In response to critics’ arguments as to the origin of the Book of Mormon, Hugh Nibley published the following parable:
A young man once long ago claimed he had found a large diamond in his field as he was plowing. He put the stone on display to the public free of charge, and everyone took sides. A psychologist showed, by citing some famous case studies, that the young man was suffering from a well-known form of delusion. An historian showed that other men have also claimed to have found diamonds in fields and been deceived. A geologist proved that there were no diamonds in the area but only quartz. . . . When asked to inspect the stone itself, the geologist declined with a weary, tolerant smile and a kindly shake of the head. . . . A sociologist showed that only three out of 177 florists’ assistants in four major cities believed the stone was genuine. A clergyman wrote a book to show that it was not the young man but someone else who had found the stone.
Finally an indigent jeweler . . . pointed out that since the stone was still available for examination the answer to the question of whether it was a diamond or not had absolutely nothing to do with who found it, or whether the finder was honest or sane, or who believed him, or whether he would know a diamond from a brick . . . , but was to be answered simply and solely by putting the stone to certain well-known tests for diamonds. Experts on diamonds were called in. Some of them declared it genuine. The others made nervous jokes about it and declared that they could not very well jeopardize their dignity and reputations by appearing to take the thing too seriously. To hide the bad impression thus made, someone came out with the theory that the stone was really a synthetic diamond, very skilfully made, but a fake just the same. The objection to this is that the production of a good synthetic diamond [in that day and age] would have been an even more remarkable feat than the finding of a real one.
To suggest that Joseph Smith, a farm boy with little formal education, produced a synthetic work of God in 1829 that has baffled the brightest of critics for almost two centuries would be a more remarkable feat than the simple fact that he obtained the gold plates from an angel of God and translated them by the gift and power of God.