Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Case for the Need of Intellectual Honesty – Part I

There was a time in our society when honesty was considered a highly prized character trait; contracts were made by a shake of the hand, a man’s honor was tied with his actions, and honorable men were highly prized and rewarded in their life-long pursuits. Today, however, it appears from current events that such honesty is a thing of the past. 
   When Isaiah, looking down the corridor of time, saw our day, he bemoaned the changes he saw, which must have been so unbelievable to him in his day, that he diverted his attention away from writing about the Savior and his birth and mission, to discussing that in that future day—our day—people would “call evil good, and good evil” and would “put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). He also said, “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight"…and “Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!” (Isaiah 5:21,23).
He saw a world turned upside down in terms of values, character, and virtues. Later, Paul, writing to Timothy, said similarly of the future, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers...unthankful, unholy” (2 Timothy 3:2).
    Unfortunately, we are seeing those prophecies unfold before our very eyes. In our own society today, it is very difficult to trust anything the news media reports, for truth is no longer a virtue, only espousing one’s personal views. We find that so many people, even those who in many other areas of their lives are honorable, or at least upstanding, presenting their opinions in lieu of the facts of a situation. Regrettably, we are seeing today how that even includes reporting on, or writing about, historical events. In fact, reversing the icons of the past, such as Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln and changing them into flawed men with personal agendas that were neither honorable nor virtuous. The Savior, Jesus Christ, is relegated to a mere mortal; Washington to a bumbling officer who lucked out in the end; Shakespeare to an immoral man who didn’t really write many of his works; Columbus to a debased murderer of indigenous Americans, etc.
    We also find that modern thinking places people like Marilyn Monroe as the most famous person in all of history, and others like John M. Keynes, Leo Tolstoy, and Bill Gates as far more famous than Franklyn D. Roosevelt; Oprah Winfrey more than Walt Disney; Peter Sellers more than Ernest Hemingway; John Lennon more than Henry Ford; Angelina Jolie more than Mary Magdalene, etc.
    We live in a very unusual world today. But more importantly, we live in a world with values far less worthwhile than in the distant past. There was a time when what was written in scripture was held in high esteem. Not so today. Most of the modern generations have no idea what is written in scripture, nor what it means--many don't even know their own near history, unable to identify icons of the past and events within their own lifetimes.
    We only need look at the Book of Mormon and the various theories that have evolved over the past 50 years or so from “scholars” who feel their view point is more correct than what is actually written in the scriptural record and the viewpoint of Mormon who was there.
McKane’s (white circle) “I think land” where he has decided that Nephites and Lamanites must have lived West of the West Sea, despite not a single suggestion or reference in the entire scriptural record of anything being west of the West Sea

    As an example, David McKane in his “I think” tendency, writes: “As far as the Nephites and lamanites being west of the West Sea (Lake Michigan) I think the Nephites occupied this area after Christ visit and there being 200 years of peace with no difference in Lamanites and Nephites.” However, neither Mormon nor any other Book of Mormon writer ever says anything existed beyond the West Sea, nor did they even suggest such an area existed.
    John L. Sorenson, the guru of Mesoamerican Land of Promise theory, who claims, despite Mormon’s insistence on a north-south land layout of the Lamanite-Nephite lands, creates a model that runs east and west—claiming that Mormon meant east and west, not north and south.
    Phyllis Olive Carol, the early champion of the Great Lakes model, who decided that the location of the hill Cumorah in western upstate New York was the place to begin looking for the Land of Promise despite the fact that Nephi tells us that his ship was “driven forth before the wind” and the sea currents from the Arabian Peninsula went southeast down into the Southern Ocean which curved upward along South America and the winds and currents died at the 30º South Latitude—the very place Frederick G. Williams, a member of the original First Presidency, claimed, and Orson Pratt championed, as being where Lehi landed.
    While anyone can  have an opinion, it is foolhardy to develop an opinion that does not agree with the scriptural record, then insist it is correct and the scriptural record, therefore, must be wrong.
    Take McKane’s comment on his website: “The Adena (Jaredite) culture ending at 200BC is a Book of Mormon match.”
    Response: This is not a Book of Mormon match. In the Book of Omni, we learn that Mosiah left the city of Nephi in 205 B.C. Even if it took him a full year to get to Zarahemla (200 B.C.), which in no way would have taken so long, chief Zarahemla showed Mosiah a stone that Coriantumr, king of the Jaredites (Ether 12:1) had carved about the history of his people (he being the last, surviving Jaredite). Given the time it would have taken for all the flesh to have decayed off the bones of thousands or millions of Jaredite dead (Mosiah 8:8), the handles of swords to disintegrate (Mosiah 8:11, and sword blades to canker (Mosiah 8:12) and the time it took between Coriantumr killing Shiz (Ether 15:31), and his arriving among the Mulekites in Zarahemla, i.e., to get from the hill Ramah (in the Land Northward) where the Jaredites were annihilated, to Zarahemla, and then for the nine moons (months) to pass before Coriantumr’s death, these events do not line up. No Jaredites could have been alive in 200 B.C., in this case, not even Coriantumr, since the time that would have to be allotted would be close to 100 years, making the Jaredite collapse and annihilation no later than 100 years before the disappearance of the Adena Mound Builders.
The Grave Creed Mount, in Moundsville, West Virginia, an Adena Mound site—far from the Land Northward which is where the Jaredites were located

