Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book of Mormon Q&A

Fellow Student,

My name is David Brosnahan. I am one of four sons of Gayle and Timothy. I am trained in the physical sciences having earned both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Biochemistry. Following this study, I was blessed to attended medical school. I am currently working as a US board certified emergency physician. During my studies I met and married my wonderful wife Ruth. We have been happily married for over 12 years and I am the proud father of 4 wonderful children; 3 of whom were born during various stages of my advanced education.

My purpose for listing my credentials is not to brag, but to 1. Encourage you not to delay getting married and having a family because of school, and 2. Illustrate that being highly educated has increased my faith in Jesus Christ. Throughout my training, I have had the
pleasure of working with hundreds of highly educated and disciplined scientists, physicians and other health professionals who have also been people of sincere faith and spirituality. Regardless of our different religions and beliefs, most everyone I have associated with has taught me that truth speaks to both the heart as well as the mind.

If you are reading this letter, then I can only assume something is tugging at your heart; urging you to making an honest and sincere investigation of the Book of Mormon. When, my parents told me that they would be teaching several classes on the Book of Mormon, I wished to write a brief letter discussing some of the questions I have pondered over the years during my personal and continual investigation of the Book of Mormon.

Having given and attended many lectures on the Book of Mormon, I am
of the opinion that these lectures can sometimes get bogged down with the same old questions that critics raise to divert our attention away from the real message of the Book of Mormon. The reason critics endlessly raise the same questions about a specific historical claim here or a specific word usage there is to discourage people from focusing on and appreciating the overall message and Spirit of the Book of Mormon. Investigating a book of scripture like the Book of Mormon is no casual mental or spiritual undertaking. Therefore, if you can be led to believe the Book of Mormon contains many simple and obvious errors, then Satan knows you won't bother to investigate

Look, let's face the reality of human nature. If you were to discover that the Book of Mormon is true, then you would be faced with the necessity of making some serious life changes. Christ's true church doesn't just allow its members to "go through the motions" of religious observance without making any demands (1Cor5:11-13). Yes, it is true that Christ accepts us as we are. But, once we invite Him in our lives, he doesn't leave us the same person. The Book of Mormon teaches that Christ saves us "from" our sins and not "in" our sins (Hel 5:10). In addition to living up to Gods higher standard of virtue
and morality, many converts to the LDS church face painful persecution
from family and friends.

With all this in mind, you can understand why it is easy for many
investigators of the Book of Mormon to be looking for the flaws instead of looking for the truth. Most people focus on criticisms instead of the message of the Book of Mormon because if they can convince themselves that "such-and-such" flaw proves the Book of Mormon is a fake, then you don't need to really "pay the price" and investigate further.

My hope is to list some of the more common intellectual criticisms of Book of Mormon historicity, together with a few well-reasoned responses. My hope is these responses will encourage you in your honestly and sincere investigation of the truth of the Book of Mormon.

Book of Mormon Questions:

Q. Does it matter if the Book of Mormon is true? Isn't there truth in
all religion? Isn't the most important thing that everyone believe in
A. Today, a major false doctrine has spread throughout the world is that it doesn’t matter what you believe, or what church you belong to. Most people today believe there is no one true religion or belief. Yes, there is truth to be found in all religions and beliefs and we should be respectful of everyone and their beliefs. However, the truth is that true belief does make a difference. True belief (Orthodoxy)
leads to true behavior (Orthopraxis), and true behavior and belief lead to a true heart towards God (Orthocardia). The consequences of false religion and
belief (priestcraft) are a major theme of the Books of Mosiah and Alma in the Book of Mormon.

Q. Does the Book of Mormon teach a different Christ that the Bible?
A. 1. The same Christ that died on the cross and was resurrected in the New Testament appeared to the Nephites in America (John 10:16).
2. Paul taught the Galations, “But though we, or an angel from heaven,
preach another gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto
you, leg him be accursed” (Gal 1:8). Yet John in Revelation was shown
another angel in the Last Days preaching the true gospel: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” The angel Moroni, who delivered the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith, is this “other angel”.
3. Many Christian Churches claim that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not Christian. This is because they define Christian as believing in the Nicene Creed of 325 AD. LDS do believe in the God Head which is composed of 3 Divine Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. However, there is one word in the Nicene Creed that has led to an incorrect understanding of God. This word, which comes from Gnostic tradition, is “homoousios”. “Homoousios” is understood to mean that God the Father and Jesus Christ are the “same substance”. This forms the basis of the Trinity Doctrine and the great mystery of how God the Father and God the Son are 2 Persons; but 1 Being and 1 God. Joseph Smith learned in the First Vision and through the Book of Mormon that God the Father and God the Son are: 1 God, 1 Power, 1 Purpose, 2 Beings, 2 Personages, 2 Individuals. First Century Christians like as Justin Martyr, in his letter to Trypho, taught that God the Father and Jesus Christ were 2 “numerically distinct” beings, and 2 distinct persons (Justin Martyr
Letter to Trypho, Chapter 62)

