Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Church History Museum updates display

A while back, I reported on a misleading display in the Church History Museum about the "Indian Mission."


Today I revisited the museum and I'm happy to say they have corrected the exhibit.

The old sign told visitors that "Early Church members believed that these Indians were descendants of Israelites who were known as Lamanites in the Book of Mormon."

The new sign deletes the rhetoric about what "early Church members" believed and instead declares this:

In the autumn of 1830 in New York, Joseph Smith received three revelations in which the Lord called Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Parley P. Pratt, and Ziba Peterson to preach to the Lamanites, one of three groups of people described in the Book of Mormon. Lamanites are among the ancestors of the American Indians.

Consequently, in late 1830, Oliver Cowdery and his companions preached to Seneca Indians in New York and Huron Indians in Ohio. Both nations expressed some interest in the Book of Mormon, which the missionaries shared with them as a record of their forefathers.

Oliver, Parley, and a new convert, Frederick G. Williams, journeyed into Indian Territory (present-day Kansas and Oklahoma), where the Lenape (Delaware) and Shawnee Nations showed great interest in the Book of Mormon.

The description is accompanied by an image of Lenape chief William Anderson.

I'm very happy to see this change!

Old Exhibit showing "Indian Mission"
with Oliver Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt
New Exhibit showing "Indian Mission" with Chief Anderson

Side panel of new exhibit. Notice how the images of
Chief Anderson and Cowdery/Pratt have been swapped.

Old display that claimed "early Church members"
believed the Indians were Lamanites
New display that claims these Indians are Lamanites.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

What may startle some...Noel Reynolds teaches the prophets are wrong

Mesomania originated with a mistake in LDS Church history and then progressed through a series of logical fallacies driven by confirmation bias.

Mesomania continues to infect Church members today because a few intellectuals in the Church try to keep the M2C viable (M2C is the acronym for Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory).

 Let's look back on one of the M2C classics: Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited. You can read it here:

The editor, Noel Reynolds, is one of the M2C promoters who doesn't want people to even know what the prophets have taught about the Hill Cumorah in New York. He's on the Executive Board of "The Interpreter Foundation."

This is the outfit that publishes the Interpreter, the aptly named "journal" that purports to tell Mormons how to interpret the scriptures and all things Mormon.

Except they have a rigid editorial policy that prohibits publications of any articles or comments that contradict the Interpreter's interpretation.

Paperback edition
The Interpreter is the premiere example of scholars vs. prophets, and Brother Reynolds is one of the most determined scholars who teaches that the prophets were wrong about the New York Cumorah.

Whenever you read something published by the Interpreter, keep in mind 2 Peter 1:20:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

Here is Brother Reynolds' introduction to his book (my comments in red):


The extensive parallels between these different writings indicate strongly that the Book of Mormon fits nicely into the cultural context of ancient Mesoamerican books. Because Joseph Smith knew nothing about ancient Mesoamerican books, it is hard to see how he could have come up with such a match.

The "match" consists of redefining the terms in the text to fit Mesoamerica to confirm the biases of these scholars. Now, "head of Sidon" means "headwaters of Sidon." A "tower" is a "massive stone pyramid." Building with "wood and cement" is building with "stone and cement," etc.What these scholars have really done is find a few Mayan traits common to most human societies and retroactively imposed them upon the text.  

Like his associates in the early Church, Joseph assumed that the Book of Mormon peoples had probably covered the entire Western Hemisphere and that all Indians were Lamanite descendants. 

This claim cleverly conflates the Nephites and Jaredites. With respect to the Nephites, Brother Reynolds' assertion flat out contradicts what Joseph actually taught. E.g., in the Wentworth letter, Joseph deleted the hemispheric model described by Orson Pratt and replaced it with the declaration that the remnant of Lehi are "the Indians who live in this country." With respect to the Jaredites, Joseph was not as specific, but the text itself suggests they came from Asia and spread throughout the hemisphere--which is what modern DNA science is telling us. They were not limited to a small area of Mesoamerica.

Only in the last few decades has it become clear that the Book of Mormon narrative describes Nephite and Lamanite homelands that were confined to a few hundred miles in diameter during the entire thousand-year history. 

It is "clear" in the minds of the M2C scholars, who insist the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah. To the rest of us, it is clear that these scholars think they know more than the prophets.

