Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Michael Ash: The scattering after the confounding at the Tower of Babel

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  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Oct. 13, 2010 11:29 p.m.

    RE: Idaho Coug | 11:50 a.m.

    But this life is a test, one based on faith,

    that being said,

    we know that ancient civilizations and peoples of bible existed,

    we KNOW Jesus existed, many still do not believe he is devine, the son of God,

    we know Joseph Smith existed but many do not belive he saw God, and is a Prophet,

    so even if we knew the existantace of nephi et al, and it was proven with hard evidence,

    many would still not believe that they are who they say they are.

    even hard evidence will not make you beleive that they are who they say they,

    that can only come from faith and testimony of the holy spirit,

    it is not about whether you believe or know zarahemla or nephi existed,

    it is about do you believe in God and his Gospel and his church and kingdom and all his marvelous works and wonders,

    the truthfulness of that can only come by the spirit and by faith and doing his word, obeying his commandments,

    not from ancient stone bulding or an old pot or rusty sword, or even a golden plate.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Oct. 13, 2010 11:50 a.m.

    To Bill - I respect your testimony and the impact the spirit has on what one does or does not believe. However, I reject your assertion (and one made often by members of the church) that no direct evidence would sway one toward a belief in the BofM.

    There is no question in my mind that direct evidences would bring many more into the church, cause many to return and cause many testimonies to be solidified. Do you really think that a discovery that was directly and indeniably related to people, places, and words of the BofM would not have that effect?

    For example, if Meso-American ruins were uncovered that included the names of Lehi, Nephi, Moroni, etc etc - that would be a HUGE boon to the church and our claims of BofM historicity. However, the fact remains (as Allen so honestly admits) that current evidence is only parallel. Some of that parallel evidence is wonderful and strengthens believers and probably converts some on its own. But it is not direct, objective evidence.

    I agree with you that the Spirit is crucial. But I disagree with you in that I believe direct evidences would be a phenominal conversion tool.

  • Bill in Nebraska Omaha, NE
    Oct. 12, 2010 9:42 p.m.

    To All: The Book of Mormon must be taken on faith. It is a proven fact that evidence does not make a person believe in or committ to. It is by faith that one becomes converted. It is by the spirit that one gains a testimony. I don't care about evidence although it is there. The problem is that those who don't believe would not even believe if Christ came into their room and told them so. It wouldn't matter if an angel told them everything the LDS Church teaches is correct. They still would not believe it. Plausibility doesn't prove the Book of Mormon, but sincere prayer, with real intent does. The problem is that the same people will not do this nor will they act upon it if it was to happen.

    They ask for us to be open minded but their minds are closed beyond measure. Ones mind must be open to the Holy Ghost for him to testify of the truth.

    My witness is sure, that is all I need. The rest is nothing more than the icing on the cake.

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    Oct. 12, 2010 2:30 p.m.


    I agree that any evidence is parallel.

    I would take exception that there are Mountains of "parallel" evidence.

    It is quite convenient that GA's of which you speak can be both fallible and infallible. This depends solely on future learnings.

    The faithful should demand clarification from all future utterances from these leaders.

    "Excuse me, GA Jones. Is that your opinion or is it revelation"

    How much could that clear up?

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    Oct. 12, 2010 1:40 p.m.


    As those who've been following these discussions know, I am a firm believer in the BoM, but I agree there is no direct evidence for the BoM. All of the evidences that Cats refers to are parallel evidences. Parallel evidences show similarities between the BoM and archeology, Hebrew literature, etc., but they don't prove the BoM is a historical document. Parallel evidences do increase the plausibility of the BoM.

    For sake of discussion, lets assume the Jaredites were limited in the geography they occupied. Lets assume a small area of 10,000 square miles. Unless archeologists dug within that area, they wouldn't find evidences of the Jaredites.

    It's true that many LDS and some GA have believed the BoM people occupied all of North America, but there is nothing in the BoM that leads to that belief. LDS scholars began thinking in the 1970s and 80s that BoM people might have occupied only a relatively small part of North America. Of course we don't know how much or where in North America the BoM people lived. Thus, today belief in the BoM is a matter of faith and prayer not of direct evidence.

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    Oct. 12, 2010 4:53 a.m.

    "20 doubling of population would mean the Jaredites would number about 5 million people,"

    And no archeological evidence of such a civilization.

    Mountains of evidence Cats? Quite a stretch.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    Oct. 11, 2010 8:22 p.m.

    Hi Oxy-Moroni,

    Having the Jaredites become a great nation doesn't imply they would become a large nation, or even a nation in control of a significant portion of the land. I think the statement you quoted about the Jaredites could apply to the both the "hemispheric model" and the "limited geography model" of BoM geography. They began as a single family and would become a great nation. That's all the Lord was saying.

