Ten LDS Plot holes — Rich Kelsey

LDS Plot holes inconsistencies in the storylines

Plot holes:

“A plot hole is an inconsistency in a storyline. It goes against the logical flow established by the story’s plot and can include illogical, unlikely, or impossible events, as well as statements or events that contradict earlier events in the storyline.” (TCK publishing plot holes)

Plot hole # 1. First Vision:

Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1834, vol.1, p.78
Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1834, vol.1, p.78

On the evening of September 21st, 1823, Joseph Smith maintained that he was in his bedroom, while seeking:

“… the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him …” (Messenger and Advocate, Kirtland, Ohio, Dec. 1834, vol.1, p.78)

“This is the bomb that blows the lid off of any claim that Joseph Smith was visited by God in 1820. Because if God revealed Himself to Joseph Smith in 1820, as the later-dated first vision story maintains, then Joseph Smith would have known beyond any doubt that a Supreme-being did exist three years before his 1823-bedroom vision supposedly took place.”


According to Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, the first vision Joseph told her and the other family members about was his 1823-bedroom vision:

“… he (Joseph) went to bed and was pondering in his mind which of the churches were the true one… he had not laid there long till he saw a bright light entered the room… an angel of the Lord stood by him. The angel spoke I perceive that you are enquiring in your mind which is the true church there is not a true church on Earth No not one.” (Lucy Smith’s History, p. 335)

It only makes sense that in 1823, Joseph Smith would not be:

“… enquiring in his mind which is the true church,” (Lucy Smith’s History, p. 335)

if he had been enlightened on the subject by the Lord, three years earlier:

“My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join.” (Joseph Smith History of the Church, Volume 1:18)

(for more information)

Plot hole # 2. Two Battles on and Around the Same Hill:

According to the Book of Mormon, the entire population of America, except for the prophet Ether, fought in a battle that left just one man standing:

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)

The story maintains that men along with their wives and children, were:

“… armed with weapons of war, having shields, breastplates and head-plates.”[1]

Five hundred and fifteen years later, about 385 A.D., another battle supposedly took place around the same hill[2]. Both battles involved the entire population of America. The second battle also included men, along with their wives and their children.[3]

And they were armed:

“… with the sword, and with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the ax, and with all manner of weapons of war.”[4]

As difficult as it is to believe that the entire population of America fought, not once, but twice around the same hill in New York. What is also hard to fathom, is that no archeological evidence has ever been found to confirm these battles took place.

And it’s not just a lack of archeological evidence in the State of New York. There has been no archeological evidence found to support the Book of Mormon’s narrative across the entire American Continent. (Missing Archeological Evidence)

Plot hole # 3. the Right Person is Alvin:

According to Joseph Knight’s account, bringing the right person was a requirement Joseph Smith needed to fulfill, to obtain the golden plates:

“And he opened the Box and Behold the Book was there. He took hold of it to take it out again and Behold he Could not stur the Book any more then he Could the mountin. He exclaimed “why Cant I stur this Book?” And he was answered, “you cant have it now.” Joseph says ‘when can I have it?” The answer was the 22nt Day of September next if you Bring the right person with you. Joseph says,‘ who is the right Person?” The answer was ‘your oldest Brother.’”

But before September Came his oldest Brother Died.” (Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History Copyright BYU Studies 1976, p. 4)

According to the bible, God knows:

“… the end from the beginning.” (Isaiah 46:10)

If the spirit watching over the golden plates was really an angel of the Lord, the angel should have known that Joseph Smith would not be able to bring Alvin to the Hill Cumorah, the following year.

Plot hole # 3. Continued, the Right Person is Emma:

But when the 22nt Day of September Came he went to the place and the personage appeard and told him he Could not have it now. But the 22nt Day of September nex he mite have the Book if he Brot with him the right person.

Joseph says, “who is the right Person?” The answer was you will know. Then he looked in his glass and found it was Emma Hale …” (Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History Copyright BYU Studies 1976, p. 4)

On the night Joseph Smith went to receive the golden plates, he left Emma with the wagon and climbed the hill alone.

