Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A Look at the Andes Mountains and the Land of Promise – Part III

Continuing from the previous post regarding the comparisons between Peru and the Land of Promise.

One of the many giant sand dunes in the Sechura Desert. The highest dune in the world is Cerro Blanco at 3858 feet from the base to its peak 

Impressively huge sand dunes and sprawling, rocky wastelands in an area of desert along the coastal strip of the country, most people would call it a desert, but locals refer to it as “that with no name,” and react strongly to someone calling it a desert. To them, this dry and dusty coastal strip of Peru—even with its jagged moonscape and curving sand dunes that reach 700-feet in height—is not a desert. It is a long, narrow stretch of the Peruvian coast south of the Sechura Desert—a narrow, nameless strip that separates the Andes and the Pacific for more than 1,500 miles before merging with Chile's Atacama Desert, where Arequipa

Arequipa, the White City, lies at the nexus of the Andes and the Atacama in southern Peru, and is surrounded by hot springs and the deepest desert canyon on earth, the Colca Canyon. It is situated below three enormous volcanoes, the most prominent is The most well-known Arequipa volcano is Mount Misti, which lies in between Mount Chachani and Pichu Pichu Peaks.

Rocky brown hills line the horizon of othis coastal desert, with impressively huge sand dunes and sprawling, rocky wastelands in an utterly barren land with some dunes bumping the edges of the Pan-American Highway with swirling patterns of sand hovering over the blacktop.

The extremely varied landscapes in Peru give travelers the opportunity to visit wet, dense jungle, rugged mountains and one of the driest deserts on earth. Depending on the source, Peru has either one or two deserts running the length of its coastline, situated along the western side of the South American continent. The desert supports a number of major cities, including the capital city of Lima. But it is the mountains that are most impressive.

Regarding these mountains, Mormon writes about the travel described in the scriptural record. This shows a match of the Land of Promise Mountains to the topography of the Peruvian Andes regarding “coming over,” and its meaning, which suggests isolated towns and villages separated by hills and mountains where travel is not direct, but from one land to another. In fact, the word “over” in Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, is described as “on the opposite side,” and “from one land to another.” The use of this is seen in the following verses:

“and went over upon the east of the river Sidon, into the valley of Gideon” (Alma 6:7)

“took his journey over into the land of Melek” (Alma 8:3)

“he took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla” (Alma 15:18)

“and came over to a village which was called Ani-Anti,” (Alma 21:11)

“they departed and came over into the land of Middoni” (Alma 21:12)

and went over into the borders of the land of Zarahemla” (Alma 25:2)

“and many of them came over to dwell in the land of Ishmael” (Alma 25:13)

“and came over near the borders of the land” (Alma 27:14)

“this man went over to the land of Jershon also” (Alma 30:19)

“he came over into the land of Gideon” (Alma 30:21

“and came over into the land of Jershon.” (Alma 35:1)

“also came over into the land of Jershon” (Alma 35:2)

“and they came over also into the land of Jershon” (Alma 35:6)

“sent over unto the people of Ammon desiring them that they should cast out of their land all those who came over from them into their land” (Alma 35:8)

“that came over unto them;” (Alma 35:9)

“and came over into the land of Melek” (Alma 35:13)

“did go over into the land of Siron,” (Alma 39:3)

“that they might come over into the land of Manti” (Alma 43:24)

and marched over into the land of Manti.” (Alma 43:25)

“and brought a part over into the valley” (Alma 43:31)

and came over into the land of Zarahemla” (Alma 47:29)

“and came over to the camp of Moroni” (Alma 50:31).

had come over and joined the Lamanites in this part of the land” (Alma 59:6).

Besides 19 direct uses of the word “mountain” in the Book of Mormon relating directly to the Land of Promise, there are 24 uses of the word “hill.” In addition, there are 19 uses of “up” relating to elevation, and 44 uses of the word “down,” again, relating to elevation. This suggests that the Land of Promise was a hilly and mountainous land. This is seen in the hiding places of the Gadianton Robbers who hid in the mountains.

The Gadianton Robbers brought havoc to the Nephites


As the Disciple Nephi stated: “the Gadianton robbers, who dwelt upon the mountains, who did infest the land; for so strong were their holds and their secret places that the people could not overpower them” (3 Nephi 1:27, emphasis added). And “they did commit murder and plunder; and then they would retreat back into the mountains, and into the wilderness and secret places, hiding themselves that they could not be discovered” (Helaman 11:25, emphasis added). Also, “they sent an army of strong men into the wilderness and upon the mountains to search out this band of robbers, and to destroy them (Helaman 11:28, emphasis added). Also, “they were again obliged to return out of the wilderness and out of the mountains unto their own lands” (Helaman 11:31, emphasis added). And another: “Pray unto the Lord, and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them” (3 Nephi 3:20, emphasis added).

