Comments about ‘Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Great Lakes Book of Mormon geography’

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Published: Monday, Dec. 6 2010 6:00 a.m. MST

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Omaha, NE

I don't get how people can spend their lives looking for something like this. Is this the Mormon equivalent of "Eldorado" and they will search forever thinking it is just over the next hill.

Lehi, UT

I find it interesting that people spend their lives fighting the BoM.

Only Christ saves us, and the BoM, with the Bible, testify of Him. It has changed the lives of the millions who know that it's true.

The historical evidence that the BoM is true is also mountainous, and, while more comes forth daily, we are left to sort it out and figure out the details: when, where, why, etc, and then learn, in humility, the lessons these cultures have to teach us about our own, and about our common God.

I agree that DNA, along with the other evidence, doesnt prove the BoM, really nothing can, even if we again had the plates (which have already been witnessed), only the Spirit changes humble minds on these issues, and even that can be argued away, just as the other evidence can and is. Even the round earth is argued away by some.

However, those claiming DNA (or anything else) disproves the BoM are misleading, sometimes intentionally.

Recent studies, including morphology and DNA support the BoM.

@cmtman lw: "Gnostic" broad term. Many mainstream knew about pre-earth. Most modern Christians would be heretical in Origens day.

Otis Spurlock
Ogden, UT

Michael Ash wrote:

"In several earlier articles, I demonstrated that DNA cannot currently (and might never be able to) verify the Book of Mormon. Those who claim otherwise, or who claim that DNA SUPPORTS their particular geographic model, buttress their claims by cherry-picking scientific quotes and distorting their context while actually rejecting the very science behind DNA research. In a recent review of the topic published by BYUs Maxwell Institute, Dr. Gregory Smith details why the DNA-proves-the-Book-of-Mormon claim is false."

This is probably the most intellectually honest that Michael Ash has been, up to this point.

Salt Lake City, UT

Michael, notice that the tone and tenor of this article is much more strident than most of your work. But, continue to appreciate your writing on these subjects.

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

Again, I appreciate Mike's willingness to dismiss "Mormon Myth". He knows that his job is to factually support his testimony of the Book of Mormon. That the BofM is not historical is not an option for Mike and yet I appreciate that he is attempting to make his case using reason and fact as much as possible. There is no question that many will come to a different conclusion. But he is willing to dismiss common myth among Mormons that are all too easily spread and accepted as long as they are faith promoting.

Perhaps requiring just as much courage is the requirement of admitting that much that has been said by Prophets and Apostles was speculation and opinion. That makes it very difficult today to really know what was/is revelation versus speculation/opinion but apologists like Mike are willing to call it out when leader's statements do not mesh with the facts on the ground.

The gap in logic in MUCH that is LDS is a struggle for me and others but I sincerely appreciate people like Mike who work to support their testimony through reason and logic (with faith) as much as possible.

Provo, Ut

If we are going to accept any model, then we have to consider more than just "where did The Book of Mormon history occur". Seeing as we are dealing with a book that has yet to prove itself as a literal history, we also have to ask the broader question of "Where does the Book of Mormon and its author/translator purport that these alleged events occured?". Joseph Smith pigeon holes either a limited geography great lakes model, or a migratory model that eventually places the last great battle of Nephites and Lamanites in Missouri. Furthermore, again (as I have stated on other posts) what reason do we have to believe that according to lore, Moroni was intended to have buried the plates anywhere other than New York? Every theory related to transporting plates has been 100% contrived in order to satisfy some type of alternative geography model. Also, we have to bear in mind the possibility that problems in the various models, particularly relating to DNA and race, may be more of a product of poor fictional narrative than actual DNA or science.

Brother Chuck Schroeder
A Tropical Paradise USA, FL

I'm confused now. History is still history, no matter how one spells it. So Michael R. Ash, plans to spend the next several issues discussing the Great Lakes Book of Mormon, as if he's a real expert here, for arguments of a Great Lakes model that varies from proponent to proponent and ranges from scholarly and informed to naïve and uninformed. When we are all linked to Adam and Eve, (we would have had to eat the forbidden fruit also, otherwise it would be from incest we wee placed here), he says that DNA cannot currently (and might never be able to) verify the Book of Mormon. Seeing we can't hold them in hand, could it then be that the problem is that the relics are all fakes and hoaxes produced, buried, never really discovered, and marketed by several men looking for fame and fortune only?. Then, tell me, what does support the Book of Mormon?. Other then word's alone ?. Am I not right ?. You tell me then.

Scottsdale, AZ

What separates biblical Christianity from other religions is its ability to point at actual historical events that are externally verifiable to a very high degree. Christianity is faith built on real history. This is one of its most distinguishing marks.

It astounds me that many Mormons are giving up on the BoM being an actual historical account, and yet they still believe in Mormonism. Faith must be built on something real; it must be founded on reality! When the historicity of the BoM is denied, then all of Mormonism must be conceded to be a sham.

Thus, Mormonism must be classified as a purely existential faith, one without historical credibility. Societies that existed on the magnitude that the BoM purports do not simply vanish without a trace. We even have a good idea of the location of Sodom and Gomorrah, and God wiped them off the map personally.

