In Defense of Truth: Why I Write About The Book of Mormon

For quite some time now, the bulk of my personal scripture study has been dedicated to an in-depth investigation of the Book of Mormon, its origins, and doctrines. A lot of my work is somewhat scattered across several notebooks, which, having recently discovered I have ADD, explains why I could never keep it organized.

The purpose of the bulk of my work has been to find and research evidences of the truth of the Book of Mormon – in short, to develop a library of research “in defense of truth”, hence the title of my little project. But as I said, most of what I have is scattered, and doing all the research is a bit useless if I don’t have some way of keeping track of it. And even if I did keep track of it, what’s the use of having it if nobody knows it? I’m a firm believer that knowledge is best shared when possible.

And so, after a rather long period of thought, I’ve decided to do something a bit unorthodox. In addition to sharing my own personal scripture study, to a certain extent, I’m going to crowdsource it.

That’s right. I’m going to be publishing my work here, and getting input from readers with respect to what to study next. If nobody has suggestions, well, I have a mountain of my own to work through, and I’ll continue to do so.

Down to Business: What I’m Saying

The argument I wish to provide defense and support of:

If the Book of Mormon is true, Joseph Smith was a prophet, and received power and authority from God to translate it. If Joseph was a prophet, then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is what it claims to be, and must also be true.

Transitively, then, if the Book of Mormon is true, then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also true.

Ultimately, the purpose of this body of work is to provide a defense of the truth of the Book of Mormon. The reader is free to do what they will with the information.

A photograph of the English-language edition of the Book of Mormon
Image courtesy Wikipedia.

Let me take a moment to state here, once and for all, that I am not attempting to prove the Book of Mormon to be true. Not only is this beyond my capability, but I do not believe it can be done with present knowledge, as we know that we must walk by faith in this life, and an absolute knowledge would remove the need for faith.

If the reader wishes to know beyond doubt that the Book of Mormon is true, they must follow the counsel of Moroni:

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

Moroni 10:3-5

In plain language:

As you read the Book of Mormon:
1. Remember the mercy of God from the creation of Adam until your time
2. Ponder God’s mercy

When you receive the Book of Mormon:
1. Ask God in the name of Christ if it is true.
2. Ask with a sincere heart and real intent
3. Ask having faith in Christ

I understand the word “receive” in the Biblical sense – that is, to accept (as into a house), welcome, or to make one’s own. (See Strong’s Number G1209, particularly definition 2c, and Mark 9:37)

Target Audience and Ground Rules

As I hadn’t originally intended to share much, if any, of this, I’d like to make it clear now who my intended audience is. I write to the willing and honest enquirer, who searches for truth. In saying “willing and honest”, I mean two things:

1. The reader comes to the text with an open mind, with a desire to learn, willing to put forth the effort to understand things from another point of view, and acknowledging that while they are entitled to their own opinions, and they may potentially be relevant, this does not give them right to attack or belittle the author or work.

2. If the reader has questions, the motivation behind them is a sincere desire to understand the doctrine, text, or relevant history, and not to nitpick imperfections, actual or perceived.

I will be writing as much to myself as to anyone else, because I include myself as a “willing and honest enquirer”.

Since this is essentially a giant research project, odds are I’ll probably go back, update, and revise articles from time to time. For the sake of transparency, I’ll try to make it clear when I do this, what changes I made, and why.

This brings me to my ground rules. If you are reading, I ask:

1. You honestly try to understand the doctrine and relevant historical details.
2. You refrain from ad hominem attacks. I will not tolerate them, and all they do is make you look like an angry child who wants their ice cream.

In return, I promise:

1. To recognize that my word is not definitive on any subject. I am not an expert on Semitic languages, United States history, Church doctrine, or ancient scripture.
2. To cite my evidences as often and consistently as I can, and do the best that I can to write clearly and understandably.
3. To use sources that are as neutral as possible. (In practice, this means I’m going to be referring you to Wikipedia a lot.)
4. To accept your honest and sincere input, direction, and critique, and respond to it to the best of my abilities.
5. To admit when I have no answer to a perceived issue.

