It is funny what things Anti-Mormons claim they "know" and can "prove". I will list two examples for illustration purposes. I could literally list hundreds of supposed "facts" which have been presented to me over the years, but I think two will illustrate adequately the need for caution when dealing with even supposed "scholars" among the anti-Mormon polemicists.
Recently a critic charged on this Blog that Joseph Smith (JS) had lifted the name "Cumorah" from a group of Indian Ocean islands. He also asserted that JS had actually spelled it Comora in the 1830 edition of the BoM in Mormon.
I have a photo-copy and electronic copy of the 1830 edition of the BoM. He was wrong, and I pointed it out. This person responded with the following :
""In the original BoM published edition, it is not Comora, it is Camorah."
It was spelled Comora, Bob."
So then I provided a link to the manuscript and the 1830 text as found on an anti-Mormon website. Then I asked him to at least admit he was wrong, since he had made such a big issue of it. His response was:
"You take that original copy of the BoM, that you say you have, and compare it to the official BoM today. You will see both minor and major changes, deletions, additions, etc. This doesn't bother you?...I mean, this is absurd! Your belief in this book is insane. I'm sorry."
Oh, well that is good. Nice apology for getting the facts wrong. Way to man up, whatever. But the point is this was supposed to be killer-evidence that JS was a fraud. So then a guy name Nathan tries to come to his rescue with the following:
"On the Comora/Camorah point, you are both right and you are both wrong. This debate is nothing new. It was spelled Camorah in the 1830 edition of the BoM, so Bob is right on that, but David is also right that Joseph Smith lifted the name, along with Moroni, from the Comoros Islands because in the 1800s, the island chain was spelled Camora. The fact that Joseph Smith got the names from these islands is what David was trying to point out."
Well, again, we have so many assertions being substituted for facts. Bald assertion that JS "lifted the name". Really? You can prove that? Well, later he says no. Further, the maps where JS would have found the info were not found in North America, let alone Palmyra. And no one in Palmyra recalls the name Moroni or Cumorah, which are not exactly common names and would seem to be somewhat memorable, you think? But no students, teachers, neighbors, pastors or regional scholars chime in about these names.
So then we get a lady telling us that because JS is alleged to be a big fan of Captain Kidd and his treasure, he surely would know of Comoros, which is just like Cumorah, since Kidd went to the island while sailing. However, even LDS critic Ron Huggins acknowledges in his footnotes that an encyclopedia of pirates, though not available in Palmyra no doubt quite popular throughout the rest of frontier America, that out of dozens of citations of locations around the Comoros Island in material on Captain Kidd cited in the book, only once is Comoros ever even mentioned. But you better read the footnote, or else you will think Comoros actually is mentioned regularly. It wasn't. And we still have no evidence that JS ever encountered any book even mentioning it once.
So while they "know" JS copied this, they cannot "prove" any of it. Not in a courtroom sense, for sure, but not even in a reasonable sense of two folks talking. To go from Comoros to Cumorah is not completely impossible, if JS had known. But he didn't. The maps, the stories, the texts all require JS to go places and find people no one who was alive in 1820-1845 ever asserted happened.
This is called "presentism". Assuming everything you know today was known by people in the past. It is a serious logical fallacy. But when it supports your views, people dive into it all the time.
So much for knowing where Cumorah came from.
Fawn Brodie has a great thing she "knew" for sure. It had to do with JS having an overactive libido, and fathering children. Now, I have no doubt from the testimony of some of the wives of Joseph Smith that he had engaged in normal "husband-wife" relations with some of the women. I also think it is obvious from the record this was not typical. Certainly not with the youngest teenage wives, based on the testimony and circumstances of the marriages.
However, Fawn Brodie asserted that there was no doubt, based on photographic evidence, that JS was the father of Oliver Norman Buell.
No doubt, that is, except for the genetic tests which have proven it was impossible. Zero percent chance of JS being the genetic father of Buell.
In fact, out of the "giant" list of children asserted to potentially have been fathered by JS, (That is a bit of sarcasm, as the list is only 8 children. He had more with Emma alone than all of these asserted sexual hook-ups.), none have so far been proven to be JS offspring, though several have been scratched from the list. Josephine Lyons, who has the best "story" saying she was his child, is complicated because female-male genetic testing is tricky. But Ugo Prego, a geneticist at the Sorenson Genetics labs says we should have an answer in the next few years on that, as he has collected samples of 120 of her descendants.
In any case, Brodie also asserted that Moroni Pratt was JS child.
Wrong again. Genetically proven to be not related.
It must be great to know so many things which are simply not true.
So the next time you see some "scholarly" critic attack the foundational stories of Mormonism, remember they usually contain more guess than fact, and require huge doses of faith in their guesses.