Any scholar who is worth anything will tell you they don’t know if the Book of Abraham is legitimate, because the Abraham context of the facsimiles are different than the Egyptian context. Joseph Smith made that clear, and the scroll that he used for the Book of Abraham translation perished in a fire. So it would not be very scholarly to make those assumptions and call it a fraud based on the Egyptian translation.
CES Letter quotes three academics, who each happen to be noted white supremacists:
- Flinders Petrie – Born in 1853, England. Son of a minister for the Plymouth Brethren sect.
Was a White Supremacist who helped found Eugenics, which led to the Holocaust in World War 2. He proposed that “eugenics will, in some future civilization, carefully segregate fine races, and prohibit continual mixture.”
- Archibald Sayce – Born 1845, England. An ordained reverend for the Church of England.
Was a White Supremacist who belived “Negroes of Africa” were “midway between Europeans and apes.”
- James Breasted – Born in 1865, Germany.
Was a White supremacist. He called native Europeans a threat to advanced civilization:
“The people of the Great Northwest Quadrant, as far back as we know anything about prehistoric men, have all been members of the white race… and the ancestors of the population now living there were the creators of the civilization we have inherited… The Mediterranean was now the home of Greek civilization in the East and of Roman civilization in the west, but the failure of the Roman Senate to organize a successful government for the empire they had conquered… brought the whole world of the Mediterranean civilization perilously near destruction… The great problem for future humanity was whether the Roman emperors would be able to hold off the barbarians long enough so that in course of time these rude northerners might gain enough of Mediterranean civilization to respect it and preserve at least some of it for mankind in the future… but the church, taking its place, made possible the transference of power from the Roman Empire to the barbarians in the West, without the complete destruction of our heritage of civilization bequeathed us by Greece and Rome… while Mediterranean civilization steadily declined, it nevertheless slowly spread northward, especially under the influence of the Church, till it transformed the ruder life of the north.”
Did Breasted consider the Mormon church just another threat to the Church? Or maybe he hated the Mormon church for opposing slavery, I don’t know?
So CES Letter gets its information from White Supremacist racists? One of them who worked with the founder of Eugenics?
Most academics who bash the Book of Abraham lived way back in the 1800’s when little was known about Egyptology. Each of these academics lived in the 1800’s, almost 200 years ago. What did they know? Besides about comparing people by race I mean? Not only should they be rejected for their hateful beliefs, their statements about the Book of Abraham make them look like a bunch of ignorance blowhards:
“It is difficult to deal seriously with Joseph Smith’s impudent fraud.”
“It may be safely said that there is not one single word that is true in these explanations…”
“…he was totally unacquainted with the significance of these documents and absolutely ignorant of the simplest facts of Egyptian writing and civilization”
They also each have religious reasons to attack Joseph Smith. Archibald Sayce was a reverend who went by the name Rev. A.H.Sayce. For some reason, CES Letter covers this up by changing his name to Dr. A.H. Sayce. Flinders Petrie was the son of a minister who studied archaeology because of his father’s sermons about the pyramids. As for James Breasted, we can see that he considered the Catholic Church the bedrock of Western civilization which he was determined to preserve.
Scholars Today – Today, scholars are more careful to avoid sounding foolish. The ones that do sound foolish likewise have an obvious religious bias.
Robert Ritner of the University of Chicago (same college as James Breasted) recently wrote an attack piece on the Book of Abraham, filled with all kinds of fallacies and falsehoods. It sounds like it was written by a self-assured high school student, really, who read about the Book of Abraham on Wikipedia and thought he knew everything about everything. He also references James Breasted who we have seen was a White Supremacist. I don’t know what Robert Ritner’s bias is or what religion he belongs to, but he approaches the subject with a very poor understanding of the subject.
It would be nice if an intelligent, knowledgeable non-LDS Egyptologist would study the Book of Abraham. But they probably don’t because it would take a lot of time. Dr. Hugh Nibley has written thousands of pages on the subject and obviously spent many years studying it. Why would a non-Mormon be that interested in studying it? Also, because of the separation of the Abraham context with the Egyptian meaning, and because there is so much that simply hasn’t been discovered in archaeology, the most knowledgeable person in the world couldn’t really say conclusively whether Joseph Smith was right or not, based on physical evidence.
CES Letter Logical Fallacies
CES Letter calls the 1800’s-era academics “respected Egyptian scholars/Egyptologists.” Either they are Egyptian scholars (as in, an Egyptian who is a scholar) or an Egyptologist. You can’t be both.
CES Letter says they “are” respected scholars rather than they “were” respected scholars. This implies that they are still living, which is false.
I think what CES Letter meant to say is that they
CES Letter says the Book of Abraham issue “offers a real insight into Joseph’s modus operandi.” They use this term “modus operandi” three times, every time they want to call Joseph Smith a liar. The term “Joseph Smith’s modus operandi” was invented by anti-Mormon Richard P. Howard of the RLDS splinter-sect who said the rediscovered papyrus fragment “discloses the modus operandi of Joseph Smith in determining its context,” but he never tells us what that process was. Neither does CES Letter. They simply use the term as a euphemism for saying he lied.
