Detailed response to CES Letter, Kinderhook Plates & Translator Claims

Revision as of 14:55, 5 February 2024 by DavidSmith (talk | contribs) (header fix)

FAIR Answers—back to home page

Detailed response to CES Letter, Kinderhook Plates & Translator Claims



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

Response to section "Kinderhook Plates and Translator/Seer Claims Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author claims that, "Joseph Smith made a scientific claim that he could translate ancient documents. This is a testable claim. Joseph failed the test with the Book of Abraham. He failed the test with the Kinderhook Plates."


Jump to Subtopic:

[Back to top]

Response to claim: "Joseph Smith made a scientific claim that he could translate ancient documents. This is a testable claim"

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

Joseph Smith made a scientific claim that he could translate ancient documents. This is a testable claim. (April 2013 revision)
Joseph Smith made a claim that he could translate ancient documents. This is a testable claim. (October 2014 revision)

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

Joseph never made a "scientific claim" that he could translate - he said that he could translate by the "gift and power of God." The only way to test such a claim is by studying it out in our mind and asking God.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

[Back to top]

Response to claim: "Joseph failed the test with the Book of Abraham"

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

Joseph failed the test with the Book of Abraham.

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 fragments of papyri that have been recovered do not represent the rolls of papyri that eyewitnesses reported that Joseph had. For example, where are the originals for Facsimiles 2 and 3? They are not among the extant papyri fragments.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

[Back to top]

Response to claim: "He failed the test with the Kinderhook Plates"

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

He failed the test with the Kinderhook Plates.
See also the followup(s) to this claim from "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (20 July 2014 revision):
Response to claim: "Joseph Smith was parading around and showing others the Egyptian hieroglyphics he copied off the gold plates around the same time as the discovery of the Kinderhook Plates"
Response to claim: "This is consistent with the New York Herald’s non-Mormon’s account...which refers to Joseph’s copy of the hieroglyphics from the gold plates"

FAIR's Response

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

The author severely misunderstands the data related to the Kinderhook plates.

Logical Fallacy: Argument from Ignorance—The author has difficulty understanding the topic, so he or she assumes that it simply must not have any validity.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

[Back to top]

Response to claim: "Joseph Smith was parading around and showing others the Egyptian hieroglyphics he copied off the gold plates around the same time as the discovery of the Kinderhook Plates"

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:

It matters because Joseph Smith was parading around and showing others the Egyptian hieroglyphics he copied off the gold plates around the same time as the discovery of the Kinderhook Plates.

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

Joseph wasn't "parading around" showing of characters copied from the gold plates. He was using them to demonstrate what he believed Egyptian characters looked like.

Logical Fallacy: False Cause—The author assumes that a real or perceived relationship between two events means that one caused the other.

The author assumes, contrary to all of the evidence, that the fact that Joseph had and showed a copy of the Book of Mormon characters to someone indicates that this is the document that was used in the attempt to translate the Kinderhook Plates.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

[Back to top]

Response to claim: "This is consistent with the New York Herald’s non-Mormon’s account...which refers to Joseph’s copy of the hieroglyphics from the gold plates"

The author(s) of Debunking FairMormon - Letter to a CES Director make(s) the following claim:

This is consistent with the New York Herald’s non-Mormon’s account of “which he took from the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated, and they are evidently the same characters,” which refers to Joseph’s copy of the hieroglyphics from the gold plates.

FAIR's Response

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

The author does not understand the sources that he is attempting to use to support his point.

Logical Fallacy: False Cause—The author assumes that a real or perceived relationship between two events means that one caused the other.

In this case the author does the following:
  • The author quotes a non-Mormon who assumed that the "Egyptian Alphabet" was associated with the plates from with the Book of Mormon was translated.
  • The author noted that Joseph Smith still had a copy of the characters copied from the Book of Mormon plates in his possession, which he showed to a different individual.
  • The author failed to note that a document produced in connection with the Book of Abraham was actually referred to as the "Egyptian Alphabet".
  • The author concludes that Joseph must have used the characters copied from the Book of Mormon plates in his attempt to translate the Kinderhook plates, instead of the historically known "Egyptian Alphabet" document associated with the Book of Abraham.

Longer response(s) to criticism:

[Back to top]

Response to claim: "I’m now supposed to believe that Joseph has the credibility of translating the keystone Book of Mormon? With a rock in a hat?"

