But because this article links to an even more misleading article, I'll discuss both articles later in this post.
TRIGGER WARNING FOR M2C READERS: If you believe M2C, you shouldn't read the rest of this blog because it may cause you to become emotionally upset, angry, or otherwise disturbed.
I don't spend much time on Book of Mormon geography any longer for two reasons.
1. People will believe whatever they want to believe. Then they confirm that bias by searching for facts and reasons that rationalize their beliefs.
2. The issue is settled. I say "settled" because it's a simple choice between two beliefs.
You either believe the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, or you don't.*
If you don't believe the prophets, then the entire world is your playground. Actually, not just the world; you can invent abstract maps, as BYU and CES have done. Because the text of the Book of Mormon is subject to myriad interpretations, you can "find" Book of Mormon lands anywhere on earth you want. I discussed this in a 2017 post on abstract maps, here:
M2C is the most popular of the theories because it has a lot of money behind it, but it far from the only theory that rejects the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. People have proposed settings in Baja, Panama, Peru, Malaysia, Eritrea, etc. Once you repudiate the prophets, there are no limits to the imagination.
The M2C citation cartel raises and spends millions of dollars each year to persuade people to reject the teachings of the prophets and accept, instead, the idea that the "real Cumorah" is in Mexico. They confirm this bias with voluminous compilations of "correspondences" from Mayan society.
It's easy to confirm your bias, especially when you rely on "correspondences" that are ubiquitous characteristics of human societies everywhere.
For example, ancient warfare is ubiquitous. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_warfare
|BYU fantasy map rejects|
both NY Cumorah and
I give BYU and CES props for at least being consistent: they reject the New York Cumorah, so they are consistent in also rejecting the "Americas" assumption by teaching their fantasy maps instead.
The reason the "Americas" assumption is a fallacy, when used by M2C, is that the assumption arises from the teachings of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, who related what Moroni told Joseph and what they learned themselves. But Moroni also explained that the Hill Cumorah in New York is the same as the one in Mormon 6:6, and Joseph and Oliver knew it was because they personally visited the repository of Nephite records in that hill.
The same M2C scholars who accept their teachings about "the Americas" reject their teachings about the New York Cumorah. It's transparently outcome-oriented, perhaps the worst case of bias confirmation you'll find anywhere.
The biggest problem is the "M2C or bust" attitude of the M2C scholars, their employees and followers. They keep M2C afloat by spending millions of dollars on persuasion and by censoring alternative interpretations. Contrary to what they want you to believe, you don't have to accept M2C to be a fully active, believing, faithful, participating member of the Church.
And if you think M2C is a hoax, you definitely should not reject the Book of Mormon on that basis because there are good alternatives--such as accepting the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.
If you do believe the prophets, there are many possible settings, consistent with the New York Cumorah, supported by science. I don't even exclude Central America as a possibility, although I think it's less feasible than settings based on North America. (And yes, I realize that technically Central America is in North America, but it's called Central America for a reason.)
In my view, the teachings of the prophets are fully corroborated and vindicated by the descriptions in the text of the Book of Mormon and the the archaeology, anthropology, geography and geology of North America, as I described originally in Moroni's America.
You can see some of the maps at the link below. They are based on the text of the Book of Mormon (contrary to what the Meridian article says, as we'll discuss below).
Much has happened since that book came out a few years ago. In a few months, I'm publishing a companion to Moroni's America that focuses on the scientific corroboration, including peer-reviewed, non-LDS articles.
Nothing can penetrate the bias confirmation of our M2C intellectuals, their employees and followers, but more and more Church members are seeing through the M2C ruse, and these members deserve to know that there is solid corroboration of the teachings of the prophets.
Now to the Meridian article. You can see it here:
Meridian, as readers here know, is part of the M2C citation cartel. The editors of Meridian are adamant M2C advocates. They refuse to publish anything other than M2C, misleading their readers into thinking there are no alternatives. They epitomize the "M2C or bust" approach.**
Readers of this blog could easily spot the logical and factual fallacies in this article, so I won't take the time to go through them all. Let's look at two examples:
As you have read the Book of Mormon, have you ever wondered why so many people got “lost in the wilderness” as mentioned in Mosiah 7: 4; and Mosiah 8: 7-8?
It is typical of M2C authors to rewrite the text to suit their theories. Not a lot of people "got lost," but some did. Some got lost even when they were chasing large groups of people through what, according to M2C'ers, was a jungle wilderness.
Let's look at the actual text cited by the article.
And now, they knew not the course they should travel in the wilderness to go up to the land of Lehi-Nephi; therefore they wandered many days in the wilderness, even aforty days did they wander.
This doesn't say they got lost. It says they didn't know the course they should take. In Moroni's America, I explain that one reason why people don't know the "course" they should take is because they are on rivers, trying to decide which tributary is the one they're supposed to follow to get to a destination. If you haven't been in a boat searching for the correct route up a river with multiple tributaries, you might not relate to this, but it's a common experience.
And they were lost in the wilderness for the space of amany days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bbones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel.
Here they were "lost in the wilderness." But they knew the land of Zarahemla was downriver from where the people of Limhi lived, didn't they? One of the major premises of M2C is that people went downriver--and northward--from Nephi to Zarahemla and therefore the Sidon river must flow northward.
