Bill Moore, Wayne Cowdrey and Arthur Vanick: Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?

Richard Senate had to postpone his appearance until next week, and I’m out of town, so here is a long-promised “lost” interview (from almost exactly six years ago) featuring Bill Moore and his co-authors discussing their 2005 book Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?: The Spalding Enigma. Cowdrey is actually a descendant of one of the founders of the Mormon Church, and the book was a expanded edition of a 1977 book by Vanick and Cowdrey.

Based on years of research (which was occasionally thwarted by persons unknown) the authors believe that the creation myth of the Mormon Church was based largely on an 1812 book called A Manuscript Found by an American Revolutionary War veteran named Solomon Spalding. They contend that church co-founder Sidney Rigdon borrowed or stole the manuscript from a printer in Pittsburgh after Spalding’s death. It contained the basic story of what Joseph Smith later claimed to have channeled for the Book Of Mormon.

In the book, the authors claim that they are not out to gut the Mormon Church; they were only interested in getting to the bottom of a story that had almost been forgotten, and found literally reams of documentary evidence to support it. Cowdrey himself says in the interview, “We care for the Mormon people, but we think that they’re living under a delusion.”

P.S. Bill Moore is not actually listed as an author, and he explained in the program that this was because he acted as editor and research associate. WARNING: UFOs were not mentioned in this program!

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8 Responses to Bill Moore, Wayne Cowdrey and Arthur Vanick: Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?

  1. Interesting show, although I would have liked if there had been more discussion re. Joseph Smith’s encounter with the angel Moroni.

    The millionaire you were talking about is Joe Firmage. I remember reading about the night encounter with an entity very similar to the classical description of Moroni —although in Joe’s case, the ‘angel’ was a bit annoyed of having been summoned 😉

    My main interest with the church of Mormon is the similarities it has in their creed with the channeled content of the Urantia book. I don’t have anything against Mormons per se —there aren’t a lot of them here in Mexico anyway— but to think that a book that proves the falsity of their sacred texts does not seek to undermine their faith is a bit naive, isn’t it? It’s like asking a devoted Catholic to renounce to his or her belief that Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t the son of God —sure you could still find plenty of great moral teachings in the New Testament nevertheless… but then it wouldn’t be a religion, would it? 😉

    I really don’t know if a religion based entirely on fictional elements —or rather, a religion in which their members were AWARE that is based on fiction— would be able to survive for a large amount of time. The only one I can think of right now is the Church of the Jedi, and even if most of its members are in because of their extreme fandom, I’m sure there would be a couple of them that are absolutely certain in the existence of The Force.

    Because in the end, true art is nothing but channeling. So human beings are in this rather complex circular process of reinventing ourselves through our cultural manifestations and narratives, and then transforming ourselves into those narratives.

    So are we the dreamer or just the dream?

    • Greg says:

      Well, I did say that they wanted the audience and their readers to know that they were “not out to gut Mormonism.” I think that they can point out its funamental flaws while still saying that the Church has a right to exist in whatever form it wishes, even if the followers want to live under what they consider to be a proven delusion.

      • “You have the right to be bat-shit crazy”, eh? 😉

        Well, Castañeda wrote about ‘controlled follies’, irrational beliefs we need to maintain in order to keep functional and maintain our emotional stability, even though we are aware they are just delusions. Like for me, the delusion that Democracy is preferable to tyranny, and that evil can be defeated with love and non-violence –otherwise I’d go all Pancho Villa & start a new Revolution 🙂

  2. Ward says:

    Minority of One, great observation. This interview scared the hell out of me Greg, considering Romney might be the republican candidate. All of this info is in public domain, i never knew Mormons where so cultist like Scientology, great informative interview.

  3. Sagacious says:

    Hey Greg, there really WAS a little discussion of UFOs. It goes on for three or four minutes at around 90 minutes into the show.

  4. H Moltke says:

    This was a fascinating, if convoluted interview. The origins of Mormonism have always been of interest to me, though Mark Twain’s treatment of it has always seemed the best.

    I’ve had a special loathing of Mormons ever since around fifteen years ago when they embarked on an especially devious recruitment program in my hometown in PA. They swooped in with their good-looking, clean-cut young men and specifically targeted certain shy, unattractive girls at our high school with incredible amounts of attention and offers of going to “dances”. Of course, the dances were staged events designed to inflame the hearts of these tender young virgins for the purpose of recruitment. Predictably, the “dances” won the Mormon church many converts among these girls — most of whom remain Mormons to this day. It was quite a coup.

    Anyway, the book seems to contain substantial research, and it was a pleasant surprise to hear about it here.

    • Greg says:

      That sounds pretty devious. If you listen to this show on a regular basis, you know that I have a special loathing of any sort of fundamentalist thinking or rigid belief system. This particular interview, while not specifically concerned with the usual paranormal or UFO-related subjects that we usually cover, was conducted both because I knew one of the authors and the issues we discussed were personally interesting to me.

      The book contains about 10-15 combined years of research and is meticulously accurate, as far as I can tell. I’m glad you enjoyed and even perhaps learned a bit from the show.


      Greg B.

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