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The Testimony of Three Witnesses


Lamanite

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The testimony of these three witnesses (Whitmer, Harris, Cowdery) is a difficult one for critics, IMO. In order to overcome the united voice with which these men speak there needs to be some ad hoc reasoning in order to explain away the rational expression of certitude that is their testimony. They speak with a forcefulness that was surprising to me when I first read it. They speak in a way that seems to be prophetic while accepting their own humanity. It is God that ultimately justifies their words and deeds.

If anyone is open to sharing their reasons for dismissing this as a valid witness please share.

Here is the text of the testimony for easy reference.

THE TESTIMONY OF THREE WITNESSES

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

Oliver Cowdery

David Whitmer

Martin Harris

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Lamanite

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I believe this is a valid expression of these men's faith but as I said in another thread, there are no verifiable facts in this statement. They saw:

  • the plates "through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ"
  • the engravings "by the power of God, and not of man"

And to top it off, they summarize that "an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true".

There is nothing rational about this testimony in any ordinary sense of the word.

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I believe this is a valid expression of these men's faith but as I said in another thread, there are no verifiable facts in this statement. They saw:

  • the plates "through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ"
  • the engravings "by the power of God, and not of man"

And to top it off, they summarize that "an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true".

There is nothing rational about this testimony in any ordinary sense of the word.

I would argue the rational part with you but it wouldn't really advance the discussion.

What is verifiable is that these men confirmed what the other said and saw. Does that not carry any weight?

It's hard to argue shared delusions which only leaves us with conspiracy which is just as difficult to prove as a shared delusion.

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Lamanite

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What is verifiable is that these men confirmed what the other said and saw. Does that not carry any weight?

Not much, imo. It would carry more weight if they were independent witnesses - independent of eachother and independent of the enterprise at hand (the BoM).

It's hard to argue shared delusions which only leaves us with conspiracy which is just as difficult to prove as a shared delusion.

True, but they did share a cultural background of magic and superstition and that makes their statement significantly less credible from a modern point of view. No need to revert to strong words like "delusion" or "conspiracy", they were just different times and circumstances.

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The testimony of these three witnesses (Whitmer, Harris, Cowdery) is a difficult one for critics, IMO. In order to overcome the united voice with which these men speak there needs to be some ad hoc reasoning in order to explain away the rational expression of certitude that is their testimony. They speak with a forcefulness that was surprising to me when I first read it. They speak in a way that seems to be prophetic while accepting their own humanity. It is God that ultimately justifies their words and deeds.

If anyone is open to sharing their reasons for dismissing this as a valid witness please share.

Here is the text of the testimony for easy reference.

Big UP!

Lamanite

I think the issue is not the testimony itself, but rather, the credibility of the 3 witnesses. Cowdery had a history of occult practices (use of divining rod, visions, etc.) before he even met Smith. This personal history alone makes him suspect to many people. The fact that he left the early LDS church before rejoining it again gives some people pause, giving ammo to the argument that he had doubts about the church. David Whitmer also had a history of visions and the use of seer stones before meeting Smith. His testimony regarding the events surrounding his viewing of the plates and subsequent angel is inconsistent as well. Likewise, Martin Harris had a colorful history that included visions, and later went on to state that he had seen the plates with his "spiritual eyes," and not his physical eyes. He would later go on to recant his spiritual eye comment, and then proceeded to skip from sect to sect after the killing of Joseph Smith.

As a whole, all of these men had histories of visions, use of seer stones, and varying strains of religious fanaticism. Likewise, their accounts of the events that they witnessed were often contraditory, confusing, and conflicting.

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The testimony of these three witnesses (Whitmer, Harris, Cowdery) is a difficult one for critics, IMO. In order to overcome the united voice with which these men speak there needs to be some ad hoc reasoning in order to explain away the rational expression of certitude that is their testimony. They speak with a forcefulness that was surprising to me when I first read it. They speak in a way that seems to be prophetic while accepting their own humanity. It is God that ultimately justifies their words and deeds.

If anyone is open to sharing their reasons for dismissing this as a valid witness please share.

Thank you for asking this question. It is an excellent question and I will do my best to answer it.

