What is Second Sight?

 

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Yesterday I shared a post about the 11+ witnesses.  It didn’t take long and an LDS critic commented that the witnesses saw the visions via “second sight.”  And they only saw with their “spiritual eyes”.

This blogger at Conflict of Justice provides extensive quotes and background on this topic:  Did the Book of Mormon Witnesses See The Gold Plates Only in Their Minds?

The short answer is no.  The long answer will take lots of reading.  The witnesses are on record countless times, testifying of a physical experience.

I had heard of second sight before yesterday, but hadn’t taken the time to evaluate in detail what second sight was.  Previously, critics would argue that Joseph hypnotized the witnesses.  That it appears has fallen out of favor as a hypothesis.  Hypnosis fails as an explanation because the data show this is not possible or at least very, very, very, very, very, very unlikely to have happened.

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So, critics move to the next possibility:  second sight.  The only problem is that second sight — unlike hypnosis — has never been known to have happened.

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To better understand second sight I Googled and reviewed several sites’ definitions.  In every case, the word was referring to knowing something in advance.  The word had nothing to do with hallucination or hypnosis.  Instead, it was someone — not multiple at once — who could see the future.

Definitions of second sight:

Google:  the supposed ability to perceive future or distant events; clairvoyance.

I thought I’d look up clairvoyance to better understand what this second site synonym was.

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Google:    noun: clairvoyance        

  1. the supposed faculty of perceiving things or events in the future or beyond normal sensory contact.
  2. “she stared at the card as if she could contact its writer by clairvoyance”
  1. synonyms:
  • ESP, extrasensory perception, sixth sense, psychic powers, second sight;
  • telepathy
  • “I’m not sure how much confidence I have in Miss ZuZu’s clairvoyance”

 

Merriam-Webster, second sight:  the capacity to see remote or future objects or events: CLAIRVOYANCE, PRECOGNITION   

       Synonyms  clairvoyance, extrasensory perception, sixth sense;      

examples of second sight in a sentence:  the fairy world was believed to be visible to people blessed with second sight

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Joseph Smith showed 8 witnesses metal plates.  An angel showed metal plates and multiple objects on a table to 3 witnesses.  No fairies were around.  Joseph saw some future events and prophesied, but lived in the natural world.  Not the fairy world.  Second sight doesn’t occur.  Prophets have lived.

From Sixth Sense Reader a term denoting the opposite of its apparent significance, meaning in reality the seeing, in vision, of events before they occur. “Foresight” expresses the meaning of second sight, which perhaps was originally so called because normal vision was regarded as coming first, while supernormal vision is a secondary thing, confined to certain individuals (ibid).

This word, second sight, is so little used look what is in the next dictionary:

Urban Dictionary:   second sight

TOP DEFINITION     an underated action game that has an amazing plot, but is a little too short.            

Me:im having a lot of fun playing second sight! i can use awesome physcic powers on my enemies!   #really#good#game#that#is underated  by r2d2’s bad hair day July 27, 2006

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From Very Well Health:  Second Sight Changes in Vision:       

“Second sight” refers to a temporary change in vision during early cataract development. Before vision deteriorates, vision, especially close-up reading vision, improves significantly. Some patients report very clear near vision without the use of reading glasses. Near vision refers to vision for objects 2 feet or closer to the viewer.

These changes occur because the proteins and other compounds that make up the lens begin to change structure. This, in turn, changes the way light refracts through the lens, causing a temporary improvement in near vision.

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I copied/pasted from the Wikipedia below (after ESP image below).  Interestingly, this topic is nested under Paranormal.  In my view, for critics to cling to these (completely unsupported) superstitious explanations demonstrates they have greater superstition than Joseph ever did.

First paragraph is descriptive of what second sight is.  The second paragraph points out that second sight doesn’t occur.

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Second sight is a form of extrasensory perception, the supposed power to perceive things that are not present to the senses, whereby a person perceives information, in the form of a vision, about future events before they happen (precognition), or about things or events at remote locations (remote viewing).[1][2]

There is no scientific evidence that second sight exists. Reports of second sight are known only from anecdotal evidence given after the fact.

