Monday, April 11, 2016

Religion Today on KSL

People have been asking me about Religion Today because Martin Tanner went through the topic yesterday. Martin's a great guy. He has favored the Central American theory for many years and is part of the citation cartel (Interpreter, fairmormon, etc.).

I discussed the program back in August here. The program yesterday may have been a repeat.

Yesterday, he suggested people look at the Book of Mormon text itself and set aside preconditions (a great idea, but I've yet to see a single Mesoamerican do this, and Martin is no exception, as I'll show). The Mesoamerican lenses are quite powerful; those who have worn them for a long time "can't not see" Mesoamerica in the text, as I'll show here. Martin also recommends that people disregard what early leaders, including Joseph Smith, said. He said Joseph never claimed revelation about where BoM events happened, and that "his own personal ideas changed a great deal over time." Consequently, Martin says, Joseph merely speculated. This is all standard citation cartel dogma, the kind of thing one says when looking through the Mesoamerican lenses.

According to Martin, the promised land as described in the Book of Mormon talks about an "advanced civilization," a place where people reached an advanced state of culture and building. According to Martin, just that concept alone disqualifies anything in North America and qualifies the Central American location. Martin claims there are no "great civilizations" in North America between 600 BC and 400 AD. The Mesoamericans had millions of people and walled cities with great buildings. He claims these are absent from North America.

Martin makes basically the same argument the Federal Government did when, pursuant to Manifest Destiny and the approval of the Courts of the Conquereors (as the Supreme Court called itself), the government 1) fought the Indians, 2) removed them from their native lands, 3) forced them onto oppressive reservations, and 4) destroyed as much of their history and as many of their structures as it could. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Mounds & Earthworks (not LDS) noted that "the large majority of America's mounds have been completely destroyed by farming, construction, looting, and deliberate total excavation...I am fairly certain that over 1,000,000 mounds once existed and that perhaps 100,000 still exist."

Populations, according to Martin, are too large for North America. Hundreds of thousands up to millions. There is no objective evidence that there was any kind of civilization in North America that had millions of people as part of a city or as part of a battle or series of battles. But there are such in Central America.

In my view, it's audacious to claim there is no evidence when we know it was intentionally destroyed, but despite the destruction, the documented earthworks in North America demonstrate a high degree of civilization, both in terms of cooperative effort and in knowledge of math, geometry, and celestial events (including calendaring). Martin is either unaware of this or is misleading his listeners (and I like to think the former).

Martin says there are "No great cities made of cement like we read in the Book of Helaman," or of walls and towers in North America. Now that he's asking his listeners to stick to the text, you would think he would do so, but he doesn't. (I'll assume here that he honestly thinks the text speaks of "cement cities" because that's what everyone who wears the Mesoamerican lenses sees, but readers and listeners need to know Martin's not talking about Joseph Smith's translation.)

Here's what I wrote back in August:

Martin claims there were "cement cities," but there are four references to cement in the BoM, and none of them describe cement cities:

Helaman 3:7
7 And there being but little timber upon the face of the land, nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly expert in the working of cement; therefore they did build houses of cement, in the which they did dwell.

Helaman 3:11
11 And thus they did enable the people in the land northward that they might build many cities, both of wood and of cement.

Helaman 3:9
9 And the people who were in the land northward did dwell in tents, and in houses of cement, and they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings.

Testimony of JS-“Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them.

So, Joseph uses the term "cement" to describe the box--in New York. Besides Joseph's own description (and the even more detailed description by Oliver Cowdery), there is abundant evidence of the North American Indians using cement. Many of the mounds were covered with cement, to the point that they were difficult for farmers to tear down. Some used jackhammers to break up the cement. Even today, at Cahokia, they have recreated a portion of the ancient wall around the city. It consists of tall timbers, covered with cement. 

The scripture says they built houses of cement, and cities "both of wood and of cement." While there may have been Mesoamerican cities made of wood and cement, the ones cited in the 1842Times and Seasons articles that started the Mesoamerican theory are all stone and cement (referring to Teotihuacan and the cities discovered by Stephens and Catherwood). Maybe the Book of Mormon says they built cities and pyramids out of stone and cement, but not in the version I have. 

Must be in the Sorenson translation.

One reference says they built walls of stone around the cities, but the cities were built with mounds of earth--which is what the Hopewell in North America did, including the mounds Joseph described as Nephite. Consequently, in my opinion the cement verses exclude Mesoamerica as a potential location described by the text. (And that's not even getting into the law of Moses problem with Mesoamerican architecture.)

Martin claims that agriculture was limited in North America, but not on the large scale and not with the kinds of grains described, that there are no flocks and herds raised by Native American cultures, etc. He doesn't cite any verses, so I don't know what "large scale" he's referring to, but North American cultures developed agriculture after 600 BC, which museums throughout the Southeastern U.S. explain.

Martin says that in Mesoamerica, they had significant efforts to raise and keep llamas, alpacas, goats, and other herded animals. I've visited Mesoamerica, but the only llamas and alpacas I've seen were in Peru. Llamas and alpacas are called "the sheep of the Andes." Maybe they thrive in hot lowland jungles, but that's news to me.