LDS Statement on this subject:

Joseph left Emma with the wagon at the bottom of the hill and climbed the hill alone to meet the angel Moroni. Moroni gave Joseph the gold plates.” (Lesson 5: Joseph Smith Receives the Gold Plates, church-of-jesus-christ.org)

Plot hole # 4. Do Not Lay the Plates Down:

Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Smith, wrote about the golden plates in her handwritten history:

On the 22d of September 1824, Joseph again visited the place, where he found the plates the year before; and supposing, that the only thing required in order to possess them until the time for their translation, was, to be able to keep the commandments of God, and as he firmly believed that he could keep every commandment which had been given him, he fully expected to carry them home with him. Therefore, having arrived at the place and uncovered them, he put forth his hand and took them up; but, on starting off with them, the unhappy thought darted through his mind: that probably there were something else in the box besides the plates, which would be of some advantage in a precuniary point of view; So, [p. 87]

in the moment of excitement; he laid them down … the angel of the Lord appeared to him, and told him, that he had not done, as he had been commanded: in a former revelation he had been commanded, not to lay the plates down, or put them for a moment out of his hands, until he got into the house and deposited them in a chest or trunk, with a good lock and key …

He had some farther conversation with the angel at this interview; after which he was permitted to raise the stone again, when he beheld the plates as before: he immediately reached forth his hand to take them; but instead of getting them as he expected, he was hurled back upon the ground with great violence. When he recovered the angel was gone; and he arose and returned to the house, weeping with grief and disappointment.” (Lucy Mack Smith History 1845, p.p. 87-88)

According to Lucy Smith’s history:

The angel of the Lord had made it very clear to her son, that he was not to put the golden plates out of his hands, even for a moment!

Yet on September 22nd, 1827, when Joseph Smith supposedly received the golden plates, what he actually came home with was another story. He told his family that he had hidden the plates in the woods:

“After receiving the plates at the hill, the Prophet hid them nearby in a hollow birch log whose tough bark had resisted the forces of decay better than the wood itself. Cutting a hole in the bark and peeling it back, he placed the plates in the cavity of the log …” (Take Heed Continually, Andrew H. Hedges, church-of-jesus-christ.org)

Plot hole # 5. Spirits Guarding Buried Treasure:

In early 1830, Joseph Smith’s father told[5] Palmyra businessman Fayette Lapham:

“… that, when the treasure [golden plates] was deposited there, he [the large man] was sworn to take charge of and protect that property, until the time should arrive for it to be exhibited to the world of mankind; and, in order to prevent his making an improper disclosure, he was murdered or slain on the spot, and the treasure had been under his charge ever since.” (HISTORICAL MAGAZINE, 1870, p. 307)

This account of a treasure guardian watching over the golden plates is almost identical to what was recorded about a treasure guardian in Joseph Smith’s 1826 Glass Looking Trial:

“… he [Joseph Smith] discovered distinctly the two Indians who buried the trunk; that a quarrel ensued between them, and that one of said Indians was killed by the other, and thrown into the hole beside of the trunk, to guard it, as he supposed.” (1826 Glass Looking Trial, Jonathan Thompson Testimony, Miss Pearsall Account)

If Mormonism were true, what are the odds that its foundation would be built upon a story that is almost identical to the money digging accounts Joseph Smith was known for back in his day? Including a spirit who had charge over the treasure, clothed in ancient dress, and the treasure moving from here to there, because of the enchantment.[6]

Plot hole # 6. “Moroni” in Bloody Clothes:

The Joseph and Hiel Lewis bleeding ghost account matches elements from the story Joseph Smith’s father was telling, and what other relatives, neighbors and associates described back in the day.[7]

Yet it doesn’t resemble accounts of “Moroni’s” visits with Joseph Smith published by the LDS Church today:

