The Book of Mormon’s Historicity and Supporting Evidence – part 2
by Cody Calderwood
Much of what I write from here on out is borrowed from “Mormon’s Codex” written by John L. Sorenson. I’m not going to summarize his entire book, but I will highlight a few areas that help support the historicity of the Book of Mormon.
The text of the Book of Mormon can be compared with the findings of Mesoamerican scholarship at several levels. One example is the final battle in the land of Cumorah in which the Nephites were exterminated. We learn from Mormon’s text that the Nephite forces were organized in armies of 10,000 men. According to Bernal Diaz, the Tlaxcalan forces that Cortez met on his approach to the Aztec capital were organized into five armies of ten thousand. This comparison is interesting, although the single parallel does not constitute a particularly compelling evidence for a connection. But when additional related correspondences are considered, we are justifiably more impressed. Another correspondence is captain Moroni and his standard of liberty. He fastened a flag on a pole and led his men to battle. Bernal Diaz also reported that the Tlaxcalan commanders led their men to battle with a “great standard” or flag on a pole strapped to their backs. This sounds like the same custom. In another part of the Book of Mormon we learn of another similarity. It is documented that warriors serving under a Mesoamerican military leader were conceptualized in a kinship framework as sons. We note the interesting correspondence with Helaman and his 2,000 youthful warriors who he led and considered “my little sons”.
All parallels are not equal though. Some are so similar that it would be hard to imagine them having originated independently by chance, while other parallels have a weaker connection. There are some fantastic correspondences that coincide so well that we cannot merely write them off as coincidence. There are others though that could have occurred elsewhere. But when all of the correspondences that scholars have found are taken into account as a whole, it becomes very difficult to merely dismiss them as coincidence. There are many correspondences with geographical locations in the Book of Mormon that allow us to make a map from the evidence we have. There are locations that we can pinpoint to modern archaeological digs and geographical sites like the land northward and the land southward, the narrow pass, the city of Zarahemla, the city of Nephi, waters of Ripliancum, Waters of Mormon, Hagoth’s shipbuilding site, city of Mulek, the mountain pass, Hill Amnihu, the east wilderness, the narrow strip of wilderness, headwaters of the river Sidon, and many more. I won’t list them here, but you can read about them in “Mormon’s Codex” in much greater detail in chapter 7.
Until recently the thought process was that the western hemisphere was populated by human migration across the Bering ice bridge. Now there is evidence that supports the theory that in addition to the Bering ice bridge migration, other peoples arrived in this hemisphere by way of transoceanic voyages, much the same way as the Jaredites and Lehi’s family did. The new evidence falls under six categories: 1-flora and fauna transfers, 2- disease transfers, 3-traditions, 4-ancient watercraft capability, 5-linguistic evidence, and 6-cultural comparisons.
Flora and fauna evidence– since the year 2000, there have been nearly 100 species of plants that were present in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres prior to Columbus’s first voyage to the America’s. There is evidence that there are about 35 additional species that could be added to that list. The biological duplications cannot be due merely to natural processes. The exact same species never evolves a second time in a second area. Nor do mechanisms at work in unassisted nature allow the successful transmission or transplantation of plants across an ocean. In fact, in the case of plants like the agave, pineapple, or sweet potato, each of which reproduces vegetatively rather than from seeds, it is inconceivable that wind, currents, or seed carrying birds could ever account for their transoceanic transfer. The only plausible explanation for these and related findings is that a substantial number of voyages crossed the oceans in the interval between the sixth millennium BC and Columbus’s voyage of discovery.
At least six creatures, including the American turkey, existed in pre-Columbian times on both sides of the oceans that separate the Americas from the Old World. The case of the domestic chicken is particularly informative. The fowl originated in Southeast Asia, but for years a handful of scientists who doubted the possibility of transoceanic voyage asked in vain, Were chickens also in the New World before the arrival of the Spaniards? Early Spanish historical records confirm the presence of the chicken, Gallus gallus, soon after their conquest if not before. Any uncertainty about the pre-Columbian presence of chickens has been laid to rest by two forms of evidence, one linguistic and the other archaeological.
Two other organism also testify to early contact across the ocean. Alphitobius diaperinus, known as the lesser mealworm, has been with Egyptian mummies dating to 1350 BC, and it has also been found in Peruvian mummies. Also, Stegobium paniceum, the “drugstore beetle”, was also present in Peru, as it was in Egypt and in Bronze age Britain.
The Peruvian mummies have been dated from the 1st to the 13th centuries AD. American-originated tobacco was used in India many centuries ago. Chemical tests show traces of coca (a south American plant) in a number of Egyptian mummies. There are many, many more evidences of transoceanic plant exchange.
