Introduction – Section One

Click for Dr. Douglas’ Introduction from the Hill Cumorah

On June 18th, 2017, I wrote to President Dieter Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the sincere hope he might take the time to respond to several specific concerns I had about the truth claims of the Mormon church.

President Uchtdorf was my choice because I viewed him as one of very few General Authorities that might have the intelligence, courage, and humility to at least attempt address my concerns.

bookI had a colleague remark to me that not only would Elder Uchtdorf not personally answer my questions, but in all likelihood he would never even see my letter. Rather I could expect a form letter response from an underling and/or a missive from my Stake President.

Sadly, and it would seem predictably, that is just what happened. I did receive a rather terse ‘form-letter’ riposte from his secretary who also copied my Stake President.

Considering the age and the tenure the ‘Brethren,’ have enjoyed, they must all be painfully aware of the many problems, contradictions and inconsistencies vis-à-vis the truth claims of the LDS church, as well as the myriad accusations of corruption, dishonesty, profligacy, and immorality leveled at the church’s founder Joseph Smith Jr.

It is likely that the leadership of the church has no answers beyond those they encourage their apologists to propagate, however considering the church’s historic lack of openness, they may be privy to inculpatory documents safely locked away in the First Presidency’s vault, that may help complete the picture.

Occasionally I have heard an intrepid member muse, “Do you think they, that is, the general authorities, believe the LDS church is true, or are they victims of self-delusion, avarice, the affluent lifestyle the church provides them; or is about ego and an exaggerated sense of self-importance ignited by all the bowing and scraping of lessor beings?” Is it the ‘fortune in men’s eyes,‘ that drives them?

The late Grant Palmer, author of, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins spoke about several meetings he had with a general authority, who told him straight up that the apostles all learn within a year or two of being called that the Mormon church is a fraud.

Did Palmer’s insider know what he was talking about, was he telling the truth?

There is no way for me to know if this fellow’s statement was correct. He may well have been telling the truth or he may have been deluded, had an ax to grind; was lying or simply as mad as a March hare. He certainly wouldn’t be the first GA for whom any of these adjectives might be apropos.

But, having read Grant’s books on Jesus, having communicated with him and being aware of his service to the least among us – inmates in the Utah prison system; I don’t doubt that Grant was telling the truth.

Notwithstanding the cynical view this story takes, I think it is wrong to go as far as to assume evil motives on the part of the ‘Brethren.’

While I may and do disagree with many of the statements they have made I am sure they are, for the most part, good men.

When I was a child, Hugh B. Brown, served in our little Canadian branch, my father knew and revered him, describing him to me as a man of God, a man without guile.

Although Elder Brown later served as an Apostle and member of the First Presidency, he too confessed to moments of doubt, as shown by his following letter to a friend going through a faith crisis:

“I was really glad to get your letter of October 25th, and I appreciate your confidence. The revelation of your mental and spiritual struggle does not come as a surprise, that the waters of your usual placid soul had become somewhat, roiled and disturbed.

Would you be surprised if I should tell you that I, too, have had periods of perplexity, uncertainty, and doubt; that I, too, have known the darkness, fogginess, and chill of the valley which lies between illuminated peaks of faith and confidence, and that only the memory of the hilltops along the road over which I have come coupled with the somewhat misty vision of others still ahead has given me the courage to plod on when I was tempted to “chuck it all,” to wrap myself in the comfortless blanket of doubt and self-commiseration and just quit the field.

Well, I have had that experience. But this I can say positively, that each peak which I have climbed has seemed higher and more inspiring than the last, due at least in part, I think, to the dark background of the valley through which I came. Sharp contrasts are sometimes most revealing.

In view of the above admission, you will not expect an argument or a brief on faith in God and immortality. However, and I hope it may be so, a relating of some personal experiences and observations may give you a fellow-feeling and bring comfort, courage, hope, and faith may renew in you the spirit of adventure, of zest for the quest of truth.”

I find Elder Brown’s honesty not only refreshing in today’s LDS church, but stirringly human. If this good man said he believed the church to be true, I don’t doubt that he truly believed it. Do brother Brown’s personal beliefs convince one that the Mormon church is true? Of course not, but perhaps one should keep the statements that Palmer’s GA made in perspective.

Nonetheless, putting this question aside for the moment, all is not well in Zion.

I suspect that there have never been so many people abandoning the LDS church since Joseph’s difficulties in 1838.

In a recent article by Jana K. Riess, a writer on American religion entitled, “The Next Mormon Research,”she indicates proportionately why members are leaving the LDS church.

Her work shows 6% of respondents said they left the church after discovering Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by looking at a “magic stone” in his hat. Another 3% because of the overwhelming DNA evidence showing no Hebrew nexus with the aboriginal peoples of North America; but one-third, over 30%, reported that they left because they could not trust the leadership of the church to tell the truth.

Clearly the church’s current raison d’être, fails on several fronts.

One being that the church sees open, honest dialogue as a real and present danger. I don’t think it is unfair to say that they are always on the defensive when it comes to dissent. Their fear is reflected in such Orwellian avowals as,” Not everything that is true is useful,”and” It’s wrong to criticize the leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true.” 

President Gordon Hinckley once said, with a straight face, “We have nothing to hide, our history is an open book.” 

I think that even the church historian, Dr. Leonard Arrington might take issue with Hinckley having written in the first issue of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought in 1966, 

“It is unfortunate for the cause of Mormon history that the Church Historian’s Library, which is in the possession of virtually all of the diaries of leading Mormons, has not seen fit to publish these diaries or to permit qualified historians to use them without restriction”

Boyd K. Packer, rebuked Arrington’s remarks in behalf of the church by responding,

“There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful.”

Nevertheless I have taken Hinckley at his word and delved into that ‘open book,’ and I must confess, I am troubled by what I find on its pages.

In this letter, I pose what, from my perspective, are the most significant questions and fundamental problems relating to the historicity of Mormonism, the church’s foundational claims and the Joseph Smith story itself.

I am simply asking questions and providing commentary, although it is often hard not to form conclusions. 

I  have tried to be fair and balanced, presenting the most intelligible rebuttals or remedies that FairMormon, the LDS church’s leading cadre of apologists have published vis-à-vis my interrogatories. It is my hope that this methodology might help others, who like myself, are experiencing honest doubts, to discover what is true and what is not.

I make no apologies for seeking the truth. The Second Epistle of Peter warns us that, ‘In their greed teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories.

The Lord Jesus himself warned, ‘take heed that no man deceives you.‘ We have a lot of deceivers today, ‘many false prophets will rise and deceive many.’

In Matthew 7:15-20  the Lord again tells us to ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.’

I have never had, nor do I now have any agenda beyond a genuine search for knowledge, nor am I animated by any of the self-serving motivations that Mormons seem to jump to when someone leaves or even begins to question the LDS church:

1. Someone gave offense: No one hurt me, I love and respect my friends and family many of whom are committed members. Latter-day Saints are good and kind people most of whom are living honorable lives.

2. A desire to sin: I am 71 years old, so it’s a little late for that!

3. Never had a testimony in the first place: Wrong again, I would not have served in various callings, paid my tithing and attended the temple if I had not at one time believed?

4. Lazy, not reading the scriptures: I love the Bible, particularly the New Testament and I read it often; admittedly the Book of Mormon, not so much.

5. Seduced by anti-Mormon literature: Hardly, it is easy to identify those who hate and those whose purpose is to destroy. I would not consider writers and researchers such as Richard Bushman, Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Fawn Brodie, B. H. Roberts, Dan Vogel, Thomas Murphy or Grant Palmer anti-Mormon merely because they have dared to question.

The fact is, anyone with anything approaching an open mind, need not read anything beyond the church’s scriptures themselves (the original as well as the revised versions), the history of the church, Ensign articles or the writings of Joseph Smith to come face-to-face with myriad problems, as well as very significant doctrinal changes, revisions and inconsistencies.

There are so many wonderful things about Mormon culture. How can anyone brought up in the LDS church not be touched by the wonderful historic hymns, such as Come Come Ye Saints, We thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet, or The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning.  I honor the many good men and women within the church who taught me as a child  ‘the truth’ at least as they saw it.

I truly wish for the church to be true for what an amazing and beautiful future it portends. To be forever together with loved ones, to walk with the Savior and grow, learn and progress forever.

But we must avoid the siren call of self-delusion.

No matter how appealing Joseph Smith’s ‘Plan of Salvation,’ it must be real, designed by Deity and not merely the musing of an ambitious, unlettered but brilliantly creative ploughboy ‘prophet.’

I have found that the more I have studied the church’s true histiocity and the more I have come to know the real Joseph Smith, the more conflicted I have felt and the more I have come to the place where I believe there is more than a reasonable probability that the LDS church is not what it purports to be.

Jeremiah 23:16 says  “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.”

There is a wonderful allegory in Book Seven of Plato’s The Republic often referred to as ‘Plato’s Cave.’ It tells the story of men held prisoner, chained and shackled such that they cannot look to their left, their right or behind themselves; rather they can only see forward at the wall directly in front.

Behind them is a blazing fire and between them and the fire a corridor along which men walk carrying statues, tools and other large objects. All that the prisoners can see however, is the shadows of the objects that are projected on the cave wall in front of them.

Some older prisoners, ‘the elders,’ have developed explanations as to what these shadows represent; what their meaning is. 

One day, a prisoner is released. Now free to wander the cave, he sees the fire, and objects carried in front of it. This former prisoner comes to understand the origins of the shadows, and to his amazement, he sees that the shadows were often misinterpreted. He hurries back to share with his fellow prisoners the true meaning of the shadows, what the truth is. But rather than welcome and embrace this new knowledge, his former friends ridiculed him, particularly the elders, who even seek to take his life.

Finally, the freed prisoner is let out of the cave into the world beyond, a world filled with radiant sunshine where he can now see the fullness of reality illuminated by the brilliance of the sun.

You and I are like those prisoners. We see as it says in Corinthians, through a glass darkly. We live in a world where, like the prisoners, our knowledge is imperfect; a world of conjecture and illusion.

Some ‘elders’ presume to know what the shadows mean, but they too are prisoners, and their shackles are as firmly in place as is our own.

I don’t presume to be that prisoner freed from his chains who now longs to share the truth as only he can see it. I am a fellow prisoner, viewing the shapes and shadows on the wall, but seeking the truth by asking those questions that the ‘elders’ hope are never asked.  

We will all leave the cave one day and will discover in that day, as we enter that new world filled with the dazzling brightness of truth that our lives have been spent wisely engaged in a correct and worthy cause, or that we have been well meaning but credulous fools, desiring so much to feel good about our present and our future, to feel safe, that we had become victims of an attractive fraud.

I hope that this letter and the research supporting it might provide greater clarity regarding the shadows that animate our actions and beliefs. I hope that at least it will show that there are alternative interpretations to those presented by the ‘elders.’

This study may cement your testimony as you face the greatest problems with the current LDS narrative and come to more fully embrace the explanations and/or rationalizations proffered by the church and her apologists as being altogether reasonable and acceptable.

Or it might lead you to a place where you discover that your knowledge and the breadth of understanding based on what you have been taught is far less than perfect, complete or even true. That there is much more to the Joseph Smith story than the carefully constructed, sanitized and incomplete story that you have been presented with in Sunday school, priesthood meeting, relief society or by those rosey-cheeked young missionaries.

In either case it is a fascinating story.

But let me end this preface with a warning.

There is a great line spoken by Jack Nicholson in the film, “A Few Good Men,” where in response to a prosecutor’s cross examination, Nicholson’s character shouts, “The truth, you can’t handle the truth!”

 “Ignorance really can be bliss.”

When you view the image below, at first blush you will see either a young attractive woman with her head turned away from you, or you will see an old witch.

If you persist, you will eventually come to see both.

From that point on however, any time you again view this same image you will immediately see both iterations.

So, read on at your peril, because once the toothpaste is out of the tube, you will never get it back in again.

 

witch


A Letter to an Apostle

“… convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical argument, or by the word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you will have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God for redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds.”

Apostle Orson Pratt

As you say, Orson. I have asked many questions in my ‘A Letter to an Apostle’ that as Orson says. ‘by reason and logic’ are difficult to reconcile.

I am not asking out of ignorance. I have diligently sought out, explored, researched and thoroughly investigated each of the concerns and difficulties that are at issue for me. I have sought out the most recent, reliable and comprehensive material related to each of my interrogatories. I have also endeavored to provide only facts and verifiable data rather than opinions or testimonies.

As I have already said, most of the facts I quote as well as the commentaries I reference come from church-friendly sources, LDS historical documents, church newspapers and magazines, the Journal of Discourses, Lectures on Faith and the History of the church. I have also gone to the letters of learned and even some not so learned church leaders, and, of course, the Scriptures themselves.

The rest of the facts, data and information has been garnered from serious and often meticulous research conducted by many of the world’s leading scholars in several scientific disciplines and, of course, professional historians. You will not find reference to the many mean-spirited articles posted on the Internet by those whose obvious purpose is to mock and despoil.

When it comes to questions of a purely scientific nature, matters relating to archaeology, anthropology, paleontology or genetics, I have given greater credence to the considered opinions of non-Mormon scientists and researchers because these scholars have fewer biases and predispositions that might impede their willingness to go where the truth leads them.

It is no secret that at BYU and all other LDS owned post-secondary institutions, any criticism of the church, its policies or its leaders is ‘verboten.’ In fact even though those who teach there my be free American citizens, should they espouse, even privately, any view which the ‘Brethren‘ disapproval of, they run the risk of termination.  

Ruthie Robertson, a professor of political science discovered this was the case when she placed a post on her personal Facebookpage supporting the LGBT community. BYU demanded she retract her comments and when she refused, she was summarily dismissed.

When a reporter asked the church to comment on the state of academic freedom at BYU, they released the following statement:

Mormon Brethren Silencing Scholars? 

“All good LDS, including scholars, must accept the judgment of the Church’s General Authorities. If it is what the brethren want, then good LDS must say it is appropriate. This may be difficult for scholars, but obedience is an important concept.”

Salt Lake Tribune , May 26, 1983, p. B4

Having taught at a large public university which, like most, placed great value on freedom of expression, and a commitment to the pursue truth without fear of where it may lead, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to work at a place like BYU where authoritarian efforts to curtail free and independent thinking has become a way of life. 

Also, it is important to recognize that non-Mormon academics publish and are thereby subject to peer review. In contrast, it is extremely rare that a paper on archaeology or anthropology coming out of a school like BYU would even be accepted for publication by a prestigious scientific journal, let alone face the often-withering examination of one’s fellow scholars.

efore we continue, I would like to tell you that I had no intention of writing this. I sought answers from others including local priesthood leaders long before writing to President Uchtdorf. However having taken on the task, if you will forgive back to back metaphors, I intend to leave no rock unturned and let the chips fall where they may. 

When I have asked local church leaders or at least intelligent, educated members of the church to speak to the challenges I am facing, the typical response is no response; instead, there would be a somewhat awkward and uncomfortable change of subject.

It soon became clear to me that faithful Mormons feel that if they were even to entertain a question concerning the church’s official narrative; they would be somehow sucked into an abyss of disbelief resulting in an alarming disruption of their comfortable homeostasis.

I remember once asking an relative, who also happened to be a Mormon bishop, how he deals with the fact that there is no archaeological evident supporting the Book of Mormon? You would have thought I asked him how often he had sex with his wife. The conversation went from archaeology to the color he planned to paint his kitchen in the “twinkling of an eye.”

The vast majority of Mormons are remarkably ignorant of the history of their own religion as well as the behavior and character of its founder Joseph Smith Jr. Even bishops and stake presidents are knowingly unaware of much that I present here.

So, absent any help from ward or stake priesthood leaders or Uchtdorf himself, I published this open letter on the Internet in 2017 with the faint hope that someone in the church’s leadership might still care enough respond to my concerns.

While I have yet to receive any direct response to this letter from any of the ‘Brethren,’ it seems to have gotten their attention as FairMormon  published a lengthy rebuttal to it. Their confutation can be found at:

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Onli ne_documents/A_Letter_to_an_Apostle/The_Letter

Since writing my letter to an apostle, through thousands of hours of careful research and the reading of all of FairMormon’s often implausible apologies, I now doubt that anything coming from Uchtdorf or his brethren could broaden my understanding of what is true and what is not.

I don’t wish to imply that all of FairMormon’s responses to my on-line letter were of no value. Some of their explanations were creative and interesting and a few of their apologies, while unlikely, were at least possible. Most were however laughable.

Most often these anonymous defenders of the faith, lacking convincing answers, would nonetheless proffer a defense or rationalization no matter how illogical or implausible rather than just saying, “we don’t know.

FairMormon is of course preaching to the choir; their raison d’etre is to justify any and all statements and actions taken by Church leaders past and present. You will never hear them say, ‘that was a mistake;’ or ‘president Nelson is no expert in that area,’ rather they dispense superficially plausible apologetic ‘snake oil,’ that will be eagerly swallowed by members who just crave enough elixir to dull their pesky cognitive dissonance.

FairMormon recognizes that true believing or chapel Mormons are not looking for a deep dive into truth, rather just enough conjectural adhesive to keep their shelves from altogether collapsing.

FairMormon searches for, interprets, and favors only that information and just those data which confirm their pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses; their conclusions had been set before they have even given ear to any argument or evidence. This is called ‘confirmation bias,’and it is intellectually dishonest.

I have been around long enough and have studied history and human nature long enough to feel that well-meaning zealots seldom do anything to advance the cause of truth and often do much to harm it. Examples range from the church’s sexually incursive and psychologically damaging youth interviews to the obscenity of the Mountain Meadows slaughter of more than 120 innocent men, women and children by pious garment-wearing Mormons and their ‘priesthood’ leaders.

Care must be taken that feelings do not trump facts. 

So, instead of taking these apologists’ avowals as ‘Gospel,’ I have commented where I feel their responses to what I have written are misleading or lack credulity or plain old common sense. My standard is simple – what would a reasonable man or woman find more compelling and believable – the evidence, facts and first-hand statements I have uncovered and carefully cited in my research or the most imaginative arguments and renouncements, the Mormon church, and her army of apologists have carefully crafted?

To apply this standard, I have devised a rating system 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 as, ‘from among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.’ It is the most likely to be true or at least the most correct – until proven otherwise. It is the same principle taught in medical school, “when you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras!”

‘Occam’s Razor’ then is the test, and I have distilled it into the following rating scale to test the apologist’s efforts.

occam

The Mormon church is an immensely wealthy, powerful and secretive corporation seeking to secure the time and acquire the treasure of sincere, honest people who are, more often than not, no match for the church’s well-oiled PR machine. So, forgive me if I do not pull any punches in presenting facts and evidence that raise doubts about the Church’s narrative or the truthfulness of its past or present leadership.

I don’t believe it unfair to say that honesty has never been a core value for the Mormon leadership, and I am not just talking about Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and John Taylor who it can be easily shown lied repeatedly, but many more recent, prophets as well.

Gordon B. Hinckley is viewed with great affection by many members and I am sure in many ways he was a good man, I met him a couple of times, and he seemed like a nice enough old man. He certainly didn’t project any prophetic vibe to me even though I was a TBM at those times. But president Hinckley was certainly a practitioner of, I’ll be kind, “situational ethics.”

In an interview with Time Magazine in August 1997, then Mormon president Hinckley was asked,“ Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?”

He responded,“I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it, and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.”

“I don’t know if we teach it?”

Could Gordon have missed what Joseph Smith said about it: “God himself was Once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret, and He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.”

Or, was he in his dotish and forgot what he himself had written just a decade before this interview:

“The whole design of the gospel is to lead us, onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood. This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the King Follett sermon and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. It is this grand and incomparable concept: As God now is, man may become!”

Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 179;
“Eternal Progression.

Does Hinckley’s behavior jive with what the church preaches on honesty? 

“Lying is intentionally deceiving others. Bearing false witness is one form of lying…There are many other forms of lying. When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.”

Gosple Principles lesson 31: Honesty

But ‘Lying for the Lord’ has always been almost a way of life for Mormon leadership.

As far back as the 1840’s Joseph Smith institutionalized the practice of lying. He found it expedient, so that church leaders could deny he was practicing polygamy and polyandry and keep Smith out of legal trouble. This allowed church leaders to deceive with a clear conscience; blasphemously believing that God permitted and even encouraged lying.

When accused of practicing “polygamy” Smith always denied it because it was “celestial “marriage” that he was engaged in something different Smith reasoned. Smith wanted his followers to believe that the two terms were completely dissimilar.

If his accusers in and out of the church did not frame their allegations using precisely the right terms, the leaders felt justified in prevaricating. If the accusers framed their words perfectly, Joseph and the church leaders lied anyway.

Like many, I was never been a fan of Boyd Packer; to me he was a hateful little man full of inane pronouncements, but as we are discussing truth and honesty among the ‘brethren,’ let me provide one of his gems:

“I have a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting. It destroys. I could tell most of the secretaries in the church office building that they are ugly and fat. That would be the truth, but it would hurt and destroy them. Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting.”

Boyd K. Packer, Faithful History:
Essay on Writing Mormon History, p.103, fn.  

Does this sound like something Peter or Andrew or any one of the true Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ would utter?

But the likes of Boyd Packer are hardly representative of rank and file Latter-Day Saints. and you certainly can’t condemn a whole church because of a few fools within its leadership.

As I say in my letter to President Uchtdorf which follows, I have always found that, with few exceptions, Latter-day Saints, are honest, kind and decent people. Therefore, I don’t doubt that the nameless apologists volunteering their time and talents to FairMormon are, at least for the most part, doing the best they can with what they have been taught to defend their beliefs and the institution that has inculcated them.

But surely religious fervor, or a strong, “testimony” should not be our standard when searching to know what is true, the only arrow in our quiver? 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.”

Nor do I accept the Orwellian mantra hoisted on an already cowed people by Dallin Oaks that, “Not everything that’s true is useful.”

Useful to whom and for what purpose Dallin?

It would seem that Oaks has not considered that the corollary to his puerile statement must also hold, “That not everything that is false is NOT useful!”

