Testimony of Duwayne Anderson
An intellectual wasteland
Author of Farewell to Eden: Coming to terms with Mormonism and science
August 1, 2010
Imagine perusing the Internet one day and stumbling across a website sponsored by the Association for belief in the Easter Bunny (ABEB). Curiously you point your browser to the website and click on the tab that says "testimonies" where you find the heart-felt assurances of true believers telling you that they know the Easter Bunny lives and that true happiness and salvation comes only through knowing and following the one true egg-laying Oryctolagus cuniculus.
What a silly story! Nobody could really believe in something as absurd as the Easter Bunny! People just don't think such nonsense.
Or, do they?
Not long ago a group of "intelligent" people thought a space ship was hiding behind a comet. They committed suicide in hope of getting a ride.1 Other people worship at stains resembling a virgin who supposedly gave birth to the son of god.2 Some folks play the roulette tables in Las Vegas, believing they have special "luck" and can change the outcome of the game by blowing on the dice.
Some are so gullible they even believe an angel "restored" the keys of heaven to a young man who was previously convicted of conning people over his ability to find buried treasure using a magic rock.3 Piously they give 10% of their increase to the church he founded so they can enter the house of the lord and receive eternal blessings and the promise of someday becoming gods and goddesses.
Like those who follow any other crazy idea, the followers of Joseph Smith (the founder of Mormonism; the guy with the magic(1*) rock4 ) hold their beliefs in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Indeed they glory in their devotion to superstition, counting their dogmatism as a sort of specialness that sets them apart from the "world."5 But like the believers in other absurdities LDS testimonies are the canvas on which is painted an intellectual wasteland; a portrait of intellectual poverty. If Mormonism were true, LDS "scholars" would offer evidence. But since it's not true at all, they can only proffer naked assertions wrapped in the trappings of religious piety called "testimony."
(1*) Mormons get upset when elements of their religion are called "magic." "Magic" is undignified, they think, and so they prefer words like "sacred." But no matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, he's still a pig, and Mormons cannot change what Mormonism is by calling it something else. The rocks Smith used were "magic" rocks in exactly the same way that a magician's wand or crystal ball is "magic."
Consider this. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims that the universe is controlled by a clump of matter weighing roughly 1.5 kg 6, housed in the body of an animal that looks exactly like it evolved from a brachiating ape. Our bodies, so the story goes, are patterned after this godly ape7, complete with all the design flaws that plague us. This ape-god is very strange because he designed the universe so that it yields its secrets to scientists who value skepticism, evidence, and rational thought, yet reserves Eternal Life for those that eschew rationalism in favor of superstation and belief without evidence.
Mormonism's conflicts with science are breathtaking.From evolution to geology, astronomy to archeology, Mormon doctrine breaths one absurdity after another,8 but perhaps the greatest absurdity, and the most easily examined, is the Book of Mormon. Mormon leaders have called the Book of Mormon the keystone of their religion9, so when evaluating the legitimacy of this early 19th century American religion it’s worth starting there.
The Book of Mormon claims to be a partial history of the ancient Americans, written by them10 and brought forth by the "power of god.11" Within its pages you can find descriptions of ancient Americans cultivating Old World plants12, smelting steel13, working in iron14, sustaining a vigorous metallurgical society15, employing domesticated animals like horses and cattle,16 and using domesticated horses to pull chariots17. The Book of Mormon also tells us about the weapons of war used by the ancient Americans, and the picture it paints is remarkably similar to that of Roman soldiers18 complete with steel swords19 and brass breastplates.20
But that’s not all. The Book of Mormon also tells us that the ancient Americans were Hebrews21 that used the Hebrew 22 and Egyptian23 languages and practiced the Law of Moses24 until after the crucifixion of Jesus, when they practiced Christianity and had an organized Christian Church like that described in the New Testament25. It makes testable claims about the plants, animals, technologies, languages, religions, and origins of the ancient Americans. It names great kings and prophets, and describes the layout of the land, geological features, and notable cities.
