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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Think Different

Some people tell me that the North American setting for the Book of Mormon is different from anything they have heard before.

That's a good thing.

The other day I was reminded of the famous Apple ad titled "Think Different" from 1997.

In a way, that line summarizes the Gospel itself. Missionaries go out to share a new way of thinking with people. The Book of Mormon is a completely different way of thinking about Christianity and God's involvement with the world. The ideas of temple ordinances and building a Zion society are different from what the rest of the world thinks.

A common thread throughout the scriptures, from the Old Testament through the Doctrine and Covenants, is to think about life in a different way.

Here's an example from Matthew 5:

43 "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."


Here is a link to the original ads, along with the script to the TV ad. If you're interested in business and marketing, you will enjoy "the real story" behind the ad, here.

Grammar. The grammar issue was discussed at length. The Jobs biography explains: "They debated the grammatical issue: If “different” was supposed to modify the verb “think,” it should be an adverb, as in “think differently.” But Jobs insisted that he wanted “different” to be used as a noun, as in “think victory” or “think beauty.” Also, it echoed colloquial use, as in “think big.” Jobs later explained, “We discussed whether it was correct before we ran it. It’s grammatical, if you think about what we’re trying to say. It’s not think the same, it’s think different. Think a little different, think a lot different, think different. ‘Think differently’ wouldn’t hit the meaning for me.”


  1. I've studied the North American model and it simply doesn't work for me. I don't see how any thinking person can accept any of the NA idea as the location of the Nephites and Jaredites. There are so many flaws in this model. The only thing going for it is the early brethren thought it was the place. Nothing was revealed to them about the right place other than FG Williams wrote that Lehi landed at 30-degrees latitude in Chile. That was the only revelation I know of on the subject.

    The South American model is much more correct and fits the scriptures perfectly. MesoAmerica doesn't fit either and it looks like this Blog has already figured that one out. Ira

    1. Doubly curious. It appears that you view Frederick G. William's statement as a "revelation" (though it doesn't claim to be itself), and yet disregard Oliver Cowdery's statements, which he claims are "fact" and informs us he wrote with the assistance of Joseph Smith. Why? What's the basis for your double-standard?

      Anyway, Jonathan here likes to talk about his "pins in the map," and we do have some revelation pertinent to Book of Mormon geography. Specifically, the Hill Cumorah is in upstate New York (D&C 128:20), and the City of New Jerusalem, which had some connection to the lands of the Jaredites and/or Nephites (Ether 13:2-6), is in Western Missouri (D&C 84:2-4). (I also understand the "Heartlander" argument for Zarahemla in Iowa based on D&C 125 -- and I think that's possible -- but I don't know if it's as clear as the other two.) While I have seen many theories, I am unaware of any claimed revelations regarding the site of Lehi's landing.

      Now, I will grant that the City of New Jerusalem and the Hill Cumorah, while the latter plays a key role in the history of both the Jaredites and the Nephites, are more or less ancillary to the core Book of Mormon geography. But unless you are arguing for a hemispheric model or a migratory model for Book of Mormon geography, I'm not sure how a South American (at least landing) theory fits.

    2. Russ, I think most of the letters, thoughts, writings etc on the BOM lands was their opinion. It is true that FG William's did not say this was revelation, but the South American model fits perfectly for the location of the Nephites and Jaredites for a number of reasons. Of all the places on earth that simply does not fit is North America. I can't see how anybody can possibly believe in this model because it simply doesn't work at all. There is no narrow neck, no exceedingly high mountains, no plants for fevers, no wall extending through the wilderness between the sea east and west, nothing! There aren't any buildings made of cement in America - yes there are a few Indians running around but nothing matches the geography at all.

      There are a few books that have researched the South American site and they are impressive. Down in South America you will find the exceedinly high mountains that thrust up at the death of Christ. There is what is called the great Perivian wall extending through the jungle for 50+ miles right where it should be as described in Helaman. The narrow neck is found there.

      Hugh Nibley did a great work many years ago where he described where the Nephites journeyed after they left Jerusalem and where they built their boat. They set sail into the Indian ocean. The winds and current all tell us that they sailed directly South down to a point south of Australia. The winds at that point change and blow directly east. Since Nephi wasn't a sailer and did not know anything about tacking into the wind he simply was driven forth by the wind. The wind would have taken him to near the tip of South America. There the winds and current change again and the boat would have turned north to sail along the coast. The Current slows/stops along the coast at 30-degrees latitude near Coquimbo, Chile. This is the spot that FG Williams wrote that Lehi landed. That fits perfectly the winds and currents and so because of that I believe this was revelation to Joseph Smith even though it isn't stated.

