Comments about ‘Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: True scholarship vs. wishful thinking’

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Published: Monday, Jan. 31 2011 5:30 a.m. MST

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Charlottesville, VA

There is a noteworthy alternative theory that also places the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica, but uses the Isthmus of Rivas as the narrow neck of land instead of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The theory is made more plausible by the fact that the land between Lake Nicaragua and the Gulf of Mexico is swampy and impassable.

The biggest problem with the Tehuantepec model is that the isthmus is too big, and the presence of very ancient ruins on its north shore show that it has been that wide since Jaredite times (contrary to certain theories that it used to be narrower due to the north shore being submerged).

Scottsbluff, NE

"The case for the Book of Mormon as an authentic ancient text should only be supported by rigorous scholarship and not by wishful thinking and the misuse of scholarly data."

There is absolutely no DNA evidence of any migrations into the Americas from Jewish people during the Bible or Book of Mormon times. None. DNA does not disappear. Jewish researches in the Old World find DNA of their people dating back to the Book of Mormon periods. None is found in the Americas. Recent studies have even indicated Neandertal mating with Cro-Magnon more than 20,000 years ago, but no evidence in America of Jewish people mating with American Indians less than 2,000 years ago.

There is absolutely no scientific or archaeolgical evidence in the Americas to support the Book of Mormon. None. All scientific attempts to make a case for it as an authentic ancient text are wishful thinking. Science does not support it.

I was taught that the case for the Book of Mormon was from Moroni's promise. Evidence for the Great Lakes, Meso-American and Hemispheric models are wishful thinking. The only way to scientifically support these claims is from misuse of scholarly data.

Murray, UT

As I read this series of articles, I am becoming confused about their purpose. My initial thoughs were that Mr. Ash was going to give some physical evidence, or at least, continue his tack of explaing why a lack of evidence does not mean that evidence does not or did not exist. For the last several weeks, this week included, he seems to be making a case against some evidence that has been accepted or considered plausible in the past. I would like to see the article change course to demonstrate more positive findings.

I personally read the BOM everyday, and in doing so it is easy to see why a certain amount of critism exist, but that does not mean that the BOM cannot also contain a message that can improve our lives.

Somewhere in Time, UT

Apparently some are uninformed that there is actually a MOUNTAIN of evidence that supports the BofM. There is also some matching haplotype evidence that has been found among the Maya. However, since we have no sample of Lehi's DNA I don't know how it would be possible to know if it matches or not.

Actually, there are Jewish groups in the world today who cannot be matched up with other Jewish groups. That's a fact.

In order to properly study DNA one has to study the DNA of populations and not the interpolation that has been put forward by those who take the work of those who have no population DNA research and make it fit their model of "No DNA evidence." Much of the evidenc has been misinterpreted and therefore is without merit.

Clearly some people get up pretty early to attack the Church. One needs to have the scientific understanding of one who has studied population DNA in order to find that the "No DNA evidence" does not hold water.

Don't lose faith in the things you know because of the things you don't know. The evidence will come along.

Lehi, UT

Thanks Mike. still reading but busy.

There is naturally disagreement on precise BoM American locations, since Zarahemla culture was destroyed before we could map. We know Jerusalem, Red Sea etc, which helped Mike accurately describe Lehis route, finding OW details that were so impossibly accurate that, after LDS scholars located the route and places, doubters theorized that Joseph had some miraculous map, or access to nonexistent libraries etc. (anything but faith that our Father in Heaven still gives prophetic gifts and answers, as promised).

As I read the BoM and Mikes articles Im learning the American details are just as precise, but without known starting points like Jerusalem it takes longer. If the BoM were fiction Joseph would have described something easy, fitting with his own personal theories. Instead, Joseph translated details impossible for him to know, then guessed like the rest of us "not going to declare positively."

That these details are beginning to be located seems upsetting to our professional Critics, who resort to posing as many, fabricating, distracting, pretending, denying mountainous evidence (and DNA is as expected, discussed for months), claiming testimonies aren't important or Temple required, everyone is doubting it, etc.


Lehi, UT

Thanks honest LDS.

I agree that Izapa stele dont prove the BoM. I read the FARMS articles etc.

However, as everyone knows, I never just go along with anything.

And theres still 99.9999% chance Izapa5 is related to Nephis dream (thats not positively to say descended from, but related), everyone is allowed to disagree of course, with my opinions, but I think scholars made hasty assessments trying to get away from other hasty assessments.

Im prepared to defend that with non-LDS references soon as everything slows down here...

I think Tehuantepec is only too wide if we read into the text.

