Episode 189: The Kinderhook Plates for Dummies

49 comments on “Episode 189: The Kinderhook Plates for Dummies”

  1. Gunnar1961 Reply

    I just started listening to this podcast, and I was a bit surprised when John said that among the items found in the mounds left by the mound builders were ancient artifacts made of iron.  This is contrary to what I have long understood that the Pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Americas had no knowledge of iron metallurgy.  I have never heard of iron artifacts being found in these mounds–not even any made of meteoric iron.  Am I mis or under-informed about that?

    • johnmormonexpression Reply

       I misstated. I meant to say copper. And the mounds weren’t ancient. The date from post Book of Mormon times.

      • Gunnar1961 Reply

        Thank you for the clarification–I was sure you knew better than what your misstatement seemed to indicate. 🙂

        And, of course, the fact that the mounds date from post Book of Mormon times, only further damages Joseph Smith’s credibility concerning his claims about their origin and his partial translation of them.

  2. Chaste_and_Benevolent Reply

    Very interesting podcast. Thanks to the so-called panel (smirk).

    I never realized there were so many parallels between the Kinderhood Plates and the Book of Abraham. But my favorite intersection, which is just really a coincidence, wasn’t mentioned: In 1981, the same year it officially acknowledged that the Kinderhook plates are fraudulent, the church restored the phallus to the drawing of “God sitting upon his throne” in Figure 7 of Facsimile 2.

    Mormonism is therefore the only religion to adopt a picture of an erect penis as holy scripture. Someday this will be mentioned in an Elders Quorum talk about pornography.

    I had also never heard about the mind-bending apologist wars that are apparently still being waged over the Kinderhook plates. Mormon apologetics seem to be increasingly limited to three functions: inducing rants among ex-Mormons, reassuring believing Mormons that somebody somewhere has addressed the church’s truthiness problems, and hastening doubting Mormons toward apostasy when they actually bother to read the apologists’ arguments.

    If the church ever gets smart, it will put FARMS out to pasture, stop promoting its diatribes, and connect its phone line to an automated message saying “The problems have all been dealt with. Please continue to seek spiritual confirmation.”

    • ryan swanson Reply

      Those 3 functions of Mormon apologetics seem accurate to me. I’ve found myself within all three functions at one point or another, but am now solidly in the ranting stage.

  3. LDSRevelations Reply

    Interesting podcast. Thanks for doing yer homework and sharing. I was edified and rejoice with you.

    This is a guess based on what your comments in the podcast but I don’t think Don’s defense relies on the KEP being accurate. If I get it at all, it seems to be saying that Joseph is seeing the character that seems similar to what he experienced in the BoA papyri and makes the connection BUT that he was that wrong in both the KEP and the Kinderhook plates. Apologists still claim that JS created the BoA we have with a method different than the KEP and/or GAEL. The problem is that they for the most part claim that Joseph had nothing or little to do with the KPE/GAEL and that the “scirbes did it.”  This approach would make that argument harder to make. IIRC there definitely some of JSs handwriting in the KEP and maybe Don chose to fully deal with that by saying that in both the case of the Kinderhook Plates and the BoA that JS first tried a ‘secular translation.’ In the case of the BoA obviously they would say that a second translation came by revelation.

    I agree with John about the idea that prophets cannot even tell which of there ideas are revelation and which are their own crazy ideas is complete BS. Interestingly though, LDS apologists today and general membership of the Church now somehow can tell when Joseph was really getting revelation and when he wasn’t. The Prophet of the Restoration who saw God and angels, received multiple dozens if not hundreds of revelations and translated ancient documents but needs the unauthorized learned to set him straight. It’s crazy…but I guess the Brethren are willing to hand over the “keys” now that they’ve driven the whole mess into a ditch.

    And I have to agree with you all that if there is no allowance made for Joseph Smith or any LDS prophet, then these explanations are virtually worthless. I think you have to want to believe pretty badly in order for these to work at all.

  4. Elder Vader Reply

    Great  podcast as usual.  I was excited to hear this one when I saw it. 

    The kinderhook plates were definitely one of the items that brought down my shelf of problem areas in the church.  Just, the whole… every single time you can check out Joseph’s story he’s full of shit, but all the unverifiable pie in the sky stuff that gives you warm and fuzzies… that stuff confirms that he’s definitely a prophet. 

