Friday, September 25, 2020

Book of Mormon geography in one graphic

Here's a summary of the entire debate over Book of Mormon geography in one graphic. People accept one assumption or the other, and then confirm their biases accordingly.

It's very simple.

Of course, it's not only Oliver Cowdery who was wrong or correct. The New York Cumorah has been taught by every prophet/apostle who has addressed the topic of Cumorah. But Oliver takes the blame/credit for putting it into print (even though historical evidence shows Joseph taught it even before he got the plates, which he could only have learned from Moroni.)

Book of Mormon Central (BMC) and the rest of the M2C citation cartel assume Oliver was wrong, and everything they produce flows from their obsession with offering evidence to oppose what Oliver taught. Their employees and followers amplify the message. 

BMC employees know perfectly well that M2C is based on the assumption the prophets were wrong and have misled the Church. You can see them on the Internet trying try to justify their position. As good employees, they promote the BMC message and pretend their M2C theory is "evidence driven." Some of them may actually believe that, but everyone outside their M2C bubble recognizes bias confirmation when we see it. Not only because M2C repudiates the prophets, but because M2C relies on a series of logical and factual fallacies. 

Many of the followers of M2C don't (yet) realize that their beliefs are based on this simple assumption, but more and more are learning the facts.
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Those of us who assume Oliver was correct offer equivalent evidence to support what Oliver has taught. 

We think it's more useful to find and share evidence that corroborates what the prophets have taught than to find and share evidence that repudiates what the prophets have taught.

The question about Book of Mormon geography boils down to this: Which assumption do you accept?
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BTW, this is part of a presentation that I did recently which will be included in the online conference that starts today.

https://firmfoundationexpo.org/



Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Scholars vs Prophets: M2C expands into Egyptology

Because I sometimes visit the web page of Book of Mormon Central for their archive material (as I recommend everyone should), I get the follow-on ads.

Lately, I've seen this one:


I'm all in favor of scholarship. But if you look closely, you'll notice the mark of M2C. This is the Mayan glyph, placed along side Hebrew (OT) Greek (NT) and Egyptian (Book of Abraham) that announces to the world that the Book of Mormon is a Mayan codex.

Right.


This mark of M2C lets us know this is ad comes from an M2C advocacy group, not an academic organization. Book of Mormon Central is merely a public front for BMAF, a non-profit that has been pushing M2C for a long time. 

Hence, caution is advised. 

Their paid employees push M2C at every opportunity. They use millions of dollars raised from faithful Church members to promote M2C. We see them on the Internet, some of them fine young scholars who have bought into the Groupthink of the M2C citation cartel that also leads them to justify outright censorship of alternative ideas. It's the opposite of scholarship and academics, but they hold themselves out as "experts" to whom we should defer. 

Then we wonder, why is an M2C advocacy group focusing on "Egyptologists" to discuss the Book of Abraham?

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Apparently, this M2C advocacy group has been tasked with responding to the public criticisms of the Book of Abraham from well-known advocacy groups such as MormonStories and CES Letter. If you see one of these ads and click on it, you arrive at "Pearl of Great Price Central."


Yes, that is actually the mark of M2C again. 

Immediately you know it's not a real academic institution. It's just another tendril of M2C.

As you navigate the site, eventually you discover there are three LDS scholars who have PhDs in Egyptology who are in a debate with the larger community of Egyptologists (including the professors who taught them) about the interpretation and relevance of the facsimiles and papyri involved with the Book of Abraham.

We'll discuss all of that another time. For now, when I see this advertisement, I ask myself, why are we asking intellectuals about the Book of Abraham? 

Definitely, there's a place for academic inquiry, research, dialog and publication. But why these intellectuals who explicitly reject what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah? 

We've seen what a hash the M2C advocates have made of Book of Mormon geography. It looks to me like they're fumbling the Book of Abraham, too.

Instead of hearing from a bunch of Groupthink M2C intellectuals and their employees, I would much rather hear from the prophets about the Book of Abraham. 

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The other day, I quoted one of the LDS Egyptologists, who made an awesome declaration about academics in general. If you didn't see it, I recommend it. 

http://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/2020/09/book-of-mormon-central-finally-explains.html 

The statement explains why it is foolish to expect any of these intellectuals to be more wise, reliable, credible, or dependable than the prophets. The "credentialed class" are a poor substitute.

Which is why I prefer to believe what Joseph and Oliver said than what these intellectuals and their employees say. 