These and numerous other textual details escaped both translators and readers of the Book of Mormon for a hundred years. The book describes a cultural context not unlike that in ancient Mesoamerica but which is quite different from what Joseph and his contemporaries understood or expected. 

Except Joseph recognized the plains of the Nephites and their mounds when he crossed Ohio, Indiana and Illinois for the first time during Zion's camp. The text describes Hopewell culture very well.

This clearly undercuts any theory that would attribute authorship of the Book of Mormon to Joseph or his associates.

This sentence explains why these scholars developed and continue to promote M2C. They think that putting the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica is evidence that Joseph didn't write the text. But the same is true of the North American setting, with the added benefit that the North American setting does not involve the rejection of the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

Here is Brother John L. Sorenson's explanation of his theory, where he claims it is a fact that Mesoamerica is the setting for Nephite history.


What may startle some about this situation is that most of what Joseph Smith said or implied about geography indicates that he did not understand or was ambiguous about the fact, as it turns out, that Mesoamerica was the particular setting for Nephite history. 

Until he encountered the Stephens’s book, Joseph gave no hint that he was aware that such a limited area with a distinctive civilized culture even existed in the Americas. Even with Stephens’s material in mind, he made no more than a passing attempt to relate the Book of Mormon’s story to the newly-found ruins. And in the long run, the little blip on the Latter-day Saints’ mental screen caused by the explorer’s book faded as the mistaken folk view reasserted its dominance.

Here, Brother Sorenson characterizes the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah as a "mistaken folk view." This degree of derision for the prophets definitely "may startle some" members of the Church who accept what the prophets teach.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Joseph Smith edits Orson Pratt

Orson Pratt was well-known for writing about Book of Mormon geography. When he put the text into chapter and verse in 1879, he also added geography-related footnotes. He stated without reservation that the hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:6) is in western New York State, but he also stated that "it is believed that" Lehi landed on the western coast of South America in Chile.

Pratt had expressed this view in his 1840 pamphlet, A[n] Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions. You can read it in the Joseph Smith Papers here:

The reason this pamphlet appears in the Joseph Smith Papers is because Joseph apparently used it when he wrote the Wentworth Letter, which you can see here:

[Note: don't look it up in the Church manual, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith. The Correlation Department censored a key part of Wentworth letter to protect the M2C intellectuals. I discussed this here: http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-official-position-of-church-part-1.html]

One of the most remarkable things Joseph did when he wrote the Wentworth letter was delete Orson Pratt's entire discussion of the hemispheric model. He replaced it with a simple declaration about the people of the Book of Mormon.

I think this is one of the most clear repudiations of the hemispheric and Mesoamerican models Joseph could have provided, given his sensitivity to not publicly embarrassing his Brethren. This is especially true of Orson Pratt in 1842 Nauvoo, if you know the history there.

Look at what Joseph wrote:

In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites and came directly from the tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. 

Compare that with Orson Pratt's elaborate discussion, which Joseph adapted by completely replacing all the rhetoric about Central and South America. The parts Joseph used are in bold. The parts Joseph omitted are in red:

In this important and most interesting book, we can read the history of ancient America, from its early settlement by a colony who came from the tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages, to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. By these records we are informed, that America, in ancient times, has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first, or more ancient race, came directly from the great tower, being called Jaredites. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ, being Israelites, principally the descendants of Joseph. The first nation, or Jaredites, were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race, fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remaining remnant, having dwindled into an uncivilized state, still continue to inhabit the land, although divided into a 'multitude of nations,' and are called by Europeans, the "American Indians."
We learn from this very ancient history, that at the confusion of languages, when the Lord scattered the people upon all the face of the earth, the Jaredites being a righteous people, obtained favour in the sight of the Lord, and were not confounded. And because of their righteousness, the Lord miraculously led them from the tower to the great ocean, where they were commanded to build vessels, in which they were marvellously brought across the great deep to the shores of North America.
And the Lord God promised to give them America, which was. a very choice land in his sight, for an inheritance. And He swore unto them in his wrath, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them, and they were fully ripened in iniquity. Moreover he promised to make them a great and powerful nation, so that there should be no greater nation upon all the face of the earth.
Accordingly, in process of time, they became a very numerous and powerful people, occupying principally North America; building large cities in all quarters of the land; being a civilized and enlightened nation. Agriculture and machinery were carried on to a great extent. Commercial and manufacturing business flourished on every hand; yet in consequence of wickedness, they were often visited with terrible judgments. Many prophets were raised up among them from generation to generation, who testified against the wickedness of the people, and prophesied of judgments and calamities which awaited them, if they did not repent, &c. Sometimes they were visited by pestilence and plagues, and sometimes by famine and war, until at length (having occupied the land some fifteen or sixteen hundred years,) their wickedness became so great that the Lord threatened, by the mouth of his prophets, to utterly destroy them from the face of the land. But they gave no heed to these warnings; therefore the word of the Lord was fulfilled; and they were entirely destroyed; leaving their houses, their cities, and their land desolate; and their sacred records also, which were kept on gold plates, were left by one of their last prophets, whose name was Ether, in such a situation, that they were discovered by the remnant of Joseph, who soon afterwards were brought from Jerusalem to inherit the land.
This remnant of Joseph were also led in a miraculous manner from Jerusalem, in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. They were first led to the eastern borders of the Red Sea; then they journeyed for some time along the borders thereof, nearly in a south-east direction; after which they altered their course nearly eastward, until they came to the great waters, where, by the commandment of God, they built a vessel, in which they were safely brought across the great Pacific Ocean, and landed upon the western coast of South America.
In the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah, at the time the Jews were carried away captive into Babylon, another remnant were brought out of Jerusalem, some of whom were descendants of Judah. They landed in North America, soon after which they emigrated, into the northern parts of South America, at which place they were discovered by the remnant of Joseph, something like four hundred years after.
From these ancient records, we learn that this remnant of Joseph, soon after they landed, separated themselves into two distinct nations. This division was caused by a certain portion of them being greatly persecuted, because of their righteousness, by the remainder. The persecuted nation emigrated towards the northern parts of South America, leaving the wicked nation in possession of the middle and southern parts of the same. The former were called Nephites, being led by a prophet whose name was Nephi. The latter were called Lamanites, being led by a very wicked man, whose name was Laman. The Nephites had in their possession a copy of the Holy Scriptures, viz. the five books of Moses, and the prophecies of the holy prophets, down to Jeremiah, in whose days they left Jerusalem. These scriptures were engraved on plates of brass, in the Egyptian language. They themselves also made plates, soon after their landing, on which they began to engrave their own history, prophecies, visions, and revelations. All these sacred records were kept by holy and righteous men, who were inspired by the Holy Ghost; and were carefully preserved and handed down from generation to generation.
And the Lord gave unto them the whole continent, for a land of promise, and promised, that they, and their children after them, should inherit it, on condition of their obedience to his commandments; but if they were disobedient, they should be cut off from his presence. And the Nephites began to prosper in the land, according to their righteousness, and multiplied and spread forth to the east, west, and north; building large villages, cities, synagogues, and temples, together with forts, towers, and fortifications, to defend themselves against their enemies. And they cultivated the earth, and raised various kinds of grain in abundance. They also raised numerous flocks of domestic animals, and became a very wealthy people; having in abundance gold, silver, copper, tin, iron, &c. Arts and sciences flourished to a great extent. Various kinds of machinery were in use. Cloths of various kinds were manufactured. Swords, scimitars, axes, and various implements of war were made, together with head-shields, arm-shields, and breastplates, to defend themselves in battle with their enemies. And in the days of their righteousness, they were a civilized, enlightened, and happy people.
But, on the other hand, the Lamanites, because of the hardness of their hearts, brought down many judgments upon their own heads; nevertheless, they were not destroyed as a nation; but the Lord God sent forth a curse upon them, and they became a dark, loathsome, and filthy people. Before their rebellion, they were white and exceedingly fair, like the Nephites; but the Lord God cursed them in their complexions, and they were changed to a dark color, and they became a wild, savage, and ferocious people; being great enemies to the Nephites, whom they sought by every means to destroy, and many times came against them, with their numerous hosts to battle, but were repulsed and driven back to their own possession, not, however, generally speaking, without great loss on both sides; for tens of thousands were very frequently slain, after which they were piled together in great heaps upon the face of the ground, and covered with a shallow covering of earth, which will satisfactorily account for those ancient mounds filled with human bones, so numerous at the present day, both in North and South America.
The second colony, which left Jerusalem eleven years after the remnant of Joseph left that city, landed in North America, and emigrated from thence, to the northern parts of South America; and about four hundred years after, they were discovered by the Nephites, as we stated in the foregoing.
