Highlight text to annotate itX
(gentle guitar music)
John: So, it's 83 pages long, the letter,
but you can read it in a day.
I think you can, certainly within a couple of days.
You use creative commons attribution,
creative commons licensing, which I thought was cool.
What went into that decision?
Jeremy: It's not my information
and I stand on the shoulders of giants, the Tanners.
They're real...they're the real hipsters.
John: The Tanners?
Jeremy: Yeah, they knew a lot of this stuff in the '60s,
and they're just now being vindicated.
I heard about the Tanners, the "anti-Mormons",
the God makers and all that stuff
How can you not watch that interview with Sandra Tanner?
She's just this nice grandma
that knows a lot of stuff about Mormon history.
I'm not a Christian.
I don't really relate to the whole Christian stuff.
The stuff that they figured out and came out with -
they were involved in a lot of stuff,
that Mark Hofmann stuff, the Book of Abraham,
and so it's really interesting.
I stand on the shoulders of giants.
What I did was I took their research,
and their insights, and their works,
and I put it in a way that worked best for me,
that explained my train of thought
in terms of why I no longer believed in the Church.
John: It's almost like a condensed version
of "Mormonism, Shadow or Reality" in a sense.
If you look at the Tanners' book,
"Mormonism, Shadow or Reality,"
it's like several inches thick,
and this is a lot thinner.
You could even see it as a distillation,
without the bold and capitalized letters,
and underlined letters Jerald was famous for.
Jeremy: This relates to my deafness.
Writing is really my language.
It's just the place where I don't mispronounce stuff.
You know what I mean?
Jeremy: It's just my language.
It's where I'm comfortable,
so I developed this way of being able
to communicate through writing
that I guess a lot of people relate to.
I just wanna get straight to the point, you know?
Boom, boom, boom, boom,
'cause anybody can write a 500-page book or whatever.
I wanted something that the CES Director would read.
At the time, this was directed to the CES Director and my family.
John: Read the quote you have
from J. Reuben Clark at the beginning.
Jeremy: "If we have the truth,
"no harm can come from investigation.
"If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed."
John: "If we have the truth,
"it cannot be harmed by investigation.
"If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed."
I just thought that bore repetition.
So, this is gonna be hard 'cause we're gonna try
to cover a lot of ground
in a relatively short amount of time.
Let's start with the Book of Mormon.
If you had to summarize maybe your
top three concerns with the Book of Mormon,
if that's even possible,
or what are some of your main concerns in the Book of Mormon?
Jeremy: The presence of 1769 King James Version errors
in the Book of Mormon.
This 1769 version.
This is errors specific to that edition.
What is it doing in the Book of Mormon,
supposedly an ancient text,
with its ancient prophets,
in the Americas that were engraving on gold plates?
What are the errors doing in there?
John: So, we've got a version of the King James Bible
that we know that Joseph had in his possession.
Jeremy: FAIR will say, "Well, he didn't,"
but if I shoot you with nine-millimeter bullets,
and you're on the ground,
and there's nine-millimeter bullets around,
it doesn't matter whether a witness -
you don't need witnesses or a video recording of the ***.
Just the fact that there's nine-millimeter
shell casings on the floor is its own damning evidence.
Put another way, what are 19th century
nine millimeter shell casings or bullets doing
in a work from the Book of Mormon time, before 421 A.D.?
John: Yeah, so there are errors in that version
of the Bible, the 1769 King James Version of the Bible.
How in the world do we go
from the Nephite prophets writing what they wrote,
or writing down Christ's words -
so something gets spoken by Jesus,
then it gets written in the plates,
then it gets abridged by Mormon or Moroni,
whoever abridged it, then it gets put in a hill,
then later gets delivered to Joseph.
Then he has to translate through the power
and gift of God, these plates.
Then, all of a sudden, we've got direct quotes
coming from this version of the Bible -
Jeremy: Yeah, like errors.
John: That are errors -
Jeremy: It's not just quotes.
John: Unique to that edition.
Jeremy: FAIR, they changed their answer, but basically they say,
"It's possible God gave him the errors."
John: Maybe God inspired Joseph to include the errors
to test our faith, maybe?
Jeremy: Well, if God is gonna test our faith -
I don't wanna worship that kind of God that's playing games.
Yeah, that's how damning the evidence is
that he put errors in there.
FAIR admitted that.
It's possible that God gave him the errors.
That's a big one right there.
The other big one for me is the...Sermon on the Mount.
There's a Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Mormon,
and there's a Sermon on the Mount in the Bible,
and they're identical.
Later, Joseph Smith basically said,
"Well, I gotta go fix this,"
so he did the Joseph Smith translation
on the Sermon on the Mount, and it's different.
He basically corrected the Sermon on the Mount in the Bible,
but unwittingly, the Book of Mormon
contains that incorrect Sermon on the Mount passage
that he corrected.
Why is the Book of Mormon containing
that incorrect Sermon on the Mount passage,
when it should have contained the correct
Joseph Smith translation to begin with?
John: If Joseph produced the true version
of the Bible through his translation,
that should have just appeared -
John: In the Book of Mormon, but it doesn't.
Jeremy: The other one is the italics.
Basically, this is 17th century King James translators.
They put their own words into the text
to make the English more readable.
For example, there's seven words exactly,
in consecutive order,
that these translators put in in 1611, 1612.
John: Sort of translating the Hebrew
and then adding their own -
Jeremy: Translating, from what I understand, Latin.
John: Or Greek.
Jeremy: Yeah, somewhere, I'm not sure exactly,
but basically taking and translating,
and they're putting their own words into it.
John: And they italicize those words
so that we'd know they were -
Jeremy: That's how we know that they were words
that the translators put in.
John: Why are the words of translators
of the New Testament also showing up -
Jeremy: Why are the words of 17th century,
basically 1611, 1612, 1613 dudes in England,
why are their words appearing
into this ancient Book of Mormon
that was written in the Americas
thousands of years ago, and they're the exact words.
I mean, you know?
John: Going back to the translation,
Joseph Smith translation,
you would think he would have known,
if he had used the Bible
to just create the Book of Mormon,
you would think that he would have remembered
that he did that and remembered that if he were
to do a re-translation of the New Testament,
that that would show a discrepancy, right?
