Since our Stake is preparing for a trek at Martin’s Cove, and my wife just taught the handcart story to her early morning Seminary Class, the next historic folly was particularly relevant to me. My wife noticed that the movie about the three boys who heroically carried the handcart sufferers across the Sweetwater was excluded from the new videos put out by the church and she could not find it on LDS.org. Thankfully someone had downloaded it to YouTube, and we had an older DVD which still had the story, so she was still able show it.
As we discussed why it might have disappeared, I knew instinctively that it must have had to do with revisionist historians, again exercising their flesh reliance to destroy or recolor truth, and intimidate the spiritual. Sure enough I found another piece from BYU studies, which applied flawed and twisted logic, in the same degree as the “Banks of the Susquehanna” debacle, I previously exposed.
The flawed logic and obviously biased study provided by Chad M Orton (an avid, and in my view apostate supporter of the Joseph Smith papers project)in BYU Studies was so filled with errors of reasoning and bias, space will not permit that I outline them all, but I will undertake to expose a few of them.
The Self-deification process is evident in the opening statement, when after quoting the well-known account of the heroics of the three boys the author states: “Because Solomon Kimball did not have access to all of the records available today he did not get every detail exactly right when he told the story…..” emphasis added.
The flaws in such a statement are numerous. For example it relies upon the false underlying concept that truth can only be known after the fact, that eye witness accounts are subservient to later recorded history? Of course the insanity in such suppositions is that the later accounts, to which poor Mr. Kimball did not have access, were ALSO human accounts by those who LIKEWISE DID NOT HAVE ACESS to all of the records available today. Such fuzzy reasoning allows historians, to pick and choose as accurate, parts of stories and debunk other parts of stories based on apparent contradictions, but without acknowledging that the contradicting sources might be just as invalid.
A classic example of such arrogant selective acceptance is found in the author’s claims that there was not enough time for the rescuers to carry all the immigrants across the stream. In his claim and subsequent argument supporting it, he points out that two different eye witnesses claimed that the boys did carry ALMOST all of the immigrants across. But the author then uses flawed reasoning to try and show why those claims could not be true, based on the claims of other witnesses? His argument reveals the following flaws:
1. The initial claim was actually that they carried nearly all…That means they did not carry all and it is impossible to know how many persons it took to establish in the mind of the witness, the designation of the term nearly. However, to bolster his argument and in a use of the flawed straw man, the author transforms the original claim to be ALL of the immigrants, and then attacks that claim. Of course it is logically possible and consistent that “several” crossed on their own, and that their numbers were small enough to still meet the threshold of “nearly all” of them being carried by others as recorded by the witness. The contradiction is in the mind of the willful historian, and not necessarily in the minds of the actual witnesses.
2. As justification for his claim that there was not enough time the author uses the claims of another party, without indicating why that persons account is more reliable than the previous witness, and focusing on the person’s description of the party as arriving near evening. Since that fits the author’s preconceived notions of time issues, there is no discussion of what evening means, or how many hours it entails, etc. choosing rather to use that supposition, placing his private interpretation on the meaning and time involved and then using his created fact to support his claims.
After acknowledging that another witness claimed that one of the boys carried 150 persons across, the author then claims that to be an exaggeration, based on what the author calls, “the 100 yard journey, muddy bottom and slippery banks.” The weird thing is those very assumptions, self-serving as they are, are contradicted by the author’s own sources, which he previously cited as credible, and which estimated the distance between 32 feet (2 rods) and 30-40 yards. Using his own sources it would be at most 80 yards round trip, and possibly only 20 yards. The author magnifies his flaw with another use of a straw man, claiming that even carrying 20 persons, over his invented 100 yards (which would really only be 50 since they presumably dropped the passenger on the other shore) with his self-proclaimed muddy river bottom, would be a herculean rate, and would still take 8 hours. All of the author’s claims are based upon his invented distances and conditions which are contradicted by his own sources and even common sense. Typically of course, divine intervention and God’s assistance to the boys is never even considered. That is classic self-serving interpretation, for the purpose not of expressing truth, but of trying to prove a preconceived notion to be truth.
