Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sorenson’s Fallacy of Basing Nephite Directions – Part III

As stated in the last two posts, Writers and Theorists with a predetermined answer in mind have a tendency to give only the information that supports their point of view when citing other work, or even the scriptural record. This is especially true of John L. Sorenson as he tries so hard to convince us that the Nephites had their own directional system. 
     In the previous posts we showed the first part of this deceptive idea that the Nephites did not use our cardinal compass directions, a fallacious attempt to sell the idea of Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise, since that area runs east and west and not north and south as the Land of Promise is described.
    We also showed a map of Sorenson’s belief of when Nephi landed, he put his back to the sea and pointed forward and, using an ancient Hebrew custom, said, that is “east.” However, since where Lehi landed in Mesoamerica is merely a guess, what if he landed just a short distance further south. With back to the sea, north would have been true north.
If Nephi had set foot along the coast near Cerro El Baúl, a pre-classic site in present-day Escuintia Department, Guatemala. He would have seen north as we know it today and as Mormon described it—which, of course, would have put the entire map out of direction by 90º and made all of Sorenson’s directions wrong
    The problem with putting your back to the sea, as we have described in this blog numerous times, is that coastlines change, especially in Mesoamerica. Take a trip northward, into the Land Northward, just beyond the “narrow neck.”
If Mormon put his back to the sea along Sorenson's “west sea” coast, he would be looking at northwest as his “east.” Which, if nothing else, would have made the list of Mormon’s directions inconsistent, which they are not. Mostly, however, it would have completely disoriented a field commander, fighting battles, and working on strategies if his “personal directional compass” kept changing with the coastline
    One of the things Sorenson seems to misunderstand about his changing directions is what that effects. Take military campaigns, for instance. Having been there and done that, it seems totally illogical that a directional system could be affected by how someone stands along a seacoast. Not having GPS, satellite photos, aerial reconnaissance, etc., military field commanders in the time of the Nephites would have been left to arrange their directions simply by where they were at the time. With back to the sea, any Nephite, Sorenson tells us, would know which way was east. This, however, is ridiculous when you use Mesoamerica as a model, since there are coastlines in close proximity that run in various directions.
If Captain Moroni, while chasing the tent-dwelling Lamanites out of the East Wilderness had put his back to the sea, he would have proclaimed that east was really southeast. And in moving the Lamanites toward the Land of Nephi, according to Sorenson’s map, he would have really been driving them toward the Land of Zarahemla
    One of the absolute necessities in conducting a war where there are different fronts is to know where you are in relation to your field commanders. Take, for instance, when Teancum was battling Morianton along the Sea East near Bountiful (Alma 50:35), and after defeating him, Moroni, who was along the southern coastline of the Land of Zarahemla battling the Lamanites (Alma 52:11), sends Teancum orders to hold the narrow neck area, he certainly couldn’t have used directions, since his back at the time was against a sea, making his “east” really “northeast,” and Teancum’s back was to the Sea East, making his “east” actually “southeast.”
How difficult communication would be in the field with two commanders (and no modern communication devices)  basing their directions on opposite seas with coastlines running in different directions and trying to set up strategy for battles. Red Arrow: Teancum; Yellow Arrow: Moroni
When Mormon fought his way across the Land Northward from the “West Sea” to the “East Sea” and then stopped at Cumorah to finish his record and bury the plates, etc., he would have put his back to the other sea and now proclaimed that “east” was to the southwest (not the northwest as before). Seems mighty difficult to run a war against an enemy and try to communicate with your 22 field captains and tell them where you are in relation to where they are
    Now what if Moroni misunderstood where Teancum was fighting. Or, what if by the time Moroni received a report and wrote back (considering time of a runner delivering these two messages), Teancum had moved further along the coast, from Mulek along the coast toward the narrow neck area (Isthmus of Tehuantepec), or even chased Morianton through, into the Land Northward. As can be seen from the map below, his orientation to west would have been as much as 45 to 90º different, depending exactly where he was. Might not this cause great difficulty in communicating under such important conditions?
