Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Best Evidence For The Book of Mormon

Previously: The 181st Semiannual Bowl of Pap


What struck me when I first arrived in Cahokia was the incredible stink.

I had been called to serve in the Missouri-Independence Mission, but my first area, Plattsmouth, Nebraska, was far from any of the historic church locations I had expected to to see when I got my call. Now, near the end of 1973, I had been transferred to my second location.  I would spend my first winter as a missionary in smelly Cahokia, Illinois; as far from Far West or Independence or Adam-Ondi-Ahman as a guy could possibly get.

The small town of Cahokia was located next to East St. Louis on the Illinois side of the Mississippi river, famous for its slaughterhouses.  The smell of bovine death and gore hovered in the air long after slaughtering had ceased for the day, floating up and mixing with the rancid smoke spewed from the smokestacks of the nearby Monsanto chemical plant, then slowly settling down over the hapless town of Cahokia to choke its residents while they slept.  "It's something you just get used to," my new companion told me.

Had I known then what I know now, I would have been delighted to find myself in Cahokia instead of dreading it.  As it turns out, I had landed smack dab in the middle of Book of Mormon Central and never even knew it.

My companion told me that Cahokia's claim to fame was some mysterious Indian mounds, humongous earthworks built up by long departed Illinois Indians for reasons no one remembers.  We never did get around to seeing those mounds because (1) with the first November snow flurries arriving, it didn't seem an opportune time for sightseeing, and (2) I wasn't really interested. Who cared about some piles of dirt left behind by a tribe of long-dead Indians?

American Indian ruins didn't interest me, but if you really wanted to light me up in those days, just get me talking about Book of Mormon geography, which, as everyone knows, took place in south and central America.  From my seminary days on, I had gobbled up everything I could learn about ancient Meso-America, and had even entertained the idea of studying to become an archaeologist so I could uncover additional evidence that the people of Central and South America were descendants of the Nephites and Lamanites.  My great dream was to one day visit the temple ruins at Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan.

Had I paid closer attention to the words of Joseph Smith when he spoke of the ancient inhabitants of this continent, I would have noticed that he said this continent, not the one below it. If I wanted to see real evidence of Book of Mormon archaeology, I would have been looking in the wrong place chasing after the Mayans and the Aztecs.  As it turns out, some of the best evidence on earth for what I was interested in was right there on the outskirts of Cahokia.  And I just blew it off.

I was not alone in not having figured that out.  The problem with trying to place cities described in the Book of Mormon anywhere in North America is that there had always seemed to be no evidence whatsoever that advanced civilizations ever existed here. Until fairly recently, that is. As I learned watching the documentary Lost Civilizations of North America, even most historians were unaware of the -pardon my pun- mounds of evidence right under their noses.

Such was the case with Dr. Roger Kennedy.  He was a professor of American history who was shocked to learn, in 1991, that massive ancient city remains were known to exist all over North America.  This guy was the director of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and he was just finding out.  I think you and I can be excused for not having heard.

Interviewed for Lost Civilizations, Dr. Kennedy says, "Very, very few of us were conscious of the immensity of Monk's Mound at Cahokia which is bigger in its footprint than the great pyramid at Giza. We didn't know that."

Evidence of huge cities with advanced architecture was once abundant from New York and the Great Lakes area, down through Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, and points in between.

"It's what I call 'hidden cities,' " says professor Kennedy, "I use the term because these were very big places. There were more people, we now know, in Cahokia across from St. Louis, than there were in London or Rome.  There were major population centers in what now are Nashville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis. There were tens of thousands of architectural consequences that are now hidden behind our junk and our architectural achievements."

Lost Civilizations of North America (you can watch the trailer here) is not a film about Book of Mormon evidence. The makers of the documentary are more interested in discovering why it is that modern Native Americans have had their heritage kept from them, and how all this became lost to history.  How is it that these "world class achievements" in the words of  Professor Alice Kehoe, which were quite commonly known of two hundred years ago, became so thoroughly forgotten?

To colonial Americans, these structures were commonplace.  They were literally everywhere.  But they didn't stay in place forever. A farmer faced with a ten foot rock wall in the middle of his claim is either going to have to plow around it or take it down.  Most took them down. Farmers were uncovering enough arrowheads as they plowed the land to fill bushel baskets, but where archaeologists would see evidence of a massive battle, the farmer saw only a never-ending nuisance.

In some instances, as happened repeatedly in what is now St. Louis, small treasures or artifacts were found buried near or within these mounds, which resulted in entire communities coming together to level the mounds in hopes of finding more.  In other cases, deliberate and wanton destruction of  structures took place for no reason other than the conviction that nothing good could have come from the Indians.  From an estimated 20-30,000 mounds and structures known to be in existence in George Washington's day, we have the remains of only about 1100 left.  The largest known plot of mounds and roads survives today only because the area was preserved within a golf course at Newark, Ohio.

Why Haven't We Known?

On my one and only visit to the Smithsonian Museum, I was surprised to learn that there is a ton of stuff at the Smithsonian that no one has yet gotten around to examining and cataloging.  The basement of the Smithsonian actually does resemble, to some degree, that fictional government warehouse seen at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. There exist unopened crates that no one knows the contents of. This was the case with most of the evidence of those large North American cities. Volumes of maps, descriptions, sketches, artifacts, and even hundreds of scrolls containing pre-columbian writing were simply lying around unexamined. And not just at the Smithsonian.

According to Wayne May, publisher of Ancient American Magazine, "Every museum, small or big, has a great quantity of stuff that is boxed up that hasn't seen the light of day for literally hundreds of years."

Modern archaeologists examining the sites of these ancient cities attribute them to a civilization known as the Hopewell Indians which covered a large swath of the interior of North america.  It's important to note that the Hopewells were not one particular tribe. The name "Hopewell" derives from a farm which was the site of an early archaeological dig.  What is known as the Hopewell Tradition embraces an entire, broad Native American culture, which takes in what are presumed to be the ancestors of a large number of modern tribes.  These people appear to overlap with those of the Algonquins, another broad category containing the Arapaho, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Delawares, Mohican, M'ik Mak, Shawnee, Ojibwa, and a score of other lesser-known tribes.


The Only Good Indian...


Some of the earliest Christian immigrants to America took seriously the biblical mandate to treat others as they themselves would want to be treated.  To them, the doctrine of Christ meant reaching out to others in love, and that included especially the "savage brutes" they found on these shores. Indians and white men living together in a spirit of respectful cooperation is the tradition we inherit from our pilgrim forbears. America, to the true Christian, was destined to become the shining city on a hill, beckoning other nations to profit by its example of living by the golden rule.

But all sweet fruit eventually turns to rot, and by the 19th century, the once pure doctrine of American Exceptionalism came to mean "everybody else better get the hell out of our way."  A new doctrine corrupted that of the shining example: Manifest Destiny, which claimed that it was God's will that the white Christian dominate the continent. Certain people were superior, and certain others were inferior.  That's just the way God manifested His will.  The destiny of the Americans was to conquer and prevail, and the destiny of others was to humbly submit.

The native inhabitants of the land were no longer seen as God's children deserving our succor, but mere savages who stood in the way of the national land grab.  It was now perfectly okay to push them out of the way, or even exterminate them if they resisted.  This push toward genocide was enthusiastically endorsed by the United States government. "What about the good Injuns?" someone is said to have inquired of General Sheridan, "Do we kill them too?"

"The only good Injun I ever saw," answered the General, "was dead."

Mormon teachings, of course, were diametrically opposed to this way of thinking.  In the words of Bruce Porter, "Joseph Smith claimed that the Native Americans were, in fact, just like the rest of us: Just as good, just as valuable, and just as important as all of the rest of us."

The spirit of Manifest Destiny pushing the unwanted Indians off her precious land.
But by the time this rebranding of American Exceptionalism was taking hold, Joseph Smith was long dead, and few Americans would have been swayed by his arguments.  To those adopting this revamping of American purpose, it was essential to view the red man as subhuman, with none of the rights God's grace bestowed on whites. Shane Mountjoy, author of Manifest Destiny, explains the reason for the shift. "19th century Americans would have found it more than inconvenient," he says, "Politically it would have been impossible for them to have taken lands away from any indigenous peoples if they viewed them as having rights even close to what they had as American citizens."

But Wayne May introduces a bit of a dilemma. "As archaeology developed as a new science, and anthropology as a new science, they would find these things, these evidences to show that there was a written language, that these people possibly did smelt iron, they did smelt copper and they mined it; they carried it in trade over great distances.  These were signs of a higher civilization.  And that higher civilization idea coming from our scientific community of the day came into direct conflict with the manifest destiny ideas put forth by the U.S. government."

Lost Civilizations of North America provides a fascinating description of how the solution to this dilemma was achieved.  The most powerful American scientist of the day was effectively bought off by the federal government in order that Manifest Destiny might roll forth unimpeded. Here then is John Wesley Powell in his book On The Limits of the Use of Some Anthropologic Data, published by the Smithsonian Institution (government funded, in case you didn't know):
"Hence it will be seen that "it is illegitimate to use any pictographic matter of a date anterior to the continent by Columbus for historic purposes." (Emphasis mine.)
In other words, nothing historical that predates the white man counts.  Such things are henceforth not to be discussed in polite scientific circles.  For all intents and purposes, all discoveries linking the Indians to a civilized past ceased to exist. The red man is a savage, and always has been; that was official United States policy, backed up by a declaration from the Smithsonian's own Grand Poobah.

But what about those hundreds of scrolls that proved Indians once had a written language?
Sorry, off limits.

Artifacts, statues, and stone tablets?
Facts not in evidence.

Lost Civilizations tells us how the effects of that ruling are still felt today:
"Native Americans even today suffer from this policy, which effectively meant that Native Americans have no history...You only have a history if it's something written down. If you have an oral tradition, that doesn't count as history."
What seems to have bothered Powell most about those pictographs is that some of them contained symbols which strongly resembled characters in ancient Hebrew and Egyptian hieroglyphs. Similarities between the East coast M'ik Maq hierglyphs and those of ancient Egyptian are particularly striking, because not only are the symbols similar, but the translations are eerily close as well. If these scrolls were to be closely scrutinized and scientists were to announce those discoveries, it might suggest that, as some Americans had been proposing, American Indians were actually descended from old world stock and the case could be made that the red man had the same rights and privileges as the European settlers.

A good many Americans claimed either English or Scots-Irish ancestry, and it was widely understood in those days that Albion's seed were descended from the house of Israel through Ephraim.  If it were to become widely accepted that the Indians were also sons of Abraham, the jig would be up. There would be no more lording it over the Indian, no matter how savage his present ways.

So all those pictographs were crated up and carted down to the sub-sub-basement of the Smithsonian and also left abandoned in the nooks and crannies of other museum basements across America. It doesn't take long for things like this to vanish from history.  All it takes is for the ones who boxed the stuff up to die off, then there's no one left to remember.

You don't have to be a Mormon to notice anthropological similarities between the cultures of the Hopewell Indians and the middle east. There are a whole bunch of scholars and amateur archaeologists who have no interest in the Book of Mormon, yet surmise from the available evidence that ancient Native Americans such as the Hopewell civilization might have traded, intermingled, or even originated from other cultures. These scholars are known as Diffusionists, and their theories are as varied as those of other disciplines. Some are convinced that these connections were the result of trade between ancient Americans and the seagoing Phoenicians, while others propose other theories.  What they have in common is the belief that contact between the Americas and other geographies may have taken place before Columbus.

That Sticky DNA Problem


Probably one of the better reasons to look at a North American setting for the Book of Mormon rather than the Central American theory is the recent discovery that little or no middle eastern DNA has been found among the native people in South America.  If anything, DNA tests appear to show that the South American Indigenous tribes have more in common with the Japanese than they do with the Jews.  On the other hand, tests of DNA obtained from cemeteries known to contain bodies from the Ojibwa tribe have demonstrated a link between the Hopewell and a people known to have lived at Galilee.  Since I'm no good at either understanding or explaining DNA research, here's a clip of from the film Lost Civilizations featuring DNA expert Debbie Bolnick summarizing her own findings:



It should be noted that Professor Bolnick, being the pure scientist that she is, has not been happy with the way some religionists have promoted her comments to support their own religious theories (such as I'm doing here). Since appearing in this documentary she has signed a letter distancing herself from some of the conclusions arrived at by the filmmaker.  That's fine.  I think her words speak for themselves. Besides, I don't see that the makers of Lost Civilizations of North America have put forth any particular religious view whatsoever.

Best Evidence

If you're looking for a compelling step-by-step presentation of the evidence for Hebrew-based civilizations on the North American continent geared specifically to latter-day Saints, you'll want to check out the website of the FIRM Foundation.  I've just finished watching their five disc Book of Mormon Evidence Series and I'm happy to announce that my love affair with the temples at Teotihuacan is officially over. What were we thinking, anyway, always featuring that architecture in our media as though a site widely believed to have been used for human sacrifices was somehow indicative of Nephite culture?

Kieth Merrill, director of the church film The Testaments, kind of wishes he could make that movie over again, this time using a proper North America setting.  Artist David Lindsley, whose painting "Behold Your Little Children" is well known to most latter-day Saints, actually created a re-do of his famous work, replacing that stupid stone temple in the background with a more accurate Cahokia-style structure:


Rod Meldrum, who narrates the video presentation, has done what I consider to be an incredible job of distilling the latest archaeological and anthropological evidence of the North American setting and explaining how some of these sites could match up with descriptions of events in the Book of Mormon.  Here's a short sample:


Meldrum and other researchers have been quite thorough in exploring every imaginable facet of the possibility of a North American setting for the Book of Mormon, and I am convinced they're onto something here.  Many of us who have long bought into the Meso-American view have done so because that appeared to be the only game in town.  Still, believing that Book of Mormon events took place in Central and South America required a lot of mental acrobatics, not the least of which was the presumption that there must have been two Hill Cumorahs.  Since that final Book of Mormon battle "obviously" took place in South America and the plates were discovered in New York, the theory went, the main hill Cumorah was somewhere in Meso-America near where the final battle took place, afterwhich Moroni schlepped the gold plates all the way up the hemisphere to upstate New York and buried them in a hill he named after that other hill back home.

Like I say, making all that fit required some suspension of belief.  Like assuming the Isthmus of Panama was the location for the narrow neck of land.  That area might look narrow to us on a map, but to the people living there it feels anything but narrow.  I lived for three years on the island of Oahu, and although I knew it was an Island, it never seemed like one to those of us who lived there. The Book of Mormon describes the narrow neck of land as capable of being  crossed by foot in a day and a half.  That fits the location Meldrum shows us near the Great Lakes much better than the Central American version, and makes a lot more sense.

E.G. Squire was one of those 19th century Americans who spent his life painstakingly describing and recording those many archaeological anomalies.  In one of his books published in 1851, Antiquities of the State of New York , Squire described how locals uncovered huge mass graves containing thousands of skeletons of men, women, and children seemingly tossed indiscriminately into those pits.  The bones crumbled at the slightest touch. These huge bone pits were located in Western New York, right where you would expect them to be in relation to the hill Cumorah.

As for the whereabouts of all those weapons? Don't make me have to explain the obvious.  As recently as my own childhood it was still a popular pastime for boys to go out into the woods to hunt for arrowheads. The pickings were getting thinner by then, but it used to be that no matter what part of the country you lived in, arrowheads and spear points were plentiful virtually everywhere, usually just inches under the dirt, and often just lying on the ground.  It was like collecting rocks.

Meldrum's North American setting provides explanations for things described in the Book of Mormon that haven't been satisfactorily reconciled by an acceptance of the Meso-American view, such as snow, hail, tornadoes, and the availability of timber. Not to mention the wide availability of cattle, horses, and yes, even elephants.  This set of screen prints gives a pretty good idea of some of the the topics covered:


By the way, you would think that after providing answers to the most persistently perplexing questions on Book of Mormon geography, those scholars who have spent their careers performing mental acrobatics trying to force that awkward Central American theory to fit into what we read in the Book of Mormon itself would be standing in line to thank Meldrum and his fellow researchers for their thorough and exhausting labors in bringing this research to light. You would think that, wouldn't you?

You are so naive.

People who have spent their entire careers trying to bring others to their way of thinking are not easily persuaded to let go of their fixed beliefs.  Many of the very people you would expect to see a lightbulb of recognition go off in their heads when they see Meldrum's presentation are the very ones who have reacted dismissively.

Apologetics Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry


Many people are confused by the term "apologetics" when used in a religious sense.  They think it implies the apologist is somehow expressing remorse.  But the word, derived from the greek "apologia" simply means defending one's position, to explain and clarify and to correct misconceptions outsiders might have about you.  A Christian apologist in the first century A.D., for instance, might want to clarify rumors that Christians were cannibals whose sacrament involved eating the flesh of other people as a tribute to their god.

"That's not quite accurate," the apologist might patiently explain, "We don't eat human flesh. We ingest bread and wine just like you do; the difference being that during our sacrament we consider those things to be symbolic of God, in that as the bread and wine are taken into the body to become part of us, so too do Christians absorb the spirit of God so that they may always have His spirit to be with them."

In the past, anti-Mormons such as Ed Decker have claimed that Mormonism is a satanic religion and one of the proofs is that LDS chapels have spires on the roofs rather than crosses so that when Jesus returns we hope to  impale him on those spires.  In response to such an accusation, a Mormon apologist would patiently explain, "No we don't, and you're an idiot."

I love Mormon apologetics.  Before the internet, my absolute hands-down favorite Christmas present to myself was the annual F.A.R.M.S Review of Books. (F.A.R.M.S. stood for the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies; a few years ago when I wasn't looking, F.A.R.M.S morphed into the less acronymic Neal A. Maxwell Institute For Religious Studies.) My all-time favorite F.A.R.M.S. reviewer was Daniel C. Peterson, the director of that institute.

Peterson, a professor of Islamic and Arabic Studies and expert in near eastern languages, had an envious ability to turn a phrase just right and wield an argument that put his opponent in his place.  I always read his stuff first. Peterson is a top-notch scholar with a delightfully dry sense of humor.

With the advent of the internet appeared another group of Mormon apologists under the name FAIR, which I confess to not being very familiar with. In recent years I've spent less of my time with Mormon apologetics because I've noticed a subtle backing away from academic honesty in some apologetic writings.  Rather than explaining and clarifying Mormonism, some modern apologists can be found engaging in the same circular reasoning and academic dishonesty they had been accusing Mormon critics of.  It's become more and more apparent to me, that rather than explaining and defending the faith, a good deal of Mormon Apologetics exists today for the purpose of defending the image of the corporate Church, and often through the use of weaselly methods.

When Rod Meldrum appeared on the scene with his compelling arguments against a Meso-American setting for the Book of Mormon, he was challenging the status quo.  Many of the same people who make up the Mormon apologetics community have been the ones most vigorously defending the Meso-American setting.  As Meldrum has pointed out, millions of dollars have been wasted on archaeological digs in South America, and some of those millions wasted were through projects financed by the Maxwell Institute, BYU, and the LDS Church itself.  Writers for the Maxwell Institute have published numerous books and conducted church members on expensive tours of "Book of Mormon Lands" in South America.  Rod Meldrum was stepping on some very big toes.

It is telling that the longest response to Rod Meldrum's thesis that I can find online does not address or refute any of the numerous evidences evident in Meldrum's video presentations, but instead focuses on an early 169 page booklet Meldrum issued on the subject of DNA research.  Even that attack is largely lacking substance, chipping away petulantly at the edges of the argument rather than refuting the basic premise. The author, Gregory smith, seems alarmed at the influence Meldrum is having among the rank and file of the church, and he expends quite a bit of space reprinting many of the glowing testimonials from members who have attended Meldrum's seminars, lamenting their enthusiasm for the understanding they've gained.  Smith is particularly mocking and dismissive of statements Meldrum has made to the effect that he has felt inspired to engage in this research.