In all these respects the Book of Mormon is wrong. No scholars outside Mormonism give the Book of Mormon an ounce of credibility with regard to its description of ancient America.26
Most of us have an intuitive understanding that the more fantastic the claim the more we demand of the evidence. If I showed you a picture of the Easter Bunny you'd probably assume that it wasn't the real deal, but someone dressed up in a bunny suit. If I showed you a video of a Bambiraptor running through New York City you'd probably chalk it up to special effects. Not until scientists captured the beast(s) and sampled their DNA and fully and skeptically documented the whole affair would most rational people accept the existence of either the Easter Bunny, the green monster under the bed, or Bambiraptor. That's not because we are evil or bad people for not believing, it's simply because that’s how rational people handle evidence in the presence of remarkable claims.
So how should we handle the Book of Mormon? Shouldn't we regard it with at least as much skepticism as the claims of a cult leader that tried to board a space craft tailing the comet Hale-Bopp by committing suicide?
First of all, let's consider the obvious; if we actually find evidence that ancient Americans domesticated horses that wouldn’t be evidence for believing in the Book of Mormon. Neither would it be evidence for the Book of Mormon if we found that ancient Americans really were Hebrews that made a trans-oceanic voyage27 . After all, there's no reason to suppose that someone writing a fictional adventure story about ancient America wouldn't put horses in the story, or Hebrews, for that matter. So if we did find those sorts of things we'd naturally just chalk it up to coincidence, just as we wouldn't believe there's a green monster under the bed if we happened to find some excrement there. After all, it could have been the cat!
Consider the "Lord of the Rings." This fanciful tale includes horses, swords, dragons, and volcanoes. But would anyone accept the literal existence of Samwise Gamgee if we someday find horse bones or the remains of a volcano in New Zealand?
Of course not. We wouldn’t dream of such a silly thing.
And so it goes with the Book of Mormon. Each of its claims about ancient Americans and their animals, plants, technologies, language, and religion is a potential line of evidence against the book, but none of it would be sufficient to suggest the book is true. Even if confirmation of domesticated horses, swine, cattle, and Hebrews existed it would simply constitute "trivial evidence" because the existence of those things would be just as consistent with the notion that Smith invented the Book of Mormon as with the idea he got it from an angel.(2*) And since the angel story is so much more remarkable we use Occam's razor (otherwise known as common sense) and choose the simpler explanation.
And, remember, virtually none of the descriptions regarding ancient America found in the Book of Mormon are true. The ancient Americans didn't domesticate Old World plants, horses, or cattle. They didn't smelt steel or iron. They were not Hebrews28. On all accounts the Book of Mormon's description is wrong, and if it were not such an emotional case for so many devout Mormons that would be the end of it; we wouldn't be arguing the truthfulness of Mormonism anymore than the truthfulness of the Easter Bunny if not for the fact it is a religion that a lot of people get very emotional about.
(2*) Allow me to point out the obvious. When I talk about such evidence I mean within the specific context of the Book of Mormon's description. Some Mormon apologists have been known to point out that horses did exist in ancient America; thus the critics are all just a bunch of dummies (and probably evil as well) and shouldn't be trusted. But what the apologist neglect to make sufficiently clear is that everybody knows that horses evolved in the Western Hemisphere, but those horses went extinct long before the Book of Mormon people supposedly arrived.
Horse may have been hunted by ancient Americans 10,000 years ago (that's thousands of years before Mormonism teaches that Adam and Eve fell and brought death into the world ) and that they were not domesticated as described in the Book of Mormon, or used (as the Book of Mormon asserts) as draft animals. Similar arguments apply regarding the Book of Mormon’s description of domesticated elephants in ancient America. This footnote should serve as a similar note with regard to all the other archaeological nonsense claimed by the Book of Mormon pertaining to ancient Americans living during the time period stipulated in its verses.
So what would make the case for the Book of Mormon?
First, recall that the book's claims are remarkable. After all, angels don't just fly around willy-nilly telling folks about Jesus and leading young boys to golden plates buried in a hill. In fact, there's not a single skeptically verifiable case of it ever happening. So we ought to begin by setting a pretty high standard for the evidence. But we don't. We are kind and generous with our Mormon friends and we set the evidentiary bar low (though not nearly as low as LDS apologists would like!). We simply note that if the Book of Mormon is true we should find some ancient American books that are written in Hebrew or Egyptian (because those were the languages the Book of Mormon says the ancient Americans used) that describe and name the same cities and people we find mentioned in the Book of Mormon. And we should find evidence in ancient America of the animals, plants, tools, religion, language, and origins that the Book of Mormon describes.
