Do Egyptologists Say The Book Of Abraham Is A Fraud?

Any scholar who is worth anything will tell you they don’t know if the Book of Abraham is legitimate, because the Abraham context of the facsimiles are different than the Egyptian context. Joseph Smith made that clear, and the scroll that he used for the Book of Abraham translation perished in a fire. So it would not be very scholarly to make those assumptions and call it a fraud based on the Egyptian translation.

CES Letter quotes three academics, who each happen to be noted white supremacists:

  • Flinders Petrie – Born in 1853, England. Son of a minister for the Plymouth Brethren sect.
     
    Was a White Supremacist who helped found Eugenics, which led to the Holocaust in World War 2. He proposed that “eugenics will, in some future civilization, carefully segregate fine races, and prohibit continual mixture.”
  • Archibald Sayce – Born 1845, England. An ordained reverend for the Church of England.
     
    Was a White Supremacist who belived “Negroes of Africa” were “midway between Europeans and apes.”
  • James Breasted – Born in 1865, Germany.
     
    Was a White supremacist. He called native Europeans a threat to advanced civilization:

    “The people of the Great Northwest Quadrant, as far back as we know anything about prehistoric men, have all been members of the white race… and the ancestors of the population now living there were the creators of the civilization we have inherited… The Mediterranean was now the home of Greek civilization in the East and of Roman civilization in the west, but the failure of the Roman Senate to organize a successful government for the empire they had conquered… brought the whole world of the Mediterranean civilization perilously near destruction… The great problem for future humanity was whether the Roman emperors would be able to hold off the barbarians long enough so that in course of time these rude northerners might gain enough of Mediterranean civilization to respect it and preserve at least some of it for mankind in the future… but the church, taking its place, made possible the transference of power from the Roman Empire to the barbarians in the West, without the complete destruction of our heritage of civilization bequeathed us by Greece and Rome… while Mediterranean civilization steadily declined, it nevertheless slowly spread northward, especially under the influence of the Church, till it transformed the ruder life of the north.”

    Did Breasted consider the Mormon church just another threat to the Church? Or maybe he hated the Mormon church for opposing slavery, I don’t know?

So CES Letter gets its information from White Supremacist racists? One of them who worked with the founder of Eugenics?

Most academics who bash the Book of Abraham lived way back in the 1800’s when little was known about Egyptology. Each of these academics lived in the 1800’s, almost 200 years ago. What did they know? Besides about comparing people by race I mean? Not only should they be rejected for their hateful beliefs, their statements about the Book of Abraham make them look like a bunch of ignorance blowhards:

“It is difficult to deal seriously with Joseph Smith’s impudent fraud.”

“It may be safely said that there is not one single word that is true in these explanations…”

“…he was totally unacquainted with the significance of these documents and absolutely ignorant of the simplest facts of Egyptian writing and civilization”

They also each have religious reasons to attack Joseph Smith. Archibald Sayce was a reverend who went by the name Rev. A.H.Sayce. For some reason, CES Letter covers this up by changing his name to Dr. A.H. Sayce. Flinders Petrie was the son of a minister who studied archaeology because of his father’s sermons about the pyramids. As for James Breasted, we can see that he considered the Catholic Church the bedrock of Western civilization which he was determined to preserve.

Scholars Today – Today, scholars are more careful to avoid sounding foolish. The ones that do sound foolish likewise have an obvious religious bias.

Robert Ritner of the University of Chicago (same college as James Breasted) recently wrote an attack piece on the Book of Abraham, filled with all kinds of fallacies and falsehoods. It sounds like it was written by a self-assured high school student, really, who read about the Book of Abraham on Wikipedia and thought he knew everything about everything. He also references James Breasted who we have seen was a White Supremacist. I don’t know what Robert Ritner’s bias is or what religion he belongs to, but he approaches the subject with a very poor understanding of the subject.

It would be nice if an intelligent, knowledgeable non-LDS Egyptologist would study the Book of Abraham. But they probably don’t because it would take a lot of time. Dr. Hugh Nibley has written thousands of pages on the subject and obviously spent many years studying it. Why would a non-Mormon be that interested in studying it? Also, because of the separation of the Abraham context with the Egyptian meaning, and because there is so much that simply hasn’t been discovered in archaeology, the most knowledgeable person in the world couldn’t really say conclusively whether Joseph Smith was right or not, based on physical evidence.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehoods CES Letter calls the 1800’s-era academics “respected Egyptian scholars/Egyptologists.” Either they are Egyptian scholars (as in, an Egyptian who is a scholar) or an Egyptologist. You can’t be both.

CES Letter says they “are” respected scholars rather than they “were” respected scholars. This implies that they are still living, which is false.

Repetition I think what CES Letter meant to say is that they are were scholars of Egyptian studies and Egyptologists. In that case, it is a repetition fallacy.

CES Letter says the Book of Abraham issue “offers a real insight into Joseph’s modus operandi.” They use this term “modus operandi” three times, every time they want to call Joseph Smith a liar. The term “Joseph Smith’s modus operandi” was invented by anti-Mormon Richard P. Howard of the RLDS splinter-sect who said the rediscovered papyrus fragment “discloses the modus operandi of Joseph Smith in determining its context,” but he never tells us what that process was. Neither does CES Letter. They simply use the term as a euphemism for saying he lied.

Shifting Goalposts CES Letter compared the Book of Abraham to “Modern Archaeology” in multiple arguments. But now suddenly they ignore modern Egyptology and archaeology, and instead quote three people from the 1800’s.

Later, CES Letter attacks the LDS church for temporarily excluding people of African descent from priesthood positions. But here they are quoting White Supremacists to attack the church?

Appeal To Authority These guys at first sound like they could indeed be “respected Egyptian scholars,” but I don’t see anything in their statements to demonstrate why the Book of Abraham would be false. Where is their evidence? There is also a mountain of information that they didn’t know about in those olden days.
Appeal To Ridicule CES Letter says the Book of Abraham issue “both fascinated and disturbed” them.

This is a pretty sad attempt by CES Letter. They dig up three quotes from the 1800’s by racial supremacists to convince us that ‘science’ contradicts the Book of Abraham? This shows just how sad and shallow their arguments really are.

Kafkatrapping – Then why does CES Letter risk this shallow argument? Nobody bothers looking these people up, that’s why! In the hundreds of years since these 19th century academics and the many thousands of times anti-Mormons have quoted them, has anything actually bothered to look them up? Has anyone uncovered their racist ideologies?

It is easy for an atheist to throw around science buzzwords that people trust because they hear it so much on the Discovery Channel. “Smith has turned the goddess into a king and Osiris into Abraham!” Oh boy, yeah, we can’t do that, can we? Wow yeah, that person sounds smart! Then anyone who calmly explains why the anti-Mormons are wrong are immediately distrusted, because why would you have to go on for hours using archaeology that I’ve never heard about if your argument is valid?

That is what’s going on here. People are understandably wary of crazy history blogs that claim the earth is flat or aliens created humans. They use sophistry and fringe claims that only university professors are qualified to talk about, those who have studied it for decades. So it is really useless to try to talk about this.
The great thing is we don’t need to! The fact is, the recovered papyri are not the basis for the Book of Abraham! This entire argument is built on a false strawman portrayal of what Mormons believe. It is an effective argument because people naturally trust scientific buzzwords over a fringe book of scripture from some ancient prophet.

Just raising the question gives it some tiny amount of credibility. As is often the case with innuendo, this argument successfully uses the kafkatrapping tactic. They begin with the frame that the Book of Abraham’s relationship with the bible deserves to be called into question, and we buy into it. As one of the strongest physical evidences for the Mormon Church’s authenticity, this allows CES Letter to go on and use physical evidence as a wedge to attack the church. This leads to an obsession with truth that you can only see, and a superstitious outlook.

Fake Science – Satan wants people to pridefully think they know all about science, but really they know very little. The Satanic appeal to science is useful for anti-Mormons if it can propagate fake science that leads people astray. That’s why you have top “respected” scientists giving us “proof” for why God doesn’t exist. Followers of Satan accept this fake science without the slightest critical thought or understanding of nature’s laws. It is willful ignorance.

Do You Want Evidence Or Relics? – Why does there need to be smoking-gun evidence? We are not a church that deals with relics, like pieces of Noah’s ark or the cup of Jesus Christ. CES Letter sets the narrative that we need to have some kind of physical objects, like the Catholic crusaders who scoured the Holy Land for objects from the bible. Well, the Mormon church does not do this, because any archaeological finding could be called a fraud, or dismissed as a coincidence, and real faith is not built on this kind of physical pursuit.

Superstition is spiritual belief built on a physical premise. Why is there lightning in the sky? Must be a manifestation of the gods! I think a better path toward truth is physical conclusions based on physical evidence and spiritual conclusions based on spiritual evidence.

Does CES Letter believe in human evolution? Well, plenty of bones have been found to support this scientific model but there is no smoking gun; there are missing pieces of the puzzle, and it has not been reproduced in a laboratory or demonstrated in real life. It is still just a scientific model for what could have happened. The same goes for Book of Mormon archaeology. So many physical pieces of the puzzle have been found, but there are always going to be missing pieces, because we are talking about an ancient civilization that got wiped out. Anti-Mormons can always fall back on the missing puzzle pieces and claim “no archaeological evidence exists.”

The church has been upfront since the beginning. Back when the papyrus fragment was first discovered, Dr. Hugh Nibley, wrote a monumental explanation, ‘Joseph Smith Papyri,’ at the behest of the church, and it pretty well explains everything. But CES Letter doesn’t bother looking at it.

Satan tempts followers of Christ by telling them that God hasn’t answered their questions. This places the burden on “church authorities” to answer every little question in life instead of you finding out answers for yourself. CES Letter‘s logic reflect the simplistic idealism that we see in the Plan of Satan. This idealistic standard for “correctness” makes people bitter that God allows tragedies to happen in their lives. It makes them skeptical of any opinion that doesn’t fit their narrow preconceived view of perfection. It thus sets a narrative that destroys Mormons’ testimonies and promotes Satan’s agenda.

God As A Dictator – Followers of Satan want everything spelled out for them. Do this. Say this. Don’t even bother thinking critically or making judgement calls for yourself. This is the heart of CES Letter‘s strawman argument that scripture should be a perfect, crystallized model of truth for every word we say and movement we make. They are authoritarian personalities who want a dictator.

Then again, Satanists don’t actually have a rigid model for truth. They only have their ideology, and they follow an ever-changing narrative to suit whatever helps the Satanic ideology in that moment. So, if you can’t trust ancient scripture to be infallible truth, who can you trust? Science! Science will tell you all you need to know. Science is great for Satanist because conclusions are always changing, always updating, and are easily manipulated. The frequent shifts in science can be exploited to push Satan’s ideology, which is an ideology of universal salvation and no personal responsibility.

Did Jeffrey R. Holland Say He Didn’t Know How The Book Of Abraham Was Translated?

  • “Sweeney: Mr. Smith got this papyri and he translated them and subsequently as the Egyptologists cracked the code something completely different…
  • Holland: (Interrupts) All I’m saying…all I’m saying is that what got translated got translated into the word of God. The vehicle for that, I do not understand and don’t claim to know and know no Egyptian.” (CES Letter)

BBC has the 2012 interview video blocked, so we cannot tell the context. The entire video and interview was a hitpiece by BBC on Mit Romney who was a presidential candidate at the time. They wanted to show why we should worry about having a Mormon as president. BBC snipped Elder Holland’s comment so we don’t know what they talked about before or after. It sounds like Holland went on to give more explanation and the BBC journalists snipped it all out. They wanted to make Mormons look bad in order to attack Mitt Romney because of his religious beliefs.

Holland Does Not Know Egyptian – Elder Holland said he doesn’t know Egyptian, the “vehicle” for the translation. So what? Well, why would Elder Holland know how Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham from Egyptian? Is he a professor of linguistics?CES Letter sets up this expectation where prophets and apostles are like Dumbledore the wizard and they know everything about everything.

Holland did not go to school in Egyptology. BBC should interview an Egyptologist instead. Holland was not around when Joseph Smith translated the book, so how would he know how he did it? How could anyone know?

The scriptures give us a clue about translating, “you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right.” Joseph Smith did not just have words just appear to him through a stone in a hat. This is a lie that anti-Mormons push and, unfortunately, some Mormons accept. The rock in the hat narrative is false. Joseph Smith had to study it out just like anyone else who is translating, though the Urim and Thummim gave him a lot of help. The Book of Abraham took many years to complete and was by all accounts a very laborious process. Why would Elder Holland just one day out of the blue be able to speak Egyptian and describe the entire process?

Don’t Feed The Narrative – Furthermore, why should Elder Holland jump through hoops and answer to a BBC gutter-rat reporter? John Sweeney only wanted to attack Mormons and tear down the Republican presidential candidate. Sweeney wasn’t interested in how Egyptian is translated. Jesus told us not to open our mouths to deceitful wolves like John Sweeney. Honestly, I wish Holland had told Sweeney to pound sand, stood up and walked away.

The more we try to explain ourselves the more we feed this anti-Mormon narrative that we must either know everything or we don’t know anything. We do not need to be professors of Egyptian to know the truths in the Book of Abraham. We do not need a play-by-play explanation for how Joseph Smith translated it. The first time you bought a car, did you study car mechanics, pull apart the engine of your car, and examine every single piece to make it is a true engine? No, you knew that the engine runs and that by all appearances it was an engine. Likewise, we have sufficient evidence that this book is true scripture. And if that is not enough for you, by all means look at the physical evidence and look into the Egyptian origins.

Do mainstream Christians need to know ancient Hebrew? Do believers in evolution need to know every detail of evolution that has been discovered? CES Letter incorrectly claimed quantum mechanics taught scientists that the sun’s energy is internal, so I guess that tells us how much they know about what they believe in!

CES Letter spins the narrative around this BBC interview:

“Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was directly asked about the papyri not matching the Book of Abraham in a March 2012 BBC interview… Is ‘I don’t know and I don’t understand but it’s the word of God’ really the best answer that a ‘prophet, seer, and revelator’ can come up with to such a profound problem that is driving many members out of the Church?”

I didn’t see anything in BBC’s question about papyri not matching, but the answer to that is very simple: The recovered papyrus fragment is not the source for the Book of Abraham. My guess is Elder Holland said this and BBC clipped it out of the interview, or BBC never addressed the recovered fragment.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Strawman Fallacy The LDS church has never said anything to lead us to believe that apostles should know the process of translating Egyptian. BBC News and CES Letter‘s transcription take Elder Holland’s comments totally out of context, clip out much of his explanation, and falsely implies that he provided no further explanation.
Emotional Language “Profound problem”… What profound problem?
Argument From Ignorance How many people leave the church because of the Book of Abraham? My guess is few or none. Some might say that is the reason but it is just justification for the real reason, such as social issues like gay marriage or someone that offended them.
Circular Argument We know Elder Holland can’t explain it because he is a fraud, and we know he is a fraud because he can’t explain it.

Use Opponent As Authority Tactic – This is a popular Marxist tactic that anti-Mormons use. They use Mormonism’s own authorities to discredit the faith, such as an alleged Mormon scholar. There is a lot of solid LDS literature about the Book of Abraham, and CES Letter has a hard time twisting them. So they instead take a snippet of quote totally out of context (I don’t think CES Letter ever quotes a Mormon not out of context) to make it sound like we don’t know anything, and ignore the vast explanations we do give. They pretend like the church hasn’t explained anything about how the Book of Abraham was produced, and that is totally false.

What makes this argument powerful is that it quotes an apostle. It:

  • Deceptively discredits the vast libraries of study on Book of Abraham by LDS professionals.
  • Gives more focus to a phony frame that attacks the Mormon church.
  • Divides the ranks of the church.
  • Establishes a frame that demands a clear, modern explanation in the Book of Abraham for every religious issue in existence, and that it be exactly corroborated by every other Mormon source.

The church has been upfront since the beginning. Back when the papyrus fragment was first discovered, Dr. Hugh Nibley, wrote a monumental explanation, ‘Joseph Smith Papyri,’ at the behest of the church, and it pretty well explains everything. But CES Letter doesn’t bother looking at it.

Satan tempts followers of Christ by telling them that God hasn’t answered their questions. This places the burden on “church authorities” to answer every little question in life instead of you finding out answers for yourself. CES Letter‘s logic reflect the simplistic idealism that we see in the Plan of Satan. This idealistic standard for “correctness” makes people bitter that God allows tragedies to happen in their lives. It makes them skeptical of any opinion that doesn’t fit their narrow preconceived view of perfection. It thus sets a narrative that destroys Mormons’ testimonies and promotes Satan’s agenda.

God As A Dictator – Followers of Satan want everything spelled out for them. Do this. Say this. Don’t even bother thinking critically or making judgement calls for yourself. This is the heart of CES Letter‘s strawman argument that scripture should be a perfect, crystallized model of truth for every word we say and movement we make. They are authoritarian personalities who want a dictator.

Then again, Satanists don’t actually have a rigid model for truth. They only have their ideology, and they follow an ever-changing narrative to suit whatever helps the Satanic ideology in that moment. So, if you can’t trust ancient scripture to be infallible truth, who can you trust? Science! Science will tell you all you need to know. Science is great for Satanist because conclusions are always changing, always updating, and are easily manipulated. The frequent shifts in science can be exploited to push Satan’s ideology, which is an ideology of universal salvation and no personal responsibility.

So if Social Justice Warriors can convince you that the Book of Abraham is not trustworthy as ancient, unchanging truth, then they can also convince you that a good alternative to scripture should be constantly edited to fit modern circumstances and push this oppressive gospel of Satan. They make the case that modern “scripture” should direct every explicit part of your life, from the way you tie your shoes in the morning to which words you are allowed to speak.

Do You Want Evidence Or Relics? – Why does there need to be smoking-gun evidence? We are not a church that deals with relics, like pieces of Noah’s ark or the cup of Jesus Christ. CES Letter sets the narrative that we need to have some kind of physical objects, like the Catholic crusaders who scoured the Holy Land for objects from the bible. Well, the Mormon church does not do this, because any archaeological finding could be called a fraud, or dismissed as a coincidence, and real faith is not built on this kind of physical pursuit.

Superstition is spiritual belief built on a physical premise. Why is there lightning in the sky? Must be a manifestation of the gods! I think a better path toward truth is physical conclusions based on physical evidence and spiritual conclusions based on spiritual evidence.

Does CES Letter believe in human evolution? Well, plenty of bones have been found to support this scientific model but there is no smoking gun; there are missing pieces of the puzzle, and it has not been reproduced in a laboratory or demonstrated in real life. It is still just a scientific model for what could have happened. The same goes for Book of Mormon archaeology. So many physical pieces of the puzzle have been found, but there are always going to be missing pieces, because we are talking about an ancient civilization that got wiped out. Anti-Mormons can always fall back on the missing puzzle pieces and claim “no archaeological evidence exists.”

Did Joseph Smith Get The Book Of Abraham Cosmology From ‘Philosophy Of A Future State’?

“There’s a book published in 1830 by Thomas Dick entitled The Philosophy of the Future State. Joseph Smith owned a copy of the book and Oliver Cowdery quoted some lengthy excerpts…” (CES Letter)

At first glance it appears that Joseph Smith may have been influenced by this book in his discussions about cosmology. There are similarities between this book and some of Joseph Smith’s ideas, yes, but there are also important differences. When it comes to the Book of Abraham, there are two very important differences:

  1. This book teaches creatio ex nihilo, creation from nothing, while Abraham indicates matter is eternal. CES Letter incorrectly claims this book teaches an eternal nature of matter, and earlier CES Letter attacked the Book of Abraham for not teaching creatio ex nihilo. They incorrectly said it is modern science.
  2. This book teaches God has no “visible form” and is “incomprehensible.” The Book of Abraham disagrees.