Suppose somebody came up to us, claiming that they had been specially chosen by God and they want you to be their follower. But they're not making this claim alone. There are multiple witnesses who testify that they have seen some sign of confirmation that confirms the claims of this person. How should you respond? Let's consider a few examples.

1) Sabbatai Zevi was a Jewish Rabbi and scholar of the 17th century. In 1648, at the age of 22, he claimed in private to be the Jewish Messiah and the savior of the world. A few years later he set about attempting to recruit converts. At first nearly all Jews rejected his message, and in multiple cases he was excommunicated from synagogues and forced to leave certain cities. As time went on, however, his following grew. Prominent Jewish scholars such as Abraham Yakini, Raphael Hallabi, Nathan Benjamin Levi, Hayyim Benveniste, Isaac Aboab da Fonesca, Moses de Aquilar, Moses Galante, Moses Zacuto and others. In 1665 Sevi publicly declared himself to be the Mesiah. His fame spread rapidly across Europe and the Middle East and soon he had millions of believers, perhaps as many as half the Jewish population. Along with this came an enormous amount of testimony from the people listed above and others to Sevi's godly calling and miraculous powers. They said that they had seen God confirming the choice of Sevi as messiah, that the Prophet Elijah had appeared and annointed him, that Sevi had piloted a flying ship from Palestine to Scotland, and so forth. Far-fetched as these claims may seem, they are well-documented and it can't be doubted that many people including well-educated scholars honestly believed that they had seen these things. Even today Sevi has hundreds of thousands of followers known as the Donmeh who continue to insist that such testimony proves Sevi to be the Messiah.

2) Hong Xiuquan was a Chinese peasant farmer born in 1814. During his early youth he had visions of God descending from Heaven and ordering him to purify China. He also supposedly was visited by angels, demons, and ancient Chinese wise men such as Confucius, and received a magic sword which he would use to purify China from evil. In 1843 he began preaching his message in the surrounding area and followers started gathering around him. He was driven from his hometown a year later and his followers followed him on a 300-mile march to the province of Guanxhi. His following grew to the thousands and then the tens of thousands. His preaching became more militant as he claimed that he was the brother of Jesus Christ and had come to establish God's kingdom on Earth. Many of his followers testified that they had visions of God which confirmed this, and also that they had seen miracles performed with the magic sword and so forth. In 1851 war broke out between his followers and the Chinese authorities. War raged until 1864, when Xiuquan was defeated in battle and committed suicide.

3) There is a small town called Medjugorje in Bosnia where Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary began appearing to a group of six teenagers in 1980. The visions have continued daily to this day. Tens of millions of people have traveled to Medjogorje, and many of them have testified that they witnessed the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, received miracles, or saw other signs confirming the truth of the claims made by the six visionaries. Even many of the communist, atheist authorities who ruled Yugoslavia in the 80's and 90's testified to seeing th appear of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus and other miraculous occurences in Medjugorje. In the summer of 1981, a group of thousands witnessed the Blessed Virgin Mary appear in the sun, surrounded by six hearts that supposedly represented the six seers.

Now I presume that you do not believe that Sabbatite Sevi was the Messiah, that Hong Xiuquan was sent to establish God's kingdom on Earth, and that Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary have actually appeared to the six seers at Medjugorje. If so, you're willing to reject groups of thousands who express tremendous certainty and speak with great forcefulness. Hence, you should be able to understand why other people are willing to reject the testimony of three individuals.

Groups dynamics and group psychology are a strange thing. When you have a group of people, especially people who know each other well, they are often able to convince each other to think alike. Science has confirmed this, but in any case I see it everyday when I teach my students. When they encounter a situation that they don't understand and where they aren't sure how to react, the students immediately start looking at each other. They're waiting for somebody to take the lead. Once one person starts speaking up and giving a leadership example, the students almost always start nodding and agreeing with that one. The important being that they'll agree with that first speaker even if the first speaker is completely wrong. It's part of human psychology. We are nervous about disagreeing with people, and we feel much better when somebody is telling us what to believe. Leaders have exploited this tendency--for both good and evil and for religious and secular reasons--throughout human history.

