Book of Mormon's consistency, complexity still amaze

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  • TIM0THY Spanish Fork, UT
    April 21, 2014 9:02 p.m.

    I liked this article. After reading all of the comments, I realized that there were some people who said one thing, while obviously believing something else. For example, one repeating commentator started a lot of comments with, "...not wanting to harm anyone...", but then they used a certain amount of opinion and the weaving of words to do just that. It was a fascinating study in human nature. It seemed obvious that some commentators were only interested in attempting to throw out as much "damaging" information as possible, probably hoping to "save" some poor Mormon. Apparently, many of these people had previously been members, themselves. I had to question, like many others, why they couldn't just let it go. What was the obsession with attempting to destroy someone else's faith? It seems like there is no middle ground for most people. I suppose that is essentially what the Angel Moroni told Joseph Smith, "Your name will be had for both good and evil..." Not only is that statement true about Joseph's name, but likewise about the Book of Mormon and the LDS church. And thus the angel's words prove to be!

  • Commonman HENDERSON, NV
    April 1, 2014 8:10 a.m.

    Dear Grace,

    Peterson's article commented more on the complexity of the Book of Mormon than on the feelings of those who read it. Additionally, I have found scores of examples of chiastic passages outside of those that reference the Brass Plates. I read regularly from both the Old and New Testament and find in them truth. They give me the same feeling that I get when I read the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.

    I am also curious. Why, after spending the time to discount feelings as a measure of validity, did you attempt to establish the truth of the Bible by proclaiming your "infatuation" with any translation? Why should your feelings count for any more than my feelings, or anyone elses if you discount feelings as an indicator of truth?

  • kc girl Edgerton, Ks
    Oct. 30, 2011 7:34 p.m.

    I am using my wife's account because I have used all 4 of my posts and you accused me of making things up. Simple fact is just because you have taught Sunday School does not mean that you have researched the facts about the white to pure change out. I have and the first time the change was made was in 1840. Try researching the 1840 edition. Later editions printed after the Death of Joseph used the manuscript used in the first European editions before the change that was made after the death of Joseph with his papers packed up they were "lost" to history for a long time in the Church archives. But because you asked for PROOF how about the Church's own web site.
    "To clarify meaning, Joseph Smith changed the word white to pure in the 1840 edition. Later American editions did not show this change because they had followed the first European and 1837 editions. The Prophets wording was restored in the 1981 edition"
    From LDS dot org gospel topics Book of Mormon changes. Next time you would like to say I lie try researching my answer first.

  • Chris Degn Seoul, Korea
    Oct. 29, 2011 3:36 p.m.

    @Vanka, the mere fact, as you claim, that you keep coming to church and keep studying the Book of Mormon - FOR 20 YEARS - is proof enough, brother! So, you haven't seen an angel, heard a trump sound, or anything spectacular like that, but SOMETHING keeps bringing you. The fruit tastes good, but you want the fruit to talk to you. Well, that only happens in Youtube movies. Listen to your tastebuds.

    That attraction must be the Spirit promised in Moroni 10:3-5. You just aren't recognizing it. No simple uninspired book would keep you coming back - especially to the level that you keep coming back. You would have moved on sometime ago. I ask you to think about that.

  • Everest American Fork, UT
    Oct. 29, 2011 3:21 p.m.

    OnlytheCross. I really appreciate your passion for Christ and for the Bible. We live in an amoral and anti-religious world, and it is refreshing to hear from someone with such passion for the cause of Christianity. So few others really practice what they preach, and you are a great example who does. I would simply ask that you recognize the sincere feelings others have for Christ as well. Whether you accept the Book of Mormon or not, we can both agree with this line from that book:

    "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

  • OnlytheCross Bakersfield, CA
    Oct. 29, 2011 2:59 p.m.

    Idaho Coug, I understand your point here, as we also do ministry in impoverished countries. I'm certain the people are grateful for all help they receive. That's a given. Unfortunately, Hamas, the Taliban, Communistas,etc., also provide a lot of charity in their respective countries. Biblically-speaking, that has nothing to do with the true message of salvation in Christ, or eternal life in His Father's Kingdom. That is just from the pages of His Book. I also believe that if you are indwelt by His Holy Spirit, you will obey and be doing all you can to follow His will for you, making disciples and blessing others...

    But if you are preaching your own gospel here, that the doctrines and false teachings of those dispensing the charity don't matter, then you have "another gospel than the one first delivered to the saints." For Biblical Christians, whether you minister to the poor and perform miracles in Christ's own Name, that alone does not signify that Christ knows you. "He who has the Son has eternal life. He who does not have the Son, does not have eternal life.".

    Mormonism and BoM adds works to the finished work of Christ.

  • watcher@75 SMITHFIELD, UT
    Oct. 29, 2011 2:24 p.m.

    We who live on this earth are not the universe's supreme beings. Those Who are the Supreme Beings do not have to share with us all of Their knowledge regardless how much we demand it. Surely, if God decides to test our faith, He can easily conceal historical evidence until we are ready to accept what we find. Because, once we accept what we find, whole new concepts, ideas, facts, and scientific finds with be unveiled. The Book of Mormon is but an abridgment of history. More importantly, it is a work of God given to us to help us increase in faith. He desires to give us much much more, but we must prove we are ready by the way we reference His gifts.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Oct. 29, 2011 12:03 p.m.

    RE: Jeff. The KJV/3Nephi Sermon on the Mount. LDS Scholar Dr. Larson finds 12 examples where JS copied the 1769 KJV errors.
    Stan Larson, The MS discoveries since the KJV have provided a much better understanding of the Sermon on the Mount. Greek MS 200 A.D. thru Latin, Syriac, Coptic and patristic early support, which leads to the original text. These are earlier and better texts of Matthews Sermon on the Mount. There is unanimity support by modern scholars, but The BoM never takes us to a verifiable text in antiquity.

    @IdahoCcoug; If it(Mormonism) encourages us to focus on the trivial such as what we eat, Drink. True,.
    Wine was used by: Noah Gen 9:20,21; Melchizedek Gen 14:18; Isaac Gen 27:25; Jesus John: 2: 1-11; Timothy 1Tim 5:23 : the Apostles Acts 2:13. TR today ?

  • DRay Roy, UT
    Oct. 29, 2011 6:07 a.m.

    Great article, glad I read it, thanks DN.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Oct. 29, 2011 1:40 a.m.

    At least for me, the doctrinal questions and rituals we find so important are in actuality so inconsequential as to be almost sinful when compared to the suffering of so many millions of our brothers and sisters.

    Today was an interesting visit to the Deseret News webpage for me. On one hand I read this article and the comments and was almost dismayed at how much time, emphasis and importance we place on things that I believe mean absolutely nothing in the end.

    And then I saw an article about the time, efforts and money the LDS Church is putting into the severe famine and drought throughout Eastern Africa (where I happen to be at the moment). It gave me hope and reminded me what I love about the Church and religion in general.

    I believe it all comes down to what we actually emphasize and place as priorities in our religious lives. If religion encourages us to serve and love the needy then it can be wonderful. If it encourages us to focus on the trivial such as what we eat, drink, wear, read or believe then it robs us of what this life is really all about.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Oct. 29, 2011 1:31 a.m.

    I haven't been on for a while but enjoyed the interesting (and largely unchanged) points of view regarding this topic.

    Over time as I have studied, prayed and pondered - it has become extremely clear that at least for me the most important thing is what I do to serve and love others. And there is no question that I do not do enough.

    My job takes me to some very underdeveloped parts of the world and the degree of poverty and suffering is unimagineable for those who do not see and experience it. To the thousands who are dying daily from hunger, thirst and exposure, the question of whether the BofM is historical is as inconsequential as you could possibly imagine.

    When you actually see children dying of thirst, the question of whether God wants us to drink coffee or tea becomes literally pathetic. For those who have nothing to wear, the emphasis on whether we do or don't wear our garments is literally bazarre. How many lives could the money spent on one chapel, temple, shopping mall, or even a single chapel painting save?


  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Oct. 28, 2011 10:38 p.m.

    %Bill of Nebraska: Some postings are more interesting, insightful, thoughtful and educational than others; some are boring and just parroting rote teachings.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Oct. 28, 2011 9:54 p.m.

    It seems the censors pick and choose what they will allow and what they won't. The other day they allowed a comment then an hour later denied it. Later another individual said the same thing I said slightly different but the same thing and it was approved. Tonight I made a comment but was denied but a person from the opposite side was able to have their comments stated. Pagen/Pagan; Vanka/The Vanka have been allowed in many instances to voice their opinions twice as many as others. Either all are allowed or none.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 28, 2011 9:37 p.m.

    Don't forget about the many anachronisms. Those weren't mentioned in the article.

  • ugger Payson, UT
    Oct. 28, 2011 9:03 p.m.

    Grace from Bakersfield

    We get it. You no longer believe in the teachings of the LDS church and you left it many years ago. It also appears that like many others who have left, you can't leave it alone. Just let it go. Put it in your past and forget about it. If you do this, I am sure that you will find increased peace and happiness in your life.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 28, 2011 8:05 p.m.

    Nothing historical about it. Not one thing.

  • Ansalom GILROY, CA
    Oct. 28, 2011 5:37 p.m.

    @Jeff: What? Joseph Smith used the Dead Sea Scrolls while he was translating the Book of Mormon? I've never heard this theory before.

    There are other reasons why scholars think that 40-66 were not written by Isaiah. Among these are (1) Isaiah's name stops appearing and (2) many things written in those chapters, even if Isaiah foresaw them, would not have made any sense to Isaiah's contemporaries.

    It's not true that scholars base their beliefs solely on a disbelief in prophecy, because there are parts of Proto-Isaiah that also contain prophecy, yet the same scholars do not therefore argue that Isaiah did not write them.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Oct. 28, 2011 5:15 p.m.

    The one and only thing that amazes me about the book of mormon is that people still believe that it is historical fact, rather than the fiction that I believe it to be.

  • defender TWIN FALLS, ID
    Oct. 28, 2011 4:29 p.m.

    Vanca, or any others who have been unable to find answers to your questions about the validity of the Book of Mormon, I don't pretend to know all the circumstances of your search for truth but, I do know that the Lord requires humility and faith. Your comment seems to lack both. Sorry if that seems a bit offensive but that is how you come across.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Oct. 28, 2011 4:17 p.m.

    @ Ansalom: Why would Joseph Smith translate the passage from Isaiah (chap 40-66), when modern scholars believe Isaiah did not write them? That could very easily be because modern scholars are wrong. They have been before. Or maybe Joseph was really translating the Dead Sea Scrolls, whose Isaiah scroll (dating 125 BCE) includes the so-called "Deutero-Isaiah"?

    I disagree with you about the reasons for scholars' thinking Isaiah 40-66 was written by someone else; I think scholars posit that simply because they do not believe Isaiah could have been so prophetic as to specifically name Babylon as the conqueror of Judah more than a century and a half before it happened.

