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Did Joseph Smith Incorrectly Fill In Missing Parts Of Facsimile 1?



CES Letter claims missing portions of Facsimile 1 were “penciled in” by Joseph Smith incorrectly. These missing parts were different, “based on Egyptology and the same scene discovered elsewhere in Egypt,” they claim.

But this claim is illogical, because the lion couch scene in Facsimile 1 is so unique. How can they be sure how it should be drawn in? None of the other lion couch scenes show hands extended, the lying figure wearing garments, an offering table to the side, etc. Nobody can know how it was originally drawn.

And maybe Joseph Smith was guessing himself. How was he supposed to know what missing parts looked like? He was only giving the scene’s meaning and the Abrahamic context. That doesn’t necessarily mean he knew how the missing parts should look like.

What difference did it make if the priest on the side wore a jackal mask or not? Discrepancies would only matter if they were substantially different. In fact, as we shall see, Joseph Smith’s fill-ins turns out to be more accurate than CES Letter‘s “modern Egyptology.”

Priest’s Head

In all other lion couch scenes, Anubis wears a solid colored mask. But in the papyrus we can see interspersed black and white markings behind his head where the mask continues. We see a long vertical white mark at the very back where it should be solid, and the Charles Larson drawing ignores this. But again, whether this character really showed a jackal head is not important, because this was a human priest filling this role wearing a mask.

Reclining Figure’s Hands

In CES Letter‘s drawing, taken from Charles Larson’s book By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus, it shows a second bird instead of the reclining figure’s upper hand. A second bird sometimes appears in lion couch scenes here, typically carrying an ankh symbol, the bringer of eternal life. This bird as a symbol would not be inconsistent with Joseph Smith’s interpretation of the Facsimile. But regardless, there are many reasons why this looks more like a hand than a bird.

  • Egyptians drew birds with solid wings, not frayed lines like we see here. The first bird on the papyrus, above the head, is drawn with a solid line outlining the wing. I have never seen an Egyptian bird with frayed feathers like on this papyrus. In the very rare example that does not have this solid line outlining the wing, each feather is meticulously outlined. They didn’t just scrawl squiggly lines for the feathers.
  • Egyptians were very careful to avoid overlapping the figures if they didn’t have to. The Charles Larson drawing shows the arm overlapping the ankh and the bird overlapping the priest’s hand. Egyptians would never draw it this way. Larson had to draw a large bird because of the size of the squiggly lines, but an Egyptian artist would simply have made the bird smaller to fit in the space.
The reclined figure’s shoulder line is broken in order to give the arm more room to reach the crotch in Larson’s drawing. But Egyptians drew downward shoulders in cases of the arm reaching down, as we would see the shoulder behave naturally. They drew upraised shoulders in cases where the arm was reaching up, again as we see shoulders behave naturally. The angle of the Facsimile’s shoulder line suggests the arm is reaching up.

Below is Charles Larson’s drawing overlapped with the papyrus fragment. The red lines outlines the edges of the papyrus fragment. The blue lines are parts that Charles Larson draws in but are actually blank spaces on the papyrus. The green lines are parts that are drawn in on the papyrus but which Larson omits.

  • Again, he draws the shoulder line on the right side of the page different than what’s on the papyrus in order to cover up for the fact that the shoulder indicates a raised hand.
  • At the top right side, he fills in a horizontal line at hand in order to make it look like it continues horizontally to a bird instead of angling down to an arm.
  • On the bottom-left hand of the page, the hand that he draws extending to the crotch slightly overlaps to a blank space on the papyrus
  • On the upper-left hand of the page, the bird’s tail feathers slightly overlap to a blank space on the papyrus. In his drawing, Charles Larson placed the bird and hand conveniently just inside the part missing from the papyrus, but they do overlap twice onto papyrus space that is actually blank. Oops!
  • The arm of Anubis is moved up entirely. Larson adjusts the Anubis priest’s arm higher up so that it doesn’t overlap the bird’s feathers worse than it already does. But sorry, that’s blank papyrus there.

Take a closer look. Is the upper hand really a bird wing? Why does it resemble the other hand exactly, with five fingers? Why does one feather curl backwards like a thumb? Why does this style conflict with every other bird drawing in Egyptian literature–and even the other bird within the same drawing? Clearly, it is a hand.

Bird

Charles Larson draws some kind of beakless head for the bird on the right side of the papyrus, different than what Joseph Smith drew in. What is that? A Mexican wrestling mask? A rugby helmet? Anti-Mormons have speculated that a human head belongs on this bird, but instead he draws some kind of striped dome.

There are two reasons why Larson wisely avoided adding a human head. First, no lion couch scene includes a human-headed bird in this position at the bottom of the bed. Second, the human heads tend to be large and bearded, and there is blank space on the papyrus where that would all go.

Joseph Smith put a beak above the long neck, but Larson instead includes no beak, no mouth. But the specifics of how the bird looks is not important. The point is, it’s a bird. Actually, if it had a human head, it would strengthen Joseph Smith’s claim that it is a symbol for a human angel.

Notice that in every lion couch scene with multiple birds, the birds look the same. They are drawn the same and doing the same, or similar, actions.

Finally, notice the clear evidence of peeling on the papyrus after it was mounted. We see frayed paper and glue marks with tiny pieces still attached, indicating that the bird head was probably still there when this papyrus was mounted on paper. The bird’s head is not penciled in so the part of the papyrus was probably still there when the penciling was done.

Look at the edge of the paper. There are a few dark specks here and there. But now look around where the papyrus is missing. I see large specks of papyrus residue and dried glue that used to hold papyrus. How much of the missing papyrus flaked away after Joseph Smith looked at it? The bird head and priest’s hand with the knife is not penciled in, so we can guess those parts of the papyrus were still there (in which case the second bird couldn’t have been in the scene.) Dr. Hugh Nibley points out, “there was room on the papyrus for the complete head and hand of the priest” before it flaked away.

We may never know. There is a good chance he saw what the missing bird head, arms, and Anubis head originally looked like.

Who Filled It In?

As we can see, the penciled in parts look different than the official published Facsimile 1. Why would Joseph Smith pencil in something different than what he published? There is no evidence Joseph Smith was the one who penciled that in, and he certainly wasn’t the one who made the final Facsimile 1 illustration. That was done by a professional engraver named Reuben Hedlock.

So there is a chance Reuben Hedlock filled it in the best way he could guess, based on Joseph Smith’s general description of Abraham on an altar, a priest sacrificing him, and a bird over his head.

Whoever it was that filled it in, it is quite amazing how well they did! Even modern Egyptologists have a hard time figuring it out, as we can see with this investigation of Charles Larson’s drawing. He goes out of his way to throw in things that contradict the Facsimile 1 fill-in, but in every case Facsimile 1 is simpler and more likely what was originally there.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehoods CES Letter uses Charles Larson’s illustration of what “Facsimile 1 is really supposed to look like,” but it is full of mistakes–additions that don’t show up on the papyrus and parts on the papyrus that he omits. He tries to fit contradictions into the part that is missing from the papyrus.

CES Letter incorrectly claims figure 3 is not supposed to be “human,” but what CES Letter fails to understand is this is a scene of a real Egyptian ritual and this figure indeed was a human priest.

CES Letter incorrectly claims that pencil markings behind the papyrus and the final engraving were “penciled in by Joseph Smith and his associates.” Joseph Smith wasn’t an engraver and it is unlikely he made the pencil markings as they are different than the engraving that he approved.

Argument From Ignorance In order to prove that this was a “common” scene in Egyptian literature, CES Letter‘s illustration adds things that are not to be found in any Egyptian literature, such as squiggly marks for feathers, a bird with a Mexican wrestling mask for a head, and an Anubis head mask that wraps around the front of arms but not the back. Wouldn’t all of this make the Facsimile more unique, and therefore more likely to associate with Abraham, not less unique?

But the truth is the smartest Egyptologist in history can’t know what was in those missing parts. And Joseph Smith and his engraver may have been guessing as well. All Joseph Smith claimed to know, from inspiration, was the Abrahmic meaning of the Facsimile.

CES Letter‘s illustration includes columns of hieroglyphic text around the Facsimile, to suggest that Joseph Smith somehow made a mistake not including them in the Facsimile engraving.

Repetition CES Letter brings up several times the alleged problems with the “facsimiles.”
Circular Argument CES Letter points out “Anubis is consistent in every funerary scene,” and they show examples of Anubis with a sarcophagus. But Facsimile 2 isn’t a scene with a sarcophagus, but with a moving person. Also, Anubis isn’t consistent here at all, as he stands between the moving deceased figure and the lion couch, which does not happen in any other lion couch scene. Also, this figure isn’t always Anubis, but often Isis or someone else. Interestingly, CES Letter locates this illogical argument not at the discussion of how the scene should be filled in but at the part where they discuss what the scene means, which falsely implies that these figures are the same as these sarcophagus examples.
Big Lie Tactic – Most anti-Mormons say 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.

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 un-spiritual 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 the lion couch scene has nothing to do with Abraham, 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. Then they cherry-picked evidence that Joseph Smith’s interpretation of Facsimile 1 is totally wrong. Now, in this argument they cherry-pick elements that once in a while show up in other lion couch scenes and fill those in instead of what Joseph Smith filled in.

This is how CES Letter works. They frame any discussion in a very narrow context where Joseph Smith must give completely testable physical evidence that we can prove. They do not allow the possibility that these missing parts of the papyrus will never be proven. So, they set an impossible standard where Joseph Smith needs to know everything and explain it perfectly, even if it is irrelevant to the point he was getting across. who cares if the priest wears a jackal mask or not? 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, a perfect magic trick, is going to lose their testimony of the gospel. Really, it is stunning that the Facsimile is filled in as correctly as it is.

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. Joseph Smith never claimed to give the Egyptian meaning.

CES Letter uses fake science–in this case phony assumptions–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, as they appeal to “science” and deconstruct the outdated Mormon belief.

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.

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 1 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! They were found with an Egyptian mummy. Why wouldn’t they be Egyptian?

Joseph Smith and church leaders said they were Egyptian: “The characters are such as you find upon the coffins of mummies–hieroglyphs,etc.” CES Letter holds the Facsimiles to a strict Egyptian context, while Joseph Smith provided a different kind of context. Joseph even explained that the Egyptian meaning was different than the Abrahamic meaning. He said one figure was “also a numerical figure, in Egyptian.” Another figure was “said by the Egyptians to be the Sun.” Joseph Smith focused on how it related to Abraham instead of a text translation or 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 do you assume it is a symbol of Christian worship or do you see it as 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 of the facsimiles to be similar to Joseph Smith’s interpretation for Abraham. After all, why assume “Pagan” Egypt to be totally incongruent with the gospel? CES Letter says the Facsimile comes from a “common” funerary document. Well, couldn’t it 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.

Researchers have found the lion couch scene references a ritual that goes back to early Egyptian times where the king ritually “died” on the New Years sed festival and was “resurrected” to reclaim his kingship. Researchers have also found that animals and even humans were sacrificed as substitutes for the king’s ritual “death.” If Abraham as a child was one of these substitute sacrifices for the sed festival, then that would explain how Joseph Smith would find an Abrahamic context for this Facsimile.

Resurrection Not Burial Scene – If this is supposed to be a funeral scene, why is the deceased character on the bed kicking up his legs and lifting his arms? We don’t see this in any of the other funeral bed scenes presented by CES Letter. Why is it drawn this way here? Egyptologists agree this is a scene about resurrection, which relates nicely to Abraham as he was delivered from death in this Joseph Smith’s interpretation.

His kicking legs were a symbol for departing to “foreign lands” to Egyptians. His arms are raised in the a symbol of prayer, with “arms raised in front of face.” This matches perfectly the Book of Abraham imagery of Abraham on the altar, where “as they lifted their hands upon me… I lifted up my voice unto the Lord my God, and the Lord hearkened and heard.”

CES Letter provides examples of “similar funerary scenes,” but actually they are all sarcophagus scenes with deceased people in coffins. Facsimile 1 shows no coffin, no sarcophagus. He is alive and dynamic. That’s because it shows “the union of the sun god Amen-Re, as an ithyphallic bird, with Osiris,” not a funerary scene.

In fact, while this does show Osiris in the Egyptian context, Facsimile 1 is the only lion couch scene ever discovered with the deceased wearing ritual sacred garments and anklets, along with several other unique things.

Notice how the Anubis character to the left stands between the lying figure and the lion couch. This suggests the lying figure is being violently placed onto the lion couch. Or, Dr. Hugh Nibley suggests, the lion couch is actually a stone altar (which has been found in many places in Egypt) and the artist drew it like this because otherwise it would like like his body just disappears behind the couch.

Egyptian vs. Abraham Meanings

1. 

The Egyptian falcon represents the ba spirit of the deceased.

But the falcon is also a symbol of Horus, a god similar to Jehovah in Egyptian theology (a star in the East heralded his birth, baptized in the River Jordan, walked on water, healed the sick, etc.). The falcon was also a messenger bird sent from Horus in Ptolemaic Memphis. In one story, the falcon-god Nectanebo “thoughtfully sends a falcon as a dream messenger.”

Egyptian texts peak of the Horus falcon as an angelic messenger: “The messenger speaks: I grew and waxed mightily… and appeared as a divine Falcon.” In the Book of the Dead, which is where Facsimile 1 and the Book of Breathings derives: “The messenger quotes the command of Horus: Horus as command of Horus: Horus has commanded: Lift up your faces and look at him; he has made his appearance as a divine falcon.”

Doesn’t this perfectly describe Joseph Smith’s Abrahamic context, an angel of Jehovah?

2. 

If this figure is supposed to be the deceased mummy that the Book of the Dead scroll was made for, why isn’t he dressed like a mummy in this scene? Why are his arms and legs moving up? Doesn’t look very deceased to me.

Actually, this same character (without the ritual garments) is found in a scene from the Opet temple at Karnak: “Osiris as a young man lying upon a lion couch.” This was a scene of Osiris, to be a metaphor for the deceased resurrecting. Osiris’ “union” with the messenger Horus bird was “a central mythos in the concept of the divine kingship,” and it is “a key to understanding the pyramids as sites ‘that allowed the king to unite with the ba of the sun god.'” In the Book of the Dead, which is all about exaltation, the “accompanying text” to this scene “mentions not only Osiris, but also his protection.” So, Osiris takes the place of Hor in this Facsimile, his uniting with the Lord and giving protection.

Well, if Osiris gets to analogously fill the role of Hor, why can’t Abraham as well? In each Facsimile, Abraham is the same as Osiris and fulfills the same role. In the Book of Abraham, the messenger tells him: “Behold, I will lead thee by my hand, and I will take thee, to put upon thee my name, even the Priesthood of thy father, and my power shall be over thee.” The messenger gave Abraham divine authority and united him with the Lord. This also perfectly describes the Egyptian context of this figure.

3. 

In each of the funerary scenes provided by CES Letter, this figure is a human priest acting in the role of the god Anubis, wearing his mask, preparing the deceased body for burial. But this is a scene of exaltation, not a funeral. That’s why this figure doesn’t show up in the Osiris scene at the Opet temple at Karnak. So who is he in this context?

At the Dendera Temple, Horus stands in this position and commands Osiris to rise from his bier. It refers to the sacrifice of Horus and his eye:

“Horus’ sacrifice of his eye for his father Osiris became symbolical of all sacrifice, and the Horus-eye became one of the holiest symbols of the Egyptian religion. Except the scarab the Horus-eye is the commonest symbol known to ancient Egypt. But, by a strange mixture of myths, it was not the left eye (that is, the moon) of Horus that became the powerful symbol of sacrifice, but the right eye, that is, the sun.”

Which eye faces us in this scene? Horus’ right eye, the symbol of sacrifice. In other couch scenes, this spot is taken by Hathor, the goddess of life and death. Indeed, this figure is a symbol of sacrifice.

This priest stands appropriately opposite the falcon Horus messenger in figure 1, facing each other. Like the right eye and left eye oppose each other, the priest of Canaan, the bringer of death, opposes the deliverance bird of resurrection. The true God of Canaan in opposition to the idolatrous god of Canaan.

4. 
We now know human sacrifice was practiced in ancient Egypt. It was also practiced in ancient America.

The Egyptian funeral couch, shown in figure 4, is the couch of Hathor. She was the god who knew the birth and death of every person, so it was appropriate to use her couch in this scene of sacrifice and resurrection.

The Hathor couch was used to carry the body of King Tutankhamen to his burial chamber. Now, that couch had three heads: Hathor (representing exaltation), hippopotamus (final judgement), and lion (access to heaven.) But in Facsimile 1 we only see the head of a lion, access to heaven, which references a passage from the Book of the Dead:

“May I be granted power over the waters… I am the Lion of Re, I am the Slayer.”

We see the lion couch literally standing over waters (the rope-like lines with a crocodile in them), and we see Abraham indeed being granted the power of deliverance, like the Egyptian lion who delivered the sun through the waters of the night sky.

The connection between the lion couch and sacrifice is even more pronounced in Mayan altars. The jaguar throne at Chichen Itza, found in the burial chamber of the king, shows a jaguar chair (the Mayan version of a lion) with the exact same design as the Hathor couch. It is blood-colored, exactly like the Egyptian lion couch of Sekhmet the lioness, who was frequently painted red.

Altar 4 at La Venta also shows a jaguar forming the body of the altar, with the eyes, mouth, and face forming at the cornice, exactly like in Facsimile 1. It is even patterned with the same diagonal lines as Facsimile! But note the idol statue sitting under the altar, with a rope-like pattern underneath him. A very close copy of Facsimile 1.

5. 
These four jars (figures 5-9) don’t show up in the Osiris scene at the Opet temple at Karnak. In various couch scenes, a multitude of things show up under the couch: crowns, plain jars, animal jars, serpents, people, hieroglyphs. Their location under the couch suggests that they support the weight of the couch, or help with what is going on. This aligns with Joseph Smith’s claim that these gods were involved in the ritual. They represented the glory of the king spreading across the four quarters of the earth.

Figure 5 shows Nekheny, the falcon of Horus.

Joseph Smith identifies this representation with the idolatrous god Elkanah. A late Hittite tablet told of “El-Creator-of-the-Earth (El-qone-ersi, writeen El-ku-ni-ir-sa, pronounced Elkoners.) So this name for diety definitely existed.

What does the name Elkanah mean? El means “God,” either the God of Israel or some other god. Khanah is short for Khani-rabbat or Kheni-rabbat, and land in Assyria which “formed part of the kingdom of Mitanni or Aram-Naharaim.” The kingdom of Mitanni existed between 1500 and 1300 BC, the time of Abraham, and they were “in peace” with Egypt, according to letter B. 22,17.

The name “Canaan” comes from a very similar Egyptian name for that land, Kinahhi. So it makes perfect sense for Egyptians to call the priest of Canaan or Mitanni north of Canaan: “El-Kanah.”

What about the Egyptian name for this god, Nekheny? Again, Khana and Kheni are short for the same name. “El-kanah” is the same as the god “Ne-kheny.”

6. 
Figure 6 shows Duamutef, born from the white lily flower out of the primeval ocean. Duamutef wears a white crown. He was Lord of the East, which is called in the Book of the Dead the divine land full of bright light, where “thou risest on the horizon and sheddest thy beams of light upon the lands.”

Joseph Smith names this god Libah, which translates as “white.” A direct bullseye for Joseph Smith!

7. 
 

Joseph Smith identified this idol as Mahmackrah. Mh means “north”, and the Book of the Dead associated the Egyptian god shown here, Hapi, with the north. Mah or Mhr means “champion,” which makes sense because Hapi was the champion of the North who fought on behalf of the deceased.