Credibility for the BoM cannot be based on the credibility of the Bible. I've seen a lot of Mormons try this on DesNews. The BoM must stand or fall on its own merits. It's also appalling how little attention Mormons give to their apostles' teachings on the matter.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

There should be no confusion at all. The only way to prove the Book of Mormon will always be via what it says in the book itself. Everything else will always be conjecture or supposition. Some will say will this proves it false where others will say no it only proves it to be true. Until one really reaches out and asks with a broken heart and a contrite spirit whether it be true will the answer come in the affirmative. Nothing else really matters because it either confirms one faith of a lie falsehood or that it is definitely true. It is another testament of the Divinity of Jesus Christ. No other book on the face of the Earth answers the questions, where did we come from, why are we here and where do we go after this life except the Book of Mormon. No other book reflects upon God's dealings with man in more abundance than the Book of Mormon. Taking the Bible and the Book of Mormon gives us the complete and total Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You can only prove it via the Holy Ghost and only via the Holy Ghost.

las vegas, nv

jm- I was happy to hear there is a mountain of historical evidence to support the Book of Mormon. I would very much appreciate you sharing that with me. I have not been able to find any of this evidence. I understand to truly know if the book of Mormon is true, one needs to pray and have the spirit confirm its truth. It would also be nice to see the evidence you are talking about. PLEASE HELP

Provo, Ut

Brokenclay: I am amazed at the Christian tendency to turn the logic button on and off at will. Biblical Christianity has no support of any historical events that are relevant to Christianity. Does Jerusalem exist? Sure, but there is no proof of Christ ministering there. Does the Mount of Olives exist, sure, but again no proof that Christ sweat blood there. Did Sodom and Gomorrah exist...well that one is as doubtful as Book of Mormon. The OT says it did, so good Christians of the world search the map trying to find plausible geography models to force a fit. Of course they never entertain the proposition that the whole thing is fiction. No different than Mormonism.

Bill in Nebraska: The Book of Mormon says nothing of where we came from, i.e., the pre-existence. Interestingly it offers no more of a unique perspective on heaven than does the Bible - no degrees of Glory, etc. I've long thought that if Christians understood the Book of Mormon they accept it as Christian-friendly and direct their opposition to the D&C.

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

To brokenclay -

You stated, "It astounds me that many Mormons are giving up on the BoM being an actual historical account, and yet they still believe in Mormonism."

I don't know if you are LDS, were formerly LDS, or personally know many LDS. I assume one of the above as the reason you are interested in this site.

But a belief in the LDS faith goes SO much deeper than whether or not the BofM can be proven historical. My experience in the church leads me to believe that the majority of members only know a sliver of the doctrinal and historical issues that could lead an outside, objective observer to believe Mormonism is false. And many of them look at men like Mike Ash and say "the research has been done and they still believe so there is nothing to worry about".

It is inherently vital for most members to think that way because for most LDS the truthfulness of the church goes to the utter CORE of all they are, value, and hope to be. For most there is no option that the church is not what it claims. That would destroy their very foundation.

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

To Mormoncowboy -

In responding to Bill in Nebraska you said something that I have always thought about. LDS members almost reflexively say that the BofM is the cornerstone of all we believe and gives us all we need to know to inherit eternal life - or something along those lines. I know cause I've said it a million times myself.

But a close reading of the BofM gives us very little of what is found in the restored Gospel. It DOES give us a deeper insight to the atonement and certainly can be considered a second witness to the Savior. That is all wonderful but so much that is modern day Mormonism comes through the D&C and modern revelation from JS on down.

Temples, Priesthood ordinances, WofW, garments, church administration, plural marriage, - the list can go on and on. But outside of the Savior and having faith and being good, so much that we would all coorelate to Mormonism is not in the BofM.

I agree that most Christians who gave the BofM an unbiased reading would say that it seemed to be a Christian based adventure novel with little or nothing to do with Mormonism.

lake forest, ca

Mormon Cowboy,Biblical Christianity has no support of any historical events that are relevant to Christianity," Wrong.
"In those days Caesar Augustus(27 B.C- 4AD.) issued a decree that a census should be taken in the Roman world.(Luke 2:1-6) The birth of Jesus grounded in Historic Characters.
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost ,born of the virgin Mary, suffered and died under "Pontius Pilate"(actually lived).(Apostles creed) The death of Jesus is grounded in History. Not a fairy tales once upon at time there was the Book of Mormon?

but again no proof that Christ sweat blood, True.
Luke 22:44 is missing from the earliest manuscripts p66 and p75. These are also missing from Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus (mid 4th century).
But Joseph Smith didnt know the Greek variants appeared centuries later per scribal addition... See footnotes a, b, and c. = Mosiah 3:7; D&C 19:18. ( Luke 22:44 LDS KJV.)

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

To Idaho Coug and Mormoncowboy:

Maybe in a certain sense you could be right but if you read Alma 13 you will see that it does talk of a time before the earth was created, Alma 34 gives you what this life is all about. A prepatory time in which we are here to prepare to meet our Heavenly Father and where we go after we die. It doesn't tell us about the many kingdoms but it does tell us where we go between paradise and spirit prison.

