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Historical Revisionism in the Mormon Times

May 11, 2010

There is some serious historical revisionism in a recent article of the Mormon Times as FAIR apologist Michael Ash discusses the lack of relationship between the Native Americans and the Book of Mormon peoples.  In this article he appears to be trying to downplay the significance of this belief that was actually a central part of the revelations proclaimed by Joseph Smith and deeply connected to the Book of Mormon itself.  Ash states:

The traditional LDS folk-belief asserts that the Lehites arrived to a nearly vacant New World, with the possible exception of some Jaredite survivors and the Mulekites. This tradition implies that virtually all Native Americans are descendants of exclusively Book of Mormon peoples. This assumption — like many other assumptions about the Book of Mormon — comes from a naive reading of the text that was filtered through the 19th century misunderstanding of the human migrations that populated the ancient New World.

What Michael Ash views as merely a “traditional LDS folk-belief,” an “assumption,” a “naive reading of the text,” or a “19th century misunderstanding” was explicitly taught as revelation by early Mormon leaders and etched for future generations into permanent written Proclamations from the twelve apostles of the church to “all the Kings of the World, to the President of the United States of America, to the Governors of the several States, and to the Rulers and People of all Nations” (p. 1).

Let the Government of the United States also continue to gather together, and to colonize the tribes and remnants of Israel (the Indians), and also to feed, clothe, succor, and protect them, and endeavor to civilize and unite; and also to bring them to the knowledge of their Israelitish origin, and of the fullness of the gospel which was revealed to, and written by, their forefathers on this land; the record of which has now come to light…  (p. 11)

We testify that the foregoing doctrine is the doctrine or gospel of Jesus Christ, in its fullness; and that it is the only true, everlasting, and unchangeable gospel; and the only plan revealed on earth whereby man can be saved.  We also bear testimony that the ‘Indians’ (so called) of North and South America are a remnant of the tribes of Israel; as is now made manifest by the discovery and revelation of their ancient oracles and records. And that they are about to be gathered, civilized, and made one nation in this glorious land.  They will also come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and of the fullness of the gospel; and they will embrace it, and become a righteous branch of the house of Israel [emphasis mine]. (p. 2-3)

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93 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2010 4:00 am

    Lehi’s group could have arrived on an already populated continent, and the entire Book of Mormon could have taken place in a small area, and most Native Americans today could still have them as ancestors somewhere in the line – even with no traceable DNA signature.

    That’s just the way DNA works. This isn’t an episode of CSI.

    As for the beliefs of Joseph Smith and other earlier leaders – they were all over the place. Your attempt to paint this as there being a unified viewpoint in the 1800s is just plain wrong. Even Joseph Smith embraced a number of different possibilities for the location and scope of the Book of Mormon peoples.

  2. May 11, 2010 6:40 am

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

    Great laugh Jessica and you to Seth.

    Heep lying to your self Seth.

  3. May 11, 2010 7:21 am

    Wow jm.

    How many brain cells did it cost you to write that cogent response?

  4. May 11, 2010 5:17 pm

    Historical Revisionism is rampant in the LDS Church. Just look at how many changes they have made to the BOM and Doctrine and Covenants. Unfortunatel for them, the knowledge and writings regarding the early LDS teaching about the American Indian/Lamanite connection is to well known and documented for the LDS Church to go back and alter the source documents. Otherwise, if their history is any indication, I am certain they would do so with this teaching as well.

    Darrell

  5. May 11, 2010 5:22 pm

    Oh, and that’s never happened with Protestants or Catholics. Right Darrell?

    As we all know, there have never been any corrections made to the Bible, right?

    That said, I don’t know exactly what is being revised in Mike Ash’s article. It seems to me that the folks at FAIR typically do a better job of explaining Mormon history in full context than most of the countercult ministries I’ve encountered.

    So I wouldn’t call it revision – just actual historical study. Something a lot of people seem to be ignoring in favor of ideology.

  6. May 11, 2010 6:22 pm

    Seth,

    Ash’s article is a vain attempt to rewrite history. Since the LDS Church can’t go back and change the source documents which demonstrate clearly that they have repeatedly taught the American Indians to be the Lamanites, church apologists and scholars are attempting to re-define the teaching and belief by downplaying the significance of it in LDS history. Again, if the documents weren’t as widespread and available as they are, I am sure the LDS Church would simply go back and change them the way they have the done others in the past.

    In addition, there is no comparison between rewriting source documents (such as the D&C) to correcting translations based upon new found Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. Nice try though Seth.

    Darrell

  7. May 11, 2010 7:38 pm

    Oh sure there is. You’re just ignoring what an utter mess first and second century Christian record keeping was. Not that I expect you to admit this.

  8. May 11, 2010 7:38 pm

    And as I said, Native Americans could all be “Lamanites” even without any Middle Eastern genetic markers.

  9. May 11, 2010 7:58 pm

    Seth,

    Yeah, and O.J. was innocent and Bill Clinton didn’t have …. with “that” woman. Keep the faith, Seth! 🙂

    Oh, and in case you haven’t checked lately, we have source documents back to the 2nd century and they match fairly accurately with the text in the Bible. On the other hand, we also have the originals to the Book of Commandments, and they don’t match very well at all with the modern D&C.

    Darrell

  10. May 11, 2010 8:13 pm

    Let me know when this conversation is ready to move beyond “just take Darrell’s word for it.”

  11. May 11, 2010 8:22 pm

    I’m not sure what the heck you mean by that Seth, but hey, if that’s the only retort you can come up with, okay. But, if that is all you have to say, you really shouldn’t castigate JM for his response as yours isn’t any better.

    Have a good one!

    Darrell

  12. May 11, 2010 8:29 pm

    Darrell, if you’re not going to provide much, you shouldn’t expect much of a response.

  13. May 11, 2010 8:37 pm

    Seth,

    Any impartial reader can readily tell that the only one who hasn’t provided much in this coversation is you. Your basic response is, “Well, the Lamanites the American Indians could be the Lamanites.” I’m sure that took you a while to come up with, but it really doesn’t work for much of a defense.

    Other than that, you have given nothing more than a few smart aleck reponses that are better suited for the amateur comedy hour at the local pub than for an intellectual conversation.

    Good day my friend.

    Darrell

  14. May 11, 2010 8:42 pm

    Yeah, well the thing is Jessica’s post here doesn’t even make her own point.

    Mike Ash called the idea that Lehi and company arrived on a nearly deserted continent a folk doctrine.

    In response Jessica provides some official LDS statements that….

    Well, what do ya know….

    They DON’T actually say anything about the continent being deserted, or Lehi’s group being the only genetic source for all Native Americans.

    Fancy that…

  15. May 11, 2010 10:17 pm

    They DON’T actually say anything about the continent being deserted, or Lehi’s group being the only genetic source for all Native Americans.

    You actually expect someone from the early 19th Century to talk about genetic sources and whole continents? Talk about pushing a modern expectation onto a historical quote!

    Jessica’s quotes demonstrate her point quite well. The early LDS Leaders most certainly taught that the American Indians are descended from the Lamanites. There are countless quotes that can be shown to demonstrate this fact, e.g., Smith and Young even talked about sending missionaries to specific groups of people they referred to as the Lamanites.

    Unfortunately for Mormons the documents which demonstrate this belief are in widespread circulation, so the Church can’t simply go back and alter the source documents like they have with the D&C. Instead, the Mormon apologists and scholars are taking a different tact (quite unsuccesfully I must add) by trying to redefine what the early leaders meant. Nevertheless, any impartial reader can readily tell that they meant. Consequently, Mormon apologists have a severe uphill climb on this one.

