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Quote by Austin Farrar
The relationship between rational argument (evidence) and belief.
"Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief.
What seems to be proved may not be embraced: but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned.
Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish."
Mormon Times religion reporter Michael DeGroote wrote two articles involving our research released Thursday, May 27th, 2010. This article is a response to one of the articles, Pros and cons of Book of Mormon geography theories.
A review of Mormon Times religion reporter Michael DeGroote's article, Pros, cons of Book of Mormon geography theories
as published online at http://mormontimes.com/article/13596/Pros-cons-of-Book-of-Mormon-geography-theories
Review by Rod L. Meldrum,
President, The FIRM Foundation
May 28, 2010
All in all I found Pros, cons of Book of Mormon geography theories relatively well balanced, although still teetering toward the Mesoamerican theories. It could be assumed that DeGroote is getting considerable pressure from those entrenched in Mesoamerican geography theories to help in ‘putting down’ the Heartland Model geography theory, but it appears that he is resisting this pressure to his great credit. While there are some things that need to be clarified, the tone and writing style are not divisive or argumentative, which is a welcomed change from the writings of other organizations who have taken up the effort of ‘debunking’ and proclaiming "fatal flaws" about this theory through personal character, motive and intellect criticisms, rather than substantive arguments based on its strengths and weaknesses.
DeGroote begins by correctly stating that both the leading geography theories, the Mesoamerican and the Heartland model, have strong and weak points. The strengths of the Mesoamerican theories are presented first, with weaknesses following. The primary strengths DeGroote sees in the Mesoamerican models are as follows:
1. Geographic correlation
2. High level of civilization
While these are certainly thought of as strengths, there are important underlying aspects that need to be addressed. For example, which of the many proposed Mesoamerican theories are being referenced? There are many different ideas of geography within the Mesoamerican setting, and they disagree with each other over specific geographical locations. Each of them have strengths and weaknesses as well, depending on whose interpretation of scripture one uses. DeGroote uses a ‘large north-flowing river’ as an example of Mesoamerican strength, but where in the Book of Mormon does it definitively claim the Sidon flowed North? It had east and west banks, but nowhere does the text positively declare it to flow North. The direction of flow has been deduced based on certain assumptions derived from interpretations about the relative locations of the lands of Manti and Zarahemla, and the definition of the ‘head’ of a river. An article about this very subject has been available on the Q&A page for several years. The article questions the assumption that the Sidon flowed north, based on the second viable definition of the term ‘head’ of a river being a confluence, rather than the beginning stream. Those interested are encouraged to read the article HERE.
No one would argue the fact that Mesoamerican civilizations were highly advanced with large cities, populations etc., but the fact that such indicators exist does not in any way prove that they are Book of Mormon related. Other advanced civilizations could certainly have existed simultaneously with Book of Mormon peoples without contradicting its text. The book itself makes no requirement that the Nephites or Lamanites be the ONLY civilization that existed with large populations and cities. Mesoamerican cities were not the only advanced cultures that existed during Book of Mormon time frames. Only recently has the true history of the highly advanced Hopewell Mound Building civilization been emerging.
That a written language was in use in Mesoamerica anciently is beyond question. However, claiming that the Mayan language is ‘Egyptian’ in form, as does Sorenson, should require proper referencing by qualified main-stream non-LDS linguists and ancient language experts before being held out as viable evidence for Book of Mormon geography. Such a claim is unsupported by non-Mormon experts. The fact is that while the Maya did have a written language, it has absolutely nothing to do with either Hebrew or "reformed Egyptian" which are the only two languages mentioned as being in use by the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. It is as unrelated to these Book of Mormon written languages as Chinese is to Latin.
The claim that archaeology, as defined by DeGroote, means “cities – large urban areas” which date to the right time for the Book of Mormon seems to be a subset of the second strength given, or the highly advanced civilization already discussed.
The fifth strength outlined by DeGroote involves being able to distinguish three separate groups from each other, potentially indicating the Jaredites, Nephites and Mulekites in their appropriate time frames and relative positions within the geography proposed. For example, the Book of Mormon states that the Jaredite lands were in the land northward, near Desolation and the Hill Cumorah. Sorenson claims that there is evidence of being able to distinguish between these three groups of peoples in Mesoamerica. But before one can accept this as evidence, it would be imperative to know if these groups were genetically related, as were the Mulekites and Nephites since they were both known to be Semitic peoples. Another critical standard should be whether the remains of these ancient peoples had identifiable genetic links to Mediterranean or Semitic peoples as declared by the Book of Mormon. Such genetic evidence is strikingly absent in all Mesoamerican based models. It would be relatively simple to find three groups of people who are relatively isolated from one another by distance but lived concurrently within the Book of Mormon time frames nearly anywhere civilizations existed during that time. One must be able to demonstrate that the groups purported to be Nephites, Jaredites or Mulekites were demonstrably related to the Book of Mormon.
