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The Book of Mormon
What comes to mind when people think of Mormons? Many of us envision clean-cut young adults riding bicycles or knocking on doors. That’s because members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints between the ages of 19 to 25 are encouraged to go on a fulltime, two year mission. During this mission these men and women follow a rigid schedule, sharing
“…the most important message that can go out to the world today…”
this message includes accounts of Joseph Smith’s visions and heavenly visitations leading up to the discovery of the Book of Mormon.
Book of Mormon Story:
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claimed that in 1823 he experienced a heavenly visitation in which he was directed to a hill in Western New York to uncover a stone box containing,
“a sacred record which was written on plates of gold.”
Four years later, according to the story, an angel allowed Joseph Smith to take possession of the plates, along with some special glasses to translate the mysterious ancient language into English. Smith claimed that what he unearthed from the hill Cumorah was a record written by the former inhabitants of America entitled the Book of Mormon.
In the Book of Mormon, a story is told of a Hebrew family that flees the city of
Jerusalem about 600 B.C. Their father's name is Lehi, an alleged
descendant of the Bible’s Joseph. Lehi's son Nephi was his most righteous
son. Nephi became the leader over his rebellious brothers.
The Nephites had God's favor, they are described as being:
“white and exceedingly fair and delightsome” (2 Nephi 5:21).
The Lamanites supposedly were cursed to have black skin and were primitive
compared to the Nephites. These two nations fought against each other, on
and off, for centuries.
Mormon desired that the entire Nephite nation should gather near the hill Cumorah in Western New York to battle the Lamanites:
"… I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle. And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites did grant unto me the thing which I desired." (Mormon, 6:2-3)
In this battle, the Nephite nation was destroyed. Yet, Mormon’s son Moroni lived. Moroni then engraved an account of the battle on gold plates and buried those plates, along with other plates, which his father had previously buried in the hill.
Several things seem wrong with this story:
● Mormon desired to have every single one of his subjects (men, women, and children) fight, in what becomes a final battle. His request brought about the annihilation of the entire Nephite nation. If this story were true, Mormon's call to battle would be one of the biggest military blunders of all time. Let's try to imagine the Bible's King Solomon requesting a battle which ends up wiping out the nation of Israel; if Solomon had done so, how many people would consider him a wise man?
● Also, it’s hard to imagine how the Nephites, who had migrated throughout America, could be summoned to battle. For example: How would all the Nephites get the message?
● Logistically, it would seem impossible for every Nephite family in America to battle the Lamanites, on, and around, that small hill in New York. If these peoples were as numerous as the Book of Mormon claims they were, they could not have fit in that small section of New York.
● There is the story itself: of the Nephite nation being destroyed in a final battle. It provides readers with an answer as to why the primitive dark-skinned Lamanites (American Indians) were found in America when Columbus set foot on the Continent. Yet, this Book of Mormon story raises more questions than it answers:
Envision an American family living about 1,625 years ago in what is now called the State of California. In order to survive, they have a large farm including fields of wheat and corn and much livestock. The wife had just given birth to a baby girl a few days earlier when a representative of the prophet Mormon approaches her and her husband explaining that they, along with their extended family, are needed by Mormon to fight in a battle he was arranging to take place a few years from now and some 2,950 miles away.
Envision the husband asking Mormon's representative if his wife and their newborn baby girl could stay behind; and, if her elderly parents could also stay and maintain the farm while he and all the able bodied men go to battle, only to hear the man reply:
"No, Mormon needs 'all the remainder of our people.'"
The husband responds:
"But the baby will only be two or three years old by the time the battle starts; and, I'm afraid that my wife and her parents may be too frail to survive the journey."
