This video discusses all of the main theories critics try and point to for alternative ways the Book of Mormon could be produced and how these arguments fall apart when the details are explored.
NOTE: Solomon Spalding has an alternate acceptable spelling of Spaulding. In the video I tried to use the spelling in the source being used.
So in this video I’m going to address different theories of how the Book of Mormon was created. I just did an evidences video on how the miracle that was the actual translation by Joseph Smith of the Book of Mormon, and it’s really the ending of this video.
And there’s a fascinating study, I’m going to refer at the end of the video, a longitudinal study since 1830 of what critics have said, different theories. And it’s a fascinating study that Brian Hales just published in BYU Studies, and I did some of my own stats on his work just to show some fascinating insights there numerically.
So let’s first talk about the first theory is collaboration. Other people helping Joseph, and the two of course, Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon. So let’s talk about Oliver Cowdery first. Look at this. This is actually from… Now, let me just mention this book.
I mentioned this in the Evidences video, but A Case for the Book of Mormon from Tad Callister. Phenomenal book, highly recommended, just came out in 2019. Now he says this about Oliver, “If Oliver wrote the Book of Mormon, why would there be an account of the unsuccessful attempt at translation? Why the testimonies of David Whitmer and Joseph’s wife Emma, that they were present during a portion of the translation process and saw Oliver acting as Joseph’s scribe?”
“Oliver was one of the three witnesses who bore testimony that an angel of God came down from heaven. The two other witnesses made it clear that Oliver was a fellow witness with them, not the author of the book. If Oliver wrote the Book of Mormon, then one must ask, what was his motive? He received no fame, no money, no lasting power for writing the book and for remaining silent about his true authorship.”
In fact, eight years after the Book of Mormon was published, Oliver was excommunicated from the Church. If there was ever a time to expose Joseph Smith as a fraud, that was it- his chance to get even and to declare who the true author was, but none of that happened. To the contrary, even though it was some years before Oliver returned to the Church, he always remained true to his testimony.”
And remember he came onto the scene also after the Book of Mormon, the lost 116 pages, there had been three other scribes prior to this that had translated that book of Lehi there before Oliver even came onto the scene. Also, he was a basic school teacher, so he probably… In one sense a lot of critics will actually reject this simply because he didn’t have the skill set anyway. Now they do point to Sidney Rigdon though as having the skill set.
In fact, he, if you think about it, he helped co-found with Alexander Campbell, the Campbellite religion. So he was a Protestant minister. He was an order, a fantastic order. He was a theologian. He would be who you would imagine would be a collaborator. The only problem is, ironically, he was converted by the very book that supposedly he wrote through this theory.
So kind of a strange thing, and if you remember how he got the Book of Mormon was from Parley P. Pratt who was on his mission to Missouri, to the Lamanites as he was called to go there, and they stopped in at Kirtland and gave the Book of Mormon to Sidney Rigdon, which led to a big part of his congregation coming into the Church. But it is interesting to see some of these quotes. This is high corroborating evidence to show Sidney couldn’t have been a collaborator.
Look at Parley P. Pratt, he said, “He was much surprised and it was with much persuasion and argument that he was prevailed on to read it. And after he had read it, he had great struggle of mind before he fully believed and embraced it.” Listen to his daughter, the first reaction to the book, this is Nancy Rigdon Ellis, “I saw them [Parley and Oliver] hand my father the book, and I am as positive as can be that he never saw it before. He read it and examined it for about an hour and then threw it down and said he did not believe a word in it.”
Obviously he changed over the struggle. And then his son, this is fascinating, John Rigdon interviewing him close to his death and John ended up joining the church. Interesting. But he quoted this, he said, “Is it true? If so, all right. If it is not, you owe it to me and to your family to tell it. You’re an old man and you will soon pass away and I wish to know if Joseph Smith in your intimacy with him for 14 years has not said something to you that led you to believe he obtained the book in some other way than without which he has told you. Give me all you know about it, that I may know the truth.”
“My father looked at me a moment and raised his hand above his head and slowly said with tears glistening in his eyes, ‘My son. I can swear before high heaven that what I have told you about the origin of that book is true. Your mother and sister, Mrs. Obega Robinson, were present when that book was handed to me in Mentor, Ohio, and all I ever knew about the origin of that book was that Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith and the witnesses who claim they saw the plates have told me.'”
