I am not a member of the church of jesus christ latter-day saints and am just a non-believer who took it upon himself to read it and pray about it as I did so. I read this book over the course of one week, and made notes on what I thought as I went. This got to be insanely long, so if you want a detailed diary style post you can find that here. However I will be talking about the things that I found most important here.
Obviously as a disclaimer we don’t need to read the book to determine it’s trustworthiness, the very weak, uncompelling and easily fakable way that the books were obtained are enough evidence of that. However it’s still interesting to read the book.
Mormons say that if you read the book of Mormon and pray about it, then you will have God reveal himself to you. I’ve been doing that, and am genuinely interested to see if this happens.
This book is written from the perspective of a person called Nephi, who becomes the leader of a large group of people, finds God, receives visions, and leads them to the promised land. This is effectively the story of this book. It is said to be written around 600 b.c, but obviously, I see no reason to doubt a much more recent date, not just due to the way it’s obtained but due to the contents of the book itself as well.
There are two major things to mention first before going into specifics. And that is prophesy. We can all agree that prophesy is not impressive in the slightest when the event has already happened and we know about it. So the very specific prophesies don’t mean anything to me, because I see no reason to believe that they were written by anyone other than Joseph Smith and his witnesses, who would have known these things.
In order for a prophesy to compelling it needs to be provably written before the time it happened, since the plates were taken away we cannot possibly verify this. Then it also needs to be kept secret, and discovered later after the fact, in order to prevent people from trying to actively work towards that prophesy because of the prophesy.
If Nephi 1 was instead discovered, and kept and verified, in the same way that other religious scripts have been. It would actually mean something, but until anything like that happens, we have to look critically.
No other profit has ever been able to predict either revelation or Jesus in the same exact way and detail. All other profits have been very unspecific. This leads me to assume that Nephi is either written after the fact or Joseph Smith added it in.
Nobody ever gets visions of prophecy this specific, it’s just so difficult to believe. If this was in the bible it would be so much more compelling, though from the points mentioned earlier it still wouldn’t prove anything. But because this doesn’t happen we have sufficient reason to doubt.
The nature of how this book was revealed is very strange as well. Why would God possibly do it in this way, in a way that looks so obviously fraudulent from the outside. If it was discovered and verified, and not taken away, it would mean so much more, and likely make the books accepted by everyone.
The next major problem is the trip to the promise land in the first place that Nephi embarks on with his people. If you wanted this promised land to be America, then you could not have possibly picked a place more annoying and difficult place to sail too.
When Columbus discovered America it took him 33 days of sailing with boats of much better and supreme technology. Here it only says it took Nephi “many many days” which if you take his journey into account, is frankly unbelievable.
Sailing around the entirety of Africa was the shortest route he could have took. Instead it’s believed that he went past Inda, Australia and Japan before settling on south America. This journey for them could easily have been a matter of years.
They also had to deal with food. I saw no mention of them stopping at any of the countries along the way, and assumingly they didn’t because the place they would have stopped first would have been where they discovered the promised land. It is just so difficult to believe. I don’t care if the boat is divinely inspired, because a boat is a boat, and it is still restricted by the same technology and still has to travel the same distance.
Those are my two main objections. But there of course are more.
What is this with Nephi constantly getting annoyed at everyone for having a hardened heart? Does he not realise that they haven’t had the same experiences and visions and communications from God, and therefore their unbelief is warranted. Also considering that these are the people who have seen God, it’s quite concerning that they turn their backs on him after having just met him, what chance does that give us? With Nephi’s really bitter, empathising attitude, it’s easy to see why people would want to chain him up.
There are still things in this book that I would consider immoral. Nephi killing Laban is one of them. God choosing Nephi’s people is another (as that’s racism – you should reveal yourself to everyone) , Nephi stealing all of the stuff from Laban, saying the book of revelation is real, And of course the biggest one, hell.
I was under the impression that LDS hell was different, however everything there points towards the opposite, of it being like the corrupt and evil hell from Christianity.
It’s just someone could reasonably argue that hell isn’t real in the Christian bible, in Nephi 1 Joseph Smith clearly writes:
“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 justice
of which I have spoken.”
Clearly showing hell to be the torture that is laid out and cruelly taught to children. Considering that the minority of the world is Christian, the vast amount of people would be subjected to this fate, it’s actually so disgustingly horrible that it makes it impossible for me to believe God is all loving, even if he is real. Who can possibly blame me for that?
I also don’t like how unclear it is which one of the plates Nephi 1 is even supposed to be. Is it one of the brass ones, or one of the ones he makes later? Was this the history book, or is there another one detailing all the wars and stuff that were mentioned?
There are four books of Nephi, so I suppose I will need to wait until then.
Then of course Nephi needing to testify at the start of his writings that this is the truth is also really strange to me. He was the leader of a large group of people, of course they would have believed him, and he wouldn’t have needed to explain himself. The only good reason for Nephi to write this thing about it being truthful, is in order to make the reader trust him more without actually putting any effort in to make his story more credible.
When I started reading Nephi 1 I hoped for a few things. That it would be interesting, that it would fix the problems of the bible and not have anything in it to make the story any more unbelievable than it already is. This book only did one of those things, because I did find it quite interesting, when it wasn’t ranting about prophesy, I enjoyed the stories.
The book itself has far more entertainment value than the bible to it’s credit, I’m just unsure if that’s because the bible story’s were taught to me repeatedly over and over again to the point where everything I read I’ve heard it already or because it’s the bible is genuinely boring. Likely a mix of both.
Nephi 2 is next! Follow to keep up to date! And of course you can find my full notes on every single chapter here.