Problems With The Book of Mormon: Alma 1-25.
Before I get into the book of Alma, I want to mention something that has been in the news lately. Recently, a former member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints decided to “get even” with the Church and, after bribing a night security guard at the temple, filmed a pornographic film inside of the temple, reportedly in the celestial room, which is considered to be the most holy place on earth by the faithful members of the Church. Let me be clear on this; while I firmly believe the LDS church to be a cult and a charlatan organization, I do not in any way condone the actions of those who made this film and I can’t condemn it strongly enough.
The temple is private property and no one has the right to film a porno, or anything else, on private property without the express consent of the property owners, which is the LDS Church. Anyone who illegally makes an unauthorized video on private property without permission, especially when it is intended to cause harm and offend, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
If the people who made the video had, instead of taking illegal actions in order to cause offense, made a set that looked like the inside of the temple to make their film it would have been legal, though not advisable. From all I could find out about this film project, the entire purpose was to offend members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the most disrespectful manner possible. There is no way in which the action taken by those involved will help anyone trapped in the Church to leave and instead will reinforce the Church’s narrative that they are in the right and anything that is spoken against the Church is just a feeble attempt at bringing down the kingdom of God on earth.
Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
The purpose of this podcast and blog is not to judge others for their choices or to determine which sins rank where in the spectrum, and I make no claims to be without sin, far from it. The purpose of this podcast and blog is to help people come to the knowledge that God loves them, is spite of his or her failings, regardless of what those failings may be.
Intentionally offending a group of people in the manner in which they will view to be the most disrespectful manner possible will not in any way help them as a people, nor will it help those who are striving to help that group of people.
One of my main goals of this podcast and blog is to help those trapped in the LDS Church to realize that the Church is not what it claims to be and that their lives would be far better without the burdens placed upon them by the Church. Disrespectful people that only want to offend members of the Church are detrimental to that goal and have no respect for themselves or anyone else.
The video in question will not, in any way, hurt the Mormon Church but will definitely hurt a lot of innocent people who blindly follow the Church and will likely turn them against any evidence against the Church. The only goal for sharing things against the Church should be to help people and should never be motivated by hatred or revenge, especially considering the intended target, the Church organization, will not the one to get hurt but rather the members who are just trying to live a good life. I am firmly convinced that you can’t hate people out of the Church, you can only love them out of it.
With that, I will move on to The Book of Mormon and examine the claim that it is the most correct book on earth. The last segment in this series ended with the conclusion of the book of Mosiah.
The book of Alma starts with the death of King Mosiah and, as you may remember from the last installment, none of his sons wanted to be king so as he got older and knew his death was imminent he changed the law so that when he died the people would be ruled by judges instead of a king. The book of Alma, as you may have guessed, or remembered if you are or were LDS, is about Alma the younger, a man who is not only the chief judge but also the high priest over the church.
The first major event to happen in the book of Alma is the trial of a man named Nehor who was charged with the crime of priestcraft, which is to accept payment for preaching. Actually, to be fair, the crime he was actually charged of was killing a man named Gideon who had been instrumental in freeing the people from the wicked King Noah. However, the first few verses makes sure we understand that people being paid for preaching is bad, as is teaching that we are saved by the grace of God instead of works. I think this story was only added to the book to put traditional Christianity in a bad light.
All of these people, as well as all of the mission presidents, are paid. Since ministry is expected of ever member of the Church, especially the leaders, ministry is in their job description so the Church definitely has paid ministry, or “priesrcraft” as The Book of Mormon calls it.
The LDS Church claims to be against paid ministry and says that it has no paid ministry, but mission presidents, area authorities, the quorum of the seventy, the presiding bishopric, the quorum of the twelve and the first presidency are all paid, and what they do would firmly fall within the definition of ministry (1).
Earlier when I said that Nehor had a trial, what I really meant was that he was brought before Alma and Alma condemned him to death without the benefit of a trial by jury, so I don’t see how that was much different than having a king. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way saying that Nehor was in the right, I am only pointing out that the system of judges does not seam to be an improvement over having a king if a single judge can condemn a person to death without the input of a jury or other judges.
There was a huge conflict of interest with Alma being the judge that made the ruling in the case of Nehor because he had a vested interest in the outcome of the case. Alma held the highest position in the church that Nehor was speaking against and Alma’s father had a lot of history with Gideon, the man who Nehor killed. Gideon helped the people to escape from the wicked King Noah and was one of the first converts of the church that Alma the older started, so Alma would have been personally acquainted with the man. There is no way in which Alma could have been impartial in his judgement in this case.