They were called the people of Zarahemla. They had been perplexed with many wars among themselves; and having brought no records with them, their language had become corrupted, and they denied the being of God; and at the time they were discovered by the Nephites they were very numerous, and only in a partial state of civilization; but the Nephites united with them, and taught them the Holy Scriptures, and they were restored to civilization, and became one nation with them. And in process of time, the Nephites began to build ships near the Isthmus of Darien, and launch them forth into the western ocean, in which great numbers sailed a great distance to the northward, and began to colonize North America. Other colonies emigrated by land, and in a few centuries the whole continent became peopled. North America at that time, was almost entirely destitute of timber, it having been cut off by the more ancient race, who came from the great tower, at the confusion of languages; but the Nephites became very skilful in building houses of cement; also much timber was carried by the way of shipping from South to North America. They also planted groves and began to raise timber, that in time their wants might be supplied. Large cities were built in various parts of the continent, both among the Lamanites and Nephites. The law of Moses was observed by the latter. Numerous prophets were raised up from time to time throughout their generations. Many records, both historical and prophetical, which were of great size, were kept among them; some on plates of gold and other metals, and some on other materials. The sacred records, also of the more ancient race who had been destroyed, were found by them. These were engraved on plates of gold. They translated them into their own language, by the gift and power of God, through the means of the Urim and Thummim. They contained an historical account from the creation down to the Tower of Babel, and from that time down until they were destroyed, comprising a period of about thirty-four hundred, or thirty-five hundred years. They also contained many prophecies, great and marvellous, reaching forward to the final end and consummation of all things, and the creation of the new heaven and new earth.
The prophets also among the Nephites prophesied of great things. They opened the secrets of futurity--saw the coming of Messiah in the flesh--prophesied of the blessings to come upon their descendants in the latter times--made known the history of unborn generations--unfolded the great events of ages to come--viewed the power, glory, and majesty of Messiah's second advent--beheld the establishment of the kingdom of peace--gazed upon the glories of the day of righteousness--saw creation redeemed from the curse, and all the righteous filled with songs of everlasting joy.
The Nephites knew of the birth and crucifixion of Christ, by certain celestial and terrestrial phenomena, which, at those times, were shown forth in fulfilment of the predictions of many of their prophets. Notwithstanding the many blessings with which they had been blessed, they had fallen into great wickedness, and had cast out the saints and the prophets, and stoned and killed them. Therefore, at the time of the crucifixion of Christ, they were visited in great judgment. Thick darkness covered the whole continent. The earth was terribly convulsed. The rocks were rent into broken fragments, and afterwards found in seams and cracks upon all the face of the land. Mountains were sunk into valleys, and valleys raised into mountains. The highways and level roads were broken up and spoiled. Many cities were laid in ruins. Others were buried up in the depths of the earth, and mountains occupied their place. While others were sunk, and waters came up in their stead, and others still were burned by fire from heaven.
Thus, the predictions of their prophets were fulfilled upon their heads. Thus, the more wicked part, both of the Nephites and Lamanites were destroyed. Thus, the Almighty executed vengeance and fury upon them, that the blood of the saints and prophets might no longer cry from the ground against them.
Those who survived these terrible judgments, were favoured with the personal ministry of Christ. For after He arose from the dead--finished his ministry at Jerusalem, and ascended to heaven, he descended in the presence of the Nephites, who were assembled round about their temples in the northern parts of South America He exhibited to them his wounded hands, side, and feet--commanded the law of Moses to be abolished--introduced and established the Gospel in its stead--chose twelve disciples from among them to administer the same--instituted the sacrament--prayed for and blessed their little children--healed their sick, blind, lame, deaf, and those who were afflicted in any way--raised a man from the dead--showed forth his power in their midst--expounded the scriptures which had been given from the beginning down to that time, and made known unto them all things which should take place down until He should come in his glory, and from that time down to the end, when all people, nations, and languages shall stand before God to be judged, and the heaven, and the earth should pass away, and there should be a new heaven and new earth. These teachings of Jesus were engraved upon plates, some of which are contained in the book of Mormon; but the greater part are not revealed in that book, but are hereafter to be made manifest to the saints.
After Jesus had finished ministering unto them, he ascended into heaven; and the twelve disciples whom he had chosen, went forth upon all the face of the land, preaching the gospel; baptizing those who repented, for the remission of sins, after which they laid their hands upon them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. Mighty miracles were wrought by them, and also by many of the church. The Nephites and Lamanites were all converted unto the Lord, both in South and North America; and they dwelt in righteousness above three hundred years; but towards the close of the fourth century of the Christian era, they had so far apostatized from God, that he suffered great judgments to fall upon them. The Lamanites, at that time, dwelt in South America, and the Nephites in North America.
A great and terrible war commenced between them, which lasted for many years, and resulted in the complete overthrow and destruction of the Nephites. This war commenced at the Isthmus of Darien, and was very destructive to both nations for many years. At length, the Nephites were driven before their enemies, a great distance to the North, and North-east; and having gathered their whole nation together, both men women, and children, they encamped on and round about the hill Cumorah, where the records were found, which is in the State of New-York, about two hundred miles west of the city of Albany. Here they were met by the numerous hosts of the Lamanites, and were slain, and hewn down, and slaughtered, both male and female--the aged, middle-aged, and children. Hundreds of thousands were slain on both sides; and the nation of the Nephites were destroyed, excepting a few who had deserted over to the Lamanites, and a few who escaped into the south country, and a few who fell wounded, and were left by the Lamanites on the field of battle for dead, among whom were Mormon and his son Moroni, who were righteous men.
Mormon had made an abridgment, from the records, of his forefathers, upon plates, which abridgment he entitled the "Book of Mormon," and, (being commanded of God,) he hid up in the hill Cumorah, all the sacred records of his forefathers which were in his possession, except the abridgment called the "Book of Mormon," which he gave to his son Moroni to finish. Moroni survived his nation a few years, and continued the writings, in which he informs us, that the Lamanites hunted those few Nephites who escaped the great and tremendous battle of Cumorah, until they were all destroyed, excepting those who were mingled with the Lamanites, and that he was left alone, and kept himself hid, for they sought to destroy every Nephite who would not deny Christ. He furthermore states, that the Lamanites were at war one with another, and that the whole face of the land was one continual scene of murdering, robbing, and plundering. He continued the history until the four hundred and twentieth year of the Christian era; when, (by the commandment of God,) he hid up the records in the hill Cumorah, where they remained concealed, until by the ministry of an angel they were discovered to Mr. Smith, who, by the gift and power of God, translated them into the English language, by the means of the Urim and Thummim, as stated in the foregoing.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

