My Reply to FairMormon’s Response

 

 

Recently FairMormon has published a response to ‘A Letter to an Apostle’ on their website, www.Fairmormon.org.

The direct link is:

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Online_documents/A_Letter_to_an_Apostle

I think their comments have value even through they have chosen to present them in the form of a rebuttal rather than a conversation.

Nevertheless, in the interest of fairness and openness, I have added their confutations at the end of each of my interrogatives. I do so in the hope that this might help the reader by presenting another perspective as it is now clear that President Uchtdorf is unable or unwilling to tackle the thorny issues and difficult questions I have raised in my letter to him.

Unlike FairMormon’s site which disallows any opposing viewpoints I include them as I am searching for the truth, not pursuing an agenda.

I have put FairMormon’s commentaries in RED. 

FairMormon has chosen in many cases rather than address my specific questions to provide scores of links to previous generic apologies.

I have only responded to comments specific to my interrogatives.

FairMormon describes my letter to President Uchtdorf as,  “A Letter to an Apostle is an online document which is critical of Latter-day Saint truth claims.”

I would contend that my directness in asking WHY or discussing troubling and contridictory evidence associated with the Church’s history is not, as FairMormon suggests, prima facie evidence of criticism. I feel FairMormon is perhaps being a little thin-skinned and defensive here.

I will attempt to respond to each of FairMormon’s comments here, but I hope not in an hostile or unfriendly way. I accept that the nameless apologists at FairMormon are doing the best they can to defend their beliefs and the Church which has inculcated them. 

As I say in my letter to President Uchtdorf I have always found that, with very few exceptions, Latter-Day Saints are honest, sincere and decent people.  

I do not doubt that those volunteering their time and talents to FairMormon likely believe the things they have been taught. 

But ignorant fervor, or a strong, “testimony” should not be our standard. Romans Chapter 10, Verse 2 tells us, “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.”

I have been around long enough and have studied history and human nature long enough to feel that well-meaning zealots can do much harm. 

I would contend that FairMormon’s conclusions have been set before they have even given ear to any research or evidence and that, my friends, is intellectual dishonesty.

The other concern I have with FairMormon’s apologetic efforts, which follows from their Mormon mindset, is that feelings, always trump facts. FairMormon prefers to speak about possibilities than probabilities.

The publishing of  ‘A Letter to an Apostle’ is a result of my frustration at being unable to get straight answers from local Priesthood leaders or the Apostle Uchtdorf himself.

Unhappily, it seems that the comment by Uchtdorf’s secretary that I am, “asking the wrong people” extends to FairMormon as well.

It is obvious that FairMormon is preaching to the choir.  Their purpose is to justify any and all statements and actions taken by Church leaders past and present.

You will never hear FairMormon say, ‘that was a mistake,’ or ‘ Dallin Oaks is no expert in that area,’ rather they boldly dispense superficially plausible apologetic ‘snake oil,’ that is cheerfully swallowed by members just craving a cure for their bothersome cognitive dissonance. 

Therefore I will comment where I feel that FairMormon’s biases are too egregious to ignore or where they have failed to adequately deal with the real issues and not those of their own creation, or where they are simply being illogical or dishonest.

My standard is simply – what would a reasonable man or woman find more compelling – the evidence, facts and first-hand statements I have uncovered in my research or the best arguments rebuttals, and repudiations, the Mormon Church, and her apologists have proffered.

With this in mind, I have devised a rating system for LDS apologist’s responses based on Occam’s Razor.

As you are no doubt aware, Occam’s Razor (also Ockham’s Razor) or sometimes the “law of parsimony,” is a philosophical problem-solving principle first attributed to William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher.

His ‘law’ can be interpreted simply as ‘From among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.” It is the same principle taught in medical school, “when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras!”

One consequence of this methodology is the idea that the simplest or most obvious explanation of several competing ones, is the one that is most likely to be the true or at least the most correct – until proven otherwise.

My assessment of their apologetic responses are indicated in the graphic below is then:

occam

The reader should note that I raised a number of significant issues in my letter that FairMormon has chosen, for reasons best known to themselves, not to address in any way, including:

The Stagnation in the Church’s Growth
The Increasing Bureaucratization within the Church
The Leadership of the Church’s Lack of Discernment
The Church’s Ambiance on the ‘Becoming Gods’ business
The Church’s history of Racism
The Church’s LGBTQ Policies
The Role of Women in the Church
The Church’s Secrecy when it comes to its Finances

It is unfortunate that they have not even attempted to address these important issues. Nevertheless, let’s look at what they have responded to:

 

FairMormon’s Comment No. 1

“ABOUT THIS WORK

The text of the July 2013 version of the document is generally respectful in tone, significantly more so than the “Letter to a CES Director,” and generally covers much of the same material.”

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon says ‘2013’ but of course, it should read ‘2017,’ a simple mistake on FairMormon’s part, but this error, six words in, is a precursor to FairMormon’s inaccuracies further on in.

I agree my, ‘A Letter to an Apostle’ does hit on many of the concerns that Jeremy Runnells presented in his CES Letter. Perhaps this is evidence of the fact that the questions Mr. Runnells,’ myself and many others are raising are not being addressed, at least to the satisfaction of those of us raising them.

** Update FairMormon has now changed 2013 to 2017 **

 

FairMormon’s Comment No. 2

“Mockery comes into play, however, when the document relies heavily upon provocative images to illustrate the points that the author is making and generate emotional triggers, thus destroying any semblance of respectability. Given that the author complains at one point in his [Douglas’] document that the Church utilizes “bogus pictures and hangs misleading paintings,” the use of the artwork described below seems hypocritical.”

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

While my intent was, attention-getting not mockery, I think to apply the label ‘hypocrite’ is a little harsh and unfair in that the images I had chosen are largely metaphorical. For example, the picture of a wolf in sheep’s clothing is an altogether fitting metaphor for a false prophet. One the Lord used himself.

I would also caution FairMormon about bringing up the word respectability in any discussion concerning Joseph Smith. That is a rabbit hole you really don’t want to go down.

The Church’s continuing use of images portraying a squared-jawed Joseph Smith running his finger over reformed Egyptian characters on ‘Gold Plates’ as his faithful scribe seated across the table from him records the inspired words.

This is not metaphorical. This is misleading.

translation

Nevertheless, I can agree with FairMormon that some of the images used may act as emotional triggers or may be a little too provocative for some more sensitive members:

 

Image of a Nez Perce war chief riding a tapir.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I was unaware of the original source of the unaltered image, and while the altered version added a little humor to the preposterous suggestion that Book of Mormon horses may have been deer or tapirs, I have removed it

With regards to FairMormon’s contention that, “…despite the fact that no such apologetic claim (BOM horses being tapirs or deer) exists,” while I do agree it is a half-witted assertion, the two quotes below show this apologetic claim has certainly been made.

I think John L. Sorenson was the original ‘tapir whisperer,’ in 1984 he suggested the possibility of “loan-shifting” of the word “horse” to “deer” or “tapir.” Also in 1992, he wrote:

Is “horse” in the Book of Mormon merely a matter of labeling by analogy some other quadruped with the name Equus, the true horse, or does the scripture’s use of “horse” refer to the actual survival into very recent times of the American Pleistocene horse (Equus)? If, as most zoologists and paleontologists assume, Equus was absent from the New World during Book of Mormon times, could deer, tapir, or another quadruped have been termed “horse” by Joseph Smith in his translating?

John L. Sorenson, “Once More, The Horse,”Reexploring the Book of Mormon (1992).

As well, Dan Peterson has stated:

“it remains possible that the term horse in the Book of Mormon which, by the way, does not occur very often, and even then in rather puzzling contexts refers simply to deer or tapirs or similar quadrupeds thought by the Nephites to be analogous to the horse….”

Daniel C. Peterson, “Yet More Abuse of B. H. Roberts (Review of The Disappointment of B. H. Roberts: Five Questions That Forced a Mormon General Authority to Abandon the Book of Mormon),” FARMS Review of Books 9/1 (1997): 69–86

FairMormon is it now your contention that Dan Peterson is not now, nor ever was, an apologist for the LDS Church?

 

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

It was the Lord Himself that used this metaphor to caution His followers of liars that would take advantage of them by extending vain and false prophecies, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Jesus, Matthew 7:15). What a perfect metaphoric similitude for a man who gets rich off the backs of his followers, who procures, often through coercive means, a plethora of sexual partners, many of them mere children and then lies to his follows and his one legal wife about these ‘marriages.’  

Therefore in this case, even if it upsets FairMormon’s ‘tender sensibilities,’ it stays.

 

The Rape Victim?

“The rape victim – The author uses a stock photograph representing a rape victim (page 24 and 166) with a torn nightgown and a large bruise on her arm to illustrate his claim that Joseph Smith bragged that he had “whipped” seven men at once and again later when the author discusses “Joseph’s coercive stratagems,” the implication being that Joseph abused women.”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

The photo FairMormon refers to is an image licensed to me by BigStockPhoto and does not use the word ‘rape’ in its description as FairMormon incorrectly states, but I will concede that while it is thought-provoking, it is a little too stark for some members and I have removed it.

FairMormon claims that this photo was chosen, “to illustrate his (Douglas’) claim that Joseph Smith bragged that he had “whipped” seven men at once,

FairMormon however is confused here; as anyone reading my letter will see, this image was not used in the section on Smith’s bragging and self-aggrandizement. This photo was used only for the interrogatory, “Does Smith’s use of coercive stratagems to get girls and women to ‘marry’ and sleep with him show a lack of character or even common decency?”

Nonetheless, I think a solid case could be made that Joseph Smith did abuse women.  You are no doubt aware of the time when Emma discovered that sixteen-year-old Flora Woodworth was carrying a gold watch that Joseph had given her.

Emma realizing the implications demanded Flora return the watch. William Clayton, Smith’s secretary recorded in his journal that Smith told him that Emma wouldn’t stop complaining about it and he had to employ, “harsh measures” to stop her. Sounds a little like spousal abuse to me. Mind you this pales compared to some of the points I raise under the correct interrogative: Does Smith’s use of coercive stratagems to get girls and women to ‘marry’ and sleep with him show a lack of character or even common decency?

 

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

The author uses a picture from the 1969 movie “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” (pages 25 and 180) showing two couples in bed together when he discusses Joseph Smith, Emma Smith, William Law, and Jane Law.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Again, sense of humor. I have purchased the rights to this photo, it is apropos, and it stays.

Image of Joseph and Emma Smith with a
naked woman on the bed in the background
 

The image is used when the author discusses Fanny Alger (page 150).

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Agreed, accurate but not in the best of taste and it’s out.

 

Image of a young girl in a nightgown with an adult hand grasping her neck

 The author uses a stock photo of a young girl with an adult hand grasping her neck (page 154), listed on the web as “Oppressive man behind a female victim of domestic violence or abuse,” to illustrate Joseph Smith’s marriages to young women.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

The picture is of a young girl with an older man stroking her neck and as uncomfortable as it may make us, it fits the seduction of a 14-year-old girl by a 37-year-old man and it stays.

While FairMormon may find this acceptable and justifiable, the recent outrage over the alleged inappropriate behavior by Weinstein, Moore, Rose, O’Reilly, Louis C.K, Lauer, Spacey, and Mormon Rob Porter the American people do not.

 

FairMormon’s Comments on my questions relating to the Dearth of any Archaeological, Anthropological or Linguistic Evidence

 

FairMormon’s Comment No. 1

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR SPIN – THE AUTHOR, OR THE AUTHOR’S SOURCE, IS PROVIDING INFORMATION OR IDEAS IN A SLANTED WAY IN ORDER TO INSTILL A PARTICULAR ATTITUDE OR RESPONSE IN THE READER

Simply repeating assertions by ex-Mormons and critics of the Church that there is no evidence of the Book of Mormon does not make their assertions true. Those that look for such evidence can find it.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I disagree that questioning why, during the past six hundred years, we have not found any archaeological, anthropological or linguistic evidence to support the BOM narrative is propaganda or spin.

I presented a considerable number of comments from noted experts – Mormon and non-Mormon alike to substantiate this assertion.

FairMormon says, “Repeating the assertions that there is no evidence of the Book of Mormon does not make the assertion true,” Agreed, but also does it make it false.  

FairMormon’s failure to provide any meaningful affirmative evidence to the contrary would lead any reasonable person to conclude that there is likely none. All they can say is. “you can find it (evidence) if you look for it.”

