Seth and I have been debating the trustworthiness of Joseph Smith recently, and this is my reply to his latest thoughts on the matter. As always, Seth's quotes will be in quotes and italicized and quotes from other sources will be in quotes and bolded. Hope that helps everyone out figuring out who said what. I will jump in when I feel like it.
OK, I finally got a bit of free time, so time to get off my butt and get moving on this.
Before I start in on the substance of the court proceedings, I think the quote from Hugh Nibley needs to be addressed, since it kind of frames this whole issue and clarifies what exactly is at stake here. Here's the quote as you are using it in your post:
"if this court record is authentic it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith." Hugh Nibley, "The Myth Makers" pg. 246.
Andee, when I first heard this quote from Nibley, it left me scratching my head for a couple reasons.
First, because it seemed so incongruous with other stuff I had read from Hugh Nibley on Joseph Smith.
It just seemed obvious to me that Nibley's testimony of Joseph Smith was a bit deeper than the result of a single court case. His case for Joseph seemed to be built on so much more. For him to state that it would all be nullified by a single court case seemed extremely careless to me.
Secondly, it made no logical sense.
Why would a single court case have the ability to nullify all of Joseph Smith's prophetic claims? Why would the truth of Joseph's message be dependent on a backwoods New York judge? Even if Joseph Smith was guilty, it seemed obvious to me that this would not be remotely sufficient to discredit him as a prophet.
So why would Nibley, in essence, admit that a single conviction would be the "most damning" piece of evidence against Joseph Smith when it clearly couldn't be of such importance?
Seth, I don't really think it matters what Nibley said. His thoughts/opinions on the matter don't change the historical evidence or fact that Joseph Smith was indeed charged and found guilty of fraud using the exact same seer stone he used to "translate" the Book of Mormon. The quote was pretty much an afterthought to my original post. It's not going to change anything.
The reason this is important, as I have mentioned before, is because it shows he wasn't the honorable man the church likes to paint him to be.
Also, I find it funny that you don't think this is "logical" when you are so willing to place belief in things that are a HELL of a lot less logical than this! Look at the seer stone alone! Is that logical? Is anything about the Book of Mormon or the stories in it "logical?" Is it logical that God would choose a man who was convicted of fraud to restore a church on earth?
Far from it.
If God existed, he would be smarter than that. At least... I hope so.
Well, as it so happens, Nibley didn't claim that.
The book that provides the limited quote that you used above Andee is, as we've seen in so many anti-Mormon works, yet another example of a critic deliberately taking a small portion of a quote out of context and in isolation to make someone say something they weren't actually claiming.
Here is the actual FULL quote from Hugh Nibley:
"You knew its immense value as a weapon against Joseph Smith if its authenticity could be established. And the only way to establish authenticity was to get hold of the record book from which the pages had been purportedly torn. After all, you had only Miss Pearsall's word for it that the book ever existed. Why didn't you immediately send he back to find the book or make every effort to get hold of I? Why didn't you "unearth" it, as they later said you did? . . . The authenticity of the record still rests entirely on the confidential testimony of Miss Pearsall to the Bishop. And who was Miss Pearsall? A zealous old maid, apparently: "a woman helper in our mission," who lived right in the Tuttle home and would do anything to assist her superior. The picture I get is that of a gossipy old housekeeper. If this court record is authentic, it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith. Why, then, [speaking to Tuttle] was it not republished in your article in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge after 1891? . . . in 1906 Bishop Tuttle published his Reminiscences of a Missionary Bishop in which he blasts the Mormons as hotly as ever. . . yet in the final summary of his life's experiences he never mentions the story of the court record - his one claim to immortal fame and the gratitude of the human race if it were true!"
(Nibley "The Myth Makers", 246)
When Nibley wrote his quotes he was under the impression that the court records would never be found. He was wrong. They were.