As for “hill,” Ammon stated “we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills” (Alma 26:29, emphasis added). There were some unnamed hills such as the “hill east of Sidon,” and one “north of the Land of Shilom,” but some were large enough and prominent enough, to warrant names, such as: the hill Manti, the hill Amnihu, the hill Shim, the hill Onidah, the hill Riplah, the hill Cumorah, “the hill Ephraim,” “the hill Comnor,” and “the hill Ramah.”

Obviously, the Land of Promise was a hilly and mountainous land, with some mountains large enough to provide perfect hiding places for a large body of men like the Gadianton Robbers, and hills large enough to be used as hiding places, like in the case of Moroni hiding his armies behind the hill Riplah in order to attack the Lamanites (Alma 34-35).  

So we see that the Land of Promise was a mountainous and hilly land as is the Peruvian Andes. Obviously, the Heartland and Great Lakes theories would be disqualified since they fit none of these requirements, and Mesoamerica would be disqualified since that land does not fit the mountains “whose height is great” as mentioned by Samuel the Lamanite.

In Comparing Mesoamerica, the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, near the border with Mexico, is Guatemala's, and Central America's, highest mountain chain, which stands 12,588 feet at its highest point. In Mexico, of the top 40 mountain peaks, the highest reaches 18,406 feet, and is located in their Land Northward, as are the next two, both at 17,000 feet, and two more at 14,000 feet—all in their Land Northward. There are three peaks at 13,000 feet, 7 at 12,000 feet, and numerous peaks at 11,000 feet—all in their Land Northward but two. The tallest mountain peak in their Land Southward is 12,172 feet (17th tallest peak in Mexico), and another at 11,220 feet and a third at 11,056 feet (28th peak). In addition, there are 18 of these top 40 not even in their Land of Promise, meaning that of the top 40 peaks in Mexico, about half are not even in their Land of Promise. The highest point in the Mexican Yucatan is a mere 690 feet. The tallest mountain peaks in their Land Southward sit at 13,386 feet, 12,172 feet, 11,220 feet, and at 11,056 feet—only four peaks in all their Land Southward, where Samuel the Lamanite spoke to the Nephites, and none of which really meet the “whose height is great” criteria.


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A Look at the Andes Mountains and the Land of Promise – Part II

 Continuing from the previous post regarding the Coast of Peru and more information on the Andean country of Peru.Continuing below with the “Andes.”

Conical-shaped Mount Misti, a stratovolcano, peeks its head above the clouds


Of all the volcanoes on Earth, stratovolcanoes are the most dangerous because they can erupt with little warning, releasing enormous amounts of material, blasting out material from the side, creating pyroclastic flows that hurtle down the volcano's flanks at enormous speeds (such as with Mount St. Helens, and anciently, with Krakatoa in Indonesia and Mt. Vesuvius in Italy). In Peru, Mount Misti in the central volcanic zone is a stratovolcano at 19,101 feet. A long history of eruptions from Misti and its neighbor volcanoes has caused the local soil to be extremely fertile, making the surrounding area one of the most agriculturally productive in Peru.

In the Rainforest, the temperate climate has a rainy season from November to April, with January through March being the rainiest period—during the rainy season incredible waterfalls appear and provide a delightful scene throughout the mountains.

The dry season runs from May to October, and is hot during the day and either warm or cold during the night. In fact, the Andes shelter the very largest variety of climates in the country, with a semi-arid climate in the valleys and moist in higher elevations and towards the eastern flanks. Rainfall varies from 8 to 59 inches per year. The monsoonal period starts in October and ends in April. The rainiest months are January through March where travel is often adversely affected.

The western slopes are arid to semi-arid and receive rainfall only between January and March. Below the 8,200-foot mark, the temperatures vary between 41º and 59ºF at the night and 64º to 77°F in the day. Between 8,200 and 11,500 feet, the temperatures vary from 32º to 54°F at night, and from 59º to 77 °F) during the day. At higher elevations from 11,500 to 14,750 feet, in the Puna—a grassland of the montane encompassing diverse ecosystems of the high Central Andes, above the tree line, but below the snow line. In this ecoregion of the Puna, the temperature varies from 14º to 46°F during the night versus 59°F during the day. The northernmost regions of the Andes to the West around Cajamarca and Puira, have Páramo climates.

One of many mountain passes in Peru 


There are more than 30 mountain passes in Peru, more than in any other country, and irrefutably they are the most gorgeous but challenging Mountain Passes one can find. There are the Warmiwañuska Passes, Abra Malaga Pass, Cuyoc Pass, San Antonio Pass, Santa Elena Pass, Salkantay Pass, Chiriasqha Pass, Dead Woman” Pass, Huayhuasy Passes, Chiricahua Pass, Qaqanan pass, Carhuac Pass, Carnicero Pass, Portachuelo Pass, Tapush Pass, Yaucha Pass, Llamac Pass, and the 10 passes around Jahuacocha, just to name a few.

