Defending the Faith: Joseph Smith's account of the Restoration is difficult to counter

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  • filovirus Salem, OR
    May 1, 2012 5:18 p.m.

    @ Dennis "Translated from what? or whom? Compiled where?"

    2011 marked the 400 year anniversary of the KJV translation of the Bible. King James of England wanted a bible that didn't have margin notes because some of the margin notes were in contradiction to his life-style. So he commissioned a newer translation of Bishop's Bible, the English bible used by bishops to preach to their congregations. The NT was translated from Greek, as Sharrona pointed out, and the OT was translated from Hebrew, as I have pointed out. Even though it was a newer translation, and the third English translation, much of the wording stayed true to the Bishop's Bible.

  • BCA Murrieta, CA
    April 30, 2012 11:20 a.m.

    "consciously deceptive"

    Interesting phrase. It describes some people I listen to. Even some people's whose writings I read.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    April 30, 2012 8:22 a.m.

    Take a look at the Book of Abraham papyrus.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    April 29, 2012 3:41 p.m.


    which greek are you referring to The Greek of the Third century A.D. or the early Greek at the time of Christ. Since the early converts to Christianity were Jews where are the Hebrew writings about Christ. The Jews distrusted the Greek language.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    April 29, 2012 2:29 p.m.


    Perhaps you didn't see my post: 11:17 a.m. April 27, 2012 where I address similiar questions. You ask...If people are requiring that the BOM have some authenticity should they not apply the same standard to the Bible? Yes, they should. It is my opinion that the Bible lacks evidence for its authenticity as well. When most people become convinced of an author's reliability, they tend to take what the person says as fact, even when it is not. I do not accept the Bible as God's word because it contains thousand of errancies and contradictions that can not be solved, only rationalized. The Bible is a completely man-made book written in a time of ignorance and corruption. All the original copies of the books of the Bible have long been completely lost. The so-called books in today Bible are the result of centuries of rewriting and being rewritten many many times. When you gather all the facts and information about the Bible and the BoM together....the fact is both are very difficult to believe...unless you ignore the lack of probability and rely strictly on faith.

  • Grace Bakersfield, CA
    April 29, 2012 8:01 a.m.

    Where is my polite post, which confronts the lies about God's Word by "zoar"?

    You continually allow the denigration of the Bible here by misstatements and pure ignorant folly. That should incense you enough to disallow those posts as divisive and offensive. But if you do allow such wide expression, why do you disallow the scholarly replies and rebukes? Shame!

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    April 29, 2012 7:16 a.m.

    Translated from what? or whom? Compiled where?

  • sharrona layton, UT
    April 28, 2012 9:59 p.m.

    Re: zoar63 The oldest known Biblical manuscript is a fragment of a letter of John, drafted perhaps a century after Christ’s time. But,
    Textual criticism is the production of a "critical edition" containing a text most closely approximating the original.

    LDS scholar 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.

    One example, 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 Greek manuscripts do not contain the doxology.

    The A of F, the original Edition, . #8 We believe in the Word of God recorded in the Bible; we also believe the Word of God recorded in the Book of Mormon.and in all other good books.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    April 28, 2012 6:14 p.m.

    @ Joggle
    “There are many proofs that Joseph Smith was not a prophet, but Mormons typically will not accept them. From the biblical evidence that contradicts Mormon theology, to…”

    How can that biblical evidence be authenticated? If people are requiring that the BOM have some authenticity should they not apply the same standard to the Bible? What is the physical evidence that authenticates the writings in the New Testament? The oldest known Biblical manuscript is a fragment of a letter of John, drafted perhaps a century after Christ’s time.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    April 28, 2012 6:00 p.m.

    Re: filovirus,The LDS Church uses the KJV and considers it the word of God with the fewest inconsistencies from the original hebraic and aramaic texts? Wrong,the N.T. was written in Greek with over 5700 MS. and the Septuagint(Apostles Bible) was written in Greek.

    LDS scholar 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.

    One example, 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 Greek manuscripts do not contain the doxology.

    The AofF,the original Edition #8. We believe in the Word of God recorded in the Bible; we also believe the Word of God recorded in the Book of Mormon... check current #8.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    April 28, 2012 5:58 p.m.

    All three witnesses reaffirmed on their death beds the truth of the devine authenicty of the Book of Mormon. David Whitmer one of the witnessess stated

    “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.”

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    April 28, 2012 4:32 p.m.

    His account is very inconsistent. Too inconsistent.

  • filovirus Salem, OR
    April 28, 2012 8:57 a.m.

    To Dennis:

    Currently there are over 450 English translations of the bible. The majority of them keep the same theology compared to the others, but often times simple word changes between them creates different meanings. The LDS Church uses the KJV and considers it the word of God with the fewest inconsistencies from the original hebraic and aramaic texts. A tight comparison between it and other English versions (NIV, NKJV, NAB, etc.) will show that many selected verses will bring whole new meanings to theology.

    And that is just the English versions. A comparison between versions in other languages will bring the same results. Hence "as long as it is translated correctly". Definitely not a "cop out" as it is still the word of God.

