The Instigator
Puck
Pro (for)
Winning
43 Points
The Contender
Moroni23
Con (against)
Losing
27 Points

The Book of Mormon is probably a creative artifact from Joseph Smith.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/16/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,491 times Debate No: 12064
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (73)
Votes (13)

 

Puck

Pro

'Probably' simply denotes the evaluation of evidence for the purposes of this debate.

Accept for round 1 - the following rounds will be for actual debate.
Moroni23

Con

Ops… As I was explaining to my opponent, I was hesitant to accept this debate because I feel like the voters on this site would be bias about the issue and vote Pro, not necessary whoever has the better argument. I still feel this way however instead of clicking decline debate I accidentally clicked accept :) so there's no turning back now I suppose. I might as well try and give it all I got...

I will begin this debate by proposing the supposed evidence I believe I have in favor of the Book of Mormon.

1. Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon (BOM)

The BOM consists of several examples of an ancient form of writing called Chiasmus. During the 1800's Chiasmus was a lost form of literature unique to the ancient Israelites, and other cultures in the MED. and it is my understanding that no other piece of literature from the 1800's consists of Chiasmus. Chiasmus was found often in the Old Testament, including parts of Psalms, and the book of Isaiah. Chiasmus was also found in the late 1500's when it was used roughly by Shakespeare, but then it seemed to have died out. Chiasmus is found all threw out the BOM the entire book of 1 Nephi is a giant Chiasmus as well as multiple passages threw out the BOM.

Critics of using the chiasmus as evidence supporting the BOM will say that all these multiple verses are either plagiarism, or a result form constant repetition. However neither of these criticisms make any sense because it is absolutely absurd to say that chiasmus is a result of repetition, the Chiasmus found in the BOM obviously is in such a unique format, that repetition is out of the question.

For more on Chiasmus in the BOM see (http://www.jefflindsay.com...) this example is claimed to be the most beautiful example of Chiasmus we have ever seen, including all ancient documents that use Chiasmus, this verse is to huge and beautifully constructed to be either an extremely lucky cause of repetition, or plagiarism form the Bible seeing it is found nowhere in the Bible.

2. Archeological findings

In light of the fact that Lehi and Nephi knew Egyptian and probably had traveled to the land of the Nile, what would you think if archaeologists found ancient Egyptian figurines in Central America? At least it would show that ancient ocean crossings, like Lehi's, were possible.

About twenty-five years ago, Gareth W. Lowe, Director of the BYU-New World Archaeological Foundation, photographed two figurines located in a display case in the Museo Nacional "David J. Guzman" in San Salvador, El Salvador, and he sent copies to John Sorenson. According to the display caption, the figurines were excavated from three meters in depth from the eastern beaches of Acajutla, Sonsonate, El Salvador, on the Pacific coast near the Guatemala-El Salvador border.

Both figurines clearly belong to a class of ancient Egyptian funerary statuettes known as ushabti.
For more on these finding see http://www.jefflindsay.com...

3. Little evidence found all threw out the book that simply could not be a coincidence.

The Book of Mormon is filled with many small, subtle details that suggest its authenticity. The passing treatment of arrows is one example. During the journey out of Jerusalem toward Bountiful, three times Nephi writes that he had broken his bow, but never says that any of his arrows were damaged. Yet in 1 Nephi 16:23, Nephi says that he "did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow." Why would he need to make a new arrow if his old ones were still intact? Those familiar with archery understand that arrows must be suited for a particular bow in terms of length, weight, and stiffness. The difference between a powerful steel bow and Nephi's later wooden bow would certainly require different arrows. Was this part of Joseph Smith's knowledge bank as a farm boy in the 1820s? One doubts that such information was known to Joseph Smith or to many, if any, of his contemporaries. Archery, as a means of self-defense or as a serious method of hunting or warfare, went out of vogue among Europeans many years before the time of Joseph Smith. On the other hand, archery as a sport did not emerge until the latter half of the nineteenth century. David Fox [an experienced archer] concludes: "Nephi's statement that he made an arrow out of a straight stick is an additional subtle but significant example of internal consistency within the Book of Mormon. Anyone unfamiliar with the field of archery would have almost certainly omitted such a statement." Another bull's-eye for the Book of Mormon. (http://www.jefflindsay.com...)

4. Prophesies in the Bible of the Book of Mormon

Ezekiel 37:15-17 http://scriptures.lds.org...

