Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Tragedy of Palmyra

The world was shocked and devastated by the Tragedy of Palmyra, Syria, when ISIS destroyed UNESCO World Heritage sites there to erase history they disapproved of.

Members of the Church should be just as shocked and devastated by what has happened in Palmyra, New York, as the history of the hill Cumorah has been erased from the site.

In Palmyra, Syria, the destruction of history has been well documented.

In Palmyra, New York, the destruction of history has not yet been well documented. But next week, we're going to look at how it has taken place and what the repercussions are.

Before - Cumorah/Ramah

After - Mesoamerica in New York!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Confirmation bias - trample under feet edition

Regarding the Book of Mormon, lots of things are brought to my attention lately. I wish I had time to discuss all of them, but time is short.

This one, though, is an especially stark example of confirmation bias. It's a good demonstration of how and why M2C (Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) persists among its advocates.

Quick review: Confirmation bias is defined as "the tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with one's existing beliefs." In some cases, it's not merely a tendency but a consistent practice.

In my view, the entire M2C theory is based on confirmation bias. M2C advocates share these biases, through which the M2C intellectuals interpret everything.

1. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were wrong when they wrote Letter VII, which unambiguously declared it was a fact that the Hill Cumorah is in New York. These two men established a false tradition that misled the Church for decades until BYU intellectuals corrected them.

2. All the subsequent prophets who have affirmed that the Hill Cumorah is in New York have also been wrong, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

3. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery knew nothing about Book of Mormon geography/historicity. They relied on intellectuals to address the question. Therefore, BYU/CES students should believe the intellectuals, not the prophets.

4. Anonymous articles in the 1842 Times and Seasons established the truth about Book of Mormon geography, relying on a travel book about Central America.

5. There are abundant "parallels" or "correspondences" between Mayan culture and the Book of Mormon, verifying the M2C theory.

When you look at these five biases, you wonder, why would anyone choose these biases instead of the simple bias that the prophets have taught the truth about the New York Cumorah? The evidence to support the M2C biases must be overwhelming to justify repudiating the prophets, right?

As we'll see, the reality is the opposite. The "evidence" used to confirm the M2C bias is purely illusory.

Today's example involves the phrase "Trample Under Feet." You can see the explanation here:

The gist of the argument is this: "The Book of Mormon uses a variant of the expression "trample under feet" 11 times. It must have been a relatively common term among the Nephites and their contemporaries. In contrast, the Old and New Testaments each use the phrase only once."

The article lists "the relevant passages" and then shares various Mayan depictions of victors trampling war captives, such as this one.

The article continues: "Now things get really interesting. 3 of the Book of Mormon passages listed above describe men trampling God under their feet. Maya iconography shows a young man trampling a god."

If you share the M2C bias, this Mayan artwork will effectively confirm your bias, for sure.

But if you don't share the M2C bias, you realize this is just another example of ubiquitous human activity that is found throughout human culture throughout time.

I've taught art history classes, and I've visited art museums all over the world. I've seen images of "trampling under foot" everywhere I've gone.

Plus, there's the Internet.

To compare these Mayan images to the Book of Mormon is another example of the basic M2C logic:

Nephites grew crops.
Mayans grew crops.
Therefore, Nephites were Mayans.

Let's break this M2C argument down.

First, let's look at the scriptures.

It's true that the Bible contains the two passages listed in this article:

Psalms 91:13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. This psalm is generally understood to refer to the future Messiah.

Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Here's how the article misleads readers. First, it claims these are the only two "relevant" passages from the Bible. Of course, the Matthew verse is from the Sermon on the Mount, one of the most widely known and quoted sections of the New Testament.

But are these the only "relevant" passages in the Bible?

Only if you're confirming your bias and trying to persuade others to do likewise.

When you look at "trample" in the Topical Guide, you see this note: "See also Tread" The terms are synonyms, used interchangeably in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. (Other translations of the Bible also use the terms interchangeably, as in this example of Hebrews 10:29, here.)

Click on the Topical Guide link and go all the Biblical uses of the term tread. Now you see verses such as these:

to be trodden under foot, Matt. 5:13 (3 Ne. 12:13)

who hath trodden under foot the Son, Heb. 10:29

holy city shall they tread under foot, Rev. 11:2.

as a young lion among the flocks of sheep … treadeth down, Micah 5:8 (3 Ne. 20:1621:12).

Every place … your feet shall tread shall be yours, Deut. 11:24.

In Isaiah 63:3, the two terms are used in the same verse:

I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.

If you look up "tread" in the scriptures, you see that "tread" and its forms are used 54 times in the Old Testament, 7 times in the New Testament, and only 21 times in the Book of Mormon.

IOW, the combined uses of tread/trample are more common in the Old Testament than in the Book of Mormon. The M2C article claims the term "trample" is more common in the Book of Mormon, but that conclusion is reached by excluding synonyms as not "relevant" even when the Book of Mormon itself uses the terms interchangeably, as in 3 Ne. 12:13 (also from the Sermon on the Mount).

The concept of trodding, treading or trampling under foot is found throughout the Bible, from Deuteronomy through Revelation. It should be no surprise to find it throughout the Book of Mormon as well. You have to have pretty strong confirmation bias to delude yourself into thinking this concept is Mayan in origin.

What about the Mayan artwork?

