One of the most creative and insulting aspects of Joseph Smith’s historical account(s) of the gold plates is that they were taken back to heaven.
Everyone investigating the LDS Church is faced with deciding about this tentative issue, and everyone is disappointed to find out that the plates are no longer here.
This is one of the most important ‘lack of evidence’ strikes the Church has against it. It cannot be proven the Book of Mormon was translated from these plates, since there is no evidence that they ever existed. Joseph Smith was listed as the Author of the Book of Mormon when it was first published in 1830. This has since been changed.
According to his own history, Joseph Smith was alone when he received the plates, and he left no specific details as to when the angel took them from him. If anyone was with him on either occasion, they have never stepped forward with an account of it.
We have no physical evidence the plates ever existed. We also have no physical evidence that any plates of a similar type have been discovered in the Americas at any time. We have unreliable witnesses. There is no geographic evidence of Book of Mormon communities. We know that certain plants, minerals, and animals mentioned in the Book of Mormon did not exist in the Americas during these times. We have evidence that Joseph Smith believed in (and practiced) magic. It is very easy to prove that most of the Book of Mormon was lifted from the Bible. We know that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, smoked, and drank at the times he was telling his followers it was wrong.
When thinking on the all-important aspect of the missing gold plates and our mind tells us ‘oh…that was convenient to his story’ (and all investigators have thought this), we should follow that initial epiphany, knowing full well the deception in all of the other areas we’ve been asked to adopt.