If you would like to catch up with where I talked about the introduction and testimonies of the people who found the golden plates you can find the first part here.
The way I will break this down is that after I’ve done my reading and praying for the day, I will write any thoughts here that I may have had, commenting on anything I find interesting.
People say that if you read the book of mormon and pray about it, he will reveal himself to you. Well so far I’ve found nothing. But I only just started. Expect me to be honest. If I have a problem with things I’ll say it, if I find something good I’ll also say it. Just keep in mind, that even though I said I would keep an open mind, that I can’t choose to blatantly ignore bad things, I don’t go out looking for bad things either. Maybe one day I will feel a god reveal himself, but for now, put up with negativity, because so far, I can’t help it. If the book’s bad don’t suddenly expect me to like it because I was keeping an open mind, even while keeping one.
I also think part of keeping an open mind is to say when you have problems, because if there are genuine answers to these problems it’s worth writing them
Chapter 1+2 (Day 1 of reading)
I find it strange that the first chapter opens with a claim that it is in fact true. No other book in the bible does this. As well as that, Nephi is supposed to be a well respected ruler, there would be no reason to say this as everyone at the time would have believed him. All of these things with the testimonies are quite emotional manipulative, and appeal to emotion for trust without giving any real good reasons for it.
I found it funny how the opening of this chapter also blatantly referenced the way Joseph Smith found the Gold plates. 12 people (12 witnesses) were there when Nephi’s father was given a book from an angel, which changed everything and made him say “Jerusalem—that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon” – charming.
I assume the parallels between Joseph Smith and the book of mormon will continue, and if it does, then it’s a sign of deceit. If the main purpose of Nephi is to validate the book of Mormon, and show a similar story to Joseph Smith, then that is circular reasoning, and honestly pretty good reason to doubt it’s legitimacy.
The whole point of the book is “pray and see if God tells you if it’s correct” – but if it uses repeatedly these tactics to try and get trust without earning it, and has a story in it that’s believable, identical to the same story as Joseph Smith, it’s easy to see how someone might use this as a bias to think Yahweh is telling them that the book is true.
Again God also chooses a chosen people, this is favouritism and racism.
God physically needs to come down and soften your heart for even Nephi to believe… what chance does that give me then? If “proof of Yahweh” doesn’t mean actual proof, and all my problems instead being solved by Yahweh coming down to soften my heart, that doesn’t make any of the problems less valid, it just sounds like Yahweh abusing free will. You cannot soften people’s hearts and not influence free will, it’s a very messed up thing to do. Suddenly having a softened heart also won’t make any of the counter arguments against Yahweh false. They will still be there, you just won’t care.
In this book God also physically communicated with Nephi, blessing him for my faith. But am I missing something here? Because if God is physically communicating with you in language then it means two things, a mental illness or proof. Considering mental health knowledge wasn’t a thing back then, Nephi would have felt like he had proof, meaning that faith wasn’t unnecessary. Nephi’s brothers didn’t believe, but it’s kind of unfair to criticise that as Nephi was the only one who was being physically talked with.
Nephi ends the chapter (which he claims to have wrote himself) by saying he will curse people when they rebel against him. Sounds like fascism, but also kind of unfair, he should understand that it’s not so easy to believe things like that, and maybe show some tolerance, much like the all loving God he supposedly worships.
Chapter 3,4 and 5 (Day 2 of Reading)
Considering that I don’t know anything about these people the story is slightly hard to follow, in terms of what’s important and what to pay attention too. I’m glad that I also reached the end of chapter 5 today as it seems to complete a kind of arc that I didn’t realise was happening.
We now see what happens when the group venture out into the wilderness, and it’s not exactly easy for them.
They go to a place in Jerusalem and try to get jewels, brass plates and a genealogy. However Laban does not want to give them anything, so they offer a trade, and instead they are attacked for offering this trade. It’s quite nasty, they leave all their stuff behind, leaving them with a problem of having no riches and also not the things God told them to get.
They obviously try to do something, and God tells them they must kill Laban (You know, instead of revealing himself to Laban telling him to give everything back)
Luckily they find and kill a drunk Laban who has passed out in the streets. Then Nephi dresses up as Laban, puts on Laban’s voice, and then takes everything he wants under the guise of being Laban. He ends up stealing the entire old testament written on brass plates.
How on earth could they not tell that this Laban was fake? If he was there just in the city getting drunk it’s fair to assume that everyone would know what he looks like, especially the people who let the riches in and out.
All of this adds more and more people to the story of the golden plates. Not only now do we have to trust that Moroni and Joseph Smith were honest, but now you also have to trust and verify the account that was written down by Nephi, did he get it all right? I have to be honest, this story is on the same level of Noah’s arc or the tower of babel for unbelievably. It says nothing about God helping Nephi, it literally just says he impersonated him, and was so good nobody asked any questions.
