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The Plates Have Been Found!


cksalmon

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Okay. Not really. But let's probe the hypothetical, if you're willing.

The manifestly 19th C. "plates" are discovered in someone's attic. They match the descriptions given in the historical literature. They're of modern manufacture.

Would this render the BoM "untrue?" Would you consider the modern "plates" merely a tool for a spiritual translation, much as those who espouse the catalyst theory for BoA? Would this cast doubt on your conviction that the English-language BoM is a true record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas? How would your view of the LDS religion change, if at all?

Curious.

CKS

Well, obviously it wouldn't change my views that much. But the more interesting question is what would the Church do?

The obvious initial reaction would be "oh, if they're made in the 19th century, then these aren't Joseph's plates", and life goes on. There are simply too many problems with "finding the plates"; they could have been manufactured by old tyme anti-mormons and forgotten. They could have been a prop in an early Palmyra roadshow (I believe the revelation restoring roadshows to the Lords Church was given shortly after publication of the Book of Mormon). It just wouldn't stick.

The only way it would be a "problem" would be if the Church has had them all along, and finally produced them for testing. Then there could be no doubt as to their authenticity. But I would expect the Church to conduct such tests privately. If it were to do so publicly, and the result was negative, then this is how I would expect it to play out:

- 14% of active members would refuse to believe it. They would think God had changed the nature of the plates as a test of their faith.

- 9% of active members would be kind of confused, but continue to believe the Book of Mormon is a literal history revealed to Joseph as revelation using the plates as a conduit or prop.

- 77% would never hear about it, and would consider it an anti-Mormon lie if they did.

- 100% of inactive members would shrug their shoulders and return to their depraved, hedonistic, coffee drinking lifestyle.

Over the next 36 years, the Church would slowly shift it's focus from a literal belief in the Book of Mormon. Eventually, there would be fewer mentions of it in conference and church magazines. The curriculum in Gospel Doctrine would be changed so we don't study different scriptures each year. Missionaries would focus on the First Vision and modern revelation, with hardly a mention of the Book of Mormon. The Church would begin publishing a "condensed" version of the Book of Mormon in pamphlet form, and over time, this would become the accepted version, and folded into the Pearl of Great Price. Church movies would still show Christ visiting the new world, but they wouldn't look like Mayans, but instead they would be bearded Caucasians again.

Hypothetically speaking.

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We have a more stunning situation than a mere hypothetical though CKSalmon....... we actually ***DO HAVE*** real plates made out of real gold and silver with ancient writing on them, dating back to 600 B.C. If your hypothetical is significant, this actual reality is down right ASTOUNDING........... I'll raise your mere hypothetical with a historical reality.

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Cinepro's hypothetical is, of course, what the skeptics daydream about. (O frabjous day! they would exclaim... :P )

Such speculation has occurred before... I remember when the Economist (a British newsmagazine to which I subscribed then, and now) reporting on the Mark Hoffman case back in 1985 included a report (based on no evidence whatsoever) that the Church was commissioning scholars at BYU to prepare the way for an impending announcement that the BofM was actually inspired fiction. In the ensuing issue of the magazine, I was amused to note that an LDS Church spokesman in London had sent a letter telling the Economist that the story was merely "wishful thinking" on the part of the reporter.

<_<

Beowulf

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I was going to answer that what a relief because I don't have to worry about your hypothetical... but then I thought more about it, and any such scenario for me would result in great skepticism, mainly because of my spiritual witness regarding the BoM. Of course I would be one of the skeptics and think it was all a conspiracy :P to ruin the Church... and require serious proof to the contrary. Something like that could very well happen, but it would not change my opinion of the BoM until it could be proven unequivocably that JS made those plates, etc., etc. And I just don't see that happening... why? because of the spiritual witness I mentioned...

Garden Girl

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The manifestly 19th C. "plates" are discovered in someone's attic. They match the descriptions given in the historical literature. They're of modern manufacture.

Would this render the BoM "untrue?"

If -- you left this out, but you presume it -- it were somehow definitively established that these Vogelian plates were the very plates spoken of by Joseph Smith and the various Witnesses, then yes, this would render the Book of Mormon untrue in the senses important to me.

Would you consider the modern "plates" merely a tool for a spiritual translation, much as those who espouse the catalyst theory for BoA?

