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Posted by: puzzled ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 11:33AM

Hi everyone. I've been lurking aroud here for several months taking it all in. I guess I'm what you'd call TBM but having serious doubts.
I still have some questions to work through that you guys may have already thought about.
If JS made it all up..
1) Who wrote the BOM? Could he really have written such a big piece himself in a few months, especially as his early writings/letters seem very poor in comparison. I dont buy the theory that Sidney Rigdon was involved as he wasnt on the scene for ages after. How did he dictate it so precisely if he was making it up as he went?
2) The 8 and 3 witnesses. Were they all in on it? If so, surely one of them would have leaked it at some point when they were all exe'd from the church and had no reason not to. If they were duped, what did they see? Why say they saw angels and plates if they didnt?
3) JS's family.. they must have known him and how he spent his time well enough to know if he was making it all up.. did none of them say "Stop this nonsense Joseph!"? Did his parents really believe him? Were they all duped or part of it as well?
I know no-one can answer these questions for sure, but I'd appreciate some views!

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Posted by: 3DGuy ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 11:41AM

1. I always end up coming back to Tolkien when I hear this one. "How could someone make all this up!", mormons claim. Yet Tolkien was able to create an amazing world, complete with three languages written and spoken. Far more than the BoM ever came up with.
2. Yes, they were in on it. Plus, most of them were related to Smith one way or another from what I understand. Witnesses don't always equate to something being true. See James Strange.
3. From what I've read, I get the impression that his whole family was into the "magic beans" scene. Just my take of course.

You'll get some good answers to these questions I'd think. You've got some well educated and informed people 'round these parts.

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Posted by: sisterexmo ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 03:16PM

Their testimony strikes me as what Mark Twain called 'Caddy evidence'.

If a golfer claims that he made a spectacular hole in one, and the only proof is what his paid caddy says - that's not scientifically exceptable.

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Posted by: another lurker ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 11:47AM

I think the book An Insider's View of Mormon Origins by Grant Palmer answers your questions. That book helped me understand many of my questions.

For example I did not know about the rock in the hat translation process until 5 years ago. The lights came on high beam in my mind very quickly after that realization.

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Posted by: JoD3:360 ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 11:49AM

Could he really have written such a big piece himself in a few months, especially as his early writings/letters seem very poor in comparison

Buy yourself a replica copy of the 1830 Book of Mormon.

Read it and ask yourself that question again.

The copy that we today is heavily edited for grammar and spelling and looks nothing at all like the 1830 edition.

When you read the original and see the grammatical errors alone, you can say "why yes. An uneducated farm boy did write this."

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Posted by: Heresy ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 11:52AM

JS had his whole life to think up the Book of Mormon. There are lots of better books written by younger people. His mother wrote about how he used to entertain them when he was young by telling stories at night about the local Indians.

There is a theory that Sidney Rigdon stole a manuscript from Solomon Spaulding and colluded with Oliver Cowdery and Smith. It's quite fascinating if you get around to it.

Edit to add:

These questions have been addressed by really smart people in a very thorough manner. Once one realizes it is all a fraud, the pieces fit together very nicely. If you want more detail, check out sites like i4m and packham:
(scroll down to Mormonism)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/29/2010 12:13PM by Heresy.

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Posted by: sisterexmo ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 02:49PM

Too bad that most of the other women he approached fell for the line.

If they had, it would have probably kept the filthy abuse of polygamy out of the U.S. How many women and children have been tormented by one man's depravity

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Posted by: MJ ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 11:55AM

Cults lead by a group of conspirators are known to exist and have existed in the past.

The basic concept of conspiracy covers it all.

As for "How did [Sidney Rigdon] dictate it so precisely if he was making it up as he went?" Um, it wasn't dictated "precisely". If it were dictated "precisely", then JS could have re-dictated those lost 116 pages.

as far as "If so, surely one of them would have leaked it at some point when they were all exe'd from the church and had no reason not to." You have no knowledge of what reasons they may or may not have had in saying what they said about the BoM. For all you know, when they were "exed", they may have been promised a huge reward for being silenced, threatened with death if they spoke or one of many other possible explanations.

"JS's family" ah, how many families deny that the alcoholic member of the family is alcoholic, or deny that an abusive husband beats his wife? Family dysfunction can hide the truth about one members lies and harmful behavior.

Your questions are easily addressed by looking at common examples of human nature or by close examination of the translation story.