Next part of the name: Mackrah. In Eastern language, Maha means “great, illustrious.” In modern Arabic maha translates as “a kind of baboon.” It also gets a glutteral sound on the “h” that sounds similar to “mackah.” This is interesting because figure 7 is Hapi, the divine baboon. In the Book of the Dead, Hapi the baboon fights as champion for the deceased/ Osiris: “I have smitten down for thee thine enemies beneath thee. I have given to thee the head forever, twice, O Osiris Ani.”

The vignette of the deceased/ Osiris adoring Hapi includes the chant: “Stand up, gods,” and is spoken “by the god Ra.” Hence, the name gets put together: “Mah-Maha-Ra” or Mahmackrah. This kind of name conjugation is not unusual for Egypt, and in fact, there are similar conjugations for burning and lion, which figure in to this Facsimile.

8. 

Joseph Smith identified this idol as Korash. The Mesopatamian name Kuras translated as “to bestow care” during Abraham’s time. It was derived from the Iranian name meaning “the young one, child.”

This is interesting because figure 8 is Imset, a name which means “the kindly one.” Imset was associated with “human emotion” and portrayed as a young human. Another direct bullseye for Joseph Smith!

9. 

Joseph Smith identified this as “god of Pharaoh.” Indeed, the king of Egypt was sometimes associated with the crocodile. King Unas of Egypt is referred to as the crocodile god. Utterance 317: “Unas has come today from the overflowing flood, Unas is Sobk [crocodile god], green-plumed, wakeful, alert… Unas has come to his streams.”

10. 
The libation table, a symbol for sacrifice, does not show up in any other lion couch scenes in all of Egypt, so Egyptologists can’t know exactly what it means in this context. The libation table, with its ritual offering jars and holy flowers, were a common symbol for sacrificial offering in Egypt to the gods.

The Book of The Dead lists a series of sacrifices to gods: “an offering of a libation of one vase upon earth by Osiris…. the soul that hearkeneth unto the words of the gods… a libation of one vase upon earth by Osiris…. may his limbs live and may his limbs be sound forever.”

Isn’t it interesting that Joseph Smith claimed that the only couch scene in history to include a symbol for sacrificial offering is, in an Abrahamic context, referring to human attempted sacrifice?

But Joseph said this figure itself means “Abraham in Egypt.” Why would this facsimile of an event that occurred in Chaldea, according to the Book of Abraham, include a figure that means Abraham in Egypt? Why would Joseph Smith make this kind of obvious contradiction? This further suggests that the entire Facsimile was never intended to be an illustration of this scene in the story, like we would expect in a modern book. Abraham said himself: “That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is… hieroglyphics.” These images are hieroglyphics words, not images. The purpose was to give some kind of explanation of who the false idols were involved in this story, so a few hieroglyphics arranged in a diagram tells the story. The sacrifice was performed “after the manner of the Egyptians.” It was performed by a “priest of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.” It was Abraham involved with Egypt, like how he was involved with Egypt in Facsimile 3 where we also see this figure.

11. 
CES Letter misplaces where figure 11 is. No, it isn’t the diagonal lines but the vertical lines below them. That’s where I see the number 11, anyway. Why does CES Letter claim figure 11 is somewhere else? Perhaps because figure 11 is the strongest evidence of correlation between the Egyptian meaning and what Joseph Smith says in the Abrahamic translation. CES Letter appears to be covering up this correlation by lying.

CES Letter calls Figure 11 a “palace facade.” Well, just from that we can see Joseph Smith correctly called this figure “pillars,” which would kinda be a shot in the dark if he were just guessing about everything. But was he correct to call them “pillars of heaven?” What Figure 11 actually shows is a Serekh: a “representation of the town or city where the king or Pharaoh lived as an incarnation of the sky god, Horus.”

First consider, why would Joseph Smith include “pillars of heaven” at the bottom of a scene of Abraham that happened on earth? The attempted sacrifice of Abraham didn’t happen in heaven, did it? Well, Joseph specified that this was “as understood by the Egyptians”–as in, this figure is entirely drawn in an Egyptian context and has nothing to do with the Abrahamic context. Again, Joseph made it clear that these Facsimiles were Egyptian and drawn for an Egyptian purpose, but that he was deriving an Abrahamic meaning that was related.

The Serekh was usually drawn in Egyptian scenes together with the Horus falcon, figure 1, to indicate spiritual implications of whatever is going on. The American Research Center in Egypt writes: “The serekh suggests that Egyptian kings served as a bridge between heaven and earth, concretely illustrated by the king’s name written between the divine falcon, designating the realm of the gods, and a palace facade, representing the earth.”

Gee, that sure sounds like heaven to me!

This was heaven in an Egyptian context–which is conveniently more similar to a Mormon understanding of heaven than a mainstream Christian understanding. The Serekh pillars (earth) held up the firmament of heaven (which Joseph Smith correctly attributes to figure 12), which indicates that Osiris in this scene is interacting with deity from heaven: “Whatever Deity surmounts the serekh, that Deity stands for the world of the Gods, the heaven that arches over all the world. The palace facade represents the earth.”

Another perfect bullseye for Joseph. Why would Joseph Smith, if he were guessing, place “pillars of heaven” under a scene of something happening on earth? They don’t really even look like pillars.

12. 
CES Letter calls this figure: “just the water that the crocodiles swims in.” Why would Egyptians take the time to draw some water with some crocodiles swimming if it didn’t mean anything? What, did the writer get bored and decide to draw a cute little crocodile? No, Egyptologists agree on the important symbolism behind the crocodile and the water, and like the rest of the figures, it closely aligns with what Joseph Smith gave as the Abrahamic context.

The crocodile is Sebek passing through the waters of Nun, which represents the sun passing through the expanse of the sky:

“…the crocodile-headed Sebek, who made the passage of the Nun by night as sun god in the solar mythos. The fish-man was at first the crocodile of Egypt, next the crocodile-headed figure of Horus hwo is called ‘the crocodile god in the form of a man’ (Rit. ch. 88). The deceased assumes this form to cross the waters in the nether-world, because it had been a figure of the solar god in the mythology.” (Gerald Massey)

Yes, this figure is the “firmament over our heads” or as “the Egyptians meant it,” “the heavens” like Joseph Smith said. A perfect bullseye for Joseph Smith. Egyptologists agree figure 12 shows: “Above the firmament were the waters, the ‘ocean of heaven’… The Babylonian name for this ocean was anum or anun, and in a still shorter form nun.” But as Egyptians meant it: “If now we turn back again to Egypt we shall find that in the early pyramid texts there were three chief gods venerated: Nun, heaven’s ocean…” (Gerald Massey)

Zig-zag lines indeed referenced waters of the sky, and the vertical serekh lines indeed referenced the “pillars of heaven,” as told in the Book of Abraham.

“It is always assumed that the flat slab of iron which formed the sky, and therefore the floor of the abode of the gods, was rectangular, and that each corner of it rested upon a pillar. That this is a very ancient view concerning the sky is proved by the hieroglyphic which is used in texts to determine the words for rain, storm, and the like; here we have a picture of the sky falling and being pierced by the four pillars of heaven.” (E.W. Budge)

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehoods CES Letter misplaces where figure #11 is, the “pillars of heaven,” in order to cover up the obvious correctness of Joseph Smith’s interpretation for this figure.

CES Letter dismisses this as “a common funerary document.” Actually, the lion couch scene was used in lots of literature besides funerary documents. The full significance is actually impossible to tell, because many parts of this particular Facsimile are not to be found among any any other Egyptian literature–including the deceased figure dressed in ritual garments, the figure with raised hands, the crocodile and waters, and the sacrificial table being present.

CES Letter calls this a “funerary scene.” Not true. In the Egyptian context this is Osiris being resurrected, not an embalming, which is sometimes shown in a similar lion couch motif.

CES Letter incorrectly claims figure 3 is “not human,” but Anubis. Actually, this character was played by a human in Egyptian rituals who wore a mask of Anubis.

Argument From Ignorance CES Letter omits the fact that Osiris in this scene is a role symbolic for the deceased figure 4.

CES Letter omits that the serekh in figure 11 is a symbol for heaven, effectively a lie.

CES Letter incorrectly assumes the waters in figure 12 are just water for crocodiles to swim in.

CES Letter omits the fact that Anubis in figure 3 is played by a human priest in Egyptian rituals.

CES Letter claims this figure “Anubis is consistent in every funerary scene,” but this isn’t a funerary scene!

CES Letter says figures 5 through 9 are just “canopic jars containing the deceased’s internal organs. Actually, no. The four Sons of Horus portrayed here with these jars represent the deceased’s victory over death affecting the four directions of the world. Other lion couch scenes show in this location feathers, hieroglyphs, people–whatever aids in the resurrection of the deceased.

The explanations by CES Letter for the figures are very brief, avoiding the actual symbolism of the figures, while Joseph Smith’s are long and detailed. So who looks more like the con here, CES Letter or Joseph Smith?

Circular Argument CES Letter points out “Anubis is consistant in every funerary scene,” and they show examples of Anubis with a sarcophagus. But Facsimile 2 isn’t a scene with a sarcophagus, but with a moving person. Also, Anubis isn’t consistent here at all, as he stands between the moving deceased figure and the lion couch, which does not happen in any other lion couch scene in Egyptian literature. Interestingly, CES Letter locates this illogical argument not at the discussion of how the scene should be filled in but at the part where they discuss what the scene means, which falsely suggests that these figures are the same as these sarcophagus examples.
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.
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.
Repetition “Egyptologists and Modern Egyptology.” Same thing.
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.

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.

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 1 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 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 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.

Is The Source For The Book Of Abraham Totally Unrelated To Abraham?

“Egyptologists have found the source material for the Book of Abraham to be nothing more than a common pagan Egyptian funerary text for a deceased man named ‘Hor’ in 1st century CE. In other words, it was a common Breathing Permit that the Egyptians buried with their dead. It has absolutely nothing to do with Abraham or anything Joseph claimed in his translation for the Book of Abraham.” (CES Letter)

Not The Source – The recovered papyri fragments from Joseph Smith’s collection were not what Joseph Smith used to translate. Joseph Smith likely used the Amenhotep Scroll, which perished in the Chicago fire of 1871.

CES Letter incorrectly assumes that the few recovered fragments from Joseph Smith’s papyrus, which date to the first century AD, are the basis for the Book of Abraham. There were at least four scrolls, and witness descriptions of the Abraham scroll match with the so-called Amenhotep Scroll, which has not been recovered.

  • Witnesses described one of Joseph Smith’s Egyptian scrolls as black, with fragments that she pasted into a book. A few sheets of this scroll were pasted into a book. These pasted pages were apparently later put under glass, but the sheets under glass must not have been very large, as they had first come from pages of a book:

    “[Lucy Mack Smith] produced a black looking roll (which she told us was papyrus) found on the breast of the King, part of which the prophet had unrolled and read; and she had pasted the deciphered sheets on the leaves of a book which she showed us.”

    (1846, Friends’ Weekly Intelligencer)

    But witnesses described a different kind of scroll. After the black scroll, Lucy Smith “opened a long roll of manuscript, saying it was ‘the writing of Abraham and Isaac.'” This other scroll was the source of the Book of Abraham.

    Witnesses said there was “a number of glazed slides, like picture frames containing sheets of papyrus, with Egyptian inscriptions and hieroglypics.” The lengthy sheets of papyrus under glass could have come from the “long roll of manuscript” which “contained the Book of Abraham.”

    The recovered papyri we have today contain only a few tiny fragments on book-sized paper, with only 18 characters from the Hor Book of Breathings. But witnesses describe “entire sheets of parchment” under glass, totally different than what we have today:

    “From this he drew forth a number of glazed slides, like picture frames, containing sheets of papyrus, with Egyptian inscriptions and hieroglyphics. These had been unrolled from four mummies, which the prophet had purchased at a cost of twenty-four hundred dollars. By some inexplicable mode, as the storekeeper informed me, Mr. Smith had discovered that these sheets contained the writings of Abraham, written with his own hand while in Egypt.”

    (Henry Caswall, The City of the Mormons 1842)

    “Some parchments inscribed with hieroglyphics were then offered us. They were preserved under glass and handled with great respect. ‘That is the handwriting of Abraham, the Father of the Faithful,’ said the prophet.”

    (Josiah Quincy, Figures of the Past, 1883)

  • A witness says the source for the Book of Abraham contained red and black ink, in perfect preservation:

    “Upon the subject of the Egyptian records, or rather the writings of Abraham and Joseph… This record is beautifully written in papyrus with black, and a small part, red ink or paint, in perfect preservation.”

    But the Hor Book of Breathings fragments with the Facsimile 1 vignette contains no red ink. The only fragments we have with red ink come from the Tsemminis scroll, and these fragments contain no facsimiles, and is also poorly preserved. The only other option is the lost Amenhotep Scroll.

  • The fragments we have today include messy handwriting. They are in very poor preservation. But Oliver Cowdery described the Book of Abraham scrolls as beautifully written and in great preservation:

    “The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies, is beautifully written in papyrus with black, and a small part, red ink or paint, in perfect preservation.”

    William I. Appleby likewise made it clear in his journal account that multiple scrolls were in Joseph Smith’s collection and that there was significant difference between the quality of preservation in the scrolls.

  • Some of the writing on the Book of Abraham scroll appeared to be in Hebrew, Appleby said. Well, Joseph Smith had lessons in Hebrew so he should have been able to recognize it. Hebrew certainly looks very different than Egyptians hieroglyphics to anyone. The rediscovered fragments contain nothing that resembles Hebrew. The only other option is the lost Amenhotep Scroll.

    “Saw the Rolls of Papyrus and the writings thereon, taken from off the bosom of the Male Mummy, having some of the writings of ancient Abraham and of Joseph that was sold into Egypt. The writings are chiefly in the Egyptian language, with the exception of a little Hebrew. I believe they give a description of some of the scenes in Ancient Egypt, of their worship, their Idol gods, etc. The writings are beautiful and plain, composed of red, and black inks. There is a perceptible difference, between the writings. Joseph, appears to have been the best scribe.” (William I. Appleby Journal)

    This couldn’t be from the Book of Breathings roll on the chest of the Hor mummy. The other two mummies were female. So whose scroll was it? There was a second male mummy in Joseph Smith’s collection which contained the Amenhotep Roll, identified based on transcriptions in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers. These transcriptions are not decipherable as any known Egyptian text, and no fragments or sheets from this roll have been recovered.

Based on witness descriptions, the source of the Book of Abraham was the Amenhotep Roll, not the rediscovered papyri we have today. It probably was written with black and red ink, was in good preservation, contained some Hebrew, and contained large sheets from a lengthy scroll.

What About The Facsimile In Recovered Papyri? – This is the part of the discussion where a skeptic points out that Facsimile 1 appears in the recovered papyrus, and the recovered papyrus dates to the 1st century AD. So that must be the source, right? Well, there are several reasons why this couldn’t be the case.

  • 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.

Not A Common Funerary Document – I don’t know why anti-Mormons are shocked that the Facsimiles are Egyptian. They contain Egyptian writing. They were found with an Egyptian mummy, which Joseph never claimed was Abraham. Why wouldn’t they be Egyptian? In his explanation of the Facsimiles, Joseph even pointed out that Egyptian meaning was different than the Abraham context. In Facsimile 2, Joseph explained some figures:

“…also a numerical figure, in Egyptian… said by the Egyptians to be the Sun…”

Those are definitions that are exclusively Egyptian, not from the original Abraham context. This indicates that the Facsimiles were drawn for an Egyptian context but were based on much older illustrations that had to do with Abraham, which was what Joseph was concerned with.

So why would Facsimile 1 appear in the Egyptian Book of Breathings with an Egyptian context if it is an illustration of Abraham? Well, the original Facsimile in the Book of Breathings showed Abraham being saved by God from human sacrifice. The Egyptians used it in the Book of Breathings to show the dead mummy being prepared for resurrection–a very similar and sacred context.

The Book of Breathings is not just some common funerary document. The Book of Breathings is a condensed version of the Book of the Dead, which was a guide for the deceased to reach exaltation. It is one of the oldest religious writings in history, and it was one of the first Egyptian books to be translated into English, as it was greatly revered by 19th century Theosophists. It provided “spells” and direction for an initiate in the Egyptian temple to pass through the gates of heaven and achieve rejuvenation.

It is the Egyptian version of the Mormon endowment ceremony which we practice in the Mormon temple. Hugh Nibley details the similarities in his book Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment. He details now the Book of Breathings relates to Abraham. Yes, relationships to Abraham have been discovered.

Considering the Book of Abraham credits Abraham as the author of astronomy and religious elements of Egypt, it makes sense that the vignettes in this temple book descend from Abraham. It also makes sense that a transcription from some of Abraham’s text accompany this important book. Appleby clarified that the mummy only had “some of the writings” of Abraham. Maybe this Book of Breathings descended from another book of Abraham? Or maybe the Abraham text was on the same scroll as the Book of Breathings, in a part that didn’t survive the Chicago fire?

Possibly, but remember Appleby wrote that “a genealogy of the mummies, and the epitaphs and their deaths, etc., etc., are also distinctly represented on the Papyrus which is called the ‘Book of Abraham.'” Why would a scroll written by Abraham contain such funeral information about a totally different person? Joseph Smith never claimed that any of these mummies were the corpse of Abraham. Appleby’s account therefore confirms that Joseph Smith knew these were funeral documents, that the mummy was not Abraham himself, and that they were not the original Book of Abraham document. It also provides further evidence that the Book of Breathings scroll was not the Book of Abraham scroll. There is nothing on the recovered fragments, or in any other Book of Breathings scrolls in Egypt, that would appear to contain genealogy or epitaphs of mummies, even to those unfamiliar with Egyptian.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

False Dilema There are several possibilities that CES Letter doesn’t allow room for. One theory is that Joseph discerned some kind of cipher. Another theory is that he received inspiration for the text based on the scrolls and that the scrolls never actually contained the text. I think it is more likely that he simply used a different scroll.
Argument From Ignorance There is no way to know if the document that Joseph Smith used for the Book of Abraham text is the recovered fragment that dates to the 1st century AD. The document that perished in a Chicago fire is a much more likely candidate, according to witness descriptions.
Strawman Fallacy CES Letter downplays the Book of Breathing as just some common “Breathing Permit” or Pagan funerary text, but it was a lot more.
Guilt By Association CES Letter denies any relationship between the Book of Breathing and the Book of Abraham, but they definitely are related, as Hugh Nibley exhaustively pointed out. At the very least, a book about resurrection and exaltation in heaven is obviously related to the themes in the Book of Abraham.

CES Letter calls the papyrus “Pagan” to push their ridiculous black magic narrative. If it was Egyptian then obviously it was Pagan. There was no need for this dramatic language, except to further insinuate that Joseph Smith was into black magic.

Shifting Goalposts CES Letter tried to hard to find parallel themes between the Book of Mormon and 19th century books, to suggest the Book of Mormon derived from these books. But the glaringly obvious parallel between the Book of Breathing and the Book of Abraham are now ignored.
Repetition CES Letter repeats the phony “funerary document” narrative twice (p. 29, 44).

CES Letter repeats “common” within this same argument.

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.

It’s like those crazy anti-Mormons who criticize the pentagram star on the Nauvoo temple because ‘it is witchcraft and a symbol of evil’ which couldn’t possibly be interpreted as anything else. It was clever of CES Letter to set up this false dilemma in their previous argument by taking an idiom literally: “by his own hand.” The only way anti-Mormons can attack the Book of Abraham is to demand a word-for-word translation from this tiny fragment of papyrus and to call anything else a “hoax.” That is the Contradiction Strategy that CES Letter uses; they restrict the argument to a binary and squeeze out anything that doesn’t fit their narrow definitions.

