Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Problem with Joe Sampson's work on the KEP ("Written by the Finger of God"): You can't Translate Text magically from Symbols that Contain no Information by themselves

John Gee wrote:

As for Sampson's dubious assumption that "Joseph Smith with 'Urim and Thummim' looked at the Book of Breatings[sen-sen] and saw the Book of Abraham encoded there" (p. 70), one would have thought that the critics had demonstrated the impossibility of that idea long ago.

I don't like a lot of what Gee writes, but his writings are a mixed bag, like anything else.  In this paragraph, John Gee is right.  The critics DID demonstrate the impossibility of the idea that the Book of Abraham is encoded in the Sensen papyrus.  The Book of Abraham is not encoded in the Sensen papyrus.  This is why Kabbalah (what Joe Sampson is trying to do) doesn't work on the Sensen papyrus.  I will tell you what Kabbalah IS useful for but it is going to be difficult, and I'm going to do it step by step.  But what it is not useful for is decoding the Book of Abraham or the Book of Joseph from the Sensen papyrus or from the Book of the Dead.

Try to understand this.  This is why what I'm saying and what I'm doing is fundamentally different from Joe Sampson.

Joseph Smith recovered the ancient information in the minds of ancient people about the story of Abraham.  The Sensen Papyrus didn't contain this ancient information.  But symbols from the sensen papyrus were used to help keep track of this information.  It contained markers like in an outline, or like a numbering or alphabetic marker system that helped them keep track of some of the concepts.  What I mean by that is, we have verse and chapter numbers in our scriptures that help keep track of things so that we know how to look them up.  The scriptures are not encoded in verse and chapter numbers.  The verse and chapter numbers are not helpful to know the content of our scriptures.  Joe Sampson is trying to show magically how to extract the scriptures from verse and chapter numbers and letters.  That is a problem, because verse numbers and letters used to mark verses do not contain content.

With Egyptian numbering systems using their alphabet as a numbering or marking system for text, they would have a relationship between the markers/numbering letters and the text.  But the text is not contained in the markers.  Without a document that shows you the content and how they line up with the markers or numberings, you wouldn't know that that's what they were used for.  The Kirtland Egyptian Papers is a thing that shows how ancient markers or numberings were used for text, and why those markers were chosen to mark that part of the text.  The markers have no real relationship to the text other than they were used as markers.

So, if you say, to someone in the ancient way of quoting from the book of Abraham:  Show me the verse from the Book of Abraham, Chapter 1, verse Reed Symbol.  That's like saying show me Abraham chapter 1 verse 1.  Reed Symbol didn't contain the Book of Abraham.  Reed Symbol marked a verse like the number 1 for us marks verse 1.  It's nice that Land of the Chaldees (Kiengi) means "Land of Reeds."  But that is the association I'm talking about, between marker/numbering and verse.  That is not content.  That is just a clever association:

You can't extract text from a verse numbering system.

This is the problem with Joe Sampson.  He is trying to extract meaning from a verse numbering/marking system, symbols that contain no information to extract.  This is like some kind of Kircherian type of exercise he is trying to do.  I'm trying to show why symbols in the numbering system were chosen, and how there are associations between number/character and verse or paragraph, whatever you wnat to call it.  All I'm doing is to demonstrate that these associations were clever.  I'm not trying to show how the numbering system translates to the text.  It doesn't.  Do you see the difference between what I'm doing and what Joe Sampson was doing?

So, when I say that it is an ancient cipher, this is what I mean, that there is an ancient relationship between verse numbers/letters and content.  I am not saying that the verse numbers/letters contain content.  I'm saying that they creatively marked their verses with things in the Egyptian Alphabet that had associations with content in the verses/sections of text.

So, when I say that the Book of the Dead was the Book of Joseph, I mean that symbols from the the Book in the papyrus of Ani, for example, were creatively used for verse/section markers in the Book of Joseph.  The order the alphabet/characters were used to mark text were used in the order they are in in the papyrus.  The same with the Sensen Papyrus, when it was used to mark verse sections in the Book of Abraham.  You can't extract the text from it.  You need an external document or key to show you content and context.  This is what I mean when I say "external content dependency."

The ancient acrostics in the Book of Psalms marks sections of text with Hebrew letters like verse numberings but that doesn't tell me the content.  Yes, there is an association between a letter and the verse that it marks or enumerates, but that doesn't mean it contains the content of the verse/section.  And it is clever how the ancient prophets used those acrostics.