    In the Book of Mormon, you will also note that Nephi uses the Isaiah-Babylon text to convince his brothers of the truthfulness of the coming of the Messiah and their own father's visions. It is Nephi's (and later others') commentaries on Isaiah (along with pertinent variations in the text from the KJV) that transcend the accusation that Joseph merely copied the KJV, and help to support Daniel Petersen's assertion of the book's complexity and consistency.

  • Uncle Rico Sandy, UT
    Oct. 28, 2011 1:08 p.m.

    The Book of Mormon is wonderful, refreshing and literally time proof.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Oct. 28, 2011 12:47 p.m.

    Windsor - not only are your comments offensive to most non LDS people, I am sure it is offensive to most LDS people. You are not an example of how LDS people should act. Judging Vanka without knowing him personally is just stupid. You don't know anything about him. You claims he should sit there as a quiet "non-believer" as you put it. So either he should lie and say he believes, or just sit there and have his own beliefs ignored?? That doesn't make sense. In a relationship both peoples beliefs matter, but never one spouse more than the other. If one believes and one doesn't why should the one who doesn't believe have to remain silent? That is not only rediculous, but it makes you look like you have some things to work on.

  • Ansalom GILROY, CA
    Oct. 28, 2011 12:08 p.m.

    It is widely accepted that what we now have as chapters 40-66 of Isaiah were written decades after the destruction of Jerusalem, and too long after Nephi's acquisition of the Brass Plates for that text to have been present on them. The reasons for accepting this are numerous, and are not predicated solely on the notion that prophets cannot foretell future events.

    So how did some of these chapters end up in Nephi's writing on golden plates? Was Joseph Smith inspired to add them to his translation even though Nephi never actually wrote them?

  • LostinaCoinToss MERRILL, MI
    Oct. 28, 2011 11:41 a.m.

    "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." -- Jesus Christ, as recorded in Matthew 7:15

  • VocalLocal Salt Lake, UT
    Oct. 28, 2011 11:03 a.m.

    To be fair you need to look at all the problems of the Book of Mormon. Besides being complex and containing intricate stories it also:
    1. Contains large chunks of the King James Bible verbatim-including mistranslations.
    2. Was for some unknown reason was translated into ridiculously sloppy King James English.
    3. Contains a history which thus far has a strikingly poor correspondence to the known history of the pre-Columbian Americans. The culture described in it's pages sounds more like Europe or early colonial America than the Inca, Maya, Aztec or any other known ancient culture in America.

    These are few of the many other problems with the text. I don't deny that it has been very influential and that it's author had relatively little education but many poor and uneducated men have had the natural genuis to create influential works.

  • Andermart Pullman, WA
    Oct. 28, 2011 10:55 a.m.

    mhenshaw has the correct idea here. I second what he said.

    The Book of Mormon is a translation, just like the English Bible is a translation. As such, not one word of it comes from the pen or from the lips of ancient prophets, or from the lips of the Savior. But every word of it, just like the Bible, is intended to bring to our minds a representation of the meanings and concepts those individuals wanted to convey. You can't get too picky about it. These people existed in a day different from our own, and spoke a different language that our own. The best we can do is try to get to know them through the English words and phrases that we understand. That is what I read when I pick up The Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith, at age 22-23, did a remarkable job, no he did an inspired job, of bringing those meanings and those teachings to our hearts and to our minds. Thank you, Joseph Smith Jr., for giving your life, for suffering all the ridicule, for enduring the many hardships and deprivations that accompanied your mission, for us who would come later.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    Oct. 28, 2011 10:49 a.m.


    I think anyone that has a true testimony of the BOM would understand what you are going through. Getting a testimony is not a one size fits all arrangement. It is tailored to the individual. That burning feeling that people speak of is manifested in so many different ways, but when it happens, the individual they will know it.

    if you sincerely read the book but came away not believing it was true I would not assume that you were not being truthful in what you experienced.
    One important caveat people overlook when they read Moronis admonition is this verse

    Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them Moroni 10:3

    Maybe there is something to that.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Oct. 28, 2011 10:15 a.m.

    @Raybies; God will compel no man to seek Him out?

    No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. (John 6:44) It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy(Romans 9:16 NIV).

    @Raybies: God so loved the world that He gave His son to all people, and told us about Him in more than one way?
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and Only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

    From LDS revelation, however we learn that Jehovah is the English form of the actual name by which the Lord Jesus was known ANCIETLY(D&C 110:3, Abra 2:8) 788 Mormon Doctrine, wrong.
    The spelling Jehovah appeared first during the*-1769 editing of the KJV Bible. The transcription Jehovah is nothing but a misunderstanding by Christian translators of Jewish reading traditions." JS(*owned 1769 version) He saw the KJV not Jesus. Google Tetragrammaton

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Oct. 28, 2011 10:02 a.m.

    Here's my take for Vanka and others who have tried Moroni and get nothing. Go back to Alma 32. If you really want to know, try that formula. The thing about faith is that it has little to do with "belief." Faith is no more about belief than science is. Faith is trial and error. Eventually, as with acquisition of any knowledge, you gain it by experimentation--hard, disciplined, dedicated experimentation. To me the Book is full of pure divine light, but it's taken a lot of years of work to see it at last. You've got to pay the price.

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 28, 2011 9:29 a.m.

    There is a theme that repeatedly comes up in these discussions that results from the mixture of science with the supernatural. As my physics professor says, the supernatural has never been successful in verifying science (e.g. psychics trying to locate missing people), and science has never been successful in verifying the supernatural (despite significant efforts no supernatural event has ever been verified with science).

    What I see in these discussions is that one side tries to battle science with supernatural experiences, and the other side tries to battle those supernatural experiences with science. Each thinks their method trumps the other. I think it's fair to say that from a scientific standpoint, a reasonable person could conclude that the Book of Mormon is not actually an authentic translation of ancient writing on gold plates translated by putting a stone in a hat and having words appear. However, I think that a reasonable person could also conclude that that book is "true" based on some supernatural spiritual experience that has changed their life for the better.

  • tyndale1 Pullman, WA
    Oct. 28, 2011 8:36 a.m.

    There is an excellent, authenticated book released recently called "How We Got The Book of Mormon" in which it's historian authors compare each edition of the Book of Mormon and explain the resultant changes edition to edition. I have also compared the various printings myself. I am fully satisfied that the changes serve to improve grammar and to clarify meanings. The fact that the 1840 as well as the 1981 editions both use ""pure" and delightsome" instead of ""white" and delightsome" should not be a problem for anyone. The two words can be used as synonyms, but the intended meaning is more to do with absence of compromising elements instead of color.

    What excites me about this book is how it leads us to faith in Jesus Christ, and how it authenticates the mission of Joseph Smith as a prophet, seer and revelator.

    For those who are not penetrated by the message of this book, I am so sorry. I wish you could feel the joy I have felt. I wish you could experience the mighty change of heart.

    May the Lord bless you. Stay with it. It really is true, and the The Bible does foretell of it.

  • srh83 Hillsboro, OR
    Oct. 28, 2011 8:26 a.m.

    Another point to consider is that implying that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon is implying that a 21 year old farm boy coined more character names (Nephi, Mormon, Moroni, etc. . . )than William Shakespeare did (Hamlet, Romeo, etc. . . ) over his entire writing career.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 28, 2011 8:00 a.m.

    I really like what Thomas S. Ferguson discovered when he went searching for Book for Mormon archeology.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Oct. 28, 2011 7:57 a.m.

    I'm grateful for the Book of Mormon. It's another testament of Jesus Christ. When I read, ponder and pray about it, I am a better person. In all this, I am grateful that the "proof" of its truthfulness is left to my own personal spiritual pursuits. The spiritual need to ask God in such things--that quest for truth--is a central component of our existence in mortality. We Choose to Believe. Any time God could provide irrefutable proof that the book is from God, but instead, God affords us our agency.

    God will compel no man to seek Him out. He gently whispers to every heart that will hear. We choose the degree we heed those quiet promptings. In such, we prove ourselves.

    Do the best with what you know. Try the experiment of the Word. Little by little, put into practice the things you believe are true. If those truths expand your mind and you find yourself better because of it, then make more choices that expand your understanding. That's the journey of faith.

    God so loved the world that He gave His son to all people, and told us about Him in more than one way.

  • Normal Guy Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 28, 2011 7:14 a.m.

    Having read the Book of Mormon many times I'm not ashamed at all for believing it 100%. The book itself is its own best defender. The stories of courage in the face of adversity (Nephi), taking upon the name of Christ until death (Abinadi), and faith in uncertain times (Moroni) have helped me tremendously. There is absolutely nothing in it that I can't be proud of.

    Let those that want say how many fictional books contain similar inspirational themes, etc, it doesn't bother me in the least. They're right, but it doesn't mean this inspirational book wasn't translated from golden plates by the power of God. The fact is, I felt impressed when I first read the book at age 15 that it was true and after rereading it many times and living by it's teachings for 20 years it's proven for me to be a guide to a happy life.

  • freddysheddy Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 28, 2011 7:08 a.m.

    I am not disagreeing with this article, but a newspaper isn't the forum for this discussion. That is why the church has the ensign and LDS news. The editors need to decide what they want this paper to be... A newspaper or a religious magazine.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Oct. 28, 2011 6:08 a.m.

    Would somebody please tell me what principles are taught in the BoM that help you in your daily life? Don't confuse the culture of the Church with a fictional tale as taught us all from the pulpit at Conference.

  • Grace Bakersfield, CA
    Oct. 28, 2011 2:40 a.m.

    KC from Kansas:
    You can't just make up answers. Where is the documentation to your (flawed) explanation of why the BoM now says pure instead of white? I am 60 years old, was raised LDS for the first 35 years, taught everything you can name, including Gospel Doctrine at my BYU ward SS class, seminary and Relief Society Education lessons. We always taught and were told that the Lamanites skin would literally turn from dark to white. Your gobbledegook (Webster: "languauge characterized by circumlocution and jargon, usually hard to understand"), adds nothing to a coherent explanation for this change in a book which is promoted as infallible.

    Your mention of the chapter summaries has nothing to do with the textual claims that still exist. That the book needed numerous revisions to the poor grammar speaks volumes. It denounces polygamy emphatically, forever nullifying any future revisionism.

    A helpful request: Hit the paragraph spacer, if you wish to be considered seriously. No one reads the diatribes. And try a little kindness in your tone. This is a critique of claims made, not a denouncement of good people or their lifestyle. When someone makes claims that affect your salvation, be a Berean.

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt Beverly Hills, CA
    Oct. 28, 2011 1:10 a.m.

    The Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ have changed my life. I used to be obsessed with material wealth and now I am trying to be a better person, a better family man. It has changed the way I see the world and what I can do to make it better. Read it, pray about it, it can change you if you chose.

