Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Defending the Faith: Dealing with Book of Mormon geography and other secondary issues’

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Published: Thursday, June 16 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Thank you Dr. Peterson, I could not agree more.

I find great power in the Book of Mormon. So too the Bible, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. I am fascinated by archeological discoveries and find myself interested in the various historical interpretations. But my testimony is not dependent upon these.

Even when the historical Jesus was seriously challenged, I found faith in him. Discoveries over the years that point to his being "found" in history have been interesting and even gratifying, but not redefining for my faith. So too with other historical/archeological endeavors related to church history be that ancient or modern.

The imperatives of the scriptures are our personal and familial actions, attitudes, and approach to deity. All else is secondary.

Calvin Coolidge Fan
MONROE, UT

Thank you Dr. Peterson! You are awesome, and I believe right on the button with your analysis. IF you should happen to see these response postings... I once attended a fireside you spoke at, and shared with us your experiences at BYU with translating the works of Islam into english, and the doors that has opened for the church in the lands of Islamic rule. Is there some place I can go to read more about your experiences with that, that I could share with my wife and family? Thank you for all you do! :)

Razzle2
Bluffdale, UT

We believe all things, we hope all things. To me that says that I believe all things to be possible until proven false. Rather than the stiff-necked path of not believing in anything until proven true. More than one theory can be true.
I do know about geography...
-The Book of Mormon Nephites lasted for 1,000 years.
-All the people in the area became Nephites for at least 200 years regardless of skin color or genetics.
-There are ancient ruins of great nations in the Americas.
-Book of Mormon lands are anywhere the Nephites lived, not just what is in our abridged scripture.

Mormoncowboy
Provo, Ut

From the article:

"I find it almost unbelievable. Surely this is a secondary issue, at most.

Nothing very important certainly not our salvation hangs upon having the precise GPS coordinates of the Jaredite city of Lib. Although an interesting topic for discussion, knowing exactly where the narrative of the Book of Mormon took place is far less momentous than believing that it did, in fact, take place."

This is where Peterson is SOOO wrong. Why do you think tensions are hot over BoM geography? Why does it cause such a rift among otherwise like believers? It is simply because knowing "where" the BoM took place is intrinsically connected to knowing "that" it took place! The search is on because many seek a validation of their faith. We all accept the rational logic that if we "could" prove a location of a BoM event, person, or place, we have given extensive credibility to Joseph Smith. Conversely, if it could be reasonably proven that the BoM contradicts the actual history and geography's of the people and places it writes about, it would be false. The whole purpose of the BoM was to be the means for validating Mormonism.

Valerie7
SAN ANTONIO, TX

It is interesting to talk about the possible locations of the stories found in the Book of Mormon. One day we will all know for sure. Dr. Peterson, thank you for all you do in defending the Lord's Kingdom here on earth.

RanchHand
Huntsville, UT

"Nothing very important certainly not our salvation hangs upon having the precise GPS coordinates of the Jaredite city of Lib. "

--

Fictional locations can not have a GPS location since they weren't there in the first place.

We the People
Sandy, UT

RanchHand:

Lib did exist; I would love to know how you know it did not.

This article is excellent because it captures the most important truth about the Book of Mormon. That truth is that the book is about real people and teaches men to love God and each other.

New Yorker
Pleasant Grove, UT

Hi RanchHand,

Those of you who dismiss the BOM as fiction out-of-hand have not studied it nor its production in years just before 1830. I have thought over your skepticism and, so far, can come up with only two possibilities:

1. You are Christians who have a knowledge from the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ is the anointed Messiah, the Son of the Living God, but you believe, much as Saul did of the Christians, that the Mormons are misdirected. If this is the case, you should find and follow the "Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It" debate on the net. For example "Still Losing the Battle . . . Still Not Knowing It: An Open Letter to Hank Hanegraaff." Dismissing the BOM out-of-hand will only work with a few LDS who haven't studied the Gospel. To reach most Mormons, you have to get down to the nitty-gritty.

