Defending the Faith: A simple explanation works best for the Restoration

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  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    May 7, 2012 8:56 p.m.

    Joggle: I will say this that the experience I had that affirmed the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, the truthfulness of Joseph Smith being a Prophet of God, and the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ came not from a feeling or a burning in the bossom. It came in away that can only come from a higher being and from a light that I can not nor will I try to describe. However, it came it was more an affirmation of the truth. Prayer in its innocence, in its sincerity will answer in a way no one can actually describe. What happened for me I know that others may have experienced something similar but uniquely for themselves. One must be sincere. One must be willing to change and accept the answer they are given (real intent). One must have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Without any of these present the answer will NOT come.

    As the scriptures state: It isn't in the wind, the earthquake, the tempest or the fire. It is as if something is speaking to you that completely overtakes your entire being. You will know beyond any doubt when it does.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    May 7, 2012 7:15 p.m.


    I am sure you have well thought out reasons for your rejection of the restoration. And of course circular reasoning is problematic.

    But I disagree strongly about getting a spiritual affirmation of any holy book if you seek it. That was certainly not my experience nor the experience of many folks I know who are LDS. Many come to a testimony of the Book of Mormon not wanting for it to be true.

    So you want undeniable evidence before you investigate? Then what about other Christian religions (say the Greek Orthodox) or Judaism? They certainly have enough evidence for such a search to begin, true?

    I agree that a testimony is a truth that is discovered personally.

    Your point reference the world acknowledging a universal truth is simply not true. There are many truths that science can prove that are still not recognized by the world. Judaism in the epoch before Christ and Christianity in its first century were certainly not universally acclaimed as true.

    Truth is never a popularity contest. It doesn't matter if we accept it or not, recognize it or ignore it. Truth exists quite apart from how many accept it.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    May 7, 2012 4:34 p.m.


    Our opposing arguments are NOT a simple matter of "I don't believe in it, so it can't be true." We have very well thought out reasons for the rejection of the Restoration as true based on research of evidence. It is not circular reasoning. When a person assumes the very thing it aims to prove beforehand...that is circular reasoning. If you are susceptible to spiritual feelings and want a spiritual affirmation of the BoM (or any holy book) you'll get it. It doesn't mean it is what you think it is! I can entertain the possibility any religion is true, however remote, but to be convinced of the truthfulness, I need more than feelings. I would need undeniably undisputable evidence with a high probability of truth. Mormonism lacks that. Personal truth is a truth known individually, and universal truth is a truth known worldly. Your conclusions without evidence that can be universally recognized proves nothing about the truthfulness of your assertions and can be disregarded as personal truth rather than universal truth. The same can be said of any belief! If your faith was a universal truth the whole world_would_recognize_it!

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    May 7, 2012 1:22 p.m.

    I find Peterson's reasoning to be very persuasive. The arguement against the Restoration is really a circular argument, and it is repeatedly endless from the critics, to wit: "I don't believe in it, so it can't be true." The variations are endless: "Joseph Smith could not have seen God (or angels) because there are no (meaning 'I don't believe in') gods or angels." "The Mormon interpretation of the Bible can't be true because I interpret the Bible differently." "Sidney Rigdon must have written the Book of Mormon because I don't believe that Joseph Smith did"; or its corrolary: "Joseph Smith must have written the Book of Mormon because I don't believe Mormon did."

    The simplest answer to the Mormon question is the most obviously true: Joseph Smith saw God; he conversed with an angel named Moroni who led him to the golden plates upon which the Book of Mormon was written; Joseph translated the Book of Mormon with divine help; other angels appeared to Joseph; Joseph recieved other revelations. "But what about..." questions always lead (if fully followed) to the same conclusion: Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    May 6, 2012 2:08 p.m.


    Who is the "you" that you are referring to? I've only posted once on this article and have not posted under any other name. The rest of your post lacks any coherent argument and is based on false assumptions not based on any knowable truth. There is no stretching, fabricating, etc or recruitment going on, but you are welcome to that delusion. However, it doesn't give you much credibility. It only shows that you cannot present any argument based on evidence and facts. While I often disagree with the doctrines and beliefs contained in most organized religions...I'm not anti-Mormon....or anti any specific religion. I simply disagree that any religion is true and I'm presenting an opinion on it. I belong to no organized group trying to destroy your religion. I'm simply one person expressing an opinion of which you are free to disagree with! If my expressing my opinion causes any doubt....then that person's faith was weak to begin with. Me....I have no doubts about my beliefs. There are many better ways to search for truth that are not based on the circular reasoning of Moroni's promise.

