In the words of Mormon historian Richard Bushman, "For most modern readers, the [golden] plates are beyond belief, a phantasm, yet the Mormon sources accept them as fact." Because Smith said he returned the plates to an angel after he finished translating them, their authenticity cannot be determined by physical examination.
The golden plates were reportedly shown to several close associates of Smith. Mormon scholars have formed collaborations such as Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies to provide apologetic answers to critical research about the golden plates and topics in the field of Mormon studies. Among these topics, the credibility of the plates has been, according to Bushman, a "troublesome item."
A reputed transcript of reformed Egyptian characters, which Smith said were copied from the golden plates in 1828. The characters are not linked to any known language.
The Book of Mormon itself portrays the golden plates as a historical record, engraved by two pre-Columbian prophet-historians from around the year AD 400: Mormon and his son Moroni. Mormon and Moroni, the book says, had abridged earlier historical records from other sets of metal plates. Their script, according to the book, was described as "reformed Egyptian," a language unknown to linguists or Egyptologists. Historically, Latter Day Saint movement denominations have taught that the Book of Mormon's description of the plates' origin is accurate, and that the Book of Mormon is a translation of the plates. The Community of Christ, however, while accepting the Book of Mormon as scripture, no longer takes an official position on the historicity of the golden plates. Moreover, even in the more theologically conservative Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), some adherents who accept the Book of Mormon as inspired scripture do not believe it is a literal translation of a physical historical record.
Smith claimed to have uncovered a set of golden plates in similar circumstances, and, according to Latter Day Saint belief, translated them into the Book of Mormon. The finders of the Kinderhook plates, and the general public, were keen to know if Smith would be able to decipher the symbols on these plates as well. The Times and Seasons, a Latter Day Saint publication, claimed that the existence of the Kinderhook plates lent further credibility to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
Smith's private secretary, William Clayton, recorded that upon receiving the plates, Smith sent for his "Hebrew Bible & Lexicon", suggesting that he was going to attempt to translate the plates by conventional means, rather than by use of a seer stone or direct revelation. On 1 May, Clayton wrote in his journal:
I have seen 6 brass plates...covered with ancient characters of language containing from 30 to 40 on each side of the plates. Prest J. [Joseph Smith] has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth.
The History of the Church also states Smith said the following:
I have translated a portion of [the plates] and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth.
Stanley B. Kimball claims the statement found in History of the Church was only an altered version of William Clayton's statement, placing Smith in the first person. Diane Wirth, writing in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon (4:210), states: "A first-person narrative was apparently a common practice of this time period when a biographical work was being compiled. Since such words were never penned by the Prophet, they cannot be uncritically accepted as his words or his opinion".
Rediscovery, analysis, and classification as a hoax
The Kinderhook plates were presumed lost, but for decades The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) published facsimiles of them in its official History of the Church. In 1920, one of the plates came into the possession of the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Museum). In 1966, this remaining plate was tested at Brigham Young University. The inscriptions matched facsimiles of the plate published contemporaneously, but the question remained whether this was an original Kinderhook plate, or a later copy.
Though there was little evidence of whether the Kinderhook Plates were ancient or a contemporary fabrication, some within the LDS Church believed them to be genuine. The September 1962 Improvement Era, an official magazine of the Church, ran an article by Welby W. Ricks stating that the Kinderhook plates were genuine. In 1979, apostle Mark E. Petersen wrote a book called Those Gold Plates!. In the first chapter Peterson describes various ancient cultures that have written records on metal plates. Then Peterson claims: "There are the Kinderhook plates, too, found in America and now in the possession of the Chicago Historical Society. Controversy has surrounded these plates and their engravings, but most experts agree they are of ancient vintage."