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Posted by: copolt ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 12:12PM

These issues have been covered so many times on this site but I`ll just refer to his family`s response to his supposed 1st. vision.

JSH 21-23 Smith is "Suffering persecution which continued to increase."
JSH 27-28 (3 years later) "Suffering severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men....(even) by those who ought to have been my friends."

It is clear that if everyone else knew then his family must have too.

So, even though God told him that he was FORBIDDEN to join any other church because "all the other creeds were an abomination", his mother, sister and two brothers joined the Presbyterian church in 1823, some three years after the They were still members till circa 1828. There is some evidence that Smith tried to associate with the Methodist church too.

I can only conclude that not only did his family not really believe his story but neither did he.

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Posted by: JoD3:360 ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 12:25PM

Nor did they know about it.
Though they WERE telling everyone about the plates and the Treasure Guardian who also appeared as a little old man, a tall man, and a bloody Spaniard with his throat cut. As per treasure legend.

Here are a couple links to read- but one thingf is for sure- If Joseph was persecuted by all, his mother never once mentioned it, nor did the papers. AND as of 1831, nobody from friend, foe, family or newspaper ever mentioned the First Vision, or of his perecution until he started saying that the treasure plates were now a Gold Bible.
------------------ B

The documents printed in whole or in part below are designed primarily to exhibit the ideas concerning the origins of the Mormon church held by Joseph Smith, his followers, and those who rejected his claims before 1835. These documents are both pro and con in character, but two things in particular they share: their undoubted contemporaneity and their entire lack of information that Joseph Smith had a visitation in 1820 from the Father and the Son.


The spirit who entered so decisively into the story is said to be the same spirit Walters the magician once attempted to propitiate with the sacrifice of a fowl. An imposing personage, the spirit was difficult to describe. A "little old man with a long beard" in one account, in another he was a very large, tall man dressed in an ancient suit of clothes covered with blood.16 Now he appeared "like a Spaniard, having a long beard down over his breast, with his throat cut from ear to ear and the blood streaming down"17 at another time he had something of the aspect of a Quaker, being dressed in the plainest of clothes.18 In this same description he was identified as "the spirit of one of the Saints that was on this continent, previous to its being discovered by Columbus,"19 and not long after, so far from being a mere spirit, he was recognized to be an actual angel of the Lord.20

17. See the letter to James T. Cobb written from Harmony, Pennsylvania, April 23, 1879, by two of Emma's cousins, Hiel and Joseph Lewis. This was Joseph's description of the spirit in talking to their father shortly after the translation of the plates began. William Alexander Linn, The Story of the Mormons (New York, 1902), p. 28. The Spaniard may have figured in the story as a result of the digging in the Susquehanna country in 1825. Frederick G. Mather, "The Early days of Mormonism," Lippincott's Magazine 26 (Aug. 1880): 200, mentions a "headless Spaniard" said to have guarded the treasure Josiah Stowell sought.

18. This was Lucy Smith's description as given to Abigail Harris, herself a Quaker, early in 1828. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, p. 253.

19. Ibid. See also the affidavit by Willard Chase in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, pp. 242-43, where the messenger is identified as "the spirit of the prophet who wrote this book."

20. The earliest printed reference to this apparition describes it still differently as "the spirit of the Almighty." See the Rochester Advertiser and Telegraph, Aug. 31, 1829, quoting the Palmyra Freeman of a day or so before.


Nevertheless, the fact that the book was the work of God, that he, Martin Harris, was an instrument in the hands of the Lord, was the consideration which moved him most powerfully. In this fact Joseph could find matter for meditation. Men could be moved by their religious beliefs as by no other means, for religious faith dignified and enobled what it touched. A man who gave him five dollars to search out in his peepstone the whereabouts of a lost cow was discontent and wanted his money back if the cow could not be found. A man who gave him fifty dollars to do the work of the Lord rejoiced in his soul over his own generosity and counted the money well spent.

Joseph seems to have been quick to see the implication of this truth, and ordered his life accordingly. Not folk magic but religion should henceforth be his sphere, his plates of gold found to comprise, in all truth, a golden bible.

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Posted by: imaworkinonit ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 12:17PM

I guess I'm thinking you are asking the wrong questions. COULD he have written it? Obviously somebody did. But the core question is about the CONTENT of the book.

Is it a real history of people on the American Content? Or is it a fantasy?

COULD those things really have happened?

Could Jaredites REALLY cross the ocean in WOODEN submarines? With cattle and HONEYBEES on board? For a year?

