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  MICHAEL R. ASH
Total Articles: 26
Michael R. Ash is a Mormon Apologist.
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More Comments On Michael Ash's Flawed Logic
Thursday, Jan 1, 2009, at 05:33 PM
Original Author(s): Randy Jordan
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
More comments on Michael Ash's flawed logic as well as that of his Morgbot compadres. This post is a follow-up to "Shaken Up's" post about his family giving him Ash's book "Shaken Faith Syndrome" for Christmas. A few months ago, Ash spent a few days on RFM trolling for material. He addressed some posters' comments in an article on his blog at

http://www.fairblog.org/2008/10/07/ra...

Ash addressed this question that was originally asked on RFM:
If genetic anthropologists proved that Native American DNA matched Israeli Jew DNA, what would you do? .[I]f evidence started to point decisively in the direction of [Mormonism]., would you believe again? .How much evidence would it take for you to concede a point in the [Mormon Church's].scientific favor? Some of the replies were interesting as well as telling. "Randy J." replied:

No, because the BOM was discredited long before DNA testing existed.. The DNA results merely confirm what we already knew. The only way that any DNA testing could ever support the BOM would be if they were faked or misread. There's no evidence whatsoever anywhere in the Americas to show that the people and cultures described in the BOM ever existed.


Then Ash writes of my response:
What interesting circular logic. According to this critic, DNA science proves that the Book of Mormon is fictional. If DNA science were to confirm the Book of Mormon, then the DNA science must be fake or misread because we already know that the Book of Mormon is fictional.
Ash is apparently too dense to understand that answering a hypothetical "if, then" question like this requires taking all previously known information into consideration. The fact is that every other item of evidence, or point of research, into the BOM's authenticity, consistently shows it to be a fraud. Therefore, the question about Isaeli DNA being found in the Americas is moot, and thus my response is hardly "circular logic" as Ash asserts.

To illustrate Ash's position (and mindset) with an analogy: Let's say that Ash was a believer in, and an advocate for, the existence of Bigfoot. A skeptic, debating the issue, might argue "There's no reason to believe Bigfoot exists until an actual specimen is secured and authenticated." And a TBB (troo Bigfoot believer) might protest, "If a Bigfoot was captured, would you believe then?"

That's pretty much what happened with the case of the alleged find of a Sasquatch corpse in Georgia a few months ago. Even though no actual specimen has ever been secured, after centuries of alleged reported sightings, a couple of TBBs on this BB defended the Georgia "find" right up until it was determined to be a fraud. My point to this analogy being that we skeptics didn't need to wait until the fraud was exposed to know whether or not it was legit; we already knew it was a fraud because all prior evidence indicated that to be the case.

A coupla comments on some of the responses from Mormons to Ash's blog article---one Marcus Brody intelligently wrote:
Here is a question for you, however. It is a "flip-flop" kind of question of the statement posed on p.13 of your book. "If there were some irrefutable evidence that Mormonism was false, would you still accept the (LDS) Church?" If your answer is "Yes, because I know it to be True", then you are no better than those you criticize.
Attaboy, Marcus!

Seth R. wrote:
The options aren't just stay faithful or leave and fight it you know.

There are already people who go to LDS meetings every week and don't believe the historical claims of the LDS religion. On the internet, they sometimes go by the label of "New Order Mormons." They go to church or for family, cultural, social, and even spiritual reasons. But they do not believe a lot of the Church's claims.

If I felt like I had irrefutable evidence that Joseph was not a prophet and the Book of Mormon was a hoax, I might go that direction myself.
It's encouraging to see some Mormons calling Ash on his flawed logic on his own blog. It's also nice to see Mormons, on a pro-Mormon forum, acknowledge that there are many other Mormons who already don't accept the BOM as authentic. If the Mopologists can't even convince their own members, how can they hope to bring us Ex-Mormons back to the fold?

One of the big-time FAIRies, Allen Wyatt, replied to Marcus's question:

Marcus said:
"If there were some irrefutable evidence that Mormonism was false, would you still accept the (LDS) Church?"

For me the answer is no, I wouldn't. If I came across irrefutable evidence that it were false, I would be gone in a heartbeat.
IMO, that's quite an admission from one of the Morg's most prominent apologists. Too bad he's in denial of the fact that irrefutable evidence already shows the church to be false.

Ash then dumbs things back down by answering Marcus's question with:

>If there was- what I saw as- irrefutable evidence that that Mormonism was false, I would leave. If God or Jesus came to me and said that it was false, I would leave. As Allen notes, irrefutable could be a tough determination. If, for example, a document was found - written by Joseph Smith - that laid out his plan to con the public with a fictional Book of Mormon, that would do it.

If youse can't spot the illogic in this response, I'll spell it out for you: Ash presumes that such beings as "God" and "Jesus" actually exist to be able to tell him that Mormonism is false. Ash is viewing the issues through his Mormon/Christian paradigm, rather than applying logic and reason. Considering that mentality, he's hardly in a position to criticize my logic.

Ash's comment about finding an incriminating document written by Joseph Smith is equally silly: There are already DOZENS of documents written by Smith, or by some of his scribes or other close followers, which clearly show Mormonism to be a fraud, and Smith to be a deceiver of low character.

Ash's comment is about as intelligent as someone who believes OJ Simpson didn't kill Ron and Nicole saying "I won't believe OJ Simpson killed Ron and Nicole unless he told me himself." Well DUHHH, it's highly unlikely that OJ would ever admit to the killings, just as it's unlikely we'll find a document written by Joseph Smith which proved Mormonism false. But it wouldn't matter, because the evidence has already proved the issue.

It's apparent that some TBMs are relying on Michael Ash's book to maintain their faith. I'm posting these additional comments to illustrate Ash's illogical and nonsensical arguments. My point is that Ash's apologetics are no different, no newer, and no better than those of FARMS and FAIR in past years.

On his blog article comments section, Ash refers a respondent asking about the issue of horses in the BOM to his 2007 FAIR convention presentation, which is on-line at

http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon...
Perhaps deer or tapirs pulled wheelless chariots. We know, for instance, that the American Indian travois (a kind of sled) was pulled, not only by horses, but also by dogs. Maybe King Lamoni used a deer or tapir-drawn travois to cart his supplies while traveling. The mass Nephite movement to Zarahemla certainly suggests that chariots were used to carry supplies rather than soldiers.

It's also possible that Nephite "horses"--at least when associated with chariots--were among the provisions that King Lamoni needed during his travels (we know that horses were part of the provisions which the Nephites reserved for themselves when fighting the Gadianton Robbers [3 Nephi 4:4]). Perhaps "preparing" the horses and chariots would be like "preparing the chicken and backpack." To modern ears this doesn't suggest that the chicken will carry the backpack but rather than a chicken meal will be prepared to go in the backpack. If Book of Mormon horses were eaten, they may have been one of the provisions loaded on a "chariot" and carried or dragged by men.
As I say above, this line of "reasoning" isn't new among Mopologists. What these silly theories ignore is the fact that the alleged "Book of Mormon people" came from Palestine, where they knew all about horses and chariots. If the "horses" and "chariots" mentioned in the BOM weren't the same things that ancient Hebrews knew them to be, then the "BOM people" wouldn't have called them that, because whatever animal they called a "horse", and whatever implement they called a "chariot", weren't used in the same way as ancient Hebrews used them.

I call this tactic of Mopologists the "word substitution" theory, meaning, if items mentioned in the BOM don't match with known archaelogy, anthropology, etc., then the apologists merely substitute similar words in order to erase the BOM anachronism---in this case, horse becomes tapir or deer, and chariot becomes travois or sled. Or, as Ash ridiculously suggests, the horses were prepared as food and transported on chariots. The problem with these arguments is that if the apologists have to change the meanings of words in the BOM, the book as written can easily become meaningless. For instance, "2000 stripling warriors" can become "half a dozen lame midgets," if that's what the apologist needs to do in order to reconcile an anachronism.

To minimize the call for evidence of horses in ancient America, Ash wrote:
In the 4th and 5th centuries AD, the Huns of Central Asia and Eastern Europe had so many horses that estimates suggest that each warrior may have had up to ten horses. Horses were the basis of their wealth and military power. According to a non-LDS leading authority on the zoological record for central Asia, however, we know very little of the Huns' horses, and not a single usable horse bone has been found in the territory of the whole empire of the Huns.55 Based on the fact that other--once thriving--animals have disappeared (often with very little trace), it is not unreasonable to suggest that the same thing might have happened with the Nephite "horse."
Being a typical apologist, Ash quotes *one* source which has written something that supports his position, but he doesn't bother to check if that source is accurate or valid. Here's an old ARM post in which I refute a TBM named Charles Dowis on this point:

http://groups.google.com/group/alt.re...

And here some citations of ancient European horse finds provided by an Ex-Mormon zoologist on ARM:

http://groups.google.com/group/alt.re...

As these posts were written several years ago, and Ash made his assertions in a FAIR convention just last year, it's obvious that he merely repeated some other Mopologist's assertions without bothering to check if they were accurate or if there is any research to contradict it. And that behavior is typical of Mopologists---they keep on repeating the same old, tired arguments, quoting each other, without bothering to do their own research.
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Michael Ash's Latest-Claims Book Of Mormon Reformed Egyptian Supported
Tuesday, Oct 27, 2009, at 09:28 AM
Original Author(s): Mms
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
Michael Ash's latest effort to approach serious problems with overly simplistic and not-quite-the-whole-story solutions is here:

http://mormontimes.com/mormon_voices/...
The Book of Mormon's "reformed Egyptian" fits neatly into what is currently known about ancient history and the modification of Egyptian texts. In the next installment we'll examine the translating aides utilized by the prophet.
Really? "[F]its neatly" into what we know about ancient history? Really?

Again, overstating the case diminishes credibility. Whether one is arguing for the Church's position or against, little is to be gained in the long run by over-simplification and disengenuous spinning of the arguments. Michael Ash must know quite well that it is an overstatement of significant proportion to claim what he has claimed here. There may be some short-term gratification that comes from his effort--just as there will be(is) from Elder Holland's over-simplified, illogical and ad hominem approach to the arguments against the BoM in his recent conference address--but in the end, when the arguments are examined, Mr. Ash will not be taken seriously,as there is nothing "neat" about how the BoM fits into what scholars have learned about ancient history.
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Incompetent, Unethical Or Just Plain Negligent?
Wednesday, Oct 20, 2010, at 07:33 AM
Original Author(s): Fetal Deity
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
Mike Ash says Jaredite barges had ventilators. The article by Ash is found at the following link:

http://www.mormontimes.com/article/17...

I forced myself to read the ENTIRE piece (every word was excrutiating!) to get a sense of what Ash's premise was. Basically, as per Mopologist practice, he was trying to show that certain informational elements in the BoM are historically legitimate, but were "... likely unavailable to Joseph Smith." In the article, he made the following claim (citing Hugh Nibley, of course!):
"While the tale of [the 'brother of Jared's'] 'shining stones' has elicited the laughs of critics, we find that the story is perfectly at home in ancient lore. According to the ancient Palestine Talmud, for example, the Ark was illuminated with a miraculous light-giving stone.

"Such information was likely unavailable to Joseph Smith. As Dr. Nibley explains, of the four copies of the Palestine Talmud that mention the Ark's shining stones, two appeared 30 years after Joseph had already translated the Book of Mormon. When the Book of Mormon was published, there was not a single translation of the Palestine Talmud available in any modern language."
So I decided to do a quick check to see if the legend of shining stones illuminating Noah's Ark was really THAT obscure at the time the Book of Mormon was produced. It took me all of thirty seconds to go to "Google Books" advanced search feature and produce the following results:

http://www.google.com/search?tbs=bks:...

