Book of Mormon Maps

It’s been quite some time since I blogged about Book of Mormon geography theories.  KC Kern runs a website called Book of Mormon Online, and has recently updated his website with satellite images with Google maps of some of the theories.  (Click here.)  I always post stuff on my blog first, but there have been quite some heated comments with some imaginative maps at Mormon Matters (where I used to blog), such as the Malay Theory, the Baja Theory, Peru,  and the Great Lakes Theory.  KC has added the Sri Lanka Theory, as well as Rodney Meldrum’s Heartland Theory and the more conventional Central American Theory. I’m also impressed that he has Lehi’s route in the Arabian Peninsula (which seems to have more credibility than some of the other theories.) The maps are pretty cool.  What do you think?

30 comments on “Book of Mormon Maps

  1. Are any of these theories coming from outside of the Mormon faith. Is there a single non-mormon scholar who gives credence to any of these theories?

  2. So I take it the answer to my question is no. I looked at your sources they are all Mormon written. Daniel C. Peterson is not an archaeologist but an apologist. I think you are engaged in a bit of wishful thinking. I have not read of a single account where a non LDS scholar supports any of these theories.

  3. You’re an amazingly fast reader if you read the material that quickly.

  4. Are any of those sources non-LDS I read enough to know they are not. I am interested in the theories that are not inbred. Do you have any? If there is an archaeologist that is from outside the faith we have a jumping off point to credibility. Without a source outside of the church it is an exercise in apologetic manipulation.

  5. curmudgeon, Is there any evidence for the Sodom, Gomorrah, Mount Sinai, or Moses? Do you believe in any of these?

  6. You are presenting an argument from ignorance. That is a logical fallacy. There is also no evidence there is not a teapot circling the moons of Venus. You are suggesting there is credibility of Book of Mormon Archaeology. I want to seen some evidence it exists. I am open to the possibility but it has to be more than an exercise in faith.

  7. You are presenting an argument from ignorance. That is a logical fallacy. There is also no evidence there is not a teapot circling the moons of Venus. You are suggesting there is credibility of Book in Mormon Archaeology. I want to see some evidence it exists. I am open to the possibility but it has to be more than an exercise in faith.

  8. Curmudgeon, are you in a bad mood (all the time)? You seem quite bitter on your blog, and I am not interested in arguing with you. You’re not interested in evidence, you’re interested in telling me you’re right and I’m wrong. Go tell someone else how smart you are and how dumb everyone else is.

  9. I am genuinely interested in the evidence there is Book of Mormon Archaeology. I am not in a bad mood. Nor do I have a need to be right. I am not looking for an argument. It was a genuine question. If you don’t have the evidence then that is alright with me too. You are suggesting you have some information that is scholarly and I thought you might. If you don’t then you don’t.

  10. I do not think that you will find any non-LDS even attempting to provide possible maps for the Book of Mormon, a book that they do not believe in, except maybe one showing the New York region and suggesting that Joseph Smith used his own environment for the model in his mind.
    However, all of the maps that have been produced are based upon conjecture. There are many to choose from. To my mind, the meso-American setting is the most plausible, but it is far from an established fact, else we would not be having these discussions.
    I think a very plausible route has been established for the journey from Jerusalem to Bountiful, using historical, archeological, and geological evidence. Again, that is not an established fact, merely plausible.
    As for the apologetic syndrome, it does not matter whether the articles are written by an apologist or a critic. What matters is the content of the articles. How well they are written. What facts are used. How logical are the conclusions.


  11. MH,
    You should not be surprised at curmudgeon’s replies. After all, a curmudgeon, by definition, is a cantankerous and bad tempered person!!!!


  12. Yeah, the maps ARE pretty cool.

  13. @Glenn Thigpen What really matters is evidence. Well written conjecture is merely speculation and fiction without evidence. Glenn really, curmudgeon is a metaphor… not my real personality. It did make me chuckle a bit however.

  14. Curmudgeon, you are hostile to religion. On Aug 6, you posted a graphic of a woman with her fingers in her ears with the caption, “Religion. I’m right! You’re wrong! LA! LA! LA! I can’t hear you!”

    On Aug 18 you wrote, “There is a reality that much of the church’s doctrine is harmful to the self esteem and self worth of its members.”

    Yet strangely, you came here and said, “I am genuinely interested in the evidence there is Book of Mormon Archaeology.” REALLY? A few weeks ago, you indicated your mind was already made up on the issue when you said, “I have yet to see one ounce of credible evidence that any of the claims of Mormonism are based in fact.”

    It’s clear to me that any debate with you is doomed from the start. So why should I bother? You’re mind is clearly made up already, and I am not convinced at all that I could sway your opinion in the least. But I don’t think my powers of persuasion are the problem, but rather you’re antagonism toward religion.

