Thursday, February 10, 2011
Why Some Critics have Opposed the Book of Mormon
As a believing Latter-day Saint scientist criticisms of the Book of Mormon have been of great concern to me. Although coming from a variety of sources, some of the most damaging objections directed against the Book of Mormon have emanated from the Smithsonian Institution. This national establishment is America’s premier institution of science. Consequently, statements made by its scientists are usually given strong credibility. Many thousands of people over the years have contacted the Smithsonian asking if information relating to science in the Book of Mormon is true or not. Questions asked have come from both LDS (Latter-day Saint, commonly known as Mormons) and non-LDS individuals. The written response to people’s questions, including the response they wrote to me, has been sent out as a form letter. I here quote part of the statement sent to me by the Public Affairs Director of Smithsonian’s Department of Anthropology – which is apparently the same as that sent to all who have requested similar information. “Your recent inquiry concerning the Smithsonian Institution’s alleged use of the Book of Mormon as a scientific guide has been received in the Office of Communications. The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide. The Smithsonian Institution has never used it in archaeological research and any information that you have received to the contrary is incorrect.” It was also stated in the form letter I received that Smithsonian’s archaeologists have found no evidence to support the claims made in the Book of Mormon. This hardly is an endorsement of the book.
In 1998 the Smithsonian Institution’s response to public enquiries was shortened to that presented above. However, their earlier response was more detailed, and listed a number of objections to the Book of Mormon. Their objections have been repeated by many critics and are still used today. Some of the scientific objections to this book are presented below. They will be discussed item by item.
1. The physical type of the American Indian is basically Mongoloid
2. Iron, steel, glass, linen and silk were not used in the New World before 1492
3. American Indians had no wheat or barley before 1492
4. American Indians had no cattle, pigs, horses, donkeys or camels before 1492
5. Camels and horses were in the Americas, along with the bison, mammoth, and mastodon, but all these animals became extinct around 10,000 B.C.
These topics will be discussed in subsequent blogs.