The problem for Mormonism is that we should find lots of evidence for those things, but instead we find virtually none; nothing to support the trivial claims in the Book of Mormon (like domesticated chariot-drawing horses29) and no ancient American documents (written in Hebrew and/or Egyptian) with the same proper names for cities, kings, and prophets that we find in the Book of Mormon.
Nada. Zip. The empty set. The Book of Mormon fails the test; it has been weighed in the balances and found wanting30.
For their part, Mormons imagine that ex-Mormons and skeptics wouldn’t join the LDS Church even if there was some non-trivial evidence. It’s a sort of fantasy among Mormons that good people accept the Book of Mormon while the wicked reject it for deeper and more sinister reasons.31
While the faithful may be satisfied with explanations of sin and abandonment by the holy ghost there are some Mormons that would like the church to at least try and put together a cogent argument. So what's an apologist to do? Well, they trot out the witnesses. That's what they do. Witnesses are the staple of con men, cheap television infomercials, and religions like Mormonism precisely because they're so easy to come by, so easily bamboozled, and so generally unreliable.32 Witnesses and "testimonies" serve the same purpose as smoke and mirrors, so that instead of folks questioning the existence of all the missing (but expected) physical evidence they get distracted by the minutia of witnesses that wouldn’t matter regardless of what they say in the face of contrary physical evidence.
The second strategy is to gradually and subtly change the story, making the Book of Mormon less testable and lowering the evidentiary bar for it. You might think that changing a 180-year-old book isn't even an option, let alone a core strategy; how could the apologists change the story without anyone catching on?
As it turns out, it's a relatively easy thing to do. Of course I don't mean that the apologists are literally rewriting the text of the Book of Mormon (though sometimes they do33), they're simply rewriting what people think the Book of Mormon says. It's easy to do since most people (even many Mormons) have never actually read the book; understandable since the book is rather dry reading. Mark Twain called it chloroform in print.34 That’s a good thing for the apologists since it means most people will not know what the real story is, and can easily be persuaded that the Book of Mormon says things it doesn't, and doesn’t say things it really says in plain print35.
Let's look at a simple example. According to the Book of Mormon, when Lehi (a prophet from Jerusalem) arrived in the New World with his family (aboard a boat they built from timber), they found the land utterly uninhabited:
"Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord ... And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that ... if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever." [2 Nephi 1: 5-9]
Notice the salient points:
1. Lehi was supposedly speaking by the "spirit" (i.e., this was not simply his observation or opinion, but a direct revelation from god)
2. The land was an "inheritance" for Lehi’s posterity
3. The land had been kept "as yet" (at the time of Lehi's arrival, approximately 600 BCE) from the knowledge of other nations
4. It would continue to be kept from the knowledge of others as long as Lehi's posterity was "righteous"
5. It was necessary that it be kept from the knowledge of other nations so that it would not be "overrun"
6. Any other people who might come after Lehi arrived there would be brought, as Lehi was, by "the hand of god"
The picture is clear and unambiguous; according to the Book of Mormon the "Promised Land" didn't have any other inhabitants when Lehi arrived.36 You'd think such a clear statement in the Book of Mormon would be unassailable, but LDS apologists know their goose is cooked. They know that if the Book of Mormon means what it says (which is exactly how Mormons and their prophets read it for over 100 years) it's an easily exposed fraud. They are desperate to find a way to make it un-testable and they begin by trying to hide Lehi's posterity. So they simply deny what's described in the first chapter of 2 Nephi. Take for example Robert R. Bennett (a prolific Mormon apologist) who baldly asserts
"Nothing in the Book of Mormon precludes many people or nations in many parts of the Western Hemisphere sharing the continent with the Lehites. Second Nephi 1:8 only speaks of the land being kept from the knowledge of other nations. This prophecy doesn't even preclude people from living in the land of Lehi's landing, only nations37.
