Do you see how that is a fundamental logical thinking error?
Nowhere does the text of the Book of Mormon identify the "Western hemisphere," the "Americas," or even "America" as Lehi's land of promise.
There is no basis in the text for looking at any particular part of the world.
The only place the text excludes is the Arabian peninsula (because the directions given for Lehi's journey from Jerusalem lead to the coast of the Arabian peninsula).
Based on the text alone, the only requirement is that Lehi crossed "large waters" and arrived at a land mass.
Based on the text alone, Lehi could have landed literally anywhere. He could have landed in Australia, Chile, Guatemala, Florida, or Japan. He could have circumnavigated Africa and ended up in Italy.
Based on the text alone, choosing the "Americas" is as arbitrary as choosing Malaysia or Eritrea or anywhere else on the planet.
To discover the location of Book of Mormon events, we have to look outside the text for more information.
They say he could have easily carried the plates from Mesoamerica to New York.
By the same reasoning, Moroni could have carried the plates from Japan, Australia, or Italy. He just needed a boat to cross the same way Lehi did.
Because the text never mentions the name of Lehi's promised land, how do we know that Lehi's promised land of the Book of Mormon was in America?
Solely because Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery said it was. They reported what Moroni told Joseph and what they learned from their own experience. This includes both the American setting of the Book of Mormon and the location of Cumorah in New York.
Everyone else relied on what Joseph and Oliver taught.
Do you see the problem for M2C scholars, their employees and followers?
The sources they rely on to claim the Book of Mormon events took place in the Americas also taught that the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 was in New York.
Our M2C friends simply choose to:
- accept the teachings of the prophets about America generally, while they
- reject the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.
There's nothing logical about this. It's pure bias confirmation.
Ask any M2C believer why they are looking in Mesoamerica. They'll give you lots of rhetoric about north-flowing rivers, the "narrow neck of land," various "correspondences" with the extensive Mayan civilization, and, sooner or later, they'll throw in some teachings from the prophets about America. They'll probably tell you Joseph Smith wrote about Mesoamerica in the 1842 Times and Seasons.
What they won't tell you is that ultimately, the source of authority for America as the setting for the Book of Mormon boils down to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, who both also taught that the "hill in New York" is Cumorah.
This is the same irrational approach taken by the people who support SITH by quoting Emma Smith's so-called "Last Testimony" or David Whitmer's various statements. They accept the SITH material but they outright reject the rest of what Emma and David had to say.
To promote both SITH and M2C, our intellectuals simply reject what Joseph and Oliver taught in favor of their own private theories.
As always, I emphasize that people can believe whatever they want. There are faithful members of the Church who believe M2C. There are faithful members who don't even believe the Book of Mormon is a real history.
But there are also many faithful members who still believe the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah, the Urim and Thummim, etc.
These members have difficulty agreeing with the intellectuals that the prophets are wrong. They think M2C and SITH contradict the teachings of the prophets. They think the teachings of the prophets not only make more sense, but are corroborated by historical and extrinsic evidence.
Because our intellectuals mostly favor M2C and SITH, their citation cartels exclude those Church members who still believe the teachings of the prophets on these issues.
But maybe that will change someday. Especially as more and more Church members learn enough to make informed decisions.