The symbol of treading or trampling on one's enemies is common throughout human history and culture. It's an iconic symbol of victory in war. It is also used metaphorically to address human relationships. Even Led Zeppelin has a song titled "Trampled Under Foot."

Below are a few images that show how widespread the idea is. The comparison of the Mayan artwork to the Book of Mormon is a completely illusory "correspondence." If the Mayans did not depict standing on conquered enemies, that would be an anomaly.

You will find this type of illusory correspondence throughout the M2C literature. I think it's tragic that this type of  illusory "evidence" is used by BYU/CES teachers to persuade LDS students that the prophets and apostles are wrong, but they continue to teach M2C anyway.

Below are several images of "trampling under foot" that "correspond" to the Book of Mormon. I'm not labeling all of these paintings because they are iconic, but you can find them on google if you want.

By the logic of M2C confirmation bias, artwork of "trampling under foot" could be used to prove the Book of Mormon took place during the French revolution, during the Norman invasion of England, during the Roman gladiator period, and even in modern business settings.

As an alternative to M2C confirmation bias, we could instead believe the prophets and interpret the Book of Mormon as a Hebrew text using Hebrew terminology and concepts, set in a location such that the final battles of the Jaredites and Nephites took place in western New York.

The Book of Mormon has nothing to do with Mayan civilization.

FYI: my bias is to believe the prophets, not illusory correspondences.

Trampling under foot - the human condition - a brief survey

Peter Paul Reubens, the Triumph of Vistory
Eugene Delacroix, La Liberte guidant le peuple
Bayeux Tapestry

Muhammad Ali beats Sonny Liston

Batman Forever

Monday, March 12, 2018

Random thoughts on the M2C Fifth Columnists

A few random thoughts on M2C.

When I read the material published by our M2C Fifth Columnists (meaning the LDS intellectuals who promote the Mesoamerican/Two-Cumorahs theory), I often think of Jacob's summary of his teachings in Chapter 6:

 12 O be wise; what can I say more?

A few verses earlier, Jacob asked this question: "Will ye reject the words of the prophets?"

Every time you read or hear the M2C Fifth Columnists, you can be sure they reject the words of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

It was the prophet Jacob who also said

28 O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. 

That is the single best description of the M2C Fifth Column I've found in the scriptures. That is precisely the attitude that leads these intellectuals to repudiate the prophets' teachings about the New York Cumorah.

But there is hope:

29 But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.

Let's continue to be patient and hope that the M2C intellectuals will someday hearken to what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah. 

But in the meantime, we need to educate people about Letter VII and the agenda behind M2C. This is especially important for students in CES and at BYU, who are defenseless against the M2C dogma.

If the M2C intellectuals do someday hearken unto the prophets, they can still advocate their Mesoamerican parallels and correspondences.

I'm fine with M, so long as it doesn't include 2C.

Well, I'm fine in the sense that M, on its own, at least doesn't contradict the prophets. I don't think it makes sense for other reasons, but at least it wouldn't be teaching LDS youth and missionaries to disbelieve the prophets. 

Bertrand Russell explained every aspect of the behavior of M2C Fifth Columnists (meaning the LDS intellectuals who promote the Mesoamerican/Two-Cumorahs theory).
If you think your belief is based upon reason, you will support it by argument rather than by persecution, and will abandon it if the argument goes against you.

But if your belief is based upon faith, you will realize that argument is useless, and will therefore resort to force either in the form of persecution or by stunting or distorting the minds of the young in what is called ‘education.’
  • Bertrand Russell

I think our M2C Fifth Columnists know their M2C theory is not based upon reason or evidence.

BYU puts Book of Mormon in a fantasy land
Otherwise, they wouldn't continue to refuse to do a side-by-side comparison in their publications.

For that matter, there would be no M2C citation cartel if their theory was based on reason; to the contrary, they would invite articles and presentations by the New York Cumorah proponents so everyone could compare the reasoning and evidence.

But they refuse. Instead, they prevail by suppressing Letter VII, its context and all the evidence that corroborates the consistent and persistent teachings of the prophets.

Russell also exposed how our M2C Fifth Columnists have been "distorting the minds of the young," meaning their students at BYU/CES, by using "education" to persuade these trusting students that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah. 

There was a multistake fireside last night in Utah Country, featuring a brother who promotes M2C. It's awesome that you can speak in LDS church buildings so long as you're teaching people to disbelieve the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

He started by asking how many people were familiar with the North American setting, which he called the "Eastern States" setting. About half the audience raised their hands. He asked what is the first indication we have about Book of Mormon geography in Church history. Several people said the Hill Cumorah, but he ignored them and claimed it was the "narrow neck of land."

This was the first clue that the night was not about reality, but instead about promoting M2C by keeping the audience ignorant of inconvenient facts. That's exactly what Russell was describing in the quotation above. No M2C proponent wants people to even know about Letter VII, let alone the consistent, persistent teachings of the prophets that corroborate Letter VII and the New York Cumorah.

So they ignore it.

Then the speaker said there was nothing more about the geography until the 1842 articles in the Times and Seasons by Joseph Smith. He didn't tell his audience that these articles were anonymous, let alone that Joseph had neither the time nor inclination to edit that newspaper. Of course, he didn't tell them anything about Benjamin Winchester, William Smith, the Wasp, etc.