The weaknesses of the Mesoamerican theories described by DeGroote are summarized as
3. Statements of Joseph Smith
4. Transporting Gold Plates
Sorenson claims to have “several hundred specimens of smelted metal from Book of Mormon time periods” but says that “most archaeologists would dismiss them”. Why don’t main stream archaeologists accept Sorenson’s specimens? Similar circumstances involving tens of thousands of artifacts bearing Hebrew and Egyptian characters unearthed in North America have similarly been dismissed by main stream archaeologists. This has been held out by Mesoamerican enthusiasts decrying the application of such "controversial" artifacts as evidence by Heartland Model adherents. How does Sorenson then validate his claim of having smelted metal artifacts from the Book of Mormon time frame? What method of dating was used and are there other important evidences of metallurgy such as smelting furnaces, ore deposits, efficient fuels (such as coal) and metal ores for alloying available?
In contrast, amateur archaeologist William D. Conner has identified dozens of iron and copper smelting furnaces, hidden by burial under Hopewell Mounds throughout the Ohio River Valley. Artifacts recovered include an ancient iron axe head still held within the mold into which it was poured, which protected it from rusting away as all exposed iron or steel does over thousands, if not hundreds of years. Conner's new book, Iron Age America - Before Columbus is finally completed and provides overwhelming testimony of the advanced metallurgy capability of the Hopewell Mound Builders of America's heartland. The book is now available in our Bookstore.
Cardinal directions have been an ongoing challenge to Mesoamerican models as is properly indicated by DeGroote. Mesoamerican enthusiasts have argued that Book of Mormon people may have used cardinal directions in a different way, or with a different understanding of what was meant such as north really meaning more of an easterly direction etc. This would seem problematic since the sun always comes up in the east and down in the west, thereby providing a bearing every 12 hours from which to ascertain those two general directions. Thus, by simple means north and south can thereby be easily deduced. To think that the ancients had their directions wrong, in order to make a ‘fit’ for a proposed geography is in itself demonstrative of the difficulty in making the Mesoamerican geography theories fit the text. To do so requires either a profound lack of knowledge on the part of ancient peoples, or the supposition that earths tilt-angle or pole shifts have occurred since Book of Mormon times, neither of which is supported by scientific evidence.
Indeed one of the fundamental weaknesses of a Mesoamerican setting are the historically documented writings and actions of Joseph Smith who claimed to have received revelations in multiple instances and accounts that bear on the subject of geography. The Hill Cumorah, where the plates were secured, the Wentworth letter, American Revivalist account, Zelph Accounts, letter to his wife Emma while on Zion’s camp and the claim of having found a “Nephite altar” near Adam-Ondi-Ahman stand as a testament to his claimed knowledge. Further testimony is found through his sending missionaries “unto the Lamanites” (D&C 28, 30, 32) as directed by the Lord to New York, Ohio and Missouri, and writing in his journal of telling North American Indian tribes that the Great Spirit has revealed to him that the Book of Mormon was a record of their fathers (History of the Church 4:401-402). This provides indisputable evidence that the prophet referenced North America as, at the very least, a part of Book of Mormon lands and associated peoples if not the primary lands. Nowhere does Joseph Smith claim in his own writing(s) to have received revelation indicating any location for the Book of Mormon other than North America. For further detailed information on this fact, you will want to read the upcoming book Joseph Knew to be released within a few months or watch the video sequence # 11-15 in the VIDEO GALLERY.
It has been estimated that if the gold plates were pure gold, they would have weighed close to 60 pounds. If alloyed with copper as mentioned by Joseph’s younger brother, William Smith in an interview in 1884, they may have weighed closer to 40 pounds. Either weight would have presented severe difficulties with transporting them over thousands of miles from Mesoamerica to New York, USA on foot. When one considers that Moroni had the 24 Jaredite plates with him as well, it is easy to see the difficulty for Moroni to carry these sets of heavy metal records with him such a distance, while evading capture by the Lamanites.
