I was raised by two parents who loved science. My father was a biology teacher. He was a favorite at the high school, with lots of silly and whacky exercises that helped the students remember the material. I recall one phone call from a Yale university student who called to thank my dad for his help passing his Yale biology exams. He said that he just had to think back on the play they performed in his high school class when the students acted out the various parts of cellular mitosis. My father did try his hand at teaching college classes as well, but he said it wasn’t as much fun. He claimed he would try to crack a biology joke, but the college students would respond by dutifully writing it into their notes as if it were fact.

My mother was also a teacher. She taught grade school, and then later middle school. Her favorite magazine was Scientific American. Each month, she would read the magazine from cover to cover. She would read every single article. Then she would want to discuss it. Imagine my groan and eye roll as a 13 year old when she would start reading the latest article to me and state how it would change everything. Even as she moved into her 80s, she still read it. When I visited, she would want to talk about dark matter, gene splicing, or some other current science issue. She would also read to us as kids when we went on road trips to the coast, or over to Utah. We live in California. She wouldn’t read novels. No, she would read the latest psychology book, or book on mind science.

I believe every student should study science even if they have no plans to go into it. Science teaches us to ask questions. Asking questions is good. Asking questions is important. Science also teaches us how to evaluate evidence. Understanding how to evaluate evidence is very good, and very important.

How Does Science Relate To My Faith?

It was this questioning attitude that led me into FAIR. For the past 24 years, I have been responding to questions people have about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, it started much earlier than that. My mother shared the anti-Mormon book Mormonism Unveiled with me when I was 14. I still have that book. It has notes in the margins that she wrote when she was in high school. It wasn’t my only anti-Mormon book, as I read many more of them all through high school and college. As I read these books, I would follow the footnotes. I would examine the sources and the evidence, just like I was taught.

We belong to a church with “treasure diggers,” visiting angels, “vanishing gold plates,” a resurrected being, and unpopular social ideas. There are many books and videos showing how deceived, duped, or even stupid we must be for believing this stuff. This doesn’t even get into the no coffee, no tea, no wine or beer, and paying a tithe.

Our church sounds pretty unscientific and pretty unbelievable.

So, why do I believe?

It goes back to the basic question. What if it’s true?

What if there really was a Jesus Christ, who was resurrected, and a treasure-digging Joseph Smith who was visited by angels, and translated the gold plates? That changes everything!

Dismissing Whatever Sounds Crazy

Too many people dismiss concepts because they sound crazy. If we dismiss everything because it sounds crazy, we can forget about cell mitosis, the Krebs cycles, photosynthesis, Jupiter and Saturn protecting the earth from asteroids, a heliocentric solar system, dark matter, quantum physics, and many other impossible, yet beautiful things.

“Those things have evidence!” you say. “They have already been proven,” you say. It is true there is evidence for each of the above listed items now, but, that hasn’t always been the case.

Evaluating the Evidence

Evaluating evidence is never perfect. Additionally we can’t use the scientific method to prove everything. For example, we can’t use the scientific method to prove the existence of God. As my father used to say, “You start with a control universe where there is no God, and then compare it with your universe where there is a God and look for the differences.” Yeah, that doesn’t work.

But we can still use techniques learned in science to evaluate evidence.[1]

There is evidence of the restoration of the Gospel that must be evaluated. There are doctrinal and historical comparison with other ancient scripture and writings, teachings that are supported by the early Christian Fathers, as well as changes people make in their lives.

However, the tangible centerpiece of the restoration is the Book of Mormon. I have repeatedly been told that there is no evidence for the Book of Mormon. But that isn’t a true statement.  There are many books and scholarly articles discussing the evidence. On the other side of things, there is evidence on the Internet showing alleged contradictions and anachronisms in the Book of Mormon. But, most of that evidence is old, outdated, and typically it has been debunked. Just look at the FAIR Website. We have 8,000 pages debunking many of these claims. Some Internet claims even came from my very old book Mormonism Unveiled that because of its debunkable (is that a word?) false narratives, my mother willingly showing me when I was 14 years oldMuch more evidence has been found that confirms the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon that seems to be frequently glossed over on Internet Websites.

