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Posted by: spanner ( )
Date: April 25, 2012 08:14PM

While Free Inquiry have been looking at Joseph Smith, Mormonism, and Polygamy, their sister publication the Skeptical Inquirer has been looking at the "evidence-based" claims of the Heartland model and the FIRM documentary "The Lost Civilizations of North America"

The Heartland model is basically a recognition that attempts to locate the lands of the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica are futile, and that Joseph Smith and his contemporaries believed the land they were living on and travelling through, was the land of the BoMor.

A group of scholars have published their rebuttal to the documentary in the Skeptical Inquirer, and lucky for us, the three articles are all online (SI is a print magazine, only a few articles are posted online).

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Posted by: spanner ( )
Date: April 26, 2012 05:51AM

Just to add for those who are interested, the third link above gives the Haplogroup X DNA evidence a sound debunking.

This supposed "scientific evidence" gets trotted out in support of BoMor historicity generally, not just the Heartland model, so it pays to be familiar with it.

The advantage of these CSI articles is that they are totally neutral religion-wise. They just look at the claims that have been made and subject then to standard historical and scientific inquiry.

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Posted by: spanner ( )
Date: April 27, 2012 06:16AM

Shameless self topping for anyone with loved ones who have bought into the heartland model.

The temptation is to let them buy into it it, and deny the liklihood of the mesoamerican model. Then when, based on the heartland documentation, they reject the mesoamerican model for the heartland model, you dump the contradictory evidence for the heartland model on them. This is exactly why the Maxwell institute are so antagonistic to the heartland model. They (FIRM) expose the fatal flaws in the mesoamerican model -that Maxwell would rather be overlooked, but the replacement model they propose is at least as flawed, and because they make specific historical/scientific claims the model has been debunked by ranking academics. At least the mesoamerican proponents have been vague enough to avoid attracting attention.

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Posted by: Stray Mutt ( )
Date: April 27, 2012 10:10AM

...from these articles (oh, yeah, like they'd ever read them) it would be that there was a subculture of pious hoaxers in 19th-century America, all eager to prove ancient Hebrews came to the New World. JS's claims weren't original.

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Posted by: spanner ( )
Date: April 27, 2012 08:18PM

Exactly, that the Indians were a degenerate lost tribe was a popular belief. Someone else may know more about this, but I believe that Ethan Smith, who wrote View of the Hebrews either taught the topic at a university or learned it at a university. S it was taken reasonably seriously, which is probably why the Book of Mormon seemed so plausible back then.

Uncle Dale has VotH here:

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Posted by: Uncle Dale ( )
Date: April 29, 2012 04:22AM

spanner Wrote:
> View of the Hebrews... was taken reasonably seriously,
> which is probably why the Book of Mormon seemed so
> plausible back then.

I've come across a few religious writers who endorsed
Ethan Smith's Israelite-Indians idea -- but his views were
clearly out of the mainstream, when it came to comparison
against the major Christian denominations of his day.

Christianity generally taught that the ancient biblical
promises, blessings, predictions, etc. were relegated to
the Church, in a spiritual sense -- and no longer resided
among the Jews and their Israelite cousins.

Thus -- there was no reason to "gather scattered Israel" as
Ethan Smith hoped to do, as a prelude to the second advent
and the coming millennium.

Ethan Smith, then, was stepping outside of the traditional
orthodox teachings of Christianity, when he suggested that
American Indians be shipped to Jerusalem, in order to fulfil
his interpretation of biblical prophecy.

Ethan's narrow-minded literalism seemed entirely reasonable
to the early Mormons, however. They were intrigued by the
same "restoration of Israel" biblical passages that caught
Ethan's attention. This does not necessarily mean that the
first Mormons borrowed ALL of their Israelite-Indians conceits
from Ethan Smith, however. Other writers presented much the
same ideas, and the newspapers of the 1820s spread those ideas
even to half-illiterate frontiersmen, who would have never
bothered to crack a book on that topic.

The prevailing explanation for Indian origins, even before
Ethan's day, was that their ancestors had migrated from
Siberia -- and that they were of Mongolian descent.

It is highly doubtful that ANY ancient Israelites or Jews
ever made it to the Americas. If any did happen to arrive
on American shores, they probably did so in company with
Phoenician sailors, and quickly disappeared. I'd give
that possibility about a 1% chance of historical fact.

The Brethren are doing their members a great diservice by
clinging to this idiotic explanation for preColumbian
Ameticans' origins. They should be ashamed of themselves.


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Posted by: pathdocmd ( )
Date: April 29, 2012 03:54AM

Thanks for the links to the rebuttals. The part about Hebrew writing in America got my interest. The link FAIR gives defending it uses quotes from Glen Beck.

He sure got sucked in to Mormonism and is playing a fool! Poor guy.

I can't believe even Mormons would take vacation to see Zelph's mound. Of course the bones aren't there anymore. Of course, God removes stuff like that because he wants people to believe the BofM based on faith only.

If there is anyone out there who would make the huge sacrifice to go on this tour just to be the secretly embedded antagonist (asking awkward questions in a seemly sincere manor), I would donate $100 to help cover the costs.

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Posted by: spanner ( )
Date: April 30, 2012 04:31AM

I should point out that FIRM who are responsible for the DVD Documentary are a completely different outfit to FAIR, the unofficial apologists attached to BYU.

FIRM have attracted retired general authorities, Alan Osmond, Glenn Beck, and similar attractive spokespeople. That does not mitigate their presentation of total bollocks.

Watch this space for official action being taken against FIRM spokespeople. They may be serving an interim function by bolstering faith in the short term, but when their victims discover they have been duped, total loss of faith is a likely outcome. This guy may be doing more to swell the ranks of RFM than a Jeffery Holland Conference address.

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