So now let's consider those three witnesses. What can we say about them? First of all, none were lifelong devotees of Joseph Smith. In fact, all three were excommunicated from the LDS church, those Harris and Cowdery were later rebaptized. Cowdery joined a Methodist Church, which surely indicates that he didn't really believe all of Joseph Smith's claims. Whitmer spoke out publicly against Smith and the LDS church. The notorious Danite gangs had to drive out of Caldwell County with threats of violence, after which he even filed lawsuits. Not exactly what one would expect from people who were absolutely certain they had seen Smith's claims verified by God.

As for the credibility of the three, consider the following incident recorded by Lucy Smith.

That the Three Witnesses were a gullible sort is illustrated by an incident in July, 1837. Joseph had left on a five-week missionary tour to Canada, only to find on his return that all three of the Witnesses had joined a faction opposing him. This faction rallied around a young girl who claimed to be a seeress by virtue of a black stone in which she read the future. David Whitmer, Martin Harris, and Oliver Cowdery all pledged her their loyalty, and Frederick G. Williams, formerly Joseph's First Counselor, became her scribe. The girl seeress would dance herself into a state of exhaustion, fall to the floor, and burst forth with revelations.
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I think the issue is not the testimony itself, but rather, the credibility of the 3 witnesses. Cowdery had a history of occult practices (use of divining rod, visions, etc.) before he even met Smith. This personal history alone makes him suspect to many people. The fact that he left the early LDS church before rejoining it again gives some people pause, giving ammo to the argument that he had doubts about the church. David Whitmer also had a history of visions and the use of seer stones before meeting Smith. His testimony regarding the events surrounding his viewing of the plates and subsequent angel is inconsistent as well. Likewise, Martin Harris had a colorful history that included visions, and later went on to state that he had seen the plates with his "spiritual eyes," and not his physical eyes. He would later go on to recant his spiritual eye comment, and then proceeded to skip from sect to sect after the killing of Joseph Smith.

As a whole, all of these men had histories of visions, use of seer stones, and varying strains of religious fanaticism. Likewise, their accounts of the events that they witnessed were often contraditory, confusing, and conflicting.

To both Ari and Prat:

I understand that magic had influenced the cultural and societal consciousness of that time period. I also know that it had affected these men to varying degrees.

Where you run into trouble is when we get down to the specifics.

Whitmer: Hey, (motivated by whatever) let's all pretend that Joseph really showed us some golden plates.

Cowdery: No wait, this is waaay better... let's say an angel brought it down to us from Heaven.

Harris: Ok, but for added measure lets say that we testify in a unified voice that we all saw and heard this stuff.

Whitmer: What do you think will happen?

Harris: Well, I'm pretty good with money and I'm sure we'll become prestigious millionaires sometime soon.

Cowdery: Very well Where do I sign up to lie or mislead people in this specific shared delusion (sorry, can't think of another word.)

Team huddle: On three...One, Two, Three *Go Witnesses*

I just can't think of a plausible scenario for this kind of thing to take place, except in a conspiratorial scenario.

Big UP!

Lamanite

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Thank you for asking this question. It is an excellent question and I will do my best to answer it.

Suppose somebody came up to us, claiming that they had been specially chosen by God and they want you to be their follower. But they're not making this claim alone. There are multiple witnesses who testify that they have seen some sign of confirmation that confirms the claims of this person. How should you respond? Let's consider a few examples.

1) Sabbatai Zevi was a Jewish Rabbi and scholar of the 17th century. In 1648, at the age of 22, he claimed in private to be the Jewish Messiah and the savior of the world. A few years later he set about attempting to recruit converts. At first nearly all Jews rejected his message, and in multiple cases he was excommunicated from synagogues and forced to leave certain cities. As time went on, however, his following grew. Prominent Jewish scholars such as Abraham Yakini, Raphael Hallabi, Nathan Benjamin Levi, Hayyim Benveniste, Isaac Aboab da Fonesca, Moses de Aquilar, Moses Galante, Moses Zacuto and others. In 1665 Sevi publicly declared himself to be the Mesiah. His fame spread rapidly across Europe and the Middle East and soon he had millions of believers, perhaps as many as half the Jewish population. Along with this came an enormous amount of testimony from the people listed above and others to Sevi's godly calling and miraculous powers. They said that they had seen God confirming the choice of Sevi as messiah, that the Prophet Elijah had appeared and annointed him, that Sevi had piloted a flying ship from Palestine to Scotland, and so forth. Far-fetched as these claims may seem, they are well-documented and it can't be doubted that many people including well-educated scholars honestly believed that they had seen these things. Even today Sevi has hundreds of thousands of followers known as the Donmeh who continue to insist that such testimony proves Sevi to be the Messiah.

