Mormon contains 337 proper names. ‘Mourn’ appears 41 times in the Book of Mormon. Please show me evidence of wordplay in 1 Nephi 16:34.”

      If you want evidence for wordplay, go read the literature on this. It’s more than just the mention of “mourn” nearby. The numbers you are giving, however, don’t help your case. There 337 proper names in the Book of Mormon. If the Book of Mormon is fiction, then those names are randomly distributed, which means the odds of Nahom landing where it does in the text are about 1/337. If Nahom randomly showed up in a different place—say, where Jershon is instead—there would be no compelling case for wordplay. Nowhere else in the text produces a narrative context that plays on the Hebrew meaning for nhm as well as the narrative in 1 Nephi 16:34–39.

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    5. “Yes, coincidence is a reasonable possibility because you can find thousands of inscriptions in Yemen.”

      Here’s the thing: literally every connection and theory built on archaeological evidence can be dismissed as coincidence. Just two nights ago I was with a small handful of friends discussing a new paper on Maya priesthood orders published in “Ancient Mesoamerica”—one of the most prestigious journals in the field of Mesoamerican studies. The authors of the paper are some of the most respected scholars in their field. Yet the whole paper was extremely speculative. For everything they said, “coincidence is reasonable possibility.” That is simply the omnipresent reality of ancient studies. Every connection could just be a coincidence. So such an argument is non-falsifiable—and non-falsifiable arguments are generally frowned upon in academia.

      “Coincidence” is a default argument that can literally be made to refute anything—and it is impossible to prove anything in ancient studies is NOT a coincidence. Grad students in ancient studies often go through an existential crisis when they come to this realization because it means literally everything they think they know about the ancient world could be complete bunk. How can they ever know they are finding real connections? They can’t.

      But scholars universally recognize that if they take that approach, we simply can’t make any progress at all in knowing the ancient past. So everyone does the best they can to make arguments as compelling as possible, and to refute others arguments with compelling alternatives. They generally avoid falling back on “coincidence” because they know that is a blanket accusation that could unravel their whole enterprise.

      Having done plenty of reading in ancient studies literature, I’ve seen far less compelling comparisons than Nahom/NHM get published in mainstream journals and academic presses, and even gain fairly wide acceptance in various fields. So you’ll forgive me if I really don’t care to engage with a non-falsifiable accusation of “coincidence” that could literally be leveled against anything ever published on archaeology or ancient studies in general.

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    6. Neal, you're missing the point.

      You say, "(1) how many of those inscriptions pre-date 600 BC, (2) how many of them mention any toponyms/tribal names at all, and (3) how many of those pre-600 BC toponyms or tribal territories can be documented in a location that would reasonably fit the Book of Mormon?"

      Good questions. You should answer them, lol. Until YOU have answered those questions, along with many others, NHM cannot be honestly presented as "evidence" of anything. It's that whole pesky burden of proof thing, correlation does not equal causation, etc.

      You're basically expecting "critics," who aren't critics but people who don't find your arguments persuasive, to prove a negative, which is a fallacy. I don't have to come up with a complex model to demonstrate NHM is statistically insignificant, all I have to do is point out that you have failed to present a model (any model at all) demonstrating a significance.

      As it happens though, there are answers to many of those questions, and they don't work in your favor (see my post).

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    7. Actually, some of this research has already been done, but you have to read the more in-depth treatments to get it. But the real point that is being missed that nobody asks for this kind of analysis before excepting all kinds of correlations and theories in archaeology and ancient studies, some of which are much weaker than the NHM/Nahom connection. Sorry, but I am just not going to waste my time trying to meet a burden of proof that is literally impossible, and never asked of anyone else in the field, ever.

      If that means people like you aren't going to be convinced, oh well.

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    8. "Here’s the thing: literally every connection and theory built on archaeological evidence can be dismissed as coincidence."

      Do you consider Lamanai in Mesoamerica a Book of Mormon connection? It is in right place and from the right time, or is coincidence a reasonable explanation?

      "You took no risk on making up a name and then seeing if you got lucky."

      I think you missed the point, I was trying to show that the details in the book of Mormon are too vague.

      How about this. You make up a five letter place-name, but get some inspiration from real names (critics claim Joseph Smith got inspiration from Bible). Don't make up something nonsensical like "HXEW". So 1. make up a five letter place-name. 2 I will remove the vowels 3. I will match it with a real place. It will be a any place in the east and south-east coastline of the US. Up for my challenge?

      I was able to create a Lehi's Journey map in New York state (where Joseph Smith lived) in less than five minutes. In New York there is a town called "Jerusalem". From Jerusalem, NY go "South-southeast" (but mostly east) to get to Needham, MA (Needham almost fits NHM). You make a "nearly eastward "turn to get to rivermoor habitat park (the equivalent of bountiful). Coincidence or a connection? I only took my like five minutes.

      "I mean, there 300,000 inscriptions from Mesopotamia (http://cdli.ucla.edu/projects/royal/royal.html), but nobody brushes it off as coincidence that a small handful of Israelite king names show up in just the right context at the right time."

      It depends on the size of the name. Three letters in Hebrew allow for 10,648 combinations. However, four letters allow 234,256 combinations. Five letters allow 5 million combinations. So a three letter word without any other reference can be a coincidence in a region of 300 thousand inscriptions.

      "can you tell me: (1) how many of those inscriptions pre-date 600 BC, (2) how many of them mention any toponyms/tribal names at all,"

      I don't know. What temples are the NHM altars located in? https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/radiocarbon/article/view/3879/3304

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    9. The probability of finding an ancient inscription that matches a made up "Biblical inspired" name is not that low, especially if you have thousands of other inscriptions around. Not necessarily saying "Nahom" is made up and everything is fiction, but I still see coincidence as a reasonable explanation.