No time to read all Critics this week. The false claims have been exposed repeatedly anyway, but they might continue denying real evidence, and falling to pieces because Mike implied Joseph maybe didnt say something some thought he said. Then EVERYTHING will be opinion and everyone must believe the BoM isnt historical and recommends no longer require testimonies etc.

Not sure where this logic originates, but the things we know Joseph said can still be attributed to him, what we know God revealed to him is still revealed to him, and the BoM is always true... : )

ex missionary
Sandy, UT

hmmm... they taught the hemispheric model to the young women in our branch yesterday. The Branch President and a High Councilman were there.

Why is there so much confusion in the church about hemispheric and limited geography models? You would think that for something as important as the BOM is to the church that they would get everyone on the same page. Instead it seems they let local units teach whatever is "faith promoting" and don't worry so much about aligning beliefs with evidence or truth.

Provo, Ut


I'm not sure what evidence you are referring to here. So far, as I have read Mr. Ash's comments, while still believing in The Book of Mormon, he more or less concedes that there is really no evidence thus far - with the possible exception of Nahom/NHM. Even that is debatable, but if there is anything that even brushes the domain of evidence, NHM is it. In fact, the very article we are commenting on is a critique of wishful thinking relative to those trying to prove the BoM true. So, where exactly is this mountain of evidence?

Bountiful, UT

Ash makes a good point that wishful thinking cannot compete with true scholarship. Unfortunately, I find much of what Ash and other apologists write to be in the category of wishful thinking rather than true scholarship. Nearly all of the apologists start with a conclusion that the claims of the Mormon church are true and then work from there without even accepting the possibility that the whole thing may be false. This is not true scholarship, but is the very definition of wishful thinking.

Magaju win
Scottsbluff, neb

It would be nice to use scholarly data, but whose do you chose? Scholarly data that is made up and not by true science that is published in professional journals for peer review?

All the clues were given in the book of Mormon but many refuse to see it. They are blinded by Gold and the love of money and by those who say they are scholars but deny the true science and the words of God and Christ himself. Why does a man deny the words of God? There has never been a land where people flock to but the US (North America) or place of freedom. Who decides what is a mans word choice or Gods words? I thought Joseph smith was a prophet who stated through Christ words where the BofM lands are?

I can only surmise that a man has lost his faith in the BofM and is using lies to promote his faith because he cannot come to grips of the truth and has refused the words of Christ and Moronis promise. Faith is believing without proof.

Salt Lake City, UT


The tree of life is symbolism that dates back for millennia in all types of cultures, ancient Egyptian, the Torah, Christianity, etc. Your assurance index of 99.999 ad infinitum that the Izapa 5 is directly stemming from or related to Nephi's dream is more of a faith index and certainly not a believable probability statistic.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

Faith alone will prove the Book of Mormon true. That in and of itself is proof of the Book. Trying to prove it scientifically will not be done until the Lord is ready for it to be done. DNA is trying to mix a known Jewish DNA, not the DNA of Lehi who is of the House of Joseph. As I have stated before, you can be a Israelite without being a Jew but you have to be a Jew to be an Israelite.

The ten tribes have been scattered across the world and are now in the process of being gathered back together all around us. The Lord has given us a promise in the Book of Mormon that stands without question. Asking for proof of this magnificent book is like one asking God for a sign it is true. He has already told you how to prove it true but ye of little faith can't see it because of the blindness of your hearts.

Until you put your faith in God, asking with a sincere heart with real intent, nothing will ever come of the truth. It is there for you, just ask in Faith, nothing wavering.

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

I am as frustrated by the lack of solid, verifiable, objective BofM evidence as anyone. But I truly appreciate Mike Ash's efforts to support his testimony through real evidence even to the point of questioning or dismissing some favorite LDS "evidences" that have proven unsubstantiated.

I think Mike realizes that holding up evidences that really are not substantiated may prop a few testimonies in the short term but hurts the overall BofM defense in the long run. It is probably better to say there is currently no evidence or only minimal evidence than wave a long list that eventually falls under real scholarship.

I think critics can even appreciate his desire to support his testimony in a way that has not been done by most LDS scholars and apologists.

JM - is there anyone that you cannot criticize? And which posters do you think are posting as the same person? This has been your mo from the beginning so it shouldn't surprise me. But I still love ya and honestly do appreciate your zeal and testimony. I just wonder if you appreciate anyone's view that does not match your own?

