A Faulty Apologetic for the Book of Mormon

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FAIR provides an “Ask the Apologist” service to which people send questions. In recent months many well-meaning individuals have asked why FAIR has not endorsed DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography, a DVD created and promoted by Rodney Meldrum.

Mr. Meldrum’s DVD is essentially a four-hour video of a shorter “fireside” presentation he has been making around the nation for months. Mr. Meldrum presents himself as a researcher who has carefully and methodically analyzed information related to Native Americans, LDS history, scientific findings, and scripture. Indeed, he touts his video as “correlation and verification [of the Book of Mormon] through DNA, prophetic, scriptural, historical, climatological, archaeological, social, and cultural evidence.”

That’s a tall order, even for a four-hour video. It would appear that Mr. Meldrum has, in approximately three years of research, uncovered the “verification” (read that as “proof”) that has somehow escaped prophets, leaders, scholars, and students for most of the past two centuries. And, he is on a mission to bring that knowledge to the world, starting with the Church.

To those unfamiliar with DNA science, population genetics, and the historical facts, the information presented in the DVD (and Mr. Meldrum’s presentations) may appear plausible and welcome. FAIR volunteers recently examined the DVD, attended presentations, exchanged e-mails with Mr. Meldrum, and talked with him. After reviewing the material he presents, examining the existing LDS and scientific literature, and consulting experts in the relevant fields, FAIR cannot support or endorse Mr. Meldrum’s theories or presentation. FAIR has unreservedly concluded the following:

  • Mr. Meldrum has attempted to assert revelation for those outside of his stewardship, and has used that revelation as a substitute for solid scholarship.
  • The DVD contains much material that is misrepresented because the author is unfamiliar with the large body of work that addresses the very topics he seeks to address.
  • The DVD plants erroneous concepts and expectations in the minds of viewers, making them easier targets for hostile critics when these errors are inevitably trumpeted by enemies of the Church.

These conclusions are addressed in the paper entitled Misguided Zeal and Defense of the Church, which is available here.

Church members, when considering Mr. Meldrum’s DVD and presentation, would do well to remember the counsel of President Harold B. Lee:

“Now this is something that needs repeating to this great body of priesthood, because we have a rash of writings by certain persons who claim to be in good standing in the Church, going into considerable detail as they recite their past and present Church affiliations and activities in the forward and advertising. There are sensational predictions and observations, and to make their writings appear to have Church sanction, they use quotations and addresses from Church leaders, past and present, taken out of context in such a way as to make it appear as though these quotations were an endorsement of the book they wish to sell to Church members, who may thereby be induced to accept their writings as from unquestioned sources …. Furthermore, some designing individuals have solicited opportunities to speak at Church gatherings, firesides, priesthood quorums, sacrament meetings. Now, brethren, we feel it is of the utmost importance to lift a warning voice so that our people will be safeguarded against such tactics as an all too obvious self-seeking opportunity to spread their own propaganda for their own interests. We must urge that priesthood leaders use careful discretion in screening out those whose motives may be subject to serious questions.” (Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, April, 1973, 127-28).

Mr. Meldrum appears sincere in his beliefs about the Book of Mormon. FAIR is worried, however, by the means Mr. Meldrum uses to promote his beliefs and the damage that his presentation and promotion could ultimately do to the faith of Church members. We have therefore concluded that Mr. Meldrum’s theories should be publicly addressed. These overview papers are just the first treatment of the DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography DVD.

-Allen

64 thoughts on “A Faulty Apologetic for the Book of Mormon

  1. Edmun

    Very interesting. I’m curious, how does peer review work if you are just an amateur? Is it still possible to have papers reviewed? I have always been under the impression that you need some credentials for people to take your research seriously, but after reading the article I’m not sure.

  2. Larry Poulsen

    Edmun

    Having participated in the peer review process for the past 40 years as a reviewer,a reviewee and one involved in choosing potential reviewers, I would like to point out that “peer review” is nothing more nor less than haveing your work reviewed by your peers. In other words by those who may and should be familiar with the topic, literature and scholarly work in the same field as your publication. Amateurs sometines make the best reviewers because they often have a broader knowledge of the subject and points of view different from the establishment. Credentials are important in some cases but knowledge of the field is the prime criteria for choosing a reviewer.

    Larry P

  3. austin s

    Thanks, I’m glad to see a stand for scholarship in your well-reasoned response to what you correctly label misguided zeal. I’m afraid there are too many people who want to believe things like Meldrum are preaching. Let’s hope that as members of the church we can promote honest, faithful, and solid apologetics.

  4. Robert

    Allen,

    I came across your article with a Google news alert for anything MELDRUM “BOOK OF MORMON”.

    Rather than announcing your judgments and justifications, you could be encouraging people to seek verification on their own through additional study and finally, prayer.

    Teach them HOW to think, not WHAT to think. That would be a valuable service.

  5. Greg Smith

    Teach them HOW to think, not WHAT to think. That would be a valuable service.

    Strange that more information would be an impairment to thought. Perhaps you missed part 2, that discussed how real research into such matters is conducted.

    It seems unlikely that God would confirm a revelatory geography when the Church has insisted that there isn’t a revelatory geography. As Part I demonstrates, anyone with such a revelation wouldn’t be justified in presenting it to anyone else, even if true.

  6. Greg Smith

    I’m curious, how does peer review work if you are just an amateur? Is it still possible to have papers reviewed? I have always been under the impression that you need some credentials for people to take your research seriously, but after reading the article I’m not sure.

    You just need people who know something about your topic to agree that you’ve considered all the angles. They need not agree with you, just that you’ve been fair and thorough.

    This can be done for LDS topics easily on a message board, like MADB. Meldrum even ventured there, and got a lot of really good advice and feedback. But, he chose not to respond to it, and it doesn’t seem to have impacted his presentation any.

    See DNA Truthseeker here. People like Brant Gardner provided a lot of substantive replies on a host of issues. Cost? $0. His response to being told the Michigan relics are forgeries is particularly illuminating. It is also curious that he feels a need to praise his own work in the third person.

    But, if you’ve quit your job because you think God has given you a sign to do this full time, you may have already made your decision.

  7. Robert

    Greg wrote: “there isn’t a revelatory geography”

    1. Right, so central America AND N.E. America stand as equal and worthy possibilities.

    2. I never heard him claim any revelation.

  8. Robert

    Guess I’m talking with Greg here… Allen, are you home?

    1. why would FAIR care to “endorse” anything? Are there people who would accept or reject your blessing without reading and deciding for themselves?

    2. “To those unfamiliar with DNA science, population genetics, and the historical facts” now THERE’s a tall order. Are you then speaking as one who is qualified in all these?

    3. “experts in the relevant fields” May I have your links and sources?

    4. [Rod] plants erroneous concepts and expectations in the minds of viewers, (that’s new? Ever visit a Gospel doctrine class? LOL) making them easier targets for hostile critics (OMG! you have become the enabler of dependency)

    ok I’m done with this forum. I read thru the executive summary paper and halted at the misuse of quotes in footnote 11 in which Rod says much has been spent on central American theory. This quote doesn’t say he charged leaders with misuse of church funds.

    BTW(“general consensus” is redundant. Consensus IS general agreement.)

  9. Greg Smith

    I don’t speak for FAIR, but I can speak as a member and give my perspective on how I would see these things.

    1. why would FAIR care to “endorse” anything? Are there people who would accept or reject your blessing without reading and deciding for themselves?

    FAIR produces a number of resources and materials, with links to other sources. For example, the FAIR wiki. We received many questions from people asking why we weren’t using Meldrum’s “great research.” So, we checked it out. It turned out to be really bad research.

    2. “To those unfamiliar with DNA science, population genetics, and the historical facts” now THERE’s a tall order. Are you then speaking as one who is qualified in all these?

    I can’t speak for Allen, but I am in _some_ areas. I have university training in genetics. I’ve read every paper than Meldrum cites in his DVD. And, FAIR does have access to a wide range of experts. We’ve had LDS PhD geneticists review our work on that topic, for instance. That’s the benefit of FAIR–one can draw on the expertise of many people. It’s not reasonable to expect any person, especially someone who’s just gone to a fireside out of interest, to master all this information. But, one can provide a service by amalgamating all the expertise in an easy-to-access package.

    Don’t worry, it’s not that hard to learn enough to debunk the bad science. It isn’t cutting edge stuff.

    3. “experts in the relevant fields” May I have your links and sources?

    You may when the rest of the material comes out. That’s what footnotes are for.

    4. [Rod] plants erroneous concepts and expectations in the minds of viewers, (that’s new? Ever visit a Gospel doctrine class? LOL) making them easier targets for hostile critics (OMG! you have become the enabler of dependency)

    Nope, it’s not new. But, when people seek for signs, twist the words of the prophets, claim that there is a revealed answer to a question that the Church has always said wasn’t revealed, and THEN distort science, those who value the truth may have a duty to speak out.

    I’m surprised this troubles you. If Meldrum has a right to express his views and opinions (which he certainly does), why don’t others have an equal right and privilege?

    Surely people can look at Meldrum’s arguments, compare them to FAIR’s, and decide which to believe. We can’t compel belief, but we can provide extra information.

    If he’s right, it will stand on its own merits.

    FAIR certainly doesn’t gain anything by doing this, other than fulfill its efforts on behalf of other members as best it can. It’s not like we will win friends and accolades all around for dismissing something that some people think supports the Book of Mormon.

    ok I’m done with this forum. I read thru the executive summary paper and halted at the misuse of quotes in footnote 11 in which Rod says much has been spent on central American theory. This quote doesn’t say he charged leaders with misuse of church funds.

    A pity you’re going to leave before you get answers to your questions.

    For anyone else still reading, follow the logic with me:

    Fact #1) Rod claims millions of dollars have been wasted looking for BoM lands in central America.

    Fact #2) The Church has spent a great deal of time, money, and energy supporting things like BYU work, FARMS, and the New World Archaeology society in Chiapas, Mexico. Do you suppose the Church does work in Mexico simply because they like the climate? Was the establishment of the New World group utterly unrelated to issues of Book of Mormon geography? [If you think so, references please.]

