Friday, June 5, 2015

Andean Peru is Not a Theory-Part I

While theories abound as to where the Land of Promise is or was located, from Mesoamerica, to the Great Lakes; from the Heartland of the U.S. to Baja California and the Malay Peninsula, just to name a few, the idea of Andean Peru being the Land of Promise is not a theory. Whether or not it is a fact remains to be proven by additional scriptural information, modern-day revelation, or official Church announcement; however, any of these in the foreseeable future are probably not realistic, so we are left with Andean Peru being in a category all by itself, not yet proven, but not a simple theory, hypothesis, or belief.
    If not a theory, then, what is it?
    First of all, let’s take a look at four words and their basic meanings:

Theory – an idea used to account for an opinion or viewpoint or position, which typically, but not always, leads to the investigation of that idea or opinion. 
    Speculation – the forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence;
Facts – something that is indisputably the case; a piece of information used as evidence of a reality or a certainty; 
    Belief – a trust, faith, or confidence in something being correct.
    Now in the area of the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon regarding the area in which the Jaredites and Nephites occupied and has become known as the Land of Promise, these four words, theory, speculation, facts, and belief, are easily seen. And since we have already stated that the area of Andean Peru, unlike the others stated above and still others held by some, is not a theory, let us apply it to the other words listed:

Speculation. In the sense of the Land of Promise, speculation also has been rampant for several decades, beginning perhaps with Mesoamerica in the middle of the last century and continuing today. The speculation of this theory is found in the belief that the ruins found in Central America, evidently first reported by John L. Stephens, who visited the area in 1839 and 1841, and published a book called Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, brought to mind to the early leaders once the book found its way into the hands of Joseph Smith in 1843.
    Until then, this area was almost totally unknown in America, and certainly the ruins reported to be there and the drawings of some of the sites published. The book’s remarkably realistic illustrations of temples, ruined cities, and monuments drawn by Frederick Catherwood, who accompanied Stephens lend not only authenticity but a vivid understanding of the advanced societies that lived their hundreds of years ago.
    The sight of these ruins, and the understanding of their location in the Americas, led many early Church member and leader to believe they were Nephite sites, which supported and lent needed public and scientific authenticity to the Book of Mormon. Thus, many speculated that these sites were Nephite and Book of Mormon locations—especially in what is called today Mesoamerica.
    Others since have extended their speculation and theories to include much distant areas, from the Canadian border around the Great Lakes, to Baja, Florida, the Caribbean and even Nicarauga and Panama, as well as south of there into South America. All of these areas have provided one or more reasons why speculation seems reasonable, from the hill Cumorah being near the Great Lakes, to the Gulf of Cortez providing an eastern sea tht nearly surrounds the peninsula of Baja California, to similar speculation about Florida and its three surrounding seas, and the narrowness of the Panama Isthmus.
Those who champion these theories based on their speculation about their area or model, have reasonable, and sometimes strong support from the scriptural record, but many just as often ignore Mormon’s descriptions or outright go against them as they try to promote their opinions, hunches, hypothesis, suppositions, and guesswork. It is not the interest of this blog to speculate on the reasons for each of these various locartions and models, only to point out that they exist and the difference between each and the non-theoretical approach to Andean Peru.
Facts. For the purpose of this discussion about the Land of Promise, the scriptural record is the basis of all facts pertaining to the area the Jaredites and Nephites settled. While the scriptural record is not complete in the type and extent of explanation we might prefer, Mormon went out of his way to give us information about his homeland, and Nephi included, for whatever reason, sufficient information for us to understand where he went and landed.
    Consequently, “facts” in this case are those clear and precise statements made by Nephi, Mormon, Moroni (Ether), Jacob and others, about the land on which they lived, labored, fought, and built. A land they knew as well, and perhaps better than anyone else (being men of the earth and out of necessity relying on their own hands for their sustenance and survival as opposed to living by technology as many do today).
We can also add to the idea of “facts,” since those statements in then scriptural record would 
have to be seen and understood as “facts,” not “beliefs,” or “speculation,” or “theories.” That is, when Mormon said the Sidon River had its headwaters to the South of Zarahemla in the narrow strip of wilderness, that would be a fact—obviously known to him since he traveled and lived in that area and the final war, which he was appointed Captain of the armies thereafter, occurred in that area.
Or when Nephi said “we did work timbers of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship” (1 Nephi 18:1) it is a fact, not open to speculation or personal belief, but simply a fact, as stated. He supported that fact by adding another regarding how they built the ship, “not after the manner of men” (1 Nephi 18:2). These are facts. They are not Nephi’s beliefs, theories, or speculation. He was the one who did the work, he is the one who told ujs how he did it, and he is the one that was told by the Lord how it should be done. Therefore, we can accept his word on the matter as an unquestionable, unadulterated “fact.”
    Thus, unlike speculation, such as Sorenson’s assumption that Mormon didn’t know what he was talking about when he said north, east, west or south, but that he had some different type of “Nephite calendar,” under which he was operating, a fact is a clear and precise statement given by the person who was there, who did what is being described, and who had absolute, first-hand knowledge of the event or circumstance. What some college professor, theorist, or historian believes took place cannot outweigh the words of those who were there and lived through the time being written about.
    So what “facts” are we told that will help us understand where Lehi sailed, where Nephi’s ship landed, and where the Nephites built their nation?
(See the next post, “Andean Peru is Not a Theory-Part II,” for more information about the facts of the Land of Promise as opposed to the speculation and theories being presented today)

1 comment:

  1. Del, did you see this?

    "The answers are developed by looking at the Book of Mormon as history in the context of what has become known of Mesoamerican history."

    Oh boy.