Emma Smith, she said, “No acquaintance was formed between Sidney Rigdon and the Smith family till after the Church was organized.” And this kind of material has led, for example, a skeptical author like Earl Wunderli to proclaim, “There’s apparently no evidence that Joseph Smith conspired with anyone else to write the book.” Now let’s talk about the next topic, which is the plagiarism of the Book of Mormon, and the first big one is the Spalding manuscript.
And I wanted to hit Sidney Rigdon here because it’s tied to Sidney Rigdon. If Sidney wasn’t introduced to the Church until after the Book of Mormon was published, there is no Spalding theory. It has to collapse on the face of it. But let’s first just I want to mention, because I’m going to bring up these three books, the Spalding Manuscript, View of the Hebrews, and The Late War. These are the three that are often used by critics. They are sources for the Book of Mormon potentially, but here’ a couple of quotes at the outset to show how this category is going to flop.
So Louis Midgley said, “Critics of the Book of Mormon now seem forced to follow the agenda set out by Fawn Brodie,” she was one of the early anti’s, “They must locate 19th century sources for all its content. And they must explain how Joseph Smith was able to locate, digest, winnow, and then fashion these materials into a coherent form.” Now look, I love the way Tad Callister wrote in his book some questions that we need to ask.
“Is there any concrete historical evidence proving that Joseph read any of these books before the Book of Mormon was translated, and that such books provided resource information for the Book of Mormon? No. Did Emma Smith, who was married to him, ever commented or refer to any of these books before the Book of Mormon was translated? No. Is there a single reference, just one, in Joseph’s journals or letters suggesting he might have read or had conversations concerning any of these historical sources before translating the Book of Mormon? No.”
“Is there any evidence that Joseph visited the libraries where these books may have been located? No. Are there any independent sources who claim that Joseph discussed any of these books at any time with them before the Book of Mormon was translated? No. Is there any record that Joseph had any of these books or related notes present when he translated the Book of Mormon? No.”
And that’s the one for me that’s just stunning just to think of there. No evidence, and we have multiple witnesses, friendly and unfriendly in a sense, that have stated, no, he did not have any of this documentation. And then Callister concludes, “Does anyone honestly expect us to believe that Joseph Smith, an unlearned young man of 23 years of age, searched out and studied all these resources on Native American life, inhaled the related conversations on the topic, ferreted out the irrelevant, organized the remainder into an intricate story involving hundreds of characters, numerous locations, detailed war strategies, and doctrinal gems, and then dictated it with a perfect recollection without any notes whatsoever?”
“No outline, no manuscript, nothing, a fact acknowledged even among Joseph’s critics. And during the entire translation process no one remembers Joseph going to the libraries, bringing any such books home or having any conversations concerning this research. Where, we might ask, is the corroborating evidence? It is nowhere to be found.”
Now a quote from David Whitmer, as we talk about the Spalding theory just at the outset here. And I want to just dwell on this Spalding theory a little bit because it’s still, in fact in Brian Hales’ study, I counted it up in the last dozen years, there are still seven authors pointing to the Spalding theory, even today, as the source for the Book of Mormon. So now here he says, “He [David Whitmer] states that Elder Sidney Rigdon was not known to the Elders of the Church until long after the Book of Mormon was issued, and that of his knowledge, Elder Rigdon had nothing to do with the manuscript of the Book of Mormon; that he [David Whitmer] was familiar with Joseph Smith, the methods of translation, and the circumstances connected with it in the publishing of the book, and from this acquaintance knows that the Spalding manuscript story is false and without a shadow of truth in it.”
Now, this really flared up. Now Solomon Spalding wrote a manuscript in 1812. He was a minister, he wrote this book. Essentially it was a romance novel in a sense, but he wrote this book and we now know that he didn’t finish it, but he sent it to a publisher. And that might have been why they didn’t publish it, but in 1816 he passed away. It was never published. Then what ended up happening, it was part of the first real big anti book that came out in 1834 from E.D. Howe, called Mormonism Unveiled, and he used… They even purchased the manuscript, they did not publish it, but here’s where things got kind of crazy.
