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Truth ought to matter

Read this first paragraph of an article on the Book of Mormon. I rather quickly came to some conclusions about the author and the quality of his arguments.

WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF MORMON? For nearly two centuries, faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) have claimed that Joseph Smith translated the text from the writings of ancient prophets, while critics have endlessly recycled inadequate theories of plagiarism or co-authorship. What has rarely been addressed is that for much of his language and narrative structure, Smith turned to the most read and memorized author of the late seventeenth century, John Bunyan. He did so in such imaginative ways that the resulting work transcends any easy charge of plagiarism and calls upon us to reimagine the rich oral traditions of early America.

The rich oral traditions? Is that a new fancy term for “bullshit”?

The premise of the article is that the Book of Mormon is written as a literary homage to Bunyan — now I’m no fan of that pious nonsense Bunyan wrote, but that is perhaps the most slanderous thing I’ve seen written about him. No, Joseph Smith was not consciously emulating Bunyan; Smith was a con man with no literary skill who was mimicking the style of 17th century English to tie his phony story to the religious authority of the King James Bible and yes, other religious authors of that era. It is not an “imaginative” book — it’s pure blithering hackwork that goes on and on, and is a blighted fusion of faux KJV and glossolalia. It is the work of a charlatan shouting into a hat.

I’ve read chunks of the Book of Mormon. It is crap. It’s more poorly written than the Twilight series, or even 50 Shades of Gray. If you’re looking for the primal source of American popular hack literature, there it is in the work of Joseph Smith, and his bad fantasy novel that would have died of contempt if he hadn’t used it to tap into American religious gullibility. It is to Bunyan and the religious literature of the times as Eye of Argon is to science fiction and fantasy literature — a badly written derivative.

Seriously, this is a terrible article that tries to put a thin golden veneer on top of a turd. I don’t know why the LA Review of Books or Salon chose to publish it. The author is pandering to the Mormons, nothing more.

For instance, take a look at this summary of the Mormon story.

To the LDS faithful, the Book of Mormon is the true historical account of a group of ancient Israelites who fled Jerusalem prior to the Babylonian captivity (600 B.C.E.) and later journeyed to the Americas to establish a new civilization. Mormons claim that in 1823 an angel named Moroni revealed to Joseph Smith the location of a set of gold plates – which recorded that sacred history – buried in a hill south of Palmyra in upstate New York, known today as the Hill Cumorah. Six years later, at the age of 24, Joseph translated this ancient record, which he claimed was written in “Reformed Egyptian,” into English by “the gift and power of God.”

A real historian would look at that baldly ridiculous story and dismiss it as nonsense. Just the complete absence of provenance and its foundation in a story made up in a non-existent language and written on mysterious gold plates in New York (plates that no one else has ever seen) ought to mark it as fraud. But no, not to William L. Davis, who is trying to rationalize the story.

This is how he sums up the case against the veracity of the Book of Mormon.

Detractors, on the other hand, assume the Book of Mormon to be Smith’s invention, pointing not just to the improbability of the story, but to the lack of any linguistic, archeological, or DNA evidence tying any tribe of Native Americans to ancient Israelites. Several theories of the origin of the text have emerged, but they lack solid evidence and require leaps of speculation. The wider academic community steered clear of the debate, leaving serious inquiry into the Book of Mormon to a small group of scholars and enthusiasts. Some Mormon scholars, like Grant Hardy, who wrote Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Guide, have attempted to move the discussion away from polemics to an appreciation for the book’s narrative complexities. As with most scripture, however, claims to historical authenticity remain a central issue. Joseph Smith stated that the Book of Mormon was “the keystone of our religion,” to which the former LDS Prophet Ezra Taft Benson added, “Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.” Thus the stakes regarding authenticity are high, and the suggestion that Joseph Smith looked extensively to John Bunyan for inspiration to write the Book of Mormon is fraught not only for Mormon scholarship but for the religion as a whole.

No, the argument against the historicity of the Book of Mormon isn’t based on nothing but a lack of evidence supporting it; it’s about a body of “linguistic, archeological, or DNA evidence” that directly contradicts the story. America was not colonized by a group of Hebrew refugees in 600BCE who built a flourishing white civilization that crumbled, leaving modern degenerate tribes of brown people to wander among the ruins. It didn’t happen, period. You want to find the roots of Mormonism, you should be looking to the endemic racism of the Americans of European descent who were trying to justify an ongoing genocide. Not Bunyan.