  • OnlytheCross Bakersfield, CA
    April 28, 2012 8:50 a.m.

    Bill in Nebraska, I love ya, Bro. But nothing you said is going to make Mormonism even close to Biblical doctrines. Joseph's opening claims were that every church and "all their creeds" were very wrong. His AoF spell that out and you can take them to every Biblical-practicing church, which predates Mormonism by centuries, and they will tell you that your foundational beliefs are not Biblical. Do the leg work- It will be enlightening. You may not agree, but you can understand why and where the divide is.

    I did and I ended up asking Heavenly Father for His truth. I knew what I believed, taught and had been told for 38 years. After studying the Bible and attending classes on Biblical Fundamentals, I realized (through the Holy Ghost), that we did have a very different salvation, Godhead, and trust in the Bible. I never doubted my testimony for a second, but I decided to ask the Father to clear up any misunderstandings I might have, give me His truth, and help me not put my version before the genuine, if I were wrong.

    When you humble yourself and ask for the real Jesus, He'll come.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    April 28, 2012 7:19 a.m.

    Bill in Neb:....when Mormonism talks of the Bible they have no ground to stand on. "As long as it's translated correctly"? What a cop out that is. The Old Testament was written the by the Jews. Not as a history, but as a teaching tool. Simply fiction in story form.
    Can you tell me who and when the New Testament was written....still can't. Because you don't know.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    April 27, 2012 7:35 p.m.

    Semper Fi: Surely you can't believe what you just said. Read the Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It states emphatically that we believe the Bible to be the word of God, as long as it is translated correctly. This is the problem with so many that just don't understand what they are talking about such as you and Sharrona.

    Everything in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is biblical. Every bit of it. From Baptism for the Dead, to Temple worship to the trinity. All that the LDS Church has can be defined by the bible. The problem is that many of the preachers and ministers of today get their so called diploma and right to preach from an earthly school. David, Moses, Abraham, Peter, James and John were called by Jesus Christ, not by some school of thought. The First Vision gives us the first concrete evidence that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two different disticnt beings with bodies and appearance the same as us. Exactly as it states in Genesis.

  • Semper Fi Bakersfield, CA
    April 27, 2012 5:18 p.m.

    Central Texan, surely you jest. There's not room in one book to list all the scams, their motives, unintended consequences, and the people who have suffered rather than reveal their deceit.

    And there have been hundreds of books on your supposition, showing all manner of motives for Joseph to have been fraudulent. But you have to read them and not refuse to apply the same acid test to them as you as LDS do to the Biblical veracity: manuscript evidence, consistency, historical and archeological evidence, etc.

    The verdict is in with respect to the non-LDS academic community's acceptance of a single aspect of utilization of the BoM for even one cable channel documentary. Smithsonian and NatGeo have prepared statements they will send you. But Christians don't need verification from academia for their personal faith.

    What they do need is verification from God's Word. Everyone has a testimony and logic and/or 'splainin' they can use for their spiritual convictions. It's just comforting for Biblical Christians to know that they have additional evidence- tons of it.

    The fact that eludes LDS is that for Mormonism/Islam to be true, the Bible can't be.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    April 27, 2012 5:05 p.m.

    To,m.g. scott, Come on, you must know that Joseph Smith was speaking of the principles taught in the Book of Mormon when speaking of it being the most correct book. And when he recognized the Bible as part of the BOM he used the familiar style .

    Jehovah appears to JS, ‘Abraham 2:8 ‘,My is name is Jehovah, But tricks him with the wrong Personal name of God(Elohim)LORD)(YHWH.)

    From LDS revelation, we learn that Jehovah is the English form of the actual name by which the Lord Jesus was known ANCIETLY (D&C 110:3 )) 788 Mormon Doctrine. s/b YHWH.

    He also said,“Eloheim is from the word Eloi, God is singular number; and by adding the word heim ,it renders it Gods.” ( H of C, 1844)

    In Hebrew the form of the word Elohim, with the ending-im, which normally indicates a masculine plural, however with Elohim the construction is usually grammatically SINGULAR.
    See H 430 Strong’s Hebrew concordance translates Elohim to God .

    “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1 Greek Septuagint)

  • Central Texan Buda, TX
    April 27, 2012 4:10 p.m.

    Dr. Peterson is only asking that we apply a little logic and reason as we look at the events and claims made by Joseph Smith and others who attested to some of his claims (particularly about the golden plates). Any historian or scientist will look at possible explanations and evaluate them for soundness. So how do alternative theories rate on the plausibility meter?

    For me, I take one step further back and wonder why ANYONE who wanted to found a religion in the early 1800's would pin their hopes on a fantastical vision story that countered the prevailing Protestant thought regarding revelation and the nature of God (while still a young teenager), then a few years later would publish what they said was NEW SCRIPTURE that was actually a record of an ancient people visited by Christ!

    Wouldn't it have been much easier just to formulate a new doctrine from the pages of the Bible and start preaching? Why would someone faking it have chosen this difficult route, fraught with an easy likelihood of being exposed, and almost zero chance of getting anyone to believe you?