As Bennett's last and wonderfully incoherent sentence illustrates, the apologists have capitulated on the text in the Book of Mormon, and revelations from Mormon prophets, seers, and revelators.38 Now they claim that the Book of Mormon is only the history of a small (a very, very small) group of Hebrews that intermingled with the non-Christian natives that were already there; and thus all evidence of their language, religion, animals, plants, steel, and DNA39 has been hopelessly swallowed up by the millions of native American descendants of such groups as the Maya and Aztec.40
Keeping in mind the apologetic claim that the Book of Mormon describes only a "small incursion" into pre-existing Native American populations it's worth quoting the Book of Mormon again, so as to contrast what it says with the way Mormon apologists are re-writing the story:
Heleman 3:8 "And it came to pass that they (the Lehites in the Book of Mormon) did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east."
Heleman 11:20 "And thus it did come to pass that the people of Nephi began to prosper again in the land, and began to build up their waste places, and began to multiply and spread, even until they did cover the whole face of the land, both on the northward and on the southward, from the sea west to the sea east."
Mosiah 27:6 "And there began to be much peace again in the land; and the people began to be very numerous, and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth, yea, on the north and on the south, on the east and on the west, building large cities and villages in all quarters of the land."
Lest anyone think the Book of Mormon engages in simple hyperbole, look at some of the casualty figures from wars that it describes:
Ether 15:2 "He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people41, 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."
Mormon 6: 10-15 "And it came to pass that my men were hewn down, yea, even my ten thousand who were with me, … and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow, when the … the ten thousand of my people who were hewn down, being led in the front by me. And we also beheld the ten thousand of my people who were led by my son Moroni. And behold, the ten thousand of Gidgiddonah had fallen, and he also in the midst. And Lamah had fallen with his ten thousand; and Gilgal had fallen with his ten thousand; and Limhah had fallen with his ten thousand; and Jeneum had fallen with his ten thousand; and Cumenihah, and Moronihah, and Antionum, and Shiblom, and Shem, and Josh, had fallen with their ten thousand each. And it came to pass that there were ten more who did fall by the sword, with their ten thousand each; yea, even all my people, save it were those twenty and four who were with me, and also a few who had escaped into the south countries, and a few who had deserted over unto the Lamanites, had fallen; and their flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth."
Small group indeed!
At this point it's worth asking a simple question: "If the Book of Mormon is true, then why do the apologists lie about what it says? Why would apologists like Robert R. Bennett and Michael R. Ash deliberately mislead people regarding Book of Mormon claims if they really believe it is true?"
That question is very offensive to Mormon because it so succinctly frames the graft and deception by the LDS "intellectual" community and illustrates the dreadful situation that LDS apologists know they're in. After all, no true believer willingly lies about what their scriptures say - it is an action of desperation.
Realizing their failure, some apologist retreat to the argument that, whether true or false, the LDS Church still does good things. And it does. Few organizations are universally, totally, and absolutely corrupt. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is no exception; it isn't all bad. But that's no excuse for lying, and otherwise carrying on the way the apologists do. (3*) Nor is it a valid reason to ignore the bad, or to stop pressuring the LDS Church to reform and improve.
(3*) While I take a rather heavy-handed approach with the apologists, I'm more charitable with average Mormons. Mormons are good people, just like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists are good people. Your average Mormon is trying to live a good life and doing the best they can. Like the rest of us they love their families and are decent and carrying fathers and mothers. They are, sadly, victims of Mormonism more than they are products of Mormonism.
Thanks to ex-Mormons and critics the LDS Church is a better organization today that it was in times past.(4*) The church is less hurtful to women than it was decades ago when it fought so diligently to kill the Equal Rights Amendment. And the church has made great strides (though much still remains to be done) in extricating racism from its body of doctrine and policy. With additional help from critics and ex-Mormons the LDS Church may even soften its inhumane attitudes towards gays and lesbians, and may yet stop interfering in the marriages of part-member families and otherwise engaging in policies that encourage divorce and strife in those families.
(4*) Faithful Mormons, by definition, "sustain" their priesthood leaders and would never disparage their decisions. If you find a Mormon that criticizes the church’s decisions you are meeting an apostate in the making. Thus true Mormons never effect change in the church. All change in the LDS Church is the result of outside pressure, typically from ex-Mormons and apostates. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owes a debt of gratitude to these brave souls for making the church a much better organization than it otherwise would be without them.