Well I am looking where is this and why can you not be specific about what and where it is?

FairMormon please, if you have any evidence why do you not share it?

FairMormon cannot share it because it does not exist as I have rightfully stated.

FairMormon also goes on to suggest that it is the questioner’s lack of knowledge about a very specialized academic area that is the problem. They say that “Some people might suggest that finding the existence of horses or chariots would constitute proof for the Book of Mormon. This is doubtful. Finding such items would merely demonstrate that such things existed in the ancient New World, and while such discoveries may be consistent with the Book of Mormon, they hardly amount to ‘proof.’”

Well it would be a step in the right direction. Consistency is better than nothing which is all we have now. As it is, not only is there no proof, there is also no consistency.”

The apologist then goes on to do a little nonsensical dance around epigraphic and iconographic evidence which might have some relevance if there were either – there is not and FairMormon’s intent here is purely intended to obscure.

FairMormon in their unfamiliarity with logic or philosophy moves to that old chestnut, “The absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence,” which has an attractive ring to it, ignores the reality of negative evidence.

Negative evidence refers to evidence with a negative value, or null result equivalent to evidence of absence and can be used to deduce or infer the non-existence or non-presence of something.

If for example, a surgeon does not find a malignant tumor or any malignant cells in a patient this represents a null result (finding nothing) and is evidence of the absence of cancer, even though the physician has not actually detected anything per se. Such inductive reasoning is important in the world of science and our understanding of reality.

Unsubstantiated claims and statements such as, “Newer archaeological finds are generally consistent with the Book of Mormon record even if we are unable (as yet) to know the exact location of Book of Mormon cities,” are meaningless absent affirmative examples of such.

Where are these, “Newer archaeological finds.”

I have shown you mine, now show me yours!

I would suggest that a reasonable person would agree that FairMormon’s response earns them an ‘F.’

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FairMormon’s Comment No. 2

FairMormon’s response to: Would we not find some evidence of the battles in which supposedly more than 2 million soldiers died at the Hill Cumorah – bones, swords, armor, even hair.

“FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

The Book of Mormon text does not support the 110-foot tall hill in New York as being the “Cumorah” described in the Book of Mormon.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

How foolish of me to have assumed that the Hill Cumorah where the battles took place was the one in New York state. However, there are a few others, it would seem, that are also under this incorrect assumption, including:  Oliver Cowdery, Heber J. Grant, Martin Harris, Heber C. Kimball, J. Golden Kimball, Moroni, Orson Pratt, Parley P. Pratt, B. H. Roberts, Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith Jr., Joseph F. Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, Lucy Mack Smith, James E. Talmage, Wilford Woodruff and Brigham Young.

As well, in his comprehensive history of the church, Church Historian Elder B. H. Roberts wrote:

Encouraged by this repetition of the vision of the previous night, and strengthened by the assurances of his father that the visitation was of God, Joseph repaired that same day to the hill he had seen in vision, the place where the sacred record was concealed, some two miles distant from the Smith home. The hill is about four miles south of the town of Palmyra, in Wayne county. (sic) It stands on the east side of the Canandaigua road and is the most conspicuous landmark in all that section of New York. In the Book of Mormon, the hill is known as Ramah, and Cumorah, referred to more frequently, however, by the latter name.”

(B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Century 1, Brigham Young University Press, Vol. 1, 1965, pg. 75)

“This time it will have to do with so important a matter as a war of extinction of two peoples, the Nephites, and the Jaredites, on the self-same battle site, with the same ‘hill’ marking the axis of military movements. By the Nephites this ‘hill’ was called the ‘Hill Cumorah,’ by the Jaredites the ‘Hill Ramah’; it was that same ‘hill,’ in which the Nephite records were deposited by Mormon and Moroni, and from which Joseph Smith obtained the Book of Mormon, therefore the ‘Mormon Hill’, of today—since the coming forth of the Book of Mormon—near Palmyra, New York.

 (B.H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.277)

But even if it was some other hill in some other part of North or South America, is it not reasonable to expect that at least one sword, shield, a piece of armor, coin or human skeleton would have been unearthed during the six hundred years that have past since the first European occupation of the Western hemisphere?

Remember we are talking about battles where supposedly millions perished.

 

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FairMormon’s Comment No. 3

Is it not disconcerting that virtually every non-Mormon archaeologist, anthropologist or linguist and even some funded by the Mormon Church declare that there is no evidence to support the Book of Mormon narrative?

“FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR SPIN – THE AUTHOR, OR THE AUTHOR’S SOURCE, IS PROVIDING INFORMATION OR IDEAS IN A SLANTED WAY IN ORDER TO INSTILL A PARTICULAR ATTITUDE OR RESPONSE IN THE READER

Why would a non-Mormon archaeologist, anthropologist or linguist have any interesting in searching for any evidence proving the Book of Mormon? It should be obvious that any archaeologist, anthropologist or linguist interested in the subject would themselves be Mormon.”

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Really, does it follow then that  ‘it should be obvious’ that any historian interested in the Third Reich must be a Nazi or anyone studying serial killers ‘would themselves be’ one?  

What a ridiculous statement to make.

The point is that archaeologists, anthropologists or linguists need not be searching for evidence proving the Book of Mormon authenticity. The fact is that their broad research has simply not discovered any evidence consistent with, or in even in a tangential way supportive of, the Book of Mormon narrative.

I am sure that most, archaeologists, anthropologists, and linguists haven’t given a moment’s thought to the Book of Mormon or its claims. But, as my research shows, those who have, have spoken loudly against its claims.

These scholars don’t have any theological ax to grind. Their agenda is neither to defend or to attack the Book of Mormon. They are looking at data. And these data simply do not fit with the Book of Mormon story.

It seems to me that this, if anything,  lends an extra level of credibility to their work.

Again, I am being accused of, “slanting my comments in order to instill a particular attitude.” I think this is more defensiveness on FairMormon’s part than any intent on mine.

 

redd 

 

FairMormon’s Comment No. 4

Thomas Stuart Ferguson…had to admit that, ‘you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere – because it is fictional.’

Question: Was Thomas Stuart Ferguson an archaeologist?

Ferguson never studied archeology at a professional level – he was self-educated in that area.

“As John Sorensen (sic), who worked with Ferguson, recalled:

[Stan] Larson implies that Ferguson was one of the “scholars and intellectuals in the Church” and that “his study” was conducted along the lines of reliable scholarship in the “field of archaeology.” Those of us with personal experience with Ferguson and his thinking knew differently. He held an undergraduate law degree but never studied archaeology or related disciplines at a professional level…”

“Ferguson was never an expert on archaeology and the Book of Mormon (let alone on the book of Abraham, about which his knowledge was superficial)…”

Ferguson was never an expert on archaeology and the Book of Mormon (let alone on the book of Abraham, about which his knowledge was superficial). He was not one whose careful “study” led him to see greater[,] light, light that would free him from Latter-day Saint dogma, as Larson represents. Instead[,] he was just a layman, initially enthusiastic and hopeful but eventually trapped by his unjustified expectations, flawed logic, limited information, perhaps offended pride, and lack of faith in the tedious research that real scholarship requires. The negative arguments he used against the Latter-day Saint scriptures in his last years display all these weaknesses.

“Peterson: “Thomas Stuart Ferguson’s biographer…makes every effort to portray Ferguson’s apparent eventual loss of faith as a failure for ‘LDS archaeology.”

“Daniel C. Peterson:

In the beginning[,] NWAF was financed by private donations, and it was Thomas Ferguson’s responsibility to secure these funds. Devoted to his task, he traveled throughout California, Utah, and Idaho; wrote hundreds of letters; and spoke at firesides, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, and wherever else he could. After a tremendous amount of dedicated work, he was able to raise about twenty-two thousand dollars, which was enough for the first season of fieldwork in Mexico. “

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

There is really no need to throw Brother Ferguson under the bus.

I never said that he was an archeologist, but rather just that ‘Thomas Stuart Ferguson, a faithful member of the Church, [who] in 1952 single-handedly founded the New World Archaeological Foundation (NWAF).’

The point is that the Church obviously saw some value in his work insofar as they funded it – twice. “NWAF finally received $15,000 from the First Presidency in 1953, but with the strict provision that there was to be absolutely no publicity. In 1955 the First Presidency pledged another $200,000 to NWAF to sponsor four years of field work.” $200K in the 1950’s is a lot of tithing dollars!

If the point that FairMormon is trying to make is that since Thomas Ferguson, the founder of NWAF was not ‘a professional archeologist’ therefore his work lacks credibility, let me quote from an article written by LDS apologist Dan Peterson who confirms, that while Ferguson himself was not an archeologist, NWAF was staffed by professional archeologists:

“Several relevant facts stand out from this bare-bones recital of the earliest history of the New World Archaeological Foundation. First, non–Latter-day (sic) Saint  archaeologists were prominent—in fact, dominant—from the beginning, not only in choosing central Chiapas as the geographical focus of its excavations…”

On the New World Archaeological Foundation
Daniel C. Peterson FARMS Review 16/1 (2004): 221–33.

Secondly, FairMormon’s choice of John Sorensen, as a ‘respected archeologist’ to make your point is unwise.

In a blistering review of Sorenson lack of scholarship and dishonest referencing, Del Dowdell comments on the stuff Sorenson has published in several Mormon publications:

“John L. Sorenson, in his book, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, writes (p278) “The earliest piece so far probably dates to around the first century B.C. It is a bit of copper sheathing found on top of an altar at Cuicuilco in the Valley of Mexico.”

However, a search of his reference and allied articles turns up no such piece. “…there is a singular mention of copper, such as copper rattles found in Mexico dated to the Post-classic period, which is after 1000 A.D. “

Sorenson also wrote:

“There have proved to be several hundred such specimens dating from 400 B.C. to AD 900, 153 of which were excavated by professional archaeologists,” referencing, you guessed it, his own work.

John L. Sorenson, Metals and Metallurgy
Relating to the book of Mormon Text, FARMS, Provo, 1992.

It is amazing that Sorenson’s most quoted reference is himself.  Not just that, he is almost always the only referenced source regarding Book of Mormon metallurgy in Mesoamerica.

As an example, in an article: “Metals and Weapons in the Book of Mormon: Mormon Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,” Sorenson references himself 27 times as the source material for information regarding metals in Mesoamerica.

“Since Sorenson is neither a metallurgist nor one who has searched ancient sites and digs looking for artifacts and evidence of metal in the ancient Americas, there is no possible way he should be the source material for “proof” that metallurgy existed in the ancient Americas. Such ludicrous sourcing and citing are neither scholarly nor helpful, and it certainly is not suggestive to critics of the Church and the Book of Mormon that any written material with such referencing is either accurate or honest.”

Del Dowdell Who Really Settle Mesoamerica

I had expressed caution previously regarding the level and quality of scholarship at BYU, at least in the fields of archaeology and anthropology. As professor emeritus of anthropology at Brigham Young University, for well over 50 years, Sorenson had immersed himself in every aspect of Book of Mormon life and history, yet I cannot locate ONE article by Sorenson published in the big three, peer-reviewed, scholarly journals on anthropology or archaeology in the United States – The American Journal of Archaeology, American Anthropological Association or the Archaeological Institute of America.

Let me repeat that, in 50 years not a single peer-reviewed article.

BYU is ranked so low in Archaeology that it does not even appear on the 2016 World University Ranking of faculties of Archaeology. BYU itself comes in at 113th. SmartClass ranks BYU archaeology at 153rd. Hardly stellar. 

The BYU archaeology department also has the dubious distinction of having its excavation license revoked by the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry for falsely claiming it had discovered “one million mummies.”

The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry took umbrage with the BYU claim that all the remains belonged to mummies. Not only did they grossly exaggerate the numbers found, the Ministry had to explain to the BYU archeologists what a mummy is, as not one of the ‘millions’ BYU claimed to have discovered was, in fact, a mummy.

Youssef Khalifa, the head of the Ancient Egypt Department, said:

“What [BYU] published in the newspaper is not true, A mummy by definition to begin with means a complete mummified body and there is only one mummy found at the site of Fag el-Gamous in 1980, [and not by BYU] which is at the Egyptian Museum since then,” he added, before describing the bodies at the site as “only poor skeletons and plenty of bones, some of which are wrapped in textiles.”

Dan Peterson is perhaps the most well-known Mormon apologist today,

Like Thomas Ferguson, he is not an archeologist, but that has never stopped him from writing about things archeological.

