Friday, November 15, 2019

Fallacious Use of Scripture – Part I

John L. Sorenson astutely comments that any attempt to identify the New World setting for the Book of Mormon should be driven by relevant criteria. He says: “Our first task is to analyze from the text [the Book of Mormon] the key characteristics of the lands described.    This will produce a set of requirements. Any area in the Americas proposed as the location of Book of Mormon events must match these criteria or else be judged mistaken” (John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996, p6).
    All right, let us take Sorenson at his word:
• Mormon, in his insert in Alma chapter 22:27-34, describes (from south to north) the Land of Nephi, narrow strip of wilderness, Land of Zarahemla, Land of Bountiful, narrow neck of land, and Land of Desolation all being north of one another. He describes in his insert without question or without qualification, that the lands of the Book of Mormon ran in northward and southward directions.
Sorenson’s Response: He describes a Land of Promise that runs in an east-west direction. His map:
In the two top maps, Sorenson follows the language of Mormon’s descriptions, i.e., showing a northward-southward orientation to the Land of Promise; however, on Map 5 (bottom) he inserts his own rendition of the Mesoamerican map to try and convince the reader these maps are actually the same orientation

This is the most flagrant violation of any scholarly measurement criteria and extremely fallacious that has likely ever been fostered on people. Beginning with Map 1 on page 7, then to Map 2 on page 11, then to Map 3 on page 20 to Map 4 on page 24, Sorenson uses a northward-southward leaning map (as the two above), then on Map 5, page 37, Sorenson claims if you lay the map on its side, you have Mesoamerica (bottom map). This is downright fallacious and not at all the truth. In order for Map 5 to be in the position of the first four maps, you have to turn it so that the left side faces northward, since that is the direction he is trying to show.
His manipulation of his first 5 maps in his book are designed to fool and deceive the reader into thinking that Map 5 is actually the same map as that of the first 4 in their positioning, which is obviously not true since the first four maps are positioned with north at the top of the extended Land of Promise and in Map 5, north, still at the top of the page, is in the middle of the Land of Promise, instead of at the top of the Land of Promise. There is absolutely no comparison whatever.
Sorenson, like anyone else, can claim his Land of Promise model runs north and south as Mormon mentions, but one glance at his map and it is easy to see that it runs east and west, the Sea East is in the north, and the Sea West is in the south. His Land of Zarahemla is west of the Land of Nephi, not north where Mormon places it. He also has Bountiful in the far north of his narrow neck area, as well as Desolation, however, Bountiful does not border on the east sea, but is west of Mulek and is far more likely to border on the west sea where the Mulekites landed—while this shows up as northwest on his map, it is really west since Bountiful runs to the Sea West.
    All in all, it appears that Sorenson, as early as page 37 in his book, and the first map of his Land of Promise violates his own main pledge in the beginning: “Our first task is to analyze from the text [the Book of Mormon] the key characteristics of the lands described. This will produce a set of requirements. Any area in the Americas proposed as the location of Book of Mormon events must match these criteria or else be judged mistaken.”
    The point is, talk is cheap. What matters is action, or in this case, placement as visually demonstrated on maps so the reader can actually see what is being discussed. It should be noted that scholars, especially Mesoamericanists, do not often include maps to discuss the very points they are writing about, and when they do, they begin with a map (Mesoamerica) which is skewed about 90º off that of Mormon’s very plan and clear and simple statements in Alma 22:27-34).
    This Mesoamerican map also violates Sorenson’s very first pledge that the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon “will produce a set of requirements,” one of which is a northward-southward running Land of Promise—a tenet that every single Mesoamerican theorist violates with their very first map!
Sorenson’s map showing the locations of Cumorah, land of many waters or what he calls the “Distant Lands of Waters” and the Yucatan Peninsula, an area not mentioned or referred to nor even allowed for in Mormon’s many descriptions, yet it was heavily occupied

Take, as an example, the seldom discussed Yucatan Peninsula, an area over 76,000 square miles—about the same size as the entire state of South Dakota or Nebraska, and one-fourth larger than Arkansas, and approximately 10% smaller than Utah—in other words, a very large area, which was heavily populated based on the large amount of ruins found throughout the Peninsula. Yet, placed by Sorenson on his map to the east of the East Wilderness, which wilderness was an area unoccupied during the first 500 years of the Nephite Nation other than by Lamanites living in tents. There is absolutely no mention of anything to the east of this wilderness other than the Sea East and seashore, and the eventual location of the City of Moroni, the easternmost city in the Land of Promise built on the seashore near the Nephite-Lamanite border.
Another addition or change to the scriptural record by Sorenson.
    In addition, what about Mormon’s statement as to the location of Cumorah? He states: “we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains” (Mormon 6:4). Yet, Sorenson does not place Cumorah in the area of his land of many waters where Mormon said it was located, but 350 miles away along the coast, as shown on the map above.
Another addition or change to the scriptural record by Sorenson—a thing he said if “Any area in the Americas proposed as the location of Book of Mormon events must match these criteria or else be judged mistaken.”
    Then, Mesoamerica is a mistaken idea, a mistaken location for the Book of Mormon, a mistaken setting for the Nephite Nation.
    Another statement by Sorenson is “We should not go beyond what the text declares with measured care” (p320), yet another area of Sorenson’s writing talks about “an hourglass shape of Book of Mormon Lands,” (the title to his first chapter in his book), yet there is no mention of an hourglass shape in the scriptural record. He also writes: “To mistake the geography would involve us in a set of entrained errors that would inevitably flaw any conclusions we made” (p1) of that chapter. Entrained means to “pull or draw along after itself,” meaning here that one error draws another error, and builds a long list or accumulation of errors—surely a better word could have been used, since this is such a minor usage of the word that literally means “to put on a train.”
    But the point is made. Picking the wrong site for the location of the Land of Promise erroneously compounds later acts or decisions or statements, since the wrong location can never be the right location no matter what else is involved. However, the point is, “We should not go beyond what the text declares with measured care,” suggests that we don’t start using terms, like “isthmus” or “hourglass shape,” etc., for these are neither used directly nor implied in the writing since, an “isthmus” has only two seas, one on each side, but never four, as: “from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east” (Helaman 3:8).
    Second, there is no mention of an Isthmus in the scriptural record. While an “isthmus” in today’s dictionary is described as “a narrow strip of land with sea on either side, forming a link between two larger areas of land,” however, in Joseph Smith’s day and Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, an “isthmus” was described as “a neck or narrow slip of land by which two continents are connected, or by which a peninsula is united to the mainland.” Consequently, an “isthmus” is not the meaning of Mormon’s description of the Land of Promise and its narrow neck (though it allows Sorenson to limit his model to just two seas, like in Mesoamerica, contrary to the scriptural record).
(See the next post, “Fallacious Use of Scripture – Part II,” showing how Sorenson uses terms, thoughts and ideas that are not found or even implied in the scriptural record)

No comments:

Post a Comment