Even if the husband were sympathetic to the idea of forsaking the crops, abandoning the livestock, and having every member of the family young and old set out on a trek across the nation; one might wonder how Mormon's representative could explain to them how to get to Cumorah? Obviously, back in the day, people could not drive down the Interstate and follow the signs. And, the mountain passes and desert terrains were formidable. Also, let's consider the hardship the family would face traveling during the winter months. And, since every single Nephite in America was supposedly involved in the battle, we could paint a similar picture of families all across America forsaking everything upon hearing Mormon's request; but, is this a realistic picture:
"Finally, they became so utterly wicked, so fully ripened for destruction, that one branch of the nation, called the Nephites, gathered their entire people around the hill Cumorah, in the State of New York , in Ontario County; and the Lamanites, the opposite army, gathered by millions in the same region. The two nations were four years in gathering their forces, during which no fighting took place; but at the end of that time, having marshalled all their hosts, the fighting commenced, the Lamanites coming upon the Nephites, and destroying all of them, except a very few, who had previously deserted over to the Lamanites." (Apostle Orson Pratt, April 6, 1874 Journal of Discourses Vol. 17, pg. 24)
There are more problems with the story: According to the Book of Mormon, this was not the first time all the people in North America were gathered to Cumorah for battle. About 515 years earlier there was another battle on that same hill:
“And it came to pass that the army of Coriantumr did pitch their tents by the hill Ramah; and it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord, which were sacred.” (Ether 15:11)
On this subject LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said,
"... both the
Nephite and Jaredite civilizations fought their final great wars of
extinction at and near the Hill Cumorah (or Ramah as the Jaredites
termed it), which hill is located between Palmyra and Manchester in the
western part of the state of New York. It was here that Moroni hid up
the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated." (Mormon
Doctrine, 1966, p. 175)
In the earlier battle, the Jaredite nation consisting of the people of Coriantumr and the people of Shiz, was utterly destroyed:
"Millions of the Jaredites are slain in battle—Shiz and Coriantumr assemble all the people to mortal combat—The Spirit of the Lord ceases to strive with them—The Jaredite nation is utterly destroyed—Only Coriantumr remains" (Introduction to Ether 15).
Once again, gathering millions of Americans from every corner of the North American continent would have been nearly impossible. Obviously 2,600 years ago people couldn’t turn on the nightly news and learn about the call to go to war. There were no televisions; phones, or any other type of device that could have provided long distance communication.
Because horses weren't present in America until Cortes brought them over in 1519 A.D., messengers would have needed to traverse the American continent on foot in order to
“get all who were upon the face of the land.”
Then, everyone would have needed to walk to get to the battleground. Again, why would every family in America decide to go on such a laborious journey? The supposed influence which Coriantumr and Shiz had upon people seems far-fetched. Why would families living thousands of miles away from these two monarchs have such strong political ties with them?
Furthermore, there’s the food and supplies people would have needed for the trip. Can you imagine every family in North America walking to New York, carrying with them extra clothes, cooking implements, food, and possibly weapons, for the great battle they were summoned to:
“And it came to pass that when they were all gathered together, every one to the army which he would, with their wives and their children—both men, women and children being armed with weapons of war, having shields, and breastplates, and head-plates, and being clothed after the manner of war—they did march forth one against another to battle; and they fought all that day, and conquered not.” (Ether 15:15)
Wives and children were also involved in this battle. This would answer
why the entire Jaredite nation was destroyed. Yet, it doesn’t make much
sense: Can you imagine children wearing body armor and being
armed with weapons of war? Or, blind men and women involved in
battle? And, what about people with a missing arm or leg? Or, those
who are old and frail; one might wonder if the story of
Or, blind men and women involved in battle? And, what about people with a missing arm or leg? Or, those who are old and frail; one might wonder if the story ofShiz and Coriantumr assembling:
"all the people to mortal combat"
has any basis in reality?
Another question: Where did all this body armor come from?
More Things To Consider:
During the years it supposedly took to gather everyone to combat, what if Coriantumr and Shiz had accidently started the battle a week or two too soon; leaving thousands of families still on the way. As far as the story goes, the timing of the battle was crucial, yet there are some obvious problems: Why would families that showed up, years, or even months early, wait around? Didn’t they have anything better to do? Also, what about the food and provisions needed to support all the people during the time this gathering was taking place?
