A Choice Land: Book of Mormon Geography

book-mormonI recently came across a new and interesting Book of Mormon geography theory that I wanted to pass along even though I haven’t researched it much yet and so can’t say what I think of it. Your feedback on this would be welcome. The theory is explained at this website.

So here is the key behind it. The Book of Mormon mentions that the Nephites took seeds from Jerusalem and brought them to the promised land. Now seeds can’t grow in unlike climates, so that immediately reduces all possible Book of Mormon lands to climates that can grow seeds from Jerusalem. They then took all other geographical factors mentioned in the Book of Mormon and further reduced the possibilities. They ended up finding a surprisingly high ‘hit rate’ with none other than Baja California.

Is there any thing to this theory? I don’t know. But I like their thinking in any case. Even if this turns out to be total poppycock, it’s the right sort of poppycock. This is a really good example of ‘sticking your neck out’ with a theory. The last person to do this was the much maligned Rodney Meldrum. For all the things he gets obviously wrong, I have to get him credit for actually bothering to not merely abstract things until there is little or not chance of disproving the existence of Nephites and actually managing to come up with a solid falsifiable theory — supposedly the mark of all good scientific theories. In fact Meldrum’s theory was so solidly falsifiable that it has in fact been falsified. This may sound like a joke, but in fact this means he was really doing things the right way from a scientific perspective. If only we could now get him to admit he was wrong and stop selling books.

So now we have yet another solidly falsifiable theory. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.

Salt Lake Tribune Editorial on Why LDS Scripture Requires the Tribune?

I saw a funny link on M* to this editorial called “Op-ed: Tribune should go on; LDS scripture requires it.” Of course this piqued my curiosity so I read through it. The scripture in question is that there must be opposition in all things. Had to laugh, since this scripture is about why evil is necessary in mortality. Well, actually that understates the unintended humor in this article. Check out 2 Nephi 2:10 for full context. This scripture is actually explaining why God must punish the wicked.

This op-ed is pretty poor for the most part. A confused throwing together of unsupported opinions. The article make the following, imo, humorous charges: Continue reading

Bloggernacle Tactic: Demanding Change To Accommodate the “One”

Lost SheepI think its time that various Bloggernacle tactics that I’ve seen used get called out and made public in hopes that such tactics will ceased to be used and be replaced with a more rational discussion.

Today’s tactic is to use the scripture about the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to find the 1 lost sheep as a means of demanding change. The following statement I overheard online (I wish I could take credit!) explains this tactic very well:

Like most of the Savior’s injunctions, that was meant to be advice for the shepherd, not a lever for the straying sheep to demand change. Whenever someone tells you that you should not judge their behavior, that you should forgive them without their repentance, that you should leave the 99 to come after them, or that you should turn the other cheek to them, they are weaponizing and perverting the gospel.

Anyhow, the advice for the shepherd was that he bring the straying sheep back to the 99. The ones not playing their role in this parable are the… folks who flee the shepherds and refuse to be brought back.

Continue reading

“Liberal” and “Orthodox” Views on the Faith of Abraham

AbrahamA while back I did a post called The Faith of Abraham where I discussed the considerable challenges surrounding the story of Abraham being told by God to sacrifice Isaac. I have been in conversation recently with a blogger from Wheat and Tares about this story because it really bothers him — to the point where he has come up with ways to discount it as truly having come from God. As the discussion went on we agreed to ‘take it public’ because its such an interesting topic for discussion. His response to my post is found here. He then posted it on W&T today.

One thing I’ve long believed is that this story largely defines the difference between what it generally means to be “conservative” vs. “liberal” when it comes to religion. Maybe I’m over emphasizing this, but this tends to be a pretty good litmus test. Further, this particular story and the discussion that follows is a fairly straightforward example of why I self-identify as a “conservative” despite being quite literally 25% atheist and only 75% believer. Those that know me know that I believe that liberal theology is a rational non-starter. It doesn’t even make it out the rational gate for me and this is a great example of why.

Summary of Liberal Friend’s Argument

First, let me summarize his argument, though I hope you’ll all go read his full post yourselves. Continue reading

The “Mormon Matters” Theology

Back on October 29, 2011, I wrote a post attempting to summarize the “Theological Liberal” narrative “as it saw itself” and therefore tried to write about it in a wholly positive way as best I could.

But that post really only touched on the points of Liberal Theology that are considered the most positive aspects and are typically trotted out for public consumption.

As I did this post on John Dehlin, the thought occurred to me that my understanding of Liberal Theology came substantially from my time at Mormon Matters. The three biggest influences were Clay Whipkey and John Hamer – the two “open” theological liberals that didn’t mind talking about their beliefs – and John Dehlin himself, who is not as open, but not exactly closed either. John, in particular, pointed me to Karen Armstrong’s book, which taught me quite a bit. (See also my comprehensive response to her book.) Continue reading