Q. Doesn’t Revelation 22:18-19 mean that the Bible is closed and that
no one should add or subtract anything from the Bible?
A. 1. Revelation says “if any man shall take away (or add) from the words of the book of this prophecy.” The words “the book” and “this prophecy” are singular which makes it clear that these words are referring to Book of Revelation itself. Furthermore, the Bible hadn’t even been compiled yet in its current form. John the Revelator wrote his 3 epistles after he wrote the Book of Revelation. The 3 letters
of John were placed before the Book of Revelation even though they followed the Revelation chronologically. Deut 4:2 contains a similar warning. The message of the Book of Mormon is that the heavens are not sealed, the Bible is not sealed, and our unchanging God is continually calling prophets and giving scripture to man, and will continue forever.

Q. Doesn’t the existence of the Book of Mormon mean that the LDS believe that the Bible is flawed? However, doesn’t the Dead Sea Scrolls prove the Bible is not flawed?
A. The Book of Mormon testifies that the Bible is the word of God. In fact, the Book of Mormon specifically says that the Old Testament would “never perish,” and not be “dimmed any more by time,” (1 Ne 5:19) except that our Old Testament would not contain as many books of the prophets as they had at that time. With regard to the New Testament, the Book of Mormon says that it would go forth unto the
Gentiles, “in purity,” but that some “plain and precious things” would
be taken away. (1Ne 13:25;28) The LDS Church 8th Article of Faith states that “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” In other words, what this means is, we believe the Bible is the word of God so far as it is “interpreted and understood correctly”. Nothing in the Bible is incorrect, it just may be incorrectly interpreted.

Q. Does the Book of Mormon teach that man can save themselves through
their own works?
A. Nephi taught, "for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do" (2 Ne 25:23). Now the "after all we can do" part, is what most people misunderstand. If you understand the context of this verse, was explaining why they bothered
observing the Law of Moses at all, knowing that the "law hath become
dead" and that salvation was through the grace of Christ. What Nephi meant by saying "after all we can do" was that the Law of Moses was given by Christ, and was a manifestation of His grace. So, what Nephi is really saying is not that man can contribute anything (by himself) to his own salvation; but that we should receive what grace God has already given, before asking and expecting more. In other words, Nephi is saying, "finish what’s on your plate, before asking for seconds."

Q. Doesn't Native American population genetic research prove the Book
of Mormon false?
A. Initial Native American mitochondrial (mtDNA) studies demonstrated that founding mtDNA haplogroups A,B,C,D came from Asia and Siberia. However, these early studies excluded another founding Haplogroup X which comes from the area of Northern Israel. Even today, the Druze of Northern Israel and Lebanon have the highest rates of Haplogroup X which is believed to represent the genetics of the region at the time the Druze first settled the area around 1000 AD (genetic refugium).
[Hadid Y, et al. (2008) The Druze: A Population Genetic Refugium of
the Near East. PLoS ONE 3(5):

Q. If a majority of Native American DNA comes from Asia, then how are
the Book of Mormon peoples considered their "principal ancestors"?
A. Although the Book of Mormon Introduction states that the Nephites
and Lamanites are the principal ancestors of the Native American, this
is speaking in a spiritual sense and not genetically. In fact, Nephi himself clearly says that only a "remnant of his seed" would remain in the Last Days (1Ne 15:13).

Q. Haplogroup X in America has been proven to come from the Middle East, but radio-isotopic dating suggests it came over 10,000 BC; way before the Nephites who migrated in 600 BC.
A. If you studied your climate science through all the global warming excitement you should have noticed graphs showing fluctuations in rates of solar neutrinos hitting the Earth as well as fluctuation in the rate of formation of C-14 and other isotopes. Dating techniques assume that isotope formation is constant when it is not. Consequently, all radio-isotopic dating techniques are flawed. If you are a creationist or just believe that Adam (the first man) lived only 4000 BC, you may also question these isotopic dating interpretations.

Q. What about bees in the Jaredite Barges?
A. American bees are stingerless. Bees with stingers are European, African, or Asian.

Q. What about animals in the Jaredite barges and sanitation?
A. The air-tight barges had a stoppered opening on the top and bottom. Stoppering the top, and opening the bottom makes a convenient “moon pool” to discard any waste materials.

