Monday, February 15, 2016

These Gold Plates Are Not Real

Previously: Did Russell M. Nelson Take The Lord's Name In Vain?

People, people, PEOPLE! You have to STOP this!
I'm seeing this report of gold plates found at the Hill Cumorah posted all over Facebook, accompanied by exclamations of joy that archaeological evidence has been found to corroborate the discovery of the Book of Mormon.

Don't any of these people wonder why they haven't heard this news before, seeing as the byline date goes back to last April 3rd? And how about checking the source? "World News Daily" is an online incarnation of The Weekly World News, the highly entertaining supermarket tabloid that used to bring us stories about Rush Limbaugh shaking hands with alien Greys, and the ever popular Batboy.
I loved the Weekly World News back in the day, but I understood that all the stories were completely made up, as is this one about Brigham Young University archaeologists discovering gold plates within a hidden cavern in the Hill Cumorah. Look at the picture of the plates they include in the story. May I remind you that gold doesn't rust? And that if this discovery had been announced by archaeologists from a Church owned university, the claim would be instantly suspect?
As an honest believer in the Book of Mormon, what I find disconcerting about this current stir is how readily so many fellow believers are to blindly embrace this story as further proof of the truth of their religion. You're making fools of yourselves, and by extension making all of us who accept the divine origin of the Book of Mormon look just as foolish as you.

As I scanned the comments under the article at the World News Daily site, I didn't see many readers questioning the authenticity of the article itself.  Most of the discussion centered around an assumption that the article was reporting real news, the only question being whether the plates are authentic to Book of Mormon times.  Here's an example:
"There is no reason to summarily dismiss the article based on presentiment alone. That is not logical, scientific or, for that matter, rational. If the newly discovered plates are a fraud, such fact should be determined by subjecting them to scientific and archeological analysis..."
Better, I say, to subject the source of the story to a simple analysis.

As an online friend astutely observed, 
"Could it be that members are so hungry for spiritual confirmation of something that they grasp at anything? They are so spiritually underfed."
That, I think, is the problem. Members are no longer encouraged to read the Book of Mormon, as much as they are counseled to "follow the Brethren" who spoon-feed them dubious doctrine that often does not comport with scripture. As another friend put it, "A testimony of spiritual things can only come from a spiritual witness." We don't get those kinds of witnesses by piggy-backing our testimonies onto the testimonies of others. Members today are encouraged to gain testimonies of what the Church leaders tell them. Rather than develop a testimony of Christ and His gospel, they are encouraged to have testimonies of the authority of the leaders. Sadly, developing a testimony of "the Church" practically guarantees a person will end up grasping at any possible evidence that will reassure them that they're on the right team. Meantime, more and more frequently members who testify of becoming closer to Christ are suspect in today's Church and subject to disciplinary action.

So I issue this plea to my fellow Saints: Please stop posting this bogus report as a testimony building story. Not unless you are also willing to post these other stories from the same source. That way, everyone can understand what kind of gullible sop you're willing to swallow:
"New Jersey Gay Couple Discovers They Are In Fact Long Lost Twins" 
"Hermaphrodite Impregnates Self; Gives Birth To Hermaphrodite Twins"
"Punxutawany Phil Predicts Crushing Victory For Jeb Bush" 
"Missouri Pig Brothel Dismantled During FBI Raid"
And most ridiculous of all:
"Utah Man Struck By Lightning While Masturbating To The Bible
If you need further proof this is all a hoax, click on the source of the story, then click on the link labeled "News" in the top left corner for more "amazing but true" hogwash.

Writers at the Weekly World News consistently delighted in coming across actual photographs, then creating outlandish stories out of thin air to accompany the photos. Like stories published in the satirical newspaper "The Onion," the stories were complete fabrications. Unlike The Onion, stories in the Weekly World News were always told with a straight face, so that only those who "got it" understood the entertainment value of the paper. The large majority of people who kept that tabloid in business tended to believe it was reporting real news.

41 comments:

funakoshi said...

Clearly, the photos were just scraped off the internet.

Ironically, the "plates" photo is the same as the "Jordan Lead Codices" supposedly discovered in Jordan and proven to be fake.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jordan_Lead_Codices

https://shawglobalnews.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/16x9_web54_microbe_market.jpg?w=770

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I was recently told that this story surfaces every couple of months, but it's new to me. I've seen it several times today on Facebook, with some links sent to me privately, so it would appear the story is getting wider circulation than ever from some source that is sending it viral.

funakoshi said...

