The Mormon Church Conspiracy

The Mormon Church Conspiracy is little known in America.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon

Joseph Smith’s "Book of Mormon"

By Charles L. Wood, Author of "The Mormon Conspiracy."

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Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, was the author of the "Book of Mormon" that he claimed he translated from gold plates that were given to him by the angel Moroni. This translation, according to Smith was accomplished by his use of seer stones with the help of God. Mormon church leaders claim that Smith’s book is true, divine and authentic, the word of God. But is their any evidence to prove this claim?

Moroni was the lone survivor (according to Smith’s alleged translation) of the Nephites Indian tribe that was destroyed by the Lamanites at Hill Cumorah, near Palmyra, New York, in a tremendous battle, during which hundreds of thousands were slain with the sword. (B.O.M. Mormon 6:11,12,13) No artifacts, or any evidence that such a battle took place at this location have ever been found. This is one of the fantasies written in the "Book of Mormon," which the Church Authorities teach as true and authentic history. Smith also portrays the victors to be the ancestors of the American Indians even though there is no archeological or historical evidence that this is true. All scientific information shows the migration of the original American Indians as following a path by way of Siberia, crossing a land bridge which at that time connected to Alaska. The migration occurred not by sea, or from Israel, as claimed by Smith, but from Siberia by way of Alaska down the Pacific coast, filtering toward the East and South on the North American continent and finally through the Isthmus of Panama to South America.

Actually, archaeological studies of the Indians in the Americas have been numerous and fruitful since Smith’s time. Diggings and studies reveal the steady migration of the ancestors of the American Indians coming from China through Siberia over the land bridge into Alaska, and eventual settling throughout North and South America. Fagen estimates that Homo sapiens moved into Siberia [setting the stage for entry into the North American continent] about 35,000-40,000 years ago and were supported by a diversity of game animals, including rhinoceros, musk ox, steppe bison, reindeer and the wild horse. Studies of sites in Siberia, confirms Fagen’s findings. 1 These archaeological studies have also been reinforced by DNA studies of the origin of the American Indian.

That the American Indian is a descendant of the Chinese (as opposed to Joseph Smith’s claim in his "Book of Mormon," that the Indian Lamanites were descendants of the Lost Israel Tribes) is based upon extensive studies of dental morphology of Chinese and Indian burial sites, which show a clear ancestral relationship between the two groups. Further, Fagen shows that geological studies reveal the existence of a “land bridge” between Siberia and Alaska which lasted until about 14,000 years ago. This area and lower coastal areas were obviously settled for many centuries before 14,000 BC, but are impossible to study today as the area is now covered with sea water. 2

The flooding of the Siberian-Alaska land bridge which occurred between 13,000 and 15,000 years ago, forced the migration movement to higher ground. This is evidenced by the studies of sites in Alaska and the Yukon. After this time, humans spread gradually through the Arctic into Greenland, through Alaska, the Yukon and along the Pacific coast to California and eventually throughout North and South America. Indians hunted
bison on the plains of North America for nearly 12,000 years, during which time their customs and hunting techniques changed very little. And they would be doing the same today, if the Europeans had not arrived in the 15th and 16th centuries AD. An article in Discovery Magazine (June 1998) reported that the earliest evidence of human presence in the New World was found in a 12,500-year-old site in Chile called Monte Verde. Due to the length of time it would take for the migration of Siberian hunters to move across the Siberian-Alaskan land bridge to Chile, it was estimated that the Chilean ancestors may have begun their migration into North America at least 22,000 years ago. This is far earlier than Smith’s story shows.

Unfortunately for Joseph Smith and his “assistant” writers, they did not have these data available. Had they had these data they could have prevented the error in the Book of Mormon. Smith’s “Lost tribes of Israel” didn’t arrive as he had written. Any attempt by the Mormon Church to hold that Smith’s book is the truth, is clearly exposed by the archaeological evidence gathered concerning the North and South American Indians.

