Tuesday, September 26, 2006

=?MACINTOSH?Q?Is_a_=D2Paradigm_Shift=D3_in_Book_of_Mormon_Studie?= =?MACINTOSH?Q?s_Possible=3F?=

Is a "Paradigm Shift" in Book of Mormon Studies Possible?
(Sunstone, March 2005.)=20
DAN VOGEL is the author of the award-winning biography Joseph Smith:
The Making of a Prophet (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2004), as
well as many other articles and books on Mormon history. He is an
independent researcher and currently lives in Westerville, Ohio, with
his wife, Margie.
Presently, the controversy between Book of Mormon apologists and
critics rages mainly because both are seeking the unconditional
acquiescence of the other. At the center of the discussion is
disagreement over the historicity of the Book of Mormon and an
either/or dichotomy: either the Book of Mormon is real history and
Joseph Smith is a real prophet, or, as apologist William J. Hamblin
has insisted, the Book of Mormon is fiction and Joseph Smith is a
false prophet.1 Given this binary stance, it is little wonder the
apologists for historicity are willing to go to extreme, even
unconventional measures to fend off all attacks.
One of these extreme tactics has been to align themselves with
philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn's discussion of paradigms, in his
famous book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,2 as an entry into
postmodernist theories of the social construction of truth. Their
motivation for so doing seems to be to create a space for their
apologetic claims by arguing that if science is actually a subjective
enterprise, then believing that the Book of Mormon is historical is
neither more nor less "scientific" than not believing.
Although Kuhn's discussion of paradigms remains useful, various
aspects of his thesis have been rejected by philosophers of science.
Yet it is on these extremely controversial aspects that apologists
have placed the most emphasis. They do so as a means to justify mixing
religious values with scientific criteria. privileging positive over
negative evidence, creating ad hoc question-begging responses to
counter evidence and, ironically, resisting "paradigm shift."
This essay examines the apologists' paradigm to show that their
appropriation of Kuhn is not only highly questionable but at odds with
his original thesis. Drawing on Kuhn myself, I will suggest another
paradigm, one that might actually be a paradigm shift - one, I
believe, capable of creating common ground upon which the Book of
Mormon and Joseph Smith might be more fruitfully approached.
Kuhn's signature contribution to the philosophy of science lies in
his contention that although science has indeed progressed, its
advancement was not simply through a steady "accumulation of
knowledge." An "accumulation" model implies that with each
experimental result, science moves toward a more accurate
representation of reality. Kuhn argues instead that the historical
progress of science is best understood as punctuated by mass
conversions to new understandings, sudden "paradigm shifts." Kuhn
argues that new paradigms are often chosen for non-scientific reasons
and that switching paradigms amounts to an act of "faith" because an
older paradigm always has more evidence in its favor and fewer
anomalies, although those anomalies are serious enough to cause a
crisis and a search for a better paradigm.3 Thus, Kuhn explains that
the term paradigm "stands for the entire constellation of beliefs,
values, techniques, and so on shared by the members of a given
Though Kuhn is clearly right that science has undergone major
revolutions - such as the shift from Aristotelian to Newtonian
physics, and from Newtonian mechanics to Einsteinian relativity - such
examples clearly do not support his non-cumulative theory of
scientific progress. Physicist Steven Weinberg has observed that while
the "soft" parts of a theory (our ad hoc explanations of why the
theory works), the "hard" parts (usually the equations) endure and are
incorporated in succeeding theories. According to Weinberg,
Kuhn... took his idea of a paradigm shift from the shift from
Aristotelian to Newtonian physics... which set a pattern into which he
tried to shoehorn every other scientific revolution... Revolutions in
science seem to fit Kuhn's description only to the extent that they
mark a shift in understanding some aspect of nature from pre-science
to modern science. The birth of Newtonian physics was a mega-paradigm
shift, but nothing that has happened in our understanding of motion
since then - not the transition from Newtonian to Einsteinian
mechanics, or from classical to quantum physics - fits Kuhn's
description of a paradigm shift.5
Philosophers of science Ian G. Barbour and Larry Laudan have likewise
questioned Kuhn's non-cumulative model of scientific progress. Barbour
has argued that there is "more continuity across a revolution than
Kuhn depicts; there may be changes in assumptions, instrumentation and
data, but there are no total discontinuities," and Laudan has asked:
"Why need cumulativity be a precondition for objective judgments of