Overall, Chile has the highest elevation topography in the western hemisphere, with an average elevation of 6,140 feet above sea level. The Andes Mountains comprise much of the land in the east, with peaks averaging at heights of 15,000 feet above sea level. In addition, Ecuador is the 9th highest country in the world

The view of the Rainforest of Tarapoto, including one of the Ahuashiyacu waterfalls


• The Rain Forest. Tropical rainforest and Savannah with monsoon rains, the Peruvian Amazonia around Tarapoto and Iquitos has rainy periods throughout the entire year. Tarapoto, a city of the cloud forest, is approximately 1,168 feet above sea level with Iquitos, known as the "capital of the Peruvian Amazon" at only 341’ elevation, both are located on the high jungle plateau, also called the cloud forest. Tarapoto is characterized by a forest of trees and abundant palm trees. It's known for the many forest waterfalls in its surrounding areas, including Ahuashiyacu, Huacamaíllo and Shapaja. Southeast of the city, the clear waters of Lindo Lake and the larger Sauce Lagoon (also called Blue Lagoon) are ringed by dense green forests teeming with birdlife.

The Desert. Peru is home to two deserts. The Sechura Desert in the north, and a nameless desert in the south, the latter covering 1,500 miles before running into the Atacama Desert in Chile. The entire desert coastline covers nearly 72,973 square miles of land, and reaches inland between 12 to 62 miles, touching the base of the west side of the Andes mountains. The widest parts of the desert lie in the southern half of the country, beginning below the city of Chincha Alta.

The Sechura on the north coast has a landscape of flailing-armed cacti, spiny succulents like giant artichokes and sand dunes like mountains. Peru’s coast is home to one of the most barren, most imposing deserts on earth. No place in Greece or Turkey compares in dryness, and even other bona fide deserts, like the cacti wonderland of Baja California or the shrubby sprawl of the Kalahari, can match this Sechura Desert in sheer lifelessness.

To native Peruvians, the wild, vegetated and relatively wet Sechura is located in the northwestern part of Peru, between the northern border and Peru's equatorial forests, the Tumbes.

The Sechura Desert is a coastal desert located south of the Piura Region of Peru along the Pacific Ocean coast and inland to the foothills of the Andes Mountains


The Sechura Desert is an anomaly of a place. Other great deserts of the world, such as the Atacama of Chile, the Kalahari of southern Africa, the giant Sahara of northern Africa, the Mexican-American Sonoran Desert and the great desert of Australia. For all their distinguishing points, these regions all have one prominent feature in common—their latitude. Each one is situated between about 20 and 30 degrees south or north of the Equator. This is no coincidence, of course—it is where deserts happen. It’s a function of wind patterns and sun, high pressure and a persistent absence of cloud formation.

However, the Sechura Desert lies between about 5 and 15 degrees latitude south. Why? The Andes. They tower just a few miles to the east, 15,000 to 20,000 feet high all the way from Ecuador to central Chile, creating in certain places what geographers call a rain shadow. That is, air coming from the east via the trade winds. generously waters the Amazon basin, as well as the east-facing slope of the Andes. Here, the air rises and cools. Condensation occurs, and clouds drench the mountains. But as that air begins to descend on the west face, cloud formation halts as the air warms. Rainfall ceases. And at sea level, there is a desert, waiting for the water that rarely arrives. The Sechura receives just ten centimeters of precipitation each year—less than four inches (compared to Salt Lake City, which gets 20 inches per year plus 54 inches of snow).

To the south is a long swath of desert that stretches from the coast to the mountains. However, some consider the entire coastline a single desert, splitting the coastline into two deserts: the Sechura from the northern border to the inland city of Nazca, approximately 200 miles south of Lima, and from there, to the Atacama Desert, which connects with the northern border of Chile.

(See the next post for the comparison with the Land of Promise.)

Monday, September 28, 2020

A Look at the Andes Mountains and the Land of Promise – Part I

Peru, showing the northeastern region

To understand Peru and its ancient development, it helps to understand the geography of the area, since frequently in Mormon’s descriptions he discusses the type of moving from one city to another with some distances between them. As an example:

When Korihor came into the land of Zarahemla, after preaching he left the city and “went over to the Land of Jershon” (Alma 30:19, emphasis added). Compare that with “And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem” (Luke 13:22, emphasis added); another and more modern interpretation of this statement is “he went through one city and village after another, teaching” (Darby BibleTranslation). Obviously, this suggests close together cities and towns.

On the other hand, another example of going over to another city or from town to distant town, is shown when Alma left the city of “Melek [and] departed thence, and traveled three days' journey on the north of the land of Melek” (Alma 8:6, emphasis added). Compare that to places that are next to one another, side-by-side, as is seen in: “we have traveled from house to house” (Alma 26:28).