2) Hong Xiuquan was a Chinese peasant farmer born in 1814. During his early youth he had visions of God descending from Heaven and ordering him to purify China. He also supposedly was visited by angels, demons, and ancient Chinese wise men such as Confucius, and received a magic sword which he would use to purify China from evil. In 1843 he began preaching his message in the surrounding area and followers started gathering around him. He was driven from his hometown a year later and his followers followed him on a 300-mile march to the province of Guanxhi. His following grew to the thousands and then the tens of thousands. His preaching became more militant as he claimed that he was the brother of Jesus Christ and had come to establish God's kingdom on Earth. Many of his followers testified that they had visions of God which confirmed this, and also that they had seen miracles performed with the magic sword and so forth. In 1851 war broke out between his followers and the Chinese authorities. War raged until 1864, when Xiuquan was defeated in battle and committed suicide.

3) There is a small town called Medjugorje in Bosnia where Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary began appearing to a group of six teenagers in 1980. The visions have continued daily to this day. Tens of millions of people have traveled to Medjogorje, and many of them have testified that they witnessed the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, received miracles, or saw other signs confirming the truth of the claims made by the six visionaries. Even many of the communist, atheist authorities who ruled Yugoslavia in the 80's and 90's testified to seeing th appear of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus and other miraculous occurences in Medjugorje. In the summer of 1981, a group of thousands witnessed the Blessed Virgin Mary appear in the sun, surrounded by six hearts that supposedly represented the six seers.

Now I presume that you do not believe that Sabbatite Sevi was the Messiah, that Hong Xiuquan was sent to establish God's kingdom on Earth, and that Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary have actually appeared to the six seers at Medjugorje. If so, you're willing to reject groups of thousands who express tremendous certainty and speak with great forcefulness. Hence, you should be able to understand why other people are willing to reject the testimony of three individuals.

Groups dynamics and group psychology are a strange thing. When you have a group of people, especially people who know each other well, they are often able to convince each other to think alike. Science has confirmed this, but in any case I see it everyday when I teach my students. When they encounter a situation that they don't understand and where they aren't sure how to react, the students immediately start looking at each other. They're waiting for somebody to take the lead. Once one person starts speaking up and giving a leadership example, the students almost always start nodding and agreeing with that one. The important being that they'll agree with that first speaker even if the first speaker is completely wrong. It's part of human psychology. We are nervous about disagreeing with people, and we feel much better when somebody is telling us what to believe. Leaders have exploited this tendency--for both good and evil and for religious and secular reasons--throughout human history.

So now let's consider those three witnesses. What can we say about them? First of all, none were lifelong devotees of Joseph Smith. In fact, all three were excommunicated from the LDS church, those Harris and Cowdery were later rebaptized. Cowdery joined a Methodist Church, which surely indicates that he didn't really believe all of Joseph Smith's claims. Whitmer spoke out publicly against Smith and the LDS church. The notorious Danite gangs had to drive out of Caldwell County with threats of violence, after which he even filed lawsuits. Not exactly what one would expect from people who were absolutely certain they had seen Smith's claims verified by God.

As for the credibility of the three, consider the following incident recorded by Lucy Smith.

Nice work.

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Here's another interesting fact about Sabbatai Sevi. In 1653, Sevi encountered a group of Jews who had with them an Egyptian artifact, a mysterious ancient text that nobody had previously been able to read. Sevi looked at the text and, Lo and Behold!, he found that it contained the writings of the biblical patriarch Abraham, which he alone was able to translate. He produced a partial translation of the text, finding in it a great deal that confirmed his unique theological ideas and verified his claims to have been chosen by God. News of this amazing discovery spread widely and was often cited by his supporters as proof that Sevi was, in fact, the Messiah, even after his death. It wasn't until generations later that the original document was examined and was found to be completely bogus.

