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James Carroll
Attended Brigham Young University
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So, the Church I grew up believing in, the Church I've raised my family in, has officially admitted that:
1. "The First Vision(s) isn't exactly what we said it was."
2. "The Book of Mormon translation isn't exactly what we said it was."
3. "The curse of dark skin isn't exactly what we said it was."
4. "The American Indians aren't exactly who we said they are."
5. "The Book of Abraham, or any other "translation," isn't exactly what we said it was."
6. "Polygamy isn't exactly what we said it was."

And let's not forget that blood atonement is now false, that Adam isn't God, and that segregation isn't good, and that homosexuality isn't a choice.... 

What I want to know is, was there anything they told me the truth about? Anything at all?

And people have the gall to occasionally claim that I am the one who broke my covenants!
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+James Carroll It's not that I distrust people. I just take what someone says as a statement of their reality.  Each one lives in a different reality.  As to Reality, I keep an open mind, realizing that whatever anyone can say of That can never be definitive.
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Today, the LDS Church published another of their articles on difficult subjects over at LDS.org. This one is on the Book of Abraham issue. 

https://www.lds.org/topics/translation-and-historicity-of-the-book-of-abraham

I would like to give my stream of consciousness response to the article, written as I read it. I may (some day) write this all up, and try to make a reasonable essay out of it, but for now, here's just my stream of consciousness thoughts:

In the section on "The Book of Abraham as Scripture" it's fascinating to think how EVERY element (except ex nihilo creation) is one that I now reject. For example, I now believe that the pre-mortal life makes no sense. Priesthood in a chain going back to a historical Adam.... nope. Christ just being one of God's children, just more "advanced" for some reason... nope. This Christology really doesn't work for me any more. So all these "unique" doctrines of the Book of Abraham are elements that I now reject. Except the rejection of creation ex nihilo, which is likely correct (in my opinion). 

All the Egyptian and Mesopotamian creation myths presuppose creation from existing matter. And the Jewish text of Genesis 1 and 2 follows them very closely in most respects. 

The Jewish text is just ambiguous enough about creation ex nihilo that you can argue about it (and people have) without a firm and obvious conclusion. However, if the Biblical authors really wanted to imply something so very different from the texts and traditions around them, then it seems to me that they would have been intentionally explicit. Which they very clearly aren't. Since they aren't, we can assume they were intending to imply what a person from that culture would assume by default. Namely, creation from pre-existent matter. 

"Only small fragments of the long papyrus scrolls once in Joseph Smith’s possession exist today." 

Very good research shows that the actual length of the original rolls was such that we actually have a reasonable proportion of the scrolls preserved. They used the thickness of the rolls, and the spacing of the lacunae, and some simple calculus to calculate the original length of the rolls. There is no LONG missing papyrus as posited by John Gee, and as implied by this article.

See: Cook, Andrew W.; Smith, Christopher C. (Winter 2010), "The Original Length of the Scroll of Hôr", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 43 (2): 1–42 and Smith, Christopher C. (Spring–Summer 2011), ""That Which Is Lost": Assessing the State of Preservation of the Joseph Smith Papyri", John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 31 (1): 69–83.

"The relationship between those fragments and the text we have today is largely a matter of conjecture."

Umm... no. Joseph claimed to be translating from THESE papyri, as proved by both Facsimile 1, 3, and the Kirtland papers.

This part actually makes a lot of sense:

"Much like the Book of Mormon, Joseph’s translation of the book of Abraham was recorded in the language of the King James Bible. This was the idiom of scripture familiar to early Latter-day Saints, and its use was consistent with the Lord’s pattern of revealing His truths “after the manner of their [His servants’] language, that they might come to understanding.”"

This point is often mocked by people, but it's actually how translation works. My Hebrew final was to translate Genesis 1. I remember the KJV just flowing out of me, even though I had the Hebrew sitting right in front of me. I think people who use this particular point against the Church are barking up the wrong tree. 

