Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Types of evidence and the Book of Mormon

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  • What Fountain Valley, CA
    April 22, 2011 12:00 p.m.

    I'm not sure if my comment made it through, i had an error message. I mentioned how the topic always seems to turn to polygamy. I discussed Abraham in Egypt and his hiding truths about his marriage at the Lord's direction. I also mentioned some errors in the above comments, and how many of Brodie's claims have been disproved, such as that Joseph fathered a child with Pratt's wife. And I recommended a FAIR article.

    Polygamy, Prophets, and Prevarication: Frequently and Rarely Asked Questions about the Initiation, Practice, and Cessation of Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  • Doctor Tucson, AZ
    April 22, 2011 10:49 a.m.


  • vic Colorado Springs, CO
    April 21, 2011 8:52 p.m.

    Reference Doctrine and Convenants, section 132, verse 1: the first 5 words, quoting: Verily, thus saith the Lord

    This section deals with a revelation given by the Lord to Joseph Smith establishing polygamy.

    Conclusion: the Lord is establishing polygamy and not Joseph Smith. Therefore, since the Lord cannot lie, polygamy is valid.

    If Joseph Smith is lieing about this revelation, what others has he lied about: Sacred Grove, Moroni, Peter/James/John, etc.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 21, 2011 4:03 a.m.

    It seems an argument that the Lord is complicit in telling lies. What happened to the concept of the Lord is the pure light of truth. JS polygamy was not a (sacred) secret. It was obviously known to his other wives and associates. Some of his other wives were the wives of his close associates. There is no mention of sacred secrets associated with his polygamy. JS lied to his loving wife Emma, and others, about his plural wives (polygamy). If there is another honest explanation it would be nice to know.

  • vic Colorado Springs, CO
    April 20, 2011 11:43 p.m.

    Yes, I am sure that other Prophets, Seers, and Revelators have kept sacred promises given to them by the Lord that they should be kept secret (sacred) and should be kept from their spouse(s).

    Question: Was it "his" polygamy or a commandment from the Lord, making it the Lord's polygamy?

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 20, 2011 11:07 p.m.

    JS did lie to his wife Emma about his polygamy.

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    April 20, 2011 8:59 p.m.

    I think a certain amount of "double-think" comes into play in order to accept both of Whitmers statements. Some church members seem to do this with little difficulty when presented with contradictory evidence. That is the beauty and problem with believing that a church really is God's one true church. That church can never do wrong.

  • vic Colorado Springs, CO
    April 20, 2011 8:57 p.m.

    @ OC64
    Is the LDS Church true simply based on the veracity of the Book of Mormon?

    For me, no, it is a combination of items within the LDSChurch, which makes it true. Did Joseph Smith (JS) have the vision in the Sacred Grove, Yes. Did JS receive the fullness of the Gospel through the visitation of old and new Testiment prophets, Yes. Did JS receive revelation on how to conduct temple worship, yes. Did the Lords revelation contained with the Doctrine and Convenants specify about the truethfullness of the Book of Mormon, yes. As for that matter, is polygamy, a valid revalation from the Lord, yes. Plus numerous other revelations revealed to JS from the Lord.

    We still go around in circles about the evidence, or the proof of the BoM, all one has to ask is if the Book of Mormon is false, that further would negat JS visions and would just make JS a liar. Which would bring up, what other aspects of the LDS church was JS lieing about? It is that simple, did JS lie or is the LDS church true? Do we pick and choose the revelations?

  • Doctor Tucson, AZ
    April 20, 2011 1:47 p.m.

    I was raised catholic, I went to catholic schools and studied scripture with nuns and priests. My parents had a fancy bible which was passed on to me when they died. My mom used to read from it to us kids. I remember a nun and priest getting into an argument in front of our class because the nun said if the Jews in Egypt were as numerous as the bible said it would have taken weeks or months for the exodus to occur. Yet they left in one day and the pharoh's army (in chariots) couldn't catch up to them. The priest said the bible is true and correct and they got into it. Yes catholics study the bible. I believe you didn't, but that was your choice.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    April 20, 2011 1:19 p.m.

    Jaime Lee Bonberger:

    "How does his claim to have heard God tell him to separate himself from among the Saints invalidate his testimony of the Book of Mormon?"

    It does not necessarily "invalidate" his testimony of the BoM on its face, but it certainly draws attention to the problematic nature of such a declaration and the manner in which Whitmer claims to have received it.

    A reasonable person might ask why God would uncharacteristically single Whitmer out and speak to him "by his own voice from the heavens" in the same fantastic, supernatural manner as he "spake to us three witnesses" with a command to separate himself from the Latter Day Saints. Its even more problematic considering that the restored church ostensibly holds the keys and power to facilitate a person's exaltation, so why command a separation?

    Furthermore, a fundamental tenet of the LDS church is that such fantastic supernatural communication by God himself is reserved for the appropriate lines of authority...those who are specifically ordained as prophets, seers, and revelators.

    With all due respect, its not overly difficult to see why this might create a logical suspicion among sensible people about witness credibility.

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    April 20, 2011 1:13 p.m.

    Sassygirl/JM: I believe the immaturity comment is mislain. The issues you list for similarities are vague and esoteric. Yet you expect me to give a straight up yes/no on their similarities. The "cross on the skull" issue is a great example.

    Yes, a cross on a skull is similar to a cross on a skull. But even you should see that there is more to it than that. What do the skull and cross mean to Christians? Redemption/resurrection. What did it mean to the Mayans? From what I've read, creation and birth. Does it seem likely that it refers to Golgotha? No! In his short visit, Jesus showed the prints on his hands and feet and probably had to explain the concept of crucifixion. Do you really think he went into Golgotha symbolism as well? This is the primary failing of apologists. They stop when the similarity or connection makes sense to them without validating the meaning to native culture they're connecting it to. For Meldrum it's DNA and Hopewell mounds. For others it's pyramids and stylized trees. YOur first 10 evidences are suppositions that don't even reach circumstantial.

  • Pentacone Batley, W.Yorkshire
    April 20, 2011 12:15 p.m.

    Dearest Sharrona,

    I am Very Impressed that you can Speak/Read Greek, but, I am NOT lying to you!

    As a child (here in England), the "Mass" was said in Latin We had NO Idea what was going on, so we learnt the Rituals.

    We would Stand for Hymns, then Sit for a while, then Kneel during the Sacrament (Before Standing again, for yet another Hymn!)

    We were NEVER encouraged to Study anything else at School, but the "Procedure" of Mass (Which only lasts 45 mins. or so.)


    "The Roman Catholic Church is THE Church, and has been, ever since Constantine started it in Nicaea (c325ad)"!!

