Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Jehovah, Asherah, El, Baal etc

What do you think about the history of Jehovah presented in wikipedia?

Who was Asherah? Who was El? Elohim? (why the plural "im"?) Is the bible historically accurate? How do we know?

Friday, July 23, 2010

"The body of my spirit"

In the Book of Mormon there is a story where Jesus appears to a man known simply as the 'Brother of Jared.' The story happened thousands of years before Jesus was born but the brother of Jared saw Jesus in the form of a man. He thought that Jesus had "flesh and blood." Jesus corrected him saying, "Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh." Ether 3:16

What does it mean? Body of my Spirit? Aren't spirits supposed to be ephemeral things like mist or something? What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Miracles Part III

I'm reading a really good book called "Best Loved Stories of the LDS People." Here's a short one on page 268. Tell me what you think it means.

Eli H. Peirce
"I...was called to administer [give a healing blessing, a religion rite] to the youngest child of one of the [local pastors called a branch president]. The mother [not a member of the church]seriously objected to anything of the kind in her presence, and she refused to leave the bedside of the dying child.

"Not wishing to intrude, we retired to an upper room to pray, and she, designing our motives, sent her little girl to spy upon us. In a secluded chamber we knelt down and prayed, earnestly and fervently, until we felt that the child would live and knew that our prayers had been heard and answered.

"Turning round, we saw the little girl standing in the half open door gazing intently into the room, but not heeding our movements. She stood as if entranced for some seconds, her eyes fixed immovably upon a certain spot, and did not stir until her father spoke. She then said, 'Papa, who was that other man in there?'

"He answered, 'Brother Peirce.'

"She said, 'No, I mean that other man.'

He replied, 'There was no other, darling except Brother Peirce and myself; we were praying for baby.'

"She shook her head, and, with perfect composure, said, 'Oh yes, there was; I saw him standing between you and Mr. Peirce, and he was all dressed in white.'

"This was repeated to the mother, who tried every means in her power to persuade the child that it was a mere delusion, but all to no purpose. Entreaties, bribes, threats and expostulations were alike unavailing. She knew what she had seen and nothing could shake that conviction. The baby was speedily restored to perfect health."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Book of Mormon Is Objectively True Part II

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to believe it. After all, many people have advanced kooky claims in the past. No one wants to gullibly believe something just to find out that it is not true.

The Book of Mormon is an extraordinary claim. Joseph Smith claimed he got it from an angel and translated it from an ancient language by the power of God. Pretty far fetched right?

But if the evidence for this account is very strong, then you are justified in believing it.

After all, you believe in some strange things yourself I bet. Do you believe in the Big Bang? That matter and energy are the same thing? (that's what Einstein's E=MC^2 equation states. Energy equals Mass times the speed of light squared). Do you believe that a bunch of chemicals, organized into a brain can cause you to be conscious and have emotions, dreams, loves, pain joy etc?

If so, then you believe some extraordinary things, but you have good reason to do so. There is also very good reason to believe that the Book of Mormon is true.

Today's evidence: the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and David Whitmer.

In one of the first pages of the Book of Mormon you find their statement saying that they not only saw the gold plates from which it was supposedly translated, but they also claim to have seen an angel who presented the plates to them and told them the book was true.

All three men were confirmed as having good character and reputation in the community. In particular was David Whitmer's fascinating story. After his death, the newspaper the Richmond Conservator wrote:
"On Sunday evening before his death he called the family and his attending physician, Dr. George W. Buchanan, to his bedside and said, “Doctor do you consider that I am in my right mind?” to which the Doctor replied, “Yes, you are in your right mind, I have just had a conversation with you.” He then addressed himself to all present and said: “I want to give my dying testimony. You must be faithful in Christ. I want to say to you all that the Bible and the record of the Nephites, (The Book of Mormon) are true, so you can say that you have heard me bear my testimony on my death bed....
On Monday morning he again called those present to his bedside, and told them that he had seen another vision which reconfirmed the divinity of the “Book of Mormon,” and said that he had seen Christ in the fullness of his glory and majesty, sitting upon his great white throne in heaven waiting to receive his children.11
The Richmond Democrat also added this comment:
“Skeptics may laugh and scoff if they will, but no man can listen to Mr. Whitmer as he talks of his interview with the Angel of the Lord, without being most forcibly convinced that he has heard an honest man tell what he honestly believes to be true.”"

The other witnesses also testified on their deathbeds that the Book of Mormon is true.

Their witnesses don't prove the book true, but they are a notch in favor of it being true. My last post gave other reasons and my next post will discuss even more. I hope that the accumulation of evidence will lead you to further research and to reading the book itself. (you can get one for free here

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Book of Mormon is Objectively True

The Book of Mormon is Objectively True
I'm not completely sure that the title of this post is true, but I think it is. I'm leaning that way. Take out the word, "objective" and I'm certain. It is a very bold claim to make, but if you are reading this then it did its job by being provocative.

What follows is the case for the objective proof of the Book of Mormon. I don't go into much detail about the various evidence and arguments, but I mention the big ones and provide links for you to get more info.

Just like miracles, these proofs are not the faith or spiritual life that comes from a true relationship with God, but they do provide room for it to grow. It's kind of like those sticks that people place next to saplings to help them stay strong in the storm.

