Talk:Joseph Smith

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All in all, he was a fraud who started his own made-up religion. There is a very long tradition of this...[edit]

That sentence links to Jesus and Muhammad, as well as to Scientology -- it used to link to some other cult I've not heard of, but now also links to Reverend Jim. My question is, do we really make ourselves look smart by lumping the first two in as "frauds"? Between them, most of the people alive on the globe right now buy into their ideas to one degree or another. I have a hard time thinking of the bulk of humanity as victims of a charlatan. I know that RW has a variety of different religious views among its membership base, but this kind of mood seems to toe the "not-only-do-I-not-believe-in-God-but-I-will-actively-try-to-get-other-people-not-to-as-well line a little to strongly for me. Any thoughts? OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 18:37, 15 October 2012 (UTC)

Whether or not you beleve in them, or not, Jesus (if he existed) or Muhammad were not knowingly mis-leading people. Unlike, say, Scientology. --Revolverman (talk) 19:01, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
(EC) I don't see why the article shouldn't raise this possibility. Frankly, people should be aware of uncomfortable parallels between Joseph Smith and other "prophets". I hold all religions equally implausible, and strongly suspect the founders of all religions were either charlatans, or suffering from some sort of mental illness. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 19:06, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
I just saw that before I saw this post. I moved a bit away from the "fraud" though i'd personally like to just take out the whole fraud word. I don't think it's fair to claim someone is a fraud, if they are not. And i've no idea if Smith believed what he said.--Green mowse.pngGodotCalibrated! let the voting begin! 19:08, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
Joseph Smith did many suspicious things, which of course invites questions about what facts about other religions have been glossed over in much longer stretches of time. We have the reverse on the Dalai Lama page. There people are concerned the tone is too polite and accepting of reincarnation -and I agree.
Anyway, calling Smith (and by extension, JC and Mo) a fraud may be going too far, but we cannot pretend the LDS account of his life is the only interpretation of events.--TheLateGatsby (talk) 19:44, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
It's all about tone. *showing* he is a fraud, and calling him one are very different. You go to a judge and say "this guy is clearly a fraud", you'll be sanctioned. You say "these are fraudulent things he did", then you'll win. I get that such a distinction sounds petty, but it's more a matter of letting intelligent people make up their own minds, and just giving them the tools.--Green mowse.pngGodotCalibrated! let the voting begin! 19:53, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
I've altered the paragraph to remove the word fraud and fraudulent while maintaining RW's skepticism that Smith actually had revelations. I hope this is more acceptable. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 20:11, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
"moved away from linking profets as "frauds". they may or may not have been sons of gods, but they were not intentionallly lying." [1] In the case of most self styled prophets we don't know one way or the other whether they were intentionally lying. We should not say one way or the other without evidence. In the case of Joseph Smith we know he was a convicted fraudster. Joseph Smith's 1826 Conviction. If I made an unsupported statement that self styled prophets always deliberately lie Godot and others would be down on me with good reason. Assuming that self styled prophets always believe their own message is just as unreasonable. Proxima Centauri (talk) 09:08, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

The original comment on this thread includes the statement: "Between them, most of the people alive on the globe right now buy into their ideas to one degree or another. I have a hard time thinking of the bulk of humanity as victims of a charlatan."

The fact that someone has a hard time believing something does not make it wrong.--Weirdstuff (talk) 09:23, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Goodpost.gif Proxima Centauri (talk) 09:40, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

The fraud thing would be the least of my concerns about this article - it's just appallingly written. Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD memberModerator 12:51, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

