Monday, December 15, 2008

Study of the LDS Church - 6.2 Archaeology

This post will be unlike any of the others due to my feelings of inadequacy in covering this topic from an educated point of view. Don't get me wrong...I've read enough of this topic related to the LDS church to feel that the Book of Mormon cannot hold water when compared to science, but I feel unequipped to relay this information to you in an intelligent manner (let's just say that geography, anthropology, and archaeology are not my strong points). Therefore, I'm simply going to point you to some sites that are much more well-written than anything I could produce on this site. So although my personal post won't be long, if you follow up with all of the links, this could be quite lengthy, but so very informative. Hang in's great information to have in your pocket.

Archaeology may be the hardest evidence for LDS members to overcome in their faith. They have been taught to chalk anything that does not make sense to belief in an Almighty God, which altogether is not wrong. However, when all of the evidence simply contradicts the faith you hold, it might be worth looking into it further, in my opinion.

In an earlier chapter of this study, I covered the history of the people of the Book of Mormon. These people arrived in two distinct migrations from the Middle East and landed in the Americas, or the "New World," as it is historically called sometimes. The surviving group, the Lamanites, have been supposed to be the ancestors of the Native Americans. ("After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians." (Introduction to the Book of Mormon, 1991 edition)).

One problem with this lies in basic biology and genetics. Science simply does not support this view. DNA shows that the Native Americans are linked genetically to Asia, most like the people from Siberia, which is supported by the theory that they migrated across the Bering Strait many years ago. For detailed information that you may understand better than I do can be found here and is certainly worth the time to read it! Some broken down evidence can also be seen here.

From there it is difficult also to justify the Book of Mormon using the settlements discussed in its text. So far to date there have been no discoveries of any of the settlements, geographies, or civilizations as discussed in the Book of Mormon. Please go look at this site, this site, this site, and this site for further explanations on the topic of geography. Even some LDS scholars have issues with their own church's teachings on this topic.

Another issue with the Book of Mormon and archaeology is the population growth experienced by the people in the Book of Mormon compared to other peoples at that time in history. If you look at either this source or this one, you can see clearly that this type of population growth, depletion, and boom again, would be difficult to explain by even an anthropology-educated member of the LDS church.

Two different groups of LDS apologists can be found within this topic. The first is a group of people who defend Mormon archaeology and feel that it can be justified looking at not-so-literal translations of metallurgy and/or biology. Others honestly believe it when people in their church tell them that the information has been substantiated by scientists. However, you can read here that is simply not true. The second group of people state that although it is not historically supported, that's where their faith comes in. To this, I answer that I don't think God wants our faith to be completely unfounded or unsupported and that evidence of His works and creation show up because He is part of them.

So, after all of the reading that I've re-directed you to, here are some questions for your LDS encounters:

  1. Why does the Book of Mormon mention brass (2 Nephi 5:15), breast plates and copper (Mosiah 8:10), iron and silver (Jarom 1:8), gold and silver currency (Alma 11), and steel swords (Ether 7:9)? No evidence historically supports these types of items existing at this time. If there is an answer concerning the translation of these items, note that if it was translated word-for-word, as stated by the founding fathers of Mormonism, there should be no clarity issues with the text.
  2. Why doesn't the art (which is abundant) of the ancient American cultures portray the existence of metallurgical products and activity?
  3. What do animals that are not native to the Americas show up in the Book of Mormon (including ass, bull, calf, cattle, cow, horses, sheep, sow, elephants, etc)? Why aren't animals that are native to the continent mentioned (like monkeys, deer, turkeys, sloths, etc)
  4. Why isn't food common to the Native American cultures mentioned in the Book of Mormon (including chocolate, lima beans, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, corn)?
  5. Why didn't the place names from the Book of Mormon still exist when Columbus arrived?
  6. Why are chariots mentioned in the Book of Mormon when there is no evidence (or even art) to support their use during this time of history?
  7. Why didn't Nephi compare and contrast the New World with Jerusalem? These were two vastly different places and it seems this would have been a natural reaction to one arriving in a new land.

Sorry for the lack of commentary on my part, but I feel you can get better quality and more information about this topic from the sources that I directed you to.

Study of the LDS Church - 6.3 False Prophecies


MyKidsMom said...

Good questions Kaye.

I have to say, if YOU can't fully understand it, I don't have much chance:) I wonder how they keep it all straight.

Kaye said...

Please...don't be so doubtful of yourself. Honestly, I am well-educated in some areas, but these social sciences never were my strong point. Give me a good math problem any day. =)

The fact is, where the LDS members lose track of how it "happened," they begin to rely solely on their faith to carry them through their doubts.