Difficult questions for Mormons to answer

An article on carm.org entitled “Difficult Questions for Mormons to Answer”, features 10 questions from the booklet, “Ask Your Bishop” by Ira T. Ransom.

Responses are below.

Question 1: If the Book of Mormon is true, why do Indians fail to turn white when they become Mormons? (2 Nephi 30:6, prior to the 1981 revision).

​This question is based on a misunderstanding of the scripture. 2 Nephi 30:6 says (emphasis added):

6 And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.

Most earlier versions had the word “white” instead of “pure”. However irrespective of what word is used, the scripture is clearly metaphorical as it is speaking of the “scales of darkness” that “fall from their eyes”. 

Question 2: If the Book of Mormon is true, then why has the Mormon church changed it? Examples are: 1 Nephi 11:21; 19:20; 20:1 and Alma 29:4. Compare these with the original Book of Mormon. (Gerald and Sandra Tanner have counted 3913 changes in the book of Mormon, excluding punctuation changes).

This question is based on a misunderstanding of truth and what is meant by the “original Book of Mormon”. Stating that the Book of Mormon is true does not mean it is free from error. Text changes in the Book of Mormon aim to restore the original meaning from Joseph’s translation, which is of course “the original Book of Mormon”. 

Question 3: How did Joseph Smith carry home the golden plates of the Book of Mormon, and how did the witnesses lift them so easily? (They weighed about 230 lbs. Gold, with a density of 19.3 weighs 1204.7 lbs. per cubic foot. The plates were 7″ x 8″ by about 6.” See Articles of Faith, by Talmage, p. 262, 34th ed.)

This question is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the plates. Joseph Smith managed to carry the plates home because they were simply not that heavy. The dimensions above are correct, but the weight is based on the assumption the plates were made of solid gold. Those who held the plates described them as being around 60 lbs, not 230 lbs. There is no reason to think the gold plates were made of solid gold. See the FairMormon article on the description of the plates

Question 4: If Moroni devoutly practiced the Mormon Gospel, why is he an angel now rather than a God? (Doc. & Cov. 132:17, 37)

This question is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of exaltation. This question assumes that Moroni has already had enough time to become a God since he died. But this is contrary to the teachings of Joseph Smith (emphasis added):

When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.

(King Follet Sermon, April 7, 1844)

Question 5: Why do Mormons emphasize part of the Word of Wisdom and ignore the part forbidding the eating of meat except in winter, cold or famine? (Doc. & Cov. 89:12,13).

It is problematic to say that “Mormons emphasize” something. Does this mean the leadership? If so, which leadership? Or is it the members? If so what percentage of members? D&C 89:12-13 says (emphasis added):

12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine

​It is difficult how to see how the phrase “it is pleasing unto me” can be described as “forbidding”

Question 6: Why did the Nauvoo House not stand forever and ever? (Doc. & Cov. 124:56-60).

This question is based on a misunderstanding of the prophecy involved. The reason the Nauvoo House did not stand forever and ever is simply because it fell. D&C124:59 says (emphasis added):

Therefore, let my servant Joseph and his seed after him have place in that house, from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord

The wording here means there is no reason to think this was a prophecy that the Nauvoo house would actually stand forever and ever.

Question 7: If Jesus was conceived as a result of a physical union between God and Mary, how was Jesus born of a virgin? (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 50).

Mormon leaders are entitled to express their opinions on any matter but does not becoming binding for the Church. Mormon doctrine is not tied to a physical union between God and Mary despite some statements from Church leaders. See Jeff Lindsay’s response to this question 

Question 8: How did Nephi with a few men on a new continent build a temple like Solomon’s while Solomon needed 163,300 workmen and seven years to build his temple? (1 Kings 5:13-18 and 2 Nephi 5:15-17).

This question is based on a misunderstanding of the scripture. Nephi answers this criticism himself. 2 Nephi 5:15-17 says (emphasis added):

15 And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.

16 And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple.But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.

17 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands.

To say that “the manner …was like unto the temple of Solomon” does not tie Nephi to having built a temple exactly the same as Solomon.

Question 9: Why was Joseph Smith still preaching against polygamy in October 1843 after he got his revelation in July 1843 commanding the practice of polygamy? (Doc. & Cov. 132; and History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 46, or Teachings of the Prophet, p. 324).

This is not true. Joseph Smith did not preach against polygamy in October 1843. Joseph said in October 1843 (emphasis added):

“… I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Page 324)

This is not a teaching against polygamy, it is a qualification for polygamy.

Question 10: God rejected the fig leaf aprons which Adam and Eve made (Gen. 3:21). Why do Mormons memorialize the fall by using fig leaf aprons in the secret temple ceremonies?

This question is very curious and simply not true. Mormons do not “memorialize the fall” by using fig leaf aprons in the secret temple ceremoniesThe fig leaf is simply part of a symbolic reenactment in a sacred ordinance.