  • OnlytheCross Bakersfield, CA
    April 27, 2012 3:24 p.m.

    I agree with Dr. Petersen that the Restoration account is difficult to counter, but only if you take it on face value and compare it to nothing else. Let me know, Dr. Petersen, if any of my facts or logic are wrong:

    1- If your measuring stick is the Bible, it fails. It is another Jesus for sure, i.e., a different Jesus and a different gospel. The Articles of Faith attest to Joseph's clear parting of the ways with the KJV Bible. He spent many hours correcting its incorrectness.

    2- Every subsequent LDS leader confirms Joseph's first claim that only he got it right, only his church, revelations and writings are directly from God, and superior in every way to the Bible and all Christian churches.

    3- An Angel of Light was claimed to have delivered a heavenly revelation and transcriptions to both Joseph and Mohmammed.

    4- Both Messenger's of the Book of Mormon and the Qur'an proclaim a faulty Bible, a works salvation or exaltation, a polygamous earthly and heavenly practice, need for extra-Biblical revelation and organization, no manuscript evidence left, a new revelation of God's essence and godhead.

    Another gospel.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    April 27, 2012 12:35 p.m.


    My argument is not about memory of the event itself. Rather, what you remember to say at a particular time and place.

    I have had the experience of reviewing in my mind an event after speaking or writing of it and realizing I did not mention one or more parts. That is all. This seems pretty typical to me (and folks tell me my memory is pretty good).

    As to when you might go on record. I think that would depend a lot on how confident you feel after getting shot down by the local religious leaders when you are just a 14 year old boy (whose social status was none too secure).

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    April 27, 2012 12:31 p.m.

    To you critics. You take the the first vision at face value. I read each one over and over and I find the same similarities about each one. When I discuss my experiences depending on the audience I relate something a little different or I omit some things.

    Joseph Smith was no different. It really depends on the audience. In fact, the 1842 version gives us more information that the two earlier ones do. Why? Is it important? For some it is so important because they can't believe it otherwise. They LACK the faith to see it for what it is. The 1838 First Vision is the one we use today as the official version. So what!! The others are just a different way of telling the vision. Just as I do so did Joseph Smith.

    It is as if the critics want someone to hold their hand and take them to where they need to go. As I have said before many of the critics are nothing more than pawns of adversary. They disagree who heartedly but it is true.

  • s1sterjud1th ,
    April 27, 2012 12:18 p.m.

    Professor Peterson is expert in things relating to Arab history and literature. He also is expert in the history and doctrine on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many of the comments focus on evidence or lack of evidence. Please remember that "lack" of evidence, is NOT evidence.

  • s1sterjud1th ,
    April 27, 2012 12:15 p.m.

    I for one enjoyed Professor Peterson's article. I always find him articulate, and knowledgable. His expertise in Arab history and literature, as well as "Mormon" history and doctrine is impressive. For those who are not persuaded in his elucidation of the first vision and how it is substantiated by historical development need to remember that lack of (what people call) evidence is NOT evidence.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    April 27, 2012 11:17 a.m.


    I think you assume I believe the Bible to be true while believeing the BoM to be false. Your argument fails because I don't believe either to be true. There is no certainty that any religion is completely true. All lack probability and proof. Claims about faith can be used to justify and defend absolutely anything on an equal and equally unreasonable basis. This means that faith ultimately justifies and defends absolutely nothing because after we're done with all the faith claims, we're left precisely where we were when we started: faced with a set of religions that all appear to be about equally plausible or implausible.

    The truth of religion or the existence of some god cannot be defended to a skeptical nonbeliever on the basis of faith. It means that faith is not an adequate or reasonable defense of any belief or belief system which purports to have any empirical connection to the reality which we all share. Faith is also an unreliable basis for singling out one religion and claiming that it is true while all other religions, as well as any competing secular philosophies, are false.

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    April 27, 2012 11:10 a.m.

    Re: Red Corvette

    "No one wants proof. But is must be reasonable to be valid. Since it is not reasonable, it cannot be valid. Simple as that."

    If you and I had been living about 100 years ago and I told you that one day we would be flying to the moon, and you would be able to hold in you hand a small metal box and be able to talk and see people in all parts of the world, you would have logically called that unreasonable.

    Re: Sharrona

    Come on, you must know that Joseph Smith was speaking of the principles taught in the Book of Mormon when speaking of it being the most correct book. And when he recognized the Bible as part of the BOM he used the familiar style
    of the KJV. After all it was translated from a language he did not know into the language he was familar with. Common sense.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    April 27, 2012 10:38 a.m.


    Like so many who would like to render the matter case closed, you assert a generalized victory appealing to the subject of "logic" in name only, without ever employing the same. Peterson's logical argument is incomplete and fails to invalidate all possibilities, again, those which have been considered and those which haven't. He never demonstrates why Solomon Spaulding as author is false, but rather attempts to suggest that it has been a satisfactorilly closed case for a number of years. If he were however to address the issue, he would have to do more than just invalidate the particularl E.D. Howe version on that theory. He would also have to explain the direct similarities between the Manuscript Found story of the manuscript discover, with Joseph Smith's story of finding the plates. I have yet to see any of the good LDS scholars tackle that issue head on. Instead they dismiss the Rigdon connection and summarily all things Spaulding with it.

