Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Two arguments for Great Lakes model not conclusive

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  • Rockyrd Gilbert, AZ
    May 4, 2015 2:36 p.m.

    I really don't care where The Book of Mormon happened. I lean towards Mesoamerica with the probability of migration. I do not, however, respect those who have reached the limits of credibility and charge high prices for lectures and books to advance their weak theories. I have heard Michael Ash speak several times and have been in meetings with him. He has never charged me for the privilege and has always been very pleasant. He also writes excellent books!

    This issue has caused some contention in the Church. I don't mind listening to or reading about various theories, but it doesn't really matter. It does matter that some propose a weak theory and make a living off of it.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Dec. 17, 2010 5:41 p.m.


    So now you defend your claims in terms of the legalese of "witnesses" and "testimony"?

    As has been pointed out, your witnesses are contradicted by orders of magnitude more witnesses to the contrary!

    Upon what basis shall we give credence to your "witness" instead of all those contrary witnesses?

    You say you "know" the BOM is "true" by the experience of "the spirit." How do you know your experience is with a true spirit and not a deceiving spirit?

    1 John 4:1-3
    Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
    Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God

    This is called a circular argument:
    You know Jesus is the Christ by the Spirit.
    You know the Spirit is true because it confesses Jesus is the Christ.

    Hyrum Page thought he received revelation from a true spirit, too.

    What about you?

  • ex missionary Sandy, UT
    Dec. 17, 2010 5:05 p.m.

    Based on very strong, subjective experiences I served a two year mission and in many callings as an adult for more than a decade. My spine would tingle, my heart would quiver, hairs on my arm would raise, I would be moved to tears, etc. I had some of these experiences alone but most happened in a community of believers that were also experiencing things. Our beliefs reinforced each others. I got to the point where I was so attuned to this reaction that I could feel it nearly at will and would use it to personally confirm for me what I believed were external truths. I would in fact bear testimony of those personal truths to others without hesitation.

    At this point I have come to realize and tell everyone, those experiences are self generated. I can still put myself in the right mindset and emotional state to feel them and I can do it while thinking of the most absurd things. I'm highly doubtful of the spiritual claims of others, been there, done that.

  • BoomerJeff Saint George, UT
    Dec. 17, 2010 3:43 p.m.

    The Book of Mormon states the land where the Nephites lived, would in the latter-days, rise above all nations to be the richest and most powerful on earth. It would be a land of liberty, all nations would envy it, and the gospel would be reestablished on it. Based on these promises, Meso-America, Mexico, Central or South America can't possibly be the land spoken of in the Book of Mormon. The USA is where it happened. Go to the source for answers, don't listen to Micheal Ash, PLEASE!!!!

  • cmtam lake forest, ca
    Dec. 17, 2010 3:13 p.m.

    Jeff: The fact that God must in some sense takes the initiative if true awareness of
    him is to occur is no doubt is what leads religious people to talk of God coming through revelation. It is difficult to say when the conditions for experiencing God have been met. The difficulty is God is not a passive object to be observed. He is like Aslan in C.S. Lewiss Narnia books; Aslan(Jesus) is not a tame lion. He has to want to be seen. God must will it and want to be seen. The skeptic may say that God would want everyone to know about himself. He does,since the creation of the world Gods invisible qualities, his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen being understood, man is without excuse (Romans 1:20). Propositional revelation is another issue. God chooses to reveal himself to certain people: Abraham, Moses, David, Paul. Etc. God has
    free will to choose, It does not depend on mans desire or effort but on Gods mercy. (Roman 9:16)

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    Dec. 17, 2010 2:24 p.m.

    Jeff, you either missed or are avoiding my point: salt can be given to be tasted, it does not need to be described because it is a physical, actual mineral, which qualifies it for objective study. The witness that you describe depends on a person's environment, state of mind, beliefs, and many times, chemicals in the brain. Your's and Alberta's witnesses agree with the witnesses of millions of other LDS faithful. But what about the witnesses of hundreds of millions of Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, and so forth. Or what really scares me, the witnesses of those who followed Jim Jones or David Karesh. Even Brian David Mitchell had his witness, and would probably claim his was more spiritual.

    I can't measure your witness or the feelings you have, no matter how real they feel to you. You cannot examine the intent of my heart to determine if I reached the correct level of sincerity to receive the witness. That is what makes it subjective.

    Time. Until that answer finally comes, I should remain a practicing member. Any answers not approved by the church should be rejected until the correct answer comes. See any illogic?

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    Dec. 17, 2010 2:02 p.m.


    Disagreement suddenly turns into accusations of ridicule and attack when your premise is challenged and you can't reasonably respond to logical arguments with logical arguements. Why is that?

    Although there may in fact be natural explanations for spiritual experiences like sleep paralysis, hallucinations, brain disorders, psychological needs, brainwashing, etc, I accept that there may be things that have happened to humans that truly defy explanation. However, unlike you....I'm not going to assume the explanation always has a supernatural, spiritual, or religious explanation when there is no evidence of such. There is much evidence that people's minds don't always perceive reality correctly. I can't ignore it in favor of your claim. I don't fill in the gaps with explanations that I prefer or have heard from others over what the evidence shows and my own reality. If there is no proveable explanation available I simply realize that NOBODY knows the answer including myself. You on the otherhand insist you know and make claims without providing evidence others can judge for themselves in order to make a conclusion.

    You can accept your conclusion for yourself, but for many others your evidence is quite insufficient.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Dec. 17, 2010 1:49 p.m.

    @ Vanka,

    A witness is someone who has seen or experienced soemthing that they are then able to talk about.

    Neither you nor anyone you list is able to witness against what I said so nothing is proven except that you don't believe me as a witness. That has no effect whatsoever on my credibility or reliability as a witness, only that you don't believe me.

    Since both Alberta Reader and I are witnesses of the same thing, it tends to add credibility to us. Others on this thread and previous threads are also witnesses.

    @ Searching: Describing salt and the taste of salt is very comparable to the experience Alberta Reader and I are talking about. In other words, the only way you can understand it is to experience it, and yes, you can be led to the experience. It is not exclusive.

    If you say that you did everything, I would first ascertain if you really did EVERYTHING, and if you did, and had not received an answer, I would tell you to keep trying. Usually, it takes time.

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    Dec. 17, 2010 1:16 p.m.

    Jeff, the fact that "communication between those who have experienced the Holy Ghost and those who haven't or who reject the experience is difficult because no human language adequately describes it" confirms that the spiritual experience is subjective. It is personal and internal. On the other hand, to describe to someone what salt tastes like, all I have to do is give him salt; it's physical and can be tested and analyzed in a number of ways. Can you give me the same spiritual experience that you enjoyed? If I told you that I did all that the scriptures prescribe to obtain the witness, and then it didn't come, what would you tell me? MormonCowboy's three options listed above (11:51 p.m. Dec. 14) cover the issue quite accurately.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Dec. 17, 2010 1:01 p.m.


    Your comment and "witness" adds nothing.

    The "spirit" tells me so.

