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Archaeology and Mormonism

27 Jun

I. Introduction:

One of the interesting things that were discovered while researching this section is that over the past 160 years or so, the Mormon archaeological claims have not changed and all sources dealt with the same ones and said basically the exact same thing when presenting each to the public. When I use the words ‘archaeological claims’ here, I am referring to those items or events that Joseph Smith said took place and should have left some sort of archaeological evidence to confirm their historical existence.

The main claim of the Book of Mormon is the following claim made by Joseph Smith:

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”1

Yet is it? All we have is the word of one man who, according to some, was not very literate or even educated and whom had little knowledge of the past. What the following pages seeks to do is examine some of the claims made by Joseph Smith and his followers and see where they fit with what we know from the archaeological record.

Eight of the most important events described in the Book of Mormon will be looked at in the following pages starting where it all began for Joseph Smith and that is the story of the golden tablets, then this work will move through the issue of the ancient peoples described in the Mormon holy book to their great exodus from the original promised land to the alters discovered in Yemen and claimed by Mormons as proof for their Exodus.

Then we will move on to their famed Mt. Cumorrah and the tale of the great battle that took place there, followed by an examination of their supposed historic cities that were supposed to have been built by these ancient cultures. Finally, there will be a look at the claim of this special language Mormons call ‘Reformed Egyptian’ and finishing with a look at the book of Abraham, Mr. Smith claimed was written by the patriarch himself.

This section will end with a comparison between the Bible and the book of Mormon and why the lack of physical evidence works for the former but not the latter. Archaeology may be limited and has its problems but it can reveal much when used properly.  One of the problems faced by the Mormon Sect, though, is that their own archaeologists cannot find any physical evidence to support the claims made by Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon and this issue will be looked at in the conclusion of this section.

People of religious beliefs will always fall back when they run into problems answering the demands for something real, something physical to shore up their faith or their wanting to believe the words spoken by religious leaders. Mormonism is no exception and they rely solely on faith not any physical discovery for proving their claims has turned into an almost impossible task,

The bottom line is that the Book of Mormon claims to be the historical record of millions of people who lived in the Americas for a thousand years, and includes all kinds of detailed descriptions of their everyday lives. These descriptions do not match any known archaeological evidence, with the exception of a small handful of archaeological “anomalies” that are out of sync with the overwhelming amount of evidence2

Now it needs to be mentioned that many have written on this topic before and have done a more extensive investigation and  detailed accounting…

My idea going into this study of the Book of Mormon, especially the section dealing with evidence for and against its historicity, was if the Book of Mormon is true, then it has to stand up to the most rigorous assaults and critiques that skeptics and nonbelievers can make. So I made every effort to honestly, fully investigate every criticism, every objection that’s ever been made to the historicity of the Book of Mormon.3

…but many still have not read those works and this is just a catalyst to spur people to further research on this topic and see for themselves the truth of this issue. Why is this included in a book on biblical archaeology? Simply because it allows the strengths of the Bible to be highlighted and shown to be superior to false religions and so that people can see the difference between the Most High God and the gods of other beliefs.

Christians need to be shown that they are following the true faith and need to have their faith shored up and that is the purpose of including this section in this work. It is also the purpose of this whole book as the Christian needs to take their eyes off the secular world, free themselves from secular rules pertaining to these professions and put their eyes back on Christ and be strengthened to do things God’s way not the secular world’s.

The Christian church has allowed itself to be too compromised and as time is running out and drawing to a close, it needs to extricate itself from the mire that has hindered its duty in performing Christ’s work and making an impact upon this world.

II. The Archaeological Claims

1. The Golden Tablets

The Claim: The next thing he remembered seeing was Moroni standing over him, repeating his instructions of the night before, adding that Joseph should now tell his father about the visitations. Joseph did so, and his father, assured that the vision came from God, told Joseph to follow the angel’s instructions (JS—H 1:46-50).

