Thursday, May 26, 2011

Do We Know Where the Land of Promise is Located? – Part IV – The Destruction of the Land – Part I

In the last three posts, several points in a FARMS website were introduced and an evaluation of those points begun. In this post, we will deal with the comment:

3. “In order to approach the textual elements of geography as bias-free as possible, Sorenson spells out some necessary assumptions that undergird the research such as “both textual evidence and logic require an assumption of uniformity in the way nature operates today and operated in Book of Mormon times … subject to the normal laws and processes of nature.”

Naturally, the laws of nature are the same today as in the past. However, those laws are not necessarily how Sorenson sees them. In the following statement, he claims. “The volume itself says that the changes at the Savior's death were mainly to the surface.” After citing that the Bountiful temple was still there, Zarahemla was rebuilt, the narrow pass, river Sidon, and Ramah/Cumnorah were still there, he adds, “Thus the record itself gives no justification for supposing that the form or nature of the land changed in any essentials, despite the impressive destruction that signaled the Savior's death. Nor is there reliable evidence from the earth sciences to lead us to suppose major changes took place. Nothing we know prevents our placing most of the ancient places on today's map.”

Because Mesoamerica, Sorenson’s Land of Promise, was not affected by anything physical according to “earth sciences,” to him the events in 3 Nephi did not change much. On the other hand, if we remove Mesoamerica from the equation and shift elsewhere, we find “earth sciences” telling us a lot of changes took place in the Andean area of South America, as listed in the book “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica.”

The point is, when one has a pre-determine location, the scriptural record is interpreted according to that pre-determined location. But when one approaches the scriptural record with an open mind, not trying to justify, validate, or prove a pre-disposition, the record takes on a totally new meaning. Take, for example, Samuel the Lamanite, who claimed that during the Savior’s crucifixion, the Land of Promise would be so disarranged, that “there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23). Obviously, such changes would change the natural order of things as they had been prior to this event.

Or, what of the Savior’s own comments that He burned six cities, sunk four cities into the depths of the sea, and buried six cities in the earth, and “made hills and valleys in the places thereof,” and “many great destructions have I caused” (3 Nephi 9:4-9), or what of the destructions the disciple Nephi described. “And the face of the whole earth became deformed” (3 Nephi 8:17) “the rocks were rent in twain; they were broken up upon the face of the whole earth, insomuch that they were found in broken fragments, and in seams and in cracks, upon all the face of the land” (3 Nephi 8:18).

To figure that 300 years later Mormon still knew certain landmarks only suggests that certain landmarks were not changed or altered, such as the Bountiful temple.

Take, for example, a fictitious occurrence where South Salt Lake was burned to the ground, a 22,000 foot high mountain range popped up along the I-15 from Murray to Ogden, the Corner Canyon between Draper and Highland collapsed into a valley, and the Uinta Mountains from Park City to Sandy were “laid low.” That would still leave the Temple standing, and many, many houses, and an understanding of the Salt Lake Valley—though it would be completely deformed.

How distorted would a mountain have to be to not know it exists? And to recognize that a series of mountains after 300 years, which had become natural to the landscape for around 10 generations or more would confuse someone who only lived when those mountains existed is disingenuous in the extreme. What Mormon knew and understood was based upon having all the records of the Nephites “there are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people, which are particular and very large, concerning them” (Helaman 3:13), and making comparisons between his day and the days of earlier times.

(See the next post, “Do We Know Where the Land of Promise is Located-Part V – Destruction of the Land – Part II,” for an understanding of what was meant in the words written of the destruction)

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