How to Disprove the Book of Mormon.
Updated: Mar 10
Ex-Latter-day Saint -
My question is what would it take to disprove the BOM? Every field of science says no such civilization ever existed in the Americas. Despite the anachronisms, lack of evidence, etc... apologists stick out their tongue saying you can’t prove us wrong. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The onus is on the church. The church tells us who we can have sex with and in what position. What we can and cannot drink. When is it the right time to get a vasectomy. How much of our income we need to donate but can’t produce a single shred of evidence supporting the BOM other than people lived in the Americas and killed each other from time to time. I don’t understand how a thinking person can accept such a crackpot story. Be prepared for the “translation” to be down graded to “inspiration” just as the Book Of Abraham was. I’m no longer LDS and am not a disgruntled bloke.
What would it take? Whatever it takes. There are many things that you must be able to answer. You must be able and willing to dive deep into the matter and dedicate your life to the discovery of truth. But I wonder, first, before I tell you what it takes, how far are you willing to go in your search for truth?
Ex-Latter-day Saint -
What’s the process for the deep dive?
I’m not sure I understand why “Inspiration” is a downgrade from “Translation”, last time I checked they pretty much mean the same thing. But no matter that’s not what we are discussing.
I am glad you would accept my challenge. I see this as a sign that you are indeed not “a disgruntled bloke” and are instead a true seeker of truth. You seem like a come-what-may kind of guy.
It won’t be easy disproving the Book of Mormon but it could be possible. Disproving the BOM means that you can have sex with whoever you want or drink and smoke and eat anything you want or when to get a vasectomy without worrying about how much tithing you have to pay. If the BOM does turn out to be true in your search then it means that you will have to face all that the Book and the Church teaches.
You must be willing to answer what does the world and yourself mean in accordance with the BOM being true or not. You must be willing to accept any and all truth that comes to you as you seek it out. Even if it’s a truth you don’t like, especially if it’s a truth you don’t like, be the BOM true or not. Therefore you must be humble and courageous in your search, bravery is a necessity.
In order to disprove the BOM, you can’t simply look at it from an archeological point of view.
From Wikipedia, we read: “Throughout this region, many hundreds of Maya sites have been documented in at least some form by archaeological surveys and investigations, while the numbers of smaller/uninvestigated (or unknown) sites are so numerous (one study has documented over 4,400 Maya sites) that no complete archaeological list has yet been made.”
Non-Latter-Day Saint Archeologist Edwin Barnhart commented saying: “Less than one percent of Mesoamerica has been professionally surveyed.” (Barnhart and Liulevicius, Maya to Aztec, 325) So the odds that there are undiscovered steel or chariots in Mesoamerica is about 98%. While you are correct in your bold statement, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” keep in mind that another famous quote reads,"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” You need to find evidence that speaks contradictions to what is found in the Book of Mormon.
On the other side, if we did ever find rock which reads “Nephi was here” then that wouldn’t be evidence that the Book of Mormon is true, we only would have shown that someone did indeed once hold the name Nephi. If we also found a city with a sign which read “Welcome to Zarahemla” we still would not have proven the Book of Mormon to be true only that there was a city called Zarahemla, we would not be able to tell if the events as told in the BOM really did happen there or not. Likewise with the Title of Liberty. Although it would be a cause for further investigation if we did find the Title of Liberty only have it read something contrary to what was written in the Book of Mormon.
Archeology doesn’t work unless you are willing to be like Indiana Jones and investigate the rest of the 98% of Mesoamerica.
Perhaps DNA? There has been no evidence of Hebrew DNA found in any Native American. However, then there is that quote again, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” There is evidence in the Book of Mormon that the Americas were not uninhabited when Nephi and crew arrived, the reason why the population grew so fast could be because they integrated with the other civilizations, such as with the Olmecs, Maya, or Aztec. (Although one indeed might wonder why the Book of Mormon never recognizes these ancient civilizations by name.) Eventually through all of the inter breading the Hebrew DNA may have become so small as to be practically non-existent, despite there being little to no Hebrew DNA left in them they still called themselves Lamanites.
Jim Bennet once made this comment:
“What’s important to realize is that science rarely, if ever, reaches a final answer. It is always open to new information, some of which it received in 2013 when a study determined that some Native Americans do, in fact, have Middle Eastern and European DNA. Another 2014 study found that “Cherokee Native Americans have Middle Eastern ancestry - ancestry that cannot be accounted for by modern admixture, but which is rooted in the ancient origins of the people.”