    Mormoncowboy, Joggle, Jiggle, and several others can "witness" to the truth of what we all "know".

    So there you go. By your own silly argument and "evidence", you have been shouted down and "proven" false.

    How long do you want to play this silly game?

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Dec. 17, 2010 12:29 p.m.

    There appears to be something of an attack on Alberta Reader's statement that the spirit confirms truth to his soul.

    There has also been a lot of ridicule of the idea that truth may be learned from the Holy Ghost.

    I add my witness to Alberta Reader's: The Holy Ghost is real; communication between the Holy Ghost and human beings, though often accompanied by emotion is not an emotional experience and cannot be judged on emotional standards; communication between those who have experienced the Holy Ghost and those who haven't or who reject the experience is difficult because no human language adequately describes it (hence AR's salt analogy--not fallacious at all).

    Those of us who have experienced it are able to talk to each other and fully understand each other's experiences, which belies the accusation that the experience is purely subjective.

  • Vanka Magrath, Alberta, CANADA
    Dec. 17, 2010 12:03 p.m.

    Whether it can be called placebo effect or human credulity, the fact remains that beliefs are powerful only so long as they are believed.

    The power of the concept of being "saved" from "sin" lies in the unthinking nature of the obedience that is demanded, coupled with the release of psychic tension and endorphins when the conflicted mind submits to a declared authority, and the weight of moral culpability and cognitive dissonance is displaced onto a "loving" mystical "god" instead of continuing to burden the subject.

    If you are prepared to admit that previous generations were wrong to believe, for instance, that god wanted them to stone to death their disobedient children, then you have implicitly protested against the concept of submissive obedience to god, and stressed the primacy of our own humanistic moral and rational abilities to judge claims that god required such immoral and absurd things.

    Holy scriptures are filled with irrational and immoral things the ancient believers "knew" by "the spirit" were the will of god and the "truth" about the world, but which even the most ardent believers today must acknowledge to have been morally and epistemically wrong.

    As such, reason always trumps faith/spirit.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    Dec. 17, 2010 11:09 a.m.

    Thank you Mormoncowboy--well said!

    @Alberta Reader

    Studies show people who have spiritual experiences also have brains that are wired that way. Spiritual witness can be a strong emotional response that a person who has been conditioned to believe that way can feel when stimulus is applied such as prayer or when worshiping in a church. The same strong emotional experience can be experienced under non-religious stimulus such as the emotional response people have to the beauty of nature for one--but the people who experience it don't ascribe it to a supernatural force. It is of course true that science changes and corrects itself frequently, but it is the nature of science to aggressively question and correct itself and it is the nature of science to avoid certainty. Religion embraces certainty, particularly on issues where rational clarity is unlikely, and it not only discourages aggressive questioning, but it often marginalizes, or even punishes, those who do question.

    I'm sure you believe that your experences are of real spiritual origin, but that doesn't mean they are. Your best argument again is to make false assumptions about my knowledge and experiences instead of making reasonably logical arguments.

  • Vanka West Jordan, UT
    Dec. 17, 2010 10:50 a.m.

    Alberta Reader,

    Please spare us the absurd and fallacious "taste of salt" analogy.

    Let's both eat a pretzel and talk about it. Our conversation would be far more meaningful than this silly back-and-forth about "the spirit".

    I can buy bags of salt for my water heater and to use melting snow on my driveway. Nobody seems confused at the hardware store when I ask for the salt. If my meal needs salt, we all know what is meant by that and what to do about it.

    I experiment with sodium chloride in the lab. Nobody is confused when we use that substance. We all know what it tastes like, what it's practical uses are, and the scientific composition of it.

    But the so-called "spirit"? Even LDS cannot agree on what it "feels" or "tastes" like. The descriptions are all over the map (testimony meetings each month prove that fact). There is tragic disagreement over what "the spirit" tells individuals to do and what practical uses "the spirit" has.

    Areas of the world are being torn apart because of conflicting "spiritual" claims.

    Give us a break and don't play that weak card.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Dec. 17, 2010 10:08 a.m.

    Alberta Reader:

    Your logic is astounding. You are correct that I cannot judge your personal experiences, that which you call "...the spirit confirming truths to my soul". Still, you are comfortable assuming that Joggle has not given " to spiritual matters". You rightly acknowledge the paradigm of subjectivity, but fail to see that it also applies to you. You do not know Joggle's experiences either.

    Additionally, in spite of the reality that I cannot say with certainty that I understand your experience(s), I can say that your inability to articulate knowledge and reason for believing, into logical terms, is uninspiring. Here is where religious feelings fail the test. You are suggesting that an alleged external reality can only be detected subjectively. Subjective experiences say nothing of the world at large, only how a single person interprets their enviroment. In order to get our beliefs closer to an objective reality, the best tool we have is consensus. That is obtained via the scientific method, of testability, repeatability, and demonstratability. Religious knowledge fails on each of these grounds. So your subjective claims say more about you than any external truth's you assert by way of Mormon "revelation".

  • Alberta Reader Magrath, Alberta
    Dec. 16, 2010 10:44 p.m.

    So we are in the same boat but different ones at that.
    You dont need religion I do. We will agree to disagree
    However it sounds like you have never believed/tried or give any belief or credit to spiritual matters. You have to admit though you can in no way understand what I experience when I say I feel the spirit confirming truths to my soul.
    Say I had never tasted salt before, how could explain the taste to me so I understand fully? There is no way you could let me know what it tasted like if i had never experienced the taste my self.
    So it is with spiritual matters in my opinion

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    Dec. 16, 2010 4:02 p.m.

    @Alberta Reader

    It seems that people turn to religion as a salve for the difficulties and uncertainties of their lives. It gives them peace of mind and may give them happiness. I know that to be true....however, not all people need religion nor would it make them happy. I'm one of those people who has no need for religion. In fact, adopting a religious belief that my mind won't accept would be going against my very being and would be a source of constant conflict and unhappiness. I've explored religion and find more freedom and happiness being without it. You need it, but you can't assume others do. Having religion in one's life doesn't mean religion is the explanation for all of life's mysteries. I have no need for life to be fully explained and I know science isn't "the complete explanation" yet either-- thus I don't put all my eggs in any scientific basket. However, scientific principles are never fixed. They change when the principles produce results that contradict observation and experiment. Science is knowledge evolution. Religious principles are articles of faith. They rarely change despite new knowledge.

  • Alberta Reader Magrath, Alberta
    Dec. 16, 2010 1:07 p.m.

    I happen to work in the medical/scientific field. I am well aware of double blind studies etc etc etc. It only takes about 7 years before half of the medical "knowledge" and what was thought to be "TRUE" based in vigorous scientific study, is "proven" not true by further studies etc. and the cycle goes on and on. They may say they have made great progress on the brain but the surface is just barely scratched on how it really functions. Actually most of the progress presented is really still just suggestions and hypotheses as to how it works. Any supposed question answered creates 5 more questions and the cycle then repeats itself.
    Don't place all your apples in the scientific basket or you are missing a lot

  • Magajuwin 1 Scottsbluff, NE
    Dec. 15, 2010 11:27 p.m.

    to Fred Vader
    It was me who told you that the northern cherokee is not a real tribe. you continue to put on a charade, The story you mentioned comes from the chocktaw and chikasaw tribes. These were the two brothers. It was never the cherokee that you have said. You already said this story on june 25. at that time you said it was chikasaw. Its amazing that in only six months you now say it is cherokee and that you are cherokee. Why didnt you say it was your tribe in June?