To my surprise...

Mesomania keeps getting worse.

Not only do the unbelievers at FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, etc., outright reject the New York Cumorah, but now BYU is teaching every student to study the Book of Mormon with a fantasy map, the same way they would study The Lord of the Rings or the Chronicles of Narnia.

BYU is also teaching that Joseph didn't use the plates to translate the Book of Mormon.

They're teaching the youth that the scriptures are wrong and must be revised because the prophets didn't understand Darwinian evolution.

IOW, they are destroying the faith of the Latter-day Saints as fast as they can.

The evidence of this worsening disaster is all around us.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

You're not too old to learn

One reason people develop closed minds is because they shift from "broad learning" to "specialized learning." A recent study suggests that this is the cause for the long-held belief that as people age, they can't learn new skills.

It's also the reason why people who have Mesomania literally can't unsee Mesoamerica in the Book of Mormon.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

The study is summarized here:

"We argue that across your lifespan, you go from 'broad learning' (learning many skills as an infant or child) to 'specialized learning,' (becoming an expert in a specific area) when you begin working, and that leads to  initially in some unfamiliar situations, and eventually in both familiar and unfamiliar situations," Wu said.In the paper, Wu argues that if we reimagine cognitive aging as a developmental outcome, it opens the door for new tactics that could dramatically improve the  and quality of life for aging adults. In particular, if adults embrace the same "broad learning experiences" (characterized by six factors below) that promote children's growth and development, they may see an increase in their cognitive health, and not the natural decline that we all expect.
Wu and her collaborators define "broad learning," as encompassing these six factors:
1. Open-minded, input-driven learning (learning new patterns, new skills, exploring outside of one's comfort zone).
2. Individualized scaffolding (consistent access to teachers and mentors who guide learning).
3. Growth mindset (belief that abilities are developed with effort).
4. Forgiving environment (allowed to make mistakes and even fail).
5. Serious commitment to learning (learn to master essential skills, persevere despite setbacks).
6. Learning multiple skills simultaneously.