Still, another example of distances between towns and cities is: “we took our course, after having traveled much in the wilderness towards the land of Zarahemla” (Alma 58:23). “He took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla” (Alma 15:18). He departed out of their synagogue, and came over to a village which was called Ani-Anti” (Alma21:11, emphasis added). Or, “they departed and came over into the land of Middoni (Alma 21:12, emphasis added). And another: “many of them came over to dwell in the land of Ishmael (Alma 25:13). Still another is: “and departed out of the land, and came into the wilderness which divided the land of Nephi from the land. Zarahemla, and came over near the borders of the land” (Alma 27:14 emphasis added).

Isolated towns and villages in separate valleys requiring a non-direct walk going “over to” from one village to the next

Part of the reason for this type of travel is that of the entire 857,000 square miles of the country, only 3% of Peru's land is arable, with 0.5% being suitable for permanent crops. Permanent pastureland accounts for 21% of Peru's land use, and forests and woodland accounting for 66% of the landscape. Approximately 9.5% of Peruvian land is attributed to population centers, coastal regions, and other spaces. This, of course, causes movement according to topography, such as mountain passes and occupied valleys, with river courses cut through the mountains and hills creating canyons and gorges.

Northern Peru generally has the same seasons as southern Peru, where one encounters different seasons and weather patterns whether being on the coast, in the Andes, or within the Amazon. Generally speaking, the combination of tropical latitude, mountain ranges, topography variations and two ocean currents (Humboldt and El Niño) gives Peru a large diversity of climates. The country has a tropical climate with a wet and dry season.

The eastern portions of Peru include the Amazon Basin, or selva baja, a region that is larger in the north than in the south, and represents roughly 60% of Peru's national territory, which territory includes the Amazon, Marañón, Huallaga and Ucayali rivers. Peru is the fourth largest area of tropical forest in the world only after Brazil, the Congo and Indonesia.

Within Peru, the desert is described as the strip along the northern Pacific coast in the southern Piura and western Lambayeque regions, and extending from the coast from 12 to 62 miles inland to the secondary ridges of the Andes Mountains.

The country can be divided into three main climatic and topographical regions: The Coast, the Andes, and the Rainforest or Jungle.

The Peruvian coast. Note the cliffs all along the shore line that would have prevented Lehi from landing

• The Coast. Stretching along the coast, from the Tumbes in the north bordering Ecuador, to Tacna in the south bordering Chile, a length of 1,555 miles is an arid, dry climate. The width of this narrow area varies from 12 to 62 miles and always has great weather. During Peruvian summer time (December, January) it can be really hot, but otherwise, the weather is mild, warm and sunny.

The northern coast has a curious tropical-dry climate, generally referred to as a tropical savanna, or grassy plain with few trees. This region is a lot warmer and can be unbearable during summer months, where rainfall is also present. The region differs from the southern coast by the presence of shrubs, equatorial dry forests (Thumbes-Piura dry forests) mangrove forests, tropical valleys near rivers such as the Chira and the Thumbes.

The central and southern coast consists mainly of a subtropical desert climate composed of sandy or rocky shores and inland cutting valleys. Days alternate between overcast skies with occasional fog in the winter and sunny skies with occasional haze in the summer.

Sechura Desert occupies 72,900 square miles from the shoreline to the secondary ridges of the western Andes. In the north lies the Northwestern Biosphere Reserve, which includes four natural protected areas of red mangrove and Equatorial Dry Forests. To the south are a series of arable valleys that have provided food in this area long before Columbian times.

The wild, vegetated and relatively wet Sechura desert is located along the coast just south of Piura in the northwestern part of Peru, between the northern border and Peru's equatorial forests, the Tumbes. The landscape is of flailing-armed cacti, spiny succulents like giant artichokes and sand dunes like mountains. Peru’s coast is home to one of the most barren, most imposing deserts known.  Miles and miles of sprawling sand hills, some of the dunes hundreds of feet high, and running all the way from the eastern horizon to the ocean, and not a blade of living grass to be seen—just barren scorched rock and dunes, though there are occasional green and irrigated valleys of mango and avocado orchards in the distance.

At 20,870-feet, Mount Huandoy is the second tallest peak of the Cordillera Blanca

• The Andes. Peru is well known for its mountains, rainforest, and climate. In some areas, especially in Amazonia amazing waterfalls. However, it’s the mountains that draw one’s attention. The country has 24 separate mountain ranges,with 12 mountains above 20,000 feet, and 30 over 19,000 feet, with most being famous for more than just their height. Among Peru's tallest mountains are the sacred peaks and dormant stratovolcanoes—tall, conical volcanoes composed of one layer of hardened lava, tephra, and volcanic ash, and characterized by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions, spreading highly viscous lava that cools and hardens before spreading very far.

