Faith and Reason 52: Unknown New World

Posted on by

Mayan Temple

From the book: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith

by Michael R. Ash

While Mesoamerican archaeology has seen tremendous advances in the last two decades, a lot more research, money, and time will be required before a full picture and evaluation of ancient Mesoamerican life can be made. The emerging picture, however, fits neatly into the descriptions contained within the pages of the Book of Mormon. In the days of Joseph Smith, almost nothing was known about the former inhabitants of Mesoamerica. What little knowledge we do have about the ancient New World has come to light in very recent years.

Michael R. Ash is the author of: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting The Prophet Joseph Smith. He is the owner and operator of MormonFortress.com and is on the management team for FairMormon. He has been published in Sunstone, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the Maxwell Institute’s FARMS Review, and is the author of Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt.  He and his wife live in Ogden, Utah, and have three daughters.

Julianne Dehlin Hatton  is a broadcast journalist living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has worked as a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Radio and Television Host, and Airborne Traffic Reporter. She graduated with an MSSc from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2008. Julianne and her husband Thomas are the parents of four children.

Music for Faith and Reason is provided by Arthur Hatton.

4th Watch 21: The False Dichotomy of Truth

Posted on by

4thWatch SmallThe false dichotomy of truth may seem like a strange title. Truth is truth right? Well, that depends on what truth you are taking about. There are many things that are just true or false.

The earth rotates around the Sun and not the other way around. That’s true. The earth’s air is made up of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and the remaining 1% of elements are all other gases COMBINED. Carbon dioxide makes up 1/300th of that 1%. That’s also true but from the way that some climate change enthusiasts frame their position you might think that carbon dioxide has a considerably larger concentration in our atmosphere.

If the planet’s total atmosphere were one mile long, CO2 would take up less than two inches. Now, how much of that is man-made? Approximately 15% to 20%, which would be about ¼ of an inch. If I were making an argument for man-made global warming, which I’m not, I might not frame my talking points using these truths because a ¼ of an inch over a whole mile could be considered minuscule and insignificant. This is not about climate change but about how we use information.

Let’s look at another interesting truth. Dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) is a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by some as dihydrogen oxide, hydrogen hydroxide, or simply hydric acid. Its basis is the highly reactive hydroxyl radical, a species shown to mutate DNA, denature proteins, disrupt cell membranes, and chemically altered critical neurotransmitters. The atomic components of DHMO are found in a number of caustic, explosive, and poisonous compounds such as sulfuric acid, nitroglycerine, and ethyl alcohol.

Should you be concerned about dihydrogen monoxide? Yes, you should. Here are some of the dangers associated with DHMO:

  1. Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
  2. Severe tissue damage from prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.
  3. Acid rain.
  4. Severe burns from its gaseous form.
  5. Pre-cancerous tumors and lesions.

These are just some of the dangers. Here are some of the uses in industry of this insidious compound:

  1. As an industrial solvent and coolant in nuclear power plants.
  2. An element in the production of styrofoam and biological and chemical weapons manufacture.
  3. The development of genetically engineered crops.
  4. A spray-on fire suppressant and retardant.
  5. It is also used in animal research laboratories and in pesticide production and distribution.

What you may find surprising are some of the products and places where DHMO is used, but which for one reason or another, are not normally made part of public presentations of the danger to the lives of our family members and friends. Among these starting uses are

  1. As an additive in food products, including jarred baby food

and baby formula, even in many soups, carbonated beverages,

and supposedly “all-natural” fruit juices.

  1. Cough medicines and other liquid pharmaceuticals.
  2. Aerosol oven cleaners.
  3. Shampoos, shaving creams, deodorants and numerous other bathroom products.

One of the most surprising facts recently revealed about dihydrogen monoxide contamination is in its use as a food and produce “decontaminate.” Studies have shown that even after careful washing, food and produce that has been contaminated by DHMO remains tainted by DHMO.