    We were told to Accept the Nicene Creed (Google), and that there was just One GOD, who was a Trinity!!

    "There was Simply NO NEED to look Further!"

    "Just Follow your Priest, and His Holiness the Pope"

    I am telling you All of this Story, just so that you may get an Idea of:

    "Just how Well-Off the LDS are, with ALL the Information brought to Joseph"!

    So, Please stop arguing about it, and continue your Study!!

    With Lots of Love,
    Joseph Peter Sheehan.

  • Jaime Lee Bonberger Houston, TX
    April 20, 2011 10:55 a.m.

    Mormoncowboy: "you argue that Whitmer was a credible witness at the signing of the Testimony of the Three and Eight Witnesses, and conversely was not credible at the writing of An Address to All Believers in Christ."

    I completely disagree with your characterization of my argument. I propose no such thing and do not acknowledge any inconsistencies that are at all relevant to the question of his witness to the BoM. I'll take part of the blame for lack of clearly stating my point in 200 words or less. That and the NDews seems to only post about 2 of every 3 comments I add.

    Other than that, best of luck to you as well, but don't be surprised if people aren't impressed with the Whitmer unreliability argument. I sure don't see it.

  • OC64 Edmonton, AB
    April 20, 2011 10:54 a.m.

    I would like to see an article explaining why the LDS Church must be true if the Book of Mormon is true. There are other Churchs that use the Book of Mormon. Are they true is the Book of Mormon is indeed proven true? Is the LDS Church true simply based on the veracity of the Book of Mormon?

  • OC64 Edmonton, AB
    April 20, 2011 10:47 a.m.

    There was a lot of information in this article about types of evidence but there was no actual evidence given (regardless of what definition of evidence you use). The article refers to the witnesses as direct evidence but that was it.

    There were a lot of word written but no real information.

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    April 20, 2011 10:37 a.m.

    Michael De Groote,

    I think Michael Ash should come on this board with you and address some of the comments.

  • Sassygirl Lehi, UT
    April 20, 2011 10:22 a.m.

    I've been asked again to pass on some information. I would like to add that I think there is some immaturity going on here.

    Most of us can see that a cross on a skull is similar to a cross on a skull, but that is most people. Because you don't know about something, have "never seen" something, or "have no idea" about something, this doesn't make them not similar. You'll have to take that up next week though. I don't enjoy wasting my time.

    "LDS believe in Triunity.

    Requested references for acceptance of 7:
    Orthodox Wiki: Church of Holy Sepulchre: Catholicon
    Wiki- "Christian Mythology:" Cross functions in traditional Christianity as a mythological axis mundi(4directions, like laver)...where heaven and earth meet.
    Often a sacred tree, mountain, or building acts as the axis mundi...Calvary...burial-place of Adam." (Christians identify) Cross with the (central) Tree of Life."

    Also search Templars, Church of Holy Sepulchre ("Temple" symbolically similar to Solomons), New Advent, Cyril of Jerusalem lectures on Mysteries (discusses less-secret rites and symbolism of Church of Holy Sepulchre)

    Other 8 are unreasonably rejected, similarity is the theme, not your lack of study. : )

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    April 20, 2011 9:47 a.m.

    Pentecone, I have worked with many Bible reading Catholics in the area of pro-life events and Im an Evangelical. The RCC has several modern translations today they dont rely on Latin Vulgate, or KJV. The Orthodox read the Bible in Greek as I do.
    Christians, Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians(Mormons excluded), in New York on September 28, 2009,made the Manhattan declaration. We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love, who has laid total claim on our lives. We set forth this declaration in light of the truth that is grounded in Holy Scripture (The Bible).
    A simple plowboy can understand the gospel but to Deny(understanding is a different issue) the triune God there is no salvation. Martin Luther.

    A person who claims the doctrine of the Trinity is false because the word Trinity is not found in Scripture is as foolish as someone who claims 3½ inches, or say, 5¼ centimeters do not exist because his ruler only shows whole numbers. The Doctrine of the Trinity is presented in Scripture clearly.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    April 20, 2011 9:42 a.m.

    Jamie Lee Bonberger:

    Correct - They never "denied" their testimonies. Still their individual statements do not conform to the odd affidavit each man signed (but did not write). Still, I have made my points and we disagree. That is fine. I obviously cannot prove that the men were not witnesses, anymore than you can prove that they were. I argue that the testimonies and witnesses are not reliable exhibits of "direct evidence", by virtue their inconsistencies over time. You acknowledge many of these inconsistencies, but seperate the timeline into periods of credibility and non-credibility. In other words, without evidence and with disregard for historical linkage, you argue that Whitmer was a credible witness at the signing of the Testimony of the Three and Eight Witnesses, and conversely was not credible at the writing of An Address to All Believers in Christ. Fair enough, we've made our points and I think we have reasonably cited the relevant facts so far as we understand them. What each of us infers from those facts is up to us. Good luck!

  • Pentacone Batley, W.Yorkshire
    April 20, 2011 3:13 a.m.

    Dear Doctor, (Its like being in Hospital again!)

    "Petacone-Catholics are supposed to read the scriptures, NOT just follow the priest at mass. If you tell this kind of untruth what else do you say that I can believe".

    Are U Catholic Sir?

    I was Born such, and am now 52years old.

    My Mother, when she was alive, attended Mass EVERY DAY!

    I offered her a Black, KJV/LDS/JST, and said, "I think you will find, that JSTs Comments help you to better understand your Reading".

    She said, "But I dont have a Bible Just my Daily Prayer Book"!!!

    (She was over 70 when this occurred)!

    Plus, there are about 1000,000,000 of them, and the Only Ones that I have ever seen with a Bible, are the Priests @ Mass!

    So, in my Endeavours, I have approached a few Priests, to ask of their advice on Scripture, and I lose them in a couple of seconds!

    Hence, I await for answers from "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"!

    With All Love,
    Joseph Peter Sheehan.

    (&, "GOD Bless You vic")

  • vic Colorado Springs, CO
    April 19, 2011 9:54 p.m.

    As some of my comments are deleted by DESNEWS, I find I have to become even more basic in my comments. And that is; what is the perpose of the Holy Ghost?

    If one is filled with the Holy Ghost, does one really need the "evidence", the "proof", the "DNA"?

    Is this not sufficient, by some people's rational, NO.

  • Jaime Lee Bonberger Houston, TX
    April 19, 2011 7:21 p.m.

    Mormoncowboy: Let's drop this idea that each of the witnesses "had ample opportunity to recant their testimony". The fact is, they didn't.

    Me: That is correct. Glad we agree.