After Nehor was convicted by Alma, a man who we already established had reason to be impartial in the case, he was taken to the top of a hill and was forced to say that he had been wrong in what he taught. After Nehor’s forced confession, as it says in verse 15, “he suffered an ignominious death,” and for those of you who may not be familiar with the word, ignominious means humiliating, shameful and degrading, and often public. So in other words, Nehor suffered an extremely shameful and degrading public execution.
After the story about the trial it is mentioned that putting Nehor to death did not stop priestcraft but that so long as the person preaching believed what he was preaching was true the law could not stop him but if it could be proved that he was lying they could put him to death. There did not seam to be too heigh of a bar set for evidence among the judges, so it would not be too difficult to “prove” someone did not believe the things they were teaching that opposed the state sponsored church.
In verse 29 there is a huge anachronism as it mentions silk, and this was supposed to be somewhere between 91-88 BC in the Americas, however, at that period in time the only people in the world who knew the secrets of silk were the Chinese. While traded in many parts of the world, silk was a closely guarded secret by the Chinese and was not widely known until some monks smuggled some silk worm eggs out in their bamboo canes around 550 AD. Yes, it is true that the Egyptians had silk as early as 1070 BC, but they traded for the spun fabric and had no idea how it was made, and neither did anyone else other than the Chinese, and they managed to keep it that way for thousands of years (2).
With all of that, there is a near zero possibility that anyone in the new world had any silk around 91 BC, especially a group of Semitic people who left all of their possessions and fled for their lives and had to even make their own tools before making their ship to come to this continent. The more thought that goes into it the more one realizes how insane it sounds and it becomes evident that Joseph Smith, or whoever truly wrote The Book of Mormon, knew very little of the history of America and even less about the world. Silk was not in the new world until the 13th century when it was sent over by King James (3).
In the second chapter of Alma there is a man named Amlici who wants to be a king, and when the people decide they don’t want him to be a king him and his followers start a war with those who want to remain free. Alma 2:19 says, “And it came to pass that the Nephites did pursue the Amlicites all that day, and did slay them with much slaughter, insomuch that there were slain of the Amlicites twelve thousand five hundred thirty and two souls; and there were slain of the Nephites six thousand five hundred and sixty and two souls.” So in this one battle nearly twenty thousand people died, and there is no evidence of this battle or this war, nor of any of the multitudes of other wars mentioned in The Book of Mormon. It is pretty much impossible to hide the evidence of war, unless of course Moroni took all of the evidence to heaven with him the way he did the golden plates when Joseph Smith was finished with them.
In verse 37 it says that the Nephites followed the Amlicites and killed them in a land that was “infested by ravenous beast” and in verse 38 it says that the dead bodies were devoured by the wild animals and vultures, and that later all of the human bones were found and heaped into a huge pile.
If you have never read The Book of Mormon before or if you read it but didn’t pay much attention, believe me that the book is full of instances where multitudes were killed in war and left where they died or buried them in a mass grave, such as the Alma 3:1 “And it came to pass that the Nephites who were not slain by the weapons of war, after having buried those who had been slain - now the number of the slain were not numbered, because of the greatness of their number - after they had finished burying their dead they all returned to their wives, and their children.”
The next few verses tells us that many women and children died in the war as well when the cities or farms were attacked, and that multitudes of the Amlicites had been slain along the river and their bodies were washed out to sea, so in addition to the multitudes of people who were buried in a mass grave and not numbered, many more multitudes were washed out to sea. It seams strange that a people who had so many people that they can loose numbers like this and not decimate their population left no evidence behind of either their wars or their cities or technology.
In Alma 3:4 it says, that the Amlicites marked themselves with red paint so they would be distinguished from the Nephites, and then it goes on in the following verses to talk about the curse that had come upon the Lamanites because of their sin and goes into detail about how they were a viscous and barbaric people. When the Lamanites sinned they were cursed with a dark skin but when the Amlicites sinned they marked their foreheads with red paint, why wasn’t their skin turned dark like the Lamanites?
It is also important to note that many LDS people say that the Church has never taught that people have dark skin because of sin, but The Book of Mormon clearly spells it out in this and many other places, and several Church presidents have spoken in great detail about the curse of dark skin, and even if the apologist were correct that the prophet was speaking his own opinion and not that of the Church, which he wasn’t, The Book of Mormon clearly teaches that dark skin comes about because of sin.