    Lastly, more important than invalidating all other possibilities would be to simply validate The Book of Mormon as a real history. As of yet, they cannot rigorously account for The Book of Mormon peoples.

  • Wonthaggi SLC, UT
    April 27, 2012 10:05 a.m.

    Twin Lights said, speaking of the various First Vision accounts: "What I would find extremely odd is if every account were exactly the same."

    Why? Why would you find it odd if an individual was able to give you the same details of an extraordinary experience that they had? Your statement reflects a popular argument from FAIR/FARMS but it seems illogical to me. If God appears to someone, I think that it is reasonable to expect that they would remember the details of their experience.

    I've been accused of not having the greatest memory, but I am highly confident that if I had a heavenly visitation (from God, the Savior, angels or any combination) that I would remember the exact details of who appeared to me, how old I was and what they said. I also wouldn't wait many years to go "on record" about this visitation.

    I defended the various versions of the First Vision for decades and it never felt quite right (the whole mental gymnastics thing). It is refreshing to finally be able to see it for what it was/is.

  • lifelongguy EAGLE MOUNTAIN, UT
    April 27, 2012 8:53 a.m.

    I know better... I know better than to try to point out the logical fallacies here. I know better than to attempt to tear down the straw man argument and talk about the absurdity of repeating the same tired and worn narratives in support of a strategy that is increasingly frayed and exceptionally ineffective for those who choose to look at the evidences for themselves. I know better. I know this dissonance in watching this kind of contrived and silly and nonsensical argument is more painful for me and I should walk away and let DCP tell his fairytales using the decades old strategy that he employes... but until I have pulled my loved-ones from this mind-trap I find myself pulled back in over and over to try and rescue them. Exhausting.

  • Sneaky Jimmy Bay Area, CA
    April 27, 2012 8:51 a.m.

    Does anyone remember the story of Joseph Smith's sisters hiding the plates in their bed? There were more witnesses than just those listed in the front of the BofM. I've never heard a credible explanation to contradict Joseph Smith's claims.

  • EightOhOne St. George, UT
    April 26, 2012 11:36 p.m.

    View of the Hebrews-1823
    The Book of Mormon-1830

    case closed

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    April 26, 2012 8:03 p.m.

    One needs to separate the truth from the lies, and then it will all make complete sense:

    TRUTHS (all of which are consistent with the KJV and BoM):
    First Vision - only 1 Personage appeared (JESUS CHRIST).
    The angel Moroni and the gold plates.
    The restoration of only ONE holy priesthood.
    The Book of Mormon.

    UNTRUTHS (all of which contradict the KJV and BoM):
    First Vision - JEHOVAH (God the Eternal Father) appeared in the top of the trees next to JC (falsification by JS and others circa 1838).
    D&C (except for sec.87 only), PoGP, BoA (Egyptian pseudepigrapha), JST (tampered mutilation of KJV).

  • Robbee24 weber, 00
    April 26, 2012 7:42 p.m.

    Its ironic that the commenters on this article who make negative comments about the veracity of Joseph Smith’s account suffer the same logic based inconsistencies described by Daniel Peterson. Peterson’s argument is logic based. You would think in the very article in which he makes a logic based argument the commenters could at least avoid the same logic based inconsistencies. The point is, it is difficult to determine the veracity of Joseph Smith’s assertions using normal methods. What Joseph Smith said is difficult to prove and that’s the rub. Red Corvette says really inane stuff (it must be reasonable to be valid) yet that on its face is not true. No commenters have made a reasonable argument that Daniel Peterson’s logic is erroneous. It is obvious that Peterson possesses far superior logical reasoning than his commenters. Those commenters go back to the same old arguments used against Joseph for 182 years. Yet most of those same old arguments can be easily disproved through the logical sequence reasoning that Peterson uses. Peterson has checkmated, has left the chessboard and gone to dinner while they are still at the chessboard contemplating their next move.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    April 26, 2012 6:43 p.m.

    Searching articulates my point exactly -

    We are not obligated to provide alternative evidence to how The Book of Mormon exists, when the only story of it's origin depends on the integrity of Joseph Smith. The Joseph Smith story does nothing to invalidate all other reasonable possibilities, both those that have been considered and those that have yet to be considered. Under those circumstances a bet on natural causes is far more rational than a bet on supernatural causes.


    My argument does not depend on the conclusion that Joseph Smith wrote The Book of Mormon, just that some human person relatively contemporary to Joseph Smith did. Furthermore, you would need to be specific about what kinds of things that writer could not have known, in order to produce a meaningful argument. You also must remember that notwithstanding Hugh Nibley's abuse of the Law of Parsimony, logic dictates that in order for simple explanations to get preference, those explanations must still be subject to the constraints of the natural world. Otherwise, the Carl Sagan law of "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs" trumps the law of parsimony as a problem solving heuristic.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    April 26, 2012 6:06 p.m.

    sorry that was suppose to presented not resented

  • sharrona layton, UT
    April 26, 2012 6:01 p.m.