While written as a side note, rather than a weakness, DeGroote also correctly notes that Mesoamerica is a very limited area in extent for people who apparently crossed the entire one million square mile Arabian peninsula, an area roughly one quarter of the entire land area of the continental United States,... in 8 years (1 Nephi 17:4). Yet, after arrival in the Americas, it is postulated that they remained in an area many times smaller than the Arabian Peninsula, for over a thousand years. The extremely limited geography proposed by Sorenson and other Mesoamerican theorists is restricted to an area of only three or four hundred miles in extent. See map below for a comparison at the same scale. Traveling in the Arabian Peninsula, one of the most inhospitable and desolate land areas on earth, would be much more difficult to traverse than the much smaller tropical rainforests of Mesoamerica. It has been speculated that Lehi's group did not venture beyond this highly restricted zone throughout their entire thousand year history. While it is possible that they didn’t undertake any further exploration of their surrounding lands, it is highly unlikely for a people who travelled nearly half the earth’s surface, to cease further exploration, especially given the hostilities perpetrated against those who were called the Nephites.
DeGroote's article then turns to the strengths of the Heartland Model geography, with emphasis on:
1. Promised Land
2. Joseph Smith statements
5. Hill Cumorah
The 36 prophecies in the Book of Mormon regarding the Promised Land clearly define the latter-day location where its events took place. Three times the ancient prophets testified that a new “nation” would be established in the latter days. A “nation” cannot be construed to mean ‘hemisphere’ or ‘continent’ but must refer to a specific nation with borders and boundaries. That this nation refers to a political entity, rather than a large human population, is also clear because it would be "established," "raised up" and "lifted up" (1 Nephi 13:19, 30, 22:7), by men who the Lord claimed he had “raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:80). They prophesied that this nation would be a mighty Gentile nation that would be “above all other nations” (1 Nephi 22:7). These Gentiles would come “out of captivity,” as did the Puritans and Pilgrims, "upon the many waters” (1 Nephi 13:13) and establish a nation that in no less than eight instances within the text emphatically states would be known as a “land of liberty.” Their “mother Gentiles” would be “gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them” (1 Nephi 13:17) yet it would be “delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations” (1 Nephi 13:19). This same nation is where the "marvelous work and a wonder" would occur as well as being the location where the New Jerusalem will be built. That these prophecies are referencing the establishment of the United States of America is well established by many prophets. If this is the case, then scriptures that specifically and undeniably state that the history of the Book of Mormon took place on the very same land, such as 1 Nephi 22:7, and Ether 13:2-3, provide strong evidence of what lands are being prophesied about and those lands are a part of the only nation that qualifies in all 36 of these prophecies to be that promised land…the United States of America. For more detailed information about these prophecies, read the recently released book, Prophecies and Promises by this author and Bruce Porter, available at http://www.bookofmormonevidence.org/products.php or also at all Deseret Book stores nationwide.
Mesoamerican enthusiasts have opined that Joseph Smith changed his mind from his earlier revelations in the early 1830’s to a Mesoamerican setting after reading a book set called Incidents of Travel in Central America by John Lloyd Stephens. Several articles appeared in the Times and Seasons newspaper in 1842 containing abstracts of this book. The historical documentation of these articles being either written, edited or reviewed by Joseph is completely lacking and it is questionable whether he was aware of their publication, as he was in hiding from arrest during this time. The historical documentation for what is known will be discussed in detail in an upcoming book titled Joseph Knew to be released soon. This subject has also been treated in depth in the 5 DVD disk series Book of Mormon Evidence, which is the most comprehensive treatise on this material ever assembled. The entire presentation is available to watch FREE at the VIDEO GALLERY # 11-15.
The undocumented and untenable position that Joseph's mind was changing based on these Times and Seasons articles, is in sharp contrast with the undisputed, historically documented written statements wherein Joseph claimed to have received revelation that clearly indicates a North American setting for the Book of Mormon. Did Joseph really change his mind from his earlier revelations? Historical documentation that will clarify this idea will be forthcoming in the new book Joseph Knew. Joseph did not deny, contradict or retreat from his earlier statements; rather he embraced them and was completely consistent with the Book of Mormon’s prophets and prophecies. Historical documentation only days before his death provide conclusive evidence that indeed Joseph's mind had not abandoned his earlier revelations. Joseph knew.
