Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, August 11

grego’s Critique of FAIR’s Critique of Mr. Meldrum, Part 2

Filed under: Book of Mormon — grego @ 12:28 am
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grego’s Critique of FAIR’s Critique of Mr. Meldrum, Part 2
by grego
(c) 2009

Well, there’s a whole mess being made, and I don’t really understand it. A man believes in a Book of Mormon geography, and FAIR is up in arms about it. I’m not even really sure what the problems are, but I think it would be wise for FAIR to step back and b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Following are a few excerpts, gleaned from different areas.

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From :
“To be clear, FAIR advocates no particular theory of Book of Mormon geography. Some of our members subscribe to one or the other, but refrain from imposing their opinions on Latter-day Saints as matters of testimony.”

grego: Hmmm… Ok, FAIR, on the boards and articles I have yet to hear of anyone who doesn’t go for the LGT—not that there might not be any. But it’s pretty well known to all that LGT theory rules at FAIR. And I’ve heard many, probably most, imposing their opinions about this topic on others (along with “Others in the land”), though to their credit, as far as I can remember, not as “matters of testimony”. How many articles/ papers/ books by FAIR support the LGT, compared to other theories?

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From http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/MisguidedF.html I read:
“It is apparent that Mr. Meldrum, rather than approach FARMS directly with his research, decided–after much prayer–to leave FARMS alone. It would be troubling enough that a researcher would choose to sequester himself from what has historically been an important center of LDS scholarship, but that is not the only troubling thing about Mr. Meldrum’s solution.”

grego: This is somewhat interesting. FAIR and FARMS have continually mentioned that they are loose organizations of individuals, and in essence, there is no real way to “approach… directly”. So why that comment, I don’t know.

I don’t see Meldrum sequestering himself, and Meldrum hasn’t said it that way. Especially if he felt that way after prayer, goodness.

I, however, do have many experiences with “[approaching] FARMS (and FAIR) with [my] research” in more than one way, and I can tell you that you might just as well sequester yourself for all the good that would do! Wait, that’s not completely true… One FARMS member (if it really was him) complained once about one of three critical critiques of his work. Wow.

I imagine if FARMS or FAIR have issues, they can “unsequester” themselves from other scholarship—such as what FAIR has done with these anti-Mr. Meldrum articles. (This does not imply that I agree with Mr. Meldrum.)

There is, of course, another approach: sequester the person themself from FAIR, FARMS, etc. Fitting right in, such is the approach that FAIR (whoops, it’s now www.mormonapologetics.org, not FAIR) took with me when they restricted my access to the apologetics discussion board—a long time after my last post. I’m still trying to view this as irony or hypocrisy…

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Continuing from the FAIR article:
Mr. Meldrum avoids scholarly dialogue by claiming that his ideas are approved by God. He claims that God has told him not to try to “convert FARMS.” Yet, this is exactly what we must do if we have a new idea–we must try to persuade other people, by the evidence, that it is plausible. His revelations, while appropriate for personal evidence, should not be used as evidence for anyone else.

Dr. Nibley points out that this is a key part of examining secular ideas:
A professor is not one who knows, but one who professes to know, and [thus] is constantly in the position of inviting challenge.
He professes publicly where everyone is invited to come and challenge, [and] at any time he must be willing and able to defend it openly against all comers… A scholar [cannot] hide behind in safe immunity from any challenge.40

Mr. Meldrum should, therefore, present his ideas in a forum in which other knowledgeable people can examine them. They could help him by pointing out areas in which his argument is weak.

grego: Yeah, I know exactly how well that works out in reality…

How many scholars “present their ideas in a forum”? How often have any of the FAIR or FARMS scholars done that? I might be missing something, but I haven’t seen many do that on the few boards I’ve seen. By the time they get on boards to discuss something, the time for “presenting” is over…

Anyway, after reading those paragraphs by FAIR, I am very happy to have this blog where I am free to present ideas, point out areas in others’ arguments that I feel are weak, allow others the opportunity to respond (interesting… I unannouncedly get kicked off the forum, yet no one from FAIR has tried to help me by “pointing out areas in which [my] argument is weak”—what’s up with that, is this just lip-service or more?), and not have to worry about whether I’ll get kicked off/ restricted or not because I touched sacred cows (be they topics or people) politically-incorrectly.

Ok, I had said I wasn’t sure if it’s irony or hypocrisy; I think it’s clearer now…
It’s even greater when one remembers the special protective treatment given to certain personages (I’d say scholars, but after Nibley’s comments, “scholars” doesn’t seem to fit) on the discussion board (even when it was a part of FAIR or otherwise).