      The other scriptures I think can be interpreted differently. Section 128 was an epistle from Joseph and not revelation. I know Joseph thought that NA was the site. I do not believe he was correct. That does not take away the fact that he was the great prophet of the restoration. I don't think it was revealed to him except for what I told you about FG Williams.

      As far as Ether goes yes North America is the site of the New Jerusalem and is part of the promised land. Where ever the Lord leads people that is the promised land. South America is part of that promised land. The other scriptures still don't say where the Nephites lived other than this is the place of the New Jerusalem. That part is true of course but it's not where they lived.

      Jacob described where they lived as an Island. Again, the geography does not match North America at all. The Mulakites established Zarahemla by the West Sea. No west sea in North America other than the Pacific ocean which is far away from the Hill. Nothing makes sense when looking at North America. In fact, the Jaredites could not have come to America 300 years after the flood because North America was in the grips of the Ice Age. A large sheet of ice covered North America in the area of the Hill after the flood.

      The Lord led the Jaredites to Ecuador right on equator after the flood. You will find everything matches perfectly to what is written in the BOM. In fact some of the cities like Zarahemla and the City of Nephi have already been found.

      Lets discuss Russ because this is a great topic and I enjoy chewing the fat on this one. For me however the geography has to line up or I have to reject it. I'm a geologist by profession and so if it doesn't match then we need to look elsewhere. Thanks, Ira

  2. I fully recognize that the text can be interpreted in many ways--and that's the point. The plethora of Book of Mormon maps reflect the inherent problems with trying to come up with 1) an abstract map based on the text alone and 2) trying to fit that map to one's preferred spot on the planet. The text is much too vague to generate a reliable abstract map; no two people can independently come up with the same map based on the directions and distances given in the text, and those are the easy parts. That's why it's essential to have at least one pin in the map; i.e., we have to know, in modern terms, where at least one ancient site was located. That pin is Cumorah--in New York. In my view, any map that puts Cumorah elsewhere rejects the credibility and reliability of the witnesses to the Restoration, including Joseph, Oliver, and David Whitmer.

    Beyond the problem of rejecting these men, without a pin in the map, there is no coherent rationale for any one location, because we can put the Book of Mormon just about anywhere on Earth, from Malaysia and Eritrea to Baja and Chile. The South American setting, based on F.G. Williams' dubious note, relies on an imaginary geography of South America that has most of South America underwater in 600 B.C. The Mesaomerican setting, based on the anonymous Times and Seasons articles, relies on syntactical gymnastics and illusory correspondences.

    One pin in the map--Cumorah--is essential. That's why, IMO, this pin was so well established in Joseph Smith's day. The second pin of Zarahemla fleshes out the rest of the geography. It, too, is essential--which is why D&C 125 was canonized. (I've yet to see another explanation for why that brief section was canonized. The RLDS did not canonize it. It was not added to the D&C until 1876, long after the gathering to Iowa was moot because the Saints had left the area.)

    The North American geography is consistent with the text, albeit not in the way people have been trained to think about the text; i.e., through Mesoamerican lenses.

  3. For crying out loud Jonathan I don't reject the restoration nor the prophet Joseph and Oliver. I believe they believed it was here. It wasn't revealed to them where they lived because they didn't need to know. They were too busy restoring the gospel at that time and being chased around the country. It would be fun to have a discussion about the BOM lands. You've already figured out that Meso is wrong. BYU buys into it completely. Why not examine South America and tell me where I'm wrong. It will be worth your while because this place fits the scriptural record.

    Here are the 32 items with their scriptural references that match South American Model. There are others. I'll break this into 2 pieces because of the limit.

