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.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Knowns, unknowns, and the M2C Bubble

The M2Cers* have constructed an elaborate theoretical scaffolding inside the M2C bubble to support their theory that the prophets were wrong about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon. 


To understand how and why, we first have to clarify that the question of Book of Mormon geography has two knowns and one unknown.

Known #1: The prophets have always taught that the New World setting for the Book of Mormon is "the Americas," which is a modern term that encompasses the terms used in Church history sources, including General Conference: "this country," "America," "this continent," the "Western Hemisphere," etc.

Known #2: The prophets have always taught that the hill Cumorah/Ramah (Mormon 6:6, Ether 15:11) is the same hill that Moroni identified as the location of the record that was "written and deposited" not far from Joseph's home near Palmyra, New York. There are multiple working hypotheses based on the known location of Cumorah/Ramah.

Unknowns. All the other locations in the New World that are mentioned in the text of the Book of Mormon. Apart from a few indications from Church history (the plains of the Nephites, Zarahemla, etc.), the prophets have always taught that we don't know the specific locations of Book of Mormon cities and features. This makes sense because so many archaeological sites throughout the Americas have been destroyed, disturbed, overbuilt, etc. 

It is the unknowns that have led to a wide range of theories about "Book of Mormon geography," as the entry on Book of Mormon geography explains. 

https://www.ldshistoricalnarratives.com/p/book-of-mormon-geography-essay.html 

_____

Key point: because Known #2 (Cumorah/Ramah) does not fit their models, the M2Cers have transferred Known #2 into the realm of the Unknown. They have accomplished this through a series of cascading assumptions, starting with the premise that Joseph and Oliver and their contemporaries and successors must be wrong about Cumorah because...

well, because the New York Cumorah just doesn't fit the geography models based on the M2C interpretation of the text!

There is no other reason to reject what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah/Ramah.

We are happy for people to believe whatever they want. But the M2Cers claim to be the intellectual superiors among Latter-day Saints. In any other context, the irrationality of the M2C approach would be quickly recognized and M2C would be rejected.

The New York Cumorah/Ramah doesn't eliminate Mesoamerica, per se, as one of multiple working hypotheses. I've seen several hypotheses about Book of Mormon geography that include both the New York Cumorah/Ramah and Mesoamerica.

But as for M2C itself, we are reminded of what George Orwell once wrote: "One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool."

_____

*M2Cers are those scholars and their followers who have adopted the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory that originated with RLDS scholar L.E. Hills in 1917.

RLDS scholar L.E. Hills, 1917


BYU Studies map

CES map
BYU fantasy map

Scripture Central map




Thursday, July 11, 2024

Podcast with Backyard Professor

I've been on several podcasts in the last year. I'm happy to have conversations with anyone about any topic because conversations are one way we can pursue clarity, charity and understanding.

Some podcasters, both believers and nonbelievers, don't welcome faithful views that differ from their own agendas. Such podcasters focus on confirming their biases. They seek conformity instead of encouraging their listeners and viewers to make informed decisions by considering multiple working hypotheses.

Fortunately, other podcasters are interested in clarity, charity, and understanding. Those are the ones I enjoy having conversations with.

For example, I recently had a conversation with the "Backyard Professor."


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYeZGZb3xBg&t=18s

The Backyard Professor, Kerry Shirts, was one of the founders of FAIR (FAIRLDS) and their director of research. Then he came to disbelieve the truth claims. He knows lots about the Restoration, although he sees it through the FAIR lens (M2C, SITH), a lens that many people find difficult to believe.

That's why I offer reframes in my book The Rational Restoration.

Kerry and I disagree about lots of things, and that's fine. As I always say, I'm fine with people believing whatever they want. Kerry and I are more interested in understanding one another than in trying to change one another's minds. I'd like to see more of that everywhere.

In this video, we discussed the FAITH model (Facts, Assumptions, Inferences, Theories and Hypotheses), as well as the recent Tyler Griffin interview with Pastor Jeff and other topics.

We'll probably have more conversations in the future.

