This entry is part 10 of 16 in My Search for Truth — Wes T.

Quoted Isaiah Scriptures

Schol­ars divide the book of Isa­iah into three parts. There is very lit­tle dis­agree­ment about this fact. Here are the three parts and when they were written:

  • Chap­ters 1 to 39 (First Isa­iah, Pro­to-Isa­iah or Orig­i­nal Isa­iah): the work of the orig­i­nal prophet Isa­iah, who worked in Jerusalem between 740 and 687 BCE.
  • Chap­ters 40 to 55 (Sec­ond Isa­iah or Deutero-Isa­iah): by an anony­mous author who lived in Baby­lon near the end of the Baby­lon­ian captivity.
  • Chap­ters 56 to 66 (Third Isa­iah or Tri­to-Isa­iah): the work of anony­mous dis­ci­ples com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing Isa­iah’s work in the years imme­di­ate­ly after the return from Babylon.

This presents a mas­sive prob­lem for the Book of Mor­mon. Nephi is sup­pos­ed­ly copy­ing Isa­iah 48–52 into 1 Nephi 21–22 and 2 Nephi 7−8,17. Those chap­ters of Isa­iah were writ­ten after Israel was car­ried away into Baby­lon, which was after Lehi and his fam­i­ly left Jerusalem. Nephi could not have had those chap­ters on his brass plates, yet there they are in the Book of Mor­mon. What alter­na­tive expla­na­tion is there for this, oth­er than the Book of Mor­mon being a 19th cen­tu­ry creation?

There was Death Prior to the Fall of Adam (4000 BC)

The Book of Mor­mon teach­es that, pri­or to the fall of Adam, there was no death any­where on the plan­et. Church lead­ers have taught that organ­ic evo­lu­tion is not a law of nature, but a faulty teach­ing of man, and the earth is not mil­lions of years old — only around 6000. The evi­dence against both of these claims is moun­tain­ous. This is an impor­tant issue, how­ev­er I will not be going into the depth it may deserve. Please ask me if you have ques­tions about this.

2 Nephi 2:22
And now, behold, if Adam had not trans­gressed he would not have fall­en, but he would have remained in the gar­den of Eden. And all things which were cre­at­ed must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were cre­at­ed; and they must have remained for­ev­er, and had no end.

Alma 12:23
And now behold, I say unto you that if it had been pos­si­ble for Adam to have par­tak­en of the fruit of the tree of life at that time, there would have been no death, and the word would have been void, mak­ing God a liar, for he said: If thou eat thou shalt sure­ly die.

D&C 77:6
Q. What are we to under­stand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with sev­en seals?
A. We are to under­stand that it con­tains the revealed will, mys­ter­ies, and the works of God; the hid­den things of his econ­o­my con­cern­ing this earth dur­ing the sev­en thou­sand years of its con­tin­u­ance, or its tem­po­ral existence.

No Supportive Archaeological Evidence has been Found

The Book of Mor­mon gives so many details about cities, waters, a tem­ple, and oth­er land­marks. Sev­er­al LDS mem­bers have tak­en those details and tried to locate the actu­al land­marks. It makes sense that with a detailed guide such as the Book of Mor­mon, locat­ing these places should not be over­ly com­pli­cat­ed, and it would be a tes­ta­ment to the truth­ful­ness of the book. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for the Church, to date no sol­id sup­port­ive evi­dence has been found.

Thomas Stu­art Fer­gu­son was a ded­i­cat­ed believ­er in the authen­tic­i­ty of the Book of Mor­mon at the time he found­ed the New World Archae­ol­o­gy Foun­da­tion. He real­ly believed that archae­ol­o­gy would prove the Book of Mor­mon. Read his whole sto­ry here. He peti­tioned Pres­i­dent David O. McK­ay to give him a grant to be able to trav­el to Mesoamer­i­ca and look for evi­dence that the Book of Mor­mon is true. McK­ay grant­ed him $250,000 of tithing funds to do his research.

