For the last point of John L. Sorenson’s claim that because writing was found in Mesoamerica, and none other in the Americas, it : “restricts the possible real-world location [of the Land of Promise] to Mesoamerica (central and southern Mexico and northern Central America).”
In 1517, when Spanish explorers landed on the coast of Yucatan, the peninsula was divided into city-states constantly at war with each other and trying to establish their own boundaries. Each city state had a ruler, the "halach uinic" under which were an elite of brave warriors. The priesthood had enormous influence over the lives of the Maya whose lives were ruled by religion and the calendar. The priests were in charge of keeping the books and the calendar.
It is interesting that the Maya codices of which Sorenson speaks of there being thousands: “In Mesoamerica there were thousands of books in use at the time of the Spanish Conquest, but nowhere else in the Western Hemisphere is there convincing evidence for genuine writing being used on a consistent basis”—only four survived the conquistadors, making it literally impossible to know how many previously existed. However, the Spanish destruction of the written records they found in Mesoamerica has a familiar ring to it, for that is exactly what Mormon said would happen to his own writing 1100 years earlier—thus, where only four survived the destruction of the Spanish, consider that none would have survived the destruction of the Lamanites after the annihilation of the Nephites in 400 A.D.
Perhaps we should take another look at Mesoamerica and Sorenson’s claim that suggests the Maya would be the outgrowth of the Nephite nation because they had a written lanaguage. First of all, prehistory is the study of people without writing, while history is the study of the societies that possessed writing. The history of Mesoamerica is claimed to have begun well before Christopher Columbus landed in the New World in 1492—though Columbus never set foot in Mesoamerica.
Spanish priests and soldiers were the first Europeans to see Maya glyphs. Although these Europeans were intrigued by the strangeness of the signs, their strong Christian beliefs against any display of paganism literally forced them to consign the native documents to the bonfire, to neglect, or to ultimate oblivion in innumerable official archives
It is recognized today that the Mayan languages form a language family spoken in Mesoamerica and northern Central America, and spoken by at least 6 million indigenous Maya, primarily in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Honduras. In 1996, Guatemala formally recognized 21 Mayan languages by name, and Mexico recognizes eight more.
The Mayan language family is one of the best documented and most studied in the Americas. Modern Mayan languages descend from Proto-Mayan, a language claimed to have been spoken at least 5,000 years ago, and is partially reconstructed using the comparative method.
Now here’s the rub, if, indeed, the Mayan language was spoken 5,000 years ago, it would have been spoken from 3000 B.C. to the present—this is an interesting idea, since in the Land of Promise, the Nephites spoke Hebrew and taught the Lamanites Hebrew at one point in their history, and there has never been found to be any connection whatsoever between Maya and Hebrew.
During the pre-Columbian era of Mesoamerican history, some Mayan languages were written in the Maya hieroglyphic script. Its use was particularly widespread during the Classic period of Maya civilization (c. 250–900 CE), which would place the time frame around the end of the Nephite golden age (the 200 years or so after Christ’s apperance to the Nephites in the Land of Promie).
This also means that during the Nephite era in the Land of Promise, the Mayan language was spoken and written in Mesoamerica. While Maya hieroglyphic script with their logograms or syllables, is more like Japanese writing than any other, and as has already been pointed out, has no resemblance to Hebrew which should suggest, even to the most naiveté, that Mesoamerica was not the Land of Promise.