But I have a second question. I’ve read a number of Mormon books: The Pearl of Great Price, The Book of Moses, and The Book of Abraham, which the Mormons claim to be divine revelation.
However, Egyptologists – people who can read hieroglyphics in Britain and America and as well as in France have looked at this book which Joseph Smith claimed he was given wisdom how to translate. So we have Joseph Smith's translation of it, but we also have the original of it which he acquired somehow. (There are different stories as to how.) Every Egyptologist who has read it says it is an ancient funeral rite and has nothing whatsoever vaguely resembling Joseph Smith's translation of it.
I can read Greek well enough to tell which translations of the New Testament are accurate and which ones are not so accurate. I can read Hebrew well enough to tell which translations of the Old Testament are accurate and which ones are inaccurate. I can read Spanish well enough to tell which translation of the El Cid or Don Quixote are accurate and which one isn’t. I can read French well enough to tell which translations or Voltaire’s Candide are good and which ones aren't. I’m not a linguist, I’m not a language expert, but I can speak a few languages and read a few languages, and I can tell what's accurate; at least basically accurate, and what isn’t. Some languages I do better than others, but these are Egyptologists. These are people who don't make mistakes. The most they would have are discrepancies in professional opinion, but they would still agree on one thing: Joseph Smith’s mistranslation is completely bogus; it's about a funeral rite. How can you believe it? But more to the point, how can you expect others to believe it?
Whenever I have shown this to Mormons they could not really respond except with their testimony because Mormons have said their testimony is supposed to be irrefutable, words to the effect that quote/unquote, “You have a burning in your bosom and you testified to me that the Church of Latter-day Saints is true”. Does the burning in your bosom testify to you that a funeral rite is what Joseph Smith mistranslated it as? Does the burning in your bosom really testify to you that the microbiologists are wrong including your own? It's a fair question.
You know, you can find Islamic terrorists who will commit suicide in what they call a “Jihad”. We can argue with them saying it's not rational. They can give you a subjective argument, “I believe it is”. I once saw a Buddhist monk on television in Saigon pour kerosene on his head and light a match. He was about the most sincere man I ever saw in my life. You can be sincere and be sincerely wrong. Other religions would say the same thing, they have a burning in their bosom and they testify to you that the Tibetan Book of the Dead is true, or the Bhagavad-Gita is true, or the Quran is true, but does that make it true because someone claims to have a burning in their bosom, or indeed may have a burning in their bosom? I don't believe someone would immolate themselves if they did not have a burning in their bosom.
When I was in Manti, Utah I saw people from the Church of Latter-day Saints all wearing T-shirts and sweatshirts. Printed on these shirts was the following statement: “Brigham Young said it, I believe it, that settles it,” So because he said it, you believe it, and that settles it. So I decided to see what it was he said that they believe and the matter is settled.
I was reading through The Journal of Discourses of Brigham Young. One of the most interesting things I found were in volume 17 of The Journal of Discourses of Brigham Young, where Joseph Smith is cited as having said there were Quakers who lived on the moon. They dressed like Quakers and lived to be 1,000 years old. Brigham Young not only affirmed this, but said that there are such people also residing on the Sun. You people are not stupid or uneducated, deal with the issue. Brigham Young said it? You believe it? That settles it? Do you really believe there’s Quakers living on the moon? Do you really believe there are people just like Quakers who live to be 1,000 years old who reside on the Sun? He said it, do you believe it? Does that really settle it? That’s my question, do you really believe that and do you really expect me to believe that?
Personally I find it very, very difficult to believe that there are people living on the Sun dressed like Quakers living to be 1,000 years old. Please tell me why I should believe it. Many of you people are educated, you’ve been to Brigham Young University, some of you have postgraduate educations, you seem clean-cut, nice, honest people – if you are, that is my question. How can you believe it and how can you expect me to believe it? I'm not mocking you, I'm not mocking your religion, I simply am wanting to know about its credibility, its believability.
Now don't get me wrong. If there’s really Quakers on the moon I will want to believe it, but I don't think there is. Your religion says because Brigham Young said there is there must be and that settles it. Well it settles it for you, but if it settles it for you can you show me why it should be settled for me? Do you really believe it and do you really think it is plausible for other people to believe it? It’s an honest question in The Journal of Discourses.