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, February 29, 2016

More on Cumorah and fairmormon

I keep having people ask me to write more on this blog. Believe me, I have a ton of material. But I'm also aware that people get easily offended when their work is criticized, and I don't intend any offense to any person. My comments are directed purely at the material; as I've always said, I wish the Mesoamerican articles and books were anonymous so I didn't even know who wrote them. I'm unimpressed with lists of initials after names anyway, unless their expertise is apparent from what they write, in which case the content speaks for itself anyway. Too many people think a PhD entitles them to opine on whatever they want, without even the need to cite facts and make rational arguments.

It seems many people are too attached to what they write to look at it objectively and accept critique, criticism, or even peer review (for examples, read anything published by the Interpreter). No wonder Benjamin Winchester wrote so much unattributed material in the Times and Seasons; he, like many Mesoamericanists today, had pretty thin skin. I make changes in my books and other material as soon as people make me aware of errors, and I wish everyone did. (I'm also unimpressed with "black box" faux scholarship that publishes conclusions without disclosing underlying data and assumptions.)

That said, on a personal level I like the Mesoamerican proponents. They are good people and I think they've done some useful work. Given their objectives (which are limited to research and evidence of the Book of Mormon within a Mesoamerican context and finding Mesoamerica in the Book of Mormon), their work is excellent.

There's one area that I will continue to write about, though: the Hill Cumorah. On my consensus blog, I posted a proposal that everyone agree on some historical facts. By everyone, I mean LDS historians, authors, artists, and proponents of Mesoamerica, Baja, Heartland USA, New York, Pennsylvania, Eritrea, Malaysia, Peru, Colombia, Panama, and wherever else people think the Book of Mormon took place.

For that matter, how can any group of people reach a consensus if they can't agree on well-documented, unchallenged, and really unequivocal historical facts?

If you encounter, correspond with, or read or hear the work of anyone who writes or speaks about Book of Mormon geography or historicity, ask whether they agree with the Cumorah facts I listed on the blog here. If they reject these facts or equivocate, then you know they're pursing an agenda, not the truth.

That sounds extreme, but facts are facts. If the facts I listed are inaccurate in any way, I'll immediately change, modify, or delete any errors.

What I'm most concerned about is people pretending to be experts but suppressing facts. Often this happens when well-meaning experts in one field make statements outside their area of expertise, which is why you should ask what they think about these Cumorah facts. People can interpret facts any way they want, but don't let anyone suppress or hide the facts.

As I wrote there, I bring this up because of authors and speakers, articles, books and web pages that, in my opinion, deceive readers by suppressing these facts. A case in point is fairmormon here. Anyone seeking information about Cumorah who goes to fairmormon will be outright deceived by the sophistry of the rhetoric there and the suppression of the facts of Church history. Fairmormon doesn't mention Oliver Cowdery or Letter VII, Joseph's inclusion of the letter in his journal, or the multiple reprintings of the letter. They do mention Joseph Fielding Smith, but instead of quoting his extensive analysis or even providing a link, they provide only a misleading summary and conclusion.

I've written about this before but fairmormon hasn't changed the page. That tells me they don't want members of the Church--or investigators--to know the truth. This casts doubt on everything else they publish. It's fine if they want to squeeze a Mesoamerican interpretation out of the facts, but they should trust their readers enough to make up their own minds, and I don't think anyone who reads the actual history will agree with the sophistry on display at fairmormon.

I'll write about the fairmormon comments on archaeology soon.
Maybe it's naive on my part, but I think there are fair-minded people at fairmormon who do seek to pursue the truth instead of promote an agenda. If they exist, and they're listening, they need to fix that page ASAP.

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