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Navigating Faith After Concluding Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham Are 19th Century Works by Joseph Smith


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On 10/5/2020 at 9:18 PM, Fair Dinkum said:

I've been on the tipping point for some time but now feel quite confident that the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham are not what they each claim to be. I respect those who have come to a different conclusion.  I feel quite confident that both works were not written by actual ancient authors, humans that existed in real time and space nor do I believe that Nephite's or Lamanite's nor Noah, Abraham and probably Moses actually ever existed. I have given up belief in an actual Adam and Eve, living in a Garden of Eden in Missouri, USA, No death before the fall, a universal flood and the tower of Babel. By default, I must also conclude that there was no actual translations of any ancient histories by Joseph Smith but that he was engaged in creating a pseudepigraphal scripture and that these works have their foundations in the 19th century and were creations from Joseph Smith's own creative mind.  They still hold doctrine and have value but my view of them has become more nuanced. 

 

I don't quite understand how he was able to write such a book at the time that he did. Let me put it simply. It would take reams of paper to write such a book. Not to mention many ink pens.  Plus very few can write a book without trashing paper. When did this trash paper go? And how did he hide his book writing. His home was rather small. Then, we have the 11 witnesses. Where do they fit into your picture. And why would some of them give their testimony on their deathbed? It is quite amazing when you think about it. Also, he would have needed to heavily study the bible and put in a dual scripture response in comparisons of the book of mormon and the new testament or old testament. And then he went to his death for a fraud, if it as you claim it to be. Amazing stuff if so.

I think that if he did write it, he made a tremendous mistake. It caused nothing but headaches. He would have been better off just founding a new church on the scale of other great reformers such as Calvin, Knox, Wesley etc. Instead, he goes with the book of mormon.

Back to the paper needed. If I were a shopkeeper and I saw a young man come into my shop for paper and ink over and over again, I would probably remember it or I would ask him what so much paper and pens. But I certainly would not forget him. And I would probably say something. And then, we need to consider all the people who would need to be in on a fraud: his mom, dad, brothers, friends etc. If I were his mom and i saw him suffering because of a fraud of my own son's making I may say something relevant to him: give it up and enjoy life.

Edited by why me
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On 11/30/2020 at 2:45 PM, Glenn101 said:

Do you have any references for this assertion? Written language may or may not be more formal than the spoken word. I would think that such would depend more upon the genre, the person, and the educational level of the person. Written language, of necessity, must trail the spoken word as word meanings and speech patterns change.

Glenn

In my experience, and I think it is common to most, I take more time to compose anything written, paying closer attention to grammar, etc. than when I speak. 

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On 10/5/2020 at 11:18 AM, Fair Dinkum said:

I've been on the tipping point for some time but now feel quite confident that the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham are not what they each claim to be. I respect those who have come to a different conclusion.  I feel quite confident that both works were not written by actual ancient authors, humans that existed in real time and space nor do I believe that Nephite's or Lamanite's nor Noah, Abraham and probably Moses actually ever existed. I have given up belief in an actual Adam and Eve, living in a Garden of Eden in Missouri, USA, No death before the fall, a universal flood and the tower of Babel. By default, I must also conclude that there was no actual translations of any ancient histories by Joseph Smith but that he was engaged in creating a pseudepigraphal scripture and that these works have their foundations in the 19th century and were creations from Joseph Smith's own creative mind.  They still hold doctrine and have value but my view of them has become more nuanced. 

My aim in this post is not to convince anyone else that my conclusions are correct nor am I asking anyone else to join me in my conclusions but am asking if there is anyone else who has come to a similar conclusion and how you were able to maintaine faith and belief in the church's other claims after coming to this conclusion.  I reached this place in order to maintain mental consistency with what I view as the facts.  I am not seeking a debate of my conclusions but am certainly willing to entertain additional information that might test my conclusions. My fear is that once this thread has been pulled the entire garment falls apart.