This is true for the Book of Mormon too.

"It is likely futile to assess Joseph’s ability to translate papyri when we now have only a fraction of the papyri he had in his possession. Eyewitnesses spoke of “a long roll” or multiple “rolls” of papyrus.32 Since only fragments survive, it is likely that much of the papyri accessible to Joseph when he translated the book of Abraham is not among these fragments. The loss of a significant portion of the papyri means the relationship of the papyri to the published text cannot be settled conclusively by reference to the papyri."

NO. As I said already, the long missing rolls thing is a fantasy. More importantly, we can SEE Joseph's false translation in light of Facsimile #3, where he very clearly gets the text wrong. There can be no argument about "well, the text he was ACTUALLY translating is just elsewhere on the rolls" in that case. Clearly Joseph Smith could NOT translate what he claimed to translate. Thus, it's entirely possible to assess Joseph Smith's translation ability from the Book of Abraham, and to find it severely wanting.

"Alternatively, Joseph’s study of the papyri may have led to a revelation about key events and teachings in the life of Abraham, much as he had earlier received a revelation about the life of Moses while studying the Bible. This view assumes a broader definition of the words translator and translation.33 According to this view, Joseph’s translation was not a literal rendering of the papyri as a conventional translation would be. Rather, the physical artifacts provided an occasion for meditation, reflection, and revelation. They catalyzed a process whereby God gave to Joseph Smith a revelation about the life of Abraham, even if that revelation did not directly correlate to the characters on the papyri."

The problem with this theory, which I held myself for many years, was (ironically) expressed to me by John Gee... namely, that this is not what Joseph seems to have claimed about the papyri. Joseph seems to have thought that he was actually translating the text of the Papyri. So to hold to this theory, you have to assume that Joseph himself didn't know what he was doing. John Gee rejects that idea (as I now do), and that's why he clings to the impossible "missing text" theory. 

Finally, here's my problem with the section titled: "The Book of Abraham and the Ancient World"

This section essentially combs through all the apocryphal and traditional Christian, Jewish, and Islamic literature about Abraham, and then lists the connections or similarities that can be found to the Book of Abraham. My problem with this approach is epistemological. One can always find similarities when one has a large enough corpus of texts to compare with. And their analysis is only listing the similarities, and ignoring all the many differences. There are FAR more points of disagreement between these texts and the Book of Abraham, than there are similarities. But if you believe that all the similarities are evidence that the book is true, while believing that all the differences are just proof that the tradition was corrupted, then you can pretend that this all means something. But to do this, you have to ignore the fact that such similarities are almost a statistical certainty for any text like this, and don't actually mean anything.

In addition, there are several rather serious anachronisms in the BOA. I had a list of many of them at one point.... but I can't find it now... I should go look that up. 

But, in any event, even a few provably anachronisms are a LOT more important than even 50 random connections to apocryphal texts that match up here and there. 

That was my feeling about Nibley, John Gee and Daniel Peterson's work on this, which the article seems to blindly parrot.
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But here's how I defended this back in the day (back when I believed), if anyone is curious:

http://james.jlcarroll.net/egypt/ByMineOwnHandsUponTheKeyboard.html
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New research shows children of same-sex couples fare better when it comes to physical health and social well-being than children in the general population.
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This really makes sense.  For the gay couple has made a conscious decision to have children.  Often children are conceived accidentally, and aren't really wanted.
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This is awesome. Will be controversial... but it's awesome!
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Some gems: 

"Those who are described as "agreeable, conscientious personalities" are more likely to follow orders and deliver electric shocks that they believe can harm innocent people, while "more contrarian, less agreeable personalities" are more likely to refuse to hurt others...

"The irony is that a personality disposition normally seen as antisocial — disagreeableness — may actually be linked to 'pro-social' behavior...

"Popularity, in the end, may be more a sign of social graces and perhaps a desire to fit in than any kind of moral superiority...