CES Letter compared the Book of Abraham to “Modern Archaeology” in multiple arguments. But now suddenly they ignore modern Egyptology and archaeology, and instead quote three people from the 1800’s.
Later, CES Letter attacks the LDS church for temporarily excluding people of African descent from priesthood positions. But here they are quoting White Supremacists to attack the church?
|Appeal To Authority||These guys at first sound like they could indeed be “respected Egyptian scholars,” but I don’t see anything in their statements to demonstrate why the Book of Abraham would be false. Where is their evidence? There is also a mountain of information that they didn’t know about in those olden days.|
|Appeal To Ridicule||CES Letter says the Book of Abraham issue “both fascinated and disturbed” them.|
This is a pretty sad attempt by CES Letter. They dig up three quotes from the 1800’s by racial supremacists to convince us that ‘science’ contradicts the Book of Abraham? This shows just how sad and shallow their arguments really are.
That is what’s going on here. People are understandably wary of crazy history blogs that claim the earth is flat or aliens created humans. They use sophistry and fringe claims that only university professors are qualified to talk about, those who have studied it for decades. So it is really useless to try to talk about this.
The great thing is we don’t need to! The fact is, the recovered papyri are not the basis for the Book of Abraham! This entire argument is built on a false strawman portrayal of what Mormons believe. It is an effective argument because people naturally trust scientific buzzwords over a fringe book of scripture from some ancient prophet.
Just raising the question gives it some tiny amount of credibility. As is often the case with innuendo, this argument successfully uses the kafkatrapping tactic. They begin with the frame that the Book of Abraham’s relationship with the bible deserves to be called into question, and we buy into it. As one of the strongest physical evidences for the Mormon Church’s authenticity, this allows CES Letter to go on and use physical evidence as a wedge to attack the church. This leads to an obsession with truth that you can only see, and a superstitious outlook.
Fake Science – Satan wants people to pridefully think they know all about science, but really they know very little. The Satanic appeal to science is useful for anti-Mormons if it can propagate fake science that leads people astray. That’s why you have top “respected” scientists giving us “proof” for why God doesn’t exist. Followers of Satan accept this fake science without the slightest critical thought or understanding of nature’s laws. It is willful ignorance.
Do You Want Evidence Or Relics? – Why does there need to be smoking-gun evidence? We are not a church that deals with relics, like pieces of Noah’s ark or the cup of Jesus Christ. CES Letter sets the narrative that we need to have some kind of physical objects, like the Catholic crusaders who scoured the Holy Land for objects from the bible. Well, the Mormon church does not do this, because any archaeological finding could be called a fraud, or dismissed as a coincidence, and real faith is not built on this kind of physical pursuit.
Superstition is spiritual belief built on a physical premise. Why is there lightning in the sky? Must be a manifestation of the gods! I think a better path toward truth is physical conclusions based on physical evidence and spiritual conclusions based on spiritual evidence.
|Does CES Letter believe in human evolution? Well, plenty of bones have been found to support this scientific model but there is no smoking gun; there are missing pieces of the puzzle, and it has not been reproduced in a laboratory or demonstrated in real life. It is still just a scientific model for what could have happened. The same goes for Book of Mormon archaeology. So many physical pieces of the puzzle have been found, but there are always going to be missing pieces, because we are talking about an ancient civilization that got wiped out. Anti-Mormons can always fall back on the missing puzzle pieces and claim “no archaeological evidence exists.”|
The church has been upfront since the beginning. Back when the papyrus fragment was first discovered, Dr. Hugh Nibley, wrote a monumental explanation, ‘Joseph Smith Papyri,’ at the behest of the church, and it pretty well explains everything. But CES Letter doesn’t bother looking at it.
Satan tempts followers of Christ by telling them that God hasn’t answered their questions. This places the burden on “church authorities” to answer every little question in life instead of you finding out answers for yourself. CES Letter‘s logic reflect the simplistic idealism that we see in the Plan of Satan. This idealistic standard for “correctness” makes people bitter that God allows tragedies to happen in their lives. It makes them skeptical of any opinion that doesn’t fit their narrow preconceived view of perfection. It thus sets a narrative that destroys Mormons’ testimonies and promotes Satan’s agenda.
God As A Dictator – Followers of Satan want everything spelled out for them. Do this. Say this. Don’t even bother thinking critically or making judgement calls for yourself. This is the heart of CES Letter‘s strawman argument that scripture should be a perfect, crystallized model of truth for every word we say and movement we make. They are authoritarian personalities who want a dictator.
Then again, Satanists don’t actually have a rigid model for truth. They only have their ideology, and they follow an ever-changing narrative to suit whatever helps the Satanic ideology in that moment. So, if you can’t trust ancient scripture to be infallible truth, who can you trust? Science! Science will tell you all you need to know. Science is great for Satanist because conclusions are always changing, always updating, and are easily manipulated. The frequent shifts in science can be exploited to push Satan’s ideology, which is an ideology of universal salvation and no personal responsibility.