    So because of the intersection of the podcast, and my ‘shelf’, this one just brought back a lot of sad feelings for me. 

    I think it is generous of John Larsen to state that the Kinderhook plates aren’t as big of a smoking gun as some critics make them out to be.  But the church still has over a hundred years worth of ‘See this is another testimony that JS is a prophet… oh wait… nothing to see here, move along!’ baggage to deal with. 

    I haven’t spent hardly any time sifting through the apologetic literature on this topic.  Its just so thoroughly unconvincing I hadn’t spent the time.  The panel did a great job of bringing that conversation out to those of us who haven’t bothered digging in there. 

  5. Heather_ME Reply

    I think I need a Dummies episode on the KEP.  I had never heard of them before today.

  6. JTurn Reply

    One of the panelists ended the episode with:

    “I’d like to thank modern science for straightening out religious confusion once again.”

    The definitive scientific tests showing that the recovered K-plate was a 19th century forgery were performed by Dr. D. Lynn Johnson at Northwestern University.  Northwestern’s Department of Materials Science was considered one of the top in the world at the time and Johnson was one of its first tenured professors.  He was a pioneer stock Mormon from Utah.

    Johnson was my graduate school research advisor beginning in the fall of 1982.   At the time I was 23, having taken the baptismal plunge at 20 on fumes of a beloved older brother’s influence, but was starting to sink into a state of Mormon “underwhelment.”  I was looking to Johnson as someone who could help me figure out how having faith in the Mormonism “received truth”  was on par with the hard-won tentative bits that science was piecing together.  I needed a mentor to help me combine faith and reason.

    Of course, Johnson never mentioned that he had debunked the K-plates less than 2 years before I arrived. I guess this was a bit of scientific truth he decided I didn’t need.  That’s what is perverted about the religious mindset – so easy to decide what pertinent facts other people need or don’t need.

    Those were the days that you mostly had to have a poor excuse to go digging for dirt on the Church unprovoked.  That is, if you were a basically trusting individual who approached the LDS Church in good faith, there wasn’t much of a chance that all these disturbing bits would jump out of newspapers or off municipal library shelves at you (particularly if you lived on the east coast or mid west).  If Church occupied most of your free time, it media delivered the only message.  

    I must have had some kind of inkling that this secretly patronizing mentor wasn’t doing it for me. I left NU after 1 year with an MS. Though I did not discover much of these nasty bits until several years (thank you D. Michael Quinn and B.H. Roberts), the temple did a number on me and I was inactive by 27.

    So, yes science is essential. But I’d like to thank the Internet for saving today’s 23 year olds from the ignorance imposed by true believers.

    • JTurn Reply

      I am feeling a bit chagrined after reading the 1981 Ensign article since it was must have been available to me at the time, though I did not subscribe to it and have no memory of it.


      Perhaps I should cut myself some slack. Chances are I would have not been intellectually or emotionally prepared to see it for what it is.  And I probably would not have been inclined to go digging for the other side of the story, which would taxed my research skills.  I was still hoping for better faith days at the time – questioning would have felt low down and mean.  

      Today the apologetic moves in this piece are quite evident.  Here are a few – there are probably more to catalogue

      1. Appealing to the absence of evidence to support the faithful narrative (with some absences serving as red herrings and to discount reasonable inferences).

      “Significantly, there is no evidence that the Prophet Joseph Smith ever took up the matter with the Lord.”

      “In fact, no evidence exists that he manifested any further interest in the plates after early examination of them, although some members of the Church hoped that they would prove to be significant.”

      “Where the ideas written by William Clayton originated is unknown.”

      2. White washing a long history of being fooled in a single line (ignoring how many prophets, seers, and revelators were duped).

      “In any case, this altered version of the extract from William Clayton’s journal was reprinted … and, unfortunately, was finally carried over into official Church history.

      “Many people [including Mark E. Peterson], now as well as then, have an appetite for hearsay and a hope for “easy evidence” to bolster or even substitute for personal spirituality and hard-won faith that comes from close familiarity with truth and communion with God.”

      3. Transferring blame to expendable others without good evidence (even though doing so undermines their credibility for 99% of faith-serving needs).

