One of the most deceptive things about the church is the Book of Mormon. Without the Book of Mormon, there would be no "Mormon" church. Joseph Smith would have had little or no base for his claims of restoration. It sounds Christian. It sounds similar to the Bible, just with a bit more story line and some pretty epic battles. There's really not any new teachings in the BoM, so its very easy for someone with a Christian background to accept it.
I remember when I first left the church. My grandma called me at 10:00pm on a school night as soon as she found out, unable to wait to call me after school the next day. "But what about the Book of Mormon?" she asked me. "Don't you believe its true?" She was flabbergasted when my answer was no. "But what about chiasmus?" she asked.
Chiasmus (k-eye-as-muss) is a poetical form of writing used in Israel in the same time period at which the Book of Mormon has Nephi and his family leaving Jerusalem. Because of this, the church, through BYU, touts that this is proof that the Book of Mormon really is an authentic historical document. They really don't have much more going for them, so they grasp at anything they can get.
However, this is a pretty weak "proof." Doctrine and Covenants (written or dictated primarily by Joseph Smith) and the Book of Abraham (which supposedly dates from a couple thousand years before chiasmus) both contain this poetical form of writing. So does the Bible, which Joseph Smith read regularly.
On the other hand, there is plenty against the Book of Mormon, the most telling of which is DNA.
The introduction to the Book of Mormon states "After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians." This is actually a new phrasing. Book of Mormon introductions from only a few years ago say that the Lamanites are THE principle ancestors of the Book of Mormon. The teaching that they were principle ancestors instead of just among the ancestors of the American Indians comes from Joseph Smith himself.
"Mormon 1:7 The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea."
It stands to reason that a civilization that large would both leave behind much evidence of its existence and would leave a DNA imprint on their descendants. Quite simply, neither exist. DNA and anthropology show that Native Americans are Mongolian in origin and there is almost no DNA relating to the Middle East that would show any civilization of Middle Eastern origin contributing to the DNA pool. I believe there's only .02% that could be related to the Middle East, and its not exclusively from there--its also in Asia and Africa.
Video: DNA vs. The Book of Mormon
Quite simply, there is no evidence supporting the Book of Mormon being placed in the real world, more or less the Americas. Linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, DNA, architecture, even the timeline of the existing cultures, are all contrary to the Book of Mormon account.
In fact, here is the letter that Charles Anton wrote to address the claims that he'd agreed that the characters of Reformed Egyptian showed to him by Martin Harris were real:
New York, Feb. 17, 1834.
Dear Sir -- I received this morning your favor of the 9th instant,
and lose no time in making a reply. The whole story about my
having pronouncd the Mormonite inscription to be "reformed
Egyptian hieroglyphics" is perfectly false. Some years ago, a plain,
and apparently simple-hearted farmer, called upon me with a note
from Dr. Mitchell of our city, now deceased, requesting me to
decypher, if possible, a paper, which the farmer would hand me,
and which Dr. M. confessed he had been unable to understand.
Upon examining the paper in question, I soon came to the
conclusion that it was all a trick, perhaps a hoax.
When I asked the person, who brought it, how he obtained the
writing, he gave me, as far as I can now recollect, the following
account: A "gold book," consisting of a number of plates of gold,
fastened together in the shape of a book by wires of the same
metal, had been dug up in the northern part of the state of New
York, and along with the book an enormous pair of "gold
spectacles"! These spectacles were so large, that, if a person
attempted to look through them, his two eyes would have to be
turned towards one of the glasses merely, the spectacles in
question being altogether too large for the breadth of the human
face. Whoever examined the plates through the spectacles, was
enabled not only to read them, but fully to understand their
meaning. All this knowledge, however, was confined at that time
to a young man, who had the trunk containing the book and
spectacles in his sole possession. This young man was placed
behind a curtain, in the garret of a farm house, and being thus concealed from view, put on the spectacles
occasionally, or rather, looked through one of the glasses,
decyphered the characters in the book, and, having committed
some of them to paper, handed copies from behind the curtain, to
those who stood on the outside. Not a word, however, was said
about the plates having been decyphered "by the gift of God."
Everything, in this way, was effected by the large pair of
spectacles. The farmer added, that he had been requested to
contribute a sum of money towards the publication of the "golden
book," the contents of which would, as he had been assured,
produce an entire change in the world and save it from ruin. So
urgent had been these solicitations, that he intended selling his
farm and handing over the amount received to those who wished
to publish the plates. As a last precautionary step, however, he
had resolved to come to New York, and obtain the opinion of the
learned about the meaning of the paper which he brought with him,
and which had been given him as a part of the contents of the
book, although no translation had been furnished at the time by
the young man with the spectacles.
On hearing this odd story, I changed my opinion about the paper,
and, instead of viewing it any longer as a hoax upon the learned,
I began to regard it as part of a scheme to cheat the farmer of his
money, and I communicated my suspicions to him, warning him to
beware of rogues. He requested an opinion from me in writing,
which of course I declined giving, and he then took his leave
carrying the paper with him. This paper was in fact a singular
scrawl. It consisted of all kinds of crooked characters disposed in
columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who
had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets.
Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters
inverted or placed sideways, were arranged in perpendicular
columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle divided into
various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and
evidently copied after the Mexican Calender given by Humboldt,
but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it
was derived. I am thus particular as to the contents of the paper,
inasmuch as I have frequently conversed with my friends of the
subject, since the Mormonite excitement began, and well remember
that the paper contained any thing else but "Egyptian
Some time after, the same farmer paid me a second visit. He
brought with him the golden book in print, and offered it to me for
sale. I declined purchasing. He then asked permission to leave the
book with me for examination. I declined receiving it, although his
manner was strangely urgent. I adverted once more to the roguery
which had been in my opinion practised upon him, and asked him
what had become of the gold plates. He informed me that they
were in a trunk with the large pair of spectacles. I advised him to
go to a magistrate and have the trunk examined. He said the
"curse of God" would come upon him should he do this. On my
pressing him, however, to pursue the course which I had
recommended, he told me that he would open the trunk, if I would
take the "curse of God" upon myself. I replied that I would do so
with the greatest willingness, and would incur every risk of that
nature, provided I could only extricate him from the grasp of
rogues. He then left me.
I have thus given you a full statement of all that I know respecting
the origin of Mormonism, and must beg you, as a personal favor,
to publish this letter immediately, should you find my name
mentioned again by these wretched fanatics.
Yours respectfully, CHAS. ANTHON.
The evidence against the Book of Mormon mounts.
On the other hand is the amazing evidence in favor of the Bible. There's always going to be someone who will find some argument against it, but the fact is that the manuscript evidence and the real settings, to such an extent that the Bible has been used to find lost cities, is amazing. The Dead Sea Scrolls prove the accuracy of our current Old Testament. There are thousands of very ancient copies of the New Testament. And yet, Joseph Smith "retranslated" basically all of the Bible, even the parts that can be proven to be intact from before the supposed "great apostacy."
The LDS claim that the Bible has been mistranslated to such an extent that all the most important things are lost is quite simply wrong.
I would recommend "The Case for Christ" video with Lee Strobel.
Also, The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon:
Its been amazing to know that, as long as I trust God, I can also trust the Bible.