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 Post subject: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 1:17 pm 
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A simple enough question. -- By "atheist" I do not mean a person who is
entirely devoid of superstitions, or of notions of guilt, conscience, truth, etc.
I merely mean a writer who did not believe in the biblical God, and therefore
feared no Divine retribution in composing a fake latter day revelation.

1. Could an atheist know enough about the biblical religion to mimic it?
2. Would an atheist care enough about that religion to spend time mimicking it?

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 5:59 pm 
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Sure. Why not? Mark Hofmann did things like that, and he was secretly an atheist. Someone like him could have invented a Book of Mormon. He invented plenty of other stuff and he was devilishly skilled.

I wouldn't say Joseph Smith was an atheist, however. He believed in God, I think, even if he didn't believe much in the Bible except when he thought it meshed with his own conceptions.

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:19 pm 
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The Dude wrote:
Sure. Why not? Mark Hofmann did things like that, and he was secretly an atheist. Someone like him could have invented a Book of Mormon. He invented plenty of other stuff and he was devilishly skilled.

I wouldn't say Joseph Smith was an atheist, however. He believed in God, I think, even if he didn't believe much in the Bible except when he thought it meshed with his own conceptions.



Presumably there was a time that Hoffman believed the religion he was in. If not,
then I cannot fathom his reason for having studied it so closely. Unless perhaps
it was because his family and associates had forced him to do so, in his youth.

At any rate, the seeming dilemma that was presented to me, by a TBM recently,
goes like this:

An atheist would never have learned all the
details of restorationist Christian religion in
the first place, and would have had no
motivation to promote it.

A believer, on the other hand, could have never
written latter day "scripture" unless he knew it
to be true -- because a believer would never
blaspheme by making up false sacred narratives.

At first glance, those explanations seem to rule out anything except a pious
(and true) origin for the Book of Mormon, D&C, etc.

On the other hand, there are piles of old non-canonical "scriptures," which are
so absurd, or contradictory (or both) that they cannot possibly all be "true."

Either believers compose "fake scriptures," or the non-believers are doing it,
and the seeming dilemma mentioned above would thus be a false dichotomy.

Still, it does seem a bit weird -- to think that an unbeliever (or atheist) would
have spent all the time and effort necessary to bring forth the Book of Mormon for -- what?

UD

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:39 pm 
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Book of Mormon from an atheist? I think it is a possiblity. Even if one figureed out who the author was,say Joseph Smith, there would be no way to be sure if he was an athiest or not. But your question is more general and does not demand knowing that information.

I have read a fair amount of Paul Tillich. He could be considered an atheist of a sort, at least if one limits theism to some specific concepts of God. That did not stop him from thinking deeply about what the ideas mean and how they are used. He is broadly knowledgeble about the history of Christian thought as well. Of course he was not the sort of atheist who thinks the concept of God is empty or just manipulation. For Tillich the word God represents something which is real. (though not a miracle worker or perhaps very personal)

If the author of the Book of Mormon was an atheist then it would be of the sort which sees some deeper truer meaning behind the God images. One might wonder if there is any clue in the fact the Jewish self described atheist, Harold Bloom admired Joseph Smith.(with the working assumption he was the author of the Book of Mormon and the rest of the material founding Mormonism) doesn't proove anything but then Bloom would be another example of a person deeply involved at times in understanding religious thought and stories but lacking a belief in God.


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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:08 pm 
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huckelberry wrote:
...
If the author of the Book of Mormon was an atheist then it would be of the sort which
sees some deeper truer meaning behind the God images.
...


I'm trying to picture some atheist who would relentlessly pound into his
reader's head the notion that Jesus Christ was God --- and that a belief
in that statement was necessary for eternal happiness. What would be
that atheistic writer's motivation in promoting such theology?

1. Simple curiosity -- to see if he could actually start and sustain a delusion.

2. Revenge -- an intellectual need to "get back" at religionists for their acts.

3. Power -- a hope to gain status, fame, and maybe money from the delusion

4. Misguided zeal -- a hope to manipulate some good results from the hoax.


I'm also trying to frame this question in a modern day setting. I myself
have been accused of being an atheist -- so why might I want to write
and promulgate a second Koran?

