Saturday, October 31, 2020

Record-Keepers in the Book of Mormon - Downloadable Chart

Becca Wilson Jones created the images below and gave permission for all to print, download, use, and share. I have not fully verified what is in the chart, so please do your own research. I merely had a few moments in my day to post it so that I could come back to it later. 

And, so that it might possibly help some who believe the Book of Mormon to be the work of a man and not of God. I simply cannot fathom how Joseph Smith, being so unlettered and unlearned as he was, could produce such a complex work that includes this complicated transfer of record custody across such a long span of time. If I, having a greater secular education than many in his time period could have ever imagined (which isn't saying much for me relative to others in my own time, actually) would have struggled to produce this kind of writing, how, indeed, was he able to do so without help from God?

White Background for Printing


Black Background Option


Saturday, October 3, 2020

What Evidence Exists of the Book of Mormon’s Authenticity?

Here is a super-list of multiple evidences, links to which I’ve gleaned from the excellent EvidenceCentral.org website, that point toward the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. For all the people who've ever asked or will ask me to show them evidence of the Book of Mormon being a true work of scripture and not a fictional story, this list is for you. To criticize the book in an intelligent and thoughtful way, you must first go through the entire list and read and understand everything as if you mean to speak credibly.

If he made it all up, how could Joseph Smith possibly have been so "lucky" to guess all these things so correctly in all of his writing? Especially if much of this scholarship appeared over a century and a half after he translated the Book of Mormon. Indeed, God must have prepared the record for him and at that time to "confound the wise" (or those who think they are wise) as to its true origin.

As always, I emphasize that the ultimate experience of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon is to read it, pray, and ask Heavenly Father whether it is true. If you do so with sincere intent to follow God’s commandments, you will know that it is true. However, if your intent is less than sincere, i.e. to continue to malign Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it will be difficult to hear the Spirit of the Lord speaking the truth to you.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Does DNA evidence directly disprove the Book of Mormon?


In "DNA reveals we are all genetic mutts", David Reich, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, talks about how migration shaped human populations. The TL;DR for people who want to know the "yes" or "no" answer to my post title is: 

"It's complicated."

Read the article.
One question genetics can’t answer, he said in response to an audience question, is exactly how population replacement happened. “In the case of Britain after 6,000 years ago,” he asked, “did new people come in and kill the old ones, or just crowd them out? 
We just don’t know. What genetic data does is provide facts about movements of people and changes in groups. We are not the experts to describe how that happened.” 
One important takeaway from this study, he said, is that humans inherently derive from mixed ancestry.  
“No population is, or ever could be, pure,” he said. “Ancient DNA reveals that the mixing of groups extremely different from each other is a common feature of human nature. We do not live in unusual times; profound events have occurred in our past. We should learn and feel more connected from that.”
I don't feel particularly like going into the details of why people are wrong when they say the Book of Mormon isn't true is because Native American DNA doesn't have any Jewish DNA mixed in. It's all been covered in much better detail and depth elsewhere. So, enjoy the links below.

The Book of Mormon and DNA Studies
Basic principles of population genetics suggest the need for a more careful approach to the data. The conclusions of genetics, like those of any science, are tentative, and much work remains to be done to fully understand the origins of the native populations of the Americas. Nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon peoples, and even if their genetic profile were known, there are sound scientific reasons that it might remain undetected. For these same reasons, arguments that some defenders of the Book of Mormon make based on DNA studies are also speculative. In short, DNA studies cannot be used decisively to either affirm or reject the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans
Our findings reveal that western Eurasian genetic signatures in modern-day Native Americans derive not only from post-Columbian admixture, as commonly thought, but also from a mixed ancestry of the First Americans.
Are all Native Americans descendants of Lehi?
The Book of Mormon itself, however, does not claim that the peoples it describes were either the predominant or the exclusive inhabitants of the lands they occupied. In fact, cultural and demographic clues in its text hint at the presence of other groups. At the April 1929 general conference, President Anthony W. Ivins of the First Presidency cautioned: “We must be careful in the conclusions that we reach. The Book of Mormon … does not tell us that there was no one here before them [the peoples it describes]. It does not tell us that people did not come after. [emphasis added]
DNA and the Book of Mormon
Joseph’s wife Asenath, daughter of Potipherah priest of On, is the ancestral mother of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 46:20). While her genealogy is unknown, there is no reason to believe that her mitochondrial lineage or that of her descendants, including the Lehites, would have matched that of the tribe of Judah. The presence of mtDNA types in Native Americans that do not match those found in modern Jewish groups is fully consistent with both Book of Mormon and Bible accounts. [emphasis added]

