Smithsonian Institute Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon

As stated at MRM.org:

Some Latter-day Saints, in their zeal to give tangible authenticity to the Book of Mormon, have told prospective converts that the Smithsonian Institution has used the Book of Mormon to verify sites in the New World. In response to numerous requests on this subject, the Smithsonian has issued the following paper detailing their position on the matter.
Information from the National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560

Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon

1. The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archaeologists see no direct connection between the archaeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.

2. The physical type of the American Indian is basically Mongoloid, being most closely related to that of the peoples of eastern, central, and northeastern Asia. Archaeological evidence indicates that the ancestors of the present Indians came into the New World — probably over a land bridge known to have existed in the Bering Strait region during the last Ice Age — in a continuing series of small migrations beginning from about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.

3. Present evidence indicates that the first people to reach this continent from the East were the Norsemen who briefly visited the northeastern part of North America around A.D. 1000 and then settled in Greenland. There is nothing to show that they reached Mexico or Central America.

4. One of the main lines of evidence supporting the scientific finding that contacts with Old World civilizations, if indeed they occurred at all, were of very little significance for the development of American Indian civilizations, is the fact that none of the principal Old World domesticated food plants or animals (except the dog) occurred in the New World in pre-Columbian times. American Indians had no wheat, barley, oats, millet, rice, cattle, pigs, chickens, horses, donkeys, camels before 1492. (Camels and horses were in the Americas, along with the bison, mammoth, and mastodon, but all these animals became extinct around 10,000 B.C. at the time the early big game (sic) hunters spread across the Americas.)

5. Iron, steel, glass, and silk were not used in the New World before 1492 (except for occasional use of unsmelted meteoric iron). Native copper was worked used (sic) in various locations in pre-Columbian times, but true metallurgy was limited to southern Mexico and the Andean region, where its occurrence in late prehistoric times involved gold, silver, copper, and their alloys, but not iron.

6. There is a possibility that the spread of cultural traits across the Pacific to Mesoamerica and the northwestern coast of South America began several hundred years before the Christian era. However, any such inter-hemispheric contacts appear to have been the results of accidental voyages originating in eastern and southern Asia. It is by means certain that even such contacts occurred; certainly there were no contacts with the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, or other peoples of Western Asia and the Near East.

7. No reputable Egyptologist or other specialist on Old World archaeology, and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archaeological remains in Mexico and archaeological remains in Egypt.

8. Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World in pre-Columbian contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines, and sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492 except for a few Norse rune stones which have been found in Greenland.

9. There are copies of the Book of Mormon in the library of the National Museum, of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

SIL – 76 Rev. May 1980
Unfortunately, some anti-Mormons, in their zeal to disprove the Book of Mormon, have taken this and other similar letters as proof that the Book of Mormon is false. But let’s examine each part of the statement the Smithsonian makes:

The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide.” – Fair enough. The Book of Mormon was never intended to be such, and I believe any thinking Mormon would agree the Book of Mormon is a poor guide to the archaeology of the Western Hemisphere. Of course that doesn’t stop Mormons from getting excited about any archaeological news that might support the Book of Mormon, but any Mormon who would rely on such news or “evidence” as proof that the Book of Mormon is true is, as the statement above says, most likely mislead by their “zeal”.

Smithsonian archaeologists see no direct connection between the archaeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.” – This is not to say there is no connection, merely to say the Smithsonian archaeologists don’t see any such connection. But is that because they’ve researched it thoroughly and can’t find any connection, or because they don’t care enough about the matter to research it at all? Remember, the purpose of this statement was not to state that the Book of Mormon is not true, only to stop those rumors that the Smithsonian had used the Book of Mormon in their archaeological studies.

The physical type of the American Indian is basically Mongoloid, being most closely related to that of the peoples of eastern, central, and northeastern Asia. Archaeological evidence indicates that the ancestors of the present Indians came into the New World — probably over a land bridge known to have existed in the Bering Strait region during the last Ice Age — in a continuing series of small migrations beginning from about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.” – I’m a Mormon, and I agree with this statement, yet I still believe the Book of Mormon to be true. The “urban legend” amongst many, if not most, Mormons has long been that all natives of North and South America, from the Eskimos in Alaska to whatever natives live farthest south were exclusively descendants of the people of the Book of Mormon. However, the intrinsic and extrinsic evidence points to the Book of Mormon people (excluding those in the book of Ether known as the Jaredites–who are of unknown origin although there is some evidence to suggest they came from some part of Asia) being a relatively small civilization amongst many others that already existed on these Western continents.