In the northern volcanic zone, which extends into Ecuador where there are 55 volcanoes and into northern Peru. Overall, there are 31 volcanoes in Peru; however, in the Rainforest in the northeastern part of the country, there are no volcanoes within a range referred to as the Peruvian Gap. The lack of volcanism in this area is widely attributed to a side effect of the flat-slab (low angle) subduction of the Nazca Plate occurring there.

(See the next post, “A Look at the Andes Mountains and the Land of Promise – Part II,” for a look at the Coast of Peru and more information on the Andean country of Peru)

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Problem with Academics

Part of the problem stems from those involved in the sciences, such as anthropology, archaeology, and geology, where certain dogmas are learned and accepted by many, if not most, students in their growing years in college. Then some become professors and are forced to think along those lines since that is what all their schooling, training, degrees, and income are based upon.

Naturally, when they write books or articles, they do so to those like themselves, that is, people who are also schooled in the academic approach to whatever field they are writing about, such as Anthropologists writing about the study of humans and human behavior and societies in the past and present—filling their articles with anthropological terms, and not common knowledge terms, such as “pre-ceramic period,” “classic period,” “post-classic,” “Mesolithic,” “Neolithic,” “Archaic,” “early intermediate,” “middle horizon,” “late intermediate,” “protohistory,” “postmodern,” and the like.

It seems they have been doing this for so long, that they have lost sight of other, more simple, yet more meaningful parts of the history of whoever they are writing about, whether found in Europe, Asia, Middle East, or the Americas.

Somewhere along the way, they eliminate their reliance upon and their discussion of, those areas of human behavior and history regarding religion, or actual history, such as “evolution” opposed to “creationism,” or “Classical Antiquity,” as opposed to saying “the Greco-Roman world.”

If you read John L. Sorenson’s works, especially his first, it is not difficult to see that his writing was to other anthropologists/archaeologists, and not to the membership of the church, or those inquiring about it or interested in it. It was, as most of these works are, an academic work and not truly an informative one. The scriptural record becomes the “text,” with no mention of scripture involved.

Thus, they use dates, time frames, and historical data, etc., from historical works, rather than those of the scriptural record, either Bible or Book of Mormon—such as the Mayan calendar, and the Popol Vu, a text recounting the mythology and history of the Kʼicheʼ people, one of the Maya peoples, who inhabit the Guatemalan Highlands, Mexican Chiapas, Campeche and Quintana Roo states, and areas of Belize.

It seems that their denial is more to hiding or subordinating personal opinions of religion or religious-directed views to those of their field of science. Thus we have a 4.55 billion-year-old Earth, Carbon-14 dating, and academic terminology for all things that, in the end, almost eliminates all consideration of what the Lord has said, done, and taught on any subject, and what the ancient prophets wrote and available to us today. whatsoever. This, in turn, blends history written by men with history written by prophets on an equal level, if not tilted toward the former.

BYU, of course, teaches these man-made philosophies because it is required in the academic world in order to substantiate their academic accreditation so the degree students receive has meaning. This is achieved for the post-secondary educational institutions or programs that are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met, meet the requirements. If standards are met, accredited status is granted by the agency, and the attendee or the graduation of any accredited college course, is standard and one’s degree from BYU is the same on that subject as a degree from any other accredited university.

BYU’s seven-story, 120,000 square feet N. Eldon Tanner Building


After all, no single University can either stray from those standards, or can set their own standards, and be accredited. That is why certain degrees from certain schools carry more weight in the market place than from others that, in some cases, are not accredited. BYU is a Church school, but its purpose, like the vast majority of post-secondary education institutions, is to provide acceptable education to a student that would allow the student to compete fairly in the open market for the use of their talents, abilities, skills, and education levels.

In general, specialized accreditation attests to the quality of an educational program that prepares for entry into a recognized profession, and on that basis, the problem lies in the accreditation process and agency, not with the University, or in the case of BYU with the Church. Thus, BYU and the University of Utah are examples of schools that have accreditation by the United States Department of Education, though one is a church and the other is a state school.

At the same time, Accreditation in higher education is a collegial process based on self and peer assessment. Its purpose is the improvement of academic quality and public accountability. This continuing quality control process occurs usually every five to ten years, and is based on independent verification that a program or institution meets established quality standards and is competent to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks. Conformity assessment tasks may include, but are not limited to, testing, inspection, or certification. In the case of archaeology, it includes field work, such as digs and evaluation of artifacts uncovered.

Because of the importance of accreditation, an accredited degree is recognized for meeting specific educational standards, which have been set by an accrediting agency. Choosing an accredited degree ensures its acceptance by other recognized institutions and organizations and potential employers. Thus, for BYU to be accredited, it must provide classes and courses that meet the standard, which includes teaching evolution and other subjects normal for that subject though contrary to the Church teaching.

