Sorry, I really can’t. But I know someone who can. The Holy Ghost. AKA: the Holy Spirit. And really, this is the only way we can know. Ask God, expect an answer. It really doesn’t get any simpler than this.
I say this because I recently read a post by a self-titled “traditional Christian.” Though claiming not to attempt to prove the Book of Mormon false, he stated that because archaeology can’t back up the Book of Mormon, it cannot be true. For example, though there is no proof of Christ, there is proof of the New Testament world. There were Jews and Romans, Sadducees and the Pharisees in the right area in the right time. By comparison, there is no sign reading “Now Entering Zarahimla” anywhere yet found in the New World. “Traditional Christians,” he claimed, use the Bible and science backs it up – this, to him, is one of the differences in our branches of Christianity.
To begin with, I disagree with this idea on what makes one a “traditional” Christian. Christians, traditional or otherwise, realize that our “faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2: 5). And, that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11: 1). We, as Christians, HAVE the truth – we do not go looking for it. We are those that sought and have found. We need no man-made evidence, as God is our witness. Thus, these “proofs” others seek are for those that do not know God.
A non-Christian outsider could see this argument and draw the conclusion, that resting on science, traditional Christians do not know God. Yet, I would argue that this is not true and is not what makes one a “traditional” Christian nor even one of the differences between Catholics, Protestants and Restorationalists (Mormons). To be a Christian is to Know God, not to have historical proof. Thus I would argue that it is our similarities that make us all Christians and these should be celebrated, rather than seeking differences to bring in contention.
That said, the problem with the archaeology argument is two fold. The fist issue is that it cannot be proven beyond what we currently know. To be blunt, if a college professor working on an archaeology dig in Central America and dug up some metal plates written in Hebrew or Egyptian, it would not convince me that the Book of Mormon is true as a historical record or otherwise, and I’m an LDS Christian. Yes, a lot of Mormons would start throwing this news in people’s faces, but the fact would remain that it could all still be a coincidence. Look at the number of times Bible “archaeologists” have “found” Sodom and Gomorrah. None have really been proven to be the mythical cities, yet we still believe the story is true, if embellished.
The other problem is that the Book of Mormon, just like the Bible, wasn’t written or translated to be a historical narrative. If it were, there would be maps, landmarks, etc that we could use. It would have came with pottery and other proofs. We don’t even have the gold plates anymore, just like we don’t have the original manuscripts that made up the Bible.
The real question readers of the Book of Mormon should ask is, does it live up to it’s goal? The Book of Mormon is true by being what it claims to be – a book written and translated for “the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” It never claims to be a perfect historical account. Does it testify of Jesus Christ?
If everyone (and it has to be everyone “for all men have not faith” – 2 Thessalonians 3: 2) that read the book put it down and said, “Jesus never lived, he is a myth.” Then the Book of Mormon would be a failure it would not be “true,” as we Mormons say. The point of the book is to convert the Jew and the Gentile to the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, Son of God. That he came to Earth and died for our sins. That he, Christ, is the way, the truth, and the light – the ONLY path back to God. It is Christ’s grace that save us. Anyone that reads the Book of Mormon and immediately denies that Jesus is the Christ, may write an article about the book’s failure for them and only them. However, if one reads it and still or begins to believe in Jesus Christ, then it has accomplished the goal God intended it to be used for.
This idea that the Book of Mormon can be used as a historical recorded, I think, comes from this idea that the Book of Mormon is the one that it is a perfect book or a perfect translation. That is just silly, and may very well be the greatest myth about the book help by believers and nonbelievers alike. There is no such thing here on Earth as a perfect book. Divinely written and translated, sure – but so is the Bible.
Let’s face it, the Bible isn’t perfect either. All scriptures are only as perfect as their writers, copyists and translators.How many “lost scriptures” have we found in the Middle East? At what point have we used them to replace or correct our current Bible? We don’t, even if the books we find are older than the ones we use currently. It preaches of Christ, God tells us it is true, we are all happy with it – even if it isn’t perfect.
The Book of Mormon is the same. The small plates are Nephi looking back, the large plates are people writing down what they “felt” was important. Then one guy – Mormon -re-writes all of the large plates through his own eyes, the final part being a combination the written by himself – his story – and his son, Moroni re-writing Either and giving us his own thoughts. Then, Joseph Smith Jr. Translates it and of course his human frailties will be evident in the writing. True, we don’t have other lost records to fall back on, but would we uses them if we did? Likely just as much as we use the ones found in the Middle East.
The reality is that Smith was bound to put his own perspective into the translation as much as Mormon and Moroni put their own world view into their writings, and just as mush as the writers and translators did with the books in the Bible. Some would argue less in the Book of Mormon, but I think this unfair. Why do you think the book is full of wars? Because Mormon and his son were warriors. Why is there so much about God’s threats to destroy the Nephites if they were wicked? Because that is what Mormon and Moroni both lived through. The same is true of the New Testament writers. Why did God flood the whole Earth? Because the writers didn’t know there were other continents.
My favorite example of Smith’s poor translation skills is the words “captain” and “king” in the book of Mormon. Sure, Smith knew that all Nephite leaders were called Nephi, but he didn’t know this was an Egyptian word that means captain. Smith kept calling Nephite leaders “king” in the book of Mosiah (and likely in the book of Lehi as well) and he called Captain Moroni “Captian Moroni” and the Kingsmen “Kingsmen” when in fact it should have read Nephi Moroni vs the Kingsmen. This would have had a greater effect as to the type of man this Moroni was, one that was a true Nephite leader, vs those trying to make a king. It would have also been Nephi Mosiah, Nephi Benjamin, etc.
Are there things in the book Smith didn’t know about? Yes. You can map Nephi’s journey pretty well through the Middle East (not all of it, but too many to be coincidence) even though Smith didn’t have a map of the area. There are also odd lineups with ancient people in central America and people in the Book of Mormon, though very imperfect. Yet these do not prove anything.
The fat of the matter is that if the Book of Mormon isn’t true because of archaeology, then neither is the Bible. Pretending otherwise is a double standard. Archaeology can’t back up Adam, Moses, Kings Saul, David, Solomon – not even Jesus Christ (though the Book of Mormon DOES back up the Bible on the divinity of Jesus). Thus any argument against one book of scripture using archaeology is an attack on ALL books of scripture, as none can be proven true by man.
Thankfully, we don’t need archaeologist to tell us the scriptures are true because the Holy Ghost can.
Man cannot prove the scriptures true. Not the Bible, not the Book of Mormon. That is why we are blessed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Without him, we would be blind that the scriptures would be mostly worthless. Look to the Lord for truth and you will find it. Look to man and be deceived.