My Method: The Book of Mormon and Other Sources

The bulk of my arguments and evidences will be based directly on Book of Mormon text, commentary, and analysis. This includes addresses and published materials by the LDS Church and Brigham Young University. I will try to use online, publicly accessible material, as much to allow the reader to verify my information as because I’m a poor college kid and don’t want to spend $300 to order a book about the history and current status of the public library in the United States – perhaps at some point I’ll write about why I choose that particular example, but I’m trying to prioritize my time.

Attacks have been historically made upon the character of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon itself, various doctrines of the Church, and the notion of the Church as a cult. While many of these arguments may seem persuasive and convincing, the reality is that the central message of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that the true Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored by the latter-day prophet Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon is proof of this Restoration. Many proffered criticisms are completely irrelevant to this. You can know the truth of the Book of Mormon by the power of the Holy Ghost (Moroni 10:3-5, quoted above).

Breaking down the work, the task is to determine whether or not the Book of Mormon is “true”. This means:

1. translation of the work was performed with divine aid and direction, that
2. the work is a true history of an offshoot of Israel upon the American Continent, and that
3. the doctrine and promises it contains are consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’m going to be presenting my arguments from a logical standpoint, hence why I specifically said I’m not trying to prove the Book of Mormon itself to be true. That requires faith, which, unfortunately, is somewhat outside the realm of modern computability theory. At the very least, it lies beyond my understanding of computability theory.

Conclusion: What I’m Not Saying

The goal of my work is to present convincing evidences to the reader with respect to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and allow the reader to come to their own conclusions. For future reference, I will keep a running record of these evidences, and where possible, rebuttal of objections to them (including indication of whether or not they’re relevant to my work) on this article.

However, I am not writing to rebut others’ arguments. I am also not writing to brainwash anybody, or to be a source of antagonism. I’m also not writing for the sake of idle debate. I’m not writing about the need for the Restoration, the evolution of the modern Church, or anything that does not pertain directly to my central argument. In the course of writing, some of these topic may be touched on, and I may even write some articles to give some historical background, but they are not my main focus.

I write to present and elaborate upon what evidence exists within the Book of Mormon and within our own body of knowledge. Ultimately, I write in an effort to expand the breadth and depth of the reader’s faith in Jesus Christ, and invite them to “come and see“.

If you wish to contact me feel free to use my contact form.

100 Movies to See

Similar to my list of 100 books to read, I’ve started a bucket list of movies. Those listed below are taken from IMDB’s top 100 movies of all time.

To date, I’ve seen 16 of these. Note that there are a few of them that I will not watch, and the list is subject to change.

Up Next

  • Sunset Blvd.
  • Vertigo
  • A Streetcar Named Desire

The List

  1. The Godfather (1972)
  2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  3. Schindler’s List (1993)
  4. Raging Bull (1980)
  5. Casablanca (1942)
  6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  7. Gone with the Wind (1939)
  8. Citizen Kane (1941)
  9. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  10. Titanic (1997)
  11. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  12. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
  13. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
  14. Psycho (1960)
  15. Vertigo (1958)
  16. On the Waterfront (1954)
  17. Forrest Gump (1994)
  18. The Sound of Music (1965)
  19. West Side Story (1961)
  20. Star Wars (1977)
  21. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  22. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  23. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  24. Chinatown (1974)
  25. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  26. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
  27. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  28. 12 Angry Men (1957)
  29. Chicago (2002)
  30. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
  31. Amadeus (1984)
  32. Apocalypse Now (1979)
  33. Gandhi (1982)
  34. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  35. Gladiator (2000)
  36. From Here to Eternity (1953)
  37. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  38. Unforgiven (1992)
  39. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  40. Rocky (1976)
  41. Some Like It Hot (1959)
  42. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
  43. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  44. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
  45. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  46. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  47. My Fair Lady (1964)
  48. Ben-Hur (1959)
  49. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
  50. Jaws (1975)
  51. Patton (1970)
  52. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
  53. Dances with Wolves (1990)
  54. Braveheart (1995)
  55. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  56. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
  57. High Noon (1952)
  58. The Apartment (1960)
  59. Platoon (1986)
  60. The Pianist (2002)
  61. Goodfellas (1990)
  62. The Deer Hunter (1978)
  63. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
  64. The French Connection (1971)
  65. City Lights (1931)
  66. It Happened One Night (1934)
  67. A Place in the Sun (1951)
  68. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  69. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
  70. An American in Paris (1951)
  71. Annie Hall (1977)
  72. Rain Man (1988)
  73. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
  74. Out of Africa (1985)
  75. Good Will Hunting (1997)
  76. Terms of Endearment (1983)
  77. Tootsie (1982)
  78. Fargo (1996)
  79. Shane (1953)
  80. Giant (1956)
  81. Jurassic Park (1993)
  82. Network (1976)
  83. Nashville (1975)
  84. Wuthering Heights (1939)
  85. The Graduate (1967)
  86. American Graffiti (1973)
  87. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  88. The African Queen (1951)
  89. Stagecoach (1939)
  90. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
  91. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  92. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  93. Taxi Driver (1976)
  94. Double Indemnity (1944)
  95. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
  96. Rear Window (1954)
  97. The Third Man (1949)
  98. North by Northwest (1959)
  99. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

