Skip to comments.Smithsonian Institution Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon
Posted on 03/19/2009 1:58:13 PM PDT by colorcountry
Smithsonian Institution Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon Some Latter-day Saints, in their zeal to give tangible authenticity to the Book of Mormon, have told prospective converts that the Smithsonian Institution has used the Book of Mormon to verify sites in the New World. In response to numerous requests on this subject, the Smithsonian has issued the following paper detailing their position on the matter.
Information from the National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560
Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon
1. The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archaeologists see no direct connection between the archaeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.
2. The physical type of the American Indian is basically Mongoloid, being most closely related to that of the peoples of eastern, central, and northeastern Asia. Archaeological evidence indicates that the ancestors of the present Indians came into the New World -- probably over a land bridge known to have existed in the Bering Strait region during the last Ice Age -- in a continuing series of small migrations beginning from about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.
3. Present evidence indicates that the first people to reach this continent from the East were the Norsemen who briefly visited the northeastern part of North America around A.D. 1000 and then settled in Greenland. There is nothing to show that they reached Mexico or Central America.
4. One of the main lines of evidence supporting the scientific finding that contacts with Old World civilizations, if indeed they occurred at all, were of very little significance for the development of American Indian civilizations, is the fact that none of the principal Old World domesticated food plants or animals (except the dog) occurred in the New World in pre-Columbian times. American Indians had no wheat, barley, oats, millet, rice, cattle, pigs, chickens, horses, donkeys, camels before 1492. (Camels and horses were in the Americas, along with the bison, mammoth, and mastodon, but all these animals became extinct around 10,000 B.C. at the time the early big game (sic) hunters spread across the Americas.)
5. Iron, steel, glass, and silk were not used in the New World before 1492 (except for occasional use of unsmelted meteoric iron). Native copper was worked used (sic) in various locations in pre-Columbian times, but true metallurgy was limited to southern Mexico and the Andean region, where its occurrence in late prehistoric times involved gold, silver, copper, and their alloys, but not iron.
6. There is a possibility that the spread of cultural traits across the Pacific to Mesoamerica and the northwestern coast of South America began several hundred years before the Christian era. However, any such inter-hemispheric contacts appear to have been the results of accidental voyages originating in eastern and southern Asia. It is by means certain that even such contacts occurred; certainly there were no contacts with the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, or other peoples of Western Asia and the Near East.
7. No reputable Egyptologist or other specialist on Old World archaeology, and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archaeological remains in Mexico and archaeological remains in Egypt.
8. Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World in pre-Columbian contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines, and sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492 except for a few Norse rune stones which have been found in Greenland.
9. There are copies of the Book of Mormon in the library of the National Museum, of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.
SIL - 76 Rev. May 1980
I’ve always wondered how/why the BOM was translated out of Reformed Egyptian into King James English .... you would think it would have been written down in 1820’s English/American idiom ...
It really doesn’t make any sense, if one takes the effort to think about it.
That’s what I think ... there are other problems but this one is foremost in my mind ...
Thanks for posting this. I have referred to this several times in the last month, but did not have the specific reference.
I posted this article in answer to the LDS Caucus article that was just posted citing Book of Mormon Evidences.
It is interesting that they want to tout ‘evidence’ but they simply can’t allow any discussion by dissenters to take place.
Well, this is the place. How strong is their “evidence.”
Smithsonian Statement on the Book of Mormon
by Sharon Lindbloom
Late in 1998 the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS - an LDS research group operating under the umbrella of the LDS Church) included a sidebar in their Journal of Book of Mormon Studies titled “Smithsonian Statement on the Book of Mormon Revised” (volume 7, number 1, 1998, p. 77). The article began,
For many years the Smithsonian Institution has given out a routine response to questions posed to them about their view of the relation between the Book of Mormon and scientific studies of ancient American civilizations. Statements in their handout pointed out what somebody at the Institution claimed were contradictions between the text of the scripture and what scientists claim about New World cultures.
Continuing, the article mentioned that LDS anthropologist John Sorenson critiqued the Smithsonian statement in 1982, pointing out the “errors of fact and logic” which it allegedly contained. In 1995 Dr. Sorenson revised his critique and, according to the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, recommended that the Smithsonian “completely modify their statement to bring it up-to-date scientifically.”
FARMS noted that it’s officers later spoke with a Smithsonian representative who indicated a willingness to make changes. More recently there has been some question from certain members of Congress about whether it is appropriate for a government agency to take a stand regarding a religious book.
According to FARMS, in March of 1998 the Director of Communications at the Smithsonian Institution began using a two paragraph response to “queries about the Book of Mormon” (see below) which basically states that the Smithsonian does not use the Book of Mormon as a scientific guide.
After reading the FARMS article I was curious about the absence of the reasons the Smithsonian did not use the Book of Mormon as a scientific guide. The previous statement offered by the Smithsonian had listed several specific points of contention between science and Book of Mormon claims (among them the physical type of the American Indian; the Book of Mormon’s anachronistic assertions of New World pre-Colombian use of Old World metals, domesticated food plants, animals, and other items; the absence of any confirmed relationship between the archeological remains in Mexico and remains in Egypt; the absence of ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World).
Therefore, I wrote to the Smithsonian to inquire about the new statement and their reasons for the changes. Following is the text of my letter to the Smithsonian Institution; following that is the text of the letter I received in response.
3 February 1999
Public Information Officer
Department of Anthropology
National Museum of Natural History
Washington, DC 20560
Dear Sir or Madam:
It has come to my attention that the Smithsonian Institution has issued a new “Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon.” I would appreciate it very much if you would provide me a copy of this Statement using the enclosed pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelope.
I would also like to know what has precipitated the necessity of a new Statement. Is there anything in the Smithsonian Institution’s previous “Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon” (the copy I have is designated SIL-76 1988) which has been proven inaccurate by subsequent research? If so, would you please instruct me on what those inaccuracies may be?
Thank you very much for your help and kind attention to my inquiry.
(Signed) Sharon A. Lindbloom
9 February 1999
Dear Ms. Lindbloom:
Thank you for your letter. We still stand by our former statement on the Book of Mormon. It was a decision of the Smithsonian’s central Office of Public Affairs to simplify the statement to respond to general questions regarding the Smithsonian’s use of the Book of Mormon. Below is the statement we presently distribute for these general inquiries.
Your recent inquiry concerning the Smithsonian Institution’s alleged use of the Book of Mormon as a scientific guide has been received in the Smithsonian’s Department of Anthropology.
The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide. The Smithsonian Institution has never used it in archeological research and any information that you may have received to the contrary is incorrect.
I hope I have answered your question.
(Signed) Ann Kaupp, Head
Anthropology Outreach Office
National Museum of Natural History
...ps - I remember on LDS missionary telling me the reason was it sounded “more Biblical” ....
It’s also interesting how they use the Bible to support their theories ... they’ll cite something from the BOM or an LDS writer then cite a Biblical passage showing they agree ...
If I want to put my trust in the arm of flesh, and believe everything science tells me, then I'd be no different than the majority of this secular world.
One would think. It reads more like someone had read the King James Version and then wrote it.
It was your brother The Don who posted the article concerning arcaeological “evidences” for the Book of Mormon.
I challenge you to go post this very statement on his thread.
Thanks for clarifying the latest response by the Smithsonian.
Mark Twain (not the one here) wrote that the BOM was chloroform in print ....
Because it was a stolen manuscript for a fiction written by a preacher who valued the KJV
Details, details.....Don’t confuse them with the facts.
One copy of book made of gold that no one but one man has ever seen and has never been produced as evidence, has told us so. How can you argue with that?
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