    Darrell

  16. May 11, 2010 10:26 pm

    “You actually expect someone from the early 19th Century to talk about genetic sources and whole continents? Talk about pushing a modern expectation onto a historical quote!”

    Exactly Darrell!

    Exactly.

    So why is Jessica trying to do exactly that here?

  17. May 11, 2010 10:28 pm

    Instead, the Mormon apologists and scholars are taking a different tact (quite unsuccesfully I must add) by trying to redefine what the early leaders meant.

    I add that they also atempt to portray this early teaching as “Mormon Folk Lore” rather than exactly what they believed it to be: revelation. Interesting that Mormons would be willing to concede that Smith and Young would be sending people to serve as missionaries to the BOM people based upon “folk lore.” Especially when the supposed “folk lore” was started BY THEY THEMSELVES PROCLAIMING REVELATION. Amazingly, the attempt to redefine it as “folk lore” has been prompted by modern scientific discoveries.

    Darrell

  18. May 11, 2010 10:31 pm

    So why is Jessica trying to do exactly that here?

    Jessica, correct me if I am wrong.

    She is saying that the early LDS Leaders proclaimed to know by revelation that the american indians are descended from the Lamanites. Something we know today to be false.

    What did you think she was saying?

    Darrell

  19. May 11, 2010 10:38 pm

    No, you don’t know it to be false today Darrell. As I said, every last Native American on the continent could have a Middle Eastern link somewhere in the family tree without any discernible trace of it today.

  20. May 11, 2010 10:44 pm

    Besides, you don’t appear to be reading Mike Ash’s quote very carefully either.

    He never claimed that modern Native Americans don’t have a Lehite link someplace in the family tree. All he said was that Lehi’s party was not the SOLE, EXCLUSIVE, ancestor for modern Native Americans. Oh, and he also attacked the idea that the continent was unpopulated when Lehi arrived.

    Tell me Jessica, can you produce some quotes definitively stating that the continent was not populated already when Lehi arrived. Any revelations?

    How about some revelations stating that Native Americans have their SOLE ancestry from Lehi’s group (or the Mulekites)?

    As Darrell correctly notes, early Mormons didn’t exactly have modern genetics on the brain – so good luck finding a viewpoint modern genetics can actually refute. But I won’t hold my breath.

  21. May 11, 2010 11:01 pm

    I disagree. The chance of what you are talking about is so infinitesimally small as to make it beyond ridiculous. There are no reputable non-Mormon scientists who take the stance that there is any chance whatsoever that the American Indians are of Hebrew descent. The only ones who believe this to be even a remote possiblity are those with an ideological axe to grind. It has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the Lamanites did_not_exist.

    Darrell

  22. May 11, 2010 11:06 pm

    As Darrell correctly notes, early Mormons didn’t exactly have modern genetics on the brain – so good luck finding a viewpoint modern genetics can actually refute. But I won’t hold my breath.

    Setting up a straw man here Seth… nice try.

    Early LDS Leaders believed and taught as prophecy that their neighbors (American Indians) were Lamanites. Now, all of a sudden, the LDS Church apologists want to change it to, “No, they weren’t NECESSARILY the Lamanites. That was folk lore, not a revelation. The Lamanites are a very, very, very, small group of people in Central or South America.” Nice try. Bottom line… Smith and Young’s claims were bunk.

    Darrell

  23. May 11, 2010 11:25 pm

    Actually, you are distorting the position of modern geneticists Darrell.

    Walk up to a geneticist today. Ask her if modern population genetic tracing is capable of definitively identifying all genetic sources for any living person today. Ask her if it will EVER be possible for population genetics to do this.

    Let me know how that goes for you.

  24. May 11, 2010 11:30 pm

    I am not a DNA expert so any claim that I make would just be a rehash of someone else’s material but I have a couple of questions about a limited geography model for the BoM.

    As I understand it the Nephite population was between 300,000 and 1.5 million in the first century BC. When you compare that to say Rome’s first century AD population of 1 million the logistics of providing for such a population seems daunting.

    Now if you maintain a limited geography and look at the population estimates of 50 million for all of Central and South America in 1492 it seems difficult to argue that the Nephite DNA would not show up in one of these concentrated population areas. Like I said I am not a DNA expert but I would expect that a concentration of 300,000 to 1,500,000 people would have an impact on the local populations DNA.

  25. May 11, 2010 11:31 pm

    No Darrell, the apologists are not trying to say modern Native Americans are not Lamanites.

    They are saying that that is not the only – or even the dominant genetic source for Native Americans.

    This dog won’t bark Darrell. We’ve had qualified, published, and respected geneticists tackle this issue and they shot it down.

    I know the ex-Mormon community was almost wetting itself with excitement a few years ago over this. You’d think they’d found the secret plans to the Death Star or something. But Southerton’s grasp of both Mormon scholarship and what the actual Book of Mormon text says was full of holes. Almost none of his conclusions have any bearing whatsoever on the claims of the actual Book of Mormon.

    Now, rather than the definitive proof that ex-Mormons with an axe to grind THOUGHT they had, they are reduced to lame whimpering about how – if you read statement-X from Joseph Smith in just the right lighting, it kinda, sorta, maybe looks like a hint of a vague sort of revelation that Lehi is supposed to be the sole genetic source for all Native Americans. And maybe then, all your dreams can come true.

    It’s nice to have dreams, I guess.

  26. May 11, 2010 11:39 pm

    Gundeck, the position of modern Mormon scholarship is that Lehi and company arrived on a continent already populated. Over a short period of time, they integrated into the much larger surrounding population and any realistic chance of traceable Lehite DNA was lost – almost within a few generations. Nephi’s line seems to have become something of royalty or a political elite. So the resulting people became “Nephites.” But only because Nephi’s group became culturally and politically dominant – there wasn’t much genetic about it.

    The same sort of integration, diffusion, and assimilation happened on the Lamanite side of things.

    When you add the very real possibility that the people of Zarahemla were not – as they claimed – really from Jerusalem (which I consider quite likely), the genetic trace becomes even more difficult.

    Add to this a massive genetic bottleneck from smallpox brought by the Spaniards, and… well…

    It’s next to impossible to find any Middle Eastern DNA – even if there once was any.

    The main problem with the DNA critiques is that they do not address the actual likelihoods under the existing Book of Mormon text. Any Book of Mormon scholar will freely acknowledge that the primary genetic source for Native Americans is Asian.

    But they’ll also tell you that this data point is quite beside the point.

  27. May 11, 2010 11:47 pm

    Sorry, Seth… you and LDS apologists are the one distorting it. What Smith and Young taught and claimed as revelation is painfully obvious, and it doesn’t line up with what the Mormon Apologists are now claiming. Early LDS Leaders believed THEIR NEIGHBORS to be the Lamanites, not some small group of people in Central and South America.

    The recent change in LDS claims regarding the BOM peoples is almost laughable, and the fact that some still teach it as fact almost makes for a case study in how ideological commitments can distort ones view of reality.

    In addition, when you combine the utter lack of any DNA evidence with the fact that there is absolutely no hint of Jewish culture in any of the Native American civilizations and you have a pretty open and shut case.

    Yes, dreams are nice, but fortunately, Christianity is not based upon dreams. Mormonism on the other hand…

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  28. May 12, 2010 12:10 am

    Gundeck,

    Your point about population growth is a good one. I did some readings a couple of years ago about how unrealistic the population growth detailed out in the BOM of Mormon is. I will try and relocate some of the articles.