Jeremy: Every genius makes their mistakes once in a while.
It doesn't matter how perfect.
There's always gonna be a slip-up somewhere.
I don't know.
It goes back to
I shoot you with nine-millimeter bullets.
We can talk about why didn't Joseph know this?
Why did he let this happen?
It doesn't matter.
We have the nine-millimeter shell casings
in an ancient work.
John: You talk about DNA in here.
I think we've covered that some on Mormon Stories.
I think we had Simon Southerton on at one point.
Anachronisms, we covered with Michael Coe.
I refer our listeners to that very good interview - Archaeology.
Anything else about the Book of Mormon that sticks out?
You've got a really good map here,
and we can maybe splice in this image
of Book of Mormon geography.
Talk about that for a second.
Jeremy: The Book of Mormon geography is based
on a guy by the name of Vernon Holley.
In his work, "Book of Mormon -
I'm sorry. What was it?
"Book of Mormon Authorship - A Closer Look"
This is kind of controversial.
Basically, what he did is he based the geography
based on Joseph Smith's back yard
in upstate New York, New England,
parts of Canada, so there are similarities.
He obviously made some mistakes,
and FAIR pointed those mistakes out,
and I corrected them in the CES letter.
If you go to "Debunking FAIR's Debunking,"
which is on my website,
you can see some of the different
individual cities that me and FAIR went over.
FAIR says, "This city's incorrect,"
and I go, "Well, yeah, okay, that's incorrect."
To me, it's not a slam-dunk.
It's not (claps hands) proof that Joseph Smith -
it's not the strongest point in my paper.
I just put it there just to -
It's got some names in there that's very similar to,
if not the same as, many of the cities in Joseph Smith's time.
John: Some of the examples would be -
Jeremy: There's a few of them.
There's Lehigh, and then there's Rama,
which is basically the Jaredite Hill Cumorah.
It's close by.
FAIR says, "Well, you know, it's not exactly in Palmyra
where the Hill Cumorah is."
What a lot of apologists and ex-Mormons that say,
"Well, Joseph Smith messed up," don't realize is
that the maps don't have to match up perfectly.
They just have to match up closely.
It's not real.
If somebody's making it up,
like "The Lord of the Rings,"
it doesn't matter if a city is -
It doesn't make sense if the city's here. It's made up.
but the fact of the presence of the name is -
John: The letter says there are a lot of names
that occur in the Book of Mormon that clearly Joseph -
Jeremy: It's possible that Joseph could have
used them as reference.
Again, I'm not saying that Joseph did it,
and it's proved, and it's slam-dunk, case closed.
I'm just bringing it up as
it's an interesting note to look at.
John: You also talk about Moroni
as the capital city in some islands.
Jeremy: In the Comoros.
Jeremy: Yeah, this is pretty interesting.
In the southeast part of Africa,
there's an island called Comoros.
Its Arabic name is Camora.
That's what it's known in the early days.
They had a port, Moroni.
It was famous in Captain Kidd stories,
because Captain Kidd visited the island on his ship,
and there's a famous story
where a lot of his crew members died on the island.
Something happened there where he was later
convicted of and hanged basically
for a crime that happened near the island.
It's a big part of the whole Captain Kidd folklore.
John: Who was what? Who did what?
Whose occupation was what?
Jeremy: He was a pirate.
He was a treasure hunter, basically.
John: A treasure hunter.
And who else was a treasure hunter?
Jeremy: Joseph Smith, and it wasn't just Joseph Smith.
It was his dad. It was his brother.
They had a family business.
It wasn't just them.
There's a newspaper article, a clip of a newspaper,
that talked about, in those days, it was pervasive.
It was widespread.
In New England, they were really into treasure hunting.
They were really into these stories
about Captain Kidd, buried treasure,
buried treasure in the earth.
Joseph Smith and his family, they had a family business
They would go around to their neighbors,
and Joseph Smith would look in his rock in his hat,
and, "Oh, yeah, gold is over there.
"Silver's over there."
"Thank you for your money. Have a great day."
We'll get into the Book of Mormon translation
and how that relates to that,
but in order to really understand Mormonism,
you have to understand the setting,
the culture of that time.
They were really into folklore.
They were really into superstition.
Joseph Smith's neighbor, if he came up to you
and you said, "I received a vision of the Lord,"
your natural response would be to say,
"Well, what did the Lord say?"
It wouldn't be, "Okay, just stay right here.
I'll be right back,"
and then you go call the mental hospital
to come pick up the guy.
It was a totally different culture
and way of seeing life.
You have to understand the treasure digging
and Captain Kidd and all that stuff
in order to really understand the Witnesses
and the restoration of the church,
because it really plays into how the Witnesses saw
what the worldview was.
John: You think that there's a good likelihood
that Joseph would have heard these Captain Kidd stories,
and known about Moroni and Cumorah?
Jeremy: Yeah, you know, nickel and dime novels in the day?
Joseph Smith was in the area
where there was a lot of traffic,
a lot of coming and goings.
A lot of people have written articles about the connection
with Captain Kidd stories and Joseph Smith.
A lot of new articles are gonna be coming out,
so 2014, 2015 are gonna be known
as the years of "Captain Kidd"
because we're just now starting
to really understand Captain Kidd
and the connection with
not just Joseph Smith, but his peers.
John: What about the - I think it's called
the loose translation kind of argument
that, of course, Joseph's translating reformed Egyptian.
He can't use names.
He probably doesn't even know how they're pronounced
if he's reading reformed Egyptian.
Of course, he's just gonna pull names,
familiar names, whether it's steel, or horse, or Moroni.
He's not gonna be able to speak in reformed Egyptian,
so he's gonna use words around him.
Jeremy: That's not according to the historical record.
When you read David Widmer's account
of how the rock in the hat translation -
Joseph Smith would look at the rock,
and the word would appear on the stone,
so it wouldn't disappear
and a new word would come up until he got it right,
until he pronounced it right.
so that's a really tight translation.
John: God's giving him the English words through the stone.
Jeremy: Yeah, he's giving him the English words
in the stone but at the same time,
He's also giving him weird words like "curelom".
Jeremy: Yeah, just weird words
that don't mean anything.
