tompaine wrote: Most of this thread is old and there are too many posts, but I must say as a skeptic that it is most amusing and conducive to further skepticism to watch two true believers debate. That both sides have very legitimate arguments that the other side dismisses by employing outrageous double standards is very obvious to the skeptic and hilarious to watch.
For example the persecution of the early church is often cited as strong evidence for the truth of it's claims because surely people wouldn't invent stories and then die for them. However Joseph Smith died without recanting his claims, and there is no solid evidence of any of the other witnesses recanting even though many left the church and had no reason not to recant, and many other Mormons died and were persecuted for their faith.
The historical evidence for Mormonism then is every bit is good and a good bit better than the historical evidence for Christianity for we have the first hand testimony of witnesses in original manuscripts that are less than 200 years old, plus people who died and faced persecution for their claims and/ or faith in the claims.What believers in these revealed faiths seem to be missing IMO is just how unreliable human testimony is, how much people like to make up and invent stories, how people are much more likely to pay attention to and repeat stories that are fantastic over those that are mundane, etc.
Take a look at something that happened as recently as 9/11/2001, and see all the fantastic stories and theories that have risen up around the events even though they happened less than a decade ago and are documented in ways that were unimaginable two hundred, let a lone two thousand years ago. Is there any doubt that if there were no sound and video recording or the means to record and distribute eyewitness accounts around the world in seconds and if people were as prone to superstition and magical thinking as they were in the past that there would be even far more fantastic stories and rumors circulating about the events.
I think there can be no doubt about that, just as I think there can be no doubt that no magical events or divine intervention is needed to explain the origins of the gospel stories or the willingness of people to die for them if truly believed. Certainly, there is no more reason to believe them than to believe the testimony of those who testified to the origins of the Book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith didn't die as a martyr, he died in a gun fight after wounding people.
There is very solid evidence that several of the first LDS apostles recanted and left the LDS church.
Joseph Smith was in a room full of his friends and his brother, and they were all surrounded, being shot at, and obviously in danger. I wouldn't say that the fact that he emptied the only weapon available to him makes him not a martyr.
Arthur42 wrote: He was locked up in a prison and a mob surrounded it and was storming up the stairs, shooting everyone they could. All Joseph had was a small pepper-box that was incapable of killing anyone - and it didn't. Hardly a wild west gunfight at all. I am willing to accept Peter, for instance, would go to his death peacefully. But when one of his friends was in danger, he attacked and smote off a man's ear. Your objection is inane.