Comments about ‘FAIR: Wordprint analysis and the Book of Mormon’

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Published: Monday, Aug. 8 2011 11:00 a.m. MDT

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Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


Agreed the article does not prove that the Book of Mormon is true. Nor was that its point. It was to show that an academic paper purporting to prove the Book of Mormon false was poorly researched and likely motivated by animus. Which I think it proved.

BTW, who said Moroni couldn't dig up the plates himself? God allows Moses to perform all these miracles but why not just kill Pharaoh and the Egyptian armies upfront? Joseph receives many dreams, but not one to save him from slavery. Jacob is a prophet, but does not know his son (Joseph) is alive. Naaman has to wash in the River Jordan. Why can't Elisha just heal him? Christ uses spittle and mud to anoint the blind man's eyes. Why can't he just say something or put his hands on him? On and on it goes. Each miraculous event opens the door to question or critique - if we are so disposed.


@Kbanderson: A study was done in the eighties I think it was, by academics of various faiths, that did generate a different authorship for each book and did not indicate Joseph Smith or any of his contemporaries. I can't link to it because no urls are allowed but it's on the Neal A. Maxwell Institute website.

full disclosure
Providence, UT

To most of the commenters on this board, the church, it's leaders, and apologist's, are the source of all truth no matter what the facts really say. Their conclusions to all debates has been pre-determined by this methodology. Anyone who challenges this is seen as anti-mormon, when in fact, a lot of us are Mormons that believe in many principals, but not neccesarily everything that has been presented by these sources. What i mean by this is that once a person decides to be fair, objective, and look for truth from various sources (the other side of the story) and they find out it's not what they thought it was, it can devistate them.It turns their world upside down.
It's funny, were trying to help the church, and were called names or censored.

Sasha Pachev
Provo, UT

From the perspective of an LDS convert from the no-God background. I did not have enough faith to believe the Bible. But I found enough to believe the testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and from that was able to believe the Bible. I am puzzled at the arguments "I cannot believe an angel brought the plates" coming from those who profess a belief in the Bible. How can one believe that Christ walked on water, raised the dead, and rose himself from the dead? How can one believe that Phillip was teleported from one place to another? How can one believe that God could make man out of the dust of the earth? All of it coming from a book written almost 2000 years ago! And yet cannot believe that a young man could see an angel in modern times!
Maybe what they imagine to be their faith in the Bible is merely belief by tradition. If so, I would encourage you to develop a true living faith in the Bible first. Which in truth I do not know how to do without the Book of Mormon.

Tooele, UT

@Midvaliean 1:45

I wouldn't throw a sheet over the entire Book of Mormon simply because a few artist renditions here and there have some inaccuracies.

Don't forget, there are famous paintings of historical events such as George Washington's crossing of the Delaware and the signing of the Declaration of Independence which many historians agree are inaccurate.

@LValfre 2:02

It's pretty easy to throw out terms such as "blind obedience" or "ignorance" when describing those with whom you disagree with. It is often quite harder to give point-by-point examples of where people's arguments are flawed.

This is why so much of what I read from critics of the Book of Mormon, as well as the LDS Church, provides me with little if any new information. Sorry, but simple character assassination doesn't wash with me.

I recently read a blog where some activist was attacking a recent Ensign Magazine article, calling it an "Anti-Gay Manifesto" even though homosexuality or same-sex marriage were never mentioned once in the talk. The blogger had to admit this fact, only to come back by saying the talk was written in "code" but he cited absolutely no examples.

john in az
tempe, az

so rather than Fields that statistian doing his own research, he just mudslings someone else's work?

Perhaps Fields can do his own study and shown how wrong they really are.


I'm glad that people are including a scientific approach to the Book of Mormon. I met an FLDS member a few years ago that told me he knew that Warren Jeffs was a prophet and that the FLDS church was God's only true church, because he had prayed about it and received confirmation that is was true. He said that no amount of scientific evidence would change his mind. It was a matter of faith.