Well, why shouldn't Meldrum feel inspired?  Smith reports on Meldrum's "inspiration" as though it is something members should be wary of; as though Meldrum had claimed to have seen a vision in a grove of trees and was in danger of leading the flock away to Voree.  Heck, I was inspired to start this blog a couple of years ago, but that doesn't mean I conversed with the Father and the Son beforehand or that I intend to go off and start my own church.  In case Smith has forgotten, we lowly, unprivileged members of the church are commanded to seek inspiration in all that we do, just like the big boys.

Smith tips his hand in this short paragraph about how enthusiastically attended Meldrum's seminars have become:
Coauthor and business competitor Bruce H. Porter told the Salt Lake Tribune that "the word is out now. There is a movement going through the church." I am wary of such "movements" that are not under the direction of the prophets and apostles. (Emphasis mine)
So there we have it.  Truth, even when based on solid archaeological evidence, is suspect if not disseminated through the proper priesthood channels. "Inspiration" is apparently now the province only of the top Church Administrators.  Lowly, unaccredited mere members are not entitled to share their discoveries or their opinions.

We should all be in favor of being exposed to new information whether it comes to us from a Mormon or a Buddhist, from a Republican or a Democrat, from a pauper or a king.

At the beginning of each of Rod Meldrum's Evidences DVDs, he is careful to include a disclaimer that the information contained therein does not represent the views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Church(TM),  does not take a position on where events described in the Book of Mormon may or may not have taken place.  The Brethren, we are constantly reminded, simply do not know.

Here's my question: Why not? Why don't they know? Aren't these guys supposed to have a direct line to God himself? Why doesn't somebody just ask Him?

I can understand a reluctance to pinpoint the precise location of certain cities and battle sites.  But are we to believe that the modern prophet of God can't even claim knowledge of the proper end of the hemisphere?  Why is everyone so comfortable with the answer that "we just don't know"?

I'll tell you who did know. Joseph Smith knew.  On numerous occasions he pointed out specific locations where he was very definite about his claims where Book of Mormon events took place.  And that's not counting all the clear scriptural references.  All of these locations were clearly declared to be in the interior of what is now the united states.  Never did Joseph so much as hint that any of the people or events described in the Book of Mormon ever occurred south of the border.

I think what irks guys like Gregory Smith more than anything is when Meldrum engages in some informed speculation.  Meldrum is careful to point out that he doesn't know for certain, but based on some very compelling scriptural and geographic detective work that is too complicated to go into here, he makes a very good case that the city of Zarahemla may very well have been located across the river from what later became Nauvoo.  If that's even remotely true, it gives me one more reason to kick myself.

Missionaries are not allowed to leave their mission boundaries, certainly never to go into another mission, and at one point during my mission a companion and I found ourselves standing on the Iowa side of the Mississippi river, looking wistfully over at Nauvoo which we could clearly see.  We desperately wanted to visit Nauvoo, but Nauvoo was the headquarters of its own mission, crawling with missionaries of its own -not to mention somewhere over there was the Nauvoo mission president.  If we had dared to sneak over, we knew that even dressed in our grubbies we would have been spotted as fellow missionaries gone AWOL, been sent home in ignominy, and probably excommunicated.  It was fear of such consequences that kept us in check.

But here's the thing.  If Rod Meldrum is even close in his estimate -and I believe he is- not only did I miss my chance to stand on historic ground in Cahokia, but it's entirely possible that while I was wishing I could be across the river with my feet planted firmly in the city of old Nauvoo, I was very likely standing on the actual site of the city of Zara-Fetching-Hemla itself, and not appreciating the irony one whit.

273 comments:

1 – 200 of 273   Newer›   Newest»
I. Willet deVale said...

Mormon Apologetics sites are the Fox News of Mormonism, and Rod Meldrum is Ron Paul.

The former only PRETEND to stand on principle, while the latter is the real thing.

Anthony E. Larson said...

Let me be the first to join my voice with yours and Rod's in placing the BOM events in the Eastern United States. I served a mission in Mexico. I visited Teotihuacan on two occasions during my 2 1/2 year stay. I was fascinated by the Maya, Aztec and Toltec cultures. But the more I read, the less convinced I was that these people had anything to do with Nephite or even Lamanite history. I seldom discussed this, since it brought out the claws in most of my fellow Mormons, who had bought the Meso-American theories and claims lock, stock and barrel. After my mission, I locked horns with Carl Chessman, a religion instructor at BYU on the issue of whether or not the Popol Vuh (the Quiche-Maya history) was an echo or the BOM. I had read it in the Spanish original, thanks to my grasp of the Spanish language. Aside from a couple of coincidental references, I reported before the entire class that there was no relationship. Boy was Bro. Chessman burned! A few years ago, my family and I visited Nauvoo on a vacation outing. My sister suggested we visit the Cahokia mounds as well. I was fascinated and intrigued by what I saw and felt there. Still, I had not made the firm connection that Rod ultimately made. But his evidence, combined with my experience and research, convinced me that he was on to something . . . and I told him so. I even suggested some research sources for him to explore, even though they were from "maverick" scholars such as Barry Fell in his "Saga America" and "America B.C." So, I am pleased to see you come out on the more reasonable side of this new debate. As you well know, I am no stranger to controversy. I don't go looking for it. But it sure seems to find me. Rod is learning what it means to swim upstream against powerful and entrenched interests within and without the church. So, thanks for your excellently written, personal take on all this. As I've come to expect, you do not disappoint.

bradcarmack said...

Thanks! Didn't know the latest on the South v. North America debate.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, so far this is what has been keeping me in the church for years now, otherwise I would go atheist. I notice when I do speak about this "evidence" to other members they seem to have the same reaction, they just shrug it off and continue with the the mind set that it is impossible to debunk this religion. Little do they realize how little this religion holds up to facts and can be debunked.

For the past year my tactic to use on other members to show how important this stuff is is by debunking this church (all the while not focusing on the gosple) philosophically and factully so they feel down and attacked and then I swoop in as their savior with this theory. I have tried other ways and none other comes across with better understanding of what this religeon really is. It is a great way to transition into what "pure mormonism" really is.

Every time you post things I love to reaserch and report to members of my ward. Unfortunantly this time I have nothing new to reserch and report. Thanks

(yes let me puff my chest out a little more here...)

Twitch said...

Long time reader, first time poster, but this post fascinated me so I did my own research. Alas, much of it has been debunked. Here's my basic critique:

Many of the actual archeologists interviewed in "The Lost Civilizations of North America" completely disagree with the overall message of the film - see below.

http://ohio-archaeology.blogspot.com/2010/12/commentary-on-lost-civilizations-of.html

Additionally, the so-called 'Holy Stones' are 19th century forgeries:

http://www.ohioarchaeology.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=255&Itemid=32

http://ohio-archaeology.blogspot.com/2011/10/responding-to-lost-civilizations-of.html

Your very own link to the wiki page about Mi'kmaq hieroglyphic writing shows the weakness and actually states "Comparison with the actual Egyptian hieroglyphs shows that Fell's claims have significant shortcomings. The description below describes the facts of the use of the Egyptian Hieroglyphs which Fell cited."

Just food for thought. It's a fascinating theory but there's still no real proof. I think overall the 'documentary' was grasping at straws and offered nothing that convinced me otherwise. What bothers me most is that it's mostly bad science, or rather, science in reverse. Instead of collecting evidence and suggesting a theory, it seems that most apologists look only for things that confirm a belief. I'm not saying it's impossible, just that I'm not at all convinced yet based solely on the evidence.

Jeremiah Stoddard said...

I dunno -- still hard to explain away the atlantes statues, and those human sacrifices do sound a whole lot like a corrupted sacrament to me. On the other hand, I was introduced to the idea of a northeast United States setting for the Book of Mormon several years back, and there's a lot of interesting stuff there too. It looks like the theory's been much more fleshed out since I last looked into it. And hey, Mesoamerica could easily have had the gospel without necessarily being Nephites, Lamanites and Jaredites -- nobody ever said those were the only dispensations on this continent!

Meh, in any case I never like to have all my eggs in a single basket. Heck, I'm even happy with the stories in the Book of Mormon being just stories -- the Lord taught in parables during His mortal ministry, why insist upon literalism in the restoration? Well, we'll probably never know exactly how things are until the resurrection, but it's fun to speculate...

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Twitch,
There is of course a vast difference between what is disputed and what is actually "debunked."

Naturally, nothing in the documentary "proves" that Lehi and his family came over from Jerusalem and founded what we know as the Nephite and Lamanite civilizations.

What is in evidence, however, is that there were massive cities on this continent built by people who knew a thing or two about what they were doing, they had a written language, and they left all kinds of interesting stuff behind.

Mass graves full of the bones of men, women and children do not prove those bodies belonged to the Nephites and Lamanites, but to those of us who believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon it certainly suggests the possibility, particularly given the age and location of those remains.

As I mentioned above, Dr. Bolnick and a few others who were interviewed for the film wanted to make it clear they were not endorsing the conclusions of the filmmakers. I never thought they were. My understanding was that they were sought out because of their particular fields of expertise, and as far as I know, they have not recanted their statements. The film's narrator pointed out that some of the experts interviewed do not subscribe to the diffusionist view. That does not invalidate their contributions, in my own view. I can find common ground with people even when I don't share their worldview.

My understanding of the so-called "Holy Stones" is that they are controversial, but they have not been proven forgeries. They have been CALLED forgeries, but proof of fraud has not been forthcoming. There is debate on both sides, which is what makes the find controversial. Both sides of the controversy are explored and discussed at length in the film, by the way.

Similarities in language and hieroglyphs do not of course prove the diffusionist theories, but I do find them of some interest and validity overall. If you watch "Lost Civilizations of North America" I think you'll find that the filmmakers presented the evidence but did not attempt to force any conclusion on the viewer.

Ron Meldrum's presentation, on the other hand, presents the available evidence of ancient civilizations and shows how what we have learned from archaeology and anthropology COULD serve to validate places and events from the Book of Mormon. But there's nothing wrong with that. That is his thesis, and I find much to recommend it.

As you say, it's all food for thought.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Jeremiah,
I believe Rod Meldrum has stated his belief that Jesus appeared to those in South America after his ressurection as well as North America because there is evidence from that area that a great white God did appear in that approximate time period.

(I'm open to that also, as I'm open to the possibility, based on legends and such, that he also spent some time in India and China. Jesus is, after all, the God of the whole world, so it makes sense.)

But I believe Meldrum's major thesis is that what we know as the Book of Mormon lands were up here in the north.

Anonymous said...

I think it's significant and important to know where the Book of Mormon took place (I also believe that it's North America), so that we understand the value of the covenant is contained therein.

But the real proof is in experimenting on the things that are taught from its pages. What does it matter where it came from if I don't get the message?

For example, why not try this out and see what happens:

Moroni 7:48
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love [charity], which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen."

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous, I certainly agree with you that it is the content of the book that counts, not how it was brought forth nor even where it all took place. But I agree with Kieth Merrill when he says that as he re-reads it now he gets so much more out of it when he can picture the approximate locations of events.

Anonymous said...

So, for us Latin American members, this means the end of all... we are not Lamanites, period. If this is proven true, then everything I have been taught is a FIASCO. I don't think that Church Co is going to allow this information go South.

Anonymous said...

Of course. It's all about the numbers at this point after all.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Some believe that a major reason the North American evidence has met with such resistance is that the institutional Church is completely invested in the South American growth. Already 20 stakes have been closed in Chile for lack of attendance. If the membership comes to realize they're not Israelites, but Japanese, the exodus could only grow worse.

What I wonder about is how the first Japanese settlers ended up in South America. No one is asking that question.

Zo-ma-rah said...

Awesome. I was waiting for this post. All that boxed up information sounds fascinating. And here I was thinking I wanted a go at the Church archives. I converted to the North American theory a couple years ago. Before that I was a western hemispherian. And you have to admit that "narrow neck of land" is the "isthmus of Panama" is a conclusion pretty much anyone with a world map would jump to. Which is probably why the western hemisphere and then the mesoamerican models have taken such a strong hold.

I think the biggest thing we should be looking at is the Spiritual and prophetic information. The Book of Mormon is a trial of our faith before we receive more. If we have concrete evidence then where is our faith?

But I glad to see that Zelph may be redeemed. I must admit that Zelph and Onandagus are my favorite Post Book of Mormon, Pre-restoration, North American characters. And as far as I know that actual location where the "Zelph" skeleton was found is disclosed.

One thing I've come to understand is that science is just like politics. New theories, new information, new evidences maybe be completely rejected because they upset the status quo. So it's best to come to your own conclusions rather than relying on what is commonly accepted by science. And when it all comes down to it that's all that we really have, our own interpretation of reality. That's all anyone has.


Also about the rejection of new evidence I believe some similiar things are happening with egyptology. The egyptologists only allow certain information out. Like the when they deny the existence of the Jewish temple on Elephantine Island. It's all politics.

Lastly, Rock, I hope you know that I dearly love Voree. I want to go there some day and see the old temple site. And any of you who want to join my Church of Spear Jesus With our Steeples-day Saints can come too. But seriously I do want to visit it.

Anonymous said...

The DNA video actually proves that the Hopewell remains were not Nephites or Lamanites:

http://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/comments/lx3ab/alright_exmos_this_is_the_last_thing_i_need/c2wavjk

http://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/comments/lx3ab/alright_exmos_this_is_the_last_thing_i_need/

LDS Anarchist said...

Rock,

Isaiah prophesied the following:

"Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken." (Isa. 33: 20)

So, you must have been mistaken when you wrote, "Already 20 stakes have been closed in Chile for lack of attendance." How is it possible that "not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed" if 20 stakes have been removed?

;)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Zomarah,
I share your love for Voree. It just seemed like an obscure enough reference to use in the piece, so I went with it.

When my son went on his mission to Wisconsin, at one point he was located near Voree. I wrote and suggested he go check out the Strangite headquarters, but he did not have my knowledge or interest in that branch of the Restoration, so he had no real impetus to visit them. Kind of like me and the Cahokia mounds.

Anyway, I envied Rick for being close enough to Voree to visit when it was something I would have given my eyeteeth for. But you know these kids today. They don't appreciate anything.

Anonymous said...

Can you be more specific about what artifacts have been found? You check them off in the list of evidence (items 31, 32, and 33 above) yet I have not heard of anything being found that convinces me. Arrowheads are not proof, that's for sure! With all the wars and battles described in the Book of Mormon and all the thousands killed, there would definitely be something left as evidence. Also how about all the problems with horses (chariots and more) being mentioned in the Book of Mormon that didn't exist at that time and crops that weren't grown back then and so on (metals that didn't exist)?
Also, Bro. Waterman, do you honestly believe that the Book of Mormon is a book containing ACTUAL history?

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that it is just 'common sense' that we would start any research of the BoM civilizations in New York, where the greatest piece of evidence was found to be uncovered.

Where the plates were buried & found is proof that someone or some of those ancient people were there at some point.

And it's only common sense to assume that the Hill Cumorah where the plates were found is the one mentioned in the BoM.

Thus why would anyone not begin their research from Hill Cumorah & assume that the area there would be rich with clues, as Rock as pointed out it is. And then spread out from that point & if clues lead you to central america so be it. But why would you jump way down there where it is so far away from the place where the biggest clues were found in New York?

The second greatest clue or evidence that we have is what Joseph Smith believed & said about it all, for if anyone would have had a sense of where this all took place, he would, for he personally talked with someone who lived there, the Nephite 'Moroni', not to mention he was the one who dug up the plates & understood how they got there.

Those who know he was a true Prophet would assume he would be the one to listen to 1st & foremost.
If he had a belief that these scenes took place in North America, why in the world isn't anyone listening to him?

Maybe for the same reasons no one listens to or takes seriously what he really said about polygamy either.

Thanks for the great enlightenment Rock.

karl waterman said...

I wanted to become an underwater archaeologist.
explore all the wells in south America, you know where all the dead were dumped from all the n and L wars.

Anonymous said...

"And it's only common sense to assume that the Hill Cumorah where the plates were found is the one mentioned in the BoM."
This has been absolutely, completely debunked. There would be a tremendous amount of archeological evidence left to support this if it were true, but there is zero, zip, nada, none.

There is a great discussion on this blog going on over on the New Order Mormon Forum for anyone who is interested in discussing it:
http://forum.newordermormon.org/viewtopic.php?t=23433

Jeremiah Stoddard said...

Hey Rock, on the Asian connection; I visited a small town in Mexico called "Tala" a few years back, in between visiting a bunch of other archaeological sites throughout the country. This wasn't really a tourist site, we just heard rumors from some people as we were driving through the state and decided to make a detour to see if there was anything to them. We got directions from some people in town and ended up at a place where the side of a hill had been dug out and in the remnant looked like there were some buried stone structures.

We asked the locals what had happened and they told us that it was an old burial site and that the archaeologists had dug up and carried off a massive statue of Buddha. Given the lack of care of the site, I suspect they were more grave-robbers than legitimate archaeologists, but thousand year old Buddha statues in the Americas is sort of interesting...

Anonymous said...

"Maybe for the same reasons no one listens to or takes seriously what he really said about polygamy either."

And just exactly what DID Joseph Smith say about polygamy? That it was ok to marry other men's wives (after he sent them off on missions)? That it was ok to marry teenaged girls as young as 14? Again, exactly what are you referring to? Do you even know your facts on this?

Look up "The Wives of Joseph Smith" and follow the link for the truth about this:
http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/

Most of these wives are also listed on lds.org as Joseph Smith's wives. This is all very well documented.

Anonymous said...

You do know that this is in direct conflict with what the church now believes and teaches, right?

They still promote the Central American theory for the location of the Book of Mormon events (if they promote anything as there are a tremendous amount of problems with this theory too).

But, the theory of the Book of Mormon taking place in North American has been so utterly and completely debunked that this is quite embarrassing Rock!!

Almost as embarrassing as you believing that Joseph Smith never practiced Polygamy!! Wow! Next you'll be stating that Joseph Smith actually experienced the first vision (oh wait! which of the many versions of this "vision" would you be referring to!)???

livy111us said...

I am curious, why are you comparing the Cahokia to the Nephites? The Cahokia civilization didn’t even *start* until centuries after the Nephites were destroyed. To make any comparison between the two is like saying Columbus used GPS to find America while driving a yacht, or that the Pilgrims used the internet to find out how best to cook their first thanksgiving dinner. Just because to people occupy the same territory hundreds or even thousands years apart does not make them one and the same. Many of the mounds, human bones, and other “evidences” shown in the “Lost Civilizations of North America” are coming from the Cahokia, not the coinciding civilization of the Hopewell. I am not sure why they are attempting to make that connection because it is not very honest if you ask me. Most North American theorists try to claim that the Hopewell were the Nephites. But this also is a stretch. They do overlap in time but not by much. The Hopewell started “around 100 BC and lasting to AD 500.” (Encyclopedic dictionary of archaeology By Barbara Ann Kipfer Springer; 1 edition (April 1, 2000), pg 242)
The Hopewell were also a very small population who lived in small villages, not large cities like the Nephites did. In the heart of the Hopewell, there was an average of 1 person per square mile (North American archaeology, Timothy R Pauketat, Diana DiPaolo Loren, Wiley-Blackwell (January 4, 2005) pg 113) Again, this is during the time period of The Book of Mormon. Later cultures were much larger. Archaeologists have stated that “the Ohio Hopewell appear to be compiled of small groups most likely extended families, who practiced early horticulture and lived in small dispersed communities.” (The Scioto Hopewell and their neighbors: bioarchaeological documentation and Cultural Understanding (Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology) By D. Troy Case, Christopher Carr, Springer; 1st Edition. edition (July 24, 2008) pg 8) and their “villages could not have held more than a hundred people.” (Prehistory of the Americas By Stuart J. Fiedel, Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (May 29, 1992) pg 242)
Compare this small population who lived in tiny villages to the huge cities in The Book of Mormon which held tens of thousands of people, and battles which involved millions of people. There is no way that the Hopewell would have the numbers to even fight one major battle mentioned in The Book of Mormon.