Could Nephi really cut off Laban's head, and THEN steal his clothes (without getting blood on them?) and raid his treasury, speaking with his voice and deceiving his closest servant?

How likely is it that the Jaredites and whoever they were fighting would kill each other off to the LAST TWO MEN, who just HAPPEN to be the leaders, and somebody watching to tell the story. And that SHIZ's head gets cut off, and then he pushes himself up to gasp for air? HUH?

What about all of the items that are mentioned in the B of M that didn't EXIST in the americas during the time frame of the B of M? I'm talking about Horses, wheels, steel swords, wheat, barley, sheep, silk, grapes (for wine), etc. These items come up over and over in the book, but didn't exist at the time. And the B of M doesn't MENTION things that WERE common at that time . . . like corn and other crops, and animals that were indigeonous to the Americas.

No matter WHO wrote it, it's fantastical hogwash. But if you do read up on it, you may find that it weaves in many things of interest during JS's time . . . revival meetings (King Benjamin's address), explaining native american mounds in the area, treasure seeking, backlash against Masonry (secret combinations), and secular thinking (Korihor). There are also themes that hark back to the revolutionary war and America as the promised land (Captain Moroni being a bit like George Washington. Look up "Book of Mormon Torys" for more info on this and phrases lifted out of writings common during the Revolutionary War). And let's not forget plagerism from the KJV of the bible.

The B of M is 19th century fiction wrapped up in biblical Elizabethan English. And not very good fiction at that.

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Posted by: ziller ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 12:24PM

The fiction section of Puzzled’s local library is full of books where the author made the story up as it was being written – with superior results.

When Ziller, preparing for his mission, read the BoM for the first time, it was obvious to him that it was “made up”.

That immediately led Ziller right out of Mormonism without any knowledge whatsoever about any of the other evidence – Book of Abraham, plagiarisms, multiple 1st vision accounts, etc.

Ziller thinks Smith had notes or a rough outline that he referred to, embellished and then destroyed - which is why he was so upset when he lost the 116 pages.

About the witnesses – do not underestimate the power of Smith’s ability to manipulate people – primarily with his charisma and later with his wealth and power.

This and the fact that his friends and family were probably “in on it” would explain their complicity.


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Posted by: SusieQ#1 ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 12:31PM

As a Mormon did you know this is how the "Nephite Record" and "Urim and Thummin" were recorded in the Mormon Church history books?

To set the scene: this is Palmyra New York, around 1829, Joseph Smith Jr and his wife Emma Hale (newly married-1827) are at the home of his parents Joseph Smith Sr. and his wife Lucy Mack Smith , and their children. Mr. Knightly is visiting. He and hi older brother Hyrum are in their early 20's. There are younger children in the home.
(link to the family pedigrees -
see home page for other family lines. )

Some info on B H Roberts:

This is the book that is the clincher: "Studies of the Book of Mormon"

Now onto the historical account that most of you probably never heard of!

This is info from a standard history book of the Mormon Church:

" "A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." by B.H. Roberts
VOL 1 "How the Book of Mormon was Obtained"

I have been told these books are in the LDS Data base on CD, I know they are in their libraries (Ward/Stake/Institute of Religion)in the REFERENCE section.

I own the whole set in paperback which I purchased in the late 70s before they were discontinued.

A few notes:
B H Roberts says that they were dressed "for riding" by taking the horse and spring wagon of Mr. Knight (some would call this stealing, as they did not ask permission of Mr. Knight who was a guest in his home) and went to the "hill Cumorah, and in he presence of Moroni obtained the Nephite record, the breast-plate and Urim and Thummim.

(I thought taking a wagon without permission was theft!)
pg. 87, "Early the next morning, Mr. Knight discovered both his horse and wagon were gone, suspected some "rogue had stolen them. Lucy Smith volunteered no information as to Joseph having made use of the horse and wagon, but tried to pacify Mr. Knight with the idea that they were but temporarily out of the way."

When Joseph returned home, he took his mother aside and showed her the Urim and Thummim which he had evidently detached from the breast plate and concealed on his own person when depositing the plates...he seemed to have kept the instrument constantly about him after that time as by means of it he could at will be made aware of approaching danger to the record."

The next chapter is entitled: (OTHER PSYCHICS?? SAY WHAT??)
pg. 88 Other Psychics Than the Prophet
"The fact was that Joseph Smith was not the only psychic in the vicinity of Palmyra."

