Mormonism began in 1820, when Joseph Smith, Jr. purportedly received a vision of two heavenly beings claiming that all churches had become corrupted and that their creeds were abominations. Smith’s divinely ordained duty was to restore the one true church. He claimed three years later an angel, named Moroni, paid him a visit, showing him the location of gold plates containing the true, eternal gospel. Written in “reformed Egyptian” hieroglyphs, this golden book contained the Book of Mormon, which Smith translated with a pair of magic spectacles. Seven years later in 1830, the Mormon church became a recognized entity for the first time.
The Mormons are a growing group which many people have labeled a “Christian denomination.” This is the longstanding position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), and continues to be promoted today (Hickenbotham, 1995, p. 5). Unfortunately, Mormonism bears the hallmarks of a manmade religion, one of which is the reinvention and reinterpretation of an existing religion. Mormonism takes Christianity and reinterprets it. Mormonism’s divergences from true Christianity include: Jesus being Lucifer’s spiritual brother, the denial of the Trinity, and the belief that the faithful will one day become gods. The God of Mormonism is not the one true god of the Universe, but merely one god among many.
Smith once called the Book of Mormon “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion” (Smith, 1902, 4:461). In the introduction of the Book of Mormon, Smith states that it is “the record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas,” which also contains “the fullness of the everlasting gospel.” Any religion centered on a scriptural foundation stands or falls on the accuracy of its sacred text. While the Bible has a wealth of evidence supporting its historical, chronological, and geographical accuracy, the Book of Mormon has been heavily criticized for its inaccuracies. Is the Book of Mormon divine revelation, or is it simply the invention of a gifted storyteller?
One of the problems that plagues the Mormon scriptures is the anachronistic portrayal of various animals in the New World. The most problematic is the portrayal of horses in the Americas in the Book of Mormon, where they appear frequently prior to the age of exploration (1 Nephi 18:25, et al.). Anthropologists are in near-universal agreement that horses had become extinct in the Americas until European explorers reintroduced them to the continent. Scientists have found evidence of horses in the Americas prior to and after the period of time covered by the Book of Mormon, but not during. In addition to a lack of fossil evidence, Bruce MacFaden says, “Their extinction is…suggested by the fact that no horses are known to have been depicted in pre-Columbian art…. Horses were reintroduced into the New World by the Spanish explorers during the sixteenth century” (MacFaden, 1992, p. 3). Janey Dohner notes that the horse was reintroduced to North America by Columbus on his second voyage, while Hernando de Soto reintroduced them to South America in 1539 (Dohner, 2001, p. 313)….
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