Similarly, it is evident from the KEP that Joseph Smith never claimed that the Sensen Papyrus contained text from the Book of Abraham, but that it was used as an ancient marking/numbering system for sections of text, and he was trying to show people that.  He wasn't claiming that the text could be extracted from it.  He was showing associations between that content and the characters, and why it was clever for someone to use it for a marking/numbering system.  And so, my work on this blog is not to show how the Book of Abraham text is extracted from these characters.  My work is to show the underlying relationships between section markers/numbers and text, and how clever people chose these verse/section markers/numberings to mark/enumerate the text for various reasons.  I'm not saying that the markers/numberings translate to the text.  There is a big difference there.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Follow-Through, and Redefining Apologetics to be Evidence-Based

Alan Turing and Boris Pavlovich Belousov never lived to see the ultimate outcome of their contributions to science.  Their contributions would lead to a change that would effect the very understanding of science itself.  And that their ideas, coupled with the ideas of others would ultimately cause a paradigm shift.  And so, just because someone's research is not immediately accepted, that it is worth following through with it.  Turing showed how complex patterns emerge from simple mathematical principles:  a big, bold idea.

As Wikipedia says about Belousov:

It was while seeking an inorganic analog of the biochemical citric acid cycle that Belousov chanced to discover an oscillating chemical reaction. He tried twice over a period of six years to publish his findings, but the incredulous editors of the journals to which he submitted his articles rejected his work as "impossible". He took this very hard.
The biochemist Simon El'evich Shnoll, at the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics (Puschino), heard of Belousov's work and tried to encourage him to continue. Belousov gave Schnoll some of his experimental notes and agreed to publish an article in a rather obscure, non-reviewed, journal, but then essentially quit science. Schnoll gave the project to a graduate student, Anatol Zhabotinsky, who investigated the reaction in detail and succeeded in publishing his results. The reaction now bears the names of both Belousov and Zhabotinsky.
Belousov was posthumously awarded the Lenin Prize in 1980 for his work on the BZ reaction.

Belousov's reaction was the type of behavior in nature that Turing's work predicted.  And it was further added upon by the work of Mandelbrot.

In my case, I am suggesting a way of looking at Egyptian symbolism that has simple principles, and that those principles lay the foundation for proper understanding of Joseph Smith's Egyptian productions in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers and in the Explanations for the Book of Abraham Facsimiles.  Someone had lay the groundwork for a wide understanding of these facts.  If I am remembered for anything, perhaps it will be that I sought out the basic principles so as to not get lost in all the weeds many other people are lost in.

There are people out there that sense patterns where others do not see anything.  There are people that can sense fundamentals in things that others cannot seem to sense.  This is what I mean to say, when I say that Turing and Belousov and Mandelbrot had a sense for the same type of elusive, underlying realities that Bohr and Einstein and Darwin had a sense for.  I y mahave a sense for what I believe are underlying principles in Joseph Smith's Egyptian.

One thing that I think I have in common with skeptics is that I wish for things to be evidence-based.  Apologetics ought to be evidence- and principled-based.  We need serious answers that harmonize with evidence as far as possible.  We need serious hypotheses and theories that actually explain the evidence that we see before us, instead of saying stuff and trying to force reality to fit what we say.  This is where I differ with other apologists I think.  I want an evidentiary basis if it is possible to have one, or at the very least, strive for it.  I don't believe they try hard enough to do that.

In October 2016, in the talk "A Witness of God", Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated:

The gathering of Israel is a miracle. It is like an enormous puzzle whose pieces will be set in place prior to the glorious events of the Second Coming. Just as we might be perplexed with a mountain of puzzle pieces, the early Saints must have seen the commission to take the restored gospel to all the world as a nearly impossible task. But they began, one person, one puzzle piece at a time, finding the straight edges, working to rightly frame this divine work. Little by little, the stone cut without hands began to roll forth; from hundreds to thousands, to tens of thousands, and now millions of covenant Latter-day Saints across every nation are connecting the puzzle pieces of this marvelous work and a wonder.
An enormous puzzle--Each of us is a piece of the puzzle, and each of us helps to set in place other essential pieces. You are important to this great cause. Our view ahead is now clear. We can see the miracle continuing and the Lord’s hand guiding us as we complete the gaps that remain. Then, “the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done,” and He will return in majesty and glory.
Each of us is a piece of the puzzle.
President Thomas S. Monson has said: “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together … to bring souls unto Him. … He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.”
The divinely appointed responsibility that once rested primarily upon the shoulders of full-time missionaries now rests upon us all. We all want to share the restored gospel, and gratefully, thousands are baptized each week. But even with this wonderful blessing, our concern for our brothers and sisters and our desire to please God bring a compelling urgency to share and strengthen the kingdom of God across the world.
It is not uncommon in Mormonism for inspiration to sometimes be from the bottom, up, where those at the top have the opportunity to profit from insights that originate from the bottom, not that the bottom is trying to tell the top how to run things.  Not at all.  It's more like somebody submitting something in a suggestion box.  But this is a Church of councils, and even the most lowliest of members of ward councils, for example, sometimes give insight that those with the keys can profit from, even though the buck stops with those with the keys, and ultimately, the members of a council unite with the decisions of the key-holders, and submit to it, and do not insist that their suggestions be carried out.