Joseph Smith then went to the hill and found the place shown him the night before in vision. He uncovered the plates and was about to remove them when Moroni appeared again, counseling Joseph that the time was not yet right. Instead, he instructed Joseph to return to this spot at the same time the following year and that he should continue to do so until the time had come for obtaining the plates (JS—H 1:51-54).4

There are several questions that arise with this account and one is, why were they left hidden for so many years?  Then one needs to ask, is this Mormon god that cruel that he would let billions of people live their lives without giving them the chance to know the ‘truth’, if Joseph Smith was actually correct? Why couldn’t they have the plates as well so that they might be able to find salvation? Why golden plates? Why can’t people study them?

This is the key- fairness and justice.  It seems quite unfair, as well as unjust, to all those people who were on this earth  for millennia yet were never given an opportunity to see those plates and translate them so more could be saved. Why the 19th century? Why not the 1st or 2nd? Why must all these people die before this angel reveals the tablets secret location? Is the Mormon God selfish and greedy and didn’t want billions of people sharing the universe with him?

One would think that if the Mormon god loved his descendents then he would have made more of an effort to save them and grant them access to those words which Joseph Smith said were vital for salvation and everlasting life.

Finally one must ask, why couldn’t the golden plates remain so that everyone would have a chance to see them and believe? Or even study the language to safeguard against those who would alter the original text of the Book of Mormon?

2. The Historical People

The Claim: NEPHITES. The core of this group were direct descendants of Nephi 1, the son of founding father Lehi. Political leadership within the Nephite wing of the colony was “conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi” (Mosiah 25:13). Not only the early kings and judges but even the last military commander of the Nephites, Mormon, qualified in this regard (he explicitly notes that he was “a pure descendant of Lehi” [3 Ne. 5:20] and “a descendant of Nephi” [Morm. 1:5]).5

LAMANITES. This name, too, was applied in several ways. Direct descendants of Laman, Lehi’s eldest son, constituted the backbone of the Lamanites, broadly speaking (Jacob 1:13-144 Ne. 1:38-39). The “Lemuelites” and “Ishmaelites,” who allied themselves with the descendants of Laman in belief and behavior, were also called Lamanites (Jacob 1:13-14). So were “all the dissenters of [from] the Nephites” (Alma 47:35). This terminology was used in the Nephite record, although one cannot be sure that all dissenters applied the term to themselves. However, at least one such dissenter, Ammoron, a Zoramite, bragged, “I am a bold Lamanite” (Alma 54:24).6

JAREDITES. This earliest people referred to in the Book of Mormon originate in Mesopotamia at the “great tower” referred to in Genesis 11.From there a group of probably eight families journeyed to American under divine guidance.7

THE PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA (MULEKITES). In the third century B.C., when the Nephite leader Mosiah 1 and his company moved from the land of Nephi down to the Sidon river, “they discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla” (Omni 1:13-14) because their ruler bore that name. These people were descendants of a party that fled the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., among whom was a son of the Jewish king Zedekiah, Mulek. Hence Latter-day Saints often refer to the descendants of this group of people as Mulekites, although the Book of Mormon never uses the term. When discovered by the Nephites around 200 B.C., this people was “exceedingly numerous,” although culturally degenerate due to illiteracy and warfare (Omni 1:16-17). The Nephite account says the combined population welcomed Mosiah as king.8

Where did these people go?  Why did they disappear? Why can’t we find traces of these people any where? Obviously, they were not slaves so they were free to manufacture their own cultural material goods. What sin or sins did they commit to have all records of their existence vanish? It would seem that if these people were as great as Joseph Smith claimed, why can’t we find them in the archaeological record? Surely some extra-Mormon civilization would have recorded contact with these people. Yet we find no reference to them or their travels anywhere in ancient history.