    I have a favorite quote from a book,

    [Rabbi Moses] Nachmanides’ message is even more clear and relevant today. His writings directed the person of faith to realize that there is much more hidden than revealed, both in the traditional Biblical writings and also in the natural world. Our challenge is to continually study and investigate both realms, with the realization that apparent conflicts are merely artifacts of temporary incomplete understanding in one or both realms. This avoidance of intellectual pride, allows the person of traditional religious faith to work comfortably within the framework of rigorous scientific hypothesis and empiricism. This is also in keeping with the rationalist approach in Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed.”

    So yes, I do believe a person of faith can work in a rational, scientific world even if you want to characterize people of faith with fingers in their ears. But then again, you’re much smarter than me, so what could I ever tell you?

  15. MH I have no interest in telling you ‘you are wrong’. You suggested you had support for your claim. If you do not that is fine. You know little about me or my temperament. It is rather arrogant to suggest you do and what my intent is here. I found your blog by the link from Main street Plaza. I am not hostile to religious people nor do I think you can’t support science. I guess your either not willing to point me to your evidence or you don’t have any. I think it is okay to tell me that without attacking my character.

  16. curmudgeon, I like Chanson at MSP, but I find most people there quite hostile to religion. Didn’t you call me “ignorant” in comment #8? (Who said anything about teapots circling Venus?)

    Perhaps you ought not call people “ignorant”, or post non-flattering things about religious people if you (1) want to have a productive conversation, and (2) don’t want to be accused of being hostile to religion.

    I’m sorry you had a hard time in Mormonism. If you’re happier because you left, I’m happy for you. But don’t try to characterize religious people as if they have fingers in their ears if you want to have a productive conversation about religion. You come off as arrogant as you accuse me of being.

    Really, I hope you’re happy outside of the church. Don’t talk down to me.

  17. No I didn’t call you ignorant. The logical fallacy “argument from ignorance’:

    “It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not been proven false (or vice versa). This represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes a third option, which is that there is insufficient investigation and therefore insufficient information to satisfactorily prove the proposition to be either true or false. Nor does it allow the admission that the choices may in fact not be two (true or false), but may be as many as four, (1) true, (2) false, (3) unknown between true or false, and (4) being unknowable (among the first three).[1] In debates, appeals to ignorance are sometimes used to shift the burden of proof.

    Argument from ignorance may be used as a rationalization by a person who realizes that he has no reason for holding the belief that he does.”

    Here is a link to another definition to the same logical fallacy: http://www.fallacyfiles.org/ignorant.html

    The teapot circling Venus is an illustration of the ‘argument from ignorance’ fallacy.

    I don’t think I have talked down to you. I asked a question. It is okay to say I don’t know. Again, my intent here was to ascertain if you had a credible source who had evidence of the BOM archaeology. Regardless of what I write in my blog. I was not trying to troll you here. I can assume by your hostility that you do not. We are not having a conversation because you are on the defensive. I am not attacking your beliefs and frankly I don’t even know you.

  18. Your comments and questions to date sound like a troll.

  19. curmudgeon: Your definitionn of “credible” undermines your question from the beginning. It frames the debate in such a way that only scholars that fit your preselected criteria “count”. While those that do not have their arguments disqualified, no matter how truly credible they and their are. This tactic is actually fallacious, not to mention ironic.

    Then you adopted a school marm posture by trying be the fallacy policemen, which in my experience tells me you are trying a little too hard to sound smart and “credible” when you are really neither. It sounds to me like you are trolling with talking points while trying to adopt a “what me, I’m just a rational and objective arbirter of truth” persona. I’m not impressed.

    The maps do look cool MH.

  20. curmudgeon, easy on the threadjack.

    These maps are awesome… you can zoom in and see further details on the various places, and find their references in the text. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a concise conglomeration of various theories in interactive form like this.

    What’s interesting is the number of false positives BoM Geography can create… sure, you can quibble over various “deal breakers” but even then there always seems to be counterpoints (Rod Meldrum & the Baja folks dismiss the north flowing Sidon, for example)

    This should make for hours of interesting exploration!

  21. FireTag, I’d be curious to hear your take on the Sri Lanka map. Glenn and Morgan, good to see you again!

  22. @MH Thanks for the welcome.
    @Curmudgeon, glad you took my comment the way I intended it… lighthearted.

    On the maps, it is evident that you can take the general features the Book of Mormon describes and fins many areas of the world that will fit that description. I don’t worry too much about them myself.


  23. The site you reference is hard to difficult, the pages rarely load. Someone has too much time. “Forever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” applies. When you’re not able to discern the true geography, you must use others.

    Two issues up front, it is very ironic that a supporter of Nemelka would pretend to be a follower of the Book of Mormon. The second, the author has failed to grasp distances.

  24. I understand that preaching for money is frowned upon in the LDS Church. Do those who accept money to ‘preach’ geography of the Book of Mormon cross the line when they include phrases such as “brothers and sisters”, “I testify”, etc., in their presentations?

