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Guest Lux

Cave Containing the Plates

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mormon fool

As I stated on my web site, I believe that the only witness we have relative to Book of Mormon geography is the text of the book itself and the geography past and present of the American continents. Since the book does not name the location of the place where Moroni buried the plates, BY's statement about the cave being in the Hill Cumorah in NY is not exactly relevant.

From what I have read and I cant go into detail, the accounts of the other two witness's relative to this event do not agree with BY's description. Since BY's statement is a recall of a conversation with Oliver Cowdery that took place many years earlier in his lifetime. I tend to believe the other two accounts and feel that BY heard the account based on his background and experience which by that time included the general belief in the Church that The Hill Cumorah in NY was the same as the Hill Cumorah as mentioned in the Book of Mormon. It may even be that Oliver by the time he spoke with BY was influenced by that belief. As for the Zelph story, the account as written in the manuscript history of the Church contains a number of edits which were not taken into account in the published version.

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mormon fool

As I stated on my web site, I believe that the only witness we have relative to Book of Mormon geography is the text of the book itself and the geography past and present of the American continents.

Thanks for you response, poulsenll. It is good to hear from one who has put more thought into the issue than I. I consider all the points you make valid and I hope those that are confused by Brigham Young's remarks will take them into account. There is no need to force a choice between Brigham Young's prophet-hood and current efforts to look for the Nephite Cumorah outside of New York.


In my continuing quest to be useful, I also searched the FAIR archives and found this topic had sure enough been discussed already. The thread link is posted below and worth checking out. Dr. Peterson made some particularly thoughtful remarks.


What about the fact that it's hearsay?

That weakens its value as evidence, but doesn't prove the account altogether false.

First, what indicators are there in the story that this is a vision and not a physical, natural experience?

There are no explicit indications, one way or the other. And I didn't say that I could prove it to be a vision.

I did, however, say that "it sounds like a vision to me." This for several reasons. I've alluded to two of them: First, the idea that the hill actually opened up seems unlikely to me, among other things because I presume that such an opening would have made noise and been noticeable. Second, because I do not believe that there are likely to be caves in a glacial drumlin. A third reason might simply be that such a divine action seems somewhat out of character to me. And a fourth reason would surely be that I see no compelling reason not to take the experience as a visionary one.

But if it turns out to have been a literal opening of the New York hill, I'll be fine with that.

And you seem to base your subsequent assumptions on the belief that when God opens up doors to secret caves in hills, it makes a great deal of noise.

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This does not look so pedestrian. Some sort of supernatural event occurred when the

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Guest Lux

Great posts guys. I'm moving more to the visionary explanation myself. I think that Freedom has made a significant point about the light. I also never took into consideration the element of time. Are they seeing the past, present, future, or none of these (time suspended/independent - or - the Lord's time)? Are they being presented something symbolic?

The more I think about it, the more I understand that there are just some things that cannot be understood until we see them for ourselves. Describing the finger of the Lord and seeing it are two completely different things. If you saw it, could you accurately describe it? The key word is accurately.

Until . . .


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Here are a few of my thoughts,

Brigham Young made this remark in 1877, three months before his death. We don't know precisely when the incedent in question took place, but I think a safe guess would be around 1830. That makes 47 years between the event and Brigham's telling of the event.

I am slightly less than 47 years old and as I thought about this, two things came to mind:

1- Several years ago, my siblings and I were sitting around a table reminiscing about our younger years. We had great fun telling of old family experiences. What I found interesting was that in many cases, the stories were not remembered in the same way by all the siblings (there are eight of us). In some cases, rather significant aspects of the same events were remembered very diffirently. Now these events occured, no more than 25 years prior to our discussion.

2- Several years ago, I had a remarkable dream. this dream came to me after fervent prayer as I was looking for certain answers. The dream was detailed and had a powerful impact on me. I will not relay the details of the dream, but after I woke up I determined this dream was so significant and powerful I should record it in my journal which I did. As the years past, I, on rare occaissions felt impressed to share some of this dream with others, which I have done only a very few times. After having told the dream a few times, one day I decided to reread my journal entry. To my surprise, I found that I had not recounted the dream quite accurately. As powerful as the dream was, even after a few short years, I forgot some of the details of my own experience.