...further digging (get it?) says the guy in the photo is Nick Vieira, and he's in an ice cave hunting for microbes:

http://globalnews.ca/ice-caves/cave-microbes


Peachy. Just Peachy. said...

The problem as I see it, is that the Saints have little or no faith in the Book of Mormon. They can stand, monthly, and aver that they "know that this is true or that is true" when all that we are told, scripturally, is that the truth of the Gospel and, parenthetically, the Book of Mormon, is a faith thing . . . faith being the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Sorry Brethren . . . I don't believe in you!

Ryan Nickel said...

Since when does gold rust? LOL

Jaxon Peterson said...

People are more obsessed with plates than what is written on the pages (see blog post below)

http://www.churchistrue.com/blog/gold-plates-ann-taves-naturalistic-theory/

funakoshi said...

I read the post. It's an interesting twist. In the latest essay, the church floats the idea that the writing on the plates merely inspired Smith's work, rather than being a literal source (the post mentions this). Now this post does the same thing for the plates.

Smith either found an artifact or made the plates from tin, and they changed into gold plates by the power of faith. An analogy (a very elastic analogy) is made to Catholic transubstantiation of the Eucharist.

I suppose this trend toward abstraction makes counter argument pretty difficult. It replaces the observed and physical with faith and miracle. I am curious whether the modern day cynical and pragmatic rank and file members are going to buy it.

If they bought the fake World News article, they'll believe anything, and I think that is Waterman's point. Are folks really so desperate to bolster their faith?

Vaughn Hughes said...

It seems World News Daily has really been getting the upper hand on gullible readers lately, particularly in Utah. Their article about the mysterious creature washing up on the shores of Bear Lake (http://worldnewsdailyreport.com/utah-remains-of-mysterious-creature-discovered-at-bear-lake/) was apparently persuasive enough that folks there forgot it was from World News Daily (which is 100% fabricated articles) and spread it around enough that a local Utah news station had to respond by treating the World News Daily article as if it were serious. (http://fox13now.com/2016/02/16/no-this-is-not-the-bear-lake-monster-as-rumor-would-suggest/)

Miguel Aveiro said...

funakoshi,

I think the idea of Smith not making a literal translation refers to the Pearl of Great Price, rather than the Book of Mormon. It especially refers to the facsimiles, because we have pictures of the original images (maybe even the originals, but I'm not sure). Because an Egyptologist can translate the text and the translation is different to what Joseph Smith said, people say he was wrong and a fraud. Personally, I think Joseph Smith was translating what Abraham was saying about the facsimiles. Was Abraham a fraud? No, I believe he was just using the images to describe what happened with him and the Egyptians and using their symbols for his own meaning. There are examples of similar stuff to this going on in ancient times, with Romans and Greeks saying other peoples' gods are their own, and a Jewish synagogue containing Greek images.

Apologetics is useful for explaining how something doesn't necessarily contradict what we think we know about human history. But we can only know if the Book of Mormon and any other book is true by spiritual means.

funakoshi said...

"But we can only know if the Book of Mormon and any other book is true by spiritual means."

I was with you until the last sentence. Geez. I wish I'd thought of that when I took chemistry. I might have passed it.

Professor: The answer is C.

Me: No. The answer is B. The spirit told me. I demand full credit.

Miguel Aveiro said...

I was talking about books of scripture. I can tell you that God helped me learn science, but he gave me more help at the start. Then He expected me to study hard, and He would give me a bit of help here and there along the way.

If all this sounds like nonsense to you, then we need to begin with learning who God is and how we can come to know Him. It'll be easier than Chemistry, but requires some faith to get through it.

If the Spirit told you the answer is B then that must be the right answer and man's understanding of science hasn't caught up to it yet. Or maybe the professor made a mistake. It can happen.

funakoshi said...

Awesome. When the spirit tells me not to make a car payment, I'll send the repo man to you for an explanation. Let me know how that works out for you.

Miguel Aveiro said...

I think it's alright to doubt if it is the Spirit of God, if you're getting that kind of message.

funakoshi said...

The spirit was very clear. "Skip your car payment. Pay your tithes. Tithes are your first priority." The spirit also said "The correct answer was C. My bad."

Robert Horning said...

In fairness about the Bear Lake Monster, that story has been a local legend in Cache Valley since the time Elder Charles C. Rich of the Quorum of the Twelve lived in Bear Lake Valley (who is the guy that Rich County is named after...aka the county where Bear Lake is located). There is even a tourism company in Garden City that does tours of the lake to help people try to spot the thing... mostly with a tongue-in-cheek way of acknowledging it is all made up but none the less a fun story to tell around a camp fire. Sort of like the story of Old Ephraim, other than you can actually look at the skull of Old Ephraim.