That GIF is lame and annoying. I did not mean to say that they were "correct" to believe in Jesus and Muhammad. I just think that people come to faith for an incredible variety of reasons, some good, many bad. To make a blanket assertion that they were all taken in by a fraudster means you lose a lot of the interesting stuff that's at play. OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 12:52, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
What do you mean by GIF? Proxima Centauri (talk) 13:11, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
The little animated smiley dude. "GIF" is the file extension name for those things, usually. Almost as annoying as argument by link farm. It's passive-aggressive and adds nothing of value to the discussion except to say "Hey! Pay attention to me!" OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 13:33, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
The logical fallacy I was talking about would be Argument from incredulity. --Weirdstuff (talk) 14:20, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
Except I wasn't making "an argument." I was expressing my own level of uncomfort at an idea, Read the exact words I wrote: " I have a hard time thinking of the bulk of humanity as victims of a charlatan." That's not a statement of fact about the world or the people in it. It's a statement of fact about my own subjective reaction to a claim. The merits of the claim are debatable,but that's separate issue, one that I'm really not interested in debating right now, altogether. OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 14:26, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
No. I am saying nothing of the sort. The "implication" exists only in your tiny mind, I'm afraid. I'll judge the claim on its own merits independently of how it makes me feel. OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 14:48, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
Getting upset is also something which exists in your mind. (I won't do the insults bit.) Your error is obvious and shouting about it doesn't make it go away.--Weirdstuff (talk) 14:56, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
I'll explain it. If someone can prove that Jesus, Muhammad, the early Christians etc, were knowingly deceiving their followers/committing fraud, I will accept the findings. That claim has not yet been proven, and I contest it on its face: but if somebody does manage to back up the claim, I will be sorely disappointed because of what that says about humanity. That disappointment will not stand in the way of my being able to evaluate the evidence that is presented to me, but, as a human being being forced to confront an ugly truth about my fellow humans, I won't be happy. I will accept the claim, but will not like to think about the implications of it once it has been proven. If you want to go off and prove the claim, go ahead. I don't think you can. OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 15:06, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
Now that I think about it some more I think that the argument: "Between them, most of the people alive on the globe right now buy into their ideas to one degree or another. I have a hard time thinking of the bulk of humanity as victims of a charlatan." also commits Argumentum ad populum.--Weirdstuff (talk) 15:10, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
This conversation would probably go better if you took the time to read my posts and respond to what I actually said. OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 15:28, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Goodpost.gif Here's that annoying GIF again. Please pay attention to me to Weirdstuff. edited to all The GIF ponts out that someone else is saying something valid. Proxima Centauri (talk) 14:45, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Are you 12 years old? OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 14:48, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
Well-meaning people get suckered all the time. We call such unfortunate events "elections". We have established Smith is a fraud (convicted in the state of New York). If the problem is that we can only guess at the motives of certain other persons, I say we can modify the article accordingly. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 14:32, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Who is a fraudster?[edit]

Having established Smith's fraud conviction, and it being plainly obvious Hubbard (Tax cheat) and Jones (Murderer) were criminals, we can only guess what the hell pre-modern prophets were thinking. We should include a link to The Satanic Verses, considering that particular book describes Mohammed behaving in a manner similar to Smith -writing self-serving passages when he needs them. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 14:44, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

You do understand what a "novel" is, don't you? OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 14:45, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
I am aware of what a novel is, and that Salman Rushdie Is not 1500 years old. My point being that it would help shed light on Smith's Methods. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 14:47, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
How? Just saying "here's this fiction book that bashes a religious dude, so compare it to this other religious dude" doesn't seem a valid argument.--Green mowse.pngGodotCalibrated! let the voting begin! 15:24, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
Because a man telling people he has secret knowledge that is revealed only to him should be treated with deep suspicion, and the only person I can think of who seriously points this out is a novelist. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 15:27, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
Do you know what sources Rushdie used to back up his scholarship? Oral histories/interviews with people who were there? Textual analyses of Muhammad's writings--maybe his journals/diaries? OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 15:30, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
"a man telling people he has sceret knowledge" so challenge it, LG. But using a fictionalized book that bashes religious leaders is hardly the way to do it. Again, you all are very into telling people they have been frauded, when you have no idea if there really is super sekreet knowledge they shared. The only respectable way to write things, is to lay out the inconsistencies, the lies, the shades of grey, the wafeling, along side any facts, and let people move forward on their own. It's not being less critical, but it is saying "you as a reader are a grown up. If you are religious, it's not my job to tell you that you are ignorant and stupid, you will or won't come to that on your own. it's my job to show you facts, give you arguments, and make you think!"--Green mowse.pngGodotCalibrated! let the voting begin! 15:34, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
Satanic Verses here on our own website. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 15:38, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
Fine, then we don't discuss The Satanic Verses here. Rather, "That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." Where are Smith's plates? --TheLateGatsby (talk) 15:41, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
As a sidenote, never read the comments on "The Book of Mormon" Soundtrack on YouTube. The number of people saying incredibly cruel things about Mormons while simultaneously failing to understand the same could be said of their own religion is staggering. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 15:47, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
That has always amused me to no end. "you believe in talking goddesses and that rocks are alive? really?" Well, yeah. and you believe your god used an angle to make a chick pregnant, and your lord is a Zombie who's flesh you eat and blood you ddrink (symbolically if you are protestant, but honest and for-trues if you are catholic). so you are a cannibal. Green mowse.pngGodotCalibrated! let the voting begin! 16:14, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Another case of fraudulence[edit]