Creating SuperstitionCES Letter reinforces their narrative that Mormons need science to validate every single detail of their faith. 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.

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 cherry-picked evidence to contradict the Book of Mormon. In this argument they cherry-pick papyrus fragments.

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 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.

Notice that instead of “1st century AD,” CES Letter says “1st century CE.” 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 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.

Does The Book Of Abraham Papyrus Date To The 1st Century A.D.?

“Despite Joseph’s claim that this record was written by Abraham ‘by his own hand, upon papyrus,’ scholars have found the original papyrus Joseph translated and have dated it in 1st century CE, nearly 2,000 years after Abraham could have written it.”

The idiom by his own hand means “as a result of one’s own actions.” Abraham wrote this book himself. We know there were multiple copies of this book made because variations of its stories and theology have been found all over the ancient world. This is the writing of Abraham, written by his own hand, but it is not the same pieces of paper he wrote it on. It was copyied by someone much later.

When we read Giddianhi say in the Book of Mormon, “Therefore I have written this epistle, sealing it with mine own hand,” do we assume Giddianhi chiseled his epistle into the gold plates? No, obviously Mormon copied it down.

Does any publisher today specify in the copyright page of an autobiography that “this is just a copy of the original transcript we received from the author?” Of course not! They say, “this was written by the actual person and not a ghostwriter,” because obviously the author did not sit down and type out every single copy of the book on a typewriter. Joseph Smith never claimed that the mummy that they found the scroll with was the body of Abraham: “Who these ancient inhabitants of Egypt are, we do not pretend to say.” So obviously he didn’t think that Abraham produced that specific copy of the book that was buried with the mummy.

The introduction to the Book of Abraham never claimed that the “ancient records” that they acquired were the specific scroll that Abraham first penned his story on. Why would you assume this if the mummy it was with was not Abraham, but an Egyptian? Instead, the introduction reads, “Translation of some ancient records” from Egypt; then, “the writings of Abraham… written by his own hand.” That’s it.

Source For Book Of Abraham Was DestroyedCES Letter incorrectly assumes that the few recovered fragments from Joseph Smith’s papyrus, which date to the first century AD, are the basis for the Book of Abraham. There were at least four scrolls, and witness descriptions of the Abraham scroll match with the so-called Amenhotep Scroll, which has not been recovered. Descriptions of ink color, scroll size, writing style, and state of preservation disqualify the other scrolls as matches.

The Amenhotep Scroll perished in the Chicago Fire along with most of the Egyptian collection, so we don’t know anything about it. Maybe it actually was the original copy of the Abraham book and it ended up with this Egyptian mummy, for some reason, and maybe it did actually date to Abraham’s time? We just don’t know.

Scripture Was Renewed By Copying – The ancient Hebrew custom of copying important religious books was considered a “renewal” rather than just creating a copy. Each time a priest preached from the Torah, it was done in a “covenant renewal ceremony.” But the act of actually reproducing the Torah, called sefer Torah, was likewise done in a sacred ceremony and considered “a personal renewal” that kept the book alive. Handwritten texts are considered the most sacred.

It was therefore important and fitting for Joseph Smith to specify that this book was written by the prophet Abraham, and it was his book.

Dr. Hugh Nibley explained:

“…when a holy book (usually a leather roll) grew old and worn out from handling, it was not destroyed but renewed. Important writings were immortal—for the Egyptians they were ‘the divine words,’ for the Jews the very letters were holy and indestructible, being the word of God. The wearing out of a particular copy of scripture therefore in no way brought the life of the book to a close—it could not perish. In Egypt it was simply renewed (ma.w, sma.w) “fairer than before,” and so continued its life to the next renewal. Thus we are told at the beginning of what some have claimed to be the oldest writing in the world [the Shabako Stone], ‘His Majesty wrote this book down anew. . . . His Majesty discovered it as a work of the Ancestors, but eaten by worms. . . . So His Majesty wrote it down from the beginning, so that it is more beautiful than it was before.’ It is not a case of the old book’s being replaced by a new one, but of the original book itself continuing its existence in a rejuvenated state. No people were more hypnotized by the idea of a renewal of lives than the Egyptians—not a succession of lives or a line of descent, but the actual revival and rejuvenation of a single life.

…An Egyptian document, J. Spiegel observes, is like the print of an etching, which is not only a work of art in its own right but “can lay claim equally well to being the original . . . regardless of whether the individual copies turn out well or ill.” Because he thinks in terms of types, according to Spiegel, for the Egyptian “there is no essential difference between an original and a copy. For as they understand it, all pictures are but reproductions of an ideal original.” . . . This concept was equally at home in Israel. An interesting passage from the Book of Jubilees [a text unknown before 1850] recounts that Joseph while living in Egypt “remembered the Lord and the words which Jacob, his father, used to read from amongst the words of Abraham.” Here is a clear statement that “the words of Abraham” were handed down in written form from generation to generation, and were the subject of serious study in the family circle. The same source informs us that when Israel died and was buried in Canaan, “he gave all his books and the books of his fathers to Levi his son that he might preserve them and renew them for his children until this day.” Here “the books of the fathers” including “the words of Abraham” have been preserved for later generations by a process of renewal.

…The noble who has writing or carving done is always given full credit for its actual execution; such claims of zealous craftsmanship “have loftily ignored the artist,” writes Wilson. “It was the noble who ‘made’ or ‘decorated’ his tomb,” though one noble of the Old Kingdom breaks down enough to show us how these claims were understood: “I made this for my old father. . . . I had the sculptor Itju make (it).” Dr. Wilson cites a number of cases in which men claim to have “made” their father’s tombs, one of them specifically stating that he did so “while his arm was still strong”—with his own hand!

Credit for actually writing the inscription of the famous Metternich Stele is claimed by “the prophetess of Nebwen, Nest-Amun, daughter of the Prophet of Nebwen and Scribe of the Inundation, ‘Ankh-Psametik,'” who states that she “renewed (sma.w) this book [there it is again!] after she had found it removed from the house of Osiris-Mnevis, so that her name might be preserved.” The inscription then shifts to the masculine gender as if the scribe were really a man, leading to considerable dispute among the experts as to just who gets the credit. Certain it is that the Lady boasts of having given an ancient book a new lease on life, even though her hand may never have touched a pen.

…Nest-Amun hoped to preserve her name by attaching it to a book, and in a very recent study M. A. Korostovstev notes that “for an Egyptian to attach his name to a written work was an infallible means of passing it down through the centuries.” That may be one reason why Abraham chose the peculiar Egyptian medium he did for the transmission of his record—or at least why it has reached us only in this form. Indeed Theodor Böhl observed recently that the one chance the original Patriarchal literature would ever have of surviving would be to have it written down on Egyptian papyrus.” (Hugh Nibley, Abraham in Egypt (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981), 4–7 via FairMormon)

What About The Facsimile In Recovered Papyri? – This is the part of the discussion where a skeptic points out that Facsimile 1 appears in the recovered papyrus, so that must be the source. Well, there are several reasons why this couldn’t be the case.

  • 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.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Argument From Ignorance There is no way to know if the document that Joseph Smith used for the Book of Abraham text is the recovered fragment that dates to the 1st century AD. The document that perished in a Chicago fire is a much more likely candidate, according to witness descriptions.
Strawman Fallacy CES Letter takes an idiom, “by his own hand,” literally and ignores all historical context. He didn’t mean that this was the specific piece of paper that Abraham wrote on, otherwise he would have said “the papyrus of Abraham” rather than “the writing of Abraham.” There is a comma between “written by his own hand” and “upon papyrus.” This is writing from Abraham and it appears on a papyrus.
Guilt By Association Even if Joseph Smith did incorrectly think this was the piece of paper that Abraham wrote on himself, this introduction is not actually part of the translation. It is just some explanation added by Joseph Smith, so that would mean he simply made a false assumption. He wasn’t perfect. he wasn’t a wizard. The translation itself is still correct.
Repetition CES Letter repeats this argument four more times in their pdf (p. 24#2, 29#5, 29#6, 44).
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 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. 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.

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 cherry-picked evidence to contradict the Book of Mormon. It is funny that in this argument CES Letter cherry-picks an idiom and takes it literally to try to point out a contradiction. This is like a little kid screaming, “You said it would take just a second!” This shows just how flimsy the anti-Mormon narrative is. This is their evidence for the Big Lie which snowballs into all the other arguments against the Book of Abraham.

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 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.

Notice that instead of “1st century AD,” CES Letter says “1st century CE.” 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 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.

Are There Multiple Contradicting Accounts Of Joseph Smith’s First Vision?

“There are at least 4 different First Vision accounts by Joseph Smith… No one – including Joseph Smith’s family members and the Saints – had ever heard about the First Vision for twelve to twenty-two years after it supposedly occurred. The first and earliest written account of the First Vision in Joseph Smith’s journal was written 12 years after the spring of 1820. There is absolutely no record of a First Vision prior to 1832.” (CES Letter)

Yes, actually the First Vision was talked about prior to 1832. In 1829, reference to it was made in D&C 20:5, though very little detail was given. The question is why didn’t Joseph Smith write a full “official” account with many details until years later?

Too Controversial – Well, if you read the official account you will know why. It was incredibly controversial, and people were trying to kill Joseph Smith as it was. The First Vision meant:

  • All the other churches were wrong & influenced by Satan
  • All other preachers & pastors were not chosen by God
  • God the Father is a separate person than Jesus
  • God is a physical being

Young Joseph Smith kept quiet about these particular details so as to not ruffle any more feathers. He didn’t want to stir up more trouble by telling people God would rather choose a young boy than a well-learned pastor. After all, the First Vision was not mentioned in any non-Mormon writings until 1843, a full 10 years after the first proof of Mormon writing that mentions it. They apparently did not find it important enough to talk about.

If these anti-Mormons and apostates had known more about these four aspects of the First Vision, would they have complained about it? You bet! Would they have acted more violent against young Joseph Smith? Yes! So we can be sure Joseph Smith suppressed the more controversial claims of his First Vision and told only those he could trust. This is probably why Joseph Smith said: “many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.”

Why Would There Be Only One Account? – When a person has a special spiritual experience like this, his first thought is not to write it down in an official account. Especially a young teenager with a third grade education. Why would he immediately publish an official account?

That’s what a hoaxer would have done. A hoaxer would write down an account and then make sure to stick by it as they tell people about the made-up experience. They would spread it far and wide in the newspapers and emphasize the most controversial aspects. That’s what others who claimed to have visions in New England did, after all. But instead, Joseph Smith told others and it was these other people who wrote the accounts. In fact, the First Vision was one of the first things written about in the church at all, as the Book of Mormon was not published until 1830.

Why wouldn’t there be multiple accounts over the years as he tells different people about it? Why would he immediately publish an “official” account? Why would Joseph Smith’s first description of the vision be in his personal journal which nobody read if it was a hoax?

Different Details Mentioned At Different Times – Accounts mention or omit different details, but this is what you would expect. When you ask your grandpa about war stories, does he tell the exact same stories with the exact same details each time, as if he is reading off a script? If he does, I would question whether those stories are actually true, because it is the tendency of a hoaxer to stick by a scrip. A person whose story is true tends to mention different details at different times.

Initially Dismissed By Others – According to Joseph Smith’s journal, he told people about the First Vision but they thought it was the product of a wild imagination, as he was a young teenager, and that is why he stopped talking about it. Think about it, when you were 14 years old, if you had an incredible experience that was so important and so personal, would you go out telling everybody about it? Would you continue to tell everybody about it if their response was that you were crazy and they got angry and violent towards you?

First Vision Accounts

Joseph Smith wrote or oversaw the writing of four accounts. All other accounts were written by others. I could find a bunch of second-hand accounts. Here are the most important from Joseph Smith and others:

Milo Andrus, 1853 (Joseph told him in 1833)

“I was a boy, first nineteen years of age, when I heard the testimony of that man, Joseph Smith, that [an] angel came and that glory [shone] and [the] trees seemed to be consumed in [a] blaze and he was there entrusted with this information: that darkness covered the earth, that the great mass of [the] Christian world [was] universally wrong [and] their creeds [were] all upon [an] uncertain foundation. “Now as young as you are,” [he was told], “I call upon you from this obscurity: go forth and build up my kingdom on the earth.”

The principle that other churches were influenced by Satan is euphemistically explained as “the great mass of” Christianity being built on “uncertain foundation.” Rather than a vision of the godhead, he mentions an angel. If this were the result of a shifting narrative, Milo would have changed his story about an angel to be in line with the “official” account, but instead he understood that there were angels and the Lord in the vision.

John Alger (via Charles Lowell Walker, 1893)

“Br John Alger said while speaking of the Prophet Joseph, that when he, John, was a small boy he heard the Prophet Joseph relate his vision of seeing The Father and the Son, That God touched his eyes with his finger and said “Jospeh this is my beloved Son hear him.” As soon as the Lord had touched his eyes with his finger he immediately saw the Savior. After meeting, a few of us questioned him about the matter and he told us at the bottom of the meeting house steps that he was in the House of Father Smith in Kirtland when Joseph made this declaration, and that Joseph while speaking of it put his finger to his right eye, suiting the action with the words so as to illustrate and at the same time impress the occurence on the minds of those unto whom He was speaking.”

John Alger was born in 1820 and baptized in 1832, so this account, if true, probably happened prior to 1832. It confirmed Joseph talked about very early on the duality of God the Father and the Son appearing to him, before 1832.

Joseph Smith (1835)

“I commenced and gave him a brief relation of my experience while in my juvenile years, say from 6 years old up to the time I received the first visitation of Angels which was when I was about 14.”

Joseph said he was about 14 years old and refered to the First Vision as a visitation of angels.

Joseph Smith (1835)

“I commenced giving him a relation of the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the book of Mormon, as follows being wrought up in my mind, respecting the subject of religion and looking at the different systems taught the children of men, I knew not who was right or who was wrong… I called on the Lord in mighty prayer, a pillar of fire appeared above my head, it presently rested down upon me head, and filled me with Joy unspeakable, a personage appeard in the midst of this pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testified unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and I saw many angels in this vision I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication.”

Two personages appeared in a pillar of light (fire) and confirmed to him that Jesus is the Son of God. He mentioned a host of angels. Earlier in this quote, Joseph Smith confirmed that he was influenced by the scripture James 1:5 to pray about which church “was right or who was wrong.” He mentioned being paralyzed by the influence of Satan when he started praying in the grove.

Joseph Smith (1832, text italics is Joseph Smith’s handwriting–the rest is Frederick G. Williams)

At about the age of twelve years my mind become seriously imprest with regard to the all importent concerns of for the wellfare of my immortal Soul which led me to searching the scriptures… my intimate acquaintance with those of different denominations led me to marvel excedingly for I discovered that they did not [adorn instead] of adorn[ing] their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation agreeable to what I found contained in that sacred depository this was a grief to my Soul thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the sittuation of the world of mankind the contentions and divi[si]ons the wicke[d]ness and abominations and the darkness which pervaded the [of the] minds of mankind my mind become excedingly distressed for I become convicted of my sins and by searching the scriptures I found that [mand] mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament and I felt to mourn for my own sins and for the sins of the world for I learned in the scriptures that God was the same yesterday to day and forever that he was no respecter to persons… in the 16th year of my age a piller of [fire] light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph my son thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy way walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life behold the world lieth in Sin [and] at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside from the gospel and keep not my commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to th[e]ir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which hath been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Ap[o]stles behold and lo I come quickly as it [is] written of me in the cloud clothed in the glory of my Father and my soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great Joy and the Lord was with me but [I] could find none that would believe the hevnly vision nevertheless I pondered these things in my heart about that time my mother and but after many days.”

Joseph Smith explains in length that he prayed both about the welfare of his soul and to know which religious denomination was true, because he saw so much wickedness among them. The Lord appeared to him. He didn’t talk to others about the vision much in those early years because he couldn’t find anyone who would believe him.

Here is the only actual discrepancy among all the First Vision accounts. In this quote is the claim that Joseph Smith was 15 years old when he prayed (16th year of age). All the other accounts say 14 years old. Why this discrepancy? Because part was added later by Frederick G. Williams, not Joseph Smith. Apparently he got mixed up over the exact date.

The mention of “many angels” was written in later as well because this account was delivered in the context of Joseph Smith’s “first visitation of angels.” Most of these First Vision accounts were given to explain events that led up to the Book of Mormon. He emphasized the angels because it was angels that later told him about the gold plates and helped him translate them.

Joseph Smith (1838)

“I was at this time in my fifteenth year… While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him… I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak… I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!… I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt… He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.”

No mention of a host of angels this time, which makes sense because the purpose of this account was not to explain the coming of the Book of Mormon, but to explain the “rise and progress of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Still, notice he says, “many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.” As in… this account and other accounts do not give every single detail of what happened!

The Bible Is The Same Way – There are a lot of similarities between the lives of Jesus and Joseph Smith. Jesus lived in a time when all kinds of people were claiming to be the Messiah. Joseph Smith lived in a time when multiple people in New England were claiming to have visions of the Lord. The accounts of Jesus were written by others and compiled into the bible. The accounts of Joseph Smith were always written by other people as well. The four gospels were each written by different people at a much later date, and included different details of the events, exactly like the First Vision accounts.

CES Letter complains that they were “never taught or trained in the Missionary Training Center” about the multiple First Vision accounts. Well, maybe that is because anyone with brain cells can assume that a person talks about their experience more than once? Why would anyone assume that the 1838 “official” version is the only mention of it? How tiny was your critical thinking level to assume that Joseph Smith never recounted the First Vision except that one time?

CES Letter points out some details that were mentioned at different times and pretends like these are discrepancies. But two of the accounts they point to were given by Joseph Smith just five days apart! Are you telling me Joseph Smith made major shifts in his story in only five days (Nov.9 to Nov. 14)? The truth is there is remarkable consistency in Joseph Smith’s story in every account, consistent with someone who is recounting a true event. It is illogical to expect the same exact account with the same exact details every time.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood The claim that Joseph Smith did not talk to anyone about the First Vision before 1823 is demonstrably false.

The claims in CES Letter‘s chart about the First Vision accounts are riddled with falsehoods. The 1832 account does mention a pillar of fire–“fire” is crossed out and replaced with “light.” The Nov. 9 1835 account mentions a host of angels, not one angelic being. The Nov. 14 1835 account does not mention a host of angels, but makes a quick reference Joseph’s “first visitation of Angels.” It is a quick one-sentence statement, so it is no surprise that many other details are not included. The 1838 “official version” mentions a pillar of light, which is reasonably the same thing as a pillar of fire. CES Letter separates the “2 personages” from God the Father and Jesus Christ, and they fabricate the angelic being in order to incorrectly imply discrepancies.

CES Letter incorrectly claims the “1832 account states Joseph was 15 years old when he had the vision in 1821.” Actually, this was penciled in by Fredrick G. Williams later and was not written “by Joseph Smith.” It also never says he had the vision in 1821.

Repetition CES Letter repeats their First Vision argument eight more times in their pdf (p. 19, 35, 45, 49, 71, 76, 76, 81).

CES Letter repeats several claims within this First Vision argument to make the phony claims appear more credible, and repeats them again in a chart.