Sunday, March 3, 2019

LiDAR Survey Sheds Even More Light on Book of Mormon Authenticity



For decades, critics of the Book of Mormon have made the evidence-free claim that “all” the ruins we could find in Mesoamerica have already been discovered and that nothing resembling a Book of Mormon-like civilization could have existed, does now exist, or would ever be found. Furthermore, the idea of large fortifications and centuries of large-scale warfare just weren’t evident in the archaeological record the way the Book of Mormon says.

National Geographic and the PACUNAM LiDAR Initiative, likely unwittingly, beg to differ with that assessment. 
In February 2018, National Geographic broke the story of the PACUNAM LiDAR Initiative, a sweeping aerial survey of some 800 square miles (2,100 square kilometers) of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in northern Guatemala. Using revolutionary laser technology, the survey revealed the long-hidden ruins of a sprawling pre-Columbian civilization that was far more complex and interconnected than most Maya specialists had supposed.
How very wrong these critics were. We haven’t discovered a tenth of what is yet to be found. And I am confident that, within my lifetime, someone will finally find a written record of something or someone in Mayan history that directly references an event, person, place, or thing from the Book of Mormon.
Archaeologists guided by laser images of a remote region of northern Guatemala have discovered 20-foot-high walls, watchtowers, and other evidence that ancient Maya societies waged large-scale warfare over many years. The finds have upended long-established impressions of a civilization that tamed the jungle and built thriving cities, then declined and disappeared beneath the dense tropical forest.

Among the most startling discoveries was a large fortress complex now called La Cuernavilla. Built on a steep ridge between the Maya cities of El Zotz and Tikal, the heavily fortified site included high walls, moats, watchtowers, and caches of round stones that likely served as ammunition for warriors’ slings. It is the largest defensive system ever discovered in the region, “and possibly in all of the ancient Americas,” says Stephen Houston, a Brown University archaeologist and Maya scholar.

As a side note, I love the symbolic completeness of how these new discoveries are coming to “light”. It’s literally a tightly coherent light from the heavens cutting through the obscurity of the forest canopy and revealing truths hidden underneath. Isn’t that how the truth about God is always obtained? Through revelatory light from Heaven? And could it be that God has just a bit of a sense of humor in how we are coming to these new scientific truths?

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Is the Book of Mormon a Forgery?

One more time for the people in the back with their tar and their feathers.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Book of Mormon's Grammar Isn't So Strange...If You're From the 14th Century!

Something even lifetime Mormons have been aware of with the Book of Mormon is the seemingly awkward phrasing of some passages and sentences of the Book of Mormon. To our modern ears, they don't seem to fit the way people speak or write today.

Critics of the Book of Mormon have long held that the Book of Mormon's phrasing is the simplistic product of Joseph's unlettered mind trying to grasp at the language of the King James Version of the Bible.

But, as it turns out, according to new studies of the language and grammar of the Book of Mormon, the phraseology isn't all that bad. If you lived in the 1500s, it was perfectly natural, in fact.
Several sections of The Nature of the Original Language are dedicated to showing that virtually every expression that scholars and critics have proposed as representing the language of Joseph Smith’s time turns out to have existed in earlier English, including such striking expressions as “to endure the crosses of the world” and “to sing the song of redeeming love.” Some of these, indeed, are truly archaic expressions that died out of English prior to 1600 and that would, accordingly, not have been used by Joseph Smith in his own language. 
Nineteenth-century critics of the Book of Mormon typically mocked what they viewed as the Book of Mormon’s inelegant phraseology. For instance, the Rev. Alexander Campbell, in his blistering 1831 critique of the Book of Mormon, identified 121 of what he derided as “Smithisms.” Yet it turns out that all but one of them occurred in Early Modern English. In fact, some of them actually occurred in the King James Bible, but somehow Campbell, famed as a biblical scholar, failed to recognize them.
In his research, Royal Skousen identified 80 word uses, phrases, and expressions that didn't exist in Joseph Smith's time but were common up to three centuries prior.

