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.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Two conferences compared

On March 21 I previewed two Book of Mormon conferences.

Both conferences recorded many if not all of the presentations. I hope they both make their respective presentations available online so everyone in the world can compare for themselves. If they do, I'll post links in this blog.

In the meantime, here are my observations.

The Book of Mormon Evidence conference lived up to its name, providing an abundance of evidence of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. The conference exceeded expectations, with dozens of speakers on diverse topics that represented a variety of views and approaches, with speakers from diverse backgrounds (religious and cultural). There were six concurrent presentations from 9 am to 9 pm. The biggest problem was handling the crowds. Safety rules limited seating in some of the rooms and sessions had overflow. At least one added a second session over lunch, which was also full.

The conference was lively, spiritual, informative, intellectual, and motivational. Everyone I saw was having a great time, taking notes, asking lots of questions. Speakers took live questions from the audience, even during their presentations. There was a Board Room where audiences could meet with speakers after each presentation. I spent over two hours in the Board Room after one of my presentations, engaged in answering questions and having wonderful discussions.

The Book of Mormon Central America conference was about as stark a contrast as I've ever seen. I really like the participants on a personal level, but that makes the Mesomania psychology that causes them to promote M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) all the more sad.

The conference was well organized, with slick technology, but there were only 8 30-minute individual presentations, plus a year-in-review and an award, for a total of about 5 hours of material. This did not even measure up to one hour at the Evidences conference (with 6 simultaneous events every hour).

Obviously, 30 minutes leaves little time to develop a message, but from what I saw, presenters had barely 30 minutes worth of material anyway. In fact, in 30 minutes, they still had some time for questions. BTW, they didn't allow open mikes; questions had to be submitted on cards (which allows screening, of course). This contributed to the antiseptic feel of the conference, and I couldn't tell why they were so afraid of an open mike, since there were only a few hundred people in the audience, probably about 99% of whom have been completely indoctrinated (brainwashed) to believe M2C. (I say 99% because in addition to me, I suspect there were at least 3-4 other people who see through the M2C smokescreen, but I can't be sure of that.)

Even with such low attendance, there was no Board Room opportunity to question the speakers on a personal level. The presentations were academic and intellectual, but sterile, as I'll explain in a moment.

Book of Mormon Central America once M2C
runs into the teachings of the prophets
Book of Mormon Central America (https://bookofmormoncentral.org/) is really nothing more than an elaborate, high-tech vehicle for bias confirmation. Attendees and presenters were trying to reassure one another that yes, M2C is "true" in some sense.

To anyone outside the Mesomania bubble, it is obvious that Book of Mormon Central America is desperately trying to keep afloat the leaky boat of M2C.

Worse, they actually think their boat is an invincible battleship instead of the Titanic it is.

If anyone questions that metaphor, you should have attended the conference. Watch the videos of the presentations for yourself when they're available and you'll see what I mean.

Book of Mormon Central America so highly insecure about M2C that they censor alternative perspectives. Just compare this blog, which freely and frequently links to BOMC and other members of the M2C citation cartel, with the things they publish and post. They studiously avoid any ideas that contradict, or even question, M2C. That's why you will never read the teachings of the prophets and apostles about the Hill Cumorah on Book of Mormon Central America. They don't allow diversity of thought (apart from the ongoing and absurd dispute about which river in Mesoamerica is the Sidon).

The first presentation was a review of 2017's activities by Book of Mormon Central America. The accomplishments consisted mainly of adding to the archive, developing some virtual reality "experiences," posting more KnoWhys, attracting social media participation, and publishing the Knowing Why book (reviewed here https://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2017/11/knowing-why-bomc-censors-north-american.html).

The one accomplishment they forgot to mention is how many LDS (and potential investigators) they persuaded to disbelieve the prophets. 

By now, we all realize M2C is entirely dependent on the idea that the prophets and apostles were merely expressing their opinions about the New York Cumorah, and they were wrong because the M2C scholars know better than the prophets and apostles.

I can't tell if the young people who are helping to promote M2C at this conference realize what they are doing, because most LDS people below age 30 have no idea what the prophets have actually taught. But certainly the management of Book of Mormon Central America knows what they're doing. They're deliberately asserting their intellectual superiority over the teachings of the prophets.

I did my own review of Book of Mormon Central America's activity here:

I didn't attend the Roper/Fields presentation because I've seen their work many times and commented on it plenty already. It's always pure confirmation bias because they refuse to make their methods, database and software publicly available. In this case, I agree with their bias that the Book of Mormon had multiple ancient authors, so I didn't need further confirmation. I spent the time visiting the exhibits.

After the break, Brother Mark Wright, a very personable, fun and bright guy, did a presentation titled "In the Fields and in the Forests": Mesoamerican Ecology and Cosmology in the Book of Mormon

Looking back, I was astonished at how accurate my prediction was:

"This will be interesting and informative because Brother Wright is an excellent presenter, but it will be just another example of illusory correspondences between the Mayans and the Book of Mormon. Brother Wright has been one of the most reasonable and rational M2C promoters, but, IIRC, he's one who has said he "can't unsee" Mesoamerica in the Book of Mormon, and that bias is evident in his work."

I couldn't tell whether Brother Wright realized he actually made my argument during his presentation.

He spoke about religious syncretism, which is term for incorporating one religious tradition or belief into another (or the fusion/blending of two or more religious beliefs into a new system). His thesis, as I understood it, was that Nephite Christianity was incorporated by the Mayans into their religious beliefs and traditions that existed before Lehi landed. He gave as examples the early Christian use of Greek gods to avoid persecution.

That example alone suggested that religious syncretism is a common human practice. No need to get very academic about it; even Wikipedia gives plenty more examples (including the "Latter Day Saint movement").

I think we can all agree that human societies incorporate many ideas into their beliefs and traditions. We wouldn't expect the Mayans to be any different. But does that mean they incorporated the Nephites' law of Moses and Christianity?

There is zero evidence of that. Instead, the M2C promoters offer evidence of similarities or "correspondences" between Mayan culture and the M2C interpretation of the text.

Mayan culture is definitely interesting, but it has nothing to do with the Book of Mormon. The "parallels" cited to support M2C and thereby repudiate LDS prophets are illusory because similar parallels can be found (or imagined) between the Book of Mormon and every human culture throughout time and throughout the world. 

The Mayans, like most human cultures, had gods that represented various aspects of creation, sacrifice (including blood sacrifice), death and resurrection, etc. There are variations among cultures, but these elements are ubiquitous. E.g., http://www.deathreference.com/Py-Se/Sacrifice.html.

I'd be interested if anyone can find a human culture anywhere in time or space that doesn't have "correspondences" to what the Book of Mormon text describes. In fact, it's that universal quality that makes it possible for people of every culture to "liken the scriptures to themselves."

But that is no reason (or excuse) to reject the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

I'll have more to say about the conferences later this week.

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