100 (or more) books to read before you die

The inspiration for this page is taken from the Art of Manliness list of must-read books, which I have made part of my list of 100 books to read before you die. Eventually I’ll get around to publishing my own recommendations, but here is a public record of which books, from that list, I have finished. The idea isn’t to finish the books and stop reading forever, but to have a place to come back to when I don’t have anything that strikes me as interesting.

Feedback from family has encouraged me to add some titles to the list, and so, based on their suggestions and a few wikipedia articles, I’ve added some titles to my list. Don’t expect this to stay at the number it’s at (found here and here).

If you’re curious about past books I’ve read, I’ve reviewed a fair amount of them on goodreads.com, and the link to my profile is in the footer of this page.

Currently in queue

  • Walden
  • The Art of Warfare
  • Divine Comedy

The List

To date, I have read 22 of these books, and several others are in my reading queue.

  1. The
 Great 
Gatsby 
by 
F. 
Scott 
Fitzgerald
 Completed 2005
  2. The 
Prince 
by 
Niccolo 
Machiavelli
  3. Slaughterhouse‐Five
 by
 Kurt
 Vonnegut
  4. 1984 
by 
George
 Orwell
  5. The
 Republic 
by 
Plato
  6. Brothers 
Karamazov
 by 
Fyodor 
Dostoevsky
  7. The
 Catcher
 and
 the
 Rye 
by 
J.D.
 Salinger
  8. The
 Wealth 
of 
Nations 
by
 Adam
 Smith
  9. For
 Whom
 the
 Bell 
Tolls
 by
 Ernest
 Hemingway
  10. The
 Picture
 of 
Dorian 
Gray 
by
 Oscar 
Wilde
 Completed February 2013
  11. The 
Grapes 
of 
Wrath 
by 
John 
Steinbeck
  12. Brave
 New
 World 
by 
Aldous 
Huxley
  13. How
 To 
Win
 Friends 
And 
Influence 
People 
by 
Dale 
Carnegie
  14. Call
 of
 the
 Wild
 by
 Jack 
London
  15. The
 Rise 
of 
Theodore 
Roosevelt
 by 
Edmund
 Morris
  16. Swiss 
Family 
Robinson
 by 
Johann 
David 
Wyss
 Completed 1999
  17. Dharma
 Bums
 by 
Jack 
Kerouac
  18. The
 Iliad
 and
 Odyssey
 of 
Homer
 Completed 2005
  19. Catch‐22
 by 
Joseph 
Heller Completed 2006
  20. Walden
 by 
Henry 
David 
Thoreau
  21. Lord
 of 
the
 Flies 
by 
William
 Golding
 Completed 2005
  22. The
 Master 
and 
Margarita
 by 
Mikhail 
Bulgakov
  23. Bluebeard
 by 
Kurt 
Vonnegut
  24. Atlas 
Shrugged 
by 
Ayn 
Rand
  25. The
 Metamorphosis
 by
 Franz 
Kafka
  26. American 
Boys’ 
Handy
 Book
  27. Into
 Thin
 Air
 by
 John
 Krakauer
  28. King
 Solomon’s 
Mines
 by
 H. 
Rider 
Haggard
  29. The
 Idiot 
by 
Fyodor
 Dostoevsky
  30. A
 River
 Runs
 Through
 It 
by 
Norman
 F. 
Maclean
  31. The
 Island
 of 
Dr. 
Moreau
 by 
H.G. 
Wells
  32. Malcolm
 X: 
The 
Autobiography
  33. Theodore
 Rex 
by 
Edmund
 Morris
  34. The
 Count
 of 
Monte 
Cristo 
by 
Alexandre
 Dumas
  35. All
 Quiet
 on
 The 
Western
 Front
 by
 Erich 
Maria 
Remarq
  36. The
 Red 
Badge 
of 
Courage
 by
 Stephen 
Crane
  37. Lives
 of 
the 
Noble
 Greeks
 and 
Romans
 by
 Plutarch
  38. The
 Strenuous
 Life 
by 
Theodore 
Roosevelt
  39. The 
Bible
 Completed 2006
  40. Lonesome
 Dove 
by 
Larry 
McMurtry
  41. The
 Maltese
 Falcon
 by 
Dashiell 
Hammett
  42. 
The
 Long 
Goodbye
 by
 Raymond
 Chandler
  43. To 
Kill 
a 
Mockingbird 
by 
Harper
 Lee
 Completed 2005
  44. The
 Dangerous
 Book
 for
 Boys
 by
 Conn
 and 
Hal 
Iggulden
  45. The
 Killer 
Angels
 by
 Michael 
Shaara
  46. The 
Autobiography
 of
 Benjamin
 Franklin
  47. The
 Histories 
by 
Herodotus
  48. From 
Here
 to
 Eternity
 by 
James 
Jones
  49. The
 Frontier 
in 
American
 History 
by 
Frederick 
Jackson
 Turner
  50. Zen
 and
 the
 Art
 of 
Motorcycle 
