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The Plates Have Been Found!


cksalmon

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Mormon Mason,

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.

I am not so sure it is really unreliable in all its parts. It agrees in the main with another interview that I had seen, which was not done by Poulson. I would post that interview but I would have to remember the source information. Nonetheless, I do remember reading another interview from someone else that agreed in the main with details in the above interview.

So, Poulson embellished facts about himself and I guess that makes a little less trustworthy in some people's eyes. It is true that he published it after Whitmer died, I suppose. That does not really address the reliability of the interview. It could have been accurate but was being saved for later. Also, what his background on spiritual matters might or might not have been does not, in my view, address the accuracy of the interview.

I am not sure that his knowing about the plates being covered is a problem. If he really was interviewing witnesses as he claimed, and the plates really were covered, why would he need access to a printed source? He certainly could have gotten it from an actual interview with the witness. I am afraid I do not quite follow your argument. Sorry.

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Several decades ago, a copy of the 'caractors', the symbols copied from the plates of the BoM, was 'discovered' in a rather different form than the one we all know so famously. For several weeks this discovery made quite a stir in the LDS world, and someone even made a tentative 'translation' of the discovery which was supposedly a very close paraphrase of the first few words of I Nephi. I am almost certain that this whole episode turned out to be part of an elaborate fraud, but allow me to pretend that it was NOT. Let me further suppose that now, some 25 or more years later, we now find (under whatever circumstances) a stone box containing the gold plates supposedly utilized by JS, and which verify that the amended 'caractors' were copied substantially correctly. I am going to assume that whatever evidence is needed to demonstrate that the plates are of genuine ancient origin would be forthcoming in relative short order.

Would this discovery substantially alter my view of the origins of Mormonism? It certainly would. I might suspend any further decisions until a reasonable effort had been undertaken to translate the gold plates. After all, it is not impossible to believe that Joseph Smith could have discovered some genuine, gold-plated Native American artifacts which he then pretended to 'translate', a la the Book of Abraham. But if JS's translation proved to be substantially correct, it certainly would represent to me confirmation of some sort of supernatural event surrounding the Book of Mormon. It would not answer all of my questions--could the BoM plates have been translated 'by the gift and power of Satan'? even if the BoM is NOT of demonic origin, is the Utah-based CoJCoLDS the genuine successor to Joseph Smith's legacy? And so forth. Nevertheless, the argument would substantially change for me, even if at 47 years old I never live to see archaeologists actually uncover an verifiable BoM places, people, or artifacts other than the plates themselves. The very existence of the plates, their very translatability into something resembling Smith's Book of Mormon, would change the 'caractor' of the discussion for me.

I would rather expect that a verified discovery of something like 'tin plates', obvious manufactured in the 19th century to deceive gullible seekers, would be a deal-breaker for many LDS for much the same reason. It would probably not be quite so earth-shattering as discovering real gold plates would be for many Evangelicals such as myself, but it would be a traumatic event in the life of the membership of the CoJCoLDS. My thoughts.

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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.

It would help if a planted and alleged Hoffman metal forgery hadn't already popped up.

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?

Of course it would change my view. :P However, it is far more likely that an ancient document will be found in some monk's attic that will illuminate the fantasy of apostolic succession among other myths that uphold conventional Christianity.

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No. If the bones of Jesus were discovered, I would immediately renounce my Christian faith. I'm sure I'd still appreciate and aspire to some of the teachings of Jesus, but I would cease to be a "Christian."

The question is, how would you know?

Its the same as the question put to Mrs. Tanner about a sign saying "Zarahemla" being found in the South American jungles, would that convince her of the veracity of the BoM. It wouldnt. So why should those plates, or those bones?

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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.

Poulson is unique in this information, and links it to their seeing the plates in the Smith home. This contradicts Lucy Smith, who said the men left her home and went to the grove.

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

Then why did Poulson ask Whitmer if the plates were covered? Where did he get the idea?

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

No. I suggest he got it from Whitmer himself, but changed it to just the opposite. In his interview with David Whitmer, he has him claiming that Whitmer and Cowdery saw the plates without Harris, but that when Harris saw the plates all the witnesses were together. No doubt Whitmer told him just the opposite.

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.

You are welcome to your opinion, but rather than dishing out ad hominem, try sticking with the subject at hand.

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I am not so sure it is really unreliable in all its parts. It agrees in the main with another interview that I had seen, which was not done by Poulson. I would post that interview but I would have to remember the source information. Nonetheless, I do remember reading another interview from someone else that agreed in the main with details in the above interview.

I'm familiar with the sources, and I'm sure none clearly state that JS handed the plates "uncovered" to the witnesses.

So, Poulson embellished facts about himself and I guess that makes a little less trustworthy in some people's eyes. It is true that he published it after Whitmer died, I suppose. That does not really address the reliability of the interview. It could have been accurate but was being saved for later. Also, what his background on spiritual matters might or might not have been does not, in my view, address the accuracy of the interview.

John Whitmer was not alive to challenge Poulson's version of the interview, but David was alive and complained. Poulson's propensity to fabricate details about his own life does reflect on his ability to tell the truth, or at least give an accurate account of his interviews.

I am not sure that his knowing about the plates being covered is a problem. If he really was interviewing witnesses as he claimed, and the plates really were covered, why would he need access to a printed source? He certainly could have gotten it from an actual interview with the witness. I am afraid I do not quite follow your argument. Sorry.

If Poulson learned about the plates being covered from Whitmer, he should have quoted Whitmer's statement. But he didn't. This lapse makes Poulson's account suspect, and therefore unreliable for dertermining what Whitmer actually said about the plates being covered. Did Whitmer say that when JS handed them the plates, the plates were covered but that they were able to see the plates as though they were not covered? Or did Whitmer say that false claims have been made that the plates were covered, but that he saw them uncovered? I don't trust Poulson to have gotten it right.

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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 would add by way of explanation, this is my solution to John Whitmer's saying he handled the plates but saw them "by supernatural power." Martin Harris claimed to have done just that when he said he saw the plates distinctly, although they were covered by a cloth. Admittedly, the sources are few and problematic. If the BOM is not history, then I think this is a probable explanation of how JS obtained their statement.

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