Detailed response to CES Letter, Book of Mormon

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Detailed response to CES Letter, Book of Mormon


Chart CES Letter BoM concerns-1.png

Included below:

Response to claim: "What are 1769 King James Version edition errors doing in the Book of Mormon?"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

What are 1769 King James Version edition errors doing in the Book of Mormon? An ancient text? Errors which are unique to the 1769 edition that Joseph Smith owned?
See also the followup(s) to this claim from "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (20 July 2014 revision):
Response to claim: "That the witnesses never reported Joseph looking at a 1769 KJV Bible during the translation process actually enhances the likelihood that the Book of Mormon is a fraud"
Response to claim: "At worst, Joseph waited until the witnesses weren't around to consult and copy from the 1769 KJV Bible"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

There are no errors that are unique to the 1769 edition. Some of the "errors" Runnells proposes aren't errors at all. Some are good examples of the diachronic nature of language. Others are merely English translators using the conventions of English to communicate a particular message. There are no errors that threaten the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. There are at least a dozen reasons to reject the notion that Joseph plagiarized from the King James Bible. We've provided an exhaustive response to this criticism in the link below.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "That the witnesses never reported Joseph looking at a 1769 KJV Bible during the translation process actually enhances the likelihood that the Book of Mormon is a fraud"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

That the witnesses never reported Joseph looking at a 1769 KJV Bible during the translation process actually enhances the likelihood that the Book of Mormon is a fraud. Ignoring the possibility that God himself revealed the errors, at best Joseph was reciting from memory passages from the 1769 KJV Bible, rather than “dictating,” as FairMormon phrases it.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The claim is nonsense. There is no evidence including any witness statement indicating that Joseph had an eidetic memory such as would be required for Runnells theory to work. There are, however, observers to the process that state that he sat in the open, head in hat, dictating for hours in the presence of his scribe and other witnesses. If we're dealing in probabilities, and that is what we're dealing with here (we can't make definitive statements lest we make an argument from silence), the fact that witnesses to the translation never reported a Bible during the translation of the Book of Mormon only works in favor of the proposition that Joseph did not have a Bible.


Response to claim: "At worst, Joseph waited until the witnesses weren't around to consult and copy from the 1769 KJV Bible"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

At worst, Joseph waited until the witnesses weren’t around to consult and copy from the 1769 KJV Bible

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The spin: The author is speculating without any supporting data in an attempt to save his position.The facts: Wouldn't one of Joseph Smith's scribes notice the handwriting of Joseph Smith on the Book of Mormon translation manuscript including all the copying he supposedly did from the King James Bible. Also, Runnells relies on his false claim above that there are translation errors unique to the 1769 KJV to establish the latter part of his claim. Our article linked above thoroughly dismantles that assertion.


Response to claim: "What are these 17th century italicized words doing in the Book of Mormon?"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

What are these 17th century italicized words doing in the Book of Mormon?

Author's sources:
  1. The author copied his information from the anti-Mormon site "Mormon Handbook"

See also the followup(s) to this claim from "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (20 July 2014 revision):
Response to claim: "Contrary to FairMormon’s assertion above that God himself revealed the 1769 KJV errors to Joseph, FairMormon is conceding here that Joseph copied KJV text over to the Book of Mormon"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The spin: The author insinuates that the presence of the KJV's italicized words in the Book of Mormon indicates that Joseph Smith plagiarized the King James Bible.The facts: If the italicized words in the King James Bible are meant to clarify the original text and make the translation more readable, why wouldn't God and Joseph Smith just keep those same italicized words so that the Book of Mormon can also be comprehensible and readable? The author wants to spin this as nefarious when it isn't nefarious at all.


Response to claim: "Contrary to FairMormon’s assertion above that God himself revealed the 1769 KJV errors to Joseph, FairMormon is conceding here that Joseph copied KJV text over to the Book of Mormon"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Contrary to FairMormon’s assertion above that God himself revealed the 1769 KJV errors to Joseph, FairMormon is conceding here that Joseph copied KJV text over to the Book of Mormon.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: FairMormon does not make an assertion that God revealed 1769 KJV errors to Joseph, nor does FairMormon "concede" that Joseph copied KJV text over to the Book of Mormon.The facts: What FairMormon does do is acknowledge that there is scholarship that supports either position. Some LDS scholars believe that Joseph copied Biblical passages over to the Book of Mormon, despite the lack of evidence that Joseph ever consulted any books during the translation process. Other scholars take the position that when Joseph reached a Biblical passage in the translation, that God, in most cases, simply gave him the ability to quote the verse as it existed in the currently available Bible. Scholars who take this position might simply affirm that this is how God exalts humanness to achieve his ends. Joseph's model of revelation seems to affirm this (D&C 1:24).


Response to claim: "2 Nephi 19:1...Joseph qualified the sea as the Red Sea"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

2 Nephi 19:1...Joseph qualified the sea as the Red Sea

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author only assumes that Joseph Smith is the one that inserted "Red" before sea in 2 Nephi 19:1. There are a number of proposals given by scholars that explain the addition of "Red" in this verse. Some argue (and, in the author's view, persuasively) that Joseph is not responsible for the change. Some proposals incorporate insights that can persuasively argue for an ancient author making the change.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon includes mistranslated biblical passages that were later changed in Joseph Smith’s translation of the bible"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon includes mistranslated biblical passages that were later changed in Joseph Smith’s translation of the bible.
....
Joseph Smith corrected the Bible. In doing so, he also corrected the same identical Sermon on the Mount passage in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is “the most correct book” and was translated a mere decade before the JST.

Author's sources: MormonThink.com page "JST Bible Translation".

