Monday, July 4, 2016

Is the Book of Mormon from God?

Book of Mormon
LDS royalty free image

There are numerous books that claim to be messages to mankind from God. By far the most popular in the United States are the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Koran.

In a previous article we postulated that the Koran was not inspired by God, based on one simple fact: It disagrees with the Bible on several major, doctrinal points.

How could God author a book in which Jesus is referred to as his “only-begotten son,” then author another book in which it is written that it would be impossible for him to beget a son? How could He write in the Bible that He hates divorce, then write in the Koran that divorce is okay?

A similar test of the Book of Mormon should quickly tell us whether it is from the mind of the same Universal Sovereign as the Bible.

The Bible is very clear about who God is. He is called “Father,” “Jehovah,” “Almighty,” “Creator.” Of him, 1 Corinthians 8:6 says, “To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things.” In over 70 places in the Bible, THE Father refers to Jehovah God. While Jesus is called a father in some contexts – Just as he is called a ‘warrior’ in some contexts and a ‘prince of peace’ in others – he never took on himself the title of THE Father, nor was it given to him by any other Bible writer.

In one place, the Book of Mormon agrees: “Mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me.” (Moses 1:6)

However, in other places, the Book of Mormon seems to disagree: "He that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me. For behold, I am the Father." (Ether 3:12) “This is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.” (2 Nephi 31:21) So the Book of Mormon contradicts both the Bible and itself as to who God is.

What did they know and when did they know it?

The Book of Mormon is claimed to have been written from about 600 years B.C.E. to about 50 years before Jesus. So it is particularly jarring to come across passages that reveal a knowledge that did not exist at that time.

For example, Mosiah 3:7, purportedly written as a prophecy over 100 years before Jesus died, describes Jesus as losing blood “from every pore.” Since skin pores weren’t discovered until after the invention of the microscope, about 200 years before Joseph Smith lived, why would the first century B.C.E. writer of Mosiah have used a term with which readers were unfamiliar?

Granted it’s a nit-picky argument. I’m sure a Mormon would say that it was Joseph Smith’s loose interpretation of a medical term. I'm sure a good Mormon would never admit that the account in Mosiah was plagiarizing the gospel of Luke. Luke, a physician, said about Jesus that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” 

Nevertheless, Luke got it right; why didn’t Mosiah?

How about this one: “They did spread forth into all parts of the land, into whatever parts it had not been rendered desolate and without timber, because of the many inhabitants who had before inherited the land. And there being but little timber upon the face of the land, nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly expert in the working of cement; therefore they did build houses of cement, in the which they did dwell.” (Helaman 3: 5-7)

I’m not arguing with their knowledge of cement; it has been used as far back as ancient Egypt. The sea wall creating the harbor of Caesarea (where Peter baptized Cornelius) was made of concrete.

No, the problem I have with this passage is twofold: One, the harbor wall of Caesarea is still around; so where are all these ‘cement houses’ the Nephites were supposed to have built in North America? And two, the writer claims that the forests had been decimated by the former inhabitants of the land. When the timber industry began here logging operations made their fortunes cutting down what we now refer to as “old growth” timber – millions of trees that in many cases were thousands of years old. Being greedy and shortsighted, they did virtually decimate the countryside, so much so that, by Joseph Smith’s day, firewood and lumber needed in Boston had to be hauled from Vermont.

However, that devastation was accomplished because of the industrial revolution... steel saws, steam engines, and so on. How did the pre-industrial-age predecessors of the Nephites, using stone implements, decimate the forests?

There's a lot more. In a future column, we’ll discuss the ‘Mormon submarine,' what the Book of Mormon says about race, and more. Stay tuned.

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