    Another point regarding numbers… according to the BOM there were over 1 million people who died in the battle on Hill Cumorah. The LDS Church has told us that the Hill Cumorah where this battle took place is the very Hill Cumorah in upstate New York. Where are the bodies?

    Darrell

  29. May 12, 2010 12:13 am

    Seth,

    My last two posts posted before I saw your last post. We must have been typing at the same time, or I didn’t refresh my browser. I have a question for you…

    Is it your claim, and the claim of the scholars you propose to follow, that the Lamanites and Nephites were so small in number as to have their DNA utterly washed out by the much larger population of peoples who you believe to already be in America (those whom you believe to be of Asian descent)? Is this your position?

    Darrell

  30. May 12, 2010 12:22 am

    “Tell me Jessica, can you produce some quotes definitively stating that the continent was not populated already when Lehi arrived. Any revelations?

    How about some revelations stating that Native Americans have their SOLE ancestry from Lehi’s group (or the Mulekites)?”

    Seth, that wasn’t the point of the post. Michael Ash says that this folk belief or tradition (of believing the Lehites arrived to a nearly vacant new world) is what caused Mormons to assume that the Native Americans were descendants of exclusively Book of Mormon peoples and, therefore, Jewish. This is very misleading. It wasn’t a folk belief or a tradition, but outright revelations from Joseph Smith and other early Mormon leaders. They believed the Native Americans were Jewish and should be taught about their Israelite origins. It sounds like you are making the argument that the Native Americans very well might have a strand of Jewish DNA somewhere that we cannot detect. I honestly don’t know how to respond to that.

  31. May 12, 2010 1:14 am

    It wasn’t a folk belief or a tradition, but outright revelations from Joseph Smith and other early Mormon leaders.

    Bingo. Well said Jessica. The way Smith, Young, and other LDS Leaders talked they were PRIMARILY descended from the Lamanites.

    Smith – “And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them…” (D&C 28:8)

    Smith – “And that which I have appointed unto him is that he [Parley P. Pratt] shall go with my servants Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer, Jun., into the wilderness among the Lamanites.” (D&C 32:3)

    Smith – “And thus you shall take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of aMissouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.” (D&C 54:8)

    Smith – “He [Moroni] said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang.”

    Young – “There is a curse on these aborigines of our country who roam the plains, and are so wild that you cannot tame them. They are of the House of Israel…

    Kimball – “You Polynesians of the Pacific are called Samoan or Maori, Tahitian or Hawaiian, according to your islands. There are probably sixty million of you on the two continents and on the Pacific Islands, all related by blood ties. The Lord calls you Lamanites…

    Funny how none of these quotes say anything about the “half-Lamanites,” the “one-third Lamanites,” or the “Asiatic-Lamanites.” But of course, it simply had to be folk-lore started by ignorant early LDS. It couldn’t possibly be Brother Joseph, Brother Brigham, or the other “prophets” who did it through “revelation.”

    Darrell

  32. May 12, 2010 1:58 am

    I fail to see what calling the Native Americans “Lamanites” has to do with claiming they got their sole genetic heritage from them.

    Darrell, that is an accurate enough summary of my view.

    And Mormon scholars do claim to have found Israelite parallels in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures like the Maya and Olmec.

    As for Cumorah:

    http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon/Hill_Cumorah/Archaeology

  33. May 12, 2010 2:43 am

    Seth,

    The answer regarding the Hill Cumorah is pitiful and misleading. Past leaders of the church have proclaimed the hill in NY to be the Hill Cumorah in the BOM.

    The “evidence” mormon scholars claim to have found connecting Mayans to Jewish cultures is pitiful. Again, only Mormons with an ideological commitment find any merit to it.

    Last, past church leaders used the word Lamanites when describing the American Indians precisely because they believed them to be the primary ancestors of the Indians. All the modern Mormons attempts to rewrite history on this count are nothing more than vain attempts to save Mormonism. Much the same as the church’s past rewriting of JS History and D&C to remove embarrassing info. Bottom line, Smith and Young weren’t really getting revelations from God, because they weren’t prophets.

    Darrell

  34. May 12, 2010 2:47 am

    Well, if Darrell says it’s pitiful, then I guess that settles it.

    At this rate, we won’t even need Wikipedia. We’ll just ask Darrell.

  35. May 12, 2010 2:58 am

    More comedy with no substance. Nice.

    Seth, why don’t you show us all those references by Mormon leaders to the Asiatic Lamanites? After all, if we take your word and the word of all the apologetic saviors of Mormonism for it, that must be what the past leaders thought.

    Darrell

    Darrell

  36. May 12, 2010 3:02 am

    Seth,

    And while your at it, link us to all the studies by non-Mormon, peer reviewed, scholarly articles demonstrating the overwhelming connection between ancient American cultures and Jewish cultures.

    Darrell

  37. May 12, 2010 3:04 am

    Darrell, I provided an entire article with multiple arguments, quotes and citations.

    And the best you could come up with was a muleish “well, that’s just pitiful.”

    Yes Darrell, there is indeed something “pitiful” here. Three guesses what.

  38. May 12, 2010 3:04 am

    I hate posting on an iPhone. You can’t proofread your posts. I quit! 🙂

  39. May 12, 2010 3:12 am

    Seth,

    You linked to FAIR. I’m not going to waste my time thumbing through their website. I’ve spend hours reading their drivel. If you have statements from a non-Mormon archeologist or anthopologist stating that there are definitive connections between ancient American cultures and Jewish cultures link us directly to it. Otherwise, just admit there are no such archeologists or anthropologists. Just a lot of spin from FARMS and FAIR.

  40. May 12, 2010 3:14 am

    I didn’t read it. But I know it’s pitiful!

    They’re just “spinning” things!

    Don’t ask me how I know.

    I am Darrell, and I can’t be bothered to make an actual argument.

  41. May 12, 2010 3:27 am

    No, that would be you Seth. Can’t provide any proof bjust link to a FAIR article that provides the proof of “Well, the Mormon church has never said that the Hill Cumorah in NY is the one in the BOM.”

    Chances are, when an article starts off with a lie, the rest of it won’t be that valuable.

    Stop being lazy Seth. Link us to the non-Mormon articles that prove the connection.

    Still waiting for the links Seth.

    Still waiting.

    Darrell

  42. May 12, 2010 3:41 am

    BYW Seth. Don’t try to make it out like you linked to an article that provides evidence of an Israelite/ancient American connection. Your article, which I read, was about Hill Cumorah. My point was, I am not going to spend hours thumbing through FAIR bull, especially when the one article you referenced contains lie.

    Again, if you have evidence from non-Mormon scholars, archeologists, or anthropologists provide it. Otherwise, stop talking about how much evidence there is.

  43. May 12, 2010 3:54 am

    Yes Darrell, FAIR is a lying spin machine.

    And conveniently, that means you don’t need to use your brain this evening. Wonderful thing – labels. Just like how if an article comes from a Mormon scholar, it must automatically be invalid. Therefore, Darrell doesn’t need to read any of the articles.

    Well, I think this can speak for itself.

  44. May 12, 2010 3:57 am

    Apparently Seth has no evidence from any non-Mormon scholar, anthropologist, or archeologist. Just as I thought.

    So much for all his talk about evidence.

    It’s late. I’m going to bed.

    God bless all.

    Darrell

  45. May 12, 2010 3:59 am

    You do that Darrell. Maybe after a good night’s sleep you’ll have the capacity to read that that big scary FAIR article.