So, what are the symptoms of accidental Dihydrogen Monoxide overdoes?

  1. Excessive sweating.
  2. Excessive urination
  3. Feeling bloated.
  4. Nausea.
  5. Vomiting.
  6. Dangerously imbalanced level of extracellular fluid (ECF) and intracellular fluid (ICF) in the blood.
  7. Degeneration of sodium homeostasis.

With all these undesirable effects what do we know about the chemical analysis of dihydrogen monoxide?

Well, let’s see. Di-hydrogen would mean two atoms of hydrogen and Monoxide means only one atom of oxygen so that would translate into H2O or WATER. IT’S WATER. Now all the things that have been said about this common compound are true just framed in the most negative fashion possible and then given the worst possible spin.

Do you know anybody that does this kind of thing with religion? They only talk about the most unpleasant aspects of a faith tradition and then analyze them with the most negative terms they can find, and that’s all they talk about. If you are listening to or reading this type of material I would like to give you the advice of president Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the first presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “Just stop it.”

One of President Boyd K. Packer’s sayings that I have latched on to is, “some things may be true but not useful.” So, are the Mormons trying to hide the truth from the rank and file members of the Church? The sound bite answer is “no.” Well, that’s the end of this podcast. Thanks for listening. Just kidding. The point is that we don’t have to accept these styles of explanations to sincere gospel questions and concerns. Here is what president Uchtdorf has said about such things.

“Come Join with Us” talk Oct. 2013.

Let’s look at another truth situation. In 1989 Stephen R. Covey wrote a book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Yeah, so what? Well, it is a great book. Oh yeah, says who? Well, I guess that depends on what you want out of life. If you want to be your best this book provides some great tools. In brother Covey’s book there is an illustration of a woman who depending on how you perceive her she can be an attractive young woman or an elderly sad woman. I’m providing the picture in the show notes of this program, so you can see it for yourself if you haven’t seen this picture before.

images

 

 

 

This example is a classic illustration of how perception affects our reality.

A mother of a college student wrote in to the FairMormon “Ask a Question” section of our website and explained how her son had come across some of the less than ideal events in Church history and therefore the whole Church was a lie. He was never taught any of these “truths” in sacrament meeting, Sunday school, or priesthood classes. He had been deceived, he claimed, and felt it was all just one big scam.

I’ve seen this happen before particularly to those who only study or listen to the “ideal” of the gospel, and when they find out that the real world is less than ideal it becomes an all-or-nothing game.

What they don’t realize is just because you now see the sad older woman doesn’t mean that young attractive woman hasn’t disappeared. All the good in the Church is still there. None of it has gone away. All the blessings. All the acts of kindness. All of the principles. They are still with us. It’s just our perception that has become enlarged to a more accurate worldview and not just the ideal in life.

Let me share an example. In my ward we have our adult gospel doctrine class taught by a woman and a man. They alternate every other week. Our ward is so big that we have two teachers or more for every class.

My personal preference or prejudice is a man instructor for gospel doctrine. Yeah, I know. He’s a MSP or male chauvinist pig. I admit it. Well, I was all set to be disappointed by this “sister” teacher. To my surprise I really liked her style and the more I attended the class, the more I came to appreciate how she handled herself and responded to the comments members made.

Her name? Bethany Weed. I talked to her about using her as an example in this podcast, and she authorized me to use her real name. The weed girl. Well, she married a Weed and has had to live with the name ever since. We all have our crosses to bare in life.

So, here is what impressed me about her skills as an instructor. She has the unique ability to stay on topic without going off on some tangent like I sometimes do when I teach a class, but what really caught my attention is how she makes the answers to questions from the members important. Everybody has a little different understanding of how the gospel makes sense to them, and she has this ability to turn those differences into something important.

Because we are different doesn’t mean that we are right or wrong, just different and that difference is what makes us real. Just like in the talk by President Uchtdorf. Our unique differences enrich us all. Every ward needs a Sister Weed for the gospel doctrine class. If you don’t have one get on the Bishops good side and order one from the Distribution Center.

