Monday, October 7, 2013

The Narrow Neck of Land One More Time – Part XIX—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:   
    43. “Of the three proposals for Book of Mormon lands in Central America—Warr's, Christensen's, and Simiskey's—only Christensen's comes close to matching the requirements in the text, and then only barely… His model merits future consideration but, for the moment, is not a serious rival to Sorenson's.”
    Response: It would seem, then, if Sorenson’s model fails to meet the scriptural record criteria (what Mesoamericanists call the “text’), then all other Mesoamerican models must also fail to measure up. Since FARMS and most Mesoamericanists agree that Sorenson’s model is the best, one can see why they support it so vigorously. I wonder what will happen when Sorenson’s model is shown to be inaccurate and certainly not a match for the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. Since Mesoamericanists never think of that possibility, the fall will surely be great!
    44. “Candidates for Book of Mormon lands in Costa Rica and Panama are not credible because they fall far short of required population—in terms of absolute numbers as well as relative numbers. The archaeological and cultural details do not fit either. The bottom line of my quick analysis is that Sorenson's model is the only credible one in terms of physical geography and archaeology. These are not the only criteria that ought to be considered, however. Allen stresses in his work that multiple lines of evidence, or independent witnesses, should be considered in identifying Book of Mormon lands, a point with which I agree and to which I now turn.” 
(Image A – First and foremost, the most important criteria, and in face of the manipulation and self-serving nature of the use of modern archaeology and anthropology findings, perhaps the only criteria for accurate usage in trying to place the Book of Mormon lands, are the scriptures. Mormon’ overall account, and that of others such as Alma, Mosiah, Helaman, the Disciple Nephi, and above all Mormon for his descriptive and geographical settings, should be the basis of any land of promise investigation or critique. Stated differently, if a model, no matter how much an author might try to cover-up or change Mormon’s basic criteria, doesn’t match the actual scriptural record (without change, alteration, or adjustment), then it should be considered suspect. If the physical arrangement can be shown to have been different in Nephite times than it is seen today, and without adjusting Nephite writing, then it can be considered—if it does not and cannot be shown to have been in agreement in Nephite times, then it should be discarded and not try and defend something that is inaccurate!
    Response: First, the population figures anyone presents cannot be verified with any scriptural record in any way. Stated differently, they are merely guesses, or hypothesis that can never be tested and proven, therefore of little if any value. Second, there is no question that Costa Rica and Panama are not credible since they lack so many of the descriptive information Mormon left us. Third, the problem lies in Mesoamerica as Sorenson champions it and Clark defends it. It also is not credible for it also does not match the scriptural record without making numerous changes in the wordage or understanding of the wordage of the scriptural record. While Sorenson easily clouds the issue of the scriptural record, nothing he has stated in defense of his model can be shown to be correct based on the simple knowledge of the Book of Mormon and those erstwhile men who lived in the land, who wrote the record, and the Prophet Joseph who translated it. The Lord would never tell us that the Land of Promise was north and south, when it really meant east and west to those who would later read it. The Lord is not a God of confusion, and so much of what Sorenson claims, and Mesoamericanists promote, is simply confusing to the normal person who reads the book and makes a comparison with the Mesoamerican model. Unfortunately, most LDS simply take Sorenson and FARMS, etc., at face value. They do not look up the reference scriptures to see that they do not say what Sorenson claims they say.
    I have never met John E. Clark. But with his credentials and knowledge, he ought to know better than promote a model that has almost no comparison with the scriptural record as it stands, was written and translated and presented to us. I understand Sorenson, Allen, and others whose livelihood, careers and reputation hang on Mesoamerica, with their books, tours, promotions, etc., and their need to promote Mesoamerica—but someone with these type of credentials should step forward when critiquing work on the subject, and point out that Mesoamerica itself is, at the very best, suspect itself, and cannot and certainly should not, be used as the basis of any critique. However, because that has not happened in all the years such discussion has been going on, at least half a century or more, perhaps that is why the Lord chose an unlearned boy to become his prophet and bring about the restoration. Joseph certainly found no acceptance among those educated men of his day, nor those who should have known better, but were simply too caught up in their own theories and correctness, livihoods and reputations, to see beyond what they learned from men, and not from God.