  46. May 12, 2010 4:09 am

    Seth,

    You really are ridiculously obtuse.

    I already told you I read it.

    Now, link us to some evidence for the Israelite/American Indian connection. Your link had nothing to do with that. Did you even read your own article?

    Ate you really that dense, or are you just trying to be funny?

  47. May 12, 2010 4:13 am

    And the links need to be to non-Mormon scholars, anthropologists, or archeologists. People with no ideological axe to grind cwr are talking about scientific evidence you claim exists so the. Links should be easy to find. You don’t need FAIR or FARMS as ling as the evidence meets the objective standards of the scientific field in question, which any real evidence will readily meet.

    Good luck. You’ll need it. 🙂

    Darrell

  48. May 12, 2010 5:49 am

    Oh good. You read it.

    Now, did you have a response to it?

    I don’t see why I need to present a non-Mormon source on this. Either an argument is compelling or it isn’t. It shouldn’t matter who wrote it. As I’ve said before, non-Mormon scholars simply don’t tend to be interested in the topic.

    I don’t ask you to provide a non-Christian scholar for every bit of Bible history or archeology do I?

    Nope. Because I don’t care if the scholar was Jewish or Evangelical or whatever. I only care about how compelling their conclusions were.

  49. May 12, 2010 2:43 pm

    Now, did you have a response to it?

    Seth, do you even read what people write before responding?

    I have already responded to the article. First, it is addressing Hill Cumorah, not an Israelite/Native American connection. I am still waiting for a link to a non-Mormon scholar, anthropologist, or archeologist who speaks to the overwhelming evidence for this connection.

    Second, the very first sentence in the article is not true. Leaders of the church have spoken to the fact that Hill Cumorah in upstate NY is the very Hill Cumorah in the BOM.

    Marion G. Romney, Oct 1975 General Conference:

    In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “hill Cumorah.” (Morm. 6:6.) On July twenty fifth of this year, as I stood on the crest of that hill admiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to the events which occurred in that vicinity which occurred some twenty five centuries ago–events which brought to an end the great Jaredite nation.

    Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, Pg 174. Also found in Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pgs 232-241

    Both the Nephite and the Jaredite civilizations fought their final great wars of extinction at and near the Hill Cumorah (or Ramah as the Jaredites termed it), which hill is located…in the western part of the state of New York … Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and many early brethren, who were familiar with the circumstances attending the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in this dispensation, have left us pointed testimony as to the identity and location of Cumorah or Ramah.

    James Talmage, Articles of Faith, Pg 260

    The final struggles between Nephites and Lamanites were waged in the vicinity of the Hill Cumorah, in what is now the State of New York, resulting in the destruction of the Nephites as a nation, about 400 A.D. The last Nephite representative was Moroni, who, wandering for safety from place to place, daily expecting death from the victorious Lamanites, wrote the concluding parts of the Book of Mormon, and hid the record in Cumorah. It was the same Moroni who as a resurrected being, gave the records into the hands of Joseph Smith in the present dispensation.

    While I appreciate the rest of the article (it cites different BOM geographic theories, etc.), nothing in the article really speaks to my point. Leaders of the church have told us that the Hill Cumorah in NY is the Hill Cumorah in the BOM, and the church has yet to excavate the remains of any of the Lamanites/Nephites who supposedly died there in battle.

    Why? Well, as I see it, there are two possibilities.

    1) The prophets who spoke in the past regarding this were wrong, and the hill really exists somewhere else. This is pretty much the position of modern day Mormon scholars. While they will never admit that the prophets who spoke in the past were wrong and instead twist the truth (as evidenced by the very first sentence of the article), the evidence speaks to the contrary. Consequently, this paints a very bad picture of the prophetic mantle the Mormon Church Leaders claim to hold. Especially given the biblical judgment called upon those claiming to be prophets who provide false revelation.

    2) There was no such battle, because no such peoples existed. This one speaks for itself.

    As to your contention that you need not provide any non-Mormon sources, I am sorry Seth, but your reasoning on this point is simply flawed, and the reality of your inability to provide such sources demonstrates the weakness of your claim to evidence.

    There are plenty of non-Christian anthropologists, scholars, and archeologists who point to the people and places in the Bible and do research in and around the Middle East based upon the writings in the Bible. Why? Because the Bible has historical value. There is ample evidence that many of the places and people described in the Bible existed. As a result, non-Christian researchers need not hold to the theological faith claims of the Bible to find historical value in it.

    The same cannot be said for the BOM. There are NO non-Mormon scholars, archeologists, or anthropologists who even remotely believe that any of the people or places spoken of in the BOM even exist. There is not one geographical spot on the planet that can be pointed to that matches the BOM lands. In reality, when asked about people known as the Lamanites, Nephites, Jaredites, etc. and their places and languages, non-Mormon scholars, anthropologists, archeologists, and linguists chuckle because they know it to mere fantasy.

    Now, you claim they have no interest in it, and on this limited point, I agree with you. However, we likely disagree as to why they have no interest in it. You appear to believe they have no interest in it simply because they have not taken the time to research the wealth of evidence that exists. I find this claim to be rather arrogant, because we are talking about people who are professionals in their fields. The fact that not even one non-Mormon can be found to stick up for the existence of an Israelite/American Indian connection speaks volumes on this point. Are ALL non-Mormon scholars, archeologists, anthropologists, and linguists that ignorant and uninformed? I doubt it.

    I believe the better possibility is that they have no interest in it because there is nothing to have any interest in. There is no real evidence. Much the same as to why scientists have no interest in researching unicorns: there is no evidence that they existed so why waste time on it.

    Time will tell who is right Seth.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  50. May 12, 2010 3:09 pm

    Darrell, actually many Mormons I know would simply say they are wrong. Is there a problem with that? Why should I take these statements as decisive? Seems to me that all three men were simply assuming the name based on popular useage, and not on any particular revelatory authority.

    I couldn’t find your Talmage quote in my copy of Articles of Faith. What chapter is it in? But anyway, here’s another quote from him on the subject:

    April 1929: James E. Talmage, General Conference

    “I sometimes think we pay a little undue attention to technicalities, and to questions that cannot be fully answered with respect to the Book of Mormon. It matters not to me just where this city or that camp was located. I have met a few of our Book of Mormon students who claim to be able to put their finger upon the map and indicate every land and city mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The fact is, the Book of Mormon does not give us precise and definite information whereby we can locate those places with certainty. I encourage and recommend all possible investigation, comparison and research in this matter. The more thinkers, investigators, workers we have in the field the better; but our brethren who devote themselves to that kind of research should remember that they must speak with caution and not declare as demonstrated truths points that are not really proved. There is enough truth in the Book of Mormon to occupy you and me for the rest of our lives, without giving too much time and attention to these debatable matters.”

    Good advice, if you ask me.

    Incidentally, if you are going to compare the Bible with the Book of Mormon, you have to be fair about it.

    The Bible is not a single unified book – but rather a collection of different smaller books and records.

    Tell me Darrell, how does the historicity of the Book of Mormon stack up against the historicity of the Genesis account?

  51. May 12, 2010 3:16 pm

    And I wonder how many archeologists you’ve actually met that you can say they would simply “chuckle” about the evidence.

    My guess is that you haven’t met any, and are simply making things up here based on your own assumptions.

    Final point – I never claimed there is a “wealth of evidence.” In fact my position has always been that the Western Hemisphere is pretty much an archeological black hole. There is stuff there, but no one really knows exactly what it means. Mesoamerica has a unique history, distinct from the Middle East enough to make most comparisons between the two quite beside the point.

