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BOOK OF MORMON - SECTION 3
In 1820 Joseph Smith claimed that he saw God and Jesus Christ. The two were floating above him in the air and looked identical. Joseph alleges that Jesus Christ told him about buried golden plates wherein the history of Ancient Americans was contained. In due time Joseph retrieved the plates and translated them into the "Book Of Mormon". Mormons consider the Book Of Mormon to be the most correct book on earth.
| Apologists have relatively recently started claiming that the Nephite coinage set forth in Alma chapter 11 does not refer to coins at all, but a system of weights and measures.
...even though the passages appear to refer to coins, the chapter heading claims they refer to coins, and everybody who has ever read it thinks they refer to coins.
(I suppose that the apologists POV is that we should never take the BoM at face value, but wait to interpret it based on real knowledge from real sources of information like archeology...?)
But I digress...my point...
Jesus: Matthew 5:26 (from the Sermon on the Mount):
Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost *farthing*.
Jesus: 3 Nephi 12:26 (BoM version of the Sermon on the Mount):
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence until thou hast paid the uttermost *senine*.
A "Senine" is part of that system mentioned in Alma 11 (3, 5, and 7)
So when Jesus repeats his sermon on the Mount for the BoM people, he replaces the Roman coin (translated as farthing) with what? A Senine.
Even Jesus thinks that Alma 11 is about Nephite coinage. I say Kerry Shirts is on shaky ground here.
| The 'seer'-stone-and-hat BoM 'translation' process used by JS, according to the quote in Mormon Apostle Russell Nelson's article in the July 1993 Ensign, "A Treasured Testament", would have needed to have happened in a manner such as the following:
1. With Joseph Smith's 'seer' stone in his hat, the "something resembling parchment" (from the quote in Nelson's article) 'magically' appears, displaying the 'ancient' character and the corresponding letter in English. Did JS' 'peep' stone display 'ancient' punctuation and its English equivalent? The quote in Nelson's article doesn't say.
2. With his hat pulled tightly around his face so no ambient light enters, JS sees the 'magical' character and letter and calls out the latter to his scribe.
3. The scribe hears JS' muffled voice and repeats what he (or she) hears to ensure that the letter about to be written down is in fact the letter JS sees. For example, "b", "d", "p" and other '-ee' letters called out from inside JS' hat would have sounded similiar.
4. JS says "Yes", gives a thumbs-up, or indicates in some other way that what the scribe has said is in fact the letter he sees on the "something resembling parchment."
5. Once the English character has been written down, the next character and letter 'magically' appears. Presumably, 'God' is monitoring the progress of 'translation' and makes the next character and letter appear.
There are 1,150,219 characters in the BoM. At a 'translation' rate of 5 seconds per character, and factoring in breaks for JS to remove his hat from his face to let trapped air escape and for his scribe to have a little rest, it would have taken JS nearly 10 months (at eight hours per day) to 'translate' the BoM.
However, Nelson told Latter-day Saints in Gen. Conf. in October 1999: "Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon at the rate of about 10 pages per day, completing the task in about 85 days!" (see "A Testimony of the Book of Mormon" in the Nov./99 Ensign; the talk/article is online at www.lds.org).
Even if JS kept his face in his hat for 16 hours per day (no breaks and no Sundays off!), he would not have been able to 'translate' the BoM using the 'seer' stone in 85 days at the rate of 5 seconds per character. To complete the BoM 'translation' in less than three months, the 'translation' rate would have needed to be 4.25 seconds per character/letter (again, no breaks and no Sundays off!).
Breathing in one's exhaled carbon dioxide for 16 hours per day for 85 days would have resulted in hypercapnia, "a condition where there is too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood."
Symptoms of early hypercapnia "include flushed skin, full pulse, extrasystoles, muscle twitches, hand flaps, reduced neural activity, and possibly a raised blood pressure."
"[M]ild hypercapnia might include headache, confusion and lethargy."
"Hypercapnia can induce increased cardiac output, an elevation in arterial blood pressure, and a propensity toward arrhythmias."
"In severe hypercapnia...symptomatology progresses to disorientation, panic, hyperventilation, convulsions, unconsciousness, and eventually death."
Nelson indicated in "A Treasured Testament" (and other articles and talks) that JS 'translated' the gold plates using the Urim and Thummin. He quoted the church's official version of JS' history, as follows:
"Also, that there were two stones in silver bows–and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim–deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted ‘seers’ in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book." (JS–H 1:34–35.)
One of the many aspects of Mormonism that makes no sense is why the gold plates and Urim and Thummin were even needed since Joseph's 'peep' stone and hat did the trick as far as 'translating' the BoM was concerned.
Another BIG problem:
Joseph Smith taught that the BoM was "the most correct of any book on Earth," a Mormon 'truth' that has been repeated over and over by LDS leaders since his day.
Nelson called the 'seer'-stone-in-JS'-hat 'translation' technique a "miraculous method of translation." He included this oft-repeated (in the LDS Church) quote in his July 1993 Ensign article: "Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man."
Given these 'truths', why has the "most correct" BoM, the volume of scripture that was 'miraculously' "translated by the gift and power of God", been so extensively altered by the LDS Church? There have been approximately 4,000 spelling, grammatical and other literary changes to the BoM (ref. http://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/3913intro.htm).
Clearly, Joseph Smith's 'seer' stone that emitted "something resembling parchment" and the Urim and Thummin displayed erroneous characters/letters. The 'translation' instruments prepared by 'God', that perfect, all-knowing and omnipotent being, according to LDS doctrine, were in fact faulty.
Or maybe it was simply a case of Joseph Smith writing a work of fiction and identifying himself as its author, which is exactly what was shown on the title page of the 1830 edition of the BoM (ref. http://www.inephi.com/1.htm).
| The Brass Plates are not spoken of much by Mormons, but they cause considerable problems.
Here is a summary of what we know about them:
Laban had the "record of the Jews" and a genealogy of Lehi's (and Laban's) forefathers 1 Ne 5:16, 1 Ne 3:3
The record was on plates made of brass 1 Ne 3:3
Laban kept the plates at his house 1 Ne 3:4
Laban was keeper of the records because he was a descendant of Joseph 1 Ne 5:16
Plates contain "the language of our fathers" 1 Ne 3:19
Written in Egyptian Mosiah 1:4
Plates contain all the words of the prophets down to Lehi's time 1 Ne 3:20, 1 Ne 5:13
And the law 1 Ne 4:16, the "five books of Moses" down to reign of Zedekiah, and prophecies of Jeremiah 1 Ne 5:11-13
Plus otherwise unknown prophets (Zenos, Zenock, Neum, Ezias, Joseph) 1 Ne 19:10, 2 Ne 4:2
People cannot know the Law without having it written 1 Ne 4:15
Plates should "go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people who were of his [Lehi's?] seed" 1 Ne 5:18, Alma 37:3-5
Plates should "never perish" or be "dimmed any more by time." 1 Ne 5:18-19
Plates are like the Bible, but more than the Bible 1 Ne 13:20-23
Summary of prophecies on plates 1 Ne 19:10-22
Why would such important records be kept in a private home?
Was there only one copy, and only on brass? If the brass plates were the only copy, then by taking them Lehi would deprive the Jews of the record. If there were other copies, why didn't Lehi try to obtain one of those, instead of killing a man?
Why would Laman expect Laban to simply hand over these records? 1 Ne 3:11-13
Why would Nephi think Laban could be bribed? 1 Ne 3:21-26
Why would a wealthy man like Laban go out at night drinking without escort? 1 Ne 4:7-10
Why would Laban be armed, with sword and armor, to go drinking with the "elders"? 1 Ne 4:19, 22
Why would Laban's clothing not be bloody after being beheaded? 1 Ne 4:19
Why would not the discovery of the naked body of an important man such as Laban stir up a search for his killer? And for the missing plates and servant?
Why did Nephi only summarize Zenos and Zenock, but chose to copy long passages of Isaiah word for word? Didn't he know that Isaiah's words would be well-preserved in the Bible, but Zenos and Zenock would not? 1 Ne 19:23-24
Why would those records be written in Egyptian, if they were official records of the Jews, and not in Hebrew?
Was Egyptian the "language of our fathers"? 1 Ne 3:19
Where are the plates now?
How have the sacred teachings of the plates gone forth "unto all nations"? 1 Ne 5:18, Alma 37:3-5
| Last week, I made some comments on some of the threads here regarding RE that were appreciated. However, those comments were interspersed throughout several threads, viz. “Isaiah Anachronisms,” and a thread on RE proper. Some of the things I said were appreciated and some of you expressed some interest in having it all in one spot (thanks mechwerks for pointing it out to me). So I decided to write down some of my thoughts on RE and hope they help.
For starters, a diachronic examination of the evolution of written languages yields the notion that many, if not all, languages began as a derivative of art. The art forms which intended to tell stories and relay messages developed into more mainstream pictures through time. From a form of art, written language generally tended to condense itself and become ‘pictographic,’ which means that the “artist” or scribe condensed his stream of thought into separate words (logograms) or phrases, represented in small pictures. From there, still more condensing of ideas and logograms occurred by the dismissal of ornate elements of a picture (e.g., just draw the outline of a bird if the logogram you’re writing is “bird” – no need to draw its feet, feathers, etc.) until you have conformity, or something which a number of people could learn and recognize. This means that once a standard was reached with which pictograms or logograms could be recognized, this became the written language. The list of pros and cons for a pictographic language lean quite heavily on the “cons” side. The largest obstacle was taking the time to learn the vocabulary, and secondly how that vocabulary is arranged to convey the message correctly (this is called syntax). Most people require knowing thousands of words in order to be fluent in a language, so you can imagine the amount of effort required to learn a pictographic language. Generally speaking, most of what was written in pictographic languages was not concerned with mundane communication, but rather focused on cultic, economic, historical, or political concerns.
From there, people still recognized that more streamlining needed to be done. Enter syllabic languages. The foremost example is the Akkadian language, which is Semitic, but written in cuneiform. Google cuneiform, and you’ll see that it doesn’t do much to solve the problem of complexity. It is messy to look at. However, instead of memorizing thousands of pictograms to tell a tale, one now has to learn maybe a several hundred syllabic signs in order to write. I know some Assyriologists personally, and with intense study, it generally requires about a decade of concerted effort to pass their exams; and these people are very, very intelligent. So with greater ease of writing things down, we enter an age of the writing of epics. The Babylonians were among the first to start doing this. They wrote down a lot of stuff because writing was easier. Still, it wasn’t as simple as the next phase. Enter alphabets.