cognitive progress?... [Why should we confuse this arguably sufficient
condition for scientific progress with a necessary condition?"6
Despite such epistemic difficulties, Kuhn's assertion that scientific
paradigms are to some degree socially constructed views of reality
creates an opening that has been exploited by apologists and
proponents of dubious positions ever since.
Kuhn did not intend his new model of the scientific enterprise to be
put to use in apologetics. Indeed, Kuhn himself often complained about
the spurious ways in which his work was invoked to defend unscientific
and irrational positions. He was particularly dismayed by
postmodernist Paul Feyerabend's claim that his work was a defense of
irrationality in science.7
Despite Kuhn's protestations, responsibility for some of the
confusion must still be laid at his feet. Physicists Alan Sokal and
Jean Bricmont have written about the mess of contradictory statements
Kuhn left as a legacy in his attempt to carve out a middle position
between science as purely objective and science as subjective -
between positivism on one hand, and relativism on the other. Sokal and
Bricmont have even gone so far as to observe that there are "two Kuhns
- a moderate Kuhn and his immoderate brother." The moderate "Kuhn
admits that the scientific debates of the past were settled correctly,
but emphasizes that the evidence available at the time was weaker than
is generally thought and that non-scientific considerations played a
role." The less careful Kuhn makes it sound like "changes of paradigm
are due principally to non-empirical factors and that, once accepted,
they condition our perception of the world to such an extent that they
can only be confirmed by our subsequent experiences." In Sokal and
Bricmonts view, it is this latter Kuhn, the "immoderate brother," that
has made Kuhn, "perhaps involuntarily, one of the founding fathers of
contemporary relativism."8
It is on the questionable legacy of the immoderate Kuhn that
religious apologists and fringe scientists have pounced, appropriating
Kuhn with such regularity that some have dubbed their arguments the
"fallacy from Kuhn." Creationists are a prime offender. The general
outline of the "fallacy from Kuhn" that creationists employ is as
Highlight perceived shortcomings of the neo-Darwinian paradigm - e.g.,
its inability to answer the questions and make the predictions which
the creationists deem most important and significant.
Explain how creationism is the only logical alternative. =20
Appeal to Kuhn's discussion of paradigm debates to explain why the
scientific community resists a shift to the creationists' paradigm.9
Philosopher and well-known skeptic Michael Shermer notes that
"identification of the Kuhnian paradigm and the call for a
revolutionary shift to the believer's radical idea is made by nearly
every claimant who is out of the mainstream, from UFOlogists and
psychic investigators to proponents of cold fusion and perpetual
motion machines."10
If those on the fringes of science find inspiration in Kuhn's work,
those in the dominant paradigm can also find justification for
resisting new paradigms. Kuhn himself said: "If all members of a
community responded to each anomaly as a source of crisis or embraced
each new theory advanced by a colleague, science would cease."11
Indeed, this is the situation I contend Book of Mormon apologists are
caught in. They operate in an orbit between the moon and the sun,
resisting the pull of the reigning naturalistic paradigm of secular
scholarship while at the same time holding at bay revisionists within
the Mormon community who are tugging them to embrace an
inspired-fiction model for understanding the Book of Mormon.
The main exploiter of Kuhn among Book of Mormon apologists is Kevin
Christensen, who first began using Kuhn in his theoretical reflections
on Book of Mormon debates in 1990 and has continued up to the present,
including his "Paradigms Crossed" (1995), "Paradigms Regained" (2001),
and his critique of my approach to the Book of Mormon published last
year in the FARMS Review.12 The following is an outline of
Christensen's strategy and basic arguments, which he has derived from
Kuhn and repeated over the past fifteen years:
Disagreements between Book of Mormon apologists and critics are best
understood as an unresolvable debate between competing paradigms -
i.e., ancient vs. nineteenth-century origin.
Paradigms are not chosen according to objective rules, but rather on
subjectively assessed criteria - e.g., comprehensiveness, coherence,
simplicity, fruitfulness.
Paradigms are unverifiable and resist falsification. =20
Both apologists and critics assess evidence in a way that is
consistent with their particular paradigms.
Both apologists and critics choose which questions are the most
significant to have answered and leave others unanswered.
Both apologists and critics use ad hoc rationalizations to explain
away counter-evidence and anomalies.
Criteria such as accuracy of key predictions, comprehensiveness,
