The Sophistry of Mormon Apologetics, Nephite Coins, and One Apologist’s Utterly Confused Dilemma

The silly nonsensical use of sophistic arguments by Mormon apologists to defend and explain the blatant archaeological nonexistence of gold and silver coins, which are described specifically in the Book of Mormon’s heading of Alma, Chapter 11, and said to exist, boggles the mind of a reasonable person. The aforementioned Book of Mormon chapter goes into great detail about specific Nephite coins, supposedly created in great quantity, used as mediums of monetary exchange for the millions of Nephites who allegedly inhabited the American continent from 600 B.C to 421 A.D. Here you have an apocryphal book of myths written in 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr. and his literary cohorts, which was called by its author ‘the most correct inspired nonfiction book on the face of the earth,” which has been modified over 3,000 times since its first publication. Yes, that is correct! Since it was first printed, it has been emended extensively by the Mormon Church in syntax, with additions and deletions of contextual words and phrases, and in spelling and punctuation. In 1920, the current heading was placed into Chapter 11, of the book’s book of Alma distinctly designating and classifying the various specific denominations of gold and silver money used by the Nephites, which were called coins. This heading addition was not done inadvertently, but with approval and concurrence of the highest Mormon authority that is the Mormon First Presidency, meaning the Mormon prophet. All ongoing changes in the Book of Mormon, from 1830 to the present day have been approved by the presiding Mormon prophet at the time of the particular change. All commentaries written to explain the Book of Mormon, especially those from around 1920 until around 1968, accepted the terminology, coins, as applied to the gold and silver denominations in Alma 11. In my introductory summary to this article, I drew an analogy between the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, Jr. and the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, “Tarzan of the Apes.” The fact is that, while the Book of Mormon has been substantially modified in its subsequent editions with many changes, no changes have been applied to any of the many books written by Burroughs about African culture.

The grandiose descriptions given in the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith of the various Nephite cities and their splendor included the marketplaces where people bought and sold goods using the existing money or legal tender. Mormon apologists, like Michael Griffith, fall head-over-hills into utter chaos when they say that “coins” were not used by the Nephites. First off, the Book of Mormon states that coins ‘were’ definitely used. What these coins looked like is not really as relevant to the issue as if they existed in ‘some’ form. We have information given by Smith that Nephi had the ability to smelt and make high-quality “steel,” which was used to make fine steel bows and weapons of war, and that the refining of ore into steel was done quite frequently (although no archaeological evidence, whatsoever, of such smelting processes have yet been discovered in Mesoamerica). The pictures placed into the Book of Mormon depict finely cast breastplates, amulets, and helmets, with decorative inscriptions on them. Well, if the Nephites had the ability to create such fine artwork, it is quite certain that they, in some way, delineated and differentiated the various denominations of silver and gold money with certain cast designs. This only makes sense, if the “coins” were to be used over and over again in exchange for goods and services. The Nephites were described by Smith as having gold ‘senines,’ which were supposedly equivalent to a judge’s daily wage. So one senine might have been like an American 20 dollar gold piece. And a silver ‘senum’ might have been equivalent to a gold ‘senine.’ Then a gold ‘seon’ was equal to two gold ‘senines,’ or perhaps like an American fifty dollar gold piece. Then there was the ‘shum,’ which might have been like the American hundred dollar gold piece. Finally, there was the gold ‘limhah,’ or seven time the value of one ‘senine.’