If there is anyone here who has traveled this road already and successfully navigated it...how did you maintain belief and faith in the church once you concluded that everything is not what you believed it was? is there still a place in the church for those who hold a nuanced belief?

Note to Administration:  If my post is inappropriate for this board please feel free to delete it.

If the Book of Mormon is not literally a translation of an ancient text written on golden plates and delivered by an angel, then Joseph Smith was either a pathological liar, deceived, or both. Mormonism would be a fraud. What would be the point of hanging onto a religion built upon a fraud?

Of course I am convinced that the Book of Mormon is exactly what Joseph said it was. So I think casting it aside would be a mistake of epic proportions.

I can empathize with your situation though. About 5 years ago I briefly went down the anti-Mormon rabbit hole and had my faith in the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and prophetic calling of Joseph Smith briefly shaken. The arguments of critics of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon can be very convincing. They caused me to doubt my testimony of the Book of Mormon, which had been given to me by God by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Fortunately I decided to dig a little deeper. What I found was that there are legitimate answers to nearly every issue critics raise against the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. There are still a few unanswered questions (which is where faith comes in), but by and large there is a solid answer for nearly every question.

There are also many proofs that an unlearned farm boy like Joseph Smith (or anyone for that matter) could not have written the Book of Mormon and that it is an authentic record of an ancient people who lived on the American continent long ago.

I know you said you don't want to discuss your reasons for reaching the conclusions you have, but maybe it would be helpful to give us a few reasons for why you reached this conclusion so we can address those. You clearly still feel an attachment to the teachings of the Book of Mormon and the restoration. What have you got to lose by giving it a little more invesigation?

There's simply no point in holding onto a religion which is built upon a fraud. Maybe you simply want to fake it for the sake of family or tradition, but it will not be satisfying to live a lie. And on the other hand, should the Book of Mormon be true scripture from God, written by ancient prophets on the American continent, rejecting the truth would be a huge mistake. 

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On 12/5/2020 at 11:22 AM, Robert J Anderson said:

In my experience, and I think it is common to most, I take more time to compose anything written, paying closer attention to grammar, etc. than when I speak. 

I agree that most people take more time to compose written speech. But oral speech is something that is constantly changing and those changes are only later incorporated into written documents as they become generally accepted.

Glenn

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On 12/5/2020 at 9:23 AM, LDS Watchman said:

If the Book of Mormon is not literally a translation of an ancient text written on golden plates and delivered by an angel, then Joseph Smith was either a pathological liar, deceived, or both. Mormonism would be a fraud. What would be the point of hanging onto a religion built upon a fraud?

Of course I am convinced that the Book of Mormon is exactly what Joseph said it was. So I think casting it aside would be a mistake of epic proportions.

I can empathize with your situation though. About 5 years ago I briefly went down the anti-Mormon rabbit hole and had my faith in the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and prophetic calling of Joseph Smith briefly shaken. The arguments of critics of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon can be very convincing. They caused me to doubt my testimony of the Book of Mormon, which had been given to me by God by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Fortunately I decided to dig a little deeper. What I found was that there are legitimate answers to nearly every issue critics raise against the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. There are still a few unanswered questions (which is where faith comes in), but by and large there is a solid answer for nearly every question.

There are also many proofs that an unlearned farm boy like Joseph Smith (or anyone for that matter) could not have written the Book of Mormon and that it is an authentic record of an ancient people who lived on the American continent long ago.

I know you said you don't want to discuss your reasons for reaching the conclusions you have, but maybe it would be helpful to give us a few reasons for why you reached this conclusion so we can address those. You clearly still feel an attachment to the teachings of the Book of Mormon and the restoration. What have you got to lose by giving it a little more invesigation?

There's simply no point in holding onto a religion which is built upon a fraud. Maybe you simply want to fake it for the sake of family or tradition, but it will not be satisfying to live a lie. And on the other hand, should the Book of Mormon be true scripture from God, written by ancient prophets on the American continent, rejecting the truth would be a huge mistake. 