Indeed, a great deal of scientific information has come out about Native American origins since you first published your letter and the Church published its essay. The Journal of Nature conducted research that found that the conventional theory about an initial migration across a Bering Strait ice bridge is probably false. As reported in the LA Times, the journal Science discovered evidence of Australian and Micronesian ancestry in Native American DNA and concluded that “that founding migrations occurred in more than one wave.”
Certainly, none of this proves the Book of Mormon - are Australian Nephites fair dinkum? - but it demonstrates that reaching a sweeping, final conclusion about Native American origins is, at this point, scientifically impossible.” https://canonizer.com/files/reply.pdf
DNA, Archeology, and other Scientific methods don’t work in attempting to disprove or prove the Book of Mormon. The best approach in how to properly disprove the Book of Mormon is you must look back at how Joseph Smith produced the book in the first place. Was it a miraculous feat or a dingy and poor excuse to start up a false religion? The following questions need addressing first:
1. Could the Book of Mormon have been plagiarized? If so then what book?
If it was then I have yet to find what book Joseph Smith could have used in his plagiarism. You will need to correctly identify that book or books.
The most popular theory is that he used Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews. However, most who posit this theory have never actually read the book and are just going off of LDS apostle B. H. Robert’s list of parallels. I have read View of the Hebrews and compared it with the Book of Mormon by going through each individual point on Robert’s list and identifying quotes from each book which best represent each point. I was unable to find any connection besides a few vague parallels from the list. The Book of Mormon reads like a person’s personal Journal whereas the View of the Hebrews reads like a boring history textbook.
The next popular theory is KJV-styled texts called the Late War and the First Book of Napoleon. However, the parallels here are only just again vague parallels like View of the Hebrews. The other thing people point out is how the texts use KJV language similar to the Book of Mormon, but this makes me wonder if there were any KJV-styled texts in the early 1800s which Joseph Smith did not potentially plagiarize from.
And then there is Solomon Spaulding’s Manuscript Found, this is the least popular theory for the following reason as we read from Tad R. Callister’s 2016 BYU talk:
“… with the passage of time, the manuscript was found in 1884 by a Mr. L. L. Rice. He found the alleged smoking gun in the personal historical papers of one of the very critics who had claimed the manuscript was lost. Knowing of its alleged connection to the Book of Mormon, Mr. Rice, Mr. James Fairchild, and others (none of whom were members of the LDS Church), reviewed it and concluded, “[We] compared it with the Book of Mormon and could detect no resemblance between the two, in general, or in detail.
When I was in my twenties, I saw a notice from the Church History Department that stated that a copy of the Solomon Spaulding manuscript could be purchased for a dollar. I ordered a copy and likewise found no meaningful relationship whatsoever between the two books.”(https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/tad-r-callister_book-mormon-man-made-god-given/)
And so it goes that most potential sources for Book of Mormon plagiarism are just a bunch of vague parallels with no real meaningful connections to the Book of Mormon. I once imagined a space ship for a sci-fi story I once came up with in high school only to later be shown that exact same space ship in 2001: a Space Odyssey, a movie I had never known much about before hand. I feel like if you give me any two books or movies that you feel are extremely far apart from each other I could still find vague parallels between the two. Couch T. actually has an entire YouTube channel dedicated to showing how two extremely far apart movies have many parallels, and something tells me that most of the parallels shown are unintentional. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQXVW9jnUEc)
The best candidate I can think of for Book of Mormon plagiarism is the KJV bible itself. The Book of Mormon has entire passages from Isaiah, Paul, and others. Even so, the entire Book of Mormon still has a uniqueness about it that is nowhere to be found in the Bible. The majority of the Book of Mormon is extremely unique with only some passages from the Bible here and there.
If you can identify the book that Smith used to plagiarize the Book of Mormon then it would need to be a book with such crazy similarities to the book that go beyond just vague parallels. If found it would need to share all of the Book of Mormon’s complexities. If you can find this book then it would perfectly explain how poor uneducated farm boy Joseph managed to create such a book as the Book of Mormon.
2. Is the Book of Mormon just something Joseph Smith could have just written?
First, we need to know if the boy was well educated enough to pull off such a feat. Some suggest that because he came from a background where the religious talk was rampant and everywhere that he was easily influenced by the teachings. Others point out how Joseph Smith Sr. was a school teacher and how Alvin Smith (the older brother) went to college.