So, if I am a puzzle piece, and gave my widows mite in this thing, and any small thing was done through me, it is now up to those in the future to figure out what ought to be done with my research, as I have done all I can do on my own already.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Response to "Book of Abraham Fraud" By Mark Hines: Anti-Mormon Egyptian Art Aversion

Sometimes things irritate me because they are stupid.  And I feel that they need a response to illustrate and bring out the stupidity, especially when someone disrespects Joseph Smith and the Church so much, and then makes the claim that it is common sense that it is so.  This sort of claim shows how people when they are against the Church have lost the Holy Ghost, and refuse to look at anything through any kind of lens except their extremely cynical worldview.  They refuse to give anything the benefit of the doubt, but they feel the need to portray it in the worst possible light, and then pass judgement on it, condemning it to hell, and refuse to understand it.  This type of thing coming from people like this reminds me of the how children are fixated on potty stuff and private parts.

This is a link to an article by an Anti-Mormon named Mark Hines. The copy of this that I have in PDF form doesn't seem to be exactly the same, but the content is pretty much the same.

People ought not to be disturbed by the drivel in documents that circulate such as this.  Hines makes claims that are classic Anti-Mormon claims against the Book of Abraham (which is the same kind of stuff used in Larson's classic book By His Own Hand on Papyrus):

(1) The Book of Abraham Facsimiles use the god Min from ancient Egypt as a symbol.  Min was a fertility god, and iconographically, his penis is erect, and in some contexts, in some statues and so forth, Egyptians actually use a depiction of Min with his hand around his erect penis.

(2) Mormons will burn in hell if they don't stop believing in Mormonism, and Mormonism is Satanic because Ancient Egyptian Iconography is pagan and evil.  And Egyptian iconography is especially evil, because some characters in it are pornographic such as Min.

(3) The God of Christians would never use a penis for a symbol.

(4) Christians have enough common sense to know that God would never use a penis for a symbol.

Yes, it is true that in other ways I have praised Larson's book at times for the presentation of facts in general, not its anti-Mormon claims.  But Larson also seems to have had a fixation on Min's penis like Hines.  For example, Larson shows Osiris on the Lion Couch in an Egyptological reconstruction holding his penis.  And its not that it is necessarily incorrect to suggest that some Lion Couch scenes showed the idea of fertility between Isis and her dead husband Osiris in their marriage (especially the fact that the fertility extended beyond the grave, an idea that Mormons are quite at home with, and it was a marriage for crying out loud).  But anti-Mormons love to make a big deal out of nothing and can't be adults about things that are just symbols.  Hines says things like this:

Even in Joe Smith's day, a moderately retarded person could identify the sitting person as having an erect penis. Anybody with high school level reading comprehension skills can read Joe Smith's explanation. Sanity, common sense, basic decency, etc., tell one that this "prophet" Joe Smith and his obscene representation of God are of Satan . . .  He is usually represented as having an erect penis. In some hypocephali, Min holds his stiff penis with his left hand.

Hines has no respect for a religion that he disagrees with, and calls it's founding prophet by the name of "Joe," as many Anti-Mormons have since the beginning of time, to make the first man in the 19th Century who spoke with Jehovah, a man of the stature of Moses in modern times, into a regular "Joe."

And now, Hines makes an appeal to the emotion of his audience, appealing to their "basic decency," and their "common sense," because in the infinite wisdom of his audience, of course his audience "knows" that it is "obvious" that this is "obscene" and surely their God would never use such symbols which are obviously Satanic.  Some of you out there may almost think that Hines argument has real substance in it, until you actually start analyzing how he is manipulating his audience emotionally, and appealing to their own sense of what they think is "decent" and "common sense" from their own culture.  Yet, if you recognize that the fact that the Egyptians didn't necessarily have the same thoughts, you may come to realize that Egyptians and other people in other cultures in a world three or four thousand years separated from ours may have had a different sense of "common sense."

The God of Israel is not a product of Western Culture, but instead is a being that has been around far longer than the earth itself, and who assures us that his thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).  So if God has a "culture," then it is not ours for sure.  Yet Hines presumes to know what is acceptable to God, which, to know such a thing, would require Hines to know the mind of God, yet the religion that Hines belongs to rejects modern-day revelation to know the mind of God on a subject.  If Hines rejects Mormon Prophets, then how would he presume to know what God thinks of Min's penis in a drawing from the Egyptians, and what God may use the symbol for?