      "There 337 proper names in the Book of Mormon. If the Book of Mormon is fiction, then those names are randomly distributed, which means the odds of Nahom landing where it does in the text are about 1/337."

      Why? Please explain your logic. I mentioned the 337 to demostrate that there is no possible wordplay for most Book of Mormon names.

      Do daughters "mourn" when their father dies?

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  5. the problem with NHM isn't about NHM, its about the many other things that aren't there (enter list of anachronisms). SO even if NHM is a hit, the list of hits vs misses makes the one hit a lucky hit, and a reach at that.

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    1. So you went with approach #2, I see.

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  6. I've responded here: https://www.reddit.com/r/mormonscholar/comments/6ix1gh/responding_to_the_new_video_on_nahom_as/dj9ugrx/

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    1. I think that is about as reasonable a response as any. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Rappleye: "Jenkins's approach is basically argument #5 above. He claims Joseph Smith must have gotten the name from a map..."

    That is incorrect. Jenkins responded in 2015 when Hamblin made this same mistake.

    Jenkins: " I never said that Smith “decided to travel to consult a map instead of making names up.” Maybe he traveled, maybe he had one to hand, maybe someone loaned him one, maybe he read a newspaper. I don’t know. But as I made clear in my post, the burden of proof in this is clearly on the side of those wishing to make the ludicrous, extravagant, supernatural claims. I have offered a plausible and probable non-supernatural explanation of what happened. The counter-arguments you offer are trivial and irrelevant."

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2015/07/debating-book-of-mormon-apologists/

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    1. This is not Jenkins denying that Joseph must have gotten it from a map. Instead, he is offering some off-hand speculations as to how Joseph could have seen such a map, and then disclaim any burden of proof. If that is what you or Jenkins want to believe, then fine. But if you want to convince me that the map hypothesis is a viable explanation, you or Jenkins or whoever else are going to have to better than half-baked speculations.

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    2. I didn't say it was. YOU said: "He CLAIMS Joseph Smith must have gotten the name from a map..."

      I said you were wrong, because Jenkins said: "I NEVER SAID that Smith “decided to travel to consult a map..." Debate works best when you don't misrepresent other's words.

      There would be no reason for anyone to convince you of anything, because as Jenkins pointed out, "the burden of proof in this is clearly on the side of those wishing to make the ludicrous, extravagant, supernatural claims."

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    3. Cynth g,

      Jenkins is denying the claim that Joseph "decided to travel" in order to consult a map. He is denying claiming Joseph had to travel, not that Joseph consulted a map. This is clear in the string of "maybes" Jenkins then offers up: he admits "maybe" Joseph traveled to consult a map, or may he had a map on hand, or maybe someone loaned such a map to him, or perhaps he read about one in a newspaper, etc.

      Jenkins is offering various speculations as to how Joseph Smith might have seen one of the maps that mention Nehem. So yes, Jenkins insists Joseph Smith must have seen one of the maps. When he says, "I have offered a plausible and probable non-supernatural explanation of what happened," he is talking about Joseph seeing one of those maps.

      So yes, debate works best when you don't misrepresent what other people have said. It also works best when you read with comprehension too.

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    4. Comprehension and accurate representation both rely on an understanding of the process of making logical arguments. Jenkins explained that repeatedly to Hamblin in his debate, as it seemed to be a particular issue with Hamblin's apologist approach.

      You are oversimplifying Jenkin's statements, to the point of misrepresenting them when you say he "claims" anything. He doesn't need to "claim" anything in order to make a logical argument, he is simply presenting a far more plausible alternative, and again noting it is the responsibility of the one making extraordinary claims to provide extraordinary evidence.

      Jenkins: " So could Smith have had access to a map featuring a name like Nehhm/Nehem, which he then decided to Biblicize a bit by making in Nahom? Almost certainly, yes. I can’t prove the fact conclusively – but the bar for such proof is a million times lower than anyone wishing to prove the supernatural explanation. That’s Occam’s razor again, combined with the worthless, spurious and utterly ahistorical quality of the New World sections of the book."

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    5. Burden of proof is far more complicated than Jenkins wants to make it, and I don't really care to have a debate about it. At the end of the day, burden of proof really only exists in the mind of individuals. Each person, consciously or sub-consciously, has defined a threshold in which evidence must reach before they are persuaded to believe things. That is why I said earlier that if Jenkins or anyone else wants to convince me that Joseph saw one of those maps, they'll have to do much better than Jenkins has done. He does not sufficiently convince me that Joseph could have used a map.

      Now you can insist that you or Jenkins don't need to convince me of anything, but if that is the case, then why the hell are we even having this conversation? Why come over here, and clearly try to convince me of things, if you don't feel any kind of burden to do so? I mean, if the burden of proof lies with me, why do anything more than shrug your shoulders and say, "Gee, he didn't convince me" and move on?

      Jenkins clearly opts for the map theory as the best explanation, but admits he can't prove it. He is clearly content with that and feels no burden to prove it. OK, so what? That does not mean I have to be content with it, or can not explain my reasons for not buying it.

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    6. No, it really isn't complicated at all. Cynth brings up Occam's razor. Do you understand this principle? It's about simplicity. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the simplest explanation is the best one. There are literally infinite possibilities. Perhaps NHM appeared on those altars because the same little green aliens Warren Aston has been tracking beamed down to earth Stargate-style and put the stones there? It's totally possible. But this would be a very extraordinary claim.