3. The Mormon Exodus

The Claim: Lehi, a wealthy and faithful Israelite of the tribe of Manasseh, lives in Jerusalem in the late 7th century B.C. Having heard the preaching of Jeremiah and other prophets, he prays to God and receives a vision. Lehi is told by God that Jerusalem will be destroyed and the Lehi should take his family and flee into the wilderness and that they will be led to a promised land. 9

Here one must ask, why so few people were led by God to leave Jerusalem before it was destroyed?  Why were they the lucky ones? When the Israelites were in Egypt, God did not save a few, he saved them all, so why would Lehi and a small band escape slavery and exile and not the rest of God’s people? We know that when the Babylonians took slaves, they took both the obedient and disobedient people so being righteous was not a criteria for avoiding imprisonment.

Also, why did not God tell Jeremiah that he was going to save a select few or make mention of it in the OT? After all, Jeremiah was God’s prophet why wouldn’t God tell him? Then, why do we not have one mention of this group anywhere? Or evidence of shipbuilding of the magnitude needed to carry so many people across an ocean at that time?

4. The Yemen Alters

The Claim: As his first act once his tent had been pitched for his first important camp, Lehi “built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks to the Lord” (1 Nephi 2:7).10

The claim is that Lehi built 1 altar but as one researches they find that not 1,not 3 as claimed by S. Kent Brown:

The recent publication of inscriptions from three limestone altars found in the ancient temple of Bar’an in Marib, Yemen, demonstrates as firmly as possible by archaeological means the existence of the tribal name NHM in that part of Arabia in the seventh-sixth centuries b.c., the general dates assigned to the carving of the altars by the excavators and other scholars 11

but 8 such altars exist at this location:

I examined and recorded several inscriptions on the temple walls and noted a further collection of altars from the site—eight largely intact and several broken—bearing differing inscriptions12

Not one of these altars provides any real link or proof that they are connected to the traveling Lehi and his group. Why do we find 8 when the Mormon writings claim that Lehi only built 1?

5. Mt. Cumorrah

The Claim: Hill Cumorah “is a place described in the Book of Mormon where approximately two hundred fifty thousand Nephite soldiers were killed in a final battle with the Lamanites, and where centuries earlier, the last battle of the Jaredites took place which destroyed their civilization.That the location of Hill Cumorah events was in New York has been affirmed by people like Joseph Smith, Orson Pratt, Marion G. Romney, Anthony Ivins, B.H. Roberts, James Talmage, Joseph Fielding Smith, George Reynolds, and Bruce McConkie. It is also affirmed in a current CES institute manual, and was as recently as1990 affirmed in a letter from Secretary to the First Presidency13

Yet, not one sword, chariot, blade, body or even a bone can be found on this mountain nor can any cultural material objects attesting to any of these ancient peoples be fund any where near this mountain or on it. So what is their solution? They move it to another geographical area:

In opposition the historic and authoritative Mormon position, nearly every Mormon apologist has abandoned the belief that the hill described in the Book of Mormon is in New York, and has adopted a position more consistent with the limited geography theory, placing the hill somewhere in Central America14

The problem with that is no one, not even the Mormon archaeologists, find any evidence for such people or great battle in Central America either. Several figures are given for the amount of dead warriors. One figure has it at 275,000 and another has it at over 2,00,000 and both are substantial enough that something would survive 2,000 years +/-, yet nothing has been found at either site to substantiate the claim made by Joseph Smith.

6. The Historical Cities

The Claim: Zarahemlawas the name of the major Nephite city as recorded in the Book of Mormon–part of the official canon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The city of Zarahemla and surrounding area were not originally Nephite. Around 323 BC a Nephite man named Mosiah found the already built city. The Book of Mormon explains how Mosiah came to this land and was later made king:15

This is but one of the many cities that would needed to have existed to house the millions of people that Joseph Smith claimed to have lived in the Americas in the 6th to 7th centuries BC and onward. Problem is not one has been discovered and no cultural material products have been unearthed to attest to this idea.