Sorry for the delay in my response, I've been away and to be honest haven't given much thought to Mormonism.  I'm sure my reasons for loss of belief in a literal BoM would be found in most of the reasons most would give, but I'll share one that I've yet to hear anyone offer.  The one denominational, black and white character of the principle protagonists in the book. As an avid reader of historical books, I've never read a book of history with such thin characters. In other words there is no depth to these characters.  They feel, at least to me,  plastic and fictional.  That my opinion.  All of that might be forgiven if there were any actual tangible evidence to back up the book but I have yet to find any. 

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29 minutes ago, Fair Dinkum said:

The one denominational, black and white character of the principle protagonists in the book. As an avid reader of historical books, I've never read a book of history with such thin characters. In other words there is no depth to these characters.  They feel, at least to me,  plastic and fictional.  That my opinion.

I'm gonna be honest, I think this is an extremely unconvincing argument. Have you ever read Livy whenever the topic of Scipio Africanus is brought up? Or Fabius Cunctator? Or Marcellus? Talk about hagiography - and yet the one-dimensionality is clearly not a justifiable reason to believe that these characters were not real. Modern nuancebros love complicated characters and complex storylines - complexity as measure of quality. It was not always thus. Frankly I find more humanity in the guilty Nephi, the insecure Moroni II, the brash and aggressive Captain Moroni, and the penitent and remorseful Alma then I do in most of the ancient works which I am wont to read. 

 

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1 hour ago, Fair Dinkum said:

The one denominational, black and white character of the principle protagonists in the book.

The Book of Mormon claims to be a (relatively short) Nephite abridgement of ~1000years of Nephite records, kept by upper echelon Nephites describing their history compared to the Lamanites that want to kill them. Why would you be expecting much character depth?

What exactly were you expecting? "And thus Laman was sore angry, and he tooketh a dump at the door of the tent of Nephi"? Dating stories? Random stories that just take up space and are irrelevant for putting forth the spiritual narrative?

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1 hour ago, OGHoosier said:

I'm gonna be honest, I think this is an extremely unconvincing argument. Have you ever read Livy whenever the topic of Scipio Africanus is brought up? Or Fabius Cunctator? Or Marcellus? Talk about hagiography - and yet the one-dimensionality is clearly not a justifiable reason to believe that these characters were not real. Modern nuancebros love complicated characters and complex storylines - complexity as measure of quality. It was not always thus. Frankly I find more humanity in the guilty Nephi, the insecure Moroni II, the brash and aggressive Captain Moroni, and the penitent and remorseful Alma then I do in most of the ancient works which I am wont to read. 

 

I have read Livy, very interesting history of Rome but it's been about 30 years ago and I'm not attempting to convince anyone one way or the other regarding the BoM...I was asked what were some of the seeds of my own doubts and i merely shared one of the causes.

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3 minutes ago, JustAnAustralian said:

The Book of Mormon claims to be a (relatively short) Nephite abridgement of ~1000years of Nephite records, kept by upper echelon Nephites describing their history compared to the Lamanites that want to kill them. Why would you be expecting much character depth?

What exactly were you expecting? "And thus Laman was sore angry, and he tooketh a dump at the door of the tent of Nephi"? Dating stories? Random stories that just take up space and are irrelevant for putting forth the spiritual narrative?

G'day.  Where in Oz you from mate?

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20 minutes ago, JustAnAustralian said:

And thus Laman was sore angry, and he tooketh a dump at the door of the tent of Nephi.

I wasn't expecting to laugh, but I did. Count this as a laugh react.

Edited by OGHoosier
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18 minutes ago, Fair Dinkum said:

I have read Livy, very interesting history of Rome but it's been about 30 years ago and I'm not attempting to convince anyone one way or the other regarding the BoM...I was asked what were some of the seeds of my own doubts and i merely shared one of the causes.

Fair enough. 