Evidence from diseases– at least 19 organisms that cause disease in humans were shared by the Eastern and Western Hemispheres before Columbus arrived in America. Particularly decisive cases with important chronological implications are two types of hookworm. The long-term prevalence of hookworms in East and Southeast Asia makes that area quite certainly the place from where the organisms spread anciently to the Americas. Some other diseases are herpes virus 3, ringworm, tuberculosis, typhus, and the plague bacillus.
Mesoamerican Traditions of Transoceanic Voyages– Peoples in central Mexico, Yucatan, Chiapas and highlands Guatemala believed that some of their ancestors originated from across the ocean. The number, distribution, and contents of these traditions indicate that they could represent several distinct arrival events. These accounts are recorded in some of the surviving codices and by way of oral tradition. By themselves one could dismiss them as merely legend. But in conjunction with the evidence we saw of flora and disease having crossed the ocean, one should add credence to these stories.
Ability to Sail Across the Ocean– In modern days, oceans have been crossed hundreds of times in unlikely craft- small boats, rafts, rowboats, canoes, and even less conventional vessels. In Peru balsa rafts were in use along the shore by 2500 BC and oceanic-going crafts by about 1500 BC. One historian proved his theory that one could travel from South America to Polynesia by successfully sailing a fleet of three Ecuadorian-built rafts with a crew of 12 over 9,200 miles to Australia.
A fourth century BC Greek ship that sunk off the coast of Cyprus was found to have on its hull a covering of large sheets of lead held in place by a compound of pine resin and agave fibers from Mexico. Either the ship reached Mexico itself where the agave grows naturally, or else some earlier voyage had transplanted agave plants to the Mediterranean area, where the fibers to make the new caulking were taken from plants descended from the original transplants.
There are surprisingly many Mesoamerican language ties with the Old World. Here is one example of some lexical similarities:
Sipah= smooth, plan off
There are many more language connections that are too numerous to list here.
Records and Writing Systems
There are also some incredible correspondences that we should mention, like how one set of Maya glyphs has been translated as signifying “it came to pass”, a phrase that any reader of the Book of Mormon will recognize. Also a detailed comparison has been made between the Book of Mormon as a record and uses of records and books reported in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican cultures. In the Book of Mormon we learn of the following: Contemporary events, letters, victories and defeats in war, lives of rulers, adventures of individual heroes and villains, political histories, migration histories, information about ceremonial situations, prophecies, year counts and calendrical history, annals, tax or tribute lists, genealogies, divination, funerary texts, medical texts, and lineage histories. Many of the aspects of these points from the Book of Mormon coincide very well with what we know about Mesoamerican culture.
This comparison has demonstrated that a substantial degree of similarity exists in respect to form, content, social functions, style, scribes and users, writing systems, and other features. The Book of Mormon as a text is congruent with the records known from pre-Columbian Mesoamerica in all general ways and in many detailed ways.
It is most unlikely that such an extensive array of facts about ancient America could come under the control of even a modern Mesoamerica scholar were he or she to attempt to produce a work purporting to involve records in ancient Mesoamerica. Much of the information mentioned was not discovered or was inaccessible in 1830 when the Book of Mormon was first printed. The Mesoamerican-like features in Mormon’s volume could only be due to its origin from an ancient Mesoamerican author.
Some critics claim that Joseph Smith plagiarized many of the ideas and names in the Book of Mormon from other books. While those books are interesting, they don’t explain all the unique and original ideas, names and points in the Book of Mormon that correspond with Mesoamerica. There are many original ideas in the Book of Mormon that are not found in these books that critics point to. One such idea is with regards to roads. In frontier America of the early 19th century roads were common. Roads were built by clearing forest and leveling ground. One example of this is in 3 Nephi 8:13 when it says that “the level roads were spoiled”. That idea is not unique. But what is unique is the concept of roads being “cast up” as it tells us in 3 Nephi 6:8. “And there were many highways cast up, and many roads made, which led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place.” There were several types of roads in Mesoamerica. Simple foot paths, roads, and even highways. The principal highway of Mesoamerica was the sacbe. One such sacbe at Dzibilchaltun was 66 feet wide and up to 7 feet high, with edges made of large limestone blocks. Between the limestone, coarse fill was leveled with gravel and then paved with plaster. There are seven such highways leading from Dzibilchaltun to other sites. This type of construction definitely fits the description of being “cast up”. And the dates of these sacbes are approximately the same as when the Nephite record mentions highways.