You got this weird situation where
there's no horses in the Americas,
so you have guys like Peterson saying,
"Well, maybe they were tapirs."
John: Tapirs, yeah.
Jeremy: Tapirs. I'm sorry.
So, they were tapirs, and you got this,
"Well, it's not really a horse. It's a tapir."
It just creates this really weird contorted -
it just doesn't make sense.
John: Also, there's all these currencies
that have these weird names, too.
It's not like weird names weren't
appearing on the stone, right?
So, why would God give Joseph
Moroni, or Cumorah, or whatever.
Jeremy: When you go back to the 1769
King James version errors,
it just creates all kind of problems.
John: There are three other potential sources
that you mention that are kind of mind-boggling.
One is "View of the Hebrews,"
which I think our listeners are gonna know about.
The other is "The Late War,"
and then the other is "The First Book of Napoleon."
We've also heard people talk
about "The Spaulding Manuscript."
I don't see much talk of that in your letter.
Talk about each of these sources,
and then help us make sense for how you're
seeing the Book of Mormon come together,
'cause I've been on a personal quest lately
to try and figure out where the book comes from.
Jeremy: I credit a lot of the recent work
that's going into this to the Johnson brothers,
Chris and Duane.
They're doing a lot of work.
What's happening now is very fascinating,
because as computers are getting better and better,
we're able to process or mine through big data.
What's happening is Google,
they're putting more and more books online.
They're making it digital.
We're seeing more and more of these books online,
and we're able to go through these books,
looking for patterns and certain words.
What's happening is very fascinating in the sense,
for example, "The Late War."
This is a fairly new development.
One person wrote about the Late War in 2008,
but the Johnson brothers, from what I understand,
they didn't come across this work
until after they released their research.
Basically, they went through a lot of books
looking for specific Book of Mormon wording
that was unique to the Book of Mormon,
basically doing statistics to see which works
were closest to the wording and pattern, and so forth.
"The Late War" was one of them that showed up
and "The First Napoleon" was another.
When you read "The Late War,"
it's just really fascinating.
John: Do you mind if I read a little bit of it?
Jeremy: Yeah, absolutely.
John: All right, you've got this here.
This is a book that was published in 1819,
so that would have been a year
before Joseph allegedly had his First Vision,
11 years before the Book of Mormon
would have been produced.
This is how it starts.
This is chapter one of "The Late War."
"Now it came to pass
in the one thousandth, eight hundredth and 12th year
of the Christian era, and in the 30 and sixth year
after the people of the provinces of Columbia
had declared themselves
a free and independent nation,
that in the sixth month of the same year,
on the first day of the month,
the chief governor, whom the people had chosen
to rule over the land of Columbia,
even James, whose surname was Madison,
delivered a written paper to the Great Sannhedrim
of the people who were assembled together,
and the name of the city
where the people were gathered together
was called after the name
of the chief captain of the land of Columbia,
whose fame extendeth to the othermost parts
of the earth, albeit he had slept with his fathers.
What does that do to the Book of Mormon for you?
Jeremy: It didn't just stop there.
Just listening to that,
it sounds a lot like the Book of Mormon,
but when you start to look at the parallels
and the themes that the book also has -
three Indian prophets, a rod of iron,
war between the wicked and the righteous,
maintaining the standard of liberty with righteousness,
false Indian prophets -
John: Breast plates.
Jeremy: Yeah, on the CES Letter,
there's a link to a web page.
I strongly recommend you click on that link.
That's Duane Johnson's webpage.
It's an excellent one page
that just goes over "The Late War"
in relation to the Book of Mormon,
and seeing the different parallels.
It's just really fascinating.
You look at that and it really
makes you think about things.
John: The fact that it has Chiasmus
in the text is significant.
Why is that significant?
Jeremy: That was a big defense
that the apologists used for decades.
The Book of Mormon has them as well.
They're ancient. They're of ancient origin.
John: Only Hebrews or whoever would have used Chiasmus?
John: And so it's evidence of an ancient text?
Jeremy: Right, but here we have a
contemporary 19th century book in 1819 that's using it.
So, this really blows that defense out of the water.
John: What about "The First Book of Napoleon"?
Jeremy: It's very similar, too.
John: This is an 1809 book.
John: So, this is even earlier.
Jeremy: "And behold, it came to pass
"in these latter days that an evil spirit
"came on the face of the earth
"and greatly troubled the sons of man,
"and this spirit seized upon
"and spread amongst the people
"who dwelt in the land of Gaul.
"Now in this people, the fear of the Lord had not been
"for many generations,
"and they had become a corrupt and perverse people,
"and their chief priests and the nobles of the land
"and the learned men thereof had become wicked
"in the imagines of their hearts
"and in the practices of their lives."
John: That sounds very much
like the Book of Mormon to me, or the Bible,
but more like the Book of Mormon.
Jeremy: More like the Book of Mormon.
Jeremy: This is something that only those
that have really read the Book of Mormon understand.
There's that language that you become familiar with,
I read the Book of Mormon many times,
and when I first read this, it floored me.
I had to check and see, is this real?
It just really floored me, the similarities.
John: You letter goes on to explain
in a lot of details the parallel.
The other thing I'll say just really briefly is
I think my listeners will have heard
about the "View of the Hebrews,"
which is a book that Oliver Cowdery's minister,
Ethan Smith, published around what year
was the "View of the Hebrews" published?
Jeremy: I think -
John: 1825, so five years
before the Book of Mormon comes out,
and it also has parallels where it's talking about - it's trying
to explain the origin of the Native Americans.
It mentions that they came over
from Jerusalem in a boat and came to America,
and that some were wicked and some were righteous.
What? The wicked group beats the righteous group?
Jeremy: Yeah, it's got like Hebrew is the origin
of the Indian language.
It came from Jerusalem,
the scattering, the lost Indian records.
It talks about yellow leaves.
To take a step back,
this isn't just something that some ex-Mormon
or anti-Mormon looked into.
This Elder B. H. Roberts.
He was a General Authority.
He was a very respected scholar in the church
back in the early 20th century.
This was private research that he was doing
with the end goal of presenting his research
to the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency.
It was private.
It wasn't meant to be put out
for the church or the world,
but it ended up being published in 1985,
into a book called, "Studies of the Book of Mormon."
