long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Friday, August 7, 2015

BMAF is right about absolutes

In the last few days, I've had some Mesoamericanists criticize me for saying there is zero evidence for the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica. For example, just yesterday Doug Christensen of BMAF referred to this blog when he wrote, "Whenever anyone uses the words "all" or "none" or other absolutes............ beware, because there are very few absolutes and a person using them is trying to cover their ignorance on the subject."

Doug is right. 

And I say, Mission Accomplished.

I started this blog largely in response to a list of absolutes that I found on the BMAF web site, of which Doug was the President at the time. You can still find it here. [It is a list, supposedly by John Sorenson, of 37 reasons "Why Book of Mormon Geography Could Not Have Included North America." Here is the first item on the list: "1. The “promised land” occupied by the Nephites was characterized for many centuries as an area of “civilization.” As indicated by archaeology and related studies, no place in North America in the period of  Book of Mormon history contained any cultures at the level of 'civilization.'"] And here is my first substantive entry on this blog that briefly addresses the list.

Just yesterday, at the FAIRMORMON conference, I heard example of an absolute declared by a Mesoamericanist. At the end of his otherwise excellent presentation, Brant Gardner answered a question about Cumorah. He said New York doesn't work because there is no archaeology at that location. That's an absolute--and it's incorrect.

So I completely agree with Doug Christensen--but his own web page doesn't take his advice. Nor does Gardner, whose book Doug has endorsed and encouraged others to read.

What I have hoped to accomplish all along is to generate a dialog among everyone who is interested in the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Now that Mesoamericanists have complained about my absolute statements, I hope they will re-evaluate theirs. I'm ready to sit down with anyone, any time, any place, to discuss these issues. Like Doug says: "There are very few absolutes."

Now, for the record, I freely concede that there is abundant evidence in Mesoamerica that fits many of the descriptions in the Book of Mormon text. After all, as I've explained, I took a class from John Sorenson in the 1970s and I was a Mesoamericanist for decades. I've visited sites throughout Central and South America (as well as Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Peru, Cambodia, etc.). I've read the FARMS/BMAF/Maxwell Institute materials and I can make the Mesoamerican argument as well as anyone.

But then I looked beyond the absolutes those groups publish (such as Sorenson's list on the BMAF web page) and discovered that there is also abundant evidence in North America that fits many of the descriptions in the Book of Mormon text.

In my opinion, anyone who looks beyond the absolutes for either Mesoamerica or North America will reach the same conclusion: there is abundant evidence in both locations. If anyone disagrees, let's discuss the the evidence.

Once I realized that the Mesoamericanist position on North America was based on inaccurate absolutes, I saw that a case for both settings can be made, based on archaeology, anthropology, and geography.

In effect, the two theories were tied in terms of historicity*. So what is next?

[continued in next post]

* (Well, not really tied; Mesoamerica satisfies only two or three out of a dozen requirements, while in my opinion North America satisfies all of them. But I didn't reach this conclusion until I looked at all aspects of the issue; the point here is that both proposed settings do have merit, and both sides should acknowledge that.)

1 comment:

  1. I had forgotten the reasons why you started this blog. I looked at Sorenson's 37 reasons and right away I found 28 which, even to my limited knowledge and experience (I have been interested in Book of Mormon geography for about 4 decades, but only as an interested observer and never, until the last couple of years have I given it a somewhat serious study), can see are wrong. At least in terms of his absolutes.

    The other 9 reasons (aside from the 28 I found) I suppose I need to educate myself further before I can state one way or the other. But that day is coming.