When the prophet received this vision, he was shown the latter days, and more importantly he was shown about the gathering of Israel (which is exactly what the Mormon religion claims is happening… they are being gathered as the tribe of Ephraim, while Israel is being gathered as the tribe of Judah). So in the exact timeframe as shown in this chapter (the latter days, when the tribes will begin to gather) he sees a vision that in the Lords church there will be the stick, or scroll that is a record from the tribe of Judah (the Bible), and a stick, or scroll that is a record from the tribe of Ephraim (or the BOM). The BOM claims it is a record from the tribe of Ephraim.

5. My final point of evidence is by simply pointing out it would be nearly impossible for J.S. to have written it.

A- Most of the translations were done while J.S. was staring into a hat. So all these verses in the BOM that were quoted form the Bible, if J.S. wrote it, and didn't translate, he would of had to have all these verse memorized.
B- Coming up with this story off the top of his head? Not to mention it runs hand to hand with the Bible, and he did this staring into a hat? Impossible.
C- Introduced over 380 words into the English language.
D- Joseph Smith only had 3 years of education!!!
F- The BOM was translated in 63 day!!

So to sum up this debate, either this book was made up by a man with a 3 year education introducing 380 words into the English language, coinciding directly with the Bible, quoting many verses he would have had to have memorized, contains multiple verse of beautiful ancient form of writing(Chiasmus) lost to the world during the 1800's, including what is claimed to be the most beautifully written form of Chiasmus we have knowledge of, fulfills prophesies in the Bible that were written way before the people in the BOM even left Israel, has multiple little evidence that suggest the books authenticity (knowledge about marksmanship that J.S. certainly didn't have), was written in 63 days all while this man was staring into a hat. Or, it is an ancient document.
Debate Round No. 1
Puck

Pro

It appears a game of Gish Gallop is afoot.

1. Chiasmus

Since you claim the linked verse as the outstanding example let's begin.

A chiasm is a literary technique designed to mirror e.g. ABBA. To start, it has been noted that Alma 36 is not a true chiasm - it does not follow the strict rules required to be formally recognised as 'this is a correct chiasm'. It contains phrases that under strict chiasmic rules would break the pattern e.g. the usage of "born of God" is ignored until it creates the supposed chiasm chain. Correct technique would consider this "broken chiasm". Including the necessity for the claim to include multiple verses as the one chiasmic 'piece' (e.g. v 6-9), it's easy to see a distinct problem arising. [1]

An example of a Shakespearean chiasm that doesn't break such rules can be found below alongside a more detailed discussion of chiasmus for those interested:

http://findarticles.com...

I would suggest readers compare this to my opponent's example
http://scriptures.lds.org...

It is quite easy to see the clumsy nature of the BOM writing - the repetition and large length of the verses make it a rough attempt (if designed) and easier to create patterns where none were intended (if not designed - more probable). For example - the final verse, the claimed chiasmic structure is simply a tacked on phrase at the end. See [1] for the example given when using BOM rules for how easy it is to find chiasms in texts.

Additionally BYU (Mormon aligned) statistical analysis of chiasmic structures found no evidence to conclude that such chiasms were indicative of divine design. [2]

Chiasmic structure (following same rough rules) occurs in Smith's D & C (not a claimed divine text) - making it more probable it is simply an artifact of Smith's writing than not. [3]

2. Archaeological findings.

Since you claim a single one here, it is easily refuted. The artifacts in question are known fakes. They do not accurately resemble known Egyptian artifacts but do however resemble other known frauds of that era. [4]

3. Arrows.

The claim is that Smith would not have dictated a particular phrase given the time. Firstly archery clubs were in existence in N.A. at the time - United Bowmen of Philadelphia formed in the late 1820s - however it is more probable that knowledge, since that is your claim, came from Native Americans who *did* use bows at that time to hunt. It is however just as likely that it is a meaningless artifact of wishful thinking. Bows go with arrows. The passage really doesn't indicate anything special. [5]

4. Prophesy

The passage from Ezekiel details nothing of the sort. Ezekiel's prophecy refers to Israel once being a united nation i.e. one stick represents Judah and Israel respectively. Additionally the Hebrew word used is never used as a metaphor, and always as translated, stick e.g. "I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruise [pitcher]: and, behold I am gathering two *sticks*, that I may go in and dress [prepare] it for me and my son, that we may eat it and die." Another case of fanciful imagining. [6]

5. Impossibility spiel.

Despite the claims of impossibility there is little actually argued that it is; there is simply a list. When we look at it from the 'it was a fake' side we can see that none of the list adds merit. Staring into a hat ... while Smith behind a closed off partition no one had access to doesn't validate Con's case. Making up stories is not particularly stressful nor challenging, especially when one consider the content (e.g. "and it came to pass" occurs over 1200 times), wooden submarines (Ether 2:6-25) etc. His education was enough for him to write (journals, letters, books) though not well - linguistic errors abound in his personal correspondences and the initial BOM..

