Comments about ‘Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Types of evidence and the Book of Mormon’

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Published: Monday, April 18 2011 4:00 a.m. MDT

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Fort Knox, KY


I have a testimony of the BookofMormon. I have faith that it is true. I think my faith to believe is a gift. This may be a gift specific to me and others like me. While others may have other gifts specific to them. Do all have the same gifts? I dont think so. I think thats because we are supposed to learn to work together. Can each person eventually receive all the gifts God has to give? I think so. Another person might have the gift of charity. They are those who are naturally charitable and kind to others. I dont think I have this gift, but Im working at it and think with prayer, effort and time I will eventually get there.

Reason and logic to me confirms what I believe by faith and the Holy Ghost to be true, while others might say that they do not. I think faith is a means of believing something to be true, while waiting for archeology to catch up. Things are being discovered and they are interesting. Is there any connection to the BookofMormon? Dont know.

Fort Knox, KY


At one point the tribes of Israel were slaves to Egypt. Werent both written languages in that day? Both languages and others could have been known by Lehi and Nephi and then passed down to Moroni. Hebrew and Egyptian writings are being discovered in ancient burial mounds. (Bat Creek, Newark Earthworks Holy Stones, Los Lunas Stone) Nephi built a temple after the pattern of King Solomons temple. Some equate that to have been as great as any pyramid. Ruins of pyramids are being found throughout North and South America. (Pyramid ruins in North, Central and South America, Mound Builder Platform Mounds Mississippi, Arizona, Florida, and Peru) Wouldnt some kind of knowledge of cement have been used in building any pyramid? The Jaredites lived during the time of the Tower of Babel. Wouldnt knowledge of just about everything be needed to build something like that? Noah built an ark, why shouldnt Jaredites be able to build barges, and Nephi build a ship?

Fort Knox, KY


The Nephite record was written on metal plates. Metal plates are being discovered in America and the Middle East. (Deseret News Article, Ancient Metal Plates or American Metal Plates, Ancient Egyptian Metallurgy) Christ visits America? (Christ Visits America, the Mystic Symbol, Ancient Michigan Tablets, Burrows Cave Rangeguide offered a different perspective on things)

If any of these things are true, at what point are there enough coincidences to the Book of Mormon to equate evidence or proof?

Not sure what gives Robert Mainfort and Mary Kwas the final say on the Bat Creek Stone. Their report was in 1991-1993. Im not sure they are the final say since J. Huston McCullough gave a report on it in September 2010. Bat Creek Stone Newport Tower gives an archeological report concerning it in July 2010.

This back and forth between archeologists, which ones are you supposed to believe? There are those who claim the things being found are forgeries, while others seem to show these things are authentic.

Fort Knox, KY


For those who doubt the Book of Mormon is true, these things might not directly connect to the Book of Mormon, but what if any of it does?

For me, the more I read, the more there seems to confirm what I believe by faith. The Bible and BookofMormon are true. If a person believes the Bible, they shouldnt have a problem believing the BookofMormon. To me, reason, logic, and the Holy Ghost all confirm these two books to be true.

As far as I know, Michael Ash hasnt spoken about the Bat Creek stone and other things Ive mentioned in these comments. There are other foundations like FARMS researching things. A website through FIRMLDS did a webcast a week before last about these things and I was fortunate enough to stumble across this site to see it. (Book of Mormon Evidence Rod Meldrum) Plus other things Ive googled. Dont know if any of it is authentic, but its interesting.

Things in parenthesis are my search terms.

Hope this answers your questions from last week, Searching and Joeblow.

Scottsbluff, NE

Here are a few writings by professors that address pseudoarchaeology. They can be found online.

Three Basic Principles of Archaeological Research by Garrett G. Fagan

Irrationality and Popular Archaeology by Kenneth L. Feder

Crusading against Straw Men: an Alternative View of Alternative Archaeologies: response to Holtorf by Garrett G. Fagan and Kenneth L. Feder

Weber State Graduate
Clearfield, UT

According to Mr. Ash, "the testimonies of the Three and Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon would constitute direct evidence that Joseph had metal plates with curious engravings."

It also follows then that under this definition, the testimonies of the Seven Witnesses to the Plates of Laban "constitute direct evidence" that James Strange had metal plates with curious engravings.

The question remains...whose "direct evidence" is more likely to support a factual determination? It's clear that without the ability to subject "direct evidence" to any kind of systematic test in order to bring it to its logical conclusion, such evidence is often viewed with a healthy amount of skepticism, whether it's "direct evidence" or not.

Provo, UT

Ash also equivocates when it suits him. In the last article, he tried to distinguish between proof and evidence. But in this article he gives a quote from Cornells website about indirect measurements of things that cannot be seen directly, and pawns it off as indirect evidence and justification for a blank check of indirect evidences for the BOM.

