Mormonism is a new religion, less than 200 years old, which means many of its claims can be easily confirmed or denied by modern science. For example, even most Mormon scholars agree there’s no archaeological evidence that Jews came to America in 600 B.C., as Joseph Smith claimed, or that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Mo.
Faced with those evidentiary challenges, some Mormons have felt betrayed and left the faith. Many others, like Joanna Brooks, are trying to reconcile their religion with the science. Brooks, who’s a professor at San Diego State University and author of The Book of Mormon Girl, says she focuses on the fundamentals, such as a belief in God, and in Jesus’ role as savior.
“Other sort of fine points of doctrine, I deal with privately,” says Brooks. “And that’s not uncommon in Mormonism.”