Mormonism is a patriarchal religion in which the husband is expected to be a priest and elder to his family. In the LDS religion fathers are expected to give priesthood blessings to their children and wives, baptize their children, and ordain their sons to the priesthood. Temple marriages are only allowed for members of the church that sustain the prophet of the church and pay 10% of their increase to the organization. In such an environment non-Mormon fathers and ex-Mormon fathers find themselves ostracized and cast out. The Church through its policies and politics drives these families to divorce, and does incalculable harm to the children and spouses.
This is not an accidental situation. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organizes itself in this manner so as to maintain control over individuals, and fathers in particular, by using their families as leverage. Care to speak out against the church’s policies? Don’t do it or you risk losing your temple privileges and quite possibly your family.
Little wonder, then, that few Mormon intellectuals find the courage to accept the obvious incompatibility between Mormonism and science.
While Mormonism is silly, its doctrines absurd, and the Book of Mormon an abject fraud, our hearts go out to the unwilling intellectuals trapped in the institution, particularly those that were instructed to bear their testimonies or lose their jobs at BYU. Many of them are well aware of the absurdity of the church into which they were born, but at risk of losing their families (and their pensions) they maintain the "faith" while muttering obscenities in the temple, under their breath, as the "Brethren" jerk the rings in their noses and instruct them to bow their heads and say "yes42."
1. The Heaven’s Gate cult. (back)
2. Sometimes the image is in burnt toast. Stories of people seeing the Virgin Mary abound. In Chicago, 2005, the faithful found an image of the Virgin Mary in an underpass.. (back)
3. This scoundrel, named Joseph Smith, founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (back)
4. David Whitmer, one of the - "witnesses" Smith picked to - "testify" of the Book of Mormon, described it this way on page 12 of his book An Address to All Believers in Christ: "I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man." (back)
5. Sometimes we become impatient because the world is converted so slowly. In our impatience, we wonder why God does not reveal himself in majesty and glory, that the whole world might instantly be brought to their knees to worship him. But when we think intelligently about the matter, we understand that God’s slow, patient way of converting the world is best. When people are required to believe largely upon the testimony of others, they are compelled to grip the threads of truth firmly and hold on until they can develop strong faith. God’s plan makes it necessary for us to nurture, cultivate, and enlarge our faith. In this long, patient process of developing our faith, we acquire fortitude and strength of character. These sterling qualities are of eternal worth. [Elder Stone, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, - The Constant Exercise of Our Faith,? Ensign, July 1973] (back)
6. Interestingly the brain of this man god weighs less than that of a sperm whale. Hmmm Troublesome. Perhaps some Mormon intellectual will try to "solve" the problem by positing that it’s made of some super-duper dense material. Never mind. Quantum physics and chaos theory prohibit such a brain controlling every aspect of the universe no matter how large or dense it might be. (back)
7. This follows directly from the rather unique LDS doctrine that god is a glorified man, who was once a mere mortal on an earth like ours: "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us." [D&C 130:22] (back)
8. Books can and have been written on the scientific absurdity of Mormonism. I've written one myself, titled "Farewell to Eden: Coming to terms with Mormonism and science." (back)
9. Ezra Taft Benson, "The Book of Mormon - Keystone of Our Religion, Ensign, Nov 1986. (back)
10. Earlier in their history Mormons were very bullish on the Book of Mormon as a history of ancient America, but as time has dragged on and nothing from the scientific literature appears in support of any non-trivial Book of Mormon claims, Mormon apologists have begun back peddling. Today they will sometimes argue that the Book of Mormon is about "religion," and not history; in spite of the fact that the book obviously contains historical accounts such as war campaigns, names of kings, political intrigues, etc. One clear indication that the Book of Mormon is a fraud is this persistent need among the apologists to misrepresent what it says. For although the Book of Mormon does say that other records (never produced, of course) contain most of the history, the Book of Mormon does, in fact, contain some history. And upon reading the text it becomes abundantly clear that it contains more than enough history to test it. (back)
11. See 2 Nephi chapter 27. http://scriptures.lds.org/en/2_ne/27 (back)
12. 1 Nephi 18:24 "And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.?"http://scriptures.lds.org/en/1_ne/18/24#24 (back)
13. Ether 7:9 "Wherefore, he came to the hill Ephraim, and he did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of steel for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor, and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib." http://scriptures.lds.org/en/ether/7/9#9 (back)
14. Ether 10:23 "23 And they did work in all manner of ore, and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; and they did dig it out of the earth; wherefore, they did cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. And they did work all manner of fine work."