An example of a Maya sacbe:
There are many answers to that list of anachronisms that I provided earlier. A favorite of critics of the Book of Mormon is to mock the mention of elephants in the book of Ether by the Jaredites. Fossil records show mastodon (prehistoric elephant) bones in Florida that date to 100 BC and mastodon bones in the Yucatan that date to 1800 BC, definitely within the time frame of the Jaredites.
The same goes for horse bones. They have been found in America and Mexico refuting the earlier belief that horses didn’t exist in the western hemisphere before the arrival of Columbus. Horse bones, teeth and fossils have been found in multiple locations of Mesoamerica that date before the Spanish arrival.
Without going into too much detail, there are also many, many, many correspondences of warfare, government, and political processes between the Book of Mormon record and that of Mesoamerica. There are so many that it begins to paint a picture of authenticity of the Book of Mormon. The entire collection of evidence begins to paint a picture that allows one to believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon.
About that list of anachronisms that I showed earlier. I don’t have the time or space to explain how most of these have since been discovered to be true. Instead, I will just list this link to a website that discusses many of these anachronisms in more detail- http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon/Anachronisms.
Again, if you want to read about it in detail, go read Mormon’s Codex by John L. Sorensen.
In summary, I view it as an impossibility that an uneducated farm boy in frontier America in the early 1800’s could have fabricated a literary work of 531 pages that so intricately intertwines perfectly with the Bible and Mesoamerican culture. There is no way Joseph Smith could have had access to information of Mesoamerican life that was unknown to the scientific community of his day. Much of that information that has been discovered has taken over 180 years of scientific research and discovery to unfold the picture that the Book of Mormon gave us of Mesoamerican life. From this, my only conclusion is that the Book of Mormon is an actual historical document. So, it is up to us to learn the lessons that the ancient prophets of that book left us and to heed their warnings.
 Bernal Diaz del Castillo: The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico, (New York: Farrer, Straus and Cudahy, 1956), 129
 Hubert H. Bancroft, Native Races of the Pacific States (1875; rep., San Francisco: Bancroft, 1883), 2:412
 Robert M. Carmack, “Toltec Influence on the Postclassic Culture History of Highland Guatemala,” in Archaeological Studies in Middle America (New Orleans: Tulane University, 1970), 80
 John L. Sorenson and Carl L. Johannessen, Scientific Evidence for Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Voyages to and from the Americas, Sino-Platonic Papers 133 (Philadelphia: Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania, 2004)
 Sandor Bokonyi and Denes Janossy, “Adatok a pulyka kolumbusc ellotti Europai elofordulas ahoz,” Aquila: A Magyar Ornithologiai Kozpont Folyoirata 65 (1953): 265-69
 Paul C. Buckland and Eva Panagiotakopulu, “Rameses II and the Tobacco Beetle,” Antiquity 75 (2001): 554
 Samuel T. Darling, “Observations on the Geographical and Ethnological Distributions of Hookworms,” Parasitology 12/3 (1920): 217-33
 Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, Obras historicas, ed. Alfredo Chavero (ca. 1600; 1891-92; repr., Mexico City: Editora Nacional, 1952), 1:15-16, 19
 Presley Norton, “El senorio de Salangone y la liga de mercaderes: El cartel sponylus-balsa,” Miscelanea antropologica ecuatoriana 6 (1986): 131-43
 Vital Alsar, La Balsa: The Longest Raft Voyage in History (Pleasnatville, NY: Reader’s Digest, 1973), 6-91
 J. Richard Steffy, “They Kyrenia Ship: An Interim Report on Its Hull Construction,” American Journal of Archaeology 89/1 (1985): 71-101
 Michael D. Coe and Mark Van Stone, Reading the Maya Glyphs (London: Thames & Hudson, 2001), 33.
 E. Wyllys Andrews, “Archaeology and Prehistory in the Northern Maya Lowlands: An Introduction,” in Handbook of Middle American Indians, ed. Robert Wauchope and Gordon R. Willey (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1965), 2:303.
 Ricardo Velazquez Valdez, “Recent Discoveries in the Caves of Loltun, Yucatan, Mexico,” Mexicon 2 (1980): 54-55
 Clayton E. Ray, “Pre-Columbian Horses from Yucatan,” Journal of Mammalogy 38 (1957): 278
Another excellent post, I really must get Mormon’s Codex.
Thank you for the well-written 2-part article!