380 words claim appears to be the list of proper nouns 'unknown' at the time. A list of them, their biblical counterparts, and a short explanation of Smith's KJV can be found at [7].

Unfortunately character limits are approaching so I only have room for one argument.

Literary analysis of the BOM shows some telling signs that Smith copied large portions of it where it was not referenced so, and tellingly how this goes against the claim it was a divine text of ancient language. We also have record of the prevailing view of the time just after Smith's death.

"Joseph did not render the writing on the gold plates into the English language in his own style of language as many people believe, but every word and letter was given to him by the gift and power of
God"[8]

There are quite a few issues with this. Misspellings were common (and similarly in Smith's journal and letters) and needed to be corrected (as were most errors listed here) in later editions e.g. tempels (for temples; Alma 16:13); eigth (for eighth; Alma 53:23); rereward (for rearward; 3 Nephi 20:42; 21:29). Grammar concerns also; "They did not fight against God no more" (Alma 23:7); "I have wrote to them" (3 Nephi 26:8); "the gates of hell is..." (3 Nephi 18:13). Redundancies such as behold and thereof occur often; as well as colloquialisms; "a" alongside adjectives e.g. "a journeying", "a pointing" which were from the vernacular of his time. Smith's errors also included the adding new words e.g. "preparator" (for preparer; 1 Nephi 15:35); "numerority" (for a vast number; Alma 56:10).

It doesn't end there however. Smith "translates" an ancient text to include other modern vernacular not from the time he claimed the plates were from. Smith's work also included "adieu" (a french word in circulation) as well as "cimeter" a word whose origins are from middle eastern literature of Mohammed's time. He uses the word Bible too, which is an English rendering of a Greek word (biblos) that didn't occur till at least 1500 years post claim (similarly the usage of alpha and omega, and the Latin word Lucifer - also all from the KJV). On a similar note, Smith, despite apparently having divine translation, leaves the KJV word "raca" intact - untranslated due to lack of appropriate information in the KJV. Smith's work includes text from the KJV however this book is from the early 1600s. Smith used italicised text in parts form the KJV, which were italicised precisely to denote a non translated aspect of the text e.g. Mosiah, uses all eleven of the italicised words from the KJV. Verb tenses also appear to have confused Smith (or he didn't notice). For instance Mosiah 4:22 reads "and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done." - the correct form would be "which ye have done". Multiple instances of this occur. [9][10][11][12][13]

The evidence is indeed damning that the text is both not divinely written, nor divinely translated, nor indeed form the time claimed. In short, the probability that the BOM is indeed a creation of Joseph Smith is high.

[1] http://www.lds-mormon.com...
[2] Does Chiasmus Appear in the Book of Mormon by Chance? Boyd F. Edwards and W. Farrell Edwards
[3] http://www.greaterthings.com...
[4] http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu...
[5] http://www.britannica.com...
[6] http://www.irr.org...
[7] http://www.lds-mormon.com...
[8] Journal of Oliver Huntington.
[9] Abanes, Richard (2003). One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church. Thunder's Mouth Press
[10] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[11] http://www.lds-mormon.com...
[12] http://www.infidels.org...
[13] http://www.2think.org...
Moroni23

Con

Moroni23 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Puck

Pro

Since new arguments should not be presented in the final round, this has essentially become a 1 round debate. So, thanks for reading and enjoy the music. :)
Moroni23

Con

It certainly does appear like a game of ‘Gish Gallop' is afoot…

1. Chiasmus

Since my opponent claims that Alma 36 has been noted to be not a true Chiasmus, I will have to walk him, and the readers threw exactly what a chiasmus is.