As mentioned before, the archaeologists in the “Lost Civilizations of North America” were very upset with the video and some even sought legal counsel. They have pulled together and have publicly denounced it over and over. They are currently writing a 3-part rebuttal to it in the Skeptical Inquirer, which can be found online. Again, I think that they used dishonesty to try to prove their point.
The original post dismissed Dr. Greg Smiths review of Rod Meldrum with the wave of a hand by saying it was “lacking substance.” Greg spends a little time on what he believes Meldrum to be stating revelation on the subject, but then spends a major chunk dismantling Meldrums theory on subject at a time. He shows how Meldrum mis-uses information to say something entirely different than what it actually means. He shows that Meldrum has been making a fortune from this endeavor, while those reviewing his work don’t make a dollar, nor don’t even subscribe to any particular BOM geography theory. He shows that his DNA argument holds absolutely no water and is not supported by facts. He does a great job at showing the many, many flaws in his argument. Perhaps people should read it themselves and come to their own conclusions. http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=22&num=1&id=793

Unknown said...

Part II


I also find it interesting that Rod has no education in genetics and is trying to use it to support his view. Actual LDS geneticists, who have no opinion on Book of Mormon geography do not support Meldrums views. In fact, they have been stating for years that he is wrong in his conclusions. What do these faithful LDS geneticists have to gain by claiming he is wrong? It does not matter one way or the other where The Book of Mormon took place, so why are they doing it? I think the answer is obvious.
Joseph Smith statements have been a target for Meldrum and his supporters as a seemed evidence for their geography theory. But, they fail to notice that Joseph Smith also taught that The Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica, North America outside of Meldrums geography theory, and elsewhere. In November 1841, Joseph Smith wrote a letter to Bishop Bernhisel thanking him for a book that he sent him by Stephens and Catherwoods which is written on their expeditions in Mesoamerica. Joseph Smith saw parallels between Mesoamerica and The Book of Mormon and stated that the Book of Mormon "corresponds with & supports the testimony of the Book of Mormon; I have read the volumes with the greatest interest & pleasure & must say that of all histories that have been written pertaining to the antiquities of this country it is the most correct luminous & comprihensive.-…”Joseph Smith, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984), 501 - 502. He also places The Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica NUMEROUS other times, yet this is gleaned over by Meldrum. Don’t get me wrong, Joseph Smith DID teach a North American setting for The Book of Mormon as well, but this is not the only geography that he taught. This article explains Joseph Smiths position well: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=22&num=2&id=805

I also find it interesting that when Temple sites are dedicated in Mexico, that they mention over and over that those people are the Lamanites. Joseph Fielding Smith said that Temple dedicatory prayers are written by the Spirit of inspiration” Church News Feb. 12 1972. So what do these “inspired” prayers say about the Lamanites?

Unknown said...

Part III

Colonia Juárez Chihuahua México Temple
Bless Thy Saints that they may continue to live here without molestation. May they live in peace and security. May they be prospered as they cultivate their farms and pursue their vocations. May the sons and daughters of father Lehi grow in strength and in fulfillment of the ancient promises made concerning them. May there be constant peace between the cultures and may they dwell together with love and respect one for another. Gordon B. Hinckley, dedicatory prayer for the Colonia Juárez Chihuahua México Temple, 6–7 March 1999, emphasis added

México City México Temple
Bless thy Saints in this great land and those from other lands who will use this temple. Most have in their veins the blood of Father Lehi. Thou hast kept Thine ancient promise. Many thousands "that walked in darkness have seen a great light." Gordon B. Hinckley, dedicatory prayer for the México City México Temple, 2–4 December 1983, emphasis added

Villahermosa México Temple
May Thy eternal purposes concerning the sons and daughters of Lehi be realized in this sacred house. May every blessing of the eternal gospel be poured out upon them, and may the suffering of the centuries be softened through the beneficence of Thy loving care. Thomas S. Monson, dedicatory prayer for the Villahermosa México Temple, 21 May 2000, emphasis added.

Guatemala City Guatemala Temple
Thou kind and gracious Father, our hearts swell with gratitude for Thy remembrance of the sons and daughters of Lehi, the many generations of our fathers and mothers who suffered so greatly and who walked for so long in darkness. Thou hast heard their cries and seen their tears. Now there will be opened to them the gates of salvation and eternal life.
Gordon B. Hinckley, dedicatory prayer for the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple, 14–16 December 1984, emphasis added.

To name a few.
http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=22&num=2&id=806

Steven Lester said...

My goodness, Rock. The anonymous roaches have certainly been seen crawling out from behind the walls on this article, probably without even glimpsing the two little My Space video links you provided. Actually, it sounds like the same person writing in multiple times, as I reread his or her rants a second time.

For myself, I am a sceptic as well, at least until some of those writings locked up in the boxes are ever looked at and translated using methods other than via the rocks Joseph used in a hat to translate the BOM that are reportedly locked up in a safe in the President's office, just in case he feels the urge. This shouldn't be too hard since there are so many similarities with Ancient Egyptian as you and others have suggested. Until that ever happens, I must adopt a "show me" attitude.

That was neat, though, seeing the guy disappear in the depth of the moat and then climbing up to where a fifteen-foot wall was supposed to be. But, until I see a schematic showing where the actual posts were located and their extent and size, it would be unscientific for me to form any kind of opinion.

Hence, the difference between philosophy and Science.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Perhaps a clarification is in order here, as some people are now asking me to provide proofs for claims I have not made.

To make clear: My piece above is a review of two entirely separate products. The first is a documentary entitled "Lost Civilizations of North America." In a very brief phone conversation I had with the filmmaker before I saw the film, he told me that it is not about the Book of Mormon, nor did he intend for it to provide proof for the Book of Mormon. From his tone I deduced he was tired of hearing about Mormons trying to fit his film into their worldview.

If you watch the documentary you'll have a better understanding of what it is about. The experts interviewed provide information about formerly suppressed Native American civilizations that contradict the commonly held 19th century conventional line that these people descended from ignorant savages.

This presumption of savage ancestry has followed our Native American population even into the present day, as not only are most white people unaware of their rich heritage, but also many Native Americans themselves remain ignorant of it. The film spends a great deal of time discussing why and how the existence of the Native American's rich culture was suppressed by government and certain private interests.

I have been asked to provide a more thorough description of certain artifacts found on this continent, the inference being that it is my responsibility to convince the reader of their validity. For this I refer the reader to the film, which provides scores of images of such artifacts and discusses some of the more controversial ones.

The primary issue for those objects that are in dispute is that they were generally found by farmers in the 19th century, and since these were not uncovered during controlled archaeological digs, it becomes difficult to authenticate them.

Some commenters have provided links to other sites where someone has claimed that certain of these objects have been proven fraudulent when they have not. In the examples I am aware of, all we know is that the question of scientific authenticity has not been settled.

The film contains a discussion of where these ancient people may have come from, and presents evidence, both archaeological and anthropological as well as biological for an old world origin, while making clear that there are conflicting views within the scientific community. The biggest question appears to center around when these people arrived and how they got here. There is very little question about whether they came from the old world or not. Almost every expert believes they did arrive here from someplace else.

You don't have to be LDS to appreciate this documentary, nor was it directed at an LDS audience.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

[Continued]
The second product I reviewed was a set of DVD's which HAVE been directed toward latter-day Saints. They were produced by a group of diverse LDS researchers who have done extensive research into the Hopewell tradition, and have compared their findings with statements found within the Book of Mormon. Since the hopewell culture is generally considered to line up with the timeline recorded in the Book of Mormon, I find these comparisons of interest.

They also compare what Joseph Smith said about the ancient inhabitants of America and what continent he repeatedly claimed they dwelled on.

None of this "proves" the Book of Mormon, nor do I think it was meant to. Indeed, I don't think that basing one's belief in the truth of the Book of Mormon on how well it matches up to archaeological evidence is the best way to go about building one's testimony of it. The truth of the Book of Mormon is contained within it's message, and has little to do with "proofs" pulled out of the ground.

Even if I were to hold the actual plates in my hands, that wouldn't prove to me anything about the "truth" of the thing. Truth is contained within the text. (A major theme of this blog, in fact, is that a good many Mormons who claim to believe in the Book of Mormon seem to have completely missed its core message.)

What I find valuable about the research and opinions provided by the FIRM Foundation is this: To those of us who do believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon, a comparison of what science has uncovered in North America is more compelling than the theories provided by those who promote a South and Central American origin.

I would not expect anyone who does not have an interest in the validity of the Book of Mormon to have any interest in this discussion whatsoever. I have no interest in converting others to my beliefs, and it makes me wonder why others would demand that I produce for them proof of my personal convictions. My religious beliefs are subjective to my personal experience and spiritual in origin. I do not rely upon external evidence to affirm their validity, nor do I feel an obligation to convince others to follow me.

The title of this website is "Pure Mormonism," and the things I write about here presuppose that the reader shares with me a few core fundamentals of the LDS faith. Salient to that would be an appreciation for the organic LDS scriptures.

In the piece above I have introduced what I found to be some fascinating resources, and if the reader would like to learn more about the things contained in those DVDs, I recommend he obtains them and investigate on his own rather than ask me to clarify and expand further on their contents. There is way too much information contained in them for me to attempt to rehash it all here.

Anonymous said...

Rock, you state that you are not promoting this as your opinion but then you state things like this:
"I'll tell you who did know. Joseph Smith knew. On numerous occasions he pointed out specific locations where he was very definite about his claims where Book of Mormon events took place. And that's not counting all the clear scriptural references. All of these locations were clearly declared to be in the interior of what is now the united states. Never did Joseph so
much as hint that any of the people or events described in the Book of Mormon ever occurred south of the border."
That sounds like you are definitely stating this is your belief as well. Not to mention all of the charts you provided to support your opinion. I can hear the sounds of frantic backpedaling coming from your direction!

Zo-ma-rah said...

Interesting replies. This is exactly what I was referring to. There are so many different opinions out there even among scientists. You might as well just not take anyone's word for it and make up your own mind.

@Anonymous 9:02AM: I know Rock will probably bring up the interesting information that points to Joseph never having practiced Plural Marriage. So I'll leave that to him.

"And just exactly what DID Joseph Smith say about polygamy? That it was ok to marry other men's wives (after he sent them off on missions)? That it was ok to marry teenaged girls as young as 14? Again, exactly what are you referring to? Do you even know your facts on this?"

You seem to be implying that it is NOT ok for a woman to have more than one husband. You also seems to be saying that it is NOT ok to marry 14 year of females. Now the legality of it is a separate issue. Historically and in many tribes a person is considered an adult when they are able to sexually reproduce. This means that when a female is about the age of thirteen they are an adult. It is only in the last hundred years or so that we developed this teenager-semi-adult-semi-child status for humans. A status that has caused a great deal of harm to our society especially with their associated coming of age rituals.

it is only our own cultural programming and legal climate that make it seem gross to marry someone when they first become able to reproduce. However there is nothing inherently wrong with this practice.

So while marrying a 14 year old may seem repulsive to you that does not mean it is universally wrong for all humanity. I invite you to do more research on the subject.

@everyone: I'm curious why we even considering DNA evidence for or against. If the Nephites and Lamanites(who would have been brown skinned Hebrews) became light and dark skinned respectively, doesn't that imply some sort of genetic manipulation?

If God can control all elements would he not also be able to genetically modify the Nephites/Lamanites?

I don't know just a thought.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Unknown at 10:52,

My understanding of the letter allegedly written by Joseph Smith to Bernhisel thanking him for the gift was that it was actually written by John Taylor acting as secretary.

That would explain the effusive praise "Joseph Smith" heaped on the book. As evidenced by the pieces he wrote in the Times and Seasons, Taylor was completely enamored of the recently discovered ruins in South America and was completely convinced that they were God's proof of Nephite civilization.

I am unaware of anything in Joseph Smith's hand that would contradict anything he is known to have said about the North American locations.

Unknown said...

Regarding the Newark Stones, which were used in the video as "evidence" for The Book of Mormon, one of the scholars who appeared in the video actually wrote extensively on them, yet was not even asked about them or their authenticity. Here are a few articles he wrote on them:

http://www.ohioarchaeology.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=255&Itemid=32

" The November/December 2011 issue ofThe Skeptical Inquirer includes the second part of a three part series of articles evaluating claims made in the documentary The Lost Civilizations of North America. The articles are written jointly by Kenneth L. Feder (Central Connecticut State University), Terry A. Barnhart (Eastern Illinois University), Deborah Bolnick (University of Texas, Austin) and me.

In this article, my co-authors and I refute the alleged archaeological evidence for ancient Old World civilizations in America:

"The artifacts given the most screen time in the documentary are the so-called Newark 'Holy Stones.' In fact, the narrator refers to the controversy surrounding the interpretation of these artifacts as a case study that 'demonstrates the division between some diffusionists and most mainstream archaeologists.' If the producers of the documentary sincerely believed this statement, then it is difficult to..."

Unknown said...

"...understand why they feature only the diffusionist side of the argument. What makes this one-sided presentation particularly perplexing [or maybe not] is that one of the scientists interviewed (one of the authors of this article) has written extensively on the Newark 'Holy Stones' and therefore could have ably represented the 'mainstream' view."

The scientist who has written extensively on the Newark "Holy Stones" is me. So, why didn't the producers include my "mainstream" views about these elaborate archaeological forgeries in the documentary? Good question. They interviewed me on two separate occasions and never once asked me about my views on the "Holy Stones." In e-mail correspondence during the video production process I made my views quite clear to one of the producers and even sent him electronic copies of my articles. Nevertheless, you will look in vain for any "mainstream" views about these curious stones in the documentary.

In the article, my co-authors and I point out the many errors of fact and interpretation in the documentary's treatment of the "Holy Stones." They are not authentic ancient artifacts. They are scientific forgeries intended to undermine a particular theory gaining prominence at the time of the forgeries:"

Unknown said...

"the argument. What makes this one-sided presentation particularly perplexing [or maybe not] is that one of the scientists interviewed (one of the authors of this article) has written extensively on the Newark 'Holy Stones' and therefore could have ably represented the 'mainstream' view."

The scientist who has written extensively on the Newark "Holy Stones" is me. So, why didn't the producers include my "mainstream" views about these elaborate archaeological forgeries in the documentary? Good question. They interviewed me on two separate occasions and never once asked me about my views on the "Holy Stones." In e-mail correspondence during the video production process I made my views quite clear to one of the producers and even sent him electronic copies of my articles. Nevertheless, you will look in vain for any "mainstream" views about these curious stones in the documentary.

In the article, my co-authors and I point out the many errors of fact and interpretation in the documentary's treatment of the "Holy Stones." They are not authentic ancient artifacts. They are scientific forgeries intended to undermine a particular theory gaining prominence at the time of the forgeries:

goingtozion said...

Hey Rock, my brother was listening to NPR and heard an interview with Xaviant Haze. He sent me a link to an interview and I'll post it here

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thestenchoftruth/2011/06/10/suppressed-history-of-america-author-xaviant-haze

I haven't listened to it yet, my wife got bored after 5 minutes but from what my brother told me, Xaviant talks about the suppression of American history. He focuses on the Lewis and Clark expedition and how they found some remarkable artifacts from civilizations that had existed in America. Some conspiracy theory type stuff about it not being good for the USA and it's growth.

It seems to go along with what this post is about. Thought you and some others who came to this post would be interested.

Unknown said...

As for the Michigan relics, they were proven false starting with James E. Talmage, and have since been proved false by numerous experts since then. Most recently, "the age of a key ceramic tablet as determined by a new luminescence date. It was made sometime between 1895 and 1910."

Here is an article by faithful LDS on their history and authenticity:
http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/byustudies&CISOPTR=4456&REC=8>

So, yes. They have been proven false.

Anonymous said...

Zo-ma-rah stated:
"So while marrying a 14 year old may seem repulsive to you that does not mean it is universally wrong for all humanity. I invite you to do more research on the subject."
I am speechless after reading through your inept attempt at defending Joseph Smith marrying young girls. That was definitely not the "norm" back then (the average age of marriage for a woman was 21 years of age back in the 1840's).
So, you would be just fine with President Thomas S. Monson marrying your 14 year old daughter (if you have one)? Even if polygamy were still legal, you cannot tell me you'd be just fine with this.
Not to mention that Joseph Smith was getting these young girls by promising their parents eternal glory if they consented to him having them.
And, going after young girls was definitely not the only immoral thing Joseph Smith did related to his polygamy. He sent off trusting me to serve missions and then married and bedded their wives while they were gone.
But, go ahead and defend that too.
Sorry for going off topic here, but come on!

Unknown said...

The other anonymous,

You probably have just a big of problem with Bach, William Clark (of Lewis and Clark), Grover Cleveland, Thomas Edison, Edgar Allen Poe, and thousands of other individuals who married younger women in those days. I assume that you are not just using this fact to persecute the Church, but actually are against what that society accepted as normal back then.

http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith/Polygamy/Marriages_to_young_women

Don't forget Anna the Prophetess. Assuming that assuming she was married at age 13, her 7-year marriage and 84-year widowhood would make her 104 years old (Luke 2:36–37). That is IF she was married at 13. There is also evidence that Mary, the mother of Jesus was extremely young as well. Would you like to talk about how evil she was as well?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous at 11:33,
I am not backpedaling from my opinions; I am simply not claiming as my own the opinions of others regarding things I am not expert on.

I do indeed believe the people and incidents described in the Book of Mormon occurred on the North American continent, and if you got the impression I did not then I was not clear enough in my explanation.

When I find someone else's conclusions compelling, I have said so. I may even believe a thing, but just to make myself clear, I don't claim to "know" anything. My opinions and beliefs are subject to change as new information is received.

Anonymous said...

What idiot wrote this?

--- "If God can control all elements would he not also be able to genetically modify the Nephites/Lamanites?

I don't know just a thought."
(Cough....Zo-ma-rah)

Um...uh...ok....whatever!

And exactly why would HE need to do that? Talk about complicating things! But, yup....that's how God works...hee! hee!

Unknown said...

I am curious, who wrote the OP? It doesn't say who, but I assume Alan?
BTW, I'll try to distinguish myself from the anti-Mormon anonymous by saying I am anonymous 2. That is until I figure out how not to be anonymous anymore.

Anonymous said...

Unknown,
What FAIR says on anything is a joke with all their doubletalk and spinning. They do more harm to the church than good. Show me a link with some real proof or evidence that what they spin is true.

Anonymous said...

And please don't confuse "anti-Mormon" with "pro-Truth". Find the difference out for yourself (and not at FAIR).

Unknown said...

Wow. I guess that is one way to deal with the evidence, just dismiss it all together as "doubletalk." They source all of their information so feel free to actually study it to see if it is true or not. BTW, my non-member grandmother in-law was also married at 14. Does that upset you as well?

Anonymous said...