15. 2 Nephi 5:15 "And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance." http://scriptures.lds.org/en/2_ne/5/15#15 (back)
16. 1 Nephi 18:25 "And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of bore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper." http://scriptures.lds.org/en/1_ne/18/25#25 (back)
17. Alma 18: 9 "And they said unto him: Behold, he is feeding thy horses. Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi; for there had been a great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land." http://scriptures.lds.org/en/alma/18/9 (back)
18. Commissioned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Arnold Friberg painted a series of images depicting events described in the Book of Mormon. One of those events is a war scene showing an army led by a powerfully built man astride a white horse leading a contingent of ancient Americans armed with swords and spears. (back)
19. Ether 7:9 "Wherefore, he came to the hill Ephraim, and he did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of steel for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor, and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib." http://scriptures.lds.org/en/ether/7/9#9 (back)
20. Mosiah 8:10 "And behold, also, they have brought breastplates, which are large, and they are of brass and of copper, and are perfectly sound." http://scriptures.lds.org/en/mosiah/8/10#10 (back)
21. 1 Nephi 5:14 "And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine." http://scriptures.lds.org/en/1_ne/5/14,16#14 (back)
22. Mormon 9:33 "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." http://scriptures.lds.org/en/morm/9/33#33 (back)
23. Mormon 9:32 "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." http://scriptures.lds.org/en/morm/9/32#32 (back)
24. Alma 25:15 "Yea, and they did keep the law of Moses; for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet, for it was not all fulfilled. But notwithstanding the law of Moses, they did look forward to the coming of Christ, considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming, and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them." http://scriptures.lds.org/en/alma/25/15 (back)
25. http://scriptures.lds.org/en/3_ne/12 (back)
26. Michael D. Coe, a prominent Mesoamerican archaeologist and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University, has worked extensively with Mormon apologists as they searched for evidence of the Book of Mormon. Dr. Coe writes, "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 historicity of The Book of Mormon, and I would like to state that there are quite a few Mormon archaeologists who join this group". [Coe, Michael D. (Summer 1973). "Mormons and Archaeology: An Outside View". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.] (back)
27. The idea that Native Americans were somehow related to the Hebrews was part of the common folklore of Joseph Smith’s day. "View of the Hebrews"," for example (an 1823 book written by Ethan Smith, argues that Native Americans were descended from the Hebrews. (back)
28. The ancient Americans emigrated to North and South America through Siberia roughly 12 thousand years ago (the earliest date might actually be several thousand years before that). This is the general consensus of scientists based on a broad range of evidence, including analysis of bone/teeth structure, tools, language, geological timing/opportunity, and (of course) DNA. One could write an entire book on this subject. (back)
29. Alma 18:9 "And they said unto him: Behold, he is feeding thy horses. Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi; for there had been a great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land." http://scriptures.lds.org/en/alma/18/9 (back)
30. Daniel 5:27 (back)
31. Elder John K. Carmack of the First Quorum of the Seventy wrote: "As I have watched beloved friends and family lose their faith, I have tried to identify major causes.
1. Arrogance, or pride. One of the three dangers I shall mention is arrogance, or pride. Intellectual pursuits, financial success, positions of power, and other achievements, in and of themselves neither morally bad nor good, sometimes lead to pride and away from humble dependence on the Lord. Jacob cautioned that "to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God." (2 Ne. 9:29.) Financial and political power can also be seductive and corrupting influences. It helps to remember and emulate the meekness of Enoch, Moses, and Spencer Kimball.
2. Sin. Testimonies are weakened by sin, especially sexual transgressions. The sinner sometimes blames someone else, rejects the gospel, and flees. A plant growing in rocky soil withers quickly. Serious transgression, then, is the second danger to our testimonies. The road back includes removing the rocks, turning over and enriching the soil, overcoming the sin, and resisting further temptations. Increasing numbers are returning to the Church by repenting of their sins. They seldom completely lose their testimonies.
