Monthly Archives: July 2008

The FAIR Journal: July 2008

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THE FAIR JOURNAL                                             July 2008
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      The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research
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    Apologetics: The branch of theology that is concerned with
    defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines. (The
    American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth
    Edition, 2000.)

INSIDE THE JOURNAL
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 * MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT. The 2008 FAIR Annual Conference is
   only a week away, and this year FAIR plans to offer streaming
   audio access for most of the Conference.

 * FAIR FUNDRAISING. If you would like to help FAIR in its work to
   provide "well-documented answers to criticisms of LDS (Mormon)
   doctrine, belief and practice," we encourage you to contribute
   through the FAIR web site.

 * NEW ON THE WEBSITE: Michael Ash has written a new article dealing
   with anti-Mormon argument pertaining to horses being mentioned in
   the Book of Mormon.

 * RESOURCES ON THE WEB: Meridian Magazine published an article by
   John Tvedtnes that discusses non-LDS scholars' use of the Book of
   Mormon.

 * RESOURCES ON THE WEB: Meridian Magazine published a summary of the
   FAIR resources relating to suicide rates in Utah and the critics'
   use of in attacking The Church of Jesus Christ.

 * RESOURCES ON THE WEB: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
   Saints has created a new web site to respond to questions about
   polygamy.

 * RESOURCES ON THE WEB: Biology professor Steven Peck blogs on why
   the Lamanite DNA issue is irrelevant to the Book of Mormon claims.

 * ASK THE APOLOGIST. Got a question you are dying to ask? Here's
   how.

 * FAIR TOPICAL GUIDE. The Topical Guide on the FAIR Web site is one
   of the most popular resources offered. Learn what is available and
   help us expand our references.

 * FAIR WIKI. The FAIR Wiki is an excellent resource for someone
   looking for a summary of an issue and for pointers to more
   detailed information. Links to many new and changed articles are
   included in this issue.

 * FAIR YOUTUBE VIDEOS. FAIR has had a presence on youtube.com for
   several months and new video clips are added frequently.

 * FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE. Visit the FAIR Bookstore at the FAIR
   Conference to build your apologetic library.

 * ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS. Interested in writing for FAIR? Learn how you
   can have your apologetics work published.

 * PUBLISHING NOTES. Learn how you can become more involved in FAIR
   and how you can reuse the material we publish.

 * FAIR JOURNAL ARCHIVES. All of the FAIR Journal issues since
   October 2001 are on the FAIR web site.

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FAIR conference countdown

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The 2008 FAIR conference is less than two weeks away!

Today (Friday, 25 July) is the last day to pre-register and have a box lunch included with your conference ticket.

Online pre-registration ends Saturday, 2 August. After that, tickets will be available at the door, based on available seating.

We’ll be liveblogging the conference from this site, so if you’re attending and you have a laptop, please bring it. We’ll have free wireless Internet access available.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below, or send an email to mparker (AT) fairlds (DOT) org.

Sustaining evil?

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During the primary season, several of us at FAIR were discussing the advisability of sustaining those whose ideas of good government are morally repugnant to us. My friend, Mike Parker, had made the observation that it was morally repugnant to vote to oppose sustaining, merely for political differences.

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Deus ex machina

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Once in a while, somebody writes to FAIR, taking issue with something one of us writes. While the correspondent may be right, that person bears the burden of showing that it is so. If the evidence that person presents is persuasive, we alter our opinions accordingly. Otherwise, it will remain on our “not proven” list.

Some time ago, FAIR received an email from a gentleman who took issue with my article, “Adding up the Book of Mormon Peoples.” In sum, he stated that a 2.6% average growth rate would get the Book of Mormon numbers–without the need for immigration, which he claimed was contrary to what the Lord commanded. While this brother might be right about the growth rate (He is right about the mathematics!), to assume that would (to me) make the Book of Mormon events too miraculous where it doesn’t need to be.

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All the News that’s Fit

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An interesting “news” piece has appeared on the Signature Books website in the last few days. The undated piece, entitled Fair-weather Friends at FARMS and FAIR,” is interesting and somewhat amusing. Most interesting is why it would even appear as “news” on the website of a book publisher. It is not about one of their books or one of their authors; it is not about any of their employees; it is not about the company; it is not about the company’s financiers. What, then, makes a mention about FAIR’s analysis of a recent Book of Mormon geography publication news worthy?

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On the origins of polygamy (or, What did Joseph know, and when did he know it?)

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Recently a small controversy ignited on Wikipedia over an article presumtively entitled “1831 polygamy revelation.” The original article doesn’t exist anymore (it’s since been merged into “Origin of Latter Day Saint polygamy“), but it raises an interesting and important question: When, exactly, did Joseph Smith start teaching plural marriage?

The trouble is that there are no contemporary first- or second-hand accounts of Joseph advocating polygamy [edit: in the early 1830s]. By that I mean there are no documents written by Joseph Smith himself (first hand), or by someone who personally heard Joseph say something (second hand) and wrote it down at the time (contemporary), that advocate the restoration of polygamy.

When it comes to verifying historical events, these criteria are important. Late reminiscences (things written from memory years later) and third-hand reports (“I heard Sidney Gilbert say that Joseph told him…”) are and should be treated with extreme suspicion. Memory is pliant and frequently influenced by later impressions and feelings, and stories passed from one person to another all too often take on a character remarkably unlike the original. One clear example of this is a late remembrance of W. W. Phelps of a supposed polygamy revelation received by Joseph Smith in 1831. Continue reading

Advice from a Nobel Prize Winner

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Much has been said in the last few days about FAIR’s publication of our concerns regarding Rod Meldrum’s scientific and theologic errors in the Book of Mormon DVD he is selling. As more material appears, doubtless more will be said.

I had the opportunity to spend several hours reviewing the material. As I did so, I found one over-riding error that is probably responsible for 95% of the other errors which I found. Continue reading