      “Although this account appears to be the writing of Joseph Smith, it is actually an excerpt from a journal of William Clayton”

      “there is no evidence that Joseph Smith ever concluded the plates were genuine, other than conflicting statements from members who hoped that a translation would come forth”

      4.  Picking at irrelevant minor points of inconsistency in testimony to cast doubt on the whole.

      “…apparently as much misinformation and hearsay was current among people as there was fact. Pratt heard of a discovery in Pike County; Clayton said Adams County. Clayton said that the find was made six feet underground; Pratt, fifteen.”

      5.  Substituting appeals to the readers’ faith in Joseph Smith for positive evidence – using the implicit power of rhetorical questions

      .“…for those of us who believe that Joseph Smith was the Lord’s prophet: Isn’t it natural to expect that he would be guided to understand that these plates were not of value as far as his mission was concerned?”

      “Isn’t it natural to expect that he would be guided to understand that these plates were not of value as far as his mission was concerned?”

      6.  Conflating speculation and reasonable inferences from the evidence to serve the narrative.

      “But how much of the conjecture that was current in Nauvoo at the time might be attributable to [Joseph] would be a speculation in itself, impossible to verify from the available accounts.”

  7. darkmatter20 Reply

    PoGP, pg 41 No 3: for believers by John Larsen,

    “we can read what the Egyptian says…..” etc. 

    Sure, today you have a translation completely different to Smith’s interpretation but that may not stay that way for ever. Phonetic egyptian will never be 100% certain, nor can currant transliteration be 100% certain. The language lived for as long a period as latin and spanish have so if these last two changed radically over the centuaries we can only guess today what happened with egyptian. I’m not saying you are wrong here, the current accepted translation does not concur with Smith’s inspired work or opinion but I would  suggest that using this to reject Smith outright may not be the wisest choice over the long term.

    The problems we had translating Mayan should teach us all a lesson. We thought we had proper Mayan translation in the ’70’s saying that they were a peaceful, cultural people dedicated to arts and agriculture but now we have this new translation saying the opposite (they were warmongers who lived off the taxes of the people they conquered).

    Translations of ancient languages won’t necessarily stay the same for ever. As the BoM advises it could be foolish to trust in man’s knowledge to reject God although it is good to be ‘learned’ etc….

    • CanuckAussie Reply

      The “Phonetic egyptian will never be 100% certain” fails completely in that Smith’s so-called translation was 100% wrong. Every single letter, every word, and ever description of the fascimile.  Nothing that Smith taught or did stands up to any degree of scrutiny. The one and only reason to believe in him is the emotional response Mormons call “a spiritual witness” But that same spiritual witness witnesses the truth of every religion, including child-raping fundamentalist LDS.

      If the Holy Ghost is such a trickster that everything he asks me to believe is counter to the proof that is in front of me, then he is no better than Anansi, Kokopelli, Coyote, and the other mythological trickster gods.

      • darkmatter20 Reply

         ” fails completely in that Smith’s so-called translation was 100% wrong”

        Sure, based on todays understanding of hieroglyphics, that’s the point. But will we always accept todays translations of egyptian hieroglyphics? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll see. We did change Mayan translations radically. It’s not about the holy ghost at all by the way.

        • Nesa Nurphot Reply

          I have to jump in here.  You’re using the fact that the Mayan writing system is now better understood than it once was as a way to suggest that similar developments will vindicate Joseph Smith.  I am not sure how you come to that conclusion.  For one thing, I am not sure what you’re getting at with the phrase “Phonetic Egyptian” since, other than Coptic, no phase of the Egyptian language has an entirely phonetic writing system.  More importantly, there is no reason whatsoever to compare Egyptian with Mayan, either in the manner of their writing or in the history their respective decipherments, and the statement you’ve made does not evince a great deal of familiarity with either.  The essential difference is that Mayan had no Rosetta Stone.  Ancient Egyptian on the other hand not only had the Rosetta Stone to use as a basis for decipherment (with a nice Greek translation–that’s how it was deciphered) but also its vowelled descendant Coptic.  That is why Ancient Egyptian is known today about as well as any other ancient language.  Except for very isolated cases with very specific kinds of texts, advances in Egyptian are not about deciphering hieroglyphics and–unless you believe that aliens are responsible for the pyramids–never will be.  The most hotly contested aspect of Egyptian linguistics is the syntax of the verbal system, and hieroglyphics are hardly relevant to that.

