Thursday, May 28, 2009

I AM NOT A MEMBER OF THE MORMON CHURCH - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints

Let's get that out of the way to avoid confusion.

NOTE: Michael Hobby's current address in Mexico is:

26x 27y29 #216C
Col. Garcia Generes
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The main website for the Zarahemla Geological Foundation Field Research base in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico is the following link:

The Zarahemla Geological Foundation is a unique, non-profit foundation. It is in every respect a true phenomenon. Dedicated to reconstructing the chronology of Precolumbian America, it has no creed except the Pursuit of Truth. Founded in 1986 by Michael M. Hobby, it has evolved dramatically over time, especially since early 1999. We have devoted hundreds of thousands of dollars to Book of Mormon-related research and will increasingly devote more as our international outreach continues to expand.

The Field Research base website will soon be available in a dozen languages. The entire corpus of research produced by Hobby, his partners, and associates over a 35-year period (1974-2009) will be translated and available in their entirety on Research Base websites. The Zarahemla Monthly e-letter will be available in the same languages.

Our research associates, members, and regional personnel are both LDS and non-LDS, all working together to further Book of Mormon archaeology, geography, numerical system studies, and geology. Members of all faiths are involved and participating in a variety ways and in a variety of roles.

I know your next question, as it has already been asked, "Michael, if you haven't been a Mormon since 1999 and don't believe the Mormon church is "true," why are you still including Book of Mormon archaeology as part of your revision of the Pre-columbian history and chronology of the Western Hemisphere?"

My brother asked me a variant of the same question on the way to the airport the day I flew to Merida, in the Yucatan of Mexico, where I am and will continue to be based as Director of the Third Millennium Fellowship, the Zarahemla Geological Foundation, and the Institute for Precolumbian Studies.

I have been called a "Fellow Traveler" by one of my Mormon friends, who follows everything I do very closely for his own reasons. His justification for that term is based on Christ's intimation that, as I am not "anti-Mormon," I am his friend, or words to that effect. I don't recall the scripture or General Authority he quoted, IE, we're traveling the same road, but heading for different ultimate destinations. This makes sense, in view of the inalienable right of every man to his "own" truth. There are others who now consider me to be part of the "world." If so, they may take comfort in it having been said, "The world will prove the Book of Mormon."

I have been asked the question in much harsher terms by other Christians who do not consider the LDS church to be a Christian church; but the church, under several names before the present name was fixed upon, rapidly began emphasizing that it was in a crescendo that began soon after its inception, and increased after the murder of its founder, Joseph Smith, while incarcerated with his brother, Hiram, in the Carthage, Missouri jail, one of many Mormon "Meccas," which was high on my list after I joined the church. These Christians use a variant of the following,

"Hobby, if you know the Mormon church isn't the Church of Jesus Christ (otherwise you wouldn't have left it a decade ago), why are you continuing to produce evidence that the Book of Mormon contains factual information, when that false religion is BASED on the Book of Mormon!?!"

I have had this asked twice in just the last month, though I knew it was coming long before it did.

There are several incorrect suppositions in such questions, whether from Mormon Christians or non-Mormon Christians. I understand why they make them. That's why this post is being written. I admit, I do owe all such a plausible explanation. Otherwise they will think me a victim of what I would prefer to call, uncommon sense, rather than the pejoratives they put in its place, whether spoken or unspoken.

I succeeded over a 20+ year period (May 19, 1973 - February, 1999, when I submitted a letter stating why I was leaving the church), in proving to my satisfaction, as well as many others, that, at least, what I refer to as the "CORE" of the BOM (Book of Mormon), was indeed not an entirely fictional or mythological account, but contained much factual material. The books and magazines which include the bulk of that material are on my LDS-oriented site.

People see what they want to see, so Mormons follow my research because to them, proving the BOM IS proving the Mormon church. That's fine. And on that site, a great deal more that I have already learned, but which has NOT yet been published, will be available also through subscription to my monthly newsletter, as well as on the Zarahemla Geological Foundation site,

which will also contain geoarchaeological (archaeological and geological) research results and progress reports of general interest, not exclusively or directly related to the BOM.