Now the essential question wags its head demandingly in the wind, if these coins actually existed, “How did the Nephites differentiate between these gold and silver denominations? They didn’t have to guess about which was which and what was what, for there had to have been millions of these metal denominations in circulation based upon the described population of people. This is where plain common sense and intuition comes into play, something that Mormon apologists sorely lack. Whether the individual senines, seons, shums, senums, and limhahs were flat, thick and raised, or square, they were made with specific designs on them in order for the people to be able to tell them apart. Hence, if millions of Nephites exchanged tens of millions of these “coins” for goods and services, from approximately 660 B.C. to around 300 A.D., these coins should have been found in abundance in the many archaeological excavations that have been conducted in Mexico, Guatemala, Central America, and South America; but they have not! No coins, of any sort, have been found! How can this be plausibly explained? Can you imagine how many gold and silver Roman coins were made by the Roman Empire, and how many of them were distributed over the Holy Land from the 1st Century on; and how many different types of coins were made by the various civilizations that had occupied the Holy Land from the time of the Tower of Babel to the Roma Era? Probably hundreds of millions? That’s the reason that they are found in great quantity during archaeological digs in the Holy Land. The California lawyer, Thomas S. Ferguson, who begged money from Mormon Prophet David O. McKay in the early 1960s to establish an LDS archaeological foundation for proving the existence of the Nephite and Lamanite civilization in Mesoamerica, got the money and went to Central and South America expecting to find, at least, one Nephite coin, weapon of war, or artifact to prove the Book of Mormon true. After spending five years digging for proof, expecting to find it, he gave up, returned to the United States, and began to write letters to various people around the country expressing his frustration and his newly acquired belief that the Book of Mormon was not a true book of ancient American history. These letters were compiled and published in book form by the noted linguist, Dr. Stan Larson, former curator of special collections at the University of Utah Library. In one of the letters, Ferguson declared that, “I was greatly expecting to find at least one coin.” Another very interesting factor about money raises its head in the Book of Mormon, which needs to be mentioned. Another civilization is described by Smith, and whoever else helped him to contrive the anachronistic book, in the book’s Book of Ether, which supposedly exceeded the grandeur of the Nephite civilization. This was the Jaredite civilization, which preceded the Nephites about thousands of years. This civilization was described as exceeding the opulence of the Babylonians. If this were so, a monetary system must have been in existence for use by the millions of people who supposedly lived at that time in ancient history, described by Smith. Yet, the remnants of such coins haven’t been discovered in the many archaeological digs that have gone on in Mesoamerica.

The bottom line of the issue about Book of Mormon coins is that, basically, there were no coins or gold/silver money made by the mythical Nephites and Jaredites. The real Native Americans did not use coins or metal money. This fact has been as well established as the fact that no horses existed anciently on the northern and southern continents of the Americas until they were brought to the New World by the Spanish. You can see how frustrated the Mormon apologists must be, since they lose on both counts. If the Nephites were real people, and if the Book of Mormon is true, there should be plenty of gold and silver coins found all over Central and South America, but none have been found. Mesoamerican archaeology and anthropology has established as hard fact that the real inhabitants of ancient America, the Native American Indians, did not use metal coins at all as money. So, isn’t it time for Mormon apologists to readily admit that the Book of Mormon was manmade, a fraud, and wasn’t written by inspired prophets, but, rather, by a con-man named Joseph Smith, Jr., and those other contributors to the fraudulence?

It’s actually been that imminent time for 187 years of Mormon Church existence, but Mormonism has been, and continues to be, quite a profitable business for the Mormon Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and for Mormon apologists, through the billions of dollars of tithing received from its deceived supplicants. These apologetic snake oil advertisers and defenders write and publish their books and pamphlets for sale to the general public, and they have quite a marketing advantage in that there are over ten million rank-and-file Mormon adults who will probably buy what they write. Every book they write can actually become a best seller. Some apologists are actually regularly paid by the Mormon Church and can make as much as $50,000/year from their written, and online, sophistry. I’ve had the occasion to get to know, at a relatively close distance, one of these Mormon apologists, Michael Griffith. He currently lives within a few miles of where I reside in Virginia, and when he discovered about two years back that I was an ex-Mormon elder, he contacted me by email and we chatted for a few weeks back and forth about Mormon theology, and of all things, conspiracy. There is actually a Wikipedia website about Griffith, as a Mormon apologist, that lists his curriculum vitae, education, etc., and he appears, on paper, to be a reasonably well educated fellow, and, from what is written about him (he probably wrote and published the Wiki site himself), also intuitive and possessing common sense. Nonetheless, numerous devout Mormons come with a great many academic accolades, degrees, and honors, and I’ve discovered that there is something that all of these frenetically zealous men and women have in common. They all have, seemingly, bifurcated brains (minds), in that in one-half of the mind resides common sense, correct knowledge, and wisdom, and in the other half resides a fantasy masquerading as religion. When the devout Mormon apologist is in a university classroom, as a student, taking an important test over early American history and is writing an essay on the horse and the Native American Indian, he, or she, recites what he has been correctly taught, what the Smithsonian Institution has written about the origin of the horse in America, and what is accepted Mesoamerican history; that the horse was brought to the North and South American continents by the Europeans after Columbus. Yet, when the apologist is at church standing in front of a Mormon congregation giving a sermon, or teaching a class, about the Nephite/Lamanite wars in the Book of Mormon, which supposedly occurred before, and after, the birth of Christ, but before Columbus, the thousands of Nephite warriors are depicted by him as riding into battle on their many horses, using their fine steel bows, swords, and shields.