    And since you seem to have conveniently forgotten our earlier debates, let me ask you again – do you worship Zeus Darrell?

    Because – by your own standards of historicity – there is just as much archeological and historical evidence for Zeus as there is for Jehovah.

  52. May 12, 2010 3:32 pm

    Seth,

    Your comparison is hilarious. You want to compare a document that supposedly takes place between 600 BC – 400 AD to a document from nearly 3000 years earlier. It is amazing what lengths you have to go to in order to try to give some sense of credence to the BOM.

    Well, just off the top of my head I can point out that Canaan exists and Egypt exists. So, at least two of the places spoken of in Genesis are real. As to the BOM, well…. that is a different story.

    Now,let’s be more historically honest and accurate in our comparisons. How about we compare the people, places, and events in 3 Nephi to those in Matt, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. Both documents are from about the same time. We have ample evidence for the people, places, and events in the books of the Bible. We don’t have jack for the people, places, or events in 3 Nephi.

    Not matter how you look at it, the BOM fails.

    Darrell

  53. May 12, 2010 3:44 pm

    Yes Darrell.

    And the American continents exist too. So I guess that must speak in favor of the Book of Mormon.

    And Palmyra exists too. That must mean Joseph Smith is a true prophet – because he was a REAL person, and lived in REAL places!

    By the way Darrell – there were also such places as Troy and Athens.

  54. May 12, 2010 3:53 pm

    Because – by your own standards of historicity – there is just as much archeological and historical evidence for Zeus as there is for Jehovah.

    Not at all. Show me any records of a man claiming to be Zeus walking the earth, eating, talking with people, and performing miracles. Because, as you know, we have records of a man claiming to be Jehovah doing all these things. We have historical records containing eye-witness accounts. As I pointed out earlier, this record carries historical value that even those who discount its supernatural claims use. In addition, bear in mind that we have extra-biblical evidence that this person, Jesus, existed. So much so, in fact, that virtually every reputable scholar believes that He DID in fact exist. So, simply in terms of comparing the weight of evidence, your claim is unsubstantiated.

    Darrell

  55. May 12, 2010 3:59 pm

    “Show me any records of a man claiming to be Zeus walking the earth, eating, talking with people, and performing miracles.”

    I’m sure I could if we had access to ancient Greek psychiatric documents.

  56. May 12, 2010 4:06 pm

    And Palmyra exists too. That must mean Joseph Smith is a true prophet – because he was a REAL person, and lived in REAL places!

    Show me any non-Mormom anthropologist and archeologist using the BOM to do research in the America’s. Show me ANYONE in a professional field who isn’t LDS who gives any credence to the Israelite/American Indian connection, and then we’ll talk. You can’t do it. so instead you reach for these ridiculous comparisons (a 5000 year old document to one only 1400 years old).

    Keep reaching Seth… any impartial reader can see how ridiculous your comprison is.

    Darrell

  57. May 12, 2010 4:07 pm

    And incidentally, we do have accounts of guys walking around claiming to be the “son of Zeus” and performing miraculous feats of heroism.

    Go figure.

  58. May 12, 2010 4:08 pm

    I’m sure I could if we had access to ancient Greek psychiatric documents.

    If that’s what your defense has come to, I guess the conversation is over. 🙂

    Darrell

  59. May 12, 2010 4:29 pm

    And I wonder how many archeologists you’ve actually met that you can say they would simply “chuckle” about the evidence.

    Check out The Bible Versus The Book of Mormon to see just a few.

    http://sourceflix.com/the-bible-vs-the-book-of-mormon/

    Darrell

  60. May 12, 2010 4:30 pm

    My point is Darrell, you don’t really have any definitive proof of the Bible’s faith claims based on historic or archeological records. No more proof than of the Book of Mormons FAITH claims.

    You can throw out the story of the witnesses like it’s solid-gold proof – but it really isn’t. In fact, it’s been attacked and deconstructed just about as thoroughly as Evangelical apologetic chop-shops have attacked the LDS story of witnesses. In fact, it’s always been amusing to watch Evangelical apologists use pretty-much the same arguments against Mormon witnesses that atheists are using against the witnesses of Jesus ascension.

    But then again, self-awareness has never exactly been the counter-cult world’s strong suit.

  61. May 12, 2010 4:35 pm

    The “Bible vs. The Book of Mormon” video Darrell?

    Are you even serious?

    Well, if that’s a good representation of your viewpoint, then no wonder I feel like I’ve been talking to a pile of obnoxious rocks.

    I thought it was especially cute how they hand-picked a standard clueless Mormon to beat up on in the video and then threw out bog standard counter-cult drivel at him like “the Deuteronomy test” for prophets. Any Mormon who has been debating on the Internet for more than a year or two pretty much knows how to shoot that piece of idiocy down. But their hand-picked Mormon idiot just sits there staring at his Bible with a furrowed brow.

    All the video really proves is that counter-cult tactics tend to work on ignorant people.

  62. May 12, 2010 4:46 pm

    Seth,

    You’ve proven once again how little you actually pay attention to what people write or point you to prior to responding. You are obviously more interested in using snide humor in your reponses than in actually conversing.

    In all your hurry to discount and try to get in some pot shots, you watched the wrong video clip. Try again.

    I just have one question for you Seth… Have you ever seen the video The Bible Versus The Book of Mormon?

    Darrell

  63. May 12, 2010 5:27 pm

    My point is Darrell, you don’t really have any definitive proof of the Bible’s faith claims based on historic or archeological records. No more proof than of the Book of Mormons FAITH claims.

    Okay, let me say this… I can really understand your point here. The evidence we have for the historicity of the Bible is not solid gold proof that the supernatural events claimed therein actually happened. I concede that much.

    However, here is a point to consider. While I must take the supernatural claims of the Bible on faith, that faith is under girded by evidence. We have multiple eye-witness accounts, the places that have been found, the multitude of manuscripts, etc, etc, etc. The weight of evidence for the Bible is overwhelming. As a result, believing that Jesus rose from the dead may take faith, but it is not blind faith.

    However, the claims for the events in the BOM have no evidence. In fact, they would be much closer to the category of Zeus you pointed out earlier. None of the places have been found, none of the records of the people have been found, none of the languages have been found, etc. There is not one shred of evidence for the BOM peoples or places to which any reputable scholar outside of the Morman faith gives credence.

    As a result, the faith it takes to believe in the BOM account is much, much closer to a blind faith. As such, I put it in the category of a cleverly designed myth as spoken of in 2 Peter.

    For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

    Darrell

  64. May 12, 2010 6:59 pm

    OK, I regret the “obnoxious rocks” remark and apologize for that.

    As for the other stuff, this is not something we are going to agree on Darrell.

    For me the FAITH claims of the Bible are light years more important than the historical incidentals. To focus on the latter at the expense of the former is to miss the point of scripture entirely. This is exactly what the new atheist movement has been doing with the Bible (and Mormon scripture occasionally), and a wide swath of Christian apologetics has, unfortunately, been playing right into their hands. To play these archeology games is to pretty-much concede the field to the secularists and agree to their rules of engagement.

    This is dangerous ground, and both of our religions are losing members to a defeatist sort of secularism by demanding the paradigm you are pushing here.

  65. gloria permalink
    May 12, 2010 7:05 pm

    Wow, Ash said that? Wow.

  66. May 12, 2010 8:06 pm

    Seth,

    Apology accepted. Thank you.

    You are correct; we may never come to agree on this topic.