    If money spent looking in Central America is wasted, then the Church has wasted money at BYU, FARMS, and the New World. And, if anyone should have known about the revealed answers which Meldrum claims Joseph gave to Book of Mormon geography, it should have been the prophets, seers, and revelators. So, why didn’t they?

    Or, is it only PRIVATE money that’s been wasted, but Church money well spent on a fool’s errand? One can’t have one’s cake and eat it too. Either the money is being wasted or it isn’t. Who has spent more money than the Church in that effort?

    If I make two claims:

    1) Anyone born in Virginia is an idiot
    2) John Doe was born in Virginia

    Would one seriously argue that I haven’t said anything bad about John? I might not _realize_ that I had thereby impugned John’s intelligence (because I don’t know he’s from Virginia), and when that fact is brought to my attention, I might well withdraw my ill-advised remark about Virginia.

    Likewise, Meldrum might reassess and decide that “wasted” is the wrong expression. I’d be pleased to see him correct himself.

    But, I can’t claim that the two statements don’t cause any reasonable listener to draw the obvious, inevitable conclusion. 1 & 2 lead inevitably to the conclusion that I think John is an idiot. This is basic logic.

  10. Greg Smith

    Greg wrote: “there isn’t a revelatory geography”

    1. Right, so central America AND N.E. America stand as equal and worthy possibilities.

    Yup. FAIR has no position on such matters. We may have a position, though, on whether a given argument is a good one.

    2. I never heard him claim any revelation.

    I suggest you read the intro doc again. The DVD’s section #3, on Joseph Smith, is also a gold mine.

  11. Rod Meldrum

    Hello, this is Rod Meldrum. I have prepared a 16 page statement and will addressing this review/article for its..
    1. Blatant and inflammatory Lies — such as the FAIR false claim that I said in my DVD that the church leadership was ‘wasting’ money, which never occurred. FAIR has continuously attempted to put words into my mouth that are blatently not there to deliberately misrepresent my statements.
    2. Conjecture — such as Midgley’s assessment of my knowledge of the subjects based on a harassing phone call over a year ago which is utter conjecture and here-say non-sense on his and FAIR’s part.
    3. Innuendo (such as the false claims that I “avoid scholarly dialogue by claiming that [my] ideas are approved by God” which aside from being patently untrue, are based on where they think others (or themselves) might be lead if they follow their path of reasoning to its utmost conclusions. It is pure and total conjecture on their part, for I have said no such thing.
    Unlike FAIR, I am submitting my response in private to them for their review prior to my determining if it will be posted. FAIR has agreed to post my response along side their review so as to be FAIR. We will all see if they are good to their word or not.
    Fair board members Scott Gordan, John Lynch, Bob White, and Greg Smith (and possibly Allen Wyatt) and I had a phone conversation on Tuesday, July 1st from 7-8:30 AM from which I initiated a dialoge with them to address any issues they might have with my research. We determined to work together to correct any flaws that they saw were needed. This was what was understood from the conversation. Then less than 48 hours later this scathing review (which must have been already prepared in advance of our conversation) appeared on their website, completely blind-siding me and our agreement to work together because they wanted to ‘help a brother’ in the gospel. Lies, conjecture and innuendo are not generally accepted as the way to help someone. More to come… much, much more to come. Stay tuned. This review was to egregious to overlook, it must be addressed.

    The Gold mine in Joseph Smith’s section #3 is Joseph’s Smith’s own claims to revelation on the matter in the Wentworth letter, the American Revivalist Account, the Zelph Account and his letter to his wife. I think Greg Smith is confusing Joseph’s quotes with what I say, along with throwing in a massive amount of conjecture, as I have never claimed to have received revelation on this matter as he claims more than 16 times in the un-named authors ‘extensive’ review that I have. This incredibly ill-produced and un-scholarly review may be removed once the board of FAIR has had the chance to review my response. Then again, they may choose to post my written response for a ‘FAIR and balanced’ review for their readership. I am fine with it either way. It will be their choice. I have nothing to hide, the DVD is out there for anyone to see and determine for themselves if it is right.

    Most of FAIR’s assessment derives from an UNAUTHORIZED personal email sent to specific individuals who were being invited to participate in a meeting to discuss the new FIRM foundation. Someone of that group betrayed that trust and sent an unauthorized copy to FAIR. The board at FAIR knows that this was a personal and confidential email as I personally told the board members this during our phone conversation, yet they have chosen to publicly distribute portions of it on their website out of context and without an opportunity for explanation on my part. There is nothing that I am ashamed of having said, but there were very personal experiences that I was sharing with supporters that were not meant to be public knowledge. Yet, contrary to good intention, decency and decorum, they published it anyway with complete and utter disregard to my wishes and request. In my response I include the entirety of the email so that the readership of FAIR can see the entire document in context and with further explanation to clarify the intent. Again, there is nothing to hide, it was just very personal, spiritual things that now FAIR has determined to flaunt to the public in their vicious attack.

    Be it known that any use of my personal, private email by FAIR is being done without my concent or authorization. I have requested that they hereby cease and desist in their continued use of that document voluntarily. We will see if they will honor that request, which would, of necessity, remove 90% of their attack article as thus far that has been the thrust of their personal character assasination against me.

  12. Allen Wyatt Post author

    Rod said: I have prepared a 16 page statement and will addressing this review/article for its..

    I look forward to seeing the statement as, I’m sure, does the rest of FAIR.

    Rod said: 1. Blatant and inflammatory Lies — such as the FAIR false claim that I said in my DVD that the church leadership was ‘wasting’ money, which never occurred.

    This is not a false claim. Here’s what you say in the conclusion to your video: “Now there’s been millions and millions of dollars have been spent in a vain attempt to show the Book of Mormon happened in Central America.”

    Those are your words, Rod, made at approximately 4:20 seconds into the conclusion of your video. (I’ve also personally heard you say it in one of your firesides.) Who has been spending that money? The Church, or the Church’s agents, such as BYU and FARMS (the “Mesoamerican scholars” you dismiss at the beginning of your video).

    If spending the millions of dollars is “vain,” isn’t that a waste? In your statement the words are synonymous. Are you going to refine your statement and now say that spending the money was not vain, that it was not a waste?

    Rod said: FAIR has continuously attempted to put words into my mouth that are blatently not there to deliberately misrepresent my statements.

    No, actually we’ve been very careful to quote your specific words. You might not like that your own words are being used, but those words are the basis of anything that FAIR has done.

    Rod said: 2. Conjecture — such as Midgley’s assessment of my knowledge of the subjects based on a harassing phone call over a year ago which is utter conjecture and here-say non-sense on his and FAIR’s part.

    Does the word “harassing” count as the same type of conjecture to which you are opposed?

    While you may not care for Dr. Midgley’s conclusions about your knowledge concerning the extant scholarship, I can assure you that FAIR accurately reflected his conclusions. If you have a problem with them, you may need to take that up with Dr. Midgley.

    Rod said: 3. Innuendo (such as the false claims that I “avoid scholarly dialogue by claiming that [my] ideas are approved by God” which aside from being patently untrue, are based on where they think others (or themselves) might be lead if they follow their path of reasoning to its utmost conclusions. It is pure and total conjecture on their part, for I have said no such thing.

    Is this particular point #3 about innuendo or conjecture? If the latter, then it really is no different than point #2.

    Rod said: Unlike FAIR, I am submitting my response in private to them for their review prior to my determining if it will be posted. FAIR has agreed to post my response along side their review so as to be FAIR. We will all see if they are good to their word or not.

    I’ll have to check with John Lynch (chairman of the Board) and Scott Gordon (President), but this doesn’t strike me as something we’ve done in the past. What we HAVE done is to provide links to responses, at the end of our papers. In other words, if someone gets done reading our overview, then we may provide a link to a response on YOUR site, where you have complete control over the quality and presentation of the response.

    Rod said: Fair board members Scott Gordan, John Lynch, Bob White, and Greg Smith (and possibly Allen Wyatt) and I had a phone conversation on Tuesday, July 1st from 7-8:30 AM from which I initiated a dialoge with them to address any issues they might have with my research.

    I was not in on the conversation. The only Board member that was in on the conversation was John Lynch, who is chairman of the Board of Directors. Scott Gordon is not a Board member, he is an officer (President). Both Bob White and Greg Smith are regular members of the organization.

    Rod said: We determined to work together to correct any flaws that they saw were needed. This was what was understood from the conversation. Then less than 48 hours later this scathing review (which must have been already prepared in advance of our conversation) appeared on their website, completely blind-siding me and our agreement to work together because they wanted to ‘help a brother’ in the gospel.

    Since I wasn’t in on the conversation, I will leave it to those who were to comment.

    Rod said: Lies, conjecture and innuendo are not generally accepted as the way to help someone.

    Lies? Do you really mean “lies?” You know that a lie includes intent, right? Are you prepared to show intent? If not, then you may want to use a word that actually removes intent, such as “mistake” or “falsehood.” (Just a suggestion.)

    Rod said: More to come… much, much more to come. Stay tuned. This review was to egregious to overlook, it must be addressed.

    And, you are welcome to do so. Welcome to the world of academic review, Rod. Sometimes it is not a pleasant place when others–even others who are brothers and sisters in the gospel–take strong exception to what we have published and what we are promoting.

    Rod said: The Gold mine in Joseph Smith’s section #3 is Joseph’s Smith’s own claims to revelation on the matter in the Wentworth letter, the American Revivalist Account, the Zelph Account and his letter to his wife. I think Greg Smith is confusing Joseph’s quotes with what I say, along with throwing in a massive amount of conjecture,

    Greg can speak to whether he is confused or not, but I doubt that he is. And, you may want to go back and look at Joseph’s words again, but the items you cite (the Wentworth letter, an account in the American Revivalist, the Zelph account, and a letter to Emma) were not revelations.

    I find it interesting that these four items have been known about and discussed for decades, and yet the leadership of the Church does not draw the same conclusions from them that you do. Why is that? If the evidence you cite is so compelling, if the statements by Joseph Smith are so crystal clear, then why hasn’t the Church come out and stated that the Book of Mormon geography took place where you said it did?

    Rod said: …as I have never claimed to have received revelation on this matter as he claims more than 16 times in the un-named authors ‘extensive’ review that I have.

    FAIR’s paper is documented with YOUR words, Rod. We’ll let the readers decide.