          If you doubt any of this, I suggest you start with 1) Antonio Loprieno’s “Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction,” move onto 2) “Egyptian Grammar” by Gardiner, 3) read a lot of Egyptian, and then 4) “the Papers of Hans Jakob Polotsky” to see some of the most significant contributions to Egyptians linguistics in the twentieth century. 

          • darkmatter20

             “there is no reason whatsoever to compare Egyptian with Mayan”

            100% correct……….and misses my point by about just as much!

        • Nesa Nurphot Reply

          To Dark Matter:  How does it miss your point?  You wrote:

          “Sure, based on todays understanding of hieroglyphics, that’s the point. But will we always accept todays translations of egyptian hieroglyphics? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll see. We did change Mayan translations radically. It’s not about the holy ghost at all by the way.”

          You’re analogizing the two by suggesting that, just as understanding of hieroglyphic Mayan has improved, so too one day our understanding of Egyptian will be improved (and of course you’re implying that this will somehow vindicate J. Smith).  I am telling you that your analogy is nonsense and Egyptian is known now about as well as it’s ever going to be; we might reinterpret various aspects of its grammatical system but there won’t be the sort of radical change we’ve seen in Mayan hieroglyphics because the basis for understanding Egyptian is completely different.

          Either you didn’t read 100% of my post or you fail to understand your own writing by about just as much.

          • darkmatter20

             you said I ‘compared’ one language with the other which wasn’t the case at all. that missed th epoint completely.

            but you’re totally convinced that our understanding of egyptian will probably never vary nor change so there’s no point discussing this anymore since we can’t find common ground. i’ll wait and see whether or not things stay the same over the decades to come or we do come up with a better explanation for the rosaetta, and other, stones. remember that there are some mathematicians who disput the rosetta stones interpretation however they are still on the fringe so ….well,,,never mind.

          • Nesa Nurphot

            I’ll try to use small words so you can understand:

            If you read my whole post, you will see that I obviously didn’t think you were comparing the languages as systems but were comparing the history of their decipherment.  That’s what you were in fact doing and that is what I was in fact talking about.  I don’t know why you refuse to accept that.  If you’re not willingly misreading me, I can only assume your doing so unwillingly, in which case I can’t help you.

            There is no point in throwing your argument at me because mathematicians aren’t linguists, not because I can’t be persuaded and am close minded.  I resent that on the grounds that I know what I am talking about and you don’t…so who’s close minded here?  I am open to being persuaded BUT ON LINGUISTIC GROUNDS, and I don’t think you currently have the tools to do that.

            As a reader of 1) Greek, 2) hieratic, 3) demotic, and 4) hieroglyphic, I can tell you that there is as much a chance of our knowledge of any of those changing as there is our knowledge of Latin.  That is to say, maybe minute details here and there, but nothing as radical as what happened in our knowledge of Maya.

            Conceding that point doesn’t make you any less of a believer; it just makes you honest and keeps you out of the looney bin.  If you don’t have time to actually study Egyptian, read Loprieno alongside Michael Coe’s book on the decipherment of the Maya script.  There you can find that the evidence makes your analogy (or “comparison” if you want a Latin rather than a Greek derivative) fall apart.

    • Richard of Norway Reply

      Sure, today you have a translation completely different to Smith’s interpretation but that may not stay that way for ever.

      That is a very interesting take. I wonder how many of the faithful promote an idea like this in Sunday School class. “Yeah, all scholars today agree Smith’s translation has nothing at all to do with the actual texts – it’s all BOOK OF BREATHINGS and such – but one day they will all be proved wrong! They will see that it was actually written by Abraham’s own hand, like Joseph said!”

      I can understand why you might grasp at such straws in an attempt to maintain your faith but… really? Do you honestly believe that one day we will all learn that Smith’s claims regarding The Book of Abraham were legitimate?

      Man. I don’t know what to say.

      • darkmatter20 Reply

         “Man. I don’t know what to say.”

        You should be saying that you don’t believe what Smith wrote or why he wrote it or why the church has it today…….. and move on. Nothing forces you to believe or not believe.