I am told that president Oaks once trained as a lawyer and not at BYU but at a highly ranked law school, the University of Chicago. Surely, he must have taken at least one class in classical logic or philosophy.

Perhaps not or maybe he has just forgotten the ‘Law of the Excluded Middle,’ espoused by Bertrand Russell. The law states that if ‘A is B’ is false, then ‘A is not B’ must be true.

If we accept that brother Oaks statement in the affirmative that, ‘A – Not everything that is true’ is ‘B – Useful,’ then the negative corollary,‘ Not everything that is false is not useful,’ must also be true. But then again, perhaps Oaks does in fact believe that. There is no lack of examples in the Mormon experience where things that are known to be wholly untrue are nonetheless very useful – to them.

Joseph Smith’s denials of his illegal polygamous and polyandrious marriages, and the lies he told the Saints and his wife. False statements? Certainly, but very useful – to him and his agenda!’

The many paintings hanging in Mormon chapels, visitor centers and temples across the globe and the pictures still being reproduced in church books and manuals, showing a young strong-chinned Joseph Smith studiously examining the ‘Reformed Egyptian‘ characters on the golden plates while his faithful scribe sits across from him writing down his ‘translation.’ A much more inspiring image than reality – Smith bent over, with his hat in his lap and his head in his hat.

Which of the following two images might move an ‘investigator’ more?

pics

The church has always known these images were not true representations of reality, but they remain because they are useful.

FairMormon in a rather desperate attempt to justify the use of these inaccurate, misleading but faith promoting images suggests that the ‘church’ wanted their artists to create something approaching reality, but their contractors simply chose not to.

Anthony Sweat in his essay “The Gift and Power of Art” quotes artist Walter Rane as saying,

“At least twice I have been approached by the Church to do that scene [Joseph translating using the hat]. I get into it. When I do the drawings, I think, “This is going to look really strange to people.” Culturally from our vantage point 200 years later it just looks odd. It probably won’t communicate what the Church wants to communicate. Instead of a person being inspired to translate ancient records it will just be.”

Does FairMormon want us to believe that the highly centralized, authoritarian LDS church defers to the imaginings of their retainers regardless of their specific directives?

Are we to believe that had Mr. Rane been impressed to draw a leprechaun on Smith’s shoulder the ‘brethren’ would have demurred?

So, I intend to call bullshit where I find it, whether it comes from Dallin Oaks, Russell Nelson, FairMormon or Joseph Smith himself.

With that said, in the words of that great dame Bette Davis, “Fasten your seatbelts, this is going to be a bumpy night!”

Paul A. Douglas

July 2017

 

My Letter to President Uchtdorf

 

A Letter to an Apostle:

A Cry in the Canadian Wilderness

June 18, 2017

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
50 East North Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84150

My Dear President:

I am writing to you in the spirit of honesty and a genuine hope and desire to commune directly with you. I have respect for you and the compassionate and honest approach you have taken to those experiencing doubts.

I am a lifetime member of the Church, father of five, a high priest and married in the Salt Lake Temple.

My family emigrated from Ireland to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada when I was five. The Edmonton branch then had N. Eldon Tanner as its President.

As a student and teacher of organizational behavior, particularly bureaucracies for over forty years, it is clear to me that the LDS Church is heading into rough waters. A squall that may well threaten the Church’s viability; at least in its present form.

Max Weber, the great German sociologist, and political economist was born twenty years after Joseph Smith’s death. He spent his life studying power, authority, and the functioning of large-scale organizations in the political, economic, and administrative realms.

Weber recognized that bureaucracies are created and organized according to rational principles. Incumbents being ranked in a hierarchical order with their functions characterized by impersonal rules and governed by the methodical apportionment of jurisdiction and defined spheres of responsibility.

He correctly predicted that bureaucratic coordination of the actions of vast numbers of people would become the dominant structural feature of modern organizations. Weber saw the bureaucracy as the favored organizational form, the one that would shape both the modern polity and economy. Weber felt that the bureaucracy offered the same advantages to the enterprise that assembly-line productive efficiency provided to mechanical production.

Weber also noted, however, that there were limitations and dysfunctions with the bureaucratic form of organization. Its primary advantage, the high probability of predetermined results, also makes it cumbersome and inflexible in dealing with specific or unique individual cases and or changing circumstances. Weber argued that bureaucratization leads to depersonalization, a structural intransigence and a slow response to change which can portend its collapse.

I believe the following four weaknesses that threaten the viability of any bureaucracy are becoming more pronounced in the LDS Church in this generation:

Rigid Inflexibility: A strict compliance with rules and regulations to the degree of discouraging useful initiative and creativity and resulting in a slow reaction to change and a hesitant response to crisis.

Impersonality: An unthinking perfunctory way of doing things being stressed. With organizational rules and regulations being given priority over the individual’s needs, desires or feelings.

Goal Displacement: The tendency for the rules drawn to achieve corporate objectives at every level in the organization becoming an end in themselves. 

Isolation at the Top: As the organization grows in complexity, those at the top become increasingly out of touch with lower level participants and their issues, fears, and concerns.

The growth of the Mormon Church is over.

Yes, members will continue to have children although at much lower rates than in the past, and for a time, the Church will continue to grow in the third world, mostly in Latin America and West Africa, where people are more naïvely innocent, less well educated and where the Internet and the “alternative” facts it showcases have not yet taken as firm a hold as it has in the Western democracies and Eastern Europe. 

But even in those ‘hot spots,‘ retention rates are very low. Some reported in the single digits.

As well, at the present time, almost all insightful criticism and commentary on Joseph Smith and the Church’s true historicity is chronicled primarily in the English language.

I believe this is the reason the Mormon Church has wisely taken a page out of Scientology’s playbook, aggressively building its secular empire – malls, raw land, TV stations, corporate ownership and the like, in anticipation of the certain future downturn in tithing revenues.

The Church takes pride in projecting the public image that it is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. An ignorant and lazy media repeat this mantra which is blatantly and demonstrably untrue. The Mormon church is not now nor has it ever been the fastest growing religion or even close.

There is a principle of influence and propaganda that is often referred to as the ‘Law of Conformity.’ It is the bandwagon effect. If you are over thirty years of age, you can no doubt remember when every McDonald’s restaurant sign in the world displayed ’30 Billion Served.’

The law of conformity or social proof is the psychological phenomenon where people reference the behaviors of others to guide their own behaviors.

It recognizes that we are social animals. We like what others like. We reject and discard what other people reject and discard. We tend to do what other people do, to follow the crowd.

We perceive behaviors as being more correct in a given situation to the degree that others view them as correct. This ‘law’ extends to what we wear, how fast we drive on the freeway, what we buy, and yes, what religion we adhere to.

This is why the Mormon Church projects wildly overly optimistic membership statistics. Mormon demographer David Clark Knowlton in an article entitled, “How Many Members Are There Really?” shows how exaggerated Mormon memberships statistics are:

Mexico:

Members claimed by the Church (1999) 846,931
Mormons in official gov’t census (2000) 205,229
Phantom or ex-Mormons (difference) 641,702
Percentage of Mexican Mormons Overstated by the LDS Church 76%

Chile:

Members claimed by the Church (2001) 520,202
Mormons in official gov’t census (2002) 103,735
Phantom or ex-Mormons (difference) 416,467
Percentage of Chilean Mormons Overstated by the LDS Church 80%

David Clark Knowlton, “How Many Members Are There Really?”,
Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 38:2:53-78, Summer 2005)

Islam is far and away the world’s fastest-growing faith. The number of Muslims on this planet will leap from 1.9 billion in 2018 to 2.76 billion by 2050. At that time, Muslims will make up one-third of the world’s total projected population of about 9 billion people.

Even if we compare Mormonism to more traditional Christian denominations, The LDS current dismal growth rate of 1.48% stacks up poorly against that of a great many others.

The Church of God in Christ

In 1965, the COG had 425,000 members. In 2012, the membership was 5,499,875, an increase of 1,194 percent.

The Presbyterian Church (in America)

In 1973, the PCA had 41,232 members. In 2013, the membership was 367,033, an increase of 790 percent.

The Assemblies of God

In 1965, the AoG had 572,123 members. In 2013, the membership was 3,030,944, an increase of 430 percent.

The Southern Baptist Convention

In 1965, the SBC had 10,770,573 members. In 2013, the membership was 15,735,640, an increase of 46 percent.

As well, the LDS church counts membership differently than Christian churches. In most churches, members are asked to vote on various matters and so, unlike the Mormon church, these churches do not want to waste their time and resources reaching out to those who no longer have any interest in their churches.

This is not the way the Mormons count. The LDS church is anything but a democracy. Members have no say whatsoever as to what goes on in their church. The closest they ever come to having a say is a perfunctory and untabulated ‘uplifted hand’ in a sacrament meeting or at a ‘general conference.’

Once someone joins the Mormon church, even if they just attend one meeting never to return, they are counted on the church’s membership rolls for the rest of their life! In fact many are counted beyond the grave as the majority of those on the church’s rolls are inactive, the church is unaware of their passing.

The LDS church’s own statistics tell the real story. While the church publishes worldwide membership numbers at about 15 million, Cumorah.com reports that less than half of those the church counts identify themselves as Mormon. Assuming that the number of active members is lower than those who would even claim to be Mormon, hardly a heroic assumption, the actual functional membership, even ignoring record resignations, is more realistically to be around 5 million men, women and children.

The church also adds to their member numbers what they call, ‘children of record,’ boys and girls 0 – 7 years-of-age who have not yet been baptised and are therefore not actual members of the church.

The church’s annual report, presented during General Conference show that the LDS church grew by 261,862 people in 2015, a 1.7% annual increase. In 2016, it was even worse 1.58% and in 2017 even worse again 1.48%.  This is the slowest growth in any year since 1937 (when it was 0.93%) and these numbers are also suspect.

Members are also having fewer children as the follow shows:

New children of record during 2017……… 106,771
New children of record during 2016……… 109,246
New children of record during 2015 ……. 114,550
New children of record during 2014……… 116,409

2017 Statistical Report for 2018 April Conference

With a growth rate of a paltry 1.48%, convert baptisms down each year, and declining member activity rates – 25% for young single adults, it can be argued that the Mormon church is actually in decline.

There are also thousands of people officially resigning from the church, probably record numbers, but this is a statistic the church, of course, refuses to publish for obvious reasons.

The chart below shows the church’s current and its projected membership statistics.

Chart - Members2 copy

Active membership in the church which, as this chart shows is less than 5 million will be virtually the same in 2060. 

Does the fact that the church is no longer experiencing even a healthy growth that it once did mean somehow that the Mormon church is not true?

Absolutely not. But I think as we witness this new reality we need to ask why the church is experiencing  stagnation?

I had mentioned that one issue that may have a deleterious effect is increased bureaucratization with its attendant inflexibility,  irresolute response to change and impersonality.

It is certainly anecdotal but I have heard people say that the church seems to lack the vitality it once did. That it feels more like an ‘organization’ and less like a church as it did in the 1950s and 1960s.

As well as possible increased feelings of impersonalization, we have also seen a significant growth in secularism in society generally in the developed world.

It is almost trite to say that the world’s newest major religion is no religion! And just as a rising tide lifts all boats, an ebbing tide also lowers them. But, in the LDS church’s case, Google and the ubiquitous Internet has had and continues to have a much greater impact on Mormonism than it has on other religions with the possible exception of Scientology.

The Internet is to Mormonism what the King James Bible was to Catholicism.

Why?

Because of the astounding claims made by its founder and the fact that the genesis of this peculiar religion is quite recent; well within the grasp and examination of scholars and historians.

Websites such as mormonthink.com, cesletter.org, exmormon.org, utim.org, reddit.com and Richard Packham’s, Dan Vogel’s and Grant Palmer’s sites as well as numerous blogs such as mormonstories.org, zelphontheshelf.com, and mormoncurtain.org, and now lettertoanapostle.org are just a click away.

Everyone now has their own “Urim and Thummim” right in the palm of their hand.

Members and investigators alike can now access historically accurate, uncorrelated and unsanitized views of Joseph Smith and the Mormon church’s foundational claims and it’s past and present doctrines than was possible just a few decades ago.

It is indeed becoming harder to keep secrets in the digital age.

I think it is telling to look at the Google results received for each of the following searches:

google

I know Mormonism is true – 750,000
I know Mormonism is false – 651,000
Joseph Smith prophet – 496,000
Joseph Smith con man – 6,250,000
President Monson – 673,000
MormonThink – 13,000,000
Inspiring LDS Stories – 704,000
CES letter – 19,100,000

Google Search Date: June 6, 2017

It is not hyperbole to say young people are the future of the church. According to the 2011 Pew Research Center’s ‘Survey of American Mormons’ 51% of American converts are under the age of 25.

The church’s hard-line on LGBTQ issues is alienating to a generation that, as a whole, embraces inclusion and diversity. Homosexuality is not as problematic for Millennial Mormons as it was for their parents.

In this time of Donald Trump and “alternative facts,” the following problems about the truth claims of the church need to be addressed in a more direct, honest, comprehensive and less defensive way.

Also, unless the goal is plausible deniability, I cannot understand why the church hides itself behind, or at least gives tacit support to, nonofficial apologetic sites. Why do they not answer honestly and directly the legitimate concerns members and non-members have with the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and the foundational claims of the church?

While the recent carefully crafted church essays are perhaps a good first step, they are inadequate, evasive and derisory – they are neither candid nor complete – rather a day late and a dollar short.

As for the avowals of the apologists at FairMormon, while less shrill and un-Christ like than the stuff that used to come out of FARMS, this new generation of apologists seem to have adopted a tenor of desperate revisionism.

I think that failing a Mormon reformation or a significant change to the church’s dominant narrative, any future growth of Mormonism will, in no wise, equal its past.

But please, I am not suggesting that the LDS church will soon disappear. I think anyone who thinks it will just doesn’t know either history or bureaucracies.

And studies such as the 2016 Next Mormons Survey (NMS) show that chapel going Mormons still have a high level of belief.

NMS questioned American Mormons about the level of their belief in Mormonism – its doctrines and practices. They asked members the question, ‘Which statement comes closest to your own views—even if none is exactly right?’

a) I believe wholeheartedly in all of the teachings of the LDS church. (49.1%)

b) I believe many or most of the teachings of the LDS church. (33.9)

c) Some of the teachings of the LDS church are hard for me to believe. (12.2%)

d) Many or most of the teachings of the LDS church are hard for me to believe. (31%)

e) I do not believe in the teachings of the LDS church. (1.8%)

 

The numbers in parentheses indicate how people responded. Over 80% of those asked said they believed in all, many or most of the teachings of the LDS church.

But there are a few significant impediments to any significant further growth of the Mormon church.

First, we cannot escape the fact that Mormonism is and always has been an American religion. People outside the United States in countries that the church needs to fuel future growth are often “turned off” by American exceptionalism, and the ‘style over substance,’ celebrity worshiping, materialistic culture so well embodied by Donald Trump as well as the prosperity Gospel the ‘Brethren’ have been known to preach to bolster tithing receipts.

The principles and tactics of ‘salesmanship’ that worked so well in David O. McKay’s 1950s America are, if not offensive, irrelevant in the third world today.

Second, the church is out of step with most people in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe when it comes to contemporary social issues. A women’s right to make choices relating to her own body, the struggle for fairness and equality for LGBTQ people, and a host of other less dominant matters – euthanasia, the adjuvant uses of marijuana, etc.

But, the greatest obstacle to the future growth of Mormonism may be Joseph Smith himself. Smith’s polygamy and polyandry and his ceaseless lying about these matters to not just to his associates and followers but to his own wife, as well as his many failed prophesies, and self-aggrandizing behavior.

More members are becoming aware of his sexual unions with many teenage girls, some as young as 14-years-of-age. This is hard for decent people to accept. Likewise, his lengthy ‘rap sheet’ including arrests for glass-looking, money-digging, being a disorderly person, threatening a sitting judge, perjury, inciting a riot, bank fraud and twice for both conspiracy to commit murder and treason. What does it say about the character of a man who when caught in a bank fraud, packs his bag and flees town in the middle of the night never to return?

When people discover the real Joseph Smith, warts and all, not the sanitized fiction the church has constructed, the version that I and most members were taught as children; it is not a pretty picture. In fact, it is very ugly indeed.

Also, as more non-Mormon historians turn their attention to Joseph Smith and the actual historicity of his foundation claims, the more difficult it will be for the church to put a positive spin on his actions, behavior, and most of all, his character.

Maybe ‘not all things that are true, are useful,’ as Dallin Oaks would have you believe, but they are still true and useful or not they will be revealed despite relentless attempts at censure and coverup.

I suspect many, perhaps most, true believing members, particularly those over forty, will continue, to do what they have been taught and avoid exposure to anything that is not, ‘faith promoting.’ To these people, Mormonism is something you do rather than something you believe.

It is going too far to picture most Mormons as latter-day Manchurian Candidates, naïve souls whose indoctrination has been so efficacious, that they accept uncritically, everything coming out of the mouths of their leaders. But statements such as ‘we should not criticize the ‘brethren’ even when they are wrong ,’ or ‘once the Prophet speaks, … the debate is over,’ gives one pause.

Surely president Uchtdorf, as a elderly German you must ask yourself, do these statements not resonate with a familiar fascistic tenor?

But we are seeing a growing number of members, particularly young ones, having the courage, despite any cognitive dissidence they may experience, searching for truth.

Prospects, or ‘investigators,’ as the church likes to call them, are finding easy access to the rapidly growing number of online resources challenging the church’s foundational narrative and truth claims.

While some would suggest that the church leadership’s lack of transparency is based on the belief that, if its members were to be exposed to the church’s real history they would leave the Mormon church in droves. A more generous view would grant that the imperative is to protect members, particularly the elderly, from unnecessary pain and confusion.

I suspect both are true. The problem is that in the twenty-first century many members will nonetheless be exposed to the unvarnished truth. It might just be how many wives Joseph Smith really had or his ‘head in the hat’ means of translation.

But at that point they will not just feel confused, they will feel deceived and this is likely to be worse than any difficulty that would have arisen had the church been more forthright; because it begs the question, “What else aren’t they telling me?

Would it not be better just to rip the Band-Aid© off, and honestly face the legitimate doubts, concerns, and questions people are having with the Church’s fundamental truth claims? To do what is right, letting the consequences follow, even if it means a reconstruction of the church’s dominant narrative.

After all the admission that Joseph Smith was anything but a saint is not necessarily a ‘deal breaker.’ If anything it gives hope to those of us who are also very imperfect beings.

One last thing however before we get into the meat of this analysis.

There is a view within the church that we should not question, but rather just accept whatever the church leaders tell us. This view is well illustrated in the following excerpt from an editorial that appeared in the Church News reporting the Church Conference of April 7th, 1895, Wilford Woodruff stood up and said with annoyance:

“Cease troubling yourselves about who God is, who Adam is, who Christ is, who Jehovah is, for heaven’s sake, let these things alone.”

He was essentially saying, ‘Damn you, just believe what we tell you!’

I liked Eldon Tanner, he was my Branch President way back, but I cannot accept his statement that: “…when the prophet speaks, the debate is over,” any more than I would accept, “…when the Führer speaks, the debate is over,”

Why have I gone to the trouble of studying, researching and writing this? Why not just walk away?

It’s complicated, but let me try to answer that question with a parable.

A man is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. After the initial shock of the bad news, he searches for the best cancer clinic, the hospital where he can get the best treatment available. After an exhaustive investigation, he settles on a facility that others have testified to as being highly effective, even though it is very expensive.

This hapless soul sells all he has and travels to this far distant clinic.

But after a time, as his fortune is depleted and his condition deteriorates even further he learns that the clinic is a fraud. He discovers that the chemotherapy and medications that have been administered to him were nothing but worthless placebos – sugar pills. His radiation treatment were revealed to amount to a ‘doctor’ shining a laser pointer on his body.

What should this poor man do? Should he pack his bag and quietly walk away?

What would you do?

I am guessing you would cause a stir; you might go to the press or the law, you would do your best to warn others of this outrageous deception and fraud.

I understand that when someone questions your long-held beliefs your first response is likely to be anger; but please believe me when I tell you, I am not trying to hurt you or anyone else.

I am simply trying to provide the facts and evidence that some may not be unaware of. Information that can empower and enable them to make more informed decisions about the truth claims of the Mormon church.

Truth matters.

Finally on a personal note, I would like to tell you in my extensive examination of Joseph Smith and the Mormon narrative, while I found many disturbing things which I detail below, I did not uncover anything that assailed my faith in, nor my love for, the Savior.

Whether the Mormon church is true or it is not true, the Lord Jesus Christ lives. He is the truth, the way and the life.

So, president Uchtdorf, let me make one final plea to you in particular and to your brethren in general to help those of us honestly searching for answers.

Faithful Latter-day Saints, believe there is no higher authority on earth than you and your colleagues. Indeed you purport to speak in behalf of the almighty. You know, I know and soon more and more members will come know that there are disquieting questions regarding the truth claims of the Mormon church and the Joseph Smith narrative. It is time that you and your brethren provide honest full-throated responses to each of the questions I raise in the chapters that follow.

Paul A. Douglas

Chapter 1

Why is there an entire absence of any archaeological or anthropological evidence of the civilizations, cultures and great populations spoken of in the Book of Mormon?

Skeleton And Archaeological Tools.training For Dig Fossil.simula

To me, this is one of the most central and troubling issues, and for that reason, I have tried to come at it from every angle.

For if the Book of Mormon is just a 19th-century fiction, then how can we believe that Joseph Smith was anything more than a very intelligent but cunning false prophet? A charlatan, a beguiler and a fraud.

Disturbingly, every legitimate non-Mormon anthropologist and archaeologist and even the odd brave Mormon archaeologist has declared that there is nothing whatever to support the existence of the civilizations discussed in the Book of Mormon.

During the 2600 years that the Jaredites, Nephites, and Lamanites supposedly occupied the Americas, they were somehow able to do so without leaving so much as a helmet, an inscription, or an ancient tool, let alone any weapons of war or skeletal remains.