    I reiterate No American Indian would approve of such lies and would be offended of what is being said. They do not steal stories from other tribes, twist the true story to make it their own. It is a faux paux. Since you did not address me, it only tells me that you are white. For a true American Indian does not ignore women, and respects them and talks to them. The story was a land travel from the western United States. There was no ocean ships.
    The ships are a different story made up by the northern cherokee which is a fake tribe.

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    Dec. 15, 2010 4:54 p.m.

    By Malaysia, I mea the part north of Singapore.

    Further, it may be feasible to add the "tail" of Thailand

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    Dec. 15, 2010 4:51 p.m.

    I've heard Malaysia mentioned as the BoM Lands. It makes sense if the came down the Red Sea coast of the Arabian Peninsula (using existing trade route to Sa'naa Yemen ?) and then sailed east.

    Adding fuel to this fire is Lost Empire by Clive Cussler.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    Dec. 15, 2010 11:55 a.m.


    Thank you for sharing your path. Other than the fact that you left the Church, and if I understood you correctly, I don't see anything that you have listed that is contrary to what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches. As a former member, I think it would be difficult for you to argue otherwise.

    To Michael_M: In the Cherokee origination story I shared, the group that went north is the tribe that is now presently headquartered in Tahlequah, OK, my tribe, which is very much a legitimate and real tribe (nearly 300,000 current members, which pales in comparison to our original numbers). The group that went south, went down into what is presently southern Texas and Mexico. There is no federally recognized tribe in that area, but there are legitimate Cherokee descendents in that area to this day.

  • Jiggle Clearfield, UT
    Dec. 15, 2010 11:52 a.m.

    In the last couple of decades, great progress has been made in understanding how the brain works, with explosive learning ahead. Highly recommended is a book called "Don't Believe Everything You Think" by Thomas E. Kida. He presents scientific studies in easily understandable language on the unreliability of the human mind, perception, and memory. This is why we have science which is testable, reproducible, quantifiable, peer reviewed, double blind with placebos, and all the other objective checks and balances to limit the vagaries of human perception, wishful thinking, and affirmation bias. Science doesn't start with a preconceived notion of what we should believe. It's still the best thing we've got to unravel the mysteries of life rather than filling in gaps with unsupported suppositions. We have a right to our own feelings, but we don't have a right to our own facts. Spiritual experiences are not a reliable way of ascertaining truth. An experience within our own brains is not a reality to the rest of the world. We must base our worldview on science and logic, not emotional experiences based on possibly false interpretations.

    This forum limits my words and I mean no disrespect.

  • mrfalcon05 Eagle Mountain, UT
    Dec. 15, 2010 11:14 a.m.

    I am a returned LDS missionary and lifelong church member. I have always had concerns about the historicity of the BoM, as well as the Joseph Smith story. These concerns have been elevated by the church's attempts at selective and revisionist history.
    Recently I have developed the gall to be intellectually honest with myself. I have had definite spiritual feelings before, but never about the BoM. Sure I have "felt good" about it in the past, but have only recently been honest with myself.

    This actually started on my mission. There were a lot of things about the BoM and church history that I became uncomfortable about. So I became an apologist, I learned all of the "mormon answers" to the questions and convinced myself that "I would learn these things in time."

    How liberating it has been to come out of that, and try to seek God without the baggage of proving the BoM or Joseph Smith, as ell as answering for all the strange Church history.

    So, apologies to those who are offended by my dismissal of the so called "spirit" as a feeling.

  • Jiggle Clearfield, UT
    Dec. 15, 2010 11:01 a.m.

    @Bill in Nebraska

    When argument fails you resort to accusations. Your accusation of belittling is based on feelings and supports the fact that your strong transcendent emotional experience can be as false as your accusation! To base your decisions about certain things on emotions is fine. We all do that. But to simply ignore facts because you have a testimony is_YOUR_choice.

    As said--there is circular logic to the spiritual witness paradigm that is accepted in the church. How do you know that transcendent emotional experience is a witness from God? Because you have been taught from the scriptures, from leaders, teachers within the church, and your own desire for it. You believe it first! How do you know that the leaders_teachers are teaching truth? Because it says so in the scriptures. How do you know the scriptures are true? Because you have received a witness. The circle continues with no foundation. Believing the emotional surge you feel represents God can be very powerful especially when socially reinforced. Faith then trumps reason in religious minds when reason is in conflict with faith and emotional needs to believe. Emotion is a powerful force that often doesn't reflect actual reality.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    Dec. 15, 2010 9:57 a.m.

    Fred Vader: Christianity must be accepted on a factual basis, rather than upon a groundless faith that does not admit the possibility of falsification. We embrace the truthfulness of the Biblical accounts of the eyewitness testimony of those who saw, heard and touched the Jesus of history as true for a good reason. Christianity is a historically based religion that makes factual claims that underlie the belief system. Only the Holy Spirit can move a sinner from knowing and assenting to trust in Christ. Key signs of true regeneration; Ones esteem of Christ leads to an orthodox Christology. An awakening of the conscious or the conviction of sin, Isaiah 6:5 Woe (oh-vai) is me. A greater regard for the Holy Scripture.
    Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word(the Bible) of Christ. (Romans 10:17). Trust placed in the completed work of Jesus Christ,(saving faith).

    I left the Church when I became Christian, my only regret was that the Bishop (Mike) was a good friend of mine.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Dec. 14, 2010 11:51 p.m.

    "Many of these testimonies are built line upon line, precept upon precept over years upon years of learning and experiencing the truth of the Holy Ghost. To belittle it as nothing more than feelings is insulting."

    Then it is my pleasure to insult you. Wild claims without consistency, observed and validated only under the most subjective of circumstances. In my endeavors to "experience" this so-called indescribable affirmation of spiritual certainty, over the course of several years, not once did I recieve a witness. I conclude that 1) God is in fact a respector of persons; 2) Others are claiming to have recieved more truth than their personal experiences truly warrant. 3) God expects an irrational persistence in the excercise of "knocking", in spite of a prolonged fruitless outcome that would rationally justify abandoning the effort.

    1) contradicts the gospel so it is disqualified.

    2) This one makes sense

    3) This is becoming the new mantra, ie, testimonies are acquired over extended periods. Still it defies rational faith. If a testimony takes years to acquire, what incentivises the elect to persist in faith? No answer does not mean no, but certainly does not mean yes, with an unlikely mabey.

  • Magajuwin 1 Scottsbluff, NE
    Dec. 14, 2010 11:43 p.m.

    The northern cherokee are not a real tribe.

  • Magajuwin 1 Scottsbluff, NE
    Dec. 14, 2010 10:54 p.m.

