Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Our conference and World Tapir Day

Book of Mormon Central America is proud to announce that there's a lot going on this year on April 7th.*

* Technically, World Tapir Day is April 27,,
but the Book of Mormon Central conference boils down to Tapir Day too.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

No-wise #395 on David Whitmer

Obviously, I don't have time to comment on every "kno-why" put out by Book of Mormon Central America. Many of them are great. Others are useful. But others are misleading, at best, and that's why I call these "no-wise." But I don't have time to comment even on all of the no-wise.

I'm commenting on #395 because it's especially egregious.

The title is promising: "Why Is David Whitmer's Witness of the Book of Mormon So Compelling?"

Book of Mormon Central America
is trying to control the present
And yet David Witmer's testimony contradicts the entire premise of Book of Mormon Central's overriding corporate mandate "to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex."

How does BOMC avoid this obvious problem?

Simply by censoring inconvenient facts.

BOMC is operating under the rules spelled out in George Orwell's book, 1984. (BTW, I have been conducting informal polls among my college students for a decade. In recent years, few if any students have even heard of 1984, Newspeak, etc. It's no longer taught in high school, apparently. Which explains why Orwellian tactics are so successful with the younger generations--including students at BYU, based on what I'm hearing about their reactions to the "abstract" fantasy map of the Book of Mormon they are being taught there.)

You can read the entire kno-why and not find a single mention of a critical aspect of David Whitmer's testimony, one he repeated often.

Of course, I'm referring to the encounter he had on the road between Harmony and Fayette with the messenger who was taking the Harmony plates to Cumorah.

We have to admire the care with which this was done. Unsuspecting readers will never realize how Church history is being re-written here.

The very first sentence in the kno-why has footnote 1, which refers to page 108 in Professor John Welch's book, Opening the Heavens. Page 108 contains the false footnote that I've written about before, here. The note says "The plates were carried to Fayette by Moroni in a bundle on his back." In fact, there are no accounts of any such thing. Even the source cited in the footnote gives the account of David Whitmer explaining that the messenger said he was taking the plates to Cumorah, not Fayette. The messenger was explicitly not going to Fayette; that's why he did not accept a ride on the wagon.

True, the messenger did eventually bring plates to Fayette. But no one ever said these were the Harmony plates.*

To make it easy, compare the footnote to the original source:


"The plates were carried to Fayette by Moroni in a bundle on his back."

Original source (Joseph F. Smith, 1918):

"In the middle of this prairie, all of a sudden, there appeared a man walking along the road, and David said he raised his hat and rubbed his brow, as if it were a little warm, and said good morning to them, and they said good morning. Oliver and David looked at each other and began to marvel and wonder: Where did he come from, what does it mean? David described him saying he had on something like an old-fashioned knapsack, but of course a little differently formed, right across his shoulders, and on his back he was carrying something of considerable weight.

"They looked round to Joseph inquiringly: What does it mean? And Joseph said, "Ask him to ride." So David, who was teamster, asked him if he would get in and ride with them. He said, "No, I am just going over to Cumorah." David said, "Cumorah? Cumorah? What does that mean?" He had never heard of Cumorah, and he said, I thought I knew this country all around here, but I never heard of Cumorah" and he inquired about it. While he was looking around and trying to ascertain what the mystery was the man was gone, and when he looked back he did not seem him any more. Then he demanded, "What does it mean?"

"Joseph informed him that the man was Moroni, and that the bundle on his back contained plates which Joseph had delivered to him before they departed from Harmony, Susequehanna County, and that he was taking them for safety, and would return them when he (Joseph) reached father Whitmer's home. There was a long talk about this."

To be sure, there is a discrepancy in the accounts about whether this messenger was Moroni or one of the Three Nephites, a topic I've discussed elsewhere, but there is complete consistency among all the accounts that the messenger was going to Cumorah.

It's obvious why BOMC (and Opening the Heavens) has to re-write history.

BOMC encounters the Three Witnesses - David Whitmer edition
David Whitmer's consistent testimony that the messenger was taking the Harmony plates to Cumorah destroys the two-Cumorah theory.

(Some intellectuals have even suggested that the messenger was making a quick trip to Central America!)