So, in the gospel of Jesus Christ our learning curve and understanding of principles, doctrines, and covenants can expand over time. Just because we come across some new information doesn’t mean we were lied to in the past. It is the natural process of life. We learn things we didn’t know that we didn’t know. Make sense?

So, what is your default setting to use a computer term? Are you one of those people who seem to believe the worst first? Do you know people like that? I sure do. How about if we changed that setting and gave the presiding brethren of the Church the benefit of the doubt.

When was the last time you heard one of them teach a false doctrine? We all develop at different paces. Something we might have been taught when we were twelve could have a much deeper meaning by the time we are twenty or forty or sixty for that matter. The same goes for the Church at large. The Restoration is still taking place.

Article of Faith number nine states that “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

So, how about we just lighten up? Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. All the good is still there. None of it has gone away.

As always the views and opinions expressed in this podcast may not represent those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or that of FairMormon.

 

Fair Issues 91: New light on Book of Mormon geography

Posted on by

MAIn this episode brother Ash sheds light on Book of Mormon geographic models from the perspective of both amateur enthusiasts and professional scholars.

The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.

Brother Ash is author of the book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, as well as the book, of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both books are available for purchase online through the FairMormon Bookstore. Tell your friends about the Mormon Fair-Cast. Share a link on your Facebook page and help increase the popularity of the Mormon Fair-Cast by subscribing to this podcast in iTunes, and by rating it and writing a review.

The views and opinions expressed in the podcast may not reflect those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or that of FairMormon

 

RiseUp Podcast – Spiritual Calculators

Posted on by

chMP900314189[1]This podcast is all about helping people find answers to spiritual and doctrinal questions. And I asked myself, how do I go about getting the right answer, as opposed to just SOME answer. If life were a math problem is there a calculator?

When a child is first introduced to basic mathematics, such 1+1=2, that individual is being taught the power of reason to come up with answers. For years many have assumed that this basic equation is correct, and in basic mathematical terms, it is and always will be correct. But in reality, even this simple equation can be questioned to the point that the answer may cause someone to even doubt their assumption that 1+1 may equals 2.

For example, one apple, plus one orange, does not equal two apples, or two oranges. That simple redefinition of what is being added may cause someone to think that even the simplest of equations don’t make sense anymore. What a shocking realization! Oh no, now what? Is the rest of math wrong? If 1+1 doesn’t always equal 2, I guess the universe is a random and chaotic existence that has no order, and no meaning. Call it a math crisis, right?

Some have called mathematics, the absolute truth. That is because 1 + 1 should always equal 2. However, as was just demonstrated, depending on how you view the equation, you can come up with a very different answer. One might even ask, “Is there an absolute truth after all?” It seems that even math has nuances to it making even something as simple as 1+1 may not always appear as equaling 2.

However, when this equation is stripped of it’s redefinition of being one apple and one orange, the equation becomes true again. 1+1=2 is true when we are dealing with simple numbers. When the numbers are what they are supposed to be, a numerical value, the math works.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members, and even church leaders, will speak of the doctrines and teaching of the Church as being the fullness of the gospel, the gospel is TRUE! There are those that view the gospel, or the Church and its doctrines, as simple 1+1=2 kind of thinking, and there are those who see it in grand complexity, but still know that even complex equations have a true answer. Then there are those who question that simplicity, they look for ways for that approach to appear flawed, incomplete, or incorrect. In an effort to do this, certain redefinitions take place, certain inferences or qualifiers can be attached to those things which are simple, in an effort to disprove even the simplest or fundamental of assumptions.

What then is the source of truth, how can we “prove” truth?

Calculators are an interesting device. Calculators are used in various forms as a way to assist the mind in coming to a mathematical answer. They are not swayed by hypotheticals, they are not influenced by false assumptions. Inside a calculator are the answers to a near infinite possibility of equations.