        “”Do you honestly believe that one day we will all learn that Smith’s claims regarding The Book of Abraham were legitimate?”

        As with most things critical of the restoration, from Bloggs to Spaulding to Hofmann, most critics end up on the wrong side of history but it takes time. So to answer your question, yes I do think that Smith’s claims will eventually be vindicated but probably after the millenium starts is my guess.

        • Richard of Norway Reply

          Nothing forces you to believe or not believe. 

          Thanks, that’s true.

          Thing is: Nothing forces you to believe either and yet you still feel compelled to, despite all evidence. That’s what befuddles my mind. I just don’t get it.

          • darkmatter20

            sure, but you don’t get it because you have lost all trace of the spirit and what happens when god instructs an individual personally via the scripture. so even if the evidence points to a mistake in translation, when one reads the text there are still many many teachable moments that come from god directly. no where is this more evident than in the pogp, although d&c comes close. but, like i said, once you loose the spirits company you can’t be blame for not believing and thinking that this all ‘befuddles’ you mind (nice word by the way). and there isn’t any punishment or hell trip in this just missing out on some personal tutoring from god himself.

        • LDSRevelations Reply

          “As with most things critical of the restoration, from Bloggs to
          Spaulding to Hofmann, most critics end up on the wrong side of history
          but it takes time.”

          I couldn’t disagree more. History itself clearly shows that the Church and it’s Prophets, Seers and Revelators are and have been on the wrong side of history far more than the critics. Citing a few unsupported theories doesn’t address the dozens of issues with what Joseph claimed. Besides many critics don’t accept Spaulding and some like the Tanners rejected The Salamander Letter as a fraud when the Brethren were busy purchasing it.

          I’m going to have to go with the camp— both defenders and critics — that sees the papyri we have as something other than the source for of the BoA. If ‘further light and knowledge’ on the topic becomes available then I will have to adjust my thinking. But for now— your speculations aside— the evidence points to this no matter what someone wants to believe.

          • darkmatter20

             i couldn’t disagree more. we could add more to this list, tanners, rigdon, law…..all now largely forgotten by history (except by those who are also critical of the church too)

            yet the church continues to march on, baptizing people, building things (chapels and shoppings) and growing.

            and it may well be that the papyri we have isn’t the source of the book of abraham. the source was reported to have been burnt in that fire so this miraclous find could well be one that hoffman can be proud off (but is was before his time unfortunately)

    • Gunnar1961 Reply

      The Flat Earth Research Society still clings tenaciously to the conviction that given enough time, funding and support, they will yet eventually be able prove scientifically to all who are truly honest and reasonable that the idea of a globular earth orbiting around the sun is the purest nonsense.  Even that prospect is no more improbable than the prospect of eventually vindicating Mormon claims about the BoA.

      • darkmatter20 Reply

         far stretch to say that flat earth is more probable than mormon claims of book of abraham. no need to exagerate here plus i did admit that the translation doesn’t concur with what all academics would conclude.

        but the point is that flat earth society (if it exists) does have the right to do its research and publish its own conclutions, as do you here claiming that the mormons will never be vindicated over the book of abraham..

        • Gunnar1961 Reply

          It is not nearly as much of a stretch as you think it is.  And there really is a Flat Earth Research Society–believe it or not.  You can easily find their website if you google them.  Its leaders still sincerely (as far as I can tell) believe the earth is flat and that those who think otherwise are seriously deluded.

          And of course they have the right to do their research and publish their own conclusions! But that does not make them any less silly!

          And not only does the translation not concur with what all academics would conclude, it doesn’t concur with what any Egyptologists would conclude–not even the few who are LDS!

  8. Brad Bryan Reply

    I don’t know which edition of “The History of the Church” I bought in 1996, but I can attest that the Kinderhook fascimiles were in there. It was the first time I had been exposed to it. I remember being quite excited about it, wondering when we’d get the full translation of them. 

  9. Gail_F_Bartholomew Reply

    My question is if you believe the book of Abraham was a “spiritual” translation having nothing to do with what is on the scroll, that seeing them gave the prophet the “inspiration”‘ to come up with scripture, then why  don’t they believe that the same process could apply with fake Kinderhook plates? Why does scholarship matter at all?  Is it just me or do the apologetis  seem to work really hard to use reason in an attempt to prove reason does not matter?

