by Dan Eden for viewzone.com
There is no Santa Claus
I can vividly remember when I learned that there was no Santa Claus. It was 1957. During the weeks leading up to Santa's nightly visit my family had erected a Christmas tree that we decorated with plastic and glass ornaments, aluminum foil tinsel and threaded popcorn garlands.
I was just 7 years old and my heart was set on getting an erector set from Santa. My brother, four years older, already suspected that Santa was a hoax and he cleverly devised a way to prove it.
When I was an infant, my parents purchased an electrical device with tubes, about 6 inches square, that was called "The Baby Sitter." In reality, this was a weak AM band transmitter that sent out a signal capable of being picked up by a nearby radio. It was designed to monitor a baby's cries from an adjacent room. My brother had placed this under the Christmas tree, disguised under fake cotton snow, and we tuned it in from our upstairs bedroom on Christmas eve.
Sure enough, the conversation of Mom and Dad alluded to their purchase of my "erector set" and discussed where to place the wrapped boxes and who would take the bite out of the cookie left for Santa. I was devastated.
I remember thinking that if Santa Claus was a hoax then maybe I had also been deceived about the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy! And what about the Devil... and God?
Would some modern technology eventually also prove even these to be fake?
When I returned to my second grade class after the holidays I was determined to reveal the truth about Santa to my classmates. While some confided to me that they knew this already, others had a look of horror and disbelief. I was attacked on my way home. "Fat Johnny" sat on me while Billy put sand in my mouth.
Now, in the Autumn of my life, I have become accustomed to revealing the truth and dodging "Fat Johnny". I know about such things as "World Views" and the psychology of cognitive dissonance that drives people to hold on to erroneous ideas and paradigms even when the logic and proof are removed. And how people, according to The Terror Management Theory, will even fight and die to maintain their own "World View".
New Revelations Shock Mormon Church
That being said, I came upon a story while researching an article on Mitt Romney. Much is made of the fact that Mr. Romney is a Mormon and that his character and personality are built upon that wholesome Mormon morality. Unless you are within a few hundred miles of Salt Lake City, Utah, you probably know next to nothing about the "LDS" (Latter Day Saints), as they are called. Here's the background first, then the bomb shell that's caused many to turn away from the church and its teachings.
Sadly, like Santa Claus, Joseph Smith's Revelations Are A Hoax.
The veracity of the Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, is in serious danger. Already a significant number of people have left the church because of a 1966 discovery in an archive of Egyptian artifacts at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The papyrus scroll contradicts Smith's translations that became The Book of Abraham, one of the canons of the Mormon faith. It would appear that Joseph Smith just invented the text and lied about his ability to translate it!
The Book of Mormon was published in 1830. Andrew Jackson was president of the United States and the famous Oregon Trail had just crossed the Continental Divide. By 1835, Smith and his twelve apostles had set up a pioneer-like agricultural community in Kirtland, Ohio, and were building a church temple there.
Quite by chance, a traveling salesman named Michael Chandler was selling a collection of Egyptian mummies, various artefacts and, most significantly, two papyrus scrolls that had been wrapped in the arms of one of the mummified corpses. Chandler claimed they were all authentic artefacts that had been plundered from graves near the Egyptian ruins of Thebes by a deceased explorer, whose estate he was commissioned to sell. When he passed through Kirtland and displayed the scrolls, he was immediately brought to meet Joseph Smith.
The Book of Mormon was originally written in ancient Egyptian, according to Smith, and he had translated the Book of Mormon text on his own. His congregation was sure that if anyone could translate the writing on the papyrus scrolls, it was their prophet, Joseph Smith.
The salesman sensed the interest when Smith claimed to recognize the names of the biblical "Abraham" and "Joseph" on the scrolls. He made a requirement that the four unsold mummies he carried in his wagon would have to be part of the deal, take it or leave it. With the help of some investors, and their $2,400 (an estimated $75,000 in today's dollars), Joseph Smith had his Egyptian papyrus scrolls and began to translate them, much as he did before with The Book of Mormon.
"I have commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphs and much to our joy found that one of the scrolls contained the writing of Abraham. Another with the writings of Joseph of Egypt. A more full account of which will appear in its place, as I proceed to examine and unfold them. Truly we can say the Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of peace and truth.
For the next year, Joseph Smith continued working on the scrolls, claiming to have translated what would later become The Book of Abraham, a cornerstone of his work as a prophet and dogma in the evolving Mormon church.
[Above:] Sketched reconstruction of a portion of the papyrus scroll by Joseph Smith, used in translating The Book of Abraham. Smith claimed the reclining figure (4) was Abraham, about to be sacrificed on an altar by an Egyptian priest holding a knife (3).
[Above:] The actual scroll showing how Smith "drew in" portions of the images that were missing on the original.
