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The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses


Analytics

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I think the obvious difference would be that there is evidence that a crime was committed so you and your friend were witness's to the crime and can explicate on what you saw. In the case of the Book of Mormon we have plates that were not left here for our viewing so the Lord established witness's that they indeed existed. We have the Book of Mormon itself as an evidence of the book but the witness's were testifying that indeed the plates in which Joseph translated from existed. We no longer have to accept Joseph's single testimony any longer.

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Being hand picked goes to bias, not admissiblity.

The statements would be inadmissible for several reasons.

First, they lack adequate foundation. When, where and under what circumstances did this take place.

Second, the statements are leading. If you are going to present a witness to support your claim, he need to tell what happened in his own words.

Then you have hearsay objection.

Of course, just because they are not admissible in court doensnt mean that it didnt happen.

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T: The simple fact is whats we gots is whats we got. And after 175 years NO ONE has been able to demonstrate what they ever denied their testamonies of the plates.

A: If the witnesses in my analogy never denied their joint testimony, how much proof would that be that Johnny was innocent? My question is simply,

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Nice one, Analytics. Let's rely upon legal technicalities to establish questions of fact.

Your farcical "Franky and Johnny" story isn't even remotely analogous, and I'm astonished that you would think it was.

Of course the witness statements (as they stand) wouldn't be admissible; they're not sworn affidavits.

But since they weren't written for any such purpose, that is hardly reflective of their evidentiary value.

But what would happen if each of the eleven witnesses were to stand up in court and swear to the events taking place as described in those statements, as they did many times throughout their lives? That might be a different kettle of fish, mightn't it?

Of course, the Three testified to a miraculous manifestation involving an angel, and in many jurisdictions that kind of testimony is inadmissible anyway. But what about the Eight?

Contrary to recent revisionist efforts to redefine their experience for them, they actually reported a perfectly natural occurrence, in which they saw and handled the plates as a physical object. If they were to reaffirm this under oath--as they did in many other circumstances throughout their lives--would that stand up in court?

I'm rather inclined to think so. Of course, some cheap shyster might try to undermine them with nasty insinuations about being "hand picked" etc., but that kind of argument won't fly.

One possible line of rebuttal might be to introduce evidence to the effect that one or other of them was reported as saying that the experience was somehow miraculous in nature. But wait--you can't do that.

Hearsay is not admissible either.

Hoist on your own petard!

Regards,

Pahoran

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Hello Analytics,

I am impressed by the witnesses testimony and failure to ever recant if it were false. I think your making a categorical mistake with your analogy. In the law I would be very interested in the minutest of details regarding intent, mitigation, and the differing points of testimony that always occur to weed out testimonial elements. Minute points of law could be relevant to minute points of testimony and the defense thereof through inconsistent statements or variations. But rarely when 11 witnesses saw an event or object do we question the fact THAT what the witnesses are testifying about occurred. Rather, the law is more interested in the exact "what" of testimony i.e. what exactly happened next, and then what, what color hair, how much change, how fast, was a turn signal on etc.. Regarding the 11 witnesses the pertinent information is the more difficult to fail to see or experience - the experience itself - that they saw the plates!

My regards,

mikwut

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1- My friend and I were witnesses because we happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The 11 witnesses were witnesses because they were hand-picked by the person with the incredible story.

It does seem to me that witnesses are hand picked for court cases. They have to be credible; they have to fit a certain criteria. If a black american committed a crime and the defense has 2 witnesses in his defense, one poor black man and one well to do white man, the defense would put the white man on the stand. The witnesses had to fit a certain spiritual requirement in order to be able to see the plates. The eye witnesses of a crime had to fit a certain physical requirement. Eyes, for example, would be a good asset. Ears as well. They should be unrelated to the suspect, acceptable to the jury, credible to the judge.

The Book of Mormon witnesses would not be admissible in court but that is not the type of witnesses they are. I think you are creating a false relationship. A witness in a court case to testify of a crime would not be admissible in a scientific study of the result of vehicular impact. You would need a qualified scientist. Perhaps if someone could explain why they were required in the first place we would have a better understanding of their purpose.

By the way, where would I find these testimonies? Are they in the Book of Mormon or the D&C?

Chone Liu

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Of course the witness statements (as they stand) wouldn't be admissible; they're not sworn affidavits.

Not even sworn affidavits are admissible in court trials. Any out-of-court statement basically is hearsay, whether sworn to or not. (There are exceptions, none of which apply here.)

The witnesses' statements set forth what they would say under any circumstance. Had the exact statements we see in their statement been repeated in court, they would have been admissible. There is adequate foundation.

To me, the three and eight witnesses provide the most impermeable evidence of the miracles which support the restoration. Not a single witness ever recanted, and any claim of "spiritual eyes" (third party statements, as I recall) is refuted by solid statements to the contrary. A reading of the compilation of David Whitmer's interviews shows an unshakable witness. That many of these witnesses left the Church, never recanting, is even greater evidence of the quality of their testimony. The supportive testimony of an adversary is among the strongest classes of evidence.