The Mormon Church has spent large sums of money and expended tremendous efforts to prove the archeological truth of the Book of Mormon. But not one shred of evidence has been found to verify this claim. Thomas Stuart Ferguson, a former defender of the faith, who used large monetary grants in an attempt to prove the truth of Joseph Smith’s hoax, became disillusioned in his efforts. Tanner and Tanner write: ... “that he (Ferguson) had come to the conclusion that Joseph Smith was not a prophet and that Mormonism was not true. He told us that he had spent 25 years trying to prove Mormonism, [through archeological research] but had finally come to the conclusion that his work in this regard had been in vain. He said that his training in law had taught him how to weigh evidence and that the case against Joseph Smith was absolutely devastating and could not be explained away.” 3

Even the current Mormon Church president Gordon B. Hinckley may have misgivings about some of Joseph Smith’s teachings. In a recent newspaper interview concerning Joseph Smith’s revelations and visions, Hinckley said “Revelation no longer comes by vision, but in the ‘still, small voice,’ like that heard by Elijah. Let me say first that we have a great body of revelation, the vast majority of which came from the prophet Joseph Smith We don’t need much revelation. ...Now, if a problem should arise on which we don’t have an answer, we pray about it, we may fast about it, and it comes. Quietly. Usually no voice of any kind, but just a perception in the mind.” (Interview with President Gordon B. Hinckley, as published on the Web site of the San Francisco Chronicle, April 13, 1997.) Are Mormon leaders beginning to doubt the authenticity of Joseph Smith’s writings? Smith had written many revelations and visions that he said he received from God. These revelations and visions include Smith being led to the gold plates as well as boldly announcing many revelations which he received from God including approval for himself and others to practice polygamy, organizational procedures for the LDS church, tithing, and the ordering of Martin Harris to pay for the publication of the "Book of Mormon." Were Joseph Smith’s writings not really divine in nature as President Hinckley said in his descriptions of visions and revelations: “Usually no voice of any kind, but just a perception in the mind?”

The Mormons are taught by the church authorities to believe that the "Book of Mormon" is incontrovertible, not to be proven by review of scientific or historical facts, but by asking God if the book is true. He will tell you
by “divine” means that it is the truth. However any measurement of its truth by historical and scientific means, provides no evidence of its truthfulness. The heart provides a person with the means to inform one of the truth of the book. In other words, if one wants to believe it is true this provides you with the means to do so. ( I remember my first encounter in an attempt to convert me to the Mormon Church. The Mormon missionaries and others present were trying to convince me that the "Book of Mormon" was true. My thought at the time that the continual saying-- “yes it is true, yes it is true,” was showing me that there was doubt in their minds that it really was true.)

How was Joseph to know that his main theme, the migration of the Hebrew Tribes from Israel to the Americas would later prove to be false as scientific archaeological inquiry has done as modern civilization poured across the Americas? After all, this theory of the Hebrew Tribes’ migration was accepted throughout the western world in Smith’s time. And how easy it was for Smith to use his newly discovered weapon of his revelation to get people to do as he wished. All he had to do was tell Martin Harris that he had received a revelation from God telling him that he must sell his farm to pay for the publication of the "Book of Mormon" or he would die. It was easy for him to tell his family and friends about his visions of God’s leading him to the gold plates and to tell them that by the use of magical stones furnished with the plates, he was able to translate the reformed Egyptian letters into the "Book of Mormon." (Smith should have said he translated from Hebrew since he claimed the characters in his book emigrated from Israel.) They believed him!! Joseph Smith must have thought: “Look at the power and influence that I have over people. They believe that I communicate with God and that he communicates with me. I can use this great new power to influence people to follow me!! I will be the prophet!!”

No doubt Smith had misgivings about how to use this new-found power. And history of the Mormon Church shows the dangerous, sometimes disastrous and always uncomfortable path that Joseph was leading his members into. But by using his knowledge of Masonic Lodge ritual and his own imagination, he was always able to keep the interest and enthusiasm of his followers. As long as he claimed that he was working as a servant of God, he was able to maintain and increase his membership. And for most of the followers, what Joseph said or told them to do was the word of God and should be accepted and followed and never questioned.

