Book of Mormon
What is the Book of Mormon? From an LDS perspective, it is the most correct book in the world. It tells the story of the Nephites’ journey from the Middle East to the Americas. It has stories similar to those found in the Old Testament with battles and cultural history. It tells the story of Jesus’ visit to the Americas after he got done in Israel.
The Book of Mormon may be appealing to people for a few reasons. First, the Book of Mormon is unique. It is new and exciting information. It is well known only by an exclusive group. Second, The Book of Mormon is very similar to the most popular book in the world- the Bible. If the Bible is an inspiration to people, then the Book of Mormon would be another extension of that inspiration. Third, for those people living in the Americas, The Book of Mormon brings biblical type concepts closer to home. Fourth, they are easy to access and free.
In the eyes of LDS the Bible had become severely corrupted by the 1800s. The Bible is still a useful and inspired document to them, but only as long as it is translated correctly. How does the Mormon know what is translated correctly? The Book of Mormon became the new measuring rod by which the correctness of the Bible was gauged. Teachings by the church prophet could also supercede what was written in the Bible.
The Bible is a collection of 66 books written by about 40 authors over 1500 years in which all of the stories collaborate together to form one ultimate story. The reliability of the Book of Mormon lies solely on the sincerity of one man- Joseph Smith. Therefore, it is necessary for me to critically run through the events leading up to the final document known as the Book of Mormon.
What better place to go first then the first vision? The first vision is a very big deal to the LDS. The first vision went through a couple revisions until its current form. As it stands now, Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in their flesh. These 2 commissioned Joseph Smith to be the prophet of the restoration of the true church. This is certainly huge calling for a boy to have. What would qualify as something to falsify this first vision? Would it not be falsified if it was unbiblical? If it was contrary to the gospel it said it promoted? The vision is not biblical because the Bible teaches that God the Father cannot be seen. John 1:18 says that no man has seen God at any time. First Timothy 6:16 says that God dwells “in unapproachable light which none of mankind has seen or can see”. There is absolutely no support in the Bible for the Father having a body of flesh and bones. John 4:24 says that God is spirit. In Exodus 33:20 God (the Heavenly Father) says “no one can see me and live” (seeing flesh and bones wouldn’t kill somebody.)
The second key moment in the development of the Book of Mormon is the gold plates encounter with the angel Moroni. Historically, scripture has always come as holy men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:21). Even if the encounter with the “angel” Moroni were real, the Bible still warns about receiving “another gospel” from a supposed angel (Gal. 1:8). It also warns about adding to Revelation (and Scripture by extension) (Rev. 22:18).
What the plates were told to be also presents a challenge to reason. They were gold. Joseph Smith told people the dimensions of the plates were 6″ x 6″ x 8″- which is one sixth of a cubic foot. Since gold is 1204 pounds per cubic foot, that would make the plates roughly 200 pounds. Joseph Smith supposedly tucked the plates under an arm and in a pillowcase. He ran three miles like that, heroically fighting off attackers. The immense weight of the plates is somehow entirely overlooked in his story. There was no claim of supernatural strength, which Joseph Smith normally seemed eager to point out.
Joseph Smith was the only person to claim to physically see the plates. The other “witnesses” saw them “in spirit”. The plates were conveniently taken back into heaven because God apparently wanted to make it extremely difficult to find evidence to support the authenticity of the original Book of Mormon and gold plates.
God did this another way also by eliminating (or allowing to be eliminated) all archaeological evidence for places named in the Book of Mormon. Large battles left no trace. Even animals that were named can not be found (or were not found in that time frame).
The Book of Mormon plagiarizes 25 chapters from the Bible. Certain people tell the same event twice in the Bible, but never is an entire chapter word for word the same- in less than perfect King James English. This is obvious plagiarism. Remember, that the LDS believe the Bible has been corrupted, yet they must believe that these 25 chapters are not corrupted (otherwise the Book of Mormon would be corrupted too). Where are the chapters that are similar, but with corrections to the Bible’s corruptions? Not there.
Here’s a summary of my view of the Book of Mormon: An adventurous boy with a vivid imagination intercepted a Solomon Spaulding story (Google it, I won’t go into detail here). To bring credit and legitimacy to himself, he fabricated a heroic story- which included errors, inconsistencies, and oversights- about how he received the gold plates. The Book of Mormon itself is largely similar to what you might read in the Bible, yet with plagiarism, some contradictions (2 Nephi 25:23, Moroni 10:32), and zero archaeological support. Later writings and teachings by Joseph Smith make me believe that he didn’t pay much attention to the teachings and doctrine of the Book of Mormon because of blatant contradictions. The Book of Mormon isn’t as heretical as many people think, but it is a complete fraud. The “prophet” that it came from is also a complete fraud and a deceiver (I could go on about his character).
If there is any evidence for the authenticity and reliability of the Book of Mormon (besides saying “I just have faith”/ burning in the bosom) I would like to hear it. Let’s set our focus on true Scripture, the Bible, tested and tried again and again. The Bible is consistent, powerful, prophetic, accurate, and historical. We would do well to know God through it and live according to His teachings.