Untrustworthy Testimonies and the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon

The concept of testimony and spiritual witnesses comes under fire by the Mormon CES Letter. The idea that there are truths that can be known by spiritual means is a fundamental belief among Mormons and most other religious people. The CES Letter says that feelings are the manifestation of a spiritual witness and feelings cannot always be trusted. Essentially it is foolish to believe something based on feelings or revelation–knowledge comes from science and common sense.  

The CES Letter also critiques the witnesses of the Book of Mormon. One, often cited truth among Mormons, is that none of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon ever denied their testimonies. The CES Letter claims that this fact is irrelevant to the issue of the Book of Mormon. The LDS CES Letter says that the witnesses were unreliable, were tainted by their nineteenth-century magical worldview, and never actually saw the plates. These arguments by the CES Letter are supported by second and third-hand accounts. 

The next section of the CES Letter is about science. The letter asserts that science contradicts Mormon revelation and that it is foolish to believe in Mormonism over science. In particular, the CES Letter states that Adam and Eve aren’t our first parents, as there were many hominid species, prior to Adam and Eve, that evolved into homo sapiens. The CES Letter also claims that science has disproven such biblical events as the Tower of Babel, and the flood. Interestingly, this section does not account for the basic assumption of both science and Mormon doctrine, that the quest for truth is ongoing. The scientific method is based on the idea that science doesn’t know everything yet. As a principle, revelation is only necessary because individuals, leaders, and the Mormon Church are all still seeking answers to their questions.