It is important to consider the condition of life for the New England people during the time of Joseph Smith as this provided the mechanism for the invention of a new religion. The economic existence for the vast majority of inhabitants was obtained by tilling the land that was rocky, infertile and hilly. It was, to say the least, a very rigorous life with little opportunity for improvement of one’s place in life. Life expectancy was very short, with a high mortality rate of infants and children. In short, the people were ripe for accepting a religion that promised them eternal life in a blissful and harmonious “after-earth-life” that would include family members who had died at a young age. In many cases, parents were fearful to become too attached to their children since death might take them away. Because of this constant threat of death, the development of a religion that promised eternal life would thrive. The religion would flourish especially if its inventor was a leader with charisma, intensity, great imagination, intelligence and hypnotic skill in controlling his followers as was Joseph Smith. He was the one who could build and develop his religion by convincing the Saints that with faith in God and by following his commandments, death on earth would be followed by eternal life in Heaven. Not only was this written in the "Book of Mormon," but Smith’s remarkable imagination used in his sermons, writings, and the construction of his beautifully designed temples, gave his Saints a glimpse of what life might be like in Heaven. The white veil, elaborate fixtures and the luxurious decor of the numerous Mormon temples certainly emerged from the fanciful and dreamy mind of Joseph Smith. The temple indeed represented Smith’s Heaven on earth.

Even though it is often agreed (even by many Mormons) that the "Book of Mormon" is not authentic, most of the faithful have been taught to want to believe it anyway. A large number accept it because the authorities say it is so, and a Mormon in good standing never questions the authority of the priesthood or what their Authorities say. A pious Mormon never questions his faith, at least not publicly, unless he or she wants to be excommunicated from the church. That the Book of Mormon is not authentic, one has only to know that there is no archaeological evidence whatsoever that it is true. For example, in Smith’s account of the lost tribes of Israel in America, it is written that horses, oxen and cows were present, but all archaeological evidence shows that they were not present during this period of history in the Americas.

Not only does Smith’s "Book of Mormon" describe oxen and cows that were not in America at the time, but he claims that the ancestors of Indian tribes, the Lamanites came from Israel. (Note: Nephites are not considered to have been “Indians,” because they were white. The dark skin of Lamanities came as a result of God’s curse.) Smith thought that he was “safe” in this fraud, since the common thinking at the time he wrote his book was that the Indians were descendants of the “Lost Tribes of Israel.” Archaeological studies of the Indians at that time were nearly non-existent.

And where are the cities that were developed in America by these “Lost Tribes, and the remains of the hundreds of thousands killed on Hill Cumorah ? (SeeBoM, Mormon 6, p 469) And sailing of the “Lost Tribes” thousands of miles from Israel by wooden submarines is illogical.

Fawn Brodie and B. H. Roberts have provided evidence that Joseph Smith had access to many books and other writings. These, and the beliefs of the people of his time, gave Smith the ideas and material for his book.
One such book, as related to before, was Ethan Smith’s "View of The Hebrews," which was written five to seven years before the Book of Mormon. A summary of Ethan Smith’s book appeared in the local newspaper Subscribed to by the Smith family. This book was written within fifty miles of the Smith home and was known
to be readily available in the area. Ethan Smith’s novel theorized (as did the "Book of Mormon") that the Indians were descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, an idea that was popular at this time in American History. 4 As
more archeological and DNA evidence and scientific study was completed on the origins of the American Indians, this idea was proven to be false.

