Criticism of Mormonism/Websites/MormonThink/Moroni's Visitation

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    Response to MormonThink page "Moroni's Visitation"


A FairMormon Analysis of: MormonThink
A work by author: Anonymous

FAIRMORMON'S VIEW OF THE CRITICS' CONCLUSIONS


The positions that the MormonThink article "Moroni's Visitation" appears to take are the following:

  • That Moroni's visit would have awakened the rest of the Smith family.
  • That Church artwork does not accurately show Joseph's siblings asleep in the room during Moroni's visit, except those paintings that actually do show it.
  • That if the Church continues to use artwork that shows Joseph alone in bed during Moroni's visit, that the Church is "not becoming more open and forthright about this issue."
  • That Moroni's visit was likely a "dream or hallucination."

FAIRMORMON'S RESPONSE AND SUPPORTING DATA


MormonThink claims...
Now the big question is when Moroni came and spoke with Joseph in the night of September 21, 1823, why didn't this wake up Joseph's brothers who were sleeping in the very same room with him? Surely the grand appearance of an angelic being with the countenance of lightning would have awoken the entire Smith family including his parents, two sisters that were sleeping in the adjoining room, his other sister sleeping downstairs and his five brothers in the small house they lived in. At the very least, Joseph's five brothers that slept in the same room would surely not have slept through this grand event.


FairMormon commentary

  • You mean to say that the God of Heaven and Earth, who has all power, cannot make sure that Joseph's family remained asleep during Moroni's visit?
  • Genesis 2:21 tells us, "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;" What if we were to state, "Now the big question is that when the Lord God removed one of Adam's ribs, why didn't he wake up?"


Quotes to consider

"This argument falls short theoretically. For those who do not believe in Joseph's visions, there was nothing to wake anyone anyway. For those who do believe in Joseph's visions, the argument sounds theologically naive. Could not Moroni manifest himself to Joseph only? None of Paul's companions on the road to Damascus saw the resurrected Christ. A vision needs only to hold the attention of the visionary. Joseph's brothers can sleep in peace." [1]


Additional information


MormonThink claims...
Also, Moroni must have been a very short man to be able to float significantly off the floor and yet have his head beneath the rather short ceiling of the room Joseph slept in.


FairMormon commentary

Joseph Smith, Jr.'s bedroom in Smith log cabin. The Smiths lived here from 1818 to late 1825.
  • You've got to be kidding...are we supposed to literally pick apart the details of Moroni's visit in this manner?
  • That's like asking what physical process prevented the burning bush from turning to ash.
  • If MormonThink bothered to actually research this question, they could see at a glance that Moroni would be at no risk of striking his head. A photo of the bedroom is available to the right. Note the high, peaked roof that would seem to provide ample room. The beds and doorway provide scale. On what grounds does MormonThink label this a "rather short ceiling"?
  • MormonThink even has a photo like the one at the right, but they still want to convince their readers that there's not enough angelic headroom.
  • This is probably one of the most bizarre claims FAIR has ever seen, and that's saying something.



Additional information

  • Moroni would have struck his head on the ceiling?—In one of the more absurd or desperate attacks upon Joseph's story, some claim that Moroni could not have stood "above the floor" because the ceiling would have been too low and he would have hit his head. Photos easily disprove this absurd claim. (Link)


MormonThink claims...
It is also somewhat deceptive of the LDS Church to show the illustrations of Joseph with Moroni all by themselves. Why don't they show Joseph's five brothers in the room sleeping with him? Showing Joseph in bed by himself gazing at Moroni is not accurate as he would have had two brothers sleeping in the bed with him.


FairMormon commentary

  •   The author is namecalling: liars   —Critics often assume or claim that LDS leaders or members are lying or dishonest. They do not consider or grant that even if they are in error, they might have made an error innocently or unintentionally. Any error (real or perceived) is evidence of lying.
  •   Repetition   —Critics often repeat the same claim again and again, as if repetition improved their argument. Or, they use the same 'shock-quote' multiple times.
  • They do show it.
  • Some Church artwork does indeed portray Joseph as being alone—this is simply an artistic interpretation.
  • The August 2009 Ensign, page 54, however, shows a painting of Joseph sitting up in his bed looking at Moroni. Next to Joseph one can clearly see three of his siblings in the same bed...sound asleep. (May be viewed here: Artwork by Liz Lemon Swindle)
  • Even the official LDS web site has a painting that shows one of Joseph's siblings asleep in bed during Moroni's visit. See: The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.



Additional information


MormonThink claims...
Critic's response There has never been anything recorded by Joseph Smith that the all-powerful creator used his powers to keep ten people from waking up during the night of September 21, 1823. Most Latter-day Saints have not even thought about this problem and its significance. There is no precedent for our Heavenly Father using his divine powers to keep people from waking up during spectacular events.