This book gets much of its philosophy from ancient sources, so why shouldn’t Joseph Smith have similar ideas? Even if Joseph Smith’s ideas did spark from reading this book, which we don’t know whether they did or not, why shouldn’t he get inspired by reading an interesting book, and then get further inspiration about which ideas are true and which are false?

CES Letter quotes anti-Mormon Klaus Hansen as saying there are four similarities between this book and Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham:

  • Eternal Matter – “Dick’s lengthy book, an ambitious treatise on astronomy and metaphysics, proposed the idea that matter is eternal and indestructible and rejected the notion of a creation ex nihilo.”
     
    False. This is 100% incorrect. Take a look at Philosophy of a Future State, it teaches the creatio ex nihilo doctrine, in contradiction with the Book of Abraham.

    “None but that Eternal Mind which counts the number of stars, which called them from nothing, into existence, and arranged them in the respective stations they occupy, and whose eyes run to and fro through the unlimited extent of creation, can form a clear and comprehensive conception of the number, the order, and the economy of this vast portion of the system of nature.”

    “What successive creations have taken place since the first material world was launched into existence by the Omnipotent Creator? What new worlds and beings are still emerging into existence from the voids of space?”

    It teaches that laws and truth are eternal and that resurrection will be a physical restoration, yes, but there is nothing about Joseph Smith’s and Abraham’s doctrine that matter is eternal.

  • Innumerable Stars – “Much of the book dealt with the infinity of the universe, made up of innumerable stars spread out over immeasurable distances.”
     
    This is directly from the bible. CES Letter is cherry-picking a biblical theme between the Book of Abraham and some other book to try to insinuate some causation relationship–the same game CES Letter played with the Book of Mormon and random books that Joseph Smith might have read. But this kind of correlation is to be expected if both books relate to the bible. Lots of 19th century books talked about the immensity of the firmament.

    Hebrews 11:12: “Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.” Hey look at that, the bible talks about innumerable stars, and you want to know what else? That verse is talking about Abraham! Look at any of the vast library of ancient books about Abraham and you will find them talking about innumerable stars. So, does that mean the Apocalypse of Abraham was based on this random book Philosophy of a Future State?

    I don’t find anywhere in the book that mentions stars spread over innumerable distances. This appears to be a false claim. It says the distances are “immense” but that’s it.

  • Life Among Other Stars – “Dick speculated that many of these stars were peopled by ‘various orders of intelligences.’”

    The book refers to “various orders of intelligences” in terms of evolved or unevolved animals: “the number of species which diversify the ranks of superior intellectual natures.” Again, a biblical and ancient theme. But the Book of Abraham only speaks of an “order” referring to the hierarchy of stars or glories, some being greater than others. A totally different context. Abraham does not describe orders of “intelligences.” He only says some were “noble and great,” which we see in other ancient scripture, such as the Book of Enoch.

    Abraham also never mentions intellegences existing at other stars or worlds.

    Maybe it is shocking to read another religious book that talks about “intelligences” in cosmology? Well it shouldn’t be. A quick Google search comes up with 360 books that talked about “intelligences” published prior to the Book of Abraham translation. It was a common way of referring to incorporeal life, not unique to these books. The early 19th century dictionary defined “intelligence” as a “spirit being.” You can’t hold it against the Book of Abraham that Joseph Smith translated it with common definitions of words for his day rather than modern times.

    But the book actually defines “intelligences” differently than the Book of Abraham. It says intelligence and soul is the same thing:”And the Creator is under no necessity to annihilate the soul for want of power… or for want of space to contain the innumerable intelligences that are incessantly emerging into existence.” Joseph Smith taught intelligence is organized into spirit, not the soul, and that it always existed.

  • Orders Of Intelleligences – “…and that these intelligences were ‘progressive beings’ in various stages of evolution toward perfection.”
     
    The book defines the “first states of improvement” for man as starting out “like Adam after his creation.” The book describes it as evolution from a totally primitive state. This is nothing like the doctrine of our eternal progression from a “first estate,” described by Abraham. Adam started out as the godly figure Michael, a doctrine that CES Letter later rakes Brigham Young over the coals for. Now suddenly CES Letter thinks we believe Adam was primitive?

    The book’s philosophy of progression is similar to LDS doctrine, which is not surprising considering stages of progression is a popular and widespread ancient concept. But the book sounds more like Hinduism’s doctrine of reincarnation. LDS scripture does not describe Adam as a lower form of intelligence, but rather one of the “noble and great.” The general idea of eternal progression or development was widespread and is also found in the bible.

  • Populating Numerous Stars – “In the Book of Abraham, part of which consists of a treatise on astronomy and cosmology, eternal beings of various orders and stages of development likewise populate numerous stars.”
     
    The Book of Abraham never said intelligences populate other stars. Doesn’t say it. Matt Stone and Trey Parker may think Mormons believe this, but that doesn’t make it true.
     
  • Universe Revolves Around Throne Of God – “Dick speculated that ‘the systems of the universe revolve around a common centre…the throne of God.'”
     
    This is a misquote. The book actually says “all the systems of the universe revolve round one common centre.” CES Letter and this anti-Mormon author misquote this to hide the massively different cosmology. Where did Abraham say anything about the universe revolving around something? The qualities of Kolob, which Joseph Smith actually attributed to Egyptian belief and not Abraham, sound more like modern cosmology than what this book is speculating. Abraham never said the entire universe rotates around a central “throne of God,” and Mormons never believed this.

    The Kolob figure in Facsimile 2 was interpreted as “the first creation, nearest to the celestial,” and a governing glory. That’s it! Nothing about revolving around it or even about it being a star. The only similarity here is the phrase “throne of God” and the idea of a cosmological body governing other bodies, which is a common concept. But it’s nice that CES Letter finally admits that the Kolob figure in Facsimile 2 means more than just “the residence of God!”

  • Hierarchy Of Stars From Center Of Universe – “Other stars, in ever diminishing order, were placed in increasing distances from this center.”
     
    This is totally different than the cosmology described by Abraham. Abraham’s cosmology is geocentric, with the earth in the center, and it talks about Kolob’s revolutions alongside with the other glories. So the only parallel here is that both books talk about some kind of cosmological hierarchy.

    CES Letter Logical Fallacies

    Falsehood CES Letter misquote Philosophy of a Future State to make it sound closer to LDS cosmology. It reads “around one common centre” not “around a common centre.”

    CES Letter incorrectly claims the book teaches eternal existence of matter. Actually it teaches the opposite.

    CES Letter incorrectly claims the book teaches an innumerable distance between stars.

    CES Letter incorrectly claims the Book of Abraham teaches intelligences populating stars, the universe revolving around the throne of God, and a hierarchy of stars around the universe’s center.

    Shifting Goalposts Later, CES Letter claims Mormons believed Adam was God–the so-called Adam God theory. But suddenly now they claim Mormons believed this book’s progression of existence, which includes Adam starting out in a primitive state.

    Earlier, CES Letter claimed figure 1 of Facsimile 2 was “Kolob, the residence of God” according to Joseph Smith. They ignored the part of Joseph Smith’s interpretation about “nearest to the celestial… first in government” because that actually paralleled the Egyptian context for that figure. But now suddenly Kolob is “nearest unto the throne of God.”

    Cherry-picking Just like their ridiculous parallels with the Book of Mormon and random books, CES Letter cherry-picks and skews a handful of similarities.
    Confirmation Bias Hundreds of books talked about “intelligences.” There is no logical case for causation rather than mere correlation in this case.
    Etymology Fallacy The Philosophy of a Future State defines “intelligences” differently than the Book of Abraham. But CES Letter claims “eternal beings” are “too, are called ‘intelligences'” in the book. Actually, “souls” are called intelligences, not “spirits.”
    Strawman Argument CES Letter totally misrepresents LDS cosmology and what the Book of Abraham says.
    Burden Of Proof How are we supposed to disprove this argument? The burden lies on CES Letter to demonstrate that Joseph Smith copied modern ideas into the Book of Abraham, not rely on coincidences and circumstantial evidence.
    Guilt By Association CES Letter adds the bit about alien stars being populated by various intelligences in order to peddle the popular myth about Mormons, that we believe people get their own planet after they die.
    Big Lie Tactic – Like previous arguments, the reader thinks, “Maybe Jospeh Smith read this philosophy book and it influenced him, maybe not. Who knows?” The point of this argument is not to convince us that Joseph Smith ripped off ideas for the Book of Abraham, but to associate Joseph Smith with hokey 19th century metaphysics. That is what really makes this argument effective. Even if you walk away shaking your heads at the claim that Joseph Smith stole ideas, you still associate him now with hokey unscientific ideas. Thus, CES Letter establishes their narrative that Mormons are superstitious.

    This is how CES Letter operates: through innuendo. They push the Big Lies, they wrap them in a veneer of science, and this convinces the weak-minded members of their audience that science is a superior alternative truth to Mormonism. This is what is known as superstition. Not science. This is like saying Joseph Smith was visited by an ancient alien in his First Vision at Cumorah, rather than God and angels. It is unscientific, goofy, and erases all faith.

    The first Big Lie that CES Letter told was that Joseph Smith’s source for the Book of Abraham was a 1st century AD papyrus that had nothing to do with Abraham. This one singular lie leads to further lies that attack one’s testimony of the gospel.

    Using the same tactic as in previous arguments, CES Letter builds a narrative for how Joseph Smith got the language, style, themes, and story-line for the Book of Abraham. One of the Book of Abraham’s strengths is its consistency with other ancient books about Abraham–books that Joseph Smith couldn’t have known about. CES Letter undermines this strength by lying about the Book of Abraham’s teachings, claiming that they are based on 19th century science and 19th century cosmology.

    In previous arguments, CES Letter demanded that Mormons validate every single thing mentioned in the Book of Abraham with plentiful physical evidence, or our narrative must be false. But now, CES Letter shifts the goalposts and cherry-picks a few loose parallels to some other random book. Why shouldn’t CES Letter have to validate every single comparison in their argument right now, if that narrative is true? Wouldn’t that be scientific?

    CES Letter thus begins to set a frame for how Joseph Smith produced the Book of Abraham, which by all appearances is a miracle. How did an uneducated young man come up with such imaginative themes, themes that happen to match ancient Abraham books so exactly? Easy. He stole it from this wacky book on metaphysics. CES Letter cherry-picks a few bits of evidence and frames it in a way that almost sounds plausible, by ignoring tons of inconvenient facts to support their wild and complicated narrative.

    Contradiction Strategy – The human mind is trained to find patterns and dissimilarities. It is easy–lazy really–to cherry-pick a few vague similarities between two random books, dress up the language to sound more similar, and build a narrative that one book derived from the other. This is the same argument that Leftists use against the bible. They say it was ripped off Babylonian, Sumerian, and Egyptian legends. The human brain is trained to look for discrepancies and patterns, so this trick is common. Pareidolia is why people see the Virgin Mary in breakfast cereal and figures on Mars. It is confirmation bias.

    When it comes to history, there is so much we don’t know and will never know. All we have are some fragments of bones in the ground and some texts that claim to be ancient. Fools jump to conclusions. Followers of Satan are easily tricked when it comes to pareidolia and history, because they are lazy and do not care to use critical thought. If there is vague evidence for something but we mostly don’t know what really happened because it is ancient history, followers of Satan will jump to lazy conclusions, whatever narrative is hyped on the History Channel and dressed up in emotional language.

    It is easy to manipulate Satan’s followers when it comes to history because they rely only on what they can see and put no true faith in anything.

    What does CES Letter believe in? What tenant of faith do hold that we can verify or discredit with these kinds of comparisons? Global warming? Human evolution? Give us something! Why don’t anti-Mormons discuss their alternative belief to the beliefs of the Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, and bible, and talk about physical evidences? Instead, they nit-pick and tear down an entire belief system with unscientific appeals to fake science.

    This Marxist propaganda technique is especially insidious as it defines Mormons in a constrained and unfair frame, and it rallies non-Mormons or anybody who was sitting on the fence in solidarity against Mormons and their beliefs.

    Use Opponent As Authority Tactic – This is a popular Marxist tactic that anti-Mormons use. They use Mormonism’s own authorities to discredit the faith, such as an alleged Mormon scholar. What makes this argument powerful is:

    • Deceptively discredits the vast libraries of study on Book of Abraham by LDS professionals.
    • Gives more focus to a phony frame that attacks the Mormon church.
    • Divides the ranks of the church.
    • Establishes a frame that demands a clear, modern explanation in the Book of Abraham for every religious issue in existence, and that it be exactly corroborated by every other Mormon source.

Why Are There Anachronisms In The Book Of Abraham?

“Chaldeans? Egyptus? Pharaoh? Abraham refers to the facsimiles in 1:12 and 1:14. These facsimiles did not exist in Abraham’s time as they are 1st century CE pagan Egyptian funerary documents.” (CES Letter)

Not Anachronism To use Later Names – Why shouldn’t Joseph Smith translate it as “Chaldea?” CES Letter talks about “pre-Columbian America” in another argument, but “America” wasn’t a name before Christpoher Columbus! The name America started in 1507. So by their definition, isn’t that an anachronism? So, CES Letter themselves understand that it is okay to use a name for a place that was invented later in history.

The word “Chaldea” is defined as the area encompassing a certain area, so why shouldn’t Joseph Smith use this word?

Chaldea Is Correct – Besides, these things aren’t really anachronisms. The Hebrew name for Chaldea, Kaśdim, existed before the nation of Chaldea, yes. But regardless when the nation Chaldea was established, the “name Chaldea is drawn from the Babylonian name for that area.” The Bible and Book of Abraham simply used the Babylonian name instead of the Hebrew name. Due to his origins in Ur, it makes sense that Abraham would use a Babylonian name.

Egyptus – In the Book of Abraham, Egyptus is the mother of Egypt’s founder. Is this name correct? Well, the early name for Egypt was Ht-ka-Ptah, or House of Ptah, which had always been the international name for the Egyptian capitol Memphis. Wouldn’t we expect the daughter of Egypt’s founder to be the “daughter” of “Ptah” (S3t-Pth), right? In the original Book of Abraham manuscripts, Egyptus was named Zeptah, which is very close to S3t-Pth, daughter of Ptah. Close match.

Herakleides recorded that “it was first a woman named Aegyptia who established her son and introduced weaving. Because of her, the Egyptians set up an image of Athena, as Ephorus says in his work on Europa.” Isocrates in Greece said the granddaughter of Zeus (Egyptus was the granddaughter of Noah) was the mother of Egypt’s ruler Busiris. Diodorus said “the Royal line of the Nile family after which the river is named, was formerly called Aegyptos.”

Pharaoh – Pharaoh is a very ancient word that means “great house,” referring to Egypt’s royalty. Archaeologists have not found evidence of of it being used to address the king rather than his “house” or position until 1479 BC, it is true. But the use of the name Pharaoh in the Book of Abraham easily fits the context of a royal household rather than singular person.

At first, the Book of Abraham talks about the “god of Pharaoh,” “priest of Pharaoh,” the “court of Pharaoh,” all references to the position of Egypt’s rulership–specifically the “house.” But then in verse 20 we are told: “Pharaoh signifies king by royal blood.” This fits the context we see in early Egypt of Pharaoh as the house of Egypt’s rulers.

It is only after Abraham specifies this that he starts talking about Pharaoh as a singular person–“a righteous man,” not of a priesthood lineage, etc.

FacsimilesCES Letter again repeats their false claim that the Facsimiles are “1st century CE pagan Egyptian funerary documents.” No, the portrayals in the Facsimiles existed long before the 1st century AD, and the Book of Breathings was not the source for the Book of Abraham. CES Letter is wrong, no matter how many times they repeat their claims.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood Chaldea, or in Hebrew Kadsim, is from a Babylonian word that likely existed in Abraham’s time.

The portrayals in the facsimiles existed long before the 1st century A.D.

Shifting Goalposts In a previous argument CES Letter talks about “pre-Columbian America,” but “America” wasn’t a name before Christpoher Columbus! The name America started in 1507. So by their definition, isn’t that an anachronism?
Argument From Ignorances Just because archaeologists haven’t dug up writings of people in Ur using certain words for Egyptian things doesn’t mean they never did.
Etymological Fallacy Maybe Joseph Smith simply picked modern words for people or places so we can know what he is talking about, like scientists refer to “ancient America.” Both the Bible and Book of Mormon appear to do this. In the Facsimiles as well, we see CES Letter obsess over names and nitpick differences rather than the meanings behind the figures, which is what is important.
Circular Argument The date of the Facsimiles is a different question addressed in a different argument. Why repeat it and make it part of this argument? CES Letter is apparently using the later use of these certain words as evidence that the Book of Abraham source was a 1st century papyrus fragment, which makes no sense logically and is false.
Ad Hominem CES Letter calls it a “Pagan” document.
Repetition “anachronisms… did not exist in Abraham’s time.” Redundant.

In previous arguments, CES Letter complained that Joseph Smith’s interpretations were not Egyptian enough. They nitpicked every figure in the Facsimiles and said they must be wrong because Joseph Smith did not give the specific Egyptian label that they think is correct. Well now, CES Letter shifts the goalposts and complains when Joseph Smith uses Egyptian labels (Babylonian really).

Pharaoh? Why, that wasn’t the king of Egypt’s name! Egyptus? That wasn’t the land’s name, even though Diodorus and Herakleides said it was!

So Joseph Smith just can’t win here. No matter which language’s name he gives for something, CES Letter is going to shift the goalposts and say it isn’t right in some other language or context. CES Letter sticks by their Big Lie.

It’s like a magician making a rabbit disappear. First, they show the empty box, and then they take a rabbit and put it in a new context, the magic disappearing box. CES Letter takes a fragment of parchment that was not the Book of Abraham source material, they say that it is the source but the date shows it was written later and not about Abraham. Then they open the door of the box, but the rabbit is behind a mirror so that it looks as if the box is empty. They say the names or modern inventions even though they are correct for Abraham’s Mesopatamian context. So now it looks like the papyrus fragment was definitely the source but had nothing to do with Abraham. Then they sneak the rabbit out of the back of the box out a secret door. They point out what Joseph Smith “misidentified” in the facsimiles and call the whole thing gibberish. Before we know it, we went from a book of scripture that was translated from a scroll that was burned in the Chicago fire to strictly the Egyptian names of gods in funerary documents, as they appear in the Book of Breathings. Presto! The box is empty!

Big Lie Tactic – Most anti-Mormons agree that the Book of Abraham is the “smoking gun” that disproves Mormonism. But that is just because they assume that the recovered papyri fragments are the source for the Book of Abraham. It is a big lie that compounds with further investigation of the Book of Abraham and leads to other lies.

This lie is easier for the CES Letter reader to believe after all those earlier arguments that attached the same narrative about the Book of Mormon.

If Joseph Smith used the same “peep stone” that he used to look for buried treasure to translate the Book of Mormon, doesn’t that make it easier to believe Joseph used a “common funerary document,” as anti-Mormons incorrectly call the fragment, to create the Book of Mormon? CES Letter says in both cases science disproves the claim of prophesy:

“This is a testable claim. Joseph failed the test with the Book of Abraham. He failed the test with the Kinderhook Plates. With this modus operandi and track record, I’m now supposed to believe that Joseph has the credibility of translating the keystone Book of Mormon? With a rock in a hat?”

Creating SuperstitionCES Letter reinforces their narrative that Mormons need science to validate every single detail of their faith. We must find a written parchment in the land of Ur that shows they used the name “Pharaoh.” CES Letter frames the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham as a “model” that has no evidence for it–an easy trick for them to play when it comes to ancient history as they discount every piece of evidence as coincidence, forged, or unfounded.

