Lost Book of Mormon Geography

The dispute over where the events in the Book of Mormon took place continues in a recent Deseret News/Mormon Times article titled, “Raiders of the Lost Book of Mormon Geography.” In the second installment of a two-part article “former CEO of a manufacturing company turned researcher” Rod Meldrum sets his theory against the limited geography model widely held among Mormons today.

Raiders of the Lost ArkThe limited geography model promoted by LDS scholars places Book of Mormon events in Mesoamerica, a small area in Central America. Mr. Meldrum, on the other hand, believes DNA and other evidence points to Book of Mormon events taking place in the Great Lakes region of North America.

Mr. Meldrum is not willing to say that the limited geography theory is “completely false” or even “partially false,” but he takes issue with it. He says,

“So what we are saying here, by trying to limit the geography of the Book of Mormon to this little area, is that these [Book of Mormon] people that just came from the other side of the earth to get here, got here, and they never strayed less than one-third of the distance that Joseph Smith and those brethren (walked) in two months [with Zion’s camp], and that they stayed there for over a thousand years.”

In support of the Great Lakes region theory, Mr. Meldrum believes the Great Lakes are the seas mentioned in the Book of Mormon, the weather described in the Book of Mormon is more consistent with that of North America, the migrating animals in the Book of Mormon sound like plains buffalo, and the description of timber mentioned in the Book of Mormon conforms more closely to slow-growing North American timber than to Central American rainforest timber. He says, “take a look at how it matches what Joseph Smith said and what the scriptures say, it’s a better match.”

Mr. Meldrum is not alone in his opinion of the limited geography model. While an Apostle, tenth LDS Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith wrote,

“Within recent years there has arisen among certain students of the Book of Mormon a theory to the effect that within the period covered by the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were confined almost entirely within the boarders of the territory comprising Central America and the southern portion of Mexico… In the face of this evidence coming from the Prophet Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer, we cannot say that the Nephites and Lamanites did not possess the territory of the United States and that the Hill Cumorah is in Central America. Neither can we say that the great struggle which resulted in the destruction of the Nephites took place in Central America…from all the evidence in the Book of Mormon augmented by the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, these final battles took place in the territory known as the United States and in the neighborhood of the Great Lakes and hills of Western New York” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:232, 240-241).

Mr. Smith was the LDS Church historian for forty-nine years. It was his understanding that those placing the location of the Hill Cumorah and other Book of Mormon spots in Central America did so “notwithstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years” (ibid., 233).

Who is a Mormon to believe? LDS scholars who are struggling to provide a credible real world setting for Book of Mormon events? Or past LDS leaders who laid claim to inspired authority? It would be helpful for “members of the Church [who] have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon” (ibid.) if the LDS Church would take an official position on the question.

Mr. Meldrum decided to take this matter into his own hands. He started with a foundational presupposition:

“‘Because I already knew the Book of Mormon is true, I knew there was going to be physical evidence for the Book of Mormon if we are looking for it in the right place,’ Meldrum said. ‘I don’t believe that God specifically hides stuff from his children. I think his children sometimes don’t listen to the prophets and they get in the wrong places.'”

After searching unsuccessfully for Book of Mormon artifacts for more than half a century, it would appear that nobody is listening — or that there is nothing to be found.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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47 Responses to Lost Book of Mormon Geography

  1. GSwarthout says:

    You are committing a logical error when you insinuate that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    I’m happy that they are continuing to look for evidence. I imagine this has created an issue with the faith of some LDS members and prompt them to start questioning and looking into their church’s history and all its inconsistency’s.

    If there was no archaeological searches, it wouldn’t have us much prompting power because one could say “Nothing has been found because no one is looking for anything.” So praise be to God for putting inside humanity a desire to learn and discover and for the child like quality of curiosity.

    If I’m not mistaken, I think Lyndon Lamborn had issues with the historicity and archaeological emptyness. I requested all the paperwork on his studies and he sent them to me but I lost them 🙁 He made some very in dept analaysis of Mormonism as a whole. If someone can get their hands on a copy of that information, its quite extensive and interesting.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but if the Hill Cumorah is in meso-america, that would contradict Joseph Smith finding the plates in that hill in New York, right? So how is that even a possibility?

  3. falcon says:

    Why doesn’t the Mormon prophet just tell the LDS folks the way it is? The guy’s the prophet, right? I’m wondering what the first followers of Brother Joseph believed? That would give some indication of what the man with the magic rock taught them about the history, geography and sciencce of the BoM. This is all very troubling, but not to Mormons. You see I’ve come to understand how the faithful think. Here is goes, the BoM is true because I prayed about it, I got a feeling which I took as spiritual and not just emotional and it (the feeling) indicated to me that God confirmed the truthfulness of the Book. EVIDENCE IS NOT NECESSARY. To even think such a thing is contrary to faith. Can you prove all of the geography and places mentioned in the Bible? NO! Therefore the BoM is true. I love Mormon logic, as well as history, geography and science. Mormon friends please don’t take offense at my sarcasm. I really do like you and want the best for you. I just have trouble accepting the fact that you don’t see what’s right before your eyes. I know it’s faith. Then call it that and quit trying to prove something that obviously didn’t take place in real time. Just spiritualize the whole thing and leave it at that. You know, try….we know it really didn’t happen but there are some valuable “truths” in the Book and we do live a moral life. Period.

  4. Michael P says:

    Falcon, they have to develop revelations, see. At least that’s how one (Mormon) author pinned it in an article few months back.

    To the article, if they do find something I would reconsider, but I find it highly unlikely they will. As Jeffrey points out, there are too many errors in the BoM and in the stories of JS to give it any credence.

    GS, you are right, absense of proof is not necessarilly proof of absense, but given all we know, the skies are getting darker for this vast civilization to have existed.

  5. GSwarthout, it isn’t the mere absence of evidence that persuades us against the Book of Mormon, it is the fact that the absence of evidence fits together with a larger package of things that cause us to sincerely Joseph Smith’s calling as a prophet.

