Comments about ‘Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Mapping Book of Mormon lands’

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Published: Monday, March 14 2011 6:30 a.m. MDT

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Scottsbluff, NE

The Middle East used the North star and the sun's path through ecliptic. Mesoamerican used the point directly overhead and horizon. It is a huge difference and evidence that BofM migrations did not happen.

The idea of north being up is not correct. There were six directions, four on the horizon, up was the heavens and down was the earth. The heavens were not a directional reference for north on the horizon as implied in today's article. The north star was not a fundamental reference in Mesoamerica as compared to the Middle East.

Another point not mentioned is the use of sacred geographical features such as mountains or cities. These could be more important than east or west, north or south on a map.

Attempts to fit BofM geography by using these concepts fail because the ancient Middle Eastern astronomy must be discarded.

Old World astronomy would have been the method of Lehi and does not work in America. Ancient American astronomy and directions on the ground are different from the Eurocentric ideas.

For further reading:

The Observation of the Sun at the Time of Passage Through the Zenith in Mesoamerica, Archaeoastronomy, no. 3, 1981

Pickle Juice, The Key to a BCS
Clinton, UT

This is the least plausible of all of Ash's articles to date (and that is saying a lot).

Ok. Nephi built a boat. Lehi got a Liahona compass. They sailed accurately between continents. Nephi built a temple with specific directionality of an east-facing entry.

But they got confused when they got here about which way the sun rose and set?

Also, it should be noted, especially to Ash, that:

"If He [God] wants the geography of the Book of Mormon revealed, He will do so through His prophet, and not through some writer who wishes to enlighten the world despite his utter lack of inspiration on the point."
- Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, 5:83

Lehi, UT

Another Great article! : )
Don't know if we'll see any of this in comments? "...impose that understanding on ancient or foreign cultures." And, I wonder if anyone commenting here has become critical of the BoM because they are a little nervous about leaving their modern Shire, and still trying to impose that point of view upon all of us. ; )

I still think that if Joseph Smith were making up the BoM he would have never guessed at any of this not in the OW or NW(other cultural directions, water covering much of the isthmus, accurate Mesoamerican "up," "down," around etc). He would have made a simple map, fitting with his culture, not one that scholars are barely beginning to understand!!

Anti-Mormons: lw you suggested I stick with one item. Thats good advice for all. Geography is a great subject, I have much to learn on that. Im already 100% confident that Beringia cant possibly explain the full spectrum of Native America, or the mountains of evidences, parallels etc. There is enough evidence for anyone seeking the truth, but no evidence, no reference etc will change your lives, only you can do that, through faith.

Searching . . .
Orem, UT

JM: Why the "Anti-Mormon" label for those who disagree with your reasoning? Most posts on these forums have been rational and have not attacked Mormonism; rather, they point out possible logical fallacy of apologetic arguments. It's the sort of back-and-forth I would expect in any debate. Placing your critics in a maligned grouping may appeal on an emotional level, but it doesn't help the rational argument at all. Personally, I am not anti-Mormon; my family is active LDS, I was raised LDS and it is still a large part of who I am. Disagreeing with the Church's version of its history and the historicity of the BoM does not fill me with a need to destroy the Church. I'm pro-logic, and so far haven't seen an apologetic argument that satisfies my questions.

As for Beringia, I can agree with you. There is no reason why others couldn't have sailed over. Prove to me that Lehi was one of them.

As for Michael's article, he needs more space for his arguments. His explanation has holes and doesn't eliminate other models.

Bountiful, UT

And the list keeps growing... horse means tapir, elephant means mastadon, steel means wood, the Hill Cumorah means not the Hill Cumorah, thousands means millions, North means South, East means West,... Ash is truly a master of double meanings.

My head is spinning again.

JM: "He would have made a simple map, fitting with his culture."

You mean like the Verne Holley map that fits better than any map an apologist has ever produced, straight from Joseph Smith's backyard and "fitting with his culture."

Provo, Ut

Well, I'm not going to pretend to know enough about how the ancients collected their bearings, to have a sense as to whether this is reasonable or not. Of course, we are talking about the cartography practices of a culture who's very existence is in dispute - so I guess anything goes. Assuming for a moment that Ash and/or Poulsen, have actually stumbled on to something here, we should be able to start digging now, right? Perhaps it's time to stop digging in the text, and start digging in the ground. Follow the biblical archaeology method - develop theories from the book, and study them in the ground. To date, that is where all Book of Mormon studies seem to fall flat. Even if the Book of Mormon theorists could contrive a perfectly plausible model, based on known Old World history and arachaeology, we still have nothing without conforming evidence.