Unknown,
I could not care less what age consenting people get married at. 14 yrs. of age or 99 yrs of age (including your grandmother). But what a prophet of God does is something I do care about. He was dishonest and used his power to intimidate young girls to marry him and then kept it secret while he lied publicly to the body of church members (not to mention keeping it from his own wife Emma and lying to her too). If you are fine with that, that's also your business. I'm not fine with anyone's dishonesty or deceit but most especially not someone who proclaims to be a prophet of God.

Derek said...

Alan... intellectual honesty is lost when ideas are manipulated to support a position that those ideas nor their authors support.

"As scholars committed to increasing public understanding of Native American history and archaeology, we want to make it clear that we do not support the theories presented in “The Lost Civilizations of North America” DVD. In our opinion, there is no compelling archaeological or genetic evidence for a migration from the Middle East to North America a few thousand years ago, nor is there any credible scientific evidence that Old World civilizations were involved in developing Native American cultures in pre-Columbian times. Many of the artifacts used to support the film’s claims, such as the Newark "Holy Stones," have been proven fraudulent based on convincing scientific evidence and historical documentation. Like the great majority of professional archaeologists and anthropologists, we have seen overwhelming evidence that Native Americans were independently responsible for designing and creating the Newark Earthworks, Cahokia Mounds, and the myriad other pre-Columbian sites across the United States.

Each of us was interviewed for this film. None of us was asked directly for our opinion on what turned out to be its underlying claim; that Old World civilizations played an active role in the development of Native American cultures, especially the mound builders. Instead, we were asked general questions about Native American societies, their remarkable technological achievements, genetic histories, and we were also asked to comment on the biases of many nineteenth-century historians and archaeologists concerning the abilities of the native people of North America. We fear that the context of our general remarks as they currently appear in the film might lead viewers to conclude that our words on these subjects provide support for the film’s claims. That would be a mistake. In fact, our remarks, if presented in an unedited form, show clearly that we reject the assertions made in the finished documentary concerning a non-native source for the complex cultures of Native America.

We informed the filmmakers of our objections in February 2010, five months before the DVD’s release. The producers did make some changes in response to our objections, including deleting Ken Feder's interview entirely. As a group, we believe that the final product remains misleading and presents claims that neither we nor our data support. In our opinion, there is no compelling evidence for the presence of Old World cultures in North America prior to the incursions of the Norse in the early 11th century." http://ohio-archaeology.blogspot.com/2010/12/commentary-on-lost-civilizations-of.html

Unknown said...

But that is the issue you were bringing up, is that Joseph Smith was marrying young girls. I have shown you that it was not uncommon to do so, and am glad that you acknowledge that now. Now to your other questions, I think it would be best to lay some groundwork. Speaking of Greg Smith (who wrote a review of Meldrums work), he did some excellent research on this topic and spoke about the generalities at the FAIR conference a few years ago. I would highly recommend you reading it.

http://fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2009_Everything_You_Always_Wanted_to_Know_About_Plural_Marriage.html

You may know, but many of those who took part in polygamy had visitations from angels, witnesses of the Spirit, and answers to their prayers about polygamy. It was not an easy thing for anyone to do. No one was forced into anything but did it willingly. You can read a few of these experiences here:
http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_polygamy/Divine_manifestations_to_plural_wives_and_families

In regards to Joseph Smith "hiding" polygamy, there is also a great article on that here:
http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith/Polygamy/Hiding_the_truth

I hope that you read these articles to get a better understanding of Joseph Smith and polygamy. Many accept what the critics say without looking at all the evidence. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Derek,
Thank you for your informative post! This is very enlightening and I will definitely check out the website you list. Thanks again.

Unknown said...

If you read mine above, they are in the process of publishing a more detailed rebuttal of the video they appeared in. This is a summary of their second article:

http://ohio-archaeology.blogspot.com/2011/10/responding-to-lost-civilizations-of.html

Anonymous said...

Anyone want to explain the science behind all of the converted Lamanites becoming white around 12-13 AD? Sounds like God doing some genetic modification to me.

Anonymous said...

"Converted Lamanites"
Converted to what? Christ? What evidence do you have that this happened?

"Becoming white around 12-13 AD"
And, you know this happened? What evidence do you have that this happened?

Thanks! (I really do want to know what you are referring to.)

Anonymous said...

Joseph Smith sure appeared to be 'repulsed' with men marrying other men's wives & living polygamy, no matter what age the woman was.

Anonymous said...

Unknown,

Joseph taught that if the Spirit or angels or answers to prayers, etc. are telling you to do something 'contrary' to what the scriptures say then we know it is false & wrong.

And as Joseph warned the Saints over & over, polygamy was definitely against the holy scriptures.

zo-ma-rah said...

So Anonymous do you believe that God has power to control all elements? If so then is it not possible for him to modify the genetic structure of any creature?

I'm not saying that is what occurred. However if it is something God can why should we discount it as a possible action?

Also will Anonymous please tell me where in the scriptures polygamy is unquestionably condemned as evil.

Unknown said...

That is the great thing about continuing revelation, when God wants us to know something He tells a living Prophet. He revealed something new to every Prophet in the Bible. What He revealed to Adam and Eve wasn't enough for Moses. What He revealed to Moses wasn't enough for the Apostles.

Read that article I posted earlier, it will answer your question

Anonymous said...

Anonymous stated...

"Joseph Smith sure appeared to be 'repulsed' with men marrying other men's wives & living polygamy, no matter what age the woman was."

Key words above are "appeared to". Joseph Smith lived polyandry (he married many other men's wives including many of his apostle's wives who were off serving missions when he married their wives).

This isn't even in dispute. These wives are listed on lds.org and the church has had to fully admit this took place (although they avoid discussing it when possible).

At least 11 of Joseph's 33 documented plural wives were currently married to other men when Joseph married them (was sealed to them).

For a great review of his wives (acknowledged by the church), go to:

http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/

Zo-ma-rah said...

"This isn't even in dispute." You must not have read: http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-im-abandoning-polygamy.html

On that "Suppressed History of America" with Xavient Haze, what is that song at the start of the podcast?

Unknown said...

I assume you are posting this for the shock value since polygamy can and has been shown to be Biblical and approved of God, marriage to young women has been shown to be common. So, you must take the next step into polyandry. These marriages were of a spiritual nature, not a sensual one. There is no strong evidence that there were any physical relations between Joseph Smith and his plural wives. Anti-Mormons have claimed for years that Joseph Smith had children with many of them, but DNA evidence have proved those claims to be false. These marriages were mainly for eternity and ceremonial in nature. Not what we would consider marriage by todays standards.

There are at least 2 experts on this subject in the Church. Greg Smith and Brian Hales. You can read their writings on polyandry here:


http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith_and_polyandry/Book_chapter

http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith_and_polyandry/Book_chapter

Unknown said...

Brian Hales writes:

A review of Joseph Smith’s alleged “polyandrous” marriages demonstrates the importance of clarifying the meaning of “polyandry.” The Prophet unquestionably participated in “ceremonial polyandry,” whereby a woman was married to him in a second marriage ceremony, without securing a legal divorce from her first husband. However, to assume Joseph also was involved with “sexual polyandry” requires specific evidence because the second nuptial may have been for “eternity” only (without a sexual union) or may have accompanied a religious divorce from the woman’s civil husband (prohibiting further sexual relations with the legal spouse).

In light of all available evidence, authors who continue to assert that Joseph Smith practiced sexual polyandry must accept four assumptions:

1. That credible evidence exists beyond the tabloid level accusations supporting it. Most serious researchers would not draw strict conclusions based upon the sensationalized claims that are currently available.

2. That Joseph Smith would blithely disobey a commandment he had dictated, a commandment that labels such behavior as “adultery,” stating that women so involved would be “destroyed” (D&C 132:63).

3. That the plural wives and other participants, those who performed and witnessed the sealings, would have condoned the relationships, by ignoring Biblical teachings and Joseph Smith’s instructions condemning such relations.

4. That all participants would have easily overlooked Joseph Smith’s hypocrisy on this point, continuing to follow him as a prophet without apparent complaint.

For decades, anti-Mormon writers have apparently been comfortable with these assumptions, accusing Joseph Smith of sexual polyandry. Doubtless this phenomenon will continue.

Unknown said...

Blast, I did it again. I meant to post this link

http://www.josephsmithspolygamy.com/JSPolyandry/MASTERSexualPolyandry.html

instead of the double post of this link:
http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith_and_polyandry/Book_chapter

Unknown said...

Wow. Joseph Smith *didn't* practice polygamy?!?! Between that and the acceptance of Meldrums obviously debunked theory, I feel I may not be in Kansas anymore...

Anonymous said...

If Joseph Smith wasn't having sex with his plural wives, then he wasn't living the principle as given in the revelation he received (read D&C Section 132 in its entirety....most member haven't done this).

Also, in the Book of Mormon, it states (in Jacob, I believe) that:
"polygamy could be commanded by God to raise up seed". Kind of difficult to raise up seed without having sex, isn't it?

Lastly, I'd love to hear some who believe Joseph never consummated his multiple marriages answer this ONE QUESTION:

Why do you a problem believing Joseph Smith had sex with his plural wives but you don't have a problem knowing Brigham Young (and others) had sex with their plural wives?

Weren't they both prophets?

Weren't they both living the same principle?

ke da wei said...

I read the book mentioned in Alan's blog post on polygamy. (Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy: How Men Nearest the Prophet Attached Polygamy to His Name in Order to Justify Their Own Polygamous Crimes.)

They present compelling evidence. What woman wouldn't want to be sealed to Joseph Smith after his death at that point in history? Several of them were sealed to him in the Endowment House in the 1870s. Eliza R. Snow was said to have been shoved down the stairs by a jealous Emma, but they show with house layouts that this wasn't possible with either home that the Smiths lived in, in Nauvoo. It's possible Eliza was impregnated by Dr. Bennett as they were romantically linked.

The leading members in Utah at the time of Brigham Young had nothing to gain by denouncing polygamy. All LDS church records come through the filter of Young and others, so they have bias.

I believe polygamy is sometimes allowed by God, but it is the exception, not the rule. I only want to be sealed to one woman, my wife and do not believe we would be forced into polygamy because this contradicts the law of agency that we fought over in heaven.

Truthseeker said...

Finally the voice of reason! Thank you Ka da wei.
I have read these books also. I was convinced also that Joseph Smith had been a polygamist also- until careful reading and searching on my part.

The single greatest evidence that Joseph Smith has been slandered by Brigham Young until this day, was this man who had fathered many children with Emma...produced NONE with any other woman. The evidence speaks for itself in my mind.

Brigham had at least 2 wives- perhaps as many as 4, while on his mission in England. WHILE he left his wife and children in America. It does not take a brilliant mind to put together that this man had the time, justification, ability and position to make up anything he wanted and I believe that he did to suit his oversexed libido.

Anonymous said...

If you want to be in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, you will be living polygamy (study the teachings of Joseph Smith and other early prophets). There's at least one living General Authority who already is living polygamy (he's sealed to more than one woman for all eternity).

As far as Prices' book....what a joke! Their book is considered to be one of the most poorly put together pieces of history ever written on the subject.

Study for yourself (and NOT on FAIR or FARMS). Don't you trust your own God given ability to discern the truth to venture out and read something else? Study and read the actual writings of people who were alive when Joseph was alive (and who loved him). There are numerous journals who write of Joseph's plural marriages and how he spent the night together with these new wives.

~Clint~ said...

I think the comments about polygamy/polyandry etc are a fascinating topic, and one well worth discussing, but it appears to be distracting from the original post, since the last 14 comments in a row (plus mine) have been on the issue of polygamy, and nothing to do with the Original Post.

I am certainly interested in following a discussion on polygamy, etc, but perhaps the linked location listed earlier where this had been previously discussed would be a better place for this?

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-im-abandoning-polygamy.html

Just a thought.

Unknown said...

Good point, Clint. Let me bring it back to the OP by asking Alan again, why are you using the Cahokia as evidence for The Book of Mormon when that civilization didn't even start until after the end of The Book of Mormon?

Paul Toscano said...

Your article, Rock, was well written and full of interesting information. It would be helpful to the discussion if your critics were able to read the English language as well as you write it, especially those critics who hide behind pseudonyms.

It appears to me that no evidence will persuade a non-believer that the Book of Mormon is the ancient historical record it claims to be and that no lack of evidence will disuade a believer that it is not.

Each of the great Abrahamic religions--Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Mormonism--in all their various manifestations commence with a story of the incarnation of the divine. In Judasim, the divine is incarnate in the Torah. In Christianity, in Jesus. In Islam, in the Koran. In Mormonism, in the Book of Mormon. It is unlikely that there will ever be discovered any physical evidence of these incarnations that will meet the rigorous standards of science. The more evidence is sought to prove these incarnations, the more elusive they become and the more they recede into mystery.

Perhaps the mistake is to assume that these incarnations call for proof, when what they call for is faith--faith not in their origins, but in the divine threads interwoven throughout their humannessn. God seems ever to be revealed in earthly, earthy, and imperfect vessels: King David, Solomon, Joseph Smith, individuals whom God may have loved and called in all their imperfections for the very reasons we would not or cannot.

In Padua, a cathedral is dedicated to the great evangelist, St. Anthony. Within its massive structure, under a marble canopy, above a vast number of silver votaries, encased in a glass reliquary is the last and apt vestige of the great man: his tongue. I've seen it. For all the world, it is indistinguishable from a piece of beef jerky purchasable at any Maverick convenience store. And yet each year thousands of pilgrims flock to it.

No expense was spared to preserve it. Yet, no expenses could preserve that tongue's utterance, when alive, of the gospel of Christ. St. Anthony's preaching was so powerful that it left an impression on those who heard it so monumental that they were moved to instantiate their collective memory of it in a remaining relic housed in one of the grandest edifices of Catholicism.

The Book of Mormon is, in another form, just such a reliquary. It is the Word made text in similitude of the Word made flesh. It was never meant to prove its own history, or to prove Joseph Smith a prophet, or to prove the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be true. Rather, it was brough forth "to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations."

LDS Anarchist said...

Paul Toscano wrote:

"It is unlikely that there will ever be discovered any physical evidence of these incarnations that will meet the rigorous standards of science. The more evidence is sought to prove these incarnations, the more elusive they become and the more they recede into mystery."

This makes me think of the irony of the future. On the one hand the age of reason, of science, will end, ushering in a new age of idolatry. On the other hand the physical evidence of the Book of Mormon will come forth, right after the age of reason ends. Now, during the age of reason, no physical evidence exists which meets "the rigorous standards of science." Then, such physical evidence will be abundant, but there will no longer be any scientists left, meaning that men will have cast the religion of science aside in favor of idolatry. It's prophetic irony!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I was actually debating with myself whether I should even attempt to follow the example of clear common sense presented by Paul Toscano above, or just let his words stand alone. I make no secret of my admiration for the spirit and intellect of Paul Toscano, and almost feel that for me to pop in here with follow-up comments of my own would somehow detract from something that has already been perfectly said.

Paul has crystallized my point. I did not set out in my piece to "prove" the Book of Mormon, which I agree with Paul was never intended to be proven by external evidences.

But in response to the anonymous questioner above who demands to know "why are you using Cahokia as evidence for The Book of Mormon when that civilization didn't even start until after the end of The Book of Mormon?" I will say this:

I'm not.

Cahokia is believed to have thrived from about 600 to 1400 AD. The Book of Mormon covers a period that ended around 420 AD. I do not include Cahokia in my narrative in an attempt to prove that any Book of Mormon events took place in that city.

I mention Cahokia because it is evidence that the natives of North America were perfectly capable of forming civilizations more advanced than generally thought, and if the natives of 600 AD lived in cities it is entirely reasonable to assume that their ancestors a couple of hundred years earlier were capable of the same.

Besides, Cahokia is only one part of the vast Hopewell network of ancient cities on the continent, notable primarily because more of it is intact than a lot of other Hopewell sites, and that is probably precisely because it represents a more recent example of the type.

We have more evidence of native American city life in Cahokia because it's of more recent origin. If the reader assumed that I was stating a belief that Cahokia was the birthplace of Moroni, I apologize for giving off that impression.

Perhaps some here are confused by my use of the term "Best Evidence." I did not intend it to be construed as "absolute proof that the Book of Mormon is true." Best Evidence is a term going back to the common law which required the use of original, organic evidence over the introduction of such secondary exhibits such as rumor or hearsay.

In the matter of Book of Mormon lands and events, the Best Evidence rule leads us first to the writings of Joseph Smith. Where did HE say the Book of Mormon people lived? Well, he said they lived in North America. It shouldn't matter to us that John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff were crazy in love with the tales coming out about discoveries in South America. The best evidence for what Joseph Smith believed is found in the speeches and writings of Joseph Smith.

Taking Joseph Smith's own words as the Best Evidence for what Joseph Smith believed, I then attempted to show that the best archaeological and anthropological evidence that would support Joseph Smith's assertions is found here in North America and not in South or Central as has been assumed ever since Taylor and Woodruff started beating the drums for that campaign.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

The Best Evidence Rule is what I also require at the hands of those who claim that Joseph Smith stood in favor of plural marriage. We have the claim of another anonymous poster above who asks, "And just exactly what DID Joseph Smith say about polygamy? That it was ok to marry other men's wives? That it was ok to marry teenaged girls as young as 14?"

"This is all very well documented," Anonymous declares, then sends us to a link that documents nothing of the kind. Nowhere there do we find Joseph smith "says" it's okay to marry other men's wives or to marry teenaged girls as young as 14. What we find there is rumor and hearsay presented decades after Joseph's death written by people who had a very strong motivation to lie.

What Joseph smith actually SAID about polygamy actually is very well documented. One of the things he said was that he intended to expose and root out this disease from even his closest associates. He never accomplished that goal because three weeks later he was dead.

Zo-ma-rah said...

As I said, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece.

3rd Nephi 26;9,10
9 And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.
10 And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.

If scientists one day dig up a sign that says "Welcome to Zarahemla" written in the reformed Egyptian from the "Caractors" document where does that leave us? If an angel descended in the midst of a group of exmormons and handed them the gold plates what would happen then?

We cannot have unequivocal evidence for the Book of Mormon or else it is no longer a trial of faith. And if it is no longer a trial of faith then we cannot receive the greater things.

Another thought I've considered is what would happen if evidence for the Book of Mormon did come out. What would happen then? Suddenly there would be proof that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. millions would flock to the Mormon Missionaries to enter the waters of baptism... Wait...what...the L-DS church isn't the only one that uses the Book of Mormon? Aw, nuts.

Even if proof came for the Book of Mormon it wouldn't prove any of the existing churches true. Or would it prove that they are all true together? So really there isn't any more practical use for proof than what can be gained from the spiritual proof contained within the text.

The Book of Mormon cannot be used as proof that any religious institution is correct. It can only be used to point to Christ.

A church must evidence itself to be correct by manifesting the Best Gifts of the Spirit.

Neal Rappleye said...

Some recent wordprint studies actually suggests that the Times and Seasons articles which are said in a couple of comments above to have been written by John Taylor were actually written by Joseph Smith:

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/insights/?vol=30&num=6&id=923

Yes, this is from the Maxwell Institute, but Matt Roper, one of the contributors, actually was of the opinion, going into the study, that John Taylor was the author of those articles, and had said so in print long before this became an issue. He was actually surprised to find that Joseph's writing signal was the strongest in those articles. My point is that this was not confirmation bias.

Also, yes Taylor was the scribe of the Bernhisel letter, but Joseph signed his name to it - do you really think he would have done that if the contents were contrary to revelations he had received?