Nobody is sure where alphabets were born, but whoever thought of them is a genius. The idea here is to reduce a word to its smallest parts of speech, or phoneme, and represent it with a simple stroke. Now you just teach people the two dozen or so signs to represent phonemes, and perhaps some combinations of signs to attain diphthongs and the like, and voila, you can teach someone to read and write in just a few short weeks. Instead of memorizing thousands of words, one need only memorize about 50 signs or elements. This is when literacy boomed in the ancient world. Numerous Hebrew abecedaries have been found in ancient Syria-Palestine, showing that people were practicing alphabetic writing. The oldest Hebrew abecedary comes from Tel Zeitah/Zayit and shows a couple of mistakes that would have been common to someone who was learning the alphabet.
Bottom line: written languages started as art, then went pictographic, then syllabic, then alphabetic. It’s a natural evolution in thought.
RE was supposedly derived from the paleo-Hebrew script and some form of Egyptian, probably Middle Egyptian or Hieratic, but probably not Demotic, as Demotic was in its embryotic stage of development in Nephi’s time. Hebrew, as you may know, is an alphabetic language, and JS describes the Egyptian that he supposedly knew as pictographic. He says that they created an Egypto-Semitic hybrid language in order to “save space” on the golden plates (Mormon 9:32-33). The idea that an Egypto-Semitic hybrid saves space is bewildering in its own right, as the paleo-Hebrew script is probably the more truncated of the two; it contains no vowels, is limited in its number of sibilants, and is based on the tripartite root system (or “binyanim"), which means that most verbs in their present “tense” (or “case”) mostly occur as only three letters in length. But for the sake of argument, let’s let that slide.
First off, Nephi had to be well-versed in the two languages in order to create the hybrid. I will let him slide on Hebrew, as I believe by 700 BC that it is perfectly fine for him to have learned it with some level of expertise. Egyptian, however, presents problems. For one, finding an expert in Egyptian script in his area would have been difficult, not only for geographic limitations, but also because pictographic script in Egypt was on the decline. Languages were one (among many) reasons that countries drew their borders where they did, and the Hebrews had a national pride in their language. I would venture to say that he would have needed to go to great lengths to secure a mentor (or three) for teaching him the pictograms necessary to be able to comfortably weave the two languages together, otherwise he would have leaned more heavily on the alphabetic Hebrew when creating the plates. (The “Caractors” document does not show a strong affinity toward either). He would have either had to take a long vacation on the Nile Delta (and made friends with or paid people in high places who were busy writing what the priests wanted), or have found a detractor in Jerusalem who was willing to teach him. Is it possible? Yes, but grossly improbable. But for the sake of argument, we’ll let that slide too.
The next problem arises from mental retention of all the signs he was taught. He would have to have made a lexicon of some kind, a veritable “Rosetta Stone” if you will, which enables him to look up a Hebrew word in the right hand column (they read right to left), with its associating Egyptian translation next to it so that he could refer to it when he forgot something, and so he could pass down what he learned to the next guy. Moreover, he would probably want to be able to use the lexicon going the other direction – Egyptian to Hebrew – so he would have had to make another lexicon doing just that (notice how modern printed versions of “language dictionaries” contain translations from language A to B, then B to A). So in essence, he would have needed TWO additional books at his side in order to even begin the process of creating RE. But for the sake of argument, we’ll let that slide.
Next is the problem of the hybrid language itself. Giving Nephi the benefit of the doubt, let’s say he finds a way to successfully blend the two languages into an Egypto-Semitic hybrid. This language supposedly shortens the length of the written Hebrew (the BofM states in Mormon 9:32-33 that they didn’t write in pure Hebrew to save space, which is odd because as an alphabetic script, paleo-Hebrew is quite concise). But because of the evolution of languages, he’s stuck because now he’s got essentially a THIRD language to master – Reformed Egyptian. It’s pictographic in its nature, as JS describes it, despite incorporating enough Hebrew into it to render it “untranslatable” to anyone but him. To fix this problem, Nephi would have to make yet two more lexicons for RE – with Hebrew or Egyptian (probably Hebrew, being his spoken language) down the right column and RE down the left. So now we’re up to FOUR additional books – a Hebrew to Egyptian lexicon, an Egyptian to Hebrew lexicon (these two exist in order to teach/learn regular Egyptian), a Hebrew to RE lexicon, and a RE to Hebrew lexicon. Throw in the golden plates themselves, and now Nephi has FIVE books to worry about. Granted, the next person to whom he gave the plates would probably not need the Hebrew-Egyptian/Egyptian-Hebrew lexicons and go straight to the Hebrew-RE/RE-Hebrew lexicons, but I would suspect that Nephi would probably have needed all four, being the first one to create this so-called hybrid. Next, I would submit that learning a pictogram for a word would be difficult without seeing it in context. So he would have to make a concordance which allows the subsequent plate-engravers to look up all instances of a RE word to see how it is used in context. But I’ll let the concordance thing slide for now, as we have enough lexicons for us to be able to learn the languages and look up words. So there’s potentially SIX additional books outside of the plates themselves.
So Nephi has now solved the word problem. But what to do about grammar and syntax? How are the pictograms of RE arranged so that it makes sense? This is important because in some languages, the subject of a sentence precedes the verb (like English), but sometimes it does not (Imperial Aramaic). Moreover, the placement of pronouns can be crucial (like English, which is pronoun-dependent), or not (like modern Spanish or ancient Greek, in which the conjugation of the verb is distinct enough to render the pronoun optional). Also, modifiers like adverbs and adjectives need their rules too (some come before the noun they modify [e.g., “golden plates”], some after like in the genitive case [e.g., “plates of gold”]). Enter Nephi’s need of a guide or grammar book to accompany the plates, showing all the rules, shortcuts, truncations, etc. that one would expect in a typical grammar. So now that’s SIX supplementary volumes Nephi has to create in order to pass down RE, not including the golden plates themselves (SEVEN ifhe had to make a concordance).
Are we saving space yet?
In review, learning RE is no easy task. It requires making a slough of reference books, as noted above, as well as encountering the right personnel to teach Nephi the Egyptian language in order to get the ball rolling, as well as ensuring his offspring understood it too. Moreover, I question whether moving backward up the literary ladder from a simple alphabetic script to a complex pictographic hybrid saves anybody any time, effort, and space.
Of course, the simplest solution to all this is to grab a couple of stones, bless them in god’s name, and appear 1400 years later to the new guy and tell him to view those rocks inside of a hat...
| The following is a challenge extended to any true believer in the Book of Mormon. This is based on the account in the Book of Ether concerning the Jaredite voyage in the barges to the “Promised Land”. The following is intended to recreate the experience as closely as possible.
1. You will be required to build a barge that roughly the length of a tree. For our purposes we will limit this vessel to 60 feet. Wood is the only material allowed.
2. No windows or other openings are allowed in the barge other than one hole in the top and one in the bottom that must be completely air and watertight. Additionally it must be assured that no light can enter the barge from outside with the two access holes blocked.
3. You must build the barge on a gantry that will allow the barge to be rolled through a full 360 degrees to simulate the barges’ ability to roll over in the water. Thus the direction in the Book of Mormon for a hole in the top and the bottom.
4. You must take enough food and water for 344 days in the barge.
5. You must include live animals and collections of seeds in the barge.
6. Your team must include a minimum of three men and three women in your crew.
7. No reading materials are allowed other than one copy of the Old Testament.
8. At any time during your 344 days of being sealed inside the barge an assistant may come along and roll your barge through 180 or 360 degrees.
16 And the Lord said: Go to work and build, after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the manner which they had built, according to the instructions of the Lord. And they were small, and they were light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water.
17 And they were built after a manner that they were exceedingly tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish.
18 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me.
19 And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish.
20 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top, and also in the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air. And if it be so that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole, that ye may not perish in the flood.
22 And he cried again unto the Lord saying: O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?
23 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.
1 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared, (now the number of the vessels which had been prepared was eight) went forth unto the mount, which they called the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height, and did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as transparent glass; and he did carry them in his hands upon the top of the mount, and cried again unto the Lord, saying:
4 And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of food, that thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them–and it came to pass that when they had done all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.
5 And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.
6 And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.
7 And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the bark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.
8 And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind.
9 And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.
10 And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.
11 And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water.
See this thorough analysis of the problems with these vessels at http://packham.n4m.org/ships.htm "Jaredite Ship-building Technology" by Dr. Kent Ponder
| According to information I have received on the matter, Joseph Smith said the gold plates were about six by eight inches in width and length, about six inches in height and about the thickness of ordinary tin. While there is no way that I can be certain as to the thickness of the tin, I believe the tin that Smith referred to was about twenty three thousandths of an inch thick. Therefore, assuming two thousandths of an inch air space between the plates the stack would contain 240 plates, two thirds of which were “sealed,” leaving 80 plates of reformed Egyptian available for viewing and translation.
The current Book of Mormon contains about 521.25 pages of written text at about average 575 (eyeball count) words per page or nearly 299,719 words, taken, supposedly, from the 80 gold plates or about 3,746 words from each. For me, one thing that makes this especially difficult is the fact that, according to record, there were no gold plates on the table in front of Joseph as he looked into his hat at a rock and quoted a mixture of words, in the vernacular of the King James Bible and his own imagination, to his writers. He was said to have the ability to leave off “translating” for a while and pick up exactly where he left off. This he might have been able to do. But the fact that he could not keep his transition of records from one record keeper to the next, in mathematical harmony with his story, is there for anyone who is willing to run the calculations to see. My 1987 research paper, Chronology of the Book of Mormon Records: An In-depth Look, (published in 2008) wherein I charted the life spans of the record keepers, exposed this to me in a way that I could not ignore and broke my faith in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith completely. For I reasoned that if he had been following a story written in reformed Egyptian, or any other language, he would have had the translatable figures before him and these “mistakes of man” would not be there.
There is no question, in my mind, that Joseph Smith was a remarkable man. It is obvious that he had committed the entire King James Version of the bible to memory and was able to incorporate this information (mostly in the KJV vernacular) into his stories at will. This, in and of itself, set him apart from his peers and gave him the appearance of someone receiving information spiritually. And even he might have thought this also. For, as I read his Book of Ether (which I believe was his first effort at writing) it is apparent that he was building upon stories from his memory, but without interjection of education or adult common sense. The fact that this book wound up in the completed Book of Mormon I attribute to the probability that he felt so good about its story that it just had to be included in order to further prove his ability to write “scripture.” How this book has withstood the process of human reasoning for almost two centuries is a mystery to me. For nothing in the book withstands even the least elementary examination for fact. This is especially true when the story about the eight barges is unfolded. “Fools mock but they shall mourn” was the response I received from my bishop when I pointed out that this voyage of three hundred and forty-four days, about 230 degrees of the earth’s circumference, and near 15,000 miles, could not have been a straight line trip from beginning to end because of the land masses lying between the starting and ending points, as well as many other difficulties. And when I pointed this out and asked how the eight barges arrived at their destination together, he referred me to the miracles that are listed in the Bible and noted that the answer to that question is probably in the “sealed portion” of the Book of Mormon (where most of the unanswerable or grossly unreasonable questions seem to be.) In any event, the Book of Ether, which is less than thirty two full pages long and mentions Deity of some sort about 198 times (including Satan twice) is the least convincing “history”about any religious people I have ever seen. Nothing about the book rings true. In one place we have a man (Shiz) whose head is missing (chopped off in battle, Ether 15:30-31) rising up on his hands to get a breath before dying. This story (Ether) is so ludicrous that as I tried to research it I found that I could not pick up a thread of reality to tie my research to. So I just gave up trying to make sense of it. Along with the Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham I believe the church would do well to “deep six” the Book of Ether. But, then, my advice would be to deep six the whole Joseph Smith story and start over. But I’m afraid it’s just too profitable, as is, to ever do this.