I do like the remark that “so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.” I’m happy to accept that. It falls.

You know, the truth matters. Religions built on lies, like all of them, do not deserve respect or to persevere. I can see through all the vain striving to find some glimmer of character in Joseph Smith or some shadow of literary quality in his hat-shouting exercise — but what it all ought to come down to is, “IS IT TRUE?” And when it isn’t, it ought to be kicked to the curb and hauled away with the trash.

Comments

  1. says

    A real historian would look at that baldly ridiculous story and dismiss it as nonsense. Just the complete absence of provenance and its foundation in a story made up in a non-existent language and written on mysterious gold plates in New York (plates that no one else has ever seen) ought to mark it as fraud.

    This reminds me of my introduction to the golden plates: I was seven years old and my elderly LDS neighbor was trying to to introduce me to the Book of Mormon and answer my questions.

    I instantly seized onto the golden plates and asked what museum they were in.
    No museum.
    Well, then, who was studying them?
    No one; the angels took them.
    Then how do you know anything about them?
    Joseph Smith and eleven sworn witnesses saw them.
    But if these plates are really that important, they should be studied by scientists, not just some guys!

    My neighbor got really irritated with me, but damnit, I knew what you did with priceless artifacts and it wasn’t “send them back to Heaven with an angel.”

  2. P. Tirebiter says

    Galoshes 7:11 &ff. And lo, the Running Back did fail & fall short
    in his attempt to reach the line demarcated as ’38′, even though his
    feet moved swiftly. A mighty linebacker felled him with a savage
    tackle, & a moan of dismay was uttered by the faithful.
    12 Thus was the first-&-ten not achieved, & accordingly, the punt
    team ran out in their finery & great lamentations were heard from
    the faithful in the stands.
    13 And it came to pass, even as the pigskin was thrust backwards
    toward the punter by the grunting long snapper, that a defensive
    back of the Malekites did move swiftly around the right flank of
    the line, flinging himself athwart the punter’s swinging leg.
    14 Yea, even as the ball struck the foot, verily it also struck
    the outstretched hands of the defensive back, & was propelled
    toward the Malekite end zone, with numerous warriors of both
    moeities in furious pursuit.
    15 And the players fell upon the pigskin & great was the dogpile
    thereon & great also was the agitation of the Galoshans in the
    stands, until the striped official was able to descry the identity
    of the warrior who had obtained possession of the pigskin
    beneath the writhing dogpile.
    16 Mighty was the protest from the Galoshan faithful, & also
    from the Galoshan sideline as the sacred pigskin was awarded
    to a Malekite behemoth, whose hands were as hams & whose
    thighs were as the trunks of hearty oak trees.
    17 And it came to pass that the Galoshan coach did fling the
    flag of red into the field of war, that the striped officials might
    confer for many tumultuous minutes beneath the hood of replay,
    affording me time to perform a physical function & retrieve yet
    another brewski from the appliance of coldness.
    18 And when I returned to the viewing couch, the Galoshan horde
    was still loud in its rhythmic protest, shouting “Bullshit! Bullshit!”
    in the gathering gloom until even the network announcers must
    acknowledge their agony.

  3. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”

  4. ambulocetacean says

    Um… this might be a bit nitpicky, but…

    People talk about Smith mimicking 17th-century English. But wasn’t he mimicking the language of the King James bible? And wasn’t the language of the KJV considered antiquated in 1611? So wasn’t Smith really mimicking 16th-century English?

  5. Larry says

    The book seems to be merely a prosy detail of imaginary history, with the Old Testament for a model; followed by a tedious plagiarism of the New Testament. The author labored to give his words and phrases the quaint, old-fashioned sound and structure of our King James’s translation of the Scriptures; and the result is a mongrel — half modern glibness, and half ancient simplicity and gravity.

    The above is part of a longer review of the book of mormon that was written by Mark Twain in 1861 during his travels out west. In his own inimitable style, Twain goes on to expose the ridiculousness and absurdity of the work.

  6. says

    A few years ago, my brother was married in Rochester, NY. While out driving, a group of us noticed signs indicating that Palmyra was nearby, and Hill Cumorah. On a lark, we went. It’s a nice park, with a recreation of the small home that Smith and his wife Emma would have lived in done up as a small museum.