"The study also found that people holding left-wing political views were less willing to hurt others. One particular group held steady and refused destructive orders: 'women who had previously participated in rebellious political activism such as strikes or occupying a factory.'"
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kate kelly'd:

verb, severely punished for minor infractions that a) cause no discernible harm and b) are done with zero malicious intent. See also: September six.

"I'd like to use your cellphone to call my family, but I'm a missionary and I don't want to get Kate Kelly'd".
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James Carroll

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Giles Parkinson: As early as 2018, solar could be economically viable to power big cities. By 2040 over half of all electricity may be generated in the same place it's used. Centralised, coal-fired power is over
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If true (and I'm no expert at all), we should expect legislation from coal and friends to fight such cost-effective power. Here's hoping we work it out someday soon, though. I'm all for whatever's cheapest, easiest, most renewable, and cleanest. (Especially if all those are in one package.)
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Well, if there is anything positive in the current situation, these statements are it:

From the family of Naftali Frenkel, one of the Israeli teenagers who was murdered, a condemnation of the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir:
"There is no difference between Arab blood and Jewish blood. Murder is murder. There is no forgiveness or justification for any murder."

From Hussein Abu Khdeir, the father of Muhammad:

“I am against kidnapping and killing,” his father said. “Whether Jew or Arab, who can accept the kidnapping and killing of his son or daughter? I call on both sides to stop the bloodshed.”

If grieving families can say these things, what excuse do others have for calling for the murder of innocent people?

(hat tip David Sigeti)
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Here's my monthly progress report from my diet. Almost 30 lbs now! And I don't intend to quit until I am at least somewhere below 200. Which I almost am!

Wish me luck!
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Wow looks like a bear market lol
Nice work.
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I want to learn to play this on the piano: 
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This group has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group, for its continual falsehoods about GLBT people. This group praises Russia for its draconian laws which essentially make public acknowledgement of being gay a criminal act, saying "At a time when Western governments are moving backward to a pagan worldview, Russia has taken a leadership role to advance the natural family". Since they love Mormon crusades against marriage equality, and have a Mormon "apostle" Dallin H. Oaks as an honorary board member, they're holding their first U.S. conference in a setting that suits them well---Salt Lake City.
An organization that touts the “natural family” and opposes homosexuality plans to hold its first U.S. conference in Salt Lake City next year. It’s a plan that, in addition to upsetting gay rights advocates, comes shortly after a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that scrapped Utah’s ban on gay marriage. The World Congress of Families is to be held at the Little America and Grand America hotels ...
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Education
  • Brigham Young University
    Computer Science
    BS, with minor in Ancient Near Eastern History, and served on the Ballroom Dance Team. followed by MS and PhD.
  • Woods Cross High School
Story
Tagline
Computer Scientist, Futurist, Religious Historian, and Photographer
Introduction
James L. Carroll has a PhD in computer science, and a minor in Ancient Near Eastern history. He taught institute for several years. As a graduate student he taught Pearl of Great Price, Isaiah, and the Book of Mormon part time in the BYU Ancient Scripture department. 

He is currently a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, doing ensemble machine learning research and computer assisted raidographic analysis for nuclear stockpile stewardship. 

His interests involve artificial intelligence, machine learning, statistics, linguistics, epistemology, consciousness, comparative ritual, and photography. A current list of his publications is available here: http://james.jlcarroll.net/publications/.

His home page is http://james.jlcarroll.net

Religion: 

I attend a Unitarian Universalist congregation. I am culturally Mormon. And in belief I am a theist leaning possibilian transhumanist.

Politics: Moderate conservative

My political views are a jumble of utilitarian, libertarian, conservative, and progressive ideas. And I know what you are thinking, and I revel in the contradiction. I am a moderate first, and I am the enemy of partisanism, and extremism, which I think are the causes of most of the world's problems. 
Bragging rights
PhD in Computer Science, minor in Ancient Near Eastern History
Basic Information
Gender
Male
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