Joseph Smith was indeed found guilty of fraud by charging people money to find buried treasures on their farm land with his magical seer stone. Nibley's opinion on the matter doesn't change the fact that Joseph Smith was guilty of fraud. Nibley simply didn't see it coming, and neither did the other church apologists. You can't argue with the proof. It happened.
Not only did it happen, the church now knows it and chooses to keep this from the members and investigators of the church. This is dishonest and fraudulent in the opinions of others. In order for someone to make a "logical" decision about what to put their faith in, they need to have all the facts. The church consistently keeps those facts out of reach of the faithful and promises them than anything negative about the church is coming directly from the devil. This is a LIE. A Lie lie lie. We are not talking about theories, we are talking about facts that be proven! Is this something a true church would do? Nope.
In the court record Joseph Smith confessed that "for three years" prior to 1826 he had used a magic stone placed in his hat to find treasures or lost property, placing his money-digging activities from 1823 to 1826. Mormon histories indicate that a heavenly messenger revealed the presence of gold plates on September 21, 1823. Joseph Smith was conning overly optimistic treasure seekers out of their money at the very time he claimed that an angel revealed to him that gold plates lay buried near his home. He continued these deceptive practices for at least three of the four years after God was supposedly preparing him to receive the gold plates. These facts undermine the credibility of Mormonism's first prophet and founder. (Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, Signature Books, 2004, pp. 80-86)Do you understand that at the very time he was supposedly chosen by God to restore his church he was in the middle of conning people out of their money? Is that something a true prophet would even consider? Wouldn't that piss God off?
God wouldn't have chosen a con man and a liar to be a prophet because he wasn't trustworthy.
I also find it telling that the church isn't honest to it's members and investigators about this particular event. They don't talk about it and pretend it never happened so people don't start thinking. In Mormonism (as well as other religions), thinking is bad. Once you start being logical and using your common sense you see all the little signs and evidences that it's a bunch of hogwash.
I know that's a long quote, but you need to read it carefully.
What Nibley is doing here is basically taunting Episcopalian Bishop Daniel S. Tuttle for not actually using the trial record that he had. He was questioning why he would do that if it was so important.
Basically, his statement about it being "damning" was merely said in a mocking tone, and referred only to the specific argument Tuttle was trying to make. Basically, this isn't even close to an admission by Nibley that a conviction would be sufficient to discredit Joseph Smith.
All it is, is an apologist having some fun at the expense of an anti-Mormon writer who had not yet produced the documents he was boasting of.
So let me be clear here Andee. The result of this limited debate topic does not prove anything about Joseph Smith one way or the other.
It proves that Joseph Smith was guilty of being a fraud. That shows the true character of the man who was caught in more lies and half-truths than most Mormons even dream about.
The charge that Joseph was known to hunt treasure with 'peep' or 'seer' stones, etc., was serious enough that Mormon scholar Francis W. Kirkham stated that if the court record could be found, it would show that the Mormon Church was false: "'Careful study of all facts regarding this alleged confession of Joseph Smith in a court of law that he had used a seer stone to find hidden treasure for purposes of fraud, must come to the conclusion that no such record was ever made, and therefore, is not in existence . . . "'If any evidence had been in existence that Joseph Smith had used a seer stone for fraud and deception, and especially had he made this confession in a court of law as early as 1826, or four years before the Book of Mormon was printed, and this confession was in a court record, it would have been impossible for him to have organized the restored Church.' "Later, in the same book, Mr. Kirkham states: "'. . . [I]f a court record could be identified, and if it contained a confession by Joseph Smith which revealed him to be a poor, ignorant, deluded, and superstitious person unable himself to write a book of any consequence, and whose Church could not endure because it attracted only similar persons of low mentality if such a court record confession could be identified and proved, then it follows that his believers must deny his claimed divine guidance which led them to follow him. . . . How could he be a prophet of God, the leader of the Restored Church to these tens of thousands, if he had been superstitious fraud which the pages from a book declared he confessed to be? . . . ' "Well, in spite of 140 years of silence, the records did surface. Rev. Wesley Walters discovered the documents in the basement of the Chenango County, New York, jailhouse at Norwich, N.Y. in 1971. The records, affidavits, and other data show conclusively that Joseph Smith was arrested, went to trial, was found guilty as an imposter in the Stowell matter of "glass-looking." It is not a matter of debate, opinion or religious preference. It is a proven historical fact.
