Saturday, May 26, 2018

Was Mormon Playing Games With Us? – Part V – Four Seas

Continuing from the previous post in which the Mesoamericanists’ narrow neck of land was discussed. The problem got started in 1985 with Sorenson’s book that showed an east-west running Land of Promise even though Mormon describes it as running north and south (Alma 22:27-34).
    Out of that design, came the idea that the Nephites used a different north orientation than we do today. In fact, it has been said that knowledgeable individuals who read Sorenson’s writings have a natural tendency to use the term “Nephite north” in referring to Sorenson’s rotated compass. For example: Sorenson’s “limited Tehuantepec theory” (a view that places the Book of Mormon lands in southern Mexico, Yucatan and Guatemala) has its own set of flaws.
A satellite photo of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec with the Bay of Campeche (due north) and the Gulf of Tehuantepec (due south) shown, as well as the Gulf of Mexico (due north) and the Pacific Ocean (due south) of then isthmus, or Sorenson’s “narrow neck of land” (white line dividing east and west)

Alma 22:27 in the Book of Mormon mentions a “narrow strip of wilderness” that divided a sea to the east and a sea to the west. The problem is southern Mexico has no such shoreline. Instead, the water masses in this area really lie north and south. However, undaunted, Sorenson merely turned his map sideways and declares that the Nephites used a different method for determining directions. In this case a so-called “Nephite north” is employed. Thus, what appears to be a “sea north” becomes the Sorenson “sea east” and the southern water mass, which would be a “sea south” becomes a Sorenson “sea west.
Left: Sorenson’s first map (Map 1) shown on page 7 of his book—entitled “Hourglass shape of book of Mormon Lands” creates an understanding of a match between Sorenson’s map and Mormon’s descriptions of the land; Right: Sorenson’s Map 4 on page 24, again showing a vertical, north upward, map, along with West and East seas, and limited detail. Note the red circles showing the direction "North" on both maps