“He said that by a dream he was informed that at such a place in a certain hill, in an iron box, were some gold plates with curious engravings, which he must get and translate, and write a book; that the plates were to be kept concealed from every human being for a certain time, some two or three years; that he went to the place and dug till he came to the stone that covered the box, when he was knocked down; that he again attempted to remove the stone, and was again knocked down; this attempt was made the third time, and the third time he was knocked down. Then he exclaimed, ‘Why can’t I get it?’ or words to that effect; and then he saw a man standing over the spot, which to him appeared like a Spaniard, having a long beard coming down over his breast to about here. (Smith putting his hand to the pit of his stomach) with his (the ghost’s) throat cut from ear to ear, and the blood streaming down, who told him that he could not get it alone; that another person whom he, Smith, would know at first sight, must come with him, and then he could get it.” (The Amboy Journal, June 11, 1879, p.1)

Plot hole # 6. Continued, Fayette Lapham Account:

“… he [Joseph Smith] had a very singular dream; but he did not tell his father of his dream, until about a year afterwards. He then told his father that, in his dream, a very large and tall man appeared to him, dressed in an ancient suit of clothes, and the clothes were bloody.

Joseph asked when he could have them; and the answer was, ‘Come in one year from this time, and bring your oldest brother with you; then you may have them.’ During that year, it so happened that his oldest brother died; but, at the end of the year, Joseph repaired to the place again, and was told by the man who still guarded the treasure, that, inasmuch as he could not bring his oldest brother, he could not have the treasure yet; but there would be another person appointed to come with him in one year from that time, when he could have it. Joseph asked, ‘How shall I know the person?’ and was told that the person would be known to him at sight.” (Fayette Lapham Account)

Plot hole # 7. Missing Details:

The accounts of Martin Harris, Joseph Knight and Lucy Smith paint a different picture than what is spelled out in the official version of Joseph Smith’s story:

Nowhere in Joseph Smith’s 1838 History is it mentioned that:

● Joseph Smith discovered the golden plates with his seer stone.[8]

● He laid the golden plates down contrary to the spirit’s instruction.

● Smith was hurled back when trying to obtain the golden plates a second time.

● He was told to bring his oldest brother Alvin, and if he did, he could have the golden plates next September 22nd.

● Yet Alvin died before another attempt could be made.

● Smith didn’t know what to do.

● He was told once more that he might have the golden plates next September 22nd if he brought the right person.

The conversation about the spirit telling Joseph Smith:

“… the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived; neither would it, until four years from that time …”[9]

runs contrary to the central theme of bringing the right person to receive the golden plates, which is found in almost all of the early accounts.


According to Joseph Smith’s mother:

Three years before her son Joseph obtained the golden plates, on the 22nd of September 1824, he had fully expected to carry the plates home with him.

Plot hole # 8. Persuading People to Come unto Christ, 500 Years Before Jesus Was Born:

The Book of Mormon has prophets in America teaching men to believe in Christ, teaching about Christ’s kingdom, teaching about Christ’s suffering and death on the cross, and persuading people to come unto Christ, 500 years before Jesus was born:

The Book of Jacob. Another testament of Jesus Christ?

Jacob and Joseph seek to persuade men to believe in Christ and keep His commandments—Nephi dies—Wickedness prevails among the Nephites. About 544–421 B.C.

“And we also had many revelations, and the spirit of much prophecy; wherefore, we knew of Christ and his kingdom, which should come. Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God …  Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men not to rebel against God, to provoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world …” (Jacob 1:6-8)

Contrast the Book of Mormon peoples understanding of Christ’s suffering and death with Christ’s own disciples:

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’” (Matthew 16:21-22)

It is hard to believe that people in The Book of Mormon, who were living in America, knew all about Jesus Christ’s coming ministry, including his death on the cross, yet the people living in Israel did not.