I have pointed this out many times and I will continue to point it out, but the official doctrine of the Church is that when the Prophet speaks he speaks for the Church and for God and whatever he says is the same as if God himself had said it. It is also official doctrine that if a prophet ever tries to lead the Church astray God will immediately remove him from his position making it impossible for the leader of the Church to lead the Church astray.
Verse 26 talks about the “tens of thousands of souls sent to the eternal world, that they might reap their rewards according to their works.” Again, the only way in which so much death and destruction could have been hidden is if God intentionally hid it so that we could not find any evidence, and I can’t fathom any reason why God would intentionally try to make it so that we would not believe his word as that would be counter-productive at best and at worst would ensure that millions would choose not to follow his book because all evidence points to it being a work of fiction. Perhaps the Mormon God wants most people to choose wrongly, but that would be cruel.
Early on in the 4th chapter of Alma it talks about Alma baptizing many people, but considering all of the multitudes slain in battle and the fact that this was only a few years after the war, he could not have baptized too many people unless the Nephite civilization had population numbers like America does today, and in that case the possibility that all evidence of the civilizations and cities was lost is a big fat zero.
I know I have mentioned this before and if you are tired of hearing it, I am sorry, but I am not going to stop harping on it. The people in The Book of Mormon claim to be following the law of Moses, yet they get baptized and follow Jesus who had not even been born yet and act like the law had already been fulfilled. Before Jesus people did not get baptized and the closest thing we had to it was the ritualistic washing for cleanliness which was a personal thing and a priest did not dunk the person, he or she washed themselves and then told the priests they had done it when they gave the required offering. It also makes no sense that the Nephites would be so highly regarded as to have extra insight into the coming of the Messiah that the rest of the Semitic people were not privileged to. The Book of Mormon would have us believe that the Jews were the chosen people but the Nephites were the super duper chosen people.
Chapter 5 is a sermon by Alma and he mentions several time in the sermon about being baptized with water and being born again and being spiritually born, which is something that would have been completely foreign to anyone living the law of Moses. The Holy Ghost or comforter did not even come until AFTER Jesus died, and he told his apostles that if he did not die the comforter would not come. The Book of Mormon would have us believe that the Nephites were an exception to practically every rule and that they were given special privileges that even Jesus’ own apostles were not privileged to until after his death, all many years before he was even born. The idea is ludicrous!
In verses 27 through 29 of chapter 5 Alma is laying on the guilt pretty thick and giving people an impossible standard to live up to. Among other things, Alma asks if the people have kept themselves blameless before God, but in order to do so they would have to follow ever rule and not sin even once, which is impossible. God does not expect us to keep ourselves blameless by following all the rules or to be perfect but rather we are made perfect by Jesus taking our imperfections.
Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?
Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life.
Behold, I say, is there one among you who is not stripped of envy? I say unto you that such an one is not prepared; and I would that he should prepare quickly, for the hour is close at hand, and he knoweth not when the time shall come; for such an one is not found guiltless, (Alma 5:27-29).
As I have said before, either The Book of Mormon is ambivalent about freely receiving grace or it does not understand either of the words grace or free. Based on the verse that says we are saved by grace, after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23), it is obvious that the later is the case. In verse 34 Alma says that, after we have paid for grace by following all of the rules and giving up all sin, we can eat of the bread of life and drink the waters of life freely.
As I did with previous episodes, I will skip the errors in The Book of Mormon that I have dealt with in detail in previous episodes, such as non-Levites being given the priesthood, which is forbidden by the law of Moses that they claim to follow while at the same time spurning it at every turn.
If I had to pick only one verse out of the entire book to prove that The Book of Mormon is not the most correct book on earth it would be Alma 7:10 because it gives us the incorrect city for the savior’s birth. “And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers.”
Some Mormon apologist say that this verse is correct because Bethlehem is in “the land of Jerusalem” in the same way that Glenview and Naperville are in Chicagoland, but this explanation does not hold water if you ask anyone who actually lives in that area of the world (4), and Bethlehem is a half an hour drive from Jerusalem, according to Google maps, and there are several town between the two cities. Even if I were to buy the apologetic explanation, which I do not, it would not explain why the Nephites were given so much information that the Jews in the Holy Land were not privileged to and yet not have the specifics on such an important detail. Even if I were to grant the apologetic explanation, saying that I was born in the Midwest is not the same as saying I was born in Topeka, Kansas. Lots of people are born in the larger area, but for a prophecy to be meaningful it has to be more specific, otherwise we are just cherry picking events to make it appear as if the evidence supports the prophecy the way in which the supporters of Nastrodamus do to prove he was a prophet.