So, the Book of Mormon is not a crude copy of the King James Bible language usage after all, as its critics have supposed, but was received in a direct translation using actual 1500s King James English, such as was not spoken in Joseph Smith's time at all. There's simply no other explanation, unless one wants to argue that Joseph was not unlettered, but rather a brilliant linguist who had the only copy of archaic idioms and grammar that other scholars of his time were not aware of.

It's almost as if God is challenging the learned of the world to figure out this mystery of how Joseph Smith got so many things right that people thought were so wrong for so long. The answer, for those who have the eye of faith, is that the Book of Mormon was given by direct revelation in exactly the way God intended it to be delivered.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

More Evidence for Pre-Nephite/Pre-Jaredite American Inhabitants

One of the more aggravating objections to the Book of Mormon that I see from time to time on various online forums is this idea that all original inhabitants of the Americas came from a single source: the Bering Strait. It usually takes the form of a statement like, "there's no evidence that anyone but Asians are the predecessors of Native Americans found when Columbus arrived..." or some such nonsense.

I've already written about this recently, and also earlier, and see also Steve Smoot's excellent DNA and the Book of Mormon article. But here comes yet another bit of scientific discovery that blows this limited and antiquated Beringian population group idea out of the water.

Brazilian rock shelter proves humans inhabited Americas 23,000 years ago

"The “First Americans” are usually believed to be East Asian migrants that crossed the Bering Straits 15,000 years ago, members of the Clovis Culture (a reference to their stone tool technology). A small number of researchers have suggested that an earlier group of migrants, from Europe’s Solutrean culture, arrived in North America a couple of millennia before these Clovis settlers, a hypothesis which was hotly disputed by academics... 
It now appears that researchers favoring both the Clovis and Solutrean models have got it all wrong and supporting the claim of “First Americans” should be given to a mysterious population living in Brazil over 23,000 years ago."

While there is still some reasonable doubt about the Solutrean (European) arrival and whether it was before or after the Beringian/Clovis culture, it's hard to find a way to refute the findings of the Brazilian site.

"Scientists utilized three separate dating methods to investigate samples of charcoal, sediment, and the sloth bones. The revealed dates securely place people at the Santa Elina site well over 23,120 years ago. Humans groups abandoned the site after a short period, but later groups utilized the rock shelter again between 10,120 and 2,000 years ago... 
The new dates from Santa Elina further erode the consensus understanding that the first modern humans reached the Americas by walking across the land bridge between Northeast Asia and North America 15,000 years ago. The rock shelter is thousands of miles from the proposed entry site.  
Not only is Santa Elina located far from even the earliest Clovis sites, it is also over 1,000 miles from the Brazilian coast in a heavily forested region. This seems like an unlikely first point of entry as it is logical to suspect that humans lived initially along the coastline before moving into the Brazilian interior by 23,000 years ago. This would seem to offer further support to claims that modern humans were in Brazil long before even this early period."

Again, what people thought they "knew" for certain is being upended by new findings. This is why when people say to me that there is no proof (such a sloppy word) or evidence (better) that there were Nephites or Lamanites or Jaredites or any connection whatsoever between ancient America and the Middle East, first I tell them all the new stuff we're finding followed by "and wait until you see what else the Lord will eventually reveal."

By faith and also by reason. That is how truth is discovered.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Is Mormonism a CULT?!



So? Is it?!

Well, that all depends on what you mean by "cult".

Jeff Lindsay, a Mormon apologist, put together a tongue-in-cheek website, MormonCult.org, to illustrate this concept. On the site he explains, in the voice of the Mormon church's detractors but while making the opposite argument, that he "pursued the most scholarly, objective approach [he] could take" and that "Mormons are clearly a cult". But the definitions he uses are the original ones right out of the dictionary.

Of course, Lindsay then goes on to explain, again tongue-in-cheek, how silly the new definition is and how it can be used to control peoples' thinking about religious groups that aren't a threat to anyone and just because they're "different".

