Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Of Zelph, Lamanites, Geography, and DNA

In my opinion, the text of the Book of Mormon inherently points to a limited geographical scope for the New World events it describes. That geography is remarkably self-consistent and can be fit in Mesoamerica. But those who recognize the limited geography of the Book of Mormon text are often challenged to reconcile that view with a statement from Joseph Smith about a white Lamanite named Zelph. The alleged statement has been used to suggest that Book of Mormon events spanned the hemisphere, and that final battle of the Nephites and the Lamanites was in the United States, not Mesoamerica. The Zelph story is fascinating, but has been warped by hearsay and sloppy journalism. An effort to correct several mistakes in popular understanding regarding that story can be found in an article by Ken Godfrey, "What is the Significance of Zelph In The Study Of Book of Mormon Geography?" I urge you to read it. It also explores some issues of Book of Mormon geography, showing that at least by 1842 Joseph Smith may have supported the concept that Zarahemla was in Mesoamerica, consistent with the modern limited geography view of many LDS scholars who delve into the details of the Book of Mormon.

I mention Zelph by way of prelude to the issue of DNA and the Book of Mormon. Daniel Carlson asked if I was going to comment on a recent USA Today story on DNA and the Book of Mormon, giving publicity to ex-Mormon Simon Southerton's attack on the Church based on the DNA issue. I don't think that the story brings up anything new that hasn't already been refuted previously. As I show in my own little essay on DNA and the Book of Mormon, the critics miss the boat on several counts. Southerton seems to think that refuting popular but naive views on the Book of Mormon, rather than what the Book of Mormon actually says, is enough to destroy the Church. These popular and naive views maintain that the Book of Mormon describes the origins of all Native Americans from South America to North America, and that when the term "Lamanite" is used to refer to modern Native Americans, it means that they are primarily descended from Lehi. By showing that many Native Americans in fact have Asian roots, we are now supposed to abandon the Book of Mormon and the Church.

When LDS apologists point out that the Book of Mormon does not deny the existence of other groups and other migrations, show that "Lamanite" is often used in a non-genetic sense, or explain that the text does not require a hemispheric scope, the critics scoff and say that this is pathetic backpedaling in light of the devastating DNA evidence. In fact, if our prophets had been real prophets, we are told, they would have been clarifying the scientific details of the Book of Mormon long ago, teaching us the limited geographic scope of the Book of Mormon and the existence of other migrations.

Actually, Joseph Smith, at least in 1842, was open to the idea of a Mesoamerican geography for the Book of Mormon and also had no problems with the idea of other migrations, based on a statement about the Toltecs (I discuss this on my DNA page.) Other Church leaders such as Anthony Ivins in the 1920s have also warned against naive assumptions about the Book of Mormon, and have pointed out that other peoples not mentioned in its pages may have come here to populate this continent anciently. Many voices in the Church have long taught exactly what apologists are explaining now - it's not a new innovation in response to DNA studies. It's simply progress in better understanding what the text actually says.

The arguments of the DNA critics also seem to require the naive notion that everything real prophets say and do must be inspired. The reality is that prophets have their own opinions and notions, and can pick up a lot of human baggage in their thinking, one of the downsides of being human. When God speaks and they give us revelation, that is wonderful, but God does not take over the prophets' brains 24-7. I am not aware of any official First Presidency statements or canonized teachings that pin down the origins of all Native Americans, or that settle the issue of Book of Mormon geography. For some reason, the prophets have been concerned with getting people to repent and come to Christ and serve the Lord, at the expense of seeking revelation on scientific details relevant to the Book of Mormon. Perhaps the day will come when prophets have almost as much passion for science as they do for service and charity, and that they will seek revelation on the details that interest me, but for now, I think it's up to us individually to do the best we can to understand the text. We must not be bound by naive but popular assumptions of the past, even if good men in high positions in the Church held such opinions.

