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.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Radio show comments

Those of you who listened to my radio interview may have stayed on to hear my friend Martin Tanner provide a response that was sort of a rebuttal.

One problem with radio is they don't give you a chance to respond. I recorded the episodes last week, but my friend Martin was able to listen to my comments and respond live today. Had I been there, I would have pointed out the following. (I've heard all of Martin's arguments many times and I've addressed them on my blog, so I just wrote this up quickly. Sorry if there are mistakes. I'd be happy to discuss/debate any of this any time with anyone anywhere, but so far, the M2C intellectuals have refused to allow me to even present at their events, let alone discuss/debate them.)

1. M2C obfuscation. The M2C advocates such as Brother Tanner always obfuscate the issues and confuse listeners/readers by conflating the Cumorah issue with early speculation by other brethren about other sites (such as Lehi's landing). You will notice that throughout their literature, the M2C advocates commit this logical fallacy of deflecting from the New York Cumorah by referring to speculation about other sites.

What Brother Tanner forgot to mention: every one of the Church leaders Brother Tanner mentioned agreed with Letter VII about the hill Cumorah in New York. 

For that matter, every apostle/prophet who has ever spoken or written about Cumorah has affirmed its location in New York. No prophet/apostle has ever repudiated, challenged, or questioned that teaching.

Brother Tanner mentioned Frederick G. Williams, who Second Counselor in the First Presidency when Oliver Cowdery was the Assistant President. President Williams was one of the scribes who copied President Cowdery's letters into Joseph's personal history.

Wilford Woodruff was one of the leaders who explained that Oliver Cowdery had visited the records depository in the New York Cumorah.

Throughout his life, Orson Pratt stated unequivocally that Cumorah was in New York. When he divided the Book of Mormon into our modern chapters and verses, he added footnotes about the geography. He acknowledged he was speculating about Lehi's landing site, the location of Zarahemla, etc., but he state unequivocally that Cumorah was in New York.

(Note: Brother Tanner said that Orson Pratt taught that Lehi landed in Yucatan, but I assume he merely misspoke. Surely he knows that Pratt taught that Lehi landed in Chile, based on the Frederick G. Williams statement. FWIW, the Williams statement is hearsay, never endorsed by Joseph (let alone never republished multiple times the way Letter VII was, or copied into Joseph's personal history) and it mentions "thirty degrees south latitude." I suspect if Williams heard anything, he heard "thirty degrees latitude" and inferred it was south. But thirty degrees latitude north is right at the panhandle of Florida. The key point is, the Williams statement is murky hearsay. Letter VII is explicit and was published openly at Joseph's direction multiple times.)

The truth is, Church leaders have never wavered from the New York Cumorah. Only the intellectuals have repudiated the prophets by teaching Cumorah is somewhere else.

2. Prophets expressing opinions. Brother Tanner said Oliver merely gave his opinion, but did not claim revelation. Even in Letter I, when Oliver described the visit of John the Baptist to confer the priesthood, he did not characterize it as a revelation. He described it as a fact, the same way he described the location of the final battles.

Other prophets have declared their witness about the New York Cumorah.

Brother Tanner's rationalization here is precisely what President Benson warned against when he observed that "The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them, otherwise the prophet is just giving his opinion—speaking as a man." 


3. Taylor/Woodruff. Brother Tanner said I disagreed with John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, based on the anonymous articles in the Times and Seasons from September 15, 1842. What I actually said was, neither of them wrote those articles. But again, this obfuscates the Cumorah issue; neither Woodruff nor Taylor ever disgreed with Letter VII.

4. President Cannon. Brother Tanner cited George Q. Cannon's statement from 1890, but that statement was the exact point I made during my interview. Other than Cumorah, the Brethren have never identified a Book of Mormon site. The key is, other than Cumorah. Nine years after President Cannon's statement, his fellow counselor in the First Presidency, Joseph F. Smith, republished Letter VII in the Improvement Era. Brother Tanner and the other M2C intellectuals never tell people about that. If you want to see the links, I blogged about it here:

http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2018/02/getting-real-about-cumorah-part-5c.html and here:


5. President Ivins. Brother Tanner also quoted President Ivins from 1929, where President Ivins said the Brethren have never given a map of Book of Mormon geography. Again, that's exactly what I said in my interview. What Brother Tanner and the other M2C intellectuals never tell their audience is that the year before, in 1928, President Ivins specifically declared that the hill Cumorah, the site of Mormon's depository of Nephite records, is right there in New York where Letter VII says it is. You can see this at my post here:

6. Archaeology. Brother Tanner spoke about archaeologists in Mesoamerica who find evidence of warfare. But such evidence is found everywhere in the world. Human warfare is ubiquitous. This is another illusory correspondence between Mesoamerican culture and the Book of Mormon. The logic goes like this:

The Nephites had wars.
The Mayans had wars.
Therefore, the Nephites were Mayans.

