Comments about ‘Scholar details 'striking' parallels between Book of Mormon and ancient civilization’

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Published: Monday, Aug. 6 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

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Far East USA, SC

Well, it will be very interesting to see if the peer review by non-LDS archeologists will validate the findings.

Isn't that how it's supposed to work?

Mr Sorenson has previously estimated populations in excess of 600,000 people.

I would like to hear any non-LDS archeologist make an estimate of the size of the civilizations in that area.

Jim C
Brigham City, UT

I am confused by these parallels.

Vocal apologists have strongly voiced the need for a limited geography for the distribution of the descendants of Lehi. So limited, in fact, that they left no detectable DNA behind. Other peoples like the Mayans dominated the population of Mesoamerica they surmise.
It stands to reason that Sorenson's parallels apply to the majority population and not to the minority population descended from tiny Lehi's clan.

What am I missing?

Scottsbluff, NE

Science 23 December 2011:
Vol. 334 no. 6063 pp. 1620-1621
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6063.1620

Does North America Hold the Roots of Mesoamerican Civilization?

Andrew Lawler

High pyramids and great plazas are the hallmarks of ancient Mesoamerica, from the 3000-year-old Olmec cities along the Gulf of Mexico to the inland metropolis of Tenochtitlan encountered by the Spanish conquistadors. Yet the oldest examples that call to mind this familiar style are found nearly 1000 kilometers to the north in the muddy bayous of Louisiana. Five millennia ago, Native Americans here began to build high mounds of earth flanked by flat plazas that resemble Mesoamerica's classic architecture. A small band of archaeologists suspect that these ancient settlements laid the foundation not only for the North American mound-building tradition that eventually culminated in the great city of Cahokia (see main text) but perhaps also for Mesoamerican civilization.

kaysville, ut

To Joe Blow -

The majority of Mesoamerican scholars (non-LDS) agree that the Mayan civilization numbered in the millions with the population reaching as much as 20 million at it's height.

Dr. Sorenson's work is fascinating to contemplate. It will never convince someone who does not believe in the Book of Mormon to take it seriously, but I don't think that is his intent. I think that he is speaking to those who do believe and want to understand more about a Book that is central to their faith. I highly doubt that his writings will be peer reviewed, simply because most academics don't take the issue seriously.

The debate on archeology of the Book of Mormon is a hotly discussed topic. One that people feel pretty strongly about, and also one that has created a lot of apostasy within the Church. As far back as when Joseph Smith was prophet people debated the issue. The prophets have never said where it took place, though it's interesting to note that all the Church produced films and art (done with the stamp of approval from the First Presidency) set the Book in Mesoamerican civilizations.

Atlanta, GA

I'm very disappointed in these supposed correspondences. They apply to practically every known civilization:

"Sociopolitical factions anxious to gain power and privilege were endemic in Book of Mormon societies. Their jostling caused most of the sociopolitical stress the scripture reports. Mesoamerican factionalism was equally pronounced and disruptive."

And then Sorenson has the audacity to say "It is not rational to suppose that mere coincidence can account for similarities of this magnitude,"?

I really wish that Mr. Lloyd had acknowledge the weakness of these claims in his article and gotten a response to such clear criticism from professor Sorenson or his academic peers.

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

@Jim C
"Vocal apologists have strongly voiced the need for a limited geography for the distribution of the descendants of Lehi."

Book of Mormon scholars believe in a limited geography because that is what is contained in the Book of Mormon. It is not based on some other theory, need or scientific information. It is based on what the Book of Mormon really says.

Ogden, UT

To ThinkinginGA

Instead of criticizing the author of the DesNews article, maybe you should read the book before making any judgments as to its content.

Salt Lake City, UT

What is fascinating is that a paper in the US would publish such an article in the 21st Century and people would "debate" it. Nothing like this has debate has taken place in a European. The founding "fatherly" guys must be turning in their graves because there are such pockets of irrationally being fomenting by modern people. They would say you people aren't fit to fun a state.

Tooele, UT

@Jim C

I've always been a little reluctant to embrace the theories based on a limited geography. Some use it to explain the lack of DNA evidence supporting the Book of Mormon, but the fact is, the verses in the BOM detail many wars between the Nephites and Lamanites which I believe in and of itself can explain missing DNA. Also, the fact that the Nephite and Lamanite populations could not have possibly grown as fast as they did simply based on Lehi's family. There had to have been others join them along the way. I remember my dad explaining this to me years ago, long before DNA evidence surfaced.


As I understand it, the reason many LDS scholars and LDS leaders believe the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica is based on the fact the Book of Mormon never mentions snow, ice or cold weather. And early on in the Book of Mormon, in the Book of Enos, it talks about how the Lamanites wore a, "...short skin girdle about their loins..." Not exactly what one would wear for winter temperatures in say Michigan.

Scottsbluff, NE

A Mound Complex in Louisiana at 5400-5000 Years Before the Present
Science 19 September 1997:
Vol. 277 no. 5333 pp. 1796-1799
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5333.1796

"Radiometric, luminescence, artifactual, geomorphic, and pedogenic data date the site to over 5000 calendar years before present. Evidence suggests that the site was occupied by hunter-gatherers who seasonally exploited aquatic resources and collected plant species that later became the first domesticates in eastern North America."

