Very interesting article, but no doubt God could turn most anything into a seer stone. Something used for the early time of church history until Joseph was able to not need a stone for spiritual insight. This just happens to be the one used at the moment.
Kind of like learning to ride a bike. You learn to ride a bike, then later cars, motorcycles, etc. It doesn't matter which brand of bike you used to learn to ride.
If God plans things with this much detail, could he not have just made this rock something native to New York? If it had to be this particular type of rock, why make the process of obtaining it so convoluted? I just feel like an item so important to the history of the LDS Church probably would have been treated with more respect than a dinosaur road-trip that ended in a pile of poop.
This rock appears to be a stream-smoothed rock made of banded iron formation (BIF) or banded jasper / chert. There are deposits of BIF in Quebec, Canada. Kevin Henson's explanation of glacial deposition of this stone in western New York makes sense. How this beautiful but ordinary stream-deposited rock became a seer stone is unknown. However, I like Paul's comment on April 17, which fits Alma 37:23.
TRUE STORY: A few years ago My Grandson was teaching an Elders Quorum class (note: this proves I am very old). The subject was from the Old Testament, Exodus 39. He started by describing the breastplate of Aaron in some detail; 12 Bright Jewels, one for each tribe of Israel, mounted in a rectangular gold and wire frame, with blue, purple, and scarlet trappings, all of fine craftsmanship. Over 3,300 years ago the ancient prophets, Arron and Moses used that breastplate to talk to God and receive God's word to help them lead the people of Israel. For thousands of years this has seemed to most to be a magical tale, but the scriptures strongly decry magic. So, was this a real thing? Was it just a decoration? Or did it actually work as claimed? How could such a thing have worked?As the quorum considered those questions, my grandson opened his suit jacket. Hanging on his chest, from a chain around his neck, was his IPod. It was all alight, with twelve brightly colored apps, boldly displayed like jewels. The major physical components of a device like an Ipod is silicon, just sand or rock, with some “wires” and some “jewels” of fine craftsmanship added, which turn it into an attractive and very useful communications tool. No magic, just technology. Today anyone can use such devices to communicate with anyone they wish, world wide or even to a nearby moon. With the right apps, you can also receive God’s written or even spoken word from both ancient and modern prophets. To talk TO God without such a device, a simple prayer often works.The final irony, that was definitely not lost on the quorum members in attendance, my grandson’s name is “Aaron Moses”.
As a geologist who has studied these kind of rocks, I can tell you that the rock is chert, one of the most common rock types in the crust. It is NOT a rock with microbial fossils and has nothing to do with the origin of life. Chert is composed of microscopic quartz crystals, deposited chemically in sedimentary basins, or in some instances, as hydrothermal spring deposits. It is resistant to erosion and survives well in stream deposits.Kent Condie
Department of Earth & Environmental Science
New Mexico Tech
Thank you, Richard Brandley. I appreciate having bubbles popped when speculation goes way beyond the science/facts to support the speculation.I grew up as the son of a mining engineer and agree that you really need to bring a lot of analytical tools to bear on a real rock to understand much about what it is. There is no real scientific analysis presented here.I enjoyed Christopher's speculations...but that is what they are without some science to back them up.
This was fascinating to read, however, not a lot of absolute truth to it. Millions of years can't be tested. Who really knows what the atmosphere was like millions of years ago? The theory of a dinosaur swallowing the stone is unlikely. There is additional research anyone can do about the origin of rocks. Just do a search for Universal Model. This will give anyone, with an open mind and a desire to know, additional insight into the creation and the origin of rocks that came thousands of years after during the Flood. Enjoy!
This featured stone was NOT the only "seer stone" used/possessed by Joseph. He carried a stone with him on occasions from which he could be warned or prompted. There exists today, a watch-fob which Joseph used to secure his time-piece until he traded it to the pioneer whooMPeacock brought it to St. George. It stayed in the family's possession for more than 150 years. The fob has two stones mounted in gold - back to back - and Joseph named them his "moon stone" and his "blood stone". The chain and clasp attached to the fob are still part of the item. I have held this fob in hand several times. It is glorious! I do not know if many know of this item, BUT I write this as an illustration of Joseph having definitely more than one seer stone.
Your article rocks! And I appreciate readers' comments and additions. It's rather fascinating. Although I believe the Lord could touch any stones to provide additional powers to Joseph while translating. And besides touching rocks, He sometimes touches US, when we're ready, and we also become instruments in His hands.
I so loved this article. I have found some years ago a Banded Iron Jasper. I have wondered the name of it. I would post a picture if I could. I would not have this stone if a picture of the Seer Stone was not shown to the world. I am a rock and mineral collector and this is my prized stone possession.
That was a very insightful article and I appreciate the in-depth study that you did. I always love to learn more on these sorts of subjects and I especially enjoyed reading your article Christopher Kirkland.
The Superior iron deposits are of this banded hematite/jasper iron ore.