This includes BYU, like other universities, teaching Ecological Evolution in Geology and understanding that modern Earth is a product of the coevolution of the biosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere over 4.6 billion years of earth history. Also, that knowledge of depositional, tectonic, and climatic events in the context of the geological timescale is required.

As one scientist teaching this information has said, “I have specialized in the study of Earth’s architecture (structural geology) and in understanding the ages of rocks and minerals (geochronology). Much of what I have learned from my studies and believe to be true is seemingly incompatible with the scriptures.”

This means that under this teaching the Earth is 4.6 billion years old, and that all geological factors are evaluated within that time frame including earth formations, fossil record, flora, fauna, and man. While this is contrary to biblical and Book of Mormon teaching, it is required for accreditation, which makes a degree from BYU of value.

Academicians are often faced with teaching information that is not compatible with their personal views. In addition, to cloud the issues being taught, a special language has been developed and used by all geologists, archaeologists and anthropologists that is not readily apparent to the reader, and often skipped over, relying on overall meaning rather than specific facts.

On the other side of the coin, in 1954, when Joseph Fielding Smith was President of the Quorum of the Twelve, he wrote at length about his personal views on evolution in his book Man, His Origin and Destiny stating that it was a destructive and contaminating influence and that "If the Bible does not kill Evolution, Evolution will kill the Bible.” He further stated that "There is not and cannot be, any compromise between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the theories of evolution”and that "It is not possible for a logical mind to hold both Bible teaching and evolutionary teaching at the same time” since "If you accept [the scriptures] you cannot accept organic evolution.” In response to inquiries, President David O. McKay affirmed that "the Church has officially taken no position" on evolution, Smith's book "is not approved by the Church", and that the book is entirely Smith's "views for which he alone is responsible.” Smith also produced personal statements on evolution in his Doctrines of Salvation including that "If evolution is true, the church is false" since "If life began on Earth as advocated by Darwin...then the doctrines of the church are false.” He added on his views of evolution, "No Adam, no fall; no fall, no atonement; no atonement, no savior."

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Let’s Keep the Facts and Discard Opinions –Part II

Continued from the previous post in answering the many questions or comment submitted by a reader of this blog.

• Where also Adam's alter is located.

Adam’s altar was located in an area Joseph described as: “I went up the river about half a mile to Wight's Ferry, accompanied by President Rigdon, and my clerk, George W. Robinson, for the purpose of selecting and laying claim to a city plat near said ferry in Daviess County, township 60, ranges 27 and 28, and sections 25, 36, 31, and 30, which the brethren called "Spring Hill," but by the mouth of the Lord it was named Adam-ondi-Ahman, because, said He, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the Prophet” (History of the Church 3:34-35).

Left: Heber C. Kimball, one of the original twelve apostles, and first counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency; Right: Abraham O. Smoot, Second Mayor of Salt Lake City, opened up the Provo area for the Church where he was Mayor for 13 years


Of this area, according to Heber C. Kimball, “The Prophet Joseph called upon Brother Brigham, myself and others, saying, "Brethren, come, go along with me, and I will show you something," He led us a short distance to a place where there were ruins of three altars built of stone, one above the other, and one standing a little back of the other, like unto the pulpits in the Kirtland Temple, representing the order of three grades of Priesthood; "There," said Joseph, "is the place where Adam offered up sacrifice after he was cast out of the garden." The altar stood at the highest point of the bluff. I went and examined the place several times while I remained there” (Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp. 209-210).

Also, according to Abraham O. Smoot: “Joseph Smith was not present when "Adam's Altar" was discovered: President Smoot said that he and Alanson Ripley, while surveying at the town [i.e., Adam-ondi-Ahman], which was about 22 miles from Jackson County, Missouri, came across a stone wall in the midst of a dense forest of underbrush. The wall was 30 feet long, 3 feet thick, and 4 feet high. It was laid in mortar or cement. When Joseph visited the place and examined the wall he said it was the remains of an altar built by Father Adam and upon which he offered sacrifices after he was driven from the Garden of Eden” (BYU Studies, Vol.13,no.4,p565). All of this, including your comment on Adam’s altar, has nothing to do with the Book of Mormon or the location of the Nephites.

• Missouri, where Joseph Smith testified, by commandment from God, that the western tribes of Indians were the descendants of the Book of Mormon,

As we have pointed out for years, Lehi’s descendants, the Lamanites, during Joseph Smith’s time, were scattered all over the Western Hemisphere, in South, Central/Mesoamerica, and North America, even in southern Canada. However it is incorrect that Joseph Smith testified by commandment about this in his letter on January 4, 1833, and addressed to N.E. Seaton (Noah C. Saxton), who was at the time the editor of the “American Revivalist and Rochester Observer. He testified about “what he considered to be the will of God for the world, including repentance and baptism.”