1. I know a great deal about Arab history and wish to participate in it.

2. I wish to reform Islam into a more benign social movement.

3. I hope to gain power and wealth from my "new" Koran.

4. _________________________ (fill in the blank)


I'm still a bit mystified about this matter. Although I promote the S/R
theory of Book of Mormon origins, I do not think Sidney Rigdon was an atheist.
Solomon Spalding became an atheist (or at least a Deist) -- but had
no known reason for wanting people to accept Jesus as their God.

???

UD

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:25 pm 
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Dale, I can see the idea that the Book of Mormon is trying to teach Jesus as Christ. However it may be possible that that idea is enough of a cultural given that all the effort there is for another perhaps not unrelated purpose. There is enough cultural utopianism in the book to suggest some interest in that direction. The early Mormon leaders thought in terms of developing and new and utopian society. That idealist purpose has some possible connection with a less idealistic matter of extension of person power and influence.


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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:34 am 
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UD:

Quote:
I'm trying to picture some atheist who would relentlessly pound into his reader's head the notion that Jesus Christ was God --- and that a belief in that statement was necessary for eternal happiness. What would be that atheistic writer's motivation in promoting such theology?


I think the term "atheist" has a different connotation today than in the early 1800's. Very few people then fell into the category of what we think of as an "atheist" today--rejecting the idea of God as one might reject the idea of the tooth fairy, or even someone who views religion as evil. I doubt that Spalding was inwardly hostile to religion but rather very probably acknowledged its virtues whether or not he accepted the existence of the Biblical God at the end of his life.

So even if Spalding had deistic leanings toward the end of his life, I would imagine he was still much closer to what we think of as a theist rather than what we think of as an atheist.

Of course the answer is relatively simple if Spalding supplied the majority of the civil content & battle descriptions while Rigdon supplied the theology. This seems to be what the witnesses claim happened.

Quote:
1. Simple curiosity -- to see if he could actually start and sustain a delusion.

2. Revenge -- an intellectual need to "get back" at religionists for their acts.

3. Power -- a hope to gain status, fame, and maybe money from the delusion

4. Misguided zeal -- a hope to manipulate some good results from the hoax.


If Spalding supplied the Christian content (or even some of it), again, I suggest he was not hostile to Christianity. Ambivalent, perhaps, but I doubt if he was hostile to it. If that is true, then he very likely understood the religious climate he was attempting to market to and played to it. I doubt that Spalding supplied the overtly Christian material, however.

If Smith produced the Book of Mormon then one has to wonder what his state of mind really was. Do we go with Peter Ingersol's perspective that Smith was just seeing how gullible the damned fools were (in which case he seems not to believe any of it) or was it more like the perspective of David Whitmer where Smith was something of a pious, fallen prophet.

If one is to believe the claims J. C. Bennett makes in his History of the Saints about Smith's treatment of women, his desire for power, and his methods for protecting himself from exposure, one is then inclined to side with Peter Ingersol. But was Smith an atheist? I still doubt that.

Quote:
I'm also trying to frame this question in a modern day setting. I myself
have been accused of being an atheist -- so why might I want to write and promulgate a second Koran?

1. I know a great deal about Arab history and wish to participate in it.

2. I wish to reform Islam into a more benign social movement.

3. I hope to gain power and wealth from my "new" Koran.

4. _________________________ (fill in the blank)


Aren't any of the above possible? It's pretty difficult to look back in history and jump inside someone's mind to understand their motivations, but it's not very difficult to look back and see the result.

Quote:
I'm still a bit mystified about this matter. Although I promote the S/R theory of Book of Mormon origins, I do not think Sidney Rigdon was an atheist. Solomon Spalding became an atheist (or at least a Deist) -- but had no known reason for wanting people to accept Jesus as their God.


Works out nicely if Spalding supplies the secular context (but not entirely devoid of religion, virtues or morals) and maybe a little anti-Masonry, while Rigdon supplies the blatantly Christian doctrine, and Smith throws in a few self-fulfilling prophecies and dreams from his father.

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:56 am 
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Roger wrote:
...
Works out nicely if Spalding supplies the secular context (but not entirely devoid
of religion, virtues or morals) and maybe a little anti-Masonry, while Rigdon supplies
the blatantly Christian doctrine, and Smith throws in a few self-fulfilling prophecies
and dreams from his father.