(for more information)

Plot hole # 9. The People Were All Converted & There Were No Contentions:

“And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.” (4 Nephi 1:2)

The Book of Mormon also records:

“… there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. And there were no envying, nor strife, nor tulmults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God. There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God. And how blessed were they! … and there was no contention in all the land.” (4 Nephi 1:15-18)

Imagine two nations, consisting of hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, living year after year for seventy-four years[10] in a row, without anyone envying what another person had, or lusting after another person’s spouse, or contending with anyone about anything?

LDS General Authority and Assistant Church Historian, Brigham Henry Roberts, 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.” (Studies of the Book of Mormon, Roberts 1985, p. 251)


The narrative does not come close to representing the New Testament Church described in the bible, because there are accounts of people lying,[11] and there were contentions![12]

Plot hole # 10. Martin Harris Never Saw the Plates, Neither Did Oliver nor David:

Stephen Burnett’s 1838 letter to Lyman Johnson:

“… when I came to hear Martin Harris state in public that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes only in vision or imagination, neither Oliver nor David & also that the eight witnesses never saw them [the plates] & hesitated to sign that instrument for that reason, but were persuaded to do it, the last pedestal gave way …” (Letterbook 2, Page 64 (josephsmithpapers.org)

After transcribing nearly 116 pages, Martin Harris asked Joseph Smith for permission to see the golden plates:

“Mr. Harris [Martin] remained with my son and wrote diligently until he had transcribed nearly 116 pages of the record. When it became necessary for him to return home — he began to request Joseph to permit him to look upon the plates for he desired a further witness …“ (Lucy Smith History: First Draft, Biographical Sketches, chapter 25, author paraphrase)

One might think that over the course of two months, the role Harris played in bringing forth 116 pages from the golden record, would have been a faith-building experience?

It was not.

Martin was left wondering:

“Was Joseph making a fool of him? Was he the classic dupe, to be cheated out of his money and farm when the fraud was complete? Martin wanted more evidence to set his own mind at ease and to quiet the doubters at home.” (Joseph Smith and The Beginnings of Mormonism, Richard L. Bushman, p. 90)  

Then Martin Harris found out he was one of the three witnesses spelled out in the Book of Mormon.[13]

And Joseph Smith received a revelation telling Martin Harris what to say:



26 And I the Lord command him, my servant Martin Harris, that he shall say no more unto them concerning these things, except he shall say: I have seen them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God; and these are the words which he shall say.

27 But if he deny this he will break the covenant which he has before covenanted with me, and behold, he is condemned.


Martin Harris’ signed testimony[14] was gathered under the threat of divine condemnation.

“[Other] witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel.”[15]

So, why are millions of people putting their faith in the reluctant testimonies of Book of Mormon witnesses who expected to view the golden plates like one would view tangible, material objects.

Only to discover that the golden plates were not like other objects in this world:[16]

Full Article Index / LDS Articles


[1] “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)

[2] “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)

[3] “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)

[4] “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 6:9)

[5] “In early 1830, shortly before the Book of Mormon came off the Grandin press, Palmyra businessman Fayette Lapham and his brother-in-law Jacob Ramsdell called at the Joseph Smith Sr. home in Manchester to get information on the forthcoming book. As Palmyra residents, Lapham and Ramsdell would have heard the considerable buzz in town about the Book of Mormon but were not yet able to satisfy their curiosity by reading its pages. Instead, the two young men enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing the Prophet’s father relate the story of the Book of Mormon’s emergence, and they were given an oral sneak preview of its contents. Four decades later, Lapham published an extensive account of this interview [Page 121] in an 1870 issue of The Historical Magazine.

Despite the lapse of years and the account’s occasional garbling of fact, Lapham’s narration is filled with firsthand information that demonstrates his reliance on a primary source with knowledge of the actual information and events, indicating that he may have written his newspaper account from detailed notes of his interview with Joseph Sr.

