Bible And Book of Mormon Answers To the Questions you've always had about The Book Of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ but were afraid to ask.

Are Mormons Christians?

What is The Book of Mormon?

Where did the Book of Mormon come from?

What insane delusion are you under that could possibly make you think the Book of Mormon is true?

What does it mean that we can know for ourselves if it's true?

Are Mormons Christians?   Just because you've probably heard otherwise, Mormons are Christians!  The dictionary defines a Christian as "one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ".  Below are a few Book of Mormon verses which teach that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way.    For someone to say that we are not Christian they must be making up their own definition of the word (which they are usually doing but don't tell you about it.).  [ And if you really need me to, I could also add more verses to show from the Book of Mormon  that there is no other Christ and no other Jesus than that one described extensively in the New Testament - born of the virgin, The Only Begotten of the Father, taught in and around Jerusalem, ordained 12 apostles, healed the sick, raised the dead, was crucified, died, buried three days, resurrected on the third day, The Lamb of God, The Rock of Salvation, The Creator of all things, The Good Shepherd, The Holy One of Israel, The Christ, The Messiah, The Redeemer, The Savior, The Son of God ....(well, you get the idea :^)]
The 2nd Coming
1 Nephi 13 : 41 - 42
41 And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.   42 And the time cometh that he shall manifest himself unto all nations , both unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles; and after he has manifested himself unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles, then he shall manifest himself unto the Gentiles and also unto the Jews, and the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.

2 Nephi 31 :19 - 21 [Great chapter covering  salvation and baptism]
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.   20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.  21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen .

Jacob 4 : 16
16 But behold, according to the scriptures, this stone shall become the great, and the last, and the only sure foundation, upon which the Jews can build.  17 And now, my beloved, how is it possible that these, after having rejected the sure foundation, can ever build upon it, that it may become the head of their corner?

Gethsemane Mosiah 3: 17 - 18
17 And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent .  18 For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.

Mosiah 5 : 8
8 And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.


What is The Book of Mormon?
It is an ancient book of scripture that was written by two groups of people who left the Old World and traveled to the New World.  Because God loved them too he continued to call prophets and to teach them.  After His resurrection Jesus Christ visited the people and gave His Gospel message to them, proving that God truly is no respector of persons.  The title page of The Book of Mormon, written by an ancient prophet named Moroni is a good explanation of the book.

Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites — Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and GentileWritten by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation — Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed — To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof — Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile — The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.

An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven — Which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever — And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations — And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.

First English edition published in 1830

Where did the Book of Mormon come from?
It's best to get the information straight from the source.  Here is the testimony of a prophet named Joseph Smith about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and its translation in our day.  His story also teaches us that God truly is no respector of persons and that He loves us as much as He loved those in ancient times.  Just as He sent His prophets to help prepare the Israelite Nation for His First Coming, He has sent prophets in our day to help prepare the world for His Second Coming.

What insane delusion are you under that could possibly make you think the Book of Mormon is true?
You may think it's insane because you've never given the book a chance.  That's how I felt until I actually looked into the matter myself,  There are so many reasons and so many evidences that I can't even begin to discuss them all.  First I'll reference a much better page than I could write, Book of Mormon Evidences at Jeff Lindsay's Cracked Planet.

But here are some quick reasons that any thinking person should at least consider the possibility that The Book of Mormon is true.

1.    The testimony of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, as recorded in it's introduction.  This is a much larger topic than I am going to discuss here, but in short:

Few people ever saw the plates from which the Book of  Mormon was translated but, there were Eight Witnesses who lifted them and turned the pages and testified they appeared to be ancient and made out of gold.  Due to the intense persecutions that drove the Saints from state to state some of these witnesses left the Church, but none of them ever denied what he had seen.
More importantly, there were Three Witnesses who saw the angel Moroni, the Book of Mormon plates, and heard the voice of God commanding them to bear witness of what they saw.  Due to the above mentioned religious persecutions they each left the Church, and stayed behind in Ohio and Missouri.  No longer "under the thumb" of Joseph Smith this would have been the time to admit that they had lied or had been deceived, but despite many pressures to deny their testimonies, they stood before courts of law and printed advertisements in newspapers to reaffirm to the world their testimonies of the Book of Mormon.  Their neighbors often testified to the general honesty and good character of each of these men.  Two of them eventually returned to the Church, and later gave death bed testimonies that they had seen the angel and heard the voice, and the third had his testimony engraved on his tombstone, fearing to appear before God without having made clear to the world that he did see the angel and knew with a perfect knowledge that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God.