In rhetoric, chiasmus (from the Greek: χιάζω, chi�zō, "to shape like the letter Χ") is the figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point; that is, the clauses display inverted parallelism. Chiasmus was particularly popular both in Greek and in Latin literature, where it was used to articulate balance or order within a text. As a popular example, the Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible also contain many long and complex chiasmi. (http://en.wikipedia.org..., http://grammar.about.com..., http://www.drmardy.com...
For example I will use an excerpt from the Bible Psalms 3:7-8

a) Save me,
b) O my God,
c) for thou has smitten
d) all my enemies
e) on the cheekbone;
e) The teeth
d) of the wicked
c) thou hast broken;
b) to Jehovah,
a) the salvation.

As you can see the A from the top and the A from the bottom express the same point, or use the same words/synonyms. This is a chiasmus.

a) My son give ear to my words (v 1)
b) Keep the commandments and ye shall prosper in the land (v 1)
c) Do as I have done (v 2)
d) Remember the captivity of our fathers (v 2)
e) They were in bondage (v 2)
f) He surely did deliver them (v 2)
g) Trust in God (v 3)
h) Supported in trials, troubles and afflictions (v 3)
i) I know this not of myself but of God (v 4)
j) Born of God (v 5)
k) I sought to destroy the church (v 6-9)
l) My limbs were paralyzed (v 10)
m) Fear of the presence of God (v 14-15)
n) Pains of a damned soul (v 16)
o) Harrowed up by memory of sins (v 17)
p) I remembered Jesus Christ, a son of God (v 17)
p) I cried, Jesus, son of God (v 18)
o) Harrowed up by memory of sins no more (v 19)
n) Joy as exceeding as was the pain (v 20)
m) Long to be in the presence of God (v 22)
l) My limbs received strength again (v 23)
k) I labored to bring souls to repentance (v 24)
j) Born of God (v 26)
i) Therefore my knowledge is of God (26)
h) Supported under trials and troubles and afflictions (v 27)
g) Trust in him (v 27)
f) He will deliver me (v 27)
e) As God brought our fathers out of bondage and captivity (v 28-29)
d) Retain in remembrance their captivity (v 28-29)
c) Know as I do know (v 30)
b) Keep the commandments and ye shall prosper in the land (v 30)
a) This according to his word (v 30)
(http://www.cometozarahemla.org...)

There is absolutely no question to the fact that this is a chiasmus, and possibly one of the greatest chiasmi of all time (absolutely this is opinionated). Whatever source pro is using that tells him chiasmus in Alma 36 has been noted to be not a true chiasmi, that source is faulty and I would urge him to venture away from it. I'm not sure what pro means by ‘rules of chiasmus,' because chiasmus is an ancient Hebrew form of literature used to balance out long pieces of literature. Chiasmus used a mirror technique for example ABCDEEDCBA, and as far as I know those are the only rules. Alma 36 expresses this beautifully, as well as Alma 41:13-15, Alma 29:8-17, Helaman 6: 7-13, First Nephi, the entire book of Mosiah, and many more areas.

My opponent explained that "chiasmic structure (following same rough rules) occurs in Smith's D & C (not a claimed divine text)" Incorrect, all D & C is, is claimed divine text. It's a recording of the Lords words threw his prophet. So if chiasmus is found inside the D&C then it further strengthens J.S's claim to be a prophet. Chiasmus is found NOWERE in the 1830's, it was a lost form of literature, yet here it shows up all over the BOM. I urge the readers, and pro to read this link http://www.cometozarahemla.org....

I sadly don't have time, or room to address the rest of his claims however I will address one more.

5. ‘Impossibility spiel'

My opponent claims that there is no source validating my (and the entire church's) claim that all this was done while staring into a hat, however this is incorrect. There are numerous sources including the diary of Emma Smith, accounts from Martin Harris, and Joseph Smith. Of course you can say that Harris's, and Smiths claims could have been made up along with the rest of the story, but that doesn't explain Emma writing about it in her diary, not to mention, if you were to make up a story why would you do everything in your power to make it unbelievable? Staring into a hat while holding a rock up to his eye? This is silly, if he were to make this up why do it in an unbelievable manner?

I wish I could address the rest of these issues; however I feel it is essential I introduce a crucial point.