He had previously asked Lucy (his mother) very early in the morning if she had a chest with a lock and key but she could not locate one.

This is the reason Joseph pg. 86 "concealed them temporarily, in the woods some two or three miles distant. He found a fallen birch log that was much decayed .....carefully cutting the bark and removing sufficient of the decayed wood to admit ...the plates, ...they were deposited in the cavity, the bark drawn together again and as far as possible all signs of the log having been disturbed obliterated."

Pg 93 - "The Breastplate of Urim and Thummim

"It has been several times remarked that with the plates on which a brief history of the ancient American peoples was engrave, there was an ancient breast-plate to which, when the Prophet took possession of it, the Urim and Thummim were attached.

This breast-plate it appears the Prophet did not bring home with him when he brought the record. But a few days later, according to a statement by Lucy Smith, he came into the house from the field one afternoon and after remaining a a short time put on his "great coat" and left the house.

On his returning the mother was engaged in an upper room of the house preparing oilcloth for painting - it will be remembered that this was an art she has followed for some years. Joseph called to her and asked her to come down stairs. To this she answered she could not then leave her work, but Joseph insisted and she came downstairs and entered the room where he was whereupon he placed in her hands the Nephite breast plate herein alluded to.

'It was wrapped in a a thin muslin handkerchief,' she explains, 'so thin that I could feel it's proportions without any difficulty'. It was concave on one side, convex on the other and extended from the neck downwards as far as
the center of the stomach of a man of extraordinary size. It had four straps of the same material, for the purpose of fastening it to the breast, two of which ran back to go over the shoulders and the other two were designed to fasten to the hips.

They were just the width of two of my fingers (for I measured them). and they had holes in the end of them, to be convenient in fastening. After I had examined it, Joseph placed it in the chest with the Urim and Thummin."

I highly recommend reading the B H Roberts books. They are filled with things you have never heard in church. The set comes with an Index, which in invaluable also.

My conclusions:
It is no wonder these stories have been sanitized into faith promoting versions over the years. The real history is just too wild and crazy to believe! :-)

This was the kind of information that finally hit home with me. There was no way Joseph Smith Jr was telling the truth about anything. He made up his stories, visions, religion, and BOM fiction from the get-go and the best that could be said for him is that he created a faith-based American God Myth that Brigham Young could use! These young men were on a path to create an isolated religion and hold their power close to the chest.

Thanks to the Brighamites, Mormonism is still alive and well today!

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Posted by: SusieQ#1 ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 12:52PM

The question is: how do witnesses claim they "saw and handled" the plates from an angel? Exactly how does that work?

"The Three Witnesses were a group of three early leaders of the Latter Day Saint movement who signed a statement in 1830 saying that an angel had shown them the golden plates from which Joseph Smith, Jr. translated the Book of Mormon and that they had heard God's voice testifying that the book had been translated by the power of God. The Three are among the eleven Book of Mormon witnesses, of whom the remainder were the Eight Witnesses who affirmed that they "saw and handled" the plates.

The Three Witnesses were Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer, whose joint testimony, in conjunction with a separate statement by Eight Witnesses, has been printed with nearly every edition of the Book of Mormon since its first publication in 1830. All three witnesses eventually broke with Smith and were excommunicated from the church he founded,[1] but to varying degrees, they also all continued to testify to the divine origin of the Book of Mormon....."


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Posted by: sisterexmo ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 03:09PM

I think that's why there are several tales of the First Vision story. Orignially I think the Golden Plate chest was more like pirates gold, guarded over by the spirit of a murdered pirate.

the story seems to have morphed in to a semi-biblical story as he realized that fleecing people under the cover of Religion was much safer than being a free-lance treasure finder.

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Posted by: ziller ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 03:39PM

sisterexmo Wrote:
> I think that's why there are several tales of the
> First Vision story. Orignially I think the Golden
> Plate chest was more like pirates gold, guarded
> over by the spirit of a murdered pirate.
> the story seems to have morphed in to a
> semi-biblical story as he realized that fleecing
> people under the cover of Religion was much safer
> than being a free-lance treasure finder.

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Posted by: PinkPoodle ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 12:36PM

Also, the witnesses admitted to seeing the plates with their "spiritual eyes". They never admitted to seeing actual plates!

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Posted by: SusieQ#1 ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 12:54PM

I'll figure out this new board ...eventually! I'd swear on a stack of golden plates I clicked in the right place! :-)
Must be Satan is messing with my computer! Ya, that's the ticket!