      I'm kind of just repeating Cynth here, but when Jenkins brings up the map business he isn't suggesting there is credible evidence JS saw a map. I never didn't see that. I never followed that whole debate, mostly just reading the cited article now. To me it appears like Jenkins didn't know anything about the NHM debate at all. He spent but a few minutes glancing at it and just rolled his eyes, not caring to go any deeper than that. He was simply pointing out that there are any number of completely plausible explanations for NHM appearing in the BOM, none of which rely on supernatural explanations.

      Another important point. Jenkins also wasn't saying that the NHM evidence is compelling, therefore JS had to have seen a map. He probably was just being polite, giving the NHM apologists the benefit of the doubt that there is something there... without having looked under the hood himself. As stated I don't find NHM compelling to begin with, there is no correlation. But regardless, let's say it were significant, why is it hard to imagine JS did see a map? Seriously, I don't get it. I don't have any photos of JS having a bowel movement, but I can reasonably assume he probably did from time to time. Even if the man were a true prophet and all that, I would expect him to be darn curious and go find a map and other resources pertaining to the stories he's being exposed to throughout translation. If I started translating a book and it was about people from the middle east, the first thing I'd do is go find myself a good map. It would be truly bizarre to me if he didn't.

      The whole point of the NHM debate is that apologists are arguing it constitutes extraordinary evidence of extraordinary claims. We have a supernatural book which came about by supernatural means, and the absolute only way this book could have the word "nahom" in it is if it's historical. NHM finding is too much to be coincidental, therefore the only way it could appear in the book is if JS knew about Nehem or got really lucky. But none of that is true. There are much simpler explanations.

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  8. I did my undergraduate studies in the Middle East. I speak Arabic. I lived in Yemen. I visited several of the the so-called "NHM" sites while I was still an active/believing member, including sites near Marib like the Bar’an temple, Jidran and Ruwaiq mountains, among other ruins in the region and all over the country, as well as sites in Oman like Dhalkuut.

    I was excited to visit these places and see them for myself as they constituted what is literally the only piece of supposed evidence for Book of Mormon historicity. What I found was pretty underwhelming, nothing at all like what is described, and somewhat faith shattering. This video grossly misrepresents the NHM “evidence,” to the point of deception, leveraging sensationalism and sound effects to construct pseudoevidence.

    Short version, point by point, every single "correlation" in this video is misrepresented.

    Nehem is NOT a burial site, it's a vast mountain range. And the ruins referenced in the video are in a completely different location that is NOT in Nehem. Moreover the ruins themselves are not at a specific site, but scattered all over the place, thousands of such sites, all over the country. Going back to Nehem, it doesn't match with the text of the BOM, which describes them as following a path along the coast of the Red Sea. About 140 miles of impassable mountain range separates Nehem from the coast.

    To put this in context, this is what the area looks like: http://bit.ly/2s3WAOQ

    BOM doesn't say anything about turning east and passing through 140 miles of nasty mountains before getting to Nahom. It says they turned east AFTER getting to Nahom, suggesting it would be near the coast somewhere. I really can't emphasize enough how nasty the Nehem area is. Lehi slept in a tent? Good luck hauling tents over those mountains. Zero sense for a long list of reasons. Go over there and see Nehem for yourself, of all potential places for them to travel to, it is literally the worst! An impossible location.

    And then getting into the language, the H and M characters in Nehem the place DO NOT match with the NHM on the altars, nor do they match with the NHM in the hebrew word "nacham" that's being referenced as a potential "word play" with the word "mourn" in the text of the BOM. There are about 4 distinct arabic letters/sounds which get clumsily described as H in English, but in the original language these are distinct letters as different as A and Z. The word "nachom" in hebrew is completely different than "nahom." Just as different as "nazom".

    So you have some burial sites, literally thousands of them scattered all over the country, everywhere, found a tombstone at one location (not in Nehem) which bears the 3 characters NHM (which also don’t match the NHM characters used in the place name Nehem), and the Nehem location is completely at odds with the BOM text in terms of terrain and geography, but somehow all this is a correlation?

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    1. And then there is the "nearly eastward" business. Pick a spot literally anywhere in the Yemen, and in many parts of Saudi Arabia for that matter, head "eastward" and you'll end up at some coastline. About 1600 miles of coastline to work with. There is nothing special about vaguely saying, go south along the coast, turn east at some unspecified location, and then arrive at some other unspecified location where you can build a boat. This isn't a correlation.

      The dating. The NHM altars are irrelevant for the aforementioned reasons, but nonetheless, the dating isn't credible. The altars were not dated through scientific means like radiation, etc. In context, the original dating was literally just a guesstimate based on the expertise of the german archaeologist. And that guy places the stones likely AFTER Nephi. And then the subsequent “researcher,” Aston, who pushed the dates back used even worse methodologies than the original guy. Aston isn’t a credible archaeologist, he writes conspiracy books on UFOs! Can't make this stuff up.

      Adding to all this are other things I could say. There are a lot of Jewish ruins in Yemen, symbols all over the place. It is my opinion that the area name Nehem comes from Nehemia the Jewish prophet / historical figure, who was a big deal 5th century BC. See the Book of Nehemia. If Nehem is a reference to Nehemia, which would make a lot of sense, that is after Nephi.

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    2. Hi Andrew,

      I can't profess to have the same on the ground experience as you, but I've read a fair bit from Warren Aston, George Potter, and Kent Brown, who all have traveled that area extensively.

      First, the assertion is not that Nehem is a "burial site" but that one of the largest burial sites in southern Arabia is located nearby. If you read the works of Aston and others, it is clear that Nehem is a tribal region nestled in the mountains of Yemen.