1.Outskirts Press, Inc. Now available at online book stores worldwide.
2.See Ether, especially chapter six verses 1-12
| I find the current version of the Book of Mormon to be mind numbing garbage. There is nothing of substance, it is poorly written, repetitive, and banal. However, the Book of Mormon sinks to new lows when read in the original. I thought the Book of Mormon could not be any worse. It turns out I was wrong.
One of the most frequent mistakes in the first edition of the Book of Mormon is the use of the word was instead of the word were.
There are also many places where the word were has been changed to was.
"... but it all were vain ..." (page 142) [Jacob 7:24]
"... an army of the Lamanites were in the borders ..." (page 204) [Mosiah 23:25]
"... inasmuch as it were possible." (page 224) [Alma 1:32]
"Now the object of these Lawyers were to get gain ..." (page 251) [Alma 10:32]
"... every living soul of the Ammonihahites were destroyed ..." (page 267) [Alma 16:9]
Another common mistake in the first edition of the Book of Mormon is the use of the word is when it should read are. The following are extracts from the first edition in which the word is has been changed to are in later editions:
"... the tender mercies of the Lord is over all ..." (page 7) [1 Nephi 1:20]
"... the mixture of thy seed, which is among thy brethren ..." (page 30) [1 Nephi 13:30]
"... shall establish the truth of the first, which is of the twelve apostles ..." (page 32) [1 Nephi 13:40]
"... there is, save it be, two churches ..." (page 33) [1 Nephi 14:10]
In the following extracts from the first edition of the Book of Mormon the word had has been deleted and the words not ought have been rearranged to ought not in later editions:
"... lest he should look for that he had not ought and he should perish." (page 173) [Mosiah 8:13]
"And he told them that these things had not ought to be ..." (page 220) [Mosiah 29:34]
"... and that they had not ought to murder ..." (page 289) [Alma 23:3]
"I had not ought to harrow up in my desires ..." (page 303) [Alma 29:4]
Another common mistake in the first edition of the Book of Mormon is the use of the word a where it does not belong. In the following extracts from the first edition the word a has been deleted in later editions:
"As I was a journeying to see a very near kindred ..." (page 249) [Alma 10:7]
"And as I was a going thither ..." (page 249) [Alma 10:8]
"... the foundation of the destruction of this people is a beginning to be laid ..." (page 251) [Alma 10:27]
"... he met with the sons of Mosiah, a journeying towards the land ..." (page 269) [Alma 17:1]
| Not many people notice that there are quite a few similarities between the history of the ancient Romans and the story of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon.
Their stories cover a similar stretch of ancient history: The Romans from the founding of the city in 753 BC until its conquest by barbarian invaders in 476 AD; Nephite history beginning ca 600 BC and ending with the annihilation of the Nephites by the barbarian Lamanites about 400 AD.
* Both peoples are descended from a small party of emigrants escaping the destruction of a royal city: Aeneas from Troy's destruction by the Greeks; Lehi from Jerusalem's destruction by the Babylonians.
* Both people's founding ancestors were led by deity to a new land: Aeneas by Venus and Apollo; Lehi by Jehovah.
* Both people's founding ancestors came to their new homeland by ship.
* Both peoples took their name from one of a pair of brothers from whom they descended: The Romans from Romulus, brother of Remus; the Nephites from Nephi, brother of Sam. And the Lamanites took their name from Laman, brother of Lemuel (the less righteous brothers of Nephi and Sam).
* Both peoples spread out eventually to occupy very large territories: The Romans all the lands bordering the Mediterranean, as well as Britain, southern Europe and the Balkans, from Spain to Mesopotamia; the Nephites covered "the face of the land" (Jarom 1:8, Helaman 11:20) both "northward and southward" and from sea to sea.
* At about the same time in their history, a two-century period of peace reigned among them: For the Romans the Pax Romana, ca 27 BC to ca 180 AD; for the Nephites, the period described in 4 Nephi, from ca 33 AD to ca 245 AD.
* Both periods of peace began about the time of the appearance of Jesus Christ in their land.
* Both cultures knew metal coins, shipbuilding, agriculture based on wheat, barley, cattle, goats, sheep and "flocks." Both waged war with similar weapons and armor (steel swords, bow and arrow, spears, body armor, chariots and horses).
Of course there are also many differences in these two stories, but the similarities are striking. And I am not claiming that these similarities "prove" anything at all, or that they are anything more than interesting coincidences.
If there is anything that this comparison proves, it is the one tremendous difference between the two stories, a difference which casts huge doubt upon the accuracy of the Nephite story. And that difference can be seen in museums and archaeological sites all over Europe: The Romans left behind millions of artifacts, from everyday coins, kitchen utensils and pots to glorious art and architecture. Their historical record is also confirmed by hundreds of independent contemporary written records.
But the Nephites? Nothing even vaguely similar. Nothing. No museum has any Nephite artifact. No art. No architecture. No records other than the Book of Mormon, which is accepted as history by not a single non-Mormon historian.
Why not? One would think that the archaeological and historical record of two great ancient peoples, contemporaries, spanning a thousand years, would leave similar signs of their existence behind. No one doubts the existence of the Romans for that thousand years, or the essential accuracy of their history. Everyone but the Mormons themselves disbelieves the story of the Nephites.
| "...if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."
Can you really trust an angel who appeared and told a teenage boy that "the Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham"?
You can see it here:
It is in the Journal for 1835-1836 on page 25. (Detail view is easier to use)
Spend a little time and look close. Moroni's words are at the bottom of the page. Go to page 24 too. This is a primary source document that the church uses for both the first vision and for the angel Moroni's visit to Joseph. You can see the digitized images of an original manuscript that has been used since 1835 to describe the miraculous beginnings of Mormonism.
When DNA research clashed with Moroni's words to Joseph Smith, the Church changed the BofM introduction. Bruce R. McConkie had written that intro that came out in 1981. He passed away about five years before the Human Genome Project began so it's no big deal, right?
The church found a great way to divert attention from Joseph Smith's personal visit with Moroni. Just blame the problem on McConkie and ignore the very specific words of an angel.
Here is a challenge to Moroni's promise: If I can't believe that the church has been sincere and truthful with Moroni's words, if I can't believe what the resurrected Moroni told Joseph Smith, why should I believe the promise allegedly written before the mortal Moroni died?
| The following summarizes the comparisons between the Masonic Legend of Enoch and Joseph Smith's story: |
1. Enoch is shown the hill Moriah in a vision. .
2. Joseph Smith shown the hill Cumorah in a vision
1. Enoch is shown a hidden treasure.
2. Joseph Smith is shown the gold plates.
1. Enoch's treasure includes a gold plate with engravings.
2. Smith's gold plates are engraved.
1. Enoch's marble pillar is carved with Egyptian hieroglyphics.
2. Smith's plates are engraved in reformed Egyptian
1. Enoch's marble pillar tells the story of the treasure.
2. Smith's Book of Mormon tells story of the gold plates.
1. Enoch erects a brass pillar which tells the history of creation.
2. The Book of Mormon includes brass plates containing the five books of Moses.(58)
1. Enoch writes the history of the Tower of Babel on the marble pillar.
2. The Book of Mormon contains the Book of Ether, a history of a migration from the Tower of Babel.
1. Enoch's brass pillar has a metal ball on top which has the power to direct.
2. The Book of Mormon tells of a brass ball, the Liahona, which acts as a compass.
1. Enoch foresees a world-destroying flood.
2. Joseph Smith receives a revelation of the Book of Moses, giving an account of Enoch foreseeing a world-destroying flood.(59)
1. Enoch predicts that after the flood, an Israelitish descendant will find the treasure.
2. The Book of Mormon foretells an Israelitish descendant having the same name as Joseph of Egypt, who will find the treasure. Joseph claims to be the predicted descendant, even going so far as to give himself the code name of "Enoch" in his revelations. (60)
1. Three masons obtain the treasure after three attempts.
2. Smith tries to take the plates and is only successful after three attempts.
1. Three masons are witnesses to the treasure.
2. Smith arranges for three witnesses to the plates: Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer.
1. Solomon's treasure contained the gold plate, a brass pillar and record, the High Priest's breastplate, the Urim and Thummin and a metal ball. It also contained the Tetragrammaton, the name of God.
2. Smith's treasure consisted of the brass plates, gold plates, the Urim and Thummin, the High Priest's breastplate, and a metal ball called the "Liahona". The plates claimed to be from God.
1. The three masons note that the gold plate gives off enough light to illuminate the cavern.
2. Smith claims the Book of Mormon plates light up the cavern in the hill Cumorah.
1. Enoch's treasure is first hidden in his own cavern, and then later transferred to the hill Moriah. .
2. The Book of Mormon story states that the plates were first kept in a hill called Shim, then transferred to the hill Cumorah.
1. King Solomon allows only a few to see the treasure.
2. Smith allows only a few to see the plates.
1. Enoch's cavern is covered by a large stone with an iron ring.
2. Smith earlier claimed the plates were in an iron box, but later said it was stone.
1. Enoch is called by God to preserve the knowledge of the treasure.
2. Smith is called by God to preserve the knowledge of the plates.
1. King Solomon changes the status of his underground cavern from secret to sacred.
2. The Mormon temple ceremony is declared not to be secret, but sacred.
| What comes to mind when people think of Mormons? Many of us envision clean-cut young adults riding bicycles or knocking on doors. That’s because Mormons between the ages of 19 to 25 are encouraged to go on a fulltime, two year mission. During this mission these young adults follow a rigid schedule, sharing
“…the most important message that can go out to the world today…”
this message includes accounts of Joseph Smith’s visions and heavenly visitations leading up to the discovery of the Book of Mormon; which Mormons claim is,
“the keystone of our religion.”
Book of Mormon Story:
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claimed that in 1823 he experienced a heavenly visitation in which he was directed to a hill in Western New York to uncover a stone box containing “a sacred record which was written on plates of gold.” Four years later, in 1827, an angel allegedly allowed Smith to take possession of the plates, along with a special set of glasses to translate the mysterious ancient language into English. Smith claimed that what he unearthed from the hill Cumorah was a record written by the former inhabitants of America entitled the Book of Mormon.