In a let­ter dat­ed April 23, 1952, Mr. Fer­gu­son said the “the archae­o­log­i­cal data now avail­able is entire­ly inad­e­quate” for test­ing the Book of Mor­mon. He pre­dict­ed, how­ev­er, that the “next ten years of exca­va­tions in Mex­i­co and Guatemala should enable us to make the archae­o­log­i­cal tests.” For a num­ber of years he was very excit­ed about the progress of the work and seemed cer­tain that the Book of Mor­mon would be vin­di­cat­ed soon. In his book, One Fold And One Shep­herd, p. 263, he stat­ed: “The impor­tant thing now is to con­tin­ue the dig­ging at an accel­er­at­ed pace in order to find more inscrip­tions dat­ing to Book-of-Mor­mon times. Even­tu­al­ly we should find deci­pher­able inscrip­tions… refer­ring to some unique per­son, place or event in the Book of Mor­mon.” In 1962 Mr. Fer­gu­son said that “Pow­er­ful evi­dences sus­tain­ing the book are accumulating.”

Although many impor­tant archae­o­log­i­cal dis­cov­er­ies were made, the evi­dence he had desired to find to sup­port the Book of Mor­mon did not turn up. In response to a let­ter Hal Hougey wrote in 1972 which remind­ed him that he had pre­dict­ed in 1961 that Book of Mor­mon cities would be found with­in 10 years, Mr. Fer­gu­son sad­ly wrote: “Ten years have passed… I sin­cere­ly antic­i­pat­ed that Book-of-Mor­mon cities would be pos­i­tive­ly iden­ti­fied with­in 10 years–and time has proved me wrong in my anticipation.”

He nev­er found any­thing, and addi­tion­al­ly, the dis­cov­ery of the Book of Abraham’s papyri and the sub­se­quent actu­al trans­lat­ing of it destroyed his tes­ti­mo­ny. Below, I’ll go into that some. In 1975, Fer­gu­son wrote about the addi­tion­al archae­o­log­i­cal work that had been done, “With all of these great efforts, it can­not be estab­lished fac­tu­al­ly that any­one, from Joseph Smith to the present day, has put his fin­ger on a sin­gle point of ter­rain that was a Book-of-Mor­mon geo­graph­i­cal place. And the hemi­sphere has been pret­ty well checked out by com­pe­tent peo­ple. Thou­sands of sites have been exca­vat­ed.” Fer­gu­son point­ed out in his paper that the text of the Book of Mor­mon makes it very clear that cer­tain items should be found in archae­o­log­i­cal exca­va­tions and that these items are not present in the sites pro­posed. He not­ed, for instance, that “Thou­sands of archae­o­log­i­cal holes in the area pro­posed have giv­en us not a frag­ment of evi­dence of the pres­ence of the plants men­tioned in the Book of Mor­mon…” (p. 7) On page 29 he con­clud­ed by say­ing: “I’m afraid that up to this point, I must agree with Dee Green, who has told us that to date there is no Book-of-Mor­mon geography.”

Non-LDS Scholars

Arche­ol­o­gists and oth­er schol­ars have long probed the hemi­sphere’s past and the soci­ety does not know of any­thing found so far that has sub­stan­ti­at­ed the Book of Mor­mon.” State­ment by the Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Society

It can be stat­ed def­i­nite­ly that there is no con­nec­tion between the arche­ol­o­gy of the New World and the sub­ject mat­ter of the Book of Mor­mon. There is no cor­re­spon­dence what­ev­er between arche­o­log­i­cal sites and cul­tures as revealed by sci­en­tif­ic inves­ti­ga­tions and as record­ed in the Book of Mor­mon, hence the book can­not be regard­ed as hav­ing any his­tor­i­cal val­ue from the stand­point of the abo­rig­i­nal peo­ples of the New World.” F.H.H. Roberts, Jr, Smith­son­ian Insti­tu­tion, 1951

There is an inher­ent improb­a­bil­i­ty in spe­cif­ic items that are men­tioned in the Book of Mor­mon as hav­ing been brought to the New World by…Nephites. Among these are the horse, the char­i­ot, wheat, bar­ley, and [true] met­al­lur­gy. The pic­ture of this hemisphere…presented in the book has lit­tle to do with the ear­ly Indi­an cul­tures as we know them.” Michael Coe, arche­ol­o­gist at Yale Uni­ver­si­ty.

