Horses and Elephants in the Book of Mormon

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It doesn’t take long for someone researching Mormonism online to come across websites run by Christians making all sorts of claims to discredit the Book of Mormon. A popular claim is that the Book of Mormon is not true because it mentions such animals as horses and elephants, which is unsupported by concrete archaeological evidence.

I find it odd that Christians would make such claim. Consider Isa. 34:7

>the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.

So if these Christians can (presumably) support the biblical idea of unicorns ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äù despite the lack of archaeological evidence of their existence ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äù how can they reject a similar claim of actual (if not anachronistic) animals by the Book of Mormon?

63 thoughts on “Horses and Elephants in the Book of Mormon

  1. C’mon, Rick. Now you’re starting to sound like the armchair philosophers who ask if God can create a rock so big he cannot move it.

    If you have any familiarity with the LDS concept of God, you will already know we believe God adheres to certain laws. The ability for us to choose our actions is one.

    Since you seem convinced it’s possible, please tell me in what way can an absolutely all-powerful God create a document that absolutely not one of the 7 billion of the world’s population can misinterpret while still allowing for everyone to have unique intelligence levels, experiences, and paradigms?

  2. I’m not a God, what makes you think I have that sort of power?

    How about starting by not wrapping it up in flowery language and allegory? That’d be a good start.

    But what we’re talking about is specific words given to Joseph to write down. God should be able to accomplish that task perfectly.

  3. Just because you can’t figure it out, don’t blame God. He’s perfect, we aren’t. I don’t know why people keep trying to make Him into our image.

  4. You know that when I say written by man, I mean authored and originating from man as well.

    So do I. I think every word Nephi wrote was authored by him and originated from his mind and hand. I also think he was told by God to make a record of what he had seen and done. I also think God sometimes told him which parts he should write about.

    I don’t know why you’re so bent on forcing us into a false dilemma between the Book of Mormon being either an absolutely flawless account dictated directly from the mouth of God and set down in language that is utterly impossible for any person to misinterpret, or a complete fraud. Your thinking isn’t usually that narrow.

  5. “Just because you can’t figure it out, don’t blame God.”

    Who said I couldn’t figure it out – my figuring it out differs from the the other peoples ‘figuring it out’ that’s all.

  6. “So if these Christians can (presumably) support the biblical idea of unicorns — despite the lack of archaeological evidence of their existence — how can they reject a similar claim of actual (if not anachronistic) animals by the Book of Mormon?”

    That’s actually a very good and thoughtful question, You have it within you Kim to be a thinker and communicate it responsibly.

    Mind you, I’ve never heard anyone in Christian circles anywhere claim to believe in unicorns. Do you have any evidence if this? I bet you don’t. You, admittedly, just pressume it. I’d be surprised to learn about, as would most of the planet, a Christian who actually believes in unicorns.

    Thanks again for provoking my thoughts.

  7. I’m not a God, what makes you think I have that sort of power?

    What are you talking about? I never said you could do it. I asked for your opinion on how a god would do it.

    How about starting by not wrapping it up in flowery language and allegory? That’d be a good start.

    That’s hardly the problem, and I am surprised that would be your first suggestion. take the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5, for example. If there is a problem with anyone understanding it, it is because of a lack of understanding at all rather than misinterpreting it or misunderstanding its message.

    Likewise, when there is misunderstanding in the Book of Mormon, I suggest it is in areas written plainly (Alma 39, for example).

    But what we’re talking about is specific words given to Joseph to write down.

    Right. So how does eliminating flowery words and allegory address this issue?

    God should be able to accomplish that task perfectly.

    Which task is that? Giving words to Joseph Smith? I don’t see how we can say he didn’t.

    Two things we need to keep in mind.

    First, Whitmer’s account is heresay. He was not involved in the translation process.

    Second, assuming Whitmer’s account is an accurate portrayal of the process, without knowing God’s intent in his choosing the specific words he allegedly caused to show on the stone, we cannot say whether or not he accomplished the task perfectly.

    You are making assumptions, Rick. You assume a third party account of heresay dictated decades after the event is an accurate portrayal of the translation process. You assume God’s intention correlates with your interpretation of the text.

    Trying to create a logical argument based on assumptions is a difficult task to pull off well.

  8. I’ve never heard anyone in Christian circles anywhere claim to believe in unicorns. Do you have any evidence if this? I bet you don’t. You, admittedly, just pressume it. I’d be surprised to learn about, as would most of the planet, a Christian who actually believes in unicorns.

    I didn’t say Christians believe in unicorns. I said that if they can support the biblical idea of unicorns, they should be able too allow for the similar usage of actual animals.

    It’s already been established in previous comments that Christians don’t believe “unicorn” to be the most accurate word in this instance and actually represents another animal altogether.

  9. I was reading 1 Corinthians 13 tonight. Verses 9 and 12 stood out to me in a way they hadn’t before. Paul seems to be saying that even when we receive revelation and prophesy, our knowledge is partial and incomplete. It seems relevant to this discussion of how the revelatory process—including the process of inspired writing and translation by the power of God—is not absolutely perfect.

    (PS: Kim, I hate to be a nag but it’s hearsay, not “heresay.” Please accept my apology in advance for being annoying.)

  10. With all due respect I want to thank Rick for his opinion and encourage him to keep up the good work.
    I will not write and argue much in this forum since my native language is not English and that puts me in disadvantage.
    All I can say is that there are things that Mormons are never going to be able to explain like:
    Joseph and Brigham Young and their prophecy about the 10 ft tall men on the moon.
    New World Archaeology: Zarahemla will never be found.
    Joseph Smith III prophecy
    Changes in Mormon doctrine: Adam, polygamy, blacks…
    Complete testimony of the three and eight witnesses
    Just to mentions some that I can think of right now. I do not think that GOD would say something wrong to Joseph and then say the opposite in later “revelations”.

  11. I do not think that GOD would say something wrong to Joseph and then say the opposite in later “revelations”.

    I guess that’s the kicker then: trying to determine what is wrong among all that Joseph Smith said God told him.

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