Monday, November 18, 2019

Fallacious Use of Scripture – Part IV

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. We concluded with the 4th and 5th points of Sorenson’s list of items required for a Land of Promise to be accurate:
4. The historical evidence from the area must provide valid findings that dovetail with the customs and traditions associated with the peoples and dates of the Book of Mormon.
Response: First of all, there is no historical evidence pertaining to anything in Mesoamerica other than what has been suggested by archaeologists based upon their models of anthropological development. As an example, note the following “scientific” comment about the Olmec: “The beginnings of Olmec civilization have traditionally been placed between 1400 and 1200 BC. Past finds of Olmec remains ritually deposited at El Manati shrine (near San Lorenzo) moved this back to "at least" 1600–1500 BC.”
The well-known Olmec heads, this one from La Venta, displaying the headdress straps and ear ornaments, dated to about 900 BC

The point is, the early period of the Olmec is really unknown—archaeologists and anthropologists simply deduce such dates as they evaluate “finds,” or pieces of sherd or other artifacts. Another example of mostly unknown historical “fact,” is “The mysterious Olmec Civilization flourished between roughly 1200 and 400 BC on Mexico's Gulf coast. Although there are still more mysteries than answers about this ancient culture, modern researchers have determined that religion was of great importance the Olmec. Several supernatural beings appear and re-appear in the few examples of Olmec art that survive today. This has led archaeologists and ethnographers to tentatively identify a handful of Olmec gods” (Christopher minister, The Gods of the Olmec, ThoughtCo, Dotdash publishing, New York, June 2018).
    Note that the key words are “more mysteries than answers,” and “to tentatively identify,” and “few examples.” Yet, none of this deters these “scientists” from claiming all sorts of claimed information that is “known” about the Olmecs.
    Secondly, in Andean Peru there is a common “legend” about four brothers and their “sister” wives, who are send by their father, and assigned to find a new location for settlement, and led by a “round gold ball.”
    The point is, the historical evidence of Andean Peru than there is of Mesoamerica—and none of it is definitive.
5. The geographic configuration of the area must resemble an hourglass as a reflection of two land masses and a narrow neck of land (an isthmus) dividing the two. The hourglass must be on its side in a horizontal position to justify the Nephite cardinal directions of “northward” and “southward” for the two land masses.
    Sorenson then (with tongue in cheek?) goes on to write: “This article’s purpose is not to explore those criteria as a basis for determining where in the New World the Book of Mormon took place. When the criteria are applied to all potential settings, Mesoamerica—and only Mesoamerica—meets the criteria. Thus, the New World geographic setting for the Book of Mormon is not an issue in this article.”
Well, it certainly is to us!
Not only that, but there are numerous other criteria not mentioned by Sorenson, but certainly outlined by Mormon and covered in some 66 different scriptures that outline each and every one of these items with a scriptural background that any Land of Promise location would have to meet. For instance:
1) Metallurgy [Helaman 6:9; Ether 10:23] – none has ever been found in Mesoamerica before 900 A.D. (Sorenson says 600 A.D.), though the Jaredites and Nephites were involved in it from the very beginning
2) the Climate where Lehi’s seeds grew that he brought to the Land of Promise [1 Nephi 18:24] – Mesoamerica is a sub-tropical Climate where the very seeds that grew in Jerusalem will not grow in Mesoamerica.
3) Two unknown animals [Ether 9:19]. These two, the cumoms and cureloms were unknown to America in Joseph Smith’s time, and only indigenous to Andean South America.
4) Two unknown grains [Mosiah 9:9]. These two, neas and sheum, were unknown in America in Joseph Smith’s time, and found in Andean Peru.
5) Plants that cure fever [Alma 46:40]
6) Land of promise as an island [2 Nephi 10:20]
7) The four seas surrounding the Land of Promise [Helaman 3:8]
8) Hagoth’s ships went northward [Alma 63:4,6]
9) Sea that divides the land [Ether 10:20]
10) North-South directions of the Land of Promise [Alma 22:27-34]
    This is just a list of ten of the 66 scriptural items we have listed time and again. It is extremely arrogant of Sorenson to claim only Mesoamerica meets the criteria of the scriptural record!
    However, it has long been Sorenson’s and other Mesoamericanist theorists to set their own limited criteria for meeting the Book of Mormon requirements for the location of the Land of Promise, then showing how their model is the only one that meets those five and consider the case closed. It is like an attorney covering his opening remarks in a court case, then claiming he has just proved his client innocent and his accuser guilty, and expecting the jury to so find.
    What is surprising is the amount of members who have simply gone along with this choice for a geographical setting for the Book of Mormon when so little of it meets the numerous descriptions listed by specifically Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni.
   As one member and supporter of Sorenson states: “In addition, the inherent nature of and the location of the narrow neck of land are not issues…the Book of Mormon’s narrow neck of land is an isthmus. Further, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mesoamerica is the narrow neck of land of the Book of Mormon. Sorenson adamantly maintains that the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the narrow neck of land, and he is 100 percent correct in that identification for three reasons.”
Before listing the reasons, let us consider what the scriptural record says of this narrow neck: “And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward“ (Alma 22:32). Mormon tells us that a Nephite (not a Lamanite) could journey across this narrow neck of land in a day and a half, inserting that information so we would comprehend the width of the narrow neck. He did not choose a Lamanite since such people have a tendency to travel much faster living in the wild as the Lamanites are often described, yet despite this warning, Sorenson goes on to not only suggest that “the phrase a Nephite might imply that a special messenger was the one doing the traveling.”
    This is an unbelievable statement since in the criteria of the Book of Mormon, a “Nephite” is a normal individual, city dweller, peaceable, law-abiding citizen and a believer in God. Such a person in our day, which is the reason for Mormon’s comparison, would be a typical person like the rest of us. How far can a typical man travel in a day and a half? Mormon calls it a “journey,” which suggests a typical, methodical, average speed trip—in Nephite times, that would be a man on foot, walking a normal pace. If Mormon wanted to convey a different type of person surely he would have used such terminology as a “runner,” “warrior,” “messenger,” “Lamanite,” “sportsman,” “hunter,” or “strong man,” etc. But “a Nephite” could only mean someone “normal” with “normal abilities.”
    As for “being mentioned in the context of military defense, as many Mesoamericanists claim,” is simply not true. There are eight verses that Mormon inserted, and only one verse mentions “And thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward” (Alma 22:33), which had nothing to do with the narrow neck of land, its distance, or a Nephite journey across it.
(See the next post, “Fallacious Use of Scripture – Part IV,” showing how Sorenson uses terms, thoughts and ideas that are not found or even implied in the scriptural record)