The last verse in chapter 5, verse 27, goes back to teaching that receiving the grace of God is dependent upon our faith AND good works, which again, makes it something other than grace as grace is free and unmerited and giving something based on good works is most definitely merited. Alma makes this point again in Alma 9:28, but regardless of how many times he or others in The Book of Mormon or the LDS Church wrongly uses the word grace it does not change the true meaning. Whenever I hear a Mormon talking about grace I want to quote Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride where he says to Vizzini about the word “inconceivable,” “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means” and he was absolutely correct as Vizzini was using the word to mean whatever he wanted it to mean instead of what it actually means, much the way the LDS Church uses the words “grace” and “salvation.”
In chapter 11 of Alma there is a man named Zeezrom who is teaching that there is no God, and when he is arguing with Amulek, who is one of the prophets in The Book of Mormon, we have this conversation:
And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God?
And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God.
Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God?
And he answered, No.
Now Zeezrom said unto him again: How knowest thou these things?
And he said: An angel hath made them known unto me.
And Zeezrom said again: Who is he that shall come? Is it the Son of God?
And he said unto him, Yea. *(Alma 11:26-33).
And a little later on in the conversation,
Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?
And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last;
And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else, (Alma 11:38-40).
From that conversation we learn that The Book of Mormon teaches that there is only one God, not the many that current LDS theology teaches, and that the Son of God is God, the only God. This is in stark contrast to the doctrine taught by Joseph Smith’s first vision and in other places in the LDS canon.
Alma 12:18 says that those who die in their sins can’t be saved, which leaves no room for temple work for the dead. Some Mormon apologist say that this is talking about those who knew the truth and died in their sins, but in the 2nd book of Nephi we learned that those who die without knowing the law are justified and will be saved because they did not know they were sinning and did not in any way imply that they needed any sort of posthumous ordinances in order to be saved.
As if that were not enough, Alma 12:24 says that this life is the time to prepare to meet God, the only time. In Alma 12; 27 it says, “it was appointed unto men that they must die; and after death, they must come to judgement, even that same judgement which we have spoke, which is in the end.” The LDS Church tries to get around this by saying that when we die there is a partial judgement and we go to either spirit prison or spirit paradise where we wait the resurrection and final judgement, but this verse makes it clear that when we die in our sins we are judged and go to hell. There is nothing in The Book of Mormon that even insinuates any posthumous works for the dead and the entire book makes it clear that after this life there is no chance at salvation.
It is interesting that The Book of Mormon is supposed to be the most correct book on earth and will bring people closer to God than any other book, yet precious little of what the Church considers to be essential for salvation is included in it, and Joseph Smith is NEVER recorded as teaching from The Book of Mormon. I have done a lot of research into it, and I was unable to find even one recorded instance where Joseph Smith taught from The Book of Mormon. Smith commonly taught from the Bible and from his later revelations, but not The Book of Mormon.
I have talked a lot about the Nephites having the priesthood when they should not have since they were from the line of Manasseh instead of the line of Levi, and chapter 13 tries to reconcile that by saying they had the “higher” priesthood which was the priesthood after the manner of the son of God, and the Church teaches that it was later changed to the Melchizedek priesthood in order to not use the name of God too often, but the Bible teaches that Jesus had the priesthood that was after the order of Melchizedek and not the other way around (Hebrews 7:13-17). I have mentioned a lot about the priesthood in other episodes, and at some point in the future I will have an entire episode on the priesthood and will clearly illustrate that the LDS Church’s supposed priesthood is in no way similar to Biblical priesthood, but for now I am going to move on because I have a lot more to cover in the book of Alma.
In Alma 13:7 it talks about the son of God being without beginning of days, which means that there is no way to justify the LDS doctrine that Jesus was created by the Father or the doctrine that the Father used to be a man who earned his godhood. I have mentioned it before, but if anyone doubts me that the Church holds for doctrine that God used to be a man it is clearly spelled out on the Church’s essay series on their official website (5) as well as numerous other places in their official doctrine.
In Alma 13:12 it talks about being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, but again, the Holy Ghost was not an active player until after the death and resurrection of Jesus, many years after this supposedly took place.
Alma 13:20 says, “behold, the scriptures are before you: if you will wrest [twist or distort] them it shall be to your own destruction.” The LDS Church does a fair amount of twisting and distorting of the Bible by using a verse out of context and taking artistic liberty to lend to wild interpretation of the text that is not supported by the Bible as a whole, and despite how important they say The Book of Mormon is, its doctrine is largely ignored by the Church.