Maintenance 
by 
Robert
 Pirsig
  51. Self
 Reliance
 by
 Ralph
 Waldo 
Emerson
  52. Another 
Roadside
 Attraction
 by
 Tom 
Robbins
  53. White
 Noise 
by
 Don
 Delillo
  54. Ulysses
 by
 James
 Joyce
  55. The
 Young
 Man’s 
Guide 
by 
William
 Alcott
  56. Blood 
Meridian,
 or
 the 
Evening 
Redness
 in
 the 
West 
by 
Cormac 
McCarthy
  57. Seek:
 Reports
 from
 the 
Edges 
of 
America 
&
 Beyond
 by 
Denis 
Johnson
  58. Crime 
And 
Punishment
 by 
Fyodor 
Dostoevsky
 Completed 2008
  59. Steppenwolf 
by 
Herman
 Hesse
  60. The 
Book 
of 
Deeds
 of
 Arms
 and
 of 
Chivalry 
by 
Christine
 De
 Pizan
  61. The 
Art
 of 
Warfare 
by 
Sun 
Tzu
  62. Don
 Quixote
 by
 Miguel
 de
 Cervantes 
Saavedra
 Completed 2007
  63. Into
 the 
Wild
 by
 Jon 
Krakauer
  64. The
 Divine 
Comedy
 by 
Dante 
Alighieri
  65. The
 Hobbit 
by 
JRR 
Tolkien
 Completed 1999
  66. The
 Rough
 Riders 
by 
Theodore
 Roosevelt
  67. East
 of 
Eden 
by 
John
 Steinbeck
  68. Leviathan
 by 
Thomas 
Hobbes
  69. The
 Thin 
Red 
Line 
by 
James 
Jones
  70. Adventures
 of
 Huckleberry
 Finn
 by
 Mark
 Twain
 Completed 2000
  71. The
 Politics 
by 
Aristotle
  72. First
 Edition 
of
 the 
The
 Boy
 Scout 
Handbook
  73. Cyrano
 de
 Bergerac 
by 
Edmond
 Rostand
  74. Tropic
 of 
Cancer 
by 
Henry
 Miller
  75. The
 Crisis
 by
 Winston
 Churchill
  76. The
 Naked
 and
 The 
Dead 
by 
Norman 
Mailer
  77. Hatchet
 by 
Gary 
Paulsen
 Completed 2000
  78. Animal
 Farm
 by
 George
 Orwell
 Completed 2002
  79. Tarzan
 of
 the
 Apes
 by
 Edgar
 Rice 
Burroughs
  80. Beyond 
Good 
and 
Evil 
by
 Freidrich 
Nietzsche
  81. The
 Federalist
 Papers 
by 
Alexander
 Hamilton,
 John
 Jay,
 and 
James
 Madison
  82. Moby 
Dick
 by 
Herman 
Melville
  83. Essential
 Manners
 for 
Men 
by 
Peter 
Post
  84. Frankenstein 
by
 Mary 
Wollstonecraft
 Shelly
  85. Hamlet
 by 
Shakespeare Completed 2006
  86. The 
Boys
 of
 Summer
 by
 Roger
 Kahn
  87. A
 Separate 
Peace 
by 
John 
Knowles
  88. A
 Farewell
 To
 Arms 
by 
Ernest 
Hemingway
  89. The 
Stranger 
by
 Albert 
Camus
  90. Robinson 
Crusoe 
by 
Daniel 
Dafoe
 Completed 2000
  91. The
 Pearl
 by
 John
 Steinbeck
 Completed 2004
  92. On
 the
 Road
 by
 Jack 
Kerouac
  93. Treasure 
Island
 by
 Robert
 Louis
 Stevenson
 Completed 1999
  94. Confederacy
 of 
Dunces
 by 
John
Kennedy
Toole
  95. Foucault’s 
Pendulum
 by 
Umberto
 Eco
  96. The
 Great
 Railway 
Bazaar 
by
 Paul 
Theroux
  97. Fear
 and 
Trembling
 by
 Soren
 Kierkegaard
  98. Undaunted 
Courage 
by 
Stephen 
Ambrose
  99. Paradise
 Lost
 by
 John
 Milton
  100. Cannery
 Row 
by 
John 
Steinbeck
  101. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Completed 2006
  102. Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
  103. Epic of Gilgamesh
  104. One Thousand and One Nights
  105. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Completed March 2013
  106. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  107. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  108. Cien años de soledad by Gabriel García Márquez Completed December 2013, in original Spanish
  109. Faust by Goethe
  110. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  111. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
  112. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  113. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  114. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Completed November 2008, now to do it in French!
  115. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  116. The Quran
  117. The Bhagavad Gita
  118. The Torah