DNA research by this author has shown strong evidence through scientific peer-reviewed journals that the prophecies of the Book of Mormon are valid and true. No less than seven passages claim that there will be a “remnant” of the “House of Israel” (2 Nephi 9:53, 1 Nephi 15:14) remaining on the Promised Land in the latter days. How are these prophecies to be fulfilled without a true genetic remnant lineage? How is the prophecy that “at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel” going to be fulfilled without DNA evidence support? What other methods are there for establishing their genetic links to the house of Israel?
This is certainly, as DeGroote has indicated, a tremendous strength of the Heartland Model geography. Native American skeletal remains have been archaeologically removed from the Ohio and Mississippi river valley’s and radiocarbon dated directly into Book of Mormon time frames. They have been shown by main stream geneticists in peer reviewed journals to harbor a distinct genetic signature or lineage whose origins have been shown to have originated in the Middle East or Holy Land region. These same genetic markers are present in modern day Jewish and Semitic populations worldwide. This level of potential evidence is unprecedented in Book of Mormon geography research. Mesoamerican theories can make no such claim, and at this time they have nowhere near this level of non-LDS scientific support for the Book of Mormon’s historicity. Further in-depth information on this fascinating research subject is now available in the book Rediscovering the Book of Mormon Remnant Through DNA by this author (available at the BOOKSTORE). This 170 page large format book has the most current DNA research available at this time, and delves deeply into the phylogenetic dating method used in DNA studies. Dating of the arrival of this lineage in the Americas is the only remaining primary objection preventing this DNA lineage, which is found only in North American Native populations, from being established as Israelite, or Book of Mormon related.
Archaeologically, the past 10-15 years have yielded a treasure trove of evidence in support of the Book of Mormon’s claims in North America. First, new evidence demonstrates that there was a highly advanced civilization that existed in North America that rather amazingly corresponds with the time frames of the Book of Mormon Nephite civilization. This ancient civilization was beginning to show up in the archaeological record near 400 B.C. and abruptly ended by all accounts shortly after 400 AD. This civilization has been shown to be more highly advanced than had been previously reported. This history has been nearly annihilated by what has been termed ‘wanton destruction’ because of political and scientific agenda such as Manifest Destiny doctrine of the United States. In addition, the progression of our cities, farming and alteration of the land and the lack of understanding of the need to preserve this history has exacerbated the problem. What was once one of the most advanced civilizations in ancient human history, with large cities rivaling any on earth at the time, a written language, an understanding of metallurgy, astronomy, mathematics and of the building of roads and massive earthen structures, has been reduced by war, disease and God’s judgments to a lowly and pitiful state. That such has been the case can be attested to by their descendants being classified as “savages” by early European colonists.
Research conducted by this author and the FIRM Foundation have now found at least 45 significant correlations between this ancient civilization in America’s Heartland and the Book of Mormon Nephite civilization. They both built cities with ditches and earth banks together with wooden palisades for protection. Both civilizations had metal breastplates and head plates, used lunar time reckoning, built temples, were agrarian and had roads connecting major population centers. Again this level of evidence from non-LDS sources is unprecedented in Book of Mormon geography research. For more information you are invited to watch disk # 4: Book of Mormon Correlations from the recently released 5 DVD disk series Book of Mormon Evidence by this author for more detailed and complete information. The disk is available separately or together with the entire series at the BOOKSTORE. For further information or to order online go to www.BookofMormonEvidence.org .
It is hard to mistake the strength of the fact that the actual plates of gold inscribed by the ancient prophets of the Book of Mormon were recovered in the Hill Cumorah in New York. That this was a Book of Mormon site is unquestionable. It is equally undeniable that this site is in North America, not Mesoamerica. There are at least six revealed sites where Book of Mormon events are known to have occurred in North America. They are: 1. the Hill Cumorah in New York, 2. Zelph’s mound in Illinois, 3. the Nephite altar near Adam-Ondi-Ahman, 4. the City of Manti near Huntsville, Missouri, 5. and the Manti and 6. St. George Temples in Utah. Each of these sites had Book of Mormon people physically upon them and every one of them is located in North America. Not one such instance is known anywhere in Meso, Central or South America.
DeGroote finished his article by outlining the weaknesses of the Heartland Model as he understands them. If these are indeed the primary weaknesses of the Heartland Model, we are encouraged, since all of them have already been answered in the new 5 DVD series Book of Mormon Evidence or the new documentary, The Lost Civilizations of North America. The Heartland Model weaknesses, according to DeGroote, are as follows.
