About Me

My photo
I'm a Christian, married to a wonderful man, Steven, and mother to a wonderful little son. I have many interests and a few noteworthy journeys in life and I enjoy sharing them.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Is the Book of Mormon Historical?

For great movies that answers this question, I would recommend going to YouTube and searching "The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon" and "DNA vs. The Book of Mormon."

The two books are represented as comparable historically and scripturally.


The Book of Mormon presents itself as the scriptures and history of a real historical people who lived in the Americas. The introduction at the Beginning of the Book of Mormon states, "The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants o the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel."

According to the Book of Mormon, the inhabitants of the Americas came via ship from the Middle East. There are no records of these people coming across any other people groups, and records that "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." (Mormon 1:7) God also promised "that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves." The introduction to the Book of Mormon (except in newest copies, which have been changed very recently) states the the Lamanites are the principle ancestors of the Native Americans. Many prophets and church leaders, including and particularly Joseph Smith, have held and taught this view.

The Hill Cumorah. If such a large battle happened near here, why has it not been excavated to prove it?

Yet we quickly come across problems with this. First of all, even relatively small people-groups and battles leave very clear traces for archaeology to find. Yet there has been no trace that can be definitively linked to the people the Book of Mormon describes. Here are some archaeological problems to consider:

  • Complete lack of any metal-working sites, especially for smelting (which are very distinctive) (1 Nephi 18:25, 19:1, 2 Nephi 5:15, Jacob 2:12, Ether 10:23, Jarom 1:8)
  • Lack of existence of some plants and animals described in the Book of Mormon in the correct time period, e.g. horses, elephants, oxes, goats, cattle, wheat, and barley.
  • No ancient cities corresponding to Book of Mormon cities.
  • Lack of languages such as Hebrew or anything that could be called "reformed Egyptian." (Mormon 9:32)
  • Complete lack of coinage found. (Alma 11) (Coins are usually one of the things most easily found in archaeology, if coins exist in a culture.)
  • Inability to lock down the location of the Book of Mormon.
  • Complete lack of any written evidence of the Nephites or Lamanites, despite the Book of Mormon stating that there was much writing and keeping of records in their culture.
  • No battle sites matching Book of Mormon battles found, despite the epic size of some battles described.

In fact, the lack of evidence is so thorough that even the Smithsonian Institute has issued a statement that they have not used the Book of Mormon as an archaeological tool and that there seems to be no correspondence between the Book of Mormon and the history of the Americas.

Native Americans are not of Middle Eastern descent.

More than that, there are major issues with the idea that the Native Americans are descended from people from the Middle East. I am no DNA expert, but those who are agree that Native Americans are of Asiatic descent. This is also supported by anthropology. Native Americans even look Asian. Some apologists have tried to claim that there were pre-existing Asiatic groups in the Americas that the Nephites and Lamanites intermarried with, significantly diluting the Middle Eastern DNA, but this is highly unlikely for a few reasons. First is statements from the Book of Mormon itself, as I already said above--no other people groups not from the Middle East were mentioned, and the statements within the Book of Mormon make it clear that the Nephites and Lamanites and their culture became numerous and widespread. Not only that, but it would be unlikely that their religion would have stayed intact for so long if such relatively small families and groups melded with a larger people group. It is certainly nearly impossible that their religion and enmities would have overwhelmed the existing religion and politics.

There are also many anachronisms in the Book of Mormon. For instance, the Book of Mormon describes a temple being built shortly after arriving in the promised land, and Nephi consecrated his younger brothers as priests (2 Nephi 5:16, 26), but Nephi's family was no descended from the tribe of Levi or the line of Aaron, which means that none of them could have or should have been priests.

