Book of Mormon Storyline:
The Book of Mormon contains a story of a Hebrew family that flees the city of Jerusalem about 600 B.C. The father’s name is Lehi, an alleged descendant of the Bible’s Joseph. Lehi’s son Nephi was his most righteous son. Nephi became the leader over his rebellious brothers. God instructed Lehi and his family to sail across the ocean to the American continent about 589 B.C. After arriving, Nephi and his oldest brother Laman had a conflict and separated. This conflict created two nations; the Nephites and the Lamanites.
The Nephites had God’s favor, they are described as being:
“white and exceedingly fair and delightsome” (2 Nephi 5:21).
The Lamanites supposedly were cursed to have black skin and were primitive compared to the Nephites. These two nations fought against each other for centuries. Eventually, the prophet Mormon became the leader of the Nephites.
Mormon desired that the entire Nephite nation should gather near the hill Cumorah in Western New York to battle the Lamanites:
“I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle. And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites did grant unto me the thing which I desired.” (Mormon, 6:2-3)
In this battle, the Nephite nation was destroyed. Yet, Mormon’s son Moroni lived. Moroni then engraved an account of the battle on gold plates and buried those plates, along with the other plates, his father had previously buried in the hill.
Book of Mormon Problems:
● Mormon desired to have every single one of his subjects (men, women, and children) fight, in what becomes a final battle. His request brought about the annihilation of the entire Nephite nation. If this story were true, Mormon’s call to battle would be one of the greatest military blunders of all time. Let’s try to imagine the Bible’s King Solomon requesting a battle which ends up wiping out the nation of Israel; if Solomon had done so, how many people would consider him a wise man?
● Also, it’s hard to imagine how the Nephites, who had migrated throughout America, could be summoned to battle. For example: How would all the Nephites get the message?
● Logistically, it would seem impossible for every Nephite family in America to battle the Lamanites, on, and around, that small hill in New York. If these peoples were as numerous as the Book of Mormon claims they were, they could not have fit in that small section of New York.
● There is the story itself: of the Nephite nation being destroyed in a final battle. It provides readers with an answer as to why the primitive dark-skinned Lamanites (American Indians) were found in America when Columbus set foot on the Continent. Yet, this Book of Mormon story raises more questions than it answers:
Envision an American family living about 1,625 years ago in what is now called the State of California. In order to survive, they have a large farm including fields of wheat and corn and much livestock. The wife had just given birth to a baby girl a few days earlier when a representative of the prophet Mormon approaches her and her husband explaining that they, along with their extended family, are needed by Mormon to fight in a battle he was arranging to take place a few years from now and some 2,950 miles away.
Envision the husband asking Mormon’s representative if his wife and their newborn baby girl could stay behind; and, if her elderly parents could also stay and maintain the farm while he and all the able bodied men go to battle, only to hear the man reply:
“No, Mormon needs ‘all the remainder of our people.'”
The husband responds:
“But the baby will only be two or three years old by the time the battle starts; and, I’m afraid that my wife and her parents may be too frail to survive the journey.”
Even if the husband were sympathetic to the idea of forsaking the crops, abandoning the livestock, and having every member of the family young and old set out on a trek across the nation; one might wonder how Mormon’s representative could explain to them how to get to Cumorah? Obviously, back in the day, people could not drive down the Interstate and follow the signs. And, the mountain passes and desert terrains were formidable. Also, let’s consider the hardship the family would face traveling during the winter months. And, since every single Nephite in America was supposedly involved in the battle, we could paint a similar picture of families all across America forsaking everything upon hearing Mormon’s request; but, is this a realistic picture:
“Finally, they became so utterly wicked, so fully ripened for destruction, that one branch of the nation, called the Nephites, gathered their entire people around the hill Cumorah, in the State of New York , in Ontario County; and the Lamanites, the opposite army, gathered by millions in the same region. The two nations were four years in gathering their forces, during which no fighting took place; but at the end of that time, having marshalled all their hosts, the fighting commenced, the Lamanites coming upon the Nephites, and destroying all of them, except a very few, who had previously deserted over to the Lamanites.” (Apostle Orson Pratt, April 6, 1874 Journal of Discourses Vol. 17, pg. 24)
More Problems With The Story:
According to the Book of Mormon, this was not the first time all the people in North America were gathered to Cumorah for battle. About 515 years earlier there was another battle on that same hill:
“And it came to pass that the army of Coriantumr did pitch their tents by the hill Ramah; and it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord, which were sacred.” (Ether 15:11)
On this subject LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said,
“… both the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations fought their final great wars of extinction at and near the Hill Cumorah (or Ramah as the Jaredites termed it), which hill is located between Palmyra and Manchester in the western part of the state of New York. It was here that Moroni hid up the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated.” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 175)
In the earlier battle, the Jaredite nation consisting of the people of Coriantumr and the people of Shiz, were utterly destroyed:
“Millions of the Jaredites are slain in battle—Shiz and Coriantumr assemble all the people to mortal combat—The Spirit of the Lord ceases to strive with them—The Jaredite nation is utterly destroyed—Only Coriantumr remains” (Introduction to Ether 15).