  6. falcon says:

    Jeffrey,
    If you want Lyndon’s information, I have it here. Just get my e mail address from the folks at Mormon Coffee and I’d be glad to forward it to you. Lyndon’s a bright guy and he did a ton of research. He was a real TBM but once he started doing research, the house of cards fell a part. That’s one of the mysteries to me regarding Mormonism. Why don’t these folks do a little digging. I went off like a rocket several months ago when one of the Mormon contributors here said I hadn’t provided any evidence that the BoM was not true. So I hauled out Lyndon’s research and enumerated a half dozen things that were so obvious that a person would have to be in a deep state of denial to reject it. The Mormon posted back that this wasn’t real evidence. It was from man and not from God so it wasn’t acceptable or true. In-other-words it wasn’t revelation. I couldn’t believe it. I was incredulous. The guy was in need of some serious deprogramming. But the fascinating thing to me, is that life long born and bred Mormons, like Lyndon, do find their way out of the maze. Like I said in my previous post, why don’t these TBMs just spiritualize the whole thing and just go with it because they like it.

  7. germit says:

    meso-america,north america, middle america it doesn’t seem to make any difference: the facts would seem to be there would be about as much solid physical evidence for the BOM as the Loch Ness monster or Bigfoot. Every time I have tried to chase down the promise of such evidence from FAIR or FARMS or a similar source I have (to date) been sorely disappointed. Was I hoping got too much ?? Help me out Ralph and friends: I am NOT asking for PROOF, just the kind of solid evidence one would expect IF the BOM were in fact the finest of all books, etc THANKS

  8. Jeffrey says:

    Falcon,

    When you said you stated a half dozen things that were so obvious a person would have to be in deep state of denial to reject, it reminded me of an occurance lastnight.. And this will probably make all Christians here who care for the LDS people, sad.

    My wife, who was born and raised LDS just recently (within the last month) left the LDS church (Praise God!). Well, yesterday her younger sister found out that she no longer believes in the LDS doctrine. So she came over lastnight and while I was at the store getting stuff for dinner, my wife said to her “I told you that I don’t want to get in arguments, so I’m not trying to be offensive here, but one of the things I discovered was that Joseph Smith had more than one wife, even one as young as 14 years old.” Her sister replies in an unbelieving manner “Where did you hear that?”. So, my wife, went to familysearch.org (LDS owned website for genealogical search) and pulled up Joseph Smiths information. Her sister wouldn’t even look at it, she said “I would rather remain blissfully ignorant.” — When my wife told me this, my heart sank… Is this not a big flag for you? You’ve been LDS your whole life and the only wife you heard of was Emma?

    I believe she felt afraid and threatened and the natural reaction is to back away, I understand that.. The good news is though, that a seed has been planted. My wife reacted just as she did when I tried telling her about the Book of Abraham.. a year later, she left the church. My fellow Christians, please have my wifes sister in your prayers. I don’t want to mention name for privacy sake. Thank you.

  9. falcon says:

    Jeffery,
    There’s a psychological dynamic here (in your account of your sister-in-law) that is very difficult to phantom. But I think it’s the reason we have to be patient with folks. It’s almost too easy to say it’s denial. It’s really more than that. It’s almost a protective reaction. Why are there families that keep incest a secret to the point of blaming the victim? What are they protecting? Is it the perpetrator, the family unit’s reputation and standing, what? The next step with your sister-in-law will be an admittance that JS had more than one wife but……..then the rationalization starts. It’s like an abused woman who says “Well he swore at me, but he better never lay a hand on me.”; “He pushed me but he better never slap me.”; He slapped me, but he better never hit me with his fist.” And on and on it goes. There’s also a psychological trap here called “rescuing your equity”. The person has so much invested that they keep rationalizing and upping the ante in order to maintain and hold on to what they’ve invested in time, money and emotion. There’s a good presentation of these concepts in the book “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.” There is such a thing as spiritual abuse and the dynamics are the same as physical abuse. People who come out of Mormonism take years to recover. I had a serious bike accident a couple of months back. Most of my injuries have healed, but I still have numbness coming out of the muscles in my right hip. Occasionally I’ll get a sharp “stab” from the nerves. I walk, run and yes bike but the reminder of the accident is still present in my hip. It will take time to heal totally. I do still have a scar on my knee that I don’t think will ever go away.

  10. Jeffrey says:

    The mind is an amazing thing with all its defense mechanisms, huh falcon? My wife had posted her situation with her sister on postmormon.org and an ex-mo had said that the information presented to her sister will cause 1 of 3 things to happen, or maybe all of them, one after another, through a set period of time. Basically she will either (1)put an apologetic band-aid on the issue – which I guess is her way of rationalizing as you said, (2) She will completely ignore it and continue life – even though it will always be in her mind, especially when talk of Joseph comes up during church, or (3) realize that there may be other stuff out there that she doesnt know that the modern church and/or her parents didn’t teach her and start digging.

    Being a member for so long of any faith makes it rather easy to go with option #1. People can’t handle option #2 for too long (my wife lasted about a year and a half) but some are able to remain “blissfully ignorant” their whole lives, and option #3 requires immense bravery..

    It is our duty as Christians to help the LDS that are willing to choose option #3, because that battle can be devastatingly lonely. After all, the way many ex-mo’s are treated by their very own family’s after leaving the church is sometimes, tragically, far from Christ-like.

    In a way, I see that God’s love for us has worked through me, and by the Grace of god, that love reached my wife. The natural sinner in me would like to take credit for my wife leaving the church because she may never have left the church if it weren’t for marrying a Christian. But the thanks belongs to GOD, and He alone! He is the One that made us cross paths, He is the One who gave us the ability to love one another. I have never been more thankful in my life, it brings me to tears.

  11. Sharon Lindbloom says:

    Rejoicing with you, Jeffrey. May God’s goodness always move you and your wife to live for Him.

