Book of Mormon

We are taught in the church that the Book of Mormon is the “keystone of our religion” and that the truthfulness of the religion depends on it, and on whether it is true or not. However, there are many issues with the Book of Mormon that call into question its truthfulness. Issues such as:

  • Known translation errors from the King James version of the Bible appearing in the Book of Mormon (which is supposed to be an ancient text that long pre-dates the King James time period)
  • Biblical passages in the Book of Mormon that match passages in the King James Bible, even though those same passages are corrected in the Joseph Smith translation of the King James Bible (shouldn’t the Book of Mormon contain Joseph Smith’s correctly-translated Bible passages and not the ones he saw fit to correct?)
  • The Book of Mormon claims that the Lamanites came from Jerusalem and, until 2006, the church taught that they were the principal ancestors of the Native Americans (note: my Book of Mormon has this wording on its introduction page). However, it has been proven with DNA that Native Americans originated from Asia and came to the Americas via the Bering Strait (connecting Russia to Alaska) and not via sailing from Jerusalem, as the Book of Mormon claims. DNA studies completely debunk the idea that Native Americans originated from Israel. Since this DNA evidence was discovered, the church now says that the Lamanites are among the ancestors of the Native Americans. This is a huge shift in the church’s claims and past teachings on the origins of the Native Americans.
  • There are many items mentioned throughout the Book of Mormon that did not exist in the area or time period that the BOM supposedly took place (i.e., horses, cattle, oxen, sheep, goats, elephants, wheels, chariots, wheat, silk, steel, iron). These are called “anachronisms.” It would be like reading a book that supposedly took place in the 1800s, but the characters were all using cell phones and watching TV.
  • There is absolutely no archaeological evidence for any of the people, places or events in the Book of Mormon. Zero. These are major civilizations of millions of people, huge battles with massive casualties (230,000 deaths in the last battle alone), and yet not one shred of evidence has ever been discovered to support any of it. This just does not make sense from a scientific, historical, and archeological perspective.
  • Geographical names and places in the Book of Mormon are strikingly similar to names and places of the area where Joseph Smith lived. This seems oddly coincidental.
  • Several texts that were prevalent in Joseph Smith’s day include similar and even identical themes, stories and names of people/places to themes/stories/names found in the Book of Mormon.
    • Captain Kidd stories (which include Moroni and Camora, like Hill Cumorah, which was spelled Camorah in the original BOM edition)
    • View of the Hebrews, a book published in 1823 (7 years before the BOM) in the county next to Joseph Smith’s county. It was written by a pastor named Ethan Smith, who led a church attended by Oliver Cowdery, who later helped Joseph Smith “translate” and then publish the Book of Mormon. View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon both contain dozens of strikingly similar themes, events, items and people.
    • The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain, an 1819 textbook written for New York state school children (like Joseph Smith), also contains many similar themes and storylines to ones found in the Book of Mormon – even exact phrases and wording. 
    • The First Book of Napoleon, a book published in 1809, is another one that contains many of the same or similar themes, stories and wording as the Book of Mormon.
    • Although not mentioned by the CES Letter, another text that pre-dates the Book of Mormon and has striking similarities to it is The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) and other pamphlets written by John Bunyan, who was a well-known author in the late seventeenth century (for example, Bunyan’s story about a character named Faithful is basically the same story as that of Abinadi in the Book of Mormon and even uses several of exactly the same phrases)
  • The Book of Mormon has had over 100,000 changes made to it since its original 1830 edition. These are not just minor or insignificant changes either, but changes that affect actual doctrine and theology. This is curious given that the Book of Mormon is taught in church to be a direct translation from God and the “most correct book on earth.”

Given all of this, it seems clear to me that the Book of Mormon was not an ancient historical record translated by Joseph Smith from ancient golden plates, but rather a fictional book written by Joseph Smith (and probably others, such as Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery) with the help of several books he had access to and ideas that were commonly discussed at the time.

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