The reality is that the Book of Mormon is not inconsistent with predominately Asian origins for Native Americans. The Jaredites probably brought over some of this Asian DNA. (The Book of Mormon provides internal evidence that Jaredite influence was still strong long after Ether saw the great destruction of the Jaredite civil war - showing that not everyone joined and stuck with the two fighting armies that destroyed each other.) We don't even know anything about the DNA of the people that came with Lehi or later with Mulek. Did it include some Asian haplotypes? In any case, Lehi's tiny boatload of people entering a populated continent cannot be expected to have had a huge impact on the DNA of the continent 2600 years later. But it is entirely probably that this tiny drop of Middle Eastern influence did spread. Even with minimal gene flow, it is possible that nearly every Native American today is partly descended from Lehi, though it may be one part in 10,000 or so. The Book of Mormon never gave us any reason to expect that DNA testing would show most Native Americans to have Jewish DNA (whatever that is).

25 comments:

cayblood said...

Thanks for that good summary. I believe that one thing that should also be mentioned in regards to this issue is that the D&C in more than one place refers to brethren being called to preach to the Lamanites, and to the Lamanites receiving the gospel, sometimes referring specifically to North American geographic locations. While I believe that it is entirely possible that remnants of Lamanite blood have spread throughout the native populations of North America, one should concede that its influence is undoubtedly very minor in the overall gene pool, and it is probably not accurate to call such people "Lamanites."

So how does one reconcile this apparent contradiction of the facts with revelations received? I believe that even revelation is delivered to us by fallible men who receive inspiration from God and yet are not corrected in all their erroneous beliefs. They receive answers to the things they earnestly pray about but are not corrected in other matters until they ask.

For this same reason, I believe that it is imperative that we seek diligently to learn more of the Lord's gospel and truths and not to assume that we have it all, as some members do. Unfortunately I believe many members of the Church effectively say A Bible! A Bible! (only in their case, they say "A Book of Mormon! A Book of Mormon!" And in response I would say, "Know ye not that two thirds of your Book remain sealed because of your unbelief?"

Sorry for the rant, I sometimes get a little carried away. Thanks for your great comments.

Daniel Carlson said...

Thanks Jeff. Before I make a few points, I just mentioned USA Today as it _WILL_ get a lot of coverage.

1. I have read Southerton's exit sotry at RFM. He shows utter ignorance of what the BOM _actually_ says. He makes the errenous claim that The Book of Mormon mentions a Hebrew civilisation in the Americas totalling in the millions! And Murphy's essay was no better.

2. What critics fail to realise is that the Hill in New York _was not_ called Cumorah until _1833_! Thus, the Hemispheric model is unsustainable.

3. Thanks for actually reading my post. Kudos.

4. I know this is unrelated, but are you planing on dealing with the "Mulek" issue on your "My Turn" page? I just ask as i personally view this as a "Direct Hit."

The Zelph issue is fascinating and I have read the article you reference. Good stuff but it fails to shed light on the geography of the BOM, contra many critics.

Good post Jeff!

Daniel Carlson said...

Note:

What I meant is that the Zeph incident itself, not the article, does anything to prove BOM geography.

Daniel Carlson said...

Note:

What I meant is that the Zeph incident itself, not the article, does nothing to prove BOM geography.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read Southerton's book yet, but in what way is the claim that "The Book of Mormon mentions a Hebrew civilisation in the Americas totalling in the millions" erroneous?

Ether 15: 2
2 He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.

Do you mean that the Jaredites aren't Hebrews? Is this point somehow crucial to Southerton's case?

Anonymous said...

>>>Actually, Joseph Smith, at least in 1842, was open to the idea of a Mesoamerican geography for the Book of Mormon and also had no problems with the idea of other migrations, based on a statement about the Toltecs <<<

Note that in Smith's 1842 statement he accepted the claims of the Toltecs that their ancestors had themselves immigrated from Israel, at the time of Moses. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 266-267).

Mormanity said...

I discuss the Mulek issue on my Book of Mormon Evidences page and in more detail on an associated page, Mulek, Son of Zedekiah, which includes a citation of a FARMS publication, "Has the Seal of Mulek Been Found?" by Jeffrey R. Chadwick. It's a fascinating issue, one that ought to at least raise some eyebrows among those who have heard the old mantra, "There is not a shred of evidence in support of the Book of Mormon."

Kaimi said...

Mr. Anonymous asked,

"Do you mean that the Jaredites aren't Hebrews?"

Exactly correct. The Jaredites are NOT Hebrews. In fact, it is completely clear that they are not Hebrews.

