**Did the “golden plates” actually exist at all?**
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Stephen Burnett wrote the following in a letter dated 15 April 1838 to Lyman Johnson:
"I came to hear Martin Harris state in public that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes, only in vision or imagination, neither Oliver or David & also that the eight witnesses never saw them and hesitated to sign that instrument for that reason, but were persuaded to do so."
**On August 11 1838, Warren Parrish wrote:**
“Martin Harris, one of the subscribing witnesses, has come out at last, and says that he never saw the plates, from which the book is purported to have been translated, except in vision and he further says that any man who says he has seen them in any other way is a liar, Joseph [Smith] not excepted."
On April 5, 1839 Theodore Turley challenged John Whitmer to either affirm or deny his testimony regarding the gold plates. Whitmer responded by saying the plates “were shown to me by a supernatural power” - (History of the Church 3:307).
Why would supernatural power be necessary if the plates actually existed?