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Read that?  This — second sight — has never been documented; yet LDS critics present this to uninformed readers as the explanation for Joseph’s visions.  Very poor scholarship.

LDS critics usually posit that they follow evidence, and that has led them to their current positions.  Is that true in this case?  What of the 200+ accounts the witnesses left?  They clearly and repeatedly claimed to have seen a vision, but with their natural eyes.  They saw the plates just as they see a tree (pointing to a tree), etc.

Wikipedia discusses the history of second sight.  The entire Wikipedia article on the topic is only 7 paragraphs long.

Second sight may have originally been so called because normal vision was regarded as coming first, while supernormal vision is a secondary thing, confined to certain individuals.[4] An da shealladh or “the two sights,” meaning “the sight of the seer”, is the way Gaels refer to “second sight”, the involuntary ability of seeing the future or distant events. There are many Gaelic words for the various aspects of second sight, but an da shealladh is the one mostly recognized by non-Gaelic speakers, even though, strictly speaking, it does not really mean second sight, but rather “two sights”.[a]

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So, did Joseph involuntarily see future events?  The witnesses, too?  Did they see the plates in the field during the day, as they claimed?  Or were they at the Whitmer home and all together involuntarily see the objects, as if they were in the field?

So, was Joseph a seer?  But an involuntary one?  Joseph typically got answers to questions via revelation.  His revelations weren’t involuntary.  His revelations came after much study and pondering.

This explanation — second sight — has no basis in fact or history (only in mythology) and wasn’t what the Book of Mormon witnesses consistently held to.

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I searched YouTube for videos on the topic and found zero.  Nobody has produced one because it’s never occurred.  There are a bazillion videos on every topic imaginable, but none for second sight (except for movies and video game reviews).

 

What is the New Testament Doing in the Book of Mormon? Intertextuality in the Book of Mormon with Nick Frederick

Another great podcast:

http://www.ldsperspectives.com/2018/08/22/intertextuality-book-mormon/

In this episode of the LDS Perspectives Podcast, Laura Harris Hales interviews scholar Nicholas (Nick) J. Frederick about New Testament intertextuality in the Book of Mormon.

As an undergraduate classics major at BYU, Frederick became interested in studying Book of Mormon intertextuality. He wanted to discuss with other scholars what he was finding but encountered resistance from those who thought he was attacking the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Further frustration came as he realized that the few resources on the topic were primarily written by critics of the Book of Mormon arguing against historicity. Their research was overreaching and didn’t address how these New Testament elements were functioning within the text.

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Frederick, who has since written a dissertation, book, and articles on the topic, hopes to expand the discussion of the New Testament elements in the Book of Mormon beyond that of simply whether they speak to historicity. That the New Testament can be found in the Book of Mormon is undeniable, but some might struggle with the notion of the New Testament as an antecedent text. Frederick suggests that we negotiate this roadblock by untethering the gold plates from the 19th century English document that we call the Book of Mormon because they are “two different texts that are related through translation.” Moving past the issue of why these passages are in the Book of Mormon to how the Book of Mormon affirms, comments on, corrects, and reimagines the New Testament is an important and fascinating discussion.

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Unfortunately identifying common phrases isn’t as simple as it would seem. Sometimes there are direct quotations, such as from the Sermon on the Mount in 3 Nephi—though even there Frederick discusses the fascinating influence of John’s gospel on quotations from Matthew. But the presence of the New Testament is often subtle. He explains that the Book of Mormon will “carefully weave these New Testament passages into the larger text,” so the interdependence does not readily stand out to the casual reader. The Book of Mormon seems to masterfully deconstruct and reconstruct New Testament concepts and phrases for its own purposes.

In an attempt to broaden the discussion, Frederick proposes a methodology for determining the probability of intertextuality, which goes beyond simply identifying common phrases. He adds four additional criteria to solidify connections. Through multiple examples, Dr. Frederick shows us how intertextual studies can enrich our study of the Book of Mormon.