Then, there is the battle itself, which would have been a bloodbath, seeing that millions were supposedly slaughtered on and around a hill. Walking to that scene would have meant that families waded through blood and stepped over countless dead bodies. It seems hard to believe, that no one, seeing that huge bloody mess didn’t make a decision to turn around and go home. Instead, every one of them decided to fight for the cause.
If the gathering of every family in America, and also the slaughter of every person gathered was not too hard to believe, what also seems strange is that out of the millions of people dying on the battlefield, the two monarchs who summoned the people to battle in the first place ended up being the only two left standing.
Then there is the account of how the monarch Shiz died:
“And it came to pass that after he [Coriantumr] had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he struggled for breath, he died.” (Ether 15:31)
Brigham Henry Roberts, who was an LDS General Authority and Assistant Church Historian, examined the literary style within the Book of Mormon and concluded:
“The narrative proceeds in characteristic disregard of conditions necessary to its reasonableness, as if it were a tale told by a child, with utter disregard for consistency."
The Record Gets Worse:
Joseph Smith claimed the angel Moroni told him that the American Indians living in his day “were the literal descendants of Abraham.”
On this subject, a noted Mormon Anthropologist maintains:
"I have serious problems with the Book of Mormon's representations of American Indians. Not only does it claim that Lamanites are the principle ancestors of American Indians, but throughout the text it repeatedly refers to them as Israelites, as descendants of Joseph; of descendants of the Biblical Patriarchs of Abraham. Those repeated references to an ancient Israelite connection have been clearly invalidated by scientific research…” (Thomas Murphy).
Smith also claimed the Book of Mormon solved the mystery of who the American Indians are, and where they came from. It also reinforced the popular 19 Century belief that the Indians had wiped out America's former inhabitants. (The 4th part in this series: Those Mysterious Golden Plates, has more information on this subject)
God, supposedly speaking through Smith, said in a revelation:
“…for this very purpose are these plates preserved which contain these records, that the promises of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to his people; and that the Lamanites [American Indians] might come to the knowledge of their fathers, and that they might know the promises of the Lord, and that they may believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ…” (1833 Book of Commandments, 2:6)
The title page of the 1830 Book of Mormon reads:
“Wherefore it is an abridgement of the Record of the People of Nephi; and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the House of Israel…”
In 1834, after some of Smith’s followers unearthed a skeleton from an Indian burial mound in Illinois, Joseph Smith said that God showed him the Indian bones were from,
“an officer who fell in battle, in the last destruction among the Lamanites, and his name was Zelph.”
Book of Mormon One Word Change:
Mark Tuttle, LDS Church spokesperson in the Salt Lake Tribune said,
"A one-word change was made to the introduction in the latest edition of the Book of Mormon… That change takes into account details of Book of Mormon demography, which are not known." (Church Announces Change in Book of Mormon Intro By Valerie Fry - 13 Nov 2007, BYU Newsletter, Universe - BYU Education)
The introduction previously said that the Lamanites "are the principal ancestors of the American Indians." The new (2008) edition claims that the Lamanites
"are among the principal ancestors of the American Indians."
The passage in question is not part of the Book of Mormon itself; it is in the introduction which Bruce R. McConkie wrote in 1981. Yet, that introduction spells out a change in what the LDS Church had maintained since it was founded in 1830.
Missing Archeological Evidence:
The Book of Mormon has America’s ancient peoples shooting arrows, brandishing axes, and scalping each other. It has a soldier talking about an Indian Chief. It has Indians riding horses. Some of these details are to be expected from America's past. Yet, there is absolutely no evidence to support horses and chariots existing in America during supposed Book of Mormon times.
The National Geographic Society,
“does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon."
The Smithsonian Institution reports,
“Smithsonian archeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.”