coherence, parsimony, and fruitfulness show the Book of Mormon
apologists' paradigm to be superior to the critics' nineteenth-century
While Christensen resists the suggestion that he is guilty of the
"fallacy from Kuhn,"13 I contend that he uses Kuhn primarily in an
effort to diminish the significance of counter evidence to Book of
Mormon historicity and to value otherwise weak and unpersuasive
apologetic responses. At every turn, Christensen's use of Kuhn is
designed to close the apologists' paradigm to evidence that would
count against it. For instance, to devalue Deanne Matheny's critique
of John Sorenson's limited geography model,14 Christensen argues that
"Matheny and Sorenson do not operate in the same paradigm. Their
understandings of what constitutes a problem and what constitutes a
solution are different."15
While both Matheny and Sorenson should be operating in a scientific
paradigm, Christensen believes Kuhn's thesis gives Mormon scholars
permission to corrupt the scientific method with religious values.16
This allows Christensen and Sorenson to arbitrarily assign greater
significance to positive rather than negative evidence or to explain
negatives away through ad hoc rationalizations. At the same time,
Christensen criticizes Matheny because she "discusses only problems
[and offers] no solutions." He also quotes Sorenson's complaint that
in Mathenys "dominant concern with 'problems'" she neglects "the
sizable body of cultural information in the Book of Mormon which
patently agrees with Mesoamerican culture."17
In this view, it is more important to emphasize what the Book of
Mormon gets right than what it gets wrong. For example, the Book of
Mormon correctly predicts the existence of cement in Mesoamerica but
is wrong about the existence of metallurgy and steel; correct about
domestication of animals but,wrong about the existence of the horse;
correct about advanced writing systems but wrong about the existence
of Hebrew and Egyptian; correct about domestication of plants but
wrong about a biological link to the Old World; correct about the high
state of civilization but wrong about the builders having come from
Another example of closing a paradigm to counter-evidence appears in
Christensen's endorsement of Mormon Mesoamericanist Brant Gardner's
methodology of "looking for Mesoamerica in the Book of Mormon" instead
of "looking for the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica."19 This procedure
has apologetic advantages because if one looks only for similarities
in the text, instead of comparing the text as a whole against what is
known about Mesoamerica, historical anachronisms become invisible to
researchers and falsifiability becomes impossible. While Gardner's
approach might lead to new ways of looking at the Book of Mormon, it
cannot compensate for the fact that the Book of Mormon has made no
significant contributions to our understanding of Mesoamerican
If questions about historical and literary anachronisms can't be
asked, how can the apologists' theories be tested? If anachronisms and
lack of evidence are not considered counter-evidence, what is? Isn't
there a point at which resistance becomes unreasonable and irrational?
While certain types of evidence are easier to resist than others, it
is not at all inconceivable that hard evidence, such as a stele with
several Book of Mormon names in a meaningful context, could create a
climate in which resistance to Book of Mormon historicity would become
increasingly irrational.
What is true about paradigm verification should also apply to
falsification. Granted that a paradigm cannot be falsified in absolute
terms because, in philosopher of science Ian Barbour's words, "any
particular hypothesis can be maintained by rejecting or adjusting
other auxiliary hypotheses."20 Still, there is a point at which
resistance becomes irrational and excuses wear thin. On this matter,
philosophers Theodore Schick, Jr., and Lewis Vaughn have observed:
Although no amount of evidence logically compels us to reject a
hypothesis, maintaining a hypothesis in the face of adverse evidence
can be manifestly unreasonable. So even if we cannot conclusively say
that a hypothesis is false, we can often conclusively say that it's
Even Barbour, who does not summarily dismiss the legitimacy of
religious paradigms, acknowledges that "an accumulation of anomalies,
or of ad hoc modifications having no independent experimental or
theoretical basis, cannot be tolerated indefinitely."22
Given the difficulties of proving a negative, critics will never be
able to prove the Nephites did not exist. What critics can do is
demonstrate that the assertion is unsupported, perhaps even
unreasonable and unscientific.
At several points in the foregoing, mention has been made of the term
"ad hoc," as in "ad hoc rationalizations" and "ad hoc modifications."
What characterizes something as an ad hoc hypothesis? According to
Schick and Vaughn, it "is that it can't be verified independently of
the phenomenon it's supposed to explain."23 In other words, it is
untestable and unfalsifiable. Additionally, beyond protecting a