The problem for me, is that I'm just now really getting into the texts (as you already
know from the Mormon Heretic blog). After years of glancing at this stuff in a sort '
of superficial way, I'm actually trying to determine what sentences in the Book of Mormon
Spalding could have written -- and which ones he couldn't have written.

In trying to understand his use of language, I've put his "Roman story" and his
c.1812 draft letter together into a single web-page, and am comparing that text
with the Book of Mormon (mostly Mosiah, Ether and the second half of Alma).

What I'm coming up with is a bit puzzling -- I think that Spalding wrote a good
deal of the "religious" part of the Book of Mormon, and that Christian Nephites were his
invention, along with the two Almas, Abinadi, kings Benjamin, Mosiah & Noah,
etc. In other words, I think that Spalding composed the basic structure of
Mosiah-Alma-Helaman, and that he wrote much of Ether.

However, in looking at his three-page lettter (as well as other references) I've
determined that in later life he was a Deist of the Tom Paine school. Possibly
a very detached Unitarian, but certainly not a Trinitarian and certainly not a
believer in the Christian Gospel as we generally understand it today.

In looking at his Roman story, I see that Spalding was not afraid to engage in
thinly-disguised satire of Christians -- and, to some extent, of Christianity itself.
He was also not afraid to speak of fictional scriptures and to go so far as to
compose excerpts from fictional ancient American scriptures.

I have the uneasy feeling that the absurd depictions of Shiz, Ammon and
the brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon are essentially religious satire,
not far removed from the more overt religious spoofs we see in Spalding's
Roman story.

But I do not think that Sidney Rigdon recognized the satire -- I think he took
it all in as deadly serious (even sacred) stuff.

So, where does Spalding the satirical Deist leave off, and Rigdon the fanatical
religionist begin? In some places, the Book of Mormon text appears to be something like
a 50%-50% mixture of their two voices. And I have the string suspicion, that
without Rigdon's input, that the Spalding original would have been a barely
disguised, sardonic "mock-epic" story, meant for Deists and Unitarians to
snicker at -- and for gullible Presbyterians to swallow as "real."

I can only hope that I am wrong about all of this.

UD

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:58 am 
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Is there any chance Spalding could have been a universalist? I've always been intrigued by the idea that Joseph Smith was a closet universalist, but I don't see those ideas reflected in the Book of Mormon. I do think a closet universalist could have written something like the Book of Mormon if he felt it would improve the religion of the day.

Of course my bias may be that even as a Mormon convert to Catholicism I lean a bit towards universalism myself. At least I hope that everyone will eventually be saved.


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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:20 am 
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UD:

Quote:
I think that Spalding wrote a good deal of the "religious" part of the Book of Mormon, and that Christian Nephites were his invention, along with the two Almas, Abinadi, kings Benjamin, Mosiah & Noah,


How far are you willing to credit the "religious" part to Spalding? At some point you come into conflict with the witnesses who claim there was no religious content in MF. My theory is that Spadling could have written within a general religious context without his neighbors considering it "religious material" as compared to the blatantly religious sections of the final Book of Mormon. Thus Spalding may have created the idea of Christianized Nephites but Rigdon developed the idea into what we have today.

Whoever revised the Isaiah sections was willing to rework the text around the preconceived notion that it was deficient in a certain area--that it had been poorly translated--and that he, probably Rigdon, was able to restore it to its original purity. So if Rigdon was revising the KJV based on a preconceived notion of restoring a faulty text to purity, why not do the same with a faulty or incomplete Spalding text? This would seem to agree with a 50-50 Spalding/Rigdon ratio since Rigdon would have likely been revising more than just italicized words in MF.

Quote:
And I have the string suspicion, that without Rigdon's input, that the Spalding original would have been a barely disguised, sardonic "mock-epic" story, meant for Deists and Unitarians to snicker at -- and for gullible Presbyterians to swallow as "real."


I think that is probably correct. It would certainly explain witness comments who seem to describe Spalding's MF as humorous in places.

You mention an "uneasy feeling" and that you can only hope you are wrong about this... why? What is it that makes you uneasy?

All the best!

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:37 am 
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BartBurk wrote:
Is there any chance Spalding could have been a universalist?
...