There are many anachronisms to consider:
  • Baptism did not exist until early Christianity, yet was used a few hundred years B.C. in the Book of Mormon
  • Quoting of scriptures that weren't written until after Book of Mormon times (and which were written after they supposedly crossed the sea, which would beg the question of how those quotes would have gotten there anyways)
  • Plants and animals that did not exist in America at that time period
  • Technology that did not exist in the Americas in that time, such as steel, chariots, metal armor, and metal-working in general
  • The use of the word "cimiter" almost a dozen times, as that word didn't exist in Hebrew until a few hundred years after Lehi's family left Jerusalem
  • The use of the words "Christ" and "Messiah" at the wrong time periods

There are more, but this is a good list to consider.

The religions of the Americas have little in common with the religion of the people of Israel.

Based on all this, its extremely difficult to consider the Book of Mormon to be historical. God doesn't want us to have blind faith. We see with the Bible that more and more evidence that shows its historicity and truth of the events recorded has been coming forth through archaeology. Sure there are criticisms of some things, such as the idea that the world is only 6,000 years old, but when the Bible starts actively recording events and people and places happening near the time it was written down, its extremely and surprisingly accurate. We can go to Jerusalem, Jericho, Babylon, Ur, Bethesda, Bethlehem, and the Temple Mount. We can see the seas and rivers. The animals and foods described either still exist or can be shown to have existed at that time in those places.We can read ancient texts of the book of the Bible.

We can visit ancient Biblical sites, which even go by the same names today.

We can even find extra-Biblical proof that Jesus lived at the correct time period and died on a cross.

None of that evidence makes faith less important. It simply strengthens the faith and shows us that we are not basing our faith in something blindly and without meaning. We still can't see God. We still haven't met Christ ourselves. We still have to accept on faith that what Christ did in history affects us spiritually, for our eternal salvation.

Is your faith based on something historically true?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bad Feelings are From Satan...Right?

Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions.[2] Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance)

When I was Mormon, I remember having the impression, strongly enforced by what was taught in class, that things that weren't pro-Mormon were of Satan and that's why bad feelings come from them. There's also the idea that things from Satan cause uncomfortable feelings, and while we all know intellectually that that's not always true, it was generally assumed that good feelings about something were from the Spirit, and bad feelings were from Satan.

However, to lump subjective feelings into these categories is to lay a trap for oneself. Good things don't always feel good--no one feels excited or completely warm and fuzzy going into surgery, even if they have peace in knowing that its necessary and assurance that they should come out in better health when all is said and done. This goes the same for beliefs. The existence of evil doesn't make anyone feel happy, but that doesn't mean that it isn't true just because we don't like it. For a Christian, the idea of people going to hell doesn't make us feel great, but that doesn't make the belief untrue. (An atheist or a skeptic might argue that the belief isn't true, but they don't generally use feelings as their primary validation.)

Sometimes, we learn truth accompanied by confusion and discomfort. If I thought one thing, and then was told something else was true, I'm not really going to feel comfortable in learning I might have been wrong. I can then either accept the new information, or reject it, and I can base that decision off of a few things. I can either approach it with logic, reason, and an open mind, looking for the objective truth supported by whatever facts or understanding is available. Or, I can accept the belief most comfortable to me and rationalize it if it is the incorrect belief.

This stands true for researching faith, as well. The ability to question is inherent to our nature, and there is no reason a loving God would deny us use of that ability. That is what a tyrant does. Truth will stand up to questioning, and whether or not we find truth is up to us and how we choose to question, how we choose to perceive what we have learned, and how we choose to find the knowledge. Some sources are biased--the Catholic church probably isn't going to talk to loudly about their shortcomings for instance. Muslim  fundamentalists aren't going to admit that what they do destroys innocent lives. Fundamentalist Mormons aren't going to readily jump to admitting to the many kinds of abuse that religious polygamy fosters. And the Mormon church isn't going to admit to shady history or questionable doctrines and prophecies.

That's not to say that all sources are biased, or that every organization, religion, faith, and world-view in the world is completely unable to admit that there are less-than-positive things in their past. That's just to say that it's okay to look to sources outside of your own organization, religion, faith, and world-view to get the whole truth. Careful research can usually pick out the truth from the wild false claims, if the researcher is willing to be objective.