In the Book of Mormon, a story is told of a Hebrew family that flees the city of Jerusalem about 600 B.C. Their father's name is Lehi, an alleged descendant of the Bible’s Joseph. Lehi's son Nephi was his most righteous son. Nephi became the leader over his rebellious brothers.
God instructed Lehi and his family to sail across the ocean to the American continent about 589 B.C. After arriving, Nephi and his oldest brother Laman had a conflict and separated. This conflict created two nations; the Nephites and the Lamanites.
The Nephites had God's favor, they are described as being:
“white and exceedingly fair and delightsome” (2 Nephi 5:21).
The Lamanites supposedly were cursed to have black skin and were primitive compared to the Nephites. These two nations fought against each other, on and off, for centuries.
Eventually, the prophet Mormon became the leader of the Nephites. Mormon desired that the entire Nephite nation should gather near the hill Cumorah in Western New York to battle the Lamanites:
"… I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle. And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites did grant unto me the thing which I desired." (Mormon, 6:2-3)
In this battle, the Nephite nation was destroyed. Yet, Mormon’s son Moroni lived. Moroni then engraved an account of the battle on gold plates and buried those plates, along with other plates, which his father had previously buried in the hill.
Several things seem wrong with this story:
? Mormon desired to have every single one of his subjects (men, women, and children) fight in a final battle. His request brought about the annihilation of the entire Nephite nation. If this story is true, Mormon's call to battle is one of the biggest military blunders of all time. Let's try to imagine the Bible's King Solomon requesting a battle which ends up wiping out the nation of Israel; if Solomon had done so, how many people would consider him a wise man?
? Also, it’s hard to imagine how the Nephites, who had migrated throughout America, could be summoned to battle. For example: How would all the Nephites get the message?
? Logistically, it would seem impossible for every Nephite family in America to battle the Lamanites, on, and around, that small hill in New York. If these peoples were as numerous as the Book of Mormon claims they were, they could not have fit in that small section of New York.
? There is the story itself: of the Nephite nation being destroyed in a final battle. It provides readers with an answer as to why the primitive dark-skinned Lamanites (American Indians) were found in America when Columbus set foot on the Continent. Yet, this Book of Mormon story raises more questions than it answers; like, why would Mormon have the Nephites bring their “wives and their children” to battle?
According to the Book of Mormon, this was not the first time an entire nation fought in a single battle. About 515 years earlier there was another battle on that same hill. In this battle, the Jaredite nation consisting of the people of Coriantumr and the people of Shiz, is utterly destroyed:
Millions of the Jaredites are slain in battle–Shiz and Coriantumr assemble all the people to mortal combat–The Spirit of the Lord ceases to strive with them–The Jaredite nation is utterly destroyed–Only Coriantumr remains (Introduction to Ether 15).
Once again, gathering millions of Americans from every corner of the continent would have been nearly impossible. Obviously 2,600 years ago people couldn’t turn on the nightly news and learn about the call to go to war. There were no televisions; phones, or any other type of device that could have provided long distance communication.
Because horses weren't present in America until Cortes brought them over in 1519 A.D., messengers would have needed to traverse the American continent on foot in order to
“get all who were upon the face of the land.”
Then, everyone would have needed to walk to get to the battleground. Why would every family in America decide to go on such a laborious journey? The supposed influence which Coriantumr and Shiz had upon people seems far fetched. Why would families living hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from these two monarchs have such strong political ties to them?
Furthermore, there’s the food and supplies people would have needed for the trip. Can you imagine every family in America walking to New York, carrying with them extra clothes, cooking implements, food, and possibly weapons, for the great battle they were summoned to:
“And it came to pass that when they were all gathered together, every one to the army which he would, with their wives and their children–both men, women and children being armed with weapons of war, having shields, and breastplates, and head-plates, and being clothed after the manner of war–they did march forth one against another to battle; and they fought all that day, and conquered not.” (Ether 15:15)
Wives and children were also involved in this battle. This would answer why the entire Jaredite nation was destroyed. Yet, it doesn’t make much sense: can you imagine five-year-old boys and girls wearing body armor and being armed with weapons of war?
During the four years it supposedly took to gather everyone to combat, what if Coriantumr and Shiz had accidently started the battle a week or two too soon; leaving thousands of families still on the way. As far as the story goes, the timing of the battle was crucial. A four year build up to war would create some obvious problems: Why would families that showed up a few years, or even months early, wait around? Didn’t they have anything better to do? Also, what about the food and provisions needed to support all the people during the time this gathering was taking place?
Then, there is the battle itself, which would have been a bloodbath, seeing that millions were supposedly slaughtered on and around a hill. Walking to that scene would have meant that families waded through blood and stepped over countless dead bodies. It seems hard to believe, that no one, seeing that huge bloody mess didn’t make a decision to turn around and go home. Instead, every one of them decided to fight for the cause.
If the gathering over a span of four years of every family in America, and also the slaughter of every person gathered was not too hard to believe, what also seems strange is that out of the millions of people dying on the battlefield, the two monarchs who summoned the people to battle in the first place ended up being the only two left standing.
Then there is the account of how the monarch Shiz died:
“And it came to pass that after he [Coriantumr] had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he struggled for breath, he died.” (Ether 15:31)
Brigham Henry Roberts, who was an LDS General Authority and Assistant Church Historian, examined the literary style within the Book of Mormon and concluded:
“The narrative proceeds in characteristic disregard of conditions necessary to its reasonableness, as if it were a tale told by a child, with utter disregard for consistency."
The Record Gets Worse:
Smith claimed the angel Moroni told him that the American Indians living in his day “were the literal descendants of Abraham.”
On this subject, a noted Mormon Anthropologist maintains:
"I have serious problems with the Book of Mormon's representations of American Indians. Not only does it claim that Lamanites are the principle ancestors of American Indians, but throughout the text it repeatedly refers to them as Israelites, as descendants of Joseph; of descendants of the Biblical Patriarchs of Abraham. Those repeated references to an ancient Israelite connection have been clearly invalidated by scientific research…” (Thomas Murphy).
Joseph Smith claimed the Book of Mormon solved the mystery of who the American Indians are, and where they came from. It also reinforced the popular 19 Century belief that the American Indians had wiped out America's former inhabitants. (Please see the 4th part in this series: Those Mysterious Golden Plates for more information on this subject)
God, supposedly speaking through Smith, said in a revelation; or, as it was originally called, a “commandment:”
“…for this very purpose are these plates preserved which contain these records, that the promises of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to his people; and that the Lamanites (American Indians) might come to the knowledge of their fathers, and that they might know the promises of the Lord, and that they may believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ…” (1833 Book of Commandments, 2:6)
The title page of the 1830 Book of Mormon reads:
“Wherefore it is an abridgement of the Record of the People of Nephi; and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the House of Israel…”
In 1834, after some of Smith’s followers unearthed a skeleton from an Indian burial mound in Illinois, Smith said that God showed him the Indian bones were from,
“an officer who fell in battle, in the last destruction among the Lamanites, and his name was Zelph.”
Because the buried man’s skeleton was almost intact, Smith was saying that descendants of Book of Mormon peoples were living, battling, and dying in Illinois in recent history.
However, DNA evidence clearly demonstrates that Native American peoples – the Indians – did not originate from the House of Israel; therefore, they cannot be the Lamanites from the Book of Mormon. Is this the reason Mormon leaders decided to change the introduction to the Book of Mormon?
Mark Tuttle, LDS Church spokesperson in the Salt Lake Tribune said,
"A one-word change was made to the introduction in the latest edition of the Book of Mormon… That change takes into account details of Book of Mormon demography, which are not known." (Church Announces Change in Book of Mormon Intro By Valerie Fry - 13 Nov 2007, BYU Newsletter, Universe - BYU Education)
The introduction previously said that the Lamanites "are the principal ancestors of the American Indians." The new (2008) edition claims that the Lamanites "are among the principal ancestors of the American Indians."
The passage in question is not part of the Book of Mormon itself; it is in the introduction which Bruce R. McConkie wrote in 1981. Yet, it clearly shows a change from what the Church had claimed since it was founded in 1830.
Missing Archeological Evidence:
The Book of Mormon has America’s ancient peoples shooting arrows, brandishing axes, and scalping each other. It has a soldier talking about an Indian Chief. It has Indians riding horses. Some of these details are to be expected from America's past. Yet, there is absolutely no evidence to support horses and chariots existing in America during supposed Book of Mormon times.
The National Geographic Society,
“does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon."
The Smithsonian Institution reports,
“Smithsonian archeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.”
Why is it that archeologists have found "absolutely nothing" to point to the existence of civilizations mentioned in the Book of Mormon? Archeologists looking into the people and lands of the Bible, as well as other ancient civilizations, including those in North, Central, and South America, have found plenty of evidence that those civilizations existed, including pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican civilizations dating back to the same period mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon states:
“The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea” (Mormon 1:7).
If the Book of Mormon were true, we should expect to find remnants of these buildings across the American Continent. Yet, there is no archeological evidence to show that about 1,700 years ago, buildings covered America. Also, strictly from a logistical point of view, it would be impossible to cover “the whole face of the land” due to America’s diverse mountain terrains; desert regions, and forests.
Mormon leaders maintain,
“The Church emphasizes the doctrinal and historical value of the Book of Mormon, not its geography.”
They go on to say,
“…there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site.”
Dee F. Green, editor of the University Archaeological Society Newsletter said,
"The first myth we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists… no Book of Mormon location is known with reference to modern topography. Biblical archaeology can be studied because we do know where Jerusalem and Jericho were and are, but we do not know where Zarahemla and Bountiful were or are. It would seem then that a concentration on geography should be the first order of business, but we have already seen that twenty years of such an approach has left us empty-handed." (BYU Publication, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1969, pp. 77-78)
Missing archeological evidence is a real problem for Mormons; perhaps, that is why the LDS Church downplays its relevance:
“…the geography question has not been answered by church authorities, nor have the opinions worked out by geography hobbyists yet led to agreement. In 1947 it was still possible to hope that ‘out of the studies of faithful Latter-day Saints may yet come a unity of opinion concerning Book of Mormon geography’ as Elder Widtsoe put it. But in the half century since, confusion has grown.” (Does Geography in the Book of Mormon Matter?, Provo, Utah: BYU, Maxwell Institute)
Mormons are left with the daunting task of trying to convince investigators that 'the geography question' really doesn't matter.
Does This Sound Logical?