Q. What about Shiz gasping for breath after having his head "smitten off"?
And what about Nephi smiting off Laban's head and then putting on his
armor. Wouldn't Zoram have noticed the blood?
A. According to Judges 5:26, to smite off the head means to deal a death blow to the head and not to cut off the head.

Q. Wouldn't golden plates the dimensions that Joseph Smith described weigh 90 kg?
A. The golden plates were never described as a solid block of gold. Instead they were made up of paper-thin engraved pages bound together
with 3, D-shaped rings. Furthermore, the golden plates were described as only having the appearance of gold. It is well known that Ancient Americans alloyed gold with a high percentage of copper (Tumbaga). With these facts in mind, Martin Harris' approximate weight of 25 kg (50 lbs) is very reasonable.

Q. Why is the Book of Mormon translated using King James English?
A. The King James Bible was the most popular version of the Bible at the time of Joseph Smith and it is the English version used in the LDS Church today. God knew this and choose to translate the Book of Mormon using the similar biblical language to help readers remember and also cross-reference. Many times I read verses in the Book of Mormon which prompt me to look up similar sounding scripture verses in
the Bible and visa versa. Similar language is not plagiarism. The
Book of Mormon writers reference the Old Testament when they are specifically quoting from it. Otherwise, similarities are a result of the same God teaching the same principles.

Q. What is Reformed Egyptian (Mormon 9:32-33)?
A. The Book of Mormon says that it contains the learning of the Jews written using the language of the Egyptians (1Ne1:2) In today’s meaning of words, the golden plates were written in the Hebrew language using a lost Egyptian alphabetic shorthand script similar to Demotic or Meroitic Egyptian. It's like Hindi and Urdu; same oral language written in either Sanskrit or Persian. Paleo-Hebrew or
Phoenician of 600 BC was too bulky of a writing system to fit on the plates. Classical Hebrew hadn't been invented yet. But writing Hebrew use an Egyptian shorthand script proved much more compact. This also explains why there are so many Hebraisms (Hebrew grammatical structure and idioms) preserved in the translation.

Q. Would the Ancient Jews have ever written their scripture in a pagan language?
A. 1.there is nothing inherently pagan about a language. God created all languages and speaks to all people in their own language (2Ne31:3).
2. Hebrew itself was borrowed from the Phoenicians. Classical Hebrew
wasn't invented until the Babylonian captivity.
3. Papyrus Amherst 63 dated to the second century BC is a document
written in Aramaic using Egyptian Demotic characters. Among the writings included in the religious text is Psalms 20:2–6.

Q. Does the Book of Mormon teach Racism?
A. The Book of Mormon deals with race. And why shouldn't it. Racism
and tribalism have been an issues that mankind has dealt with from the beginning of time. At the beginning of the Book of Mormon the family
of Lehi split up forming two nations: the Nephites and the Lamanites.
The wicked sons Laman and Lemuel reject God and are said to have been
cursed with a dark skin like Cain in the Old Testament.

In reality, if you read carefully, the skin is described as a mark the Nephites associate with the curse (Alma 3:6) and not the curse itself. The real curse of Laman and Lemuel is explained as "the great inequality of man because of sin" (Alma 28:13). Laman and Lemuel didn't just reject God and the religious tradition of their father Lehi, the Lamanites rejected all the civilizing practices of literacy, agriculture, and industry; instead reverting to an aboriginal hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Consequently, the children of Laman didn't have the same opportunity to read scripture, learn about the true
nature of God and choose God. They weren't taught to read. This was the curse.

The major message of the Book of Mormon is not just about the Lamanites digressing into a savage and superstitious lifestyle, but about how God, through the power and mercy of Christ, overcomes the curse. So, you see that the Lamanites at the beginning are described as being savage and bloodthirsty. In the middle, you see the same Lamanites taught to read, principles of agriculture, and free
enterprise. Only after this initial preparation, are the Lamanites prepared to receive missionaries and the scriptures. In the end, the Book of Mormon describes the Lamanites who embraced the truth as having a faith, zeal, and steadfastness towards God that exceeded that of the Nephites. The Book of Mormon teaches that no one is beyond the redeeming power and mercy of Jesus Christ. God in the Book of Mormon is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).

2 Ne 26:33 "and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile."

Q. What about the Book of Mormon discussion of money, wheeled carriages, swords, barley, horses, elephants, etc.
A. 1. Book of Mormon speaks of weights and measures of gold and silver and not "coinage" (Alma 11).
2. There are several examples of aboriginal American horse and elephant species that are now extinct. Many bones have been found in caves by researchers. The only problem is correctly dating the bones.
3. Some references in the Book of Mormon may be anachronisms in the
sense were an English word "barley" was used to describe a grain similar to barley but not the exact species H. vulgare.
4. In a few cases, artifacts have yet to be discovered to support the historicity of the Book of Mormon in a few areas. However, Absence of proof is not proof of absence.

