long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Translation process plus Topics and Questions

An interview on the translation process went live today:


"In this fascinating discussion, we delve into the inner workings of translating content and address some of the most thought-provoking questions. 

Join us as we uncover the secrets behind the Urim and Thummim AND the translation of the Book of Mormon."


On the subject of the translation of the Book of Mormon, the Church announced a new resource called "Topics and Questions" which replaces "Gospel Topics." 


This is a significant improvement. I hope the concept and methodology permeates all Gospel instruction and study throughout the Church.

Topics and Questions "provides resources for those seeking answers and for helping others with their gospel questions."

The link is here:


The new resource offers two categories of principles based on "Helping Others with Questions" and "Seeking Answers to Questions." 

This resources is congruent with the Institute course "Answering Gospel Questions" that I've been teaching online. 

One of the principles under "Seeking Answers to Questions" is "Consult Reliable Sources." Here's the link:


The following excerpt shows the aspirations of the new approach. When we compare this aspiration to the reality of the Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Translation, for example, we see that the essay needs a lot of work. The essay violates every one of the principles outlined in the following excerpt. Instead of quoting and citing what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery said about the translation, the essay quotes and cites the speculative opinions of certain modern scholars.

We can hope that this essay, along with others we've discussed, will be revised according to the principles set out in "Seeking Answers."

Consult Reliable Sources

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, “Never in the history of the world have we had easier access to more information—some of it true, some of it false, and much of it partially true.”1 In this environment of uncertainty, the Church urges members to “seek out and share only credible, reliable, and factual sources of information.”2 We should avoid sources that are founded on rumor or that promote contention or anger.

Learning to assess the quality of our sources of information involves both spiritual and intellectual work. Here are some tips for evaluating information:

  • Evaluate the reliability of sources. Not all sources are of equal value on all topics. The best sources will have direct knowledge of a topic instead of relying on hearsay, rumor, or innuendo. They will speak from a position of direct knowledge or expertise. They will refer to other reputable sources so you can check their claims. Reliable sources will not always affirm what you already think. They may challenge your views. If you have questions about official Church teachings, look first at what current Church leaders have and have not said. This will help you evaluate other, earlier statements.

  • Learn to recognize bias. Almost all sources have some bias. This does not automatically make them unreliable, but it is important to take the source creator’s perspective into account. Examine your source’s motives and background. Be wary of sources that claim to be unbiased or that express views in inflammatory ways.

  • Corroborate what you learn. It is significant when multiple reliable sources agree or speak with clarity on a topic. This is especially true when studying sources discussing Church history and teachings. Though it is not always possible to find this kind of agreement among sources, it is helpful to compare information from different sources so you can better assess their quality.

  • Distinguish facts from interpretation. Some pieces of information are facts. But much of what we encounter on the internet and in other publications consists of someone’s interpretation of the facts. The best interpretations try to account for all the facts. They consider specific details or facts in broader context and give them proper weight. They don’t simply dismiss information that doesn’t agree with a particular point of view. Check the sources used to make a particular interpretation to ensure they support the claims being made and are not taken out of context.


No comments:

Post a Comment