      As for being near the coast of the Red Sea, long before the discovery of Nehem, Book of Mormon scholars have argued that Lehi's family traveled mostly on the east-side of the mountain ranges, moving away from the cost and cutting through the mountains while still in northern Arabia. As difficult as it may seem, these arguments are based on ancient travel routes, so we know people could and did travel through this kind of terrain. Based on what I've read from Potter and others, they could have done this while still generally traveling southeast on their journey, so no need to have a mention of an "eastward" turn before Nahom.

      As far as the linguistics go, the altars are not Arabic, so while your knowledge of Arabic maybe helpful, it also may not be as relevant as you want us to believe. Stephen D. Ricks, on the other hand, wrote dictionary on inscirptional Qatabanian, one of the ancient south Arabian languages. So you'll forgive me if I grant his assessment a little more credence. So far as I am aware, experts on southern Arabia accept that NHM in the south Arabian inscriptions is in fact connected to the Nehem of modern Yemen. Warren Aston published as much in the mainstream Journal of Arabian Studies. So if they aren't related, it would seem you know something experts in south Arabian don't. Maybe you should write up your rigorous linguistic analysis explaining this new revelation and get published in a the Journal of Arabian Studies or an equally reputable, mainstream academic venue.

      And if you have ever made a pun in you entire life, then I assume you understand that word plays do not need to be the same word, or need to sound exactly alike. So the fact that the Hebrew word is unrelated is about as relevant as that fact that my name is totally unrelated to "kneel"--and yet the puns never end.

      As for nearly eastward, I am afraid you are missing the point. Yes, you can turn east anywhere and eventually hit coastline--if you can survive the desert journey. But if you turned eastward in most places, you would die before reaching the coast. The research from Brown, Potter, and Aston, however, indicates that it is around the NHM area that eastward travel becomes possible without dying. Brown and Potter even provide evidence that trade routes turned eastward around this area, so again we have evidence that ancient people actually could travel east from that area, however difficult it may have been.

      And there is also the fact that not much of the 1600 miles of coastline could fit the description of Bountiful. Warren Aston searched 700+ miles of the southern Arabian coast and only felt one place could work, and it happened to be due east of Nehem.

      As for the dating of altars, we are following the generally accepted dating of them by Arabian scholars. You can't radiocarbon date stone. The revision of the dating is not from Aston, but the work of Kenneth A. Kitchen, whose comprehensive work on Arabian inscriptions revised the chronology of ancient Arabia. If these dates are not credible, it would seem once again you something that all the experts in the field are unaware of.

      Your bringing up Aston's UFO stuff is literally an ad hominem argument. He published his work on Nehem/Nihm in the Journal of Arabian Studies, and has presented on it at the Seminar for Arabian Studies hosted at Cambridge University. Those venues are about as credible as it gets for ancient Arabian studies, so I see little reason to give your ad hominem attack much merit.













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    3. Neal, not trying to strong arm you here. Just putting my perspective out there. I will tell you why I find your arguments unpersuasive, but I'm not going to try and rattle you into accepting mine. For me, the NHM arguments became completely and totally hollow after I actually spent time in the Yemen.

      In a flat earth kind of way, what I'm suggesting is that if you simply go over there and see the place for yourself, the whole debate about roundness is moot. There is literally nothing to debate. Beginning to end, the NHM narrative is nonsense after you simply go over there and walk the ground. It doesn't make sense.

      Your response amounts to an appeal to authority, which makes sense, because that's the only context from which a debate about this can be had - within an academic kind of bubble among people who don't have any first-hand experience. Reasonable people can be confused and find flat earth arguments persuasive. A lot of brilliant men throughout history believed the earth was flat. They weren't stupid, just ignorant. Only after being confronted with a picture of that big blue sphere is the debate really over, but even then it still isn't over for everyone. Maybe the photo is fake!

      We can play Dungeons and Dragons until the end of time.

      You find folks like Aston credible, you want to take their word, ok, cool :) I'm not telling you to take my word for it, I'm suggesting maybe you shouldn't take their word for it. Go over there, decide for yourself. That's what I did, and it completely changed my attitude about the whole thing.

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    4. FWIW, my pointing out Aston's involvement in UFO conspiracy activities wasn't meant in an ad-hominem way. On the other hand, you argue Aston is credible because he got published in a journal, which means literally nothing. That is an ad hominem argument in of itself! So, a little hypocritical.

      My point was that Aston IS the source of the updated dating, which makes his background germane. My point was to draw attention to the manner of the dating itself. Most laypeople watching this video "assume" that the dating was established in some kind of indisputable scientific kind of way. It's credible. We can treat it as factual. Exactly the opposite. If people understood how subjective the dating methodology was, they'd roll their eyes at the whole thing.

      I'm not saying Aston's arguments are wrong by virtue of his being a UFO conspiracy theorist. He could be right. But if you tell me I need a surgical operation and I ask why and you say because such and such doctor said so, I'd like to know who this doctor is and why I should trust his advice. I can't tell you how old those inscriptions are. I don't believe anybody can make that claim, frankly. Different "experts" have assigned different dates, and they don't agree with each other. So using my free agency I have to decide who I'm going to believe, if anybody. I'm being asked to place my trust in these people. Aston loses, I don't find him credible. He hasn't earned my trust.

      As I said though, the dating of those stones is a very small point. In contrast with other aspects of this, pretty irrelevant really.


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    5. Getting back to the meat of the discussion. I'd love to hear more about this argument that the Nephites didn't travel along the coast. How is that reconciled with the text which specifically says they did?

      "And we did go forth again in the wilderness, following the same direction, keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, which were in the borders near the Red Sea."

      How does that description fit with travelling 140 or so miles inland on the complete opposite side of a mountain range?