As far as plausible explanations for evidence of transatlantic voyages, where does the idea of a unified continent (i.e. Pangea) that broke into the 7 continents we have now fit into your line of reasoning or theology? Some folks believe the Bible spoke of this with the spread following the tower of Babel after the flood account. If these stories (historical accounts to many) are true, would this relieve the burden of proof from the transatlantic voyages accounted for in the BoM? The biblical accounts and/or secularly held belief of a once-unified continent would neither prove nor disprove the BoM account but would provide another line of rational explanation for what it purports to speak of, I believe. I’m interested in your thoughts on this line of reasoning, respecting the purpose of the thesis of your article that is intentionally BoM-centric.
Excellent thoughts. I’m not sure the unified continent theory would really affect the Book of Mormon trans-oceanic travel dilemma. The reason being that the event took place long before the Book of Mormon claims that a group of middle eastern natives travelled across the ocean to the western hemisphere. From my understanding, the people who believe the bible refer to this in a literal sense believe it took place before the Tower of Babel incident. Those who follow the geographic record tend to believe it took place long before the Biblical record.
The reason modern evidence of pre-Columbian transoceanic voyage is so important is because for decades scientists believed the only way that the western hemisphere was populated was through the Bering Strait migrations. This point was often used to show how stupid the Book of Mormon claim was. With this new evidence suddenly those claims aren’t so outlandish.
I’m too busy (read: lazy) to do this, but I’d be interested in seeing the dates for the discoveries you mention which mitigate the anachronisms. Both the date of when the discovery occurred and also the date for when the evidence originally occurred. Often in my experience, when people present some piece of evidence which they feel addresses the anachronisms, I look it up only to find that this evidence is from millennia prior to the dates of the Book of Mormon text. The dates are important. For example, (in addressing the commentor above) throughout the entirety of the existence of humans the continents have remained virtually the same as they are today.
“We learn from Mormon’s text that the Nephite forces were organized in armies of 10,000 men. According to Bernal Diaz, the Tlaxcalan forces that Cortez met on his approach to the Aztec capital were organized into five armies of ten thousand.”
I wonder how good of an argument this is for the historicity of the Book of Mormon, given that the Aztecs did not live during Book of Mormon times.
There are two issues with dates. There are a few things that can be shown to have existed in Sorenson’s Book of Mormon lands in the right time periods. There are many many things that can be shown to have existed between the ice ages (land bridge) and Columbus–things which are still not recognized generally as having existed pre-Columbus. Those don’t prove the Book of Mormon, but they do substantiate it in broad strokes. Transoceanic voyages have happened a lot, and they have almost certainly had significant cultural influences. That doesn’t mean we can identify the Jaredite or Nephite or Mulekite voyages or cultures. Sorenson is quite careful to give places and dates in his book, and it would be a huge task to summarize them. If you want to ask for a couple of specifics, I can look them up.
I totally agree with your sentiments. I will try and compile the dates for you later. To the best of my knowledge these discoveries were made in the 20th century and their dates are within the time frame of the Book of Mormon (2000 BC -400 AD).
Good point Michael. Yes the Aztecs reign was after the Book of Mormon time period. My purpose for including this was to show that there are some correlations of varying degrees of strength that can be found. The intent was to show that there are some Mesoamerican traditions that can be found in the Book of Mormon. The people of the Book of Mormon assimilated into their local culture and Mormon recorded some of those traditions for us to read about. The military parallels are not exclusive to the Nephites, but rather the Mesoamerican region. So it’s very possible that some of the military traditions we read about in the Book of Mormon were used by Maya and by Aztec and by Toltecs and others in mesoamerica.
If all of your evidence were actually that good then the church leaders would grab ahold of it and run with it. The fact of the matter is that the evidence is poor at best….stretching to connect the dots when it can’t truly be done.
Whether correlations “stretch” or not, whether one can point to plausible, coherent, rational parallels or “evidence” however constructed, it does NOT necessarily point to historicity. Even if Moroni came back to each of us and told us he wrote/compiled the bleepin’ book does NOT imply historicity. Have we learned nothign from the Bible and its “authors?” We have a book much older that is compiled by multiple authors who either made up stories or borrowed them from other cultures and put an Israelite twist on it. Half or more of Jesus’ story is made up to fit with Old Testament prophecy, which was constructed to give Israelites hope. Why is the BoM any different? It is not. Joseph Smith’s Prophet-ability isn’t affected with my arguemtn. Whether he was legit or not is not an aspect I choose to address here. It is merely something that needs to be delineated that “historicity” and “written by ancient people” are not the same thing.
Wow, two or more misspells in one comment, I’m in need of some sleep…
With all of these hundreds and hundreds of cultural and linguistic parallels Sorenson and others claim to exist between the Old and New World, you would think there must have been substantial human migration between the two regions. Why do we see nothing in the DNA of Native Americans?
