The "first vision" claim by Joseph Smith is hard to believe. Three witnesses were shown the plates by the power of God and eight others were shown them by Joseph Smith, but even if the three saw physically what is claimed, it doesn't prove anything about the Book of Mormon, or that it is inspired.

How do Mormons come to believe this - doesn't everything rest on this man?

closed as off-topic by Matt, fredsbend, curiousdannii, El'endia Starman Jan 5 '15 at 19:27

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    This question is worded more like an attack on Mormonism (setting up straw man arguments) rather than an intellectual inquiry. I will be happy to edit out the unresearched/incorrect claims for you if you would not like to do it yourself. But as of now, it is not a constructive fit for this site. – Matt Jan 2 '15 at 6:14
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    What claim is incorrect? – Ya lo creo Jan 2 '15 at 6:23
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    After reviewing the edit, I must say that although a lot was changed, it was for the better. "Does Mormonism rely on the credibility of Joseph Smith alone?" is a good question. I feel the question could be even shortened. It's also a much better fit for the site than (freely quoted): "Take these (randomly selected) events where Joseph Smith was alone. Doesn't this mean you base your belief on the testimony of a single man (with questionable credibility due to unbelievable claims of being a prophet)?". The purpose of this site as I understand it is to gain understanding, not spread criticism. – kutschkem Jan 2 '15 at 9:56
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    This question should be closed because the asker is not particularly polite. We strive for a polite, academic tone. We challenge many things, but we do so with a level of decorum that can be appreciated by all. – fredsbend Jan 2 '15 at 18:54
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    @Yalocreo The answer to your question about what was incorrect is what I edited out. The spliced portions were mostly incorrect and the rest was irrelevant cruft. Hope that helps. If you have more questions about procedure here, you could ask on the meta site. – Matt Jan 3 '15 at 5:39

When looking at it from this angle, there's really nothing to be said about Mormonism that can't be said about any other religion. All of Christianity is based on a set of claims by a Jewish preacher named Jesus of Nazareth, as documented (correctly? not everyone agrees) by disciples of his, several decades later. Islam is based on claims by Mohammed, Buddhism is based on the teachings of Buddha, and so on.

All religions have their detractors that come up with long lists of things that may or may not be true, and may or may not be cited in any sort of proper context, to try to make that religion look silly to outsiders. The simple truth of the matter is, it's far easier to make claims about someone who's been dead since long before any of us were born than it is to fact-check those claims. How is Mormonism any different?

The difference, though, is that Latter-Day Saints can actually answer that question with a solid "no." The Book of Mormon closes with a promise rooted in a very different doctrine:

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

-- Moroni 10: 4-5

This is the doctrine taught to every person learning about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: the ultimate source of truth is God, and He will confirm the truth to the hearts of those who sincerely seek it. A Latter-Day Saint's testimony does not go "I know that the church is true because I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet," but rather "I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet because I know that the church is true." It does not rest on Joseph Smith's credibility, but rather on God's.

  • Jesus in John 5 stated his testimony alone wasn't sufficient. In other places in the New Testament Jesus claimed the testimony of the father at his baptism, the testimony of John the Baptist, the miracles he performed and the testimony of the scriptures (old testament) and the Resurrection testified of his worth where he appeared to 500 or so. – Ya lo creo Jan 2 '15 at 6:31
  • Even Paul didn't just claim something, he based his testimony on events others knew, his immediate attendance by others his history of persecuting the church and his subsequent life and strong circumstantial matters, Mormonism seems to rest solely on smith not the reverse. – Ya lo creo Jan 2 '15 at 6:42
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    @Yalocreo Miracles, also witnessed by many others? Check. Angels that not only himself, but others with him saw? Check. Martyrdom? Check. I am not quite sure why you say that Paul has a stronger point than Joseph. The Book of Mormon, which we can handle and read, to judge whether this is revealed truth? Check. "Strong circumstancial matters, subsequent life"? I'd say check. Witnesses? Not at the First Vision, but definitely more than enough at other events and revelations throughout his life. You are just trying to comfortably dismiss the claim of him being a prophet. – kutschkem Jan 2 '15 at 9:41
  • They used 3 witnesses, which later apostasized. One testimony is not enough, 2 or 3 witnesses are needed. Preferably 3 not 2. – Karimson Safehold Jun 27 '17 at 21:09

No, it's actually the other way around: The credibility of Joseph Smith rests, in large part, on the Book of Mormon. If one finds that this text is the word of God, what does that tell us about Joseph? Everything else that needs to be said was already stated by Mason.

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