    Mormoncowboy: What would have been the advantage...

    Me: You don't think they could have won considerable fame for exposing the whole thing? Think of it. Take down the Utah kingdom! Rid the world of the fallen church and its polygamous ways!

    Why was it erroneously published in an encyclopedia that Whitmer denied his testimony if it would not represent some sort of advantage or surrender to orthodoxy as supposed by the authors? Why have people continued since the very beginning, right down to the commentators to this very article, to try and prove that the witnesses DID deny their testimonies, if in fact to do so would present no advantage?

    I repeat what you said above: the witnesses never denied their testimonies.

  • Doctor Tucson, AZ
    April 19, 2011 6:48 p.m.

    Petacone-Catholics are supposed to read the scriptures, NOT just follow the priest at mass. If you tell this kind of untruth what else do you say that I can believe.
    JM-I had exceeded my four post last week when you issued your challenge. Frankly I have no desire to debate you. Sorry, but I question whether you are rational.
    All-I have followed these online debates for what seems like over a year. Just the propensity of the logical debate leads me to say the BOM is not true.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    April 19, 2011 5:50 p.m.

    Michael de Groote,

    If you will look at the comments on your "Bigfoot" article, you will see that the research and logic were lacking on that article/study. Moreover, even if that research had any validity, it still does not mean Michael Ash is not "superstitious". There are far more ways of being superstitious than believing in Big Foot, UFOs, and Atlantis.

    Believing in consecrated oil, priesthood power, the 3 Nephites, and the Whitehorse Prophecy are the Mormon equivalents, and are every bit as "superstitious" and irrational.

  • Jaime Lee Bonberger Houston, TX
    April 19, 2011 5:02 p.m.


    I believe that Whitmer believed that God commanded him to leave the Church. In his eyes, it was an act of self-preservation. I believe that he believed the Church fell into apostasy.

    Those, however, are his opinions and are not affirmations of an actual event 55 years earlier that he reaffirmed on multiple occasions.

    He was a witness, not a prophet, so his later apostasy and beliefs have no bearing on that singular witness he gave and signed.

    If a man was building a house and verifies in writing that the foundation is firm and sound, then finishes the house, lives in it for a while, decides he doesn't like it (the roof, the layout, or whatever, but specifically NOT the foundation as being at fault), does that mean that his earlier statement about the quality of the foundation is wrong? Of course not.

    And we disagree about the lack of motive to deny the BoM testimony. It was actually printed that Whitmer denied it, and he suffered no repercussions due to that erroneous denial. He then sought to correct the flawed report.

    Once again, I see no issue with Whitmer's testimony.

  • Michael De Groote
    April 19, 2011 4:47 p.m.

    @ skeptic | 9:56 a.m. April 18, 2011
    "I am happy for Mr. Ash, he has a wonderful gift. And when he completes his work of proofing the book of Mormon, using his talented gifts of hidden reason, logic and mystical detection he will be needed to proof Big Foot, UFOs, Atlantis, Cibola and so many other phenomenons that are not apparent to the free world."

    If you search for my recent DNews article "Converting Bigfoot: The gullibility of the religious," you will find that it is unlikely that Ash will take you up on your offer.

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    April 19, 2011 2:09 p.m.


    1_Tiamat and Tlaltecuhtli:

    While there are similarities, there is nothing to tie it to the BoM. However, I'll give you this one.

    2_Israelite temple mound ... primordial waters:

    I have no idea what Christian symbolism you're taking this from, nor how it relates with the Maya. No go.

    3_ME Father wore foliated apron:

    Who was the father? I found a reference on FARMS about a Maya foliated apron, but it had nothing to do with anything Christian. Try again.

    4_ritual 3 levels:

    And how many others as well? Schoolhouse Rock said it well: "Three is a magic number."

    5_cross/tree on skull:

    The Mayan symbolism was quite different: birth rather than atonement. To equate it to rebirth would be reaching.


    7_Golgotha=primordial temple hill:

    You're reading a lot into the symbolism of Golgotha. I need a mainstream reference.

    8_Priest-King passes serpent-hung cross/tree:

    I have never seen this is Christian/Mormon symbolism. What are you referring to?

    9_Symbolic watery womb-tomb/cave:

    Universal, wombs are watery and compared to tombs in most cultures. No way.

    10_Mayan/Christian king trees become temple pillars. Christian symbolism? Needs more explanation.

  • Pentacone Batley, W.Yorkshire
    April 19, 2011 12:47 p.m.

    May I continue where aaazzz left off?

    I realise that you are holding a Fantastic Conference here, particularly about the 1830 Witnesses. But, just as we have a Document signed by them, we also have this Book, which Actually Exists, and is printed in Modern English!

    Can we not just accept that the Words themselves should be enough to offer us a WITNESS?

    This Witness is simply, either a Story, or an actual History!

    Does our Faith in Jesus solely depend on This Book and its Witnesses?

    What about all the Revelations given around the same time? They are often a simple conversation, to a Person of the Church (Called to be Bishop, etc.)

    Where are the Additional Communications, to add further to the D&C, in todays circumstances?

    If we had these regularly, we would be more than happy to accept that Joseph spoke the same way!!

    With Ever Kindness,
    Joseph Peter Sheehan.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    April 19, 2011 12:33 p.m.

    Retracting my last statement @broken. : )
    Nothing new here. Critics fully know JS spoke English, translated into KJL (see MikeA), that God-Jesus is exalted man not philosophers gods. And Davids life was threatened, Church leaders going against JS. (Jaime right, how voice interpreted doesnt detract from eyewitness, adds.) Martin denounced "spiritual eye" spin. Showed "these eyes" hands hefted, etc

    Keep Trying ; )

    @Thinkman: oldie

    @Otis, thanks, keeping agreement? : ).

    @VankaCowboy: youve nothing to fear but truth. If Maya centered religion around passion symbolism, inexplicably akin to Jewish/Christian, your honest souls will seek understanding, lest youve unintentionally misled
    (: ) unintentionally).

    Aaazz: Ima factory worker. Howd you escape?

    Waiting for 1-5acceptance and quickly searched references, cant find #3.

    Self monitoring correction-

    New3: Mayan KING wore foliated apron, associating with central tree, thus 1Father.

    #6Mayan/Christian 1Fathers skull below cross/tree.
    #7Mayan/Christian Golgotha is central primordial temple hill, the cross/tree marking 4 directions.
    #8Mayan/Christian Priest-King passes ritually through dual serpent-hung cross/tree to skulls symbolic watery womb/tomb.
    #9Mayan/Christian initiate Priest-King reborn from said symbolic watery womb-tomb/cave.
    #10 Mayan/Christian king trees become temple pillars.