I’m going to share this right from the Church website, Gospel Topics on the Spalding manuscript. If you look here in this paragraph, it says, “In 1833 a committee of Ohio residents hired Philastus Hurlbut …”, his actual physical first name was Doctor, ” … who had been excommunicated from the Church for immorality …”, while on a mission actually, ” … to collect information about Joseph Smith and the origins of the Book of Mormon. They hoped to convince their neighbors that Joseph had deceived the poor into following him. As part of his task, Hurlbut spoke with several people from Ohio who claimed to have seen the Spalding manuscript. These people signed affidavits asserting that the Book of Mormon was based on Spalding’s story.” They claimed same names and places there.
So the challenge was, “In spite of these claims, neither Hurlbut nor other critics of the Church published the Spalding manuscript at that time, even though it was in their possession. Eventually the manuscript was lost, and in 1884, a man named L.L. Rice found the manuscript among some papers he purchased and he turned it over to Oberlin College in Ohio. Rice and James H. Fairchild, president of Oberlin College, examined the manuscript. Neither man was a member of the Church, and both certified the manuscript could not have been the source of the Book of Mormon. The Church published Spalding’s work in 1886.”
One of the things that they found was the manuscript, like I said, wasn’t finished. It was only about 50,000 words, less than 20% of the size of the Book of Mormon, and it didn’t have any of these names that had been supposedly claimed to have been in the Book of Mormon and the Spalding manuscript. So these affidavits became very suspicious. In fact, here’s, even the critic Fawn Brodie says this about it, “It can clearly be seen that the affidavits were written by Hurlbut, since the style is the same throughout. It may be noted also that although five of the eight had heard Spalding’s story only once, there was a surprising uniformity in the details they remembered after 22 years. The very tightness with which Hurlbut here was implementing his theory rouses an immediate suspicion that he did a little judicious prompting.”
So even the writing itself was supposed to have been in King James type verbiage, it wasn’t. On the Gospel Topics it does say, “Similarities between his manuscript and the Book of Mormon are general and superficial. Spalding’s fiction is about a group of Romans blown off course on a journey to Britain who arrive instead in America. One of the Romans narrates the adventures of the group and the history and culture of the people they find in America. A major portion of the manuscript describes two nations near the Ohio river after a long era of peace. A prince of one nation elopes with a princess of the other nation and results in a great war between the two nations and the loss of much life, but the ultimate vindication of the prince and his princess.”
Sounds just like the Book of Mormon, right?. So a couple of other things here. Richard Van Wagoner said, “No credible historical documentation has been found showing that Sidney Rigdon was even an acquaintance of Spalding or knew of, [it was called] ‘Manuscript Found’, prior to Howe’s book in 1834 making the allegation. Also strong documentation demonstrates that Rigdon’s conversion to the Church was a direct result of his reading the already published Book of Mormon,” which I shared just previously.
That’s why it just falls apart. Now, I love what John A. Widtsoe wrote about this. This is really some great stuff here. He says, “Unfortunately for the Rigdon-Spalding theory, the manuscript of the Spalding story was discovered in 1884 among the possessions of Mr. L.L. Rice of Honolulu, who had secured Spalding’s literary remains when he purchased the printing effects of E.D. Howe.” That was the 1834 book, Mormonism Unveiled. “The discovered Spalding story has since been published in two editions. It bears no resemblance in language, style, names, or subject matter to the Book of Mormon,” against, remember the affidavits.
“In utter despair, the enemies of the Church fled for cover. A few proceeded to set up another theory, that Spalding had written more than one story and that the one found was not that the one that resembled the Book of Mormon. However, the discovered Spalding manuscript was identified with the one set up in the book Mormonism Unveiled. The names of the people who thought that the Spalding story, as read by them many years before, and the Book of Mormon story were similar were found endorsed on the discovered manuscript as those who knew it in Spalding’s day. This was destructive of the theory that the Howe book had used another manuscript than that found in Honolulu.”
Now here’s a side note from church scholar, Matt Roper. “Claims that Spalding wrote a second manuscript is easily discredited by the fact also that the published manuscript clearly shows that it was not finished even after Spalding moved away from many of the people who claimed to have heard him read from the later story.” So is he going to write a second one not even finishing the first one in other words? “The Spalding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon has been thoroughly demolished. Anyone who teaches the theory today betrays deliberate dishonesty or pitiful lack of knowledge concerning the whole matter.”
