While it has done so less and less, the church has produced testable claims, many of which have fallen apart as time has passed. In my opinion, the church’s failure to pass their own tests is convincing evidence it is a man-made organization and not inspired by God.

Kinderhook Plates

Fewer topics are more detrimental to the truth claims of the church than the Kinderhook Plates. Consider this oft-quoted line from Rough Stone Rolling:

Church historians continued to insist on the authenticity of the Kinderhook Plates until 1980 when an examination conducted by the Chicago Historical Society, possessor of one plate, proved it was a nineteenth-century creation.1

The plates, if you are unfamiliar with them, were a set of bell-shaped brass plates, pictured below.

Kinderhook Plates

Joseph Smith insisted he translated a portion of the plates. He taught they contained the history of the person they were buried with, who was a descendant of Ham. Unfortunately for Joseph, the plates were a forgery.

I am stumped by Joseph’s inability to discern the forgery. I do not understand how he was able to translate (apparently using his translation gift from God) these plates that contained no meaningful information.

The church itself appears to be grasping at straws to find an explanation for this. I propose a simple explanation: Joseph failed to demonstrate any prophetic or divine translation ability and was not truly a prophet of God.

The Book of Abraham

Joseph Smith insisted that he produced the Book of Abraham by translating a text that was penned directly by Abraham. It is disgusting, then, that the church insists on propagating the belief that the Book of Abraham is inspired text translated directly by Joseph Smith while the original transcripts have been clearly demonstrated by Egyptologists to be funerary texts2.

Abraham Facsimile 3

The academic, peer-reviewed article I reference is paywalled, so I include the conclusion as follows:

In the preceding I have argued that (1) Joseph Smith’s interpretations of the facsimiles in the Book of Abraham are not in agreement with the meanings which these figures had in their original, funerary, context; (2) anachronisms in the text of the book make it impossible that it was translated from a text written by Abraham himself; and (3) what we know about the relationship between Egypt and Asia renders the account of the attempted sacrifice of Abraham extremely implausible. If one accepts that Joseph Smith was using the facsimiles in a fashion which was not consonant with their original purpose, 78 it does not make sense to then insist that “the Prophet’s explanations of each of the facsimiles accord with present understanding of Egyptian religious practices.” I see no evidence that Joseph Smith had a correct conception of “Egyptian religious practices” or that a knowledge of such was essential to the production of the Book of Abraham2.

This is a popularly debated topic, but the apologetic response is so weak that I believe it also serves as damning evidence against the testable claim that Joseph Smith had a gift of translation:

The official position of the Church is that the Book of Abraham is “an inspired translation of the writings of Abraham. Joseph Smith began the translation in 1835 after obtaining some Egyptian papyri.” Anything beyond this is speculation, and does not constitute official Church doctrine relative to the Book of Abraham’s origins. Nevertheless, it’s clear from the historical evidence that Joseph Smith was not attempting a scholarly translation of the Book of Abraham à la Jean-François Champollion or other Egyptologists, but rather produced a revelatory translation (see Richard Turley’s comments below). The exact nature of this revelatory translation is uncertain, with various theories having been offered over the years.3

It is thus clear to me that the church’s official stance on the Book of Abraham is that it is “an inspired translation”. It is my opinion that an inspired translation would not mislead millions of people by being a fabricated document derived from Egyptian funerary text.

Prophetic Revelation

God has, throughout the scriptures, revealed many major, destructive events through prophets. Destruction of cities, wars, famines, droughts, and plagues all make the list.

It is confusing to me, then, why the church seemed surprised by a great number of similar events:

  • The church, despite many of its buildings existing in Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and other desert locations, often puts large lawns in its buildings and appears not to be careful about water usage. I am surprised church members have not been counseled to limit water usage and conserve where possible to prevent a worsening drought.
  • While some efforts were being made to rely slightly less on church meetings, the church seemed overall surprised by COVID-19. Despite temple ceremonies, baptisms, and the sacrament allegedly being absolutely critical to one’s exaltation, the church was not prepared in advance to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions. Adjustments had to be made to temple ceremonies, church meeting procedures, and other church activities retroactively.
  • The church does little to prepare members for crises ahead of time, apart from encouraging members with the means to do so to stockpile food, water, and other basic needs at all times. This practice seems largely out of character when reading about the God described throughout the scriptures.
  • Wars and protests disrupt or destroy the lives of many latter-day saints throughout the world with apparently no warning or counsel from God.
  • A prophet allegedly revealed that the Book of Mormon was a record of the primary ancestors of indigenous peoples, but the text had to be changed retroactively at the advent of genetic research.

