Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Narrow Neck of Land One More Time – Part IV—Mesoamericanists’ Achilles Heel

Continuing from the last posts showing the fallacy of the Mesoamerican Theorists’ view of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in being the narrow neck of land—it becomes clear that this isthmus is the real Achilles heel of every Mesoamerican model.
John E. Clark claims that John L. Sorenson has preserved the orientation of Mesoamerica in all of his arguments, and he has not, to Clark’s knowledge, altered even a single scripture to say that north was west or south was east. He makes this statement based on James Warr’s claim; however, what Clark seems to ignore is that Sorenson’s map ignores the directions of the scriptural record and he creates his own directions to match that of his model even though they are considerably different than Mormon’s description. Of course, Sorenson spends several pages trying to justify his model’s different directions, but it is really disingenuous of Clark to claim Sorenson didn’t change the scriptures—of course he did, perhaps not in the way Warr claims, but change them he did.
Take Mormon’s simple description of directions: “the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful” (Alma 22:31). In comparison take a look at Sorenson’s directions for his Land Desolation and his Land Bountiful:
On Sorenson’s map, yellow arrow points to his Land of Desolation, and the orange arrow points to his Land of Bountiful. As can easily be seen, they are west and east of one another, not north and south as Mormon describes
Now, in order to justify his east-west map to the scriptural record, Sorenson doesn’t change the scripture, he changes the knowledge of the Nephite people by claiming they thought west was north and east was south. Therefore Clark can say Sorenson didn’t change the scripture, however, as can easily he seen, Sorenson changed the meaning of the scripture. There is very little difference between the two. The same can be seen in Sorenson’s labeling a sea to the north as the East Sea, and a sea to the south as the West Sea. The problem is, from this point on, Sorenson never relates to the scripture again on these points, but relates to his map. This is both unscholarly and disingenuous! It is hidden behind the concept that “Sorenson does not assume that northward in the Book of Mormon is obvious, so it is not something that can be taken at face value. The problem resides neither in the manipulation of modern maps nor in ancient scripture but in the [reconciliation] of the two.”
On Sorenson’s map, yellow arrow points to his East Sea, and the orange arrow points to his West Sea. As can easily be seen, they are north and south of one another, not east and west as Mormon describes
The problem is, there is no need to reconcile the scriptures with a modern map. Book of Mormon scripture is accurate, modern maps may or may not be accurate for the Nephite time period. Even if Mesoamerica was the Land of Promise, which this example alone shows it is not, if we need to alter the meaning of a scripture, by claiming we know something the vast majority of readers does not, then we need to change our approach, or find some other way to explain the difference, which would be extremely difficult to do since Mormon (a prophet) and Joseph Smith (a prophet) and the spirit involved with both would have to be shown they are wrong in one way or another—and that is an issue that only a foolhardy man, or an arrogant man, would even think needed to be done, let alone make the attempt.
Every statement made about the Land Northward and the Land Southward and, indeed, their very names, show us that these lands were on a north-south directional line, but that does not agree with the Mesoamerican model, therefore, Sorenson needed to change the meaning of the directions so he could use his east-west map and model.
However, north is north, and the Land Northward is northward, and contains the lands of Desolation, Cumorah and many waters. The latter is so far north that “it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken” (Alma 22:30). Now Mosiah tells us about that land of bones: “And they were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel” (Mosiah 8:8).
Consequently, Mormon describes a Land of Promise that is oriented north and south. The problem is, Sorenson wants us to believe that Mosiah and Mormon, who had never been to Israel and, therefore, could not have been influenced by the etymology of Hebrew words, would not have thought to stand with their back to the sea and say they were facing east as Sorenson claims the Jews did in Jerusalem anciently. But that is Sorenson’s basic argument in changing the directions the Nephites knew and understood. To illustrate this change of direction, his map shows us a Land Northward to the west and a Land Southward to the east:
On Sorenson’s map, the yellow arrow points to his Land Northward, and the orange arrow points to his Land Southward. Note that these two lands are east and west of one another, not north and south as the scriptures state
The point is, Sorenson’s map does not agree with the descriptions of the Land of Promise found in the Book of Mormon. To illustrate this further, Sorenson has on his map that the Land of Many Waters is a great distance, about 250 miles, from his area of the Hill Cumorah, however, Mormon describes them in the same area, when he wrote: “And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Mormon 6:4). Obviously, Sorenson’s locations are not consistent with Mormon’s description.
On Sorenson’s map, yellow arrow points to his Land of Many Waters, and the orange arrow points to the location of his Hill Cumorah. The distance is about 250 miles between these two areas, with his Hill Cumorah only about 100 miles form the narrow neck, and his Land of Many Waters about 350 miles from the narrow neck
As a side note, when Clark claims that Sorenson has not altered a single scripture, might it be noted that while the Flood of Noah’s time is dated in Genesis between 2344 and 2343 B.C. in the Bible and also in the Book of Moses, Pearl of Great Price, Sorenson uses the date of 3100 B.C. to agree with the Mayan calendar—I would say that this is changing scripture. To see all the scriptures Sorenson does alter, change, or try to explain away, see the book Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican & Other Theorists--there are so many it took an entire book to cover them.
In addition, in Clark’s evaluation of Joseph Allen’s Mesoamerican model, which differs from Sorenson’s model, he says: “Allen's proposed east sea is not associated with his proposed narrow neck. Allen identifies the Belize coast as the borders of the east sea but places the narrow neck at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec several hundred miles due west. This is poor logic and modeling. He can't have both.” We might say at this point, you can’t have Mesoamerica, an east-west orientation land, and the scriptural description of the Book of Mormon which describes the Land of Promise as a north-south oriented land. To do so is “poor logic and modeling, you can’t have both.”
(See the next post, “The Narrow Neck of Land One More Time – Part VI—Mesoaermicanists’ Achilles Heel,” for more on this difficult area for the Mesoamerican Theorist model to reconcile with the scripture)

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