Friday, September 30, 2016

Why psychology?

I've been interested in Book of Mormon geography issues since I was a teenager. Well, probably even earlier, but it was when I was a teenager that I began asking serious questions. I went to BYU for a year before my mission and back then, everyone talked about Mesoamerica as a given.

On my mission to France, we talked about the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica all the time. We did firesides on it, etc. We were always a little puzzled that the French people, who were generally fascinated by the Mayans, didn't see the connection to the Book of Mormon we did.

But they weren't exactly thrilled with Joseph Smith or any other aspects of Mormonism anyway.

When I returned to BYU, I learned more about the Mesoamerican setting. John Sorenson's book was all the rage. FARMS was publishing exciting new evidence. Along with many others, I ate it up.

Decades later, having become a little wiser and more discriminating about evidence and argument, I took a closer look. I had visited ancient sites throughout the world, including in Mesoamerica. When viewed in the light of my expanded experience and knowledge, the Sorenson/FARMS material became less persuasive. The arguments made by LDS scholars affiliated with the Maxwell Institute were replete with sophistry; they were redefining terms to match their predetermined conclusion that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica. This circular reasoning seemed so obvious to me, I wondered why others didn't notice it.

Then I realized others had.

Unfortunately, many of the people who noticed the logical and factual fallacies of the Mesoamerican arguments threw out the Book of Mormon along with the fallacies.

I took a fresh look at the issue and came across what is now generally known as the Heartland model.

It's the only one that makes sense to me, as I've discussed in my other blogs.

So I was left wondering, why have so many LDS scholars and educators stuck with Mesoamerica?

That's what this blog is about. I'm not discussing the merits of the various proposed geographies here; you can read those on my other blogs and in many other blogs, books, articles, etc.

What fascinates me is the psychology that leads scholars and educators to continue to promote an ideology that directly contradicts their purported confidence in the Three Witnesses and Joseph Smith himself.

To some degree, the issue parallels the common resistance to paradigm shifts in other fields. But there's a big difference in this field. Book of Mormon geography is a religious issue as much as a scientific and historical issue. People on all sides of the discussion claim allegiance to the text as a sacred book of scripture. That adds an unusual element that I'll try to explore as well. 

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