Recently, an old friend had given me a copy of Rod Meldrum’s DVD, DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography. This newer edition is, in some ways, radically different from the one perused by FAIR members when the original came out, roughly one year ago. While I haven’t seen the new version in its entirety, I thought the changes were significant enough to put in front of the people.
First, though, I want to make some things clear:
While most FAIR members accept a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon, there is NO official FAIR position on Book of Mormon geography. Greg Smith’s blog entry should make that abundantly clear. Moreover, I know of no FAIR member who is closed-minded to a Anglo-North American setting of the Book of Mormon. Indeed, FAIR member Larry Poulsen, who is an advocate of the Mesoamerican theory, posts Theodore Brandley’s thesis on his web site (and he has eloquently–if unconvincingly–advocated his position in comments on my earlier blog entry!), and I have speculated about a Florida setting for the Land Southward in those same comments.
Here are some of the parts of the revised DVD that I thought noteworthy:
1. There is an explicit statement by Emeritus General Authority Elder Hartman Rector at the beginning of the DVD, that there is no official Church position on Book of Mormon Geography.
2. Meldrum inserts a similar statement into his presentation–early on.
I hope that those who have read the reviews by FAIR personnel–including Robert White’s blog entry–would realise that the greatest issue that FAIR took with Meldrum’s presentation was the implied Church endorsement of his position–with the accompanying implication of the apostasy of those who didn’t agree. I don’t know if Elder Rector wisely advised him to make the insertions, whether the Brethren put pressure to insert those disclaimers, or if Meldrum himself “saw the light” and made the insertions on his own initiative, the fact is, those changes were made–quietly, and without fanfare. [A more cynical person might argue that the quiet with which Meldrum made those changes was an attempt to give a false impression that FAIR lied about his presentation.]
Whatever the motivation, those changes are quite welcome, and I, for one am quite happy that those who are unpersuaded of Meldrum’s position (not just FAIR and FARMS members–whom Meldrum refers to as “the scholars”!) are now free from any taint of being charged with apostasy. For that, Brother Meldrum deserves credit.
Still, there are problems with Meldrum’s presentation:
Firstly, he claims that a thorough search of what “the scholars” had on the DNA issue revealed nothing. I really don’t know how Rod Meldrum could possibly have missed this list of FAIR articles, including those by David Stewart, D. Jeffrey Meldrum, and Scott Woodward–all of them trained in genetics, and all of them written before his DVD. Moreover, how could he have missed this list of DVDs–one of which, The Book of Mormon and New World DNA, was copyrighted in 2007 (I own a copy!)?
Another problem is with the “scientific method” that Meldrum employs. I am trained as what the business world calls a “quant jock.” Thus, even though I CLEPed out on the sciences as an undergrad–and got some training on counteracting nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons, it would be presumptuous to claim that I am a scientist–and my looking for better counteragents would NOT be “scientific research.” It would be equally presumptuous for Meldrum, who, as I understand, was a technical writer, to claim that HE engaged in “scientific research.”
Though I am incompetent to comment on genetics, others, such as Ugo Perego, are quite competent in the field–and they take issue not only with Simon Southerton, but with Rod Meldrum and their (at best) naive assumtions and faulty conclusions.
However, I AM competent to comment on geographic issues on his claim, because of my undergraduate and graduate training in the social sciences. To be fair to Meldrum and others who accept a Great Lakes setting for the Book of Mormon, I was wrong when I said that I failed to find a “Land Southward” that was “nearly surrounded by water” [See Alma 22:29-30] in the Great Lakes. Honesty compels me to admit that Southwestern Ontario certainly qualifies as a peninsular “Land Southward,” and the land stretching from the southern tip of the Georgian Bay to the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario is undoubtedly narrow enough to be traversed in a day and a half [See Alma 22:32]. However, even considering that the Nephite first month is the same time of year as the crucifixion [III Nephi 8:5], Ontario–even that part, is much too cold for Lamanites to get away with wearing only skins about their loins [Alma 43:4, 19] about that time. As I write, a perusal of the weather forecast for Toronto at this time of year shows that there will be SNOW on the seventh of April[http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/tenday/CAXX0504?from=36hr_fcst10DayLink_business].
While Brother Meldrum may have graduated from the FAIR hot-seat, he will have to produce far better evidence for him to get some POSITIVE attention.