It's somewhat understandable that people thought Joseph wrote or edited these articles for so long. But a moment's reflection shows how irrational that belief is at this point.

The M2C proponents rely entirely on the boilerplate at the end of the Times and Seasons. This claims the newspaper is edited, printed and published by Joseph Smith. And yet, not even M2C proponents claim Joseph spent his time in the print shop, manning the press or setting type. No one can point to a single historical reference of Joseph actually printing or editing the paper.

Joseph signed specific pieces that he wrote for the paper, but not anonymous editorials. Plus, the very issues that contain the anonymous editorials about Central America also contain letters Joseph wrote and sent to the editor for publication.

These M2C intellectuals want us to believe Joseph sent these letters to himself!

So why do they keep insisting that Joseph wrote these anonymous editorials?

Because the editorials themselves are absurd. They cite ruins that postdate the Book of Mormon. By attributing these editorials to Joseph Smith, the M2C intellectuals portray Joseph as confused, ignorant, and speculative.

Joseph Smith therefore needs the M2C intellectuals to come to the rescue!

And they're proud to do it, even when it means repudiating all the prophets who have ever spoken about the New York Cumorah.

These presentations are a thing to behold.

They're like sitting in a Book of Mormon class at BYU, Institute, Seminary, etc., and watching the instructor intentionally mislead the students with these fantasy maps.

Whenever I see presentations such as this, I think of D&C 121:

33 How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.

One thing an audience will not get at an M2C presentation is knowledge. You get nothing but propaganda, because the M2C Fifth Columnists know most LDS reject M2C as soon as they learn the truth--that M2C constitutes a repudiation of the prophets.

The M2C presentation last night focused on Izapa Stela 5.

It was an amazing display of confirmation bias.

This pagan stone now supposedly depicts Jacob 5's allegory of the olive tree, the House of Israel, Lehi and his family, the tree of life, and much, much more.

You can read about the interpretations right on this BYU website:

You can see a replica on display in the Salt Lake Valley, as explained here:

You used to be able to buy replicas at Deseret Book.

But, if you're an M2C Fifth Columnist, you cannot accept President Cowdery's Letter VII. You cannot accept Brigham Young's explanation that Joseph and Oliver and others actually visited Mormon's depository of records in the Hill Cumorah in New York. And you cannot accept all the prophets who have reaffirmed the New York Cumorah.

It's much better to believe a subjective, confirmation bias interpretation of a pagan stone than to believe the latter-day prophets.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Keystone and the Fifth Columnists

Next week I'll get back to the series on Cumorah, but first I need to explain the Fifth Column problem a little more.

Let's do a thought experiment.
Think of the Church as a fortified place of resort. (I'm using Mont St. Michel just because I like visiting there and it's unique the way it uses the ocean as a defense.)

You are inside the barricades, protected from assaults from outside. You take your turn at the walls, keeping the attackers outside. The fortifications are sound. Your people are united. You will prevail against outside attacks, but you've been warned about attacks from within.

That's one part of the thought experiment. Keep it in mind as we consider the second part.

Here is part 2.

How would the adversary most effectively impede the progress of the Church?

Some might find that question uncomfortable or even irrelevant because they think the Church is doing so well, the progress is unimpeded, etc. If you're among those who think all is well in Zion, fine. You might as well stop reading right now.

The rest of us can look at the statistics and see how missionary and activation work is declining except where people don't have access to the Internet. Plus, we can compare the British Mission, which in one year generated 5,000 converts with only 3,000 copies of the Book of Mormon (in the face of very strong opposition) to the current situation, in which there are over 150 million copies of the Book of Mormon in print, plus digital copies, but there are only around 300,000 converts a year.

There should be 200 million or more Mormons in the world.

Statistically, by comparison with the British mission, progress is definitely being impeded.

I think it all boils down to the Book of Mormon, as it always has.

Not many people leave the Church while still believing the Book of Mormon is true. Not many people decline to join while believing the Book of Mormon is true.

So what is happening?

President Ezra Taft Benson explained the central role of the Book of Mormon:

Finally, the Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. 

The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it. So does our claim to priesthood keys, and revelation, and the restored Church. But in like manner, if the Book of Mormon be true—and millions have now testified that they have the witness of the Spirit that it is indeed true—then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it.

There are plenty of people attacking the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon from the outside.

The fundamental attack is that the Book of Mormon is fiction.

Detractors claim it is not an authentic history of ancient people, so it is not a divinely inspired translation of an ancient record. Instead, they claim, it is a creation from the 19th century. They point to alleged anachronisms and lack of evidence in archaeology, anthropology, DNA, etc.

But those arguments, by themselves, can never prove or disprove the veracity of the text as an authentic translation of an ancient record without an explanation for the origin of the text. That's why critics try to show the text is fictional.

Using the military analogy, we could say there are four columns or lines of military forces employed to attack the Book of Mormon.

Column 1: Someone else wrote it (e.g., Sidney Rigdon)
Column 2: Joseph Smith copied it from someone else (e.g., Solomon Spaulding)
Column 3: Joseph Smith adapted it from someone else (e.g., View of the Hebrews, The Late War)
Column 4: Joseph Smith made it up (he had a vivid imagination, was inspired by Satan, etc.)

These attacks succeed to the extent they confirm the bias of an individual; i.e., someone who doesn't want to accept the divine and historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon can confirm that bias by joining one of these four military columns.