    • darkmatter20 Reply

       I don’t think that’s accurate.

      The church today is quiet about the BoA due to the stuff ups with the papyri in the 60’s but we don’t see it as only a spiritual translation that has nothing to do with what is on the scroll. For most mormons it is still a translation of what was on those original scrolls, which were lost, and a translation done by a prophet (Smith) but since it doesn’t concur with what current academics believe we try to stay quiet about the issue until a more acceptable explanation can be put forward. I personally think that the apologist are probably doing more harm than good in putting forward these ideas about a spiritual translation or that Smith only needed the momies for that inspiratioaln edge; but Smith said it was a translation of what was on them and so it is.

      As to scholarship, the church and most mormons support scholarship but it belongs in the academic world. There is no reason to mix religion and faith with what the current trends in the academic world may be. Religion is about faith and revelations which are both simply foolishness to any person who lives of reasoning and research.

      • Gunnar1961 Reply

        The one thing on which I agree with you is that Mormon apologists are doing the church more harm than good, except in the minds of the most gullible.  I think that there is much more than ample justification for people who live of reasoning and research to conclude that beliefs justified only by religious faith and claims of divine revelation are simply foolishness.  No precept or belief system is more deservedly suspect than one that can only be supported invoking the claim of divine revelation–no matter who or what makes that claim!

      • Chaste_and_Benevolent Reply

        “Religion is about faith and revelations which are both simply foolishness to any person who lives of reasoning and research.”

        People who dismiss religion often say that it is irrational. When people who accept religion agree with this point of view, they perpetuate this error.

        I agree that religion is about faith and revelation. But I do not consider faith and revelation to be antithetical to reason. Reason is helpful in understanding virtually everything, including religion. For example, the philosophical arguments for God’s existence appear to me to outweigh the arguments against God’s existence, although there is no absolute proof for either side of the issue. 

        Reason also can help us to better understand faith (defined as trust in God’s ultimate benevolence) and revelation (defined as God’s revealing of himself through the natural universe and through subjective but nevertheless real forms of perception such as aesthetics, empathy, and conscience). Reason is simply the process of making sense. Anything that requires the abandonment of reason is therefore, by definition, nonsense.

        • Gunnar1961 Reply

          Reason is simply the process of making sense. Anything that requires the abandonment of reason is therefore, by definition, nonsense.

          A big amen to that!

    • Gunnar1961 Reply

      I agree with you that “. . .the apologetis[sic] seem to work really hard to use reason in an attempt to prove reason does not matter.”  At least a lot of them do.  Of course, this has always been the case with religious apologists and mystics of almost every persuasion.  Martin Luther was particularly vehement in his denunciation of those who relied upon reason to influence their convictions.

      Isn’t it amazing how some can fail to see the glaring, inherent contradiction in attempting to use reason to argue people out of relying on reason?

  10. matejoh Reply

    At best, I’m a hobbyist when it comes to this stuff. I read books, blogs, anything I can get my inquisitive teeth into. I taught SS to youth for ten years, and AP for six years. The best thing Mormonism did for me was help me apply “practical religion” to my life; what can I do to improve the quality of my life and lives of those around me? But the worst thing Mormonism did was hold hostage the disclosure of “incovenient” history until after I swore allegiance most solemn to the church. This feels false, not because it is hard to live, but because it is hard to swallow deception from what claimed to be the ultimate source of truth. Darkmatter, if it makes you happy to fool yourself into remaining blind, so be it. The “Spirit” line is slippery slope for many to justify any number of bad habits.

  11. LDS_truthseeker Reply

    This was a fun podcast for me.  I’m glad I got to particpate.  SO was anyone else taught the story of the KP in church?  So far, I (and the members in my ward) are the only ones I have found that were actually taught this story as a faith-promoting event.

  12. Robert Saladino Reply

    If Joseph didn’t really have gold plates then wouldn’t he already know the plates were fake? I mean the guy wasn’t an idiot! He would know someone else was conning him, right?  

    • LDS_truthseeker Reply

      Joseph Smith was like most everyone else at the time – he also probably believed the Kinderhook Plates were real. They looked real. It was a convincing hoax with some effort put into it. Everyone seemed to think they were real at the time. They were put on display at a museum probably as an ancient Native American artifact. Take in mind that the experts that examined them in the 1960s couldn’t even come to any definitive conclusion and it wasn’t until 1980 that the plates were proven to be a hoax using modern, scientific, destructive testing methods. So it’s easy to believe that Joseph believed the plates were real also.

