Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Joseph Smith's account of the Restoration is difficult to counter’

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Published: Thursday, April 26 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Moontan
Roanoke, VA

This is a great piece.

Brilliant, educated men and women the world over have tried to prove the BoM a fake since its publication. To no avail. Now, standby as the anti/ex-Mormons who frequent this site line up to prove they are smarter.

Didn't an Apostle state recently that 'a bad man couldn't have written the BoM, and a good man wouldn't"?

A very accurate statement.

rafael
orem, UT

Isn't the burden of proof on the brilliant, educated men and women of Mormonism? Was Muhammad a "bad man" for writing the Quran? Does Mr. Peterson think Muhammad hallucinated or lied concerning Islam? Hmmmm.

m.g. scott
LAYTON, UT

I know that a testimony of the restored church should not be based upon historical or physical evidence. Nevertheless I do find it interesting when these types of things about the origins of the church come up. It would seem to me that if the whole Joseph Smith/Book of Mormon thing were a fraud, then by now it would have been well disproven. But it seems that what happens is the opposite. The more attempts to disprove it, the more it ends up adding historical truth to the story. What is it that investigators say when searching for facts. When all possible things have been exhausted, the only other conclusion is the impossible.

Moontan
Roanoke, VA

One would first have to define what evidence be accepted at 'proof'. To many, proof has been established; to others, it has not, nor can it be.

Muhammad didn't write the Quran. The question of his character must be decided upon how he lived his life.

Nobody disagrees that one person can have intricate hallucinations. Nobody agrees that 2 or more people can have the exact same intricate hallucination. Two or more may see a mirage at the same time, yes, but to share the same detailed instructive auditory hallucination is impossible.

Brahmabull
sandy, ut

I find it interesting that Peterson claims that there is not one shred of evidence that Joseph made this all up. He fails to mention that not one shred of evidence exists that supports Josephs claims either. The gold plates supposedly were taken somehow by Moroni. The Urim and Thummim were taken by Moroni too. Yet the seer stones Joseph used weren't taken up by Moroni? Moroni forgot to take those with the other artifacts, and they are in the church vault now. The only 2 items that would prove the book of mormon to be of ancient origins were taken back by Moroni, leaving no proof of their existance.
Nothing about the story adds up, yet people believe it. Not only do they believe it, but many claim to KNOW somehow that these events happened.

sitichon
PROVIDENCE, UT

To rafael,
The following taken from wiki.answers on the question of the origin of the Quran: "... Muhammad, and others, would memorize the revealed verses and, under the guidance of Gabriel, Muhammad organized these verses into the existing surahs.
“The intervention of Gabriel in ordering the various verses in Islamic history is meant to guarantee not only the sanctity of the individual verses, but the religious validity….
“The Qur'an was an oral text throughout the lifetime of Muhammad … The complete text resided only in the memories of Muahmmad and his followers. As he added verses and reorganized the text, his followers would rememorize the text…. Certain verses revealed to Muhammad were later repudiated by him as "satanic" verses revealed not by Gabriel but by Satan. These verses were expunged from the text that so many had memorized."
Do you see anything strikingly conflicting in this? First it states that the angel Gabriel made sure that Muhammad had it right, then later Muhammad rejected some verses as satanic. Muhammad couldn't tell the difference. How do we know how many other verses would have been deleted/altered by him had he lived longer to identify more errors?

sitichon
PROVIDENCE, UT

To rafael,
The following taken from wiki.answers on the question of the origin of the Quran: "... Muhammad, and others, would memorize the revealed verses and, under the guidance of Gabriel, Muhammad organized these verses into the existing surahs.
“The intervention of Gabriel in ordering the various verses in Islamic history is meant to guarantee not only the sanctity of the individual verses, but the religious validity….
“The Qur'an was an oral text throughout the lifetime of Muhammad … The complete text resided only in the memories of Muahmmad and his followers. As he added verses and reorganized the text, his followers would rememorize the text…. Certain verses revealed to Muhammad were later repudiated by him as "satanic" verses revealed not by Gabriel but by Satan. These verses were expunged from the text that so many had memorized."
Do you see anything strikingly conflicting in this? First it states that the angel Gabriel made sure that Muhammad had it right, then later Muhammad rejected some verses as satanic? How do we know how which verses would have been deleted/altered by him had he lived longer to identify more errors or review the text?

aaazzz
Murray, UT

I am glad that there is a forum where articles like this can be written and displayed.

I would like it much more if they were done using a bibliography with sources and additional reading. I feel like articles like this encourage more thought and opportunities for growth when they are backed by research rather than opinion.

Commonman
HENDERSON, NV

Dear Brahmabull,

The pattern of knowing, supported by the Bible and the Book of Mormon, mandates the necessity of receiving a personal revelatory confirmation in response to personal serious inquiry. "Seek and ye shall find, ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you." Without the presupposition of the existence of God and the reality of this mandate, no serious religious presumption remains possible. Thus doubters, never asking, will continue to doubt and sometimes mock, remaining forever inwardly tentative but outwardly assertive of their doubt. Seekers, asking, find.

conservative scientist
Lindon, UT

Thank you for your many insightful articles Dr. Peterson. I enjoy reading them and the insightful perspectives you bring.

sitichon
PROVIDENCE, UT

To BrahmaBull,
I think you need to review the meaning of evidence. A testimony in a court of law is evidence, so why can't it be considered evidence here? There is just as much evidence that Joseph Smith's story is true as there is that Jesus Christ's story is true.