Now does that remind you of anything?

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Now I presume that you do not believe... you're willing to reject groups of thousands who express tremendous certainty and speak with great forcefulness.

I don't believe and I don't reject.

That's why it's so odd that others are willing to reject this testimony. There is no reason to except that you think it is a conspiracy or you cannot believe in the supernatural.

Groups dynamics and group psychology are a strange thing. When you have a group of people, especially people who know each other well, they are often able to convince each other to think alike. Science has confirmed this, but in any case I see it everyday when I teach my students. When they encounter a situation that they don't understand and where they aren't sure how to react, the students immediately start looking at each other. They're waiting for somebody to take the lead. Once one person starts speaking up and giving a leadership example, the students almost always start nodding and agreeing with that one. The important being that they'll agree with that first speaker even if the first speaker is completely wrong. It's part of human psychology. We are nervous about disagreeing with people, and we feel much better when somebody is telling us what to believe. Leaders have exploited this tendency--for both good and evil and for religious and secular reasons--throughout human history.

I think you've drawn parallels that don't exist. I can persuade people to follow me and agree to do a great many things. But I've never been able to make people they've seen something like an angel bringing gold plates with no immediate benefit to them; and then stay true to the testimony when it made no sense to continue in the charade.

Big UP!

Lamanite

So now let's consider those three witnesses. What can we say about them? First of all, none were lifelong devotees of Joseph Smith. In fact, all three were excommunicated from the LDS church, those Harris and Cowdery were later rebaptized. Cowdery joined a Methodist Church, which surely indicates that he didn't really believe all of Joseph Smith's claims. Whitmer spoke out publicly against Smith and the LDS church. The notorious Danite gangs had to drive out of Caldwell County with threats of violence, after which he even filed lawsuits. Not exactly what one would expect from people who were absolutely certain they had seen Smith's claims verified by God.

As for the credibility of the three, consider the following incident recorded by Lucy Smith.

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To both Ari and Prat:

I understand that magic had influenced the cultural and societal consciousness of that time period. I also know that it had affected these men to varying degrees.

Where you run into trouble is when we get down to the specifics.

Whitmer: Hey, (motivated by whatever) let's all pretend that Joseph really showed us some golden plates.

Cowdery: No wait, this is waaay better... let's say an angel brought it down to us from Heaven.

Harris: Ok, but for added measure lets say that we testify in a unified voice that we all saw and heard this stuff.

Whitmer: What do you think will happen?

Harris: Well, I'm pretty good with money and I'm sure we'll become prestigious millionaires sometime soon.

Cowdery: Very well Where do I sign up to lie or mislead people in this specific shared delusion (sorry, can't think of another word.)

Team huddle: On three...One, Two, Three *Go Witnesses*

I just can't think of a plausible scenario for this kind of thing to take place, except in a conspiratorial scenario.

Big UP!

Lamanite

Yes, basically I would argue that it is more "plausible" that these men, who had a history of of dabbling in occult practices and religious fanaticism, agreed on a story that was based in religious fanaticism and occult practices....to me that is more infinitely more "plausible" than arguing that angels appeared to these men and guided them in the use of occult practices to translate golden plates.

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Let's be frank for a moment.

When I first heard the story of the lost 116 pages with Josephs refusal to re-translate, I thought "well it's obvious. He won't do it cuz he can't." In order for Mormons to get past this hurdle we start believing that God knew all along the this would happen and then Joseph conveniently receives a revelation stating has much and then on and on and on and on with the mental gymnastics.

It seems silly to some. I realize this. I believe, but simultaneously I know that it's sounds fishy to the non-believer.

In the case of the three witnesses it seems fairly straight forward. 3 guys saw and heard something miraculous. We may not believe ourselves, but on the surface it seems legit.

Then come the mental gymnastics that involve, magic, money, group dynamics, shared delusions et al. It's just too much.