      Assuming JS wasn’t an actual prophet, he probably still thought the KP were real plates probably from the Indians just like everyone else did.  It’s not like the KP verify the BOM or anything.  They could be a cookbook for all he knows.  But it’s the same situation as if he was a real prophet, everyone wants an answer from the man that claimed to have translated some other plates.  He had to give them one.  Plus it was an opportunity to make it seem more credible that he was a prophet.  So he makes a quick diagnosis of the plates, just like he did with the Book of Abraham papyri and the Greek Psalter, and he pronounces a quick explanation of what they were.

  13. Duwayne_Anderson Reply

    This was a great podcast.  One minor point, however.  I seem to recall someone (John?) mentioning that the Mound Builders used iron.  While this is technically true of the Hopewell culture  (but not the Adena culture), these people did not master techniques of smelting ores — the metals they used were from either native copper or
    silver nuggets, or iron meteors.  I just thought this point should be made, since Mormon apologists might be inclined to point to this metal use as support for the Book of Mormon.  It doesn’t, obviously, for the simple fact that the Book of Mormon describes the Nephites smelting iron and using ores (see, for example, Ether 7:9 and Heleman 6:11)

    • johnmormonexpression Reply

       It was a mistake on my part. I meant to say copper. Thanks for the correction.

      • Duwayne_Anderson Reply

         Actually, John, I don’t think it was a “mistake,” and I actually meant my comment to be a clarification, not a correction.  At first I did think it was a mistake, but then I did a little research and found that they actually used iron — they just didn’t smelt it (but you didn’t say they smelted it, anyway).  Though you may have meant to say “copper” your inadvertent use of the word “iron” prompted me to look into the issue a bit more, and I learned something new — and for that, I thank you (as well as for your excellent pod cast).  Your podcast are a wealth of information — I really, really enjoy them. 

        On a slightly more personal note, you probably already know that I decided Mormonism is a bunch of hooey back in 1989, and that I resigned my membership about 5 years ago.  But all that time my wife has been a true, believing Mormon.  Then she found your podcasts and started listening to them.  Thanks to you, she no longer believes in the church.  You have no idea what a great thing that was.  For all those years I attended church with her, as part of my commitment to keeping us together.  All those years, stuck in that chapel, listening to stupid talk when I could have been doing better things.  But thanks to you, and your gentle and persuasive style (something I will never have), my wife and I are spending our weekends hiking, kayaking, gardening, cycling, traveling, or playing with the grand kids.  You are doing a marvelous work and a wonder, and making a tremendous difference –for good — in the lives of people who have been damaged by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

        So, from me to you, a big and personal “thank you!”

  14. Don Bradley Reply

    Hey John and Zilpha, et al.,

    I was only just made aware of this podcast (thanks, Tyler!). I appreciate the complimentary comments on me personally. I think, however, that my ideas have been misunderstood.

    The most basic misunderstanding is that my explanation of the Kinderhook plates character “translation” was designed as an apologetic. It was not. It is an explanation that I held, and completed, during the atheist days in which you (John) and I shared a beer.

    The basic question I’m raising is what Joseph Smith’s mode of “translation” was for the Kinderhook plates–how did he derive the content he reportedly translated? He clearly came up with it somehow. So how?

    I propose an explanation that elegantly accounts for the ideas Joseph reported to Clayton as his KP translation.

    FAIR has a transcription of my talk, here – http://www.fairlds.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Don-Bradley-Kinderhook-President-Joseph-Has-Translated-a-Portion-1.pdf – which lays out the argument and presents most of my images. (Note, however, that portions of the transcription are confusing since it includes things I said about certain [humorous] images I included, but omits those images. So, if it seems like there are random comments thrown in, it’s not because I’m conversing with invisible Egyptian Jaredites. There was a context for the original audience that the reader won’t get.)

    That said, the argument is laid out pretty well, particularly if you follow along with the GAEL images I include.

    BTW, I’d be happy to take you up on the invitation to come on the show sometime to discuss my analysis in greater detail.



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