No, I wouldn't regard them as a tool for spiritual translation. And, by the way, I don't see this scenario as comparable to the so-called "catalyst theory." The element of conscious and deliberate fraud in this scenario, involving the purposive manufacture of an artifact intended to deceive, is absent from the "catalyst theory."

Would this cast doubt on your conviction that the English-language BoM is a true record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas?

It would destroy it.

How would your view of the LDS religion change, if at all?

I would regard it as a beautiful dream that was, sadly, untrue and the product of fraud.

And I'll bet that some out there will be surprised by what I've written here -- which will, astoundingly, fail to lead them to recognize that they don't really understand me and never really have.

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My hypothetical question is whether or not you would view your faith differently if it were conclusively demonstrated that the plates JS claimed were from God turned out to be a prop manufactured in the 19th C.

Best.

CKS

One would have to show that the plates in question where the plates mentioned. I would gather it would be signiificant as say the ark of the covenant was just an ancient prop made to get those silly hebrews to follow Moses.

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1. The "catalyst" theory with the BOA is not necessary at all, given the evidence that Joseph gave away a ton of the scrolls obtained, so it's not surprising that a fragment was eventually found. Not brain surgery here.

2. As the BOA, but even more so with the BOM, there is considerable history etc. in relation to the plates being the "actual" plates. Some may "try" to get away with a catalyst theory with the BOA by ignoring significant facts, but it simply could not be done with the BOM. Sure, I'm sure some could do it, but it's equivalent to the fantasy in the face of reality that the anti's actually accuse us of now. It would be actual fantasy belief, based on actual ignoring of facts.

3. I nor most of us would no longer be in the Church if there ended up being any "actual" evidence of it's falsehood. We aren't in this game solely because of "feeling". We are in it for the Truth. Of course, if it did end up being false, then all the others out there would be as well, because there is simply nothing better overall.

4. So your clear.... The plates had the "appearance" of gold, they were "golden", not actually WHOLE GOLD. :P

So, they could still be "tin".

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At the root of it, I suppose, you're asking the question, what would we do if, suddenly, one was able to prove that our church was false without a doubt. And, usually, when people ask hypothetical questions, they've got something they're fishing for.

Would anyone ever say: no, I would continue to believe something even though it was proven to be false? Well, no one has so far, but the question could be reversed and put this way: "If the Book of Mormon could be proven enequivocably true, historically, and the plates were produced, would it cause church critics to join the church?" It may be simple to reply, yes, who wouldn't? But experience and prophets have indicated otherwise.

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We have a more stunning situation than a mere hypothetical though CKSalmon....... we actually ***DO HAVE*** real plates made out of real gold and silver with ancient writing on them, dating back to 600 B.C. If your hypothetical is significant, this actual reality is down right ASTOUNDING........... I'll raise your mere hypothetical with a historical reality.

I assume you don't mean that we have the actual Book of Mormon plates. Why should it be astounding that we have other kinds of ancient metal plates with writing on them? I realize that a Baptist critic named Martin Thomas Lamb ridiculed this idea in 1885, and that (according to a FARMS book by John Tvedtnes) this ridicule was recently repeated in conversation by some random member's "Baptist daughter", but I really doubt that any thinking person (they are Baptists, after all :P ) would consider it improbable that ancient people wrote on metal plates.

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1. The "catalyst" theory with the BOA is not necessary at all, given the evidence that Joseph gave away a ton of the scrolls obtained, so it's not surprising that a fragment was eventually found. Not brain surgery here.

You apparently aren't all that familiar with the Book of Abraham controversy. I recommend looking here for a brief primer:

http://bookofabraham.com/boamathie/BOA_5.html

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Okay. Not really. But let's probe the hypothetical, if you're willing.

The manifestly 19th C. "plates" are discovered in someone's attic. They match the descriptions given in the historical literature. They're of modern manufacture.

Would this render the BoM "untrue?" Would you consider the modern "plates" merely a tool for a spiritual translation, much as those who espouse the catalyst theory for BoA? Would this cast doubt on your conviction that the English-language BoM is a true record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas? How would your view of the LDS religion change, if at all?

Not at all. Mark Hoffman already tried this trick.

In a lengthy discussion on another thread, I proved that tin is not a viable alternative to gold when it comes to making thin plates on which figures can be inscribed.