_____

And who knows? Maybe someday even our scholars at the Interpreter, Scripture Central, and their allies would be interested in having a conversation.

So far, they've declined when I've offered. But hope springs eternal...

:)

 

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Update to "What if Oliver told the truth"

I updated my post to incorporate the graphic on the BYU Studies website, created by John W. Welch, that claims 2 million people died at Ramah.

https://www.lettervii.com/2024/07/what-if-oliver-cowdery-told-truth.html


"as plain as words can be"

By now, most Latter-day Saints presumably understand the distinction between "Book of Mormon geography," which is subjective and speculative, and the well-known and established prophetic teachings about the Americas and Cumorah.  

The Essay on Book of Mormon Geography focuses on the subjective and speculative aspects, as I discussed here:

https://www.ldshistoricalnarratives.com/p/book-of-mormon-geography-essay.html

Simply put, the prophets have long taught that (i) Book of Mormon events in the New World took place in "the Americas" and (ii) the Hill Cumorah/Ramah is the hill in western New York where Joseph obtained the plates. Thus, neither of those elements is the subject of speculation and are not encompassed by the term "Book of Mormon geography" as used in the essay.

In other words, the prophets have established these two elements "in plainness, even as plain as word can be" (2 Nephi 32:7).

The question every Latter-day Saint should ask is whether we will or will not "understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be." (2 Nephi 32:7)

_____

One of the "plain and precious" truths regarding the Book of Mormon relates to its divine authenticity as an actual history.

In 1835, President Oliver Cowdery spelled out this truth "as plain as words can be" when he wrote the first detailed history of the Restoration with the assistance of Joseph Smith. Responding to critics who claimed the Book of Mormon was fiction, President Cowdery emphasized the fact that the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites took place in the mile-wide valley west of the hill where Moroni had deposited the plates; i.e., the hill Cumorah in western New York. 

We can all read this account right in Joseph Smith's own history, here:

The contemporaries of Joseph and Oliver knew about Cumorah because Moroni had identified the hill as Cumorah when he first met Joseph, as Joseph's mother Lucy Mack Smith explained when she related what Moroni told Joseph. 

the record is on a side hill on the Hill of Cumorah 3 miles from this place remove the Grass and moss and you will find a large flat stone pry that up and you will find the record under it laying on 4 pillars


One of the reasons we know the events took place in the Americas and that Cumorah is in New York is because Moroni explained that to Joseph Smith the first night they met. 

He [Moroni] gave a general account of the promises made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigenes of this country...
He said this history was written and deposited not far from that place, and that it was our brother’s privilege, if obedient to the commandments of the Lord, to obtain and translate the same by the means of the Urim and Thummim, which were deposited for that purpose with the record.


Church leaders who knew Joseph and Oliver, as well as those who succeeded Joseph, reiterated the truth about the Americas and Cumorah repeatedly and consistently. A partial list is here: https://www.mobom.org/modern-prophets-on-cumorah

With all this "great knowledge," we repeat the question every Latter-day Saint should ask: will we or won't we "understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be." (2 Nephi 32:7)


Monday, July 8, 2024

Kno-Why 739

This Kno-Why 739 deserves a separate post. The pursuit of clarity, charity and understanding requires us to focus on clarity first precisely because without clarity, there can be no understanding. (Charity always applies, and we assume here, as always that the authors of this Kno-Why are acting in good faith.)

I first commented on it at the end of my previous post, but it's a little buried there. And I didn't point out another important point.

Let's look at KnoWhy 739, released just a few days ago.

Here's the link:

https://scripturecentral.org/knowhy/what-counsel-have-church-leaders-given-about-the-study-of-book-of-mormon-geography?

Actually, there's no need to read the whole thing. Just search for "Cumorah" and you'll see it's exactly what I predicted in my previous post.

It's all about "Book of Mormon geography" and never once explains or even cites the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah.

Instead, we get these two references.