  • Capella Bakersfield, CA
    May 6, 2012 9:55 a.m.

    You missed the one and only Biblical answer. Amazing that it was not considered even once in this article or the previous.

    For a church that passes out free Bibles on my porch and professes to believe in it, as far as it is translated correctly, why have you avoided the very passages that give you that one, last explanation and warning? Not even once to consider-


    Atleast be honest and use God's word as a possibility.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    May 6, 2012 8:48 a.m.

    RE:JM,The path from Rigdon to J S comes via Oliver Cowdery. Oliver was Joseph’s second chief scribe and also his cousin. Oliver’s brother Erastus Cowdery lived in Ohio. And it is believed that during the time when Sidney was a preacher (of sorts) in Ohio that he and Erastus come into contact with each other because they were practically next door neighbours.
    . The content of Solomon Spalding’s novel “Manuscript Story” can be found in the testimony of the witnesses who claim to have seen Sidney Rigdon in Pittsburgh during the time of Solomon Spalding. The testimony of those witnesses contains details of his manuscript because Solomon read it to them. During those times Solomon was the nightly entertainment, and it was because of these readings and his constant use of the phrase “It came to pass” or some variant of this, that Solomon becomes known as “Old Come to Pass”. It is interesting to note that in the first edition (1830) of the Book of Mormon, the phrase “It came to pass” (or some variation of it) occurs over 1500 times.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    May 6, 2012 8:22 a.m.

    I can honestly say that revelation continues to flow from the heavens. Angels are visiting the earth and continue to do so. The problem is that if we so stated and gave away the facts, the critics still would not believe us just as they don't believe Joseph Smith saw God the Father and God the Son. They won't believe us just as they fail believe that the angel Moroni visited the Prophet Joseph Smith and showed where the Book of Mormon was hid. They wouldn't believe us just as they fail to believe that Moses, Elijah, Jesus Christ and Elias visited the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirkland Temple RESTORING all Priesthood keys to the earth.

    Have I seen angels? I will answer that emphatically YES. Do you believe me? NO, but yet they have and on many occassions. Do I believe they visit the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and that answer is also YES.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 6, 2012 12:49 a.m.


    I find it quite convenient to assume that anyone who studies the Mormon gospel, and does not reach the same conclusion as you, must have been insincere. Indeed, Jesus himself spoke highly of faith no greater than a mustard seed. Alma suggests that the minimum is but a "particle". While I don't know how much faith that really is, I would think that the very act of reading The Book of Mormon and privately praying to God, ought to be indicative of a person who posses at least a particle. Still, we can alway's say, "well, you just weren't sincere enough". Perhaps that's true, but the best I can say is that it is at least partly due to the fact that your alleged God has offered very little that would compel me to be more sincere than I have been.

    Northern Lights:

    Certainly angelic ministrations aren't happening "all around us". How could we debate such a thing, if these were common occurences. In fact, you even admit that your perception is just an assumption. So notwithstanding that these are "common" as you suggest, you yourself admittedly even lack the first hand experience.

  • Atikokan Sutherlin, OR
    May 5, 2012 3:37 p.m.

    Why is anyone actually responding to the obvious anti-LDS comments on this article? If anyone SINCERELY and with real intent, let me repeat, sincerely and with real intent prays, they will get an answer. Real intent means that you aren't praying with the idea of poving Moroni's promise wrong. Anything else is a joke.

  • scojos Draper, UT
    May 5, 2012 1:56 p.m.

    It doesn't matter when Joseph Smith met Rigdon. What matters is that Rigdon was a preacher of the Restoration doctrine BEFORE he met Joseph Smith.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    May 5, 2012 11:59 a.m.

    I didnt notice the comment you posted under your Joggle moniker. Was it an example of the scramble for something, anything, to make the anti-Mormon failure less painful for those who must doubt?

    You dont have to feel so guilty about doubting. As mentioned, even Jesus’ disciples were doubters. Most are, until we gain strength and knowledge. You should simply admit that you doubt, like Thomas. No need to justify it with all this anti-Mormon scrambling, that gets you into trouble.