central hypothesis from negative evidence, an ad hoc hypothesis "has
no other explanatory power, that is, no other testable
consequences,"24 or as Barbour said, "no independent experimental or
theoretical basis."25 A closer look at recent hypotheses employed by
Book of Mormon apologists will show that they are not simple
adjustments to theories to account for new data, but are in fact ad
hoc rationalizations to explain counter-evidence and anomalies.
Limited Geography. In his article, "On Wagging the Dog," in the May
2004 issue of SUNSTONE, Kevin Christensen states that his "preference
for the Sorenson model [of a limited geography] simply says that I
appreciate the problems that it solves, and I expect that further
solutions and refinements will be forthcoming."26 This statement is
based on Kuhn's argument that "a theory must seem better than its
competitors, but it need not, and in fact, it never does, explain all
the facts with which it may be confronted."27 But things are not as
simple as Christensen makes them sound.
That a limited geography model seems to solve distance problems the
Book of Mormon presents when viewed in traditional hemispheric terms
is no justification for ignoring the model's serious flaws, namely,
its uncomfortable fit with various Book of Mormon passages.28 But no
matter how long one waits, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec will never fit
the Book of Mormon's description of a "small neck of land."29
Christensen sidesteps problems such as this by simply asserting: "No
single element of a detailed correlation is more fundamental than the
overall conception that a correlation can be found."30 But an anomaly
is an anomaly, and as Barbour said, "an accumulation of anomalies
cannot be ignored indefinitely."31
Whether or not Christensen sees Sorenson's notion of limited
geography as a Kuhnian "paradigm shift," it is doubtful that Kuhn
would agree. Sorenson is attempting to replace a paradigm that makes
fewer assumptions with one that requires more. Traditional hemispheric
geography fits comfortably with the Book of Mormon account with only
one flaw - it's not realistic. On the other hand, the limited
geography is deemed more realistic but requires specialized and
tortuous interpretations to maintain. Chief among the untestable
hypotheses is Sorenson's attempt to tilt the Mesoamerican map by "45
degrees or more" to the west, so that Nephite north corresponds to
present northwest. Otherwise the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean are
north and south, instead of east and west as required by the Book of
Mormon (e.g., Alma 22:32; 50:34). Such explanations have no
explanatory power or testable consequences apart from making
Sorenson's model work .32
In this sense, the limited geography is not a new paradigm but is an
ad hoc hypothesis that apologists invented to maintain for a while
longer the old and crumbling paradigm of Book of Mormon historicity
For this reason, Kuhn would probably categorize both Christensen and
Sorenson with the "hold-outs" who resist paradigm shift. Indeed,
Kuhn's description of those "holdouts" seems especially applicable to
the new geographers: "The source of resistance is the assurance that
the older paradigm will ultimately solve all its problems, that nature
can be shoved into the box the paradigm provides."33
DNA Evidence. Apologetic responses to recent DNA evidence are also ad
hoc rationalizations. For example, Michael Whiting, director of
Brigham Young University's DNA Sequencing Center, admits that a "local
colonization hypothesis," one in which Lehi's colony plays a minor and
insignificant role in Mesoamerican history, "makes no specific
predictions that can be refuted or corroborated."34 Not only does such
an explanation have no explanatory power or testable consequences
apart from salvaging a belief in Book of Mormon historicity, but it
begs the question since it assumes what it attempts to prove, namely,
that the Nephites occupied a small geographic region and played a
minor role in Mesoamerican history. But, as Brent Metcalfe has
discussed, without clear reference in the Book of Mormon to what would
amount to a dominant non-Israelite population in Mesoamerica,
apologists strain to escape conflicting passages and try to find
support for this local colonization hypothesis in vaguely worded
passages.35 The minor subcultural role apologists wish to assign to
the Nephites is exactly the opposite of what is described in the Book
of Mormon.
Is it wise for Mormons to put all their spiritual eggs into the
historicity basket? If anomalies such as travel distances and
population sizes have caused apologists to change to positions their
predecessors never imagined, could it happen again? If apologists find
anomalies too difficult to overcome and discover themselves in a
paradigmatic crisis, is the only alternative to abandon faith? I think
not. As Barbour points out:
Tradition is dynamic and developing, not an unchanging legacy from the
past. Like a living organism, it is historically continuous and yet