“There is a very fundamental reason why Book of Mormon archeology has not yet been discovered… If the Book of Mormon is accepted to be true as an act of the faith of the inquirer it will invite the witness of the Holy Spirit to reveal to the inquirer the KNOWLEDGE that the book is indeed true. That knowledge, inspired by faith, brings with it a commitment to obey the gospel principals that are announced and developed in the book. On the other hand, were it to be demonstrated to be true by scientific investigation it would merely join the ranks of all the other scientific literature, and carry with it no moral commitment of compliance with the principles reveal therein.” (askgramps.org, 2011)
The idea that God’s purpose for mankind is best fulfilled through a lack of Book of Mormon archeological evidence, gives comfort to many. Yet, this concept has drawbacks. For example: there are literally tons of artifacts to verify that people, places, and lands, mentioned in the Bible existed; because archeologists have found many ancient biblical cities. For example, we know where ancient Jerusalem was located, and the Temple spoken of in the gospels has been found; yet, it still requires faith to believe that Jesus lived, performed miracles, died on a cross, and then ascended up into heaven! Therefore, it stands to reason that what the Mormon apologist offered up for the reason why Book of Mormon artifacts have not been found is doubletalk.
Scholar, Seeker of Truth, and Regrettably, Finder of Truth:
Thomas Stuart Ferguson, a distinguished and devout Mormon archeologist, set out to prove to the world that the Book of Mormon was true. Ferguson thought it would be possible to find artifacts from archaeological digs that would confirm its truthfulness. All he had to do was use the Book of Mormon as a guide because it spells out a time when a people called the Nephites lived in the New World, and it mentions several Nephite cities by name, along with Nephite lands and villages. The Book of Mormon records that the Nephites constructed houses of cement, as well as temples, synagogues and sanctuaries throughout their territories.
Yet, with all of the digs and research Ferguson and his team undertook, they failed to find one artifact to prove that Book of Mormon Nephite cities, villages, or territories ever existed.
After twenty-five years of research, Ferguson concluded:
"…you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere, because it is fictional...”
Ferguson, whose original goal was to prove to the world that the Book of Mormon was true, eventually lost faith in the Book of Mormon.
Yet Ferguson had reasons why he never left the LDS Church. Here is a letter he wrote to an associate about his decision to stay with Mormonism:
"Perhaps you and I have been spoofed by Joseph Smith. Now that we have the inside dope–why not spoof a little back and stay aboard? Please consider this letter confidential–for obvious reasons. I want to stay aboard the good ship, Mormonism–for various reasons that I think valid. First, several of my dearly loved family members want desperately to believe and do believe it and they each need it. It does them far more good than harm. Belonging, with my eyes wide open is actually fun… I never get up and bear testimony... You might give my suggestions a trial run.
Ferguson felt that revealing the truth about the Book of Mormon to his dearly beloved family would be bad for them. This type of reasoning reminds me of a quote from Herbert Spencer, who was a 19th Century philosopher:
“The greatest of all infidelities is the fear that the truth will be bad.”
The word infidelities means: “absence of religious belief.” What greater “absence of religious belief” could one possibly have, than to fear that “the truth will be bad?” True religion is all about truth. If the truth might, or will be bad for people, then something is seriously wrong with their faith!
Fast and Testimony Meetings:
Possibly the reason Mormons have testimonies is because from the first moment they encounter the LDS Church, they are taught, and also encouraged, to give testimonies. Children are trained to bear testimony from a very young age.
Usually once a month, on the first Sunday of each month, a Fast and Testimony Meeting is held. During these meetings, faithful members of the Church are invited to bear a verbal witness of their feelings. New converts are often encouraged to give a pure testimony, such as:
"’I know the church is true.’ ‘I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.’ And, or, ‘I know the Book of Mormon is true.’"
“A personal testimony is fundamental to our faith. Consequently, the things we must do to acquire, strengthen, and retain a testimony are vital to our spiritual life.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Testimony,” Ensign, May 2008, 26–29)
The most common testimony Mormon missionaries share is called the “burning in the bosom.” Mormons are taught that if people ask if something is true, with a sincere heart, with real intent, and having faith in Christ, God will cause their bosom to burn as a confirming sign.
Mormons often encourage potential converts to ask God about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and to look for this sign confirming it. The implication is, if the seeker does not get the burning bosom experience, then he or she was not sincere, lacked faith, or possibly did not show real intent.
In Mormon ideology, if one doesn’t have a testimony yet, one can get a testimony by bearing one. Mormons often find that their testimony gets stronger each time they bear it; but, is confessing faith in something over and over again, until people firmly believe in it, really the way to determine truth?
This Mormon principle has encouraged untold numbers of new converts and other faithful Mormons to testify that they are strong in the Mormon faith, when in reality, they still have doubts.
The very fact that Mormons get together, bearing and listening to testimonies, such as,
“I know the Book of Mormon is true,”
points to the possibility that they need more convincing themselves.
Other parts in the series:
? Joseph Smith's First Vision
? Joseph Smith on Trial
? Those Mysterious Golden Plates
 Young women who choose to enter the mission field serve 18 months.
 “If heavenly messengers (prophets who have lived upon this earth) have visited this earth in this dispensation, bringing messages from God, as claimed by the Prophet Joseph Smith, then we have the most important message that can go out to the world today…” (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Deseret Book, 1979, LeGrand Richard p.5)
THE BOOK OF MORMON:
AN ACCOUNT WRITTEN BY THE HAND OF MORMON UPON PLATES TAKEN FROM THE PLATES OF NEPHI.
Wherefore it is an abridgment of the Record of the People of Nephi; and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile; written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of Prophesy and Revelation. Written, and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed; to come forth by the gift and power of God, unto the interpretation thereof; sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of God; an abridgement taken from the Book of Ether… (1830 Book of Mormon, title page)
 “There are three great reasons why Latter-day Saints should make the study of the Book of Mormon a lifetime pursuit.
The first is that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. This was the Prophet Joseph Smith’s statement. He testified that “the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon). A keystone is the central stone in an arch. It holds all the other stones in place, and if removed, the arch crumbles.
There are three ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It is the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of testimony.
The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the cornerstone of everything we do. It bears witness of His reality with power and clarity. Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon–Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov 1986, 4)
 “He [Moroni] told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the indians were the literal descendants of Abraham…” (Joseph Smith Journal, November 9, 1835; cited in Dean C. Jesse, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Richard L. Jensen, eds., The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals Volume 1:1832-1839 (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2008), 88-89)
 When Joseph returned with the horse and carriage, he exclaimed, “It is ten times better than expected… Then he went on to tell the length and width and thickness of the plates’ and said, ‘they appear to be Gold…' But he seemed to think more of the glasses… [Joseph Smith said] ‘I can see anything; they are Marvelus (sic).’” (Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History, LDS publication, BYU Studies, 1976, by Dean Jessee)
 (Verse 32) “And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.
(Verse 33) And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.
(Verse 34) But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof.” (Mormon, p:32-34)
 “…the title page of the Book of Mormon ‘is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf’ [of the golden plates].” (Joseph Smith, History of Joseph Smith,” Times and Seasons 3, Oct. 15, 1842).
 "The Nephites gather to the land of Cumorah for the final battles–Mormon hides the sacred records in the hill Cumorah–The Lamanites are victorious, and the Nephite nation is destroyed–Hundreds of thousands are slain with the sword. [A.D. 385]" (Introduction to Words of Mormon, Chapter 6)
 “And behold, ye shall take the plates of Nephi unto yourself, and the remainder shall ye leave in the place where they are; and ye shall engrave on the plates of Nephi all the things that ye have observed concerning this people.” (Words of Mormon 1:4).
 “And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them.” (Mormon, 6:7)
 “And it came to pass that the army of Coriantumr did pitch their tents by the hill Ramah; and it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord, which were sacred.” (Ether 15:11) On this subject LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said "both the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations fought their final great wars of extinction at and near the Hill Cumorah (or Ramah as the Jaredites termed it), which hill is located between Palmyra and Manchester in the western part of the state of New York. It was here that Moroni hid up the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated." (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 175)
 "He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children." (Ether 15:2)
 Some Mormon apologists speculate that horses mentioned in the Book of Mormon may have actually been the Central American Tapir, or possibly deer: Alma 18: 9, Alma 18: 12, Alma 20: 6, 3 Ne. 3: 22
 “Wherefore, they were for the space of four years gathering together the people, that they might get all who were upon the face of the land, and that they might receive all the strength which it was possible that they could receive.” (Ether 15:14)
 (Roberts 1985, p. 251: From Robert’s own writings in his landmark work: Studies of the Book of Mormon; which remained unpublished until decades after his death).
 “…he [Moroni] said the Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham.”(J.S. Diary 1835-1836, pg. 76)
 In an interview on Jan. 14, 2003, Murphy acknowledged that he's not an active member of the church anymore. "I'm a cultural Mormon," he explained. "I prefer to be called a latter-day skeptic."
 "It was made known to Joseph that he had been an officer who fell in battle, in the last destruction among the Lamanites, and his name was Zelph. This caused us to rejoice much, to think that God was so mindful of us as to show these things to his servant. Brother Joseph had enquired of the Lord and it was made known in a vision." (Kimball 1841)
 "At about one foot deep we discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire; and between two of his ribs we found an Indian arrow, which had evidently been the cause of his death. We took the leg and thigh bones and carried them along with us to Clay county. All four appeared sound."(Kimbal 1841)
 “...their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.” (2 Nephi 12:7)
 "Thank you for contacting the National Geographic Society. Our position on the Book of Mormon has not changed, nor have we retracted any statements made previously. The National Geographic Society has not examined the historical claims of the Book of Mormon. We know of no archaeological evidence that corroborates the ancient history of the Western Hemisphere as presented in the Book of Mormon, nor are we aware of empirical verification of the places named in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is clearly a work of great spiritual power; millions have read and revered its words, first published by Joseph Smith in 1830. Yet Smith's narration is not generally taken as a scientific source for the history of the Americas. Archaeologists and other scholars have long probed the hemisphere's past, and the Society does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon. In fact, students of prehistoric America by and large conclude that the New World's earliest inhabitants arrived fromAsia via the Bering land bridge. (Lower sea levels during ice ages exposed the continental shelf beneath Bering Strait, allowing generations of ancient Siberians to migrate east.) National Geographic carried "The First Americans" in its September 1979 issue, perhaps on your library's shelf… Sincerely, Lisa Walker" (Research Correspondence (The National Geographic's Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon Received via Email 1/21/2001)
 (The Smithsonian Institution statement on The Book of Mormon)
 In 1973, Michael Coe, one of the best known authorities on archaeology of the New World, wrote an article for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1973. After telling of the Mormon belief in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, he frankly stated: "Let me now state uncategorically that as far as I know there is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing the foregoing to be true,... nothing, absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon... is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our hemisphere." (pp.42, 46)
 The Olmec civilization – 1,200 – 400 BC – flourished on the gulf coast of Mexico, and constructed the first pyramids in the North American continent as well as the big stone 'baby-faced' head monuments. The ancient Maya Civilization occupied much of the central North American continent based on the gulf coast of what is now Mexico between 2500 BC and AD 1500, and are known for their amazing complex artwork, particularly murals, and graceful pyramids. The capital city of the Zapotec Civilization – 500 BC – 750 AD is Monte Alban in the valley of Oaxaca in central Mexico. Monte Alban is one of the most intensively studied archaeological sites in the Americas, The Inca civilization was the largest civilization in the Americas when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the early 16th century. The Mississippian culture is a term used by archaeologists to refer to cultures inhabiting the length of the Mississippi River, The Aztec civilization was at the height of their power and influence when the Spanish arrived. Warlike, intractable, and aggressive, the Aztecs conquered much of Central America.