Unfortunately, there are no records stating that young Joseph Smith Jr. had the education required to write the Book of Mormon. There are no records of Joseph having graduated college or even attending one.
There are likewise no records of Joseph having had the preparation needed to write such a book. There are no records of Joseph having written anything before the Book of Mormon to show that he had at least the tiniest understanding of how to construct even a basic letter but there is evidence that suggests to the contrary. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeQJ_T0q134&t=68s
Emma Smith said:
“My belief is that the Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity - I have not the slightest doubt of it. I am satisfied that no man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when acting as his scribe, your father would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he could at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him. This was a usual thing for him to do. It would have been improbable that a learned man could do this; and, for one so ignorant and unlearned as he was, it was simply impossible.”
3. Where did all of the Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon come from?
The Book of Mormon is simply too complex for the uneducated Joseph Smith to have written. It has a multitude of ancient Hebrew writing styles used to a masterful degree such as what is shown in the video above as well as the masterful way the chiasmus is used in Alma 36 in which we see the entire chapter is one big chiasmus. I had way more education than Smith when I left on my mission, there I read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelations and never once picked up on chiasmus until I was plainly told about it.
Other hebraisms would include “for an inheritance”, creating names by suffixing -on to the tri-consonantal root, Hebrew idioms and cognate accusative structures, Repetition of the word "and" in the Book of Mormon, Adverbials in the Book of Mormon, Antenantiosis in the Book of Mormon, Hebrew clauses in the Book of Mormon, Colophons in the Book of Mormon, Conjunctions in the Book of Mormon, Cognates in the Book of Mormon, Construct state in the Book of Mormon, The divine feminine in the Book of Mormon, The phrase "It came to pass" in the Book of Mormon, Use of numbers in the Book of Mormon, Ancient poetry and the Book of Mormon, Prepositions and the Book of Mormon, Pronouns and the Book of Mormon, The "land of Jerusalem" in the Book of Mormon, Hebrew forms of parallelism in the Book of Mormon, Use of the plural in the Book of Mormon, Repetition of the Definite Article in the Book of Mormon, Simile curses in the Book of Mormon, The Tree of Life in the Book of Mormon, Merismus in the Book of Mormon, Prophetic speech in the Book of Mormon, Names and titles of Deity in the Book of Mormon, Anapodoton, etc. (https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Book_of_Mormon/Evidences/Hebraisms)
4. How is it that the book rivals even the greatest novelists?
Stylometry studies have been used to show that the Book of Mormon has multiple distinct writing styles and that each writing style is consistent with the designated prophets who were said to have written in the Book of Mormon or who had their writings compiled into the Book of Mormon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBcAKdbCbEc&t=122s
Another study showed how the BOM has a consistent 28 district voices which are more than Cooper, Austin, Twain, and Dickens 8 novels each combined. Most of these works by these esteemed authors came after writing many books beforehand and Joseph, the uneducated farm boy, somehow managed to surpass them all in one go? How embarrassing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ke4d7HXae0&t=2s
LOTR is freakin awesome (the movies, I haven’t read the books yet) and I really respect Tolkien. But this is really something. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8-fpaNA78c&t=1s
For more Book of Mormon complexities see the following videos:
How is it that the Book of Mormon, supposedly written by Joseph Smith according to critics, can put all of these writers to shame? My guess is it’s because the Book of Mormon is no ordinary book, it’s not a fictional novel but a real history. It might sound ridiculous but it’s the best I can think of.
Consider also this talk:
5. Could someone else have written the Book of Mormon?
The only plausible person I can think of that could have written the Book of Mormon is Oliver Cowdery as he was the one who was with Joseph Smith the most during the Book of Mormon translation. Martin Harris had gone elsewhere after he lost the 116 pages, Emma Smith was busy doing housewife stuff, and Sydney Rigdon had yet to come onto the scene.
Yes, only Oliver is the best candidate for writing the Book of Mormon. He was a school teacher who later became a lawyer. So it is reasonable to assume that he had somewhat of some proper education to have written the Book of Mormon. However, there are still some problems with this theory as out lined by Tad R. Callister:
"…a major problem arose for the critics: Oliver never claimed to have written any portion of the book; in fact, he testified to the contrary:
“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. . . . That book is true.7
“Even though Oliver was excommunicated from the Church and it was some years before he returned, he remained true at all times to his testimony, even on his deathbed. As a result, this argument receives little acceptance today.”
