If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
DID THE GOLDEN PLATES EXIST?
Joseph Smith claimed to have translated the Book of Mormon from ancient golden plates. There is no hard evidence that he ever had these plates.
The Mormons point to two testimonies printed at the start of every Book of Mormon, one by three witnesses and one by eight, as evidence for the existence of the golden plates from which the Book of Mormon came. As Fawn W Brodie observed, there is nothing to stop people from wondering if the witnesses were all pressured into signing the statement. All Smith needed was their signatures. Funny God never thought of eliminating the possibility of coercion. When he didn’t, there was absolutely no point in him bothering letting angels appear and letting them see the magic plates. Mormons suspect that Smith might have blackmailed them which is why they are so keen these days to present him as a very holy man. God choosing a scoundrel would be a terrible embarrassment.
The testimony of the three witnesses says that an angel showed the three the Plates which was strange if Joseph had them in his possession as he claimed. They said they saw the plates by the power of God and not of man meaning that the plates were seen in a vision and for all we know might not have been material things. Even the Book of Mormon says that the plates will be seen by the power of God and that this will prove that the Book of Mormon is true (Ether 5:3,4) – if the plates were real there would be no need for visions. There could be any number of ways of being able to induce visions. Mormons say that seeing the plates with your physical eyes would still be seeing them by the power of God. This explanation is implausible. By the power of God must mean by miracle.
The testimony says “we” saw the plates but that need not mean they saw them at the one time. In fact Harris did not see the plates until after Cowdery and Whitmer did and when the testimony is that vague how do we know that they all saw the same things? If one witness saw large gold plates and another saw tiny ones and another saw just three tablets of gold what use would that be and would imply that they wanted to have visions so badly that they kidded themselves that they had ones.
Harris testified years later that he saw the plates like anybody would see a city through a hill. Mormons say he was mentally unstable when he said this. One wonders why God could allow such a thing to happen to him when he needs his testimony. And it does not sound mental. The testimony of the three supports his assertion for they say they saw the plates by divine power.
Martin Harris once said that he nursed the plates one time for an hour and a half (The Myth of the Manuscript Found, page 87). But no proof is given that Harris gave this information. Harris could have meant that he saw the Plates and that they were on his knee in a bag. The bag could have contained something else. There are several testimonies that Smith kept the plates on view but hidden under a cloth. Harris was far from reliable when it came to visions. He was known to be extremely credulous in religion even before he became associated with Mormonism. Smith had the Plates under a cloth on a table when he was translating. Smith said he could not look at the plates or he would be struck dead. Harris believed this incredibly bold lie. He would have believed anything.
Harris said years later that he saw the Plates with the eyes of faith and not his natural eyes like one sees a city through a hill. Some say that “Harris was mentally sick at the time he said this and therefore that his earlier testimony about touching and holding solid plates comes first. But perhaps there were occasions when he did see the Plates without his natural eyes. The eyes of faith might not stand for imagination for you only see real cities through a hill. It might stand for a form of supernatural revelation. Harris was a fanatic so he might have believed that if he really saw the plates with his physical eyes that it was some religious vision even though it was not.” Nobody would have the imagination to be able to see a city through a hill exactly as it would be. You just pretend you see it. It’s imagination. The sense of touch is the easiest sense to draw into a hallucination. When you are scared and think some ghost is going to touch the back of your neck you will often feel that somebody has touched you on the neck.
“Three of us took some tools to go to the hill and hunt for more boxes of gold or something, and indeed we found a stone box. We got quite excited about it and dug carefully around it, and by some unseen power it slipped back into the hill. We stood there and looked at it and one of us took a crow-bar and tried to drive it through the lid and hold it, but the bar glanced off and broke off one of the corners of the box. Sometime that box will be found and you will see the corner broken off, and then you will know I have told you the truth (The Last Testimony of Martin Harris, E. Cecil McGavin in The Instructor, October 1930, Vol 65, No 10, pp 587-589). The Mormon Church officially published this account and it relates to an event AFTER Smith found the plates. These few sentences stand forever as refutation that Harris was a reliable witnesses to the Golden Plates. The Mormon Church quotes the parts of the testimony that affirm that the angel really appeared and showed the plates and ignores this bit hoping nobody will hear of it. In fact, these few sentences are more convincing evidentially than the angel because Harris stated that there was physical evidence that the box really existed. But the box did not really exist for stone boxes do not sink back into the ground to avoid their contents be taken. So when Harris cannot be trusted in that he can be trusted less with other things.
