“Wow, God says go to your backyard and start digging, that makes perfect sense!”
The history of the LDS Church is filled with fantastic stories of visions, miracles, and the like. Is this so unique among religions? Stephen Colbert makes my point during his piece, “Yaweh or No Way?“:
“Mormons believe Joseph Smith received from golden plates from an angel on a hill… when everybody knows that Moses got stone tablets from a burning bush on a mountain.”
This argument type is called reductio ad absurdum. Colbert follows the implications of the argument – that fantastic Mormon stories are ludicrous – to the logical end that other fantastic Christian stories are also ludicrous. Even though most Christians would like to accept the first premise and deny the second, they cannot logically do so.
This is a fair criticism. Religious belief naturally necessitates faith in things that cannot be proven empirically. In many ways, the golden plates are just Mormonism’s version of Moses’ stone tablets.
What of the way things seemed to all fall into place – Joseph living nearby where the gold plates were kept, for instance? The answer isn’t surprising. God prepares a way for his purposes to be accomplished. God inspired Moroni to hide the plates in what would eventually become upstate New York. He also provided for Joseph’s family to move from Vermont, where Joseph was born, to Palmyra, where the plates were hidden. As the proverb says, “Coincidences are just miracles in which God desires to remain anonymous.”