Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: A simple explanation works best for the Restoration’

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Published: Thursday, May 3 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

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KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

I love dispelling the Spaulding theory. It has more holes than Swiss cheese. First you have the fact that many of the people that claim the manuscript used the same names as the Book of Mormon were in Ohio. That would mean it would have to be the first manuscript not second manuscript that was used. Second people in Pennsylvania also claimed the names were the same only fewer people here made the claim than in Ohio. So the existence of a second manuscript is unlikely. Third when the manuscript was found in Hawaii it has been studied, midway through the manuscript is found a page written on the back of a letter written to him after he had moved to Pennsylvania (it is actually dated) This tells us it is likely that the part before that page was written in Ohio and after that page was clearly written in Pennsylvania. All of a sudden the supposed two manuscripts become one single manuscript again and the theory fails.

Full-on double rainbow
Bluffdale, UT

I assume you avoid talking about BOM anachronisms and translation process on purpose. That way you can write a nice fluffy article without addressing any meaningful criticism at all.


Full-on D R: Maybe he'll get to that in a future article. Stay on topic. This one was simply about the origin of the book.

Murray, UT

As I have stated before, these articles do not have references or additional reading. I find it hard to accept opions that cannot be cross referenced.

It is one thing to say the Spadling theory is false. It is another thing to use multiple sources to demonstrate why that is the case.

I have no problem with faith and personal testimonies, but I feel like this series is meant to be a scholarly endeavor. That is why it is dissapointing that the author wants me to accept his opinion as fact, rather than a hypothesis based on evidence.



I wish too but they can't give a hypothesis based on evidence. It's called faith for a reason. Shouldn't even be considered an opinion.

Truth is there's no proving it's true but there's TONS of evidence that can prove it's false. Yet the faithful cling on.

Searching . . .
Orem, UT

KC Mormon: That doesn't explain separate accounts of the names and stories in the BoM matching so well with the witnesses' memory of the Spalding document.

Missing documents: I find it ironic that logical people would reject that there might have been two different Spalding documents and ridicule the theory that the pertinent one might be lost, then would explain that the Book of Abraham was actually translated not from the papyrus in the Church archives but rather from another scroll that was destroyed by fire. Seems a bit disingenuous to me. For myself, I'll wait to see which is found first, the Spalding document or the golden plates (yes, I did Moroni's promise multiple times).

Stylometry: I would use a similar criticism of the FARMS stylometric study as that of the one they refuted: why leave out the writings of Sidney Rigdon that are so similar to the BoM? Maybe the reason his writings were so influenced by the BoM is because he wrote it.

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

Lets follow the logic here. People in Ohio claim that the names in the Book of Mormon match those of the Spaulding Manuscript. People in Pennsylvania also say that the names in the Spaulding Manuscript match those in the Book of Mormon. As Spaulding left Ohio in 1812 this would mean that they both had to see the same manuscript. If you claim that he changed the manuscript when he came to Pennsylvania and that is were the Book of Mormon names were added then how did the people in Ohio see those names? All the supposed witnesses spell the names the exact same way as the PUBLISHED version of the Book of Mormon. This is interesting as spelling was not standardized yet. The Book of Mormon manuscript actually has names being spelt differently several times (common for the time). Now half way through the Spaulding manuscript you find a page written on the back of a letter dated Jan 1812 after he had moved to Pennsylvania. Clearly the Pennsylvania manuscript and the Ohio manuscript were one and the same.

Searching . . .
Orem, UT

KC Mormon: So it is impossible for an author to write two different manuscripts at the same time over a period of years? Couldn't have Cowdery, after the transcription, have standardized on the spelling from the originating document?

Simplicity: In relying on a supernatural explanation, you need also explain the nature of your supernatural being, how it operates in the natural world, how it differs from other supernatural beings, why it differs, what its motives are, how those motives differ from other supernatural beings, where it came from, why it is interested in the natural world, etc. Some specific questions might be: Why, if prophecy and guiding His children is of utmost importance, did God leave his children leaderless from the death of Paul until the alleged restoration? Why have Mormon and Moroni spend the effort of creating golden plates, etching their history in a strange script, hiding them from enemies intent on destroying their faith and culture, packing them thousands of miles from mesoamerica to bury them in New York with the needed translators, only to have Joseph Smith hide them all and use a peep stone he found while digging a well to access the translation.

sandy, ut

It is funny how the moderators will allow people to bash all other explanations to the book of momon, but won't allow any questioning of the book of mormon. Any opinions opposing the true church are denied. Funny.

Full-on double rainbow
Bluffdale, UT

Good point. I guess i have never really been inpressed with the spaulding theory.

Huntington Beach, CA

Hey guys, if you believe the LDS church is false, why do you continue to read DN? Are you all just incredibly bitter people with a bone to pick or what?

sandy, ut

Petersen definately jumps to a false conclusion.

First, Petersen is making light of the fact that some claim there is a "second unknown Spaulding manuscript", like it could not even be possible. To me, that second manuscript sounds oddly familiar to the lost pages of the book of mormon.... It is not believeable that god would punish Joseph by not allowing him to retranslate those pages, but allow him still to translate the rest of the book. It can't be true in my opinion.