    I asked the elderly couple if the low hill on the property, which signs identified as Hill Cumorah, was THE Hill Cumorah. They smiled and assured me it was. I asked if that was the hill where Moroni watched the last great battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites as he finished writing the Golden Plates. They were delighted that a “gentile” knew so much of Mormon history, and said, “Most certainly.”

    Then I asked, “Then how come there is no major archaeological excavation here? Even without digging, we can usually identify ancient battlefields thousands of years later, based on the scraps and bits left behind. Bones from body parts lost in the bushes. Weapons that had been broken in battle and tossed aside. Coins buried to keep them out of enemy hands by soldiers who never returned. Buckles, shoes and bits of armor cut or dropped. The church owns dozens of acres of this presumed battlefield, and only a few finds of bronze or iron — any items that the Native Americans did not have — would prove that the Book of Mormon is fact, not the fiction that so many detractors claim. Surely, this would be quite easy on a major battlefield barely 800 years old.”

    They looked very very uncomfortable, said that the site was too holy to go digging around, and asked us to leave. Immediately, or they would call the cops.

  7. naturalcynic says

    The rich oral traditions? Is that a new fancy term for “bullshit”?

    Awwwww, give it some slack and call it a tall tale. Or maybe another Bunyan will come along and give Joe what for.

  8. says

    People talk about Smith mimicking 17th-century English. But wasn’t he mimicking the language of the King James bible? And wasn’t the language of the KJV considered antiquated in 1611? So wasn’t Smith really mimicking 16th-century English?

    Some of the language is purposefully antiquated for the 17th-century because they didn’t want to use popular idioms for something they considered so serious, but it is for all intents and purposes 17th-century English. The language of someone speaking formally in 1908 might be somewhat antiquated for the rest of the 20th century, but it would still be 20th century English.

  9. jamessweet says

    The Salon/LA Weekly article is completely deficient just from the simple fact that it purports to explore alternative origins for the Book of Mormon without even giving mention to Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews, or the fact that at the time there were scads of people idly speculating that the Native Americans might be descended from the Jews. To say that the Book of Mormon is a direct rip-off of View of the Hebrews is probably overstatement, but to not even mention this influence is insane.

    Since you mentioned Twilight… This omission would be kind of like if somebody a hundred years from now was writing an article about the Twilight mania of the early 21st century, and completely failed to mention the fifty kajillion other vampire-themed franchises that were popping up around the same time.

  10. says

    If you want to see a moderately intelligent person tie themselves in knots trying to justify their belief in the “Book of Mormon”, look no further than here.

  11. zb24601 says

    The Book of Mormon should NOT be “hauled away with the trash”. It should be recycled into something useful, like toilet paper.

  12. says

    At least, if the most gullible idiot wins the election (“heaven” forfend), there is the marginal consolation that we can look forward to much more of such scorn…

  13. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    At least, if the most gullible idiot wins the election (“heaven” forfend), there is the marginal consolation that we can look forward to much more of such scorn…

    What does reading the bones tell you?

  14. anteprepro says

    Detractors, on the other hand, assume the Book of Mormon to be Smith’s invention, pointing not just to the improbability of the story, but to the lack of any linguistic, archeological, or DNA evidence tying any tribe of Native Americans to ancient Israelites. Several theories of the origin of the text have emerged, but they lack solid evidence and require leaps of speculation.

    Remember kids:
    -Mormon detractors not having hard evidence about the origin of the Book of Mormon means everything is hunky-dory in Mormon land.
    -Mormons not having any kind of evidence that Native Americans were actually Israelites isn’t important, because Mormon detractors can’t explain the origin of the Book of Mormon.

    The Less You Know (about the burden of proof)!

  15. shadowspade says

    I’m always a little ashamed that it took me far too long to leave Mormonism than it should have. Oh well, when you’re raised in it, I think it’s much more difficult to leave your family tradition (bullshit?) behind.

    I rather liked this article but had some of the same conclusions PZ had. I rather think that Smith himself had to stand back at times and think… I can’t believe people are buying this crap!

  16. Sastra says

    The writer is sending out a special code through his constant use of the word “belief.” This is faith — tread warily. Be gentle. Use ambiguous language, switch topics midstream, and pretend the real controversy is somewhere other than where it is, with meaning and choice and soft ideas and not with hard facts. Misdirect and pretend you’re just being thorough.

    jamessweet #12 wrote:

    To say that the Book of Mormon is a direct rip-off of View of the Hebrews is probably overstatement, but to not even mention this influence is insane.