To be clear, I could care less whether you believe that the Book of Mormon took place in North America. There is no official revelation on the matter, and folks are free to speculate on this. But please, don't claim that this is what Joseph Smith revealed when it is not.

Furthermore, I would recommend not following in Meldrum's footsteps. His theory is very bad, in many respects. His construction of the geography simply does not fit what Mormon said about the setting of the Book of Mormon (see http://www.fairlds.org/DNA_Evidence_for_Book_of_Mormon_Geography/DEBMG02F.html), and Meldrum's method of ignoring the geographic references for the "prophetic" passages is simply bad. At the very least, a theory should not contradict what the on the ground eyewitness (Mormon) described, but that is exactly what Meldrum's theory does, on multiple points.

Lastly, please don't turn this into some sort of conspiracy theory. Folks who favor a Mesoamerican theory have far less to lose financially if they are wrong then Meldrum does if he is wrong (Meldrum tends to think he is immune to the financial corruption he accuses everyone else of). Opposition to Meldrum's theory has come from competent folks who genuinely believe he's got it wrong, and that he using junk-science to support his theory. They are more concerned with what is going to happen to those who place their trust in Meldrum's theory, only to latter find the the evidence was not sound and overstated. Such experiences have caused more than a few to lose their testimonies before on other issues. (And yes, of course Mesoamerican proponents have also committed those sorts of errors in the past...but one of the great accomplishments of the Maxwell Institute, in my opinion, has been weeding out those problems). The OP reflects an out dated understanding of Central/South American geography theories reminiscent of the Jack West/Tom Ferguson era. And frankly, in my opinion, Meldrum's theory is more on par with those in terms of factual accuracy then the more recent Mesoamerican arguments. If the North American theory is to be taken seriously, then it needs to grow out of this phase of sensationalized and overstated evidence just as the Mesoamerican theory did.

Just my opinion. Again, if you want to believe that North America is the place of BoM events, then be my guest. But please don't accuse others who are equally genuine believers of conspiracy, corruption, and denial. The truth is they have (just as I have) looked over the arguments and evidence Meldrum presents and found it unpersuasive. They then said so in print. This really upset Meldrum, but instead of trying to deal with the arguments they made, he just makes accusations (about conspiracy, corruption, and denial, etc.). That is not how "truth seeking" works.

Anonymous said...

Great blog post, Rock. And, interesting comments to read through. I think the question one might have is this: If one is trying to prove the location of Book of Mormon events, then one wants to believe it is historically accurate and also that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, right? I understand trying to do that. But then, Rock you state that you believe Joseph Smith spoke the truth and then the following prophets did not (with respect to both the Book of Mormon location and polygamy). Does this mean you believe the church went astray after the death of Joseph Smith and that it is no longer lead by a Prophet of God?

John Penn said...

Rock,

I knew this post was going to be big. With yourself, Mr. Toscano and Lawrence Daniel Scott Anderson all, seeminlgy, in agreement, that's big time!

"It would be helpful to the discussion if your critics were able to read the English language as well as you write it, especially those critics who hide behind pseudonyms" -PT

I couldn't agree more!

Anonymous said...

I personally believe that the most revealing and intelligent comment above came from Derek. His post sheds a lot of light on the integrity of the "evidence" Bro. Waterman provided. If this is the "best evidence" there is for the North American location theory, how sad and is completely lacking. But, everyone has to find what works for them and what feels right for them. At least Waterman has an open mind and is still searching. Kudos for that!

John Penn said...

Anon @ 7:37

You do realize that Rock is NOT presenting any theory (I know I'm repeating Rock and numerous posts above, please excuse me). Presenting evidence is far different than presenting a theory as fact.

Again, please reference Mr. Toscano's "helpful" suggestion above.

Unknown said...

The video which you promote is full of Cahokia cities/artifacts and is not distinguished from the Hopewell, and the viewer is led to believe that these are Hopewell and therefore evidence for The Book of Mormon (I know this because I have had MANY people who have watched the DVD that the civilization's mentioned in it are evidence for The BOM).

Again, you cannot say that because a later culture was doing something or had a certain technology, that the earlier ones must have been doing the same. You will not find an archaeologist who will agree with you. They know quite a bit about the Hopewell. They know how they lived, where they lived, what they lived it, what they ate, etc... They did *not* live in cities, but small villages at the most. The pictures above are from a later culture and are not the Hopewell. The Hopewell are not even close to what Meldrum wants them to be like. Imagine what 1 person per square mile would look like, because that is how many Hopewell lived in the center of the Hopewell culture. How is the reconciled with The Book of Mormon which has millions of people?
Also, the Cahokia are *not* the Hopewell, they are two completely different cultures. They are not comparable because they had different beliefs, different population sizes, different structures and living arrangements, different views on war (the Hopewell were a peaceful people, unlike the Nephites), etc...

Unknown said...

If the "evidence" does not stand up to scrutiny, then it really isn't "evidence" is it? I have studied BOM geography and find Meldrums theory to be the least likely because most everything does not stand up to scrutiny.

Shawn C said...

I read a book on my mission in 95 titled I think, "The Lands of Zarahemla"? Pretty good, but it was the first thing I had seen that promoted the Great Lakes area as the BoM lands. Also I recall another book titled, "Little Known Evidences of the BoM" that stated, (mind you, this is just things I remember reading, and haven't the time to research right now, perhaps the authors of these books have?), that early North American explorers like Cortez claimed that the language they heard the natives speaking at times, had a form of "very corrupt Hebrew" to it. Also that the early farmers of the Cumorah area, compained about very high quantities of lime in the soil. Lime comes from decayed bones.

Just a few things to consider?

I for one have always beleived in the Great Lakes area theories. What makes me laugh is these BYU professors and FARMS guys who when confronted with what Joseph Smith said about the Great Lakes area, say he was wrong. I love the tenacity of someone saying that THE prophet of God was wrong. Have fun with that one.

Stephen Smoot said...

Putting all of the conspiracy-mongering aside for a minute, I do want to post these links here (if I am able to without censorship):

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=22&num=1&id=793

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=22&num=2&id=805

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=22&num=2&id=806

First, those nasty, mean apologists at FARMS and FAIR are not upset at Meldrum for "breaking the status quo". They are not happy with the fact that Meldrum is using sham science to try and defend the Book of Mormon. He is doing the Book of Mormon no favors by using fallacious arguments in its defense. As a member of FAIR who was around when FAIR put together a response to Meldrum, I can assure everyone that FAIR is not out to get Meldrum because he is "breaking the status quo", but rather is trying to urge caution because he is making wild claims that can't be sustained.

Now, the author of this blog post continually decries the evil, nasty machinations of FARMS and FAIR apologists, who, in his view, are tools working for the Man, i.e., the "corporate Church". He gratuitously accuses them of scholarly dishonesty. I wonder if the author of this blog post is going to bother to read and respond to these reviews of Meldrum's shoddy theory, or if he will merely continue on his path of character assassination against anyone who disagrees with him. Will he, ahem, maintain his "scholarly integrity" and actually give a cogent reply to these critiques of Meldrum, or will he simply dodge the problem?

For the record, I don't really care what a person's personal views are concerning Book of Mormon geography. Really, I don't. You can believe anything you want and still be in good standing in the Church, in my own opinion. Your salvation is not dependent on what you believe about Book of Mormon geography. However, don't cry victim if you believe in a theory that others see as highly suspect. Don't cry "Woe is me!" when competent scholars disagree with your theory and publish the reasons why they disagree with it.

And by the way, the author of this blog post doesn't seem to fully grasp the geographical theories of John Sorenson, who is the main proponent of the Limited Geography Theory, as he blunders over some of the details of the LGT. Furthermore, Joseph L. Allen is not a "writer" for the Maxwell Institute. As a matter of fact, the Maxwell Institute has published stuff critical of Allen's questionable material on the Book of Mormon. Just FYI.

Zo-ma-rah said...

@Anonymous 6:54AM: Allow me to offer my understanding. The truthfulness of the Book of Mormon does not prove Joseph Smith was a prophet. All it would do is prove Joseph Smith is a Translator. The gift of translation is seperate from that of prophecy. Also stating that "the following prophets did not" implies that Brigham Young and His successors were the true successors to Joseph Smith. Brigham Young founded his claim to succession not in himself(Brigham Young) being the successor but that the Quorum of the Twelve was the successor. Also there are many other people with legitimate claims to be Joseph's Successor. People such as James Strang, Joseph Smith III, Sidney Rigdon, etc.

What happened in my view is that after the death of Joseph Smith the church shattered. Each of the pieces are legitimate parts of the whole. This is opposed to the common view that the main part of the church stayed strong while several splinter groups broke away.

Sorry to go off topic but I just sensed the spirit of "If one thing is true then all of it is true" in your post.

Unknown said...

Rock,
You mentioned that one of the strongest evidences is what Joseph Smith believed? What do you think of his comments which placed The BOM outside of Meldrums geography?

“the Mexican records agree so well with the words of the book of Ether (found by the people of Limhi, which is contained in the Book of Mormon) in relation to the confounding of languages” He then says that the account agrees perfectly with the one found in Mexico Traits of the Mosaic History, Found Among the Aztaeca Nations, Times and Seasons, vol. III no. 16 Pg 820

"Stephens and Catherwood's researches in Central America abundantly testify of this thing. The stupendous ruins, the elegant sculpture, and the magnificence of the ruins of Guatamala, and other cities, corroborate this statement, and show that a great and mighty people-men of great minds, clear intellect, bright genius, and comprehensive designs inhabited this continent. Their ruins speak of their greatness; the Book of Mormen [Mormon} unfolds their history" Joseph Smith (editor)," American Antiquities," Times and Seasons 3/18 (15 July 1842): 860

“Mr Stephens' great developments of antiquities are made bare to the eyes of all the people by reading the history of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. They lived about the narrow neck of land, which now embraces Central America, with all the cities that can be found. Read the destruction of cities at the crucifixion of Christ" Times and Seasons 3/22 (15 September 1842): 915, 922

Unknown said...

Continued

“This is a work [Stephens and Catherwoods book] that ought to be in the hands of every Latter Day Saint; corroborating, as it does the history of the Book of Mormon. There is no stronger circumstancial evidence of the authenticity of the latter book, can be given, than that contained in Mr. Stephens' works…In the last clause, Mr. Catherwood is mistaken. It has fallen to his lot to explore the ruins of this once mighty people, but the 'Book of Mormon' unfolds their history; and published as it was, years before these discoveries were made, and giving as it does, accounts of a people, and of cities that bear a striking resemblance to those mentioned by Mr. Stephens, both in regard to magnificence and location, it affords the most indubitable testimony of the historical truth of that book, which has been treated so lightly by the literati and would be philosophers of the present age. For the information of our friends who do not possess this work, we may at a convenient time collect and compare many of the important items in this work, and in the Book of Mormon, and publish them.” Times and Seasons Oct. 1, 1843, Vol. 4 No. 22, pg 346-347 “Stephens’ Works on Central America”


There is also second hand account of what Joseph Smith said:

“The next day the Prophet came to our home and stopped in our carpenter shop and stood by the turning lathe. I went and got my map for him. "Now", he said, "I will show you the travels of this people"….you will have to go to where the Nephites lost their power...Placing his finger on the map, I should think about where Snowflake, Arizona is situated, or it could have been Mexico…" Mosiah Hancock, Autobiography, BYU Special Collections, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints 28.) The Journal of Mosiah Lyman Hancock, p. 19-20;

Joseph Smith actually drew a map of Moroni's travels, and it starts in Mexico!



http://www.elektroteck.com/bens/SCAN0003.JPG

Joseph Smith DID teach a Mesoamerican setting for The Book of Mormon. No one is denying he taught a North American setting, but in later years turned his focus to Mesoamerica. Most people have no idea what he taught and believe what they are told that JS never taught a Mesoamerican setting and only taught a North American setting. This is false as has been demonstrated.

If Joseph Smith is the ultimate authority on BOM geography, then which geography theory are we to believe?

Unknown said...

Shawn C,

None of the BYU professors have said that Joseph Smith was wrong. I assume someone just told you that this is what they think (and I have a pretty good idea who). The BYU professors, you know, the ones who are paid with tithing money, are monitored by the Brethren, and actually know the Brethren, take all of the evidence into consideration and then formulate a theory. No one is claiming that he lied, was wrong in instances where he contradicts their theory, but right when he doesn't (as Meldrum does) but they take the stance that the Church does which is that there is no *revealed* setting for The Book of Mormon. And since the Church is paying them to publish on a Central American setting for The Book of Mormon, I think it's safe to assume that it isn't all that bad of a theory.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who are still active, believing members of the current Mormon Church, just why doesn't the current Prophet KNOW where the Book of Mormon historically took place? Couldn't he just ask God? He could certainly clear all this up if he truly is a Prophet. That's what I don't understand. The Church is loosing good members almost daily over these types of discrepancies, doubts, "lack of proof" etc. Just wondering....

Unknown said...

Because we are not supposed to be compelled to believe because of evidence, but from a spiritual confirmation from God. The whole point of life is to prepare for the next, which means we have to build our spiritual selves. That can't happen if we believe because of what science tells us is true today.

Inspire said...

As was mentioned in earlier comments, the Book of Mormon clearly states the intention and purpose of the collection of writings:
"...that they (the Remnant) may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations."

Notice it doesn't say "to the convincing that these records are true, or that the Church is true, or that they were written in a certain place," etc. Now there IS some significance as to where this occurred, insomuch as it becomes an identifier of "the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel." But, seeing as how Christ manifests "himself unto all nations," it sounds like all men have a stake in this scripture.

From the very get-go of the book, the standard is laid out as to how to confirm its veracity. Indeed, the writers DO want us to prove it true, as shown in Moroni 10:3-5, but to what end? To prove to the world that Joseph Smith was a prophet? To bring countless members to the Church? To assess historical locations and curiosities? No. There is only one End offered: "the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God."

"How" this is accomplished is for another post, but I believe Rock summed it up in his last blog entry: All you need is love. Want to know how to come to Christ? Charity and unconditional love, even forgiveness and intercession for our fellow man never fails... Want to know what society looks like when this happens?
"...the people were all CONVERTED UNTO THE LORD, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them..."

Surely this group of converted people had various personalities, opinions and beliefs, as we do in our day. But what made them one, was that they had no contentions and disputations. Simply put, they cared for, accepted and embraced each other no matter what. This resulted in there being no rich and poor, bond and free... but they were ALL made free and partakers of the heavenly Gift: Jesus Christ, the Eternal God.

Every month I will hear people get up in front of the congregation and say, "I know the Book of Mormon is true." I think the true evidence of this would be if we are filled with love which Christ bestows on all who are true followers. Because we, then have become like Him, and have become the sons of God ourselves. THIS, I believe, is the TRUTH of the Book of Mormon. Everything else becomes a distraction, a road block and ultimately pride and contention if He is not the center of our focus.

Anonymous said...

Sorry on the late response. 3 Nephi 2:11-16

11 And it came to pass in the thirteenth year there began to be wars and contentions throughout all the land; for the Gadianton robbers had become so numerous, and did slay so many of the people, and did lay waste so many cities, and did spread so much death and carnage throughout the land, that it became expedient that all the people, both the Nephites and the Lamanites, should take up arms against them.

12 Therefore, all the Lamanites who had become converted unto the Lord did unite with their brethren, the Nephites, and were compelled, for the safety of their lives and their women and their children, to take up arms against those Gadianton robbers, yea, and also to maintain their rights, and the privileges of their church and of their worship, and their freedom and their liberty.

13 And it came to pass that before this thirteenth year had passed away the Nephites were threatened with utter destruction because of this war, which had become exceedingly sore.

14 And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites;

15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;

16 And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year.

lifelongguy said...

I know, totally aside from all this (and I really really like the post, BTW - I **think** I get it. )

But.. I would like to simply challenge the assertion that it's about faith, that, as said by anon @ 8:50am this morning, that it should not come from evidence, that it must be a spiritual confirmation. I know the rhetoric and logic of this, I know the way it rolls from pulpit, but... must it??

Must it be a mystery? A riddle? Did it have to be so hard to believe? Did the evidence that exists or does NOT exist have to muddle up the message? Why couldn't god have ensured his word be perfectly preserved in the bible, for example? I just don't get the mentality of god requiring us to find him **despite** evidence.

I know I am oversimplifying and I don't want to come off as asserting I know god, but the ONLY way I can possibly attempt to relate is through my own relationship with my children, as their father and given the love I have for them. Using that simplistic analogy, I can't fathom sending them on their journey in life without as much help and information and factual understanding as possible. I can't fathom giving them symbolic instructions that contradict other things they know and hoping they figure it out. It simply makes no sense.

Again, I am oversimplifying and I will be accused of having much hubris in assuming some understanding of god... but the whole thing doesn't ring as divine or a life journey or a test - it comes off as a crazy game where the odds are really stacked against me.

Sorry for the tangent.

Shawn C said...

Unknown,

I'm trying not to go off of assumptions here. Personally when I looked into these things heavily, it was a number of years back. I recall listening to some BYU professors as well as quite a bit of FARMS info about the Central America theory and it did not sit right with me. To see to the horizon on flat ground is about 20 miles as afar as I know. Yet the thinnest part of Central America is near the Panama Canal being about 50 miles from water to water. If a Nephite were looking across that, it seems reasonable that it would not be construed as a narrow neck of land.

Those BYU guys I heard actually made the comments that Joseph Smith was confused. There are a number of comments made by Joseph including on Zions camp march and about Zelph. Also some similar comments made near Far West. Pretty cool stuff in my book.

I make no pretense to care who is in contact with the "Brethren" or how they are monitored other than to say that such "monitoring" has a tendency to squelch true complete expression of ideas, some of which are true.

I have watched some of Meldrum's presentations. They are good, but these are my own conclusions.

Truth, the kind that spiritual power comes from, is the combination of many things, including science. Be careful that you don't have to go outside and get the baby. :-)

On a different note, have you guys heard any of the theories about mummies found in Utah, egyptian relics found in the Grand Canyon, the prophet Onandagus from the Zelph story, and even one about the Ark of the Covenant's resting place in Utah? Interesting, but not much compelling evidence.

vi ses,

Anonymous said...

What it really comes down to is that there simply is no archeological evidence. You can try and try to come up with some and spin and twist any type of weak "evidence" you can grasp onto. But in the end, there is none where there should be boatloads. Where is any evidence at all that the battles were fought in the Book of Mormon ANYWHERE? There would definitely be something left behind. Sadly there isn't.

You can fall back on your "faith" if that works for you, but why wouldn't a loving God at least give you something to hang that faith on?

I really just don't understand so much of this. Why give you a Living Prophet? What revelations have there been in the last years? People on this earth are starving to death, loosing jobs, loosing homes, struggling in their marriages and families. What does the Living Prophet of the World give us? Miraculous money left in jean pockets when he was a child???

The Book of Mormon does contain "truths" that are helpful in our lives. But even the Mormon Church doesn't take it's doctrines from this book anymore.

Are even THEY distancing themselves? One has to wonder.

Anonymous said...

Again, great comments and discussion. But, for me....I'll trust that Dr. Michael Coe, one of the most respected Meso-American anthropologists in the world, knows what he's talking about when he says there isn't a shred of evidence to support the Book of Mormon.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Now we're cookin'!

What differentiates the discussion kicked off by Zomarah and Neal Rappleye above from many of the previous comments is that they begin with a presumption of the validity of the Book of Mormon itself. What I expected to trigger with my original post was a discussion on the relative merits of the North American view, not have this thing digress into the usual arguments about Book of Mormon "proofs."