Further, despite generations of prophets teaching that professional opportunities and other blessings are derived directly from tithing, a disclaimer in Footnote 20 of Russell Nelson’s recent General Conference talk was confusing to me:

This is not to imply a cause-and-effect relationship. Some who never pay tithing attain professional opportunities, while some who pay tithing do not. The promise is that the windows of heaven will be opened to the tithe payer. The nature of the blessings will vary.4

I have seen no convincing evidence to support the notion that Russell Nelson or any prophet throughout the history of the church has any more prophetic ability than anyone else who is reasonably good at research. I have been more impressed by scientifically based forecasts in recent years than I have ever been at the accuracy of a prophecy.

Patriarchal Blessings

I would encourage a look through Patriarchal Blessing Revelator produced by Fuller Consideration. It is incredible to see promises that did not come to pass:

  • Many people, including many born well over 110 years ago, were promised they would be alive for the Second Coming. Read More
  • Most people, including many still-single or never-married people, were promised marriage. Read More
  • A great number of people are promised financial stability and other temporal blessings that never came to pass. Read More

Of course, patriarchal blessings are often riddled with “weasel words” and contingencies for every promised blessing. As I have re-read my own blessing, I have realized that the promises contained within it are general enough to apply to any church member I could think of. Any counsel it contained was general counsel given to every church member (such as instruction to devote all of my time to preparing to serve in the church). I could see no difference between the general statements in my patriarchal blessing and the general statements one may hear when paying a fortune teller at a carnival.

Word of Wisdom

In my opinion, the Word of Wisdom is damning evidence against Joseph Smith’s abilities as a revelator. Certainly, God has a better understanding of the human body than generic 1800s advice. So it is confusing to me why the modern interpretation of the Word of Wisdom indicates:

  • It is bad to consume coffee and tea, which have significant health benefits5 6.
  • It is acceptable to consume sugar and artificial sweeteners, which have both been shown to cause significant health problems7 8.
  • Beer should not be consumed, despite the original text indicating that it was acceptable9.
  • Water need not be filtered or boiled, which advice would have likely prevented sickness and death among early saints.

Further, the text of the Word of Wisdom indicates:

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.10

It is curious to me that the text indicates all saints will have these specific blessings if they obey the commandments. Just like other logical claims, a single counterexample to this universal quantifier renders the statement false.

So, I present a counterexample: many saints, including several of my family members, live with chronic conditions despite obeying the Word of Wisdom and every other commandment to the best of their ability. Many of these faithful people cannot run without being weary. Many saints suffer from bone disease. Missionaries, who are often strictly obedient to commandments, often have horrible health complications.

I thus argue that the Word of Wisdom was not inspired by God. I further suggest that because many members do not experience the blessings promised for obedience, God had no hand in the production of the commandment or its promised blessings.


While it would easy to list a great number of additional failed claims from the church, I propose that these simple examples are sufficient to demonstrate that the church’s testable claims do not withstand scrutiny. Certainly, I argue, an omniscient, omnipotent God would fulfill the promises His prophets make, and certainly He would inspire leaders as accurately and helpfully as possible.

  1. Bushman, R. L. (2007). Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ↩︎

  2. Thompson, S. E. (1995). Egyptology and the Book of Abraham. Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 28(1), 143–160. https://doi.org/10.2307/45228487 ↩︎ ↩︎

  3. Book of Abraham/How was it produced—FAIR. (2023, November 9). https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/answers/Book_of_Abraham/How_was_it_produced#Question:_How_was_the_text_of_the_Book_of_Abraham_produced_by_Joseph_Smith.3F ↩︎

  4. Nelson, R. M. (2023, October). Think Celestial! General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, UT. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/eng/general-conference/2023/10/51nelson ↩︎

  5. Chu, Y.-F. (2012). Coffee: Emerging Health Effects and Disease Prevention. John Wiley & Sons. ↩︎

  6. Liao, S., Kao, Y.-H., & Hiipakka, R. A. (2001). Green tea: Biochemical and biological basis for health benefits. In Vitamins & Hormones (Vol. 62, pp. 1–94). Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0083-6729(01)62001-6 ↩︎

  7. Wölnerhanssen, B. K., & Meyer-Gerspach, A. C. (2019). Health effects of sugar consumption and possible alternatives. Therapeutische Umschau Revue therapeutique, 76(3), 111–116. https://doi.org/10.1024/0040-5930/a001070 ↩︎

  8. Gardener, H., & Elkind, M. S. V. (2019). Artificial Sweeteners, Real Risks. Stroke, 50(3), 549–551. https://doi.org/10.1161/STROKEAHA.119.024456 ↩︎

  9. Evolution of the Word of Wisdom – Barley Drinks and Imbibing Pioneers. (2021, March 25). https://wasmormon.org/evolution-of-the-word-of-wisdom-barley-drinks-and-imbibing-pioneers/ ↩︎

  10. Smith, J. Accessed 23 December 2023. Doctrine and Covenants 89. In Doctrine and Covenants (Online Edition). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/bofm/1-ne/8?lang=eng ↩︎