1. River Sidon
3. A West Sea
5. Lack of Civilization
DeGroote quotes Sorenson as stating “The Book of Mormon makes it abundantly clear that the river Sidon runs from the south to the north” and that armies had to be able to cross the river on foot. Sorenson believes this to be impossible for the Mississippi river, which is proposed in the Heartland Model to be the River Sidon of the Book of Mormon. Where exactly does the Book of Mormon state that the river flowed north? We know it had east/west banks, making it possible to narrow down the direction it flowed as either north or south, but how does Sorenson know positively that the river ran north? The fact is, nowhere in the Book of Mormon does it state that the river flows north or south. Both Sorenson and DeGroote seem to be unaware of the information already provided in the DVD series Book of Mormon Evidence or discussed in a video clip http://www.bookofmormonevidence.org/video_gallery.php titled 'Zarahemla near Nauvoo?' or written in the book Prophecies and Promises (available in the BOOKSTORE) about the Des Moines rapids. These rapids ran between Nauvoo, IL and Keokuk, Iowa and historical sources show that the mean depth of the Mississippi river at these rapids was a mere 2.4 feet deep! They are known to have been crossed at certain seasons of the year on foot and by horse, especially during the summer and autumn dry seasons. Several examples of this have been found in historical documents of the Church and will be referenced in the new book, Joseph Knew upon its release. This rapid was the first location upriver from the Gulf of Mexico where the Mississippi River could be crossed on foot until dams and locks were constructed to raise the water levels sufficiently to allow river boats to pass. For an informative treatise on this subject, visit the Q&A section of www.BookofMormonEvidence.org and scroll nearly to the bottom of the page.
The land of Nephi is consistently referred to in the Book of Mormon as having the necessity of traveling “up” into or “down” out of the land, with only one exception. That it was higher in elevation has been substantiated by several passages and also through the opposite being consistently used in relation to Zarahemla. Travels toward it are always referred to as going “down” into Zarahemla or coming “up” out of it. Sorenson asks “Is it the hills of Kentucky?” This indicates a lack of research or understanding of the Heartland Model, since eastern Tennessee with its Great Smoky Mountains and Cumberland Plateau is the proposed area for the Land of Nephi. These areas are litered with archaeological evidence of the Hopewell Mound Builder civilization, with an abundance of gold, copper and silver as required by the Book of Mormon text.
This region stands at an elevation between 3,000 and 5,000 feet above sea level. In contrast, the proposed location of Zarahemla as being across the river from Nauvoo, IL, as revealed by the Lord in D&C 125:3, lies on the west bank of the Mississippi river and is only about 600 feet above sea level. Of course the simplest way to know what is “up” and what is “down” in a relatively flat topography such as America’s heartland, is to notice the direction of flow of the rivers. Up will always be against the river current, and down is with it. The ancients would certainly have known that all the rivers on the western slopes of the Appalachians in eastern Tennessee are flowing “down” toward the Mississippi river and were a part of the overall Mississippi river tributary system, which is proposed as the Sidon River in the Heartland Model geography. That neither Sorenson nor DeGroote knew this is understandable only if one assumes that neither have watched the 5 DVD series, Book of Mormon Evidence, or come to the advanced presentations on the Heartland Model geography, both of which discuss that at length. Had they done so, the alleged “weakness” in this article may have been included as one of its strengths because it matches beautifully with the text.
Another example of simply not having completed their research is the third “weakness” of the Heartland Model geography. Had a thorough investigation been conducted on the proposed geography of the Heartland Model, Sorenson and DeGroote would have already had their answer to the question of a West Sea in relation to the Narrow Neck of Land. DeGroote again cites Sorenson who wonders how Lehi sailed to it from Asia. Again this demonstrates an assumed interpretation of several scriptures as nowhere in the Book of Mormon itself does it claim that Lehi landed on the western side of the Promised Land, nor that they sailed east across the largest ocean in the world, the Pacific, at its widest point. Why wouldn't they have taken the shorter, easier, and more natural route to America by sailing around Africa and up into the Gulf of Mexico, as proposed by the Heartland Model back in 2006?
An recently completed voyage in a replica 600 BC era sailing ship, called the Phoenicia, has demonstrated and validated the likely route of Lehi from the Arabian Peninsula to the America's. This expedition has proven beyond any doubt that a route following the natural ocean and surface currents from the Arabian Peninsula in a sailing ship to the America's is not only feasible, it has now been positively demonstrated. Read about the significance of this voyage to every person who believes in the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon in the article Lehi's Voyage Demonstrated: The Phoencia Expedition.