  • noinipo Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 28, 2011 12:23 a.m.

    Dear Vanka,

    I'm sorry. I truly am. I know you're tired of reading your name and hearing more critisism. I'm sorry. I understand and accept that you have put forth effort (it is not my place to say the reason of, length of, or tenacity of effort you have placed) But you have put forth effort. I appreciate that. I appreciate that you come here to express that not everyone is a believer and we need to accept that. I'm sorry for the critisism you recieve and for how it must hurt to be judged. I'll just be grateful that you have given (and I hope you continue to give) the Book of Mormon a chance because I do believe that it is true and I hope that one day you are able to recieve that same revelation.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:15 p.m.

    @ Mormoncowboy: Fair enough, though difficult in 200 words. (First, though, I would like to point out that you are doing exactly what I said--you are not addressing the article, and you are trying to redirect the discussion to something irrelevant.)

    1) Elements that demonstrate Hebraisms (besides "And it came to pass" and chiasmus): use of the conjunction in lists; numerical formations; name pairs; verb/noun pairing.

    2) As you know (because you've followed my posts enough to try to characterize them), I have been fed with anti-Mormon propaganda since I was an infant (I grew up in an anti-Mormon home, and I had many anti-Mormon friends). I have considered "all points" very seriously my entire life. I find chiasmus and Nahum very interesting; I am also interested in names in the Book of Mormon, monetary systems, parallels in the Popol Vuh and the Dead Sea Scrolls, mishnah, and the so-called "Lehi stone," for example.

    3) I am perfectly willing to accept the accusation that I believe because I have received a witness from the Spirit, and nothing else really matters to me. I'm sorry that frustrates you.

  • Dan Maloy Enid, OK
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:43 p.m.

    What more can be honestly said other than the Book of Mormon is from God?

    Indeed, I know it is true. It is literally as plain as the nose on my face.

  • User41 Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 9:38 p.m.

    Thanks Dr. Peterson. Your points are well taken and you work much appreciated.

    As I read through the posts here, I'm taken back by the intense participation of those who think the Book of Mormon is bogus or who just have a bone to pick with "Mormonism". It reminds me of the people positioning themselves in Nephi's great and spacious building. If the book is a fraud, and Joseph Smith was a deceiver, and it's so blatantly obvious, then why do they spend so much time pointing the fingers? Don't they have something positive to promote or some constructive things to do?

    I agree with many of the previous posts -- the Spirit of God is the only real way to find and understand truth. But it sure is interesting to examine in fine detail the intricacies of the Book of Mormon. If you take the few 'dirty pebbles' that haven't been explained yet and balance them with the pile of 'gold bricks' that counter them -- there's more than enough evidence to drive any sincere seeker to take a closer look. I think most of us don't realize just how strong of a case (intellectually) there is for the book.

  • Midway Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 8:43 p.m.

    @The Vanka

    I mean no disrespect to you, but having read numerous posts of yours in the comments section on a recent article in the Washington Post, it is rather obvious why God has not answered you prayers: you have too much of a critical attitude towards it, and finding everything wrong with the beliefs while looking for nothing good, and some of your posts seemed rather mocking - seeming to make the point that a Latter-Day Saint must be crazy to believe, etc. (And I am being rather kind in my assessment of your words.) Here on the DNews, you are forced to be more polite.

    No offense, but it is going to be impossible to receive an answer to a prayer when you are blocking it with all kinds of negative feelings.

  • L Kaiser REDMOND, WA
    Oct. 27, 2011 8:23 p.m.

    The Truth says: "God answers when you are ready, when you humble yourself and are willing to be his sheep.
    But from your comments you seem to believe humilty is a negative thing, a sign of weakness.
    Perhaps it will take another twenty years. We all have our personal trials."

    This is the very thing Vanka struggles with, you insult his character or assume He must be wrong in his intentions. I find he has put a whole hearted effort in from what I can see. Maybe I misread, but it seems your saying anyone who doesnt recieve a testimony must have a character flaw? Its seems your implying anyone who doesnt view the BOM as truth must have something wrong with them?

  • Dadof5sons Montesano, WA
    Oct. 27, 2011 7:46 p.m.

    To Vanka For your first post. You ask for evidence for the Book of Mormon. I say there is evidence enough just in the book itself. I may want to ask you were is the evidence that Christ the Lord walked the earth? Do you have any historical records? Out side the Bible? There is none. Save the Bible's word alone. Were one must ask in faith if that is true as well. So it is with Book of Mormon. I wish you the very best in what ever path you traval.

  • scojos Draper, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 7:23 p.m.

    The Book Of Mormon is primarily synthetic, due to its'very attitude(s) against blacks, womenn and plural marriage. God did not inspire Joseph Smith to discriminate against blacks and women. Joseph Smith was a product of his era and like most everybody, watch out here comes the civil war, Joseph Smith merely reflected contemporary attitudes, watch out here comes the disenfranchisement of women. Strange isn't it that these attitudes found their way into the Book Of Mormon. Thee ere no contempoary inconsistencies, oh except one. How in the world could they ever name a University in honor of a polygamist and a child seducer. And they won't even let the students emulate Brighm Young and grow beards. Wow what control freaks

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 7:20 p.m.

    RE: sharrona


    Because Christ couldn't possibly have taught the exact same things to other people? Or that could not be translated the same way?

    RE: Vanka

    You love to judge other as judging you. I read from all your comments as you having great deal of pride. Perhaps that is why you never recieved an answer, you are just not ready.

    I do not believe people have recieve an answer of no, they have just not recieved an answer yet,

    God answers when you are ready, when you humble yourself and are willing to be his sheep.

    But from your comments you seem to believe humilty is a negative thing, a sign of weakness.

    Perhaps it will take another twenty years. We all have our personal trials.

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 7:08 p.m.

    To those who defend the Bible but choose to point to minor issues in the BofM, you do recognize that there are anacronisms in the Bible, name problems, poor word choices/translations, undocumented insertions and changes, etc., etc. No historical book written has EVER been perfect. The BOfM is as close as any.

  • @Charles the greater outdoors, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 6:47 p.m.

    Dear mare54: you conveniently leave a couple of words off when you quote Moroni 8:8 which ends with..."and the law of circumcision is done away in me."

    Huge difference with a law and parental preference, wouldn't you agree? If you disagree with circumcision, don't do it. If you want to go yell at your parents, go for it.

    But it's not a commandment and no one will be rejected from the Celestial Kingdom because they have their son circumcised. Maybe you'll get everything back in the resurrection! :)

    The LDS church is true regardless of your wishing that the General Authorities would come out is support of your position. Revelation comes from the top, not bottom up. Sure wish more members would understand that doctrinal point.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 5:49 p.m.

    @Bill in Nebraska said,As Joseph Smith said, "I told the brethern that the Book of Mormon was the most correct book of any book on earth, and the keystone to our religion?
    . A great portion of 3 Nephi seems to be "borrowed and lifted" from the KJV Bible. Larson also found that 3 Nephi holds exactly the same sort of errors that are unique to the 1769 version of the KJV Bible Joseph Smith owned. Stan Larson a Ph.D in New Testament Studies a former LDS Church translator.

    Mt 6:13 KJV and 3Nephi 13:13 Both have the doxology, For thine is he Kingdom and power and the glory forever amen. The KJV is based on 9th to 12th century texts. Earlier and better manuscripts do not contain the doxology. Only One example.

  • mare54 KIHEI, HI
    Oct. 27, 2011 5:37 p.m.

    I understand that members of the LDS church say they totally believe in the Book Of Mormon.....but it always confuses me that yet many say they believe, but then don't follow the teachings. For example: In Moroni 8:8, the passage is very clear that "circumcision is done way in me".... yet parents in the LDS church still circumcise (cut the genitals) of their baby boys! And the leaders of the church will not take an open stand on this due to the popularity of it's cultural practice.... this seems very odd to me to have members saying they totally believe in this book, yet choose not to follow a very basic teaching. The genital cutting of girls is illegal in the U.S., but boys go unprotected from this. You would think a church would not back out of it's teachings, if it is true.

  • @Charles the greater outdoors, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 5:30 p.m.

    "We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith WILL gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost.

    Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit WILL also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lords kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah."

    imho, this pretty much sums it up.

    Also, I'm reminded of this section of the Bible in 2 Timothy 3: 1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

    2 For men shall be...7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    I submit there are many here who are examples of that last scripture.

  • full disclosure Providence, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 5:29 p.m.

    @Bill in Nebraska- Gordon B. Hinkley the great marketer that he was, as others have said that's it's either true or a great hoax. Mr. Petersen provides an "illusion" by setting up the facts, not as they really are. Like a magician, he doesn't want people to see what's really going on. As with his entire article, his premise is not accurate, nor is his reasoning.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Oct. 27, 2011 4:59 p.m.


    Your observations and somewhat common attempts at trying to reduce the "critics" efforts into a simple patterns, are always lacking. You generally fail to follow the logic to your own practice. For example, Church defenders always do one of three things:

    1) Choose one element of the book that they think represents a hebrew parallel, and then insist that it demonstrates complexity.

    2) Fail to regard all the subjects, and instead pound the one point they think they have. This is why we constantly hear so much about Nahom and Chiasmus.

    3) Argue that because you believe it, it must be true. Or as you more regularly say, because you claim to have had a "witness", and independent an unverifiable experience, it must be true. (The corallary being that the Book of Mormon is more consistent with the Bible than the reformers are willing to admit. Because of corrupt and designing Priests, many of the plain and precious parts were removed).

    In short there is nothing about your argument that instructs us on the fallacy of the critics arguments. So please, you or Peterson are now invited to demonstrate this remarkable complexity to us. The floor is now yours.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 4:58 p.m.

    The Book of Mormon is a book that does teach about Jesus Christ. It is just that it is clearly a book that also reads much like the Bible and one has to wonder if it wasn't "inspired" by the Bible and other texts such as View of the Hebrews and other similar books about the American Indians that came out prior to Joseph Smith printing the Book of Mormon.

    I've read it cover to cover 15 times or so, taught from it to my kids, taught Gospel Doctrine classes on it 2 times and I finally came to the conclusion that it is a work of men (and possibly women) that is inspirational but not inspired.

    I wish it was what it claimed to be.

  • rpjense West Jordan, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 4:58 p.m.

    Prior to reading the Book of Mormon, I read many books from many religions. They were good reading and I was very interested. However, when I read the Book of Mormon, everything changed. I just KNEW it was true. You can spend your entire life using intellectual discussions and arguments, but nothing anyone can say can alter the reality of what happened to me. An interesting side note ... once I found the Book of Mormon, then the Bible began to make sense to me. God lives, He loves us, and he wanted us to have something tangible in our hands so we could test if for ourselves. I tested it and found out for myself. Again, there is NOTHING you can say that can refute what actually happened to me personally when I read it and prayed about it.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Oct. 27, 2011 4:46 p.m.