Much of this confusion among Mormons most likely stems from a misinterpretation of passages in the Book of Mormon referring to “the narrow neck of land” and the “land northward” and the “land southward”. It is easy to see how someone would immediately assume these passages refer to the area that is now home to the Panama Canal, and the North and South American continents. However, the most basic reading of the Book of Mormon is enough to disprove the isthmus of Panama as being the “narrow neck of land” since the Book of Mormon also describes it as a “day’s journey” whereas the isthmus is not nearly narrow enough at any point to allow a person to cross it on foot in anything close to as little time as one day. In addition, there are other areas of Central America that do conform to the descriptions given, and which make quite a bit more sense upon a more thorough investigation of the Book of Mormon text. But of course in the early days of the LDS Church such investigation was not possible, geographic knowledge was limited, and so it’s simple to see how an erroneous assumption could have been made. That the urban legend still exists today is a testament not to the stubbornness of Mormons to believe what is scientifically doubtful, but rather a sign of the lack of importance given to this matter by most Mormons. It is a matter of curiosity, not of faith. If they think about it at all, most Mormons assume it all makes sense somehow, even if the information to piece it all together isn’t yet available.  But who cares? For most, it’s just for fun, and the important stuff is living the faith, not the archaeology of it.

Present evidence indicates that the first people to reach this continent from the East were the Norsemen who briefly visited the northeastern part of North America around A.D. 1000 and then settled in Greenland. There is nothing to show that they reached Mexico or Central America.” – More or less irrelevant, since it’s believed Lehi’s family arrived from the West, and again, they were a small civilization among many others.

One of the main lines of evidence supporting the scientific finding that contacts with Old World civilizations, if indeed they occurred at all, were of very little significance for the development of American Indian civilizations, is the fact that none of the principal Old World domesticated food plants or animals (except the dog) occurred in the New World in pre-Columbian times. American Indians had no wheat, barley, oats, millet, rice, cattle, pigs, chickens, horses, donkeys, camels before 1492. (Camels and horses were in the Americas, along with the bison, mammoth, and mastodon, but all these animals became extinct around 10,000 B.C. at the time the early big game (sic) hunters spread across the Americas.)” – Again, if the civilization of the Book of Mormon was relatively small, it’s easily possible that animals and plants mentioned in the Book of Mormon could have existed without there being any fossil or historical record of them. The fossilization of a single organism is an extremely rare event, generally understood to represent tens or hundreds of thousands or even millions of such organisms that did not become fossilized. And if we have no history of the Book of Mormon people other than that in the Book of Mormon itself, then if some of these plants and animal species were unique to their civilization as a matter of their being brought over with them, then this is not unfathomable.

I’m not sure it makes sense to respond to the rest of the items, because they all hinge on the same point–if the Book of Mormon claimed that its people filled North and South America and were the sole progenitors of today’s Native Americans, then yes, there is a problem. If, as I claim here, the Book of Mormon people were a small civilization among many others, then these statements by the Smithsonian say nothing but that there is still ample archeological work to be done in Central America, where there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of known sites that have never been excavated or researched. I’ve been there and seen it. Who knows what is yet to be found?

More resources related to this topic:

Jeff Lindsay – The Smithsonian Institution’s 1996 “Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon”
FAIR – Book of Mormon/Archaeology/Smithsonian statement
LDS Church News – Paleontologist defends the Book of Mormon

Comments

  1. Your return to the world of blogging is indeed a treat.

  2. Ok, I have read your blog. Aside from FARMS and various sites I have researched, One thing stands out in this blog. I may be wrong, but where is the evidence proving even if a small portion that the Book of Mormon is true. Other then faith and casting doubt among scholars and various historical entities indicating a possibility of truth is all I can gather from your blog. Much appreciated in helping me to make a decision that will undoubtedly change the legacy I leave for my family.

    • Hi Mark, I just created a new page on the blog for you and others who have asked the same question. Click on "the purpose of this blog" in the main navigation in the upper right of the site.

  3. Where in the Book of Mormon is there any mention of aboriginal people living in the New World before its discovery by Nephi and his company?

  4. "Where in the Book of Mormon is there any mention of aboriginal people living in the New World before its discovery by Nephi and his company?"