See also the followup(s) to this claim from "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (20 July 2014 revision):
Response to claim: "If Joseph was trying to make the Bible more correct, he would not change something that was correct according to Isaiah"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The latest edition of the CES Letter (2017) includes one example of this type of change between the Book of Mormon, Bible, and JST. Scott Gordon showed the deception that underlies Runnells' and his sources's argument. We are unaware of other changes that actually fit Runnells' claim.


Response to claim: "If Joseph was trying to make the Bible more correct, he would not change something that was correct according to Isaiah"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

If the Bible verses were good enough for the "most correct book," there is no reason to change them in the JST of the Bible (other than to obfuscate the plagiarism). If Joseph was trying to make the Bible more correct, he would not change something that was correct according to Isaiah.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: The author does not understand what "plagiarism" is. The Book of Mormon clearly acknowledges that it is quoting Isaiah. Plagiarists, on the other hand, attempt to pass off the work of someone else as their own without acknowledging the source. According to Webster: "the act of using another person's words or ideas without giving credit to that person."The facts: We are likely not dealing with Joseph trying to "correct" Isaiah. The JST is a multi-purpose document that sometimes included restoration of text. Other purposes of the JST have been acknowledged by both leaders of the Church and scholars of the JST.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "DNA analysis has concluded that Native American Indians do not originate from the Middle East"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

DNA analysis has concluded that Native American Indians do not originate from the Middle East or from Israelites but rather from Asia.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

To our knowledge, the DNA data has never been disputed by the Church or anyone else. Following the links below and reading associated articles clearly demonstrates that DNA evidence posits no problem for the Book of Mormon.[1]


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "Why did the Church change the following section of the introduction page in the 2006 edition Book of Mormon shortly after the DNA results were released?"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

DNA analysis has concluded that Native American Indians do not originate from the Middle East or from Israelites but rather from Asia. Why did the Church change the following section of the introduction page in the 2006 edition Book of Mormon shortly after the DNA results were released?
“…the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians”
“…the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians. ...
(From "Conclusion") Lamanites aren’t really the principal ancestors of the Native American Indians.
See also the followup(s) to this claim from "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (20 July 2014 revision):
Response to claim: "It was a teaching accepted and taught by these “prophets, seers, and revelators,” including Joseph Smith himself, for most of the Church’s entire existence until the Church quietly and unofficially made the change in the Book of Mormon in 2006"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The implication by the author is that the Church retreated from the definition of "Lamanite" by altering the introduction to the Book of Mormon that was added in the 1920's. This is incorrect. If Lehi's people intermarried with anyone from the existing New World population, then by definition they are certainly among the ancestors of every native American currently living, and thus qualify under the Church's definition of "Lamanite." The only way critics can make the DNA data to be a weapon against the Book of Mormon is to force a hemispheric interpretation of an empty North and South American continent at the time of arrival of the Lehites. This is why critics must, at all costs, negate the Limited Geography Theory of the Book of Mormon.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "It was a teaching accepted and taught by these “prophets, seers, and revelators,” including Joseph Smith himself, for most of the Church’s entire existence until the Church quietly and unofficially made the change in the Book of Mormon in 2006"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

I like how FairMormon calls a 170+ year Mormon teaching believed and taught by “prophets, seers, and revelators” an “assumption.” It was not an “assumption.” It was a teaching accepted and taught by these “prophets, seers, and revelators,” including Joseph Smith himself, for most of the Church’s entire existence until the Church quietly and unofficially made the change in the Book of Mormon in 2006, after the DNA evidence started pouring in. The Prophet Joseph Smith disagrees with FairMormon’s “integration” and “Limited Geography” theories.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The idea that the land of the Book of Mormon comprised the entire North and South American continents was a natural assumption to make based upon the "narrow neck" of land described in the Book of Mormon being assumed to be the Isthmus of Panama. Joseph Smith believed in a hemispheric geography, along with most early Church leaders, though some held more nuanced views that weren't hemispheric. To our knowledge, no prophet has claimed that they received revelation indicating to them the location of different Book of Mormon lands. All have been relying on their best interpretation of the text. Many Latter-day Saints today believe in a hemispheric geography for the Book of Mormon. However, the "Limited Geography" theory has been around a lot longer than 2006. It was, in fact, first proposed in the 1920s, and was based upon a more careful reading of distances traveled in the Book of Mormon. It appeared in the official Church magazine, the Ensign, in 1984 in a two-part series. It appeared in the filmstrip Ancient America Speaks, which was used by missionaries during the late 1970's and early 1980's. It was not formulated in response to questions regarding DNA, since it predates the DNA argument by at least 70 years. (And, as an aside, just how does the Church "quietly" and "unofficially" change the introduction to the Book of Mormon? The change was published in the Church-owned Deseret News on 8 November 2007.[2])


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "Horses...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Horses...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times.
See also the followup(s) to this claim from "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (20 July 2014 revision):
Response to claim: "FairMormon considers a tapir to satisfy this requirement, I’m sorry but that just won’t work. Tapirs do not pull chariots. Especially chariots without wheels"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The author now shifts discussion to questions of anachronism. Readers are strongly encouraged to read the article right below this about evaluating anachronisms before proceeding if they haven't read it before. Ancient horses are believed to have vanished before the time of the Lehite's arrival, and modern horses were brought to the New World by the Spaniards. Yet there are a few pieces of circumstantial evidence of horses which are currently not accepted as valid by the scientific community. The idea that all defenders of the Church (e.g. "apologists") believe that New World horses are actually "tapirs" is a popular strawman put forth by the ex-Mormon community, and only represents a single suggestion offered by LDS anthropologist John L. Sorenson. Any others who mention tapirs as a possibility (such as Mike Ash), are simply citing Sorenson's work. The idea that Daniel C. Peterson promotes tapirs as horses is a popular meme within the ex-Mormon online community, however, at present we can find only a single quote attributable to Dr. Peterson, which also cites John L. Sorenson. Peterson, in fact, favors the idea that actual horses existed at the time, noting that

"it remains possible that the term horse in the Book of Mormon-which, by the way, does not occur very often, and even then in rather puzzling contexts-refers simply to deer or tapirs or similar quadrupeds thought by the Nephites to be analogous to the horse....But there is archaeological reason to believe that horses may, in fact, have existed in the Americas during Book of Mormon times. The question remains very much open."[3]

Peterson's footnote to this statement adds

"Valuable discussions of the evidence can be found at John L. Sorenson, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: An Annotated Bibliography."