In Ether, we are told that two million men, women, and children died in one battle.

Ether 15:2 “He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.”

Just to put this hyperbolic number in perspective, during the entire Civil War 620,000 men were killed over four years. During ALL of the Second World War America suffered 418,500 civilian and military deaths.

On June 6, 1944, D-Day, the First U.S. Army, saw 1,465 killed, 1,928 missing, and 6,603 wounded, the U.S. VII Corps showed 22,119 casualties including 2,811 killed and 5,665 missing, Canadian forces at Juno Beach sustained 946 casualties, of whom 335 were listed as killed. No British figures were published, but estimates run at about 2,500 to 3,000 killed or wounded. Each of these lives mattered, and God bless the brave men who sacrificed so much for us. 4,000 to 9,000 of your fellow Germans, died on that day as well president Uchtdorf.

But D-day pales compared to the story Joseph Smith weaves of two million perishing in one battle. That is twenty D-Days’ and if it really happened it would be the bloodiest battle of all time.

Even now if you spend a day beach-combing the shores of Normandy – Omaha, Utah or Juno beaches and their environs you will surely find a bullet casing, a chinstrap or something else.

Yet no swords, shields, armor, helmets, boots, chariots or other artifacts, vestiges or remains have ever been uncovered from this or any of the great Book of Mormon battles. Three times as many people who perished in all of the Civil War in a much shorter time and within a much smaller geographical area and yet absolutely nothing.

Zero, zilch, zip, nada!

The Book of Mormon talks about large cities and fortifications in ‘all quarters of the land,’ many of these major cities encircled by moats or trenches.

Where can we find any evidence of these?

The Book of Mormon talks about a Nephi temple patterned after the great Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, a structure that took seven years and 180,000 men to build.

Where can we find evidence of this “exceedingly fine” structure?

The Book of Mormon talks about the cities of Jacobugath, Laman, Josh, Gad, Kiskumen, and Zarahemla and it talks about civilizations.

Where can we find evidence of any of these?

As I write this, it has been 187 years since Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon and 526 years since the discovery and European colonization of the Americas. The Mormon Church has expended millions of dollars searching for something, anything to corroborate or affirm the Book of Mormon narrative but have come up empty-handed.

Even BYU professor and LDS scholar Dee Green had to confess, “No Book of Mormon location is known regarding modern topography.”

I recently travelled to the Middle East – Egypt, Jordan, Palistine and Israel. In all of those lands when any lead is found where there may be buried antiquities, it always leads to excavation.  

One must ask, why then has the church never attempted any excavation of the Hill Cumorah, clearly the site where Smith and his cohorts supposedly saw caves full of artifacts?

Is it that the Church fears what it might not unearth, and once that bell has been rung it cannot be unrung.

“The Book of Mormon is a piece of 19th-century fiction,” says Thomas Murphy, an Archaeologist, and Mormon of record who calls himself a‘Latter-day skeptic.’ “And that means that we have to acknowledge sometimes Joseph Smith lied.”

There are more than 25,000 separate concrete, evidentiary indicators supporting the Holy Bible including biblical empires, cities, sites, artifacts, weapons, coins and much more. I have several minor ones in my home.

Here are a few examples of the more significant finds:

The Existence of the Hittites. You will recall that Genesis 23 reports that Abraham buried Sarah in the Cave of Machpelah, which he purchased from Ephron the Hittite.

stoneThe Moabite Stone. A three-foot stone slab referenced in Second Kings–Mesha, the King of Moab, rebelled against the King of Israel following the death of Ahab.

Shishak’s Invasion of Judah. Commemorated in hieroglyphic wall carvings on the Temple of Amon at Thebes spoken of in First Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 12.

The Burial Plaque of King Uzziah. Discovered on the Mount of Olives, reading: “Here, the bones of Uzziah, King of Judah, were brought. 2 Chronicles 26 records his ‘sin.’”

The Sennacherib Prism.This cuneiform on a hexagonal, 15-inch baked clay prism found at the Assyrian capital of Nineveh describes Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah in 701 BC in which it claims that the Assyrian King shut Hezekiah inside Jerusalem “like a caged bird.” The prophet Isaiah told Hezekiah that God would protect Judah and Jerusalem against Sennacherib (2 Chron. 32; Isa. 36–37). Assyrian records confirm this as well.

There have also been many Biblical Cities attested to archaeologically, including Jericho, Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachish, and many others have been excavated. I could go on and on, but I think the point has been made that there is considerable archaeological evidence supporting the Holy Bible. In contrast, the Book of Mormon has nothing to support it. Not an inscription, not a temple, not a house, not a sword, not so much as one of the coins Smith alludes to in Alma 11.

While a few early 20th century Mormon scholars have pointed to some archaeological findings consistent with the Book of Mormon story, relating to Mayan, Inca or Olmec ruins, every non-Mormon archaeologist that has examined these ‘discoveries’ has discounted their import. There is simply no substantiation, and/or the time-line is entirely wrong.

It is wishful thinking nothing more.

As the following references will attest, leading unbiased – that is, non- LDS archaeologists and anthropologists maintain that the Book of Mormon is purely a poorly written, highly plagiarized work of 19th-century fiction and nothing more, certainly not an actual history of a real people.

They argue that millions of chariot-driving, Christ-worshipping, steel-smelting, horse-riding, wheel-using people occupying the Americas for more than two thousand years, could not have done so without leaving some trace of their existence.

They contend that it is absurd to believe that millions living and dying over millenia without leaving a single trace moves us into Atlantis territory. A world of make believe.

castle

It is like saying that the people of England which numbered 1.5 million in 1000 A.D. (less than were killed in one Book of Mormon battle) occupied that land without leaving a shred of evidence to prove their existence.

Can any rational human being, no matter how strong their ‘testimony,‘ believe that this is remotely possible? Anyone who has visited, ‘this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.’  as the eternal bard had penned, has seen the real evidence of Britain’s medieval cities, her churches, the ruins of her castles, bridges, and fortifications. Her art, literature and language. We have evidence of the Angles invasion, we know about the Black Death, the War of the Roses and The Peasants’ Revolt, we know who was on the throne and we have uncovered evidence of their wars and battles. There is ample evidence of the reality of that great civilization going back far more than a millennium.

No matter how comforting the avowals of one’s leaders, do we not have to use the gift of intelligence that the good Lord has given us to seek the truth? Take courage, if you need it, from the few honest Mormon anthropologists who have had the courage to tell the truth:

“It appears that the Book of Mormon had no place in the New World whatsoever … [It] just doesn’t seem to fit anything … in anthropology [or] history…. It seems misplaced.” 1

“What I would say to you is there is no archaeological proof of the Book of Mormon. You can look all you want. And there’s been a lot of speculation about it. There’ve been books written by Mormon scholars saying that “this event took place here” or “this event took place here.” But that’s entirely speculative. There is absolutely no archaeological evidence that you can tie directly to events that took place.”2

“Herewith is a copy of my recent (1975) paper on Book of Mormon geography [sic]. (My thesis is that Book of Mormon geography involves a lot more than playing with topography and terrain.) The real implication of the paper is that you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere – because it is fictional and will never meet the requirements of the dirt-archeology, I should say – what is in the ground will never conform to what is in the book.”3

The above quote was from Thomas Stuart Ferguson, a faithful member of the Church who, although not a professional archaeologist, was the recipient of a grant of more than $100,000 from the Mormon Church to carry on the archaeological research.

Non-Mormon anthropologists have also commented:

“So far as is known to the writer, no non-Mormon archaeologist at present is using the Book of Mormon as a guide in archaeological research. Nor [do] any non-Mormon archaeologists hold that the American Indians are descendants of the Jews, or that Christianity was known in America in the first century of our era…”4

“Let me now state uncategorically that as far as I know there is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing the foregoing to be true,…nothing, absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our hemisphere.”5

smithI am old enough I can remember back in the 1980s, hearing within Church circles that the prestigious Smithsonian Institute was using the Book of Mormon as a guide in its leading archaeological research.

This ridiculous rumor was brought to the attention of Smithsonian directors who, in 1996, sent a form letter to ‘inquiring minds’ stating that the Smithsonian did not use the Book of Mormon to guide any research, and included a list of specific reasons Smithsonian archaeologists considered the Book of Mormon itself total
nonsense.

“The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.”

Feeling they need to bring this point home more forcefully, they go on,“The physical type of the American Indian is basically Mongoloid, being most closely related to that of the peoples of eastern. central, and northeastern Asia. Archeological evidence indicates that the ancestors of the present Indians came into the New World – probably over a land bridge known to have existed in the Bering Strait region during the last Ice Age – in a continuing series of small migrations beginning from about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.

Present evidence indicates that the first people to reach this continent from the East were the Norsemen who briefly visited the northeastern part of North America around A.D. 1000 and then settled in Greenland. There is nothing to show that they reached Mexico or Central America.

American Indians had no wheat, barley, oats, millet, rice, cattle, pigs, chickens, horses, donkeys, camels before 1492. (Camels and horses were in the Americas, along with the bison, mammoth, and mastodon, but all these animals became extinct around 10,000 B.C. at the time when the early big game hunters spread across the Americas.)

Iron, steel, glass, and silk were not used in the New World before 1492 (except for occasional use of unsmelted meteoric iron). Native copper was worked in various locations in pre-Columbian times, but true metallurgy was limited to southern Mexico and the Andean region, where its occurrence in late prehistoric times involved gold, silver, copper, and their alloys, but not iron.

No reputable Egyptologist or other expert on Old World archaeology, and no expert on New World prehistory has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archeological remains in Mexico and archeological remains in Egypt .” 6

Likewise, the National Geographic Society distanced itself from the Book of Mormon by responding to queries they received as they did below:

national

“January 11, 1990

Dear Mr. Larson:

Thank you for writing to the National Geographic Society.

The Society has never used the Book of Mormon to locate archaeological sites, and we do not believe that any of the places named in the Book of Mormon can be placed geographically by the evidence of archaeology. So far as we know, there is no archaeological evidence to verify the history of early peoples of the Western Hemisphere as presented in the Book of Mormon. I hope you will find this information useful.

Yours truly,

Pamela Tucci
Research Correspondence”

Comments from Renown Archaeologists and Anthropologists

The following statements were made in response to a letter a very bright 17-year-old boy named Zachary, sent to leaders in the fields of pre-Columbian archaeology, pre-Columbian anthropology, and Egyptology. Zachery asked for their opinions on the claims made in the Book of Mormon. Here are a few of their responses Zachary received:

“Zachary—I’m not familiar with the book of Mormon in detail, but from what you indicated about its contents it is totally made up (there is absolutely no evidence for any of this) not to mention implicitly racist because it seems to imply that Native Americans lacked the ability to build civilization without help from “Lamanites.

With Regards, Rich Blanton”7

————-

“Dear Zachary,

… I don’t feel that I am belittling your religion if I say that all historical and archaeological evidence contradicts the Book of Mormon’s stories of the peopling of the Americas and the early history of Native American societies. The Book of Mormon is a work of faith, and naturally has credibility to the faithful, but it has no historical basis, any more than the Book of Genesis is a historically or scientifically accurate version of the origin of the earth and human beings, however much it, or the Book of Mormon, may serve as a moral guide to believers. And I’m sure you can understand why people might be uncomfortable directly contradicting the teachings of what has become a very well-established religious movement.

The Americas were peopled by immigrants from Asia probably 15,000 years ago (give or take some thousands; archaeologists still haven’t quite figured this out). This is borne out by archaeology as well as genetic evidence (DNA, blood types, and other factors). Their descendants settled throughout the entire New World.

Complex, urban civilizations developed in Mexico and Central America in isolation from the rest of the world, out of the accumulated knowledge of people who lived there for thousands of years, domesticated corn, and other food crops, and learned very well how to live in those environments. Languages of the New World bear no relationship to Hebrew. Ever since Europeans became aware of Native Americans, there have been various attempts to identify them with the so-called “Ten Lost Tribes of Israel” mentioned in the Old Testament. So, we might say that Joseph Smith’s version was in some degree a variation on this old theme…”8

David Carrasco – Professor of the Study of Latin America at Harvard Divinity School
_______

“Dear Zachary

I see you are deeply interested in the history of Mexico as it relates to the Book of Mormon. I respect the Mormon religion and have been to Salt Lake City to see the Mormon monuments and displays.

The Book of Mormon is a book of faith and storytelling and not history. Historically it is inaccurate. If we go on archaeological evidence, there is no basis for what the Book of Mormon teaches, as you summarize it below. There is no record of the arrival of anyone from Jerusalem.

Here’s another point. People of faith believe what they want to believe about the authenticity of their own religion. Some Catholics believed that St. Tomas, one of Jesus Christ’s disciples migrated to Mexico after the crucifixion and preached in Mexico. This is because they found some parallels between Aztec and Maya religion and the Bible. But there is not one single fact, datum, object, word that supports either the Mormon view or the Catholic view…”9

Louise Burkhart
Professor in the Anthropology Department
at the University at Albany,

robertsBrigham H. Roberts (March 13, 1857 – September 27, 1933) was a General Authority in the Mormon Church, a historian, politician, and polygamist.

He published a six-volume history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and also wrote Studies of the Book of Mormonwhich was published posthumously, in which he concluded that there was no linguistic evidence found among the Native American peoples supporting the Book of Mormon narrative. Roberts showed that the diverse language stocks and dialects would not have had enough time to develop from a single language dating from just A.D. 400.

He notes: “The facts … developed up to this point seem to be that:

  • There is a large number of separate language stocks in America that show little relationship to each other.
  • It would take a long time—much longer than that recognized as “historic times”—to develop these dialects and stocks where the development is conceived of as arising from a common source of origin—some primitive language.
  • There is no connection between the American languages and the language of any people of the Old World.
  • New World languages appear to be indigenous to the New World.
  • The time limits named in the Book of Mormon—which represents the people of America as speaking and writing one language down to as late a period as 400 A.D.—is not sufficient to allow for these divergences into the American language stocks and their dialects.” 10

While Roberts, we are told, maintained his belief in the Mormon Church. In “Book of Mormon Difficulties: A Study,” written in response to a series of questions to him by church president Heber J. Grant, he confessed that he had no answers for some of the difficulties.

Interestingly in his text entitled, “A Book of Mormon Study,”Roberts compared the Book of Mormon to the earlier-published View of the Hebrews, written by Ethan Smith, and found significant similarities between them.

Roberts wrote “A Parallel,” a condensed version of his larger study, which demonstrated eighteen points of similarity between the two books, and in which he entertained the very real possibility that the creative Joseph Smith might very well have written the Book of Mormon without any divine assistance.

His study, as one might imagine, did anything but endear him to church leaders and it has now been shown that Roberts withheld some of his evidence and discoveries from the general authorities of his day because of their resistance to hearing anything that did not support the church’s narrative.

As Richard and Joan Ostling have discovered, Roberts declared that the validity of the Mormon church must “stand or fall” on the truth of Joseph Smith’s claim that the Book of Mormon was the historic record of an ancient people inscribed on gold plates.

They also found that he predicted, rather prophetically, that if the church’s leadership does not address the problems with its origins and the many anachronisms found within the Book of Mormon, these difficulties would eventually undermine “the faith of the youth of the Church.”

It is interesting that as I write this in 2017, more than 95 years since Roberts did his analysis, the church has yet to address these things.

Nevertheless, when Googling ‘Archaeological Evidence and the Book of Mormon,’ one cannot help but be impressed by the success of FairMormon’s web optimization.

Absence of any archaeological or anthropological evidence of the Book of Mormon these apologists make the following statement:

“The Book of Mormon mentions cities, trade, warfare, towers, and the use of armor–all of which did exist in the ancient Americas–yet their existence has not convinced critics that the Book of Mormon is an authentic ancient text.”14

Hold on; ‘…which did exist in the ancient Americas,” I must have missed something.

I am anxious to learn more about these discovered ‘cities’ that FairMormon mentions and view the evidence of the ‘warfare’, ‘towers’ and ‘armor.’

Perhaps FairMormon has also found evidence of the skeletal remains of the ‘millions of soldiers’ who reportedly died in battle!

But alas, they have not provided any specifics, let alone any evidence.

They do a lot of dancing, around epigraphic and iconographic evidence, but they do not provided anything worthwhile and have not assailed in any way the myriad statements made by legitimate archaeologists that, “There is absolutely no archaeological evidence of the Book of Mormon.”

FairMormon makes statements such as “There is plenty of supporting evidence that anthropologically ties the Book of Mormon to ancient America,”but they never get to providing examples of what those ties are.

This is one of their favorite dishonest apologetic techniques, and sadly many fall for it.

I understand the Church’s dilemma, but deception and sophistry doesn’t cut it. We need to be honest with one another. The assertion that there is, “plenty of supporting evidence,”is just not true and the only ‘archaeologists’ who might make such a claim are trying to weave straw into gold down at BYU!

If the evidence does exist, in the words of Eliza Doolittle in‘My Fair Lady, “Don’t talk at all – Show Me!”

Joseph Fielding Smith put an even more bizarre explanation out there. He suggested that the reason we can’t find any archaeological evidence of the Book of Mormon is that God is hiding it!

“It is the opinion of the writer that the Lord does not intend that the Book of Mormon, at least at present, shall be proved true by any archaeological findings. The day may come when such will be the case, but not now. The Book of Mormon is itself a witness of the truth, and the promise has been given most solemnly that any person who will read it with a prayerful heart may receive the abiding testimony of its truth.”15

I would contend that if the Church had even one item – a chariot, a sword, a Hebrew inscription, they would be crowing about it.

Rather they produce pablum like this:

“Those who make claims that there is no archaeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon are right in one respect–we don’t know where the cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon are located. Such information may yet be discovered, but not discovering it is just as likely given the lack of cultural continuity and toponyms, as well as the epigraphic and iconographic uncertainties. To dismiss the Book of Mormon on archaeological grounds is short-sighted, as continuing discoveriesprovide ever more evidencethat is consistent with the book. Archaeology is not a dead science, and it continues to make new inroadsthat are applicable to Book of Mormon studies.”

I have highlighted three false and misleading statements in just this one paragraph:

Continuing Discoveries– There have been NO discoveries continuing or otherwise.

Think not? Next time you visit the LDS Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, ask the lovely young woman behind the information desk on what floor are the Nephi artifacts located?

Ever more evidence that is consistent with the book– Again, forgive me, but I have to call bullshit here. Before you can say ‘ever more’ you must have some. That’s the way things work. Again, there have been none.

Continue to make new inroads– An inroad is defined as an advance or penetration. What advances or permeations have Mormon archaeologists made?

This type of hit and run unsubstantiated evidentiary blether is meaningless, and solely intended to mislead the untutored and should be recognized as such. Shame on them.

President Uchtdorf you are an intelligent man, surely you can see the dishonestly of these apologetic techniques.

In the February 2001 edition of the Ensign magazine. A short article entitled, “Book of Mormon Linked to Site in Yemen”covers the story of a rock (alter?) found in Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula which the article states had the word ‘Nahom’ inscribed on it.

This was touted as a momentous discovery as the name is associated with Lehi’s journey as recorded in the Book of Mormon. (1 Nephi 16:34) which reads, “And it came to pass that Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom.”

The Ensignarticle goes on to say that professional archaeologists have dated it to at least 700 B.C., so the timing fits.

First, the author of the article was a little zealous. The stone or alter did not have Nahom inscribed on it, but just the three consonants NHM.

Nevertheless, since vowels are not used in Hebrew writing, Nahom is a distinct possibility.

It is also important to note that Nihm is believed to be a tribal name, rather than a place name, and that the three consonants could have a variety of spellings when vowels are inserted – NiHM, NaHaM, NaHM, NeHeM, etc. Nevertheless it is reasonable to surmise that the tribe gave its name to the region where they lived.

This is interesting and may be significant, but it hardly a slam dunk. John Hamer, who has written on several topics related to the LDS history, does not share the Ensign’s enthusiasm:

“Although some apologists have described the odds of this Nahom/Nihm/”NHM” correlation as “astronomical,” it hardly even rises to the level of notable coincidence. The Book of Mormon derives its names from a book that has Semitic sources, i.e., the King James Bible. Many of the names in the Book of Mormon are just plucked directly from the Bible, e.g., “Lehi” (Judges 25:9), Laban (Gen. 24-30), Lemuel (Prov. 31:1-9). Other  names, however, use the Bible as their inspiration with alterations, e.g., “Jarom” (“Joram” 2 Sam. 8:10), “Omni” (“Omri” 1 Kings 16:16), “Nehor” (“Nahor” Gen. 11:22). “Nahom” easily fits into the latter category: “Nahum” is actually a book of Old Testament…”

I personally find it curious that Lehi and the gang were erecting AN inscribed monument while crossing Arabia but seem to have given up that practice entirely upon reaching America.

It would be much more impressive if we were to uncover a monument (or anything else) with a Hebrew inscription this side of the ocean.

FairMormon responded to my on-line comments on the dearth of any archaeological or anthropological evidence by accusing me of providing propaganda or spin. They state:

“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.”

I don’t see how questioning why, during the past six hundred years, we have not found any archaeological, anthropological or linguistic evidence to support the BOM narrative can be characterized as ‘propaganda or spin.’

I presented many comments from noted experts – Mormon and non-Mormon alike to substantiate my assertions.

FairMormon says, “Repeating the assertions that there is no evidence of the Book of Mormon does not make the assertion true,”

Agreed, but also it does not make it false, and while FairMormon may be tired of hearing it, it remains an important question needing to be addressed which, to date certainly has not.

And here we go again, “Those that look for such evidence can find it.”

Please FairMormon, unless this is some kind of ecclesiastical scavenger hunt, show us where we can find this ‘evidence!’

I would submit that FairMormon’s failure to provide any meaningful affirmative evidence, must lead any reasonable person to conclude that they simply have none.

Rather than throwing out assertions like, “there is much evidence ,”just present that evidence so we can test it.

FairMormon also suggests that it is the questioner’s lack of knowledge about a very specialized academic area that is the problem. They say:

“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.”

