The Bible versus The Book of Mormon

Thanks to Brant Gardner for the valuable essay, “Behind the Mask, Behind the Curtain: Uncovering the Illusion” at It’s a rebuttal to Living Hope Ministries’ latest misinformation campaign about the Book of Mormon, the film The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon.

In spite of my respect for Brant, I do strenuously object to his comparison of the anti-Mormon video to a slick magic show. As an amateur magician, I think he gives too much credit to the producers of this latest video. A slick magic show leaves one entertained, even uplifted with its artistry, and leaves even highly educated people wondering how the effects could possibly be done. Should I believe that regurgitating old and long-exposed anti-Mormon deceptions will have that effect? While it will fool the gullible, it is easily exposed and offers none of the charm of a serious magic show.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

31 thoughts on “The Bible versus The Book of Mormon

  1. You think that’s bad? Walter Martin’s daughter and son-in-law are perpetuating his anti-Mormon myths. Just search for “walter martin”.

    Robert L and Rosemary Brown expose and skewer the phony “Dr.” Martin in volumes 2 and 3 of their “They Lie in Wait to Deceive” series.

    I purchased the 4 volume set from FAIRLDS bookstore.

    The Browns do an excellent detailed job with transcripts of Martin’s radio addresses and photocopies of documents and letters.

    I think the “They Lie in Wait to Deceive” series deserves a place on every LDS apologist’s bookshelf.

  2. The really pitiful thing is that Tom Murphy, after being criticized for his appearance in Living Hope’s video on DNA and the Book of Mormon, claimed that he didn’t know Living Hope’s agenda and how his interview footage would be used. Yet here he is, only a few years later, allowing them to “use” him again.

    The smell you just detected is Murphy’s new brand of cologne: “Disingenuous.”

  3. Now, now! It took a lot of courage for Tom Murphy to play that role in this latest movie – especially given the risk that the producers might not actually turn out to be objective seekers of scientific truth (hey, what are the odds that they would dare to fool him TWICE?). Let’s at least give him credit for courage – isn’t that what it’s all about?

  4. Oh, dear. I’m afraid if someone doesn’t read the previous post re: Brokeback Mountain they’re just not going to get Mormanity’s last comment.

  5. Even coming from a born-again point-of-view, I would say that there is some “leaving out of pertinent facts” going on. However, that doesn’t change the fact of what the Church’s (I know, there isn’t an official one) position has been in the past. And that which most Latter-day Saints have held, even up to the doorstep of this decade. The point of the quotes below aren’t to say what the Church or its scholars currently hold.

    I found the following when I searched under “origin of American Indians” at (sorry that it will make for such a long post; I didn’t want to pull things out of their context as much as possible [unlike others among my brethren]). By the way, there needs to be an LDS word for “googled” at, like “I’m going to Coriantumr and see if this or that and so on” or “I found this after I Lehied the whole site.” Just a side thought and an attempt to inject humor into my post: :o)

    “Elder Mark E. Petersen, a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, wrote: ‘As the ancient Israelites suffered a dispersion which sprinkled them among all the nations, so the descendants of Laman and Lemuel [sons of Lehi] were sifted over the vast areas of the western hemisphere. They are found from pole to pole’ (Children of Promise, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1981, p. 31; emphasis added). Many migratory groups came to the Americas, but none was as important as the three mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The blood of these people flows in the veins of the Blackfoot and the Blood Indians of Alberta, Canada; in the Navajo and the Apache of the American Southwest; the Inca of western South America; the Aztec of Mexico; the Maya of Guatemala; and in other native American groups in the Western Hemisphere and the Pacific islands” (Ted E. Brewerton, “The Book of Mormon: A Sacred Ancient Record,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 30).

    “This process of redeeming the Lamanite people has been far from easy, especially for the Lamanites themselves. For a thousand years after the closing of the Book of Mormon record, these people wandered in spiritual darkness and were scattered upon the American continents and the isles of the sea…When Columbus came, these descendants of the Book of Mormon peoples and those with whom they had mixed numbered in the millions and covered the islands of the Pacific and the Americas from Point Barrow to Tierra del Fuego. But the conquerors found a prey, and in the land southward they robbed and despoiled and slaughtered in the name of gold and silver. In the land northward the 400-year “Battle of America” drove the tribal nations, much reduced in numbers, into the far corners of desolate lands. The peoples of the isles of the sea were corrupted by European and American seaman adventurers and were reduced nearly to extinction by disease…I rejoice that it has been my privilege to carry the gospel to the Lamanites from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, from the reaches of Canada to southern Chile, and in the islands from Hawaii to New Zealand” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Our Paths Have Met Again,” Ensign, Dec. 1975, 2).