This happens to be the way the Lord works. Four Gospel witnesses. Mark himself seems to have abandoned the work for a time.

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Martin Harris:

I never saw the golden plates, only in a visionary or entranced state. I wrote a great deal of the Book of Mormon myself, as Joseph Smith translated or spelled the words out in English. Sometimes the plates would be on a table in the room in which Smith did the translating, covered over with a cloth. I was told by Smith that God would strike him dead if he attempted to look at them, and I believed it. When the time came for the three witnesses to see the plates, Joseph Smith, myself, David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery, went into the woods to pray. When they had engaged in prayer, they failed at the time to see the plates or the angel who should have been on hand to exhibit them. They all believed it was because I was not good enough, or in other words, not sufficiently sanctified. I withdrew. As soon as I had gone away, the three others saw the angel and the plates. In about three days I went into the woods to pray that I might see the plates. While praying I passed into a state of entrancement, and in that state I saw the angel and the plates. (Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, p. 70-71.) [1]

Frog

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Martin Harris:
I never saw the golden plates, only in a visionary or entranced state... (Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, p. 70-71.) [1]

Frog

Sorry Froggie, but Mr. Metcalf is not Martin Harris. This is exactly what is meant by hearsay, and excluded under that rule. You can't oppose someone's direct testimony with a statement attributed to him at second hand by someone else. The most you can do is confront him with the alleged statement and ask him if he is being accurately reported or not. His answer to that question is dispositive of its evidentiary value.

And thus it is.

Regards,

Pahoran

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How impressed would you be by this testimony?

I would be and am very impressed by the testimony of the Eight Witnesses.

Superficial attempts to brush their testimony aside, however, don't impress me at all.

The best book on the Witnesses, incidentally, was written by Richard L. Anderson, and is entitled Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses. As it turns out, Professor Anderson not only has a Ph.D. in (ancient) history from the University of California at Berkeley but a law degree from Harvard. He's impressed, too.

I don't think such testimonies are even admissable in court, and there's no way I'd accept them.

Did you accept them before you became a never-Mormon?

People have been wrongly convicted because of mistaken identity by a witness, they were found to be innocent because of DNA.

So do you perhaps believe that witness testimony should never be believed? People have sometimes mistakenly thought they saw water in the desert. Since mirages can sometimes mimic water, should we presume that water never exists?

DNA proves that the claims of the BoM are false, and the figment of a very active imagination.

That is absolutely and utterly untrue.

Incidentally, one of the foremost experts on the forensic use of DNA in the world is Dr. John Butler, who, so far as I'm aware, still serves as bishop of the Gaithersburg (Maryland) Second Ward in the suburban Washington DC area. For information on Dr. Butler, see

http://www.cstl.nist.gov/biotech/strbase/butler.htm

and

http://www.ourpublicservice.org/staff_name...m?doc_id=228726

and

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20020626-3.html

For Dr. Butler's views on the issue of Amerindian DNA and the Book of Mormon, and the views of a number of other very distinguished scholars and scientists, see the essays listed and linked at

http://farms.byu.edu/publications/dna.php?...ion=dna&cat=dna

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> A friend and I once witnessed a crime and had to put our testimony about what happened in writing.

==So your being a witness was a matter of chance. There are many situations where becoming a witness is planned. For example, yesterday I had a client sign an affidavit. This signing was witnessed and attested to by a notary public. It was also witnessed (but not attested to) by our secretary, who just happened to be in the room at the time.

==Should the need for witness testimony as to this affidavit come up, which one, the notary or the secretary, would be more effective? The notary, of course.

==It was the notary that requested my client to produce identification (his driver's license). The notary then examined the license to make sure the person presenting it is the same person signing the affidavit. The secretary did none of this.

==The notary also personally observed my client sign the affidavit, whereas the secretary may not have been paying attention at that moment.

==The notary also attested to the authenticity of the signature by signing the jurat (a certification on an affidavit declaring when, where, and before whom it was sworn) and stamping it with his notary seal. The secretary did not sign the jurat, stamp the affidavit, or even look at the affidavit closely.

==In sum, there are many circumstances in which a planned witness is more credible and reliable than an incidental one.

> I

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How impressed would you be by this testimony?

I would be and am very impressed by the testimony of the Eight Witnesses.

Superficial attempts to brush their testimony aside, however, don't impress me at all.

The best book on the Witnesses, incidentally, was written by Richard L. Anderson, and is entitled Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses. As it turns out, Professor Anderson not only has a Ph.D. in (ancient) history from the University of California at Berkeley but a law degree from Harvard. He's impressed, too.

I don't think such testimonies are even admissable in court, and there's no way I'd accept them.

Did you accept them before you became a never-Mormon?