    For example, the Malthusian Law (ML) of growth says for a 1% growth rate, a population will double every 70 years. The date of the Tower of Babel isn't known, and thus the length of the Jaredite nation isn't known. I'm assuming 1400 years, and the ML would give 20 doubling of population. For sake of discussion, I'm assuming the Jaradites numbered 10 people when the began their trek. 20 doubling of population would mean the Jaredites would number about 5 million people, more than enough to have them be a great nation regardless of how much land they occupied. Monaco is a nation and only has about 33,000 people and only 0.78 sq miles.

  • Alberta Reader Magrath, Alberta
    Oct. 11, 2010 3:54 p.m.

    Would you be one that became a believer if evidence as you mentioned were found for the BofM? I have my suspicious. If the theory/science of evolution were held to the timeline to the BofM for evidence. Thinking and discovery on evolution would have stopped a long time ago.
    Weren't foot prints of the earliest dinosaurs just found in the last couple of weeks that changed current thinking by millions of years when they existed and their size?
    Let's just be patient (could mean 100-1000's of yrs) and see what happens for evidence for the BofM.

    Staying at the Comfort Suites in Ogden had a good time

  • otonashii1 Round Rock, TX
    Oct. 11, 2010 12:51 p.m.

    Alberta Reader. Hope you had good time in Utah. Hope your visit with son was joyful. The large reduction in comments is largely due to the fact the DN was taken over by a PR arm of the LDS church and gutted alot of staff, including Joel Campbell of the Mormon Media Obeserver, who left complaining of biased journalism. In addition, comments are now restricted to 2 posts per week. My allotment is up, see ya next week.

  • brokenclay Scottsdale, AZ
    Oct. 11, 2010 12:36 p.m.

    It seems a stretch to say that just because there was a wind in tradition that destroyed the agriculture and structure at Babel that this is evidence for the wind that blew a boat halfway around the world. Well, they both say wind, so it must be the same wind, right?

    Is this the best evidence you are able to proffer for the Book of Mormon?

    In Deuteronomy 28:36,49,68 God predicts the Roman invasion and exile of A.D.70, 1500 years beforehand. The Romans were non-Semitic (unlike the Babylonians), had the eagle as a military symbol (v.49), and deported the 97,000 survivors by ship to Egypt (v.68). This is recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus in Wars 6.9. No one was able to buy them in Alexandria, Egypt (despite it being the largest slave market in the empire), just as the scripture predicted.

    We have scores of prophecies like this that cannot be disproved by an appeal to vaticinium ex eventu (prediction after the fact), as the Book of Mormon "prophecies" can. My appeal to you is to accept the true God while time remains!

  • IndependentLiberal Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 11, 2010 11:31 a.m.

    CATS 10:39

    Oh…come on…it’s so easy! Ur, Egypt, Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, Mesopotamia, Tigris, Euphrates, and Antioch all but a fraction of geographical known places in the bible and totally identified today. Name one geographical BoM location that can be archeologically indentified in the new world. LDS theory is divided by continents, and hemispheres. Land northward, narrow neck…you get my point!

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    Oct. 11, 2010 11:17 a.m.

    Cats | 10:39 a.m.

    Your "MOUNTAINS of evidence" support nothing but the plausibility that the Lehites could have migrated to the Americas. Even the best evidences that Mr. Ash has shared so far, Nahom and Bountiful, have produced no evidence that proves that Lehi was ever there. LDS apologists have yet to pinpoint the great city of Zarahemla and provide an artifact that is plainly Nephitish or Lamanitish. If there were MOUNTAINS of evidence, archaeologists would start looking more in the direction of a Hebrew migration and influence on Mesoamerican history, but it just isn't there yet, and may never be.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    Oct. 11, 2010 11:12 a.m.

    Alberta Reader: "I continue to believe in God that He created all things in heaven and earth also God has all wisdom and power both in heaven and earth",True God by definition is the uncreated creator of all else. God calls things into existence,(Romans 4:17)And in Hebrews 11:3 and explicit teaching of ex nihlio,creation out of nothing.
    Also true,"that man does not comprehend all of the things and ways of God." "If Christianity was something we were making up,of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete,in simplicty,with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about." C.S Lewis on the triune God in "Mere Christianity".

  • Juice SLC, UT
    Oct. 11, 2010 10:50 a.m.


    There is no evidence supporting the BOM. At the same time there is so much scientific, genetic, linguistic and archaological evidence against the BOM. Facts don't lie my friend, and the facts are squarly against you.

  • Cats Provo, UT
    Oct. 11, 2010 10:39 a.m.

    Dear Juice: There are MOUNTAINS of evidence supporting the BofM. You are just choosing not to acknowledge it.

    AND in actuality, much of the evidence that supports the Bible is highly disputable. So.....those who attack the BofM but support the Bible need to realize that the same attacks they make on the BofM are also some of the same attacks that are made on the Bible.