As you can see, several of the very first results refer directly to the tradition of a shining stone being the source of illumination in the Ark of Noah--and all of these sources were published, in English, well before the publication of the Book of Mormon. (One of the sources even refers to the light-giving rock as the "Philosopher's Stone" or "Urim and Thummim!") And while it is perhaps unlikely that Joseph Smith (or other authors of the BoM) had direct access to all of these sources, it seems VERY likely that ordained ministers and other associates and contemporaries of Smith, et al., would have had access to at least SOME of them. And perhaps most notably, one of books listed in the Google Books search is a Bible, with commentary written by Adam Clarke, a Methodist theologian whose commentary was used extensively for two centuries by the Methodist church.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Cla...

This fact is especially interesting because Joseph Smith stated in his own words that he preferred the Methodists and that they were the initiators of the revival he recalls in his personal history (see verses 5,8,9 and 21):

http://scriptures.lds.org/en/js_h/1

(So it would actually seem UNLIKELY that Joseph Smith did NOT have access to Clarke's commentary and what it says regarding the source of light within Noah's Ark!)

In conclusion, it must be conceded that Michael Ash either:

Is not AWARE of these sources and how accessible they are? (Ignorant!)

OR

PURPOSELY did not include them in his article? (Unethical!)

OR

Simply "FORGOT" to do a thirty-second search on Google Books as I--a RANK amateur--was able to do? (Negligent!)
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Michael Ash - Book Of Mormon People Carried And Ate Horses
Tuesday, Nov 2, 2010, at 07:41 AM
Original Author(s): Infymus
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
Michael R. Ash states that Book Of Mormon people possibly ate horses. This is contrary to what Daniel C. Peterson has claimed - that horses were actually tapirs.
It's also possible that Nephite "horses"--at least when associated with chariots--were among the provisions that King Lamoni needed during his travels (we know that horses were part of the provisions which the Nephites reserved for themselves when fighting the Gadianton Robbers [3 Nephi 4:4]). Perhaps "preparing" the horses and chariots would be like "preparing the chicken and backpack." To modern ears this doesn't suggest that the chicken will carry the backpack but rather than a chicken meal will be prepared to go in the backpack. If Book of Mormon horses were eaten, they may have been one of the provisions loaded on a "chariot" and carried or dragged by men.
http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/AshHorse/#enloc48
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And Now That I've Had My Fun - Ash And His Limited Geography
Tuesday, Nov 2, 2010, at 07:56 AM
Original Author(s): Sl Cabbie
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
(With a Cabbie shrug of my shoulders to the late Arnold Friberg, who really was a nice enough guy and a talented artist)

Here is some further deconstruction of Ash's claims...
Dr. John E. Clark, professional archaeologist and former director of the New World Archaeological Foundation...
The "New World Archaeological Foundation" is entirely operated by BYU, and as a non-Mormon archaeologist friend of mine who taught at the University of Utah noted, mere association with Utah and Mormons has hurt her professionally. BOM claims are wholly unrecognized by the archaeology community at large. Having reviewed much of the literature from them involving Native American origins as well as "the diffusionists," there is a remarkable diversity of beliefs (with many, such as Dennis Stanford's and Betty Megger's claims, straining the tolerances of my credibility structures past the breaking point), and yet the BOM is still considered nonsense except by LDS "scholars."

Ash is being utterly dishonest with this one,
One of the things we cannot currently utilize as a supporting evidence for any model is DNA. As noted previously, the best DNA studies are unable to prove or disprove the Book of Mormon or to support one particular geographic model.
Purists will claim "it is impossible to prove a negative," but what the DNA models (and the linguistic and the archaeological evidence) show is overwhelming support for Siberian/Beringia origins for all Native Americans.

The simple analogy is that ten thousand marbles in a pile of ten thousand and fifty marbles have been examined, and they've all been found to be red, yellow, white, pink, and orange...

But dagnabbit, Ash is insisting there will be some blue or green ones in the few remaining...

I mean there has to be... The BOM says so...

As for John L. Sorenson, the anthropologist/diffusionist who is credited with the LGT, Part II of my debunking of his fringe nonsense will be forthcoming...
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Limited Geography Theory By Michael Ash
Tuesday, Nov 2, 2010, at 07:54 AM
Original Author(s): Jw The Inquizzinator
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
"Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Proximity and distances in Book of Mormon geography"

http://www.mormontimes.com/article/18...

Author: Michael R. Ash, Source: For Mormon Times, 01 November 2010 4:00am

Snippets:
"While a hemispheric model for Book of Mormon geography looks attractive to modern readers familiar with maps of North and South America, when we closely examine the text, it becomes apparent that such a model is untenable. As anthropologist Dr. John Sorenson pointed out years ago, the Nephite scripture consistently points to relatively short distances between Book of Mormon cities.

While the Book of Mormon doesn't actually give us distances, it occasionally tells us how long it took to travel from one city to another. We know from both ancient and modern sources how long it typically took people (if they were traveling as soldiers or as families with provisions) to move through various terrains from one location to another. Plugging this same data into the Book of Mormon allows us to estimate the distance between locations.

When an internal map is constructed on the approximate distance between Book of Mormon cities and their spatial relation to other Book of Mormon cities, we come to the inescapable conclusion that the Book of Mormon events took place in a very limited area – probably no more than a few hundred miles; perhaps the size of Tennessee (although the Nephites and Lamanites may have interacted with people or places that extended beyond their vicinity)...."

"....One of the things we cannot currently utilize as a supporting evidence for any model is DNA. As noted previously, the best DNA studies are unable to prove or disprove the Book of Mormon or to support one particular geographic model. Dr. John E. Clark, professional archaeologist and former director of the New World Archaeological Foundation, explains one very important point about the formulation of any Book of Mormon geographic model:

"Most members of the Church, when confronted with a Book of Mormon geography, worry about the wrong things. Almost invariably the first question that arises is whether the geography fits the archaeology of the proposed area. This should be our second question, the first being whether the geography fits the facts of the Book of Mormon – a question we all can answer without being versed in American archaeology. Only after a given geography reconciles all of the significant geographic details given in the Book of Mormon does the question of archaeological and historical detail merit attention. The Book of Mormon must be the final and most important arbiter in deciding the correctness of a given geography; otherwise we will be forever hostage to the shifting sands of expert opinion."

The first thing that Clark suggests is to build an "internal" map that fits the text. The internal map can then be used in an attempt to match real world locations in the Americas. In the following articles we'll examine the internal map and some of the competing models."
Oh yea, that's a much better way to figure things out. Make a map of your pretend book, then go out looking for a place that might fit your map....

Wouldn't want archaeology, geology, anthropology, meteorology, ethnology, genetics, hydrology, philology, botany, or zoology to get in the way of your cartology.
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Michael Ash Now Substituting Fantasy And Distortion For Scholarship
Tuesday, Nov 9, 2010, at 08:37 AM
Original Author(s): Sl Cabbie
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
I ran across this one while investigating a possible post for another thread, and I decided the issue is strong enough to stand on its own. I've posted many times here about "hyper-diffusionists," those archaeologists on the fringes who claim there was transoceanic contact between Old World Civilizations and the New World before 1492 (other than the known Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland and possible Polynesian contact with Native Americans along the Pacific coast. In the case of the Vikings, there's overwhelming proof in the form of the ruins of their dwellings; in the latter there is evidence from boat construction techniques and fishhooks that Native Americans may have learned about from seafarers from the west).

A recent History Channel offering on the subject from last summer, "Who Really Discovered America?" was dismissed by one RFM regular, an actual archaeologist, who characterized it as "shit." Having sat through the program, which included references to Gavin Menzies--a pseudo-scholar whose claims about Chinese seafaring have prompted an entire armada of researchers to denounce him and create several websites with that goal in mind--and even having chased down some references to other bits of "evidence"--all of which vanished into a cloud of easily debunked lies and nonsense--I couldn't argue with his assessment.

This is, incidentally, the consensus of much of the archaeological community, per Wiki...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Colu...
Many such contacts have been proposed, based on historical accounts, archaeological finds, and cultural comparisons. However, claims of such contacts are controversial and hotly debated, due in part to much ambiguous or circumstantial evidence cited by proponents. Only one instance of pre-Columbian European contact - the Norse settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada c. 1000 C.E. - is regarded by scholars as demonstrated. The scientific responses to other pre-Columbian contact claims range from consideration in peer-reviewed publications to dismissal as fringe science or pseudoarcheology.
Br. Ash would have us believe otherwise...

http://www.mormontimes.com/article/17...
While LDS scholars agree with non-LDS scholars that the New World was populated primarily by humans who traversed the Bering Strait thousands of years ago, a growing number of non-LDS scholars agree with LDS scholars that there was transoceanic contact between the Old and New Worlds in ancient times
. Ash makes the following claim:
In an article in Archaeology magazine, for instance, E. James Dixon explained that some of the most ancient early American sites were in South America - contrary to what one would expect if all ancient Americans had first arrived by way of the Bering Strait (near Alaska).

"According to this line of reasoning," writes Dixon, "early humans first entered the Americas by transoceanic voyages across the Pacific Ocean from Asia" and then would have "gradually spread northward from there." He suggests that anciently, there may have been "numerous contacts, and probably even population movements across the Pacific between Asia and North America" ("The Origins of the First Americans," [March/April 1985], 26-27).
Please note the 1985 date on the citation... I bring that up because I found the following by Dixon available on "Google Books."

http://books.google.com/books?id=3t2d...
Transoceanic voyages across the Atlantic or the Pacific also have been considered as a possible means by which humans may have first colonized the Americas. However, some writers have abused the concept in an attempt to explain cultural traits between the two hemispheres, including similarities in art, pyramid building, and ritual practices. Recent archaeological discoveries in Australia and western Polynesia indicate that ocean-going watercraft have been in existence for the past 35,000 year (footnoted). Although people were to reach the islands of Oceania during mid-to late Holocene times (footnoted), it has not been demonstrated that humans were capable of making transoceanic crossings while carrying enough people and provisions to make colonization of the Americas possible. While New World archaeologists keep their minds open to the possibilities of transoceanic voyages both across the Pacific and Atlantic, currently there is not adequate archaeological evidence for watercraft capable of crossing the broad expanses of the oceans during the Pleistocene.
Dixon, p. 34; the publication date is 1999...

It's fairly apparent that Ash probably read Dixon's summary of an "alternative point-of-view" and attributed it to him. What follows, however, is the shoddy scholarship typical of LDS apologists; either Dixon later modified his views for one reason or another, and Ash failed to investigate further, or he distorted what Dixon actually said in the first place.

In either case, what is telling is not only the overwhelming absence of archaeological evidence for such contacts, but also the corresponding absence of introduced DNA as well...

Mythical oceans voyages such as Lehi's simply didn't occur. Yes, pre-historic humans managed open ocean crossings to Australia and Pacific Islands, but these were on tropical seas when sea levels were much lower than they are today. And it's a far cry from sailing a hundred miles or so to making an ocean voyage thirty to fifty times longer.

http://www.atrium-media.com/rogueclas...

Roman Ships in Brazil:
I've been on various email lists for well over a decade and it is interesting how things seem to resurface on a semi-regular basis. This morning, the thing that resurfaced on the Imperial Rome list was the story that a Roman shipwreck had been found near Rio di Janiero. The reference on the list was to an article from February, 2002 in Dockwalk, a magazine/ezine for the boating set, which has most of the standard details.