  12. Beercanman says:

    Can someone send me the Lyndon information as well? I’m not sure how or where to ask for it on the website.
    I enjoy this site. Keep up the comments.

  13. Sharon Lindbloom says:

    For those who asked:

    At postmormon.org Lyndon Lamborn wrote:

    If any of you would like to read my summary of searching for truth, e-mail me at lclamborn58[at]yahoo.com and I will be happy to e-mail you a copy…

  14. truthseeker says:

    Jeffrey, I am so glad your wife was finally able to leave and be set free from the control that the church has mentally on many people. Even though it took a year, it is well worth it. I am working on the same thing with my wife. If it takes that long, that is okay. Rejoice in the freedom that you now have with a driect line of communication to God and not having to go through the church to get back home to Him. I will pray for your sister-in-law that the seed that has been planted will bear fruit down the road. It is a great joy when I see members of the church finding the truth and holding on to it! God bless.

  15. falcon says:

    It took me a while to get used to the Mormon mind set that says, basically, spiritual evidence trumps secular evidence. It was so completly foreign to the way I mentally process information. In the Mormon thinking process their spiritual witness overrides reality. So if they are told there is no physical evidence of any of the civilizations presented in the BoM, we’re given rationalizations like “it disapeared” or “you can’t find everything mentioned in the Bible either.” Just think about what a person can develop for “truth” if allowed to spiritualize it. You know, “I have a testimony that……” fill in the blank. And it becomes true. The Garden of Eden, written about in Genesis, was located in…….where. Yes, Missouri. I knew that….how? The prophets taught…….DNA evidence proves that the indians don’t have sementic origins. No problem…..the DNA got diluted. How did the golden plates end up in New York if all the other stuff was going on in central America? Maybe moved spiritually? We could go on. Joseph Smith translated the golden plates by looking at them…..no sorry….he used his magic rock in his hat and buried his face in the hat and interpreted the reformed Egyptian writing….there is no such language? It disapeared too and hasn’t been rediscovered. The magic rock in the hat…..why not? Lots of people use magic rocks to peek into the spirit world. Why should we deny ourselves this spiritual truth….it sounds occultish? “I have a testimony that…” and “The prophets taught that…” need both of those on that one.

  16. germit says:

    Not much response to my first post: maybe I’m lucky at love. Looking at it from subgenius and friend’s point of view, maybe you’re tired of throwing the proverbial pearls before swine, and I CAN be a swine, but we don’t have time for that story. I’ll ask in a different way: having studied LDS material for about a year, I’m not at all convinced that your restored faith is what Jesus had in mind, but for the benefit of those who read this post and whose minds are not nearly set as mine: could you give me the best (authors, books, etc) references to research that shows that there is some REALITY behind the BOM’s historical claims. I know you have other, more persuasive reasons for believing, but have any authors, Mormon or otherwise, shown your book to have at least a snowball’s chance in Nevada of meriting the description of “historical”.

    thanks, germit

    ps: the Bible seems to have held together pretty well in this regard, much to Voltaire’s surprise

  17. Ralph says:

    Falcon,

    Your comment about the DNA not supporting the BoM is a rather 2 sided affair. You forgot to mention that DNA evidence does not support the Bible either.

    Evolution according to most scientists occurred over thousands of years. When it comes to the mutations that distinguish between the varieties of the human race, most papers I have read from reputable journals and scientists saying that the last major one occurred in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) minimum of 15,000 years ago to about 28,000 years ago. As for autosomal/genomic DNA, the last one was over 50,000 years ago. Now to give balance to this, I have read a few peoples’ (who are scientists) versions saying that a ‘fast evolution’ occurred which they can show by statistical data (its all by statistics) that shows these occurred earlier, however they can only get them as close as 10,000 years for the autosomal/gemonic DNA, which is still outside of the Biblical period. These scientists are Christian and so they want to prove the Bible correct, which to me (and many of you point out that the LDS do this) biases them and their data. And this can be seen as the majority of scientists do not agree with their findings. So do we believe the many who do not have an agendum or the few that do have an agendum?

    But the other thing is that the last migration from Asia to America according to the scientists was over 20,000 years ago, which again is outside the Biblical time period of approx 6,000 years.

    Basically we know that God can manipulate genes in vivo, it can be seen in the Bible. So if He did change the Lamanites to be different to the Nephites then this can be seen in a differing of DNA. So I don’t see a problem with the so-called DNA controversy.

    Will this comment open a can of worms?

  18. falcon says:

    Ralph,
    I love you man, but there is one constant theme in your responses and that is that the Bible is flawed. So I’m guessing your argument must be, “so therefore the BoM is true”. DNA does not support the Bible? What’s that about? So what do you want to prove? I don’t think I saw anything in your response that really answers the question as to whether or not American indians were Jews? Ralph come on, God manipulated the DNA. OK, go with it. You want to believe the BoM is a historically accurate document, that’s your choice. But your conclusion isn’t based on the evidence.
    The real point of my post was the Mormon mind set. If you want to have a discussion on DNA then I suggest you read the work of a fellow Aussie, former Mormon, scientist dude, who gives a complete discussion of the matter. I can’t remember his name, but I’m sure he’s on your favorites list.
    So talk to me Ralph about the Mormon mindset. The idea that spiritual evidence trumps secular evidence and the prophets have instructed us…..forms the basis if Mormon faith.

  19. eric017 says:

    Germit,

    Some parts of Nevada do get amounts of snow in the wintertime ;). But to your point, from my experience there is not evidence for the BOM that doesn’t fall into the category of ‘absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence’. Thus, because science hasn’t 100% proved that it isn’t true, means that it still could be true. Science can’t do this BTW, and simply doesn’t operate this way. Science is about building a consensus around available data. All the available data suggest that there was no contact between the Middle East and North America before Columbus. I’ve heard of no reputable archaeologist suggest otherwise.