But measurements and evidence are not the same thing. The existence and characteristics of subatomic particles (that cannot be seen as per the Heisenberg uncertainty principle) are not the same thing as evidences of entire civilizations. The former are difficult to pinpoint, not because they do not exist, but because their existence is known, but the measurement of their position and the measurement of their momentum cannot be ascertained precisely simultaneously.

(Actually, based on the evidence Ash has presented, it appears he is invoking the uncertainty principle: the location and momentum of BOM civilizations seems to be moving about just as subatomic particles do. That is why no real evidences or proof have been found!)

Full-on double rainbow
Bluffdale, UT

Allright! Mike is finally backing away from the "faith trumps all" evidence to what we've all been waiting for: mountains of evidence!

Lehi, UT

Evidence for disbelieving the BoM is: "I dont believe, never had an angel." Absolute proof is: "Others doubt and mock also, and we never found all those arms from Ammon, this unquestionably proves the BoM never happened. There should be many arm "fossils" discovered."

Iron, reformed Egyptian, or the Maya centering their religion on Christian passion symbolism mixed with Baalike philosophies aren't evidence at all, just chance, or aliens. ; )

For LDS proof is simply recognizing Gods voice testifying to the truthfulness of the book. And knowing that voice is not self created.
Everything else is details, fun, exciting, miraculous details.

WSG: yes, Strang had plates, witnesses admitted fabricating them. DN critics also fabricate evidence and testimony, because they have no legitimate proof against LDS, or FOR their own faiths.

@ALL CRITICS, including: Doctor, Searching, etc, 15 different people recommended your comments on discussing evidence. Only Otis agreed to my proposal. (JoeBlow before reading terms, Vanka let me name time/place, and I did, but he didn't agree to terms). My time is valuable and you should at least be willing to agree to the terms presented last week, and to be fair and reasonable.

Whos in?

Provo, Ut

While the "Three & Eight Witnesses" testimonies do constitute exhibits A & B, of direct evidence for The defense of the Book of Mormon plates, the credibility of the witnesses is in dispute. As exhibit A for the prosecution I would like to cite David Whitmers "An Address to All Believers in Christ". As exhibit B - the John Murphy interview with David Whitmer (1880). And finally as Exhibit C, just about anything Martin Harris ever said, ever!

I would also like to thank Michael Ash personally for using my comments on his previous post (Evidence Versus Proof - MormonCowboy 1:32 p.m. April 11, 2011) to assist him with this article. I would just like to add one caveat on anachronisms. While eyewitness testimony is considered direct evidence, any form of surveilance aided by modern technology - such as video recordings of a crime, or an audio file which has recorded a crime or that otherwise demonstrates guilt, is superior to eyewitness testimony. Ash's article implies that because they are in the same class of evidence, eyewitness vs. audio/video capture must be of equal weight. They are not! The BoM has nothing even close to this, and the witnesses are suspect.

Provo, UT

Ashs equivocation of the rules of evidence in the "soft sciences" with evidence in the US legal system is also problematic. Eyewitness testimony in legal contexts has long been known to be unreliable, particularly because of research in social science demonstrating such unreliability under controlled conditions similar to what you find in the "hard sciences".

Moreover, the question of an accused person's guilt or innocence is not the same thing as the question of the existence of BOM civilizations. The logic of the legal system is built on the foundational assumption "innocent until proven guilty". If that logic is taken seriously as regards the BOM, we must assume BOM civilizations to be "innocent of existing" until proven guilty. Instead, Ash turns the logic around, assuming BOM civilizations to have existed until "anti-s" prove otherwise.

But if you want to hold a trial and get witnesses to testify as to whether or not Joseph Smith defrauded them, or was untrustworthy, a "glass-looker", and charlatan, those trials have been held, and Joseph was convicted by the very rules of evidence Ash is trying to invoke here. Indeed, the Mormons fled the existing jurisdiction of those laws.

Benton City, WA

"Some people have to have a world of evidence before they can come anywhere in the neighborhood of believing anything;but for me,when a mantells me that he has "seen the engravings which are upon the plates,"and not only that,but an angel was there at the time,and saw him see them,and probably took his receipt for it,I am very far on the road to conviction,no matter whether I ever heard of that man before or not,and even if I do not know the name of the angel,or his nationality either..And when I am on the road to con viction,and eight men,be they grammatical or otherwise,come forward and tell me that they have seen the plates too;and not only seen those plates but "hefted"them,I am convinced..I could not feel more satisfied and at rest if the entire Whitmer family had testified.." Samuel Clements opinion and mine also..In the 21st century we would consider the witnesses to the plates as being extremely biased ; thus rendering their testimony unreliable,or at the very least suspect..

