The Bible Delusion
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Unlike such as the 'white and delightsome' issue, where apologists tried to defend their leaders' recent change to the text of the Book of Mormon, FAIR (Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) has produced a video that actually attacks an 'inspired' header to the Book of Mormon and claims a text regarding coinage does not mean what it has clearly been perceived as by millions of Mormons and their leaders for one-hundred-and-eighty years. With no apparent mandate from the First Presidency and no change of text or header, they claim; through historical Old World data, common sense and reason; that the Nephites did not have coinage as declared by the book and header. Without a First Presidency mandate, this act undermines and discredits not just the Church and its current leaders but many previous leaders and their 'inspired' writings. They seem to be agreeing with detractors through sheer logic - a refreshing change, but of significant damage to their leaders' credibility.
The following notes were posted on 'Exmormon Forums' 11 March 2010 and also appeared on 'RfM' 13 March 2010. They are followed here by a section from TMD Vol 2 which covers Nephite coinage in more detail:
FAIR concedes Nephites did NOT have coins, dig themselves a hole and jump right in!
I just came across this video clip from FAIR so it is new to me, but it may well have been available for some time. As I have written on this subject myself, I felt it worth relaying this absurd claim made by FAIR.
Until the 2005 film “The Bible v. The Book of Mormon” was released; no one ever seemed to question the concept of Nephite coins in the Book of Mormon. Everyone knew and accepted that the Nephites developed and used their own currency system.
Subsequent to the film, in a remarkable turn-around concerning all that Mormons previously understood about coins from reading the Book of Mormon, FAIR claimed the heading to Alma 11 is “almost certainly wrong” and that the Nephites did not have coins after all.
It is notable that as ever there has been no official response from the First Presidency or Quorum of Twelve who are the ones (rather than mere apologists) who are supposed to actually represent God. Apologists stir up a hornets nest and the big fifteen keep quiet.
In a three minute clip, entitled “The Book of Mormon and Coins”, John Welch, founder of FARMS (The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies), introduces what is news (to them, but not the rest of the world) that “sometimes people criticise the Book of Mormon saying that it talks about coins; and coinage wasn’t really invented until after Lehi has left Jerusalem.”
Daniel C. Peterson, PhD – Middle Eastern Studies; makes this astounding confession:
“There have been no coins found in Ancient America because they didn’t exist – and they don’t exist in the Book of Mormon.”
He adds: “The header note to Alma 11 which describes Nephite coinage is almost certainly wrong.”
Brant Gardner, Scholar, Mesoamerican Studies claims:
“The header is a modern addition. It has nothing to do with the text. It certainly isn’t unusual that people will read that section of the Book of Mormon and assume that it’s coins but we do that with the Bible too. We will read ourselves back into it and make assumptions about the early culture based on what we believe, so we read these things and say it must have been coins.”
Kerry Shirts, Contributing Researcher, Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research then says:
“But those headings were not on the plates. From our understanding, some of the modern brethren put those headings to try to give us kind of a guide but the actual text itself describes different weights.”
Peterson then confirms his view:
“It describes pieces of metal; it says nothing about them being stamped or minted which is what makes a piece of metal a coin. There is no reason to expect to find Nephite coins because I don’t think they ever existed and the Book of Mormon doesn’t claim they do.”
“The actual idea of the differing weights being used as a weight system in the monetary system is actually in the Mesopotamian, the Arcadian – and the old Babylonian, come to think of it. This is how they used their money was through weight.
John Tvedtnes, Senior Scholar chimes in:
“In fact even the Israelites used weights initially. The Bible mentions some. The most common was called the shekel which comes from the verb ‘to weigh’ – actually it is the verb meaning to weigh.
Back to Peterson:
“We know that coinage first appeared apparently in Libya, in modern Turkey or Anatolia and you see in some burials clearly the transition that occurs after Lehi’s departure by about a century or so from the new world. You see mixed hoards of stamped minted coins and also specific weights of metal that are not shaped, minted or stamped. So, there was an evolution there in a sense. People went from fixed weights of metal to actual coins. Lehi left just before that change took place.
John Welch concludes:
“And that’s what we have in this weights and measures section of chapter eleven. It’s part of a big picture of the legal reforms that explains why those weights and measures were initiated at that time and they conform with what one would have expected from the ancient world.”