    Falcon, The Aussie’s name is Simon Southerton and the book is called Loosing a lost tribe or some such. Southerton is a plant biologist who studies gene flow in plants and understands how DNA technolegy works. He understands the types of questions that DNA can and can’t answer, and gives a great layman’s descriptions of the science behind the improbablilty of Smith’s claims in the BOM and elsewhere. IMO, is it possible that ‘nephite’ DNA was diluted to the point of indetectibility? Yes, but it is highly improbable. Could it be possible the reason’s behind the church’s recent alteration in the intro to the BOM from ‘principle ancestors’ to ‘among the ancestors’ are these DNA studies? Yes, IMO highly probable. Keep in mind that Southerton was a TBM Bishop in Australia before the DNA studies led him to realize that he had been duped. Personally, I know how he fells…..duped.

  20. falcon says:

    eric,
    Thank you for the information. I guess my interest is in the Mormon mindset of, “the prophet teaches us….” and “spiritual evidence trumps secular evidence” thought process. I remember reading the testimony of a former TBM man (topic was basiclly “what was the event that led you to question Mormonism”). He said he was driving along in his car listening to a church produced CD dealing with the history of Mormonism. He came to a part where they talked openly about JS taking the 14 year old girl, whose name escapes me, as his wife. The guy was so repulsed by the idea because he had a 14 year old daughter. He was really shook-up over it and no one could give him an acceptable explanation. Well that eroded his faith and he ended up walking away from Mormonism. Now, here’s the interesting thing for me. On the thread dealing with polygamy, our friend Ralph writes today that he has no problem with JS marrying a 14 year old. His rationale is that there are states in the U.S. that will permit such a thing. I don’t get his rationale at all which you can read on your own. On the one hand we have a man so repulsed by the idea he ends up leaving the Mormon Church. On the other, we have Ralph who justifies it.
    So it is with DNA and the BoM, the lack of linguistic evidence etc. to support it being an actual real history and the folks just keep chugging along with the program…..rationalizing, denying, excusing or ignoring the obvious. So we’re back to “the prophet…..spiritual evidence…..or attempting to diminish the Bible. Why do some get it and walk away, while others don’t. It’s got to be Brain Lock or too much invested to walk away or a form of spiritual deception that some can’t break free of.

  21. Michael P says:

    Guys,

    Even if marrying a 14 year old in the mid 19th century was legal, it was hardly the norm, and was frowned upon by society at large. Very few girls indeed were married at that age, and most started getting married in their late teens. That they married so young is a myth.

  22. Tom K says:

    Try this one. sorry!

    Interesting article! Well thought out. There are a few points that should be made. Simon Southerton’s study of DNA samples of Native Americans was a very specific type of DNA study. It was not a study of recombinant DNA which, as one post states could be diluted. Mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA does not dilute. It stays fixed from generation to generation often mutating less than once every ten thousand years.

    Mitochondria is a substance within all of our cells that is symbiotic to the cell. Each cell gives mitochondria certain materials, and in return, mitochondria provides the cell with energy. The DNA that tells us our eye color or height also floats around in our cells. Mitochondria in fact has it’s own DNA, apart from what we might term as our regular DNA and caries no relation to our height, sex, or hair color. The mitochondria’s DNA is only for replicating more mitochondria. What’s interesting is that the sperm is ineffectual in passing the male mitochondria to the egg, so mtDNA only passes to the children from the Mother and thus there isn’t any new DNA to mix with its code like our regular DNA does. MtDNA passes from mother to daughter, unchanged from generation to generation with the same code intact. Since there are less than 26 variants of this code among the entire human family and the code is relatively small. It’s great for studying large groups of people.

    The bad news for Mormon orthodoxy is that if a new group of women from Jerusalem came to the Americas and were successful in reproducing–just like the Book of Mormon says they were–this DNA would very likely still be around despite bottlenecks, large existing populations and so forth.

    The group of mtDNA that Meldrum hopes is Hebrew has a name. It’s haplogroup X. Unfortunately for Meldrum this group is less than one percent of all DNA found in North America. Also this family of mitochondria has been identified in the last two years as having Siberian origins.

  23. germit says:

    to the LDS posters out there: is the material that Mark Wright presented at the Olivewood bookstore about as good as it gets regarding physical, historical evidence for the BOM or is there more convincing stuff out there?? thanks

    Ralph: christians can be bible believing and not ‘young earth’ two of the smartest I’ve encountered are Philip Johnson and Michael Behe, but there are legions of others I posit that all people (scientists included) have some kind of agenda and carry that into their work, consciously (as in the young earth creationist scientists) or not so consciously (Carl Sagan who said the universe was all that was, is, or ever would be….he forgot to say ‘amen’ but it would have been fitting there is no such thing as purely neutral science, because everyone, scientists included, have a worldview/philosophy that comes attached to them as they work. this is not BAD it just is (or I would suggest that it is…..)

  24. Ralph says:

    Germit,

    I don’t know much about this theory you are discussing but I have heard a little about it, especially that it is controversial. I have heard about the theory of intelligent evolution, or what ever its called where some scientists have decided that some power has assisted in shaping evolution to how things are today. Is this the same?

    One thing I would like to point out is that The Fall of Adam was when mortality (or in other words death) entered this world. Prior to Adam partaking of the forbidden fruit there was no death, so there should be no fossil record before this time. This is supported in the Bible. Since the fall has been calculated at about 6000 years ago by looking at the Biblical ‘dates/times/generation spans’ then that is how old the human race is and it is within this time frame all of the sub-species of the human race would have to be generated via mutations, which the scientific community cannot reconcile to the DNA data out there both mtDNA and genomic DNA. So it doesn’t matter how old the earth is, its how old the human race is.

