Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Coming Soon: A New Book of Mormon Origins Movie Starring Sidney Rigdon--as the Angel Moroni

I'll soon be reviewing one of the best and most thoughtful anti-Mormon books I've read. It's one of the very few that recognize that there has been interesting scholarship on the plausibility of the Book of Mormon. Rather than dismiss all evidence or, as many do, simply ignore it, this book attempts to explain how a brilliant mastermind, Sidney Rigdon, was able to pull together information from the Middle East and from scholarly sources to create a book with the trappings of plausibility, laced with internal evidences of Semitic origins and ancient roots. The book is intriguing and novel in some of its arguments, but breaks down terribly when it begins to confront and then ignore the most compelling evidence for the reality of the Book of Mormon from the lives of its many witnesses.

In the case of Martin Harris, a man known throughout his life for his honesty and integrity, our author cannot simply call him a con-man working to rip off gullible believers. This is a man who would sacrifice great wealth and risk his reputation for the laughable cause of the Book of Mormon. He bore witness throughout his life, even after leaving the Church over differences with Joseph Smith, that the Book of Mormon was real, that he saw the plates and saw the Angel Moroni and heard the voice of God testifying that it was true. How do we account for that?

Simple, people. Sidney Rigdon was hiding behind a tree, acting as the, uh, voice of the invisible Angel Moroni, with group hysteria and peer pressure forcing poor gullible Martin to think he was seeing an angel. "Come on Martin, have more faith. Now can you see him? Sort of? Pray harder. We can see him, can't you? And the plates, too, right? Mmm, shiny..." And then the deep voice of Sidney Rigdon coming from behind a tree provided all the evidence Martin would need to go on and mortgage his farm and put his life on the line, becoming a lifelong witness for the reality, the physical reality, of the gold plates. Well done, Sidney!

The story of the many Book of Mormon witnesses and their lifelong commitment to what they experienced is one of the most difficult things to account for in any paradigm based upon Joseph Smith acting as a con-man. Read a little about Martin Harris and his life, and then ponder just how melodious Signey's voice would have to be to explain how that experience would so transform Martin.

15 comments:

tayman0522 said...

Based on the blog posts that I have read of yours so far, I know that you will be fair and open minded. I look forward to reading your review!

Speaking of books, I am promoting (for free) several LDS authors on my website, http://www.taylorsbookpub.com. If you are interested in reading good literature, or if you are interested in finding a good book for your kids, check this page out! Thank you for your consideration.

weston krogstadt said...

You are awesome Jeff, you are the Michael Jordan of Mormon bloggers. I will most certainly read your review.

andrejules said...

Jeff Have you ever figured out when the antis would realize that the Book of Mormon, with the testimony by the witnesses, was published before Joseph Smith ever met Sidney Rigdon?

weston krogstadt said...

Very good point andrejules, Rigdon met Joseph after the book's publication. The Mormon-Haters have never been able to figure that one out, they know Joseph couldn't have written the book himself, and figure Rigdon was the only one educated enough to write it. They have been trying to hammer that square peg through that round hole for 170 years, but have never been able to make it fit. I suppose they will hammer on it for another 170 years.

Anonymous said...

There has been a claim floating around that Joseph and Sydney were in the same geographical area at one point prior to the translation. However, I don't think there's any credible evidence of that.

The thing about the 3 and 8 witnesses is that if Joseph made up the whole thing, then all 11 had to have been in cahoots with him.

It would have been hard enough for 1 or 2 men to keep a secret, but 11? That's a big testament right there.

CF said...

Sounds great, Jeff, looking forward to the read. I love the Book of Mormon. New evidence is being uncovered each year to validate it which helps strengthens my testimony in it.