    In my view, I see the problem with Christianity to be quite the reverse. Over the last 150 years there has been a rampant dumbing down of Christianity in response to the so called attacks from the scientific community. The philosophy of Naturalism has become prolific, and instead of emabracing science, reason, and evidence and using them to respond and demonstrate to people that Christianity is an intellectually viable faith, Christians retreated inward, and embraced a bifurcation of faith and reason, i.e., faith cannot be proven or reasoned and to try and do so is looked down upon as sinful. In reality, this move itself is nothing more than sinful, intellectual laziness and leads to many, many problems.

    Okay, faith saves, but how do I determine if I have faith in the right thing? Does all faith save? What if I express faith in the sun? Will it save me from eternal damnation? Is it as valuable as faith in Christ?

    How about if I express faith in something that we know to be false, e.g., will faith that a car won’t hit me if I step out in front of it actually protect me from being injured?

    How do determine the value of one type of faith over another? How do we judge between them? How do we determine which, if any, religion is accurate and true to reality?

    Yes, faith is great; but it is only the RIGHT KIND of faith that has any real, eternal, and lasting power. We need to and have actually been commanded to use reason, logic, and evidence to make sure our faith is in the right thing.

    Faith will never run counter to logic, reason, and evidence… all of these things are creations of God and he expects us to use them all. Afterall, He has said, “Love the Lord with all you heard, with all strength, and all your mind.”

    Thus, I cannot accept Mormonism. Reason, logic, and evidence demonstrate that it is a myth.

    Darrell

  67. gloria permalink
    May 13, 2010 1:03 am

    Seth,
    I’m glad to see you apologizing, you are refining your inter faith dialogue skills. That is sincerely good to see!

  68. faithoffathers permalink
    May 13, 2010 5:40 am

    Late to this party.

    It is implied that Joseph Smith claimed that the ancient Nephite civilization occupied the whole continent. In no way is that justified.

    Oliver Cowdery was the one who started calling the hill near Palmyra “Cumorah.”

    What were Joseph’s statements on the topic?

    He said the following:

    1. Lehi landed “a little south of the Isthmus of Darien.” (Times and Seasons, Sep 15, 1842 , 3:922) Darien was the old name for Panama.

    2. He identified “Central America, or Guatimala” and said that “the city of Zarahemla, burnt at the crucifixion of the Savior, and rebuilt afterwards, stood upon this land.” (Times and Seasons, Oct 1, 1842, 3:927)

    3. He named Palenque and Quirigua in Southern Mexico and Guatemala as BOM cities- (Times and Seasons Spe 15, 1842, 3:914)

    4. Joseph identified the Land of Bountiful as being in Central America as described in the independent personal journals of William McBride and Andrew Hamilton- both associates of the prophet.

    5. These two men, McBride and Hamilton independently entered detailed maps in their journals outlining the travels of the prophet Moroni as taught to them by Joseph. The maps agree precisely and describe Moroni’s travels from Central America to Palmyra New York. Joseph told both these men that Moroni walked that distance and dedicated future temple sites along his route (interesting thought given the presence of the Angel Moroni atop all the temples). (Donl Peterson, The Book of Mormon: Forth Nephi Through Moroni, p 244-247). These maps are in the Church archives.

    Of course people speculated about where the BOM took place. People are people. Some ideas that may have not been true took root and were accepted by significant numbers of members. I think Ash’s characterization is reasonable.

    The question about whether the Native Americans could have genetic input from Lehi is a totally different question than where the BOM took place. It is possible for these tribes do have some DNA originating from Lehi even though the Nephite civilization existed in Central America. I am not saying they do have DNA from Lehi, but the two questions are totally different.

    There are many who know more about DNA than me, but I have a Bachelors as well as a graduate degree in Biochemistry and molecular biology. The authors who criticize the BOM on the basis of DNA make truly ridiculous arguments. They are based on the most simple and basic concepts that do not fairly represent reality.

    The problem is that they are attempting to compare modern Native Americans (assuming they have significant genetic input from Lehi) with modern Jews in Israel and others of the Near East.

    The problems arise as a result of the following:

    1. We don’t know whether the Native Americans (as if they are a single demographic/genetic entity) have any genetic input from Lehi. (They assume the hemispheric model is the one outlined in the BOM).

    2. We have no way of determining the DNA content of a man from the tribe of Joseph living in Jerusalem 600 B.C. Between 600 B.C. and today, the population of Jews- or those occupying Israel was drastically reduced as a result of wars, genocide, and disease many, many times, creating genetic bottle-necks through which a more limited set of genes survived. These periods are separated by impressive population expansions in times when it was very common for “Jews” to intermarry with surrounding peoples. The end result of these phenomena is very significant dilution of the genetic pool and even disappearance of certain haplotypes, or genes.

    3. A very significant percentage of “Jews” living in Jerusalem today are descendants of Jewish converts from Eastern Europe from hundreds of years ago, further shifting and diluting the genetic characteristics of “Jews.”

    4. Significant mixing occurred in the Americas as well as drastic population reductions, not unlike those seen in the Jewish population in the Near East over the same period.

    The “DNA evidence” is a hoax. It is impossible for any genetic tests we have today to disprove the BOM. It has been shown that the majority of Jews around the world cannot be identified as “Jews” based on DNA analysis. Southerton et al. make enormous assumptions and allow their obvious bias to undermine almost any reliability of their work.

    Sorry so long.

    fof

  69. May 13, 2010 1:42 pm

    When I think of a “traditional LDS folk-belief,” I think of things like Cain = Bigfoot, or “All of the men who martyred Joseph Smith suffered horrible, mysterious deaths years later.” That the Israelites were the principle ancestors of the Native Americans isn’t a “folk-belief,” it was the dominant Mormon position for the entire nineteenth century and a good chunk of the twentieth century. It was repeatedly articulated by LDS General Authorities as an authoritative revelation from God with (supposedly inspired) patriarchal blessings instructing men to preach to the Lamanites, which they always interpreted as “the Indians.” The “speculation” band-aid is not going to fix that. It was about as much of a “folk-belief” for Mormons as infant baptism for cleansing newborns from sin was a “folk-belief” for the traditional Christian world.

    I don’t mind at all that Mormons have revised their position on this; in fact, I welcome it. But please let’s not make it sound like this was just some folksy little tradition that circulated among those bumpkin members who didn’t know better than to think that Israelites were the principle ancestors of Native Americans. The ones who were naively misunderstanding the Book of Mormon text were the prophets and apostles of God—Joseph Smith included.

    FWIW, I agree with Mike Ash that theories of the Lamanites not being the principle ancestors of the Native Americans were in circulation long before DNA science, but I haven’t studied the issue enough to know whether or not the DNA debate pushed those theories into the dominant position.

  70. May 13, 2010 2:12 pm

    Seth,

    You asked:

    I couldn’t find your Talmage quote in my copy of Articles of Faith. What chapter is it in?

    Sorry, I meant to respond to this earlier. It is in Chapter 14 on page 260 about half way down the page. It is the 1965 edition of A Study of the Articles of Faith and says on the title page, “By James E. Talmage, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church.” It is published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    The quote reads:

    The final struggles between Nephites and Lamanites were waged in the vicinity of the Hill Cumorah, in what is now the State of New York, resulting in the destruction of the Nephites as a nation, about 400 A.D.

    Personally, I find it very disingenuous to attempt to pass this off as some country bumpkin folk-lore. After all, the book is published by the church and lists the author as One of the Twelve Apostles. They certainly give a lot of authority to his writing, as the church would never dare publish anything with which they disagree.