    Yes, I thought the same thing.

    Also thought of Mark Twain, as did Larry at #8. Mark Twain called the Book of Mormon “chloroform in print.” And, iirc, he complained that the words “and it came to pass” were sprinkled so generously (and tediously) throughout the text that they could have called it “The It-Came-To-Pass Tales.”

  17. anteprepro says

    Oh well, when you’re raised in it, I think it’s much more difficult to leave your family tradition (bullshit?) behind.

    Ding ding ding. Don’t beat yourself up. Religions rely on getting people to not view the religious beliefs as if they were any other old belief about the world. They use culture and emotional appeals and social connections as bludgeons to get you to stop thinking and just go with the flow. And this includes giving out rational-sounding justifications for the ridiculous parts of the belief system, and using that social-emotional-cultural pressure to get you to accept those rationalizations as just dandy and sufficient to not reject bullshit as bullshit. There are very smart people who aren’t able to escape religion’s clutches at all, and some who just sculpt and redefine and get indignant at anyone who dares to point out that their version is atypical. So, don’t feel too bad that you managed to escape but didn’t do it in record time.

  18. mythbri says

    @Ray Ingles #13

    If you want to see a moderately intelligent person tie themselves in knots trying to justify their belief in the “Book of Mormon”, look no further than here.

    Mmmmm… I’m not necessarily going to disagree with you that Orson Scott Card is moderately intelligent. Believe it or not, many Mormons are moderately intelligent. Some of them are very intelligent. Some of them are not very intelligent. I used to be one.

    Card is a somewhat decent science fiction author with one or two incidentally meaningful works. The rest of it, I would characterize as quasi-religious dreck. Card’s also a climate change denier and a homophobe of the highest order.

    See here: http://www.raintaxi.com/online/2011summer/card.shtml

  19. anteprepro says

    Moroni? Moron? Am I the only one seeing this?

    Moron- First known use was 1910.
    Joseph Smith- Dead 1844 (began his Mormon stuff in the 1820′s)

  20. Sastra says

    I’ve often thought that it takes an intelligence and creativity bordering almost on genius to be able to look at science, history, literature, and anthropology and then go on, in all seriousness, to justify the Book of Mormon. You’d have to be incredibly clever to fit it all together and have the holy scripture of the Latter-Day-Saints NOT come out looking like a pile of garbage.

    Of course, mental ingenuity is not the only measure of intelligence. As PZ says, truth ought to matter. Being very, very good at deluding yourself is only admirable in an academic sort of way, I think.

  21. says

    The comments associated with the LA Times article are interesting. Excerpts:

    It’s clearly 19th century fiction. With such obvious errors, you can understand why the Smithsonian renounced the Book of Mormon as having no historical or archeological value and why your thesis exploring authorship is irrelevant.

    …the Mormon church itself has humbly bowed its head and acknowledged that the esteemed gold plates were not even in the room when Joseph was peering into a hat with a rock in it, through which God spoke one illuminated letter at a time.

    I am not making this up. THe LDS church has the rock in it’s vault; it has been handled by various historians, including Grant Palmer in his younger days at BYU. Sorry, don’t ask. It’s too “sacred” to be viewed or even photographed, which is also the case for the other sacred translation items such as the Urim and Thummin and any other embarrassing items or documents the LDS church has purchased to conceal from public view.

  22. shadowspade says

    I want a seer stone. Anyone know where a good place to dig one up would be? I could find gold coins, lotto numbers, all manner of things. Smith just found one in a well, maybe I’ll go dig up my back yard today and find one.

  23. says

    I’m not so sure that mental ingenuity is really needed when producing original Book of Mormon-like hoaxes. To “interpret” such hoaxes as if they were genuine, perhaps.