    Dan Peterson is not trying to convince anyone of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon testifies of itself as President Hinkley has stated and other prophets through time. As Joseph Smith said, "I told the brethern that the Book of Mormon was the most correct book of any book on earth, and the keystone to our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than any other book." "And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?" Failure to obtain a testimony of the Book of Mormon is the fault of the individual not the Lord's. He has provided the way to know and has given all the measure of its truth. The choice is yours to make.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 4:41 p.m.

    Between ignorance and knowledge you have the uncertainties about the world, and the best way to handle uncertainties involves thinking in terms of probabilities. Ask yourself this. How probable is the BoM? Then consider can feel that something seems true, even if false. Your mind can tell you something is true even if it's false. Unless you can get past this logical "truth" than your "testimony" really doesn't testify to truth but rather testifies to what you believe in your mind is the truth even if it's false. People believe what they "want" to believe whether true or false and religion teaches people to simply believe what they're told and to develope cognitive systems for confirming ideas that they MUST hold, even if it conflicts with observable reality or evidence. The result is that reality is distorted to conform to their ideas of "God" and not the other way around. For any religious text to be true it must speak truth to all people without them having to perform mental gymnastics or believing BEFORE reading it. A person should simply be able to read it without believing first and decide the truth based on the contents....or not.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Oct. 27, 2011 4:34 p.m.

    The posts--as they often do when the Book of Mormon is the subject--have drifted off the point.

    Petersen's thesis is that the Book of Mormon is amazing in its complexity. When critics have written, rather than examine the complexity, it seems that they have done one of three things:

    1. Choose one element of the book's complexity (non-biblical chiasmus) and either suggest it doesn't exist, or that it's no big deal (at the same time ignoring other elements, such as complexity of narrative, variation of diction, complexity of character/personality, Hebraisms).

    2. Find another subject completely. ("Just check the internet, and it will tell you everything that's wrong with your thinking.")

    3. Argue that, because they don't believe, it must not be true. (The corrolary is that the Book of Mormon does not coincide with Protestant beliefs in the supremacy of the Bible, therefore it cannot be true.)

    I agree with those who say that nothing really matters except the witness of the Holy Ghost. That is the real reason I believe in the Book of Mormon is because the Holy Ghost has witnessed it to me. But it's worthwhile to examine such things as complexity.

  • AWyatt OREM, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 4:32 p.m.

    redhat said: "Thanx to Allen for his story- outside influence on his conversion/testimony of the BOM is clearly his family-it took one sacrament meeting to convert the whole family. what if allen's dad had said "i cannot believe the BOM'; would allen have joined the chruch by himself-hardly. it took the father/mother to influence the children for mormonism to be "the Way" for their family."

    Clearly? Why not say "the missionaries were outside influence?"

    Respectfully, you were not there. You have no idea of my history, and you make assumptions based on what I've written. I never said that both my mother and father joined. In fact, if you ask my father he will tell you he doesn't believe the Book of Mormon. And yet I still joined.

    Whether I joined alone or with family members, it doesn't change the fact that your assumptions about *why* people join are demonstrably wrong. Whether you choose to accept the demonstration or not is up to you, but not choosing it in the case of my history would be wrong on your part.


  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Oct. 27, 2011 4:23 p.m.

    To Vanka and others who have posted 6+ times...

    I suggest you talk to someone who is fair-minded and who will listen to your concerns in person. This forum is not ideal for these kinds of exchanges and neither side will get much satisfaction with the results.

    For those who do believe in something, I will say merely that I see some of the same concerns in your questions that people held for Christ and Paul in the NT.

  • TrueColors Tempe, AZ
    Oct. 27, 2011 4:11 p.m.

    It's articles like this that convince me that people are STILL trying to convince themselves its not all one giant hoax, and if they keep telling themselves there's no way a semi-literate kid could have written it, then it must be from God. But if you're still trying to convince yourself, doesn't that tell you something?

  • Stradling LOS ALAMOS, NM
    Oct. 27, 2011 3:46 p.m.

    When the Reformers: Martin Luther, Erasmus, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, Thomas Moore, Loyola and others took on the Catholic Church in the early 1500s, they could see things that were obviously wrong with it, in terms of institutional corruption and misapplication of doctrine. They could not agree on the meaning and priority of a wide range of specific teaching.

    Critical questions of contention grew out of the Reformation, where they developed strong differences of religious philosophy and application that continue until today. These include:
    -'Faith and grace' vs. works
    -Individual choice and agency vs. predestination
    -Civil vs. church laws and government
    -Hierarchical authority vs. local
    -Authority of the scriptures and the role of revelation from God to individuals and the Church
    -The sacraments: Transubstantiation, or as a remembrance, or not even necessary.
    -What is the criteria for salvation?
    -Original sin, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden--the role of sex and marriage in God's plan.
    -And many more.

    Joseph Smith did not systematically address the Reformers questions, but in the course of his ministry he thoroughly nailed all of them in a self-consistent way. I think that is remarkable.

  • FDRfan safety dictates, ID
    Oct. 27, 2011 3:41 p.m.

    I'm looking forward to discussions of how its teachings can be transformed into public policy. Those who want to question its validity, especially without reading it, might as well stick to questions about the shape of the earth. I challenge any committee of the top scholars of today to duplicate it as a work of fiction. So lets get on with understanding how it is applies in life. The result may be more Democrats.

  • full disclosure Providence, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 3:35 p.m.

    @Pete in Texas- I'm here to help answer your question- You should read Studies of the Book Of Mormon by Brigham Madsen and Sterling McMurrin. These are part of Church Historian BH Roberts research on the B of M. Very fair book and apologists would say that Brother Roberts was just playing "devils advocate." Another great book is by former Church Education System Instructor Grant Palmer's, "An Insiders View of Mormon Origins." If you don't have time to read, you might checking through wiki. Good luck!

  • Aspiring Theist Sandy, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 3:22 p.m.

    A salesperson almost talked me out of buying a car a while back. Many of his claims were so over-the-top that it almost made me think something was wrong with it. I bought the car, and it is a nice one, but it certainly didnt live up to the claims the salesperson made. But then, I didnt expect it to.

    I have some smart LDS friends who have talked with me openly about their views of the Book of Mormon. I appreciate that they dont make over-the-top claims or paint too perfect of a picture. They believe the book is scripture, but they admit to me that they feel it isnt perfect. Elder Perry said in your last conference, "In speaking about the Church, we do not try to make it sound better than it is."

    For some of us, our friends honest appraisal of their beliefs, warts and all, are more convincing than those who try and paint a perfect picture.

  • full disclosure Providence, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 3:21 p.m.

    Something that is percieved as "good" doesn't neccesarily have to be true. Because the Book of Mormon teaches of Christ, his ressurection, courage, good vs. evil, Infant baptism, faith, etc. All very good things that help us live a standard that both we and the world see as good. But like Tolkiens brilliant "Lord of The Rings", it may make you feel good, have a great message, but that does not mean that the Book of Mormon is anymore true than Tolkiens.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Oct. 27, 2011 2:59 p.m.

    >>There is the mention of "crucifixion" in 2 Nephi 10:3. There was no such term at that time; if the prophecy was true it would have described someone hanging on a tree with nails or something of the sort, but would not have used the word.

    As bi-lingual speakers know, when a translator encounters a word in one language that doesn't directly translate to any word in the other, he/she must use whatever word in the second language most closely captures the idea expressed in the first. If the BoM is true, Nephi certainly wouldn't have used the word "crucifixion" as you note; he would've used some ancient Hebrew word or phrase to describe the concept. Smith, when translating, would've come across that word or phrase, for which the closest English word Smith knew that expressed the idea would have been "crucifixion" so that's what he wrote down.

    So what we read in the BoM isn't always a literal word-for-word translation of an ancient language. Often, it is a translation in which English words inexactly convey ideas originally written in another language. This is common when translating between any two languages.

  • BalancedFulfilledLife MISSOURI CITY, TX
    Oct. 27, 2011 2:45 p.m.

    While I don't need the scientific proof to know the Book of Mormon is the word of God, many people will entertain the thought that it could be true if they have something to refute all the naysayers. I shared a video called Journey of Faith with a friend. It didn't give her a testimony of the truth of the book, but it gave her enough reason to consider the possibility that it might be true. Then, she studied the Book of Mormon, pondered its message and prayed to know if it was true, and she gained a spiritual, irrefutable and undeniable witness that it is true.

  • mightymite DRAPER, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 2:43 p.m.

    Amazes who? That is a pretty broad statement for a very, very, very small percentage of religious or scholars. Perhaps who are preaching to the chior but this article and it's assumptions are very wrong. Don't try to bring that junk up in our house!

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    Oct. 27, 2011 2:36 p.m.

    As I said I went word for word. Now such things as chapter headings or the introduction do not count as they are not actual text changes but guides to give ideas of what is to happen. The change of white to pure actually was a change made by Joseph in 1843-1844 but after his death many of his records were boxed up and moved to SLC were many were only many years later discovered. The change was because people misunderstood the meaning of the text from white as a symbolism for PURE to actually using the word pure to get rid of the confusion. Same with the few times Son of was placed before God to correct confusion. Interesting to note that not all cases of God or Father were changed to Son. One such case is the title page were it still says "the ETERNAL GOD". As for Jacob 2 you seem to skip over verse 30 that says "For if I will.saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things."
    Notice the OTHERWISE?

  • reasoner KINGSLAND, GA
    Oct. 27, 2011 2:33 p.m.

    A good idea is to use the internet as the reseacrh tool it was designed to be. Research inconsistencies in the Book of Mormon and the propaganda of this article will be quickly offset. Or don't and remain propagandized.

    As for factual errors, there are a number in the Book of Mormon. I'll not do your research for you except to mention the following:

    There is the mention of "crucifixion" in 2 Nephi 10:3. There was no such term at that time; if the prophecy was true it would have described someone hanging on a tree with nails or something of the sort, but would not have used the word.

    In Alma 46:15, believers are called "Christians" in about 73 BC, which contradicts both common sense and Acts 11:26. Christians could not have existed or been called Christians before Christ was born.

    And 1 Nephi 22:15 quotes from Malachi 4:1 even though Malachi wasn't written until about 160 years after the events of that chapter.

  • Al Thepal Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 2:20 p.m.


    Your point is well taken and one to consider. However, for most such as myself who believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, it does work both ways. I think it is cool that there is evidence of the Book of Mormon that people have found, however that is not the basis for my testimony, nor does it necessarily even add to it. The reason I believe the Book of Mormon is the word of God strictly from a spiritual testimony, regardless of evidence for it or so called "evidence" against it.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 2:12 p.m.

    @Pete in Texas
    "And if you decide it's not genuine, you're stuck with the unpleasant job of legitimately explaining how it came to be."

