Sunday, November 16, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part X

We continue to have comments, questions and criticisms being sent in from readers of our blog. Here are a few more with our responses. 
    Comment #1: “What do you think of Ralph A. Olsen’s “A More Promising Land of Promise for the Book of Mormon”? I found it fascinating” Teressa M.
    Response: Isn’t it interesting that while Mormon, who had been retreating for some thirty years or more from an overwhelming Lamanite army decided to end it all at Cumorah, lose 230,000 men, plus their wives and children, in a final battle when he had an escape route of many thousands upon thousands of square miles to the north of peninsular Malaya into Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, etc.?
    When the colony landed after their voyage by ship, Nephi said, “after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:23, emphasis mine). It was this same Nephi who wrote of a vision the angel gave him: “And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land“ (1 Nephi 13:12, emphasis mine). And finally, when Moroni explained to Joseph Smith the plates, Joseph recorded, “he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me and that his name was  Moroni—that he had a work for me to  do that my name should be had for good  and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues—that there was a book deposited: written upon  gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this Continent, as well as their origin” (Joseph Smith Papers, emphasis mine).
    In putting this together, we find that Lehi sailed to and landed upon and in the Land of Promise, that Nephi saw Europeans coming to this same Land of Promise, and that this same Land of Promise was on this Continent, i.e., the American Continent (North and South America).
    Olsen doesn’t have a leg to stand on. In addition, there are so many holes in his Malaysia model that it really isn’t even worth discussing, though we have mentioned many of the problems in past posts. In fact, it should be mentioned that theories like this are based on people who read it without bothering to check out the scriptural record and buy into it because it is "fascinating" (or different) and, therefore intriguing--however, to be of any value at all, it must adhere to the scriptural record in every way. Olsen's theory simply does not follow the events Nephi describes at all--clear and simple!
    Comment #2: “John L. Sorenson has said, "In Mesoamerica, there are at least 15 types of script, of writing, and that they are typical for Mesoamerica, and all of the Egyptian style. … The only thing that is different about them is the characters" Bryce D.
    Response: Interesting. Both English and Cryllic are alphabets and have letter characters, are somewhat similar, and the only difference between English and Cryllic script is the characters. However, ды́ня is not English, nor did it derive from English, nor can it be understood through English.
While English came through the Anglo-Frisian dialects from the German language, Cryllic came through Finnic and Turkic peoples (Idel-Ural) and some of the Siberian and Caucasus peoples—with absolutely nothing in common with one another, including their history and development. As for the Egyptian, it should be noted that “The Maya writing system (often called hieroglyphics from a vague superficial resemblance to the Egyptian writing, to which it is not related) was a combination of phonetic symbols and ideograms.” Sorenson is so eager to show a connection between the Book of Mormon and his Mesoamerica, that he bends over backward to see things that do not exist! And then try to convince you that they do exist! It should also be noted that ancient pictographs, glyphs, etc., have been found all over the world dating to very ancient times, and the vast majority have no connection with each other whatsoever. 
Glyphs from the Parowan Gap, Southern Utah, whether ancient rock art or words or a language is unknown and may never be deciphered--but most certainly did not derive from then Egyptian
Top: Glyphs from Easter Island called Rongorongo, a language that has never been deciphered. The ancients on the island claimed it “came from the mainland to the east” (Peru); Bottom Left: unknown ancient Scottish writing; Bottom Right: unknown proto-Elamite language of southwestern Iran. In fact, much of ancient writing discovered is undecipherable, such as Jiahu, Vinca, Banpo symbols, Dispilio tablet, Indus script, Linear Elamite, Linear A syllabary, Cretan hieroglyphs, Wadi el-Hol script, Bblos syllabary, Phaistos Disc, Cypro-Minoan syllabary, Southwest Paleohispanic script, Sitovo inscription and numerous others, including the Olmec, 900 BC, Isthmian, 500 BC, Zapotec, 500 BC, Mextec 14th century, all in Mesoamerica
    Comment #2: “According to John L. Sorenson (The Geography of the Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, 401): “Directions and how they are referred to are cultural products, not givens in nature. Both the conceptual frameworks which define directions and the languages of reference for them differ dramatically from culture to culture and throughout history.” Moreover, “The labeling of directions is not obvious nor intuitive but really highly cultural, that is, arbitrary and that ultimately we can only determine empirically what the ancients meant by their direction terms.” What is your take on this?” Haldsen T.