To the Muslims, isn't it common sense that Westerners are indecent by allowing their women to not be covered head to toe?  Yet isn't it common sense to us that forcing women to do such things is abusive, and that our own sense of what is "modest" and "decent" is entirely culture-based?  Hines doesn't bother to really reveal to his audience what the point the Egyptians were trying to make by using an erect penis as a symbol.  And as it happens, the value to them was the message behind the symbol, which is the idea of fertility and the power of procreation.  Indecency and pornography was the furthest thing from their minds, but Hines doesn't bother to tell people this.  He would rather manipulate people and try to make an appeal to their ethnocentricity.  And he would hope that his audience doesn't actually start trying to analyze what he is actually saying.

Well, now, Hines, of course, loves the shock value of pointing out the use of the penis on Min statues and in other art.  I don't know what his fascination/fixation is with Min's penis, but Mormons have never thought much of it, and have not only NOT pointed it out, but just simply don't care because it isn't a big deal.  Hines needs to grow up and be an adult.  Grow up Hines.

Mormons don't seem to be as childish as this.  Yes I said childish.  I say to the Anti-Mormons, get over it and stop being childish, and stop getting so worked up about Min's erect penis.  It's a symbol of fertility.  Get over it.  It is an ancient symbol that is not any more of a big deal than a naked statue from the Greeks.  You Anti-Mormons are the only ones getting worked up about about Min's penis.  Egyptologists don't get worked up about Min's penis, and neither do Mormons.

Christians, so called, in their unChristlike judgement of Mormons, like Hines probably don't want you to notice the fact that their Savior God also is a man...  Get it?  His name is Jesus Christ, and he is in the form of a man, and that means he is equipped in the form of a man.  Get it?  It is doubtful that Jesus walked around as a Eunuch for 33 years on this planet, but that he had what it took to be considered a man.  So, not only did the Egyptian god Min have a penis, but so did your God.  I have no problem saying it as it is.  Mormons aren't scared that Father in Heaven is equipped to be a Father, even though some Christians are scared to even contemplate the possibility that Jesus was married and did what it took to be a Father as well.  Why should I mince words?

You Christians as you call yourselves, holier than the rest of us, so you believe.  You condemn the rest of us to hell because you say we are Satanic over a symbol.  You are commanded not to judge, but you pass judgement on the basis of doctrines that you disagree with.  You act like you are the only people in the world who have the right to use that name, are trying to exclude Mormons from your "Christian club," because we don't have the same cool doctrines you do in your minds.  So you resort to making a big deal out of something that is nothing.  You people forget that Egyptology is all about symbolism, and those symbols are drawings.  And this wasn't used with pornographic intent.

You claim the Bible as yours.  Well, it is not.  It is the book of the primitive Christians.  You didn't write it.  Nevertheless, I could point out God's fixation on Onan's spilling his own seed from his penis, not wanting to provide an heir to his brother (Genesis 38:9).  I could point out King David's dancing in the streets naked (2 Samuel 6:20).  I could point out the commandment to Hosea to go marry a prostitute and God's use of the prostitute/whore for a symbol, which was quite literal, and may have caused a prophet to get an STD, for all we know (Hosea 1:2).  God seems to have had no aversion to use the symbol of a whore in the Book of Revelation as the whore of Babylon.

As my associate, Vincent Coon points out, there are many other things in Hebrew scripture "that should rub the sensibilities of western Christian society the wrong way."  For example, he notes:
The KJV still leaves us with God repeatedly stating that he will cut of him that “pisseth against the wall” and then there are statements like “My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins” (KJV 1 Kings 12:10), more explicit in Hebrew, not to mention Shir ha-Shirim (Song of Songs).
But I won't rip on "your" Bible, because the Bible is true, and it isn't yours anyway.  It is actually the book from the ancient Christians, not you.  And it is as much a Mormon book as anything.  Christians are actually the intellectual descendants of the proto-Orthodox usurpers, not the primitive Christians, according to scholars such as Bart Ehrman.  The Mormons at least had it right, long before Ehrman, to know that there were usurpers in the religious lineages of the sectarians.  And the Mormons know that Joseph Smith and his successors are the true successors to the primitive Christians through restoration.  But Christians don't want to have to bother with little facts such as these.  And the primitive Christians had no aversion to symbolism that was only used as symbolism in the culture of the middle east.  Therefore, it is the so-called Christians with their penis aversion in art that didn't have the intent that they put upon it that I will criticize.

You can't even represent a penis, or even the idea of fertility, in Egyptian without drawing one.  That's how stupid this is.  The Egyptians thought no more about drawing a penis (Gardiner's D52 and D53) than drawing an eye.