FairMormon commentary

  • Well, no precedent in the Bible except...
    • that thing with Adam and the rib...
    • the Lord calling to Samuel and Eli sleeping through it...
    • Stephen's vision while being stoned...
  • Why should Joseph Smith have recorded this mundane fact? Even the writer of the paragraph acknowledges that most people don't even think about it. Why should Joseph Smith have thought to mention it? Joseph didn't mention if he had short or long hair in his account, but we do not assume his head was shaved bald.




MormonThink claims...
Critic's response: [T]he 'vision' must have been entirely contained in Joseph's young mind. If this is the case, how is this really different than a dream or a hallucination? To the believers that say the Angel Moroni's visit was entirely in Joseph's mind and that is the reason none of his family could see the angel that night, we agree - it was in his mind as an intense dream, hallucination or inspired fantasy or what some call 'a vision'.


FairMormon commentary

  •   Caricature believers' arguments  —Rather than accurately report and respond to a statement offered by a believer, the critic misrepresents it and then criticizes their own straw man version.
  • Joseph said that he saw an angel, and described him. If you don't want to believe that, then calling it a dream or hallucination should settle your mind on the matter.
  • Few believers say the vision was "entirely in Joseph's mind." This is a straw-man.
  • Joseph would have to dream or hallucinate the exact same thing three times in one night, and then in the full light of day the next morning. And, he would report repeated conversations with Moroni over the next few years.




MormonThink claims...
Critic's response The Church is well aware that Joseph's brothers all slept in the same room as he did. The LDS tour guides at the restored Smith home confirm this. The Church purposely omits this part of the story in its publications, paintings and illustrations as it would sound very unbelievable to show the entire Smith family sleeping during Moroni's visit, even though this is what happened. For a church that preaches such honesty, they can be very deceptive. To approve of less-than-accurate paintings, sugarcoated stories and depictions of historical events is deceptive and totally out-of-line with a church that espouses the virtues of total honesty.


FairMormon commentary

  •   The author is namecalling: liars   —Critics often assume or claim that LDS leaders or members are lying or dishonest. They do not consider or grant that even if they are in error, they might have made an error innocently or unintentionally. Any error (real or perceived) is evidence of lying.
  •   Repetition   —Critics often repeat the same claim again and again, as if repetition improved their argument. Or, they use the same 'shock-quote' multiple times.
  •   The author is making mutually exclusive claims:  —When critics need an attack against the Church, any excuse will do, even if they are mutually self-contradictory: if one argument is true, the other cannot be.
  • So, wait a minute--the Church's tour guides, who speak to thousands of visitors a year, confirm that Joseph was in a bed with his siblings, and yet MormonThink claims there's a conspiracy to cover up this fact?
  • Some Church artwork does indeed portray Joseph as being alone—this is simply an artistic interpretation.
  • The August 2009 Ensign, page 54, however, shows a painting of Joseph sitting up in his bed looking at Moroni. Next to Joseph one can clearly see three of his siblings in the same bed...sound asleep. (May be viewed here: Artwork by Liz Lemon Swindle)
  • Even the official LDS web site has a painting that shows one of Joseph's siblings asleep in bed during Moroni's visit. See: The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.



Additional information


MormonThink claims...
Update: Perhaps web sites like [MormonThink] are inspiring the church to be more accurate in its depictions of historical events. We support the effort. Perhaps next month they will have a depiction of Joseph translating the Book of Mormon by putting his face in a hat?


FairMormon commentary

  • Actually, MormonThink added this "Update" after FAIR pointed out the two paintings that refuted their claim.
  • We seriously doubt that artist Liz Lemon Swindle painted three of Joseph's siblings asleep in bed during Moroni's visit because of MormonThink.
  • We seriously doubt that lds.org added a painting showing Joseph's siblings asleep because of anything found on the web.



Additional information


MormonThink claims...
Update In the October 2011 Ensign, page 8, the church did not use the more accurate image of Joseph with his brothers in the room when Moroni appeared. Instead the church reverted to using the same old painting of Joseph alone in the bed with Moroni appearing over him. So it appears that the church is not becoming more open and forthright about this issue as we had hoped.


FairMormon commentary

  •   The author is namecalling: liars   —Critics often assume or claim that LDS leaders or members are lying or dishonest. They do not consider or grant that even if they are in error, they might have made an error innocently or unintentionally. Any error (real or perceived) is evidence of lying.
  • Or, more likely, that the Church and most members simply don't care about this silly argument. They are illustrating the visit of Moroni, not attempting to justify every physical and spiritual aspect of the visit.
  • After all, isn't the fact that an angel has shown up to visit a farmboy really by far the most extraordinary and difficult-to-believe part of the story?



Additional information


Endnotes

  1. [note] Mark Ashurst-McGee, "A Pathway to Prophethood: Joseph Smith Junior as Rodsman, Village Seer, and Judeo-Christian Prophet," (Master's Thesis, University of Utah, Logan, Utah, 2000), 293.