Believe in good things to come

I’ve received multiple requests of late from friends and friends of friends that I continue writing as I did while I was in Chile. It’s rather unfortunate that I’ve been so slow to respond, because writing has always been a wonderful respite for me, and an incredible chance to reflect on the things that have happened recently in my life. I’ve been thinking a lot about Jeffrey R Holland’s talk “Good Things to Come“, and am picking myself up to start again. So here’s to starting anew and trying again. Shall we?

I’ve begun seriously studying Portuguese, and it is nothing short of wonderful. It reminds me of faces from Santiago, and some of the adventures I had there. I also recently, after quite some deliberation, decided to change my major to computer science, and this semester I’m gathering together the materials I need to apply for the animation emphasis. In November and December I took a class on 3d animation and fell in love with the material.

Sitting here in a cafe, watching cars pass and staring across the street at the gas station, all I can really think about right now is the journey of life. I’m planning a trip back to Santiago for this summer. Nobody else from my family will be coming along. It has been nearly two years since I got back, and not a day passes that something doesn’t remind me of the people and places there.

Time passes. People change. We make mistakes. We try to pick ourselves up and make the best we can with whatever we have. For each of us that means something different, but the story doesn’t really change all that much.

But who de we bring along on our journey? Do we really stop to look around and appreciate those who, for one reason or another, are thrust into our lives (or us into theirs) and appreciate them for who they are? Imperfect, yes, but beautiful each in their own right. Each bearing scars and stories not so different from ours that make them who they are. Perhaps the most beautiful part of life is that we can grow and overcome. No, it isn’t always easy, but it can be done.

I’m not a big believer in coincidence, especially when it comes to the people in my life. God is in the little things as much as big. Those memories have held me through the hard times that have happened in the last couple of years. We are blessed with both wonderful memories and terrible tragedies in this life, but the choice is ours what to do with them. Even the tragedies can be a blessing when viewed in the right light. They can lead to unexpected adventures, and the people who come along with us for the ride are often the ones we most come to love and understand, and it is in those dark, dreary moments that our memories of good times past, combined with our hope, can carry us through and give us the strength to press forward and believe in the good things to come.