2.    Critics do not fairly represent the status of archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon.  They often still deceive with the hyperbole (that's a fancy word for 'lie') that "there is no archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon", when in reality there is sufficient internal and external archeological evidence to determine that no person or persons were able to write the Book of Mormon from knowledge that existed in 1830 . ( By the way, critics must use this tactic and deny or ignore all Book of Mormon evidence, because unlike the Bible, they can't take the stance that it's historical fiction. We know that it came about in modern times. Even if Joseph had simply found an ancient document without all that talk about angels, it would take almost as big a miracle to render it into English as what Joseph describes - and it just won't do to have any miracles in the modern world.)  The statement may be truthful if they say there is no "proof" of the Book of Mormon, but it is just as truthful to say there is no "proof" of the Bible or anything else, however both have evidences that they are authentic.  As of today it is truthful if they qualify the statement by saying that there is no recognized New World archeological evidence, but that will probably always be true because although there is a little New World archeological evidence, it will never be "recognized".  There is however a substantial amount of Old World archeology which supports the Book of Mormon.

When any criticism against the Book of Mormon is proven to be invalid, the critics either drop the point without comment or completely ignore the evidence. The history of the evidence against the Book of Mormon is fascinating as point by point the Book of Mormon is proven correct despite what all the "experts" knew in the 19th century. Point by point the critics drop their strongest and most used arguments against the Book, because of the advances of archeology. Or the same old criticisms come up time and again no matter how completely and obviously they've been refuted, because most anti-Mormon works are not trying to convert the Mormon, but to frighten those who are unfamiliar with the Church and not in a very good position to find the answers. The goal is simply to make it sound incredibly foolish and get people to dismiss what we say without ever really taking any time to consider it .

For a simple example, the phrase "The Gold Bible" was given to the Book of Mormon mockingly and was considered just too funny for words, because everyone knew that ancient civilizations did not write on metal plates, and the critics pushed this point for over a hundred years. Now archeology has shown, that it was not uncommon for ancient peoples to write important information on metal plates. If a critic still mocks, he must be silent on the archeological evidence. More examples are cement buildings in Meso-America, Hebrew written in Egyptian script, Authentication of non-Biblical Book of Mormon names (like Paanchi, Hermounts, Alma and about a dozen others), the role of militarism in Meso-America, Temple building by Israelites outside of Jerusalem, Bethlehem being part of the Land of Jerusalem, authentic non-Biblical ancient ceremonies recorded in the Book of Mormon, knowledge of sophisticated metal working in early Meso-America. This is a short list, but they are all examples of old criticisms of the Book of Mormon which have largely dropped by the wayside because archeology has vindicated the Book of Mormon and re-written what all the experts "knew".

Let me tell you about two of the most important evidences as I see it for the Book of Mormon , Hebrew poetry and the Lehi in the desert episode in the first chapter.

3.    Hebrew poetry - internal evidence
There are hundreds of examples of dozens of forms of Hebrew poetry found in the Book of Mormon, many of which were unknown to scholars in 1830 . A main example is an ancient middle eastern poetry form known as chiasmus, in which the structure of the passage is arranged like the Greek letter chi (X), with parallel concepts at the beginning and then mirrored at the end of the passage (in the format a,b,c,d,d',c',b',a'  or a,b,c,d,e,d',c',b',a' ).  Often this poetic construction, shows an important central focal point of the passage.

