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Posted by: Fetal Deity ( )
Date: October 19, 2010 08:09PM

Yesterday, "poster" put up a link to an article by Mormon apologist Michael Ash, published on the Mormon Times website (October 18, 2010). Original post can be found at:,16506,16506#msg-16506

The article by Ash is found at the following link:

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:,cdr:1,cd_min:Jan%203_2%201,cd_max:Dec%2031_2%201828&tbo=p&q=%2Bark+%2Blight+%2Bstone&num=10

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.

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):

(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!)


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


Simply "FORGOT" to do a thirty-second search on Google Books as I--a RANK amateur--was able to do? (Negligent!)

Am I missing anything here? I look forward to your comments!

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: October 19, 2010 11:11PM

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Posted by: Fetal Deity ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 04:31PM

for saving my post from oblivion.

I was disappointed yesterday when no one was commenting ... however, it looks like the interest has picked up today! : )

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Posted by: schweizerkind ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 04:46PM

I'm-terribly-sorry-but-someone-had-to-say-it-ly yrs,


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Posted by: Soft Machine ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 03:52AM

He strikes me as very probably crazy - and desperate to paper over his cognitive dissonance.

Has anyone here met him in person? If so, does he come across as normal?

When he writes, he spends too much time grasping at apologetic straws to say anything of interest to anyone who is not a struggling Mormon.

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Posted by: Riverman ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 11:05AM

Ther used to be a poster here that was a close relative of Micheal Ash.

And if I remember right Micheal Ash posted here in reply to some comments about a book that he wrote. This was probably about 2-3 years ago.

Anyone else remember that happening?

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 10:54PM

Very polite, but well, he kept trying to bluff four flushes...

My opinion: not all that bright, but if he's smarter than I think he is, he's a delusional sort who kowtows to the mopologist establishment...

That can be accomplished by either dishonesty or selective amnesia and cherry picking his informaton...

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Posted by: ed ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 07:24AM

I am guessing that a lot of the "neat" things in the Book of Mormon can probably be found here.

I came across Clarke some months ago when debating with some LDS folk on the textual critical problems in the Book of Mormon passages that clearly cite the Bible. Almost always, the Book of Mormon quotes, verbatim, the King James Bible. The problem is that the King James Bible often renders a particular passage incorrectly due to the very poor manuscripts that were used in producing it. This goes beyond simple mistranslation as well. Often, whole phrases are added to the text that do not show up in the manuscript tradition until 400-500 AD or so. The Sermon at the Temple in 3 Nephi, for example, is almost a direct copy from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. It has no less than 5 textual problems due to direct copying from the King James.

There is, however, one passage in the Sermon at the Temple that the Book of Mormon got right:

"But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (3 Nephi 12:22).

The King James incorrectly adds the phrase "without a cause" to be angry with ones brother. The Book of Mormon actually gets this one right. However, it turns out that this error is known during the time of Smith, and is conveniently stated in Adam Clarke's Bible commentary. Given how widespread the use of Clarke is during Smith's day, especially in the Methodist church, it is very probable that he had access to it and used it when crafting the Book of Mormon.

I would be curious just how many neat little gems Smith pilfered from Clarke to make his story more believable.

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Posted by: elizars ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 10:26AM


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Posted by: Thread Killer ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 11:13AM

One favorite of the apologists is to point out information that as "not available" to Joseph Smith--this thread kicked me to realize that perhaps there were books, etc., that may not have been in the local library or bookseller, but there were certainly local and itinerate preachers and other travelers through the area that did have access to this stuff and JS soaked up what they had to say. Am I wrong? Hey, the absence of evidence is not evidence know...

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Posted by: Fetal Deity ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 06:35PM

In fact, if the author of the BoM were "on trial" in a court of law, the prosecution would argue that many of the legitimately ancient elements of the BoM prove that the author had knowledge of these things through his environment, whether found in the Bible or in library books, or through his associates, etc.

