If the Book of Mormon is a fraud, then how did Joseph know so much about the Arabian Peninsula, including specific names and places that were not known in his day? Was it just blind luck that the rare place name Nahom in the Book of Mormon, identified as the place where Ishmael was buried, turns out to correspond to an ancient burial site right where the Book of Mormon says it is? How could Joseph Smith so accurately and plausibly describe the nature and location of the place Bountiful in the Arabian Peninsula – when critics for years have been denying the possibility of such a place being anywhere in the region? How does one account for the recent discovery of a plausible candidate for the River Laman, continuously flowing into the Red Sea as the Book of Mormon indicates, in spite of the repeated claims of critics that no such river exists? Was there anything within his reach, or the reach of any scholar of his day, that could have resulted in the plausible details we find in First Nephi?
The book of First Nephi in the Book of Mormon describes a journey through the Arabian Peninsula in much detail, sometimes giving specific directions like “south south-east,” and describing specific places such as the Valley of Lemuel with its continually flowing River of Laman, a burial place called Nahom, and a fertile and inhabitable spot called Bountiful due east of Nahom, where Lehi’s group lived for a period of time and were able to construct boats and sail to the New World. Incredibly, these details are not only plausible based on modern knowledge, but specific candidates for these locations exist, as I show on my page on Book of Mormon Evidences (including photos). In fact, the candidate for Nahom is confirmed as an ancient burial place in just the right location (Nehhem) and is associated with an ancient tribal name with the same consonants (NHM), based on a recent find of an ancient altar from that tribe dating to around the time of Lehi, with an ideal candidate for Bountiful nearly due east of Nahom on the coast of Oman. And in spite of much mocking by anti-Mormons about the non-existence of rivers, a continually flowing stream has been found in an impressive valley in just the right place to be the valley and river spoken of by Nephi. These places and the NHM name could not possibly have been known to Joseph Smith. They remain unknown to most college graduate in our day, and unknown to almost all anti-Mormons, based on their remarkable silence on these impressive “bulls eyes” in the Book of Mormon. But I’ll ask the question again: is there any way that such precise confirmation of First Nephi could have occurred if the unschooled farm boy Joseph Smith were just making up a wild story about a mythical adventure in a remote land? How can you explain away plausible and accurate directions that bypass the empty quarter and would allow an actual ancient journey, a description of a valley and river that anti-Mormons have alleged cannot possibly exist, the existence of an excellent candidate for Bountiful (also was said to not exist anywhere in the Arabian Peninsula), and a direct hit in identifying an ancient burial site and its rare name?
Say what you will about other issues, but is there any way that First Nephi could have been written by anyone in North America in 1830, or is it more plausible that the accurate description of an ancient journey in the Middle East was written by someone who actually made the journey?
Of course, the evidence from the Arabian Peninsula does not prove the Book of Mormon is true, but it does raise a serious challenge to the theory that Joseph was the (fraudulent) author of First Nephi.