In fact, as we have reported here before, Sorenson begins in his 1985 work with a north-south map on p7 (Map 1 – “Hourglass Shape of Book of Mormon Lands”), continues that north-south map on p11 (Map 2 – “Journeys Indicating Distances”), and again on p20 (Map 3 – “Relative Positions of Lands and Cities”), and finally on p24 (Map 4 – “Topography of Lands and Regions”).
    Now, in each of these four maps, his West Sea is to the west, his East Sea is to the east, as one would expect it to be, and the Land Northward is to the north, and his Land Southward is to the south. So after spending almost 35 pages outlining his north-south map and all that he placed within it, he then states on (p35-36) after telling us that the physical features of Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon are similar, he states; “the general hourglass shape is evident in both, the dimensions are similar—that is if we ignore the northern and western extension of Mesoamerica, which we may do since the Book of Mormon is silent about the corresponding area.”
    However, that is not an honest statement. The Book of Mormon is neither silent about the corresponding area, nor does it agree with Sorenson’s claim. Take, as an example, Jacob’s teachings in the temple which Nephi dutifully recorded: ”And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20, emphasis added). Then, to show that this is entirely factual, we find a little over 500 year later, this statement: “And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east“ (Helaman 3:8, emphasis added).
    Thus, it cannot be claimed, as Sorenson does, that the Book of Mormon is silent on this area. However, they  are scriptural references Sorenson does not mention. Instead, he goes on to state: “We must also ignore the Yucatan Peninsula and adjacent lowlands, for we noted earlier that the Nephite-controlled portion of the coast along the east sea was short and that the entire area eastward from the city of Nephi is undescribed in the scripture.”
    Again, this is not an accurate statement. Mormon gives us a clear understanding that the land of Nephi ran from the East Sea to the West Sea. Mormon inserts this very clear statement about the Lamanite king: “And it came to pass that the king sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west” (Alma 22:27, emphasis added). In addition, just to the north of the Land of Nephi, separating the Lamanite land from the Land of Zarahemla, Mormon also tells us that: “and which [land of Nephi] was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west” (Alma 22:27, emphasis added).
The Nephites built several cities along the eastern shore, beginning with Moroni in the far south near the Lamanite lands, and then Lehi, Nephihah, Morianton and the others. These were all down by the seashore (except for Nephihah) and when the Lamanite Amalickiah attacked these cities, he did so in order. There is simply no provision for a huge Yucatan peninsula along that coast as Sorenson claims
    In addition, Mormon tells us that this eastern coast where the Land of Nephi, the narrow strip of wilderness, and the Land of Zarahemla run, was the site of the building of the city of Moroni: “And it came to pass that the Nephites began the foundation of a city, and they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites” (Alma 50:13). They also built a city just to the north also along the seashore: “And they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north, one in a particular manner which they called Lehi, which was in the north by the borders of the seashore” (Alma 50:15), whose border ran along the Land of Moroni, just to the south, which was near the narrow strip of wilderness.
    Also, they built a city near there called Nephihah, which was between the city of Aaron and Moroni. In fact, Mormon states that when Amalickiah came down and attacked these cities, first capturing the city of Moroni: “And those who fled out of the city of Moroni came to the city of Nephihah; and also the people of the city of Lehi gathered themselves together, and made preparations and were ready to receive the Lamanites to battle. But it came to pass that Amalickiah would not suffer the Lamanites to go against the city of Nephihah to battle, but kept them down by the seashore, leaving men in every city to maintain and defend it. And thus he went on, taking possession of many cities, the city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore” (Alma 51:24-26, emphasis added).
    Thus there were several cities near the seashore of the Sea East, all of which near the area of the Land of Nephi. But in Sorenson’s map, that would place them hundreds of miles away along the Yucatan peninsula coast jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico. Still, ignoring all of this, Sorenson closes his eyes to the facts and states: “Thus the two areas of Mesoamerica that do not fit clearly with what the Nephite record tells us about geography are precisely the regions about which the scriptural account leaves us hazy. There are not contradictions [in his map and the scriptural record.”
    Obviously, this is not the truth, and being false statements, shows that Sorenson’s entire concept of a east-west Land of Promise is totally without merit.
    Now one can only wonder at such bald-faced fallacious comments. The scriptural record is quite clear about the area in which Sorenson wants to insert 15,260 square miles of the Yucatan peninsula where there is no mention, suggestion or even hint of anything being there.
    Somehow, Sorenson feels it is quite all right to change Mormon’s north-south map into an east-west map and have the impertinent hubris to tell us his Book of Mormon map and his Mesoamerican map have “no contradictions.” He even concludes this claim by stating “and other features also coincide,” and closes with “More detail is not necessary at this point.”
Sorenson’s May 5, on page 37 of his book, in which he turns his hourglass maps on the side and claims there is no contradiction between them. Note Sorenson still. has (red circle) the arrow point to "north" after he has completely changed the orientation of his map--this deception is certainly no accident
In addition, Sorenson then places his final hourglass map sideways as Mesoamerica lies, with the Land Southward now to the east and the Land Northward now to the west, and the East Sea now to the north and the West Sea now to the south. If those aren’t contradictions, it is hard to imagine what he might consider a contradiction. Yet, Sorenson makes another extremely brash remark when he states: “The general agreement between Mesoamerican and book of Mormon geography can be grasped directly by studying map 5 carefully.”
    For those of us who have been studying his map thoroughly for many years—it still runs east and west while Mormon describes the Land of Promise running north and south. Studying an incorrect map does not, over time, make it any less incorrect. East and West is simply not North and South; a 140-mile wide isthmus is not a “narrow neck of land,” and when each end of his land of promise extends for hundreds of miles into two huge land masses, it neither satisfies Jacob’s island, nor allows for the third and fourth seas.
    Yet, Sorenson then goes on to spend several more pages trying to sell his Mesoamerican east-west model. And if the above isn’t enough to annoy a scriptorian, Sorenson adds (p41) “Besides, it turns out that Mesoamerican territory is just plain awkward to label directionally in terms of the European compass because it angles across our neat grid.”
    What he means is that It “angles” across at a 90º erroneous angle!
    Notice the use of the term, “European compass,” as though only Europeans have used that particular compass. That flies in the face of Chinese compasses, which were invented long before Europe did, and as has been stated many times, “People usually built early compasses using lodestone, a special form of the mineral magnetite that, as a natural permanent magnet, aligns itself with the Earth’s magnetic field and exhibits north-south polarity.” In fact, the lodestone also served as the basis of primitive Chinese compasses that could roughly indicate the cardinal directions.
    The point of this discussion is that the error associated with the rotated compass that resulted in the Sorenson concept of “Nephite north” need not have occurred. When Mormon uses the term “Sea East,” readers of his writing should naturally and legitimately expect that sea to be east of “something”—not north of “something.” And that “something,” from the perspective of Alma 22, is the narrow neck of land—Sorenson’s the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
    With the cardinal points once accurately defined, by convention cartographers standard maps with north (N) at the top, and east to the right. In turn, maps provide a systematic means to record where places are, and cardinal directions are the foundation of a structure for telling someone how to find those places.
    Yet, oblivious to this fact, Sorenson goes to great lengths as he addresses the issue of inconsistency in directional systems among cultures throughout the history of the world, including in Mesoamerica. With a noticeable amount of frustration, he deals with one critic of his interpretation of the Nephite directional system by summing up his thinking about the diversity of directional systems among cultures as follows: “The topic of directions still seems mysterious…to…critics and general readers of my work. I have tried several times to make the matter clear, but perhaps one more try here will make the crucial points unmistakable. Six ideas are worth noting.”
   It would appear that if we accept what many of these theorists claim regarding their personal views of the scriptural record, we must conclude that Mormon was indeed playing games with us. On the other hand, if we accept Mormon's clear statements without trying to bend them to fit a pre-conceived viewpoint, then Mormon's words make sense and we can rest assured in their accuracy.


  1. I had been a Mesoamericanist for probably 30 years until BOM geography came up in a Sunday school class and was surprised that a friend of mine ( a few years older and wiser) said that he believed in the Heartland theory. This guy is no dummy so I was taken aback. I started researching the heartland theory and found some things that seemed right but, the geography just seemed out of whack, so I started looking for more information. Much to my surprise and delight I ran into your your youtube channel and began reading your blog. I have since ordered all of your books through I live in Canada.
    I have to say what has convinced me most is your strict use of the scriptural record.
    Are you aware of anyone else who is following up on your research?

  2. There is some interest on facebook.

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