    Here’s the text of one of the comments following the LA Times article. It is obviously from a true believing mormon. The spelling, syntax and tone betray the disordered mind from which it came. Joe Smith had only to fool minds like this:

    At least the author of thus piece usbwillingbti acknowledge the Book of Mormon is a product of genius, of an exceptional mind at work. And we do mean work. Producing the text of a 500 page book, mostly in just a couple of months, is an achievement even today. Doing it so there are numerous internal crossnreferences and literal verbatim quotations hundreds if pages later is even more difficult. Writing it so ut contains.many exampkes of legitimate Hebrew literary patterns, which were.known to only a few scholars in 1830, is even more impressive. Knowing particulars of Arabian geography that were little known at the time, including the existence of a coastal oasis in Oman that truly fulfilled the meaning of a land “Bpuntiful”, raises other questions. Using names that are Egyptian before the Rosetta Stone was translated is even more puzzling. Claiming the original record was written.on metal pjates, and persuading eleven men to attest to having seen and handled the pkates, to the end of their lives, takes it beyond literary genius into a diffetent realm. When Smith made that claim, it was the only kniwn ancient record on metal, bur nownthere are dozens of exampkes, ibcluding among the Dead Sea Scrolls. How did Smith knownsuch an outrageous claim woyld be vindicated?

  24. ottod says

    I find it ironic that most of us claim to put all religion in the category I might politely describe as, “noxious offal,” but at the same time many are perfectly willing to exhibit their vestigial ties to conventional religion by pointing to the unique beliefs of a particular group as — what? Particularly egregious noxious offal?

    I’d argue that the more conventionally christian, e. g. Bryan Fischer, are more dangerous than the LDS, but they have funny underwear and a couple of well-known adherents who are currently in the spotlight. If you’re going to criticize the Mormons, do it for their current views on current issues and forget about the dubious historical beginnings of their faith. Are there ad garmentum or ad sillibookium arguments?

  25. anteprepro says

    I’d argue that the more conventionally christian, e. g. Bryan Fischer, are more dangerous than the LDS,

    I’d disagree with this because Mormons are the most conservative religious group in the U.S. Yes, moreso than Evangelical Christians.

    If you’re going to criticize the Mormons, do it for their current views on current issues and forget about the dubious historical beginnings of their faith.

    And why? Didn’t you just say something to the effect that we should treat all faiths with equal contempt? Their ridiculous history and ridiculous book are incredibly relevant, and are issues that are brought up for every other faith as well. Because pointing out that the origin stories for a religion are dubious undermines that religion’s claims about itself (especially in regards to authenticity; see “Bible is God’s Word”). And because pointing out the ridiculous parts of the holy book shows that the book isn’t as accurate and authoritative as the believers pretend it is. Exempting Mormons from such criticism would be giving them a special, privileged treatment.

  26. raven says

    No, the argument against the historicity of the Book of Mormon isn’t based on nothing but a lack of evidence supporting…

    The Book of Mormon is blatantly, factually wrong.

    I read it until I ran into Amerindians riding on horses while waving swords around.

    1. The ancient Amerindians didn’t have horses. They got them from the Spanish and British.

    2. They didn’t have iron swords either.

    It was a slap of reality screaming, It’s Fake.

  27. raven says

    I rather think that Smith himself had to stand back at times and think… I can’t believe people are buying this crap!

    One does wonder.

    Thanks to Joseph Smith, Elron Hubbard, and Reverend Moon, we know where religions come from. People just make them up as they go along.

    For weirdness, Elron Hubbard and Scientology are hard to beat. IIRC, one of the beliefs of Scientology is that Elron is an alien from another planet.

    So did he or Smith really believe it all. I doubt it but who knows?

  28. raven says

    I’d argue that the more conventionally christian, e. g. Bryan Fischer, are more dangerous than the LDS,…

    This is like arguing over which pit viper is the most dangerous.

    They are about the same.

    Bryan Fischer isn’t a conventional xian at all. He is a fundie death cultist.

    What makes them dangerous besides their rabid hate and grab for power as xian Dominionists, is their numbers. There are only about 6 million Mormons in the USA whereas there are ca. 60 million fundies.

  29. Tony–Queer Duck Overlord of The Bronze– says

    Vijen:

    At least, if the most gullible idiot wins the election (“heaven” forfend), there is the marginal consolation that we can look forward to much more of such scorn…

    Do you take issue with the well deserved scorn shown to Mormonism?

  30. Tony–Queer Duck Overlord of The Bronze– says

    ottod @30:

    If you’re going to criticize the Mormons, do it for their current views on current issues and forget about the dubious historical beginnings of their faith.