In fact, as has been written of this letter: “Having been appointed by the Lord to initiate the work of establishing a new dispensation of the gospel and direct the proclamation of its saving message, Joseph Smith stepped forth in his prophetic calling to explain the nature of that work and to forewarn the people and the nation of impending judgments. In so doing, he marked out the way by which true peace could be established among men and by which the judgments he foresaw could be averted.” (We wrote this and much more in great detail which can be found on this blog (Thursday, May 31, 2018, “Answering a Heartland Theorist’s Erroneous Claims-Part II”).

 Joseph Smith preaching to the Sauk (Asakiwaki) and Fox (Meskwaki) Indian tribes who met in Nauvoo with Joseph 


• whom Joseph personally visited, on numerous occasions to testify to the: Fox, Sac, Ojibwa, Iroquois, that the Book of Mormon is a record of their ancestors

He did all that, which has nothing to do with the location of the Land of Promise, only that Lehi’s descendants were scattered throughout the Americas by Joseph Smith’s time.

• and where the Lord personally commanded Joseph to send missionaries unto the Lamanites:

Joseph Smith was also commanded to send missionaries to the world, which he immediately sent missionaries abroad to Canada and England—which was only part of the world initially. It is erroneously suggested by comparison that there was no other part of the world that fit the commandment, rather than understanding that Joseph began that fulfillment by sending missionaries to those areas where he had immediate access. The Indians in and around the Church was the ideal place to start, Canada could easily be reached, and England had regularly scheduled ships sailing between countries across the Atlantic.

• Western New York and Ohio Valley region, as recorded in the Doctrine & Covenants.

According to numerous presidents of the Church and Quorum of the Twelve, the Lamanites were scattered throughout the Americas, and the work that went forward included all of them, some sooner than others because of easier access and safer conditions (South America was in a turmoil of wars for independent throughout Joseph Smith’s life). Joseph Smith stated about this: "The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them" (Signed, Joseph Smith Jr. 1833 to The Rochester Observer to be printed in full by way of commandment from God). In 1833, Ohio was the furthest western state in the United States in: 1833.

• So, I don't believe in any theories

We do not have a theory. We follow the scriptural record and what it describes and tells us. Joseph himself stated it was the most correct book ever written. Mormon, and other writers, wrote under inspiration of God, and outlined the Land of Promise better than any other person could know. Our statements all follow the scriptural record and we cite the scripture and the references involved. We do not state opinions in our work as others continually do.

• I believe in what the Lord and his prophets have testified of.

George Q. Cannon, an early member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the First Presidency under four successive presidents: Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow


The Lord has testified over and over again as to the truthfulness of what is in the Book of Mormon. It should be used for a basis of facts rather than the opinions of man.

Joseph Smith has not testified of the location of the Book of Mormon. What he has said in passing about a location, since it has not been said for the Church, nor authorized or ratified by the Church, should be considered his opinions as he himself has stated. In fact, even Joseph claimed his comments were merely his opinions, and said, “A prophet is not a prophet unless acting as such” (History of the Church, vol.5,p265).

Others have said, “Now, was not Joseph Smith a mortal man? Yes. A fallible man? Yes. Had he not weaknesses? Yes, he acknowledged them himself, and did not fail to put the revelations on record in this book” (George Q. Cannon, Journal Entry, August 12, 1883). “His weaknesses were not concealed from the people. He was willing that people should know that he was mortal, and had failings. And so with Brigham Young. (He) had weaknesses. He was not a God. He was not an immortal being. He was not infallible. No, he was fallible. And yet when he spoke by the power of God, it was the word of God to this people” (Journal of Discourses vol.24, p274).

“The First Presidency cannot claim, individually or collectively, infallibility. The infallibility is not given to men. They are fallible” (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon.vol.1, Deseret Book Co., 1883, p206).


Friday, September 25, 2020

Let’s Keep the Facts and Discard Opinions –Part I

 Not long ago we received a series of  comments from a reader of this blog. His comments were too extensive to place in our Q&A section so we are answering them in this complete article.

• It is useless in putting much time and effort into trying to figure out where Hagoth's boat went,

This was not a boat, but “an exceedingly large ship” (Alma 63:5). And where it went is critically important or Mormon would not have mentioned it in his abridgement.

• Or figure out where the narrow neck of land is located.

This was a critical feature that Mormon describes in enough detail for us to know its importance. No claim to a Land of Promise can be made without pointing out its geographical shape (then and now) as part of that landscape. This narrow neck and the narrow passage was essential in the strategy of several events in the scriptural record, including Teancum heading off Morianton, in the borders of the Land Desolation near the Narrow Neck of Land (Alma 50:27)

Top: Drawing of two rivers meeting, called a confluence—note that the joining river does not begin at the confluence, as Heartland theorists claim; Bottom: The confluence of the Ohio River with the Mississippi. Note that both rivers started far beyond and upriver from  this confluence


• Or know where the river Sidon is located and in which direction it flowed.