This is even acknowledged on the official church website.
Could it be that Sorenson, who has been an ardent diffusionist his entire life, is seeing parallels that do not exist?
You will notice that Cody has limited himself to discussing evidences based on textual evidence of the Book of Mormon text, alone. Your response deals only with hypotheses based on external beliefs from modern readers (including some statements by Joseph Smith). When someone presents a clear hypothesis regarding DNA that is consistent with the text of the Book of Mormon, and then shows that this hypothesis has been directly and adequately tested, then I will concede that DNA evidence is relevant to the Book of Mormon discussion. Beyond showing that certain culturally held modern Mormon beliefs about Lamanite descent are problematic, DNA evidence has shown zip about the Book of Mormon.
I will agree that the evidence can be used to question the knowledge or inspiration of modern church leaders, justly or not, but that is a separate issue from what is referred to in the OP.
DNA evidence has shown zip about the Book of Mormon? I’m amazed that this kind of ignorance still exists. DNA evidence has proven prophet after prophet….apostle after apostle…wrong on the issue of the lamanitas being the ancestors of the native Americans. We could pull quote after quote given by prophets and apostles talking about the native Americans being the decendents of the lamanitas. We can look at the program back in the 60s or 70s that was designed to put lamanitas in the homes of white Mormon families with the intent of making them white and delightsome. All of these prophets and apostles were as wrong on the issue of e Native American being decendents of the lamanitas as they were on the issue of the blacks carrying the curse of Cain. What is the purpose of having a man supposedly inspired by god if he is wrong on pretty much everything he says? Either god can’t get the message across to these men or they are completely tuning out his revelation. Whether by his mouth or the mouth of his servants it is the same….so says D&C…so apparently god screw up on a whole lot since his words and the prophets words are the same. There is so much bad stretching of information in these 2 posts trying to show evidence of the Book of Mormon that it shows me people are willing to believe anything. There is no other book nor topic of study that can have this many errors as the Book of Mormon and continue to have people roll over in their graves trying to use evidence that doesn’t exist to prove it’s authenticity….except for those that believe in Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, or other similar myths.
“I will agree that the evidence can be used to question the knowledge or inspiration of modern church leaders, justly or not, but that is a separate issue from what is referred to in the OP.”
Apparently you missed this.
Simon, your response to the LDS church’s gospel topics essay on DNA and the Book of Mormon was very well done. It’s something everyone should read if they are going to read the church’s essay that you linked. If you won’t plug it, I will.
Thanks John. I’ve never been good at self promotion.
I have read your excellent book and I am thereby completely convinced of its truth and accuracy. Thank you!
It seems to be quite popular in the present/past culture to feel like a farm boy would never rise the ranks. It only takes a little study and interest to find out more to the story. I can agree with this only enough to say that Joseph Smith certainly was not alone founding the first versions of the LDS church and the Book of Mormon. It is quite fascinating actually. A key thing to remember is that Joseph Smith did not try to sell the copyrights to the Book of Mormon until well after his 14th birthday.
Garrett it appears that your complaint has less to do with the Book of Mormon and more to do with the fallibility of prophets (which is am entirely different topic). You keep trying to force a hemispherical model to the book as proof it is wrong. Of course it can’t stand up to a hemispherical model. But that’s not what the book claims. As for what many modern general authorities have said, they are mortal men and as a result make mistakes. I’m fine with that. I know I’m far from perfect. Do you expect them to be perfect and flawless? Do you expect them in their limited understanding to get everything right?
The Book of Mormon is required to have a hemispheric model, Helaman 3:8 states:
8 And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.
Any apologetic explanation which includes limited geography theory as explanation is contrary to the Book of Mormon itself as is the two Cumorah explanation which contradicts Ether 15:11:
15 And it came to pass that the army of Coriantumr did pitch their tents by the hill Ramah; and it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord, which were sacred.
And garret, feel free to show me the specific points of information that you keep claiming are oh so wrong in my posts. You have yet to point out a single one but instead keep talking in general, broad, and vague terms to insult me. I welcome your specific critiques on what I said, not some other person’s interpretation of who the Book of Mormon refers to.