In 1980, Professor D. Lynn Johnson of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University examined the remaining plate. He used microscopy and various scanning devices and determined that the tolerances and composition of its metal proved entirely consistent with the facilities available in a 19th-century blacksmith shop and, more importantly, found traces of nitrogen in what were clearly nitric acid-etched grooves. This matches what was stated in an 1879 letter to James T. Cobb, in which Wilbur Fugate confesses to the hoax: "Wiley and I made the hieroglyphics by making impressions on beeswax and filling them with acid and putting it on the plates. When they were finished we put them together with rust made of nitric acid, old iron and lead, and bound them with a piece of hoop iron, covering them completely with rust". According to Fugate, Wiley had planted the plates at the bottom of the hole he had dug in the mound, before fetching a group of others to witness the discovery.
In addition, Johnson discovered evidence that this particular plate was among those examined by early Mormons, including Smith, and not a later copy. One of the features of the plate was the presence of small dents in the surface caused by a hexagonally-shaped tool. Johnson noticed that one of these dents had inadvertently been interpreted in the facsimile as a stroke in one of the characters. If the plate owned by the Chicago Historical Society had been a copy made from the facsimiles in History of the Church, that stroke in that character would have been etched, like the rest of the characters. He concluded that this plate was one that Smith examined, that it was not of ancient origin, and that it was in fact etched with acid, not engraved.
In 1981, the official magazine of the LDS Church ran an article stating that the plates were a hoax. In it, the author claimed that there was no proof that Smith made any attempt to translate the plates: "There is no evidence that the Prophet Joseph Smith ever took up the matter with the Lord, as he did when working with the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham".
I actually read the Book of Mormon
on several occasions.
I had some fine Mormon
that in the end
I had no quarrel with but their faith
which I don't really hate
felt a bit
like the odd
about Jesus in America.
is greatly empowering in my opinion
since it allows us to evolve into Gods
except that it's hard to believe in a God
and a religion that's like a space epic.
Maybe if SETI does find
the Planet of the Gods
I won't mind
believing in a Mormon God.
the creation theory of the Mormon church. This is not stuff that you learn until you have been invited to Temple, after you have been initiated and done your 2 year mission. Here is their cosmology. The Mormon teaching that Jesus and Satan are brothers is based on their concept of God being the Father of all pre-existent spirits. Since Jesus is the son of the Father and all other spirits, including Satan, are sons and daughters of the Father then all are brothers and sisters! This idea has been part of Mormon teaching from the time of Joseph Smith and continues today. Few LDS authorities have been bold enough to plainly state this.
Bruce R. McConkie, in his work The Mortal Messiah, Vol.1, Pg.407-408 under the heading " Lucifer and the Law of Temptation" has the following to say;"Hence, there is — and must be — a devil, and he is the father of lies and of wickedness. He and the fallen angels who followed him are spirit children of the Father. As Christ is the Firstborn of the Father in the spirit, so Lucifer is a son of the morning, one of those born in the morning of preexistence. He is a spirit man, a personage, an entity, comparable in form and appearance to any of the spirit children of the Eternal Father. He was the source of opposition among the spirit hosts before the world was made; he rebelled in preexistence against the Father and the Son, and he sought even then to destroy the agency of man. He and his followers were cast down to earth, and they are forever denied mortal bodies. And he, here on earth, along with all who follow him — both his spirit followers and the mortals who hearken to his enticements — is continuing the war that commenced in heaven."
When Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, the Earth was closely orbiting Kolob, like God's home planet. But when Adam and Eve fell, so did the Earth and it was hurled across the cosmos and placed in orbit around our sun in this planetary system. After the Millennium, the Earth will return to its rightful place near God, orbiting Kolob. See Church Ensign, March 1997, Page 16 "The Book of Abraham: A Most Remarkable Book," and Journal of Discourses, 17:143 and Journal of Discourses 7:163
God did not create the physical Earth Himself. Actually, all of us helped out. Under the direction of Jesus and Adam, we created the Earth. Some of us created trees, others created rocks and still others created animals, based on God's blueprints.
UFOs are from the City of Enoch, that was raised to heaven because the citizens attained perfection. City of Enoch story is in the Pearl of Great Price, but UFO connection made by LDS Church Seminary teacher.