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Posted by: charles, buddhist punk ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 02:27PM

#1 & #2 The Book of Mormon
Some plausible explanations: Someone else besides Joe Smith wrote the script, but chose JS to market it to a bunch of people in the heat of religious fervor.

Another explanation. Follow this time line: Smith met someone when he was in his 20's who said let's write a fantastic book to sell religion. And they did. They then concocted the First Vision to establish Joe's credibility and leadership. Joe Smith was supposedly 14 when he had the First Vision. He was supposedly shown the plates at a later time, but could only remove it for translation at an even much later time. That would cover the period required to draft, edit, and write a whole book.

Yet another plausible explanation about who wrote the book is Joe himself--for a profit of course, as he reportedly tried to sell its copyright in Canada. This would explain the terrible grammar, heavy copy+pasting from the Bible, and the implausible, yet exciting stories within. How about the scribe Oliver and the witnesses? Oliver was a distant relative, and so were many of the so-called witnesses. Implication being that they can be talked into, coerced, bribed, or actually swindled into agreeing with the plan. Many have left and come back and left the group.

That the witnesses saw the plates with their "spiritual eyes" was the first instance of "plausible deniability" the LDS church has ever made.

#3 Family
It's interesting to know that Joe's mother Lucy Mack Smith, in writing her son's biography, never once mentions the First Vision. Joe's autobiography was written from him, many many years after the fact. I'll give you that this situation happens many times over around the world. But this was written and heavily edited by a scribe! Embellishments galore.

Follow the money! When money comes rolling in to an impoverished family, it can be easy to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing. It's just human nature. When good ol' Dad and brothers are rewarded with important positions, well it's easy to say "full speed ahead!"

NOW About That Book
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Of this, the BOM has almost none, all apologetics aside. Mormon defenders can try to stave off and explain away the inconsistencies and lack of evidence.
I says almost none because there are certain place names in the world that correspond with BOM names---which also happen to be place names close to Joe's residence.

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Posted by: vhainya ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 03:27PM

1. There is a lot of "filler" in the BoM. (Eg. 'And it came to pass' repeated 1000 times.) Also, much of it is plagiarized directly from the KJV bible and another book contemporary of JS.

The first edition of the BoM says JS was the author. Later editions say he was the translator. The first edition is also riddled with spelling and grammatical errors which were edited and changed in later editions. Every subsequent edition of the BoM has undergone numerous changed and edits. If the book were of divine origin why would it need these edits when god herself proclaimed the book to be perfect?

Even if the book was 100% unique, it's still a stretch to then leap to the conclusion that it has supernatural origins.

2. As one of the PP stated, most of the witnesses clarified they saw the plates with their 'spiritual eyes.' Several recanted their stories altogether. No one physically saw the plates.

3. Joseph Smith himself was convicted of 'money-digging' in 1826 by a Pennsylvania court, a practice taught to him by his father. The family lost their farm in 1827 and were in desperate need of money. They stood a lot to gain off selling copies of the BoM and the later founding of the church. These were not upstanding people of the community. They financially hurt and took advantage of their neighbors by lying to them. People such as Emma's own father did object to JS's actions and questioned him openly.

None of his family remained in the church! They all splintered off to form the RLDS church.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/29/2010 03:37PM by vhainya.

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Posted by: DNA ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 03:37PM

you aren't as TBM as you think you are, a TBM wouldn't even let themselves ask such questions. Their mind just won't go there.

I didn't read any of the others responses, no time right now, but I'm sure others have probably already given you great arguments about the writing ability.

My contribution is with the social aspect. There is a strange dynamic when groups and belief comes into play. It's easy to see other religions and think they are bunk. Most Mormons see a bunch of Buddists or Muslims and wonder how people can think such crazy stuff is valid, but they don't think it about themselves and their own group.

Once immersed in to your own group, you quickly learn the social rules of your group and you start to feel and see what you are "supposed" to feel and see. Mormons don't sway back and forth when they are feeling "the spirit", many Christian's do. Mormons hold very still, cry a bit, and get a quivering voice. Why does that happen? It doesn't happen in many other religions? The answer is group dynamics. When you are a Mormon, you feel what you are supposed to feel. If it was all just what God makes happen, everyone would do it the same. Perhaps we'd all raise our hands above our head and praise Jesus like some of the churches I've seen. No, we all do it how our groups says we are supposed to do it.