So in chapter 5 they return home from this exciting adventure and wonder what they will do with all the stuff they stole. And when I say stole I do mean that, stealing is a sin regardless if the guy you stole from was an arsehole to you or not.
If they took an entire genealogy it would be nice to actually see it included, but from a quick glance through the next few chapters it’s not there, sadly. Not like it matters, both genealogies of Jesus Christ from the bible are completely different and contradictory and nobody seems to care there.
They then make it their mission to spread these brass plates and information to show the glory of God.
The one thing I’m interested in is why the brass plates became gold plates, were they not good enough?
It seems clear that this book is going to be more in line with the old testament books than the new, as it’s about the rulers and people of power and their conquests for their gods.
I’m not sure I like Nephi. He curses anyone whose against his God, killed Laban and didn’t have a particularly believable story while doing it, making me doubt him. But time will tell.
I also recall telling us that the date this was written was in like 592-600bc, meaning that this picture of Jesus appearing in the america’s from last time definitely couldn’t have happened because the clues in the name… b.c. Obviously unless this is a book from a time nearer the correct time.
Chapter 6,7,8 and 9 (Day 3 of Reading)
Obviously chapter 6 would be explaining why he didn’t include the genealogy. I agree that a genealogy doesn’t matter… unless you want to prove that you are indeed the ancestors of Joseph. Seeing the genealogy would make it much more believable, why leave people to just have good faith in you when you have the resources right there to prove it?
Moving on to chapter 7 they decide to go again through the wilderness to Jerusalem, this time recruiting another house, and they have a bit of a fight. Because even though the entire point of this trip in the first place was to spread the word of Yahweh, many members of the opposing house do not believe him. Making the whole trip pointless for this house, they don’t seem that smart do they?
Nephi calls the people these people who don’t believe blind in the mind as well as the heart. Disbelief does not happen through being blind in the mind, it happens by being aware of all the information and coming to a conclusion of disbelief. It’s not blind. In fact it’s the reason why I’m reading this, because my doubts could not be resolved through argument (as I did not see the argument as good) the only thing that they had left was to say read this book and pray about it, which is what I’m doing. I badly got the rough end of the deal because even if there was a God, that doesn’t automatically make all the arguments I made go away, and it also doesn’t mean that I could prove his existence to anyone else, and it also doesn’t mean that there is a God because I would have reason to doubt my own personal experience. So effectively it wouldn’t have helped.
Blind in the heart is an accusation that I have heard many times (though definitely not in that wording) directed towards me as an atheist. It is complete nonsense. You cannot blame the person sincerely praying in a “you just didn’t pray right” kind of way, it is so incredibly bigoted as you imply that there is only one conclusion and it’s yours. People can sincerely pray and not find anything, and if that’s the case, it’s only evidence against you, not the person who who didn’t pray right.
If God does not reveal himself to people and the evidence out there only points against him, then it is only God’s fault for your disbelief. If a God does exist, he knows exactly what would be enough to convince every human of his existence, however he hasn’t done that. So it can only mean two things. He’s either not real, or does not want us to know about him yet. Why not make the effort God?
So there is prophesy here, but this is definitely not impressive in the slightest when it’s translated/written many years after the fact. That is something we can easily agree on.
In response to that rant that Nephi has they (quite rightly because he’s being stupid here) chain him up, then God releases him of his chains and he’s set free, they then find their hearts softened and believe in Yahweh. The thing is, Nephi escaping from these impossible to escape from chains is evidence. If I saw that too I would more easily believe, I see no error in the ways of the people who previously chain him up in the first place.
They were rightly in doubt, saw something that was evidence against their doubts, and then changed their minds. Granted I myself would demand a bit more evidence, as there are many other explanations, but I wasn’t there so it’s not like I can judge those guys, they were in a time where God was a normal belief so were more likely to believe. Think of it like that scene from life of Brian.
Chapter 8 is interesting as it’s entirely a vision, about the tree of life. Where have I heard that before? Genesis maybe, where Adam and Eve ate it and it’s the reason why life is as shit as it is today.
A common thing that I say is “I didn’t eat that apple” – meaning that why should I be punished to live in this non-paradise just because millions of years ago my greatx10000 grandparents ate a thing. I didn’t do the same sin they did. Which is true, I don’t deserve to be punished because Adam and Eve ate a fruit, it had nothing to do with me, I wasn’t there.
An interpretation to take from this is that no matter who you are you do want to and would eat from the tree of life, justifying this punishment.
But that doesn’t mean I actually committed the crime, so it’s irrelevant. Also do you think I would be so stupid to eat the fruit having knowledge of what happens when you do? I don’t think so.