Even the location of the Hill Cumorah, where the Jaredites and the Nephites were destroyed, was not considered a settled matter—certainly many assumed it was at the hill in New York, but at least one person proposed that it was in Honduras.[4]

[4] See “Mormonism,” Fredonia Censor, New York, 7 March 1832; Plain Facts, [1887], 3, [5]. Plain Facts is the earliest published suggestion that the Hill Cumorah, traditionally assumed to be in New York, may have been in Central America.

This KnoWhy, like so many others, is an insult to our intelligence. 

Rather than quote or even cite the teachings of the prophets, the KnoWhy dismisses Cumorah by saying "many assumed it was at the hill in New York." 

As if the prophets are a bunch of know-nothings who merely assume things they teach as facts.

It's beyond ridiculous, but it's consistent with the way some LDS historians violate their standards of professional ethics by refusing to cite, quote, or even address historical sources that contradict their theories.

Even the sole reference to Cumorah is laughable. The authors can't be bothered to give us a link so we can see the cited source in context, but it doesn't matter because we can all see it's absurd. 

In fact, if the article from 1887 accurately quotes the article from 1832, it should be obvious that when President Cowdery wrote Letter VII in 1835, specifically declaring it is a fact that Cumorah/Ramah is the hill in New York where Joseph obtained the plates, he was not only refuting the claim in Mormonism Unvailed that the Book of Mormon was fiction but was refuting this non-Mormon claim that Cumorah was in Honduras.

And yet, this Kno-Why passes for scholarship in some circles....

Now you know why I used to call these "No-wise" instead of Kno-Whys.

_____

Here's the clincher. Look at their graphic:


Not only do they feature the M2C fantasy map, but they actually quote 3 Nephi 26:9!

As if the Lord is promising us "the greater things" if we will only accept this fantasy map!

It's astonishing. Maybe the pinnacle of M2C hubris.

(We hope.)

The M2C cognitive dissonance blinds them to the simple reality that this verse applies directly to the setting of the Book of Mormon. 

Instead of traipsing around southern Mexico in search of the "real Cumorah" and concocting myriad theories about why the prophets were wrong about Cumorah/Ramah in New York, what if these scholars actually received and believed what the prophets have taught?

In my view, Joseph and Oliver taught the New York Cumorah originally because that's what Moroni told Joseph the first time they met and because they had visited the repository of Nephite records in the same hill. It's simple. We can all read the historical sources for ourselves.

Then, in response to claims the Book of Mormon was fiction (the Spaulding theory), Oliver and Joseph memorialized Cumorah as a fact in Letter VII, which was copied into Joseph's personal history and republished in all the Church-affiliated newspapers during Joseph's lifetime.  

Then, Joseph's successors in Church leadership reiterated the New York Cumorah, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

In terms of 3 Nephi 26:9, we could say "this" refers to the New York Cumorah, which the prophets gave us to try our faith. But because our scholars have rejected the prophets, and because many Latter-day Saints have chosen to follow the scholars instead of the prophets, "the greater things" have not been made manifest, just as the scripture warns.

But there is still time for all of us, as Latter-day Saints, to embrace the teachings of the prophets, with or without the scholars, in the hope and expectation that if/when we do so, the greater things will be made manifest unto us.

BMC's cognitive dissonance

All Latter-day Saints seek "no more contention." We all recognize that living and sharing the gospel is far more important than whether we agree on particular interpretations, theories, etc.

Yet BMC (the umbrella acronym for Book of Mormon Central, Scripture Central, ScripturePlus, etc.) continues to produce social media and other content that accentuates differences of opinion. They plant their social media with triggers that lead people ask me about the content. I usually ignore the BMC content because it's so repetitive, but when enough people ask me about it, I take a look. 

Lately, the cognitive dissonance BMC exhibits is becoming maybe worse than ever.

Let's discuss the latest content in the pursuit of clarity, charity and understanding.

_____

Last week we saw Tyler Griffin's cognitive dissonance on display during his interview with Pastor Jeff.

https://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/2024/07/tyler-griffins-cognitive-dissonance.html

The script for another media production by BMC's ScripturePlus is another example of BMC's cognitive dissonance.

Which very much resembles Tyler's cognitive dissonance.