    Bear in mind also that this teaching has been given from the pulpit in General Conference. The quote I provided from Marion G. Romney during the 1975 Conference demonstrates as much.

    Darrell

  71. May 13, 2010 2:44 pm

    Yeah, but the way Romney gave it, it was obviously just something he was assuming and not meant to be pushed as dogma. If you’d walked up to him afterward and asked him if a Mormon is required to assent to Cumorah being in that location, he probably would have blinked a few times startled, replied that it is not, and then asked you why you weren’t paying attention to the rest of his talk – particularly the more important spiritual points he was making.

  72. May 13, 2010 2:51 pm

    Seth,

    I agree with in in that I don’t think Romney or any past Leader of the Church would have said that the belief that Hill Cumorah in NY is the Hill Cumorah from the BOM is necessary for salvation or membership in the church. However, they did teach it as correct and as truth that had been revealed. As such, to pass it off as folk-lore or as something that the church has never declared, which your FAIR article did, is a lie.

    Darrell

  73. May 13, 2010 3:02 pm

    There are actually two claims you are making here Darrell:

    1. There was nothing “folk doctrine” about the “Lehi as almost sole ancestor for the entire American continents” and

    2. For FAIR to claim otherwise is “lying.”

    I disagree with both claims. But I think establishing #2 is going to prove a lot harder for you.

  74. May 13, 2010 3:10 pm

    As for #1, the problem is that it’s a very, very complex claim – consisting of several parts that you seem to be conflating in one. It assumes a lot of modern scientific context that past Mormons were not privy to.

    It assumes that if Joseph Smith were knowledgeable of modern genetics, he would have posited Lehi and company as the primary or sole genetic source for all Native Americans. I don’t know how you can confidently claim this.

    It also assumes that Joseph was making archeologically authoritative statements to begin with. I don’t think he was doing any such thing. His views were all over the place on this. It seems clear that his main concern was to create a transcendent spiritual narrative for his surroundings and NOT to make authoritative statements on geography. I’m quite confident that Joseph Smith would have been fully approving of the scholarship modern Mormon scholars have been doing here. He always acted like a kid in a candy shop any time a new scientific or archeological breakthrough occurred.

    Your statements also assume a degree of academic precision that I simply don’t think past Mormon leadership had in mind. Most Mormon notions of geography at the authoritative level were vague at best. The primary concern was always the spiritual narrative and not the archeological particulars.

  75. May 13, 2010 4:03 pm

    Okay, Seth. My apologies as I think we have a couple of different conversations going, and my comments may have been confusing. Today, I am speaking specifically to the Hill Cumorah issue.

    My assertion is that the article you linked to on FAIR’s website is, at best, misleading. They state:

    “First, it is not the case that the Church authoritatively identifies the drumlin in western New York as the same Hill Cumorah mentioned in the text of the Book of Mormon.”

    The church has spoken repeatedly, in very authoritative fashion, i.e., books by general authorities and comments from the pulpit, about the Hill in NY being the Hill from the BOM. As we all know, the church’s stance regarding this issue did not change until recent years. In fact, I don’t think the church has ever come out and formally corrected what past leaders have stated regarding Cumorah. Does anyone know of any statements by General Authorities SPECIFIC TO THE HILL CUMORAH in which they state that it is NOT NECESSARILY in upstate NY? The only comment I am aware of is the modern broad claim to take no official stance regarding the location of the events in the BOM.

    As is repeatedly the case, LDS apologists take the modern church position and attempt to portray it as the one and only stance the church has ever had. They try to quietly put to bed the fact that past prophets and leaders took a different position and communicated it as authoritative. After all, they never want to say a past authority was “wrong,” as it would cast a bad light on the prophetic mantle of the church and would cause faithful members to question the reliability of the church’s revelations. Unfortunately, this comes across as an attempt to downplay bad info by sweeping it under the rug. Something the church is well known for doing.

    Darrell

  76. May 13, 2010 5:47 pm

    A quote of interest to this discussion:

    Jan. 1, 1890: George Q. Cannon (First Presidency)

    “There is a tendency, strongly manifested . . . among some of the brethren, to study the geography of the Book of Mormon. . . . We are greatly pleased to notice the . . . interest taken by the Saints in this holy book. . . . But valuable as is the Book of Mormon both in doctrine and history, yet it is possible to put this sacred volume to uses for which it was never intended, uses which are detrimental rather than advantageous to the cause of truth, and consequently to the work of the Lord. . . .

    The brethren who lecture on the lands of the Nephites or the geography of the Book of Mormon are not united in their conclusions. No two of them, so far as we have learned, are agreed on all points, and in many cases the variations amount to tens of thousands of miles. These differences of views lead to discussion, contention and perplexity; and we believe more confusion is caused by these divergences than good is done by the truths elicited.

    How is it that there is such a variety of ideas of this subject? Simply because the Book of Mormon is not a geographical primer. It was not written to teach geographical truths. What is told us of the situation of the various lands or cities of the ancient Jaredites, Nephites and Lamanites is usually simply an incidental remark connected with the doctrinal or historical portions of the work and almost invariably only extends to a statement of the relative position of some land or city to contiguous or surrounding places and nowhere gives us the exact situation or boundaries so that it can be definitely located without fear of error…

    The First Presidency has often been asked to prepare some suggestive map illustrative of Nephite geography, but have never consented to do so. Nor are we acquainted with any of the Twelve Apostles who would undertake such a task. The reason is, that without further information they are not prepared even to suggest [a map]. The word of the Lord or the translation of other ancient records is required to clear up many points now so obscure….

    For these reasons we have strong objections to the introduction of maps and their circulation among our people which profess to give the location of the Nephite cities and settlements. As we have said, they have a tendency to mislead, instead of enlighten, and they give rise to discussions which will lead to division of sentiment and be very unprofitable. We see no necessity for maps of this character, because, at least, much would be left to the imagination of those who prepare them; and we hope that there will be no attempt made to introduce them or give them general circulation. Of course, there can be no harm result from the study of the geography of this continent at the time it was settled by the Nephites, drawing all the information possible from the record which has been translated for our benefit. But beyond this we do not think it necessary, at the present time, to go, because it is plain to be seen, we think, that evils may result therefrom.”

    George Q. Cannon, “Editorial Thoughts: The Book of Mormon Geography,” The Juvenile Instructor 25 no. 1 (1 January 1890)), 18–19.

  77. May 13, 2010 6:35 pm

    Interesting… his position regarding the BOM is that the BOM lands are unidentifiable and that statements by the Brethren regarding the BOM lands are their mere opinion. Here’s the thing though: his statement falls within its own frame of reference and is, as a result, his own opinon. Therefore, I guess his position is no more binding upon the church than James E. Talmage’s.

    Just a funny observation.

    Darrell

  78. May 13, 2010 6:49 pm

    Exactly Darrell.

    I don’t consider Talmage’s words or McConkie’s words any more binding on the Church than Cannon’s. People tend to assume a unity of opinion in LDS authorities that I do not think, on closer examination, is really there. One has only to read the recent biography of President David O. McKay to realize there were some rather hot disagreements going on among the brethren, and probably always have been.

    All too often, what happens among believing LDS, is that they encounter a certain selection of authoritative-looking books that they enjoy and which resonate with them, and then they just assume all the other writings from General Authorities out there agree with the narrow slice they have encountered. I don’t think this is a warranted view, although it does seem to be common among the membership.

