Mormon FAIR-Cast 141: Was the Book of Mormon Set in Heartland America?

Posted on by

Where did the events of the Book of Mormon take place? What evidence is there that the events took place in Mesoamerica? What evidence is there that these events did not take place in the heartland of the United States? In this episode of Religion Today, which originally aired on KSL Radio on October 28, 2012, Martin Tanner discusses these questions.

This recording was used by permission of KSL Radio and does not necessarily represent the views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of FAIR. (Listeners will note that the first part of this recording is missing.)

3 thoughts on “Mormon FAIR-Cast 141: Was the Book of Mormon Set in Heartland America?

  1. nzmagpie

    Interesting that Rod Meldrum appears in the FAIR produced video “DNA and the Book of Mormon”. I’m assuming here that we are talking about the same guy who promotes the “Heartland model”.

    Also, non-LDS scholars have discovered serious cement technology on the Yucatan peninsula, coincident with the Mayas, that show they had advanced limestone kilns necessary to convert the locally mined limestone into cement, using the local timbers. The built bridges, highways and temples using cement and aggregate, that survives to this day.

  2. Tyler Livingston

    You are incorrect. Rod Meldrum did *not* appear in the FAIR produced DVD on DNA and The Book of Mormon. There was a Jeff Meldrum who appeared in FAIRs video who shares a last name with Rod but is not related to him. Rod uses tactics and misinformation that are not up to par for use in FAIR products.

  3. TheodoreB


    I listened carefully to your opinions on Book of Mormon geography and agree with one of the points that you made, that Lehi landed on the west coast of Central America.

    In his description of their arrival at the Promised Land, Nephi wrote that their seeds grew exceedingly and they were blessed with abundance. He described beasts in the forests of every kind, and all manner of wild animals. Nephi wrote that they found all manner of ore, both of gold, and silver, and of copper (1 Nephi 18:23-25). It was certainly a blessed land. From this brief description we learn that the soil was fertile and they had abundant rainfall. There were forests, and also grassy areas to feed the cow and the ass and the horse.

    This wonderful land was located somewhere along the Pacific coast (Alma 22:28). That the landing was not in South America is supported by the fact that the Panama land-bridge between North and South America is almost impenetrable. The 16,000 mile Pan American Highway that runs from Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean to the southern tip of Argentina, has only one break—the fifty-four mile gap through the Darien Jungle between Panama City, Panama, and Columbia, South America. Modern equipment and engineering have not yet been able to build a permanent road through this dense swamp and formidable growth. In 1854 an American Expedition searching for a route for the Panama Canal could not hack their way through this jungle. They became so lost and hungry in this forty mile wide isthmus that they ate their dead (In Panama’s Jungle, LA Times, March 18, 2005). If Lehi had landed in South America, the Nephites could not have migrated to North America by land.

    The first things to look for in searching for Lehi’s Landing are the ore deposits. US Geological Survey maps show that from California to Panama there is only one spot on the Pacific coast where there are known deposits of gold, silver and copper, all within a radius of thirty miles of a coastal point (USGS Minerals Information). That point is the middle of the Pacific coastline of Costa Rica.

    When Columbus came to this area he saw people wearing many ornaments of gold, and so named it Cost Rica (Rich Coast). Costa Rica is rich in many other ways. It has all the other features Nephi described. Costa Rica has fertile soil and 150 inches of rainfall per year. Fruit trees such as avocado, nance and guapinol, as well as tubers such as yucca and “name,” are indigenous to Costa Rica. Today the rich soils produce bananas, pineapple, oranges, nuts, coconuts, yams, and a long list of exotic fruits and vegetables.

    The almond tree is indigenous to the Levant of the Middle East, and is mentioned ten times in the Old Testament. However, the almond is also considered to be native to Costa Rica. Lehi’s family brought many fruit and grain seeds and planted them in the Promised Land (1 Nephi 8:1, 18:24) and perhaps the almond and other fruits and grains still growing in Costa Rica were among the varieties brought by Lehi.

    Twenty five percent of Costa Rica is protected forests and reserves. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve has two thousand plant species with various orchids, and a hundred species of wild animals. There are eight hundred species of birds in Costa Rica. Nephi’s description of all manner of wild animals still holds true today.

    The most probable point for Lehi and his family to land would have been on the lush costal strip where the fresh water of the Rio Grande Tárcoles River flows into the Gulf of Nicoya, near the present town of Tárcoles. When Lehi left Jerusalem, the first place he camped was beside a river of fresh water where it emptied into the Red Sea. He named the river, Laman, and admonished this son to be “like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!” (1 Nephi 2:6-9). The place Lehi sailed from was a fruitful valley near the sea they called Bountiful (1 Nephi 17:5-6). When Lehi landed in the Promised Land he surely would have settled his family along a fresh water river, not far from the sea. They may have sailed a short distance up the river and found a good settlement site on the rich flat soil on the north bank of the river.

    After eight years in the desert, and traveling more than half way around the world by sea, the tropical paradise of Costa Rica was an unimaginable fulfillment of the promised blessing to Lehi and his family. This glorious fulfillment of the Promised Land is also analogous to our promise of a Celestial World after our long journey in the wilderness of mortality.

Comments are closed.