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.
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.
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.”
“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:
THE DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY
STATEMENT REGARDING THE BOOK OF MORMON
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.