When I first started learning about the false prophecies of Joseph Smith, I had some major cognitive dissonance. I had held Joseph Smith to be a false prophet, and suddenly there were false prophecies in front of me (D&C 84:1-5, for instance) and I couldn't deny that they hadn't happened as promised. I had a few options at that point--twist things around to justify the false prophecies, no matter how much I had to deny reality to do so, or try to justify Joseph Smith in making false prophecies no matter how much I had to twist logic and scripture, or admit that the prophecies were false and that a true prophet does not make false prophecies. I chose the one that made the most sense, and left the church.

That doesn't mean that what I found was automatically from the devil. As I pointed out above, one of the false prophecies that impacted me the most was one found in the standard works...and it didn't happen. It wasn't a bad feeling from Satan, it was a bad feeling because what I had been taught and what I was seeing did not line up with each other.

Don't be afraid to question, and don't be afraid to keep trusting and hoping while you do. You might be surprised where things will take you when you resolve your cognitive dissonance--not Satan's influence--in a logical, reasonable, and prayerful manner.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hymn 284

I just wanted to share a quick look at a Mormon hymn with everyone. Its actually a very strange and very un-Christian hymn when looked at.

If You Could Hie to Kolob, 284 – William W. Phelps

1. If you could hie to Kolob In the twinkling of an eye, In the Book of Abraham, Kolob is said to the be star near where God lives.
And then continue onward With that same speed to fly,
Do you think that you could ever, Through all eternity,
Find out the generation Where Gods began to be?
This certainly addresses and interesting doctrine and an interesting question. There is an endless genealogy of gods in Mormon theology, but there cannot be an actually infinite number of things, so there had to be a first God. Why do we not worship the first God? Where did that God come from? Who is he? How did he begin the cycle of Gods? Is he eternal? If it can be conceived that the first God is eternal and endless, then why cannot it be conceived that our own God is eternal and endless? We also know from the Bible that there are not multiple gods--Isaiah 43:10.

2. Or see the grand beginning, Where space did not extend?
Or view the last creation, Where Gods and matter end? The answer of course is supposed to be done. Gods and matter don't end, so you cannot find the end. This is again is an impossibility, as there cannot be an actually infinite number of something. There has to be a first.
Me thinks the Spirit whispers, “No man has found ‘pure space,’
Nor seen the outside curtains, Where nothing has a place.”
First of all, the question is: what does this even mean? What is pure space? Why can't it be found? Why is it so impossible that there might be a place where matter does not exist? In Mormon theology, the gods don't create ex nihlo, or from nothing, they organize matter.

3. The works of God continue, And worlds and lives abound;
Improvement and progression Have one eternal round.
This reflects the LDS theology that we are eternally progressing--even God is still progressing in knowledge. Damnation in LDS theology is being stopped from progressing.
There is no end to matter; There is no end to space;
There is no end to spirit; There is no end to race.
The statement about race is probably the most interesting here. This reflects the Mormon idea, particularly in the early church, that race is a reflection of the status of faithfulness. Beginning with the ideas about dark skin being a curse in the Book of Mormon, this built up into the all-out racism against blacks that caused them to be unable to hold the priesthood until 1978.

4. There is no end to virtue; There is no end to might;
There is no end to wisdom; There is no end to light.
There is no end to union; There is no end to youth;
I'm guessing the union referred to is marriage, which is of course not biblical, as Jesus makes it clear in the gospels that people will not be married in heaven and that marriage isn't always for everyone.
There is no end to priesthood; There is no end to truth.  That there is no end to priesthood is true, but it is Christ that has an eternal priesthood. Anything else is earthly and transitory. Hebrews 7.

