Previously, we discussed the level of honesty we see in various maps and models of different theorists who claim to have insight into the location of the Land of Promise of the Book of Mormon. Here we want to include a level of intellectual dishonesty that plagues our society as well as the work.
Sticking one’s head in the sand to avoid learning is a form of intellectual dishonesty, as is ignoring facts and the Lord’s words, whether spoken directly by Him or by his servants, the prophets
Or those who claim what is said in the scriptural record doesn’t mean that at all. As an example, when Jacob said, “And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20), and then followed up on that and said, “But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren” (2 Nephi 10:21). They claim that Jacob was referring to their being in a distant land, not really an island. However, Jacob said, “but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea.”
Where is intellectual honesty when 1) readers of the scriptural record know there is no mention of anyone else living in the area of the Nephite lands, that there is no suggestion of anyone else, or of anything anyone else has done or accomplished, or any interaction between Lehi’s and Ishmael’s posterity and the Mulekites with anyone else in the land, near the land, around the land, etc. It is strictly a corruption of honest reading to then lay claim to others being there; and 2) readers of the scriptural record know that the word “isle” was written by a prophet standing in the temple and recorded by another prophet who claimed: “The things which I have written (of Jacob) sufficeth me” (2 Nephi 11:1), and that it was translated by another prophet, who the Lord obviously trusted with one of the great works of all time, and that the translation took place through the Spirit whose lack of agreement caused the work to stop if something was translated or written wrong, and only continued when what was written down was correct. Yet, these intellectual theorists bankrupt their honesty by claiming that what was written was not correct and meant something entirely different.
Or what about those who just ignore the scriptural record because it does not agree with their viewpoint? Take, for instance, those who use a peninsula in place of an island? Those who champion the Malay Peninsula or the Florida Peninsula even though Jacob says they were on an island, and that there was a North Sea, which these two peninsulas do not have. Or those who champion the Heartland, Great Lakes or Eastern U.S., where the land is mostly flat with very low-lying mountains in the far reaches, mostly to the far east along the eastern seaboard of New England to North Carolina, and ignore Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy of words the Lord put into his heart to speak that during the crucifixion valleys would become mountains, “whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23).
Or ignoring Mormon’s description of herbs and plants that cured killing fever, which is found in only one place in the world in Andean South America from the bark of the cinchona tree and is called today “quinine,” the only natural remedy for killing fevers like malaria. Now these intellectual theorists know this scriptures exists, but never discuss it and act like it is not in the scriptural record.
Or what about those who give no real attention to the most important factor in all of the scriptural record to show where Nephi’s ship went and landed, which is the all-important wind and sea currents that governed all sea travel from the beginning of time down to the invention of the diesel engine. How on earth can one ignore the way in which Lehi got from the shores of Bountiful to their landing site in the area of the Land of First Inheritance along the shore of the West Sea (Alma 22:28).
Not until 2,092 years after Lehi set sail from Bountiful did the Lord inspire man to know that the sea currents and winds that were absolutely necessary for sailing moved westward from the Canary Islands across the great deep of the Atlantic Ocean, and returned to the east via a route to the north in a great circular path we now call the North Atlantic Gyre. That one piece of knowledge, which Columbus claimed came to him via the Holy Ghost, was the one factor that opened up the Western Hemisphere to conquest and colonization by the Gentiles of Europe (1 Nephi 13:12). An event that changed world history and provided the knowledge to the rest of the world that a world and people existed beyond the seas—in a land that, after the waters of the Great Flood had receded, a great land appeared (Ether 13:2) that was kept from the knowledge of other nations by the Lord (2 Nephi 1:8).
Then there are the intellectual dishonest theorists who try to marginalize those parts of the scriptural record they simply do not like. As an example, theorists who figure it didn’t matter how Lehi got to the Land of Promise—and marginalize the importance of winds and currents; those who have no regard for Mormon’s specific north-south land arrangement—and marginalize the importance of stated directions; those who disregard Jacob’s “island” statement—and marginalize the importance of directional seas and their location; those who figure words like “small” and “narrow” don’t mean that—and marginalize the actual width of the small and narrow neck; those who ignore the four seas mentioned in Helaman—and marginalize the boundaries of the Land of Promise; those who claim Mormon didn’t mean “horse,” “elephant,” ”cattle,” or other stated animals—and marginalize the value of the Jaredite herds and flocks and their importance to Lehi who didn’t bring animals; those who claim the Nephites did not have a hard coin monetary system—and marginalize the importance of Zeezrom’s bribe and Amulek’s resistance; those who pick and choose scriptural descriptions they want and reject those that disagree with their views—marginalizing those points that do not agree with their theories and models; those who insist Moroni buried his record in the hill Cumorah when he never tells you where he placed it—marginalizing the reality of two hill Cumorahs, like two lands of Bountiful. The list could go on, but the point is that such lack of intellectual honesty is far beyond acceptance.
We see these very attitudes of intellectual dishonesty in our society today, who are so wrapped up in their own beliefs and views, that they cannot see past their own noses, nor do they have the best interests of all people in mind, but only those who agree with them. It was the same attitude that drove the Gadianton Robbers during the time of the Jaredites, and again during the time of the Nephites, where truth, law and order and the rule of law held no sway, for “they were a stiffnecked people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction” (Jelaman 5:3), who wanted to overturn the law for their own personal benefit and eventually pulled entire nations down into hell with them, for in their governments, “they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good” (Helaman 5:2)
We need to set aside our differences and personal opinions and views, and adhere strictly to what was written by prophets who were there, who lived in the land, and who traversed it their entire lives. We need to stop thinking we know more than they did and use the scriptural record with reason and common sense, not looking for some outlandish idea, but following the clear and precise descriptions Mormon left us. We need to have both moral and intellectual honesty in regard to reading and writing about the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon—and in so doing, avoid what befell the Nephites who, first, lost their government, then lost their humanity, and finally lost their grace, and lastly their lives.