"Initially Mormons denied that Joseph ever participated in 'money-digging' activities, saying that would invalidate his claim as a prophet. Now that indisputable evidence confirms that Joseph was a convicted 'money- digger' Mormons have taken a 'so what' attitude. At least one says, now that the evidence proves that Joseph was a 'money-digger' that it really doesn’t matter. (What could a BYU professor say?) Mormon scholar Marvin Hill says:
"'There may be little doubt now, as I have indicated elsewhere, that Joseph Smith was brought to trial in 1826 on a charge, not exactly clear, associated with money digging.' [Fawn] Brodie’s thesis that the prophet grew from necromancer to prophet assumes that the two were mutually exclusive, that if Smith were a money-digger he could not have been religiously sincere.
'This does not necessarily follow. Many believers active in their churches, were money-diggers in New England and western New York in this period. Few contemporaries regard these money-diggers as irreligious, only implying so if their religious views seemed too radical . . . For the historian interested in Joseph Smith the man, it does not seem incongruous for him to have hunted for treasure with a seer stone and then to use with full faith to receive revelations from the Lord.'
So, if we are being "logical" we would note that God chose someone who is a convicted fraud to dig up golden plates and translate them with the same seer stone he used to break the law? Quite a leap if you ask me. Not very logical at all.
In fact, Joseph could have been totally making up his spiritual gifts with Josiah Stowell, and still have had a turnaround in his life such that his work on the Book of Mormon was 100% bona fide.So, are you admitting that you were wrong and that Joseph Smith was indeed found guilty of fraud? It seemed in our last conversation you didn't believe he was proven to be found guilty and that there was no evidence whatsoever of this.
Not that I'm claiming that you are putting all your eggs in this one basket.
You have a lot of reasons for rejecting the LDS Church, this being only one of them.
I'm certain that even if you have to admit that I'm right at the end of this debate topic, it will not have too huge of an impact on your overall conviction of Mormonism being false.
Just realize that the same is true for me. Losing this particular debate won't change much in my mind either about the overall claims of Mormonism.
One final housekeeping issue.
I would ask that we keep the Nauvoo Expositor and any other specific incidents you think invalidate Joseph's overall character out of this limited debate. We are here to discuss his seerstone activities and that alone. I can go back to your earlier post and leave something on the Expositor later. With that out of the way, on to the rest of the article.
We agree then, that he was found guilty of fraud?
Why do you want to keep the Nauvoo Expositor and any other specific incidents out of it? I don't understand the reason you would like to do that? Those are more examples of Joseph Smith lying, conning and manipulating people into doing things they normally wouldn't do.
He *could* have had a turn-around, but due to the historical evidence that Joseph was caught in one lie after another I would have to say that isn't likely. At all. As a matter of fact, it is my belief that the church started as an afterthought. I believe Joseph wanted to create the Book of Mormon and the magical story behind it because he wanted to sell the copyright and make money. It was only after he realized that his status as a "prophet" could gain him money, power and any woman he could get his hands on that he went further with the con.
I don't think this is about the seer stone abilities alone. It is my opinion that this debate is about Joseph's trustworthiness. Why he shouldn't be trusted as he is. Why people should know the entire story about the church instead of what the leaders of the church choose to tell them.
Even more evidence that the whole thing is a con is how the Book of Mormon itself is plagiarized and full of historical inaccuracies. Steel? Chariots? Barley? They didn't exist in America at the time the Book of Mormon supposedly took place. This means nothing to you? Why not?
