There’s a great article by Daniel C. Peterson in the most recent issue of The FARMS Review. It’s title, “Ein Heldenleben? On Thomas Stuart Ferguson as an Elias for Cultural Mormons,” may seem odd to those who have not heard of T.S. Ferguson, but it’s well worth reading. It explores the fascination of anti-Mormons with a lawyer and would-be LDS apologist/archaeologist whose testimony of the Church appears to have become weaker after a couple of naive attempts to dig up proof for the Book of Mormon [note: this post initially said he left the Church, but that was an error – I’ve also corrected the name of the author of the article]. Along the way, in the latter half of the article, we learn some interesting things about common alleged problems in the Book of Mormon – plants, animals, metals, etc.
In exploring the frustrations of Thomas Ferguson, there are some lessons for us now, including the folly of expecting evidence to directly “prove” scripture. In the Middle East, where a hundred times more archaeology has been done than in Mesoamerica, nothing has been found that “proves” the Bible to be true, though interesting insights and paradigm shifts have occurred. But it still requires faith to accept Christ as the Son of God, or to believe that Joseph Smith was called by Christ to be a prophet, no matter how interesting the evidence is (now or in the future) for the authenticity of either the Bible or the Book of Mormon.