    You SHOULD feel guilty about stretching, fabricating, etc in trying to recruit doubters. There is no need to lead others down. Those who will doubt will get there without your help, and when you pull down, it makes you partially responsible for any tragedies.
    BTW, much has been written about the translation/revelation process (always through human minds, minds like Isaiah within a certain culture) and changes (printers’ punctuation etc, and some more important changes occurred, starting with Joseph. The most notable example- apparently he translated skin garments washed white/ white skin etc references more directly (including ancient symbolism), but realized people in our culture might misunderstand, he started changing but never finished).

    FAIRlds moon.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    May 5, 2012 11:03 a.m.

    I agree, angels are still visiting the earth.

    Sharonna- Here is a quote from FAIRlds: Book of Mormon/Authorship theories/Spalding manuscript

    "Modern (critics) ignore the inconvenient fact that the manuscript (was) recovered...

    ...all these critics have is a nonexistent document which they can claim says anything they want...(this) shows the lengths to which critics will go to disprove the Book of Mormon.

    "...the BEST explanation such critics can propose requires that they invent a document, then invent its contents, and then invent a means of getting the document to Joseph via Rigdon.

    "Despite clear evidence that Joseph met Sidney after the publication of the Book of Mormon, critics claim that evidence will eventually appear which proves that Joseph and Sidney met prior to late 1830

    End quotes.

    As pointed out above, if anyone found any fatal flaw, or any logical explanation for the evidences, etc, critics wouldn't have to resort to fabrication, mocking, twisting sacred things, hiring people to attack, etc. Ya'll critics have been at this for almost 200 years. It's time to free yourself from the chains of doubt, even Thomas believed once he saw, we have signs enough : ), to look again.

  • scojos Draper, UT
    May 5, 2012 7:21 a.m.

    What difference does it make? The argument just diverts people from the real topic, Is the Book of Mormon the word of GOD? I think not. Too many different stories and changes for the BOM to be the word of God. Whitmer said it best "I saw the golden plates with my "spiritual" eye", not "my natural eye". Rigdon was a preacher well before Joseph Smith and Rigdon preached the Restoration theory long before he met Smith. I don't understand why the church is ALWAYS defending itself, always changing its doctrines, always disclaiming past church leaders, always stating that past church leaders didn't represent the TRUTH of the church unless it was a "divine revelation" WHY? Leave it alone. Your church serves it's purpose. It does a good job. Why the need to build so many temples and create this auroa of wealth and salvation tied to tithing? I no more believe in a talking rock as I believe Moses parted the Red Sea. All religious hype to control and who does it better than yours truly. Joseph Smith was a contemporary synthetic preacher, no more no less.

  • Stay the Course Salt Lake City, utah
    May 4, 2012 10:24 p.m.

    Personally I like the words of Nephi written in the BofM

    11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.

    Some day we will all know the BofM is the word of Christ

  • Northern Lights Louisville, KY
    May 4, 2012 9:56 p.m.

    Lane Myer:

    Why do you assume that angels are no longer visiting mankind on Earth? I'm only curious becuase my assumptions are completely different.

    Unlike Mormoncowboy's comments, I argue that "things are happening" all around us. My own family's history contians a rich tapestry of experiences where the veil between Earth and Heaven has momentarily parted. I'm grateful for those of my kin who have shared this knowledge with me to ponder and treasure up in my heart.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    May 4, 2012 4:44 p.m.

    RE: JM: one of the bedrock claims of the Mormon Church to refute this theory is that Sidney Rigdon was not in Pittsburgh until 1820 or possibly 1822. It is because of this, that any claim of Sidney knowing Solomon or of his manuscript and then stealing it are dismissed as impossible.
    The problem with this reasoning is that during that time, mail was not delivered to your house, you had to pick it up from the post office. Now if you did not collect your mail regularly, the post office would publish a list of people with mail waiting for them in the local newspaper. There exists such a list, dated Aug 1816, which contains not only Sidney Rigdon’s name but also Solomon Spalding’s, proving that they were both in Pittsburgh at the same time and their paths could have crossed. The Spalding enigma,2005, Letters Pg 136-137

  • JM Lehi, UT
    May 4, 2012 3:20 p.m.

    Didn’t Einstein say, about “the hundred and one books written against” him, that if he were really wrong it would only take one book?

    For 200 years anti-scholars have failed to find that fatal BoM flaw,they have searched high and low (or mainly just low), but always end up lending more support to the Book of Mormon instead. IF they had any valid evidence they wouldn’t have to resort to being less than honest and mocking, pretending to be LDS, forging documents, altering studies on word prints etc etc.