In his Roman story Spalding gives a brief place for Universalism,
disguised as American Indian beliefs regarding the "Great Spirit."

What that says about his personal beliefs, I do not know. Universalism
was brought over from England during Spalding's lifetime. It would
have still been a relatively new religious phenomenon when Spalding
was writing his fiction.

After his late 1812 move to Pennsylvania Spalding probably came in
contact with followers of the Prophet Abel M. Sarjent, whose career
began just south of Pittsburgh. Sarjent was once the editor of the
first Universalist periodical in America:

Image

But I doubt Spalding was anything like an active Universalist member.
He evidently took an interest in the various religious movements he
encountered -- but I think it was just that, "interest" and not an active
"involvement."

There is an anti-Universalist (and anti-Unitarian) message in the Book of Mormon;
but both Smith and Rigdon evolved into semi-Universalists with their
"vision of the three degrees of glory" -- a sort of Swendenborgian
universalism, I'd call it.

UD

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:29 am 
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Roger wrote:
...
How far are you willing to credit the "religious" part to Spalding? At some point you
come into conflict with the witnesses who claim there was no religious content in MF.


My guess is that the Conneaut people were mostly exposed to what the Mormons
call the "Book of Lehi," and that its story involved northern Israelite tribesmen
migrating to the Americas, across Asia, at about the time of King Josiah of Judah.
Those northerners who had not been carried off by the Assyrians came under
Josiah's religious influence -- but perhaps Spalding envisioned a few of them
taking off for new lands, and retaining their northern "idolatry." Their story would
have not been "religious" in the same way that the Lehite story is "religious."

But Spalding moved on to Pennsylvania, and I think it was while he was living
there that he expanded and revised his Israelite Indians story -- to center upon
proto-Christian Nephites. This evolution of his story would have never met the
eyes of his Conneaut neighbors --- but might have met the very interested eyes
of a young and impressionable Sidney Rigdon.

Quote:
My theory is that Spadling could have written within a general religious context
without his neighbors considering it "religious material" as compared to the blatantly
religious sections of the final Book of Mormon. Thus Spalding may have created the
idea of Christianized Nephites but Rigdon developed the idea into what we have today.


Well, that is a sub-theory to be tested as we delve into comparing the texts,
and attempting to sort out the Spalding original from the Rigdon expansion.
However, my study of the texts is presenting me with a more complex situation.

Quote:
Whoever revised the Isaiah sections was willing to rework the text around the
preconceived notion that it was deficient in a certain area--that it had been poorly
translated--and that he, probably Rigdon, was able to restore it to its original purity.


Yes -- true. And yet we find a quote from Isaiah presented in the Abinadi account,
which is integral to the Book of Mormon storyline -- and, I think, a Spalding literary device. If
Spalding got the "ball rolling" with Isaiah providing messianic forecasting, then
somehow his beginning in that direction was greatly amplified by Rigdon. It is a
sub-theory that never crossed my mind until recently.

Quote:
So if Rigdon was revising the KJV based on a preconceived notion of restoring a faulty
text to purity, why not do the same with a faulty or incomplete Spalding text? This
would seem to agree with a 50-50 Spalding/Rigdon ratio since Rigdon would have
likely been revising more than just italicized words in MF.


Perhaps -- but I think we must attribute this textual revision work to a young Rigdon,
to a Rigdon who was still a follower of Alexander Campbell and a self-identified
Baptist. That young Rigdon was not then actively planning to foist a Golden Bible
upon a gullible populace. So, I'm still trying to fathom his motives, in spending time
with Spalding's writings. Rigdon must have been addicted to them -- but why?

Quote:
You mention an "uneasy feeling" and that you can only hope you are wrong about this...
why? What is it that makes you uneasy?
...


It is a branching off from the main S/R theory that has little (if any) supporting evidence.
I'm cautious not to make the already complicated authorship theory even MORE complex
and LESS understandable to the uninformed reader.

But my working hypothesis also speculates that Spalding was writing fake-scripture
as an obscure form of satire -- a satire that probably never could be sold to the public,
even if it were disguised as ancient American history.

Look at it this way:

------ Spalding's motivations ---------> ??? <------- Rigdon's motivations -------

Somehow the two men's interests come to an intersection, in the (revised) Book of Mormon text.
But why?

why? why? why?