Once again, gathering millions of Americans from every corner of the North American continent would have been nearly impossible. Obviously 2,600 years ago people couldn’t turn on the nightly news and learn about the call to go to war. There were no televisions; phones, or any other type of device that could have provided long distance communication.
Because horses weren’t present in America until Cortes brought them over in 1519 A.D., messengers would have needed to traverse the American continent on foot in order to
“get all who were upon the face of the land.”
Everyone would have also needed to walk to the battleground. Again, why would every family in America decide to go on such a laborious journey? The supposed influence which Coriantumr and Shiz had upon people seems far-fetched. Why would families living thousands of miles away from these two monarchs have such strong political ties with them?
Furthermore, there’s the food and supplies people would have needed for the trip. Can you imagine every family in North America walking to New York, carrying with them extra clothes, cooking implements, food, and possibly weapons, for the great battle they were summoned to:
“And it came to pass that when they were all gathered together, every one to the army which he would, with their wives and their children—both men, women and children being armed with weapons of war, having shields, and breastplates, and head-plates, and being clothed after the manner of war—they did march forth one against another to battle; and they fought all that day, and conquered not.” (Ether 15:15)
Wives and children were also involved in this battle. This would answer why the entire Jaredite nation was destroyed. Yet, it doesn’t make much sense: Can you imagine children wearing body armor and being armed with weapons of war? Or, blind men and women involved in battle? And, what about people with a missing arm or leg? Or, those who are old and frail; one might wonder if the story of Shiz and Coriantumr assembling:
“all the people to mortal combat”
has any basis in reality?
Another question: Where did all this body armor come from?
More Problems To Consider:
During the years it supposedly took to gather everyone to combat, what if Coriantumr and Shiz had accidently started the battle a week or two too soon; leaving thousands of families still on the way. As far as the story goes, the timing of the battle was crucial. One might wonder: Why would families that showed up, years, or even months early, wait around? Didn’t they have anything better to do? Also, what about the food and provisions needed to support all the people during the time this gathering was taking place?
Then, there is the battle itself, which would have been a bloodbath, seeing that millions were supposedly slaughtered on and around a hill. Walking to that scene would have meant that families waded through blood and stepped over countless dead bodies. It seems hard to believe that no one, seeing that huge bloody mess, didn’t make a decision to turn around and go home. Instead, every one of the people decided to fight for the cause.
If the gathering of every family in America, and also the slaughter of every person gathered was not too hard to believe, what also seems strange is that out of the millions of people dying on the battlefield, the two monarchs who summoned the people to battle in the first place ended up being the only two left standing.
Then there is the account of how the monarch Shiz died:
“And it came to pass that after he [Coriantumr] had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he struggled for breath, he died.” (Ether 15:31)
Brigham Henry Roberts, who was an LDS General Authority and Assistant Church Historian, examined the literary style within the Book of Mormon and concluded:
“The narrative proceeds in characteristic disregard of conditions necessary to its reasonableness, as if it were a tale told by a child, with utter disregard for consistency.”
Missing Archeological Evidence:
The National Geographic Society,
“does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon.”
The Smithsonian Institution reports,
“Smithsonian archeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.”
Why is it that archeologists have found “absolutely nothing” to point to the existence of civilizations mentioned in the Book of Mormon? Archeologists looking into the people and lands of the Bible, as well as other ancient civilizations, including those in North, Central, and South America, have found plenty of evidence that those civilizations existed, including pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican civilizations dating back to the same period mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon maintains:
“The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea” (Mormon 1:7).
If the Book of Mormon were true, we should expect to find remnants of these buildings across the American Continent. Yet, there is no archeological evidence to show that about 1,700 years ago, buildings covered America. Also, strictly from a logistical point of view, it would be impossible to cover “the whole face of the land” due to America’s diverse mountain terrains; desert regions, and forests.