The story, in brief, goes something like this: fishermen working in Guanabara Bay kept bringing up strange pottery in their fishing nets. Eventually an "authority on Roman shipwrecks" named Robert Marx is called onto the scene to investigate. He finds amphorae (sometimes it's just the necks) which are given to an unnamed world authority on amphorae, who in turn, claims they were originally from Morocco. Other objects are sometimes said to have been found -- in the Dockwalk piece, these include marble items and a fibula. Out of all this is built a story that some Roman trading ship based in the Azores was blown off course and ended up in Guanabara Bay -- it gains plausibility, supposedly, by noting that modern sailing vessels can make this trip in eighteen days. Then more details get added to the story, such as the discovery of a horde of Roman coins and the ever-popular tribe of blue-eyed blond 'Indians' as being somehow connected to the ship. Also sometimes thrown into the mix is a tiny terra cotta head which supposedly sports a Phrygian cap and so is thought to hail from Europe long before Columbus sailed (I'll deal with this at another time).
(A Cabbie note about that "tiny terra cotta head": I'd love to read what he has to say about that one, since I've seen the pictures, and they get Mormon apologists all hot and bothered)
As far as I'm aware, none of this has ever been formally published in a peer-reviewed Classical/archaeological journal -- if it has, I would very much appreciate a reference. With that in mind, most of what I have been able to find out has come from the Internet. First of all, we should deal with the bona fides of the 'excavator' Robert Marx. He is not an academic and I think the jury is still out whether he warrants the moniker 'treasure hunter' or not. He certainly has dived on a large number of wrecks, as a sort of C.V.ish thing from an 'International Shipwreck Conference' shows.
Yeah, about those "bona fides" of Robert Marx... From his own website... http://www.theamericasgroup.com/rsops... Besides claiming exactly ninety hours of undergrad education (I graduated with nearly four times that amount) the find in question, mentioned above is...
51. Underwater archaeological survey conducted in Baia de Guanabara (Rio de Janeiro), Brazil, under auspices of the Naval Museum, on what is believed to be a possible Roman amphora carrier from the 2nd century BC. Three other shipwrecks found and surveyed on this site (16th, 17th and 20th centuries). September 1982 - February 1983.
Problem with the whole story is that it's absolutely consistent with typical exaggerated sociopathic storytelling; shoot, this guy has investigated as many lost shipwrecks as Mark Hofmann found documents... There's even the "breathless hint of a conspiracy" with the claim the Brazilian government hushed things up because their history says they were discovered by Portugal, not Italy... Seriously, I wonder how anyone could believe he found shipwrecks in the numbers he did in the timeframe...

Note this one...
65. Working with Seahawk Deep Ocean Technology and the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution; I directed a pre?disturbance survey of an early Spanish merchantman lying in over 1,000 feet of water off the coast of St. Augustine, Florida. The survey included gridding and making a photogrammatic mosaic of the site, as well as digging a number of test holes utilizing a Johnson?Sealink manned submersible. We filmed 225 hours of video during the operation. October, 1990.
In Malaysia in August, but able to get to St. Augustine, Florida within two months (presumably with equipment). Manages 225 hours of video shooting (underwater?) during that month...

Do the math, I'm on my last bullchip filter...

And a bit of cabdriver experience on the psychology of character-disordered sorts (mostly gleaned from painful experience). Those types have "radar" for each other (See Smith, Joseph, Jr. and Bennett, John C. as well as Smith, Joseph, Jr. and Young, Brigham). They can put together a song-and-dance routine complete with smoke-and-mirrors that'll leave ordinary mortals dazzled every time (Twain Mark: "Huckleberry Finn"). I've reached the point where I just collect the fare--assuming I'm able--and drive off...
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Attention: We Are All Wrong On The DNA Issue
Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010, at 07:51 AM
Original Author(s): Jesus Smith
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
"it’s very likely that Lehi and his sons would appear on the ancestral slot of virtually all Native Americans today. Recent studies [http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/ne...] demonstrate that many large groups of humans are related in distinct ways and that most people are descendants of Abraham. In fact, studies suggest that all of the people on earth today have a common ancestor who may have lived as recently as the time of Christ. Therefore, modern prophets have accurately referred to the people of North and South America – and even those of the Pacific Islands – as Lamanites. "
http://www.mormontimes.com/article/18...

The Most Intelligent DumbAsh in all of Mormondom has spoken (via Wired). We're all related. We're all Lamanites. It's like a Lamanite version of Kevin Bacon's six degrees. Lehi knew Bonk who beget Dimp who was related to Tom, who's my bishop.

Ok, how'd he figure this? Doing some dumbash math...let's see, if you go back 2000 years ago, with each generation averaging about 30 years between offspring, that's approximately 67 generations, each with two parents, giving us around 4,400 grandiose-parents of the 1BC era. That means one of your 4,400 grandiose parents probably was related to one of my 4,400 grandiose parents. And by that reasoning, we're all related (and by dumbash implication, we're commonly descended) because in every group of 4,400 of the old world, someone is related. And if all related, that means we all descended together!!!

This plants the genealogy tree on its ancestral head. It's ash-backward. lol

Taking it the other way, how far back does one go in human history before a person has a generation of 4,400 grandiose-kidlings? Historians estimate the pre-modern nominal birthrate to be about 1.2 kids per person (this is from memory, so someone please correct me). That being the case, and keeping a generation at 30 years, it would be ~33,000 years (33,000/30 ^1.2), historically, before a given person would have a single generation (average estimate) of ~4,400 persons. Yeah, 33,000 years ago, according to Moism, there wasn't even an earth.

Then there is this gem:
"All Native Americans can still be considered Lamanites from cultural as well as genealogical perspectives. Culturally, people of the United States are “Americans” even if they originally came here from Africa, Europe or Asia. And culturally, the descendants of this country’s indigenous inhabitants were once referred to as “Indians” – a term originally, and mistakenly, applied by Columbus. "
Hmmm. Has DumbAsh read his own Book of Mormon?
1 Nephi 12:1 And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Look, and behold thy seed, and also the seed of thy brethren. And I looked and beheld the land of promise; and I beheld multitudes of people, yea, even as it were in number as many as the sand of the sea.
Seed! , millions of them, we suppose. A "seedillion" of people As in...millions of literal descendants. Per this verse:
1 Ne 7:1 Lord spake unto him again, saying that it was not meet for him, Lehi, that he should take his family into the wilderness alone; but that his sons should take daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise.
What promise?
1 Ne 13:30-35 the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance...For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious
Sorry, but this is literal, not cultural.
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Michael Ash Attacking Great Lakes Theory In Mormon Times?
Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010, at 08:22 AM
Original Author(s): Justthinking
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
I see Michael Ash is launching an attack on the Cumorah in New York claims of Rodney Meldrum. Doesn't this all begin to look silly after awhile? Perhaps if the Central American model looked promising it would make sense, but that theory doesn't make any sense either. Are they trying to preserve their Book of Mormon tours business?

http://www.mormontimes.com/article/18...

Wait a sec!

Ash writes: "It’s certainly possible that Joseph accepted the early LDS designation of the New York hill as Cumorah,"

And my questions is: WTF?

Joseph "accepts" the "LDS designation"?

Who, per Ash, is leading who here? Who constitues the "LDS" that are coming up with geographic ideas that Joseph then "accepts".

If Pratt or Cowdery had suggested that Cumorah was another name for Bunker Hill in Boston, or Pike's Peak in Colorado, would Joseph have then "accepted" this as Church doctrine?

Mormon apologists should enter the Olympics: their convoluted spiral back flips with double spins in three directions would surely win them a medal!

ADDENDUM: Joseph Fielding Smith, Pres. of the Quorum of the Twelve and Prophet and Pres. of the Church had this to say about ideas such as Ash's:

"LOCALE OF CUMORAH, RAMAH, AND RIPLIANCUM. This modernistic theory of necessity, in order to be consistent, must place the waters of Ripliancum and the Hill Cumorah some place within the restricted territory of Central America, notwithstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years. Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. It is for this reason that evidence is here presented to show that it is not only possible that these places could be located as the Church has held during the past century, but that in very deed such is the case.

It is known that the Hill Cumorah where the Nephites were destroyed is the hill where the Jaredites were also destroyed. This hill was known to the Jaredites as Ramah. It was approximately near to the waters of Ripliancum, which the Book of Ether says, “by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all.”3 Mormon adds: “And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents round about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites.”4

EARLY BRETHREN LOCATE CUMORAH IN WESTERN NEW YORK. It must be conceded that this description fits perfectly the land of Cumorah in New York, as it has been known since the visitation of Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith, for the hill is in the proximity of the Great Lakes and also in the land of many rivers and fountains. Moreover, the Prophet Joseph Smith himself is on record, definitely declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon.5

Further, the fact that all of his associates from the beginning down have spoken of it as the identical hill where Mormon and Moroni hid the records, must carry some weight. It is difficult for a reasonable person to believe that such men as Oliver Cowdery, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, David Whitmer, and many others, could speak frequently of the spot where the Prophet Joseph Smith obtained the plates as the Hill Cumorah, and not be corrected by the Prophet, if that were not the fact. That they did speak of this hill in the days of the Prophet in this definite manner is an established record of history." . . . "PROPHET APPROVES OLIVER COWDERY’S VIEWS. The quibbler might say that this statement from Oliver Cowdery is merely the opinion of Oliver Cowdery and not the expression of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It should be remembered that these letters in which these statements are made were written at the Prophet’s request and under his personal supervision. Surely, under these circumstances, he would not have permitted an error of this kind to creep into the record without correction."

REF: WHERE IS THE HILL CUMORAH? Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3:232–243. emp.byui.edu/marrottr/Cumorah-JFeS-Do...

See also "Where is Cumorah" by Sandra Tanner http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/c...
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Mike Ash Sets Fire To Book Of Mormon Geography
Tuesday, Feb 1, 2011, at 05:04 PM
Original Author(s): Jesus Smith
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
See: http://www.mormontimes.com/article/19...

At first glance, his latest article almost passes as "anti-mormon" because he discredits many previous works of "scholarship" on the Book of Mormon.

But in the end, he is just downsizing the Apologetic Workforce to make sure the elite class he's in stays employed.

Scholarship of BoM Geography... OMG. These folks are really down deep in the rabbit hole.

First it was a hemispheric model. Then it was a great lakes model. Then it was in Chile. Then it was in mesoamerica. Now it is great lakes and mesoamerica battling it out. All this time, typical LDS read the BoM and still think hemispheric bacause the plain parts of the book of mormon make it plainly hemispheric. The precious parts (i.e., reading between the lines and inferring via "scholarship") lead one to realize that it's possible to fit other, limited (even vanishing) geography models.

In other words, the geography is all over the map (pun intended). Why? BECAUSE IT IS FICTION. It's like finding Narnia on maps of Europe. You can make up a literary fit all over the place.

Still, Ash makes it clear that there is room for "Scholarship" when done properly. How's that? Ash (quoting his buddy Soreson) tell us that bad scholarship:
"This . encourages critics . to set up a straw-man Book of Mormon, to attack based on what Mormons have said about it instead of what it says itself. "
Let's see, what does it say again?

Oh yeah....Horses, elephants, cattle, goats, wheat, barley, silk, steel, etc

We all agree, Ash, let's attack it on what it actually says. Calling a horse a tapir is exactly the kind of thing you are disdaining, and yet....

What else does it say? Let's examine the visit of Christ---the most important event of the BoM... After he visits, there's a society from the 35-220AD era that is unparalleled in human history. If the BoM were true, you couldn't help but stumble into a jaredite-boat load of archeological evidence greater than the Greek civilization. Cause there's never been a society that "good" in all of history.

According to 4 Nephi (http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/4-ne/1...) it was a society of:
  • huge population "multiplied" across the land (v. 10, 23)
  • great industry and building (v. 7-8, 26)
  • complete peace (v. 2, 4, 13, 15, 20)
  • little or no poverty (v. 4, 23)
  • no slavery (v. 3)
  • no racism; no segregation (v. 17)
  • all Christian white meat; no idolatry (v. 2 and 3 Ne 8-9 (http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/3-ne/8...), 4 Ne:2)
Instead of a populous christian society, the major mesoamerican populations of that era (~150AD) practiced a not-so christian human and infant sacrifice at the temple (Teotihuacan) that is host to the god that many Mops believe represent Christ (Quetzalcoatl). (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_o...).

Instead of worshiping Christ and his sky daddy, the Teotihuac n civilization worshiped a plurality of gods

(http://www.world-mysteries.com/mpl_7.... and http://archaeology.la.asu.edu/teo/int...)