Mormon historian and legitimate scholar Dan Vogel shared his thoughts after reading Peterson’s FairMormon mean-spirited and ad hominem filled response to Jeremy Runnells CES Letter:

“Peterson is a polemicist, not a scholar of early Mormonism. While you have merely listed your objections, he didn’t do much different by countering with an apologetic bibliography. However, the nature of your letter implies that you considered the apologetic and rejected it. Your purpose as I see it was to list the problems, not defend them against the apologists. Each issue would require a pretty hefty essay to resolve Peterson’s complaint. Ironically, Peterson’s Ensign article listing confirmations for the Book of Abraham ignores the problems and therefore is guilty of the same shortcoming Peterson sees in your paper. I find his critique silly in the extreme. It makes no sense to criticize a summary list as being too simple when that is the purpose.”

I agree, as FairMormon’s choice of ”experts” well demonstrates, we must be careful who we look to for knowledge and enlightenment.

In that regard, for generations, Mormons, many of them amateur ‘archeologists,’ have written books containing photographs of ancient ruins, artifacts and so on, advancing the claim that these things prove that the Book of Mormon is true. Their findings, however, can be summarized as – wrong time, wrong place, wrong people!

Sadly, the Church has knowingly provided and possibly still does supply its young missionaries with archeological slides of some of this material which can mislead investigators.

A slide or picture portraying a Mayan temple has nothing whatsoever to do with the Book of Mormon story. 

Finally, it is worth noting that FairMormon in responding to what I have written, does not attempt to assail the comments and statements of the following legitimate archeologists I spoke to:

Dr. Ray Metheny
Dr. David Johnson
The Ulster Archaeological Society
Michael Coe
Dee F. Green

Therefore President Uchtdorf I stand by the fact I expressed in my letter to you, that there is no evidence that any legitimate non-Mormon archeologist could point to that supports the validity of the Book of Mormon. None, die Nonen!

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FairMormon’s Comments on my Questions about Anachronisms

 Anachronisms claimed to exist in the Book of Mormon

Summary: “Anachronism” = out of time; something which is not in its proper historical context. It is claimed that a number of items or concepts in the Book of Mormon are not consistent with what is known about ancient American geography, history, or anthropology. These “errors” used as evidence that the Book of Mormon is a 19th-century work rather than an ancient record.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon has chosen not to respond directly to what I have written here but rather provides fifteen more generic links to previously written apologies, nine of which are irrelevant to this interrogatory.

Climate in the Book of Mormon
Cultural issues in the Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon Geography
Items described in the Book of Mormon
Language questions related to the Book of Mormon
Freemasonry and the Book of Mormon
Materials described in the Book of Mormon
Plants or fibers in the Book of Mormon
Population and demographics in the Book of Mormon
Scientific questions related to the Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon textual issues
Warfare in the Book of Mormon

Again, I would say to FairMormon, if you intend on taking the lazy man’s approach to responding to my thoughtful comments by just providing links to your previous rather lame general apologies, then my response to you is:

MormonThink

• Anachronisms
• Knowledge of the Wheel?
• Archaeology
• Scientific community
• Non-LDS archaeologists
• Nahom
• Linguistics
• Hill Cumorah
• DNA
• Population problems
• Impossible events
• King James Bible
• Nature of God
• The most correct book?
• Racism
• BOM lacks doctrine
• The Anthon visit
• Literary value
• More BOM difficulties
• Six sources used
• Response by the Church
• Ending summary by critics
• Editor’s comments
• Sunstone BOM debates

www.mormonthink.com

 

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FairMormon’s Comments on my questions on DNA Issues

FairMormon’s Comment No. 1

Response to claim: “Why do all recent DNA studies conclusively and without exception indicate that Native Americans are of Siberian/Asiatic and not of Hebrew origin.

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

DNA evidence cannot be used to either prove or disprove the Book of Mormon.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I agree that DNA evidence in itself cannot be used to either prove or disprove the Book of Mormon, but it is another arrow in our quiver.

Here again, the Mormon Church’s apologists are on the defensive because they have no affirmative arguments to the implications that this science has on the Joseph Smith’s ‘story.’

DNA is a well understood and established science. The criminal justice system accepts it as reliable and its identification so accurate that people are often convicted of capital crimes on the basis of it. So when the best DNA researchers say that 99.4% of Native populations in North, South and Central America have Eastern Asian DNA, we need to sit-up and listen

FairMormon however suggests that the currently accepted conclusion that the ancestors of the indigenous peoples of North and South America migrated from Asia is tentative.

If by tentative FairMormon mean the absence of absolute certitude, then the currently accepted conclusion that DNA represents our genetic building blocks can also be considered tentative or for that matter that the ‘theory’ that the Earth is round is tentative.

The conclusion FairMormon calls tentative is based on evidence. Evidence that shows that here have been NO middle-Eastern markers found in the more than 12,000 samples taken from North and South American aboriginal populations.

I can’t seem to find anywhere in the reams of FairMormon musings where they present any affirmative evidence showing “Middle Eastern” or “Jewish/Hebrew” DNA in native populations.

Secondly, to say that nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon people is disingenuous. We know, according to the story that Joseph Smith tells that they were Jews, from the Middle-East. We know what Middle-Eastern Jewish DNA looks like. There are unique markers. And none of those markers have been found.

Recent DNA testing conducted on 150 tribes located across the Americas have shown conclusively, that contrary to traditional Mormon claims, their ancestors migrated from Asia between 7,000 and 50,000 years ago.

They got to North America across the 50-mile gap in the Bering Strait between the Chukotka Peninsula in Russia and the Seward Peninsula in the U.S. state of Alaska. Indeed, this 50 aperture almost certainly was closed in the day. NOT by traveling more than 6,000 miles on a home-made boat from the Arabian peninsula to somewhere in the Americas.

Mormon anthropologist Thomas W. Murphy commented on these findings:

“Some Latter-day Saints have expressed optimism that DNA research would lead to a vindication of the (Book of Mormon) as a translation of a genuine ancient document… The results, though, have been disappointing… Genetic data repeatedly point to migrations from Asia between 7,000 and 50,000 years ago as the primary source of Native American origins. DNA research has substantiated the archaeological, cultural, linguistic, and biological evidence that also points overwhelmingly to an Asian origin for Native Americans.”           

 From an essay entitled, “Lamanite Genesis, Genealogy, and Genetics.”

Investigation of mitochondrial DNA of more than 5,500 living Native Americans reveals that 99.4% can be traced back to Asia… Only 0.6% came from Africa or Europe, most likely after 1492.

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FairMormon’s Comment No. 2

“The Church quietly made yet another change to the Book of Mormon, in 2006 shortly after the irrefutable DNA results were first published by the scientific community

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR SPIN – THE AUTHOR, OR THE AUTHOR’S SOURCE, IS PROVIDING INFORMATION OR IDEAS IN A SLANTED WAY IN ORDER TO INSTILL A PARTICULAR ATTITUDE OR RESPONSE IN THE READER

How can one claim that the Church “quietly” changed the introduction to the Book of Mormon when they published news of the change in the Church-owned newspaper, the Deseret News in 2007? From the Deseret News, 8 Nov. 2007:”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon takes umbrage with my comments that, “The Church quietly made yet another change to the Book of Mormon, in 2006 shortly after the irrefutable DNA results were first published by the scientific community.” They assert:

You say that they published news of the change in the Church-owned newspaper, the Deseret News in 2007?” referring to an article by Carrie Moore entitled, “DNA claims rebutted on Book of Mormon.”

Is the “they” you refer to here the First Presidency of the Church?

Am I correct in assuming that this “one-word” change was not announced officially by the First Presidency other than in this Deseret News article that “they,” apparently instructed (or directed or allowed) Ms. Moore, to write?

If I am mistaken, please share with me the official pronouncement.

Quietly is a relative term. The circulation of the Deseret News is advertised in their ‘2015 media kit’ as being 84,891 (In-State: 34,838 Out-of-State: 50,053). Far less in 2006.

Does the publication of an article in a periodical with a very limited circulation, many of which reside in Utah constitute a ‘quiet’ announcement of a fairly significant change to the Book of Mormon?

 

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FairMormon’s Comments on my questions on the Age of the Earth

FairMormon’s Comment

2 Nephi 2:22 asserts as does Alma 12:23 24 that there was no death of any kind upon the earth before the “Fall of Adam,” which the D&C indicates was about 6,000 years ago

There is overwhelming archaeological evidence of death having occurred on the earth for many millions of years. For example, oil deposits are formed from the decomposed remains of ancient plants and animals. This is where Church teachings appear to contradict science since many Latter-day Saint leaders and Church manuals have taught that there was no physical death on the entire earth prior to the fall of Adam. For example, this view is taught in the LDS Bible Dictionary:

Latter-day revelation teaches that there was no death on this earth for any forms of life before the fall of Adam. Indeed, death entered the world as a direct result of the fall (2 Nephi 2:22; Moses 6:48).

This interpretation has been shared by many Church authors, including President Joseph Fielding Smith and Elder Bruce R. McConkie. Consequently, the concept of no death before the Fall on the entire earth has made its way into many Church instructional manuals. For example, the LDS Bible Dictionary, which was included as an addition to the LDS edition of the King James Bible in 1979, includes the following statement that “death entered the world” as a result of the Fall:

The LDS Bible Dictionary states that “Latter-day revelation teaches that there was no death on this earth before the Fall of Adam. Indeed, death entered the world as a direct result of the Fall (2 Ne. 2:22; Moses 6:48).”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

 It is hard to defend the indefensible.

I accept that this is as close FairMormon can come to saying,  ‘yeh, your right,’ without getting a call from their masters in Salt Lake.

 

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FairMormon’s Comment on the Issue of Plagiarism

“How do you explain the large volume of material in the Book of Mormon lifted directly from the Bible and the presence of numerous errors found in the Book of Mormon unique to the 1769 King James edition of the Bible

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM IS BASED UPON (sic) CORRECT INFORMATION – THE AUTHOR IS PROVIDING KNOWLEDGE CONCERNING SOME PARTICULAR FACT, SUBJECT, OR EVENT

 FairMormon’s has proposed:      

“Some of the Book of Mormon Isaiah passages generally match the version of Isaiah found in the Bible of the time. However, not all of them do.”

FairMormon also states:

“We do not know the specific mechanism by which the biblical passages were included in the translation, therefore we cannot answer this question based upon (sic) current historical information. The only description of the translation process that Joseph Smith ever gave was that it was performed by the “gift and power of God,” and that the translation was performed using the “Urim and Thummim.”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I interpret FairMormon’s response here as saying essentially; we don’t know why King James Bible Version errors would appear in the Book of Mormon because no one reports Joseph using it or source materials while he translated.

This is, of course, a very weak argument. I acknowledge all the quotes FairMormon includes from witnesses to the translation, indicating that Joseph had his head in his hat and/or behind a curtain during the translation.

The apologists also use the following statement by Emma Smith as ‘proof ‘that her husband couldn’t have possibly copied from a Bible:

“I know Mormonism to be the truth, and believe the church to have been established by divine direction. I have complete faith in it. In writing for [Joseph] I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he is sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.”

Q: Had he not a book or manuscript from which he read, or dictated to you?
A: He had neither manuscript or book to read from.

Q: Could he not have had, and you not know it?
A: If he had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me.”

Yes, Emma tells us she never saw her husband referencing anything and I believe her.

But let’s get serious. The fact that Emma did not see Joseph referencing notes or the Bible certainly doesn’t mean he didn’t use these aids.

After all, if Joseph was wily enough to engage in dozens of sub-rosa sexual liaisons, ‘marriages’ for goodness sake, without Emma having a clue, surely it makes his ability to hide his referencing the Bible and/or other materials seem like child’s play.

