Five Popular "Evidences" for The Book of Mormon That Should Be Forgotten

If the Lord wanted The Book of Mormon to be proven true by secular means then He would have done that by now. The following are examples of what happens when we forget that. The problems with the following "evidences" vary but they all have one thing in common: trying to find a "smoking gun" that proves the book true. As always, much of this post is cut and paste, mostly from Brant Gardner, Ugo Perego and others. 

M. Wells Jakeman interpreted Izapa Stela 5 as not only a tree of life, but as a detailed representation of the Lehi’s dream of the tree of life. The possibility of a tangible artifact specifically related to the Book of Mormon fired the imagination of the general LDS community. In spite of the continuing popularity of what has also been called the Lehi Stone, Hugh Nibley argued against Jakeman’s correlations.

 As better drawings of the eroded stela have become available, and as the scenes on the stela are compared to other scenes from the same site, it has become apparent that Jakeman’s reading was based on an inaccurate rendition of the drawing, a misapplication of Central Mexican naming conventions from the codices to this early stone from a different culture, and a failure to compare scenes in the stone to the other stelae in the area. In spite of the strong evidence that Stela 5 has nothing to do with the Book of Mormon, the LDS community has been very slow to abandon this favorite piece of evidence. 

Nevertheless, if we are to build a strong web of interlocking evidence, incorrect correspondences such as the claim that Izapa Stela 5 represents Lehi’s dream must be set aside. That is an important part of the process of the iterative building of the case. Sometimes the correspondences get better. Sometimes they fall apart entirely.

The second popular proof of the Book of Mormon that we must set aside is the idea that there is anything in the Quetzalcoatl legends that is a remembrance of the Book of Mormon. I began my personal campaign change opinions about this material in 1986. Unfortunately, that information has become much more popular in non-Mormon and even anti-Mormon circles than among members. The LDS myth about the myth appears to almost as strong as it ever was. Even John L. Sorenson’s recent Mormon’s Codex perpetuates the idea that Quetzalcoatl encodes some correlation to the story told in 3 Nephi.

The material surrounding Quetzalcoatl is quite complicated. The good thing is that we have as much or more material about Quetzalcoatl than any other Mesoamerican deity. The bad news is that we have so much information that most LDS writers to promote Quetzalcoatl as a remembrance of Jesus Christ haven’t read it all. There is a large body of early Spanish literature suggesting that Quetzalcoatl was a remembrance of St. Thomas who had preached to the Central Mexicans. LDS writers have concentrated on that literature and borrowed almost all of its evidence while shifting the identification of the mysterious preacher to Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the early Spanish writers had already misinterpreted the Central Mexican legends in order to make them appear to support the St. Thomas hypothesis. We can tell this because there are some documents that tell parts of the Quetzalcoatl legend that are recorded in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. For example, an important very early document records this scene from Quetzalcoatl’s life:

His uncles were greatly angered, and shortly they left, going before Apanecatl who came out quickly. Ce Acatl [another name for Quetzalcoatl] rose and split open [Apanecatl’s] head with a smooth and deep cut, from which blow he fell to the ground below. Immediately [Quetzalcoatl] caught hold of Solton and Cuilton. The beasts blew on the fire and presently he killed them. They gathered them together, cut a little of their flesh, and after torturing them, they cut open their chests.

We never see that story in the various arguments linking Quetzalcoatl and Jesus Christ. Perhaps it is only a corruption of the tale—except that when all of the stories are gathered we can see how the Spanish writers made their subtle changes so that what really was a very Mesoamerican deity began to appear foreign.

U-Kix = Akish the Jaredite
Another popular "evidence" for the Book of Mormon, at least online, is the idea that a legendary Mayan King, U-Kix (Chan) might be Akish the Jaredite. There are several problems with this assertion: U-Kix is supposed to have lived in the tenth century BCE. However, Akish probably lived in the nineteenth century BCE(400BCE +(26 generations x 70 years per generation). In other words, Akish is too old. Also, according to Mark Wright, phonetic interpretations of the glyph traditionally rendered as “kix/kish” are now thought to read “kokan.” U-Kix is really U-Kokan, which is nothing like Akish. 

U-Kokan was the legendary founder of the Palenque royal family; unlike Akish who doesn't seem to be the founder of any royal lineage. His reign ended with the re-enthronement of the man he had originally deposed. The only two things these two men had in common was that they were both kings.

Haplogroup X
The basic argument runs something like this: Haplogroup X is of Near Eastern origin, and its presence in the Americas, specifically among the Native Americans referred to as Lamanites, in the Doctrine and Covenants, represents the surviving legacy of Lehi's party arriving in the Western Hemisphere some 2,600 years ago. The truth isn't that cut and dry though. 

Like other Pan-American clades, haplogroup X is of Asian origin, arriving in the Americas via Beringia (the landmass that connected northeast Siberia with modern-day Alaska during the last ice age). This migration took place more than 10,000 years ago, long before Israel ever existed.

How did haplogroup X get to North America? Some X has been found in Mongolia, but it's definitely not common in modern Asia. It can, however, be found in about 4 percent of the present day European population. Genetic anthropologists suggest that the presence of X in North America points to an early migration westward from Europe. By looking at the various mutations within haplogroup X, scientists are able to use that "genetic clock" to estimate when those early Europeans would have arrived. Depending on how large a group they assume headed west, they come up with two time ranges - either between 36,000 and 23,000 years ago or between 17,000 and 12,000 years ago. These dates are too old for Lehi and his family, who arrived in 600 BCE.

If ... And Conditional Sentences
The attestation of this alleged Hebraism is a circular argument that relies upon a particular theory of how Joseph’s translation and is then suggested as a proof of that translation method. The dual options for the construction in the Book of Mormon translation negate the foundational assumption upon which the argument that it is a Hebrew construction is based. It has at least one instance where it is present in Joseph’s non-translation vocabulary. Its presence in the book of Moses (part of the Inspired Version) where there is otherwise no consistent evidence of close correlation to an ancient original language should confirm that its presence comes from Joseph’s vocabulary instead being the result of a carefully controlled translation of an underlying Hebrew construction.

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