Why is it that archeologists have found "absolutely nothing" to point to the existence of civilizations mentioned in the Book of Mormon? Archeologists looking into the people and lands of the Bible, as well as other ancient civilizations, including those in North, Central, and South America, have found plenty of evidence that those civilizations existed, including pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican civilizations dating back to the same period mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon states:
“The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea” (Mormon 1:7).
If the Book of Mormon were true, we should expect to find remnants of these buildings across the American Continent. Yet, there is no archeological evidence to show that about 1,700 years ago, buildings covered America. Also, strictly from a logistical point of view, it would be impossible to cover “the whole face of the land” due to America’s diverse mountain terrains; desert regions, and forests.
LDS leaders maintain,
“The Church emphasizes the doctrinal and historical value of the Book of Mormon, not its geography.”
They go on to say,
“…there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site.”
Dee F. Green, editor of the University Archaeological Society Newsletter said,
"The first myth we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists… no Book of Mormon location is known with reference to modern topography. Biblical archaeology can be studied because we do know where Jerusalem and Jericho were and are, but we do not know where Zarahemla and Bountiful were or are. It would seem then that a concentration on geography should be the first order of business, but we have already seen that twenty years of such an approach has left us empty-handed." (BYU Publication, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1969, pp. 77-78)
Missing archeological evidence is a real problem for Mormons; perhaps, that is why the LDS Church downplays its relevance:
“…the geography question has not been answered by church authorities, nor have the opinions worked out by geography hobbyists yet led to agreement. In 1947 it was still possible to hope that ‘out of the studies of faithful Latter-day Saints may yet come a unity of opinion concerning Book of Mormon geography’ as Elder Widtsoe put it. But in the half century since, confusion has grown.” (Does Geography in the Book of Mormon Matter?, Provo, Utah: BYU, Maxwell Institute)
Mormons are left with the daunting task of trying to convince investigators that 'the geography question' really doesn't matter.
Does This Sound Logical?
“There is a very fundamental reason why Book of Mormon archeology has not yet been discovered… If the Book of Mormon is accepted to be true as an act of the faith of the inquirer it will invite the witness of the Holy Spirit to reveal to the inquirer the KNOWLEDGE that the book is indeed true. That knowledge, inspired by faith, brings with it a commitment to obey the gospel principals that are announced and developed in the book. On the other hand, were it to be demonstrated to be true by scientific investigation it would merely join the ranks of all the other scientific literature, and carry with it no moral commitment of compliance with the principles reveal therein.” (askgramps.org, 2013)
The idea that God’s purpose for mankind is best fulfilled through a lack of Book of Mormon archeological evidence is a common LDS teaching. Yet, this concept has drawbacks. For example: there are literally tons of artifacts to verify that people, places, and lands, mentioned in the Bible existed; because archeologists have found many ancient biblical cities. For example, we know where ancient Jerusalem was located, and the Temple spoken of in the gospels has been found; yet, it still requires faith to believe that Jesus lived, performed miracles, died on a cross, and then ascended to heaven! Therefore, doesn't it only stand to reason that the explanation the Mormon apologist offered for why Book of Mormon artifacts have not been found is doubletalk?
Scholar, Seeker of Truth, and Regrettably, Finder of Truth:
Thomas Stuart Ferguson, was a distinguished and devout Mormon archeologist, who set out to prove to the world that the Book of Mormon was true. Ferguson thought it would be possible to find artifacts from archaeological digs that would confirm its truthfulness. He believed all he had to do was use the Book of Mormon as a guide, because it spells out a time when the Nephites lived in the New World, and it mentions several Nephite cities by name, along with Nephite lands and villages. The Book of Mormon records that the Nephites constructed houses of cement, as well as temples, synagogues and sanctuaries throughout their territories.
Yet, with all of the digs and research Ferguson and his team undertook, they failed to find one artifact to prove that Book of Mormon Nephite cities, villages, or territories ever existed.
After twenty-five years of research, Ferguson concluded:
"…you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere, because it is fictional...”
Ferguson, whose original goal was to prove to the world that the Book of Mormon was true, eventually lost faith in the Book of Mormon.