It's really fascinating.
This was a believing General Authority
that was struggling with all these parallels.
This wasn't just some author
that wrote the "View of the Hebrews."
Ethan Smith was Oliver Cowdery's pastor in Poultney -
I'm not sure if that's pronounced correctly -
It's very fascinating, the connections.
As you know, after Martin Harris lost the 116 pages,
Oliver Cowdery took over as the scribe
for the Book of Mormon,
and he was more than likely aware
of the "View of the Hebrews" and its connection
because his own pastor was all over it.
John: Let's go back to the macro view for a second.
We've got the Late War.
We've got the Napoleon.
We've got "View of the Hebrews."
What does this have to do with the Book of Mormon?
Do you have a theory
of how the Book of Mormon was produced?
Jeremy: I don't have an original theory,
but I share the Johnsons' point of view
that everything is a remix.
It's not like Joseph Smith used one source,
and that tends to be the point of view
of the people, the Spaulding Manuscript and all that.
I look at it as...everything's a remix.
For example, we know that Joseph Smith used
1769 King James version errors in the Book of Mormon.
John: So, we know one source for sure.
Jeremy: Yeah, but we also know
that it's not just the Book of Mormon.
When we go into the Book of Abraham,
and you see how Joseph Smith copied
hieroglyphic characters from different papyri
to fill in missing parts of Facsimile 2, for example,
He copied totally random hieroglyphics,
and turned them around.
I have graphics in "Debunking FAIR's Debunking"
but it shows how he grabbed the hieroglyphics
and he turned them around, switched them around
to fill in the damaged parts of Facsimile 2.
You see that modus operandi.
You see that pattern, how he's grabbing stuff
from different sources.
In the Book of Abraham, there's a lot of similarities
between - I'm sorry -
the name of the book "Philosophy of the Future State" -
so to me, he didn't just use one source.
Another example the Lehi's dream.
That was his father's 1811 dream.
That's another theme that he borrowed
for the Book of Mormon.
John: That's in your letter.
John: There's a tree, and there's an iron rod,
and a great and spacious building.
Jeremy: When you read Lehi's dream
and compare it to Joseph Smith, Sr.'s dream,
it's very similar.
For example, look in the Book of Mormon,
the errors, and Lehi's dream, and Joseph Smith's father's.
You see that it's not just one source.
It's different sources, and everything is a remix.
People think that "Star Wars" is original.
There's a lot of borrowing from different sources
and previous shows, and you create something.
You look at life and a lot of the creative work,
people are borrowing from different sources.
I share the view of the Johnson brothers on the subject.
John: That he drew from many sources.
John: Do you think he had any collaborators
in authoring it?
Jeremy: I don't know.
It's all speculation. It's all opinion.
My personal feeling is when you look
at Oliver Cowdery, he was also involved
in the Book of Abraham in 1835, 1836.
A lot of people don't realize is Oliver Cowdery
wasn't just a scribe for the Book of Mormon.
He was also a scribe for the Book of Abraham,
and he was big on "A Philosophy of a Future State."
He even put it in -
I can't remember if it was "Times and Seasons,"
but some Mormon newspaper that he was the editor.
He took extracts from the book
and put into the newspaper.
Oliver Cowdery thought it was important enough
to share with his readers.
If it was important enough to share
with his readers in the newspaper,
why not share with Joseph Smith?
Joseph Smith had a copy of that book
that he donated in 1843.
I think there's more to the story
with the whole Oliver Cowdery/Joseph Smith
John: That could explain why Oliver Cowdery
never denied the Book of Mormon,
if he was the co-author.
Jeremy: A lot of people were like,
"Well, why didn't he deny it?"
Reputation was everything back then,
and Oliver Cowdery still had fame.
He was well known.
A lot of people admired him.
A lot of people were like,
"Wow, you're one of the witnesses,
"one of the Book of Mormon scribes,
"and you knew Joseph Smith."
Oliver Cowdery, he couldn't be going out
and saying, "Hey guys, this is all a hoax.
"By the way, I was involved in it,"
because it would totally ruin his life.
His credibility was everything because he was a lawyer.
If he would have come out and said,
"Yeah, this is all a fraud
"and I played my part in it,
"and I swore as a witness in the name
"of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,"
this would have really ruined his credibility.
There's more to the story
with the witnesses. These claims...
"Well, these witnesses never denied it."
There's more to the story
of why they didn't deny it.
There's the culture. There's reputations.
John: We'll talk about that in a sec.
Just to close out the Book of Mormon,
I don't know exactly what page it's on
but there's this summary that you make,
which is, "Oh, and by the way,
"the plates were actually never used in the translation."
We forget about that.
All the energy that would have gone into
killing Labon, bringing the brass plates,
smelting metal pages, inscribing by hand,
protecting them, passing down
from generation to generation,
sealing them up in a hole,
having an angel deliver the plates,
Joseph hiding the plates and protecting them -
Jeremy: And four years education with Moroni.
He has to go every year before he gets the plates.
John: And then when it comes time
to actually translate the Book of Mormon, what?
Jeremy: The Book of Mormon we have today
he didn't use the gold plates.
He used the rock in the hat.
John: They weren't even used.
Jeremy: They were used for the 116 pages
that Martin Harris -
Jeremy: Allegedly, but the Book of Mormon
that we have today, the plates were not used.
John: It was the stone in the hat.
Jeremy: Yeah, the same stone and hat
that he and his family used
for the treasure-hunting family business.
Here's the point.
A lot of the apologists, especially FAIR,
what they try to do is they try to make
the whole stone in the hat a little bit confusing.
They keep throwing words like "Urim and Thummim"
and the seer stone, and they try
to make it sound supernatural.
This rock was just a rock that Joseph found
in his neighbor's property in 1822,
a year before Moroni showed up in his bedroom.
It's just a common rock that he found
in William Chase's property,
so there's nothing supernatural or special about it.
It didn't come from ancient America.
Moroni didn't put it in the hole in Hill Cumorah.
It was just a rock that Joseph Smith found,
but a lot of people get confused into thinking
that it's special because they hear
"Urim and Thummim" or "Nephite interpreters", so forth.
