Thursday, July 15, 2021

Responding to Another Heartland Theorist – Part III

 Answering more of the critics’ comments:

• Comment: “The letter [from Joseph Smith to his wife, Emma], was cited several times in Saints, Vol 1, but the part about walking over the plains of the Nephites and the account of Zelph was censored in Saints Vol I. Why was it censored? Because it destroys the Mesoamerican Model and BYU scholars will not allow that narrative because their careers are highly invested in that bogus model.”

Response: Let’s not get carried away. The book Saints was created by the Church, not BYU, and as such, only contained standard gospel and historical information and events. Since the “Plains of the Nephites,” and “Zelph” were never stated by Joseph Smith to be a revelation for the Church, and no vote was ever taken to make it such, and neither are in any way expressed or alluded to in the Book of Mormon, they have no place in an official historical document or book regarding Church history. It is a simple fact that they are not contained in Saints because they do not belong on the same level as accurate information about the early days of the Church.

• Comment: “For a church that strongly promotes the Book of Mormon as scripture, why would anyone want to censor Joseph's; statement, "...wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity..."

Response: “There is no corresponding information supporting this eloquent description Joseph wrote to Emma. It, nor its type, is not found in the Book of Mormon, nor is it found in the Wentworth Letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune, nor in any of the official histories Joseph wrote or had a scribe write regarding the early years of the Church. 

Joseph sitting along the banks of the Mississippi waiting for a new boat in which to cross the river


In his letter to Emma, Joseph showed that his thoughts were upon her with “and in short were it not at every now and then our thoughts linger with inexpressible anxiety for our wives and our children (emphasis added), and he waxed strong in flowery terms as any man deeply in love might when talking privately to his wife—especially when both are young and recently married. Joseph, himself, never repeated this information, nor himself include any of it in his jurnals or histories. It was not meant for the Church—only for Emma.

• Comment: “The account of Zelph doesn't prove where Lehi landed, but it illustrates where some of the events of the Book of Mormon happened.”

Response: There is not a single iota of information in the Book of Mormon to substantiate any part of the events having taken place in the Land of Promise. Not only is it impossible to justify the overall map of the Heartland location, but almost none of Mormon’s 45 separate and specific descriptions that can be supported by the theory. Where are the two unknown animals that were beneficial to man; where are the two grains as important as wheat? What about Desolation being north of Bountiful, which as north of Zarahemla, which was north of a narrow strip of wilderness—which the Heartland Theorists claim is the Ohio River; however, a river is not a wilderness, even a “wild river.” In the U.S., wilderness is an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region. In 1828, it was described as a desert; a tract of land or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings, whether a forest or a wide barren plain. In the United States, it is applied only to a forest. In Scripture, it is applied frequently to the deserts of Arabia. Rangeland wildernesses in the United States are diverse lands, from wet grasslands of Florida to the desert shrub ecosystems of Wyoming. They include the high mountain meadows of Utah to the desert floor of California. Today, there are 765 wilderness areas covering more than 109 million acres that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, which is managed by the Forest Service.

A river winding through a wilderness area is not, in and of itself a wilderness or called a wilderness, which Heartland theorists claim Ohio River in their model is the Narrow Strip of Wilderness


In addition, rivers, which are not called nor part of the wilderness lands though often run through wilderness areas, are protected and kept "relatively untouched by development and are therefore in near natural condition, with all, or almost all, of their natural values intact. A wild river is one that has nothing to infringe on the free flow of water, such as dams or locks.

Within the United States, Canadas, New Zealand, and Australia, governments have opted to focus on rivers and river systems as a kind of “unmodified or slightly modified” landscape feature to protect, manage and preserve in near “natural” condition variously labeling or formally declaring such areas to be “wild rivers” or “heritage rivers”).

In the U.S. the policy is that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations

• Comment: “Most sensible people agree that the distances of travel in the Book of Mormon could not include such a wide expanse of Geography from South America to North America.”

Response: Doubtful that any knowledge person would disagree with this; however, the problem is not in travel from some far distant land to the hill in New York where Joseph obtained the plates. Take that requirement away—that the New York hill is the Hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon—and there is no problem with such travel. After all, in the Book of Mormon, between the Land of Promise and Palestine and Utah, there are several duplicate areas, such as 2 Bountifuls, 2 Jerusalems, 2 Mantis, 2 Nephis, 2 Zarahemlas, 2 Ramahs, and duplicates of Lamoni, Moroni, Ammon, etc. So why are there not two hill Cumorahs?

As to what sensible people believe, it would seem unlikely that they would believe that Lehi traveled 2541 miles from Jerusalem to Salalah in Oman on the first leg of their journey to the Land of Promise.

• Comment: “We also know from Church history that the city of Manti was in Missouri per the Joseph Smith Papers at” (included a lengthy email address).

Response: This information about Manti being in Missouri was written by Willard Richards and Thomas Bullock, not Joseph Smith. Had it been the prophet, it is highly unlikely that this confirming information would have been so restricted and not been available in other sources.

• Comment: “This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are mountains of evidence to show that the events of the Book of Mormon happened in ancient America.”

90% of an iceberg is beneath the water line


Response: Response: There is also a mountain of evidence that the Heartland is not the location of the Land of Promise. As an example, where are the mountains whose height is great that Samuel the Lamanite stated; or what about the elevation, that though Mormon constantly describes going up to the city of Nephi from the city of Zarahemla, or down to Zarahemla from Nephi, in the Heartland locations, the elevation of Nephi is 676 feet and Zarahemla at 670 feet—hardly a match to going up and down!

What about an earthquake? In the last year, there have been 19 earthquakes in their Nephi area, of which the strongest was 2.5 on the Richter Scale. In their Zarahemla there has not been an earthquake in 34 years. Zarahemla area is one of the few states that rarely has a quake—the strongest has been a 3.5 on the Richter Scale, with only 13 quakes since European settlement.

Then there is no island involved in the Heartland as Jacob described; growing all the seeds from Jerusalem in a different climate; ore of every kind, especially gold, silver and copper—the Heartland had Copper, but little gold and silver. Where are the roads and highways from city to city and place to place; or the stone walls around the entire land; or Jaredite buildings of every kind; or other than working copper, there was no metallurgy; evidence of fine-twined linen and silk; evidence of circumcision under the Law of Moses, which the Nephites lived until the crucifixion. Nor did Christopher Columbus land in North America, or even see the continent or know it existed.

The point is, there are so many factors and descriptions in the Book of Mormon about the Land of Promise that simply do not exist in the Heartland model. Hard to justify “There are mountains of evidence to show that the events of the Book of Mormon happened in ancient America.”

Actually, just the opposite is true!

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