People have been wrongly convicted because of mistaken identity by a witness, they were found to be innocent because of DNA.

So do you perhaps believe that witness testimony should never be believed? People have sometimes mistakenly thought they saw water in the desert. Since mirages can sometimes mimic water, should we presume that water never exists?

DNA proves that the claims of the BoM are false, and the figment of a very active imagination.

That is absolutely and utterly untrue.

Incidentally, one of the foremost experts on the forensic use of DNA in the world is Dr. John Butler, who, so far as I'm aware, still serves as bishop of the Gaithersburg (Maryland) Second Ward in the suburban Washington DC area. For information on Dr. Butler, see

http://www.cstl.nist.gov/biotech/strbase/butler.htm

and

http://www.ourpublicservice.org/staff_name...m?doc_id=228726

and

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20020626-3.html

For Dr. Butler's views on the issue of Amerindian DNA and the Book of Mormon, and the views of a number of other very distinguished scholars and scientists, see the essays listed and linked at

http://farms.byu.edu/publications/dna.php?...ion=dna&cat=dna

That's all fine and dandy, Priestess might say, but the testimony of witnesses such as Butler is useless--he could be mistaken. No, we need DNA to prove that DNA does not prove that the "claims of the Boof of Mormon are false." Then we'll believe.

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Dang it, smac97, the question is whether the testimony of the Eight Witnesses would be admissible in a court of law. This thread is supposed to be a fact-free zone, a playground in which non-lawyers show that that testimony is completely worthless.

Please don't ruin it by discussing actual rules of legal evidence and introducing things like facts and logical analysis. You're raining on the parade.

Incidentally, in the current issue of the FARMS Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Richard Anderson has an article examining some recent attempts to reduce the testimony of the Eight Witnesses to something unreal. He is unimpressed, as am I.

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For Pahoran and Smac,

Please explain to me why you would have any reason to disbelieve the interviews Metcalf made with both Harris and Whitmer. I could reasonably dismiss the three witnesses based on character, but have chosen not to for purposes of trying to find truth in it all. Do you have any reason why I should suspect Metcalf is making the whole thing up?

Thanks.

Frog

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Do you have any reason why I should suspect Metcalf is making the whole thing up?

"Metcalf is making the whole thing up" and "Metcalf is inerrant" aren't the only two alternatives.

It's very possible that Metcalf misheard or misunderstood something that Martin Harris actually said. After all, there are plenty of people even today who, when they find the occasional second-hand Witness statement about seeing with "spiritual eyes" -- even though those statements are awash in a sea of other statements about "hefting" the plates and about seeing them "with these eyes" and holding them "with these hands" -- automatically misread that to mean that the Witness was actually only hallucinating. This is especially the case with people who want to understand it that way.

Priestess tells us that witness testimony is largely worthless. She goes too far, of course, but it would be very odd, wouldn't it?, if the Book of Mormon Witnesses were to be dismissed on the grounds that witness testimony is not inerrant, while Metcalf is regarded as having transcended human fallibility.

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Sometimes people point out that of the witnesses, some were related. But I know I wouldn't falsely testify for my brother or uncle, or even my best friend (and friends are probably more likey to be pawns of conspiracy than family members, I think). You also have to find out what interests, if any, the witnesses might have had, financially or otherwise.

It's not a matter of just eight witnesses, or three. Joseph had witnesses to every major event. The restoration of the priesthood, the three degrees of glory, the restoration of various and sundry keys -- even the Kirtland temple dedication, where many recorded in their journals that they saw angels and other magnificent sights. None of which PROVE anything beyong question. But witnesses are something that true prophets seem to have, whether it be Moses, where 70 elders saw God and several million saw the fire and smoke on the mountain; Jesus, who was seen by Peter, James and John during the transfiguration on the mount, etc.

How many witnesses did Muhammad have? How many did Ellen G. White have? To think that entire religions would be based on just one witness is, to me, astounding. Even the revelation on priesthood in 1978 had the entire Qof12 as witnesses. President Kimball could have easily said he had a revelation and who in the heirarchy of the church would have opposed him? None. In other words, even when no witnesses are needed, there are many times witnesses because that's the way the Lord works. Critics may say they're not impressed, but I'm impressed, and that's all that matters to me. In this day and age when you can get that many people saying they heard an actual voice and felt powerfully the Spirit of God -- that's pretty remarkable.

Cold Steel

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> Please explain to me why you would have any reason to disbelieve the interviews Metcalf made with both Harris and Whitmer.

==That's not the way it works. Hearsay is presumptively unreliable. If you want to rely on it, you have to establish its trustworthiness.

> I could reasonably dismiss the three witnesses based on character,

==I'm not sure about that.

> but have chosen not to for purposes of trying to find truth in it all. Do you have any reason why I should suspect Metcalf is making the whole thing up?

==I have reason to deem hearsay as presumptively unreliable. And that's even without knowing thing one about Mr. Metcalf.

-Smac

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