    It might be noted, however, that the National Register of Adena Mound sites lists their existence from 800 to 100 B.C., and the Adena Grave Creek Mound is said to have been built from 250-150 B.C. (Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex, The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, 2015), making the above dates even more out of line with the scriptural record.
    Yet, even when such errors are pointed out, his reply, “My model still stands its in America,” shows a lack for facts and a tenacity to hold onto a previous belief.
    Or there is Ralph A. Olsen who places the Land of Promise in Malay, Indonesia, despite the fact that Moroni told Joseph Smith that the people of the Book of Mormon were in the Americas, i.e., “an account of this continent’s former inhabitants” (Joseph Smith History 1:34-35). Evidently, however, that fact today, directly from the Angel Moroni, has little bearing on a person’s personal opinion.
The four seas of the Mesoamerican models, both showing the Pacific Ocean as being two different seas, and neither having the Land Southward surrounded by water except for the small or narrow neck of land

    Or Stephen L. Carr and Douglas Christensen, BMAF, who claim that their Mesoamerican model has “the four seas called for in the record: Sea East, Sea West, Sea South and Sea North.” However, they fail to mention that one of the seas is the same sea, the Pacific Ocean, but just simply calling it “south” in one place. However, the scriptural record makes no such differentiation, i.e., there is not a North Sea and South Sea that is the same sea, nor a West Sea and South Sea that is the same sea.
    And, as one counter-theorist mentions, the Mesoamericn model of the Land Southward (and this is true of all Mesoamerican models) is not surrounded by water. Yet despite that fact, the response is that it would have appeared to its inhabitants to be surrounded by water.
Gulf of Tehuantepec, merely an extension of the Pacific Ocean, and in no way could be considered a separate sea or one that divides any land area at all—despite modern day language, there is no way this water would have been thought of as dividing a land area in the B.C. era. Without aerial photography or satellite views, this (red line) could hardly be seen on the ground as anything but a curvature of the seashore, not a separation of land

Or Ted Dee Stoddard and Lawrence L. Poulsen, in the Mesoamerican model, claim that the “Sea Divides the Land” is an area along the Gulf of Tehuantepec, as they write: “We hypothesize that “the place where the sea divides the land” is the Coatzacoalcos River basin on the northern half of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.” (Analyzing “The Place Where the Sea Divides the Land” and the “Great City” of the Jaredites, BMAF, 2011). 
    In the Jaredite B.C. era, these two scholars are claiming the Jaredites saw this area of water as dividing the land—at a time when to them, there were not two lands. The idea of a Land Northward and a Land Southward, was obviously introduced by the Nephites and does not appear in scripture until long after the Jaredites annihilated themselves. To comment today about this being a land division, and strictly a figurative one, is foolish and obviously not suggested in the Jaredite writing except where the abridger, Moroni, inserts it into his explanation on four occasions (Ether 9:31-32; 10:19,21) from his much later vantage point.
(See the next post, “A Case for the Need of Intellectual Honesty – Part II,” for more on this subject and how it is effective an understanding of the Book of Mormon and the location of the Land of Promise)


  1. Intellectual honesty is needed to be sure. However, the very existence of the BOM challenges a person’s honesty from the perspective of a secular world. The BOM came forth by the power of God and within its pages are the eye witness accounts to believers of the power of God. In a world where honesty is seen as a relative thing we need to be honest ourselves. Professors and theorists will have a hard time accepting the one key element that exists in the BOM and that is the power of God. The Andes were raised up in a great upheaval never before seen on the face of the earth. Any secular thinking person will reject our model simply because they cannot accept the idea that God could work such a miracle. None of the other BOM models are viable because none of their models show the power of God at work. South America was once an island as the BOM makes clear. That island disappeared 2,000 years ago and replaced by a vast continent that has the appearance of having existed for a much longer period of time. This is a fact that most will not be able to accept nor appreciate.