An Old Testament Example (Leviticus 24):
a)         Then the Lord spake unto Moses
   b)       Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him...stone him
        c)      Thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying
            d)         Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin... the stranger as well as he that is born in the land
                e)         And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death
                     f)        And he that killeth a beast shall make it good, beast for beast
                         g)       and if a man cause a blemish in his neighbor so shall it be done to him
                              h)       Breach for breach
                                   i)        Eye for eye
                              h')      Tooth for tooth
                        g')       As he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him
                     f'')       And he that killeth a beast , he shall restore it
                e')       And he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death
            d')        Ye shall have one manner of law for the stranger and well as one of your own country
        c')    And Moses spake to the children of Israel
    b') Bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp and stone him with stones
a')       They did as the Lord commanded Moses

This pattern is seen in our current King James Version (KJV) Bible.  The chiasmic pattern of most of the Biblical Hebrew poems can not be seen in the KJV because scholars were largely unaware of its existence.  Therefore when translating these passages they often rearranged word orders to make grammatical English (good Hebrew poetry makes poor English grammar).  Usually one is required to go back to the original Hebrew to see the structure.  Notice how in this passage there is a balance of equivalent ideas between the matching lines (instructions for a balance of justice to the judges in Israel), with the central idea being 'Eye for an Eye',

A Book of Mormon Example (Mosiah 5:10-12.)

a)        And now it shall come to pass that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ
    b)      must be called by some other name;
        c)        therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God.
            d)        And I would that ye should remember also, that this is the name that I said I should give unto you,
                e)         that never should be blotted out,
                    f)        except it be through transgression ;
                    f')       therefore, take heed that ye do not transgress,
                e')       that the name be not blotted out of your hearts.
            d')        I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts,
        c')       that ye are not found on the left hand of God,
    b')       but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called,
a')       and also, the name by which he shall call you.

In this passage there is a balance of contrasting ideas (being called by the name of Christ or not called by that name), with the central idea being a warning against transgression.  This is one small example among hundreds, many of which are much longer and more complex.  For a more complete beginners article on chiasmus see Come to Zarahemla or Lindsay's Chiasmus page.

This form of parallelism helps bring new meaning to the passage and puts special emphasis on the turning point at the center. John Welch offers the following analysis in BYU Studies , Vol. 10, No. 1, p.75: (Lindsay)

[T]here exists no chance that Joseph Smith could have learned of this style [chiasmus] through academic channels. No one in America, let alone in western New York, fully understood chiasmus in 1829. Joseph Smith had been dead ten full years before John Forbes' book was published in Scotland. Even the prominent scholars today know little about chiasmic forms beyond its name and a few passages where it might be found. The possibility of Joseph Smith's noticing the form accidentally is even more remote, since most biblical passages containing inverted word orders have been rearranged into natural word orders in the King James translation. And even had he known of the form, he would still have had the overwhelming task of writing original, artistic chiasmic sentences. Try writing a sonnet or multi-termed chiasm yourself: your appreciation of these forms will turn to awe. If the Book of Mormon then is found to contain true chiasmal forms, should it not be asserted without further qualification that the book is a product of ancient Hebrews culture?
A number of non Latter-day Saint scholars have been impressed by the presence of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon. See, for example, J. H. Charlesworth, in review of John W. Welch's "Chiasmus in Antiquity: Structures, Analyses, Exegesis," in Religious Studies Review 8/3 (July 1982): 278; Angelico Salvatore di Marco, review in Revista Biblica 31 (1983): 377-81; David Noel Freedman, review in preface to Chiasmus in Antiquity, 7-8; and Stanislav Segert, review in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 46 (1984): 336-38 (all examples cited by William J. Hamblin, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, p.498). ( Lindsay ).   See this interesting article by John W. Welch about the effect the Book of Mormon has had on some theologians & scholars

"Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon is evidence of an ancient origin, not conclusive proof". Although a loose chiastic structure can be found in many writings, these are different than the tightly formatted and complex forms of literary parallelism that are common to other ancient Semitic writings. "If these examples are real and nonrandom, then it becomes increasingly probable that the Book of Mormon is not a nineteenth century writing, but is a translation of an ancient text representing, at least in part, a highly developed literary tradition". ( Lindsay )