John: Let's talk briefly about the First Vision
and the Witnesses,
only because I think the way
you weave those things together,
these multiple timelines start to -
the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
It's one thing to go,
"Oh, the First Vision, the story changes,"
and if I'm looking at that in isolation,
then I'm like, "Oh, well yeah,
"if I retell a story, each time I tell it,
"it's gonna change a little bit."
Okay, we'll give him a pass on that.
Then we have the Three Witnesses,
and we have the Priesthood Restoration and the dates.
Then we have the evolving theology
of, for example, God from Trinitarian.
Talk about those things
as they kinda weave together in a timeline,
and as to how the aggregate of those stories
on top of each other is a little bit
more significant than in isolation.
Jeremy: The correlated version, as everybody knows,
is that Joseph Smith had his First Vision in 1820,
as a result of the revival.
First of all, the historical records show
that there was no revival in 1820.
Second of all, Joseph Smith's family stated
that they didn't join Presbyterianism
until Alvin Smith died.
Alvin Smith died in 1823,
and that matches up with
that there was a revival in 1824.
The whole 1820 revival thing doesn't match
with the historical record,
because that's three years before Alvin Smith died,
and four years after the family joined,
when Lucy Smith joined Presbyterianism.
Then, there's the other one,
when Joseph Smith tried to join
the Methodist Sunday school.
He put his name down, after being told eight years - this was 1828.
Eight years earlier,
he supposedly saw God the Father and the Son.
He told him that all the churches are an abomination,
but here he's trying to join
the Methodist Sunday school, whatever it was,
two years before the church was restored
or established on the earth,
and eight years after the first vision.
John: Also, the ages -
depending on what account, his age changes.
Jeremy: Yeah, like 14 or 15,
but there's only one account that has 15.
The apologists will say, "The scribe put that in."
I discussed that in "Debunking FAIR's Debunking,"
my thoughts on that,
but to me, it's not just -
who appears to Joseph Smith?
It has angels, like you mentioned, angels,
and just the Lord, and two personages.
It's not just that but it has the contradiction,
for example, in Joseph Smith's handwritten account,
in the 1832 account, he states that he read the Bible,
and he came to the conclusion that the world was lost,
that the true church of Jesus Christ,
the New Testament church, was no longer on the earth.
Then, he went to the woods to pray
for forgiveness of his sins.
John: That was the 1832 account, right?
Jeremy: Yeah, the official handwritten one.
This was Joseph Smith's own handwritten account.
In the official version, it states that
he didn't know which church to join.
He was confused.
He read James one, verse five,
"If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God."
He went out to the woods for the purpose
of asking which church that he should join.
Then, he later says, "It never entered into my heart
that they were all wrong."
So, you have this contradiction where he studied
and he comes to his own conclusions,
but they're all wrong.
Then he goes into the woods and asks
for forgiveness of his sins.
Then, you have this other one where he has no idea.
He thinks there might be a true church,
so he goes into the woods to get the answer,
and he's told they're all an abomination,
and that it never occurred to him that they're all wrong.
That's a major contradiction to me.
That goes back to that modus operandi,
his behavior of hiding things and -
John: changing it.
John: To me, again, it's super significant
that in the 1832 version when,
in the 1830 version of the Book of Mormon,
God and Jesus are one.
It's a Trinitarian view, just like everything else.
1832, he's still believing in that view,
so when he tells the First Vision story,
it's the Lord who visits him in that account.
By 1836, apparently he's changed
and he's believing that God and Jesus are separate.
That not only manifests itself in the new version
of the First Vision, the 1836 version,
having God introducing Jesus,
that's a major difference
in the cast of characters in the vision.
Jeremy: Yeah, it was the 1838 account.
Jeremy: But the 1838 account didn't get printed
and published until 1842, but it's the official version.
John: Okay, thank you.
But then they're changing the Book of Mormon
John:...in a subsequent edition,
and those changes that we all dismiss as insignificant,
they're basically changing the text,
and you show this in the letter
From making it sound like God and Jesus are one,
they're always trying to make it sound
like God and Jesus are separate.
Jeremy: Yeah, and it's not just the Book of Mormon.
For example, the "Lectures on Faith,"
there's a part that specifically talks
about God is a spirit and then it talks
about tabernacle of flesh.
It separates the two.
It's really fascinating, the evolution
of Joseph's theology and his perception
of who God is, the Godhead, or whatever.
When you step back and you say,
"Well, wait a minute.
This was happening in the 1830s,
12, 15, 22 years after the first vision in 1820,
when he should have been crystal clear,
these are two separate beings."
You know what I mean?
John: Yeah, yeah.
Then, for me, the witnesses become really important
because what we think is that Joseph
had the vision in 1820.
He knows he's gotta start a church.
He's just patient, doesn't tell anybody,
comes out with the Book of Mormon
and then starts the church,
and gets the priesthood, right,
before he actually releases the Book of Mormon,
he receives the priesthood.
Jeremy: It wasn't like, "Hey, guys,
I got the priesthood."
That stuff didn't come until 1834.
John: And that's my point.
When you read David Whitmer's letter
that he writes after he's left the church,
what does he say, basically?
Jeremy: He says he's never heard of it.
John: Never heard of what?
Jeremy: The Aaronic priesthood,
or John the Baptist coming to confer
the priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
John: So, one of the founders of the church,
one of the three witnesses, is saying,
"This stuff about Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood,
we went five years and never talked about it."
Jeremy: David Whitmer, he was one of the guys
that was involved.
He was there during the Book of Mormon translation,
and when the church was restored.
It's not like he was just some guy
that sat in the back pews.
He was involved in the development of the church,
and it's very telling that he's saying that
"I've never heard of any priesthood before 1834."
It matches to the record of the Book of Commandments being -
the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants
is different than the 1833 Book of Commandments.
There's back-dating going on.
Richard Bushman talks about it in "Rough Stone Rolling."
He admits that it appears that it's a fabrication,
based on the later accounts.
He talks about Mr. Lyman Wright, I think his name is.
He conferred the Melchizedek priesthood
to Joseph Smith in 1831.
He talks about that part in "Rough Stone Rolling,"
that's pretty mind-blowing as well.
John: Does the Book of Mormon have
Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood in it?
John: Right, and does Alma start
baptizing without any sense of being ordained?