I have a question for you...
When you learned of the way the Book of Mormon was translated (by seer stone) were you surprised? Were you taught that when you were first learning about the church from your local leaders and church texts? Were you shown paintings and drawings of how things REALLY happened? I am willing to say no. You were not. Why is that? Why is it that they are so afraid to be honest about the truth? Because they know people will come to their senses. That's why.
I don't understand how you can put your trust in a man who was found to be lying so many times?
If you bought a used car from someone and it turned out to be a piece of crap, would you go back to him and buy another car? Would you take their word for it that the engine was rebuilt, the car was being maintained and only driven by an old lady on Sundays to church? Would you trust the company that owned the car lot and employed the salesman when they told you to ignore the things other people say about them because they are all lies?
This isn't much different than that.
You are putting your trust into Joseph Smith and the corporation that wants you to keep trusting him. "Don't pay attention to the man behind the curtain. Read what we tell you to read, believe what we tell you to believe, and give us 10% of your money."
Again, if we are being "logical" about this we would look at the evidence and see it for what it is. Another fraud by Joseph Smith.
The Bible (which I believe to be another work of fiction, but for the sake of argument) says this is how you can determine a true prophet:
If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. -Deuteronomy 18:22Lets take a look at some of the prophecies Joseph gave to determine if he was a true prophet:
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. -Deuteronomy 13:1-3
1. The Lamanites would be converted and their skin would become "white and delightsome." This was of course changed later to a more politically correct statement of "pure and delightsome." Was the original translation wrong or was the church pressured to change things to make themselves look more accepting to blacks? Doesn't change the fact that the prophecy is 100% wrong. The color of one's skin doesn't change in relation to the church they belong to or the beliefs they hold. This is bullshit. Racist bullshit. Plain and simple.
2. The copyright of the Book of Mormon was to be sold in Toronto, Canada. Joseph Smith sent Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery to Toronto, Canada, to sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon in response to the following revelation that he claimed to have received from God through his “seer stone.” Looks like the seer stone was once again not working as it should have been. Maybe Joseph just wanted to marry their wives while they were away, huh? He's a prince like that.
3. New York, Albany and Boston would be destroyed if they didn't accept the Mormon gospel. Section 84:114 –115, Doctrine & Covenants, “Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, September 22 and 23, 1832”:
History records that Joseph Smith and Bishop Newell K. Whitney went to these cities in response to these two verses. There is no record of these cities ever receiving the Mormon gospel during the life of Newell K. Whitney or Joseph Smith. In fact, the Mormon church is still very small in those cities. If these verses were truly from God, these cities should have been destroyed by now.
114. Nevertheless, let the bishop go unto the city of New York, also to the city of Albany, and also to
the city of Boston, and warn the people of those cities with the sound of the gospel, with a Loud voice, of the desolation and utter abolishment which await them if they do reject these things.
115. For if they do reject these things the hour of their judgment is nigh, and their house shall be left unto them desolate.
4. Saints who kept the word of wisdom were promised health, strength, wisdom and knowledge. The fact is, many Mormons who obey the Word of Wisdom to the letter have ill health and the destroying angel does not pass them by. Mormons die like any other people-group. We think of the many Mormons in and around Saint George, Utah, who died of the effects of the radioactive fallout from the nuclear tests in Nevada. Why didn’t the destroying angel pass them by?
5. Christ was to return by Feb. 14, 1891.
History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 182, February 14, 1835:
“President Smith then stated that the meeting had been called, because God had commanded it; and it was made known to him by visions and by the Holy Spirit. He then gave a relation of some of the circumstances attending us while journeying to Zion--our trials, sufferings: and said God had not designed all this for nothing, but He had it in remembrance yet; and it was the will of God that those who went to Zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh--even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.”Jesus Christ should have returned by February 14, 1891.