This gives us an opportunity to specifically discuss the "Book of Mormon geography" meme.

_____

The first thing to note is the content is from ScripturePlus.

For those who may not know what ScripturePlus is, it's a superfluous app developed by BMC that 

(i) directly competes with the Church's Gospel Library app (which, by focusing on scripture instead of narrative, is actually neutral on geography) and

(ii) adamantly promotes M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory that claims the "real Cumorah/Ramah" is somewhere in southern Mexico, as opposed to what they deem to be the "false tradition" that the hill in New York was the actual Cumorah/Ramah).

Featured M2C art from ScripturePlus

Now let's look at the script.

_____

ScripturePlus July 5

The original transcript in blue, my comments in red.

I find it concerning that so many members of the church make Book of Mormon geography such a point of contention. 

As the host of the nomorecontention website, I fully agree with this concern. But the BMC script ignores on the source of the contention.

It's easy to eliminate contention when we value clarity, charity and understanding. But clarity seems to be the most difficult pursuit, so let's start with clarity in terminology.

Contention. We should point out that the term "contending" is often used in a pejorative sense to imply that "contention" is negative, counterproductive, etc. A common definition: "Contend means to compete for something or to claim something is true." Thus, we are commanded to contend:

Contend thou, therefore, morning by morning; and day after day let thy warning voice go forth; and when the night cometh let not the inhabitants of the earth slumber, because of thy speech. (Doctrine and Covenants 112:5)

It is contention "with anger" (3 Ne. 11:29) that is problematic, and surely that's what BMC's script means. When people have different ideas, a collaborative discussion, exchange, or comparison is productive, not contentious. 

Ideally, we would all seek "no more contention" through understanding instead of seeking to convince or coerce. That's why we encourage, instead of resist, comparisons and cordial dialog. We wish every individual and group would seek such dialog and comparisons in the pursuit of understanding.  

Terminology. "Book of Mormon geography" has become a euphemism for avoiding the underlying topic of Cumorah. We saw Tyler avoid the topic, and now this BMC script is doing the same.

"Book of Mormon geography" is a hobby, basically. Lots of people have lots of ideas on the topic. To the extent anyone is "contending" about geography, it's an intellectual clash of egos that can be easily alleviated by simple comparisons, combined with the pursuit of understanding and informed decisions instead of the pursuit of conformity, compliance, deference to scholars, etc. 

It's possible that BMC was referring to the internal M2C contention about which river in Mesoamerica is the Sidon, etc. Maybe Tyler's fantasy map, which incorporates the basic M2C beliefs, is a way to mitigate or minimize the internal M2C contention. If so, that's none of my concern.

But given this script comes from BMC, it more likely is referring to the same differences that Tyler did; i.e., Heartlanders vs M2Cers. 

Ideally, to avoid contention, we would have collaborative discussions, exchanges, and comparisons among the different ideas. But the BMC script glides right over the reality that BMC refuses to provide or accommodate such comparisons. 

That's why, in this context, the term "Book of Mormon geography" is a red herring that obfuscates the specific topic of Cumorah.

Backdrop. In one production, they used a map of the world along with Tyler Griffin's BYU fantasy map, which is based on the M2C interpretation of the text. For a discussion of that, see the end of this post.

It’s not a matter of salvation. 

In a sense, this statement is axiomatic--or should be. But BMC does not treat the topic this way. 

The BMC problem. If BMC is really concerned about contention, they should start by changing the organization's methods.

Far from deeming "Book of Mormon geography" as unimportant, BMC spends millions of dollars to promote M2C.  M2C is embedded in Scripture Plus. BMC refuses to acknowledge alternative faithful interpretations that embrace, instead of repudiate, the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah. If BMC didn't think the geography was so important, there's no justification for their obsession with M2C. 

And that gets to BMC's cognitive dissonance.

Like Tyler and BMC generally, this script fails to point out that to the extent there is "contention" it revolves around the credibility of the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah.

But even that is not really the source of contention. People can believe whatever they want. Some Latter-day Saints still believe what the prophets have taught; others don't. There's no reason for anyone to contend angrily about the topic. Everyone can simply own their beliefs. Live and let live.