If I didn't believe, I could at least say "It appears that they believe they saw something which can be agreed upon by the individuals and as a group. Pretty compelling." And just be done with it.

It is compelling evidence. Not proof, but pretty good evidence.

Big UP!

Lamanite

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So does anyone know who actually wrote the testimonies of the 8 and 3 witnesses? Were all 11 men there during the writing of the testimonies and involved in the process? Or were they presented with a statement that they then signed?

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I would argue the rational part with you but it wouldn't really advance the discussion.

What is verifiable is that these men confirmed what the other said and saw. Does that not carry any weight?

It's hard to argue shared delusions which only leaves us with conspiracy which is just as difficult to prove as a shared delusion.

Big UP!

Lamanite

When you say they confirmed what the others said and saw, you seem to be implying that there was a united witness of the three. However, that is not the case, Whitmer and Cowdery had a joint experience and Harris had his own. The two events were not mutually witnessed. Therefore the three cannot all mutually attest.

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Let's be frank for a moment.

When I first heard the story of the lost 116 pages with Josephs refusal to re-translate, I thought "well it's obvious. He won't do it cuz he can't." In order for Mormons to get past this hurdle we start believing that God knew all along the this would happen and then Joseph conveniently receives a revelation stating has much and then on and on and on and on with the mental gymnastics.

It seems silly to some. I realize this. I believe, but simultaneously I know that it's sounds fishy to the non-believer.

In the case of the three witnesses it seems fairly straight forward. 3 guys saw and heard something miraculous. We may not believe ourselves, but on the surface it seems legit.

Then come the mental gymnastics that involve, magic, money, group dynamics, shared delusions et al. It's just too much.

If I didn't believe, I could at least say "It appears that they believe they saw something which can be agreed upon by the individuals and as a group. Pretty compelling." And just be done with it.

It is compelling evidence. Not proof, but pretty good evidence.

Big UP!

Lamanite

Wait, you think that the "mental gymnastics" involved in 3 men hatching a conspiracy are greater than the mental gymnastics that are required to believe that an angel from heaven came down and appeared to these men?

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This is what made the 3 witnesses become less authentic for me:

1. I realized the man who was leading the pack (Joseph Smith) was not being completely honest with Emma (and the public) in regards to his marriage practices.

2. I realized Oliver Cowdery claimed Joseph Smith had an affair with Fanny - rather than get this out in the open and provide everyone the details, we are left in the dark as to what Joseph actually did - like he was hiding something.

3. I read that Joseph Smith claimed to find treasure using magic rocks and convinced other people that he could do it.

This made me realize that Joseph Smith had the ability to convince people of things that were not true.

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To both Ari and Prat:

I understand that magic had influenced the cultural and societal consciousness of that time period. I also know that it had affected these men to varying degrees.

Where you run into trouble is when we get down to the specifics.

Whitmer: Hey, (motivated by whatever) let's all pretend that Joseph really showed us some golden plates.

Cowdery: No wait, this is waaay better... let's say an angel brought it down to us from Heaven.

Harris: Ok, but for added measure lets say that we testify in a unified voice that we all saw and heard this stuff.

Whitmer: What do you think will happen?

Harris: Well, I'm pretty good with money and I'm sure we'll become prestigious millionaires sometime soon.

Cowdery: Very well Where do I sign up to lie or mislead people in this specific shared delusion (sorry, can't think of another word.)

Team huddle: On three...One, Two, Three *Go Witnesses*

I just can't think of a plausible scenario for this kind of thing to take place, except in a conspiratorial scenario.

Big UP!

Lamanite

Actually the best kind of witness is one who:

1. believes his/her story of an event

2. shows remarkable mental clarity, intelligence and skepticism to protect themselves from deception

3. has no underlying motivation for someone to accept their testimony

Assumption: all three witnesses believed they saw plates and an angel.

Problem:

Their superstitious beliefs are easily dismissed by anyone with a bull**** detector in the exact same way that any grown-up should be able to dismiss the Easter Bunny and gold-hoarding-Leprechauns as fiction/stories/not-real.