    1) The four seas surrounding the Land of Promise [Helaman 3:8]—it was an island in the midst of the sea;
    2) Two unknown animals that are for the benefit of man [Ether 9:19]—found nowhere else (llama and alpaca);
    3) Two unknown and important grains [Mosiah 9:9]—found nowhere else (quinoa and kiwicha);
    4) Plants that cure killing fevers [Alma 46:40]—found nowhere else (quinine, the only cure and treatment for deadly, killing malaria is found only in Andean Peru);
    5) Land of promise as an island [2 Nephi 10:20]—as stated by both Jacob, speaking in the temple, and Nephi, recording it in his record in which he stated: “I do not write anything upon plates save it is that I think it be sacred” (1 Nephi 19:6);
    6) All manner of ore [1 Nephi 18:25; Ether 10:23]—ore is not just found anywhere, especially to a non-mining people, and large quantifies;
    7) Roads and Highways [3 Nephi 6:8]—which led from city to city, from land to land, and from place to place; the road system in Andean, South America, was second only to Rome in length and quality;
    8) Hagoth’s ships went northward where there is additional Nephite style civilization established [Alma 63:4,6]—it is obvious to any student of archaeology that South America, was the parent developer of culture to that of Mesoamerica, which lies to the north;
    9) Forts, fortifications and resorts [Alma 48:5,8; 49:13,18; 52:6]—where Mesoamerica’s buildings were not necessarily built for defense, Andean South America buildings were fortresses and citadels as named by the invading Spaniards;
    10) Fortified walls of stone [Alma 48:8; 50:5; 62:23]—built around cities and around the land;
    11) Narrow neck of land that can be crossed in a day and a half [Alma 22:32; 63:5; Ether 10:20]—a narrowing that is easily seen in the area as the Bay of Guayaquil cuts into the land;
    12) Defendable narrow pass [Alma 50:34; 52:9; Mormon 2:29; 3:5]—an extremely important area which frightened the Spaniards in having to pass through it because of its defendability;

    13) Sea that divides the land [Ether 10:20]—divides the Land Northward from the Land Southward;
    14) All manner of buildings [Mosiah 8:8]—there are literally thousands of buildings and ruins in Andean South America, from Colombia to southern Chile;
    15) Great temple tower [Mosiah 8:8; 19:5]—a tower that provided line of sight into the surrounding communities (Shilom and Shemlon) and was still standing when the Spanish arrived;
    16) North-South directions of the Land of Promise [Alma 22:27-34]—there is no question of its directions of north and south, yet the term northward would also apply as the land curves slightly toward the north;

  4. 17) All manner of ore [1 Nephi 18:25; Ether 10:23]—including one that was ziff
    18) Land of many waters, rivers and fountains [Mormon 6:4]—fountains being where water originates; old maps list the area in Ecuador as the Land of Many Waters;
    19) Abundant crop growth [1 Nephi 18:24; 2 Nephi 5:11; Mosiah 9:9,14; 11:15]—the fertileness of Andean South America is well known, and not being a jungle or tropical like Mesoamerica, just about everything grows there;
    20) No other people in Land of Promise [2 Nephi 1:6, 8-9]—kept from the knowledge of others unlike Mesoamerica;
    21) Use of silks and fine-twined linen [Alma 1:29; 4:6 26; Ether 10:24]—expert rivaling Europe;
    22) Metallurgy [Helaman 6:9; Ether 10:23]—expert rivaling Europe;
    23) Volcanoes and earthquakes [3 Nephi 8, 9]—part of the Pacific Rim of Fire;
    24) Circumcision (Law of Moses) [2 Nephi 5:10]—only burial (mummy) evidence in Western Hemisphere;
    Plus the other descriptions already mentioned in earlier poslts:

    25) Mountains, “whose height is great” [Helaman 14:23]—none greater in height in Western Hemisphere;
    26) North-South directions of the Land of Promise [Alma 22:27-34]—where both north and northward make sense;
    27) Mediterranean Climate where Lehi’s seeds grew that he brought to the Land of Promise [1 Nephi 18:24]—would have grown nowhere else;
    28) Driven before the wind to the promised land, that is, legitimate wind and ocean currents taking Nephi’s ship “driven forth before the wind” directly to the Land of Promise [1 Nephi 18:8-9]—no other course from Arabia to Western Hemisphere for such a vessel as Nephi built and describes;
    29) Both Gold and Silver and Copper in single ore [1 Nephi 18:25];
    30) Forest adjacent to Lehi’s landing site where both wild and domesticated animals could have been found [1 Nephi 18:25]—2nd largest rainforet in world;
    31) Climate and soils adjacent to Lehi’s landing site where Mediterranean seeds could grow [1 Nephi 18:24]—including soil, soil group, temperature, precipitation and climate;
    32) All manner of gold, silver and copper, adjacent to Lehi’s landing site [1 Nephi 18:25]—Chile and Peru are in the top five world producers of gold, silver and copper.

  5. I neglected to mention that this 32 items comes from another blog called Nephicode. There are several books written on the subject. It is largely ignored in the Church however, but it is worth examining in detail because South America fits perfectly. A number of cities have already been found that fit the record including Zarahemla and City of Nephi which is Cuzco Peru.

  6. I think you’re making some assumptions. Please note, I'm not arguing that South America is NOT the lands described in the Book of Mormon -- it well may be -- but not for the reasons you've here listed.