The burden of proof is on BoM believers to prove the only explanation for it is DIVINE. (I say to them: Good luck with that!)

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Posted by: rambo ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 11:24AM

Mike Ash sent me a lot of PM messages a couple of months ago when I was trying to determine some things about mormon history. At that time I was still on the fence if I should keep being an active mormon or not.

I found Mike to be a very nice guy and seemed really genuine and honest. I think he really does believe in mormonism.

I remember on another board some of the posters asked him why he believed and he said that he had a spiritual experience that is to sacred to tell.

My thoughts are Mike had an experience that he can't seem to explain and that is what holds him to mormonism.

Oh one other thing he did tell these posters that he truly honestly believes that there is more evidence supporting the BOM then there is against it. Of course the are from bias eyes though.

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Posted by: SusieQ#1 ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 12:13PM

This is the core of believer. Mr. Ash is claiming the spiritual witness/spiritual experience that cannot be denied. It's traditional in Mormonism, going back to the claim of "seeing" the plates with their "spiritual eyes." (David Whitmer)

This is the kind of religious experience that is at the core of Mormonism and will continue to be at the core.

Believers will find ways to make it all fit because they believe the spiritual eye experience supersedes all else.

Is Mr. Ash is following in the footsteps of every believer from the get-go. They believed because a spiritual claim is more powerful than a physical one. It's the power of God! :-)

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Posted by: Makurosu ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 05:24PM

I think this type of believer is so invested in the system that he is entrenched, so he claims that he has some undeniable spiritual experience that keeps him in. That's what he says, because that's what he wishes would happen. Of course, he refuses to talk about this "undeniable" experience, because he doesn't want to take the chance of having it debunked.

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Posted by: Fetal Deity ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 05:24PM

they start with a conclusion, ie., "The Book of Mormon is true." Typically, they arrive at this conclusion through some sort of "spiritual experience" or simple faith. Then they go out and find evidence that confirms their bias--not difficult to do if you have a creative mind. And CREATIVITY is the apologists most important tool! This is textbook pseudoscience. Where real science works by gathering evidence then arriving at theories based on the evidence, pseudoscience arrives at a theory (conclusion) then gathers evidence in support.

As far as the "spiritual experience that is too sacred to tell" ... that is a cop-out. It also shows that Ash is unwilling to give equal weight to the spiritual experiences of others who arrive at conclusions incompatible to his, based on THEIR experiences.

Thanks for commenting.

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Posted by: Puli ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 11:34AM

He took things that could have easily been commonly known or understood during his time and incorporated them into his "revealed" stories making them appear consistent with common elements of what people currently believed. The practice would have been common for a confidence con man who would need to gain the trust of his marks in order to take what he wanted from them. The best confidence con men are able to get others to happily give over their valuables. Smith would continue this practice with his religion to entice men to give up their property, their time, their wives and daughters.

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Posted by: Thread killer ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 11:52AM

I've been helping my daughter with her US history class and covering the early 1800's and I keep seeing things in her book that make me say "Hey, that sounds like something JS talked about" Let's see, South Carolina threatening war (Civil War prophecy), health movements against coffee & meat, anti-catholicism, etc., etc....

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Posted by: Raptor Jesus ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 01:35PM

Part of my background is in mythology and the line, "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." is complete and utter bullshit.


If you really pick the story apart, it sounds more like a Victorian rip off of a bilble story, and not something that came organically from an "ancient psuedo Isrealio asiatic tribe" trying to escape from a literal breaking of the world after the tower of babel.

What really kills it are the tiny details about the boat being constructed like unto the manner of the ark, but also tight like a dish.

Really? A dish? and the ark? Contradictory there if you look at the ark story in depth. (Especially since the ark story in the bible is nothing but a rip off story as well).

Then there's the problem of the winds and the number of days it takes to travel. The details included with the animals and provisions, but the lack of details given in other areas of the story.