When I discussed, via email, Mormon theology and Jesus Christ with Michael Griffith, I wasn’t amazed at all to discover that, in addition to convictions about the Book of Mormon, he actually believed that Christ Jesus was not born into the world as God, but just as any other biological human entity. According to Griffith, Jesus did not become (a) complete god, with a capital G, until after he was resurrected from the dead. In accordance with Joseph Smith, Jr.’s 1844 King Follett Discourse, Griffith advocates that Jesus began to take on traits of godhood (such as performing miracles and walking on water) as he grew and developed, but did not become a full-fledged god until after he died on the cross. Furthermore, according to Griffith, Jesus grew and developed as any other human child would humanly grow and develop. Jesus was born, grew, and developed into a god, just like his father-god, with a capital G, was born, grew, and developed into a god.

You see, the bit of LDS theology about the origin of the Mormon father-god is now called ‘theo-genesis and deification,’ and Griffith believes that he, and all of the other ‘worthy’ Mormon elders on this earth, will become, by destiny, as great as the Mormon father-god by becoming, each and every one of them, Mormon father-gods, with a capital G. Moreover, Griffith believes that he and his temple-wedded wife (he and his wife were married in a Mormon temple) will one day, together as a god, with a capital G, and mother goddess with a capital G, organize (not create, since Mormon gods are limited in their powers) a planet, and celestially procreate billions of spirit children to inhabit the physical bodies that will be biologically procreated on their earth. The ultimate destiny of Michael Griffith, as a father-god, and his wife, as a celestial mother-goddess, will be to produce in Mormon exaltation a savior for their billions of spirit children on their earth, just like Jesus Christ. In essence, Griffith believes, and maintains, that there are as many gods, with a capital G’ as there are stars, and as many saviors, just like Jesus, as there are gods. That is what the Mormon Prophet Brigham Young stated in an LDS General Conference in the Salt Lake City Bowery in 1865.

Now, here comes the kicker-clincher! How in the name of sophistry can a person, a devout Mormon, such as Michael Griffith, pretend to apologetically defend a theology as unbiblical, pagan, and unchristian as what I just described, a scenario that rivals the dramas of Greek mythology. Discussing the Nephite use of coins in the Book of Mormon is an element of Mormon doctrine and theology that pales in comparison to the doctrines of polytheism of Joseph Smith, Jr. inculcated into Mormonism through his 1844 King Follett Discourse, and Mormon Prophet Lorenzo Snow’s refinement of it in the later 1890s. Yet, you will never hear, or read, statements from Michael Griffith, in his apologetic productions, explicating in detail his, and his wife’s, ultimate destiny of becoming a father-god and a mother-goddess. Well, you see, Griffith and other Mormon apologists have sophistically laid out their apologies for the Book of Mormon anachronisms and fiction, such as the coins, convoluted Mormon history, Mormon doctrine, for the basic origin of the Mormon father-god and the Mormon savior, Jesus, and the implications necessary for the inferences to the continuation of the endless cyclic reproduction of godhood and saviorhood. But you will not find them, as individuals, proclaiming their specific ultimate destinies in their LDS sacrament meetings and testimony meetings. Why? The Mormon brethren in Salt Lake City have repeatedly stated in their secret solemn assemblies that the devout members of the LDS Church should NOT reveal true Mormon theology to non-Mormons, and this is where intentional misrepresentation of Mormon theology ceases to be an innocent lack of clarity, and becomes fraudulent misrepresentation. Tens of thousands of full-time Mormon missionaries are continually going into the homes of struggling Christians, around the world, and telling them lies about Mormon theology, doctrine, and history, trying to make them believe in a sordid book of dramatic fiction, in a biblically plagiarized Trinitarian theology depicted in that book, which is not the real theology of Mormonism. This is deliberately done to seduce Christians into joining a pagan cult, the LDS Church. This is part of the continuing evil of the day spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 6: 34 (KJV), “Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” Christians, as good soldiers for Jesus, must realize this profound evil and contend evermore constantly against it in the never-ending war against Satan.

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