Critics of the Book of Mormon often demand its advocates provide the strongest single piece of archaeological evidence — or that they name, say, the top three pieces of such evidence. That, in the judgment of those critics, should prove its historical authenticity to an unbiased observer.
Even though the notion of an “unbiased observer” is problematic by itself, such demands seem to me to fundamentally misconceive the issue. They misunderstand what advocates of the Book of Mormon as history believe themselves to be doing.
Having argued for the antiquity of the Book of Mormon for decades and knowing many, if not most, of those who’ve been engaged in the same project over that period, I can say that I know of no serious writers on the subject who believe themselves able to “prove” it, let alone capable of proving it beyond a reasonable doubt, to the satisfaction of everyone.
Rather, we understand ourselves to be patiently engaged in amassing a cumulative case that will show the Book of Mormon is congruent with what mainstream scholarship is disclosing about the ancient Near Eastern environment from which the Jaredites, Lehites and Mulekites are said to have emerged and about the pre-Columbian American environment in which they lived out their histories.
The lead image for the story was taken by Stefan Hallberg.