    Rod said: This incredibly ill-produced and un-scholarly review may be removed once the board of FAIR has had the chance to review my response. Then again, they may choose to post my written response for a ‘FAIR and balanced’ review for their readership. I am fine with it either way. It will be their choice. I have nothing to hide, the DVD is out there for anyone to see and determine for themselves if it is right.

    We shall see.

    Rod said: Most of FAIR’s assessment derives from an UNAUTHORIZED personal email sent to specific individuals who were being invited to participate in a meeting to discuss the new FIRM foundation. Someone of that group betrayed that trust and sent an unauthorized copy to FAIR. The board at FAIR knows that this was a personal and confidential email as I personally told the board members this during our phone conversation, yet they have chosen to publicly distribute portions of it on their website out of context and without an opportunity for explanation on my part. There is nothing that I am ashamed of having said, but there were very personal experiences that I was sharing with supporters that were not meant to be public knowledge. Yet, contrary to good intention, decency and decorum, they published it anyway with complete and utter disregard to my wishes and request.

    Interesting that you can use a private letter from Joseph Smith to Emma to bolster your case, but you don’t want a letter to your supporters to be used to evaluate your case. You complain that your words in your letter are being used out of context to support a position with which you disagree, yet you use Joseph’s words to Emma–out of context–to support a position on which he took no official stand.

    Fascinating double standard at work here.

    Rod said: In my response I include the entirety of the email so that the readership of FAIR can see the entire document in context and with further explanation to clarify the intent. Again, there is nothing to hide, it was just very personal, spiritual things that now FAIR has determined to flaunt to the public in their vicious attack.

    I can assure you that this was not an attack, nor was it vicious.

    As to whether your e-mail was public or not, once you send it, it essentially becomes public. It doesn’t matter whether you send it to a small group of supporters or to the public at large–it is still in the open and can be evaluated.

    The fact is, you sent an e-mail to a group of people (we have no idea how large the group was) who you wanted to meet with you and “discuss the new FIRM foundation.” You recounted in that e-mail spiritual experiences relative to the work you are doing. Toward what end, Rod? If it wasn’t to (1) show how God was providing His blessings to your work or (2) to invite the recipient to join with you in doing a work that God was sanctioning, then what was it? I doubt it was just filler, and I hope you will provide clarification as to why you would use personal spiritual experiences in an e-mail designed to try to get others to join you in your efforts.

    Rod said: Be it known that any use of my personal, private email by FAIR is being done without my concent or authorization.

    Sort of like your use of Joseph’s personal, private mail to Emma? When does such correspondence (his or yours) become “fair game” for those staking out an academic position?

    Rod said: I have requested that they hereby cease and desist in their continued use of that document voluntarily. We will see if they will honor that request, which would, of necessity, remove 90% of their attack article as thus far that has been the thrust of their personal character assasination against me.

    There has been no “character assassination,” Rod. We have questioned (so far) the way in which you are presenting your information. That does not speak to your character, in the least.

    -Allen

  13. Greg Smith

    Rod said: The Gold mine in Joseph Smith’s section #3 is Joseph’s Smith’s own claims to revelation on the matter in the Wentworth letter, the American Revivalist Account, the Zelph Account and his letter to his wife. I think Greg Smith is confusing Joseph’s quotes with what I say, along with throwing in a massive amount of conjecture

    I don’t think so. You don’t even manage to get all of Joseph’s remarks from the Times and Seasons, which doesn’t speak well of either (a) the throughness of your research; or (b) your integrity if you knew about it and didn’t include it.

    There are more sources that these “4 documents” you keep mentioning.

    We determined to work together to correct any flaws that they saw were needed. This was what was understood from the conversation. Then less than 48 hours later this scathing review (which must have been already prepared in advance of our conversation) appeared on their website, completely blind-siding me and our agreement to work together because they wanted to ‘help a brother’ in the gospel.

    I was on the conversation, and this certainly was not the impression that I got. We pointed out many areas that needed improvement, but you did not evince any inclination to fix that vast majority of them. You didn’t even seem to think that you’d done anything wrong with your approach.

    I left before the very end of the conversation, so perhaps Scott, Bob, and John took it all back, but I doubt it. 🙂

    If I were you, I’d start with the distorted quoted from President Hinckley. It is clear from context is was not talking about members, but non-members. Using it to condemn LDS scholars who disagree with you is reprehensible, both intellectually and spiritually.

    It is so overt, I have increasing difficulty believing it was unintentional. Your refusal to correct it only strengthens that impression.

  14. Greg Smith

    There is nothing that I am ashamed of having said, but there were very personal experiences that I was sharing with supporters that were not meant to be public knowledge. Yet, contrary to good intention, decency and decorum, they published it anyway with complete and utter disregard to my wishes and request.

    You’re not ashamed of asking God for a sign, and then telling others about that sign to encourage their support?

    You’re not ashamed of using a private blessing to encourage others to think that your work is supported by God and His servants?

    Astonishing.

    If you didn’t want things to be public knowledge, why did you send them to multiple people and ask them to come to a meeting to support your foundation, which God had inspired you to choose the name?

    Things that are private don’t get sent out in e-mails to multiple parties, or play part of invitations to meetings, Rod.

    And, false claims to revelatory support don’t really matter if they’re made to a few people, or many. You can think what you want, but once you start telling others–even a few others–you crossed a line.

    If you really want to claim the quotes are out of context, we could post the entire thing, if you wish.

    Why do you want your “supporters” to know these things, but don’t want your audience to know? If you have nothing to be ashamed of, why does it matter if they know?

  15. Juliann

    Mr. Meldrum, all theories are welcome in the ongoing dialogue. But those theories must stand on their merits. I read the testimonials on your own website and they confirm the problem with your approach. This one is particularly revealing because it is based on a personal conversation with you.

    03.17.08 “Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to my husband and I. How exciting to be able to talk to the very person who is behind such a great work. I felt so blessed when I hung up the phone and so thankful that the Lord has guided you through this sacred project.”

    I see two things that seem to result from your approach. Your supporters criticize BYU scholars (and by implication the church that supports them)and many have a belief that you are the bearer of “truth”. If it is not stated directly, as in the above recitation of a conversation with you, it is certainly implied that truth is by divine support which has eluded others who are trained and credentialed in what they do and work in church supported institutions.

    It is time to step out on a level playing field and drop the claims to divine intervention. Let your theories speak for themselves. No one can object to that and no one will and most important, no one will be shaken when an academic theory is shown to be flawed.

  16. Peter Siebach

    I’ve been following the criticism of Mr. Meldrum’s work (not OF Mr. Meldrum himself BTW) with some interest.

    You know how C.S. Lewis is often considered a “closet Mormon” because of the many ways his books and essays reflect beliefs more similar to those of Latter-day Saints than Protestants? I’m convinced that perhaps all sincere theologians of other Christian denominations are to some degree closet Mormons.

    Today I’ve decided that evangelical scholar William Lane Craig may be a closet Mormon. To some extent anyway. He considers himself a “classic apologist” — one who develops and uses evidence to support the existence of God and the veracity of the scriptures/resurrection. Curiously, however, he is of the opinion that the direct witness of the Holy Ghost plays a magisterial role in establishing for each individual the veracity of certain fundamental truth claims, e.g., the existence God, His love for us, scripture, etc. This horrifies most other Protestant apologists, who give “evidence” and “reason” the magisterial role and relegate the witness of the Holy Ghost to a superfluous, ministerial role.

    (Oddly, Craig quickly dismisses the claims made by Latter-day Saints to “veridical” knowledge through the witness of the Holy Ghost, but that is another subject.)

    Anyway, Craig attempts to define himself out of a jam with his fellow evangelicals by making a subtle, but important distinction. It is a distinction that Mr. Meldrum would be well served to take note of. The distinction is between “knowing” and “showing” — knowing truth for one’s self, and being able to show it to others. He says we can only know truth through the Holy Ghost, which is “self-authenticating” and which trumps reason and evidence, but that in showing faith we are constrained to rely on that same reason and evidence.

    In short, he is asserting that the witness of the Holy Ghost is fundamental and non-transferable. Physical evidence may influence a person to seek the witness of the Holy Ghost, but it can not be a substitute for it.

    The issue which I believe FAIR correctly flags in its essays on Mr. Meldrum’s apologetic approach is that Mr. Meldrum apparently conflates his right to presume to know for himself ONLY and showing, and in so doing advances his claimed spiritual witness as the “defeater” of all academic arguments. Well, at least he strongly implies that Latter-day Saints need to embrace His witness — he gives his witness as much play as any evidence he may have assembled. In doing so, he is out of order.

    Despite employing Craig’s argument, I’m pretty sure it’s NOT in the Holy Ghost’s position description to witness correct Book of Mormon geography to us. I introduced Craig’s distinction primarily to introduce an important point Mr. Meldrum apparently misses. Like William Lane Craig advances, through the Holy Ghost we can know FUNDAMENTAL truths. To Craig’s list 😉 above I would add 1) knowing that the Book of Mormon is also the word of God, and 2) knowing that Joseph Smith and his successors are true a prophets of God. We’re constrained to use more traditional methods to both know AND show other, less fundamental truths. In expanding the Holy Ghost’s duties into purely academic arenas, Mr. Meldum is once again out of order.

    I wish him success in advancing the theory that Book of Mormon events occurred in the vicinity of the Great Lakes. Some responsible scholars do accept that model and argue it vigorously. I encourage Mr. Meldrum to become acquainted with their reason and evidence, as well as with the reason and evidence for other models.

    With his zeal and energy properly focussed, I’m not so sure that if he were to join the ongoing dialog and drop the Lone Ranger approach, within five or ten years rank and file Latter-day Saint apologists won’t be more inclined to the model he is advancing. And that is intended to be both encouraging and complimentary.

  17. Pingback: Mormon Coffee » FAIR gets dirty and personally attacks fellow Mormon apologist

  18. Louis Midgley

    For the first time just this morning I have glanced at the criticisms of Mr. Rod Meldrum’s speculation about Book of Mormon geography on this blog and also at his effort to defect this criticism. I noticed that he has drawn me into his diatribe with the following remark: “Conjecture — such as Midgley’s assessment of my knowledge of the subjects based on a harassing phone call over a year ago which is utter conjecture and here-say [sic] non-sense on his and FAIR’s part.”