The Smithsonian Letter

The Smith­son­ian Insti­tu­tion is one of the most (if not the most) pres­ti­gious research insti­tute on archae­o­log­i­cal research in the world. They have his­tor­i­cal­ly received let­ters from Mor­mons ask­ing for evi­dence that the Book of Mor­mon sto­ries are true. Here is the response they give:

Pre­pared by


1. The Smith­son­ian Insti­tu­tion has nev­er used the Book of Mor­mon in any way as a sci­en­tif­ic guide. Smith­son­ian archae­ol­o­gists see no direct con­nec­tion between the archae­ol­o­gy of the New World and the sub­ject mat­ter of the book.

2. The phys­i­cal type of the Amer­i­can Indi­an is basi­cal­ly Mon­goloid, being most close­ly relat­ed to that of the peo­ples of east­ern, cen­tral, and north­east­ern Asia. Archae­o­log­i­cal evi­dence indi­cates that the ances­tors of the present Indi­ans came into the New World–probably over a land bridge known to have exist­ed in the Bering Strait region dur­ing the last Ice Age–in a con­tin­u­ing series of small migra­tions begin­ning from about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.

3. Present evi­dence indi­cates that the first peo­ple to reach this con­ti­nent from the East were the Norse­men, who briefly vis­it­ed the north­east­ern part of North Amer­i­ca around 1000 A.D. and then set­tled in Green­land. There is no evi­dence to show that they reached Mex­i­co or Cen­tral America.

4. None of the prin­ci­pal Old World domes­ti­cat­ed food plants or ani­mals (except the dog) occurred in the New World in pre- Columbian times. This is one of the main lines of evi­dence sup­port­ing the sci­en­tif­ic premise that con­tacts with Old World civ­i­liza­tions, if they occurred, were of very lit­tle sig­nif­i­cance for the devel­op­ment of Amer­i­can Indi­an civ­i­liza­tions. Amer­i­can Indi­ans had no wheat, bar­ley, oats, mil­let, rice, cat­tle, pigs, chick­ens, hors­es, don­keys, or camels before 1492. (Camels and hors­es were in the Amer­i­c­as, along with the bison, mam­moth, and mastodon, but all these ani­mals became extinct around 10,000 B.C. at the time the ear­ly big game hunters trav­eled across the Americas.)

5. Iron, steel, glass, and silk were not used in the New World before 1492 (except for occa­sion­al use of unsmelt­ed meteroic iron). Native cop­per was worked in var­i­ous loca­tions in pre- Columbian times, but true met­al­lur­gy was lim­it­ed to south­ern Mex­i­co and the Andean region, where its occur­rence in late pre­his­toric times involved gold, sil­ver, cop­per, and their alloys, but not iron.

6. There is a pos­si­bil­i­ty that the spread of cul­tur­al traits across the Pacif­ic to Mesoamer­i­ca and the north­west­ern coast of South Amer­i­ca began sev­er­al hun­dred years before the Chris­t­ian era. How­ev­er, any such inter-hemi­spher­ic con­tacts appear to have been the results of acci­den­tal voy­ages orig­i­nat­ing in east­ern and south­ern Asia. It is by no means cer­tain that even such con­tacts occurred with the ancient Egyp­tians, Hebrews, or oth­er peo­ples of West­ern Asia and the Near East.

7. No rep­utable Egyp­tol­o­gist or oth­er spe­cial­ist on Old World arche­ol­o­gy, and no expert on New World pre­his­to­ry, has dis­cov­ered or con­firmed any rela­tion­ship between arche­o­log­i­cal remains in Mex­i­co and arche­o­log­i­cal remains in Egypt.

8. Reports of find­ings of ancient Egypt­ian, Hebrew, and oth­er Old World writ­ings in the New World in pre-Columbian con­texts have fre­quent­ly appeared in news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines and sen­sa­tion­al books. None of these claims has stood up to exam­i­na­tion by rep­utable schol­ars. No inscrip­tions using Old World forms of writ­ing have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Amer­i­c­as before 1492 except for a few Norse rune stones which have been found in Greenland.

9. There are copies of the Book of Mor­mon in the library of the Nation­al Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry, Smith­son­ian Institution.

Series Nav­i­ga­tion: My Search for Truth — Wes T« Book of Mor­mon Issue 5: Hebrew DNABook of Abraham »



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