Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Narrow Neck of Land One More Time – Part XVII—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. In pursuing this, the following is from John E. Clark, himself a Mesoamericanist and follower of John L. Sorenson’s model, in which he defends the Mesoamerican Theory. Clark’s arguments continue:    
    33. “The reason Sorenson's model has become the industry standard is because it constitutes a strong correlation between Book of Mormon requirements and real world geography, anthropology, and archaeology.”
    Response: To just about anyone not associated with FARMS, BYU archaeology and anthropology, and Mesoamerica tours, etc., does not agree that Sorenson’s model has a strong correlation with the Book of Mormon. Nor can it be said that the real world geography of Mesoamerica agrees in any way with the overall geography of the scriptural record as described by Mormon. There are such discrepancies that Sorenson has had to explain away such simple ideas as clear Nephite directions stated throughout most of the scriptural record, starting with Alma 22. Only the most liberal reading regarding the narrow neck of land could allow a uninvolved reader to think the Isthmus of Tehuantepec agrees in any way with Mormon’s description of his “small neck of land.” 
Wrong directions alone should disqualify Mesoamerica, despite Sorenson's attempts to claim the Nephnites did not know the cardinal directions in a new land when earlier scripture shows that they did
    Archaeology and Anthropology of non-LDS professionals in the field claim there is no relationship to Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon, and have written about it in numerous professional publications. When Clark or anyone else claims there is a match, they are simply ignoring all the discrepancies between Mormon’s descriptions and Mesoamerica. When Sorenson’s model disagrees with Mormon’s description, as it does continually, Sorenson had to come up with ambiguous claims based upon subjects having nothing to do with the Land of Promise in any way, citing ancient Icelandic cultures, North American Indian distant runners, etc. Nor does Mesoamerica agree with the numerous descriptions of what was found on the land by Nephi, etc. Where even his own relationship between people and the scriptural record, such as with the Olmec, when they are found to have been in the area the record says they were not, Sorenson has to hedge his bets by claiming only some of the Olmecs were Jaredites. Where the scriptural record gives no indication of anyone else in the land, Sorenson invents them to agree with his model, etc., etc., etc. In fact, to anyone studying the scriptural record that is not blindly following Sorenson's re-invention of scriptural writing, Mesoamerica does not match anything that Mormon described and wrote about.
    34. In [Joseph] Allen's model, the land of Bountiful is more important and larger than the land of Zarahemla. I see no support in the Book of Mormon for this proposition. Of greatest interest here is that Allen inverts the specified relations among territories, with Nephite territories being four to five times more extensive than Lamanite lands. Allen's Nephite territories are on a par with those of the Jaredites in the land northward. This constitutes a fundamental flub and sufficient reason for rejecting his model outright.”
    Response. While Allen’s model certainly does not agree any more with the scriptural record than does Sorenson’s, it is interesting that Clark calls it a “flub” when something doesn’t match the scriptural record. Too bad he doesn’t apply this same concept to the Mesoamerican model when it also does not match the scriptural record.
    35. Other fatal flaws could be listed, but the few mentioned suffice to disqualify Allen's model as a credible correlation of Book of Mormon lands.”
    Response: This exact terminology could and should be applied to Sorenson’s Mesoamerican model and, in fact, to the entire Mesoamerican Theory. If Clark were honest about this, he would have to use the same “fatal flaws” assessment against Mesoamerica, though that will never happen. The Mesoamerican belief is so ingrained in almost all at BYU-FARMS that it is impossible for them to step back and assess their own model with the same scrutiny and judgment they use when so critically evaluating other theories.
    36. “Allen's and Sorenson's models represent the two principal competitors for a limited Mesoamerican geography centered at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.”
    Response: Evaluating the Book of Mormon and the Land of Promise therein is not a contest and is not a matter of competing theories or whose theory is better. The only thing that matters is does any theory agree with the actual wordage of the Book of Mormon and Mormon’s rather detailed description of its shape and alignment, etc., and of Nephi’s description of what was found in the land when they landed, and the writings of the other prophets who, in some cases, gave us explanations of the geography. Other than that, nothing else really matters. And certainly not Sorenson’s many attempts to explain away why Mormon and other prophet’s descriptions are not accurate, or are based on a different criteria than their simple wordage. Unfortunately, people like Sorenson and Clark start out with the assumption that Mesoamerica is the Land of Promise, and then evaluates anything else against that certain belief, when in reality, that belief is so flawed and illogical when comparing it to the scriptural record, that it is a wonder anyone with such educated backgrounds as these two men could possibly believe in such a Mesoamerican theory.
    37. “If one excludes South America from consideration as a viable land southward, as one ought, then another consequence of moving the narrow neck and Book of Mormon lands southward in Central America is that the potential size of the land southward also shrinks, and the requirements for land sizes, or scale, become increasingly difficult to fulfill.”
    Response: It is the nature of the Mesoamericanists to ignore South America because today it is a large, single sub-continent, and far too large to be considered by the geography of the Book of Mormon. It is a shame, however, that Clark, Sorenson and others ignore South America’s geologic history, which is verified by numerous geologists that at one time the western area (west of the Andes) was once an island and fit the size of the Book of Mormon descriptions. This information, with scientific references, has been the subject of several posts in this blog over the years. It is also the nature of the Mesoamericanists to continue to beat a dead horse! Mesoamerica does not fit any of the criteria of Mormon’s descriptions without changing either the scriptural record or changing the meaning behind what is written or telling us the Nephites didn’t mean what they said because of their different orientation—all of which is contrary to the concept of Mormon’s words being translated by a prophet, Joseph Smith, under the guidance of the holy spirit, and the understanding that the Book of Mormon was written for us in our day to our understanding!
    38. Clark makes the following statement about James Warr’s Costa Rica model: “This figure can't even account for the absolute minimum Nephite population of 230,000 dead at Cumorah in AD 387, and it creates even greater problems for the Book of Mormon narrative and the requirement that Lamanites significantly outnumber Nephites.”
    Response: Why don’t we simply take Clark’s critique of Warr’s model and apply it to his own, i.e., Sorenson’s model of Mesoamerica? If we did, it would read: “Sorenson’s direction for an east-west Mesoamerica does not account for the absolute simplicity of Mormon’s north-south directions, and it creates even greater problems for the Book of Mormon narrative and the requirement that the Land of Promise was oriented northward and southward.” You see, the problem lies with Clark and all other Mesoamerican Theorists, is that they accept Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise and turn a blind eye to everything that disqualifies it--even the scriptural record itself. They look at all other theories that differ from theirs as being unquestionably wrong and never apply the critiques they use on other models against their own model. In this way, everything other than their model is going to be wrong before it is even considered since their model is the only one that is correct in their minds, and all others must, of necessity, be wrong.
    39. “The [James Warr] model is also deficient in terms of scale.”
    Response: It is always interesting when Mesoamerican theorists start talking about the size of the Land of Promise as though the scriptural record gives much of a understanding of this. However, what Clark, and Mesoamericanists, mean by the above is that Warr’s model is deficient in terms of scale compared to their Mesoamerican model.
    (See the next post, “The Narrow Neck of Land One More Time – Part XVIII—Mesoaermicanists’ Achilles Heel,” for more on this difficult area for the Mesoamerican Theorist model to reconcile with the scripture)

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