    Those who know me are aware that I take notes on conversations. This I did when I phoned Mr. Meldrum nearly a year ago. Our conversation was long, detailed and entirely civil. I sought some information about his (1) academic qualifications, (2) his familiarity with the scholarly literature on the matters about which he opines, (3) his current and previous employment and so forth.

    The notes I made during and after our phone conversation are as follows:

    The Midgley/Meldrum encounter

    17 May 2008 – modified [on that date] in email message to Greg Smith, and taken from notes carefully taken during a phone conversation with Mr. Rod Meldrum. On 6 July 2008, I inserted some clarifications in brackets.]

    [The following is a brief description of how I came to have had a phone conversation with Rod Meldrum.] I discovered that there was a Rod Meldrum by chance. On 26 August 2007, at our Stake Priesthood meeting, I got there early and sat close to the front. I noticed Harman Rector sitting in the second row to my right and slightly in front of where I was sitting. I thought it odd that he was there in our Priesthood meeting. But at the end of the meeting a fellow showed up and I told him that he was either very early or really late for some meeting. His alarm clock had failed and he had not made it on time. He wanted to meet Elder Rector. Why? Well he was involved with Rod Meldrum on a Book of Mormon project. I was shown a 2 DVD disk set, available for $19.95 and entitled “DNA Evidence for the Book of Mormon.”

    I soon learned that Rodney Meldrum operated out of two addresses in Provo:

    [redacted by blog administrator]
    His number at his employment was [redacted] and his email address was [redacted].

    Within a week I phoned Meldrum and we talked for more than an hour, perhaps for more than two hours.

    [In this phone conversation] he told me that he was Senior Scientific Research Manager at some medical equipment company. [He explained that he demonstrated medical equipment–that was what he called “science.”] I did not get the name of this company. [I had asked at which university or laboratory Mr. Meldrum does science. He told me that he was not involved with either a university or lab.] I asked him what training he had in science. He told he that he had none. He had attended Utah State University as a kid. He had hoped to get a degree in Business Administration (Marketing). But only attended Utah State for a year.

    He had worked in sales. Then he founded company that produced freeze dried food that was sold widely just before the year 2000. He had made a lot of money, and had a huge factory. Then when the bug did not being the nation down, his sales ceased and he lost everything in a fire sale.

    But now, after reading in the [news]papers about the claim that DNA disproves the Book of Mormon, he has the theory that he can prove the Book of Mormon true with DNA. He has in mind a marker [X] that seems to be European, which is also found in the Levant [aka eastern Mediterranian]. This DNA [marker] is also found in America right where the Lehi colony, including both the Nephites and Lamanites lived.

    He claims that the people at the Sorensen Institute, including Scott Woodward, are in full agreement with him on his new DNA proof of the Book of Mormon.

    When I asked him if he was familiar with the work done by the Maxwell Institute, he had no idea what that was. So I made reference to FARMS. Well, he said he had read some of that literature. He could recall having read a book by John Sorenson, but could not recall its name. I asked if he had heard about John Clark or Brant Gardner [and others]. He had not heard of them. I asked him if he was familiar with the LDS DNA experts who have published in the FARMS Review. He had not. He was not familiar with the FARMS Review.

    I asked him why he had not bothered to become familiar with the best current scholarship on the very issues he was now addressing. He told me that he wanted to give the evidence a fresh look and not be corrupted by previous speculation.

    I asked him if he had tried to construct an internal map of Book of Mormon geography from the host of clues in the book itself. He had no idea what I was talking about. So I explained what John Clark had done 19 years earlier [in the first issue of what is now called the FARMS Review]. He said that he had fashioned his Book of Mormon geography from the statements of Joseph Smith and the prophets. And then fit the DNA evidence to what had been revealed to prophets. And Elder Rector had given his work his blessing.

    Meldrum explained that he was working with Wayne May and Ancient American Magazine. May, he said, had access to wonderful artifacts that are clearly the work of the Lehi colony. Exactly like May, Meldrum places the entire history of the Lehi colony that is recorded in the Book of Mormon in Western New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Missouri. He had then come around Africa from Arabia and up though the South Atlantic and land perhaps in Florida and then migrate immediately north.

    I suggested that the genetic marker he thought was clearly one that identified Israel, was also found in Southern France and had arrived in the New World far too early to be Nephite. He was certain that I was not at all informed on DNA issues.

    Meldrum told me that the DVD set he currently had was of poor quality and that I should wait a few weeks before ordering a new and improved set.

    [Note: I neglected to purchase the new and improved set of Rod Meldrum’s DVD set. However, others have subsequently done so, and have subjected it to careful review.]

  19. tiredmormon

    I prayed about which theory is correct, and the spirit told me you are all religious fanatics that must be avoided.

    Besides, I know EXACTLY where the BoM events occurred … in Joseph’s mind.

  20. Spektator

    Having tracked the debate on Book of Mormon geography over the years, I find that Meldrum’s efforts on a Great Lakes theory score about as many points as FAIR’s efforts to support the central American theory du jour. Why don’t you sit down and cover these items point by point? You know, like Christian people.

    If you really want to debate the DNA issue, tell me what definitive study has been done relative to pre-Columbian DNA.

    If you want to help me understand, please tell me where in central America is a narrow neck of land that can be crossed in a day and a half

    Where are the north, south, east and west seas and what is the great deep?

    Where are the cement structures?

    What is going on with the literally tons of arrow points and clubs that have been dug up in farms in Michigan over that last 150 years?

    I find this “hissy fit” that FAIR and Meldrum are engaged in as immature and destructive. Neither of you come up clean when you throw mud. Sit down and analyze these points of theory and show us that you are truly brethren united by a restored gospel and I will turn my hearing aid back on.

  21. Greg Smith

    FAIR endorses no theory of Book of Mormon geography. Individual members have their own views. I know of some who are agnostic, some Mesoamerican, some Great Lakes, and I think even some hemispheric…

    We did nothing at all about Meldrum’s model until we learned of his use of priesthood blessings to supporters, claims that Joseph knew the geography by revelation when the Church says he didn’t, and miscitations of President Hinckley to condemn others. We knew some people wouldn’t be pleased that we said anything. I, for one, feel that I would not be true to my covenants and faith if I didn’t say something. If FAIR had not wanted to, I would have done so on my own.

    I work as the wiki managing editor; I think you’ll find that all our geographic material attempts to cast as wide a net as possible. Unfortunately for other models, thus far the Mesoamericanists have produced far more data than the others. But, we still aim to cover as many bases as we can for interested readers. You can see every theory we know about listed here (I can’t swear it’s totally up to date):

    http://en.fairmormon.org/Template:BoMGeoTableList

    But, what should a Christian do if he has good evidence the Prophet’s words are being twisted? Meldrum was unable to even admit there was a problem when I and others spoke to him privately on multiple occasions.

    Sometimes, being silent is not the Christian thing to do.

  22. Rod Meldrum

    This is Rod Meldrum, of whom FAIR has posted their opinion of my research contained in a recorded live presentation DVD titled “DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography; New scientific support for the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon” .
    From the FAIR website (quoted below) we gain a proper perspective of the significance of the FAIR review of my research.
    “FAIR is not owned, controlled by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All research and opinions provided on this site are the sole responsibility of FAIR, and should not be interpreted as official statements of LDS doctrine, belief or practice.”

    As such, their collective opinions are no more, nor less, valid than any regular member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All members of the church are given the power of discernment through the gift of the Holy Ghost at baptism. It is encouraged that members use this God-given power to determine for themselves whether something is true or in error. Members need not assume that all truth must be first filtered through scholars before being able to find and know it for themselves.

    “5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Book of Mormon | Moroni 10:5)

    Members of FAIR have taken the research I have presented and the words I have spoken, and through what I believe to be conjecture and innuendo have misinterpreted and misrepresented them to imply things that I did not say nor intend.

    I will not be drawn into further contentious argument and debate on the matter. This is contrary to the spirit of Christ.

    “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.” (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 11:29)

    To be clear exactly where I stand, I make the following statements.

    I have not, and do not claim to receive revelation for the church or any of its leaders or members.

    I support and sustain current and past prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as Prophets, seers and Revelators.

    I do not represent the church in any way in this research, and so state in my DVD, my presentations, and on my website (www.bookofmormonevidence.org) .

    I do ask daily for personal guidance from the Lord in all aspects of my life through prayer, including my research, and will not deny that I have on occasion felt his guiding influence in my life. This is not contrary to the teachings of the gospel. Please see the following scriptures. I believe the scriptures are true. Following are quotes from the standard works pertaining to this subject.

    “35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh.” (Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 4:35)

    “7 Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
    8 For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 14:7 – 8)

    “20 And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.” (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 18:20)

    “5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (New Testament | James 1:5)

    “7 But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me,…” (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 46:7)

    “64 Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you; (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 88:64)

    I am doing my utmost to be a servant of God and his son, Jesus Christ, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    I know that I am not perfect, and neither is my research. I state this up front in the DVD. As mistakes are found, I will correct them. Please note that the presentation under review was a 4-hour long, non-scripted presentation before a live audience from memory. I could not include much of the total research as the content was limited to a four hour DVD.

    I have posted the following on my website at http://www.bookofmormonevidence.org . “Correction Notice: A quote from President Hinckley used in the presentation is used incorrectly and will be removed from the next version of the DVD and all future presentations. It was incorrectly understood that the Prophet was speaking of all people who dismiss Joseph Smith, including LDS scholars; however it has been brought to my attention that President Hinckley spoke specifically of non-members and did not specifically mention scholars. As stated in the live, non-scripted presentation, if there are mistakes they will be corrected.”

    This is an example of my willingness to correct mistakes when shown that such is the case. FAIR did not give me the courtesy of enough time to make the correction before publishing their review as I was on the road and had no internet access and therefore could not review the material, nor make the change on my website.

    I am simply presenting ideas and information. It is fully referenced to enable those who would like to study further to do so. The information is available for those who seek further knowledge on this subject.

    I invite anyone who wants to know what I have actually said to review the information I present and then make their own decision. It is every member’s right and responsibility to study it out for them self, then pray and ask the Lord to determine what is truth and what is not. The scriptures are clear how to judge for yourself whether something is of God or not.