Okay, but it would certainly be a step in the right direction. Consistency is better than nothing. At the present time. as FairMormon knows, not only is there no evidence, there is also no consistency.

They also imply that if you are not an archaeologist you are likely too ignorant to grasp the sublime subtleties of that science.

This desperate apologist then goes on to do a little dance around epigraphic and iconographic evidence which might be relevant if there were either. There is not. FairMormon’s intent here is just to obscure, to muddy the waters.

FairMormon in a shocking display of their ignorance of logic and philosophy move next to that old chestnut, “The absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence.”.

This cute little saying negates the importance of evidence with a negative value. A null result is 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 physician during exploratory surgery does not find a malignant tumor or any malignant cells within a patient, this represents a null result (finding nothing) and is evidence of the absence of cancer, even though the surgeon did 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?” It is all a mist. There is no substance to FairMormon’s statements.

Come on FairMormon, I have shown you mine, now show me yours!

FairMormon next attacks my comments relating to the lack of archaeological, anthropological or linguistic evidence by stating:

“Why would a non-Mormon archaeologist, anthropologist or linguist have any interest 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.”

I am sorry, but that is an incredibly stupid thing to say.

By FairMormon’s reasoning then ‘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.

If it were not for the fact that these boys at FairMormon are teetotalers, I would accuse them of being drunk when they penned that piece of brilliant apologetics!

Archaeologists, anthropologists or linguists need not be searching for evidence proving nor disproving the Book of Mormon authenticity. The fact is that their broad research has not discovered any evidence consistent with, or in even in a tangential way supportive of, the Book of Mormon narrative.

Agreed, most non-Mormon archaeologists, anthropologists, and linguists likely haven’t given a moment’s thought to the Book of Mormon or its claims because it is irrelevant to their real and serious work. Nevertheless, as my research has shown, those who have been asked if they have come across anything even remotely supportive or consistent with it, have responded that they have not.

FairMormon scribblers, locked in their paranoid mindset just do not get it, the scholars I reference don’t have any theological ax to grind. Their agenda is neither to defend nor to attack the Book of Mormon. They are looking at data, and these data simply do not fit with Smith’s Book of Mormon tale.

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

FairMormon also takes umbrage with my reference to the work of Thomas Stuart Ferguson, a faithful member of the Church who was honest enough to write,‘you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere – because it is fictional.’

Their concern, it would seem, is that Ferguson never studied archaeology at a professional level. They quote John Sorenson, a BYU ‘archaeologist’ to make their point:

“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). 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.”

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

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

Secondly, the Church obviously saw some value in his work insofar as they funded it – twice. NWAF received $15,000 from the First Presidency in 1953, 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 additional years of fieldwork.

$200K was a lot of tithing dollars in the 1950s.

If the point that FairMormon is trying to make is that because Thomas Ferguson, was not ‘a professional archaeologist’ 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 archaeologist, NWAF was staffed by professional archaeologists:

“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. Second,

Second, FairMormon’s choice of John Sorenson, as the ‘respected archaeologist‘ to make their point is perhaps unwise.

In a blistering review of Sorenson’s lack of scholarship and questionable referencing, author and Mormon bishop Del Dowdell commented 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 interesting that Sorenson’s most quoted reference is himself. Not just that, he is often the only referenced source regarding his theories on 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 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.

Sorenson is professor emeritus of anthropology at Brigham Young University. For well over 50 years he had immersed himself in every aspect of Book of Mormon life and culture, yet searching the three big three, peer-reviewed, scholarly journals on anthropology or archaeology in the United States on-line, not one article by John L. Sorenson shows up. Not in the American Journal of Archaeology, the American Anthropological Associationor the Archaeological Institute of America.

Let me repeat that, in 50 years as a professor of archaeology at BYU, not a single peer-reviewed article.

BYU itself is ranked so low in Archaeology that it does not even appear on the 2016 World University Ranking of Faculties of Archaeology.

The BYU archaeology department also has the unique and dubious distinction of having its excavation license revoked by the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry for violating the information sharing agreement that allowed BYU to conduct their work in the first place and also for disseminating inaccurate findings.

The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry  took exception to BYU team leader Kerry Muhlstein’s, claim that, “We are fairly certain we have over a million burials within this cemetery. It’s large, and it’s dense,”

Not only did Muhlstein grossly exaggerate the numbers of what he supposedly found, but the Ministry had to explain to this BYU ‘archaeologist’ what a mummy is, as not one of the ‘millions‘ Muhlstein 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, 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, and like Thomas Ferguson, he is not an archaeologist, not that this fact has stopped him from writing about things archaeological. Mormon historian and scholar Dan Vogel shared his thoughts after reading Peterson’s FairMormon’s mean-spirited, 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, generations of Mormon, ‘amateur archaeologists,’ have written books containing photographs of ancient ruins and artifacts advancing the claim that these things prove that the Book of Mormonis true. Their findings, however, can be summarized simply as – wrong time, wrong place, wrong people!

Sadly, the Church has knowingly provided and possibly still does supply its young missionaries with archaeological slides of Mayan temples and ruins, to mislead investigators.

A slide or picture of a Mayan temple has nothing more to do with the Book of Mormon story than a photo of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

egypt-cairo-pyramids-of-giza-and camels-2

If you are familiar with the Mormon church’s apologetic history, you will recognize that FairMormon’s arguments here are remarkably similar to, and I would suggest lifted directly from, a 1993 article which appeared on the now-defunct FARMS site written by William J. Hamblin. This piece, entitled: “Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon. ” is often quoted by Mormon apologists.

In it Hamlin writes:

Most anti-Mormon attacks on the authenticity of the Book of Mormon suffer from several severe logical flaws. The authors are inadequately informed about Latter-day Saint history, doctrine, and scripture; they have not read the text of the Book of Mormon carefully; they distort both what the text of the Book of Mormon says and the variety of Latter-day Saint interpretations of the text; they attempt to make all Latter-day Saint scholars responsible for the private opinions of some Latter-day Saint authors or General Authorities; and they frequently argue solely from the authority of selected authors or scholars, rather than providing evidence, analysis, and argumentation to support their case. They seldom advance the discussion by dealing with current Latter-day Saint thinking on the matter, being content instead to rely on an ad nauseam repetition of anti-Mormon arguments, many of which have been around—and have had adequate Latter-day Saint responses—for over a century.”

I agree with Hamlin on a few of his observations. However, I think he is guilty of some of the same ‘anti-Mormon’ flaws he criticizes. However, because of the apologetic resilience of Hamlin’s arguments for why we have a total absence of archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, I feel I must comment.

Hamlin never defines what an ‘anti-Mormon’ is, but by the context in which he uses the term I would suggests we could substitute the word ‘non-Mormon.’

He expresses the view that,“they (anti-Mormons) frequently argue solely from the authority of selected authors or scholars, rather than providing evidence, analysis, and argumentation to support their case.”

I agree critics must provide “evidence, analysis and argumentation”to support their case. In my experience most do.

Certainly, in this ‘A Letter to an Apostle,’ I have included the opinions of the most distinguished leaders in the field of archaeology and anthropology. As well I have presented the comments by several LDS scholars.

Hamlin, however, takes particular offense with those who compare‘the present state of knowledge about ancient Nephite sites with the state of knowledge about biblical sites.’

This is a valid point and I will even stipulate to Hamlin’s report that, “Only 55 per cent (sic) of the place names mentioned in the Bible have been identified”and that we have not yet identified the location of Mt. Sinai or as he says the precise, “route taken by the Israelites in the Exodus.”

Certainly. There is much that archaeology remains to discover about the historicity of the Bible.

But Mr. Hamlin ignores the fact that a great deal has been found.

As I have noted there are tens of thousands of archaeological finds that support the Bible including many biblical empires, cities, sites, artifacts, weapons, coins and much more.

Specifically, I mentioned the seven-foot black diorite stele, discovered at Susa containing the Code of Hammurabi, the Moabite Stone, the Burial Plaque of King Uzziah, and the Sennacherib Prism.

Archaeologists have also found the The Cylinder of Cyrus the Great and the Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription.

King Hezekiah of Judah ruled from 721 to 686 BC. Fearing a siege by the Assyrian king, he preserved Jerusalem’s water supply by cutting a tunnel through 1,750 feet of solid rock from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam inside the city walls as mentioned in 2 Kings 20 and 2 Chron. 32. A Herculean feat.

I have spoken of the discovery of the cities of Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Corinth, Capernaum, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachish, as well as proof of the Shishak invasion of Judah and the existence of the Hittites.

Coins mentioned in the Bible have been found in abundance such as the widow’s mite or denarius which I hold in my hand:

coin

Perhaps the greatest single discovery confirming the Bible’s historicity was the Dead Sea Scrolls.

First discovered by Bedouins in the caves of Kiryit Qumran in 1947.

Excavations initially led by Roland de Vaux. discovered some 800 documents in tens of thousands of fragments. Written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

They contain biblical, apocryphal works, prayers as well as legal texts and sectarian documents.

Biblical archaeologists have also unearthed a stratum of burnt material containing the remains of The Walls of Jericho, which were destroyed either by an earthquake or a siege.

Many fields of study span the Bible and history; from archaeology and astronomy to linguistics and comparative literature.

Israel’s enemies have also been well documented are solidly historical.

In short, the historicity of the Bible is not in question.

IMG_3176 copyThe Holy Bible has been corroborated historically, geographically, archaeologically, and linguistically and both its translation and transmission have been verified by literally thousands of ancient manuscripts.

The fact that Jesus repeatedly quoted the Old Testament with confidence and without any suggestion that it was corrupt should be reason enough for us to accept it as the word of God. The New Testament has also been proven to be unchanged and undefiled since it was given to us by God.

(Pictures I took at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem and the Garden of Gethsemane)

IMG_2912

Hamlin’s position might have more traction if he could also state that,“55 percent of the place names mentioned in the Book of Mormon have been identified,”or even 25%, how about any! Hamlin ignores. this disparity between the Bible        and the Book of Mormon altogether.

And as if the hole Hamlin is digging is not deep enough, he then quotes Yohanan Aharoni, a scholar of some note who says: “In the final analysis the most certain identifications [of biblical place names] are still those dependent upon preservation of the ancient name, albeit with careful examination of written sources and archaeological data. Out of the approximately 475 place names mentioned in the Bible, only about 262 have been identified with any degree of certainty…”

If 262 cities or places in the Book of Mormon had been ‘identified with any degree of certainty…’we might witness Russell Nelson doing an Irish jig on the dome of the Tabernacle!

Hamlin then goes on to discuss how ‘Pre-Classic Mesoamerican inscriptions are relatively rare.’ Now there is an understatement. 

To illustrate the complication of Mesoamerican toponyms being translated between languages rather than transliterated phonetically, he uses a chronologically irrelevant Aztec language illustration:

“Thus, “in Nahuatl [Aztec] . . . ‘Hill of the Bird’ is Tototepec (tototl = bird + tepetl = hill) and ‘Hill of the Jaguar’ is Ocelotepec (ocelotl + tepetl). . . . ‘Hill of the Bird’ in Mixtec would be Yucu Dzaa, from yucu (hill) + dzaa (bird); ‘Hill of the Jaguar’ in Zapotec would be Tani Guebeche, from tani (hill) + guebeche (fierce carnivore).”  

Aztec culture was a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521 A.D., far beyond Book of Mormon times. Again, irrelevant and immaterial.

Next, he tells us what we all already know that there is not an official Latter-day Saint position on the geography of the Book of Mormon.

Hamlin also condemns ‘anti-Mormons’ (read as all who question), who claim that all Native Americans are genetically descended from the Lamanites. His criticism is somewhat justified, but I think he should cut people a little slack here as they have certainly been sent mixed messages by the church leaders and the Book of Mormon itself.

The fly page of the Book of Mormon speaks of ‘The principal ancestors of the American Indians’, and a little further in, it tells us:

“… and 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.“(2 Nephi 1:8.) Also, we have the words of those who one might think would know:

“We, therefore, cast a glance southward into old Mexico and through the great countries beyond — down through Central America and South America, where there are millions and millions of Lamanites, direct descendants of Father Lehi.”

Elder Andrew Jenson, Conference Report October 1921, p.120

“About twenty-five centuries ago, a hardy group left the comforts of a great city, crossed a desert, braved an ocean, and came to the shores of this, their promised land. There were two large families, those of Lehi and Ishmael, who in a couple of centuries numbered hundreds of millions of people on these two American continents.”

Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 601

Hamlin tackles anachronisms briefly making the point that barley has been found in Arizona, not the domesticate European type, but barley none the less.

He is on shakier ground however when he states that Book of Mormon animals may have become extinct and that, ‘possible horse remains have been found in various locations in Mesoamerica,’using, who else, John L. Sorenson.

Hamlin then attacks Dr. Michael Coe, a renowned non-Mormon scholar who has said:

“There is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing in the historicity of the Book of Mormon.”

Hamlin then tells us what Dr. Coe was really trying to say here, “that all of the archaeological evidence known to him can be adequately interpreted and accounted for based on the assumption that there were no Nephites.”Mr. Hamlin does not seem to understand that ‘learned‘ scholars talk to one another and their published articles are open to peer review.

We don’t need to put words in Michael Coe’s mouth; he expressed himself very clearly. When Dr. Coe says, “there is not one professionally trained archaeologist,’ he is speaking as a knowledgeable insider. I think Hamlin’s discounting of Coe’s statement, by implying that‘well that’s just one man’s opinion,” is a slight to the scores of serious scientists dedicated to unearthing the truth.

Hamlin also suggests that Dr. Coe’s research findings would be different if he were to assume that Nephites did exist, runs in the face of the scientific method, that Hamlin seems not to be familiar with. The starting point is not assumptions and conclusions; those come later after the data has been studied and examined.

Hamlin finally ends with a question:

“Why do non-Mormon scholars reject the Book of Mormon?”Which he then goes on to answer himself:

First, acceptance of the historicity of the Book of Mormon logically necessitates recognition of Joseph Smith’s prophetic claims. Thus, any scholar who eventually came to accept the historicity of the Book of Mormon would be logically compelled to become a Latter-day Saint.’

Is Hamlin really implying that there is some unstated conspiracy among scholars to avoid the siren call of the Book of Mormon, for if they were to taste its sweet nectar of truth they would all become Mormons.

Now that is pushing a cognitive dissident proposition to the limit, but he continues.

Next, he bemoans the fact that, ‘most non-Mormons do not take the Book of Mormon seriously enough even to read it, let alone give it the careful study required to make an informed judgment.’ 

Is he suggesting that professional archaeologists and anthropologists should let whatever internal evidence they find within the Book of Mormon, or some new found ‘testimony’ of it, predetermine their research findings?

There is a term for what Hamlin is proposing, and that term is ‘confirmation bias,’ but then as his article well illustrates, this is one area in which Hamlin is indeed an expert!

I would suggest that a reasonable person would agree that FairMormon’s rebuttal to what I have written here earns them an ‘F.’

Therefore, president Uchtdorf I stand by the fact that, I suspect you know full well, there is no evidence that any legitimate non-Mormon archaeologist could point to that supports the validity of the Book of Mormon. None, die Nonen!

 

References

1 Dr. Ray Metheny, Professor of Anthropology, BYU, Address at the Sixth Annual Sunstone Theological Symposium, Salt Lake City, 8/25/84.

2 Dr. David Johnson, Professor of Anthropology, BYU.

3 Thomas Stuart Ferguson, in a letter to Mr. & Mrs. H. W. Lawrence, dated Feb. 1976.

4 Ulster Archaeological Society, Newsletter, No. 64, Jan 30, 1960, P.3

5 Michael Coe, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1973, pp. 42.

6 Department of Anthropology National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC 2056

7 Richard Blanton – Professor of Anthropology at Purdue University, Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan

8 David Carrasco – Professor of the Study of Latin America at Harvard Divinity School,

9 Louise Burkhart – Professor in the Anthropology Department at the University at Albany,

10 Brigham D. Madsen, ed., B. H. Roberts: Studies of the Book of Mormon, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985.

11 Richard and Joan Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and Promise Harpers, 1999), 276.

12 Coe 2002, p. 13 An Outsider’s View of Mormon Archeology May, Wayne N., This Land – One Cumorah, pp. 61–68

13 May, Wayne N., This Land – One Cumorah, pp. 61–68

14 https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/ Book_of_Mormon/Archaeology

15 Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1998, v. 2, p. 196

16 John Clark, “Debating the Foundations of Mormonism: Archaeology and the Book of Mormon”,presentation at the 2005 FAIR Apologetics Conference (August 2005).

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

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

19 Del Dowdell Who Really Settled Mesoamerica.

20 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

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

On the next page we will examine the problem of anachronisms in the Book of Mormon:

 

Chapter 2

The Clock Struck Nine: Anachronisms in the Book of Mormon

Anachronism – [uh-nak-ruh-niz-uh m – noun]

Something or someone not in its correct historical or chronological time, especially a thing or person that belongs to an earlier or later time:

Tapir

A practical approach to confirm the authenticity of ancient or historical writings is the identification of anachronisms found in it.

Anachronisms are chronological errors, and they might include mention of events that might not have occurred during the period under discussion. These errors can also include names, locations, tools, languages, and so on that did not exist or were unknown at the time the historical document was written.

For example, in Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 5, Shakespeare has Juliet utter, “The clock struck nine when I did send the nurse.”

Romeo and Juliet is, however, set in the 1300s, well before the invention of the first mechanical pendulum clock. This is an anachronism.

It was an error, similar to one made in the motion picture Spartacus, where the film editor failed to notice some of the slaves were sporting wristwatches.

Now, ‘The Bard of Avon’ was not trying to fool anyone, and a slave wearing a wristwatch at a time contemporaneous with Christ is hilarious. However, when we put serious writing through the test of anachronism, and it comes up short, it may indicate fraud and deception. The Book of Mormon does not fare well when put to the anachronism test.

The following are just a few examples:

The Book of Mormon cites horses fourteen times. However, not only is there no evidence that horses existed in North or South America during the time of its supposed writing (2500 BC– 400 AD), there is considerable compelling scientific evidence that horses became extinct by the end of the Pleistocene era (2.5 million–12,000 years ago). Horses only reappear in the Americas when the Spaniards brought them from Europe in about 1519.

Elephants are mentioned in (Ether 9:19) swinging their trunks for the Jaredites (2500 BC). But again, fossil records show that they became extinct at the end of the last Ice Age (10,000 years ago).

Chariots are mentioned numerous times in the Book of Mormon (Alma 18:9-10, 12, Alma 20:6, 3 Nephi 3:22), yet again, there is no archeological evidence to support the use of wheeled vehicles in the pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. They would be of little use considering there were no horses to pull them.

Ether 9:18 refers to cattle, but here again, there is no evidence that Old World domesticated cattle inhabited New World before European contact.

Likewise iron and steel cited several times (1 Nephi 16:18, 2 Nephi 5:15, Jarom 1:8, Ether 7:9) is a problem as there is no evidence of hardened steel being present in pre-Columbian America.

The Book of Mormon also refers to “swords,” stating that “the blades thereof were cankered with rust” (Mosiah 8:11) relating to the Jaredites’ final battlefield where some 250,000 warriors perished. But again, no such battlefield, no such soldiers, and no such weapons have ever been found.

2 Nephi 5:14-15 reads: “And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords… And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.” 

How is it possible that a small group of  ‘immigrants,’ likely no more than 50 in number, managed to do all of the following.

Make Steel – a complicated process of mixing iron with carbon.
Mine Iron Ore – and extract elemental iron from that iron ore.
Mine Coal – and refine it into coke as required in the production of iron.
Mine Limestone – a necessary ingredient necessary for the production of steel.
Locate and mine copper.
Mine tin and zinc – for the production of “brass.”
Refine this tin or zinc which does not appear in an elemental state.
Prospect for gold.
Locate and extract silver.
Roast to eliminate sulfur as required in the production of both copper and silver.
Smelt and flux all of these metals.
Construct furnaces – to produce these metals.
Manufacture hardened mining tools.
Develop expertise in prospecting – locating and identifying ores.

 

What an incedible, intrepid and industrious little band!

Mining, smelting, refining, roasting, all leave indestructible and robust evidence, yet in the Northeastern United States or in Central America, there is no evidence of a sophisticated metallurgical society.

Six times silk is spoken of in the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 13:7,8, Alma 1:29, Alma 4:6, Ether 9:17, Ether 10:24). Silk, of course, is a product of the Orient and unknown in the pre-Columbian Americas.

The word, ‘compass’ (Alma 37:38), is dated at 73 B.C. in the Book of Mormon, even though, this instrument was not invented until the twelfth century.

Alma 11 is also problematic in that it mentions a monetary system based on weights of precious metals and strongly implies the use of coins.

However, recognizing the anachronistic problem of new world coins showing up before the time of Christ, the Church made yet another change to the ‘most correct book in the world,’ removing the reference to ‘coinage’, from the introduction of Alma 11.

Before the change the introduction read:

“Judges and their compensation—Nephite coins and measures—Zeezrom confounded by Amulek…”

The introduction’s reference to “Nephite coins and measures,” was written by committee allthough James Talmage is given special credit.  

I guess we are now to believe that this was just sloppy work on his part even through Talmage’s biographer for one, James P. Harris, noted that Talmage “was customarily meticulous, making sure there were no errors or omissions.”

As well, regardless of the Church’s willingness to throw Talmage under the bus, the introductions and footnotes were certainly approved by the LDS First Presidency.

We have, of course, never found any evidence of the Alma 11 monetary system nor have any coins ever been unearthed – not a seon, shum, limnah, amnor, senums or ezrom. In fact not a single onti!

The Church’s position now is that the seon, shum, limnah, etc. were not coins even through their reference as  ‘pieces of their gold,’ and pieces ‘of their silver,’ would suggest the opposite. LDS apologists now take the narrow view that these pieces of metal of particular weights and values are not coins because they were not minted or inscribed.

Their mention in the Book of Mormon certainly indicates however they were used as coins.

“And the judge received for his wages according to his time–a senine of gold for a day, or a senum of silver, which is equal to a senine of gold; and this is according to the law which was given. Now, these are the names of the different pieces of their gold, and of their silver, according to their value.”