    Well, there is the history of the Jaredites, of course, which pre-dates the Nephites by quite a bit, but "aboriginal" they were not. Then there's the curious reference in Jacob 7:1 which reads "And now it came to pass after some years had passed away, there came a man among the people of Nephi, whose name was Sherem."

    If this man came among the people of Nephi, that implies that he was not of the people of Nephi. Where did he come from? We don't know, but we can be fairly sure he didn't come from either of the two other groups mentioned in the Book of Mormon, namely the Jaredites and people of Zarahemla, since contact with those peoples was not established until hundreds of years later in the Nephite history.

    So, is there any mention in the Book of Mormon of aboriginal people living in the New World before Nephi's people arrived? No, but why should there be? The Book of Mormon is a highly summarized religious history covering 1,000 years, not a comprehensive general history. Try covering 1,000 years of history in 400 pages and you're bound to end up leaving out all sorts of stuff that other people think is important. If there is no record of other people in the Book of Mormon (which of course there is, we just don't know how to match them up with the archeological record yet), it is because it didn't have anything to do with the purpose of the Book of Mormon.

  5. “Where in the Book of Mormon is there any mention of aboriginal people living in the New World before its discovery by Nephi and his company?”

    Well, there is the history of the Jaredites, of course, which pre-dates the Nephites by quite a bit, but “aboriginal” they were not. Then there’s the curious reference in Jacob 7:1 which reads “And now it came to pass after some years had passed away, there came a man among the people of Nephi, whose name was Sherem.”

    If this man came among the people of Nephi, that implies that he was not of the people of Nephi.

    – Joshua Steimle

    ——-

    I see no implication at all that Sherem was not an hereditary Nephi. Here you are doing the same you did with the Book of Abraham, by denying that words have meanings that are obvious to them.

    For example, my copy of The Book of Abraham begins with the following preface, "A translation of some ancient Records, that have fallen into our hands from the catacombs of Egypt. – The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus."

    Here Joseph Smith clearly claims that the manuscript he has was written on by Abraham "by his own hand," and that he, Joseph Smith, translated it into English. Nevertheless, now that it is obvious that the manuscript was far too recent to have been written personally by Abraham, and that it has a very different meaning from the one Joseph Smith attributed to it, Mormons claim that it was a copy of a much older manuscript, and that Joseph Smith did not translate from it, but gained revelations from it. This is simply not what Joseph Smith said about it.

    We now know that when Nephi and his company are supposed to have entered the New World it was fairly well populated. The Olmecs had been building cities for nearly a thousand years. When the events recorded in The Book of Mormon came to an end the Olmec civilization had come to an end, but it had been replaced by the Zapotec, the Mayan, and the Teotihuacan. These were impressive civilizations that built large cities. If the Book of Mormon was an authentic history it would have certainly mentioned them, along with Indian nations that still practiced a neolithic way of life.

    • What makes you think Sherem was a hereditary Nephite? Not that the point matters much, it's merely interesting to me. You still haven't shown, beyond your own opinion, why the Book of Mormon should mention any other civilizations in it. You make a claim, but why should we accept you're claim as valid? Your claim would only make sense if the Book of Mormon were a detailed, general history, rather than a highly summarized, religious history.

  6. What makes you think Sherem was a hereditary Nephite?

    – Joshua Steimle

    ———

    The obvious meaning of the text is that he was, just as the obvious meaning of Joesph Smith's preface to the Book of Abraham is that he had a document created by Abraham – and not copied from that document over a thousand years later – and that he translated it.

  7. Ok, let's pass on the Sherem part now, because we don't know what is really meant, and it's not the point anyway.

    Again, you still haven’t shown, beyond your own opinion, why the Book of Mormon should mention any other civilizations in it. You make a claim, but why should we accept you’re claim as valid? Your claim would only make sense if the Book of Mormon were a detailed, general history, rather than a highly summarized, religious history.

  8. Again, you still haven’t shown, beyond your own opinion, why the Book of Mormon should mention any other civilizations in it. You make a claim, but why should we accept you’re claim as valid? Your claim would only make sense if the Book of Mormon were a detailed, general history, rather than a highly summarized, religious history.

    – Joshua Steimle

    ——-

    I do not understand the distinction between "a detailed, general history," and "a highly summarized, religious history." They seem to mean the same thing.

    Your argument seems to be that the Book of Mormon is the account of small bands of Nephites and Lamanites who had no reason to notice the Indian civilizations that we know existed when the events written about in the Book of Mormon are supposed to have happened.