Whether Lapham’s source was interview notes or an extraordinary memory, his accuracy on many obscure but confirmable details, such as the order in which Joseph Smith translated Mormon’s abridgement and Nephi’s small plates after the manuscript loss, lends credence to additional, unique details he provides.” (Book of Mormon Evidence, Joseph Smith Sr. Spoke About the Translation with Fayette Lapham)

[6] “Alva Hale [Emma’s brother] says: ‘Joe Smith never handled one shovel full of earth in those diggings. All that Smith did was to peep with stone and hat, and give directions where and how to dig, and when and where the enchantment moved the treasure.’” (Joseph Lewis, Emma Smith’s cousin, “Review of Mormonism: Rejoinder to Elder Cadwell,” Amboy Journal (IL), June 11, 1879


“He oncovered it and found the Book [golden plates] and took it out and laid [it] Down By his side and thot he would Cover the place over again thinking there might be something else here. But he was told to take the Book and go right away. And after he had Covered the place he turned round to take the Book and it was not there and he was astonished that the Book was gone. He thot he would look in the place again and see if it [the golden plates] had not got Back again. He had heard people tell of such things.” (Joseph Knight Recollection of Mormon History)


“… he [Joseph Smith] could also discover the spirits in whose charge these treasures were, clothed in ancient dress.

After we had dug a trench about five feet in depth around the rod, the old man by signs and motions, asked leave of absence, and went to the house to inquire of young Joseph the cause of our disappointment. He soon returned and said, that Joseph had remained all this time in the house, looking in his stone and watching the motions of the evil spirit–that he saw the spirit come up to the ring and as soon as it beheld the cone which we had formed around the rod, it caused the money to sink.” Statement by Smith’s neighbor William Stafford.” (Mormonism Unvailed, pp. 238-239)

[7] “That the Chase account appears in a collection of testimonials published by an anti-Mormon while the Knight narrative comes from a faithful Latter-day Saint whose statement was not published until very recently suggests that the anti-Mormon material cannot be lightly dismissed because of its origin. The anti-Mormon statements have to be checked against what is admitted by the Mormons themselves. Willard Chase very likely heard his story from Joseph Smith, Sr., as he reported this is further evidenced by an independent account published by Fayette Lapham in 1870 of an earlier interview with Joseph Smith, Sr., as to the origin of the golden plates. This report corresponds closely in some respects to what Knight and Chase recounted.” (Money Digging Folklore and the Beginnings of Mormonism: An Interpretive Suggestion —Marvin S. Hill, BYU Studies)

[8] “These plates were found at the north point of a hill two miles north of Manchester village. Joseph had a stone which was dug from the well of Mason Chase, twenty-four feet from the surface. In this stone he could see many thing to my certain knowledge. It was by means of this stone he first discovered these plates.” (Interview with Martin Harris in Tiffany’s Monthly)

[9] “I made an attempt to take them out, [ the golden plates ] but was forbidden by the messenger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it, until four years from that time; but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates.” (History of the Church Vol. 1, 1:53)

[10] “And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another. And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.” (Book of Mormon, 4 Nephi 1:2 and 18) 

[11] “Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?” (Acts, 5:3, NIV) 

[12] “When Peter came to Antioch, I [Paul] opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.” (Galatians 2:11-13, NIV) 

[13] “Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein.” (2 Nephi 27:12)

[14] “… an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates …” (Testimony of Three Witnesses)

[15] “Some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel. One of the Quorum of the Twelve – a young man full of faith and good works, prayed, and the vision of his mind was opened, and the angel of God came and laid the plates before him, and he saw and handled them, and saw the angel, and conversed with him as he would with one of his friends; but after all this, he was left to doubt, and plunged into apostacy, (sic) and has continued to contend against this work. There are hundreds in a similar condition.” (Brigham Young, JOD: vol. 7 p. 164, June 5, 1859)

[16] “The plates walk a fine line between magic and religion, between enchantment and disenchantment, between fraud and religious genius … They make the claim that the supernatural has entered into the natural world.” (Presentation given at Utah State’s Eccles Science Learning Center on March 22, 2012, by LDS author/scholar Richard Bushman)