This kind of narrative led the crusaders to seek out physical objects from the holy land to validate the bible, pieces of the cross or the cup of Jesus Christ. It always leads to superstition, because no amount of science can prove without reasonable doubt that a historical object is what it purports to be. The Shroud of Turin? I mean, there is a mountain of evidence that correlates the Book of Abraham. Since the day of Joseph Smith, ancient book after ancient book has been discovered and translated into English that says the same thing as the Book of Abraham. No amount of scientific testing would convince the anti-Mormons. Even if the legitimacy of the claim were proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, they would pass it off as coincidence.

After all, that’s what they do with the copy of the Facsimile 1 diagram which was discovered by archaeologists with the name “Abraham” under it. Anti-Mormons reply, “well that doesn’t really say ‘Abraham.’ Just a name very similar to Abraham.” Yeah, uh huh.

Actually, I think it would be detrimental to Mormonism if undeniable evidence were found, because it would shift our narrative away from matters of faith toward unspiritual confirmation of a historical event from physical evidence. And that’s what CES Letter is trying to do. The shift away from faith serves Satan’s intentions because a person who relies on superstition is not practicing personal agency, but being total reliant on others for his beliefs and actions.

CES Letter can get away with this Big Lie claim because it is the consensus among so many people that Abraham did not write this book, and because it takes so long to explain the evidence. It is like claiming that the Library of Alexandria never really existed because we have no physical evidence today, apart from some alleged ancient tales. An archaeologist can give plenty of convincing evidence, but it would take hours.

By providing zero evidence to support their own claim, CES Letter makes the initial Big Lie appear self-evident, like the Book of Abraham must be false because it takes so long to explain it.

Joseph Smith explained:

“Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft.

…Mormonism is truth, in other words the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, is truth. … The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same.”

Contradiction Strategy – In the previous arguments, CES Letter nit-picked words to portray contradictions in the Book of Mormon. It is funny that in this argument we are not allowed to call a place by a name prior to that name being invented. No more “ancient America,” no more “Pre-Columbian America” even though CES Letter says that phrase themselves!

Naturally, following their modus operandi, CES Letter doesn’t bother backing up their argument. It just is. This is how CES Letter works. They give a few bits of incorrect leading evidence; the reader connects to dots in their mind; and CES Letter pushes it to a sweeping generalization. If there were any evidence for the Book of Abraham, why did Abraham use names that were in effect yet? Um, maybe because Joseph Smith put those words?! Is there some law that a person translating a record isn’t allowed to update names? People are much more likely to believe CES Letter‘s incredibly insensible string of logic because hey connected the dots out on their own, subconsciously. They are also more likely to believe the evidences for that deduction, which in this case are falsehoods.

Notice that instead of “1st century AD,” CES Letter says “1st century CE.” They always do this. CE stands for “common area,” and was created by atheist scientists because they didn’t want to date things according to the death of Jesus Christ–they wanted to distance science from Christianity. So this is a subtle circular fallacy by CES Letter, as it implies the ‘scientific way’ of dating events is superior to the Christian way… even though CE is exactly the same thing as AD.

CES Letter uses fake science–or in this case ridiculous logic–to point out an inconsistency regarding LDS belief, and then presents science as the superior alternative source for truth. CES Letter uses the Marxist contradiction strategy by narrowing a physical issue down to a binary context: either this recovered papyri fragment talks about Pharaoh and Egyptus, or the Book of Abraham was made up. No other choices. They then appeal to “science” and deconstruct the outdated Mormon belief.

Anti-Mormons typically present evidence for their binary context as self-evident and irrefutable, with no need for further explanation, and then they rapidly move on to other attacks that bolster the constrained definition. The purpose is not really to discuss names in the Book of Abraham, which would actually be an interesting discussion, but to shift the narrative from faith to binary science, and quickly move on to more effective attacks to strengthen this narrative.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with exploring and critically investigating physical evidence, such as the recovered papyri from Joseph Smith’s Egyptian collection that have survived. It is an exciting opportunity. The danger is when minds use faulty logic and leap to wild, simplistic conclusions.There is a smart and vibrant group of LDS scholars investigating the evidence and making great discoveries, which will increase what we learn from the Book of Abraham. They are careful not to become superstitious and search for holy grails to confirm their faith. They do not replace faith with a dependence on only what we can see.

CES Letter‘s attack on the Book of Abraham invalidates all ancient writing, which is quite convenient for Satan’s followers. Archaeology and historical science is only as useful as it can invalidate faith for them and momentarily be twisted to support Marxist ideas, such as the idea that mankind evolved from monkeys without a spark of divinity in them. They hold religions to the highest standards of skepticism, yet place blind faith in Marxism.

The Satanic substitute for religious scripture is the national-standard science textbook that jumps to wild politically correct conclusions and requires revising every year. It is the Bill Nye Science show that one day teaches kids that chromosomes determine your sex identity, rather than eternal spirit nature, and then the next day erases that segment from Netflix and teaches kids that sex identity is totally fluid. For followers of Satan, truth is only the narrative, and the narrative changes however it needs to in order to support the ideology in new circumstances.

Do The Book Of Abraham’s Claims About Kolob Contradict Modern Science?


Joseph Smith said figure 5 in Facsimile 2 was “said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power, which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars.” Anti-Mormons dispute this:

“We now know that the process of nuclear fusion is what makes the stars and suns shine. With the discovery of quantum mechanics, scientists learned that the sun’s source of energy is internal, and not external. The sun shines because of thermonuclear fusion; not because it gets its light from any other star as claimed by the Book of Abraham.” (CES Letter)

Did Joseph Smith say the sun gets its light from Kolob? No. He never claimed this. He said the Egyptians believed the sun borrows its light from “the first creation,” Kolob. This was “said by the Egyptians,” not by Joseph Smith or Abraham. CES Letter completely misrepresents what Joseph Smith said.

CES Letter takes what Joseph Smith clarifies is the Egyptian context of the facsimile and dishonestly says that is what Abraham was saying. No, that is what the Egyptians believed. CES Letter ignores Joseph Smith’s careful distinction between the Egyptian and Abrahamic context of the facsimiles in order to claim that Joseph Smith messed up the translation.

Gravity Not Heat – What governing power moves “fifteen other fixed planets” around the sun? Obviously gravity. So, were the Egyptians right that the sun “borrows its light” from this power, this “grand key” or “governing power” of gravity?

I hesitate getting into this too deeply because one needs to deeply understand physics to understand the question. CES Letter obviously doesn’t understand the physics, and they appeal to people who learn about science from cable television instead of textbooks. People are naturally distrustful of crazy metaphysical theories–understandably so–and the last thing I want to sound like is some crazy pseudoscience blog, which is what a correct full answer to this question would sound like to anyone who doesn’t have a masters degree in physics.

In short, the Egyptians, according to Joseph Smith, were not totally on target, no. After all, why would Joseph Smith clarify that this is just what the Egyptians thought? But it is interesting how close this their concepts are to modern science, and how correctly Joseph Smith talked about ancient astronomical theories.

CES Letter argues that “the sun shines because of thermonuclear fusion.” Well, yeah, fusion is how the sun produces sunlight radiation.

But where does the sun get its energy? We are talking about where the sun gets light, not how it produces light. Stars form when a mass of protons collect as dust, and its gravity collapses as it increases in mass. The gravity that formed the sun was instigated by some “nearby supernova explosion, collision with another gas cloud, or the pressure wave of a galaxy’s spiral arms passing through the region.” Some external force in the galaxy instigated the sun’s formation of mass.

Some speculate that Kolob has something to do with the center of the Milky Way galaxy. This is because the stars of our galaxy rotate around the galactic center of the Milk Way much like the planets of our solar system around the sun. Gravity is the common “governing power” that the sun holds over the planets and the galaxy holds over the sun. Using Newtonian mechanics, modern scientists have theorized that “the galactic center does really hold enough mass to exert gravity on the solar system to hold it in an orbit.” Our sun indeed formed from the “revolutions” of our galaxy, like Joseph Smith said the Egyptians believed. The sun gets energy from the galaxy’s gravity and movement, and it is governed by the galactic center. “From here emanates the power that holds our galaxy together.”

At a quantum level, motion is the key to creating particles. Gravity makes a field of objects move relative to another object as their “center.” When the Egyptians spoke of “borrowing light,” perhaps they referred to the transmission of photons that makes this movement possible: “A material particle moves relatively to another particle when it absorbs at least one photon energy.” The Egyptian concept of “borrowing light” does not quite sound the same as this modern understanding of the Milky Way’s formation, but it sounds similar.

If that sounds like a bunch of scientific mumbo-jumbo, fine, it doesn’t really matter. Really, the only thing Abraham actually said about Kolob is that it is, according to the facsimile, the first creation, closest to celestial glory, and it governs our “order.” Everything else about light and governing powers, is just what the Egyptians believed.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood CES Letter incorrectly claim, “With the discovery of quantum mechanics, scientists learned that the sun’s source of energy is internal, and not external.” If that were true, how did the United States build a fusion bomb without the use of quantum mechanics? The truth is, quantum mechanics is not how scientists discovered modern theories for the sun’s energy source.
Strawman Argument The Book of Abraham does not actually make this claim that the sun “receives” light from an external source. The question of how the sun produces energy is a big fake argument. What the Facsimile claims is about what governs the sun, and what Egyptians believed. CES Letter refuses to admit the obvious fact that Joseph Smith gave two different contexts for Facsimile 2, the Egyptian and the Abrahamic meanings.
Poisoning The Well I wish I could explain at length how the Book of Abraham aligns with modern science, but this is a no-win discussion for Mormons because it would involve highly complex ideas that most people do not study. People dismiss hearing new scientific explanations. This is why you see Hollywood keep complex scientific discussions on a second grade level. So CES Letter can throw out some smart-sounding buzzwords that they heard on the History Channel once and subvert any kind of rational discussion.
Appeal To Novelty CES Letter builds a narrative that quantum mechanics is superior to the gospel, even though they clearly do not understand it.
Shifting Goalposts CES Letter previously argued that the Book of Abraham is based on Newtonian mechanics. But where did Newton talk about the sun “getting” light from some other star? The physics they incorrectly attribute to Abraham here does not follow only Newton. It also involves quantum physics.
Appeal To Ignorance Quantum mechanics is a developing science but it is far from proven. By definition, you can’t prove it.
Repetition This argument builds on the vague innuendo that CES Letter already repeated.

Like in their previous argument, CES Letter repeats the premise of the argument several times instead of actually explaining it or giving examples.

CES Letter repeats this argument again on p. 68.

Kafkatrapping – It is easy for an atheist to throw around science buzzwords that people trust because they hear it so much in science class and on television. Quantum mechanics! Nuclear fusion! Wow yeah, that person sounds smart! Then anyone who calmly explains why the atheists are wrong are immediately distrusted, because why would you have to go on for hours using vague science that I’ve never heard about if your argument is valid?

That is what’s going on here. People are understandably wary of crazy metaphysics blogs that claim the earth is flat or aliens created humans. They use sophistry and fringe claims that only physics professors are qualified to talk about. So it is really useless to try to talk about this.

The great thing is we don’t need to! The fact is, we don’t have quantum mechanics or thermonuclear fusion in the Book of Abraham, because it isn’t a science textbook! This entire argument is built on a false strawman portrayal of what Mormons believe. It is an effective argument because people naturally trust scientific buzzwords over a fringe book of scripture from some ancient prophet.

This argument sounds like clown college to anyone who has studied physics. But it appeals to anti-Mormons who want to sound like smart scientists and bash religion smugly, like they see Bill Maher do on TV. The entire argument is goofy.

Previously, CES Letter said the Book of Abraham was not close enough to what we know about Egypt. But now they take something Joseph Smith correctly said about what Egyptians believed and say it is too antiquated–too different from the modern day. The shifting of goalposts is dizzying. They are just all over the place, and this shows just how dishonest they are. The last thing they are interested in is a reasonable discussion.

What is brilliant about CES Letter is how they allege unreasonable associations as well as unreasonable discrepancies, part of the Contradiction Strategy. They go back and forth between contradiction and similarity, like a demolition man swinging a rusted old metal pole back and forth in order to tear it out of the ground quicker. One second we are appalled at inconsistencies. The next we are shocked at the similarities. One second it is language similar to the bible. The next it is science that doesn’t fit modern quantum mechanics.

But just raising the question gives it some tiny amount of credibility. As is often the case with innuendo, this argument successfully uses the kafkatrapping tactic. They begin with the frame that the Book of Abraham’s relationship with the bible deserves to be called into question, and we buy into it. As one of the strongest physical evidences for the Mormon Church’s authenticity, this allows CES Letter to go on and use physical evidence as a wedge to attack the church. This leads to an obsession with truth that you can only see, and a superstitious outlook.

Fake Science – Satan wants people to pridefully think they know all about science, but really they know very little. CES Letter incorrectly believes quantum mechanics is necessary to know how the sun produces energy. But the Satanic appeal to science is useful for anti-Mormons if it can propagate fake science that leads people astray. That’s why you have top “respected” scientists giving us “proof” for why God doesn’t exist. Followers of Satan accept this fake science without the slightest critical thought or understanding of nature’s laws. It is willful ignorance.

CES Letter drops a few (incorrect) bits of leading evidence, and the reader connects to dots in their mind to the inevitable conclusion. If Abraham (Joseph Smith) thought the sun got light from some star named Kolob, and we know modern science disproves this, then Joseph Smith must be a conman. CES Letter does not give us this logic, but allows the reader’s mind to string it together. They do this because people are much more likely to believe a deduction if they figured it out on their own, subconsciously. They are also more likely to believe the evidences for that deduction, which in this case are falsehoods. Abraham (Joseph Smith) did not claim this. They did not say Kolob was a star. Modern science aligns with the idea.

Changeable Truth – What is the alternative to scripture that has remained essentially the same for many thousands of years? Well, scripture that is always changing. Truth that is never static for Marxists. In the anti-Mormon’s narrative, there is no way the story of Noah is true today the way it was back then, nor should it be. Truth is relative, always fitting modernity. It’s just another branch of science.

Today, why don’t we add some more female characters to the Book of Abraham story, to show that we are “inclusive?” Why don’t we add something to justify abortion? That is what the anti-Mormon alternative to scripture would be. It is important to keep religion based on immutable, eternal truth and separate from science, because humans are imperfect, and social justice always involves human avarice which always leads to atrocity.

Why Do KJV Bible Verses Appear In The Book Of Abraham?

“The Book of Abraham is supposed to be an ancient text written thousands of years ago ‘by his own hand upon papyrus.’ What are 17th century King James Version text doing in there?” (CES Letter)

Different Wording – Abraham narrates the same steps of creation that we see in Genesis, the same Garden of Eden, and so forth. The serpent, the expulsion, and Cain are all there, so I suppose this is what CES Letter referring to. But the two books are completely different–different wording, different text, different narrative. If anything, CES Letter ought to be complaining about conflicts between the two books. CES Letter claims:

“86% of Book of Abraham chapters 2, 4, and 5 are King James Version Genesis chapters 1, 2, 11, and 12. Sixty-six out of seventy-seven verses are quotations or close paraphrases of King James Version wording.”

Not true. In Genesis, Abraham goes straight from Canaan to Egypt, while in the Book of Abraham he has a lengthy vision of Jehovah. Some quotations match fairly closely, yes, such as Abraham’s instruction to Sarah to call him her brother in Egypt. But why is this a problem? Isn’t this to be expected if both books are telling the same story?

Let’s start with the beginning of the first allegedly parallel chapter:

Abraham 2: Genesis 11:

1. Now the Lord God caused the famine to wax sore in the land of Ur, insomuch that Haran, my brother, died; but Terah, my father, yet lived in the land of Ur, of the Chaldees. And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
2. And it came to pass that I, Abraham, took Sarai to wife, and Nahor, my brother, took Milcah to wife, who was the daughter of Haran. And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor‘s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.
3. Now the Lord had said unto me: Abraham, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.

4. Therefore I left the land of Ur, of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and I took Lot, my brother’s son, and his wife, and Sarai my wife; and also my father followed after me, unto the land which we denominated Haran.

But Sarai was barren; she had no child.

And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.

5. And the famine abated; and my father tarried in Haran and dwelt there, as there were many flocks in Haran; and my father turned again unto his idolatry, therefore he continued in Haran. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.
So we can see:

  • Genesis includes crucial details that the Book of Abraham does not, and the Book of Abraham includes details that Genesis does not.
  • Genesis claims Abraham followed his father Terah to Canaan, while the Book of Abraham claims Terah followed Abraham to Canaan.
  • Genesis claims Terah died at soon thereafter in Haran, while the Book of Abraham claims his lived and turned idolatrous.
  • Phrases that are parallel are shifted around and reworded.

Continuing…

Abraham 2: Genesis 12:

6. But I, Abraham, and Lot, my brother’s son, prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord appeared unto me, and said unto me: Arise, and take Lot with thee; for I have purposed to take thee away out of Haran, and to make of thee a minister to bear my name in a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice. Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
7 For I am the Lord thy God; I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool; I stretch my hand over the sea, and it obeys my voice; I cause the wind and the fire to be my chariot; I say to the mountains—Depart hence—and behold, they are taken away by a whirlwind, in an instant, suddenly.

8 My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.

9 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
10 And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;

11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
12 Now, after the Lord had withdrawn from speaking to me, and withdrawn his face from me, I said in my heart: Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee;

13 Thou didst send thine angel to deliver me from the gods of Elkenah, and I will do well to hearken unto thy voice, therefore let thy servant rise up and depart in peace.

14 So I, Abraham, departed as the Lord had said unto me, and Lot with me; and I, Abraham, was sixty and two years old when I departed out of Haran.

So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
15 And I took Sarai, whom I took to wife when I was in Ur, in Chaldea, and Lot, my brother’s son, and all our substance that we had gathered, and the souls that we had won in Haran, and came forth in the way to the land of Canaan, and dwelt in tents as we came on our way; And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
16 Therefore, eternity was our covering and our rock and our salvation, as we journeyed from Haran by the way of Jershon, to come to the land of Canaan.

17 Now I, Abraham, built an altar in the land of Jershon, and made an offering unto the Lord, and prayed that the famine might be turned away from my father’s house, that they might not perish.

18 And then we passed from Jershon through the land unto the place of Sechem; it was situated in the plains of Moreh, and we had already come into the borders of the land of the Canaanites, and I offered sacrifice there in the plains of Moreh, and called on the Lord devoutly, because we had already come into the land of this idolatrous nation.

19 And the Lord appeared unto me in answer to my prayers, and said unto me: Unto thy seed will I give this land.

And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.

20 And I, Abraham, arose from the place of the altar which I had built unto the Lord, and removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched my tent there, Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east; and there I built another altar unto the Lord, and called again upon the name of the Lord. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord.
21 And I, Abraham, journeyed, going on still towards the south; and there was a continuation of a famine in the land; and I, Abraham, oncluded to go down into Egypt, to sojourn there, for the famine became very grievous. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.

And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.

22 And it came to pass when I was come near to enter into Egypt, the Lord said unto me: Behold, Sarai, thy wife, is a very fair woman to look upon;

23 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see her, they will say—She is his wife; and they will kill you, but they will save her alive; therefore see that ye do on this wise:

24 Let her say unto the Egyptians, she is thy sister, and thy soul shall live.

25 And it came to pass that I, Abraham, told Sarai, my wife, all that the Lord had said unto me—Therefore say unto them, I pray thee, thou art my sister, that it may be well with me for thy sake, and my soul shall live because of thee.

And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:

Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.

Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

  • This time we can see some similar language. A couple verses from Genesis are found in the Book of Abraham at length, with a lot of detail filled in. This suggests Genesis could have been based on the Book of Abraham, or some derivative from the Book of Abraham.
  • Some details are conflicting, such as Abraham’s age. Genesis includes a separate vision of Jehovah.
  • Very significantly, the Lord tells Abraham to call Sarai his sister in the Book of Abraham version.
  • Phrases are more parallel this time, but the Book of Abraham contains much more text.

Did Joseph Smith Use The Bible To Translate? – The Book of Mormon includes language close to the KJV bible in lengthy quotes from Isaiah, but we would expect that from the Book of Mormon because it claims to be quoting from the bible. The Book of Abraham does not claim to be quoting anything. So why are some phrases very close to Genesis, as we see in the chart above?

Joseph Smith may have used the bible as a resource to making translating easier. I once sat down to translate a 15the century German book into English. Despite my fluency in German, I found this extremely challenging, and I was relieved when I realized parts of the book were quoting a book that had already been translated into English. With great relief, I grabbed that book and used it as a close reference for those parts.

Is this what Joseph Smith did with the Book of Abraham? Perhaps, but probably not. It is very telling that so many words are switched around and worded differently. It doesn’t make sense why Joseph Smith would be careful to switch wording so much in some instances yet keep other lengthy phrases exactly the same. Why would he be careful to make it not look like plagiarism some of the time but not the rest of the time?

There is a vast library of Abraham stories that we know for sure are ancient books and are written the same way, with some parts that sound like Genesis and other parts that don’t. More importantly, the Book of Abraham contains material from these other Abraham stories that aren’t in Genesis, such as a vision of the Creation, which we see in The Apocalypse of Abraham, and which Joseph Smith could not have had access to. In the Testament of Abraham Abraham confronts Satan who appears to him as a being of light, and Abraham orders him to depart. This story wasn’t available to Joseph Smith either, so why is it so similar to the Book of Abraham?

So, one could just as well say Joseph Smith plagiarized these pseudepigraphic texts as to say he plagiarized Genesis–except he couldn’t have because those texts weren’t available!

In any case, anyone who is bilingual will tell you there is no reason why Joseph Smith should mire through difficult Egyptian text when he could just grab a bible off the shelf for help. Why not use it for help? And the version of the bible is not important–the Book of Abraham is about as similar to other versions as the KJV. I think the more likely explanation, however, is that the Book of Abraham and the Genesis account are both derived from the same source, and that they therefore include different details and different wording.

But this argument is really impossible to answer and is asked in bad faith. One could complain that the Book of Abraham conflicts with Genesis too much, and then out of the other side of their mouth complain that they are too similar.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood CES Letter‘s 86% similarity claim is ridiculous. The Book of Abraham is totally different. CES Letter calls it “close paraphrases of King Joames wording,” but as we see from the chart above, Genesis often looks like paraphrasing compared to the Book of Abraham. What does CES Letter mean by “close paraphrasing?” What does that mean? Many details are different. The two books talk about some of the same stories, so of course there will be similarities. As for some phrases that are worded similarly, why wouldn’t they be, if they both came from Abraham?
Cherry-Picking CES Letter says 86% of certain cherry-picked chapters are “paraphrases” of the KJV bible. Certain chapters? That’s ridiculous! That’s like saying 86% of certain ingredients in beer is good for you. Talk about the book as a whole. You can’t just base a sweeping statistic on a narrow portion of something. I wouldn’t be surprised if CES Letter started saying, “100% of phrases that begin with ‘And it came’ and end with ‘pass’ are similar to the bible.”
Non Sequiter The 86% statistic is false, but besides that, CES Letter fails to demonstrate one example of “close paraphrases of King James wording,” or explain what that actually means. They have not shown that there is “17th century King James text” that ought not to be there. Why would the wording all be completely different if both books came from Abraham? The Testament of Abraham says God blessed Abraham “above the sand of the sea and above the stars of heaven.” Did they plagiarize that from Genesis 22? “I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore.” Well, in any case, it’s an ancient Apocryphal book, so if the Book of Abraham contains some similar lines as well that doesn’t negate it from being an ancient book.
Subjectivist Fallacy Whether two phrases are similar is a totally subjective opinion. When we see the Apocalypse of Abraham talk about the heavenly “firmament the powers of the stars,” which we don’t see in the Genesis Abraham account, do we conclude that the Book of Abraham plagiarized this: “stars, or all the great lights, which were in the firmament of heaven?” Well it couldn’t have, because the Apocalypse of Abraham hadn’t been discovered yet!
Shifting Goalposts CES Letter previously complained that the Book of Mormon is not similar enough to the bible. Now they complain that the Book of Abraham is too similar. In their previous argument CES Letter incorrectly said scientific ideas in the Book of Abraham are too different from ancient beliefs. Now they are arguing that the text is to similar to the ancient bible.No matter what, anti-Mormons can say any similarities or differences are evidence of fabrication. They could swing either way.

Kafkatrapping – This argument attacks the belief that the Book of Mormon is ancient scripture by cherry-picking associations with modern bible translations. CES Letter says the association is too strong, and then in other arguments they complain about supposed errors in the bible that are perpetuated. The truth is, the Book of Abraham is totally different, and we would expect similar phrases and a generally similar story-line if they both came from the same guy, Abraham.

What is brilliant about CES Letter is how they allege unreasonable associations as well as unreasonable discrepancies, part of the Contradiction Strategy. They go back and forth between contradiction and similarity, like a demolition man swinging a rusted old metal pole back and forth in order to tear it off quicker. One second we are appalled at inconsistencies. The next we are shocked at the similarities. One second it is language similar to the bible. The next it is science that doesn’t fit modern quantum mechanics.

But just raising the question gives it some tiny amount of credibility. As is often the case with innuendo, this argument successfully uses the kafkatrapping tactic. They begin with the frame that the Book of Abraham’s relationship with the bible deserves to be called into question, and we buy into it. As one of the strongest physical evidences for the Mormon Church’s authenticity, this allows CES Letter to go on and use physical evidence as a wedge to attack the church. This leads to an obsession with truth that you can only see, and a superstitious outlook.

Innuendo Rather Than LogicCES Letter drops a few (incorrect) bits of leading evidence, and the reader connects to dots in their mind to the inevitable conclusion. If 17th century language appear2 in the Book of Abraham, obviously the Book of Abraham wasn’t produced before then. CES Letter does not give us this logic, but allows the reader’s mind to string it together. They do this because people are much more likely to believe a deduction if they figured it out on their own, subconsciously. They are also more likely to believe the evidences for that deduction, which in this case are falsehoods.

Changeable Truth – What is the alternative to scripture that has remained essentially the same for many thousands of years? Scripture that is always changing, that’s what. Truth that is never static for Marxists. In the anti-Mormon’s narrative, there is no way the story of Noah is true today the way it was back then, nor should it be. Truth is relative, always fitting modernity.

Today, why don’t we add some more female characters to the Book of Abraham story, to show that we are “inclusive?” Why don’t we add something to justify abortion? That is what the anti-Mormon alternative to scripture would be.

Does The Book Of Abraham Teach A Discredited View Of Newtonian Physics?

This question is puzzling because I don’t see anything at all in the Book of Abraham about Newton’s laws of physics. Where does Abraham mention reactions being equal and opposite? I don’t see Newtonian physics anywhere. Anti-Mormons say:

“The Book of Abraham teaches a Newtonian view of the universe. Its Newtonian astronomy concepts, mechanics, and models of the universe have been discredited by 20th century Einsteinian physics… the nineteenth-century, canonized, Newtonian world view is challenged by Einstein’s twentieth-century science.” (CES Letter)

As well as being wrong about Newtonian physics in the scripture, CES Letter is wrong about science. The goal of science is to efficiently serve a utility, not to find final “truth.” Newtonian mechanics was used to go to the moon. Still today, “Newtonian mechanics and Galileo’s motionless Sun are completely adequate for the foreseeable needs of space travel.” Quantum mechanics by itself would be inappropriate because quantum mechanics is all about small atoms, not large galaxies. That’s why it’s called quantum mechanics. Scientists have developed different theories for different uses. Newtonian mechanics has not be discredited. Furthermore, religion is the appropriate study appropriate of spiritual truth; these scientific theories are not, because science changes.

CES Letter says Mormon scripture based itself on “nineteenth-century” science just like the “Catholic Church” based itself on science of flat-earth “Ptolemaic cosmology,” but this simply isn’t true. Science has always been separate from religion in the LDS church. Catholics tried to canonize science into theology, and that turned out bad. People were tortured for discovering new science. Churches should not adhere to any science because it is a different utility for truth and should not change.

Where in LDS scriptures do anti-Mormons claim outdated science is taught? CES Letter doesn’t say. Perhaps it is the discussion of light properties in D&C, or perhaps Abraham’s discussion of a hierarchy of cosmological systems? What are they complaining about? They don’t say. They just repeat their vague argument.

CES Letter quotes anti-Mormon Keith Norman:

“The revolution in twentieth-century physics precipitated by Einstein dethroned Newtonian physics as the ultimate explanation of the way the universe works. Relativity theory and quantum mechanics, combined with advances in astronomy, have established a vastly different picture of how the universe began, how it is structured and operates, and the nature of matter and energy.”

Abraham’s references to astronomy are not inconsistent with quantum theory, because he is talking on a macroscopic level. Quantum is about a small scale. As for Einstein’s relativity theory, the only difference with Newton, when it comes down to it, is when you approach the speed of light. There is no noticeable difference at normal speeds, with what you can see with the naked eye. Where does Abraham talk about fast speeds? He doesn’t. Where does Abraham talk about mechanical physics at all?

What CES Letter says about Einstein is untrue. Einstein introduced an upper limit to velocity–the speed of light–and said mechanical properties were relative depending on an object’s perspective. But Einstein did not disprove Newton’s laws. He also did not develop quantum mechanics. In fact, he opposed quantum mechanics.

A sophistic argument beloved by teenage anti-Mormon who pretend to be physics professors, this claim that the Book of Mormon contradicts modern science is hilariously wrong to anyone who paid attention in high school physics. It is so wrong.

CES Letter‘s vague reference to “how the universe began” and the “nature of matter” come from an article by Keith Norman, who he pretends is an “LDS scholar.” Looking at the article, the only real discrepancy I see him attempt to point out, is the Big Bang theory. He incorrectly argues that the Big Bang theory is creation ex nihilo. “It is remarkable how much this sounds like the orthodox doctrine of creation ex nihilo.” He says the Big Bang doesn’t allow for the ” organization of our world.”

Wait, didn’t CES Letter say we were the ones holding onto old, outdated beliefs? So actually they are the ones clinging to “orthodox doctrines?” They are trying to tell us matter was created, or appeared, out of nothing, a belief that stood proudly in the Catholic books next to the flat-earth theory. A theory that modern science has dispelled.

Big Bang Backs Up Abraham – The Book of Abraham speaks of the Creation in terms of raw matter being organized into worlds and galaxies. “The Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.” This does not refer to the creation of the universe as a whole, but of the creation of the earth and its inhabitants. Oh, but “what about the infinite regression of gods alluded to by Joseph Smith,” Keith argues?

Whether matter existed before the Big Bang, or if the Big Bang really happened, scientists do not know. Most say matter did exist before the Big Bang, though there must have been some starting point. Stephen Hawking says we can’t know what existed before the Big Bang because there is no way to observe it:

“Since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut them out of the theory, and say that time began at the Big Bang. Events before the Big Bang, are simply not defined, because there’s no way one could measure what happened at them.”

Time and space did not exist, which agrees with 2 Nephi: “And the days of the children of men were prolonged… their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened,” But something existed prior to the creation. Scientists talk about a “Big Bounce” and branching multiverses, because the fact that our universe immediately became ordered and did not fall prey to entropy is evidence that it was not just a random explosion. It was directed. On Gizmodo, scientists puzzle about why “our universe immediately arranged into lots of sand castles seemingly for no reason and with no help… The Big Bang could have (and maybe should have) resulted in a high-entropy mass of uniformly distributed, disorganized stuff. Instead, we’ve got star systems, galaxies, and galactic clusters all linked together with dark voids between them. We have order.”

To say everything suddenly appeared out of nothing is not what the Big Bang theory is. Energy is eternal, like Abraham said. Professor West Morriston of University of Colorado wrote a lengthy paper on exactly this subject, in which he concluded, “the Big Bang theory provides no support for the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. Even if it is granted that the universe had a ‘first cause,’ there is no reason to think that this cause created the universe out of nothing.”

Quantum Theory Backs Up Abraham – As for quantum mechanics, Keith hilariously claims it backs up creation ex nihilo as well:

“Augustine also established…[the belief regarding matter] having only contingent being, since it was created out of nothing. Similarly, quantum physics describes the ‘rational, orderly, commonsense world of experience [as]a sham. Behind it lies a murky and paradoxical world of shadowy existence and shifting perspectives.'”

He obviously doesn’t understand what Paul Davies is saying in that quote. Quantum mechanics is all about probability, while Newtonian mechanics is deterministic. Most physics students discern right away that this allows for free will. We are able to decide our actions and our not beholden to fate because of quantum spiritual properties that allow for any variable to exist. I’m not sure what this has to do with Augustine’s theory of “contingent being.” Keith appears to be just blowing hot air.

Geocentric Not Newtonian – But much of this discussion is moot because the Book of Abraham is not Newtonian. Keith claims “the Book of Abraham reflects concepts of Joseph Smith’s time and place,” but this simply isn’t true. Actually, it is geocentric, the belief that the earth stands at the center of the universe and everything rotates around it. That certainly wasn’t the prevalent belief in Joseph Smith’s time. But that is how civilizations understood the universe in Abraham’s time.

Abraham may have been an astronomer (a claim by Joseph Smith that doesn’t appear in the bible but does appear in many other ancient source, unbeknownst to Joseph), but he did not have access to a Hubble Telescope. He did not have an atom splitter. So why would he know about things like the Big Bang and the expanding universe? Why would God tell him about micro-particles? The cosmology in the Book of Abraham, including Kolob and eternal matter, is given to teach a spiritual message, not to be a science lesson. Furthermore, much of what Abraham gives, such as Facsimile 2, is what the Egyptians believed and what we can glean from them, not what is necessarily true.

“Fig. 5 is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh; this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key,”

Scripture is consistent with science’s assumption that there are universal laws governing the universe. The nature of God is order and laws, and religion is the pursuit of consistent laws governing morality and existence, which do not change.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehoods CES Letter‘s source, Keith Norman, incorrectly calls the Big Bang “creation ex nihilo.” No real scientist would agree. Something existed prior.

CES Letter falsely claims the Book of Abraham follows a scientific model that was invented after Ptolomy. Actually, Abraham describes the universe geocentrically, and I’m not aware of any 19th century doctrine that follows Abraham’s teachings. The entire premise of CES Letter‘s argument is false. The Book of Abraham is not Newtonian, nor is it contemporary 19th century.

Poisoning The Well I wish I could explain at length how the Book of Abraham aligns with modern science, but this is a no-win discussion for Mormons because it would involve highly complex ideas that most people do not spend their time studying. People tend to dismiss new scientific explanations that they don’t understand as just another crazy internet theory, which I can’t blame them for. This is why you see Hollywood keep complex scientific discussions on a second grade level. So, CES Letter can throw out some smart-sounding buzzwords that they heard on the History Channel once and subvert any kind of rational discussion.
Repetition CES Letter repeats the premise of this argument several times within the argument.
Appeal To Novelty CES Letter and Keith Norman argue science is always evolving and Joseph Smith’s Abraham character is stuck in an old discredited model which is “out of vogue.” At the same time, CES Letter complains that the Catholic Church, and now the LDS Church, is not updating to modern science doctrines. So what do you want? Should the church make science part of its doctrine or not? Actually, “cosmology” is hard to prove because it can’t be tested. Has anyone seen the Big Bang through a telescope? This is why the modern church and ancient prophets did not pretend to be science professors.
Strawman Argument CES Letter characterizes cosmology in the Book of Abraham totally wrong.

Keith Norman mischaracterizes the Big Bang theory and quantum theory.

Appeal To Novelty Their logic goes like this: We know the Book of Abraham reflects Joseph Smith’s modern thinking because it is Newtonian. We know it is Newtonian because Joseph Smith produced the Book of Abraham after Ptolomy.
Appeal To Ignorance The truth is, scientists don’t know how to reconcile the Big Bang with Newton. Gravity doesn’t end up behaving in astronomy like it does in everyday life, so they come up with something called dark matter to explain it. How do we reconcile expanding, less entropy, more organization in the universe over time? These modern theories do not invalidate Newton, they just don’t know. A good scientist will tell you they “don’t know” what existed prior to the Big Bang.
Non-Sequiter CES Letter speaks in broad terms with no specific arguments, because they know how goofy their position is. No part of the argument supports the conclusion. The universe came from nothing because there is uncertainty in quantum particles? Makes no sense. Or maybe logic is “out of vogue” too?
This argument sounds like clown college to anyone who has studied physics. But it appeals to anti-Mormons who want to sound like smart scientists and bash religion smugly, like they see Bill Maher do on TV. The entire argument is goofy.

The author of that Sunstone article, Keith Norman, doesn’t know what he is talking about. CES Letter also doesn’t represent his article fairly.

But the entire question is moot, because there is no logical reason why Abraham’s cosmology should follow Newton, Ptolomy, Einstein, or anyone else. There is no reason why he should magically know about the Big Bang or the expanding universe. CES Letter is basically saying, ‘Modern science exists. Modern Abraham does not exist. Therefore, it is not an ancient theory.’ Makes no sense.

The reason CES Letter threw in this goofy argument is because just the frame of the argument helps immensely push their “science is superior” frame.

Use Opponent As Authority Tactic – This is a popular Marxist tactic that anti-Mormons use. They use Mormonism’s own authorities to discredit the faith, such as an alleged Mormon scholar. What makes this argument powerful is:

  • Deceptively discredits the vast libraries of study on Book of Mormon theology by LDS professionals.
  • Gives more focus to a phony frame that attacks the Mormon church.
  • Divides the ranks of the church.
  • Establishes a frame that demands a clear, modern explanation in the Book of Mormon for every religious issue in existence, and that it be exactly corroborated by every other Mormon source.

Fake ScienceCES Letter constrains the physical evidence into a false dilemna–either Abraham teaches contemporary science or Abraham is wrong. This false argument appeals to science as the higher source for truth yet is itself highly unscientific. CES Letter thus puts the burden of proof on Mormons in bad faith.

They make a sweeping generalization with zero evidence. This is science? Actual science should be investigated and celebrated by Mormons and non-Mormons alike, but this is just generalizing. The Book of Abraham was never intended to be a science textbook or an authority about the mechanics of galaxy-generation. Abraham was writing a volume about theology.

The hilarious thing is that CES Letter has to position themselves as defending a debunked theory from the Dark Ages, creation ex nibilo, that was spread by superstitious monks who whipped themselves on the back and locked anyone in chains who disagreed. So much for progress!

CES Letter uses the Marxist contradiction strategy by narrowing a physical issue down to this binary context: either Abraham conforms to modern science or it is made up. No other choices. They then appeal to “science” and deconstruct the outdated Mormon belief.

Anti-Mormons typically present evidence for their binary context as self-evident and irrefutable, with no need for further explanation, and then they rapidly move on to other attacks that bolster the constrained definition. The purpose is not really to discuss Book of Abraham ideas, which would actually be an interesting discussion, but to shift the narrative from faith to binary science, and quickly move on to more effective attacks to strengthen this narrative.

Marxists love this argument because they love social evolution, and their version of science is part of that. They prefer a world where is science is updating to the new and greatest truth of the current year. Old science is “relics,” it is “out of vogue,” you see, and to Marxists this includes religion. This is why Keith says in his article, “Mormons should recognize the need to update their theology.”

