Friday, August 24, 2018

In Search of Cumorah – Part IV

Continuing with David A. Palmer’s book, In Search of Cumorah (“New Evidences for the Book of Mormon from Mexico”), in which the author provides his readers with some of his erroneous views of the scriptural record, and leads away from finding Cumorah with his flagrant disregard to actual scriptural wordage.
    Also, in a case where one almost has to wonder if Palmer actually read the scriptural incident of which he writes, he claims a surprising lack of knowledge when Morianton fled to the northward land (Alma 50:29-30):
    Palmer: “The strategic importance of that move is not explained nor is the reason why the Nephites forcefully prevented the migration.”
Moroni races to cut off Morianton and his army of rebels before they get to the narrow pass and into the Land Northward

Response: The problem is, this is a complete misstatement of the facts, for Mormon answers both questions completely and clearly when he tells us:
1) that Morianton and his people were fleeing from Moroni’s army when he states that Morianton was: “exceedingly fearful lest the army of Moroni should come upon them and destroy them. Therefore, Morianton put it into their hearts that they should flee to the land which was northward, which was covered with large bodies of water, and take possession of the land which was northward” (Alma 50:28-29), and
2) Moroni did not want an enemy rebel group on his northern border as well as the Lamanite enemy on his southern border where he would have to fight two enemies in different opposite ends of the land, as Mormon stated it: “Moroni, feared that they would hearken to the words of Morianton and unite with his people, and thus he would obtain possession of those parts of the land, which would lay a foundation for serious consequences among the people of Nephi, yea, which consequences would lead to the overthrow of their liberty” (Alma 50:32).
    Thus, both “the strategic importance” and “the reason why the Nephites prevented an enemy or defector from getting into the Land Northward” are completely described and clearly understood.
    In yet another misunderstanding of the scriptural record, Palmer states that:
Palmer: “the whole epic [of migration] left such a lasting impression that centuries later the Nephites and Lamanites were still arguing over who wronged whom during their migration (Alma 20:13 and Mosiah 10:12-16).”
    Response: However, as Nephi makes it quite clear the argument was not over who was in the wrong, but over the ancient Hebrew and Biblical directions of the birthright of the first born (1 Nephi 16:38), called the law of primogeniture as acknowledged in Deuteronomy 21:17: “But he [the father] shall acknowledge…the firstborn [son], by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.” That is, the firstborn son was entitled to a double share of the assets that were muchzak, meaning actually “in holding” by the father at the time of his death, that would be used for the care of the entire family and place the first born son in charge of that unit.
    Thus, the Lamanites were angry that the Nephites had anciently, upon Lehi’s death, stolen the birthright from Laman (and Lemuel) who were older and, as a result, entitled to the land, not Nephi, the youngest.
    Why is all this misinformation important? Because when theorists begin telling us where things are, such as where Cumorah is located, but have a track record of completely misunderstanding and misrepresenting the scriptural record and what it so clearly states, it is difficult to accept their unsupported and contrary ideas, including the location of Cumorah (being near the narrow neck) etc.
    As an example, in another type of attempt to change the narrative of the scriptural record in the Book of Mormon, Palmer makes the attempt to validate his opinions and models through comparisons that really are not valid, though he obviously thinks so. Take the instance of his using an example of John Lloyd Stevens, the American explorer, writer and diplomat who was pivotal in the rediscovery of the Maya civilization in 1840-1841, and later wrote the book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, which had an impact on Joseph Smith.
Mayan Stela typically are tall and narrow engravings of designs and very formal. In fact, the definition of a stela is “an upright stone slab or column typically bearing a commemorative inscription or relief design, often serving as a commemorative of some great battle or achievement.” They certainly were not just a large stone to write on as Coriantumr’s stone is depicted