    Many have stated that they are cherokee and do not really understand their teaching or their stories. Your story is from diffusionists and not cherokee. Your own people know that they came from the north, the great lakes area.

    Mr. Ash and the meso-American supporters are saying that the B of M. is not about all of the American Indians. They will leave you out because your origin myths agree with science that you came from the north and not from meso-America. Why do you think the Hopi are of interest?? You will be left out.

    You should be offended. How can you allow others to dictate what you are or are not. This is not the teachings of christ. It is mans interpretation of what they want it to be. the D and C was the word of christ and not mans word choice. How can one man try to destroy Gods word??? How can anyone try to intrepret what God has stated so clearly????

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    Dec. 14, 2010 7:36 p.m.

    Michael_M said: "The harm to living American Indian LDS members from this logic and wordplay is beyond most LDS to understand. Try living in two worlds, two cultures."

    As a living Cherokee LDS member, I feel no harm from any supposed wordplay as you call it. I believe that I and my people are descendents of Lehi. I have no issue with how the church leaders have spoken on this issue, and find Mike's articles and the comments here quite enjoyable.

    For anyone who is interested, the Cherokee have an origination story that tells of two brothers and their families that sailed to this land from a great distance, with one family going north, and the other going south after an argument between the brothers.

    Sound familiar?

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    Dec. 14, 2010 7:22 p.m.


    Two more posts and still not one sentence of what you believe that could possibly bring mormons to your idea of salvation. Again it is just more of the same: "uncreated creator" and "God becomes man".

    Disappointing, but at least I now know that what you think will lead to salvation is to simply continue to tear down the beliefs of others, without any of your own to fall back on.

    I wish you peace in your journey. Merry Christmas!

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Dec. 14, 2010 5:46 p.m.

    "For me, the old world journey evidences and the witness testimonies (when many had motivation to retract but did not) tend to resonate the strongest."

    I'm not at all convinced that any of the witnesses ever had a real motivation to retract their testimonies. I think the Three Witnesses behavior can be interpreted in a number of ways, including the oft recited notion above, but it is far from the exclusive or most likely explanation. Lets not forget that if they were to "retract" their witnesses, they would be ultimately admitting their complicity in a fraud, forever ruining their reputations. There is some speculation that Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdrey may have hoped for an opportunity to regain leadership over the Church following Joseph's death, hence their efforts to rejoin in the 1850's. We also need to bear in mind that while none of them ever retracted, Martin Harris and David Whitmer both contradict their signed testimony, and Oliver Cowdrey is suspiciously silent on the matter. All in all, the fact that there isn't a sworn retraction of the signed witness is really not a validation of anything.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    Dec. 14, 2010 5:34 p.m.

    JM,We mistakenly read in a racially charged culture, but anciently "religious conversion was described figuratively as a change in skin color..."black skin"...a metaphor for religiosity." That some LDS misunderstood (leaders included) indicates that JS couldnt have knowingly made up such terms.
    All the seed of Adam, save it were the seed of Cain; for the seed of Cain were black, and had not a place among them. (Genesis 7:29 JST) .
    Brigham Young, You see some classes of the human family that are black and uncouthlow in their habits, wildand they can never hold the Priesthood(JoD v.7 pp 290-291.
    Bill in Nebraska: Jesus Christ knew Abraham long before he was born, just he knows each and every person born on this earth. That quote is proof of [His] pre-existence. Read (John 1:1-4,14) God become man not man becomes God

  • cmtam lake forest, ca
    Dec. 14, 2010 5:30 p.m.

    Mike Ash,said "I think there is enough "secular" evidence to cause spiritual truth-seekers to seek God's answer on the question." True.
    Lectures on Faith 2.2. We here observe that God is the only supreme governor and independent being[aseity] in whom all fullness and perfection dwell; who is omnipotent ,omnipresent and omniscient; without beginning or end. ,Second Lecture #4...[commentary on Romans 1:20)] "But We mean those evidences by which Romans 1:20", is the text used for the classical Cosmological argument for the existence God through His creation by natural revelation. This teaches that God is a necessary being verses dependent beings. Judeo, Christianity is lineal verses Mormonismis circular (preexistence.)
    An infinite regress of a finite being does not cause the existence of anything. Adding another dependent being to a chain of dependent beings does not ground the existence of the chain. Its Iike saying one could get an orange by adding an apple to an infinite number of apples to a basket of apples.
    Mormonism beleived ,at one time, in the uncreated creator of all else. The God of the Bible.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Dec. 14, 2010 4:52 p.m.

    To Jiggle: What bothers me is that you keep mention a feeling but it is much more than that. In many ways it is indescribable. It is something that one must be able to experience on their own. When this comes over them as it has for millions of others there is no mistake where it comes from.

    The Holy Ghost testifies from spirit to spirit via the heart and the mind, not just the mind as many of the others have tried to insinuate. It also doesn't just happen if one doesn't ponder, study it out in their mind, etc. It is just as the Bible so nicely puts it, knock and it shall be given to you, but you have to knock first.

    These testimonies that you call a MORMON TESTIMONY is more than just that. They are in many ways heart felt with pure knowledge. The problem is you want your cake and the icing all at once. Many of these testimonies are built line upon line, precept upon precept over years upon years of learning and experiencing the truth of the Holy Ghost. To belittle it as nothing more than feelings is insulting.

  • Mike Ash Ogden, UT
    Dec. 14, 2010 4:37 p.m.

    Idaho Cougar. You ask some excellent questions. The Mormon Times has links to a listing of my past articles. In one of those articles (just recently in fact) I said that I do _not_ believe that God tries to deceive us. Having said that, however, He can't make belief too compelling (what some philosophers call an epistemic distance between God and man-- more on this in a future issue).

    For the BoM, I see the strength of evidence in about the same category as you... (Witnesses, Old World [lots more than I've discussed]). I think there are some very interesting NW evidences as well (to be discussed later).

    The BoM evidences are just part of the secular cache that I believe supports belief. Others include BoA evidences, & evidences from ancient Christianity that mesh extremely well with unique LDS doctrines.

    In a nutshell I'm sure that believers/critics can find support for their positions, but critics cannot know if the spiritual things are true without turning to spiritual tools. No evidence can prove/disprove the existance of God.

    I think there is enough secular evidence to cause spiritual truth-seekers to seek God's answer on the question.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Dec. 14, 2010 3:46 p.m.

    Mike - I appreciate it when you comment on our comments. I need to re-read some of your past articles as a lot of time passes from some of the earlier editions.

    I don't know if you would be willing to do this but I would find it very interesting to know what evidences (outside of the spirit) you find the strongest for the BofM and what issues you hope will see stronger evidence in the future? I would be interested to hear this from someone who has studied to the extent that you have.

    For me, the old world journey evidences and the witness testimonies (when many had motivation to retract but did not) tend to resonate the strongest. I actually think once the Lehites leave for and land in the new world the evidences get shakier. But I know that is also where your articles are headed so I look forward to them.

    I would also be interested in knowing if you, as some here seem to believe, think God would or has intentionally withheld evidence for faith testing purposes. I tend to think very logically and do not find that too persuasive.