    Response: Sorenson needs to go back to school. In the Western World, all maps and directions are oriented “north.” This means that “east” is on the right hand and “west” is on the left hand, and “south” is behind you. In the Eastern World (China, the orient, Near East, Mesopotamia, etc.) all maps are oriented “east,” which means that “south” is on the right hand and “north” is on the left hand and “west” is behind you (which was the case with the Hebrews). There are a few differences from this, such as those above the arctic circle (66.5º N) or below the Antarctic circle (66.5º S), where the rising and setting of the sun is extremely different; but for those lands within the tropic zones (23.5º N and 23.5º S) the sun’s variance is minimal and basically all peoples use the same concept of N. E. S. W.
    We can also add a few more degrees, for that north latitude extends to 50º N and 50º S, which again provides sufficient sameness that allows people the same directions in an understandable manner (at 50º No, the sun ranges between 63.8º and 16.17º, the Great Lakes runs between 49ª and 42º, and includes the St. Lawrence River on the east coast and Vancouver, Canada on the west coast (includes all of Spain, Italy, Greece, etc., and Munich, Prague and Vienna in Europe, with London at 51.6º, Berlin at 52.5º and Amsterdam at 52.9º).
All of these areas have had the same NESW orientation throughout history since directions were written down. Having said that, it is always the case that an isolated group of people, especially in some far off area, usually either isolated by latitude or by geography, have recorded some different method. But to try and make out that Israel is one of these—as Sorenson does—is inaccurate and goes against all Biblical history, especially in light of the Hebrews pointing their entire world toward the East, and having the same cardinal points as everyone else.
After all, it was the Chinese who invented Si Nan, during the Waring States Period (475 B.C. to 221 B.C.) Si (pointing to) Nan (the South), a forerunner of the compass, which actual needle compass can accurately be dated to at least the Han Dynasty 206 B.C. These “south pointers” (left) were a small, magnetized spoon on a mirror-smooth bronze board (plate) carved with patterns indicating directions, with the spoon always pointed south. In addition, a number of ancient cultures used lodestones, suspended so they could turn, as magnetic compasses for navigation. The first mention of a spoon, speculated to be a lodestone, observed pointing in a cardinal direction is a Chinese work composed between 70 and 80 A.D. In fact, it is interesting that the Liahona, which translates to "compass," was given to Lehi (in the Middle East) about 197 years before the properties of the magnetic compass were first discovered in China (East), though the actual compass there is dated to about 390 years later than the Liahona.
    Whether people used these early compasses, as did the Chinese, to order and harmonize ones' personal world, for fortune-telling, or as designators of direction; whether they used Si Nan, a lodestone (a special form of mineral magnetite) to point the way, or needles, spoons, or a magnetic rock; whether they used ferrites or magnetic oxides or later electromagnets, compasses have always aligned themselves with the Earth's magnetic field along a north-south polarity line, with east and west naturally following--it had nothing to do with language, stance, or cultural or social orientation. The Earth's polarity decided directions, not people. While individual language determined the words that were applied, they all translate among languages to mean the basic same thing. How different cultures committed directions to memory varied among cultures, but the basic concepts of north-south-east-west were determined by the Earth's magnetic poles, not by any culture. 
Left: Si Nan, or South Pointer (400 B.C.); Center: Metal Fish in Water Dish--Pointing-to-the-South Fish, artificial magnetization (960 A.D.); Right: Marine Compass (1119 A.D.) China was well ahead of Europe and the rest of the world in inventing and developing the compass
    While Sorenson claims that the cardinal directions and magnetic compass is a Western World invention, it first appeared in China, then moved to Persia, Middle East, Arabia, Muslim World, then to Medieval Europe. This makes it pretty difficult to support an idea that the Hebrews and others did not use the same compass as basically we have today.

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