Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Narrow Neck of Land One More Time – Part III—Mesoaermicanists’ Achilles Heel

Continuing from the last post showing the fallacy of the Mesoamerican Theorists’ view of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in being the narrow neck of land, we find that one of the arguments Mesoamericanists make about the Isthmus of Tehuantepec being the narrow neck of land in the Land of Promise is John E. Clark’s comment: “It is surrounded by ancient ruins of the classical Maya and Olmec eras. The land below the isthmus (east and south) is largely surrounded by water and could loosely be considered an island. It is at a lower elevation than the land on either side.”
However, ancient ruins surrounding the narrow neck is not particularly significant, since from the scriptural record, we cannot say for certain how many cities were built around the narrow neck—other than the City of Desolation. And since Clark mentions Olmec, it should be pointed out that the Olmec, who are considered to have been the Jaredites by Mesoamericanists, built their first city south of their narrow neck of land, or south of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. And there is no way the land south of their Isthmus could be considered an island unless one was to have an aerial or satellite view of the land—and even then, because the land continues to flow southward, any knowledge of the land would defeat such an attitude.
Having listed the 14 requirements shown in the last post, let us consider how the Isthmus of Tehuantepec stacks up against them. Again, quoting from James Warr (himself a Mesoamericanist) regarding the Isthmus of Tehuantepec:
1. It is much too wide. It is 140 miles across and would not be considered narrow by the average person. It could not be crossed in 1 ½ days by the average person, but would take 7 days at 20 miles per day.  Note: 20 miles per day would be averaging 1.7 miles per hour for 12 hours each day for 20 straight days—this would be an impossible pace for any average man, in Nephite times or now. In a day and a half, it would amount to 7.8 miles an hour.
2. It is oriented in the wrong direction. It is oriented in an east-west direction rather than the "northward" direction described in the Book of Mormon (Alma 22:32).
3. It is not bordered by a west sea and an east sea, but by a north sea and a south sea (Alma 22:32). Note: The North Sea is the Gulf of Mexico, and the south sea is the Pacific Ocean—there are no other seas around this isthmus.
4. It does not have a recognizable feature called the "narrow pass" (Alma 50:34 and 52:9).
Sorenson notes there are passes through the Sierra Madre Mountains; however, he ignores the easy passage to the north and to the south of these mountain passes between his Land Northward and his Land Southward
5. It is not located at a place where the "sea divides the land" (Ether 10:20). Note: The Mesoamerican model is not nearly divided in any one place, it is all far too wide, its narrowest point about 140 miles across.
6 It is unlikely that it could be completely blocked by an infestation of snakes as described in Ether 9:31-34. Note: The animals and snakes following them, would have followed a singular path, the Sierra Madre Mountains would have kept both the animals and snakes traveling on one side or the other.
7. This isthmus would be difficult to completely fortify against an invading army (Alma 52:9). Note: Actually, with the kind of weapons used in the Nephite era, it would be impossible.
8. Assuming that the Olmec and Early Formative people of this area were equivalent to the Jaredites, there are many of their ruins on both sides of the isthmus. However, the Jaredites did not build cities south of the narrow neck and preserved the land as a wilderness (Ether 10:21). This being the case, the area of Chiapas, Guatemala, etc., could not be the land of Zarahemla. Note: The Olmec area of La Venta rose to power around 900 B.C. following the destruction of San Lorenzo—the former is on the east (their south) of the Mesoamerican narrow neck and the latter is on the west side (their north). This should either eliminate this area as the narrow neck, or change the so-called history of the Olmec people, or cause the Mesoamerican Theorists to abandon their belief that the Olmec were the Jaredites; however, to the Mesoamericanist, it does none of these.
Note that this history map by John Todd (with the narrow neck added) shows that the Olmecs were on both sides of the Mesoamericanists narrow neck of land
The above list is Warr’s with my notes; and to this list I would add:
1. The entire land southward is not surrounded by water, and there is no Sea South (Helaman 3:8).
2. Actually, in this Mesoamerican model, there is no Sea North (Helaman 3:8).
3. The Land of Promise was not an isthmus as Warr, Sorenson and Allen all believe, but it was an island (2 Nephi 10:20). How anyone can believe it was anything other than an island is beyond me for Jacob made it as clear as possible: “We have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea.” And Nephi agreed with him and wrote it down in his record (2 Nephi 11:1).
In fact, not only does Warr say that “Errors made by scholars who are attempting to interpret the meaning of scriptural content of the Book of Mormon cast doubt on the validity of the work of such scholars and negate the impact of their scholarship in both academic and nonacademic circles,” but Joseph Allen, a Mesoamericanist, writes about this matter with his “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” method; he states that “We must take the Book of Mormon at face value. To alter its directions, as some current literature suggests, or to demand unbelievable distances, as tradition outlines, is unacceptable.”
That means that we need to take the scriptural record as it is written, without change, alteration, additions or deletions, or trying to explain matters away, avoiding or ignoring them—but accepting it for what it says. Thus, when Jacob says they were upon an island (2 Nephi 10:20), and Mormon says a Nephite could cross the narrow neck of land in 1 ½ days (Alma 22:32), and Moroni says that after the Flood, this land was held in reserve and a chosen land of the Lord (Ether 13:2), and when Lehi tells us that no one else was on his Land of Promise but his descendants and those the Lord would bring here (2 Nephi 1:8), and the many other statements and descriptions about the Land of Promise--we need to accept them at face value as they are written.
Allen also has said “We must be willing to accept existing maps at face value. To put water where none exists today, to create a make-believe narrow neck of land, or to alter the directions of the map confuses the issue and does nothing to solve the problem. By following both the Book of Mormon and the Mesoamerica map specifically, we find impressive geographical correlations.” John E. Clark then adds: “Of course, there is always a possibility that surface appearances are unproblematic [straightforward], obvious, and correct, but such could only be shown through analysis that explored other options and did not presume a priori [theoretical deduction] the validity of one's own superficial interpretation. Cultural background passes as epistemology [knowledge] here, and unconvincingly so.”
First of all, existing maps may or may not represent the geography of the Nephite period, and cannot arbitrarily be an absolute. At one time in history, the entire central western plains of North America was a huge lake or ocean following the Flood, probably during the time the Jaraedites were sailing to the New World. We are told that the Land of Promise had mountains become level places and level places become mountains, “whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23), which happened a little less than 2000 years ago, while the Nephites were in the Land of Promise.
(See the next post, “The Narrow Neck of Land One More Time – Part V—Mesoaermicanists’ Achilles Heel,” for more on this difficult are for the Mesoamerican Theorist model)

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