This is not a controversial point or an apologist argument. I'll phrase it as clearly as possible: It is impossible to read the Book of Ether and believe that the Jaredites are Hebrews. No LDS church member (who has read the Book of Mormon) believes that the Jaredites are Hebrews. It is as clear as day.

The Jaredites descend from a group that came to America immediately after the Tower of Babel. Their arrival in America predated Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is chronologically impossible for them to have been Hebrews.

I say this as a sometime skeptic of Mormon apologists. I don't agree with everything Jeff Lindsay writes, and I have my qualms about the limited geography model. I don't know how well my statement will be received, since Mormon apologists sometimes make assertions ("All church members believe X") that I would disagree with. I hope I can make this clear. The non-Hebrew descent of the Jaredites is not a theory or a controversy or something that FARMS or FAIR dreamed up. It is completely clear from the text of the book and has never been controverted by any church leader, ever.

Meanwhile, any assertion that the Jaredites were Hebrews immediately calls into question whether the asserter has ever even read the Book of Mormon. It can _only_ be an error by the person making the assertion. There are no two ways about it.

Mormanity said...

Good point. I would agree that this is one of the few cases where it is safe to make a blanket statement: "nobody in the Church who has read the Book of Mormon or who has any kind of credibility teaches that the Jaredites were Hebrews." The Book of Mormon plainly teaches that the Jaredites came to the Americas long before there were Hebrews. And since LDS writers like Hugh Nibley have long suggested Asiatic ties for the Jaredites, the idea of ancient Asian genetic ties to the Americas is consistent with the Book of Mormon. The destruction that Ether witnessed cannot be taken as the loss of Jaredite genes. Jaredite genes were probably all over the continent by the time their core civilization self-destructed, and we find Jaredite names appearing among Nephite peoples centuries later, as if their presence and influence were still clearly present.

Octavio Wilmer said...

I hope you are well!

Anonymous said...

I am confused when members of the church accept the theories of secular scientists about the migration of asians to the western hemisphere before Lehi and company arrived. Do they also accept the time frame that said scientists put on these journeys? Doing so would call into question the validity of the whole christian model as they migrations are asserted by the scientists to have occured LONG before the time frame of the Bible or the Book of Mormon (in the case of the Jaredites).

Anonymous said...

Plato reported that he visited Atlantis which now seems feasibly identified by some to have been in Bolivia - if this is true then ancient links between the americas and Europe existed anyhow.
Of course there are many others who also specualte that cocaine in Egyptian mummies suggests possible ancient trade or even political links bewtween the continents.
If ancient Bolivians, Aztecs, Lamanties or any other named or unnamed populations traveled between ancient Greece, Atlantis (desribed by Plato as a city in one of ten kingdoms) and Egypt then the eastern trade route across the Pacific leading to Asia seems possible also. Thus intermingling could have produced even more Asian genetics.
More heresay or perhpas more than heresay is that Samuel the Lamanite was one the wise men who followed the star to Bethlehem and paid homage to the new born saviour. If this is true then how did he travel to the middle east.....

Paul......

Anonymous said...

Paul again...

Perhaps another point is that eleven of the twelve tribes of Israel were destoyed as collective identities thus their genetics would have dispersed elsewhere. If the present scientific trends in genetics state that native americans compare with asians then which Asian dna are they analysing - surely present day Asian dna 'could' contain the genes of ancient Israel anyhow.
Lehi was of the tribe of Mannaseh - who knows where the blood of the ancient Israeli Mannasehians ended up after their tribe went completely apostate and lost their collective ethnic and religious identity. To my limited knowledge only the Jews comprised of the tribe of Judah actually stayed together as a people and an ethnicity with a common genetic pattern.

Who knows........but its nice to think about these things and attempt to make sense of alot of mystery......

Paul......

Anonymous said...

"The Zelph story is fascinating, but has been warped by hearsay and sloppy journalism." An interesting statement to say the least. From my humble point of view, Ken Godfrey's article "What is the Significance of Zelph In The Study Of Book of Mormon Geography?" is exactly that, warped hearsay and sloppy journalism. After its all said and done did Joseph Smith actually receive a vision about Zelph? If the answer is yes then it raises doubts about the theory of limited geography. If the answer is no. That it was just speculation on the part of those who were there. Then it raises questions about other visions that Joseph Smith received that were recorded by others. Visions and revelations being recorded by others, by the way, was a common practice at the time. In my mind both sides of Mormon argument miss the target. Both sides twist the facts to meet their own agenda. Reminds me of a time when a young boy wanted to know which church to join.