5. There is no end to glory; There is no end to love;
There is no end to being; There is no death above.
There is no end to glory; There is no end to love;
There is no end to being; There is no death above.
There can be an end to being for humans. We were created, and we can be uncreated by the same God. However, Mormon theology says that we are eternal intelligences. I wonder what will happen when the intelligence runs out...unless they believe that's actually infinite, too?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Unity in Christ

Lately I've seen a lot of backbiting and nit-picking amongst Christian ministries reaching out to Mormons, with some ministries constantly attacking and criticizing others, often with incorrect information or outright lies.

This is hard for me to see, as it enforced the Mormon impression that Christians are always in complete disagreement. This is not true, and the Christians or those who claim to be Christian who don't show a united front in the important things are standing as a barrier to those who might otherwise come to Christ.

One of the major things that has been up for much debate is the Moroni 8:18 ministry. Moroni 8:18 states that God doesn't change, which is a belief that is consistent with the Bible but that Mormons don't really believe anymore, since LDS doctrine is now that God was once a man and is progressing in knowledge. I can understand both sides of why someone may or may not want to use this method--someone who uses it can use Mormons their own scriptures to show them how the religion used to be more Biblical, but no longer agrees with itself. Others might not use it because they don't want to show any support towards Mormon scripture. There are likely a myriad of reasons behind both views, and both views are fine.

However, backbiting, hot public debates, public criticism, etc., between Christians over a method of ministry is not fine. Its okay for someone to state publicly that they personally do not want to use this method for their own reasons, but divisions are a sign of not walking in the Spirit. Causing division is a bad fruit. Those who are causing these divisions, over this and other issues, just need to stop. It is not of God to publically fight this way, especially in front of people who we are trying to bring to Christ.


We don't have to agree on methods to all share the same message. Like a pastor I once had said:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Deceptive Book of Mormon

When missionaries show up at someone's house, one of the things they ask almost unfailingly, if a person is willing to listen to them, is that the person read the Book of Mormon and ask God sincerely if its true. If the Book of Mormon is true, the implication is that the rest of the Mormon church is true.

However, when Mormonism began and the Book of Mormon came to light, the early church wasn't seeking to bring out the new and bold doctrine that exists today. Instead, their claim to fame was that they had the truth of the Gospel without human embellishments. The early church had a more orthodox view of God and the Gospel and was not far off from Biblical Christianity. It was supposed to be a restoration of original Christianity, not a religion with brand new (and often very different) doctrines. Their "restoration" didn't have it all correct, but it wasn't as extreme as it is today.

Later in Joseph Smith's life teachings like the eternal progression of gods, temple ceremonies, polygamy and other strange doctrines surfaced. Some of these began early on, but it really wasn't until the end of Joseph Smith's life that they were taught often and believed by many followers. The doctrines are still part of the church today.

So, when a missionary asks someone to pray about the Book of Mormon, a few things happen. First of all, they're praying about a book that really isn't too far off from the Bible--in fact, much of it was borrowed from the King James Bible. If they get good feelings about the Book of Mormon, then they  believe all of Mormonism to be true, even though the Book of Mormon includes none of the stranger doctrines nor all of the strict expectations that make up the church today. Most of the stranger doctrines aren't talked about with investigators, and aren't even spoken of too much in Sacrament Meeting every Sunday. A missionary won't usually knock on someone's door and tell them that they can become a god if they become a faithful Mormon. They won't tell them that the Doctrine and Covenants section commanding polygamy is still in the scriptures and the Joseph Smith had many wives, assuming the missionary even knows it. They won't tell them about the rituals within the temple, and maybe not even all of the strict requirements--only that the temple rituals are necessary and desired.

Not only that, but when they tell you that you will receive a burning in the bosom confirming the truth of the Book of Mormon if you pray sincerely, then an interesting mental games begins. If you don't get feelings, were you not sincere enough? If you get bad feelings about it, is there something wrong with you?