3. Substitution. The final danger I shall call substitution. Some fine and capable people become so committed to science, philosophy, history, art, music, athletics, professional pursuits, intellectual hobbies, or recreation that these interests replace the simple core values, covenants, and doctrines of the gospel. These pursuits become a substitute religion and the governing force in their lives."
["The Soil and Roots of Testimony"] Ensign, November 1988] (back)
32. There are many excellent studies illustrating the unreliable nature of witnesses. I list here a few of them (there are many, many more):
"The Problem with Eyewitness Testimony,? by Barbara Tversky, Professor of Psychology"
"The perception and memory of witnesses," by Dillard S. Gardner
"Foibles of Witness Memory For Traumatic/High Profile Events," Deborah Davis et. al. (back)
33. In 1981 the LDS Church rewrote doctrine in the Book of Mormon by systematically changing prior references to "White and delightsome" to "pure and delightsome." This was coincidental with other doctrinal change that reversed decades of racism, including the church's prior prohibition against Blacks holding the priesthood. (back)
34. "All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few, except the elect have seen it or at least taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me. It is such a pretentious affair and yet so slow, so sleepy, such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print." [Mark Twain] (back)
35. As an example, FAIR once published an article by an LDS apologist asserting that the Book of Mormon never mentions steel swords. In an online debate with a Mormon apologist, the apologist repeated this assertion over and over again. He was certain that the critics had written into the Book of Mormon something that wasn’t really there. (back)
36. A point on which to judge the Book of Mormon false, since the Western Hemisphere was full of the nations circa 600 BCE when Lehi supposedly uttered his decree by the power of the holy ghost.. And, of course, the original inhabitants of the New World were not "Christians," either. But according to the Book of Mormon the only people that would be led to the Promise Land (New World) would be those that worshipped Jesus. See also Ether 2: 7-12. (back)
37. FARMS review: volume 18, issue 2 (back)
38. Until just a few decades ago Mormon prophets routinely referred to all Native Americans as Lamanites (a group from the Book of Mormon). The church even had an institutionalized program called the Lamanite Placement Program, or Indian Student Placement Program, in which Native Americans were removed from their families, tribes, and native lands and placed in LDS homes to be indoctrinated. It was part of a program by the LDS Church to help speed up a prophecy in the Book of Mormon to the effect that the Lamanites would be converted to the true church, and when they did, they’d become "white and delightsome" Note that this is yet another example of how the LDS Church is re-writing the Book of Mormon, this time literally. Today the text reads "pure and a delightsome" yet for over 100 years it was sustained with the wording "white and delightsome" until it was rewritten by the church in 1981. (back)
39. It's1 Nephi 18: 24 an argument born of desperation, particularly with regard to the plants. Invasive species are a persistent problem virtually anytime one group of humans moves into a new region. And the Book of Mormon claims the Lehites arrived with seeds and from the Old world, that they planted and which grew abundantly (1 Nephi 18:24). If the Book of Mormon is true the Spaniards should have discovered a New World covered in wheat, and overrun with (at the least) feral horses and cattle. But they found no such thing. Mormon apologists are thus left scratching their collective heads and trying to hide the DNA as well as the feral animals and invasive species described in the Book of Mormon. (back)
40. "According to most LDS scholars, the Lehites and Mulekites would have been small incursions into much larger existing populations, probably of Asiatic origin." ["Is an Historical Book of Mormon Incompatible with DNA Science?", FAIR pamphlet, Michael R. Ash] (back)
41. Notice how the Book of Mormon author clearly and unambiguously describes these war casualties as "his people," the people belonging to the nation of the prophet writing the book. (back)
42. Those who have attended the temple ceremony will see the humor and multiple meanings in this closing sentence. (back)
Duwayne Anderson holds a BS in physics from Brigham Young University. He is the author of numerous technical articles and the co-author of “Troubleshooting Optical-fiber Networks.” He has worked for over 30 years in the fields of optics and fiber optics and is the inventor of 30 US & foreign patents. Duwayne is currently the chief technologist at a company that designs and manufactures fiber-optic sensors.
Author of Farewell to Eden: Coming to terms with Mormonism and science