Martin says the description in BoM of major public buildings, including religious ones, is found in Mesoamerica, but not in North America at all. Hmm. Since he doesn't cite verses, it's hard to know to what he is referring. King Noah built "many elegant and spacious buildings" and "a spacious palace," but they were ornamented with wood not stone and precious things, including gold, silver, iron, brass, and copper. The massive earthworks in North America were "major" by any measure.

He recommends An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon by John Sorenson. He's going through the evidence, based on the text itself.

Martin says there were a number of large-scale of wars between 600 BC and 400 AD but not archaeological evidence in North America, but they do exist in Central America, along with the implements of war. In North America we have some spears, bows and arrows, occasionally other kinds of weapons, such as axes and hatchets. But what we have described in the BoM is swords. We do find swords described in ancient Mesoamerica. Also scimitars, completely absent in North America, but used in Central America. Head shields and body armor in text, but not in North America except for only ceremonial headresses that wouldn't be worn in battle. In Mesoamerica, there are murals showing this kind of thing. Head shields, body armor, etc.

This one sounds like it came from the old Sorenson list. It's so thoroughly uninformed that I won't waste time detailing the problems (I've done that many times before). Anyone with an open mind can find out how many thousands of weapons have been recovered throughout North America. You can see the head plates in museums in Ohio, as well as the breast plates, arm bands, etc.

Martin claims there are no human-made improved roads in North America. In Central America, where the rainforest grew at tremendous rates, the cultures built improved roads to prevent overgrowth. It makes sense in Mesoamerica but not North America, etc.

Seriously? Start with the great Hopewell road, here.

Martin says great towers not found in North America but found in Central America. If he means stone towers, I completely agree. But nowhere does the text refer to stone towers, and there is evidence of abundant wooden towers in North America.

Martin points out there was writing and record keeping in Mesoamerica, but not North America. Spanish gathered them up and burned them, but we still have some. Mesoamerican codices held in libraries, including the Vatican. Plus glyphs on temples. No known books written by Native Americans in North America. The Windtalkers had an advantage of not having a written language to be consulted to allow the Japanese or Germans to break the code.

This is one of my favorite Mesoamerican arguments, because it only makes sense if you're wearing a good pair of Mesoamerican spectacles. As soon as you take them off, you see the argument disproves Mesoamerica. The whole point of the plates was to preserve the history and teachings because the Lamanites would destroy them. The people of Zarahemla had no written language, and they lived in the main city. King Benjamin told his sons that but for the plates, "we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time (130-124 B.C.), not knowing the mysteries of God... were it not for these things... we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites." (Mosiah 1). If they were living in Mesoamerica, they could have put the records on the stones and in the codices. Instead, they wrote on plates of metal. The only carved stone in the entire text is the one Coriantumr left with the people of Zarahemla, who couldn't read it. It's difficult to imagine a description more different from Mesoamerica than what the Book of Mormon gives us with respect to writing and record keeping. Not only that, but we have the Mesoamerican records! True, the Spanish destroyed many of them, but we know when the kings lived, what they worshiped and how, etc. The Book of Mormon, by stark contrast, is a lost record of an otherwise unknown history.

Martin asserts that the Nephites followed several calendar systems, but no known calendar systems in North America. That's a compound error, often addressed elsewhere.

Martin claims another thing described in great detail, refining of gold and silver to make plates, described by the Spanish when they got here. None discovered among Native Americans before 400 AD.

The only known smelting in the Americas from Book of Mormon time frames was in Indiana.

Martin raises the old straw man: No hint of cold or snow in BoM, but we would have it if was located in North America.

The New Testament doesn't mention cold or snow, yet I was in Cappadocia recently, where Paul traveled, and it was snowing in April. Does this mean the New Testament could not have taken place where it says it did? It's a goofy argument, even by Mesoamerican standards. Maybe if I put on the Mesoamerican spectacles I could find references in the text to the rainy and dry seasons of Mesoamerica (along with all the volcanoes and jade and tapirs, etc.). What the text does say is there were "some seasons of the year" when fevers were "very frequent in the land." In Mesoamerica, you have two seasons: wet and dry. You can't have "some seasons" when there are only two seasons. In North America, you have four. Anyone familiar with Church history knows that there were "some seasons of the year" when fevers were "very frequent in the land" around Nauvoo.

Martin claims the river Sidon is described as having a "head" up in the south, implying that it ran north from some southern mountain ranges. No North American rivers work for that. But the Grijalva river does work.

This is fully addressed in Moroni's America for anyone who still thinks this is an issue for the North American setting. You'll see you need to wear Mesoamerican spectacles to make any sense out of Martin's argument (which is not at all based on the text, btw).

Martin points out that in Alma Chapter 2, wading across the river Sidon, way up high in the south. Where are you going to wade across the Mississippi or Missouri?

How about at Zarahemla, across from Nauvoo? And around St. Louis?

I admit, it's annoying to keep pounding these rhetorical gophers into the ground. The Mesoamericans have always resorted on incorrect facts, fallacious arguments, and their own additions/modifications of the text. Once they admitted that when you put on the Mesoamerican lenses you can't not see Mesoamerica everywhere, the gig was up.

More and more people realize it. If you're not sure yet, take off the Mesoamerican lenses and think for yourself, reading the text as Joseph translated it. You'll be surprised at how obvious the North American setting is.


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