It is sad to watch the M2C citation cartel's desperate resort to sophistry, logical fallacies, false accusations and ad hominem arguments to try to persuade members of the Church to disbelieve what the prophets have taught. But they've been doing it for a long time. They think it's a success to censor the teachings of the prophets. They understand the Academic Cycle, and they've managed to imprint M2C on the minds of most Church members.

But not on all of us.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

"It's not my theory"

The other day I gave a presentation at a conference about the Title of Liberty. I discussed five topics. One was the concept of "the land of promise." I briefly mentioned and quoted from President Marion G. Romney's talk "America's Destiny."

During the Q&A, someone asked me for scriptural support for my theory about the New York Cumorah. It's a valid question. However, the premise if false.

I replied, "It's not my theory. It's not even a theory. I just happen to believe what Joseph and Oliver said."

Apparently the individual had never heard of Letter VII, so I explained you can go to the Joseph Smith Papers, search for "Letter VII," and see for yourself, right out of Joseph Smith's own history, that Oliver Cowdery declared it was a "fact" that the final battle of the Jaredites and Nephites took place in the mile-wide valley west of the hill Cumorah where Joseph found the plates.

This misconception that the New York Cumorah is "my theory" or the "theory" of anyone else is fake news peddled by the M2C citation cartel. It was never a "theory." 

It has been fascinating for me to observe the gyrations that the M2C citation cartel has gone through to frame the New York Cumorah as a "theory." 

Framing the New York Cumorah as a "theory" began in the late 1800s when RLDS authors decided the LDS prophets were wrong because, to make their "limited Mesoamerican geography" work, Cumorah had to be in southern Mexico. This is the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, which I call M2C.

Gradually, some LDS scholars adopted the RLDS theory. By the time FARMS was founded in 1979, M2C became widespread among LDS intellectuals, despite the reaffirmation of the New York Cumorah by prophets and apostles in General Conference in 1975 and 1978.

Through the academic cycle, the M2C intellectuals trained a generation of LDS students to interpret the Book of Mormon as a "Mesoamerican Codex" that contradicted what Joseph and Oliver said about the New York Cumorah. Now, M2C has become the de facto position of the Church, despite the supposed "no position" position set out in the Gospel Topics entry on Book of Mormon Geography. (More on that later this week.)

Our current revisionist LDS historians have done everything they can to accommodate their M2C colleagues, but facts are facts. We can all read Letter VII, Lucy Mack Smith's history, David Whitmer's statements, Brigham Young's explanations, etc. Every one of Joseph's contemporaries and successors in Church leadership who has addressed the issue publicly has reaffirmed what Joseph and Oliver taught about the New York Cumorah.

Despite these historical facts, our M2C scholars and revisionist historians employ a variety of tactics to confuse members of the Church (as well as nonmembers). 

In a day when the Church is supposed to be more open than ever, these intellectuals have taken the opposite course.

They redefine words, they characterize early Church members (including Joseph and Oliver) as ignorant speculators, and they conflate the issue of Cumorah with the question of Book of Mormon geography generally. 

[It's funny to me that some of my critics resort to falsely representing my position to criticize me. They miss the basic point that as far as I'm concerned, everything other than Cumorah is a theory. Such theories are open for further study, discussion, and even revelation. Settings other than Cumorah involve probabilities and interpretations, but mostly bias confirmation. I don't even exclude Mesoamerica, although I think that's one of the least likely settings proposed so far. But "least likely" is not the same as "impossible."] 

The most common tactic used to enforce M2C is censorship. Book of Mormon Central and the other members of the M2C citation cartel are merely M2C advocacy groups who censor even faithful interpretations of the text if they challenge M2C. 

One of the worst examples of the influence of M2C is the Saints book, volume 1. To accommodate M2C, the authors and editors of the Saints, Volume 1, censored the term Cumorah to create a false historical narrative present. This is a technical term they use which means they claimed they presented Church history from the perspective of the people involved. That's fake news. Instead, the Saints book deliberately and falsely represents Joseph, Oliver and their contemporaries as having made no declarations about the New York Cumorah, as if it was just "a hill in New York" that had no relationship to the Book of Mormon. 

But in few seconds of searching on the internet, anyone can see that the Saints narrative is false. 

This week we'll discuss how M2C has influenced the Book of Mormon videos. This is even more unbelievable than the Saints book.

As for scriptural support, the Book of Mormon is full of references to geography that corroborate the New York Cumorah. Sections in the Doctrine and Covenants corroborate it also.

