When Beliefs Collapse by Monte Wolverton Facing or Denying the Evidence All legitimate evidence is against the Book of Mormon. Mormons who are brave and honest enough THE PLAIN TRUTH NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY LIBRARY, EDWARD S. CURTIS' "The North American Indian" M any Christians are aware that the Mormon church teaches some unconventional (extra-biblical) things. Most non-Mormons who are aware of these ideas, particularly the odd ideas about the history of North America, dismiss them as quirky parts of a religion otherwise known for promoting family values and hardworking citizens. According to the Book of Mormon, Native Americans are Hebrews. Yes—you read correctly. American Indians are Israelites. Although your local Rabbi would be skeptical, millions of Mormons accept this as fact. More specifically, Native Americans are thought to be mostly descended from Lamanites, who, the book says, were descendants of the tribe of Manasseh who departed Jerusalem prior to its destruction by the Babylonians in the sixth century B.C. Yet, DNA research clearly proves that Native Americans are genetically from Asia. This confirms what archaeologists and anthropologists have long maintained—that Asian ancestors of Native Americans migrated across the Bering Strait. DNA testing has now confirmed this theory. DNA samples have been collected from thousands of individuals in hundreds of Native American tribes all over North and South America. The results show that 96.4% of Native American DNA originated in northeastern and north-central Asia. The remaining 3.6% are accounted for by post-Colonial intermarriage. When remains of pre-Columbian Native Americans were tested, their DNA showed a 100% Asian origin. There is simply no indication of Hebrew (or Middle Eastern) ancestry in the DNA of Native Americans, as the Book of Mormon claims. But DNA is only one item on a long list of evidence against the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon spins a tale of how Israelites came to the new world and details their civilization, wars and history in the new world. It does so naming specific places, describing weaponry and massive battles, locating cities, describing horses, elephants, livestock and even the type of crops that were allegedly raised by these new world settlers. However, archaeology (even archaeological studies sponsored by Brigham Young University) has never found credible evidence to confirm the reality of this fanciful story. Ruins of cities and other artifacts specified in the book are not there. Remains of weapons are not there. Remains of war horses and elephants are not there. Remains of warriors at alleged battle sites are not there. to entertain such questions have reacted in one of five ways: 1) They have chosen to ignore the scientific evidence, and chosen to accept the Book of Mormon on faith. Don’t Christians accept the Bible on faith? Yes—but the Bible, when properly interpreted, does not contradict history and science. The historical record of the Bible has been confirmed and corroborated many times over by archaeology, anthropology, linguistics and other branches of science. The Book of Mormon contradicts science and archaeology on nearly every page. If believers accept these contradictions, then they cannot trust physical evidence of any kind, and they make God out to be a trickster whose creation is deceptive. 2) They have allowed that the Lamanites were absorbed into other Native American people groups. Yet even this requires a denial of the Book of Mormon, which clearly asserts that Lamanites are the principal ancestors of Native The Book of Mormon spins a tale of how Israelites came to the new world and details their civilization, wars and history in the new world. DNA is only one item on a long list of evidence against the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Americans. And if the Lamanites had been absorbed into such groups, Israelite DNA would show up among Native Americans. 3) Some Mormon apologists have challenged DNA science, calling it unreliable and inconclusive. Others have offered “scientific” counter-arguments, but these are either irrelevant or easily refuted. As one might expect, Brigham Young University has been a major source of desperate attempts to invalidate, refute and discredit accepted and established DNA science. 4) They privately admit that there are flaws in their cherished belief system. But they reason that even though the Book of Mormon may be fictitious, the “fruits” of Mormonism are still a good thing. 5) Some brave Mormons have faced the inevitable. They have admitted that the Book of Mormon is wrong—and with it, their church, their faith and their whole religious and belief system. The last option is no easy process. The collapse of a cherished belief (let alone a whole system of beliefs) can be like a death in the family. The Five Stages of Accepting That One’s Belief System Is Dead Wrong In 1969 Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, who worked with terminally ill patients in Switzerland, wrote a book titled, On Death and Dying, in which she outlined a process that has since come to be known as the “Five Stages of Grief.” Denial — A refusal to believe or accept what has happened. Anger — Blaming others or oneself for the loss. Bargaining — Negotiating with God, or with oneself. Depression — List- Joseph Smith—LDS Prophet lessness, tiredness, a feeling of being punished. Acceptance—Realizing that life goes on, thereby allowing oneself to heal. Originally, these stages were not intended to describe the grieving process. Dr. Kubler-Ross had observed these stages in her terminally ill patients—not among their survivors. In her own words, they are “an attempt to summarize what we have learned from our dying patients in terms of coping mechanisms at the time of a terminal