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery faced these four columns of attack from the outset, but especially after Mormonism Unvailed [sic] was published in Ohio in October 1834. They responded by explaining that the best defense was a statement of facts. That's why they wrote the first Gospel Topics essays--the eight letters that were published in the Messenger and Advocate in 1834-5. (Portions of Letter I are included in the Pearl of Great Price today.)

Letter VII specifically addressed the attacks on the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon. That's why President Cowdery emphasized it was a fact--not a guess or speculation--that the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites took place in the mile-wide valley west of the Hill Cumorah in New York. That's also why he emphasized that it was inside this same hill that Mormon hid up the Nephite records, as explained in Mormon 6:6.

This factual defense of the Book of Mormon, written by President Cowdery, was endorsed by Joseph Smith multiple times. To make sure all the Saints were fortified, Joseph approved the republication of Letter VII in Church newspapers for the rest of his life. In fact, Letter VII was published in the Church newspaper in New York City, edited by his brother William Smith, just two days after the Martyrdom in Carthage.

Joseph's successors reiterated the New York Cumorah for over 150 years, including in LDS General Conference.

But in recent years, LDS intellectuals have sought to undermine the strong defense that President Cowdery and Joseph Smith set up.

Let's see how it works.

Someone who wants to accept the Book of Mormon as a divine translation of a historical record may rely on a spiritual witness as a defense, and for those who have the gift of "exceedingly strong faith," that suffices. Others have different spiritual gifts (see Moroni 10). They may have the gift of the word of wisdom or knowledge instead of "exceedingly great faith." Such individuals also have defenses against these four columns because there are serious evidentiary problems with each of these attacks.

But other people don't respond to the spiritual witness. Some people weigh the evidence about the literary origins of the Book of Mormon so as to reject Joseph's explanation.

This is why the solution offered by Joseph and Oliver in Letter VII is so important.

The fact that the final battles took place in Western New York grounds the text in the real world in a fashion that a spiritual witness, or an interpretation of the literary evidence, cannot. 

Letter VII declares that the events in the Book of Mormon really happened by telling us exactly where some of the most critical events actually did happen.

Every prophet and apostle who has publicly spoken or written about the Hill Cumorah has affirmed Letter VII. None has rejected it.

One way people fortify their faith is by banding together and supporting one another. People may have different reasons for remaining within the fortification, but they can help one another regardless. The outside attackers have no chance when the believers are united.

That's where our M2C Fifth Column enters the picture.

A Fifth Column consists of individuals and/or groups who are within the fortification but are assisting the attackers. They may act intentionally, as happened in the Spanish Civil War, or they may act out of ignorance, negligence, or a mistaken belief that they are helping defend the homeland.

A Fifth Column doesn't have to attack the walls from inside. It can succeed simply by sowing confusion and doubt.

Defenders who are confused or doubtful let down their defenses. They may succumb individually to the exterior assaults. Or, maybe worse, they may leave their posts and give the attackers the advantage, enabling them to breach the walls.

We've all seen movies where a fortress or castle is under siege. Often the attack succeeds because of the mistakes, negligence, or outright treachery of people inside the fortification.

Joseph and Oliver provided us a powerful, fact-based defense of the Book of Mormon when they wrote Letter VII. Joseph recognized the importance of the letter, as I've described. The prophets and apostles who succeeded him also recognized its importance, which is why they republished and reiterated it, including in General Conference.

But in the last few decades, certain LDS scholars have decided that defense was no good.

Because they convinced themselves that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica, they went the next step and convinced themselves that the prophets and apostles were wrong about the New York Cumorah.

To respond to the direct teachings of the prophets, they developed a "two-Cumorahs" theory. They said, "Okay, there is a hill in New York named Cumorah, but that's only the place where Joseph Smith got the plates. It wasn't the ancient Nephite Cumorah. It certainly wasn't the Jaredite Ramah. The name Cumorah was mistakenly and naively applied to the New York hill. It was a false tradition that misled the prophets and apostles. Instead, the real Cumorah is in southern Mexico."

Hence, M2C--the Mesoamerican/two Cumorahs theory.

These intellectuals developed maps to teach the youth of the Church that Cumorah was actually in Mesoamerica, or in a fantasy land. They directly contradicted the teachings of the prophets, but they justified that by claiming the prophets were ignorant, that they speculated, and that they were wrong.

They ignored the prophetic warnings and thereby became a Fifth Column.

Then they infiltrated CES and BYU to impose their views on their students.


And that's how we've come full circle.

The outside attacks on the Book of Mormon that claimed the book was fiction have succeeded in persuading most of the world that the Book of Mormon is not a divine translation of an authentic ancient history. But those attacks have been ineffective against the strong spiritual witness shared by those who have the spiritual gift of "exceedingly great faith."

But now that BYU/CES are teaching the youth that the Book of Mormon can best be understood in a fictional setting, and that the prophets and apostles have been wrong all along about the New York Cumorah, the defensive bulwark established by Joseph Smith, President Cowdery, and their successors is all but breached.

The question for us today is, are we going to tear down what is left of the fortification provided by Letter VII and the New York Cumorah? 

Or are we going to join the M2C Fifth Column and tear down the fortification completely? 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The M2C citation cartel as the Fifth Column - FairMormon example

There was a bit of a reaction to my post yesterday about the Fifth Column, so I thought we should clarify the issue.