I've been reading a book about Brigham Young, but it's got a little information about Joseph Smith, and it covers a Bank established in Nauvoo, where Smith, Young, and a few other early Mormons issued too many bank notes. Would this be pertinent to the article? TheLateGatsby (talk) 00:55, 29 December 2012 (UTC)


"Starting your own religion" -- does Jesus count? (Question for someone with some knowledge of the history of religion)[edit]

Is it accurate, historically speaking, to say that Jesus "started" Christianity as a distinct and new religion the same way that others have? It strikes me that we argue in the relevant article that "it is not clear whether Jesus was in fact a historical person." So he may not have existed, but here's this thing he did, even without existing. Is it not the case that Jesus's teachings took place within a Jewish theological setting, and weren't meant to be a total break from that (I really don't know, and would love to learn more about the context in which He preached...)? Would it not be more accurate to say that it was the people who came after Jesus who started Christianity as a distinct religion? OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 13:47, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Romans altering the Bible[edit]

Before I started working the text stated

This may be true given the fact that the texts of the Bible were agreed to be canonized by Roman officials two centuries after the original documents were written. It's possible that those Roman officials who practiced Roman paganism purposefully altered the original doctrines and teachings found in the Bible by omitting and adding certain passages to the original text. In this way, these authorized modifications of the Bible would incorporate certain Roman ideas to the Bible, which would be used to increase the scope of influence of Roman leaders by allowing those of different religions to accept certain Roman concepts. It's possible that the Bible was altered and Christianity adopted just for political purposes). [2]

I changed that to

This may be true since the texts of the Bible were agreed to be canonized by Roman Christians two centuries after the original documents were written. It's possible that those Roman Christians were influenced by the Roman paganism and altered the original doctrines and teachings found in the Bible by omitting and adding certain passages to the original text and incorporating certain Roman ideas into the Bible. [3]

I doubt if before Constantine Romans used Christianity to support the government. Experts on the Bible please check both texts. I also put the text into a footnote as readers of this article are probably are mostly interested in Joseph Smith rather than the Bible. Proxima Centauri (talk) 13:51, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Smith's Books[edit]

We should have information on all the books that form Mormon doctrine. We could just streamline it to "Book of Mormon" and "Other teachings". --TheLateGatsby (talk) 14:03, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

This section would also allow editors (like myself) to address Smith's credibility issues in a clear and coherent fashion. MormonWiki gives us a good source for the "official" version, but I'm not sure where to look for the "against" without mucking through some evangelical's conspiracy webshite. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 16:17, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
Sadly, it's not a well criticized religion, in the sense that it's just sorta "there". I think you will have to do your own reading/commentary on the books and the theology. --Green mowse.pngGodotCalibrated! let the voting begin! 16:36, 16 October 2012 (UTC) though this wiki p article is probably a start? --Green mowse.pngGodotCalibrated! let the voting begin! 16:36, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

"a lynch mob murdered him"/"he was murdered by a lynch mob."[edit]

The former is active voice; the latter is passive. The action is "murdered." The subject of that action is "a lynch mob." The object is "him." Subject verb object. OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 17:38, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Titles[edit]

Now I'm confused. Do we italicize the titles of Smith's books? --TheLateGatsby (talk) 17:33, 22 October 2012 (UTC)

