We're going to start with Mormon Stories. (Mormon Stories, along with CES Letter, are two of the most prominent critics of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.) I don't know how popular or influential Mormon Stories is, but a lot of people read/view their materials.
Here is one measure: youtube subscribers.
Mormon Stories channel: 16,845 subscribers, 728 videos
Book of Mormon Central: 9,755 subscribers, 637 videos
Remember, Book of Mormon Central has spent millions of dollars to develop and promote its content. I doubt Mormon Stories has spent more than a couple hundred thousand dollars.
(Note: BMC Studios has 4,238 subscribers and 7 videos. BMC en Espanol has 19,319 subscribers with 653 videos. BMC videos in Spanish have far more views than their videos in English, a topic we'll discuss soon on this blog: http://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/)
We shouldn't be surprised if Mormon Stories has more influence among English-speakers than Book of Mormon Central.
Critics of the Book of Mormon have effectively used M2C as a tool for years. (M2C is the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory that claims the "hill in New York" where Joseph got the plates was not the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6, despite the teachings of prophets and apostles.)
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith warned in the 1930s that M2C would cause members of the Church to become confused and disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. He repeated that warning when he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve. The fulfillment of his teaching is evident all around us today.
In a courtroom, lawyers object when their opponents badger witnesses by asking the same questions over and over. They stand and say "Asked and answered," and the judge usually sustains the objection. You'll see that many of the arguments by the critics were "asked and answered" in 1834-5. The answers are in the eight historical letters that Oliver Cowdery wrote, including Letter VII on the Hill Cumorah.
The questions persist because LDS intellectuals don't accept the answers Oliver gave, including his declaration that it is a fact that the final battles took place at the hill in New York.
Long-time readers here know this blog started as an evaluation of M2C.
M2C was developed in the late 1800s by faithful RLDS scholars. It was part of the doctrinal competition between the RLDS and LDS churches. The LDS Church, under President Joseph F. Smith, sought to purchase the Hill Cumorah in New York. The RLDS Church said, in effect, "go ahead, that's not Cumorah anyway."
Because of the academic cycle, M2C was promulgated through CES and was enthroned as the default explanation for the geography of the Book of Mormon.
Now, M2C is implicit in LDS artwork, media, visitors centers, curriculum at CES and BYU, and, well, just about everywhere. You see it displayed in LDS chapels around the world, in the illustrations in the missionary edition of the Book of Mormon, and even at the Missionary Training Center in Provo.
In my view, M2C is a mistake, even a hoax, for all the reasons I've explained on my other blog:
Our first Mormon Stories article to review is found here:
When I do these reviews, I put the original in blue so it's easy to identify, with my comments in red. My notes are lettered and found at the end.
[Note: For new readers, I consider President Oliver Cowdery's 1835 Letter VII as the single most authoritative explanation of the Hill Cumorah, as corroborated by teachings before and after that letter was published. Letter VII was republished many times, at least twice at the direction of Joseph Smith, and was copied into Joseph's journal as part of his life history. For more, see: http://www.lettervii.blogspot.com/]
My first observation: this article is anonymous. That's good in a sense because none of my comments are personal anyway; I focus on the words, the facts, and the arguments made. I don't care who wrote them.
Anonymous articles are problematic, though, when cited as authority. Two examples come to mind:
The 1842 Times and Seasons articles that the M2C citation cartel constantly cites, and the LDS Gospel Topics Essays that are subject to change at any moment without notice.
This Mormon Stories article could be changed at any time, which is another reason why I archived it here. Maybe my review here will prompt some corrections.
One thing they definitely need to do is provide actual links to their references.
The gist of this argument is the same as that made by the M2C intellectuals.
Both groups claim that the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 cannot be in western New York. Like the M2C intellectuals, Mormon Stories uses a misinterpretation of the text to claim huge numbers of combatants, claims there is no evidence of the battles, and claims that the depository could not be located in the hill in New York.