always growing. A community can understand its exemplars and its
historic origins in new ways and can adapt to new circumstances and
new problems.36
Hence, I must ask: Is a "Book of Mormon as inspired fiction" paradigm
out of the question?
To some apologists, Joseph Smith cannot be a true prophet if the Book
of Mormon is not real history, for God and prophets do not engage in
deception. Hamblin emphatically states:
The issue is: if the Book of Mormon is fiction, then Joseph Smith
could not be a true prophet, a point tacitly accepted by most of those
who reject historicity, since all of their accounts include serious
equivocation or redefinition of the key concepts revelation,
inspiration, and prophet.37
I do not accept Hamblin's either/or dichotomy. Although it presently
fuels disagreement over Book of Mormon historicity, Hamblin's
dichotomy is false because there is a third and viable alternative:
the Book of Mormon as inspired fiction. Ultimately, Hamblin's argument
rests on a question-begging definition of "prophet."
Scholars cannot answer questions such as: "Was Joseph Smith a true
prophet?" and "Is the Book of Mormon inspired?" The truth claims of a
religion are beyond the scope of scholarship, but the historical
status of the Book of Mormon is another matter. Historians are free to
conclude the Book of Mormon is not historical and, consequently, to
revise Joseph Smith's biography Despite Hamblin's insistence on
ontological or metaphysical definitions, a more fruitful and relevant
line of questioning for scholars would be: What was Joseph Smith's
definition of prophet? Did he believe God sometimes inspires
deception? What was his definition of inspiration? And finally, is a
non-historical Book of Mormon consistent with Joseph Smith's
definition of prophet and inspiration? I believe the answer to this
last question is yes.38
When Moroni exhorts readers to "ask God... if these things are not
true" and promises that "he will manifest the truth of it unto you"
(Moroni 10:4), the text points to a specific kind of truth.
Previously, Moroni represented God as saying: "Because of my Spirit he
shall know that these things are true: for it persuadeth men to do
good. And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for
good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men
to all good (Ether 4:11-12). Similarly, Mormon said: "I show unto you
the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to
persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of
Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God"
(Moroni 7:16). In other words, since all good comes from God, and the
Book of Mormon tries to persuade humankind to be righteous and believe
in Christ, it is consistent with this line of reasoning that the Book
of Mormon is true and inspired independent of whether, in the final
analysis, it is considered historical.
This concept of inspiration ties in well with Joseph Smith's
self-perception as a prophet. In a letter published in the Elders'
Journal in July 1838, Joseph Smith responded to the question: "Do you
believe Joseph Smith, Jr., to be a prophet?" His answer was: "Yes, and
every other man who has the testimony of Jesus. 'For the testimony of
Jesus is the spirit of prophecy' Rev. 19:10."39 This definition also
appears in Alma: "And Alma went and began to declare the word of God
unto the church... according to the spirit of prophecy which was in
him, according to the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who
should come to redeem his people from their sins..." (Alma 6:8). And
on the Book of Mormon title page: "Written by way of commandment, and
also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation."
To return to Hamblin's definition, I hypothesize that Joseph Smith
sincerely believed himself to be an inspired prophet - but not in the
way that he encouraged his followers to believe. Why is it impossible
to believe that a prophet would engage in deception? It's certainly
not without biblical precedent: Abraham and Isaac both lied about the
marital status of their wives (Genesis 12:11-13; 20:13; 26:7); Abraham
lied to Isaac about the true object of the sacrifice they were
preparing (Genesis 22:7-8); Jacob deceived Isaac to obtain the
firstborn's blessing owed to Esau (Genesis 27); Moses lied to Pharaoh
(Exodus 3:18); one prophet lied to another (1 Kings 13); and Jehu
pretended to worship Baal (2 Kings 10).
Unlike Hamblin, Christensen calls the inspired fiction model (which
he labels the "mythic approach")40 to Book of Mormon historicity
"valid," but regards it as "suicidal" for the "faith community" and
predicts that its adoption would cause the community of believers to
"fall apart." Similar predictions were once given by the orthodox who
felt threatened by Galileo and Copernicus - and by fundamentalists
today who fear Darwinism. I believe Christensen underestimates the
resiliency of faith and the hazards of becoming an anachronism to
future generations of Mormons who will no doubt tire of holding to the
untenable scientific and historical positions of their ancestors.