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Continuing:
Does this mean that one must be an expert, “a scholar,” or have university degrees to “prove all things and hold fast to that which is good?” Of course not. They can be helpful as they help one become knowledgeable with the body of work in a certain discipline and help one gain a certain amount of rigor in one’s research, but anyone with sufficient interest, ability, humility, and grounding is not only able but encouraged to contribute. As Dr. Nibley noted, “What on earth have a man’s name, degree, academic position, and, of all things, opinions, to do with whether a thing is true or not?”41 All that matters is the evidence.

grego: This seems like a really nice place to ask: FAIR, why the heck do you repeatedly use “Mr.” before Meldrum, instead of “Rodney” (his given name) or “Bro.” or just “Meldrum”? Obviously it’s not for formality or for respect; is it to remind people that he is not a “Dr.”? You know, as in this sentence: “However, in an August 2007 conversation with Dr. (!) Louis Midgley Mr. (!) Meldrum disclosed that”…? What’s up?

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From http://www.fairlds.org/DNA_Evidence_for_Book_of_Mormon_Geography/DEBMG03F.html:
Meldrum first makes much of the fact that he is being fair and balanced by presenting both sides of the story. This is like the magician who first assures us that “there’s nothing up my sleeve”:
But there is some confusion because there have been several things attributed to Joseph Smith that he believed that it [the Book of Mormon geography] was in Central America.
Now, I bring this up because I’ve had several people say, “Well, Brother Meldrum, you’re only showing one side of the story and that’s not good research.” I had already done the research, so I already knew the answer, but I left it out originally because it’s a little on the negative side and so forth. But people do have a lot of questions about this and so I decided to go ahead and put it back in.51
This portion of the presentation seems to downplay the importance of what can be seen as disconfirming evidence—he’s only added it to his presentation because people have asked about it, and even implies that bringing it up might be slightly unworthy: “it’s a little on the negative side.” He has thus set the stage and prepared his audience—faithful Latter-day Saints who do not like contention or negativity—to brush the matter off quickly. And, he’s conditioned us to think that this is “no big deal”—he’s only bringing it up because of nitpickers.

grego: Compare that with the introductions FAIR gives as to why they are responding to Meldrum, and you have a very good match-up. Irony, or hypocrisy?

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From Rodney’s blog:
As you know, Rod, as a courtesy to you as a LDS FAIR agreed to enter into a contract with you. The contract provided that FAIR would lock its blog on your material, provide you with its work to date, and withhold publication until September–a date selected at your request. You’re part of the contract was to read the FAIR material, and before FAIR’s publication date you would tell FAIR what you believed FAIR had wrong, and why. FAIR would review that, and make any appropriate changes.

grego: Well, dang! He finally found a way to make FAIR respond, I guess. Kudos! I’ve been trying that for years, with no success… (I guess I just needed to start selling $16 DVD’s that cut into FAIR’s profits or something?)

There’s much more, but it’s pretty much the same: a bunch of emotional responses from FAIR usually lacking in substance; and some pretty grounded replies. Without touching the topic much, Rodney is surely ahead in my book. I’m still not sure exactly what the strong arguments against him are, though maybe sometime I’ll find out. It seems, though, that whatever they throw at him, gets thrown back better, including some of the premises and principles in the arguments. Ok, I’ll put it more clearly: the more I read the exchange, the more Meldrum is mopping the floor with FAIR and especially Robert White. NOT what I had expected… at least from the whole group. FAIR et. al.: really, step back, take a break, and b-r-e-a-t-h-e. It seems like you’re trying to tie your shoelaces and run at the same time, and the result is a lot of loose bows, knots, and falling over. And it’s unfortunate, because if only the strong arguments were paid attention to, it would be clear that Meldrum has some very large problems in his theory.

I suggest that if FAIR wants to win, they cut their resopnses down to about 1/3 of what they are now, with the strongest points first, and cut out much of the talk about Meldrum himself.

Still, in conclusion, I don’t know why so many problems with the LGT (such as the narrow neck of land, journey of 1.5 days) are glossed over/ forgotten/ gaggingly explained, yet a problem or two in another theory is blown up into proof of its impossibleness. FAIR? Anyone?

P.S. Hoping to learn more, I googled the term/ phrase “naked lady gambit”, but it can be found only twice—both times, at FAIR. Duplicates, at that.

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