To Marxists, truth is never static, but is a frame that teaches whatever it needs to in order to propagate the ideology in current circumstances. Apparently, right now it needs to be the Dark Age myth of creation ex nihilo!

Did Joseph Smith Correctly Translate Facsimile 3 In The Book Of Abraham?



Different Contexts – I don’t know why anyone would be shocked that the Facsimiles are Egyptian. They certainly look Egyptian to me! Joseph Smith said they contain Egyptian writing: “The characters are such as you find upon the coffins of mummies–hieroglyphs.” They were found with an Egyptian mummy. Why wouldn’t they be Egyptian?

CES Letter holds the Facsimiles to a strict Egyptian context, while Joseph Smith provided a different kind of context. Joseph explained that the Egyptian meaning was different than the Abrahamic meaning. He focused on how the Facsimiles related to Abraham instead of giving the text translation or the Egyptian funerary meaning.

This is important to understand for Facsimile 3 because it shows Egyptian gods in an afterlife judgement scene while Joseph Smith interpreted it as a scene involving Abraham and the king of Egypt. That’s perfectly alright. Egyptian funerary literature is all about mortal humans assuming the characters of gods. In the Facsimile 1 sed-festival scene, the king played out the character of Osiris in an Egyptian ritual: “In the Sed-Feast the king assumed the costume of Osiris and impersonated the life of the resurrected god. The king then became identified with Osiris.” The same thing happens in Facsimile 3. The deceased mummy that was found with this papyrus relates to the gods portrayed in the scene, and Abraham relates in some other document derived from the Egyptian scene.

Egyptian & Abrahamic Meanings Relate – The cemetery cross may hold a different meaning but it derives from the original Christian meaning. Likewise, we should expect the Egyptian meaning to be similar to Joseph Smith’s interpretation for Abraham. After all, why would “Pagan” Egypt be totally incongruent with the gospel? Couldn’t this judgement scene of Egyptian gods be derived from an earlier document that involved Abraham? Or couldn’t Abraham have derived a similar scene from the Egyptian document? Or they both derived from a common source? There is plenty of similarity between the literal Egyptian translation and Joseph’s Abrahamic translation to indicate one derived from the other.

Of the three facsimiles, this one differs the most between what Joseph Smith said and what Egyptologists give as the Egyptian meaning. This is a scene near the end of the Book of Breathings that shows the deceased mummy being judged for his sins. Joseph Smith says in Abraham’s context it is: “Abraham is reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy, in the king’s court.”

How do these two relate? Simple. Abraham reasoned upon astronomy in a ritual preparatory for judgement in the afterlife. Abraham matches Pharaoh with Isis, who was “the mistress of the beginning of the year” who circles in heaven near the stars of Orion. In this scene, Isis (Pharoah) says:

“I am Isis… I made manifest the paths of the stars. I prescribed the course of the sun and the moon.”

Osiris, the judge in this scene, was associated with Orion, “his abode in the sky,” and this scene shows the heavenly Duat aferlife, which is represented by the row of stars at the top. Those stars represent the souls of the dead, and the deceased mummy must pass through it all to be judged. Ancient astronomy was all about preparing for their path in the afterlife and the basic “triumph of good over evil.”

The deceased prays that he may be justified “against his enemies in the sky, in the earth, and in these seven councils of Osiris.” As with the other facsimiles, Joseph Smith interpreted their earthly significance as relating to Abraham, while the Egyptian funerary context related to the afterlife. But Abraham’s earthly studies of astronomy was a study of justice and divine judgement, the Egyptian context.

Egyptian vs. Abraham Meanings

1. 
This is Osiris sitting as judge. The crown on his head indeed represents divine authority of the heavenly grand presidency: “His head is adorned with the atef crown, symbol of supreme authority… Ra, the sun god, originally wore the crown.” He says, look at “my great atef crowns, which Ra has given me, which Atum (has established for) me.” With Atum being the more-or-less Egyptian equivalent of the LDS Adam/Michael, it is interesting, then, that Michael/Adam appeared to Abraham to initiate him through the mysteries.

The feather in the crown represents justice and the ram’s horns power. Osiris declares “Ra has give me” the crown, as a “visible emblem of his legitimate rule and authority; it represents his rule over earth as well as the Netherworld.” It is interesting that this crown relates to the “god of the dawn” and his “solar barque,” as Joseph Smith uses the same kind language here as he does for the solar barque in Facsimile 2. “Representing the Priesthood, as emblematical of the grand Presidency in Heaven.”

The crook in his hand indeed represents “justice and judgement” like Joseph Smith said. The Osiris crook and flail are “emblems of majesty and dominion” that allow Osiris to judge the deceased against the truth found in his crown’s feather. It is telling that Joseph Smith said Abraham as Osiris was executing “justice and judgement.” This tells us why he was “reasoning” on astronomy at all. It was all about justice and judgement by holding the keys of dominion, which is also what this judgement scene is all about in the Egyptian context. The shepherd’s crook represent’s the king “who secures food, protection, and justice for the people under his care… representation of authority.” It is, of course, a symbol for Jesus Christ, who gathers lost sheep and provides grace to all. Interestingly, Joseph Smith focused on the crook’s aspect as it relates to dominion and justice, which is a perfect bullseye for the facsimile’s Egyptian context.

Abraham assumes a role as Osiris the judge in this scene. In the Book of Abraham we read all about astronomy in the context of divine judgement and dominions. In the Testament Of Abraham, we read about how Abraham inherited the role of judge over the people from his patriarchal fathers, and how he learned to judge righteously.

It is quite impressive that Joseph Smith identifies Abraham with Osiris consistently in all of the facsimiles. This comes naturally to the LDS, who associate certain people with certain characters in their LDS ordinances, and it is also natural for Egyptians.

2. 
The hieroglyphic writing above the figure’s hand associates it with the goddess Isis. But the symbol above the figure’s head, which Joseph Smith says is the name of King Pharaoh, is the Horus sun disk. Now, if Joseph Smith were guessing, wouldn’t he have said the hieroglyphic writing was a name rather than the figure’s crown? How is a crown a name? But he is actually correct.

“Pharaoh” was a title, not a name. Each king of Egypt had a special “Horus” name–actually two Horus names: one that “designated the pharaoh as the god Horus on earth” and one that linked “pharaoh to the sun, divinity, eternity, earthly gold, and perhaps to Horus’ victory over Seth.” Now, we already saw how Osiris in figure 1 wore a “sign of his earthly rulership.” But astronomy was not just about earthly judgement, but judgement in the afterlife as well. The second Horus name is called the the Golden Horus Name and “ypically featured the image of a Horus falcon perched above or beside the hieroglyph for gold.” The hieroglyph for gold is nebu, which is a half-disk with rays between two hills.

Compare nebu with the sun disk atop Isis’s head in figure 2. Perfect match! Joseph Smith was right. There is no falcon in the name, but that’s alright because the falcon represents “the final victory of Horus over Seth” and that was already ritualized in Facsimile 1. Other contexts did not need this element in the Golden Horus name. “The gold sign, without the Horus falcon, appeared in conjunction with the royal names from the time of Djer onwards.”

It’s not surprising that the king’s Horus name was snuck into Isis’ crown. Egyptians did this kind of thing all the time. Illustrations and shapes were often arranged or drawn to spell out names. As the mother of Horus, Isis was the personification of Pharaoh’s throne and seat of power, as Gail Corrington explains:

“Isis was the incarnation of the pharaoh’s ‘throne’. As the throne symbolically ‘created’ or ‘gave birth to’ the pharaoh, so Isis, the incarnate throne, was the mother of the pharoah.”

Notice that Joseph Smith placed the maker “2” at Isis’ crown, not Isis herself. It is totally appropriate to associate her crown with the Horus name of Pharaoh. We see Isis aiding in Abraham’s assumption of justice and dominion “by the politeness of the king,” in a similar way she gives birth to Pharaoh’s position as king. This suggests Pharaoh allowed Abraham to study astronomy and be ordained through Egyptian religious rites to gain the divine governing powers that were meant for Egyptian rulers, which Pharoah’s were known to do for foreigners.

3. 
The offering table is identified as “Abraham in Egypt” (this time shown without the annointing jars). This time it is Abraham sharing knowledge of ordinances to others. So, this gives us more explanation for what Abraham in Egypt is: Abraham “reasoning” and officiating sacrifice to gain knowledge of astronomy. In Facsimile 1, he is the one being sacrificed–and saved–and then in Facsimile 2, he is offering sacrifices upon an altar while in Egypt to gain redemption and priesthood authority.

We see these three differing motifs for lotus offering tables frequently in Egypt. Likewise, different offering tables for different gods, for different reasons. As for earthly judgement and dominions, offerings were provided to Osiris daily “to sanctify the land,” and to solidify his status of “universal kingship… god as ruler over everything.” The libation table stands between Abraham with Pharoah and the people, facing Abraham and Pharoah, suggesting they are the ones being affected by the libation rituals, they are the ones achieving dominion.

In a ritual bowl from early Athens, we see all three of the “Abraham in Egypt” offering tables portrayed one after the other. First, we see “two male figures with spears attack a griffin,” like the sacrifice of a Seth character in Facsimile 1. Next, we see “a seated figure nurses a baby as a standing figure performs a sacrifice before an offering table,” just like the rebirth ritual shown here in Facsimile 2. Finally, we see “a figure sits on a throne before an offering table as another stands and performs a sacrifice,” exactly like in Facsimile 3

4. 
This figure is Maat, the goddess of truth and moral justice. Maat led the deceased to judgement, not really as a guide but as a standard to be judged by: “Only those judged to be in tune with Maat are sustained and revitalised.” One tries to assume the character of Maat by following the commandments necessary for salvation. So in Abraham’s context, the royal prince took the role of Maat to present the initiate in a righteous way or in proper order.

Joseph Smith identifies this figure with “Prince of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, as written above the hand.” Unlike figure 2, he does not claim the “name is given” in the characters, but just that his is the prince “as written” there. What does that mean?

A seal of Maat even has been found that identifies the royal prince with Maat: “The prince and royal seal-bearer from Lower Egypt, great in favor, great in love.” Royalty often incorporated Maat into their name, such as the father of Tuthmose, to assume this role. That is because royalty had to be the ones assuming the role of Maat in the presentation, to give their stamp of approval: “As the royal successor, Remesses II presents Maat, the duty of the living king… Scenes that show a non-royal individual presenting or transporting Maat are rare.” Another text identifies the priest of Maat with the governing prince: “Priest of Maat, city governor, vizier.” Indeed, the Book of the Dead identifies the temple in Heliopolis, the sun capital, “House of the Prince.”

So this figure is the “prince” of Egypt as performing the role of “Maat, Lady of the West.”

5. 
This figure is the character being initiated through the rite of judgement. The characters above his hand identify him as: “The Osiris Hor, justified forever.” Joseph Smith interprets it as: “Shulem, one of the king’s principal waiters, as represented by the characters above his hand.” We don’t know much about Hor, the mummy who this breathing permit was for, but we do know he was a temple priest. As priest, Hor could certainly be considered a “principal waiter” for the king or god. The hieroglyph for “waiter or attendant” is very close to “priest.”

Actually, the apostrophe in “king’s waiter” was added in the 1842 printing, and originally it said “kings waiter,” which means it could be plural rulers or gods for whom this figure was an attendant.

Joseph Smith labels the figure “Shulem” which could be the Hebrew “Shalom,” which means harmony, complete, or whole. This describes the entire point of this figure Hor going through the rite, to become complete, whole, and in harmony with truth. He was going through this trial to be resurrected and whole, and in harmony with the commandments, Maat. Shulem is therefore his title, a very appropriate one, and the specific person Hor was the priest, or “waiter” of the king. To be “justified forever” was to be “whole.”

6. 
This figure is Anubis, who is a “guide between worlds… associated with the transitions between states… accompanies the deceased.” The figure 5 needs Anubis to help him through the transition between death, judgement, and resurrection. I find it funny that CES Letter insists Anubis cannot be shown with a human head in Facsimile 1, but makes no such protestation with the same thing in Facsimile 3. Here, he is shown with a round head, and CES Letter claims he is “not a slave, this is Anubis, guide of the dead, who is there to support the deceased.” Well, he is much more than just a buddy who helps out, Anubis represents the transition between states of being. The writings above his head say he “makes protection.”

But is it possible that a slave filled the role of Anubis in the Egyptian judgement ceremony? Well yeah, slaves played the role of Anubis as well as priests. In the Temple of Anubis we find a slave contract of “monthly rent for divine protection”:

“I am your servant from this day onwards, and I shall give you 2 1/2 kite [copper pieces] every month for my rent of service before Anubis the great god.”

H.S. Versnel claims this contract “makes a slave free by ‘consecrating’ him to a god or goddess.” Researchers have found “slaves were freed by religious dedication to” gods including “Isis and Anubis.” So we know temple workers who assumed the character of Anubis were indeed often slaves, who got paid. It could have been either a priest or assistant slave performing that role in the ceremony.

Olim in Hebrew means “ascending, going up,” making Joseph Smith’s label for this figure Olim-lah appropriate in describing Anubis’ role in this judgement scene, from the Pyramid Texts:

“…you come forth at the voice of Anubis, he makes a spirit of you like Thoth, you judge the gods, you set bounds to the celestial expanses between the Two Wands in this your spiritualized state which Anubis commanded… I ascend to the sky, my wing-feathers are those of a great bird. My entrails have been washed by Anubis.” (Richey Waugh)

By guiding the path of ascension, Anubis helps the deceased character, Osiris, or Abraham–depending on the context–become judge among the gods and navigate to the celestial world.

One last thing…

Facsimile 3 In The Book Of Mormon

I want to thank CES Letter for pointing out the translation of the bottom line of hieroglyphics. Joseph Smith included them in the facsimile, so they must have been important, but he does not say anything about them. Here is the translation, according to CES Letter:

“O gods of the necropolis, gods of the caverns, gods of the south, north, west, and east, grant salvation to the Osiris Hor, the justified, born by Talkhibit.”

The gods of the caverns guard the gate to reach exaltation, the “Great Mansion of the Duat.” Again, Abraham reasoned upon astronomy for the same reason as the Egyptians, to discover the path of righteousness to heaven.

But notice the next part: “gods of the south, north, west, and east.” The Sons of Horus show up, just like they take prominent position in Facsimiles 1 and 2.

The central figure 1 of Facsimile 2 is always shown with four heads (and very well could have had four heads on the original papyrus) instead of the two we see there, to represent the four quarters of the earth that will be affected by its power. In Facsimile 1, they are the four quarters, lands, and peoples who support and help in the sed festival revivification of the king. In Facsimile 2, they appear to be represent the delivering of the power, authority, and governance of god to the four quarters, lands, and peoples–symbolized by the four heads of the River Eden that the Book of Abraham talks about. It also is symbolized in the “four directions” in God’s covenant to “walk the land” that he and his posterity would inherit. We know also, “Abraham’s tent was open in four directions to allow strangers to enter freely into his home.” This is why it is so important that the four quarters of the earth play such a prominent role in these Facsimiles, suggesting their universal significance to the entire world:

“Abraham is at a crossroads… people come from the four points of the compass. Similarly in T. Job 8:6-7, they come from all regions, ‘and the four doors of my house were open’… presents Abraham as suprassing Job: the patriarch went looking for wayfarers.” (Dale Allison)

Not only did Abraham make himself the center of the four quarters of the earth, he went out and actively sought for people in need.

Now take a look at what the Book of Mormon has to say about God and Abraham:

“I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath… For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south… I will judge the world every man according to their works, according to that which is written… I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.” (2 Nephi 29)

The order of cardinal directions are flipped exactly backwards from what we read in the Facsimile. The Facsimile is a judgement scene, and also notice that the chapter is about the covenant of Abraham. The order of cardinal directions seem random, but actually they are the same (flipped backwards):

Facsimile 3: south, north, west, east
Book of Mormon: east, west, north, south

How could Joseph Smith possibly have known to put the same order of directions when writing the Book of Mormon? Again, I want to thank CES Letter for pointing this bottom text of Facsimile 3 out so that I could uncover this parallel.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehoods CES Letter identifies figure 2 by the writing above the character Isis’s hand “Isis the great, the god’s mother.” But Joseph Smith was concerned with “the characters above his head” not the hand.

CES Letter calls this vignette a “breathing permit.” The overall Book of Breathings was a breathing permit, yes, but this particular vignette is about judgement, not breathing. Why does CES Letter avoid talking about judgement?

Argument From Ignorance CES Letter omits explanations of the Egyptian gods and their meanings, such as Ma’at representing truth and the Horus sun-disk on Isis’ head. They simply put the name and “Male-prince” across from “Female-Maat,” as if that were an apples to apples comparison. It isn’t. Essentially, CES Letter is telling us that because these figures are Egyptian they couldn’t possibly mean anything religious, which is of course ridiculously ignorant.

CES Letter completely omits the entire purpose of this vignette in the Egyptian context: a judgement scene. Probably because Joseph Smith interpreted it as “justice and judgment.” CES Letter also takes the writing at the bottom out of context. It clearly has to do with a royal court and astronomy: “O gods… grant salvation to the Osiris Hor, the justified.” The Book of the Dead further says further:

“Adoration of Ra when he riseth in horizon eastern of heaven, Behold Osiris… … embrace thee Maat… Hail gods all of the soul Temple, weighers of heaven and earth in the balance… adore ye him in his Presence beautiful in his rising in the atet boat… The House of the Prince is in festival.”

House of the Prince? Remember, House of the Prince is the temple in Heliopolis and the “prince” is the royal vizier who officiates as the Maat role. Anyway, so Joseph Smith was right. This entire section dealing with this vignette in the Book of the Dead is all about astronomy in a theological context of judgement. But CES Letter omits Joseph Smith’s explanation of the entire vignette: “Abraham is reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy, in the king’s court.”

CES Letter assumes incorrectly that the Anubis figure couldn’t possibly be a slave. They incorrectly assume that he is “guide of the dead.” Yes, he is a guide elsewhere, but in this vignette he is protection during a transition of states. The human helper who played his role during the rites was often indeed a slave.

Shifting Goalposts In Facsimile 1, CES Letter said Anubis is “consistent in every funerary scene” as embalmer. But well, he sure isn’t embalming in this scene! Nor do they claim him to be embalming. They say (incorrectly) that he is a guide. Also, CES Letter doesn’t say anything this time about Anubis being portrayed with a human head rather than a jackal’s.
Strawman Argument CES Letter lists “Joseph Smith’s interpretation” opposite “Modern Egyptological [is that a word?] Interpretation,” falsely suggesting they should be the same. Why would they be the same? Joseph Smith did not literally translate most symbols or words but gave their meaning in a different context. In fact, he made it perfectly clear that there was the Abraham context and then there was the Egyptian context. Different subject. Different meaning.

CES Letter puts the Egyptian text translation in red text to emphasize their false characterization that Joseph Smith’s interpretation was meant to be a literal text translation. We walk away thinking he tried to give a word-for-word text translation, but that is totally false.

Red Herring CES Letter says Joseph Smith “misidentified–twice–a female as a male.” Well, both female figures obviously look female, with long hair, long dresses, and feminine clothes. Why would Joseph Smith make such an obvious blunder? Well actually, kings and initiates were identified with female gods, including Maat, all the time. They even included the name Maat in their name. CES Letter pretends like for some reason this wasn’t allowed.

Actually, I find CES Letter‘s polar gender-conformity here to be very problematic. How do we know these female-looking figures were actually female? It’s, like, the 21st century, man. Why is this still a thing?!

Repetition Fallacy “Egyptologists and Modern Egyptology.” Redundant.