1See William J. Hamblin, "'There Really Is a God, and He Dwells in the
Temporal Parietal Lobe of Joseph Smith's Brain,"' Dialogue: A journal
of Mormon Thought 36, no. I (Winter 2003): 81.

2Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 3rd ed.
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).

3Ibid., 157-58.=20

4Ibid., 175.=20

5Steven Weinberg, Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural Adversaries
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 198-99, 204-05.

6Ian G. Barbour, Myths, Models, and Paradigms: A Comparative Study in
Science and Religion (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), 107; Larry
Landau, Beyond Positivism and Relativism: Theory, Method, and Evidence
(Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1996), 22.

7Weinberg, 193.=20

8Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern
Intellectuals' Abuse of Science (New York: Picador USA, 1998), 75,
summarizing the observations of Tim Maudlin, "Kuhn Defanged:
Incommensurability and Theory-Choice," translated byJean-Pierre
Deschepper and Michel Ghins in Revue Philosophique de Louvain 94
(1966): 428-46.

9For examples, see Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The
Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: Touchstone, 1996), esp.
28, 97, 215; William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design: The Bridge
between Science and Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press,
1999), esp. 119, 216.

10See Michael Shermer, Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience,
and Other Confusions of Our Time, 2nd ed. (New York: Henry Holt,
2002), 311-12.

11Kuhn, 186. =20

12The following is a sample of essays in which Kevin Christensen draws
on Kuhn for apologetic purposes: Review of Dan Vogel, Indian Origins
and the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986), in
FARMS Review 2, no. 1 (1990): 214-57; "Paradigms Crossed," FARMS
Review 7, no. 2 (1995): 144-218; "Paradigms Regained: A Survey of
Margaret Barker's Scholarship and Its Significance for Mormon
Studies," FARMS Occasional Papers 2 (2001); Kevin Christensen, "Truth
and Method: Reflections on Dan Vogel's Approach to the Book of
Mormon," FARMS Review 16, no. 1 (2004): 287-354.

13Christensen, "Truth and Method," 298.=20

14See Deanne G. Matheny, "Does the Shoe Fit? A Critique of the Limited
Tehuantepec Geography," in New Approaches to the Book of Mormon:
Explorations in Critical Methodology, ed. Brent D. Metcalfe (Salt Lake
City: Signature Books, 1993), 269-328; and John L. Sorenson, An
Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City:
Deseret Book; Provo: FARMS, 1985).

15Christensen, "Paradigms Crossed," 172.=20

16Responding to my criticism that his amalgam of faith and science
goes beyond Kuhn's intentions, Christensen argued that philosopher of
science Ian G. Barbour "supplies the theoretical justification that I
use to apply Kuhn's model to religion" (Christensen, "Paradigms
Crossed," 294; Barbour, Myths, Models, and Paradigms). However,
Barbour did not advocate a mixing of science and religion but was
comparing similar features of different paradigms. Indeed, he was
clear about keeping science and religion separate: "There can be
complementary models within a paradigm, but paradigms are evidently
not complementary; a person can fully share the outlook of only one
tradition at a time" (147). And he insisted that the notion of
complementarity "cannot be used to avoid dealing with inconsistencies"
(77). This means that when examining Book of Mormon historicity, one
cannot resort or retreat to a religious paradigm to escape
counter-evidence. I would therefore argue that Christensen needs to
keep his paradigms separate, because when he attempts to discuss Book
of Mormon historicity, he has tacitly agreed to work within a
scientific and scholarly paradigm.

