Daniel C. Peterson gave this speech at the FAIRMormon conference in August, and it can be read in its entirety here.
Sometimes people say “All right, name your single best evidence for the Book of Mormon” or “Name the three absolute proofs for the Book of Mormon.”
Peterson said, “I don’t believe there are any such things. I think that what Latter-day Saint scholars – apologists, if you want to use that term – have thought they were doing with the Book of Mormon…is constructing a cumulative case, no one element of which is definitive, no one element of which will simply force, compel unbelievers to suddenly cave in, surrender. I don’t believe that that’s the Lord’s intention. I don’t believe that there will be any such things.”
He said even if we found a stela in Central America that said, “I, Nephi, was here” people would still find a way to get around that.
Yet, Peterson noted, what he has been unable to do—“and I think I have tried seriously and honestly—[is] to construct a case or construct an explanation of the Book of Mormon other than Joseph Smith’s that really accounts for all the data.”
Joseph Smith’s critics have come up with many explanations for the origins Book of Mormon, but they are convoluted.
Peterson said, “My argument would be that all of the counter-explanations of the Book of Mormon that I’ve looked at – and I think I’ve looked at all of them – run into walls. You eventually run into something where, it simply can’t get you there. It can’t explain everything that needs to be explained.
Read the full report of Daniel Peterson’s speech on Meridian Magazine.