2. You are athiests or agnostics. If this is the case, I recommend you read "Three Shrines: Mantic, Sophic, and Sophistic" by Hugh Nibley from a series of lectures delivered at the Sterling Library Lecture Hall at Yale University. To influence Mormons, you have to understand them.

skeptic
Phoenix, AZ

Mr. Petersen seems humble in his willingness to share with us that he knows nothing more than we do; but his contentment with ignorance is troubling. Is it not Gods way to seek truth and answers. Don't the Mormons have some saying: it is good to seek all good things, and is not the truth a good thing.

sayinmypiece
Las Vegas, NV

The 8th Chapter of 3rd Nephi describes to total destruction of the land that took place including mountains lowered, new mountains created, cities buried under the water and so on, the whole land was changed. I have not found much description of the land after this event in the rest of the Book of Mormon. It seems to me that it would be very difficult to use the Book of Mormon to locate locations today. Did the "narrow neck" of land remain unchanged or not? I have no idea. The Book must stand alone on its own.

Thinkman
Provo, UT

We the People,

How do you "know" Lib existed? You "know" it seems because the BofM is supposedly an historical account of a people that heretofore, can't be found except in the imaginations of the Mormon population and as proclaimed in Fast and Testimony meetings.

I know one thing to be true about the Book of Mormon. It came from a man, Joseph Smith who claims it came from a set of gold plates which was shown to him by an angel. That is all I or anyone will know about the Book of Mormon - that it was a man, Joseph Smith, who made claims. That is what all religion is. Claims by MEN (including women)about who God is or what God says or what God wants us to do. No one speaks for God any more than EVERYONE speaks for God.

I believe in God, but I live my life according to the dictates of my conscience and according to what brings me happiness. It is my wish that all men and women live their own lives according to what brings them happiness and not be duped or blinded by others who claim they know God's will.

Independent
Henderson, NV

Reading some of the comments on here related to these articles about the Book of Mormon really puts into perspective what a huge task it was for Joseph Smith to bring about the work of the restoration. I think he felt the weight of how all of it would be received by such a disbelieving people, but he forged ahead anyway and great personal expense and sacrifice. It takes a lot of faith to forge ahead in the face of all of this ridicule, but I suppose Joseph's faith in God, and his aversion to offending him was greater. I understand that there are many who just can't bring themselves to believe in something they can't see. All I can really say is that believing has not been in vain for me. The blessings and spiritual knowledge that have come as a result of excersising faith are very, very real, and would lead any reasonable person to the understanding that Joseph's claims are true. I think there is great wisdom in the way God set this all up. He requires faith before knowledge. I know it doesn't seem fair, but it's really the only way.

RanchHand
Huntsville, UT

sayinmypiece | 11:19 a.m. June 16, 2011
Las Vegas, NV
The 8th Chapter of 3rd Nephi describes to total destruction of the land that took place including mountains lowered, new mountains created, cities buried under the water and so on, the whole land was changed. I have not found much description of the land after this event in the rest of the Book of Mormon. It seems to me that it would be very difficult to use the Book of Mormon to locate locations today. Did the "narrow neck" of land remain unchanged or not? I have no idea. The Book must stand alone on its own.

----

Another good point! If all that happened then there would be massive geologic evidence of it - you can't hide that kind of destruction. It ISN'T there.

New Yorker
Pleasant Grove, UT

skeptic,
My above comments to RanchHand were made with our conversation in mind. I would be grateful to know which of the perpetual skeptics here at the forums belong to one of these two groups and whether there is another group I haven't thought of. Answering generalized skeptical posts is like bowling with a curtain hung in front of the pins. Since you all are taking the time to share your thoughts, I would like to give you the best response possible. Would you personally be willing to share the genesis of your taking the time to be a skeptic in these forums?