    (sealed/united malefemale trees, virgin, opposition serpents, healing waters etcnw?

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    April 19, 2011 12:27 p.m.

    Mountains of evidence support the New Testament to be written by actual people who lived in an specific place and in an specific time period. We have writings, artifacts and parallel evidences that there was a Jewish leader like Jesus to have lived. Whether he was God's son is another matter.

    On the other hand, we have NO evidence that the BofM was written by actual people who lived in a specific area and in a specific time period. We have the testimonies of 12 witnesses that the BofM was translated from gold plates but we have no plates. If anything, the existence of said plates would be the evidence that we could rely on to know that the BofM is what Joseph Smith and the other 11 witnesses claim. However, we must rely on testimonies of these witnesses and the testimonies of the millions of Mormons who claim the BofM to be from gold plates who know only through the "Holy Ghost" or "the Spirit" testifying to them.

    Didn't the 9/11 terrorists act according to God's (Allah) will? Didn't they claim to "know" that God wanted them to do their heinous acts?

  • aaazzz Murray, UT
    April 19, 2011 11:57 a.m.

    Lots of people did weird stuff back in the 1830's. I am not sure why we need to care about the three and eight witnesses. I feel like the Book of Mormon itself contains enough information to demonstrate that it is a spiritual book, rather than a historical book.

    The evidence we get for the spiritual nature of the book comes from living its principles, not looking for evidence. The evidence for the historical nature of the book will never help us live more Christ like lives, and frankly does more to condemn the book than it does to support it.

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    April 19, 2011 11:04 a.m.

    John H. Gilbert, the typesetter for the Book of Mormon said that he had asked Martin Harris, "Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?" Gilbert said that Harris "looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, 'No, I saw them with a spiritual eye." Other Palmyra residents said that Harris told them that he had seen the plates with "the eye of faith" or with "spiritual eyes." In 1838, Harris reportedly told an Ohio congregation that "he never saw the plates with his natural eyes, only in vision or imagination." A neighbor of Harris said that Harris "never claimed to have seen [the plates] with his natural eyes, only spiritual vision." - wikipedia with sources

    I think we need to consider ALL of the "evidence" not just the faith promoting or just the critical evidence. I believe Martin Harris when he says that he saw the plates in the declaration Joseph Smith had him sign, but I also believe him when he says that he say the plates with spiritual eyes, not with natural eyes. It appears that some want to just pick and choose only the evidence that supports their predetermined opinion.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    April 19, 2011 10:54 a.m.

    I'm always troubled by the silly notion that providing tangible or secular "proof" of a supernatural claim might somehow "confound the primary principle of agency" as Mr. Ash has suggested.

    Using such logic, one could easily conclude that the agency of Jesus' disciples was indeed subverted when he appeared to them after his apparent resurrection. If such an appearance after his death was in fact true, these witnesses saw his body, they spoke to him, and they even handled him. Furthermore, they observed him eating a piece of broiled fish and honeycomb, all done to "prove" a point.

    It's interesting that this ostensible experience did not require these witnesses to use their "spiritual" eyes, nor did it require them to stand behind a curtain.

    "While there are evidences that support religious convictions," as Mr. Ash states, "there are no intellectually decisive proofs." Seems to me that such "proof" was indeed made it nearly impossible for these witnesses to have been deceived, even intellectually.

    I'm curious, why the double standard with respect to BoM proof?

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    April 19, 2011 10:44 a.m.

    @Mormoncowboy "It's quite simple. David Whitmer pitted his testimony against the Church by stating that if you believe his testimony as one of the witnesses, then you must also believe that the same God commanded him to leave the Church."

    Not necessarily. A person can be following God at one point in his/her life and not following God at a later time. David Whitmer believed this about Joseph Smith. LDS believe this about David Whitmer. We believe David Whitmer was following God when he became one of the three witnesses and that he wasn't following God when he left the church due to polygamy. His testimony is direct evidence about the BoM. To discredit that evidence, people have to discredit Whitmer - not discrediting him at the time he left the church but to discredit him early in his life before he became a witness for the BoM.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    April 19, 2011 10:09 a.m.

    Bill in Nebraska:
    Joseph and Brigham both said there were men living on the moon.
    Do you believe that?
    Don't be so quick to quote history when you don't know all the facts. Blind faith has it's disadvantages.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    April 19, 2011 9:00 a.m.

    Jamie Lee Bonberger:

    It's quite simple. David Whitmer pitted his testimony against the Church by stating that if you believe his testimony as one of the witnesses, then you must also believe that the same God commanded him to leave the Church. If you read the entire address you will see that Whitmer believed that the Church had fallen into apostasy, and that God persuaded him to stay until 1838 to try and redirect the main Church. When he found that he could not, he was commanded to leave. In other words, you can't pick and choose with Whitmer - If you believe his witness experience then you must also consider the liklihood that the Church fell into apostasy.

    Secondly, let's drop this idea that each of the witnesses "had ample opportunity to recant their testimony". The fact is, they didn't. What would have been the advantage for Oliver Cowdrey the lawyer and journalist to admit complicity in a fraud? The same goes for Martin Harris and David Whitmer. The fact that Cowdrey really said very little about the experience is quite suspicious. The fact that each fell out of favor with the Church is also telling.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    April 19, 2011 8:54 a.m.

    Pentecone: For if someone[JS] comes to you and preaches a Jesus(exalted man) different than the Jesus we preached(1 Cor 3:11) or if you received a different spirit(Romans 8:15, spirit of adoption into the family of God) from the one you received or a different gospel(works)(Gal 1 6-9).(2 Cor 11:4)

    Truth, JS got it right(wrong) again as "Jehovah" is contextually used.
    Did you read Bruce R. McConkie(Mormon Doctrine)? "From LDS Revelation, however, we learn that Jehovah is the English form of the actual name by which the Lord Jesus was known ANCIENTLY.(D&C. 110:3;Abra. 2:8)." Google Tetragrammaton.
    Also, You misread and misunderstand the lectures of Joseph Smith concerning the attributes of God. Lectures on Faith, Q. What is the Father? A. He is a personage of glory and of power. (5:2.). God[is]spirit(pneuma). (John 4:24 Greek N.T.)

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    April 19, 2011 8:21 a.m.

    David Whitmer's "An Address to all Believers in Christ"is available online, and I encourage all who read the essays by Michael Ash to read that booklet. In the booklet, Whitmer said the following. The booklet was published in 1887.