17Christensen, "Paradigms Crossed," 172.=20

18Sorenson more or less concedes these points when, in his response to
Matheny, he argues that despite the lack of evidence for metallurgy in
Mesoamerica before about 900 CE, there is no absolute guarantee that
scholars are correct on this matter, and he questions what is meant by
"steel." See John Sorenson, "Viva Zapato! Hurray for the Shoe!" FARMS
Review 6, no. 1 (1994): 319-28. In another instance, Sorenson argues
that "Joseph Smith may not have translated every term `correctly,""
and tries to replace "horse" with "deer" (Ibid., 344-48). In yet
another, he argues that it is false to assume that the seeds brought
by the Jaredites and Lehites "flourished" in the new environment,
questions the meaning of "wheat" and "barley," and tries to substitute
"amaranth" and "corn" (Ibid., 335-42). In another instance, Sorenson
suggests that a link has not been made between Mesoamerican writing
systems and Hebrew and Egyptian, because "nobody has made a serious
attempt to demonstrate any link" (Ibid., 358). Elsewhere, Sorenson
concedes that the major civilizations of Central America are of
Asiatic origin predating the arrival of the Lehites, and speculates
that the Book of Mormon is not a national history but rather an
account of a specific "lineage" that lived among Asiatic populations
(Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting, 50-56).

19Kevin Christensen, "On Wagging the Dog," SUNSTONE, May 2004, 9; also
Christensen, "Truth and Method," 309.

20Barbour, 99.=20

21Theodore Schick, Jr., and Lewis Vaughn, How to Think about Weird
Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age (Mountain View, CA: Mayfield
Publishing, 1999), 156-57.

22Barbour, 114.=20

23Schick and Vaughn, 157.=20

24Irving M. Copi, Introduction to Logic (New York: MacMillan, 1972), 453.=

25Barbour, 114.=20

26Christensen, "On Wagging the Dog," 9.=20

27Kuhn, 17-18.=20

28See, for instance, Earl M. Wunderli, "Critique of a Limited
Geography for Book of Mormon Events," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon
Thought 35 (Fall 2002): 161-97. Brant Gardner's response to Wunderli's
critique, in my opinion, is simply more of the same convoluted and
question-begging interpretations. See Brant Gardner, "An Exploration
in Critical Methodology: Critiquing a Critique," FARMS Review 16, no.
2 (2004): 173-223.

29See Dan Vogel and Brent Lee Metcalfe, eds., American Apocrypha:
Essays on the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002),

30Christensen, "Truth and Method," 317.=20

31Barbour, 9.=20

32On orientation, see Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting, 39-42.
Sorenson admits his limited geography model is only "plausible" and
that it can't be "scientifically tested" (xviii-xx).

33Kuhn, 152, 159.=20

34Michael Whiting, "DNA and the Book of Mormon: A Phylogenetic
Perspective," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12, no. 1 (2003): 31.
Nevertheless, this does not stop him from postulating the loss of
Israelite DNA through the "founder effect," which according to
molecular geneticist Rich Deem "would require the simultaneous
mutation of at least 5 polymorphic Alu insertions in Lehi's sons and
wives." Deem contends this theory is not only untestable, it's
"scientifically ludicrous." Deem's statements are found in Thomas W
Murphy, "Simply Implausible: DNA and a Mesoamerican Setting for the
Book of Mormon," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 36 (Winter
2003): 120n41.

35Brent Lee Metcalfe, "Reinventing Lamanite Identity," SUNSTONE, March
2004, 20-25. John Tvedtnes attempts a partial response to Metcalfe
but, in my opinion, resorts to more convoluted and strained
interpretation. See John A. Tvedtnes, "Reinventing the Book of
Mormon," FARMS Review 16, no. 2 (2004): 91-106.

36Barbour, 149.=20

37Hamblin, 81.=20

38I have explored these questions in The Prophet Puzzle' Revisited,"
Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 31 (Fall 1998): 125-40,
reprinted in The Prophet Puzzle, ed. Bryan Waterman (Salt Lake City:
Signature Books, 1999), 49-67; and in Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The
Making of a Prophet (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2004).

39Elders' Journal 1 (July 1838): 43; cf. Joseph Smith, Jr., History of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 7
vols., 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1948), 3:28; see also

40Christensen, "On Wagging the Dog," 9.

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