  1. I would like to see the list of 66 different scriptures that support the Andes model. Is it in the first book? I have the book and have read it, but I don't remember that list.

  2. Search the blogsite, we listed them a few times, along with an explanation, etc.

    1. I will search in the book too. The PDF I made now has 24 subjects, and was made from a comparison Chart that has been on the blog several times. (I did combine and modify a little some of the Chart points on my PDF.)

      So what I am looking for now are subjects that are not on my PDF, and yet are good subjects that have scriptural and on the ground support and should be presented. Anyone is welcome to help me find/remember them.


      There is a Spanish version of this PDF also.

    2. Reply to George:

      It is required that there be south to north shipping routes, aside from Hagoth's ships. Shipping appears to have been an industry worth mention, particularly with regard to lumber.

      Helaman 3:10,14

      If there is no way to move lumber from South to North by ship, then it is not the land of promise. Maybe this is redundant with other landform requirements, but at least interesting.

  3. Send me the 24 points (just the titles) and I will suggest other areas, if any, that have not been covered in our writings (email them to me at this blog address)

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. #1 Driven forth before the wind-----1 Nephi 18:8-9
    #2 Mediterranean Climate-----1 Nephi 18:24
    #3 Gold & Silver & Copper-----1 Nephi 18:25
    #4 Iron and Steel-----2 Nephi 5:15, ETHER 7:9
    #5 Isle of the Sea-----2 Nephi 10:20
    #6 All Types of Buildings-----Mosiah 8:8, MORMON 1:7, HELAMAN 4:7
    #7 Unknown grains-----Mosiah 9:9
    #8 Temple Tower-----Mosiah 11:12-13
    #9 Silks, Linen-----Alma 1:29
    #10 Narrow Strip of Wilderness-----Alma 22:27
    #11 North-South Narrow Neck-----Alma 22:32
    #12 Plant cures Fever-----Alma 46:40
    #13 Forts, Resorts, Stone walls-----Alma 48:8
    #14 Narrow Pass-----Alma 50:29-34
    #15 Hagoth’s ships go North-----Alma 63:5-8
    #16 Seas around land of Promise-----Helaman 3:8
    #17 Metallurgy-----Helaman 6:9, ETHER 9:17
    #18 Mtns Whose Height is Great-----Helaman 14:23
    #19 Roads and Highways-----3 Nephi 6:8
    #20 Earthquakes and upheavals----- 3 NEPHI 8:5-23; 10:9
    #21 Land of many Waters-----Mormon 6:4
    #22 Unknown Animals-----Ether 9:19
    #23 Sea divides Land-----Ether 10:20
    #24 Voyage Path of Lehi Revealed-----30 degree South Latitude document

  6. To GW,

    Let me just say again how much I love the PDF. Thank you for doing that.