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About Our Guest: Nicholas J. Frederick served a mission in Brussels, Belgium, then attended BYU where he received his BA in classics and his MA in comparative studies. He then attended Claremont Graduate University, where he completed a PhD in the history of Christianity with an emphasis in Mormon studies, after which he returned to work at BYU. His research focuses primarily on the intertextual relationship between the text of the Bible and Mormon scripture.  He enjoys teaching courses on the Book of Mormon and the New Testament, particularly the writings of Paul and the Book of Revelation.

Hypnosis and the Golden Plates

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Critics suggest that Joseph Smith hypnotized or in some other way (2nd sight is often offered) influenced the witnesses.  That is, in their view the 11+ witnesses never saw the Golden Plates.  Instead, critics suggest Joseph either hypnotized or convinced them they saw something that they really never did.  The video below is interesting.

These people in the video below appear to be in a hypnotic state.  However, could these people have seen Golden Plates — while in a hypnotic sleep — and reported about it?

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Most people are not susceptible to hypnosis.  Only about 5-10% are highly susceptible.  The witnesses were not hypnotized.  Lots of evidence demonstrates otherwise.

From the video introduction:

“Most people think hypnosis is some kind of trick. Religion calls it sinful.

Science has questioned its very existence. Hypnotist, Laughologist and acclaimed Filmmaker Albert Nerenberg, asks: What happens if you run a series of standard hypnotic inductions on a large crowd such as the audience at TEDXQueens.

Is hypnosis fake? Let’s find out. The results are stunning. This comical presentation may finally provide a street science explanation for how hypnosis actually works.”

 

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From a counseling page on hypnosis:

Can hypnosis make me do something against my will?

Absolutely not! If you have ever seen a stage hypnotist, he or she appears to make people do strange things while hypnotized. Stage hypnosis, however, is entertainment and showmanship is a major factor. The truth is that participating subjects are volunteers who desire to be part of the show. A hypnotist cannot make anyone act in a way that is contrary to the person’s own values, beliefs or moral standards.

What if I don’t wake up?

No one has ever been stuck in a terminal state of hypnosis. It simply cannot happen. Although hypnosis may resemble sleep, it is a completely different state, psychologically and physically. If the hypnotist left the room, the subject would eventually either fall asleep or break the hypnotic state naturally. In fact, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis.

Book of Mormon Witnesses: 3, 8, and others

From the fun-loving, light-hearted 3 Mormons:

To debunk common comparisons with Bigfoot (nobody has

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Critics frequently compare LDS witnesses to those who claim to see the virgin Mary (or Bigfoot or still others).  Similar?  Nope.

Do 3 people see Mary or Bigfoot simultaneously?  Hear Mary’s voice together?  Videotape Bigfoot in daylight hours? See a table full of Catholic relics, shown to the 3 one by one? Then hear God command them to testify?

No.  From my experience, Bigfoot and Mary witnesses are similar: no lasting evidence.  And testimonies almost always wilt under cross-examination or sustained questioning.

Ditto for the testimony of 8 witnesses.  Did any recent Mary sitings include 8 people holding some of the same Mary objects also seen by the 3?

If Catholics recorded and for the rest of their lives testified of such a scenario it would be much easier to believe in Mary visitations.

Testimony of the 3 Witnesses

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

Oliver Cowdery

David Whitmer

Martin Harris

 

Testimony of the 8 Witnesses

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.

Christian Whitmer

Jacob Whitmer

Peter Whitmer, Jun.

John Whitmer

Hiram Page

Joseph Smith, Sen.

Hyrum Smith

Samuel H. Smith

Brett McDonald at LDS Truth Claims YouTube channel created these videos relative to the witnesses.  Brett has done his homework.

Brian Hales debunks the anti-Mormon claims against the Book of Mormon witnesses.

Part II:

Did the witnesses leave the church?  Yes.  Deny their testimony?  No.

 

Did the 3 and 8 witnesses only saw plates through a pillow? Why context matters and who is William Smith (Joseph’s complex younger brother)?

A critic just posted a wildly out-of-context and false statement in an online discussion.  An accusation is simple to make, but often takes much time to research and refute.  Here’s what the critic stated:

They claimed to see the plates in a visionary state. Some held them through a pillow, etc. They didn’t claim to actually physically hold them.