Bernard

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Your brief primer is pretty biased. Let me balance it.

Try these links: http://jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_Abraham.shtml

http://www.boap.org

I am quite familiar with them. Lindsay's appeal to the "black and red ink" argument is misguided for the reason he himself notes: "It is possible that the description of red ink and excellent preservation applied to only one part of the set (the incomplete Book of the Dead)". That he is dismissive of this argument does not alter its validity, especially when one considers that the Book of the Dead-- a document covered with beautiful illustrations that Cowdery and others described in great detail-- seems to have been the one Joseph most commonly displayed to visitors. The evidence that the Book of Breathings was the source of the Book of Abraham is quite decisive, and is even moreso when the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar is added to the mix.

Best,

-Chris

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The manifestly 19th C. "plates" are discovered in someone's attic. They match the descriptions given in the historical literature. They're of modern manufacture.

This sounds a lot like some lead(?) plates found on top of a 30 year-old concrete floor but under 10 years of bat guano.

Deja vu.

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- 14% of active members would refuse to believe it. They would think God had changed the nature of the plates as a test of their faith.

- 9% of active members would be kind of confused, but continue to believe the Book of Mormon is a literal history revealed to Joseph as revelation using the plates as a conduit or prop.

- 77% would never hear about it, and would consider it an anti-Mormon lie if they did.

- 100% of inactive members would shrug their shoulders and return to their depraved, hedonistic, coffee drinking lifestyle.

I have a stat. that 87% er uh 87.1% of stats are made up on the spot. WHo knew?

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My hypothetical question is whether or not you would view your faith differently if it were conclusively demonstrated that the plates JS claimed were from God turned out to be a prop manufactured in the 19th C.

Best.

CKS

I have a hard time imagining a situation in which such a thing could be "conclusively" demonstrated. Certainly the existence of the Kinderhook Plates should demonstrate the need for circumspection before jumping to such a conclusion.

-Smac

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I have to wonder at the hypothetical. Had Joseph manufactured plates this would seem to contradict what the Book of Mormon itself says about the plates; that they will be shown to witnesses who will bear record of what they saw. The Book of Mormon text nowhere indicates the prophet of the future will manufacture fake plates; it says the actual plates will be shown and testified of.

In short, it seems like you are saying "if you discovered the Book of Mormon wasn't true, would you still believe it was true?" In a similar vein I would ask you, ck, if the bones of Jesus Christ were discovered in a tomb in Jerusalem with a note saying "just kidding, everybody! signed- Jesus" would you still believe the New Testament account of the resurrection, etc.?

Indeed I would stop believing if Jesus were conclusively proven to have not risen from the dead.

If Jesus is not risen, and if death had not been defeated, we are but fools and are faith is in vain.

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Okay. Not really. But let's probe the hypothetical, if you're willing.

The manifestly 19th C. "plates" are discovered in someone's attic. They match the descriptions given in the historical literature. They're of modern manufacture.

Would this render the BoM "untrue?" Would you consider the modern "plates" merely a tool for a spiritual translation, much as those who espouse the catalyst theory for BoA? Would this cast doubt on your conviction that the English-language BoM is a true record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas? How would your view of the LDS religion change, if at all?

Curious.

CKS

The above smells like it has as its basis Vogel's hypothesis that Joseph Smith could have made some plates out of tin to show the witnesses something tangible. We know that some of the accounts do not leave room for doubt that something tangible was shown to the eight witnesses. One such example is that of John Whitmer, who knew he saw and handled something tangible and heavy, with engravings on it. In this light, the following account will be of interest.

I said: I am aware that your name is affixed to the testimony in the Book of Mormon, that you saw the plates?

He--It is so, and that testimony is true.

I--Did you handle the plates with your hands?

He--I did so!

I--Then they were a material substance?

He--Yes, as material as anything can be.

I--They were heavy to lift?

He--Yes, and as you know gold is a heavy metal, they were very heavy.

I--How big were the leaves?

He--So far as I recollect, 8 by 6 or 7 inches.

I--Were the leaves thick?

He--Yes, just so thick, that characters could be engraven on both sides.

I--How were the leaves joined together?

He--In three rings, each one in the shape of a D with the straight line towards the center.

I--In what place did you see the plates.

He--In Joseph Smithâ??s house; he had them there.