In fact, every mention of a "loan-shift" of the name "horse" to "deer" or "tapir" cites John L. Sorenson's original work.

Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "FairMormon considers a tapir to satisfy this requirement, I’m sorry but that just won’t work. Tapirs do not pull chariots. Especially chariots without wheels"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

FairMormon considers a tapir to satisfy this requirement, I’m sorry but that just won’t work. Tapirs do not pull chariots. Especially chariots without wheels.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

FairMormon does not, and never has, taken an official position that the horses referred to in the Book of Mormon are tapirs, and does not consider the presence of tapirs to "satisfy this requirement." FairMormon has never suggested that tapirs "pull chariots" or pull "chariots without wheels." This claim is a creation of the author's mind, and there is no data that he will be able to locate to support it. The idea that tapirs or deer might have been called "horses" is only one possibility that was presented by LDS anthropologist John Sorenson (who is not associated with FairMormon), and it is described by FairMormon as one possibility among many, but it does not represent FairMormon's position. The most common position taken (as is demonstrated by the references listed in the previous section) is that horses actually were present during these times and that there is some evidence that this is the case. The author does this with other positions on anachronisms from FairMormon in his "debunking"— by appealing to ridicule and creating strawmen.

Logical Fallacy: Strawman—The author sets up a weakened or caricatured version of the opponent's argument. The author then proceeds to demolish the weak version of the argument, and claim victory.

FairMormon has never suggested that tapirs "pull chariots" or pull "chariots without wheels." Ex-Mormons take Sorenson's "tapir" suggestion of plausibility and promote it to the primary apologetic response. This is the CES Letter author's strawman:
  • He asserts that FairMormon's position is that horses in the Book of Mormon are actually tapirs (this is a false assertion).
  • He asserts that FairMormon's position is that horses in the Book of Mormon pulled chariots (this is a false assertion).
  • He asserts that FairMormon's position is the chariots in the Book of Mormon without wheels were pulled by draft animals (this is a false assertion).
  • He then "debunks" his own assertion.

He follows this same line of fallacious reasoning when equating one suggestion given by FAIR and other apologists for a particular anachronisms with the suggestion that apologists give for a particular anachronism.

This is a massive "failure to debunk" on the part of the author.

Logical Fallacy: Strawman—The author sets up a weakened or caricatured version of the opponent's argument. The author then proceeds to demolish the weak version of the argument, and claim victory.

Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "cattle...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

cattle...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times.Author's source: Wikipedia article "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The current consensus is that ancient Americans did not keep herds of large animals for use as food. There is, however, some evidence to the contrary.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "sheep...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

sheep...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times.Author's source: Wikipedia article "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The falsehood: The author asserts that sheep did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times.The facts: Bighorn sheep are native to North America. There has also been a report of sheep wool unearthed in southern Mexico.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "swine...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

swine...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times.Author's source: Wikipedia article "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The falsehood: The claim that there were no swine in pre-Columbian America.The facts: Wikipedia says that there were: "A peccary (also javelina or skunk pig) is a medium-sized hoofed mammal of the family Tayassuidae (New World pigs) in the suborder Suina along with the Old World pigs, Suidae. They are found in the southwestern area of North America and throughout Central and South America....Although they are common in South America today, peccaries did not reach that continent until about three million years ago during the Great American Interchange, when the Isthmus of Panama formed, connecting North America and South America. At that time, many North American animals—including peccaries, llamas and tapirs—entered South America, while some South American species, such as the ground sloths, and opossums, migrated north."[4]


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "goats...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

goats...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times.Author's source: Wikipedia article "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: The claim that there were not goats in pre-Columbian America.The facts: It is true that modern goats were brought to the New World by the Spaniards in the same manner as modern horses. However, according to Wikipedia, "The mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus), also known as the Rocky Mountain goat, is a large-hoofed mammal found only in North America." [5]


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "elephants...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

elephants...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: There is no acknowledgement by the author of substantial circumstantial evidence that New World natives were familiar with the elephant.The facts: Elephants only need to have existed during early Jaredite times since they are never mentioned by the Nephites.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "chariots...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

chariots...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times.Author's source: Wikipedia article "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Wheeled chariots pulled by draft animals did not exist during this period. However, enlightening potential loan-shifts exist for the chariot as we approach interpreting the text more carefully.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "wheat...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

wheat...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times.Author's source: Wikipedia article "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Wheat as we know it today is not known to have been present during Book of Mormon times. However, amaranth was. According to Wikipedia, "Some amaranth species are cultivated as leaf vegetables, cereals, and ornamental plants". Real wheat would be incredibly hard to find as A) The tests that might be able to find it are expensive to implement B) the soil in Mesoamerica is too damp and acidic to preserve this type of a plant and C) less than 2% of Mesoamerica has been excavated.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "silk...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

silk...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times.Author's source: Wikipedia article "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: The author assumes that "silk" must only refer to the material produced by the mulberry silkworm, which did not exist in pre-Columbian America.The facts: Materials classified as "silk" did exist in the New World during this period.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "steel...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

steel...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times.Author's source: Wikipedia article "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: The author assumes that "steel" refers to modern steel, which did not exist in pre-Columbian America.The facts: Steel has been found in the Old World in the appropriate time period.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "iron did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

iron did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times.Author's source: Wikipedia article "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: The author assumes that because iron was not mined and smelted in pre-Columbian America, that it therefore did not exist.The facts: Yes, iron did exist in pre-Columbian America, and there is evidence to support the use of iron obtained from meteorites.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "None of the metallurgy identified in FairMormon’s charts, such as...brass...existed in the pre-Columbian Americas"

The author(s) of Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014 make(s) the following claim:

None of the metallurgy identified in FairMormon’s charts, such as...brass...existed in the pre-Columbian Americas.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: The author may have made some incorrect assumptions about brass in the Book of Mormon.The facts: Brass is an alloy. The Book of Mormon brass is never "found" but "made".