I don’t think that’s what the vision is really about though, and more accepting God’s gifts, since (rightly) the most rebellious and unbelieving people don’t eat from it.
Nephi makes two different plates showing his story. I assume all of these will be in the book of Mormon. One of these plates is “a secular history” and the other is “Primarily sacred things” – I assume that the current book I’m reading is the secular history, since its describing the events that happened in history. And if that’s the case, Nephi clearly doesn’t understand what the word secular means – since his teachings have only refereed to Yahweh even in the history books.
Chapter 10,11,12,13,14 (Day 4 of reading)
This is by far the most time I spent reading in one day, mainly because all of these chapters are very linked together. They are about prophesy, which as you know, means absolutely nothing if you reveal the prophesy after the fact, as it can easily be fabricated.
Nephi describes the story of christ and revelation in such amazing detail, with no mistakes. It’s nothing like the prophesy of the old testament, which makes it very easy to doubt. As well as that, the far more probable explanation is that Joseph Smith made this up, meaning it’s also not impressive as he happens to write about everything Joseph Smith knows about already.
The thing is, that Nephi stops prophesying up until the point where it is useful. As in, his prophecies are only from then to present, meaning we can’t get his prophecies and see if they become true later for example, after they have already been written.
It’s like when Derren Brown predicted the lottery, it’s not impressive to reveal the numbers after they have already been chosen, you need to reveal them beforehand and then we need to watch the numbers occur.
Prophesy is a bad way to define truth anyway, even if this was in the bible,it would still not be convincing evidence for Christ. This is because it’s not impressive to fulfil a prophesy when you already know what it is, so the fact that Jesus fit so perfectly wouldn’t have mattered as much, only made it stronger that it was a made up story.
The only way for prophesy to be really impressive and compelling would be something like what we have in Nephi 1, however provably and most definitely from the past. It would mean that the prophesy predicted it correctly, while the book itself would not have been famous enough to actually have any influence on the prophecy. As in, it would remove the lack of cheating.
The prophesy’s here make Nephi 1 really uncompelling as it’s so different from all of the other prophets, and so specific that it’s so incredibly likely that this was written after the event happened.
In the vision Nephi sees a young virgin woman. This is obviously supposed to be Mary, without question. However how on earth could Nephi have known whether or not she was a virgin or not? This brings back the problem of “Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies – even the mistranslated ones” – where the mother of Jesus was never said to be a virgin, but instead a young woman. Of course Joseph Smith wouldn’t have known this at the time, so it is a good explanation for why the word appears here.
It then goes on to predict revelation, the events that are within it. Here is a compilation of all the messed up stuff of revelation, ask yourself, does this really fit in with the idea of an all loving god?
A part of chapter 12 is also provably wrong here from all the information we have in the present so far, the least violent societies are secular, not the other way around.
Chapter 14 splits the world into two churches. One being of the lamb, and the other of the devil. And it speaks of the great sins that the horrible church commits such as “yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul, save it be the casting of it into that hell which hath no end.”
So it talks about the evil church casting souls into a hell with no end. However, wait, is this really the evil church? The church of the lamb is also shown to do this exact same thing in revelation! It’s saying one thing is evil, while also doing the exact same evil thing!
Then Nephi conveniently stops writing things right at the point where it would actually be useful for us to know them. He writes up to present. Because you know, being able to read about events that will happen, and then us seeing them happen wouldn’t give any credibility to his vision at all.
Chapter 15,16 (Day 5 of reading)
The chapters just keep getting longer. But not just that, the verses are now massively long too.
I had been under the impression that mormon hell was different from Christian hell, however the words in chapter 15 clearly make the two the same:
” if their works have been filthiness they must needs be filthy; and
if they be filthy it must needs be
that they cannot dwell in the kingdom of God; if so, the kingdom of
God must be filthy also.
34 But behold, I say unto you, the
kingdom of God is not filthy, and
there cannot any unclean thing
enter into the kingdom of God;
wherefore there must needs be a
place of a filthiness prepared for
that which is filthy.
35 And there is a place prepared,
yea, even that awful hell of which
I have spoken, and the devil is the
preparator of it; wherefore the final state of the souls of men is to
dwell in the kingdom of God, or to
be cast out because of that d justice
of which I have spoken.”
The idea of hell has never been so clearly stated in the bible, just implied. From the bible alone you could make a reasonable argument for why hell isn’t real in Christian doctrine, however for mormons, with this passage in place, there is very little argument against the Christian idea of hell. It is disgusting and it’s horrible.