Book of Mormon Evidence

In discussing Book of Mormon evidence, I can understand how it is that someone might not believe it. Truly, I get it. There remain some anachronisms, and the origin story sounds crazy! You can almost put it in the camp of a 15 year old boy being bit by a radioactive spider and turning into Spiderman. However, when you look at all of the evidence that has come to light in the past 20 years, it makes The Book of Mormon difficult, if not impossible to dismiss out of hand. Dr. Daniel Peterson, professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University and founder of the university’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, reaffirms this idea in his FAIR talk The Logic Tree of Life, or, Why I Can’t Manage to Disbelieve.

For example, the Book of Mormon word, “Rameumptom,” can be translated into Hebrew as “a high stand.”[2]   Remember, the Book of Mormon identifies it as “a place of standing which was high above the head” (Alma 31:13). Note the consistency of word usage as the first part of the word, Ram is also used to identify another high place, the hill “Ramah,” where the plates were hidden. That hill is later called the hill Cumorah, which also has meaning in Hebrew.[3]

The word Jershon comes from the Hebrew word “yrs,” meaning, “To inherit,” with the ending “on” meaning place. This works as a word play in Alma 27:22, 32, and 35:14 where the people of Anti-Nephi Lehi receive Jershon as a place of their inheritance.[4]

Even more convincing we have the detailed description of Lehi traveling the Spice Trail[5] and the place called Nahom.[6] In the text there are Chiasms[7], Psalms[8], units of money[9], word play with the name Zeezrom the bribe giver, (an ezrom is a unit of money), colophons,[10]  conjunctions,[11] and conditionals,[12] plurals[13], Egyptian names[14] and more[15]. You can see many of these evidences at Category:Book of Mormon – FAIR (fairlatterdaysaints.org).

There are simply too many to easily list. Granted, some evidences are stronger than others. But, how would Joseph Smith know, in Jacob 5, that olive trees were often grown in vineyards in ancient times?[16] Olives are grown in Texas and California, not upstate New York where he lived. I’m sure many people have thought he was a dummy for saying that olives are grown in vineyards and not in orchards. Now we know he was right. In addition, what about the witnesses? Their testimony can not easily be dismissed, although many have tried.

Scholars study the Book of Mormon and learn new things. They write papers and books. By scholars, I mean archeologists, anthropologists, ancient history faculty, Bible scholars, near eastern studies faculty, Egyptologists, members of the Church, as well as some non-members. They don’t dismiss it just because the origin story sounds weird.

What Does this Have To Do With Easter?

So, what does all of this have to do with this week’s Come Follow Me Lesson on Easter? If the Book of Mormon is true, this brings us to what I believe is the most life changing statement in all of scripture. On February 16, 1832, in the home of Elsa and John Johnson in Hiram Ohio, 31 miles south of Kirtland, Ohio, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were in an upstairs room pondering the significance of a passage on the resurrection found in John 5:29. There were at least 12 other men in the room with them. Suddenly the heavens were opened to them. They write about it in D&C 76:19 – 24:

And while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about. And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness; And saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever. And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.

Reflecting on this marvelous event, in 1844 Sidney Rigdon declared in a Church conference, “I know God, I have gazed upon the glory of God, the throne, the visions, and glories of God.[17]

What of the other 12 men in the room? Admittedly, they did not see the same vision, but they knew it was happening and they felt it.

In the book Revelations in Context, Matthew McBride writes:

“’Not a sound nor motion [was] made by anyone but Joseph and Sidney,’ recalled Philo Dibble, one of those present. ‘I saw the glory and felt the power, but did not see the vision’” [18]

This was not a singular event, however. It happened again on Easter Sunday, April 3, 1836; this particular Easter was special because the Jewish community was also celebrating Passover on this day.[19] It is very rare to have Passover on an Easter Sunday. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were by the pulpit in the Kirtland Temple in Kirtland Ohio. The heavy curtains had been lowered, which divided the single large room into multiple smaller rooms. As they prayed, a vision opened up to them. In D& C 110: 1 -5 we read:

The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father. Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice.

