Why are you not a Mormon? I mean, you appeal to the evidence of consistency across the 66 books of the bible, claim that the gospel writers remained true to an oral tradition (despite John’s gospel being markedly different from the other three) and insist there is no difference between the original apostles’ gospel and Paul’s (when Paul is adamant there is.) In fact, there is even better evidence that Mormonism is true.
First off, Joseph Smith saw the resurrected Jesus in person! Not only Jesus but God the Father too. And they spoke to him! He relates the story himself, so unlike the gospels, this is no second hand reportage:
I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
Following this, young Joseph was instructed to translate the Book of Mormon from some golden plates. We don’t have to take his word for it that these plates existed because Joseph had witnesses:
Eleven official witnesses and several unofficial witnesses testified to the existence of the golden plates and, in some cases, to dramatic supernatural confirmation of their truth. Meticulous research on these witnesses has confirmed their good character and the veracity of their accounts.
Impressive, don’t you think? We have no such affidavits for the gospel writers – we don’t even know who they were!
Also like the Bible, the Book of Mormon had multiple authors (Joseph Smith was only translating, remember):
Furthermore, in recent years, rigorous statistical analysis strongly indicates that neither Joseph Smith nor any of his known associates composed the English text of the Book of Mormon. In fact, research suggests that the book was written by numerous distinct authors.
And yet, the Book of Mormon tells a story even more consistent than the Bible’s!
the Holy Ghost affirms the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, just as he does the Bible: the conclusion of the matter is that much modern evidence supports the more powerful witness of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith, who translated it, had to be what he said he was, a prophet of God.
Finally, the growth of the Church of The Latter Day Saints demonstrates its truth and saving power. Its early expansion was greater than that of the first-century church.
Amazing, don’t you think, Don?
* * * * *
I expect like me, you reject all this so-called evidence and regard Mormonism as so much bunk. But on what basis? What causes you to dismiss the teaching of the Latter Day Saints while embracing the equally incredible, magic-infused stories of the Bible? As the Mormon church says (sounding not unlike yourself when talking about the Bible):
Persons who choose to dismiss the Book of Mormon must find their own ideas for explaining it and the mounting evidence for its authenticity.
When you arrive at the criteria you apply in rejecting Mormonism, you’ll have arrived at the reasons I and many others reject your beliefs.
The correlation between the confirmation of the Holy Ghost based on a desire to know if it’s true works equally well if your desire is to know if it is false. That’s the real gotcha in Mormonism—It plays on a key foible of human psychology.
Great job on this though Neil. Excellent!
You’re right, Jim. Don’s initial argument above is essentially what you are saying here: his intuition tells him what’s true and what isn’t. Remarkably, it leads him to conclude that which he already believes.
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I’ve got a hunch that Don’s got a hunch…..it just “feels” right. Whether or not it makes any sense seems to be irrelevant.
I think that plays in most venues really. Intentionality plays a major role in how one approaches the development of hypotheses and theories. If you go into a task to prove something is right (or wrong) you’re probably going to be right either way. This is the fallibility of religious; they already believe something and want to prove it’s right; cognitive dissonance determines the rest.
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Excellent post, Neil.
With your permission, I would love to post this to my site. I find Mormonism a great tool to use when challenging Evangelical presuppositions and beliefs.
Certainly, Bruce. I’ll send the picture separately.
There are multiple reason for rejecting Mormonism. The primary reason is similar to discerning between a fake $20 bill and the real thing. The fake just doesn’t feel like the real thing. Of course, that test requires that one knows what a $20 bill feels like. Anyone who does not know is easily fooled.
In fact, if you don’t know what the real thing is like, it is impossible to identify a fake. You might notice an ink smudge and a difference in paper, but who is to say one is fake and the other is not?
But since you have a knowledge of literature, Neil, why not apply those standards? Is the Bible and the narrative in the Bible coherent? Does it stick together and develop a single theme across the whole? Do you know what the theme of the Bible is, Neil?
Remember that the Mormons tell us that the Book of Mormon is an extension of the Bible and that the people of the Americas were related to the Jews and held to the basic truths of the Jews. (Remember also the Mormons believe that Jesus appeared to these people in the New World shortly after his resurrection.) So if you put the Torah and the Book of Mormon together, is the narrative coherent? Does it develop a single theme? The Old testament and the New Testament are a coherent whole, but I do not think the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon are.
That lack of coherency becomes even more obvious when we compare God in the Old Testament with God in the Book of Mormon. The person of Jesus is also inconsistent in the Book of Mormon with the Bible.
Of course, the standard explanation by Latter Day Saints is that the Bible has not been adequately translated, though I know of no place where they can demonstrate that claim.
Finally, there is a matter of provenance. We know in very good detail where the Bible came from. There are many copies, especially for the New Testament, and there are many commentaries of both the OT and NT from very early in the their history. What is the provenance of the Book of Mormon? It apparently appeared magically out of nowhere pretty recently. No mention in any other literature of its existence. No copy is available to examine.
That is not to speak of the total lack of any archaeological evidence for the Mormon claims of Jews in the Americas.
So, I would say the Book of Mormon fails on all levels.
I’ll get to dissect your points soon, Don. Suffice to say here, you rely on several premises that are extremely shaky – built on sand you might say.
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You never addressed the evidence provided. Typical
Jim, are we still arguing the veracity of the BoM? It was you that pointed out that this tall tale was a joint effort with the crazy old man. They were all steeped in this religious crap. Joe Jr. was clever. Question: Did Joe ever take anyone to the place he found the plates? Cheers. GROG
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I think we’re talking about the imaginary nature of the differences between mythologies. Joseph Smith made it all up. Big deal. So did Mark, Matthew, Luke & John, and ESPECIALLY Paul, who wove his nonsense out of whole cloth.