In my view, any LDS person or group who teaches that the latter-day prophets are wrong is acting as a Fifth Column.* This is a fundamental, uncontroversial principle, well established in the scriptures.  

It's true that in the classic sense, a Fifth Column is defined as a "clandestine group or faction of subversive agents who attempt to undermine a nation’s solidarity by any means at their disposal." But I'm not saying the M2C** citation cartel is sympathizing with the adversary. That's why I gave the example of people who were unintentionally spreading colds and influenza that undermined the war effort.
Fifth Columnists spreading disease,
but not sympathizing with the adversary

You don't have to sympathize with the enemy or intend to sabotage the war effort to be a Fifth Column. You can do so out of ignorance, negligence, or even with misdirected good intentions.

Joseph Fielding Smith called out the M2C theory when it first got started in the 1930s. He said that "Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon."

Causing confusion and disturbing the faith of members in the Book of Mormon is exactly what a Fifth Column in the Church would do. 

And that's exactly what the M2C citation cartel is doing. 

Instead of the M2C citation cartel, a better name would be the M2C Fifth Columnists.

Yesterday I explained that it was a white board in Palmyra that led me to President Lee's comments about the Fifth Columnists. I was especially interested in this because in the 1960s, I was in Spain when it was being ruled by General Franco. An Article in the NY Times explains the term:

"Poised for what many thought would be the final assault on Madrid at the outbreak of civil war in 1936, Gen. Emilio Mola was asked which of his four columns would take the capital. Coining a phrase that became instantly celebrated, the general replied that it was his hidden ''fifth column'' of right-wing supporters inside Madrid that would deliver the city."

I think President Lee and President Smith identified the Fifth Columnist problem very well. It is not the attacks from the outside that cause problem so much as the Fifth Column on the inside that is directly repudiating the prophets.

The Britannica explanation I quoted above continues with this:

A cardinal technique of the fifth column is the infiltration of sympathizers into the entire fabric of the nation under attack and, particularly, into positions of policy decision and national defense. From such key posts, fifth-column activists exploit the fears of a people by spreading rumours and misinformation, as well as by employing the more standard techniques of espionage and sabotage.

The analogy to M2C Fifth Columnists is not exact, IMO, because the LDS M2C Fifth Columnists are not sympathizers with the adversary. As I've suggested many times, they are seeking to vindicate what they thought Joseph Smith taught in the anonymous 1842 Times and Seasons articles. In that sense, they have good intentions.

Nevertheless, the M2C Fifth Columnists have infiltrated effectively. They are in positions at BYU/CES and other areas from which they can exploit the ignorance of the members and spread misinformation about not just their M2C dogma, but also President Cowdery, David Whitmer, and every other Church leader who has spoken or written about the New York Cumorah.

Let's look at an example.

Because of their Mesomania obsession, FairMormon is one of the leaders of the M2C Fifth Column. 

Look how they deal with President Smith's warning. You can read it in full here.

This is very effective Fifth Columnist work. They use classic logical fallacies to obfuscate and mislead readers into accepting their M2C dogma.

Notice, they don't reveal what President Joseph Fielding Smith actually wrote. Instead, they give a summary, characterizing his prophetic warning as a mere "argument." This lowers President Smith's warning to the equivalent of an academic argument so that FairMormon's own argument is on a level playing field.

Well, actually, President Smith's "argument" is beneath FairMormon's level, because the M2C Fifth Columnists always prefer scholars over prophets.

Then, they claim that because President Smith didn't reiterate his warning yet again during the 18 months he served as Church President, his "argument" doesn't amount to much. It doesn't matter that he originally issued his warning in 1938 as Church Historian and a 20-year member of the Twelve, or that he reissued his warning in 1956 as President of the Quorum of the Twelve. He had to republish it again while President of the Church for FairMormon and the other Fifth Columnists to consider his prophet warning as anything more than an academic argument, and a weak one at that.

In good Fifth Columnist fashion, FairMormon refers to an undated private letter in which President Smith allegedly claimed "I have never paid any attention whatever to Book of Mormon geography because it appears to me that it is inevitable that there must be a great deal of guesswork."

This is a classic red herring fallacy. FairMormon is conflating the issue of "Book of Mormon geography," which has been speculative from the outset, with the issue of the "New York Cumorah," which is anything but speculative. The New York Cumorah has been specifically taught by multiple prophets and apostles for over 150 years, and no prophet or apostle has ever taught Cumorah is anywhere else.

Nevertheless, based on this undated private letter, FairMormon asserts this: "Apparently, he did not consider his 1938 argument as settled and definitive or as a measure of doctrinal orthodoxy."

This is the classic mind-reading rhetorical trick that is effective for confirming bias but is fundamentally dishonest, especially compared with what President Smith actually said in his statement:

Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. It is for this reason that evidence is here presented to show that it is not only possible that these places could be located as the Church has held during the past century, but that in very deed such is the case.

For an M2C Fifth Columnist, when a prophet declares about the New York Cumorah that "In very deed such is the case," he really means "he did not consider [the New York Cumorah] as settled and definitive."

President Smith could not have been any clearer. This example shows that there are no words clear and direct enough to pierce the armor of the M2C Fifth Columnist confirmation bias. 