 Pre-Classic–Maya, Olmec and Zapotec civilizations flourished during the approximate period that events spoken of in the Book of Mormon are said to have occurred.
 (Office of the First Presidency, April 12, 1993)
 (Office of the First Presidency, April 12, 1993)
 “No reputable Egyptologist or other specialist on Old World archeology, and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archeological remains in Mexico and archeological remains in Egypt. Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World in pre-Columbian contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines, and sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492 …” (The Smithsonian Institution statement on The Book of Mormon)
 “While there is no archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon's claim that there were Nephites in the New World, the existence of the Israelites in the Holy Land is verified by a great deal of evidence. The "earliest archaeological reference to the people of Israel" is a stele of the Egyptian ruler Merneptah, dated about 1220 B.C. Many ancient inscriptions mentioning the Israelites have been found, and some inscriptions even give the names of kings or other people mentioned in the Bible. The New Testament mentions a number of rulers that are known to have lived around the time of Christ. The fact that the Jews were in Palestine at the time the Bible indicates is proven by hundreds of ancient Hebrew inscriptions. Portions of every book of the Old Testament, except for the book Esther, have also been found in the manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. When we turn to the Book of Mormon, however, we are unable to find any evidence at all that the Nephites ever existed.” (Testing the Book ofMormon, Utah Lighthouse tract)
 "I cheerfully admit, and routinely say, that Mormonism has not proven its claims. I don't think it's supposed to do so, either..." (BYU Professor, Daniel C. Peterson)
 In a paper entitled, "Thomas Stuart Ferguson, 1915-83," Fred W. Nelson wrote the following: "Thomas Ferguson has either directly or indirectly influenced thousands of people's thinking on archaeology.... He has had a great influence on professional archaeology through the Department of Archaeology at Brigham Young University, the Gates Collection, and the New World Archaeological Foundation.... Ferguson's legacy in the founding of the Archaeology Department at Brigham Young University, the obtaining of the Gates Collection, and as founder of the New World Archaeology Foundation stands as a shining example to us all." (As cited in The Messiah in Ancient America, pp. 282-83)
City of Ammonihah, Wicked Nephite City, 'Desolation of Nehors'
City of Bountiful, Major Nephite city in the northeastern quadrant
City by the Sea, Nephite city on the west coast
City of Cumeni, Nephite city fought for by Helaman
City of Desolation, Northern Nephite City
City of Jordan, Nephite retreat maintained by Mormon
City of Judea, Nephite city
City of and Land of Moroni, In southeast of Nephite lands
City of Moronihah, Iniquitous Nephite city
City of Mulek, Nephite city south of Bountiful
City of Nephihah, Nephite refuge captured and lost by the Lamanites
City of Omner, Nephite city by seashore on east borders
City of and Land of Shem2, Nephite land north of Antum and Jashon
City of Zarahemla, Major capital of Nephites from about 200 B.C. to A.D. 200
City of Zeezrom, Nephite city on southwest frontier
 “Many Nephites migrate to the land northward–They build houses of cement and keep many records–Tens of thousands are converted and baptized–The word of God leads men to salvation–Nephi the son of Helaman fills the judgment seat. Between 49 and 39 B.C.” (Introduction to the Book of Helaman 3).
 “But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account of the Lamanites and of the Nephites, and their wars, and contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries, and their righteousness, and their wickedness, and their murders, and their robbings, and their plundering, and all manner of abominations and whoredoms, cannot be contained in this work.” (Helaman 3:14)
 Thomas Stuart Ferguson was, at one time, one of the most noted defenders of Book of Mormon archaeology. Mr. Ferguson planned the New World Archaeological Foundation which he hoped would prove the Book of Mormon through archaeological research. The Mormon Church granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to this organization, but in the end, Thomas Stuart Ferguson admitted that although the Foundation made some important contributions to New World archaeology, all his work with regard to the Book of Mormon was in vain. He admitted, in fact, that he had wasted twenty-five years of his life trying to prove the Book of Mormon. In 1975 Ferguson prepared a 29-page paper in which he wrote: "I'm afraid that up to this point, I must agree with Dee Green, who has told us that to date there is no Book-of-Mormon geography." In a letter to Mr. and Mrs. H.W. Lawrence, dated Feb. 20, 1976, Thomas Stuart Ferguson plainly stated: "…you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere - because it is fictional and will nevermeet the requirements of the dirt-archeology."
 In a letter to Mormon President David O. McKay, dated Dec. 14, 1951, Ferguson wrote: "If the anticipated evidences confirming the Book of Mormon are found, worldwide notice will be given to the restored gospel through the Book of Mormon. The artifacts will speak eloquently from the dust." (The Messiah in Ancient America, p. 257)
 (Letter from Thomas Stuart Ferguson to Mr. and Mrs. H. W. Lawrence, dated Feb. 20, 1976)
 “Our individual, personal testimonies are based on the witness of the Spirit, not on any combination or accumulation of historical facts.” (Dallin H. Oaks, Doctrine and Covenants Conference, Brigham Young University, Aug. 16, 1985)
 “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right” (Doctrine and Covenants, 9:8).
 “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Book of Mormon, Moroni, 10:4).
 “We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it. …some testimonies are better gained on the feet bearing them than on the knees praying for them." (Dallin H. Oaks, “Testimony,” Ensign, May 2008, 26–29)
| Where the BofM imaginary stories allegedly occurred is becoming divisive among some LDS members. It used to be commonly claimed that the BofM encompassed the entire western hemisphere of both North and South America, with Cumorah in New York being the location of the final battle.
Today there are two major geographical ideas. The first is that all of the BofM events played out in a very limited region of Meso-America. This requires two hill Cumorahs, one in Meso-America where the events happened and the second one in New York where the plates were buried.
The other idea is known as the Heartland theory. It proposes that the BofM events played out in the region of the United States, with only one hill Cumorah for the final battle at the same location where Joseph Smith claimed to have found the gold plates.
Instead of examining which of these geographical theories might or might not fit the BofM and early LDS writings, lets consider how neither can possibly agree with reality, based on what is now known about the development of agriculture, metallurgy and civilization in both North and South America.
Mormon ideas and manure
The BofM describes the peopling of America beginning about 2200 BC with the Tower of Babel and the Jaradites. It says they used watertight barges made of wood. The story includes magic glowing stones for light inside these windowless submarines.
Agricultural seeds, honey bees and flocks of animals from the Near East were transported to America. They also brought plants used for livestock feed. It does not say what these plants and animals were but the BofM claims that after their arrival in America, the Jaradites lived with elephants, horses, swine, sheep, cattle and asses.
The fictional people from Lehi began around 600 BC in Israel and they too made a transoceanic crossing. This group mentions seeds and grains including barley and wheat in America as well as horses and chariots, iron, copper, brass, steel, gold and silver.
A third group also came from Jerusalem to America approximately 580 BC. They are commonly called the Mulekites. These were the people who encountered the last surviving Jaradite. The Mulekites became assimilated with the people of Lehi.
Great civilizations were from these people, based on agriculture, livestock and metallurgy. Full scale warfare also happened, bringing the destruction of these civilizations.
The BofM "prophesied" that after the Europeans were to arrive beginning with Columbus, America's indigenous people would be driven, scattered and destroyed, but not all of them. They would eventually "blossom as the rose" and be restored from their devolved and degenerate condition to their former Christian state of advanced civilization. They would be nurtured and carried by the "gentiles" until then, meaning the European colonizers of the Americas would be "nursing fathers and mothers".
The BofM is supposedly written for the descendants of these fallen and depraved people, so that they will know their real ancestors, will become LDS and be restored to their place in "the Lord's true church".
Mormonism teaches that the second coming of Jesus will not happen until after America's indigenous people have become righteous and respected.
The LDS had commonly thought that all of America's indigenous people came from the Near East, as written in the BofM. Many mormon scholars made allowance for "others" like the Mulekites, that came from Israel but whose records have not been revealed yet.
Since 2007 the meaning of "others" has been expanded. Mormon apologists now include descendants of ice-age people who crossed Beringia more than 10,000 years ago. They use these people who originated before Adam and Eve to explain the failure to find DNA signatures from the Near East.
The popular consensus among apologists is that DNA haplotypes from the fertile crescent have been diluted into a mass population of people whose ancestors anciently migrated into America out of Asia long before the Biblical timeline, even before Adam and Eve.
At the end of the day, all of these mormon ideas will turn a person's thoughts into manure. Even worse, an entire group of living people are degraded by this fictional pseudo-history.
The unique accomplishments and contributions to the world from America's first inhabitants are often ignored by LDS people if things are not in the BofM. If any accomplishments are acknowledged, they are falsely credited to people from the fertile crescent. This is a very harmful aspect of the BofM. The highjacking of culture and history in the name of a fraudulent religion that began in the 19th century needs to end.
Let's examine some of the most significant accomplishments made by America's indigenous people. These are things that get ignored because the facts do not fit the BofM religious myths.
To believe the BofM, one would conclude that Old World seeds, crops and animals were brought to America but disappeared before Columbus. Many LDS have reasoned that because the people turned against the God of the Bible and killed each other, they destroyed their own civilizations and caused their animals and crops to die off and disappear.
The reality is that agriculture developed independently in different parts of the world. For example, there is no book translated from magic golden plates describing people from Jerusalem taking seeds and knowledge into ancient China, teaching people there how to plant and grow crops. Plant domestications happened without the need for outsiders to bring an "advanced" method.
Independent plant domestication happened in South America, Meso-America and in Eastern North America, without cultural diffusion between these regions. It does not support the BofM fictional claim of Near Eastern domesticated plants brought to America and grown. Because indigenous American plants were domesticated in numerous locations without influence from other regions, none of the BofM geography models agree with agricultural reality.
The truth is that more than half of all the world's crops now in cultivation were first domesticated in the Americas long before the time periods alleged in the BofM stories. America's indigenous people have contributed more than 300 food crops to the world.
Until Columbus arrived, these plants were unknown to the rest of the world: avocados, lima beans, kidney beans, shell beans, string beans etc., chocolate, cassava, chicle, chilies, corn, hickory nuts, jicama, maple syrup, manioc, papayas, peanuts, pecans, peppers, persimmons, pineapples, potatoes, pumpkins, squashes, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, tapioca, tomatoes, vanilla and long-fiber cotton.