The foregoing should also cause one to question, why it is that eye witness accounts which disagree with the author’s preconceived notions are debunked and challenged, based on eye witness accounts that support his claim. If the eyewitnesses are not credible, then an honest historian, should at least acknowledge that all of them suffer from credibility issues and not just challenge the credibility of those whose statements contradict his view.
3. The author points to the fact that there were wagons, but ignores the point that there were also other members of the rescue party available. One Anti-Mormon wrote about this, “are we to supposed to believe that the other men just stood by and watched..” in an ignorant attempt to debunk what he saw as a myth. The author here totally ignores the other possibility that would answer the Anti-Mormon’s question. Rather than stand by and watch perhaps the others were working on the wagons and handcarts. It was clear that the wagons had to be filled with some supplies, and it cannot be known how heavy they could be to cross what the author deems to be muddy and slick bottoms and banks. These provide additional evidence that a full and honest consideration of the possibilities was never intended only an attempt to disprove what he author wills to see as Mormon myth.
Death of the Rescuers: In typical fashion of preferring “enlightened human” reason to the things of the spirit, the author then takes on the claim that the rescuers died from the effect of their labors. The ridiculously obvious point is that; in order to prove that the rescuers did not die from the effects of their efforts, the author relies upon the comments of other humans who statements are more in line with his suppositions, again cherry picking which statements and histories to believe. Additionally, it is no doubt the case, as medial science will verify today, that the one of the best sources of what is ailing a person is the patient themselves. They are part of the equation, and if the sufferers attributed their later ills to the strain of their efforts, medical science cannot debunk that with certainty, no matter how many theories they propose to do so. It is a flaw of reasoning to set up a straw man requirement, that the suffers would have had to die young to verify the claims that the cause of their deaths was stress related, and then to go on to show how long they lived to prove no causation. The fact is that length of life is not necessarily associated with the cause of their deaths, and does not debunk the claims as to that cause. Many prisoners of war and holocaust survivors suffered for the rest of their lives from the impact of their ordeals, yet many still lived to old age, and eventually succumbed to the effects over time of past injuries.
Brigham Young’s Statement:
The author then goes on to try and discount the claim the Brigham Young said the rescuers would be exalted, by a misapplication of scripture. Again in a straw man argument the author tries to establish that Brigham Young’s claim violated the law of personal accountability and then sites one article of faith in support of that assumption. Absent are the plethora of scriptures where in the Lord promised exaltation to his children based on their actions. From Joseph Smith and many of his contemporaries to Nephi. The doctrine of calling and election is totally ignored, and probably not even known by the author. The point is that lack of true understanding of the doctrines, a common trait among the flesh reliant, constitutes a fatal flaw in the author’s reasoning on that point. Since such historians have long since quenched the spirit they cannot even conceive of the fact that a Prophet of God, can, when moved upon by the Holy Spirit, proclaim the will of God, who indeed can save and seal up at his will and in his good time.
Finally, the author at the end throws us a bone, of ……..well I just trashed the uplifting story and heroism, but there was still much good about the rescue, and we should note that we are all good, blah, blah, blah …displaying another common trait of the flesh reliant, historian. They love to trash the titans, and hate that anyone should be exceptional, demonstrating a sort of envy of the heroic, probably because they lack it within themselves. Which would explain the historians’ penchant to challenge, attack, and cast aspersion upon only the DEAD, who are not in a position to fight back.
The bottom line is the author offers only his own interpretations of facts and history, and selectively promotes some recorders and demotes others to fit his preconceive notions. What really happened at the sweet water, and the heroic and spiritual power of those events can only be known absolutely by personal revelation. I cannot help but think that the prior Apostles and Prophets who quoted the Kimball Statement, knew spiritually the truth of the matter. Those prophets can be relied upon, notwithstanding the flawed reasoning of those historians who fear the spirit, and favor the flesh.