If you don't really know the background of the Book of Mormon, here are some preliminary links to help you know the believer's account:

Good summary

Long explanation

The evidence:

1. Wordprint studies. These studies show that Joseph Smith and his contemporaries could not have written the Book of Mormon and the book was authored by more than one individual:
More detailed analysis:

2. The Witnesses: 11 witnesses claimed to have seen the gold plates and, some of them even saw the angel who gave the plates to Joseph:

3. The Hebrew/near-east character of the Book of Mormon:
a. What is chiasmus?

b. Hebrew style, names and structure.

The next post will have more.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Miracles are like Defibrilators

Miracles are like defibrilators. They can give a jump start to your faith, but they aren't a substitute for it. And miracles don't really prove anything because they can't really be replicated, at least not in a scientific way. Otherwise they wouldn't be miracles, they'd be natural law.

The following miracles are not my own by are related by a person that I find trustworthy. You'll have to make your own judgment about that.

This first one is, I think, very sacred and you should not read it if you feel inclined to ridicule or scoff at it. This is from a talk by Dallin Oaks:

"Another sacred experience is related in the book Tongan Saints. It happened while Elder ‘Iohani Wolfgramm and his wife were serving a mission in their native Tonga...

Their three-year-old daughter was accidentally run over by a loaded taxi. Four of the occupants of the taxi sorrowfully carried her lifeless body to her parents. “Her head was crushed and her face was terribly disfigured.” 20 The sorrowing helpers offered to take the little girl’s body to the hospital so the doctors could repair her severely damaged head and face for the funeral. I now quote the words of her father, Elder Wolfgramm: “I told them I did not want them to take her but that I would ask God what I should do and, if it was possible, to give her life back.”

The helpers took the little girl’s body into the chapel. Elder Wolfgramm continued: “I asked them to hold her while I gave her a priesthood blessing. By then the curious people of the village were flocking in to see our stricken little daughter. As I was about to proceed with the administration, I felt tongue-tied. Struggling to speak, I got the distinct impression that I should not continue with the ordinance. It was as if a voice were speaking to me saying: ‘This is not the right time, for the place is full of mockers and unbelievers. Wait for a more private moment.’

“My speech returned at that moment and I addressed the group: ‘The Lord has restrained me from blessing this little girl, because there are unbelievers among you who doubt this sacred ordinance. Please help me by leaving so I can bless my child.’

The people left without taking offense. The grieving parents carried the little girl to their home, put her body on her own bed, and covered her with a sheet. Three hours passed, and her body began to show the effects of death. The mother pleaded with the father to bless her, but he insisted that he still felt restrained. Finally, the impression came that he should now proceed. I return to his words:

“All present in the home at that moment were people with faith in priesthood blessings. The feeling of what I should do and say was so strong within me that I knew Tisina would recover completely after the blessing. Thus, I anointed her head and blessed her in the name of Jesus Christ to be well and normal. I blessed her head and all her wounds to heal perfectly, thanking God for his goodness to me in allowing me to hold his priesthood and bring life back to my daughter. I asked him to open the doors of Paradise, so I could tell her to come back and receive her body again and live. The Lord then spoke to my heart and said, ‘She will return to you tomorrow. You will be reunited then.’ ” 23

The parents spent an anxious night beside the body of the little girl, who appeared to be lifeless. Then, suddenly, the little girl awoke, alive and well. Her father’s account concludes: “I grabbed her and examined her, her head and face. They were perfectly normal. All her wounds were healed; and from that day to this, she has experienced no complications from the accident. Her life was the miraculous gift from Heavenly Father during our missionary labors in Fo’ui.”

Another miracle related by Dallin Oaks in the same talk.

I had an experience with the gift of tongues in the newly opened country of Bulgaria. In November 1990 we sent missionaries into Bulgaria. A handful of elders entered from Serbia, without any contacts or training in the Bulgarian language. Through their labors and the blessings of the Lord, we soon had 45 Bulgarian members.

In April 1991 I went to Bulgaria with Area President Hans B. Ringger and mission president Dennis B. Neuenschwander. There, most of our members and about 150 investigators assembled in an attractive civic building in Sofia for a fireside at which I was to speak. My interpreter was Mirella Lazarov, a newly baptized member in her 20s. The audience included many professional people and some government officials. I had prayed fervently for guidance in this talk but had little time for preparation.

I began by telling the audience about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and how we differed from other Christian churches. I then felt impressed to speak about the Apostasy, which I did in some detail. In doing so, I completely forgot that I was speaking through an interpreter who had been a member only five months and had almost no background in the subject of the Apostasy. Forgetful of this, I made no attempt to speak in simple terms but made extensive use of the unfamiliar English words involved in a detailed explanation of the Apostasy and the Restoration.

After the crowd had departed, Sister Lazarov tearfully told me of her unique experience in translating my talk. Despite her fluency in English, she sometimes heard me speak words or express thoughts she did not understand in English. She said that whenever this happened, “another voice” spoke through her so she found herself using words or explaining concepts in Bulgarian that she did not understand in English. I told her to cherish this experience and testify of it to others..."