    If you find that to be a more valuable use of your time, go for it.
    Please don’t expect that others will agree with you.
    There are people that criticize the historical beginnings of many different faiths. There’s nothing wrong with taking a multi pronged approach to shredding religious belief.

    Oh, and I agree that Bryan Fischer is dangerous, but so is the LDS. Just take a look at the money they put into supporting Proposition 8. They actively campaigned in another state to keep legal US citizens in second class status.

  31. robro says

    scottplumer — I’ve always thought the religion was misnamed. Given that it came from this angel Moroni, they should be called Morons.

    It’s difficult to imagine Smith believing his BS, but we can’t know how cynical he was. He was a professional con man taking money from people to find water or buried treasure on their land through magic dousing. Perhaps he went into the religion business during the Great Awakening because he saw how much money was in it. Perhaps he was sincerely delusional. Perhaps he had a substance abuse problem.

    The only difference between old religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism) and new one’s (Mormonism, Scientology) is that their origins are lost in the mist of the past. We don’t know if the old ones started as lies to intentionally delude people or common ignorance, though we can be sure they perpetuate on the basis of intentional lies.

    The modern religions have no such excuse. Smith’s story is so obviously balderdash that its difficult to understand how there are nearly 15 million followers. The same goes for Scientology, Theosophy, and a slew of other modern incarnations.

    If Charles Ponzi had had a “vision” would his religion be called Ponzism and the followers Ponzites?

  32. Q.E.D says

    Signs your religion may be made up bullshit:

    1) Your prophet was a convicted con man
    2) Your founder was a science fiction writer
    3) Despite your prophet being the son of god and doing miracles all over Judea, there is not one single contemporary document mentioning him or his miracles.

  33. Sastra says

    ottod #30 wrote:

    If you’re going to criticize the Mormons, do it for their current views on current issues and forget about the dubious historical beginnings of their faith.

    To quote PZ Myers, from the title of this particular post, “Truth ought to matter.”

    I’ll throw in Voltaire, too: “Those who can make you believe in absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”

    The Mormon Church’s political attack on gay marriage, for instance, is directly inspired by their religious faith. So we are to busy ourselves with what lies on the surface — and leave the actual cause alone?

    Tell you what: I will agree that whether God exists, or whether prophets and mystics and seers have channeled Holy Scripture explaining its Will, or whether the Book of Mormon is historically true — are all unimportant … when the religious themselves agree that such matters are unimportant.

    And they have to agree with that when skeptics are NOT in the room and they’re just trying to change the subject and shut us up. They have to agree that objective, empirical truth is unimportant to them among themselves and in private and in public and in print. That’s my requirement. The religious and spiritual get together and explain that it’s all just been role-playing and community and personal narratives and therapeutic fun-and-games which doesn’t mean anything which translates into how reality really is — and THEN we’ll stop pointing out that “particularly egregious noxious offal” IS particularly egregious noxious offal — okay?

    Till then, no. It’s not as if criticizing religions for their truth claims is just so common in US culture that the market for that is saturated past all relevance. Jeez.

  34. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    If you’re going to criticize the Mormons, do it for their current views on current issues and forget about the dubious historical beginnings of their faith. Are there ad garmentum or ad sillibookium arguments?

    So, what is wrong with condemning Mormonism for both it’s bullshit beginnings and the fact that it’s church spend millions on anti-LGBT laws?

    I really do not give a fuck about their magic underwear, they are out to make life for people like me more dangerous.

  35. chuckonpiggott says

    And when wwe get done here we can discuss who wrote the book of love.
    It is just about as relevant.

    (you notice I started that sentence with a conjunction, so Joseph Smith)

  36. cactuswren says

    I sometimes suspect Terry Pratchett must have thinking of the LDS when he invented Nugganism (a religion so frequently updated, its holy book is a ring binder).

  37. john3141592 says

    I keep thinking of a freshman writing assignment — “Compare and contrast: Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard.”

  38. pacal says

    The Book of Mormon is in fact rather boring. I’m not impressed with the fact that the writer of this article failed to find out that5 the book was and is badly written for the most part. Further he utterly fails to notice that large sections of the book are direct copies of sections of the King James Bible. Those sections have some literary value sadly most of the Book of Morman is simply bad early 17th century english.

    I’m also bemused by his uncritical acceptance of the story of the dictation, which was attested too by true believers later. Why should that be taken any more seriously than the alleged witnesses who “saw” the golden plates?