America's indigenous people were not only sophisticated botanists, they developed new types of corn through hybridization. They learned to plant corn, beans and squash together to reduce plant loss to insects. This ancient technique known as the three sisters is still used today, minimizing soil depletion and overuse of pesticides.
They developed irrigation and water conservation. They also domesticated alpaca, dogs, ducks, guineas pigs, honey bees, llama, turkeys and vicuna.
Some of the most important crops in the world today are corn, potatoes, manioc (a staple in parts of Africa) and the American sweet potato.
In the 21st century, a new food crop is being studied by NASA for long term space travel. It is none other than an ancient domesticated American plant called Chenopodium quinoa. It had been a staple of the Inca Empire for many centuries.
None of these plants or animals are mentioned in the BofM, and no BofM prophet predicted the agricultural contributions to the world that America's people would make. Instead, the mormon scriptures tell of a fallen and immoral people who needed the true church of the mormons to raise them back up before the second coming of christ.
The reality is that the world owes a debt of gratitude to America's indigenous people for their agricultural achievements.
Now let's examine some accomplishments that are acknowledged but wrongly attributed to people from the Near East.
One of the oldest European ideas is that human progress is marked by when stone and metals were used. Christians tied it to the Bible, beginning with Adam about 6,000 years ago.
The stone, bronze and iron ages became theories in archaeology. It was thought that superior people first left the stone age and used metals. These same ones also invented agriculture, domesticated animals and used iron and wheels. Christians claimed that it all began in the Bible lands of the Fertile Crescent and then spread to the rest of the world. Scientists are now discovering how wrong these ideas have been.
People have been mining and cold working copper in the Great Lakes basin of North America for 7,000 years. They were doing this in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin before God made Adam and Eve according to the Bible. They used the copper for ornaments and trade items before they developed agriculture and domesticated crops. Archaeologists used to think that metal work only happened after civilizations began in the Near East.
Great Lakes copper is very pure. They did not melt it for casting in molds because it was easily shaped cold or by heating without needing to melt it.
South America worked with copper too. Because it is not as pure as in the Great Lakes region, Andean people discovered the process of smelting 4,000 years ago to separate the copper from the rock, as well as working with gold and silver. Archaeologists now know that many people throughout the world independently learned how to smelt. America did it without needing anyone from anywhere else in the world coming to them to teach them how.
By 400 AD the people in South America were making bronze. Andean mariners traded their metal work up and down the western coast and about 800 AD they taught the people of western Mexico how to smelt.
Mormon apologists and writers are quick to point out that metal was worked in the Americas, but this is often used to argue that the making of the gold plates was not impossible. Some writers suggest that the use of metal in America might be evidence that people from the Near East brought that art and knowledge to America.
Take a serious look at the timelines of the BofM compared to reality. Copper work in North America was being done even before the time of Adam and Eve. Copper smelting in South America happened before Lehi, but bronze was not made until nearly the end of the BofM stories and was not in the popular geography of Meso-America until long after the fictional stories had ended.
Consider the apologist's geography theories. No smelting was done in the region of the United States. So much for the heartland theory. Likewise, smelting and bronze making was not done in the region of Meso-America until nearly 400 years after the gold plates were allegedly buried and the civilization of Nephites destroyed. The Limited Geography Theory is not supported with metallurgy.
Ancient American metal work does not fit in with the BofM stories of fantasy, while reality does not get talked about when it does not support the BofM.
Writing is found in Meso-America. Pictographs expressed meaning and many were adapted to denote sound values. Apologists have grabbed onto this as evidence to support the BofM. But this is how writing independently began in all other places in the world that developed it.
Cuneiform record keeping began in Mesopotamia around 5000 years ago. It was later adapted for writing, then was replaced by the Phoenician alphabet beginning about 2,900 years ago.
There is something very unique in America that apologists rarely mention. Quipu were knotted cords of different colors that were used for record keeping in America, beginning at almost the same time that marks on clay tablets began in Mesopotamia.
A 4,600 year old quipu was found in South America which may be one of the earliest forms of communication in the world, roughly as old as the cuneiform of Mesopotamia.
America's people were doing the same thing as in Mesopotamia, but keeping records with knotted cords instead of marks on clay tablets. And they were doing this before the fictional Jaradites came. The quipu were also used for performing addition, subraction, multiplication and division, and as mnemonic devices, to help recall long passages of memorized material.
An elite class of people were taught to read and use the quipu. Ceremonies and gatherings were crucial because the record keepers shared information and history at these times. The Spanish considered the quipu to be idolatrous and destroyed many of them. They forbid ceremonies where information was shared. This was the same as destroying books.
Apologists promote the Mayan glyphs (which have no correspondence to BofM stories) while ignoring the quipu, a highly effective system for the Andean people and the Inca civilization. The earliest stages of record keeping in America happened before the BofM stories began, and in a geographical region outside of Meso-America. Imagine that!
Finally, let's examine accomplishments that happened after the final battle of fantasy in the BofM, after the people were supposedly reduced to barbarianism and wickedness and cursed for destroying god's people.
The BofM ends with descriptions of depraved and degenerate people who tortured and murdered each other, raped women and practiced cannabilism, even feeding women and children to their own husbands and fathers. It leaves the reader with the thought that America's indigenous people remained in that condition, waiting for the arrival of Columbus to bring the influence of Christianity. It leaves the reader thinking that the BofM and Joseph Smith were great things from God in order to improve America's indignous people.
LDS members might think they know the history of ancient America better because of the BofM, but how many mormons take an interest in real history and events between 421 AD and 1492? If America's people were truthfully described at the end of the BofM, it would seem that nothing of significance should have happened after Moroni buried the plates.
Some mormons might think that whatever happened during those centuries, it is not as important as what happened after God led Christian people to America beginning with Columbus. This is another harmful influence of mormonism. A writing of fiction causes otherwise reasonable people to think of human beings as degraded and with little accomplishment. It plants the idea that mormons hold the truth and can "save" these "depraved" ones.
America's indigenous people, these depraved and degenerate savages, were far more advanced in medicine and surgery than most people in the U.S. even know.
Scientists were collecting skulls to study the primitive races in America, and in the 1860s a very precise and neatly perforated prehistoric skull was found.
Ever since then, people have argued about what the holes were for. One of the most popular ideas is that the holes were made to let out demons.
It is now beginning to be realized that these holes were emergency surgery to remove shattered bone and clean out pooling blood after a blow to the head.
More trepanned skulls have been found in the Andean region of Peru than the rest of the world together. The skulls span two thousand years, from around 400 BC to AD 1500, showing improvements in surgical techniques and a remarkable increase in the survival of patients to a level that rivals that under today's surgeons.
In Europe and America in the 19th century and early 20th century, surgeons operating on the skull were lucky to save 25 per cent of patients. The Incas had a success rate of around 80 per cent, using stone age tools.
This was not in Meso-America or in the region of the United States, it was not in the locations of currently popular BofM geography models. The period after the BofM tales ended brought the most significant improvements in emergency medical surgeries and survival rates. The Andean people developed the methods into a medical art. This completely disagrees with the LDS stereotype of America's savage indigenous people after the final battle in the BofM.
The Mississippi and Ohio river valleys were the locations of ancient agriculture and cities. The Hopewell culture and Cahokia are some of the best examples.
Until La Salle's travels in the 1670s, no European had ever ventured into these areas.
Between 600 and 1400 AD, an ancient indigenous city was located near St. Louis. Today it is known as Cahokia. By the time La Salle visited it, it's glory had already faded nearly 300 years earlier.
A Catholic mission site was established at Cahokia in 1699. This was the first permanent European settlement on the Mississippi River, but the ancient city was not recognized or understood by the first Europeans.
In 1811 an American named Henry Brackenridge heard about some French monks living near large mounds. He visited them to see the ruins.
From a letter to Thomas Jefferson by Henry Brackenridge, July 25, 1813 -
"When I examined it in 1811, I was astonished that this stupendous monument of antiquity should have been unnoticed by any traveler"
The writers at that time did not know how recent or how old the ancient ruins were. Much was open to the imagination, and fiction such as the BofM was quite popular.
Monks Mound at Cahokia is the largest man-made earthen mound in North America. It is an echo of the most sophisticated prehistoric civilization north of Mexico. In 1250 AD the city was larger than London.
The people and culture of Cahokia had declined because of climate changes, but further to the south, de Vaca, de Sota and La Salle had seen many others still living the cultural ways as they had been in Cahokia before the mini ice-age began.
In the 1960s archaeologists discovered that the people of Cahokia had set up posts in circular arcs. These were used as a calendar to mark the solstice and perhaps the rising or setting of bright stars or constellations.
Today it is known as Woodhenge and had been built in the period from 900 to 1100 AD. One of the circles was 410 feet in diameter and had 48 posts. Each post was 15 to 20 inches in diameter and stood about 20 feet high.
The truth is quite different from mormon delusions of cursed dark skin people, depraved and wicked, killing and eating each other.
Mormon apostle Boyd K. Packer once stated "Some things that are true are not very useful." As an outsider to his faith, I can only see the harm that mormonism causes to all indigenous people in the Americas through the denigration of their history and culture.
Now apologists have created the MDL to defend their right to promote fiction no matter how harmful it is to America's first inhabitants. It seems the time is ripe for America's indigenous people, archaeologists, anthropologists, etc. to turn up the pressure in challenging the pseudo claims of mormonism.
| The Book of Mormon is scripture to members of the LDS church. They believe it is a true account of God's dealings with people in ancient America. It also talks about Columbus and Europeans coming to America. It teaches that God was with the Europeans and against the American Indian.
1 Nephi 13:
10 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren.
11 And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren.
12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.
13 And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.
14 And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.
15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.
A disturbing teaching is that bad things happened to the American Indian because they supposedly became even more filthy, loathsome and idolatrous after Moroni buried the gold plates. The Lord blessed the Europeans instead.
15 And also that the seed of this people may more fully believe his gospel, which shall go forth unto them from the Gentiles; for this people shall be scattered, and shall become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people, beyond the description of that which ever hath been amongst us, yea, even that which hath been among the Lamanites, and this because of their unbelief and idolatry.
19 And behold, the Lord hath reserved their blessings, which they might have received in the land, for the Gentiles who shall possess the land.
20 But behold, it shall come to pass that they shall be driven and scattered by the Gentiles; and after they have been driven and scattered by the Gentiles, behold, then will the Lord remember the covenant which he made unto Abraham and unto all the house of Israel.
Here is a little piece of history, one example of Book of Mormon "prophecies". Real settlers used the name of the God of the Bible to justify their actions.
The Mystic massacre happened in 1637. European colonists set fire to a wooden palisade village of Pequot Indians. Those who tried to escape were shot or cut down with swords. The men were away and it was mainly women, children and elderly that were attacked. Nearly everyone in village was killed. Wikipedia has some information about it.