As for the Book of Mormon, one of the largest flaws with the book is the lack of collaborating evidence with any form of archaeology. You can find such evidence that, for example, the Roman empire existed, look at the walls of Jerusalem from 2000 years ago including Herod's Temple, see independent 3rd party inscriptions about David and Solomon in other empires as well as subsequent Israeli kings, and even read the accounts of Josephus who at least brings some context to the New Testament. The historical existence of many people in the Bible can at least be attributed from multiple sources outside of the Bible, even if you see some people doubting the historical existence of Jesus (which I find dubious myself.... but you can get into some scholarly debate on that topic that doesn't need to be closed minded idiots).

I don't see that kind of independent witness of the events of the Book of Mormon. I would love to walk in the ruins of the City of Teancum, see the remains of the Temple of Zarahemla, and wade in the waters of the River Sidon. If the Book of Mormon was a true book, especially "the most correct book", you would see these kind of large things just like you can walk through the ruins of ancient Rome and Jerusalem... both cities mentioned prominently in the Bible.

Please don't get me started on the "Book of Mormon evidence" in central America. That is just one fraud after another that didn't even get mentioned at all by church leaders until the administration of David O. McKay. Apologists trying to explain how or even why Moroni went from central America to upstate New York to bury the Golden Plates is simply stuff made up from their heads. Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon people were the "Mound Builders", and that was commonly repeated by other early church leaders.

If you want to say that the Book of Mormon is a bunch of inspired stories, sort of like Aesop's Fables, or Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings", I could buy that and still base a testimony on the value of those stories as bringing truths about life. But if that is the case, it isn't really a correct book, is it?

Log said...

If the Book of Mormon was a true book, especially "the most correct book", you would see these kind of large things just like you can walk through the ruins of ancient Rome and Jerusalem... both cities mentioned prominently in the Bible.

I want to see the logic on this - because it's not an evidentiary claim, but a philosophical one. What are the assumptions which must be true for your claim to be true? Are those assumptions value-neutral? Or are they question-beggingly fallacious?

Log said...

Let's render this in its strongest form.

P1. If an account is historically accurate and includes mention of cities, then the locations of those cities must be known today.

I have to stop there, because it is not obvious that the consequent of P1 follows from the antecedent. I don't see a way to make this a deductively valid argument. But maybe that's just a failure of imagination on my part.

Maybe if I do it like this...

P1a. If an account is historically accurate and includes mention of cities, then the location of at least one of those cities must be known today.

That really doesn't seem to help, does it? There doesn't seem to be a way to link the antecedent to the consequent - it seems to be a non sequitur on its face.

It seems, in fact, that P1 and P1a are variants of "absence of evidence is evidence of absence." But that is a special case of the argument from ignorance, a fallacy, which is itself a variant of begging the question, a fallacy.

Now, P1 or P1a can be true, despite their obviously fallacious nature, but their obviously fallacious nature does not provide any basis for supposing they are true.

Log said...

Indeed, an assumption one can make to render P1 true would be that once founded, all cities continue to exist indefinitely into the future, and any changes in names for cities are recorded and maintained in historical documents which can be examined and understood at all periods of time since their founding.

I seem to recall the example of Troy, and even Jerusalem, which seem to falsify that assumption quite nicely. But what other assumption can suffice to render P1 deductively valid? (I need not consider P1a in this context, since if P1 is true, then P1a is true too.)

Robin Hood said...

Just a couple of points.
1. Gold does not rust. But how does a gold alloy behave? Or something that "has the appearance of gold"?
2. I have seen the Bear Lake "monster".

funakoshi said...

OK, but you know both stories and the accompanying photos are completely fake, right?

Gregory Hemsley said...

Iron rusts as it is oxidized. Gold alloys do not contain iron.

Miguel Aveiro said...

It's not just iron that rusts, and gold in an alloy prevents it from rusting. Maybe if you made an alloy with very little gold, then it might rust, but I don't know of any that has.

Robin Hood said...

Both my son and I saw the the Bear Lake "monster" when we were there jet skiing in 2006.
At the time we didn't know of any stories, rumours or legends. When we arrived back at our friends place in SLC we told her what we had seen and only then learned about the "monster" legend.
I know what I saw, and so does my son.

Steven Lester said...

