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.