    “5 For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.
    10 Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.
    11 For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.
    12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
    13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
    14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
    15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
    16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
    17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
    18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
    19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.” (Book of Mormon | Moroni 7:5, 10- 19)

    I testify that the Book of Mormon is first and foremost a spiritual witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. I also testify that it is a literal historical record of real people and events that did actually occur.

    I testify to the Prophetic calling of Joseph Smith Jr. as the leader of this dispensation. I give my solemn witness that he did indeed translate the ancient records of Lehi’s posterity to bring forth the Book of Mormon. I also believe his prophetic statements, claimed by him to have been received by revelation.

    I testify that the church today is headed by a prophet of God, currently President Thomas S. Monson, who guides and directs the affairs of the church on the earth today, and who is solely authorized to receive divine revelation appertaining to the body of the church.

    Truth stands on its own.

  23. Pingback: Times & Seasons » Posts You Might Have Missed 3

  24. Pingback: FAIR Blog » Blog Archive » Examining the Secular Side

  25. Pingback: FAIR Blog » Blog Archive » Using and misusing scholarship and revelation….

  26. Robert Gray

    Gentlemen:

    I thought this was a very stimulating DVD. I got it from a person in our ward in California. I could not find any thing wrong with the Joseph Smith Quotes. I looked them up and I find them to be correct. I have listened to the information on the DVD and I am doing my own research, which is similar to the investigation that did when I joined the Church 33 years ago, and I have been doing that ever since. It works pretty well. Truth will always stand any test of any investigation. Just like the Book of Mormon continues to stand true under the investigation of all its critics. One good thing about the Church that it’s members can discern truth from error for them self. They do not need to be scientist.

    I read the critical comments listed or posted on the Fair’s web site, but I could not find any real substance to the criticism of Rod Meldrum’s DVD. I was disappointed with the lack of meaningful comments. I would like to known the details of what is incorrect about the DVD—if you have any. It is clear that the comments on the DVD are not intended to speak for the Church. Rod Meldrum made this very clear as far as I am concern. If you have any real solid facts about why the information on the DVD is incorrect, I would like to hear about the detail.

    The Church is not going to confirm or deny the findings of this report or any other reports of this DVD. The leaders of the Church are to smart to make that kind of a move. But as far as the non-members and the critics of the Church going after or attacking Rod Meldrum, let them do it. I will be happy to read their comments. But I have not found any substance with the work of the anti-Mormon’s in the past.

    I am going to work on proving or disproving the information on the DVD. I may not do either. But the gospel is true either way. This is what Rod Meldrum position seems to be also.

  27. Dave

    A friend and fellow ward member told my wife and me about Rod Meldrum’s DVD. We borrowed a copy and watched it. We found it interesting and provocative. Then we poked around a little and found that FAIR had responded unfavorably to the DVD. That didn’t surprise me, because it struck me from the outset that Meldrum was playing the game of truth in his own idiosyncratic way–that is, without going through the peer review process. IMO, that is his real crime. I like what Peter Siebach said above: you can feel passionately about your point of view, but you also must be willing to hand your ideas over to others for independent evaluation that entails rational (at least in principle) and sometimes stinging criticism.
    A Turkish proverb says: “He who knows the road doesn’t need to follow the caravan.” This is nice but a little too idealistic in the academic world. Even if you feel you do know the road, you at least have to make a pretense of following the caravan. That’s the only way you can make a significant dent, at least among academics. As Siebach says, if Meldrum were to do this, in the long run his theory might really gain some traction.

  28. Tyler Kimball

    It is a shame that FAIR has not sought to correct and work with Mr. Meldrum to help him refine his research as they originally stated. It is a pity that you all are so concerned with your own “scientific reputations” that you have to trade rediculous attacks. So what if Meldrum said that millions have been used in a vain attempt to support the meso-american theory. I watched the DVD. He was sincerely trying to state that at least the same attention should be given to the area he outlines because of the amount of evidence that points to that area.

    You are straining over a gnat. Just take the time to look at the research instead of wasting your breath on what he said about wasted funds that you wrongfully take offense to.

    And yes it is obvious you take offense to the statement because you make such a big deal of it when it has nothing to do with the theory Mr. Meldrum is proposing and does not equate to questioning the judgement of church leaders. I understand his intent and if he believes that his theory is more correct, as I do, then why wouldn’t he feel like those were wasted funds? It is merely a statement of OPINION. Who cares! Get on with the research and get over your own high horse, be done with the bickering and help refine what is there. Good grief. Scholars like to pretend they are objective when in reality they are protecting their pet theories like a miser protects his money.

    Some are sincere and have the humility to actually contribute after someone advances the idea that they may be wrong and those actually come back to contribut with positive research. Your remarks are inflamatory because you say that Mr. Meldrum said those were wasted funds and he didn’t say that. He said they were spent in vain, which can have a different meaning from the logic you advance. What I understood was that with all that has been spent, it has been in vain because NO CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE has ever come forth, not because it did not advance any good knowledge.

    Many scientist and researchers appear to be too prideful to accept evidence against their own theories. They take it personal and seek to debase others research and character, even in the face of opposing evidence, because the most popular theories get all the funding and their reputation and lifes work is at stake, thus destroying any true objectivity. They already have an iron in the fire and don’t want someone else to steal their thunder. Unfortunately that is what I see going on here.

  29. Allen Wyatt Post author

    Tyler,

    Thanks for your comments. We did try to work with Mr. Meldrum for months before our reviews were published. Unfortunately, those efforts were not fruitful.

    You appear to be responding to our single initial review. Make sure you look at the in-depth reviews of each section of the DVD. You may find them enlightening.

    -Allen

  30. Cowboy

    First things first, Mr. Meldrum is not a scholar. Higher education is intended to do two key things, with regards to scholarship: 1) provide a framework of progessive learning by building upon the widely established and recognized precepts of various disciplines. 2) to ensure to the public that a person possessing such degrees and certificates has passed through the rigorous system and training, and demonstrated a satisfactory measure of proficiency to be considered an expert at various levels within a given discipline. As far as I am aware, Mr. Meldrum has done none of these things.

    There are certain disciplines which frankly, lie almost wholly in the realm of acadamia. Genetics is certainly one these cases, I am entirely wary of someone who after having read a little about Mendel, suddenly begins an attempt to delineate the genetic history of a group of people for thousands of years in order to support a link to a religious claim. Finally, there is issue of the Michigan tablets. Many LDS, “part-time scholars” (business men playing like scholars) have embarassed themselves over these alleged forgeries during three centuries. Wayne May has been the lone defender of the relics now for some twenty years, while BYU and U of U professors of several disciplines have rejected the documents authenticity over the last 100 years. Not least among those who rejected the documents authenticity was the late Mormon Apostle, James E Talmage. If anyone would have wanted to believe that there was this kind of evidence in support of the Book of Mormon, certainly it would be a Mormon Apostle.

  31. Anthony Frederick

    Is Fair, Fair?

    What does it matter that Mr. Meldrum does not have the sanction and blessing of academia? Does he need it? Don’t think so. The Saviour didn’t have the blessings of the papered and degreed pharisees either, did it matter?

    Young Joseph didn’t have the blessings of Prof. Anton, didn’t change a thing in the way that truth rolled out.

    Mr. Meldrum has presented some extremly interesting material. I take my hat off to him for his great efforts to bring further light to a wonderful spiritual history of the North American First People. Bravo.

    It takes courage to stand alone against the closed minded who are offended that they didn’t bring it forward first.

    Anthony

  32. Cowboy

    Can you seriously be comparing Meldrum to the Saviour and Joseph Smith in this regard?

    Many of the close minded scholars you are referring to actually have considered Meldrums claims. Many of them in fact considered these claims (Geography not genetics) long before Meldrum did. Why don’t they agree? Because when they considered these options they found the details lacking. Why does he need the blessings of Acadamia? Why would anybody making academic claims want the support of recognized authorities in the fields they encroach? One answer, Credibility.

  33. Cowboy

    “It takes courage to stand alone against the closed minded who are offended that they didn’t bring it forward first.”

    You really ought to take an hour and read through some of the history respecting the Michigan tablets. It brings alot of clarity to the issue for me.

  34. Anthony Frederick

    Cowboy,
    Nobody is comparing Rod Meldrum to anyone. What I’m trying to say is that ACADAMIA in all of its great glory has stifled many truths from coming forward only to found later to be faulty because of their pride. One nano second of inspiration is worth a 1000 graduate degrees from the great halls of learning.

    Most of the great discoveries in this life haven’t come from the hallowed halls of education but rather from the unlearned inquiring open mind.

  35. Cowboy

    First – you did compare Mr. Meldrum to The Savior and Joseph Smith.

    Second – You continue to do so by supporting Meldrums claims that he was divinely inspired with his theories:

    “One nano second of inspiration is worth a 1000 graduate degrees from the great halls of learning.”

    “Most of the great discoveries in this life haven’t come from the hallowed halls of education but rather from the unlearned inquiring open mind.”

    The last statement seems to be drawing a parallel to Meldrum and the “Joseph was an uneducated farm boy” myth.

    Your above statement may be based on part truth. You could likely cite Benjamin Franklin to your credit, he really did not recieve a formal education, and is still considered one of the greatest minds of all time. This notwithstanding your second qualifier of an “unlearned inquiring open mind” would be a gross understatement of Mr. Franklins background. He was well read on many topics coming from and through acadamia. Meldrum has still yet to prove himself in the intelectuall community. He relies heavily on statements from Joseph Smith and other Presidents of The Church to support his claims. The trouble most of the scholars have had with this approach is that their statements have been very inconsistent with a reasonable geography. Joseph Smith did suggest that the areas they traveled in early Church history where among the remains of ancient Book of Mormon places. He seemed to give no indication that the Hill Cumorah where he obtained the plates, was anything but the scene of the last Act in the Book of Mormon, ie that is where Moroni buried the plates. He also gave comments placing nephite culture in Mexico. Brigham suggested that Moroni died in Manti Utah. President Kimball is said to have made prescient statements locating Book of Mormon geography while flying over South America. In order to base his theories, Meldrum has to discount all Prophetic statements on the matter, except Joseph Smith – and then sidestep the ones which render his preferred theory unreasonable. So who’s revelation do you want, all of the other contradictory utterances, or Meldrums hack attempt at scholarship/inspiration.

