Catching the tail end of this conversation it made me wonder who has the more difficult task, the Book of Mormon Skeptic or Apologist? The more I read the Book of Mormon, the more I learn about Joseph’s early life and the more I read skeptic’s theories the more I lean toward the idea that the skeptic needs more planets to align to be right.
Apologist: “Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon through inspiration from God.”
Skeptic: “But what about X issue?”
Apologist: “That’s how God does things.” “We don’t know everything about Mayan history yet.” “The Spirit.” etc.
Skeptic: “Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon.”
Apologist: “But he was an uneducated farmboy, he couldn’t have written it.”
Skeptic: “He was probably exposed to X, Y, and Z books that might have existed in Palmyra then.” “He obviously had more education than 3rd grade.” “other uneducated people have written masterful works.” etc. (Yes, there are theories of other writers but those seem to necessitate an equal amount if not more planets to align than the Joseph Smith-writer theories, albeit different ones)
The problem for the skeptic is that the Book of Mormon exists. And it’s pretty much proven to have been written when we claim it was in the amount of time it was. Regardless of all the post-BoM speculation (by prophets and members alike) regarding historicity/geography/etc (i.e. Zelph) it’s still a major theological and literary masterwork, especially to have been written by such a person in such a short amount of time in such an early time in his life. I’m tempted to bring up Occam’s Razor but I’m not sure that strengthens my point because the skeptic would just say that “revelation” doesn’t fall under the “simpler theory.”
“Revelation” and “We don’t know yet” are great trump cards. But we’re allowed to have them because the Book exists.