Even though the Nephite civilization was relatively advanced, Archeologist haven’t yet discovered their exact location. This is partly due to the fact the Nephites were exterminated. The Nephites started off well, but became corrupted internally by allowing their
free republican/democratic style government and justice system to be
infiltrated and subverted by a secret organization of corrupt and wealthy elite (king-men). In the end, the Nephites were victims of a secret conspiracy of corruption and then genocide. The tragic pattern of the Nephites and earlier Jaredites serves as a warning to the Gentile nations today (Morm 9:31).

Q. The Bible has thousands of Archeological Artifacts proving it's
historicity. Why do we not have Artifacts to prove the Book of
Mormon? A. We can trace the steps of Lehi's family from Jerusalem through the Arabian Peninsula along the Red Sea and then east to the coasts in present-day Oman. The Book of Mormon descriptions of rivers,
oasis, trees, and iron ore in the Arabian Peninsula match up perfectly with known geologic and geographic knowledge. However, when it comes
to crossing the Ocean, we have yet to discover where the Nephite civilization arrived and flourished in the Americas. The Book of Mormon describes a limited geography where distances could be walked in a matter of days. Consequently, there are numerous candidate sites. Some are now under water.

Furthermore, having archeological proof of the Book of Mormon is not part of God's plan. No Bible artifact proves the resurrection nor the divinity of Christ. I don't know of any Bible artifact that proves a miracle. However, If the city of Zarahemela, for example, were discovered proving Christianized Jews lived in America just as the Book of Mormon says, then everything Joseph Smith taught is proven true.

Discovering Pre-Columbian Christianized Jews in America just as the Book of Mormon describes would be proving a miracle because the Book
of Mormon is itself a miracle. On the other hand, proving Isaiah, Peter, Paul or King David existed, doesn't prove that what they did or said is true. Proving that these great Prophets, Apostles, and Kings existed is very important but it doesn't prove a miracle.

Archeological Proof of the Book of Mormon is proving a miracle and would frustrates the central purpose of the Book of Mormon, which is for God to inspire man to trust again in His prophet and in personal revelation through the Holy Spirit. If we had artifacts and science alone we wouldn't need modern prophets or the Holy Spirit. The artifact would speak louder than the prophets and the "still small voice" of God's Spirit. Again, the purpose of the Book of Mormon is
to inspire reliance on our spiritual senses and not a reliance on science alone (Jer 17:5).

The Proof of the Book of Mormon we are given is to read it for ourselves, and according to God's "Law of Witnesses" (2Cor 13:1) consider the testimony of the 3 Witnesses (Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdary, David Witmer) who all beheld the angel Moroni, saw and touched the Golden Plates, and heard the voice of God declare that the
Book of Mormon was translated by God and not man. All 3 witnesses left the LDS Church, and 2 later returned. However, through it all, not one of the 3 witnesses ever denied their testimony of the Book of Mormon. David Whitmer, the lone witness who didn't return to membership in the LDS Church, requested his testimony be engraved on his tombstone.

Finally, after reading and pondering, the Book of Mormon invites us to specifically ask God the Eternal Father, praying in the name of Jesus Christ, if the Book of Mormon is true. God Himself has promised that, if we ask in faith, He will prove its truth to you by the power of His Holy Spirit. Asking with faith means we are willing to follow the answer no matter the consequences or inconvenience.

As a researcher, physician and scientist, I can tell you that I have performed the experiment exactly as described in the Book of Mormon,
and God has answered my prayer that the Book of Mormon is His Word. And God hasn't just answered on one occasion but continually answers and testifies to my heart and mind as I study the Book of Mormon that it is true. I know He will answer your sincere prayer as He has answered me.

Having faith is not "blind obedience" or "cognitive dissonance". Faith is about testing all of God's words to see if they are true and conducting your own "experiment upon the word" (Alma 32:27). However, in the initial stages of our experiment, Jesus Christ taught that only by first living His Doctrine will we discover for ourselves that it is
true (John 7:17). This reminds me of how I often tell my young children to taste the food on the plate before they decide whether they like it or not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi David,
I love read you!!!
Also o would like ask you if you have some information about dead sea scrolls ,few years ago i read something that is written there about a prophet called Joseph ....sorry my english iam still learning it

Thank you

Silvia (brasil_silvia@yahoo.com.br)