It is no wonder then that we now see FLDS followers voluntarily handing over their young children for Jeffs to rape and abuse. They likely had it confirmed to them that he was acting for God as he told them in recordings. We cannot rely solely on spiritual feelings to find good or truth. We must use our intellect and common sense as well. To say that we know this or that is true based on such feelings is a dangerous position to be in, especially when it conflicts with known facts or common sense.

Provo, Ut

There are actually several reasons why no wordprint analysis could be performed on the Book of Mormon to the satisfaction of objectivity.

If you accept divine authorship then you believe that the majority of the text was abridged by Mormon. In other words, you shouldn't expect the text to show multiple authors. If it did, and the analysis were valid, that would present a completely new set of problems.

Additionally, the Book of Mormon was allegedly written in an unknown language, ie, "reformed egyptian". This matter is further complicated that even contemporary Mormon scholars cannot decide on exactly how the book was translated. Was it word for word from R. Egyptian to english? Was it RE translated using Joseph Smith's words? Or, was it word for word from God to Joseph Smith, though not necessarilly word for word from the text on the plates to the English we have it in now? So the science is invalid under the divine authorship assumption.

If you believe that it is 19th century fiction, then you have to account for the fact it heavily plagiarizes the bible, and was written in KJV 1611 style, mitigating comparative analysis.

These methods just won't work!

Window Rock, AZ

just read and pray about it; one will get the answer to its truthfulness; however, it requires effort. come on man its simple. God's ways are simple; it is man that makes things complicated.

Eagle Mountain, UT

Every time I read about another attempt to dis-prove anything about the LDS church it just strengthens my belief. If it were not divine, Satan wouldn't be working so hard using dupes to prove it wrong.

layton, UT

The divine origin of the Book of Mormon was itself disputed.

In Moroni7:47. "But charity(love) is the pure love of Christ . Makes no sense in the original Greek. Charity, mid-12c.,benevolence for the poor," caritas from the Latin Vulgate often used as translation of Greek, agape "love". Charity is the Latin translation of agape(love).

The Love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. Charity(love)never fails( 1Cor 13:8) or Faith hope and Charity(love)(1 Corinthians 13:13).This is why Christians Churches have several different Bible modern translations do to discoveries of earlier and better MS than the(TR/KJV)and better scholarship like;JS was not aware that Jehovah is a mistranslation of YHWH.

JS simply mis-undesrsttod the KJV poor translations.

Tooele, UT

@Midvaliean 1:45

I wouldn't throw a sheet over the entire Book of Mormon story simply because of a few artist renditions here and there may be inaccurate. Don't forget that many artist renditions of historical events such as George Washington's crossing of the Delaware as well as the signing of the Declaration of Independence also contain inaccuracies.

@LValfre 2:02

If you want to try and convince people the Book of Mormon is false, you're going to have to do better than using words such as "blind obedience" or "ignorant." If anything, these words show desperation on the part of critics.

When someone brings nothing to a debate except character assassination, they've already lost.

Polk City, Iowa

Since he used a rock in his hat could it be that he was channeling different spirits and that is the reason for the various authors? Wasn't the rock the exact same one he used to try to find the silver mine (and failed) in palmyra?

Show me any non-mormon scientist that thinks the BOM is what it purports to be. Think about the damning evidence:
Lack of any real archeology evidence--by their own admission the best is "NHM" written on a different continent. That is the "best". Scary.
Linguistic studies--what happened to hebrew? How come the native americans don't talk any root form of hebrew? Oh yeah, they are chinese--see dna
Where are the horses?

I've read the supposed evidences for the book of mormon. They are at best cherry picked random occurances that rather than "prove" it true, lend credence to the critics that say apologists use cheap parlor tricks. Come to think of it, JS was the biggest con around (until Warren Jeffs eclipsed him) so I guess it makes sense those tactics are in wide use today with his followers.