And just for some comedy relief, I got to just share this. This is crazy. One of those promoting the second manuscript theory is William Whitsitt, who wrote this book on this. And this is an actual paragraph from the book, I’m not kidding you, where he’s even hypothesizing that Sidney Rigdon could have acted as the angel Moroni to the three witnesses, and the manuscript could have been the gold plates. Listen to this. “It is suspected that Mr. Rigdon was somewhere present in the undergrowth of the forest where the little company were assembled … ” these are the witnesses, “… and being in plain hearing of their devotions, he could easily step forward at a signal from Joseph and exhibit several of the most faded leaves of the manuscript, which from having been kept a series of years since the death of Spalding, would assume the yellow appearance that is well known in such circumstances. At a distance, from the station in which they occupied the writing on these yellow sheets of paper would also appear to their excited imagination in the light of engravings.”
“Sidney was likewise very well equal to the task of uttering the assurances, which Smith affirms the angel was kind enough to supply concerning the genuineness of the plates and the correctness of the translation.” Just for some comedy relief. Then lastly, I’ve just got to share, this is crazy to think of, I’m going to share quotes from critics rejecting the Spalding theory. That’s why it’s crazy that people are still bringing this up. Four quick ones. Davis Bay says, “This theory is a erroneous and it will lead to almost certain defeat. The facts are all opposed to this view and the defenders of the Mormon dogma have the facts well in hand. The Spalding story is a failure. Do not attempt to rely upon it. It will let you down.”
Fawn Brodie says, “The tenuous chain of evidence accumulated to support the Spalding-Rigdon theory breaks altogether when it tries to prove that Rigdon met Joseph Smith before 1830.” We know that. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, “We do have the original Spalding manuscript and the Book of Mormon, which do not appear to have enough in common to insist that latter came from the former.” And Edward Plowman, “One might ask the question, if Mormonism’s most prominent critics find the Spalding theory unworkable, then what motivates those who tenuously hold to this theory and continue to pursue it? Those that continue to promote this theory have not effectively dealt with the major objections highlighted by other anti-Mormon critics.”
And I will tell you, I just listened to, there is a famous anti on YouTube that literally just talked about this and then I’m going to talk about View of the Hebrews, and she said that the name Mormon is in there, the named Moroni is in there, talks about Nephites and Lamanites in this book and View of the Hebrews. It’s just stunning. This absolute fabrication and it needs to be fact checked dramatically. But I’m just telling you, this is still being shared by different people and people don’t really realize how weak these arguments are.
So let’s talk about View of the Hebrews. So this was a book written by Ethan Smith in 1823 and it’s really to show how the Native Americans were the lost 10 tribes of Israel. That’s really what his book was about essentially. And the critics love to hammer the fact that he was from the same town that Oliver Cowdery was from and he was a pastor in the Church. There was really not a tie to the timing of when he was the pastor versus the records that we have of Cowdery’s family in the Church.
But anyway, that’s the tie that people will often use to try and highlight this one there. Now this is one, so the Spalding manuscript is used more to say this is maybe it was a pure copy of something, where the View of Hebrews is more thematic. But you have to say, how did Joseph still come up with all the words, even if he had a few ideas coming from this, and some parallels? And even parallels that are there in the books are often very different even though they’re stated as parallels. For example, the great law giver is Moses in the View of Hebrews, it’s Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon.
The destruction of Jerusalem is talked about. In the View of the Hebrews, they’re actually talking about the destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D. The Book of Mormon is talking about by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. So it’s things like that as some examples, and there are things that Joseph could have used that were very unique, that Ethan Smith tried to show things of ties with the Hebrews essentially of Native Americans that Joseph didn’t use at all. And all of these have been shown to actually have been false, but Joseph didn’t use any of them, and those were very unique things that Joseph didn’t… There was nothing in there. So it’s interesting.
Now, Tad Callister in his book, he shared this on View of the Hebrews, “There is a simple test to determine if the Book of Mormon was copied from or relied heavily upon the View of the Hebrews- simply compare the two books and decide for yourself.” And in fact, BYU Studies published this in 1996 by the way. “B.H. Roberts, one of the leading scholars of the Church, did so in the early 1920s. His desire was to inform the First Presidency of arguments that critics might make against the Book of Mormon. In this pursuit, he listed 26 possible parallels between the two books. Critics have used these parallels to argue there must be a connection between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon.”
