LDS Articles of Faith, Part XXXVII

Article 8, LDS Scripture, Book of Mormon, Part 4

The introduction in the front of the Book of Mormon (B. of M.) says, “The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel. The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.” This information came from the B. of M. and Joseph Smith’s teachings, but there is no evidence to verify it. Not one name, place, or event in the B. of M. has been verified by any other source!

The LDS Church has published books, articles etc. to try to show that the B. of M. is a history of real people. But scholars say real “evidence,” doesn’t support the B. of M. content. One LDS pamphlet is entitled, ‘Whence Came the American Indian—America’s Ancients Speak from the Dust (Isa. 29:4).” It says, “Many archaeologists agree that: There were two great migrations from Asia to America. The first was about 4,000 years ago. The second migration was about 600 B.C. They were of the House of Israel. They worshiped one Supreme God. They had a knowledge of early Bible history. They practiced Christianity. They had a knowledge of the Birth and death of Christ.” But Dr. Frank H. H. Roberts, who was Dir. of the Bureau of American Ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution said, “The ancestors of the American Indians entered America probably 15,000 years ago and possibly much earlier. It is doubtful if any migration occurred as late as 600 B.C. There is no evidence whatever of any migration from Israel to America, and likewise no evidence that pre-Columbian Indians had any knowledge of Christianity or the Bible.” Notice that Dr. Roberts refuted everything in the LDS pamphlet!

The B. of M. has no maps to show where the B. of M. people lived because the B. of M. doesn’t identify their exact location, so LDS scholars disagree about it. Archaeologists need to know where the B. of M. people lived in order to find any real evidence to support the B. of M. Some LDS say all the B. of M. people lived in New York, while others say they lived in Central America or elsewhere. So, no real archaeological evidence exists for the B. of M. because of that. The introduction to the B. of M. says it is holy scripture comparable to the Bible. But the Bible is a real history of Israelites and others. Many Israelites still live in Israel and the Hebrew language is still in use today. Archaeology has verified many the Biblical sites, and stories and histories of nations near Israel also record some things in the Bible. The B. of M. does not have that kind of evidence. It was supposedly written in “Reformed Egyptian” on gold plates when Smith received it. But no “Reformed Egyptian” writings have been found in North, Central, or South America and Egyptologists say there is no such language. Archaeologists have found many early American Indian inscriptions, but the Mayan writing in Yucatan is the only written language they have found by early Native Americans. The B. of M. indicates that multitudes of people spoke “Reformed Egyptian” in America, so were the B. of M. writers the only ones who could write and the B. of M. the only document they wrote?

The introduction to the B. of M. says Israelites from Jerusalem came to the Americas in 600 B.C. but about 421 A.D. all their descendants were killed except the Lamanites who are “the principal ancestors of the American Indians.” Since the B. of M. says American Indians are descendants of Israelites, their DNA should show that relationship, but it shows that the American Indians originally came from Asia. How did Israelites from Jerusalem travel to America and change their DNA from Israelite to Asiatic? Some LDS say DNA isn’t specific enough to tell where the American Indians originated while some say other people likely came to America and mixed their blood with the Lamanites (Indians) so that it is impossible to use DNA to determine their origin. But DNA is specific enough to convict individual criminals in courts of law, so it is very specific!

The introduction to the B. of M. also says that the B. of M. was written on gold plates. Joseph Smith said that about 421 A.D., Moroni who was the last surviving Nephite, hid the gold plates in the Hill Cumorah near Palmyra, NY where he and his family lived. Smith said in 1823 A.D. Moroni appeared as an angel and told him about the book written on gold plates. He said Moroni let him have the plates in 1827 and by “the gift and power of God” he translated the “Reformed Egyptian” writings on them into the B. of M. In The Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith—History 1:35, LDS scripture says, “Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummimdeposited with the (gold) plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted ‘seers’ in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book (of Mormon).” But earlier Smith had found a “seer stone” that he used to try to find buried treasures and that stone worked as well as the Urim and Thummim in translating the B. of M. and it was easier on his eyes. Joseph’s wife, Emma Smith, David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses of the B. of M., and others who helped Smith, said he put his seer stone into his hat and put his face tightly into the hat to exclude the light and in the darkness of the hat something like parchment appeared with the English translation of the B. of M. on it. If that is true, the Lord translated the plates and all Smith did was read the English to his scribe. The gold plates were wrapped in cloth and lying on a table while Smith was “translating” the B. of M., so he didn’t even look at them. The official LDS website has a “Gospel Topics” section and one of the topics is called “Book of Mormon Translation” where some of this information can be read.

Why did God preserve the gold plates and Urim and Thummim for hundreds of years and have Moroni give them to Smith when he didn’t look at the gold plates to translate them, and he used his own “seer stone” to translate the plates instead of the Urim and Thummim God provided? Didn’t God know Smith could “translate” the plates without looking at them and that he had his own “seer stone” that worked as well as the Urim and Thummim in “translating” the gold plates? And why was the B. of M. “translated” in 1611 A.D. English when people in America didn’t speak that kind of English in 1830 A.D. when the B. of M. was published?

Next time we will continue our discussion of the Book of Mormon.