With back to the sea, Teancum could have judged his position and that of Moroni as much as a sweep from west southwest, through west northwest. In the heat of battle, out in the field, where few landmarks are available and none of the modern techniques known, such difficulty in figuring out directions would be a major hindrance to victory and a definite cause of defeat
    Or what about affected Corihah, the Nephite, and Zenan, the Lamanite, during one of the final battles of the war, when Mormon writes: “many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions (Alma 62:41), and Corihah fell beneath Zenan’s sword along a ridge on the edge of the fighting. Now Mormon tells us that “because of the prayers of the righteous, they were spared,” and Zenan felt remorse as he raised his sword for a final kill of the defenseless Nephite. With a change of heart, he inspected the wounds, carried Corihah into a shallow cave and attended to him. After several days, a bond was developed, and finally, certain the Nephite would recover, Zenan told him he had to report back to his people or they would think him dead. As the Lamanite was about to depart, Corihah told him of a land far to the north, where he had inherited a track of forest just below the splitting of three rivers and many feeder streams, and that if they both survived the war, Corihah offered some of the land to Zenan for sparing his life and nursing him back to health. Having admired the Nephite’s courage and character during his recovering, Zenan agreed and Corihah told him that after the war ended to make his way north toward a narrowing of the land. “I know nothing of ‘north’ or any narrow land,” Zenan answered truthfully. Corihor then told him to find the sea, put his back to the ocean, turn right and keep going until he reached a land anciently called Moron, ask for the location of the three rivers, and then travel one day downstream of the middle fork.
    After the war, when the peace came (Alma 62:42), many people went north to inherit the Land Northward (Alma 63:9). Corihah was one of those. When he was fully recovered from Zenan’s care, he made his way back to the city of Moroni, where he had always lived along the East Sea coast, just north of the Land of Nephi, and saying goodbye to his parents, he, like all Nephites, put his back to the ocean, turned right and headed north. On the other side of the land, Zenan gathered his wife and two small children, packed his possessions on his shoulders, and headed for the ocean. When he finally reached what the Nephites called the West Sea, he put his back to it, then turned right and headed out, traveling south. The two never did meet again.
Corihah, around the city of Mornoi (red arrow) put his back to the East Sea and turned right and traveled into the Land Northward; Zenan, the Lamanite, stood with his back to the West Sea, turned right, and headed into the Land Southward. Both men followed the correct directions, but went in opposite directions
    So here’s the problem. Sorenson says, that when Nephi landed, he put his back to the sea and said, that is “east” (ahead of him) and that is “south” (to his right), and that is “north” (to his left), and that is “west” (behind him). Then, to avoid the problem pointed out above, from that time forward, no Nephite ever used that technique again. From then on, they all knew that true north was “east” even though the sun came up from their “south” after that.
    This silliness comes from a man of letters who has taught thousands of 18 to 24 year old students over the years, headed up the Anthropology Department at BYU, and also the Archaeology Department before it was split off, is currently a Professor Emeritus from BYU, and considered the “guru of Mesoamerican Land of Promise thought.”
    One has got to wonder about the ridiculousness that has led to the acceptance of Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise when everywhere you look in trying to find scriptural matches, the land is barren and very, very few exist. But the real curious thing is why on earth have so many thousands of people bought into Mesoamerica when it simply does not follow Mormon’s descriptions of the land, nor any kind of sanity in common sense?


  1. I've looked all through the references and the name guide and cannot find Corihah or Zenan in the Book of Alma as you wrote.

  2. "affected" Corihah and Zenan means fictitious. It was a humorous attempt, though sarcastic example, of the silliness of Sorenson's idea about placing one's back to the sea to determine directions. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  3. Sorenson's "directions" are really a joke. The East sea is only "East" if you reckon from his distant "North." However, if you reckon from where he puts the land of first inheritance, the sea "East" is nearly West! These types of problems arise everywhere. His "rotated" directions only work if you locate the directional epicenter in a certain location. If you locate it to far into the land of Nephi (which is where you'd think the nephites originally would have) everything nearly becomes West not North. The whole thing is preposterous.