When I started out on this journey through Mormon theology, I had no idea that it would require this much attention. Not since my study of Islam has a topic been this intensive, and I am glad for it. It amazes me just how the Enemy works. His efforts are unending, and he makes up for his lack of creativity with an almost unparalleled understanding of human nature and Scripture. When he loses, he does not give up, he simply looks for another avenue of approach, and we humans are only too happy to help him with it.
When Satan was revealing the Qur’an through Muhammad, he found a way to tap into humanity’s inherent tendency toward violence, deceit, and authoritarianism. He created a system which provided humans with a deity that is easy to understand, distant, and as volatile as we are. He also created a system that differs enough from Scripture to be easily refuted, which was a bit of an oversight on his part, much to the delight of Christian apologists throughout the next 1,400 years.
When it came to Mormonism, the Enemy took a much more peaceful tack, but chose to hang on to a few choice tactics. In my debate with my most recent opponent, he provided an example that came straight out of the Qur’an: the argument from literary excellence. I was absolutely stunned to see this one, but there it was on my screen.
Regarding the Book of Jacob, chapter 5, my Mormon friend said it “is so incredibly perfect that no farm boy of the 19th century, or even a Biblical scholar of the time could write it. It couldn’t even be written now. I wonder where it came from.” This is the classic argument from literary excellence, circa 6th and 7th Century Saudi Arabia, when Muhammad revealed Qur’an 2:23-24, “And if you are in doubt as to that which We have revealed to Our servant, then produce a chapter like it and call on your witnesses besides Allah if you are truthful. But if you do (it) not and never shall you do (it), then be on your guard against the fire of which men and stones are the fuel; it is prepared for the unbelievers.” (emphasis added) It’s an absolutely fallacious argument that simply demands that we abandon logic and reason in favor of emotional smoke and mirrors.
So, what is this argument attempting to shield us from? A story with holes in it big enough to drive a van through, and numerous enough to be reminiscent of a colander. In fact, it takes more faith, I think, to believe that Joseph Smith, Jr was a prophet of God than it would take to believe that the earth is flat. That being said, let us now examine the facts that clearly refute the Book of Mormon, and highlight the lie that is Mormon theology.
What is contained within the pages of the Book of Mormon? At its most basic, the Book of Mormon chronicles the story of a group of Jews arriving in the New World around 600 B.C., after fleeing Jerusalem, led by a patriarch named Lehi, and the other civilizations they encounter here. It tells of how Lehi’s sons become the foundation of two civilizations: the Nephites and the Lamanites.
These are the descendants of Nephi, son of Lehi. Though they are initially righteous, they eventually fall into all manner of Sin and error, eventually losing all favor with the Lord. In the end, they are ultimately destroyed by the Lamanites in approximately 385 A.D.
These are the descendants of Laman, son of Lehi. Though they are initially unrighteous, and exist as enemies of the Nephites, they eventually become the good guys, and utterly destroy the Nephites. The Book of Mormon also identifies the Lamanites as being the primary ancestors of the American Indians.
This group appeared long before Lehi arrived with his family. They are descended from Jared and his brothers, and began their migration after the confounding of tongues at the Tower of Babel. This migration is said to have taken place through the use of special barges that carried them across the ocean, and the Jaredites are found primarily in the Book of Ether.
This group is descended from Mulek, son of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah after the Babylonian conquest. It is said that Mulek traveled to the Americas, settled, and founded a new civilization.
To begin, there is absolutely no evidence to substantiate the claims made in the Book of Mormon. When you consider that civilizations tend to leave behind evidence of their existence for others to find, the fact that there is no evidence of Jewish settlement anywhere in the New World prior to 1492 A.D. seems to clearly point to the idea that the Book of Mormon is utterly false. If the Nephites and Lamanites arrived in the Americas in approximately 600 B.C., and the Lamanites destroyed the Nephites in approximately 385 A.D., that means that they were there for nearly 1,000 years. Yet, there is no evidence that they were there.
Plants, Animals, and Tech
According to the archeological record, a great many things mentioned by the Book of Mormon simply did not exist in the pre-Columbian Americas. According to the Smithsonian Institution, “none of the principal food plants and domestic animals of the Old World (except the dog) were present in the New World before Columbus.” It is for this reason, among many others, that the Smithsonian Institution has not ever, and will not ever, use the Book of Mormon as an archeological source. It simply has no basis in reality, as evidenced by the archeological record.
Included in the list of things not present in the record, but mentioned by the Book of Mormon, are asses, cattle, horses (extinct in the Americas long before the arrival of Lehi & Co.), oxen, sheep, swine, goats, elephants, wheat, barley, figs, milk, silk, steel, bellows, brass, breast plates, chains, iron working, plows, swords, scimitars, and chariots. In fact, the Book of Mormon basically asserts that a group of bronze/iron age people arrived, built up civilizations for nearly 1,000 years, fought wars, traded, and died out, all without leaving a scrap of evidence behind.