Mormon makes this quite clear as we have stated many times.  As an example we know that its source was in the narrow strip of wilderness north of the Land of Nephi and south of the Land of Zarahemla (Alma 22:27), and that it flowed northward past the Land of Zarahemla, making it a north-flowing river. In addition, for the idea that most Heartland theorists have about the Mississippi River being the Sidon River, and that its head or source was at the confluence with the Ohio River

(Alma 50:27).

• Nor do we have any specific geographic features within the Land of Promise.

We know that Lehi landed along the west coast of the Land of Promise, which by definition was “and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28). We know there was a narrow neck between the Land Southward and the Land Northward, and the only land connected to keep the Land Southward from being completely surrounded by water” (Alma 22:32); that there was a narrow pass or passage that led evidently through this narrow neck as it went from the Land Southward into the Land Northward (Alma 52:9; Mormon 2:29), and ran by the sea on the east and on the west (Alma 50:34). The point is, any choice of a Land of Promise, in any land setting, such as the heartland and Great Lakes areas, must have these features!

• Nor do we know where most things are.

Because we don’t know where they are, that does not mean they did not and do not exist. Once again, while we may not know where they are, these geographical features Mormon describes certainly disqualify any claim that does not have them specifically included and in keeping with Mormon’s descriptions of these areas.

We do know that Joseph Smith would have known where Lehi landed from the comments and instruction given him by Moroni.

Joseph being instructed by the Angel Moroni


Joseph indicated what Moroni taught him. He said: "I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country and shown who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people, was made known unto me." Signed, Joseph Smith Jr., (Wentworth Letter 1842 p4). Note that there is no mention of where Lehi landed, or anything about the physical location of the Land of Promise, though he listed several things Moroni taught him.

• We only know for sure, by revelation from God, where the Hill Cumorah is—New York:

The unnamed hill in western New York, later called the hill Cumorah by members from the information in the Book of Mormon, along with several other names (Mormon Hill, Gold Bible Hill, Inspiration Point) given to it by others. Keep in mind, that the Church has never endorsed any geographical site other than the Western Hemisphere, and has made it abundantly clear that it does not endorse any particular view of Book of Mormon geography. It should also keep in mind that in his account in the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith refers to the hill where the plates were buried, but never calls it by any name. In the Doctrine and Covenants the name “Cumorah” only appears one time, in an 1842 epistle written by Joseph Smith: 'And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from “Cumorah”  (D&C 128:20). No other uses of “Cumorah” has been found in any other of Joseph Smith's personal writings.

• And Zelph's mound which is in Illinois.

Zelph was a white Lamanite and warrior. The burial hill known today as Zelph’s Mound, only shows that some of Lehi’s descendants made their way northward in Hagoth’s ships, into Central and Mesoamerica, and eventually to North America, as we have pointed out numerous times in this blog.

• Where the plains of the Nephites are: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois,

Joseph Smith, in a personal letter to his wife Emma, while on the Zion’s Camp journey, reminisced about being upon the plains of the Nephites. This was not a testimony, nor a Screen%20Shot%202020-09-24%20at%209.27.13%20AM.pngdeclaration on his part to the Church or to anyone but his wife. The term plains of the Nephites is not a term from the Book of Mormon, but one Joseph Smith used to describe to his wife the territory over which they were traveling, the comparatively flat plains of the Midwest.

Early missionaries were sent only to New York, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri with some crossing into Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Joseph Smith never sent a single missionary to Mexico, Central or South America and no prophet sent any LDS missionaries to Mexico, Central or South America for 45 years.”

Parley P. Pratt in 1853, one year after returning from his mission to Chile, South America 


Early apostle Parley P. Pratt, who served missions in the United States and Great Britain, was among the first Mormon missionaries to preach in Chile, landing in Valparaiso in November, 1851, 21 years after the formation of the Church when there was still great violence in the western countries of that land. No missionaries had earlier been sent because of the wars of Independence being fought in South America.

In addition, during this foment, Pratt contemplated his mission to Chile, for one fact overrode caution: the Lehi voyage—that transoceanic journey recounted in the Book of Mormon, had landed, he believed, in Chile, and he wanted to take the gospel back to Lehi's descendants. Unfortunately, Pratt was unable to make an impression on the Chileans for the country’s traditional religion was fully protected by the government. In fact, since 1833 the Catholic Church had been in full partnership with the state, and the Chilean conservatives liked it that way—they had no intention of letting another religion into their country. Consequently, the Church withdrew their missionaries from the area, which was not reopened until l923. However, they were one of the early areas missionaries had been sent other than Great Britain.

(See the next post, “Let’s Keep the Facts and Discard Opinions –Part II,” for more on the factual basis and not the opinions suggested by theorists).