The contention arises partly from the lack of clarity; i.e., the obfuscation generated by Tyler and other M2Cers who avoid clarity on the issue.

This is why the primary instigator of contention on this topic is BMC, including its management, employees, and donors. BMC insists that the prophets were wrong about Cumorah. The M2Cers have convinced themselves that (i) the Mesoamerican setting is the only permissible one and (ii) the "hill in New York" is too far away from Mesoamerica to be Cumorah/Ramah. 

In the memorable words of John Sorenson (co-founder of FARMS), 

"There remain Latter-day Saints who insist that the final destruction of the Nephites took place in New York, but any such idea is manifestly absurd. Hundreds of thousands of Nephites traipsing across the Mississippi Valley to New York, pursued (why?) by hundred of thousands of Lamanites, is a scenario worthy only of a witless sci-fi movie, not of history." 

Mormon's Codex, p. 688.

BMC still adheres to this portrayal of the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah. It should be obvious to every Latter-day Saint why some of us find that portrayal objectionable.

Most of us who still believe the teachings of the prophets don't feel a need to contend about it. We're fine with people believing whatever they want. But we also face the reality that BMC has set itself up as the "experts" on Book of Mormon and other scriptural topics, and we're frequently confronted by M2Cers who vociferously complain that we disagree with the scholars. And we also face the reality that BMC employees/affiliates publicly misrepresent what we believe.

[Note: It is a common motif for scholars to set themselves up as authorities. Think about the name Scripture Central. It declares itself the "center" for the scriptures, as if the Church (and the scriptures themselves) should not be the central source for studying the Gospel. And we can't forget the Interpreter, as if those scholars are the ones authorized to interpret the scriptures for the rest of us who are not part of the "credentialed class."] 

Contrary to their claims of neutrality, BMC still refuses to accommodate alternative faithful interpretations.

For more on BMC, see the end of this post.

To reiterate, if BMC sincerely seeks to eliminate contention, BMC (including Scripture Central and ScripturePlus) will:

1. Readily, openly, and unambiguously acknowledge that they reject, repudiate, and otherwise supplant the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah/Ramah because those teachings contradict their own theories of Book of Mormon geography; and

2. Readily, openly and unambiguously acknowledge that other faithful Latter-day Saints can and do accept, embrace, and rely upon the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah/Ramah, which they consider corroborated and supported by extrinsic evidence of anthropology, archaeology, geology, geography, etc.

We can all see that such changes at BMC would eliminate the source of all contention on this topic. 

It does not affect the truth claims of the church, or Joseph Smith’s calling as a prophet. 

This framing skirts the issue. It's axiomatic that modern ideas about geography have no bearing on historical facts. But that's not the point.

We can all see that Oliver Cowdery, as Assistant President of the Church and with the assistance of Joseph Smith, declared it is a fact that the hill in New York is the Cumorah/Ramah of the Book of Mormon. By repudiating what he wrote, BMC is directly undermining the credibility of both Oliver and Joseph. 

Likewise, we can all see that Moroni told Joseph the record was "written and deposited not far from" Joseph's family home near Palmyra, that it was Moroni who told him the record was deposited in the "hill of Cumorah," etc. References.

The M2C cognitive dissonance arises from the inconsistency between these twin beliefs: 

(i) Joseph and Oliver were reliable, credible, and honest witnesses of the restoration but 

(ii) Joseph and Oliver misled the Church (and the world) about the New York Cumorah/Ramah (as well as the translation; i.e., SITH).

And the Church has made its position on Book of Mormon geography exceptionally clear. 

Here, BMC uses the term "Book of Mormon geography" to obfuscate the issue. The script proceeds to discuss "geography" without mentioning Cumorah, just as the article being quoted does.

In the earliest days of the Church, most members and leaders subscribed to what we call a hemispheric geography, meaning they supposed the Book of Mormon may have taken place all over the Americas, with central America acting as the “narrow neck” of land the text describes. 