I--Did you see them covered with a cloth?

He--No. He handed them uncovered into our hands, and we turned the leaves sufficient to satisfy us.

I--were you all eight witnesses present at the same time?

He--No. At that time Joseph showed the plates to us, we were four persons, present in the room, and at another time he showed them to four persons more.

(P. Wilhelm Poulson, M.D. to the editors of the Deseret News, 31 July 1878, "Correspondence" in Deseret News, 14 August 1878, bold emphasis mine; original at: http://udn.lib.utah.edu/u?/deseretnews6,8525 Accessed 10-12-2007)

As an aside, I would be careful with these kinds of speculations in a public forum. These sorts of speculations I am sure gave Hoffman some of his ideas, and repeating such things too often may give someone ideas. I "predict" that someone with a grudge against the Church will one day manufacture a set of plates from actual pieces of 19th century tin so as to get the composition right and hide them in someone's attic. Not long after that, they will be discovered and revealed to the world, complete with a letter to an ancestor of the family in whose attic the fakes were hidden, written on genuine 19th century paper and saying something to the effect that the ancestor should destroy the plates as he did not have enough time to get rid of them and that he was counting on this ancestor to get rid of the plates for him, also thanking him for dressing in white and pretending to be Moroni. D. Michael Quinn and Van Wagoner will be all over it and jointly write another "New Mormon History" book addressing the making of plates and crop circles, and how they relate to the occult ideas that Joseph Smith was born with, along with that palm-pilot with backlight to slip in his hat and a complete personal library of hundreds of books he had had given to him when he was old enough to read.

Now, back to seriousness. Here is what Martin Harris said about the weight of the plates and Joseph Smith's inability to afford, and lack of credit to obtain, even so much lead:

"When Joseph had obtained the plates, he communicated the fact to his father and mother. The plates remained concealed in the tree top until he got the chest made. He then went after them and brought them home. While on his way home with the plates, he was met by what appeared to be a man, who demanded the plates, and struck him with a club on his side, which was all black and blue. Joseph knocked the man down, and then ran for home, and was much out of breath. When he arrived at home, he handed the plates in at the window, and they were received from him by his mother. They were then hidden under the hearth in his father's house. But the wall being partly down, it was feared that certain ones, who were trying to get possession of the plates would get under the house and dig them out. Joseph then took them out, and hid them under the old cooper's shop, by taking up a board and digging in the ground and burying them. When they were taken from there, they were put into an old Ontario glass box. Old Mr. Beman sawed off the ends, making the box the right length to put them in, and when they went in he said he heard them jink, but he was not permitted to see them. He told me so.

"The money-diggers claimed that they had as much right to the plates as Joseph had, as they were in company together. They claimed that Joseph had been traitor, and had appropriated to himself that which belonged to them. For this reason Joseph was afraid of them, and continued concealing the plates. After they had been concealed under the floor of the cooper's shop a short time, Joseph was warned to remove them. He said he was warned by an angel. He took them out and hid them up in the chamber of the cooper's shop among the flags. That night some one came, took up the floor, and dug up the earth, and would have found the plates had they not been removed.

"These things had all occurred before I talked with Joseph respecting the plates. But I had the account of it from Joseph, his wife, brothers, sisters, his father and mother. I talked with them separately, that I might get the truth of the matter. The first time I heard of the matter, my brother Preserved Harris, who had been in the village of Palmyra, asked me if had heard about Joseph Smith, jr., having a golden bible. My thoughts were that the money-diggers had probably dug up an old brass kettle, or something of the kind. I thought no more of it. This was about the first of October, 1827. The next day after the talk with my brother, I went to the village, and there I was asked what I thought of the Gold Bible! I replied, The Scripture says, He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is foolishness unto him. I do not wish to make myself a fool. I don't know anything about it. Then said I, what is it about Joe's Gold Bible! They then went on to say, that they put whiskey into the old man's cider and got him half drunk, and he told them all about it. They then repeated his account, which I found afterwards to agree substantially with the account given by Joseph. Then said I to them, how do you know that he has not got such gold plates! They replied, 'Damn him! angels appear to men in this enlightened age! Damn him, he ought to be tarred and feathered for telling such a damned lie!' Then I said, suppose he has told a lie, as old Tom Jefferson said, it did [not] matter to him whether a man believed in one god or twenty. It did not rob his pocket, nor break his shins. What is it to us if he has told a lie? He has it to answer for if he has lied. If you should tar and feather all the liars, you would soon be out of funds to purchase the material.