Hugh Nibley however exposed the fallacy of the argument that if two books have parallel themes, one must have been used to create the other. He found 35 parallels between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Book of Mormon. In fact, he referred to them as perfectly staggering parallels. Nonetheless, the Book of Mormon could not have been plagiarized from or influenced by the Dead Sea Scrolls, because they were not discovered until more than a century after the Book of Mormon was published. Then what accounts for the parallels? They exist because both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Book of Mormon are records that refer to some similar historical and religious events, and thus common themes appear in the respective texts. So it is with the View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon. There are some parallels because on occasion these two books are referring to similar historical and religious events, but there is no proven connection of any reliance by one upon the other. In fact shortly before his death, B.H. Roberts declared, ‘Ethan Smith, the man who wrote View of the Hebrews, played no part in the formation of the book of Mormon.'”
And I love what Tad Callister… Look at this page here on some of the comparisons here, the objectives and writing styles are very different. And the Book of Mormon focuses to testify of Jesus Christ, declare His doctrine and explain how we can return to Him and be saved. Written by prophets of God. The historical setting is not the focus, but the background. A cohesive narrative, a story of families and prophets who sought and struggled to live God’s word.
View of the Hebrews, on the other hand, focuses to historically connect the Native Americans to the lost 10 tribes via archeology, legend, and recorded histories, to reference their prophesied gathering in the latter days. A series of independent quotes and examples meant to prove this theory. “Perhaps the above are some of the reasons that none of Joseph Smith’s contemporaries ever advanced the argument that View of the Hebrews was source material for the Book of Mormon.”
“Those who lived at the time when the View of the Hebrews was in prime circulation never argued there was a connection between the two books. Why? Because there was no obvious connection to be made. In fact, this argument was not first made until 72 years after the Book of Mormon was published. If the connection was so obvious, why did it take critics, many who were eagerly hunting for arguments, to expose the Book of Mormon as man made seven decades to discover it?”
“Additionally, in 1842 The Times and Season, under the editorship of Joseph Smith, referred to the View of the Hebrews with seeming enthusiasm that it contains some historical information that might help confirm the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. If Joseph copied from or relied upon View of the Hebrews, why would he publicly call attention to it?” I love that and then I love what Stephen Ricks said here, let me share this, on the 72 years thing, “Beyond these unparallels, there is further question that must be answered by proponents of the View of the Hebrews hypothesis.”
“Why do none of the early critics of the Book of Mormon mention Ethan Smith in their attacks on it? If the parallels are so evident, why weren’t they noticed by individuals who were not only acquainted with Ethan Smith’s book, but were also essentially interested in its claims? Why wasn’t it prominently mentioned as a source of the Book of Mormon until the beginning of the 20th century, when the book itself had only an antiquarian interest and its contents were no longer so widely apart of popular discussion? My suspicion …”, I love this, ” … is that what appear today to be distinctives of the View of the Hebrews, eschatological and otherwise, seemed less so in the early part of the 19th century when these ideas flowed freely in published and unpublished forms.”
So I think that’s very interesting. Also remember the Lord speaks to us in our language, in our understanding. This is part of what I’m going to talk about with The Late War as well. Let’s talk about The Late War. Now this is the last of the plagiarism category. Essentially, this was written in 1816 by Gilbert Hunt and it was to talk about the War of 1812. It’s called The Late War between the U.S. and Great Britain is the formal title. They usually just call it The Late War. It was written in … it was supposed to be like an educational book written in King James biblical language and there are lots of battles.
So you think about that, it’s definitely going to have some phraseology that would probably end up being somewhat similar at times to the Book of Mormon just simply because of that. Now, first of all, critics will just point to this and say, “Joseph obviously read this as part of his school curriculum.” Well, not so fast. This is interesting. Ben McGuire researched this and published this in Interpreter.
He says, “The author appears to have marketed the book to booksellers (and not to schools) in an attempt to get this volume into the public view. There is no indication that it was ever actually used in a school as a school text. This is further suggested by the fact that after his wild marketing scheme ended in 1819, the book was never republished or even reprinted. A great deal of inappropriate emphasis is placed on the book’s own description of its purpose as a way of suggesting that it be used and this potential connection to Joseph– that he likely encountered it in school as a textbook used in the 1820s.”
Look at these statistics. This is stunning. So this is again Ben McGuire, and he says here, “There are 549 shared four word combinations in both texts. This means that of all the possible phrases found in The Late War, only 1.07% of them make it into the Book of Mormon. And within the Book of Mormon, of the potential 200,000 plus unique phrases, only 0.27% can be derived from The Late War. This is not a high number. This ratio drops substantially when we back out the 75 parallels taken from the copyright application,” which is generic and the same for both.