  25. germit says:

    Ralph: thanks for the post; I THINK the theory you’re touching on is “theistic evolution”, not to be confused with the more general idea of intelligent design; I don’t want to go down a long ID trail (a personal interest of mine) but I would point out that the 6000 yr. figure, is an interpretation of scripture, and there are MANY in the ev. christian who don’t hold to it for BOTH scientific and scriptural reasons material on all this is readily and easily available thru the Discovery Institute (Seattle) and can be googled etc

    blessings, germit

  26. dj1989 says:

    I am SO disappointed with this thread. The reason that I was excited to read it was that I recently saw Ron Meldrum’s presentation (Note to the Mormon reading this … it is not to be missed).

    Anyway, I was really excited to see the comments by EV & MM alike. Sadly, the readers of this post have diverged from the topic from the very first response, and not looked back. It is painfully obvious that not a soul here (including the post’s author) have taken the time to view the material that they’re commenting on. That’s sad.

    The presentation is an INCREDIBLY fascinating presentation. It’s well constructed, referenced with literally dozens of separate scientific data as well as scriptural data. It’s a 4 HOUR presentation full of information. For those of you interested in the supposed DNA problem in the BoM, it devotes about 45 minutes to that subject (with nothing other than scientific data).

    I’m by no means an expert on archaeology, church history, or any kind of history for that matter. But, I’m not an idiot either (I guess you could say that you couldn’t surprise me with anything about LDS church history… I read alot). That being said, if anybody would actually like to comment on Rod Meldrum’s theory or his presentation, I’m excited to chat with you.

  27. germit says:

    dj: I think if the scientific evidence for your book was that great, you’d be stapling copies to our hard little heads; that’s just me being cranky, I know, and as soon as my current Eckhart Tolle project is done (2-3weeks,maybe) I’m looking forward to getting back to the alleged slam dunk evidence you refer. Seems like there are several faves out there: John Gee seems to be a big deal, and for some it’s Mark Wright. Any other names you want to throw in the archeological soup ?? What about the book of Abe. experts, do you have a favorite there ?? Thanks for posting, JLF and Ralph don’t complain about it, but it must get lonely for them. Thanks, Germit

  28. dj1989 says:

    Germit-

    Let’s not put words in my mouth. It is a rare occasion indeed when there is a slam dunk in any archaeology. But, I said that it is “INCREDIBLY fascinating”, “well constructed”, and “referenced with dozens of separate scientific data as well as scriptural data” … which is all true. In the end, it IS just a theory… but I loved it.

    As far as “stapling copies to your hard little heads”…. would it do anything? That notion is a bit amusing. This is my opinion, but it is deeply rooted in experience, and that is that archaeology, and scientific/academic findings do not change people’s minds in regards to this matter. There is plenty of science behind the BoM… it’s just ignored. For example, there are parts of the BoM that have only come to light after thorough academic study, that are statistically impossible to have been fabricated by a man (or group of men) from the 1800’s. IMPOSSIBLE. To name a few: Chiasmus and other Hebraic writing forms in the BoM, analysis of wordprints revealing multiple ancient authors, descriptive detail of the Arabian peninsula as contained in the book (and went in the face of what people knew about Arabia during the 1800’s), etc, etc. It doesn’t hurt, either, that there are many eye witnesses to seeing the gold plates for themselves, that refused to change their story over the course of their whole lives, even after, in some cases, disassociating themselves with the LDS church.

    It does not matter to the critics, though.

    I have yet to see a single piece of so called evidence against the BoM that hasn’t had a reasonable explanation (and I’m confident I’ve seen at least 90% of what’s out there). Yet, the things that, again, would have been statistically IMPOSSIBLE for Joseph Smith to create on his own, are ignored by the BoM critics.

    Now, there’s a reason that LDS take criticism about the BoM with a grain of salt. The BoM has been criticized for 178 years. The criticisms have not stood the test of time. The BoM has.

  29. jackg says:

    dj1989

    “The criticisms have not stood the test of time. The BoM has.”

    How do you justify these statements?

  30. Arthur Sido says:

    jackg,

    Because he has a testimony. Case closed. The man prayed about the BoM and got a warm feeling so it must be true, evidence to the contrary and conflict with the Bible notwithstanding.

  31. germit says:

    dj: I think the premise of that probability study you reference is horrible from the git go. The predominant claim being made, certainly the one that I would make, is that crafty ol’ JS PLAGIARIZED the ‘golden bible’. Who is claiming the he fabricated the whole thing, unaided ?? I’m convinced he borrowed early and often from a wide variety of sources and authors, and being anything BUT an ignorant plough-boy, this was well within the realm of possibility. Some of what he copied from was ancient (obviously the KJV bible, translation problems and all) and some new, so it was (according to my theory, at least) a group effort, with JS and Moroni getting most of the credit. IF it happened that way, I think this would mess with your probabilities, but I have not yet had a chance to study this one out. WISE MEN STILL FIND HIM: GERMIT

  32. dj1989 says:

    Germit-

    Plagiarized? That’s the “predominant claim”? That’s been addressed so many times, that to even bring it up is very telling about what you have even looked into yourself.

    But plagiarism is an old and weak criticism against the BoM. Let’s take the specific examples that I gave before: the chiasmus, is found everywhere in the BoM (and the Old Testament), but was BARELY even discovered in ancient Hebrew writings until right before the BoM was printed (by a man in England nonetheless). The BoM not only has evidence of this ancient form of writing, but has it ALL OVER THE PLACE. Now… how could Joseph Smith plagiarize something so specific and so unknown. It would require somebody to write about it in the first place right?

    Next, the description of the Arabian peninsula in the BoM flies in the face of existing knowledge about the region in the 1800’s. However, only after decades of academic research and exploration of the region in the 20th century, has it been verified as being accurate in a highly specific way. Given the fact that NOBODY knew about, or wrote about the Arabian region in the way the BoM describes it, tell me again… who was Joseph Smith plagiarizing?

    Now, given the fact that these things were completely unknown to Joseph Smith, or to people in general at the time, then the only thing that you’re going on is that Joseph Smith (or group of people) took a 100% shot in the dark and got it 100% right, which is, as I said earlier, impossible.