I suppose so. Evil fascistoh noez 17:34, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
I should have been more clear. It's correct to italicize book titles, but books that are religious scripture are usually not Italicized to my understanding. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 17:41, 22 October 2012 (UTC)

Early 19th century knowledge of Egyptian[edit]

That Egyptian was an unknown language in Joseph Smith's day is not quite true. Champollion had deciphered the hieroglyphic script by 1822 and his preliminary grammar and dictionary of what became known as Middle Egyptian were published by 1841, before Smith was dead. This grammar was based on existing knowledge of Coptic, a late phase of Egyptian and a language into which the biblical gospels had been translated. As most initial study of Egyptian was by French, English, and German scholars, little material on it may have yet reached the young United States. But enough to second the present article's assertion that many American scholars would have recognized the Book of Abraham could not be an Egyptian text.

Of course Mormons are well aware of the discrepancy. They hold the Book of Abraham both as scriptural and as possessing historicity, stating that although Smith's translation doesn't correspond to the hieroglyphic on the papyrus fragments involved, Smith had nonetheless received divine knowledge about Abraham's life in connection with his translation activities. An LDS view on this topic is at

LDS Church source: https://www.lds.org/topics/translation-and-historicity-of-the-book-of-abraham?lang=eng

In general, refutation of doctrine seems to little affect the success of religious movements, which have no trouble accommodating the new information within their belief systems.

Regards, Jessegalebaker (talk) 21:53, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Smith not a convicted conman[edit]

First, let me play devil's advocate and quote Christopher Hitchens, who is no Mormon sympathizer:

'In March 1826 a court in Bainbridge, New York, convicted a twenty-one-year-old man of being "a disorderly person and an impostor." That ought to have been all we ever heard of Joseph Smith, who at trial admitted to defrauding citizens by organizing mad gold-digging expeditions and also to claiming to possess dark or "necromantic" powers.'

However, Hitchens is having a bit of fun (these are half-truths). From what I gather about this wiki, it has a higher purpose than that. And, Smith was not in fact actually a convicted conman. I think there ought to be enough to discuss, here, with the guy starting a religious movement, and all these people being religious nuts. The Book of Mormon and other scriptures, etc. Lots of material, very much something for RationalWiki. However, there's lots of scholarly work on early Mormon history -- do we abandon this article to the cranks?

That supposed conviction mentioned above is very disputed, -- to put it generously. Apparently, Smith was arrested, and appeared before a justice of the peace, but was not sworn in for testimony, did not have a lawyer, there was, indeed, apparently no trial per se, but only a preliminary hearing, and note that there was no sentence. Also note, that a lawyer might quibble about matters like whether we are talking about a felony or a misdemeanor or what. The accusation, along with who made it, is in fact a matter of historical dispute. Being convicted of fraud or being a conman might come with a punishment -- might even get six months jail, I don't know. Smith walked, right out of there. He was discharged w/no record. There are a few accounts of what happened, a few documents, but we're talking about some minor thing that happened long ago when Smith was 20 years old. He got arrested lots of times after that, spent a winter in jail where he nearly got killed because the order to execute him had been given (but was refused as an unlawful order by the designated executioner, because he hadn't even been charged w/anything), and then of course was ultimately killed in jail (awaiting trial for juicy accusations like treason). He had his legal problems, then. But do we really need to fabricate more? — Unsigned, by: 71.137.241.63 / talk / contribs

Good point. Edited to remove this phrase. Doxys Midnight Runner (talk) 13:30, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Curious omissions in life story[edit]

The article starts as a biography but seems to stop some time before the foundation of Mormonism: there is a section on his early life then it describes the various Mormon texts and skips forward to his death. Surely it should cover his revelation of the alleged truths of Mormon, his actions in the Church, and his later life in general. It's like an article on Moses which skips from Moses' childhood at the Pharoah's court to his death in the wilderness. The article Mormonism doesn't cover the church's history either. I'm aware I could write it myself, but maybe somebody with more knowledge could do something. --Annanoon (talk) 13:52, 2 August 2019 (UTC)