Interpretation of any text usually boils down to bias confirmation. Lawyers litigating contractual disputes and Constitutional issues try to persuade the factfinder (judge, jury, arbitrator) to confirm the bias of their clients. Politicians try to persuade voters to confirm their biases. Most of what we read in the media is an author's attempt to persuade us to confirm his/her bias. Modern journalism has degenerated into advocacy, easily detected by word choice, omission of relevant facts (censorship), and other rhetorical tactics. 

It's just as easy to recognize M2C as fake news, especially when the M2C advocates claim neutrality.

Recognizing this, I have repeatedly explained my bias: I believe what Joseph and Oliver taught about the New York Cumorah. Starting with that belief, I have found abundant extrinsic evidence that corroborates what they said. I've "confirmed my bias" on this issue. 

In the process of doing so, I have found the tactics of our M2C intellectuals, their employees and followers, ridiculously misleading. M2C "boils down" to repudiating the teachings of the prophets in favor of the theories of intellectuals. 

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I've also explained that I don't care what others believe. I'm not trying to persuade anyone to believe what Joseph and Oliver taught. If I was, I'd resort to the same tactics employed by our M2C intellectuals and revisionist historians.

Instead of censorship, I encourage people to read the material published by Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, et al. Read Saints, Volume 1, and see for yourself. 

Every individual, LDS or not, who is interested in the topic of Cumorah can read what Joseph and Oliver taught and make a decision whether to accept or reject what they said. That decision becomes your bias. Then you can find abundant extrinsic evidence to confirm your bias, whatever it is.

The claim that "the evidence" contradicts the New York Cumorah is a ruse. It is bias confirmation disguised as "research" that succeeds only by obfuscation and censorship.

That's my biggest problem with the M2C intellectuals and revisionist historians. If they were honest and forthright, I'd have no problem. I'd stop blogging about this topic. 

To be sure, they have stated their bias clearly. They all admit they don't believe Joseph and Oliver. But they do it subtly, and they get angry when I point it out.

I'd like to see this entire topic clarified this way. Imagine a large field with two big tents. Or a university campus with two lecture auditoriums. The public can decide with tent or auditorium to enter. Signs outside explain.

Before entering a venue, you must decide whether you believe or disbelieve what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taught about the New York Cumorah. This requirement reflects the principle of faith as well as the human psychology of bias confirmation.

Once you've made a decision, you may enter the appropriate venue.

If you believe what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taught about the New York Cumorah, enter tent/auditorium Number 1. 

If you disbelieve what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taught about the New York Cumorah, enter tent/auditorium Number 2.

Each tent/auditorium will present extrinsic scientific evidence that confirms your belief so you can leave the field/campus with your beliefs fortified.

Once you have completed work in one of the venues, you are free to visit the other one to understand what others think. 




Monday, September 21, 2020

Book of Mormon Central finally explains that "scholarship" is merely bias confirmation

Finally, Book of Mormon Central has published an explanation of how scholarship works. We should give them credit, even if this was an unintentional admission that scholarship boils down to bias confirmation.

Here's an excerpt from a post on Book of Mormon Central regarding the Book of Abraham:

6) As a subset of this, I believe that regarding the Book of Abraham there are no unbiased researchers. Everyone starts with an initial assumption. They either believe that Joseph Smith could possibly receive divine aid to translate ancient documents or he could not. This original assumption will color how every other piece of evidence is interpreted. Responsible scholarship will recognize that there is a beginning, foundational assumption, and be transparent about it. Anyone who does not recognize their starting point is being intellectually dishonest, both with themselves and their audience. They also misunderstand scholarship. Anyone who pretends that scholarship is not affected by these kinds of views also fails to understand the scholarly process.

https://bookofmormoncentral.org/blog/resources-from-egyptologists-for-studying-the-book-of-abraham-authenticity-translation/?utm_source=MaxConnect&utm_medium=Display&utm_content=RM&utm_campaign=MaxConnect_BOAEvidence

I completely agree with that statement, as far as it goes. 

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Let's apply that statement to the question of Cumorah.

6) As a subset of this, I believe that regarding the New York Cumorah there are no unbiased researchers. Everyone starts with an initial assumption. They either believe that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery told the truth about the New York Cumorah or they did not. This original assumption will color how every other piece of evidence is interpreted. Responsible scholarship will recognize that there is a beginning, foundational assumption, and be transparent about it. Anyone who does not recognize their starting point is being intellectually dishonest, both with themselves and their audience. They also misunderstand scholarship. Anyone who pretends that scholarship is not affected by these kinds of views also fails to understand the scholarly process.

