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, April 17, 2020

The M2C triumvirate's model

Now is an ideal time to revisit the M2C model because, thanks to the corona virus models, people are learning what models are and what they are not. The constantly changing corona virus models are showing the public that these models are persuasion tools, not representations of reality. (See discussion below).

The M2C models are also persuasion tools, not representations of reality. The questions we discuss today are, what are they trying to persuade people to believe, and what are they actually persuading people to believe?

Currently, the Church's seminary and institute programs teach over 700,000 LDS students in over 150 different countries. 

Students learn about the Book of Mormon by studying the map below titled "Possible Book of Mormon Sites in Relation to Each Other." You can see it here:

The map is based on the M2C model of Book of Mormon geography. Our M2C scholars, BYU professors, and CES educators claim this reflects the best interpretation of the text.

To be sure, these faithful LDS teachers are trying to persuade students to believe that the Book of Mormon is "internally consistent" because they can make sense of all the geography passages.

They are also trying to persuade students to believe M2C. If they come right out and say "the prophets were wrong about the New York Cumorah," at least a few students will resist. Instead, they teach this principle indirectly by portraying Cumorah in a place that is anything but New York.

And, of course, they are trying to indoctrinate students in the M2C interpretation so that students will embrace the M2C application to Mesoamerica taught by Book of Mormon Central and other members of the M2C citation cartel.

But what do these models actually persuade people to believe?

BYU fantasy map
You don't need more than a quick glance to realize these maps are ridiculous because it fits no place on earth. 

These maps lead to only two possible conclusions:

1. The model is wrong.


2. The Book of Mormon is fiction.

Put yourself in the place of a faithful young LDS student. You attend seminary, institute, or a BYU campus. Your teachers present you with this map (or the even more ridiculous BYU map, below) to teach you how to understand the locations of the various sites in relation to each other.

If you're a typical student, you nod along and think, "Whatever." You're more interested in your friends, the coming weekend, sports, etc.

But the message will eventually sink in.

Your teachers are telling you that their best interpretation of the Book of Mormon describes a place that doesn't really exist.

Worse, it's a place that contradicts the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

Eventually, as you mature, you will reflect on this and the implications will dawn on you. Loss of faith in the Book of Mormon is one of the top reasons cited by members who leave the Church. This should be obvious by now. Joseph Fielding Smith warned about this problem nearly 100 years ago, when he declared that the two-Cumorahs theory would cause faithful members to become confused and disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon.

The tragedy is this: students are losing their faith because of a patently ridiculous model, not because of what the Book of Mormon says or what the prophets have taught.

The other tragedy is this: many Church members do not know, and will never learn, that there are interpretations of the text that not only corroborate and support what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah, but are also consistent with extrinsic evidence from archaeology, anthropology, geology, geography, etc.

The CES and BYU fantasy maps were published only in the last few years. If Joseph Fielding Smith warned about them nearly 100 years ago, what was he concerned about?

The original M2C map was developed by an RLDS scholar named L.E. Hills, who published his version in 1917. 

Hills decided that the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 could not be located in New York because, according to him, the events of the Book of Mormon had to take place in Central America (Mesoamerica).

He moved Cumorah to southern Mexico, highlighted by the red circle.

It was this map and the associated analysis that led Joseph Fielding Smith to issue his warning. He repeated his warning when he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but it didn't matter.

LDS scholars adopted Hill's M2C ideas anyway.

Probably the best-known version was created by Brother Sorenson, one of the M2C triumvirate. The other two members of the triumvirate endorsed the Sorenson map. 

When Brother Welch was Editor-in-Chief of BYU Studies, he put a link to this map right on the journal's home page. The new editor, also an M2C supporter, has retained the link, although he at least moved it off the home page. You can see it here.


We can discuss the M2C model now because people are learning what models are and what they are not.

The news is full of public discussion about the corona virus models used by public health experts to influence public policy. The models projected millions of deaths and led government officials to lock down national economies around the world.

Now that the actual infection and death rates are well below the projections from the models, people are reaching two different conclusions based on the same facts (seeing two different movies on the same screen).

1. The models were wrong.


2. The models were correct but mitigation flattened the curve to avoid the predicted disaster.

The situation is educating people about what these models are. They are not predictions of the future. Predicting the future is not possible, no matter how many variables, assumptions, and data you incorporate into a model. Models are merely mathematical representations of the experts' best guesses.

Experts create models primarily for persuasion. They know that the public (and therefore elected officials) will not act based on a mere recommendation. The experts create these models to convey a perception of reality, forcing government leaders to take the action the experts desire.

The corona virus models have changed dramatically in response to real-world data. This link discusses the difficulty of creating a model.


After persuading President Trump to shut down the economy by relying on early models, Dr. Fauci said recently, "I have always been and still am and will always be somewhat reserved and skeptical of models because models are only as good as the assumptions that you put into the models."

Public health is impacted by the virus, but also by shutting down the economy. Government leaders are struggling to find the optimum balance, relying on both public health models and economic models. But the models are best guesses, not the actual future. Eventually, there will be plenty of hindsight and blame to go around, and lots of people will claim credit for having warned against whatever bad outcomes materialize. 

No matter what happens, the public will shed its misplaced trust in the validity of mathematical models. Such models are fine for assessing policy alternatives, but we can all see now that they merely reflect the assumptions and preferences of the people who made the models.

The M2C maps taught by CES and BYU also merely reflect the assumptions and preferences of the people who made the models.

These maps expressly repudiate the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

As more and more Church members learn what the prophets have taught, and how extrinsic evidence supports and corroborates those teachings, they, too, will shed their misplaced trust in the validity of the M2C model.

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