Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Mystifying Rationale of Mesoamerican Directions – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding Sorenson’s Mesoamerican map and its mystifying directions and how he arrived at these directions.
    Despite all the conflict in Sorenson’s map and directions (see previous post), he goes on to claim that his altered map fits the scriptural record. On p35, he states: “With this brief survey of the physical features of Mesoamerica in mind, it is possible to make a comparison with the lands represented in the Book of Mormon.”
    Yet, Mormon tells us that “And thus [Moroni] cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east wilderness, yea, and also on the west, fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon—the Nephites possessing all the land northward, yea, even all the land which was northward of the land Bountiful, according to their pleasure” (Alma 22:11).
    So we see that the vertical map is more accurate than Sorenson’s horizontal map, which shows his Land Northward to the west of his narrow neck of land, and that his Land Southward is to the east of his narrow neck.
    Undaunted, in some mysterious manner, Sorenson, turns his first four vertical, north-south maps nearly 90º to the west, placing the vertical map flat and horizontal, Sorenson then feels free to add: “The general hourglass shape is evident in both, the dimensions are very 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. 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. 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 no contradictions.”
Mesoamerica Map to which we are told to ignore the Yucatan and alter the directions from general cardinal points to Mesoamerican directions so it will agree with the scriptural record

No contradictions? Really? What about:
1. First, we are being asked to ignore the northern and western extension of his map;
2. Next, we are being told that we can do so because, according to him, the Book of Mormon is silent about corresponding area: yet, Helaman tells us that there is an ocean in both north and south directions, just like there are oceans to the west and east (Helaman 3:8);
3. Third, we must ignore the Yucatan Peninsula, and given an extensive reasoning that is not accurate, i.e., the east seashore is described in sufficient detail by Mormon to suggest a more or less straight movement up the coast, yet the Yucatan Peninsula juts out with an approximate 800-mile shoreline completely ignored in Mormon’s numerous descriptions of movement along this coast;
4. Fourth, he tells us that “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,” yet, the record does tell us about movement, battles and occupations along this coast, as well as the building of various cities, including the occupation by Lamanites “living in tents” and Moroni driving them out of the area and southward, back into their own land”;
5. Finally, he tells us, despite these four glaring problems, that “There are no contradictions.”
This, then, is the manner in which Sorenson changes the entire scriptural record from a north-south Land of promise as is so clearly described in Alma 22:27-34, as well as elsewhere, into an east-west land, evidently without a single difficulty in his mind, nor even a “perhaps,” a “possibility,” or a “maybe,” but a resounding “absolutely,” as though he was there and knew the layout of the land where Mormon, who was there, did not understand his directions.
The difference. between Mormon/the scriptural record and John L. Sorenson

In effect, Sorenson has taken a north-south running land that Mormon describes and turns it into an east-west running land, and adding a huge peninsula on one end that completely changes the coastline to such a degree that its lack of mention in the scriptural record can only lead one to wonder why—then, and without any real explanation other than the record is “hazy” at this point, he tells us that “More detail is not necessary at this point,” and (p36) “There are no contradictions,” and goes on to finalize his remarks with (p42): “What began as a direction problem has been plausibly resolved.”
    As he states, “The general agreement between Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon geography can be grasped directly by studying Map 5 [Mesoamerica] carefully.” The obvious idea here is that Sorenson is telling his reader that the Mesoamerica location, though it is opposite of Mormon’s clear description to the opposite, is a fait accompli, already decided to be accurate and the Land of Promise, despite its most inherent weakness of directions. He then gives the impression that if the reader does not agree, then he simply has not studied his map carefully enough.
    There are so many flaws in this type of thinking that only in Academia could a person get away with such brazen ambiguity and fallacious approach. Take for example the glaring differences
1. Mormon’s map is north-south Sorenso’s map is east-west;
2. Mormon has a more-or-less smooth, consistent eastern shore line, Sorenson has a huge 14,827 square mile peninsula addition that completely changes the eastern shore line;
3. Mormon’s map resembles an hourglass shape, Sorenson’s has no hourglass shape to it;
4. Mormon has the Land Northward to the north, Soreson has it to the west;
5. Mormon has the Land Southward to the south, Soreson has it to the east;
6. Mormon has the East Sea in the east, Soreson has it to the north;
7. Mormon has the West Sea to the west, Soreson has it to the West.
    No contradictions? Really?
    The point is we could go on and on with the discrepancies that Sorenson has introduced into the Land of Promise model of his that are not found in the scriptural record, and changes or eliminates numerous references that are mentioned. But rather than go on with that, as we have done in the past, lets turn to another Mesoamerican advocate, Brant A. Gardner, and his August 2012 At the 14th annual conference in Sandy, Utah, of FairMormon entitled “From the East to the West: The Problem of Directions in the Book of Mormon,“ Gardner, himself a Mesoamericanist, states: “In spite of the many reasons that recommend this model, there is one major problem with the correlation. How could Nephites possibly think that the sun would come upon in the south and set in the north? They couldn’t. Yet we have a geographic correlation that fits both real world geography and cultural history remarkably well—except when we come to the terms north, south, east, and west.” However, he concludes: “In short, an understanding of the Mesoamerican directional system offers an explanation for the way that Book of Mormon directions correspond to that geography, without recourse to an artificial shift in the directions.
The four seas mentioned in Helaman 3:8

Gardner further states: ”Another possible contraindication for Sorenson’s geographic correlation is the relationship of that geography to surrounding seas. Helaman 3:8 clearly mentions four seas: “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. Some Book of Mormon geographers therefore insist on identifying four surrounding bodies of water.” But not to be deterred, however, John E. Clark, another Mesoamericanist notes of these seas: “I am convinced that the reference to a north sea and a south sea is devoid of any concrete geographical content. All specific references or allusions to Book of Mormon seas are only to the east and west seas. Any geography that tries to accommodate a north and south sea, I think, is doomed to fail. But we cannot dismiss the reference to these seas out of hand. If they are metaphorical, what was the metaphor?” Clark then goes on to describe metaphors used in Mesoamerica about a completely different use of sea that has no relationship whatsoever, ending with: “I have shown that the content of the Book of Mormon fits comfortably with Mesoamerican prehistory, both in general patterns and in some extraordinary details” (John E. Clark, “Archaeology, relics and Book of Mormon belief,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. Vol.14, no.2, 2005, pp38-49).
    Of Gardner and Clark’s claims, Jonathan Normark, of the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Gothenburg and Stockholm University,  states: “I fail to see what the extraordinarily details are. His examples are general or even more general patterns” (Johan Normark The Book of Mormon and Mesoamerican archaeology,” Archaeological Haecceities, October 21, 2012, p49).
(See the next post, “The Mystifying Rationale of Mesoamerican Directions – Part III,” for more on the mystifying directions of Sorenson’s Mesoamerican map and its effect on current thought)

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