Anonymous said...

To confused: From confused too: 20:47 PM January 05, 2006 The short
> > answer to your question is that the Asian migrations across the
> > Siberia land bridge before or after the last ice age to North and
> > South America (about 10,000 years ago) does call into question the
> > Christian and BofM versions of events. However, both the Christian
> > and Mormon (BofM) versions can fit into the greater context of the
> > scientific findings of mans history. To expand the Americas
> > migration concept further; each time we hear about other migrations
> > like the Kennewick man, or Egyptian mummifies having cocaine and
> > nicotine in them, that may have been transported from South America
> > we need to ask did they carry any records like the records of Laban
> > with him? (Just as a side note: some scientists now think they have
> > found evidence that man first arrived in the Americas 40,000 years
> > ago. What ever we learn from science you can be sure it will change.
> > What we learn from the scriptures we need to look at the scientific
> > knowledge of that day (or our day) and see how it fits. We must
> > remember, when the information in the scriptures was given to the
> > authors to compile, it was recorded in the frame of understanding
> > they had in their time and when we now read this information we must
> > place it in the knowledge we have at present. How does the events of
> > the scriptures fit into the science we have today? Tomorrow it will
> > change because our knowledge of science will change. Concerning the people before Adam and Eve:
> > there may be tribes in the middle of jungles living like stone age
> > man and obtaining no knowledge of Jesus Christ but they are included
> > in the promise that they will be given the chance to learn about the
> > gospel and except it. How are they any different from stone age man
> > from before Adam and Eve or before the ice age or any time period
> > from the start of man which may be 2 to 4 million years old.
> > Remember there are only 12 million members and 6 billion people.
> > From this I have to conclude most of the work will be done on the other side.
> > As a convert I have had to make many paradigm shifts in my thinking
> > about the Bible and BofM. If science is to be believed at all and I
> > think scientist are more correct than many Christians would like to
> > give them credit; we need to change the way we view the scriptures.
> > In looking at the seemly large errors or inconsisties in the
> > scriptures we need to keep in mind that the information given to the
> > authors of the scriptures from God were given information in the
> > context they understood as science of the time. God allows this
> > misinformation to be left in the scriptures so as to act as a
> > stumbling block to test the people of their faith. After a person
> > has exercised faith; found that God lives and the gospel is true
> > through prayer, the study of science and scripture starts to pay
> > off. If God wanted to give all the answers and make all things
> > completely clear He could easily do so. All people must be tried by
> > faith not by the proof of science. The best example I can think of
> > is; Christ had access to all knowledge of black holes, universes,
> > dark matter, the atom, DNA, the solar system and dinosaurs; yet; He
> > taught the people stories about mustard seeds, olive trees, and used
> > weather examples that were in common use at the time. He did not
> > think it was important to correct any errors in the scriptures that
> > are found in the old testament because he knew that anyone true of
> > heart and was prepared to receive His message would be touched by
> > the spirit and not led astray by any problems within the scriptures.
> > As I started to better understand the above concepts I had to
> > rethink a number of stories found in the scriptures.
> > One of the first is the six days of creation that trouble so many
> > people. If there is a God and He and his angles travel by light
> > beams, ie the speed of light and He can bend time and space then one
> > day to Him is not even close to what a day is to us. The author of
> > Genesis only understood that there was a time segment and he called
> > it a day when describing Gods relation to the creation. How long did it take?
> > You can place any time segment on it that best fits your
> > understanding.
> > Adam and Eve were put on this earth prepopulated with people; that
> > is if the time frame of the book of Genesis is correct and all the
> > details of this important story have not been left out. The
> > scriptures do not fill in the details of earth history but this
> > still does not change the important point that they came here to