In High School, as students begin to venture in to more complex equations, the students may use scientific calculators. When entering this world of more complex mathematical equations many of the buttons on a scientific calculator have little to no meaning. As one learns the functions behind the various buttons, (cos, tan, x2, etc.) you also need to learn the order in which those buttons can be employed in order for the equation to come to the right answer. One must also learn things like the “order of operations” or the order in which the various equations need to be approached in order for the correct answer to come out. Trying to find the answer without using the order of operations will likely give you a vastly different answer than just going through an equation from left to right.

When I first learned about these things I thought, “How dumb! Why does math have to be so complicated, why do we have to remember all these rules and orders…” Then I asked the same question that so many seem to ask, “When am I ever going to use this in my real life?”

Well, here goes one application with math to be used in real life, and it has very little to do with math, directly. Think of this as a metaphor. Call it the “Parable of the Solar Powered Scientific Calculator” if you will. I won’t take the time to apply the metaphor, that’s up to you and hopefully the spirit. But listen with your spiritual ears.

Math is about finding answers. For many, the quest for discipleship, or even a higher spirituality is also about finding answers. Just like in math there is a source for all spiritual truth, a source that, when employed correctly, can help us find answers to the questions for which we seek an answer. But just like a math problem, we need to understand some basic principles of operation before we can get the correct answer. We need to ask the calculator the right equation. And just because we think we are using all the tools we have, doesn’t mean that the answer that we read on the little screen is the correct answer.

It is not uncommon to push the wrong button, or skip a step, or do something out of the order of operations. When this happens it is not the calculators fault for getting the wrong answer, it is user error that is likely to blame. That doesn’t mean a person is stupid, it just means give it another go and try something else. For me I have to write down every step of the equation as I go through it, even when using a calculator. Because the in between calculations that some algebraic equations would present, open up an exponential set of opportunities to miscalculate. Also I typically need to go back and check (and sometimes re-check) the answer that I ended up with just to make sure. I rarely take the first answer as the final answer. I would go back through each step after I came to an answer to make extra sure that I did each step in order and that I did each step correctly. If even one part of the equation was off, it would likely throw off the entire process and I would come to a vastly different answer than the right one.

That is the also the hard thing about math. You often come to an answer, but that doesn’t mean it is the right answer. Rarely do you get the dreaded “Big E” that comes up on the calculator where you know you have made a serious error. Most of the time, you do get a numerical value, but just because it is a number doesn’t mean it is the right number. Double check each step of the equation and make sure that step was completed correctly, write it down, and proceed through each step, in order.

I also have to tell myself that than no matter how many times I come to the wrong answer, it doesn’t automatically become the right answer. I have to remind myself, I am not inventing math, I am not creating new logic, I am learning the principles of math that are unchanging and applying them to the equation to get the right answer. With math we are not afforded the flexibility of going with the number we feel is right.

If you were anything like me in high school, the math book could have words explaining how an equation was done, but that didn’t mean I understood how to do the math. A teacher was often far more effective in explaining what each step meant, why each step was important, and so on. Good teachers helped math books make sense. Over time I could see the value in learning statistics, geometry, and yes, even in algebra.

In time, and with some help from others who know math far better than myself, I learned how to answer mathematical questions. I had great teachers, I had a scientific calculator, but I needed one more thing. I needed light to give power to my calculator. Every now and then, my solar powered calculator would need to be in the presence of light in order to charge it’s battery. Without that light, it didn’t matter how much I pushed those buttons I would not get an answer.

Ultimately, I learned to trust my teachers, I learned that a calculator was a powerful tool, but a tool that needed to be used and understood in the way it was intended. Eventually I would learn the right answer.