Provo, UT

Dr. Poulsen's review of Norma's BOM Geography book begins with this little story:

"...someone coming upon a man busily studying the ground under a lamppost. He asked the man what he was looking for and offered to help. The man told him that he had lost his pocket watch and graciously accepted the offered help. After searching fruitlessly for some time, the helper asked the man, 'Where did you lose the watch?' The man responded, 'Over there,' indicating a location about fifteen feet away outside the pool of light shed by the streetlight. Aghast, the helper asked, 'Why are you searching here by the lamppost instead of over there where you lost your pocket watch?' The man answered, 'The light is better over here.'

When on a snipe hunt in my youth, I found it telling that those who declared the existence of the snipe, an imaginary game bird purported to resemble quails or pheasants or what have you, always seemed to spot a snipe or its tracks in dark, obscure areas not easily illuminated by light.

LDS apologists are want to look for BOM evidences in places "because the DARK is better over there".

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

To Mormoncowboy:

Actually after reading numerous books on the Subject of Mesoamerica what Mr. Ash has presented is more than feasible but very trughtful. Also, for what they have gathered in the area in questions is that people in the area date back to and past the Book of Mormon era. they have found items that literally substaniate everything in the Book of Mormon as far as a warlike people, metals as described in the Book of Mormon and other artifacts. The biggest problem is that much of where they want to dig is going to be overly expensive because of the actual terrain involved.

President Lee, President Benson and others have all stated that the surest way to know the truth is through the SPIRIT and that the geography is all secondary to that. Without the testament of the spirit the other basically doesn't matter anyway. No one is going to be converted because proof is found or that all that is the Book of Mormon is feasible. Why because it doesn't testify of truth.

That only comes and through the Holy Ghost. Nothing else matters.

Again it doesn't matter where but that it did happen.

Provo, Ut

Bill in Nebraska:

It is a daunting task to try and prove the Book of Mormon by archaeology. I have no problem with the idea that The Book of Mormon testifies of a number of cultural artifacts similar to those discovered throughout the America's. The challenge lay in that, to date, none of those artifacts testify of The Book of Mormon - and therein is a key distinction behind the various "mountains of evidence". I understand the complexity associated with excavation, but the point remains - and Vanka articulated the dillema perfectly - that the theories ultimately rest upon finding models with least resistance, rather than supporting evidence.

Also, although it is a popular thing to say, what makes you certain that archaeological proof would not satisfy doubters? If the ominous "Welcome to Zarahemla" road sign were discovered buried deep in meso-America, what makes you think people wouldn't be rushing to Mormonism in droves? Despite your insistence, I think reality would be much different than what you suggest. I see that argument as just a convenient way of dismissing the Church from its responsibility of proving its claims - conveniently from two Church presidents, Benson and Lee, most threatened by proof.

Provo, UT


"That only comes and through the Holy Ghost. Nothing else matters.

Again it doesn't matter where but that it did happen. "

And lets say science and history end up proving it never happened..then will it matter???

I sincerely question your method of obtaining "truth" . If God requires us to go to school, study and experiment to gain all our other knowledge/truth..why would he make an exception for the Book of Mormon? Shouldn't all truth be obtainable through the same method?

Tucson, AZ

This article didn't develop many ideas. I usually like Mike's articles; this one only appeared to scratch the surface and must have been written in a hurry . . . (Sorry Mike - it's the truth).

Lehi, UT

I didnt look up MichaelMs reference since he implies hes active LDS, and possibly Lakota, like his neighbor who started posting the same day, and thus I trust him unquestionably (not like others, sincerely questioning by forging, fabricating etc).
It seems unlikely that aged Lehi imposed his worldview on Mesoamericans (surviving Jaredites etc) who Sorensen says called Gulf "the East," forcing the translators of the Popol Vuh into the bizarre statement, "In the lands to the north, that is, 'in the East.' . . . " . However, if Lehi did this, he might have mapped Biblically, north borders are sometime east etc.
Also, Sorensen says (hopefully im not jumping ahead of mike) Hebrews associated directions with colors, like IP (yellow, red, black), and sometimes Zaphon (associated with Eden, the Heavens, up, or particular primordial mountain symbol, rising, like Mayan pyramids, from primordial sea, river to Hades etc associated with black north house) the Biblical NORTH, is black (yam sea=west etc). Perhaps (me speculating) Zaphon is associated with the black polar region around which the stars rotated (North star wasnt there in Biblical times, so doubtful they did directions by it).