    Bruce R. McConkie was actively advised AGAINST publishing his book “Mormon Doctrine” by several of his fellow apostles – some of whom wanted David O. McKay to prevent him from publishing it. McKay, having a rather soft touch as a leader, did not do so and the book went to press. The worry of the other apostles was that people would take the book as the be-all-end-all of what Mormon doctrine really is – that they would consider it to be the definitive first, best, and last word on the subject. Unfortunately, this is exactly how many faithful LDS took it.

    But it was not any such thing. Nor did McConkie’s views always definitively represent those of the official Church. Some noted portions of that book were so inflammatory and so blatantly just his own opinion, that he was forced to issue retractions in later editions.

    This is just a dramatic example of my overall point. Which is that I almost never take a book by an apostle as the last word on a Gospel subject, and I always test how it stacks up with the much more authoritative scriptures (as best I can). I also do not take General Conference talks as the last word either. I consider them to be highly persuasive, and authoritative commentary on the scriptures. But I don’t give them the same binding force.

  79. May 13, 2010 7:45 pm

    Interesting, but I think you are missing my point. His position on the geography of the BOm that everybody’s position on the geography of the BOM is just their opinion is just his opinion. In other words, his statement falls within its own frame of reference and is self-defeating. Thus, it can be disregared as utter gibberish.

    In reality, the whole thing is sad. The church has changed their position because they recognize that there is no location (despite what the early leaders taught) which matches the BOM site for Hill Cumorah or anything else. In reality, the truth is right in front of them, but they refuse to see it due to ideological committment. 😦

    Darrell

  80. May 13, 2010 8:18 pm

    What truth Darrell?

    That Mormonism sucks and we should all be Lutherans instead?

    Don’t expect to be taken seriously when you are doing nothing more than finding wordy ways of restating “I’m right – so there!”

  81. May 13, 2010 8:41 pm

    What truth? The truth that there were no Lamanites or Nephites and that the BOM is a work of fiction.

    Seth, I don’t expect you to take me seriously. I know your mind is not open to the possibility that the Mormon Church is anything other than what it proclaims to me. Nevertheless, it is still fun talking, and it is mainly for the benefit of the lurkers anyway.

    God Bless. You are in my prayers.

    Darrell

  82. May 14, 2010 6:51 am

    It’s an interesting quote, Seth. Although, while I realize that this thread has strayed into BoM geography and it’s a related topic, the actual topic of the thread is Mormon beliefs on the ancestors of the Native Americans. Cannon doesn’t actually address that.

    Oh, and btw, Mormonism sucks and you should all join the Lutheran Evangelical Covenant Church.

    /flex

  83. faithoffathers permalink
    May 14, 2010 5:29 pm

    I think the statements from Joseph Smith should be included among the “statements from general authorities”, and his statements seem to suggest that the BOM events occured in Central America. Why are you not considering his words on the matter Darrell?

    fof

  84. May 14, 2010 6:53 pm

    Hey FOF!

    I appreciate the comments you notated from Smith, and I am not discounting them. According to McConkie, Smith also listed Hill Cumorah in NY as the Hill Cumorah from the BOM.

    Both the Nephite and the Jaredite civilizations fought their final great wars of extinction at and near the Hill Cumorah (or Ramah as the Jaredites termed it), which hill is located…in the western part of the state of New York … Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and many early brethren, who were familiar with the circumstances attending the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in this dispensation, have left us pointed testimony as to the identity and location of Cumorah or Ramah.

    As Seth and I discussed earlier, my main issue is that no locations have been identified in North, Central, or South America that can be linked via evidence to any of the events in the BOM. I realize FAIR and FARMS claim some rather (loose) ties between Mesoamerica and Israelite culture; however, to my knowledge there is not one non-LDS scholar, archeologist, anthropologist, or linguist who believes there is any evidence for such a claim (feel free to point me to some non-LDS sources if I am wrong) . I asked Seth for links to any such information and he was unwilling or unable to do so.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  85. May 14, 2010 7:08 pm

    Unwilling to put in the effort Darrell – both to educate myself on the issue and argue it with you. Can’t be everything to everyone – providing archeological evidence of the Book of Mormon was never my central argument anyway.

    I’d rather undermine your implication that archeology establishes the Bible’s faith claims than waste time trying to apply the same mistaken standard to my own scriptures.

  86. May 14, 2010 7:18 pm

    I’d rather undermine your implication that archeology establishes the Bible’s faith claims than waste time trying to apply the same mistaken standard to my own scriptures.

    Too bad you were unable to so Seth. As I pointed out, the historicity of the Bible undergirds its faith claims and makes faith in the Bible an informed faith rather than a blind faith. Or perhaps you believe that all faith, no matter how preposterous its claim, is of equal merit. If someone believes flying unicorns exist and will save their soul, is their faith as merited as faith in the bible?

    Darrell

  87. May 14, 2010 7:42 pm

    As ridiculous a comparison as Christopher Hitchens comparing God the Father to the Tooth Fairy.

  88. May 14, 2010 7:46 pm

    Seth,

    What makes having faith in flying unicorns saving a soul a ridiculous faith claim? Could it be the fact that there are issues aside from faith which contribute to its validity and merit?

    Darrell

  89. May 14, 2010 7:49 pm

    No, comparing the Book of Mormon to unicorns Darrell.

  90. May 14, 2010 7:58 pm

    I wasn’t comparing the BOM to unicorns. I was using a preposterous claim, i.e., flying unicorns saving a person’s soul, to demonstrate that there are elements outside of faith by which we (should) judge the merit of faith claims. Thus, your contention that evidence (or the lack thereof) bears no weight in establishing the merit of a faith claim is false. For, if you truly hold that position, you must be willing to admit that faith in flying unicorns is just as merited as faith in the Bible. Otherwise, how do you judge between them?

    Darrell

  91. Aaron permalink
    May 24, 2010 2:52 am

    Rodney Meldrum is my homeboy!

    Carry on…

    PS Even the BYU bookstore carries his books right next to FARMS material. FAIL.

  92. May 24, 2010 3:39 am

    Yes Aaron, I’ve noticed you’ve always had a soft spot for Mormons who portray their faith in as stupid and uneducated a manner as possible. Quite charitable of you.

  93. JRSG permalink
    July 30, 2013 11:08 am

    I know. Three years later adding to this. There is a Cherokee Tribe that flies the flag of Israel. They claim their oral tradition says they came from Masada. I can not remember the Tribes official name or where they are at. I know there is a lot of controversy about that Tribe. I also have a book by a Native American author who is not LDS, and the book is called “Red Earth, White Lies” that talks about many things pertaining to all Native Americans across the U.S. He debunks the Bering Strait theory of how Native Americans arrived in the now America’s, especially the U.S. He also talks about a Tribe in Washington state that has a necklace with Jewish/Hebrew writing on it, passed down from Chief to son, and their oral tradation is that they came by boat from the East.
    I will look later on this but read a few months ago about a non LDS scholar who has studied oral tradations of Indegenous peoples and cultures from around the world and said that Europeans (aka White people/Western raised with Western thought) have dismissed oral traditions/stories as being just stories with no fact. He has evidence that there is fact in those stories and oral traditions. I know this is not proof, but it is interesting and very conincidental. We must also remember that the Spanish Conquistadores destroyed 99.9% of all writings of the Native Americans who did have writings. Popol Vuh in a museum in Mexico City is one I remember. There are also writings of some of the Spanish Priests of the Conquistadores days who wrote down oral traditions/stories of some of the Native Americans and some had stories of a white man who taught them many things and promised to come back. The Hopi of the U.S. have such a story, they call the white man their white brother, and they even have some writings on stone tablets which they do not share as it is sacred to them.

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