FairMormon-Rise-Up-iTunes-logo

Faith and Reason 51: Book of Mormon Geography

Posted on by

isthmus

From the book: Of Faith and Reason, 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith

by Michael R. Ash

Is there an official Church position on the location of Book of Mormon events? The answer is a simple no.  Just because Joseph Smith spoke with Moroni and translated the Book of Mormon, doesn’t mean that he necessarily knew where the events took place. Joseph Smith never claimed to have revelation on the question of Book of Mormon geography. Without revelation to settle the issue, Joseph was as free to speculate as anyone else. The fact that Joseph could have made incorrect assumptions about the geography of events in his own book supports the proposition that Joseph was not the author, but was instead, the translator.

Michael R. Ash is the author of: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting The Prophet Joseph Smith. He is the owner and operator of MormonFortress.com and is on the management team for FairMormon. He has been published in Sunstone, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the Maxwell Institute’s FARMS Review, and is the author of Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt.  He and his wife live in Ogden, Utah, and have three daughters.

Julianne Dehlin Hatton  is a broadcast journalist living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has worked as a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Radio and Television Host, and Airborne Traffic Reporter. She graduated with an MSSc from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2008. Julianne and her husband Thomas are the parents of four children.

Music for Faith and Reason is provided by Arthur Hatton.

Articles of Faith – Sustaining the Brethren – Interview with Duane Boyce

Posted on by

duane-boyceDuane Boyce received his academic training in psychology, philosophy, and the clinical treatment of families. He received a PhD from Brigham Young University and conducted his postdoctoral study in developmental psychology at Harvard University. He was a member of the Moral Studies Group at Brigham Young University (BYU) and served on the faculty there before becoming vice president of a steel company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. He is a founding partner of the Arbinger Institute, a worldwide management consulting and educational firm, and is the coauthor of four books. He has published academic essays on scriptural topics in BYU Studies, The FARMS Review, Religious Educator, and the Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture. He is also the author of the book, Even Unto Bloodshed: A Latter-day Saint Perspective on War (Kofford, 2015). Among other callings, he has served as a bishop and a stake president. He is the author of an article in The Interpreter entitled, “Sustaining the Brethren.”

Questions addressed in this interview:

In your article you call sustaining the brethren a “vital topic.” What about sustaining the brethren is vital?

This is a part of the making and keeping of sacred covenants within the church. Is there a distinction between sustaining the brethren, and sustaining our local leaders as it relates to these covenants?

When we raise our right arm to the square, is that a sort of covenant renewal? Almost sacramental in that regard?

Your article sets up an interesting paradigm where you discuss the differences between God’s character and humankind’s character and the vast differences that currently rest in chasm between the two. Could you please lay out that foundation for the rest of our discussion on sustaining the brethren?

For some this may sound a little like a forwarding of the “sheep” mentality, we should just do what they leaders tell us because God is telling them, and God is smarter, therefore let’s just be sheep to what they say. I don’t think that is what you are saying, but I can see how that position would be the conclusion some could come to with this paradigm. How would you respond to that position?

When it comes to sustaining the brethren, what is the difference (as you see it) between following the words of the combined Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency, as opposed to statements made by individuals within those council’s?

I want to now address some common criticisms that come up with respect to sustaining the brethren, and have you offer a few approaches to these criticisms:

There are waves of discord, disagreement, or discontent that seem to crash against the Church at different times and in slightly different ways. One that I have observed over the past five to seven years or so, is the idea that is clothed in the notion that the general church membership has a role or a place to be an advocate of systemic change to doctrines or practices in the church—and that this perspective allows a person to remain in a faithful position. How does that reconcile with the concepts that you present in your article on sustaining the brethren? Can one be an advocate for systemic change, and sustain the brethren at the same time?