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16 hours ago, Fair Dinkum said:

I'm sure my reasons for loss of belief in a literal BoM would be found in most of the reasons most would give, but I'll share one that I've yet to hear anyone offer.  The one denominational, black and white character of the principle protagonists in the book. As an avid reader of historical books, I've never read a book of history with such thin characters. In other words there is no depth to these characters.  They feel, at least to me,  plastic and fictional.  That my opinion

You're right, I've never heard of this criticism before. 

The characters seem real and multidimensional to me. But let's assume that they are presented as pretty one dimensional compared to the way characters in other works of history are presented.

1. Book of Mormon characters are presented the same way as biblical characters. So this may simply be the way ancient Israelites wrote.

2. Most of the Book of Mormon is a very brief abridgment of a history which spans a thousand years (or more in the case of the Book of Ether). Mormon and Moroni simply would not have had room to make the characters more interesting, and kept it simple.

16 hours ago, Fair Dinkum said:

All of that might be forgiven if there were any actual tangible evidence to back up the book but I have yet to find any. 

What type of tangible evidence are you looking for, for which you haven't found any?

Edited by LDS Watchman
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9 hours ago, LDS Watchman said:

You're right, I've never heard of this criticism before. 

The characters seem real and multidimensional to me. But let's assume that they are presented as pretty one dimensional compared to the way characters in other works of history are presented.

1. Book of Mormon characters are presented the same way as biblical characters. So this may simply be the way ancient Israelites wrote.

2. Most of the Book of Mormon is a very brief abridgment of a history which spans a thousand years (or more in the case of the Book of Ether). Mormon and Moroni simply would not have had room to make the characters more interesting, and kept it simple.

What type of tangible evidence are you looking for, for which you haven't found any?

I’ll be brief and offer one example. I don’t accept the church’s explanation in its essays for lack of DNA in native Americans. If BoM people existed their descendants would exhibit DNA

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6 minutes ago, Fair Dinkum said:

I’ll be brief and offer one example. I don’t accept the church’s explanation in its essays for lack of DNA in native Americans. If BoM people existed their descendants would exhibit DNA

So it's not a matter of there being no tangible evidence for the Book of Mormon, but rather that you take issue with certain explanations of criticisms against the Book of Mormon.

There's not much anyone can do about that I'm afraid. 

I can however provide you with lots of tangible evidence of the Book of Mormon if it would help.

 

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On 10/5/2020 at 2:18 PM, Fair Dinkum said:

I've been on the tipping point for some time but now feel quite confident that the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham are not what they each claim to be. I respect those who have come to a different conclusion.  I feel quite confident that both works were not written by actual ancient authors, humans that existed in real time and space nor do I believe that Nephite's or Lamanite's nor Noah, Abraham and probably Moses actually ever existed. I have given up belief in an actual Adam and Eve, living in a Garden of Eden in Missouri, USA, No death before the fall, a universal flood and the tower of Babel. By default, I must also conclude that there was no actual translations of any ancient histories by Joseph Smith but that he was engaged in creating a pseudepigraphal scripture and that these works have their foundations in the 19th century and were creations from Joseph Smith's own creative mind.  They still hold doctrine and have value but my view of them has become more nuanced. 

My aim in this post is not to convince anyone else that my conclusions are correct nor am I asking anyone else to join me in my conclusions but am asking if there is anyone else who has come to a similar conclusion and how you were able to maintaine faith and belief in the church's other claims after coming to this conclusion.  I reached this place in order to maintain mental consistency with what I view as the facts.  I am not seeking a debate of my conclusions but am certainly willing to entertain additional information that might test my conclusions. My fear is that once this thread has been pulled the entire garment falls apart.

If there is anyone here who has traveled this road already and successfully navigated it...how did you maintain belief and faith in the church once you concluded that everything is not what you believed it was? is there still a place in the church for those who hold a nuanced belief?

Note to Administration:  If my post is inappropriate for this board please feel free to delete it.

