Dr. Hugh Nibley of Brigham Young University
(who some Mormons feel is one of the greatest scholars in the Church) declares: "The Book of Mormon can and should be tested. It invites criticism." Tenth president Joseph Fielding Smith things that the evidence for it "internally and externally is overwhelming."
But the only evidence is overwhelmingly negative.
First, although the Church denies it, there is little doubt that, given Smith's claims, the Book of Mormon was translated by occult
means. Smith put a magical "seer" stone into a hat, and then buried his face in the hat to exclude the light. Next, words in "reformed Egyptian" (no such language is known to exist) magically appeared with their translation, and Smith spoke the translation to a scribe who wrote it down.
In addition, the very content of the Book of Mormon makes it impossible to accept it as divine revelation. The Book of Mormon claims to be a translation
of ancient writing on gold plates. These plates were supposedly written 1,400 years ago and detailed the history of the Jewish "Nephites" from 600 B.C. through A.D. 421. But it is virtually impossible that records written 1,400 prior to the time of Joseph Smith should detail specific social, political, and religious concerens unique to nineteenth-century America.
In a scholarly work for which she was excommunicated
from the Mormon Church
(No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith
), Fawn Brody discusses the reasons supporting a ninenteenth-century origin for the Book of Mormon. In a similar fashion, one of the first able reviews of the Book of Mormon concluded:
This Prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi in his Book of Mormon every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years.
But the content of the Book of Mormon presents further difficulties. For example, there are many clearly demonstrated plagiarisms. Material has been taken from Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews
(1823), a book that was available to Joseph Smith, as well as from the King James Bible. Some 27,000 words from the King James Bible are found in the book of Mormon.
But if the Book of Mormon was first written between 600 B.C. and A.D. 421, how could it possibly contain such extensive quotations from the King James Bible, not to be written for another 12,00 to 2000 years? The Tanners
have listed, one by one, 400 verses and portions of verses quoted from the New Testament in the Book of Mormon in their book, The Case Against Mormonism.
The Book of Mormon even contains King James Bible translation errors
Another major problem for the Book of Mormon is archeology, a major embarrassment for the Mormon Church. Mormon missionaries continue to claim that the science of archeology substantiates the Book of Mormon, but whether we consider the alleged cities, persons, animals, fabrics, metals, wars and war implements, kings, palaces, or crops, all the evidence points to their nonexistence.
By contrast, the archeological evidence for the Bible is so overwhelming that even a former skeptic such as the great archeologist Sir William Ramsey became converted to Christian belief. But the archeological evidence against Mormon claims is so devastating that prominent Mormon archeologist Thomas Stewart Ferguson quit the Mormon Church and repudiated its prophet.
In conclusion, anyone who wishes can prove to their own satisfaction that the Book of Mormon cannot possibly be divinely inspired. Its occult method of translation, plagiarisms, internal inconsistencies, archeological disproof, and many other problems reveal that the Mormon Church is in serious error when it claims otherwise.