  36. Kevin Bales

    I saw the Meldrum DVD recently over Thanksgiving when my son came down from Idaho to visit us in Mesquite and was given a copy. I found the video very intriguing and stimulating. I have had a couple of friends who have left the church because of the lack of lack of DNA evidence that we should be able to find according some of the “leading DNA scholars”. I admit that the explanation given by our LDS scholars as to why we are not able to find DNA matches have left me a little empty, but I have felt that sooner or later the answer to come out.

    Meldrum’s presentation made since and frankly at the risk of being accused of receiving revelation for the church I felt a spirit of peace and truth and joy throughout the entire presentation.

    Remember why the Lord went to unlearned Joseph Smith to give the Book of Mormon in the first place:

    Isaiah 29:11-14
    11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:
    12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.
    13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
    14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

  37. Anthony Frederick

    Cowboy,
    I am not saying anything about comparing Rod Meldrum to anyone. Please don’t read anything into my words. Let me be very plain. All of the horse crap taught in the great halls of learning doesn’t stack up to any inspiration. Take for example the garbage in the medical system. Killing 200,000 people a year in the US from properly prescribed medications with their side effects doesn’t say anything for the false science published in the med journals. Bought off academia is still bought off academia.
    Truth is Truth independent of any university acknowledgement.
    Who needs it.

  38. Cowboy

    Anthony:

    As I have stated, your words are very clear. You are suggesting that Meldrums inspiration is more credible than the “academic” theories posed by the “so-called” intellectuals. I can understand the temptation to want to turn this into a science vs religion debate, or to even draw parallels to the Anthon affair regarding the “learned” and “unlearned”. I’ll save the “is God an enemy to science” debate for the Investing a Chip in Peleg discussion, for now I think I should just point out where your argument falls flat on its face.

    1) Frankly and foremost – This cannot be an inspiration vs intellectualism debate simply because no intellectual community exists that academically accepts The Book of Mormon as a representation either in whole, or in part, as anything other than 19th century religious fiction. There is no group, period, external to Mormonism which studies the Book of Mormon to understand native american culture. Back in the 1990’s a rumor began circulating within the Mormon community that unfortunately found it’s way into the larger society. The rumor suggested that certain scholars associated with the Smithsonian were using The Book of Mormon as a resource for archaeological research in North, Central, and South America. It didn’t take long for the Smithsonian to issue a scathing response denouncing The Book of Mormon as an actual history.

    2) The “academics”, as you call them, are nothing more than educated members of the Mormon community who believe by faith those things which fly in the face surrounding the contemporary wisdom of their respective disciplines. Many of these scholars have spent years attempting to make discoveries that would substantiate claims which support The Book of Mormon. After having spent years unsuccesful in this endeavor, many have relegated their efforts to apologetics with the hope that if they can’t prove it, perhaps they can at least keep faith alive by removing some of the scientific obstacles. To suggest that they are too blinded by their intellectual “theories” is quite remarkable, given the amount of faith required to believe inspite of all the evidence to the contrary. I read some time ago that FARMS, prior to the 1970’s, existed under a name something to the likes of “The Book of Mormon Archaeological Society”. After several years under this banner the administrators began to feel foolish donning a name as prestigious as “archaeological society” when, to date, no real archaeological evidence exists, period, for The Book of Mormon. They soon changed the name to Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, and FARMS was born. This is a bit of opinion here, but what appears to have happened with most of these scholars you denounce, is that they have taken the inspiration that you treasure and followed it spiritually and scientifically and have come up short. The North American claims made by Meldrum represent the majority of thought among the LDS since the Church’s beginnings. The Church asserted this for years by making bold claims in conferences and other like events, which labled people of Indian or Mexian descent as the children of Lehi. As time passed and research brought new insights into the origin of the peoples earliest known to have inhabited these continents, the former claims where challenged. Mormon scholars with a deep interest in these scientific matters have since attempted to contrive extreme possibilities in order to keep Mormon claims plausible

    3) You state:

    “Bought off academia is still bought off academia.”

    The only “buyer” that would fit this scenario is either BYU or LDS Corporate. This seems quite similar of the type of thing Meldrum was accused of. You probably don’t need much of an explanation as to why this theory doesn’t work. So I will let you clarify yourself here. Who is buying off the academics in this scenario?

  39. Kathy Griffiths

    You’ve got to be kidding. I don’t believe Rod ever claimed that this information was revelation. I believe he indicated he felt “inspired” at times…which is different.

    Right from the beginning it was made clear that this information was not Church sanctioned. Just looking at the physical presentation… I knew that all information may not be total accurate. Good Lord…we’re talking about “homemade” here.

    All Meldrum ask, was for me to keep a open mind… and decide for myself if his theory had possibility. I did that… and yes, I think it does have possibility… in fact it makes more sense to me than the Central American theory. But I have the good sense to leave all possibilities open… even Central America.

    Any information or scholarly study (including Meldrum’s and yours)certainly doesn’t change the fact that I know the Book Of Mormon to be a revealed document.

    I think it is arrogant of FAIR to even begin to assume that the membership of the church is going to be so grossly misinformed, injured and led a stray… that you need to make the correction! Why would I believe you over anyone else?

    Many, of the so called LDS scholars, don’t agree on everything either… so what makes this different… other than the fact you attack so viciously. (Oh.. I forgot…Meldrum isn’t a member of your scholarly club.)

    What difference does it make where it took place, if your testimony is based upon your own inspired, revealed spiritual knowledge.

    All Meldrum did was open up possibilities. I certainly don’t need your adversarial wisdom to help me decide for myself.

    All I’m saying is… back off… you’re scholarly arrogance makes you look like fools.

  40. Allen Wyatt Post author

    Kathy,

    I hope you took the chance to read the actual reviews of Meldrum’s material, rather than just reacting to the post (and subsequent comments) here on the blog. The reviews lay out very clearly where he does, indeed, claim revelation for not only his research, but also for how that research is presented.

    I’m glad you know for a fact, through revelation, that the Book of Mormon is true. I can claim that same revelation; I cannot deny it. And, as you say, it doesn’t really matter where it took place once you know it is true.

    -Allen

  41. Cowboy

    Kathy:

    “I believe he indicated he felt “inspired” at times…which is different.”

    how so? Perhaps the connotation behind the terms “inspiration” and “revelation” would imply some level of degree, ie inspiration might be seen as a weaker form of revelation. I think most people would argue however that the two words are technically just synonyms in the given context. In either case he is suggesting that the Holy Ghost has “inspired” his perspective. You even seem to draw little distinction in your own comments by marrying the two through “inspired, revealed spiritual knowledge”. So if there is a distinction, particualarly other than the general connotative distinction I addressed earlier, I would be interested to know what it is.

    Kathy said:

    “Many, of the so called LDS scholars, don’t agree on everything either… so what makes this different… other than the fact you attack so viciously. (Oh.. I forgot…Meldrum isn’t a member of your scholarly club.)”

    You know, I actually think this sums it up pretty well. Meldrum isn’t a scholar, so he is not a member of the “club”. When he poses as a member of the “club” by flashing academic nomenclature such as “DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography”, actual “club” members scoff because he sounds ridiculous. When Meldrums claims get traction in the broader, non-academic, LDS public – especially with prescient claims of “inspiration”, then the “club” fullfills is social obligation of informing the public. I guess what the “club” didn’t anticipate is, how could they hope to compete with a salesman turned part time DNA expert – among all other disciplines.

  42. pastaalex

    Cowboy, “a lot” is two words. PHDs are often wrong. Just ask the NIST engineers.

    Also, I thought Meldrum stayed away from the Michigan tablets.

    I liked the DVD. Found it informative and faith promoting. I finished the summary paper critical of various sections, and believe the DVD author more credible than much of the evidence presented in the summary paper.

    I will read the entire paper and see if I still have the same opinion. I bet I still will have the opinion that the DVD is worth watching.

    BOM geography is an interesting topic. I find the information at http://www.bookofmormonlands.com/index.htm also interesting. I should also say that I found Sorenson’s “Ancient Setting for the BOM” interesting.

    Most people should watch/read all of this material and make up their own minds.

  43. Mark

    Allen Quote: “That’s a tall order, even for a four-hour video. It would appear that Mr. Meldrum has, in approximately three years of research, uncovered the “verification” (read that as “proof”) that has somehow escaped prophets, leaders, scholars, and students for most of the past two centuries. And, he is on a mission to bring that knowledge to the world, starting with the Church.”

    Joseph Smith presented gospel truths that had been lost for over a millennium and those truths were revealed to him over the course of few short years. Who’s to say that God couldn’t lead a man to reveal the unexpected truth in only a few years?

  44. Allen Wyatt Post author

    Mark,

    Thanks for highlighting the exact problem with Meldrum’s manner of presentation.

    Either we believe that God will reveal truth through his prophets, or we believe that those prophets have fallen and that new, unexpected truths need to be revealed from others besides those prophets. Pick who you choose, but as for me I choose those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators.

    -Allen

  45. Mark

    But not every little smidgen of truth is revealed to us through prophets. Thomas Edison wasn’t taught by prophets how to make an electric light work. Other inventors weren’t told by various prophets where to find the truth that would make their inventions worked. They discovered the truth without prophetic guidance, though God undoubtedly had His hand involved. You see, I don’t think prophets have been called to reveal archaeologist findings. I think they’re called to be special witness of Christ. While knowing Book of Mormon geography seems related, I don’t think they(the prophets) have to be the ones called to reveal it. I mean, if the prophets had to reveal all the truth to us I think the public school system would be worthless, don’t you agree?

  46. Allen Wyatt Post author

    You miss the point.

    Meldrum not only asserts revelation for his FIRM Foundation (as his commercial enterprise is called), but he asserts that he has discovered Joseph Smith’s revealed truth relative to Book of Mormon geography. He supposedly has discovered what the Prophet meant, even though such certainty has been somehow missed by every prophet since Joseph.