Of course, anyone here is welcome to add anything they want to the conversation and your words will be neither censored nor edited. I have many friends who are formerly LDS, some of whom have quite vigorous objections to the Book of Mormon and are ready to jump in at any time and evangelize with a hundred reasons as to why we believers are such deluded saps.

I respect my Post Mormon friends and have no wish to dissuade them from their opinions. But to them I say: You know I love you, but with all due respect, this is not your discussion.

Non-Mormons, Ex-Mormons, and PostMormons are completely welcome here. I share the feelings and frustrations of many of them in regards to the Corporate Institutional Church(TM).

But on this particular topic the question is not whether the Book of Mormon is inherently "true," or not. If you take my original post as a guide, you'll see the gist of it is about an ongoing debate over where the events described in the Book of Mormon took place. But that they actually DID take place SOMEWHERE is a "given," at least to my mind.

I therefore expected that the discussion that followed my piece would focus on the relative merits of THAT debate such as Rappleye provides, or whether external evidence ultimately even matters at all, as implied by Toscano and Zomarah.

I frequently spend time at a website called The Clubhouse, which is devoted to the hobby of scale modeling. Within that forum you'll find vigorous discussions regarding the relative merits of vinyl over plastic, or the superiority of acrylic paints over enamels. If an outsider were to wander in and ask us why we waste so much time talking about paints and glues and plastics, the answer would probably be "because this is the kind of stuff that interests us."

It would be odd indeed if that outsider kept posting comments trying to dissuade us from our obsessive interest in scale modeling. (Most of us have wives who have already tried.)

So to those who feel compelled to throw a brick through the window and disrupt our conversation with arguments we're already well acquainted with, I say: please allow us to wallow in our sad delusion and continue this dialogue on our own terms. Please.

Unknown said...

Shawn C.,

I am glad you bring this up because I think it is a misunderstood point of geography by most. The BOM says that it is a day and a half journey across the narrow neck. This is by military standards, not by walking. The military runners in Mesoamerica could traverse the isthmus of Tehuantepec in the alloted time without a problem. This is a short minute and a half video which has footage of what Mesoamericanists believe to be the narrow neck and narrow passage. Check it out, it is pretty cool
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgH-byF1gJw

Joseph Smith even placed the narrow neck in Mesoamerica:

"They [the Nephites] lived about the narrow neck of land, which now embraces Central America, with all the cities that can be found." Times and Seasons, vol. 3 No. 21 September 1, 1842 915.

In Meldrums theory, the narrow neck is north of the hill Cumorah, not south of it like The Book of Mormon requires. Just because there is "a" narrow neck in that area does not make it "the" narrow neck in The Book of Mormon. There are certain qualifications it must have to be it, and the the Meldrum narrow neck just does not have it.
There is also evidence from the Levi Hancock journal. Levi records Joseph Smith stating that where Zelph was found, was the land Desolation. Again, since the land Desolation was in the land northward, that would mean that *all* the BOM events happened South of that area. That would immediately dismiss the Great Lakes area as BOM lands.

Unknown said...

Shawn C, continued.

I hope I am not coming across as forcing my opinion of BOM geography on you. To be honest, I really don't care what others believe about what has not been revealed (therefore, all of the theories are only conjecture.) I only find Meldrum's tactics unethical (he has dismissed those who disagree with him by calling them apostate, athiests, he has called me an anti-capitalist [huh???], with a host of other names. He has said that those who disagree with him are going against the Prophet. He has mis-quoted prophets, scientific literature, history books, etc... to prove an unprovable point. If you disagree with him publicly, get ready to have your character attacked without reason. He doesn't address the evidence raised against him, only says he is being persecuted and begins the name calling. I think people should know the weaknesses of this theory before accepting it wholeheartedly.)
Point being, it is the tactics of the proponent of this theory that I find unsettling. I still disagree with it, but who cares where it took place? I do enjoy the conversation, but it is speculative on both sides.
Rant over.
I don't know who you are speaking of at BYU, but I have read quite a bit on this topic and have never come across anything like you quote from them saying that "Joseph was confused." My guess is that they have not studied the topic and didn't have an answer to the question. But in all my reading, they have never said anything like that.

Anonymous said...

Unknown, great info and wonderful posts. But, save your breath. Rock won't listen to commonsense or reason. Look at his history with the polygamy question. He swallowed hook line and sinker the theory that Joseph Smith never lived polygamy (mainly because JS denied living it!). Sorry Rock, you have had some very great blog posts, but these two (this last one and the one about Joseph not living polygamy) are two of your very worst ever and they make you look quite foolish. Just my opinion, but there you have it.

Rock, you claim to be an active, believing member of the church yet you go against them and their teachings on both of these subjects. The Cog-dis must be excruciating for you!

Unknown said...

I guess I should explain what I think about Zelph, plains of the Nephites, etc... statements that Joseph Smith made. I agree with Norman Pierce when he wrote “Why were the prominent chieftain Zelph and the great Prophet Onandagus, who was known from the eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains, not mentioned at all in the Book of Mormon? Surely a prophet of such prominence would have received some notice had he been known to the historians of the Book of Mormon. The answer is very obvious:—Because the Book of Mormon historians who were down in Central America, knew nothing at all of either the Prophet Onandagus or [of] the Chieftain Zelph. It was more than 400 years before Mormon's time that Hagoth sailed north, and we only have a report of the first ship returning. . . . Naturally, both Mormon and Moroni were too far removed from Onandagus and Zelph to report them.”
. The Book of Mormon speaks about several migrations to the North. Alma 63:4-9 recounts the migration of “five-thousand and four hundred men, with their wives and their children” from Zarahemla to the land which was “northward”. That same year, Hagoth built a “large ship” and sailed “into the land northward”. That ship returned and was filled again, as well as many “other” ships that were built and again sailed “northward”. In the thirty-ninth year, another ship sailed northward carrying provisions to those who had previously left, and it did not return.
There is quite a bit of evidence of migrations from Mesoamerica ending up in the Hopewell areas. There is agricultural, architectural, archaeological, and DNA studies which show this to be true. So do I believe that there were Lehites in North America among the Hopewell? Absolutely, the evidence says so. Do I believe that they were the main focus of The BOM? No. But Joseph Smith was correct in every statement he made.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Stephen Smoot,
Of course I'm not going to censor you. I'm all about seeing the whole picture. I appreciate you providing those links. The first one you provide I did link to in my article, and the other two I have not seen. Matt Roper was one of my favorite apologists back in the day so I look forward to reading those pieces as soon as time allows, and I hope others here will examine them also.

I thought I was pretty clear about my feelings about "those nasty, mean apologists" at FARMS and FAIR. My disappointment stems from a gradual realization that some of those apologists were coming off as spin doctors in defense of the Church(TM) rather than honest defenders of the faith. I do not accuse all apologists of scholarly dishonesty, but given time I could find you quite a few clear examples. Perhaps by now those weasels have been weeded out. I hope so. Like I said, I have been out of that loop for awhile.

Because I find some of Meldrum's opinions compelling does not mean that I embrace everything he posits, though on the DVD set I watched he seemed to provide a thorough justification for his holdings, and addressing the views of his critics. Certainly Meldrum over-reaches in some areas, and his enthusiasm for his subject could certainly color any claims of impartiality.

An example would be the video clip I included entitled "Rod Meldrum at the Great Circle Earthworks" in Ohio. Superimposed on the video is a label that identifies him as being "On location at the Great Circle Nephite Defences."

Assuming Meldrum posted that label there, he's not then claiming this COULD be the location of Nephite defenses, he's claiming it absolutely IS. So, if I were him I would have been a bit more circumspect about it.

But like I say, he's enthusiastic about his subject.

Shawn C said...

Unknown,

Cool stuff, a few new things to me. Thank you.

Again, let me be clear. I've read a few things from Meldrum, but most of my theories are my own. I like to hear what others say, because my theories are certainly not concrete. So thanks again, you've got some good stuff.

I believe Joseph did mention where Zarahemla, and Manti, and Boutiful and such were according to some journals from Zions camp in the Ojio and Great Lakes area. Do you or anyone know anything about that?


Anonymous 11:10,
Attacks will get you know where, don't be an ass! You come here, read a post, then get angry when the author doesn't see it your way? Seems odd? Take it easy. There is much to learn out there young padawan.

Zo-ma-rah said...

Ok, I have two thoughts:

1. Are there other North America geography theories that don't rely upon Meldrum? Or is his the only option?

2. ZELPH!!!!!!

Sorry, about number 2 I had to get my spam out. Completely unprofessional I know but I just wanted a bit of fun.

Anonymous said...

Rock states:
"I'm all about seeing the whole picture."
Really? I mean, REALLY? Come on, you couldn't be MORE CLOSED-MINDED on these subjects!

I almost choked when I read that! You and your great sense of humor!! Gotta Love Ya!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Unknown,
You quote extensively from reviews of Stephens and Catherword's discoveries published in the Times and Seasons supporting a Central American setting.

Many scholars believe pieces to have been written by John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, and not by Joseph Smith, who was known to have been in hiding at the time those pieces were published.

Neal Rappleye provides links to an article which I have not yet finished reading discussing the Word Analysis of the pieces in an effort to differentiate the writings of Joseph Smith over the others. It's difficult to know who wrote what because the pieces were not signed. I gather that the apologetic piece has determined that Joseph Smith was the author, but I don't know.

Meldrum spends considerable time on one of his DVDs arguing that the patterns show John Taylor's fingerprints, pointing out that Joseph Smith's contributions to the Times and Seasons usually contained his signature at the bottom and providing several other reasons for rejecting those reviews as coming from Joseph Smith.

This is why I recommend obtaining the videos and getting Meldrum's take, as well as examining the criticism from the Maxwell Institute if anyone hopes to get anywhere near the nub of the thing. At this point I think the argument that they were Taylor's work is more convincing. But who can really know for sure?

One thing we shouldn't do is categorically claim Joseph Smith said a certain thing when the claim is in dispute. Rod Meldrum is not some lone advocate of these theories. Most of what he espouses, he got from other experts and scholars in various fields. He just happens to be the current public face representing the North American view.

Zo-ma-rah said...

Anonymous 11:56: I love you brother/sister. You have a lot of great energy. I hope you can find a constructive outlet for your energy. Have a great day.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Inspire,
As always, you nailed it. You have perfectly encapsulated the reasons why the Book of Mormon has value.

Your comment made me realize that the entire message of the Book of Mormon can be instilled into one sentence: The further we get from the Golden Rule, the more problems we're going to have.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Zo-ma-rah! Your posts are some of the best on this blog so far! I love reading your insights.

And Rock, no one can dispute that the Book of Mormon contains some valuable truths and thoughts. But there are 100's of fictional books with the same value that can change a person's life. Fictional or true, the Book of Mormon has lasted and is still being read by some today.

I do feel that the mainstream Mormon church is distancing itself from it though. Much because of discrepancies such as this (and also the DNA issues + much more).

Alan Rock Waterman said...

LifelongGuy,
You wonder why a loving God would not ensure that religious truth would have endured unspoiled throughout the centuries so that we wouldn't have to have our faith "tested."

I'm not sure any of that is God's doing. Since God has to allow mankind their free agency, he can't interfere with men who dilute and corrupt His pure teachings. I don't think any of this has anything to do with God testing us.

In fact, I don't believe God tests us at all like this. This stuff is life and death sometimes. I don't think God toys with his children like that.

What God does to overcome the dilution of his word is retain a remnant like Inspire refers to above, so that the truth can be available to all who seek.

lifelongguy said...

@anon 12:13 - I agree entirely - the BOM is becoming a burden to the church at this point, a distraction because of "all that" so any message of truth or goodness is becoming lost. It is also entirely unreflective of the current church in doctrine, principle, or practice. Your point is well made - I find myself brought to tears, emotionally, reading many of the great books of fiction and without exception all of them contain value, teach lessons of humanity and love, and do so without the encumbrances of having to be "proven" or testified as to their truthfulness. And as that is the case, why would I spend more time with the BOM - something I have already read and studied far more than it deserved relative to what else there is to learn and gain from in the world?

Unknown no longer said...

Shawn C,
Let me start with geographical problems. The BOM requires that Manti be south of Zarahemla and have the head waters of Sidon begin there (Alma 2; 6:7-8, 17:1, 43:22). What some claim that Joseph Smith said puts Manti more west of Zarahemla than anything, it is not next to a river which must be flowing north (Mississippi flows south), and must be below the narrow neck of land which is south of Cumorah, and south of the land of Desolation. The geography just doesn't fit. This Manti just does not match the geography or Joseph Smith previous statements.

Did Joseph Smith actually say that Manti was in Huntsville? There is no evidence which can place him as the author of that information. On the contrary, it actually originated from a misunderstanding that Huntsville would be a *future* city which they would call Manti, not the ancient city named by Joseph Smith. Due to lack of space, I'll post a link you can refer to for more information: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=22&num=2&id=805
Just scroll down to "Manti"

The name of Zarahemla was given by the Saints to the place across the river prior to 1841 when it was recorded in the D/C. They were giving areas they lived in BOM names, just as we do today. In Utah there is a Bountiful, Nephi, Lehi, Farr West, etc... These are not the same places in The Book of Mormon but were named after the places in The BOM. The Lord has done the same thing in the latter days. He has referred to modern places that also have the same name as ancient ones, but obviously not speaking about the ancient locations. So both locations cannot be traced to Joseph Smith, but to the members of the Church about future and already named locations. I would refer you to the above link for a more detailed analysis of the issue.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous at 9:37,
You ask where is all the evidence of all these great battles that were supposed to have taken place in the Book of Mormon?

I would ask you where is all the evidence of the 60 million buffalo whose corpses were left to rot on the plains?

The answer is they have disintegrated. While bones that are buried in the grown can remain intact for centuries, bones left lying in the sun and exposed to air bleach and then oxydize, eventually moldering into the ground around them.

Shawn above alluded to the complaints of the farmers around Cumorah of the heavy concentration of lime in soil, a sign of decayed bones.

As for the weapons, I believe I mentioned the literally thousands of arrow and spear heads that were plentiful all over this continent in pilgrim and pioneer days. People sometimes couldn't walk through them. The spears and arrows themselves were made of wood that would have long rotted away, so if you're looking for some sticks, they won't be there. Big stone club heads were plentiful, though.

Unknown no longer said...

Alan,
Meldrum tries to claim that Joseph Smith was in hiding during the Sept and Oct 1842 Times and Seasons therefore, could not author them. Even if that is the case, which it is not, he still said the same thing on numerous other locations. His geography does not rise or fall on those two publications alone.
In regards to those publications, Joseph Smith continued to perform his duties while in "hiding." First, while in hiding, he wasn't secluding himself by any means. He went to his house on September 2nd, 11th -14th, 16th-20th, 22nd-24th, 27th-30th, October 3rd-6th and the 20th. That does not include short visits, but only visits that were “all day”. During the time Joseph Smith was in “hiding” he continued on with his duties which he previously had. He held meetings with members of the Twelve Apostles, received revelation now found in the Doctrine and Covenants, wrote and received letters, and met with John Taylor, the assistant editor of Times and Seasons on at least two separate occasions. One of those occasions Joseph Smith specifically “counseled Elder Taylor concerning the printing office.” The Prophet also kept up on local news. We have account of him reading from the newspapers The Wasp, The Quincy Whig, and the New York Herald. It would seem improbable that he read from many periodicals and newspapers, yet neglect to read or edit his own. It was life as usual with him.

Anonymous said...

Rock posted:
"You ask where is all the evidence of all these great battles that were supposed to have taken place in the Book of Mormon?
......
The answer is they have disintegrated."

Uh...Riiiggghhhttt! That's honestly the best you can come up with? Really?
"Disintegrated"???

Please tell me you are not serious. Please tell me you really are more intelligent and informed than that. Please?

You are joking, aren't you?

Anonymous said...

Rock,
You have read all about the metals, shields, chariots and so on involved in these battles, haven't you? There were more than JUST BONES that would have to have disintegrated. You do know that, correct?

So, are you really going to put in writing that you believe all of the above listed (and more) just disintegrated....vanished....nothing, nada, zip, zero left of ANY of those?

Ok, now I'm really embarrassed for you. Sorry, man. But, come on...think!! Use that brain God gave you to start using some reason on your own.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous at 11:10 said:

"Rock, you claim to be an active, believing member of the church yet you go against them and their teachings on both of these subjects. The Cog-dis must be excruciating for you!"

You've got it partly right, Anonymous. I'm a member of the church, but "The Church" is not what I believe in. I believe in the organic teachings of the Restoration. Where I "go against" the Institutional Church(TM)is in those instances where I feel that organization has strayed from it's roots.

It's clear that one of us is displaying cognitive dissonance here, but I would suggest it's the one who is unable to differentiate between the Church and the gospel.

Unknown no longer said...

Alan,
Like I said before, he claimed The BOM took place in Mesoamerica numerous other times other than those two months. He also allowed it to be published in the semi-official Church publication the Times and Seasons, over and over. If it was wrong, he would have corrected them. But instead, he praised them.
Joseph Smith said that he alone was responsible for it's content, that includes the Mesoamerican setting for The Book of Mormon. He was Editor in Chief of that periodical and wrote consistently and proofed the material. He said in March of 1842 that "This paper commences my editorial career, I alone stand for it, and shall do for all papers having my signature henceforward. I am not responsible for the publication, or arrangement of the former paper; the matter did not come under my supervision. JOSEPH SMITH"

Joseph Smith signed his name usually as "Ed." An example of this can be seen in the April 1 and the 15th 1842 Times and Seasons. It is recorded in Church History that he wrote the articles "Try the Spirits" and the editorial on baptism for the dead, yet they are signed as "Ed." Joseph Smith signed his name to several articles placing The BOM in Mesoamerica. That is on top of his many other Mesoamerican based statements.

Unknown no longer said...

I'm spending WAAAAYYYYY too much time on this topic and am going to take a break. Email me if anyone has any questions about this topic at livy111us@yahoo.com

Good luck to all!

Anonymous said...

Great posts "Unknown no longer". Very intelligent, well researched and factual.
Thanks, I've enjoyed reading them. Keep them coming!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Shawn,
I've heard that theory about the Ark of the Covenant being brought over with Lehi, but I couldn't tell you any more about it. I don't remember much about the argument for that theory, but the proponent does quote a passage about Lehi's family bringing with them other treasures and precious things. Or something.

Anonymous said...

Rock, might I suggest that you do a whole lot more reading and researching ON YOUR OWN rather than just reading a book or watching a few DVDs and then posting your newly found "belief" for everyone to see. I really am embarrassed for you because both this theory and the "no polygamy" theory have been completely and utterly proven to be false. Why not try to look up some first hand evidence rather than regurgitating this type of material? You deserve better. I can tell you are a great guy, but are very easily fooled and swayed.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous at 11:55 says to me, "you couldn't be MORE CLOSED-MINDED on these subjects!"

Examining evidence and arriving at certain conclusions does not constitute being closed minded any more than adjusting those conclusions when introduced to further information constitutes waffling.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Unknown no longer,
Meldrum addresses your objections in his DVD series, including the problem of the Mississippi running south. I think it's worth a look.

His theory on Zarahemla is based partly on section 132 where the Lord commands Joseph to name the area (now Keokuk)Zarahemla, presumably -and I say "presumably"- because that was the site of the original Zarahemla. Meldrum provides some rather compelling scriptural and geographical reasons for this, not the least is that location is the only place the on the entire river where the Mississippi is shallow enough to be crossed on foot (a depth of 2.4 feet, I think).