    @Jeff, JS "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct book of any book on earth, and the keystone to our religion.

    The KJV/3Nephi Sermon on the Mount. LDS Scholar Dr. Larson finds 12 examples where JS copied the 1769 KJV errors.
    “A great portion of 3 Nephi seems to be "borrowed and lifted" from the KJV Bible. Larson 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.”

    Jehovah(S/B YHWH )The Eternal judge… Moroni 10:34.
    The spelling Jehovah appeared first during the 1762-1769 editing of the KJV Bible. The transcription Jehovah is a misunderstanding by Christian translators.

    RE: Getting it Right You can have all the proofs you want but you will still not Believe. Example is the one-third of the hosts of heaven who followed Lucifer.
    You Believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons Believe that —and shudder.(James2:19)Demons believe there is one god(monotheism, not gods or exaltation)they don't trust God.

    RE: johnnylingo62 , Google Top Ten Biblical Archaeological Discoveries .

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    April 26, 2012 5:09 p.m.

    what facts? not your gut felling but actual observable facts that can be traced by the observable evidence back to the restoration.

    In my more the 40 years of life no one has resented evidence that there is no giant spaghetti monster in the sky controlling everything yet I do not go around making claims that it is a fact that one exist. Believe what you wish but to claim that you know something is a fact because someone cannot prove a negative is a poor argument.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    April 26, 2012 5:02 p.m.

    those asking others to prove their religious beliefs is not true may do well to realize that you cannot prove a negative. the fact also remains that it is a religion which means means it is not provable based on observable facts thats why they call it faith. there is nothing wrong with faith but to claim it must be fact simply because others cannot prove it is not happen shows a naive understanding of both logic and science.

  • Phoenix2012 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2012 4:05 p.m.

    It is sad that a debate is still being waged when The Authorized and Official Biography of the Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr. is now available to the world. Yet I think that the Bible said it best about what would happen in our day. In the New Testament, 2 Timothy 3, verse 7: it states that people will be "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." A link to a free copy of the biography for anyone interested can be found by Googleing
    the title "Without Disclosing My True Identity". The quote "No man knows my history" from Joseph Smith was the truest statement ever made by him.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    April 26, 2012 3:22 p.m.


    Have you ever told an account and later said to yourself, I wish I had also said this or that? I certainly have. Yes, even after writing something down.

    What I have read of the accounts is far less about contradiction than it is simply one part left out here that is mentioned or even emphasized in another account. Which I find is typical of humans and memory generally.

    What I would find extremely odd is if every account were exactly the same.

  • johnnylingo62 Gray, TN
    April 26, 2012 2:42 p.m.

    Have you ever seen a resurrected person?
    Have you ever seen God, or Jesus Christ? Have you ever heard their voice?
    What do you really know about Abraham, or Isaac or Jacob (Israel)? How about the apostle Peter, was he a real person? what kind of man was he while on the earth? Did anyone ever criticize him or did everybody love him and accept his message without any doubt?
    How about Elijah, he was a great prophet, yes? How do you know, he seemed to condemn the "wicked" readily and killed many priests of idolatry, or did he? maybe it's just all made up stuff.
    Have you seen the actual writings of Moses? Where are they? Do they exist? How about the tablets of the Ten Commandments - where are they - were they ever real or just made up, put into an ark everyone just had to take it on faith? How about parting the Red Sea, or healing the blind, deaf, leprous, lame, possessed? How about raising Lazarus from the dead - did it really happen? Where's the proof, where's the death certificate of the doctor that pronounced Lazarus dead? surely there's one?

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    April 26, 2012 2:20 p.m.

    Twin Lights,

    What is strange to me is that while the Mormon Messages encourages people to learn from the 4 accounts of the First Vision, the versions contradict in some degree, the official and last version that was given by Joseph Smith in 1838.

    Doesn't that bother you that the accounts changed?

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    April 26, 2012 2:13 p.m.

    For all those that have accused or assumed that some of us so called critics of Joseph Smith or of the Mormon faith have failed to read, search, ponder and pray about the Book of Mormon - I have done all of that and have even preached and taught and proselyted and placed over 500 Books of Mormon in my lifetime with potential converts and have found that Joseph Smith and the book itself is actually a fraud.

    The book itself contains many good teachings and Joseph did many good things for sure. I came to find out through opening my eyes and using my reasoning skills that he and the book weren't what they fully claimed to be. Once I found out these truths, I could no longer give my time and money money to the Mormon faith. I wish all who remain faithful to the Mormon church all good things and happiness.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    April 26, 2012 1:59 p.m.

    There are many proofs that Joseph Smith was not a prophet, but Mormons typically will not accept them. From the biblical evidence that contradicts Mormon theology, to the contradictions within its own history and doctrine, proofs abound. Mormons, completely dedicated to their religion and their testimony, cannot and will not see the evidence. One of the tests of whether or not a belief is grounded in reality is whether or not it can be proven to be true or false. If someone says, "I don't care what evidence or logic you show me, I will always believe," then that person's faith is not rooted in reality.