“We always have the problem of trying to impose on the text our own imagination of things. If you read the text very carefully and try to filter out your own cultural presupposition the ancient people didn’t necessarily live, think or act exactly the same way we do.”
The three minute clip from which the above text is drawn is available here:
The question is, after a long succession of Mormon ‘Prophets’ who have been aware of the header, if it is wrong; when the headers were first introduced, somewhere around 1920 it seems; why did the prophet of the day (Heber J. Grant) allow such an error to be included in the heading or why hasn’t the Mormon God revealed the supposed error to a later prophet and had him ‘clarify’ it. Clearly, Church authorities have no idea what the truth is and do not appear to venture an explanation – or even an opinion. It is left to apologists to make such statements, presumably in some kind of attempt to escape the inevitable alternative conclusion that Nephite ‘coinage’ is yet another evidence of the Joseph Smith hoax.
The heading to Alma Chapter 11 includes the words: Nephite coinage set forth… v.4 confirms they had actual coins (imprinted or not) and such manufactured ‘pieces’ do not decompose over time. If they existed in any form, some should (and would) have been found decades ago. The word ‘pieces’ in this context, in Joseph Smith’s day, meant coins – that’s a fundamental; and previous to an apologetic need for such fanciful conjecture; completely accepted, fact. It was in common usage in reference to such earlier coinage as ‘pieces of eight’; and ‘pieces of gold’ would have been readily understood to represent coins rather than ingots as such by early Mormons. Smith was also obsessed with the idea of finding Captain Kidd's treasure in some of his money digging exploits, which he no doubt considered contained many ‘pieces’.
Alma 11:4. “Now these are the names of the different pieces of their gold, and of their silver, according to their value.”
This verse is not just a header to be discarded, it is the actual text and clearly states that the pieces each had an individual value – and were not just part of a weight system. The word value does not mean or equal the word weight. Coins may indeed be of equal weight but the text uses the words "according to their value" which is indicative of the purchasing power of actual coins (or pieces) that would not need to first be weighed. FAIR completely ignores this obvious textual problem. If they claim that it needs 'clarification', thus completely altering the entire meaning from what everyone previously clearly understood to be the case, then once again they make their God look foolish and incompetent when it comes to an initial plain and simple explanation of the actual case. Knowing such confusion would one day exist, why did the Mormon God not dictate the words "according to their weights" into Smith's hat?
FAIR claims that the word ‘pieces’ of gold or silver doesn’t mean they were imprinted – which would only then make them ‘coins’. The notion that they would need imprinting to qualify as currency is absurd when you consider the many different early forms of currency, metallic and otherwise, that have existed around the world without imprinting. However, they seem to think that such pieces would only be found if they were imprinted. Since when did refined pieces gold or silver decompose, imprinted or not?
Peterson says later burials contained “mixed hoards of stamped minted coins and also specific weights of metal that are not shaped, minted or stamped.” So, in the Americas let’s not expect to find imprinted coins and just settle for “hoards” of “specific weights of metal that are not shaped, minted or stamped” instead. Where in all the Americas have any of the millions of these pieces of any size, shape or weight ever been discovered? The Americas have seen more archaeological research than anywhere else on the planet and there is not a single Nephite ‘piece’.
References to weights and measures of the Old World do no more than verify the fact that Smith made up the idea of Nephite coinage in the first place as they would have had no knowledge of such things – just as detractors have long argued. Now apologists play their usual mind games, meant to capture the faithful before they lose faith, and exploit their delusion further by explaining away the inexplicable in a new idea that the header was wrong all along misleading everyone and only they as academics can ‘clarify’ matters and now explain everything away satisfactorily.
These pieces can hardly be considered just measures of ‘weight’ by any stretch of the imagination. Joseph Smith clearly recorded what God supposedly told him via his seer stone in his hat. No pieces have been found, any more than coins have; and no other gold or silver usage in any such complex refined form has ever been found in the Americas. Gold dust was used (in quills) by the Aztecs and Maya who also used measures of 24,000 cocoa beans as ‘currency’. Despite the FAIR claim that they used weights, most used no form of currency at all and using 24,000 cocoa beans has little to do with weight and everything to do with simple numbers.