Read more at: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-05-youre-theory-adults-combat-cognitive.html#jCp

The inverse of "broad learning" is what we see in those who suffer from Mesomania. The article explains:

The researchers explain that intellectual engagement (via the six factors) declines from infancy to aging adulthood as we move from "broad learning" to "specialization." They argue that, during infancy and childhood, engaging in these six factors actually increases basic cognitive abilities (e.g., working memory, inhibition, attention), and they predict that the same is the case in adulthood.
Wu and the researchers define "specialized learning," as encompassing these factors:
1. Closed-minded knowledge-driven learning (preferring familiar routines, staying within our comfort zones).
2. No scaffolding (no access to experts or teachers).
3. Unforgiving environment (high consequences for mistakes or failing, such as getting fired).
4. Fixed mindset (belief that abilities are inborn talent, as opposed to developed with effort).
5. Little commitment to learning (adults typically learn a hobby for a couple months, but then drop it due to time constraints and/or difficulty).
6. Learning one (if any) skill at a time.
"When you look across the lifespan from infancy, it seems likely that the decline of broad learning has a causal role in cognitive aging. But, if adults were to engage in broad learning via the six factors that we provide (similar to those from early childhood experiences), aging adults could expand cognitive functioning beyond currently known limits," Wu said.
Wu makes the case that we naturally tend to shift from "broad learning," to "specialized learning," when we begin our careers, and at that point, cognitive aging begins. As we settle into our work roles, we become more efficient in our day-to-day expectations and activities, and rarely stray from that. Though there are some benefits to it, such as having more efficient and accurate responses in appropriate situations, there are also downfalls, such as holding wrong assumptions or difficultly overriding these assumptions.

Read more at: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-05-youre-theory-adults-combat-cognitive.html#jCp

This study suggests there is a way out of Mesomania, just as there is a way for older people to continue learning new skills.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

FairMormon is worse than the CES letter

If you have people who have questions about the CES letter, you will only cause more problems if you send them to FairMormon.

I'll discuss the CES letter more later, but FairMormon is so invested in Mesomania that they are still trying to persuade members of the Church to disbelieve Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. This is worse than CES, IMO, because FairMormon uses LDS scholars to accomplish their goals.

Here's a prime example of the FairMormon tactics. This is a link that supposedly tries to debunk the CES letter, but they link to FairMormon's unbelievable videos about Book of Mormon geography.


Some of the links:

Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon Geography


Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon geography


Joseph Smiths Book of Mormon geography


The next one isn't linked to from the debunking CES letter site, but it's probably the worst of all the FairMormon faith-destroying videos. This video relies on the anonymous Times and Seasons articles and doesn't even mention Letter VII and related events.


My favorite part of this video is this:

If you can't see the timeline, this is an image from the 11:49 mark. FairMoromon uses this note bearing Joseph's signature on it to demonstrate that Joseph Smith actually signed some documents. They don't give a reference, and the note is not listed in the Joseph Smith Papers, but let's assume for now it was authentically signed by Joseph Smith.

Here are the two ironies.

1. There is not a single document signed by Joseph Smith anywhere that links the Book of Mormon to Central or South America. In fact, as I've shown, there is not a single unambiguous historical account of him ever linking the Book of Mormon to Central or South America. Even the Bernhisel letter they misrepresent in this video was not actually signed (or written) by Joseph Smith. By contrast, there are several historical accounts of Joseph linking the Book of Mormon to North America, and Cumorah to New York.

2. This very letter, the one they cite in the video, shows Joseph Smith referring to Zarahemla across from Nauvoo. I'm not aware of any other example of Joseph actually writing a Book of Mormon name. This one, of course, reflects D&C 125. Joseph gave a similar receipt to Isaac Morley regarding land in Zarahemla, here. That one, including Joseph's signature, is in the handwriting of Robert B. Thompson.

For more fun, notice how FairMormon included a series of links to the equally ridiculous publications of the citation cartel. You have to see this list to believe it, so go to the link above and look at the comments section. By now, my readers can easily spot the logical and factual fallacies in each of these references. If you have time, read them and see for yourself.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Mesomania for the youth...