    When I see the exceedingly high mountains of the Andes I now think of that prophecy of Samuel the Lamanite in Helaman 14 where it says –and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men Hel 14:28. So your work is made impossibly difficult, accept for a few, to convince others of the power of God. Intellectual honestly – yes- but also convincing them of the power of God is real as well.

  2. Having served my mission in Meso, I can tell you that the Coatzacoalcos, Papaloapan, and Grijalva River basins regularly flood in the rainy season (though a series of dams tries to stop that now.

    If you used the Coatza as your point of reference, you could narrow down the Isthmus down to around 40 miles.

    But if you tell a Meso that his model would be accurate if it weren't tilted, he will scoff and say that Santa Barbara is north of Los Angeles or that Chiapas is south of Mexico City by local standards today.

    Care must be taken to pay attention to the Scriptural record as well as science.

  3. The intellectual dishonesty in the Book of Mormon geography models is not nearly as dishonest as the "all is well in Zion" spirit that can lead one to hell (2 Nephi 28:21) that is found in placing the present church leaders above even a possible controversy-- in open defiance of many clear scriptures.


  4. Or there is Ralph A. Olsen who places the Land of Promise in Malay, Indonesia, despite the fact that Moroni told Joseph Smith that the people of the Book of Mormon were in the Americas, i.e., “an account of this continent’s former inhabitants” (Joseph Smith History 1:34-35).

    Did the Angel Moroni tell Joseph that, or was it the Angel Nephi? We can't really be sure because the original manuscript (which postdates the events in the Book of Mormon by 1400 years) says both.

    The Book of Mormon itself says zero about continents or America or any such modern constructs. The text says they were on an island in the sea, nearly surrounded by water. The Malay Peninsula qualifies as such.

    I'd love to hear your comments on the latest updates to the "Malay" theory.


  5. Why do we need Malay when all the evidence points to South America. As far as I'm concerned the issue is settled.

    1. "All the evidence" seems to be a matter of opinion when it comes to Book of Mormon geography. In my view, all the evidence points to the isles of the sea as the location. Historically, the isles of the sea covered a much broader geographic area than the North American continent. This is why we find the Lamanite remnant scattered across the Pacific and into the Indian Ocean even today. To settle the issue, we need to follow the Polynesian (Lamanite) DNA to the source from whence it sprang. Although we now know Polynesians were in Brazil before Columbus I don't see much evidence pointing to South America as their source.

  6. That doesn't make any sense to me. I don't see how you can connect Polyeneseans to anything. Follow the evendence as to where the winds and currents took them first. FG Williams had it right and that is something I accept as a revealation.

    1. The Polynesians have been identified as a remnant of the Lamanites since the 1830s.

      The evidence points to winds and currents from the Middle East leading vessels directly to the Malay Peninsula. That is the intellectually honest answer.

  7. Unknown: Scholarly discussions are rarely appreciated when someone does not identify themselves in some way; however, to answer your Malay issue, see the next section on "Comments From Readers" where I can show maps to counter your unsupportable comments about Malay. This is now scheduled around the last of this month.

    1. I appreciate your willingness to look at the model, but should clarify that the one I mentioned above is quite a bit different from Ralph Olsen's Malay Model. The map is laid out entirely differently to match 6th century BC-420 AD archeological sites and goelogical features required by the BOM text. Here's a series of videos with more detail.




      I am logged into my Google account when I post but my name is not showing up. My name is Jay.

  8. I encourage anyone and everyone everywhere to pursue Book of Mormon studies and geography in whatever way that grabs their interest, excitement, and passion. Be intellectually honest and logically coherent to the best of your ability. Follow the clues as you see them. Maybe you'll be right, maybe you'll be wrong, but i can say this much without reservation: I've learned great principles and gained powerful insights from purveyors of ALL the various geography models. By the same token, if you disagree with a certain model and therefore ignore and dismiss it and the supporters of it, you're actually depriving yourself. In my view, that is the chief problem in BOM geography studies. Chew up the meat, spit out the bones.