There is a quote that you give from Elder Dallin H. Oaks that I love. It is an interesting perspective because critics of this idea of sustaining brethren at all, or even those who find it difficult to place their faith in the hands of leaders, forget that we are all operating in mortal capacities. The quote reads: “Revelations from God … are not constant. We believe in continuing revelation, not continuous revelation. We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality. Fortunately, we are never out of our Savior’s sight, and if our judgment leads us into actions beyond the limits of what is permissible and if we are listening … the Lord will restrain us by the promptings of His Spirit.” How does this quote lay a solid foundation for sustaining the brethren while also giving room for their mortal fallibility?

Sustaining the brethren seems to be a great deal about the issue of trust. We are placing our trust in individuals who are hopefully placing their trust in God. Because we are dealing with eternal salvation, this trust is not an issue that should be taken lightly. So, how then do you, in your article make recommendations on how to navigate this issue moving forward?

Duane Boyce is the author of an article in The Interpreter entitled, “Sustaining the Brethren” as well as the book, Even Unto Bloodshed: A Latter-day Saint Perspective on War (Kofford, 2015).

Faith and Reason 50: Disarming Ammon

Posted on by

ammon

From the book: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith

by Michael R. Ash

At least as early as the ninth century BC, artwork in the ancient Near East attests to the practice of cutting off the arms, hands, feet, or other body parts of vanquished enemies. Scholars who have studied this ancient custom suggest the severed limbs might have served as vouchers for rewards or mercenary pay upon presentation to an authority.

It has just recently been shown that the Aztecs had a similar practice. Ancient artwork depicts Aztec warriors holding the severed arms of their enemies like trophies. Aztecs who proved their prowess in battle often gained social privileges such as the right to wear special clothing and enjoy special foods. Bringing back the severed arms of an enemy was one way to prove valor in combat.

Michael R. Ash is the author of: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting The Prophet Joseph Smith. He is the owner and operator of MormonFortress.com and is on the management team for FairMormon. He has been published in Sunstone, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the Maxwell Institute’s FARMS Review, and is the author of Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt.  He and his wife live in Ogden, Utah, and have three daughters.

Julianne Dehlin Hatton  is a broadcast journalist living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has worked as a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Radio and Television Host, and Airborne Traffic Reporter. She graduated with an MSSc from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2008. Julianne and her husband Thomas are the parents of four children.

Music for Faith and Reason is provided by Arthur Hatton.

Faith and Reason 49: King Benjamin’s Speech

Posted on by

 

king-benjamin-addresses-people-39650-gallery

From the book: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith

by Michael R. Ash

Secondary to the spiritual insight gained by reading the sermon of King Benjamin, we also find additional evidence of the Book of Mormon’s link with the ancient Old World. Not only does King Benjamin’s speech have strong similarities to ancient Near Eastern traditions, but so does his son Mosiah’s coronation.

Michael R. Ash is the author of: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting The Prophet Joseph Smith. He is the owner and operator of MormonFortress.com and is on the management team for FairMormon. He has been published in Sunstone, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the Maxwell Institute’s FARMS Review, and is the author of Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt.  He and his wife live in Ogden, Utah, and have three daughters.

Julianne Dehlin Hatton  is a broadcast journalist living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has worked as a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Radio and Television Host, and Airborne Traffic Reporter. She graduated with an MSSc from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2008. Julianne and her husband Thomas are the parents of four children.

Music for Faith and Reason is provided by Arthur Hatton.