Please, Mr. Hood, some details, please. Was it serpentine as is the one in Loch Ness, or was it more like a reptilian, such as being the great ocean-dwelling dinosaurs that were the top predators of their day? Did it attack in any way? And from its actions could you tell if it was air-breathing like the whale and porpoise is today?

funakoshi said...

I believe you. People report seeing cryptids all the time. It's quite common.

Log said...

But until it's reported by someone with the magical letters "P," "h," and "D" after their name, with the letters having been assigned by a body meeting with funakoshi's approval, such reporters are crackpots and nincompoops, amirite? Or did you mean to give actual credence to Robin's claim at face value, funakoshi?

Ellee said...

Ellee

I'm sorry to put this here, but don't see where else to ask.

I've been reading this blog for quite awhile, but lately when I come here to read I'm getting a message that says: Authentication Required: A user name & password are being requested from http://staging.lds.net. The site says "Restricted Area." Then there is a space to put a user name and password.

Am I the only one getting this message? Should I be concerned? Does it mean anything?

Thanks,

Log said...

I'm having that problem, too. My guess is Rock has, unbeknownst to himself, somehow linked to resources located on lds.net.

Log said...

Maybe one of the blogs on Rock's blogroll is hosted on lds.net?

Log said...

seems problem is limited to my work ipad...

PNW_DPer said...

Yea, I've been getting this message every time. I just click on the close button and go on.

Wonder if it has anything to do with the SCMC? (Just kidding, I think!)

Miguel Aveiro said...

I'm getting that too. When I try to go on staging.lds.net, which apparently is the LDS.net Mormon Social News Network, the same little window comes up and it won't let me on that site without putting it in.

I guess these sites are now restricted. At least this blog is still accessible.

funakoshi said...

@Ellee

Should work from a non-work device.

https://www.lds.org/help/support/internet-filter-overview?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/help/support/meetinghouse-firewall-overview?lang=eng

Log said...

Yeah, because lds.org and lds.net are totes identical domains.

Log said...

Well, it seems someone has fixed the problem; I haven't been getting the staging.lds.net login prompt for the last few accesses to this site.

What was the deal?

MrHFMetz said...

I have read "Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" by Robert Smith.
Although I found some material in the book, that Joseph Smith probably would not agree with, I found it on the whole a very inspired document. I am very glad it was advised as reading material on this blog and I have read it carefully and concluded that it should be read by every, I mean EVERY latter day saint who wants to take his/her religion seriously. All the time reading I was wondering who is this courageous man with these powerful conclusions; from what background is he writing: LDS, RLDS (could very well be, in my opinion) or even FLDS, or whatever?, and if LDS, has he already been excommunicated, and if not, I expected this to happen very soon. And here it is: on his own web-blog Upward Thought (looks interesting BTW) he announces his excommunication per february the 11th this year. Just incredible, what a joke this church is becoming. Just imagine that I am still a member of the club; I am beginning to wonder if I am actually in good company. Well Robert Smith certainly is, as the Lord Jesus Christ was also cut of from the Jewish church. Cutting off people unrighteously is a very big sin and it will be on the the guilty parties' heads in eternity. I would not want to be in their shoes.
Anyway, we will be rewarded according to our works, and if we have laid up treasures in heaven instead of on this earth we will be rewarded accordingly; nobody can take away that from us.

Gregory Hemsley said...

No, it's just iron that rusts. Other metals may corrode but only iron rusts. If there are other metal alloys which "rust" it is because they contain iron. Is anyone aware of a gold alloy containing Iron?

Log said...

Apparently, Google says there is a gold-iron alloy.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727745-400-first-gold-iron-alloy-shows-power-of-magnetic-attraction/

funakoshi said...

By all accounts, the plates are made of lead.

https://hamblinofjerusalem.wordpress.com/?s=Jordan&submit=Search

https://danielomcclellan.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/peter-thonemann-on-the-lead-codices/

http://www.patheos.com/search/jsp/templates/primaryJSP/fullview.jsp?Submit=Search&keyword=Elkington

Alan Rock Waterman said...

An eagle-eyed reader has pinpointed the problem that has prevented some people from logging on here. It was related to a blog on my blogroll that for some reason was being blocked on some filters, especially those tied in to work computers. I've removed that blog, and everything should be working fine now.

Miguel Aveiro said...

Yeah, you're right Gregory. Rust requires moisture as well as an oxide, like oxygen. That's something else that school was incorrect about. Things like this crop up from time to time. Good thing I have the internet now (and actually use it for educational purposes).