illness.” These were the stages that patients may go through upon learning that they were going to die. So, more accurately, they are “The Five Stages of Receiving Catastrophic News.” Some authorities caution, however, that these stages are not cut and dried. They point out that: • We don’t have to go through the stages in sequence. We can skip a stage or go through two or three simultaneously. • We can go through them in different time phases. Some individuals may take far longer to adjust than others. • The intensity and duration of the reaction depends on how significant the change-produced loss is perceived. • The final stage of “acceptance” does not represent full healing. It According to the Book of Mormon…American Indians are Israelites. Although your local Rabbi would be skeptical, millions of Mormons accept this as fact. 7 Some brave Mormons have faced the inevitable. They have admitted that the Book of Mormon is wrong—and with it, their church, their faith and their whole religious and belief system. …this is not merely an article about the Book of Mormon or DNA. It’s about one person’s journey from one specific dungeon of cultic deception into the freedom of Christ. represents the point at which real healing can begin. For our purposes, we might call Kubler-Ross’ stages “The Five Stages of Accepting That One’s Belief System Is Dead Wrong.” It is not possible for those who have spent years of their lives in cults and legalistic teaching, believing fantasies and fables, to leave the cult and change their belief system without some sort of adjustment— and/or serious pain. After all, such belief systems have become part of us — a part of our very identity. When the system is exposed as false or when we leave it behind, we can expect to encounter a time of loss The journey out of spiritual bondage is rarely if ever easy, no matter which brand of legalistic religion from which you may be escaping. and grieving, and that process will likely follow the phases described above. Coming to Grips With Cultic Deception—a Case Study William Wilson is an applied anthropologist now working as a senior systems support analyst at Northern Arizona University. Wilson joined the Mormon church (also known as the Latter Day Saints — LDS) at the age of nine. His parents believed that the church’s youth programs would be good for their children. The family was highly involved in the church throughout Wilson’s childhood. As a young man, he served a mission on the Navajo reservation. His wife joined the Mormonism in the 19th century This timeline highlights events in the life of LDS founder Joseph Smith and the Mormon church in the 1800s. It is not comprehensive, but is intended to help our readers gain a perspective on the origins of the Mormon church. 1823 1805 Joseph Smith born in Sharon, Vermont. One of 11 children. An imaginative child, Joseph entertains his family with tales of ancient New-World civilizations. 1816 Impoverished Smith family moves to Palmyra, New York. church after they met while Wilson was studying anthropology at Northern Arizona University, where he earned an M.A. in that discipline. Wilson’s studies in anthropology and archaeology raised questions in his mind about the Book of Mormon, but like many loyal members, he shelved those questions, fully believing that they would be resolved at some time in the future. Church leadership alluded to forthcoming proofs. Mormon apologists assured those inquisitive members that even if answers were not immediately clear, in the near future the book they regard as holy would be vindicated by science and archaeology. For some years, Wilson accepted such answers. Then in the 1990s Wilson’s father died, prompting him to do more reading on Mormonism from objective sources outside the LDS church. This led to fractures in his belief system, c.1818 1820 Smith begins to earn money by using a “seer stone” to locate hidden treasure and other lost or buried objects. Joseph Smith has a vision in which God the Father and Jesus tell him that all churches are false, and that he would recreate the true church. The angel Moroni appears to Joseph Smith, telling him about Golden Plates buried in a nearby hill. Smith is forbidden from taking the plates, but he shares the news with his family. 1826 Joseph Smith is convicted of disturbing the peace as a “glass looker,” in connection with his use of folk magic to find buried treasure. The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon causing him to think back to his unanswered archaeological and anthropological questions. About this time, emerging DNA science was also casting doubt on the assertions of the Book of Mormon. All the evidence came together to convince Wilson that “the Book of Mormon was a piece of 19th century religious fiction and not a true book of history or theology.” Initially, Wilson did not share his newfound insights with anyone—he only continued to examine the evidence. He recalls, “I dug in and studied extensively, reading books on archaeology, on the history of early Christianity, theology, etc. I devoured them, wanting to learn the truth…. When I got to the point where I could be honest with myself about the evidence against the Book of Mormon, it was a very quick process to realize that the book was fraudulent in its claims…. I believe that truth is truth and that God will not cover the truth or hide it from people. He has no need to lie about things natural. The earth and all that is here should be evidence for truth. If the Book of Mormon actually were a true document—that is, true in the sense of a historical document and also a true book of scripture—then it would not be at odds with science.” “At the point where I realized the Book of Mormon was not true, I also realized that the Mormon church could not be the true church of God on earth. And with my theological and