  • “No one – including Joseph Smith’s family members and the Saints – had ever heard about the First Vision for twelve to twenty-two years after it supposedly occurred…The first and earliest written account of the First Vision in Joseph Smith’s journal was written 12 years after the spring of 1820… There is absolutely no record of a First Vision prior to 1832… the Church members didn’t know about a First Vision until 22 years after it supposedly happened.”
  • “There are at least 4 different First Vision accounts [list of four accounts]… I did not know there were multiple First Vision accounts.” Then CES Letter posts a chart comparing four accounts.”
  • “first and earliest”
Non Sequiter If people write about something several times, does that mean there are differing conflicting accounts? How does the fact that Joseph Smith didn’t write about it for a while mean that he didn’t talk to anyone about it?
Cherry-picking CES Letter picks out a small handful of details that are mentioned or not mentioned in a few accounts to imply contradiction.
False Dilemma CES Letter says of these details: “They can’t all be correct together as they conflict with one another.” Actually yes, they can. Angels could have appeared to Joseph Smith as well as God the Father and Jesus Christ together, and he could have mentioned only some of them in various accounts. An angel appearance to a person does not mean God can’t appear along with the angel.

Even if it were “angel” instead of God the Father or Jesus, Christians references Jesus as an angel all the time. The Septugint of Isaiah 9:6, refers to Christ as the “messenger of great counsel.” Eusebius called Christ “the first and only begotten of God; the commander-in-chief of the spiritual and immortal host of heaven; the angel of mighty counsel; the agent of the ineffable purpose of the Father.” The Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah said Christ “made himself like the angels of the air, that he was like one of them.” In The Epistula Apostolorum, Christ said: “I became like an angel to the angels…I myself was a servant for myself, and in the form of the image of an angel; so will I do after I have gone to my Father.” D&C 93:8 refers to Christ as “the messenger,” and Joseph Smith said after Christ’s resurrection he”appeared as an angel to His disciples.” John Taylor equates Jesus with an angel in the First Vision:

“None of them was right, just as it was when the Prophet Joseph asked the angel which of the sects was right that he might join it. The answer was that none of them are right… When the Father and the Son and Moroni and others came to Joseph Smith, he had a priesthood conferred upon him which he conferred upon others…”

In their chart, CES Letter replaces the painting of God and Jesus in front of Joseph Smith with a host of angels, with an angel in a pillar of fire, or with just Jesus. Either one or the other.

CES Letter complains that in the 1832 account, Joseph Smith “said that before praying he knew that there was no true or living faith or denomination upon the earth as built by Jesus Christ in the New Testament.” CES Letter says this contradicts the “official” 1838 account which says, “at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong.” Actually, what the 1832 account said (via Fredrick G. Willaims) was, “by searching the scriptures I found that there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament.” He didn’t say “true” or “living” or “as built by Jesus Christ.” He said “built upon the gospel.” Is a sect or denomination necessarily wrong if it is not built upon the gospel? Well, that’s what he was praying to find out.

CES Letter says “his primary purpose in going to prayer was to seek forgiveness of his sins,” in the 1832 account. Actually, he made it clear that his purpose was to pray about his own sins, “if the bible be true,” and to find out which church to join.

Shifting Goalposts In their previous argument about the rock in the hat, CES Letter pieced together details out of various accounts to set a narrative of a Urim and Thummim as well as seer stones in translating the gold plates. But this time, CES Letter does not allow the possibility of various accounts giving various pieces–either it was a host of angels, with an angel in a pillar of fire, or just Jesus appearing to Joseph. Either he prayed for forgiveness or he prayed to know which church to join.
Circular Logic We know Joseph Smith made it up because there are all multiple accounts, and there are all these varying multiple accounts because he made it up.

We know Joseph changed his view of the godhead because his story of the First Vision changed, and his story of the First Vision changed because his view of the godhead changed.

Red Herring CES Letter complains: “I was unaware of these omissions in the mission field as I was never taught or trained in the Missionary Training Center to teach investigators these facts.” What does CES Letter‘s failure to read church history and look up information for himself have to do with anything?
Big Lie TacticCES Letter references both the changing godhead argument and the rock and hat argument as a basis for their claims. This sets a narrative that the church changes its beliefs and hides true history from the people. Previous arguments set about to show this true history and explain how Joseph Smith really produced the Book of Mormon. These arguments now become more believable as they make the case that the foundational event, the First Vision, has been altered over time as well. The “treasure hunting” narrative becomes more sinister as we find out that the story changes to whatever it needs to be, and the truth is that there were no spiritual visions at all.

Of course, this is classic projection. The alternative to the Mormon and Christian ideology is a Social Justice ideology that changes the truth to whatever the narrative needs to be at the moment. Each argument that builds on the other is just bogus, and they still don’t go about explaining how Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon. It was a master plagiarism job that ripped off random books from England? It was dictated from his head in a hat?

Each argument follows the same logical fallacies. CES Letter cherry-picks a few details that weren’t mentioned in various accounts, and rakes Joseph Smith over the coals for a couple slips of memory. “The historical record shows that there was no revival in Palmyra in 1820. There was one in 1817 and there was another in 1824.” Really? Revivals can’t last longer than a year? Is there some time limit for religious revivals that I don’t know about. “There are records from his brother, William Smith, and his mother Lucy Mack Smith, both stating that the family joined Presbyterianism after Alvin’s death in November 1823 despite Joseph Smith claiming in the official 1838 account that they joined in 1820.” You are going to rake a middle-aged man over the coals for getting the date of a childhood event off by two or three years? An event from his early teenage years? He didn’t exactly have an iphone that he could go back and check the date. If Mormons were changing history to cover something up, wouldn’t Lucy Mack Smith and William have changed their story to fit in line with the “official” account? No, the truth is it is remarkable and convincing how consistent–yet not too consistent–the various First Vision accounts are.

The First Vision argument is hokey, but it is circular logic. The point is to boost the Big Lie and reaffirm the anti-Mormon narrative to those who already suspect that it is a hoax. The same argument is frequently used for the bible’s four gospels. Anti-Christians ignore the different authors and different contexts and reasons for writing their accounts. They cherry-pick a few details that were either not mentioned in some other account or described a little differently. For example, compare Matt. 27:37, Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38, John 19:19. Actually, the existence of multiple gospels is important evidence of its truth. “By the mouths of two or three witnesses.” The consistency and manner of delivering both the four gospels and the First Vision suggest they weren’t hoaxes.

Contradiction Strategy – The surrounding arguments for obscure books that allegedly influenced the Book of Mormon no longer seem very clownish now. The attack on faith and promotion of fake science gains considerable strength with this narrative in place, and the explanation for how Joseph Smith fabricated it suddenly appears more credible.

One thing nobody mentions is that Joseph Smith was only a child, a 14-year old boy, when he had the first vision. The implications certainly did not become evident until he was a man. Like Jesus’s early years, he had some growing up to do. If he were making it up, why didn’t he claim a vision in 1829 when he started work on the Book of Mormon? Why did he claim it happened years ago instead?

The human mind is trained to find patterns. It is easy to cherry-pick a few vague differences, dress up the context to sound more different, and build a narrative that one thing contradicts the other. It is especially effective for CES Letter to play this game immediately following arguments where they throw out vague similarities between two books and suggest one book was derived from the other, and similarities between the stories of Joseph “treasure hunting” and the gold plates. At this point in their document, our brain is eagerly looking for clues to piece together. We look at these stories of ‘treasure hunts’ and attach them to the gold plates. We look at the stories of ‘stones in a hat’ and attach them to the translation of the gold plates. Our brain is telling us there is no way the gold plates story couldn’t be derived from the teenage treasure hunting years. There is no way the first vision accounts couldn’t be contradictory.

This is the same argument that Leftists use against the bible and all the other prophets. 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 human figures on Mars. It is confirmation bias.

When it comes to history, there is so much we don’t know and will never know. In this case, all we have are some angry statements from anti-Mormons and some second or third hand quotes from witnesses. Fools jump to conclusions.We must be careful not to be tricked when it comes to pareidolia and history, take care to use critical thought. If there is vague evidence for something but we mostly don’t know what really happened because it is history, do not jump to lazy conclusions, whatever narrative is hyped on South Park. 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 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 of finding contradiction 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. CES Letter never explains why Joseph Smith switched stories or how he came up with the deep theology and meanings of his vision.

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.

CES Letter starts with a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“Our whole strength rests on the validity of that [First] vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens.”

Authoritarianism – Usually, anti-Mormons set the narrative that Joseph Smith ripped the First Vision off other stories of visions in New England. I’m a little suprise that CES Letter didn’t pick this low-hanging fruit. But I guess CES Letter just got done switching the narrative to inspiration from black magic, and it would be too ridiculous to switch it back to the narrative that he ripped a few details from various random other places. But that’s the route other anti-Mormons often take. With followers of Satan, after all, the narrative and truth can shift to whatever narrative it needs to be in the moment.

CES Letter does not appear to be upset about alleged contradictions so much as they weren’t taught in the MTC a simple, concise message of what to teach and think. It is all so complicated when you have to research and find truth on your own! Followers of Satan want a slogan or short phrase that they can simply shout and replace when they need to, such as “Equality now” or “Love Trump’s hate.” Slogans don’t really tell you anything, but they generalize and are easy to follow if you are mindless. CES Letter is outraged that they were expected to research, study, ponder, pray, and find truth for themselves–to exercise personal agency. They don’t want to have to think for themselves and lead their own faith pursuits.

Satan, take the wheel!

Did Joseph Smith Translate The Book Of Mormon With A Rock In A Hat?

“Joseph Smith used a rock in a hat for translating the Book of Mormon.

In other words, he used the same ‘Ouija Board’ that he used in his days treasure hunting where he would put in a rock – or a peep stone – in his hat and put his face in the hat to tell his customers the location of buried treasure. He used the exact same method while the gold plates were covered or put in another room or buried in the woods during translating the Book of Mormon… Why is the Church not being honest and transparent to its members about how Joseph Smith really translated the Book of Mormon? How am I supposed to be okay with this deception?” (CES Letter)

How did Joseph Smith dictate such a magnificent book from his head in a hat? How is that possible? On the other hand, if the rock and hat story is made up, why make up such a ridiculous story and expose his “treasure hunting” history?

Joseph Smith used ‘Ouija Board’ magic? Really, magic? Is that their theory as scholars and scientists? No, either:

  • Joseph Smith really was inspired with his head in a hat
  • Joseph Smith made up this ridiculous story and exposed his “treasure hunting” history
  • The story was made up by others
RLDS Hoax – All references to a rock in a hat begin in 1886 from a splinter group from the Mormon church. They all started around the same time in the 1870’s, and they appear to be based on an easily disprovable claim by anti-Mormon Willard Chase in 1842. There was no mention of it from any half-credible witness until almost fifty years after the Book of Mormon was published.

With each of the “seer stone in a hat” quotes, they come from modern unreliable sources, and only a few of them specify that the rock was different than the Urim and Thummim. Every quote that makes a distinction between the seer stone and the Urim and Thummim is totally unreliable. The others talk about a “stone in a hat,” but this could be a reference to the Urim and Thumim–a set of “spectacles” that the angel gave Joseph Smith along with the plates to translate them. The spectacles included two white stones.

Claims that Joseph Smith used a seer stone:

David Whitmer (via Richard van Wagoner, via Zenas H. Gurley), 1982

“[H]e used a stone called a “Seers stone,” the “Interpreters” having been taken away from him because of transgression. The “Interpreters” were taken from Joseph after he allowed Martin Harris to carry away the 116 pages of [the manuscript] of the Book of Mormon as a punishment, but he was allowed to go on and translate by use of a “Seers stone” which he had, and which he placed in a hat into which he buried his face, stating to me and others that the original character appeared upon parchment and under it the translation in English.” (Joseph Smith: ‘The Gift of Seeing’)

 
 
fourth-hand modern quote from a non-LDS source
 
– (Details of claim: Seer stone is different than Urim and Thummim, seer stone was always used after the 116 pages, seer stone was used in a hat)
Oliver Cowdery 1839 (forgery by R.B. Neal, 1906)

“I have sometimes had seasons of skepticism, in which I did seriously wonder whether the Prophet and I were men in our sober senses, when he would be translating from plates, through “the Urim and Thummim” and the plates not be in sight at all.

But I believed in both the Seer and the “Seer stone,” and what the First Elder announced as revelation from God, I accepted as such, and committed to paper with a glad mind and happy heart and swift pen; for I believed him to be the soul of honor and truth, a young man who would die before he would lie.”

 
 
Proven forged quote
 
– (Details of claim: Seer stone is different than Urim and Thummim, used seer stone)
David Whitmer, 1887

“Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. [Page 175]One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man .” (An Address to All Believers in Christ)

 
 
– The beginning of Whitmer’s book states its purpose to convince LDS to denounce polygmy and join the splinter group RLDS, that Joseph Smith was “drifting into errors after translating the Book of Mormon.”
 
– Given one year before David Whitmer’s death, edited & published by non-LDS
 
– (Details of claim: Used stone in hat)
Emma Smith Bigamon 1879

“In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.”

 
 
– Quoted soon before her death
 
– Preceding chapter denies polygamy, for which there is plenty of evidence
 
Second-hand non-LDS source
 
– (Details of claim: Used stone in hat)
Emma Smith Bidamon (via Emma Pilgrim), 1981

“Now the first that my translated, [the book] was translated by use of the Urim, and Thummim, and that was the part that Martin Harris lost, after that he used a small stone, not exactly, black, but was rather a dark color.”

 
 
– Source is the wife of a pastor for the RLDS splinter group
 
– The first mention of this quote is fourth-hand from the 1981 “The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal.” There is no evidence that the 1870 source, a letter, actually exists.
 
– (Details of claim: Seer stone is different than Urim and Thummim, seer stone was always used after the 116 pages, seer stone was used in a hat)
Martin Harris (via Edward Stevenson), 1881

“…that the Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seer stone.”

 
 
– Edward Stevenson was quoting the Evening News newspaper September 5, 1870 by an unknown author
 
-This quote refers to “an incident,” a singular time he he used the seer stone, instead of what the other quotes claim
 
-Third-hand, unknown source 50 years after Joseph Smith’s translation
 
– (Details of claim: Seer stone is different than Urim and Thummim, used the seer stone at least once)
Kenneth W. Godfrey, 1988

“From April 12 to June 14, Joseph translated while Martin wrote, with only a curtain between them. On occasion they took breaks from the arduous task, sometimes going to the river and throwing stones. Once Martin found a rock closely resembling the seer stone Joseph sometimes used in place of the interpreters and substituted it without the Prophet’s knowledge. When the translation resumed, Joseph paused for a long time and then exclaimed, “Martin, what is the matter, all is as dark as Egypt.” Martin then confessed that he wished to “stop the mouths of fools” who told him that the Prophet memorized sentences and merely repeated them.”

 
 
-Written in 1988. The source link to lds.org is now broken. Totally unreliable quote.
 
– (Details of claim: Seer stone is different than Urim and Thummim, used the seer stone at least once)
J.L. Traughber Jr., 1879

“With the sanction of David Whitmer, and by his authority, I now state that he does not say that Joseph Smith ever translated in his presence by aid of Urim and Thummim; but by means of one dark colored, opaque stone, called a “Seer Stone,” which was placed in the crown of a hat, into which Joseph put his face, so as to exclude the external light. Then, a spiritual light would shine forth, and parchment would appear before Joseph, upon which was a line of characters from the plates, and under it, the translation in English; at least, so Joseph said.”

 
 
– Non-LDS source
 
– Contradicts other quotes
 
– (Details of claim: Seer stone is different than Urim and Thummim, always used the seer stone)
David Whitmer (via Chicago Inter-Ocean, via The Saints Herald) 1886
“By fervent prayer and by otherwise humbling himself, the prophet, however, again found favor, and was presented with a strange oval-shaped, chocolate-colored stone, about the size of an egg, only more flat, which, it was promised, should serve the same purpose as the missing urim and thummim (the latter was a pair of transparent stones set in a bow-shaped frame and very much resembled a pair of spectacles). With this stone all of the present Book of Mormon was translated.” – Fourth-hand non-LDS source, an unknown reporter in Chicago
 
– Contradicts other quotes
 
-Allegedly given on David Whitmer’s deathbed
 
– (Details of claim: Seer stone is different than Urim and Thummim, given by an angel, always used the seer stone)
  • The rock and hat hoax made a resurgence again in the 1980’s, when RLDS published alleged quotes from early Mormon sources. Most notable is David Whitmer’s quote that the Urim and Thummim “interpreters” were taken away by an angel after Joseph Smith lost the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon. The “seer stones” mentioned in most other quotes could possibly refer to the two white stones in the Urim and Thummim, but this quote draws a clear distinction between them and the “treasure hunting” rock that Joseph Smith supposedly used.
     
    The problem is that this quote is that it is a modern creation. The LDS scholarly journal Mormon Interpreter incorrectly attributes this to David Whitmer’s 1887 book. But actually it comes from a 1982 book by Richard van Wagoner and Steven Walker. Wagoner gets the quote from apostate RLDS apostle Zenas H. Gurley, who claims to get the quote from David Whitmer. Why did it take fifty years for Zenas Gurley to mention what David Whitmer said? Why did it take a century for Richard van Wagoner to mention what Zenas Gurley said? Why can’t we see the original David Whitmer document? Where is it?/li>

  • LDS scholars and anti-Mormons accept the second-hand quote attributed to Emma Smith, yet do not accept the paragraph immediately preceding it which denies polygamy in the early church. Why accept one part of what she said but deny the other? Why not consider the part opening of David Whitmer’s book that states its purpose was to convince people that Joseph Smith was a fallen prophet?
  • The quotes contradict one another. Sometimes he used the stone… he always used the stone… he used it once… he used it for “convenience…” he used it because the Urim and Thumim got taken away, etc.
  • Many of these quotes are attributed to David Whitmer. How did David Whitmer know how to describe the spectacles if they were taken away before he started helping with the translation? David Whitmer entered the translation process after the 116 pages were lost. So then why does he provide a detailed description of them immediately before the Inter-Ocean quote? Why does the quote attributed to David Whitmer claim an angel gave the seer stone to him to translate the plates?
  • The phony quote from Martin Harris claims Joseph Smith used the seer stone for “convenience,” but how is it convenient to stick your head in a hat so that no light shines through around the edges? What made the seer stone more convenient? Why would Moroni provide spectacles already set up to wear on the head if looking at some random rock with very dim lighting is somehow more convenient? Furthermore, the seer stone was reportedly used to help find things. How would a stone used for this purpose help translate ancient writing? The narrative is totally inconsistent.
  • There is admittedly one similarity between the “treasure hunting” seer stone and the Urim and Thumim: they both used rocks. The Urim and Thumim used two round white rocks in a silver frame around the head, like glasses. The alleged seer stone was used by looking into it as well. This is probably where the mix-up came from and why so many early sources talk about “stones” without mentioning the spectacles they were within. Some people just naturally equated the two. But the differences are very important:
    • The Urim and Thumim was used for spiritual purposes only. The seer stone was used for physical objects. There is some evidence that Joseph Smith indeed used a seer stone as a teenager to look for things, but there is no evidence that he ever used it for spiritual purposes.
    • The Urim and Thumim was given by an angel. The seer stone was found somewhere.
    • The Urim and Thumim was passed down by many prophets over thousands and thousands of years. The seer stone didn’t work when anyone else tried to use it.
    • The Urim and Thumim was ued to translate languages. The seer stone was used to find stuff and locate a silver mine.
  • The “rock and hat” quotes come from the RLDS splinter group, beginning in the late 19th century, 50 years after the book of Mormon. The anti-Mormon narrative is that Joseph Smith made up a story about seer stones because he was already using these stones to hunt for treasure, and that’s what everyone was used to associating him with, and then Joseph wizened up and shifted the narrative to “spectacles” to sound more credible. Well if that’s true, why do early quotes mention only the spectacles and say nothing about seer stones? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t the inital reports to newspapers and friends have mentioned seer stones? Why were they only talked about 50 years later, by an apostate splinter sect?
  • Early witnesses described the Urim and Thummim and gold plates both as 6 to 8 inches wide–small enough to fit in a hat. They describe in detail how Joseph Smith placed the Urim and Thummim in the hat.
  • Claims that Joseph Smith used the Urim and Thummim:

    Joseph Smith (Elder’s journal), 1838

    “I obtained them and the Urim and Thummim with them, by the means of which I translated the plates, and thus came the Book of Mormon”

     
     
    – Direct quote from Joseph Smith, who did the translating.
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating)
    Joseph Smith (Wentworth Letter), 1842

    “With the records was found a curious instrument, which the ancients called ‘Urim and Thummim,’ which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rims of a bow fastened to a breastplate. Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God.”