"I then thought of the words of Christ, The kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. I knew they were of the devil's kingdom, and if that is of the devil, his kingdom is divided against itself. I said in my heart, this is something besides smoke. There is some fire at the bottom of it. I then determined to go and see Joseph as soon as I could find time.

"A day or so before I was ready to visit Joseph, his mother came over to our house and wished to talk with me. I told her I had no time to spare, she might talk with my wife, and, in the evening when I had finished my work I would talk with her. When she commenced talking with me, she told me respecting his bringing home the plates, and many other things, and said that Joseph had sent her over and wished me to come and see him. I told her that I had a time appointed when I would go, and that when the time came I should then go, but I did not tell her when it was. I sent my boy to harness my horse and take her home. She wished my wife and daughter to go with her; and they went and spent most of the day. When they came home, I questioned them about them. My daughter said, they were about as much as she could lift. They were now in the glass-box, and my wife said they were very heavy. They both lifted them. I waited a day or two, when I got up in the morning, took my breakfast, and told my folks I was going to the village, but went directly to old Mr. Smith's. I found that Joseph had gone away to work for Peter Ingersol to get some flour. I was glad he was absent, for that gave me an opportunity of talking with his wife and the family about the plates. I talked with them separately, to see if their stories agreed, and I found they did agree. When Joseph came home I did not wish him to know that I had been talking with them, so I took him by the arm and led him away from the rest, and requested him to tell me the story, which he did as follows. He said: 'An angel had appeared to him, and told him it was God's work.'" Here Mr. Harris seemed to wander from the subject, when we requested him to continue and tell what Joseph then said. He replied, "Joseph had before this described the manner of his finding the plates. He found them by looking in the stone found in the well of Mason chase. The family had likewise told me the same thing.

"Joseph said the angel told him he must quit the company of the money-diggers. That there were wicked men among them. He must have no more to do with them. He must not lie, nor swear, nor steal. He told him to go and look in the spectacles, and he would show him the man that would assist him. That he did so, and he saw myself, Martin Harris, standing before him. That struck me with surprise. I told him I wished him to be very careful about these things. 'Well,' said he, 'I saw you standing before me as plainly as I do now.' I said, if it is the devil's work I will have nothing to do with it; but if it is the Lord's, you can have all the money necessary to bring it before the world. He said the angel told him, that the plates must be translated, printed and sent before the world. I said, Joseph, you know my doctrine, that cursed is every one that putteth his trust in man, and maketh flesh his arm; and we know that the devil is to have great power in the latter days to deceive if possible the very elect; and I don't know that you are one of the elect. Now you must not blame me for not taking your word. If the Lord will show me that it is his work, you can have all the money you want.

"While at Mr. Smith's I hefted the plates, and I knew from the heft that they were lead or gold, and I knew that Joseph had not credit enough to buy so much lead. I left Mr. Smith's about eleven o'clock and went home. I retired to my bedroom and prayed God to show me concerning these things, and I covenanted that if it was his work and he would show me so, I would put forth my best ability to bring it before the world. He then showed me that it was his work, and that it was designed to bring in the fullness of his gospel to the gentiles to fulfill his word, that the first shall be last and the last first. He showed this to me by the still small voice spoken in the soul. Then I was satisfied that it was the Lord's work, and I was under a covenant to bring it forth.

("Mormonism--No. II." in Tiffany's Monthly 5 (Aug. 1859):166-170, bold emphasis mine)

Three important questions are answered by this interview with Martin Harris (although there are others that could be answered by this interview as well):

1. If Joseph Smith really did run so far with the plates, where did they go when he got to the door and came in out of breath?

2. Why really did Joseph Smith quit the partnership with the money-diggers in 1826?

3. Could Joseph Smith afford even as much lead as would be needed to produce the weight of the plates?

Lead was cheaper than tin in those days and still is even today. So, if Joseph Smith could not afford and could not get credit enough to obtain even so much lead, how much less would he have been able to afford enough tin to make some plates? Food for thought!