    It is recorded in the American Cyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica, that I, David Whitmer, have denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Mormon; and that the other two witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, denied their testimony to that Book. I will say once more to all mankind, that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testify to the world, that neither Oliver Cowdery or Martin Harris ever at any time denied their testimony. They both died reaffirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I was present at the death bed of Oliver Cowdery, and his last words were,"Brother David, be true to your testimony to the Book of Mormon.''

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 19, 2011 8:11 a.m.

    Re: Rifleman

    Of course, you are correct in your statement: "that people lived in this land anciently and left records of their history". There is much evidence and prove of their history; the issue is that none of it seems to relate to the Book of Mormon. Also, concerning your statement of people who have their minds made and will not change; that statement cuts both ways, because there are people who would not believe Jesus if He were to come to Temple Square and report that the Book of Mormon is a good story, but not true history. And that is why sensible human beings relie on true science for knowledge and not rumor or superstitions.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    April 19, 2011 7:42 a.m.

    @JoeBlow The testimonies of the 3 witnesses and of the 8 witnesses state they saw the plates and the engravings on the plates. The 8 witnesses also said the plates had the appearance of gold. My reading of the two statements by the witnesses is that they were together as two groups when they saw the plates. The 3 witnesses said they were shown the plates by an angel of God. The 8 witnesses said they were shown the plates by Joseph Smith.

    You said "when most of the witnesses 'witnessed' the plates, they were either covered or draped in cloth." Would you please clarify your statement for us?

  • Pentacone Batley, W.Yorkshire
    April 19, 2011 7:39 a.m.

    When I was first given a copy of the Book of Mormon, 25 years ago, I (being a Catholic) quickly hid it from my Parents.

    But, in the quietness of the Night, I carefully opened it, and Read the first few lines.

    "Good Grief, what is THIS?" I thought!

    I Immediately realised that I was not Reading any Ordinary Book. There was a Special POWER in the Presentation of the Phrases, the like of which I had NEVER seen (As Catholic, you are NOT supposed to Read Scripture - Just Follow the Priest in Mass).

    Since this experience, I have Read the Bible, from Cover to Cover (LDS/JST/KJV), then the D & C, PofGP and the FULL History of The Church, a Number of Times.

    Being an English Scholar, & Engineer, I quickly worked-out how to Recognise the way Things are Written, under different Circumstances and Authorities.

    "Scripture" is given through the POWER of The HOLY GHOST!

    Therefore, if any of you are confused as to Evidence & Proof, first determine what is Scripture, and what is just the Expression of a Man.

    With All Love & Kindness,
    Joseph Peter Sheehan.

  • Jaime Lee Bonberger Houston, TX
    April 19, 2011 7:11 a.m.

    Mormoncowboy re: David Whitmer as a witness and An Address to all Believers in Christ.

    I see nothing in Whitmer's comments that would weaken his status as a witness that he saw the plates with his own eyes, and heard and saw the angel bear witness to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

    How does his claim to have heard God tell him to separate himself from among the Saints invalidate his testimony of the Book of Mormon? Recall that in Ohio it was he who was proposed as the new president of the Church by the apostates, and that this group still held the Book of Mormon to be true; they just lost confidence in Joseph as church president.

    The fact remains, he had ample opportunity and motive to recant his testimony of the Book of Mormon, but never did. If he had the courage to leave the Saints for self-preservation, he then had little to fear from denying his testimony. In fact, I think he would have been a hero in and out of Missouri.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 19, 2011 6:08 a.m.

    Re: Joggle | 8:37 p.m. April 18, 2011

    If an angel came down from Heaven and placed the golden plates in some people's hands they would still not believe. No one is forced to believe, but denial cannot change the fact that people lived in this land anciently and left records of their history.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    April 19, 2011 5:52 a.m.

    The children of Israel were never slaves in Egypt. It was just a story.

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    April 19, 2011 5:21 a.m.

    Can someone please explain why , when most of the witnesses "witnessed" the plates, they were either covered or draped in cloth.

    I am not saying that this was always the case, but many testified that the plates were covered.

    Why would there be any need to cover the plates in front of people. WHY, WHY WHY???

    Wouldn't these be available for all to see? Why not have 100's or even thousands of witnesses instead of a handful.

    Also, why would some at times make the statement that they saw them with their "spiritual eye"? Doesn't this further muddy the waters of the witnesses?

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    April 18, 2011 11:51 p.m.

    Thanks Mr. Ash. Please folks lets read the article again. Mr. Ash does not indicate better or worse evidence. He simply categorizes it. I am amazed by those who then suggest that because DNA evidence is circumstantial, and the testimonies of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon is an example of "direct" evidence conclude that Mr. Ash is suggesting DNA evidence is inferior to the testimonies of the witnesses. The article never states this, nor is it really about providing evidence of the BofM. Rather it says there are evidences of the Book of Mormon and they fall into the normal types of evidences for multiple areas, including, the supposed hard sciences, soft sciences, law and medicine. Given most of what is accepted as fact or proven in all of these fields' of knowledge is at least as questionable as the truthfulness or non-truthfulness of the BofM, it is a very valid point and makes an important contribution to how we can respectfully talk together, while continuing to have differences of opinion.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    April 18, 2011 8:37 p.m.

    I guess I use my last comment!

    @the truth

    You may believe your statement is true, but there is no evidence that it is true! Just saying it's true or certain way...doesn't make it true!

    @Twin Lights Says: What gives us the ability to leap from dry historical fact to living faith if not the Holy Ghost?

    Substantial evidence exists from cognitive neuroscience that humans readily find patterns and impart agency to them. Belief in the supernatural may be linked to how we make sense of the world in childhood. Supernatural beliefs are an inevitable by-product of our reasoning mechanisms. They lead people to draw associations between seemingly random events. Humans first started believing in the supernatural because they were trying to understand things they couldn't explain. Such beliefs provide us with an illusion of control over our environment and many people quite simply just want or need to believe. Children frequently explain things they see by drawing on supernatural reasoning; believing that things happen for a reason. We also see the same reasoning in adults. Our brain's desire to find cause and effect....or fill in gaps....whether true or not!

  • born again Murrieta, CA
    April 18, 2011 8:02 p.m.

    Having been converted to Mormonism for a short while I can see both sides. The Mormon culture is something that is held very dear to members. They will hold on to their faith because it represents family history, great times growing up with friends that are like minded, a safe church environment and a feeling that they belong to something unique. All of these things are very comforting to members alike. This is why when I did research on my own and found tons of evidence that made me take a second look at what I was being taught at Church, I had to make a decision. I decided the LDS Church wasn't for me and I left. It wasn't easy. I lost alot of friends and family alike. With that said, I truly believe that if the president of the church came out and said "the Book of Mormon is a fictional text." most members would stay right where they are, because the culture is so ingraned in their everyday life. Without the Mormon Church millions of people wouldn't know where to turn. I say this with only love in my heart!!!