UD

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:35 am 
These are really interesting ideas. I think that a very religious person who became an atheist would have the knowledge. There is also that class of atheist who doesn't trust the masses to behave well if everyone learns the truth. Atheism is a secret for the 'elect' while religion is used to control the underclasses (and women!).


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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:34 pm 
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Danna wrote:
These are really interesting ideas. I think that a very religious person who became an atheist would have the knowledge. There is also that class of atheist who doesn't trust the masses to behave well if everyone learns the truth. Atheism is a secret for the 'elect' while religion is used to control the underclasses (and women!).



Solomon Spalding's hero appears to have been Tom Paine. There are traces of Paine's
thought in both the Roman story and in the Book of Mormon (see I. W. Riley's book).
His contemporaries viewed Paine as irreligious or atheistic -- but that hardly describes
the man. Whatever his views of God were, Paine subjected them first of all to Reason.

The freemasonry of the early 19th century allowed for members from different religions
(not just from different Christian sects) -- and thus was something vaguely like Deism
or Tom Paine's mildly religious views. And yet Spalding's wife recalled that he rejected
freemasonry. So, if Spalding was a Deist, it was not of masonic version.

I presume that Spalding evolved away from Calvinism during his brief tenure as a
Presbyterian elder, in Cherry valley, NY. He was actually a Congregationalist, but
the two churches had agreed to cooperate in the west, and thus Spalding found
himself the most educated man in a pastorless Presbyterian congregation. He
evidently served as its presiding elder for a while, and then suffered local disgrace
and moved several miles away. He was bitter towards the ordained pastor who
eventually replaced him.That's the last we hear of Spalding's religious activities.

His Roman story shows him to have been a very poor imitation of Jonathan Swift
and other satirical writers of that period -- as well as a literary fraud of the
MacPherson sort (of "Ossian" infamy). In other words, Spalding was not only
ready to create fictional worlds, mimicking "Gulliver's Travels;" he was also
willing to mask such fictional creations with some verisimilitude -- giving them
the surface appearance, at least, of true historical records.

Operating under that pseudo-historical guise, Spalding was free to express his
disdain or hostility to various social and religious institutions. He was interested
in what factors caused a social decline -- and what might have led to the
extinction of America's previous civilization (the ancient mound-builders).

Spalding betrays a fascination with false religion as a means of keeping a society
"moral" or cohesive. Had he been a freemason, he might have looked to that
organization's quasi-religious teachings as supplying an American priesthood.
But, having rejected freemasonry as well as Calvinism, Spalding was left with
Tom Paine --- and Paine supplies no deep-rooted human social cohesion.

If my hypothesis is correct, Spalding was ready to foist a certain kind of
anti-Calvinist, anti-Universalist, anti-masonic religion upon people, as a means
of social control -- to preserve a young and vulnerable republic that had
already rejected a state church. At the same time, Spalding was also ready to
stand above that false religion as a Promethean figure, who taught a false
Divine revelation, rather like his own fictional Lobaska character.

I suppose all of this was confined to Spalding's vivid imagination -- he had no
intention of carrying out such a social revolution: he could not even sell it as
pseudo-historical fiction in Pittsburgh.

But, to a young Sidney Rigdon, it was Gospel Truth -- not religious satire.

I doubt that the modern LDS will want to hear any of this.

UD

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:26 pm 
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Uncle Dale wrote:
A simple enough question. -- By "atheist" I do not mean a person who is
entirely devoid of superstitions, or of notions of guilt, conscience, truth, etc.
I merely mean a writer who did not believe in the biblical God, and therefore
feared no Divine retribution in composing a fake latter day revelation.

1. Could an atheist know enough about the biblical religion to mimic it?
2. Would an atheist care enough about that religion to spend time mimicking it?

Uncle Dale


I would leave just a link if anyone had substantively engaged my topic. As it is I will just post the OP.

Living But Hidden Proof That Joseph Smith Was a True Prophet
by James Q. Muir
October 10, 2009

The most vexing and yet sublime truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that its greatest reality remains hidden within the hearts of those who actually receive it. By observation it is not apparent. It can only be manifested, revealed and bestowed by God.

