Editor’s Note: This excerpt was found on Dear Miss Mormon and the full article can be found at the bottom of article
To [Miss Mormon],
I hope the following helps to keep you motivated and inspired. I hope it is confirmation that Mormon beliefs are justifiable, and deserve to be respected alongside other Christian denominations:
I just read the first 31 pages of the Book of Mormon, and was entranced by 1 Nephi chapters 8 and 10. I feel as thought I could almost stop there, and come away with something. That something is this:
The Book of Mormon should be read by all Christians.
As an Atheist, that’s not the effect I thought the book would have on me. Nevertheless, I can imagine the amount of “push back” Mormons have to face, trying to convince a “Christian” to read it. What a shame. Because it is the most clearly written Christian Biblical Document. If Christians would be willing to read the text, compare it to what they already believe, most would not only agree with it, but would find that it strengthens their faith even further. 1 Nephi 10 provides a greater and more straight forward message than Paul’s letter to the Romans. And Romans is considered to be the definitive New Testament Epistle. The Reformation was based on Romans. But Nephi chapter 10 tops it.
Read the rest at Dear Miss Mormon
14 Replies to “An Atheist’s Response to the First 31 pages of the Book of Mormon”
This is like a vegetarian telling meat-eaters to try meatloaf. They don’t consume it themselves, but it seems like something meat-eaters might like eating.
I read the first 63 pages of the Book of Mormon again in 2011, by request (that’s as far as I got – I was supposed to finish it). I had to stop because in the course of my reading I had written 38 pages of response because there was that much of it that I disagreed with so strongly that I simply couldn’t let it pass. Sure, Christians might-should read the BoM because it isn’t any crazier than what is contained in The Bible (which is all this article says), but the only reason an Atheist would recommend it to someone who doesn’t already have Christian beliefs is if they’re recommending it as a Sci-Fi novel.
Wow. If you found 38 pages to disagree with, you were trying way to hard to be disagreeable. Sad that you couldn’t read with even a slightly open mind set.
I don’t often approach analyzing clams of absolute truth with “an open mind”, especially if it is supposedly a “truth” with eternal ramifications – in that case being anything less than as rigorous as possible is just plain irresponsible. And yes, I had 38 pages of explanations of why I disagreed with what was in the book, including the fallibility of testimony, the experience of hypnagogic hallucinations and lucid dreams, immoral justifications of murder and war (as with Laban), and obvious narrative rather than historical elements, such as Laman and Lemuel being obviously archetyped as villains…
But you’re right. Anyone that reads the book and actually has an in-depth, thoughtful analysis of it rather than simply “Oh, this story makes me feel good.” must obviously be lying.
I don’t analyse clams at all. 🙂
Honestly, I’d say that I was at least as ‘rigorous’ as you and found gospel truths and spiritual confirmation from reading, studying and praying.
1) Fallibility of testimony? Of whose testimony? On what grounds?
2) Dreams issues? There have been dreams throughout all scripture–do you discredit them as well?
3) Laban: If the book is true, your experiences are Nephi’s experiences and your thoughts are not God’s thoughts. If you kept reading, you might also see why the Brass plates were so important. It influenced 1) language, 2) worship, 3) governance, 4) gave history…. (I am no proponent of killing).
4) War: Nobody wants war, but it happens. What is your take that is different from historical, Biblical and Book of Mormon accounts? Is there a moral war. I don’t think there is any mention of war in the first 63 pages–but there is some insight later on.
5) If you want to break the book down in a literary context, there are some awesome articles that will blow your mind. The first person account of Nephi is a narrative and yes, Laman and Lemuel made choices that were ‘villaineque’.
I know you were trying to be condescending, but I do think that if something makes me feel good, gives comfort and inspires and helps me… it can’t be lying…. especially over an expended space of time. Hope you find the truth you are looking for…. even if you don’t think it is in the Book of Mormon.
Perhaps you should. Bivalves are pretty interesting.
1) Joseph Smith’s testimony, as well as that of the 11 witnesses. People can be mistaken, and people can flat-out lie. Especially when in the grip of religious fervor and when giving accounts years after the fact, people’s memories can be distorted and manipulated. That’s likely the case here. In fact, Joseph’s recounting of the first vision changed throughout the years until it became what we read now – particularly the part at which Satan oppresses him. People don’t always have clear minds or clear motives, and it’s not any sort of a stretch to see that testimony has limited use when it comes to discovering the truth.
2) Yes, I dismiss all claims of prophetic dreams in The Bible and in The Book of Mormon, because there has been no good evidence that dreams can be prophetic (and evidence within those books doesn’t count as good).
While we’re on evidence, since it’s obvious that we disagree about what constitutes it, let me explain what it is. I consider good evidence to be predictive patterns garnered by removing the influence of factors that we know cause us to come to results that don’t comport with reality, like fallacies in logic and judgement, bias (and thus testimony), and so forth. Since no evidence like that exists for dreams being prophetic, I can’t accept them as such.
3) I realize that the brass plates were important, but it is extraordinarily problematic to claim that Nephi was morally correct to kill Laban because of a voice in his head. The only way that makes any sense is if you’ve already accepted that the voice is God’s, and that God’s commands are moral, regardless of their content. And accepting either of those points is problematic in other ways that I hope are obvious.