The logical fallacy is obvious, but it's worse than that.

The M2C intellectuals don't even agree on a site for Cumorah in Mesoamerica, so they cannot say they have any evidence of the battles described in Mormon 6:6.

The M2C intellectuals have also published some phony comments about New York archaeology that I've discussed on my blog:



They also point to the high populations of 15-20 million people in Mesoamerica. But that contradicts the text of the Book of Mormon. Mormon tells us that a great number of men consists of 30,000. The largest army he ever assembled was 42,000 men. This is a much longer topic, but it's a classic obfuscation technique.

The M2C intellectuals first claim the Book of Mormon described an enormous population of many millions of people, but they have no passages in the text to support that. (The one reference in Ether has nothing to do with Nephites, and anyway doesn't refer to the final battle at Ramah/Cumorah, which had fewer than 10,000 Jaredites.)

IOW, the M2C intellectuals create a false premise, designed solely to justify their Mesoamerican theory. It's transparent circular reasoning.

For the New York Cumorah, there is abundant evidence. Heber C. Kimball, when he joined the Church visited Cumorah and wrote about the embankment that was still there at the time. He said he used to plow up iron. In fact, farmers in the area plowed up so much iron that a local blacksmith never had to buy iron from anyone but the farmers who brought it in after they plowed their fields.

Farmers around Cumorah used to plow up piles of arrowheads and other artifacts.

President George Albert Smith visited the Hill Cumorah in 1906 and reported this:

“We visited the Hill Cumorah and were accorded the courtesy of going thereon by the wife of Mr. George Sampson, a brother of Admiral Wm. Sampson, who before his death owned the property. When we went up there and looked around, we felt that we were standing on holy ground. The brethren located, as near as they thought was possible, the place from which the plates of the Book of Mormon were taken by the Prophet. We were delighted to be there. Looking over the surrounding country we remembered that two great races of people had wound up their existence in the vicinity, had fought their last fight, and that hundreds of thousands had been slain within sight of that hill. Evidence of the great battles that have been fought there in days gone by are manifest in the numerous spear and arrow-heads that have been found by farmers while plowing in that neighborhood. We were fortunate enough to obtain a few of the arrowheads” (Conference Report, April 1906, p.56).

Susan Young Gates recorded the following about a 1901 visit:

“Outside the farmhouse Elder Taylor and myself noted several bushel baskets filled with arrow heads and I asked Mrs. Samson (local resident) what they were. She said they had just begun to plow up the hill Cumorah and around the hill, to plant some crops, and they turned up these arrow heads by the basket full” (J. M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon , p.7)

Non-LDS archaeologists know that the Ohio Hopewell Indians migrated from Ohio to New York and vanished around 400 A.D. There is abundant evidence of the New York Cumorah that corroborates the teachings of the prophets.

7. Cement. Brother Tanner mentioned "cement cities" from Helaman 3, but anyone can read these passages and see what the text actually says. I've highlighted the key passages.

7 And there being but little timber upon the face of the land, nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly expert in the working of cement; therefore they did build houses of cement, in the which they did dwell...

9 And the people who were in the land northward did dwell in tents, and in houses of cement, and they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings.

10 And it came to pass as timber was exceedingly scarce in the land northward, they did send forth much by the way of shipping.

11 And thus they did enable the people in the land northward that they might build many cities, both of wood and of cement.

The first thing to notice is, they never mention building with stone and cement. They built with wood and cement. The examples given by Brother Tanner and other M2C intellectuals are buildings made of cut stone and cement, a manner of construction never once mentioned in the text.

Second, the Nephites preferred building with wood. In fact, they built houses of cement only until they could get enough wood to build "all manner of buildings." The only structure in the entire text that was made of stone was a defensive wall, of which there are examples in North America. But in North America, people primarily built with earth and wood, as the text explains in several places.

Third, the use of cement with wood corresponds to the way the Indians in North America built things. You can see an example right now at Cahokia, reconstructed by non-LDS archaeologists, of a large wall built of timber and covered with cement. This particular site dates to a post-Book of Mormon time period, but native people throughout North America built with wood, covered with cement. In some cases, they covered their sacred mounds with cement.

Fourth, the only known Nephite cement was the cement Moroni used to construct the stone box on the hill Cumorah in New York.

Fifth, imagine a place in Mesoamerica where there is so little wood that people have to build with cement. Mesoamerica is characterized by the 3 J's that are missing from the text; jade, jaguars, and jungles.

I could go on, but you get the gist. I'd be happy to address each of these points with my friend Martin (or any of the other M2C intellectuals) if they would ever agree to discuss them in person. I don't think that will ever happen because they don't want people to realize that they are outright repudiating the prophets. They avoid that cognitive dissonance by confusing people with other points, but we can't let them continue that tactic.

Sooner or later, members of the Church need to understand that the entire premise of M2C is that the prophets are wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment