Saturday, November 16, 2019

Fallacious Use of Scripture – Part II

Continuing with how Sorenson uses terms, thoughts and ideas that are not found or even implied in the scriptural record, and once using them, creates a relationship with them that suggests their actual existence and then at times compares other factors against them as though they are factual:
    Third, it stands to reason that any land description of the Land of Promise should stand on its own when cardinal directions are given (as Mormon repeatedly does) with north as up and south down on a map. Therefore, to place the map descriptions on their side as Sorenson does with his Mesoamerica, it must be done so that north and northward is in the “up” position, a fact that Sorenson violates to the extreme (see pg37).
Sorenson’s map of Mesoamerica [his Land of Promise] that appear on p37 as Map 5, following four maps in a proper vertical “north up” alignment. Note: Lavender: Sorenson’s East Sea; Green: Sorenson’s West Sea; Brown: Sorenson’s North land; Red: Sorenson’s South land—all completely skewed from standard directions on a regular map—Note also the Yellow Square showing Sorenson’s map directional arrow pointing North

It might also be noted that the heading of Sorenson’s map is “Plausible Locations in Mesoamerica for Book of Mormon Places.” Now the word “plausible,” means: “reasonable,” “probable,” “credible,” “believable,” “likely,” “conceivable,” which begs the question “How can a map so out of alignment be considered believable, or reasonable?” Can you believe that a sea to the north of a land is going to be called the “East Sea?” or a land to the West is going to be called the “Land Northward?” Is that creditable?
    Sorenson has realigned the cardinal directions in order to meet his model of the Land of Promise so that a directional guide he calls “Nephite North,” which looks like this:
Using Sorrenosn’s criteria, a map based on such directions of the western U.S. would look like this:
This is done to meet his Mesoamerican model being skewed almost 90º off from the cardinal directions of North in his “Nephite North” directional system. This, in turn, means that in the real world, the sun in his Mesoamerica actually rises in the South and sets in the North.
Sorenson's idea of north and south for the rising and setting of the sun

Now can anyone really, in all honesty, lay claim that this is “reasonable,” “believable,” “creditable”? Of course not. Yet Sorenson has been able to gain a huge following, including seminary, Institute, and general Church members following that Mesoamerica is the Land of Promise when the very foundation of it—its directions—are 90º off from what Mormon tells us, describes for us, and inserts information into the record so we can understand.
    This map directional change is one of the greatest disservices any historian, BYU professor, or scholar, has done to the Church and its members. And in so doing, diverted attention away from a true location of the Book of Mormon geography.
    The sad thing is, while Sorenson spends several pages trying to convince his readers that his directional map is correct, he uses comparative examples as “we in the European tradition say that east” is “where the sun comes up,” but in the arctic, the sun unconcernedly rises in the south.” However, we are not dealing with extreme locations of far north or far south where directions are skewed because of the perspective of one’s location, i.e., in certain places in the north, every direction is south, and in certain location in the south, every direction is north.
    He then brings in (p38) “Eastern Eskimo language groups that distinguish direction primary as either inland (literally “above”) or seaward (“below”), but once again, we are not dealing with Inuits (Eskimos) or any culture living in an extreme northerly or southerly locations. We are talking about Hebrews, living at about the same north latitude as those in Southern California which, to the sun, is comparable to someone living around the area of La Serena, Chile in South America. In his Mesoamerica, we are talking about someone living between 14º and 20º north latitude—where the sun doesn’t move that far north or south. He then talks about Polynesians “inland” and “coastward,” and then to the Israelites who “derive directions as though standing with backs to the sea, facing the desert. Yam (“sea”) then meant “west,” for the Mediterranean lay in that direction, while qedem (“fore”) stood for east. Then yamin meant (“right hand”) meant “south,” while semol (“left hand”) denoted “north.”
Sorenson’s directional rationale claims that an Israelite, standing with his back to the sea would look inland and say he was facing “east” no matter where he was located