4) I was referring to 13:16-19 in which God favor gets claimed as the reason one group of people is able to overpower another and take their land. This is also rampant in The Bible. It’s a basic “might makes right” claim. We were able to conquer you, so God must have been on our side, so we must have been doing the right thing. It’s a corrupt morality that can only occur if you abdicate your moral decision-making to a god you believe is all-moral (which is one of the problematic implications of the sentence in 3).
5) There are still other articles that suggest that J.S. took a significant amount of the BoM from another book called The Late War. Doesn’t change the fact that the BoM is a story, not a history – which is in large part why this letter-writer claims it is more readable than The Bible. I’m fine accepting that claim, since it has little relevance to the book’s truth value.
I was being sarcastic, yes, because in your first response you decided to make claims about my honesty, which I find both offensive and absurd. That you then thinks it’s in any way relevant to critique my spelling… Anyway, your insistence that something that makes you feel good can’t be lying is patently absurd, and any cursory look for examples would yield them in spades. Honestly, I don’t think you are in any way rigorous, and this claim demonstrates that. Checking yourself for how something makes you feel is not rigorous, it’s insipid. You may have spent more time reading the BoM than I (although I’ve spent plenty – this latest reading was not my first), but time spent does not equate to rigor.
OK, I now believe that you wrote at least 38 pages. True, I shouldn’t have doubted your claims… and thus, deleted from the post. The ‘clams’ remark was in jest. I’ve also heard everything you’ve mentioned. Good luck in your search.
As a pescetarian and proud religion basher, way to nail it. I grew up catholic, and was told “just read the first chapter of the BoM you’ll love it, it’s so much more exciting than the bible!” so I read that first chapter and I feel I’d agree with most if not all in your written response just from my fraction. As for Malty17 having an open mind is easy, its why I don’t cry every time I remember that there’s religion in the world that divides us like zoo animals, and harms social acceptance by saying I’m exclusively correct and your beliefs are nothing compared to mine and my kind. If you don’t believe me reread your comment with an “open mind”.
The only way anyone is going to appreciate the authenticity of the Book of Mormon is 1. Have a belief in God (the God of the Bible preferably), 2. Be open to the message, and then pray with faith that God will answer your enquiry regarding its authenticity. If you are a sincere seeker of truth… the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of it to you… see James 1:5-6.
I’m an atheist. I just read 1 Nephi 8 and 10. I was raised reading the KJV of the Bible. That said, ” Because it is the most clearly written Christian Biblical Document. If Christians would be willing to read the text, compare it to what they already believe, most would not only agree with it, but would find that it strengthens their faith even further” might be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read. I call BS.
I preface this response with the fact I’m a lifelong member of the church (46 years) and my criticism is not meant as a personal attack on the author of this blog or her atheist friend.
First, the fact that the atheist compared 1 Nephi 10 with Paul’s treatise to the Romans is an incorrect association. There is no significant point of contact between the two. To take two separate texts and perhaps find a comparative point, in this case the gentile acceptance of the gospel, ignores the vast dissimilarity as well as the meaning and audience of both texts. There is nothing here to make such a sweeping statement that 1 Nephi 10 tops Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. The two are not analogous. Furthermore a statement like this only alienates Christians who know the content of Romans, and causes the Mormon who latches on to this argument to look uneducated on the supposed comparison.
Second, to write that there are only two real hang-ups to acceptance of Mormonism certainly shows a disengagement with the current debate(s). The statement that one of the issues is because the chapters of the Book of Mormon are not placed within the Bible is not a sound argument; it’s really just silly. It may resonate with those who already believe, but would do nothing to persuade a non-Mormon. In addition, the conclusion of non-acceptance of Mormonism by some because the Book of Mormon is not viewed as an ancient text, but instead as a modern book ignores the historical difficulties. The superstitious nature and gullibility of the three and eight witnesses, no one else seeing the golden plates, Joseph Smith’s polygamy, the translation of the Book of Abraham, and early American influence in the text would certainly play into someone’s assessment of the Book of Mormon, as well as the claimed miracles that are a part of it and of Mormon origins. These two “hang-ups” are unintentional straw men; an over simplification and distortion of the full argument, and should not be used.
While I’m sure the author and her atheist friend were well meaning, these type of unsound arguments do more damage than good; at least among non-Mormons.
You add too and take away from a book that God inspired… judgement awaits those that did such a thing. Not to mention you have defiled the sanctity of marriage, with countless wives and basically religious orgies. You all sicken me.
Remoby, you obviously know very little about The Bible and even less about Mormons. Polygamy is about as biblical as it gets. Remember Solomon and his wives… and his concubines? Regardless, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints doesn’t practice polygamy, and hasn’t for 130 years. Try to know what you’re talking about before you start talking.
This is coming from an Atheist who was raised Mormon. Believe me, if there were anything to your comment I would agree, but it’s just slander composed of hearsay and ignorance.
Congratulations, Dear Miss Mormon! You’ve officially let the world know that other Christians are just as willfully blind as the Mormons. Maybe you didn’t realize it, but that letter is basically making fun of religion in general. How easy it would be to slip the Book of Mormon’s words into the Bible and expect other Christians to follow without question. Please, do yourself a favor and check the facts and inconsistencies of both books. I was once a Mormon and know how difficult it is to discover how misled you are. How brainwashed you are. Here’s another atheist response to the first 31 pages of the Book of Mormon. Even though it might anger you to read, if you are as strong in your faith as you so believe, then it won’t hurt you to read a REAL response, backed by facts. http://postmormonabq.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/a-real-atheists-response-to-the-first-31-pages-of-the-book-of-mormon/