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    April 18, 2011 7:22 p.m.


    "if you can't prove the "Holy Ghost" is NOT your own have no case and are simply self-convinced it is something it is_not! "

    If we cannot be sure when something is the Holy Ghost, then what is the standard of proof for religious truth?

    I am not talking about archeology or other historical proofs. These can only prove that something might have existed. But they cannot prove divine origin.

    We can likely agree that there was a man named Jesus. But, absent the Holy Ghost, how can we know that Jesus was the Christ? How can we know that the things written in the New Testament are true? Not that these are not the words that real people said, but how do we know that the words they spoke constitute the word of God? Absent the Holy Ghost, can we ever know?

    Plenty of people believe in the rough historical outlines of biblical events taking place in the Middle East. But they have no faith in Christ. What gives us the ability to leap from dry historical fact to living faith if not the Holy Ghost?

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    April 18, 2011 7:00 p.m.

    RE: Mormoncowboy

    Belief in the BOM comes to two things:

    Do you believe there is a God and do you believe that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God.

    Everything necessarily follows from those two things.

    IF you believe two those things,

    and believe God does not and can not lie or he ceases to be God,

    therefore the BOM must be a true work of people who lived anciently in america.

    RE: Joggle

    Joseph Smith did not translate papyri to get the book of abraham, he recieved it, and God restored it, via revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith from God.

    RE: sharrona:

    The BOM is a translation of metal plates that were written in a foriegn language, he was NOT translating hebrew or jewish,

    as such, the translating and use of the word "Jehovah" is entirely in correct as it is used and is acceptable in making that translation understandable in modern language.

    Joseph Smith got it right again as "Jehovah" is contextually used.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    April 18, 2011 6:53 p.m.

    A careful investigation reveals there are a number of historical details which raise questions about the objectivity and credibility of the witnesses. Witness accounts don't appear to be the factual, unquestionably objective event the Church often portrays. It is very significant that Smith himself called into question the moral integrity of at least four of the eleven witnesses. According to historical evidence, the Church's customary portrayal of the witnesses as eleven men of rational and critical mindsets, unquestioned honesty and integrity and unwavering commitment to the Mormon church and the Book of Mormon is far from true. The witnesses' testimonies as a whole are presented as objective, solid, and irrefutable, but upon close examination are seen to be subjective, ambiguous and, at times, contradictory. The traditional portrayal of a tightly woven story of Mormon origins is slowly being unraveled by the historical evidence, much of which is now being compiled and published within the Mormon community itself. Even if the majority of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon did not deny their testimony of the book itself this does little to support Church today. Some of current Mormon doctrine is nowhere contained in the BoM.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    April 18, 2011 5:01 p.m.

    Bill in Nebraska, The principles of textual criticism,although originally developed and refined for works of antiquity, the Bible, and Shakespeare. Let's apply to the BoM.
    1. Eclecticism. 1A. Internal evidence that comes from the text itself, independent of the physical characteristics of the document. 1B. External evidence is evidence of each physical witness, its date, source, and relationship to other known witnesses.

    Bruce R. McConkie,"From LDS Revelation, however, we learn that Jehovah is the English form of the actual name by which the Lord Jesus was known ANCIENTLY.(D&C. 110:3;Abra. 2:8)." Wrong,
    Catholic Encyclopedia [1913, Vol. VIII, p. 329] states: "Jehovah (Yahweh),the proper name of God in the Old Testament." Had they known about the Q're perpetuum, the term "Jehovah" may have never come in to being.
    Jewish scholars recognize Jehovah to be "grammatically impossible" Jewish Encyclopedia (Vol VII, p. 8).

    The spelling Jehovah appeared first during the 1762-1769 editing of the KJV Bible. The transcription Jehovah is nothing but a misunderstanding by Christian translators of Jewish reading traditions." JS saw the KJV not Jesus,Plagarism.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    April 18, 2011 4:52 p.m.

    To Mormoncowboy: You should read the article that spells out what David Whitmer has said and didn't say. You can find it on As I stated before he never recanted his testimony of the Book of Mormon or being a witness.

    As for the Solomon Spaulding people. It is funny that many of you believe them over the Joseph Smith witnesses. The problem is many were nothing more than actual family member including his wife. The difference is that it has been proven that the Spaulding manuscript was a total fraud. What they testified to was that Spaulding had a manuscript. The biggest problem is that there are quite a bit of sameness to both but it must be reinteriated that the Spauling Manuscript and the Book of Mormon have more differences than sameness.

    Therefore, as I stated before Martin Harris returned to the Church and died an active member of the Church. Whatever he said that may have been contradictory were replaced with his testimony at the time of his death. Mormoncowboy the same is said of David Whitmer. He knew that both Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris died confirming their witness. So did he.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    April 18, 2011 3:25 p.m.


    We can debate the details, but I can easily rest my case on David Whitmers comments in An Address to all Believers in Christ:

    "If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to "separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, should it be done unto them.""

    Additionally David Whitmer bought into the Strangite proposition. Whitmer presents you with serious problems as a "direct witness".


    I'm not interested in your proposition, because I really don't know what it is? You would be better served writing a concise white paper on your esoteric parallels because I'm not really following your confused references. For example:

    "Tiamat and Tlaltecuhtli, like Leviathan, are reptilian sea/chaos symbols, both were divided to make heaven and earth, eyes became rivers."

    Obviously you believe this affirms the BoM in some way, but I'm making the connection. An articulate argument paper would help your cause.

  • aaazzz Murray, UT
    April 18, 2011 2:55 p.m.

    Are these 5 of your 25 points?

    I have been a factory worker, so what am I supposed to avoid reviewing? (Are you limiting this to factory workers, or would this include other professions as well?)

    Or now that I am no longer working as a factory worker, is it okay to review?

    Also, I am very confused by your last paragraph. It seems you have listed 5 things, and have resources available for those five things, but you are unwilling to share your resources. Also it looks like you are not willing to accept references from others.

    I also am not sure if you meant to infer that if we ask for your evidence, that we must not disagree with it. Did I understand that correctly?

    Would it be possible to have these discussions at a blogspot location where the amount of text and comments would not be so limited. This would also be great because pictures, links, and even video could be part of the discussion.

    Thanks for all your time and dedication. I look forward to a good discussion.

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    April 18, 2011 2:51 p.m.


    I will concede defeat. You won. I'm just not able to address something which I cannot make heads or tails of. I honestly don't understand what you are actually trying to say, JM. How does any of what you have written relate to the BoM? I'm at a complete loss.