Joseph Smith Assassinated
By 1838, Smith was less interested in the scrolls and was having a financial crisis. Bankrupt, he fled his debtors in the middle of the night and started up his "business" in a fresh location: Commerce, Illinois, which he renamed as Nauvoo.
Smith became the Mayor of Nauvoo, formed his own militia of 3000 soldiers, issued his own currency and was recognized as a "prophet, seer and revelator". There was even a move to make him a candidate for president of the United States.
In 1842 he boldly published The Book of Abraham in three installments in a Mormon periodical, Times and Seasons. It was later included in the Mormon book, The Pearl of Great Price. Coinciding with the publication of his translations of the papyrus scrolls, Joseph Smith became a Master Freemason. It's also about the time he was promoting polygamy as a means to thrive.
The Book of Abraham discusses some of Mormonism's most peculiar doctrines -- the plurality of gods, the pre-existence, and polygamy. It also introduced the scriptural basis for the black priesthood ban.
On June 22nd, 1844, a crowd of vigilantes stormed the unguarded jail where Smith was being held in "protective custody" and shot him several times. For some people in his own community, he had simply gone too far.
Smith's role as head prophet was taken over by Brigham Young who moved the congregation to the Salt Lake area. The rest, as they say, is history.
[Above:] The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS Church or, colloquially, the Mormon Church) is a Christian primitivist church that considers itself to be a restoration of the church founded by Jesus Christ. The church is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has established congregations (called wards or branches) and built temples worldwide. With over 55,000 missionaries worldwide, the church currently has a membership of over 14.4 million and is ranked by the National Council of Churches as the fourth largest Christian denomination in the United States. (source)
What happened to the papyrus scrolls?
In 1856 the widow of Joseph Smith sold the papyrus scrolls to a collector and they were briefly housed in a Chicago museum until the great Chicago Fire apparently destroyed them in 1871. In the interim, The Book of Abraham had become equal in status to the Bible. It was, after all, a revealed message of the church's prophet and founder.
Several attempts to debunk The Book of Abraham were made by both Mormons and non-Mormons. In 1912 the New York Times devoted two pages that showed flaws in the translation but Mormon officials refuted the claims, stating that only if one could view the original scrolls (believed destroyed in the Chicago Fire) could such accusations be made.
Ooops! Look what we found!
While doing an inventory of some Egyptian artefacts in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the curator came upon some papyrus scrolls, in fragments, that were accompanied by a letter, signed by Joseph Smith's widow, Emma Smith Bideman.
[Above:] The actual scroll used by Joseph Smith to translate The Book of Abraham.
"This certifies that we have sold to Mr. P. Combs, four Egyptian mummies with the records of them. They were purchased by the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, at the price of twenty four hundred dollars in the year 1835. They were highly prized by Mr. Smith on account of the importance which attached in the record which was accidentally found in the breast of the mummies."
We know so much about ancient Egyptian burial practices today. The scroll that Jospeph Smith translated has been found and completely debunked.
Dr. Richard Parker of Brown University:
Egyptologist Theodule Deveria was the first to identify the facsimiles found in the Book of Abraham as common to Egyptian funerary documents. Ancient Egyptians would bury or entomb their dead with a collection of hymns, spells, and instructions to allow the deceased to pass through obstacles in the afterlife.
It is now known beyond any doubt that Joseph Smith translated a document that was frequently placed inside the mummified corpse during the burial procedure. Only the name of the deceased was changed or customized (on one scroll it is "Horus"). It has absolutely nothing to do with Abraham or Joseph and any assertion that it does must be considered dishonest and misleading.
This hoax was validated by examining a complete translation performed by Robert K. Ritner, PhD., Associate Professor of Egyptology at the University of Chicago, and there seems no other explanation but that it was a hoax.
Alas, carbon-14 dating places the papyrus 2000 years younger than the biblical Abraham! Case closed.
What now for the Mormon Church?
In a recent documentary which interviewed many Mormons who had been made aware of this fraud, church members described entire families leaving the fold. If Joseph Smith was dishonest in his translations of The Book of Abraham (still a canon of the church) then he was likely dishonest about the Book of Mormon in its entirety.
General Authority and Church Historian B.H. Roberts recognized the gravity of the problem:
No satisfactory answer has come from church officials. Some have attempted to claim that Smith arrived at his translation from other pieces of the scroll, yet unaccounted for. But Egyptologists, familiar with this death prayer, say that it is complete, from start to finish, and that only a few columns of text are missing at best.
Some apologists say that Joseph Smith was inspired to write The Book of Abraham, and that the hieroglyphics were merely guides, but Smith clearly stated otherwise in his diary.
This shocking news stirs up some interesting and frightening prospects when a member in good standing -- a Bishop, in fact -- of the Mormon church was narrowly defeated for most powerful office in the free world. Mitt Romney maintains his "World View" that Joseph Smith was a prophet.
Yes, there is a Santa Claus.