Once I came to the conclusions that you have I tried for many year to stay active and participating in the LDS Church. It became increasingly difficult and even generated sever anxiety when I attended church or tried to hold a calling. Maybe because once these started to unravel a whole lot of other things did to. I wish I could make it work because there is a lot of appeal to have a ward community and be part of one.  But the trade off in my personal integrity just became to great.

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On 10/6/2020 at 12:11 AM, teddyaware said:

I’m wondering how it’s possible to have genuine, life transforming faith in a religion when it’s most important truth claims turn out to be nothing but an exceedingly long string of elaborate lies. Perhaps it’s analogous to a loving wife who discovers her husband of many years has been a serial cheater whose been unfaithful since before they were married. But she mulls it over and eventually decides to not confront him on the issue and decides it’s best to spend the rest of her life pretending she didn’t learn the truth because she’s too emotionally attached and dependent on her “husband” to let him go.

So the woman ends up spending the rest of her life in an emotionally taxing charade in which she’s constantly lying to her man and he’s constantly lying to her. But, at least outwardly, the marriage appears to remain intact because in their mutual neuroses there’s too much codependency to just admit the truth and live lives of honesty, forthrightness and integrity.

But perhaps there’s something in all the pretending that’s worthwhile after all because, at least for the wife, a nebulous and tentative something is far better than nothing at all. Perhaps it’s something like stage actors who really “get into character,” and for a few fleeting moments feel as if they actually are the people they are portraying. Come to think of it, throughout history there have no doubt been millions of marriages that have played out in exactly the same way until one of them goes down to the grave and leaves all the playacting behind.

But perhaps it would be better if the wife would simply confront the husband on his infidelity and tell him he can continue on in his extramarital shenanigans as long as he comes home to her and sees her temporal and physical needs. At least this way they could stop with all the hassles and stresses of pretending and at least be honest with each other. I’m thinking this later option would be analogous to you going to your bishop or stake president and being fully transparent by admitting that you believe the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham are fraudulent and not what they purport to be. At least that way you could hold on to your integrity and self-respect.

But just know this, regardless of your admissions to the priesthood leaders, your interactions with the believing members will be fraught with danger lest you be perceived as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. So it would likely be best if you were also fully transparent with the members of your congregation and stake, because at least that way it would be far less likely that you’d be accused of mingling with the believing saints while having a surreptitious agenda to undermine their faith. But then again, many would wonder why you would want to remain an active member when you no longer believe the ‘keystone’ of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a true history of very real ancient people.

The bottom line? Be true to yourself and honest with the members unless the priesthood leaders direct that you should keep your loss of faith private.

 

This is a fine example of why I could n longer make it work. Once you start unraveling things it is easy to lead down the path of rejecting it all. I wish I could be as nuanced as Pogi seems.  He said above all to maintain your faith and belief in God.  But which God?  The Judeo Christian God seems totally implausible to me now and also a rather cruel egotistical being if this being does exist.  And this post above demonstrates how difficult it can be for a nuanced believer to navigate the LDS culture. You really won't be welcome if you want to be open and your true self. But you can sit there and just be quiet like I did for many years. But you may suffer emotionally from it.

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3 hours ago, Teancum said:

Once I came to the conclusions that you have I tried for many year to stay active and participating in the LDS Church. It became increasingly difficult and even generated sever anxiety when I attended church or tried to hold a calling. Maybe because once these started to unravel a whole lot of other things did to. I wish I could make it work because there is a lot of appeal to have a ward community and be part of one.  But the trade off in my personal integrity just became to great.

I hear you! Many years I held a calling and was active during my unbelief. Just the last two I've been inactive because of a move mainly. Only attended a few times in the new ward. I'm open minded enough, that there is a slight speck that I could wrong about the church. And God is playing tricks. I'm able to hold onto faith and hope that God exists. I know something does, because we have a world full of so many intricate people, places, and things! 

Edited by Tacenda
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