(see Alma 11:1–19)

For many decades Alma 11 has been understood by members to speak of coins. B.H. Roberts, a  LDS Seventy and church historian, wrote, “In addition to these words we have also a number of names of Nephite coins and the names of fractional values of coins…” Brother Roberts continues his uses of the term “coins.””we have no means of obtaining specifically the value of these coinsin modern terms,” and, “there is stated a system of relative values in these coinsthat bears evidence of its being genuine” (A New Witness for God, 3:145).

In the 1979 Book of Mormon Student Manual (Religion 121-122) it asks students “how valuable were the Nephite pieces of money?” Showing that “pieces” meant “coins,” the manual presents a chart to show “the relative value of silver and gold coins under the system set up by Mosiah.”

The difficulty, of course, does not lie in a lack of Nephite coins being unearthed, It lies in Smith’s suggestion that such coins existed in the first place.

So Alma 11 paints the church and her apologists into a corner. Either it presents more artifacts that have never been confirmed by archaeology or it is yet another of the many anachronisms found in Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon.

The word “Bible,” denotes a canon of scripture (2 Nephi 29:3, 4, 6 and 10) and is also problematic. The word ‘Bible,’ is the Anglicization of the Greek word ‘Biblia,’ which means book. The problem here is that Greek wasn’t spoken in Israel until long after Lehi’s supposed emigration to the Americas in about 600 BC.

2 Nephi 31:13 references the “Holy Ghost,” but, the word “ghost” did not come into parlance until hundreds of years after it was inscribed in the Book of Mormon.

Likewise, the word, “epistle” (3 Nephi 3:5) is a transliteration of the Greek word ‘epistolos,’ and again would have been unknown by Book of Mormon peoples. Ditto, the fifteen mentions of the Nephite city of ‘Judea’ (Alma 56:9). Judea is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Judah, and again out of place. The same thing is true for the Greek word Timothy (3 Nephi 19:4) derived from Timotheus.

The name ‘Isabel’ (Alma 39:3) given to a harlot, first appeared in France and Italy in the middle ages. Again, wrong time, wrong place.

Six times, we find the abbreviation “&c” (and so forth), a convention peculiar to the nineteenth century in the Book of Mormon – never used before, never used after.

The words “alpha” and “omega” appear in 3 Nephi 9:18. These are, of course, the English spellings of the Greek words found in the Book of Revelations in the Bible.

As the Book of Mormon was not recorded in Greek, why do we find these words? The most obvious answer is that Smith simply copied them from the King James version of the Bible.

There are numerous instances where Smith uses words that were not relevant to his time but peculiar to the English spoken in the early 1600s. “Prayest,” “durst,” “thou,” “thee,” “thy,” “thine,” “hast,” “doth,” “knoweth,” “hearest,” “cometh,” and “thirsteth.” Did God select these words for the Book of Mormon? No, it demonstrates the writer’s exposure to King James terminology.

One must ask, why would the Book of Mormon be translated into King James/Elizabethan English in the first place? This language was neither spoken in 1830 America nor in the day of Mormon, Moroni, et.al.?

Does God speak Elizabethan English or was this a cunning ploy Smith used to give his writing greater gravitas and also make the numerous passages he plagiarized from the King James version of the Bible fit in more seamlessly?

Scores of passages in the Book of Mormon, either in part or whole, verbatim or paraphrased, have been taken directly from the King James version of the Bible. Some researchers have estimated that as much as 4% can be traced to this English translation.

And perhaps the most egregious error Smith made throughout the Book of Mormon was the use of the word “Christ.” He uses it as though it was the surname of the Lord Jesus. However, as any seminarian can tell you, the word “Christ” is the Anglicization of the Greek word ‘Christos,’ meaning the anointed or chosen one (the equivalent of the Hebrew word Mashiach, or Messiah.)

Much is made of the appearance of the word ‘adieu,’ (Jacob 7:27) because it is so obviously and ridiculously out of place.

It is not then surprising that non-Mormon archeologists and scholars have concluded that the Book of Mormon’s many anachronisms, let alone its subject matter, clearly reveals a 19th-century origin, leading to the inescapable and indisputable conclusion that it is a work of fiction composed during Joseph Smith’s time, nothing more.

The Problem of the Wheel

wheel

There is also the problem of the wheel. The wheel would have been known to Lehi, et.al., as it was in use in Mesopotamia from before 3,000 BC. Simple machines using the wheel, such as the cart or wagon, pulled by humans or animals made the transport of goods much easier.

As I have mentioned already, the Book of Mormon uses the term chariot repeatedly, which shows that the Nephites and Lamanites understood and utilized the concept of the wheel (Alma 18:9-10, 12, 3 Ne. 3:22, Alma 20:6, 3 Ne. 21: 14).

The problem is that archaeologists tell us that the wheel was never used in Pre- Columbian America. Knowledge of the wheel may have existed, but limited, but it appears that it was limited to children’s toys.

If the Nephites and Lamanites used the wheel, why wouldn’t this valuable technology continue to be used by the descendants of these ancient Americans?

If Lehi’s descendants used the wheel, there would be evidence in the Americas before Columbus as technology spreads quickly, particularly something like the wheel, one of the most significant innovations of all time.

One might argue that ancient Americans may have known about the wheel but lost the knowledge; however, that too is a stretch as is the suggestion by a few intrepid apologists, that Book of Mormon chariots did not have wheels, but were dragged by horses (or tapirs).

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 as, ‘from among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.’ It is the most likely to be true or at least the most correct – until proven otherwise. It is the same principle taught in medical school, “when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras!”

If you accept chariots without wheels, it is analogous to hearing hoofbeats and thinking unicorns!

FairMormon produced the attractive chart below in which they attempt to show those anachronisms within the Book of Mormon that has now been ‘confirmed.’

No supporting evidence or references are provided.

BOM ANA

This chart is intended to show how many things believed to be anachronistic in 1842 have now been proven to have existed in the Americas in Book of Mormon times.

The problem is the information it contains is totally bogus, an out and out lie. For example, in the 2005 iteration, it lists Hebrew language, brass plates, swords (steel and otherwise) as confirmed.

When were these things confirmed and by whom?

I am also curious as to why horses are listed as ‘indeterminate.’ Perhaps this refers to the tapir nonsense!

Let me assure you that the Hebrew language, brass plates, swords (steel and otherwise) have NEVER been discovered FairMormon’s chart notwithstanding. Just another blatant example of FairMormon’s dishonesty, in behalf of the LDS Church.

If the LDS Church has what this chart says they do, would they not be trumpeting all these ‘important discoveries’ across their media and beyond?

It also lists as ‘indeterminate’ horses, goats, large armies and the language that no one has ever heard of – ‘reformed Egyptian script.’

I have been to Egypt, I have examined Egyptian hieratic script from Cairo to Aswan and in the temples in between. I have never seen evidence of this peculiar language. I know Egyptian scholars, and none of them have ever heard of ‘Reformed Egyptian.’ 

IMG_0996

Where is the evidence that backs any of these classifications?

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be snarky, but it makes one wonder what universe the apologist who created this chart is living in. Where is the evidence for any of these assertions?

Many professional linguists would love to know more about the discovery of the Hebrew language in the America’s that this chart confirms. Somehow every non-Mormon linguist seems to have missed this ground-breaking find!

Believe me, the discovery of the Hebrew language in ancient America is not a subject for debate. It is well established that there has NEVER been any discoveries whatsoever.

Is horse listed as indeterminate because someone at BYU floated the idea that Book of Mormon horses were tapirs or deer?

I have a spread on the North Saskatchewan river up in Canada, on which roam many deer. Let me assure you by my years of directly observing the temperament of deer; it is beyond absurd to suggest that you could ride them!

FairMormon also disputes my assertion that silk did not exist in ancient America.

They use as their expert John L. Sorenson, the Church’s ‘go to’ archaeologist/scholar/ apologist.

“Linen and silk are textiles mentioned in the Book of Mormon (Alma 4:6). Neither fabric as we now know them was found in Mesoamerica at the coming of the Spaniards. The problem might be no more than linguistic. The redoubtable Bernal Diaz, who served with Cortez in the initial wave of conquest, described native Mexican garments made of “henequen which is like linen.” The fiber of the maguey plant, from which henequen was manufactured, closely resembles the flax fiber used to make European linen. Several kinds of “silk,” too, were reported by the conquerors. One kind was of thread spun from the fine hair on the bellies of rabbits…”

OK, so according to Sorenson they didn’t exist, it was all just a big misunderstanding, a matter of labels – semantics. When the Book of Mormon says linen it means henequen, silk isn’t silk its hair from the bellies of rabbits, barley is hordeum, a species of grass native to the Americas. By horse, the Mormon writers meant tapir, by cattle they meant buffalo, and when they use the word pig this is really code for the chic, a ‘wonderfully active, small dog, with a snout like a sucking pig.’

FairMormon also states:“When they say “directly” support, they typically mean that they are looking for a direct corroboration, such as the presence of the name “Nephi” or “Zarahemla” in association with ancient American archaeological data.”

First, I am not sure who ‘they’ are but if ‘they‘ are archaeologists I doubt they are looking road signs when they speak of “direct corroboration.”

I would suggest that direct corroboration would be the discovery of evidence of the places, animals or technology that match the Book of Mormon claims. The skeletal remains of an elephant would be an example of direct corroboration, one piece of armor or a sword from the many battles involving millions of people would be direct corroboration. Locating a coin with Nephi’s smiling face on it would be direct corroboration.

None of that, of course, is offered rather FairMormon provides yet another quote by Sorenson, this time without any citation:

“Without even considering smelted iron, we find that peoples in Mesoamerica exploited iron minerals from early times. Lumps of hematite, magnetite, and ilmenite were brought into Valley of Oaxaca sites from some of the thirty-six ore exposures located near or in the valley. These were carried to a workshop section within the site of San Jose Mogote as early as 1200 B.C. There they were crafted into mirrors by sticking the fragments onto prepared mirror backs and polishing the surface highly. These objects, clearly of high value, were traded at considerable distances.”

I can understand why Sorenson starts with, ‘Without even considering smelted iron,’ as there is none to consider. Instead he talks about lumps of meteoric minerals fashioned into primitive mirrors as being proof of iron or steel.

FairMormon again trumpets the discovery of wild barley in Arizona. While I would like to have seen peer-reviewed articles, this is something that the reader might want to investigate further as it certainly refutes the crtics who say that barley did not exist in the Americas. 

The December 1983 issue of the magazine Science 83 reported the discovery in Phoenix, Arizona, by professional archaeologists of what they supposed to be pre-Columbian barley. That same month, F.A.R.M.S. carried a preliminary notice of the discovery.

Mosiah 9:9 lists barley among several crops that were cultivated by the Nephites in the land of Nephi, and Alma 11:7 singles out barley as the primary grain into which silver and gold were converted in the Nephite system of weights and measures.1

In an blog article entitled, ‘Barley Found in the New World.‘ by Raymond C. Treat he heralds this find, “This discovery constitutes one of the most important archaeological breakthroughs ever in support of the Book of Mormon. If this identification of barley is valid, and it appears to be, it will cause a major shift in the thinking of New World archaeologists, a shift which will be a giant step toward the ever growing physical validation of Book of Mormon history.”

Mr. Treat may be a little too enthusiastic, keep in mind that a few grains of a wild barley in Arizona does not parallel the domesticated variety taken from the Holy Land to the Americas and used to feed millions of people, but when you are grasping at straws a few grains of wild barley become the Holy Grail.

There is a pre-Columbian city located on the Yucatan Peninsula called Tulúm which is often included in LDS tour packages and identified as a Book of Mormon site. The tour guides describe it as ‘possibly’ one place mentioned in the Book of Mormon and make a big fuss over the depiction of the “Descending God,” which the guides often tell their Mormon tourists represents Jesus Christ visiting the Book of Mormon people.

The problem is that extensive archaeological research conducted at Tulúm has shown that the time is all wrong. “All structural and ceramic evidence at Tulúm, and its corpus of murals and reliefs, date from the Middle and Late Postclassic (AD 1200-1520) period.”

Athena Review Vol. 2, No. 1, “Maya sites in Quintana Roo: Tulúm.”

As well, the suggestion that the ‘Descending God’ image is a depiction of Jesus Christ has been dismissed as nonsense by reputable scholarly authorities. The ‘Descending God’ is a representation of the bee god Ah Muzencab based on the apparent antennae and insect-like torso. Jesus with antennae, really FairMormon?

The Mayans, Incas and the Olmec’s built complex societies, with temples and fortifications but these cultures and ‘civilizations’ just don’t fit with Book of Mormon peoples. They were pagans, they had their own language and it certainly did not have Hebrew cum Christian roots. 

There is just no archaeological evidence of the Jaredite people or the Nephites described in the Book of Mormon that is accepted by mainstream archaeologists.

The Jaredite civilization in the American covenant land is said to have been destroyed as the result of a civil war near the time that Lehi’s party arrived in the New World (approximately 590 BC). The Olmec civilization, on the other hand, flourished in Mesoamerica during the Pre-classic period (1200 BC to about 400 BC).

Although the Olmec civilization ended suddenly and for reasons that are not yet clear, there are indications that some of the Olmec people survived and interacted with other cultures.”

Likewise, no Central or South American civilization is recognized to correlate with the Nephites of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon makes no mention of Lamanites or Nephites erecting impressive works of hewn stone as did the Maya or various South American peoples.

“While ‘walls of stone,’ are mentioned in Alma 48:7 there is no suggestion they were constructed of hewn stone. The remnants of massive wall piles of stone made by mound builder societies are known to exist in the eastern United States.”

I am troubled also by the fact that while the Church knows full well, that the Mayans, Aztecs, etc. just don’t fit with the Book of Mormon peoples, they allow this confusion to persist.

Generations of Mormon ‘amateur archaeologists,’ have written books containing photographs of ancient ruins and artifacts advancing the claim that they prove that the Book of Mormon is true. Their findings, however, can be summarized simply as – wrong time, wrong place, wrong people!

Sadly, the Church has knowingly provided and possibly still does supply its young missionaries with archaeological slides of Mayan temples and ruins, which can mislead investigators.

A slide or picture of a Mayan temple has nothing more to do with the Book of Mormon story than a photo of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

Please, remember the 13th Article of Faith. This needs to stop.

References



1 https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/BookofMormon/Plants/Barley.

2 “An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon,” 1984.

3 Robert Wane Hope, “Ten Years Of Middle American Archaeology.”

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

5 Del Dowdell Who Really Settled Mesoamerica.

 

 

Chapter 3

Damned DNA: Why do all recent DNA studies conclusively and without exception show that Native Americans are of Siberian/Asiatic and not of Hebrew/Middle Eastern Origin?

dna

As the following statements by leaders in the field indicate, based on DNA evidence alone there is no nexus between the Middle-Eastern peoples and the aboriginal peoples of the Americas.

As Michael Crawford1  at the University of Kansas puts it,“I don’t think there is one iota of evidence that suggests a lost tribe from Israel made it all the way to the New World. It is a great story, slain by ugly fact.”

DNA comprises four pairs of “molecular bases”– adenine, cytosine, thymine, and guanine that form a ribbon-like chain in a molecule that is then twisted upon itself twice (a double helix.) You have likely seen the Watson-Click model somewhere in your educational experience.

As Simon Southerton points out, “Each base is always opposite its complementary base, A with C, and G with T or vice versa. They can thus be understood as a coded sequence (which they are), and replication occurs because the complementary pairings always line up with stray molecules (called nucleotides) when reproduction takes place. A single change in the sequence represents a “mutation” that can be detected.

In human mitochondria (for simplicity think of this as a part of a cell), there are approximately 16,500 “letters,” and five sequences are found among Native American populations in what is identified as “haplogroups.” These five haplogroups also exist among the Siberian population of Eastern Asia in the same statistical proportions.

Significantly, these haplogroups are not found in Semitic populations, and additionally, there are other haplogroups found among the peoples of the Middle East that are not found in Native Americans.” 2

Got that, mutually exclusive.

Meldrum and Stephens two leaders in DNA analysis have found that “The data accumulated to date show that 99.6 percent of Native American genetic markers studied so far exhibit Siberian connections.” 3

Many other leaders in the field of genetics have also stated:“The data accumulated to date show that 99.6 percent of Native American genetic markers studied so far exhibit Siberian connections.”4

“Genetic research, particularly that using mitochondrial and Y chromosome markers, provide quite an emphatic refutation of any such relationship between Jews and Native Americans.”5

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.

Even 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.”

Investigation of mitochondrial DNA of over 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.

Perhaps not surprisingly, 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:

“…the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.”

to:

“…the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.”

With the change of a few words, the Lamanites went from being the ancestors of every native American, as President Kimball had once declared to merely living among these native populations.

Then following this striking display of core belief malleability, the ‘Brethren’ begin their gaslighting, claiming there is nothing new here, this was all common knowledge written about for years. It is not the Church’s fault that members were too stupid or lazy to search these things out.

The Mormon Essay on DNA states the following:

“Basic principles of population genetics suggest the need for a more careful approach to the data. The conclusions of genetics, like those of any science, are tentative, and much work remains to be done to fully understand the origins of the native populations of the Americas. Nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon peoples, and even if their genetic profile were known, there are sound scientific reasons that it might remain undetected. For these same reasons, arguments that some defenders of the Book of Mormon make based on DNA studies are also speculative. In short, DNA studies cannot be used decisively to either affirm or reject the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon.”6

I agree that there are explanations as to why it is possible that no Hebrew DNA has been discovered, but, there is wide disagreement as to how sound they are. As is usually the case, the Church, and her apologists are adrift in the defensive world of possibilities, not probabilities.

Genetic drift is such a possibility.

Genetic drift is the gradual loss of genetic markers in small populations due to random events.

The Church’s essay uses the illustration of colored marbles to make the case, a simple illustration of the concept of genetic drift:

marble“Fill a jar with 20 marbles—ten red, ten blue. The jar represents a population, and the marbles represent people with different genetic profiles. Draw a marble at random from this population, record its color, and place it back in the jar. Each drawing represents the birth of a child. Draw 20 times to simulate a new generation within the population. The second generation could have an equal number of each color, but more likely it will have an uneven number of the two colors. Before you draw the third generation, adjust the proportion of each color in the jar to reflect the new mix of genetic profiles in the gene pool. As you continue drawing, the now-uneven mix will lead to ever more frequent draws of the dominant color. Over several generations, this “drift” toward one color will almost certainly result in the disappearance of the other color.”

The marble metaphor seems to make sense with 20 marbles, and 20 draws although to complete the story, it would have been good to know how many ‘generations,’ and color adjustments and draws it would take to end up with all the same colored marbles.

The law of probabilities would predict we would get an equal number of red and blue marbles from the draws over time, but since the sample is so small, you might get 9 of one and 11 of the other one time or 8 and 12 another time and so on. That being the case and assuming that the draws are almost always one-sided (say blue marbles coming out on top – not likely) after about ten or eleven generations, all the marbles would be the same color.

The marble scenario falls apart however when the numbers become greater, say 10,000 or 20,000 marbles It is estimated that it would take 1,000 or 2,000 generation (25,000 – 50,000 years) to even possibly see the same results. We would still expect to find a lot of red marbles, that is, Semitic DNA!

In his review of William B. Provine’s “The ‘Random Genetic Drift’ Fallacy,” Christopher Jensen, Associate Professor, Pratt Institute indicates that the‘Marble Metaphor’ is both simplistic and unlikely.

“Different alleles at a single locus are represented as marbles (or as beads, or as jelly beans for the most voracious students of evolution). The metaphor is compelling: if each marble in the jar represents an allele possessed by an individual, then the whole jar represents the “gene pool”. By randomly sampling from the jar as a way of representing alleles being passed on to the next generation of offspring, we can see that in small populations the probability of losing an allele to chance is far greater than in larger populations.”

“But are alleles well-represented as marbles in a jar? This question — as absurd as it may seem — is at the heart of The “Random Genetic Drift” Fallacy‘s argument. Provine emphatically says “no”, suggesting that what we call genetic drift is really inbreeding, and inbreeding creates very different evolutionary outcomes than fixation of particular alleles at particular loci. There is no gene pool and there is no drift at particular gene loci because genes are located on chromosomes and chromosomes are replicated via the process of meiosis. Meiosis was not well-understood until just after Fisher, Wright, and Haldane had formulated the foundational theory of population genetics; according to Provine, population genetics has been out of synch with reality every since.” 8

References

1 Michael Crawford, at the University of Kansas, as quoted in Thomas Murphy, Mormon anthropologist, American Apocrypha, p. 53.

2 Simon Southerton, “Losing a Lost Tribe,” Signature Books, 2004

3 Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens, “Who are the Children of Lehi,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, v. 12, no. 1, p. 41

4 Dr. David Glenn Smith, U.C.-Davis molecular anthropologist, 2002 Sunstone Symposium, Salt Lake City

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

6 Book of Mormon and DNA Studies, An LDS Essay

7 “Debate Renewed with a Change in Book of Mormon Introduction,” Deseret News (8 Nov. 2007).

8 Review of William B. Provine’s “The ‘Random Genetic Drift’ Fallacy”

FairMormon’s Comments on my questions on DNA Issues

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 the investigator’s 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 ‘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 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 accepted conclusion that DNA is 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 there 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.

Second, 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, of the ‘House of Israel.’ We know what Middle-Eastern Jewish DNA looks like. Geneticists have identified the unique markers. And none of those markers have been found in the Americas.

The simple fact is that DNA testing conducted on 150 tribes located across the Americas have shown, that in direct contradiction to traditional Mormon claims, their ancestors migrated from Asia some 7,000 and 50,000 years ago.

These populations 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. This 50-mile aperture was almost certainly closed in the day.

yelloww

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 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, 8 Nov. 2007:”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon also takes umbrage with my statement 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:

To refute my comment, FairMormon tells us 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”referred 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,” instructed (or directed or allowed Ms. Moore, to write?

If I am mistaken, I would challenge FairMormon to share with me the official pronouncement.