Yet Ferguson had reasons why he never left the LDS Church. Here is a letter he wrote to an associate about his decision to stay with Mormonism:
"Perhaps you and I have been spoofed by Joseph Smith. Now that we have the inside dope—why not spoof a little back and stay aboard? Please consider this letter confidential—for obvious reasons. I want to stay aboard the good ship, Mormonism—for various reasons that I think valid. First, several of my dearly loved family members want desperately to believe and do believe it and they each need it. It does them far more good than harm. Belonging, with my eyes wide open is actually fun… I never get up and bear testimony... You might give my suggestions a trial run.
Ferguson felt that revealing the truth about the Book of Mormon to his dearly beloved family would be bad for them. This type of reasoning reminds me of a quote from Herbert Spencer, who was a 19th Century philosopher:
“The greatest of all infidelities is the fear that the truth will be bad.”
The word infidelities means: “absence of religious belief.” What greater “absence of religious belief” could one possibly have, than to fear that “the truth will be bad?” True religion is all about truth. If the truth might, or will be bad for people, then something is seriously wrong with their faith!
Fast and Testimony Meetings:
Usually once a month, on the first Sunday of each month, a Fast and Testimony Meeting is held. During these meetings, faithful members of the Church are invited to bear a verbal witness of their feelings. New converts are often encouraged to give a pure testimony, such as:
"’I know the church is true.’ ‘I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.’ And/or, ‘I know the Book of Mormon is true.’"
Latter-Day Saints teach,
“A personal testimony is fundamental to our faith. Consequently, the things we must do to acquire, strengthen, and retain a testimony are vital to our spiritual life.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Testimony,” Ensign, May 2008, 26–29)
The most common testimony Mormon missionaries share is called the “burning in the bosom.” Mormons are taught that if people ask if something is true, with a sincere heart, with real intent, and having faith in Christ, God will cause their bosom to burn as a confirming sign. Mormons often encourage potential converts to ask God about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and to look for this sign confirming it. The implication is, if the seeker does not get the burning bosom experience, then he or she was not sincere, lacked faith, or possibly did not show real intent.
In LDS ideology, if one doesn’t have a testimony yet, one can get a testimony
by bearing one.
Mormons often find that their testimony gets stronger each time they bear it;
but, is confessing faith in something over and over again, until people firmly
believe in it, really the way to determine truth?
Possibly the reason Mormons have testimonies is because from the first moment they encounter the LDS Church, they are taught, and also encouraged, to give testimonies. Children are trained to bear testimony from a very young age. Yet, the very fact that Mormons get together, bearing and listening to testimonies, such as,
“I know the Book of Mormon is true,”
indicates that they need more convincing themselves.
Perhaps it would be better for people investigating the LDS faith to begin by asking,
"If the Book of Mormon were not true, would I want to know?"
One thing is certain: with the invention of the Internet, which has made access to early Mormon history just one click away, many LDS Church members are walking away from the LDS faith altogether. Is this the reason why renowned LDS author / scholar Richard Bushman described:
“…a new attitude toward Mormon apologetics, ‘not an aim to prove Mormonism true, but rather to find the truth about Mormonism.’ The coming ‘Age of Cultural Power’ presupposes freedom of inquiry and an uninhibited search for the truth.” (Richard Bushman on Mormon scholarship by Kristine Frederickson, For Mormon Times, July 10, 2011 - Deseret News)
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women who choose to enter the mission field serve 18 months.
 “If heavenly messengers (prophets who have lived upon this earth) have visited this earth in this dispensation, bringing messages from God, as claimed by the Prophet Joseph Smith, then we have the most important message that can go out to the world today …” (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Deseret Book, 1979, LeGrand Richard p.5)
THE BOOK OF MORMON:
AN ACCOUNT WRITTEN BY THE HAND OF MORMON UPON PLATES TAKEN FROM THE PLATES OF NEPHI.