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

From Black's Law Dictionary, Direct Evidence is:

Evidence in form of testimony from a witness who actually saw, heard or touched the subject of questioning. Evidence, which if believed, proves existence of fact in issue without inference or presumption...distinguished from circumstantial evidence, which is often called "indirect."

There is direct evidence for the plates, as Mike stated, through the three and eight witnesses. Direct evidence for the translation process is found through the words of Emma and others who observed and/or participated in the process of Joseph reading from his hat or earlier the covered plates while a scribe wrote down what he dictated.

It seems to me the words of the three and eight witnesses are the most important direct evidence as they claim seeing an angel, the plates, and other physical BofM related items. Emma and others claim to observing a remarkable process but not to seeing anything physical (However, Emma may have felt the plates under a cloth).

In terms of direct evidence it comes down to this. Do you believe the Three/Eight Witnesses saw what they said they did?

Everything else is indirect or based on a personal spiritual witness/faith.

Otis Spurlock
Ogden, UT


I'm in. Let's get this thing started!

Murray, UT

I'd like to see what you have to say. Let me know your plans.

Phoenix, AZ

I am happy for Mr. Ash, he has a wonderful gift. And when he completes his work of proofing the book of Mormon, using his talented gifts of hidden reason, lodgic and mystical detection he will be needed to proof Big Foot, UFOs, Atlantis, Cibola and so many other phenomenons that are not apparent to the free world.

Benton City, WA

Sorry for all the typos in my previous post,I am not quite awake yet,Starbucks having not kicked in yet...I,of course,meant Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)and I quoted from "Roughing It";a very funny book that one should read if personal sensibilities are not too tender..At any rate when any person in this age maintains that eye-witness testimony is better than DNA (not a verbatim analogy)they need to be called on it..How many people sat in prison or on death row in America,convicted on eye-witness testimony before scientific DNA testing set them free..Even then a great number of the witnesses still maintained that they were not mistaken,that their eyes did not lie to them..I am not saying that eye-witness testimony is always wrong and it is an important tool in our everyday lives..It is just that we all have our biases and prejudices and sometimes we transfer that into what we see..I do believe that the witnesses to the plates desired strongly to envision them,and in their minds they probably did..That does not make it real for the rest of us..

Searching . . .
Orem, UT

JM: I need some clarification of your proposal. Your writing style makes it difficult to understand exactly what the proposal is, and if I'm agreeing to something, I want to make sure I understand it.

"Critics agree to similarity, or disagree with good reason only."

Who will be the judge of "good reason"? Is there a moderator?

"after establishing 25 similarities including some/all above, all your screenames will admit detailed evidence each comment, and will stop being critical of LDS faith etc."

It's unclear to me what the goal is here. You will keep providing evidences until the 25 similarities are complete? Of the 25 evidences you present, you must provide enough justification for all of them? I don't understand.

Also, is being critical of your claims equal to being critical of your faith? I try to be sensitive to matters of faith, but it's difficult to know where the line is drawn. Is it archaeology, church history, Moroni's promise?

Anyway, firm up your proposition and I will probably agree.

Otis Spurlock
Ogden, UT

According to Michael Ash's logic, we all must believe in Bigfoot (because there are thousands of eye-witnesses) we all must believe in UFO abductions (because there are thousands of eye-witnesses) we all must believe in the Loch Ness Monster (because there are thousands of eye-witnesses) we all must believe in the Strangite's Religion (because there are eye-witnesses) we all must believe in the Shaker's Religion (because there are over 500 eye witnesses) we all must believe in Catholiscm (because there are thousands of witnesses) etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

Michael, can't you see that you just shot yourself in your foot by claiming that eye witnesses are direct evidence?

Scottsdale, AZ

I think the greatest evidence against the BoM's authenticity is just to read the book itself, after becoming acquainted with the wording and chronology of the King James Version. After you've done some firsthand translation work, you will realize just how remotely improbable it is that the BoM is a genuine work.

It seems that the LDS must have a dictation theory of the inspiration of Scripture. On this view, the book of Romans was given word-by-word to Paul from God, and thus Paul's own writing tendencies are not evidenced in the text. Therefore, the LDS can have KJV quotes from Romans in the BoM 500 years before Paul was even born. But this theory is clearly not the case. The Pauline literature has Paul's fingerprints all over it. When you translate from Paul, for instance, and then the Gospel of John or the book of Hebrews, the Greek styles are COMPLETELY different.

If I had even one uncited sentence in a research paper that matched one of my resource's sentences, I would be legitimately removed from the class for plagiarism. Surely you professors at BYU can relate to that.

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