As well, we know that Emma did not act as scribe for most of the translation and certain not when 2 Nephi, the portion containing many of the plagiarized chapters from Isaiah were being ‘translated.’ Emma’s involvement was very limited. She and her brother Reuben Hale acted as scribes between December 1827 and February 1828.4

Most of the plagiarism of Isaiah occurred in 2 Nephi:

BIBLE                                     BOOK OF MORMON

Isaiah 2                                  2 Nephi 12
Isaiah 3                                  2 Nephi 13|
Isaiah 4                                  2 Nephi 14
Isaiah 5                                  2 Nephi 15
Isaiah 6                                  2 Nephi 1
Isaiah 7                                  2 Nephi 17
Isaiah 8                                  2 Nephi 18
Isaiah 9                                  2 Nephi 19
Isaiah 10                               2 Nephi 20
Isaiah 11                               2 Nephi 21
Isaiah 12                               2 Nephi 22
Isaiah 13                               2 Nephi 23
Isaiah 14                               2 Nephi 24
Isaiah 48                               1 Nephi 20
Isaiah 49                               1 Nephi 21
Isaiah 50                               2 Nephi 7
Isaiah 51                               2 Nephi 8
Isaiah 52                               3 Nephi 20
Isaiah 53                               Mosiah 14
Isaiah 54                               3 Nephi 22

We also know that chronologically 2 Nephi was written last – between June 12th and June 21st, 1829.

dates

Elden J. Watson, Approximate Book of Mormon
Translation Timeline
, April 1995

Oliver Cowdery was the exclusive scribe during all of the plagiarized chapters of Isaiah. Indeed, as this quote by Royal Skousen indicates, Oliver was also the principal scribe for the production of the Printers Manuscript (P):

“The other manuscript, the printer’s manuscript (P), is virtually intact. Only three lines of its text, from the first leaf of the manuscript, have been worn away. This manuscript is owned by the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). Oliver Cowdery is the main scribe for P: 5 

Oliver Cowdery              84,6 percent

Scribe 2 of P.                   14.9 percent

Hyrum Smith.                  0.5 percent

We do not know which portion of the Book of Mormon was translated behind the curtain. It is far from inconceivable to believe that Joseph may have secreted a copy of the Bible and other reference materials to his side of the curtain which separates him from his scribes.

I think we also need to ask, why the use of a curtain? It is not that Joseph was referencing the ‘gold plates.’

We know from numerous sources that Joseph translated through a stone in his hat. We are also told that the Gold Plates were not used directly in the translation process and indeed were often not even present.

Also, if fraud was at play, Oliver Cowdery, the principal scribe may have been in on it.

That said, why then was a physical separation from the scribe necessary other than to provide an opportunity to refer to other materials.

FairMormon’s attempts to justify Smith’s extensive Bible plagiarism by stating that, “New Testament writers literally quoted hundreds of Old Testament scriptures including 76 verses from Isaiah”

That is true, the Savior Himself often quoted the Old Testament Prophets, but I see this as somewhat different, the Lord let us know when he was quoting the Prophets and where it came from:

Mark 12:26

And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?

Mark 10:19

You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’

Mark 7:10

For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’

Matthew 5:21 

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, you shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’

Matthew 5:38

 You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’

Luke 19:46

“… saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

Luke 4:8

And Jesus answered him, It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and he only shall you serve.’

Can you see the difference?

In the case of the Book of Mormon, we have large tracts of material copied almost verbatim without and citation.

But again, I think this distracts us from the bigger question, which bears repeating; how could the Book of Mormon contain anything whatsoever from the King James Version of the Holy Bible?

Moroni supposedly buried the gold plates in 421A.D. The King James Bible came out 1,190 years later.

With regard to the King James Version errors appearing in the Book of Mormon, it seems to me there can only be two possible explanations:

  1. Joseph Smith or someone else in 1829 took passages from the Bible, errors and all and copied them into the Book of Mormon.
  2. God for reasons best known to Himself put the unique 1769 KJV edition errors as well as the translator’s italic clarifications into the ‘most correct book on this Earth.’

The second conclusion is, of course, absurd but the first is also highly problematic.

First, because so much has been made of the fact that Joseph did not use reference materials to aid in his translation.

And, second, the method of translation according to Smith himself, as well as many observers, saw English words or sentences appearing on the rock in his hat which Smith would then announce to the scribe.

We know from numerous sources that Joseph translated through a stone in his hat. We are also told that the Gold Plates were not used directly in the translation process and indeed were sometimes not even present. That said, why then was a physical separation from the scribe necessary other than to provide an opportunity to refer to reference material.

It is also worth noting that FairMormon failed to address the significant problem of the copying of the italicized words from the King James version of the Bible into the Book of Mormon. I think this was worthy of comment.

Why does the Church not concede that Joseph or his scribe – likely Oliver Cowdery who, as I have shown fulfilled that role when the majority of the Bible plagiarism took place?

After all, this in itself is not terribly damaging. It is reasonable that when Joseph could see that the words of Isaiah were coming up passage after passage, why not then just speed things along by just reading from his Bible to the scribe. Perhaps he was even inspired to do so.

I believe the reason this concession is not forthcoming is that the Church realizes that this admission opens the door to Joseph’s possible use of other resource materials behind the curtain; – The Late War, The View of the Hebrews, and so on. They just can’t afford to go down that rabbit hole.

 

Joseph Smith’s Money-Digging, Magic, and Criminal Behavior

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR SPIN – THE AUTHOR, OR THE AUTHOR’S SOURCE, IS PROVIDING INFORMATION OR IDEAS IN A SLANTED WAY IN ORDER TO INSTILL A PARTICULAR ATTITUDE OR RESPONSE IN THE READER

The author implies Joseph’s “almost certain conviction” despite the lack of evidence supporting this conclusion.”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

OK, I made three assertions:

1. That Joseph Smith was a money-digger:

I think FairMormon will stipulate that Smith was engaged in the occupation of ‘money-digger.’ That this took place before his claim to have found the ‘Gold Plates.’ And that the methodology was the same he later employed in the translation of the BOM – a rock in his hat.

Scrying or money-digging is an inherently dishonest occupation, evidenced by the fact he never found anything. He took money from people lacking the wit to realize that if he really had ‘the gift’ to see treasure below the ground he would be engaged in unearthing the gold and silver for himself rather than being in their employ for a pittance. It is analogous to the snake-oil salesmen selling their courses on ‘How to become a millionaire by buying real estate with no money down,’ on infomercials in the wee hours of the morning. If they had the ‘secret’ why would they not be out there doing it!

There is also ample evidence that Joseph knew he was engaged in a dishonest pursuit. Peter Ingersoll, a friend, and neighbor of Smith’s in an affidavit swears that Smith admitted privately to him that he (Smith) could not see anything.

Peter further describes in sworn testimony, the heart-wrenching reunion of Smith and his father-in-law after eloping with his daughter, Emma:

“I was hired by Joseph Smith Jr. to go to Pennsylvania to move his wife’s household furniture up to Manchester, where his wife was then. When we arrived at Mr. Hale’s place [Isaac Hale, Emma’s father], in Harmony, PA, from which place he had taken his wife.

“His father-in-law (Mr. Hale) addressed Joseph, in a flood of tears: ‘You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for money–pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people.’

“Joseph wept, and acknowledged he could not see in a stone now, nor ever could, and that his former pretensions in that respect, were all false. He then promised to give up his old habits of digging for money and looking into stones.”

2. He was arrested and tried as a result of the activity

STATE OF NEW YORK VS JOSEPH SMITH

Warrant issued upon written complaint upon oath of Peter G. Bridgeman,
who informed that one Joseph Smith of Bainbridge was a disorderly person
and an imposter. The prisoner brought before Court March 20, 1826.

3. He was almost certainly convicted

As I stated in my letter Justice Neely used the word “guilty.” Judge Neely could have immediately sentenced him to “sixty days” in the “Bridewell House of Correction, at hard labor,” but instead he bound him over to be tried by three justices at a later date. 

I agree that this sounds like a finding that this was analogous to today’s preliminary hearing. however, the record shows the judge spoke of guilt.

Joseph Smith’s Bainbridge, N.Y. Court Trials, by Wesley P. Walters, p. 109, reprinted in the Westminster Theological Journal.

In my letter I also presented the list of costs:

“And therefore, the Court find[s] the Defendant guilty. Costs: Warrant, l9c. Complaint upon oath, 251/2 c. Seven witnesses, 871/2 c. Recognizances, 25 c. Mittimus, 19 c. Recognizances of witnesses, 75 c. Subpoena, 18 c.—$2.68.”

Further and perhaps more damning, Justice Noble’s comment that Smith “was condemned,” referencing this trial.

PLEASE NOTE: My interrogative was, ‘Joseph Smith’s Money-Digging, Magic, and Criminal Behavior’ yet FairMormon has ignored the Magic and Occult connection or his extensive ‘Rap Sheet.’

Joseph Smith’s problems with the law were extensive and continuous between from his first disorderly person/fraud trial in 1826 to his second arrest for treason and inciting a riot in 1844.

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FairMormon’s Comments on Joseph’s False Prophesies

FairMormon’s Comment No. 1

How can we reconcile Joseph Smith’s numerous false prophecies, with the test of a true prophet as found in Deuteronomy 18?

“Deuteronomy 18 states that if a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord that something will happen, and then it does not happen, that the prophet has spoken “presumptuously.” 

Missouri suffered greatly during the Civil War. Over 1,200 distinct battles or skirmishes were fought on Missouri soil; only Tennessee and Virginia saw more action on their soil.

Between 1862 and 1864, the western parts of Missouri endured guerrilla warfare. Although guerrilla warfare occurred throughout much of the state, most of the incidents occurred in northern Missouri and were characterized by ambushes of individuals or families in rural areas. These incidents were particularly nefarious because their vigilante nature was outside the command and control of either side and often pitted neighbor against neighbor.

Among the more notorious incidents of guerrilla warfare were (sic) the Sacking of Osceola, burning of Platte City and the Centralia Massacre.

In 1863 following the Lawrence Massacre in Kansas, Union General Thomas Ewing, Jr. accused farmers in rural Missouri of either instigating the attack or supporting it. He issued General Order No. 11 which forced the evacuation of all residents of rural areas of the four counties (Jackson, Cass, Bates, and Vernon) south of the Missouri River on the Kansas border to leave their property, which was then burned. The order applied to farmers regardless of loyalty, although those who could prove their loyalty to the Union could stay in designated towns and those who could not be exiled entirely.

LDS readers will recognize that Jackson county was notorious for its treatment of the Saints, and it was among those counties from which inhabitants were evacuated and a “scorched earth” policy implemented. The commanding general ordered his men not to engage in looting or other depredations, but he proved unable to effectively control his soldiers, who were mostly Kansans eager to exact any revenge possible upon their Missouri neighbors. Animals and other property were stolen or destroyed, and houses, barns, and outbuildings burnt to the ground. The area affected quickly became a devastated “no-mans-land”, with only charred chimneys and burnt stubble remaining where once-fertile farms had stood.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon is grasping at straws here. As the highlighted portion of Smith’s prophecy clearly shows he was talking about the United States being utterly overthrown and wasted, not Missouri.

When someone claims to be speaking as instructed by God and then makes a false statement, that person “has spoken presumptuously” and is not God’s prophet. There are then, according to the Lord, three elements that we can rely upon to prove a false prophet.

1. The individual claiming to be a true prophet of God, did, in fact, say it. I think FairMormon will stipulate that Smith said it, as it is recorded in the History of the Church, Vol 5, Page 394.

2. That he made clear in his prophecy that he was speaking for the Lord. 

‘I prophecy (sic) in the name of the Lord God of Israel….’

3. The prophecy failed to come true.

I simply repeat, it has been more than 170 years since Smith uttered this vengeful prophecy and our great country and its government still stand.

FairMormon’s Comment No. 2

Question: Was Joseph Smith’s prophecy that the Independence, Missouri temple “Shall be reared in this generation” a failed prophecy?

Jesus Christ used the very same terminology in Matthew 24:34: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled”

There is a double standard of interpretation that critics use against Joseph Smith since Jesus Christ used the very same terminology. Matthew 24:34 quotes Christ as saying, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Luke 21:32 repeats this prophecy. The term “these things” refers to wars, famines, the sun being darkened, and even the “stars falling from heaven.” Some of “these things” occurred during Christ’s time period. Some have continued since then. Some have escalated into our time. Some have not occurred yet.

So we must ask since Joseph Smith is charged with a false prophecy concerning “this generation,” did Jesus Christ utter a false prophecy? Absolutely not! So, if Joseph Smith uttered a false prophecy about “this generation,” then so did Christ. It has been many centuries longer from the time of Christ until now than it has been from the 1830’s until today.

The word “generation” has different meanings. According to scripture, the word “generation” can have reference to a time frame, a people, or even a dispensation. Without specific wording which would indicate exactly what the word “generation” means, it is dishonest to accuse one (Joseph Smith) of false prophecy while accepting another (Jesus Christ) when both use it in a general form.