John: So, in 1830, they weren't believing
that priesthood was necessary
by the laying on of hands,
so of course, it wasn't in the Bible,
and of course, Joseph didn't talk about it,
and of course, David Whitmer says,
"We never talked about it."
But, as Joseph's beliefs and doctrine changed,
then you start seeing the Book of Commandments amended
to change with the new story and future revelations.
Why doesn't the Book of Mormon just contain
all this truth from the beginning?
Jeremy: Yeah...why didn't...
John: Why didn't the First Vision stick,
and why didn't the Book of Mormon contain
all the truths from the beginning,
versus change the Book of Mormon,
change the First Vision story,
change the Book of Commandments
to the Doctrine and Covenants.
Everything's evolving with Joseph's beliefs, right?
John: Those things in parallel, to me,
mean something more significant
than when you study -
"Oh, he changed his story of the First Vision."
It's not that simple.
It's how those stories lay on top of each other.
Jeremy: Yeah, and these are foundational stuff.
John: Yeah, right. (laughs)
Jeremy: This is foundational stuff.
This is not how the Sacrament's being passed.
John: Which changes, too, by the way. (laughs)
Yeah, that's really important.
I've mentioned this in the podcast before,
there's no Temple marriage in the Book of Mormon.
There's no Endowment ceremony in the Book of Mormon.
There's no Celestial marriage in the Book of Mormon.
Polygamy is forbidden in the Book of Mormon
with the escape clause.
Why aren't any of his Nauvoo theologies
in the Book of Mormon?
So, It's a pretty clear picture of
"he's making it up as he goes along" kind of thing,
and then changing it as he goes,
and trying his best to cover it up
by updating new versions that cover his tracks.
Is that right?
John: That's kinda what comes out here.
Jeremy: Yeah, and it goes back
to Joseph Smith's modus operandi.
How was he operating?
When you look at the polygamy and the polyandry,
how he hid it and denied it for 10 years,
and you look at the Book of Abraham,
how he's grabbing stuff that was unrelated
to put it in the missing parts of Facsimile 2,
and as you mention with the whole evolution
of the First Vision and the whole Priesthood stuff,
I mean...it just looks like a clumsy hoax.
John: And again, if it were just the Book of Mormon,
you'd be like, "Oh, it's not quite a translation, is it?"
Then, you've got the Book of Abraham,
and it's like, "Oh, that's not really a translation either."
Then, you've got the Kinderhook plates,
which you talk about in here.
Talk about that really briefly.
Jeremy: Taking you to this graphic real quick.
This graphic right here says...
...who had already sold you two clunkers?"
John: (laughs) Right.
Jeremy: That kinda gives you why it's important.
John: Talk briefly about what's most troubling
to you about polygamy, or Joseph's practice of polygamy.
Jeremy: The polyandry and the marriage
of the 14-year-old girls.
John: It's only one, right?
Jeremy: No, two.
One of them was Helen Mar Kimball,
and the other one was, I can't remember.
I think her first name was Nancy.
John: In the letter, you have a graph of all the wives.
Jeremy: One of the things that some people were offended by,
or objected to, was my use of the term "***".
They were like, "Joseph Smith wasn't a ***
just because he married 14-year-old girls."
I responded to that on my website.
Basically, *** is *** attraction
of [children] before puberty or during puberty,
so in the 19th century, girls had their puberty
around 14, 15 years old.
This was before or during puberty
that Joseph Smith married these 14-year-old girls.
The only justification,
based on the polygamy rule book of 132,
Doctrine and Covenants 132,
the only justification for polygamy is
to "multiply and replenish the earth,"
"bear the souls of men", and "raise seed."
So, the only justifiable reason for Joseph
marrying 14-year-old girls was to, basically,
have *** relations with them.
To me, it's pedophilic because he was marrying
these 14-year-old girls for the purpose
of having sex and having children with them.
In the 19th century, they were either
about to or were in the process of puberty.
John: That's true. Jeremy: That's why I use that term.
John: You mention being troubled
by the coercion that was used.
It really stuck out to me
as I was preparing for this podcast.
Not only did he tell the girls, apparently,
that they might lose their souls if they said no -
Jeremy: Like Helen Mar Kimball, it was pressure
that she had to marry Joseph
for her family's salvation and exaltation.
John: Right, so he's basically saying to the parents,
"Let me have your daughter and I promise you eternal life."
Jeremy: Yeah, and then they, in turn,
are putting the pressure on this 14-year-old girl.
This is a Mormon home and a Mormon family,
and she feels obligated to follow this prophet, and her dad -
Then, there's a back story with the dad, Heber C. Kimball.
Joseph Smith tried to marry his wife.
The apologists tried to portray this as,
Heber C. Kimball wanted to dynastically
seal himself and his family to Joseph Smith.
When you read the account about how Joseph Smith
asked Heber C. Kimball for his wife,
he was so troubled by it
that he didn't eat or sleep for three days.
That doesn't sound like somebody that wanted -
this doesn't sound like an innocent sealing
that had no effect.
It sounded like he wanted to marry his wife
in the literal sense of the term.
John: Yeah, and of course, he was denying it,
lying about it, hiding it from Emma,
like all this stuff is problematic.
He wasn't following the prescribed rules
of D&C 132. It's very clear.
The wife needs to approve,
and they need to be virgins, right?
He's not following any of the rules
that are outlined in D&C 132.
Not only that - and this is something
your letter really brought to my attention -
he's violating the 1835 version
of the Doctrine and Covenants
while he's already started practicing.
Talk about that.
Jeremy: The 1835 "Doctrine and Covenants"
is very specifically banning polygamy.
It's saying, "Hey guys, we believe in monogamy."
This is scripture that's in force the entire time,
all the way, I think in 1875,
somewhere around there, they changed it.
Joseph Smith, his whole life,
these scriptures were in force,
and here he was in the dark
marrying other men's wives and teenage girls,
while denying to Emma, and the saints, and the world.
To me, that's a big revealing thing
about Joseph Smith's character.
Again, I use that snapshot as a basis
for when you go into the Book of Abraham
and the Kinderhook Plates and so forth.
Any other aspects to the letter
that you think we should bring out
before we talk about what's come about
after publishing the letter?
There's so much here. We could talk for days.
I think we pretty much...uh...