However for the most part the critics simply do not mention them, or pretend they are not really there - even though many poems in the Book of Mormon are 'textbook' examples of ancient literary forms unknown in 1830.  It has been argued that some of the poetry in the Book of Mormon are the best examples in all of ancient literature.   The best that the most prolific anti-mormon writers have come up with is to dismiss it with a wave of the hand as if it was nothing for a genius like Joseph Smith to come up with these kinds of things when writing what he thought was scripture, even though he himself never realized they were there and although they don't show up in his personal writings.  According to them, Joseph wrote hundreds of complex and intricate poems blending several forms of ancient poetry (even writing entire chapters or several chapters in chiastic format) without any conscious awareness of what he was doing.  He apparently did this as he dictated the 500 page book in about 60 working days, after which he never again demonstrated the type of vast intellectual superiority that he would  have needed to analyze the mostly hidden Biblical poetic examples and then recreate the style as he composed the Book of Mormon.  For that inconsistent contention to be true, it would require just as big a miracle from God as Joseph was already claiming.  Joseph only had the benefit of 3 years of formal education (not unusual for farmers on the American frontier), and although he proved himself in later years to be an intelligent man, he never achieved much formal learning, and he was never considered (even by those who loved him) to be the intellectual giant that would be required in order to create things such as these on his own.  In my mind it is simply impossible that any person or persons could construct these Hebrew poems correctly in all of there many intricacies before 1830.

4.    Lehi in the desert - external evidence

The story of Lehi's journey in the desert is almost a travelog through Arabia. Of course in the 1830's it was ridiculous and all the facts were impossibly wrong, according to the experts.

4A.    The River of Laman and The Valley of Lemuel

First, some of the latest evidence which knocks down the last impossibility.  In the Book of Mormon, The prophet Lehi and his family traveled from Jerusalem into the wilderness, to the shores of the Red Sea, and then traveled 3 more days, where they camped for a long period of time in a valley with "a river of water" (which Lehi named the river of Laman and the valley of Lemuel, the names of his 2 oldest sons).  Lehi describes this river and valley in a poem, "And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!  And he also spake unto Lemuel, O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord" (1 Nephi 2:9-10). This description (besides being a specific type of Bedouin poem where a man is exhorted to be like another object and then in the best examples is rounded out by its "brother" verse which makes a second exhortation [again an impossible thing to know about and write in 1830]) has been held as impossible for the last 170 years. According to everyone, there is not and never has been a river in this area of the world that runs even seasonally much less continuously into the Red Sea. As of 1984, after investigating the area for over 44 years the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Agriculture and Water, along with the U.S. Geological Service, concluded that Saudi Arabia "may be the largest country without any perennial rivers or streams". (Water Atlas of Saudi Arabia, 1984). This story of Lehi must simply be a fantasy. Joseph Smith is obviously a false prophet.

Until in October of 1999 George D. Potter reported in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies that there is a river and valley that fits all of the criteria in the Book of Mormon for the river of Laman and the valley of Lemuel. (Vol 8, Num 1 / 1999 [The text of the article can be read here , but unfortunately there are no photos with it (or Lindsay 's page with photos)] The article contains maps and photos of both the river and valley. It runs above ground for 3 3/4 miles and is essentially a drainage ditch for a 105 square mile area of desert, that is hidden by a narrow gorge cut through a massive granite mountain (firm, steadfast, and immovable). It flows continually during all parts of the year, as can be attested by the vegetation around the river and by first hand observation in all four seasons, even during drought conditions elsewhere. According to the level of calcification and erosion of the rocks on the banks, the river is thinner than it was in the past, apparently it has been somewhat depleted by pumping stations in the northern area. Although today it approaches to within 3/8 of a mile and then flows under a gravel bed to the Red Sea, in 600 BC the elevation of the floor of the canyon at this spot was about 130 meters lower (due to a 5 cm per year push by the continental plates for 2600 years) and would have flowed into the Red Sea then. It is a 70 mile hike (actual distance, not as the crow flies) from the Northern tip of the Red Sea, which is a difficult but do-able 3 day journey on foot and an relatively easy 3 day journey with camels. It fits every criteria and barring other discoveries is the only location which could fit. The fact that there is any area that fits must have been just a lucky guess, is I'm sure what the critics will say.

