The fact that Joseph Smith roamed about in upstate New York as a young man searching for the lost treasures of Captain Kidd should have been enough to warn people that he was a few fries short of a happy meal. But his later claims to have received a set of Golden Plates from the Angel Moroni spared him from being seen merely as a quack. Instead, they ensured that he will go down in history as both a fraud and a heretic.
The Golden Plates of the Angel Moroni supposedly disappeared into heaven never to be seen again after Smith transcribed The Book of Mormon. This is but one of the evidentiary problems faced by the Latter-day Saints (LDS). The dearth of archeological evidence supporting the claims of Mormonism is also disturbing given that the events described in the book allegedly took place as late as the fifth century A.D.
That many of my LDS readers place The Book of Mormon in the same category with the Bible is odd, to say the least. While archeology has failed to substantiate The Book of Mormon, the veracity of the Bible - both the Old and New Testaments - has been demonstrated repeatedly in recent years.
Sometimes the discoveries confirming the Bible have been general, such as the evidence suggesting that the world did, in fact, have a single language at one time. Another example is the relatively recent evidence that the Hittites really did exist. Those who said for years that no such people ever existed must now contend with concrete evidence found in modern-day Turkey.
More specific examples include discoveries confirming passages in Samuel which say that after his death Saul’s armor was put in the temple of a Canaanite fertility goddess. Passages in Chronicles say his head was put in the temple of a Philistine corn god. Since the Canaanites and Philistines were enemies, critics of the Bible thought that it was an error to place their temples in close proximity. Now that excavations have placed these two temples side-by-side, the critics have been silenced.
Aside from the wealth of archeological evidence that sets the Bible apart from The Book of Mormon, there is another issue of confirmation by prophecy. The predictions in Psalms - that the hands and feet of Jesus would be pierced, that his bones would be out of joint and that lots would be cast for his garments - are amazing. Zechariah also speaks of the piercing of Jesus in a way that clearly foretells his crucifixion.
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