    The Bible and Book of Mormon contain both history and religion. If there ever comes a day that the geography of the Book of Mormon is discovered, and the history of the Book of Mormon is validated by archaeology, it would only mean that the events in the Book of Mormon actually took place. Faith would still be required to accept and believe the religious concepts written by the authors of the Book of Mormon. So, while it would be nice to have maps to follow while reading the Book of Mormon, proving the Book of Mormon to be true through geography will not prove the LDS religion to be true. That will still require faith.

    Personally, I doubt that any event described in the Book of Mormon ever occurred south of the Rio Grande. I believe that those who determined the River Sidon flowed north made the same mistake as those who figured the Sun circled the Earth… they accepted the obvious without considering all of the evidence. There’s a second ‘head of Sidon’ midway between Manti and Zarahemla, and there are other definitions of the words ‘head’, ‘up’ and ‘down’. Taking these into consideration opens up other possible paths for the River Sidon.

    The style of geography in the Book of Mormon can also be interpreted as using either an absolute or a relative geo-referencing system. In an absolute system, there is one east sea, one west sea, one land northward, etc. But, in a relative geo-referencing system, the seas, lands and wilderness areas are labeled relative to an event or location. Just as we have many buildings with an “east-wing” or “west wing” (each of which are labeled relative to the main building), there could be many east seas and west seas in the Book of Mormon, where each one is labeled relative to a specified land. The west sea relative to the land of Desolation may not be the same west sea relative to the land of Zarahemla. And the east sea relative to the land of Zarahemla may be the west sea relative to the land of Bountiful. The land of Desolation may be the land northward relative to the narrow neck of land, but the land of Bountiful (which is the land southward relative to the narrow neck of land) may be (part of) the land northward relative to the land of Zarahemla.

    Unfortunately, all of these ideas tend to make the task of interpreting the geography of the Book of Mormon quite a bit more complicated, and very unpopular. Kind of like the idea (long ago) that the Earth orbits the Sun.

  25. MH:

    I’m sufficiently satisfied with the limited geography MesoAmerica approach for the moment that I haven’t looked at Sri Lanka. But I hope to have time to get back to look at it soon.

  26. On Curmudgeon’s point, there are no scholars outside of the religion itself who take any of these mapping theories seriously because the Book of Mormon has been conclusively shown to be a 19th century document. Every one of these theories fails because anywhere you put Zarahemla on a map — from Colombia to Guatemala to New York to Sri Lanka, if you then dig — you will not find Nephitish artifacts.

    Most Book of Mormon geography “theories” are fun, but folly. Any external information used (i.e., knowledge of Mayan, Olmec, Hopewell, or Adena archaeology) results in a distortion of the actual text. The valid way to approach mapping the Book of Mormon is to attempt to understand the intent of its author, Joseph Smith. There’s no reason to imagine that Smith had any “theory” other than the traditional understanding of Book of Mormon geography in mind. Thus, the narrow neck of land is Panama, the Land Northward is North America, the Land Southward is South America, and the single Cumorah was the hill in Smith’s neighborhood.

  27. Did anyone notice that the audio sounds just like Bruce Lindsay of KSL 5 News?

  28. @John Hamer
    I’m inclined to think that no scholars outside of the religion itself take any of these mapping theories seriously because none of the BOM geography theories have even come close to demonstrating a reasonable correlation between the BOM text and the real world. Nephite and Lamanite artifacts probably can’t be identified as Nephite and Lamanite artifacts until such a correlation is demonstrated to exist and then go on to be verified through additional “alignments” such as cultural interactions, and migrations, etc. For example, when Mosiah led the entire Nephite culture northward from Nephi to Zarahemla, this migration and subsequent integration of the Nephite culture into the already established ‘Mulekite’ culture would have left physical evidence of the migration as well as the merging of cultures both of which should be able to be identified by archaeologists. But, if archaeologists did discover such a northward migration and merging of cultures which did happen to occur at the same period in time as described in the BOM text, no one would make the connection to the BOM until a correlation of geography was demonstrated.

    What might happen if someone was able to discover a way to interpret the BOM text which did reveal a correlation between the BOM geography and a location in the real world (as well as alignments between real-world and BOM cultural interactions and movements), and that real-world location was not in MesoAmerica? The idea that the events of the BOM occurred in MesoAmerica, and no where else, is so well established in the minds of most BOM scholars that only a well respected BOM scholar (presenting such an unconventional theory) would be taken seriously. Also, a valid solution outside of MesoAmerica would lead to some degree of embarrassment to all the BOM scholars promoting MesoAmerican theories. So, stay away from that, because it’s not a good idea to poke a tiger with a stick.

  29. MH:

    I finally did get a chance to glance at Sri Lanka. I think it unlikely to look at anywhere this close to Arabia. At some point, it just gets easier for God to get JS to India than to get Moroni to New York.

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