Trying to force a hemispherical model….that’s correct….because that’s what’s always been taught up until the point that the church and the apologists realized that it didn’t work, when they found it didn’t work because of lack of evidence they then changed it to a more regionalized model….brill lacking any evidence for the nephites or lamanite population. Once again, if the evidence you claim proves the Book of Mormon true is actually correct then the leaders of the church would be jumping all over it with the given evidence to show the world how true it really is. Back to a hemispherical model. When I served in chile we used to hand out pamphlets to people discussing that very thing….a hemispherical model for the boom of Mormon. We were taught to teach people about Christ coming to the Americas (and our mission president and the one before mine taught that he came to chile or Peru). We talked about all the native Americans in north and South America and how they were descendants of the lamanites. There is nothing to show that people with Israelite DNA ever came to the Americas….not a shred of evidence. You can twist and push and pull and grasp for evidence but nothing you have presented as evidence comes even close to providing evidence.
Let’s look at a couple things….you talk about the jaredites a number of times in here. The jaredites are supposedly the first population of American inhabitants and they sailed over on airtight boats with little holes in the top and e bottom that they could plug when the ship got turned. First of all….the church in its DNA essay admitted that there was a population of people that came across on the Bering straight which happened about 10-15k years ago. 2nd….the Tower of Babel from which the jaredites supposedly came is a myth….so the civilization they supposedly came from never existed. 3rd….the boats that they supposedly came over on….completely ludicrous to even come close to believing that story. These boats had no light, no way to control the boats, they would get tossed every which way by the waves, there’s no means to get rid of sewage, they had no fresh water, no fresh food, and the list goes on and on. They didn’t exist.
On the topic of prophets….no I don’t expect them to be perfect. However I was taught my entire life and we were instructed on e mission to also teach that it was direct revelation by which the prophet guided the church. There never was the caveat that it was direct revelation that the prophet would receive and then have to filter through all of their personal experiences to understand what was being said. What is the point of having a prophet if they can no more clarify truth than you or I? There is no point then if they can’t. Their track record is terrible. They are called as prophets, seers, and revelators. They are the lords mouthpiece here on earth declaring his truth to the nations….and yet I would ask you to show me how successful their track record has been. They don’t prophesy anything. They haven’t revealed new truths. They haven’t foretold of things to happen. They have tried to do these things and have failed miserably.
What fruits do all the modern prophets have that would show they are truly prophets? Others than lots of happy little thoughts that get put on memes there is little to no substance that they provide that I couldn’t get from any other person trying to give motivation and inspiration.
Come on Garrett, now who’s twisting the facts? I never said that the Jaredites were the first inhabitants of America. Not once. You are putting words into my mouth. Also, you make an awful lot of assumptions with regards to the Jaredites.
Let’s talk about the specifics of my posts. Don’t twist things and get sidetracked, talk about what I actually wrote. If what I said was so preposterous and wrong, it should be easy for you to discuss the topics I mentioned.
You did mention the jaredites several times…I was simply pointing out that in your process of providing evidences you are pulling stuff that didn’t exist or happen. I didn’t say that you stated the jaredites were the first people. Read my words again. Your evidences for the Book of Mormon being true are simply stretches. Provide all your sources and let’s compare those sources with what has been found and studied by the experts. I addressed a number of your issues and you turned it around. It is your responsibility to actually provide the factual evidence and all the sorts….of which you have done nothing but try and connect the dots where the dots can’t be connected.
Are you so blind? I did provide my sources. You have yet to address MY specifics. All you keep doing is going off of what other people have said. You aren’t really good at this are you? Please, oh please, just refer to my specific points in my posts instead of getting side tracked Garrett, then we might be able to have a meaningful discussion. Until then, I’m out.
Cody – Have you read the Letter to a CES Director? It is a very good document that provides source material (usually LDS approved) relating to all of the issues you and other commentors have brought up here. You can find a PDF (with clickable links) at http://cesletter.com/
I have read it, as well as FAIR’s response to it, and came away with a MUCH better understanding of where the current science and Church leaders stand.
Not one bit of evidence you have provided proves the historicity of the book of Mormon. Once again…if any of it truly proved the book of Mormon true and correct then the leader of the church would be jumping all over it. I think its hilarious that you are accusing me of just going off what others have said…..that’s all you have done. Every piece of information you have offered as evidence of the book of Mormon is not direct evidence. There are things that could be considered similarities….there are things that might be similar….but everyone of the pieces of information you have offered does little to prove the historicity of the book of mormon. When you have some actual evidence that is accepted in science, archaeology, etc then come back to the table with that information.
I appreciate Cody’s time and effort in writing this two-part article. It covers a lot of ground in little space, and so nothing can be talked about in specifics. This makes it difficult to have a conversation that goes much beyond “I’m right and you’re wrong.”
It might be best to focus on one piece of evidence for discussion. At least that way we would have a better chance of getting below the surface.
For example, the idea has been put out that the Church changed its “two-hemisphere” teaching of the Book of Mormon in response to problematic DNA studies. This is a common trope, but it is belied by the evidence.