Sorenson’s questions about snow and cold were addressed in the very first presentations and DVD nearly three years ago. Apparently he again has not taken the necessary time to familiarize himself with the Heartland research. If he disagrees with the explanations that have been provided, he has provided no mention of why he disagrees, nor provided evidence refuting it. Having read several of Sorenson’s works, I know him to be very articulate in his research involving things he is interested in. A concern is that Sorenson is either disinterested in this proposed model or so confident in his own theory that he makes claims without attempting to ascertain the facts or review the information. Information regarding weather and climate can be found on the original DVD titled DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography or on disk # 4 of the new DVD series Book of Mormon Evidence. The mention of snow and hail in the Book of Mormon occurs three times, whereas the mention of “the heat of the day” is mentioned only once, and cannot be construed as evidence requiring a tropical climate. Nowhere in the Book of Mormon are monkeys, palm trees, coconuts or jungles mentioned. Weather was apparently not high on the priority list for recording on the sacred records by the ancient prophets who were charged with keeping them. Still, there are indicators of climate such as the fact that there were “seasons of the year” and that this was the “nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40) which would seem to favor a North American setting rather than a Mesoamerican setting because there is little difference between the warm rainy season and the warm dry seasons in Mesoamerica in comparison with winter and summer in North America. Also indicators such as whirlwinds in the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 8:12, 16) which are most likely referencing significant tornadoes, don’t occur in Mesoamerica, whereas North America’s heartland is known as tornado alley.
The final weakness mentioned in the article is the lack of civilization within the confines of the Heartland Model. This claimed weakness is almost embarrassing for Sorenson and DeGroote who both should have known better than argue this point since the release of the new documentary The Lost Civilizations of North America. This film includes 15 scholars (only three of which are LDS) all attesting to the fact that the Mound Builders in America’s heartland were every bit as advanced, and possibly more so, than any other civilization of its time on earth. (See video clips # 24-28 on the FREE VIDEO GALLERY) Their overall achievements rival anything else on earth in size, scope, difficulty, and scale of their era. They created from the natural materials they had, stunning works that “challenge the imagination” (see video clips # 65-67 at the VIDEO GALLERY).
The primary difference between the evidence for this civilization and that of Mesoamerica lies in their claimed preferred building materials. The Book of Mormon is very clear that the preferred building material was wood, not stone or cement. The only occasion when cement is mentioned was when they had used up all the wood. This fact is reiterated time and again in the text. See Mosiah 11:8-10, Helaman 3:9-11, Mormon 5:5 and Ether 14:17. Both Sorenson and DeGroote failed to mention an overwhelming weakness of the Mesoamerican theories because of the utilization of stone in Mayan ruins while the Book of Mormon makes no mention of stone as a building material, nor of temples of stone. In fact, according to the text, the temples of the Nephites were made of wood (see Hel. 3:9). There is only one reference to stone being used as a building material, and that was in the making of walls, not buildings (Alma 48:8).
In summary, DeGroote did outline the strengths and weaknesses quite well of the Mesoamerican theories, as well as the strengths of the Heartland Model. However, his assessments of the weaknesses of the Heartland model are demonstrably in error. Either he is not well informed about some of the arguments that had already been addressed or he may be trying to balance the argument using interpretations that were formulated by Sorenson and others whose belief and agenda is founded in Mesoamerican theories. Many such theorists have interpreted the scriptures in such a way as to support their positions. Overall, though, the article was a very good step in the right direction with no animosity, name calling or personal attacks for which this author is very grateful. I believe this was an honest attempt at neutrality on the issue. I would like to suggest that next time DeGroote take the time to review with me his thoughts and concerns and listen closely to my response so that more accurate reporting can be made in this regard.
May I reiterate my position that the evidence for the geography of the Book of Mormon is not something that could ever take the place of the spiritual confirmation of the Holy Ghost in gaining a testimony and a knowledge of the truthfulness of its words. This testimony is not gained by looking for physical evidence, but rather by putting Moroni’s challenge to the test, and reading, pondering and praying to receive an answer. May I suggest that as you investigate the Heartland Model geography, you make it a matter of reading, pondering and praying to know the truths that may be found. This is the only sure way to know what is truth and what isn’t.
Rod L. Meldrum
The FIRM Foundation