Joseph Smith said he translated the Book of Mormon from gold plates he found in New York. He said these plates contained the records of ancient inhabitants of America who migrated from Israel in about 600 B.C.
Yet, not a single coin, city, or battle field mentioned in the Book of Mormon has ever been identified in any archeological dig in America. Animals mentioned in the Book of Mormon such as the cow, horse, ox, ass, and goat as well as commodities such as wheat, barley, silk, steel, brass and the compass were either unknown in Book of Mormon times or did not exist in Pre-Columbian America. DNA evidence for a Jewish migration to America is also lacking.
So where did the Book of Mormon come from? We believe that Joseph Smith borrowed from a number of contemporary books of his day when he wrote the Book of Mormon. Not only did he plagiarize whole chapters of the Bible, he borrowed names, phrases and stories from three other books: The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain, The First Book of Napoleon, and The View of the Hebrews by Ethan Smith.
I used to think that the idea of the lost 10 tribes of Israel migrating to America and the story of Samuel the Lamanite preaching over the wall of a city while stones were thrown at him were stories unique to the Book of Mormon. But these ideas and similar stories are found in the fictional book called The View of the Hebrews published by Ethan Smith in 1825.
So the evidence proves that the Book of Mormon is not a true historical record, nor is its message compatible with God’s Word, the Bible, so Mormonism cannot be a religion from God.
While Joseph Smith drew from the ideas in these books when he was creating his Book of Mormon stories, no single story retold in the Book of Mormon is reiterated exactly as it was in these books. For example, the story of Samuel, the Lamanite Prophet, given in Heleman 13-16 of the Book of Mormon, is similar to the story of Jesus, son of Ananus, found on page 20 of the View of Hebrews, who climbed upon the city wall to preach “Wo, wo to this city” while stones were thrown at him. While the character in the View of the Hebrews died from his wounds, Samuel the Lamanite was protected from the stones and survived.
The fact that differences such as these exist is not surprising as Joseph Smith could not have sold his book if he didn’t change some of the details for his audience who were familiar with these books. So, differences do not discount the evidence he likely drew ideas from these sources.