FairMormon goes on to cite 50-year-old hearsay from a student in Sidney Sperry's BYU class to contradict President Smith's teaching about Cumorah. Based on this hearsay, FairMormon gives us another classic conclusion:

"It seems clear, then, that Elder (later President) Smith did not regard his views as the product of revelation, nor did he regard it as illegitimate to have a different view of the matter."

By now, I hope readers can see the compound logical fallacies here, but I'll list a few.

- FairMormon doesn't show readers what President Smith actually taught. Instead, it uses a misleading summary and characterizes his prophetic warning as an academic "argument."

- FairMormon uses 50-year-old hearsay to contradict the explicit and repeated statements of President Smith's regarding the New York Cumorah that "in very deed such is the case."

- FairMormon applies the basic M2C Fifth Columnist approach that elevates scholars over prophets.

- FairMormon uses the rhetorical terminology "Apparently" and "It seems clear" to obfuscate and mislead readers into accepting the M2C Fifth Columnist dogma instead of analyzing the argument critically.

Looking back at my blogs and books, I now realize that what I've described as M2C is really a Fifth Columnist activity.

The seriousness of the problem cannot be overstated, as I'll explain tomorrow.


*I'm not referring to isolated, unofficial statements by General Authorities. I'm referring to the New York Cumorah, which has been taught in General Conference, in at least one book published by the Church itself, and in numerous official Church publications, as well as in various books and articles by General Authorities. It has been consistently taught by many members of the Twelve and the First Presidency and has never been contradicted by a single member of the Twelve or the First Presidency.

** M2C is the acronym for the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory that teaches the "real Cumorah" of Mormon 6:6 is in southern Mexico (or anyplace in the world other than in New York), while the "New York hill" where Joseph found the plates was misnamed by unknown early Church members who were ignorant speculators and thereby misled the Church. According to M2C, Joseph Smith passively adopted the false tradition. The M2C citation cartel consists of individuals and groups who promote the M2C theory. This includes FairMormon, BYU Studies, Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute, and many others. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

"Maps of the opposition" and fifth columnists

We were in Palmyra for a few days, working on the new historical display. I'll post photos and descriptions of that next week.

On Sunday in the Palmyra Ward, I noticed this quotation from Harold B. Lee written on the white board at the front of the room:

"There are carefully charted on the maps of the opposition the weak spots in every one of us. They are known to the forces of evil." 

This was from a talk Elder Lee gave in General Conference on September 30, 1949.* You can see it here:

Look at the map that accompanies the quotation:

"Maps of the opposition"
This is the CES map of the Book of Mormon that all LDS students have been learning for the last few years.

It is roughly the same as the infamous map that BYU is teaching all new students--the one that teaches students to understand the scriptures as taking place in a fantasy world.

"Maps of the opposition" is an ideal term for these fantasy maps because they are teaching students throughout the Church that the prophets and apostles are wrong about the New York Cumorah.

Elder Lee's talk was titled "Powers of the Gospel." Here's how he introduced the above quotation:

"Using words that are common to modern warfare, we might say that there are in the world today fifth columnists who are seeking to infiltrate the defenses of every one of us, and when we lower those defenses, we open avenues to an invasion of our souls."

This is precisely the tactic used by the BYU/CES teachers who seek to persuade their students that they should believe the intellectuals instead of the prophets and apostles.

Elder Lee was speaking just a few years after the end of World War II, and I suspect some readers here are unfamiliar with the term "fifth columnist." Here's a pretty good definition from wikipedia:

fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favor of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilize openly to assist an external attack. This term is also extended to organized actions by military personnel. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defense lines by secret sympathizers with an external force.
ORIGIN During the Siege of Madrid in the Spanish Civil WarNationalist general Emilio Mola told a journalist in 1936 that as his four columns of troops approached Madrid, a "fifth column" (SpanishQuinta columna) of supporters inside the city would support him and undermine the Republican government from within.
The term was then widely used in SpainErnest Hemingway used it as the title of his only play, which he wrote in Madrid while the city was being bombarded, and published in 1938 in his book The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories.

During World War II, the government used the concept of "Fifth Columnists" to motivate the public and show them how they could help or hinder the war effort. There's a detailed "Fifth Column" map of the United States you can see here:

You can see why a "Fifth Column" is so effective. It exists inside the defenses, so people don't even recognize it and have no sense of danger.

People can be part of a "Fifth Column" intentionally or unintentionally. As the wikipedia article noted, sabotage, disinformation and espionage are all fifth column activities.

But you can also be a Fifth Columnist by innocently undermining the effort when you act out of ignorance.

This poster, for example, asks, "Are you a Fifth Columnist? If you spread disease, you are!"

In my view, anyone who teaches members of the Church to disbelieve the prophets and apostles is a Fifth Columnist.

I think this applies to anyone who teaches that the prophets and apostles were wrong about the New York Cumorah. Harold B. Lee himself listed the idea that Cumorah is not in New York among other false teachings he'd heard from CES teachers, as I discussed here.

Many people in the Church don't realize that M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) is a direct repudiation of the prophets. Many members have never been taught about Letter VII and its context and progeny. If they read Elder Talmage's Articles of Faith, maybe they didn't notice what he wrote about the New York Cumorah. They don't take the time to review past teachings from General Conference about the New York Cumorah.