The notion that Smith's story is more likely than any other theory is wishful thinking.

Recap: Joseph was told by an angel to go dig up plates of gold to translate them. He starts, and loses the first 116 pages, and is punished by god. God takes away the Urim and Thummim, and tells Joseph he can still translate but only using a seer stone in a hat. After translation, Joseph gives said plates back to angel to take away, leaving no trace whatsoever. This is the MOST unlikely scenario of them all. I don't know how he got the Book of Mormon, but I don't believe his story.

Phoenix, AZ

It is ironic that Mr. Peterson presents his article arguing the authenticity of the Book of Mormon accompanied with a painting of witnesses of the Book of Mormon that is totally inaccurate as to any physical witness to the supposed golden plates. It helps explain how myth is manufactured and expanded.

Provo, Ut

Just as Nibley, Peterson is taking some seriously great liberties with Occams Razor. The logic is really absurd when applied to the supernatural. Giving preference to the simplist explanations, with no restriction on supernatural postulations, almost always results in a supernatural conclusion. Is it simpler to believe that a persons poor health is the consequence of a combination genetics inherited through generations of dormancy, or through cellular mutations from enviromental exposures, or to believe that it is simply the punishment for sinning against God? Is it simpler to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the product of an evolving ideological conflict, wrought by complex and abberant psychological motivators, or to simply believe that he was possessed by an evil spirit?

Unfortunately for Peterson however, the proof is in his rhetorical style. Why must he resort to these strained contortions on logic and heuristics? Because, reasonable proof doesn't exist. We don't need to prove who authored The Book of Mormon. So far, we have no good reason to believe that represents an actual history. In which case, the only reasonable conclusion is fiction. From there, it's just a matter of details.

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

I always get a kick out of the way critics stretch logic to make their theories work then complain LDS do the same thing.
Searching now theorizes that Spaulding was simultaneously writing both a first and second draft and that this went on for the entire time. That the second draft changed names and ideas yet he continued to write the first draft. Has anyone EVER known an author to do this?
When facts the actual manuscript show a theory is false rather than try a new idea they just reinvent the old ones. How about this fact, why did Spauldings wife and daughter tell Hurlburt that the manuscript they gave him was the one he was looking fopr with the same names as the Book of Mormon? Why did he not publish it? Answer is simple they had not actually read the manuscript in close to 20 years they had however read parts of the Book of Mormon shared by Hurlbut. He never published it because when he read it he knew it was a false claim.


What is interesting to me is that it seems some of the same people who feel angel visitations to Joseph Smith, are to impossible or ridiclous to believe and so would call them "supernatural" -- maybe haven't realized how many angels are involved in the Bible record of Jesus birth, and throughout Old and New Testaments?

Stay the Course
Salt Lake City, utah

Just as Peterson points out the critics follow exactly the pattern described in his article as they comment.
l valfre where is this TONS of evidence you indicate exists?

Provo, UT

The most simple explanation for who wrote the Book of Mormon is actually Joseph Smith as he began this whole religion thing well before 1829, when the book was allegedly first started to be translated.

He had plenty of time to write the book and use fill in from the Bible as needed and for source material for the Book of Mormon, use other texts including:
a. the Spaulding doc
b. View on the Hebrews (Ethan Smith)
c. other multiple literary works

-- that all claim Native Americans descended from the Middle East.

It was common around the early 19th century and late 18th century for Christians to posit that the Native American's were either from the Lost 10 Tribes or somehow descended from the Middle East.

The one flaw in Joseph Smith's claim that he translated the book from gold plates is that said plates are no longer available which would be his source material (dog ate my homework excuse). We are supposed to just accept his word that they existed as he said they did. Those 11 witnesses of the Book of Mormon each never claimed they saw with their physical eyes, those gold plates.

Sandy, UT

I find it interesting that Dr Peterson chooses to publish these segments in the most mainstream pro-LDS publication, and then his readers apparently end up being largely antagonistic. I suppose it's a good reflection on the neutrality or tolerance of the DN staff that the antagonistic comments are published, though.

As Peterson suggests, the "easiest" explanations given for a non-inspired Book of Mormon tend to have gaps at least as large as those in the "easiest" explanations for an inspired Book of Mormon. Faith asks one to accept holes in understanding, at least temporarily, where pure reason is more obligated to fill them in, or try to.

The resulting beauty is that it all comes down to choice- the God of Mormonism presents a story and people choose whether they want to believe it or believe alternate explanations. What determines who ends up wanting/choosing what, I don't know.


@Stay the Course,

I don't have time to pull them all up. I'm not afraid to read non-approved literature about the church. And you'll find all the 'anti-literature' is official church literature that's been revised and changed many many times to cover up the real truth.

Don't let an organization dictate where you get your information from. Read into it yourself you know it's out there. Have the courage and be rational with yourself.

And no I don't take what I see in Wiki and other sites without a grain of salt. The original official church literature doesn't lie if you have the courage to read and understand it.

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