Its too Bad our media is so corrupt, I would love to see this story come out over the air waves from CNN, or hey how about it gets printed the Times. It's an awesome story, and an awesome truth. I have heard a bit about this before. I am glad to get the documented truth, and to be able to read the whole story. thanks Dan. We rely on this site for articles just such as this. And love to read the cold hard facts. I do however feel sympathy for all the people (sometimes generation after generation) that placed their belief, and faith in a greedy and power hungry man instead of placing it within their selves.
We brought up our children to question everything, we have also taught them "even when you die question the light before jumping in".
Thanks again viewzone.com.
A whole family that believes in self
I disagree with the direction this article leads the character of a particular faith towards politics.
I live in Utah county and left the church in my youth. I do not believe in the Mormon teachings personally, but I am surrounded by people who do. I read about the papyrus scrolls years ago and had a good laugh about it.
The quality of what people have written in the name of religion is in question with all religions. Most religions were written about God by man. Joseph Smith was no different. I am not backing his teachings. I am only trying to point out most religions used falsehood to support the leaders of that particular time the falsehood was written.
The end result in the Mormon situation is a pious group of people who in the most part want to live as decent people as best they can. I disagree with them and respect them. Fanatics are found in every religion, country, particular side of politics, and even in fringe blogs.
My political opinion, which is mine alone, is that both 2012 candidates will lead this country into disaster. Their religion has no bearing on this. Their political career, financial backing, and past actions in their respective office should be all the proof anyone needs that neither candidate is fit to lead this country in the current problems we are facing. I'm not trying to get political here. Personal opinion won't be changed that easily. I just want to point out the irresponsibility of singling out a particular group of Americans as the fanatic cult that can't manage a country.
Utah has a better economy and lower unemployment than many other states. Utah has a low crime rate and family friendly neighborhoods compared to many other American cities. Utah also has its fair share of problems. However, Mitt Romney has nothing to do with this state other than a successful run of the 2002 Olympics. His policies enacted in Massachusetts would have had the residents of Utah reeling.
I back neither Obama nor Romney, and I am a non-Mormon living in Utah. This is a decent state full of people who actually care about each other. If everything starts to fall apart it would be hard to find a better community of people to call your neighbors.
Is the religion false? I think so. Is it bad? No. Is their any difference between Mormonism and any other Christian faith? Not much. Does it have any bearing on how a country is run? Not in the slightest.
Well this really shocked me. I mean the evidence is 100% that he was fraudulent and we are left with two possibilities: that he [Joseph Smith] was mentally ill and delusional for a prolonged (many years) period OR he was a clever man who found a way to scam some people into letting him have multiple wives and not have to work hard for a good life, meaning his character is seriously flawed. Either way, it's a mental health issue.
A good article with material I had not seen before. I disagree with Metatron's argument that this fact should not be mixed up with Romney and politics. The very fact that a person can somehow believe in the prophecies of Joseph Smith, in the face of what is known, is very telling about the character and motivation for decisions and actions that are made on behalf of the Commander in Chief of the United States. As the article stated, this is a "world view" that potentially affects everyone. What kind of "world view" can ignore this evidence?
If you look at any religion you are going to discover that each has some implausible thing that one must try to accept without understanding. That does not make small the good that comes from this. We believe in love and respect and that is a big benefit. The small things like this change very little.
We've already had at least one president of USA who believed that the Bible was the word of God, despite the fact that it was written by men over a period of many years. This is no different. It's possible to have too much truth. Escaping reality is the reason we create religion. The same reason we create Santa Claus. It's a sham but it makes people feel better and want to do good. So is it bad?
Thanks for an excellent and interesting article, well researched and written.
In reply to the commenter who stated: "I...feel sympathy for all the people...that placed their belief, and faith in a greedy and power hungry man instead of placing it within their selves." Well now, isn't that what 69 million US citizens did in the last election?
Regarding Romney's ongoing affiliation with the Mormon church, I believe most politicians are all "show" and no "tell." I've read he is a Mormon bishop. Since he is a leader in the church, even if Romney understands the fraud perpetrated by Smith, relenquishing his religion would actually hurt him politically. And he'd lose the Mormon vote. Better for appearances to feign ignorance in this (and perhaps in many other areas) in order to get elected.
-- Disgusted voter getting ready to bail out of Dodge
What a bunch of rot! You need to contact people who really know about this.I'm not a Mormon in Utah but I belong to the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri. My church does not authenticate the Book of Abraham as sacred. I do however, authenticate the Book if Mormon as being sacred. I teach it. I've read it numerous times. There is very little that disagrees with the Bible. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.. He teaches the same wherever His spirit is. Read it before you comment and prove me wrong. No family would have gone through what the Smith family did for no good reason. Joseph had a 3rd grade education and translated the book in three months, not on his own, by the Urim and thumnin glasses which were in the box with the plates. I'm an author---there is no way anyone with a 3rd grade education could do that in three months. Just sayin------