It was the same in JS's time too. People saw and felt what they were supposed to feel. And they were supposed to see and feel a lot more back then, and they did. At the dedication of the Kirtland Temple (I think it was that one, might have been Nauvoo) people at the dedication saw all kinds of crazy things. Angels on golden chariots riding through the building and all kinds of things. This isn't just my own crazy talk, it was in church publications. There was tons more crazy stuff that I don't remember that was seen, heard, and felt during those dedications.

Why doesn't God send such theatrics for temple dedications now? Wouldn't a temple now be just as important to him? Dedications are pretty damn boring now compared to angels riding through the building on golden chariots. But guess what? If people were "supposed" to be seeing that now, they would be seeing it. They'd be bearing their testimonies about it and talking in solemn tones in EQ meetings about it.

JS's family and the witnesses and everyone else at that time were behaving and feeling in the ways that the group dictated that you were supposed to feel. It works on everyone. Even you, even me.

There is a study done on social behavior where they pump a fake smoke though the vents in a classroom. As long as the teacher and other leader types in the room didn't act alarmed, nobody got up to leave. As soon as one did get up to leave, they all did. We all want to conform, and nobody wants to look like the chicken in the class that gets up and leaves as it fills with smoke, but they will if others will.

When the high status people are talking about Golden Chariots and stuff, nobody wants to be the one who looks unworthy and states that there is no such thing, so they all go home and talk about how marvelous the chariots were.

Witnesses to the plates admit that they saw it with their "spiritual eyes" not their real eyes. If JS says he is looking at them, are you going to be the dork who says Bull Shit, there's nothing there? They all want to look like they are as worthy of greatness as JS, so they all say that they saw it too.

You bear your testimony with a quivering voice full of emotion because your group says that's how it's done. It's learned behavior. In JS's time, you would have seen and felt much more, or you'd look like an unworthy dork, so you'd see it.

Get out of the LDS church for a while, and you'll be amazed at what used to seem real to you. At that point, it'll be easier to see how people around JS saw crazy shit that wasn't there.

Go to any religion, and find out what is supposed to be felt, what is supposed to be heard, what is supposed to be seen. Then find out who the "in group is". Most of them will be feeling, seeing, and hearing what they are supposed to. Mormons are no different, they just think that theirs is the only real one. It's not any more real or valid as any of the other ones, and just as crazy.

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 03:40PM

1. The more you read, the more you will see how unimpressive the BoM really is as a literary work or even a religious writ. I don't see why JS couldn't have written it. It seems to me exactly what a person like him would write.

2. Witnesses are a dime a dozen for anything. Suggest to them what you want them to recall and they will easily make their perceptions fit their preconceptions. Please get Sagan's Demon Haunted World and learn about bologna detection.

3. Joseph's family and everyone else he hung around with were not exactly brain trusts. They were under educated credulous folks, all of them.

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Posted by: oddcouplet ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 03:42PM

In response to questions 2 and 3, no one who is familiar with Mormonism should be too surprised at anyone's ability to transform a DESIRE to believe into a FIRM, HEARTFELT belief. I bear my testimony to this common characteristic of human nature.

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Posted by: puzzled ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 06:14PM

Hi all
Many thanks for all the detailed responses, I appreciate it, and a lot of it makes sense! There's a lot of info here for me to go through, but I expect I will be back!

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Posted by: brefots ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 04:17PM

How could JS write it all for himself in a few months? Well, the fact is that as his mother so kindly informs us, even as a kid JS used to amuse his family with stories about the native americans, so actually he had not a few months but several years to concoct a story-line. And about word for word, The first edition of the BoM was filled with flaws in grammar and spelling, most of the 4000+ changes in the BoM was done for this reason.

And about the story being consistent it's easy to keep consistent when you always keep details open-ended, take mormon geography for example, there's thousands of ways to draw a BoM map because the geography is usually described with distance measured in "many days" and direction mentioned as "in the wilderness". If you study the other stories you'll see that a similar open-ended structure permeats the entire book. (quite consistent with oral dictation). And when it comes to references to past and future events it's usually the bible that is quoted as the past and the modern age that is quoted as the future. The BoM is filed with more anachronisms than any other book known to mankind.