Also, as far as the Doctrine & Covenants does is to clarify much of the Bible and the incorrect teachings associated with the creeds. Much of what happens in the Temple can and is found in the Old Testament if you look hard enough you will find it. To state that much of Mormonism is not found in the Book of Mormon you must look at what the four cornerstones of the Church are:

1: The first vision of Joseph Smith
2: Joseph Smith as a Prophet of God
3: The Book of Mormon
4: Jesus Christ - the Chief Cornerstone.

Taking away the Book of Mormom and we have no religion.

Aspiring Theist
Sandy, UT

Bill in Nebraska,

I am not trying to judge your spiritual experiences, but it seems quite often in these discussions the point comes up that an answer to a sincere faithful prayer is the only way to know the Book of Mormon is true scripture.

There are people who have read and prayed (as earnestly as they could) regarding the Book of Mormon and not received an answer. So they continue to look for other evidence.

It doesn't appear from my perspective that a spiritual witness is always absolute proof. I have a neighbor who prayed about the Book of Mormon and received an answer "from God" that the Book was completely true BUT that the LDS Church is in apostasy today.

So, did God give him the first answer and Satan the second answer in the same prayer?

Unfortunately there are examples of people who have received a spiritual witness and "know" something is true only to find out later they were wrong. Mark Hofmann's father is one example. He received a spiritual witness that his son was innocent but sadly we all discovered this was not the case

layton, Ut

Bill in Nebraska, "1: The first vision of Joseph Smith 2: Joseph Smith as a Prophet of God
3: The Book of Mormon 4: Jesus Christ - the Chief Cornerstone."

#1 for Christians: Jesus is the Chief corner stone, (Psalm 118:22) cited six times in the New Testament (Matthew 21:42,Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, Ephesians 2:20 and 1 Peter 2:7). He is the reason for the season and the Christian faith.
# 2 and 3. The inspired version of (Is 29:14 JST), The book (BofM) shall be delivered to a man, verse 16, by the power of Christ verse 17,three witnesses. The Dead Sea Scrolls the Apostles Bible (Septuagint) 250 A.D. and KJV all refute this false prophecy of the BofM and JS.
#4, I lost count of the number of first visions of Joseph Smith. By faith he (Moses) left Egypt, not fearing the Kings anger; he saw him (God) who was Invisible.( Hebrews 11:27)

the truth
Holladay, UT

RE: brokenclay | 12:24 p.m.

Mormons actually do believe the BOM is historical account,

but since it an abridgement of greater records,

it does NOT contain a full historical account.

But NO history will, and NO historical evidence will, no por no pive metal, nothing physical will be able prove that Joseph Smith is who says he is,

or Jesus, or Nephi,... nor any biblcal or BOM prophet,

At some point you will have to exercise faith and belief.

That is the number one requirement of religion and test of our existance here.

ONE BIG problem with trying to use a "narrow neck land" as a basis for BOM lands,

is all the "narrow necks" chosen are only narrow when seen from above,
when chosing a place it must_be visually narrow to the eye and the perspective that these ancient people would have seen it.

Hence it is not michigan or part of mexico, or panama.

It is much more narrow,

and there's no evidence in the BOM that it even separated, or soley separated, the lands north and south, or the seas, it seems to have no geographic significance other_than a great_city was built nearby.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

To Sharrona:

As I stated before Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The others are the other cornerstones. That is why people have to discredit Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon to prove it is false.

This has been going on for 150 years plus and the Book of Mormon continues to be the witness that converts people to the Church. Many things of the Bible have been lost or removed on purpose. The Bible has gone through so many translations that things have been removed and the creeds of the early church were removed to satisfy in more ways than one that of Charlamange. The Bible testifies of the Great Apostasy that beset the early Church and the restitution of all things. Isaiah, Daniel and others all testified of this apostasy to take place.

The Book of Mormon is the most correct book on the face of the Earth. It is this book that will convert one. It is the Holy Ghost that testifies of truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. All else is Satan's work.

Provo, Ut

Bill in Nebraska:

I think Alma 13 is a good counter in some respects, to the argument that The Book of Mormon does not mention a "pre-existence". Still, it needs finer clarification for it to be and endorsement of the Mormon concept of our "pre-earth life", which may have been a better phrasing on my part. There is little debate in the Christian world that God is without beginning of days or end of years, but where Mormonism is different is on the idea that we too, as Gods spiritual offspring, share that quality with him. Alma 13 does address Gods pre-existence, but speaks of our beginning as from "the foundation of the world", which is consistent with "mainstream" interpretations of the Bible. Secondly, according to this chapter, God pre-selected his High Priests based on a foreknowledge of what would be their earthly righteousness. This runs contrary to some interpretations of Abraham 3, where such decisions were made based on a level of righteousness in a "pre-earth life". While it may be argued that there is enough ambiguity in these scriptures to not rule out a consistent interpretation, it is stretching the literal content.

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