     
     
    – Direct quote from Joseph Smith, who did the translating.
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating)
    Elizabeth Ann Whitmer Cowdery, 1870

    “He would place the director in his hat, and then place his [face in his] hat, so as to exclude the light, and then [read] to his scribe the words as they appeared before him.”

     
     
    – Likely witness, as wife of Oliver Cowdery
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating, Urim and Thummim placed in hat rather than seer stone)
    Martin Harris, 1859

    “The two stones set in a bow of silver were about two inches in diameter, perfectly round, and about five-eighths of an inch thick at the centre; but not so thick at the edges where they came into the bow. They were joined by a round bar of silver, about three-eighths of an inch in diameter, and about four inches long, which, with the two stones, would make eight inches. The stones were white, like polished marble, with a few gray streaks. I never dared to look into them by placing them in the hat, because Moses said that “no man could see God and live,” and we could see anything we wished by looking into them; and I could not keep the desire to see God out of my mind. And beside, we had a command to let no man look into them, except by the command of God, lest he should “look aught and perish.””

     
     
    – Credible quote from witness
     
    – Urim and Thummim described much differently than the seer stones
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating, Urim and Thummim placed in hat rather than seer stone)
    Rochester Advertiser and Daily Telegraph, 1829

    “It was said that the leaves of the bible were plates of gold, about 8 inches long, 6 wide, and one eighth of an inch thick, on which were engraved characters or hyeroglyphics. By placing the spectacles in a hat, and looking into it, Smith could (he said so, at least,) interpret these characters.”

     
     
    – Size and description of gold plates correlate the Urim and Thummim description in the previous quote by Martin Harris (both were placed in the hat together)
     
    – Record of this newspaper quote is available
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating, Urim and Thummim placed in hat rather than seer stone)
    The Gem: A Semi-Monthly Literary and Miscellaneous Journal, 1829

    “By placing the spectacles in a hat and looking into it, Smith interprets the characters into the English language.”

     
     
    – Record of this newspaper quote is available
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating, Urim and Thummim placed in hat rather than seer stone)
    New York Telescope, 1830

    “Martin Harris returned, and set Joseph Smith to the business of translating them: who, “by placing the spectacles in a hat and looking into them, Joseph Smith said he could interpret these characters.””

     
     
    – Record of this newspaper quote is available
     
    – Second-hand quote from witness Martin Harris
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating, Urim and Thummim placed in hat rather than seer stone)
    The Cincinnati Advertiser, 1830

     
     
    – Record of this newspaper quote is available
     
    – Refers to Urim and Thummim as a “white stone.” Seer stone was described differently.
     
    – (Details of claim: “White stone” mentioned for translating, placed in hat)
    Daily Albany Argus, 1831

    “The preacher said he found in the same place two stones, with which he was enabled, by placing them over his eyes and putting his head in a dark corner, to decypher the hieroglyphics on the plates!”

     
     
    – Record of this newspaper quote is available
     
    – Refers to Urim and Thummim as “two stones” provided along with the gold plates. Seer stones are only singular stones.
     
    – (Details of claim: “Two stones” mentioned for translating, used in a dark corner rather than–or in addition to–in a hat)
    Morning Star, 1833

    “…an angel gave him a pair of spectacles which he put in a hat and thus read and translated, while one of the witnesses wrote it down from his mouth.”

     
     
    – Record of this newspaper quote is available
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating, Urim and Thummim placed in hat rather than seer stone)
    Protestant Sentinel, 1834

    “In the year 1828, one Joseph Smith, an illiterate young man, unable to read his own name, of Palmyra, Wayne County, New York, was reported to have found several golden plates, together with a pair of spectacles, relics of high antiquity. The spectacles were designed to aid mental vision, under rather peculiar circumstances. They were to be adjusted, and the visage thrust into a close hat. This done Smith could interpret the sacred mysteries of the plates, in which lay, by the hypothesis, in the top of the hat!”

     
     
    – Record of this newspaper quote is available
     
    Urim and Thummim described in detail
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating, Urim and Thummim placed in hat rather than seer stone)
    New York Weekly Messenger, 1835

    “…he was inspired to interpret the writing, or engraving, by putting a plate in his hat, putting two smooth flat stones, which he found in the box, in the hat, and putting his face therein—that he could not write, but as he translated, one Oliver Cowdery wrote it down.”

     
     
    – Record of this newspaper quote is available
     
    – Refers to Urim and Thummim as “two stones” provided along with the gold plates. Seer stones are only singular stones.
     
    – (Details of claim: “Two stones” mentioned for translating, used in a hat)
    William Smith, 1883

    “He translated them by means of the Urim and Thummim, (which he obtained with the plates), and the power of God. The manner in which this was done was by looking into the Urim and Thummim, which was placed in a hat to exclude the light, (the plates lying near by covered up), and reading off the translation, which appeared in the stone by the power of God.”

     
     
    – Joseph Smith’s family
     
    Urim and Thummim described both by name and as a “stone”
     
    Newer quote (1883)
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating, Urim and Thummim placed in hat rather than seer stone)
    Joseph Knight, 1827

    “Now the way he translated was he put the urim and thummim into his hat and Darkned his Eyes than he would take a sentance and it would apper in Brite Roman Letters then he would tell the writer and he would write it[.] Then the next sentance would Come and so on But if it was not Spelt rite it would not go away till it was rite[,] so we see it was marvelous[.] thus was the hol [whole] translated.”

     
     
    – Earliest mention of Urim and Thummim (1827, date recorded by Thomas Bullock)
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating, Urim and Thummim placed in hat rather than seer stone)
    The Evening and Morning Star, 1833

    “It was translated by the gift and power of God, by an unlearned man, through the aid of a pair of Interpreters, or spectacles-(known, perhaps, in ancient days as Teraphim, or Urim and Thummim).”

     
     
    – Calls the Urim and Thummim the same thing as the spectacles
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating)
    J. B. Bateman (A Letter to Those Who Have Attended Mormonite Preaching), 1840

    “…two large jewels resembling diamonds were given to him, which, being applied to the eyes, like spectacles, enabled him to get at the meaning and translate the Book of Mormon into English. These jewels were, he said, the Urim and Thummim of the Old Testament.”

     
     
    – Calls the Urim and Thummim the same thing as the spectacles, two white jewels
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating)
    William Smith (via J. W. Peterson and W. S. Pender), 1890

    “…a silver bow ran over one stone, under the other around over that one and under the first in the shape of a horizontal figure 8 much like a pair of spectacles… could only see through one at a time using sometimes one and sometimes the other. By putting his head in a hat or some dark object it was not necessary to close one eye while looking through the stone with the other. In that way sometimes when his eyes grew [tired] he [relieved] them of the strain.”

     
     
    – Detailed description of Urim and Thummim
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating, other means of darkness used besides hat)
    Joseph Knight, 1847

    “…it is ten times Better then I expected… But he seamed to think more of the glasses or the urim and thummem then [than] he Did of the Plates for[,] says he[,] I can see any thing[.] They are Marvelus.”

     
     
    – Urim and Thummim could see better than with seer stone. So how would seer stone be more “convenient?”
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating)
    John Corrill, 1839

    “After finishing the translation, the plates and stones of Urim and Thummim were again taken and concealed by the angel for a wise purpose, and the translation published to the world in the winter of A. D. 1829 and ’30.”

     
     
    – Unreliable source, an apostate
     
    – (Details of claim: Urim and Thummim used to translate the entire Book of Mormon)
    Samuel W. Richard, 1907

    “He [Oliver Cowdery] represented Joseph as sitting at a table with the plates before him, translating them by means of the Urim and Thummim, while he sat beside him writing every word as Joseph spoke them to him. This was done by holding the ‘translators’ over the hieroglyphics, the translation appearing distinctly on the instrument, which had been touched by the finger of God and dedicated and consecrated for the express purpose of translating languages.”

     
     
    – (Details of claim: Only Urim and Thummim mentioned for translating)
    Oliver Cowdery

    “These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated, with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, “Interpreters,” the history, or record, called “The book of Mormon.””

     
    -Reliable source
     
    – (Details of claim: Urim and Thummim used to translate the entire Book of Mormon)

    Joseph Smith’s close friend Joseph Knight describes how the Urim and Thummim was “ten times better” than anything he expected. “I can see any thing!” Why, then, would he consider the seer stone “more convenient?” How could the seer stone possibly be a superior means of translating?

    Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith said the alleged “seer stone” probably wasn’t used:

    “While the statement has been made by some writers that the Prophet Joseph Smith used a seer stone part of the time in his translating of the record, and information points to the fact that he did have in his possession such a stone, yet there is no authentic statement in the history of the Church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all hearsay, and personally, I do not believe that this stone was used for this purpose. The reason I give for this conclusion is found in the statement of the Lord to the Brother of Jared as recorded in Ether 3:22–24. These stones, the Urim and Thummim which were given to the Brother of Jared, were preserved for this very purpose of translating the record, both of the Jaredites and the Nephites. Then again the Prophet was impressed by Moroni with the fact that these stones were given for that very purpose. It hardly seems reasonable to suppose that the Prophet would substitute something evidently inferior under these circumstances. It may have been so, but it is so easy for a story of this kind to be circulated due to the fact that the Prophet did possess a seer stone, which he may have used for some other purposes.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1956)

    The LDS Church Is Open About This IssueCES Letter says the church is not forthcoming about the seer stone:

    “Unlike the story I’ve been taught in Sunday School, Priesthood, General Conferences, Seminary, EFY, Ensigns, Church history tour, Missionary Training Center, and BYU… These facts are not only confirmed in Rough Stone Rolling (p. 71-72), by FairMormon here and here, by Neal A. Maxwell Institute (FARMS), but also in an obscure 1992 talk given by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Update: The Church’s December 2013 essay admits this.”

    But the church openly talks about the seer stone all the time, and have even released images of it! Nobody is keeping it secret. In fact, lots of my friends think it’s a cool story. The church has published scans of all the historical records they could find. One of the first things the church did was publish seven massive volumes of church history, with raw information for people to access and analyze. All this material is why anti-Mormon have ammunition to attack the church. It’s all right there for you to read. What more do you want?

    The church frequently teaches about it. From the evidence I have presented here, I think they give way too much credence to the flimsy allegations of peep stones. We don’t know for sure what happened, but the most reasonable conclusion by far is that Joseph Smith did not involve a seer stone in producing the Book of Mormon. We need to get a lot more skeptical of this false narrative. Stop accepting the frame of discussion from South Park.

    So what did Joseph Smith use a seer stone for?

    Claims about Joseph Smith’s Seer Stone:

    E. W. Vanderhoof, 1905

    “In September, 1819,… was the discovery of the celebrated Peek Stone. It was unearthed by the Prophet’s father and elder sons while engaged in digging a well near Palmayra for Mr. Clark Chase… When washed it was whitish, glossy, and opaque in appearance. Joseph, Jr., who was an idle looker- on at the labors of his father and brethren, at once possessed himself of this geological oddity… Very soon it became noised abroad that by means of this stone the inchoate Prophet could locate buried treasure and discover the whereabouts of stolen property. In the latter case he might not have to look a great way. People from far and near who had lost valuables consulted Joseph. With his eyes bandaged and his Peek Stone at the bottom of a tall white hat, he satisfied all inquirers for a fee of seventy-five cents. My grandfather paid that sum to learn what had become of a valuable mare stolen from his stable, and we was a tolerably shrewd and prosperous Dutchman for those days. He recovered the beast, which Joe said was somewhere on the lake shore, and about to be run over to Canada. Anybody could have told him that, as it was invariably the way a horsethief would take to dispose of a stolen animal in those days.

    It was not long before Joe discovered that with his stone he could locate hidden treasures of great value. Glittering heaps of gold and silver, contained in earthen pots and iron chests, buried in the earth, were revealed to his vision and their exact locality indicated by its aid… His money-digging operations were organized much in the usual way. The working capital was labor and whiskey… The whiskey was supplied by Joe from funds raised in the vicinity from credulous and goodnatured people who were taken in on the ground plan, and promised a thousand-fold for every dollar invested. From those who were not prepared to pay in cash, contributions of grain, flour, fat, sheep, calves, and pigs were received… After some prepatory mystic ceremonies, such as the waving of a magic wand, and the uterrance of some foolish incantation gibberish, Joe would look at the Peek Stone in his hat, and then indicate the spot where the digging was to begin… At length some tired and perhaps disgusted digger, “tempted by the Spirit of Evil,” would speak, and the treasure would vanish. The company were always assured by Joe that if the spell had not been broken a few more blows would have revealed the glittering heaps.”

     
     
    – Written 75 years after the Book of Mormon, based on wild allegations from a third-hand sources that obviously hated Mormons. He called Mormons “degraded and absurd.”
     
    – Conflicts with more credible witnesses.
     
    – If large groups of locals were ripped off, why was there no account of this? Wouldn’t someone have said something to a newspaper? Wouldn’t people have been angry at getting ripped off? Yet the only legal claim against Joseph Smith from this community occured seven years later, by a religious competitor, which was immediately dismissed?
     
    – Who would be so gullible to think huge piles of treasure would disappear into thin air if a person speaks a doubting word? If this alleged trick worked so well on the locals in his treasure hunts, why did Joseph Smith never use this tactic in regard to the church if it? If the people were this gullible, why didn’t the entire town convert to Mormonism right away?
     
    – Why were magic wands, magic spells, and weird incantations not used in translating the gold plates if that’s what Joseph Smith did with the seer stones?
     
    – (Details of claim: White seer stone, used to go on treasure hunts & look for stolen items, magic wands and spells involved, doubt of treasure’s existence blamed for not finding it)
    Henry Harris, 1842

    “I, Henry Harris, do state that I became acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen., about the year 1820, in the town of Machester, New York. They were a family that labored very little–the chief they did, was to dig for money. Joseph Smith, Jr., the pretended Prophet, used to pretend to tell fortunes; he had a stone which he used to put in his hat, by means of which he professed to tell people’s fortunes… They were regarded by the community in which they lived, as a lying and indolent set of men, and no confidence could be placed in them… He then went to Pennsylvania, got his wife, and they both went together and got the gold plates — he said it was revealed to him, that no one must see the plates but himself and wife”

     
     
    – Conflicts completely with the previous quote. Now the stone was used to tell fortunes, not locate items? Now they were hated by the community, not leading huge treasure hunts? This also flies in the face of credible witnesses, that the Smith family worked hard on their farm and were well regarded by their neighbors.
     
    The claim that Emma Smith got the plates with Joseph and saw them in correlated by no other source, pro-Mormon or anti-Mormon. Everyone agrees Emma did nothing more than acts as scribe shortly, and never saw the plates.
     
    Anti-Mormon source
     
    – (Details of claim: White seer stone, used to go on treasure hunts & look for stolen items, magic wands and spells involved, doubt of treasure’s existence blamed for not finding it)
    Lorenzo Saunders (via Edmund L. Kelley), 1884

    “Well you see by & by some of them says go to Jo. says he Jo. come look into futurity & tell us how it is there? Jo. says I can not do that, I can not look into futurity I can not look into anything that is holy. The old man stood there and says: ‘I guess he can not look into my shirt then.'”

     
     
    – Second hand source, years after Book of Mormon produced
     
    – (Details of claim: Joseph Smith refused to tell fortunes)
    Willard Chase, 1842

    “In the year 1822 I was engaged in digging a well. I employed Alvin and Joseph Smith to assist me; the latter of whom is now known as the Mormon Prophet. After digging about twenty feet below the surface of the earth, we discovered a singularly appearing stone, which excited my curiousity. I brought it to the top of the well… After obtaining the stone, he began to publish abroad what wonders he could discover by looking in it…

    He went to Lawrence with the following story, as related to me by Lawrence himself. That he had discovered in Pennsylvania, on the bank of the Susquehannah River, a very rich mine of silver… He went to an honest old Dutchman, by the name of Stowel, and told him that he had discovered on the bank of Black River, in the village of Watertown, Jefferson County, NY, a cave, in which he had found a bar of gold, as big as his leg, and about three or four feet long. That he could not get it out alone…

    In April, 1830, I again asked Hiram for the stone which he had borrowed of me; he told me I should not have it, for Joseph Made use of it in translating his Bible.”

     
     
    – Contradicts in many ways the previous quote about this event.
     
    – The silver mine incident involved Stowell, not Lawrence. It was also before Joseph Smith married, not after as Willard describes. Stowell said himself that the silver mine was his idea. All kinds of incorrect details here that discredit this quote.
     
    – Anti-Mormon source. This quote appears to be the genesis of the RLDS stone and hat hoax. There’s just one problem with it. The Book of Mormon was already published before April 1830 when Willard claims he asked for the stone! Oops.
     
    – (Details of claim: Joseph Smith used stone in hat to translate, conned people over gold bars and a silver mine)
    Peter G. Bridgeman, 1826 (Court documents reported in 1883)

    “…he had a certain stone, which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold-mines were a distance under ground… he pretended to tell, by looking at this stone, where coined money was buried in Pennsylvania, and while at Palmyra he had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was, of various kinds; that he has occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up…”

     
     
    – Second-hand anti-Mormon source, supposedly from the 1926 trial documents.
     
    – Contradicts previous quotes: that the stone was used for fortune telling, that it was used from 1819 (or 1822) until 1830, that he used the stone to translate, and that he published his claims aggressively.
     
    – (Details of claim: Joseph Smith used stone in dark hat because it hurt to look at it in front of the sun, used stone to look for gold and lost property, stopped using stone after 3 years of use)
    Josiah Stowel, 1826 (Court documents reported in 1883)

    “Had been employed by him to work on farm part of time; that he pretended to have skill of telling where hidden treasures in the earth were, by means of looking through a certain stone; that prisoner (Joseph Smith) had looked for him sometime,–once to tell him about money buried on Bend Mountain in Pennsylvania, once for gold on Monument Hill, and once for a salt-spring,–and that he positively knew that the prisoner could tell, and professed the art of seeing those valuable treasures through the medium of said stone; that he found the digging part at Bend and Monument Hill as prisoner represented it; that prisoner had looked through said stone for Deacon Attelon, for a mine–did not exactly mind it, but got a piece of ore, which resembled gold… that he never deceived him; that prisoner looked through stone, and described Josiah Stowel’s house and out-houses while at Palmyra, at Simpson Stowel’s, correctly; that he had told about a painted tree with a man’s hand painted upon it, by means of said stone.”

     
     
    – Court document based on pro-Mormon witness, supposedly from the 1926 trial documents. This quote may be a hoax, as it was “lent to me by a lady of well-known position in whose family they had been preserved.”
     
