Frequently Asked Questions:
- The Book of Mormon describes the “land of promise” as a “choice land” where agriculture was practiced and seeds flourished…Isn’t Baja California mostly just a desert?
- The answer to this question is simply “Yes”, but if you’re familiar with the text of the Book of Mormon, you might take note of how often it speaks of “wildernesses” as opposed to “fruitful” lands. This difference alone does not mean that the word “wilderness” could only refer to a desert, but the text is full of references to wildernesses where the people who practice agriculture do not live. In various stories you hear of people experiencing “famine” in the wilderness or being driven into a wilderness to perish or having to share water (ie: the waters of Sebus) with hostile groups. Although it is correct to call many types of natural terrain “wildernesses”, the desert landscapes of Baja California present a setting that matches the details described in the Book of Mormon very well.
- Of course, Nephi speaks of both the place of his first landing and the location of his first city as being good locations for agriculture and for obtaining ores. The cape region of Baja provides an excellent setting for this description. The land of Helam, which is clearly separated from the City of Nephi by wilderness areas, is also described as being a good location for growing crops. The Land of Helam presented in this model matches up well with those references in the text. Also, the land of Zarahemla presented in this model is anchored in the largest oasis in all of the peninsula and is surrounded by desert wilderness areas exactly as described in the text.
- In this model of the Book of Mormon lands there are fertile lands where there are supposed to be fertile lands and there are wildernesses where there are supposed to be wildernesses. When you consider that Baja California is a place where fertile lands are found in geographically restricted areas, the fact that those places are distributed in a way that matches up well to the Book of Mormon text is a significant strength to the model.
- Also related to this question is the question of Changes in Climate that may have occurred during and after Book of Mormon times.
- What differences are there between the model presented here and the other Baja model presented at achoiceland.com?
- Lynn and David Rosenvall have done a great job with their work both with identifying many places that match Book of Mormon geography and with communicating their model to the LDS community.
- The model they present and the model presented here are very similar in the center of the Baja peninsula, with references to the river Sidon, the City of Zarahemla, and the Land Bountiful matching each other very well. In fact, many of the places where our model matches theirs are similar because their work was done well and helped us to identify many of those places for this model. We want to express our thanks for the research they have done.
- When it comes to differences between the two models, the model they present is generally more geographically restricted than the model presented here. In other words, as you travel North of Bountiful and South of Zarahemla, the distances from place to place are often shorter than distances in this presentation.
- For a more detailed comparison of the models, please see our Model Comparison page.
- What is an “internal model” and why don’t we publish an internal-only model of our interpretation of geographical references in the Book of Mormon?
- Many authors publish their own internal models of the geography described in the Book of Mormon. Internal models are a representation of how an author interprets the references in the text, regardless of any external (real-world) model. These internal models are then compared to real-world locations in hopes of identifying the actual lands of the Book of Mormon.
The idea behind internal models is that if a real-world location can be found that matches all of the aspects of the model that it could be the physical setting where the events described in the Book of Mormon actually took place. Some authors take this a step further and say that if it can be proven that only one real-world area matches all of the requirements of the internal model that the area can be identified as the lands of Book of Mormon.
It is easy to see why internal models seem like an obvious, useful tool for searching for locations mentioned in the Book of Mormon, but internal models tend to mask ambiguity. When ambiguity is not properly recognized in an internal model it creates a tendency to add constraints to the model which are not supported by the text. These false requirements can be very difficult to detect in an internal model.
An example of a false requirement that seems to exist in every internal model of Book of Mormon lands is that a sea must exist east of the Hill Cumorah. The story of Omer seems to state quite clearly that a sea exists east of Cumorah by saying that Omer “came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore”.
Since seashores aren’t seashores without seas, it would seem logical to conclude that by traveling east from the place the Nephites were destroyed, you would run into a sea. That makes sense. It is the most likely interpretation of the text so all internal models naturally place a sea east of Cumorah, but this is a false requirement. The fallacy of this logic is the seemingly natural assumption that the sea is east of the seashore. Please take note that our model clearly demonstrates that you can travel east of Cumorah to reach the north shore of the Sea of Cortez. This real-world location fits the text of the Book of Mormon precisely but contradicts the internal models derived from the text.
Taking a step back to really consider the purpose of internal models demonstrates that they are simply an interpreted abstraction of the actual text. Internal models are good at deriving “most likely” scenarios, but if use them to add constraints to external models then we are trusting in two things that are untrustworthy:
1. Human judgement of what is or isn’t “likely”.
2. Assuming that the “most-likely” interpretation is the only reasonable interpretation.
Our model strives to adhere to the requirements of the text without running the risk of injecting unsupported abstractions derived from internal models. We do not place a layer between the external model and the text itself. We present the model by quoting all of the geographical references from the actual text while showing a series of maps which demonstrate how the text correlates to the model.
- What does all this website prove?
The current debate about whether or not the Book of Mormon can be “proven” to be true using geography, archaeology, and ethnology is at best confusing and at worst, just weird.
On one side of the argument you have people like me who honestly believe the Book of Mormon is true, not because scientific evidence convinced us of it, but because religious experiences convince us of it. Unfortunately, this can lead us to want to fill in the scientific blanks so badly that sometimes you will find some of us misinterpreting science in order to make it fit what we believe. When our misinterpretations turn out to be wrong, human nature can set in and make us feel defensive and start to invent explanations instead of just admitting that we don’t know why the science doesn’t seem match up…yet.
Of course, on another side of the argument you have some people who, for various reasons, may have hard feelings towards some of us or who just like to stir the pot and accentuate this problem that we can have with our feelings.
And on yet another side of this argument you have the poor, good scientists who refuse to abandon the tenets of their profession just to help us feel better about our religion.
As this debate continues to degenerate, some of us often like to make arguments attempting to convince people that circumstantial correlations between what the text of the Book of Mormon says and things that modern science puts forward are equivalent to proof of The Book of Mormon’s historicity. This is a fallacy. Even if we could prove that American Indians had the general genetic ancestry required by the Book of Mormon and even if we could prove that prehistoric Americans had all the metallurgy, machines, chariots, domesticated animals, weapons, and language that the Book of Mormon text indicates, this would all still be circumstantial. All of those things could have come to the Americas other ways.
By saying this I’m not suggesting that there is no way that The Book of Mormon could ever be be proven to be an historical record. I’d love to see that proof come to light someday, but what I’m saying is that the current debate tends to make people think that stuff like I present here on this website constitutes that proof. It does not. I do not pretend that it does. This is why this website is really only useful to an LDS audience. If a person believes The Book of Mormon is true based on reasons besides science then I think that the information presented here is quite intriguing, but if the same information is presented to an audience where the historicity of The Book of Mormon is in question, then all that I present here is circumstantial, it is not scientific proof…yet 😉