BOMC doesn't want its readers to even know about this important incident on the trip from Harmony to Fayette. Look how they frame it in the kno-why:

David had received word from Oliver Cowdery that Joseph had an ancient record, that he had begun translating it, and that harassment from locals in Harmony was deterring their progress.2 After remaining long enough to observe the young Prophet in action, which included receiving a personal revelation at Joseph’s hands (Doctrine and Covenants 14), David was satisfied “of the divine inspiration of Joseph Smith.”3

With this conviction in place, David used his team and wagon to transport Joseph and Oliver to the home of his parents in Fayette, New York.4 This allowed the translation to move forward to completion without interruption.5 

BOMC doesn't mention that the reason Joseph had Oliver write to David Whitmer was he received a commandment, through the Urim and Thummim, to do so. That's because, according to standard BOMC dogma, Joseph didn't actually use the Urim and Thummim.

Footnote 3 is clever:

Welch, “The Miraculous Timing of the Translation,” 176, doc. 99. Several miracles related to this journey helped David Whitmer have faith that he was on the Lord’s errand. These include his fields being miraculously plowed and fertilized as well as Joseph Smith seeing the details of his journey through the Urim and Thummim. See Richard Lloyd Anderson, “The Whitmers: A Family That Nourished the Church,” Ensign, August 1979, online at; Keith W. Perkins, “True to the Book of Mormon—The Whitmers,” Ensign, February 1989, online at

Notice how they list two items related to the trip but omit the third one that contradicts their dogma. Fortunately, it is described in the Perkins article in the Ensign here: "As Joseph, Oliver, and David departed Harmony for Fayette the next day, David once again witnessed an event that strengthened his testimony of the truthfulness of the work of the Restoration. On the trip, they met “a very pleasant, nice-looking old man” who greeted them with “Good morning, it is very warm.” Returning the salutation, they invited him to ride with them. He pleasantly responded, “No, I am going to Cumorah.” This name was new to David since he had never heard it before. The old gentleman “instantly disappeared,” and they did not see him again."

With BOMC, you not only can't trust the article, you can't trust the footnotes. You have to go to original sources every time. (So far, BOMC has not managed to edit original sources, but they know that few readers venture into the footnotes, let alone the original sources.)

There's more I could say, but this gives you a flavor for how BOMC misleads its readers to fulfill its corporate mission.

Consider the juxtaposition of BOMC's censorship of the encounter with the messenger taking the plates to Cumorah with this statement at the end of the kno-why. If BOMC really accepts David's testimony, why do they censor his testimony about the messenger going to Cumorah?

Purely because it contradicts their dogma.

And yet, they want readers to think they support David Whitmer's testimony.

Perhaps the most powerful aspect of David Whitmer’s testimony is that he remained so absolutely committed to his original statements, while at the same time being so completely separated from the Church. If David never had the vision he claimed, and if he felt slighted by Joseph Smith and other members of the church, then, in the words of his grandson, he would have “had all to gain and nothing to lose” by telling the truth of the matter.24 Instead, with his dying breaths, David affirmed the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon once and for all.25
Whatever his shortcomings may have been and whatever his personal reasons were for distancing himself from the Church,26 his commitment to telling the truth about his miraculous experience will forever define him as a man of integrity. After reviewing David Whitmer’s contributions as one of the Three Witnesses, Anderson concluded, “Impeccable in reputation, consistent in scores of recorded interviews, obviously sincere, and personally capable of detecting delusion—no witness is more compelling than David Whitmer.”27

(In the Joseph F. Smith account, Joseph says the messenger "would return them" but there is no indication that Joseph knew, on the way to Fayette, that he would be translating different plates once he got to Fayette. He only knew the Lord had told him to translate the plates of Nephi. There is no indication that he knew when and where he would receive those plates and have the opportunity to do that.)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

No-Wise 376: additional records

Our favorite web page recently discussed additional records to come forth:

They think the additional records of which Nephi spoke are the various ancient manuscripts related to the Bible. It's true that ancient manuscripts have been found that corroborate and/or tend to prove that our current Bible is a reasonably accurate transmission of much older copies. But those manuscripts don't add to our knowledge; they just confirm the accuracy of the text.

We know from our modern prophets that additional Nephite records will yet come forth. They were stored in Mormon's depository in the Hill Cumorah in New York before Joseph, Oliver, and other brethren moved them.

But they will yet come forth.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fun with Zelph

Our friends at Book of Mormon Central (America) BOMC(A) put out an awesome no-wise today. Check it out:

Whenever you read a no-wise at this site, you have to remember the goal of their corporate owner BMAF:

Our goals are (1) to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex,

BMAF and BOMC(A) are harmless clubs for Mesomaniacs; i.e., these are organizations dedicated to the two-Cumorahs and Mesoamerican theories of Book of Mormon geography. They claim Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about Cumorah being in New York. They're not interested in anything that contradicts their theories.