Finally we have the sheer stupidity of the book. It contradicts all of known history, science and social science. It surely couldn't have been written by anyone with the slightest knowledge of real precolumbian america or of judaism. Take something as silly as the combination between constitutional religious freedom and the mosaic law (the first three commandments clearly forbid religious liberty and pretty much the rest of the OT does too),

or how about the barges of Ether. Submarines where appearantly cattles, people, food and pooh fell all over the place everytime the boat flipped over so that the roof was the floor and the floor became the roof. But never mind pooh in the food and broken bones in every living creature on board, Jared and his engineers didn't forsee that, they only noticed, after the fact I might add, that there were no windows. These stories are clearly not written by a scholar, rather they are evidence of the illiteracy and stupidity of it's author/authors.

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Posted by: vhainya ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 04:27PM

> or how about the barges of Ether. Submarines where
> appearantly cattles, people, food and pooh fell
> all over the place everytime the boat flipped over
> so that the roof was the floor and the floor
> became the roof.

LOL!! That was always the same image that came to my mind whenever the story was told. It is so absurd it must be twoo!

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Posted by: jon ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 04:36PM

It's been a while since I've pondered this, but was any mention given as to how the cattle got in and out of the "tight like unto a dish" submarines? I can remember that there was a hole that could be sealed on the top and bottom of the magical vessels, but you would never get a cow through one. Did they just build them around the cows?

Why did i waste my youth on this BS!

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Posted by: sisterexmo ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 07:25PM

The name of the Submarine is reputed to be the S.S. Bullshit

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Posted by: Misfit ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 06:52PM

JS had 6 years to write the BofM from the time he told his parents about the project.
Do yourself a favor. Stop going to church, and stop paying tithing, for at least a month. Then read the first 10 pages of the BofM. THen ask yourself, Can a book that starts out with a story of a man asking his sons to steal someone else's family bible really be from god? Can a book that justifies the murder of a sleeping, helpless man really be from god? The minute you stop listening to others around you trying to convince each other that the BofM is true, the more easily you will see what a farce the whole book really is.
Read today's earlier post about New Testament plagiarisms in the BofM. Go to the link on the website. That should answer all your questions.

As far as the witnesses, just because a bunch of people signed something that JS wrote, doesn't mean a damn thing.
The whole book is a fraud, and its so painfully obvious to me now, I have to kick myself for buying into it when I was 14.

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Posted by: freegirl10 ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 06:58PM

Try staying away from church for a couple of weeks, and see if it doesn't start to feel wonderful and "freeing" to shake yourself from the tentacles and spell that the church casts upon you. It is hard to see things clearly when you're caught up in the whirlwind - you have to back away.

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Posted by: badseed ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 07:09PM

> 1) Who wrote the BOM? Could he really have written such a big piece himself in a few months, especially as his early writings/letters seem very poor in comparison.

The Church likes to say that JS only had 60 to produce the BoM in. The history shows otherwise. Even if you are just talking about actually 'writing it down' time he had more time than that if you see that the time for 116 pages was part of the process. Anyway he had been discussing the record since at least 1827 but more likely since 1823— and the book was published at the end of 1829. That leaves years to work through the plot and stories mentally.

While producing the BoM would be a feat that many could not accomplish, IMO it is not the miracle that many claim. The book is actually pretty poorly written and doesn't ring authentic— at least to me. I don't know what earlier writing your using but I disagree with your comparison to the BoM. The only BoM-era JS writing I am aware of are letters to Emma and the are in no way the incoherent ramblings of an illiterate. The Church likes to paint JS as an ignorant farm boy— and while he was not heavily schooled, he was extremely intelligent and more well-read than people admit to. Both JS Sr. and Hyrum were school teachers and Joseph actually was relatively well read especially in the KJV bible.

While I am not totally convinced by the Rigdon/Spaulding theory I think it has more merit that apologists give it. It is entirely possible that Rigdon knew Spaulding and knew of his Manuscript Found. Read "Who Really Wrote the BoM" to see the case for it.

2) The 8 and 3 witnesses. Were they all in on it? If so, surely one of them would have leaked it at some point when they were all exe'd from the church and had no reason not to.

In contrast to what is taught by the Church the witnesses never literally saw the plates. You have to understand the magical mentality of the 19th century burned over district— people claimed to have visions all the time— and these visions were seen with the eye of understanding,— meaning that what they saw was in their mind and not literal. Martin Harris confirmed this in the Kirtland Temple in 1838, causing a number of LDS including apostles to leave the Church. According to him no one saw the plates with their natural eyes or touched them in any real sense.

