Why haven’t others proposed Baja California as the location of the Book of Mormon lands?

We have asked ourselves this same question many times. May we propose some possible explanations.

First, we have new, computer-based research tools that didn't exist even a few years ago: The unbelievable potential and power of the images of the earth’s surface in the Google Earth Internet application and the unfathomable depth of information provided from millions of Internet sites indexed by Google Search, the comprehensive search ability of the Internet version of the scriptures, and our studies of the Book of Mormon scriptures. We can’t overemphasize the critical importance and contribution of these new tools to quickly search and analyze the geographical information in the Book of Mormon text and its relationship to actual locations on the earth’s surface. We decided to experiment with these tools, using our geographical knowledge and experience with the earth’s surface, to see if it were possible to throw new light on the questions: Where were the Book of Mormon lands? And were these lands located in Baja California?

Second, nearly all of the geographical models for a hundred years or more have centered on Central America. This long-established focus on Central America is often based on a few questionable assumptions that by their very nature exclude other possible locations. For example, it is commonly assumed that one would find the lands of the Jaredites and Nephites where there are magnificent ruins. In contrast, we propose that the ruins in Central America might be the remains of structures left by the distant cousins or the descendants of the Book of Mormon people but not by the actual Book of Mormon people. We should note that the Book of Mormon is a record of a people who built humble homes, cities, temples, synagogues and sanctuaries. It is feudal and slave-based civilizations who traditionally build elaborate structures for governing and worship, such as the pyramids of Egypt, the seven wonders of the world, or the tower of Babel. We need not look, therefore, to sites of ostentatious and extensive ruins in the Western Hemisphere to find the heartlands of the Book of Mormon peoples. According to the Book of Mormon account, the Jaredites and Nephites civilizations, as predicted, were literally “swept off” the face of the earth, and those who survived the destruction of their civilization were “scattered upon the face of the earth.” In fact, the erosion of time may have destroyed the modest structures and artifacts they abruptly left behind. If we look beyond these assumptions, it opens up the possibility of other locations for the Jaredite and Nephite lands, especially sites with no obvious archeological findings of consequence. We have found that descriptions of their geographical settings, such as climate, plants and animals, and the relative location and scale of their lands have proved to be the most fruitful clues to their location.

Third, many who look to Central America for the Book of Mormon lands, understandably, often suggest quotes from church leaders to support the location of their research or their beliefs. We have found the authenticity, interpretation, or authoritative origin of some of these statements to be questionable, or they are quotes that appear to be merely the opinion of the writer. The most authoritative statement on the subject, in the sense of “Thus sayeth the Lord,” that we can find, is the one from the Prophet Joseph Smith in a letter to N.C. Saxton, editor of the American Revivalist and Rochester Observer, 4 January 1833. Saxton had asked Joseph Smith to write about principles of the gospel and the need for the church among the nations of the earth. As a part of his response, which he attributed to a revelation from the Lord, the Prophet wrote: “The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western Tribes of Indians, . . . By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them, . . .” (History of the Church 1: 315). This broader understanding has encouraged us to think outside the box.

Fourth, it has been amazing to us how little, if anything, is known among scholars about Baja California, let alone the general public. This wall of obscurity has unwittingly protected this area from the probing eyes of researchers, possibly for reasons known only to the Lord. It is thought-provoking and incredulous to us that this area is only now being discovered as a highly desirable tourist destination and investment location, even though it is obviously an adjacent and comparable land to to the highly attractive states of California and Arizona. According to the Lord’s timetable, now might be the time for the Baja California area to be recognized for its past history.
Updated: Tuesday, 13 July 2010

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Why haven’t others proposed Baja California as the location of the Book of Mormon lands?