    When I read a book I own I like to underline parts that interest me. I just reviewed my copy of the Book of Mormon, taking special notice of the introductions at the beginning of each chapter.

    In the beginning of Mormon, Chapter 6 the introduction says, "The Nephites gather to the land of Cumorah for the final battles – Mormon hides the sacred records in the hill Cumorah – the Lamanites are victorious, and the Nephite nation is destroyed. Hundreds of thousands are slain with the sword."

    Verse 10 of this chapter reads, "And it came to pass that my men were hewn down, yea, even my ten thousand who were with me." What follows are mentions of many other groups of ten thousand who are killed. This is supposed to have happened 385 A.D. There is no plausible reason that a nation this large should not have noticed the Zapotec, the Maya, and the Teotihuacan civilizations that archaeologists know existed at the time. Nor is there is any plausible reason why the Mayans, who could write, would not have recorded the existence of such a large and obviously non Mongoloid population.

    Ether 15:2 reads, "He say that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in heart; yea there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children."

    The Book of Mormon claims to the the history of a very large population of Semites who left no evidence whatsoever in the archaeological record. As I was reviewing my copy I noticed mention of a Temple modeled after the Temple of Solomon, and also of synagogues. There are no remains in the New World of any pre Columbian buildings built in a Semitic fashion.

    Religions leave durable reminders of their existence. The Indian civilizations that did exist in the New World were polytheistic, and practiced human sacrifice. There is no evidence of Judaism and Christianity existing in the New World before the time of Columbus, as the Book of Mormon would lead us to expect.

  9. "I do not understand the distinction between “a detailed, general history,” and “a highly summarized, religious history.” They seem to mean the same thing."

    That might explain why both of us seem to be hashing this point over and over again. A detailed, general history of the Nephite civilization would be about 100 times as long as the Book of Mormon, and would still be a summary. It would focus on politics, economics, people, places, events, geography, etc. The Book of Mormon, by contrast, is what you would get if you went to someone and said "I want you to take these 40,000 pages of history and condense them into 400 pages. Oh, and only focus on the religious stuff or things that affect the religious stuff, not all that other stuff."

    "Your argument seems to be that the Book of Mormon is the account of small bands of Nephites and Lamanites who had no reason to notice the Indian civilizations that we know existed when the events written about in the Book of Mormon are supposed to have happened."

    It's not that I think they had no reason to notice the other civilizations, they just had no reason to put that in the Book of Mormon. That would have gone in other books, not of a spiritual/religious nature.

    "What follows are mentions of many other groups of ten thousand who are killed. This is supposed to have happened 385 A.D. There is no plausible reason that a nation this large should not have noticed the Zapotec, the Maya, and the Teotihuacan civilizations that archaeologists know existed at the time. Nor is there is any plausible reason why the Mayans, who could write, would not have recorded the existence of such a large and obviously non Mongoloid population. "

    Well, you're welcome to your opinion. I've traveled in Central America, and given various features of the geography I can see how it would easily be possible for multiple large civilizations (and I don't consider a civilization of a few hundred thousand people to be very large) to live within 100-200 miles of each other and never know the other existed. Mountain ranges and dense jungle can do that. Ever tried to navigate through dense jungle? You could travel for a month and only make it a few miles.

    Out of curiosity, do we have records of all the other major civilizations in Mesoamerica mentioning each other?

    "Ether 15:2 reads, “He say that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in heart; yea there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children."

    These weren't Israelites. There is some speculation the Jaredites may have been the Olmecs.

    "As I was reviewing my copy I noticed mention of a Temple modeled after the Temple of Solomon, and also of synagogues. There are no remains in the New World of any pre Columbian buildings built in a Semitic fashion. "

    Perhaps they were built of wood. Not all civilizations have built buildings that would stand for hundreds, let alone thousands, of years. Perhaps they were destroyed by the Lamanites. Perhaps after the Nephites fell the materials were carted off to build other buildings. I have seen firsthand in Central America how many of the temples are built on the ruins of past temples. In some cases there are four or five layers. Very little archeological work has been done relative to how much remains to be done. Who knows what might be found underneath the thousands of sites not yet excavated. There is no reason to believe that if the Nephites built temples like that of Solomon that we would have discovered them already. We're very early in the archeological work. In 200 years perhaps we'll be 10% of the way through it and we'll have found some interesting things.