    Who has the divine right to tell the Church what Joseph meant relative the Book of Mormon? It isn’t Meldrum, that’s for sure. If you won’t believe my words, perhaps you’ll believe those of Joseph F. Smith:

    We can accept nothing as authoritative but that which comes directly through the appointed channel, the constituted organizations of the Priesthood, which is the channel that God has appointed through which to make known His mind and will to the world… And the moment that individuals look to any other source…they step outside of the pale of the kingdom of God, and are on dangerous ground. Whenever you see a man rise up claiming to have received direct revelation from the Lord to the Church, independent of the order and channel of the Priesthood, you may set him down as an imposter.

    -Allen

  47. Dave M

    Kathy,

    There are two important points that everyone in the church needs to understand about the present topic of discussion.

    1: No member of the Church is authorized to claim revelation which will effect current Church wide doctrine or teachings except the current President of the Church. If Bro. Meldrum has received revelation, then he is under obligation to keep that revealed information to him self. If the Lord wants that information revealed to the Church as a whole he will tell the President of the Church.

    2: Being a member of the “scholarly Club” has nothing to do with it. If someone came to town and started claiming they had discovered that 2+2 actually equals 7 it would be very important for the rest of us to know if that person has some sort of credentials in a mathematical field. Do they understand the laws that govern mathemetical functions? Do they actually understand mathematial theory? If this person turns out to be someone with a limited formal education, then we would question their ability to formulate valid mathemetical theories.

    This is exactly the case with Ron Meldrum. He has no formal education in the subjects he is lecturing about nor has he even done the limited research necessary to put him in possession of the most up to date research on those subjects.

    So, either way you look at it Ron Meldrum has no business doing what he is doing.

  48. Brian

    Fair I am going to have to agree with Kathy. Your approach to this whole thing is very pridefull. Even if your concerns are accurate you did not approach them in a Christlike Manner. As I read your review it was full of contention. Maybe that was not your intent, but that is how it came across. As stated numerous times both by you and Rod the Book of Mormon is true independant of any physical proof. I don’t know why the two of you are not working together to defend our faith instead of battling eachother. This reminds me of Bible bashing in the mission we all eventially learn that it doesn’t work. We know that Geography does not change the docterine but Rod is not the first person to come out with theories on where the Book of Mormon occurred. If these studies done by Rod or anyone else spark people to investigate then the results will be postive.

  49. Ben

    He said, She Said, Rod said. all of this sounds like a bunch of gossipy girls. Sludgy, Black mud passed from one hand to the next, like all the other gossipy sinners out there. I love your review, how it says over and over that my faith is predicated on weather or not the BOM events took place here or there or anywhere. Why don’t you guys shut down your worthless website, let the missionaries do there jobs and the spirit will guide people to the Saviour. Anyone who actually gets converted to the church by reading anything here has little chance at ever building there own strong testimony.
    You do what you do, because you want justification, you want to be right.

    BTW, Rod is right.
    I’ve heard Sorensen belittle Joseph Smith, he no different than the Pharisee of Christ’s time, they also were a Covenant people, and broke it.

    So what if there are flaws in Rods research, he hasn’t been working on it for decades like people have in Mexico (The non-promised land) have, he’s already found more conclusive reasoning behind his idea, than these [non choice land]er’s, have in there decades of digging.

    I for one believe him. I believe Joseph, I believe God.

    If you Fair people are so much better researchers than Rodney, why don’t you use his research an run with it, try it out for a few decades see where it leads you, or are you chicken.

    Whenever people asked me, “Where did the events of the BOM take place”, I would say,”oh around Mexico.” want to vomit at the idea, I wouldn’t talk about it much. I never settled well with me, every time I learned a little more about it, I’d distance myself from the idea, boy the spirit was telling me something, but I didn’t know what else to think, so I stuck with the Scholarly Dogma. Then I found Rod, Thank heaven I didn’t have to feel like that again,now I have something I can be proud of telling people about the geography of the BOM. The spirit bore witness to me, but it can’t quite get through the thick, over analytical brains of FAIR, who just can’t bare to be wrong.

    Thats my story and I’m sticking to it.

  50. Travis

    I do feel that there is alot of mud slinging on both sides. I have gone to several FARMS firesides and it is not uncommon for Them to quote prophets, talk about being “inspired”, and making conclusions with many assumptions being taken. Never has anyone assumed they were receiveing revelation for the church, but being that is a religious topic it is not unussual for someone to talk in spiritual terms or even be open to talk about personal inpiration. So I do feel that Mr. Meldrum should be given the same respect as somone from FARMS that though he may say he has felt inspired they are giving their own personal opinions(it is good to note that the FARMS firesides I went to and this DVD I saw both disclaimed at the beginng that they are not offical represenatives of the church and that the Church has no offical revelation on the geography of the BoM.

    I do not agree with FAIR’s responce to using personal e-mails. The responce is that once you send an e-mail it is public. Yes, but that still isn’t morally acceptable. By using the examples of using personal letters of the prophet is not the same. For one thing the prophet has passed on allready. The other thing is that the Church has and does make these available to the public.

    I would like to see anyone show that is morrally acceptable to put up personal messages not intended for them with out the author of the e-mails being allowed to comment on them as well. We have all sent e-mails and we all hope that we would be given an opportunity to at least comment on them ebfore someone posts them on a blog or website with out telling us first.

    I do not think Rod melldrum has been extremly sincere as well in playing the martyr card. If there is real scholarly debate about his points he does need to be willing to listen to them, even if he doesn’t agree with their conclusions. Rod Meldrum does also need to make sure that when he does quote a prophet that he does provide the context himself on who and what the prophet is talking about.

    Just for the record, I am not a FIRM foundation or FAIR apologist. Though I enjoy reading and listening to as many things as possible about POSSIBLE BoM archealogy sites I always take it with a grain of salt and understand That everthing they are saying could be wrong.

    I have read Orson Scott Cards book the Stone Table and he gives his conclusion about why he believes that the books of moses did not occur when Ramses was pharoah. Very interesting and understandable conclusions, but could be totally wrong. But he could be right.

    Same could be said for FIRM and FARMS.

  51. Dave

    What is authoritative relative to any claim regarding lands and peoples described in The Book of Mormon?
    1)The scriptures and
    2)Revelation through the prophet Joseph Smith.
    Any other claim of geographic authority would be opinion. Prophets today would no sooner espouse Mesoamerica theory over North America theory than they would profess that church members should be democrat or republican. This is just an email forum and look at the division it has caused. It just wouldn’t be in harmony with their calling and purpose. Although it is very interesting, it just has nothing to do with the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon or validity of its translator of which the Holy Spirit confirms. What great effort has been spent to expose the fact that there was a poor scientific approach in presenting genetic information when, from the beginning, the initial warning was something to the effect, ‘I am not a scientist, here are the references, and please research them for yourselves.’ With respect to critics, please examine the material described in the DVD and publish the good news when you find it. As for me, I am anxious to read rebuttals of each premise, not personal attacks on the presenter. “Credibility” is an intangible word. It is inherently subjective and can quite possibly never be achieved. Those who choose to find the material credible are not necessarily naïve, but may have developed that child-like attribute we were always taught to possess–belief. Disbelief and mistrust take years for men to perfect. I attended a conference recently where some of the best minds in medicine tried to convince those present of their practice’s superior clinical approach. I watched as clinicians with diametrically opposed practice theories sat at a table and debated one another. This they did trying to understand the reasoning of each argument that perhaps in doing so they might find a better way to treat their patients. The catch—they had to be willing to be wrong. It is not my imagination that some critics have been promoting two concepts that don’t appear to be consistent with many Latter-Day Saint opinions. First, that Joseph Smith had little or no understanding of Book of Mormon geography and second, any comments he made regarding geography were not given under inspiration and thereby not authoritative. I disagree. What is this pattern? When the conclusion isn’t right, then the supposition must have been a gold-digger? Nothing works better to weave doubt than to disparage the source. Just because he dug for gold doesn’t necessarily mean he can’t remember what the angel said three times last night over his bed, right? At last, why don’t we believe the words of the prophet? Particularly when the Lord said,”…no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses.” (D&C 28:2) … Even as Moses?

  52. Linda

    After viewing the DVD twice, and recognising that Rod doesn’t use any of the BYU scholars, nor any of the data that impressed President Hinkley resulting in FARMS being assigned to BYU at his request, nor using any scholars, other than magazine articles, and that he questions the church leaders, it is my OPINION that Rod is on the road to apostacy.

  53. Cowboy

    “Although it is very interesting, it just has nothing to do with the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon or validity of its translator of which the Holy Spirit confirms.”

    I would have to disagree with this statement, this debate is exactly about the truthfullness of The Book of Mormon and the validity of it’s translator. What is interesting is that both groups, ultimately have the same agenda to find verifiable proof authenticating The Book of Mormon. The Church has been very active in supporting any evidence demonstrating forensic evidence in support of Book of Mormon Claims. That is why they started FARMS through BYU, they are just catious to put an ecclesiastical endorsement on an academic theory.

  54. Linda

    Also, any TRUTHS that would be revealed for the benefit of all of us, would come to us from the prophet of the Lord, Thomas S. Monson. Any revealed truth that I would receive, would be for myself and/or my family, not for the church in general. We can look at the theories and recognize the study and research that went into them, however, until the prophet tells us, these things are just speculation. However, that said, I’ll have to go with FARMS in this instance, as I think their scholarship is far superior to his.

  55. Allen Wyatt Post author

    Cowboy said:

    That is why [the Church] started FARMS through BYU, they are just catious to put an ecclesiastical endorsement on an academic theory.

    Just one small correction, Cowboy: The Church didn’t start FARMS. It was started in 1979 as an independent, tax-exempt research group in California. It was not invited to become a part of BYU until 1997. See a portion of the history on the Maxwell Institute site.

    -Allen

  56. Cowboy

    Correction accepted, the point still remains that the Church shares a partial engagement with FARMS research, evidenced by the University endorsement you mention.

    “We can look at the theories and recognize the study and research that went into them, however, until the prophet tells us, these things are just speculation.”

    They should certainly not be accepted as doctrine without support of the Church hierarchy. Even still, if one of these groups where to make a significant discovery we probably wouldn’t need the Prophet to verify it. For example if Zarahemla were discovered with corraborating text evidence verifying Nephi and Lehi, for example, that should stand on it’s own. We do not need a Prophet to point out the obvious.

  57. Dave

    “this debate is exactly about the truthfullness of The Book of Mormon and the validity of it’s translator.”