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Book of Mormon Central and the rest of the M2C citation cartel, as well as the revisionist LDS historians, have firmly and unequivocally declared that they do not believe that Joseph and Oliver told the truth about the New York Cumorah.

What do you believe?

The starting point of M2C is the conviction, shared by M2C intellectuals, that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about Cumorah for decades--until these intellectuals came along to rescue the Church from the errors of the prophets. Everything they've published seeks to promote that "foundational assumption." Book of Mormon Central, especially, is raising and spending millions of dollars every year to promote M2C. 

Fortunately, none of us have to believe these intellectuals. We can rely on the teachings of the scriptures and the prophets instead.

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Next, let's apply the original statement to the question of the translation of the Book of Mormon.

6) As a subset of this, I believe that regarding the translation of the Book of Mormon there are no unbiased researchersEveryone starts with an initial assumption. They either believe that Joseph Smith translated the plates with the Urim and Thummim that came with the plates, as he and Oliver Cowdery declared, or he did not. This original assumption will color how every other piece of evidence is interpreted. Responsible scholarship will recognize that there is a beginning, foundational assumption, and be transparent about it. Anyone who does not recognize their starting point is being intellectually dishonest, both with themselves and their audience. They also misunderstand scholarship. Anyone who pretends that scholarship is not affected by these kinds of views also fails to understand the scholarly process.

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Book of Mormon Central and the rest of the M2C citation cartel, as well as the revisionist LDS historians, have firmly, unequivocally declared that they do not believe that Joseph translated the plates with the Urim and Thummim that came with the plates.

What do you believe?

There are thousands of Latter-day Saints who still believe the teachings of Joseph and Oliver instead of the teachings of the intellectuals. 

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Now that Book of Mormon Central is on record, they have no legitimate excuse to continue censoring alternative faithful interpretations, especially those that corroborate and support what Joseph and Oliver taught.


Friday, September 18, 2020

Constitution Day - the operating system for the U.S.


Yesterday, September 17, was Constitution Day in the United States. 


Years ago I won some prizes on a radio show because I was the first caller who knew the Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787. On that day, 39 of the 55 delegates from the States signed the Constitution. Some declined to sign because there was no bill of rights (later added by the first ten Amendments) and because the Constitution permitted slavery (later banned by the 13th Amendment). 

But those who did sign rejected the tyranny of the existing forms of government in most of the world, consisting of kings who were unaccountable, or barely accountable, to the people. The signers created the United States of America and set up an "operating system" that was sturdy and flexible enough to produce many future iterations, all leading toward "a more perfect union."

Would you have signed the Declaration of Independence and/or the Constitution? 

There's a cool webpage that let's you add your own signature. Go to 

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In commemoration of Constitution Day, I'm speaking on the topic of "The Liberty of Righteousness" at an online forum tomorrow on the Title of Liberty.

https://4mevents.org/

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The U.S. Constitution is the operating system for the federal government. Congress enacts apps (laws and regulations) to work on the operating system, but when they don't work, the Supreme Court declares them unconstitutional. 

The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the United States. Empowered with the sovereign authority of the people by the framers and the consent of the legislatures of the states, it is the source of all government powers, and also provides important limitations on the government that protect the fundamental rights of United States citizens.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/the-constitution/

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Here is another way to look at an operating system for the country as a whole:

"Patriotic education" in schools is, in essence, the Operating System for the United States. You have to get the OS right to make any of the other apps operate.way to look at it is this: 

"Patriotic education" in schools is, in essence, the Operating System for the United States. You have to get the OS right to make any of the other apps operate.

https://twitter.com/ScottAdamsSays/status/1306938291153854465

Yesterday, President Trump announced a highly significant initiative - the 1776 Commission.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey8VJJc8FQg

Trump discussed the “left-wing indoctrination” in many American schools as well as curriculum that “views every issue through the lens of race." The 1776 Commission will lead to “patriotic education,” in connection with a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop a ”pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation's great history."

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This all leads me to wonder, what is the operating system for the Church? 

We'll discuss that more next week.



Thursday, September 17, 2020

Rationalizing censorship: The authoritarian left never rests

Peter Hitchens, a former leftist revolutionary, explains in this video why he once sought to restrict the free speech of others and how the left has changed Western society. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbfKBXpHNUU&t=676s

Be sure to turn on CC (closed captions) to follow more easily.