CES Letter repeats their claims on p. 28. This time they list out every single figure and claims Joseph Smith “misidentifies,” five in total. This perpetuates the incorrect assumption that Joseph Smith was interpreting the Egyptian context, and ignores the stunning parallels. It wasn’t about translating the names of the Egyptian gods! Then CES Letter repeats the male/female discrepancy they pointed out before in the chart, which is false.

Appeal To Novelty “Modern Egyptological.” Actually, these interpretations have been around for a very long time. And I don’t think Egyptological is a word.

In previous arguments, CES Letter set up a phony frame that “modern” discoveries invalidate Joseph Smith’s claims. Anachronisms, bible errors, etc. But CES Letter has not substantiated a single one of these arguments.

By providing only the names of the Egyptian gods and not what they represent, CES Letter covers up the stunning correlation between what Joseph Smith interpreted and what Egyptologists give as the Egyptian meanings. CES Letter makes it sound like the gods are just walking around and sitting on chairs, but really their context closely matches what Joseph Smith said.

It’s like a magician making a rabbit disappear. First, they show the empty box, and then they take a rabbit and put it in a new context, the magic disappearing box. CES Letter introduces Joseph Smith’s interpretations in the strict context of Egyptian theology. But they cherry-pick Joseph Smith’s interpretations so that they never match, and they omit any meaning behind the Egyptian context. Then they sneak the rabbit out of the back of the box in a secret door. They point out what Joseph Smith “misidentified” in the facsimiles and call the whole thing gibberish. Before we know it, we went from a story about Abraham sojourning in Egypt and participating in some rituals, to merely the names of Egyptian gods in funerary documents, as they appear in the Book of Breathings. Presto! The box is empty!

Big Lie Tactic – Most anti-Mormons agree that the Book of Abraham is the “smoking gun” that disproves Mormonism. But that is just because they assume that the recovered papyri fragments are the source for the Book of Abraham. It is a big lie that compounds as we delve into further investigation and leads to other lies. This is why CES Letter frames the discussion where the small fragment is definitely what Joseph Smith claimed to use–not a different scroll or different part of that scroll.

Every argument about the Book of Abraham hinges on the lie that Joseph Smith’s translation was based on the recovered fragment of papyrus.

This lie is easier for the CES Letter reader to believe after all those earlier arguments that attached the same narrative about the Book of Mormon. If Joseph Smith used the same “peep stone” that he used to look for buried treasure to translate the Book of Mormon, doesn’t that make it easier to believe Joseph used a “common funerary document,” as anti-Mormons incorrectly call the fragment, to create the Book of Mormon? CES Letter says in both cases science disproves the claim of prophesy:

“This is a testable claim. Joseph failed the test with the Book of Abraham. He failed the test with the Kinderhook Plates. With this modus operandi and track record, I’m now supposed to believe that Joseph has the credibility of translating the keystone Book of Mormon? With a rock in a hat?”

This big lie is very dishonest because CES Letter is approaching from the point of view that Joseph Smith made the whole thing up. So then, how could they logically restrict which document Joseph Smith pretended to translate from? They further frame the discussion that this particular fragment must completely resemble the English translation or it is totally invalid. No in-between; the “pagan” Egyptian book either contains the exact text or it is totally unrelated. This frame allows CES Letter in further arguments to make the ridiculous claim that a hieroglyph of Osiris couldn’t possibly be interpreted to stand for Abraham.

CES Letter emphasizes their false characterization that Joseph Smith’s interpretation was meant to be a literal text translation when they point out “Joseph offered no translation of Lower Vignette.” First of all, the bottom row of writing is not a “vignette.” Secondly, he never tried to translate any of the text! It wasn’t about translating text! But I’m grateful CES Letter pointed out the translation of this bottom row, because now we can see how it parallels with the Book of Mormon. CES Letter just kicked the ball into their own goal.

Creating SuperstitionCES Letter reinforces their narrative that Mormons need science to validate every single detail of their faith. Suddenly, they can go back in time and tell us exactly what the artist of this Facsimile was thinking. They frame the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham as a “model” that has no evidence for it–an easy trick for them to play when it comes to ancient history as they discount every piece of evidence as coincidence, forged, or unfounded.

This kind of narrative led the crusaders to seek out physical objects from the holy land to validate the bible, pieces of the cross or the cup of Jesus Christ. It always leads to superstition, because no amount of science can prove without reasonable doubt that a historical object is what it purports to be. The Shroud of Turin? I mean, there is a mountain of evidence that correlates the Book of Abraham. Since the day of Joseph Smith, ancient book after ancient book has been discovered and translated into English that says the same thing as the Book of Abraham. No amount of scientific testing would convince the anti-Mormons. Even if the legitimacy of the claim were proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, they would pass it off as coincidence.

After all, that’s what they do with the copy of the Facsimile 1 diagram which was discovered by archaeologists with the name “Abraham” under it. Anti-Mormons reply, “well that doesn’t really say ‘Abraham.’ Just a name very similar to Abraham.” Yeah, uh huh.

Actually, I think it would be detrimental to Mormonism if undeniable evidence were found, because it would shift our narrative away from matters of faith toward unspiritual confirmation of a historical event from physical evidence. And that’s what CES Letter is trying to do. The shift away from faith serves Satan’s intentions because a person who relies on superstition is not practicing personal agency, but being total reliant on others for his beliefs and actions.

CES Letter can get away with this Big Lie claim because it is the consensus among so many people that Abraham did not write this book, and because it takes so long to explain the evidence. It is like claiming that the Library of Alexandria never really existed because we have no physical evidence today, apart from some alleged ancient tales. An archaeologist can give plenty of convincing evidence, but it would take hours.

Joseph Smith explained:

“Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft.

…Mormonism is truth, in other words the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, is truth. … The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same.”

Contradiction Strategy – In the previous arguments, CES Letter cherry-picked evidence to contradict the Book of Mormon. In this argument they cherry-pick parts of the Egyptian meaning in Facsimile 3 and ignore meanings that are parallel or perfectly match Joseph Smith’s interpretations.

This is how CES Letter works. They frame any discussion in a very narrow context where Joseph Smith must give a completely literal translation and do not allow for a non-Egyptian context. So, they set an impossible standard where Joseph Smith needs to know everything about the Egyptian context and explain it perfectly, even though it is irrelevant to the point he was getting across. By treating Joseph Smith like some kind of wizard who either knows everything about everything or is a fraud, CES Letter sets up an unrealistic standard. Anyone who expects absolute perfection and a perfect magic trick is going to lose their testimony of the gospel.

It is stunning that Joseph Smith hit a bullseye with every single figure in this Facsimile. He couldn’t have known Egyptian, yet he provided a meaning that closely aligns with what we now know is the Egyptian meaning, and proves that one derived from the other. He did this all before the Egyptian language was deciphered with the Rosetta Stone, and very little was known about Egyptians. Modern Mormons take for granted just how much we know about Egyptians and how easy it is for us to see meanings. Nobody knew that in the 19th century, none of it. It is stunning that Joseph Smith told the story of Abraham that is not found in the bible but which appears in ancient texts that have recently been discovered.

CES Letter really poisons the well by using a rigid and unfair frame of what “translating” means to invalidate the facsimiles. Actually, exploration of the Egyptian context brings new and important understanding to the Abraham story. Clearly, one context derived from the other.

They also pass off Facsimile 3 as a mere “breathing permit” which is false. This vignette is part of the Book of Breathings, yes, but it is actually an Egyptian scene about judgement in the afterlife, and Joseph Smith correctly identified it as ” justice and judgment.” Their shockingly manipulative portrayal of Facsimile 3 completely misrepresents what Joseph Smith said and what the Egyptian meaning actually is according to Egyptologists. The truth is, Joseph Smith was right about each detail of the Facsimile.

CES Letter gives a few bits of incorrect leading evidence; the reader connects to dots in their mind; and CES Letter pushes it to a sweeping generalization. If there were any evidence for the Book of Abraham, why is this Egyptian papyrus talking about Egyptian stuff instead of Abraham? Um, maybe because it’s Egyptian?! People are much more likely to believe CES Letter‘s incredibly insensible string of logic because hey connected the dots out on their own, subconsciously. They are also more likely to believe the evidences for that deduction, which in this case are falsehoods.

CES Letter uses fake science–or in this case a ridiculous assumption–to point out an inconsistency regarding LDS belief, and then presents science as the superior alternative source for truth. CES Letter uses the Marxist contradiction strategy by narrowing a physical issue down to a binary context: either this recovered papyri fragment talks about Abraham or the Book of Abraham was made up. No other choices. They then appeal to “science” and deconstruct the outdated Mormon belief.

Anti-Mormons typically present evidence for their binary context as self-evident and irrefutable, with no need for further explanation, and then they rapidly move on to other attacks that bolster the constrained definition. The purpose is not really to discuss Book of Abraham evidences, which would actually be an interesting discussion, but to shift the narrative from faith to binary science, and quickly move on to more effective attacks to strengthen this narrative.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with exploring and critically investigating physical evidence, such as the recovered papyri from Joseph Smith’s Egyptian collection that have survived. It is an exciting opportunity. The danger is when minds use faulty logic and leap to wild, simplistic conclusions.There is a smart and vibrant group of LDS scholars investigating the evidence and making great discoveries, which will increase what we learn from the Book of Abraham. They are careful not to become superstitious and search for holy grails to confirm their faith. They do not replace faith with a dependence on only what we can see.

CES Letter‘s attack on the Book of Abraham invalidates all ancient writing, which is quite convenient for Satan’s followers. Archaeology and historical science is only as useful as it can invalidate faith for them and momentarily be twisted to support Marxist ideas, such as the idea that mankind evolved from monkeys without a spark of divinity in them. They hold religions to the highest standards of skepticism, yet place blind faith in Marxism.

The Satanic substitute for religious scripture is the national-standard science textbook that jumps to wild politically correct conclusions and requires revising every year. It is the Bill Nye Science show that one day teaches kids that chromosomes determine your sex identity, rather than eternal spirit nature, and then the next day erases that segment from Netflix and teaches kids that sex identity is totally fluid. Or in the case of anti-Mormons, one day they attack us for teaching young women to embrace their femininity, for not teaching that gender is “fluid,” and the next day they say female-looking characters couldn’t possibly be a “prince” or “pharaoh”–very close-minded if you ask me. But you see, for followers of Satan, truth is only the narrative, and the narrative changes however it needs to in order to support the ideology in new circumstances.

By invalidating the Book of Breathing as just some common Pagan funerary text, and totally ignoring its sacred and profound spiritual context, CES Letter further pours gasoline on any kind of faith in ancient scripture. Actually, the fact is the Book of Breathing is one of the most important books ever made. It was one of the first Egyptian writings, one of the first translated into English, and was immediately an object of wide fascination. LDS can glean powerful wisdom by pondering why it was deposited alongside the Book of Abraham scroll.

Did Joseph Smith Correctly Translate Facsimile 2 In The Book Of Abraham?



Different Contexts – I don’t know why anyone would be shocked that the Facsimiles are Egyptian. They certainly look Egyptian to me! Joseph Smith said they contain Egyptian writing: “The characters are such as you find upon the coffins of mummies–hieroglyphs.” They were found with an Egyptian mummy. Why wouldn’t they be Egyptian?

CES Letter holds the Facsimiles to a strict Egyptian context, while Joseph Smith provided a different kind of context. Joseph explained that the Egyptian meaning was different than the Abrahamic meaning. In Facsimile 2, he said one figure was “also a numerical figure, in Egyptian.” Another figure was “said by the Egyptians to be the Sun.” But Joseph Smith focused on how the Facsimiles related to Abraham instead of giving the text translation or the Egyptian meaning.

When you see a five-pointed star on the American flag do you assume it symbolizes the Duat afterlife like it did for Egyptians? Or do you assume it symbolizes the fifty states of the United States?

When you see a cross at a cemetery is it a symbol of Christian worship or do you see a symbol of someone’s burial? Likewise, the Facsimiles were obviously Egyptian but included symbolism in a different Abrahamic context.

Egyptian & Abrahamic Meanings Relate – The cemetery cross may hold a different meaning but it derives from the original Christian meaning. Likewise, we should expect the Egyptian meaning to be similar to Joseph Smith’s interpretation for Abraham. After all, why would “Pagan” Egypt be totally incongruent with the gospel? CES Letter says the Facsimile comes from a “common” funerary document. Well, couldn’t this funerary document be derived from an earlier document that involved Abraham? Or couldn’t Abraham have derived a similar scene from the Egyptian document? Or they both derived from a common source? There is plenty of similarity between the literal Egyptian translation and Joseph’s Abrahamic translation to indicate one derived from the other. For example, the four cardinal points represented in figure 6 clearly relate to Joseph Smith’s interpretation, “the earth in its four quarters.”

Min Was Not Originally A Fertility CultCES Letter gets hot and bothered because one of the figures involves a sexual reference in the Egyptian context–Min, the god of fertility. They called figure 7 “disturbing.” Could a “pagan” sexual reference possibly relate to a symbol of God?

Well, of course. Let’s be adults about this. Pagans turned godly symbols into into sexual references all the time, and Christians even adopt Pagan sexual symbols into faith-building images. (Easter, the Christmas Tree, etc.)

Min became a strict fertility god only later. Originally, he was a symbol of the power of creation: “dating as far back as 3450 B.C. Min was a primordial diety with the responsibilities of a creator god, and by the Middle Kingdom he was associated with Horus as well… Min may have assisted in the rebirth cycle.” But worrying about whether or not the original Facsimile showed the diagram of an erect penis that has CES Letter so upset is rather puerile. Why are they suddenly being so puritan? The point was to illustrate the capability of Creation throughout the eternities.

Egyptian vs. Abraham Meanings

1. 

CES Letter misportrays a complex scene involving three figures as simply “the god Khnumu.” Well yeah, the central figure looks like Khnumu. Although, Khnumu looks a lot like the crocodile god Sobek in this Facsimile, which we see represented the “idolatrous god of Pharaoh” in Facsimile 1, and he is exactly in the middle of Facsimile 2 just as Sobek is in the horizontal center of Facsimile 1.

At the Temple of Kom Ombo, we see Sobek stand by in the same manner as figure 1 of Facsimile 2, holding the was scepter, wearing the royal kilt, and holding the ankh. Next to Sobek at the temple, we see the two ladies of the Nile giving the king his kingship, like figure 22 and 23 standing on either side of figure 1. Like in Facsimile 1, Sobek is officiating the endowment of divine rule through ritual.

We see the same crowning ceremony scene at the Temple of Esna, and then near it a similar scene as well, only this time it shows Sobek as the one flanked by a character similar to figure 22 of Facsimile 2. The character flanking him is Menhit, the lioness goddess who overcomes the enemies of the gods, like the lion couch in Facsimile 1:

So, immediately we see striking similarities with Facsimile 1. But typically this central character in the hypocephalus is Knum, as CES Letter says. The name Knumu (KHM) is interesting because so many creator gods around the ancient world sound similar: Kamuni in Japan, Karora in Australia, Karusakaibo in the Amazon, Keri in South America, etc. In Egypt, Knum “fashioned the first man and woman out of clay… and breathed air into them… It means shepherd and guardian of life.” He is at the center of Facsimile 2 because “Knum created the primal cosmic egg at his poetter’s wheel.

The “X” below Knum represented the sun god to the Chaldeans, and the cross to the Semetics (Messiah/Jesus). The Open Court suggests that the ancient Chaldean tree of life was an origin for the Christian cross:

The flanking figures with arms raised are both there, like figures 22 and 23 in Facsimile 2. In the Chaldean tree of life, we see a sun disk with wings hovering above them, much like the sun chariot with four horses that we see on the Shield of Achilles, yet another derivative of the ancient Facsimile 2.

But the primordial tree of life makes it clear this is a heavenly scene, a life-giving scene, related to the awakening sun-couch ritual in Facsimile 1.

Between figures 22/23 and figure 1 of Facsimile 2, we see the Tsade and Lamad symbols. Tsade is “the archetype of righteousness and humility.” Lamad means “to study, to teach, to learn.” This suggests Knumu the creator gives righteousness and teachings to figures 22 & 23 from the tree of life.

The upside-down ankh in Knumu’s hand represents “the key which opened the gateway of the tomb into the Fields of Aalu, the realm of eternity,” and is purposely in “the shape of a key.” Knumu operated the ankh key when it came to creation. “Osiris is depected with his body wrapped like a mummy, as god of the underworld, and with the headdress of Hathor, inserting the ankh, the key of life, through the nostril of Seth I, depicted with the headdress of Khnum.”

How did Joseph Smith interpret this figure? “The first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God.” Bullseye. “Realm of eternity” and “tree of life” sure sounds like the “residence of God” to me. Kolob “the first creation” sure sounds like Knum “the first creator” to me!

2. 

This figure, Amun-Re, obviously relates to figure 1 Knumu, as Joseph Smith says it does. Joseph Smith gives the meaning:

“Stands next to Kolob [figure 1]… the next grand governing creation near to the celestial or the place where God resides; holding the key of power also, pertaining to other planets; as revealed from God to Abraham, as he offered sacrifice upon an altar.”

Amun-Re shared the attribute of creation with Knum, as “Knum was the soul of the high god Amun-Re.” Knum was “depicted sometimes wearing Amun’s horns as part of his crown,” as we can see here, which gave him power of creation.

Amun-Re’s keys of power influenced earthly priests:

“Not only was Amun-Re a creator, but he also becomes a ‘father,’ compassionate and solicitous… he who conceived everything, lord of the whole earth, he who made that which exists, sole god who lives in truth… as the god Amun-Re became envisioned as ruling in a cosmic scale, and when the diety’s status was mirrored sociologically by a terrestrial power exercised through a nascent, influential clergy on earth, one can perhaps excuse the ‘lord’s temporal’ for fearing their position.” (Ronald Glassman)

As “chief of the gods, Re or Amun-Re” was shown “sailing the skies from east to west,” dominated the other gods which were associated with planets, just “as the planets and smaller bodies circle the sun.” He was explicitly identified as chief of the planets: “As Amun-Re, he became the King of the Gods, and as Zeus-Ammon he survived into Greek and Roman times. ”

Notice the offering table in the lower right corner, the same figure that is identified as “Abraham in Egypt” in Facsimiles 1 and 3. This time it is Abraham offering sacrifices upon an alter. So, this gives us more explanation for what Abraham in Egypt is: Abraham offering sacrifices upon an altar while in Egypt. In Facsimile 1, he is the one being sacrificed–and saved–and then in Facsimile 3, he is the one officiating sacrifice to gain knowledge of astronomy. Here, he is sacrificing to gain redemption and priesthood authority.

We see these three differing motifs for lotus offering tables frequently in Egypt. Likewise, different offering tables for different gods, for different reasons. As for redemption and priesthood authority, offerings were provided “to ensure the well-being of the deceased in the afterlife.” An offering to Amun-Re, as chief creator, would help assure resurrection. In a relief sculpture for Seti I, we see Re handing down “the was-scepter and in his left hand an ‘ankh’,” the keys of power we know from figure 1, and then “an offering table with a libation pot and a lotus.” Thus, we can deduce figure 1 is an answer to the offering made in figure 2 of our Facsimile 2.

In a ritual bowl from early Athens, we see all three of the “Abraham in Egypt” offering tables portrayed one after the other. First, we see “two male figures with spears attack a griffin,” like the sacrifice of a Seth character in Facsimile 1. Next, we see “a seated figure nurses a baby as a standing figure performs a sacrifice before an offering table,” just like the rebirth ritual shown here in Facsimile 2. Finally, we see “a figure sits on a throne before an offering table as another stands and performs a sacrifice,” exactly like in Facsimile 3.

3. 

