Those who have studied Mormonism’s history have seen that much of the Book of Mormon was written largely in part thanks to other sources that were available to Joseph Smith at the time he lived.
The two most notable examples are Joseph Smith’s plagiarism of the King James Bible, and Joseph Smith’s not-so-unique tales of native American Indians being ancestors of Israelites. The former was the standard translation of the Bible used in America at that time, and the latter was a popular notion advanced in numerous books during Joseph Smith’s time.
Even Mormons (including LDS general authority member and apologist B.H. Roberts) have had to concede the uncanny similarities between the Book of Mormon and other works of men available to Joseph Smith at the time.
In fact, there’s been much discussion about writings by Solomon Spaulding and Ethan Smith which are eerily similar to that of the Book of Mormon and predate the Book of Mormon.
But the Indians-are-Hebrews stories aren’t the only tales that were circulating during Joseph Smith’s time
There is another Mormon teaching that was espoused by early Mormon leaders that–like the Indian/Hebrew theory–was also not original to Mormonism. I’m speaking of the Mormon teaching that the moon was inhabited by men.
Oliver B. Huntington, who was a close associate of Joseph Smith and remained a faithful Mormon his whole life, said:
Astronomers and philosophers have, from time almost immemorial until very recently, asserted that the moon was uninhabited, that it had no atmosphere, etc. But recent discoveries, through the means of powerful telescopes, have given scientists a doubt or two upon the old theory. Nearly all the great discoveries of men in the last half century have, in one way or another, either directly or indirectly, contributed to prove Joseph Smith to be a prophet. As far back as 1837, I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do, that they live generally to near the age of a 1000 years. He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style. In my Patriarchal blessing, given by the father of Joseph the Prophet, in Kirtland, 1837, I was told that I should preach the gospel before I was 21 years of age; that I should preach the gospel to the inhabitants upon the islands of the sea, and–to the inhabitants of the moon, even the planet you can now behold with your eyes. Young Woman’s Journal, Volume 3, pages 263-264, 1892
Huntington also said the following of Joseph Smith’s teaching regarding moon people:
The inhabitants of the moon are more of a uniform size than the inhabitants of the earth, being about 6 feet in height. They dress very much like the quaker style and are quite general in style, or fashion of dress. They live to be very old; coming generally, near a thousand years.” This is the description of them as given by Joseph the Seer, and he could “see” whatever he asked the father in the name of Jesus to see. The Journal of Oliver B. Huntington, Volume 3, Page 166
William A. Linn had this to say about Martin Harris, one of the three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon:
Daniel Hendrix relates that as he and [Martin] Harris were riding to the village one evening, and he remarked on the beauty of the moon, Harris replied that if his companion could only see it as he had, he might well call it beautiful, explaining that he had actually visited the moon, and added that it “was only the faithful who were permitted to visit celestial regions.” William A. Linn, The Story of the Mormons, Page 35, 1902
Of, course, not to be outdone by all the grandiose claims, Mormon Prophet Brigham Young went even farther by alleging that there are solar inhabitants as well:
We are called ignorant; so we are: but what of it? Are not all ignorant? I rather think so. Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? When we view its face we may see what is termed “the man in the moon,” and what some philosophers declare are the shadows of mountains. But these sayings are very vague, and amount to nothing; and when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows. So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain. It was made to give light to those who dwell upon it, and to other planets; and so will this earth when it is celestialized. Journal of Discourses, Volume 13, Page 271, 1870
Well, all of the above quotes from Mormonism arose after 1835, the year when a tale of lunar habitation by humans was being spun by a paper called the New York Sun. A tale that later became known as The Great Moon Hoax.
In August of 1835 (just two years before Oliver B. Huntington said Joseph Smith began talking about inhabitants of the moon) the New York Sun (a paper from Joseph Smith’s own home state) reported that British astronomer Sir John Herschel discovered people living on the moon (as well as unicorns and hut-dwelling, fire-wielding bi-ped beavers).
Of course, thanks to advancements in astronomy, we now know for certain that men do not live on the moon (or the sun) and modern Mormons have since back-peddled from these teachings (painting over them with a veneer that these were only their leaders’ “opinion”). But even though they recognized the foolishness of these teachings, they still believe in extra-terrestrial habitation on other planets . . . just not on our moon or sun.