The general left-wing belief which is held by the elites of most Western countries now is also a belief in their own virtue. And if you believe very strongly in your own virtue, and your virtue is based on, sort of a caricature of justification by faith alone, you are a good person because you hold certain opinions, therefore if  you hold other opinions you are a bad person. And I think that makes dialog pretty much impossible if you think your opponent is bad, not just wrong but bad, why should you listen to a word he says? Well, they don't...

The ideas of cultural, moral and social revolution not by violent overthrow, not through dictatorship of the proletariat, not even through seizure or sequestration of industries and banks but through the capture by the long march through the institutions of the television studio and the university and the newspaper office and the publishing house and the school, so that after 30 or 40 years of that you would control pretty much the public mind and you would be able to get pretty much what you wanted. It's clever, and you have to concede to these people some admiration for their endless determination, their deep belief in what they want and their subtle and clever organization to achieve. It has been very well exercised revolution.

This is a good explanation of the tactics of the academic cycle that promotes M2C, SITH, and other ideas that reject what the prophets have taught. By continuing to suppress alternative faithful ideas, the M2C citation cartel makes dialog impossible.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Swept off America

Yesterday we discussed one of the problems with using the fake fantasy maps from CES and BYU to teach the Book of Mormon. 

Ether 2:9 is meaningless if the land the Jaredites occupied is imaginary.

“And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.” (Ether 2:9)

Portraying the Book of Mormon in a fictional setting hardly inspires confidence that the book Joseph translated is an authentic history. 

And yet, all LDS youth today are learning this fictional setting for the Book of Mormon in seminary, institute, and at BYU.

This fictional setting is based on the M2C premise that the prophets are wrong because the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is in southern Mexico, not in New York. 

The M2C citation cartel has established its own M2C interpretation as the de facto official interpretation of the Book of Mormon. They are imprinting this fictional setting on the minds of LDS students around the world.

This is a slow-moving disaster. 

But there is an alternative.

There is a sound interpretation of the Book of Mormon that fits the real world and includes the Hill Cumorah in New York. http://www.moronisamerica.com/maps/
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President Marion G. Romney showed a better way to teach Ether 2:9 when he spoke about America's Destiny many years ago in General Conference. 

You can read some of his talk here, but for some reason it is truncated.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1975/10/americas-destiny?lang=eng

You can read all of his talk here:

http://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/2019/04/conference-classic-destiny.html

You can watch his talk here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Te4F9rWaSAk

Excerpts:

Among the questions frequently raised in connection with our upcoming national bicentennial is “Can we maintain our basic freedoms, peace, and prosperity for another 200 years?”

The answer to this question is yes, if we shall individually repent and conform to the laws of the God of this land, who is Jesus Christ....

It is my purpose in making these remarks to point out from the record of ancient inhabitants of America that the foregoing decrees have been carried out.

In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “hill Cumorah.” (Morm. 6:6.) On July twenty-fifth of this year, as I stood on the crest of that hill admiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to the events which occurred in that vicinity some twenty-five centuries ago—events which brought to an end the great Jaredite nation....

As I contemplated this tragic scene from the crest of Cumorah and viewed the beautiful land of the Restoration as it appears today, I cried in my soul, “How could it have happened?”...

Pursuant to this decree concerning the land of America, the Jaredites were swept off in the manner we have reviewed, because, rebelling against the laws of Jesus Christ—the God of the land—they “ripened in iniquity.”

Nor were they the only people who anciently were divinely led to this choice land to grow in righteousness to be a mighty nation and then to deteriorate in wickedness until they ripened in iniquity and were, pursuant to God’s decree, swept off....

This second civilization to which I refer, the Nephites, flourished in America between 600 B.C. and A.D. 400. Their civilization came to an end for the same reason, at the same place, and in the same manner as did the Jaredites’. From the account of their death struggle, I quote:

“And now,” says Mormon, their historian, “I finish my record concerning the destruction of my people, the Nephites. And it came to pass that we did march forth before the Lamanites … to the land of Cumorah. … And when … we had gathered in all the remainder of our people unto the land of Cumorah, … my people, with their wives and their children, did … behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them....

The tragic fate of the Jaredite and the Nephite civilizations is proof positive that the Lord meant it when he said that this “is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.” (Ether 2:9.) ...