I think it's pretty straightforward.
I think the reason why the CES Letter appealed
to a lot of people is that it doesn't just
hone in and focus on each specific issue.
It also takes a step back.
It takes a step back, and it ties it up
from a big point of view.
My letter is not meant to be a one-stop, all comprehensive,
"You're done with your research" type thing.
My letter is meant to introduce you
to the problems and issues.
Then you go from there, and you look at the sources,
and you confirm the sources for yourself.
You read the sources, different books.
Just do the research.
It's basically kind of a launching ground
for people that are just getting exposed to these issues.
I just want to make that clear.
It's not meant to - "Okay, once you read this,
then you're an expert on all the problems of Mormonism."
John: Sure. Talk a bit about the positive response
before we talk about FAIR.
How many emails do you think you've received?
John: In a year?
Jeremy: Ever since the CES Letter got released in April 2013.
I just get lots of emails.
It's really...just being on the front line
of real suffering, real confusion, and heartache.
A lot of people...
I've had emails where a gentleman, for example,
he emailed me and he said,
"When I first came out to my wife that I had doubts,
it really devastated her.
It was just traumatic.
For weeks, it was just really miserable.
The word 'divorce' was being thrown around,
and I was just really worried about my marriage.
Kind of as a last push, I asked her
to read the CES Letter, and she agreed to read it.
After she read it and looked at the sources,
read what FAIR has to say
and read my 'Debunking FAIR's Debunking,'
she was done.
The word 'divorce' stopped being thrown around."
They're recovering, moving on with their lives.
So, to me, when I look at divorce,
I look at it through the eyes
of the little boy a long time ago.
I used to cry myself to sleep at night
over my parents' divorce.
I wondered , "Am I the cause of their divorce?"
Did they divorce because of me,
because of my hearing issue or whatever?
To me, it's about saving families,
about saving marriages.
I get that sometimes divorce is necessary,
but to me, there better be a damn good reason
for getting divorced,
because it's traumatic to young kids,
and I know that personally.
It's my passion.
It's probably why I put so much effort
into "Debunking FAIR's Debunking,"
because if I can help just save
one marriage and one family, to me it's worth it.
These emails are kind of feedback.
I'm seeing the effect that it has on people's lives.
I have a passion for it.
That's why in Debunking FAIR's Debunking's introduction,
I talk about "real lives, marriages,
and families are on the line."
These are real people that are suffering
because of the church's dishonesty.
Joseph Smith's rock in the hat thing is a fact.
When a husband goes to his wife and says,
"Joseph didn't use gold plates.
He used the rock in the hat,"
and the wife says, "No, that's anti-Mormon.
That's not true. He used gold plates."
What's the problem here?
The problem here is that she didn't get the memo.
The church didn't give her the memo,
so you have this married couple that are clashing,
and they both think they're right.
It's dishonest, and so my goal is
to just bring out the honesty.
Let's make this honest,
because we can't afford to be having all these
marriages and families getting destroyed
over Joseph Smith and Joseph Smith's religion.
If you're gonna get divorced,
get divorced over a good reason.
Joseph Smith and Joseph Smith's religion
is not a good reason to get divorced over.
If one spouse believes Joseph Smith
and the other one doesn't,
work on it, figure things out.
Religion shouldn't be the reason for divorce.
It should be the spouse is totally unreasonable,
or abusive, or whatever.
John: What's it like for you to feel in your heart
like your motivation is to save marriages,
and lives even, and yet the way some would
characterize you or describe you -
let's just say attention-seeking, or negative,
or trying to tear down people's tender faith.
There's such a contrast between -
have people said bad things about you?
Jeremy: Very few. I don't see a lot of them.
John: How about FAIR?
Jeremy: FAIR, yeah. (laughs)
John: What'd they say?
What was their tactic?
So, FAIR created a response to your CES Letter.
I'm a little bit familiar with that class of people
writing something personally
and in response to your work,
so I know what that feels like a bit.
I've read a bit about their response to you.
How did they start it,
and what feeling did you get
from how they were approaching it?
Start with personal.
How did you feel they were trying to paint you?
Jeremy: Just as this imbalanced ex-Mormon
that's getting all his sources
from anti-Mormon sources who,
like you mention, is out to get attention.
I'm not out to get attention. I'm not.
I'm not the greatest public speaker.
Like I say, when I wrote the letter,
I didn't expect it to go anywhere.
This thing landed into my lap.
It just blew up.
I would've never imagined that I would
be talking to John Dehlin two years after my faith crisis.
It just blows my mind.
I'm just an ordinary guy.
John: How about that you're bitter,
and angry, and negative?
Jeremy: I was pissed off in my faith crisis,
and that's natural.
That's part of the five stages of grief.
I'm not angry anymore.
I go on Father-Sons campouts.
I'm still on the Elder's Quorum email list.
If somebody needs help to move, I'll go move.
I'm past that. I've moved on.
I'm not bitter or angry.
It goes back to saving marriages and families.
These are real people and I just think
that the church needs to be honest.
It can't be doing business as usual
like it has the last 40, 50, 60 years.
We're in a totally different world now.
Something has to give, and honesty is the way.
What did you think about FAIR's response to you overall,
the substance of it?
Jeremy: I just want to point out
that I appreciate their response, their analysis,
because it gives my readers a balanced view
of the issues so they don't just have to read
my letter and take my word for it.
For example, the rock in the hat stuff,
they can see FAIR's response...that FAIR confirms,
that Joseph Smith really used the rock in the hat.
It adds that next level to the conversation.
It adds that credibility.
On the other token, responding to FAIR
was actually more time-consuming and more difficult
than it was writing the CES Letter.
John: If you had to characterize their response overall,
how would you characterize it?
John: Misleading? Why?
Jeremy: There was just so many strawmen that they used.
John: What do you mean by strawmen?
Jeremy: Where they mis-characterized my argument.
I'll give you an example -
Captain Kidd, and Comoros, and Moroni.
My argument is that Joseph Smith got those names
from Captain Kidd stories.
Their argument is, "Well, Joseph Smith didn't
have access to these maps.
There's only so-and-so maps in his library,"
and all this stuff.
No, that's not my argument. He didn't use maps.
They were from the Joseph Smith stories.
John: The Captain Kidd stories.