Joseph Smith interpreted this figure as God “clothed with power and authority”–power which we learned in figure 2 was “pertaining to other planets.” Wilhelm Müller and Sir James Scott explained how authority related to other stars in this solar boat figure:

“…in a ship (which has perhaps replaced an earlier doubleraft) the sun sails over the sky, conceived as a blue river or lake which Is a continuation of the sea and of the Nile. At the prow of this solar ship we frequently find a curious detail, sometimes represented as a carpet or mat^ on which the god is seated…

The deity may either be the only occupant of the boat, which moves by itself or is paddled by him; or he may be accompanied by many prominent gods, especially the nine gods of the Hellopolltan ennead and the personifications of wisdom, etc… The Book of the Gates reverts to an ancient idea by explaining that the never-vanishing stars (I. e. again the elect souls) become the rowers of the sun by day. Then the sun may rest in the cabin as a disk in which the god himself may be enthroned.”

In Facsimile 2, we see Re sitting rather than rowing, so we can assume the stars are involved, as Joseph Smith suggested. They hold the “key of power” as well, he explained. So, it turns out Joseph Smith was correct referencing “Seth, Noah, Melchizedek” as persons involved in this figure, “prominent gods,” because “the Priesthood was revealed” to them as well. They are “never-vanishing stars… the elect souls,” which are also called “noble and great ones” in the Book of Abraham.

CES Letter points out that this is God “riding in his boat” rather than “God sitting on his throne.” Well, obviously that’s a boat! Who wouldn’t think that looks like a boat? But most solar scenes show Re sitting right on the boat, perhaps on a carpet or mat, while this shows him sitting on a chair rather than perched on the brow. Let me guess, does CES Letter think this is just an ordinary chair? No, in the context of a libation offering, which we see drawn in figure 2, this is the throne of the heavenly Field of Rushes which the deceased hopes to inherit:

“Hail thou Horus, Easter Horus and Ba,
Horakhty great Neter, I offer to you incense;
Thou Neter who ferries over upon two boats of the sky to Re,
Horus Great Horizon-Neter, I shall receive my throne in the Field of Rushes, descending to the Field of Offerings when my earthly majesty transforms into the Tuat [afterlife];
Horus, who sails with the Pharaoh in the boat of Re,
Bestow the power of controlling the vast Horizons.” (Michael Ford)

Joseph Smith is 100 percent correct that this chair is a throne, and it was significant for him to point it out.

This portrays God sending Hor’s sacrificial libations to the Tuat afterlife to defeat Seth, the devil. In his hand he holds the “scepter of authority,” according to Plutarch. This is awas scepter, the symbol of authority.” It is the same scepter that figures 1 and 2 hold, though they don’t look the same in this particular rendering. Somehow, Joseph Smith knew they were all the same scepter.

The circle above Horus’ head is the sun disk of “eternal light.” Joseph Smith correctly calls this “a crown of eternal light upon his head.” Gerald Massey explained: “The crown of Horus was the crown of life that was the gift of his father… the eternal diadem that was conferred on those who had attained the mount of glory.”

In this Book of the Dead, this character says:

“A path is made for me at the head of the Sacred Bark, and I am lifted up as the sun disk; I am bright in its sunshine… let me pass, for I am a mighty one, Lord of the mighty ones; I am a noble of the Lord of Righteousness, whom Wadjet made. My protection is the protection of Re.”

The wedjat, which we see above this figure’s head, is a symbol of his power of resurrection, correctly associated by Joseph Smith to the keywords of the priesthood.

4. 
Joseph Smith correctly associates the Sokar boat in this figure with the expanse or firmament of heaven:

“‘But you shall bathe in the starry firmament, you shall descend upon the iron bands on the arms of Horus in his name of Him who is in the Hnw [Hennu]-barque[boat]… Horus has lifted you up in his name of Hnw-barque; he bears you up in your name of Sokar…’ The entire necropolis of the Old Kingdom, of which the design was largely based on the star constellation Orion, comprised ten main temples.” (Willem Zitman)

Joseph Smith was also correct to associate this boat with the measurement 1,000. Here, we see the Sokar boat crossed ten stars in the constellation Orion. This number ten is not just random.

The stars of heaven, remember, have already been compared to the “the elect souls” in Facsimile 2, and Sokar is the “route of the sun” that Re figure 3 takes. These supportive stars are like the “morning stars” who “sang together” in Job 38:7. The Book of Abraham explains that these “noble and great ones” fought the primordial war in heaven to gain their first estate. Well, in Babylonian mythology, “the choral band who sang the hymn of praise, one thousand in number, are the sixth thousand of the six thousand” stars. They support the Babylonian sun-god Ashur, “In their room, he, the god of the bright crown (ie. the solar diety), created mankind.” The Book of Enoch likewise refers to them as stars. Ashur results from the revolt in heaven: “The god of holy songs, lord of religion and worship, had seated a thousand singers and musicians, and established a choral band who to this hymn were to respond in multitude.”

In the LDS context, we would refer to this as a “dispensation of time.” Exactly like Joseph Smith says: “signifying one thousand; answering to the measuring of the time.”

As for the Egyptian context, the Coffin Texts say 1,000 is the size of the Sokar boat: “He takes the ship of 1,000 cubits from end to end, and he sails in it to the stairway of fire.”

The princess Anchenneferibre tomb makes reference to “Osiris in his ship of a thousand.” The starry sky of Nut, which this Sokar boat crosses, is written with “the phrase h3-b3… normally considered to mean ‘a thousand are her Ba’s,’ might rather mean ‘a thousand are her twinklers’… the stars are the souls of the dead.”

5. 

In this figure, CES Letter intentionally omits Joseph Smith’s interpretation of the Egyptian meaning and presents the Abrahamic meaning as if it were Egyptian. Joseph Smith made it very clear that the Egyptian meanings were different from the Abraham context, but CES Letter insists on lying and presents the Abraham context as what he said was Egyptian.

Joseph Smith said this figure is “said by the Egyptians to be the Sun… which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars” Is he right? Well, the Hathor cow in this figure is the sun and associates with Isis, or the planet Venus:

“As the celestial cow called ‘eye of the sun (Re)’ in Egyptian funerary text, Hathor was frequently depicted wearing a large solar disk between her horns. Because of her original solar associations and further identification with Hathor… Isis sported the very same crown and also appropriated the cow as a sacred animals.” (Egyptian Religion: The Last Thousand Years…)

What does Hathor mean that the sun needs to “borrow its light” from Kolob (identified with Re)? Well, Hathor was born of the sun . The fluid from Re fell “onto the earth from his eye and transformed into the beautiful Hathor.”

Joseph Smith also points out that the sun and “planet receives its power” through some kind of medium. As Claas Bleeker points out, Hathor acted as a medium of power in rituals:

“Then as cow-goddess she suckles the child. The suckling of the child by Hathor has a deeper meaning… it is only through this divine mother-milk that the young prince becomes a true king… This gesture can be interpreted either as a mark of favour or as a sign that the goddess recognizes the queen and wishes to give her power.”

Joseph Smith is correct that we see “governing power” and priesthood authority, just like the the scepter symbols in figures 1, 2, and 3. We don’t see a scepter in this figure, but we do see a bouquet of flowers, and “Egyptians also saw papyrus as a protective symbol, often taking the form of a scepter.” One can take the place of another.

6. 
These four figures are the four sons of Horus, which represent the earth’s four quarters. Anybody who knows anything about Egyptology knows this. But of course nobody knew it in Joseph Smith’s day, yet he correctly interpreted these figures as “earth in its four quarters.”

Perfect bullseye.

CES Letter is certainly not ready to concede that Joseph Smith was right. They petulantly interprets the figures as “The four (4) sons of Horus, they can represent the four cardinal points of earth.” I guess they can kinda, sorta, represent the points on the compass, maybe–but that’s totally different than “four quarters!” Totally different! Uh, no. Actually, they are the exact same thing. Joseph Smith was completely correct.

I like how CES Letter even misspells “its” as “it’s” in Joseph Smith’s interpretation in order to add further confusion.

Below, CES Letter even highlights figure 6 as apparently one of the biggest discrepancies with Egyptology in Facsimile 2. There, they interpret it as simply “Sons of Horus” and pretend like they the four sons have nothing to do with the earth’s four quarters. Ridiculous!

The central figure 1 of Facsimile 2 is always shown with four heads (and very well could have had four heads on the original papyrus) instead of the two we see there, to represent the four quarters of the earth that will be affected by its power. This brings the four sons of Horus to the forefront of the hypocephalus’ significance, and that is interesting because of the significance they play in Facsimile 1. There, they are the four quarters, lands, and peoples who support and help in the sed festival revivification of the king. In Facsimile 2, they appear to be represent the delivering of the power, authority, and governance of god to the four quarters, lands, and peoples–symbolized by the four heads of the River Eden that the Book of Abraham talks about. It also is symbolized in the “four directions” in God’s covenant to “walk the land” that he and his posterity would inherit. We know also, “Abraham’s tent was open in four directions to allow strangers to enter freely into his home.” This is why it is so important that the four quarters of the earth play such a prominent role in these Facsimiles, suggesting their universal significance to the entire world:

“Abraham is at a crossroads… people come from the four points of the compass. Similarly in T. Job 8:6-7, they come from all regions, ‘and the four doors of my house were open’… presents Abraham as suprassing Job: the patriarch went looking for wayfarers.” (Dale Allison)

Not only did Abraham make himself the center of the four quarters of the earth, he went out and actively sought for people in need. The four-quartered hypocephalus is a perfect symbol for Abraham.

The three figures to the right of the four sons of Horus represent the god srpt-m3i-sr. This god is associated with Abraham in the Demotic Magical Papyrus of London and Leiden: “Abraham, the apple (?) of the Eye of the Uzat… srpt-m3i-sr is thy name”. They represent the rising, midday, and setting sun, which relates this figure back to the previous figure of the Sun.
7. 

The ba spirit presents the wedjat, correctly called a keyword consistently by Joseph Smith, to the god Min–the reproductive force of nature combined with Horus. On the feast of Horus-Min, the king offered sacrifices “to ensure the fertility of the land and the rebirth of life.” Horus-Min is called the apotropaic “way opener” and repels “all evil from the pharaoh” in order to let rebirth happen. So in the Egyptian context, the god Min is the one receiving offerings through the heaven bird rather than giving keywords. But in the Abraham context it makes sense for Min to be giving the knowledge to Abraham, as the Abrahamic endowment is both a receiving ritual and a giving ritual.

Above the throne, the upward arrow symbol is the flail symbol which represents “power to beget or create and sustain life.” In the Pyramid Texts, the powers of Min “seem to give the dead king the power to fly up into the heavens.” Joseph Smith correctly identifies the bird as a communication device for the keywords of power.

Below the bird is the ka-sign with a jackal head merged, which represents “words of power” that give “intelligence, essential nature, or life-force of the deceased.” It’s title useru means “strong or mighty.” The symbol is a “badge or insignia of might or potency.”

There has been some confusion with this figure about which way the communication is supposed to go, but it looks to me like it is pretty clear: Abraham offers sacrifices for knowledge and God replies with grand keywords of power.

8. 
Joseph Smith was correct that these are “writings that cannot be revealed unto the world; but is to be had in the Holy Temple of God.” The true meaning of this writing is lost on us and can only be communicated with its full context in the temple. It translates to:

“Grant life to the soul of the Osiris Sheshonk.”

This is what the hypocephalus and its incorporated funeral ritual is all about, and this ritual can only be correctly performed in the temple. The ankh symbol in this text suggests a binding or covenant, and the two useru symbols suggest words of resurrection power. All of this is meaningless outside of the right time and place.

9-11. 
Like Joseph Smith says, the Book of the Dead tells us that these pass-phrases should be kept secret until their intended use: “This is a great and secret book. Do not allow anyone’s eyes to see it!” Joseph Smith said it “ought not to be revealed at the present time.”

This shows that Joseph Smith not only understand the fine details of how this diagram explored eternal exaltation, but he knew that the words and symbols outside of their proper context would be misunderstood and useless. Is there any better example of this happening than CES Letter, who tells us Joseph Smith was wrong because figure 6 is the “sons of Horus” rather than the earth’s four quarters? I mean, isn’t CES Letter the perfect example of why such things should be kept quiet from those who aren’t used to using their brains and doing rudimentary research?

12-21. 
Joseph Smith said the translation for all of these writings “will be given in the own due time of the Lord.” And he was right. They were.

If Joseph Smith expected that people would eventually be able to translate Egyptian, why would he pretend to translate a Book of Breathings scroll that turns out to be completely different than what he translated? Why be so careless? Why wouldn’t he at least try to destroy the evidence? The answer is Joseph Smith clearly did not use the Book of Breathings scroll that was recovered today. You will never see an anti-Mormon admit that Joseph Smith correctly predicted people would one day translate Egyptian.

22-23 
CES Letter incorrectly claims there was “no annotation given” for these figures. False. Joseph Smith called them “stars” “receiving light from” Kolob. And Joseph Smith is correct that the raised hands symbolize receiving light of the sun. These are Thoth figures, and Thoth was originally considered “counselor” to Ra the sun god.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehoods CES Letter incorrectly claims no annotation was given for figures 22 and 23. Yes, it was.

CES Letter intentionally misspells “its” as “it’s” in figure 6, in order to make Joseph Smith’s interpretation sound confusing and obfuscate its obvious match with the real Egyptian meaning.

Argument From Ignorance CES Letter quotes only part of Joseph Smith’s explanation for figure 11 and omits “If the world can find out” the literal translation “let it be,” which turned out to be true; it did get translated.
CES Letter omits the dove in figure 7, which is the Holy Ghost in both the Egyptian context and Joseph Smith’s interpretation.
CES Letter calls out figure 6 as “the four Sons of Horus” in their highlighting of this figure, but don’t mention that the Sons of Horus represent exactly what Joseph Smith said they do.
CES Letter omits the Egyptian context Joseph Smith gave for figure 5 as “the sun” which is perfectly true. Instead they give the Abraham context and totally misrepresent Joseph Smith’s interpretation. They omit his explanation of a planet and the borrowing of power, which turns out to be true.
CES Letter omits Joseph Smith’s interpretation for figure 4, as the firmament of heaven, apparently because Joseph Smith was once again right. Instead, CES Letter gives his appurtenant explanation of the significance of the number 1,000.
CES Letter omits the crown of light and keyword of power that Joseph Smith correctly called out in figure 3.
CES Letter omits Joseph Smith’s entire interpretation of figure 2 except the phrase “stands next to Kolob,” which they already poisoned the well for in figure 1.
CES Letter omits the main interpretation for figure 1, “first creation, nearest to the celestial” which makes their cherry-picked phrase for figure 2 seem bizarre and out of place.
In all their explanations for the figures, CES Letter uses the names of Egyptian gods with very little explanation of what they represent, because what they represent matches Joseph Smith’s interpretation. Essentially, CES Letter is telling us that because these figures are Egyptian they couldn’t possibly mean anything religious, which is of course ridiculously ignorant.
Strawman Argument CES Letter lists “Joseph Smith’s interpretation” opposite “Modern Egyptological [is that a word?] Interpretation,” falsely suggesting they should be the same. Why would they be the same? Joseph Smith did not literally translate most symbols or words but gave their meaning in a different context. In fact, he made it perfectly clear that there was the Abraham context and then there was the Egyptian context: ” in this case, in relation to this subject, the Egyptians meant…” Different case. Different subject. Different meaning.

CES Letter incorrectly claims figure 7, the Egyptian god Min, “is Heavenly Father” according to Joseph Smith. No, Joseph Smith never said that. Actually, he made it clear the Egyptian context was different, and never calls this figure Heavenly Father.

Red Herring CES Letter titles their diagram “Translated Correctly?” apparently in reference to the eighth article of faith: “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” But this is a totally different case. Biblical translators were not prophets and did not use a Urim and Thummim.
Dramatic Language CES Letter pretends to be wildly upset to find out Min was a fertility God to the Egyptians and the diagram shows a penis. They repeatedly call him the “phallic God,” “ithypallic God,” “sexually aroused male diety,” “pagan Egyptian God of fertility or sex,” “with an erect penis.” They call this all “disturbing.” Actually, I would say it is disturbing that they are dwelling on the portrayal of a penis so much. Apparently, they are hyping the fertility aspect in order to prepare us for the real whine-fest that comes when CES Letter starts talking about the church’s history of polygamy.
Repetition Fallacy Besides repeatedly talking about Min’s status as fertility god, CES Letter repeatedly describes him as sitting on a throne with an erect penis, “which can be seen in the figure.” Uh… isn’t the figure what we’ve been talking about this whole time? Why mention the obvious point that Min can be seen in the figure? Can CES Letter just stop thinking about penis? Juvenile.

“Egyptologists and Modern Egyptology.” Redundant.

CES Letter repeats their claims on p. 28: “None of the names are correct as each one of these gods does not even exist in Egyptian religion or any recorded mythology… Joseph misidentifies every god.” This perpetuates the incorrect assumption that Joseph Smith was interpreting the Egyptian context, and ignores the stunning parallels. It also assumes that if something is not in the Egyptian religion then it must be “mythology.” Poisoning the well.

Poison The Well CES Letter suggests because these figures show “pagan” gods and an erect penis, which CES Letter can’t stop thinking about, the Facsimile couldn’t possibly provide gospel related messages. What about the Christmas tree? Easter? Don’t they have pagan origins?

CES Letter highlights the strongest correlation between Joseph Smith’s interpretation and modern Egyptology, the four sons of Horus diagram. But they poison the well by omitting what the four sons of Horus represent. CES Letter‘s discussion of the Facsimiles are rife with cherry-picking.

Appeal To Novelty “Modern Egyptological.” Actually, these interpretations have been around for a very long time. And I don’t think Egyptological is a word.

In previous arguments, CES Letter set up a phony frame that “modern” discoveries invalidate Joseph Smith’s claims. Anachronisms, bible errors, etc. But CES Letter has not substantiated a single one of these arguments.

By cherry-picking short phrases from Joseph Smith’s interpretation and providing only the names of the Egyptian gods and not what they represent, CES Letter covers up the stunning correlation between what Joseph Smith interpreted and what Egyptologists give as the Egyptian meanings. CES Letter makes it sound like the gods are just riding around on boats and sitting around on thrones, but really their context closely matches what Joseph Smith said.

They even emphasize a zoomed in view of the four sons of Horus and contrast this with Joseph Smith’s explanation “four quarters of the earth”–which is totally correct! The four sons of Horus are the four quarters of the earth! But CES Letter covers that up. They even misspell “its” as “it’s” in Joseph Smith’s explanation to make it sound confusing.

It’s like a magician making a rabbit disappear. First, they show the empty box, and then they take a rabbit and put it in a new context, the magic disappearing box. CES Letter introduces Joseph Smith’s interpretations in the strict context of Egyptian theology. But they cherry-pick Joseph Smith’s interpretations so that they never match, and they omit any meaning behind the Egyptian context. Then they sneak the rabbit out of the back of the box in a secret door. They point out what Joseph Smith “misidentified” in the facsimiles and call the whole thing gibberish. Before we know it, we went from a story about Abraham sojourning in Egypt and participating in some rituals, to merely the names of Egyptian gods in funerary documents, as they appear in the Book of Breathings. Presto! The box is empty!

Big Lie Tactic – Most anti-Mormons agree that the Book of Abraham is the “smoking gun” that disproves Mormonism. But that is just because they assume that the recovered papyri fragments are the source for the Book of Abraham. It is a big lie that compounds as we delve into further investigation and leads to other lies. This is why CES Letter frames the discussion where the small fragment is definitely what Joseph Smith claimed to use–not a different scroll or different part of that scroll.

Every argument about the Book of Abraham hinges on the lie that Joseph Smith’s translation was based on the recovered fragment of papyrus.