The Great Lakes ore carriers used to haul the stuff around to the smelters in Chicago, Detroit, Toledo, Cinci and elsewhere.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gyn754vw8ZQOriginally, the deposition of these layered formations was nearly world-wide on continental margins as the early oceanic chemistry was changing. They didn’t develop on the land masses then above water. Any deep water deposits may have been recycled by plate tectonics. Where we don’t have these deposits today is largely due to interim erosion of the oceanic deposits.
I frequently joke about our soil and rocks in Michigan as being ‘Canada’s great gift to the US’. It’s true. The last ice age bull-dozed off nearly all of the Canadian shield deposits from Hudson Bay southward and piled it up along the southernmost borders of the ice cap. Hence, lots of rocks from Canada found its way into the northern tier states. It’s said the Seer Stone was found some 15 feet deep in the glacial till (debris) as Joseph helped dig a well.As for the Seer Stone being a dinosaur gastrolith and especially the claim that a dino came all the way from Wyoming to die in NY seems a very, very big stretch.Banded iron rocks round off nicely in a stream/river erosional environment. Do a Google Images search on ‘banded jasper cobbles’ and you’ll see what I mean.One of the JS Papers article photos shows a tape measure scale with the Seer stone It appears to be only about 6 cm long – only 2.5 inches longest dimension. That’s the smallest dimension for a ‘cobble’ – really it’s a large pebble, so you would expect it would easily be stream carried, abraded and rounded.Without going into a deep study, we could imagine some now-eroded away Proterzoic iron bed having its debris incorporated into one of the eastern mountain building events; the Taconic, Grenville or Appalachian orogenies. We can speculate that the stone was then eroded out and stream tumbled to get its final shape and finally carried to the Joseph’s area by glacial activity.As for being highly polished, I’ve not seen information about its original condition nor how Joseph cared for the rock. Joseph may well have polished it himself. It almost looks oiled - which may account for the thought it was a gastrolith. Geologists (and other people) often will polish, wet or oil a rock face to make the mineral content more easily seen. Some defects in the surface are visible in the photos (small crack
I think is was Martin Harris, not Oliver Cowdery, that did the ‘substitute stone’ test.
I loved this, but I must say I'm puzzled about why you chose not to include the documentation for it. Did the geologist to whom you spoke not wish to be recognized? Something so scientifically based should at least have some footnotes, no?
GuyRob poses an interesting question about the fake stone being substituted for the seer stone. Several thoughts came to mind...
1 - Joseph, perhaps focused totally on the task ahead, might have picked up the fake without noticing, examining it only when it proved false.
2 - Such an incident would have been foreknown and prepared for. Difficult to imagine the Good who prepared the true seer stone in such a remarkable manner not being able to have organized a similar appearing one in its own time and place to be found and tried.
3 - Such an experience might easily have further refine Joseph's faith and reminded the scribe that the Lord cannot be fooled.
To Guy Rob. The person who tried to trick Joseph, was Martin Harris, not Oliver Cowdery, if my old memory serves me correctly.
A rare stone in Wyoming or Minnesota was eaten by a dinosaur. Over the years the stone is shaped and polished in its gizzard. The dinosaur migrates to New York and dies there. Millions of years later the Prophet Joseph Smith is digging a well in the exact location the dinosaur died and finds the stone.“And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light” (Alma 37:23)Now that is some preparation. It makes one wonder what He has prepared for all of us?
Of course God could make a seer stone out of anything, but the history and geology are interesting.
GuyRob, it was Martin Harris that made the switch
Is the stone shown in the pictures the actual stone used by Joseph?
Rather than a dinosaur, could it have been carried by the likes of Moroni, in his wanderings and been left or lost?
Sorry to pop a bubble. Interesting article and fun to read but has no science behind it. I'm a M.Sc., Ph.D., Prof. Geologist, Sedimentologist, Petrogropher, Carbonate Specialist. I look at rocks for a living. Rock identification from photographs only is simply a guess, no better. There is no way to tell for sure, what most rocks are from pictures. One can guess and is sometimes correct. But most times the rock must be examined visually, and many times under microscope or lab analysis to determine what it really is.
Very interesting and, as far as I know, a unique contribution to information about Joseph's seer stones.There is a story about Oliver Cowdery (or possibly another scribe), while he and Joseph were taking a break from translation near, I think, a river, substituting a stone he then found for Joseph's seer stone. When Joseph tried to resume translating nothing came. Cowdery then confessed. Was the seer stone then being used a different one, or did Cowdery also find an incredibly rare stone (at least for the geologic area) just lying on the surface of the ground, at least one "good enough" to make Joseph think it was his seer stone?
Absolutely fascinating article! Thank you Christopher Kirkland for your research and well written article. I enjoyed it immensely.
Fascinating. And what an appropriate name - Genesis - for an instrument needed at the beginning of a new dispensation!Warren
That was fascinating. An incredible rock even without being a seer stone.
What of the pouch it was kept in?
This was very interesting, and pretty cool, too. Thank you for your curiosity, and willingness to share it with us.
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