    Here is something I said on another article to some of the same critics: When I sin and lose the Spirit, and weigh with fallible logic only, I still find no valid evidence against the BoM etc, and abundant valid evidences in support. A FEW: undeniable religious links; American, ME and Polynesian morphology; DNA; Native American temples and detailed Passion knowledge; reformed Egyptian; BoM MotherKing tree symbolism; impossibly accurate geography; steel; “machined” iron; Liahona; Pacal from BoM king; etc etc- everything from the names Alma and Isabel - to Nahom and Zarahemla, all supportive. : )

  • JM Lehi, UT
    May 4, 2012 3:16 p.m.

    Even the TV20 anti-Mormon (SM) has finally admitted that the Spaulding theory is dead. Of course he moved to another theory entirely, and is pushing the View of the Hebrews one now. I really enjoyed reading that, with all those evidences and Native American connections with the Middle East, of course some of his ideas are outdated, including the Beringia only theory (was it Ethan Smith who invented that one, or did he pick it up from some other 19th Century person).

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 4, 2012 2:41 p.m.

    Lane Myer:

    My suspicion is that your perception is only half right. In other words, the reason those things aren't happening now is because they weren't happening before either.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    May 4, 2012 1:55 p.m.

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


    And here we are in the last days and we do not receive any more visits. I have often wondered why. There were plenty when the church was restored, but there haven't been any for centuries. And the Lord used to tell Joseph everything and he had it written down - but now we must all rely on feelings.

    Does anyone know why the direct communication stopped with Joseph and why angels are not visiting the church members any more?

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    May 4, 2012 1:17 p.m.

    Has anyone here ever read the Spaulding Manuscript or View of the Hebrews?

    I have been reading and scanning them (when I have time). So far, I find only a few very basic relationships to the Book of Mormon (foreign folk in America) and no similar story arc.

    I will let you know if I come across something else.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    May 4, 2012 10:24 a.m.

    If the original 1830 Book of Mormon was inspired than why were there so many errors and changes and additions and deletions, when compared to current editions? How do you account for the stunning parallels in both content and order between the BoM and the View of the Hebrews published (7 years before the BoM) less than 100 miles from the Joseph Smith's parents home? If the BoM is true, then why has the Mormon church changed it? Joseph Smith said that there are men living on the moon who dress like Quakers and live to be nearly 1000 years old. Since he was wrong about the moon, is it safe to trust him regarding the way to Heaven? Probably not!

    There is so much information out in the world that supports the improbability of Mormonism that it can't be properly addressed here, but yet it exists. And as far as accepting angels is concerned as the source of Smith's vision....there is no certain evidence they exist (including in the Bible). Faith is not an adequate or reasonable defense of any belief which purports to have any empirical connection to the reality which we all share.

  • FredR EDMOND, OK
    May 4, 2012 10:17 a.m.

    Bless you Brother Petersen! I watch with child-like delight at all the frantic bee-havior when the nest is gently prodded. It always seems to be the same bees that come out. :o)

    @aaazzz - I think this is a general interest column. If you want the scholarly stuff with footnotes and bibliographies, you should check out the Neal A Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and some of the other LDS apologetic sites. More than enough there to keep you occupied.

    I don't believe that the veracity of the Book of Mormon will ever be unassailably established by proof or evidence. God will make sure that's it's always a matter of faith. This comments to this column confirm what I learned years ago as a missionary. If you believe what we say, no explanation is necessary. If you don't believe what we say, then no explanation is possible.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 4, 2012 8:47 a.m.

    Even in the event that the spaulding story, and all other critics stories about the Book of Mormon are false, that doesn't make Joseph's story true. His story is the most outlandish and unbelievable of them all.
    Petersen definately jumps to a false conclusion.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    May 4, 2012 8:09 a.m.

    To: Dr. Petersons,Sidney Rigdon, stole Spalding's work for whatever reason?

    It was used it to set Joseph Smith up as a prophet. Because of Joseph Smith’s desire to be a modern day “prophet” and its requirement for a “book” that Solomon Spalding’s manuscript is discovered by Joseph Smith through his cousin and Sidney Rigdon.
    In 1814, during the period between the submission of Spalding’s manuscript to the publisher and Spalding’s own death, the manuscript disappears for a while. It is believed that Sidney Rigdon, a leather tanner and book binder, was responsible for this disappearance. He was seen by Many witnesses frequenting the various printing shops and publishing houses in the area. One of the many witnesses, Joseph Miller, a companion of Solomon Spalding in his later years, mentions in his letters that Solomon told him that he suspected Sidney of purloining his manuscript.