Harris was said to be reliable in non-religious matters which leads some to trust him in the matter of the existence of the Plates. But he went through the Temple Ceremony in Salt Lake City pretending he believed in it and he did not. Also, the plates were not the important thing but the correct translation by supernatural means was for God could have the plates in Heaven or what was on them in his memory if they were destroyed and dictate the contents to Smith on earth. Everybody who has religious delusions needs to lie or deceive concerning non-religious things. For example, if you are going to say that you can predict the future you are doing something that will affect the material world so if you tell a religious lie its intertwined with reality. So Harris being reliable in non-religious things does not mean that he would have been reliable about the plates for the plates were part of a religious story.
David Whitmer mentioned an old man carrying what seemed to be the plates to Smith one day and later the man showed the plates to David’s mother. But there is insufficient detail so perhaps all she saw was a brass box in the darkness of a bag. Perhaps she only imagined she saw a book shape in the bag later on. We all make mistakes like that. Some say the lack of the supernatural in the tale attests to there being some truth in it. But that is no comfort to Mormonism.
Smith’s mother wrote that Joseph hid the plates three miles from the house. Gold Plates 6x8 inches and 6 inches thick would be too hard to carry and would not have been put that far away. The plates would weigh at least 117 pounds if they were 8 carat gold for gold is a very dense and heavy metal. But she says they were hidden three miles away showing that Smith never had plates at all. It was something lighter he was carrying.
Smith’s mother wrote a book about Joseph. She said that the day he got the plates he jumped over a log and a man suddenly jumped up and attacked him from behind and hit him hard with a gun and Smith ran home as fast as he could after he pushed him to the ground (The Case Against Mormonism, page 38). This suggests the Plates were not heavy and were not gold but fakes for gold is too heavy.
Mormons say that Smith had them under his arm and could have left them down before jumping. But he would have been in trouble if he had to reach over the log again for them for that would have given the man with the gun time to get to his feet again. He must have had the plates the whole time. A man with heavy plates could not fight so well and we are told that Smith managed to fight two more attackers after that! These attacks were unexpected and if Smith had anything valuable with him he would not have carried it after the second attack in case he would have to fight again and risk his precious burden. But she says he went on to the house with the plates. This tells us that if Smith was carrying anything it was not gold plates.
It is objected that the plates would have weighed one hundred and seventeen pounds which was not too heavy for a strong man like Joseph to carry (page 38). This depends on the speculative notion that the plates were not pure gold for pure gold would have been too soft to use as a record. Pure gold would be the ominous two-hundred pounds. It would be ominous for the truth of the Mormon tale. Never did Smith or anybody else who claimed to have seen the plates ever say that the plates were not pure gold. Because the idea that the plates were not pure gold is pure speculation arguments like this, “When Joseph did not know that the Plates were not pure gold and gave evidence that they were not pure gold it shows that he really had Plates”, are unreasonable. Lies often do not add up and Mormons are using some of Smith’s mistakes and turning them into evidence for Mormonism. Such approaches could only work with people who do not know how to think.
Howe’s affidavits state that Smith said that he carried white sand home in his frock and jokingly told his family that it was a golden book and they believed him. This was the start of the whole thing. Occam’s Razor says that if Smith said he had gold plates and this was not likely to be true or if there was just his word then it is not true that Smith had gold plates.
Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer were into forgery and theft according to a legal document from 1841 (page 12, The Case Against Mormonism, Vol 2). Some say the evil murderous thieving Mormon Church deserved this treatment and it is understandable that these men did these things to harm it. Though they were wrong, they understandably thought they were doing right. But nevertheless God was depending on them to keep out of trouble for the sake of their testimony. He would not have chosen such unsavoury characters. They would have found the society they were in at the time they testified to the Book of Mormon to be evil murderous and thieving and hypocritical so who is to say that they did not lie to upset it?