  33. dj1989 says:

    Arthur-

    I’m picking on you, but not really, because your brief comment is very typical of the EV way of thinking. First, it’s very belittling.

    Second, and more to the point, what is wrong with basing one’s belief in the church based on a spiritual witness? EVs commonly do what you’ve done; belittle LDS for basing their religious beliefs on their own spiritual witness. But what is wrong with it? I ask you all, what did Peter have, other than a feeling, that he should straitway leave his nets and follow the Saviour? What reason did any of the apostles have, OTHER THAN A FEELING, to leave what they were doing and follow the Saviour? To belittle us for that is very interesting and curious… especially coming from Christians.

    Inevitably, an EV will say, “but we have had our witness too.” Good! Follow that! But, you have no idea what witness I have had, and it is a lack of your character to belittle somebody else on the basis of something that you don’t understand, nor can measure for yourself.

    Ultimately, I have measured things out for myself. I was raised LDS, but have gone through periodic phases of doubt. Now EVs, in my opinion, do not have a compelling reason for me to believe that what they practice is the gospel taught in the scriptures. I don’t think that EVs understand the scriptures. It seems to me that modern Christianity is what it is today after having gone through it’s own form of evolution over the years. And EVs don’t have a compelling reason not to believe that. Yes, Mormonism teaches something different than modern day Christians. But, I believe that modern day Christians teach something different than what was originally intended in the Bible. And there is no way to refute that. Christianity is nothing short of “this is our best guess given what we have available”.

  34. germit says:

    Blessings one and all. I’m typing something quick before I replace a failed furnace. THANK GOD for good friends that know HVAC: they should be in some level of heaven that is high above them all, no questions asked.

    DJ: excellent post: I give that one 5 Kolobs. You raise specific and forceful points. Well done. It will take me awhile to respond on a way that those questions deserve, but a few remarks to start.
    “plagiarism….has been addressed before….” well here’s the rub: to YOUR satisfaction and FARMS and FAIR etc, but to many others (and myself FOR NOW) not at all. What I’ve seen SO FAR does no work as a satisfactory answer, so have those questions been “addressed”?? Yes. To my satisfaction ?? Not yet. This begs the question of what it would take to satisfy me, but I could say exactly the same thing to you, or Ralph, or GSW, and on and on.
    Regarding Arthur: DJ, thou protesteth too much. Mr.ECK Tolle had MILLIONS of fervently believing followers, and there spiritual witness is just as fervent as yours or mine. Oprahs witness to the “truth” of Eck is off the charts in fervency (pardon me while I retch). Arthur’s point is just that we will need something MORE than an individual witness to establish what is true, or else we are left with as many “truths” as we have “witnesses”. At least that’s how I take that. Arthur: clean that up (my explanation, not the retching) if necessary. Talk to YA”LL later, have a celestial saturday. GERMIT

  35. jackg says:

    DJ,

    Did you measure against the Bible?

    “It seems to me that modern Christianity is what it is today after having gone through it’s own form of evolution over the years” — What do you say about the evolution Mormonism has gone through over a shorter period? Polygamy as a commandment to no polygamy…blood atonement practiced to no blood atonement and it never happened…Adam/God doctrine to Adam/God theory.

    You’re standing on sand because you’re standing on JS. Stand on Christ and you stand on THE ROCK. You make statements you can’t support.And there is no way to refute that.

    “Christianity is nothing short of “this is our best guess given what we have available”.” –You really have no basis for such a statement. I guess you’ve never studied early church history. If you have, it doesn’t show. You take big hits on Christians after attacking our supposed lack of character, and you seem to be doing your fair share of belittling others. You’re following a false spirit. You need to test those warm fuzzies of yours against God’s established word as found in the biblical text. All you’re doing is regurgitating the thoughts of others. The only thing you said that was truth was that Mormonism teaches something different than modern-day Christianity. And that’s why Christians reject Mormon doctrine. The red flags are all around you, but you choose to ignore them.

  36. May says:

    It’s sad that anyone that has had a “God experience” would contribute that to an organization of any kind.

    God is no respecter of person’s or “labels” he does a work in your life, answers prayer and heals the broken because he loves you! not because you are a Mormon. So to base a testimony of the “truth” of the Mormon church on the love God has poured out on you … is blasphemy!

    God does not bless me, answer my prayers and pour out His Holy Spirit because of a label I put on myself, he does this because he loves me and He promises that whoever seeks Him, will find Him. He doesn’t care what I choose to call myself as long as I am in Christ Jesus and to HIM AND ONLY HIM BE THE GLORY, not a man made organization.

    If a testimony is based only on blind faith and no common sense or evidence at all … then maybe we should all be Muslim. They had “an angel” appear to Muhammad, he wrote the Koran and they are a devoted and emotionally validated people, they pray 7 times a day, live the “law” to the fullest and will die for their god. So what makes Mormonism any different that of Muslim? there is an equal amount of evidence for both, both have a history in polygamy and promise that of more plurality of virgin wives in heaven…

    what man of God spends his entire mortal life in anticipation of new bed partners? in the creation he created Adam and Eve, not Adam, Eve, Sarah, Maggie, Ruth, Lucy …

    At some point you have to use both sides of your brain … AKA reasoning. God given common sense to reason through, weigh evidence and then at the end make a small leap of blind faith based on an educated thought process. Otherwise you are just as well off to believe in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny.

  37. dj1989 says:

    Germit

    I hate to waste a post on this quick response… but what you said made me smile… “5 Kolobs”. 🙂

    You should get royalties any time that it’s used, cause it will be for sure.

    Thanks,

    DJ

    Maybe I’ll post something later, but gotta go to work.

