As a recently returned missionary and Uber TBM, I was heavily involved in the LDS Institute of Religion as the chairman of one of the student run committees. My committee was called the Sacrament Meeting Committee or something like that. The group was designed to give LDSSA students the opportunity to speak in local congregations. My committee would provide a pre-packaged Mc-program filled with beautiful music and well rehearsed talks that we would regurgitate each week at different wards. This was back in the day when you could actually sing music NOT found in the Mormon Hymnal so the program was always well received and a welcome break from the traditional sacrament meeting fare.
During one particular sacrament meeting my group was surprised to find that General Authority H. Burke Peterson would also be on the stand with us. Wow, a General Authority would sit and witness our program... I’m sure that each student felt a special glow just knowing that we were in the presence of one of the Lord’s anointed, I know I was.
I was one of the main speakers. I remember my talk well even to this day, it was titled “Modern Day Evidences of the Book of Mormon”. During my talk I would give so-called fact after fact of recently discovered modern day proofs that supported the claims made in the Book of Mormon. I would go on and on with Central American archeological evidence and discussed all of the linguistic, plant and animal evidence that had recently been discovered that supported the claims made in the Book of Mormon.
I remember giving particular focus on horses and wheels. It was well known that critics of the church had used the lack of this evidence to destroy testimonies. But I boldly testified that only recently God had allowed new evidence of both horses and wheels in ancient America to be discovered and that this evidence supported the claims of the Book of Mormon.
After sharing all the evidence for the Book of Mormon with my audience I would then caution them... stating that a testimony can not be built on these evidences...but must be soundly built on foundation of faith and through a confirmation from the Holy Ghost as Moroni promised through the Spirit. But know that although a testimony of the Book of Mormon must be based on faith...rest assured that the Lord is slowly revealing factual evidence to support its claims.
To be honest with you... My talked was well rehearsed and it rocked! I always had my audience eating out of the palm of my hand...they loved this shit.
Following my talk, H. Burke Peterson sought me out and placed his arm around my shoulder. He looked me in the eye and complimented me on my talk. He commented that the spirit was so strong during my talk. He thanked me and encouraged me to continue on my path in righteousness...that I was on the pathway to great things inside the church and that the Lord had a great work for me to do. (reading between the lines, I arrogantly interpreted his statement as prophetic, that I was on the road to high church callings in my future...perhaps even becoming a Bishop, SP or even GA someday...every Mormon boy’s dream).
Now the irony. It was all a lode of crap. I was merely regurgitating the shit that I had been fed... there was no archeological, linguistic, plant, animal, horse, wheel or any other modern day evidence that supported the Book of Mormon. In fact there were volumes of evidence that discredited the Book of Mormon’s claims...but I had failed to mention any of those... H. Burke Peterson knew it and allowed me to spew forth that drivel and said nothing... The reason the spirit was so strong when I gave that talk was because I was giving the people what they wanted... its called confirmation bias... they wanted PROOF that the shit was TRUE...but the sad reality is that I was feeding them the same bull shit that I had been fed... Oh the Irony...that I had in fact built my testimony on the assumption that the claims made by the church were supported by some evidence.... In the end.... faith and a spiritual witness were NOT enough to support my beliefs in Mormonism when I discovered that there was no foundational proof to support Mormonism's claims...
Thomas Edison said it best when he said..."For faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction - faith in fiction is a damnable false hope."
For those of you who want to read what Mormons of today use as proof...read this link...