    Disproving something with 100% certainty is very difficult. In statistics, a null hypothesis either verifies something or claims insufficient evidence for something. So it's up to those who believe the BoM to present sufficient evidence that it is what it is claimed to be. Otherwise we'd all have to come up with ways to prove that every single other religion/denomination is wrong. So the onus is on the denomination/religion to prove itself rather than "here's something, disprove it". Personally I believe God would rather I be honest with myself, leave the church due to my lack of belief in it, and be wrong, than to lie to myself and falsely claim a covenant.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Oct. 27, 2011 2:02 p.m.

    I am a fervent believer in the Book, but these arguments simply don't impress. History is full of savants and geniuses who produce highly complex works of art or literature without special training--Cervantes, for example. Harold Bloom eagerly labels Joseph Smith such a religious genius. I differ, but not because the Book is complex and consistent-- my testimony of the Book comes from testing Moroni's promise.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 1:52 p.m.

    "As for those who read study and ponder the Book of Mormon and yet do not accept it, I personally doubt their sincerity."

    You're right, I was biased when reading the Book of Mormon... in the sense that I wanted it to be true since I had a crush on an LDS girl who had told me she'd only marry in the temple. Amusingly enough we didn't end up together, and she married outside the faith; he'd read the Book of Mormon and like me also got nothing out of it.

    Of course while you doubt the sincerity of other people, there's always another option... Moroni's promise might itself be fictional.

    @Sneaky Jimmy
    "can't hide from the fact that the book exists."

    Well... a purported translation of the book exists. The book itself (i.e. the plates) don't exist (I want to be neutral in this statement so interpret don't exist as "don't exist on earth, at least not at this time").

    @Pete in Texas
    "I would ask, "What is the central theme it espouses?" That Jesus is the Christ."

    I'll agree with that, though that of course doesn't prove that the book isn't fiction.

  • formetoknow PAYSON, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 1:21 p.m.

    When did JS start writing the BOM and when did he end?

  • Happy77 Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 1:18 p.m.

    The greatest thing about the book is it gives hope and teaches us that we are not alone in the universe. God loves his children!

  • MollyinGA Atlanta, GA
    Oct. 27, 2011 1:01 p.m.

    Archaeological evidence? Not according to the Smithsonian!

  • Pete1215 Lafayette, IN
    Oct. 27, 2011 12:55 p.m.

    That the current Book of Mormon has been edited makes this article somewhat questionable.

  • SammyB Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 12:42 p.m.

    I wonder why people just talk about chiasmus and not the other things I mentioned. If I wanted to take the time, I could go back in my notes and show more Hebraisms than I have but it wouldn't do any good. Faith is faith aside from all the overwhelming archaeological evidences we have of The Book of Mormon and in addition to the literary evidences.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Oct. 27, 2011 12:23 p.m.

    Fair enough Pete in Texas:

    If by your own admission you are not able to weigh the evidence, then truly it is an act of faith. I make it a habit not to try and comment on the personal religious experiences of others, not because I accept them, but because it is a existential trap and place of retreat. It is a sort of invitation where I am expected to try and rationalize the experiences of another, so that they can accuse me of overstepping my bounds. If I don't accept the challenge, then I am in some way conceding the possibility that a ghost caused you a feeling that confirms your belief system in an otherwise indefensible book of alleged history. Admittedly, I am confined epistemologically to experience of my own senses, just as every other person. Even so, I can still excercise practical induction and deduction, that gives me the probabilistic assurance that the inconsistencies I observe in self-reported religious phenomenom, are in fact representative of the dellusion of said experiences. Whether they are sincerely believed or contrived.

  • The Vanka Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 12:19 p.m.

    You all see Windsor's comment? Is that "Christian"?

    You see what I am up against? Any person who honestly reports their dis-confirming experiences is treated like that.

    Do you have any idea how much that hurts?

    Is it any wonder the threat of such treatment will motivate people (especially youth) to pretend to spiritual gifts (testimony, revelation) in order to avoid such criticism, judgment, and condemnation?

    And that is why I comment on DN articles. If I have a "calling" in life, it is to stand up against such irrational prejudice as that. To stand up and defend those innocent, honest, good people who sincerely and in good faith experimented on the promises of the LDS Church but honestly got nothing!

    We are tired of being attacked and condemned. We are tired of having to hide our true beliefs (or lack thereof). We are tired of being excluded. We are tired of being treated as suspect. We are tired of being accused of being selfish, or stupid, or insincere, or hiding sins, or over-intellectualizing, or not intellectualizing enough by failing to read EVERYTHING the Maxwell Institute publishes.

    We just want to be good people, not outcasts.

  • redhat Fairfax Station, VA
    Oct. 27, 2011 12:15 p.m.

    Thanx to Allen for his story- outside influence on his conversion/testimony of the BOM is clearly his family-it took one sacrament meeting to convert the whole family. what if allen's dad had said "i cannot believe the BOM'; would allen have joined the chruch by himself-hardly. it took the father/mother to influence the children for mormonism to be "the Way" for their family.
    as an aside in my wife's ward there has NOT been a family(father,mother, sister , brother) converted in over 30 years. i believe that is the norm in the usa. the lonely, disenfranchised, emotionally in turmoil, hopeless, needy, whom the missionaries tract and show how loving a community the mormons are is shows a testimony of the BOM is not needed-conversion is simply an agreement that JS is a prophet by the stories/facts/ evidences and individual testimonies the missionaries present. many utah men and women who enter the MTC do not have a testimony of the BOM and are told to get one or leave. the consequences of leaving the mtc in shame and facing family has resulted in many testimonies of the BOM.

  • The Vanka Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 12:08 p.m.

    I mean nobody any harm.

    But I have sincerely and in good faith followed the counsel, processes, promises, etc. of the BOM (Moroni) as well as numerous LDS church leaders, some of them in the highest quorums of the Church. No witness has come. No testimony has been revealed. No Spirit has whispered, spoken, manifest itself, etc. No burning of the bosom. No opening of the eyes of my understanding (except the enlightenment that it is NOT true). Nothing. Nada. Zip. Nill.

    And I have seen myself as well as countless youth (and adults) shamelessly, subtly, and even openly ridiculed, derided, vilified, demonized, attacked, judged, condemned, ostracized, and denied baptism-for-the-dead recommends, and more, all because we honestly reported our dis-confirming experiences! We got nothing! That does not make us bad people!

    That condemnation is inherent in Moroni's Promise, as well as the attitude members of the Church have about testimonies. It is the identical "ad hominem" logic built into the Tailor's fraud in the Emperor's New Clothes: those who cannot "see" are unworthy!

    This is a fundamentally unethical and unChristian notion, and it suggests that many in the Church go along to avoid that condemnation.

  • Maryquilter Farmington, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 12:05 p.m.

    I agree with "Alaskan"; the BOM was introduced to me by some missionaries and after reading parts of it and praying, I received a testimony of its truthfulness. I joined the LDS church in 1975. I have always had faith in God and Jesus Christ, ever since I was a little girls, even though my family never attended church. I went to many churches through the years, but felt the Spirit whisper to me that this was the most correct church upon the earth today.

    Don't get me wrong, I have had conflicts over the years with some practices within the church community and some political stands the church leaders have taken, BUT in the end it always comes back to the fact that I believe the BOM is true, I am inspired by it and feel closer to God reading it, and if it is true then I just have to pray about the other stuff until I receive inspiration and revelation to guide me through the rough spots. Thanks for the article.

  • IndependentLiberal Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 12:04 p.m.

    A few simple observations. If chiasmus is evidence that the BoM has a Hebrew influence, it was transmitted through the totally different and lost language of Reformed Egyptian. One of the best examples of chiasmus today is expressed in Dr. Seusss writings. Is this evidence of Hebrew influence suggesting they might be scriptural?

  • windsor City, Ut
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:51 a.m.

    My heart goes out to your wife and other women who have a husband too self centered and selfish to make the sacrifices necessary to at least become a quiet non-believer----instead of someone who causes her pain for lashing out constantly about things you know nothing about.

  • Pete in Texas Copperas Cove, TX
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:45 a.m.


    I'm sorry. I'm not the most intelligent Mormon you'll ever meet. I can't email you, or send you any physical evidence of the origins of the Book of Mormon. I work in construction and deal with engineers day in and day out. I've seen one engineer "prove" how a staple can't be as structurally sound as a nail and then seen another engineer prove that staples are. "Numbers" and physical "proofs" don't do as much for me as using both nails and staples and comparing them against each other. Same goes for religious matters. I've had anti-Mormon folks show me "proofs" that the Book of Mormon is false. Then I have other individuals offer "proofs" that would show it to be true. The interesting point to make here is that the one, unforgiveable sin isn't denying Christ himself, it's denying the Holy Ghost. That, to me, speaks volume's about where physical proofs lie in comparison to what God has spoken to our hearts and souls through the Spirit. If you don't believe the book, that's your right. I can't convince you otherwise just like any "proofs" you could show me wouldn't affect me. God offers proof enough.

  • The Vanka Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:45 a.m.


    Do I mind sharing my thoughts on how the Book of Mormon came to be?

    I wouldn't mind at all, IF DN Editorial Staff will allow it. I would frankly and honestly publish 20+ years of my journals documenting my experience with investigating Mormonism, but believers and the Church would probably not support that.

    I do not know how the BOM was created. I also do not know how the Qu'ran was created (some say it was written by Orthodox Christian priests held hostage by Muhammed, who later killed them by tossing them down the well at Mecca). I also do not know how Hubbard wrote all that he wrote, nor how John Ballou Newbrough wrote "Oahspe: A New Bible" ("new the name of Jehovih"), nor how Christopher Nemelka has published the sealed portion of the Book or Mormon and has also translated the 116 lost pages; nor do I know how Houdini escaped from (all but one) contraption, or how Copperfield, Blaine, or Angel performed their amazing tricks.

    But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my NOT knowing these things is NOT evidence, much less proof, of their "truth".

  • MollyinGA Atlanta, GA
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:41 a.m.

    I don't agree with one of the words used in the heading of this article -"consistency". Now with just a click we can find info which has been hidden by the church for years, for instance, the BOM and it's numerous revisions, which means the BOM is hardly consistent. Compare that to the bible, see Matt: 24:35.

  • Zoniezoobie Mesa, AZ
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:38 a.m.

    Reid Bankhead taught that a more correct name for the Book of Mormon is "Words of Christ", a phrase that is found so repeatedly in the Book.

    Many have sought to discredit the Book from the beginning, with the Spalding-Rigdon theory of multi-person authorship, the claim that Sidney Rigdon plagiarized Solomon Spaulding's unpublished 'Manuscript Found' and embellished it with help from Oliver Cowdery. This theory has been both supported and refuted by recent studies in the publication Literary and Linguistic Computing.

    Geographic evidence or not, plagiarism or not, it all comes down to faith.