    – (Details of claim: Joseph Smith successfully used the seer stone to correctly describe far-away places and see underground valuables)
    Martin Harris (via Richard van Wagoner, via Joel Tiffany), 1982

    “I was at the house of his father in Manchester, two miles south of Palmyra village, and was picking my teeth with a pin while sitting on the bars. The pin caught in my teeth and dropped from my fingers into shavings and straw. I jumped from the bars and looked for it. Joseph and Northrop Sweet also did the same. We could not find it. I then took Joseph on surprise, and said to him–I said, ‘Take your stone.’ I had never seen it, and did not know that he had it with him. He had it in his pocket. He took it and placed it in his hat–the old white hat–and placed his face in his hat. I watched him closely to see that he did not look to one side; he reached out his hand beyond me on the right, and moved a little stick and there I saw the pin, which he picked up and gave to me. I know he did not look out of the hat until after he had picked up the pin.”

     
     
    – Fourth-hand modern quote from a non-LDS source, the same source that pushed the phony David Whitmer quote. Not to be found in online directories of Joel Tiffany.
     
    – (Details of claim: Joseph Smith used seer stone to locate lost items on a whim)
    Joseph Smith, 1839

    “In the year 1823 my father’s family met with a great affliction by the death of my eldest brother, Alvin. In the month of October, 1825, I hired with an old gentleman by the name of Josiah Stoal, who lived in Chenango county, State of New York. He had heard something of a silver mine having been opened by the Spaniards in Harmony, Susquehanna county, State of Pennsylvania; and had, previous to my hiring to him, been digging, in order, if possible, to discover the mine. After I went to live with him, he took me, with the rest of his hands, to dig for the silver mine, at which I continued to work for nearly a month, without success in our undertaking, and finally I prevailed with the old gentleman to cease digging after it. Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money-digger.”

     
     
    – First-hand testimony.
     
    – (Details of claim: No mention of using seer stone but admits he looked for a silver mine)

    These claims are incredibly contradictory and fanciful. Joseph Smith waved a magic wand around? Really? The only really compelling evidence is the court record based on Josiah Stowel’s court testimony, which may or may not be a forgery. If it is authentic, we still don’t know how much of this was added by the court officer (we can be sure he didn’t say Joseph Smith was “pretending” and then two seconds later say he never deceived him.) But this record holds some weight for the claim that Joseph Smith possessed a seer stone and once found gold ore with it.

    The church also has a seer stone in their possession and released photos of it. It came from somewhere.

    Joseph Smith perhaps owned a seer stone, but he never used it for anything spiritual. The difference between the seer stone and the Urim and Thummim spectacles are very important, and we must never lose sight of the fact that the Book of Mormon was translated through divine inspiration.

    Joseph Smith did not search for treasure – Joseph Smith explained that he was employed to help dig for a silver mine by Josiah Stoal, not to hunt for buried treasure. Yes, an alleged copy of a court record, written by a second-hand based on court testimony by someone who employed Joseph indicates that he used the stone to find some gold ore, and a feather where someone once stashed coins. But that’s it. That is the extent of the treasure hunting. To draw a parallel between this silver mine excursion and the translation of gold plates into an incredible 500 page volume of scripture is nonsense. Only anti-Mormons claim he went hunting for treasure, and their hokey allegations contradict each other.

    CES Letter Logical Fallacies

    Falsehood Joseph Smith did not use the seer stone for translating.

    CES Letter can’t back up their claim that he “used the exact same method” to translate as he did to locate “buried treasure,” as the two are totally different activities.

    CES Letter says Joseph Smith translated “while the gold plates were covered or put in another room or buried in the woods,” but no claims of the gold plates being covered are credible, and nobody has claimed that Joseph Smith translated them while they were still buried. That’s just a lie.

    CES Letter‘s allegations are not “facts” which are “confirmed” by LDS sources. The church unfortunately gives too much credence to the rock and hat hoax narrative, but the church does not call it official history.

    CES Letter points to these LDS sources that talk about seer stones yet insist that the church is “not being honest and transparent” about it. Fact is, the church publishes all raw information on the internet as scanned pdfs and talks about it all the time. The 1992 Elder Nelson talk about the seer stone is not “obscure” as CES Letter claims, but was dilvered to hundreds of mission presidents and widely distributed in the church’s official magazines. Frankly, these unreliable quotes about seer stones get much more coverage by the church than they warrant.

    False Dilemma CES Letter claims Joseph Smith used a seer stone instead of the Urim and Thummim. But most sources say that he used both. This is a possibility that CES Letter does not permit.
    Red Herring CES Letter is upset with how some LDS artists illustrate the Book of Mormon translation. So? What does LDS art have to do with it? Joseph Smith did not paint those pictures. Artists are free to paint what they want. CES Letter shows us some anti-Mormon illustrations of how the “Book of Mormon tranlsation actually happened,” dark and sinister drawings with all kinds of mistakes in them.

    They show Joseph Smith sitting on the stairs with his head in a hat; but there is no reference to him sitting on stairs. Totally made up. They show Joseph Smith wearing fine polyester and satin clothes, with nice shoes and a belt with buckle; but he was a poor farmer that couldn’t afford these clothes. They show Joseph Smith behind a curtain; which contradicts most witness accounts. CES Letter provides these phony and sinister-looking illustrations to counter the church’s “deceptive” illustrations.

    CES Letter complains that they weren’t told about the seer stones in Sunday School, the MTC, and other church events, but most Mormons have heard of it as it is commonly talked about. Why does it matter?

    Shifting Goalposts In previous arguments, CES Letter claimed that the Book of Mormon copies “word for word” from the KJV bible, and some random books from the 19th century. But now they claim Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon with “Ouija Board” black magic.

    CES Letter complains about the Mormon church “not being honest and transparent,” and then points to a bunch of Mormon publications about it. So CES Letter is pretty much saying, “see, all these Mormon sources admit it… but the church is covering it up.” Sorry, it’s either one or the other. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    Appeal To Ridicule Seer stones are not dark magic and nothing like “Ouija Boards.”

    The sinister black and white illustrations of the gold plates translation are also meant to ridicule.

    Repetition The list of nine church events that allegedly don’t talk about the seer stone is ridiculous. Just say “I didn’t hear about it in church.” By listing out every little church information source that doesn’t perpetuate the hoax, CES Letter adds false credence to the allegation.

    CES Letter adds four illustrations of the rock and hat hoax to add credence.

    CES Letter repeats the rock and hat hoax nine more times in their pdf.

    Big Lie Tactic – It is important for CES Letter to establish the rock and hat hoax story, because all the other attacks on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon follow this attack. Previous arguments set about to explain how Joseph Smith really produced the Book of Mormon, by copying the bible and random 19th century books. CES Letter set the narrative that Joseph Smith made stuff up on the spot based on books around him and post-rationalized contradictions and changes. One day it was magic seer stones that he used for treasure hunting, and the next day it was the Urim and Thummim spectacles.

    By building a relationship between treasure hunting stories and the Book of Mormon, CES Letter builds a powerful narrative. When we read of gold plates, we think of phony gold treasure hunts. When we read of divine translation through the Spirit, we think of fortune telling and con jobs. It is easy to assume that Joseph Smith moved from treasure hunt con-jobs and seer-stone divination on to gold plates that nobody can see and seer-stone translation jobs.

    It is unfortunate that the RLDS apostate splinter sect popularized this narrative, which was started by anti-Mormon Willard Chase. They really teed up the anti-Mormons for a simple and powerful narrative. But it is a narrative with very flimsy evidence and it does not make logical sense. If Joseph Smith moved on from seer-stone treasure hunts to a golden bible, why did everybody talk about the “spectacles”at the time instead of seer stones? Why didn’t the seer-stone narrative crop up until the late 19th century?

    CES Letter does not explain why Joseph Smith hist story from seer stones to spectacles, or how he could dictate a book of scripture with witnesses watching him put his face buried in a hat. But you don’t really need to explain logic when you are appealing to ridicule. The point is to ridicule and disqualify divine revelation as one possible explanation. If you believe the Book of Mormon is the product of Joseph Smith’s treasure-hunting days, it is easy to believe the subsequent narratives about Joseph Smith. This is why CES Letter repeats the rock and hat attack nine more times. They use it as a spring-board for their other attacks (bold added by me):

    “Like the rock in the hat story, I did not know there were multiple First Vision accounts.”

    “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?”

    “…the same stone and method Joseph used for his treasure hunting activities? Testimony/Spiritual Witness Concerns & Questions: 1. Every major religion has members who claim the same thing: God or God’s spirit bore witness to them that their religion, prophet/pope/leaders, book(s), and teachings are true.”

    “Adding to the above deceptions and dishonesty over history (rock in hat translation, polygamy/polyandry, multiple First Vision accounts, etc.) 2013 Official Declaration 2 Header Update Dishonesty: Offending text: ‘Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice.'”

    Anti-Intellectualism… ‘Some things that are true are not very useful.’ Joseph using a rock in a hat instead of the gold plates to translate the Book of Mormon is not a useful truth?

    “Are those facts invalid when someone discovers them on the scary internet? What happens when a member comes across Elder Russell M. Nelson’s obscure 1992 talk or the Church’s December 2013 Book of Mormon Translation essay where they learn – for the first time in their lives – that the Book of Mormon was not translated as depicted in Sunday Schools, Ensigns, MTC, General Conference addresses, or Visitor Centers?… I confirmed Nelson’s rock in the hat endorsement from his 1992 talk buried on LDS.org.”

    “When I first discovered that Joseph Smith used a rock in a hat to translate the Book of Mormon… I desperately needed answers and I needed them 3 hours ago. Among the first sources I looked to for answers were official Church sources such as Mormon.org and LDS.org. I couldn’t find them.”

    “Somehow, I’m supposed to rebuild my testimony on newly discovered information that is not only bizarre and alien to the Chapel Mormonism I had a testimony of; it’s almost comical… And I’m supposed to believe with a straight face that Joseph using a rock in a hat is totally legit?”

    To set the big lie, it is important for CES Letter to dismantle the media narrative set by the church. That’s why they go out of their way to invalidate the paintings of Joseph Smith translating the plates created by LDS artists, and then post a bunch of false sinister-looking counter illustrations for how “it actually happened.” Anti-Mormons rely heavily on media influence–the images you see on TV and popular culture. They rely on the mainstream media’s severe anti-Mormon bias, that you see on TV, film, musicals, popular music, magazines, radio, etc. If this copious media bias against Mormons in popular media disappeared, it would make it a lot harder for them to push the big lie. They need “South Park.”

    Contradiction Strategy – The surrounding arguments for obscure books that allegedly influenced the Book of Mormon no longer seem very clownish now the CES Letter made the case for Joseph Smith’s rock and hat narrative. The attack on faith and promotion of fake science gains considerable strength with this narrative in place, and the explanation for how Joseph Smith fabricated it suddenly appears more credible.

    Well, what is a prophet of the Lord doing digging for buried treasure? Even if he was only looking for a silver mine, would a real prophet of God use his divine powers of seer-ship to look for wealth and glory?

    One thing nobody mentions is that Joseph Smith was only a child, a 17-year old boy, when anti-Mormon Willard Chase claims Joseph Smith used the seer stone in 1822. The Josiah Stowel silver mine saga occurred only a few years later. If Joseph Smith indeed did anything more than look around for a silver mine on behalf of a neighbor, it was the exploits of a teenager.

    The human mind is trained to find patterns. It is easy to cherry-pick a few vague similarities, dress up the context to sound more similar, and build a narrative that one thing derived from the other. It is especially effective for CES Letter to play this game immediately following arguments where they throw out vague similarities between two books and suggest one book was derived from the other. At this point in their document, our brain is eagerly looking for clues to piece together. We look at these stories of ‘treasure hunts’ and attach them to the gold plates. We look at the stories of ‘stones in a hat’ and attach them to the translation of the gold plates. Our brain is telling us there is no way the gold plates story couldn’t be derived from the teenage treasure hunting years.

    This is the same argument that Leftists use against the bible and all the other prophets. 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 human figures on Mars. It is confirmation bias.

    When it comes to history, there is so much we don’t know and will never know. In this case, all we have are some angry statements from anti-Mormons and some second or third hand quotes from witnesses. Fools jump to conclusions.We must be careful not to be tricked when it comes to pareidolia and history, take care to use critical thought. If there is vague evidence for something but we mostly don’t know what really happened because it is history, do not jump to lazy conclusions, whatever narrative is hyped on South Park. 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.

    It is silly to think Joseph Smith was into black magic and Ouija Boards, and it totally flies in the face of the narrative that CES Letter set thus far–that Joseph Smith made the Book of Mormon by ripping off of other books. But anti-Mormons have been pushing the black magic narrative hard lately, especially among the fake scholarship scene and among Mormon infiltrators in BYU’s faculty. The LDS scholar community these days scoffs in the face of anyone who rejects the narrative.

    Occult religion is a splinter sect that ripped a lot of the old church of Jehovah in ancient days, so it is no surprise to see similarities such as the pentagram symbolism in both the occult and LDS temples. Yes, there are similarities if you look only at the surface, which is what anti-Mormons tend to do, from what I’ve seen. It makes it easy for them to generalize all religions as wrong. Ouija Boards, the bible… what’s the difference? Both are myths, pretending to get revelation. Not only does this illogical, lazy thinking rationalize an atheist’s contempt for faith, but it also excuses them if they replace Sunday church with tarot card readings and horoscopes. Either way, the truth is not the rosy image of Joseph Smith with his face studying the pages of the gold plates, right? This mode of thinking leads ex-Mormons to replace their testimony of the gospel with superstition.

    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 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 of finding contradiction 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. These days, everybody knows about Joseph Smith and his peep stones. It’s all over the media.

    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.

    Was The Book Of Mormon Altered To Portray God The Father & Jesus As Separate Beings?

    “The Book of Mormon taught and still teaches a Trinitarian view of the Godhead. Joseph Smith’s early theology also held this view. As part of the over 100,000 changes to the Book of Mormon, there were major changes made to reflect Joseph’s evolved view of the Godhead…

    LDS scholar, Boyd Kirkland, made the following observation: ‘The Book of Mormon and early revelations of Joseph Smith do indeed vividly portray a picture of the Father and Son as the same God…why is it that the Book of Mormon not only doesn’t clear up questions about the Godhead which have raged in Christianity for centuries, but on the contrary just adds to the confusion? This seems particularly ironic, since a major avowed purpose of the book was to restore lost truths and end doctrinal controversies caused by the “great and abominable Church’s” corruption of the Bible…In later years he [Joseph] reversed his earlier efforts to completely ‘monotheise’ the godhead and instead ‘tritheised’ it.’

    Assuming that the official 1838 First Vision account is truthful and accurate, why would Joseph Smith hold a Trinitarian view of the Godhead if he personally saw God the Father and Jesus Christ as separate and embodied beings a few years earlier in the Sacred Grove?” (CES Letter)

    This argument is a false dilemma, because the Book of Mormon’s explanation of the character of Gode is no different than the bible, and Mormons believe in the bible. If the Book of Mormon were to emphasize a non-trinitarian theology, anti-Mormons would claim the Book of Mormon contradicts the bible. If it didn’t, anti-Mormons would claim the Book of Mormon contradicts other Mormon scripture. So this is a no-win argument for Mormons. Either way anti-Mormons complain.

    But the simple answer is the Book of Mormon narrative is the same as the bible, and the “mainstream” interpretation of the bible is false. Trinitarianism came from the Nicene Creed in 325 AD, not from the bible.

    Wasn’t A Controversy – The reason that both the bible and the Book of Mormon do not more clearly explain the distinct differences between God the Father and the Son is because it was not such an issue as it is today. The Book of Mormon explains that plain and precious truths such as the character of God were taken out of the scriptures after both the bible and Book of Mormon were written. It became an issue only after they were written. So why would the Book of Mormon discuss it in greater detail?

    Popular contemporary religions held a non-trinitarian view similar to Mormonism. Paul went to great lengths to explain the concept of divine saving grace, as the pagans he lived around believed in salvation because of works. Egyptian was a close contemporary religion to the Book of Mormon people, so why wouldn’t the Book of Mormon go to great lengths to clarify the theology as Trinitarian if that is indeed what they believed? Shouldn’t the Book of Mormon go out of its way to call the Son and Father the same person?

    There are plenty of other plain and precious truths that were perverted or erased after the scriptures were written: baptism for the dead, eternal progression, eternal marriage, etc. The Book of Mormon also doesn’t address these. That’s because prophets were discussing issues that were controversial in their day. How many ancient American civilizations believed God the Father was the same being as the Son? Zero. Egyptians and other contemporary religions separated them as well.

    Book Of Mormon Explains The DifferenceCES Letter quotes only a snippet of Alma 11. But the full discourse in Alma actually explains the Godhead very well. The Son of God is the Eternal Father, in that Jehovah created the heavens and the earth with the Father:

    “Now Zeezrom said unto the people: See that ye remember these things; for he said there is but one God; yet he saith that the Son of God shall come, but he shall not save his people… Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?

    And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last… every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works.”

    Mosiah 15 further explains Jesus was conceived by the power of the Father. He is the Son, as Jehovah is the only one to receive the fullness of the Father in order to be the creator and Savior:

    “And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.

    And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.”

    The next chapter explains the reason why the Son must be separate from the Father. The Messiah can be our advocate from sin, and the Father cannot because it is injustice for the advocate to be the same person as the judge:

    “Thus all mankind were lost; and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state… And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption… Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father.”

    Ether 3 reinforces this theology, but you’ve got to pay attention to the future, present, and past tense grammar. The physical creation of man is explained in active grammar, while the spiritual creation is passive grammar, indicating Jehovah created the physical but not the spiritual. Our spirits were created by the Father. Our bodies were created by the Father and the Son in the Son’s image. Our spiritual lives will be redeemed by the Son. As the Firstborn, we become his children through his redemption:

    “Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.

    And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.

    Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit…”

    Joseph Smith recorded D&C 20 before the Book of Mormon was published, and it calls the Father a separate person than the Son:

    “He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day; And ascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father… As well as those who should come after, who should believe in the gifts and callings of God by the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and of the Son; Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen.”

    The Book of Mormon frequently calls the Father separate from the Son. 3 Nephi 11:

    Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

    Book of Mormon Changes Do Not Change TheologyCES Letter complains that a few verse were changed to “the Son” from “the Father.” This was done to clear up confusion, but there are plenty of other verses which were not changed that could be twisted to a Trinitarian view. Why didn’t Joseph Smith change those verses as well? Even the title page reads: “Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.” Why wasn’t that changed to “the Son” if the purpose was to change theology?

    Who Is Boyd Kirtland?CES Letter calls this guy Boyd Kirtland an “LDS scholar.” I’m not sure who that is. I’ve never heard of him. Are they referring to the guy from California who worked on GI Joe cartoons? Does making GI Joe cartoons make you a scholar? Whoever he is, he clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    CES Letter Logical Fallacies

    Circular Argument The only reason why the Book of Mormon would explicitly explain the godhead to a clearer extent than the bible is if it were written in a different context, which it doesn’t claim to do. CES Letter claims the Book of Mormon’s purpose is to clear up today’s “doctrinal controversies,” but that’s only what it would be if it were a modern creation, which is what they are trying to prove.
    False Dilemma The Book of Mormon does not present God as either the Father or the Son; it presents God as both. “God” can be three things while one of those three things is not the totality of God. Apples can be a fruit while not all fruits are apples.

    This argument presents it as if the Book of Mormon either contradicts the bible or falls in line with mainstream trinitarian interpretation of the bible, but does not allow for the possibility that the modern mainstream interpretation is wrong. Not everything is fully explained in the Book of Mormon.