There are human beings on many other planets that look just like us because they too, are in the image of God.Mars and Venus have dry rivers that match perfectly with rivers on Earth, proving that parts of all three were "organized" from parts of a same old planet. Scientists say the moon was formed out of the Earth, why not the other planets too?.
Joseph Smith taught that the Ten Lost Tribes had gone to the North Pole, as it used to be warm, but God divided the Earth in two and they wound up between Texas and Florida. Then God scooped them up, leaving a big hole called the Gulf of Mexico. And these millions of Hebrews are today on this island floating around in the solar system, but we can't see them because God has them flying at an angle where the telescopes can't pick them up. But one day the island will crash back into the Gulf and the earth will reel to and fro like a drunken man. See Earth is the most evil of all of God's worlds in the Universe. See Moses 7:36
- God sent Christ here because it was the only world that was wicked enough to kill Jesus. Common teaching from LDS Church Seminary teachers.
- All of the other planets in the universe with God's children have prophets who preach to them about Christ's life, death and resurrection on Earth. Just as our prophets tell us that other worlds have human life on them, so to, true prophets on other worlds teach the life of Christ as he lived it on this Earth.
Mars is populated by beings who, like us, were created in the image of God, so they look like us. Except they are waiting to hear about the Gospel, which we will preach to them during the millennium. Supposedly came from early church conference address by church apostle.
- God created all the planets in our solar system with the explicit "law" to support human life. The other planets in our solar system are already populated or are able to support human life. See "The Essential Orson Pratt, p.373"
- Lucifer only did to Adam and Eve "the same thing which has been done in "OTHER WORLDS," according to the temple endowment. This shows Mormon doctrine embraces the idea of life on other planets.
- "Thus the Lord has given us the information regarding his creations, and how he has made many earths, for there never was a beginning, never was a time when man did not exist somewhere in the universe, and when the time came for this earth to be peopled the Lord, our God, transplanted upon it from some other earth, the life which is found here."
- The Earth is the spirit world, where the billions of deceased spirits now live. In fact, there are spirits all around us right now, yet we cannot see them and they cannot see us, thanks to "the veil." [This is so much like a few Star Trek episodes!] Taught by LDS Church Institute instructors.
- When babies are born, "the veil" is still very thin and as newborns they can see spirits, remember the "pre-existence" and still hear God directly. It's only later after months trapped in a physical body that "the veil" begins to close over their spiritual awareness. Taught by LDS Church Institute instructors.
- Just before people die, "the veil" once again lifts and they start to see again all the spirits and angels all around us. Taught by LDS Church Institute instructors.
- God lives in the fourth dimension, which explains why he can see everything, be everywhere and know all time. In fact, as three-dimensional beings, if we could visit flatland (a two-dimensional universe) the inhabitants would think we were Gods. Taught by LDS Church Institute instructors.
- The Holy of Holies in the Salt Lake Temple actually contains a portal to the celestial realm at Kolob. Mormon folklore.
Time and Time Travel
- God travels much faster than the speed of light. God travels at the "speed of thought." Very common Mormon belie.
- A day for God is like a thousand years on Earth. This is because it takes a thousand Earth years for God's home planet Kolob to rotate around once on its axis. See Abraham 3:4-5
- God lives by "celestial time, which celestial time signifies one day to a cubit" See Book of Abraham, Facsimile Number 2, Explanation for Figure 1.
- Adam and Eve living in the Garden of Eden were "subject to Kolob Time." See Abraham 5:13
- Seer stones allow us to see past, present and future events at any location. All of those that make it to the Celestial Kingdom will have their own seer stone, to review any moment or location in the universe. See D&C 130:10-11
- If it wasn't for "Cherubim and a Flaming Sword" in front of the tree of life, Adam and Eve would have lived "forever" after eating the forbidden fruit. See Alma 12:21, 42:2-3 and Moses 4:31
- A righteous man's "time" on this Earth is not "cut short," according to the D&C 122:9.