    It should be quite obvious that present scholarship has revealed that Joseph Smith did not translate the BoA by the power of God as he claimed. It follows that if he did not translate the BoA by the power of God, then it would be very easy to conclude that he did not translate the Book of Mormon by the power of God either.

    Mormons can believe what they want though, but don't expect others to accept your beliefs based on highly suspicious and improbable evidence to the contrary.

  • Erasmus PROVO, UT
    April 26, 2012 1:53 p.m.

    “… You don’t know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don’t blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself. I never did harm any man since I was born in the world. My voice is always for peace.

    “I cannot lie down until all my work is finished. I never think any evil, nor do anything to the harm of my fellow-man. When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will all know me then. I add no more. God bless you all.” - Joseph Smith History of the Church, 6:304–5, 312, 317)

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    April 26, 2012 1:53 p.m.

    Reference the First Vision:

    Mormon Messages has a video talking about the four accounts and notes that we would benefit by reading them all. See Joseph Smith and the First Vision.

    Reference archeological evidences and the Book of Mormon:

    If you are not convinced (and convinced does not equate to a testimony), fine. But since there is good archeological evidence for at least some of the Bible I assume all making this criticism are at least practicing Jews or Christians (in another faith). If not, your criticism rings a bit hollow.

    Also, the list of items mentioned in the Book for Mormon for which there are no archeological evidences has grown smaller every year since I joined the church. Thirty years ago, the list was long. Now it is much shorter. I suspect it will continue to get shorter with each passing year. But even finding every single thing in the Book of Mormon would not convince some folks. See above reference archeological evidences and the Bible.

    Finally, I recall when there was only minimal archeological support for the Bible and folks openly questioned whether there was a historical Jesus. Not so now. But faith has not increased.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    April 26, 2012 1:42 p.m.

    We have at least 4 versions of the alleged first vision that are well documented and even talked about in previous Ensign articles.

    We have Joseph Smith himself admitting in official court documents that he had deceived and took money from people with his treasure seeking.

    We have no evidence of the Book of Mormon being translated from gold plates other than the words of 3 witnesses by whose own admissions later stated that they never actually saw with their physical eyes said plates.

    We have proof that the Book of Abraham which allegedly was translated from papyrus that contained the writings of the prophet Abraham was actually funeral accounts.

    It is clear to me that he could and did make it all up.

  • rafael orem, UT
    April 26, 2012 1:25 p.m.

    You missed my point concerning revelation...Mormons are critical of Muhammad for his changing of the sacred verses. Is not Joseph also guilty of this? Surely you know that Joseph's early revelations concerning the nature of God is nothing like the Follet God and nowhere near the latest Mormon Apologetic God (read Thomas Alexander's essay concerning this matter if you haven't already). So, which revelation is the true one? Had you been raised and indoctrinated in an Islamic country you would use the same logic "why test Mormonism if I already burn for Islam?" Where comes your revelation to know the "true" revelations of yesteryear (resorting to the revelation of reason seems to me to be a dependable place to begin). I'm sure you dismiss other religious ideas using only reason - why does it not apply with Joseph? I guess I forget the convenient caveat of "continuing revelation." Does the lack of internal consistency bother you at all? I realize that there could be one true must feel an incredible burden to be so lucky to have been exposed to Joseph's vision of life and its purpose.

  • Getting it Right Sunnyvale, CA
    April 26, 2012 1:17 p.m.

    @critics and unbelievers: You can have all the proofs you want but you will still not believe. Example is the one-third of the hosts of heaven who followed Lucifer.

    John 20:29 - "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    April 26, 2012 1:03 p.m.

    Co-witnesses: Covered props can be made without much effort. James Strang demonstrated that visitations could be faked. David Whitmer claimed that a day of fasting and liberal amounts of wine contributed to the number of spiritual experiences at the Kirtland Temple dedication. These things can be faked and witnesses can be influenced.

    Testimony: Maybe someone here can enlighten me. Who wrote the testimony of the three witnesses and that of the eight witnesses? Did they write it themselves or was it prepared for them and they signed it? I find the Strang witnesses of the Book of the Law of the Lord slightly more compelling and the Spalding witnesses much more compelling (if only because they were individual accounts).

    Conclusion: I don't know how Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon, but in a wager between a tale about gold plates and angels or a manuscript burned after transcription, I'd go with the manuscript. I've prayed sincerely about the BoM and didn't get an answer. I've sincerely prayed about Joseph Smith and didn't get an answer. When God decides to answer, I might change my mind.

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    April 26, 2012 12:57 p.m.

    "It's the fact that no counterexplanation yet proposed for those events accounts for all the relevant data nearly as well as Joseph Smith's own story does." Because of the nature of history, neither proposition can be proven objectively. However, we can look more closely at the evidence Mr. Peterson presents to determine for ourselves if it is strong enough to support a supernatural explanation.