This is not to say that there is no evidence for it. What is significant towards proving Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God is that his culture was patently unaware of the exact dimensions of this element.

Although Joseph himself experienced this event during the First Vision there is no record that he comprehended it sufficiently until the last few years of his life. For he said: " I will have a Reformation." (History of the Church Vol 5. Chapter 27 page 510)

This hidden element manifests its singularity in every era of scriptural reckoning. It is always largely unknown to the majority of people. Even among the people of a righteous legacy there is little of a conscience awareness of it. The days of Eli and Hanna could be an exceptional era. As she told Eli; "Count not thine handmaid a daughter of Belial." Samuel 1:16

Even so, Joseph Smith included this hidden element in the Book of Mormon. Not only slightly. It is in fact its major theme. And so, this becomes all the more fantastic today, as the LDS Church is unaware of it. Not that they cannot read about it. They have talked about it and with their lips honor it. But their hearts are far from it. They have supplanted their own way which is after the likeness and image of the world.

The Mormons have no appreciation of the singularity of the real essence of the hidden element of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are as blind to it as any generation in spiritual history ever was, and three fold more the tragedy, as the entire world needed them to get it right.
Have they ever used this argument to prove Joseph Smith a prophet and the Book of Mormon true? No, never! Fantastic! You have to wonder why. All this time and it has never dawned upon them that this absolute proof exists.

I am getting weary of all the fashionable Joseph Smith bashing that falls out of the LDS Church. A moment’s reflection against this obnoxious momentum was sufficient for me to make this realization.

There is no possibility of explaining away the inclusion in the Book of Mormon of this hidden but commanding and dominant element that ratifies all things between men and God. The hidden element is of course the core of the gospel of Jesus Christ, even the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. How it is accomplished is made plain while it remains hidden from all those who are not made partakers of the Heavenly gift. This is like a fail-safe God utilized to keep pure his kingdom. Pretense and apostasy will in time, slough off unto absurdity.

The Puritans were the nearest to getting religion right in their time. But it was yet only the getting of religion, as it were, like most Protestants today. Regardless of all their strained imitations of Holy Ghost signs and saying that they are born again, born of God, there is no competent understanding. All is exuberance and ecstatic chaos. An outward show is demonstrated rather than an inward reality. It misses on every consistency with what is written.

And of course, since it is a hidden element, only to be understood and realized by those upon whom the Lord will bestow the gift, all the world can do is make up their best guesses. And ludicrous are all those imitations in the eyes of a true initiate.

So all the more the wonder that Joseph Smith avoided all such contemporary characterizations of a frenzied promotion and wrote about the hidden element with precision, reflecting perfectly the earnest of its most sublime hallmarks that are tucked away in obscurity, here a little and there a little throughout all the Bible.
Indeed the Book of Mormon exceeds the Bible in its gospel comprehension. Such cannot possible occur without God's intervention, thus proving both God and his prophet true.

This hidden element is also what makes a prophet a prophet. If it were missing that would be proof enough of pretense. So who can account for this hidden element overflowing nearly every page of the Book of Mormon other than it must be of God? Well?

Now that Joseph Smith is proven a cardinal prophet, can we please cut him some slack? Enough and away with the manipulation of his history by every craven despoiler who wants to validate every previous despoiler and call it scholarship? More needs to be said about this. Another time.

A word to the wise. Better to keep this hidden element a secret from the LDS people. Their heads might explode trying to wrap their minds around it. They must convict themselves of the gravest hypocrisy to appreciate it.

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:39 pm 
God
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Nightlion wrote:
...
keep this hidden element a secret
...


OK

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:11 pm 
God
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UD

I would never want to keep Spalding's probable satire of fundamentalist Christian values a secret. It is so obvious, once one untangles the pseudo-KJE.

I think Rigdon was appalled at Spalding's satire, and added his embroidery to obscure it, because the story was so believable. And this was because the underlying plot had some truth to it.

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:03 pm 
God
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MCB wrote:
UD

I would never want to keep Spalding's probable satire of fundamentalist Christian values a secret. It is so obvious, once one untangles the pseudo-KJE.

I think Rigdon was appalled at Spalding's satire, and added his embroidery to obscure it, because the story was so believable. And this was because the underlying plot had some truth to it.



