Monthly Archives: March 2009

A look at Meldrum’s revised DVD….

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Recently, an old friend had given me a copy of Rod Meldrum’s DVD, DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography.  This newer edition is, in some ways, radically different from the one perused by FAIR members when the original came out, roughly one year ago.   While I haven’t seen the new version in its entirety, I thought the changes were significant enough to put in front of the people.

First, though, I want to make some things clear:

While most FAIR members accept a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon, there is NO official FAIR position on Book of Mormon geography.  Greg Smith’s blog entry should make that abundantly clear.  Moreover, I know of no FAIR member who is closed-minded to a Anglo-North American setting of the Book of Mormon.  Indeed, FAIR member Larry Poulsen, who is an advocate of the Mesoamerican theory, posts Theodore Brandley’s thesis on his web site (and he has eloquently–if unconvincingly–advocated his position in comments on my earlier blog entry!), and I have speculated about a Florida setting for the Land Southward in those same comments.

Here are some of the parts of the revised DVD that I thought noteworthy:

1.  There is an explicit statement  by Emeritus General Authority Elder Hartman Rector at the beginning of the DVD, that there is no official Church position on Book of Mormon Geography.

2.  Meldrum inserts a similar statement into his presentation–early on.

I hope that those who have read the reviews by FAIR personnel–including Robert White’s blog entry–would realise that the greatest issue that FAIR took with Meldrum’s presentation was the implied Church endorsement of his position–with the accompanying implication of the apostasy of those who didn’t agree.   I don’t know if Elder Rector wisely advised him to make the insertions, whether the Brethren put pressure to insert those disclaimers, or if Meldrum himself “saw the light” and made the insertions on his own initiative, the fact is, those changes were made–quietly, and without fanfare.  [A more cynical person might argue that the quiet with which Meldrum made those changes was an attempt to give a false impression that FAIR lied about his presentation.]

Whatever the motivation, those changes are quite welcome, and I, for one am quite happy that those who are unpersuaded of Meldrum’s position (not just FAIR and FARMS members–whom Meldrum refers to as “the scholars”!) are now free from any taint of being charged with apostasy.  For that, Brother Meldrum deserves credit.

Still, there are problems with Meldrum’s presentation:

Firstly, he claims that a thorough search of what “the scholars” had on the DNA issue revealed nothing.  I really don’t know how Rod Meldrum could possibly have missed this list of FAIR articles, including those by David Stewart, D. Jeffrey Meldrum, and Scott Woodward–all of them trained in genetics, and all of them written before his DVD. Moreover, how could he have missed this list of DVDs–one of which, The Book of Mormon and New World DNA, was copyrighted in 2007 (I own a copy!)?

Another problem is with the “scientific method” that Meldrum employs.  I am trained as what the business world calls a “quant jock.”  Thus, even though I CLEPed out on the sciences as an undergrad–and got some training on counteracting nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons, it would be presumptuous to claim that I am a scientist–and my looking for better counteragents would NOT be “scientific research.”  It would be equally presumptuous for Meldrum, who, as I understand, was a technical writer, to claim that HE engaged in “scientific research.”

Though I am incompetent to comment on genetics, others, such as Ugo Perego, are quite competent in the field–and they take issue not only with Simon Southerton, but with Rod Meldrum and their (at best) naive assumtions and faulty conclusions.

However, I AM competent to comment on geographic issues on his claim, because of my undergraduate and graduate training in the social sciences.  To be fair to Meldrum and others who accept a Great Lakes setting for the Book of Mormon, I was wrong when I said that I failed to find a “Land Southward” that was “nearly surrounded by water” [See Alma 22:29-30] in the Great Lakes.  Honesty compels me to admit that Southwestern Ontario certainly qualifies as a peninsular “Land Southward,” and the land stretching from the southern tip of the Georgian Bay to the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario is undoubtedly narrow enough to be traversed in a day and a half [See Alma 22:32]. However, even considering that the Nephite first month is the same time of year as the crucifixion [III Nephi 8:5], Ontario–even that part, is much too cold for Lamanites to get away with wearing only skins about their loins [Alma 43:4, 19] about that time. As I write, a perusal of the weather forecast for Toronto at this time of year shows that there will be SNOW on the seventh of April[http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/tenday/CAXX0504?from=36hr_fcst10DayLink_business].