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "There is absolutely no archaeological evidence to directly support the Book of Mormon"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

There is absolutely no archaeological evidence to directly support the Book of Mormon or the Nephites/Lamanites who numbered in the millions.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The falsehood: This is simply a popular claim made by ex-Mormons, which ignores any evidence.The facts: The reality is that there is plenty of supporting evidence.
∗       ∗       ∗
Note that word “directly.” Archaeology very often doesn’t “directly” support claims. You often are having to draw inferences from the data. You know, the rocks in the foundations of buildings don’t speak for themselves usually, and there are relatively few inscriptions. I mean, even Jerusalem itself: we’ve known from tradition where is was located, but it was only relatively recently that an inscription was found actually identifying that city as Jerusalem. So, there are limits to archaeology. But again I mention John Sorenson, the writing of John Clark, Brant Gardner, Mark Wright. If the author of the letter has dealt with them there’s no sign of it. I don’t see any evidence that he’s engaged them.

—Daniel C. Peterson, "Some Reflections on That Letter to a CES Director," 2014 FairMormon Conference
∗       ∗       ∗

Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "The overwhelming consensus from these unbiased experts in pre-Columbian America archaeology/anthropology and Egyptology is that neither the Book of Mormon nor the Book of Abraham is historical, factual, or congruent to the current and existing data and evidence."

The author(s) of Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014 make(s) the following claim:

In August 2013, a 17-year-old by the name of Zachary decided to email sixty college professors whose expertise was in one of the following fields: Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica Archaeology, Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica Anthropology, and Egyptology. Zachary sought their professional opinion on the historicity of the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham.


Out of the sixty college professors that Zachary emailed, 25 responded. Out of the 25 who responded, 14 gave permission to Zachary to publish their names and comments. The responses that Zachary received from these experts are fascinating. The overwhelming consensus from these unbiased experts in pre-Columbian America archaeology/anthropology and Egyptology is that neither the Book of Mormon nor the Book of Abraham is historical, factual, or congruent to the current and existing data and evidence.

The responses from these professors and experts can be read here.

Author's sources: <https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1_l1xQdDguBM0tpT29MemVtd2s/edit>

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author attempts to show that the "overwhelming consensus" from scholars is that the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham are not "historical, factual, or congruent to the current and existing data". The fact of the matter is that few non-LDS scholars are interested in doing the type of work that LDS scholars are doing. Even fewer have followed/become informed on Latter-day Saint scholarship. Who wants to study Latter-day Saint scripture when one isn't a Latter-day Saint? Would they feel comfortable in being compelled to join a religion based upon the evidence that Latter-day Saint scholars and apologists are bringing to light? Would anyone feel comfortable to do so? Even so, there are several non-LDS scholars who respect the work of Latter-day Saints. John Welch worked with several in "Chiasmus in Antiquity". His work on "Legal Cases in the Book of Mormon" was given good reviews from non-LDS scholars. Non-LDS archaeologist and Mesoamerican scholar Michael Coe has called the work of John Sorenson on Transoceanic Voyages to the Americas "irrefutable"[6]. Latter-day Saint scholars have frequently cited the work of non-LDS professionals to support the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham. See here for article responses to this. Readers should seek out scholarship from Latter-day Saint authors and judge the matter for themselves. They should read the careful work of Brant Gardner in Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History and Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon (6 vols.), they should read the great work of John Gee, John L. Sorenson, and others. Sweeping, generalized, and propagandistic claims like this should not persuade anyone into thinking that this is all settled--especially when the vast majority of these scholars have had virtually no interaction with the relevant scholarship done by Latter-day Saints up to this point of time.

Response to claim:"In addition to the statements made by those professors, here are some more statements made by both LDS and non-LDS archaeologist and anthropologist individuals and organizations...'The first myth we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists…."

The author(s) of Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014 make(s) the following claim:

In addition to the statements made by those professors, here are some more statements made by both LDS and non-LDS archaeologist and anthropologist individuals and organizations...'The first myth we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists…. '

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author distorts the meaning of Dee Green's comments.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "In addition to the statements made by those professors, here are some more statements made by both LDS and non-LDS archaeologist and anthropologist individuals and organizations...'While some people chose to make claims for the Book of Mormon through archaeological evidences, to me they are made prematurely, and without sufficient knowledge.'"

The author(s) of Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014 make(s) the following claim:

In addition to the statements made by those professors, here are some more statements made by both LDS and non-LDS archaeologist and anthropologist individuals and organizations...'While some people chose to make claims for the Book of Mormon through archaeological evidences, to me they are made prematurely, and without sufficient knowledge.'

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author distorts the meaning of Raymond Matheny's comments. Matheny clarified that he was responding to a question posed to him as if he were a non-Mormon archaeologist. Matheny states, "The question dealt with how does a non-Mormon archaeologist evaluate the Book of Mormon in terms of its cultural content and claims. My answer to the question was an ad hoc response where I tried to put myself in a non-Mormon’s professional shoes and talked about the nature of the problems that the Book of Mormon poses for the archaeologist." In other words, Matheny was playing "devils advocate." Matheny explains this in a letter:
I received a copy of Heart and Mind and a copy of a letter sent to you by Luke P. Wilson, Executive Director of Gospel Truths Ministries. From these items I feel some obligation to give you a little more information about what took place at the Sunstone symposium in 1984. . . .