      Either way I'm still not sure how this solves the problems I pointed out. Nehem still is in the mountains. BOM doesn't describe them moving across the mountains. Why would they enter Nehem at all? If they were traveling along the famous incense trail, that would have been east of Nehem, so they would have had to go west over the mountains to get to Nehem. And again, the burial sites referenced with the inscriptions aren't in Nehem.

      The video makes some very specific claims. I'm just going to quote the narrator directly.

      "...a team of German archaeologists found an ancient altar in southwestern Arabia with the name of a local tribal region inscribed on its side. That name, Nehem."

      This isn't true. Objectively false. An altar was found. And it has ancient writings believed to resemble the English sounds N H M. But this refers to a family/tribe, not a physical place. And it's not known that this tribal name matches with the Nehem place name. In the video a whole bunch of liberties are being taken to correlate data for which no relationship has actually been established.

      "This altar, which dates back to about 800 BC"

      This is in dispute, a dubious claim. But video presents it as factual.

      "And its [the altar] location is exactly where you'd expect it to be..." (And at this point the map in background shows line going to Nahom.)

      No, it's not exactly where you'd expect it to be.

      For starters, the altar, which is what the narrator is specifically talking about, IS NOT IN NEHEM!!! The altar is at a burial site which is not in Nehem. The video is straight up lying. And as I've also pointed out, "where you'd expect it to be" is also in dispute re the text of BOM. BOM says they were at the coast, not 140 miles inland.

      "Additionally, Nehem was one of the largest burial areas in ancient Arabia, making it a natural location for Ishmael's burial"

      As stated, no it wasn't. Nehem had nothing to do with the burial sites referenced and was not itself a "burial area."

      What do burial sites have to do with the Book of Mormon anyway? Oh, because Ishmael is buried in Nahom? So you’re saying Nehem is a special location in Yemen where everybody gets buried? Everybody comes from afar to bury in this special site? So, duh, it’s a “natural location." Let’s put Ishmael here. How cool, we found a burial site, a specific graveyard, called Nahom, the only one for hundreds of miles around, and gee golly, the BOM says Ishmael was buried in Nahom. How cool is that? Correlation after correlation after correlation. Even if Joseph Smith had seen the name Nehem on a map somewhere, I mean, there is no way he could have known it also happened to be a special sacred burial site, the only one in southwest Arabia!

      Except, A&D$FG!!, Nehem is not a burial site. And therefore this “correlation” makes no sense whatsoever. If Ishmael was buried in the Nehem area of Yemen, it could have been anywhere. Under a pile of rocks on a random spot on one of the hundreds of mountains. Plus, the burial sites referenced, there are sites just like them all over the whole country. There is absolutely nothing “unique” about the Marib or Nehem regions in terms of burying people. This is completely false. You can't make the claim that this is a special "natural location" when an equivalently "natural location" exists literally everywhere!

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    6. "In a flat earth kind of way, what I'm suggesting is that if you simply go over there and see the place for yourself, the whole debate about roundness is moot. There is literally nothing to debate. Beginning to end, the NHM narrative is nonsense after you simply go over there and walk the ground. It doesn't make sense."

      Go ahead and tell that to S. Kent Brown and Warren Aston with a straight face.

      "On the other hand, you argue Aston is credible because he got published in a journal, which means literally nothing. "

      So on the one hand, Latter-day Saint scholars, when they don't publish in non-Mormon journals, are dismissed as "apologists" who don't dare expose their theories to peer review. But when they do, then suddenly it means "literally nothing" and is it's just an ad hominem fallacy to make mention of it.

      We are now officially through the looking glass.

      "This isn't true. Objectively false. An altar was found. And it has ancient writings believed to resemble the English sounds N H M. But this refers to a family/tribe, not a physical place. And it's not known that this tribal name matches with the Nehem place name. In the video a whole bunch of liberties are being taken to correlate data for which no relationship has actually been established."

      For the 8,000th time: the tribal name is derived from the region that tribe resided in.

      If I were to call myself Stephen the Provoite, what might we suppose about where the name comes from? Is that a tribal name or a geographical name?

      Frankly, it is hard for me to escape the conclusion that the only reason why you are claiming "it's not known that this tribal name matches with the Nehem place name" is because you don't want it to match. Literally every single authority on this I have encountered, both Mormon and non-Mormon, conclude that the Nihm tribe and the Nehem/Nehhm region noted in later Islamic and post-Islamic sources are one and the same.

      "This is in dispute, a dubious claim. But video presents it as factual."

      The burden of proof (there is it) rests on you to dispute the dating of the inscriptions. Until you give me a good reason to believe otherwise, I'm going to stick with Vogt and subsequent scholars who safely date the inscriptions to the time indicated in the video.

      It's really funny, Andrew, how you came strutting in here with your opening salvo about your illustrious experience with Arabic and traveling in Yemen. Not to diminish your experience by any means, but when Neal pointed out a handful of authorities who contradict your bombastic rhetoric and sweeping claims, you suddenly accused him of appealing to authority.

      What kind of madness is this? Either experience and academic chops matter or they don't. You can't have it both ways.

      But you know what? In the end, I agree with you. This is matter of who to trust. Should I trust "Andrew," an Internet blog commenter whom I basically have to just take on his word has the experience he claims to have? Or should I trust the combined academic chops of several seasoned Near Eastern linguists and archaeologists, and other experts who have published in peer reviewed journals on this matter, and upon whom the research team at Book of Mormon Central drew when producing this video?

      Well, it's an easy answer for me. But to each their own I suppose.

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    7. Stephen,

      Thanks for the response. Let's see how this goes.

      > Go ahead and tell that to S. Kent Brown and Warren Aston with a straight face.

