I recently went back to my Middle School to visit some of my old teachers and let them know how well I am doing with my life and I had a rather unfortunate experience with my old science teacher. He is basically a good man, but believes that the Mormon Church is a cult and that all the people who are members are headed for hell. It made me very sad to listen to what he had to say about my commitment to go on a mission, and to marry a worthy woman when I return, and many other things about the Mormon Church. I was unshaken by the different things he said and sources he cited to try to debunk the doctrines of the church, but when I asked him why he thought that the Book of Mormon was untrue, he told me that there are vast differences between the original publication and the publication that the church issues today. I know that some changes have been made, but I don’t know what they are, so I wasn’t able to respond to his comment. Do you know of any place that I could find a complete list of the changes made, or even a copy of the original text so that I can see for myself?
Of course your science teacher is either trying to perpetrate what he already knows is a false statement, or he has been duped by some other critic and has not bothered to verify his statement. So, therefore, I doubt very much if there is anything that you could show him that would change his mind.
But to set your own mind at ease, the Deseret Book Co. has published a fascimile of the first edition of the Book of Mormon. This fascimile reproduces in as much detail as is possible with today’s printing technology the original first edition. Thus, you could get one from Deseret Book, and you could even present one to your science teacher friend.
Ask your science teacher to examine the differences between different versions of the Holy Bible, and compare them to the differences between the first edition and subsequent editions of the Book of Mormon and he will find that the Book of Mormon changes are essentially trivial, while the Bible changes in many cases are quite profound.
As a case in point let us compare the fourteen changes between the first edition and subsequent editions of the Book of Mormon that were made in the twenty Isaiah chapters that were copied into the Book of Mormon from the Brasss Plates of Laban. I will list below the words in the first edition that were changed, and what they were changed to in the second edition, listing all the changes that were made in these 20 chapters-
1 Ne. 20:1 Addition- or out of the waters of baptism
1 Ne. 20:4 from wert to art
2 Ne. 14:3 from them to they
2 Ne. 16:2 from seraphims to seraphim
2 Ne. 16:6 from seraphims to seraphim
2 Ne. 19:5 Addition- is
2 Ne. 19:17 from stretcheth to is stretched
2 Ne. 20:4 Addition- is
2 Ne. 23:10 from her to his
2 Ne. 23:17 from they shall not to shall they
2 Ne. 24:6 from ruleth to ruled
2 Ne. 24:27 Addition- is
Mosiah 14:3 from face to faces
3 Ne. 22:10 from people to peace
These changes were made to correct errors that the type setter had made. They were made to comply with the original handwritten copy rather than to change it. So it is obvious that your friend is grossly mistaken in his opinion that there are “vast differences” between the first and subsequent editions of the Book of Mormon. The statement made by Joseph Smith, and which is included in the introduction to the present edition of the Book of Mormon, still stands without being successfully challenged.
“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and that a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”