Joseph Smith’s revelation in D&C 84 may appear on the surface to be a failed prophecy, but a more informed reading reveals that it may not have been a prophecy, and if it is, its fulfillment is still in the future.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

OK, I personally don’t feel that Joseph was speaking about all time here, but I accept that some could interpret it as such.

FairMormon’s Comment No. 2

 Joseph Smith’s prophecy that “all nations would be involved in the American Civil War.”

Following the Civil War, many nations entered into alliances and secret agreements in order to protect themselves from other nations

Following the Civil War the nations, in their great alarm because of the new methods of warfare which were being developed and their fear of other nations, entered into alliances and secret agreements in order to protect themselves from other nations. At the outbreak of the World War, these alliances had reached proportions never before known, and during the war other alliances were made until nearly every nation on the earth had taken sides with the Triple Alliance or the Triple Entente. It was during the period of the World War, 1914-1918, Great Britain made her appeal to the nations to come to the defense of the standard of Democracy. Her pleadings were heard round the world. And what is still more remarkable, the entire procedure conforms exactly to the prediction made by Joseph Smith, viz: “they shall also call upon other nations in order to defend themselves against other nations.” A plurality of nations aligned and allied on both sides of the deadly conflict.

This revelation was not just about the American Civil War

The revelation makes that very clear by first stating in verse one, “thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass.” Notice that the word used is wars (plural), not war (singular), thereby “suggesting not one war but a continuum of conflict. Thus, like chapter 24 of Matthew, this scripture covered things both imminent and distant.” Of course, in our own time, we could add the war in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, civil wars in Central America, Lebanon, the British-Argentine conflict, Desert Storm, etc.

In our several Indian uprisings since the close of the Civil War, many see the fulfillment of that part of the prophecy which declares that the “remnants who are left of the land [the American Indians] will marshal themselves, and shall become exceeding angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation.” 1:303

World history since 1861 demonstrates that armed conflict widened and persisted since the American Civil War. There is nothing in the prophecy that claims that the Civil War must be the direct cause of on-going war, merely that on-going war will occur. And, it will happen after “Great Britain” “shall…call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves”:

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon is side-stepping the issue here. Joseph did not prophesy that nations would “entered into alliances and secret agreements” after the Civil War; or that armed conflicts would widen and persist after the American Civil War. He prophesied that “all nations would be involved in the American Civil War.
 

FairMormon’s Comment No. 3

“Joseph Smith’s prophecy that “he would find treasure in Salem, Massachusetts”

Joseph and several other leaders traveled to Salem hoping to find money that could be used to satisfy some of the Church’s outstanding debt

The trip was apparently made on their own initiative and was not commanded by the Lord. Joseph did not “prophesy” (sic) that they would find money in Salem, but instead made the trip because he became convinced that the story that the treasure existed might true. Upon failing to locate the money, they spent their time preaching to the people in Salem.”

“I, the Lord your God, am not displeased with your coming this journey, notwithstanding your follies. I have much treasure in this city for you, for the benefit of Zion, and many people in this city, whom I will gather out in due time for the benefit of Zion, through your instrumentality. Therefore, it is expedient that you should form an acquaintance with men in this city, as you shall be led, and as it shall be given you. And it shall come to pass in due time that I will give this city into your hands, that you shall have power over it, insomuch that they shall not discover your secret parts; and its wealth pertaining to gold and silver shall be yours. Concern not yourselves about your debts, for I will give you power to pay them.”

Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Salem, Massachusetts, August 6, 1836. HC 2:465-466.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

You provide no evidence that “The trip was apparently made on their own initiative and was not commanded by the Lord,”  as you contend. The language of the prophecy indicates quite the opposite, “I, the Lord your God… I have much treasure in this city for you…Therefore, it is expedient that you should form an acquaintance with men in this city…I will give this city into your hands,… its wealth pertaining to gold and silver shall be yours.

FairMormon again throws words like ‘apparently,’ out there without and any discussion or evidence as to why it is apparent.

Let me give you one more time; God’s determining criteria for identifying a false prophet. When someone claims to be speaking as instructed by God and then makes a false statement, that person “has spoken presumptuously” and is not God’s prophet.

There are then, according to the Lord, not Thomas Monson or FairMormon, but the Lord, thy God, three elements that we can rely upon to prove a false prophet.

1. The individual claiming to be a true prophet
of God, did, in fact, say it.

      History of the Church, 2:465-466, August 6, 1836.

2. That he made clear in his prophecy that he was
speaking for the Lord.

      “I, the Lord your God…”

3. The prophecy failed to come true.

Thetreasure in this city,” was not Smith’s, and it did not come to pass in due time that [God put] this city into [Smith’s] hands,” or that he had, “power over it,” or that it’s, gold and silver shall be [Smith’s].

This is another false prophecy by Joseph Smith.

PLEASE NOTE: I think it is telling that FairMormon has chosen NOT to comment these false prophecies, I also spoke to in ‘A Letter to an Apostle.’

Coming of the Lord
David W. Patten to go on a mission
Congress to be broken up as a government
Hail, Pestilence, Famine & Earthquake to Destroy the Wicked

The eight false prophesies I listed were just a sampling.  There are many more including:

THE CONVERSION OF THE INDIAN PEOPLES
INDIANS SKIN COLOR CHANGING TO MAKE THEM WHITE AND DELIGHTSOME
THE EARTH SHALL SHAKE AND REEL AS A DRUNKEN MAN

THE UNITED ORDER TO STAND UNTIL THE LORD RETURNS
JOSEPH SMITH TO TRIUMPH OVER HIS FOES
NATIONS BOWING TO THE MORMON GOSPEL
THE “UTTER ABOLISHMENT” OF NEW YORK AND BOSTON
THE NAUVOO HOUSE TO BE SMITH’S FAMILY’S FOREVER

 

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FairMormon’s Comment&on Changes to the D&C

When the Book of Commandments was rewritten as the D&C after apostles apostatized, etc., many revelations were modified and failed prophecies removed.

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

The Saints have never believed in inerrant prophets or inerrant scripture. The editing and modification of the revelations was never a secret; it was well known to the Church of Joseph’s day, and it has been discussed repeatedly in modern Church publications, as well as extensive studies in Masters’ and PhD (sic) theses at BYU.

If Joseph could receive the Doctrine and Covenants by revelation, then he could also receive revelation to improve, modify, revise, and expand his revelatory product. The question remains the same—was Joseph Smith a prophet? If he was, then his action is completely legitimate. If he was not, then it makes little difference whether his pretended revelations were altered or not.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Speaking to this, the Mormon writer John William Fitzgerald made this statement:

“Differences in wording that change the meaning have occurred in certain sections that appeared first in A Book of Commandments published in 1833 and that appeared later in The Doctrine and Covenants published in 1835.”

(“A Study of the Doctrine and Covenants,” Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University. 1940, p. 329)

David Whitmer made this statement:

“Some of the revelations as they now appear in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants have been changed and added to changed and added to. Some of the changes being the greatest importance as the meaning is entirely changed on some very important matters; as if the Lord had changed his mind a few years after he gave the revelations, and after having commanded his servants (as they claim) to print them in the “Book of Commandments;” and after giving his servants a revelation, being a preface unto His Book of Commandments, which says: “Behold this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the Book of my Commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, oh inhabitants of the earth.” Also in this preface, “Behold I am God, and have spoken it; These commandments are of me.” “Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful.” The revelations were printed in the Book of Commandments correctly! This I know, and I will prove it to you.

These revelations were arranged for publication by Bro. Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Orson Hyde and others, in Hiram, Ohio, while I was there; and were sent to Independence to be published, and were printed just exactly as they were arranged by Bro. Joseph and the others. And when the Book of Commandments was printed, Joseph and the church received it as being printed correctly. This I know. But in the winter of 1834, they saw that some of the revelations in the Book of Commandments had to be changed, because the heads of the church had gone too far, and had done things in which they had already gone ahead of some of the former revelations. So the book of “Doctrine and Covenants” was printed in 1835, and some of the revelations changed and added to.”

(Letter written by David Whitmer, published in the Saints Herald, February 5, 1887)

Here is a change Joseph made to revise and broaden his ‘gifts.’

“And he [Joseph Smith, Jr.] has a gift to translate the book [of Mormon], and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift.”

Book of Commandments, Ch. 10

Changed to:

“And you have a gift to translate the plates, and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you, and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished.”

Doctrine and Covenants, Ch. 5, verse 4

“Is it possible that the minds of men can be so blinded as to believe that God would give these revelations – command them to print them in His Book of Commandments – and then afterwards (sic) command them to change and add to them some words which change the meaning entirely? As if God had changed his mind entirely after giving his word? Is it possible that man who pretends to any spirituality would believe that God would work in such a manner?”

David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Saint’s Herald, Feb. 5, 1887

Joseph Smith can change anything he wants, but I agree with David Whitmer that numerous and seemingly frivolous changes make the Lord look a little ‘flakey.’

The following passage from the ‘original’ section 137 of the D&C is an example of where the Church simply pulls things out of the Doctrine and Covenants or the Book of Commandments when they no longer serve their current narrative or agenda or where the Smith’s prophesies were blatantly false.:

….I saw the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, who are now upon the earth, who hold the keys of this last ministry, in foreign lands, standing together in a circle, much fatigued, with their clothes tattered and their feet swollen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus standing in their midst, and they did not behold him. The Saviour looked upon them and wept.

I also beheld Elder M’Lellin in the south, standing upon a hill, surrounded by a vast multitude, preaching to them, and a lame man standing before him supported by his crutches; he threw them down at his word and leaped as a hart, by the mighty power of God.

Also, I saw Elder Brigham Young standing in a strange land, in the far south and west, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of color, who appeared hostile. He was preaching to them in their own tongue, and the angel of God standing above his head with a drawn sword in his hand, protecting him, but he did not see it.

And I finally saw the Twelve in the celestial kingdom of God. I also beheld the redemption Zion and many things which the tongue of man cannot describe in full”

This one ‘revelation’ alone is full of false prophecies, and no wonder the Church just chose to remove it altogether from the D&C.  Too much, ‘splaining to do Lucy!’

At least seven of the twelve were soon excommunicated or apostatized from the church: John F. Boynton & Luke S. Johnson (1837), Lyman Johnson (1838), William E. M’Lellin (c.1838), Thomas B. Marsh & Orson Hyde (1838), and William Smith (1845)’

How could Boynton, et al. have attained the celestial kingdom according to Smith’s rules?  Not only  were they accursed by their very acts of apostasy or excommunication but fell victim to the LDS Church’s own scriptural denunciation in D&C 84.40-41 which, as far as I know, has not been removed or revised:

“Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved. But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.”

Also, the vision of “M’Lellin’s preaching and working miracles in the south” (sic) never came true because he apostatized from the church without ever doing it!

And, although Brigham Young did bring the Mormons West and was a great colonizer, the vision of Young preaching to “men of color” in their own language (whatever that means), in some ‘strange and faraway place in the south-west’ never took place not surprisingly as by any measure Brigham Young was an unmitigated racist.

Finally, “Zion” (Independence, MO.) has never been redeemed in the 170+ years since the prophecy was made. Again, it is not surprising that the ‘Brethren’ chose to remove whole chunks of this “inspired” revelation? 

 

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FairMormon’s Comment on Smith’s Changing View of Godhead

“Response to claim: “why would Joseph Smith have written a Trinitarian view of the Godhead in the first edition of the Book of Mormon?”

The author(s) of A Letter to an Apostle make(s) the following claim:

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

The mistake: The author starts with the assumption that Joseph held a Trinitarian view. The facts: Even before any edits were made, there are plenty of verses in the first edition of the Book of Mormon that support the concept that the Father and the Son are separate entities, just like the Bible does”.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

As is their custom, FairMormon makes a claim without any substantiation, “Even before any edits were made, there are plenty of verses in the first edition of the Book of Mormon that support the concept that the Father and the Son are separate entities.”

In contrast, let me provide evidence to the contrary.

The following references clearly and authoritatively show Smith held a Trinitarian view which admittedly he later modified.

In 2 Nephi 31:21 as well in the document he prepared for the “Three Witnesses” to sign, we read, “the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God.”

We also read in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 11: 16, 18, 21, 32; 13:40: “Knowest thou the condescension of God? … [Mary] is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh. … The Lamb of God, yea even the Eternal Father …. was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world [crucified]. … The Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world.”

In Mosiah 7:27; 13:34, Abinadi tells us “that Christ was the God, the Father of all things” and “that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood”; also “that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man.”

