Translation from a Seer Stone in a Hat
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11-09-2014, 09:07 AM
Translation from a Seer Stone in a Hat
In my "Ask a Mormon" thread, I answered a lot of basic questions about Mormonism. One of which was a question regarding the Book of Mormon translation method supposedly employed by Joseph Smith.

I originally said that he did not translate by reading a "seer stone" out of a hat, as has been commonly rumored. I dismissed it as a wild claim because it was never taught to me that way when I was a member. I should have known by now not to trust what the church tells me though, because as it turns out I was wrong to dismiss it.

Joseph Smith did use a seer stone in a hat to translate the Book of Mormon. Elder Russel M. Nelson, one of the twelve apostles of the church, issued a formal clarification and explanation to mission presidents throughout the church in 1992, which was subsequently published as an article in the church's main magazine, Ensign, in 1993, in which he detailed the process as observed by a witness. The article was entitled "A Treasured Testament" and can still be viewed on lds.org in the archives.

“Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.”

This quote was taken from the writings of David Whitmer, one of the famous "Three witnesses" to the authenticity of The Book of Mormon and one of the six original members of the Mormon church.

I had it very wrong. Sorry to anyone who received wrong information because of me. I hope this correction will help add to your understanding. I was never taught these details, in fact, I was taught a lie, a conflicting fiction.

The Sunday School and Primary curriculum had me believing that Joseph sat at a table, holding the golden plates, tracing his finger along each line as he translated out loud. They taught that he wore the supposedly "Nephite" breast plate which was attached to two glasses-like seer stones known as the "Urim" and "Thummim". I was under the false impression that he looked through the two stones as anyone looks through glasses.

The Pearl of Great Price, one of the standard scriptural works the Mormons consider to be the word of god, states this lie blatantly in "Joseph Smith History" verse 35.

"Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted seers in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book."

If that isn't evidence that the church is engaged in deception, I don't know what is. The translation method is presented falsely in the Mormon curriculum that I was taught, leaving me ignorant of the rarely and obscurely clarified truth admitted by Elder Nelson only a few years ago. This seems to me a very poor admission of inaccuracy and is not at all transparent, as Mormon apologists often claim to be.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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11-09-2014, 10:07 AM
RE: Translation from a Seer Stone in a Hat
That's odd to me. I have a different perspective entirely.

I have lived in Salt Lake City my whole life, but never been a Mormon (or any other religion). I do have many Mormon family members. All my life I've been told that he used his seer stone in his hat. I didn't learn about the Urim and Thummim until very recently (sometime in the last few years).

I remember asking my grandparents back when I was a teenager, in the 80s, why he even needed the golden tablets if he didn't use them - all he did was put his face in his hat with his magic rock and presto! words appear. Why have golden tablets sitting untouched in an unopened box on his table when he didn't look at them or touch them or let anyone see them while he was translating in his hat? What were they for?

My grandparents told me that the tablets were written centuries earlier and preserved for the first prophet to find them so that he would know that he was called to be a prophet, but the words came from god himself. They were OK with that explanation.

But, regardless, it's clear that they knew about the seer stone in the hat before 1992.

I'm not saying that the LDS church isn't peddling lies, but I'm not as convinced as you are that the seer stone was a complete deception. Maybe each bishop simply tells things to his congregation the way he sees it, and they're not all on the same page?

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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11-09-2014, 11:23 AM
RE: Translation from a Seer Stone in a Hat
A fool and their money are soon parted...


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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11-09-2014, 11:31 AM
RE: Translation from a Seer Stone in a Hat
(11-09-2014 11:23 AM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  A fool and their money...

Are welcome at AIG.


"Name me a moral statement made or moral action performed that could not have been made or done, by a non-believer..." - Christopher Hitchens



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11-09-2014, 12:06 PM
RE: Translation from a Seer Stone in a Hat
Laugh out loadLaugh out loadLaugh out load

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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11-09-2014, 12:18 PM
RE: Translation from a Seer Stone in a Hat
The Sorting Hat placed me in Huffle Puff.
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11-09-2014, 12:43 PM
RE: Translation from a Seer Stone in a Hat
Is their anything people won't believe?

[Image: urim-thummim.jpg]

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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11-09-2014, 12:53 PM
RE: Translation from a Seer Stone in a Hat
It seems clear to me that the church is conflicting with itself on this issue. They are teaching two contradictory versions of the translation simultaneously, focusing more on the one in their standard curriculum than the other. It seems logical to me, that whatever is contained in the standard curriculum is a reflection of the information the church wishes to disclose. This church claims to be not only true, but truthful and transparent. If it isn't their intention to mislead members, why isn't the seer stone and hat mentioned directly in the Sunday School manuals, or in their holy scriptures for that matter? Why isn't it present in the many paintings used in manuals and on the internet to represent the translation? Every possible incorrect version of the translation can be found in paintings and pictures still used in manuals and in class rooms today.

