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.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

some ideas are so absurd that only intellectuals believe them

The title of this post has been attributed to George Orwell, but I don't know if he really said/wrote it. He did write this, though: "An intelligent man may half-succumb to a belief which he knows to be absurd, and he may keep it out of his mind for long periods, only reverting to it in moments of anger or sentimentality, or when he is certain that no important issues are involved."

Tonight at a dinner party a few people mentioned to me that the idea of the Book of Mormon in Central America never made sense to them. "Cumorah is in New York," they inevitably say, "so why would Moroni haul the plates thousands of miles?"

That's nearly a universal opinion among members of the Church--except among the intellectuals and the fewer and fewer people who believe them.

I've commented on this topic on this blog for much longer than I expected to. I thought the issue would get resolved much faster than it has. I've addressed almost every issue I can think of, and there are reasons why I haven't addressed the few that remain. If anyone has a question about Book of Mormon geography that I haven't addressed, please email me. (I had to change comments to require approval because I started getting spam--that comes when the readership grows as much as it has--and I don't usually have time to approve comments, but I do check email regularly because it pops up whether I want it to or not.)


I have a new book scheduled for release next week, and another one about two weeks after that (in both cases, assuming all goes well). I'll mention those here on the respective release dates and give a preview. I think you'll like them. They both involve Church history. One deals specifically with Book of Mormon geography in a new way. New for me, at least. And certainly new for the reviewers who have been going through it.

After decades of reading the publications of LDS scholars and educators, attending lectures and conferences, and having discussions with members around the world, I find that the majority of what LDS scholars and educators are doing is helpful and insightful. The only category that I find perplexing is the absurd theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerican (or any of the other proposed locations that reject the New York Cumorah).

If Orwell's clever observation applies anywhere, it applies to these non-New York Cumorah theories.

Frankly, I'm not even sure the intellectuals believe them. I think it's more a matter of them wanting to believe (due to Mesomania) and doing everything possible to figure out a way to vindicate that belief.

That said, I'm always open to new ideas. Maybe someone somewhere sometime will come up with an argument for the Mesoamerican theory that doesn't portray Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery as clueless speculators who misled the Church about Cumorah. So far, I haven't seen it. 

I'm not going to hold my breath for that one, either.

On Saturday I'm going to announce my new Church history blog. I think we're going to have some fun with Church history in Gospel Doctrine classes this year. I hope to be able to keep up with all the lessons. I covered last years lessons on the Book of Mormon on my Sunday School blog. A lot of gospel doctrine teachers around the Church found it useful. I think this year's posts on Church history will be even better.

Here's looking forward to a wonderful 2017.

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