In Mosiah 16: 15, Abinadi’s doctrine is summarized: “Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, which is the very Eternal Father.”

In Alma 11:28-29, 38-39, 44, we learn: “Now Zeezrom saith, Is there more than one God? And he [Amulek] answereth No … Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek saith unto him, Yea, he is the very Eternal Father. … Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God.”

And, Joseph’s Trinitarian perspective at that time, could not be made more abundantly clear than, 3 Nephi 11:27, 36; 28:10, we read “that the Father, and the Son, and Holy Ghost are one” in thought and purpose; or in Mormon 7:7, where we read: “The Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which is one God.”

In Mormon 9:12, we read: “Because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son,” or in Ether 3:14 and 4:12 where we again read, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son,” ”As well, in the Book of Commandments 24:18 (1833) we also read: “Which Father and Son and Holy Ghost is one God.”

Doctrine and Covenants 20: 28.

In the Book of Moses, found in the Pearl of Great Price we read: “The Savior, he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and. … this one God only will I worship.”

 Moses 1:6, 20; 7:11, 35 (June–Dec. 1830

In Joseph Smith’s 1832 rendition of the First Vision, (November 1832)  one God appears.

How much more evidence do you need?

This new view of the Godhead, however, called for a retro fit had to be made to the Book of Mormon and Book of Commandments.At the time of the formation of the Church, there is considerable evidence that Joseph had a Trinitarian view of the Godhead.

Not that further evidence is necessary, It is abundantly clear that Joseph’s view of the Godhead changed after 1834. This new view of the Godhead calls for his new view required a retro fit and revision to earlier versions where Joseph could. For example, in 1 Nephi 11:1 Joseph rewrites:

Original 1830 Text

And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.

Current, Changed Text

And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God. (1 Nephi 11:1

Original 1830 Text

Edit Page ‹ A Letter to an Apostle — WordPress.comAnd the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!

Current, Changed Text

And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, even the Son of the Eternal Father! (1 Nephi 11:21)

Original 1830 Text

And I looked and beheld the Lamb of god (sic), that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world.

Current, Changed Text

And I looked and beheld the Lamb of god (sic), that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the Everlasting God, was judged of the world. (1 Nephi 11:32)

Original 1830 Text

These last records …. shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Fatherand the Savior of the world.

Current, Changed Text

These last records …. shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world. (1 Nephi 13:40)

Smith also made retroactive changes to the KJV of the Bible in the JST of Luke 10:22 to reflect the abandonment of his initial Trinitarian view of the Godhead.

King James Version

“No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.”

Joseph Smith’s Translation

“No man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.”

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FairMormon’s Comment on the Scant Mention of Jewish Customs and Laws

Response to claim: “the Book of Mormon claims to be the story of religious Jews, yet there is scant or no mention of Jewish customs or laws”

The author(s) of A Letter to an Apostle make(s) the following claim:

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR SPIN – THE AUTHOR, OR THE AUTHOR’S SOURCE, IS PROVIDING INFORMATION OR IDEAS IN A SLANTED WAY IN ORDER TO INSTILL A PARTICULAR ATTITUDE OR RESPONSE IN THE READER

The portions of the Book of Mormon that describe Lehi’s family in the Old World do reflect Jewish customs or laws.

There is strong evidence of a Year of Jubilee in the King Benjamin address.

There is the covenant emphasis from King Benjamin that is evidence of Hebrew influence.

The Book of Mormon was edited and compiled by people living post-Christ.

The Book of Mormon lists sins which are consistent with the Ten Commandments.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

The above qualifies as scant, so let’s go with that!

The Book of Mormon gives a few superficial mentions of the intricate and rich religious heritage enjoyed by the Jewish people since the days of Moses. 

I also understand what FairMormon is suggesting when it says, “The Book of Mormon was edited and compiled by people living post-Christ.” Are they suggesting the editors striped out Jewish references? 

The most common biblical terms used to describe Jewish customs or laws, holy days, feasts, the concept of clean/unclean, observances, dietary restrictions, religious ceremonies as well as Old Testament priesthood are entirely missing from the Book of Mormon. I have listed in my letter nine examples of important Jewish biblical terms with their relative frequencies, which simply never appear once in the Book of Mormon as well as how often they appear in the Bible as well as a list of other significant Jewish features that one would expect to see in an authentic Jewish history. 

Perhaps the Mormon apologist at FairMormon who wrote this critique should get out and actually meet a jew.

 

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FairMormon’s Comments on the Method of Translation

 

Response to claim: Joseph Smith “used a rock; he found while digging a well” to translate the Book of Mormon

Question: Did Joseph Smith use his own seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon?

Many eyewitness accounts confirm that Joseph employed his seer stone during part of the translation process

Joseph was given a set of Nephite interpreters along with the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was produced. In addition, Joseph already possessed and utilized several seer stones. Although Joseph began translating the Book of Mormon using the Nephite interpreters, he later switched to using one of his seer stones to complete the translation. Critics (typically those who reject Mormonism but still believe in God) reject the idea that God would approve the use of an instrument for translation that had previously been used for “money digging.”

If one stops assuming that Joseph was a liar and deceiver, we can consider the matter from Joseph’s point of view:

He’s being called upon to reveal things that are hidden and to translate an ancient record.

Joseph is painfully aware that he cannot do these things.

How could Joseph know that he wasn’t going crazy or being delusional? Tying his early prophetic work to something with which he had already had objective success (the use of the seer stone) allowed Joseph to trust both God and himself.

The Lord seems to have used Joseph’s preexisting beliefs about how the world worked (The point is not necessarily that the stone had the same ability, but that it provided a means for Joseph to exercise his spiritual abilities.including seer stones to reveal hidden things) to help Joseph gain confidence in his own abilities.

With time, Joseph was able to translate with his “original” stone—thus, his own ability had increased, because he no longer needed the “stronger” Nephite stones.

Eventually, he did not require the “prop” or “crutch” of the stone at all—his faith and experience had grown.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon says, “If one stops assuming that Joseph was a liar and deceiver, we can consider the matter from Joseph’s point of view.”

That is a little silly if we are required just to accept Smith’s view of things this whole exercise becomes moot. 

The ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’ is an important element of the search for truth. It is only by reading texts between the lines, cataloging their omissions and laying bare their contradictions, that we can discover what is true.

Is it not be more reasonable to allow the reader to objectively look at the information I have provided and your comments on it and allow them to decide.

As well, your following statements seem to be saying that Joseph’s  ‘treasure hunting rock’ is like a ‘security blanket?’

“He’s being called upon to reveal things that are hidden, and to translate an ancient record.”

“Joseph is painfully aware that he cannot do these things.”

“How could Joseph know that he wasn’t going crazy or being delusional? Tying his early prophetic work to something with which he had already had objective success (the use of the seer stone) allowed Joseph to trust both God and himself.”

“The Lord seems to have used Joseph’s preexisting beliefs about how the world worked (The point is not necessarily that the stone had the same ability, but that it provided a means for Joseph to exercise his spiritual abilities including seer stones to reveal hidden things) to help Joseph gain confidence in his own abilities.”

Ok, I now hear you now as saying that, the seer stone wasn’t that important to the translation process, just like the ‘gold plates’ themselves were not essential, nor the Urim and Thummim.

FairMormon now accepts the reality of the ‘rock in the hat’ methodology and moves the discussion to whether Smith was provided with the exact wording of every sentence in the Book of Mormon or simply given impressions which he then dictated within the context of his understanding? 

Then in a statement reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s infamous, “What difference does it make!” response when pressed in the Benghazi hearing, those champions of truth at FairMormon reveal their frustration:

“Scholars have examined and debated the issue of a ‘tight’ versus ‘loose’ translation method for many years. Although it is an interesting intellectual exercise, the exact process by which words and sentences were formed has no bearing upon the fact that the book was dictated by the ‘gift and power of God.’ 6

I think that seeking to know what is true is more than just an interesting intellectual exercise. I think these things are important.

“The Lord provided a set of seer stones (which were formerly used by Nephite prophets) along with the plates. The term Nephite interpreters can alternatively refer to the stones themselves of the stones in conjunction with their associated paraphernalia (holding rim and breastplate). Sometime after the translation, early saints noticed similarities with the seer stones and related paraphernalia used by High Priests in the Old Testament and began to use the term Urim and Thummim interchangeably with the Nephite interpreter sand Joseph’s other seer stones as well. The now popular use of the term Urim and Thummim has unfortunately obscured the fact that all such devices belong in the same class of consecrated revelatory aids and that more than one were used in the translation.”

“The Nephite interpreters were intended to assist Joseph in the initial translation process, yet the manner in which they were employed was never explained in detail. The fact that the Nephite interpreters were set in rims resembling a pair of spectacles has led some to believe that they may have been worn like a pair of glasses, with Joseph viewing the characters on the plates through them. This, however, is merely speculation that doesn’t take into account that Joseph soon disassembled the fixture, the spacing between seer stones being too wide for his eyes. The accompanying breastplate also appeared to have been used by a larger man. Like its biblical counterpart (the High Priest’s breastplate contained 12 gems that symbolized him acting as a mediator between God and Israel), the Nephite breastplate was apparently non-essential to the revelatory process.”                                                     

Certainly, there was a change related to the use of the Urim and Thummim after the loss of the 116 pages, Joseph rarely used the Urim and Thummim, opting for his magic seer stone.

Which begs the important question, that I don’t feel the apologists have dealt with; why was this wonderful apparatus preserved for 1,500 years to serve such a limited purpose?

FairMormon also has commented:

The stone is mentioned occasionally in Church publications, but is rarely (if ever) discussed in the 21st century in venues such as Sunday School, nor is it portrayed in any Church-related artwork. This is the conflation of the Nephite interpreters and the seer stone under the name “Urim and Thummim.” In church, we discuss the Urim and Thummim with the assumption that it is always the instrument that Joseph recovered with the plates. Only those familiar with the sources will realize that there was more than one translation instrument.

That said, the Church has been very frank about the seer stone’s use, though the product of the translation of the Book of Mormon is usually given much more attention than the process. Note the mention of the stone in the official children’s magazine, The Friend (available online at lds.org):

OK, we need a reality check here. I am seventy years old, I grew up in the Church, and I believe that like many, perhaps most members I did not hear of the Magic stone in the hat method of translation until quite recently, certainly within the last decade.

It is a little silly for FairMormon to explain this away by saying, “no look we donated a line to it in the Children’s Friend in 1974.”

It should also be noted that Joseph would often correct his own translation on the fly. For example, Mosiah 7:8.

“…they were again brought before the king.. and were permitted or rather commanded that they should answer the questions.”

Are we to believe that this error came across Joseph’s magic rock? Remember he tells us words or sentences would appear, he would speak them to the scribe (usually Oliver Cowdery) who would read it back and only when verified would it disappear and another word or line appears.

Another example is Alma 10:”

“Nevertheless, after all this, I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous power. I said I never had known much of these things; but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people.”

Or, Alma 24:19

“And thus we see that, when these Lamanites were brought to believe and to know the truth, they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin; and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war, for peace.”

A suspicious person would say that Joseph was working from an outline behind the curtain and simply misspoke.

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FairMormon’s Comment on the Bogus Images

“Response to claim: “Why does the Church continue to print bogus pictures and hang misleading paintings in Church buildings showing Joseph running his fingers over “Reformed Egyptian” characters on gold plates?”

All art, including Church art, simply reflects the views of the artist: It may not reflect reality.”

“Why, then, does the art not match details which have repeatedly been spelled out in LDS publications?

The simplest answer may be that artists simply don’t always get such matters right. The critics’ caricature to the contrary, not every aspect of such things is “correlated.” Robert J. Matthews of BYU was interviewed by the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, and described the difficulties in getting art “right”:

Even this does not tell the whole story. “Every artist,” said Henry Ward Beecher, “dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” This is perhaps nowhere more true than in religious art…”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I am sorry, but I don’t buy that. Decision-making in the Mormon Church is more centralized than it is in the Kremlin.

Also, you just said the, “A common complaint is that Church materials usually show Joseph translating the Book of Mormon by looking at the golden plates…” If that is the case, and it has been the case for decades, then why doesn’t the Church do something to correct it.

 

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FairMormon’s Comments on Smith’s Marriages to Young Girls


“Joseph Smith’s polygamous marriages to young women may seem difficult to understand or explain today, but in his own time such age differences were not typically an obstacle to marriage.”
11

“The plural marriages were unusual, to say the least; the younger ages of the brides were much less so. Critics do not provide this perspective because they wish to shock the audience and have them judge Joseph by the standards of the modern era, rather than his own time.”

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon; please. ‘… Difficult to understand and explain today.’ Look at Warren Jeffs, the jury that put him away had little difficulty ‘understanding’ why, like Joseph Smith, Jeffs married very young girls. As the prosecution ‘explained,’ with little difficulty, it was all about SEX.

I am sorry but a 37-year-old man ‘marrying’ a 14-year-old girl was exceedingly rare and viewed with a jaundiced eye even in upstate New York in the 1830s and 1840s. And let’s not forget it was also illegal.

As the census data below shows, less than 1% of all brides in Smith’s day were 14 years old and 37 year-old grooms was about the same. As I will show below, the 14/37 cohort is astronomically small. Fanny/Smith was likely the only 14/37 bride/husband combo that year in the entire state of New York. FairMormon’s attempt to make it sound like young girls barely out of puberty marrying middle-aged men was commonplace is yet another example of their deceitfulness.

chart2

census

Incidentally, Joseph doesn’t hold the record for the age gap when marrying teenage girls.Those bragging rights go to Mormon President Lorenzo Snow, who married a 16-year-old girl when he was 57 years old. Let me again assure you that people of Snow’s time didn’t view sixty was the new twenty!

The most conservative estimates indicate that Joseph entered into plural marriages with 29–33 women, 7 of whom were under the age of 18. The youngest was Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of LDS apostle Heber C. Kimball, who was 14. The rest were 16 (two) or 17 (three). One wife (Maria Winchester) about which virtually nothing is known, was either 14 or 15.

Helen Mar Kimball

Some people have concluded that Helen did have sexual relations with Joseph However, historian Todd Compton does not hold this view; he criticized the ‘anti-Mormons’ Jerald and Sandra Tanner for using his book to argue for sexual relations and wrote:

“The Tanners made great mileage out of Joseph Smith’s marriage to his youngest wife, Helen Mar Kimball. However, they failed to mention that I wrote that there is absolutely no evidence that there was any sexuality in the marriage, and I suggest that, following later practice in Utah, there may have been no sexuality. (p. 638) All the evidence points to this marriage as a primarily dynastic marriage.”

Exactly what type of evidence of sexual activity would you expect to find?”

FairMormon has commented:

“A middle-aged man ‘marrying’ a 14-year-old girl, was far from normal. Joseph Smith’s marriage to Helen Mar Kimball was likely the only 37/14 marriage in New York State that year.  Joseph Smith was sealed to Helen Mar Kimball in 1843 during the time that the Saints lived in Nauvoo, Illinois, not New York State. And, in fact, Illinois Governor Thomas Ford at age 28 was married to 15-year-old bride Frances Hambaugh in 1828, and had five children by her. William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, married a 16-year-old girl in 1808 when he was 37 years old. When his wife died young, Clark married his wife’s cousin. By this time, Clark is in his 50s, marrying a woman in her late 20s. Joseph Smith’s polygamous marriages to young women may seem difficult to understand or explain today, but in his own time such age differences were not typically an obstacle to marriage. The plural marriages were unusual, to say the least; the younger ages of the brides were much less so. Critics do not provide this perspective because they wish to shock the audience and have them judge Joseph by the standards of the modern era, rather than his own time.”

First, Governor Thomas Ford 28/15 cohort is not equivalent to Joseph’s 37/14 – 10 years different. But that in itself does not prove anything.

As the chart above, built from 1840 census shows, a small fraction of 1% of all were 14 years old. It also shows that less than 1% of all grooms are 37 years of age.

We don’t have any statistics on the 37/14 Groom/bride combos, but simple arithmetic and a little common sense would predict it would be extremely small. The probability of a 14/37 cohort is .005 (14-year-old brides) x .01(37-year-old grooms) = .00005 or stated as odds, that is 1 in 20,000. There were 12,000 37 year old men and 22,000 14 year girls in New York State and they certainly didn’t all marry that year.

With the odds of 1:20,000 clearly Joseph/Helen was the only 37/14 cohort in New York that year. 

FairMormon’s statement that “plural marriages were unusual, to say the least; the younger ages of the brides were much less so…” Yes, plural marriages were unusual because they were illegal.

I am not sure what point FairMormon is trying to make by stating that this child was instructed to marry a portly middle-aged man by Dad.

“My father was the first to introduce it to me, which had a similar effect to a sudden shock of a small earthquake. When he found (after the first outburst of displeasure for supposed injury) that I received it meekly.” 12

But then this was the guy who made the statement, “I think no more of taking another wife than buying a cow.”

What a poor child. What a Dad! 13

The Church’s apologists have also commented:

“There is, despite the critics’ insinuations, no evidence that Helen Mar Kimball’s marriage was consummated. (Consummation would not have been inappropriate since this was a marriage, but the critics are too anxious to find problems where no evidence for such exists. Helen did have some disappointments—these mostly revolved around being less free to participate in parties and socials, not at being physically joined to an older husband.”

Here we go again.

Yes, there was no physical examination of Helen after the ‘Honeymoon,’ and as far as we know Smith’s sexual proclivities didn’t favor Ménage à trois so we don’t have any witness to the act.

But here is what Helen Mar Kimball, a girl of just 14 confided to a close friend in Nauvoo about her marriage to Joseph Smith:

“I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.” 14

It is an extreme apologetic position to suggest that we cannot make reasonable inferences. That Smith didn’t have sex with Helen or the many other teenagers he married or the twelve married women he polyandrously married because we cannot produce both first-hand and explicit evidence of sexual intercourse.

FairMormon’s tendency to discount all second-hand evidence as being  “hearsay” and therefore need not be addressed, confuses the rules of the courtroom with the rules of historical scholarship. Something FairMormon is obviously ignorant of.

Obviously, any reasonable person knows that Helen meant it was sexual. As Jeremy Runnells puts it, “This is Warren Jeffs territory,” and had Joseph Smith conducted himself in this manner today, he would have rightfully been imprisoned as Jeffs has been.

The sexual nature of plural marriages should also be acknowledged as the LDS scripture repeatedly stress it:

“… for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth and to bear the souls of men.” 15

Also, let’s not forget that Helen was but one of many teens targeted by Smith:

Fanny Alger, 16

Sarah Ann Whitney, 17

Lucy Walker, 17

Flora Ann Woodworth, 16

Emily Dow Partridge, 19

Sarah Lawrence, 17

Maria Lawrence, 19

Helen Mar Kimball, 14

Nancy M. Winchester, 14?

Clarissa Reed Hancock, 19

Malissa Lott, 19

Joseph Smith may have been a pedophile

FairMormon asserts: “No, actually it wasn’t pedophilia. The facts: Joseph being sealed to Helen does not meet the definition of “pedophilia.” The term “pedophilia” is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as “psychosexual disorder in which an adult has sexual fantasies about or engages in sexual acts with a prepubescent child of the same or the opposite sex”. (sic) Pedophilia requires that the adult involved have sexual acts with a prepubescent child. The term was not even coined until 1896 or broadly utilized until around 1920.”

The essential part of this definition is: “engages in sexual acts with a prepubescent child of the same or the opposite sex.” Pedophilia requires that the adult involved have sexual acts with a prepubescent child.”

OK, two things must be shown to label Joseph Smith, a pedophile:

  1. Helen Kimball (or Nancy Winchester) was fourteen.
  2. Joseph Smith, an adult male had sexual intercourse or engaged in other sexual acts with either of them.

Let’s examine the first condition.

FairMormon makes the irrelevant point that Helen continued to live with her parents after marrying Smith. It is necessary to tell them that pedophilia has to do with sex, not residency.

I will stipulate that Helen was 14.8 years of age when she married Smith. She was born August 22, 1828, and it is thought she married Joseph Smith on May 28, 1843, the date of her father’s blessing.

I am not altogether satisfied with your age of menarche in America in 1840 has a normal distribution close to a mean of 15.2 years and a standard deviation of 1.85. I believe your citation is using European, not US data.

My research (North American girls Boaz (1999) puts menarche at 16.5 in 1840.

Nevertheless, even accepting your numbers, menarche in Helen’s day was between and 13.35 and 17.05.

This means that at 14.8  the odds are 60/40 that she was prepubescent.

To the second point, the assumption, of course, is that marriages are consummated.

As well, as I have indicated previously, Helen indicated sex was involved:

“I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.” 16

By FairMormon’s own statistics and definition then, there is a 60% chance Joseph Smith was a pedophile.

Was he a pedophile? Maybe, but probably not, however the fact that a middle-aged man was marrying teenage girls is troubling enough.

Today Joseph Smith would also be labeled a child rapist and would be a registered sex offender.

Between adults, most sexual activity does not constitute a criminal offense, unless one of the adults does not consent to the activity.

However, minors are unable to give consent under the law. Indeed, the term “minor” refers to a person who has not yet reached the age of “majority, “where they can give consent in any legal matter (for example, a minor cannot make a valid contract). However, actual laws and the maximum ages that constitute a breach of law vary by state but in no case in the United States, today is that age 14. A person engaging in sexual activity with a minor below these proscribed ages – 16–18 is guilty of an offense. As well there are age gap laws that aggravate. A 17-year-old boy while still guilty, would be treated more leniently than a 37-year-old man engaging in sexual activities with a 14-year-old child. In New York State, today a man over 21 who has sex with a girl of 14 is guilty of third-degree rape.

I stand by my statement that Joseph Smith may have been a pedophile.

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FairMormon’s Comments 


Joseph’s use of coercive stratagems to get women, often young girls, to enter plural marriages with him, including the promise of eternal life in the Celestial Kingdom for her and her family

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon provided boilerplate responses not specific to my comments.

I am disappointed in this as the issue of men using their positions of power to abuse and harrass women is such an important matter in the United States today and should have been addressed.

 

FairMormon’s Comments


“Why was the restoration of the priesthood not reported by Joseph and Oliver Cowdery until years later and then earlier revelations changed to match that account?”

We don’t know when Oliver first mentioned the priesthood restoration to anyone – we only know when he first put it in print. But consider this: If Oliver was covering up a fraud on the part of Joseph Smith when he talked of receiving the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, then why didn’t he expose the fraud after he fell into disagreement with Joseph Smith and was excommunicated from the Church? Why, in fact, did Oliver continue to insist that the events related to the restoration of the Priesthood actually happened?

The implication is that Oliver was dishonest, yet his associates during the time that he was a lawyer after leaving the Church viewed his character as “irreproachable.” 5

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Is this the same Oliver Cowdery that Joseph described as, “…too mean to mention, and we had liked to have forgotten.”

Is this the same Oliver Cowdery that Sidney Rigdon, First Counselor in the First Presidency called, “…a lying, thieving, counterfeiting man who was ‘united with a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars, and blacklegs in the deepest dye, to deceive, cheat, and defraud the saints out of their property, by every art and stratagem which wickedness could invent…” 6

 

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FairMormon’s Comments


“Joseph and Emma’s disturbing attempts…to partner swap with William and Jane Law

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR SPIN – THE AUTHOR, OR THE AUTHOR’S SOURCE, IS PROVIDING INFORMATION OR IDEAS IN A SLANTED WAY IN ORDER TO INSTILL A PARTICULAR ATTITUDE OR RESPONSE IN THE READER

This question arises because of a somewhat opaque verse in the Doctrine and Covenants section on plural marriage. (The revelation was written down at Hyrum Smith’s request, who believed that he could persuade Emma Smith of the doctrine’s provenance from God.) The verses in question read:

No one is certain as to what this refers. William Clayton, Joseph’s scribe, and secretary wrote in his contemporaneous journal:

This A.M. President Joseph took me and conversed considerable concerning some delicate matters. Said [Emma] wanted to lay a snare for me. He told me last night of this and said he had felt troubled. He said [Emma] had treated him coldly and badly since I came…and he knew she was disposed to be revenged on him for some things. She thought that if he would indulge himself she would too.”

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

It would appear there is more than just smoke here. William Law, who was at that time Smith’s counselor in the First Presidency, described the “offer” Smith used to appease Emma:

“Joseph offered to furnish his wife, Emma, with a substitute for him, by way of compensation for his neglect of her, on condition that she would forever stop her opposition to polygamy and permit him to enjoy his young wives in peace and keep some of them in her [mansion] house and to be well treated, etc.”