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

I’m now supposed to believe that Joseph has the credibility of translating the keystone Book of Mormon? With a rock in a hat? That the gold plates that ancient prophets went through all the time and effort of making, engraving, compiling, abridging, preserving, hiding, and transporting were useless?

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, as a believer, accepted the translation method when he knew that it involved two seer stones mounted in a wire frame that were used like a pair of glasses to convert reformed Egyptian characters on the plates into English text.
  • The author has difficulty accepting the idea that Joseph translated using a single seer stone that he placed in the bottom of a hat to block out the light.
  • Why was the translation method using the two stones more believable than the method using the the single stone? Is it because the author thought that Joseph was looking at the plates through two transparent stones and somehow seeing English text?
  • Joseph Smith himself never clarified how the translation was accomplished, and instead only said that it was done by the "gift and power of God" through revelation.
  • The plates were necessary in order to prove that the Nephite record actually existed. There would be no Book of Mormon witnesses without the plates, regardless of the plates' role in the translation process itself.

Longer response(s) to criticism:

[Back to top]

Response to claim: "Moroni’s 5,000 mile journey lugging the gold plates from Mesoamerica...all the way to New York to bury the plates"

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

Moroni’s 5,000 mile journey lugging the gold plates from Mesoamerica (if you believe the unofficial apologists) all the way to New York to bury the plates, come back as a resurrected angel, and instruct Joseph for 4 years only for Joseph to translate instead using just a…rock in a hat?

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

Mormon gave the plates to Moroni in approximately A.D. 385. Moroni did not bury the plates until A.D. 421. During this 36-year period Moroni explained: "[The Lamanites] put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ. And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life." (Moroni 1:3) During that 36-year wandering to escape the Lamanites, it is not unreasonable to believe that Moroni could have traveled the 3100-mile distance (not 5000 miles) between Central America and New York. Moroni would have had to travel 86 miles per year, which is an average of only one-fifth of a mile per day. The author's frustration with the method of translation of the Book of Mormon is responded to here.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

[Back to top]

Response to claim: "A rock he found digging in his neighbor’s property in 1822"

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

A rock he found digging in his neighbor’s property in 1822; a year before Moroni appeared in his bedroom, 5 years before he got the gold plates and Urim and Thummim, and the same stone and method Joseph used for his treasure hunting activities?

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

One of Joseph's seer stones was located while digging a well. This has been documented in the official Church magazine the Ensign.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

[Back to top]

Response to claim: "5 years before he got the gold plates and Urim and Thummim"

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

5 years before he got the gold plates and Urim and Thummim

FAIR's Response

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

Joseph received the gold plates and the "spectacles," or Nephite interpreters. These are normally referred to as the "Urim and Thummim" in Church materials, but Church historians know that this name was not applied to the instrument until later.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

[Back to top]

Response to claim: "the same stone and method Joseph used for his treasure hunting activities"

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

the same stone and method Joseph used for his treasure hunting activities?

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

This is correct.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

[Back to top]

Response to claim: "I'm sure he was wrong on only two out of three. After all, wouldn't you buy a third car from a man who had already sold you two clunkers?"

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

The Book of Abraham proven a fraud. The Kinderhook plates found to be a hoax. The Book of Mormon. The only one of the three for which we do not have the original. I'm sure he was wrong on only two out of three. After all, wouldn't you buy a third car from a man who had already sold you two clunkers? (This claim is contained in a graphic accompanying the text)

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

This is simply sarcastic hyperbole. The Book of Abraham was received by revelation, and it is evident that we don't have all of the papyri (remember the missing originals for Facsimiles 2 and 3?). The Kinderhook hoax was discussed in the Ensign years ago. No translation of the Kinderhook plates was ever produced beyond the single paragraph that can be directly related to the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language, which demonstrates that Joseph didn't attempt to translate them by revelation. According to the author, this is all supposed to disprove the Book of Mormon by inference?

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 believes that he has found a pattern that fits his presumption that the Book of Mormon cannot be true.


[Back to top]

Brian Hales: CES Letter 43 to 44 Kinderhook Plates


[Back to top]

LDS Truth Claims: Criticism from Translations - Kinderhook Plates, Book of Mormon, Abraham, and Enoch



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