Do I believe Keokuk actually is Zarahemla? Hell, I don't know. Kinda cool to think so, though.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Unknown No Longer,
Your point that a lot of cities in Utah were named after Book of Mormon cities is well taken, but as far as I know, Zarahemla is the only specific spot named by the Lord. I think the intention was to build another Mormon city there.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Unknown no longer,
Thanks for that info on Joseph's activities while in hiding. I guess the questions on the Stepen-Calderwood articles come down to (1) Did he take the time to write those extensive pieces during this very busy period, or (2) Did he read Taylor's articles in advance and approve them for publication?

My personal opinion is that it's more likely Joseph trusted Taylor and Wilford to run the paper on their own. But your points are well taken.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

When I was younger I believed the Times and Seasons was the complete work of Joseph Smith himself, but since then I've come to question how direct a hand he had in the enterprise, given all the other attention required of him.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous at 12:30,
Yes I do believe that bones eventually disintegrate, more rapidly when left out in the air than they do when buried. What do you think happens to them? Again, I would ask you, what happened to all those buffalo bones? We know that the hides were taken and the corpses left to rot. Do you think 60 million buffalo skeletons were just taken up in the sky during some Bison rapture?

Bones left on the ground, like flesh, eventually rot, mold, dissolve, and return to the ground. You have heard the saying "dust to dust," have you not?

Shawn C said...

One last comment. The BoM talks much about the "Promised Land". I understand that Joseph identified the USA (not North America) as the promised land. I could be wrong on that? But if that is the case, I would think perhaps the promised land is the USA. The promise of keeping the commandments and prospering in the land of promise is repeated often in the BoM. The US certainly seems like a good promised land, prospering type place. At least for a little while longer.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous at 12:38,
Apparently you are not aware of the headpieces that have been found.

By the way, why is it that those who are most vociferous with their insults always prefer to remain anonymous?

You do know that you can post here under a pseudonym such as "Jackass" or "Willfully Ignorant" don't you?

Anonymous said...

Unknown,
You have given such great references and evidence that completely disputes what Rock has put forth as what he feels is great evidence. It's like banging your head against the wall trying to have a discussion with Rock. He could BE the man in this story:

There is a story about a man (Rock) who is seeing a therapist.

"So you believe you are really dead?", asks the therapist.
"Yes."
"Can dead men feel pain?"
"No."

Then the therapist jabs the man with a pen in the leg.

"Ouch!"
"You felt that?"
"Yes."
"What does that tell you?"
"I guess I'm wrong. Dead men DO feel pain"

Anonymous said...

Rock states:
"Apparently you are not aware of the headpieces that have been found."

And I say, "sure I'm aware of them! But, so what? Is there anything connecting them to the Book of Mormon writings?"

Nope. None. Nada. Zero.

What part of that don't you get?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous at 12:50,
You declare that "the "no polygamy" theory [has] been completely and utterly proven to be false.

Well, I've put out requests to see that proof some time ago, and have yet to see any. I'll tell you I don't count:

1. Anything in the Documentary History of the Church that claims to have been excerpted from Joseph Smith's diaries, but has been doctored so that it does not match his actual diaries.

2. So-called "diaries" of Joseph Smith's alleged "wives" written circa 1878.

3. Anything Brigham Young said about how "Brother Joseph taught it to me."

What I have not seen, but should expect to if Joseph did indeed marry other women:

1. Anything remotely traceable to Joseph Smith where he admitted to the practice.

2. Any mention in the many diaries of the young girls at the time that they had the privilege of becoming the wife of the Prophet.

Most of these girls kept secret diaries, but if you look up the dates they were supposedly wed to the prophet, there's nary a hint. Not even from Eliza Snow.

So, Anonymous, if this has been satisfactorily proven, please provide me with your best evidence. I'm dying to change my mind.

Zo-ma-rah said...

@Unknown no longer: Thank you for that information about Manti. I'VE NOW LOCATED ANOTHER ONE OF THE TWELVE STAKES OF ZION.

AWESOME!!!!

I can now add Manti to the list.

*starts typing*

Unknown no longer said...

Wow, I need a hobby. I couldn't resist coming back here....
Alan,
The Saints called it Zarahemla *prior* to the revelation. That is why I mentioned the Lord using the names of Bountiful, Nephi, Lehi, etc... in modern days because he was referring to a modern named city, as opposed of revealing an ancient location of a city. He was just referring to it as how the saints knew that area, as Zarahemla. They named it, not the Lord.

To me, it doesn't matter if Joseph Smith wrote the Sept/Oct 1842 editorials or approved them. Either way, he approved their teachings. Again, this isn't the only time that Joseph Smith subscribed to a Mesoamerican setting for The Book of Mormon, so it doesn't matter much that way either. He taught it over and over again the last few years of his life.

Shawn C said...

Rock,

Off topic, but I understood that (was it John Bennett?) was making many claims about Smith and the plural marriages that were taking place in the Expositor newspaper. Joseph ordered it destroyed, thus the arrest that led him to Carthage? Is this accurate?

Anonymous said...

Rock wrote:
"So, Anonymous, if this has been satisfactorily proven, please provide me with your best evidence. I'm dying to change my mind."
Really?

Is that why you ran away like a coward from the discussion you had going on over on the New Order Mormon forum about this? They provided incredibly, definitive evidence and you quickly disappeared!

I've seen you do the same on other forums. It's becoming your known M.O.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous said...

"Rock states:
"Apparently you are not aware of the headpieces that have been found."

And I say, "sure I'm aware of them! But, so what? Is there anything connecting them to the Book of Mormon writings?"

Nope. None. Nada. Zero.

What part of that don't you get?"

So we're back to that, huh? Proving or disproving the Book of Mormon?

No thanks. I refer you to my comment this morning at 9:45.

Come back when you can provide an argument with some substance to it, like Stephen Smoot and Unknown No Longer.

Zo-ma-rah said...

Anonymous: I'm curious. Just what do you believe, spirituality wise?

Unknown no longer said...

Shawn C,
That is an excellent point, and something that should be addressed. The Lord, scriptures and Prophets haven't confined the land of promise to within the bounds of the USA. 1 Nephi 13:12 speaks about a man who is a gentile, wrought upon by the Holy Ghost to go forth among many waters to discover the Promise land. Who is this man? Well, the 1879 Book of Mormon claims it is Christopher Columbus. So, Chris Columbus discovered the Promise land, correct? Did you know that he never stepped foot on what we know as the United States? He did, however, land is Central America. The History of the Church states "these two American continents [North and South]. These continents are a promised land.” (pg 552)
Joseph Smith said that "Zion encompassed consists of all N[orth] & S[outh] America" July 19th 1840
This is reiterated by Wilford Woodruff, Ezra Taft Benson, Orson Pratt, and many others in official Church publications.

But I think this article deals with it best:
http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=22&num=2&id=806

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Unknown No Longer said, "The Saints called it Zarahemla *prior* to the revelation."

Thanks for that clarification. That certainly makes a difference.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous said,
"Is that why you ran away like a coward from the discussion you had going on over on the New Order Mormon forum about this? They provided incredibly, definitive evidence and you quickly disappeared!"

You've gotta be kidding. If you were there you know I was a key participant in that discussion for at least a couple of days until everyone involved petered out from exhaustion.

Perhaps the thread has picked up again. I guess I should go look.

Anonymous said...

Hi Zo-ma-rah!
Thanks for asking! (I would love to know the same of you.)

I believe in a Creator and I am a very spiritual person. I learned the truth about much of the history of the church a few years ago and I do still attend off and on. Most of my family is still very much "in" the church so it will always be a part of my life. I am fine with this and I love the members. It's the coverups and deceit from the top that is difficult to take. I love the Gospel and Christ's teachings, but will most likely never be a part of organized religion again. Luckily, my wife is on the same page!

Again, thanks for asking!

Anonymous said...

Rock stated:
"You've gotta be kidding. If you were there you know I was a key participant in that discussion for at least a couple of days until everyone involved petered out from exhaustion."
Now, Rock. You know that's not even close to what happened. Several asked you over and over to give some evidence for your stance (after they'd blown you out of the water with their opposing evidence) and you simply never came back. It was all very strange, to be honest. I wasn't involved in the discussion but it was great reading while it lasted!

Anonymous said...

By the way Rock, please don't think I feel you're completely full of it. I loved your blog posts on Daymon Smith and also your last one about the talks at General Conference. Great stuff!

But you are completely off base when it comes to your arguments about polygamy (or should I say, NO polygamy) and this last post, in my opinion.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous said,
"Now, Rock. You know that's not even close to what happened. Several asked you over and over to give some evidence for your stance (after they'd blown you out of the water with their opposing evidence) and you simply never came back."

If you were on that thread, you'll recall it was me who was asking for evidence. I had already presented my perspective here:

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-im-abandoning-polygamy.html

And here:

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-mormon-history-is-not-what-they-say.html

To my memory, no one on that thread provided anything approximating the kind of Best Evidence that would have been accepted in a court of law or an objective non-Mormon historian.

Believe it or not, I do have a life offline, and when I received no further email notices that the thread was active, I moved on. If indeed as you say the discussion continued and actual proof of Joseph's involvement in polygamy exists there, I look forward to logging back on and learning about it. If anyone can prove to my satisfaction that Joseph Smith was a liar when he denied engaging in plural marriage, you can depend on me to write a blog post about it.

For now, however, the real world beckons and I have to leave the house for the rest of the day. I've been on here way too long already.

Anonymous said...

Well Rock,
Let me refresh your memory. I could go back over and look at the thread, but there's no forgetting that a poster named "George Miller"
had just completely annihilated you (along with Prices' book about JS not living polygamy). George Miller is extremely well and intelligent and you were quickly in over your head. At least the last 3 or 4 posters asked for you to give some proof of your argument and George Miller had also requested some information from you. Several asked where you had disappeared to, but most realized you'd been seriously outmatched.

Anonymous said...

Correction for above post
Meant to say:
"George Miller is extremely well researched on this subject"
Sorry!

Steven Lester said...

Mr. Anonymous, I know that you are having a great time writing all of these posts which are attacking Rock so vehemently, but you are trying way too hard to be noticed. You obviously are enjoying knowing that a man of Rock's stature is actually talking to you, somebody who will not even assign to himself a title or a handle for fear of being found out. I've done this myself on various board discussions, where somebody will write something and then I will shoot it down and then he will get all defensive and I will then enjoy being noticed and touched by somebody else, under my control, although he doesn't know it until I let him in on my deception, or he figures it out on his own, although his anger almost always blinds him to the reality behind our exchange.

The only thing that can stop me is when the room clears out and goes dead. Then, I will laughingly go elsewhere and try again. Fun Times. You aren't very good at it yet, though. Outright insults and declarations of moral superiority via being "embarrassed" for somebody is rank amateurism. You need to learn to be far more subtle. A good book on the psychology of negotiation will be of great help to you. Practice up somewhere else and then, when you return to us, you'll be so skilled that none of us will know what has hit us, but until then...give it up, all ready! You have been found out.

Anonymous said...

Mr Lester,
Please do not attribute all the comments by "anonymous" to me. There are many on here who are adding comments under this.
Also, just because you have chosen to use certain tactics to get "enjoyment" online, don't impose those onto me. You couldn't be more wrong. (But it's nice to know you are the type of person who uses these tactics and then goes "laughingly elsewhere" to "try again"). You must have a lot of time on your hands and you also must be so proud of your ethics! Very revealing. YOU are the one who has "been found out", my friend! (Who even talks that way? LOL)

I read all of Rock's blog posts and have given him praise as much as speaking up when I disagree. That's what an open forum such as this one allows.

If I see him misrepresenting something, I will speak up and call him on it. I'm also not quite sure what you are referring to when you stated "a man of Rock's stature"? Really? I mean, he writes some entertaining blog posts and seems like a great guy, but "stature"?

I have only spoken up with the truth here. No "outright insults" (although Rock has thrown a few around on here at others), nor do I ever feel "morally superior". (Again, you are really revealing YOURSELF here!).

But, when there are those who post on here and state they were "used" in the DVDs and that they were misrepresented or that they do not want to be a part of this, I think they need to be acknowledged. (Derek at 1:34 p.m. on Nov. 2) stated this and more:
"Alan... intellectual honesty is lost when ideas are manipulated to support a position that those ideas nor their authors support.",
But he was just ignored by Rock! That wasn't right, in my opinion.

There have also been posters on here who have skillfully outright proven much of what has been presented here to be false and Rock also just ignores it or twists it. He tends to come to a conclusion and they do all kinds of gymnastics in order to keep making the evidence fit his conclusion.

This is a discussion, do you really want it to be all one sided? I think Rock is very capable of handling himself on here and representing his side. You didn't do him any favors by what you posted and revealed about yourself above.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Penn,
One should also be bright enough as to not lump all the comments together under one person.

That should be obvious.

John Penn said...

"One should also be bright enough as to not lump all the comments together under one person."

It is my opinion that Mr. Lester was speaking to the "anonymous" poster acting immature, if this has not been you, why lump yourself in with him? You could've just as easily left it alone.

Obvious?

Steven Lester said...

No, it is the same Anonymous that has been writing all along here. He has the same written syntax all the way through. That is, flighty and over-blown. Single sentences serving as paragraphs. The use of attacking and insulting phrasing, which would earn him a punch in the mouth were he to utter them in a bar or some other den of real men, although there he would have remained entirely silent, the coward that he is. There is a difference between intelligent discussion using supported ideas and outright viciousness. Anonymous uses only the latter, smilingly, knowing that he can get away with it sitting behind a keyboard, unknown and so very safe from physical retribution. These kind of people are called roaches in some circles, other things elsewhere, all of the names well-earned.

All he wants is to noticed. Perhaps we should just ignore him until he just leaves.

John Penn said...

Did I just hear a bottle break?

Steven Lester said...

In truth.

Anonymous said...

"In Truth"?
Hilarious coming from you! Why don't you expound on how you believe 9/11 was in inside job? Truth? Uh, ok.
Talk about getting a punch in your mouth if you uttered your beliefs in a bar or den or real men. RLMAO

John Penn said...

Whoa, whoa...How'd we get to 9/11 Truth?? Way to be a little crass, there, Anonymous. Or was that the other Anonymous?

Why don't you expound on your belief that a bunch of Arab "Terrorists" hijacked planes with no windows, flew them in to buildings (WTC), left no debris (Pentagon), got shot down over Pennsylvania (Rumsfeld), and managed to implode a completely empty building (WTC 7)?? Can you do that for me "Official Story". It actually would go quite far in understanding your assessment of "evidence".

There ya go, instead of "Anonymous" you can post under the name "Official Story". Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

Ask Steven Lester.

He's the one with all the posts on this website (and others) spewing forth his belief that 9/11 was an inside job.

I think it's a bunch of garbage.

Anonymous said...

Oops!

Looks like John Penn also believes in conspiracy theories (sorry I misread your post)!

That explains a lot.

(It also severely undermines any of your other beliefs or opinions.)

John Penn said...

"Official Story", didn't you accuse Rock of "ignoring" inquiries on another board? Yet, we find you doing the same type of deflection here? I, in essence, asked you why you thought Mr. Lester's 9/11 beliefs/opinions/thoughts were "garbage" and you respond with "it's garbage", I'd already gathered that.

My question is, though, why reference a topic you already disagree with, that isn't being discussed? The intent can't be noble.

John Penn said...

"(It also severely undermines any of your other beliefs or opinions.)"

That's funny, I haven't shared any of my personal beliefs as of yet.

I guess you really can "judge a book" by the cover you've misread and haven't bothered to crack.

Alas, this digression has gone on far too long, my apologies to Rock for allowing it to continue.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, John....but I honestly didn't feel this was the time or place to have a lengthy discussion about 9/11 theories. We can do that elsewhere, if you'd like. I was just using it as an example for what Steven believed was the "truth" (since he threw the word out there)with inference to "truth" being different for each one of us.

I respect others right to believe whatever they wish whether it's about church topics or 9/11. But I will speak up when I disagree (again, that is what a debate or discussion is). I did not mean to start an off topic debate about 9/11 as there are plenty of other places set up online to do that.

I had no idea 9/11 was such a "hot button" for either you or Steven. It was just an example given.

John Penn said...

"I had no idea 9/11 was such a "hot button" for either you or Steven. It was just an example given."

It doesn't really matter what the side topic is. The fact remains that you (poorly) attempted to bait Mr. Lester into a farcical discussion on a topic he may be passionate about, not because you resonate with him on the subject matter, but because it would have been fun to mock him for the beliefs you think are "garbage".

Aa I recall, the roman soldiers did the same thing by placing a crown of thorns on the Masters head.

Like I said; "The intent can't [have been] noble."

Toni said...

Rock, just letting you know that I quoted some from this post and posted a link to here on a forum I'm a member of. I thought they'd be interested in what you had to say.

I scanned through the comments. Not interested in taking part of the vigorous discussion. Eventually, time will tell what the truth is about all the things discussed on this thread.

Thanks for sharing.

Unknown no longer said...

Seeing that this thread has taken a turn for the worst, I feel it necessary to post the definition of ad hominem, which seems be prominent in both sides of this current discussion.

ad ho·mi·nem   [ad hom-uh-nuhm ‐nem, ahd-] Show IPA
adjective
1.
appealing to one's prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one's intellect or reason.
2.
attacking an opponent's character rather than answering his argument.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I've only popped in here for a moment and have to leave again immediately due to family obligations, but I thought I'd make two points:

1. My feelings are hurt that our anonymous troublemaker does not feel I am "a man of stature." I stand six feet, two inches, and have always felt that was tall enough.

2. Any police detective will tell you that when a crime is committed, the first thing one does is assume conspiracy. It is only politicians, media whores, and fools who would ridicule the idea of a thorough investigation. The larger the crime, the more likely two or more persons were involved in carrying it out -and the more likely that politicians, media whores, and fools will insist the important questions remain unanswered.

And now I must go, get in my car, and run away like the coward our unidentified poster has earlier accused me of being.

Toni said...

I am amazed at Rock's tolerance. If someone had come to my blog and had viciously attacked and slandered me, I would have deleted the comments and turned on comment moderation. I also would delete all of the posts that went off on tangents (polygamy, etc.) because they were obviously meant to attack, not to shed light on the original post.

Rock, you are amazing.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Why thank you, Toni.

I decided from the outset that this would be a free-flowing forum, so I don't really mind when things veer off into tangents. Whatever thoughts my own thoughts trigger in others usually makes for an interesting dialogue.

I will admit that this time I have been tempted to delete additional contributions from our Anonymous disrupter, as it can't really be said that his comments advance the dialogue. If he wished to challenge me on what he considers my "cowardice" there are more polite ways of doing so. (My email address is available to anyone by clicking on "View My Complete Profile")

I have a pretty thick skin, but I admit to getting quite irked when "Anonymous" unfairly disparaged Steven Lester, and earlier when he called Zomarah an idiot. I have come to know both Steven and Zomarah through offline conversations, and I consider them both good friends. At the risk of appearing unChristlike, I confess to understanding of Steven's desire to punch this guy in the nose. I wanted to do that very thing when he insulted my friends.

I reckon if a sufficient number of readers feel it would be appropriate, I'll consider watching out for this guy and deleting any more of comments if he continues his evil and immature ways.

Anyway, thanks for the compliment, Toni.

-The Amazing Rock

P.S. Jon Penn and others, I also appreciate your recent attempts to persuade our little nuisance to show some manners and a bit of circumspection also. Good one about the breaking bottle, Jon.

Toni said...

I vote for deleting any further dark and slanderous posts. Like you said, there are more polite ways to address disagreements.

The Arkwelder said...