    I note the author avoids dealing with the fact that masses of evidence doesn’t just not support the Book of Mormon but directly contradicts it. I note he doesn’t deal with the absurd sections that talk about ,iron, cattle, steel, horses, chariots. grapes. barley all shall we say extremely dubious for pre-Columbian America. The book is a clear fantasy not to be taken seriously has “real” history.

    I note that the author does not even allude to the racism of the Book of Mormon, where the good Nephites are “white and delightsome”, and the evil Lamanites are dark skinned.

  39. unclefrogy says

    yes of course all praise the holly ring binder!!
    accecpt ye all the sacred updates!

    look all who think they are so smart you know the best approach to any of these religions OK that’s you, everyone else will do what the hell they want.
    Take my word for it you will get along much better because there is nothing you are likely to do to change that any way.
    In other words say what you want how you want OK do not tell me what I can say or how to say it unless I am in error listen or not it’s up to you!
    uncle frogy

  40. mikeymeitbual says

    Viewed in the light of early 19th century New England folk superstition, it’s evident to anyone that was not raised in the LDS church that it’s complete and utter bull shit. Anyone who raised in the church, depending on their inclination toward critical thinking, may or may not swallow the entire pile.

    I feel fortunate that I was exposed to a Cult of the Dead Cow article early in life that exposed the lies. Joseph Smith was no prophet – he was a con artist and a womanizer. He married Orson Hyde’s wife Nancy while Hyde was away serving a mission in England because “he received a revelation from God”… in the form of thinking dirty thoughts about her whilst laying in bed one night. I always encourage LDS faithful to read Smith’s own journals if they want to know the truth. He readily admits to his scams in his journals.

  41. lpetrich says

    Mormon apologists have backtracked on their claims of New World prehistory. Some of them now claim that the Book of Mormon’s account is of a small area in Central or South America. How convenient!

    This is a cartoon from an old anti-Mormon film, but most of it is accurate: The Secret World of Mormonism – Mormon Cartoon – YouTube

    Inventing Latin names for fallacies can be fun, so here are more proper Latin versions of some of those that were mentioned earlier here:

    Argumentum ex vestimentibus
    Argumentum ex stultitate libri

  42. mikeymeitbual says

    pacal, many LDS faithful cite Smith’s plagiarism of the “chiasmus” form that is so prevalent in the biblical book of Isaiah as evidence that Smith COULDN’T have written it himself. I don’t know how they fail to notice that he plagiarized a great deal of the book of Isaiah while he was at it.

    My family is LDS. Myself and my 3 brothers all left the church once we left the house, but my parents and 3 sisters remain faithful. Attempts to have reasonable conversations about the matter are always defeated by logical fallacies and people misconstruing critique of ideas as personal critique. It sucks and it breaks my heart that they all donate 10% of their income to the scam. Claims that the LDS church does good things for families are bullshit as well – they might be charitable, but ask any husband who has a calling higher than ward chorister and they’ll tell you how much time they spend away from their families performing church duties. It is really painful.

  43. mikeymeitbual says

    robro, their claims of 15 million are HIGHLY inflated. They count inactive members, dead members, etc in their numbers. I’d estimate they’re closer to 5 or 6 million. My estimate is totally off-the-cuff without any evidence to back it, though, so take it for what it’s worth. The creative accounting of membership numbers is, however, 100% factual.

  44. im says

    There are some kind of wierd things going on about how a number of people who fell out from the LDS kept defending some stuff like the gold plates and other such weirdness. It makes me wonder what was going on, it was evidently more than a *simple* con, or part of a complicated culture maybe.

    It is still very ridiculous.

  45. alektorophile says

    @ Ottod

    If you’re going to criticize the Mormons, do it for their current views on current issues and forget about the dubious historical beginnings of their faith

    Of course their silly book matters, if nothing else because of the deeply racist, white-supremacist garbage version of prehistory of the Americas it teaches. Just the thought of those missionaries crawling around Latin America with the goal of teaching those heathen natives that their cursed dark-skinned ancestors are nothing to be proud of, no señor, it was just really a bunch of blue-eyed Hebrews who built those nice pyramids you see, makes me want to puke.