If he did write the BOM then why didn’t he come out when he was excommunicated to declare himself the author, it would have been the perfect time to do so? Oliver had many things to gain by claiming authorship for the Book of Mormon and just about everything to lose by maintaining his testimony.
6. Where did the Gold Plates come from?
It doesn’t seem likely that Joseph could have had the plates forged or even had the money to buy them or get them forged. So maybe he didn’t have the plates and he just made the whole thing up, you would only need to then contend with the numerous witnesses that testified that they did indeed see the plates with their eyes as you see your hand, as Martin Harris put it. With the combination of the 8 with the 3 witnesses, it just seems less likely to have been an illusion. Emma Smith has the most basic of witness as one day while cleaning she stroked the leaves of the plates and heard a kind of metal.
Despite most of the witnesses being excommunicated and some joining other churches, none of them ever denied their testimony of the plates. Many of the excommunicated members had been beaten to near death and they still didn’t deny their testimonies, such as Hyrum page. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHvc3t6J6QI
7. How is it that Joseph Smith created a book that so many people were willing to suffer and even die for their testimonies of the book?
If Joseph Smith was a fraud then he would have been a great murderer as well, almost like a mini-Hitler, as he was the cause of thousands of deaths. He could have revealed that the book was a fraud at any time to spare his people’s suffering and yet he never did. Why?
Jeffery R. Holland had this to say about it:
"… When Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum started for Carthage to face what they knew would be an imminent martyrdom, Hyrum read these words to comfort the heart of his brother:
“Thou hast been faithful; wherefore … thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.
“And now I, Moroni, bid farewell … until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ.”7
A few short verses from the 12th chapter of Ether in the Book of Mormon. Before closing the book, Hyrum turned down the corner of the page from which he had read, marking it as part of the everlasting testimony for which these two brothers were about to die. I hold in my hand that book, the very copy from which Hyrum read, the same corner of the page turned down, still visible. Later, when actually incarcerated in the jail, Joseph the Prophet turned to the guards who held him captive and bore a powerful testimony of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.8 Shortly thereafter pistol and ball would take the lives of these two testators.
As one of a thousand elements of my own testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon, I submit this as yet one more evidence of its truthfulness. In this their greatest—and last—hour of need, I ask you: would these men blaspheme before God by continuing to fix their lives, their honor, and their own search for eternal salvation on a book (and by implication a church and a ministry) they had fictitiously created out of whole cloth?
Never mind that their wives are about to be widows and their children fatherless. Never mind that their little band of followers will yet be “houseless, friendless and homeless” and that their children will leave footprints of blood across frozen rivers and an untamed prairie floor.9 Never mind that legions will die and other legions live declaring in the four quarters of this earth that they know the Book of Mormon and the Church which espouses it to be true. Disregard all of that, and tell me whether in this hour of death these two men would enter the presence of their Eternal Judge quoting from and finding solace in a book which, if not the very word of God, would brand them as imposters and charlatans until the end of time? They would not do that! They were willing to die rather than deny the divine origin and the eternal truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still, it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died—from Ethan Smith to Solomon Spaulding to deranged paranoid to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this, I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”10
I testify that one cannot come to full faith in this latter-day work—and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these, our times—until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages—especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers—if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense, the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, … a rock of offense,”11 a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.”…
I ask that my testimony of the Book of Mormon and all that it implies, given today under my own oath and office, be recorded by men on earth and angels in heaven. I hope I have a few years left in my “last days,” but whether I do or do not, I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days.”
8. How is it that such a book as the BOM could have inspired so many with such grand testimonies of Jesus and of Miracles?
Consider the following talks:
and many more.
9. How is it that the Book of Mormon was capable of being the bedrock for the restoration of so many lost and forgotten Christian doctrines?
Consider the following:
If you can honestly and truthfully answer each individual question, having read and watched all of the links that I have provided you, missing nothing, cherry-picking nothing, then you can finally consider the Book of Mormon to be false. Many people who attack the Book of Mormon make the mistake of using a multitude of logical fallacies in their arguments, avoid these like a plague least anyone should consider you to be a lying fraud. The ones most used are:
If you wish to turn your findings into a book then this man gives some great advice: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/hugh-nibley_write-anti-mormon-book/
Do this, disprove the Book of Mormon, and you would have done something that no single person up until now has been able to do. You will be greatly looked up to and you will be celebrated for your bravery.