    Witnesses: Of the 11 witnesses, 10 were Smiths, Whitmers, or married to Whitmers. David Whitmer made his support of and belief in Joseph clear before the translation was finished. Martin Harris was, by many accounts, deeply superstitious and easily influenced through spiritualism. Oliver Cowdery, at least by that time, was very close to Joseph. None of the 11 would be considered a disinterested party. None had a background in antiquities. Each had an opportunity to be let in on the ground floor of a new religious movement.

    Joseph's character: There is enough evidence to show that he wasn't hallucinatory. As to his integrity, there is enough documentation from proof of arrest for fraud as a teen to correspondence with women over polygamy to raise some red flags.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 26, 2012 12:54 p.m.

    Moontan - fair enough. I can respect that. The story of Joseph Smith and the book of mormon translation is where all of the weight for mormonism falls for me. Because if it doesn't stand, then it is all false. To me, it is a big hang up because too many things just don't add up. I cannot accept things just because others think it is true, or because of a simple feeling. Feelings, or interpretations of feelings is where we get into trouble, I think. I can pray about anything, and if my mind is positive my spirit will follow.. that doesn't mean it was the spirit telling me something is right. It means my mind has come to a conclusion and my spirit will naturally follow. That is just my opinion. I can't trust somebody else's feelings. So for me, you add up all of the Joseph Smith evidence and stories, and contradictions it just isn't there. That doesn't mean the church doesn't try to do good. It just isn't true. That I do know. All the best, until the next article.

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    April 26, 2012 12:50 p.m.

    Re: Red Corvette

    Let's go to the big one, which sort of covers most of the rest you mentioned.

    "No Archaelogical Evidence." Really? No ruins in South and Central America of civilizations long since dead? Many of which have been discovered long after Joseph Smith invented them. And in translating from ancient texts, perhaps a four legged creature used by man was best described by Joseph Smith as a horse. I mean if I had never seen a camel and saw a person riding one and wanted to describe it, I might use a context I was familiar with. Just saying, but my main point is how is there no evidence of the kinds of people described in the Book of Mormon?

    P.S. What year is your Corvette?

  • Whos Life RU Living? Ogden, UT
    April 26, 2012 12:30 p.m.

    Anyone hear of the New Israelites?

    Research it.

    Members of the New Israelites may have included Joseph Smith, Sr., the father of the Mormon prophet, and William Cowdery, father of Book of Mormon witness Oliver Cowdery.

    If they had no connection it would be quite a coincidence don't you think?

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    April 26, 2012 12:25 p.m.

    Bramabull ... Yes, indeed. It is very, very convenient that the plates are missing ... but only for the critics. And as I said, if we had them, they'd criticize that.

    For me, though, I don't care one way or another. They'd be nice to see, sure; but I'm much more interested in the message they recorded. The Book of Mormon. Picking apart how the message got here isn't going to help me in any way. Its all I can do to stay in compliance with the message. An admittedly poor analogy, but apropos nonetheless... I really can't explain why my car goes forward when I gas it and hit the pedal, but it does. Or how 747s can get me to my destination without embedding me on the side of a mountain, but they do. That's all I care about. It works. It rings of truth. What all the other religions did not do for me, Christ did. The Restoration brought me clarity and a common sense that the Apostasy or Middle/Dark Ages didn't.

    I don't hold out for 100% proof in any area of my life.

    Allowed 4 posts. Oops.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    April 26, 2012 12:12 p.m.

    @ Brahmabull: You suggest that all religious people seek and feel the Holy Ghost to know that their religion is true, yet your language is full of supposition, not conclusive fact. You suggest as well that the existence of different religions seems to prove that the Holy Ghost is unreliable.

    I don't believe you have done any research to support this supposition.

    Further, you don't seem to understand or are willfully misrepresenting what Latter-day Saints mean when they bear testimony. My testimony, for example, in no way excludes the feeling that other Christians have that they are doing right; nor does it deny or negate the "right" that they are doing. (By the way, your cited number of Roman Catholics is only about half the true number.)

    You say that you are sure that "all religions pray" about their religions and get a "confirmation." A little more research on your part might help you. Some religions do not believe in personal revelation; some discourage the seeking of it. Some seek and receive confirmations of the exact doctrines that Latter-day Saints believe in (ie, Jesus is the Messiah; the Bible is true; God exists).

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    April 26, 2012 12:04 p.m.


    I can't help but note the irony in this statement:

    "The gold plates are really immaterial as far as faith in the BoM goes."

    As for the rest of your argument, it comes across as yet another statement that believers hope people won't think about. I mean really. You are going to suggest that if Joseph Smith could actually provide tangibly the Gold Plates, that would do nothing for the argument? Here is the thing. If we actually had the Plates, they could be tested for authenticity. If after the testing they appeared to be 19th century craftsmanship with fake language, you would be correct. Under those circumstances Church critics would indeed continue to dismiss The Book of Mormon. If however they were demonstratably ancient, it would go a long way towards establishing the credibility of Joseph Smith. To expect otherwise is just plain absurd.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    April 26, 2012 12:00 p.m.