But didn't AmeriChrist wipe out all the wicked? (3 Nephi 8 and 9) How could there be human sacrifice, war, racism, slavery, infanticide, idolatry, etc. in mesoamerica at the same time the nephites who spread over the face of the whole land were the bestest christians ever known? Ash?

The vikings visited a remote (limited geography) location of icy Canada and left lab-fulls of trace evidence. Smith's Nephite population claimed to spread righteously, industriously, peacefully and prosperously from sea to sea over the face of the whole land leaves nothing except a bitter taste in our mouths.

Get an F-ing clue, Ash.
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Pinata Boy: A Journey Across The "Narrow Mind"
Tuesday, Mar 8, 2011, at 08:04 AM
Original Author(s): Jesus Smith
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
Michael Ash, our favorite pinata to whack, has a yet another vanishing geography article.

http://www.mormontimes.com/article/19...

His arguments are nothing new. Just iterations on the old one. The only slightly newish twist is his connection between "tecuani" and "man-eating beast", relating to the "Hermounts" of Alma 2:37-38 which talks about wild beasts in an area that might have been part of the narrow neck of land, if Smith hadn't been so vague on details.

The point in that is that he found a word that tentatively, indirectly, kind of can be related to the idea of the narrow neck of land if you squint real hard while standing on your head and scratch your butt with your left index finger. Otherwise, it is silliness to those standing upright.

Most moaps follow John Sorenson's faulty compass and agree that the BoM happened somewhere in Mesoamerica distributed roughly around the Isthmus of Tehuantepec ("narrow neck of land"). The BoM clearly states this narrow neck of land divided the north and south lands. But the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is most definitely positioned East/West. Sorenson puts the Nephite East Sea in the gulf to the north, and the West Sea in the south (Pacific). See below.



Sorenson makes up this fault by giving examples from a number of cultures to demonstrate that human societies handle directionality and the labeling of directions in diverse ways. In his argument, Sorenson points out a strange Hebrew directional scheme which had east as forward, north as left hand, south as right hand, and west as seaward. For Mr. Sorenson, Lehi was "confused" (John L's word) by his new American surroundings and "assumed" that west was seaward. Cause that's the way it was back around Jerusalem.

Ok. Nephi built a boat. Lehi got a Liahona compass. They sailed accurately between continents. Nephi built a temple with specific directionality of a dawn-facing entry.

But they got confused when they got here about which way the sun rose and set.

Yeah, that makes so much sense, Mr. Sorenson. John probably has a bad sense of direction, as he's yet to find his own ass. Or perhaps he has his thumb up his, as this model ignores the sore-thumb on the map we call the Yucatan Peninsula. This large chunk of thumb-like land is never mentioned in the BoM. But there was a large Classic era, contemporary civilization up in Peten, and more going to the north tip.

Also, it should be noted to the Moaps, especially Ash, that prophets have defended against them.
"Why not leave hidden the things that the Lord has hidden? If He wants the geography of the Book of Mormon revealed, He will do so through His prophet, and not through some writer who wishes to enlighten the world despite his utter lack of inspiration on the point."
- Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, 5:83 (source http://www.mormonwiki.org/Geography_and_the_Book_of_Mormon)
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Michael Ash's Article Entitled "Proof Is In The Eye Of The Beholder"
Thursday, Mar 24, 2011, at 07:08 AM
Original Author(s): Tarski
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
What follows is my review of Michael Ash's article entitled "Proof is in the Eye of the Beholder".

This is article is discussed in another thread but I thought I would take the liberty of making my review the OP of a separate thread.

The first point concerns the title of course. It is very nearly a self contradiction as it seems to make questions of proof subjective while the intent of a proof is to reach toward the ideal of objectivity. Imagine if proof really were in the eye of the beholder without residue. What would be the point of the effort of lawyers in the courtroom and what would become of science and mathematics?

In what follows, quotes from the article in color:
"Critics frequently claim that one reason they reject the Book of Mormon is because it is unsupported by archaeological evidence. Some have gone as far to claim that they would believe in the church if archeology could “prove” that the Book of Mormon is true."
I see no reason to not take to word of any critic who says this. Does Ash wish to assert that such a person is lying? Of course, it is clear that logically speaking, the book of Mormon could be historically accurate (sans the miracles) and the Brighamite branch of the Mormon religion may still fall short of being God's chosen church. So anyone who demands more is well within the bounds of reason.
I should note two important points regarding the nature of evidence and the necessity of faith. First, I’m unconvinced that any critic would “convert” because of some alleged “proof” because I doubt that any “proof” could ever satisfy those who have truly hardened their hearts against Joseph Smith.
Why put proof in scare quotes? Is the notion of proof to be challenged? Would anything be substantially different if that word were avoided and replaced by talk of compelling evidence and warrant for belief? Certainly, it is not inconceivable in principle, or at least it isn't logically impossible, that convincing evidence could be forthcoming.

Asking for evidence for admittedly fantastic claims seems like common sense and one can observe people functioning on this basis when they buy cars or consider the plausibility of claims such as those put forth by other cults, religions and conspiracy theory groups. Furthermore, the weight of evidence should be commensurate with the "extraordinariness" of what is claimed. Since the Book of Mormon involves us in quite a few outlandish claims and since commitment to the associated religion is a costly and life changing affair, it sure seems that a great deal of evidence is called for--perhaps to the point of making the use of the word proof quite appropriate. Of course, we all know that Mormon religionists wish us to sidestep ordinary protocols of evidence and seek an ill defined inner experience with the Holy Ghost. The very fact that the set of putative truths arrived at by such mystical means is a massive self contradictory mess should deter us from going down that road. Even other Christians are skeptical of Moroni's promise as having any epistemic value. Indeed, it is amazing that a higher percentage of people seeking such personal revelation do not end up with some kind of inner experience leading to conviction for merely psychological reasons. If enough people try it, there need only be a small percentage get a positive conviction to make a church grow. And, such percentages can be merely flukes of human nature and human psychological frailty.
Some time back, for example, one angry message-board critic wrote that “even if modern DNA studies” exhibited an Israelite presence in the ancient Americas, it would “not in the slightest … lend some credence to Mormon truth claims.”
Since there is no such evidence the point is mute. Nevertheless, it is in fact true that an Israelite presence in the ancient Americas would have quite real but earthly consequences for archeology and given the grand supernatural claims of the LDS religion and the mountain of both conceptual and evidential problems, it would surely be imprudent to jump to the conclusion that the LDS church is all it claims to be.

But again, no such evidence exists commensurate with the magnitude of the claims ( NHM notwithstanding).
All such a find would do, he argues, would confirm what many people in Joseph Smith’s day already believed – the “common belief in the United States 175 years ago, that the (American Indian) was a descendant of the Israelites” (quoted in "Shaken Faith Syndrome," 54).
Indeed! Is this valid point supposed to be dispensed with by the mere mention of it?
This would be the critic’s likely response to virtually any evidence found to support the Book of Mormon. If a text was uncovered in an ancient Mesoamerican ruin that was translated to say “Nephi slept here,” the majority of critics would still not be satisfied, and issues would be raised. “How do we know that the text really dates from Book of Mormon times?” “How do we know the text wasn’t planted by a BYU archaeologist?”
Asking relevant "how do we know questions" is what anyone with a scientific attitude should do. Such questions should surely be asked. Are we being intimidated into a credulous stance?
Because such a text would not have been written in English, challenges would arise regarding the translation to the English “Nephi” and the decision to use all those specific Latin letters in the English rendition of Nephi’s name. Even if it could be shown that the name was really “Nephi,” critics would simply contend that this was an example of a fantastic coincidence – such as the bizarre coincidence that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who wrote and edited the Declaration of Independence which was adopted on July 4, 1776, both died exactly 50 years later on July 4, 1826.
Does Mr Ash think that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both passing away exactly 50 years after 1776 would be anything but a coincidence?

I can't really tell what the point is here but again I see no "bizarre" coincidences. Only coincidences. What would Ash make of the fact that my ex-wife, current wife, and my son's wife all have the same birthday of April 16.
The late Hugh Nibley once observed: “When a man asks for proof we can be pretty sure that proof is the last thing in the world he really wants. His request is thrown out as a challenge, and the chances are that he has no intention of being shown up.”
Hmm, so when a woman claims her child is mine and I ask for proof, is proof the last thing I really want? When someone claims a medicine can cure cancer and I ask for proof is it the case that the last thing I really want is proof? Let's face it, this is certainly the most ridiculous assertion so far.

But wait, the best is yet to come:
Secondly, the Lord doesn’t work via secular proofs because that would confound the primary principle of agency. While there are evidences that support religious convictions, there are no intellectually decisive proofs, and there will always be evidences that conflict with our beliefs (see 2 Nephi 2:11-16).
The stupidity of this idea is only exceeded by it's popularity with apologists. People unthinkingly repeat it and then metaphorically stare us down as if to hypnotize us into thinking it is obvious. It isn't. I have yet to see anyone make real sense of the idea that knowing what the facts are, deprives us of freedom. Quite the opposite is true. The freedom to make intelligent choices is only enhanced by knowledge of the pertinant facts. When we teach our children that speeding cars can kill them are we taking away their freedom? When we reveal to them that there are police officers who may arrest them if they commit crimes are we limiting their freedom? If they ask us to prove it and we do, have we ruined their freedom?

How absurd?!

As I know more about the layout of a city, am I progressively limiting my freedom to navigate that city?

Do we withhold facts or proofs or evidence from our children in the hopes of making them more free? Do we, like God, hide proof of our very existence in hopes that they may be free to act without fear of disappointing us?

In most concievable circumstances, knowledge of the facts, even proof of those facts, will not limit our freedom but rather usually the reverse. That one could concoct bizzare thought experiments where the opposite seems to be the case does not ruin that fact that certain knowledge almost always enhances freedom. Our lack of certain knowledge on many things is only a lamentable fact of life and not some kind of intrinsic virtue.
LDS scholar Terryl Givens explains: “(T)here are appealing arguments for God as a childish projection, for modern prophets as scheming or deluded imposters, and for modern scriptures as so much fabulous fiction. But there is also compelling evidence that a glorious divinity presides over the cosmos, that God calls and anoints prophets, and that his word and will are made manifest through a sacred canon that is never definitively closed.”
Well, I have never seen such evidence stand up to scrutiny. I wonder what he has in mind? Intelligent design? Sightings of the 3 Nephites? NHM?
Non-LDS philosophers have argued that in order for us to have spiritual freedom – freedom to make choices – God cannot allow us to know – by secular proof alone – that he exists.
See above.
Doesn't Non-pertinentconceivablebizarreLDS philosophy instructor Joseph Lynch, for instance, explains that this gap “is necessary so that human beings can freely make more moral choices and freely choose God – it can’t be too obvious that God exists, but his existence shouldn’t be altogether implausible either” (quoted in "Shaken Faith Syndrome," 40). If humans had incontrovertible secular evidence for the existence of God, they would be unable to freely choose whether or not to accept God.
Note that we are not actually given Lynch's argument but are simply asked to accept the assertion. I deny that it makes manifest sense and so if it can be defended it must be quite an argument indeed. But we are not given such an argument.
From modern revelation, we know that without faith and testing we would be following a plan not unlike the one proposed by Satan – a plan that compels us all to return to the Father.
From modern revelation?

Nonsense. My knowing that God exists does not by itself compel me to act in any certain way for several reasons. First, I may just choose to disobey and suffer. Second, knowing that God exists does not by itself tell me what his wishes might be.

Finally, even if I were to accept the list of implicit and explicit commandments as given in the LDS church, I would soon find myself in situations where there seemed to be a conflict--a situation where two commandments are at odds. The commandment to be truthful and the commandment to be kind are often at odds. I would clearly still be quite free to act in various ways even if I make it my goal to act in accordance with commandments of a God whose existence may have hypothetically been proven to me.
What we choose to embrace, to be responsive to, is the purest reflection of who we are and what we love. That is why faith, the choice to believe, is, in the final analysis, an action that is positively laden with moral significance.”
This can be asserted without the silly notion that proof gets in the way of our choosing authentically.