7. Reformed Egyptian

The Claim: Moroni said, “We have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters that are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech” (Mormon 9:32).16

We know that there is no such thing as reformed Egyptian yet here is more of their description of the language:

Some Book of Mormon critics scorn this claim of Book of Mormon language, saying, “there is no such language as Reformed Egyptian” — “there has never been a single example found.” Is this a case of deliberate misunderstanding? Of course there’s no such language! Moroni says, “in the characters which are called among us the reformedEgyptian — a small “r,” an adjective. Thus, Moroni makes plain that they are the ones who have given this name to their written language, a language “that none other people knoweth” (Moroni 9:34). Also, Moroni says they “altered” the Egyptian characters. They called it “reformed” because they had altered it. They were using altered Egyptian characters to write their non-Egyptian language.17

Notice that no one else knows this language. That is quite convenient and there is no ancient papyri, no pottery sherd, no monument and so on bearing any character of this language. So how do they know if Joseph Smith got the translation right? How can they verify his work?  How do they know that the language on the golden tablets was actually ‘reformed Egyptian’? They had nothing to compare the letters to, to see if they had the correct language. All they had and have is one man’s word that that was what it was.

8 The Book of Abraham

The Claim: The Book of Abraham is a text published by Joseph Smith, Jr. and thought by many within Mormonism to be the translated writings of the patriarch Abraham. Some Latter Day Saint denominations, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, accept the book as part of their canon. Other denominations, such as the Community of Christ, and many Mormon scholars and individuals, consider it to be a work of inspired (or even non-inspired) fiction. 18

How did he know that Abraham wrote the book since there is no record of Abraham doing so?  How did he know that they were not forgeries? With what did he have to compare these documents to ascertain that they were in fact legitimate?

An Analysis: We have seen the claims made by the Mormon sect and we have seen the questions and problems that are raised by these claims. The Mormon faithful say that there is a large amount of evidence to support their central book, the Book of Mormon, as exampled by the following;

“Book of Mormon cities have been found, they are well known, and their artifacts grace the finest museums. They are merely masked by archaeological labels such as ‘Maya’, ‘Olmec’, and so on.” -John E. Clarkaar (LDS)19

But the reality is:

Blake Ostler, a respected Mormon scholar, states that “in my view, there is not and cannot be any [Book of Mormon] archaeology until we find at least one place or object that we can say with some certitude derives from Book of Mormon peoples. We haven’t done so…20

And we keep running into these words as well:

Despite some LDS member’s claims, there appears to be no existing archeological evidence which directly supports the Book of Mormon21

No matter how hard anyone tries, even the Mormon archaeologists, no one has uncovered any shred of evidence that the Book of Mormon is true or factual.22  It is and can be claimed that the Book of Mormon, like the Bible, is a book of faith but unlike the Bible the book of Mormon has nothing to support its stories. The following section makes a comparison between these two books.

III. Biblical Comparisons

1. Religious Sources: As we have seen, the Book of Mormon comes from ‘golden tablets’ which had an original author, much like the Bible save the Bible had more than 1 author and it was not written in one time period, it was written over thousands of years.

It has been stated that the golden plates, once translated into English, was taken back to heaven by the Angel Moroni23. Thus there are no ancient manuscripts, no  fragments nothing that can be examined by scholars to see the original words for the Book of Mormon.

In contrast, we have thousands of ancient manuscripts and fragments for the NT dated back to almost the 1st century AD and for the OT we the Dead Scrolls and other manuscripts which go back to before the 1st century BC. We also have the writings of the church fathers who quote almost every bible verse in their collected works. The Book of Mormon has no such foundation.

The Bible also has the promise of God to preserve His word for all to read and He has done so whereas the book of Mormon has no such promise and laid buried, according to Joseph Smith, for roughly 2,000 years, robbing billions of people the opportunity for salvation. God did not let His word be buried and all had a chance to read what it says and choose salvation if they wanted.

Go did not hide his words so no one could read them, He kept them public and for all to read so that the would be without excuse if they chose to reject His Son.