RiseUp Podcast: Acquainted with Grief – Interview with Misty Nielson

Posted on by
Every now and then you hear the story of an individual that is able to demonstrate incredible faith, and endurance, that is as uncommon as is their life experience. That is the case with Misty Nielson. Her story shows the importance of family, just perhaps not in the way you may think.
3
Misty Nielson is 34 years old and a Mother to 5. Married for 16 years, she is a convert to the church, and the only member in her family.
She grew up in an abusive home, and was abandoned by both biological parents, only to be adopted into a home that was also abusive. She moved out when I was 16, was legally emancipated and joined the church when she was 17. Following her baptism she used the last of her money to move out west to Utah.
After married her husband Andrew, they have since had 5 children -One of which died shortly after childbirth.
After the death of that child, Misty did not attend church for a period of time. During her absence from church, I was prompted to start a business, called Baby Boards – where she creates memorial pieces for other women who have lost children.
After years of not attending she decided to come back to full activity At the beginning of 2013, and received a temple recommend after being without one for 10 years.
Her husband now has schizophrenia and is unable to participate in church because church is a trigger for him. Misty considers Andrew’s continued support, in spite of this condition, to be a huge blessing – – he wants to be with them, but cannot.
If that were not enough struggle in her life, one of their children also has mental illness – an anxiety disorder and OCD. In all this, Misty and her family have drawn closer to the Lord with a greater appreciation of what it means to have a Christ centered family. Misty also is well acquainted with the challenges that face individuals who do not attend church for one reason or another as they seek to return back to activity in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
FairMormon-Rise-Up-iTunes-logo

The Archaeology of the Council of Nicaea

Posted on by

[Cross-posted from Forn Spǫll Fira.]

Recent, under-informed assertions about the Book of Mormon and archaeology prompt this discussion.

Let’s ask a simple question:

What archaeological evidence do we have that the Council of Nicaea ever took place?

Unlike Zarahemla, or the Mitanni capital of Washshukanni, Nicaea is a site whose location is known. It has been excavated. We know what is there.

Archaeologically, Nicaea (modern Iznik) is most famous for its ceramic tiles, but they date from the Ottoman period. On the other end of the time spectrum, some neolithic pottery has been found at Iznik (Machteld J. Mellink, “Archaeology in Anatolia,” American Journal of Archaeology 89/4 (1985): 549).

The theater is 1st century, a typical Hadrianic style building that would have seated about 15,000 people. (Marie-Henriette Gates, “Archaeology in Turkey,” American Journal of Archaeology 98/2 (1994): 276.)

The city wall is also first century with numerous renovations in later times.

The church at Nicaea is 6th century (William Tabbernee, “Asia Minor and Cyprus,” in Early Christianity in Contexts, ed. William Tabbernee [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2014], 307.) The Koimeisis Church dates to the early eighth century (SEG XLI 1099) or late seventh century (SEG XLIV 1007).

So all of the Christian structures date at least two centuries after the Council of Nicaea. This is problematic.

The epigraphic corpus for Nicaea is extensive: Sencer Sahin, Katalog der antiken Inschriften des Museums von Iznik (Nikaia), 4 vols. (Bonn: Rudolf Habelt Verlag, 1979-87). With four volumes of inscriptions plus numerous additions in the SEG (Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum), it is clear that Nicaea has more inscriptions than most Mesoamerican sites.

As far as epigraphic evidence we have:

1st century BC

  • a first century BC epitaph (SEG XXIX 1289).

1st century AD

  • an inscription of Nero (AD 54-68) regarding street repair (I Iznik I 13 = CIG 3743)
  • two first century AD dedications on the city gate to the Flavians (AD 70-79)  (SEG XXVIII 1028-29).
  • a building dedication to the Flavians (AD 78) (SEG LI 1709)
  • a statue of Domitian (AD 81-96) (SEG LVII 1275)
  • three first century inscriptions for Roman officals (SEG XXVIII 1025-27).
  • four first century epitaphs (SEG XXVIII 1032-33; XXX 1429; XLVII 1679)

2nd century AD

  • an aquaduct inscription of Hadrian (AD 117-138) (I Iznik I 1)
  • an architrave inscription of Hadrian (AD 117-138) (I. Iznik. I 30a = SEG XXIX 1282).
  • an altar dedicated to Hadrian (AD 117-138) (I Iznik I 32 = SEG XXIX 1283).
  • a dedicatory inscription from the reign of Hadrian (I Iznik I 56 = SEG XXXVII 1071 = SEG XLVI 1604)
  • three second century altars (SEG XXXIV 1263; SEG XLIII 897)
  • thirty-one second century epitaphs (SEG XXIX 1290-91; SEG XXX 1430; SEG XXXIV 1264-65; SEG XLIX 1789; SEG LI 1710-11; SEG LV 1346, 1348-56, 1358; SEG LVI 1392-93; SEG LVII 1278, 1281-88; SEG LVIII 1447).