While Brother Meldrum may have graduated from the FAIR hot-seat, he will have to produce far better evidence for him to get some POSITIVE attention.

Is failure acceptable in what we do?

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I have been giving a lot of thought to success and failure as of late. I have recently taken a national exam to become a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I have yet to receive the results, but should in the next day or two. With that said, I have been preparing myself to either celebrate like crazy, or figure out how to pick myself up and get back on the horse. I have been doing a lot of thinking about my family, and how much they mean to me. They have been a huge support in this whole process, an I know they will continue to stand by me. Then I watched a video blog by Glenn Beck (don’t worry, no politics will seep in here). He gave a list of successful men who had at one time failed in their lives’. I’d like to name just a few here: Milton Hershey, Henry Ford, Walt Disney. I thought of others: Billy Joel, Harlin Sanders of KFC fame, Phil Knight of Nike, Glenn Beck himself, and the list goes on. There have been church leaders try and fail in ways to follow The Lord.  Joseph Smith learned a valuable lesson after losing the 116 pages, when he failed to listen the first time to The Lord. There have been times in my life I did not heed the whisperings of the Spirit and was worse off because of it. We try and fail every day in what we do. As the cliche goes, everybody makes mistakes. Christ is the only one in my memory who never failed in doing what he was asked to do. He executed with perfection, the commandments given him by our Father.

    Now, what does this have to do with Apologetics and defending the Church? I was thinking about times in my life and about experiences from others where they may have felt inadequate to speak up, or else feel they did not accurately answer a question posed to them by a critic, or even a friend. We receive a lot of questions on the FAIR list from Bishops, Ward Mission Leaders, Missionaries, and others seeking answers to questions. One thing to keep in mind, there is always some answer to the question. Another thing to tag onto that last statement is: The answer can be “I don’t know.” There is nothing wrong with this at times. It gives us a chance to learn, explore, research and grow in our knowledge. We can then go in search of an answer to the critic or sincere question. Even if we do put forth an effort to find an answer, there may not be one out in the open. Critics have scoffed at us when we are asked to “shelf” an answer. I will say that there are answers to many questions, there are times in life where “shelving” a question or concern is perfectly OK. If we are not in tune with the promptings of the Spirit when searching for answers, we could bring more problems to our situation than good. It is OK to fail in finding answers right away, it may take years to find the answer, and if we never do, it is alright. We must remember that the core questions of the truth are there, and we must keep faith in them. The rest is gravy to go along with the core building blocks of our faith (Christ Lives, Joseph Smith is and was a prophet, Book of Mormon is true, God speaks to a prophet today). Those are the things I consider vital, I may be missing some, but you get the idea. Failure to answer a critic’s attack or the perceived inability to answer a sneer about what we believe is not the end all. Fair, The Maxwell institute, and others give us great material to work with, and it is there to be utilized in defending truth. We can use these things to succeed where we may have failed before. Combine these resources with those the Church gives and the things that come to us through the Holy Ghost, and we have before us a strong arsenal

 Failure in anything can be seen as a stepping stone for success. This is the same with Apologetics and answering the questions that can and will come to us from others, and even from ourselves. Stay close to the core, eternal truths of the gospel, and with that will come the answers, or else the peace the gospel brings. For those of you seeking answers, I wish you the best, and may you be blessed in your search. For those of you giving answers and who are engaged in the fight for truth, keep your head up, eyes open, your knees worn from prayer, and remember, failure is acceptable in life, as it often serves to make us stronger and more determined in our journey.

 

**Comments posted here represent my own views, not the views of FAIR, The Church of Jesus Christ, or others who participate on this blog.