Is There Scientific Proof Authenticating the Book of Mormon?

In a recent sitdown with some Mormon missionaries, I was asked to read Moroni 10 from the Book of Mormon. In verses 3-5, it says:
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
They asked me what that meant to me.  So, to answer, I used the example of the Christian Bible.

I said that man, made in God's image, has reason and recognizes the rational order and logic to the workings of the universe, which means that God is reasonable, rational, and logical.  Men are also sinful, and some have  attacked and in turn believe in the attacks on Scripture.   So, I shared anecdotal evidence of those who testify that they once disbelieved the Bible, but after a genuine prayer to God followed by some heavy homework, the Holy Spirit revealed it as truth and they came to both believe and trust it.

With that as a preface, I explained how I would take those verses from Moroni.  Having accepted the Bible myself, I would reflect upon it and the things that God has done in my life.  I would need to pray to God to reveal if the Book of Mormon was true.  I would then begin to study it, comparing its claims of origin against archeological findings and the like.  I would also study its "discoverer," to see if what Joseph Smith claimed meshes with the historical record.  Of course, scientists are fallible and no reasonable person expects there to be 100% verification of these things, but God will show me enough internal and external evidence to cause my soul to scream, "This, too, is the Word of God!"

Very politely, I was informed that I was mistaken.

Here is Elder M. Russell Ballard, one of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS church, to explain:

There is quite a difference between what he said and what I said above.  It is indeed only by the Holy Spirit that "religious truth" is revealed, which is why it is vital to engage in prayer if one wants to know if something is the Word of God. I know Jesus Christ existed and understood His claims because I have been convinced by scriptural and historical evidence, but He is my Lord and Savior by His grace that is imparted to me by the Holy Spirit.  See the difference?

However, if every means of knowing any and all truth that God has given man says that something is a fabrication, a hoax, then men are left to question if any spiritual feeling was a genuine movement of the Holy Spirit. 

For instance: If there were no evidence that Israel existed prior to a couple millenia ago, and if there were zero evidence for any of the civilizations mentioned in the Old Testament, and if the evidence for the New Testament was limited to a Middle Ages and the internal structure was self-contradictory, and the church was very hush-hush about proofs, only patting people on the head who had questions... well then, I would have to doubt whatever subjective feelings or impressions that I have had about the Bible and Christianity as a whole.

Thankfully, though, the Christian faith is not a blind one.  

So, in all honesty, does the LDS really want the only evidence of their claims to be a burning sensation?

Monday, I will post that will contrast the Bible's claims to the Book of Mormon's claims.  Stay tuned.

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