I was recently reading the National Geographic article on the events that took place at the end of the Pre-Classic and start of the Classic Mayan period during the last few decades of 300 AD and was shocked to find this little tidbit:

Garrisons probably dotted the route. News of the advancing column must have reached Tikal, and somewhere along the stretch of riverbank and roadway, perhaps at a break in the cliffs about 16 miles (26 kilometers) from the city, Tikal's army tried to stop Fire Is Born's advance. Inscribed slabs, called stelae, later erected at Tikal suggest that the defenders were routed. Fire Is Born's forces continued their march on the city. By January 16, 378—barely a week after his arrival in Waka—the conqueror was in Tikal.

Compare this to Mormon 5:

3 And it came to pass that the Lamanites did come against us as we had fled to the city of Jordan; but behold, they were driven back that they did not take the city at that time.

4 And it came to pass that they came against us again, and we did maintain the city. And there were also other cities which were maintained by the Nephites, which strongholds did cut them off that they could not get into the country which lay before us, to destroy the inhabitants of our land.

5 But it came to pass that whatsoever lands we had passed by, and the inhabitants thereof were not gathered in, were destroyed by the Lamanites, and their towns, and villages, and cities were burned with fire; and thus three hundred and seventy and nine years passed away.


How ironic is it that researchers now believe that the birth of the Classic era ended with a cataclysmic extermination that they say occurred in 378 AD while the Book of Mormon record concurs with this timeline as Mormon chronicles it in 379 AD, WITHIN ONE YEAR!

Can it be any clearer that this great Mayan figure, Fire Is Born led the troops against the Nephite Civilization against their captains, including Mormon, that led to the final battle at Cumorah? Is it just coincidence that the Mayan Pre-Classic era ended PRECISELY as the Nephite nation was destroyed??? I think not.

They say that a nation's history is written by the victor. Is it so surprising, then, that much of Nephite culture and evidence would be lost after their extermination?

I highly recommend checking this out more. Mormon apologists need to take a deep look at this stuff. There's too much there to ignore.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/08/maya-rise-fall/gugliotta-text/1

Anonymous said...

Can it be any clearer that this great Mayan figure, Fire Is Born led the troops against the Nephite Civilization against their captains, including Mormon, that led to the final battle at Cumorah?

OK, so in 379 or 380 AD the Lamanites defeat the Nephites at Tikal in Guatemala. The Nephites flee, some of them escaping and some not. The surviving Nephites regroup, then confront the Lamanites with a request to gather the remaining Nephite forces some 3,500 miles away, at Hill Cumorah in upstate New York, "and there we could give them battle."

This makes no sense to me.

-- Eveningsun

CF said...

OK, so in 379 or 380 AD the Lamanites defeat the Nephites at Tikal in Guatemala. The Nephites flee, some of them escaping and some not. The surviving Nephites regroup, then confront the Lamanites with a request to gather the remaining Nephite forces some 3,500 miles away, at Hill Cumorah in upstate New York, "and there we could give them battle."

There is no evidence that the hill Cumorah described in the Book of Mormon was the same hill that was given as a nickname by the early Saints in upstate New York.

The angel Moroni never referred to the hill with the gold plates to Joseph as "Cumorah", neither was it called by this name by Joseph himself. The name "Cumorah" was attached to it much later.

But that is beside the point of my post anyway. When Ron Meldrum can produce some specific archaeological evidence placing a series of major native American battles taking place at or near upstate New York in the year 378 or 379 I'll be glad to listen.

Anonymous said...

There is no evidence that the hill Cumorah described in the Book of Mormon was the same hill that was given as a nickname by the early Saints in upstate New York.

Wouldn't the presence of hidden plates at both Cumorahs count as evidence? The BoM says Mormon buried plates in a hill called Cumorah, and centuries later, Joseph Smith says he finds plates engraved by Mormon buried in a hill, yet we're to believe the two hills are not the same?

The name "Cumorah" was attached to it much later.

Presumably because the connection seemed so obvious to believers, no?

...archaeological evidence placing a series of major native American battles taking place at or near upstate New York...

Well, there are all those huge burial mounds in the northeast, which Joseph Smith himself was quick to connect to Indian warfare (e.g., Zelph).