    “Joseph Smith did not have many opportunities himself to directly teach the descendants of the Book of Mormon peoples. On one occasion, however, he was called upon by the Indian chief Keokuk. It was the summer of 1841 in Nauvoo…Elder B. H. Roberts gives the following account of this visit: ‘They were brought over from the Iowa side…President Smith addressed the Indians at some length, upon what the Lord had revealed to him concerning their forefathers, and recited to them the promises contained in the Book of Mormon respecting themselves’…Those who came west with the Saints carried with them a vision of the redemption of the Lamanites. The mission in Hawaii was opened in 1850, and several years later the work was extended to the Lamanites in New Zealand. In his prayer, Elder Ballard made this reference to the work that would be done among the Lamanites in the South American lands: ‘And we also pray that we may see the beginning of the fulfilment of thy promises contained in the Book of Mormon to the Indians of this land, who are descendants of Lehi, millions of whom reside in this country, who have long been downtrodden and borne many afflictions and suffered because of sin and transgression, even as the prophets of the Book of Mormon did foretell’…One of the unique programs sponsored by the Church for Lamanite members in the United States is the Indian Student Placement Program. Through this program, thousands of Indian boys and girls have been taken into the homes of non-Indian Church members” (Dean L. Larsen, “Mingled Destinies: The Lamanites and the Latter-day Saints,” Ensign, Dec. 1975, 8).

    “After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians” (Book of Mormon introduction).

    Ok, have at it, friends. :o)

  6. Quite the call to arms, friend! Ah well, I’m just appreciative that you’re not a fire-breathing critic of the blathering brand (those who’ve been around know what I’m talking about).

    Your quotes make an excellent for the argument that there not ISN’T an official position–there wan’t one either. The Joseph Smith quote is especially illustrative, in that (as has been stated elsewhere) he appeared to accept a Mesoamerican landing point for Lehi. Concerning BOM geography, Joseph F. Smith said that “the Lord had not revealed it.”

    Now, as to the other quotes, I believe a strong case can be (and has been) made that the descendants spoken of here are better viewed through the lens of adoption into the house of Lehi/Manasseh/ergo Israel. If one accepts the gospel covenant, one becomes a Lehite in the same way that any member of the Church becomes an Israelite when s/he gets baptized. This is strongly supported by Christ’s sermon to the Nephites in 3 Nephi chapts. 20-21.

    Some may reject this explanation as a grasp to save a dying geographical model. However, I think it intellectually unfair to disregard other possible explanations in an effort to either discredit or prop up Mormonism. I say let’s look at all the possibilities–the truth will manifest itself.

  7. I saw an interesting show on PBS Thursday night. They researched the DNA of some famous African Americans, including Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg and others.

    The narrator of the show said his DNA was 50% african and 50% european. He didn’t realize he was so much European.

    Oprah Winfrey’s had 0% European, 80-some percent African, and the rest American Indian and Asian.

    The narrator considered himself to be, and clearly appeared to be African American. And his 50/50 DNA, half African and half European backed that up.

    But here’s the kicker. His Y chromosome was 100% European. And his mitochondrial DNA was 100% European.

    That meant someone in his patrilineal line (line of his fathers going back) was European, and that someone in his matrilineal line (line of his mothers going back) was European.

    In other words, his Y-chromosome and his mtDNA showed ZERO African heritage, even though 50% of his ancestors were clearly African.

    This illustrates the fallacy of Southerton’s DNA study saying American Indians can’t possibly be descended of Hebrews.

    Your Y chromosome, and mtDNA come from only 2 of your many many ancestors.

    The “loss” of the narrator’s African Y chromosome occurred in a certain generation along one line, and the “loss” of the narrator’s African mtDNA occurred in another line, and in another generation.

  8. What about alma 45:14 in response to who were the lamanites? “But whosoever remainth, and is not destroyed in that great and dreadful day, shall be numbered among the lamanites and shall become like unto them, all save it be a few who shall be called the disciples of the lord…” This would cover quite a few of the inhabitants who were on the continents of the americas. Just a thought….

  9. I watched the video when it was linked on another blog site in a Google ad. I was amazed at the extensive use in the video of copyrighted Church art. At the end of the video they make a disclaimer that all such use is “fair use.” I don’t think a court would agree with them. Though I was tempted to make a copy of their video, edit in responses, and redistribute it under their same “fair use” argument.

  10. Respect for copyright law is not one of the hallmarks of anti-Mormons. As one anti-Mormon publisher (or author?) told a friend of mine at a publishers convention a number of years ago, the end justifies the means. I know where that moral paradigm comes from!