  • DanielAZ Tucson, AZ
    April 18, 2011 1:52 p.m.

    Great article Mike. Keep up the good work! ( . . . and now back to work!)

  • JM Lehi, UT
    April 18, 2011 1:50 p.m.

    @ICoug: Hearken Johnsons etc.
    True history is human. Seeing plates automatically makes one biased about reality of plates.
    Early on, most were related.

    Broken-that best claim fell long ago. : ) FAIR plagiarism.
    Thats why critics must fabricate anew : ).

    Again we have critics assessing, demanding credentials and evidence, providing none for their faiths, knowingly repeating misleading claims which always fall, avoiding review (even factory workers), unwilling to stand for claims, but perfectly willing to attack others who provide ; ) luvya, but: )

    @Searching, thanks, participate and moderate? : )



    1Tiamat and Tlaltecuhtli, like Leviathan, are reptilian sea/chaos symbols, both were divided to make heaven and earth, eyes became rivers.
    2Israelite temple mound/primordial mountain rose from primordial waters; ME pyramids also, and Mayan.
    3 ME 1Father wore foliated apron; Maya also.
    4 ME ritual involved 3 levels; Maya also.
    5ME Deity (Jesus) cross/tree was on a skull, Maya also.
    Do you agree these details are similar?
    Or disagree? With what reason?

    References available upon specific request, and only if you speak all disagreements first (not spending time giving references if they make no difference). Thus, if you request references you must have no other disagreements, and will agree when provided.

  • Timothy Benton City, WA
    April 18, 2011 1:44 p.m.

    IdahoCoug, You could try Bushman's "Rough Stone Rolling" where he presents a fairly concise description of the witnesses and the main players in early Mormondom...He cannot help from having a strong opinion because he is ,of course,a faithfull church member..In the preface he admits to having a bias but,to his credit,controls it quite well as the text is often unflattering of early church members and their actions..Once again,not hyper-detailed on the witnesses, but one can get a very good general idea..I would also like to thank you for pointing out the damage to the reputaions of the witnesses that would have most likely happened if they recanted..Also is the possibility of physical assault as some in the early church were quite militant and given to using force to silence views and opinions they did not agree with..There is also the possibility that after they found that they were taken in they were just too ashamed to say anything;a trait shared by many today..All in all, good comments today with no personal insults being cast..

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    April 18, 2011 1:25 p.m.

    JM: Thank you for the offer to be the moderator for your proposed debate, but I'll have to decline; I don't believe I could be disinterested enough to do it justice and I would rather participate in the discussion.

    Your proposal sounds interesting, although there is a lot of it that isn't clear. How will you present your 25 evidences with the current DN limitation of 4 posts per week? At that rate, this could take several months.

    Bill: That was a nice summary of the witnesses, but it still doesn't explain Peter Whitmer and Martin Harris's comments over the years. And why wouldn't God want more credible witnesses to the keystone of his restored religion? An maybe you could discuss the differences between them and the Stangite witnesses, or even better, the Solomon Spalding witnesses, who had no lasting reason to make up their claims and, to the best of my knowledge, never recanted.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    April 18, 2011 12:51 p.m.

    Thanks for this information Bill. I think your comments reinforce for me that the strongest evidence FOR the BofM (outside of one's personal testimony) is the witnesses. I agree with Bill that many probably had the motive and means to retract their witnesses. I assume there could have even been some financial incentive to do so from the many critics of the day. And yet I understand from a reputational standpoint they also had reasons not to deny.

    I don't know when we can expect it to be out but my understanding is that Richard Bushman's current project is a history of the witnesses. He understandably has a pro-LDS bias but tends to be very accurate. I think that should be a very interesting read.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for the most balanced/accurate book/information on the witnesses prior to Bushman's book coming out?

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    April 18, 2011 12:35 p.m.

    Witnesses three continued:

    Now lest discuss the Eight witnesses.

    First off Peter and Christian Whitmer, Joseph Smith Sr, Hyrum and Samuel Smith all would die in the faith. This leaves only Jacob and John Whitmer, and Hiram Page. Jacob and Hiram Page took every opportunity afforded them to testify of what they saw, held and knew of the Book of Mormon. John Whitmer would even go so far as to not only testify of it but also to state that Brigham Young had done right to take the saints to the Salt Lake Valleyand that the LDS Churh would grow from there. His only reason for staying out of the Church was that he didn't believe in Polgamy.

    So again these eight and the three would continue with their testimonies until their deaths.

    I would take the words of family members and historians over a so called writer any day. Hiram Page's son states that his father would always talk of his witness and was always gratefull to be part of those eight witnesses. Jacob's son would say pretty much the same thing. Dalin Harris Oaks bears his family name proudly.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    April 18, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    Witnesses Continued:

    Martin Harris died in Utah where he is buried. Before his death he called all the surviving members of his family together and bore testimony of the Book of Mormon. He also was stated to have said, "I didn't leave the Church, the Church left me".

    David Whitmer gave quite a few interviews and though some may seem contradicory they all basically stated that what he saw and heard he did indeed see. When a writer for Encyclopedia Brittanica wrote that David Whitmer had denied his witness to the Book of Mormon and the plates, David took out an add in the Richmond Newspaper basically calling the writer a LIAR. As with Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, he to would take to his grave his witness to the Book of Mormon. He as with Martin Harris called his family to his bed as he new he was going to die and bore witness to his family and close friends that what he saw and heard were true and that his family would get closer to God by living by its precepts.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    April 18, 2011 12:19 p.m.

    Since everyone seems to want to question the three and eight witnesses. Lets first make it clear that Joseph Smith didn't select these men to see the plates or to be witnesses. The Lord Jesus Christ selected these men to be the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

    Let's look at the three witnesses first:

    All three fell from the graces of the LDS Church. All three had ample fuel to disclaim their names from the Three Witnesses. NONE DID. In fact, two returned to the Church, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris. David Whitmer never returned. Oliver Cowdery in a congregational setting was introduced after his return to the Church and basically stated, NO ONE WROTE THE BOOK OF MORMON. I did straight from the mouth of the Prophet Joseph Smith and it was the power of God that allowed him to translate the Book of Mormon. Martin Harris and his brother would go on a mission and introduce to the Gospel a family known as the Oaks. Today one of his grand nephews stands fourth in line to the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    April 18, 2011 11:32 a.m.

    VankaCowboy: Guy named Mike Ash has excellent Witnesses articles.
    Also: Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 4: David Whitmer. David was publicly stripped, tarred, by 500 of your former critic leaders, still, with guns to his head, Whitmer boldly asserted his testimony.
    His life was threatened by salt extremists, and he said God instructed to leave.