    Thanks again!

  • Jiggle Clearfield, UT
    Dec. 14, 2010 2:28 p.m.

    @Alberta Reader

    You are right when you write....we all have to believe how we choose.

    When the Mormon is confronted with scripture from the Bible or other sources that refutes the teachings of the Mormon Church, or when he is faced with documentation proving the unreliability of the BoM and other text, or when you have shown a dozen absolute contradictions from Mormon sources, you will probably be treated with "THE MORMON TESTIMONY." Almost all Mormon testimonies are identical. If you ask the sincere Mormon, "How do you know these things are true?" He will probably respond, "Because I've prayed about it and the Holy Ghost has manifested the truth of these things to me." It's like ya'll are programmed!

    Mormons believe an inner feeling is the manifestation of the Holy Ghost. There is circular logic to the spiritual witness paradigm that is accepted in the church. The concept of using a feeling to establish whether something is true or false has not been established as reliable. Feelings or 'the spirit' have been demonstrated to be wrong many times.

    I think there is something more trustworthy than feelings. They are logic, reason, and evidence.

  • Mike Ash Ogden, UT
    Dec. 14, 2010 2:00 p.m.

    Michael_M, you need to re-read this last article. I clearly point out that all Native Americans (and Pacific Islanders) can likely and legitimately be called Lamanites because they are related (geneaologically) to Lehi.

    Idaho Cougar, thanks for your input. My earlier articles dealt with how we know "revelation" from opinion, as well as the translation process. Words do not have meanings by themselves, but only in specific contexts (more on this in the future).

    Keep in mind the Church is one of God's tools to help us in our _personal_ relationship with the divine.

    Pierda, patience my friend. Answers are forthcoming.

    Lastly, there is no revelation or official position on this topic so I am not undermining the prophets or leaders. In the absence of revelation we are all free to reach conclusions based on evidence and analysis.

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    Dec. 14, 2010 1:40 p.m.


    I have read enough from FAIR. Read what I have said. D&C 28 was supposed to be the Lords words, sending the early church on its first mission to the Lamanites.

    Either it was or was not revelation. A mission was taken to the American Indians. Either it was to do what the Lord commanded or it was dreamed up.

    The harm to living American Indian LDS members from this logic and wordplay is beyond most LDS to understand. Try living in two worlds, two cultures.

    As far as I am concerned, FAIR and their writings are destroying faith.

    Once more I will ask, is D&C 28 the words of the Lord or Joseph Smith's idea of who the Lamanites are?

    Remember, the preface (not the introduction) to the Book of Mormon clearly states that it is written for the living Lamites today. Arguments about geography ending in 421 AD are destroying the faith of living American Indians.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    Dec. 14, 2010 1:18 p.m.

    Again, 100,000 attacks found no fatal BoM flaw. Einstein had 101 attacks, and said if really wrong it would only take one book.

    Those daring the honest experiment know its true, everything else is enlightening details.

    @Jacks, if only one believed, it wouldnt change BoM truth.

    "Skins" again shows the BoM is ancient. Lehites were a single brown race, probably knowing nothing of Irish white.

    We mistakenly read in a racially charged culture, but anciently "religious conversion was described figuratively as a change in skin color..."black skin"...a metaphor for irreligiosity." (Wiki quote)

    That some LDS misunderstood (leaders included) indicates that JS couldnt have knowingly made up such terms.
    But JS taught intellectual equality and was attacked for racial progressiveness. Staker knows JS check "Hearken" for abolitionism vs emancipationism; Black activists were separationists etc.

    Seer stones were employed by God since ancient times, like lots etc.

    I still love those justifying attacks with misconstruction, some even falsely supposing dishonesty leads to salvation...but????

    @MikeM keep reading. "Lamanite" has multiple meanings. Not ALL Native Americans are necessarily from Laman, check Mike, and here he argues all maybe from Lehi.

    DC "Lamanite" might include Jaredites (Moroni called them "brethren"??)etc.

  • Alberta Reader Magrath, Alberta
    Dec. 14, 2010 1:00 p.m.

    Jiggle or Joggle
    Good to see you back whether you believe it or not I like you.
    I am aware the 14 million is the total number and yes many don't stay with the church you are right there. Never the less still a remarkable book after all this time. I have a testimony of it and the only way I will loose it is through my own actions and choices in other words agency. We all have to comment and believe how we choose

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    Dec. 14, 2010 12:47 p.m.

    Are there places in the Bible where the Lord/prophets use threats if readers of the Bible don't believe? I think there are at least two or three references by prophets in the BOM as referenced by Bill. To paraphrase "believe these things or they will condem you at the bar of God" etc. God threatens Emma if she doesn't go along with polygamy in the D&C. Just curious, any threats about beleiving in the Bible?

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    Dec. 14, 2010 12:33 p.m.

    sharrona | 9:55 a.m. Dec. 14, 2010
    Layton, Ut
    "JM ,I still curiously wonder what good critics believe comes from dishonestly leading people from BoM truths. (Your Salvation)"

    To sharrona/cmtam:

    I appreciate that you think you are working to provide my (and other Mormons') salvation, however, you have not offered anything on any of these posts to point any of us toward what your opinion of salvation would be. You often quote from greek versions/variations of the Bible, but those are usually done to try and prove that Mormons are (Wrong!), as you like to put it.

    What do you offer besides telling me that I am (Wrong!)?

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    Dec. 14, 2010 12:21 p.m.

    I see at FAIR that Lamanites are not Indians.

    Amerindians_as_Lamanites, 20th_century_views

    At FAIR they say an official church spokesman has said that Lamanites being Indians is not in scripture.

    I guess D&C 28 must not be the Lord's words. I guess Joseph Smith dreamed up the mission to the "Lamanites" and sent Oliver Cowdery to the Indians just for fun.

    What is wrong with everyone?

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Dec. 14, 2010 11:57 a.m.

    To Sharrona: The problem is that Joseph Smith was a man with human frailties. Sure I agree he boasted and in truth he probably did know more than a lawyer, a scientist and even a teacher pertaining to certain things. Every man, woman and child will do the same thing. That doesn't make him a false prophet.

    You through that around because you yourself have stated that the prophets are dead and we will have no more prophets. Really then tell me about the two prophets that will be killed in Jerselume prior to the second coming of the Lord. Will they become prophets after spending three days in the street or will they be prophets long before that day. Prophets are called by God, not by man. That call won't be because someone wants to believe but because they were called long before they were known as prophets.

    Jesus Christ knew Abraham long before he was born, just he knows each and every person born on this earth. Why because he knew them before in the pre-existance. That quote is proof of the pre-existance.

    This is the Church of Jesus Christ restored.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Dec. 14, 2010 10:55 a.m.

    "Mormonism, must stand or fall on Joseph Smith; He was either a prophet of God or a fraud, no middle ground." Joseph Fielding Smith.

    I'm not sure I think it is a helpful quote or standard quite frankly. There are similar quotes about the BofM. But the problem is that it almost sets a standard of perfection for both prophets and the BofM.