The newsletter, tentatively named, Zarahemla Monthly, will enter production in a couple of months after I have fully oriented myself to Merida as my home, and concluded a few matters of a personal nature. It will originally appear in two languages, English and Spanish. All previously published materials will gradually be released in Spanish, as I have already begun to meet individuals who are very interested in my research (as I speak of little else with equal passion), many of whom do not understand written English sufficiently to benefit to the extent they wish.

But, back to the other suppositions:

This is the tricky one. If the BOM contains so much factual material, then how could you possibly have left the church, knowing so with such certainty?

The answer is that my leaving the church had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the BOM. I faced a terrible dilemma. When I joined the church, I was was 26, and still in many ways, in my opinion, an uneducated redneck. I was attending Junior College, but didn't even have an AA yet! It was based entirely on faith, not any sort of "evidence." How I got into the church at that point is a story in itself. If you care, the story is the link,

So, here I was, a totally committed Mormon. Over the period from 1973-1983, I evolved into someone very different than when I joined, an entirely new creature in many ways. During that period I became first, an archaeologist, then next, a geologist. That led me to Hydrogeology. By June of 1986, I had completed my Masters degree.

All along the way, I was assailed repeatedly either by information which forced a revision of my thinking, and incessantly by non-Mormon scientists, especially archaeologists, who simply could not fathom that, having become an archaeologist, I could think the BOM was true. I had many such friends, because I did not arrogantly treat them as though I was superior to them, or smarter than them, or more educated than them, although I encountered a few others who dealt with me that way. None of my professors in either department did. They respected and, often, seemed very intrigued by me. The difference was that I had a testimony as solid as the Iron Rod to which I clung.

This should not lead you to believe that everything I encountered strengthened that original testimony. I merely incorporated new data which could not be ignored into my belief system. It came to be a habit. It began early on in my study of geology. I realized there had never been a global flood during the historic period when man was on the earth. Yes, there were periods during which virtually the entire surface of the earth was covered by a warm, shallow sea. But those periods were tens to hundreds of millions of years prior to the evolution of the hominids from which mankind was derived.

I was not considered a "mainstream" Mormon; in fact, my children were often told by their friends at church that we were "weird" Mormons. But we were Mormons, nonetheless. What it DID mean is that, increasingly, my testimony was progressively based on knowledge, as any belief system should be if one is neither lazy, nor fearful. I am neither and never was. Knowledge trumps faith.

My "dilemma" developed over the next decade (1986-1996), during which my BOM research was most vigorous, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, nothing to sneeze at. I read constantly, and more widely than ever before. Around 1996 or '97, I was forced to my knees by an accumulation of knowledge and information, some beyond dispute, which threatened the very heart of my testimony. Unlike before, what I was encountering could NOT be reconciled with my faith, something I had always believed was possible.

"Oh, God, my Father," I cried, "in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior, I call upon you for help. I am willing to abandon anything I wrongly believe if you will just lead me to the TRUTH. I know you love me. Please have mercy on me and help me in this time of trial."

During my last three years in the church, a remarkable answer came in a non-ending stream of encounters with powerful new, additional information and knowledge. My prayer was answered fully, but not in the way I expected. "GOD" did indeed provide the answers to those troubling questions which racked my soul. But it was not the answer I expected. The God who answered proved to be very different from the God I had worshiped more than half a century. Very different indeed. I knew more than ever he existed, but also that his followers had attributed to him the grossest of actions taken by those claiming to represent him and to have his authority across the millennia.

I began feeling ashamed, and very much a hypocrite. In 1999, I was teaching Gospel Doctrine in the English-speaking branch in San Juan. After class, my friends, all of whom were federal agents: DEA, FBI, ATF, etc., would approach and say, "Okay, Brother Hobby, now tell us what you really believe." The fact they could ask such a question meant that I had been teaching principles and doctrine with which I was not entirely, if at all, in agreement.

That is a dilemma indeed!

It would probably be wise to end right here, but I cannot.

I had encountered Scientology just months prior to leaving the church. I discovered some things, including an entirely different way of thinking, that appealed to me. It was during the investigation of Scientology that the only thing remaining which kept me in the church, its admirable social system and inspired welfare program aside - the Holy Spirit, became re-defined. The spirit had been with me very strongly from the age of eight through all the years in four different Christian religions.