Once you understand that, there's no reason to be upset, annoyed, disappointed, etc., by anything they publish.

And, we won't be surprised to see a display of full citation cartel methodology. Look at footnotes 21 and 24 for example. The "Heartland as Hinterland" article doesn't even mention Letter VII, for example. The Roper article on John Bernhisel is full of holes but BOMC(A) won't publish a criticism of it. For that, you have to go to my blog, here.

For more, just search for Bernhisel on my blogs.

The Zelph story is a problem for BMAF and BOMC(A) because if Zelph was a warrior under a Nephite prophet, died in Illinois, and was known from the hill Cumorah or east sea to the Rocky mountains, that's a major problem for the two-Cumorahs and limited geography Mesoamerican theory.

Of course, the Mesomania strategy is to sow as much confusion about this account as possible, exactly as they do in this no-wise. Their thinking goes, we can't tell what Joseph actually said because too many people wrote about it.

There are two major articles on Zelph in the literature, one by Cannon and one by Godfrey. Cannon generally supports the credibility of the Zelph incident, while Godfrey seeks to undermine it. So guess which article BOMC(A) chose to put in their database? No surprise, they put the Gofrey article there and omitted the Cannon article.

Now, look at an example of how Godfrey seeks to sow confusion:

"Woodruff writes that the prophet "Onandagus" was known "from the hill Cumorah on [sic] East sea to the Rocky mountains." This is the earliest source for this geographical data. (In Reuben McBride's account it is Zelph who was widely known.)"

You can see from the quotation from Woodruff's journal below that the syntax could be understood to refer to either Zelph or Onandagus, but Godfrey is trying to persuade readers that we shouldn't trust Woodruff, so he tells readers, falsely, that the only interpretation is one that contradicts McBride's.

You find this kind of rhetoric throughout the no-wise. Look at this claim:

"However, when this account [the account in History of the Church] is compared against the manuscript history of the Church and the earlier sources on Zelph, the explicit connections to Book of Mormon places and events become tenuous."

It turns out that Wilford Woodruff directly connected Zelph (or Onandagus) to two Book of Mormon locations: Cumorah and the East Sea. This is as opposite to "tenuous" as it is possible in the English language.

Normally, we accept Woodruff's journal as accurate and reliable. His journal is the sole source for the famous (but inaccurate) quotation, found in the Introduction to the Book of Mormon and attributed to Joseph Smith, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

Actually, Woodruff wrote that as a summary of an entire day's worth of teaching and did not put it in quotation marks. But Woodruff has such credibility that scholars have retained this mistaken attribution anyway.

Woodruff's journal is the source of many of the Mesomania arguments, such as the "North and South America" meme that I've addressed recently.

So long as the Mesomaniacs think Woodruff supports their theories, they quote him approvingly. But if he contradicts them, they'll go all out to say he didn't know what he was talking about, the same way they do with Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

I don't have time to write more, but I want people to see what Woodruff wrote in his journal in May 1834. The / represents later additions or corrections.

Wilford Woodruff's Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.10

Brother Joseph often addressed us  in the name of the Lord while on our journey and often while addressing [p.10] the camp he was clothed upon with much of the spirit of God. His precepts were very instructive and interesting.

While on our travels we visited many of the mounds which were flung up by the ancient inhabitants of this continent probably by the Nephites & Lamanites. We visited one of those Mounds and several of the brethren dug into it and took from it the bones of a man.

[Interlinearly after "We visited one of those Mounds":] considerd to be 300 feet above the level of the Illinois river. Three persons dug into the mound & found a body. Elder Milton Holmes took the arrow out of the back bones that killed Zelph & brought it with some of the bones in to the camp. I visited the same mound with Jesse J Smith. Who the other persons were that dug in to the mound & found the body I am undecided.

Brother Joseph had a vission respecting the person. He said he was a white Lamanite. The curs was taken from him or at least in part. He was killed in battle with an arrow. The arrow was found among his ribs. One of his thigh bones was broken. This was done by a stone flung from a sling in battle years before his death. His name was Zelph. Some of his bones were brought into the Camp and the thigh bone which was broken was put into my waggon and I carried it to Missouri. Zelph was a large thick set man and a man of God. He was a warrior under the great prophet /Onandagus/ that was known from the hill Camorah /or east sea/ to the Rocky mountains. The above knowledge Joseph receieved in a vision.

You can see that Woodruff could have been referring to either Zelph or Onandagus as the one who was known from Cumorah to the Rocky mountains.

