Friday, November 22, 2013

Comments Received from Readers – Part VI

Continuing with comments and questions received from readers of the blog.   
    Comment #1: “I know you don’t agree with Costa Rica as the Land of Promise, but I read where the land mass of Costa Rica/Panama could easily be considered an "isle" and is at least 80-90% surrounded by the Pacific and Caribbean. This is something that the average Nephite would have been visually aware of. By climbing one of the taller mountains in Costa Rica, one can see the oceans on both sides, and possibly Lake Nicaragua and the isthmus as well” Roland O.
    Response: You must have been reading James Warr’s materials, which we have thoroughly responded to and answered more than once. But since you have written, let me just show you a map of the area you mention and you tell me how anyone could think of it as an island.
No matter what mountain you stand on, while you can see one Sea you probably cannot see both (Caribbean and Pacific) in ther area of Warr's "narrow neck," but when you look in the other two directions and all you see is land as far as the eye can see. There is no possibility that this area could have been confused with an island based on standing on the highest mountains in the area.
Map shows the Isthmus of Rivas as Warr’s Narrow Neck of Land on the west of Lake Nicaragua, but the east side of the lake is wide open and completely accessible to the Land Northward from the south, contrary to the scriptural record
    As for the mountains, Cerro Chirripo is the tallest in Costa Rica and situated near the middle of the southern portion of the country. It stands 12,530 feet, and lies about 45 miles from the Caribbean Sea and about 30 miles from the Pacific, which means it might be possible to see both seas, however, it lies a little over 140 miles from Lake Nicaragua and about 190 miles from the beginning of the isthmus, which means there is no way it could see anything but land in both northward and southward directions. Much closer to all three is Mt. Arenal, a cone-shaped volcano which last erupted in 2010. It is 5,479 feet high, about 80 miles from the Caribbean, about 55 miles from the Pacific, 40 miles from Lake Nicaragua, and about 85 miles from the beginning of the isthmus, which means the horizon is about 80 miles away though you would not be able to detect any features at that distance. If someone could see all three of these bodies of water with the naked eye on any mountain anywhere in Costa Rica it would be extremely remarkable. 
    Even so, there would be no way to determine or even believe one was on an island since the distance to the nearest water in the opposite direction of the lake would be about 400 miles away. You would need an elevation of about 75,000 feet to see a horizon at that distance, and obviously, there would be no way to determine anything but a horizon line. Ask any pilot and he will tell you that flying 39,000 feet you can see a horizon line 235 miles away, but can distinguish nothing at that distance, neither land, sea, nor hills.
Top left: Horizon at ground level is about 3 miles away; Right: From a ridge 1000 feet high, the distant horizon is about 18 miles away. Bottom: On this far horizon as seen from a 2000 feet high ridge, the furthest mountain to the left is about 25 miles away, the furthest mountain in the right is under 35 miles—and these are elevations, which are easier to see at a distance. In none of these horizons can we distinguish anything but a general image, in the top right, nothing at all
    Comment #2: “As one of the reasons for people migrating into the Land Northward, John Sorenson claims that “More than curiosity must have impelled such numbers. What was it? We have seen earlier that the area in the land of Zarahemla that could boast good crop conditions was limited.” He also claims the 5,400 Nephites traveled into the Land Northward” Lana D.
Response: Sorenson needs to be read with one hand on the scriptures and the other on a dictionary of Joseph Smith’s time, since Sorenson often makes statements that are questionable, at best. In this case, the 5,400 were men who also had their women and children with them (Alma 63:4), which would number conservatively around 20,000 people. Also, they did not go into “the Land Northward,” but into “the land which was northward.” In English, those are two entirely different concepts with entirely different meanings, as we have written about on numerous occasions. In addition, we have no idea what the planting results were in the Land of Zarahemla. We know only that in the land where they first landed, they had great success where their harvest was exceedingly abundant (1 Nephi 18:24), and also in the area of the City of Nephi, after leaving his brothers who sought to kill him, they “did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance” (2 Nephi 5:11). 
    This same area could produce crops some 400 years later when Zeniff planted corn, wheat, barley, neas and sheum (Mosiah 9:9), which produced such abundant crops they could pay a tribute of half their corn, barley, and grain of every kind” to the Lamanites (Mosiah 7:22). As for why the 5,400 men with their women and children migrated on Hagoth’s ships, it was at the conclusion of a very long war, which had decimated crops, cities and many families. Evidently, several people wanted to go live somewhere else where they would not be under constant Lamanite attacks. This is also seen about 8 or 9 years later when “there were an exceedingly great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land” because of “much contention and many dissensions” (Helaman 3:3). It might be noted that these two phrases: to the land which was northward, and into the land northward, were written by the same hand, Mormon, describing the same issue, migration, but stated in different locational terms.
    Comment #3: “You have complained about Mesoamerica for a long time not being the Land of Promise. One of your arguments is that there is no real east or west seas. Yet, there seems no question that if the narrow neck is indeed an isthmus between two seas, and not a landlocked corridor as some authors have claimed, then the bodies of water that flanked it are the east and west seas mentioned in the Book of Mormon” Angus M.
Response: First of all, the complaint is not about Mesoamerica, it is about people who develop models claimed to be based on the scriptural record that do not follow the scriptural record descriptions. Secondly, in regard to your further comments, people can say whatever they want, but geography is its own truth. One look at Mesoamerica (above) shows everyone that it runs east and west and that is simply not an arguable issue! Thus, above an east-west line is north and below it is south. Again, these are not arguable facts! Consequently, one look at a Mesoamerican map—anyone’s map of Middle America—and you have to admit that the Gulf of Mexico is to the north and the pacific Ocean to the south, which means they are not east and west seas, but north and south seas. Now, when you look at an overall map of the Western Hemisphere, there can be no doubt that the overall appearance of Central America (below Mesoamerica) is a northward-southward orientation. 
The problem lies in the fact that the Nephites did not possess such maps, nor did they have aerial or satellite photographs. Modern man continually forgets that what is known today from these sources, would not have been known or understood in antiquity. Vision from ground level is quite different than looking at a map taken from a great height. As a result, the Nephites could not possibly have known what lay further to the north than the area of the Land of Many Waters, which Mesoamericanists claim lies within Mesoamerica—which means it is to the west of their narrow neck of land. Nor could the Nephites have known what lay to the south of the area of their first landing, since, to our knowledge, they never went in that direction. Thus, the inarguable point is simply that the Nephites could not have known there was any northward land beyond the Land of Many Waters, nor could they have known there was any southward land beyond the area of First Landing. As such, the area of the Mesoamericanists’ Land of Promise is simply the area we know as Mesoamerica, or Middle America, and that runs east and west and there can be no further discussion on these directions. And if the Mesoamerican Theorists were honest about it and not driven by their pre-determined location and willing to accept the most ridiculous and flimsy of arguments in favor of an east-west orientation of the Land of Promise that Sorenson and others make to claim it is northward and southward, they would have to admit that their model in no way could be construed to agree with Mormon’s description found in Alma 22:27-34, and elsewhere in the scriptural record. Unfortunately, they are so committed to this location, they simply ignore all the scriptural references that do not agree with their model!

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