      Happy to. Actually, I'd love to get more details. The way it comes across to me is some weekend warriors wandered into Yemen like tourists, took a shuttle to some ruin sites, following some terp around, and out puked all this b.s. It has Tim Mahoney and Ken Ham written all over it.

      > So on the one hand, Latter-day Saint scholars, when they don't publish in non-Mormon journals, are dismissed as "apologists" who don't dare expose their theories to peer review. But when they do, then suddenly it means "literally nothing" and is it's just an ad hominem fallacy to make mention of it.

      I think you may be confusing me with someone else, because who are you talking to? When did I say anything about LDS apologists needing to publish?

      Since you've brought this up though, I am not personally of the opinion that peer review is a holy grail. It can be a great thing when done right, but it can also work in the opposite direction. The devil is in those details, like who's doing the peer review for starters.

      Correct me if I'm wrong here, but all this NHM business is published only in LDS apologetic journals, no? Or pay to play kind of journals? The Journal of Arabian Studies that Neal cites, which Aston is published in, isn't that a pay to play journal? It's not reputable. And this is further demonstrated by Aston's citation index. Literally the only people who cite his publications are LDS apologists.

      > We are now officially through the looking glass.

      Ain't it great when your own crap gets flung back at you?

      > For the 8,000th time: the tribal name is derived from the region that tribe resided in.

      For the 8,001st time: I'm supposed to just take your word on that? The name's do not match. And, ahem, the burial site also isn't in Nehem!

      You do realize the NHM radicals go with a lot of words? Like flamingos. Perhaps the NHM reference is about a tribe that lived in a little fishing village that was the home to flamingos. You can find flamingos all over Yemen and Oman, and also further north in Saudi Arabia. They are on both the west coast with the red sea and the southern coast of the arabian peninsula.

      This brings up another point too. Why turn east at all? Why wouldn't Nephi be directed to Al Hudeidah? It would cut their journey in half. This is the historical shipbuilding capital of the arabian peninsula.

      And what about Sinai? I'm going to have to go back to the BOM and really read the directions they give. Why do we assume they went along the coast of Saudi Arabia instead of on the other side of the red sea in Egypt? Maybe Nahom is in Eritrea and Bountiful is in Somalia? Out of curiosity I just did a quick search and you won't believe it. There is an Eritrean singer named Nahom Yohannes! This can't be a coincidence.

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    8. > If I were to call myself Stephen the Provoite, what might we suppose about where the name comes from?

      Well, we might suppose that you're related to Étienne Provost, perhaps you're from Quebec.

      > Is that a tribal name or a geographical name?

      Tribal, that's how arabic names work. Like Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud. House of Saud is quite large. A whole country named after them, and the people are spread all over the world. As it happens there is a city in Yemen named Sauda. If all you found was SAD on a tombstone it might get really confusing trying to trace that person to a location. But it would work in your favor as a "word play" pun.

      > Frankly, it is hard for me to escape the conclusion that the only reason why you are claiming "it's not known that this tribal name matches with the Nehem place name" is because you don't want it to match. Literally every single authority on this I have encountered, both Mormon and non-Mormon, conclude that the Nihm tribe and the Nehem/Nehhm region noted in later Islamic and post-Islamic sources are one and the same.

      Well you're really going out of your way to be disagreeable and distract from your inability to link the two, aren't you?

      The fact still is that the NHM on that stone doesn't match with the Nehem characters in arabic. Repeating myself, I'm still failing to understand the significance of this point though, because the burial location isn't in Nehem to begin with.

      Off hand I'm thinking of some people we could consult though. A company in Saudi Arabia called Naham Tech, owned by the Al-Naham family. I wonder if they have any relatives buried in Saudi Arabia? Could take this research in all kinds of new directions. And then there is the Al-Naham restaurant in Doha. You know, come to think of it, that's pretty interesting. Maybe we're looking at this all wrong. Nephites didn't follow the coast along the red sea, they followed the coast along the arabian sea, but to them it looked "red" in the fleeting light! And then they turned eastward into Qatar. Northern end of the peninsula you'll find some hidden gems with enough wood to build at least one or a couple ships.

      > The burden of proof (there is it) rests on you to dispute the dating of the inscriptions. Until you give me a good reason to believe otherwise, I'm going to stick with Vogt and subsequent scholars who safely date the inscriptions to the time indicated in the video.

      Oh now this is really getting fun.

      I'm happy to accept Vogt's dating, and this is what I've said, several times. You guys are the ones that threw him under the bus for Aston. My argument is, nope, I want Vogt back. The date you cite in the video comes from Aston, aka the Ufologist. And the reason you side with Aston is because Vogt dated the stones AFTER the time of Nephi.

      But you're glossing over several of my points. One, what does the date matter to begin with when the stone is not found in Nehem? Two, while I'm accepting Vogt's dating I'm also putting in context what he actually did. All he did was offer his OPINION, pulled out of his educated arse, that the stones probably dated to 6th century BC. He didn't shine some laser beams on the rock and Siri answered back, 551 BC! How a conclusion was arrived at is very important for readers to understand.

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    9. > It's really funny, Andrew, how you came strutting in here with your opening salvo about your illustrious experience with Arabic and traveling in Yemen. Not to diminish your experience by any means, but when Neal pointed out a handful of authorities who contradict your bombastic rhetoric and sweeping claims, you suddenly accused him of appealing to authority.

      I didn't accuse anything. I pointed out what he did. He ignored effectively everything I said, motioned to some other dudes with "they're right because they said it." Funny is an understatement.

      >What kind of madness is this? Either experience and academic chops matter or they don't. You can't have it both ways.