> > deliver the gospel and deliver it to as many of the children of God as possible.
> > (This delivering of the gospel is the only key important element not
> > the details of how or when they got here.) If there were people
> > before Adam and Eve then God would have sent messengers, angels, or
> > other Adams or Eves to keep restoring the gospel. Such events are
> > not recorded in the scriptures before Adam and Eve but if science
> > finds that there were people before them then they are children of
> > God and will be adopted into the plan just as the scriptures states.
> > Noah's flood was most likely a local flood located in the middle
> > east and not a world wide flood, according to science. (In saying
> > this I did read a couple of good books by a geologists "The
> > Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch" and "Catastrophism and the Old
> > Testament" by Donald Westley Patten that tied the ice age and the
> > flood together . But his theory's still need a lot of work to be
> > proven. Most of his work can be found on the internet.) After Noah
> > left the ark he again taught the gospel to the people around the
> > area that came back into the flood zone. The idea or statement "the
> > whole world" is a concept of that time and confined to what they
> > could see or knew about. Again these ideas are a different twist but
> > not important elements that needs to be proven facts but requires faith.
> > Were the events of the Exodus magnificent miracles as it states in
> > the scriptures or just weather related events caused by God? Many
> > scientist think they were just weather related. Does it matter which
> > is correct? Does it change the primary reason to establish a Kingdom
> > of God. Because again the Children of Israel did not move into an
> > unpopulated area but moved into a populated area after they left
> > Egypt. They were to teach the gospel to a Cainite people that
> > populated the area that Isrsel is now located, as archeology teaches
> > today.
> > All of the ideas above leads us to how it is that we can justify the
> > Levites, Jadeites and Mulikites arriving in the Americas without
> > their leaving evidence of their arrival here.
> > Now to your question.
> > "I am confused when members of the church accept the theories of
> > secular scientists about the migration of Asians to the western
> > hemisphere before Lehi and company arrived. Do they also accept the
> > time frame that said scientists put on these journeys? Doing so
> > would call into question the validity of the whole Christian model
> > as they migrations are asserted by the scientists to have occurred
> > LONG before the time frame of the Bible or the Book of Mormon (in
> > the case of the Jardites)."
> > When Lehites, Jaredites and Mulikites arrived in the Americas they
> > were met by the Maya or other indigenous people. They quickly were
> > adsorbed into the indigenous population and became unrecognizable
> > from the local population with in a few years. Again they were sent
> > here to preach the gospel and set up God's kingdom not dominate the
> > area or leave behind DNA or archeological proof that they were here.
> > It would have be easy for God to have Lehi or others people to build
> > markers all over the land and then have a clear map in the BofM to
> > guide modern day scientists to them for discovery.
> > When Lehi arrived in Mesoamerica they were quickly absorbed into the
> > indigenous population. Laban and Lemuel may have been from another
> > mother. Even another mother and father of African/Asian decent.
> > Nephi, Sam, and Joseph were a mix of Jewish/Asian decent. The rest
> > of the group were a mix of Jew/Asian decent. When Laban and Lemuel
> > split off from the others this could account for the dark skin as
> > well as the lack of Jewish DNA problems. This could also account for
> > the bad feelings between the brothers. Some not being allow to have
> > the priesthood, leadership roles and coming from two different parents.
> > They were lost into the Mayan population within two generations. If
> > Laman and Lemuel came from another mother even another mother and
> > father of African/Asian decent and the Jardites came from
> > African/Asian decent this to would account for the Olmec stone heads
> > appearing to look African/Asian but no longer appear to be found in
> > the Mayan population of today. (Books on Africans and the Olmec are
> > on the internet.) Again the African influence could have remained in
> > the kings role and the Asian influence could have been the priestly role.
> > The African influence was killed off in wars described in the BofM
> > about the Jardites and the priestly Asian people were absorbed into