I think "knowing" where the events of the Book of Mormon took place is vitally important. No, not because "seeing is believing," but because it has mythological importance. Mormonism is an American religion, with a distinctly American narrative. Furthermore, it IS the solution to the problems America faces today, i.e., financial, social, political. This sounds like stating the obvious, but there was no "bad" side in the Book of Mormon, despite how we try to character it. That is, it wasn't Nephites=Good and Lamanites=Bad. You would have thought Lehi was a crazy old kook, too, and Nephi a pompous bastard. The Nephites were beset by cycles, ever closer to the brink of destruction each round. The Lamanites were lukewarm but stable. Sound familiar? What the Lamanites had forgotten the Nephites had rebelled against outright. From an objective point of view, the Nephites were clearly the more wicked tribe. My point, if they had successfully reconciled in the end, they would have found that they were the anti-dote to the other's cancer. Instead, one side was literally annihilated, and the other was culturally annihilated.

That's the history of the North American Indian, not the South American Indian. Joseph did a wonderful thing when he founded Mormonism. He gave an upstart religion a sense of history. That is, he gave the (white) Mormons a sense of heritage. As a white, North American Mormon, I have adopted the Nephite history, including all its inherent warnings. Instead of Nephites and Lamanites, we have Ephraimites and Manassites, but all the warnings and conditions are the same. We've got a chance to get right what the Nephites got wrong. We've got a chance at reconciliation--with the North American Indians who are anchored in their respect and connectedness to this land, which they know intuitively is their god-given inheritance. It sounds overly simplistic, but I believe if this reconciliation can take place, which would require a complete overhaul of the Nephite/Ephraimite mindset, America would prevail, and the cycles that beset us would cease. Joseph's restoration isn't complete until it has restored the NA natives to their culture.

Once again, this is a North American narrative, not a North-South American narrative. The latter betrays the mythology.

Steven Lester said...

I can remember an experience that I had sometime during the first 2 years of my own Mormon experience, way back in the 1970's. There was a baptism of a teenaged Indian boy by the name of Calvin. He was a really good kid, although very quiet no matter what situation he was in, such as athletics or Sunday School lessons. I don't know what his demeanor was away from Church, though, neither do I remember how he became acquainted with the Church Itself, but probably through his association with the other boys of his age.

On the day of his baptism his Indian family showed up, which was fine by itself certainly, but their presence really rattled the ward membership because they were so beyond what we were used to. They were equally quiet and totally circumspect. Opaque completely. Seemingly untouchable and nearly unresponsive whenever somebody rather bravely tried to speak to them, like myself, who didn't try for very long after getting such a reception. I just didn't know what to say, so I didn't say anything much more than a greeting. It was Calvin's father to whom I was speaking and although I knew that he could hear me he just kept looking at the ground, seemingly as if he were waiting for me to say something worth responding to, which I was obviously not providing. I felt quite at unease.

It turned out from later questioning of those closest to Calvin and out of his hearing, that his decision was one of great bravery in that his family and Indian friends in no way wanted him to go through with the baptism because they had their own cultural methodologies of advancing the youth and why would Calvin want to do something other than that? Apparently, he had also been called an "Apple" several times by his several brothers (red on the outside and white on the inside) which I can imagine hurt a bit to hear. Actually, I wondered myself as to why he did what he did.

Long story, short: Calvin lasted about two months in the Church and then disappeared completely. I never could find out why. I suspect that his Indian culture against the white man's religion was just too strong for him to hold out for very long.

I guess that what I am suggesting is that they don't need us. Their spiritual world is as rich, if not richer, than our own, and more mature, and more abiding and discerning. Indeed, perhaps we ourselves could learn much from them. Perhaps we should be the students and they our masters. They really don't need us in the least. We need them.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Arkwelder,
I think the argument could also be made that Mormons identify with Nephi because he was the rigteous one, though he did seem to lack pride and had no patience with his brothers who didn't see things entirely his way. We just don't seem to see that he could come off as pompous and overbearing.

We then subconsciously take upon us that attitude within our culture: We're the ones who are in the right. This attitude also prevails within American Exceptionalism, which believes that since God is on our side, we are supposed to correct the shortcomings of the rest of the world's population, using force if necessary.

One of the messages of the Book of Mormon is that this pride of character is the path to our own destruction. We see it in Americans, and we see it particularly in Mormon Americans.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Steven,
I've long held that an association with the missionaries while taking the discussions tends to introduce a person to the spirit quite frequently. But then when converts are turned loose in our meetings, they find that feeling completely absent. It doesn't take long before the convert finds no motivation to attend.

I would agree with your assessment. Compare the spirituality inherent in Native American culture against our stultifying Sunday meetings, and the Indian way will prove the more authentic.

The Arkwelder said...

Don't want to be too hard on Nephi. He was a prophet of God after all, and so was Lehi. I'm just saying Laman and Lemuel weren't the scum of the Earth that we make them out to be, and neither were the Lamanites. By the time Jacob comes along, it's pretty clear: the Nephites are as bad as, if not worse, than the Lamanites, and despite occasionally leap-frogging one another, I think an evil Nephite was of a more nefarious kind than an evil Lamanite. I don't condone bloodshed, but the fact that Nephites allowed Gadianton Robbers to operate and prosper in their midst while Lamanites weeded out and killed them isn't lost on me. I do think the Lamanite is the North American Indian's ancester, even only by adoption, just as the white, American Mormon has adopted the Nephite as his ancester.

Of course, given American imperialism (manifest destiny), it's utter rape of various South American states in the 20th century, and the ballsy socialist reforms of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela that are catching on elsewhere in nearby nations and sticking it to the US, perhaps it puts the South America back on the map as a contender for what I'm talking about. Ultimately, I don't think it matches up. The point that the likes of Hugo Chavez has made is that these SA countries aren't there to be plundered for the sake of US interests. That is, SA doesn't need the US; the US is exactly what it doesn't need.

But the situation is different in North America, where we require reconciliation in order to succeed. We simply need more native Americans in our pews, nay, in high callings. And rather than dominating the process, we need to learn a thing or two from them about how religion is done.

The Arkwelder said...

Hi, Steven. I'm almost fully in agreement with you.

"I guess that what I am suggesting is that they don't need us. Their spiritual world is as rich, if not richer, than our own, and more mature, and more abiding and discerning. Indeed, perhaps we ourselves could learn much from them. Perhaps we should be the students and they our masters. They really don't need us in the least. We need them."

I think you are right. We are very much the dogs by our master's table hoping for a crumb here, a crumb there. But at least we have the gospel, and that makes a difference. There is merit in proving the BoM's historical truth, because the NA natives culture was systemically torn from them and dismantled and much of it lost forever. You would be looking at the world through rose-colored glasses if you didn't acknowledge that (not that I'm accusing you of any such thing). That said, it isn't about them coming into the fold; that's just more cultural and religious imperialism (which unfortunately, the Church does practice elsewhere). It's about reconciliation and convergence--two things coming together to make a new religion, something more than the sum of its parts. Do I think it will happen from the top down? Hah. No. If it happens, it will be a grassroots movement, as there will be a convergence of all religions, all of the pure in heart, during the Millennium.

I'm not one of those 2012 guys, but the Millennium is fast approaching; it's happening like the scriptures prophesied, but not in the way we were taught to interpret them; it's much more beautiful. The people of the world are not getting more wicked, but more righteous, yet we live in an incomprehensibly dangerous time, too. The world is bathed in light right now, and Mormons are among the last to realize it. This is the last call out of Babylon, truly the final gathering.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Amen to everything you said, Arkwelder.

Zo-ma-rah said...

Here's something I just started reading. It might add some stimulation to the conversation.

http://www.wheatandtares.org/2011/10/04/the-legend-of-the-lost-book-of-gold-part-1-of-4/

Inspire said...

I had the honor of interviewing Russell Means, a Oglala Lakota Indian in his home a few months ago. (Google his name if you don't know him, you'll realize that you ARE familiar with his works). He told me of his first experience with the Mormons on a Rez in Arizona. He was just walking down the road one hot day and two missionaries stopped to give him a ride. He accepted. As they were driving, the missionaries "accosted" him with their message, and wouldn't stop. Russell asked if they could pull over and sit in the shade to get a drink of water, then he would be happy to listen. Unfortunately, the missionaries refused to accommodate him, and Russell had to threaten violence before they stopped and let him out (in the middle of nowhere). He told me that had they cared more about his welfare than their "message," he would have probably taken great interest.

I think this is indicative of our day too. We are happy to bring the Indigenous people into our folds, but only on OUR terms. I agree with Arkwelder and Steven Lester, in that the heritage of these people is rich and worth understanding. Imagine if we looked at their traditions and they looked at ours, and we could see what common ground we could find! (The symbolism and ties to the temple contained in the medicine wheel alone would give us volumes of comparable material).

If we "Gentiles" are not to be trodden under as is prophesied in the Book of Mormon, I think it would be wise to look at the example of the Sons of Mosiah and their missions to the Lamanites. It is a story filled with service, unconditional love and loyalty that transcends friendship.

The American Indians know that we're approaching a time of transition, a new period of love and healing as a people. We can choose to be self-righteous and preachy about this, or to open our eyes and hearts to them and learn a little bit about THEM for a change. After all, it is this remnant, not the "chosen Ephraimites" who will build Zion. We'll be lucky if we get to assist.

PS - To learn a little more about Russell Means, and the miracles in his life, go to http://www.russellmeansfreedom.com/

Steven Lester said...

"There is merit in proving the BoM's historical truth, because the NA natives culture was systemically torn from them and dismantled and much of it lost forever. You would be looking at the world through rose-colored glasses if you didn't acknowledge that (not that I'm accusing you of any such thing)."

Oh, yes. Again, I use the phrase In Truth. Here in the Northwest some of the worst genocidal activities took place, including the doomed March of Chief Joseph (although he was just the Nez Perce peace chief responsible for the logistics of the escape into Canada until the war chief was killed [shot] while standing up yelling insults against the soldiers who he had just out-flanked yet again. The war chief, whose name doesn't appear right now within my aged brain, was the real leader. Joseph took over everything only after the war chief was killed. He was the one that said the sad statement of, "we will fight no more forever" at the time of the group's capture. Hence, his fame. He is buried here in Washington up by the Grand Coulee Dam.) They were only a few miles from the border before the army captured them. Why couldn't they have just left the group alone in the first place? And so on.

I am going to read those several references you guys have provided. Thank you for them.

The Arkwelder said...

I had a friend at the Mormon Transhumanist Association point this out: "One thing is Nephi's description of he and his brothers posterity on the battlefield which he saw in vision. When he tells his brothers he presents it as a polarity - the wicked versus the saints of God. When the angel explains the scene to him in the vision itself he is told it was pride vs. unbelief. His explanation I believe contributed to the downfall of his civilization. "All things" is a hedge against this kind fallacious thinking. Ammon and his fellow missionaries saw the good in the Lamanites, while their fellow Nephites remained in polarity saying they may as well kill the Lamanites. Polarity/Duality is a condition of the fall of Adam that we must overcome."

The Arkwelder said...

Just want to provide the scriptures if I can:

1 Nephi 12:19,21-23

19 And while the angel spake these words, I beheld and saw that the seed of my brethren did contend against my seed, according to the word of the angel; and because of the pride of my seed, and the temptations of the devil, I beheld that the seed of my brethren did overpower the people of my seed.

21 And I saw them gathered together in multitudes; and I saw wars and rumors of wars among them; and in wars and rumors of wars I saw many generations pass away.

22 And the angel said unto me: Behold these shall dwindle in unbelief.

23 And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.

The Arkwelder said...

Whereas Nephi's worldview was strictly good vs bad:

1 Nephi 15:26-28

26 And they said unto me: What meaneth the river of water which our father saw?

27 And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness; and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water.

28 And I said unto them that it was an awful gulf, which separated the wicked from the tree of life, and also from the saints of God.

The Arkwelder said...

"One thing is Nephi's description of he and his brothers posterity on the battlefield which he saw in vision. When he tells his brothers he presents it as a polarity - the wicked versus the saints of God. When the angel explains the scene to him in the vision itself he is told it was pride vs. unbelief."

To recap, we cure eachother's cancer if I may be so bold. America is our co-inheritance. But their sense of "ours" is much different. They do not treat the Earth like a dumb bitch that needs to be beaten into submission. They do not hold her in contempt, nor do they think they "own" her. Their connection to the land is very different indeed, which perhaps leads to their more stability nature; they are not, and never were, beset by cycles. Again, I almost feel sheepish claiming we have anything to offer them. But to be able to say, "Yes, this is your your inheritance, and this religious text of ours says so, so we'll back you up," seems meaningful. To actually advocate for the North American natives as a matter of divine or religious mandate--as a means of saving ourselves as well--seems like a strange new proposal (the Lamanites did to the Gadianton Robbers what the Nephites never had the guts to do).

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Arkwelder, I had never realized until you mentioned it that the Lamanites purged the Gadianton Robbers while we gentiles just seem to keep building them up. Types and Shadows.

Zomarah,
Great link about the Karen people. Another thing I knew nothing about.

The Arkwelder said...

From Wikipedia:

"The Lamanites made every effort to eradicate the Gadianton robbers among them. The Nephites, in contrast, began to join the band in larger and larger numbers, until the majority of them were members. Members swore to protect one another and identified each other by means of secret signs and secret words. By 24 BC the entire Nephite government was under the control of the Gadiantons."

Am trying to find the BoM verses. I have read them before, but can't remember where.

The Arkwelder said...

Bingo!

Helaman 6:37:40

37 And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites.

38 And it came to pass on the other hand, that the Nephites did build them up and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils, and to join with them in their secret murders and combinations.

39 And thus they did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God.

40 And thus we see that they were in an awful state, and ripening for an everlasting destruction.

Do I need to interpret these verses for you in light of current events or are we all good?

The Arkwelder said...

Wow, I think Orson Pratt is even taking this a step further.

"God will remember the covenant which he made with our ancient fathers. These Lamanites, these American Indians, will come to the knowledge of the covenant, and they will arise and will build upon the face of this land a magnificent city called Jerusalem, after the pattern and in the same manner that the Jews will build old Jerusalem. That is what the Lamanites will do, and we will go and help them too...."

Taken from:

http://www.ldslastdays.com/default.aspx?page=psc614.htm

The Arkwelder said...

Memo to those who seek to re-establish Zion, make some native friends.

whitehusky said...

I remember seeing a special on the BYU station which featured an archaeologist who insisted that the Book of Mormon didn't really mean horses when it said that there were horses and asses on the land (1 Nephi 18:25). He claimed that the Nephites were actually riding deer instead, because they didn't really mean horses, but had actually meant to say deer! (I am not making this up.) Of course, his garbled nonsense was because he would not allow a horse to be on the American continent as documented in historical records. To accept a historical eye-witness account would mess up all the erudite theories of scholars who claim that horses weren't here, and he couldn't do that. Instead, he was going to rewrite the Book of Mormon to suit his own idiotic assumptions. After listening to his dribble for a while in disbelief, I turned the station. I have since discontinued my subscription to the BYU station, which had very little to offer. Point of fact: Listen to scholars who are so far removed from reality and you'll turn into a fool.

Steven Lester said...

Are you then saying that horses were on the American Continent before the Spanish arrived and their escaped steeds were not the seed stock for all the horses the Indians than took control of? And that your only source to back up this claim is what is written in the BOM alone? Are there any reports that you know of (which I do not) of dated bones of horses (as opposed to bison bones at the bottom of bison jumps which have been dated to before the Spanish arrival) that might verify the existence of horses before the 1500's? If not, then I would propose that instead of horses the Nephites were actually riding, not deer, but bison. I should think that this would be possible if one were to find a baby bison and then train it to be obedient, so that when it grew up all the owner had to do was just to get on and ride away into the sunset. I'm just saying...

Zo-ma-rah said...

A Nephite riding his horse:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJ4T9CQA0UM

Yes, that link is in jest. But that is an interesting idea Steven. I had never before considered Bison as the horses of the Book of Mormon.

Steven Lester said...

See? See? And we even had a Lamanite in the story, too!

The Arkwelder said...

1 Nephi 22

7 "...the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation [the United States] among the Gentiles [non-jews/Israelites], yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them [European settlers] shall our seed be scattered.

8 "And after our seed [precursor to the native American people and also part of the House of Israel, i.e., Israelites] is scattered the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed; wherefore, it is likened unto their being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders.

9 "And it shall also be of worth unto the Gentiles; and not only unto the Gentiles but unto all the house of Israel, unto the making known of the covenants of the Father of heaven unto Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

23 "For the time speedily shall come that all churches* which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet."

*Think about what Nephi would have defined as a "Church" if he saw into the future. I'm not going to answer that for you--think really hard about it--because you'll think of examples even better than mine. "Church" means something much broader here.

Anonymous said...

For those intrigued with the possibility that the ancient location of Zarahemla could have been located across the river from Nauvoo, the following article may be of interest.

It arrives at that possibility and was first published about 20 years ago

http://onewhoiswatching.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/9-when-those-tribulations-should-take-place-it-should-be-committed-to-a-man-who-should-be-a-witness-over-the-whole-world/

The Arkwelder said...

Will definitely be reading that article. Does anyone recall the verse about a possible future Lamanite revolt? I think it's in the D&C, but never seems to get brought up in Church. Anyways:

2 Nephi 4
17 ...O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins;

32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

Shawn C said...

Whitehusky,

This is the same type of stuff I'm talking about. I've seen BYU people making statements like that..."What Joseph meant to say was..."

Seems like the speculating and stretching takes place on both sides of the debate.

goingtozion said...

Arkwelder is on to something important here. Some of the first missionaries of the restoration were sent to the Native Americans. There still are those missions, but the emphasize is practically non-existent in our focus except in the beat and hand gestures of the primary song, "Book of Mormon Stories."

With all the prophecies and blessings concerning the Lamanites, it seems that they hold special keys that will have some sort of unique effect in the preparation for the Second Coming. Every tribe of Israel has special blessings and missions. Just like the Lamanites were able to fight the Gadianton Robbers, perhaps they are the key to lead us and help us break free of Babylon?

"wherefore, it is likened unto their being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders." I have never heard anyone talk about what this could mean or its importance.

goingtozion said...

Steven and Zomarah

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/06/wild-horses-nevada-blm-native-species.html

Some groups saying that horses in Nevada are a native species.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Zomarah,
I actually recognize those scenes from a late 1970's independent film made in Utah called "Buffalo Rider." It was about a mountain man who rescued a baby bison and raised it to be his "horse."

I was working at the time on the peripheries of indie film in Utah at the time. Wealthy Real Estate developers were willing to park some of their money in projects such as I was helping to develop. Then the tax laws changed, and that was the end of that party.

Buffalo Rider was a fascinating idea for a movie, but as I recall, not much happened except we got to see a guy riding a buffalo all over Sundance. I've long wondered what became of that film. (Of course, the song heard on this clip was not a part of the original film.)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Steven Lester said, " I should think that this would be possible if one were to find a baby bison and then train it to be obedient, so that when it grew up all the owner had to do was just to get on and ride away into the sunset."

Not only did the protagonist in Buffalo Rider train that buffalo from a baby, but in the end he actually DID ride it into the sunset.

You're a savant, Steven. A savant, I tell ya!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Curse you, Zomarah, for linking to "Guy on a Buffalo"! Now you've got me staying up in the middle of the night to watch all four parts. More than once. I'm obsessed.

In part two the guy finds a baby just laying in the middle of a meadow. No explanation!

And now I see where the entire movie is available on YouTube. I know what I'm doing tomorrow.

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