2. Ancient People: The book of Mormon claims to be a history of at least 3 different ancient societies, yet no archaeological remains can be found for these civilizations, no extra- Mormon records attest to these ancient peoples, no artifacts, no cultural material items nothing.

Whereas, for the Bible we have the people of Israel with us today; a nation that was reborn 2,000 years after their destruction at the hands of the Romans. We also have records of the Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, the Philistines and many more of the ancient societies mentioned in the Bible. These pieces of information come from both secular and Christian sources, both modern and ancient, through many different avenues.

3. The Exodus: Yes we have little valid physical evidence for the Israeli exodus from Egypt but there is even less for the Lehi exodus from Jerusalem. The Mormons cannot even prove that Lehi, his people and their descendants actually existed and they certainly cannot attest to the travel via contact with other nations of that time.

But we have the Israelites in existence today, we can prove they existed in ancient times, we have the destruction of Jericho to help prove their entry into the promised land but the Mormons have none of those things. They cannot even explain why only a few people were spared exile and slavery? Since the Mormons also use the Bible, why is not this event and God’s interaction with His people recorded in some fashion in the OT? It would make sense that He would do so, since He has told us about every other major action the people of Israel were involved. Why leave this spectacular event  out, especially when it would bring Him more glory?

4. Physical Evidence: The Mormons make a lot out of the discovery of these alters in Yemen but they forget that nothing ties them to Lehi and his people. They are just alters with the letters ‘NIHM’ carved on them. Yes there are alters and here we would say that it was pure coincidence not fact that Smith seemed to be correct BUT 1 discovery proof does not make. Anyone could have built those alters and there is no corroborating evidence to support the Mormon contention that they are proof for the Lehi exodus and migration.

There is a book called, Lost Treasures of the Bible by Fant& Reddish, which has over 400pages covering the many physical pieces of evidence for the Bible, the people in the Bible and for the Israelites.  It also contains photographs of many of those artifacts plus we have the records of the surrounding nations to help attest to the people mentioned in the Bible. People like, Nebuchadnezzar, Sargon and more.

People have spent their lives digging in the Levant and have found many, many different pieces of ancient life that show that the Bible was accurate when it mentioned cities, rulers and people throughout its pages. The book of Mormon has no rich history and their people also have spent years searching and have not found one item or extra-Mormon literature that corroborates Joseph Smith’s claims.24

5. The Great Battlefields: here is a quote that gives some perspective on what should have been found at Mt. Cumorrah and how devastating it should have been with up to 2,000,000 people dying and not being buried:

To help you understand the magnitude of casualties at hill Cumorah, let us consider another major battle. During the Battle of Gettysburg of the American Civil War, 55,000 soldiers were wounded, including 6,000 of them killed on the battlefield and 4,000 more whose wounds were mortal. Eyewitnesses said that there was so much blood from the dead and injured that there were parts of the battlefield that seemed like streams of blood. So many men and horses died that all could not be buried at once and many corpses were left on the battlefield until a few days later when others were hired to do the task.

If 6,000 men died on the battlefield at Gettysburg, what would a battlefield look like with hundreds of thousands dead? Since they were left unburied at hill Cumorah, wouldn’t there be some artifacts made of metal and stone? Bullets by the thousands are found at Gettysburg. Nothing, however, has been found at hill Cumorah.25

Museums are full of weapons and other war materials discovered hundreds and thousands of years after the battle took place.

German archaeologists have located a Roman-era battlefield and retrieved more than 600 artifacts, most of them weapons, in what they are calling “the find of a century”. The weapons located in an area measuring 1.5 by 0.5 kilometers near the town of Northeim in northern Germany, about 50 kilometers south of Hanover, include spearheads with DNA traces on them and arrows made from wood that originated in northern Africa. Evidently the Romans and Germans fought a bloody battle in the third century AD, said archaeologist Petra Lönne. Some 1,000 Roman legionnaires may have been involved in the fight.26

1700 years, less men fighting and they are still finding battlefield remains. The Mormons have had 175 years to look and still have found nothing. For the Bible we find results of the destruction caused by the Israelites during their conquest at the archaeological digs at the cities mentioned in the Bible and that is over 3,000 years ago.