LDS leaders maintain,
“The Church emphasizes the doctrinal and historical value of the Book of Mormon, not its geography.”
They go on to say,
“…there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site.”
Dee F. Green, editor of the University Archaeological Society Newsletter said,
“The first myth we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists… no Book of Mormon location is known with reference to modern topography. Biblical archaeology can be studied because we do know where Jerusalem and Jericho were and are, but we do not know where Zarahemla and Bountiful were or are. It would seem then that a concentration on geography should be the first order of business, but we have already seen that twenty years of such an approach has left us empty-handed.” (BYU Publication, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1969, pp. 77-78)
Missing archeological evidence is a real problem; perhaps, that is why the LDS Church downplays its relevance:
“…the geography question has not been answered by church authorities, nor have the opinions worked out by geography hobbyists yet led to agreement. In 1947 it was still possible to hope that ‘out of the studies of faithful Latter-day Saints may yet come a unity of opinion concerning Book of Mormon geography’ as Elder Widtsoe put it. But in the half century since, confusion has grown.” (Does Geography in the Book of Mormon Matter?, Provo, Utah: BYU, Maxwell Institute)
The LDS Church is left with the daunting task of trying to convince investigators that ‘the geography question’ really doesn’t matter.
Does This Sound Logical?
“There is a very fundamental reason why Book of Mormon archeology has not yet been discovered… If the Book of Mormon is accepted to be true as an act of the faith of the inquirer it will invite the witness of the Holy Spirit to reveal to the inquirer the KNOWLEDGE that the book is indeed true. That knowledge, inspired by faith, brings with it a commitment to obey the gospel principals that are announced and developed in the book. On the other hand, were it to be demonstrated to be true by scientific investigation it would merely join the ranks of all the other scientific literature, and carry with it no moral commitment of compliance with the principles reveal therein.” (askgramps.org, 2013)
The idea that God’s purpose for mankind is best fulfilled through a lack of Book of Mormon archeological evidence is a common LDS teaching. Yet, this concept has drawbacks. For example: there are literally tons of artifacts to verify that people, places, and lands, mentioned in the Bible existed; because archeologists have found many ancient biblical cities. For example, we know where ancient Jerusalem was located, and the Temple spoken of in the gospels has been found; yet, it still requires faith to believe that Jesus lived, performed miracles, died on a cross, and then ascended to heaven! Therefore, doesn’t it only stand to reason that the explanation the Mormon apologist offered for why Book of Mormon artifacts have not been found is doubletalk?
Scholar, Seeker of Truth, and Regrettably, Finder of Truth:
Thomas Stuart Ferguson, was a distinguished and devout Mormon archeologist, who set out to prove to the world that the Book of Mormon was true. Ferguson thought it would be possible to find artifacts from archaeological digs that would confirm its truthfulness. He believed all he had to do was use the Book of Mormon as a guide, because it spells out a time when the Nephites lived in the New World, and it mentions several Nephite cities by name, along with Nephite lands and villages. The Book of Mormon records that the Nephites constructed houses of cement, as well as temples, synagogues and sanctuaries throughout their territories.
Yet, with all of the digs and research Ferguson and his team undertook, they failed to find one artifact to prove that Book of Mormon Nephite cities, villages, or territories ever existed.
After twenty-five years of research, Ferguson concluded:
“…you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere, because it is fictional…”
Ferguson, whose original goal was to prove to the world that the Book of Mormon was true, eventually lost faith in the Book of Mormon.
Yet Ferguson had reasons why he never left the LDS Church. Here is a letter he wrote to an associate about his decision to stay with Mormonism:
“Perhaps you and I have been spoofed by Joseph Smith. Now that we have the inside dope—why not spoof a little back and stay aboard? Please consider this letter confidential—for obvious reasons. I want to stay aboard the good ship, Mormonism—for various reasons that I think valid. First, several of my dearly loved family members want desperately to believe and do believe it and they each need it. It does them far more good than harm. Belonging, with my eyes wide open is actually fun… I never get up and bear testimony… You might give my suggestions a trial run.
Ferguson felt that revealing the truth about the Book of Mormon to his dearly beloved family would be bad for them. This type of reasoning was addressed by the 19th Century philosopher, Herbert Spencer:
“The greatest of all infidelities is the fear that the truth will be bad.”
The word infidelities means: “absence of religious belief.”
