Bring on the Offense
Robert A. Pate
Using a simple pattern recognition approach for historical names, I was permitted to locate virtually all of the lands and cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The early results were published in 2002 under the title, “Mapping the Book of Mormon, A Comprehensive Geography of Nephite America” and the most current map is on the web site mormontopics.com.
In 2003 I attended the first symposium of the Book of Mormon Archaeology Forum (BMAF) at Thanksgiving Point. Arriving early, I was met at the door by Joseph L. Allen. I introduced myself and he said, “I am reading your book.” I met and chatted freely with many of the guests.
Before the beginning of the second day’s activities, I was met in the mezzanine by a person I think was Blake Allen. He proceeded to inform me that this was their conference and they would appreciate it if I would keep my ideas to myself. I thought it was a forum. Joseph Allen or Dave Asay would know who was sicced on me – they were the only two that knew me. Since then, BMAF has taken a more liberal posture. It is now more like a forum – if you are an insider. Out of academic fairness (an oxymoron if there ever was one) I have been permitted to work with Doug Christensen to present my Book of Mormon geography model on the BMAF web site.
Along about 2004 I attended a DNA forum at BYU. There I met Dan Peterson and gave him a copy of my first book. He forwarded the copy to Brant Gardner for review. Brant beat me over the head with the John Sorenson stick and the linguistic stick, with a whack from Nahuatl of which he had some knowledge, then added some condescending remarks, and it was out the door. He did not review the proposed map and apply Mormon’s evaluation standards.
Shortly thereafter, Allen Christensen determined that I had intruded onto his linguistic turf and felt the need to set me straight with his review, also published in FARMS. I had thought that the name Kaminal Juyú might have had some aboriginal roots, but he correctly let me know that it was a modern name applied by a modern archaeologist – a correction that is completely insignificant to the solution of the puzzle. Again, he did not review the proposed map and apply Mormon’s evaluation standards.
I use his Quiché Dictionary extensively. I need and have solicited his help, but it is not forthcoming until the academic winds change. In his review, the substance of his case was that, “because the necessary tools to carry out such a line of research are dauntingly difficult to master by any one person”, I must have failed by setting for myself an “impossible task” – “intriguing”, but no cigar, “it lacks the well informed scholarship and discipline that such a study would require to be persuasive.” That would have been useful, but we had already spread the fertilizer and plowed the fields for the fall. I still need, and want, and have solicited his help – the puzzle has been solved, but there is so much more to be learned and verified to the satisfaction of all.
My Ph.D. is in Mechanical Engineering not Pre-Columbian Art History. In Engineering we do not have the privilege of requiring “perfection”. We have to get things done. Ours is a world of “close enough”. We do not have the luxury to talk about the problems forever.
I have waded through many books of horse crap searching for a nugget here or a nugget there. It was a price I was willing to pay to find the answers to Mormon’s puzzle, but now I have little patience with pompous individuals who hang around the hallowed halls, obstructing progress, and putting down every idea they cannot call their own.
Other than these two reviews, the solution has been completely ignored by the BYU crowd. I attended the BMAF conference in Salt Lake in 2012 and introduced myself to V. Garth Norman, a very nice gentleman and scholar. He said, “We know who you are; I have read your two books. You have a good mind.”
Nothing changes. A lot of exciting fluff is being discovered but they are not getting any closer to the real solution. The progress has been so imperceptibly slow that it permits charlatans to come in and harvest the fool’s money. They are still shackled to some mistaken assumptions of the past. Their approach has not and will not work. They need an anchor point to start from, and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is not it.
Let’s stir the pot. Based on Clay Christensen’s “Innovator’s Dilemma,” they will not change their minds until their businesses shut down. To entertain a new idea, while their product is still selling, they are loath to do.
It is a travesty to have the world reject the Book of Mormon for lack of physical evidence while members sit on their butts defending their turf, tour business, and book sales. Only after the puzzle is solved can the archaeologists dig in the correct areas and find the really supportive evidence that is waiting to be discovered. Let’s make it happen.
Let’s propose some ground rules for this engagement. Bring all the knowledge of the world to bear on this problem, but use Mormons words to support or refute proposed models. He owns the puzzle. If a model cannot stand up to chapter and verse scrutiny, it is not worth pursuing further. That is the nature of this, Mormon’s Puzzle. If there is not an appropriate archaeological footprint in space and time commensurate with Mormon’s descriptions, then a proposed site fails Mormon’s chapter and verse tests based on lack of supporting archaeological testimony. Is that simple enough? Let’s get all the assumptions or interpretations on the table and sort them out for merit, avoiding the subterfuge provided by the two reviewers mentioned.
It is not a trivial matter for me to take the offensive. Patience is usually considered a virtue and the non-confrontational route, the preferred. Some healthy confrontation and exchange is needed to sort out the many and varied models. Unfortunately too many have their own agenda and are willing to sacrifice the worthy goal of truly finding Mormon’s geography.
But this is a war that started in the pre-existence and continues to this day. What would Captain Moroni do? The enemy is known and it should not be “us”. It is my objective to help present to the world credible and verified data supporting the Book of Mormon as real geography and real history. As we enter the Millennium, it is time to dispel the critics and give them no leg to stand on; thus permitting the world to take a more objective look at that Book of Mormon.
The battle is on and the weapons should be chapter and verse from the Book of Mormon. The BMAF or FAIR could be an excellent place to really examine and understand the passages that are sending the model developers in such diverse directions.