      You've spun me around so many times I'm confused myself. Are you saying they do or don't matter? It kind of sounds like you're defending an appeal to authority...

      > But you know what? In the end, I agree with you. This is matter of who to trust. Should I trust "Andrew," an Internet blog commenter whom I basically have to just take on his word has the experience he claims to have? Or should I trust the combined academic chops of several seasoned Near Eastern linguists and archaeologists, and other experts who have published in peer reviewed journals on this matter, and upon whom the research team at Book of Mormon Central drew when producing this video?

      Well that's quite a display of self flagellation. So your not just defending it, that's the hill you're choosing to die on. Ok.

      Just to recap. You're making multilevel marketing videos that pimp a product you've never tried for yourself, and that you admit total ignorance about, which may not actually even exist, all based on the pay to play "peer reviewed" publications of a UFO conspiracy theorist and other acolytes of his.

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  9. Neal has already responded to the major objections that have been raised against the Nihm/Nahom connection.

    The only thing I would like to add is that the responses seen so far by and large are textbook cases of cognitive dissonance. In this case, the dissonance arises because the firmly-held conviction among non- and ex-Mormons that the Book of Mormon is a modern forgery is being challenged by contrary evidence. So, instead of admitting this evidence is valid and moving on to discuss the relatively weight or significance of this evidence in light of other factors or evidence, many here are cognitively doubling down by hurriedly attempting to wave away the evidence altogether. It is an understandable human response given what we know about the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance, but it is nevertheless fascinating to see such a clear example of it on the side of ex-Mormons (who frequently assure me that they have outgrown such lowly mortal failings as human psychology).

    Neal and I actually talked about this phenomenon in our review of Dan Vogel's 5 objections to the Nihm/Nahom connection. It has been seen time and time again in biblical "minimalists" whose cognitive dissonance over evidence for the historicity of the Hebrew Bible drives them to created just as contrived, half-baked theories Phillip Jenkins and others here have created to dismiss the evidence for Nahom.

    I will say for the record with my academic training (for whatever it's worth) in Near Eastern and Egyptian archaeology as my witness: if instead of in 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon this description of Nahom had appeared in, say, another contemporary south Arabian inscription not purporting to be the result of a miraculous translation, I am absolutely convinced there would not be nearly as much obstinate refusal to acknowledge the evidence as we're seeing here.

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    1. I'll bite. Please read my other comments. So, first question, have you actually been to Yemen yourself?

      You say:

      > I will say for the record with my academic training (for whatever it's worth) in Near Eastern and Egyptian archaeology as my witness: if instead of in 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon this description of Nahom had appeared in, say, another contemporary south Arabian inscription not purporting to be the result of a miraculous translation, I am absolutely convinced there would not be nearly as much obstinate refusal to acknowledge the evidence as we're seeing here.

      Having been to Yemen, spent quite a lot of time there actually, I strongly disagree with this. The text in the BOM does not match the geography/terrain at all. Only in very immature/superficial kind of ways.

      It vaguely describes travelling south along the coast of the red sea, then turn east, end up in some fertile enclave. There are several bountiful-like locations along the southern arabian coast. Not one, not two, like a dozen of them. And from just about anywhere in Yemen you can travel in a vague eastward direction and wind up at any one of those spots.

      When you actually go there and see what things look like, the description in the BOM is so vague it feels like it was just made up by someone who'd never been there while looking at a map. The details provided in the BOM don't fit. And then there are so many details you'd expect to find which are completely absent. If the author had added even just a few details that matched with specific landmarks then it would appear very authentic. There are huge mountain ranges out there, specific valleys and passes, tunnels, population centers, etc., and there is no mention of any of this stuff.

      In that sense I suppose you're right. If there was an ancient arabian book that gave incredibly vague directions like this people probably would believe it. But what is there to believe? It would be like finding the most useless directions to the store ever. Any soccer mom without even looking at a map could come up with that. It's not evidence of a supernatural book being historical.

      When it comes to Nahom in particular though, no, I wouldn't believe it. If you showed me an ancient diary about some explorers heading down the coast of the red sea and then stopping at a place called "nahom" I would conclude this had to be a different location from Nehem, because, it's in a completely different spot. It's not uncommon to find multiple places with the same name. It's also not uncommon for travelers to get a name wrong, or to be given an incorrect name by a local. Any number of explanations if I saw an ancient record of what were clearly wrong directions.

      If those same explorers were instead traveling the incense route and ended up in some place called Nahom, I'd be more inclined to believe they must mean Nehem, but I'd still be scratching my head and asking a lot of questions, because it's not along the incense trail... it's deep in the mountains to the west of the trail. So, if they did end up there, the story I'm reading omits a lot of details. And if I were just reading some random journal that wouldn't be a big deal. But when reading a supposedly-supernatural book and we're using these geographic clues to find hard physical evidence, I'm going to be a bit more picky. If you tell me you're travelling one way, but then suddenly end up somewhere else, how the heck did you get there? Details missing. And if details are missing, what other details are missing? If details are missing it becomes a free-for-all and we can't use any of these clues for evidence. So then all the arguments about the geography go right out the window. We don't care about the relative position of anything. Literally all it's about is the NHM name. Is that particular combination, NHM, by itself so unique that it can't be coincidence? Answer: NO. And you say this yourself in the video.

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    2. You keep bringing up the fact that you've been to Yemen as some kind of trump card that automatically gives your arguments weight.

      News flash: people can know something about a place secondhand through the published works of others.

      Like, oh, I don't know, if somebody were to travel to Yemen and catalogue their experience in a publication or documentary film. You know, kind of like what S. Kent Brown, Warren Aston, and George Potter (to name a few) have done.