Wherefore it is an abridgment of the Record of the People of Nephi; and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile; written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of Prophesy and Revelation. Written, and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed; to come forth by the gift and power of God, unto the interpretation thereof; sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of God; an abridgement taken from the Book of Ether… (1830 Book of Mormon, title page)
 “He [Moroni] told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the indians were the literal descendants of Abraham…” (Joseph Smith Journal, November 9, 1835; cited in Dean C. Jesse, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Richard L. Jensen, eds., The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals Volume 1:1832-1839 (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2008), 88-89)
 "When Joseph returned with the horse and carriage, he exclaimed, 'It is ten times better than expected… Then he went on to tell the length and width and thickness of the plates’ and said, ‘they appear to be Gold…' But he seemed to think more of the glasses… [Joseph Smith said] ‘I can see anything; they are Marvelus (sic).'" (Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History)
 (Verse 32) “And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.
(Verse 33) And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.
(Verse 34) But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof.” (Mormon, p:32-34)
title page of the Book of Mormon ‘is a literal translation, taken from
the very last leaf’ [of the golden plates].” (Joseph Smith, History of
Joseph Smith,” Times and Seasons 3, Oct. 15, 1842).
Nephites gather to the land of Cumorah for the final battles—Mormon
hides the sacred records in the hill Cumorah—The Lamanites are
victorious, and the Nephite nation is destroyed—Hundreds of thousands
are slain with the sword. [A.D. 385]" (Introduction to Words of Mormon,
behold, ye shall take the plates of Nephi unto yourself, and the
remainder shall ye leave in the place where they are; and ye shall
engrave on the plates of Nephi all the things that ye have observed
concerning this people.” (Words of Mormon 1:4).
 “And it
came to pass that
my people, with their wives and their children, did
now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with
that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did
they await to receive them.” (Mormon, 6:7)
 "And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni.
And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them.
And it came to pass that they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers.
And it came to pass that they did fall upon my people with the sword, and with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the ax, and with all manner of weapons of war." (Mormon 6:6-9)
 "He saw
that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of
his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been
slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their
children." (Ether 15:2)
Mormon apologists speculate that horses mentioned in the Book of Mormon
may have actually been the Central American Tapir, or possibly deer:
Alma 18: 9, Alma 18: 12, Alma 20: 6, 3 Ne. 3: 22
“Wherefore, they were for the space of four years gathering together the
people, that they might get all who were upon the face of the land, and
that they might receive all the strength which it was possible that they
could receive.” (Ether 15:14)
1985, p. 251:
own writings in his landmark work: Studies of the Book of Mormon; which
remained unpublished until decades after his death).
[Moroni] said the Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham.”(J.S.
Diary 1835-1836, pg. 76)
 In an
interview on Jan. 14, 2003, Murphy acknowledged that he's not an active
member of the church anymore. "I'm a cultural Mormon," he explained. "I
prefer to be called a latter-day skeptic."