    And on a more personal pet peeve of mine, why do Mormon temples have to be so damn ugly? I mean, objectively speaking, they are a real eyesore. They’re just the architectural equivalent of the Book of Mormon: part historical fantasy, part Disneyland, part hocus-pocus, and white all over.

  46. alektorophile says

    @47

    Mormon apologists have backtracked on their claims of New World prehistory. Some of them now claim that the Book of Mormon’s account is of a small area in Central or South America. How convenient!

    Indeed. I have seen that argument made, too. Too bad there isn’t a weeny tiny bit of archaeological evidence anywhere in any weeny tiny bit of the Americas for pre-conquest horses, swords, chariots, sheep, and all that other nonsense claimed by that fraudster. But of course, as Minchin puts it, “faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved”, so there is nothing that will ever convince a true believer.

  47. says

    People falling out of the faith in large part but still defending bits and pieces of dogma and specific legends is not at all unusual. You see it in apostates from ‘mainstream’ sects and in those departing even from NRMs with a reputation for extreme insularity and predatory behaviour. It’s more jarring in the latter, I guess… I find it positively bizarre, for instance, seeing departing Scientologists, taking the brutal social hits that do come with that, possibly still ringing up the bill for all that was wrung out of them, yet still insisting the ‘tech’ is still fine, it’s just that the current organization is corrupt or something, but there they are, jarring or no.

    I suspect it’s a relative of the sunk cost fallacy. People are reluctant to accept the whole thing was just bull because they had invested so much, and being able to console yourself with the notion that hey, maybe thus bit here wasn’t, it takes some of the sting out of losing years of your life and who knows how much cash… Not to mention the embarrassment at being taken. And of course they may still have friends inside, and that, too, can make taking too direct a look into the cesspool painful. Having to think, damn, they’re still in that, it’s likely, again, to get you looking for ways to soften the impact, convince yourself, hey, maybe it’s not all that bad, not all nonsense.

  48. raven says

    robro, their claims of 15 million are HIGHLY inflated.

    Even the LDS church occasionally admits that.

    abc4.com SLC station:

    Number of faithful Mormons rapidly declining

    Updated: 1/31 6:25 pm | Published: 1/31 12:18 pm
    Reported by: Brian Carlson VideoImages

    Number of faithful Mormons rapidly declining
    LDS General Conference (ABC 4 News)

    SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) –
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is losing a record number of its membership. A new report quotes an LDS general authority who said more members are falling away today than any time in the past 175 years.

    It is known that the LDS church blatantly inflates their numbers like many religions do. A lot of them just count baptisms, which is meaningless.

    It’s not known with too much certainty how many Mormons are active. An independent survey says 5 million worldwide. The rest are inactive, apathetic, or just gone.

    The retention rates of converts is also low. Outside the USA it is around zero and it isn’t much better within the USA.

  49. richardjohnson says

    … and one of the people who wants to be the President of the United States, actually believes this crap! That’s scary! But then, other Christian Presidents have only been a little less scary.

    (Remember, Mormonism is the only religion out there which makes concrete claims which can easily be tested and found, scientifically, to be absolutely wrong.)

  50. says

    (Remember, Mormonism is the only religion out there which makes concrete claims which can easily be tested and found, scientifically, to be absolutely wrong.)

    Adam and Eve. Mjollnir, Indra, Zeus. Meridians.

  51. Snoof says

    (Remember, Mormonism is the only religion out there which makes concrete claims which can easily be tested and found, scientifically, to be absolutely wrong.)

    Adam and Eve. Mjollnir, Indra, Zeus. Meridians.

    Scientology. The Prosperity Gospel.

  52. anteprepro says

    (Remember, Mormonism is the only religion out there which makes concrete claims which can easily be tested and found, scientifically, to be absolutely wrong.)

    For fuck’s sake, you do know why creationism is a thing, right?

  53. dawnofthenerds says

    It also bears mentioning that the Hebrews weren’t white. (Caveat about how we can’t know the ethnic makeup of any rather diverse community of people based on a few skeletons, archaeologists have tried and failed spectacularly, blah, blah, blah). The Hebrews weren’t white at the time of the Babylonian conquest, and Jews weren’t considered white when the Book of Mormon was written. At that point, even Eastern Europeans and the Irish weren’t considered ‘really white.’ You can make an argument that Joseph Smith is yet another racist asshat retconning a historical group of people as white, the same way scholars retconned the Egyptians at one point, but that’s about it.