  11. I’m really quite shocked. There’s been mention of DNA on this thread, and BYU Alter Ego hasn’t shown up to call Daniel Peterson childish names. What’s wrong? Is he sick?

  12. why me–As I read Alma 45, it seems from the verses in the beginning of the chapter that the “whosoever remaineth” is in reference only to “the seed of those who are now numbered among the people of Nephi” (13), not inhabitants of the entire continent, though I could see that interpretation as being valid as well.

    walker–May it never be that I should ever breath fire! However, it would help with nose hairs. I suppose I may be an enigma among the “born-agains.” Calling a Latter-day Saint a “Mormon” makes me shutter, I understand that temple ceremonies are sacred and not to be made fun of (that goes for garments, too), and I literally cringed and contorted my face while watching “The Godmakers.” What a disgrace! Do I agree with you? No. Do I respect you? Absolutely.

  13. I read the entire article that Brant wrote, and I think he totally missed the point of the film (i.e., The Bible has evidence that shows it’s people, places and certain events can be confirmed, but the BOM has no such evidence, not even a basic level of evidence). He focused on the trees rather than the forest. Not only that, but Brant Gardner is an anthropologist by hobby only. He describes himself as a slightly used anthropologist who has never been a professional anthropologist, and I think it shows through in his essay as well

    Why doesn’t a real professional anthropologist/archeologist issue a review on the film?

  14. I’m not sure. Certainly, FARMS will come out w/something on it.

    One actually needs trees to be able to make a forest. If anything, it appears that the makers of this film are trying to make the trees of Mormonism simply disappear by ignoring them. Please refer to the Old World evidence for the BOM. Please refer to a plethora of evidences already articulated well on jeff’s web page. There’s simply too much for anyone to ever simply say: “there is no evidence, there is no evidence.” Frankly, it wearies readers, it smacks of the talking heads on political news hours.

    What makes this film any better than Farenheit 9/11, OutFoxed (the jab at Fox News), or the documentary villifying WalMart? All of these shows employ “scholars” (though, in this case, scholars misinformed about what the BOM claims) all of them employ individuals “well-acquainted” with the organization in question. All of them have agendas to meet.

    To say that the Bible is well supported is only true on the surface. I refer to the somewhat hackneyed examples of the Exodus–no evidence, though there should be for a movement of some 2 million people. I refer to contemporary accounts of Jesus–next to nihl. We have little evidence to even suggest such a man existed, other than that of a radical preacher of religion upon whom his followers projected a messianic ambiance Don’t get me wrong–I believe in Jesus as the messiah, I’m just saying that we keep our trust in the arm of flesh checked.

  15. Aaron…thanks for the comment. I know what you meant by your comment. It is just that the scripture becomes rather open ended and leaves something to interpretation. I am glad that you can see the possibility of validity in my interpretation as well. Take care!

  16. And your response to the Old World evidence again? (crickets chirping)

    No, pardon the flippancy! As to my comment on biblical evidence, it in no way undermines BOM veracity. It was my diplomatic way of stating that Biblical evidence is exaggerated. The largest mass migration of all time (perhaps 2 million, so some speculate), and we “have no evidence of it all”? Really now, you Bible-believers amuse me (notice the tongue gracefully planted in cheeck).

    And don’t tell me that the Hill Comorah isn’t really the traditional site in NY. James Talmage (Articles of Faith, 14), LeGrand Richards (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, 7), and Bruce McConkie (Mormon Doctrine, Cumorah) say that it’s in NY.

    I won’t. But Joseph Smith will. Surely you are familiar with his declaration that Lehi landed by Darien in Mesoamerica? Other times he speculated a northern hemisphere based geography. To this, I must give you a little surprise: Joseph didn’t know. If he didn’t know there were walls around Jerusalem (see Emma Smith interview), how would he know about Mesoamerica?

    In any case, if the only “problem” you can find is the use of a name whose historical origin is open to debate, I would suggest that you redouble your efforts at research. Surely such a fantastic attempt at historicity should turn up something more juicy more quickly. I suppose that it has. We have cement, Hebrew/Egyptian puns and poetry, Semitic names, and doctrinal nuances.

    Also, primary documentation indicates that Joseph did not even refer to the hill as “Cumorah” until 1842 in an isolated reference, never to be used that way in any of his personal writings. David Whitmer did not know of it 1829. Only after the publication of the BOM was the hill even called Cumorah. This does not even necessitate that this be the hill any more than that Paris, Idaho and Paris, France be the same place.