Writings from people involved in the massacre can be read online:
John Mason praised the God of the Bible for the success in killing so many people.
"Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the place with dead bodies!"
"It was the Lord's doings, and it is marvellous in our Eyes! It is He that hath made his work wonderful, and therefore ought to be remembred."
John Underhill justified the killing of women and children in the name of the God of the Bible.
"Sometimes the scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents. Sometimes the case alters; but we will not dispute it now. We had sufficient light from the word of god for our proceedings."
The Indians that assisted the settlers in the massacre were horrified that so many were killed.
"Our Indians came to us, and much rejoiced at our victories, and greatly, admired the manner of Englishmen's fight, but cried Mach it, mach it; that is, It is naught, it is naught, because it is too furious, and slays too many men."
Mormons tell people to pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true. I cannot do this. I refuse to pray to a God who justifies the killing of women and children. Why would I wish to pray to know that these type of atrocities were the will of God? Why would I want to convince myself that God approves of murder? That I cannot do. Would anyone use the Book of Mormon and prayer to convince themselves that Jews deserved the Holocaust? The Book of Mormon has similar things about Jews. A disturbed mind could use it for that reason as well.
I cannot in good consience ask in prayer if the ancestors of the American Indian were degenerates that had turned wicked and fell from a civilized condition to become an idle, loathsome, dark, filthy and idolatrous people. To do so ignores all of the significant contributions to the world that a most remarkable people have made with agriculture, medicine, cultural beauty, music etc., things which are not even mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
| Why doesn't the LDS church use the JST over the KJV as their standard text for the Bible? Why should the most correct church on earth use a corrupted text as their standard text, when they have the corrected text at their disposal? (Also, it should be noted that the modern LDS Bible only incorporates about 1/3 of Joe's inspired version of the Bible.)
LDS scholar (no pun intended) Royal Skousen has spent over a decade working with the Original Manuscript and the Printers Manuscript of the Book of Mormon and has noted all of the variations that exist between them and the 1830 and all subsequent LDS and CofC editions of the BoM. One of his volumes of work is "Book of Mormon: the Earliest Text" which attempts to construct the earliest text of the Book of Mormon. However, his effort is not recommended as valid because his methodology was sloppy. He draws conclusions on many verses based upon his own conjecture without and manuscript support, as well as completely not even addressing misspelled words, misused words, and very poor grammar found consistently in the OM and PM and 1830. In fact, he simply corrects these latter problems without even the slightest manuscript support while at the same time not even acknowledging that he did such. Very sneaky and is far FAR from the original text.
If he were really trying to construct the earliest text he should have simply followed this approach: the 1830 edition is the standard text. Do any variations exist between the original text of the PM and the 1830? Then the PM is the earliest text. Do any variations exist between the OM and the PM or 1830? Then the OM is the earliest text. Done. Footnotes at the bottom.
And to answer the earlier question about the JST, the reason the LDS church never used that as the standard text is because the LDS church never had possession of the original text until a few decades ago. Therefore, they were always skeptical of the RLDS church's inspired version until they finally were allowed to see the text for themselves a few decades ago. Only Then did they start incorporating footnotes and addenda to their translation of the Bible. I guess all those profits, seers, and revelators missed that spiritually discerned memo.
| I don't know why the Lost 116 Pages don't get more voice on the Internet. It clearly shows Joseph lied.
In 1828, Martin Harris, acting as scribe for Joseph Smith, recorded the first 116 pages of The Book of Mormon. He asked permission of Joseph Smith to let him borrow these pages to take home with him so he could show them to his wife. Martin's wife was very skeptical and feared that her wealthy husband was being conned out of his money in order to get the Book of Mormon published for Joseph. Joseph inquired of the Lord to know if he might do as Martin Harris had requested, but was refused. Joseph inquired again, but received a second refusal. Still, Martin Harris persisted as before, and Joseph applied again, but the last answer was not like the two former ones. In this the Lord permitted Martin Harris to take the manuscript home with him. Three weeks later Mr. Harris returned to Joseph and told him that he had lost the 116 pages.
Joseph was very distraught over this, exclaiming "Oh, my God! All is lost! All is lost! What shall I do? I have sinned." It is widely believed that Martin Harris' wife had taken the pages. The reasoning was that if Joseph was indeed a prophet he could retranslate those same pages exactly as before and that would prove he was actually translating instead of just making up the Book of Mormon story as he dictated to Martin. Finally, Joseph inquired of the Lord as to what he should do; in response, he received a revelation, which is recorded in section 10 of the Doctrine and Covenants. He was told that he should not retranslate those lost pages because Satan's cunning plan was to have evil men alter the words in the original translation and wait until Joseph retranslated those pages. The evil men would then produce the original lost 116 pages with the alterations to prove that Joseph was a fraud.
God, of course, knew of Satan's eventual plan and had Nephi make two sets of plates that cover essentially the same material but written a little differently. Joseph was instructed to now translate from the large plates of Nephi, instead of the smaller, abridged plates of Nephi that he had translated from earlier. This way the same basic information that should be included in the Book of Mormon was there, but it would not be expected to match exactly the original lost 116 pages that were first translated by Joseph.
The official story taught and recorded by the church is nonsensical for the following reasons:
1. The evil men that were conspiring to alter the original documents could not have done so without it being very obvious that the original document was altered. When Martin Harris was scribing for Joseph, he didn't use a pencil and paper. Martin wrote with ink on foolscap. Any alteration would be very noticeable and not convincing to anyone.
In addition to the rubbing out of old words and rewriting of new words, the handwriting would have been different. Any rudimentary handwriting inspection would have determined that it had been altered, especially easy to determine given that the new handwriting would have occurred in the same spot as the rubbed-out and re-written words.
2. If the evil men, that were planning on changing the stolen 116 pages, thought their plan of changing some words from these pages would work to discredit Joseph, they would not have been completely foiled by Joseph translating from different plates to tell the first part of the Book of Mormon story. If they thought their alterations would have gone unnoticed then they would have still tried to alter the 116 pages to discredit his work.
For example, they could have changed some names of people or places or altered events that are central to the beginning of the Book of Mormon and thereby prove that Joseph's new translation was in error. If they really thought their alterations would have gone unnoticed they could have changed the names of Nephi's brothers or the cities they came from or many other items that would have been included in both sets of plates. But they never did this - why? If opponents of the Church really had the lost 116 pages as Joseph claimed, they would have resurfaced in some form to at least attempt to discredit Joseph, even if they would not have been successful.
3. The general belief at the time was that Martin Harris's wife burned the 116 pages. If she destroyed them, then this entire story is simply made up by Joseph Smith. But the prophet Joseph evidently was afraid she had not, but had secretly hidden them, for the purpose of entrapping him, should he ever attempt to reproduce the pages. If the work was really of God, the manuscript could be reproduced word for word without a mistake. If, however, Joseph created it himself, his memory would hardly be adequate to such a task, without numberless changes or verbal differences-and thus "give himself away," since he loudly professed to be all the time aided "by the gift and power of God." Since the lost pages never surfaced in any form, it is likely that they were destroyed immediately by Martin Harris's wife. Therefore, the entire story about someone altering pages is impossible and just made up by Joseph because he knew he could not reproduce those same pages as he was not really translating the Book of Mormon story.
4. It is convenient that the prophets of old just happened to make an extra set of plates 1500 years ago to cover this contingency, isn't it? Not only are the 116 pages lost, we have an explanation of how it was fixed right in the document itself written thousands of years before the event happened. For further details, see the following insightful essay: The Stolen Manuscript
It's hard to believe that Satan and some evil men were really behind the plot to steal the 116 pages. The stolen pages would have eventually come forth in probably a failed attempt to discredit Joseph. If nothing else they would have been worth a lot of money so we can't imagine why the evil men, if they existed, would not have used the pages to either try to discredit Smith, ransom them to Martin and Joseph or hold on to them to eventually sell them. The stolen pages wouldn't have simply been destroyed by men who went to such trouble to obtain them.
Instead it seems much more plausible that Martin Harris' wife had immediately destroyed the pages to defy her husband. If that's the case, is there any other reason why Joseph would make up the story about Satan's plan to discredit him? I haven't found any members that can explain Joseph's actions with a reasonable explanation.
To learn more about the Lost 116 Pages:
| Robert F. Smith's review of John S. Dinger, ed., Significant Textual Changes in the Book of Mormon: The First Printed Edition Compared to the Manuscripts and to the Subsequent Major LDS English Printed Editions (Salt Lake City: Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2013): with foreword by Stan Larson, is the latest piece to appear in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture. |
Smith opens his review, titled "If There Be Faults, They Be Faults of a Man," by briefly relating an experience of his, nearly 40 years ago, when he walked into Stan Larson's office at BYU and had a chance to look through Larson's newly printed master's thesis, "A Study of Some Textual Variations in the Book of Mormon Comparing the Original and the Printer's Manuscripts and the 1830, the 1837, and the 1840 Editions."
Side note: Smith does not mention that he apparently filed a complaint with BYU's accrediting agency in 1980 over the fact that BYU administrators had, by request of some General Authorities, placed restrictions on access to Larson's thesis (along with Rodney Turner's thesis on "The Position of Adam in Latter-day Saint Scripture and Theology" (1953) and Robert Woodford's dissertation, "The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants" (1974)). The BYU Board of Trustees responded to the complaint by "remov[ing] all restrictions so as to not jeopardize the university's accreditation" (Gary James Bergera and Ronald Priddis, Brigham Young University: A House of Faith [Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985], 73-74).
Smith notes that when he obtained a copy of Significant Textual Changes in the Book of Mormon, he was pleased to find that it featured "an authoritative and dependable foreword by Stan Larson." However, Smith refers to the foreword as "the only useful and dependable part of this book," i.e., "the book is rife with error and was not designed to be usable or accessible."
Smith faults the book for not including the chapters and verses of the Book of Mormon "familiar to most readers" ("without which," he asserts, "it is nearly impossible to find any given word or phrase") and writes that "one might have expected [Dinger] to have studied and mastered the [Royal] Skousen transcripts of the printer's manuscript and original manuscript." He adds that Dinger "might also have consulted the easily understood footnotes in my Book of Mormon Critical Text, 2nd ed., 3 vols. (Provo: FARMS, 1986-1987)." Smith says that "those resources could easily have prevented the plethora of errors generated by Dinger." (Royal Skousen reviewed the FARMS Book of Mormon Critical Text here.)
After providing a five-page list of what he calls "some representative examples" of errors, Smith concludes:
It is a worthy objective to provide this important text-critical information in a single volume. So it is a mystery why John Dinger painstakingly prepared and edited an expensive 452-page book without bothering to make it accurate and easily usable. Buyers may rightly be disappointed--and author and publisher be embarrassed--about the lack of professionalism in this enterprise. They will, hopefully, try again--but this time with a heavy dose of peer review.
Royal Skousen's review of Dinger's critical text is available here.
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