I personally think that visions were just part of the 19th century NY religious lexicon. People many things in vision and thought them real when they were not. This was no big deal for the time and these people likely convinced themselves the experiences were real so why lose face and deny them later even if you think JS is a fallen prophet. Even if they knew it was a fraud they became liars too if they ratted JS out.

3) JS's family... they must have known him and how he spent his time well enough to know if he was making it all up.. did none of them say "Stop this nonsense Joseph!"?

The Smith family was cut from the same cloth as Joseph. It was Joseph SR. that got his son into treasure digging and folk magic to begin with. Read Lucy Mack Smith's history and she clearly was prone to the same sort of magical thinking and exaggeration that was common to the day.

Grant Palmer explains this type of experience well in this podcast.

His book An Insider's View of Mormon Origins also discussed many of the issues you are asking about. He's a retired Institute Teacher CES /employee and still a member.

Even if you find these answers insufficient there are other questions about the BoM that I find far more important.

Why does the BoM have so many 19th century plot, themes, myths ideas if its ancient? Is it significant that idea of Am. Indians being Israelites is a 19th myth common to JS's world? How did KJV translation errors get in to the BoM if JS translated from and ancient record? How is it that the words of ancient american prophets are identical to writings about the revolutionary war from JS's time? How is it that the BoM prophets discussed the exact points of religious debate from JS's day? Is it likely that the BoM is the ancient record it claims to be when it's content appears to be from the 19th century?

What does one make of the lack of archeology to support the BoM, the population issues in the record, the anachronisms and language issues? Are we to believe the unbelievable stories in this book?

In the end I think there are are far more questions that make me question the validity of the BoM that there are ones supporting the Church's story.

Other books to read on the BoM:

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Posted by: vhainya ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 07:40PM

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Posted by: Mad Viking ( )
Date: October 29, 2010 07:58PM

I know its rude to answer a question with a question... but...

If you never find a suitable answer to your questions, does that justify accepting the church's explanations for those events as valid?

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Posted by: josh ( )
Date: October 30, 2010 11:10AM

Not all of Joseph Smith's brothers believed him. It was either Don Carlos or William that said that he would kill Joseph if he ever got the chance. Heck, Emma tried to kill Joseph twice, as told by Brigham Young.

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Posted by: puzzled ( )
Date: October 30, 2010 11:49AM

Again thanks for the many responses.
To answer "If you never find a suitable answer to your questions, does that justify accepting the church's explanations for those events as valid?"
Well possibly not. The church clearly has presented a slightly different take on all these stories than seems to have actually happened, and just kept quiet about other parts. I wouldnt have had to have come here if the church had already been able to answer these questions. Basically, I just want the truth, and I'll act accordingly... although explaning any of this to DW would be tricky, which is another issue entirely.

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Posted by: Sorcha ( )
Date: October 30, 2010 12:43PM

Dear Puzzled, this board is a lifesaver for me.

A year and a half ago, I read Charles M. Larson’s book, *...By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus* (used from Amazon starting at $10.93 ), and learned that the Egyptian papyrus scrolls from which JS claimed to have translated the BoA were just ordinary funeral scrolls for a couple of Egyptians.

Further, JS said the writing on the scrolls was “Reformed Egyptian, the same language that was on the golden plates.” Now. Larson’s research showed that the language on the scrolls was NOT “Reformed Egyptian” but hieroglyphs & hieratic. JS said Reformed Egyptian was a kind of “shorthand” so the Nephite record could fit onto the plates. BUT the hieroglyphs and hieratic and anything BUT a shorthand. In fact, I think Larson quotes Egyptologists as saying it sometimes takes SIX hieroglyphic characters to make even a syllable.

Taking the next step, I realized that if the JS Papyri were NOT was JS claimed, that they were NOT written in “Reformed Egyptian” as he said, then the BoM, which he said was written in the same language, could not be true, either. If JS didn’t recognize the language on the papyri, how could he have seen anything like it on the plates?

I now believe there never were any plates, either. I now believe the foundation of the church is dust.

And church authorities saying, “well, it doesn’t matter, JS was a prophet anyway,” is just ludicrous. Joseph Smith LIED. No prophet of my Lord would LIE to his people for ANY reason.

I don’t know how long I bawled my eyes out while hugging my quad (and I’m a convert, in the church less than 7 years when I discovered the truth). I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you to be discovering all this now, but if you want the truth, as did and do all of us here, you will find it. Good luck and my prayers are with you.

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