I find it embarrassing that Ash unthinkingly passes this tired idea along. It is high time to question it.

It is also high time to question the epistemic assumptions iimplicit in the notion of a testimony and in the promise of Moroni.

Evidence is a virtue and proof is also a virtue when it can be had. It does not limit our freedom. If God exists, as a conscious human-like creature who is in some sense our father, then I cannot see why he would not make his existence irrefutable as I certainly would if I found I had a child somewhere who doubted my existence. Doing so would not limit the freedom or authenticity of that child.

We go to unreasonable lengths to explain God's absence exactly because he is absent.
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Mike Ash: "If Humans Had Incontrovertible Secular Evidence For The Existence Of God, They Would Be Unable To Freely Choose Whether Or Not To Accept God."
Friday, Mar 25, 2011, at 03:10 PM
Original Author(s): Kevin Graham
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
Michael R. Ash, a Mormon Apologist recently wrote:
If humans had incontrovertible secular evidence for the existence of God, they would be unable to freely choose whether or not to accept God.
Does no one really understand what he's trying to do here?

This is the popular canard floating around the Church that I've heard people say ever since I was baptized - I heard it all the time on my mission, especially.

Leave it to the Mormons to come up with something like this. What this is saying is essentially, God intentionally withhold's proof for the Church. Everything must remain unfalsifiable.

So the missing papyrus is by God's design, because if we had the original papyrus from which the Book of Abraham was translated, it would "prove" Joseph Smith was a true Prophet and then everyone would join the Church. There would be no need for faith.

Likewise, the Gold Plates had to be removed from the earth because if archaeologists examined them, it would prove Joseph Smith recovered an ancient artifact from the period in which the Book of Mormon claims to have been written. There would be no need for faith.

Likewise, Prophets have to be able to make mistakes just like any other person, because if they were perfect it would prove the Church true and there'd be no room for faith. So things like Joseph Smith lying about polygamy, Young's Adam-God doctrine, Kimball's belief that Indians turn white, these are all necessary for faith to exist.

Likewise, the fact that archaeology says no horses exist, that the Book of Mormon resembles too much of the New Testament, that blacks were denied priesthood, etc... these are among the hundreds of examples that have to be in order to balance the need for faith.

This is all based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the biblical term "faith." Faith in the Bible was always based on evidence and a reasonable basis for belief. Mormons have it backwards, and as a result they've created this culture that says it is actually "cool" to believe in stupid s*** because when you do, it means you have stronger "faith" than the guy who relies on sound arguments based on evidence. This is just one of the many reasons why the LDS faith is essentially anti-intellectual.

I wish I had a nickel for every time I was told God creates so much room for doubt in order to test us. The stronger the evidence against the Church, the greater the opportunity to exercise faith and prove your spiritual mettle.

You can't argue with people who think like this.

I would respond by saying why is it people like Joseph Smith get a pass on faith? If what he says is true, then God appeared to him. That pretty much seals the deal and takes away his agency for belief. I remember when I first joined the Church I prayed all night knowing with absolute certainty God existed and that he would appear to me as he did Joseph Smith. Many people tried the same stunt, but got nothing. Instead of acting on the obvious evidence, we convinced ourselves we simply didn't exercise enough "faith." Joseph Smith did, which is why God showed himself. It is a fallacious circle that has no place in intellectual discourse.

One might also think that the "witnesses" who saw the plates and the angel would never have an excuse to leave the faith, and yet most of them did. How does this reconcile with Mike's theory above?

And yes, Mike does criticize us when he says none of us would be convinced Joseph Smith was a prophet, no matter what evidence is presented. Why? Because we've "hardened our hearts" against him. This is such gibberish. What the hell does that even mean anyway? he just says it because that is jargon the Church authorities use, and it makes no sense. He's just singing to his choir and using the usual ecclesiastical catch phrases that resonate with the TBMs. Nothing really needs to make sense.
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Michael R. Ash -- "Critics Typically Claim That Latter-Day Saints Rely On "Feelings" In Lieu Of "Evidence""
Monday, Apr 4, 2011, at 07:21 AM
Original Author(s): Ozpoof
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
Ahh, not exactly. We KNOW that LDS believers rely on feelings and ignore evidence entirely when such evidence conflicts with their feelings.They are taught to ignore anything, factual or other (such as feelings) that tell them the cult isn't true. This cult frowns on people researching for themselves. It discourages using ANYTHING but the dumbed-down and correlated lesson manuals that are full of lies.

http://www.mormontimes.com/article/20...

Mormons are not using feelings to determine truth, they are IGNORING truth and using feelings to confirm a LIE. Big difference Mr Ash.

This man then claims at the bottom of his piece that Exmormons base their beliefs on Mormonism on feelings more than facts. Perhaps he is talking about the anger we feel when we find we have been lied to for years.That emotion is not what got us out.

STOP LYING MICHAEL ASH.

His next attempt at apologetics HAS to be defamatory if he states we are out of the cult because we FEEL hurt or offended rather than because we KNOW the facts and can see the lies.
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Ash Setting Himself And Mormon Apologists As Better Than The Mormon Prophets
Monday, Apr 25, 2011, at 08:17 AM
Original Author(s): Jesus Smith
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
After last week trying to persuade us that witnesses are direct, reliable evidence and that DNA is indirect evidence, now Michael Ash is going up the ego ladder a few more steps.
"If we forego traditions and folk-assumptions about the Book of Mormon and apply the methods of modern science and scholarship to what the Book of Mormon actually says and does not say, we find that the book paints a picture which is amazingly similar in many ways to the same picture painted by New World experts about the ancient cultures during Book of Mormon times."
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/70...

Translation:

Modern latter-day scholarship (moaps) is reading the between-the-lines, implied picture and fitting it to modern science. The words of joe smith and subsequent profits are folk lore.

This morning Mr. Ash proposes that the BofM is the evidence. It must be proof, because Joseph Smith could not have known what archaeology is finding.

Ash said this: "we find that the book paints a picture which is amazingly similar in many ways to the same picture painted by New World experts about the ancient cultures during Book of Mormon times."

I'm still waiting for iron swords, coins, horse bones, chariots, ... but Ash now claims that instead of evidence to support the BofM, it is the evidence!

Here are three sources from professionals who are speaking up about "archaeological fantasies". They help to bring sanity when reading apologist writings such as today's.

Three Basic Principles of Archaeological Research http://www.hallofmaat.com/modules.php...

Irrationality and Popular Archaeology http://sites.matrix.msu.edu/wp-conten...

Crusading Against Straw Men: An Alternative Viewo of Alternative Archaeologies: Response to Holtorf http://sites.matrix.msu.edu/wp-conten...
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Apologists Ignore Direct Evidence
Tuesday, Apr 26, 2011, at 07:55 AM
Original Author(s): Hoggle
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
Last week Mr. Ash said this:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/70...
“Direct evidence … is evidence of a fact based on a witness’s personal knowledge or observation of that fact."
Now using that definition, Joseph Smith's bedroom tale about Moroni's appearance is direct evidence as long as the source is from Joseph Smith and not from second or third hand accounts.

And there is just such a source in Joseph Smith's own journal from November, 1835. It tells us what Moroni said.

http://beta.josephsmithpapers.org/pap...

"he said the indians, were the literal descendants of Abraham"

To clarify what "literal descendants of Abraham" meant to Joseph Smith, look at a revelation written on March 28, 1835, before his journal story.

DandC 107:40 "The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made."

To Joseph Smith, "literal descendant" meant from father to son. These are from sources of direct evidence. An example of indirect evidence would be a newspaper article written by Oliver Cowdery or someone else. The journal and DandC are direct evidence because they are the words of Joseph Smith.

What these words tell us is that Moroni said the Indians were literally from Abraham, father-to-son, through Isaac and Jacob on down to the tribes in New York in 1835.

Today Mr. Ash said this:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/70...
"If we forego traditions and folk-assumptions about the Book of Mormon and apply the methods of modern science and scholarship..."
The "direct evidence" from Joseph Smith's own mouth about the visit from Moroni is now "traditions and folk-assumptions."

If we apply the methods of modern science using DNA, it does not support what Moroni told Joseph Smith. It looks like the apologists are now claiming that Moroni's words are just folk-assumptions.

How do apologists get away with denying "direct evidence"? It seems that to admit it as evidence does prove that Joseph Smith lied about Moroni.
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Michael R. Ash's Response To A Resigning Bishop
Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011, at 07:11 AM
Original Author(s): Michael R. Ash
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
This past weekend a Mormon Bishop in the UK posted his resignation letter online onto his blog. Mormon Apologist Michael R. Ash registered on the site attacking the Bishop. The following is the transcript of Ash's response:
I’m not one to publish frequently on blogs or message boards. Quite frankly, life is too short, I have too many irons in the fire, and I have precious little time to work on projects that I feel are more worthwhile than arguing with others.

Having said this, however, I feel the need to comment on a few things discussed herein.

Steve, I honestly hope that you find happiness in your own personal spiritual quest. In the end, each of us has to decide for ourselves what brings us true happiness.

I can imagine (with a touch of anecdotal recollection of my own) the emotional turmoil you must have gone through. The phrase “cognitive dissonance” [CD] is thrown about loosely in discussions about LDS issues, but true CD is very hard on the emotions and mind, and can make you physically ill. You cannot endure CD for long and your mind/body seeks a quick resolution. Some people find resolution by brushing difficult issues aside, others by embracing the new difficulties and changing their paradigm. Either way, the psychological tension is relieved. This doesn’t automatically make one direction right and the other wrong, however.

Common among those who leave the church are feelings of anger and betrayal, and those feelings can be so powerful that they can cloud any or all thoughts of accepting the claims made by the Church. This comes from feelings of mistrust and are hard to overcome– and certainly influence a bias against arguments that support the Church.

Feelings of mistrust, as you note in your post, come most often from feeling that things have been “hidden.” The simple truth, however, is that things are not nearly as “hidden” as some– who stumble upon such information [often painted in the worst possible light by critics]– would think. There isn’t enough space in this blog to do this topic justice but I can refer you to information that demonstrates a) that most of the difficult issues have been discussed in Church-related publications for years, b) most people in general are blissfully unaware of significant historical/political etc., events. In other words, it’s sad but true, that most people are simply ignorant of things they should know more about.

When a believing member “discovers” such things, the Church is immediately held up as the culprit for “hiding” the information in a “cover-up” to control the minds of members. This is simply not true.

Your post speaks of “solid, reliable, testable scientific data,” that supports your current religious views of Mormonism. At the risk of sounding rude, I seriously doubt that you could produce such data. Before you begin writing a list please keep in mind, that a large number of educated Latter-day Saints are fully aware of every single LDS-critical argument. I, myself, have studied them for many decades. There is absolutely no intellectual data that automatically compels an intelligent person to reject the Book of Mormon. Of course there is no intellectual data that automatically compels an intelligent person to accept the Book of Mormon either. In short, all the “scientific data” that is used to discredit the Church has an equally “solid, reliable,” and “testable” refutation (and, generally, vice-versa for pro-LDS claims).

The journey is yours, and yours alone. No one can ride on the shirt tail of anyone else when it comes to matters of faith, so I have no dog in the race as to the outcome of your own decision on religious issues. I merely wish to emphasize that you are not the only one to “discover” difficult issues. Lots of intelligent people have examined them. A number of these intelligent people are not only still believing members but recognize that there are rational and logical explanations that account for every criticism out there.

From what I have seen through years of reading exit stories is that the main factor which causes a person to leave is indeed “hurt feelings” and feeling “offended”– not offended by someone in the Church, but offended at the thought that they’ve been conned. And the primary reason that such people feel they were conned is because they never really engaged “study and faith” in their gospel lives.

