My first question will be, if a religious book has no historical or archaeological evidence to back it up does that in itself leave enough of a whole in the religion to not believe it?...Without determining that these places actually existed can we except that these things happened?
No! Not at all. But it certainly would cause many to understandibly wonder. We have no evidence of any place called "The Garden of Eden", yet we believe in it because it is in the bible. We have no scraps left over from Noah's ark, we dont have any idea where the ark of the covenant is, we dont know the locations of many of the OT and NT cities, yet we believe they existed. Religion is based on faith, not in-your-face proof, though understandibly proof does help.
Example: In the book of mormon, out of all the ancient citys that were supposedly existing in the Americas why is it not one of them can be found. And its not just finding them, there are no traces of them.
A legitimate question that has been asked by many LDS-critics over the past 176 years. Before adressing the question, I would like to remind you that only 55% of all the place names in the Bible have been identified, and the Bible is the most closely scrutinized book in the world!! For example, there are over 20 candidates for Mt. Sanai, we dont know the route taken by the Israelites leaving Egypt. I quote from an article:
In the final analysis the most certain identifications [of biblical place names] are still those dependent upon preservation of the ancient name, albeit with careful examination of written sources and archaeological data. Out of the approximately 475 place names mentioned in the Bible only about 262 have been identified with any degree of certainty, i.e., 55 per cent. Of these 190 are based upon preservation of the name, viz. 40 per cent of the over-all total. . . . Only 72 places (15 per cent of the over-all total) have been identified in situations where the ancient name is not to be found somewhere in the vicinity, of which only about half carry a degree of certainty, the remainder being more or less conjectural.
In this response I am making no attempt to discredit the bible. Just because I dont know where Mt. Sanai is doesnt mean it didnt exist for Moses. The NT has been around for 2000 years, and the OT for much longer. It is the most widely read book, and extensive amounts of time, research, and money have gone into locating the place-names in the bible, with minimal success. They have had to rely on the writings of neighboring nations, such as the Egyptians and Mesopotamians, for information regarding the locations of many places in the bible.
In the case of the Book of Mormon, we have had very little time to study. The Book of Mormon has been around for a mere 177 years(one year before the creation of the church I think), and for most of that time very little was known about the Mesoamerican cultures. In fact, at the time the BoM was written the very thought that those "beastly savages" had the capacity to build cities was blasphemous!! Yet we find hundreds of ancient cities, evidences for complex societies, and the more we learn the more we discover that the BoM actually painted an accurate picture of those civilizations. We barely are able to tranlsate their writings, and their is only one culuture, the mayans, that developed a writing system that fully communicated their spoken tongue, the rest were basically hieroglyphic based. The language written and the language spoken were different. So even if we find a symbol representing a city, we still dont know how they called it in their spoken language. There is much evidence for the ancient BoM cities, you just have to look for it.
An interesting example is a situation in Oman. In the first book in the BoM, 1st Nephi, we read of a place where the traveling family stops for a season called Nahom. Well this Nahom has been identified in Oman, right along the path that Nephi described his family to have taken. Google it you can find alot more.
It says that they had a coin system yet there have been no coins found.
Actually, it does not say that they had a coin system. What it does describe though, is a system similar to the egyptians where pieces of metal were valued according to their weight. The word coin does not appear in the Book of Mormon text.
Also the Book of Mormon says there were horses, elephants, and cattle in the land at that time too. The only elephants I know of exist in zoos and cattle and horses were brought here by the europeans..
Actually, there is much evidence that this was not a mistake at all. Elephant and horse remains have been found in the Americas that date back to the time of the Book of Mormon peoples. As for cattle, it is a very common practice to label an unknown animal with a more familiar name.
it is likely that these Book of Mormon terms are the product of reassigning familiar labels to unfamiliar items...The Miami Indians, for example, were unfamiliar with the buffalo and simply called them “wild cows.” Likewise the “explorer DeSoto called the buffalo simply vaca, cow. The Delaware Indians named the cow after the deer, and the Miami tribe labeled sheep, when they first saw them, 'looks-like-a-cow'” 
More can found here:
http://www.fairwiki.org/index.php/Book_ ... ms:Animals
While we recognize that this evidence is not proof of the BoM, we do recognize that it is evidence that these accusations brought against the BoM can no longer stand the tests of modern science.
The missionaries tell a person to pray about it and perhaps he/she will receive "a burning in the bosom" that what they are saying is true. The Bereans, however, checked the Scriptures to see if what Paul was saying held the truth (Acts 17:11). Should we not do the same?
Of course you should do the same! The burning in the bosom is a testimony of the Holy Spirit that the gospel is true, and one of the prerequisites for receiving this testimony is to search the scriptures, and to study them. At the end of the Book of Mormon we find these words:
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
One thing that those who are quick to point out the apparent inconsistency with the BoM teaching and the example of the Bereans is that the Bereans are said to have received the word with "all readiness of mind":
Act 17:10 ¶ And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming [thither] went into the synagogue of the Jews.
Act 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
The Bereans prepared themselves by wanting to find the truth in the scriptures. They had sincerity, real intent, and faith in Christ. Were it not so they would have ended up just like the Pharisees, who also searched the scriptures daily yet were not able to understand what they meant. Real intent and faith in Christ are required in order to be persuaded by scripture.
The very apostle who taught the folks in Berea, Paul, was himself a former pharisee. As a pharisee he knew the scriptures well, yet he was unable to understand that they were teaching of Christ all along. Merely searching the scriptures obviously was not enought to persuade him, because we know that it took a heavenly manifestation to persuade him that Christ was the Lord, not an intense bible study session. It is the holy spirit that guides to truth, the scriptures help us to develop that faith which is required to believe, belief that allows us to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Im sure you will have much to say. I apologize if I cant participate extensively, as I have a busy schedule. But I will check in and do my best.
I would ask that we choose only one topic to debate at a time, because I have found that is the best way to not skip over any details. Thank You.