    My apologies, I made an assumption that both sides of this argument began with the presumption that The Book of Mormon is true and Joseph Smith was a prophet and any subsequent examination of DNA evidence as it relates to geography were secondary affirmations not determining factors of those truths. That is how I approached the presentation to begin with, how did you?

  58. Cowboy

    Dave:

    For the record I am a skeptic, and therefore do necessarily assume that either The Book of Mormon is true, or that Joseph Smith is a Prophet. I do not entirely reject those notions, but suffice it to say I am not convinced sufficiently to make the assumptions you have.

    That’s enough about me, my point here was not to debate the truthfulness of the Church’s claims. Rather I am suggesting that neither group is in this race, if you will, for the sake of hobby. Both groups represent efforts of faith confirmation. I am not suggesting that without finding verifiable proof either group will lose faith, but that each is in search of greater verification at some level or another. I would venture that part of this intensity has been fueled in the wake of modern science which largely refutes LDS claims regarding the multiple theories of BOM correlations to ancient American history.

    I don’t think it is much different than the efforts of Christian archaeology throughout the holy land and the middle east. These scholars expect to find something which legitimizes Mormon claims.

  59. judmglad

    All this talk about the truthfulness of the BOM made me remember a Know your Religion lecture by Prof Griggs. He talked about a group of scholars who study “ancient revelatory literature.” This group includes the BOM in their studies. Prof Griggs said none of the participants believed the BOM enough to become LDS. Anybody remember more about that?
    I’m happy to see that others writing here know as I do, that the BOM is the word of God as is the Holy Bible.
    Back to the current subject – I think Rod’s theories are interesting just as other theories are. Facts won’t convert but do strengthen a testimony. When facts show up, that will be great no matter where they come from. For centuries critics said they couldn’t believe the Bible because many sites mentioned in it simply weren’t there. Ah, but now they are found! Same will happen with the BOM, I’m sure.

  60. Rod H.

    I am an innocent seminar attendee and DVD owner of Rod Meldrum’s. I have also watched the DVD from Wayne May and attended the seminar of Bruce Porter. Before all of this I read the book called Return to Cumorah, about the Book of Mormon lands all taking place in western New York. These have all fascinated me from the stand point that my thinking from reading the Book of Mormon for many years, it has been cumbersome to intellectually connect the dots of geography and distance and many other items regarding the B of M taking place Central America and North America. Nevertheless I, as many others here, have a testimony of the Book or Mormon that cannot be shaken as I also perceive these other gentlemen and authors do also.

    I find this so fascinating and another theory as to these lands of Book Of Mormon promise. I walked away from Rod M. presentation thinking it has great merit, but still many holes as does the conventional thinking of Central America. The presentation of Bruce Porter was absolutely brilliant and using only B of M text and language lends more credibility to these United States being the lands of the B of M than anything else in my humble opinion. I would sincerely hope that everyone can retain an open mind and an air of congeniality will pervade with these discussions. My understanding is that the church makes no official comment as to the exact whereabouts, so in that light, all of this is fair game. The prediction of who might become apostate is way out of line just because another theory is brought forth. Each of the gentlemen began his presentation with his testimony and Rod M. said that if President Monson called him and told him to cease his research, he would do so in a heartbeat.

    I certainly do not know what is right or wrong, however it “feels” so much better to me as I read to think that these United States with out freedoms and gentile mothering feelings and tendencies overpowers the thought of Central America being that “Promised Land”. It does bother me that FAIR is rather rigid and closed minded with other presentations, but I also know I don’t have all of the facts from their side. So I encourage more study, research and just plain old getting along and realizing we are in this together for the great cause of this true Church and gospel that we love so dearly.

  61. Chris

    So FAIR has shown Rod’s theory to be wrong and Rod has shown FAIR’s theory to be wrong. So now that we all *know* that both theories are wrong, where exactly do you think the Book of Mormon events actually transpired then?

    Oh yeah, that’s right we don’t need to know because we’re meant to believe in something without any physical proof. But wait, don’t all religions want us to believe in their truth without any physical proof? So doesn’t that leave us in the same boat as all other fairytale religions? Full of myth and fantasy? Let’s all just believe in fairies …

    Seriously. Our prophets have said that if the Book of Mormon is false, our church is false. A fairytale. It doesn’t matter how much “spirit” we’re feeling about something if it just plain isn’t true. If the Book of Mormon Lands never existed, then the Church is false.

    This issue is pivotal. It’s enormous.

    This is what I think has happened over the last couple hundred years or so:

    We as a people were drawn in to the mystery behind the massive and beautiful Mayan/Olmec/Toltec cities and culture. They were fascinating and we thought they fit the Nephite lands perfectly. They had writing systems, gold, silver and their feathered serpent god (which seemed to resemble Christ so well). We had enough mystery to hide our beliefs and theories behind for a while so we began researching, digging and building up our framework of theories based on Meso-America.

    Then as time went by, we learned that the Mayan and Olmec writing systems had nothing whatsoever to do with Egyptian and Hebrew.

    We realized the orientation of North had to be changed to West(or North West) for Meso-America to fit the topography in the Book of Mormon — making the Nephites look so stupid that they couldn’t tell which direction is North.

    Then as we found less and less Nephite evidence (ie manuscripts/language/religion) we began theorizing that the Nephites had been absorbed by some unknown culture that was already there (like the Mayans), thus we have no trace of the Nephite culture. The Nephites were made more vague. More ambiguous.

    And then we (LDS scholars) had to admit that the feathered serpent god turns out to be a Mayan priest that helped spread the murderous religion of human sacrifice to other parts of Meso-America (Definitely not a good match with Christ).

    Then we had to make up the 2 Cumorah theory because it seemed improbable for the entire Nephite civilization to march thousands of miles on foot over rivers, mountains and lakes just to arrive in New York for a final battle on a tiny insignificant little hill about 1/100th the size of an average mountain (the 2 Cumorah theory doesn’t exist in the Book of Mormon, we made it up to fit in our Meso-American theory).

    Then to top things off, the Meso-American mtDNA comes back as Asiatic instead of Middle Eastern in origins. Dang it. But on the bright side, we helped defend the faith for decades as we continued to battle off the anti-Mormon’s claims.

    After a few hundred years of this non-sense, God finally gives us the power to conduct large scale mtDNA testing for the first time. At last the day has come for God to vindicate His prophet. Once the mtDNA testing is complete and we finally find the correct geographical location based on mtDNA evidence, what happens?

    We don’t believe it. Even if the geography matches with what Joseph Smith thought. We stomp on the evidence because the man who brought this out wasn’t a scholar. Or maybe we’re too stuck on our own theories to accept anything new.

    So let’s go back to Meso-America and keep digging up enormous stone temples and continue imagining they were made by the Lamanites who were “dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins” Because obviously we aren’t ready for the truth yet.

  62. Greg Smith

    Dear Steve:

    In between your sarcasm, it does not seem that you have paid very close attention to the discussion up to now. Since you are coming in late, hopefully we can make some things clear.

    1) In the first place, FAIR does not hold the positions which you attribute to it.

    FAIR endorses no geographical model of the Book of Mormon. There are members of FAIR who hold a North American model, some hold a continental model, some favor a Mesoamerican model, and a sizeable chunk don’t care and have no real opinion on the matter at all.

    This is made very clear at the beginning of each section of the review listed here.

    ===

    2) In the second place, Joseph Smith made several statements about Book of Mormon geography. These statements changed over time–indicating that either he got revelation later in the process OR that he was speaking of his own best assessment of the evidence, and this changed as he learned more.

    You can see all statements made by the prophet Joseph Smith here.

    You can read about this and treatment of the evidence in our review of Rod Meldrum’s material here. You will note he both ignored evidence which did not fit his model, and distorted some which he did cite.

    3) FAIR is not making the statement that prophets do not automatically know everything, especially peripheral details. FAIR has drawn that conclusion via numerous scriptures and statements of the modern prophets and apostles.

    Joseph Smith himself said that a prophet was only a prophet “when he was acting as such.” Scripture makes it clear that even serious matters affecting the progress of the Church were not always revealed to Joseph (D&C 10:37).

    In the LDS tradition, prophets are not omniscient, nor are they infallible

    As George Q. Cannon explained:

    The Presidency of the Church have to walk just as you walk. They have to take steps just as you take steps. They have to depend upon the revelations of God as they come to them. They cannot see the end from the beginning, as the Lord does. They have their faith tested as you have your faith tested. So with the Twelve Apostles. All that we can do is to seek the mind and will of God, and when that comes to us, though it may come in contact [conflict?] with every feeling that we have previously entertained, we have no option but to take the step that God points out, and to trust to Him… [George Q. Cannon, “Enduring to the End,” 5 October 1890; reported in ”Collected Discourses: delivered by Wilford Woodruff, his two counselors, the twelve apostles, and others”, Vol. 2, edited and compiled by Brian H. Stuy, (Woodland Hills, Utah: B. H. S. Publishing, 1988), 115–116.]

    ===
    Finally, leaders of the Church have repeatedly been clear that there is no revealed location for Book of Mormon geography.

    FAIR aims to support and defend the leaders of the Church. And our review used their words on this point.

    If you are convinced that the Church and its leaders are neglecting a revelation to the prophet Joseph Smith on Book of Mormon geography, and not teaching it, perhaps you should make your concern known by writing to:

    President Boyd K. Packer
    President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
    50 E. North Temple
    Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

    You should explain to him how he and the other prophets and apostles are ignoring a revelation to Joseph Smith. You may even with to point out how FAIR members are also guilty of “heresy” on this point, as you put it, and that many employees of the Church’s flagship university (BYU, in Provo) have published and taught the same thing for over fifty years. You should also point out that Rod Meldrum is trying to correct this matter.

    Please let us know how he replies.

    Your recent comment on this and other blog threads (making essentially the same claims) are, unfortunately, why FAIR believed it was necessary to respond to the material and claims made by Rod Meldrum which are at variance with the teachings of the living prophets and the historical record.

    I hope you will examine the evidence and refrain from charging members of the Church (including the prophets and apostles) who do not agree with you with heresy or a rejection of Joseph Smith’s or Brigham Young’s prophetic role.

    Best wishes,

    Greg Smith

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