Now, I don't think I need to go into detail on how this relates to the discussion.

In the Bible, we read of Paul telling of this experience:

2 Corinthinas Chapter 12

1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

When Paul had a vision, he wasn't sure if it was real or not.

Heber C Kimball, tells the story as though it was a vision:

How does it compare with the vision that Joseph and others had, when they went into a cave in the hill Cumorah, and saw more records than ten men could carry? There were books piled up on tables, book upon book. Those records this people will yet have, if they accept of the Book of Mormon and observe its precepts, and keep the commandments.

I think it was a vision and that it is also possible that Brigham's account of the event was not entirely accurate. Although, there is really nothing in his account that would preclude it from being a vision.

Critics seem to impose impossible conditions on those that they criticise that they would never consider imposing on themselves. Mormon leaders must all have perfect memories and must communicate everything they say in such a manner that no one could possibly missunderstand them. If they say anything, it must be 100% accurate or else they are blatant liars. To the critics there is no other option.

Hope that all makes sense.


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Lux: Ok folks, help me out with this one. If the BOM lands are to be found in Central America, then how is this explained? I'm really struggling with this right now.

Rather than giving you the answer, it may be more benefitial to offer some tools of evalution (in the form of questions) which you may use to come to your own conclusion.

1. Was the account first or second-plus hand? (At a minimum, this story was told secondhand--Cowdery and others to Young, and recorded by someone else, and published by yet another person. Young also intimated that the story came from various sources--Oliver, Carlos Smith, Hyrum, etc.. Given some of the phrasing, there is good reason to believe that the story was a composite, pieced together by Young.). The rule of thumb is: the more hands through which the story is passed, the greater the chance for error.

2. If it is secondhand-plus, Was it corroborated by firsthand accounts or empirical evidence? (I have yet to see anthing in Joseph Smith's extensive personal history, or in the journals or writings of Oliver Cowdery, or Carlos and Hyrum Smith, that makes even the slightest mention of this story. In fact, Brigham mentions that Oliver and others "didn't take the liberty to tell such things in meeting." Also, it doesn't fit very well the firsthand accounts about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, particularly Joseph's account of finding the gold plates in a small stone box at the top of the hill, and testimony of Oliver and others who also saw the stone box.) The rule of thumb is: the less corrobaration, the less confidence one may have in its accuracy.

3. How recent or late was the recollection? (It is uncertain how much time lapsed between Oliver's "experience" and his telling of that experience to Brigham. But, there was likely over 35 years between Olivers account and Brighams conveying that account to others. It is uncertain how much time lapsed between the time Brigham told the story at Stake Conference in Farmington, and the story being recorded and published). The rule of thumb is, the greater the lapse of time, the greater the chance for inaccuracy.

4. How clear, specific, and exacting is the recollection? (This story lacks sufficient specificity for us to determine when it occured--making it impossible to test it against other historical data; if it was a real experience, a vision, a dream, or just a story; and We can't even be certain what hill is being referred to, and where that hill was located. Etc.) The rule of thumb is, the greater the ambiguity and vagueness, the less confidence one may have in its accuracy, significance, and meaning.

5. What is the context? (Unlike other events in Church history, rather than proferring this story as evidence in support of the Book of Mormon as an ancient document, it was couched within a broader message about the dangers of finding money--i.e prospecting for gold or silver, and the need for the saints to focus on matters of true importance--matters sometime hidden from the world. It also was disclosed one time at a stake conference, and was not intended as an official pronouncement by the Church.)

I hope this helps. Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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All approaches to history are suspect in this regard. Because the comments are attributed to Bringham Young we are for some reason expected to give it more credit than if it were stated by any other educated person. I find it fascinating how history text books change over time, not because history changes, but because the way we interpret it changes. 30 years ago we had movies about nasty red Indians killing gentle civilized European settlers; in the 90s we had movies about nasty white Europeans slaughtering gentle civilized aboriginals.

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