“Too Many Credible Gospel Witnesses to Believe They All Lied”



Oliver Cowdery’s Grave


My column for this morning in the Deseret News:






Where to find what you need
"Mortality Gap: Why Women Live Longer than Men"
"Beware of the Gaystapo"
"Is this the worst academic journal ever?"
  • joe etheridge

    i truly don’t know how you & many others continue to stand up the to criticism your words/articles cultivate? but many of us owe you all a great amount of appreciation for your many years of service to the Church!

    thank you! joe

    • danpeterson

      Thank YOU for your kind words.

  • http://michael.cleverly.com/ Michael A. Cleverly

    Did you mean to link to the comments instead of the article itself? (I find your article is much more worthy of my time than some of the random comments are.)

  • Swapshire Slasher

    It’s always very puzzling to me when people of faith try to justify that faith with reason. I’m not a virulent anti-Mormon, I assure you, I was raised in the church and have great respect for many people in it. Growing up I always thought that the point of faith was belief beyond reason. You don’t have to pretend to have the rules of logic and reason on your side for your faith to be legitimate! It’s OK to just have faith. But I understand that someone who considers themselves to be a reasonable, logical human being, who happens to also believe in a church’s doctrine, has to address the cognitive dissonance by finding ways to twist and cajole logic and reason to support belief in that doctrine. I get it. But, just so you know, that process almost always comes off as unnecessary and at times, downright silly.

    • danpeterson

      Your quarrel, SS, is with humanity and with history. Since at least Socrates and Plato, reflective believers have offered reasons for their faith and sought to counter objections to it. That you find weird something that is so very, very normal probably says less about apologetics than about you.

      The fact is that religious apologetics has a long and extremely distinguished history. Apologists such as Richard Swinburne, St. Augustine, G. K. Chesterton, Alvin Plantinga, Søren Kierkegaard, John Locke, Moses Maimonides, John Henry Newman, St. Thomas Aquinas, Peter Kreeft, al-Ghazali, C. S. Lewis, and William Lane Craig are among the sharpest minds and finest writers who have ever lived. You are, of course, entirely free to dismiss them and their work as “almost always . . . unnecessary and, at times, downright silly,” but you probably shouldn’t expect many informed people to agree with you.

  • Jeff

    “That you find weird something that is so very, very normal probably says less about apologetics than about you.”

    What a terrible argument. So…”that you find weird [insert: just about anything in the world that mormons are against] that is so very, very normal probably says less about [others] than about you.”

    Also, we can get into a battle of name-dropping, but that is really, really futile. The fact is, there are many intelligent people that believe, and there are many intelligent people that do not. For what it’s worth, there were too many credible people involved with Enron to think anything shady was going on – how did that one turn out again?

    • danpeterson

      You might, before pronouncing my argument weak, try to actually understand it. Make an effort to restate it accurately, in a way that I might recognize. Then we can perhaps have a conversation.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    There are an awful lot if conclusory statements about Joseph Smith made by critics who claim he was a con man, but I have nevr seen them address any actual event in the history of the Churvh and explain how it supports their thesis. Apart from the First Vision and the visits of Moroni, all the major revelatory experiences were shared by Cowdery and others. I have seen far fewer critics who evn acknowledge that fact, let alone try to explain it with an alternative to the attested narrative.

    For me, the strongest witness corroborating Joseph’s testimony is the Book of Mormon, which has only gained in credibility and authenticity over the last 180 years. I have a copy if a poster size photo of the Dhofar coast of Oman showing Bountiful right where the Book of Mormon says it was. It is sold by the US Geological Survey as part of a collection of images of the earth as art. You can see it online. If it was common knowledge among educated Americans in 1830, wy do none of the critics mention it? For one of his contemporaries to wrie the book would have required advanced knowledge in ancient languages, cultures, science and geography, as well as immense preparation making a chrono.ogically complex narrative. And hy would anyone go to that trouble and not claim it as his own, at least claim, like many of Smith’s contemporaries did, o have received it as a revelation, Muhammad like, eliminating the inconvenience of stories about artifacts? The simplest explanation is Joseph’s. You might as well suggest that someone in the late 22nd Century used the information available themn to compise the Book of Mormon and then sent it back in time., a to adopt any of the cobspiracy theories advanced by critics, with their gaping holes filled ith speculative fiction.