Thomas Ferguson, a member of the Latter-Day Saints and archeologist, founded the New World Archeological Foundation (NWAF) in 1955. His stated goal was to find the cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon, in order to prove that the Book of Mormon was true. In 1961, he predicted that they were within a decade of finding these cities. In 1972, when questioned by Christian scholar Hal Hougey, Ferguson wrote, “Ten years have passed…I had sincerely hoped that Book of Mormon cities would be positively identified within 10 years-and time has proved me wrong in my anticipation.”
My opponent made an assertion that I found both amusing and horrifying. He stated that he had been told that the Cherokee language is virtually identical to the Hebrew language. If correct, this would have been significant given that the Nephites and Lamanites would have spoken Hebrew. As I mentioned earlier, the Book of Mormon insists that the Lamanites are in fact the ancestors of modern American Indians.
Truth be told, I speak several languages to varying degrees of fluency. In addition to English and Spanish, I also speak some Hebrew, Arabic, French, and Cherokee. It is because of this experience that I can categorically state that there is no truth to his assertion. Not only is Cherokee distinct from Hebrew, but there is no relation. Cherokee is an Iroquoian language that is 3,500 years old, and Hebrew is a Semitic language that is even older.
To further illustrate the differences, here is a brief comparative vocabulary:
Cherokee: O’siyo’ or Siyo’ (
English: How are you?
Hebrew: ma shlom-kha?
Here are two videos, which feature native speakers reciting The Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew and Cherokee, so that you may hear the difference in the two languages:
As you can see, the idea that Hebrew and Cherokee are virtually identical goes flying out the window. It does not help their case that the Cherokee language has only had a written form since Sequoyah set about creating the Cherokee Syllabary in the 1820’s, a little less than 200 years ago. Meanwhile, the Hebrew language had a written form by the time the Nephites and Lamanites came into existence, and it was already ancient by that time.
Modern linguists have found no evidence that any Semitic languages are spoken natively in this hemisphere. Nor have they found any evidence of Semitic influence in any of the Native languages. There is simply no influence to be found prior to 1492. Again, this strongly suggests that the Nephites and Lamanites simply never existed.
In this day and age, a person can walk into their local Walgreens, pick up a DNA test from 23 & Me, and send off a sample of their saliva to a lab that will then generate a detailed report of where their ancestors originated from. These tests are so detailed that one could even have a report made on any and all ailments and diseases that they are genetically predisposed to. Granted, it is not 100% accurate, and people have been known to encounter the odd false-positive and false-negative on something, but what a wonder it is that we can do that, right? In less than 20 years, we went from mapping out the human genome to possessing the ability to gauge the geographical location and percentage of a person’s ancestry.
It is an absolutely amazing feat, especially for those people who were adopted, and know next to nothing about their family tree. This grants a person an unparalleled ability to know where they are from, and this is absolutely valuable. This brings me to my final point. According to the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites, descendants of Jews who fled Jerusalem in 600 B.C., are the primary ancestors of modern American Indians. If this was indeed true, then Native DNA would carry genetic markers distinct to people of Jewish ancestry. Sadly, this is not the case. To date, no Native group has been shown to possess any Jewish DNA that pre-dates the advent of European colonization in the Americas.
There have been some who have insisted that the Cherokee people are really of Middle Eastern descent, and much of it is based on compelling evidence, I will admit that much. From the fact that they had a special reverence for the number 7 (the number of completion), to the fact that they had sanctuary cities for those who were convicted of manslaughter, they had any number of practices that had solid parallels in Jewish culture and traditions. However, where it falls apart is in DNA analysis.
The first known European contact with the Cherokee people was with the Spanish. During his travels through what is now the Southeastern U.S., DeSoto is known to have spent time with the Cherokee people. His men were known to have left starter populations of pigs throughout the region, to ensure that they always had a supply of meat that they could hunt down. It is not too far of a stretch of the imagination to assume that they also left a few genetic gifts along the way. Historically, Cherokee women were known to enjoy far more freedom than European women, and that included choosing their spouses and bed partners. This period of time, more than any other, is most likely where any possible Jewish connections originated. It is largely unknown simply how many Spaniards carried Sephardic Jewish ancestry, thanks to the Andalusian period of Spanish history.
Many years later, German missionaries would come into Cherokee territory and set up shop. They built and operated schools and churches, integrating themselves into the local populations. They learned the language, the local customs and culture, and taught the children of the locals. Again, it is not too far fetched to state that they did eventually intermarry with the locals, thereby introducing the chance of someone with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage having children with a local Cherokee. The descendants of both groups are now found all through North Carolina, Oklahoma, and multiple states in between.
What does this do for the Book of Mormon’s assertions regarding the Lamanites? It rather effectively crushes it, and goes another step into demonstrating that it is a false book. It shows that the person(s) who wrote this book did not know history, the Bible, or any of the other disciplines brought to bear in this series. It is very clear, I think, that Joseph Smith, Jr was a false prophet, and a failed conman.