    Both books are true, both complement each other, but ultimately, both must be understood through the spirit.

  • Juice SLC, UT
    Oct. 11, 2010 9:37 a.m.


    Isn't it amazing when one considers how many millions and millions of archaoelogical evidence we have for Israel? Why can't we just find one or two for the BOM? It seems like the only evidence one can find (DNA, Linguistic, Archaoelogic, Geographic, Anthropoligic) disproves the BOM.

  • Oxy-Moroni Perth, AU
    Oct. 11, 2010 9:31 a.m.

    Which ocean the Jaredites allegedly crossed is not specified in the Book of Mormon. In the Hugh Nibley books "There were Jaredites" and "The World of the Jaredites", he argues for the Pacific Ocean. Milton R. Hunter has argued for an Atlantic Ocean crossing.

    The location of the Jaredite civilization is also not specified in the Book of Mormon, except as called the "Land Northward" by the Nephites. The New World location of the Nephites is a subject of controversy among Mormons. It should be pointed out that Joseph Smith indicated that the Jaredites arrived in “the lake county of America” (the region of Lake Ontario).

    So much confusion, so many different theories and no evidence. What is more likely? That the BoM is historical or myth?

  • Alberta Reader Magrath, Alberta
    Oct. 11, 2010 9:28 a.m.

    Hello from Utah
    Have been having a good time visiting my son here.

    As I have read these last 3 articles I see there has been hugely less comments mostly from DN new policy and likely because the Tower of Babel is mentioned in the bible as well.
    With all the speculation regarding this recorded event it makes me realize and reconfirms my understanding of the need for the Holy Ghost to testify of the truthfulness of written scripture.
    Regardless of the comments I have read against the LDS faith and more specifically the BofM my testimony of its truthfulness remains 100% intact.

    I continue to believe in God that He created all things in heaven and earth also God has all wisdom and power both in heaven and earth and that man does not comprehend all of the things and ways of God.

    Princeton I have made efforts to find you while here but not successful to date. Wonder if we can make it happen?
    Its back to cold Canada in the morning

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 11, 2010 9:21 a.m.

    Thank you again Mr. Ash for this article. As always, your article provide useful information. Does it really matter if there was just one such Babel event in world history as opposed to one event of many such events from which a particular people draw their myth, heritage and religion?

  • old_churchman Ogden, UT
    Oct. 11, 2010 9:17 a.m.

    I disagree. Israel also became a "great nation" and they occupied a very limited geography.

  • otonashii1 Round Rock, TX
    Oct. 11, 2010 9:01 a.m.

    So were the other people the BoM never mentions also led to a choice land where they would become a great nation? If there were others there already why did they immediately and voluntarily hand over their government affairs to this group of Jaredites? Seems unusual a small group lands in the midst of an established larger group, and becomes their leaders, and they didnt even speak the same language. Maybe it was the submarine technology that brought them there that impressed the natives.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Oct. 11, 2010 8:55 a.m.

    It is clear that Michael Ash has predetermined a certain set of facts (which constitute his testimony) which his conclusions inevitably must and do support. For example, he has repeatedly indicated that he believes the Lehites and Jaradites were real people who lived and actually did the things they claimed in the Book of Mormon.

    I greatly respect and appreciate that he is also open to the reality that some stories found in the Bible and repeated in the Book of Mormon very well may be myth. I don't expect our LDS scholars and apologists to back away from the core teachings of the Church and Ash does not. But I do appreciate their willingness to merge them with scientific realities and the obvious reality that some stories from the Bible likely did not actually occur (at least not as described in the Bible) but instead were myths and teachings passed on through generations originating as a way to explain the natural world in a spiritual or cultural context.

    Many of our local and even SLC leaders still cling to these myths as absolute reality. Thank you Brother Ash for including science and reason with your testimony.

  • Cats Provo, UT
    Oct. 11, 2010 8:41 a.m.

    Mike: Another great article. Every day there is more and more evidence that supports the BofM. However, reading it every day is what leads to great spiritual insight and growth. And that's a promise.

    The detractors have NOTHING. Their comments are petty, misguided and sad. But, it is through the spirit that we gain the greatest testimony of the Book of Mormon.

    Thanks, Mike, for your continued good work.

  • Oxy-Moroni Perth, AU
    Oct. 11, 2010 8:04 a.m.

    Michael Ash wrote:

    "Again the Lord had compassion and told the Jaredites that he would lead them to a choice land where they would become a great nation (Ether 1:38-43)."

    This is true only if you believe the traditional or "hemispheric model". The LGT or "limited geography theory" would have you believe that the BoM took place in a very small and isolated geographic area with only a few thousand people, or less. Not a very good definition of a "great nation".