  38. germit says:

    May: good post, I esp. liked your last paragraph about “at some point you have to use both sides of your brain….” very true, and to give many in the LDS credit, many try, for awhile, to do exactly that . The problem is what to do with all the contradictory data that starts to filter in. As a “true believer”, do I switch to damage control and start to use some means to 1)deny what I learned (it never happened that way, these are just anti lies, etc 2)poison the well: consider who is speaking: they fell into apostasy and have a sin problem,etc 3)or put the new truth into some kind of ‘faith-safe container’: yes it happened that way BUT….. there are no doubt MANY ways to duck and weave (ask my wife about the state of the garage….) we all have our reasons/rationalizatioins. Your point brings up, I think, an interesting observation about mormons and scholarship: it’s a love-hate relationship. Seems to me they are all for it, UNTIL the results are something less that “faith promoting”. Then the hierarchy reels in (or tries too, at least) the wayward free thinkers and tries to undo the damage. I know this sounds like just another diatribe against LDS, but there are just too many Simon Southertons and Grant Palmers (I could go on) to write this off as Germit being fussy. GERMIT

  39. dj1989 says:

    Germit & May- I partially just addressed the whole idea that LDS do not use rational thought or commons sense in a different MormonCoffee thread (http://tinyurl.com/4gme4x). But, I can say that I think it’s a ridiculous claim to make. In my case, I have found after years of study (with some occasional doubt mixed in over the years), that the truth that I have found in the LDS faith is an interwoven tapestry that comes together beautifully, logically, and sensibly. Truly, to me it is the faith that makes the most “sense”.

    Germit… you made a great point before that one must come to their own sense of satisfaction on whether or not to accept particular explanations to particular questions. I agree. I will believe you when you say that you haven’t been satisfied. It seems that you’d be willing to agree that neither of our levels of satisfation/dissatisfaction really have any bearing on what is true. Truth is independent. A logical person would have to say that either one (but probably both) of us hasn’t taken into account all evidence available, or that individual paradigms of thought has more bearing on the decision than we are able to see/admit.

    May… I truly don’t mean to offend. However, reading your post made very little sense to me. You were wildly flinging accusations that just don’t match up to real Mormonism. Yes, Mormons BASE a testimony on a spiritual witness (did Peter do any different when he left his nets to follow Jesus)… but no Mormon at all will tell you that it ends there. There is SO MUCH more that follows, including the evidence that appeals to one’s common sense & rational thought.

    Mormons do not base “a testimony of the “truth” of the Mormon church on the love God has poured out on us”. Mormons do not believe that God blesses us or anybody, or answer prayers “because of a label”. Where are you getting this??? It is not Mormonism that believes such things.

  40. dj1989 says:

    JackG-

    This is only partially addressed to you as well, but it is the sentiment that many EVs have. You ask, “Did you measure against the Bible?” I assume that this in responding to my statement that “I have measured things out for myself.” If so, then the answer is “yes”, for I believe the Bible to be the word of God. But, I have measured against other things as well, because if the Bible is the only thing to measure against, it is a sad state of things as far as I’m concerned.

    Please do not take offense at that statement, because it isn’t meant to offend, but to describe the way that I think. So, let me explain my point of view. From my (and Mormonism’s) point of view, Christianity has not hit the mark in regards to the gospel of Jesus. We believe (and I know that you don’t agree with me, but this is what we believe) this is caused by the lack of a living prophet to be the mouthpiece of God on the earth. We believe this is of utmost importance for seekers of heavenly truths.

    Part of this comes from what appears (from our point of view) to be complete disharmony in the Christian world in regards to what is “the whole truth” and not just what is equal to the “heavenly lowest common denominator” that all can agree on (ie – a universal church).

    So, I do indeed measure by the Bible, but also by the BoM, because it makes sense, and is in harmony with the gospel as taught in the Bible. Frankly, if I had to measure the two against each other, I would say that I think that the BoM is more clear than the Bible (not “at odds with” but “is more clear than”). To me, asking me to just accept the Bible and not the BoM, or to not use each to measure what the gospel of Jesus is, is to say to a far sighted man to stop using his glasses because it makes him see different than the rest.

  41. Jeffrey says:

    dj,

    I am interested to hear what you believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ is? I imagine it mirrors what I believe as far as the main point being – Jesus Christ atoned for our sins. Am I correct?

    I don’t see how much clearer the Bible could be on that point and why you believe the BoM is more clear on it.

    The difference in doctrine is actually not found in the Book of Mormon because a lot of it mirrors the Bible, – i.e. One God, among other things.

    In other words I don’t see why you put so much love into a book, especially more than the Bible, that doesn’t even show explain all of the extra biblical doctrine the Mormons have (i.e. Secret handshakes to get into heaven, baptism for the dead, polygamy, blood atonement, Adam-God, etc..)

  42. May says:

    OK…

    what if (to all the Mormons) …

    God said that the ONLY payment for sin was the shed of blood (not sweat) and that no one may enter his presence in sin. He then sent his son (I am giving you the primary version for simplicity sake) to shed His blood for your sin … because he was perfect, the Lamb of God. When Jesus was crucified the “Vail” was torn and the holy of hollies was opened and HE SAID “IT IS FINISHED” you can now enter the throne of God, clean and pure in the sight of the most holy God … seen through the blood of Jesus.

    Simple enough … right?

    Then some dreamer boy with a wild imagination makes up a story … things escalate till one lie leads to another and then (in his flesh) he can become the “middle man” or port of entry to God. He will have power, money and women …

    And now people (who bought his story) now think that they can’t go to be with God unless… they take oaths, pay money, and give their time and allegiance to what is now called THE CORPORATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATER DAY SAINTS, a 60 BILLION DOLLAR ORGANIZATION.

    Don’t split hairs on this one. Just what if …

    What if the gospel is really that simple and all you have to do to be forgiven is simply ask him … not your bishop … but your God and then you can KNOW you will be with God … by just simply and humbly accepting His free gift of Grace and accept that it is not of yourself but by the blood and only the blood of Jesus??

    What if … ??

    What if there is no “middle man” and it really is between you and God?

    What if you are wrong and it was right in front of you but you were to prideful, stubborn or scared to look, because then you might have to make some really hard choices.

