1. Know something is true (Scriptures)
2. Believe something is true
3. Believe something is false
4. Know something is false
There are other variables but this gives you the basics.
Known or Unknown Truth?
→The Book of Mormon is the Word of God, and a Real History of a Real People?
→The Hill Cumorah where Joseph Smith found the gold plates, and in that same area is where the Nephites fought their last battle, both of which are near Manchester, New York?
→The New Jerusalem will be built in Missouri?
→Adam-ondi-Ahman where Adam met his posterity is in Daviess County, Missouri?
→The “Plains of the Nephites” as described by Joseph Smith are in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio)?
→Zelph’s mound is near Valley City, Illinois?
→Zarahemla is across from Nauvoo near Montrose, Iowa?
→Manti of the Book of Mormon is in southeastern Missouri near Huntsville?
“Many proposed Book of Mormon geography theories were originated using a method proposed by Dr. John Sorenson and others who taught that the first step was to create a hypothetical or “internal” map using the 500+ geography related passages. This has lead to more than 150 different proposed geographies. The book was not written for its geography, but for its prophecies. Can we learn more about its geography through its prophecies than we can by speculating using hypothetical maps? Following is a brief synopsis of the scriptural basis for the Heartland Model geography of the Book of Mormon.
“From my own experience, starting any geography quest using distances and other unknown truths as a primary guide is untenable because it can, and does, vary tremendously.
Is the distance involved based on walking, marching, riding their horses, canoeing, or other transport?
If on a river are they traveling with or against the current?
If walking or marching are they being pursued?
How much farther would someone travel in a day if they are casually moving their family to a new home, or if the threat of attack is imminent?
How far can several days journey take you if you are traveling in winter or summer?
How much longer would a journey take if food is naturally available and abundant vs. scarce, such as in winter?
How much distance would it change if you had flocks and herds involved vs without animals?
What about dealing with local issues such as swamps, creeks, rivers, vegetation, flooding, storms, lack of water, terrain, elevation change, etc?
Then there’s the question of conditioning of the traveler, their relative age, the condition of those in a group which could greatly effect the potential distance traveled.
In other words, I think you are ignoring a fundamental tenet of finding truth. We are taught to begin any quest for truth by beginning from a foundation of something known to be true, and then build upon it line upon line, precept upon precept.
If you start from a concept not based in fact then you often end up creating a house of cards based on a false precept. Speculation breeds more and more speculation. Beginning with something that is known to be true is the only sure way to find additional truth.
Only if all of the above questions can be clearly answered for every instance can we conclude that you are beginning from a known truth. If not, then you are beginning with speculations about travel distance and time possibilities, which, vary orders of magnitude. I suppose one could create a maximum and minimum range of possible travel taking into account all the variables, but my guess is in doing so, you defeat your own purpose in attempting to limit or create certain barriers to acceptance of the proposed geography based on those limitations. In other words, how many geographies wouldn’t fit the narrative if a “day’s journey” ranged from 1 mile (presumably the minimum distance one might travel if herding sheep through dense undergrowth, carrying them uphill across a couple rain-swollen creeks, while keeping track of the kids and carrying your tents, cooking pots, food, water, all your clothes, extra tools, etc., and then one of them gets a stomach ache so you stop for the night), to let’s just say a maximum of 120 miles (presumably a Nephite ultra runner in flat unobstructed terrain with only a loincloth and a pouch with enough food/water for one day). How many geographies do you think will be eliminated by imposing the restriction that any days journey must fall somewhere between 1 and 120 miles per day? I doubt any fall outside these parameters, so what is accomplished? Nothing, unless we can account for every variable…which is impossible with the information we have from the text.
How about this….
1. We start by understanding how many promised lands Christ outlined in His visit with the Nephites. Simple answer: 2. Jerusalem/Israel and New Jerusalem/USA. This is beginning from a basis in fact, i.e. the words of Christ (Assuming His words are truth and the BofM is correct).
2. Then we identify where those promised lands are located. Easy enough. Cainan and Canaan or Jerusalem and New Jerusalem. Today Israel and USA. All scripture based, no speculation. We know where these places are and that Christ provided that information.
3. We examine the 36 prophecies in the BofM to establish which nation in the Americas best matches them. Simple. All based on scripture but involving some interpretation. When all 36 prophecies are fulfilled, and by only one nation, we now know which nation is involved.
4. We examine the words of the Lord to Joseph Smith i.e. the D&C 28, 30, 32 involving missions to “the Lamanites.” We assume here that the Lord chose the word “Lamanites” and that the Lord knows where the remnant Lamanites are located. This step is scripture based. We then examine to whom they went, using historical accounts. The Lord guided them to “Lamanites” in NY, OH and MO. Historically documented fact. No speculation. We now know who are at least some of the remnant Lamanites without speculating. The Lord so indicated.
5. We examine the archaeological remains in the location now specified. Does it match the timelines? Yes.
Does it indicated two migrations? Yes.
Do those civilizations correspond well with the BofM? Yes.
Are all the plants, animals, weather, climate, clothing, customs, burial practices, tools, weapons, language and culture indications from the BofM align with those civilizations? Yes.
6. Can the geography related passages (550?) be understood within the parameters of the proposed geography? Yes, roughly outlined using potential travel distances, rates and conveyances.
I could go on but my point is that in my opinion you are attempting a fools errand if you begin the proceess by trying to create an artificially contrived limit on travel distances.
I suggest a more robust methodology than beginning with something so subjective and speculative, as I have loosely outlined above.”
Onward and Upward. Rod Meldrum FIRM Foundation