> > the Mayan people that were here when they arrived.
> > Nephi's group were lost into the Mayan population within 3 to 4
> > generations or may have been segregated by being in leadership,
> > royalty and hierarchal standing in society an intermarrying within
> > their own tight group. This would keep the Jewish DNA in a very
> > small group until it died off or was killed off. Many marriages were
> > arranged with other royalty for political reasons in the Mayan
> > culture. Such relationships would keep it a tight knit group at the
> > top. Within one generation the term Nephite and Laminite became a
> > cultural or political term not a racial term. As the BofM states the
> > Nephites which are now families of heads of state were the target of
> > assassination and hunted to extinction. Also the Mayan history
> > follow this same pattern of arranged marriages and killing of the
> > kings families and leaders of city states. Capture the king and his
> > family then kill them. Then set up your own king and his family.
> > The BofM record was kept by a small select secret priestly group (of
> > Mayans) that were rigorously trained in middle eastern language,
> > culture, history, thought and were directed to follow strict rules
> > to record and compile the BofM scriptures in middle eastern thought.
> > They lived the rest of their lives as Mayans but recorded in the
> > middle eastern traditions. Some of the middle eastern culture may
> > have made it into the Mayan culture but would be hard to detect
> > today. I think we should not look for a Jewish Nephite but, 99%
> > Mayan and maybe 1% middle eastern influence. This is the only way I
> > am able to justify many of the problems that the BofM has with us
> > trying to place the middle eastern culture in Mesoamerica. If a
> > Mayan historian of the BofM time was ask to record it's history with
> > no middle eastern training, the book would read very Mayan in style.
> > (One example is the story that a group of Central American people
> > migrated to Mesoamerica inside or on the back of 8 turtles. Not very
> > helpful to people seeking the truth of the gospel but might be fully
> > understood by a Mayan historian of their time. The 8 turtles were
> > the Jardites ships.) The reason for such strict middle eastern
> > record keeping was to keep it encoded so no one could tamper with
> > the scriptures and it would have the same feel and spirit as the
> > Bible. Many cultures down through time have recorded scriptures or
> > other important documents in code to keep others from knowing the
> > contents and to keep other people from altering them. Also the high
> > priests were the only one with access to the scriptures and secret
> > writings. The common people most likely could not read or write or
> > have scriptures. All the above are just my personal thoughts on
> > these subjects but would follow a pattern of many cultures.
> > Some things that have helped me better picture the events of the
> > BofM is to sububstitue Mayan for Laminite and Toltec with Nephite.
> > You can expand this with weapons, animals and other cultural expressions.
> >
> > Another example of the scriptures that needs to be viewed in there
> > historical context is found on Jeff's web page and is a new study of
> > the Book of Abraham that talks of stars and Kolob. These new
> > concepts; given to Abraham, fit our understanding better when viewed
> > in the time frame of the historical science that was understood by
> > the people of Abrahams time. I am not sure what Abraham was shown by
> > God but the people of his time thought that the sun revolved around
> > the earth, not the earth around the sun. If this was his frame of
> > reference then what ever he was shown he may have tried to put it
> > into the science that he most likely learned in Egypt or
> > Mesopotamia. This study of the Book of Abraham fits better if we use
> > the science of his time not the science of our time. God is not
> > worried if we do not understand the details of the science but that
> > we get the message He is trying to teach and have the faith to seek out more of His information.
> > I have learned from these examples and many more, God sends his
> > messengers from one people to another people to preach the gospel.
> > For me the rest of the facts that do not fit are there for us to
> > find out through science and archeology. The rest we need to have
> > the faith to seek out God for the spiritual answers. The best I can
> > tell God gives me impressions that confirm that the over all picture
> > is true but with very few of the details as to why it is true and
> > then leaves it up to me to make it all fit.
> >