The idea about praying about the truth of the Book of Mormon comes from the Book of Mormon itself. If the Book of Mormon is not of God, then could the answer you receive in prayer not be of God? You don't have to pray about whether or not the Bible is true, do you? You don't have to pray about other holy books, do you? If you want to know the truth of those books, you do your research and learn about them. Even Mormons won't pray about whether they know the Koran or any other religious text is true because they already know that its not. We shouldn't pray about the Book of Mormon, but should instead research it, for the same reasons.

If you don't do your research, and don't know Biblical doctrine well and do some research on the church, its very easy to be deceived by all this. You don't realize that the First Vision is an impossibility because of the Trinity (and interestingly, the current version of the First Vision was not the first version Joseph Smith told, and the other versions were vastly different). You don't realize that they believe in many gods but worship only one, which is in direct contradiction to the strict monotheism of the Bible. You don't realize that feelings can be deceptive and unreliable in proving truth, if used alone--logic, reason, scripture, etc. should agree with your feelings, assuming the feelings even come first when seeking truth.

Good feelings about the Book of Mormon cannot and most certainly do not prove that the rest of Mormonism is true, or even that the Book of Mormon itself is true.

Ask, "Would you pray about the Koran? Why not?"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Once Was Blind...

I've been hearing so much from Mormons lately, some whom I know personally and some who I don't, about how I should leave off, about how I should never speak against the church but should sit silent in my knowledge, about how I don't really have the truth because I'm not taking all things from the church (which pre-supposes that the church is true and unbiased), etc.

It seems rather like the blind are trying to make those who can see blind too, because they think they can see even though they refuse to look. To quote a famous song, I once was blind, but now I see.

I'm not going to stop until and unless God puts it on my heart that I need to stop and move on to something other than ministering to Mormons. Quite simply, only God and my husband really influence my major choices in what I need to do in life and why, and neither of them are telling me to quit.

Just because it is a religion does not mean that truth should not be told, that lies should not be exposed, or that I should cater to the opinions of those who don't agree.

Many arguments I've heard are illogical and, when turned back on the person making them, do not work. For instance--"I don't appreciate you saying my church is wrong. You should leave it alone. Maybe we're wrong, but we're happy, so leave us to it," to closely quote one person. Yet I'm sure she has had and will have many family members leave for missions to knock on doors and tell people, "Our church is true, so you should join it," the implication being that the person who isn't Mormon isn't in a true church. How is what I do any worse than that?

Or another one--"You aren't telling the whole truth because you're not using the only two church-made LDS websites (lds.org and mormon.org)." Since when does a potentially-biased religious website contain the only and whole truth about that religion? I wouldn't expect the Catholic church to put up everything about the darker parts of their pasts and the sins of their popes, or give an objective history of their religion because not everything would be cast in a good light. Yet it doesn't mean that sources outside of the Catholic church itself are wrong about the history of the Catholic church. Not only that, since when did the LDS go only to Christian sources to prove Christianity is incomplete? They can't, because it wouldn't work--they simply wouldn't be able to prove it.

I know this blog and my last have maybe been a little more along the line of rants and have maybe sounded frustrated. This one probably does, even if the last didn't. I think I get frustrated because I would love so much for these good, intelligent people to come to know God the way I do. Its so frustrating to see them using illogical arguments and criticizing/arguing with those who speak the truth of God, when they could be seeking truth and knowledge for themselves.

Lord, I pray today that you will soften hearts and open minds to receive truth and knowledge. I pray that you will help these people come to know you, because you say that you love all and wish none to stray from you. You say that you rejoice over one lost sheep being returned to you. Lord, these people are lost sheep. They want to love you, but they don't really know you. You say you are mighty to save, and I know your words are truth. Father God, strengthen those who fight for your cause in the face of the onslaught. Give them the strength to stand, the power to rise, the humility to speak in love, the  long-suffering to show truth to those who are sincerely seeking, the ability to be bold in the face of those who have chosen to live in their blindness, and the ability to say what is right to those that need to hear it, and the patience to do all this in your time and to let you do the work within the people who hear your truth. In Jesus' name, amen.