6. The ancient urban evidence: We read in the Book of Mormon about these vast and great ancient societies that spanned a continent27 , built cities and so much more, yet not one trace of these urban centers can be found, anywhere.

In contrast, the ancient cities mentioned in the Bible are found and are found in the exact countries the Bible says they are in. Plus, many of those ancient cities are still in existence today- Jerusalem, Damascus, Jericho and so many more. We know where Babylon is, Ninevah, Memphis, Thebes, and so on, yet for some reason and with many years of searching the Mormon sect cannot unearth one of their own.

7. Ancient languages: As we saw earlier, no one knows the ancient language of ‘reformed Egyptian’, which is quite convenient for the Mormon leaders for they get to change what the Book of Mormon says at any time they want and no one could challenge the alteration.

Since the only document that contains reformed Egyptian is gone no one can verify that Smith got the translation right or see if it was a real language or not. If there were these civilizations who spoke this ‘language’ where are their written records? Their fragments of manuscripts? Their pottery sherds that record this language?

And why can’t people learn it? What is so special about it that it must remain a secret from all, even Mormons? Contrast this with the Bible.  Not only do we know the 3 ancient languages used to pen God’s word but we know of the 3 different civilizations that spoke them and two are still in existence today.

Couple that with the fact that both non-Christian and believer can study the language, read the original words in the original language and see for themselves what God said. The Bible is not secreted away in heaven and has left a paper trail that extends back thousands of years with which we can compare with modern versions to make sure we have it right and that the message and words of the Bible have not changed.

Such cannot be done with the book of Mormon, all we have on that ‘translation’ is Joseph Smith’s word that that is what the golden tablets said and that is not enough for Joseph Smith’s life did not warrant blind faith in his words.

8. Canonicity: Even if the Abraham of the Bible wrote books, we know that they were not meant to be part of the Bible despite what Joseph Smith claims. He had no authority to add to the words of God which were set long before he was born.

It would be impossible for an ancient book to be added to the canon in the 19th century for that would add to the unfairness that comes with the Mormon beliefs. Why was it lost till Smith purchased it? Why are there no other copies or fragments of the work? If Abraham’s book were inspired and scripture why is there no ancient record mentioning his work? Why is it not alluded to or referenced in the Bible? Jesus and the disciples quoted the OT quite often, so why wouldn’t they quote from the book of Abraham?

In an interview with Lee Strobel, the late Dr. Metzger had this to say about the books of the Bible:

You have to understand that the canon was not the result of a series of contests involving church politics. The canon I rather the separation that came about because of the intuitive insight of Christian believers…When the pronouncement was made about the canon, it merely ratified what the general sensitivity of the church had already determined. You see, the canon is a list of authoritative books more than it is an authoritative list of books. These documents didn’t derive their authority from being selected; each one was authoritative before anyone gathered them together.28

So even if Abraham actually wrote a book, it was not going to be in the canon because it did not meet the criteria to be included. No matter what Joseph Smith said, it wouldn’t change this fact. The Jewish people had set their canon and this ‘book’ was not included and we know the reason why this was so—it was not authored or inspired by God:

At least that was how the Rt. Reverend Franklin S. Spalding, Episcopal Bishop of Utah, saw the situation in 1912.  It was in that year that he decided to send copies of the three facsimiles from the Book of Abraham to some of the world’s leading scholars of Egyptology, asking each for an independent assessment of Joseph Smith’s interpretations.