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Here’s my response after doing lots of looking around:

I’ll read from you link (he referenced a critical source, which I’ve seen before). Do you ever quote the 3 or 8 witnesses themselves? They didn’t change their stories. Why use other sources? Should I listen to you or go to your detractors or others to understand your side of the story?

Below is a link to quotes from William Smith (JS’s younger brother) the critics often use to claim that the Book of Mormon witnesses only saw the plates through a frock. The issue here is that it’s a fact William Smith never saw the plates. That is because he wasn’t one of the 3 or 8 witnesses. Instead, William only held the plates while they were covered in a frock — soon after Joseph brought the plates down from the hill.

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So, William wasn’t lying. He simply reported the truth: he held them covered (within a frock) during the first few months they were in Joseph’s possession in Palmyra (1827).  But he wasn’t speaking for the experience of others.  He wasn’t speaking for the 3 and 8 witnesses.
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Indeed, William’s testimony was very limited. He was not one of the 3 witnesses who saw the angel along with plates (golden and brass), Liahona, Sword of Laban, etc. in 1829. And he was not present when the Golden Plates were openly displayed for the 8 witnesses who then lifted and inspect these plates. Also in 1829.
 
So, context matters.

https://www.fairmormon.org/evidences/Category:Book_of_Mormon/Plates/Tow_frock

 

A few minutes later I posted this (after doing a quick search for “plates pillow” on FAIR Mormon):

Just found the source for your reference to the pillow. These quotes come from interviews with William Smith in the 1880s and 1890s. William never says that his father & brothers never saw the plates. Your earlier statements are factually incorrect. You and those at Mormon Think take William’s quote out of context.  Far out of context.

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Immediately after securing the plates (Sept of 1827) and entering the Smith home, father Smith put the plates (already wrapped in a frock) inside a pillow. The goal was to further hide them. They weren’t allowed to see the plates at this time. Nobody was. No debate there. This was September of 1827. The witnesses saw the plates in 1829. Two different years, Ken. Very poor scholarship on your part & for those at Mormon Think.

Referring to what occurred after the work of translation (in 1829), William says:

“He then showed the plates to my father and my brothers Hyrum and Samuel, who were witnesses to the truth of the book which was translated from them. I was permitted to lift them as they laid in a pillow-case; but not to see them, as it was contrary to the commands he had received.”

The list of 8 witnesses.  Note that William is not on the list.

  • Hiram Page.
  • Hyrum Smith.
  • Joseph Smith Sr.
  • Samuel H. Smith.
  • Christian Whitmer.
  • Jacob Whitmer.
  • John Whitmer.
  • Peter Whitmer Jr.

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Indeed, this same William whom you quote out of context, clearly reports that his father & 2 brothers were shown the plates by Joseph.

Summary: A frequent claim is that a Book of Mormon witnesses said that he only handled the plates while they were covered in a “tow frock.” However, this report is from William Smith, one of Joseph’s brothers who was not a Book of Mormon witness. In fact, William insisted in the same statement that he was convinced Joseph was not lying about the plates. William also dismissed the Spalding hypothesis as nonsense.

https://www.fairmormon.org/…/Category…/Plates/Tow_frock

Read more about William Smith here:  http://ldsmag.com/joseph-smiths-challenging-brother/

And here:  http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/william-b-smith

The Gold(en) Plates

The wonderful 3 Mormons:

BMC Studios and Stephen Smoot:

Richard Bushman’s 2010 Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum (BMAF) presentation is entitled “The Gold Plates in Mormon Culture and Thought.”

Bushman also authored the widely-read biography of Joseph Smith, “Rough Stone Rolling”.  Bushman likely knows Joseph Smith better than any other living human — from an entire career of meticulous research — and is a faithful Latter-day Saint.

Another video about metals and golden plates in MesoAmerica.  Daniel Johnson shares about metal plates in the Old and New World:

The LDS Church made a pamphlet — Gold Plates Used Anciently — in 1963.  You can read the pamphlet here.   The pamphlets shows many photographs & lists the dozens of metal plates found throughout the world.

 

Brother Read Putnam wrote this article for the Improvement Era in 1966: “Were the Golden Plates made of Tumbaga?” Read it here.