3rd century AD

  • an honorary inscription from the reign of Elagabalus (AD 218-222) (I Iznik I 60 = SEG XXIX 1281).
  • a milestone of Julius Verus Maximinus (AD 235-38) (I Iznik 21 = CIL III 12226 = 13650)
  • two inscriptions of Claudius Gothicus (AD 268-70) regarding the rebuilding of the city wall (I Iznik I 11-12 = CIG 3747-48)
  • four third century dedications to Zeus (SEG LV 1337-39; SEG LVII 1276)
  • twelve third century epitaphs (SEG XXIX 1293; XXXIII 1080; SEG LI 1712-13; SEG LV 1344, 1357, 1359-63; SEG LVI 1394-95).
  • a fragmentary third century epitaph (SEG XXIX 1292).
  • a milestone of Diocletian and Maximian (AD 286-293) (I Iznik I 22)

4th century AD

  • a fourth century epitaph (SEG XXIX 1294).
  • a fourth century Jewish inscription quoting Psalm 135:25 (I Iznik II 615 = SEG XLVIII 1499)

Undated

  • an undated dedication to Ti. Claudius Aelianos Sabinos (I Iznik I 35 = SEG XXIX 1284).
  • six undated dedications to Zeus (SEG XXX 1428; SEG XL 1144-46; SEG XLVII 1678; SEG LX 1338)
  • an undated dedication to Zeus, Hera, and Athena (SEG XXVIII 1030)
  • an undated altar dedicated to Apollo (SEG LV 1340)
  • an undated altar dedicated to Hermes and Apollo (SEG LV 1341)
  • an undated honorary inscription (SEG XLVII 1677)
  • an undated altar dedicated to Tadenos and Okkonenos (SEG LX 1339)
  • three undated altar inscriptions (I Iznik I 43 = SEG XXIX 1288; SEG LI 1709 bis; SEG LX 1340).
  • three undated fragmentary dedications (I Iznik I 36, 42, 66 = SEG XXIX 1285-87; SEG XXXVI 1153).
  • two undated fragmentary inscriptions (SEG XXIX 1343-44).
  • fifty-nine undated epitaphs (SEG XXVIII 1034; SEG XXIX 1295-1318, 1320-24, 1326-31, 1333-38; XXX 1431-34; XXXIII 1081-82; SEG XLVII 1680-81; SEG LX 1341-49)
  • four undated Christian inscriptions (SEG XXIX 1339-42)
  • four undated Christian epitaphs (SEG XXIX 1319, 1325, 1331-32)
  • an undated testamentary regulation (SEG XLIX 1790)

There is no epigraphic evidence that Constantine paid the least attention to Nicaea. Furthermore, looking at the epigraphic evidence, we would conclude that fourth century inhabitants of Nicaea had converted from the worship of Zeus to Judaism, not Christianity. There is not a single inscription of Constantine’s from the site.

There appears to be no archaeological evidence that Constantine was ever in Nicaea, nor that there was a Christian council held there in the fourth century, and, of course, no archaeological evidence for the content of the Nicaean Creed. Should millions of creedal Christians therefore abandon their faith? They cannot point to a single piece of archaeological or epigraphic evidence that the Council of Nicaea ever took place. No reputable archaeologist has ever produced any. I can find no record of any reputable archaeological journals that have published any archaeological evidence that the Council ever took place or that support the creed that it supposedly produced.

Anyone who has actually worked trying to integrate archaeological with historical data can spot the problems with this sort of analysis easily. Some people, however, want to apply a double standard applying different standards to the Book of Mormon than they do to other historical events.