My recollection is that the limited Book of Mormon geography goes back at least to the 1940’s with Sidney Sperry. This was not because of DNA studies (I think DNA itself wasn’t even discovered at that point), but from a close reading of the text.
The text of the Book of Mormon itself makes it clear that the events described occur in an area of land roughly the side of modern-day Israel. In other words, a much more limited area than all of North and South America.
This limited geography was picked up by John Sorenson with an attempt to locate it in Meso-America in the mid-1980’s with his book, “An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon.”
Regardless of what we think of John Sorenson’s attempts to locate the Book of Mormon geography in Meso-America, it is clear that LDS scholars were promoting a limited BOM geography long before DNA studies allegedly forced them to the position.
Are we able to agree on this one proposal, at least?
Yes Corbin, there are some scholars that have taught and been in favor of a limited geography model. However, you cannot say that about the leaders of the church, for the most part. One example of why the limited geography model does not work….the hill Comorah that has been brought up…it was mentioned that the hill Cumorah where Joseph found the plates is not the hill cumorah mentioned in the Book of Mormon. That begs the question then…how did the gold plates miraculously find themselves thousands of miles away from where this limited geography supposedly occurred? Did he make this thousands of miles trek? On top of that, let’s look at the Book of Mormon…..up until a few years ago it stated that the lamanites were the principle ancestors of the Native American, only to be changed when the leaders of the church finally realized that they were wrong. If the limited geography model is to hold up why did the prophet and other leaders of the church for decades claim that all the native Americans were decendents of the lamanites? Why could got not get this clarified for them? Is the line of communication so fuzzy that the prophet literally has to interpret everything that god supposedly tells them? The fact of the matter is that anytime the church realizes they are wrong on some thing they simply change it…lift the rug and sweep the old, incorrect teachings under, and then procede as if everything is normal.
You are obviously passionate about your position, and I’m not saying you’re right or wrong, but you need to avoid tangents and refute the OP based on what he wrote. Address in detail reasons that the use of flags means nothing, that transoceanic voyages aren’t evidence of anything, that the language argument doesn’t hold water and isn’t supported by those outside of mormonism, that ‘and it came to pass’ means just that there are actually other languages that use the term ‘and then this happened’, that roads prove nothing, that mainstream science disagrees with his assertions about mastodons and horses. A quick google search will provide plenty for you in this regard. His sources for this are antiquated and no good. Mental gymnastics are inevitable when you start with your conclusion as truth and work backwards later. You can address and refute every part of the write up without venturing off into topics that are less/not relevant. It’s much less frustrating for you both that way.
Yes, Moroni could have made that trek with the plates. Easily. Super easily in fact. He had decades of time.
A British writer named Richard Nathan has proved this point. On August 18, 1999, Richard Nathan set out walking from Guysborough in Nova Scotia. On May 14, 2000, nine months and 4,000 miles later, he arrived in Barra del Tordo, a tiny fishing village in Tamaulipas, on the Gulf of Mexico.
With potentially decades, Moroni also could just have easily sailed to Australia with the trade winds and deposited the plates in Ayers Rock. So your argument is invalid.
And you must not have understood LDS doctrine when you were on your mission or whatever. God doesn’t simply reveal every detail of everything to prophets and make life 100% easy. That would be like having angels swoop down to every person on earth to preach about God. Then no one would learn. Mistakes are a part of life.
I’m just going to laugh a bit at your comment. It’s that funny. Please tell me what is LDS doctrine….tell me what I didn’t understand? Justification and rationalization are great….they allow believers the ability to turn complete BS into a pseudo substance. Great….you found someone that was able to make sure several thousand mile trek….big deal. It still proves nothing
What’s missing: The Null Case
How many similarities does the Book of Mormon have with, say, an ancient Japanese empire? My guess is there would be some just by sheer chance. The really interesting thing to do would be to compare the number of “hits” the Book of Mormon has in MesoAmerica to the number of hits it has with ancient Japan. My guess is we could find a similar list of items for any region of the world.
Because surely no unlearned farmboy could write a 533-page book and just happen to get X number of things about ancient Japan right. Right?
Yes, that would be a good thing. Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as it appears at first glance, even for some more obvious cases. One obvious case is comparing what Joseph gets right about Israel in 600 BC vs. New England in 1800 AD. That could probably be done pretty thoroughly for 1st and 2nd Nephi. The second case is comparing the Book of Mormon with what is known of ancient Mesoamerica and with the proposed 19th century sources for the Book of Mormon. Neither of these is a null case, and the null case would be interesting, but there are major hurdles to even doing these two.