religious studies I also concluded that no individual church or organization could claim that it was the one and only true church of God.” Now came the hard part. Wilson realized that the foundation of Mormonism was nothing more than an elaborate hoax. How would this affect his life? Could he keep the good things of LDS culture—the family, friendships and high moral and ethical standards— and discard the bad? Could he keep some semblance of stability—avoiding drastic and catastrophic life changes? The Book of Mormon claims to be “a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible.” But is there evidence to support this claim? The Bible stands as an accurate historical record, supported by archaology, history and other disciplines. Does the Book of Mormon stand up to the same tests? In this well-researched and graphically rich DVD, you will discover which of these books is worthy of your trust. DNA vs. The Book of Mormon The Book of Mormon dogmatically teaches that the ancient Israelites are the principal ancestors of modern-day Native Americans. But new discoveries in DNA research contradict that claim. In recent years, thousands of Native Americans from more than 150 tribes have been genetically tested to determine their ancestry. If Native Americans are not descended from Israelites as the Book of Mormon claims, then that book is untrue and unreliable. This DVD presents clear and compelling evidence from DNA researchers, including Mormon scientists. To place your order for video or DVD go to www.mormonchallenge.com Transcription by Joseph Smith of characters found on the Golden Plates 1830 1827 1828 Smith founds the “Church of Christ.” Smith moves to his father-in-law’s farm near Harmony, Pennsylvania, and begins translation of the plates. Smith translates by placing a “seer stone” in his hat, putting his face in the hat and dictating to a scribe. During translation, the Golden Plates are often elsewhere. Smith’s scribe and benefactor, Martin Harris, loses the translated manuscript. Smith becomes dejected and joins the Methodist church for a while. Moroni allegedly takes back the plates, but later gives them back and Smith continues translation. 1827 Joseph Smith uncovers Gold Plates of the Book of Mormon from a hill near his family’s farm. He is to translate them, but forbidden from showing them to anyone but a select few. Accordingly, they remain covered or in a box. Smith marries. 1829 1831 Smith completes translation of the Book of Mormon. The Golden Plates are returned to the angel Moroni. Smith copyrights and publishes the book. Smith moves with his family to Kirtland, Ohio and establishes church headquarters there. The Book of Abraham The Kinderhook Plates In 1835, Joseph Smith acquired four Egyptian mummies, along with papyrus scrolls. He determined that these scrolls contained, among other things, the writings of the biblical patriarchs Abraham and Joseph. Smith “translated” other portions of these documents and published them in 1842. Later, the “translations” were included in the Pearl of Great Price, a part of Mormon scripture. They contain some of the more distinctive and bizarre teachings of Mormonism. Smith never completed his “translation” of the scrolls. In 1967, these same scrolls were discovered in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Egyptologists determined it was a standard funerary scroll from the time of Christ, and had nothing to do with Abraham or anything Smith had “translated.” Mormon apologists have yet to offer an acceptable explanation. Burning in the Bosom How do Mormons determine truth? According to this instruction from the Mormon Doctrines and Covenants, if a person prays and asks if something is true, God will create a “burning in the bosom” if it is true. Some interpret this to mean simply a strong conviction brought about by the Holy Spirit. In this way, Mormon faith can defy facts, history or rational thought. The internal conflict took its toll on Wilson. “The struggle came close to killing me. The stress of this whole situation made me very ill and I am still suffering from its affects. I also was afraid that I would lose my family, and that hurt. My parents taught me to be an ethical individual and to be moral in my outlook on life. With my upbringing, I knew in some outward In 1843, a group of men created six small brass plates and buried them in an Indian mound near Kinderhook, Illinois, near Nauvoo, where the Mormons were headquartered at the time. The men staged an “unearthing,” making sure that a Mormon was present, who took the plates to Joseph Smith. Smith declared they were indeed ancient, and contained information about the biblical patriarch Ham. Smith’s personal secretary claimed that Smith started translation of the plates, but no translation was published. For decades the LDS church affirmed the authenticity of the plates. Presumed lost, some of the plates surfaced in the 20th century; metallurgical tests determined that they were forged in the 19th century. The LDS church now admits the plates were a hoax. They also protest when this story is used to discredit Joseph Smith and the Mormon church. sense that I could not support the Mormon church because of the lies that it takes part in, with regard to history etc. So I prepared myself for the worst…. And at one point I considered just ending it all.” Finally, the time came when Wilson decided to make his objections known to Mormon leadership. He chose not to start at the local level, or even with other laypersons. “I sent a letter to the Mormon First Presidency which made its way back down to the local [LDS] leadership. During this time I started talking to a non-Mormon friend about all I had found out, which helped me maintain my sanity. The local leadership attempted to use spiritual blackmail on me to keep me in [the LDS church] but I would not have anything