    "Religions leave durable reminders of their existence."

    How would we know if there was a religion that didn't?

    "There is no evidence of Judaism and Christianity existing in the New World before the time of Columbus, as the Book of Mormon would lead us to expect."

    The Book of Mormon may lead you to expect such things, and it has led many members of the LDS Church, even prominent leaders, to expect such things, and when I was a kid I had such expectations, but as I've studied the matter more I no longer have such expectations. Nor do I care about it much except as a matter of curiosity, since my membership and belief in the Church is not based on archeology.

  10. It is the nature of nations and civilizations to interact, sometimes violently. The Book of Mormon is a history of the interactions of the Nephites and Lamanites. It it was an authentic history it would also include mention of the Indian nations and civilizations, which unlike the Nephites and Mamanites, left archaeological remains of their existence.

    A temple modeled after the Temple of Solomon would not have been built of wood. The Book of Ether says that the Jaredites came from the Near East. The Olmec civilization gives no indication of a Near Eastern origin.

    The Aztecs were aware of the Mayans, and modeled their civilization on the Mayan civilization.

  11. "It is the nature of nations and civilizations to interact, sometimes violently."

    Well yes, when they're in a geographic proximity that promotes interaction. We do not know where the Nephites and Lamanites were, how large they were, or whether they did have interactions with other peoples and merely didn't include them in the Book of Mormon, so this is all speculation.

    "The Book of Mormon is a history of the interactions of the Nephites and Lamanites."

    It happens to include a lot of those interactions, but it is not the purpose of the book to have documented those interactions. The focus of the book is the religious history of the Nephite civilization.

    "unlike the Nephites and Mamanites, left archaeological remains of their existence."

    The Nephites likely did leave some sort of archeological remains, but either we haven't found them yet, or we have found them but haven't identified them as being Nephite. There are thousands of known archeological sites that have not yet been excavated, and there are entire civilizations in Central America which archeologists know existed, but they as yet know virtually nothing else about them, other than that they were there. We are at a very early stage of research in the area.

    "A temple modeled after the Temple of Solomon would not have been built of wood."

    Why not?

    "The Book of Ether says that the Jaredites came from the Near East."

    Where does it say this?

  12. “It is the nature of nations and civilizations to interact, sometimes violently.”

    Well yes, when they’re in a geographic proximity that promotes interaction. We do not know where the Nephites and Lamanites were, how large they were,

    – Joshua Joshua Steimle

    ——–

    I have already pointed out by quoting passages from the Sixth Chapter of Mormon that there were at least "hundreds of thousands" of Nephites.

  13. “The Book of Mormon is a history of the interactions of the Nephites and Lamanites.”

    It happens to include a lot of those interactions, but it is not the purpose of the book to have documented those interactions. The focus of the book is the religious history of the Nephite civilization.

    – Joshua Steimle

    ——-

    The focus of the Bible is the religious history of the Israelites, the Jews who descended from them, and the Christians whose religion emerged from Judaism. Nevertheless, it does mention the civilizations of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Romans. A person with no knowledge of the Bible could still know that those civilizations existed from archaeological remains, and from writings these people left, as well as writings others left about them.

    There is no mention of the Nephites and Lamanites outside of the Book of Mormon. There is no mention in the Book of Mormon of Indian civilizations and nations that we know existed.

    • "The focus of the Bible is the religious history of the Israelites, the Jews who descended from them, and the Christians whose religion emerged from Judaism. Nevertheless, it does mention the civilizations of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Romans. A person with no knowledge of the Bible could still know that those civilizations existed from archaeological remains, and from writings these people left, as well as writings others left about them. "

      1. The Bible covers a much larger span of time.

      2. Travel and trade on a large scale were very well established in the Old World, which was not only facilitated by the geography of that area, but also rendered more necessary by the scarcity of resources. Travel in a tropical jungle area is quite difficult, and the ready availability of resources makes trade less of a necessity.

      3. Other civilizations were highly relevant to the spiritual history of the Israelites. When another civilization destroys the spiritual center of a civilization and takes all its inhabitants captive, that's something to be mentioned. Had this not happened, there would likely be less mention of the Babylonians in the Bible.

      4. The Bible was an ad hoc collection of original writings put together by men. The Book of Mormon was focused summary created by a prophet who had specific instructions from God to include only certain things. While it is to be expected that there would be similarities, it is also reasonable to expect there to be differences.