Are you blind to truth?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mormons say the Darndest Things

I am often flabbergasted, and sometimes amused, by the things Mormons, particularly apologists, will say to try to remain firm in their faith.

Today, a Mormon who I will not name even though it was a public conversation, came onto my page and tried to tell me that Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet because he calls people to repentance. To try to make his point, he cited the story of Jonah:

  • "Mormon:" Jonah was a Prophet, his prophesy was to the city of Nineveh to repent. Pres. Monson has called the world to repentence.
  • John Merilatt Wow. I'm so glad Monson was around to tell us that. I've never read that in the Bible before.
  • LDS/Mormon Awareness "Mormon", his prophesy was that Nineveh would be destroyed if it didn't repent. There is nothing in Monson's call to repentance that is new or not already in the Bible or taught by Christians the world over. Your claim is quite weak. ~Lee
  • "Mormon:" John did not Noah do the same?
  • "Mormon:" Lee please support "if it didn't repent" with scripture
  • John Merilatt LOL. Too funny "Mormon"...Too funny. What has Monson said that hasn't been said before. What new revelation has he given?
  • LDS/Mormon Awareness Jonah1:1 Jonah was commanded to preach at Nineveh because of its wickedness. 3:4 destruction of Nineveh is prophesied because of that wickedness 3:10 Because of their repentance God did not destroy them. "Mormon", the threat of destruction because of wickedness and the repentance of the people causing God to not destroy them is inherant to the story. How did you not know that? ~Lee
  • "Mormon:" There was no if in the prophecy of Jonah
  • LDS/Mormon Awareness
    Yes, and? First of all, that's not what we're talking about in this thread. Second, the prophecy was based on their state of wickedness. When that state changed, they no longer needed to be destroyed, because God does not destroy the rightouesness for wickedness. That is contrary to his nature. So, back to the original point. Monson is not a prophet and the gift of prophecy is not exclusive. Any believer can be given the gift, no matter age, gender, or position within their church. ~Lee

It just amazes me how anyone can go to such great lengths to stick to their beliefs, no matter how much those beliefs don't make sense. In this short thread alone, this LDS member: took a component of a Bible story (the prophecy involved in Jonah's message) out to try to make his point; basically changed the definition of prophesy by saying that it was prophecy to tell someone to repent, when the real prophecy was telling them of their destruction if they did not; claimed a call to repentance is enough to prove a prophet true, as if that is exclusive to true prophets; and then ran away towards another point only vaguely related to the opening topic when his point about Jonah failed.

I'm not showing all of this to try to make fun of this particular man, which is part of why I chose not to name him in this blog. I don't think he has any bad intentions in the things he says and dows. What I do think, though, is that he is just one of many who will grasp at any excuse and ignore what is right in front of him in order to hold onto his religion. My own dad, who has done at least a little research and who has been witnessed to by at least one or two good Christians, refuses to give up his faith in light of evidence, and the night he and my mom learned I left, he gave me at least one excuse for the false prophecies of Joseph Smith.

These can be and often are people of at least average intelligence--able to comprehend and think through things, able to research, able to have a viable discussion, able to learn and memorize, people who have at least graduated high school and perhaps gone to college, who hold down jobs and have families. Yet they can be so blind to reason and facts.

I often wonder if I was that blind when I was a member. In some ways, yes, because I avoided a lot of things I considered to be "anti-Mormon," which basically meant any outside perspective on the church. I thought for the longest time that I could get all the answers I needed from within the church itself, even to the problems with the church, which simply isn't true. But in other ways I don't think I was this willingly blind, because when I did research, I accepted what I found to be truth no matter where it led me, and God led me right out of the church with that truth.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: truth will stand up to examination. If what you think is truth does not stand up very well, if at all, then maybe you should reconsider what you hold to be truth. This doesn't just apply to Mormons. I continue to apply this as a Christian, and I believe anyone of any denomination, faith, religion, or lack thereof, should do the same.