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, July 10, 2017

Bonus fun with Cumorah - 2 million edition

Here's some bonus fun.
There's an online discussion about Cumorah at a web page I won't dignify with a link, but here's a comment that is classic Mesomania. I don't fault the person who wrote/posted it because he/she is simply repeating what he/she was taught. It's pure misinformation.

"So you're telling me you know the exact spot of the hill cumorah where more than two million soldiers along with their wives and children were killed in battle and the only evidence anyone has ever recovered from there is Zelph? No arrow heard, swords, chariots, etc? More than two million bodies killed and not bones, bodies or any trace of that civilization?"
Imaginary depiction of Cumorah battle from Mesomania Meridian Magazine
Of course, it was not whoever posted comments on the web page, but Joseph and Oliver who identified the exact spot of the hill Cumorah, as anyone who has read Letter VII knows. 

But because the citation cartel won't discuss that (and tries everything possible to persuade those who have read Letter VII that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church), we can't expect anyone educated at BYU to know about Letter VII. 

Nor can we expect anyone who has been educated by Curriculum Committee materials, including CES, to know about Letter VII.


Hopefully that will change soon.

In the meantime, let's look at the misinformation contained in this post:

"where more than two million soldiers along with their wives and children were killed in battle." 

I'm not sure of the original source of this misinformation, whether it was LDS, RLDS, or anti-Mormons who came up with it, but it is often repeated. Of course, the Book of Mormon itself makes no such claim. Nor does Letter VII.

Mormon says he beheld, from Cumorah, 20,000 of his people who were killed. These were his ten thousand and the ten thousand of Moroni. These were total people not just soldiers. You can read it yourself at Mormon 6:11-12, here.

In verse 13, Mormon speaks about all the others who "had" fallen, 21 leaders with their 10,000 each. I realize some have interpreted this to mean "had fallen and were visible from the top of Cumorah," but that's adding terms that are not in the text. The only ones visible were the 20,000 he says he saw from the top of Cumorah.

The war had waged for a long time, in an "awful scene of blood and carnage." From the top of Cumorah, Mormon could see the last 20,000 of his people, but he listed the other 210,000 who had been killed during the final wars. Nowhere does Mormon say he could see any of his people from Cumorah except the 20,000 who had been led by him and Moroni.

It's the same situation with the Jaredites. From Ether 15:2 we learn that Coriantumr "saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children." 

This was long before he and the remainder of his people fled to the hill Ramah, known as Cumorah by the Nephites. Even after the 2 million had been killed, there were more battles, in at least two of which Coriantumr was wounded. There is no accounting of the total number of people killed at Ramah. All we know is "that they did gather together all the people upon all the face of the land, who had not been slain, save it was Ether." We also know they fought for about a week. By the end of the 5th day, there were only 121 people left. The next day, 37 of Shiz's people were killed, and 25 of Coriantumr's people were killed. The day after, 59 people were killed, leaving only Shiz and Coriantumr. This is about 60 casualties a day. If we extrapolate back a few days, there wouldn't be more than a few thousand at most who died at Ramah.

I realize there are many ways to interpret these passages, but we're only given a few specific numbers and this seems the most reasonable way to interpret the text.

Oliver Cowdery explained all of this back in 1835 in Letter VII. [The link is to Joseph's own personal history in the Joseph Smith Papers.]

"In this vale [i.e., the valley west of Cumorah in New York] lie commingled, in one mass of ruin the ashes of thousands [the residue of the Jaredites], and in this vale was destined to consume the fair forms and vigerous [sic] systems of tens of thousands of the human race [i.e., Nephites and Lamanites]—blood mixed with blood, flesh with flesh, bones with bones and dust with dust!"

"Thousands" of Jaredites, which fits the text, and "tens of thousands" of Nephites and Lamanites, which also fits the text. Mormon wrote that he could see 20,000 of his own people. Presumably there were an equivalent number of Lamanites, more or less, so "tens of thousands" is spot on. And, of course, not all of these needed to be in the mile-wide valley. From the top of Cumorah, you can see more than a mile away.

Mesomaniacs and anti-Mormons continue to insist there must be evidence of 2 million dead Jaredites, plus their families, and 200,000 plus Nephites, plus their families and the dead of the Lamanites. 

But the text makes no such claim.

Oliver Cowdery (assisted and endorsed by Joseph Smith) said there were "thousands" of Jaredites killed in the valley west of Cumorah and "tens of thousands" of Nephites and Lamanites. 

Oliver and Joseph stuck with the text. I think the rest of us should, too.

"No arrow heard, swords, chariots, etc?"

Anyone who has visited the museums and private collections knows that many thousands of arrowheads and other weapons dating to Nephite and Jaredite times have been discovered from Iowa through the "plains of the Nephites" in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, all the way to western New York. Breastplates and headplates are well known artifacts as well. The text never mentions chariots in connection with these battles. 

We also have eyewitness accounts of boxes full of arrowheads, axes, etc. being uncovered on the hill Cumorah itself, although we don't know what happened to them yet, apart from some photos. We also have accounts of local farmers selling baskets full of arrowheads, kids trading them, etc. Today there are extensive private collections of all of these artifacts. 

The Mesomaniacs cite the articles by a BYU archaeologist to the effect that Cumorah is a "clean hill." I've addressed those in detail previously. You can search the blog if you want to read about why that claim doesn't hold up.

Non-LDS archaeologists say there were over a million mound sites in North America, many of them mass burials just as described in the text. 

It's simply a phony Mesomania/anti-Mormon requirement to demand evidence of millions of people being killed at Cumorah.

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