There's all kinds of different strawmen that they used.
There's so much obfuscation where they try
to make the issue more confusing than it really is.
Their conclusion, probably, was kinda ridiculous.
They were basically attacking me on comments
that I made on Reddit.
These were comments that I made
long after my faith crisis and transition,
so I just didn't appreciate how they tried
to character assassinate me that way.
John: How does it feel to know that,
when you post something on Facebook or Reddit,
that there's apologists out there
that are paying attention to it,
copying it, pasting in some little file,
and trying to figure out ways to use that against you later?
Jeremy: It's creepy.
I already had the NSA after me.
Jeremy: So, now I have to worry
about these Mormon apologists.
John: Does it feel creepy?
Jeremy: Yeah, it feels creepy.
I'm an open book. My life is an open book.
My wife has passwords to everything.
I have nothing to hide.
In that sense, even after knowing that FAIR is watching,
I still went on Reddit and put stuff down.
It's not like I'm unpredictable
and making all these crazy comments and stuff.
At the same time, it's just creepy and weird.
I just don't like it.
John: Have you ever feared for your safety?
John: Not at all?
Jeremy: A lot of people have this perception that -
They might think because I came out with this,
I'm putting the church in an unfavorable light,
that I have a lot of enemies.
I don't. I don't have any enemies that I know of.
Ninety-eight percent of the emails I get are positive.
The few that I get that are negative,
they're interesting people.
I've had emails from fundamentalists,
and polygamists, and stuff.
Then, I had a few from really strong believers
that say I'm not giving the nuance that it deserves.
When I ask what they mean by that,
they don't really give me examples.
Overall, I don't fear for anything.
I don't see any enemies.
I just live life as usual.
My life hasn't really changed
other than I'm more well-known
than I was two years ago. (laughs)
John: Does this put stress
on your personal life in any way?
Jeremy: It does in the sense that it's emotional,
getting these emails.
I'm sure you can relate to that, John.
You get emails all the time.
Just seeing these people, what they're going through,
the struggles that they're doing,
and they're asking for advice,
your heart goes out to them.
It's emotionally draining in that sense.
It was stressful with FAIR,
dealing with them the last six months.
Almost every night, until 3:00 in the morning,
I was working on this.
My weekends - good bye.
It's calmed down a lot since then.
John: Why did you feel so necessary
to do such an exhaustive response to FAIR?
I may get in trouble for saying this.
I didn't even read Gregory Smith's
hundred-page article about me.
I didn't even read it. - not because I was scared.
I just didn't think it was worth the time.
Jeremy: My faith crisis and transition was prolonged
because of FAIR, just going through all their stuff.
To me, it could be very confusing.
There's so much research and all that.
To me, I saw this as an opportunity
to provide that source for people to go to,
to see, "Okay, FAIR says this. I say this.
Here's the doughnut."
John: Yeah, you've got these doughnut graphics
in your response to FAIR, not only overall,
but also broken out by section,
where you specify to what percent did they agree with you
to what percent did they just not respond,
and then what percent did they disagree with you.
It's overwhelmingly what?
Jeremy: A lot of it is overwhelmingly neutral.
A lot of people, when the see FAIR's answers or response,
they think, "Well, they're on top of it," but they're not.
They're not responding to most of the issues,
and the ones that they are,
it's about half agree-disagree.
The Book of Abraham is a very interesting thing.
It was almost like FAIR was defending Egyptology
more than they were Joseph Smith.
To give you an example, the Facsimile 1
with Abraham on the altar,
in the original CES Letter,
I stated that there's a mummy on the altar,
based on the stuff that they found in Egypt.
It was really Osiris, because his leg was up.
John: (laughs) It wasn't a mummy. Jeremy: He wasn't dead.
Jeremy: That was a mistake on my part.
FAIR was like, "Well, look, it's not a mummy. It's Osiris."
Jeremy: "What's wrong with you, Jeremy?"
I'm like, "Well, it doesn't matter
because it's not Abraham."
Jeremy: So, just weird stuff like that.
John: Yeah...Yeah, so have they responded to your response -
John: To their response?
Jeremy: They changed the answers.
They removed some of the stuff that they had before.
John: So, your debunking of their debunking
caused them to retreat.
Jeremy: Revise their website.
Jeremy: That's fine.
To me, I'm still gonna leave my stuff on,
and the answers they're giving speaks on its own.
I just trust people that they can critical think,
and look at it themselves.
John: What I hear you saying is that
a major technique of FAIR is to create
complexity and confusion so that people just go,
"Aw, it's too confusing.
I better just believe because they're smart people anyway,"
you felt the need to then respond
to that fear, uncertainty, and doubt
by addressing it very meticulously,
so that you wouldn't let them get away with that tactic.
Jeremy: Really, has the gospel of Jesus Christ
become so complicated that you have to read
all these scholarly books,
just under the right condition,
under the right apologists?
To me, the gospel used to be pure and simple.
It was just pure and simple.
Now, it just seems to have changed
into this weird, "Well, now, you've gotta read enough
"scholarly books to understand what really happened."
It begs the question of what kind of mess -
is this really God's plan?
Is this really God's church,
to where it's so confusing and complex
that we have to figure out what happened
in the 1830s and 1840s in order to get it?
The other thing is the appeal to authority fallacy,
which is basically, "Well, there's smarter guys
that have known these issues and they're still in."
There's Muslim intellectuals that know the problems,
and they're still Muslims.
There's Catholic intellectuals that are still Catholics.
It doesn't mean anything.
Every religion has their intellectuals.
The other key thing that a lot of true believing,
or "Chapel Mormons", as I call them,
don't realize is that these guys
don't have the same testimony that the Chapel Mormons do.
You hear stuff like, "I like Mormonism.
I like what it does for my life,"
or "Joseph Smith introduced a God
that really appeals to me."
It's almost like a country club for these guys.
John: You're referring to like Richard Bushman's
testimony where he says,
"I'm Mormon because of the type of person it makes me."
Jeremy: Yeah, "It's the way of life."
You don't hear stuff like,
"I know with every fiber of my being
that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ,
that the Book of Mormon is a literal history of Americas."
You don't hear that kind of stuff.
It's a different testimony. It's not the same.
(gentle guitar music)