    I personally think it is very likely that God revealed important things through his modern prophets AND allowed them to speculate and express their personal opinions about many other things. Similarly the BofM could be a work containing both revelation AND JS's opinions and creative additions.

    This does create a problem for members to distinguish actual revelation from opinion, tradition, culture, administration, etc. But I suppose that is what free agency is all about. And probably why I wear the title of "cafeteria mormon" with pride. God has given each of us his spirit along with logic, reason and life experiences. I use them to decide how I should be living my life rather than relying soley on men or the church handbook of instruction for everything I do, say and think.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    Dec. 14, 2010 9:55 a.m.

    JM ,I still curiously wonder what good critics believe comes from dishonestly leading people from BoM truths. (Your Salvation)

    Mormonism, must stand or fall on Joseph Smith; He was either a prophet of God or a fraud, no middle ground. Joseph Fielding Smith.

    But there were also false prophets, among the people, just as there will be false teacher among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies even denying the sovereign Lord[ Aseity](2 Peter 2:1)

    Bill in Nebraska said, If the book is written by a man that has never studied much less read the Book of Mormon, Wrong. JS was a quick learner.
    Joseph Smith said Dont employ lawyers, or pay them money for their knowledge, for I have learned that they dont anything. I know more than they all. (HofC)

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    Dec. 14, 2010 9:28 a.m.

    "Faith is the belief in things unseen but are true."

    By your definition, Faith in the Quran means that the Muslim religion is TRUE.

    Or does your definition only pertain to Faith in the LDS church.

    Now here is a definition that I can go with

    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1, KJV).

    I also like these Websters definitions

    "firm belief in something for which there is no proof"

    " something that is believed especially with strong conviction"

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 14, 2010 9:23 a.m.

    First, it was not me that pointed out the LDS number games. Although I don't think the number of members has anything to do with truth. It would be interesting to know the number of LDS people that have left the faith. Such information is of course kept secret. Why do you suppose that is?

    Second, if I stand before God for judgment, and he condemns me for not believing in the BoM, then frankly he is a God I'm not interested in worshiping anyway. I don't believe in a God that uses dark skin as a curse. I don't believe in a God that commands his prophets to murder other people. I don't believe in a God that uses magic rocks to reveal things to his children. Especially where the guy using the rocks has already been convicted of defrauding people using the same method of revelation. It would take several books to list the reasons to not believe in the BoM, but these few facts alone would justify disbelief to a benevolent God. If God requires a denial of rational thinking and common sense, then I'm not interested in following him.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Dec. 14, 2010 6:46 a.m.

    Again Faith is the belief in things unseen but are true. True knowledge comes from the Holy Ghost. By the way Jax, every Church counts its members the same especially the Catholic Church but no Church has the membership records of the LDS Church. It is true that about 40-50% attend on a regular basis, the same as any other sect, so your statistics are just that statistics. Millions have prayed and done exactly as Moroni has suggested and received thei witness to the Book of Mormon.

    It doesn't matter where it took place. What matters is what is in the book itself, as another testament of Jesus Christ. I believe in due time the Lord will answer many questions but those who have borne witness of this marvelous book has been written in the Book of Life in Heaven. When some of you appear before judgement and are given the task you shall ask where was I told and then this Book will come forth as a testament against you. Those are the facts. It is here and it will stay. The LDS Church will continue to grow even larger until the Lord Jesus Christ returns.

  • working class Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 14, 2010 1:18 a.m.

    "That's all fine and good, but what about the glaring fact that a Great Lakes model is in the middle of a continent? How did they get there across the open ocean in a boat and still have the impression that they were on "an isle of the sea?" Of course this renders the Great Lakes "theory" totally bonkers. Either they poled their way up the Mississippi or took the St Lawrence Seaway.

  • working class Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 14, 2010 1:10 a.m.

    " In fact, studies suggest that all of the people on earth today have a common ancestor who may have lived as recently as the time of Christ." What?? This I've got to see!

  • JM Lehi, UT
    Dec. 14, 2010 12:58 a.m.

    I still curiously wonder what good critics believe comes from dishonestly leading people from BoM truths.

    Are both the NE LDS Native American? We need more LDS comments, and Lamanite LDS are even better, so please stick around.

    I think Mike agrees the D&C correctly calls Northerners Lamanites.

    Im certainly Old School on inclusiveness. Ive posted many comments on DNA, migrations, legends, etc, explaining how most Native Americans are probably descended from BoM people. (i.e. recent studies trying to explain DNA compared to morphology (Native skulls don't look Asian, but MEast, Armenian (10 tribes), Polynesian, etc) found that very few migrant interactions with founding inhabitants (Jaredites etc) might have buried DNA. Joseph also likely married an "Asiatic" Egyptian related to Seljuks (Central Asians, with iron bows, related to Lamanites and possibly to Jaredites) etc)

    I dont exclude the Maya etc, and JS certainly didnt.

    Cmtman: many understood 3 heavens, Israelites, Early Christians, etc. I know where JS got the info, but ask how the Maya knew 3 levels, foliated apron, cross/tree, rebirth from sea/womb waters/tomb etc (impossible unmentioned details)

    IC: thanks my friend, Ive many questions, but know the important one...

    ...its true : )

  • Jiggle Clearfield, UT
    Dec. 14, 2010 12:15 a.m.

    @ Alberta Reader

    It is misleading to say their are 14 million members since the LDS Church counts inactive members as well as anybody who has left the Church without officially resigning. The 14 million number is inaccurate and even so--14 million out of billions of people is insignificant.

    Otherwise, if the BoM could stand on its' own there would be no need for Mr. Ash as an apologist. Also-people would have no need to argue various theories in order to justify their beliefs. Statements people make are either absolutely true because they conform to reality, or false because they conflict with reality. Statements or claims are either true or false. If you have to justify or twist the information to make it fit.... you have not arrived at truth. Consensus is impossible, with our current level of knowledge and belief through faith only brings truth to those who have that faith. Faith isn't a reliable path to truth. Faith" is simply pulled out whenever attempted arguments based on reason and evidence fail.

  • Alberta Reader Magrath, Alberta
    Dec. 13, 2010 10:27 p.m.

    To Jax
    If this book is made up it sure is remarkable to stand such a test of time complete with 14 millions members. The Fact is the book is here, it got here somehow and it won't be going away

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Dec. 13, 2010 8:09 p.m.

    To Idaho Cougar:

    Sure there are always questions as to where the Book of Mormon took place. Where are the ancestors and even are there actual ruins? These have come up time to time but I look at this way, if the Lord meant for us to know it he would have provided a way for us to know. It is thus sufficient for me to know that by faith I can know the trueth of all things. It is through faith that we can learn the mysteries of God. That in and of itself allows me to put such questions aside and learn for what the Book of Mormon is for, Another Testament to the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

    To cmtam: If the book is written by a man that has never studied much less read the Book of Mormon but is basing his point that it was around Joseph Smith then all I have to say is that it is rubbish. Trying to explain where the revelation came from is like me trying to decide whether Moses or Abraham were the greater prophet. It doesn't mean beans.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Dec. 13, 2010 7:02 p.m.

