Thursday, August 21, 2014

More on Sorenson’s Land of Promise – Part III

We are continuing with John L. Sorenson’s book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, which is so extensively hyped by Mesoamericanists and Land of Promise Theorists, especially because of Sorenson’s reputation as the one-time Dean of Anthropology at BYU, and current status as Professor Emeritus, and referred to as the “Guru of Book of Mormon Archaeology,” that it needs a reality check every so often to remind everyone of what this Theorist believes and describes that is in such conflict with Mormon's descriptions and the scriptural record.
    Continuing with Sorenson’s comments as to why he is 100 percent correct in stating that the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the narrow neck of land, along with our counter responses:
    Reasons 1: Sorenson: “As noted, when readers of the Book of Mormon use critical criteria associated with language, high civilizations, archaeological evidence, historical evidence, radiocarbon dating, and the geographic configuration of Book of Mormon lands in identifying the New World setting for the Book of Mormon, Mesoamerica turns out to be the only tenable New World setting for the Book of Mormon.”
    Response: Let’s get to the point here. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is 120 miles across  as the crow flies, closer to 144 miles on foot according to the Mexican government figures, which seems, in and of itself, enough cause to disqualify it as Mormon’s “narrow neck of land” (Alma 22:32; 63:5), since he tells us that a Nephite could cross that narrow neck in “a day and a half’s journey” (Alma 22:32). At 120 miles for 12 hours of constant walking, then another six straight hours later, would equal a pace of 6.67 miles per hour. If the trip was 144 miles, that would be maintaining an 8 mile-per-hour pace without a stop for 12 hours, then six more hours.
Boston Marathon where 35,671 entered, with the fastest pace for just over two hours was 12.6 miles per hour, but the average pace was just over five hours in just under five miles per hour
    To put this in perspective, Olympian Ryan Hall’s best marathon (26.2 miles) pace of 12.6 mph for 2 hours, four minutes, fifty-eight seconds, which he ran in the 2011 Boston Marathon. At the Cleveland Marathon, which will be run next year, pace charts show a pace of 12 mph will finish in 2 hours eleven minutes, while a pace of 8 mph will finish in 3 hours 16 minutes and 30 seconds, and a pace of 6.67 mph will finish in 3 hours 55 minutes and forty eight seconds.
    As one runner, who had spent over five straight months working out and getting reading for the Marine Corps Marathon in 2013, said after the race: “By mile 17, I’d added a little bit of walking into the mix, hoping it would alleviate the nausea and foot pain. My quads and calves started to feel tight and I occasionally joined the people attempting to stretch a little by the sidelines. At mile 19 my knee started to be a real problem, the aching in my feet had been going on so long that I’d pretty much tuned it out. I limped along to mile 20, still  jogging more than walking. I slowed to a walk to take a quick break, but when I went to switch back to a jog my knee collapsed under me. I walked from there to mile 25, then half jogged to the end, finishing the marathon in 5 hours 33 minutes.” Her pace for only 5 ½ hours was 4.73 mph, and after that effort, was "more than ready to quit."
    Sorenson’s 120 miles would be 6.67 mph for 12 straight hours and then another 6 straight hours—and marathons are run on smooth streets without obstacles; the narrow neck of land would be up and down hills, through forests, swamps, etc. Could anyone do that? Of course. Certainly individuals, perhaps one in ten thousand, could do so. But when Mormon said “a Nephite,” he is not singling out a special individual, but a common man.
    Reason 2: Sorenson: “A careful reading of the Book of Mormon in an attempt to discern the general “shape” of the overall land of the Book of Mormon confirms that an hourglass image results from content about the land northward, narrow neck of land, and land southward. The mental image that comes from these three components is first, that of an hourglass, and second, that of the corresponding “shape” of Mesoamerica, although the hourglass image reflected in Mesoamerica is of an hourglass lying on its side—or in a horizontal rather than a vertical position—to justify the Nephite directions of “northward” and “southward.”
    Response: We have talked about this in the last post.
Left: While this example map satisfies the descriptions Mormon give us of the Land of Promise, it is not shaped like an hourglass, though it has a narrow neck of land between two larger land masses. Right: A map of Mesoamerica. Obviously, Sorenson’s idea of matching a Book of Mormon shape to Mesoamerica is not valid as he claims
    However, some additional comments might be in order. First, Sorenson insists on using the hourglass image since it reflects the Mesoamerican shape of his model. Second, one can lay a map in any direction one wants, but when you skew the directions from those listed, you get errors. Sorenson ignores his errors, by explaining them away under the guise the Nephites did not use our cardinal directions, though Nephi’s own writing says otherwise.
    Reason 3: Sorenson: “Under the assumption that Mesoamerica is, indeed, the New World setting for the Book of Mormon, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the only isthmus that matches the content of the Book of Mormon and that reflects findings from the archaeological and historical records of Mesoamerica.”
    Response: A more accurate statement would be that the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the only isthmus in Mesoamerica that could be singled out for a narrow neck, and that is by stretching the facts considerably. And an even more accurate statement would be that Mesoamerica does not match the scriptural record at all as being the Land of Promise.
    In order to make it appear that it does, Sorenson fallaciously alters his own maps (Map 1 p7, Map 2 p11, Map 3 p20, and Map 4 p24) from his tilted hourglass that runs northward and southward in a more closely associated directional configuration with Mormon’s simple, but clear descriptions, to a horizontal map of Mesoamerica, which runs directly east and west along the line of the narrow neck of land.
Sorenson’s deception. Take a look at the five easily discerned points of error: Yellow Arrow: Land Northward (left map in the north, right map in the west); Red Arrow: East Sea or Sea East (left map in the east, right map in the north); Blue Arrow: West Sea or Sea West (left map in the west, right map in the south); Dark Green Arrow: Land Southward (left map in the south, right map in the east); and Light Green Arrow: Narrow Neck of Land (left map runs basically north and south, right map runs due east and west)
    This is not scholarly work. It is deceptive and outright fallacious. There is obviously an intent to mislead and confuse in trying to show that his Mesoamerica model matches Mormon’s descriptions by using four maps that more or less match Mormon’s descriptions, then inserts a map that clearly does not match Mormon’s descriptions or even the earlier descriptions or even his earlier four maps.
    When Sorenson alters his map from a northward-southward orientation to his Mesoamerica west-east orientation, he writes on p36 “More detail is not necessary at this point. The general agreement between Mesoamerican and Book of Mormon geography can be grasped directly by studying map 5 carefully.”
    Why is not more detail needed when the simplest five points of his two maps are so in error and inconsistent? It would seem prudent to provide far more detail that these two simple maps. In addition, as shown by these two maps above, there simply is no “general agreement between Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon.”
    In fact, the more information we get into, especially that which is based on the scriptural record, such as Mormon’s description, directions, distances, etc., we find there is little or no agreement whatsoever. In the next post we will cover this.
(See the next post, “More on Sorenson’s Land of Promise – Part IV,” for a better understanding of the “Liahona” and how it operated)

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