The focal point for all of these miraculous stories comes from a person known to tell made up, fantastical stories. I loved the one about the treasure that kept sinking into the ground. Just great. Makes me raff out roud. My BS detector would not allow a single living person the benefit of the doubt were they to try to conscript me into their leprechaun-seeking-army and I'm even more skeptical of dead people with similar superstitious tales to tell.

This same person (The Prophet) personally benefited financially, socially, romantically and politically with the rise of Mormonism. I'd be far more impressed if he dwelt in a tent and gave to the poor instead of revealing that the poor should build him a mansion, give him money, give him sex partners under the guise of polygamy or "the new and EVERlasting covenant of marriage". I could go on and on in this vein but that should be enough for now to make the point.

I personally think it's more likely that this whole testimony of three (and eight) witnesses story of seeing actual ancient gold plates is a manifestation of them being fooled. I really don't think they saw anything real, unless one's imagination and any vision they can have makes those visions real....kind of a tautology, I know.... But if that were the case then my visions of <anything> and everything must be true too, including visions of Mehrunes Dagon appearing over Orem and engaging in a giant battle with the Cloverfield anomoly..... Spiritual eyes == imagination == untrustworthy. Now if we can find outside support then we might have something, until then it's just too spurious for me. 'Course my beliefs are all screwed up so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

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Lamanite

If anyone is open to sharing their reasons for dismissing this as a valid witness please share.

3DOP

Hi Lamanite. Thanks for asking. I'll try to be brief.

Catholics have three modern witnesses to our faith too. I am afraid I don't see anything uniquely compelling about the "LDS Three", even if the allegations of unreliablity and unsteadiness in their Mormon faith is false. There were 70,000 present at the Miracle of the Sun which occurred at Fatima, Portugal, Oct. 13, 1917, a date and time that was previously predicted by the Blessed Virgin Mary to three peasant children. This is why numbers of faithful and skeptics made the difficult trek to this remote site. Many skeptical journalists reported the miraculous facts of the event, even though it contradicted their worldviews.

Some people dismiss all faith claims. But all of us have to dismiss some faith claims because they are incompatible with each other. You probably give little thought to modern Catholic visions, apparitions, and miracles. I was unfamiliar with the charges agaunst the backgrounds of the "LDS Three" until this thread. I would have assumed they were known to have remained steady and firm Mormons after receiving such graces. Sister Lucia's cousins passed away (as predicted), shortly after the visions, but Lucia lived another 85 years without jumping religions. She persisted to her dying day in the truth of her childhood experiences, which was further augmented by continuing private revelations until at least the 1980's, stressing the importance for the Church and the world that the Catholic faithful and hierarchy would fulfill our Lady's requests made in 1917.

At this point, I find the children's supernaturally holy and advanced maturity, their message, the fulfilled prophecies associated with the visions, their perseverance unto the end, and the miraculous events associated with Fatima to be comparatively more difficult to dismiss. In the "Fatima Three" there is a complex and generational intertwining of personal story, world events, admonition, prophecy, and miracles which it seems to me are not manifested in the brief testimonies of Whitmer, Cowdery, and Harris. If I tried to tell the whole story of Fatima, I wouldn't know where to start. For believers like me, Fatima is a distinctively faith affirming event of these Latter Days that stands forth as a bulwark and an explanation for why and how the world and even the Church has been falling further from God. If I could believe the "LDS Three" and still be Catholic, I would take them at their word anyway. (Perhaps they were mistaken somehow, or deceived?) I like to assume the best of people. But their claims don't seem compatible with other things I am more firmly persuaded are true. I don't know the explanation, but for those who would be dismissive, it seems to me like the "LDS Three" offer less challenge for skepticism than the "Catholic Three".

Most of the world dismisses Fatima too.

Your brother in gullibility...(according to the reasonings of the faithless)

3DOP

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I bought my first pager when I was 12yrs old. I had two revenue streams before I could legally drive. I was born a hustler. By the time I was 16 I was on what street kids call a "Grand Hustle." Speaking out of both sides of my mouth and clocking moves. Always looking for the next hustle.

With that in mind, let me share some of my first impressions with Mormonism, ca. 1993-94.