      5. "There is no mention of the Nephites and Lamanites outside of the Book of Mormon." – That we have yet found, and there is much archeological work yet to be performed. We have barely scratched the surface.

      6. "There is no mention in the Book of Mormon of Indian civilizations and nations that we know existed." – And there is no reason for them to have been mentioned if they were not relevant to the spiritual history of the Nephites.

  14. Yes, we can say that at that one point in time the Nephite civilization numbered no less than a few hundred thousand. But this is a small number when it comes to civilizations, easily confined to a limited geographic area. If this is as large as the civilization ever got, then it is not hard to understand how they could have lived in relative isolation.

  15. “unlike the Nephites and Mamanites, left archaeological remains of their existence.”

    The Nephites likely did leave some sort of archeological remains, but either we haven’t found them yet, or we have found them but haven’t identified them as being Nephite. There are thousands of known archeological sites that have not yet been excavated, and there are entire civilizations in Central America which archeologists know existed, but they as yet know virtually nothing else about them, other than that they were there. We are at a very early stage of research in the area.

    – Joshua Steimle

    ——-

    Actually we are in a very late stage of research in the area. Latin America is heavily populated. Remains of Indian civilizations have been heavily excavated for decades, or even centuries. Here again you are basing your argument on evidence that has not been discovered yet, and evidence for which there is no reason to believe exists, other than your desire that it exists.

    If millions of Semites lived in the New World for a thousand years prior to the coming of Columbus, there would be plenty of evidence of that.

  16. “The Book of Ether says that the Jaredites came from the Near East.”

    Where does it say this?

    – Joshua Steimle

    ——

    Ether 2:1 "And it came to pass that Jared and his brother, and their families and also the friends of Jared and his brother and their families, went down into the valley which was northward, (and the name of the Valley was Nimrod, being called after the mighty hunter) with their flocks which they had gathered together, male and female of every kind.

  17. 1. The Bible covers a much larger span of time.

    – Joshua Steimle

    ——–

    At most, from the time of Abraham to the time of the crucifixion is two thousand years, or twice the time span of the Book of Mormon.

  18. "Actually we are in a very late stage of research in the area. Latin America is heavily populated. Remains of Indian civilizations have been heavily excavated for decades, or even centuries."

    The Western world didn't even know of the existence of the Maya until the mid 1800s, and nothing that could be called sophisticated archeological research can be said to have been performed until the 20th century. Most of what we know has been discovered within the past few decades.

    I have personally traveled in Guatemala and Mexico looking at ruins, and have seen hundreds of unexcavated sites. I have been told that there are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of known sites that have, as yet, not been excavated. There are areas in the uninhabited countryside of Mexico where you can drive for hours, passing ruins every minute, and few, if any, of them have been excavated. Many of the best-known archeological sites have still not been fully excavated. It can take decades to fully excavate a single site covering one or two acres. They leave many of them buried because as soon as they remove the dirt and plant material then the rains start to destroy the ruins, and they simply lack the manpower and financial resources to do the work necessary to preserve them.

    If you want to claim that we are in a late stage of archeological research in Central America then fine, but I will respectfully disagree based on my firsthand experiences.

    "Here again you are basing your argument on evidence that has not been discovered yet, and evidence for which there is no reason to believe exists, other than your desire that it exists. "

    I am not saying the Book of Mormon is true based on evidence that has not been discovered. I am merely saying that the lack of evidence cannot be used as a credible argument against the Book of Mormon, because we possess only a small sliver of information about the ancient civilizations of Central America and there is still much to be learned. What you are claiming, in essence, is "We've done 1% of the archeological work to be done in Central America, and there is no mention of the Book of Mormon people, therefore the Book of Mormon is false." The natural question would be "What about the other 99%?"

  19. . “There is no mention in the Book of Mormon of Indian civilizations and nations that we know existed.” – And there is no reason for them to have been mentioned if they were not relevant to the spiritual history of the Nephites.

    – Joshua Steimle

    ———

    The Indian civilizations that existed were polytheistic and practiced human sacrifice. If the Nephites existed they would have taken notice of this. It certainly would have been relevant to their spiritual history.

