Friday, May 1, 2009

Mormons and spaghetti Monsters and the Book of Mormon

Many countries relying on the British Common Law have a crime, or at least a tradition of something called blasphemous libel -- an undue criticism of any religion. It is part of many constitutions and, also subject to much secualr criticism. In Ireland, a minister has been talking about it.

Why this is of note here , is the conversation in the Irish Times about it has brought up Mormonism -- in a most unflattering way. A letter-writer wrote:

"Should I anticipate prosecution of those who utter blasphemy against Scientology, Mormonism, Ashanti mythology, Zoroastrianism, Baltic polytheism and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?"

In other words, Mormons are very extreme and odd. My sense in reading the European Press -- much more so than the American Press -- about the faith is that Mormons are seen often as odd balls -- just this side of wacko in these writers' eyes.

In answer to these critics, I will always come back to the great either-or question of Mormonism in our defense.

If Joseph Smith were somehow not telling the truth about the Book of Mormon origin story, we would have to be considered followers of an oddball, so to speak, it is true.

But I implore those who do think we are oddballs: If you follow this logic about Joseph Smith, you must have a substantive explanation story about the Book of Mormon's origins.

It seems just as fanciful to believe the book is the product of Joseph Smith, in fact.

Basically, the Book of Mormon is a serious claim worthy of thought:

I have like 15 years of education, and I struggle to write a dissertation over five years. Brother Joseph wrote something longer -- if he wrote it, which I believe he didn't, he translated it by the power of God -- in about 60 days without edit in extreme poverty -- often lacking for paper. (Indeed, I know of no major American author who produced a book of such significance, fiction or otherwise, in such a short amount of time and in such poverty.) He had a third grade education.

Then there is this: Read the Book of Mormon and contrast it with his known writings and you see no similarity. The tone and word choice is vastly different. Beyond that, Joseph's preaching, as recording in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, while profound, rarely rely on stories to make their points. The Book of Mormon drips in story -- and the stories are serious and timely to us today.

And many chapters, I recommend Alma 42 and 2 Nephi 2 as evidence, are profound in their depth and complexity of doctrine at thought -- all presented in a precious, simple way.

The historical records seems little in dispute. There were essentially no edits. He did it off the top of his head to several scribes -- if it were fiction. The book has more than 300 original, but Hebrew-sounding, names. 11 men signed affidavits -- which often cost them in their personal lives -- that they saw the Golden plates. None changed their story. Joseph Smith died defending his work -- never once wavering.

Beyond that, there isn't anything approaching a serious explanation of another source for the Book of Mormon, save this young man supposedly made it up. Remember, one of the historic criticisms of Joseph Smith is that he was stupid and lazy. Try producing a book in that short amount of time being stupid and lazy that meets all of these criteria.

It should be easy to find glaring inconsistencies that are the product of the 19th century. No one has. It is a prodigious challenge to explain the Book of Mormon without believing its origin story. No one has even come close to doing it.

Say I believe in a spaghetti-monster type religion if you will. I will remain in earnest.

The Book of Mormon is a miracle in a world in desperate need of one.


  1. Really enjoyed this post Lane. I stand with you, despite how others may view me, in my desire to "remain in earnest." I believe God speaks to man. I believe he speaks to his church through a prophet. I believe Joseph Smith was God's prophet. The Book of Mormon is a powerful evidence or "fruit" by which we might know Joseph.

  2. Bro. Williams,

    Great post — it's amazing to me that Europe has had such a difficult time with such a beautiful religion.