Woodruff specified "or east sea" but this has been changed to read "Eastern sea" in edited versions. "East sea" is a Book of Mormon term, of course.

Note also that Woodruff spelled it Camorah. In Letter VII, Oliver and Joseph taught that Mormon and his people "were encamped round this hill Cumorah. (It is printed Camorah, which is an error.)"

You can see that misspelling here:

Like the rest of Joseph's contemporaries, Woodruff accepted what Joseph and Oliver taught about the Hill Cumorah being in New York. They all read Letter VII because it had been reprinted so many times. None of the men present when Joseph received the revelation about Zelph were confused about the location of the Hill Cumorah.

Plus, modern archaeological digs at the Zelph mound confirm both the dating Joseph gave and the extent of trade (from the Rocky mountains to New York.)

It's also interesting to consider Matthias Cowley's edited version:

"During our travels we visited many mounds thrown up by the ancient inhabitants, the Nephites and Lamanites. This morning, June 3rd, we went on to a high mound near the river. From the summit we could overlook the tops of the trees as far as we could see. The scenery was truly beautiful. On the summit of the mound were stones which presented the appearance of three altars, they having been erected, one above the other, according to the ancient order of things. Human bones were seen upon the ground. Brother Joseph requested us to dig into the mound ; we did so ; and in about one foot we came to the skeleton of a man, almost entire, with an arrow sticking in his backbone. Elder Milton Holmes picked it out, and brought it into the Camp, with one of the leg bones, which had been broken. I brought the thigh bone to Missouri. I desired to bury it in the Temple Block in Jackson County; but not having this privilege, I buried it in Clay County, Missouri, near the house owned by Col. Arthur and occupied by Lyman Wight." The arrowhead referred to is now in the possession of President Joseph F. Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah. "Brother Joseph," continues Wilford, "feeling anxious to learn something of this man, asked the Lord, and received an open vision. The man's name was Zelph. He was a white Lamanite, the curse having been removed because of his righteousness. He was a great warrior, and fought for the Nephites under the direction of the Prophet Onandagus. The latter had charge of the Nephite armies from the Eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains. Although the Book of Mormon does not mention Onandagus, he was a great warrior, leader, general, and prophet. Zelph had his thigh bone broken by a stone thrown from a sling, but was killed by the arrow found sticking in his backbone. There was a great slaughter at that time. The bodies were heaped upon the earth, and buried in the mound, which is nearly three hundred feet in height." 

History of the Life and Labors of Wilford Woodruff. AS RECORDED IN HIS DAILY JOURNALS PREPARED FOR PUBLICATION BY MATTHIAS COWLEY THE DESERET NEWS Salt Lake City, Utah 1909 page 41

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Google and Book of Mormon Central

The EU fined Google $2.7 billion for unfairly promoting its own shopping comparison services over those of its rivals.

Too bad they don't look at Book of Mormon Central (BOMC).

If you click on one of the articles in BOMC's "archive" you will also get a "More like this" sidebar with suggestions for more reading. No matter what resource you select, you will be directed to articles that support the main objective of BOMC, as expressed by its owner, BMAF:

"Our goals are (1) to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex."

IOW, the goal of BOMC is to convince members of the Church that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about the location of Cumorah in New York.

It's not an easy task, this effort to undermine the credibility and reliability of Joseph and Oliver (and David Whitmer). Most LDS accept these men as reliable, credible, rational people who simply reported the facts about their experiences. But not BOMC.

To make the Mesoamerican setting work, BOMC and the rest of the citation cartel must frame these men as ignorant and confused so that they, the BOMC scholars, can come to the rescue with their more sophisticated education and explain that Joseph and Oliver and David (and Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Joseph Fielding Smith, Marion G. Romney, Mark E. Peterson, etc.) were ignorant speculators who misled the Church.

BOMC is trying to convince members of the Church that every prophet and apostle of the latter-days, starting with Joseph Smith, who has discussed Cumorah in General Conference or other official avenues, has been an ignorant speculator who misled the Church.

This is why their "archive" contains only material that promotes the Mesoamerican theory.

You can search BOMC all you want and you will find no material about the New York Cumorah, apart from a single source, which is my first edition of the short Letter VII book. You can still see it here:

I give BOMC credit for uploading that reference in the first place, and for not removing it. Yet.

However, I have ceased working with BOMC because they put up attack articles without even acknowledging that I've responded, let alone putting up my actual responses.

They continue to suppress ideas and facts that contradict their main goal of establishing the Mesoamerican setting.

