Thanks for the feedback Symmachus. Unlike Sic et Non
where contrary views are "tolerated", I welcome critique of my ideas and appreciate your feedback and also Physics Guy's. I think ultimately the odds are with you both, but I have to follow my inner light. I think your strongest point thus far (as far as my limited abilities can make of it) is that it's highly questionable where the 15th century thing can go from here. Is there enough material to keep the engines going? Of course, that's just the closest example to "going fiction" -- even if unintentionally -- that we currently have, and it could be something else entirely like:
Symmachus wrote:I would think a work of pseudepigrapha, produced by a small band of exiles from, say, Roman Palestine post 70 (so perhaps they were Christians) who happened to make it to Guatemala and made sense of that world and its inhabitants in terms of their own tradition would be slightly more digestible.
Who knows, maybe one of the Transhumanists will come up with some imaginative idea? The beating heart to my position is, of course, that the apologists are advancing arguments that make a fictional Book of Mormon increasingly possible. I think the rebuttal to that is that while it may seem that way, going fiction is too big of a break (as you say). Well, let's see how it goes.
I think you're right, Dr. Robbers, because I think the notion of the "big break," as you put it, has to be put into context. Symmachus agrees with me that the Mopologists' primary audience is other Mopologists, so who else is going to see or read about a fictional Book of Mormon? When we limit this strictly to that audience, then the question becomes: are the other Mopologists "convincible"? We know how much there is something of an internal power struggle within this coterie of people (and now I want to lump in other Mormon apologists, including the MI people: that, to me, is the basic social circle that these people operate within). So the hardcore Mopologists are feeling pressure from other, more liberal, more "Mormon Studies" academics, such as Grant Hardy and Thomas Wayment. Meanwhile, they Mopologists have a seemingly bottomless inferiority complex: they are so desperate for approval and affirmation--from anyone
, sadly, including the yokels and zealots who post in the Comments sections of their blogs, but really from the Brethren, from other LDS scholars who aren't too liberal, and especially from the secular academic establishment (particularly the more conservative elements of it--i.e., the parts that venerate the Ivy League, and Oxford, and that sort of thing). What I'm saying is that I believe there are complex political and motive-related waters that have to be navigated here.
Again, consider the audience, which, I freely admit, is complicated: Who are the Mopologists' principal readers? Who are the people they most want to speak to? At the end of the day, it's other people who are angry about criticism of the Church, and who want to see these "hot shots" marching in and lobbing bombs at Church critics. It's people who want bloodshed. Part of the way that the people at the top of the hierarchy shore up their status is by linking it to the academic social network I described above. The bloodthirsty numbskulls will go along with this because, hey, they participated in a conference at Yale! They have Ph.D.s! But we know how troublesome this has been for them anytime someone who actually works in academia has confronted them: it never turns out well. So they are always forced to walk this line between whatever their own malign beliefs happen to be, plus however they plan to try to keep their main "fanbase" interested, while also trying to not totally
alienate themselves from the mainstream academic establishment.
So, in a cultural context where evidence of a historical Book of Mormon is collapsing pretty much constantly, and even LDS scholars like Grant Hardy (who does not teach at BYU) are saying publicly and in Mopologetic venues that believing a fictional Book of Mormon is OK.... Yeah, they may go this route. Will they lose a few people along the way? Yeah, I imagine they will, but I see no reason why that should stop them. They don't really care one way or the other if they wind up driving people out of the Church (so long as those people are "losers"). I've said elsewhere that the key Mopologetic personnel are "bullies," and I think that's accurate: as a group, the fundamentally behave like a gang. So, one of them will go viciously after a critic and the rest of them will hoot and holler and pat one another on the back. Doubtless a lot of knee-slapping is involved. If you extend that metaphor about the gang to their application of Mormon doctrine and theology, I think it works. They'll be down for a fictional Book of Mormon if it allows them to stomp on and humiliate people they don't like (the "weaklings") and if it will reassert their status as "Alpha Wolves" who are supposedly protecting the "neighborhood." I can definitely see how they'd find something appealing in this notion.
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14