The ‘pieces’ of precious metal were equal to, or multiples of, other specific values. Therefore each ‘piece’ had to be of equal weight. Such pieces are therefore effectively coins – minted and / or stamped or not; each piece would have had to have weighed the same and perhaps (if they were real) could have been shaped in order to easily recognise the differences.
The 'shekel' reference does not mention the fact that shekels were definitely NOT ‘pieces’ that each weighed the same. A shekel was indeed a measurement of the weight of any number of sizes from dust to ingots, making up an appropriate weight. This has always been perfectly clear and understood by anyone who has studied it. The Nephite system; whatever you conceive it to be; must be admitted as being ‘pieces’ of precious metal and therefore should still be locatable and dateable – with or without any imprints. Gold and silver doesn’t miraculously deteriorate just because it has no imprint! They had to have had millions of these so-called ‘pieces’ and none have been found at all. Also, in the case of Biblical shekels, which are mentioned in the video clip, archaeological digs have not only located evidence of such in the form of gold, silver and bronze ingots; but also evidence of the methods of weighing them; naturally, dating to before the time Lehi supposedly left Jerusalem, just as apologists (only now) admit. So; where in all of the Americas is the archaeological evidence for methods of weighing these millions of missing Nephite ‘pieces’ of metal – or at least ingots of gold and silver – which were manufactured later than those found in the Holy Land, to substantiate the claim?
Measures of barley (Alma 11:7 & 15) could not have been used against the value of Nephite coins or ‘pieces’ as claimed, even as weights, as there never was domesticated barley in the Americas. Pathetically, apologists cling to the idea that a few grains of a type of small barley of some description may have been found in one or two minor locations dating to the BOM time period. Unfortunately, Arizona does not help problematic geography associated with the BOM, so one problem always leads to another. Additionally, it is completely different to the species of domesticated barley claimed to have been introduced from the Near East by BOM characters. Remember, Smith claims they brought it with them and that it was a staple that had to feed millions of people. It is a conclusive fact that this was not the case. Of course, devious apologists may next claim that ‘barley’ may have meant some other type of grain of convenience, just as tapirs once suddenly seemed to have been able to act as horses in order to pull fictitious BOM chariots; another fanciful and ludicrous apologetic notion, which has hopefully (and sensibly) now faded out of apologetic fashion.
The reality is that the Spanish introduced barley to South America in the 16th century. British and Dutch settlers introduced it to the United States in the 17th century. Soil core samples from across the continent show nothing prior to that and according to the BOM it was a staple and used against the coinage (or now suddenly the ‘weight’) system they employed. Barley is a pollen producing crop and no soil core samples have located domesticated barley in the Americas prior to the later colonisation. So, coins or weights – it makes no difference, the whole concept is outrageous and a study of all Native American tribes and civilisations proves beyond doubt that no such system as described in the BOM (whether coins or weights) was ever employed by any of them.
I have copied below, the section on Nephite currency from The Mormon Delusion Volume 2, so anyone who cares to revue the absurdity of Joseph Smith’s Nephite currency ideas can do so. If you want to substitute the word ‘coin’ with the word ‘weight’ regarding Nephite currency, everywhere in my work – which is quite a stretch for FAIR to now claim – nevertheless, all the problems still remain. It solves nothing and questions everything – including this:
FAIR claims that the chapter ‘headings’ (which mention coinage system) were “a modern addition” and “It has nothing to do with the text”. They claim “some of the modern brethren put those headings” with the “wrong” assumption that it relates to coins. They didn’t bother to consider two things.
Firstly; headings seem to have been introduced around 1920. They were approved by the First Presidency or they would never have appeared. It clearly states “COINAGE” which was always accepted as the case. There have been dozens of members of the ‘big fifteen’ since that time. Each one of them is sustained as a prophet, seer and revelator. How is it that the Mormon God has not seen fit to ‘inspire’, let alone ‘reveal’, the truth regarding this matter to any of those leaders (including TEN actual prophets) in all those years – and still chooses not to do so – to avoid such a problematic situation arising? Recognising that actual coinage is an impossibility in supposed Nephite times, but accepting the Book of Mormon must still be shown to be true at any cost – what authority from that God do mere apologists claim in order to decry their own leaders (and their God) who permitted such an (obvious only to them) error in the first instance? Do the Mormon leaders and their God now rely on academics to explain what is really meant in the “most correct book ever written”? If the First Presidency are still happy with the header, then, as they reign supreme in the Church, apologists should accept that it does mean coins – unless and until the First Presidency concede otherwise and declare it on behalf of their God. The fact that it is still there affirms that – either they accept Nephites supposedly had coins or – the only alternative (thanks to apologists who pointed it out) is they accept apologists are correct but are quite content for the headers not to be ‘corrected’ and thus perpetuate yet another lie? Which is it? Either apologists are wrong and they should say so; or Church leaders persist in publishing yet another conceded deception.