At this point in the story Zeezrom realizes that he is wrong and tells the people that he was wrong and that Alma and Amulek are guiltless, and the people try to stone them to death. Despite all of the claims of following the law of Moses, this is the first instance in The Book of Mormon where it even talks of stoning, which is the preferred method of capital punishment among the Jews. I don’t have time to go into it in detail here, but a lot of this story tries to copy how the apostles were imprisoned and beaten for Christ’s sake and escaped by divine help, and it wants us to believe that it happened to the Nephites before the apostles were even born. The Book of Mormon wants to be first and better at everything than the Bible, but it is not.
Chapter sixteen talks about the great city of Ammomihah being destroyed and every living soul within the city dying and that later all of the bodies were buried in a shallow grave. Again, where are all of these destroyed cities and mass graves? Why is it we can find evidence of the city of Troy that was destroyed in approximately 1184 BC, yet we can find no evidence of a massive city that was supposedly destroyed around 81 BC?
Alma 15: 13 says, “and Alma and Amulek went forth preaching repentance to the people in their temples and in their sanctuaries, and also in their synagogues, which were built after the manner of the Jews.” There is a lot wrong with this verse, but let me start with the most obvious, which is that the Jews had no synagogues until after the destruction of Solomon’s temple, which happened AFTER Lehi left Jerusalem, so the Nephites would have no knowledge of synagogues.
The next issue with verse 13 is that the mention of temples is an example of having your cake and wanting to eat it too. If the temple were like the Jewish temples, which God would certainly not approve of since he commanded that the only place a temple would be acceptable is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, than it would make sense that Alma and Amulek could go in and preach to the people. However, in order to support the claim of a restoration, the Church claims that the ancient temple was similar to what the Church has today and served much the same function, but if that were the case than those in the temple would be the most worthy among the Church and Alma and Amulek would have no need to preach repentance to them as they would have had to repent to be allowed in the temple in the first place, but of course, this was written before Joseph Smith came up with the temple ceremony.
Alma 17:14 gives a description of the Lamanites, and when we recall that they are supposed to be the Native Americans it sounds a little racist and does not put them in a good light as it says they were “a wild and ferocious people; a people who delighted in murdering the people of the Nephites and plundering them.”
From chapter seventeen through several chapters we have the story of a man named Ammon, and it obviously copies many details of the story of Joseph who was sold into Egypt in that he is imprisoned and becomes the king’s servant and saves the people from destruction.
Alma 18:9 talks about horses and chariots, which are two things that were absolutely not in the Americas between 91 and 77 BC. Horses were not in the Americas until they were brought over by the Europeans and there is no evidence at all so support the knowledge or use of wheels in the Americas before the Europeans came either.
In the nineteenth chapter of Alma King Lamoni is overcome by the spirit in a day of Pentecost type deal, which we have already discussed could not and would not happen until after the death and resurrection of Christ, and he starts to preach to everyone. Later the queen is overtaken by the spirit and passes out and when she woke up she exclaimed, “O blessed Jesus who has saved me from an awful hell!” It is important to remember at this point all the queen had done was believe in Jesus and had not performed any good works, and she was saved.
Later in the story King Lamoni skips a feast his father invited him to so that he can go and free Ammon’s brothers out of prison and they are encountered by Lamoni’s father on the way who wants to kill him for his disobedience and for believing what Ammon had taught him. In verse 17 Ammon stopped the king form slaying his son and said, “Behold thou shalt not slay thy son; nevertheless, it were better that he should fall than thee, for behold, he has repented of his sins; but if thou shouldst fall at this time, in thine anger, thy soul could not be saved.”
At this point Lamoni’s father had not learned the gospel, yet he could not be saved if he were to die in his sins, and that takes any doubt out of whether or not The Book of Mormon supports works for the dead. With other verses it could be argued that it is only those who know better and die in their sins that have no chance at salvation, but this is an example of a man who does not know the gospel and is explicitly told that if he died in his sins he could not be saved.
Alma 25:15 mentions that the people lived the law of Moses since it had yet to be fulfilled, yet you would be hard pressed to find any proof in the proceeding pages from the first verse of 1st Nephi to this passage that would support that claim.
I have not even covered half of the book of Alma so I will have at least one more episode dedicated to it.
Thanks for listening or reading and God bless.