Mormon prophet Brigham Young said:
Mankind are here because they are the offspring of parents who were first brought here from another planet, and power was given them to propagate their species. Journal of Discourses, Volume 7, Page 285, 1859
Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth prophet/president of the Mormon organization, said:
We are not the only people that the Lord has created. We have brothers and sisters on other earths. They look like us because they, too, are the children of God and were created in his image, for they are also his offspring. Doctrines of Salvation, Volume 1, Page 62
Recognizing the prophets’ errors of claiming the moon and sun are inhabited is honest and the right thing to do, but why still cling to the idea that other planets are inhabited?
I’m still waiting for LDS apologists to finally concede that the Book of Mormon was just Joseph Smith’s “opinion” as well since advancements in archeology have not revealed one city, town, sword, shield, coin or other artifact or location in Book of Mormon history; advancements in DNA science have proven that American Indians are not descendants of ancient Hebrews as the Book of Mormon claims; that there is not one ancient manuscript to support the authenticity of the Book of Mormon; that the “Reformed Egyptian” language Joseph Smith supposedly translated the Book of Mormon from has never existed; and that the Book of Mormon (called “the most correct of any book on earth”), has undergone 3,913 documented changes, corrections, and alterations since it’s original 1830 publication.
But I suppose, even in the face of all that evidence, the odds of Mormons admitting that the Book of Mormon was a fabrication is as slim as finding Quakers living on the moon.
DefCon presents another installment of Old Mormon vs New Mormon.
See our previous installment Old Mormon vs New Mormon: The Missouri Prophecies here.
I wouldn’t have bothered posting this video but I found the second half of it very interesting. They take a video camera into a Mormon bookstore (Deseret Books) and show us some of the items being sold. You may be surprised at what you see.
LAST CHANCE – BIBLE vs JOSEPH SMITH DVD OUTREACH
Dear FPW’s (Faithful Prayer Warriors),This will be very short. Several people have contacted us about the possibility of purchasing THE BIBLE vs JOSEPH SMITH DVD at the discounted price of $1.75 ea. If you are still thinking about ordering, the time to act is NOW because we are ready to place our order.So far 46 people from all over the country (plus one from Africa) have ordered the DVD and plan to distribute over 10,000 of these DVD’s. This will surely create a ripple effect that will be felt world-wide by the LDS community.
The LDS community is a tight knit, very well connected subculture. If only a few Mormons are saved as a result of this outreach, the impact will reach deep into the Mormon community. We are praying that outreach opportunities like this one will eventually become the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Not by power, nor by might, but my His Spirit!!!
We do not care how many DVDs you order – we just want to touch Mormons all across the world. So if you know any Mormons… order the DVD and drop one on their doorstep. Then pray and see what God will do.
Contact T.G.M at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to place your order, but hurry, they will be placing this one-time large order very soon.
If you’ve ever been in a discussion with a Mormon and you’ve quoted one of their prophets or church leaders (and that quote was not favorable to their organization’s current position on any given matter), then you no doubt have received the following response:
“But that was just his opinion.”
So, is this a valid response or is this simply a dishonest retort which completely evades the issue?
Using only Mormon published materials, I will prove to you in this post that it’s the latter.
Please read the following 23 quotes very carefully.
We do not wish incorrect and unsound doctrines be handed down to posterity under the sanction of great names, to be received and valued by future generations as authentic and reliable . . . . Errors in history and in doctrine, if left uncorrected by us who are conversant with the events, and who are in a position to judge of the truth or falsity of the doctrines, would go to our children as though we had sanctioned and endorsed them.– Brigham Young, Millennial Star, Volume 27, Page 659, 1865
I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually. – Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 13, Page 95
I will commence by saying to the Latter-day Saints and to all the inhabitants of the earth that I am responsible for the doctrine I teach; but I am not responsible for the obedience of the people to that doctrine. – Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 13, Page 1, 1869
I will take up my text again—I am responsible for the doctrine I teach. – Brigham Young Journal of Discourses, Volume 13, Page 4, 1869
Brigham Young has said “when he sends forth his discourses to the world they may call them Scripture.” I say now, when they are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible, and if you want to read revelation read the sayings of him who knows the mind of God. – Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 13, Page 264, 1870
What man or woman on the earth, what spirit in the spirit-world can say truthfully that I ever gave a wrong word of counsel, or a word of advice that could not be sanctioned by the heavens? – Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 12, Page 127, 1867