Mormonism Dies With the Credibility of its One and Only Source

Posted: April 12, 2020 in Book of Mormon, Brian Horner, Mormon Studies

by Brian Horner
We Learn by Contrast
The Bible is not a Book; the Bible is a library. It contains 66 different books written by 40 authors spread out over four empires (Israelite, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Roman) over a period of somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 years. It was written in three different languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic) on three different continents (Africa, Southwest Asia, and Europe). The evidence of the multi-sourced nature of the Bible is indisputable. No serious scholar, believer or critic, doubts these basic facts.

By contrast the entire Book of Mormon (BoM), in fact, every single distinguishing aspect of the Mormon religion, is conclusively traceable in its origin to only ONE source, one man – Joseph Smith, writing in the 1820s in the Western New York frontier.

Mormons will argue that the Book of Mormon is like the Bible – a collection of books, written by different authors. But that claim is unsupportable. There is no evidence that any of the BoM’s alleged authors or even their whole civilizations ever even existed.

On this point, the contrast with the Bible is as clear as it is important. There is no dispute anywhere in proper scholarship (i.e. anything more substantive than rants by virtually anonymous, self-appointed, never-published, non-peer-reviewed internet “experts”) about the fact that the history of the human civilizations described in the Bible follow the basic trajectory of the historical trajectory of the Bible. The Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian and Roman empires really did exist right where and when the Bible describes them. Israel actually existed precisely where and when the Bible says it did. The existence of dozens upon dozens of individual characters on the Bible’s pages has been confirmed along with countless numbers of details about their lives. These facts are established as objective truth with or without the Bible. In other words, we have what historians call “multiple, independent attestation” backing up much of what the Bible says are actual people living in real locations and experiencing true events. If we did not have the Bible –if the Bible never even existed– we would still have multiple, independent accounts of many of its events, even up to and including the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Christian Church.

Now, By Contrast…
No one has ever positively identified where or exactly when anything recorded in the Book of Mormon supposedly happened. Mormons cannot even conclusively identify or even agree on which of the American continents (North or South) to look for any such evidence. There is precisely zero evidence that any person in the BoM’s New World narrative ever even existed. We have exactly no evidence of any of the BoM’s 100 named western hemisphere cities. There is no evidence of the BoM’s massive wars of extinction ever actually occurring. And while the Bible’s original languages are massively well attested and nowhere ever even disputed, the simple fact is, we have no evidence or any reason whatsoever to think that Joseph Smith’s “Reformed Egyptian” ever even existed. As with ALL things Mormon, there is but one, single sole source for the original claims for its existence: one man. Joseph Smith.

The single-source nature of the Book of Mormon and for the entire Mormon religion is entirely consistent with the explanation that Joseph Smith, alone or with conspirators, faked the whole thing.

If Smith lied about the Book of Mormon, we rightly expect that there would be no evidence for the simple existence of the BoMs various human civilizations. There is no such evidence.

If Smith lied, we rightly expect that there would be no evidence that any of the named “Jaredites”, “Nephites”, “Mulekites”, or, in the goofy words of Smith himself, “all manner of ‘ites'” named in the BoM. There is no such evidence.

If Smith lied we should find precisely zero evidence of any of the historically significant events described in the BoM, such as the extermination of the massive “Nephite” civilization. No one has ever found any such evidence.

If Smith lied, we should never find any evidence of Joseph Smith’s “Reformed Egyptian” language. There is no evidence of any kind to suggest such a text type ever existed.

If Smith lied, we should expect to see a pattern of similar lies throughout his life, beginning before his self-appointment as a supposed, “prophet”. There is plenty of evidence of this, from the testimony of his own mother to his wild imagination to the affidavits of his neighbors and the victims of his scams to his conviction for crimes generally lumped today under the legal heading of fraud.

If Smith lied, we should be able to find similar kinds of speculations about the history of Native America that preceded Smith and from which he could have “borrowed” to create the BoM. We do. Spaulding, Adair, Ethan Smith and many others had been writing similar stories beginning over 100 years before Smith was even born. And the King James translation of the Bible actually appears, quoted verbatim, and anachronistically in many places throughout the BoM.

In other words, the state of the evidence has always been and continues to be entirely consistent with the explanation that Joseph Smith was a lying fraud who faked his alleged, “revelations from God” or that he was delusional and actually believed his own psychotic episodes. The one explanation that none of the evidence supports is the notion that Smith was telling the truth.

Facts Not Feelings
It matters not a wit whether you believe it or how you may feel about it. Truth is based on facts and the fact is, the BoM and therefore the Mormon religion of which it is, in the words of Joseph Smith, the “keystone” has only one positively identified source in all of known human history. And the only solid evidence we do have shows that Mr. Smith copied parts of the King James Bible and the fictional works and speculations of other men (Spaulding, Adair, et al) and mixed them together with the figments of his own fevered and legendary imagination to produce one of the greatest hoaxes in human history.

With the failure of the one and only, single sole source for the Book of Mormon (and all of Mormonism, for that matter) the religion of Mormonism itself dies a merciless death – splattered asunder on the harsh rocks of observable reality, the very rocks upon which Mormonism hurls itself when it requests your investment in its credibility.

