One of the factors that kept me in the church was the notion that Joseph Smith, an allegedly uneducated farm boy, could not possibly produce the Book of Mormon by himself. While I have already discussed key issues with the Book of Mormon in 2.2 Essays and 2.4 Contradictions, I propose in this section that it is indeed possible the Book of Mormon was fabricated.

Education of Joseph Smith

The church would have people believe that Joseph Smith was an uneducated idiot when he translated the Book of Mormon. I do not believe this claim. Both of his parents were educators, and many of his family members were highly educated. He grew up in a time and place where it was common to discuss religion and philosophy.

I suggest that the poor writing in the Book of Mormon, especially in early versions of the Book of Mormon, appropriately matches Joseph Smith’s generally-understood education level. I would encourage you to read through a few pages of the book imagining that a high school student wrote it, and it will likely be obvious to you that the education level of the author matches the text. The book is not a literary masterpiece; it is hardly even considered alongside other religious texts in academia. The book is not a philosophical masterpiece. It is full of logical inconsistency and other critical issues that a keen author (especially God Himself) would be able to spot and correct.

Sources of Inspiration

A number of excellent sources have been produced indicating potential sources of inspiration for the Book of Mormon. I do not want to duplicate or plagiarize their work here, so I encourage consideration of the following resources:

It is revealing to examine a large number of sources that Joseph had access to and likely drew from to produce the Book of Mormon.

Anachronisms and Archaeology

The Book of Mormon is replete with anachronisms. Objects, technologies, and animals that existed in Joseph’s life were non-existent in the Americas while Book of Mormon stories take place. Apologists often defer to a standard set of defenses for anachronisms, but none are particularly convincing to me:

  • We just haven’t found evidence yet
  • God hid the evidence to require people to have faith
  • We haven’t found the geographical sites of the stories yet
  • The words are roughly translated and may mean something different (i.e., horse vs. tapir)

I will not detail all of the anachronisms in the Book of Mormon here. I feel it would be a waste of time to try and write yet another argument about horses, chariots, elephants, war strategy, Isaiah, King James translation errors, or the countless other uniquely-1800s technologies, philosophies, and animals that made their way into the book.

One piece of evidence is, in my opinion, sufficiently damning. Consider Ether 15:2:

He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.

A battle with two million men plus their wives and children is absurd. In this picture, you can see what it looks like when 200,000 people gather1.

200,000 people gather

Now imagine ten of these gatherings in a single battle, plus all of their wives and children. Then imagine the quantity of people it would have taken to kill these millions of people. This quantity is absurd. Consider, just to put this in perspective, roughly the population of any of the following places:

  • Chicago, IL (roughly 2.7 million)
  • Houston, TX (roughly 2.3 million)
  • Phoenix, AZ plus Philadelphia, PA (roughly 3.2 million)
  • Utah, Iowa, Puerto Rico, or Nevada (each roughly 3.2 million)
  • Kansas or Mississippi (each roughly 3 million)
  • New Mexico Nebraska, or Idaho (each roughly 2 million)

Imagine, further, what these locations might look like in a few thousand years. Would any of these civilizations be able to disappear without any trace? If these entire places’ populations were to die in a battle, might there be some evidence, especially because Ether 14 indicates the two million warriors had access to trumpets and other metal instruments, swords, written language, permanent structures, and all the other features common to 1800s warfare? In all of these locations, archaeologists are finding artifacts from thousands of years ago. I have yet to find any evidence among these artifacts to suggest such a massive battle took place.

I cannot justify a belief this battle truly happened without leaving a single trace behind. Were the Book of Mormon proposed as a symbolic storybook, it would perhaps be meaningful. But the Book of Mormon is advertised as the most correct book of any, a true account of ancient peoples.

Reformed Egyptian

The Book of Mormon is alleged to have been translated from “Reformed Egyptian”. This language simply is not real. The characters appear to be mutilated Latin characters contrived by Joseph Smith2.

Reformed Egyptian Characters

Shields’ peer-reviewed journal article2 is damning evidence, and I will not insult your intelligence by writing more about this.

The Plates

Joseph allegedly translated the Book of Mormon from plates. The church has published text and images to support this view for decades. Consider the following picture, which supports the church’s claims that people witnessed the plates.


According to apologetic sources, nobody claimed to witness plates, however, except with “spiritual eyes”, or through a dream or vision. The testimonies of the witnesses as included in the Book of Mormon do not convince me of the existence of the plates, as there are no personal testimonies or signatures present. The testimonies are given in aggregate, and many of the individuals who are included on those pages left the church. Further, these plates are alleged to have been hidden in then restored to the Hill Cumorah. At this place, where the plates were supposedly buried, the Book of Mormon alleges that significant battles took place.

Not only is there no archaeological evidence to support this, but this image of the hill appears to be a poor spot to hide, construct a space large enough to fit several objects, then completely bury artifacts before approaching enemies find you.

Hill Cumorah

I cannot possibly understand Moroni’s reasoning for hiding the plates in this barren hill, and I must instead believe that the book was fabricated.

Prayer and Testimony

I will discuss in 3.1 Testimony more about the nature of testimony, but I will state the following here. I read the Book of Mormon and prayed for years without receiving a testimony of its truth. I have heard a people bear testimonies about things that were absolutely not true, meaning testimony and revelation are fallible.

When you are unsure whether or not you can trust the spirit, your next best alternative is factual evidence. And factual evidence against the Book of Mormon is insurmountable by apologetic responses.


The Book of Mormon was fabricated. Joseph Smith had at his disposal a number of sources from which he could draw inspiration for the book. His education level, in my opinion, matches the book’s writing quality. The book presents unreasonable claims that have no archaeological backing. And testimonies of the book are fallible and unreliable ways to gauge the book’s truthfulness.

  1. More than 200,000 Indonesians demand governor’s arrest – DW – 12/02/2016. (n.d.). Dw.Com. Retrieved December 31, 2023, from ↩︎

  2. Shields, S. L. (2021). The Quest for “Reformed Egyptian.” The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, 41(2), 101–125. ↩︎ ↩︎