    45. “[Joseph] Allen follows M. Wells Jakeman's approach to Book of Mormon or sacred geography in pursuing a combination of archaeology, ethnohistory, and anthropology, an approach he calls the law of witnesses. "This simply means that if we make a Book of Mormon geographical hypothesis, we ought to test that hypothesis against the archaeological, cultural, and traditional history of the area. In the absence of these two or three witnesses, I feel we stand on rather shaky ground."
    Response: The Lord tells us that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, the truth will be known. It seems to me that we can have no witnesses of the Land of Promise other than those who lived there, knew of its shape, description, and what was upon and within the land. We have those witnesses in the Book of Mormon.
(Image B – LtoR: Nephi, Mormon, and Joseph Smith—all wrote and testified of what they wrote as both the truth and inspired by the Spirit. It seems these three witnesses alone should carry far more weight than a current academician, historian, or writer who wants to disagree with their writing in one way or another and replace it with their own way of thinking
    We have, first of all, Nephi, one of the great prophets of any dispensation, who correctly said, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7); we have Mormon, the man the Lord chose to abridge the entire writings of all the other prophets; we have Moroni, who was given the task of abridging the record of another great prophet, Ether. There are others, but if we just listen to those three, we learn all we need to know about the Land of Promise—but only if we take their writing at face value without trying to claim it means something other than what it says. And lastly, we have the prophet of this Dispensation, Joseph Smith, who interpreted Nephi, Moroni and Mormon’s writings under the direction of the Spirit, translating into what we now have as the Book of Mormon—the scriptural record of the Jaredites and Nephites, their land, lives, and society. This would seem sufficient to accept their writing as is, without trying to show that they meant something other than exactly what they wrote, or that they didn't no directions, understand their land upon which they lived, or the relationship of those lands, one to another.
    More would also be learned if, instead of spending time on trying to figure out what city in the Book of Mormon was a city in Mesoamerica, as all Mesoamericanists do even though there is so little information to base any such opinion on, perhaps they would be better served to read the scriptural record and try to see what Nephi told us about his travel to the Land of Promise, what Mormon told us with his insertions about the descriptions and locations of the land, and what Moroni who compared the Ether record and some locations with that of the Nephites. After all, Nephi told us what propelled his ship, and a knowledge of those winds and currents that drove his ship toward the Land of Promise are all important in looking for where he would have landed. To pick a land, then decide where he landed is simply not productive and can never lead to a correct answer. Nor can we try to show that Mormon and the Nephites before him did not understand the cardinal points of the compass in order to justify a land model 90º off kilter to what the scriptural record tells us. And what about the two unknown animals, two unknown grains we are told were upon the land? What about the ores in such abundance? What about the four seas? What about the Land of Promise being an island? Certainly Mesoamerica does not answer any of these points, or scores of others, in the scriptural record.
    46. “[Allen] points out that Mesoamerica is the only area of the Americas where people could read and write, an absolutely fundamental requirement for Book of Mormon peoples.”
    Response: It is interesting that no one seems to realize what they are saying when they quote this type of information. Those who could read and write were 1) Jaredites, who were annihilated by their own internal civil wars; 2) Mulekites after joining with the Nephites; 3) Nephites (and Mulekites) were both exterminated by the Lamanties; 4) Lamanites, who had to be taught by the Nephites, but who likely did not continue with that since they had such a hatred for anything Nephite. The point is, after 421 A.D., it is unlikely than anyone mentioned in the Book of Mormon were left who could read and write. Certainly the scriptural record tells us that the Lord told the Nephites that the Lamanties would destroy their records. Obviously, after the two hundred years of peace, those who “revolted from the Church and took upon themselves the name of Lamanites” (4 Nephi 1:20), who rejected the gospel (4 Nephi 1:38), were not likely to continue with any writing techniques during the many years of civil wars among them after the Nephites were gone. And Ammaron hid the records so they might not be destroyed (Mormon 2:17), and that “the Lamanites would destroy them” (Mormon 6:6). It seems only reasonable to think that any Nephite writing would have been destroyed along with the Nephites. In addition, the writing found in Mesoamerica by the Spaniards, were little more than picture drawings, not hieroglyphics (like Egyptian) and not word representation (like Hebrew), or anything akin to them. So what exactly is the value of finding someone who could read and write when that writing has nothing to do with the Book of Mormon people?

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