I'm sorry, it does not "fit perfectly at home." And to take one detail about light giving rocks and pretend that that alone makes it an accurate fantasy story of the time period and region is disgusting.

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Posted by: Fetal Deity ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 09:58PM

"Shiz!" It really is good for a laugh now and again--makes the rest of the BoM look credible!

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Posted by: Freevolved ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 02:04PM

Wow, very thorough Fetal Deity! Ash's article was extremely boring so kudos just for sitting and reading through that, but then to actually do the research like apologist's like Ash should have been doing anyways...well...well done.

Sometimes these guys need to realize that people are not as ignorant as they think. Sure some of the TBM mormons just eat it all up, but their are also tons of contradicitions in their articles. Take this one for example did anyone read this one in the mormontimes about the chief judge being murdered by a "garb of secrecy?" Here's the link

Essentially the article says that the word garb is a pun on the Hebrew word BEGED. This word can not only mean garb or garment, but also "very treacherously." The article still doesn't make much sense, but my point is that this contradicts FAIRS website which talks about how the Hebrew language disappears very shortly after Lehi's family comes to America. Well which is it? Are people using Hebrew as a language 600 years after they get to America or do they all the sudden forget it when they get here? Make up your mind? You can't have it both ways.

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Posted by: Fetal Deity ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 04:29PM

It's amazing how easily you can debunk the mopologist b.s. now with all the tools the internet has to offer. A few years ago, you had to have direct access to a large research library to do the same, so the mopologists could get away with a lot more ... but you're right when you say that a lot of TBMs never bother to do any follow up ("When FARMS speaks, the thinking has been done?")

On that "garb" article ... I do remember reading that a while ago. These kinds of claims make me roll my eyes: what they're claiming is that Joseph Smith "saw" the Hebrew word BEGED on the plates, then MISTRANSLATED it into English as "garb" instead of "treachery." When the BoM was translated (as is the case today) the word "garb" in English had nothing to do with anything related to treachery.

Don't they see a problem here? I guess not, because they make similarly ridiculous claims through their body of apologetics.

Thanks, evolution, for your comments!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/20/2010 06:05PM by Fetal Deity.

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Posted by: matt ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 04:56PM

Didn't the Smiths have access to a large library of reference books, etc., built up by an ancestor?

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Posted by: amos ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 05:14PM

That all humans originated in Africa, that "black" skin was the default for millions of years until humans colonized northern low-UV latitudes in the past tens of thousands of years, that the native population "discovered" by Columbus is ENTIRELY accounted for as of Siberian migration at least 12,500 years before Lehi...
...that calling the church of the devil a "whore" is an insult to whores...

Yup, the stuff Joseph didn't know is ALL OVER it.

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Posted by: JoD3:360 ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 05:28PM

I believe that Mike knows very well that the critics are right.

I believe that Mike is only doing it for the money.

Like most apologists, he knows that his methodology (if you can call it that) would never ever stand up in any place outside of the LDS apologetics spin department.

And since this is the only way he can get recognition and fame for his writing, this is what he does.

Doers he believe the stuff he writes? I doubt it. Intelligent people never believe that kind of rubbish.

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Posted by: Freevolved ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 06:43PM

I think JoD3:360 hit it, although I think insincere goes under the unethical category...

The money is one thing. Sure Michael Ash, Daniel C Peterson can't help but love the money, but to be worshipped by the TBMs who read the stuff...I mean the fame from mormon fans has got to be a huge perk for these guys. Plus they probably read what we write about them and then play the martyr card with the other TBMs and get some more lovin that way too :)

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Posted by: Simone Stigmata ( )
Date: October 20, 2010 06:43PM

Why is everyone so hung up on what was available to Smith???

The question should be: What was available to Sidney Rigdon, Cowdery, Spalding and Smith?

They all had a hand in it.

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Posted by: Soft Machine ( )
Date: October 21, 2010 03:48AM

He certainly doesn't deserve to!

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