I had no idea that I was being used by Gospel Truths Ministries to discredit the LDS Church in their publication. . . . In 1984 I was asked by Sunstone to give a talk, which I refused. They persisted by calling and asked if I would be willing to sit on a panel and comment on papers that would be given on archaeology at the upcoming symposium. To this request I consented. However, when I arrived for the symposium, much to my surprise I was listed as a speaker. I objected and said that I had not prepared a paper. The Sunstone people then handed me a card with a question on it and asked if I would comment on the question. The question dealt with how does a non-Mormon archaeologist evaluate the Book of Mormon in terms of its cultural content and claims. My answer to the question was an ad hoc response where I tried to put myself in a non-Mormon’s professional shoes and talked about the nature of the problems that the Book of Mormon poses for the archaeologist. . . .

Gospel Truths Ministries is using my ad hoc response without my permission, without my knowledge, and in a pernicious way against the church, and against me. The letter sent to you said that a complete transcript of my response was forwarded to you. I don’t know what GT Ministries means by a “complete” transcript. I forbade any publication of my response by Sunstone or any one else, and did not authorize any tape recordings at the time.[7]


Response to claim: "This is one of the reasons why unofficial apologists are coming up with the Limited Geography Model"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

This is one of the reasons why unofficial apologists are coming up with the Limited Geography Model (it happened in Central or South America) and that the real Hill Cumorah is not in Palmyra, New York but is elsewhere and possibly somewhere down there instead. This is in direct contradiction to what Joseph Smith and other prophets have taught.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The falsehood: The Limited Geography Model has absolutely nothing to do with apologists, and was not created in reaction to anything that occurred in recent times. It was based upon a careful reading of the Book of Mormon text itself.The facts: The limited geography model of the Book of Mormon has been around since 1917. Matt Roper notes, "It is not known how much these studies influenced the interpretations of Latter-day Saints; their first versions of a fully limited Book of Mormon geography began to appear in the years from 1920 to 1926. In an article for the Improvement Era, Janne Sjodahl outlined the key features of these interpretations without criticism or condemnation. In addition to his own modified hemispheric view, which placed the narrow neck of land at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Sjodahl reviewed the approaches of George Reynolds and Joel Ricks, which generally followed those of Orson Pratt."[8] Links may be found below to the many limited geography theories that have been around for decades. In his follow up claims to FairMormon, the author raises concerns about Joseph's revelations identifying things in the United States relating to the Nephites and its implications for limited or integrated geography theories. A good model to follow for meshing the evidence from the United States with Mesoamerican data may be found here.
∗       ∗       ∗
This [claim that the Limited Geography is a recent invention of apologists] is simply not true. The Limited Geography Model has been created because the Book of Mormon demands it. You can put together all the travel distances and travel times in the Book of Mormon and it’s very clear that they’re not going far in any direction. We’re not talking about Patagonia to the Aleutian Islands. It’s simply not possible. And so, the text forces this. This sort of thing has been in the works for a long time, before there was any talk about DNA, before the discovery of the DNA double-helix model. DNA was not an issue when this was being created. This is not controversial. This can easily be shown that the limited Mesoamerican model has been in the works for decades. It just wasn’t published until the 1980s, but it existed and was distributed in a kind of summarized underground form for a long time before it was actually published.

—Daniel C. Peterson, "Some Reflections on That Letter to a CES Director," 2014 FairMormon Conference
∗       ∗       ∗

Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "Latter-day Saint Thomas Stuart Ferguson was BYU’s archaeology division (New World Archaeological Funding) founder"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Latter-day Saint Thomas Stuart Ferguson was BYU’s archaeology division (New World Archaeological Funding) founder. NWAF was financed by the Church. NWAF and Ferguson were tasked by BYU and the Church in the 1950’s and 1960’s to find archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon. This is what Ferguson wrote after 17 years of trying to dig up evidence for the Book of Mormon:“…you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere – because it is fictional and will never meet the requirements of the dirt-archaeology. I should say – what is in the ground will never conform to what is in the book.” – Letter dated February 2, 1976

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: Ferguson was not in charge of the archaeology program at BYU.The facts: Ferguson wasn't even an archaeologist - he was a lawyer for whom archaeology was a hobby.

Logical Fallacy: Appeal to authority—The author claims that someone is an authority on a topic, and that because this authority made a statement regarding that topic, that he or she is probably correct.

Ferguson was not even an "authority" on this matter, and he had unrealistic expectations. The author, however, expects us to both accept Ferguson as an authority on this subject, and to accept his conclusions as valid.
∗       ∗       ∗
And the idea is, well, Ferguson failed and Ferguson lost his testimony, and this should discredit the Book of Mormon in the minds of alert, sentient Latter-day Saints. But that statement is wrong on multiple levels. Thomas Stuart Ferguson, for whatever virtues he had, was a lawyer and an amateur hobbyist. He was not the head of the archaeology program at BYU. And the NWAF, I’ve actually written an article on this, based on interviews with the founders and with early leaders and so on, and it’s been published. I mean, there’s no excuse for this. NWAF had non-Mormons on its board. It was mostly non-Mormons. It was specifically forbidden to seek to do explicit Book of Mormon research. It was tasked with working in an area where Latter-day Saints expected it would find evidence, but it was not its task to do that. This is just completely wrong, and Ferguson’s apostasy, whatever it was, his family disputes it. I don’t know exactly what the truth of his mindset was at the end of his life. It may be sad, but it has no significance. And, at the same time, M. Wells Jakeman was an archaeologist, the first trained archaeologist as far as I know in the Church, who specialized in Mesoamerican studies. Why doesn’t anybody write about his biography? He was fascinated…believed to his dying day that the Book of Mormon fit into Mesoamerica brilliantly well.

