Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Narrow Neck of Land One More Time – Part XVIII—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:    
   40. In speaking of James Warr’s population estimates for the Land of Promise on his Costa Rica model, John E. Clark says: “This argument is patently fallacious and internally self-defeating. Warr marshals population figures that meet his estimates for 80 million Jaredites and 8 million Nephites/Lamanites. He does so by projecting modern populations back in time and ignoring technological change and modern medicine. This is akin to estimating the pre-Mormon population of Utah at several million Utes because that is how many people reside in Utah today. Obviously, several factors in the last several centuries have encouraged unprecedented population growth and density, and these same factors have led to the high populations in Mexico and Central America.”
    Response: First, during Book of Mormon days, there was no where else to live except in the concentrated area of the Land of Promise; however, today, a person can choose to live pretty much where he wants, such as in Utah (snow), southern Californnia (sun), Arizona (hot temperatures), Florida (sun and hurricanes), Seattle (rain), etc., etc., etc. There can be no comparison between today and the past on this issue.
Second, population figures for the Jaredites cannot in any way be based on current or past population figures just about anywhere in the world simply because most families today are restricted in size. In the 1950’s the majority of the population of six out of ten countries lived in rural areas, by the year 2000 the countries had urbanized considerably. Also, today, in the Western Hemisphere, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average family size is currently 3.14 people. In Canada, 2.6, in Central and South America the size is 3.9 per family. In the Eastern Hemisphere, Ireland has the highest at 3.1 per family, Japan 2.8, Italy at 2.7, Australia 2.6, and the rest of Europe less than that, with Sweden having the fewest at 2.1 World average is 2.5 per family.
   On the other hand, the figures for the Jaredites were obviously far greater—the only three we know the exact numbers for are Jared, 12 children; brother of Jared, 22 children; and Jared’s son, Orihah, 31 children. If we were to draw an average of these three, it would be 21.5 per family. With 24 families in the initial colony, that would be 524 children and 48, for a total of 572 in the first generation, making one Jaredite family equivalent to about eight families today. That means the Jaredites had families eight times greater in number than almost any country today. Consequently, if today’s figure is 10 million in an area, then Jaredite figures could have been 80 million. Now these numbers are obviously based upon an arguable premise, but it should show that Jaredite families were far larger than those of today. We also have to consider that the Jaredites lived longer lives and were more prolific than people of today, with several men mentioned having children “in their old age” (Ether 7:3, 7, 26; 9:14), and also, some took a younger wife in their older age—Coriantum was more than one hundred years and had sons and daughters after that age (Ether 9:24), and that they seem to have lived much longer (Ether 10:4, 13, 16; 11:4), with Coriantum’s wife dying at the age of 102.
   Third, while it is not known how large the numbers were in the Land of Promise for the Jaredites, or later Nephites-Mulekites-Lamanites, one cannot rule out much larger numbers than we might think today. Certainly it is not fallacious to suggest large numbers, for they are suggested throughout the scriptural record. The problem is, large numbers do not fit into the Limited Theory model of Mesoamerica, consequently, Mesoamericanists argue against large numbers.
   41. “Comparing the relative size of various proposed Book of Mormon lands to nineteenth-century census data provided a rough measure for evaluating five models. Sorenson's limited Mesoamerican model preserves the population ratios claimed in the Book of Mormon and can account for the absolute totals.” 
   Response: There are only two instances where “the population ratios” are mentioned among the Nephites in the entire scriptural record. First, when Mosiah led the Nephites out of the city of Nephi, leaving behind an unknown number of Nephites, thus providing us no knowledge of how many went with him, we are told that once they were combined to the people of Zarahemla, that these “Mulekites” were twice in number than the Nephites in Zarahemla (Mosiah 25:2), and that the Lamanites were twice as large in number than the combined Nephites and Mulekites (Mosiah 25:3); however, since Mosiah left the city of Nephi with only a portion (probably a small portion, they being the righteous, this comparison is misleading. The other figure was in the final battle between the Nephites and Lamanites in 374 A.D. And in this case, we are not told how many or the actual size of the Lamanite army, who “came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers” (Mormon 6:8), but some have estimated that the Lamanites must have been two to three times as many as the Nephites. In this latter case, we know for certain that 230,000 Nephites fell in that battle (Mormon 6:10-15). Their women and children (Mormon 6:7) may have been included in that number, but since the Nephites tended not to record women and children in the same numbers as men, it may have been a total of about 900,000 to a little over a million Nephites fell in their final battle. This would make the Lamanites somewhere between 600,000 and about 3 million; however, this still is misleading, since the Lamanites had been wiping out the Nephite population over the earlier several years (Mormon 4:21), and especially as the Nephites continued to flee and the slower ones were overtaken and killed (Mormon 5:7).
   In the case above, Clark is using a concept of “all things being equal,” in “comparing the relative size of various proposed Book of Mormon lands.” While that might be correct, i.e., each country had a relative population based on size of land, it is a most arguable concept, since seldom is one country equal to another in population density per square mile of land. As an example the population density per square mile out of 106 countries in the world, only 19 had duplicate populations per square mile, and most of the time only two countries had duplicate density figures, twice three countries, once four countries. This suggests that the chance of two countries having the same population density is less than 0.5 per cent.
   42. “[In] Allen's Tehuantepec model…his Nephite lands are much bigger than those for the Lamanites. I did not point out the known archaeological fact that the lands he designates as Nephite enjoyed higher population densities during the critical fourth century AD, so the disparity in territory sizes indicated in figure 10B would actually have been much greater when considered as population sizes.”
   Response: Though population figures in the Western Hemisphere in the 4th century A.D. cannot be known from any source other than the Book of Mormon, and that almost impossible to determine, population figures Clark discusses are irrelevant; however, even if known, the population figures in the 4wth century A.D. in Mesoamerica is not a defensible point since they are of Mesoamerican lands. Note that there is never any thought in Clark’s mind (or any other Mesoamericanist) that the Land of Promise may have been somewhere outside Mesoamerica. This is a particularly arrogant attitude when all other models have not been evaluated…such as Andean South America, for one. After all, one read of Lehi Never Saw Mesoaemrica, and Who Really Settled Mesoamerica, would show that this is an arguable issue that is never addressed by Clark and those at FARMS. As for the remark “Nephite lands are much bigger than those for the Lamanites,” it might be considered that for the first 500 years and much of the last 300 years, the Lamanites were restricted to the Land of Nephi, while the Nephites controlled the Land of Zarahemla, Land of Bountiful, Land of Desolation and the Land of Many Waters, which, according to the scriptural record, would amount to about ¾ of the entire Land of Promise.
   It should also be noted for all time that there is not one single suggestion that there was any land to the south of the Land of Nephi, or to the north of the land of Many Waters! Mesoamericanists, because of their model, have to maintain there was, but they have not a leg to stand on according to Mormon’s record. Of course (tongue in cheek) he might have failed to mention that like he failed to mention all these other peoples that Mesoamericanists claim were in the Land of Promise before, during and after the Nephite era other than Jaredites and Lamanites.

(See the next post, “The Narrow Neck of Land One More Time – Part XIX—Mesoaermicanists’ Achilles Heel,” for more on this difficult area for the Mesoamerican Theorist model to reconcile with the scripture)

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