  20. The Western world didn’t even know of the existence of the Maya until the mid 1800s.

    – Joshua Steimle

    ——–

    Shortly after their first expeditions to the region [in the mid 1500s], the Spanish initiated a number of attempts to subjugate the Maya who were hostile towards the Spanish crown and establish a colonial presence in the Maya territories of the Yucatán Peninsula and the Guatemalan highlands. This campaign, sometimes termed "The Spanish Conquest of Yucatán," would prove to be a lengthy and dangerous exercise for the conquistadores from the outset, and it would take some 170 years and tens of thousands of Indian auxiliaries before the Spanish established substantive control over all Maya lands.

    Unlike the Aztec and Inca Empires, there was no single Maya political center that, once overthrown, would hasten the end of collective resistance from the indigenous peoples. Instead, the conquistador forces needed to subdue the numerous independent Maya polities almost one by one, many of which kept up a fierce resistance. Most of the conquistadores were motivated by the prospects of the great wealth to be had from the seizure of precious metal resources such as gold or silver; however, the Maya lands themselves were poor in these resources. This would become another factor in forestalling Spanish designs of conquest, as they instead were initially attracted to the reports of great riches in central Mexico or Peru.

    The Spanish Church and government officials destroyed Maya texts and with them the knowledge of Maya writing, but by chance three of the pre-Columbian books dated to the post classic period have been preserved.[which?][18] The last Maya states, the Itza polity of Tayasal and the Ko'woj city of Zacpeten, were continuously occupied and remained independent of the Spanish until late in the 17th century. They were finally subdued by the Spanish in 1697.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_civilization

    • Regarding the Maya, sorry, I was in error, but allow me to clarify. It wasn't until John Lloyd Stephens visited the Mayan sites in 1839 and subsequently published his book with various drawings of the ruins that the Mayans became known by the general population of the United States and Europe in any substantive fashion.

  21. Ether 2:1 “And it came to pass that Jared and his brother, and their families and also the friends of Jared and his brother and their families, went down into the valley which was northward, (and the name of the Valley was Nimrod, being called after the mighty hunter) with their flocks which they had gathered together, male and female of every kind.

    Do we know where the Valley of Nimrod was? Or the Tower of Babel? You may correct that the Jaredites came from the Near East, or that this is a reasonable assumption. This is not a matter I have looked into much. I'm just questioning your assumptions to further the dialogue. Here's an interesting webpage that's relevant to the subject.

  22. "The Indian civilizations that existed were polytheistic and practiced human sacrifice. If the Nephites existed they would have taken notice of this. It certainly would have been relevant to their spiritual history."

    Why would this have been relevant to their spiritual history if it didn't directly impact their civilization? Which part of the Book of Mormon would have been the appropriate place to mention the religious practices of what the Nephites would have considered far-distant civilizations that had no effect on the Nephites? What reason would God have to include such information in the Book of Mormon?

  23. Posted by: Joshua Steimle on July 7, 2011 at 11:43 am
    Ether 2:1 “And it came to pass that Jared and his brother, and their families and also the friends of Jared and his brother and their families, went down into the valley which was northward, (and the name of the Valley was Nimrod, being called after the mighty hunter) with their flocks which they had gathered together, male and female of every kind.

    Do we know where the Valley of Nimrod was? Or the Tower of Babel? You may correct that the Jaredites came from the Near East, or that this is a reasonable assumption. This is not a matter I have looked into much. I’m just questioning your assumptions to further the dialogue. Here’s an interesting webpage that’s relevant to the subject.

    – Joshua Steimle

    ———

    Genesis 11:2 states that the Tower of Babel was built in the land of Shinar. The land of Shinar was in what is now Iraq. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinar

    It is clear from the Book of Ether that the Jaredites came to the New World by crossing the Atlantic Ocean. They were not American Indians. The ancestors of the Indians came here by crossing the Bering Strait over ten thousand years ago. DNA evidence clearly links them to those who currently live in north east Siberia.

    If the Jaredites were not Semites, they were certainly Caucasians. If the Book of Mormon is true it has to be the case that millions of Caucasians lived in the New World for centuries before the time of Columbus without leaving any evidence of their existence: nothing in the archaeological record, nothing in the DNA of the Indians.

    You respond that the evidence has not been discovered yet. The only reason you believe that is because you want to.

    You are a businessman, and seem to be a successful one. If you used this kind of reasoning in your business, you would have lost it long ago. Bad management decisions can cripple or destroy businesses, even large corporations. In order to avoid bad management decisions one should have an unsentimental awareness of the difference between truth and falsehood. Believing something because you want to, with no evidence at all, is dangerous in any field.

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