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The above smells like it has as its basis Vogel's hypothesis that Joseph Smith could have made some plates out of tin to show the witnesses something tangible. We know that some of the accounts do not leave room for doubt that something tangible was shown to the eight witnesses.

Hi MM--

It's just a hypothetical thought experiment. I'm not arguing in favor of the tin-plate theory. I'm not arguing for anything at all here.

Best.

CKS

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It's also interesting to think that, for all his digging, Joseph could have actually found a set of golden plates! And if this were so, it would prove...nothing :P It could have been a find on par with the Dead Sea Scrolls, magnified by Joseph's dreams, doubts, dogma and previously unrealized ability to dictate lengthy scripture in 16th century English.

Which makes me wonder what the potential could have been for a young, uneducated sheppard boy in Quamran had an angel stopped him from recovering the DSS until he promised not to sell them for money.

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Mormon Mason,

I said: I am aware that your name is affixed to the testimony in the Book of Mormon, that you saw the plates?

He--It is so, and that testimony is true.

I--Did you handle the plates with your hands?

He--I did so!

I--Then they were a material substance?

He--Yes, as material as anything can be.

I--They were heavy to lift?

He--Yes, and as you know gold is a heavy metal, they were very heavy.

I--How big were the leaves?

He--So far as I recollect, 8 by 6 or 7 inches.

I--Were the leaves thick?

He--Yes, just so thick, that characters could be engraven on both sides.

I--How were the leaves joined together?

He--In three rings, each one in the shape of a D with the straight line towards the center.

I--In what place did you see the plates.

He--In Joseph Smithâ??s house; he had them there.

I--Did you see them covered with a cloth?

He--No. He handed them uncovered into our hands, and we turned the leaves sufficient to satisfy us.

I--were you all eight witnesses present at the same time?

He--No. At that time Joseph showed the plates to us, we were four persons, present in the room, and at another time he showed them to four persons more.

(P. Wilhelm Poulson, M.D. to the editors of the Deseret News, 31 July 1878, "Correspondence" in Deseret News, 14 August 1878, bold emphasis mine; original at: http://udn.lib.utah.edu/u?/deseretnews6,8525 Accessed 10-12-2007)

This interview is not reliable. Poulson was known to exaggerate and invent facts about himself, and was not trustworthy. He published this interview after John Whitmer had died. David Whitmer objected to another interview Poulson published about him. In both interviews, the errors committed were designed to make the Witnesses testimonies stronger. Poulson was a spiritualist who believed the BOM provided evidence for contact with the spirit world. Note that Poulson errs in saying two groups of four witnesses viewed the plates in the Smith home, when it was actually all eight in the Smiths' grove. Another subtle problem is why Poulson would ask if the plates were covered. Where did he get the idea that the plates may have been covered? So far as I can determine, nothing to that effect had been published.

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Note that Poulson errs in saying two groups of four witnesses viewed the plates in the Smith home, when it was actually all eight in the Smiths' grove. Another subtle problem is why Poulson would ask if the plates were covered. Where did he get the idea that the plates may have been covered? So far as I can determine, nothing to that effect had been published.

You are willing now to state that the eight witnesses viewed the plates in one group, is that correct? And not in separate groups. And there is no indication anywhere or by anyone that the plates were covered, to which Poulson could have had access at that time.

IOW, the "covered plates" is an invention, pure imagination and fantasy, for which there is not one shred of historical evidence.

Is that correct? Is that your admission here, dear chap.

Yep, you really gave us good reason to doubt Poulson, but there is someone else whose credibility is also very much in question. An award winning author whose imagination went amuck.

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Okay. Not really. But let's probe the hypothetical, if you're willing.

The manifestly 19th C. "plates" are discovered in someone's attic. They match the descriptions given in the historical literature. They're of modern manufacture.

Would this render the BoM "untrue?" Would you consider the modern "plates" merely a tool for a spiritual translation, much as those who espouse the catalyst theory for BoA? Would this cast doubt on your conviction that the English-language BoM is a true record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas? How would your view of the LDS religion change, if at all?

Curious.

CKS

Well as long as we are pretending, lets pretend just the opposite.

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IOW, the "covered plates" is an invention, pure imagination and fantasy, for which there is not one shred of historical evidence.

I assume you mean this to apply only to the experience of the 8 witnesses? Because it's quite clear from the historical record that Joseph nearly always kept the plates covered.

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