    This is where I think most of you are, specially the ones who have studied and know.

    All I have to say … is God will never leave you, nor forsake you, and what he has is so much free-er and sweeter than anything you can imagine

  43. dj1989 says:

    May- Again… I’m sorry for not making sense of your comments, but to me they are not a clear or accurate description of what Mormonism is. I still find myself asking, “Where is this coming from?”

    Jeffrey- You said that “The difference in doctrine is actually not found in the Book of Mormon because a lot of it mirrors the Bible”. This is not true. One would only come to this conclusion after having made a limited, superficial comparison of each book. I would go so far as to say that I do not think that anybody that has read the BoM from cover to cover would agree. But, a great place to begin to discover it’s differences is it’s clarity.

    Consider this: Biblical interpretation is all over the place, not only between LDS & EVs but within the entire Christian world. So much so, that one manner of worship or one manner of belief doesn’t seem to suffice among Christians. It seems that an “exegesis” is always necessary to make heads or tails out of what Jesus meant, or Paul, or Peter, or Isaiah, etc, etc. And even then, there is not agreement. In the BoM, an exegesis makes the doctrine “rich”… not “understandable”. In the BoM, doctrine is taught clearly, simply, and in beautiful, masterful writing (The Allegory of the Olive Tree is perhaps the most amazing allegory in all of written scripture). There is no mistaking what is taught. A pastor with years of focused training isn’t necessary. We serve and teach each other. This is a beautiful concept, and one that makes sense to me… a gospel understandable to all, but gets deeper with experience. I like to believe that this is how the Savior would have it.

    I’m sorry I can’t address your other comments, but I think I addressed the more important part of your comment.

  44. May says:

    DJ, I’ll take your “proclaimed ignorance” in stride and humor you a while longer because I think there are people reading this and in spite of your “but I just don’t understand what you are saying” they do.

    All you want to do is dodge the bullets by talking around in circles (aka circular thinking) I ask very direct things and instead of answering them you run and then try to divert, the TRUE COLOR of an apologetic that will do or say whatever to prove a point.

    If Joseph Smith was tried in a court of law he would loose. If the BoM was tried, it would loose also and be declared as religious fiction. We as humans weigh out everything (hopefully) which leads us to EDUCATED decisions. To believe Mormonism after you have truly studied it takes nothing less than shutting off every single shred of reason.

    Archaeologist from all over the world Christian and non, use the Bible as an accurate archaeological document. No you can not prove that Jesus was the Son of God but you could certainly make a good case of probability based on EVIDENCE.

    To believe in the BoM for any reason, archaeological or otherwise would require you to put aside ALL logical reasoning, which is why when I read your posts … I don’t believe that you “believe” but rather that you “have a dog in the race” that is just my personal opinion.

    There isn’t any more evidence for the validity of DJS being a prophet or the BoM than there is for Sasquatch or any other fiction book written.

    The Mormon church can’t keep this up forever, eventually they will have to make a PR move … along will come another “explanation” and other changes (wow there have already been so many) till eventually they just simply run out.

    If DJS was a true prophet, why didn’t he or one of the others, translate the Bible correctly? why isn’t one of the current prophets prophesying?? why don’t the Mormons use DJS translated version (aka adulterated version) of the Bible (can be purchased at any LDS book store) ?

  45. Jeffrey says:

    I’m still trying to think of things that support your argument about the BoM being more rich and clear than the Bible on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you can help me. Instead of just saying “I think its more rich and clear”, show examples of what you’re exactly thinking of.

    Also, I don’t know what doctrine you think traditional Christian faiths dont agree upon because of their own “interpretation” of the Scriptures. Could you offer any examples of this as well? Of course there are minor differences that don’t even pertain to salvation like women pastors and the like, but as far as who God is, who Jesus is, what Jesus did, whats necessary for salvation, what his commandments are, all Christian Faiths, I found, agree with one another.

    The book of Romans is rather clear on what one must do to be saved. Your very own prophets can’t even agree upon doctrine. Do we have to spill our own blood to atone for certain sins or not? Is Adam really our God or not? You would think that God would give his mouthpiece(s) the same information, but Spencer W. Kimball outright denied doctrine created by Brigham Young.

  46. jackg says:

    DJ, Thank you for your honest answer and the respectful way in which you delivered it. I know that things sometimes get heated during these discussions because of the passion everyone has. However, as I have said before: to claim that the Bible is in some way inadequate in giving us the gospel message is to work from the premise that God is not powerful enough to protect His word, and it also says that God stopped working through humanity during the early church councils. With that said, I have to, with respect, reject your analogy about the far-sighted man. I just hope you would consider this premise from which Mormonism is perpetuated.

  47. dj1989 says:

    May- I guess for the sake of clarification, I’ll respond. It’s not that I don’t understand your words. What I don’t understand is how you correlate the things that you think is descriptive of Mormonism with what Mormonism really is like. To say that you think that I have a “dog in the race”, is a rather rash decision on your part, as you’ve had about 8,000 characters of writing to make a judgment, and of those words, I feel that I have made as clear, sensible, and rational a case as space permits.

    When you write things like “There isn’t any more evidence for the validity of DJS being a prophet or the BoM than there is for Sasquatch” truly shows that you haven’t even considered it in the first place, because there is more than “a shred of evidence” as you say.

    Comments like yours, make me think, “Who is the one with the dog in the race?” I freely, and continuously admit that what EVs have presented has been worthy of consideration, and that I have gone through serious doubts myself. I feel that what has been presented thus far satisfies my doubts. Yet, the door is still open. I welcome opportunities to think critically about my faith, because if my faith is true, it will stand. I have nothing to fear, if what I really want is truth… and you’ll just have to take my word that this is the desire of my heart. If what EVs have is true, why in the world would a push it away? But my conclusion is made after weighing the issue, and not before. Your statements clearly indicate otherwise, for as I’ve said before, they are not descriptive of what real Mormonism is like.

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