This lie is easier for the CES Letter reader to believe after all those earlier arguments that attached the same narrative about the Book of Mormon. If Joseph Smith used the same “peep stone” that he used to look for buried treasure to translate the Book of Mormon, doesn’t that make it easier to believe Joseph used a “common funerary document,” as anti-Mormons incorrectly call the fragment, to create the Book of Mormon? CES Letter says in both cases science disproves the claim of prophesy:

“This is a testable claim. Joseph failed the test with the Book of Abraham. He failed the test with the Kinderhook Plates. With this modus operandi and track record, I’m now supposed to believe that Joseph has the credibility of translating the keystone Book of Mormon? With a rock in a hat?”

This big lie is very dishonest because CES Letter is approaching from the point of view that Joseph Smith made the whole thing up. So then, how could they logically restrict which document Joseph Smith pretended to translate from? They further frame the discussion that this particular fragment must completely resemble the English translation or it is totally invalid. No in-between; the “pagan” Egyptian book either contains the exact text or it is totally unrelated. This frame allows CES Letter in further arguments to make the ridiculous claim that a hieroglyph of Osiris couldn’t possibly be interpreted to stand for Abraham.

With Facsimile 2, CES Letter puts the Egyptian text translation in red text to emphasize their false characterization that Joseph Smith’s interpretation was meant to be a literal text translation. We walk away thinking he tried to give a word-for-word text translation, but that is totally false.

Creating SuperstitionCES Letter reinforces their narrative that Mormons need science to validate every single detail of their faith. Suddenly, they can go back in time and tell us exactly what the artist of this Facsimile was thinking. They frame the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham as a “model” that has no evidence for it–an easy trick for them to play when it comes to ancient history as they discount every piece of evidence as coincidence, forged, or unfounded.

This kind of narrative led the crusaders to seek out physical objects from the holy land to validate the bible, pieces of the cross or the cup of Jesus Christ. It always leads to superstition, because no amount of science can prove without reasonable doubt that a historical object is what it purports to be. The Shroud of Turin? I mean, there is a mountain of evidence that correlates the Book of Abraham. Since the day of Joseph Smith, ancient book after ancient book has been discovered and translated into English that says the same thing as the Book of Abraham. No amount of scientific testing would convince the anti-Mormons. Even if the legitimacy of the claim were proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, they would pass it off as coincidence.

After all, that’s what they do with the copy of the Facsimile 1 diagram which was discovered by archaeologists with the name “Abraham” under it. Anti-Mormons reply, “well that doesn’t really say ‘Abraham.’ Just a name very similar to Abraham.” Yeah, uh huh.

Actually, I think it would be detrimental to Mormonism if undeniable evidence were found, because it would shift our narrative away from matters of faith toward unspiritual confirmation of a historical event from physical evidence. And that’s what CES Letter is trying to do. The shift away from faith serves Satan’s intentions because a person who relies on superstition is not practicing personal agency, but being total reliant on others for his beliefs and actions.

CES Letter can get away with this Big Lie claim because it is the consensus among so many people that Abraham did not write this book, and because it takes so long to explain the evidence. It is like claiming that the Library of Alexandria never really existed because we have no physical evidence today, apart from some alleged ancient tales. An archaeologist can give plenty of convincing evidence, but it would take hours.

Joseph Smith explained:

“Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft.

…Mormonism is truth, in other words the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, is truth. … The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same.”

Contradiction Strategy – In the previous arguments, CES Letter cherry-picked evidence to contradict the Book of Mormon. In this argument they cherry-pick parts of the Egyptian meaning in Facsimile 2 and ignore meanings that are parallel or perfectly match Joseph Smith’s interpretations.

This is how CES Letter works. They frame any discussion in a very narrow context where Joseph Smith must give a completely literal translation and do not allow for a non-Egyptian context. So, they set an impossible standard where Joseph Smith needs to know everything about the Egyptian context and explain it perfectly, even though it is irrelevant to the point he was getting across. By treating Joseph Smith like some kind of wizard who either knows everything about everything or is a fraud, CES Letter sets up an unrealistic standard. Anyone who expects absolute perfection and a perfect magic trick is going to lose their testimony of the gospel.

It is stunning that Joseph Smith hit a bullseye with every single figure in this Facsimile. He couldn’t have known Egyptian, yet he provided a meaning that closely aligns with what we now know is the Egyptian meaning, and proves that one derived from the other. He did this all before the Egyptian language was deciphered with the Rosetta Stone, and very little was known about Egyptians. Modern Mormons take for granted just how much we know about Egyptians and how easy it is for us to see meanings. Nobody knew that in the 19th century, none of it. It is stunning that Joseph Smith told the story of Abraham that is not found in the bible but which appears in ancient texts that have recently been discovered.

CES Letter really poisons the well by using a rigid and unfair frame of what “translating” means to invalidate the facsimiles. Actually, exploration of the Egyptian context brings new and important understanding to the Abraham story. Clearly, one context derived from the other.

They also pass off Facsimile 2 as a mere “funerary amulet” instead of really explaining what a hypocephalus is: a scene of resurrection in the upper and lower realm of the sun. Their shockingly manipulative portrayal of Facsimile 2 completely misrepresents what Joseph Smith said and what the Egyptian meaning actually is according to Egyptologists. The truth is, Joseph Smith was 100% right about each detail of the Facsimile.

CES Letter gives a few bits of incorrect leading evidence; the reader connects to dots in their mind; and CES Letter pushes it to a sweeping generalization. If there were any evidence for the Book of Abraham, why is this Egyptian papyrus talking about Egyptian stuff instead of Abraham? Um, maybe because it’s Egyptian?! People are much more likely to believe CES Letter‘s incredibly insensible string of logic because hey connected the dots out on their own, subconsciously. They are also more likely to believe the evidences for that deduction, which in this case are falsehoods.

CES Letter uses fake science–or in this case a ridiculous assumption–to point out an inconsistency regarding LDS belief, and then presents science as the superior alternative source for truth. CES Letter uses the Marxist contradiction strategy by narrowing a physical issue down to a binary context: either this recovered papyri fragment talks about Abraham or the Book of Abraham was made up. No other choices. They then appeal to “science” and deconstruct the outdated Mormon belief.

Anti-Mormons typically present evidence for their binary context as self-evident and irrefutable, with no need for further explanation, and then they rapidly move on to other attacks that bolster the constrained definition. The purpose is not really to discuss Book of Abraham evidences, which would actually be an interesting discussion, but to shift the narrative from faith to binary science, and quickly move on to more effective attacks to strengthen this narrative.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with exploring and critically investigating physical evidence, such as the recovered papyri from Joseph Smith’s Egyptian collection that have survived. It is an exciting opportunity. The danger is when minds use faulty logic and leap to wild, simplistic conclusions.There is a smart and vibrant group of LDS scholars investigating the evidence and making great discoveries, which will increase what we learn from the Book of Abraham. They are careful not to become superstitious and search for holy grails to confirm their faith. They do not replace faith with a dependence on only what we can see.

CES Letter‘s attack on the Book of Abraham invalidates all ancient writing, which is quite convenient for Satan’s followers. Archaeology and historical science is only as useful as it can invalidate faith for them and momentarily be twisted to support Marxist ideas, such as the idea that mankind evolved from monkeys without a spark of divinity in them. They hold religions to the highest standards of skepticism, yet place blind faith in Marxism.

The Satanic substitute for religious scripture is the national-standard science textbook that jumps to wild politically correct conclusions and requires revising every year. It is the Bill Nye Science show that one day teaches kids that chromosomes determine your sex identity, rather than eternal spirit nature, and then the next day erases that segment from Netflix and teaches kids that sex identity is totally fluid. For followers of Satan, truth is only the narrative, and the narrative changes however it needs to in order to support the ideology in new circumstances.

By invalidating the Book of Breathing as just some common Pagan funerary text, and totally ignoring its sacred and profound spiritual context, CES Letter further pours gasoline on any kind of faith in ancient scripture. Actually, the fact is the Book of Breathing is one of the most important books ever made. It was one of the first Egyptian writings, one of the first translated into English, and was immediately an object of wide fascination. LDS can glean powerful wisdom by pondering why it was deposited alongside the Book of Abraham scroll.

Facsimile 1 Depicted The Egyptian Sed Fevistal–Which Involved Abraham

Anti-Mormons dismiss Facsimile 1 as a common “funerary scene” that has nothing to do with Abraham.

We can agree it is an Egyptian ritual scene. Joseph Smith’s interpretation was a different context from the Egyptian context. But even though it does not mention Abraham explicitly or anything about him, Joseph Smith was correct to make it about Abraham.

The Egyptian lion couch scene derives from an old ritual called the Sed-festival. The king ritually “died” on the New Years festival and was “resurrected” to reclaim his kingship upon a lion couch. Researchers have discovered animals and even humans were sacrificed as substitutes for the king’s ritual “death.” Abraham was one of these substitute sacrifices, which is how he figures into Facsimile 1. This was the same sacrificial ritual that Abraham talked about in the Book of Abraham.

Reviving Osiris

The lion couch scene in Facsimile 1 is not a funeral. There are plenty of lion couch scenes that are funeral, yes, but not this one. There are lion couch scenes of a child being born, of the king holding his royal scepter as if sitting on a throne, of the king turning around, of the king kicking upwards and moving his hands–all kinds of lion couch scenes!

They show different steps in the resurrection of the king as the god Osiris. First he dies, a horrible violent death. Then he is buried. Then he is revived, and reborn.

Egyptians portrayed their king “as a god from the lion bed” in the typical lion couch scene, says expert Jeremy Naydler. The purpose of the lion couch scenes were to show “the birth of a god…. re-membering of the dismembered Osiris.” It starts with the king being overcome by his enemies and being violently torn apart limb from limb. The priests and gods then try to help him restore to life and regain his throne. The figures under the lion bed symbolized by canopic jars, says Naydler, pay “homage to the newborn god-man.” They aid in the “healing and revivification of Osiris.”

Naydler says it goes back to the Sed festivel ritual on New Years day. This lion couch “phase in the rites was the supreme moment of the Sed fevistal.” The king was “dressed in a shroudlike garment, such as was used by the king during his entombment in the Sed festival, stretched out on a lion bed.” It was all about re-establishing the king’s rulership: “The Sed festival… was a true renewal of the kingly potency, a rejuvenation of ruler ship.”


The lion couch was typically an altar formed as a stone lion bed. The king went into the temple to be placed on this altar. The inner temple chamber was “the place where Osiris is begotten… where he dies to be reborn.”

Was it Osiris on the altar or the Egyptian king?

Osiris in the lion couch scene symbolized the Egyptian king.
In Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts, Jeremy Naydler explains:

“Within Egyptology, the standard funerary interpretation of the relationship between Osiris and Horus is that the two gods correspond to two different kings: the deceased king and his successor, the living king who occupies the throne… one and the same king… The king is going to enter the realm of death, he himself going to experience death. But although he is to journey into the realm of the dead, it is explicitly stated that he journeys into it alive. The death, then, is a ‘voluntary death.'”

King Tutankhamen’s tomb included lion couches for this ritual to take place in the afterlife. Alexandre Piankoff (via John Anthony West) explained: “Thus the dead one comes as Osiris into his tomb, where a cycle of transformation is going to begin: the dead god will be born again, Osiris will appear as a new Re, a new sun god… the birth of the sun god out of the watery abyss, and his exaltation and ascension into heaven.”

These “rites of rebirth” were shown in vignettes from the Book of the Dead, one of which is Facsimile 1 in the Book of Abraham. Interestingly, Facsimile 1 is the only lion couch scene in Egyptian literature–and there are a lot of them–that shows the watery expanse of the sky and pillars of heaven, below a sacrificial lotus offering table. Clearly, the Facsimile illustrated the ritual of exaltation and sacrifice.

Ritual Substitute Killing

In order to regain his kingdom and be exalted in heaven, Egypt’s king needed to merit this glory by overcoming his enemies. Similarly to the LDS temple drama, the king took part in the premortal struggle between God and Lucifer. The Egyptian God Osiris gained exaltation by killing the Egyptian version of the devil, Set, which was often illustrated by the sun’s (Re) overcoming the darkness of night. E.A. Wallis Budge explained:

“The ‘smiting’ of the statue is one of the most important acts of this ceremony, which was intended to commemorate the murder of Osiris by Set and his companions… the smiting of the statue symbolized the smiting of the body of the god, and also the smiting of the mummy of the deceased, whereby each was made a divine victim.”

The Book of Beginnings told of the sun’s (Re) battle with Seth (aka Apophis the serpent):

“For the dead spirits or gods are described as swarming through the horizon in crowds. They gather for the battle of the Sun and the Apophis… ‘I am the sun coming forth from the horizon against my enemies. My enemies have not made me to fall… strangle ye the enemies of the sun. I put forth blows against the Apophis… The sun is that great god, the greatest of smiters, the most powerful of terrifiers; he washes in your blood, he dips in your gore.” (Massey)

The Sed ritual played out this victory within the king’s own self. The evil nature needed to die. M. Alexandre Moret explained (via James Frazer) that Egyptians made human sacrifices in the ritual

“In most of the temples of Egypt, of all periods, pictures set forth for us the principal scenes of a solemn festival called ‘festival of the tail,’ the Sed festival. It consisted essentially in a representation of the ritual death of the king followed by his rebirth. In this case the king is identified with Osiris, the god who in historical times is the hero of the sacred drama of humanity, he who guides us through the three stages of life, death, and rebirth in the other world. Hence, clad in the funeral costume of Osiris, which the tight-fitting garment clinging to him like a shroud, Pharoah is conducted to the tomb; and from it he returns rejuvenated and reborn like Osiris emerging from the dead. How was this fiction carried out? how was this miracle performed? By the sacrifice of human or animal victims.”

In the “mysteries of the rebirth of Osiris” we know several “cows are sacrificed.” But not just cows. Alberto Ravinell Green says it started out with the king as the sacrificial victim, and then moved on to substitute victims:

“…these Seth sacrifices were burned at the New Year’s annual fertility celebration. Initially… the king himself was burned alive as the earthly incarnation of Seth. Next, in the late Old Kingdom, a human substitute was chosen for the king. On such occasions as the Sed Festival, which was a fertility rite, Seth sacrifices would take place.”

At the Temple of the goddess Opet at Karnak, we see a lion couch scene very similar to Facsimile 1. But notice on the bottom left, just before the narrative of this chamber walls gets to the lion couch resurrection, we see hawk-headed Re, representing the sun, clubbing a little Seth figure, representing Apophis the devil. This violent killing was the sacrifice offering that expunged evil and allowed the king’s resurrection. Alexandre Moret explained: “A victim was sacrificed and its life taken, in order that this life escaping from the body of the victim might enter the body of Osiris.”

Egyptologists have found other temple reliefs which show “the sed-festival celebrated by Osorkon II,” showing how “the king entered his tomb” and “a priest holding a knife” conducted the sacrifice. Eric Uphill compares this relief illustration to a cenotaph of Seti I showing the king “stretched out prone on a lion couch attired in a robe… Above Seti is the single glyph commanding him to ‘wake.'”

The sacrifice was often performed with a knife, as shown in Facsimile 1. But there is also evidence of sacrifice by fire, which we read of in similar Abraham sacrifice accounts. At the tomb of Amenhotep II, “three human bodies were found, but though there is no actual proof that these were the victims of sacrifice yet from their position it seems likely that they had been immolated in honour of the dead king.”

Spread To Mesopotamia

The human sacrifice in Egypt was brief and limited compared to Mesopotamia, where the Book of Abraham claims it took place.

Herodotus mentioned that the Scynthians in northern Iran performed “human sacrifice” to “all other gods.” Herodotus said “they used to offer human sacrifices” at a ritual “when their king died.” It sounds like this ritual served the same purpose as the Sed festival, of renewing the king’s ruler ship. These human sacrifices were literally made “on their kings’ tomb… an immense sacrifice (fifty people are strangled)… members of the king’s household.”

The Taurians, in modern-day Turkey, performed a similar “human sacrifice” where they would “strike the victim’s head with a club.” Herodotus recorded (via Linday De Pow) “the priestesses killed all men who landed in their territory and nailed their heads to crosses. At Heirapolis artificial trees in Artemis’s temple were hung with the corpses of her sacrificial victims.” But later on the ritual softened to only “drops of blood drawn from a man’s neck with a sword.”

Origins For Book Of Breathing Vignette

The Book of Breathings adopted the lion couch scene from the Sed sacrifice ritual to affect the same exaltation for Egyptian elites. It was the same ritual adopted for the masses in later times. Looking at the Joseph Smith Papyri, it does not appear as if the figure in Facsimile 1 is drawn to be Abraham specifically… or maybe it was and that part is just missing from the papyrus fragment. It wouldn’t be surprising, considering the Leiden I 384 papyrus names Abraham in bold letters right below a similar lion couch scene.

But the fragment from the Joseph Smith papyri we have does not name Abraham explicitly. That’s because it is not the original illustration that Abraham makes reference to in the Book of Abraham. There are some key differences between the Facsimiles and what Abraham describes:

  • Facsimiles 2 is a Hypocephalus and that would never be in a Book of Breathings scroll, which is where Facsimile 1 can be found. So either each facsimile was also on the lost Amenhotep Scroll, or Joseph took the facsimiles from different scrolls.
  • The Hypocephalus in Facsimile 2 mentions a guy named Sheshonq, and none of the four mummies had this name. This strengthens the conclusion that Joseph took the facsimiles from different sources.
  • Fragments from all four rolls were placed under glass in the same collection as the Abraham sheets. Apparently they were important too, as they contained facsimiles that Joseph could use to explain derivative diagrams relating to Abraham.
  • Test is much easier to reproduce than illustrations. If this scroll was passed down over many generations from the days of Abraham, it is likely that they gave up copying the facsimiles along the way, and this is why Joseph used images in the other scrolls to derive Abrahamic concepts, as these Egyptian images were based on Abrahamic diagrams.
  • Only one facsimile was referenced in the Abraham text, yet Joseph produced three facsimiles. This strengthens the disassociation of the facsimiles with the Abraham text.”
  • Text from the facsimiles received lengthy consideration in the Grammar and Alphabet booklet, yet no hieroglyphs in any of the scrolls’ text are to be found.
  • The Abraham text describes the facsimile differently than the papyrus fragment shows it. Abraham describes the bedstead as standing “before” the idol gods. The facsimile shows the bed over the idols, but we don’t get a point of perspective whether they are in front of behind them. The priest’s foot is in front of the jars, so it looks to me like the jars are under the bed. Abraham’s text reads: “I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is… hieroglyphics.” There are no hieroglyphics in this Facsimile, and there is nothing to explain anything about this idols.

    If the author of the Abraham text had had this same facsimile in front of them, they would have described it to match how it actually showed. This indicates Joseph Smith did not write it and the facsimiles we have today are not what Abraham originally wrote in his book.

The most likely explanation is that the Amenhotep roll which contained the Book of Abraham did not contain any facsimiles at all, only contained text, and Joseph Smith took the Facsimiles from the other scrolls. It showed the same ritual event, with the same lion couch and four supporting idol gods, very similar to how Abraham described them.

Abraham 1:12-14 makes direct reference to one of the Facsimiles, but does that mean the Facsimile was actually drawn in that roll to reference? No. Ancient books omitted illustrations that were referenced in the text all the time. The Roman Ten Book on Architecture makes references to many illustrations, but none of those illustrations have survived over time, because the book has been transcribed many times. Text is much easier to transcribe than illustrations. It is likely that the Amenhotep roll contained a copy of the original Book of Abrhaam, not the actual document written by Abraham himself, and that the illustration had been long ago lost.

But that’s fine, because the lion couch scene from the Book of Breathings scroll was an illustration of the same ritual sacrifice that Abraham meant to describe.