‘Quietly’ is a relative term.

According to the LDS Church’s statistical report tabled by F. Michael Wilson at the 2006 General Conference the membership of the Church was 12,868,606 persons.

The circulation of the Deseret News as advertised in their ‘2015 Media Kit’ was 84,891 (In-State: 34,838 Out-of-State: 50,053). I do not have the circulation numbers for 2006, but it would be reasonable to assume it was probably less than 2015.

Does the publication of an article in a periodical with a very limited circulation, (6/10 of 1% of the Church’s claimed membership) represent a ‘quiet’ announcement?

I will let the reader decide.

But, let me be generous and give FairMormon a ‘C’

yelloww

I welcome your questions and comments:
https://lettertoanapostle.org/contact/

 

 

Chapter 5

Does Smith’s extensive ‘rap-sheet’ including his arrest, trial and likely conviction for money digging, treason, attempted murder and bank fraud comport with being a prophet of God?

Thinking man Shadow Under Jail Bars. Concrete Wall.

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.”

Prisoner brought before Court March 20, 1826.

Prisoner examined: says that he came from the town of Palmyra and had been at the house of Josiah Stowel in Bainbridge most of time since; had small part of time been employed by said Stowel on his farm and going to school. That he had a certain stone which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold mines were a distance underground, and had looked for Mr. Stowel several times, and had informed him where he could find these treasures, and Mr. Stowel had been engaged in digging for them. That at Palmyra he pretended to tell by looking at this stone where coined money was buried in Pennsylvania, and while at Palmyra had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was of various kinds; that he had occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up on account of its injuring his health.”

Copy of fees below:

bill

The court record shows that Joseph Smith was involved in magic practices at the same time he was preparing himself to receive the plates for the Book of Mormon.

It is interesting to note that in the court record Joseph Smith confessed that “for three years” before 1826 he had used a stone placed in his hat to find treasures or lost property.

This means that in 1823, three years after he claims an angelic visitation and the same year he says he found the gold plates (September 22, 1823) he was still engaged in treasure hunting.

Before this discovery, LDS historian Francis W. Kirkham, couldn’t bring himself to believe that Smith was an other dishonorable con man. That he cheated people out of their money with assurances that he would find buried treasure using a peep stone in a hat.

Kirkham wrote, “If such a court record confession could be identified and proved, then it follows that his believers must deny his claimed divine guidance which led them to follow him…. How could he be a prophet of God, the leader of the Restored Church to these tens of thousands, if he had been the superstitious fraud which ‘the pages from a book’ declared he confessed to being?”

A New Witness for Christ in America,
vol. 1, pp. 3, 85‐87 and pp. 486‐87

nibley

The late Hugh Nibley, perhaps the most prominent Mormon apologist ever stated,“…if this court record is authentic it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith.” 

If the court record could be established it would be “the most devastating blow to Smith ever delivered.”12

Well, Hugh, it was, and it is!

FairMormon suggests the proceedings did not constitute a trial, but rather more of a “preliminary hearing” where the accused is bound over for trial at a later date, and this may very well be the case.

This is why I said, ‘likely convicted,’ because the jury is still out. Although I am not sure it matters.

The LDS Church has not been forthcoming with the publication of a full and truthful history of this event. Their records would make the assessment more certain. Perhaps another example of Boyd Packer’s aphorism that, “some truths are not very useful.”

There is evidence that Justice Neely found Joseph Smith “guilty” of being a “disorderly person,” and that the judge 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.13

It may well be that Smith then left the jurisdiction, which was probably fine with the court, as the scoundrel was gone.

We have the following:

“And therefore, the Court finds 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.”14

Further, On March 8, 1842, Justice Joel K. Noble, who acquitted Joseph Smith of some charges brought against him in 1830, wrote a letter in which he spoke of Joseph Smith’s “first trial” — i.e., the case before Justice Neely. According to Justice Noble, Smith “was condemned” at that time.

The seven known witnesses to the trial stated:

  • Benton: tried and condemned … designedly allowed to escape
  • Cowdery: honorably acquitted
  • Noble: was condemned, took leg bail (escaped)
  • Marshall: guilty?
  • Tuttle: guilty?
  • Purple: discharged
  • Constable De Zeng: not a trial

I am not sure it matters, my best guess is there is about a 50/50 chance that there was some sanction. I feel that because of his age he was told to, “get out of town and don’t come back.”

Regarding Joseph Smith’s ‘money digging.’ There are only three explanations:

  1. God gave Joseph Smith the power to see treasures in his stone.
  2. Smith had a vivid imagination and the ability to convince other people and perhaps himself that he saw real treasure in his stone.
  3. Smith deliberately sought to mislead and defraud others.

Historians employed by the LDS Church have been excommunicated, but more commonly threatened with sanctions if they publish an objective history rather than a faith promoting rendition. Packer goes so far as to refer to objective histories of Mormonism as “disease germs.”4

Regarding Joseph’s efficacy in finding “buried treasure,” and Smith’s claim he could see anything when looking at the peep stone in his hat is contradicted by his statement to his father-in-law Isaac Hale as evidenced by the sworn statement of Peter Ingersoll, replicated below:

“In the month of August 1827, I was hired by Joseph Smith, Jr. to go to Pennsylvania, to move his wife’s household furniture up to Manchester, where his wife then was. When we arrived at Mr. Hale’s, in Harmony, PA from which place he had taken his wife, a scene presented itself, truly affecting. 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 never 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 magic stones. Mr. Hale told Joseph, if he would move to Pennsylvania and work for a living, he would assist him in getting into business. Joseph acceded to this proposition. I then returned with Joseph and his wife to Manchester.

One circumstance occurred on the road, worthy of notice, and I believe this is the only instance where Jo ever exhibited true Yankee wit. On our journey to Pennsylvania, we could not make the exact change at the toll gate near Ithaca. Joseph told the gate tender that he would “hand” him the toll on his return, as he was coming back in a few days. On our return, Joseph tendered to him 25 cents, the toll being 12 1/2. He did not recognize Smith, so he accordingly gave him back the 12 1/2 c. After we had passed the gate, I asked him if he did not agree to pay double gateage on our return? “No,”said he, “I agreed to hand it to him, and I did, but he handed it back again.”

“Joseph told me on his return that he intended to keep the promise which he had made to his father-in-law; “but,” said he, “it will be hard for me, for they will all oppose, as they want me to look in the stone for them to dig money.” And in fact, it was as he predicted. They urged him, day after day, to resume his old practice of looking in the stone. — He seemed much perplexed as to the course he should pursue. In this dilemma, he made me his confident (sic) and told me what daily transpired in the family of Smiths. One day he came and greeted me with a joyful countenance. — Upon asking the cause of his unusual happiness, he replied in the following language: “As I was passing, yesterday, across the woods, after a heavy shower of rain, I found, in a hollow, some beautiful white sand, that had been washed up by the water. I took off my frock, and tied up several quarts of it, and then went home.

On my entering the house, I found the family at the table eating dinner. They were all anxious to know the contents of my frock. At that moment, I happened to think of what I had heard about a history found in Canada, called the golden Bible; so I very gravely told them it was the golden Bible.

To my surprise, they were credulous enough to believe what I said. Accordingly, I told them that I had received a commandment to let no one see it, for, says I, no man can see it with the naked eye and live. However, I offered to take out the book and show it to them, but they refused to see it, and left the room.”

“Now, said Jo, ‘I have got the d[amne]d fools fixed, and will carry out the fun.’ Notwithstanding, he told me he had no such book, and believed there never was any such book, yet, he told me that he went to Willard Chase, to get him to make a chest, in which he might deposit his golden Bible. But, as Chase would not do it, he made a box himself, of clapboards, and put it into a pillowcase, and allowed people only to lift it, and feel of it through the case.

In the fall of 1827, Joseph wanted to go to Pennsylvania. His brother-in-law had come to assist him in moving, but he was out of money. He wished to borrow the money of me, and he presented Mr. Hale as security. I told him in case he could obtain assistance from no other source, I would let him have some money. Joseph then went to Palmyra; and, said he, “I there met that d[am]n fool, Martin Harris, and told him that I had a command to ask the first honest man I met with, for fifty dollars in money, and he would let me have it. I saw at once,” said Joe, “that it took his notion, for he promptly gave me the fifty.”

Joseph thought this sum was sufficient to bear his expenses to Pennsylvania. So, he immediately started off, and since that time I have not been much in his society. While the Smiths were living at Waterloo, William visited my neighborhood, and upon my inquiry how they came on, he replied, “we do better there than here; we were too well known here to do much.” 5

I certify, that on this 9th day of December 1833, personally appeared before me the above-named Peter Ingersoll, to me known, and made oath, according to law, to the truth of the above statement.6

Joseph’s ‘rap sheet’ below comes from an article by Diane Tingen in Mormonism Schism.

1830 – New York

Smith reportedly, performed an exorcism in Colesville and was again tried as a disorderly person. He was acquitted. The account of the exorcism is in this article about the Knight family can be found on LDS.org. The article on LDS.org which also discussed the trial has been removed by the Church.

1837 – Kirtland, Ohio

In May 1837, Grandison Newell accused Joseph Smith of plotting to murder him. Joseph was eventually acquitted. Did he intend to have Newell killed? We don’t know, but the testimony of church leaders and employees revealed just how seriously the Prophet’s followers took his supposed off-hand remarks.

In either case, statements by two apostles and other close associates no doubt undermined Joseph Smith’s reputation. Wilbur Denton and Sidney Rigdon both testified that the alleged conspiracy took place in April or May of 1835. Orson Hyde testified that when rumors began circulating that Newell might sue the floundering Kirtland Safety Society, Joseph Smith “seemed much excited and declared that Newell should be put out of the way, or where the crows could not find him,” and he said that “destroying Newell would be justifiable in the slight of God, that it was the will of God, etc.”

1838 – Kirtland, Ohio

After a warrant was issued for Smith’s arrest on a charge of banking fraud, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon fled Kirtland for Missouri under cover of nightfall on January 12th, 1838. This incident had to do with the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company, and with charges of fraud and illegal banking, including the illegal purchase of Monroe Bank in Michigan by Smith and Rigdon. Oliver Cowdery was named the Monroe bank’s Vice-President which saw him move to Michigan to run that bank.

1838 – Missouri

On November 1, 1838, the Mormons surrendered to 2,500 state troops and agreed to forfeit their property and leave the state. Joseph Smith was court-martialed and nearly executed for treason, but militiaman Alexander Doniphan, who was also Joseph Smith’s attorney, probably saved Joseph’s life by insisting that he was a civilian.

Smith was then sent to a state court for a preliminary hearing, where several of his former allies, including Danite commander Sampson Avard, turned state’s evidence against him. Joseph Smith and five others, including Sidney Rigdon, were charged with “overt acts of treason,” and transferred to the jail at Liberty, Missouri to await trial.

In 1839, Smith tried to escape at least twice during his four-month imprisonment. On April 6, 1839, on their way to a different jail after their grand jury hearing, he finally escaped after bribing the sheriff.

As was his custom Joseph Smith, and the Mormons fled the state, this time moving to Illinois.

Banking Fraud

The Kirtland Bank was created in the State of Ohio by Joseph Smith who named himself Cashier and Sidney Rigdon as President. However, because the venture was under-funded, a Banking Charter was refused.

Not to be deterred, Joseph and Sidney declared it an “Anti-Bank,” and depositors were lured in because Smith told his followers that as a Prophet of God, the Bank could never fail.

Warren Parrish, who had been an officer in the bank and had apostatized from the Church, made this statement:

“I have listened to him [i.e., Smith] with feelings of no ordinary kind, when he declared that the AUDIBLE VOICE OF GOD, INSTRUCTED HIM TO ESTABLISH A BANKING-ANTI BANKING INSTITUTION, who like Aaron’s rod SHALL SWALLOW UP ALL OTHER BANKS (the Bank of Monroe excepted,) and grow and flourish and spread from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and survive when all others should be laid in ruins.”7

However, problems arose when merchants and businessmen began to redeem the ‘anti-banks’ notes. Joseph knew the Bank did not have enough cash to cover the paper and that an old-fashioned, “Bank Run”would ruin the bank. Smith and Rigdon quickly resigned as officers and the bank did in fact fail.

“If the bank needed a final blow to shatter what little prestige it still held among the faithful, it received it when Warren Parrish resigned as cashier, left the church, and began openly to describe the banking methods of the prophet. Parrish was later accused of absconding with $25,000, [$500,000 today] but if he took the sum it must have been in WORTHLESS BANK NOTES since that amount of specie in the vaults would have saved the bank”,8

Joseph Smith’s delusions resulted in many faithful Mormons losing their life savings and their faith. Many people, who were given worthless bank notes in exchange for gold and silver deposits, convinced that Joseph had intended to swindle them from the outset, attacked him verbally and threatened him physically. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon fled Kirtland under the cloak of darkness January 1838 to escape bank depositors.

“The toppling of the Kirtland bank loosed a hornets’ nest. Creditors swarmed in upon Joseph armed with threats and warrants. He was terribly in debt. There is no way of knowing exactly how much he and his leading elders had ‘borrowed’ since the loyal Mormons left no itemized account of their claims. But the local non-Mormon creditors whom he could not repay brought a series of suits against the prophet which the Geauga county court duly recorded. These records tell a story of trouble that would have demolished the prestige and broken the spirit of a lesser man.

Thirteen suits were brought against him between June 1837 and April 1839, to collect sums totaling nearly $25,000. The damages asked amounted to almost $35,000. He was arrested seven times in four months, and his followers managed heroically to raise the $38,428 required for bail. Of the thirteen suits, only six were settled out of court foabout $12,000 out of the $25,000. In the other seven, the creditors either were awarded damages or won them by default.

Joseph had many additional debts that never resulted in court action. Some years later he compiled a list of still outstanding Kirtland loans, which amounted to more than $33,000. If one adds to these the two great loans of $30,000 and $60,000 borrowed in New York and Buffalo in 1836, it would seem that the Mormon leaders owed to non-Mormon individuals and firms well over $150,000.”9

Joseph Smith had fraudulently “capitalized his ‘Mormon bank‘ at $4 million. A huge sum of capital, when at the time, in the entire state of Ohio, the total capitalization of all banks was $9 1/3 million. Setting himself and those who trusted him up for failure.

To illustrate the extent of Smith’s dishonesty,  casual observers wanting to see the Mormon banks assets, inside of the vault were shown many boxes “filled” with gold and silver coin. However, the boxes were first filled with sand, and then a thin layer of coin laid on top.

This is fraud, not just mismanagement.

“Lining the shelves of the bank vault… were many boxes, each marked $1,000. Actually, these boxes were filled with ‘sand, lead, old iron, stone, and combustibles’ but each had a top layer of bright fifty cent silver coins.”10

Joseph and Sidney Rigdon were tried in court for violating the law, were found guilty and fined $1,000, a huge penalty in those days.

As with many of Smith’s misadventures, this illegal bank began with Joseph Smith receiving a revelation from GOD himself. Wilford Woodruff, who later became the fourth President of the LDS church, confirmed that Joseph claimed to have had a revelation concerning the bank.

“During the summer of 1837, Joseph spent much of his time away from Kirtland to avoid these lawsuits…. Apostles Luke S. Johnson, Lyman E. Johnson, and John F. Boynton were rejected and disfellowshipped. “The blame for the bank failure fell heavily on Joseph. He had issued a formal invitation to his followers to take stock in the venture, and the institution had been organized outside the law. Heber C. Kimball later was to comment that at this moment, ‘there were not twenty persons on earth that would declare that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.’ Six of the apostles came out in open rebellion.

…Joseph first established the bank by revelation and then had to admit later that because of poor management and other internal and external conditions the project was a failure.”11

FairMormon claims Joseph Smith was never convicted of a crime. Their website quotes Joseph Bentley, a lawyer who worked on the Joseph Smith Papers as saying:

“Joseph Smith was persecuted in courts of law as much as anyone I know. But he was never found guilty of any crime, and his name cannot be tarnished in that way.”

This is, of course, a out and out lie and another example of just how low FairMormon will stoop to protect the image of Smith. I just provided one example above of where he Smith was found guilty along with Sidney Rigdon for banking, “irregularities.’ There also absolutely no question that Joseph was arrested, and appeared before Judge Albert Neely.

There was another case where there is even stronger evidence that Joseph was convicted of the crime of assault. On August 1, 1843, Smith assaulted Hancock County tax collector Walter Bagby after he called Smith a liar.

An enraged Joseph Smith, according to witnesses,  got out of the buggy in which he was riding, and either struck Bagby multiple times, or attempted to choked him.

William Clayton, one of Joseph Smith’s scribes was present and recorded what happened:

“P.M. went to Temple at four o clock J and Backenstos came up to the Temple. J began to tell me concerning a tax title which Hamilton had on me of the city lots he had got a Sheriffs Deed. J. told me to inquire of Bagby concerning it. While we were talking Bagby came up & J asked him concerning it. he denied all knowledge of it. J. told him that he had always been ready to pay all taxes when called upon & he did not think it good behavior to sell his lots when he was willing to pay the taxes whenever called upon. Bagby said he had done more for J. than for any other man in the County. J. reiterated that he had abused the citizens here and was always doing so. Bagby then told him he was a liar at which J. got out of his Buggy. When Bagby saw him get out he ran to pick up a stone to through at which J. was so enraged that he followed him & struck him two or three times. Esqr. Wells stepped between them & succeeded in getting them apart and J. told him to assess the fine and he was willing to pay it. J. rode down to Whitney’s & got the fine assessed & then returned to the political meeting. Bagby staid a while muttering that J. was a coward &c.”

This event was also recorded, in part, twelve days later in Joseph Smith’s journal which states:

Mr. [Walter] Bagby. of Cartharge [sic]. who has exercised more despotic power over the inhibtants [sics] of this city & than any despot of the Eastern country. I met. he gave me some abusive language took up a stone to throw at me I siezd him by the throat to choke him off.”

The History of the Church recounts the incident, “Bagby called me a liar and picked up a stone to throw at me, which so enraged me that I followed him a few steps, and struck him two or three times. Esquire Daniel H. Wells stepped between us and succeeded in separating us…. I rode down to Alderman Whitney . . . he imposed a fine which I paid.” 12

Joseph Smith had an extensive number of ‘interactions‘ with the criminal justice system. His problems with the law were extensive from his first disorderly person/fraud trial in 1826 to his second arrest for treason and inciting a riot in 1844 in which he died in a gun fight.

Joseph’s‘Rap Sheet’

March 1826 Disorderly personRAP

June 1830 Disorderly person

June 1830 Disorderly person

February 1837 Illegal banking

June 1837 Conspiracy to Murder

January 1838 Banking fraud

August 10, 1838 Threatening Judge

Nov. 12, 1838 Treason

August 1842 Conspiracy to Murder

June 6, 1843 Treason

May 1844 Perjury

May 1844 Fornication & Adultery

June 11, 1844 Inciting a riot

June 24, 1844 Treason

These are just criminal matters involving Smith, there were also many many civil matters in which he was the defendant.

References

6 Th. P. Baldwin, Judge of Wayne County Court

7 Painesville Republican, February 22, 1838, page 297

8Fawn M. Brodie No Man Knows My History, page 198

9 Fawn M. Brodie No Man Knows My History, page 198

10C.G. Webb (W. Wyl, Mormon Portraits, 1886, p 36.

11 Joseph Smith As An Administrator,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, May 1969, pp. 80, 81

12Hugh Nibley, The Mythmakers p. 142.

13Joseph Smith’s Bainbridge, N.Y. Court Trials, by Wesley P. Walters, p. 109, reprinted in the Westminster Theological Journal.

14 (Fraser’s Magazine, February 1873, pp. 229-30).

15 From, “Occult to Cult with Joseph Smith, Jr.,” Joseph Smith’s Bainbridge, N.Y. Court Trials, p. 123.

16 Boyd K. Packer, “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect,” 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259‐271

17 Affidavit of Wilson Law, June 20, 1844, published in “Letters to Gov. Ford−No. II,” Alton Telegraph & Democratic Review, February 22, 1845, 1

18Affidavit of John W. Putnam, August 13, 1844, published in “Letters to Gov. Ford−No. IV,” Alton Telegraph & Democratic Review, March 15, 1845.

19Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1845, 1, 6.

20Ayatullah Sayyid Imam RuhallaMusawi Khomeini, ‘Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist’, Jan 21, 1970.

213 Nephi 20: 15-17, 20

223 Nephi 21: 14-15, 18, 21

 

FairMormon’s Comment No. 12

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

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA and 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.’ He earned more than fourteen dollars a month from this scam, more than workers on the Erie Canal were paid.

Remember, this took place before Smith’s claim to have found the ‘Gold Plates,’ and his methodology was the same he later employed in the translation of the Book of Mormon – placing a magic rock, he had found while digging a well, in his hat and then putting his head in that 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 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 modern-day 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 or the professors of the ‘prosperity gospel,’ who ask the poor to give what little they have to receive a greater temporal rewards later on.

John Oliver has provided a video on this predatory practice featuring many Mormon leaders:

http://www.youtube.com//watch?v=tsRUy982Ib

There is compelling evidence that Joseph knew full well that 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 he (Smith) could see nothing.

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. Smith was arrested and tried because 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 sentenced him to “sixty days” in the “Bridewell House of Correction, at hard labor,” but instead bound him over to be tried by three justices at a later date.

I agree that this sounds like what today’s we might call a 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 finds 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.’

redd


Smith’s Final Arrest for Treason

Joseph Smith was a very ambitious man. Shortly before his death in 1844 he established a theocratic-political system which he called the Council of 50. and on April 11th, 1844 he anointed himself King and Ruler over all the earth with unlimited civil, military and ecclesiastical power.

This body met in Nauvoo seventeen times before he was killed, and at least one of those sub rosa meetings, Smith prophesied the entire overthrow of the United States within a few years.

Smith saw himself as reigning over all of America and eventually the entire world. Like so many things Joseph Smith did it was done covertly and undercover and those who were given knowledge of it or who was promised to become one of the ‘Princes’ were sworn to secrecy under penalty of death.

Wilson Law, the brother of William Law, the former second councilor in the First Presidency and the highest ranking Major General in the Nauvoo Legion, stated that Smith’s intended to:

“Set the laws at defiance; for the Government, he said, was corrupt, and ought to be overthrown, and he would do it, for he could get help plenty from the Indians, for he had communication with them all the time, and they were ready. And deponent further saith that he verily believes that said Joseph Smith is and has been, conspiring with the Indians against this Government, he having agents out among the Indians, passing to and fro ever since last summer; and that a number of Indians have come to Nauvoo, at different times, last winter and spring, and held secret councils with said Smith. And further, that Hyrum Smith, last winter, said to the affiant, that this Government must be changed; for it did not suit them, and they could never keep the revelations or build up the kingdom under the present form of Government.”

Affidavit of Wilson Law, June 20, 1844, published in
“Letters to Gov. Ford−No. II,” Alton Telegraph
& Democratic Review, February 22, 1845, 1

John W. Putnam. Putnam, a resident of Bear Creek, Illinois, a community not far from Nauvoo, stated on August 13, 1844:

“That he saw in the lodge at Nauvoo, a number of arms, and he understood that there were plenty of arms in Nauvoo. He further states that the Mormons are endeavoring to seduce the Indian tribes from their allegiance to the United States, and engage them to take up the hatchet against the people of the United States, and that white men are to lead them on to the conflict.”

He further states that “he has understood that Lyman Wight has already departed [to Texas] to stir up the savages and prepare them for the final struggle with the whites. He also understood that cannon had been received in Nauvoo, sent there in hogsheads of sugar, and also fire arms (sic) and ammunition. He further states … that in conjunction with the Indians [the Mormon plan is] to attack the people and subvert the government and establish Mormonism throughout the United States. He further states that…. the Indians had twice held their Powwows or war dances in Nauvoo.”

Affidavit of John W. Putnam, August 13, 1844,
published in “Letters to Gov. Ford−No. IV,”
Alton
Telegraph & Democratic Review, March 15, 1845.

Smith’s determined goal of a theocratic-political empire is evident in the pretentious Proclamation of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To all the Kings of the World’which the Council of the Twelve (who are also all members of the Council of Fifty), addressed: “To all the Kings of the World; To the President of the United States of America; To the Governors of the several States; And to the Rulers and Peoples of all Nations.”

Smitheven had the cheek to send a copy of this ‘proclamation’ to Her Majesty Queen Victoria.

The pronouncement warned world leaders: “You cannot…stand as idle and disinterested spectators of the scenes and events which are calculated in their very nature to reduce all nations and creeds to one political and religious standard, and thus put an end to Babel forms and names, and to strife and war.”

Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1845, 1, 6.

There is no evidence I am aware of that Her Majesty ever read Smith nonsense, but as most of Smith ‘Prophecies’ nothing ever came of it.

But is this not precisely the form of government militant Islam longs for today?

“Islamic government does not correspond to any of the existing forms of government… Islamic government is neither tyrannical nor absolute, but constitutional. It is not constitutional in the current sense of the word… It is constitutional in the sense that the rulers are subject to a certain set of conditions in governing and administering the country, conditions that are set forth in the Noble Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Most Noble Messenger (Imam). It is the laws and ordinances of Islam comprising this set of conditions that must be observed and practiced. Islamic government may therefore be defined as the rule of divine law over men.”

Ayatullah Sayyid Imam Ruhallah Musawi Khomeini,
‘Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist’, Jan 21, 1970.

If you replaced the word Islam with Mormonism and the word Imam for LDS church President you have Joseph Smith’s un-American dystopian society.

Smith’s goal of world domination echoes the message of the Book of Mormon:

15. And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive after they have scattered my people-

16. Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

17. Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.

20. And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles.

3 Nephi 20: 15-17, 20

12 And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

14 Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots;

15 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds;

18 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities.

21 And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.

3 Nephi 21: 14-15, 18, 21

Brigham Young speaking as a member of the Council of the Fiftyon March 11th, 1845:

“The gentiles (sic) have rejected the Gospel; they have killed the Prophets and those who have not taken an active part in the murder all rejoice in it, and that is saying that they are willing the blood of the prophets should be shed. The gentiles (sic) have rejected the Gospel [And] we will sweep them out of existence.”

Council of 50 Minutes, 300

 

Treason has ever been deemed the highest crime which can be committed in civil society and in the past, has been visited with the deepest public resentment and the greatest of penalties – death.

Were Smith’s actions treasonous? Black’s Law Dictionary: defines treason as “the offense of attempting to overthrow the state to which one owes allegiance, either by making war against the state or by materially supporting its enemies.”

Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution reads:

“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

Nonetheless, had Smith not been killed in the gunfight at Cartage jail, I think, with good representation, he would not unlikely have been convicted of treason. Treason is a very high bar, ‘levying war against them.’ 

But the Jig was certainly up for Joseph Smith and his stupid order to destroy the Expositorand call out the Nauvoo Legion was serious stuff. Even more damaging was the public exposure of Smith’s plural marriages which would have been very upsetting to many of the good citizens of his community; especially since teenage girls, some as young as 14 as well as married women were among his ‘brides,’

Had he not been executed by his neighbors, I suspect this time he would have spent a considerable amount of time in the penitentiary.

It is perhaps telling that I have been unable to find any apologists having commented on Smith’s accusations of treason. Content to believe that he was a lamb being led to the slaughter. Smith was far from an innocent victim of religious bigotry and to compare his death to that of the Savior is obscene. 

yelloww

This is the second time that FairMormon has accused me of ‘propaganda.” Sadly the nameless individual penning their apology is ignorant as to what propaganda is.

Therefore I will take an aside and not just explain what propaganda is but also provide evidence that the Mormon Church is one of the most accomplished practitioner of it since the days of another Joseph named Goebbels.

 

Propaganda and Undue Influence in the LDS Church

 

Dr. Joseph Goebbels was the Propaganda Minister for Hitler’s Third Reich. An evil genius, he is still goebbelsrecognized today as the master of propaganda largely because his principles on the subject were tested, perfected, and practiced on millions of Germans during the Second World War.

His work as a propagandist largely facilitated Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. From then until his death, one day after Hitler’s, Goebbels used all media and communication and every level of education to further Nazi propagandistic aims. He was successful in instilling in the German people the belief that their leader was a veritable god and that the destiny of the German people was to the rule the world.

The following are the four essential principles that Goebbels’ formulated:

Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda

1. Avoid abstract ideas – appeal to the emotions.

2. Constantly repeat just a few ideas. ‘The Big Lie.’

3. Give only one side of the argument.

4. Pick out one special “enemy” for special vilification and constantly criticize your opponents.

 

Let’s examine each of the above relative to my writing as well as the Mormon Church’s raison d’etre:

1. Avoid Abstract Ideas – Appeal to the Emotions.

I would suggest that contrary to FairMormon’s accusation, I have confronted what are often conjectural Mormon claims with specific and concrete facts. I provided the opinions of both Mormon and Non-Mormon archaeologists. I provided specific examples of Biblical archaeological finds. I provided detailed references. To be entirely fair-minded I even discussed the questionable evidence of the ‘Nahom’ stone or alter and I did not make an emotional appeal to the reader.

Let’s examine the Mormon Church’s use of this principle of propaganda.

The Mormon theology is anything but abstract. Its essence can be summed up in a few sentences:

Jesus Christ is the Savior of this world and the Son of God, both He and His Father were once men. Christ’s Atonement allows mankind to be saved from their sins and return to live with God and their families forever after they do all they can do to earn their reward, and yes, even becoming gods themselves.

The Mormon Church is a restoration of Christ’s original Church as allegedly as it was organized in the Savior’s day.

Specific ordinances performed in the temple are also essential to salvation as is paying a full tithe to the Mormon church.

There is no Nicene or Apostle’s Creed; there is no Catechism, no complicated and detailed Westminster Confession of Faith.

But emotion is at the core of Mormonism. Every convert is given Moroni’s promise, read the book and look for that feeling, that burning in the bosom to confirm that it is not false.

Investigators and new members are the objects of “Love Bombing.” This term, if you are not familiar with it, is where a group consciously and purposely applies friendliness, acceptance, and ego-stroking to win people over to their organization or philosophy. It fits well ‘with every member a missionary’ but lacks sincerity and provides members with another box to check off on their road to Godhood, like doing your home teaching.

Thomas Monson, liked to tell a story about how when visiting a Latin America ward, he noticed that some members were wearing a white carnation. He asked the Bishop what was the meaning and was told that “We give our investigators and new members, a white carnation so the members will know that these are they that we must fellowship (until the next general conference).”

I wonder how they were treated after the general conference when the members were no longer under any compulsion to give them the time of day?

Joseph Smith and his successors realized that we are emotional beings more than we are rational beings.

Fast and testimony’ meetings are all about giving a free reign to emotion. The carefully crafted touching general conference talks read in somber tones from the teleprompters in an exquisitely controlled subdued environment push all the right emotive buttons.

“Epistemology,” is the way we come to know and understand things. The Bible encourages the believer to use reason along with faith. For instance, Isaiah 1:18 tell us that the Lord invites us to “reason together” with Him. Mormons see reason as almost detriment to true faith. If anything a threat to it. Converts who have doubts are often told that they are having difficulty in accepting Mormonism because they are using “man’s reasoning.”

What other reasoning might we use?

Faced with overwhelming, compelling evidence assailing the Church’s trust claims, whether it be the absence of archaeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon; DNA evidence showing the true origin of the aboriginal peoples of the Americas; or Joseph Smith’s immoral, dishonest and criminal behavior; Mormons will always retreat to their “feelings” that the Church is true.

2. Constantly repeat just a few ideas. ‘The Big Lie.’ Anyone who has ever attended a Mormon ‘fast and testimony’ meeting will hear almost every testifier say, ‘I know the Church is true, I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, I know president (fill in the current president) is a prophet of God today.’

Little children before they know their alphabet will have their well-meaning mothers whisper those words in their ears as they stand on their little ‘tip-toes‘ to reach the microphone.

It’s the big lie just as Goebbels preached it. Hitler himself said in ‘Mein Kampf‘ that through its constant repetition, eventually, the masses will come to believe no one “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

With the big lie, there is always an absolute believability. The masses are still more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than intellectually or logically; in the nascent simplicity of their minds, they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, as they often tell little lies in small matters themselves.

We also have the likes of Dallin Oaks saying things like,“We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it.”

What better example of Goebbels gospel could one find?

3. Give Only One Side of the Argument

“Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book. They may find what they are looking for, but the fact is the history of the church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley

Hinckley’s avowal, ignores the fact that members presenting ‘the other side of the story’ have been summarily excommunicated. Clearly this statement does not comport with the Mormon reality and it never has. From the days of Joseph Smith thousands have lost their membership from William Law to Kate Kelly, some well-known most not, for voicing an alternative view.

Some of the church’s defensiveness is understandable, in the 19th-century church members, were driven from state to state, for many reasons, but they were often victims of religious discrimination and hatred.

That being said, the Church has always carefully controlled the information it makes  available to their members let alone the outside world.

It is ironic that Hinckley would mouth such a statement. He personally wrote checks to Mark Hofmann to acquire and secret away documents he believed were genuine and embarrassing to the Church.

Joseph Fielding Smith tore out the 1832 contradictory first rendition account of Joseph Smith’s ‘first vision’ from Smith’s letterbook and hid it in his safe for decades.

I grew up in the Church, I taught the gospel doctrine class, I served in various callings as a high priest, yet in all that time I never discovered from any Church source that Joseph Smith had at least 33 wives, some as young as 14 and many concurrently married to other men. I had never heard Joseph was a money-digger and tried for being a con man who used a magic stone found in a well to translate the Book of Mormon.

So regardless of what the Church says today, these things were hidden from the members.

Everything that appears in church publications is carefully correlated to ensure that one consistent and sanitized version of history is presented.

The school texts approved for Utah schools present a one-sided and sanitized version of Mormon history and Utah history in particular. The Mountain Meadows massacre, one of the greatest atrocities in American history is barely mentioned.

In similitude to the academic world of Nazi Germany, professors at BYU and other Church institutions, as part of their employment contract, must agree not to teach or discuss anything in opposition to the official teachings and policies of the LDS Church. Any violation can and often has led to the termination of their employment.

I would contend that the Church always has and continues to adhere to Goebbels second principle of propaganda – giving only one side of the argument, one side of the story.

 

4. Pick out One Special “Enemy” for Special Vilification and Continuously Criticize Your Opponents

While the target keeps moving, there has always been a Mormon opponent deserving of deep criticism. In Joseph and Brigham day, it was the Gentiles (All viewed as members of the church of the devil), and, of course, the state and federal governments.

Since the days of the ERA to the present, the women’s rights movement has been on the receiving end of criticism, and recently the LGBTQ community has become the Church’s whipping boy. In August 2018 the Mormon church sent an email to the LDS members in Utah directing them to vote in opposition to the proposition legalizing the sale marijuana in that state.

One must wonder how the church can keep it’s tax-deductibility with their direct involvement in prop 8 and this latest political cause.

For Hitler it was the Jews, for the first 148 years of the LDS Church, it was Blacks.

The racist statements of the Mormon Prophets and Apostles from Brigham Young’s time until the Church’s politically driven about-face in 1978 have been singularly cruel and hateful.

“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”

Brigham Young, ‘prophet, seer, and revelator’ shared his view of our African American brothers and sisters:

“You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is bestowed upon humanity. The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race — that they should be the “servant of servants;” and they will be, until that curse is removed.”

Brigham Young, President and second ‘Prophet.’
of the Mormon Church, 1844-1877
Quotation from Journal of Discourses

“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God is death on the spot. This will always be so.”

Brigham Young, President and second ‘Prophet.’
of the Mormon Church, 1863,
Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p. 110.

“Not only was Cain called to suffer, but because of his wickedness, he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was placed upon him, and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures…. they have been made to feel their inferiority and have been separated from the rest of mankind from the beginning.”

Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith,
The Way to Perfection, p. 101, 1935

During the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Mormon apostles and other leaders continued to preach racist and discriminatory Mormon doctrines affecting persons of color.

Bruce R. McConkie taught that,“Negroes are not equal with other races” in spiritual matters and that this is God’s law, not man’s. Mark E. Petersen proclaimed that “people are born black because of their inadequate performance in the pre-existence. “

McConkie didn’t make his hurtful racist statement back in the 1830s, but at a time when men and women of good will in this country were marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. seeking equal human rights for ALL of God’s children. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, even human secularist leaders spoke up, but not Mormons.

Incidentally, when McConkie heard of the ‘revelation’ ending the ban, he wrote,“Forget everything that I have said.” Now there is a man with spine!

Bruce R. McConkie, “The New Revelation,” Priesthood, p. 132

While McConkie was a fool and a coward, I am actually with him here and would recommend forgetting anything this guy ever said about anything!

And sadly, it was not just LDS leaders whose silence was deafening but also the Mormon rank and file, yet we know that the connection between religion, civil rights, and social justice found within “local people of faith” who do most of the actual work of the civil rights movement.

I regret the several derogatory terms of racial bigotry and hatred expressed in the following direct quotes by the ‘Prophets’ and ‘Apostles’ of the Mormon Church, but it is essential to show the level of intense racism, hatred, and the abhorrent demeanor of, the leadership of this relatively young church.

Former Mormon Bishop, Lee B. Baker has assembled, derogatory terms describing African Americans used by the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in official publications, scriptures, doctrine, and training for decades:

Nigger” (89 times), “Darky” (15 times), “Sambo” (25 times) and “Skin of Blackness” (110 times).

Mormonism, A Life Under False Pretenses, Lee B. Baker

These are the men who purport to commune with Jehovah.

Today homosexuals have replaced Blacks as enemy number one.

It is interesting to me that in 1977 roughly the same time as the Church relinquished its ban on Blacks in the priesthood, the Church began a stealthful campaign against LGBTQ Americans. That was the year when Utah became the second state in the country to ban gay marriage. The Church did not stop there they continued to lead anti-LGBTQ campaigns in at least 27 states over the next four decades.

It seems as well that the Mormon Church would rather let hate crimes go unprosecuted than let gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender people get extra protection under the law.

The church came out against a hate-crime bill, authored by a Mormon Republican, no less. The bill, SB-107, would have defined a hate crime in Utah as a criminal offense committed because of an individual’s“ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation.”

But the church argued that the bill would upset the “balance” Church leaders had called for. With the considerable pressure, the church brought to bear, Utah rejected bill SB-107 and passed limited hate-crime legislation removing all protected classes.

Many Mormons, as well as non-Mormons, view the recent harsh administrative policies devastating the lives of many LGBTQ members sadly with many tragic results as un-Christlike.

This new policy calls for mandatory church discipline for LGBTQ individuals married to those of the same gender. It also bars the children of LGBTQ parents from baptism and other saving ordinances until they are 18 years of age, and then, in a rule that would have fit well within the ‘Nuremburg Laws’ of Nazi Germany – only if they openly disavow their parents’ relationship.

If the church chooses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, they have every ‘legal’ right at present to do so. But I have a problem with the children of gay or lesbian parents also being barred from membership in the church in the face of our Lord’s admonition to, “suffer the children to come unto me and forbid them not.

Wendy Montgomery, a co-founder of the Mama Dragons, a group of Mormon mothers with gay children, reported that she had been told 32 young LGBTQ Mormons have recently died by their hand.

While the families who have suffered these great losses requested privacy, given the tragedy of suicide and the alarm this report has raised in the LDS LGBTQ community, the Deseret News asked experts for insight and solutions. These experts explained that it’s all about support. Parents, friends and religious congregations could help prevent suicides by thinking carefully about what they say and do and by welcoming, accepting and supporting LGBTQ people.

The Utah Attorney General has commented that statistics show that“… Suicide is the number one cause of death of Utah children ages 10-17.”

This comes as no surprise when more LGBTQ youth find themselves disenfranchised even disowned by zealous religious parents, who now feel more compelled than ever to choose between their child and their church.

Many active church members, gay and straight, young and old, see this uncharitable, unkind and unloving move for what it is: another unabashed rejection of LGBTQ members.

And the cost in human terms is great. The evidentiary research was done by the Family Acceptance Project which tells us that children who experience high levels of rejection are:

More than eight times as likely to attempt suicide
Nearly six times as likely to report high levels of depression
More than three times as likely to use illegal drugs
More than three times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and STIs

Hateful rhetoric has profound costs. Political science professor Benjamin Knoll discusses the link between Mormonism and teen suicide in his paper,“Youth Suicide Rates and Mormon Religious Context: An Additional Empirical Analysis,”

Knoll reports that youth in the 15-19 age group who live in states with heavy Mormon populations are at higher risk for suicide. As Knoll put it,“These are objectively small numbers, but it means that (again, controlling for other factors) youth suicides are twice as high in states with the highest levels of Mormon residents compared to states with the lowest levels of Mormon residents.”

This study shows definitively that youth who live in areas with higher Mormon populations are at a greater risk for suicide.

Boyd K. Packer, who called himself an Apostle of Jesus Christproudly repeated the story of his conversation with a young missionary in the field:

“While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done.

After patient encouragement, he blurted out, ‘I hit my companion.’

‘Oh, is that all,’ I said in great relief.

 ‘But I floored him,” he said.

After learning a little more [his companion was gay], my response was

‘Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t have been well for [me] a General Authority to solve the problem that way.’’

What a Christ-like solution, I am sure that that young gay man’s parents would appreciate how their son was treated while trying to do his best for his church.

“By their fruits you will know them.”

 

 

Chapter 6

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

wolf

“And if thou say in thine heart, how shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follows not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”Deuteronomy 18:21-22

A prophet then, to put it crudely, is a mouthpiece for God, who is perfect and never wrong.

Joseph did declare a number of prophecies that unquestionable came to fruition including:

  • The Saints will gather in one place (Utah). – D&C 29:8
  • During the captivity in Liberty Jail, no one’s lives would be taken – Hearsay but nevertheless attributed to Smith.
  • Smith will not return to Missouri – History of the Church 5:216.
  • Stephen A. Douglas to run for president – History of the Church 5:394.
  • Stakes to be established in Boston and New York – History of the Church 6:319.
  • Orrin Porter Rockwell protected from enemies if he doesn’t cut his hair – “Rockwell’s colorful history recounted”, Deseret News (He did cut his hair).
  • Richards will not have a hole in his garment – History of the Church 6:619.
  • Joseph and Hyrum Smith to die if re-captured – History of the Church 6:546.
  • Dan Jones to serve a mission to Wales – History of the Church 6:601.
  • The Saints would escape their enemies within five years History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 225. By 1849.
  • The Escape of Stephen Markham – History of the Church Volume 3, p. 316.

There was also a couple of Joseph’s prophesies that I did not include as there is evidence of fraud. The Rocky Mountain Prophesy for example where it appears that the prophecy had been added after the event as well as several self-fulfilling prophesies, for example, that Jesus would appear in the temple where the only witnesses to the event were Smith and his ‘scribe.’ Likewise Smith’s prophesy that,  ‘good and evil would be spoken of him among all nations, kindreds, and tongues.’ which was not recorded until many years after this ‘first vision’ or the founding of the church. At a time when people were certainly speaking evil of him.

– Joseph Smith History 1:33.

By my count, Smith uttered eleven accurate prophesies several over which Smith had at least some control – not returning to Missouri, Jones serving a mission in Wales to which he was called, etc.

In the other much longer column, I have listed the false or failed prophesies of Joseph Smith, which include:

The coming of the Lord

“Joseph Smith then stated that the meeting had been called, because God had commanded it; and it was made known to him by vision and by the Holy Spirit. . .. it was the will of God that they should be ordained to the ministry and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, for the coming of the Lord, which was nigh – even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.” 1

This prophecy was spoken by Joseph Smith in 1835 and recorded by Oliver Cowdery. The fifty-six years were passed by 1891.