—Daniel C. Peterson, "Some Reflections on That Letter to a CES Director," 2014 FairMormon Conference
∗       ∗       ∗

Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "Many Book of Mormon names and places are strikingly similar to many local names and places of the region Joseph Smith lived"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Many Book of Mormon names and places are strikingly similar to many local names and places of the region Joseph Smith lived


We read in the Book of Mormon of the Land of Desolation named for a warrior named Teancum who helped General Moroni fight in the Land of Desolation. In Smith’s era, an Indian Chief named Tecumseh fought and died near the narrow neck of land helping the British in the War of 1812. Today, the city Tecumseh (near the narrow neck of land) is named after him.

Author's sources:
  1. mazeministry.com (an anti-Mormon web site)

See also the followup(s) to this claim from "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (20 July 2014 revision):
Response to claim: "FairMormon’s strawman that these towns/cities were discovered only through maps may not be...how Holley found some of the towns"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The author uncritically accepted data from the Vernal Holley map, which is easily disproven. The names aren't so striking when you realize just how many of them didn't exist at the time that Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon, or how many don't show up on contemporary maps. Elsewhere, (and even after his "debunking" of our response including his follow up claims and his link the Rick Grunder parallels) the author admits that he doesn't believe that this claim has sufficient evidence to support it, yet he has retained it in his latest revision of the letter.[9]

Logical Fallacy: Texas Sharpshooter—The author located some pattern in the data that he or she believes was the cause of something else, despite the lack of any supporting connection, and asserted that this was, in fact, the actual cause.

The author uses the work of Vernal Holley, who searched a large area using modern maps to find a few names which are similar. The author then uses those names as proof that there is a relationship to the Book of Mormon. The author recognized the weakness of this argument and actually considered removing the section from the CES Letter or moving it to an appendix but was stopped by other ex-Mormons who claimed that it was effective for shaking people.

Vernal Holley.png


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "There was a book published in 1791 by John Walker entitled, A Key to the Classical Pronunciation of Greek, Latin, and Scripture Proper Names"

The author(s) of Debunking FAIR's Debunking (July 2014) make(s) the following claim:

Before I get to those, however, I’d like to discuss additional evidence of similarities between the “345 Book of Mormon names” and a contemporaneous book available in Joseph’s time and backyard. Aside from FairMormon not sharing that many, if not most, of the “345 Book of Mormon names” are also biblical names, many of the names unique to the Book of Mormon are…well, not so unique.

There was a book published in 1791 by John Walker entitled, A Key to the Classical Pronunciation of Greek, Latin, and Scripture Proper Names. In this book are a number of future Book of Mormon names, which appeared within alphabetized lists. This book was a common household reference in young Joseph Smith’s time and place. According to Larry Porter, “Walker’s Dictionary” was suggested for the curriculum in the Colesville, New York schools by the local commissioners in the fall of 1826.

This link does a side by side comparison between Book of Mormon names and Walker's Key Dictionary.

Author's sources:
  1. Rick Grunder "Mormon Parallels: A Bibliographic Source" <http://www.rickgrunder.com/parallels/mp453.pdf>

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Most of the names in the list come from the Old and New Testaments. Some are listed as Greek and Latin names but onomastic research has shown that they have plausible etymologies with the languages proposed by the Book of Mormon. This argument is textbook parallelomania. The arguments against names should not be just about the presence of the names. With the advancements in onomastic research, the argument should now be about both the presence of the names and how they are used.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

∗       ∗       ∗
[The author of the Letter to a CES Director] uses Vernal Holley, who relied on the Solomon Spalding theory of the Book of Mormon, which has been exploded, detonated so many times, that its exasperating to see it keep coming back. I’ve mentioned, I think, here before that Hamblin and I have wanted to do a film that we call tentatively, “Bill and Dan’s Excellent Adventure in Anti-Mormon Zombie Hell.” The idea is that these just keep coming back. I mean, you shoot them between the eyes and they don’t stop because there’s no brain in there, right? And, I see the Spalding manuscript theory just keep coming and coming, but the methodological problems with Vernal Holley’s maps are multitudinous..."

—Daniel C. Peterson, "Some Reflections on That Letter to a CES Director," 2014 FairMormon Conference

Response to claim: "FairMormon’s strawman that these towns/cities were discovered only through maps may not be...how Holley found some of the towns"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Vernal Holley is dead. We can’t contact him to find out exactly where he got his sources. FairMormon’s strawman that these towns/cities were discovered only through maps may not be FairMormon as to (sic) how Holley found some of the towns. He may have used letters, newspapers, post office records, obituaries, local city/county library records, etc. in which records and books are not accessible online. We do not know.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The author's claim is false based upon Vernal Holley's own claims: We do know that Holley used modern maps, because Holley himself told us. Holley may be dead, but the book he wrote in which he proposed his theory is available online. Vernal Holley, in his book Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look[10], states explicitly that he does use "modern names" and "modern maps" to make his comparison. This is particularly evident in his comparisons of the names "Angola" and "Tecumseh," both of which Holley states he has taken from modern maps or locations, and neither of which existed under those names at the time that the Book of Mormon was published.

Logical Fallacy: Burden of Proof—The author assumes that the burden of proof is not his or her responsibility, but rather the responsibility of someone else who must disprove the claim.

