Hamblin 31: I am not a Post-Modernist

Hamblin 31: I am not a Post-Modernist July 17, 2015

Jenkins repeatedly asserts that I, and all other LDS authors on the historicity of the Book of Mormon are pseudo-scholarly apologetic hacks.  Every single one of us.  That’s bad enough.  But when he calls me a Post-Modernist, I’ve had enough.  Them’s fighting words!!!!!

Jenkins claims:

Hamblin’s point was NOT that all data involved needs to be interpreted” but rather that “History–in the sense of the actual human past–does not exist.” 

Actually, that was exactly my point–data from the Past needs to be interpreted precisely because the Past no longer exists.   You’ve misunderstood me again.  I would greatly appreciate it if in the future you would ask me for clarification rather than launch a completely irrelevant lengthy argument based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what I really intended to say.  Maybe I was unclear, but Neal and most other people I know seem to have understood me clearly enough.

When I say that the human past does not actually exist, I mean it is gone.  It is past.  We can’t–despite what Terminator movies claim–go back to the past, interact with the past, change the past, directly observe the past, or experiment on the past.  That does not mean that the past never existed.  It clearly did.  Thus there either were Nephites or there were not.  On an ontological level, that is a simple straightforward issue.  The epistemological level is where the difficulty lies.  How can we, who are stuck in the present, understand the past, which no longer exists in our “time-space continuum” (to use the Star Trek phrase)?  

The answer is that our only capacity to interact with the past is inherently indirect.  We interact with the Past by studying the evidence left by past people–texts, inscriptions, art, artifacts, monuments, tools, tombs, etc.  We can understand the past only by studying those things, which were made or done in the Past, but which still exist in the present.  But the Past itself no longer exists; it is gone.  Hence, the study of history is not empirical–that is, we cannot directly observe with our senses or experiment on the Past.  History is thus a non-empirical discipline.  This seems to me to be a patently obvious observation, and I suspect that you will actually agree with what I really said.

Thus, Neal has correctly understood what I said, while you have misunderstood.  He correctly responds to your misunderstanding by pointing out your errors, which clearly are misrepresentations of what I actually believe and said.  Thus, both Neal and I understand the real argument I’ve made.  You don’t.  And your accusations that Neal is misrepresenting the argument just demonstrates how much you don’t get it.  Next time, if you think I’ve said something absurd, why don’t you ask for clarification?  It’s easy, and I’m happy to clarify things if there are ambiguities.  

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