[Image: Joseph-Smith-Tranlating-the-Book-of-Mormon.jpg]

Even if both are somehow simultaneously correct, how or why would that be? If a one method is effective, why stop long enough to bother with the other? Why reach for the Urim and Thummim if the stone in the hat is revealing truth to you from god? Or visa verse?

The stone in the hat is accounted for in and of itself.

"The other instrument, which Joseph Smith discovered in the ground years before he retrieved the gold plates, was a small oval stone, or “seer stone.” As a young man during the 1820s, Joseph Smith, like others in his day, used a seer stone to look for lost objects and buried treasure."

That was a quote from lds.org and is part of an article called Book of Mormon Translation, subtitle, Translation Instruments. Here is the link. https://www.lds.org/topics/book-of-mormo...nd+thummim

We know, and the church acknowledges that Joseph found and claimed to receive supernatural sight from his seer stone long before he ever used it in translation. He never produced any verifiable results, or historically any positive results at all, from his searching for buried treasure using the stone. In fact, his gold digging wizardry actually led to his being arrested on charges of fraud.

So just to keep things straight...

1. Joseph found and claimed to use his seer stone to find buried treasure, a service which he rented out to others unsuccessfully.

2. He used the very same stone to "translate" The Book of Mormon without ever actually reading from the golden plates.

3. I have evidence of the church omitting the details of translation from the mainstream lesson plans taught to the congregation, while mentioning them in honest detail rarely and in non-mainstream materials.

I suspect this is an example of the church "shying away" from a truth that they believe will cause investigators to go no further. I suspect that they know how crazy it sounds, and have taken steps to soften it with lies and half truths. If someone gets as far as I have, they can point out the few times they have been transparent and say "What more do you want from us. We admitted to that already". All the while they will just continue to conveniently not teach it in Sunday School.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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11-09-2014, 01:01 PM
RE: Translation from a Seer Stone in a Hat
(11-09-2014 10:07 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  That's odd to me. I have a different perspective entirely.

I have lived in Salt Lake City my whole life, but never been a Mormon (or any other religion). I do have many Mormon family members. All my life I've been told that he used his seer stone in his hat. I didn't learn about the Urim and Thummim until very recently (sometime in the last few years).

I remember asking my grandparents back when I was a teenager, in the 80s, why he even needed the golden tablets if he didn't use them - all he did was put his face in his hat with his magic rock and presto! words appear. Why have golden tablets sitting untouched in an unopened box on his table when he didn't look at them or touch them or let anyone see them while he was translating in his hat? What were they for?

My grandparents told me that the tablets were written centuries earlier and preserved for the first prophet to find them so that he would know that he was called to be a prophet, but the words came from god himself. They were OK with that explanation.

But, regardless, it's clear that they knew about the seer stone in the hat before 1992.

I'm not saying that the LDS church isn't peddling lies, but I'm not as convinced as you are that the seer stone was a complete deception. Maybe each bishop simply tells things to his congregation the way he sees it, and they're not all on the same page?

I would very much like to know why some teachers, leaders, or whoever else, doesn't think these details are important enough to mention to some people. As far as I know, the church doesn't omit core doctrines to appease local opinion. Why would they do so with details of their history, other than to deceive? Why didn't they think the Urim and Thummim were important enough to mention to you? Or the stone to me? Is the attitude just, "Fuck it, as long as they believe he did it, on blind faith, I don't care what say about how he did it."

It seems to me that your grandparents gave you a non-answer which explained nothing. If the purpose of the plates was to inform the prophet of his calling, and to provide evidence to convince him of that, one might ask why seeing angels and god isn't enough to figure that out already? The angel, Moroni, which he claimed to see many times before he ever even went to retrieve the plates, somehow wasn't enough evidence of his future as a prophet? Seeing god himself, as he claimed, took place even before that.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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11-09-2014, 01:26 PM
RE: Translation from a Seer Stone in a Hat
(11-09-2014 12:53 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  3. I have evidence of the church omitting the details of translation from the mainstream lesson plans taught to the congregation, while mentioning them in honest detail rarely and in non-mainstream materials.

Well, you might want to steer clear of Mormon areas then, they aren't above resorting to lethal ways of dealing with someone they think is a threat:

Mountain Meadows Massacre

Coincidentally, it is the 157th anniversary of this atrocity.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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