Like most people who fail to put their minds to full use as God intends, they often take a black-and-white approach to religious issues. It’s either true or false. There either were horses in the New World, or the Book of Mormon is fictional. The Book of Abraham was either written by Abraham himself, or Joseph Smith created the text. Such a fundamentalist attitude is anathema to a healthy paradigm of how God works through fallible humans.

Good luck, and if you are ever open again to searching for answers, let me know.
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Michael Ash, Seeking A Sign Or Just Confused?
Thursday, Apr 28, 2011, at 10:56 AM
Original Author(s): Everybody Wang Chung
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
I just finished Ash's most recent article in the D-News. The entire article can be boiled down into the following thesis sentence:

Ash observes that although the scientific community may have uncovered some evidence that tends to support the veracity of the Book of Mormon, that community instead chooses - because of its own views - to ascribe that evidence to non-Book of Mormon phenomena.

Why did the D-News let Ash publish an entire article about this?

Apologists, FAIR and FARMS need to realize that the best evidence of the Book of Mormon is not scientific data or archaeological remnants. Indeed, the frenetic search for such evidence - as repeatedly demonstrated by Ash - is counterproductive as there will be always be much more empirically rational, logical, and scientific explanation than that offered by the Book of Mormon narrative.

The best evidence of the Book of Mormon is its narrative which can, and occassionaly does, have an affect on an individual's heart and spirit. Such personal changes do not require supporting evidence, and never have so required.

Seeking after scientific proof to support one's belief in the Book of Mormon is a mystifying endeavor. Why does Ash expend such energy on this? Is it to aid in missionary work? Is it to authoritatively respond to critics of the historicity of the Book of Mormon? Is it to shore up Ash's own faltering faith in the record? The Savior soundly criticized those who seek after signs. It seems to me that Ash is - in effect - seeking signs for whatever purpose.

Perhaps if Ash were cease his sign-seeking and accept the Book of Mormon narrative for what it is, he would come to comfortable terms with his religion.

We Utah Mormons, of which Ash is now one, tend to have an unhealthy preoccupation with how the outside world views us. Utahans in general have an inferiority complex about our home state, and we are reactively, fiercely defensive of any criticism of Utah as a place, a society, or a culture. That preoccupation derives from our instinctive defense of our religion, which most of us were raised in without having experienced the intellectual, spiritual, or emotional epiphanies that usually accompany adult conversion. As children and adolescents in Mormondom, we grow up "knowing", without ever learning, that it is only we who have the truth, that it is only we who are the standard bearers of Israel, that it is only we - not the misguided, apostate, and heathen "they" - who have the fullness of the gospel and the priesthood.

Many adults around the world choose to accept the Gospel, on account of their own study, with fairly good knowledge of the Book of Mormon's historicity controversies, translation hilarities, plural marriage, Masonic similarities of the temple, and disparate treatment of races among myriad other issues. But, most of us who were raised in Mormon culture didn't have the opportunity to join the church after having learned of, struggled with, and coming to terms with these unanswerable quandaries. This doesn't mean that we don't eventually have to address them and somehow transcend them in our own ways. I have had my own struggles with the breadth of it all, and have chosen for myself to let go what I cannot control or explain (which is much). The historicity of the Book of Mormon is one of those issues I have chosen to let go. And much the happier have I been!

I suspect Ash is in the midst of his own personal struggle with the historicity of the Book of Mormon, and is trying to address it with a wild goose chase for hard scientific evidence of the book. My advice to Ash is to just let it go.
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Non-Mormon Professor Angry At Misuse Of His Words By Mormon Apologists
Friday, Apr 29, 2011, at 07:53 AM
Original Author(s): Simon Southerton
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
Michael Ash (among others at Maxwell House) has used the words of non-Mormon scientists to support his apologetic arguments that Israelites did migrate to the Americas but their DNA went extinct. Evidently Israelite DNA was much more prone to being lost through bottlenecks and genetic drift than Native American DNA was. (Why did the bottleneck pick on Israelite DNA Michael? Just unlucky DNA?)

Some (mis)quotes from Michael Ash's Mormon Times article:
“In fact, non-LDS molecular anthropologist Michael H. Crawford wrote that the Spanish Conquest "squeezed the entire Amerindian population through a genetic bottleneck. ... This population reduction has forever altered the genetics of the surviving groups, thus complicating any attempts at reconstructing the pre-Columbian genetic structure of most New World groups," - (The Origins of Native Americans, 1998).”
Also:
“Drs. Beth Shook and David Smith, two non-LDS scientists, claim genetic drift among Native Americans has "altered haplogroup frequencies and caused the loss of many haplotypes" - (American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2008).”
This is how Professor Crawford feels about having his words twisted by apologists.
This sentence has been misused! I had intended to state that there may be some genes that have been lost due to depopulation. However, there is no question that the genetic evidence does not in any way support the presence of lost tribes from Israel. The Mormon apologists are misusing and misinterpreting one sentence in a volume that disputes any suggestion of lost tribes of Israel." - Dr. MH Crawford Professor of Anthropology and Genetics at the University of Kansas
Who wouldn't be ticked off if you had spent years doing REAL scholarship to create an excellent book only to have it completely misrepresented by someone with no formal qualifications in the field.

David Glenn Smith has already gone on record as saying that Native Americans have no genetic links to Israelites. He would be furious to see his words being used to distort the truth by Mormon apologists.
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And Still Ash Has No Evidence Supporting Mesoamerica
Monday, May 9, 2011, at 07:40 AM
Original Author(s): Stumbling
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
Mike Ash, 'naïve Assumptions About New World Christians' May 2011:
'I explained that even if evidence for an early Christian community in Mesoamerica could be found, that still wouldn’t satisfy most critics or prove that the Book of Mormon is true. The task of finding the evidence of a real ancient community of New World Christians becomes difficult once we understand the complexity and nature of what might be found.'

'First, it’s important to remember that the Nephites were “Christian” for, at the most, 400 years. Second, the Nephite-Christians were a small group of persecuted believers among a sea of non-Christian believers in the ancient Americas.'
Mike has another go at explaining away why no evidence of Book of Mormon peoples has been found. Ever.

This time it's because we are looking for evidence of a relatively small Christian community in a much larger group of people, except... ...what is actually being looked for is evidence of the 'small group of persecuted believers' AND the 'sea of non-Christian believers in the ancient Americas'. Who, after all were supposed to be, collectively, the only people on the land that the Lord had saved from other nations for them.

Mike is being deliberately disingenuous.

Let's be clear.

The Book of Mormon is a story of generations of millions of people who were the 'literal' ancestors of the Native American's and who were the first people to inhabit the land.

Now, because there is absolutely no evidence these people existed throughout America some apologists (Ash included) have tried to persuade people that the 'land' meant a relatively small part of Mesoamerica.

No problem. Let's accept that on face value.

A civilization of millions of people in a relatively small area of Mesoamerica should be apparent to any one who cares to make a serious search.
  • We know who they were
  • We know where they were
  • We know how many of them there were
  • We know what 'stuff' they had
  • And - We know exactly when they were there
Why is it SO difficult...
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Mormon Interpreter Reviews "Shaken Faith Syndrome"
Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012, at 08:38 AM
Original Author(s): Gadianton
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
Abstract:
Mike Ash's book "Shaken Faith Syndrome" is reviewed by Stephen O. Smoot of the Mormon Interpreter. Ash can do no wrong while critics can do no right. Smoot uses aggressive rhetoric when speaking about critics, or "anti-Mormons" but paints a picture that strongly implies such insults are unwarrented and gratuitous, leaving us to wonder what the peer reviewer's expectations are for the scholarship the MI produces.
http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/shak...

Shaken Faith Syndrome made it through the entire review process, including peer review of Smoot's review, with only thirty-three words of criticism. That's almost as many words of encouragement as Reverend Jackson got for his book on Mormonism. Ash's book is "Outstanding," "excellent," and "succinct," and and we learn all this without even leaving the abstract. Ash may have been worried that an institution saddled with academic letters like the MI would have difficulties with his lack of degrees and failure to publish with Oxford Press. Recall the Interpreter's assessment of Jackson, notwithstanding multiple degrees, he was considered unqualified to write on Mormonism and his book represented a "marketing strategy." Many books by critics and even a few non-scholarly self-publishing faithful had been eyed with suspicion by the Review and considered little more than profit opportunities. Fortunately for Ash, not only is he fully covered under the Nibley "Day of the Amateur" clause, his motives are deemed pure.Smoot says, "Michael R. Ash has taken to heart the directive given in DandC 88:118."

The lines of division are drawn. Smoot uses "anti-Mormon" and "critics" interchangeably, and the word "anti-Mormon" is used no less than 13 times. Anti-Mormonism on the web has become the "wild west" where there are "[no] publication standards or peer review, and with the ability to hide in anonymity.." The critics "get away with saying pretty much anything they please without repercussion, no matter how false, scurrilous, detestable, or putrid the claim may be." I suppose in this scenario then, Ash is the man who puts a star on his vest and calls himself the Sheriff. Smoot belabors the corruption of critics:
On one particularly unpleasant message board dedicated to allowing apostates and critics to rant against the Church unfettered, breathtaking examples of (often highly vulgar) personal character assaults against LDS Church leaders and members can frequently be seen with nauseating consistency.
The situation sounds pretty bad, though, I guess the readers must take his word for it since the name of this message board is not revealed and not a single "putrid" claim is referenced or dealt with, as we shall see.

After painting a bleak picture where Anti-Mormons scorch the land as they lie, falsely accuse, and use profanity, Ash doesn't up and mount his horse and give chase in the Smoot narrative, but first turns to lecture his own kin. Check this out, as Smoot gets into the meat of his review:
He [Ash] notes that shaken faith may result from unrealistic expectations of prophets or science (or both), and he goes on to describe the danger of "fundamentalist, dogmatic, or closed-minded ideologies about certain facets of the gospel or early LDS historical [Page 112]events
Where are the men with black hats telling bald-faced lies? If Saints are shaken by "unrealistic expectains," doesn't this imply the criticisms of their faith are valid? He continues:
The two chapters of Shaken Faith Syndrome that many Latter-day Saints may find the most difficult to grasp are chapter 3 ("Unrealistic Expectations of Prophets," 19-30) and chapter 4 ("Confusing Tradition with Doctrine," 31-34). In these two chapters Ash admonishes his LDS readers not to set prophets on a pedestal of perfection and inerrancy nor to confuse folk traditions (even popular traditions) with established doctrine.
How is it a moral fault of critics for showing legitimate problems with "folk traditions" and mistakes made by prophets?

On and on he goes:
The prophets do not claim infallibility, but some members unwittingly act as if that is the case and are then disturbed if the prophets do not measure up to that unrealistic standard.
Members hold the prophets up to a certain standard, critics show that the prophets fail to meet this standard, all agree with the failure, but the critics are engaged in deceit?
But even though a hemispheric model of the geography of the Book of Mormon has been taught in the past, it has never been official doctrine.
The critics have shown the hemispheric model problematic and the apologists agree. Where then are the lies, deceit, and unbridled profanity?

Moving on, we get into the charge of history suppression, and on this matter Smoot concludes:
Although it could be argued that the Church could do more to foster a better cultural environment [Page 115]where Church members feel more safe asking about controversial issues, this is a far cry from the constant refrain of critics that the Church is deliberately suppressing its history
Critics accuse the Church of covering up controversy, Ash argues this isn't the case, and Smoot concludes that the critics have a real point, but it's not as bad as it seems. Sounds to me like per Smoot, the critics bring up fair points, but in the end, the apologists have provided sound answers on this matter.

Moving on to specific issues continues to undermine Smoot's contentions regarding the debased morals and arguments of critics:

Conclusions regarding the Book of Abraham:
However, there is much that has been said in favor of the Book of Abraham's authenticity, and the controversy is by no means settled.22 [Page 117]Latter-day Saint scholars have devoted much effort to defending the Book of Abraham"
And:
Considering how complex the issues surrounding the Book of Abraham and the Joseph Smith Papyri are...
It's a tough issue, a complex one, where, much work has been done by Mormon Scholars, but the matter isn't settled. Doesn't sound to me like the critics Ash confronts are guilty of "half-baked and regurgitated criticisms", lies, and putrid slander. The critics must be bringing tough and honest questions to the table.