Anonymous said...

The idea of a limited geography, that the Native American Indians were not the direct ancestors of Lamanites, that the Hill Cumorah is not the hill in the Book of Mormon are all conjecture, and hypothesis of men. You need to go back and read JSF's Doctrines of Salvation on the topic of Cumorah, Zelph and limited Geography. The Prophets, Apostles and other LDS Church leaders have indicated that such ideas represent apostate thinking and through revelation have confirmed that Central America is not the setting of the BM. The idea of a limited geography and two hills are also countered by an Institute study guide that I have where MGR is quoted from the 1975 Ensign. Jeff's conjecture about the truths of Mormonism contributed to my family discovering that Mormonism is False! Thank's Jeff! Keep up the good work of contributing to the "infinite discussions of men trying to arrive at a definition," of Christ's Gospel. You place everything that the "Prophets" have said that don't agree with your view to be simply the statement of men and not prophets!

Anonymous said...

the fact is nobody knows where the hill of the battle is and why try to find it?...

yorlik7 said...

It always amazes me what results when otherwise intelligent people are so narrowly selective in the evidence they choose to focus on. They choose the evidence that supports them and ignore the evidence that doesn't until the picture they see is entirely different than what any reasonable outsider sees who is looking objectively at the whole picture. I guess that's religion's effect - it skews the thinking of even scientifically minded people by making them weigh evidence so disproportionately to all notions of common sense and principles of analysis.

Anonymous said...

"The Prophets, Apostles and other LDS Church leaders have indicated that such ideas represent apostate thinking and through revelation have confirmed that Central America is not the setting of the BM."


This why all those egg heads at FARMS are all apostates and no longer in good standing in the church. The best I can tell you should becareful using words like "who is a apostate." I think the church leaders have made it clear that it is still open for study and debate. When the 12, with the vote and concent of the people want to put something in the standard works then I think you may want to limit whom you want to convict as apostates.

Anonymous said...

My father is a priest with the Community of Christ.He has been with RLDS since the 1950s.Now a name change...but not from the Book of Mormon.He is a retired MD and an avid amateur archeologist.He has told me that the population of the pre-Olmec societies were influenced by people crossing oceans to get to "america". This was around 2000 BC. Is it tue the Nephites and Laminites crossed oceans to get to "meso-america"? Thank you,RWT

SeƱor Dangriga said...

I think Zelph was just a tired Joseph's wry sense of humor showing through ("Geez, I gotta have an answer for every bone now?, OK, this one will drive 'em crazy for years!").

Ray said...

You and your readers should look at the website bookofmormonevidence.com
This really answers most of the questions.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me if my DNA can be traced to "Lucy" who lived more than 600,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, then the DNA of Middle East Hebrews should be able to be found in American Indians (if such DNA exists). Beginning with Joseph Smith and continuing until President Monson, the LDS have been told that American Indians were of Hebrew descent. This hasn't been rumors circulated by members, but preached from Apostles over the pulpit. Now we find they are not and the Church is back-peddling.
Also, Joseph Smith, himself, stated that the Hill Cumorah in North America was the site of the last Nephite-Lamanite battle. Also, that Zelph was killed battling Lamanites. Apologists would like us to believe Joseph Smith was mistaken about the geography of where the last battles were fought. If I believed Joseph was mistaken about Lamanites and last battles, then I'd have to believe he was mistaken about his visits from Moroni and his first vision.

Anonymous said...

Just one more small nail in the coffin: The supposed prophet Onandagus is drawn from the NY Indian tribe the Onandagas. JS really was stretching to tie in BOM history with Anglo perceptions of indigenous history. There are so many clues that he believed the central place for all of this "history" to have happened was the U.S. LGT in Central America just doesn't hold water at all. So, sure I believe in LGT--in reference to upstate NY mapped on to the whole of the New World by none other than old Joe himself. Thats why the BOM has a high degree of internal geographic consistency, but absolutely no external correspondence. It also accounts for the messed up traveling times.

Considering all of the crazy statements he made (City of Enoch=Gulf of Mexico, Garden of Eden=Missouri, Noah's place of departure=S. Carolina) it is the only logical conclusion. He wanted to set the U.S. up as a mythic place, worthy of God's attention. Sorry, Mr. Smith, but your misguided enthusiam shows. In fact, the entire book is only a testament to Joseph Smith and his 19th century worldview. Jeez, why can't everyone see it? One of my major turning points was the 1830 BOM. IT'S RIDDLED WITH SMITH'S COUNTRY GRAMMAR! These great "prophets" all speak like backwoods bumpkins. There is no room for the simple transcendence of something like John's gospel or Psalms because these guys are too busy a preachin' and a comin' for to fight one with another. Thus, whatever claims Mopologists have on the "beauty" of the text or supposed Hebraisms or the "authority" of KJV English don't hold, because the BOM is a piss-poor amalgamation of JS' hick dialect and Jacobean archaic structures. All of it is absolutely ridiculous!
Google Lake Onandag New York it was there back in Smith's day, he also used names from Pennsylvania towns and Indian tribes in the BOM

Jared said...

What about iron, domesticated animals, certain crops, written language having some form of hebrew or Egyptian? These are all absent in all pre columbian peoples and have to be explained when placing the BofM anywhere. Look at 19th century world view, thought and literature. Ethan Smith, The Late War, Samuel Mitchell's theories on early american peoples and the answers lie there.