I suggest that the physical object that Joseph had in his possession was not literally ancient gold plates, but plates of his own creation which talismanically represented the "gold plates" of his visions, aiding his mystical translation of those visions.
My ideas about the Divine have shifted in recent years as my spiritual practice has deepened. Here are some thoughts about how I currently interpret "God."
Who was Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844)? He's been quite an enigma both within and outside of Mormonism since his death. Many Mormons see him as a deeply gifted prophet of God, in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, and even Moses. He recorded and published new scripture, the Book of Mormon, just like ancient prophets. Many Mormons revere him as someone who restored Christianity in its purity, even the original Christian church and true gospel of Jesus. They believe he received true priesthood authority from God to perform real saving rituals, ordinances, and act as a "high priest" to bring others into the presence of God.
The ritual practice of anointing makes the person that is anointed an "Anointed One," which is what the word Christ literally means, and by derivation is what being a Christian means. Cyril of Jerusalem in the fourth century noted of those who had been baptized and anointed, "You have been made Christs, by receiving the anti-type [symbol] of the Holy Spirit [the oil]" (Catecheses 21.1). Receiving the chrism they are ritualistically made Christs, being clothed in that Name and Identity, taking it upon themselves in actual fact as their own Eternal Identity, their True Name/Self.
I see mysticism in Joseph Smith and his work at nearly every turn. Joseph united his mind and consciousness in God to such a great degree that he spoke with the voice of Christ. One only does that if one is genuinely in mystical union with God, or delusional, or a con man (a fake). I perceive Joseph was the first, and I'll share a few reasons why.