    RE: Chachi

    I answered yout question about "isles" last week.

    "Isle" is used to refer to a coastal land, coastal nation, or a coastal city,

    there are many examples of it being used that way by the people of that time in the old testament.

    and Jacobs parents were from the Old world,

    Since ship sailed from the west sea and no mention of them from the east sea,

    and sciptures seemto mention there was deep waters tothe west,

    that seems to imply the west sea was much larger and deeper than the east sea, that they knew the east sea did not go any where.

    so is east a lake or bay?

    and we know the BOM people lived on an "Isle" or coastal place as mentioned by Jacob,

    and we know several cities were sunk just before Christ came to america.

    That all seems to imply some where along the west coast of the americas.

    I believe the narrow_neck mentioned by the jaredites, isa feature, greatly over exagerrated by BOM map makers and_has no great significance other than_a great city was built nearby, there's no mention it_even separated the north and south lands, just_was central.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Dec. 13, 2010 5:31 p.m.

    JM - I have stated in the past that I appreciate your testimony. I wonder though if you have any unanswered questions about the BofM? I know many who have a strong testimony but also have questions that they either have had to set aside and/or are exercising faith to overcome.

    It seems that you are able to brush aside any question about the BofM with the explanation that it has already been answered or must be a false accusation. Is that because you have struggled through each one and come to a satisfactory explanation or is your testimony such that you know any and all arguments must somehow be false and explanable? It seems that you look at evidence and consider it rock solid while other believers, including Ash, seem to consider it parallel and something that strengthens or increases the likelihood but not necessarily absolute.

    Again, not attacking just interested in how you approach this stuff. And frankly I think you represent that vast majority of active LDS. Members who have serious questions or even think along the lines of an apologist are much fewer in number.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Dec. 13, 2010 5:33 p.m.

    I think that the purpose for this series of articles is very clear. It is to provide insight into the various theories of possible Book of Mormon locations. No one knows where the Book of Mormon happened, so this is purely for fun and the intellectual exercise. It should not affect anyone's testimony in any way.

    There are those who suggest that, given their own confusion, "educated people" must conclude that the Book of Mormon is false because Latter-day Saints enjoy speculating about such things as the location of Book of Mormon events. Speaking as an educated Mormon, I can say that there is no reason at all to conclude that the Book of Mormon is false.

    By the way, I have not gotten any impression that Michael Ash believes in the "Great Lakes Theory," so there should be no reason to chastize him about it. Explaining a theory (with some objectivity, I might add) does not imply advocacy.

  • cmtam lake forest, ca
    Dec. 13, 2010 5:05 p.m.

    JM, Joseph Smith had help,In Historian Quinn,s book,"Mormonism and the Magic World View," has said that various parts of the plan of salvation were taken by Joseph Smith, Jr. from Emanuel Swedenborg's book Heaven and Hell. In the book,Swedenborg wrote that "There are three heavens" that are "entirely distinct from
    each other. He called the highest heaven "the Celestial Kingdom and stated that the inhabitants of the three heavens corresponded to the "sun, moon and stars." Swedenborg's book also mentions a veil, spirit prison and celestial marriage.
    Quinn states that the book was available to Smith, and that he was familiar with it. One account claims that Smith told Latter Day Saint convert
    Edward Hunter that "Emanuel Swedenborg had a view of the world to come, but for daily food he perished. also, Quinn says that the book was in the Palmyra public library beginning in 1817, and that 9 miles from Smith's farm.

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    Dec. 13, 2010 1:44 p.m.

    Lamanites were already defined in the Doctrine and Covenants. The use of the word Lamanite in the D&C is argued as Joseph Smith's word choice at FAIR.

    That is the same as denying the words of the Lord.

  • Waikiki Gal Waimanalo, HI
    Dec. 13, 2010 1:14 p.m.

    These articles are an attempt to redefine the clear language of the BoM, and what has been taught by our apostles and prophets. I really have to wonder what the purpose of these articles really is.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    Dec. 13, 2010 1:01 p.m.

    I think the Mesoamerican theory arose because it fits best with abundant internal and external BoM evidence, but the NA theory has some merit, and shouldn't be dismissed without discussion.

    Those crying "no evidence" mislead, again...: )

    @Cowboy, JB, MikeM, IC(congrats on rereading the BoM, think I will too) etc, i fel Mike soundly defines Lamanites, and has offered several explanations on how they got to NA. We spent some time discussing Lamanites and the translation process (hat etc) months ago, discussed X DNA also, check those out if you havent yet.

    Mike (books, on FAIR etc) and others offer quality discussions of how the NY hill came to be called Cumorah etc. We must remember that JS probably understood the DC and other issues better than most, (of course Mormon knew more and Moroni, etc)but JS apparently believed BoM peoples were in Mesoamerica, and thought Palenque may be a BoM city etc.

    The BoM describes migrations, northward movement, etc. However, even JS didnt claim revelation on the issues, but offered several differing opinions.

    Ivic: welcome back. Sometimes you have to edit to get posted, only get4, I was glad Mike offered resources lw.

  • Waikiki Gal Waimanalo, HI
    Dec. 13, 2010 12:52 p.m.

    I think it might be time for the Church to step in and officially pull the plug on these articles. I think they may be causing some confusion by publishing Mr. Ash's theories in a Church owned newspaper.

  • Pierda kaysville, ut
    Dec. 13, 2010 11:45 a.m.

    Mr. Ash. if you read this, can you please answer a few questions that I have about these Great Lakes theories.

    1) Can somebody please show me where Moroni ever referred to that hill in New York as the hill Cummorah? I only see references from others...way after the fact.

    2) I've heard that the current site for the "Hill Cummorah" is acutally not the hill where Joseph acutally obtained the plates.

    3) How did Hagoth sail to the islands of the Pacific and back several times from the Great Lakes?

    4) If Alma and his people can walk from the land of Nephi to Zarahemla in 12 days, why did it take Joseph Smith and the Men of Zion's Camp three months to cover that same distance (supposing the Great Lakes Theory is true)

    5) Lastly, if Moroni witnessed the complete destruction of his people at Cummorah, and was being relentlessly hunted by the Lamanite armies, why would he just hang around that spot for the next 35 years waiting to bury the plates? Logic indicates that an experienced soldier like him would get as far from there as possible.

  • lvic las vegas, nv
    Dec. 13, 2010 10:24 a.m.

    jm - for some reason last week i was not able to post a comment i tried several times but it wouldn't work. i will look up the resources you suggested. thanks

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 13, 2010 10:14 a.m.

    It's interesting that all of these theories to explain the BoM require redefining words or subscribing to irrational explanations. The take away from most of Ash's writings is that 1) the scriptures cannot be trusted since the words written there could mean just about anything; and 2) the prophets cannot be trusted because we never know when they are speaking as a prophet or a man and again their words could be twisted to mean anything. Getting a straight answer from Ash is like nailing jello to a wall.