 "It was made known to Joseph that he had been an officer who fell in battle, in the last destruction among the Lamanites, and his name was Zelph. This caused us to rejoice much, to think that God was so mindful of us as to show these things to his servant. Brother Joseph had enquired of the Lord and it was made known in a vision." (Kimball 1841)
 "At about
one foot deep we discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire; and
between two of his ribs we found an Indian arrow, which had evidently
been the cause of his death. We took the leg and thigh bones and carried
them along with us to Clay county. All four appeared sound."(Kimbal
land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their
chariots.” (2 Nephi 12:7)
 "Thank you for contacting the National Geographic Society. Our position on the Book of Mormon has not changed, nor have we retracted any statements made previously. The National Geographic Society has not examined the historical claims of the Book of Mormon. We know of no archaeological evidence that corroborates the ancient history of the Western Hemisphere as presented in the Book of Mormon, nor are we aware of empirical verification of the places named in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is clearly a work of great spiritual power; millions have read and revered its words, first published by Joseph Smith in 1830. Yet Smith's narration is not generally taken as a scientific source for the history of the Americas. Archaeologists and other scholars have long probed the hemisphere's past, and the Society does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon. In fact, students of prehistoric America by and large conclude that the New World's earliest inhabitants arrived from Asia via the Bering land bridge. (Lower sea levels during ice ages exposed the continental shelf beneath Bering Strait, allowing generations of ancient Siberians to migrate east.) National Geographic carried "The First Americans" in its September 1979 issue, perhaps on your library's shelf… Sincerely, Lisa Walker" (Research Correspondence (The National Geographic's Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon Received via Email 1/21/2001)
Smithsonian Institution statement on The Book of Mormon)
 In 1973,
Michael Coe, one of the best known authorities on archaeology of the New
World, wrote an article for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought,
Summer 1973. After telling of the Mormon belief in Joseph Smith and the
Book of Mormon, he frankly stated: "Let me now state uncategorically
that as far as I know there is not one professionally trained
archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific
justification for believing the foregoing to be true,... nothing,
absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in any New World excavation which
would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon... is
a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our
hemisphere." (pp.42, 46)
 The Olmec
civilization — 1,200 – 400 BC —
flourished on the gulf coast of Mexico, and constructed the first
pyramids in the North American continent as well as the big stone
'baby-faced' head monuments. The ancient Maya Civilization occupied much
of the central North American continent based on the gulf coast of what
is now Mexico between 2500 BC and AD 1500, and are known for their
amazing complex artwork, particularly murals, and graceful pyramids. The
capital city of the Zapotec Civilization — 500 BC – 750 AD is Monte
Alban in the valley of Oaxaca in central Mexico. Monte Alban is one of
the most intensively studied archaeological sites in the Americas, The
Inca civilization was the largest civilization in the Americas when the
Spanish conquistadors arrived in the early 16th century. The
Mississippian culture is a term used by archaeologists to refer to
cultures inhabiting the length of the Mississippi River, The Aztec
civilization was at the height of their power and influence when the
Spanish arrived. Warlike, intractable, and aggressive, the Aztecs
conquered much of Central America.
Pre-Classic—Maya, Olmec and Zapotec civilizations flourished during the
approximate period that events spoken of in the Book of Mormon are said
to have occurred.
(Office of the First Presidency, April 12, 1993)
of the First Presidency, April 12, 1993)
“No reputable Egyptologist or other specialist on Old World archeology,
and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any
relationship between archeological remains in Mexico and archeological
remains in Egypt.
Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian
Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World in pre-Columbian
contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines, and
sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by
reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing
have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492
…” (The Smithsonian Institution statement on The Book of Mormon)
 “While there is no archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon's claim that there were Nephites in the New World, the existence of the Israelites in the Holy Land is verified by a great deal of evidence. The "earliest archaeological reference to the people of Israel" is a stele of the Egyptian ruler Merneptah, dated about 1220 B.C. Many ancient inscriptions mentioning the Israelites have been found, and some inscriptions even give the names of kings or other people mentioned in the Bible. The New Testament mentions a number of rulers that are known to have lived around the time of Christ. The fact that the Jews were in Palestine at the time the Bible indicates is proven by hundreds of ancient Hebrew inscriptions. Portions of every book of the Old Testament, except for the book Esther, have also been found in the manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. When we turn to the Book of Mormon, however, we are unable to find any evidence at all that the Nephites ever existed.” (Testing the Book of Mormon, Utah Lighthouse tract)