    Faith in an eternal and loving plan and reason for our existence. Keeping an eternal perspective on our brief mortal sojourn should bring out the best attributes each of us possesses, especially a Christ-like tolerance of others and their beliefs.

    In the end, it is up to each individual who becomes aware of the "Words of Christ" to decide for themselves if the Book is of divinely-directed origin or not.

  • Alaskan Orem, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:30 a.m.

    @Vanka (10:48 am)

    The great philosopher, Vanka, once wrote (at 8:12 am today)

    "...You find only what you are seeking (that is virtually a doctrinal axiom) and seek only what confirms belief."


    And that axiom goes both ways.

    Decide it's true and you "find" evidence to support it; decide it is NOT true, and you likewise "find" evidence to support that too.

    Faith is a CHOICE.

    It's amazing how few people really get that, and that it's set up that way on purpose.

    My love for my wife? A choice too. She can be unlovable at times (as can I), but it's my commitment to my CHOICE to love her that ends up making our love "TRUE."

    The same holds true for my faith.

    And the longer and stronger I hold to my choices, the more they prove themselves to be right. The more I know they are.

    If everyone could be honest, BOTH sides have their "Dumbo's feathers," but the reason ANY of us fly is our commitment to our choices:

    We take the leap, THEN we fly.

    p.s. Sorry for the earlier (rough) draft of this post; inadvertent mouse click. :-)

  • Pete in Texas Copperas Cove, TX
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:29 a.m.


    Judging by your last post, it's pretty obvious to me you're upset at members who question your answer. You and I both need to rise above that. (I get those on a pretty regular basis out here in Texas as you can imagine.) You and I both know that one day, we'll face be face to face with God and He will ask us what we did with the answer He gave us. You and I don't have to answer to any other living being when they question the validity of the answer to our prayers. Just as none of the anti-Mormons who bash me out here can show me any "proofs" that would make me question my answer I received myself, the same goes for you.

    I had a missionary companion who would get pretty irate because I enjoyed hanging out with a young anti-Mormon seminary student. He'd ask me, "How can you do that when all he wants to do is try to convince you we're wrong?" I smiled and replied, "Because he can't." That's the beauty of testimony. No one can dissuade us to believe something we know.

    Stay strong, brother.

  • BYUSoCal Fountain Valley, CA
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:24 a.m.

    Very Nice article,
    Plus: Unlike well versed Modern day writers this work & writings of ancient prophets, recovered and translated by Joseph have since been "backed up", and in some instances "confirmed" by archeological findings of cities and artifacts like the Tree of Life carving recorded in the B Of M... Very cool.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:22 a.m.

    Pete in Texas:

    The Book of Mormon's author/translator argued it to be a literal history or a people who really lived. It's pages claim/used to claim that it is a record of the ancient inhabitants of the America's, and records the "source from whence they sprang".

    You argue, as the coverpage now says, that it is "Another Testament of Jesus Christ". Of course, Testament is a word denoting "covenant". Just as the Old Testament is a record of God's alleged covenant with the house of Israel, the New Testament is the covenant Christ establishes with the Church, the Book of Mormon is alleged to be God's covenant with the Nephite civilization. In other words, these people really are supposed to have lived and inhabited this content. That is what the Book of Mormon claims. Yet outside the rhetoric of Mormon propoganda there is nothing external to the Book of Mormon which substantiates this claim. Which is why Peterson is so amused with the Books alleged consistency.

    One commenter noted that while there is no external evidence to support the BoM, we have to contend with it's plain existence. I suggest he think on that.

  • Grace Bakersfield, CA
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:22 a.m.

    Yes, KC, I did compare the tedious changes and there is much more than grammar at stake. Current editions are thoroughly revised compared to the 1830. How thorough was your research into the comparisons? What do you make of the 1981 edition that inexplicably changes the Lamanites' skin color change from "white and delightsome" to "pure and delightsome", after they accept the gospel of Jesus Christ"? (Nephi 30:6). Growing up in the church ('50's to '70's), we always waited for the Lamanites' skin to turn white, after their conversions.

    Interestingly, it also claims that their fathers, the Jews "had the knowledge of Jesus Christ" among their fathers.

    There were many changes from the father to the son of God also. Your comment gives the impression that there were only minor grammatical changes. Unless I musinderstood your implication, I found many unexplained changes. I never could get answers as to why and I wrote everyone. Still waiting for answers as to why Jacob 2 and 3 deny plural wives or concubines?

  • Basketballogy Orem, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:21 a.m.

    @Vanka (10:48 am)

    The great philosopher, Vanka, once wrote (at 8:12 am today)

    "...You find only what you are seeking (that is virtually a doctrinal axiom) and seek only what confirms belief."


    And that axiom goes both ways.

    Decide it's true and you "find" evidence to support it; decide it is NOT true, and you likewise "find" evidence to support that too.

    Faith is a CHOICE.

    It's amazing how few people really get that, and that it's set up that way on purpose.

    My love for my wife? A choice too. She can be unlovable at times (as can I), but my commitment to my choice to love her is EXACTLY what keeps the love strong.

    The same holds true for my faith.

    And the longer and stronger I hold to my choices, the more I feel vindicated for choosing as I have.

    The decisions prove themselves right.

    If everyone could be honest, BOTH sides have their "Dumbo's feathers," but the reason ANY of us fly is our commitment to our choices:

    We take the leap, THEN we fly.

    p.s. Don't take being judged too personally, we do it to ourselves as well.

  • The Vanka Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:20 a.m.

    SammyB wrote:

    "I am writing my comment for those who already believe to help any who are shaky with their testimony keep things in perspective. I learned years ago that no amount of reasoning and logic will touch someone determined not to believe. I have even run across many who pretended to be sincere, but eventually showed their real intent to tear down the LDS Church."

    You judge without knowledge. That is unrighteous judgment.

    I have been married to an active LDS woman for over 20 years. I have lived like a Mormon that entire time. I pay tithes and fast offerings, I attend meetings every week, my diet conforms to the Word of Wisdom, etc. - in every way I am as "worthy" as any LDS member.

    I have testified that I have prayed, studied, fasted, experimented on the word, hoped, etc. but NONE of the promises have been fulfilled.

    My wife wants dearly to be sealed in the Temple.

    I love my wife dearly.

    Why would I PRETEND to be sincere? Why would I seek to tear down my wife's Church?

    I repeat: John 8:46 (ISV) "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?"

  • Anon123 LAS VEGAS, NV
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:17 a.m.

    The LDS Church and the BOM are difficult issues in my life. I joined the Church, and I want to believe the same way that my wife and kids do, but I just can't. I have issues with some of the anachronisms and issues such as polygamy/role of blacks etc. Much of the text does make me feel the spirit, especially portions of King Benjamin's speech. Other portions related to massive warfare and cutting off heads/arms...not as much.

    But I have prayed repeatedly to know the truth, and I can't say that it has been confirmed to me that it is. I want a stronger testimony, and I read and pray, but I am not really getting it. I appreciate the article, but sometimes I wish the Church were more open with some of the issues that it has. When we study Brigham Young, for example, can we at least acknowledge his numerous wives.

    I wish that dialogue related to the BOM, mormonism and religions in general did not have to be quite so vitriolic.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:16 a.m.

    It is amusing how Mormons portray Joseph Smith as a genious and at the same time frame him as a poor ignorant uneducated isolated country boy. The time in whick Joseph Smith grew up was a time of enlightment in written history, science and communications. Harvard had already graduated the first Native American from their college. But the major problem with the Book of Mormon is that it is not history. It is like many other good works of fiction that tell stories of fantasy, they may have value, but they are not history.

  • Pete in Texas Copperas Cove, TX
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:14 a.m.


    It sounds like you've put the Book of Mormon to the test and received an answer of "No". I can't question your answer any more than someone can question me my answer of "Yes". To those who do, and I know you've met your share, it's pretty shallow that they can claim any more validity to their answer than we do to ours. Fair enough. God will judge us for our answers not for what everyone around us believes we should say and do.

    One question I'd love to ask you then, since you seem an educated individual, is what you've finally "settled on" for an answer of how the Book of Mormon came to be. The reason that interests me is because living in the "bible belt" I get a lot of folks wanting to bash me for my beliefs, but I'm never able to get a solid answer from them as to where they believe it came from. I've heard a lot of theories trying to explain it's origins, but as I've researched those theories, I've found them equally as shallow as they claim my reasons for believing it's divinity is. Do you mind sharing?


  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:10 a.m.

    Everybody is familiar with reports in the media of people who sincerely believe a miracle has occurred when they find the image of Jesus in a potato chip.

    Can you see the image? Can you see the miracle?

    psychological and cognitive science has shown that human beings can convince themselves of many strange things.

    You can convince yourself that YOU are a potato chip - IF you have eyes to see, ears to hear, a broken heart and a contrite spirit, ask with faith (nothing wavering), believing that it is true with all your heart, ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ that he will manifest the truth of it unto you, and IF you remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the Children of men since Adam, and you have pondered it in your heart...

    So many caveats, conditions, and clauses!

    But they all boil down to one thing: You, too, can "know" the BOM and LDS Church are "true" IF and ONLY IF you are willing to "humble yourself" to the most gullible state of mind possible, and you already believe!

    If you can't achieve that gullible attitude, you are unworthy!

  • AWyatt OREM, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:03 a.m.

    I was raised in the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) sect, which later merged with Methodism. The missionaries knocked on our Ohio door shortly after we moved to the town. It took them 6 months of missed meetings and call-backs to teach our family. I had read the Bible from cover to cover well before we moved to the town. I prayed to God daily before even meeting the missionaries. I knew He was real and that He was aware of me.

    I recognized the truth of what the missionaries taught when I read the Book of Mormon and before attending any Church meetings. We were baptized in early 1968 after attending only a single sacrament meeting.

    No family members were already Mormon. (In fact, my grandmother, to her dying day, felt we had been "brainwashed" into joining.) No employment concerns. No school concerns. No "true love" who was Mormon. No "hole in my life" being filled. Just a straight-forward conversion.

    I have studied the Book of Mormon ever since. I have dealt with its supposed "difficulties" and anachronisms from the beginning. I have found none of these to be deal-breakers for me.


  • SammyB Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 11:02 a.m.

    Speaking of inconsistencies, the Bible is loaded with them. Anti-Christians have a field day with them, but I have read the Bible since I was a small child and I know it is true. Because of errors in translation, transcription, or a prophet putting something in a confusing, some may toss out the truths of the Bible. If Mosiah, or some other prophet of the Book of Mormon worded something strangely, he was a man and his wording does not destroy the truths found in the book.

    Joseph Smith was frustrated with all the printing errors, and doubtless made many grammatical errors himself. If that is how people choose to judge the book, they are missing the boat.

    Actually, I am writing my comment for those who already believe to help any who are shaky with their testimony keep things in perspective. I learned years ago that no amount of reasoning and logic will touch someone determined not to believe. I have even run across many who pretended to be sincere, but eventually showed their real intent to tear down the LDS Church.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:56 a.m.