Those who have only been in a single church all their lives interpret the Holy Spirit as a testimony that THEIR church is true. Having felt it equally strongly in the Methodist, Nazarene, Baptist, and Mormon churches, I new that conclusion was errant. It occurred when one was in a setting of love and compassion, most often, though not always, during religious ecstasy. I knew the binding of the tongue and momentary inability to speak as well as anyone.

The "Holy Spirit" is pure, intense, LOVE. I always thought it came from the outside, radiating from the third member of the Godhead, variously referred to by some as the Trinity, the Holy Ghost. But I realized in early 1999 that it came from within, a frequency of such power that it affects the physical body profoundly. Not all can feel it. Freud wrote, I think honestly, that he and a friend who felt it also, often had arguments about its existence, as Freud never felt it, if we are to take him at his word.

Once I realized that love arises from within in such intensity, I realized WHY it made no difference what walls of what church, or synagogue, or temple, or mosque, or shrine, or other religious edifice one was within, and why it occurred in many other contexts as well. We are all part of something much greater than ourselves. I discovered and developed that something, and it can be viewed at the following link:

Once that misconception was finally resolved, in February of 1999, I severed all links, not just with the Mormon church, but of organized religion generally. There will be other posts which explain where that left (or led) me. For now, suffice it to say that my interest in the BOM is archaeological, not theological. I will address how it came to contain factual information in another post.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


by Michael M. Hobby


To provide the reader of this post with a reason for its having been written, we must first describe who each was and the controversial nature of their principal theory(ies).

From Wikipedia,

“Barbara Thiering (born 1930) is an Australian nonfiction writer, historian, and Biblical exegete specializing in the origins of the early Christian Church. In books and journal articles, she challenges Christian orthodoxy, drawing on claimed new evidence that gives alternative answers to its supernatural beliefs. Her analysis has been rejected by many scholars in the field.
From her specialty, studying the Dead Sea Scrolls, their semiotics, and their hermeneutics, she has propounded a theory arguing that the miracles, including the Turning water into wine, the Virgin Birth, Healing a man at a distance, the man who had been thirty-eight years at the pool, and the Resurrection, among others, did not actually occur (as miracles), as Christians believe, nor were they legends, as some skeptics hold, but were "deliberately constructed myths"[1] concealing (yet, to certain initiates, relating) esoteric historic events. She alleges that they never actually happened (that is, that the events they chronicle were not at all miraculous), as the authors of the Gospels knew. They wrote, according to the methods of pesher, which she discovers in the scrolls, on two levels. For the “babes in Christ,” there were apparent miracles, but the knowledge of exact meanings held by the highly educated members of gnostic schools gave a real history, of what Jesus actually did.
Born in Sydney, Australia, Thiering graduated in 1952 from Sydney University with first class honours in modern languages, was a high school teacher of languages for several years, and then, while caring for her three young children, continued study and research privately. She obtained an external B.D. degree from the University of London, a M.Th. degree from Melbourne College of Divinity, and a Ph.D. degree from Sydney University in 1973.
As a consequence of her research publications in academic journals, she was invited to lecture at Sydney University, at first in the Department of Semitic Studies, then in the School of Divinity (now the Department of Religious Studies) where she continued until her retirement. During this time she was a member of the Board of Studies in Divinity and the Board of Continuing Education, and served for twelve years as a lay member of the NSW Equal Opportunity Tribunal. When her work became known in the USA, she was made a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar.
In 1990 a documentary film about her research, Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls, was shown by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.”

The summary on the back cover of her book, the Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls, asserts the following:

“A renegade scholar's revelation of how the Scrolls disclose Jesus' real life story as encoded in the Gospels. This bold, historical detective work yields a who new picture of the origins of Christianity and the identity of Jesus.