Cowdery became a Methodist after leaving the Mormon Church and he renounced Mormonism fully according to an affidavit that also said he was a decent man (page 15, The Case Against Mormonism, Vol 2). Cowdery never disclosed anything about the origin of the Book of Mormon or the Mormon Church during this time (page 16). When he renounced his former faith fully he probably renounced the Book of Mormon as well. He could not have been admitted into the Methodist Church which insists on belief in the Bible alone if he had believed in the Book of Mormon which contradicted the Bible and added to it and to become a Methodist means you have to accept its list of dogmas and primarily its only source of authority the Bible. The Mormon Church says Cowdery joined the Methodists to avoid persecution and that this was no worse than Smith becoming a Mason and Paul going back to the Jewish practice of faith to get living. But Paul believed that the Jewish law was still valid for Jews though it was optional. Smith defected to a form of paganism. Masonry is not for Christ so it is against him for the insane Jesus illogically said that whoever was not for him was opposed to him. Cowdery could have joined a less dogmatic Protestant group that might have tolerated his belief in the Book of Mormon. He did not so his conversion to Methodism constitutes a denial of the Book of Mormon. There were plenty of looser church organisations that he could have joined that would not have required him to take a statement of faith saying the Bible alone was God’s word. The Mormon Church says he had to join Methodism to evade persecution. The burden of proof then is on them to prove that he had no alternative which they certainly cannot do and they have the nerve not to try well.
Cowdery later said that he was sure that he had seen the angel Moroni and that Moroni said that the plates were true and that the Book of Mormon contained the whole gospel (page 17). At this time, he was still hostile to the Mormons. However, Brigham Young’s assertion that Oliver said he knew the Book of Mormon was true when he practiced law in Michigan has been proven false. Young stated that Cowdery claimed that one time he and Joseph took the gold plates back to the Hill Cumorah that the hill opened and they were in an Aladdin’s cave full of treasure and that there were wagon loads of plates within (Journal of Discourses 1878). Even Mormons these days deny that the hill near Smith’s home was Cumorah. But Smith and Cowdery and Young believed that it was and the first two claimed to know that it was. The Mormons say this visit to the hill was a visionary symbolic act. It never really happened except in visions. Copouts!
Cowdery lied in 1848 that almost the entire Book of Mormon was translated through the magic glasses, the Urim and Thummim and not Smith's seer stone. "I wrote, with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as he translated it by the gift and power of God, by the means of the Urim and Thummim, or, as it is called by that book, “Holy Interpreters.”[See Source]. In actual fact, eyewitnesses Emma Smith, Martin Harris and David Whitmer, to name some, declared that the stone was used all the time Cowdery was Smith's scribe. Please read the following http://www.mormonthink.com/essays-bom-translation.htm.
Cowdery died denying that the revelations Smith received apart from the Book of Mormon were true (page 29) but the trouble with this is that these revelations were necessary for the creation of the Book of Mormon and they were God testifying to Joseph that the book was true and what had to be done to bring it forth. Cowdery could not in all honesty do this so he died with a lie on his lips. Being a former Methodist and being accustomed to the idea that those who believe are guaranteed salvation he would not have been afraid. When this very important witness to the Book of Mormon says that Smith was capable of gross religious fraud and can’t prove that Smith translated the Book of Mormon right while knowing that it was only the word of a full-time rogue that it was done right it shows that Cowdery did not fulfil the prophecy of the Book of Mormon that three witnesses would be divinely chosen by God to convince the world for you would not call that a witness for he would be laughed out of court.