This is a feeble attempt to "debunk" the FairMormon response to Holley by throwing in a list of possibilities with no supporting evidence.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "The largest city and capital of Comoros (formerly 'Camora')? Moroni"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The largest city and capital of Comoros (formerly 'Camora')? Moroni.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

It is true that the capital city of the Comoros is Moroni on Grande Camore. There is no evidence, however, that the Comoros were called "Camora" at any point in time.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "the uniform spelling for Hill Cumorah in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon is spelled as 'Camorah'"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

the uniform spelling for Hill Cumorah in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon is spelled as 'Camorah'.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The spin: The author wants us to believe that the uniform spelling of Cumorah in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon as "Camorah" indicates that Joseph Smith and/or Oliver Cowdery were plagiarizing from maps close to them with the Comoros Islands on them.The facts: Oliver Cowdery acknowledged this as a spelling error. Changing the spelling to "Cumorah" actually made the name consistent with other Book of Mormon names. Evidence from the Original Manuscript and Printer's manuscript indicates that Oliver did not spell Cumorah as "Camorah" in his dictation of the Book of Mormon, thus arguing strongly against the plagiarism Runnells wants to insinuate that Joseph Smith and/or Oliver Cowdery were engaged in.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "'Camora' and settlement 'Moroni' were common names in pirate and treasure hunting stories involving Captain William Kidd"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

'Camora' and settlement 'Moroni' were common names in pirate and treasure hunting stories involving Captain William Kidd (a pirate and treasure hunter) which many 19th century New Englanders – especially treasure hunters – were familiar with.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

They were not common names at all. Grande Camore (not the entire set of the Comoros Islands) is mentioned, but only once in sources that relate stories about Captain Kidd. Moroni is never mentioned.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "'View of the Hebrews' compared to the Book of Mormon"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

'View of the Hebrews' compared to the Book of Mormon

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author wants us to believe that View of the Hebrews was a source of information for Joseph Smith in creating the Book of Mormon. Lots of data argues against this.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "They borrowed from early 19th century Methodist evangelical camp meetings and the Second Great Awakening in Joseph's 'burnt over district' backyard."

The author(s) of Debunking FAIR's Debunking (Debunking FairMormon) (20 July 2014 Revision) make(s) the following claim:

"The evidence does not support that Joseph & Co. copied everything from one single source. The evidence supports that Joseph & Co. borrowed a few things here and a few things there...They borrowed from early 19th century Methodist camp meetings and the Second Great Awakening in Joseph's 'burnt over district' backyard."

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

1) The evidence does not support this assertion made by critics from time to time that Joseph was present at these meetings 2) The similarities between these camp meetings and details in the Book of Mormon are superficial 3) There are ancient parallels that may provide positive evidence against this claim


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "They borrowed from anti-Masonic sentiments of Joseph's time."

The author(s) of Debunking FAIR's Debunking (Debunking FairMormon) (20 July 2014 Revision) make(s) the following claim:

"The evidence does not support that Joseph & Co. copied everything from one single source. The evidence supports that Joseph & Co. borrowed a few things here and a few things there...They borrowed from anti-Masonic sentiments of Joseph's time."

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The author is referring to how it is claimed that the phrase "secret combinations" was supposedly used exclusively to refer to Freemasons in Joseph's day and how there are a few elements that critics believe suggest a relationship to the Book of Mormon. This is not true. The phrase was used to refer to other organizations before, during, and after the publication of the Book of Mormon. There are many reasons to believe that these elements did not come from anti-Masonic sentiments. Along with the articles listed below, we recommend the reader see this page from Book of Mormon Central and the cited scholarship which shows all the evidence against this claim.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "Joseph’s father having the same dream in 1811 as Lehi’s dream"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Joseph’s father having the same dream in 1811 as Lehi’s dream

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The dreams are indeed similar, but there are solid reasons to believe, contrary to the insinuations of the author, that Lehi's dream is not literarily dependent on Joseph Smith Sr.'s dream.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "Elder B.H. Roberts came to the following conclusion: 'Did Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews furnish structural material for Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon?'"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Elder B.H. Roberts came to the following conclusion: 'Did Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews furnish structural material for Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon?'

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: The critic fails to note what B.H. Roberts' actual conclusion was, as quoted in Studies of the Book of Mormon p. 58.The facts: B.H. Roberts said the following about his examination of critical approaches to the Book of Mormon, later published under the name Studies of the Book of Mormon:

Let me say once and for all, so as to avoid what might otherwise call for repeated explanation, that what is herein set forth does not represent any conclusions of mine. This report [is] ... for the information of those who ought to know everything about it pro and con, as well that which has been produced against it as that which may be produced against it. I am taking the position that our faith is not only unshaken but unshakable in the Book of Mormon, and therefore we can look without fear upon all that can be said against it.[11]


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "The staggering parallels and similarities" of The Late War "to the Book of Mormon are astounding"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (October 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The staggering parallels and similarities to the Book of Mormon are astounding. This outstanding web page outlines very clearly and simply just how devastating the Late War is to the Book of Mormon and its claims....
  • Devices of “curious workmanship” in relation to boats and weapons.
  • A “stripling” soldier “with his “weapon of war in his hand.”
  • “A certain chief captain…was given in trust a band of more than two thousand chosen men, to go forth to battle” and who “all gave their services freely for the good of their country.”
  • Fortifications: “the people began to fortify themselves and entrench the high Places round about the city.”
  • Objects made “partly of brass and partly of iron, and were cunningly contrived with curious works, like unto a clock; and as it were a large ball.”
  • “Their polished steels of fine workmanship.”
  • “Nevertheless, it was so that the freeman came to the defence of the city, built strong holds and forts and raised up fortifications in abundance.”
  • Three Indian Prophets.
  • “Rod of iron.”
  • War between the wicked and righteous.
  • Maintaining the standard of liberty with righteousness.
  • Righteous Indians vs. savage Indians.
  • False Indian prophets.
  • Conversion of Indians.
  • Bands of robbers/pirates marauding the righteous protagonists.
  • Brass plates.
  • “And it came to pass, that a great multitude flocked to the banners of the great Sanhedrim” compared to Alma 62:5: “And it came to pass that thousands did flock unto his standard, and did take up their swords in defense of their freedom…”
  • Worthiness of Christopher Columbus.
  • Ships crossing the ocean.
  • A battle at a fort where righteous white protagonists are attacked by an army made up of dark-skinned natives driven by a white military leader. White protagonists are prepared for battle and slaughter their opponents to such an extent that they fill the trenches surrounding the fort with dead bodies. The surviving elements flee into the wilderness/forest.
  • Cataclysmic earthquake followed by great darkness.
  • Elephants/mammoths in America.
  • Literary Hebraisms/Chiasmus.
  • Boats and barges built from trees after the fashion of the ark.
  • A bunch of “it came to pass”