I had got tired of the prophesy and looked forward to when they started actually travelling and doing stuff. They travel through the wilderness to a place that they call ‘Shazer’ – why choose such a stupid name? I am writing a fantasy story where I have to make a lot of place names up, and therefore it’s fairly easy to spot a made up awful name relative to a real one, this place obviously comes across as the former. Of course this has no real basis to say whether it’s true or not, but I just find it difficult to buy into these awful names.
The name “Laban” from earlier also falls into this trapping, if I think of more I’ll write them later.
When they continue into the wilderness they can’t find food – so they therefore immediately harden their hearts and stop believing. These are the original people, who knew a profit first hand, yet they still couldn’t be convinced by him. It doesn’t look good does it?
Over the course of the story of chapter 16 it becomes increasingly apparent that the people’s belief is contingent on the amount of food that they have.
Nephi goes off and slays “beasts” – it’s a bit vague, it brings to mind the idea of monsters. But that gets them enough food to make them re-believe. It’s so strange. These people don’t act anything like genuinely real people with doubts. You don’t simply change your belief when it looks good or bad. Simply getting food is not a way to relieve doubts.
I also find it funny that a way to relieve their doubts would have been to give them a lot of food in a miraculous way, that would alleviate doubts.
Nephi comes across as quite ignorant however, he has had many visions and enough encounters with God in this story to believe without faith to be perfectly honest. Yet he seems to be very harsh on the people he’s travelling with even though they haven’t had the same experiences as he had. He should instead be praying for them to be given the same evidence that he has had, instead of criticising them.
Chapter 17,18 (Day 6 of reading)
So after several years in the wilderness Nephi is instructed to make a boat, and makes the starting preparations single-handedly from God. It’s not very convincing that someone would be able to do this.
This book still constantly goes on about people’s hearts hardening, and it’s so incredibly annoying, we get the message. But I can’t help but empathise with them. Even if I did have Nephi’s visions, then several years later I felt like if God had been quiet the entire time, I would myself start to doubt my memory, doubt God’s existence and find other ways to explain it. Meaning I can’t fault them for hardening their hearts.
If God was real, hardening their hearts shouldn’t even be possible as God should be in constant communication with them, meaning faith should be unnecessary.
I made this whole rant about how it would have been impossible for Jesus to physically travel to America (turns out he only appeared in spirit), well I suppose that considering the group of people do just that in this chapter, I can re-use it here, since it doesn’t apply to Jesus anymore.
It is more likely that Nephi travelled to the America’s than Jesus, but it’s still very difficult to believe. Nephi 1 says that they travelled through the wilderness for several years, this gives them time to move, but considering the number of people that were travelling with them, and that they must have stayed and camped in many places, it’s difficult to imagine that they travelled very far.
It makes sense that they travelled far but not very far, as in not to any coasts, like that of north west Africa, Eastern China, and North East Russia. The best place for them to travel would have been towards Egypt, however that doesn’t seem likely, as the place of Egypt is mentioned often however no reference to passing it or passing through it was also mentioned. They also mentioned the red sea, which means that they would have had to go south along it’s shores. This means that they most likely left from Yemen or Somalia.
And anyone who looks at in on a world map will see that this route to America, is complete insanity. With much better technology it took Columbus 33 days to sail to America, and that was from Spain! Not only did they choose the worst place to start to arrive in America, they also choose the worst route.
The would have needed to sail around the entirety of Africa and then up a long distance to America, and then even further to the place where the gold plates were discovered!
It could have literally been a matter of years, and not days. The very idea of this plan working is insanity.
The boat that they build is claimed to be divinely inspired, but I don’t care how well designed a boat is, a boat is a boat, and it takes a long time to sail a long distance. It is simply crazy to believe that this could have happened, even if they somehow got the technology they would have died of starvation before they even got there. Noah’s arc is only slightly less believable.
Chapter 19,20,21,22 (Day 7 of reading)
I’m not knowledgeable about ore, but I doubt it’s as simple as simply finding gold. When we consider gold mining today, the reason why it’s so expensive is that any pieces of gold found are very small and tiny, so small that it’s difficult to do anything with them.
I was always under the impression that we were reading the record that he wrote down, but maybe this is wrong, as it says in these chapters that Nephi now writes his record. He makes two of them. The bronze plates from earlier have probably been forgotten. Would love to have these historical books, they would give us more information on the type of people.
The book then ends after a large amount of prophesy, you already know I have described as useless. It essentially predicts the fall of Jerusalem, Jesus and revelation – again.
Overall the book was interesting, and would have been far more compelling if it was in the same part of the bible. Though of course it wouldn’t prove anything because it being in the bible would cause us to believe that people worked towards that prophecy and the whole Nephi journey would likely go under the same scrutiny as Noah’s arc, making it very unbelievable anyway.