Tooele, UT

@full disclosure 3:37

You said - "To most of the commenters on this board, the church, it's leaders, and apologist's, are the source of all truth no matter what the facts really say."

One could make the exact same claim regarding critics of the LDS Church, but such any such claim in and of itself is silly. Just because one researcher disagrees with another doesn't mean the first is pouting, "Liar, liar, pants on fire."

You said - "Anyone who challenges this is seen as anti-mormon, when in fact, a lot of us are Mormons that believe in many principals, but not neccesarily everything that has been presented by these sources."

Another silly claim. I would say the vast majority of articles and books I've read in defense of the church rarely use the term "anti-Mormon" when discussing critics' findings. Of course we see the term "anti-Mormon" all over the place on comment boards like this, but we also see words like "cult" "brain wash" "mental gymnastics and "blind obedience" too.

I don't always agree with FAIR's findings myself, but your analysis puts a blanket attack on everything from FAIR which is hardly honest research.

American Fork, UT

FAIR is right. It had to have been written by Joseph Smith while looking at his peep stone in his hat.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

To JM:

You stated, "Someone should do a study on what motivates people to fight against a faith all day, every day. Are they trying to justify falling? Give reason for hate? Deny cowardice? I don't know : ) it's interesting though...."


I don't even know how I can word this in a way that expresses how I really feel about your statement. Simply said, it is true. It is so very absolutely true.

Ryan Larsen

A couple years ago, I wrote a response to the Jockers et al study. I contacted FAIR with it. If you'd like to read my response, just google "Jockers et al" and it should appear as the top result (second result down if you simply google Jockers et al without quotes)

Clearfield, UT

Faith seems to be rather subjective and seems to be more of an emotional feeling and hope than a means of knowing something to be true or false. Whether it be Catholicism, Evangelical Christianity, Mormonism, Islam or Scientology, the way that you know the most important things in those religions is by faith. Faith in a book, faith in a teaching, faith in a tradition or faith in a man. As we hear the claims of these various groups we have to ask serious questions and we have to have a healthy level of skepticism and doubt since there are so many competing claims that cannot all be true. We know that there are many psychological reasons for people to believe in various unusual things but they each have to be examined on their own merits. If faith is defined in any way as the absence of questioning or doubt then faith seems to not only be an unreliable means of finding truth, but it seems to actually get in the way of finding truth. If truth exists and faith can be misunderstood, then not questioning ones faith will definitely get in the way of a person finding truth.

Olympia, WA

Believing or not believing the Book of Mormon to be of divine origin, is similar to a belief or non-belief in God, or in particular religious beliefs or doctrine in general. None of these beliefs can be proven or dis-proven in a scientific manner, and it is "designed" to be that way as part and parcel of mortality. One has to search and discover these things on a personal basis, receiving answers or not receiving answer(s) based on the true desires of one's heart, and on one's motives and actions, much like a seed that is planted and either nourished by faith and action or neglected and left to wither away. Enough physical evidence is given to provide a basis or starting point for belief or unbelief, so that a persons choice can then be based on their innate desires rather than by being forced to believe or disbelieve by definitive scientific prove one way or the other.

West Jordan, UT

There is plenty of evidence to support the Book of Mormon if you want to believe in it, but if you don't want to believe it is the word of God you can choose to believe the evidence against it. There is no unquestionable absolute evidence either way, so it is your choice according to your desires.

I believe it is from God and have chosen to live my life accordingly. Someday, in the next life, we will all know the truth. If I find out that it is not true I will have no regrets for having lived my life without alcohol, drugs, immorality, dishonesty, or hate. I will not regret making temple covenants that lead me to serve others, be faithful to my husband, and live a family oriented life. I can't think of anything in my life as an active Latter-day saint that I would regret if I learned it wasn't true. I love it all-the temple, Sunday meetings, callings, missions, family history research, and family life in the Church.

How will those who have left the Church feel if they find out that what they rejected is really true?

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