In Moroni's America, I agree with the point that the Nephites went north, and downriver, from Nephi to Zarahemla. IOW, I agree there was a north-flowing river from the highlands of Nephi to the lower land of Zarahemla. [Notice, we're dealing here with the land of Zarahemla, not the city of Zarahemla, which isn't mentioned until Alma.]
What our M2C friends forgot is that in North America, there is a major north-flowing river. The Tennessee River flows north from the Chattanooga area (land of Nephi) to Illinois (land of Zarahemla). Once you understand that, it's easy to see why Limhi's explorers got lost on the river.
To get to Zarahemla, particularly the area that became the city of Zarahemla (in Alma), the explorers had to go north on the Tennessee River to the Ohio River, then north on the Mississippi River. Instead, when they reached the Ohio River, they turned north there, which took them into the northeastern part of what is now the U.S. Thus, they didn't find Zarahemla but they found the remains of the Jaredite civilization.
The article continues:
Could there be a massive “wilderness” area in the Americas where travelers would get lost?
Later, in this same article, the author writes "He marveled that the entire face of the earth was covered with cities from sea to sea (Mormon 1: 6-7)." Again, that's not what the text says. But we wonder, which is it?
Was the land "covered with cities," or full of wilderness so dense people got lost in it?
It obviously cannot be both, but the article claims both.
If we look at the actual text, in the framework of North America, it makes sense.
The article has no explanation for the inherent contradiction between a land "covered with cities," and a land full of wilderness so dense people got lost in it.
Let's look at this passage in context:
Mormon grew up in the Land Northward and traveled in his youth with his father, Mormon into the land Southward to Zarahemla. He marveled that the entire face of the earth was covered with cities from sea to sea (Mormon 1: 6-7). Central America, to my knowledge, is the only place in the Americas that ideally fits this description.
Again, if the land was "covered with cities from sea to sea," how did people get lost in the wilderness? How did armies pursue one another for days through the wilderness? How did they even grow food?
Next, we read this:
(See John Pratt article for extensive Book of Mormon geography requirements that are not found in the eastern USA:
The Pratt article is a compilation of logical and factual fallacies the likes of which we rarely see. It starts with an awesome series of assumptions:
Closer study revealed that the entire Book of Mormon narrative took place in an area no more than a few hundred miles across.
This "close study" assumes no water travel, despite Mormon's explanation that he didn't bother explaining their "shipping, and their building of ships." Ancient people naturally used waterways. When you assume they didn't, as M2C does, you need to make that clear so people can assess the plausibility of your assumptions.
Combining that with the prophet Mormon's statement that they were almost entirely surrounded by water, led to the Mesoamerican model, a name coined to refer to southern Mexico and northern Central America.
What "led to the Mesoamerican model" was a focus on Central America by early authors including Benjamin Winchester and the Pratt brothers, followed by a rejection of the New York Cumorah by RLDS intellectuals, followed by a handful of LDS intellectuals agreeing with the RLDS.
Anyone can look at a map and see that Mesoamerica is not "nearly surrounded by water," especially if you assume "water" is the same as "ocean" or "sea" and if you look at more than just the carefully cropped map Pratt uses.
Mesoamerica has coasts, but land extends in both directions. The "Land Northward" (which is actually westward) grows into Mexico.
Pratt then delves into the interminable debate between "The Grijalva and the Usumacinta" rivers.
Next, he develops one of the most basic fallacies--the straw man fallacy.
I attended one of their large conferences where the lead speaker began by stating that attempting to use the map given in the Book of Mormon has only led to confusion, so this new approach is to ignore Mormon's map and just look where the archaeology is good.
Maybe there are some people who ignore "Mormon's map," but I'm not aware of them. That's assuming, of course, that the Book of Mormon is "Mormon's map," instead of adopting the M2C interpretation of the Book of Mormon as "Mormon's map."
But, predictably, Pratt insists his M2C interpretation is "Mormon's map."
Later in his article, Pratt lists 9 ways in which North America "abandons Mormon's map almost entirely."
As well it should.
Pratt's list is pure circular reasoning based on his assumption that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah and that the RLDS interpretation leading to Mesoamerica is correct.
I've addressed each of his points in Moroni's America and the blogs, and I encourage everyone to compare the different approaches.
But you will find, after you read the text, interpret it however you want, and assess the relevant extrinsic evidence, that you will reach a conclusion based on this choice:
You either believe the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, or you don't.
*Yes, I realize the Gospel Topics entry on Book of Mormon Geography purports to take a neutral stance, but it doesn't, really. Just notice how that entry avoids the issue of Cumorah completely. The entry completely ignores what the prophets have taught--for obvious reasons.
In practice, "neutrality" means only there is no official position on where in Central America the events took place, because the videos, displays, artwork, etc. are uniformly Mesoamerican.
The entry was changed shortly after it was originally released and can (and should) be changed again, if only to eliminate the inaccuracies it contains.
**The foundational belief of M2C is that the prophets were wrong about the New York Cumorah. They acknowledge that during Joseph Smith's lifetime, the Latter-day Saints all believed the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 was in western New York. However, our M2C'ers claim this was a false tradition that Joseph passively accepted and that Joseph's successors continued to teach, thereby misleading Church members for 150+ years.
[For a list of the Cumorah teachings that M2C'ers claim are false, see http://www.lettervii.com/p/byu-packet-on-cumorah.html]