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, October 13, 2017

Free-Speech Lesson

Today's Wall St. Journal has an editorial about free speech titled "Justice Holmes’s Free-Speech Lesson" that everyone interested in Book of Mormon geography should read because it explains which sides of the geography debate are confident in their position.

Here's the link (although you may need a subscription to view it):

The subheading to the article explains: "The more certain you are, the more you should resist the temptation to silence those who disagree."

On this blog, I frequently quote, cite, and link to the publications of the intellectuals who promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory. I encourage members of the Church to discover what these people are teaching. I think every BYU student, at whatever campus, and every CES student (and every parent) should know what is being taught.

But the intellectuals who promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory take the opposite approach.

By now, readers of this blog know that these intellectuals (FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, BYU Studies, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, etc.) are afraid to let members of the Church compare their theory to the North American setting (Moroni's America or the Heartland).

These intellectuals know that most members of the Church, once they learn about Letter VII and the teachings of the modern prophets and apostles, accept the New York Cumorah. 

That's why they continue to refuse to allow a comparison, or even a discussion, of the two theories.

The only way they can preserve their Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory is by 

(1) suppressing, arguing against, and ridiculing what Joseph and Oliver taught and 

(2) insisting that every modern prophet and apostle who has spoken about the Hill Cumorah in New York, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference, was wrong.

Now the intellectuals at BYU are promoting an "abstract map" of the Book of Mormon to convey an impression that they are "neutral," even though their map teaches the Mesoamerican interpretation of the text and repudiates what the prophets and apostles have said about Cumorah in New York.

They don't want people to know about the North American setting. They don't want people to know about Letter VII. They don't want people to know what has been taught in General Conference.

Now, let's look at the WSJ article.


"If you are absolutely certain that President Trump is or is not an idiot, that climate change is or is not the most pressing problem of our age, that abortion is or is not murder, that football players should or should not be allowed to kneel during the national anthem, that our nation needs more or fewer gun laws, welcome! Most of us feel the same way. Absolute certainty is common, as is the suspicion that anybody who is absolutely certain of the opposite view must be evil, ignorant or a gullible consumer of fake news.

"Along with absolute certainty comes the understandable impulse to regulate or ban the speech of your opponent. Why allow evil and ignorant people to infect others with falsehoods and dangerous ideas?"

The article discusses a pair of Supreme Court cases in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes changed his mind about free speech.

"Holmes’s dissent in Abrams gave birth to modern First Amendment jurisprudence, with its veneration for the marketplace of ideas. He began by observing that it makes perfect sense to persecute people for their opinions: “If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition.” The problem, Holmes realized, is that we are almost always absolutely certain of our premises, but sometimes we are wrong...

Holmes’s radical idea was that we are too often wrong. When we are wrong, the consequences can be dire. When we are not only absolutely certain but also right, what is the harm in allowing other views to be heard? The truth needs no protectors and will eventually win out, but nobody said it better than Holmes:

“When men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas—that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year if not every day we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death.”

Maybe you disagree with Justice Holmes. But thanks to the First Amendment, you are free to argue against him and let the best idea win.

Because the intellectuals who promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory refuse to "let the best idea win," each member of the Church--and each student at BYU--has the responsibility to investigate the facts for himself/herself.

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