Threw out this debate, as well as my forum ‘The Book of Mormon' (http://www.debate.org...), I have come to realize that I will honestly never be able to prove the Book of Mormon an ancient document, and pro, or anybody else who attempts, will never be able to disprove it. We can throw out evidence we believe supports the book, or evidence we believe condemns it, however we will truly never be able to prove it either way. This is the way God set it up. If there was an ample amount of proof supporting it the entire world would convert thus being no point for our existence on this earth. Pro, anything you find on the internet you believe is proof, is nothing but speculation. Think about it, if there was actual proof condemning the book the church would be nowhere near as strong as it is today, currently the second fastest growing church in America with over 13 million members. There is no proof discrediting the BOM, and I am confident there will never be, because the Lord has given us a promise.

"No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calamity may defame. but the truth of god will go forth boldly nobly and independent. Till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear. Till the purposes of shall be accomplished and the great Jehovah will say ‘the work is done'."
Debate Round No. 3
73 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by belle 6 years ago
belle
i read it moroni. and saying "it was hidden" doesn't make it so. if joseph smith was familiar with the bible, which he certainly was, he would have had exposure to chiasmus, whether he realized what they were or not. and if he were trying to "sound like" the bible he no doubt would have found use in repetition and chiasmus as effective rhetorical techniques. as puck said in his round, its not even a "true" chiasmus in that by using a strict definition of that term, it doesn't qualify. divine intervention is NOT necessary for joseph smith to have attempted to sound like the bible, nor for him to have used chiasmus either on purpose or subconsciously.... but if you want to continue to pretend that i don't know what i am talking about, by all means.... i can't stop you....
Posted by Moroni23 6 years ago
Moroni23
Belle.. you must not have read the links i posted. Its not just a simple pattern... its very complex and it was hidden, I don't feel like reiterating these points again so please just read the links before you post comments like that -.-.
Posted by belle 6 years ago
belle
not to mention the fact that he ignored pucks request R1 to hold off on arguments until R2 AND he introduced new arguments in the last round after forfeiting his second round, thus giving puck no opportunity to rebut them and forcing him to waste a round. i mean honestly... are people that easily swayed by an accusation of bias?
Posted by belle 6 years ago
belle
@Kahvan- forfeit= conduct win, huh?

@Moroni- you don't have to know its named a chiasmus to pick up the pattern (consciously or not) and use it in your own work. if you've ever read any kind of distinctive writing and then attempted to write something yourself you will know how easy it is to pick up styles effortlessly. add to that the fact that Joseph Smith WANTED his work to sound similar to the bible... and its really not all that impressive at all. and really, how can a literary technique be "hidden" in a book that was practically memorized by the majority of the population at the time?
Posted by Moroni23 7 years ago
Moroni23
Lol thanks :), but we shall see.
Posted by Jewboy23 7 years ago
Jewboy23
I would have to agree with con 4 this 1. Good luck to you Con, i think people are hella bias on this site.
Posted by Moroni23 7 years ago
Moroni23
tBoonePickens
sigh....
Chiasmus is as old as the Bible itself, proving the Bible is an ancient document coming from Hebrew decent. in the late 1500's we see SMALL examples of chiasmus in Shakespearean writings for example
"Cease to lament for that thou canst not help;
And study help for that which thou lament'st."
Nowhere near as to the extent of the Bible itself, or the BOM for that matter. After this time period chiasmus seemed to die out other than small quintessential pieces (like Shakespeare's), which would easily be debated simply a cause of repetition. There is absolutely NO findings of chiasmus in ANY piece of literature from the 1800's. Just because it was there doesn't mean scholars knew about it. It is from my understanding that chiasmus was first found in the Bible during the 1920's, then found in the BOM in 1967. If Joseph Smith had knowledge of this chiasmus, why wouldn't he, or he would have somebody else, point it out during his lifetime? Surely it would of strengthened his case.
http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu...
Anyways all of this, and more, was addressed in either the debate, the comments, or the forum.
Posted by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
Chiasmus is as old as the Bible itself. It was used by Shakespeare as well. It was known to the world, it has been none to the world, and will continue to be know. It may have fallen out of use & become less popular or less known but NOT unknown.
Posted by Puck 7 years ago
Puck
Probably would have been smart to refute the specific arguments as to why it wasn't then. Since you didn't ...
Posted by Moroni23 7 years ago
Moroni23
Belle
It was hidden in the bible so it WAS unknown to the world in the 1830's, it wasn't until they found it in the bible in the 1900's, that they also realized it resided within the BOM as well.

Puck
It frustrated me that you claimed it wasn't a true chiasmus so i had to explain exactly what a chiasmus was, your source was faulty , Alma 36 is a true chiasmus, and a beautiful one at that. :)
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