Of course, that would not work on an area where there were seas in several directions, such as on an island or even traveling in a larger land area, like California, Texas, Florida, or on Manhattan Island—where would you stand with your back to the sea and be able to say only one direction was “east”?
Following Sorenson’s guide, one would be changing their directional orientation every time they walked about their island, for wherever you stood with your back to the sea, you would be facing east

The point is, that people are not so incapable of determining the directions of their land, either by the movement of the sun—and whether in Mesoamerica, South America, or Jerusalem, the latitude is close to being the same and would not be affected as Sorenson wants you to believe since we are talking about a swing between about 30º north latitude to 30º south latitude. Besides, in the area where we actually have direction given (Land of Promise), we are looking at 13º to 12º south latitude between Zarahemla and Nephi in South America, or 14º to 18º north latitude in Mesoamerica. The differences would be negligible as Sorenson should know—therefore, his smokescreen of directions to warrant his change is all just a bunch of smoke and mirrors.
    Again, while Sorenson spends several pages in his book under the title “Directions in the Book of Mormon,” the fact is, the directions that Mormon gives us (Alma 22:27-34) are perfectly correct and, like the rest of the scriptural record, should be accepted as written and intended, and not dealt with as Sorenson does, trying to make the words mean something not intended.
    But Sorenson is not finished. Regarding a landing, He writes: “Suppose, for a moment, that you were with Lehi’s party as it arrived on the Pacific coast of Central America. By western civilization’s general present-day terminology, the shore would be oriented approximately northwest-southeast. When you say yamah, intending “westward,” the term would mean literally “seaward,” although the water would actually be “behind your back” to our southwest.”
    For some reason, Sorenson thinks people are so confused with ocean and inland that they cannot adjust to their environment.Consider stading on a seashore—is it not perfectly clear the overall location of the ocean? Would you be confused with way is inland from the sea?
    As I have illustrated before, I grew up in Southern California, next to the ocean. I was taught in school that when I faced north, south was behind me, east on my right hand, west on my left hand. I used that “clue” or “teaching aid” for a few years until I learned directions and didn’t have to do that. But evidently, Sorenson thinks that the Hebrews could never tell which was east without placing an ocean to their back. How absurd!
Consider three places where I have lived by the ocean when I was growing up. In Los Angeles, the ocean was always to the West. When I went to college in Santa Barbara, suddenly the same ocean was to the south, and the same later when I moved back to Southern California, and into Orange County—that ocean I grew up around was no longer to the West, but to the South. Yet, still, you always knew where the ocean was located, and you always knew where west and east was located. It was not a mystery.
(See the next post, “Fallacious Use of Scripure – Part III,” showing how Sorenson uses terms, thoughts and ideas that are not found or even implied in the scriptural record)


  1. While traveling through the wilderness by the Red Sea then across the desert to Bountiful, Nephi used cardinal directions very accurately. He did not reorient based on where the largest body of water was. Why would he reorient his directions upon landing in the land of promise? In fact, I think one of the most important things to do when entering a strange land or new location would be to establish your bearings. You find your cardinal directions and then you know which way you're facing, traveling, etc. It sure would be easy to get lost if "westward" was "seaward" and the coast wasn't always in one direction.

    Mormon compiled the scriptures hundreds of years after Nephi, yet maintained the same directional consistency, and he lived and traveled in the land his entire life.

  2. Exactly. In addition, it was critically important for Middle Easterners (includes Hebrews/Jews) to know where east was located since their religion and way of life depended upon that direction.

    1. Interestingly, Chullpa tombs in Peru have their doors facing East.

    2. Very good point. We should look for any structures in Mesoamerica that face some direction consistently. There is absolutely no reason to believe the people in Mesoamerica did not understand directions properly, since the rising and setting of the sun over a year so clearly indicates them.

  3. If the men in the tall ivory towers know they are correct, and we, the unwashed, are in error, then at least show us our errors without fallacious arguments.