Jenkins 13: short comments

Jenkins 13: short comments June 29, 2015

Several short comments from Prof. Jenkins from over the weekend.

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As you say, a parody.

Now, as to that evidence you are not producing?

You write, “I think we first need to discuss questions of presuppositions, methodology and epistemology in order to understand what would constitute evidence and how it can be interpreted properly.” Um, why would that be? We are both grown ups, we are both published historians, we know these issues extremely well. I have lived with these issues for forty-plus years, and I am guessing that your track record is similar. We are not trying to run a senior history seminar for undergraduates.

Bill, I assume and believe that you are thoroughly au fait with the Ancient Book of Mormon literature. You presumably know the nuggets in those books that make you stop and proclaim “Eureka!” So why do we need to go through all this palaver before you give me what I am asking for, which is that one clincher piece of evidence that makes mainstream historians or archaeologists say “Whoa, my Lord! The Book of Mormon is on to something?”

Seriously, why is that not happening?

My suspicion, as I have said on several occasions, is that you have nothing to contribute in that way. Would you care to prove me wrong?

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And here we go again. What Dr. Hamblin does here is precisely what I expected and predicted, namely to give me reasons why he cannot produce evidence to support his case, rather than actually giving me the evidence. What he is trying to do is to start a debate in which I accept his presuppositions about the lack of evidence, with the goal of losing track of the central theme: why can’t he produce any evidence whatever?

He also shoots himself in both feet with one particular line. He is trying to explain the lack of Middle East inscription evidence in Meso America, and carries on, “But the Book of Mormon deals almost entirely with the Preclassic period (c 1800 BCE -200 CE).  During that period there are perhaps a few dozen inscriptions.  No books.  The inscriptions are nearly all short, often marginally legible, fragmentary, and often can’t be read because of script and language issues.” Um, exactly. So if the great Book of Mormon civilization is there, why is it not producing hundreds and thousands more inscriptions, in Hebrew, Reformed Egyptian, etc? It sort of suggests that civilization isn’t there, right?

You assuredly know the Book of Mormon better than I do, so I might be in error here, but I thought that the Book deals with the period through approximately 400 AD/CE.  Is that wrong? Do you mean 200?

I am reading your comment as carefully as I can, but you just misunderstand my question about falsifiability, and have not answered it.

You write this, “Jenkins asks about the question of falsifiability.  I’ll set aside the problem that this is really a methodology issue for empirical experimental science, which doesn’t really work with non-empirical historical questions.” No, what I am asking is this: for you personally, what is the point that would make you lose faith in the case you make supporting the Book of Mormon. As I said, “What is that potential deal-breaker for you? If you reply that no piece of external evidence could shake your belief, however overwhelming it might seem, then you are stating explicitly that your view is a matter of faith, and not of science, scholarship or history. If that is so, then there is no point in trying to argue the issue in such terms. It is purely internal to you. Just don’t pretend that you have any claim in the realm of science, scholarship or history.”

If that is not clear, please let me know and I will rephrase it in some other form. But this really needs to be answered. I’ve told you what the deal-breakers are for myself, and I’d like us to be on equal terms, please.

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You write, “Fourth, your repeated insistence that there is somehow a parity in quantity and quality between ancient Mesoamerican and the ancient Near Eastern is misinformed (see my #18)”

You are dead right to say that the two regions have utterly different historical and archaeological settings. But if the Book of Mormon peoples were there, that would not be true. We would be seeing common languages and cultures, would we not? So the fact of the distinctions you highlight points to there being zero continuity or connection between the two. I am so glad you accept my argument.

And you have got me doing it again. I am getting caught up in one of your classic evasions, namely telling me why you can’t produce evidence and why it doesn’t exist and couldn’t exist, instead of stepping up and giving me positive evidence.

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You have a bad habit of claiming that other people say things when they have not. I have never asked for “Nephite pottery,” so why do you say I have, and put the phrase in quotes as if I had? You write, “Your request for “Nephite pottery” seems extremely naive.”  You started that particular wild goose chase, and if I used the phrase at all, I was quoting you. Please apologize.

That kind of misquotation and misattribution is a shoddy way for a serious historian to treat source material and documents.

In my view, your methodological emphasis has one purpose only, which is to distract attention from the core of debate, which is why you cannot and will not produce any positive evidence to support your cause.

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Readers of this blog will please note what is happening here. Dr. Hamblin continues to produce treasures from his rich and seemingly inexhaustible arsenal of “reasons why there is no worthwhile evidence, or indeed non-worthwhile evidence, to support any claims in the Book of Mormon.” At no point is he actually producing any positive evidence whatever.

The reason is simple. He believes in the book as a matter of faith, but because the events described in it did not take place in the objective, literal, historical world, he can produce no credible evidence. Therefore there is no reason why anyone should take any of his claims seriously as real history, nor those made by any other person coming from the same stance.

He is doing exactly what I predicted he would do. Actually that does not make me a prophet: he just has no option.

Predictable, predictable, predictable.

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Just so I understand.

What you are saying is that there was a mighty civilization in Central America that lasted a thousand years, and which in many ways looked like the civilizations of the ancient Near East (from which it was descended) with empires, kings, fortresses, cities, temples, roads, and it was a literate civilization. They commanded a range of weapons that we think of as characteristic of the Iron Age, with swords, chariots etc. We must be talking a society of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, at any given time.

And you think that this society vanished so completely that archaeologists can find no trace of it. No inscriptions, no architecture, no texts, no archaeology of weapons…. It certainly is not represented by any of the Maya societies and cultures, whose roots and history we can trace with confidence, so it must be elsewhere.

And apologists spend a lot of time thinking up reasons why that society left no traces of any kind, but is somehow gone with the wind.

Even better, you also think that these people upped one day to go fight a major battle in – wait for it – Upper New York State.

And you say all this without embarrassment? You do know the Yiddish word Chutzpah, right?

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