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

@Brahmabull
"He fails to mention that not one shred of evidence exists that supports Josephs claims either."
------------

The book itself is the evidence.

I mean no disrespect whatsoever to critics who don't believe. But, really, after 180 years, numerous theories have come and gone and today critics themselves disagree on what theory for the Book of Mormon to accept. That is the evidence that so many want.

My only wish is that this would raise an eyebrow and lead to discarding, if only momentarily any criticism towards the Book of Mormon and humbly read it, sincerely desiring to know if it is true - then asking God the Father if it is true, and receiving the soft, still answer confirming its truth. My life has been enormously blessed because of my testimony of the truthfulness of the LDS Church and the Book of Mormon.

atl134
Salt Lake City, UT

There are over 100 religions in the world. I don't think people go through and try and disprove 99 so that they get to the 1 they think is true. Burden of proof is held by Joseph Smith's side. I can't say with 100% surety that it's not true... but I think there's insufficient evidence that it is true.

"However, raving lunacy scarcely seems to explain the lengthy, coherent and complex "

I thought a stereotype for artists and writers was that they could sometimes be raving lunatics. (Not that I think Smith was one... just that I don't think this is a good argument.)

"saw and "hefted" the mysterious objects he possessed,"

Didn't some of them only heft objects that were covered in cloth?

"How does it account for his willingness to suffer greatly (in Liberty Jail, for instance, and during Zion's Camp) and ultimately to die for his claims?"

If he made it all up the fastest way he'd get killed would be to tell his loyal followers who gave up so much that he was playing them for chumps.

atl134
Salt Lake City, UT

One problem is that even if Joseph Smith's account is true, these two things are what he would do if it were a hoax, so they're reason for suspicion...
If it were made up... Joseph Smith would conveniently make the plates disappear.
If it were made up... Joseph Smith would make an excuse to say the second translation would be different from the first.

KTC John
Wetumpka, AL

For me, the contents of the Book of Mormon alone constitute overwhelming evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the claimed restoration is the product of genuine revelations from God. If Spaulding actually wrote the Book of Mormon, then he should be considered a prophet of God.

rafael
orem, UT

sitichon,
In relation to your last inquiry concerning Muhammad's confusion, I wonder how Joseph's theology and cosmology would have continued to change and evolve if he had lived longer and was able to go back and correct the errors of his earlier revelations. Muhammad and his followers seemed to follow a pattern of redaction that is very similar to Mormonism as they both try to make sense as they age. It seems that mormons use different scopes of credibility when examining Islam and their own beliefs.

rafael
orem, UT

Sitichon,
Joseph's various vision accounts would leave a prosecutor salivating to get him on the stand in a court of law. Credible witnesses? Martin Harris? David Whitmer? Lucy? Oliver? The testimonies would not help your evidentiary case. I'd settle out of court, and continue practicing an optimistic faith.

Mormoncowboy
Provo, Ut

The simplist theory for The Book of Mormon doesn't include angels and visions, and doesn't require Solomon Spaulding. The simplist theory for the book is that it was produced in the same way as any other book, ie, someone wrote it. The exploited ommission in these kinds of arguments is that it is nearly impossible to account for the day-to-day going's on of Joseph Smith's life during this period, with enough detail that would make an alternative theory reasonable. This however doesn't narrow the possible explanations, but rather opens them wide up. There are a number of possible explanations, but how can anyone be expected to provide documentation on Joseph Smith's activities in rural 1820's New York, before his period of fame. Who would have been reporting on him with that level of detail? That is why the onus is on Peterson to prove his argument that Joseph Smith was a Prophet. If his proof only amounts to "you can't prove otherwise" then he is suggesting that belief as a default is most logical. Generally it works the other way around.

Moontan
Roanoke, VA

The gold plates are really immaterial as far as faith in the BoM goes. Claims of a 'convenient confiscation by Moroni' make no sense. Using that as an excuse to dismiss the BoM makes for a weak, if not useless, argument.

Suppose we had them on display? What would it prove? Would skeptics touch, handle them and scream "I believe! I believe!"? Not likely. We'd hear the same worn arguments that Joseph made those, too. Used an unknown language. Nobody can read them, so it's proof that it is all a canard.

@Critics ... the truth or falsehood of the Book of Mormon rests on only two things: 1) its very existence, which includes its content, and 2) the testimony of Joseph concerning how that existence came about, which includes how he lived his imperfect life based upon that testimony.

BYU Track Star
Los Angeles, CA

In Fawn McKay Brodie's, biography on the Joseph Smith, "No Man knows my history" it was mentioned that there were two earlier written accounts of the "first vision". One saying he was 16, not 14 as the official story states and these first vision documents are in the Church's possession. The questions never answered anywhere to my knowlege is. Do these documents exist? What does this mean if they exist ?

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