    @ BYU Track Star: The documents exist, and are readily available online--both through the Church and anti-Mormon sources.

    @ Mormoncowboy: Your "simplest" explanation of the Book of Mormon fails to account for the things in the book that Joseph Smith could not have known. Keeping in mind that a criticism of his contemporaries was that he was shiftless and lazy (not that he was studious, diligent, and prone to run away to New York City libraries and learn other languages), it is impossible to explain even the amazing guesses that the names in the Book of Mormon would constitute, let alone the complexities of voice, narration, and diction. The Book of Mormon is clearly beyond Joseph's abilities, whether or not his neighbors were right.

    @ Rafael: You seem to be making an argument that, because Mormons believe in revelation, they must believe in ALL revelation. The logic doesn't work. If one revelation is true, then not all revelations need be true, as Mohammed himself seemed to suggest. If, for example, I know that the revelations of Mormonism are true, then I have no obligation to investigate or believe in any other revelations (though I have read the Qu'ran).

  • milojthatch Sandy, UT
    April 26, 2012 11:47 a.m.

    In my life of almost 30 years, I've heard many, many explanations for why the Restoration never happened, and each one of them seem more far fetched then the last. Just keep letting the yapping dogs yap I suppose. Meanwhile, the truth of those events continues to be brought forth nobly to the World, and those with a broken heart and contrite spirit are able to tell the lies from the truth. What the critics have really yet to explain is why the church continues to grow despite their efforts?

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 26, 2012 11:30 a.m.

    Moontan - I didn't say the plates would prove mormonism to be correct, but it is very very odd that they are just gone. They can't be examined. Their age can't be determined using modern science. They can't be tested to see if they are gold, brass etc. Their secret characters can't be looked at or compared. This reformed language can't be verified. But you don't think it is extremely convenient that they are missing?

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    April 26, 2012 11:13 a.m.

    Re: alt134

    If Joseph Smith were making it all up, then why would he invent a story about gold plates, get a few to pretend they saw them, along with an angel, and then write a very complex history book? Was it an attempt to deceive the rest of the Christian community? I mean was it all that wealth he got from doing it? Was it done to be very popular amoung all the people he lived around? Did he enjoy being chased and threatened? He must have really liked that tar and feathering. Yet with all of those benefits he kept doing it for years, until he was killed for it. In truth if he had desired to be a "self proclaimed prophet" he likely would have just said that he'd received a vision and was told to write things in a book that others should read and accept as scripture. Instead he hatched a plan to make up a history spanning hundreds of years with several authors about civilizations that at the time were known of by few people, especially in his part of the country. Is that what you think happened?

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 26, 2012 11:05 a.m.

    Commonman - I agree - that is how the bible and book of mormon say that you can have knowledge. If that method were so reliable then there wouldn't be different religions. Methodist I know are sure that they are doing right, catholics may say that they know they have the truth... I am sure all people of all religions pray about their religion and they get confirmation of that. If they didn't get spiritual confirmation there wouldn't be 500 million catholics!!! The spirit is an unreliable guide, obviously it can't give the same answer to all religions and be counted as reliable.

    Sitichon - Do you mean a testimony in a court of law such as Joseph Smith being taken to court for 'glass-looking' for money? Would that be proof? People TESTIFIED in court that he took money from them in promise of finding a bigger treasure.

    Utes fan - I don't doubt mormonism has helped countless people in their lives, including you. That doesn't make it true. Again, same goes for catholics, lutherans, methodists... Great benefits in peoples lives, yet doesn't make them true. I have tried Moroni's promise. It didn't work.

  • BYU Track Star Los Angeles, CA
    April 26, 2012 10:54 a.m.

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

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    April 26, 2012 10:52 a.m.

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

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

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

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    April 26, 2012 10:50 a.m.

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

  • rafael orem, UT
    April 26, 2012 10:33 a.m.

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

  • rafael orem, UT
    April 26, 2012 10:23 a.m.

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

  • KTC John Wetumpka, AL
    April 26, 2012 10:19 a.m.

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

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2012 10:09 a.m.

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

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2012 10:03 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2012 9:57 a.m.

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

    The book itself is the evidence.

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

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

  • sitichon PROVIDENCE, UT
    April 26, 2012 9:56 a.m.

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

  • conservative scientist Lindon, UT
    April 26, 2012 9:55 a.m.

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

  • Commonman HENDERSON, NV
    April 26, 2012 9:50 a.m.

    Dear Brahmabull,

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

  • aaazzz Murray, UT
    April 26, 2012 9:47 a.m.

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

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

  • sitichon PROVIDENCE, UT
    April 26, 2012 9:44 a.m.

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

  • sitichon PROVIDENCE, UT
    April 26, 2012 9:30 a.m.

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

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 26, 2012 9:27 a.m.

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

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    April 26, 2012 9:17 a.m.

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

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

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

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    April 26, 2012 8:34 a.m.

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

  • rafael orem, UT
    April 26, 2012 8:18 a.m.

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

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    April 26, 2012 7:26 a.m.

    This is a great piece.

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

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

    A very accurate statement.