    As to Richards, McConkie’s, and Talmage’s geography models (the chapter of Richards, by the way is actually chapter 8), I would, without hesitation, question how much these brethren actually knew about the subject of Mesoamerican archaeology. These fine men knew about salvation and about the message of it in the Book of Mormon. I would hope, if Peter came to us, that we would not condemn him for his sub-par grammar or that we would jeer at Moses’ stammering tongue. And if I were you, I would think twice before implying that the Church is covering Cumorah’s sordid past. Surely we have far more urgent skeletons to hide.

    In sum, as I mentioned earlier, as Joseph F. Smith said of BOM geog., “the Lord has not revealed” a geographical model for us.

    You can, if you wish, ignore the evidence as to what makes authoritative statements in this church. I can’t blame you–it is after all far easier that way.

  17. I’m up late working since my children have all gone to sleep and I got sidetracked onto this site somehow.

    I just felt impressed to point out something that I see happening to many Mormons and Christians alike. This bantering back and forth with hidden and not so hidden insults from both sides falls into the realm of “reviling against those that revile against you”. Debating doctrines and/or “proof” of this and that becomes a black hole of time that ultimately does nothing to benefit either party involved and certainly does nothing to bring one closer to the Savior. There is a trap to scholarly (spelling) wisdom as it can bring about pride that pushes us further and further from what the Gospel is all about. How many times has the Lord warned us about this very thing? Don’t get me wrong…this isn’t a lecture by any means. I believe time is a precious gift from God and Satan would love nothing more than to have a group of wise men spend their time debating the merits of their position rather than performing some act of Christlike service that could truly uplift a brother or sister.

  18. I just felt impressed to point out something that I see happening to many Mormons and Christians alike. This bantering back and forth with hidden and not so hidden insults from both sides falls into the realm of “reviling against those that revile against you”

    Point well taken. I need to do better at that.

    As to the remainder of Vessey’s post, I would suggest that the evidence does not bear your argument out. I am suggesting that Moroni arrived at the New York Cumorah long after the destruction of the Nephites in Mesoamerica. Perhaps he named this hill in memory of his destroyed people (adds some poignance to the “voice from the dust” idea). Perhaps the early Mormons named it so. So certainly the plates were buried in NY. That does not mean that the whole of the BOM took place there. And as far as the double standard, well, we have never been taught that the Prophet can’t expression personal beliefs about things, even doctrine. If the First Presidency ever did issue a “geography” of the BOM, I would believe it. But in the meantime, it’s up in the air, except for the fact that there were plates nearby Palmyra NY.

    In any case, I do not base my belief of the BOM on whether there are one, two, or ten Cumorahs. I know it’s true because God told me so. Some call that simplistic, but I call it a gift of the Spirit.

  19. Unfortunately, its treatment weighs more heavily on those who have negative things to say. OVerall, it has the anti-organized religion tone that saturates much mainstream media treatment of the church. Only a few citations are made of the Mormon viewpoint–the church spokespman (which has never been accepted as being a valuable source, who believes Scott McClellan these days anyway), Dan Peterson (a highly intelligent scholar, but untrained in matters genetic) and Armaund Mauss (a sociologist who also lacks training). Jan Shipps is quoted too, but she also lacks necessary training. Her comment, however, is fair enough to my beliefs.

    A couple of other points: the article makes the church seem quite Jesuit (white church imposing beliefs on native peoples), an image I do not think is fair nor accurate. Additionally, if Southerton’s only rebuttal to the Mormon response is “you’re reading the text wrong,” and “you don’t know your own leaders,” then he’s on the wrong turf. The question becomes a matter of Mormon history rather than genetics. Simply because even a majority of Church leaders believed that the BOM is based on a hemispheric model does not make it so. To reiterate Joseph F. Smith, “the Lord has not revealed” a BOM geography.

    Just some thought a a reflective ranter.

  20. Vessey,

    It’s unfortunate that you have rested your case on so weak of claims. Indeed, it seems humorously ironic that you yourself have not addressed many of the issues I have brought up, including previous statements by General Authorities on our ignorance concerning BOM geography. I would hope that I don’t need to mention the Joseph F. Smith quote again. And by the way the crickets are still chirping…

    While I certainly believe the V.T. missionary’s service to be valuable, I would nevertheless disagree with his statement that “the church” has taught anything about geography. I can’t say that it has. No First Presidency statement, no revelation (the Zelph account, by the way, is too anomalous to be strong enough for counter evidence), no final word.

    Hopefully, at some point, you will be willing to address other sides of the evidence. Until then, keep it real man.