@pickle Mike isnt giving revelations
@Jax, check Mikes Holley article and comments.

the truth
Holladay, UT

The ANTIS and Doubters demand evidence based on there own epectations and preconcieved notions,

Th BOM is first and formost a book of scipture and should be anyalized from a doctrinal or gospel standpoint not from a historical or geographical standpoint, even the BOM writers pointed out quite clearly that histrical informatin was recorded elsewhere,

the historical and geographical information given is too vague and general,
and when you consider old testment writers used 'isle" to refer to coastal people, city or nations,

when_you realize that nowhere is stated the land were seperated SOLELY by a narrow neck,

when don't try make excuse for distances,

when_you realize we don't know what langauge the wrote_or_spoke in daily, that the written language was symbolic and represents a thought or idea,

when _you ignore your own preconceived notions for evidence,

you can place the BOM lands just about anywhre,

form NY to san fransico,

from the great lakes to florida,

from mesoamerica to cuba or domican republic

from missouri to the coasts of peru and chile,

THE Antis_and_Doubters demand evdence based on their own expectations and assumptions,

put their_faith in heresay, rumours_and_stories

not on reality and known facts.

Lehi, UT

Not sure what cowboy or anyone thinks we should be finding in Mesoamerica that we havent found yet? Would Lamoni was here or Isabel was here placards be enough? Would hundreds of precise religious correlations be enough? ME and Polynesian Morphology? Joseph/Asenat DNA? What would be enough? Funny how those other anti-Mormons often say they will start believing the evidences found as soon as working geography is discovered. Then, when working geography is discovered, honest questioners say they arent going to believe it because no other evidences have been found and, while we may be able to prove people probably came from the ME, we cant yet prove one was named Lehi. Its maddening. As has been said, you can doubt anything, even the sun, if you want. But there is enough evidence for honest seekers to SEEK. Proving the BoM is pointless, if you are so faithless and hard that you never seek that Jesus whom it testifies of.

Bountiful, UT

JM: I've already read Ash's Holley article, and it was severely lacking in logic, credibility, and scientific thought. His main argument was that he performed an "experiment" where he took a modern map, found some modern names that resembled Book of Mormon names, and concluded that the Verne Holley map is the same thing, a mere coincidental correlation of modern names with BoM names.

Of course, a little bit of thought leads one to realize that the Holley map is not a modern map, but a map from Joseph's time showing many Book of Mormon names correlated to actual places from Joseph's time, and showing a relationship between the place names that is similar to that described in the Book of Mormon. You seem to subscribe to the idea that if Ash has talked about an idea, then he has resolved any problems associated with that idea, an appeal to authority. However, as has been shown time and time again, Ash's arguments are often lacking in logic, common sense, and objectivity. His endless endeavor to redefine words and concepts to fit into his worldview without regard for rationality belies his credibility.

Scottsbluff, NE

I am not LDS and have not implied that I am. My wife, who sometimes posts and whom you have just referred to as "his neighbor" is LDS. I am white. She is Lakota.

Please be careful with making assumptions.

Provo, UT

Why is FAITH so important people??? If God exists would you agree that he is the most powerful omnipotent being? If so..do you think that his power is based on faith? I highly doubt it..it MUST be based on perfect KNOWLEDGE. He surely didn't create the universe out of faith. Faith implies a level of doubt. I doubt a supreme being would have such a weakness.

Tucson, AZ

This article is written as if JS translated the plates literally. That if up was on the plates he wrote up. So now we have to make up fit into geography. But if God assisted in the translation then the map directions should be clearly understandable to a person of JS era. The reason evidence is important is because if the events took place there would be evidence of it. Independently of JS the numbers of people and size of the society would have left some footprint.

Searching . . .
Orem, UT

"Not sure what cowboy or anyone thinks we should be finding in Mesoamerica that we havent found yet?"

If everything worthwhile has been found, it isn't enough proof. The only ones who claim that the evidence proves the BoM are Mormons, and many Mormon archaeologists aren't among them.

"Would Lamoni was here or Isabel was here placards be enough?"

If that's what they actually are, it might help. Similar sounding names on two different continents does not prove a connection.

"Would hundreds of precise religious correlations be enough?"

They might be helpful. I haven't seen references yet, just claims.

"ME and Polynesian Morphology?" Ditto.

"Joseph/Asenat DNA? What would be enough?"

Mormon apologists claim that DNA evidence is useless. Why would you draw on that?

". . . when working geography is discovered, honest questioners say they arent going to believe it because no other evidences have been found . . ."

There are too many "working geographies". You need more than that.

". . . you can doubt anything, even the sun, if you want." You can also believe anything if you want. The onus of proof is on you because you claim to have it.

Pickle Juice, The Key to a BCS
Clinton, UT

JM wrote:

"@pickle Mike isnt giving revelations"

JM, I never said Mike was giving revelations. What I said was that the BoM geography will NEVER be revealed to Mike Ash, FAIR or FARMS. LDS Prophet Wilford Woodruff stated that if God wants the BoM geography revealed He will do so through his Prophet.

"If He [God] wants the geography of the Book of Mormon revealed, He will do so through His prophet, and not through some writer who wishes to enlighten the world despite his utter lack of inspiration on the point."
- Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, 5:83

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