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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.