Last night I attended a presentation in Sandy by a well-meaning brother who wants to help the youth of the Church get and retain testimonies of the Book of Mormon.

But he's telling them things that aren't true.

That sounds harsh, and I'm sure he doesn't even realize it, but in two minutes on the Internet, kids will figure it out. There were around 120 people in the audience, of all ages. Grandparents with grandchildren, a YW group from a ward, etc.

On his web page, he solicits firesides and youth groups: http://bofmwitnesses.com/schedule-a-ward-or-stake-presentation

I really like the concept of public presentations about the Book of Mormon, geared toward the youth, but not if you're going to teach them the two-Cumorahs theory.

He promoted the event (one of a series) with this online ad:
The ad tells you all you need to know. This is full-blown, dogmatic Mesomania. The presenter listed the academics whose books he read, which become apparent during the presentation. They are the usual suspects who write for the citation cartel.

One of his first slides told the audience that Joseph Smith himself said the "primary homeland of the Nephites was Central America."

Readers know that I've written three detailed books about this, showing Joseph had nothing to do with these articles and instead opposed the idea.

I'm not aware of anyone who has studied the issue who thinks Joseph actually wrote those articles (apart from those who believe in black-box stylometry that confirms the biases of the researchers who won't share their database, assumptions, or software). Even those who think Joseph was actually editing the Times and Seasons don't claim Joseph wrote these articles.

And, of course, following good Mesomania practice, the presenter said nothing about Joseph Smith's actual statements about Book of Mormon geography.

Then you also have this claim in line 3: "The vast majority of LDS and non-LDS Experts, Archaeologists, and Scholars agree on Meso-America." Aside from the appeal to authority fallacy, consider what a youth reading this will think. Then he/she will go to the Internet and quickly learn that not a single non-LDS person (expert or otherwise) thinks the Book of Mormon has anything to do with Mesoamerica.

I won't go through all the slides, but look at this one:

The "early Saints" had plenty of extrinsic evidence of the Book of Mormon. During Zion's Camp, Joseph and the others crossed "the plains of the Nephites" and picked up the skulls and bones from the mounds they left behind. Zelph was the most famous example, but not the only one. The lost 116 pages described the mounds as well. In that day, thanks to what Joseph and Oliver taught, every member of the Church knew the final battles had taken place at Cumorah in New York. Critics complained that Joseph was merely writing about the moundbuilders, with which they were all familiar. The irony is, he was!

Next, he told the audience that George Bancroft was writing about Mesoamerica.

The quote at the bottom of this slide appears to be from Bancroft's book, History of the Colonization of the United States, which you can see here. The slide says "In 1841, he states America was "an unproductive waste... destitute of highly organized civilizations, only peaceful tribal barbarians lived in North America." But the presenter told the audience Bancroft was referring to Mesoamerica.

He told the audience that Joseph Smith was translating Mayan characters off the gold plates.

Once the kids check the Internet and discover Mayan has nothing to do with Hebrew or Egyptian, they will be "confused and disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon," just as Joseph Fielding Smith warned.

Then we had a discussion of cement.

It's always fun when Mesomania causes people to read the text ("both of wood and of cement") as "both of stone and of cement." To put the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica, you have to substitute terms like this. Audiences are supposed to be too mesmerized by the splendor of the Mayan (and Aztec, in some cases) civilization to notice that the text doesn't line up with what they're being shown.

Predictably, he went through the illusory "correspondences" between Mayans and the Book of Mormon, including Izapa Stella 5 (tree of life) and Quetzalcoatl, both of which even most Mesomania scholars reject.

The presenter never mentioned Letter VII, of course. He never acknowledged that the New York Cumorah was universally accepted and understood during Joseph Smith's lifetime, including by all of his successors who lived during his lifetime. He never mentioned President Ivins or Romney who spoke about this in General Conference.

Anyone attending his presentation would have to wonder, at a minimum, how Moroni hauled the plates from Central America to New York, and returned to the repository in the "Mexican Cumorah" to get the Jaredite plates to translate, and then return again to get his father's records. (I realize the North Visitors Center portrays Moroni carrying these paper letters with him, along with the sword and Liahona. That's another post for another day.)

I've written to this fine brother to offer a meeting. We'll see what happens. Hopefully he will continue these presentations with a different approach once he studies the issues a little more.