      So no, I haven't been to Yemen. Just like I haven't been to Mars. But that means very little when I can reach over on my bookshelf and read (or even watch) the experience of those who have, and from their experience get an idea of the land and its topography.

      So would you kindly cram it with the "I've been to Yemen so I'm therefore right" stuff? It's not impressing anyone.

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    3. Oh, and P.S. both Neal and I have been to Mesoamerica. Ipso facto our observations about the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica are right. And don't you dare attempt to gainsay us unless you've personally experienced Mesoamerica like we have.

      Or, heck, forget us. Unless you've experienced it like Mark Wright and Kerry Hull and John Sorenson and John Clark have.

      QED.

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    4. Geez, Stephen, what are you compensating for over there? Don't worry, I'm just teasing. I can empathize, I understand what it's like to be raised in a culture that teaches you to believe you know everything. Just breathe, it will go easy. Take some time to collect yourself and try again.

      Oh, and P.S., I've never been to mesoamerica myself. While this has no impact on the historicity of the Book of Mormon, which is about objective facts, not feelings or beliefs, it would have an impact on me personally and my ability to understand certain points of data and arguments pertaining to the historicity.

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  10. My response as someone who very unexpectedly came to believe that the BoM is non-historical: I once found the Nahom convergence powerful (along with many other parallels noted by John Sorenson, Mark Wright, etc). But at the time I hadn’t thoroughly and fully considered the evidence against historicity. When I did I found that it was on an entirely different level. It was the last thing I wanted or expected, but for me, once I studied the right issues I found that the weight of the evidence against historicity made all my treasured evidences for historicity suddenly become very insignificant.

    So my primary response is just to say that for me, the weight of evidence against historicity makes this Nahom convergence insignificant when looking at the whole picture. I do see how believers can find it supportive of their faith, but I would think they'd also be willing to acknowledge that this isn't something so powerful that it cannot be reasonably attributed to chance. Personally I think the Moroni/Comoros/Captain Kid convergences probably happened by chance, but it's a pretty powerful "convergence." Moroni and Comoros in the same area, with connections to Captain Kidd whose stories were popularly discussed in the Palmyra area? If you see this as coincidence then you have to acknowledge that these kinds of things happen, and that even if you find it supportive of your faith it is not the kind of knockout punch you're portraying it as. And again, in my view, looking at the big picture and the evidence from both sides, it's a blow that hardly registers.

    But if we want to talk about convergences:

    It's notable that it was widely believed in Joseph's time that the current “Indians” (believed to be savage and lazy) must have wiped out another group of natives (believed to be more intelligent and civilized–and many also suggested more “white”), because they couldn’t believe that the current Indians had built the impressive “Indian Mounds” being discovered. Notable that even though DNA evidence eventually proved otherwise it was the norm to believe that the “Indians” were Israelites, that their languages were descended from Hebrew, and that they had many remnants of Israelite customs among them. Notable that a book by Oliver Cowdery’s Pastor published in 1823 naturally brought all this together and proposed a historical scenario that to him and others seemed obvious. He suggests that after these Israelites arrived in America they must have split into two factions. One of these factions remembered their Israelite heritage and remained more civilized and industrious–leaving behind the impressive earth works and “fortifications” that were being found. The other group forgot their Israelite heritage and became “savage” and uncivilized, and because of jealousies they ultimately wiped out the more civilized group through long wars, leaving only the more savage Indians who remained. Why was he and everyone else so interested in identifying the natives as Israelites and convincing others of their Israelite heritage? Because they believed that a very literal gathering of Israel was supposed to take place in accordance with biblical prophecy, and the American settlers needed to be awakened to their duty to help the natives realize their true identity and become Christians. Anything seem familiar?

    Their is a mountain of evidence against historicity (not just an absence of evidence for historicity as the blog above says, but positive evidence against it), and yes, the power of any individual piece of evidence must be looked at in context of the whole picture. Personally, I just find the evidence against historicity to be so great that the Nahom thing just isn't very significant in the big scheme. Though I fully understand where you're coming from (I've been in those shoes), I think its funny that you think Nahom is the knockout blow you're portraying it as, to the point where you can't fathom someone not being convinced by it.

    https://mormonmemo.com/key-topics/book-of-mormon/

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    Replies
    1. See, that wasn't so hard.

      "Nahom is evidence but it's not convincing enough for me."

      That's fine. It's just so bewildering to me how many people are so dogmatically committed to a sort of Total War against the Book of Mormon that they refuse to acknowledge ANY sort of evidence on its behalf.

      "the weight of evidence"

      Certainly this is a worthy thing to discuss. For instance, I think each and every point you raise as evidence against the Book of Mormon is debatable. And we can go point by point and slog our way through the debate. But the overall point is this: how one determines where "the weight of evidence" falls is going to largely be a subjective task.

      And for the record: the video never says Nahom is "proof" for the Book of Mormon. It never says it singlehandedly confirms the book is true. It never claims Nahom is the final, key piece of evidence that clinches historicity.

      Rather, it claimed that Nahom is archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon. It answers the question posed at the beginning of the clip: "Is there any archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon."

      The answer is yes, no matter how loud and desperately people insist otherwise.

      Maybe it's not sufficient evidence to inspired confidence in Book of Mormon historicity, but it is evidence nonetheless.

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  11. Stephen,

    Do you consider Lamanai in Mesoamerica a Book of Mormon connection? It is in right place and from the right time, or is coincidence a reasonable explanation?

    What is the probability of finding an ancient inscription that matches a "Biblical inspired" name, especially if you have thousands of other inscriptions around? Not saying I know Nahom comes from a Biblical name, but it is possible.

    ReplyDelete

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