4B.    The Place which was called Nahom

The Book of Mormon then records that they then proceeded in "a nearly south-southeast direction" ( ^1 Nephi 16:13 ) down the borders of the Red Sea until they reached "the place which was called Nahom" ( Nephi 16:34 ) apparently an existing name, not a name given by Lehi), which is unknown from any previous source).  And we find from ancient documents an area named NHM has been located, nearly south-southeast of the valley of Lemuel described above.  Although these documents only hint that Nahom existed in Lehi's day, they definitely show it existed around 900  The NHM altar in Yeman AD.  It may have had a large ancient burial ground, which is why they buried Ishmael there.  But here is the really exciting part - as a firm conformation of this area being called Nahom,  Warren Aston, Lynn Hilton, and Gregory Witt of Lehi's Trail have found what is probably the first archeological artifact which attests to the Book of Mormon story.  This altar is one of three located "in a recently excavated temple complex near Marib Yemen".  They each have the name "NHM" carved on them and have been independently dated (i.e. by non-LDS sources)  to the 7th or 8th century BCE, verifying that this place name was in use at the time of Lehi.  There are no written vowels in ancient Semitic languages even when they are  vocalized so NHM is equivalent to Nahom (like YHWH is equivalent to Jehovah). This puts "the place which was called Nahom" in exactly the right time and place necessary to verify Lehi's account in the Book of Mormon, and yet a fact that was completely unknowable by anyone anywhere in 1830, again proving that there is no way Joseph Smith or anyone else in the 19th century could have invented the Book of Mormon .

4C.    The Land which We Called Bountiful

We learn from archeology that the valley of Jawf were the area of NHM is located, marks the point were the ancient incense trade route turns east. It is at Nahom that Nephi states that they turned "nearly eastward" ( ^1 Nephi 17:1 ) and continued straight. However, soon after leaving NHM the trade routes veer south, so the group would have left those established trails, and Nephi correctly tells us that this part of the journey was extremely difficult ( ^1 Nephi 17:1 ). They continued "nearly eastward" until they hit the seashore, where the next absolutely impossible part of this journey takes place. Lehi found an area called Bountiful ( ^1 Nephi 17:5 ).

It was a small area yielding "meat", "much fruit", "honey", a year round supply of fresh water, a prominent mountain that Nephi called 'the mount", cliffs from which Nephi's brothers could threaten to cast him into the sea, a source of ore and flint, trees big enough to build a large ship with, a suitable coast , winds, and ocean currents that could permit travel out into the ocean, reasonable access from the interior desert, and a shore that could be camped on. Bountiful was also an impossibility for over 160 years according to all the experts. It simply could not exist. It has always been well known that there is nothing but desert along the coast of Saudi Arabia. There could certainly never be an area that could be called Bountiful; no fertile area, no river, no cliffs, no honey, no way. Joseph Smith obviously just makes this stuff up with out any knowledge whatsoever of the real world.

"The description of Lehi's journey through the desert has been attacked in anti-Mormon literature. Finding a garden spot on the coast of the Arabian peninsula was laughable and was laughed at in the 1800s, because nobody knew of a place that could come anywhere close to being a candidate for Lehi's Bountiful. Indeed, recent anti-Mormon books continue to mock the possibility of a place like Bountiful existing. "The Arabian desert does not have luscious garden spots: Joseph Smith blew it. Case closed." ( Lindsay )
Around 1990, Warren P. Aston located a spot on the east coat of Oman called "the bay of Khor Kharfot ('Fort Inlet' or 'Fort Port')". "This area is so isolated that even today it is almost unknown in other parts of Oman. It lies at the end of a long, narrow ravine, the Wadi Sayq ('River Valley'), that provides the only access from the interior desert to the coast". "Here, as nowhere else, all the factors that Nephi mentioned were found in one place" [Journal of Book of Mormon Studies Vol 7, Num 1, 1998 (The text of the article can be read here , but unfortunately there are no photos with it), and here is Lindsay 's excellent summation of their book "In the Footsteps of Lehi"]. Also, Nehom is at 16 degrees Latitude, Khor Kharfot is at 16 degrees 45 minutes, less than 1 degree of difference, which is "nearly eastward".