And then you can see the numbers drop down there without adjustment. And by the way, this excludes the King James, the Bible, things that can be tied to the Bible, which would increase it by about 2% or so. So here’s what I say, is where did Joseph come up with the other 97% on there? So it really is interesting. Now I’m going to tell you two things that critics often say, these are the smoking guns here. And I’m not going to go through detail on this, I’m going to let you pause the screen if you want. But Jeff Lindsay, the scholar, has done a fantastic job on his blog.
I’ll link to these, but here are the two terms that are often brought up: “stripling” like the stripling warriors and “curious workmanship”. So the stripling warriors, it actually uses the word stripling, not stripling warrior. And then it’s talking about one person. And then if you were to look in another part of the book, it talks about 2,000 soldiers, but it also talks about lots of round number soldiers like you often see, even in the Bible, descriptions of round numbers of soldiers.
So critics will link this and say, “Oh, stripling,” and then, “Oh, 2,000. Here’s where Joseph got this.” No, not so fast. And even the term “stripling warrior”, that’s not there. It’s “stripling”. But “stripling warrior” actually was used back in Joseph’s day at different times. In fact, you can go and find, for example, there’s one here that he listed, Jerusalem delivered a heroic poem, the term “stripling warrior”. And then here’s one better. Lewis and Clark used it, the explorers, they used the term “stripling warrior”. So some examples there. I’ll put this up, you can see it.
Curious workmanship. This one please pause to read it. But the term “curious workmanship”, we don’t use that kind of terminology today, but it is in The Late War and it’s in the Book of Mormon. So Joseph must’ve got it there, right? Well, if you go to forgottenbooks.org, you can actually go back to Joseph’s day and find that 1% of books actually had this term in it. Some of the years it was even 4%, as high as 4. And so then they even talk about this ball that was actually a torpedo, and he goes on and explains how this torpedo is there. It’s just crazy that somehow, because the word curious works is associated with this torpedo that was talked about with a ball, the way the torpedo works. So that’s somehow how Joseph got the Liahona here.
So I’ll let you pause to read the full thing if you’d like on this. So just ridiculous to make that jump there. The last thing, Jeff Lindsay then goes on to talk about the plagiarism. Shouldn’t it make it easier? If you look at this example here of the torpedo with the Liahona, it’s making it harder. That’s the point he’s making. Remember Joseph also doesn’t have any material with him as he’s doing this. So again, pause if you want to read this about how this is making the job even harder if Joseph was plagiarizing.
Now the last two topics, mental illness here. So I’ll just speed through these last two categories. Mental illness, so Brian Hales in his BYU Studies article, he says, “Several authors have speculated that Joseph Smith’s supposed supernatural experiences and his ability to dictate the Book of Mormon can be explained by mental illness. Proposed illness include paranoia, dementia, parapathy, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, disassociation and narcissistic personality disorder.”
Three problems. “One, none of these theories is widely accepted, because the diagnosis do not concur either with the historical record or with current psychological research. Two, the appeal of these theories is also tempered by the inherent futility of diagnosing any historical figure based strictly on available documentation.” You know, of a dead person. “Three, mental illness generally diminishes a patient’s capacity to consistently perform complex cognitive operations. In summary, though some conditions could enhance a person’s native abilities by diminishing feelings of stress related to reality testing or by manically energizing their system, such disorders could not bestow the individual with capabilities he or she did not already have.”
“Additionally evidences that Joseph Smith manifested a psychiatric pathology while dictating the Book of Mormon are absent from the historical record.” And then Tad Callister in his book on the section of mental illness, he says, “There is no credible evidence that Joseph had any form of mental disorder. Two, there is no substantiating evidence that such physical or mental conditions magically bestow upon an untrained writer such as Joseph Smith, the ability to instantly become a skilled writer. And three, the book is not characteristic of the mentally ill.”
I love this, “Rather it is positive and optimistic in its tone. It expresses love for God, is filled with hope, and it’s consistent in these themes.” Even the critic Fawn Brodie said this, “Critics who insist that Joseph Smith suffered from delusions have ignored in the Book of Mormon contrary evidence difficult to override. It’s very coherence belies their claims. Its structure shows elaborate design, it’s narrative is spun coherently, and it demonstrates throughout a unity of purpose.”