What greater “absence of religious belief” could one possibly have, than to fear that “the truth will be bad?” True religion is all about truth. If the truth might, or will be bad for people, then something is seriously wrong with their faith!
■ First Vision of Joseph Smith — Rich Kelsey
■ Urim and Thummim of LDS Tradition — Rich Kelsey
■ Joseph Smith Stone In Hat Routine — Rich Kelsey
 “The Nephites gather to the land of Cumorah for the final battles—Mormon hides the sacred records in the hill Cumorah—The Lamanites are victorious, and the Nephite nation is destroyed—Hundreds of thousands are slain with the sword. [A.D. 385]” (Introduction to Words of Mormon, Chapter 6)
 “And behold, ye shall take the plates of Nephi unto yourself, and the remainder shall ye leave in the place where they are; and ye shall engrave on the plates of Nephi all the things that ye have observed concerning this people.” (Words of Mormon 1:4).
 “And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them.” (Mormon, 6:7)
 “And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni.
And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them.
And it came to pass that they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers.
And it came to pass that they did fall upon my people with the sword, and with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the ax, and with all manner of weapons of war.” (Mormon 6:6-9)
 “He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.” (Ether 15:2)
 Some Mormon apologists speculate that horses mentioned in the Book of Mormon may have actually been the Central American Tapir, or possibly deer: Alma 18: 9, Alma 18: 12, Alma 20: 6, 3 Ne. 3: 22
 “Wherefore, they were for the space of four years gathering together the people, that they might get all who were upon the face of the land, and that they might receive all the strength which it was possible that they could receive.” (Ether 15:14)
 (Roberts 1985, p. 251: From Robert’s own writings in his landmark work: Studies of the Book of Mormon; which remained unpublished until decades after his death).
 “Thank you for contacting the National Geographic Society. Our position on the Book of Mormon has not changed, nor have we retracted any statements made previously. The National Geographic Society has not examined the historical claims of the Book of Mormon. We know of no archaeological evidence that corroborates the ancient history of the Western Hemisphere as presented in the Book of Mormon, nor are we aware of empirical verification of the places named in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is clearly a work of great spiritual power; millions have read and revered its words, first published by Joseph Smith in 1830. Yet Smith’s narration is not generally taken as a scientific source for the history of the Americas. Archaeologists and other scholars have long probed the hemisphere’s past, and the Society does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon. In fact, students of prehistoric America by and large conclude that the New World’s earliest inhabitants arrived from Asia via the Bering land bridge. (Lower sea levels during ice ages exposed the continental shelf beneath Bering Strait, allowing generations of ancient Siberians to migrate east.) National Geographic carried “The First Americans” in its September 1979 issue, perhaps on your library’s shelf… Sincerely, Lisa Walker” (Research Correspondence (The National Geographic’s Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon Received via Email 1/21/2001)
 (The Smithsonian Institution statement on The Book of Mormon)
 In 1973, Michael Coe, one of the best known authorities on archaeology of the New World, wrote an article for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1973. After telling of the Mormon belief in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, he frankly stated: “Let me now state uncategorically that as far as I know there is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing the foregoing to be true,… nothing, absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon… is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our hemisphere.” (pp.42, 46)
 The Olmec civilization — 1,200 – 400 BC — flourished on the gulf coast of Mexico, and constructed the first pyramids in the North American continent as well as the big stone ‘baby-faced’ head monuments. The ancient Maya Civilization occupied much of the central North American continent based on the gulf coast of what is now Mexico between 2500 BC and AD 1500, and are known for their amazing complex artwork, particularly murals, and graceful pyramids. The capital city of the Zapotec Civilization — 500 BC – 750 AD is Monte Alban in the valley of Oaxaca in central Mexico. Monte Alban is one of the most intensively studied archaeological sites in the Americas, The Inca civilization was the largest civilization in the Americas when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the early 16th century. The Mississippian culture is a term used by archaeologists to refer to cultures inhabiting the length of the Mississippi River, The Aztec civilization was at the height of their power and influence when the Spanish arrived. Warlike, intractable, and aggressive, the Aztecs conquered much of Central America.
 Pre-Classic—Maya, Olmec and Zapotec civilizations flourished during the approximate period that events spoken of in the Book of Mormon are said to have occurred.