    Whitmer issued a statement to twisting-critic Murphy "...I hope you'll understand me now--it was no deception, it was real."

    Harris also responded to fabricators, he pointed to the eyes in his head "these eyes" see these hands.. etc.
    From Braden, Clemens, etc, to present, anti-Mormons attack and claim 3witnesses denied,
    None ever denied, even facing death.

    @Searching, as the most reasonable of critic screennames you can monitor. Maybe that will give VankaCowboy other12 etc courage to agree ; ). If you are plainly being unreasonable etc Ill reasonably quit wasting time. We all reason. If critics give good reason for dissimilarity, Ill find another.

    After 25 agreements, stop criticizing others faith in Christ and His leaders, BoM, and personal experiences, and be reasonable when questioning other evidences.

    Dont quote antis, question critical science also, that's science.

    Search, reason, think,feel for yourself...: )

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    April 18, 2011 11:32 a.m.

    12 Evidences against the BoM....
    1. Contains Formal King James Language
    2. Contains Elements from the View of the Hebrews. The PARALLELS between the Book of Mormon and the View of the Hebrews simply cannot be denied or ignored.
    3. Contains Wholesale Passages from the KJV Bible
    4. Contains Uncorrected King James Translation Errors
    5. Contains King James Archaisms
    6. Contains Uniquely Outdated KJV Terminology
    7. Contains Commonly Considered Specious Passages
    8. Contains a Number of Anachronisms. Smith writes about things that the ancient character should not know about because an event has not yet occurred in history, or an object has not yet been invented.
    9. Contains NO archaeologically verifiable information
    10. The birth of Mormonism is the result of historical happenstance rather than Gods divine intervention.
    11. Smith had a history of fraudulent activity in the area that he incorporated into his claims related to the discovery of the plates.
    12. Smith fraudulently utilized his childhood experience to convince others that he was translating ancient plates no one observed the with "their natural eyes". Smith translated in an occult manner similar to his technique for finding lost treasure. Smith was unable to duplicate the lost 116 pages.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    April 18, 2011 11:27 a.m.

    Once again, we are given an article in which Michael Ash takes quotes from "one lawyer" on the internet, a snippet from a University's web site, and a few other definitions and quotations pulled willy nilly into a "mash-up" to create "rules of evidence" that are favorable to his apologetic endeavor.

    But in so doing, Ash reveals his lack of understanding and expertise in the areas he is claiming to represent: physics, archeology, history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, jurisprudence, and forensic science.

    So what are Michael Ashs credentials? In what profession does he have any recognizable expertise? And why havent Ashs rules of evidence (much less his BOM evidences claims) been published in peer-reviewed sources so those with recognized expertise in these areas can evaluate the merits of Ashs claims? If Ash is really onto something here, there are thousands of true physicists, archeologists, historians, anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers, etc. who would be happy to evaluate Ashs claims (where we are not restricted to 200 words per comment).

    If Ash aspires to be considered an expert, he must pass the peer-review gauntlet as many of us have.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    April 18, 2011 11:03 a.m.

    Otis - eye witnesses technically ARE direct evidences. The caveat, however, is whether the direct evidence claims are to be believed. There are many different legal or logical reasons to question claims of seeing, hearing or touching something.

    Today, many such claims can either be strenthened or weakened by evidence such as photographs, finger prints, DNA, witness credibility, etc.

    I think that even the most ardent BofM believer has to acknowledge that there are at least questions around the three and eight witnesses. For example, all were related to one another and/or a strong supporter of JS and the BofM. It would have been nice if even one unbaised, unrelated observer could have also signed his name to what the others claimed to see. Some fell away and made contradictory statements later.

    My biggest problem is that so much of church history is not "clean" or simple. It seems that almost every pivotal event has several "questions" around it - First Vision, BofM, BofA, Plural Marriage, Blacks/Priesthood, Temple origins, etc. I guess I would think that a restoration of the one and only true church would not contain so many legitimate question marks creating such a need for apologetics.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    April 18, 2011 10:49 a.m.

    Ash fails to realize the cumulative circumstantial, direct, direct physical evidence and his attempts at parallel evidence as a WHOLE demonstrates that the BoM is NOT divine scripture. When evidence is examined and weighed for its strength of probability the BoM still comes out very weak in probability in comparison to the strong evidence against it. There is more than enough reason and evidence to conclude that the BoM is a work of fiction.

    With the discovery of the lost Book of Abraham papyri in the '60's, we have a piece of evidence that should either confirm Smith as a truthful translator and prophet, or show him as a fraud. The papyri, when translated by experts both in and outside of the Church was found to contain NOTHING remotely similar to what Smith claimed in his translation of the Book of Abraham. The papyri is the smoking gun and all the cumulative evidence against the BoM has much more probable strength than any evidence that Mr. Ash uses to support it.

    Again....if you can't prove the "Holy Ghost" is NOT your own have no case and are simply self-convinced it is something it is_not!

  • brokenclay Scottsdale, AZ
    April 18, 2011 10:47 a.m.

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

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

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

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    April 18, 2011 10:46 a.m.

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

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

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    April 18, 2011 10:11 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Timothy Benton City, WA
    April 18, 2011 10:04 a.m.

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

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 18, 2011 9:56 a.m.

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

  • aaazzz Murray, UT
    April 18, 2011 9:44 a.m.

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

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    April 18, 2011 9:33 a.m.


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

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    April 18, 2011 9:32 a.m.

    From Black's Law Dictionary, Direct Evidence is:

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

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

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

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

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

  • Timothy Benton City, WA
    April 18, 2011 9:29 a.m.

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

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    April 18, 2011 8:32 a.m.

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

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

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

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    April 18, 2011 8:28 a.m.

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

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

  • JM Lehi, UT
    April 18, 2011 8:22 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

    Whos in?

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    April 18, 2011 8:12 a.m.

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

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    April 18, 2011 7:44 a.m.

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

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

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

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    April 18, 2011 7:30 a.m.

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

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

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

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    April 18, 2011 7:20 a.m.

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

    Three Basic Principles of Archaeological Research by Garrett G. Fagan

    Irrationality and Popular Archaeology by Kenneth L. Feder

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

  • ? Fort Knox, KY
    April 18, 2011 4:49 a.m.


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

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

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

    Things in parenthesis are my search terms.

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

  • ? Fort Knox, KY
    April 18, 2011 4:44 a.m.


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

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

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

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

  • ? Fort Knox, KY
    April 18, 2011 4:41 a.m.


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

  • ? Fort Knox, KY
    April 18, 2011 4:40 a.m.


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

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