Why Should Latter-day Saints Beware Fraudulent Artifacts? (Knowhy #493)


There is much we can learn about ancient peoples and cultures from bona-fide archaeological artifacts, and some ancient artifacts provide insights to historical details found in the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately, however, some people have tried
to connect unproven artifacts, forgeries, and other hoaxes to the Book of Mormon or
Latter-day Saint history. For example, some objects called the Kinderhook Plates were brought to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1843. Joseph offered some preliminary observations
about what he thought the plates might contain, but no translation was ever produced or pursued. Due to unclear accounts about this event, many Latter-day Saints thought the plates were authentic. And this continued even after one of the men involved in their discovery admitted they were fraudulent. Many years later, scientific study would demonstrate
that the plates were in fact modern forgeries. And this has been the position of the Church ever since. Another set of forgeries connected with Latter-day
Saint history are the so-called “Michigan Relics.” Beginning in 1890, hundreds of objects were made to appear as if they were the remains of an ancient lost Hebrew civilization. The artifacts were produced, buried, supposedly discovered, and then marketed by James O. Scotford and Daniel E. Soper. Elder James E. Talmage became interested in
these artifacts and was tasked by the First Presidency to investigate them. After considerable scientific experiment and
some detective work, he concluded that the artifacts were indeed fraudulent. This view continues to be the consensus among scholars from both inside and outside The Church. The artifacts known today as the Newark Holy
Stones were allegedly discovered in 1860. However, almost immediately after their discovery
the artifacts were met with skepticism. Errors in the Hebrew text was one of the major
red flags raised by experts. Despite continued attempts to authenticate
the artifacts, skepticism has persisted among mainstream archaeologists down to the present. Located in New Mexico sits a large flat stone
covered with a version of the Ten Commandments in an ancient Semitic alphabet, called the
Los Lunas Decalogue Stone. However, scholars regard the inscription as
fraudulent. As with the Newark Holy Stones, problems with the language and preservation of the inscription have been raised. In 1889, a Smithsonian-led excavation in Tennessee discovered an artifact known today as the
Bat Creek Stone. Excitement over the stone increased when publications claimed the inscriptions on the stone were ancient Hebrew. In recent years, however, the authenticity
of the inscription has come under scrutiny. One of the excavators of the stone was charged
with the forging of the characters using available nineteenth century sources. While some have continued to defend the Bat
Creek Stone, the Smithsonian itself regards it as fraudulent. There are many authentic artifacts that support
the historical claims of the Book of Mormon. But it does no good to use fraudulent or questionable
evidence on its behalf, and such efforts can very easily backfire. The overly zealous use of fraudulent evidence
in defending the Book of Mormon cheapens and de-legitimizes the excellent real scholarship that has been produced on the Book of Mormon. Latter-day Saints should use the best scholarly
tools available today. As Elder M. Russell Ballard cautioned: “in teaching your students and in responding to their questions “let me warn you, not to pass along faith-promoting or unsubstantiated rumors or outdated understandings and explanations of our doctrine practices from the past. It is always wise to make a practice to
study the words of the living prophets and apostles; keep updated on current Church issues, policies, and statements through mormonnewsroom.org and LDS.org; and consult the works of recognized, thoughtful, and faithful LDS scholars to ensure you do not teach things that are untrue, out
of date, or odd and quirky.”

16 Replies to “Why Should Latter-day Saints Beware Fraudulent Artifacts? (Knowhy #493)

  1. Wow, I'm so glad I watched this. Thank you BoMC! The truth is, I don't need artifacts to know the Book of Mormon is true. I know it's true because I've read it, studied it, & prayed about it several times. ❤❤❤

  2. Good advice reminds me of what Paul warned in 2 Timothy 4:
    "3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears
    4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. "

  3. Falsified artifacts can indeed be a problem. An additional problem that comes along with them is frequently you discount artifacts that are actually legitimate because you've labeled them all as fake.
    For example, the early Michigan relics oh, and a few that came along with some of their digs were probably and quite likely legitimate. The people involved decided to turn their three of a kind into a full house and started adding to their compensation. It is sad because some of these things are actually, quite interesting. I find it difficult to believe that charlatans could write consistent stories using a hybridization of Egyptian, Native American, and Hebrew script.
    Not only that, I find it difficult to believe the Smithsonian institution in anything they say just because they are the Smithsonian. They are the ones who specifically labeled the Native Americans as stone-age Savages to justify the stealing of their land. This is sometime after William Penn identified quite a number of Customs that the Native Americans do that the only other people on the planet that follow these customs and rituals, are Hebrews. When geologists look at the Back Creek and decalogue Stones they see writing that has we're on it that indicates that it is much older that just 200 years. That sir, cannot be faked. And Mild differences in language will occur when people travel a great distance, because their education cannot be as complete, or consistent as when they remain in a single place. Archaeologist will claim that the Kensington runestone is fake all day long Yeti wear on the periphery of all of the writing on is clearly well over three hundred years old, according to geologist who actually test the stone. The problem is is that the markings left by the roots of the tree that surrounded the stone when it was first uncovered are over the top of the Engraving. That could not possibly have been faked or did somebody fake the Stone, bury it, plant a tree over the top of it, and then 15 or 20 years later, knock the tree over? And then to top it off they claim that the Rune that's on it is too proper a rune to be simple sailors, or illiterate Travelers. Let's understand something right now, the people who travel today as a standard course of their life are people who are wealthy and it has been no different through most of civilized history. When you have desperate people in your group they will all be the higher educated so that they can communicate with each other, and Wealthy enough to be able to afford to travel to distant lands, and return.

  4. Be careful when you travel to Mexico Ruins and Central America also South america by Peru and Bolivia. People make fake artifacts then try to sell to the tourist specially if you are LDS. They know what you love to see…many know our interest in Hebrew culture or book of Mormon. Remember why we have too many apocryphal books from the other side of the planet, I mean middle east.area. The Gospel of Judas and so on….. The evil always trying to confuse us. I can't imaged somebody get an stone and start making strange letters then buried it, and leave there for several years ….waiting someday to unearth and trying to confuse us…… Please!!!

  5. A bigger question…Why should Latter-day Saints avoid the mindless rantings of disgruntled excommunicated members who are only lying to stir up trouble? Get bent you blaspheming, godless freak.

  6. So Joseph Smith writing that he translated a portion of the kinderhook plates, is the same as him offering some preliminary observation on what the plates contained??? Sounds like you’re “translating” Joseph Smith words to fit your narrative.

  7. I'm still waiting for you to provide the Bonafide evidences of the Mesoamerican model the intellectuals of the church have tried how to connect mesoamerica with the lands of the Book of Mormon to no avail

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