IMO, they are doing tremendous harm to the Church and to the effort to sweep the Earth with the Book of Mormon.

And if the EU cared, they would no doubt fine BOMC for the same reason they fined Google.

Here's a fun example.

Look at this BYU Studies article on Zelph.

It contains the old canard that Joseph Smith changed his mind over time regarding Book of Mormon geography, based on the false assumption that Joseph read the Stephens books and commented about them in the Times and Seasons. The "More like this" sidebar refers readers to this classic:

The author here claims that the Zelph incident cannot "provide conclusive evidence for anything" because so many people recorded their subjective experiences. If we had only Wilford Woodruff's account (as is the case for many important events in Church history), we would take it as the entire truth about the event. (That's how we ended up with the false quotation in the Introduction to the Book of Mormon.)

But because others recorded the Zelph incident, giving greater context, we're now supposed to think that Joseph's revelation about Zelph is meaningless.

To make sure you get the message, BOMC guides readers to even more ridiculous articles in the "More like this" sidebar:

More like this

The Zelph Story
John Bernhisel’s Gift to a Prophet: Incidents of Travel in Central America and the Book of Mormon
KnoWhy #130- Why Did Mormon Give So Many Details About Geography? (Alma 22:32)
The Treason of the Geographers: Mythical “Mesoamerican” Conspiracy and the Book of Mormon
Review of Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon and An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon

I've addressed these articles in detail, but BOMC won't tell you that.

Plus, they omit from their "Archive" what I consider the best article about Zelph ever published by BYU-affiliated organizations:

Needless to say, BOMC will never publish anything on Zelph that supports a theory that contradicts their Mesomania. They want members of the Church (and investigators) to believe Joseph Smith was an ignorant speculator who misled the Church about the New York Cumorah and therefore expected scholars (i.e., BOMC) to determine where the Book of Mormon took place.

When you realize what BOMC is doing, how shamelessly they are promoting their Mesomania dogma, it's actually pretty funny.

Except it's also tragic for those who want to know the truth.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Spring Break at Cumorah

Thousands of American college kids go to Cozumel and Cancun on spring break. Here's some great info for those interested:

"Spring Break Cancun has become one of the top clubbing destinations in 2017 in the world! Spring Break Cancun is a must, but it does have a price. For example, one of the most famous hotels is Grand Oasis Cancun : with the largest swimming pool in South America , private acces to the beaches of Cancun, and the fun is at its climax: the pools and hotel beach turn into a big dance floor all day long, inviting artists and renowned DJs."

Here's what's awesome: these kids don't know they are visiting "Book of Mormon Lands!"

(Actually, that would come as a surprise to Mormon, Moroni, Nephi, Mosiah, Alma and the rest, but they're not around to object.)

If you'd like to relax in "Book of Mormon Lands," here's your guide to a great time:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Cumorah and Windmills

It's difficult to believe, I know, but people are actually on an expedition to find the "real" Cumorah in southern Mexico.

I like and respect the people on this escapade, but seriously...

This has the makings for another classic in literature. Don Quixote, the sequel.

Check it out:

Warren Aston (Brisbane, Australia) The Best Scout sud today, Kirk Magleby (American Fork, Utah, USA), Executive Director of book of Mormon Central, Javier Tovar (Atotonilco de Tula, Mexico) renowned archaeologist sud and Douglas Christensen (Twin Falls, EU) Director of book of Mormon Archaeology news, are currently working on, in the state of veracruz, Mexico for the purpose of: (1.) to follow up the issue of book of Mormon central done in October 2016 That investigated seven potential sites for the hill ramah / Cumorah. (2.) consolidate the criteria for the hill ramah / Cumorah. (3.) to develop a model for future expeditions to other sites of interest. (4.) determine the probability that the hill lookout or the cerro san martín pajapan is the hill ramah / Cumorah. #Bruce #SUD #LDS #JESUS CHRIST #LIBRODEMORMÓN

Progress report for Thursday pm, February 23, 2017 for Book of Mormon Central/BMAF expedition: We have gathered evidence, mostly comparing the landscape with the text, that the Hill Ramah/Cumorah is most likely in the Tuxtla mountain range in the state of Veracruz. We are satisfied that it is one of two dominant hills which satisfy the requirements of the Jaredite march "by the Hill Cumorah, then across to Ablom by the sea." Yesterday we met with a town "elder" designated as a historian. His info was fascinating and confirming of much of the required parameters in the text. We also took an exploratory boat ride in the bays of the Gulf of Mexico east of these hills. Tomorrow we finish our week by traversing as much territory as possible around both hills