The last one is automatic writing and I’ll link to an article that Brian Hales did in Dialogue, a 34, 35 page article. Very fascinating, but automatic writing is like hypnosis. That’s kind of a natural way of seeing this, and tapping into the subconscious mind to write something, to bring it out of your subconscious mind or a supernatural way, like a Ouija board or a spirit medium somehow.
That’s got to be rejected though by those that are looking for a naturalistic thing. Remember there’s needs to be understandable and repeatable and not have any supernatural influence. But look at this page here. I’m not going to… I just wanted you to see the number of studies done that Brian Hales puts this in his research. He says, “Multiple psychological studies demonstrating the unconscious mind lacks the ability to systematize memory elements to perform complex cognitive functions.” Then if you look at this page, this is his conclusion of the 34, 35 page essay in Dialogue in 2019.
And it says here, “Grouping the Book of Mormon with automatic writing provides no answer to the question, ‘Where did all the words come from?’ Secularists will understandably reject Joseph Smith’s revelations describing different types of supernatural forces influencing both the creation of the Book of Mormon and automatic writings. Even as psychological explanations attribute the words to the subconscious mind of the authors, prospective experiments demonstrating this to be a possibility have yet to be performed. Neither have assumptions entering a trance state could enhance the natural compositional abilities of the authors been proven.”
“Indeed available scientific studies appear to demonstrate the opposite,” that abilities are actually negatively affected. “These observations might explain the reason why, historically, automatic writing has never gained wide acceptance among naturalistic theories explicating the origin of the Book of Mormon. It appears that Joseph Smith’s intellectual qualifications in 1829, the complexity of the Book of Mormon, the difficulties of creative dictation, and the inherent cognitive limitations of an unconscious state failed to coalesce into a plausible explanation of how he generated all the words.”
Now in conclusion, this was the study that he did, and he actually shows this at the FairMormon Conference in 2019. I think you still have to buy the streaming option today to watch that. Eventually it’ll be released. So he goes, and this was a study over I think four years, he said, of developing this database of authors, 170 authors, and then he has these five categories: Solomon Spalding, collaborators, mental illness, automatic writing, and then Joseph’s intellect. And then he just goes through and he shows over time.
So it’s a longitudinal study. It’s fascinating. So you can see after Mormonism Unveiled published in 1834-ish, that’s when the Spalding just goes crazy. That is the dominant theory for decades until 1884 when it’s discovered and realized there aren’t the parallels there. And then it goes, they’re heavily focused on Joseph’s intellect. And that’s where I… Well, let me first show you the data. So I did this study, I added all the responses up. There were 205, there were 170 authors, but multiple authors had multiple categories they voted for essentially.
So if you look here, here’s the data, Solomon Spalding about 34%, and then collaborators 9%, mental illness 6%, automatic writing 7%, and then Joseph’s intellect was the winner, 44%. So then that is the Evidences video. That’s what I just did, is could Joseph have pulled this off with his intellect and to do it in the way that he did with creative dictation? Absolutely not. Watch this, one of the best Evidences video I think that I’ve done, just because the heart of the Restoration, this is the witness. So please go watch that Evidences video, as addressing the conclusion to this video. Thanks for watching and subscribe for more.
A Case For the Book of Mormon by Tad Callister
Brian Hales – BYU Studies article: Naturalistic Explanations of the Origin of the Book of Mormon – A Longitudinal Study: https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/na…
Brian Hales – Interpreter article: Curiously Unique: Joesph Smith as Author of the Book of Mormon https://journal.interpreterfoundation…
Brian Hales – Dialogue article on Automatic Writing and the Book of Mormon https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-co…
Jeff Lindsay’s articles on the Late War: https://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/la…
Ben McGuire’s article on the Late War in Interpreter: https://journal.interpreterfoundation…
John A. Widtsoe article on authorship of the Book of Mormon: http://bookofmormonfacts.com/book-of-…
Fairmormon – Authorship Theories of the Book of Mormon: https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Bo…
Tad Callister – BYU Devotional on the Book of Mormon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InVmv…
Latter-day Saints’ Q&A is a video series not produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but by me, an ordinary member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an independent voice, with a passion for studying Church history and defending the faith. In this series, I provide evidences for the restoration, and address tough questions posed by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offering faithful answers based on accurate research and historical references which will be posted at the end of each video.