B. H. Roberts in his studies of the Book of Mormon “presents an intense and probing evaluation of the possibility that Ethan Smith’s "View of the Hebrews" furnished a partial framework for Joseph Smith’s written composition, that the Mormon prophet had the intellectual capacity and imagination necessary to conceive and write the Book of Mormon and that internal contradictions and other defects added further evidence that it might not be of divine origin. 5

“...during the winter of 1922, B. H. Roberts continued his search for possible explanations as to the origin of the Mormon scripture and seized the opportunities presented by his mission presidency in New England to examine early literature that could have been available to Joseph Smith during the time the Book of Mormon was being produced. His surprising conclusion was that the View of the Hebrews.....predated the writing of the Book of Mormon and could have furnished the ‘ground plan’ for Joseph Smith’s authorship.” 6

Roberts made an intensive study of passages from the "View of the Hebrews" and compared it with similar material found in the "Book of Mormon" and concluded that Ethan Smith’s book may “well have furnished structural outlines” for Joseph Smith’s book, and he further concluded that Joseph Smith had creative and imaginative abilities sufficient to accomplish the writing of his book, using Ethan Smith’s book as an outline. 7
Furthermore, since the prevailing feeling among the people at this time was that the Indians were descendants of the Israelites, Joseph Smith felt secure that time would not dispute the authenticity of his book, and that he could indeed “get by” with his hoax that he had translated them from the golden plates given to him by the angel Moroni. The feeling that he was “safe” in his portrayal of the golden plates idea was also reinforced by his own family and close associates who believed young Joseph. Family members enjoyed Joseph’s fantastic stories of Indians in America, their glittering cities, and his account of their immigration from Israel. This and the unfailing support of his mother Lucy, his father Joseph Sr., and his brother Hyrum gave him great confidence that his hoax would succeed.

In short, the evidence is clear that the "Book of Mormon" was not translated from golden plates using a seer stone, as described by Smith, but was the product of his boyhood and family experiences, his awareness of common thinking in the area, his extensive knowledge of the Bible, and his knowledge of the Spaulding manuscript, which provided a nonreligious story as a basis for his novel. And as stated previously, Smith was aware of Ethan Smith’s "View of the Hebrews," which gave him many of the ideas for his book. Joseph Smith was surprised that he was able to influence people so easily and could use this ability to get people to accept his “revelations as from God. He invented a religion, developed an organization for it and had a great persuasive ability which enticed people to follow his doctrine. He was no doubt the best missionary that the Mormon Church ever had and singularly did more than any other person to provide the church with a sizable membership foundation as well as to insure that the church would grow and thrive by his development of the missionary organization and the priesthood. His later organization of the family visitation system insured a low dropout rate of members.

Scott further emphasizes that the "Book of Mormon" is a hoax. “Why can’t the Mormons own up that the "Book of Mormon" is a fraud? If any reader be still in doubt, let him send a letter to the Smithsonian Institute with the question, ‘Is the Book of Mormon confirmed by archaeological evidence?’ You will receive a mimeographed letter that states, in essence, that the historical picture painted by the Mormon epic is totally unlike the world of ancient Americas as they have found it in extensive excavations. Mormons have in the past claimed that many other records or inscriptions “proved” the "Book of Mormon." Among these records were the Bat Creek Stone, the Kinderhook plates, the Newark Stones and the ‘Phoenician Ten Commandments’ (found in Los Lunas, New Mexico). All were highly touted, but all were forgeries. Why not place the Book of Mormon with them?” 8

That the writings of Joseph Smith are generally frauds and not based upon any divinity as claimed by Mormon leaders is further emphasized by Scott, who writes: “I examined the life of Joseph Smith and found him to be the antithesis of all that Mormons claim he was. Not only was his account of the First Vision unlikely and out of harmony with God’s word, he himself couldn’t relate the stories the same way from one telling to another. Because of reckless merchandising of men’s souls, the legacy he left his people has been of persecution, broken promises, and a rash of unfulfilled prophecies. "The Book of Mormon" too, has done more harm to the Mormon people than good. ...the "Book of Mormon" stands unaccompanied by even a single non-Mormon archaeological advocate.” 9

1 Brian M. Fagan, The Archaeology of a Continent , (London: Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1995), 67

2 Ibid., 70-71

3 Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Ferguson’s Manuscript Unveiled, (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, (Introduction), 3

4 Ethan Smith, View of the Hebrews

5 B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1992), 30

6 Ibid., 149

7 Ibid., 154-155

8 Laytayne Colvett Scott, The Mormon Mirage, 85

9 Ibid., 231-232