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The "staggering" parallels aren't so "astounding" once you take a closer look at them. The critic scours a book in order to extract similar phrases, then declares that this proves that this book was a source for the Book of Mormon.

Logical Fallacy: Texas Sharpshooter—The author located some pattern in the data that he or she believes was the cause of something else, despite the lack of any supporting connection, and asserted that this was, in fact, the actual cause.

In this case, the critic scours a book in order to extract similar phrases, then declares that this proves that this book was a source for the Book of Mormon.

YouTube Video Response: "Letter to a CES Director: A Closer Look - CES Letter 15 to 17 Late War" by Brian Hales.

Longer response(s) to criticism:

Brian Hales: CES Letter 15 to 17 Late War


Response to claim: "Another fascinating book published in 1809, The First Book of Napoleon, is shocking"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (March 2015 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Another fascinating book published in 1809, The First Book of Napoleon, is shocking....The following are a side-by-side comparison of the beginning of The First Book of Napoleon with the beginning of the Book of Mormon:

The First Book of Napoleon:

Condemn not the (writing)…an account…the First Book of Napoleon…upon the face of the earth…it came to pass…the land…their inheritances their gold and silver and…the commandments of the Lord…the foolish imaginations of their hearts…small in stature…Jerusalem…because of the perverse wickedness of the people.

Book of Mormon:

Condemn not the (writing)…an account…the First Book of Nephi…upon the face of the earth…it came to pass…the land…his inheritance and his gold and his silver and…the commandments of the Lord…the foolish imaginations of his heart…large in stature…Jerusalem…because of the wickedness of the people.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The spin: It is only "shocking" if you look at the heavily edited paragraphs presented by the critic.The facts: One has to examine over 25 pages in The First Book of Napoleon in order to assemble these phrases, including pulling phrases from the Table of Contents and the first three chapters. This is hardly the "beginning" of the First Book of Napoleon.

Logical Fallacy: Texas Sharpshooter—The author located some pattern in the data that he or she believes was the cause of something else, despite the lack of any supporting connection, and asserted that this was, in fact, the actual cause.

In this case, the critic scours a book in order to extract similar phrases, then declares that this proves that this book was a source for the Book of Mormon.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon taught and still teaches a Trinitarian view of the Godhead"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon taught and still teaches a Trinitarian view of the Godhead.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The theory put forth by critics is that Joseph altered the Book of Mormon to match his changing view of the Godhead. It is simply illogical to conclude that Joseph Smith changed only the four passages in 1 Nephi to conform to his supposed changing theological beliefs, but somehow forgot to change all the others. In his follow up, the author attempts to lump the Lectures on Faith (whose authorship is now questioned and whose theology is certainly not trinitarian) and the JST into the supposed works in which Joseph held a trinitarian view of the Godhead. This is contradicted by the historical record. Latter-day Saints frequently talk about how we believe in the unity of the Godhead in purpose and not substance. This interpretation holds under scrutiny in all scriptural works.


Longer response(s) to criticism:


Notes

  1. See also Ugo A. Peregro and Jayne E. Ekins, "Is Decrypting the Genetic Legacy of America’s Indigenous Populations Key to the Historicity of the Book of Mormon?" Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 38 (2020): 355-390.
  2. Carrie A. Moore, "Debate renewed with change in Book of Mormon introduction," Deseret News (8 November 2007).
  3. Daniel C. Peterson, "Yet More Abuse of B. H. Roberts (Review of The Disappointment of B. H. Roberts: Five Questions That Forced a Mormon General Authority to Abandon the Book of Mormon)," FARMS Review of Books 9/1 (1997): 69–86. off-site
  4. Wikipedia article "Peccary" (accessed 8 January 2015). off-site
  5. Wikipedia article "Mountain goat" (accessed 8 January 2015) off-site
  6. “‘Ask the Scholar’,” John L. Sorenson edition (part 3 of 3),” Maxwell Institute Blog, February 21, 2014, at http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/ask-the-scholar-sorenson-3/ (accessed 28 December 2018)
  7. William J. Hamblin, "Basic Methodological Problems with the AntiMormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993), pp.190-191.
  8. Matt Roper, "Limited Geography and the Book of Mormon: Historical Antecedents and Early Interpretations," The FARMS Review 16/2 (2004).
  9. Jeremy Runnells posting as "kolobot": "CrowdThought: CES Letter Book of Mormon Geography/Vernal Holley Maps...keep or remove?" (posted 2015 on exmormon subrreddit).
  10. Available online at http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs2/2001vern.htm
  11. B. H. Roberts to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, March 1923. (See Studies of the Book of Mormon (1992), p. 58. On page 33, note 65, the editor of this work states that the date on this letter should be 1922 rather than 1923.)


A FAIR Analysis of:
[[../|Letter to a CES Director]]
A work by author: Jeremy Runnells