Eastern North America as an independent center of plant domestication
PNAS August 15, 2006
Vol. 103 no. 33 pp. 12223-12228
doi: 10.1073/pnas.0604335103

Plant domestication in Eastern North America had already occurred 4,400 years ago, independent from Mesoamerica and South America. More than half of all the world's crops now in cultivation were first domesticated in the Americas, most before Adam and Eve.

An interesting comparison of America to the Bible is that the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara is the first in Egypt. It dates to about 4,700 years ago. The Louisiana mound complex dates to 5,400 years ago making it older than Egypt's oldest pyramid.

Phoenix, AZ

They have discovered ancient sunken ships in the Mediterranean Sea that are over two thousand years old, but they haven't discovered any physical evidence of Book of Mormon people. Still this doesn't stop some promoters from inventing all kinds of supposed preposterous proves. They could apply the same reasoning to establish the location of Santa Clause or Big Foot. Why do some people never seem to grow too old for fairy tales; perhaps it is that the truth is just too frightening or complicated for them to embrace. Or perhaps reality doesn't afford them the recognition or esteem that they receive from fantasy. But it seems their time would be better spend seeking knowledge and the truth of the light of the universe. Mormons believe in a material world; if there were a history of the Book of Mormon people, then there would be material (physical) evidence easier to find than 2000 year old sunken ships.


According to Book of Mormon text Nephi was able to guide the ship to the promised land with a compass delivered to the tent door of his father by angels while still in what is now known as the Saudi Arabian Peninsula.

So, if Nephi was guiding the ship and they were living worthy of the guidance, he could land it in the exact intended location for settlement. It was not a hap-hazard wind blown landing such as was described for the Jaredites.

The location of landing then could just as easily be described geographically as the Southern U.S. gulf of Mexico area with northern expansion into the Mississippi/Ohio river area.
So-called native Americans were then discovered by colonial settlers dressed in their loin cloths.

Sneaky Jimmy
Bay Area, CA

This is a fun topic. No matter what you think, the BofM exists and it tells a pretty compelling story. IMO no one living today has an inkling about the complexity or size of the various civilizations that existed on the American continents before Columbus. Very possibly there were Chinese, African, Norse, Portuguese, Celtic and other colonies in existence. There were huge cities in the Amazon basin that were observed by the first European explorers and then were gone 50-75 years later probably due to disease introduced by those visitors. It's been estimated that perhaps 90% of the native population was lost from the advent of the Europeans. Let's hear some more viewpoints!

Getting it Right
Sunnyvale, CA

An unprecedented event may have happen last week and people will still debate what exactly happened and how it happened. I'm not surprised that people are debating what, how, when and where the book of mormon stories happened. I can argue that so called Mayan experts only knew very little about them. I can only argue that even the Mayan language still eludes them.


'Striking' indeed. Far too striking to be coincidental. But a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon can only be gained through the Holy Ghost—not through anthropological or archaeological research.

medford, MA

@antodv: CORRECT! But it is interesting to find the bits and pieces of evidences the Lord provides us as proof which follows our faith. Detractors will always find an anti Mormon sentiment no matter what evidence is provided.
Jesus performed miracle after miracle, and some chose to rationalize and not believe.
We can look but not see. Our "sight" comes from the Holy Spirit.


Sneaky Jimmy is correct, sort of. Contact with the European nations was devastating for natives, but not the way it's guilt-trip taught in schools. There were no wars, no infected blankets given by settlers in germ warfare (though there is one documented case in, like, the 1800's). It was bigger, and quicker, than that.

When the Spanish first arrived in the 1500's yes they came to conquer. But they also, inadvertently, brought something else: The Black Plague. Remember how just about then was getting through wiping out 1/3 of Europe's population? Well, scholar's now figure that it was the culprit behind 90 (90!) percent of America being wiped out by the time of Jamestown.

So how can anyone hope to be an expert on massive civilizations that were literally just GONE by the time they found them? It also explains why it only 5% of what was around before Europeans came to America is even estimated to be known.


The Mayan culture and civilization was destroyed by Spanish Conquistadors who subsequently converted them to Catholicism, hence the strong presence of this religion to this day in South America. The love of Christ was shared.

Murrieta, CA

"LDS Scholar" finds striking similarities.....

Scottsbluff, NE

Suggested further reading:

1) Origins of the American Indians: European Concepts, 1492-1729 by Lee Eldridge Huddleston, 1967
A scholarly book on the theories of American Indians coming to America. It is valuable for analyzing diffusionist claims.

2) Native American Origins Special Section, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Volume 146, Issue 4, December 2011
Uses genetics to answer who the first Americans were and how ice age humans settled the last large uninhabited landmasses.

3) A Brief History of Piedras Negras as Told by the Ancient Maya, History Revealed in Maya Glyphs, by Mark Pitts, 2011
This book begins in 4691 BC with a very early ruler and ends in the 9th century AD with the collapse of the city. You will learn the history by reading the very words of the ancient Mayas, from their own glyphs.

4) Guatemala Memory of Silence, Tz'inil na'tab'al, Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification: Conclusions and Recommendations, 1999
This report documents and details the violence, horror and tragedy of Guatemala during the period from 1962 to 1996. More than 200,000 people were killed or disappeared at the hands of the government. Most of them were indigenous Mayans.

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