1. Agreeing on how to weight types of evidence: are physical evidences given the same weight as narrative evidences? Do we count the fact that Nephi and Joseph had the same number of brothers and were both 4th sons as an evidence equal to Nephi’s vision of the tree of life matching up with Asherah symbology? Is the coincidence of having a battle at a fort by a river and throwing dead bodies into the river (or something like that) evidence for copying from the War of 1812, or do you look tactics and count their matching iron or bronze age tactics (and not matching post gunpowder tactics more than superficially) as ancient evidence? Which do you weigh more, or are they the same?
2. Do you consider dates of Mesoamerican (or Japanese) discoveries as relevant? If Joseph wrote something that contradicted the common knowledge of his day but agrees plausibly with current knowledge of Mesoamerica, is that evidence in favor of ancient origins, adding to the positive total, or just one less negative things critics can claim? Maybe you have to take that point by point. Maybe we can’t use this as evidence at all, but it is by both sides, at different times. Those who claim 19th century origins often imply that Joseph could have guessed things from knowledge floating around in the New England air, so lots of people seem to think this question matters.
3. Do you count the dominant academic opinions only as evidence, or do you credit minority opinions? Do you weigh the views of the scholar regarding Mormonism (pro, anti, indifferent), or only look at results sections and not conclusion sections? Whose reading of the Book of Mormon do you use? Lay Latter-day Saints? Only quotes from Joseph Smith? Proof-texts from beliefs of various prophets? Book of Mormon scholars who have picked the text apart using their professional skills?
4. Who would do it? It’s a huge job, and most people who believe or disbelieve the Book of Mormon already think they have sufficient evidence to do so and that making these comparisons rigorously won’t change anything. I started to make a spreadsheet of supposed evidences for and against with references and an evaluation of each. I was basing it on MormonThink (and references therein) and Mormon’s Codex (and its references), as a starting point. I thought it would be worthwhile to have it available, sort of like Brian Hales’s website on Joseph Smith’s polygamy. The task is huge. Plus, it quickly seemed worthless to me. Much of the critical side was cataloging negatives (things that supposedly weren’t there just because no one has found them), or criticisms of modern beliefs about the Book of Mormon and not the Book of Mormon itself. Most of the positive side was plausibility arguments that will be dismissed by anyone who doesn’t believe in God, angels, or modern prophets, so they won’t be convinced no matter how many convergences exist. Find me an expert (or even a passionate amateur) on ancient Japan (or wherever) who is willing to catalog the primary literature as it relates to the Book of Mormon, like Sorenson has done with Mesoamerica, and then we’ll be able to test the null case. It seems easy until you take a serious look at it. Sorenson has done about as good a job of it as can be done at this time, but it’s a big book that takes some work to get through, and none of it makes sense if you can’t accept a limited geography model, or credit the possibility of historicity, to start with.
All good points. I don’t think it will ever happen for the reasons you list.
It all reminds me of that list of similarities between John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln%E2%80%93Kennedy_coincidences_urban_legend#The_list
Are they startling when you list all of them together? Sure. Is there a connection between the two murders? Probably not, and “the list” does not really work as evidence.
People looking to archaeologists to justify their religious practice are content to know that there is a Mayan character that can be translated as “it came to pass”, but don’t want to ask the larger question that is begged: Is the Mayan language related to Hebrew or Egyptian? If you’re going to play the academics game, then you should be willing to accept the academy’s overwhelming consensus: No, they’re not related.
You cry about Garrett supposedly insulting you and then you call him blind. Nice.
I hate to rain on your party, Cody, but you really should read this document that contains responses from actual professors of archaeology specializing in Meso-America as to whether there is any credible evidence for the BoM: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1_l1xQdDguBM0tpT29MemVtd2s/preview?pli=1
I know this post is a number of years old, but I was digging around the mastodon in 1800 B.C. issue. I finally tracked down the cited article:
Ricardo Velazquez Valdez, “Recent Discoveries in the Caves of Loltun, Yucatan, Mexico,” Mexicon 2 (1980): 54-55
The relevant section does not indicate that the discovered Mastodon were from 1800 B.C. The Mastodon and horses are found in the “earliest strata in the pit.”
“a good number of bone instruments was found directly associated with remains of pleistocene megafauna, princiapply the horse and animals now extinct. A radiocarbon date taken from the uppermost level of the preceramic stratum, thus dating the cultural change, has provided us with a date of 1800 BC.”
Notice the radiocarbon date is associated with the uppermost level of the preceramic stratum, while the bone instruments associated with the megafauna are from “the earliest strata”.