Thursday, February 24, 2011

Book of Mormon Lands

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Book of Mormon Lands
Before examining other criticisms which have been used in an attempt to refute the Book of Mormon, it might be well to comment on the geography involved. It has generally been understood that this land would have been somewhere in the Americas. Although sites in North America are thought most likely, some people hold to a region somewhere in South America. It never has been revealed by an LDS prophet, though, where the Jaredites, Nephites and Lamanites lived. The Book of Mormon, however, does indicate that the lands they inhabited overlapped. Still, doubt leads to much speculation concerning the location. While not essential to the spiritual purpose for which the Book of Mormon was written, it nonetheless generates considerable interest. A number of Latter-day Saint scholars as well as enthusiasts have written about this subject in recent years. Many, if not most, LDS Church members believe that the Book of Mormon lands center someplace around the Hill Cumorah where Joseph Smith was led to the Golden Plates. Nevertheless, a number of LDS scholars maintain that the area was within what is now Mesoamerica. In October of 2009, a conference was held on this topic, with most participants advocating an area within this region.

Since many able LDS scholars have presented numerous reasons why Book of Mormon lands were likely somewhere within Mesoamerica, there is little to be gained by reiterating in this blog what has already been well discussed previously. But with that said, there is more supportive evidence for this location that has not been so thoroughly discussed. The fact that cold weather and snow are never mentioned in the context of where the Jaredites, Nephites and Lamanites lived certainly suggests a warm clime. In 4th Nephi, v. 24, it is stated that the people had, “…all manner of fine pearls.” While pearls do occur in oysters and other clams in many parts of the world, some even in fresh waters, gem (i.e., “fine”) quality pearls are from warm seas. The seas bordering Mesoamerica fit this condition. Animals listed in the Book of Mormon can all be accounted for in this book during the time mentioned. Elephants commented on in the Book of Jared were in North America until the last few thousand years. They are usually referred to as mammoths by paleontologists. Actually the North American mammoth is more closely related to the present Asian or Indian elephant than this animal is to the African elephant!The southern North American mammoth or elephant (not the northerly Woolly mammoth) extended well into Central America. However, it never did range into South America.

There are also geological factors favoring Mesoamerica as the Book of Mormon region. One relates to the statements made that there was an abundance of gold and silver in the land (e.g., Alma 1:29, and especially Helaman 6:9-11). This has been shown to be true in Historic times as much gold and silver has (and is) being obtained from many localities in Mesoamerica. However, gold and silver from New York and other New England states is rare. In Chapter 8 of 3rd Nephi, all the destructive events listed can best be explained by volcanic activity. This includes the terrible tempests, sharp lightnings,  earthquakes, fires, burying of cites, sinking of land, breaking up of rocks and land, and creating of thick darkness. Indeed it is difficult to imagine anything else but strong volcanic activity, coupled with plate tectonic movement, that could produce all the destructive events recorded in 3rd Nephi. Nowhere east of the Rocky Mountains, including the Great Lakes – New York region, has there been volcanic activity for many, many millions of years. However, one of the most volcanically active places on earth today is in Middle America.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating article, Wade, and the South America setting for the Book of Mormon makes perfect sense. Thanks for sharing your insights and careful research!