    First, you’re assuming that the narrow neck is an isthmus. It could be, but does it *have* to be? (Some argue that it may be a peninsula). Also, you appear to conflate what may, in fact, be multiple geographic features, i.e., the narrow neck, the narrow pass, the small neck, and the line Bountiful. The narrow pass, for instance, could well be a waterway (see Alma 50:34), and the line Bountiful appears to be a series of defensive fortifications meant to prevent the Lamanites from overrunning the Land Northward. The scriptures explain that this line spread from the West Sea eastward; they do not say it reached the East Sea. And by explaining that it would take a day and a half to get from one end of the line to the other, I think Mormon was describing the vastness of the line, not its narrowness. (Compare Alma 22:32 with Helaman 4:7.)

    There are, in fact, herbal remedies for fevers common to North America (ginseng, eucalyptus, feverfew, feverwort, and ginger -- which specifically treats scarlet fever). And your assertion that quinine is the "only cure and treatment" for malaria is incorrect (grapefruits, lemons, and limes; fever nut; artemisia; cinnamon; alum; and holy basil are also used as treatments).

    Regarding flora, I think there's only one unknown grain now (sheum); records naming the other (neas) were recently uncovered in the Old World. I don't know what either may have looked like, nor do I know where they'd be found in the Americas. But I do know that the Hopewell's staple grain appears to have been barley, which I believe is consistent with the Nephites (Alma 11), and that they also cultivated wheat, corn, and other grains.

    Regarding fauna, I believe Book of Mormon "elephants" are mammoths -- because mammoths are, in fact, elephants. But by the same token, both llamas and alpacas are camelids. If those are the cureloms/cumoms, don't you think it would just say "camels?" I mean, sure, Joseph probably never saw a camel, but I doubt he ever saw an elephant, either. Personally, I think a better fit may be an animal extinct in Joseph's day, but for which we have evidence of use by man, like the giant sloth (we've found its feces in human settlements -- you don't typically bring feces back home with you; it's something produced onsite).

    Your assertion that there are no cement buildings in North America is incorrect. There are not *many*, but it seems that the Nephites preferred building with wood (see Heleman 3:9-11), so that's not too surprising.

    As I’ve noted in another reply, prevailing winds and currents would take a party from Arabia to the Americas by way of Africa, not Australia.

    Finally, where does it say that the Mulekites established the city of Zarahemla on the West Sea? I know the scriptures place the city adjacent to the River Sidon, but I can't think of any passage that places it on the West Sea.

  7. Russ, Jacob said that the place where they lived was surrounded by water. Where is that place in North America? Alma told us clearly that it was a day and a half journey from the West sea to the east sea at the narrow neck of land. Where is that in North America? You have to get the geography correct in order to make it all fit and North America where you are telling me they lived doesn't work.

    Hagoth sailing North took place where? In the great lakes? Why would he bother to build a ship if all he had to do is go for a long walk? There isn't any place where that would be necessary. But in South America before the 3 hour earthquake South America was not joined to North America and it would be necessary to build a ship and sail north. The only place that can happen is South America. Can't happen in North America and it can't happen in MesoAmerica.

    Helamam 4:7 reads: And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the eat; it being a day's journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their North Country. Where is this in North America. Down in South America there is the great Peru wall that runs in an east-west direction that is very ancient. It extends from the Pacific ocean inland for 40 miles. It ends where the east sea would have been at the time of the BOM before Christ. There is a wall in South America where is your fortification? And where could you build a fortification in North America that would prevent the people of the South to go into the land Northward. Anywhere you build such a wall in North America you can go around it somewhere. There is no natural barrier in the center of the land.


    1. Joseph never saw camels nor the curloms and cumons of the BOM. So the terms were not translated. But here are two animals indigenous to the America's that are very useful to man. In North America on the other hand Joseph knew about all of those animals - the elephant, horse and so on. So why was this not translated then? Yes it is just a guess but an educated guess.

      As for fevers why would you need a remedy in New York? You would in South America near the equator. Again, it doesn't fit North America

      Nephicode Del Dowdel has studied the ocean currents and winds extensively. He has written about the impossibility of the the Nephites traveling around the horn of Africa. Can't be done because the winds and currents don't go that direction. Even your map shows that fact. I'll find more information about that and present it later.

      The land of Zarahelma Alma 22:28 Now, the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents; and they were spread through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and on the east in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers first inheritance, and ths bordering along by the seashore.