“The Bible and the Book of Mormon Testify That Jesus Christ Is the Savior of the World”
by Greg Olsen (1959– ). Only one of these two books is attested to by verifiable facts.

 

Comments
  1. Shane Roe says:

    I really enjoyed this article. It was clear and right on the money.

    Like

  2. Jared Frei says:

    Your critique of the BOM is spot on, but unfortunately the Bible suffers from many of the same problems as the BOM. Yes, the Bible has a concrete, historical setting, but many of the events are unsupported or contradicted by science (Garden of Eden, Jewish captivity in Egypt and the exodus, universal flood, tower of babel, etc.), and many of the books were written pseudonymously, just like the BOM. The New Testament books were written 30-60 years after Christ, by not a single person that ever knew Christ, hence the numerous factual and theological contradictions in the Bible. I’m disheartened that there is not a robust source for Christian doctrine.

    Like

    • @Jared Frei wrote, “Your critique of the BOM is spot on, but unfortunately the Bible suffers from many of the same problems as the BOM. Yes, the Bible has a concrete, historical setting, but many of the events are unsupported or contradicted by science (Garden of Eden…”

      And yet DNA evidence has human migration from a single source: The Middle East. Further, the geology of the region shows dramatic climate change over time that doesn’t preclude the possibility of a Garden of Eden type condition in the Middle East. It’s an interesting topic and one where the evidence is still unfolding and deepening.

      “Jewish captivity in Egypt and the exodus…”

      If you accept the opinions of Biblical minimalists in Science, World History, and Archaeology, yes. If you accept the opinions of Biblical maximalists, no.

      I would you encourage you to consider, for example, the evidence that Dave Rohr, an Athiest, and others present in this documentary: https://patternsofevidence.com/exodus-film/

      The jury is hardly in here. Healthy and rigorous debate and discussion continues.

      “… universal flood…”

      Not all Bible-believing Jews and Christians believe in a universal or global flood of Noah. There is no requirement to do so and the language of the text allows for a regional flood interpretation of the text as well.

      Universal?
      Regional?

      Meh! Who cares?

      Not a show stopper either way. People can and will disagree on the flood of Noah and that’s OK.

      That is unless you’re coming from the Mormon worldview where a universal flood is required to support Mormon baptism by immersion dogma – baptism by immersion, by the way, is NOT an essential doctrine of the Christian faith. People can and will legitimately disagree.

      “…tower of babel, etc.)…”

      Again, not all Bible-believing Jews and Christian interpret the Tower of Babel literally neither the text or the story of redemption in the Bible requires a literal reading. Again, I know that a literal reading is Mormon dogma, however, outside of Mormonism, it’s not.

      “…and many of the books were written pseudonymously, just like the BOM…”

      Maybe, maybe not.

      Again, healthy and rigorous debate and discussion on this issue continues as well.

      “The New Testament books were written 30-60 years after Christ…”

      See above. Again, this is NOT a fait accompli, there is a range of opinion and debate on the dating of the biblical books.

      “…by not a single person that ever knew Christ…”

      This claim has pretty much been discredited by Richard Baucham’s research which was published in his watershed book, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” a few years ago. I encourage you to read it: https://smile.amazon.com/Jesus-Eyewitnesses-Gospels-Eyewitness-Testimony-ebook/dp/B00EP9MRK8

      This video interview with Mr. Baucham will also give you a good overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL01T4mVBf8

      “… hence the numerous factual and theological contradictions in the Bible.”

      And see above. If you accept the minimalist perspective, yes. If you don’t, no. The debate on this point is extremely rich and I encourage you to consider both sides, not just one.

      “I’m disheartened that there is not a robust source for Christian doctrine.”

      And I’m disheartened when I hear arguments like these – which, BTW, I used when I was an Atheist too – that are unnuanced and appear to have only considered one side of the debate.

      Again, I encourage you to consider ALL sides before throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

      Thank you for your thoughts, I hope that you will find at least some of mine of some value as well.

      Like

  3. Barnard Dalton says:

    >Your critique of the BOM is spot on, but unfortunately the Bible suffers from many of the same problems as the BOM. Yes, the Bible has a concrete, historical setting, but many of the events are unsupported or contradicted by science (Garden of Eden, Jewish captivity in Egypt and the exodus, universal flood, tower of babel, etc.),and many of the books were written pseudonymously, just like the BOM.The New Testament books were written 30-60 years after Christ,by not a single person that ever knew Christ, hence the numerous factual and theological contradictions in the Bible. I’m disheartened that there is not a robust source for Christian doctrine.<

    First, you are simply wrong. The Apostle John knew Jesus personally. The other gospels were written under the guidance of other apostles (Mark, for example wrote under Peter's guidance, Luke under Paul). Finally, the "theological contradictions" you mention are invariably a matter of interpretation, not "fact".

    But …returning to the actual subject at hand, EVEN IF, the entire Bible was a total hoax invented by Christopher Columbus in 1492 when he sailed the ocean blue …that STILL would provide exactly ZERO reason to think that the Mormon religion is any less of a hoax than the Bible. In fact, it would take the BoM from zero to sub-zero, since so much of Mormonism was clearly copied from the Bible.

    Like

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