“[K]nowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw[?]” ~1 Nephi 11:21~
Among the most obvious, and damning evidence against the church, is the “Tree of Life” vision in First Nephi which is copied from a vision his father (Joseph Smith, Sr.) had many years before JS authored the Book of Mormon. Over thirty correlations exist between J.S. Sr.’s dream and J.S. Jr.’s (Lehi’s dream or vision of the tree of life) found in 1 Nephi 8.
Evaluate/compare both versions below:
1 NEPHI 8:2-33…
“Behold, I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision.
“And behold, because of the thing which I have seen, I have reason to rejoice in the Lord because of Nephi and also of Sam; for I have reason to suppose that they, and also many of their seed, will be saved.
“But behold, Laman and Lemuel, I fear exceedingly because of you; for behold, methought I saw in my dream, a dark and dreary wilderness.
“And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me.
“And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him.
“And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste.
“And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies.
“And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field.
“And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
“And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.
“And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.
“And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit.
“And I looked to behold from whence it came; and I saw the head thereof a little way off; and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi; and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go.
“And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit.
“And it came to pass that they did come unto me and partake of the fruit also.
“And it came to pass that I was desirous that Laman and Lemuel should come and partake of the fruit also; wherefore, I cast mine eyes towards the head of the river, that perhaps I might see them.
“And it came to pass that I saw them, but they would not come unto me and partake of the fruit.
“And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood.
“And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.
“And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.
“And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
“And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.
“And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.
“And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed.
“And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.
“And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.
“And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.
“And now I, Nephi, do not speak all the words of my father.
“But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.
“And he also saw other multitudes feeling their way towards that great and spacious building.
“And it came to pass that many were drowned in the depths of the fountain; and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads.
“And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.”
JOSEPH SMITH, SR. VISION IN 1811…
“I thought,” said he, “I was travelling in an open desolate field, which appeared to be very barren; and while thus travelling, the thought suddenly came into my mind, that I had better stop and reflect upon what I was doing before I went any farther. So I asked myself, what motive can I have in travelling here, and what place can this be? My guide who stood by me, said; ‘this is the desolate world; but travel on.’ The road was so broad and barren, that I wondered why I
shallshould travel in it; for, said I to myself, broad is the road, and wide is the gate that leads to death, and many there be that walk therein; but narrow is the way, and straight is the gate that leads to everlasting Life, and few there be that go in thereat.” I travelled a short distance farther, and came to a narrow path; I entered it, and traveling a shortproceeding some distancefarther, beheld a beautiful stream of water, which ran from the east to the west. Of this stream, I could see neither the source nor the outlet<its mouth>; but as far as my eyes could extend, I could see a rope running along the bank, about as high as a man could reach; and beyond me was a low but very pleasant valley, in which stood a tree, such as I had never seen before: it was exceedingly handsome, insomuch that I looked upon it with wonder and admiration: its beautiful branches spread themselves, somewhat, in the form of an umbrella; and it bore a kind of fruit, in shape, much like a chesnut burr, and as white, or whiter than snow: I gazed upon the fruit with considerable interest— presently the burrs or shells began to open, and shed their particles, or the fruit which they contained, which was of dazzling whiteness. I drew near and began to eat of it, and I found it delicious beyond description; and, as I was eating, I said in my heart, I cannot eat this alone, I must bring my wife and children, that they may partake with me. Accordingly, I went and brought the family; which consisted of a wife and seven children; and we all commenced eating and praising God for this blessing— we were exceedingly happy, insomuch that our joy could not easily be expressed. While we were engaged in this manner, I beheld a spacious building, standing opposite the valley that we were in, which building appeared to reach to the very heavens. It was full of doors and windows, and they were all filled with people that were very finely dressed: when these people observed us in the low valley, under the tree, they pointed the finger of scorn at us; and treated us with all manner of disrespect and contempt. But their contumely we utterly disregarded. I soon turned to my guide, and inquired of him, the meaning of the fruit. He told me it was the pure love of God shed abroad in the hearts of all those who love him and keep his commandments. He then commanded me to go and bring the rest of my children— I told him we were all there. ‘No; he replied, ‘look yonder, you have two more, and you must bring them also.’ So I raised my eyes, and I saw two small children, standing some distance off. I immediately went to them and brought them to the to the tree; and they commenced eating with the rest; and we all rejoiced together. The more we eat the more we seemed to desire, until we even got down upon our knees, and scooped it up, eating it by double-hand-fulls. After feasting in this manner a short time, I asked my guide what was the meaning of the spacious building that I saw. He replied, ‘it is Babylon, it is Babylon; and it must fall: the people in the doors and windows, are the inhabitants thereof; who scorn and despise the saints of God because of their humility.’
Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845 – relating Joseph Smith, Sr’s. Vision (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1845), 53-55.