Maybe they rely on the lesson manuals that have omitted key teachings on this point.

Or maybe they rely on what they've been taught in CES or at one of the BYU campuses. Or maybe they simply visited the North Visitors Center on Temple Square.

It's one thing to act in ignorance because you've never been taught what the prophets and apostles have taught about the New York Cumorah. That's how we end up with teachers throughout the Church peddling M2C without understanding that the Mesoamerican setting means the "real Cumorah" is not in New York. These members of the Church don't realize they are teaching their people to disbelieve the prophets and apostles. Most of them believe there is one Cumorah and it is in New York even without reading Letter VII.

But it's something altogether different when you're the one who is suppressing and opposing the teachings of the prophets and apostles.

It doesn't matter what your position is--except that the more trust you are given, the more serious the problem is.

That's why I think it's such a serious matter that our own BYU/CES teachers are spreading the M2C disease to thousands of LDS students every day.

In this context, I'm referring to the New York Cumorah, but there have been some other examples of Fifth Columnists recently that I hope to have time to address soon.

Elder Lee continued:

"There are carefully charted on the maps of the opposition the weak spots in every one of us. They are known to the forces of evil, and just the moment we lower the defense of any one of those ports, that becomes the D Day of our invasion, and our souls are in danger."

D Day took place about 5 years before Elder Lee's sermon, so it was fresh on the minds of his audience. If you're unfamiliar with D-Day, go to this link:

BYU "Fifth Column" map, showing Cumorah
anywhere but western New York
Elder Lee has given us a powerful metaphor here. When do members of the Church lower their defenses?

When they are attending CES/BYU.

The last thing parents and students expect in these settings is a direct assault on the teachings of the prophets and apostles. And, to be sure, most of what BYU/CES teachers present in these classes is true and uplifting.

That's what makes the subtlety of M2C all the worse. The defenses of the students are down when they enter these classrooms. They trust their teachers. Neither they nor their parents would dream that their teachers are about to persuade them to disbelieve the prophets and apostles.

And yet, that's what is happening right now in a CES/BYU classroom near you.


*M2C intellectuals reject anything spoken in General Conference more than 20 years ago if they, the intellectuals, disagree with it, so they won't care what then-Elder Lee had to say. Elder Lee became President of the Church, but M2C intellectuals don't care about that, either, because President Lee didn't restate all his previous talks while he was President of the Church.

The rest of us still believe in the prophets and apostles, of course.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Roots Tech handout

We had a great time at Roots Tech yesterday. (Today we're in Boston). After several conversations it became apparent that a handout would be useful, so I put one together.

Here are my observations from Roots Tech.

Most members of the Church still believe the Hill Cumorah is in New York. Relatively few realize that LDS intellectuals have been teaching a "two-Cumorahs" theory. When they hear about this, they are skeptical.

Then when I show them Letter VII and the other teachings of the prophets that confirm Letter VII, they are even more perplexed by M2C (Mesoamerican/two Cumorahs theory).

Inevitably, they ask why the intellectuals promote M2C. I usually explain that they originally thought they were vindicating what they thought were Joseph Smith's statements in the Times and Seasons. Now that we realize Joseph not only didn't write those anonymous articles, but he had no involvement with them, the intellectuals claim those articles were not the basis for M2C. This revisionist history doesn't work, though; as I've shown, M2C originated specifically because of those anonymous articles.

Now, M2C has a life of its own, thanks to confirmation bias. The M2C intellectuals will continue to insist that the illusory correspondences between Mayan civilization and the M2C interpretation of the Book of Mormon are valid, but they have the fundamental problem that they are repudiating the prophets for no reason except to defend M2C.

Education is the key.

Once members of the Church learn what the prophets have consistently taught, it's an easy choice between the prophets and the intellectuals. The M2C intellectuals argue that the prophets were merely expressing their opinions and that they were wrong, but that's an ineffective argument for most members of the Church.

This is why the M2C citation cartel never publishes articles from those who support the New York Cumorah and the North American setting (Moroni's America and the Heartland). They know that most members of the Church will reject M2C if they are presented with both settings on a side-by-side basis.

As a reminder, the M2C citation cartel includes FairMormon, BYU Studies, BookofMormonCentral, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute, and All of these groups collude to suppress information that contradicts M2C, as do many BYU/CES teachers, including those who teach the Book of Mormon classes at BYU. They all reject the prophets as ignorant speculators who misled Church members about the New York Cumorah for 180 years.

As if that's not bad enough, when members learn about all the evidence that corroborates the prophets, they reject M2C completely.

That's why, in the Internet age when the M2C citation cartel cannot continue to suppress information forever, M2C is destined to disintegrate.

I'll resume the Cumorah series next week, when we will get into the evidence.

For now, here is my handout. Feel free to share it.

Page 1

Roots of Church History – Prophets vs Scholars – the Hill Cumorah and Letter VII

Most members of the Church still believe the Hill Cumorah is in New York, a few miles from Palmyra.

Church leaders have consistently taught this for over 160 years. No member of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve has ever taught Cumorah was anywhere other than New York. New discoveries in Church history validate this teaching.