    At some point you have to sit back and ask yourself, why doesn't any of this make sense? Why would a book that is supposed to give us clarity and understanding be clouded in so much confusion? Would God expect his children to find salvation only by believing in such nonsensical things? Why do people ignore the one theory that does answer all of the questions? The answer that fits with the evidence and circumstances surrounding the Book of Mormon. The theory is of course the theory that the whole thing is made up. Please at least be open to such a possibility.

  • Magajuwin 1 Scottsbluff, NE
    Dec. 13, 2010 10:07 a.m.

    it is nice to know that a man can preach apostasy words. just to make his point. D&C 28 and 57 were the lords word choice and not mans. if you believe in the B of M. than you must repent. For you are despising us and doing like it states in 3 Nephi 16:8-12, 3 Nephi 20: 15-16,20-21.
    You can say what you want but when you took the church from us and place a million dollar one in rapid city. You have now fullfilled the words of christ. who be unto you, you must repent or face the lords wraith. be advised it will be given unto us and we will be as lions. Wake up and repent.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    Dec. 13, 2010 9:50 a.m.

    Mike Ash,"Not only are some words ambiguous,some words actually can mean opposite things depending on the context. Following are just a few[Biblical] examples":
    "And Ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing"James 2:3 KJV)
    "If you show special attention to a man wearing fine clothes..."(James 2:3 NIV)

    "The angels which kept not their first estate" (arche).(Jude 6 KJV).
    The angels who were once pure and holy but turned to a life of sin.(Jude 6 LB)
    Fallen angels, nothing to do with preexistence, or a second estate. Poor translation by KJV.

    a holy nation a peculiar people(1 Peter 2:9)
    a holy nation a people belonging to God(1 peter 2:9 NIV)

    the Firstborn(prototokos) over creation. (Col 1:15 Greek N.T) refers to his to position . To the Hebrew, it meant the son who had preeminence. "I will also appoint my firstborn'(Psalm 89:27) verse 20,"I found David",was not literally the firstborn son. First-created in Greek is protoktisis.

    Mike Ash makes a good argument for the need of modern translations of the Bible in the Mormon Chruch.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Dec. 13, 2010 9:01 a.m.

    Thanks again Mike!

    Mike's first point discussed the meanings of certain words in the BofM. Apologists often claim that certain words in the BofM could actually have different meanings than we may assume them to have today.

    But the problem with word meanings in the BofM is related to the translation process. As LDS, we grew up with the idea that JS looked at old world characters on the plates and through the Urim Thummim translated them into english.

    But witnesses to the translation process state that JS put his seer stone into a hat and placing his face over the had to exclude the light actual words and sentences appeared to him. They disappeared only after he was confident his scribes had written them down exactly as he saw them.

    This is not an anti-Mormon argument. I first learned of this process from a talk given by an apostle in the MTC. The talk can be found at LDS dot org. But for some reason this translation process is never mentioned in LDS correlation materials.

    JS received the exact words via the seer stone/hat process. There really should be no issues with word "meanings".

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Dec. 13, 2010 8:44 a.m.

    The Northern continent presents a number of problems for the Book of Mormon, so Church defenders began broadening their scope of the Nephite territories. Between DNA and conflicting archaeology another problem arose, the lack of evidence in a field that was widely growing. In defense apologists theorized a limited geography, which tries to force the lack of evidence equation back into a "needle-in-a-haystack" of sorts. The two Cummorah's theory is strictly a contrivance that strains credulity, and is yet necessary for any alternative model. Why would Cummorah be necessary if the plates weren't intended to be transmitted through a historical deposit?

    We can argue semantics over what constitutes a "Lamanite", but Joseph Smith also addressed geography. In the Zelph account Joseph placed the last great battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites around the Missouri area. Furthermore he described the reputation of a Lamanite that went from Missouri to the eastern sea. Lastly, and to further complicate, according to Brigham Young Moroni dedicated the ground for the Temple in Manti Utah. It is clear that early Church Prophets assert revelation in support of a northern geography. This presents a real problem for apologists.

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    Dec. 13, 2010 7:52 a.m.

    One of the problems with migrations and intermarrying is that there is a distinct DNA marker in the northern regions not found in Meso-America.

    This complicates whichever Book of Mormon geography theory is considered.

    A troubling aspect of Michael Ash's article is the use of the word Lamanite.

    Look at the Doctrine and Covenants.

    D&C 28:8 And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them

    The first LDS mission to the Lamanites went to people who have that DNA marker not found south of the border.


    D&C 57:1 "Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God..."

    4 "Wherefore, it is wisdom that the land should be purchased by the saints, and also every tract lying westward, even unto the line running directly between Jew and Gentile..."

    Missouri was the western boundary of the United States at that time. West of it was Indian country. The line running between was the Missouri border. And the Lord called the Indians west of it "Jews".

    But Michael Ash's article says it was only Joseph Smith's words.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    Dec. 13, 2010 7:27 a.m.

    Another great article Mike. The DNA studies were very enlightening, especially in light of your past articles, and your language discussions are always excellent.

    I believe Indigenous Americans intermarried often and migration was culturally important. The Hopi, for example, say they came across waters and migrated from the south, and others came by the "back door," across ice. Dine legends tell of coming from the north. Both tribes have intermixed.

    @Ivic last week, hope you return. If you read the resources Mike suggested you know our critics are often less than honest. They're up to the same shenanigans here. Sometimes, when repeatedly caught misconstruing, they disappear and maybe return with new accounts, pretending to be searching etc. It's fun, and sorry I read your comment too quickly and assumed.

    I love critics, especially because they helped lead me to the Gospel. I was attending several Churches, dating a "born again" etc, and decided to truly investigate their claims about LDS family.

    @scientist, hopefully Mike will throw in Greek words next week, to keep you coming back ; ).
    You must not be reading my comments about your repeating idea that Jesus brags...if I only knew Greek... ; )

    One Jesus.

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    Dec. 13, 2010 7:03 a.m.

    Sincere question.

    Joseph Smith found the plates at Cumorah in New York.

    Plates translated into BOM refer to Hill Cumorah.

    Why would anyone even begin to think that the Cumorah where the plates were found would not be the exact same Cumorah as referred to in the plates?

    Below is a statement that that combines logic and common sense in the matter.

    In 1953, Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve stated:

    I do not believe that there were two Hill Cumorahs, one in Central America and the other one up in New York, for the convenience of the Prophet Joseph Smith, so that the poor boy would not have to walk clear to Central America to get the gold plates.

    Did the theory of 2 hills only come about because there was not physical evidence found at the hill in NY?

  • Chachi Charlottesville, VA
    Dec. 13, 2010 6:14 a.m.

    That's all fine and good, but what about the glaring fact that a Great Lakes model is in the middle of a continent? How did they get there across the open ocean in a boat and still have the impression that they were on "an isle of the sea" (2 Nephi 10:20)? And if it's taking place around New York and Ontario, why is there no mention of snow in the Book of Mormon except figuratively?

    I'd like to hear any possible answers to these questions if there are any. Otherwise, let's move on to the Mesoamerican model.