6. The failure of Joseph Smith's anti-bank:
“On the 2nd of November the brethren at Kirtland drew up certain articles of agreement, preparatory to the organization of a banking institution, to be called the ‘Kirtland Safety Society.’ ” History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 467, November 2, 1836
When the articles of agreement were adopted, this institution was officially named the “Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company.” Ibid. p. 471, January 2, 1837
Joseph Smith stated, “It is wisdom and according to the mind of the Holy Spirit, that you should call at Kirtland [Ohio], and receive counsel and instruction upon those principles that are necessary to further the great work of the Lord, and to establish the children of the kingdom, according to the oracles of God; as they are had among us: and further, we invite the brethren from abroad, to call on us, and take stock in our Safety Society; and we would remind them also of the sayings of Isaiah, contained in the 60th chapter and more particularly the 9th and 17th verses,…Also 62nd chapter, 1st verse…” Ibid. p.473.
Warren Parrish, cashier at the bank and a confidant of Joseph Smith stated, “I have listened to [Joseph Smith] with feelings of no ordinary kind, when he declared that the audible voice of God, instructed him to establish a banking-anti banking institution, who like Aaron’s rod shall swallow up all other banks (the Bank of Monroe excepted,) and grow and flourish, and spread from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and survive when all others should be laid in ruins.” Plainsville Republican, February 22, 1838, as quoted in Conflict at Kirtland, p. 297, by LDS writer Max Parkin.
The anti-bank officially failed in the summer of 1837. Joseph Smith recorded, “…I resigned my office in the ‘Kirtland Safety Society,’ disposed of my interest therein, and withdrew from the institution; being fully aware, after so long an experiment, that no institution of the kind, established upon just and righteous principles for a blessing not only to the Church but the whole nation, would be suffered to continue its operations in such an age of darkness, speculation and wickedness.” History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 497, July 7, 1837.
7. The inhabitants of the moon and the sun: Oliver B. Huntington Journal, 1837, Book 14. Original at Huntington Library, San Marino, California. Also found in The Young Woman’s Journal, published by the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Associations of Zion, 1892, Vol. 3, pp. 263-264.
“Inhabitants of the Moon are more of a uniform size than the inhabitants of the Earth, being about 6 feet in height. They dress very much like the Quaker Style & are quite general in Style, or the one fashion of dress. They live to be very old; comeing (sic) generally, near a thousand years. This is the description of them as given by Joseph the Seer, and he could “See” whatever he asked the Father in the name of Jesus to see.”
“As far back as 1837, I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do, that they live generally to near the age of a 1000 years. He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style....”
The evidence is conclusive that Joseph Smith said it. Brigham Young confirmed it on July 24, 1870:
“Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon?...when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the ignorant of their fellows. So it is in regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p. 271).
These are just 7 of the 50 prophicies Joseph Smith gave that were 100% false. How can you believe a prophet of God could be wrong so many times?
On July 20, 1969 man set foot on the moon, and there was no trace of any beings ever having been there before.
Joseph Smith wasn't trustworthy, and neither is the church that continues to cover up all of the wrong things he did during his life. This goes for many other prophets and church leaders as well.
You are more than correct by stating that this is just one of hundreds of reasons the Mormon Church isn't true in my eyes. I would love to debate them all with you if you are up to it.
How about the next topic being about discrimination? Blacks and the priesthood, women and the priesthood, homosexuality and proposition 8. Are you up for it? Why would God (again, not that there is one) want the people in his one true church to be so ugly and disrespectful to certain groups of people? Why would he do something so wrong? Is it because God is an asshole? Is it because God is a racist, sexist and homophobic?
Till next time...
P.S. I will fix the word limit in my comments for ya. Didn't even think about that!
P.P.S. I can't figure out how to do that. I have been looking at the settings on the blog for a while now and I can't seem to find the option. I might not be able to change the word limit :( Bummer.