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.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Religion Today with Martin Tanner

KSL has a broadcast/podcast titled "Religion Today," hosted by Martin Tanner, who is featured at both the Maxwell Institute and the Interpreter. It's an enjoyable show and Martin does a great job discussing a variety of topics.

Last week's program dealt with Book of Mormon archaeology. (It's available here.) I don't have time for a detailed review, and so far as I know there is no transcript to engage with, but I'll make a few comments.

From what I heard, Martin is very well educated about the Mesoamerican theory. Undoubtedly he has read a lot and discussed the issues at length. However, he appears to have relied on material from FARMS/Maxwell Institute, Interpreter, FAIRMORMON, BMAF, and the rest. 

I hope some day he considers the other perspective that I've written about on this blog.

In the program, Martin made numerous statements about North American archaeology that seem to be based on John Sorenson's list of problems with North America, which was one of my first blog entries. The archaeology of North America is so well known and established that I've reached the conclusion that FARMS/Maxwell Institute, Interpreter, FAIRMORMON and the rest are either refusing to learn about it or are obfuscating for their readers/listeners. 

Martin is not to blame for the things he said on the program; his sources are. 

After finishing with North America, Martin talks about Teotihuacan. The latest iterations of the Mesoamerican theory invoke Teotihuacan, but in my view, that site defies any comparison to the Book of Mormon descriptions. 

For example, Martin claims there were "cement cities," but there are four references to cement in the BoM, and none of them describe cement cities:

Helaman 3:7
7 And there being but little timber upon the face of the land, nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly expert in the working of cement; therefore they did build houses of cement, in the which they did dwell.

Helaman 3:11
11 And thus they did enable the people in the land northward that they might build many cities, both of wood and of cement.

Helaman 3:9
9 And the people who were in the land northward did dwell in tents, and in houses of cement, and they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings.

Testimony of JS-“Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them.


So, Joseph uses the term "cement" to describe the box--in New York. Besides Joseph's own description (and the even more detailed description by Oliver Cowdery), there is abundant evidence of the North American Indians using cement. Many of the mounds were covered with cement, to the point that they were difficult for farmers to tear down. Some used jackhammers to break up the cement. Even today, at Cahokia, they have recreated a portion of the ancient wall around the city. It consists of tall timbers, covered with cement. 

The scripture says they built houses of cement, and cities "both of wood and of cement." While there may have been Mesoamerican cities made of wood and cement, the ones cited in the 1842 Times and Seasons articles that started the Mesoamerican theory are all stone and cement (referring to Teotihuacan and the cities discovered by Stephens and Catherwood). Maybe the Book of Mormon says they built cities and pyramids out of stone and cement, but not in the version I have. 

Must be in the Sorenson translation.

One reference says they built walls of stone around the cities, but the cities were built with mounds of earth--which is what the Hopewell in North America did, including the mounds Joseph described as Nephite. Consequently, in my opinion the cement verses exclude Mesoamerica as a potential location described by the text. (And that's not even getting into the law of Moses problem with Mesoamerican architecture.)

The headwaters argument is nonsense, of course; nowhere does the text use the terms "headwaters." That geographical feature is found in the Sorenson translation, not Joseph's translation. 

Martin gets into the sword issue, as well. I've seen photos and descriptions metal swords that have been dug up among the arrowheads, ax heads, etc. in North America. It's kind of awesome that Martin cites the Mesoamerican macuahuitl as an example of a scimiter. This is one of my favorite examples of how the Mesoamericanists claim Joseph Smith didn't translate the text accurately because he didn't understand Mesoamerican culture. I've blogged about this a few times.  

All in all, I appreciate what Martin does with this broadcast, but he needs to educate himself beyond the confines of FARMS/Maxwell Institute, Interpreter, BMAF, FAIRMORMON, etc.

As do all believers in the Book of Mormon.

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