Saturday, November 19, 2016

Evaluating the Deseret News Views of two Land of Promise Theories – Part II

Continuing from the previous post about Michael De Groote of the Deseret News who weighed in on the Land of Promise and evaluated what he considered the two most prominent theories, Mesoamerica and the Heartland. In the first post, his comments on some “random strengths and weaknesses from both theories” covered that of Mesoamerica. Below we will cover his views on the Heartland model. 
1. Heartland theory strengths—Promised land. "This is the promised land. The prophecies and promises indicate that the United States has to be at least some part of the Book of Mormon, because practically every one of these promises in it can only really be applied as the United States," Rod L. Meldrum said. "It is a nation 'above all other nations,' and a 'mighty' Gentile nation. Well, what other nation are they talking about here? I don't think that they are talking about Guatemala here."
Response: We have covered this time and again in the blog. Several prophets and General Authorities in General Conferences have discussed the entire Western Hemisphere as being the Promised Land, Zion, Land of Promise, etc. Lehi landed along the Chilean coast, Nephi moved northward into southeastern Peru, Mosiah I moved down into the Land of Zarahemla in west central Peru, and Ecuador was the Land Northward—we have also documented this numerous times in support of the Western Hemisphere being the land the Lord set aside for these last days. While the U.S. plays a very important role, beginning with the Monroe Doctrine of securing the rights and freedoms to the overall Land of Promise, that specific area given to Lehi within the Book of Mormon is limited to South America. It might be of interest to Meldrum and other isolationists who want the U.S. to be all of the Land of Promise, that Nephi tells us quite clearly that when he saw Columbus sailing to the Land of Promise that he “was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12, emphasis added). 
    Now, if Columbus, who never landed in North America, let alone the United States, sailed “even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land” we must conclude that the actual land of the Book of Mormon to which Nephi was seeing around 580 B.C., was not within the United States, yet it was the Land of Promise!
2. Heartland theory strengths—Joseph Smith statements. Joseph Smith made several statements throughout his life that indicate that he believed Book of Mormon events took place in North America.
    Response: He also made the statement that Lehi sailed southeast and landed in Chile at the 30º south latitude, a statement his scribe and secretary (as well as 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency) Frederick G. Williams wrote down. As Joseph repeatedly said, unless he was speaking for the Church he was merely stating his opinion like everyone else. He never issued any statement for the Church as to the location of the Land of Promise other than it being in the Western Hemisphere.
3. DNA. Journal studies of Native American DNA shows that the rare X DNA haplogroup is found in the parts of North America where the heartland theorists say the Book of Mormon took place. Although geneticists' dating of the DNA does not correlate with Book of Mormon times, the X DNA haplogroup has its origins in the Middle East, not Asia.
    Response: Until DNA can be shown to be without question as accurate as needed, and until this chronology of DNA can be shown to exist as so many people, like Meldrum, try to jump on the bandwagon to show, the jury is still out on this one.
4. Archaeology. North America has sites that date to the right time for the Book of Mormon and that match descriptions of fortifications.
    Response: This is simply not true. The fortifications found in the U.S. neither match the huge fortifications indicated in the Book of Mormon, nor include “resort” fortifications, nor stone walls around all the lands, etc., as Mormon describes, nor do they match the dates of the Nephites in anything that can be time dated by the means other locations in the Americas can.
5. Hill Cumorah. The Gold Plates were buried in the New York Hill Cumorah.
    Response: The Gold Plates were found in the Hill Cumorah in western New York by Joseph Smith who was told of their location by Moroni. It does not mean they were originally buried or hidden in that hill at the time of their last known location in 421 A.D. or shortly afterward. We simply have no record or idea of that.
6. Heartland weaknesses—River Sidon. “The Book of Mormon makes it abundantly clear that the river Sidon runs from the south to the north," Sorenson said. And in Alma 2, Alma and his army wade across the river to fight the invading Lamanites. The river Sidon in the heartland model is considered to be the Mississippi River.”
