Mike Adams’ anti-Mormon opus is titled “My Apology to Mormon Readers.” This title is problematic, as we will see soon enough.
He begins by addressing a woman – girl? – named Stacey, as follows:
You have written demanding an apology for my recent characterization of the Mormon religion as “non-Christian.” I am happy to write a public letter of apology to you and to the countless Mormon readers who responded negatively to my characterization.
What follows is not an apology. It is, clearly, anything but. Given that his thesis stems from the premise that Adams is a Christian yet the average Mormon is not, one is left to question the Christlike nature of an “apology” designed, in exceptionally sarcastic and condescending language, to inflict the greatest offense possible upon its intended recipients. Had Jesus taken a similar sneering approach to the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4, it seems unlikely that she would have had much interest in what the Lord had to say.
I am sorry that so many of my Mormon readers have brazenly accused me of ignorance of their religion and suggested that I read the Book of Mormon. I am sorry that they were unaware that I read the Book of Mormon back in 2006.
If he read the Book of Mormon, and there is no reason to doubt that he did, he drew conclusions from it that cannot be sustained by the original text. In his first salvo against my faith, he launches what he likely considers to be one of the most devastating arguments against the book’s veracity. In reality, it’s pretty weak sauce.
I am sorry that the science of genetics has refuted claims made in the Book of Mormon concerning the relationship between Native Americans and Semitic people. These refutations undermine the entire historical premise of the Book of Mormon.
Adams employs two false premises here. In the first place, the science of genetics hasn’t refuted anything related to the Book of Mormon, and, in the second, the Book of Mormon makes no claims that the science of genetics is in any position to refute. Thus the “entire historical premise” of the Book of Mormon faces no challenge whatsoever .
To understand this, we have to dive into DNA stuff, which could get a bit dull for a few paragraphs. The truth isn’t nearly as sensational as Adams’ sweeping claims, and, in fact, is a little bit boring.
The findings in question that have been seized upon by Adams and his fellow opponents of Mormonism involve mitochondrial DNA tests which show Asian DNA in Native Americans, but, so far, no Semitic DNA. The nature of the research does not preclude the possibility of any Middle Eastern ancestors; it only demonstrates that Semitic ancestors cannot currently be found by means of Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA markers, which are sorely limited in the information they can provide.
Consider a 2003 study, conducted on an entirely different population by non-Mormon researchers, which determined that the majority of people living in Iceland descend from 19th Century ancestors that cannot be identified by these markers, even though written records of these unidentifiable people still exist. (Cited in “Addressing Questions surrounding the Book of Mormon and DNA Research” by John M. Butler.) Given that the Book of Mormon narrative ends well over a millenia and a half ago, it’s ludicrous to assume that the same DNA tools would be able to conclusively demonstrate the totality of Native American ancestry. No credible geneticist would ever make that claim.
This leads us to the second false premise – that the Book of Mormon claims that Native Americans would all have Semitic DNA.
It doesn’t. Not even close.
The Book of Mormon doesn’t mention genetics at all. What it does mention are several migrations by people from the Old World to the New, the first of which is conducted by an Asiatic people called the Jaredites, thousands of years prior to any Semites showing up on the scene. While Semitic descendants of the family of Lehi get a starring role in the Book of Mormon narrative, they do not arrive on an uninhabited American continent, and their genetic material ends up combining with that of any number of indigenous peoples in ways likely to be undetectable by current genetic identification techniques. Plus, if, as Adams seems to believe, the book’s “entire historical premise” is that all, or even the majority, of Native Americans are exclusively Semites, it probably ought to have said as much and avoided muddying the waters with an Asiatic population that had a several-thousand-year head start.
I am also sorry that while archeological discovery supports the claims of the Bible it clearly does not support the claims of the Book of Mormon. Battles that were supposed to have occurred in specific locations in North America simply never took place. The archeological evidence just isn’t there.
Isn’t where? The Book of Mormon names no “specific locations” that correlate with any modern map, at least not in the Americas. This is the same problem scholars face when trying to pinpoint many Bible sites. Where was the specific location of the Tower of Babel? Mt. Sinai? Sodom and Gomorrah? Nobody knows. Using Adams’ criteria, that means they didn’t exist. Adams also fails to mention that the Book of Mormon does identify an Old World burial site by the name of Nahom that wasn’t discovered until a century after the Book of Mormon was published. Lehi’s journey to the shores of what is now Oman is well documented with plentiful archaeological evidence that Adams chooses to ignore.
I am sorry about the plagiarism of the Holy Bible that runs through the Book of Mormon.
This is an absurd charge, because the Book of Mormon cites its sources. “And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words.” (See 2 Nephi 11:2) Plagiarism involves lifting passages from other works without acknowledging where they come from. That’s not how it works in the Book of Mormon, so, needless to say, plagiarism can hardly be labeled a practice that “runs through” the book.
I am sorry that Mormons cannot see that Joseph Smith’s refusal to reveal the golden tablets is strong evidence of their nonexistence.
This is an irrelevant aside, but I don’t understand why enemies of the church always insist on referring to the Book of Mormon’s golden plates as “tablets.” I’m not sure how this is significant, but neither Joseph Smith nor anyone else within the church ever used – or uses – that word, but it seems like everyone attacking the church does. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, mind you; it’s just an odd term to apply to thin metallic sheets bound together by three large bolts.
Regardless, since its first printing up until the present day, each copy of the Book of Mormon has included written testimony from eleven men to whom Joseph Smith did, in fact, show the plates. The first three witnesses were also visited by the angel and shown other items pertinent to Book of Mormon history. Each was, at some time in their lives, deeply disaffected with the church and Joseph Smith in particular, yet not one denied his testimony, even in the face of public ridicule. David Whitmer, who never reconciled with the church and went to his grave insisting that Joseph Smith was a fallen prophet, still felt it necessary to reaffirm his eyewitness testimony of the “tablets” on his deathbed.
In any case, applying this standard to Biblical events causes a number of problems for Mr. Adams. Just as there were eleven witnesses to the Book of Mormon plates, there were eleven apostles left who had seen the risen Lord upon his return. Does the fact that Jesus didn’t make personal appearances to confirm the testimony of the apostles provide strong evidence that he never rose from the grave? The story of the golden plates is entirely consistent with the Biblical pattern that requires all followers of Christ to walk by faith.
The heavy plagiarism in the Book of Mormon puts the lie to the rest of the story of Smith, the former seeker of the lost treasures of Captain Kidd.
The demonstrable lack of plagiarism in the Book of Mormon precludes the possibility of “heavy” plagiarism. Even if you call quoting the Bible “plagiarism,” the clearly-labeled-as-such Isaiah passages make up about half of one of the fifteen lengthy individual sections that constitute the book in its entirety, providing less than five percent of the Book of Mormon’s total text.
As for Joseph and Captain Kidd, the sole source of that accusation seems to be from a document written four decades after Joseph Smith’s death. Among all the accusations about Joseph Smith’s treasure hunting, no contemporaneous documents exist to support a flimsy allegation about a Captain Kidd obsession made by a very old man long, long after the fact.
There’s more, but I want to stop and ask the question that Adams goes out of his way to avoid:
What does any of this have to do with whether or not Mormons are Christians?
That’s the issue Stacey and “countless Mormon readers” raised in their objections to Adams’ inaccurate dismissal of our church. Even if the Book of Mormon were nonsense, why would that mean the people who believe in it aren’t Christians? If someone believes in both Jesus and the Easter Bunny, are they disqualified, too? If so, young children dyeing eggs every Spring are putting their salvation at risk.