Aspiring Theist
Sandy, UT

Bill, I am not sure faith alone will work for everyone. I am glad it has worked for you and it has worked for a few friends of mine.
I am hesitant to go on just feelings without other support. An acquantance just joined the Eckankar religion because it felt good. Some people have read and feel God has directed them to the Scientology faith.
I have a neighbor who was once LDS and has what seems like an unshakable faith in the Book of Mormon. He left the LDS Church and joined a Fundamentalist offshoot because God told him to. He is sure, however, that the Book of Mormon is true.
All of these situations make some of us needing more than a feeling (no disrespect to Boston)to base our conclusions.

Provo, Ut

"I think Mike realizes that holding up evidences that really are not substantiated may prop a few testimonies in the short term but hurts the overall BofM defense in the long run. It is probably better to say there is currently no evidence or only minimal evidence than wave a long list that eventually falls under real scholarship."

I have been critical of Mr. Ash, but I would agree Idaho Coug in compliments of Ash's efforts. While we are at disagreement on the underlying thesis of faith in the Mormon Church, I applaud Mr. Ash's efforts to put honesty in scholarship at the forefront of this series.

I would however add a slight addendum to the above quoted comment. Efforts for Book of Mormon scholarship should not be broached from a "what's best for the Church" platform based on long-term vs. short-term horizons, but strictly from a position of integrity. In reporting the evidence and findings, honest conclusions should be the goal regardless of which side of the Mormon divide that finds us. Anything else is scholarship in name only.

Tucson, AZ

Isn't a burning in the bosom a sign? Typical LDS argument. "You can't ask for signs! Pray and God will tell you its true?" How? By giving you a sign.

Tucson, AZ

I wish someone could explain Nahom more clearly to me. Certainly "NAHOM" as typed on this keyboard was not the way it was spelled by the Arabs/Jews in Lehi's time. Was a rock with "NHM" discovered? because I don't think our alphabet was in use back then. How can an artifact discovered in the last 100 years be linked to the English translation of the BOM without the original plates? The rock is not engraved in English? correct?

layton, Ut

Bill in Nebraska: Faith alone will prove the Book of Mormon true. That in and of itself is proof of the Book.?" No,circular reasoning.

Saving faith is only as good is the object of that faith. The God of the Bible.
Built on a foundation of Apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the Chief cornerstone.(Ephesians 2:20)

And in the (Christian not LDS)church God has appointed FIRST of all 'Apostles',Second prophets(1 Cor 12:28). Prophets are not the first line of Christian authority.,but for LDS.
First'Apostles',in (Mt 16:18)Peters confession of faith that Jesus is the messiah . In (1 Cor 3:10,11) Paul says no one can be a foundation that is already laid, The Biblical Jesus. Not an exalted man.
Second N.T. prophets, people to whom God made known a message for his people that was appropriate need or situation, (1Cor 14: 3-4)

The old prophetical order or office. The law and the prophets were proclaimed until John(Luke 16:16). John the Baptist was the dividing line between the O.T and N.T..

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

To Sharrona: Everything you've stated actually proves the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

By your reasoning the TRUE Church is not on the Earth because there are no Apostles or Prophets by your definition.

Yet you cite a scripture that tells you that the TRUE Church must have Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, Deacons, Evagelists and etc. Therefore, all you've done is prove to all that the only true Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The God of the OT is Jesus Christ as directed by his Heavenly Father. Brokenclay gave some scriptures a while back and again he misunderstood them as well as My Lord is Jesus Christ but the Lord of Jesus Christ is God the Father who sent him to Earth.

As God is man may become and as man is God once was is true. We are all heirs to all that the Father has if we excerise Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and obey his commandments. We are saved by the Grace of Jesus Christ after all we can do. Again this is in the Bible, not the Book of Mormon.

Your teachings are false.

layton, Ut

Bill, "As God is man God once was is true"(Lorenzo Snow). We are saved by the Grace of Jesus Christ after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23). Again this is in the Bible, not the Book of Mormon? Wrong.

The old prophetical order or office. The law and the prophets were proclaimed until John the Baptist(Luke 16:16). In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets but in these LAST Days he has spoken to us by his Son (Hebrews 1:1,2)
Today whenever a person claims to have a prophetic message from God it has to agree with God's word. Example, They tell us that the BofM states that Jesus was begotten of the Holy Ghost. "I challenge that statement The BofM teaches No Such Thing! Neither does the Bible!J Fielding S. See Alma 7:10 & Mt 1:18.
First in line of the LDS church government is the prophet then comes the apostles and so on. But the Bible specifically says in ICor 12:28, First Apostles, Second prophets.
The wall had twelve foundations, and on them were the name of THE twelve Apostles..,(Rev 21:14)

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