By now I'm sure everyone can see how this is a red herring. While some Church authors wrote about the "hemispheric" geography, it was never stated as a fact. 

Even when Orson Pratt created the footnotes in the 1879 official edition of the Book of Mormon, he clearly differentiated between speculation (e.g., it is believed...) and fact (the Hill Cumorah is in New York). See https://www.mobom.org/orson-pratts-1879-footnotes

That distinction was always in effect. That's why people refer to "Book of Mormon geography" as a speculative topic separate from Cumorah, which is a topic the prophets have explicitly taught. 

It took time and serious study to determine that based on the text of the Book of Mormon, it had to have taken place in a much smaller geographical area. 

M2C theory: Joseph Smith studying Stephens and Catherwood instead of the plates
 
Here, BMC's cognitive dissonance is evident. First, because BMC has repudiated what Joseph and Oliver taught about the New York Cumorah/Ramah, here BMC implies that we can reject what they said because they lacked "time and serious study," as if their personal experiences were irrelevant.

Second, the "time and serious study" that led to M2C was the work of L.E. Hills, an RLDS scholar who published the first M2C map in 1917. (See his map below.) The work of John Sorenson, Jack Welch, and the rest of the M2Cers was derivative of Hills' work.

Third, the script frames M2C as a fact ("it had to have taken place"), not one of many theories. 

But even then, church members have always had a diversity of opinions and have never declared a single official Book of Mormon map. 

This is true regarding "Book of Mormon geography" but not regarding the New York Cumorah, which was taught from the outset and repeatedly reaffirmed. Once we clearly define terms, we can all see how this deflection works. 

In 1890 First Presidency member George Q. Cannon said that the First Presidency has never consented to make a map and no one in the Twelve would undertake to do so without further information. 

This is another axiomatic statement that everyone can, or should, agree with. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of possible Book of Mormon sites, not even counting those that have been long since destroyed, plowed over, etc. But again, it's irrelevant to the question of Cumorah. 

In 1920 the Church removed modern geographical references to the Americas that Orson Pratt had added in 1879 because the Church felt it could not present as demonstrable fact any map of Book of Mormon lands. 

Another red herring. The committee was led by Elder James Talmage, who, like other Church leaders, repeatedly taught that Cumorah was in New York. Knowing Cumorah/Ramah is in New York does not resolve the locations of other sites, so no reliable map can be constructed based on the text alone. Every map ever created is based on a series of assumptions about what the text means, not on any facts. The only clear, unambiguous fact taught by the prophets is the New York Cumorah/Ramah.

Previous and current church leaders continue to emphasize that while we can and should study the text of the Book of Mormon and form our own opinions, we should not present them as definitively true or inspired. 

Everyone involved with this discussion follows this advice regarding our own opinions. But the teachings of the prophets are not our own opinions.

The Church’s most recent statement says, 

Individuals may have their own opinions regarding Book of Mormon geography and other such matters about which the Lord has not spoken. However, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles urge leaders and members not to advocate those personal theories in any setting or manner that would imply either prophetic or Church support for those theories. All parties should strive to avoid contention on these matters. 

This is a 100% accurate and awesome statement that fully applies to personal theories; i.e., the question of "Book of Mormon geography." 

To the extent that is a topic of contention, we all agree it is more of a sport that no one should take too seriously, and certainly not as a question of truth vs error because it's based on assumptions.

But notice that the statement never mentions Cumorah. This reiterates and enforces the clear distinction between "Book of Mormon geography" and Cumorah.

After all, the First (initial) First Presidency wrote and endorsed Letter VII, and every member of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve who has ever publicly addressed the issue has reaffirmed the New York Cumorah/Ramah, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference. 

Anything beyond the New York Cumorah/Ramah is "Book of Mormon geography" that consists of personal theories, as the statement clearly recognizes and we should all embrace.  

To dive in deeper on the Church’s history with Book of Mormon geography, read KnoWhy 739 at Scripture Central. 

Again with the reference to Scripture Central as the authority. 