How did this concise and precise geographic data get into a book written in 1830, that was opposed to all the known data of the day, yet is extremely accurate in the light of today's archeology ? And it is not as if I am mentioning only a few points out of hundreds.  The quotes above contain all of the geographical locations given about Lehi's travels in the Arabian desert, and all have been confirmed 160 years after its first publication.   Again, it is impossible that anyone could have written this book in 1830.  Even the most prolific anti-mormons have only been able to try to undermine the evidence by saying, in essence, that someone else once suggested a possible location further to the north before Khor Kharfot was found, so they must both be wrong; completely contradicting the normal scientific method of discovery.

The only logical explanation for the account of Lehi's journey is that it was written by people who traveled through the Arabian peninsula, and that means Joseph Smith did not write it. We are talking about a real ancient document that speaks to us from the dust ( ^Isaiah 29 ) and confirms that Jesus is the Christ ( Lindsay ).
5.    A Note about Meso-America - nonexistent evidence

Most critics of the Church prefer to ignore the Old World archeological evidence and go on about the fact that there are no good New World archeological artifacts.  Although there is much more New World evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon than the critics care to think about, including several aspects of ancient culture unknown in 1830, (see Lindsay's  Book of Mormon Evidences ), there is not good archeological proof.  This really is not much of a surprise.  Biblical archeology has had hundreds and hundreds of professional archeologists over the past 200 years diligently working to prove the stories in the Bible.  The Book of Mormon has had less than a dozen over the past 30 or so years.  We are still in our archeological infancy

As far as digging in Meso-America and finding a street sign that says "Zarahemla 2 mi. ->" or an engraving that says "Nephi slept here", the fact is we still know very little about the ancient Meso-American cultures where many of the Book of Mormon events probably took place. In the first place, there are limits to archeology. From Dr. Hugh Nibley's book "There Were Jaradites":

"People are prone to expect any civilization described in the records as great and mighty to leave behind majestic ruins. The mighty piles of Egypt and Babylon have fooled us into thinking that the greatness or even the existence of a civilization is to be judged by its physical remains. Nothing could be further from the truth.... Perhaps the greatest and certainly one of the longest of all heroic cultures was that of the East Iranians... yet, though those people `had already learned to dwell in fixed habitations' (the Avesta has a great deal to say about their magnificent castles), archaeology has not yet brought to light a single edifice built at this early period. One might list a hundred great and mighty nations of old, the reality of whose existence and whose deeds there cannot be the slightest doubt, since literary and historical evidence for them is abundant, yet of whose deeds and buildings not the slightest physical trace remains .... Today every schoolboy knows that the city which Schliemann identified as Homer's Troy was not Homer's Troy; what is not often realized is that no city in the mound of Hissarlik has been identified as Troy... Yet Homer has described the city of Troy at far greater length and in far more detail than the Book of Mormon describes any city. In view of that, can we hope for any better luck in America?
I attended a colloquium on 10 Dec 1999 at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, about the Blue Creek Mayan Research Program . As the speaker, Dr. Thomas Guderjan, mentioned, this was ONE of TWO Mayan cities that they have been trying to map completely. That's not a lot of archeological evidence, especially since this city (according to some guesstimates) would have been in the area of the Laminate non-believers who didn't write the Book of Mormon. (But even so it follows in general terms the historical changes that the Book of Mormon reports {allowing archeological dates as approximations with an small error of ±50 years and allowing time for trends to develop over an area} it began small around 600 BC (Lehi arrived about 589 BC) and stayed a village until 100 AD. Then lots of major construction from 100 to 500 AD [the "Golden Age" of Nephite & Lamanite civilization from 40 to 400 AD]; with construction coming to an abrupt halt at 500 AD [during the era that society began to turn again to wickedness and the believers in Christ were wiped out in huge wars (421 AD)]; and the final collapse of infrastructure in 850 AD at least partially do to continuing wars of conquest [could a complete collapse of the infrastructure be caused after there began to be a state of constant warfare among them, as reported in the Book of Mormon?] ).  I've read elsewhere that although many sites have been located, only about 2% of all the archeological sites in the area of Meso-America have been investigated in any detail. We still know very little. Is it surprising that we have not found much evidence of a people who, according to the record, were wiped out, forced to convert to the other side or be killed, had all their records (which would probably include carvings on buildings or stele) sought out by their enemies and destroyed (except possibly those specifically hidden up)?  When the Spanish arrived there were dozens of different groups with over 20 different languages in the area, we are only investigating the largest ones, which the Book of Mormon shows were not the believers who wrote the book.