    My LDS wife would love it if your argument could persuade me.

    But it doesn't, and here is why.

    Apply your same arguments to the texts of Scientology (aka Christian Science - have you read them?):

    "To all the nay-sayers anxious to tear the [works of Hubbard] down and say that it's a fraud, I would ask what the [works of Hubbard] claims to be? Simply put, it is another testament of Jesus Christ. ...Just take the book[s] at face value. Read [them] asking yourself, 'Is this another testament of Christ'?"

    "Once you pray and receive your answer, you can move on from there. It's not all that difficult. If an individual loves God and Jesus Christ, our Savior, why would they feel threatened at all by [Hubbard's books]? And if you decide it's not genuine, you're stuck with the unpleasant job of legitimately explaining how it came to be. Noone's been able to do that yet."

    So I ask you, Pete, have you or any LDS scholar given a legitimate explanation as to how Hubbard's works came to be? He was more prolific than Joseph Smith in shorter amounts of time by orders of magnitude!

  • Yorkshire City, Ut
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:53 a.m.

    The "consistency" of those who continue to vilify the Book of Mormon is sadly no longer "amazing".
    Only amazing that they speak so vehemently about something they could instead so easily ignore.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:53 a.m.

    said "I haven't run across any lessening of the "abomination of all other religions" theory"
    Would you accept Joseph Smiths own words? When writing W.W. Phelps on the three degrees of Glory he put it best when speaking of those in the Celestial Kingdom
    These are they that came out of Apollo's and Paul;
    For Cephas and Jesus, in all kinds of hope;
    For Enoch and Moses, and Peter, and John;
    For Luther and Calvin, and even the Pope.

    Does this mean that they are the TRUE Church no but then every church believes they are the true church and all others are wrong because every church differs on some point of doctrine. The difference is notice who Joseph puts in the same class as Jesus.

  • SammyB Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:50 a.m.

    Wow, Grace, to assume I was talking about the portions of the Book of Mormon that came from Isaiah or the New Testament is a big leap. None of the wonderful supportive evidence Dr. Ricks has shared comes from those. We don't discuss these things to prove the Book is true. We are studying Hebrew and it is fascinating and instructive, for example, to learn that some of the Book of Mormon names that are supposedly unique actually are Hebrew names. It is fun to learn that Joseph Smith translated the phrases in the same manner that ancient Hebrew flowed. Expanding the mind is always beneficial.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:48 a.m.

    When Dumbo the big-eared elephant lacked confidence, he was given a "magic feather". With his new-found belief that this feather was magic, he was able to fly. It changed his life! But eventually he had to learn that the feather was not the source of the magic; his belief itself was the source of the magic. There is no magic feather.

    When I testify that i have spent over 20 years sincerely studying, praying about, fasting, and living Mormonism but do not believe it is true, what do Mormons do? They attack my character. They judge me unrighteously. They have told me this to my face countless times, and commenters on these articles continue to do it, despite the fact that such unrighteous judgment is directly contrary to the teachings of Jesus whom they claim to worship and obey.

    John 8:48
    "Which of you convicts me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe me?"

  • redhat Fairfax Station, VA
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:45 a.m.


    Please share your story-asserting that you came to know the BOM story to be true w/o any "outside' influence. It is certainly worth considering. I would add others to my assumptions- that men and women who are not LDS but fall in love with a mormon have an almost miraculous conversion so that marriage and life in the church can be carried out together-and that's ok by me.
    another would be that becoming a member of the church is an essential stepping stone to employment and a better economic life-particularly true of conversions outside the usa. and finally BOM conversions in 99% of cases in Utah mormon families occur because of family pressure to continue the legacy.
    however we see now that many of those conversions do not 'stick'- even returned missionaries are losing their testimony of the BOM not because of sin or lifestyle but simply because the internet has given them a place to go to ponder and study and pray about BOM "difficulties" those Dr Petersen did not want to bring up.

    not a sermon, just another thought!

  • Pete in Texas Copperas Cove, TX
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:41 a.m.

    To all the nay-sayers anxious to tear the Book of Mormon down and say that it's a fraud, I would ask what the Book of Mormon claims to be? Simply put, it is another testament of Jesus Christ. I hear them talking about inconsistencies in it. I would ask, "What is the central theme it espouses?" That Jesus is the Christ. That only through him will man be able to be redeemed at the last day. I'm not concerned about you being baptized or even wanting to find out more about the church. Just take the book at face value. Read it asking yourself, "Is this another testament of Christ? Did Christ, Himself, really visit the people in this book? Did this happen?" That is the greatest moment it mentions. Once you pray and receive your answer, you can move on from there. It's not all that difficult. If an individual loves God and Jesus Christ, our Savior, why would they feel threatened at all by a book like this? And if you decide it's not genuine, you're stuck with the unpleasant job of legitimately explaining how it came to be. Noone's been able to do that yet.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:31 a.m.


    I am also inspired by passages of the Qu'ran, Talmud and many other texts, especially the Bible. To find evidence of God speaking to others outside my faith only serves to strengthen what I believe. I strive to be a student of history and have lived/travelled in many countries. I am struck by the sacrifices so many made in the past to bring the Bible to life and how they sought the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and longed to hear true Apostles on the earth again as in Christ's day.

    There were many in Jesus' time who claimed only to believe the words of the dead prophets, rather than accept the living word of Christ. It took courage to believe in a living Christ then as it does today.

    As for your claims of Chiasmus being only in Bible-lifted verses - research it anew (eg. works by Welch or Parry) and you will find most are exclusively non-biblical in origin eg. in Alma, Mosiah, etc.

  • Sneaky Jimmy Bay Area, CA
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:28 a.m.

    I hear about all the "problems" with the BofM: DNA, Horses, Cureloms, King James version quotes, etc. but you can't hide from the fact that the book exists.

  • Scott1 Quiet Neighborhood, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:27 a.m.

    I believe the Book of Mormon to be true. But to play devil's advocate, it seems like a record like this would be easily proved to anyone, even if they did not want to follow its teachings. Why cannot its geography be easily demonstrated today or remnants of its cities found? The "narrow neck of land" is not Panama and the Mayan Cities we see today have nothing to do with the Book of Mormon, I believe. Polite comments appreciated.

  • twinb Willoughby, OH
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:21 a.m.

    To 'redhat' in Virginia... your assumption is flawed. The fact that millions of copies have been given no way implies they have been read and/or prayed about it. My husband was going to be a catholic priest and was (and still is) a student of the bible. He can run circles around most with his knowledge of the bible. He was converted to the Book of Mormon in a catholic monastery and that after only 8 chapters! There are plenty others I've met who have truly received a manifestation of the truthfulness of the book who know the bible and it's teachings and were not raised LDS. Obviously there are those who do not receive that answer and I can't speak for them, though I have my own thoughts on it, but it's not my place to comment on them. It's certainly not fair to give such a blanket statement... and what is meant by 'special need for it to be true'. As far as I'm concerned, truth is truth no matter the need.

  • Kouger Lehi, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:19 a.m.

    @ redhat: You raised some blatant assumptions and ambiguities. There are millions of converts (not brought up in the Mormon culture), like me, who have embraced the Book of Mormon. Having read and studied the Bible in my previous church, I have found the Book of Mormon to be a great source of understanding the Bible better. The two compliment -not contradict - each other.

    As for those who read study and ponder the Book of Mormon and yet do not accept it, I personally doubt their sincerity. Unfortunately, there are other motives for some people for reading the Book of Mormon.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:19 a.m.

    If believe that the Book of Mormon is a literal translation of a literal history, then why would you derive any compliment from comparisons to Tolkien's work?? Secondly, if one believes that Joseph Smith, or some other contemporary person, actually authored the Book of Mormon, then it is reasonable to expect that they don't buy into your timeframes either. In other words, the famous Hugh Nibley challenge reiterated by Peterson, is DOA for anybody but those who already believe. It is proof of nothinng. Lastly, any good book - Lord of the Rings notwithstanding - is going to strive for a consistent narrative. Duh.

    Also - what about the inconsistencies?

    Mosiah 16:6 (about 148 BC, as per
    6 And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption.

    Why not speak of the atonement in the past tense, before it has happened? There are of course others, but then Peterson will argue that they are not inconsistencies. In other words, The Book of Mormon is remarkably long as you are willing to see it that way.

  • scojos Draper, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:13 a.m.

    Several thoughts:
    1) A fellow commenter said "its' ability to change lives" made the BOM true. Has he ever read "Mein Kamp"? That changed lives, about 70,000,000, for the worse, like DEAD.
    2)Another stated "I know it to be true based on personal revelation from God"
    Well Joseph Smith had many revelations from God which were later re-revelated by subsequent Prophets and were in direct contradiction to each other's revelation. Sort of diminishes the value and truth suppposedly necessary to have a REAL REVELATION. I find it interesting that the writer didn't "testify" to the fact that he had a personal "chat" with God.

    3) The BOM will be TRUE to those who are indoctrinated in the "abomination" concept which is the very basis of the Mormon existence. I haven't run across any lessining of the "abomination of all other religions" theory despite the vast inter-working between the LDS Church and the Catholics and Jews of today.
    If these two latter religions are such "abominations" where is the "Latter Day revelation" that has allowed the faithful of the LDS church to intertwine many religious efforts with these supposed "abominations".The BOM does not forgive.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:13 a.m.

    "I think that the REAL test of the book lies in its ability to change lives. "

    Works of fiction can still be inspiring. Personally I don't believe the Book o Mormon is true but I do recognize that it inspires others.

  • AWyatt OREM, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 10:06 a.m.

    Redhat said: "It seems only those who were brought up in the Mormon culture or those who had little or no exposure to the Bible, or who had a special "need" for it to be true(eg an investigator likes the church fellowship so is expected to believe the BOM) have received a testimony of it?"

    I am demonstrable evidence that you are incorrect. I had read the complete Bible (old and new testaments) before I even heard of Mormons. I did not grow up in anyplace there were many Mormons. I had no "special need" for it to be true.

    Yet I received a testimony and still have that testimony 45 years later.

    You may want to re-examine your assumptions.


    Oct. 27, 2011 9:54 a.m.

    There are actually several significant changes, including the use of the name "Christ" before it was "revealed" later in the Book, as well as multiple references to King Benjamin after he died. You seem to think that the use of Benjamin actually makes sense, but if so then why change it? That's what doesn't make sense. That alone shows inconsistency.

    Also, the Book consistently refers to events supposedly in the future as if they had already happened. There are also many doctrinal changes that were made as Smith's teachings on the Godhead evolved. Many of the changes are grammatical, but those grammatical errors also reveal the lack of complex thought required to generate the book.

    I mean, I don't really want to start a debate about this since many here consider the text sacred, but if anybody is interested in this topic, please study it and learn for yourself.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 9:49 a.m.