- Christ's atonement was eternal, reached back in time and retro-actively saved the faithful who lived and died before the event occurred, yet they were told to wait for his coming in order to be saved. (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, pp. 64, 65).
- God showed his temporal prophets "everything from the beginning to the end of time", as accounts record in the Pearl of Great Price and the Book of Mormon. See stories of Nephi, Moses and Abraham. Also see D&C 101:32-34.
- The earth's lifetime is divided into "dispensations" of time. The correct name for our current dispensation of time is "Adam-ondi-Ahman" which Joseph Smith explained to mean "The place or land of God where Adam dwelt." (Mormon Doctrine, by Bru)
- Right from the scriptures, the Earth's total temporal existence is 7,000 years. See D&C 77:6
- There's more gold and mineral riches in Utah than the rest of the world combined. It's hidden from you because of a lack of faith. There's no need to go to California to pan for Gold, because God will reveal these riches to you when you are righteous enough. This was preached from the pulpit at the Tabernacle by the Prophet of the Church. See Journal of Discourses 1:264.
- Fossilized dinosaur bones are from dinosaurs that lived on other worlds that were destroyed to create the Earth. They were living creatures, but not from this Earth. (See Creation above) Taught by LDS Church Institute instructors.
- Carbon dating is phony because God has altered the Earth so many times with processes we can't understand or measure. Taught by LDS Church Institute instructors.
- The Garden of Eden was in Missouri. Noah was taken to the Old World by the Flood. This teaching was given by Joseph Smith and is still accepted as true doctrine. Given this teaching, Mormons have to accept the flood as a global phenomenon. (Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce McConkie, "Adam-Ondi-Ahman" p. 19-20)
- Prophet preaches from the Tabernacle pulpit in General Conference that "Gold and silver grow, and so does every other kind of metal, the same as the hair upon my head, or the wheat in the field.." See JoD 1:209.
- Adam and Eve did not have blood in their bodies in the Garden of Eden. The Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith taught: "Adam [and, by extension, all of the animal creation] had no blood in his veins before the fall. Blood is the life of the mortal body." After Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, blood became "the life-giving fluid in Adam's body, and was inherited by his posterity. Blood was not only the life of the mortal body, but also contained in it the seeds of death which bring the mortal body to its end. Previously the life force in Adam's body, which is likewise the sustaining power in every immortal body, was the spirit." – Joseph Fielding Smith, Man: His Origin and Destiny (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954), pp. 362, 376-77.
- Adam lived nearly 1,000 years and the prophets used to live hundreds of years because they lived the Word of Wisdom perfectly and had more pure blood in their veins. Over time, the human race has polluted blood more and more. Taught by LDS Church Institute instructors.
- Adam did not have a navel, Eve did. Taught by LDS Church Institute instructors.
- Mormonism directly explains the creation of at least one race by God. Mormon scripture taught that Cain was so evil, God cursed him and his lineage with black skin, creating the African race. See Moses 7:22. Mormon Doctrine explains: "Cain was cursed with a dark skin; he became the father of the Negroes, and those spirits who are not worthy to receive the priesthood are born though his lineage. He became the first mortal to be cursed as a son of perdition. As a result of his mortal birth he is assured of a tangible body of flesh and bones in eternity, a fact which will enable him to rule over Satan." Mormon Doctrine, Page 102.
- When Native Americans become Mormons, their skin turns white. The Prophet Spencer W. Kimball taught the principle of this process in a General Conference address. He stated how the "Indians are fast becoming a white and delightsome people." He said, "The [Indian] children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation… These young [Indian] members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated." LDS General Conference, October 1960, Spencer W. Kimball, (Improvement Era, December 1960, pp. 922-3). Also see the original Mormon prophesy of this effect in 2 Nephi 30:6.
- Drinking tea may tan your stomach similarly to what happens in a teapot. (Missionary teaching technique taken seriously by some).
- All races, including Blacks, Asians, Indians etc.. will be resurrected in their perfect state as white Caucasians. Taught by LDS Church Institute instructors.