The question in your last post seems to derive from the LDS 13th Article of Faith: "We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous ... anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

The 9th Article applies better: "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" including the remaining, untranslated part of the BOM.

I gather from this you have little or no LDS background?

We the People
Sandy, UT

Thinkman:

Um, I do not know what to say. Who says that God does not commune with man? Did you talk to God to find out that fact? If you do not believe that God reveals his will to man, I respect your belief. I believe he does.

I know much more about the Book of Mormon other than Joseph Smith was its translator. If you do not, that is fine. I have no problem and respect your beliefs or lack thereof.

My issue is that Ranchhand emphatically said that a city did not exist. He must have some reason for this. I have reason to believe the city did exist.

vegassportsfan
Las Vegas, NV

Ranch Hand

"It ISN"T there"

Such an emphatic statement. You are suggesting that there has been no geological change at all, where ever it took Place, since then. Your comment indicates that you now where it took place. For or against, emphatic statements like yours just back one into a corner. In reality you or I just don't know such facts, one way or the other, to be absolute, do we?

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

To Ranchand:

Do you know where Sodom and Gomorrah is? This is supposedly where the Lord destroyed the city completely. Since, it was destroyed there has to be something to indicate where it was. All we have is complete suspicion that it is on the south end of the Dead Sea. There are many things described in the Bible that has never been found or anything to indicate it was even there. Yet, many believers of the Bible will not believe in the same thing the Book of Mormon details.

Also, have you tried going through the jungle of Mesoamerica or any of the other areas yourself. It isn't easy and many things are hidden from view because of the terrain itself. It is there, we just haven't found it.

As I have stated before it isn't necessary where the Book of Mormon took place, just that it did. As Christ said to Thomas, "Thomas because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." That is faith and that is how we are to take the Book of Mormon, on faith and faith alone.

Independent
Henderson, NV

"Another good point! If all that happened then there would be massive geologic evidence of it - you can't hide that kind of destruction. It ISN'T there."

So there aren't ruins at the bottom of the ocean near mesoamerica. I just saw pictures of them on the History Channel. You're telling me they don't exist?

Law
SLC, UT

@Mormoncowgirl, salvation is through Jesus so your point is mute.

@Valkrye, we do know several points: where the final battles were - in Palmyra, and where the one true Hill Cumorah is - in Palmyra, where the pageant is performed annually. Both were identified by Joseph Smith in the first Official History of the Church as identified by President Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., in Doctrines of Salvation, 1956, pp. 232-243. Peterson et. al. know this fact but avoid it at all cost.

@Hounddog, Fulfilled land prophecies confirm where the lands are.

@savinggrace, Had there been hewn rock made structures they would have crumbled to the earth so Mesoamerica is out. The perimeter of the land did not change and the Narrow Neck also remained with the City of Bountiful near it, which also was untouched. Before the final battle, all Nephite cities were burned, one would not expect to find any evidence at all except remnant dirt fortifications and burial mounds - that's all.

Keep in mind likewise that the ground was cursed by God and would not hold their riches, i.e. metal implements of war, jewelry, etc.

Brahmabull
sandy, ut

So the article makes several quotes from Joseph Smith and George Q. Cannon. Remember, not every statement made by a prophet or apostle is doctrine, so we can dismiss statements by them as opinion. Why members keep using quotes from past prophets and apostles when it supports their view and then dismiss the ones that don't support their view is beyond me. Do these people really think that is logical?

Several people on here have said "how do you know it doesn't exist?" Well lets use a little logic and it is really easy. So because there is no evidence of bigfoot, wouldn't it be more reasonable to assume that the percentages are that he doesn't exist? It is not reasonable to assume that he likely does exist, despite a lack of hard evidence. It is possible, just not likely. The same applies here. People assume it does not exist because the evidence simply is not there. I don't assume that aliens exist despite the lack of any real evidence. That would be unreasonable. I guess that is where faith comes in. So I applaude those with the faith to believe with no evidence.

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