Unfortunately we do not have Spalding's "Israelite" story available for study -- so almost
anything we attempt to say about it might eventually be shown as am error.

I'll present my hypothesis, as it stands at the moment, however:

1. Solomon Spalding wrote a story of Israelites coming to America after the fall of
the northern kingdom to the Assyrians. That story was largely non-religious. It
ended up as the "Book of Lehi," but the Book of Mormon pages were lost.

2. Solomon Spalding continued his fictional writing after he had moved to Pennsylvania,
and in his expanded account he included a second "Mulekite" migration of pious
Israelites to the Americas. We read an abbreviated version of their story in the
1830 Book of Mormon, but re-written to form the record of the Lehites (Nephites) in America.

3. In his expanded story Spalding included king Benjamin and the introduction of
a type of proto-Christianity among his fictional Nephites.

All of the above writing was created by Spalding as a work of fiction. He had
become an atheist or Deist himself, and was no longer a believer in Christianity;
but he nevertheless made use of his previous ministerial training and study to
concoct his preColumbian society's contentions, wars and eventual extinction.

Before the time he had finished his writing (c. 1815) Spalding realized that it was
not the sort of story that could be sold as fiction. Since he did not have to worry
about offending Christian believers, with a story that would never be printed,
Spalding allowed his imagination to run wild, and inserted numerous satiric
episodes (even absurd episodes) into his final draft. He created a Nephite
Christianity which was outwardly similar to ancient Apostolic Christianity, but
with various differences -- some of which he expressed as exaggerations or
absurdities. In the end Spalding was more interested in concocting a compelling,
but imaginary, Christian past for the Americas, than he was in writing good fiction.

4. At some point Sidney Rigdon came across some portion of Spalding's writings,
and was fascinated by such themes as an Israelite origin for the Indians, the
supposed promise of a latter day Zion in the Americas, examples of apostolic
Christianity among the "Nephites," etc. etc. However Rigdon was also bothered
by Spalding's poor writing abilities, numerous writing errors, and (most of all) by
the man's satirization of something very close to Rigdon's own religious beliefs.

5. Rigdon began to "edit out" the more offensive Spalding passages. At that
point Rigdon had no other plan than to keep Spalding's writings as a curiosity,
or as his private hobby -- a literary forum in which Rigdon could project his
own views on religion. However Rigdon was also a victim of an unusual mental
derangement -- that phenomenon caused him to react in unreasonable ways,
and to occasionally imagine that he was receiving supernatural communications.
Rigdon's mental illness, coupled with Spalding's imaginative writings, became
the basis for Sidney Rigdon editing and embellishing Spalding -- to the point
of creating a pseudo-scripture called the Book of Mormon.

Maybe.....

UD

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:10 pm 
God
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It sounds good to me. Very good match, as you know, to the direction in which I am going. And my aim is not to present literal truth but to free people from religious fundamentalist stritjackets.

We also can be fairly sure that Rigdon did not include some of the romantic aspects of Spalding's writings.

Polish polish shine polish elbow grease and more polish. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:17 pm 
God
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MCB wrote:
...
We also can be fairly sure that Rigdon did not include some of the
romantic aspects of Spalding's writings.
...


Here is the sort of stuff (from the Book of Ether) that I credit to Rigdon, and which
I doubt very much Spalding would have written, to any readership:

>And now, if I have no authority for these things,
>judge ye, for ye shall know that I have authority
>when ye shall see me, and we shall stand before
>God at the last day...

That's a very strong assertion for a work of fiction -- my guess is that the
writer of that sentence believed every word of it.

UD

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 Post subject: Re: Could an atheist have written the Book of Mormon?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 1:30 am 
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I clicked on this thread hoping to find out that the Book of Mormon had been ghost written by Richard Dawkins under the alias Solomon Spalding. I hoped Uncle Dale had finally been able to reconstruct the perfect Book of Mormon authorship scenario for critics by proving that the Book of Mormon wasn't a translation of ancient gold plates of a migration to America, but was written by a prominent modern-day atheist...possibly as part of a Communist plot involving Opus Dei and the Freemasons (who of course allowed Dawkins to use their time machine to account for a 19th century authorship).

I was disappointed. ;)

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