    Response: There is no place or area along the path of the Mississippi that matches the area of the land to the south of any location being higher. The U.S. Mississippi basin slopes from north to south and is a drainage basin, meaning it drains downhill toward the flow of the river. Yet in the Land of Promise, the land to the south of Zarahemla is higher, as is the draining of the Sidon, which flows northward.
7. Hills. There are hills in the land of Nephi. Sorenson said it is always described as "up" in relation to everything else. "Where is the 'up' (in the heartland model)? Is it the hills of Kentucky?" Sorenson said.
    Response: There are mountains in the Land of Promise, and in the Land of Nephi. These mountains, after the crucifixion, are so high, they are described as mountains “whose height is great,” by Samuel the Lamanite. There are no great mountains whose height is great anywhere in the middle or eastern U.S. in any of the areas claimed to be that of the Land of Promise. Meldrum's heartland covers the Great Plaisn of the U.S., the Mississippi Drainage basin, and the flat southern lands. The Great Lakes has no hills, let alone high mountains.
8. A West Sea. The Narrow Neck of Land has a west side on a West Sea. The border by the West Sea is where Nephi and Lehi and their party landed. If the West Sea is one of the Great Lakes, Sorenson wonders how Lehi sailed to it from Asia.
Response: There would have been no way to get to the Great lakes, or any other inland lake or sea anywhere in the middle or eastern U.S. The Mississippi north of Baton Rouge, the St. Lawrence west of Montreal, and none of the inland waterway systems could handle ocean-going vessels until dredged and deepened by the Corps of Engineers in the 18th century onward.
9. Climate. “Where is the snow in Zarahemla?" Sorenson asked. "Where is the snow in the Book of Mormon? Where is the cold in the Book of Mormon? Not a single word that indicates anything other than warmth and even tropical heat."
    Response. Actually, there are only two places in the entire scriptural record that suggests heat, when it states: “And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40). The “heat of the day” is also mentioned (Alma 51:33). But it can also be deduced that the reason why after prolonged battles the Lamanites continually retreated and returned to their land and that can be seen by winter weather when throughout history armies have retreated before winter set in. And in each case, it appears the Lamanites did not return to battle until the following year, i.e., after the weather changed and spring or summer began. The point is, we know little about the weather and climate of the Land of Promise and for Sorenson or anyone else to make definitive conclusions from what little is written does little to expand our understanding.
10. Lack of Civilization. The evidence of the type of high civilization described in the Book of Mormon is less prevalent than in Mesoamerica.
Response: Actually, the highest civilization existed in South America, and steadily decreased the further north we go until in North America, there is little evidence of any civilization about the standard of the so-called American Indian.
    All in all, the article in the Deseret News does little to add to our knowledge of the location of the Book of Mormon. And for the newspaper to single out just two locations, leaving out South America that has so many matches and so few negatives is remarkably narrow-minded and slanted, especially when neither of those two locations match hardly anything found in Nephi, Jacob, Mormon or Moroni's descriptions of the Land of Promise.


  1. My sensibility of why the Andes model is not pursued by many is because it requires them to accept that massive earth changes took place geographically at the time of Christ.

    The Book of Mormon clearly speaks of such massive changes, but they hesitate to accept the changes could be so great.

    But when the matter is really studied out, as Del has done, what is required to accept the other models is actually what one should hesitate to accept.

    It takes faith to accept the Book of Mormon as an authentic record, so why should one not also accept on faith that the Andes rose and the Amazon basin came out of water at the time of Christ?

    1. absolutely correct. I'm a geologist and have talked to many geos at BYU. They can never accept this model because it flies in the face of uniformatarianism. They also can nor will ever accept the Biblical flood. Understanding the flood is crucial to understanding what conditions were like in North America at the time of the Jaredites. Something that is completely ignored.

  2. In an upcoming article, I think about within ten days or so, will appear here relating to the meaning of the word "cleave" as used in 3 Nephi, which should suggest exactly how that all happened and provide at least BOM scriptural confirmation of the devastation beyond what some people, like Sorenson, read

  3. The series is actually scheduled for Nov 26th, a series of 4 articles entitled "The Trouble with Time," with the idea of the meaning of "cleave" and its meaningful use appearing in the second article of the series.