During Stevens trip through Mesoamerica, he traversed, according to Palmer, the same distance he believes Alma covered in his flight with his converts away from the Lamanites and Amulon. He states (p183):
    Palmer: “John Lloyd Stevens made a trip which traversed similar territory and in similar amount of time…covering the distance in 12 days that Alma did in 21 days.”
    Response: While Palmer claims Stevens’ trip was comparable to that of Alma, in order to show a definite correlation, what he doesn’t seem to understand is that Alma, who was running with his people for their lives away from the Lamanites and Amulonites after being warned of the Lord to flee, took, according to Palmer, 75% longer (21 days instead of 12) to cover that same distance. That is hardly a comparison.
    The problem is that theorists get so enthralled with their ideas, beliefs and models, that they fail to accurately compare their views with Mormon’s descriptions and narrative to see if there truly is a comparison, or something they can use as one. A 21-day travel period when fleeing from an enemy that means to do you harm or worse cannot be compared with a leisurely trek through Mesoamerica looking for and studying ancient artifacts and cultural footprints in which Stevens was involved. If the days were reversed, such as Alma taking much less time than Stevens, then at least there might be grounds for some type of comparison, but fleeing for 21 days does not equate to leisurely traveling for 12 days, covering the same distance. Nor do any of the other examples stated in his book match the intent, wordage, and descriptions of the scriptural record.
Thus, the entire idea of Palmer’s “In Search of Cumorah,” falls far short of believability. As another example clearly points out: On pages 31-34, Palmer tries to sell the idea of two narrow passes into the Land Northward form the Land Southward—one along the Gulf Coast Side and one along the  Pacific Coast Side, yet Mormon’s statement about the narrow pass being in one location, and the narrow neck through which it ran was quite narrow, is extremely clear when he wrote: “they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34, emphasis added). How much clearer does Mormon have to be than to tell us that this narrow pass ran by the sea, the sea being on both the left (wet) and the right (east).
    It there were two passes, what value was blocking just one? Especially when these two passes are about 120 miles or more apart.
    Palmer also (pp41-42) also tries to show that “Mormon’s Cumorah was probably within a few days journey of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.” He justifies this by trying to determine a time frame (pp42-43) of battles and ten years later, after a four-year hiatus while Mormon gathered together his people, in which the battle at Cumorah took place. His rationale is based on having Mormon fighting along one coast and then having to retreat to “cities used as havens” along the other coast. However, there is nothing suggested in the scriptural record about being near either seacoast, which covers these battles (Mormon 5:3 to 5:7), and the Nephites eventually arriving at Cumorah (6:1 to 6:4). In fact, the word “sea” is used only three times in the entire book of Mormon’s personal writings: 1) the city of Joshua was by seashore (Mormon 2:6); 2) the fight at the city of Desolation, where they “cast their dead into the sea” (Mormon 3:8); 3) the city of Teancum lay in the borders by the seashore and it was also near the city of Desolation (Mormon 4:3). Thus, Palmer makes up his own topographical scenario and then makes judgements based upon his beliefs.
(See the next post, In Search of Cumorah – Part V,” for more information on why Cerro Vigia could not be the hill Cumorah, and where the actual hill Cumorah was really located)

1 comment:

  1. It seems a part of human nature, once we become convinced of something like a model, a worldview, a theory, etc. to ignore or belittle anything that threatens the apparent consensus or supposed truth of that opinion. Even when further study, observation, new information, or better understanding directly contradicts the presupposed consensus, we tend to rearrange or recalculate a way to keep our old view and "make it work" rather than erase the erroneous view and start over.

    That appears to be the case with things like Land of Promise theory, as well as with consensus science. The Land of Promise theorists for Mesoamerica already feel that they've established a consensus over the years-- and it has held up for a long time. So whenever any obvious contradiction to the theory is presented, even clearly or convincingly, they are unmoved. They instead take those contradictions and find a way to mesh the incongruities into their theory. For example, they may ignore cardinal directions (a clear contradiction to their model) and make a convoluted explanation of why their interpretation is still right. This is done in countless ways, and if they can't defend the error, then a belittling attitude is directed to the opposing voices, calling them uneducated, uninformed, or suggesting some kind of conspiracy.

    The parallel in the scientific community is clearly seen when any observation is made that does not fit the predetermined model. Rather than say, "Oh, we have been wrong," the longtime proponents and teachers of the consensus simply find a way to work the new observation into their failed model, rather than erase the board and start over. For example, when the rotation of stars in a spiral galaxy defied the equations of gravity-centric cosmology, the old mathematical formulas simply needed new variables added that let the consensus save face by inventing dark matter and dark energy-- things which cannot be measure, observed, or tested. Dark matter's reign was only within formulas used to run computer models and is now coming to an end, but in the meantime, anybody challenging the consensus was deemed uninformed, uneducated, or part of some dissident conspiracy.

    The further down the path the consensus theory travels, the longer it takes to come back and start over. Can you imagine a day when the true believers in a failed theory that has been propped up with countless justifications and pontifications finally come to a realization that they are completely wrong? Do you imagine a time when numerous professors and students of something like the Mesoamerican model suddenly say, "you're right, and we've been wrong." It's hard to imagine.

    I don't ask or expect anybody to give up their faith or testimony received by the spirit. But when it comes to theories and models, I don't believe people are working out of spiritual witness as much as putting together the puzzle pieces through study. At some point, those pieces won't fit together by force and some folks will clearly be right, while others will find they were wrong. One day people will look back at the old consensus and find it as misguided and crazy as we now find flat earth theory. But when?

    Until then, new information is too often a threat to the consensus, and is met with great resistance. Who knows...maybe I'm the one resisting when I should be conforming?