    Poison the Well Alma 11 and Mosiah 15 explains the Godhead pretty well, but CES Letter quotes only a snippet out of the context to bolster their argument that the Book of Mormon gives a contradictory explanation.
    Confirmation Bias CES Letter mentions the Book of Mormon had 100,000 changes (a claim which I’ve never actually seen verified), but fails to mention almost all changes were grammar corrections because the original manuscript had no punctuation, and the printer added the errors.
    Strawman Argument Just because the Book of Mormon doesn’t explain something as fully as other Mormon sources doesn’t mean they are contradicting each other. Mormon doctrine has always said Jesus is the fullness of the Father, the creator of everything physical, the Father of salvation, the character of the Eternal Father, One God, just as the Book of Mormon says. There is nothing in the Book of Mormon that differs or contradicts other Mormon sources.
    Bandwagon Joseph Smith must have thought the Father and Son were the same because everyone else around him did?
    Repetition CES Letter repeats this argument in their attack on the First Vision.

    Contradiction Strategy – To discredit the Book of Mormon, CES Letter again portrays discrepancies between books of scripture, each of which they believe to be false. This time, they hold mainstream Christainity’s interpretation of the bible as the standard which the Book of Mormon must consistently live up to. This is quite a feat, as CES Letter never actually shows the Book of Mormon contradicting any other source. They just interpret it the same way lost of mainstream Christians interpret the bible and argue this contradicts the founding Mormon event, of Joseph Smith seeing the Father and Son in the First Vision.

    CES Letter assumes the character of a mainstream Christianity who believes in the bible, even though they elsewhere make clear that they think the bible is a myth.

    In previous arguments, CES Letter pointed out alleged contradictions between the Book of Mormon and the bible or science. Now they move on to contradictions within Mormonism itself. When it comes to history, there is so much we don’t know and will never know. Fools jump to conclusions. Followers of Satan are easily tricked when it comes to 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 up with 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.

    Changeable Truth – What alternative ideology is CES Letter trying to promote in this contradiction strategy? The answer lies in their phony straw-man portrayal of Joseph Smith’s beliefs, that they evolved. Followers of Satan evolve their beliefs to the current year. What is the alternative to scripture that has remained essentially the same for many thousands of years? Scripture that is always changing. Truth that is never static. 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 more female characters to the Book of Mormon, to show that we are “inclusive?” Why don’t we add some justification for gay marriage or abortion? We see this kind of evolution in the world’s popular scriptures, political speeches, classroom assignments, popular culture, entertainment media–the need to constantly be updated to fit the current year. The same old ideas repeatedly repackaged in a flashy modern frame.

    Innuendo Rather Than LogicCES Letter gives a few lines of incorrect leading evidence, and the reader connects to dots in their mind to an inevitable conclusion. If the Book of Mormon includes all of the bible translator’s words that were added in 1604, obviously the Book of Mormon wasn’t written before then. CES Letter spell out this logic, but the reader’s mind connects the dots on its own. 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.

    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 Mormon 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.

    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.

    This is a powerful introduction to CES Letter‘s next attacks which is the Big Lie that Joseph Smith used a rock in a hat to create the Book of Mormon, as they go on to use obscure “Mormon” sources to back up their wacky claims.

    ***UPDATE: jvalentiner from Ex-Mo Reddit left a comment, and it apparently got lost… The commenting system is not set to review comments before approval. We don’t know what happened, but it was a good question, and we are sorry it didn’t post. Here it is:

    “Book of Mormon Changes Do Not Change Theology – CES Letter complains that a few verse were changed to “the Son” from “the Father.” This was done to clear up confusion, but there are plenty of other verses which were not changed that could be twisted to a Trinitarian view. Why didn’t Joseph Smith change those verses as well? Even the title page reads: “Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.” Why wasn’t that changed to “the Son” if the purpose was to change theology?”

    If this is true, why didn’t you deal with the parts of the Book of Mormon that were actually changed, e.g. 1 Nephi?

    Why did the 1830 Edition of the Book of Mormon read “Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father”? (Pg. 25, corresponding to 1 Nephi 11:21, see optical scans of the 1830 Book of Mormon here at the church sponsored Joseph Smith Papers (JSP): http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-mormon-1830/31)

    Why did it explicitly say the Lamb of God is the Everlasting God, and that Nephi saw that he was lifted up upon the cross, i.e. “Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people, yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world, and I saw and bear record. And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross, and slain for the sins of the world”? (Pg. 26, corresponding to 1 Nephi 11:32, see at JSP: http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-mormon-1830/32)

    Why did it explicitly say the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Saviour of the World, i.e. “the twelve apostles of the Lamb . . . that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Saviour of the world”? (Pg. 32, corresponding to 1 Nephi 13:40-41, see here: http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-mormon-1830/38)”

    We will revise this article to explain this better. Jesus IS the everlasting Father, or everlasting God. As Elder McKonkie explained, Jesus took the role of creator of the universe, co-creator of our physical bodies, and creator of our salvation. The Father is the creator of our spirits. The godhead together is the “Everlasting Father.”

    Did ‘The First Book Of Napoleon’ Influence The Book Of Mormon?

    “Another fascinating book published in 1809, The First Book of Napoleon, is shocking… It’s like reading from the Book of Mormon. When I first read this along with other passages from The First Book of Napoleon, I was floored. Here we have two early 19th century contemporary books written at least a decade before the Book of Mormon that not only read and sound like the Book of Mormon but which also carry so many of its parallels and themes as well.”

    The First Book of Napoleon is a totally different book than the Book of Mormon. Totally different. Anti-Mormons cherry-pick a handful of common phrases, such as “upon the face of the land” and “an account,” which happen to exist in both books, and arranges them out of order into a sentence with a bunch of ellipses (the three dots that are commonly used to paraphrase a quote) to make them appear more similar.

    You can do this with almost any book in existence. There are tens of thousands of 19th century books that share a handful or more of short phrases with the Book of Mormon.

    MisquotedCES Letter snips short phrases and words totally out of context, and arranges them completely out of order. This is misquoting. When using ellipses to paraphrase certain parts of a quote, the phrases should be in the same order which they originally appear. It is a misquote–a fake quote–to pick out small parts and rearrange them differently.

    Book of Mormon(per CES Letter): Book of Mormon (correct quote):

    “Condemn not the (writing)…an account…the First Book of Nephi…upon the face of the earth…it came to pass…the land…his inheritance and his gold and his silver and…the commandments of the Lord…the foolish imaginations of his heart…large in stature…Jerusalem…because of the wickedness of the people.” “…condemn not the things of God (misquote)…The First Book of Nephi (misquote & wrong location)…his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and(misquote & wrong location)…large in stature (wrong location)…an account (21 mentions)…upon the face of the earth (26 mentions)…it came to pass (1,297 mentions)…the land (786 mentions)…the commandments of the Lord (27 mentions)…the foolish imaginations of his heart…Jerusalem (150 mentions)…because of the wickedness of the people (7 mentions)…”
    First Book of Napoleon, (per CES Letter): First Book of Napoleon (correct quote):

    “Condemn not the (writing)…an account…the First Book of Napoleon…upon the face of the earth…it came to pass…the land…their inheritances their gold and silver and…the commandments of the Lord…the foolish imaginations of their hearts…small in stature…Jerusalem…because of the perverse wickedness of the people.” “…condemn not the feebly imitative manner of writing…the First Book of Napoleon…upon the face of the earth (2 mentions)…it came to pass(13 mentions)…their inheritances, their gold and silver (misquote & wrong location)…the land…the commandments of the Lord(2 mentions)…the foolish imaginations of their hearts(1 mention)…because of the perverse wickedness (wrong location, 2 mentions)…small in stature…Jerusalem (5 mentions).”

    Frequent Phrases – Most of these words and short phrases are mentioned hundreds or thousands of times throughout the Book of Mormon. This is the same game CES Letter‘s source played in their previous argument, where they cherry-picked phrases which showed up many times throughout the chapters they were analyzing and claimed that it was symmetrical. There is no logical pattern in cherry-picking a few very common words.

    A simple Google search shows how common these words and phrases are in their library of popular 19th century books:

    Parallel Phrase: Number Of 19th Century Books That Contain This Phrase:

    “Condemn not the” 
    “The First Book of” 
    “Upon the face of the earth” 
    “It came to pass” 
    “The land” 
    Inheritance… gold and… silver and 
    “the commandments of the Lord” 
    “foolish imaginations of”… heart 
    “in stature” 
    Jerusalem 
    “because of the”… wickedness 
    2,750 
    128,000 
    135,000 
    149,000 
    1,470,000 
    24,700 
    39,600 
    386 
    93,800 
    749,000 
    41,100

     
     
    The phrase “it came to pass” shows up 1,297 times within the Book of Mormon and 1.5 million times in other 19th century books. You are really going to try to frame that as a parallel? There is only one true parallel: “The foolish imaginations of his/their heart(s).” This only shows up 386 times in Google’s collection of 19th century books, though that does not include books from the 18th century or older, or more obscure books. You are really going to claim based on one tiny parallel phrase that this book reads and sounds like the Book of Mormon, with the same parallels and themes?

    Different ContextsCES Letter picks from The First Book of Napoleon: “their inheritances their gold and silver and.” But this is a phony quote. That’s not what it says. Here is what the book actually says, in context:

    “And they moreover smote, with mighty wrath, the king’s guards, and banished the priests, and nobles of the land, and seized upon, and took unto themselves, their inheritances, their gold and silver, corn and oil, and whatsoever belonged unto them.”

    Compare this with the Book of Mormon:

    “And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.”

    Completely different contexts, language, and themes. Notice how CES Letter added the word “and” to the end, after “silver,” then erased all the commas, and snipped it completely out of context, to make it sound more similar to the Book of Mormon quote. Truth is, they are totally different quotes.

    Why Would Joseph Smith Do This? – Why would someone creating a hoax book of scripture steal short, common phrases from some random book printed in London, with totally different contexts but in the same order? Did Joseph Smith note down a handful of common words and phrases that he thought was cool and then ensure he included them in the Book of Mormon in the same order? How and why would he do that?

    Joseph Smith Never Saw This Book – How did he come across this book printed in a different continent 3,500 miles away? This is a goofy and nonsensical narrative for how the Book of Mormon was created. The First Book of Napoleon was a random book that was published in London. There is no evidence Joseph Smith ever came across it, or that it made its way to New York at all.

    CES Letter Logical Fallacies

    Falsehood Almost all of the alleged parallels are false quotes, misplaced, or common phrases within the book. CES Letter misquotes both the Book of Mormon and the First Book of Napoleon, and presents them completely out of context alongside each other, with both words and punctuation altered to appear more similar. They also present the phrases and words in incorrect order.

    CES Letter does not give the full title of the book: The First Book of Napoleon, the Tyrant of the Earth: Written in the 5813th Year of the World, and 1809th Year of the Christian Era. They want it to sound more similar to The Book of Mormon: The First Book of Napoleon.

    Shifting Goalposts In their previous argument, CES Letter portrayed an association between Joseph Smith and the author of the book; it was printed kinda close to where he lived. Flimsy as this is, they suggested this means Joseph Smith copied the book. This time, CES Letter doesn’t even try to imply an association. That’s because it was printed in London 3,500 miles away, and it almost certainly never made its way to Joseph Smith.

    The study where CES Letter took this narrative from found that the Spaulding Manuscript is no more similar to the Book of Mormon than any random book. Yet CES Letter used a map from Vernal Holley’s book that pushes this phony narrative for a previous argument.

    Cherry-picking Anyone can cherry-pick a few idiosyncrasies that were common 200 years ago and draw a conspiracy theory relationship between the two random books. In a study, Jeff Lindsay found many striking parallels between the book Leaves of Grass and the Book of Mormon. Only problem? The Book of Mormon was published 20 years earlier.
    Confirmation Bias All of the alleged parallels are in wildly different contexts, and many exist because both books happen to reference the bible.

    CES Letter quotes the first chapter of First Book of Napoleon and says it is “fascinating” and “shocking” how similar it sounds to the Book of Mormon. That’s because it uses older language from the 19th century. Lots of books did.

    Dramatic Language CES Letter uses dramatic phraseology to boost their credibility: “I was floored,” “shocking,” “fascinated.”
    Non-sequiter CES Letter claims their quotes “read and sound like the Book of Mormon but which also carry so many of its parallels and themes as well.” It is debatable whether a handful of short, common phrases from totally different context qualify as such. But CES Letter certainly never shows parallel themes.
    Repetition “Read and sound” are redundant
    Etymology Fallacy CES Letter includes verse numbers in the quote from First Book of Napoleon and says it sounds like the Book of Mormon. But the first printing of the Book of Mormon did not have verse numbers.
    Big Lie Tactic – Like previous arguments, the narrative is hokey and unbelievable, but the audience is not supposed to actually believe it. The reader thinks, “Maybe Jospeh Smith read this book and it influenced him, maybe not. Who knows?” The point of this argument is not to convince us that Joseph Smith ripped off the themes for the Book of Mormon, but to associate Joseph Smith with “tyrant of the earth” Napoleon Bonaparte. That is what really makes this argument effective. Even if you walk away shaking your heads at the claim that Joseph Smith stole themes, you still associate him now with supremacist violence. Thus, CES Letter pushes their Big Lie about Mormons are bigots. Take a closer look at the first chapter that they quote and claim sounds like the Book of Mormon:

    4. And the evil spirit went abroad amongst the people, and they raged like unto the heathen, and they rose up against their lawful king, and slew him, and his queen also, and the prince their son; yea, verily, with a cruel and bloody death.
    5. And they moreover smote, with mighty wrath, the king’s guards, and banished the priests, and nobles of the land, and seized upon, and took unto themselves, their inheritances, their gold and silver, corn and oil, and whatsoever belonged unto them.

    CES Letter remarks, “It’s like reading from the Book of Mormon.” Now, why did CES Letter choose this book to compare to the Book of Mormon, rather than the tens of thousands of other 19th century books that happen into include common phrases from the Book of Mormon? Think about it. They just got done doing the same thing with a book about the American Revolution, and they cherry-picked a bunch of phony parallels that made the Book of Mormon sound racist and colonial-minded. They are continuing this same frame here, with a quote about people raging against a “lawful king” and stealing their property. They say this sounds like the Book of Mormon. Raging like the heathen against a lawful king? Where does that happen in the Book of Mormon?

    This argument is really about establishing the Book of Mormon as a socially bankrupt book of morals. This argument is about propping Marxism as the correct social order. How terrible of this book, which is suspiciously similar to the Book of Mormon, to condemn the people rising up against a king! We hate kings! The gold, silver, and inheritances belong to the people, not the bourgeois! That is what this argument is really about.

    Fake Science – Here’s what happened: In 2014, some anti-Mormons “analyzed 110,000 books” to find “phrases matched with the Book of Mormon.” They found a bunch of matches in a random book called “the First Book of Napoleon.”

    The problem with this approach is that books share random phrases all the time, especially if they are both based on bible language, which these two books are. Pick any random phrase from the Book of Mormon; for example, Alma 32:16- “blessed are they who humble themselves.” Google search this exact phrase for 19th century books. The result is at least three non-Mormon books: The Divine Word Opened. Sermons. (Third Edition.), The Family Fire-side Book: Or, Monuments of Temperance, The American Temperance Magazine, and Sons of Temperance. Does that mean Joseph Smith stole this phrase from one of these books?

    So, this approach only looks for coincidences and does nothing to show how one book might be related to the other.

    Contradiction Strategy – Yet the only parallels are a handful of common phrases like “an account” and “it came to pass.” Pretty sad. CES Letter risks this clownish argument because it is so necessary for them to set a negative narrative for how Joseph Smith fabricated the Book of Mormon. The surrounding arguments attack faith and promote fake science, and they only work if the reader gets an explanation for how Joseph Smith fabricated it, as flimsy as this explanation is.

    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 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.

    Did The Book ‘Late War Between The United States & Great Britain’ Influence The Book Of Mormon?

    “This was an 1819 textbook written in King James Version style language for New York state school children, one of them very likely being Joseph Smith. The first chapter alone is stunning as it reads incredibly like the Book of Mormon…

    Along with the above KJV language style presence throughout the book, what are the following Book of Mormon phrases, verbatim, themes, and storylines doing in a children’s school textbook that was used in Joseph Smith’s own time and backyard? A mere decade before the publication of the Book of Mormon?… The staggering parallels and similarities to the Book of Mormon are astounding.”

    Here’s what happened: In 2014, some anti-Mormons “analyzed 110,000 books” to find “phrases matched with the Book of Mormon.” They found a bunch of matches in a random book called The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain. They concluded: “Joseph Smith read this book, and then some things were kind of ruminating, he had some ideas, and then he kind of remixed it, and he had a cool story.”

    The problem with this approach is that books share random phrases all the time, especially if they are both based on bible language, which these two books are. Pick any random phrase from the Book of Mormon; for example, Alma 32:16- “blessed are they who humble themselves.” Google search this exact phrase for 19th century books. The result is at least three non-Mormon books: The Divine Word Opened. Sermons. (Third Edition.), The Family Fire-side Book: Or, Monuments of Temperance, The American Temperance Magazine, and Sons of Temperance. Does that mean Joseph Smith stole this phrase from one of these books?

    So, this approach only looks for coincidences and does nothing to show how one book might be related to the other. Well, let’s go through each of the Book of Mormon phrases and themes that CES Letter claims relates to the book Late War :

    • Devices of “curious workmanship” in relation to boats and weapons.
      The phrase “of curious workmanship” was a common idiosyncrasy in the 19th century. A Google Search results in hundreds of non-Mormon books from that era. Late War talks about a sword “of curious workmanship,” European weapons of war, and steam boats. The Book of Mormon talks about engravings of curious workmanship, timberwork, “all manner of work”, and the Liahona. Totally different things.
  • A “stripling” soldier “with his “weapon of war in his hand.”
    Late War uses “stripling” as a noun, not as an adjective as CES Letter portrays it. That is a misquote. The word “stripling” is not associated with the word “soldier” like it is in the Book of Mormon. CES Letter adds another quotation mark after the word “soldier” to make it seem like this is the context, but this is a lie. Fact is, the word “stripling” was common in the 19th century, and thousands of non-Mormon books use the word.

    The phrase “weapon of war in his hand” does not appear in the Book of Mormon, or anything similar to it. Another misquote. So this alleged parallel is completely bogus, a total fabrication.

  • “A certain chief captain…was given in trust a band of more than two thousand chosen men, to go forth to battle” and who “all gave their services freely for the good of their country.”
    Clever of CES Letter to locate this alleged parallel after the “stripling” parallel, to make them seem related. But the word “stripling” is not at all related to the “two thousand” men mentioned in Late War. The two thousand men are also not the ones who “gave their services freely for the good of their country.” That phrase appears hundreds of pages later in a totally different context, regarding a couple New York commissioners. The group of more than two thousand men are briefly mentioned and have no resemblance to the 2,000 stripling young warriors in the Book of Mormon.

    A Google search finds thousands of non-Mormon 19th century books about “two thousand” men, soldiers, warriors, young men, and stripling warriors.

