Tuesday, September 22, 2020

"It's not my theory"

The other day I gave a presentation at a conference about the Title of Liberty. I discussed five topics. One was the concept of "the land of promise." I briefly mentioned and quoted from President Marion G. Romney's talk "America's Destiny."

During the Q&A, someone asked me for scriptural support for my theory about the New York Cumorah. It's a valid question. However, the premise if false.

I replied, "It's not my theory. It's not even a theory. I just happen to believe what Joseph and Oliver said."

Apparently the individual had never heard of Letter VII, so I explained you can go to the Joseph Smith Papers, search for "Letter VII," and see for yourself, right out of Joseph Smith's own history, that Oliver Cowdery declared it was a "fact" that the final battle of the Jaredites and Nephites took place in the mile-wide valley west of the hill Cumorah where Joseph found the plates.

This misconception that the New York Cumorah is "my theory" or the "theory" of anyone else is fake news peddled by the M2C citation cartel. It was never a "theory." 

It has been fascinating for me to observe the gyrations that the M2C citation cartel has gone through to frame the New York Cumorah as a "theory." 

Framing the New York Cumorah as a "theory" began in the late 1800s when RLDS authors decided the LDS prophets were wrong because, to make their "limited Mesoamerican geography" work, Cumorah had to be in southern Mexico. This is the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, which I call M2C.

Gradually, some LDS scholars adopted the RLDS theory. By the time FARMS was founded in 1979, M2C became widespread among LDS intellectuals, despite the reaffirmation of the New York Cumorah by prophets and apostles in General Conference in 1975 and 1978.

Through the academic cycle, the M2C intellectuals trained a generation of LDS students to interpret the Book of Mormon as a "Mesoamerican Codex" that contradicted what Joseph and Oliver said about the New York Cumorah. Now, M2C has become the de facto position of the Church, despite the supposed "no position" position set out in the Gospel Topics entry on Book of Mormon Geography. (More on that later this week.)

Our current revisionist LDS historians have done everything they can to accommodate their M2C colleagues, but facts are facts. We can all read Letter VII, Lucy Mack Smith's history, David Whitmer's statements, Brigham Young's explanations, etc. Every one of Joseph's contemporaries and successors in Church leadership who has addressed the issue publicly has reaffirmed what Joseph and Oliver taught about the New York Cumorah.

Despite these historical facts, our M2C scholars and revisionist historians employ a variety of tactics to confuse members of the Church (as well as nonmembers). 

In a day when the Church is supposed to be more open than ever, these intellectuals have taken the opposite course.

They redefine words, they characterize early Church members (including Joseph and Oliver) as ignorant speculators, and they conflate the issue of Cumorah with the question of Book of Mormon geography generally. 

[It's funny to me that some of my critics resort to falsely representing my position to criticize me. They miss the basic point that as far as I'm concerned, everything other than Cumorah is a theory. Such theories are open for further study, discussion, and even revelation. Settings other than Cumorah involve probabilities and interpretations, but mostly bias confirmation. I don't even exclude Mesoamerica, although I think that's one of the least likely settings proposed so far. But "least likely" is not the same as "impossible."] 

The most common tactic used to enforce M2C is censorship. Book of Mormon Central and the other members of the M2C citation cartel are merely M2C advocacy groups who censor even faithful interpretations of the text if they challenge M2C. 

One of the worst examples of the influence of M2C is the Saints book, volume 1. To accommodate M2C, the authors and editors of the Saints, Volume 1, censored the term Cumorah to create a false historical narrative present. This is a technical term they use which means they claimed they presented Church history from the perspective of the people involved. That's fake news. Instead, the Saints book deliberately and falsely represents Joseph, Oliver and their contemporaries as having made no declarations about the New York Cumorah, as if it was just "a hill in New York" that had no relationship to the Book of Mormon. 

But in few seconds of searching on the internet, anyone can see that the Saints narrative is false. 

This week we'll discuss how M2C has influenced the Book of Mormon videos. This is even more unbelievable than the Saints book.

As for scriptural support, the Book of Mormon is full of references to geography that corroborate the New York Cumorah. Sections in the Doctrine and Covenants corroborate it also.

Interpretation of any text usually boils down to bias confirmation. Lawyers litigating contractual disputes and Constitutional issues try to persuade the factfinder (judge, jury, arbitrator) to confirm the bias of their clients. Politicians try to persuade voters to confirm their biases. Most of what we read in the media is an author's attempt to persuade us to confirm his/her bias. Modern journalism has degenerated into advocacy, easily detected by word choice, omission of relevant facts (censorship), and other rhetorical tactics. 

It's just as easy to recognize M2C as fake news, especially when the M2C advocates claim neutrality.

Recognizing this, I have repeatedly explained my bias: I believe what Joseph and Oliver taught about the New York Cumorah. Starting with that belief, I have found abundant extrinsic evidence that corroborates what they said. I've "confirmed my bias" on this issue. 

In the process of doing so, I have found the tactics of our M2C intellectuals, their employees and followers, ridiculously misleading. M2C "boils down" to repudiating the teachings of the prophets in favor of the theories of intellectuals. 

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I've also explained that I don't care what others believe. I'm not trying to persuade anyone to believe what Joseph and Oliver taught. If I was, I'd resort to the same tactics employed by our M2C intellectuals and revisionist historians.

Instead of censorship, I encourage people to read the material published by Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, et al. Read Saints, Volume 1, and see for yourself. 

Every individual, LDS or not, who is interested in the topic of Cumorah can read what Joseph and Oliver taught and make a decision whether to accept or reject what they said. That decision becomes your bias. Then you can find abundant extrinsic evidence to confirm your bias, whatever it is.

The claim that "the evidence" contradicts the New York Cumorah is a ruse. It is bias confirmation disguised as "research" that succeeds only by obfuscation and censorship.

That's my biggest problem with the M2C intellectuals and revisionist historians. If they were honest and forthright, I'd have no problem. I'd stop blogging about this topic. 

To be sure, they have stated their bias clearly. They all admit they don't believe Joseph and Oliver. But they do it subtly, and they get angry when I point it out.

I'd like to see this entire topic clarified this way. Imagine a large field with two big tents. Or a university campus with two lecture auditoriums. The public can decide with tent or auditorium to enter. Signs outside explain.

Before entering a venue, you must decide whether you believe or disbelieve what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taught about the New York Cumorah. This requirement reflects the principle of faith as well as the human psychology of bias confirmation.

Once you've made a decision, you may enter the appropriate venue.

If you believe what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taught about the New York Cumorah, enter tent/auditorium Number 1. 

If you disbelieve what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taught about the New York Cumorah, enter tent/auditorium Number 2.

Each tent/auditorium will present extrinsic scientific evidence that confirms your belief so you can leave the field/campus with your beliefs fortified.

Once you have completed work in one of the venues, you are free to visit the other one to understand what others think. 




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