This is a summation and not a conclusion.
The reader can reach their own conclusions based on the material and evidence I have presented as well as the apologists refutations and alternative explanations.
I have referred to the many questions I have asked in this work as interrogatories.
Interrogatories are designed to elicit information and evidence preparatory to the presentation before a court or tribunal. That was the construct I employed, with you being the judge.
As I said I would at the beginning, I have given voice to the Mormon apologists at FairMormon on each of my interrogatories. I think it must be apparent however to anyone familiar with apologists in general or in other areas that the cadre of individuals at FairMormon are bad apologists.
Not only do these apologists confuse reasonable certainty with unreasonable doubt, they act as if they have never heard of Occam’s Razor – that the answer having the fewest assumptions and inconsistencies, and requiring the least elaboration is most likely to be correct. Their arguments are often fallacious and do not lead logically to their desired conclusions.
Even worse, they knowingly present arguments that are false and contradictory, designed solely to prevent the reader from discovering the truth about the issue.
Having said that, let me briefly summarize each of the points of examination and my belief as to what a reasonable person would conclude solely based on the material and arguments I and Mormon apologists have presented herein:
The Book of Mormon
Archeological or Linguistic Evidence Showing the Authenticity of the Book of Mormon
I believe a reasonable person would conclude that there is no persuasive evidence that the peoples and cultures outlined in the Book of Mormon ever existed. It is my considered opinion that no reasonable person could accept that during the 2600 years that the Jaredites, Nephites, and Lamanites supposedly occupied the Americas, they could have done so without leaving so much as a helmet, a tool, any weapons of war or skeletal remains. As well, the fact that there are no inscriptions in either Hebrew or ‘Reformed Egyptian’ demolishes the Mormon apologists arguments .
Anachronisms in the Book of Mormon
The numerous anachronisms in the Book of Mormon point to the book being a work of 19th Century fiction written by an individual or individuals largely ignorant of pre-Columbian America. Absent any convincing explanation for the myriad anachronism contained in the Book of Mormon the apologists have resorted to absurd rationalizations as typified by the suggestion that the horses spoken of were deer or tabirs.
DNA Evidence Supporting the Book of Mormon Story
The overwhelming evidence is that the native peoples of North and South America have Asian DNA markers. Hebrew, Semitic, or Middle Eastern DNA that would support the Book of Mormon story are completely absent.
Book of Mormon Plagiarism
The Book of Mormon shows considerable evidence of widespread plagiarism from numerous sources including the KJV of the Bible as well as other contemporary works of fiction. Further, the nature of the plagiarism is often anachronistic.
The Dearth of Jewish Customs in the Book of Mormon
Unlike the Bible, there is no mention of Passover, Ark of the Covenant, Circumcision, Day of Atonement, or the House of the Lord in the Book of Mormon. There is a mention of the Year of Jubilee as the apologists assert, however it would seem reasonable that devout adherent Jews would speak of celebrating Passover, the commemoration so central to the Jewish faith.
How the Book of Mormon was Translated
Joseph never used the Gold Plates to translate the Book of Mormon; rather he utilized a rock he found in a well which he had previously used during his questionable treasure-hunting career. Putting his head in his hat, besides being bizarre, also begs the question why were the Gold Plates created and preserved for thousands of years just to be used as a prop? How would the church membership today respond to the current president sticking his head in his hat to determine policy or receive ‘revelation?’
The Most Correct Book in the World
There have been thousands of changes made to the Book of Mormon. Many of them substantive not just spelling and grammar as the apologists claim. The Book of Mormon might be more accurately labelled the most ‘corrected book in the world.’
Testimony of the Witnesses to the Book of Mormon
There is evidence that each of the three witnesses confessed at some point that they only saw the plates and angel by. “visions of the mind,” or “second sight;” Numerous statements by Whitmer and Harris make it clear that their experiences were much more subjective than the testimony statement written by Joseph Smith for their signature would suggest.
It could be argued that Oliver Cowdrey was in on the con if fraud was involved.
Martin Harris was by any standard a gullible and supersticious fool, and his words and actions make him an unreliable witness.
Nevertheless there is also compelling evidence that the three witnesses stated to their dying day that their testimony was true.
Jesus Born in Jerusalem
While a minor issue, yes, the Book of Mormon incorrectly states that Jesus was born at Jerusalem.
Smith’s Undue Influence on Women and Minor Children to Marry Him.
There is much evidence that Smith promised guarantees of eternal life to the families of the young girls he desired. As well there are reports that he suggested he would be killed if his targets did not comply with his wishes. I think any decent let alone reasonable person would find this unconscionable.
It is now acknowledged by the church that Smith ‘married’ many teenage girls, some as young as 14 years of age. The arguments by Mormon apologists that he did not have sexual relations with his child brides are also destroyed by the evidence.
A 37-year-old man marrying and having sexual relations with a 14-year-old child is beyond alarming and was not as Mormon apologists suggest a common occurrence in Smith’s day.
Polygamy and Polyandry
Likewise, Smith’s marriages to, and sexual relations with, women already married to other men is vile.
The evidence also shows that Smith ‘married’ Fanny Alger before his alleged revelation on plural marriage, making this ‘”dirty, nasty, filthy affair,‘ as Oliver Cowdrey described it as just that – an extra-marital adulterous sexual encounter.
Smith’s polygamy and polyandry are further unjustified by the fact that modern-day prophets including Gordon B. Hinckley have said that polygamy was not, and is not, doctrinal.
I think any reasonable person would conclude that these facts combined with Smith’s serial lying to his associates, followers, and wife about his polygamy throws a negative light on the nature of his character.
Restoration of the Priesthood
The fact that neither Joseph Smith nor Oliver Cowdery testified to church members, nor record anything about the appearances of “John the Baptist” or “Peter, James, and John” in any publications, until five years after the event purportedly took place, creates doubt about its occurrence. Likewise, the documented fact that Smith and Cowdery changed the wording of earlier revelations when they compiled the 1835 D&C, adding the appearances of John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John adds to the problem.
Mistranslation the Egyptian Papyri
It is well settled that the papyri are common funerary texts with no nexus to Abraham whatsoever.
Smith’s Numerous False Prophecies
Smith mouthed numerous false prophesies, including but not limited to, the coming of the Lord within 56 years, that the United States government would be overthrown and Congress broken up, that the Saints would find treasure in Salem, Massachusetts, that the copyright of the Book of Mormon would be sold in Canada, that the Saints enemies would be destroyed, that the Nauvoo House would be the Smith’s forever, that all nation would bow down to the Mormon gospel, that the Saints would gather in Independence and build a temple there, that W.W. Phelps would not see death until the coming of the Lord, that all nations would be involved in the American Civil War, and that the illegal Kirtland Anti-banking’ society would swallow up all other banks. A lot of misses for a prophet of God.
Differing First Vision Accounts
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 Joseph said it occurred is incriminatory.
As well, there are at least nine different accounts offered by Smith which differ substantially one from another. It appears too that as Joseph’s beliefs about the godhead shifted, the earlier versions that talked about only one Being also changed.
If Joseph had a vision of God and/or Jesus in 1820 why did he mention in 1823 that he prayed to know whether God existed?
Smith’s more precise detailed account many years later than the original vision is illogical and runs in the face of what we know about human memory.
Smith’s more elaborate accounts also correspond chronologically with his attempts to re-establish his authority with members of the church.
Smith’s Translation of the Kinderhook Plates
The fact that Smith made the following statement regarding this acknowledged hoax speaks to his abilities as a seer: “I have translated a portion of them, and they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth…”
Free Masonry and the LDS Endowment Ceremony
It is acknowledged by those in and out of the church that the LDS endowment ceremony was essentially copied from Free Masonry. The signs and tokens are identical. It has also been shown that Free Masonry does not date back to the time of Solomon extinguishing the argument of common source.
Joseph Smith’s Extensive Criminal History
The numerous criminal charges, many resulting in conviction, casts considerable doubt on the honesty and character of Joseph Smith:
March 1826 and June 1830, Disorderly Person; February 1837, Illegal Banking; June 1837, Conspiracy to Murder; January 1838, Banking Fraud; August 10, 1838, Threatening a Sitting Judge; Nov. 12, 1838, Treason; August 1842, again Conspiracy to Murder; June 6, 1843, Treason once again; May 1844 Perjury; May 1844, Fornication & Adultery; June 1844, Inciting a riot; and June 24, 1844, Treason once more.
Clearly there is quite a litany of serious problems with the Book of Mormon and the Joseph Smith story.
Is it possible that in the face of all these myriad difficulties and inconsistencies that the LDS Church is true?
Yes, it is.
But it is not just a matter of possibility, there are few things that are not possible. it is a matter of probability. What are the probabilities that in spite of the overwhelming evidence that the church’s narrative does not correspond with reality, that the Mormon church is nonetheless the, “one true church.”
Is it wrong to ask the questions that I have?
Not according to many leaders in the church that have given lip service to the diligent search for truth:
“If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”
J. Reuben Clark
“If a faith will not bear to be investigated: if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.”
George Albert Smith
“This book [“The Book of Mormon”] is entitled to the most thorough and impartial examination. Not only does it merit such consideration, it claims, even demands the same.”
James E. Talmage
But is this what the Mormon leadership really believes?
I think not.
Ask Jeremy Runnells or John Dehlin or Sam Young or Fawn Brody or Kate Kelly or Michael Quinn or Simon Southerton or Paul Tosano how accepting the Mormon Church is to those who question.
Elder Hugo Montoya of the Seventy is more reflective of Mormon reality. Montoya says that doubt, “can originate from “so-called friends” who are “asking hurtful questions.” It can be exacerbated by Internet information that is taken out of context. Most of all, though, it happens when we don’t close our ears sufficiently to the “father of lies” and “his sinister purpose…”
The best thing to do, he says, is simply to, “erase doubt from our minds.”
I am of the opinion that questioning, critical thinking, and yes, even doubt should be tolerated, not discouraged, or punished as it is now by the Mormon Church.
Truth Sounds Like Hate To Those Who Hate The Truth