Because I hustle I can spot a hustle. I thought Joseph was a hustler. It had all the tells but the money. At first I thought it was a good hustle and he just didn't play the right angles. He built that Stupid Temple in Kirtland when he could have created a residual revenue stream. He was terrible with money, but a good hustler. He played himself out and shouldn't have given himself up. He got played by those close to him. Stupid move. He was a done dolla. No more earning potential or power... only death. Game over.

But these "three witnesses" had no hustle and no game. I don't get it. No power to gain. Some prestige but the risk/reward is nonsense. Bad move. No money to make only to lose. Bunch of marks if you ask me. If it don't make dollars it don't make sense.... I don't get these three at all.

Fast forward to today.

Joseph was a Prophet. He was a martyr. I understand now. Mine eyes have been opened.

Three witnesses. I believe the story they tell because God has assured me of its reality. Moreover, they substantiated each others truth claims. (Pretty impressive.) And finally, I can't think of any reason these crazy white boyz would want to make that crap up???? LOL

Big UP!

Lamanite

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) Sabbatai Zevi was a Jewish Rabbi and scholar of the 17th century. In 1648, at the age of 22, he claimed in private to be the Jewish Messiah and the savior of the world. A few years later he set about attempting to recruit converts. At first nearly all Jews rejected his message, and in multiple cases he was excommunicated from synagogues and forced to leave certain cities. As time went on, however, his following grew. Prominent Jewish scholars such as Abraham Yakini, Raphael Hallabi, Nathan Benjamin Levi, Hayyim Benveniste, Isaac Aboab da Fonesca, Moses de Aquilar, Moses Galante, Moses Zacuto and others. In 1665 Sevi publicly declared himself to be the Mesiah. His fame spread rapidly across Europe and the Middle East and soon he had millions of believers, perhaps as many as half the Jewish population. Along with this came an enormous amount of testimony from the people listed above and others to Sevi's godly calling and miraculous powers. They said that they had seen God confirming the choice of Sevi as messiah, that the Prophet Elijah had appeared and annointed him, that Sevi had piloted a flying ship from Palestine to Scotland, and so forth. Far-fetched as these claims may seem, they are well-documented and it can't be doubted that many people including well-educated scholars honestly believed that they had seen these things. Even today Sevi has hundreds of thousands of followers known as the Donmeh who continue to insist that such testimony proves Sevi to be the Messiah.

You need to read a better source on Sabbetai Tzvi. I recommend Gershom Scholem's work.

The parralels between the testimonies really are neither as close nor as impressive as you make them out to be, nor were the above-mentioned prominent scholars witnesses in the same way that the three were.

Tommorow I will try to post an indepth refutation.

On a final note, there aren't hundreds of thousands of Donmeh, the highest estimate is twenty thousand, nor have they spoken out and insisted that such testimony proves Sevi to be the Messiah. Classic misrepresentation.

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Not much, imo. It would carry more weight if they were independent witnesses - independent of eachother and independent of the enterprise at hand (the BoM).

IIRC, Martin Harriss saw the plates after the other two.

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Because I hustle I can spot a hustle. I thought Joseph was a hustler. It had all the tells but the money. At first I thought it was a good hustle and he just didn't play the right angles. He built that Stupid Temple in Kirtland when he could have created a residual revenue stream. He was terrible with money, but a good hustler. He played himself out and shouldn't have given himself up. He got played by those close to him. Stupid move. He was a done dolla. No more earning potential or power... only death. Game over.

But these "three witnesses" had no hustle and no game. I don't get it. No power to gain. Some prestige but the risk/reward is nonsense. Bad move. No money to make only to lose. Bunch of marks if you ask me. If it don't make dollars it don't make sense.... I don't get these three at all.

You keep looking at this from the same angle: it either literally happened or they must have been frauds. But you think they were not clever frauds so they must have been telling the truth. That is not sound logic. First of all, not all fraudsters are good ones, the gaols are full of bad ones. Second, your either/or dichotomy is false. I see no reason why these men could not have actually believed what they said. Moreover, as I explained in my first reply, the way they said it fits the bill: they saw these things by the power of God, not of man.

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