Thursday, July 4, 2013

More Comments to be Answered Part VIII

Here are some more comments that we’ve received on this website blog.
Comment #1: “You harp all the time about Sorenson and other Mesoamerican believers that the Nephites knew directions, and that Mesoamerica is situated east and west, rather than the north-south of the record. But why couldn’t Sorenson’s explanation of the Nephites being off in their directions and that the Mesoamerican landscape be accurate? After all, Sorenson makes his argument very clear and believable in favor of this” Zabryna T.
Response: Sorenson himself, in his book Mormon’s Map, p 14, says: “Rational simplicity and economy are to be assumed. We should avoid needlessly complicated synthesis. If two explanations occur to us for solving a geographical problem, the simpler solution—the one with the fewest arbitrary assumptions—is probably better,” which he violates continually in his book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon in which he discusses the rationale for an altered directional map, as you cite. Obviously, the simpler understanding is that the scriptural record of north and south, east and west, would be accurate to our knowledge and understanding since the book was written for us in our day.
In addition, another strong BYU Mesoamerican Theorists, John Clark (left), in his Key for Evaluating Nephite Geographies, p 22, says, “The best internal reconstruction is one which reconciles all of the data in the Book of Mormon with a minimum number of additional assumptions,” which, of course, a lengthy explanation as to why the Nephites didn’t understanding the cardinal points of the compass directions is in opposition to what he writes.
It also might be pointed out along this line, that these assumptions represent Ockham's razor, the principle attributed to the fourteenth-century English philosopher William of Ockham, that one should “choose the simplest explanation, the one requiring the fewest assumptions and principles.” Ockham’s razor should suggest to even the most uninformed, that writing pages to explain away the simple statements of normal and well-understood directions in the scriptural record, and replace them with an obscure point of view that tilts the simple directions by 90º, making north to be west, south to be east, etc., is in opposition to a cardinal rule in assumptive reasoning.
The problem lies in trying to explain away the simple language of the Book of Mormon with obscure reasoning, such as the Zuni Indians (left) could run a hundred miles in a day to show that the width of the narrow neck of land is much broader than Mormon tells us, or that the Nephites could not tell directions in the Land of Promise, even after watching the stars every night change in the heavens while on their lengthy journey to the New World by citing Eskimo and Icelandic directional knowledge, is indeed in opposition to what Sorenson himself and Clark both write as the basis for understanding the scriptural record.
Comment #2: “I studied in a Book of Mormon archaeological class that the numbers mentioned in the record are far greater than could have been reached by the original Lehi family and that there had to have been other people in the land of promise than just the Nephites and Lamanites” Amos G.
Response: First of all, in Nephi’s vision, the angel showed him “thy seed and the seed of thy brethren” (1 Nephi 12:1) and that in the Land of Promise Nephi beheld “multitudes of people, yea, even as many as the sand of the sea.” Since “thy seed” are those descendants of the Nephites, and “the seed of thy brethren” are the descendants of the Lamanites (Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael), we know that the numbers of these two groups were as the sands of the sea—that is a very large number. Secondly, it has been shown by sociologists that numbers of descendants can be predicted (within reason) by knowing how many couples you start out with, and when applied to the Book of Mormon, 25 couples doubling every 25 years, from about 600 B.C. to the time of Christ, would number about 81,000,000. So, even with the numbers killed, the end result would still be a very large number.
The problem you encounter in such a class is that the anthropology department at BYU was run by John L. Sorenson for a number of years, who was very outspoken about numbers relating to the Book of Mormon. His famous line on this was: “And don’t tell me about such numbers” when being confronted with the sociological numbers predictions. However, people do multiply intolarge numbers over time, and given the large numbers in families of the Jews of the time, it would only be logical to consider that their numbers would grow exponentially over several centuries.
Comment #3: The Lamanites were a compound of not only the regulars, but also all the Nephite dissenters, the Amalekites, the Zoramites, and the descendants of wicked king Noah. These later groups were centered in the western end of El Salvador (the land of Lehi, or Lenca). The Lenca are still in the land of Shilom (the old land of Nephi-2), which is La Paz, Honduras in the Comayagua area. This region was the capitol of Honduras until 1880. At the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in this valley, the Lencas were a bilingual people. They spoke both Lenca (Lehite) and Nahuatl (Nephite). The Nahua settlements extended from this exact region up into most of central Mexico” Kayleigh T.
Response: First of all, we know nothing of the descendants of the wicked king Noah. We do know about the descendants of Noah’s evil priests who joined with the Lamanites. However, their descendants were displeased with the history and actions of their fathers, and opted to be known as Nephites from that time forward (Mosiah 25:12). Secondly, there is absolutely no comment or suggestion in the scriptural record about where these groups (Nephite defectors) were settled in the Land of Nephi, consequently, it is foolhardy and the worst type of scholarship to claim one knows where they were in a modern-day land. Third, there is no suggestion or any type of basis to claim that Lehi had a separate language than the Nephites in general—again, this is foolhardy and fallacious.
Comment #4: “I pulled this off the internet and since it was about South America, thought you might enjoy it…’It seems fitting that the departure site of Lehi’s party in the Old World was called Bountiful, and that the arrival site of their landing in the New World was also called Bountiful. So Lehi’s party sailed from Bountiful to Bountiful, from one Bountiful land of plenty in the Old World to another Bountiful land of plenty in the New World. I believe that Brother Maxwell is correct about both lands of Bountiful. I believe the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith are correct about the landing site of Lehi being just a little south of the Isthmus of Darien. I believe that great Book of Mormon scholar, Elder George Reynolds, is correct about the Magdalena River being the same as the River Sidon of the Book of Mormon. To understand the geography of the Book of Mormon does not make the least bit of difference to the truthfulness of that great volume of scripture. But it does help me to envision the physical settings in which the Nephites and Lamanites lived, and it does bring real life environments to the pages of the Book of Mormon” Ansel D.
Response: The quote you sent in is from Dan R. Hender, on his website in an article entitle “From Bountiful to Bountiful,” posted August 20, 2011. I am not a big fan of Hender’s and your quote is one of the reasons why. All that support information of what he believes and not one comment about believing anything Mormon, Moroni, or any of the other prophets wrote. Joseph Smith’s comment about landing was in reference to Lloyd Stephens book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Joseph read in 1841, his first awareness of the ruins found in Central America. Personally, I prefer to read the scriptural record written by those who were there and knew and understood their Land of Promise. And lastly, the Magdalena River could not possibly be the Sidon River—check out the scriptural record’s references to the river and then look up the Magdalena on a map and consider where Zarahemla was in relation to the river, etc., etc., etc.

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