David W. Patten to go on a mission

“Verily, thus saith the Lord: It is wisdom in my servant David W. Patten, that he settle up all his business as soon as he possibly can, and make a disposition of his merchandise, that he may perform a mission unto me next spring, in company with others, even twelve including himself, to testify of my name and bear glad tidings unto the world.“ 2

This prophecy was made on April 17, 1838. David Patten died in October of 1838 and thus never served a mission.

The United States government to be overthrown in a few years

“I prophecy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women, and children, and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished.” 3

Joseph Smith made this prophecy on May 6, 1843. There was no redress, and the United States, by all accounts, still endures.

Congress to be broken up as a government

“While discussing the petition to Congress, I prophesied, by virtue of the holy Priesthood vested in me, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that, if Congresswill not hear our petition and grant us protection, they shall be broken up as a government, and God shall damn them, and there shall be nothing left of them – not even a grease spot.” 4

Finding treasure in Salem, Massachusetts

“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.” 5

Hail, pestilence, famine & earthquake to
destroy the wicked

“And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country. The people of the Lord, those who have complied with the requirements of the new covenant, have already commenced gathering together to Zion, which is in the state of Missouri; therefore I declare unto you the warning which the Lord has commanded to declare unto this generation, remembering that the eyes of my Maker are upon me, and that to him I am accountable for every word I say, wishing nothing worse to my fellow-men than their eternal salvation; therefore, “Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come.” Repent ye, repent ye, and embrace the everlasting covenant and flee to Zion, before the overflowing scourge overtake you, for there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I have spoken, fulfilled.”

Temple to be built in Zion, Missouri

“A revelation of Jesus Christ unto his servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and six elders, as they united their hearts and lifted their voices on high. Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem. Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased. Verily, this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until a house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house. The Mormons were forced to flee Missouri due to persecution and a temple was never built on the “temple lot” in the lifetime of Joseph Smith or within his generation.” 8

Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, September 22 and 23, 1832.

Selling the copyright of the Book of Mormon

It is interesting to note that had Joseph Smith’s revelation (below) about selling the copyright of the Book of Mormon been true. Had Oliver Cowdrey, Joseph Knight, Hyram Page and Josiah Stowel been successful in their journey to Kingston, Ontario, Canada in 1830 to do so. None of the 3,913 changes made to the original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon may have been allowed by the new owners of the copyright – The Kingston Chronical, The Toronto Star or whoever!

“…it Pleaseth me that Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Knight HyramPage& Josiah Stowel shall do my work in this thing yea even in securing theCopyright & they shall do it with an eye single to my Glory that it may be the means of bringing souls unto me Salvation through mine only Be{gotten} Behold I am God I have spoken itWherefore I say unto you that ye shall goseeking me continually through mine only Be{tgotten} & if ye do this ye shall have my spirit to go with you & ye shall have an addition of all things which is expedient in me.amen& I grant unto my servent a privelige that he may sella copyrightthrough you speaking after the manner of men for the four Provinces if the People harden not their hearts against the enticeings of my spirit & my word for Behold it lieth in themselves to their condemnation{or} th{eir} salvation.” 9

When Hyram and Oliver returned from their failed mission to Kingston, Ontario and asked the prophet why his prophecy failed, they were told essentially, that some prophecies are from God, some are from man and some are from the devil.

I have some difficulty with this. That a prophet of God cannot discern when the Lord is talking to him and when it is the devil or when nobody is talking to him it is just his own imaginings.

As well the revelation tells us that Joseph was to be the major benefactor of the $ 8,000.00 or so they hoped to receive in exchange for the copyright but also that his emissaries were to receive a share as well.

The fact that they have a financial interest in the success of the Book of Mormon must also cast some doubt on their veracity as witnesses to it.

Utter abolishment of New York and Boston

D&C 84:114. It, of course, did not happen making this another false prophecy.

That the United Order will be everlasting, “immutable and unchangeable” to benefit the church until Jesus comes

D&C 104:1 The United Order, Joseph Smith prophesied would be “everlasting”, and “immutable and unchangeable.” That it would ‘benefit the church until Jesus comes.’ Nevertheless, LDS history reveals that this “everlasting” order was soon disbanded after because it failed. A false prophecy.

That we will see a victory in Missouri

D&C 105:13 Speaking through Smith, God says regarding Missouri: “I will fight your battles … the destroyer I have sent forth to destroy and lay waste mine enemies; and not many years hence they shall not be left to pollute mine heritage, and to blaspheme my name upon the lands which I have consecrated for the gathering together of my saints”. This did not happen, another false prophecy.

That the saints enemies will be destroyed,

The History of the Church 1:455. If the Saints were not successful in their legal action against their enemies in Missouri, God would avenge them and all their adversaries would be destroyed. The Saints were unsuccessful yet their adversaries were not destroyed.A false prophecy.

The Relief Society. “I prophecy that before ten years shall roll around, the queens of the Earth shall come and pay their respects to this society.”

Dennis Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, p. 634. The ten years however passed and no queens! Another false prophecy.

That the Nauvoo House would be the Smiths forever

D&C107:17-18. “Let it [Nauvoo House], be built unto my name…and let my servant Joseph and his house have place therein, from generation to generation.” It was not. A false prophecy.

That the Lamanites will be converted

D&C 3.16-20. For a century and a half, the LDS missionaries have been trying to convert their “Lamanite brothers and sisters with little success. The vast majority of Indians today are not Mormon, and they still are covered with the ‘dark and loathsome ‘skin that the Book of Mormon says they were cursed with and few of those who have joined the LDS church have become “white and delightsome” as they were promised. Another false prophecy.

That the Earth shall shake and reel as a drunken man

D&C 88:87 Smith prophesized that “…not many days hence the earth shall tremble and reel as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face…and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from a fig tree.”It never did. False prophecy.

That Josephs son David would become the “church president and king over Israel”

D Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy – Joseph’s son did not become presidentof the Church. Sadly David died in 1904 at the age of 60 after having spent 27 years in an insane asylum.

That Smith will triumph over his foes

D&C 121. Not only did Joseph Smith not triumph over his enemies, but they put him to death by them. A false prophesy.

That George Miller was a man of great integrity

124:2-21. In D&C Section 141 Smith declared a man named George Miller was a man ‘without guile’ who could be trusted, and that no man should ‘despise my servant George,’ for he shall honor me. George Miller was excommunicated seven years later.

That all nations would bow down to the Mormon Gospel

D&C 49.9-10 “Wherefore, I say unto you that I have sent unto you mine everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning. And that which I have promised I have so fulfilled, and the nations of the earth shall bow to it; and, if not of themselves, they shall come down, for that which is now exalted of itself shall be laid low of power.” We are yet to see any nation of the world “bow” to the principles of the Mormon gospel, lo it has been almost 187 years as of this writing, since the prophecy was given.

That the saints are to gather in Independence and build a temple

D&C 84 1 “A revelation of Jesus Christ unto his servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and six elders, as they united their hearts and lifted their voices on high.

3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

5
For verily this generation shall not all pass away until a house shall be built unto the Lord…”

The temple was not built in ‘that generation.’ Indeed, the Mormons were driven out of Missouri in 1839. The temple has yet to be built, making this another false prophecy.

Army to redeem Zion Independence, Missouri

D&C 103 The mission was unsuccessful. Another false prophecy.

New gathering place and temple in Far West

D&C 115. “Therefore, I command you to build a house unto me, for the gathering together of my saints… And let the beginning be made on the fourth day of July next; and from that time forth let my people labor diligently to build a house unto my name; And in one year from this day let them re-commence laying the foundation of my house.” To this day all that’s on this lot of land are markersindicating a cornerstone of where the temple should be built. Yet another false prophecy.

Zion cannot fall

D&C 97.19-20 prophesies: “Surely, Zion is the city of our God, and surely Zion cannot fall, neither be moved out of her place, for God is there and the hand of the Lord is there; And he hath sworn by the power of his might to be her salvation…”

Zion did fall and the Mormons were driven out of Independence, MO in 1838 and 1839.

The move to Jackson County

In a letter to the High Council, Joseph Smith declared, “…I shall now proceed to give you such counsel as the Spirit of the Lord may dictate…(you are to have the churches) use every effort to gather to those regions and locate themselves, to be in readiness to move into Jackson County in two years from the eleventh of September next, which is the appointed time for the redemption of Zion…”

The churches did not move into Jackson County on September 11, 1836. Nor was “Zion” redeemed at that time; as the Church history shows. This was a false prophecy.

W.W. PHELPS not to see death

Joseph Smith prophesied that ‘W.W. Phelps would not taste of death till Jesus came.’ Often both privately and publicly, Mr. Phelps boasted to the Saints of this amazing prophecy, given to him by revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith.” Phelps died March 7, 1872. Yet another false prophecy.

Kirtland “Anti-banking society

A false prophecy from the Latter-day Saint Messenger and Advocate, “This place must be built up, and will be built up, and every brother that will take hold and help secure these contracts [for land] shall be rich.”

To swallow up all other banks

In The Millennial Star, volume 19, p.343, Smith proclaimed that his Kirtland Anti-Banking Society was to “…swallow up all other banks.”Not only did the Bank not swallow up other banks but it failed costing many members and non-members their life savings. Smith was charged with bank fraud but fled the jurisdiction under cover of darkness. Certainly a false prophecy.

That “All nations would be involved in the American Civil War.”

“Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls; And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.

For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations,” 10

This is clearly another false prophecy since all nations did not get involved in the American Civil War.

As you can see, his false or failed prophesies far outnumbered his correct ones.

This is a problem my dear brothers and sisters for the Holy Bible tells us that if even one prophesy does not come true, he who is claiming to be a prophet is a false prophet.

“Therefore, 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, 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.
  1. That he made clear in his prophecy that he was speaking for the Lord.
  2. The prophecy failed to come true.

The many “prophesies,” I have listed were indisputably given by Joseph Smith. They are recorded in the “History of the Church,” and the “Doctrine and Covenants.”

Smith’s wording also clearly states that he spoke on behalf of God:

“… in the name of the LORD.”

“Verily, thus saith the Lord.”

“I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel.”

“in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“By the authority of Jesus Christ.”

“Behold I am God I have spoken it.”

Yea, the word of the Lord.”

Yet noneof these “prophesies,” came to fruition.

I think that the above examples of Joseph Smith’s failed prophecies must give us pause, but they all pale compared to the following.

While we cannot classify it as a prophecy as such, I would like you to note that when Joseph wrote the bulk of his JST of the King James Bible around 1833 he changed the proper age for circumcision to be performed from eight DAYS to eight YEARS.

JST, Genesis 17:11

The Church’s apologists would have you believe this is no big deal?

Let me tell you, it is a, very, very big deal and this alone has driven many honest, thoughtful Latter-Day Saint from the church.

Think about it. God spoke to Abraham and covenanted that Abraham’s seed that they would be His people and He would be their God. And that the token of this holy covenant was circumcision at eight days.

10) This is my covenant, which ye shall keep
between me and you and thy seed after thee;
Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

11) And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your
foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant
betwixt me and you.

12) And he that is eight days old shall be
circumcised among you, every man child in your
generations, he that is born in the house, or
bought with money of any stranger, which is
not of thy seed.

But in 1833 Joseph Smith with an arrogant stroke of his quill pen changes it from eight days to eight years.

The importance and consequence of this one-word change are earth-shattering. This means that not just did Abraham get it wrong but so did David and Daniel and Isaiah, tens of millions of Jews and most significant of all, the Lord Jesus Christ who were all circumcised at eight days, according to the covenant.

According to Joseph Smith, none of them were right. No, God allowed all his Old Testament prophets and His Only-begotten and beloved Son to err only to show the truth to a latter-day treasure seeking ‘prophet’ 3,000 years later.

In my mind, with the possible exception of Smith’s creation of polygamy to satisfy his lust and libido this is Joseph Smith greatest error, and may God forgive him for it.

Knowing there would be false prophets in the latter days, Jesus said,“take heed that no man deceives you.”

Matthew 24:24 also warned, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect”.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.”

Was Jeremiah speaking of the latter days when he said “…They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.”

Jeremiah 14:14

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of theLord.”

Jeremiah 23:16

The Lord warns us in 2 James verses 1 and 3, “False prophets … will exploit you with stories they have made up.” 

Incidentally and for comparison, the Holy Bible including some 300 prophecies and implications about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesuswith NO prophetic failures.

A few of the glorious prophecies proving the divine nature of that book:

  • The Succession of Great World Kingdoms (Daniel 2:37-42). Even critics have to agree that Daniel foretold the governments in their order – Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.
  • Cyrus King of Persia (Isaiah 44:28-45:1). Since Isaiah lived between about 740 and 690 BC and Cyrus did not make his proclamation for Israel to return from exile until about 536 BC.
  • The Closing of the Golden Gate (Ezekiel 44:2-3). The Golden Gate is the eastern gate of Jerusalem, through which Christ made his triumphal entry on Palm Sunday before the crucifixion (Matthew 21). In 1543 Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent closed the gate and walled it up, not knowing he was fulfilling prophecy.
  • Israel to be returned to its land a second time(Isaiah 11:11-12). The first time was when God reclaimed His people from Egypt through the Exodus; the second time was from the Babylonian Exile (Isaiah 51:9-11).
  • The Destruction of Tyre (Ezekiel 26:3-14). The prophecy was partly fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city and left it in ruins. Alexander the Great later finished the job.
  • The Doom of Edom (Petra) (Jeremiah 49:15-17). Given the virtually impregnable nature of the ancient city carved out of rock and protected by a narrow passageway, this was an incredible prediction. Yet, in 636 AD it was conquered by Muslims and today stands deserted.
  • And of course, the destruction of Jerusalem (Mark 13:1-2). Fulfilled literally when the Romans completely destroyed Jerusalem and the temple buildings.

Studies of psychics’ and fortune tellers show they are correct about 10% of the time. The success rate of their predictions can almost always be attributed to chance and a general knowledge of the ‘subjects’ circumstances.

Joseph Smith’s does somewhat better than the average fortune teller, by my calculation his ‘prophesies’ were correct about one third of the time. But remember the Lord tells us that if someone professing to be a prophet of God gets it wrong even one time, he is a false prophet. Smith got it wrong a lot more than one time. He got it wrong many many more times than than he got it right.

Chapter References

1 (History of the Church, Vol. 2, page 182).

2 (Doctrine & Covenants 114:1)

3  History of the Church, Vol. 5, page 394).

4 “Millennial Star, Vol. 22, p. 455. See also History of the Church), vol. 6, p. 116,

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

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

7 History of the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 315-316

8 HC 1:286-295.

9 The Joseph Smith Papers: The Revelations and Translations Series

10 (Doctrine and Covenants 87:1-3).

11 Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy

FairMormons Comments on Joseph Smiths
False Prophesies

The 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 othernations, 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 (sic) 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.”

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 “enter 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.”

They were NOT – False Prophecy.

ANOTHER APOLOGY BY FAIRMORMON

“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 notbe 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-man’s-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.

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.

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….’

The prophecy failed to come true.

It has been more than 150 years since Smith uttered this vengeful prophecy and our great country and its government still stand.

I maintain this is a false prophecy.

 

FAIRMORMON COMMENT ON FINDING TREASURE IN SALEM

“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 apparentlymade 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.” 6

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon provides no evidence that “The trip was apparently made on their own initiative and was not commanded by the Lord,” 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

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

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

“I, the Lord your God…”

  1. The prophecy failed to come

The treasure 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].


FAIRMORMON COMMENT ON THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE IN INDEPENDENCE

“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 till (sic) 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

I don’t feel Joseph was speaking about all time here, but this argument is at leastreasonable.

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

redd

 

Chapter 7

How can one reconcile Joseph Smith’s various and differing first vision accounts; and the fact that no one, including Joseph Smith’s family members or the Saints, had ever heard about the ‘First Vision’ for twelve to twenty-two years after he had said it occurred?

grove

“Our whole strength rests on the validity of that [First] vision. It either occurred, or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens.”

Gordon B. Hinckley,
The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith

I agree with President Hinckley concerning the significance of the first vision. It answers many questions about God and His Divine personality and his interest in the welfare of His sons and daughters.

But there are issues with this purported event. Why are there various and differing first vision accounts? Considering the momentous nature of this event why is it that no one – including Joseph Smith’s family members or the Saints – had ever heard about the First Vision for twelve to twenty-two years after he said it occurred? Even in the “History of the Church,” written by Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith in 1834, no mention was made of it.

The official 1838 account of this first vision found in Mormon Scripture was not recorded by Joseph Smith until 1838, 18 years after the event. Before this time, but still, more than 12 years after this event supposedly took place, other accounts of Joseph’s visionary experience were recorded. These earlier accounts contained significant differences from the official first vision account and often conflict with it.

1832 account, Sins forgiven, saw Jesus Christ, told all churches wrong.

The following is the earliest and first known recounting of the “First Vision.” It was written by Joseph Smith in his journal.

“…therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and to obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in attitude of calling upon the Lorda piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucified (sic) for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life the world lieth in sin and at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside (sic) from the gospel and keep not commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to thir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Ap[o]stles.behold and lo I come quickly as it [is?] written of me in the cloud in the glory of my Father.”1

1834 account – Two years later another version was given to aJewish Minister,’ in this rendition, Joseph’s sins were forgiven. He saw personages, a pillar of fire, and hosts of angels.

“…being wrought up in my mind, respecting the subject of religion and looking at the different systems taught the children of men, I knew not who was right or who was wrong and I considered it of the first importance that I should be right, in matters that involve eternal consequ[e]nces; being thus perplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove and bow[e]d down before the Lord … I called upon the Lord for the first time, in the place above stated or in other words I made a fruitless attempt to p[r]ay … I called on the Lord in mightly (sic) prayer, a pillar of fire appeared above my head, it presently rested down upon me, and filled me with Joy unspeakable, a personage appeard (sic) in the midst of this pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testified unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication; When I was about 17 years old I saw another vision of angels in the night season after I had retired to bed …”2

1835 account, In this version his sins were again forgiven, he saw Jesus Christ, and was told all churches were wrong.

“…I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me, strove again to pray, but could not, the noise of walking seemed to draw nearer, I sprung up on my feet, and and looked around, but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking, I kneeled again my mouth was opened and my toung liberated, and I called on the Lord in mighty prayer, a pillar of fire appeared above my head, it presently rested down upon my head, and filled me with joy unspeakable, a personage appeard (sic) in the midst, of this pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard (sic) like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testifyed (sic) unto me that Jesus Christ is the son of God; I was about 14. years old when I received this first communication;” 3

1834 – 1835 account– With Oliver Cowdery’s help, A revival stirred in him a desire to know that God existed. This one at age 17, he was in his bedroom when he had a vision of an angel, again sins were forgiven. He was told that the Lord would do a work through him and he was told about gold plates and their location.

“… On the evening of the 21st of September, 1823, previous to retiring to rest, our brother’s mind was unusually wrought up on the subject which had so long agitated his mind … all he desired was to be prepared in heart to commune with some kind of messenger who could communicate to him the desired information of his acceptance with God. “… While continuing in prayer for a manifestation in some way that his sins were forgiven; endeavoring to exercise faith in the scriptures, on a sudden a light like that of day, only of a purer and far more glorious appearance and brightness burst into the room … It is no easy task to describe the appearance of a messenger from the skies … But it may be well to relate the particulars as far as given — The stature of this personage was a little above the common size of men in this age; his garment was perfectly white, and had the appearance of being without seam. Though fear was banished from his heart, yet his surprise was no less when he heard him declare himself to be a messenger sent by commandment of the Lord, to deliver a special message, and to witness to him that his sins were forgiven, and that his prayers were heard;” 4

1838 account, Joseph said his object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the churches was right. This contradicts his 1832 rendition in which he says it was to seek forgiveness for his sins:

“After I had retired into the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God, I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was upon by some power which entirely overcame me and such astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized (sic) upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction, not to an imaginary ruin but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world who had such a marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being. Just at this moment of great alarm I saw a pillar light exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun, which descended gracefully gradually untill it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two personages (whose brightness and glory defy all description) standing above me in the air. One of spake unto me calling me by name and said (pointing to the other) “This is my beloved Son, Hear him.”

My object in going to enquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner therefore did I get possession of myself so as to be able to speak, than I asked the personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right, (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong, and the Personage who addressed me said that all their Creeds were an abomination in his sight, that those professors were all corrupt, that “they draw near to me to with their lips but their hearts are far from me, They teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of Godliness but they deny the power thereof. He again forbade me to join with any of them and many other thing[s] did he say unto me which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again I found myself lying on back looking up into Heaven.”

This official version, now part of Mormon Scripture in the Pearl of Great Price, was written in 1838, but not published until 1842.

His motives: for seeking divine help – Bible reading and conviction of sins, a revival, a desire to know if God exists, wanting to know which church was true.

Who appears:– a spirit, an angel, two angels, host of angels, Jesus, the Father and the Son.

The Exciting Revival:Joseph’s dating of the revival that prompts his actions is wrong. The historical record shows that there was no revival in Palmyra in 1820. There was one in 1817, and there was another in 1824.

If there is one of Smith’s renditions of the ‘First Vision’ that best fits the historical record, it is the 1832 account. Why?

His age:The 1832 account states Joseph was 15 years old when he had the vision in 1821 while the other reports state he was 14 years old as well as 17 years old in 1820.

Because there was no mention of any religious revival. That actually occurred in 1824, not in 1820. Secondly, there was no mention of persecution which obviously would also be incorrect as no one was told of the vision, including his family for at least twelve years.

There was also no injunction to not join any other church – family member subsequently joined the Presbyterian Church, and Joseph himself tried to join the Methodists. Also, there was no call to the holy work;” and Jesus alone appears to Joseph, reflecting that at the time Smith believed that God and Christ were the same being—and only one God appears to him.

References

1Joseph Smith’s History, Summer 1832, Joseph Smith Letterbook 1, pp.2,3
in the handwriting of Joseph Smith

2Joseph Smith’s History, November 9, 1835, Joseph Smith Letterbook

3 Joseph Smith’s History, November 1835

4Joseph Smith’s History, November 1835

 

This concludes Section One. Please go to Section Two to continue….