Mormons say, ”Some of the witnesses had reputations for fraud and lying and did not worry about it. And regardless of how much they hated Smith they did not confess that the Plates never existed. They could have been famous for confessing. The anti-Mormons would have been forever grateful and delighted. They would have saved themselves from much persecution and trouble. The witnesses claimed that they had knowingly followed a fallen prophet who altered the revelations in Doctrine and Covenants so why could none of them admit that there were no Plates if that were the case? Even when Oliver Cowdery joined the Methodists after breaking with Smith he was renowned for his honesty and reliability and never said there were no Plates despite joining a Church that could not admit a person believing in the Book of Mormon as the word of God.” The Mormon Church lays stress on free agency and holds that man is freer than conventional Christianity would admit. This means that the strings God pulls in Catholicism and Protestantism to manipulate the will of man are being denied. The Mormon God could not simply afford to risk using these witnesses. It is a strange argument that says liars can be relied upon.
All the witnesses wanted to help in the formation of a new religion and they had gone to a lot of trouble and inconvenience even before they got any evidence from Heaven for Smith and his work meaning they were unduly biased to start with. Their desire to go down in history like apostles was why they could not say anything and they still wanted to create a religion of their own even after they rejected Smith. If one witness went to the trouble of considering denying his testimony the fact that there were several others to contradict him would have put him off.
When the stone box on the hill that Smith found the plates in was never found why should we believe anything else Smith said about the plates? Smith once said that there were men on the moon dressed like Quakers. The Mormon apologists say that only one Mormon journal said this and they do not believe it because there is nothing to support it. But the Mormons take one man’s word for several things they believe so they should in this one. They take just one testimony as true in relation to some of the prophecies that Smith made that came true. Of course Smith had to be right sometime and many times you can see what is 50% or more likely to happen and chances are your predictions will be right most of the time. But the moon men prophecy was recorded by top Mormon Oliver Broadman Huntington who said that he knew Smith said it and that Smith even described the clothes they wore (page 78, How to Answer a Mormon). The Mormons are casting aside an eyewitness testimony just because they don’t like it. They will say the prophecy was written down too long after the time it was spoken to be reliable. But in this case there can’t be smoke without fire. Memories are accurate with such startling interesting revelations so time is irrelevant. Huntington did not give a huge pile of detail but the amount that would be expected after such a long time. Had he written too much it would mean he was imagining memories or was using a diary from the times. The prophecy was printed in a Mormon journal and you can be sure they would have made sure it was authentic before they published it. The doctrine that there were men on the moon had major implications for Mormon theology. The Mormons could not see how their Gods could make planets that were destined to be empty when the Gods’ glory depended on having as many children as possible.
Moroni took the plates back to Heaven. Very convenient. He should have at least have told Smith to copy as many characters as possible off the plates for posterity to see if the work was a genuine translation. Moroni did not take the papyrus Smith utilised to make the Book of Abraham back. So he could have left the Book of Mormon behind. God could have protected it against thieves. Mormons say that having the book would still not convince unbelievers.
The Mormon Church says that computer tests to determine the authorship of the Book of Mormon detected in 1979 that Joseph Smith’s style does not match the Book of Mormon and neither does it show the signs of the authorship of anyone else who reputedly had a part in it. The tests reportedly showed that at least 24 different authors were involved. This research was done at Brigham Young University. The naked eye can tell what is wrong with this. First of all, you have only to read the Book of Mormon to see that it has a very limited vocabulary. Secondly, since Nephi wrote the abridgment that is the first two books and Mormon mostly wrote the rest with a bit of help from Moroni and so there should only be three styles. The tests are unreliable. Also the Book borrows texts from the King James Bible and the Apocrypha and the Westminster Confession of Faith which give a change to the style. Plus some of Smiths prophecies and his 1832 account of a vision which are written in old-fashioned language show that Smith wrote the Book of Mormon for they could easily be parts of it. The Church used the History of the Church to see what Smith’s style was but most of it was written after he died. Diaries and letters from Smith that should have been used were suppressed and not given for the tests. The tests are futile. They do not show that Smith was telling the truth and that there were plates. (The Salt Lake City Messenger, Issue No 41, December 1979).
It is disturbing that the Book of Mormon makes it a law to give up one tenth of your property to the Church. Jesus quoted Malachi which commands tithing in the name of God (3 Nephi 24) which means that the law of tithing was not done away by the resurrection and so is still in force. Few Churches are greedy enough to look for tithes which shows that the Book of Mormon was intended to be foisted on biblebelievers and to lighten their pockets.