The Kinderhook issue is a "perplexing episode"; For plural marriage, "many people, both within and outside the Church, are understandably troubled by the history of Mormon polygamy"; On the first vision, "Many of the criticisms leveled against Joseph Smith's vision apply equally well to Paul's vision". Smoot's own demonstrations show the critics have been giving the Church a run for its money with honest criticism that not even Ash has final answers for. For polygamy, Ash, per Smoot is left to "speculate" (Smoot's word). For the First vision, the final assessment is a reductio ad absurdum and secular critics would be happy to extend their logic to the Bible.

Moving on to the conclusion, again, the critics are painted as villains:
The reality is that most criticisms leveled against Joseph Smith and his revelations rest on dubious allegations, rank fallacies, specious reasoning, or unwarranted assumptions.
And yet, the entire body of his essay seems to argue that critics are an honest force to be reckoned with and have not been fully answered by even the best apologist on the most important issues. Per Smoot, the matters are complex and difficult, and so much in Mormonism have the critics cast legitimate doubt upon, that the members are counseled to not expect so much from their prophets, and abandon their faith on a whole list of issues that are better left for Phds to explain.

I guess you could say that I'm blown away by this fiction the apologists maintain where "anti-Mormons" are these terrible, bad people who can't get anything right and work for suspect motives while apologists are men of faith, God, and impeccable reasoning in every way. The books written by critics are near garbage and those written by apologists can't go wrong. In this case, Smoot doesn't even offer examples to support his strong allegations against "anti-Mormons", yet, all this rhetoric just seems naturally a part of an apologist's essay.

I think the peer review process really messed up here. Either Smoot's essay should adjust its focus and take on the purported lies and nastiness of critics, or drop all the invective against critics, and accurately summarize the case that Smoot actually makes: Critics pose some tough and honest questions, members need to adjust their expectations, and many apologists have offered some good insights into the problematic facts surrounding Mormonism, even if they fall short of fully adequate responses.
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Shaken Faith Syndrome
Monday, Dec 17, 2012, at 09:11 AM
Original Author(s): Other Than
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
Ash has not done ANY research or provided any valid explanations in his writing. He has no degree. Used to be or still is a jewelry salesman and has no basis or education to be writing a book. He fails at providing any explanations for the history of the church and only provides excuses and the usual "I challenge you to find jesus through the spirit" type of stuff.

In the book he addresses the idea of cognitive dissonance which is a term used in modern psychology to describe the feeling of discomfort when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel "disequilibrium": frustration, hunger, dread, guilt, anger, embarrassment, anxiety, etc.

Mike Ash has the idea that people should just live with the discomfort that leads to these results of mentally unhealthy feelings and possible long term damage. So take your pick. Listen to a doctor or listen to Mike Ash.

He also is famous for the "chicken in backpacks" theory of validating the unfounded claims of horses in the book of mormon:
It's also possible that Nephite "horses"-at least when associated with chariots-were among the provisions that King Lamoni needed during his travels (we know that horses were part of the provisions which the Nephites reserved for themselves when fighting the Gadianton Robbers [3 Nephi 4:4]). Perhaps "preparing" the horses and chariots would be like "preparing the chicken and backpack." To modern ears this doesn't suggest that the chicken will carry the backpack but rather than a chicken meal will be prepared to go in the backpack. If Book of Mormon horses were eaten, they may have been one of the provisions loaded on a "chariot" and carried or dragged by men.
See http://mormonquote.com/Loanshifting

Ash's book subtly blames the the victim for not knowing the information that "shakes" their faith.

Ash pretends to give a crap using a lot of pop-psychobabble to give credence to his non-professional, apologetic hack job. The tactic is familiar to anyone that is used to a manipulator using "caring" language to debase, deflect and dehumanize.

The fake concern is a means to attack the victim by blaming them for their reaction rather than blaming the cause. The implication is always that "anger" is the problem as opposed to what is causing the anger and whether it is justified.

To Ash, no amount of lies and manipulation justifies the victim, and truly he heaps on more lies and psychobabble into the mix hoping the reader doesn't know better. But the thin veneer is easily peirced by even the most basic problem of Mormonism, so Ash's defense seems more for the believer with family that has left rather than for those leaving. It's meant to reassure the believer that no one leaving for real reasons, only hurt feelings and misunderstandings.
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Michael Ash Destroys The Meridian Magazine
Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013, at 07:38 AM
Original Author(s): Everybody Wang Chung
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
http://www.ldsmag.com/article/1/12381

The above link goes to an article at Meridian Magazine, an LDS-centered online rag that I used to actually enjoy. I liked their articles about Church history, doctrinal insights, etc. Now, however, I've noticed that Michael R. Ash has just started to write a weekly column rehashing the same Book of Mormon historicity arguments and shaken-faith cures he used to publish with the D-News (until the D-News realized his contributions were damaging their efforts to be a respected national newspaper). I've also seen one or two pieces recently from DCP there (which has never happened before). I'm afraid Midgley and Hambone and Gee might begin to show up, and maybe even Will Schryver will come out of exile. Now proud Mopologists who publish articles there will be unchecked and unchallenged and capable of serious damage. I'm sad to see Meridian go down this path.

Well, after I read this article on Meridian today, I decided to delete my internet bookmark to their website. It's an article where the author, Dr. Hauck, is attacking the "Heartland Model" for Book of Mormon geography, the latest in the never-ending stream of theories of where the events of the Book of Mormon actually happened. The Heartland Model, as you know, takes the Limited Geography Model and throws it out the window, and moves the entire set of events in the Book of Mormon from Central or South American strongholds to the interior of the present-day United States. In response to Dr. Hauck's critique, proponents of the Heartland Model have posted some pretty unfriendly comments below the article, including Keith Merrill. (Merrill directed "The Testaments", which used to be screened at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Interestingly, "The Testaments" put the setting of the Book of Mormon squarely in the rainforests of Central America. Now, however, Merrill has disowned his prior positions on Book of Mormon geography and is a true-believing Heartland Model disciple. He says if the Church gave him the chance to remake "The Testaments", he'd do the whole thing in a northeastern U.S. setting.)

Are you as bothered as I am that members of the Church would divide up into camps like this over their respective Book of Mormon geography models? Isn't the purpose of the Book of Mormon supposed to be to convince readers of the divinity of Jesus and his role as Savior, to be a supplement and confirming witness of the Bible? Last time I checked, the Book of Mormon wasn't intended to be a map or a model from which to imagine ancient American cultures. I wish our members would abandon the false religions of geography models and instead focus on the Christology of the Book of Mormon, the lessons of repentance we see in Amulek, Zeezrom, et. al., and the description of what a truly Zion society should look like (from 4 Nephi).

It's okay to have opinions about where the Book of Mormon happened. But it's gotten to be almost a religion in and of itself with some of us. I guess that's one of the problems with Mopologetics; it's a religion of itself and one that hasn't made a single convert to its contentiousness. I think Middle Way Mormons by and large stay with the Church, hoping and believing that answers to questions will come - maybe not in our hoped-for timeframes, but that they eventually will come. Mopologists, however, seem to have a higher than average defection rate. Kevin Graham, Kerry Shirts, Grant Palmer, and several others I could probably list of the top of my head become disaffected because Mopologetics brings not light, but darkness. Seriously, if we believe as we do that the Holy Ghost cannot abide the spirit of contention, and if ad hominem articles are by their nature full of contention and anger, what role can the Holy Ghost realistically play in them? He can't take part in them because they're contentious.

Well, anyway, I'm no longer a regular Meridian reader after today.
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Mormons With "Deep Understanding" Don't Apostatize
Monday, Aug 5, 2013, at 08:03 AM
Original Author(s): Consiglieri
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
Notes from FAIR's official webpage on the 2013 conference presentations include this for Mike Ash:

Michael R. Ash, "Shaken Faith Syndrome, Part Deux."
Ash is the author of Shaken Faith Syndrome, a book which addresses the relationship of doubt and faith, and offers apologetic responses to criticisms of Mormon belief, history, etc. He's published articles in Dialogue, Sunstone, the Ensign, Mormon Times, and the FARMS Review. Ash is generally candid, acknowledging the real pain felt by people who come to doubt or disbelieve their religious convictions. He observes, citing D. Michael Quinn, that church leaders typically have the same knowledge of Church history that average Seminary graduates have, which isn't very in-depth. He cited Hans Mattsson, the emeritus Area Authority recently interviewed in the New York Times, as an example of a higher ranking leader who did not have a deep understanding of Church history. He cites recent efforts by the Church to provide more specific understanding of Mormon history, including the Joseph Smith Papers Project, new curriculum developments, and online sources. He emphasized that doubting is not a sin, but a normalpart of human faith development. If Ash overemphasizes the readiness of apologists to answer all criticisms of the Church, his emphasis on learning how to negotiate doubts through study, patience and prayer-a process or faith journey as opposed to ingesting a collected body of provable answers-seems a good way forward.
I find the underlined portion troubling.

First, Ash says that Church leaders don't know much about (church) history, equating their level of expertise with a typical seminary graduate. I am not seeing this as a compliment. Although he uses this to segue into why it is that Hans Mattsson left the Church, I pause to reflect that his brush paints broad strokes of ignorance extending to the apostles, as well.

Now he comes to the point, which is why it is that Hans Mattson could have left the Church. Ash suggests it is because he "didn't have a deep understanding of Church history."

This strikes me as a variation of the True Scotsman fallacy. Even Church leaders may apostatize, but they do not do so if they have a "deep" (read: "true") understanding of Church history. I thought it was precisely because Mattson had a "deep" understanding of Church history that he felt morally and spiritually compromised.

Perhaps Ash is suggesting that there are depths beyond depths, and that the true depths of Church history will not cause a person to apostatize.

If this is so, one wonders why these depths were not plumbed by Elders Marlin and Turley when they visited Sweden in 2010.
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Shaken Faith Syndrome, Part Deux
Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013, at 07:29 AM
Original Author(s): Stormy Waters
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
In the 2013 FAIR conference Michael Ash gave an address concerning the release of the second edition of Shaken Faith Syndrome.

http://www.fairlds.org/fair-...

I would like to take this opportunity to respond both to his continuing use of the 'doubters have made naïve assumptions' narrative and miscellaneous items in his address.

Hans Mattsson

Quote:
Hans Mattsson is a text book example. As an area 70 in Sweden he received questions from local members about challenging issues. Initially he brushed the issues aside as anti-Mormon propaganda. He claims he couldn’t find official answers in the Church so eventually, after he was released, he began searching the web for more information to provide answers. In his search he discovered that the information was true.
First a nitpick with the word choice, he "claims" he couldn't find official answers in the church? Tell me, if the church has official answers, why does FAIR exist? Wouldn't that make FAIR totally superfluous? He goes on to say,

Quote:
"Some members who are unfamiliar with FAIR, LDS apologetics, or LDS scholarly studies may become confused and concerned by contra-LDS information and may not know where to turn for help."
Okay, so there aren't official answers, you need FAIR and LDS apologetics for answers.

Quote:
Hans Mattson says he was shocked to discover that Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage. It is certainly true that this topic is not frequently discussed in Church publications or Sunday classes because it does not generally relate to modern directives or gospel principles. But is it fair to say that Joseph’s involvement with plural marriage is covered up or hidden by the Church?