Another great article about the Mormon church being a "cult" comes from esteemed AmericanTestament.com alumnus Stephen Smoot. He takes aim at a prominent ex-mormon podcasting duo who, under the very protective and controlling auspices of one of today's most prominent ex-mormons, have hurled this accusation at the Church in every episode.

But, as Smoot points out, they cannot or will not see that their own actions have put them and their efforts to discredit the Church squarely in the cross-hairs of that more modern definition of "cult".

So, now that we know that Mormonism is definitely a cult, also originally known as "a system of religious belief and worship", we can dispense with the silly name calling and mudslinging and focus on truth.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

White Native Americans? New DNA Discovery Says "Yes".

When we talk about the Book of Mormon people, we often divide them into two categories: Nephites and Lamanites, with one group being light-skinned and another group being dark-skinned.

Well, it's not that simple, really. But cultural forces inside and outside the LDS church have sort of forced things into these polarizations.

The truth about the racial mix of human populations in reality is quite difficult to divide into two "racial" camps. Tribes and entire peoples intermarry and racial distinctions become hard to distinguish. Ultimately, we're just talking about one race...the human race...and nothing else about them really matters beyond that.

But if we're going to insist on going down this road of "who was white and who was not", we might as well start with a new DNA discovery that portrays the origins of at least some groups of original inhabitants of the American continents as distinctly white.

What scientists found predates even the earliest estimates of the arrival of the Jaredites (the first Book of Mormon people, even if their story appears at the end). 

About 11,500 years ago, just as the last ice age was drawing to a close, a woman gave birth in an Alaskan valley to a child who didn't live very long. She buried the remains next to another likely stillborn child (perhaps a cousin) in a burial pit. Those remains, discovered in 2013, hadn't been able to be fully analyzed until very recently.

Expecting the first child's DNA to come closer to matching modern Native American lineages, they discovered that the genetic markers pointed to a completely different origin. 

Named the "ancient Beringians", this group seems to have come from European groups nearly 20,000 years ago. They had come to Alaska over a frozen land bridge from Europe and Asia and then continued south, likely in a single wave.

Please know that by posting this I'm NOT jumping onto any bandwagons about which races might be superior or pure or chosen or "first" or any of that other nonsense. No way. I'm just interested in the science of migrating people and how that might have looked before, in, and after Book of Mormon times without regard to anyone's preconceived notions about whiteness, brownness, or blackness. 

That is all.

Find out more about this fascinating research at http://www.pnas.org/content/111/48/17060.full.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Was the Book of Mormon Man-Made or God-Given?

Elder Tad R. Callister
Sunday School General President
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
A question I sometimes hear from people is whether the Book of Mormon came from the mind of a man or if it is real scripture from God.

This excellent talk, "The Book of Mormon: Man-Made or God-Given?", by Elder Tad R. Callister of the Sunday School Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will shed more light on this question. In the talk, he explores the many explanations that try to account for how the Book of Mormon came to be. He also addresses the holes in those explanations.

He covers the following proposed explanations:

  1. Joseph Smith, alleged to be an ignorant man, wrote the Book of Mormon
  2. Someone else wrote it
  3. The Book of Mormon was plagiarized from other books
  4. Joseph suffered from a mental illness
  5. Joseph Smith was a creative genius who, shaped by his environment, wrote the Book of Mormon

He also covers the following:

  • Where did Joseph get the doctrine?
  • A parable that counters the arguments proposed by the critics
  • Other evidences that the Book of Mormon is not man-made

Ultimately, though, the truth about scripture comes from the Spirit. As he notes in his conclusion:

If I were to ask my good Christian friends how they unquestionably know the Bible is the word of God, I do not believe they would cite archaeological discoveries or linguistic connections with ancient Hebrew or Greek as their prime evidence; rather, they would make reference to the Spirit. It always comes back to the Spirit. The Spirit that helps me know the Bible is true is the very same Spirit that helps me know the Book of Mormon is true. 
The Spirit is the decisive, determining factor—not archaeology, not linguistics, not DNA, and certainly not the theories of man. The Spirit is the only witness that is sure and certain and infallible.
We can read hundreds of theories and explanations without ever coming to a knowledge of the truth. What will bring us to truth is prayer and faith. Have you prayed to know whether the Book of Mormon is true?