Friday, March 14, 2014

Two Glaring Problems with Mesoamerica – Part I

The first glaring problem that cannot be overcome, despite all the rhetoric written to do so, is the problem with the directions of Mesoamerica. This land, without question, even to the agreement of all Mesoamericanists themselves, runs east and west, not north and south as Mormon describes (Alma 22:27-34). Much has been written abut this glaring disagreement with the Book of Mormon and all of Mormon’s numerous descriptions of the Nephite lands. There is simply no way to get around this very glaring difficulty despite the numerous different Theorists who have chosen to champion Mesoamerica, including FARMS, FAIR, BMAF, and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute, and the archaeological and anthropology departments at BYU. 
    It is always interesting why educated and lettered people would consider a model for the Land of Promise that is so glaringly different from Mormon’s so clear, precise, and simple descriptions. It is not rocket science—it is simply about north being north and south being south! Mesoamericanists, though, go to great lengths to try and sell us on north being west and south being east!
Though Mormon’s many descriptions show a north-south oriented Land of Promise, Mesoamerica clearly runs east and west
    There simply has never been a workable, reasonable, or even viable argument in favor of the skewed directions of Mesoamerica, though many have tried. Much has been written about the great discrepancy of these directions in this blog over the past three years, and in the book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica.
    The second glaring problem is one that has seldom, if ever, been discussed in a serious manner. And that is the glaring problem with Mesoamerica being an extended land, with more than 5,000 continuous miles to the north of Mesoamerica and well over 5,000 continuous miles to the south. Yet, despite Jacob telling us that the Land of Promise was an island (2 Nephi 10:20), and never in the scriptural record is there any mention of any land to the south of the Land of Nephi, or area of First Landing, and nary a word, suggestions, or idea stated of any land to the north of the Land of Many Waters, Mesoamericanists blithely try to sell us on their model, part of some 11,000 miles of continuous land.
    However, the real issue rests with the Last Battle of the Nephite Nation and Mormon’s decision to stand and fight at Cumorah. There is simply no logical or even workable reason to suggest why Mormon did not continue to retreat northward if there was so much land available to the north of the Land Northward.
    This second problem rests on the Mesoamerican claim that the Land of Promise (placed in Mesoamerica) does not have a northern boundary. That is, the land extends northward into Mexico, into the United States and also into Canada—a direct route of over 5,000 miles. And it does so without obstacles to traffic for people, both men, women and children, to travel in 385 A.D. And once reaching the area of the present U.S.-Mexico border, traffic could continue moving northward in a 2,500 mile arc, from west to east.
    There simply is no end to the direction a retreating army in Mesoamerica could have traveled in 385 A.D. to avoid a final, annihilating battle that would see women and children as well as every soldier, perhaps half a million people in all, slaughtered by a tremendously superior force.
    “My people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them” (Mormon 6:7), and thus some 230,000 men-at-arms, plus their wives and children, faced an approaching Lamanite army of some 500,000 men or more marching toward them, knowing this would be their last hour of life as “they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers” (Mormon 6:8).
If the Nephites had anywhere to flee northward beyond Cumorah and the Land of Many Waters, surely they would have kept retreating rather than stand and be slaughtered by the tremendously superior advancing Lamanite army
    Now, one might think, that if there was any chance to continue retreating, which the Nephites had basically been doing for some 50 years from the Lamanite armies that first attacked along the southern borders of Zarahemla in 327 A.D. (Mormon 2:3), they would do so.
    In fact, the Nephites from the very beginning were fearful of the Lamanite armies since when they crossed into the land of Zarahemla, “they did frighten my armies; therefore they would not fight, and they began to retreat towards the north countries.” This retreat eventually took them to the narrow neck of land, where a treaty between Mormon and the Lamanites-Robbers was signed 23 years later (Mormon 2:28). Then after a shaky ten year peace, the Lamanites attacked again and the war moved back and forth around the city of Desolation near the narrow neck of land for three years, and after the Nephites “went up to battle against the Lamanites, out of the Land Desolation” (Mormon 4:2) the following year, the Lamanites retaliated and drove the Nephites further and further northward, destroying every city that the Nephites vacated, capturing those who did not retreat fast enough, sacrificing Nephite women and children to their dumb idols (Mormon 4:14-15). Finally, knowing there was nowhere else to run, Mormon agreed to a final battle.
Mormon gathered all his forces and all the people far to the north in the Land of Cumorah, which contained the land of many waters, for one climatic, final battle with the Lamanite invaders (Mormon 5:19). And the vastly superior Lamanite armies descended upon the Nephites as Mormon arranged his forces around the hill Cumorah.
    Now the question begs to be asked, as Sorenson did in his book, “Why didn't the Nephites continue retreating farther and farther north and so escape the Lamanites altogether?"

It is a question seldom asked by Mesoamericanists because there is no legitimate answer. But it is still a legitimate question given the extended Mesoamerican model of the land of promise. Why not retreat clear through Mexico and beyond?  Certainly, if the land of promise was in Central America as they claim, there were thousands and thousands of miles to the north where the Nephites could have gone to escape the Lamanites and total destruction.    
    However, listen to Sorenson's unbelievable answer to his own question: 
    “In the first place, we must realize that rarely if ever is there any decent land that does not already contain a sizable population, so they would have had to deposess other people first.” 
    All the best parts of millions of square miles already taken by other people?  Having traveled through Mexico, even today, there are hundreds of thousands of square miles to the east/north of Mesoamerica (their land of promise) that is still vacant, open land. If not suitable for settlement (and who is suggesting these fleeing Nephites were looking for a place to settle?), it would certainly have been a land through which the Nephites could have continued in their retreat.
Top: Central Mexico, just east/north of Mesoamerica; Bottom: Northern Mexico. These pics show the emptiness of the Mexican interior. Rather than facing certain death, the Nephites could have escaped northward through this open land 
(See the next post, “Two Glaring Problems with Mesoamerica – Part II,” for the continuation of this second glaring problem with a Mesoamerican model as the Land of Promise and specifically about Mormon’s army retreating northward)

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