to do with that tactic. After their attempt to browbeat me, I cut off contact with the church.” In 2005 Wilson was contacted by Living Hope Ministries and invited to take part in a video documentary they were producing, titled The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon. Wilson is one of several experts in the film who offers evidence of the falsehood of the Book of Mormon. The DVD was released that same year (see advertisement on page 23). Not long after ward, Wilson relates, “…the Stake President contacted me [in LDS governance, a stake is a geographical division made of wards and branches]…. I was given the option by the Stake President either to resign from the church or to be excommunicated for apostasy. I talked to my wife about it and she asked me if I really needed the stress or if our family needed the stress of going through an excommunication. I thought about it and the answer was no. So in January 1842 Mormons Driven From Missouri 1833 1838 1839 Smith takes his first plural wife. His wives will eventually total at least 28. He lies about it, denying his polygamy up until his death. Other Mormon leaders follow his example. Smith leaves Kirtland, under allegations of financial improprieties. Smith had received a “revelation” that western Missouri would be the place to await the Second Coming— that a temple should be built in Independence. Smith moves to Far West, Missouri. Residents of Missouri violently oppose Mormon influx. Smith and other leaders are jailed for several months, after which they move to Nauvoo, Illinois. Smith visits President Van Buren to petition for redress for persecution and loss of property. Smith becomes a Freemason. He adapts portions of Masonic initiation ritual to be used in the 1840 Mormon Temple Endowment Construction on ceremony. About this time, new Temple Smith begins to teach baptism begins in Nauvoo. for the dead and polygamy, although he and other leaders had already begun to practice polygamy. Nauvoo Temple Joseph Smith Murdered by Mob in Illinois 1844 Smith announces his candidacy for President of the United States. Former Mormons publish a newspaper critical of Smith. Smith, as mayor of Nauvoo, orders the paper and presses destroyed. belief system. You may be far down the road, confronting objections and arguments — perhaps even being “shunned” by family and friends. Or your journey may be nearly complete. Others have not yet started the journey. They are anxiously avoiding what they know they need to do—to respond to Jesus’ invitation to freedom. Wherever you are, Plain Truth Ministries wants to assure you that the journey and its hardships are well worth it. We are here to help you with resources, support and the personal stories of others who have made the journey successfully. We also offer help for those with friends and loved ones who are trapped in legalistic religion. Why not take the first step today? Visit our First Aid for Legalists web page www.ptm.org/ legalism. And while you’re visiting ptm.org be sure and listen to Greg Albrecht and Monte Wolverton talk with Scott Johnson of Living Hope Ministries Mormon Pioneers Crossing the Plains of Nebraska at www.ptm.org/ Johnson. ❑ 2006 we resigned from the Mormon church as a family.” As we look back on Wilson’s story, we can see the “Five Stages of Grief ” in action. When he initially saw the evidence, he denied it. When he could no longer deny the evidence, his anger at the church drove him to further study and research. When the full realization of the problems hit him, he bargained to keep his life and friends the way they were. The internal conflict resulted in illness and depression. Finally, he accepted the fact that he could no longer be a part of such a flawed belief system. But this is not merely an article about the Book of Mormon or DNA. It’s about one person’s journey from one specific dungeon of cultic deception into the freedom of Christ. The journey out of spiritual bondage is rarely if ever easy, no matter which brand of legalistic religion from which you may be escaping. Many reading this article find themselves on such a journey. You may be at the beginning, with nagging doubts about your ONLINE INTERVIEW AT PTM.ORG www.ptm.org/johnson Learn more about Mormonism by joining Greg Albrecht and Monte Wolverton as they talk with Scott Johnson of Living Hope Ministries. If you are interested in studying Mormonism in greater depth, these books, available through Amazon.com or your local bookstore, may be of help. How to talk to a Mormon—The “Milk” and “Meat” of Mormonism. Ed Bliss, 2006. A former Mormon presents a critical analysis of the Mormon faith, set in the form of a fair dialog between a Mormon and non-Mormon. Mormonism 101— Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, 2000. This point-by point book compares the main tenets of Mormon theology to those of orthodox Christianity, refuting the recent LDS claim that Mormonism is the same as Christianity. 1890 1844 1846 1850 Non-Mormon citizens accuse Smith of violating freedom of the press. Smith is arrested and later murdered by a mob of angry citizens. After a bitter political controversy and departure of several splinter groups, Brigham Young takes charge of the church. Mormons depart from Nauvoo, led by Brigham Young, settling in Utah, at that time outside the U.S. borders. Utah is designated a territory of the United States. Brigham Young is named first governor in 1851. Brigham Young, second LDS prophet and president Mormon State of Deseret 1849–51 1857-58 1877 U.S. government wrests control of Utah from the Mormons in the Utah War. A non-Mormon is appointed governor. Death of Brigham Young. Mormon Handcart Pioneers Mormon church revokes polygamy, following years of legislation against the practice by the U.S. government. Church unofficially continues to sanction polygamy until 1910.