-- Eveningsun

Antho said...

Wouldn't the presence of hidden plates at both Cumorahs count as evidence? The BoM says Mormon buried plates in a hill called Cumorah, and centuries later, Joseph Smith says he finds plates engraved by Mormon buried in a hill, yet we're to believe the two hills are not the same?

Mormon 6:6
"therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni."

Mormon says specifically that he didn't bury the plates with the rest, but gave them to Moroni. Why should we assume Moroni then wanders around for 20+ years and just happens to come back to the exact same hill to bury the plates? And if he decided to bury it in the same hill, why didn't he just put it in with the other records, instead of going through all the effort of making a stone box specifically for those plates. If there's a whole other cache of plates, why not just put it in with them?

A hill is a natural landmark. If you want to bury something and remember where you buried it, why not put it in a hill that's easy to recognize and can be seen from far off? So Mormon buries plates in a hill, and Moroni also buries plates in a hill. Doesn't mean they're the same. Just means Mormon and Moroni both thought, I should bury it in an easily recognizable place.

It seems to me there's just as much evidence to say they were probably two different hills as there is to say they're the same. Yes people assumed it must be the same hill so they named the hill in New York "Cumorah" because it fit the logic at the time. But that doesn't mean it was necessarily true. Given new evidence, why shouldn't we be able to adjust our interpretations?

Anonymous said...

Some people are going to laugh, but if you take what it says in the Bible and Book of Mormon literally, this is possible.

People are forgetting that mountains (and therefore mere hills, too) can be moved with faith.

Maybe Mormon and Moroni buried the plates in two different parts of the same hill, and then Moroni commanded the mountain, er, hill, to be removed to North America.

CF said...

Maybe Mormon and Moroni buried the plates in two different parts of the same hill, and then Moroni commanded the mountain, er, hill, to be removed to North America.

Maybe so, but that's not what the Book of Mormon says happened.

Here's another idea: Maybe Santa Clause took it on his Sleigh and flew it to New York.

Maybe next time, try adding to the conversation with facts instead of trolling.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe so, but that's not what the Book of Mormon says happened."

Silly. If he moved the hill, it would have been after he buried the plates in it. So it couldn't be mentioned (after the fact) in the Book of Mormon.

Why move the hill, and then have to walk 1500 miles to bury the plates in it? If you're going to do that, you could just pick out any old hill after walking the 1500 miles.

No. If any thing, Moroni finished up the book, buried it, and THEN moved the hill, so the Lamanites couldn't get the plates, and wouldn't even know where to look.

Actually, if we're going by the BoM text itself, the hill in NY where the plates were buried is not required to be the same Cumorah where the final Nephite/Lamanite battle was.

If anything Cumorah was where Mormon buried the _large plates_ which he used as source documents for his BoM plates.

I'm still unsure of how the hill in NY got the name "Cumorah". Did the resurrected Moroni call it that, or did Joseph assume it somehow after the translation of the book?

If, during his conversations with Joseph, Moroni referred to the hill in NY as Cumorah, maybe he just gave it the same name as the hill back in Nephite land. I would not have a problem with that. Place names have often been re-used in different countries or lands.

Heck, how many US states have a city named "Springfield" ? People do it all the time.

weston krogstadt said...

I don't know of any time where Moroni calls the hill three miles south of Joseph's house "Cumorah". In Joseph Smith history, when Moroni visits Joseph in his room, the name "Cumorah" is not used by Moroni. Joseph sees the hill in a vision and knows exactly where the plates are burried, but Moroni never calls it Cumorah.

weston krogstadt said...

"While he was conversing with me about the plates, the vision was opened to my mind that I could see the place where the plates were deposited, and that so clearly and distinctly that I knew the place again when I visited it."

Critics of the BoM love this subject for some reason. To me it's no big deal. Joseph pulled golden plates out of the ground and showed them to a bunch of men, at least 11 of them. The name of the hill doesn't matter because he produced the plates to back up his story.