  • User41 Provo, UT
    May 3, 2012 9:50 p.m.

    Thanks Dr. Peterson. Your scholarship, insights, and ability to clearly communicate them are much appreciated. I also get quite a kick (probably unfortunately) out of all the commotion you stir up every time you post an article.

  • Stay the Course Salt Lake City, utah
    May 3, 2012 9:45 p.m.

    Actually L Valfre I have gone to the source the BofM read and had the confirmation it is true. End of story there I'm afraid I don't need to look around or read other material have you read the BofM yourself?

  • Stay the Course Salt Lake City, utah
    May 3, 2012 9:39 p.m.

    your answer continues to be a non answer

  • aaazzz Murray, UT
    May 3, 2012 6:02 p.m.

    This article series is titled "Defending the Faith." I have no problems in any way with Moromism or Mormon beliefs.

    These articles should be called "Why I believe," or some akin to that. Defending should rely on something stronger than opinion.

    I want to point out that my purpose is not to critisize the Mormon church or faithful, just the title of this series of articles.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 3, 2012 5:50 p.m.


    Fret not, my dear. I apply my scrutiny evenly. Yes, the Bible also is a supernatural farce.

    May 3, 2012 2:37 p.m.

    Whether its fromSpaulding or Ethan smith or Joseph or Oliver or Sidney does not matter. The book is clearly a product of early 19th century authorship. It's themes are from the time period as was its production. It includes language and events that couldn't have been known to ancient Americans and that are anachronistic. Efforts to validate the book as authenticate appear to be made as an effort to justify misplaced faith rather than a search for truth. Joseph's other translation attempts from the Abraham facsimiles to the kinder hook plates to the Greek psalter all point to a much simpler conclusion than an after the series of supernatural events that Peterson suggests.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    May 3, 2012 2:29 p.m.

    First what are two editions of the same story if not DRAFTS? As for the Book of Abraham there is one very large problem the critics have not yet been abler to answer. IF the few fragments we have today are all that Joseph Smith had how do they account for the claims of contemporary NON-LDS that speak of a great number of records some of which were referred to as large scrolls that can not account for the few fragments that exists today? When Non-LDS say they saw scrolls rolled out and placed under glass that had black and red writing on them we do not find those in the fragments existent today. Now to liken this to the Spaulding manuscript we find NO contemporary record of two manuscripts of the same basic story line but with different names and backgrounds for the people.

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    May 3, 2012 1:18 p.m.

    KC Mormon: Hmmm, I don't recall stating that one was a draft of the other. Authors will commonly write multiple stories simultaneously. I'll admit that this is a stretch as far as the Spalding theory goes, but would you be willing to admit the same stretching of logic pertaining to the theories backing the Abraham papyrus? Or do you allow your faith to trump all reason and logic?

    I'm definitely not married to the Spalding theory, although I find it intriguing. View of the Hebrews, Oliver Cowdery, amateur archaeology, all could have contributed to the authoring of the BoM. Each of these explanations make more sense to me than that of a supernatural origin.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    May 3, 2012 1:13 p.m.

    @Stay the Course,

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

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

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

  • Lakers Sandy, UT
    May 3, 2012 1:11 p.m.

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

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

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

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    May 3, 2012 1:08 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Stay the Course Salt Lake City, utah
    May 3, 2012 12:52 p.m.

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

  • Gramajane OAKLEY, ID
    May 3, 2012 12:49 p.m.

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

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    May 3, 2012 12:38 p.m.

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

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 3, 2012 12:17 p.m.

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

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

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    May 3, 2012 11:41 a.m.

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

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 3, 2012 11:31 a.m.

    Petersen definately jumps to a false conclusion.

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

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

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

  • Kith Huntington Beach, CA
    May 3, 2012 11:17 a.m.

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

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    May 3, 2012 10:39 a.m.

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

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 3, 2012 10:25 a.m.

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

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    May 3, 2012 10:05 a.m.

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

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

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    May 3, 2012 9:32 a.m.

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

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    May 3, 2012 9:14 a.m.

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

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

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

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    May 3, 2012 8:54 a.m.


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

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

  • aaazzz Murray, UT
    May 3, 2012 8:41 a.m.

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

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

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

  • sitichon PROVIDENCE, UT
    May 3, 2012 8:05 a.m.

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

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    May 3, 2012 7:33 a.m.

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

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    May 3, 2012 7:18 a.m.

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