The eight Egyptologists and Semitists who responded were unanimous in their scathing verdict: “Joseph Smith’s interpretation of these cuts is a farrago of nonsense from beginning to end,” came the report from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which added that “five minutes study in an Egyptian gallery of any museum should be enough to convince any educated man of the clumsiness of the imposture;” “… difficult to deal seriously with Smith’s impudent fraud,” wrote another from Oxford, England. “Smith has turned the Goddess into a king and Osiris into Abraham.”  From Chicago, “… very clearly demonstrates that he (Joseph Smith) was totally unacquainted with the significance of these documents and absolutely ignorant of the simplest facts of Egyptian Writing and civilization.”  And from London, “… the attempts to guess a meaning are too absurd to be noticed.  It may be safely said that there is not one single word that is true in these explanations.”29

The book of Abraham cannot be taken seriously and this is evidenced by the Mormon challenge which followed:

And then came the challenge from Mormons, expressed by one Mormon writer:

In 1913, Mormon writer John Henry Evans pointed out in an article in the Church-sanctioned Improvement Era, that less than one-seventh of the whole Book of Abraham was represented by the facsimile portion, and even that only as an accompaniment to the text. Evans argued that in order to give a fair test of Joseph’s true ability to translate Egyptian, and before the scholars could get away with charging that the entire Book of Abraham was a false translation, “they would have to examine the original papyrus, or a copy of it, from which the Book of Abraham was translated.” (Larson, p. 28)

Evans’ challenge, which he no doubt believed an impossibility at the time, was to come back to haunt the LDS Church.30

IV. Conclusion

There is no comparison. The book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s claims fail at every turn and the situation with the altars in Yemen only demonstrate how desperate the Mormon leadership is concerning the validity of their faith.

They have a right to be worried for as limited as archaeology can be, it can still point to the veracity of a text, especially one that claims to be supernatural.  As is constantly said, there is no archaeological evidence to support the book of Mormon, none, nada, zilch and when one compares it to the archaeological record we see two things.

First, the Bible is rich in ancient discoveries and has evidence or people that extend well into the modern age giving proof that what it says is true.

Second, what this shows is that God does not do things in secret and one does not have to be an elite member of a religious society to gain access to His words. Everyone can see for themselves what he said, they can learn the ancient languages, they can study the ancient fragments and manuscripts, they can study the ancient discoveries and have complete access to them. They can test the words for themselves as well and do not have to rely on 1 man to tell them what something says.

This is the difference between the truth and a cultic lie. The latter is done in secret and only 1 or a few of the elite has this secret knowledge or ability and the rest must rely on blind faith in those leaders. The former, takes this power out of the hands of the elite or the few and allows everyone to see for themselves so that they can make their own decisions. The latter is also unfair as millions, if not billions, of people are void of the opportunity to find this salvation because the ‘truth’ was hidden for centuries. The former is the epitome of fairness because all people at all times can access the same words no matter what the century. No one is left out.

Why is this so? Because God is making sure that all people who reject Him, His Son and the gospel message are without excuse when it comes time for the final judgment. People will not be allowed to say, ‘we didn’t know…’ because God preserved His words and made it available for every generation to see and he left just enough evidence to show that what He said was true.

Yes there are events recorded in the Bible that do not have any physical evidence to support them but there is enough evidence to show that what the Bible says about those events is accurate and true. The Bible has the patriarchal names used in the right setting and century, and it has the right amount for Joseph’s slave price, along with the right ancient civilizations and cities in the correct location to show that what it says is completely true.

This does not mean that the Bible is not a book of faith. A person still has to use faith to make a decision for salvation for God says ‘the just shall live by faith’, and that ‘faith pleases Him’; thus we will never get so much physical evidence that faith will be destroyed. God will not destroy what pleases Him nor will He undermine His own requirements. But we will get enough physical evidence to shore up both of those elements of the Christian life and know that we are following what is true and not something that is the figment of a man’s imagination.

One can only conclude that Joseph Smith perpetrated a great con on the19th century people, one which has been carried on by subsequent leaders of their cult.
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