I don’t know what it is about the Book of Mormon, but when I open that book…it just feels right. I believe that a spiritual confirmation from the Holy Ghost is telling me that the book is true. I can’t describe that phenomenon in words. But for critics and skeptics…this explanation is pure nonsense. Sometimes, in a somewhat sarcastic tone, people will say that they’ve had their own spiritual confirmation that the book is not true. So where do you go from there?
The only thing I can think to do is analyze the feasibility of Joseph Smith’s ability to write the Book of Mormon.
One of the greatest mysteries of all time consists of whether or not Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon. No one has been able to prove whether or not it was an authentic record. So…either Joseph Smith was the most brilliant and wicked man of his time and he wrote the book…or he was an uneducated mouthpiece for God that subsequently drank from the firehose of intelligence in these last days. When you open that book, you’re either reading the wisdom and history of ancient prophets or the deranged imaginations of a 22 year old farm hand. You get to read for yourself and decide between those two choices.
I can’t speak for anyone else but every time I open that book…the thought keeps coming back to my mind, “this is not the voice of a 22 year old young man”. The parental wisdom, the complexity, the history, the teachings, the detail! It can’t be the voice of an inexperienced 22 year old!
Think about it for a second. If Joseph Smith wrote that book, then how would he have kept it secret from his family and so many others in his town? Could he have been writing one of the most influential books in human history in a tiny house under the nose of his older brothers and family members without them knowing? If he was a genius, as many have suggested, would he have been dumb enough to plagiarize from other books that were popular in the nearby schools and community knowing full well that people would be able to see right through his lies and expose him?
Listen to how Emma Smith describes the translation of the Book of Mormon many years after Joseph Smith was dead and she had since been remarried:
In writing for Joseph Smith, I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it and dictating hour after hour, with nothing between us. He had neither mss [manuscript] nor book to read from. If he had had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me. The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen table cloth, which I had given him to fold them in. I felt of the plates, as they lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book. Oliver Cowdrey and JS wrote in the room where I was at work. JS could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well worded letter, let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon. – Emma Smith Bidamon, Notes of Interview with Joseph Smith III 1879
Lots of people think it was nuts for Joseph Smith to have his face buried in a hat as he translated…but I think it makes the process that much more authentic and miraculous. I mean…if he was making all of this up, then who in the world would think to bury their face in a hat as they “translate” a book anyway? Why not just “act” as if you can read the plates. If it’s all a deception anyway…then why go to the trouble of looking like an idiot and bringing further ridicule upon yourself by burying your face in a hat?
That’s where it gets really crazy. If someone doesn’t believe that Joseph Smith was utilizing a seer stone or the Urim and Thummim in the translation process, then they would have to believe that he had previously concocted, written, and memorized over five hundred and thirty pages of complex teaching and history verbatim before he began dictating it to various scribes. Each of the scribes gave their eyewitness account regarding the miraculousness of the process. No books, no manuscripts, no audio recording earpiece, no punctuation, no chapters or verses.
It gets even more incomprehensible! Emma later added that after a meal or a night’s rest, Joseph would begin, without prompting, where he had previously left off (The Saints’ Herald 26 [Oct. 1, 1879]:290). He didn’t go back, ask for the last sentence, perform edits, or make sure he had his story straight. Can you imagine this? Go to bed, wake up, and know exactly where you left off? I don’t think I could even do this with one page of memorized writings let alone the Allegory of the Olive Tree! This fact in and of itself is evidence enough of divine intervention. No human is capable of that kind of feat. But even if you were intellectually capable of doing something like that…would you exert so much energy and effort for a fraud?
Those that acted as scribe for Joseph did so with caution, often trying to catch Joseph in some sort of lie or deception. They were as skeptical as you and I might have been the first time we picked up a Book of Mormon. No one wants to waste their time, let alone place their reputation on the line because of a fraud. But over time, those scribes, finding no other way to explain away the marvel of the Book of Mormon, came to the same conclusion I have come to…
“This cannot be the voice of a 22 year old”
Every time I open the Book of Mormon, I feel like Oliver Cowdery when he said “These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, ‘Interpreters,’ the history or record called ‘The Book of Mormon.’—Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1 (October 1834), pp. 14–16.
There were too many individuals that testified of the miracles that surrounded the coming forth of the Book of Mormon to write it off as a hoax.
You may make fun of me as you read this…but I just can’t believe that a 22 yr old would be capable writing, concocting, memorizing, dictating, and concealing the process from everyone that surrounded him. But for me…it’s more than that.
Personally…I cannot associate the feelings I get and the lessons I learn every time I open that book to any other source than from God. And that is why I keep reading it’s pages and believing it’s teachings.