 "I cheerfully admit, and routinely say, that Mormonism has not proven its claims. I don't think it's supposed to do so, either..." (BYU Professor, Daniel C. Peterson)
 In a
paper entitled, "Thomas Stuart Ferguson, 1915-83," Fred W. Nelson wrote
the following: "Thomas Ferguson has either directly or indirectly
influenced thousands of people's thinking on archaeology.... He has had
a great influence on professional archaeology through the Department of
Archaeology at Brigham Young University, the Gates Collection, and the
New World Archaeological Foundation.... Ferguson's legacy in the
founding of the Archaeology Department at Brigham Young University, the
obtaining of the Gates Collection, and as founder of the New World
Archaeology Foundation stands as a shining example to us all." (As cited
in The Messiah in Ancient America, pp. 282-83)
City of Ammonihah, Wicked Nephite City, 'Desolation of Nehors'
City of Bountiful, Major Nephite city in the northeastern quadrant
City by the Sea, Nephite city on the west coast
City of Cumeni, Nephite city fought for by Helaman
City of Desolation, Northern Nephite City
City of Jordan, Nephite retreat maintained by Mormon
City of Judea, Nephite city
City of and Land of Moroni, In southeast of Nephite lands
City of Moronihah, Iniquitous Nephite city
City of Mulek, Nephite city south of Bountiful
City of Nephihah, Nephite refuge captured and lost by the Lamanites
City of Omner, Nephite city by seashore on east borders
City of and Land of Shem2, Nephite land north of Antum and Jashon
City of Zarahemla, Major capital of Nephites from about 200 B.C. to A.D. 200
City of Zeezrom, Nephite city on
 “Many Nephites migrate to the land northward—They build houses of cement and keep many records—Tens of thousands are converted and baptized—The word of God leads men to salvation—Nephi the son of Helaman fills the judgment seat. Between 49 and 39 B.C.” (Introduction to the Book of Helaman 3).
“But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea,
the account of the Lamanites and of the Nephites, and their wars, and
contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies,
and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of
temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries,
and their righteousness, and their wickedness, and their murders,
and their robbings, and their plundering, and all manner of abominations
and whoredoms, cannot be contained in this work.”
Stuart Ferguson was, at one time, one of the most noted defenders of
Book of Mormon archaeology. Mr. Ferguson planned the New World
Archaeological Foundation which he hoped would prove the Book of Mormon
through archaeological research. The Mormon Church granted hundreds of
thousands of dollars to this organization, but in the end, Thomas Stuart
Ferguson admitted that although the Foundation made some important
contributions to New World archaeology, all his work with regard to the
Book of Mormon was in vain. He admitted, in fact, that he had wasted
twenty-five years of his life trying to prove the Book of Mormon. In
1975 Ferguson prepared a 29-page paper in which he wrote: "I'm afraid
that up to this point, I must agree with Dee Green, who has told us that
to date there is no Book-of-Mormon geography." In a letter to Mr. & Mrs.
H.W. Lawrence, dated Feb. 20, 1976, Thomas Stuart Ferguson plainly
stated: "…you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere - because
it is fictional and will never meet the requirements of the
 In a
letter to Mormon President David O. McKay, dated Dec. 14, 1951, Ferguson
wrote: "If the anticipated evidences confirming the Book of Mormon are
found, worldwide notice will be given to the restored gospel through the
Book of Mormon. The artifacts will speak eloquently from the dust." (The
Messiah in Ancient America, p. 257)
from Thomas Stuart Ferguson to Mr. & Mrs. H. W. Lawrence, dated Feb. 20,
 “Our individual, personal testimonies are based on the witness of the Spirit, not on any combination or accumulation of historical facts.” (Dallin H. Oaks, Doctrine and Covenants Conference, Brigham Young University, Aug. 16, 1985)
behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then
you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that
your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is
right” (Doctrine and Covenants, 9:8).
 “And when
ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God,
the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true;
and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith
in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of
the Holy Ghost” (Book of Mormon, Moroni, 10:4).
 “We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it. …some testimonies are better gained on the feet bearing them than on the knees praying for them." (Dallin H. Oaks, “Testimony,” Ensign, May 2008, 26–29)
Book of Mormon problems. Problems with the Book of Mormon are documented in, An Incredible Story Part I — The Book of Mormon: book of mormon problems, problem, archeology, archeological digs, archeologists, evidence, false teaching, prophet joseph smith, lds, church of jesus christ latter day saints, rich kelsey, about, mormonism, mormons, answers, neil maxwell institute, fair, byu, one word change