The Book of Mormon says that it was written in Reformed Egyptian though Hebrew would have been better for it was clearer and smaller. Egyptian picture writing takes up loads of space and is only taking up time too. The inscriptions on the Plates were as small as possible to make them fit which was a load of stupid unnecessary work when Hebrew would have done. It is mad to believe that the tale that there was a golden book that had Reformed Egyptian instead of the more accurate, advanced and suitable Hebrew. If the plates were too small, then write in Hebrew and besides the Nephites had plenty of gold and silver to make new plates.
There is evidence from the Book of Mormon itself that the plates didn’t exist. The book is replete with errors and anachronisms.
THE STRANGITE AFFAIR
Smith’s mother and Martin Harris and all the living witnesses to the Book of Mormon joined the Strangites after Smith’s demise. This was a sect that claimed that James Jesse Strang was Joseph’s successor and it boasted a short revelation written on tiny plates of brass that had four witnesses and another revelation, The Book of the Law, which was written on the brass plates of Laban mentioned in the Book of Mormon and like the Book of Mormon it was miraculously translated. It has been thought that they were unreliable when they followed a Church that used fake plates and had a few witnesses for them.
The Mormons reply: “But the witnesses to the fake plates were not from their number and they were attracted to the Strangites because of a forged letter from Smith appointing Strang as his successor and an antipathy towards Brigham Young among other things. It was not their fault if the witnesses to the plates of the Book of the Law led them astray. The Book of the Law is certainly not scripture for the Church based on it is nearly dead and the kingdom and prophecies it makes failed. Plus it was written by a false prophet who lied and cheated in his effort to become Smith’s successor. He forged a letter from Joseph Smith appointing him as the new prophet. The fact that they believed in Strang highlights that they must have had real experiences of the golden plates.”
Despite the fact that its witnesses never ever admitted that there were no plates and that Strang was a phoney the story is unbelievable though they were ten times better than Smith’s visionaries. That ought to be a warning to us. Smith’s evidence is proven worthless all the same. Competing claims cancel each other out. Belief is to be based on evidence that is credible.
Strang’s witnesses claimed they closely examined his plates and saw that they were old and held them. If Smith’s witnesses believed that they saw the plates by some kind of vision inside their heads which the evidence indicates, they would have been very attracted to Strang and his more solid plates for it would have been confirmation to them that their own experiences were real and not just imagination. It is not evidence that they were wholly sure of their own experience before that.
If the Smith witnesses had really seen anything strange they should have been able to tell by Strang’s if they were fakes. Smith’s witnesses believed that Strang’s forged letter from Joseph Smith was real. So they could not be trusted then as witnesses to the plates.
The story of the golden plates is a pack of lies. Smith manipulated his witnesses. There was nothing stopping the angel of God from leaving the plates with us instead of taking them back to Heaven. That is just a cover for there having been no plates in the first place.
HOW DID SMITH FIND THE PLATES?
Smith claimed that the angel Moroni led him to find the plates in a hill near his home.
The earliest story was that Smith found the Plates and the translator stones by looking in a stone found at Mason Chase. Smith was an occultist and a money-digger and Mormonism believes that occultism is consorting with the Devil. Mormonism argues: “The statements collected by Howe can all be fitted together to corroborate the basic story of a Golden Bible found by Joseph Smith and when different witnesses agree on the main details that is all we need.” One thing is for sure, you cannot accept what Howe wrote about the plates as authenticating Mormonism unless you accept the version the Howe book gave of the finding of the plates which undermines the Mormon version and that the Smiths schemed to make money out of the plates story and even that Joseph denied they could be translated. And Howe’s affidavits gave no evidence whatsoever that there really were plates.
Howes work never denies the existence of the plates which is an indication of honesty though Mormons put no trust in it except where it suits them. But it only says without expressing approval or disapproval regarding the report that Joseph Smith’s father sometimes denied that the plates existed and that the Smiths were often falsely claiming to have found buried treasure. The affidavits cannot be used to verify the existence of the plates.