Secondly; B.H. Roberts seemed quite satisfied to believe they had coins – not just weights, when he wrote, “we have also a number of names of Nephite coins and the names of fractional values of coins…” Roberts ‘explains’ the coinage system and their relative values and then states “there is stated a system of relative values in these coins that bears evidence of its being genuine”. (A New Witness for God. 3:145. Italics added). So; apologists are now also disrespecting Roberts’ explanation which was clearly accepted by the whole Church, leaders and members alike, until this very day. No one I know locally has any more doubt about the 'coin' system than they have any idea that apologists decry it.
If Church leaders did one day alter the header to read that it was purely a system of measurement by weight, none of the surrounding problems disappear. It would just add even more complications for the Church, as it would show a reliance on academic postulations based on delusional reasoning rather than revelation from God. What a way to run a railroad that would be!
The apologists may have been better advised to leave well alone as they look increasingly foolish in trying to be clever about things which are already complete nonsense and they just make matters worse. Why would a God dictate the most ‘correct’ book into Smith’s hat and at the same time leave such ambiguity about what has become; due to meddling apologists who want to look the part and appear clever enough to explain the inexplicable; yet another monumental problem for the Church? I can’t help but wonder how such delusion still prevails in people who can see the truth and yet instead of facing it, spend their lives searching for and publishing supposed plausible but unfounded alternative postulations in response to evidence against, not just this, but all the claims made by the Church.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. (Aldous Huxley).
Jim Whitefield. Copyright © March 2010. All rights reserved.
Suppose the First Presidency are still quite happy that Nephites did develop a currency system of coins, just as explained in the BOM; and suppose they always were and still are comfortable with the header; and suppose they still agree with B. H. Roberts that it was indeed used by the Nephites? Does it matter that coins as such had not been invented prior to Lehi leaving Jerusalem? Why could they not have developed the coinage simultaneously to other cultures, just as all Mormons previously assumed and accepted? After all, the Book of Mormon also claims the Jaredites developed submersible vessels and were told they could not use glass windows, many centuries before either concept ever existed. The question is, has the First Presidency ever questioned coins?
What gives mere apologists the right to question what everyone else, including their leaders, accepts as factual? Surely this represents; not a required explanation; for it is already clearly explained and accepted – no; surely this represents a lack of faith to believe what has been published for years by those in authority who should know far better than apologists who are just academics and not prophets or seers (let alone revelators), with no 'God given' authority whatsoever. Surely; unless they can confirm the First Presidency have their own doubts and have asked them to make up an alternative theory - and they also now change the header to read 'weights' system; this claim is actually the equivalent of the ‘philosophies of men, mingled with scripture’ as Satan would say during the Temple endowment; and they are on the road to apostasy. If they have been given no such mandate, then shame on them for their lack of faith and such an egotistical attitude as to decry the work and view of their God given leaders as incorrect. They have no right and they have no case.
Apologists have three choices.
1. Produce a mandate from the First Presidency authorising their work.
2. Renounce it and retract it, as, if they have no mandate, then it is a heresy.
3. Go one step further and apply the same logic, common sense and reason to the hundreds of other BOM problems and come to the only possible conclusion. Not only did coins not exist, neither did the Nephites. The book is demonstrably no more than fiction in every way.
The following is an interesting note, posted to my thread on RfM by my friend ‘Cricket’ from the Salamander Society. If there is any truth to such a claim, perhaps the First Presidency would care to enlighten the world by producing said coins and submitting them for independent analysis and dating – oh, and at the same time, perhaps slap the wrists of the apologists who have disrespected the Church's clear position as stated in the BOM header.