-He was born not in Bethlehem but into the royal priestly line of a strict sect as Qumran

-He was born out of wedlock to a betrothed and thus, officially 'virgin' woman

-He did not die on the cross but was drugged and later revived in the burial cave

-He married twice and fathered three children

-As a hated outcast, he befriended the poor, the sick, women, and gentiles and rejected the harsh legalism of his sect

-He performed no miracles”

From Wikipedia,

“Zecharia Sitchin (born 1922) is an author of books promoting an explanation for human origins involving ancient astronauts.
Sitchin attributes the creation of the ancient Sumerian culture to the "Annunaki" (or "Nephilim"), a race of aliens from a planet he calls Nibiru, which he believes to be in an elongated, elliptical orbit in the Earth's own Solar System. He asserts that Sumerian mythology reflects this view, though his speculations are entirely discounted by professional scientists, historians, and archaeologists, who note many problems with his translations of ancient texts and with his understanding of physics. He was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, and attended the London School of Economics at the University of London. His official website is"

The following is quoted from the back cover of the first volume in Sitchens' Earth Chronicles series, entitled, The Twelfth Planet:

“Over the years, startling evidence has been uncovered, challenging established notions of the origins of life on Earth-evidence that suggests the existence of an advanced group of extraterrestrials who once inhabited our world.

The first book of the revolutionary Earth Chronicles series offers indisputable documentary evidence of the existence of the mysterious planet Nibiru and tells why its astronauts came to Earth eons ago to fashion mankind in their image.

The product of more than thirty years of meticulous research, The 12th Planer treats as fact, not myth, the tales of Creation, the Deluge, the Tower of Babel, and the Nefilim who married the daughters of man. By weaving together the biblical narrative with Sumerian and Babylonian clay-tablet texts, it challenges the established notions of the origins of Earth and mankind, and offers a compelling alternative history and prehistory of both.”

It is immediately evident that if the theories embodied within either JESUS AND THE RIDDLE OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS or THE TWELFTH PLANET are correct, they completely overturn the foundations of virtually all Christian faiths and destroy the underpinnings of any other belief system which relies upon the biblical account. With respect to Thiering, the divinity of Jesus and his designation as the Christ [christos ; Greek, divine mission] of the New Testament is overturned and rendered spurious. With respect to Sitchen, the Genesis account of creation, primarily chapters 1-10 is overturned and rendered fundamentally mistranslated.

It matters not whether either Thiering and/or Sitchen are correct. We will be rigorously examining their assertions in this post in an attempt to determine if they are.

Beyond that matter, it must be obvious to all that the reaction among the majority of Christians, including laymen, religious scholars, and scientists, was outrage and dismissal. Not only the assertions, but the individuals making them were derided.

We are not so naive as to accept such reactions, regardless of their dimensions, as evidence that either is wrong. It is a standard reaction to any theory which fundamentally threatens widely held beliefs or consensus opinion. Nor are we so naive as to accept the reaction as evidence that the theories of either are correct.

There are two very different approaches to confronting fundamental challenges to a belief system.

1) Dispassionate

Dispassionate examination involves, indeed REQUIRES, the suspension of faith (belief), IE, one's own. Only if examined “outside the box” can they be thus examined point by point to determine which “evidence” upon which they rely has (apparent ) merit and which does not. This is, by definition, the scientific approach. It is borne of a need or desire to “know.”

Examples of this approach are Copernicus and Galileo.

The “knowledge” of the scientific approach evolves. What is consensus at one time is later discarded in favor of a new consensus. Scientists, credentials and specialized education and training notwithstanding, who attach passion to current consensus adopt faith as their approach. This is unfortunate, but we all experience primate emotions. We are not gods; we are Homo sapiens.

2) Faith

Faith requires no point by point examination. By definition, faith is the “evidence” of things Unseen, IE, unknown. Knowledge IS “known.”

Examples of this approach are Thomas Aquinas and the learned professor of Astronomy at Padua who refused even to LOOK through Galileo's telescope.

The stricture of faith, limited to its definition, cannot produce knowledge, because knowing is unnecessary, even considered futile or moot. It involves, indeed REQUIRES, the suspension of knowledge, such as the Astronomer at Padua typifies. It is borne of a need or desire to “believe.”

A specific faith does not evolve. What is fundamental at one time is retained as fundamental over time. If not, that faith collapses, and will be replaced by another.

Thus, it is requisite that I reveal my preference for the Dispassionate approach, and my abhorrence for the strictures of Faith. My examination of the claims of Thiering and Sitchen will attempt a dispassionate approach. I will also, where necessary, apply Occam's razor, or alternatively, the Axe.

[to be continued]