  21. “My beloved brothers and sisters, I invite you to join in a prayer that while I speak you and I may both enjoy the Spirit. I will give you a lesson today that the Lord has taken great pains to bring to us… In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “hill Cumorah.” On July twenty-fifth of this year, as I stood on the crest of that hill admiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to the events which occurred in that vicinity some twenty-five centuries ago—events which brought to an end the great Jaredite nation… This second civilization to which I refer, the Nephites , flourished in America between 600 B.C. and A.D. 400. Their civilization came to an end for the same reason, at the same place, and in the same manner as did the Jaredites’… Now my beloved brethren and sisters everywhere, both members of the Church and nonmembers, I bear you my personal witness that I know that the things I have presented to you today are true—both those pertaining to past events and those pertaining to events yet to come.” (Talk given by President Marion G. Romney in General Conference, October 4, 1975, Ensign Nov. 1975 pg. 35) [3] (Cf. CES student manual for Religion 121 and 122, p. 136.)

    Need I say more?

  22. Need I say more?

    Yes. Your quote brings nothing new to the table. Brian mentioned something similar a few posts back. All this is a rehash of what Brian wrote earlier. Additionally, for every quote of this kind, another quote from equally respectable authorities can be found denying that we know very much of anything about the geography (please see John Sorenson’s Ancient American Setting, chpt. 1). Joseph Smith himself was unsure of where the BOM took place! Geography is not the purpose for the BOM–salvation is. All too often such a message is shouted down by these peripheral issues. Could it be though, that you simply don’t like the evidence that does exist for a Mesoamerican setting? It seems strange that you are so bent on insisting that our leaders believe in a New England setting. Sometime you might actually want to consider a more likely alternative.

    Your use of elippses is telling. President Romney continues by saying that his purpose is to show that the decrees of God were indeed carried out. Whether they took place in Palmyra or Teohituacan is irrelevant.

    Please add something new to the discussion. Otherwise, I see no need for you to spend your time trodding over the asked and answered.

  23. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

    John 8:32

    I believe that after reading the Bible can comparing it to the Book of Mormon that the Book of Mormon was made up and not true. Thank you Jesus for saving my soul!

    You better hope that you are following the right person when it comes to judgement day, if you are following a lie and it’s not another testiment of Jesus Christ, good luck.

  24. Interesting…anon apparently read the Bible but makes no claim to having read the Book of Mormon. I wonder how he/she managed to carry out this “comparing” without doing so?

  25. Great thread everyone. I want to return to the general topic and comment on it. I know someone who is hot and heavy on trying to disprove the BOM. I advised that whatever standard they hold the LDS church to, then do the same for their church.

    You find a lot of evangelicals try to perpetuate the tactics listed here. Ignoring well established facts, “scholars” who are not, and rehashing old, tired rhetoric. Quoting the Bible but not knowing what the passage meant, etc.

    Some of the things that have worked is making the evangelicals “prove” their orthodoxy can be quite hilarious. Want to make a fundie sweat? Make them take the NIV Challenge which compares the New International Version (or New Incorrect Version) with the KJV. It lists 20 verses in the KJV (like “I’m Alpha and Omega…”) and asks you to find them in the NIV. Here’s the thing, you can’t. NIV re-writers removed them. But many evangelicals use the NIV as their “divine source” for justification. The “sandy ground” if I’ve ever seen it.

    I agree with the one writer who said this shouldn’t degenerate into a nitpicking religious contest. But defending the faith of our savior is worth fighting from time to time.

    There are a lot of people out there besides Living Faith blasting away on us. The Moody Bible Institute has an entire literature set to “educate Christians” on the LDS. The Josh McDowell books do the same thing. Many keep rehashing the “cult” thing. I guess if you repeat something enough you’ll eventually believe it.

    Pray about it my friends. Sustain those in the crosshairs. Keep the faith!

  26. I have followed the various debates over the Book of Mormon with some bit of amusement. Of course there are disagreements between believers and non-believers. However, I have seen no non-believer attempt to deal with all of the positive evidences that have been amassed concerning the Book of Mormon. They instead focus on what has not been found or maybe on some of the problems found carried over from the Bible. While those are valid items for discussion, they are not proof of the falsity of the Book of Mormon.
    When they deal effectively with the Old World accounts of the Book of Mormon travels that fit in so well with what we now know about that area, and when they deal with the hebraic structures found in the Book of Mormon, and the chiastic sections, and multiple authorship problem (with analyses by peer reviewed methods which indicate rather conclusively that Sifney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, Solomon Spalding, nor Joseph Smith could be any of those authors), the names in the Book of Mormon, etc. by someone aith at least the qualifications of the pro Book of Mormon apologists, maybe we can take them more seriously.


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