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery saw Jesus Christ that day in 1836. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw Jesus Christ at the Johnson farm in 1832. This wasn’t just one guy who claimed he saw God. These were shared visions.

As we read the New Testament, we learn of a Jesus Christ of 2000 years ago. Many dismiss it as a fable. When we read the Book of Mormon, it becomes a second witness to Jesus Christ. With the Book of Mormon, we know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. He could not have written it. Could you write a book that would hold up to scrutiny by multiple scholars for over 190 years, where claims against it are slowly debunked and evidences for it continue to stack up? But, as we read these modern writings from of Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery, we have a modern witness that Jesus lives. This is not just writings from 2000 years ago.

The most important point of the restoration is that Jesus lives! Multiple people saw him! Just like multiple people saw the Gold plates from which the Book of Mormon came, these witnesses also never denied seeing Jesus Christ. They reaffirmed it, even when it was to their advantage to deny it.

This is evidence that Jesus Christ lives today. He died for my sins. He sanctifies me. He has redeemed my soul. The atonement is real. There is life after death.

With this in mind, I can confidently repeat the words of 2 Nephi 25:26:

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

It may seem odd that I started an Easter article talking about science. But for me it is all connected. Believing in Jesus Christ is simply going with the evidence. Based on the evidence, I must believe in Jesus Christ. Confirming my evidence from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and statements of witnesses, I have felt the power and influence of the Holy Ghost. I have witnessed people transform their lives through the Gospel. I know that Jesus lives. It would be unscientific to say otherwise.

More Come, Follow Me resources here.

[1] A good list for evaluating evidence can be found here: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/olemiss-writ250/chapter/evaluating-evidence/

[2] RAMEUMPTOM – Book of Mormon Onomasticon (byu.edu)

[3] CUMORAH – Book of Mormon Onomasticon (byu.edu)

[4] JERSHON – Book of Mormon Onomasticon (byu.edu)

[5] Category:Arabia/Spice route – FAIR (fairlatterdaysaints.org)

[6] Category:Nahom – FAIR (fairlatterdaysaints.org)

[7] Book of Mormon/Evidences/Hebraisms/Chiasmus – FAIR (fairlatterdaysaints.org)

[8] Source:Rediscovering the Book of Mormon:Ch:10:2:Poetry:Psalm of Nephi – FAIR (fairlatterdaysaints.org)

[9] Category:Book of Mormon/Coins – FAIR (fairlatterdaysaints.org)

[10] Category:Book of Mormon/Anthropology/Language/Hebraisms/Colophons – FAIR (fairlatterdaysaints.org)

[11] Category:Book of Mormon/Anthropology/Language/Hebraisms/Conjunctions – FAIR (fairlatterdaysaints.org)

[12]Category:Book of Mormon/Anthropology/Language/Hebraisms/Conditionals – FAIR (fairlatterdaysaints.org)


[14] Category:Gidgiddonah – FAIR (fairlatterdaysaints.org)

[15] I picked this list off the top of my head. They are not in order of importance and you may find other evidences even more convincing.

[16] Why Are Olive Trees Planted Around Vineyards? (sfgate.com)

[17] Times and Seasons 5 (May 1, 1844): 522-26; Joseph Smith Jr. et al., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2d ed. Rev., 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971), 6:290

[18] McBride, Matthew, Revelations in Context, page 212 quoting Philo Dibble, “Recollections of the prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor, vol. 27 no. 10 (May 15, 1892), 303-

[19] https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1985/07/the-restoration-of-priesthood-keys-on-easter-1836-part-2-symbolism-of-passover-and-of-elijahs-return?lang=eng


Scott Gordon serves as President of FAIR, a non-profit corporation staffed by volunteers dedicated to helping members deal with issues raised by critics of the Latter-day Saint faith. He has an MBA from Brigham Young University, and a BA in Organizational Communications from Brigham Young University. He is currently an instructor of business and technology at Shasta College in Redding, California. Scott has held many positions in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints including serving as a bishop for six years. He is married and has five children.

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