  • Fortifications: “the people began to fortify themselves and entrench the high Places round about the city.”
    I’m not sure why this is a problem. Two books about wars and battles happen to mention fortifications? Gee, shocker. Late War talks about citizens fortifying their homes from foreign attack, with only two mentions. The Book of Mormon mentions fortifying twenty-one times, in context of soldiers fortifying cities and strongholds. There is no original mention in the Book of Mormon about entrenchment or “high places.” Again, I don’t know why this parallel is significant, as two books about war would be expected to talk about fortifications.
  • Objects made “partly of brass and partly of iron, and were cunningly contrived with curious works, like unto a clock; and as it were a large ball.”
    Why doesn’t CES Letter say what “objects” of brass the book is talking about? Maybe because it was describing torpedoes, which obviously weren’t mentioned in the Book of Mormon, an object completely different from the Liahona. I assume CES Letter thinks this is similar to the Book of Mormons description of the Liahona? Even though it really isn’t similar. The Liahoa was only made of brass–not iron, and was not described as cunningly contrived or with curious works, or like a clock. CES Letter already mentioned “curious workmanship” in the first alleged parallel, so again, what is this phrase supposed to be similar to?
  • “Their polished steels of fine workmanship.”
    The “steels” that are mentioned in Late War are muskets with bayonets on the ends. It was talking about guns, not the metal steel. The Book of Mormon obviously does not mention muskets or bayonets. But it is actually an interesting coincidence that “steels” are described as “of fine workmanship,” which is similar to Nephi’s description of Laban’s “precious steel” sword: “the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.” There are only a few hundred 19th century books in Google’s library that mention steel of fine workmanship.
  • “Nevertheless, it was so that the freeman came to the defence of the city, built strong holds and forts and raised up fortifications in abundance.”
    Repeat of the phony “fortifications” parallel.
  • Three Indian Prophets.
    False. The reason CES Letter doesn’t quote Late War directly is because this isn’t what it says. It says, “…a town built upon a place called by the savages the Holy-Ground, where three of the Indian prophets dwelt. Now there were lying prophets among the savages, even as there were in the days of old…” Three of the Indian prophets. Not three in total. It is a ridiculous stretch to compare this with the Three Nephites in the Book of Mormon. They are not at all the same.
  • “Rod of iron.”
    The “rod of iron” in the Late War is a quote from the bible, nothing like the iron rod in the Book of Mormon. “Then we will rule them with a rod of iron.” Thousands of 19th century books talk about a “rod of iron,” because this is from the bible.
  • War between the wicked and righteous.
    There is only one mention of a “righteous” military leader or soldier in Late War, an American who treated British soldiers of war well. “Now Perry was a righteous man, and like the good Samaritan, took care of the halt and maimed.” I’m not sure how this relates to the Book of Mormon. Because some military leaders are nice and some not nice? That’s every book about war.
  • Maintaining the standard of liberty with righteousness.
    No mention of a “standard of liberty.” I don’t find any mention of defending a standard, or flag, or insignia, or maintaining it with righteousness. I don’t know what CES Letter is referring to here. The only thing that comes close is a “great multitude” of Canadians who “flocked to the banners” of Columbia’s army.
  • Righteous Indians vs. savage Indians.
    There is only one mention of an “Indian” in Late War–the false Indian prophets that we saw in the previous phony parallel. So I’m not sure what CES Letter is referring to here. The “savages” mentioned are not distinguished by race. There are British savages, American savages, Native American savages. There is no mention of a “righteous” Indian or Indian people. So this parallel is completely bogus.
  • False Indian prophets
    Repeat of the previous phony parallel about “Three Indian Prophets.” CES Letter mentions they are false prophets this time in order to make it look like the previous mention was of true prophets, which it wasn’t. So CES Letter is basically lying.
  • Conversion of Indians
    A history book about early America mentions Indians being converted to Christianity? Gee, what a shocker.
  • Bands of robbers/pirates marauding the righteous protagonists.
    There is only two mentions of “robbers” in Late War: “A band of sea-robbers and pirates… ready to assist the men of Britain.” And, “the robbers of the king” who sacked an American town. There are no pirates in the Book of Mormon, and the Gadianton Robbers are not part of the Lamanites.

    “Band of robbers” was a common phrase in the 19th century, appearing in thousands of books.

  • Brass plates
    No mention of brass plates or any writings having to do with brass in Late War. This is a completely bogus parallel. The only mention of brass objects are the torpedoes mentioned in the previous phony parallel.
  • “And it came to pass, that a great multitude flocked to the banners of the great Sanhedrim” compared to Alma 62:5: “And it came to pass that thousands did flock unto his standard, and did take up their swords in defense of their freedom…”
    This is a repetition of the earlier phony argument about the “standard of liberty.” The context is completely different. Citizens of Canada “flocked” to the “banners” of Columbia’s army as they marched through. In the Book of Mormon, men “flocked” to a “standard” to join an army. A Google search finds thousands of 19th century books that mention many people flocking to a banner, flag, or standard.
  • Worthiness of Christopher Columbus
    We would expect a history book about early America to talk about Christopher Columbus. Late War says of Christopher Columbus: “As the righteous man struggleth against wickedness, so did he against ignorance and stupidity. Nevertheless… he crossed the waters of the mighty deep.” This is nothing like the Book of Mormon describes him. All it says is the Spirit of God “wrought upon the man.” Nothing about worthiness.
  • Ships crossing the ocean.
    A history book talks about ships crossing oceans? Shocking!
  • A battle at a fort where righteous white protagonists are attacked by an army made up of dark-skinned natives driven by a white military leader. White protagonists are prepared for battle and slaughter their opponents to such an extent that they fill the trenches surrounding the fort with dead bodies. The surviving elements flee into the wilderness/forest.
    I guess this is supposed to be similar to Amalickiah, a Nephite who led Lamanite forces against the Nephites? Well, I don’t find in Late War where this battle happened. Captain Woolbine “the white savage” maybe? But I don’t find the rest of what CES Letter talks about here, nor do I see how it compares to the Book of Mormon. Captain Woolbine was British, not an American traitor. Amalickiah’s people were not slaughtered filling up a trench.
  • Cataclysmic earthquake followed by great darkness
    There is no mention of a great darkness or earthquake in Late War. All I find is a shadow from the smoke of guns filling the air in a battle amidst the roar of cannons. What does this have to do with the earthquakes and natural disasters in the Book of Mormon?
  • Elephants/mammoths in America
    Late War does not mention elephants. But it does mention “the huge mammoth that once moved on the borders of the river Hudson.” Which is true. The mammoth did roam the borders of the Hudson thousands of years ago. But the Book of Mormon does not mention mammoths. So… how is this a parallel?
  • Literary Hebraisms/Chiasmus
    The alleged Chiasmus structure is bogus. They include a bunch of phrases that never exist, compare phrases that are not at all simiar, combine parts of different verses, and include phrases that show up dozens or hundreds of times throughout the book.



A true chiasmus is a symmetrical structure of distinct phrases. Hickory, dickory, dock. The mouse ran up the clock. The clock struck one, the mouse ran down. Hickory, dickory, dock. You can’t just cherry-pick common words like “their” and “unto”, which show up many times throughout the vast three chapters that you are analyzing, and claim that it is symmetrical. The chiasmus structures within the Book of Mormon are distinct phrases or closely related phrases that don’t show up elsewhere, such as “the natural man” and “becometh as children.”

  • Boats and barges built from trees after the fashion of the ark.
    The reference to Noah’s ark in View of the Hebrews is actually regarding “steam-boats.” Where does the Book of Mormon talk about steam boats? There is a totally different reference to “vessels” made of trees, which were ships carrying “an hundred of the engines of death.” No mention of barges. Not comparable to the Book of Mormon.
  • A bunch of “it came to pass”
    “It came to pass” shows up 76 times in View of the Hebrews. It shows up 1,449 times in the Book of Mormon. That’s 19 times more frequent in the Book of Mormon. Many thousands of 19th century books use the phrase “it came to pass,” as it is a common bible phrase.
Extensive computer analysis proves Late War has more in common with other books, such as The American Revolution by Richard Snowden, published in 1823.

Late War shares 70 phrases that are 4-9 words long with the Book of Mormon, but shares 382 with American Revolution.

Topics are much more militaristic and less religious than the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon uses twice as much archaic English words, and three times as many distinguishing phrases similar to the bible. The Book of Mormon has a lot in common with the bible–style, structure, and language– and much less in common with Late War. The similarities between Late War and the bible are exaggerations, such as extensive use of the phrase “the Lord” that don’t really fit the same context. If Joseph Smith had ripped off a rip-off of the bible, we would expect more exaggeration of selected phrases, not less.

Oh, did I mention there is zero evidence that Joseph Smith came in contact with the book Late War or could have possibly had access to it?

See also: Scriptural Style in Early Nineteenth Century American Literature

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood Some of the allegedly parallel phrases from Late War don’t appear in the Book of Mormon, or they aren’t actual Late War quotes. Brass plates are not mentioned. Great darkness is not mentioned. Barges and “stripling” soldiers” are not mentioned. Other parallels are greatly twisted. For example, the “worthiness of Christopher Columbus” is not mentioned in either book, though some aspect of Columbus is.

CES Letter references Hebraisms and chiasmus in Late War, but the chiasmus revealed in their source is fake.

CES Letter‘s claim that Late War “was used in Joseph Smith’s own time and backyard” is false. It was printed in New York city, but there is no evidence the book made it anywhere near where Joseph Smith grew up or was living.

Shifting Goalposts In a previous argument, CES Letter claimed there were no elephants in North America in Nephite times. They refuse to admit that a mention of one animal could mean something similar. But now they frame Late War‘s (correct) claim that Mammoths once roamed the Hudson river as equivalent to saying there were elephants in America. So, now suddenly CES Letter admits that the Book of Mormon claim of elephants is actually a reference to an elephant-like animal?

The study where CES Letter took this narrative from found that the Spaulding Manuscript is no more similar to the Book of Mormon than any random book. Yet CES Letter used a map from Vernal Holley’s book that pushes this phony narrative for a previous argument.

Cherry-picking Anyone can cherry-pick a few idiosyncrasies that were common 200 years ago and draw a conspiracy theory relationship between the two random books. In a study, Jeff Lindsay found many striking parallels between the book Leaves of Grass and the Book of Mormon. Only problem? The Book of Mormon was published 20 years earlier.
Confirmation Bias All of the alleged parallels are in wildly different contexts, and many exist because both books happen to reference the bible and Christianity among the American Indians in colonial times.
Etymology Fallacy “stripling” soldier “ Is it just coincidence that CES Letter made a grammar error and added that quotation mark after the word soldier, so that it incorrectly seems like “stripling soldiers” are mentioned in Late War? Nah, couldn’t be.
Guilt By Association CES Letter stresses alleged parallels having to do with racism: “Righteous Indians vs. savage Indians,” “False Indian prophets,” “Worthiness of Christopher Columbus,” “righteous white protagonists are attacked by an army made up of dark-skinned natives driven by a white military leader. White protagonists are prepared for battle and slaughter their opponents to such an extent that they fill the trenches surrounding the fort with dead bodies.” Whites are righteous and Indians are savage apostates. This isn’t really how Late War portrays history, and it certainly isn’t how the Book of Mormon explains it. CES Letter frames Late War this way to incriminate the Book of Mormon as racist.

The school textbook Late War was published in New York city, which is kinda close to where the Book of Mormon was translated, but there is zero evidence that the book made its way to upstate New York or that Joseph Smith had any contact with it. Even if someone does find evidence that it was used in school, Joseph Smith dropped out of school in the third grade. So how would he come across this textbook?

Dramatic Language To boost their credibility, CES Letter calls their alleged parallels “astounding,” “staggering,” “devastating,” “must sober of perspective.”
Non-sequiter A history textbook about the early United States would be expected to talk about Christopher Columbus. How is this evidence of a relationship with the Book of Mormon?
Big Lie Tactic – Like previous arguments, the narrative is hokey and unbelievable, but the audience is not supposed to actually believe it. The reader thinks, “Maybe Jospeh Smith read this textbook and it influenced him, maybe not. Who knows?” The point of this argument is not to convince us that Joseph Smith ripped off the writing style for the Book of Mormon, but to associate Joseph Smith with racism and colonialism. That is what really makes this argument effective. Even if you walk away shaking your heads at the claim that Joseph Smith stole themes, you still associate him now with racial supremacy. Thus, CES Letter establishes their Big Lie that Mormons are bigots.

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, and that science proves that Joseph Smith was a racial supremacist. 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 there is no physical evidence for the Book of Mormon claims. This one singular lie leads to further lies that attack one’s testimony of the gospel. In this argument, that first lie intersects with a next big lie, which is that Joseph Smith was a racist.

CES Letter uses two classic Nazi propaganda tactics to set up this Big Lie: sharpshooter fallacy and glittering words. They cherry-pick few pieces of evidence out of context to ‘prove’ a sweeping conspiracy theory, and then they reinforce their allegation with emotional language.

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 Mormon. One of the Book of Mormon’s strengths is its consistent originality of themes, stories, theology, and geography. By constraining the context of the argument, swinging back and forth between too much contradiction to too little contradiction, CES Letter makes their clownish argument sound almost reasonable, almost scientific.

In previous arguments, CES Letter demanded that Mormons validate every single thing mentioned in the Book of Mormon 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, 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 Mormon, which by all appearances is a miracle. How did a 14 year old boy come up with such imaginative themes? Easy. He stole it from his school textbook (even though he wasn’t in school). 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.

This argument reaches fully into conspiracy theory land, as there is zero evidence that this school textbook made its way to upstate New York, and even if it did, Joseph Smith was not in school. Even if he had read it, the parallels are so flimsy and contrived, it is ridiculous to speculate anyone would copy a few elements or phrases in such wildly different contexts. The narrative just doesn’t make sense.

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 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.

Did ‘View Of The Hebrews’ Influence Themes In Joseph Smith’s Book Of Mormon?

“Reverend Ethan Smith was the author of View of the Hebrews… Oliver Cowdery – also a Poultney, Vermont resident – was a member of Ethan’s congregation during this time and before he went to New York to join his cousin (third cousins) Joseph Smith.” (CES Letter)

CES Letter lists 34 parallels between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon, such as Americas being uninhabited before Hebrews arrived. But the differences between these books are very significant. CES Letter clips out the differences that B.H. Roberts listed and only shows his negative assessment.

False Parallels – Many of the 34 parallels are false when viewed in context. For example, the Book of Mormon never actually claims that the Americas were uninhabited before Hebrews arrived, and in fact gives many indications that there were other civilizations already there. So this parallel is false.

CES Letter claims parallels include Hebrews traveling to the New World, encountering seas, and becoming the origins of the American Indians. But actually, View of the Hebrews tells of migrants coming over the Bering Strait on dry land, not over seas. If Joseph Smith had copied the View of the Hebrews, then it would actually undercut CES Letter‘s DNA argument against the Book of Mormon.

CES Letter claims parallels include Hebrew as the origin of the Indian language. This is false.

CES Letter claims parallels include “Quetzalcoatl, the white bearded ‘Mexican Messiah.'” False. View of the Hebrews actually says Quetzalcoatl was Moses, not Jesus. The only major parallel is a Hebrew origin of American Indians, and View of the Hebrews points out many other evidences for this claim which the Book of Mormon doesn’t touch. Why would Joseph Smith take a few evidences from View of the Hebrews and ignore a bunch of others?

Many of the parallel claims are mundane to the point of not worth considering. “Scattering of Israel.” “Pride denounced.” Gee, two religious books just happen to denounce pride and talk about Israel? Shocking!

The reason why some loose parallels exist is because View of the Hebrews recognized that American Indians had something to do with the Hebrews, and this is something the Book of Mormon explains in detail. “Extensive military fortifications” and “idolatry” are natural observations that many people made about the Native Americans, and multiple explorers pointed out the Natives’ parallels to Hebrews.

See also: View of the Hebrews: An Unparallel

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood CES Letter incorrectly lists Sharon, Vermont as the location of the 1830 Book of Mormon. This is false. Joseph Smith was born in Vermont, but the Book of Mormon was first published in Palmyra New York, a good distance away.

Many of these parallels are just false. The Messiah did not visit the Americas in View of the Hebrews. Quetzalcoatl was not the Messiah in that book.

The CES Letter claim that B.H. Robert’s research into the parallels between the books was “private,” “meant only for the eyes of the First Presidency,” and “never intended to be available to the public” is totally false.

Cherry-picking CES Letter cherry-picks a handful of very loose parallels and arranges them on a chart to suggest very specific coincidences. One after another, each “parallel” is skewed and twisted. Here is the first part of the chart:

Both books had first editions? Unbelievable, wow. I find that shocking.

Next parallel, publication location in Vermont? As we already discussed, that is a lie.

Next parallel, the destruction of Jerusalem? View of the Hebrews talks about the “destruction of Israel by Romans,” and the Book of Mormon talks about the destruction by Assyria many years earlier. Totally different contexts.

Next parallel, the scattering of Israel? The only mention of “scattering” in View of the Hebrews is the “scattering into different tribes” of Indians on the American continent from a single source “from the north”, the Bering Strait, which the Book of Mormon does not claim.

Anyone can cherry-pick a few idiosyncrasies that were common 200 years ago and draw a conspiracy theory relationship between the two random books. In a study, Jeff Lindsay found many striking parallels between the book Leaves of Grass and the Book of Mormon. Only problem? The Book of Mormon was published 20 years earlier.

Confirmation Bias The “parallels” ignore wildly different contexts between the two books. Most similarities are because both happen to reference the bible and Native Americans together.
Guilt By Association Oliver Cowdery was a small child when he lived in Ethan Smith’s (author of View of the Hebrews) home town. There is no evidence Joseph Smith had anything to do with Ethan Smith’s book. CES Letter implies Joseph Smith may have come across the book because he lived kinda close and there are kinda some parallels. CES Letter arranges the “parallels” to deceptively invent a relationship.

CES Letter stresses alleged parallels having to do with racism: “A unity of race,” “two classes, civilized and barbarous,” “Barbarous exterminate the civilized.” This isn’t really how either book frames things. CES Letter frames it this way to incriminate the Book of Mormon as racist.

Fake Science – In previous arguments, CES Letter demanded that Mormons validate every single thing mentioned in the Book of Mormon 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 book that happens to mention Hebrew influences on the Native American. Why shouldn’t CES Letter have to validate every single comparison, if that narrative is true? Wouldn’t that be scientific?

One of the Book of Mormon’s strengths is its consistent originality of themes, stories, theology, and geography. By constraining the context of the argument, swinging back and forth between too much contradiction to too little contradiction, CES Letter makes this clownish argument sound almost reasonable, almost scientific.

CES Letter thus begins to set a frame for how Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon, which by all appearances is a miracle. How did a 14 year old boy come up with such imaginative themes? Easy. He stole it. 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. They build a narrative how Joseph Smith created the Book of Mormon as an imaginative work of fiction, like the Captain Kidd dime novels which they incorrectly claim Joseph Smith read as a kid.

Logically, shouldn’t this be an argument in support of the Book of Mormon? Think about it. If the Hebrews were really an influence that migrated into ancient America, shouldn’t someone else besides the Mormons noticed the similarities? Well it turns out they did. Many people did, especially early Spanish explorers, but for some reason we don’t hear about it today.

Contradiction StrategyLike before, CES Letter uses a member of the Mormon church to attack the church. The attack is always more powerful when it comes from a member, which is why anti-Mormons so often pretend to be faithful latter day saints and sow dissension inside the church. B.H. Roberts, no less! This appeals subtly to the bandwagon fallacy, where we get the impression that all the smart people in the church are changing their minds about its truthfulness. We think, “Even the leaders on my side are pointing out the contradictions! I must really have it wrong.” This tactic also insulates the anti-Mormons from counter-attacks from faithful Mormons, because it is not them saying these things, why, it is the Mormon experts admitting it. B. H. Roberts!

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.

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 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.