    I know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God based on two facts. First, I have applied the principles in my own life and have found them to be correct in every way. But, more importantly, I know it to be true based on personal revelation fromm God.

    The pure in heart will read it and recognize the truth. The Lord has said "my sheep know my voice." Those who are truly the disciples of Christ will read the Book of Mormon and recognize it as the true word of God and a second witness to the divinity of Jesus Christ.

  • redhat Fairfax Station, VA
    Oct. 27, 2011 9:42 a.m.

    As one who is a serious student of both the OT and NT-one who has studied them deeply for over 25 years, the BOM cannot compare, except where the OT and NT are quoted(btw how did that happen?) almost exactly, in style, story, complexity, moral meaning, and inspiration!

    If the BOM is "true" how is it that millions(given copies by missionaries) have read it, prayed about it and received no confirmation of its truthfulness? It seems only those who were brought up in the Mormon culture or those who had little or no exposure to the Bible, or who had a special "need" for it to be true(eg an investigator likes the church fellowship so is expected to believe the BOM) have received a testimony of it?

    And I know Dr Petersen could have given the reader the "cons" on the BOM, but
    he followed the Nibley pattern of simply not discussing any BOM "difficulties".

    Not sermon, just a thought!

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Oct. 27, 2011 9:38 a.m.

    I can't fit the Book of Mormon geography with anything. Flocks of sheep doesn't seem to make sense. What is a curelom. But the story is complicated and avoid errors.

    The doctrine is complex and it is consistent and that overcomes the geography. Where the narrow neck of land is, doesn't void the fact that there is chiasmus, discussions on the fall of Adam, etc.

  • Grace Bakersfield, CA
    Oct. 27, 2011 9:38 a.m.

    May I offer another perspective? I took Hebrew at BYU ('70-71) with Ann Madsen, before she rec'd her doctorate. Our professor did not share the excitement about chiasmus, because he knew which passages were identical to the KJV. Obviously comparing Isaiah's writings will provide a palate for Hebraic comparisons. Spiritual feelings are in the eye of the beholder, right? I have Muslim friends who wax teary-eyed while quoting entire Qu'ranic sections. Does that lend crdeibility to its veracity for non-Muslims?

    I loved the BoM for 35 years and received many years of inspiration from the narratives. But being inspired by a book does not add anything to its validity. Observe the Qu'ran, the Jewish Tanach and Talmud, and the plethora of spiritual and New Age writings that continue to inspire humanity... My LDS nephews read more Harry Potter than any other book. My nieces are totally enamored by the Twilight vampire series.

    It is an issue of faith, regardless of historic evidence. After a totally unexpected spiritual experience 25 years ago (last May), I became infatuated with the Holy Bible, any valid translation. It is what Jesus claimed, "Words of Life". Nothing has compared since.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    Oct. 27, 2011 9:30 a.m.

    HAve you actually sat down with an 1830 edition and the current edition and looked at them side by side? A few years back I took my replica 1830 and the online edition and went word for word. Yes there were about 4000 word changes however they are not as you suggest. the vast majority were simply grammar For example the phrase "after that" used only by Nephi who left Jerusalem and Moroni was changed to "after". There was one spot were a name was changed when the City of Zarahemla was discovered and they had Gold plates from the Jaredites they could not translate they are told King Benjamin can translate and in latter editions Joseph changed it to King Mosiah. However that Benjamin's name was used in fact makes sense. When the people left he was king he stepped down after they had left something they would not have known. So when they found the people of Zarahemla they would have still believed Benjamin was king. That is the only real name change I came across.

  • cymrul West Valley City, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 9:22 a.m.

    I thought this article was about the Broadway musical.

  • Shaden Lincoln, NE
    Oct. 27, 2011 9:22 a.m.

    Thank you Dr. Petersen for this wonderful, insightful article.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    Oct. 27, 2011 9:20 a.m.

    Literate and intelligent are not the same thing. The one thing that his contemporaries on both the pro and anti side consistently said was that before 1830 he was only semi-literate. Yes he could read some basic things but was not well read and did not like to read. Again that does not mean that he was not intelligent just that he was not well read and did not like to read.

  • Hoosier87 American Fork, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 9:14 a.m.

    Dan is right on - if we are honest in our evaluation of this book, it could only have come in the manner Joseph said it did.

    As a young man growing up in Indiana, my parents challenged me many times to read the Book of Mormon. I never did - I lied and said I did, but I never read it.

    That is until I actually got in the MTC. An instructor there challenged me one day, saying, "if you're going to go to France and share this book with people, shouldn't you know whats in it?"

    That night I opened the Book of Mormon and read - I finished it in less than one week. I was absolutely astounded - it was true! What my parents and church leaders had been telling me for years was true. I remember feeling overcome with profound emotion and gratitude.

    That experience absolutely changed my life.

    An honest, sincere and even an analytical review of this book proves it is another testament of Christ.

    I have taught Gospel Doctrine for years and in all my rsearch I have found no error in this book - in fact, I'm more convinced now than ever!

    Oct. 27, 2011 9:09 a.m.

    The original text of the Book of Mormon isn't quite as impressive as the current edited version as far as consistency and complexity goes. The language is extremely repetitive and themes, characters, and names are out of order. I encourage everyone to read the earlier versions and compare them to the later version. Still I think the Book of Mormon rivals similarly themed books of the time such as View of the Hebrews.

    To me the most valuable part of the book is that it gives us a glimpse into the mind of 19th century America and the ideas that concerned them such as secret societies, infant baptism, and racism, as well as their guesses as to the origin of the Native Americans through a Christian lens.

  • Alaskan Orem, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 8:43 a.m.

    Thanks to Dan Peterson for another great article, and to Deseret News for printing it.

    I still remember with perfect clarity the moment someone first placed a Book of Mormon in my hands. He told me a quick, 3 or 4 sentence summary of the book's contents, then challenged me to read it and pray about it.

    Within days of starting to read the Book of Mormon, I gave up partying, cut my hair, and began to get my life together. I knew it was true, and that meant that I had to get myself on a totally different road from the one I was on.

    Decades later I look back at where I would have been, and compare it to where I am now. I'm grounded, healthy, and happy, with a wonderful wife (and 7 kids!), and a heart overflowing with gratitude for my Savior, Jesus Christ, and for the loving guidance (and correction) of a Heavenly Father.

    I have a lot to be thankful for, including for the Book of Mormon. It not only changed my life, but it may well have saved it.

  • michaelitos Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 8:37 a.m.

    I know the Book of Mormon to be true, not because of the improbability of Joseph Smith writing it, but because, after study and prayer, the Holy Ghost confirmed that testimony in my mind and in my heart.

    I appreciate the complexities that Dr. Peterson references. However, in the end, it is still about exercising faith as one reads, ponders, and prays about the book.

  • fww4867 Greeley, CO
    Oct. 27, 2011 8:33 a.m.

    Great article!! However, I take exception to the phrase "a semi-literate young farmer." I consider Joseph Smith at the same intelligence level as Newton, Einstein, Galileo, etc. Heavenly Father does not work the kind of work that he performed with Joseph Smith just because we see Joseph as semi-literate. Joseph lacked the formal training that you and I have endured, but he was not in the least semi-literate.

  • Utah Native Farmington, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 8:30 a.m.

    Did you mean chiasm or chiasmus? "And this is to say nothing of the extended chiasms throughout the book." The plural is chiasmi, but it's rarely used.

  • El Rocko Cedar Hills, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 8:26 a.m.


  • Kouger Lehi, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 8:24 a.m.

    Great article Mr. Petersen. Most if not all critics and hatemongers of the Book of Mormon have not read it. And some don't even want to read it or it will change their visceral animosity towards the LDS Church. As a convert, I have come to love the Book of Mormon! Again, no one will have been able to write/translate such a work without divine help.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 8:16 a.m.

    I don't like to emphasize historical and scholarly arguments for the Book of Mormon. For many, this is whistling in the dark, and such arguments leave me cold. I think that the REAL test of the book lies in its ability to change lives.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 8:12 a.m.

    I still do not find it convincing.

    And the apologetic game is hypocritical:

    When the evidence and science go against you, you insist: "A spiritual testimony is the only basis for belief",

    but when you can find some obscure "parallelism", you parade it around with an in-your-face attitude, in defiance of your own claims about spiritual testimony.

    And then you vilify those of us who have taken Moroni's challenge and found a different answer than "the right one". You call us insincere, or too proud, or unworthy, or even "haters" and "anti's".

    In all sincerity, I humbly testify to you all, I have sincerely, with real intent, studied the BOM and Mormonism for over 20 years, attending your meetings and participating as much as I am allowed, along with my active LDS wife. But none of the promised "witnesses" (spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social, or otherwise) have EVER been forthcoming.

    I have heard the arguments, studied with the BYU professors, learned about chiasmus and parallelisms, and on and on, but the arguments are always weak, spurious, and circular: you find only what you are seeking (that is virtually a doctrinal axiom) and seek only what confirms belief.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Oct. 27, 2011 8:01 a.m.

    I had a testimony of the book long before I heard words such as chiasmus. The other things, such as contained in this article, only serve to fascinate and intrigue me further. Elder Holland's General Conference address from October of 2010 is further testimony.

    There will no doubt be many who will lend their opinion to this page and argue and degrade and contend. I've learned to let them. My testimony is not based on frustrated ramblings, or the murmurings of those who have an axe to grind, but the peace I feel inside every time I lean towards the Savior, which I do as much as I can.

  • tyndale1 Pullman, WA
    Oct. 27, 2011 7:54 a.m.

    The Book of Mormon is a book to be reckoned with. I recommend it to be prayerfully read by everyone. I love this book and feel closer to my Savior every time I open it. In addition to all of the things mentioned in this article, I like how I get something new and rewarding from it every time I read it, even though it might be my 35th or 36th reading of it.
    I love it.

  • gottscheer APO, AE
    Oct. 27, 2011 7:33 a.m.

    This article is very good. It points out the improbability of Joseph Smith writing this book. I don't believe any man or woman could have written the Book of Mormon in that space of time. Any legitimate scholar would have to agree the book was written by man at all. Joseph Smith translated it by the power of God, that is really the only explanation for the book.

  • SammyB Provo, UT
    Oct. 27, 2011 7:31 a.m.

    My Hebrew professor at BYU is constantly sharing details with us about the strong connection between the language and names of The Book of Mormon and Hebrew. The root words, syntax, and other linguistic fingerprints of that book make it clear the originators had a Hebrew background.

    And by the way, all the jokes about "It came to pass", that are constantly found, especially in Nephi's writings, is an English translation of a very short word found throughout the Old Testament that begins many verses. Most of them are left out in translations but in the original Hebrew, this word floods the Old Testament. Just one tiny example of many that I found interesting.

  • 7dawg Norman, OK
    Oct. 27, 2011 7:04 a.m.