 (Office of the First Presidency, April 12, 1993)
 (Office of the First Presidency, April 12, 1993)
 “No reputable Egyptologist or other specialist on Old World archeology, and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archeological remains in Mexico and archeological remains in Egypt. Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World in pre-Columbian contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines, and sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492 …” (The Smithsonian Institution statement on The Book of Mormon)
 “While there is no archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon’s claim that there were Nephites in the New World, the existence of the Israelites in the Holy Land is verified by a great deal of evidence. The “earliest archaeological reference to the people of Israel” is a stele of the Egyptian ruler Merneptah, dated about 1220 B.C. Many ancient inscriptions mentioning the Israelites have been found, and some inscriptions even give the names of kings or other people mentioned in the Bible. The New Testament mentions a number of rulers that are known to have lived around the time of Christ. The fact that the Jews were in Palestine at the time the Bible indicates is proven by hundreds of ancient Hebrew inscriptions. Portions of every book of the Old Testament, except for the book Esther, have also been found in the manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. When we turn to the Book of Mormon, however, we are unable to find any evidence at all that the Nephites ever existed.” (Testing the Book of Mormon, Utah Lighthouse tract)
 “I cheerfully admit, and routinely say, that Mormonism has not proven its claims. I don’t think it’s supposed to do so, either…” (BYU Professor, Daniel C. Peterson)
 In a paper entitled, “Thomas Stuart Ferguson, 1915-83,” Fred W. Nelson wrote the following: “Thomas Ferguson has either directly or indirectly influenced thousands of people’s thinking on archaeology…. He has had a great influence on professional archaeology through the Department of Archaeology at Brigham Young University, the Gates Collection, and the New World Archaeological Foundation…. Ferguson’s legacy in the founding of the Archaeology Department at Brigham Young University, the obtaining of the Gates Collection, and as founder of the New World Archaeology Foundation stands as a shining example to us all.” (As cited in The Messiah in Ancient America, pp. 282-83)
City of Ammonihah, Wicked Nephite City, ‘Desolation of Nehors’
City of Bountiful, Major Nephite city in the northeastern quadrant
City by the Sea, Nephite city on the west coast
City of Cumeni, Nephite city fought for by Helaman
City of Desolation, Northern Nephite City
City of Jordan, Nephite retreat maintained by Mormon
City of Judea, Nephite city
City of and Land of Moroni, In southeast of Nephite lands
City of Moronihah, Iniquitous Nephite city
City of Mulek, Nephite city south of Bountiful
City of Nephihah, Nephite refuge captured and lost by the Lamanites
City of Omner, Nephite city by seashore on east borders
City of and Land of Shem2, Nephite land north of Antum and Jashon
City of Zarahemla, Major capital of Nephites from about 200 B.C. to A.D. 200
City of Zeezrom, Nephite city on southwest frontier
 “Many Nephites migrate to the land northward—They build houses of cement and keep many records—Tens of thousands are converted and baptized—The word of God leads men to salvation—Nephi the son of Helaman fills the judgment seat. Between 49 and 39 B.C.” (Introduction to the Book of Helaman 3).
 “But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account of the Lamanites and of the Nephites, and their wars, and contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries, and their righteousness, and their wickedness, and their murders, and their robbings, and their plundering, and all manner of abominations and whoredoms, cannot be contained in this work.” (Helaman 3:14)
 Thomas Stuart Ferguson was, at one time, one of the most noted defenders of Book of Mormon archaeology. Mr. Ferguson planned the New World Archaeological Foundation which he hoped would prove the Book of Mormon through archaeological research. The Mormon Church granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to this organization, but in the end, Thomas Stuart Ferguson admitted that although the Foundation made some important contributions to New World archaeology, all his work with regard to the Book of Mormon was in vain. He admitted, in fact, that he had wasted twenty-five years of his life trying to prove the Book of Mormon. In 1975 Ferguson prepared a 29-page paper in which he wrote: “I’m afraid that up to this point, I must agree with Dee Green, who has told us that to date there is no Book-of-Mormon geography.” In a letter to Mr. & Mrs. H.W. Lawrence, dated Feb. 20, 1976, Thomas Stuart Ferguson plainly stated: “…you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere – because it is fictional and will never meet the requirements of the dirt-archeology.”
 In a letter to Mormon President David O. McKay, dated Dec. 14, 1951, Ferguson wrote: “If the anticipated evidences confirming the Book of Mormon are found, worldwide notice will be given to the restored gospel through the Book of Mormon. The artifacts will speak eloquently from the dust.” (The Messiah in Ancient America, p. 257)
 (Letter from Thomas Stuart Ferguson to Mr. & Mrs. H. W. Lawrence, dated Feb. 20, 1976)