      Zarahelma was established by the Mulekites when they arrived. They did not travel very far inland at that point in time when they were discovered. The City was located on the west side of the river sidon and the land occupy the area to the west sea. Again, your map shows the land of Zarhemla right in the middle of North America. Where is your sea West? Doesn't make any sense.

      And finally the 3 hour earthquake. Where is the evidence in North America that there was any earthquake that shook for 3 hours. And where are the mountains that were broken down and the valleys that were lifted up to exceedingly great heights? There aren't any in NY.

      The South American continent was raised up to great heights during that 3 hour earthquake. The evidence is all over South America. Even Charles Darwin admitted that the South American continent was raised in recent times. The area of NY and Ohio does not have any evidence at all of such an event. And what would be the reason here in North America anyway. Doesn't make any sense to me.

      Good discussion Russ - thanks for your insight. It helps to discuss these things. I'll find more information about the winds for you around Africa and present them to you.

      Kind regards, Ira

    2. Hi Ira. I appreciate your cordiality and interest, and I'm always happy to discuss these issues, but I can't republish Moroni's America on this blog. Until you go through that, you're just making straw man arguments; i.e., you're critiquing your own North American theory, not mine.

      Here's a start, though. The text says the lands were surrounded by water, not by seas. IOW, the were surrounded by water. Water includes seas, lakes, rivers, marshland, etc.

    3. I understand that Jonathan, but you can tell me why the geography does not work in a few words can't you? I went through those objections briefly in other posts. I could buy the book of course but looking at your map I know the answer already. Why is your Cumorah located South of the narrow neck? That doesn't fit. How can Hagoth sail North in Lake Erie? That doesn't fit. Where are the gold, silver, and copper deposits in Florida where they landed? That doesn't fit. Where are the exceedingly high mountains of the great lakes area? That doesn't fit. The narrow neck is not a day and and half journey wide. That doesn't fit. Why isn't the greatest falls in the world mentioned? That doesn't fit. Where is the river Sidon? I've seen a map of it before and there are various versions of it but as I recall it doesn't flow into the sea east does it? That is Lake Ontario. How can you put millions of people below the narrow neck and not have them going around the lakes? They would have know that these were lakes and so that doesn't fit.

      Nothing works Jonathan and so I'm interested in why you believe it does work. I've talked to a number of people about the North American model in the past but I haven't talked to one of the authors like you. If I am to reject the South American model and embrace yours then I require some answers. A few short paragraphs might help me if you please. If not then I guess I'll just continue to believe South America and when someone brings up North America I'll hammer them with the objections. Would love to see your point of view on this subject. If you can give me something to think about I'll consider your model. Thanks, Ira

  8. Hi Ira. I've been through the Nephicode in detail. Maybe I need to do a post on it to address your points, but not a single one of your points isn't better answered in North America.

    Bottom line, Nephicode prefers the F.G.Williams note on the premise that supposedly he got it from Joseph Smith. But Joseph helped Oliver write Letter VII and fully endorsed it multiple times, without ever once mentioning South America or the Williams note. It's really no contest.

    I've been to Cuzco, btw. The only way that fits is with an imaginary version of South America.

    I'll tell you what. If there are even 10 people who believe the Nephicode, I'll do a post on it.


  9. Jonathan, I think you'll find that there are many that believe South America is the place. I would love you to debate the South America model. Nephicode puts information on it about the North American flaws all the time as well as the Meso-America model. Please do that because from my perspective ALL models are worth a good hard look. Well, okay - Malaysia is a bunch of crap. But South America fits. Not much work has been done on this model in the past. But so much is explained in it that I think it's worth your time. There are 3 authors that are worth looking at, Venice Priddis "The Book and the Map", Lehi never saw Mesoamerica by Del DowDell, and lesser of importance is a book by Arthur Kocherhans called Lehi's Isle of Promise. The site was first found back in the 1960's however. I think the reason people don't know about it is because it hasn't been published as extensively as these other models.

    As I mentioned I do not believe that it was revealed to Joseph where the Nephites lived because he didn't need to know. We here in the lastdays will be gathering the Lamanites and we DO need to know where they are located. The American Indian have not joined the Church and they have largely disappeared from North America. That is important because should signal to you that something is wrong. They have come into the Church in South America however much more so. That is because they are pure descendants of Lehi.

    Thanks Jonathan, Would love to see your posts on that subject. I hope you would address my concerns too because those maps of North America do not match at all the BOM as I mentioned in other posts. Ira

  10. I agree with Ira that the path of evidences lead to the Andes, with the Amazon basin underwater before the time of Christ. I also agree with him that hardly anything fits in the North American models. And it is not much better with the Meso and Central American models.