However, some intellectuals in the Church—including faculty at BYU and CES—promote the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Central America (Mesoamerica). This theory teaches that there are “two Cumorahs.” They admit that Joseph Smith got the plates from the hill in New York (one Cumorah), but they rationalize that New York is too far from Central America (Mesoamerica) to be the scene of the final battles of the Jaredites and the Nephites. They also claim Mormon’s depository (Mormon 6:6) is somewhere in Mexico.

These intellectuals are teaching their students that the prophets and apostles are wrong about the New York Cumorah.

Because these intellectuals have trained thousands of LDS students at BYU and CES, their ideas have permeated the Church. The “two-Cumorahs” theory is on display every time you see a depiction of the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica. This theory has caused confusion among members and investigators. But the teachings of the prophets are clear and consistent.

1. In 1834, with the assistance of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery published a series of eight essays (in the form of letters) about Church history in the Church newspaper titled The Messenger and Advocate, in Kirtland, Ohio. The essays responded to anti-Mormon publications that were disrupting the missionary effort. These were the first “Gospel Topics” essays. A portion of Letter I is included as a footnote in the Pearl of Great Price at the end of Joseph Smith—History.

2. In Letter VII (July 1835) President Cowdery described the Hill Cumorah in New York. He explained that “at about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former” and declares it was a “fact that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.” He emphasized that “in this valley fell the remaining strength and pride of a once powerful people, the Nephites.” “This hill, by the Jaredites, was called Ramah; by it, or around it, pitched the famous army of Coriantumr their tent… The opposing army were to the west, and in this same valley, and near by.” He also explained that Mormon’s depository of Nephite records (Mormon 6:6) was in the same hill.

3. Joseph’s scribes copied the essays into his personal history, which you can read in the Joseph Smith Papers in History, 1834-1836. (go to and search for “Letter VII.”)

4. Letter VII was originally published in the Messenger and Advocate (1835) and copied into Joseph Smith, History, 1834-1835, shortly thereafter. It was republished in the Millennial Star (1840), the Times and Seasons (1841), the Gospel Reflector (1841), a special pamphlet in England (1844), The Prophet (1844), and The Improvement Era. Joseph referred to it in D&C 128:20, which was originally a letter published in the Times and Seasons a year after Letter VII was published in the same newspaper.

5. Over the years, multiple members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, speaking in General Conference, have affirmed the New York Cumorah. Other apostles have affirmed Letter VII, including Elder James E. Talmage in Articles of Faith and LeGrand Richards in A Marvelous Work and a Wonder.

6. Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff and others explained that on multiple occasions, Oliver and Joseph had actually visited Mormon’s depository of records in the Hill Cumorah, which explains why President Cowdery wrote that it was a fact that Cumorah was in New York.

7. When the Mesoamerica/two-Cumorahs theory began to be accepted by LDS intellectuals, Joseph Fielding Smith, then Church Historian and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote that “Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon.” His prophetic warning against the efforts of the intellectuals is even more valid today than it was when he originally published it.

8. Although the consistent, repeated teachings of the prophets and apostles settle this question, there is also evidence from archaeology, anthropology, geology, and geography that supports the New York Cumorah as the scene of the final battles of the Jaredites and the Nephites. There are dozens of archaeological sites in western New York, dating to Book of Mormon times, that contain artifacts from the Ohio Hopewell civilization (the archaeological and anthropological term for the Nephites).

More information is available in these books by Jonathan Neville, MS, JD, and on these web pages.

Moroni’s America
Letter VII: Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery Explain the Hill Cumorah
Whatever Happened to the Golden Plates?
The Lost City of Zarahemla

Page 2:

How LDS intellectuals are teaching the youth to disbelieve the prophets and apostles.
The prophets have consistently taught that the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is in New York.  However, for the last few decades, certain LDS intellectuals have been promoting a theory of Book of Mormon geography that puts the Hill Cumorah somewhere in Southern Mexico. This Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory is being taught at BYU and in CES. These intellectuals are teaching our youth that the prophets and apostles are wrong about the New York Cumorah.

Of course, this opens the door for the intellectuals to teach their students that the prophets are wrong about other topics as well. According to the intellectuals, the prophets are correct only when they agree with the intellectuals.

BYU Studies M2C map
One technique the intellectuals use is teaching Book of Mormon classes with maps that show Cumorah anywhere except in New York. For many years, they taught the Mesoamerican map on the left, which is still being featured and promoted by BYU Studies

This map depicts Cumorah in southern Mexico (directly below the ME in Mesoamerica).

All of these maps have one thing in common: they teach that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah.
BYU fantasy map

BYU intellectuals have recently developed a new approach. They have created an “abstract” map on the left which they claim matches “the approximately 550 geography descriptions in the text as closely as possible.” 

In other words, BYU students are being taught that the Book of Mormon doesn’t fit anywhere in the real world. It fits only in this fantasy land. 

According to these intellectuals at BYU, not only are the prophets wrong about the New York Cumorah, but the entire Book of Mormon couldn’t exist in the real world.

CES map
The CES manual also teaches the Book of Mormon by reference to the fantasy map shown below.

Both the BYU and CES maps put Cumorah at the top in an area that looks nothing like western New York. 

Students are never even taught what the prophets have said about the New York Cumorah.
Parents need to understand the teachings of the prophets to prepare their students for what they will be told by the intellectuals who promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.

In the real world, the words of the prophets are fully corroborated by relevant archaeology, anthropology and other discoveries in North America.