Thursday, November 28, 2019

An Exercise in Mesoamerican Thinking-Part IV

Continuing from the previous post with more information on how Sorenson, the guru of Mesoamerican geography, has skewed the understanding of the scriptural descriptions of the Land of Promise in order to match them to his Mesoamerican model. Still setting distances, Sorenson continues with his limited geographic model by limiting the distances involved.
• Sorenson: (p15) “As to the land northward itself, our key data about distances come in the Jaredite account of the last years of warfare among them. As the Jaredites neared their final destruction, the prophet Ether fled for his life from the king’s headquarters in Moron, “hid himself in the cavity of a rock by day, and by night he went forth viewing the things which should come upon the people (Ether 13:13).”
Ether had only his viewpoint from his cave, where he hid during the day, and wandering short distances at night

Response: There is a tendency to read into this passage more than is there, i.e., that there was a singular cavity of a rock, or cave, and Ether went forth from there and back again, never moving beyond the area of this one cave or cavity; however, the scriptural record does not say that, nor does it say anything to cause one to not consider that as he went out at night to view the happenings, that he found another cave some distance away in which to spend a night, and go forth into the battlefield for the next day, etc.
    Thus, Ether could have covered a large area over several days and nights of travel, finding a place to hide out during the day that was in the vicinity of where he had traveled that night. He may have returned to one specific cave on occasion where he spent some time recording what he has seen in the excursions of the previous night. We simply do not know for this is not stated in the record.
    Another thought to consider, that the Lord had Ether go forth at night into a battle area where his mind was on the battles of the day, and he was shown what they were like through a vision so he could write about it. The point is, we simple do not know and any guess is good as the next one.
• Sorenson: (p15) “After eight years of intermittent combat, battles were still going on in the land of Moron, still within Ether’s observation range. And he was still in his cave after a population of more than two million, which had covered “all the face of the land,” had been killed (Ether 14:11,22-23; 15:2).
Response: First, it is doubtful that these two  million were killed in just one area, and wherever it was, the stench of the smell would drive people out of the area for quite some time, including Ether in a local cave.
    Second, in Ether 14:22, how would Ether from his own limited observation of events that bodies were strewn upon the face of the land; or how would he know the stench was upon “all the face of the land (14:23). This would not have been possible from one small area covered in a night. However, all of this and much more could be known through vision or instruction from the Lord.
Wandering around at night, Ether’s view would have been limited, and in no way could he have covered an entire battleground where he saw that millions had died

Nor could Ether have known from the vantage of his cave and wandering at night “that there had been slain by the sword nearly two million people—two million of mighty men, and also their wives and their children” (Ether 15:2).
    Third, obviously there was more to it than that, for Ether writes of acts Coriantumr performs, such as writing an epistle to Shiz, etc., that Ether could not have observed at night by wandering about. How would he know of secret combinations fighting against Coriantumr by wandering about at night after the activities were completed and people retired so Ether could wander about safely.
    The only way he could have known such things is that he was given a vision of these events occurring.
• Sorenson: (p15) “The conclusion seems clear. The final Jaredite wars all took place in the land northward within a territory small enough that Ether could observe most of the action while moving about only short distances from his cave base.”
Response: Reason alone suggests that two million people in running battles could not be killed in such a small area as Sorenson claims. Two million bodies is going to cover quite a large area, especially resulting from running battles as the scriptural record describes. We are not talking about weapons of mass destruction here—there were no rockets, bombs, hand grenades, machine guns, etc. These two million were killed with hand held weapons such as spears and swords, or with slings and rocks. After all, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed only about 70,000 in the first day, i.e., from the actual bomb itself (many died from after effects), and about 40,000 at Nagasaki in the first day.
The Atomic Bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, killing an estimated 70,000 people from the blast

Two million people would be 35 times the number killed at Hiroshima and about 70 times the number killed at Nagasaki. That is not going to happen in a small area that could be observed from a single location, or walking around the distance of a night from a central location.
    The idea of using Sorenson’s measurement device here of the space being limited to what Ether could cover walking around from one central location during the night is obviously out of the question and serves no real purpose other than to show us how far the area must have covered and the distances Ether would have had to cover if he personally observed what had taken place. Another answer would be the Lord simply told him all the details, while Ether went out at night to verify the local events in his area.
• Sorenson: (p16) “A hundred miles from Moron to the hill Ramah would probably accommodate all these facts.”
Response: Hardly. As show above, we are talking about a great distance, which included running battles from the west sea to the east seashore, from the far northern limits of the Land Northward and the Waters of Ripliancum to the Land of Moron, which was just a little north of the narrow neck.
    Sorenson’s restrictive comments of this battleground are self-serving for the purpose of showing that his limited Mesoamerica distances are valid.
• Sorenson (p16) “Confirmation of the close proximity of Ramah to Moron lies in the account about King Omer. He ruled early in Jaredite history, when the immigrant population could have been only tiny.”
Response: Perhaps we should set the record straight again on such a matter. First of all, exploding populations are not an uncommon thing given the right set of circumstances. And we certainly cannot judge the Jaredites by modern family sizes. After all, there were 24 families to begin with (Ether 6:16), and the Brother of Jared had 22 children (Ether 6:2) and the number of Jared’s children were 12 (6:20). If we add those two families together (34 children) and divide by two we get an average of 17 children per couple. We have no way of knowing if that is a fair example or not, but it is the only example we have. We also find they probably lived a long time—the only example of that we have is Coriantum who lived to be 142, and his wife lived to be 102 years old, which gives us an average age of about 121 years. 
    Again, we do not know this since we have no other factors involved. But based on what we have, if each of the original 24 couples averaged 17 children they would have started out with a total group of 408 children and 48 adults (456 people), in one generation, that number would be multiplied to 204 additional couples, at 17 children each for 3468 children, plus 408 adults 3876 people; in the third generation (about 60 to 70 years after landing), the community would have grown to 1734 couples times 17 children each for 29,478 children, plus 3468 adults, or 32,946 people, plus whatever number of the 456 people of the earlier generation that were still alive, or a possible community of 33,402 population.
    If Jared and his brother were about 50 when they left Mesopotamia and sailed to the promised land, and figuring 70 years after landing, that would make them 120 years, or about the average age mentioned above, so it is possible that when the events in choosing a king for the Jaredites took place (Ether 6:22-27), this could have been the population of their community in the days of Kib, Orihah’s son, or Jared’s grandson.
    So in the days Sorenson mentions of Omer, who was Jared’s 2nd great grandson, or two more generations, we are looking at as much as 2.2 million people or so. It hardly seems like we can call this a “tiny” number. Of course this is all speculation, but using the only numbers the scriptural record provides us, and averaging them over five generations to Omer, we are talking about very close to two million people-even half that number would be a large population.
• Sorenson: (p16) “Many Latter-day Saints will have to change their thinking markedly to adjust to the dimensions we have discussed.”
Response: It seems like John L. Sorenson and other Mesoamericanists should change their thinking markedly to adjust to the scriptural record as it is written and as Mormon described what took place and what the lands and people were like. Certainly this exercise in how Mesoamericanists think, especially the guru of the model, John L. Sorenson, and how they get from what Mormon wrote, which is rather simple and clear, to what they think, which is convoluted and indefensible. However, it is not likely they will change their thinking anytime soon.

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