Letter by William Law, on 7 January 1887, Salt Lake Daily Tribune, July 3, 1887

Combined with this report by William Clayton, Joseph’s scribe and secretary, written in his contemporaneous journal also builds the case.

And finally, Smith puzzling round-face revelation below written after the Law’s rejection of the Smith’s indecent proposal fits the story very well.

51. Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice

54. And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else.

I believe this story has ‘legs.’

Is it just me or does it seems absurd that the God of the universe would be occupied with sending Joseph Smith revelations on his petty marital affairs?

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FairMormon’s Comments

FairMormon’s Comment No.1

 The many similarities between the Book of Mormon and The View of the Hebrews

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR SPIN – THE AUTHOR, OR THE AUTHOR’S SOURCE, IS PROVIDING INFORMATION OR IDEAS IN A SLANTED WAY IN ORDER TO INSTILL A PARTICULAR ATTITUDE OR RESPONSE IN THE READER

It is claimed that a 19th-century work by Ethan Smith, View of the Hebrews, provided source material for Joseph Smith’s construction of the Book of Mormon.

Some also postulate a link between Ethan Smith and Oliver Cowdery, since both men lived in Poultney, Vermont while Smith served as the pastor of the church that Oliver Cowdery’s family attended at the time that View of the Hebrews was being written.

The theory the Joseph Smith plagiarized View of the Hebrews was never advanced during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I can’t seem to find your arguments here other than to draw attention to the fact that Joseph knew of the book as he quoted from it and that Oliver Cowdery not only came from the small town where the author lived but attended the church where Ethan Smith, the author, was the pastor.

Absent any argument on FairMormon’s part, I would again point to similarities I detailed above.

FairMormon’s Comment No. 2

The many similarities between the Book of Mormon and
The Golden Pot

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

The “Golden Pot” theory by Grant Palmer is claimed to be a source for the story of Moroni’s visit to Joseph Smith, not a source text or inspiration for the Book of Mormon text.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I am a little confused as I don’t think I suggested in my letter that the Golden Pot was a likely reference source for the Book of Mormon. Perhaps you meant to discuss the Westminster Confession of Faith where there was considerable plagiarism.

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FairMormon’s Comment No. 3

The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain; used in New York state schools which Joseph Smith likely was exposed to, that reads very much like and has staggering parallels and similarities to, the Book of Mormon

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR SPIN – THE AUTHOR, OR THE AUTHOR’S SOURCE, IS PROVIDING INFORMATION OR IDEAS IN A SLANTED WAY IN ORDER TO INSTILL A PARTICULAR ATTITUDE OR RESPONSE IN THE READER

The spin: The “staggering” parallels aren’t so “astounding” once you take a closer look at them. The facts: The critic scours a book in order to extract similar phrases, then declares that this proves that this book was a source for the Book of Mormon.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Again, FairMormon does not deal with my concerns but provides thirty-two links to prior generic apologies they have made on this subject. This lazy-man’s approach is similar to the way Uchtdorf handles questions directed at him.

Before I comment further on this topic I would invite the reader to compare the form-letter response I got from Uchtdorf in 2017 with the form-letter response Jennifer received from him in 2014:
reply

jennifer

I don’t think I used the word, “astounding “ to describe the similarities between The Book of Mormon and The Late War between the United States and Great Britain, but I agree they are astounding.

This textbook, written by Gilbert J. Hunt in scriptural style discussed, among things, the War of 1812.  It was published in New York in 1816 and marketed as “for the use of schools throughout the United States” under the title, The Historical Reader. It was used in the schools that both Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery attended, and it is also highly likely that Oliver Cowdery taught from it.

Yes, there are staggering parallels and similarities between it and the Book of Mormon. FairMormon has not provided any explanation. Are we to write it off as another coincidence? 

As I have detailed in my letter, both books contain numerous common terms, devices of “curious workmanship,” “Stripling soldiers,” “rod of iron.” These are unusual terms.  

There is a relatively new and powerful technique in the field of computational linguistics and probability called n-gram analysis.

The concept itself is quite simple but its application all but impossible until the advent of powerful computers. An n-gram is a contiguous sequence of items from a given arrangement of text or speech.

The items can be words, letters, or syllables. The ‘n’ in n-gram represents the number of elements of the sequence, for example, 4-gram would be four words in sequence, ‘now is the time.’

With the aid of modern, powerful computers, we can compare two documents regarding how often the same four (or three words in the case of 3-gram, five words in the case of 5-gram, etc.) words in the same sequence or order appear in both. When two books have a high relative frequency of n-grams the greater the probability that plagiarism has occurred. I say relative because the n-gram finding is compared to n-gram frequencies found within other documents from the same period.

An example would be comparing the Book of Mormon (1830) with Pride and Prejudice (1813). You would expect that the 4-gram would show a very low frequency. This is, in fact, the case. In October 2013, researchers Chris and Duane Johnson conducted an n-gram analysis of The Book of Mormon comparing it to over 100,000 books from the pre-1830’s era. They found that a book called The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain had a very high n-gram score.

In fact, the computer algorithm found over 100 rare 4-grams shared by both The Book of Mormon and The Late War. To put this into perspective, they found that The Late War contained more 4-gram connections to The Book of Mormon than 99.999% of the other books published before 1830.

These findings are highly significant because they show beyond any reasonable doubt that the author(s) of the Book of Mormon plagiarized from The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain published in 1816, just fourteen years before the Book of Mormon.

Does this in itself prove that Joseph Smith consciously, purposefully and with fraudulent intent copied material from The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain?

While most likely, I don’t think we can go quite that far.

In 1976, former ‘Beatle’ George Harrison was sued by Bright Tunes Music, the publisher of “He’s So Fine,” on behalf of Ronnie Mack, the songwriter who had died in 1963, shortly after his tune became the No. 1 hit in the United States. Harrison testified at trial, “I wasn’t consciously aware of the similarity between ‘He’s So Fine’ and ‘My Sweet Lord’ when I wrote the song, as it was more improvised and not so fixed.”

Judge Owen, who analyzed the music of both songs, ruled that “it is perfectly obvious to the listener that in musical terms, the two songs are virtually identical.”

The judge found that Harrison “subconsciously” plagiarized “He’s So Fine.” He also stated that, “…I do not believe he did so deliberately,”’ but “under the law, infringement of copyright is no less so even though subconsciously accomplished.”

It is impossible for us to know what went on in Smith’s head, perhaps we can best determine his motivations by examining his conduct and the worth of his character in other matters.

 

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FAIRMORMON COMMENTS


“The core of Mormon doctrine is centered wholly in Christ and his atonement. Without the foundation which the Book of Mormon lays, the other LDS teachings are meaningless. The Book of Mormon itself defines “the gospel” as simply the doctrine of Christ, faith in him, repentance, and the introductory ordinances. (What are these introductory ordinances?)

There are many religious topics and doctrines which The Book of Mormon does not discuss in detail (e.g., the premortal existence, see Alma 13:), and some which are not even mentioned (e.g., the ordinance of baptism for the dead).

This is unsurprising since the Book of Mormon’s goal is to teach the “fullness of the gospel”—the doctrine of Christ.”

DOUGLAS’ COMMENTS

FairMormon says, “The core of Mormon doctrine is centered wholly in Christ and his atonement. Without the foundation which the Book of Mormon lays, the other LDS teachings are meaningless.

Fine, except we are not speaking of ‘centrality;’ we are taking about ‘fullness.’

The difference is shouldn’t be too difficult for you to grasp if we use an example.

The central focus of the US Bill of Rights is the protection of individual rights and freedoms. The fullness would, however, include the ten amendments to the United States Constitution.

  1. Freedom of speech
  2. Right to bear arms
  3. Protection against housing soldiers in civilian home
  4. Protection against unreasonable search and seizure, protection against the issuing of warrants without probable cause
  5. Protection against trial without indictment double jeopardy self-incrimination property seizure
  6. Right to a speedy trial. Right to be informed of charges Right to be confronted by witnesses. Right to call witnesses. Right to a legal counsel
  7. Right to trial by jury
  8. Protection against excessive bail excessive fines cruel and unusual punishment
  9. Rights granted in the Constitution shall not infringe on other rights
  10. Powers not granted to the Federal Government in the Constitution belong to the states or the

Can it be argued that it is enough that our fellow citizens know that the US Bill of rights affords them certain rights without knowing what those rights are?

No, to bring any benefit to the citizens of this great nation, to make our sacred freedoms come to life, we require the ‘fullness’ or the legislation.

Likewise, the efficacy, that is, that which animates the ‘Gospel’ comes from the fullness of it.  The most important thing being is our Dear Lords atonement, our faith in him and the repentance of our sins.

But my friends are these are the just those things that all true Christians and their Church’s belief.

You need to ask yourself the question:

“Is it possible that the Book of Mormon cannot contain “the fullness of the gospel” because it doesn’t teach certain unique LDS doctrines, such as baptism for the dead, the Word of Wisdom, the three degrees of glory, celestial marriage, vicarious work for the dead, and the corporeal nature of God the Father?”

I think with a little thought you will agree that it cannot contain the fullness of the Gospel, without those things that make the Mormon religion unique.

If you answer it is yes, that the Book of Mormon can contain the fullness of the Gospel that baptism for the dead, the Word of Wisdom, the belief in three degrees of glory, and knowledge of celestial marriage, the importance of vicarious work for the dead, etc. are not significant, essential or even necessary to the Gospel.

I invite you to make that comment in the next Gospel Doctrine class you attend:

“Brothers and Sisters, the Word of Wisdom, the three degrees of glory, celestial marriage, and the work for the dead, are not part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as they are not found it the Book of Mormon, so conduct yourselves accordingly!”

 References

1 Ray Anderson, The Book of Mormon, A Voice From 19th Century Dust, Seattle, WA, 2007, pp. 41-42

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FairMormon’s Comments


Several witnesses to the Book of Mormon confessed that they did not see the plates with their natural eyes, but with ‘visions of the mind.’

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES


DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Again, FairMormon as is their custom talks about errors and suggests there is erroneous or incorrect information without providing any collaborating evidence or details.

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FairMormon’s Comments


Why does the Book of Mormon incorrectly state that Jesus was born in Jerusalem?

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

The Book of Mormon does not claim that “Jesus was born in Jerusalem”. It claims that Jesus was born “at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers.” It is referring to the land of Jerusalem.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

We could accept this as a reasonable explanation, were it not for the fact that Joseph Smith in his arrogance made the fanciful and demonstrably false statement that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on Earth.

But to state that I have stated ‘erroneous or incorrect information’ by pointing out Smith’s mistake says a great deal about FairMormon’s raison d’être.

 

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FairMormon’s Comments


“How do we overcome the problem of large populations and armies arising in such a short period?

Question: Was the Lehite colony too small to produce the population sizes indicated by the Book of Mormon?

The Book of Mormon contains many overt references, and some more oblique ones, to ‘other’ peoples that were part of the demographic mix in Book of Mormon times

A superficial reading of the Book of Mormon leads some to conclude that the named members of Lehi’s group were the only members of Nephite/Lamanite society.

The Book of Mormon contains many overt references, and some more oblique ones, to ‘other’ peoples that were part of the demographic mix in Book of Mormon times. Indeed, many Book of Mormon passages make little sense unless we understand this. The Nephite record keeps its focus on a simplistic “Nephite/Lamanite” dichotomy both because it is a kinship record, and because its focus is religious, not politico-historical.

But, as one author observed, it is inescapable that there were substantial populations in the “promised land” throughout the Nephite record, and probably in the Jaredite era also. The status and origin of these peoples are never made clear because the writers never set out to do any such thing; they had other purposes. We cannot understand the demographic or cultural history of Lehi’s literal descendants without taking into account those other groups, too.

Hereafter, readers will not be justified in saying that the record fails to mention “others” but only that we readers have hitherto failed to observe what is said and implied about such people in the Book of Mormon.”

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

As I say in my letter, the population growth suggested in the Book of Mormon is unrealistic. If we work from the assumption the western hemisphere was empty when the Book of Mormon peoples arrived. Professional demographers agree that the population growth rate indicated would have to be about thirty times the rate that existed in the world as a whole during the same era to reach the numbers spoken of in the Book of Mormon. This suggests other preexisting populations.

This. however, conflicts with The Book of Mormon which seems to claim that the hemisphere was empty at the time of Lehi’s arrival. 2 Nephi, Chapter 1:

8 And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance.

9 Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever. . . .

This NEW theory of other populations may help the apologists deal with their DNA problem.

 

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