As another recent example of what archeology does not know about the New World look at this ABC News article about metal. "Much to the surprise of archaeologists (but not to Mormons) one of the earliest civilizations in the Americas already knew how to hammer metals by 1000 B.C., centuries earlier than had been thought." And “It shows once again how little we know about the past and how there are surprises under every rock.” - Jeffrey Quilter, Dumbarton Oaks (italicized note added). Although this is not in Meso-America most cultures are not so completely isolated that there is no sharing of technology for thousands of years.

The idea that the ancient inhabitants had no metal producing capability has taken up a lot of space in anti-Mormon literature.  As more information like this is uncovered it will pass into silence and the new argument will be that of course Joseph Smith would have assumed that they had metal production.

Although it's true that there is little archeological evidence from the New World, there is some incredibly strong archeology from the Old World.  The overall case for the Book of Mormon gets stronger and stronger and it can't be explained away if you use the facts . The critics do not address these issues in any significant way. It is hard to find any anti-Mormon work that deals with the subject of chiasmus or Arabian geography at all. At most they try to dismiss the evidence and make weak comments about supposed incorrect word spellings. This is another example of simply trying to drop the subject and pretend that it isn't happening. It will never matter how much archeological evidence exits. It is an unthinkable possibility that any aspect of the Book of Mormon story can be found to be supported by facts, so it is simply not thought about and not discussed. Just as with many Bible scholars and critics this is really because they do not want to believe it, they will never allow themselves to accept the evidence, it would interfere too much with their lives.

These evidences, once known, should lead every honest individual to seriously consider the possibility that the Book of Mormon may be an actual revelation from God.

What does it mean that we can KNOW for ourselves if it's true?
We really can. It would take each person several lifetimes to study and analyze with impartiality all the conflicting claims and interpretations that people have about God and religion. But God doesn't leave us floundering in an unknowable sea of uncertainty and confusion.  See our quick testimonies and then our more complete stories here (Keith & Catherine's Testimonies coming soon)

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This is not an official web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The opinions expressed, although generally representing the beliefs of the Church, are my own responsibility. I do not speak for the Church as a whole or any other individual members. Any errors are   a reflection of my own limitations, don't condemn the things of God based on my faults. 
[All quoted Bible scriptures are from the King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise indicated.]
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 13 And it came to pass that we traveled for the space of four days, nearly a south-southeast direction, and we did pitch our tents again; and we did call the name of the place Shazer.
 34 And it came to pass that Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom.
 1 And it came to pass that we did again take our journey in the wilderness; and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth. And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness.
 5 And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters.
 4 And thou shalt be brought down, [and] shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust. ... 
 11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which [men] deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it [is] sealed: 
 12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. 
 13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 
 14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, [even] a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise [men] shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent [men] shall be hid. ... 
 18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.