Before reading KnoWhy 739, I can predict its content. But we already know that because it comes from BMC, the KnoWhy will (i) promote M2C and (ii) implicitly repudiate the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah/Ramah without actually mentioning those teachings.

BTW, it's cool that the website kno-why.com, which is not affiliated with BMC, includes a mission statement that BMC would do well to emulate. I remain ever hopeful to see the day when BMC actually comes to believe in transparency and collaboration!

We believe in transparency and collaboration.

There are no “black-box” approaches to our work.  A lot of what we do is specialized and takes training to understand, and we will always work with you to make sure you see how things were done, why they were done that way, what the tradeoffs or limits might be, and what steps we took to address those limits.  Every process we engage in is open, and everything we produce is the result of a collaboration between us and our clients.   With this approach, our reports and findings remain useful and understandable long after the projects are completed. 

I'm also curious who BMC considers as its "clients." At least so far, BMC has rejected as "clients" all faithful Latter-day Saints who still believe what Joseph and Oliver taught about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon.

Hopefully that will change one day.

_____

Okay, now let's look at KnoWhy 739, released just a few days ago.

Here's the link:

https://scripturecentral.org/knowhy/what-counsel-have-church-leaders-given-about-the-study-of-book-of-mormon-geography?

Actually, there's no need to read the whole thing. Just search for "Cumorah" and you'll see it's exactly what I predicted in this post.

It's all about "Book of Mormon geography" and never once explains or even cites the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah.

Instead, we get these two references.

Even the location of the Hill Cumorah, where the Jaredites and the Nephites were destroyed, was not considered a settled matter—certainly many assumed it was at the hill in New York, but at least one person proposed that it was in Honduras.[4]

[4] See “Mormonism,” Fredonia Censor, New York, 7 March 1832; Plain Facts, [1887], 3, [5]. Plain Facts is the earliest published suggestion that the Hill Cumorah, traditionally assumed to be in New York, may have been in Central America.

This Kno-Why, like so many others, is an insult to our intelligence. 

Rather than quote or even cite the teachings of the prophets, the Kno-Why dismisses Cumorah by saying "many assumed it was at the hill in New York." 

It's beyond ridiculous, but it's consistent with the way some LDS historians violate their standards of professional ethics by refusing to cite, quote, or even address historical sources that contradict their theories.

Even the sole reference to Cumorah is laughable. The authors can't be bothered to give us a link so we can see the cited source in context, but it doesn't matter because we can all see it's absurd. 

In fact, if the article from 1887 accurately quotes the article from 1832, it should be obvious that when President Cowdery wrote Letter VII in 1835, specifically declaring it is a fact that Cumorah/Ramah is the hill in New York where Joseph obtained the plates, he was not only refuting the claim in Mormonism Unvailed that the Book of Mormon was fiction but was refuting this non-Mormon claim that Cumorah was in Honduras.

And yet, this Kno-Why passes for scholarship in some circles....

__________________

Additional material:

M2C background of BMC

 


From its inception, even going back to its predecessor at FARMS, BMC used a logo that represented the Book of Mormon with a Mayan glyph. Recently they changed the logo, but it still adorns their publications and some of their websites.

BMC's corporate owner, Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum (BMAF.org) is a long-time Mesoamerican advocate that still hosts articles attacking alternative faithful interpretations.




BMC features a Spanish-language site that explicitly teaches M2C.

The fantasy map.

For one example of how the fantasy map uses the M2C definition, it portrays the "narrow neck" as an isthmus that connects continents and conflates the scriptural terms "narrow neck," "small neck," and "narrow neck of land." Other interpretations treat different terms as different features, and incorporate the ordinary usage in Joseph Smith's time, such as how George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others used the terms to describe local features.

The fantasy map portrays the Hill Cumorah/Ramah as being located along a seacoast in proximity to the isthmus that connects two continents; i.e., definitely not in New York.

Cumorah according to Tyler's fantasy map

Cumorah according to the CES map

Cumorah according to BYU Studies, BMC, and the rest of the M2Cers

The origin of M2C: the 1917 map by RLDS scholar L.E. Hills.