A search of Church magazines (via the LDS.org website) demonstrates that the topic has been mentioned in numerous articles in the Ensign. 12 When we look at the manual used in Institute classes and Church history classes at BYU, we read that plural marriage was revealed to Joseph Smith as early as 1831, and was later taught to other priesthood leaders who were expected to live the principle. 13

Finally, when we turn to the official course guides for those who teach the adult Sunday School classes, we find the same thing. Both the 1979 and 1996 course guides discuss the history of LDS polygamy beginning with its inception as a doctrine revealed to Joseph Smith and end with its public announcement in 1852. 14 In the most current (2006) Sunday School course guide (printed in 1999), we read that Joseph and other early Church leaders practiced plural marriage. 15 Does this sound like the Church is hiding its history?
Here Ash seizes on the fact that Hans apparently didn't know that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. Then he ignores other details that troubled Hans. From the New York Times article:

Quote:
Is it true that Smith took dozens of wives, some as young as 14 and some already wed to other Mormon leaders, to the great pain of his first wife, Emma?
I would argue strongly that it is not simply that Joseph was a polygamist that bothers people, but rather that the "devil" is in the details. The ages, what Emma wasn't told, and the marital status of some of these women. Are those details covered in church manuals? How many times is polyandry mentioned in official church manuals? With that I would like to address the second theme woven into his address.

Does the church withhold information?

Quote:
Is there any truth to the charge that the Church has withheld challenging details of the past? The answer is both yes and no.
...
Apostle George Q. Cannon, whose faith-promoting stories were intended for the youth of the Church, wrote some of the more popular historical accounts of early Mormonism. Such works, like many other non-LDS works of the nineteenth century, were defensive in tone, biased, one-dimensional, and devoted to evangelizing a particular perspective. Today such writings are often referred to as hagiographies. It was not until the middle of the twentieth century that the modern biography–critical, multi-dimensional, and objective (at least in principle)– “began to take its present form.” 11 The early faith-promoting histories, however, became the source of historical knowledge for many Church members and launched similar popular works for decades to come. While it can be said that early LDS histories intentionally withheld challenging and non-flattering information, in the context of the times this was not unique to Mormonism and is to be expected.
So the answer is yes, and the argument is that the church and it's leaders, despite being ostensibly lead by God, couldn't know any better because no one else did.

Quote:
As for the unintentional censoring of information, we turn to the Church curriculum. Some ex-members complain that they never heard certain aspects of Church history from the Sunday School classes they attended. The purpose of Church curriculum, however, including Sunday School, Priesthood, and Relief Society, is to support the mission of the Church: to bring people to Christ. Very little actual history is discussed in Church classes. Even every fourth year when the Doctrine and Covenants is taught (which includes some Church history) the primary goal of the class is to help members draw closer to God, seek the Spirit, and understand gospel principles.
Quote:
The charge that the Church has hidden the truth has not landed on deaf ears. The church “has made no effort to hide or obscure its history,” Marlin Jensen said, but some aspects – such as polygamy – “haven’t been emphasized often because they were not necessarily germane to what is taught at present.”
Here I think Ash tries to have it both ways. The church doesn't teach history and it has made no effort to hide it's history.

So does the church hide its history, and is it intentional?

In a guest post for the Juvenile instructor Greg Prince wrote:

Quote:
In the early 1950s teachers in the Church Educational System met in Provo to write curricula for the Seminaries. The committee assigned to address church history quickly became divided into two factions. The “alpha” members of the two factions, both of whom became General Authorities a decade later, argued for opposing philosophies of how to portray our history. One later observed:

“We were writing a Church history unit, and he didn’t want anybody to know that coffee was part of the overland trek. I said, ‘What if the kid finds out five years after Seminary? What are you going to do? You’ve got a bigger problem then than if you just tell him the first time. And you can tell them why, that the Word of Wisdom didn’t really get sanctioned until 1918. So quit worrying about it.’ ‘I know, but we’ve got to protect their faith.’”

There is no question which faction won–at least for the time being. As long as the Church generally controlled the data–and it did for well over a century–well-meaning leaders and teachers could shield church members from what Al Gore famously called “inconvenient truths.” The Internet changed the game. No longer is the Church able to shield members from problematic aspects of our history and doctrine. And as the seminary teacher said over a half-century ago, “You’ve got a bigger problem then than if you just tell him the first time.”
In an article for the Deseret News Daniel Peterson wrote:

Quote:
Kimball explained what he called the "three levels" of Mormon history, which he termed Levels A, B, and C. (Given my own background in philosophy, I might have chosen Hegel's terminology instead: "thesis," "antithesis" and "synthesis.")

Level A, he said, is the Sunday School version of the church and its history. Virtually everything connected with the church on Level A is obviously good and true and harmonious. Members occasionally make mistakes, perhaps, but leaders seldom, if ever, do. It's difficult for somebody on Level A to imagine why everybody out there doesn't immediately recognize the obvious truth of the gospel, and opposition to the church seems flatly satanic.

Level B – what I call the "antithesis" to Level A's "thesis" – is perhaps most clearly seen in anti-Mormon versions of church history. According to many hostile commentators, everything that Level A says is good and true and harmonious turns out actually to be evil and false and chaotic. Leaders are deceitful and evil, the church's account of its own story is a lie, and, some extreme anti-Mormons say, even the general membership often (typically?) misbehaves very badly.

But one doesn't need to read anti-Mormon propaganda in order to be exposed to elements of Level B that can't quite be squared with an idealized portrait of the Restoration. Whether new converts or born in the covenant, maturing members of the church will inevitably discover, sooner or later, that other Saints, including leaders, are fallible and sometimes even disappointing mortals. There are areas of ambiguity, even unresolved problems, in church history; there have been disagreements about certain doctrines; some questions don't have immediately satisfying answers.
...
Kimball remarked that the church isn't eager to expose its members to such problems. Why? Because souls can be and are lost on Level B.
Here we see from Daniel Peterson, that the church has consciously decided to omit parts of church history, because the full disclosure of church history will result in "losing souls."

From the infamous The Mantle Is Far, Far Greater Than The Intellect

Quote:
There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful.
Note that Packer said, "teacher of Church history" so I'm confused does the church teach history or does it not?
As was noted by the poster Nevo letters were sent in the wake of this talk warning of the potential consequences. So what do we see now with Mattsson and others? The predictable/predicted outcome of this unwise policy. So when members feel betrayed, like they haven't been told the whole story, it's because they haven't actually been told the whole story. Not by accident, but by design. The church did it despite the warnings of the potential outcomes. You didn't actually even need any prophetic insight to see the potential for disaster, and the internet is now realizing that potential.

I will address the assumptions aspect of his address in a future post.
topic image
Latter-Day Saints Wouldn't Experience "Shaken Faith Syndrome" If Mormonism Was True
Thursday, Aug 29, 2013, at 07:42 AM
Original Author(s): Cdnxmo
Topic: MICHAEL R. ASH   -Link To MC Article-
In addition to naivete, chronic irrational thinking, depression, anxiety, fear, guilt, co-dependence, perfectionism, and dozens of other dysfunctions (http://members.shaw.ca/blair_watson/s...) resulting from LDS 'brainwashing', Mormons have reportedly been struggling with 'Shaken Faith Syndrome' (SFS). It's described online (http://www.shakenfaithsyndrome.com/) as follows:
"In today's Internet world, an increasing number of Latter-day Saints are encountering anti-Mormon material. Since most members don't have all the answers at their fingertips, LDS-critical claims can be unsettling or create doubt. Some arguments have caused a few members - even active members with strong testimonies - to lose their faith."
Just a "few members"? Try "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is losing a record number of its membership. A new report quotes an LDS general authority who said more members are falling away today than any time in the past 175 years." (Ref. http://www.abc4.com/content/news/top_...)

Clearly, LDS Church members would not struggle with SFS if Mormonism was true instead of being a lies-based religion concocted by a convicted scammer - Joseph Smith - and promulgated by a propaganda-addicted, multi-billion-dollar, religious-corporate conglomerate headquartered in SLC, Utah.

More than half a century ago, LDS apostle Joseph Fielding Smith said: "Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false." (See footnote #12 at http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/i...)

Very inconveniently for 'faithful' Latter-day Saints, JS' claims HAVE been "refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false." Notably, he recounted and wrote incongruous First Vision tales (http://mit.irr.org/joseph-smiths-chan...) and his Book of Mormon is - demonstrably - a work of fiction. He was indeed "one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen."

Here's another way of looking at the SFS issue: Why don't people of sound mind suffer from 'Shaken Rationality Syndrome'? Because they don't need to mentally wrestle with facts and related, correct conclusions.

Lamentably, believing Latter-day Saints are psychologically compelled to mentally flee from or trivialize facts that rock the boat of their 'faith' (there are so many 'inconvenient' truths about JS and Mo-ism to 'blissfully' ignore!).

'Shaken Faith Syndrome' is the psychological product of Mormons believing in LDS ideas that were always erroneous.
 
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More Comments On Michael Ash's Flawed Logic
Michael Ash's Latest-Claims Book Of Mormon Reformed Egyptian Supported
Incompetent, Unethical Or Just Plain Negligent?
Michael Ash - Book Of Mormon People Carried And Ate Horses
And Now That I've Had My Fun - Ash And His Limited Geography
Limited Geography Theory By Michael Ash
Michael Ash Now Substituting Fantasy And Distortion For Scholarship
Attention: We Are All Wrong On The DNA Issue
Michael Ash Attacking Great Lakes Theory In Mormon Times?
Mike Ash Sets Fire To Book Of Mormon Geography
Pinata Boy: A Journey Across The "Narrow Mind"
Michael Ash's Article Entitled "Proof Is In The Eye Of The Beholder"
Mike Ash: "If Humans Had Incontrovertible Secular Evidence For The Existence Of God, They Would Be Unable To Freely Choose Whether Or Not To Accept God."
Michael R. Ash -- "Critics Typically Claim That Latter-Day Saints Rely On "Feelings" In Lieu Of "Evidence""
Ash Setting Himself And Mormon Apologists As Better Than The Mormon Prophets
Apologists Ignore Direct Evidence
Michael R. Ash's Response To A Resigning Bishop
Michael Ash, Seeking A Sign Or Just Confused?
Non-Mormon Professor Angry At Misuse Of His Words By Mormon Apologists
And Still Ash Has No Evidence Supporting Mesoamerica
Mormon Interpreter Reviews "Shaken Faith Syndrome"
Shaken Faith Syndrome
Michael Ash Destroys The Meridian Magazine
Mormons With "Deep Understanding" Don't Apostatize
Shaken Faith Syndrome, Part Deux
Latter-Day Saints Wouldn't Experience "Shaken Faith Syndrome" If Mormonism Was True
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  · SUNSTONE FOUNDATION (2)
  · SURVEILLANCE (SCMC) (12)
  · TAD R. CALLISTER (3)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 1 (25)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 2 (25)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 3 (25)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 4 (25)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 5 (25)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 6 (25)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 7 (9)
  · TALKS - SECTION 1 (1)
  · TEMPLE WEDDINGS (6)
  · TEMPLES - NAMES (1)
  · TERRYL GIVENS (1)
  · THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE (1)
  · THE SINGLE WARDS (5)
  · THE WORLD TABLE (3)
  · THOMAS PHILLIPS (18)
  · THOMAS S. MONSON (33)
  · TIME (4)
  · TITHING (63)
  · UGO PEREGO (5)
  · UK COURTS (7)
  · UNNANOUNCED, UNINVITED AND UNWELCOME (36)
  · UTAH LIGHTHOUSE MINISTRY (3)
  · VALERIE HUDSON (3)
  · VAN HALE (16)
  · VAUGHN J. FEATHERSTONE (1)
  · VIDEOS (30)
  · WARD CLEANING (4)
  · WARREN SNOW (1)
  · WELFARE (0)
  · WENDY L. WATSON (7)
  · WHITE AND DELIGHTSOME (11)
  · WILFORD WOODRUFF (6)
  · WILLIAM HAMBLIN (11)
  · WILLIAM LAW (1)
  · WILLIAM SCHRYVER (5)
  · WILLIAM WINES PHELPS (3)
  · WOMEN AND MORMONISM (86)
  · WORD OF WISDOM (7)
  · WORLD CONGRESS OF FAMILIES (1)
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