|Lava in Guatemala that doesn't exist if you're wearing Mesoamerican lenses
Today I want to have some fun with volcanoes.
There's another new translation of the Book of Mormon making the rounds--again. This one adds "volcanoes" to the text. You won't find this translation on lds.org, and the term is not found in any official version of the text, but you will find it in numerous "scholarly" articles and presentations by the usual suspects (the citation cartel). Like the Sorenson and other new translations, the "volcano" translation is produced by a new kind of seer; i.e., those who "see" or "find" Mesoamerica in the Book of Mormon.
Here's a good explanation, from BYU's Daily Universe of all places:
“There has been a shift more recently to finding Mesoamerica in the Book of Mormon instead of finding the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica,” he said. “Once you start looking at the Book of Mormon through a Mesoamerican lens, you can’t unsee it.”
That last sentence pretty well explains the whole reason for this blog. Thanks to a historical mistake from 1842, millions of people have been indoctrinated to read the Book of Mormon through a Mesoamerican lens and now they "can't unsee it."
And so they produce new translations that reflect what they "see" through the Mesoamerican lens. (Maybe we should go ahead and call it the Mesoamerican Urim and Thummim, because that's how authoritative these new translations have become.)
Here's the process by which these new translations are developed:
1. Assume a Mesoamerican setting because of the anonymous 1842 Times and Seasons articles.
2. Put on the Mesoamerican lens (or eyeglasses, or spectacles, or Urim and Thummim).
3. "See" a hill in Mesoamerica that "fits" the text. Reject the New York Cumorah (along with David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Joseph Smith, because they were merely relying on a folk tradition started by unknown Mormons, they were unreliable people anyway, and they didn't have the Mesoamerican lenses that would have given them the correct understanding that modern scholars have achieved.
4. "See" such things as headwaters, a narrow strip of mountainous wilderness, tapirs, jade, etc.
5. "See" volcanoes.
I'm going to stop at volcanoes today.
[BTW, I mentioned at the conference a few days ago that I have a manuscript titled "Because of This Theory" that I'll probably never publish, but I'm tempted. The title comes from Joseph Fielding Smith's apt observation about the two-Cumorah theory: "Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon." My manuscript is a collection of "greatest hits" from the citation cartel, but I suppose everyone who follows this topic has their own lists. There is no shortage of material. For example, look at FairMormon's treatment of President Smith's comment here. Maybe we'll have some fun with that one down the road.]
Okay, back to volcanoes.
For years, I've been told about volcanoes in the Book of Mormon. Here's the kind of question you get from CES people (or anyone indoctrinated by CES, BYU, etc.): "Where is the evidence of volcanic activity (3 Nephi 8) in the North American setting for the Book of Mormon?"
I always respond to this by asking where is the evidence of volcanic activity in the Book of Mormon? The people supposedly lived in Central America for 1,000 years and never once mentioned volcanoes?
Of course, when you're wearing Mesoamerican spectacles, you simply read the evidence into the text. You can't not see the volcanoes.
According to the Mesoamerican seers, if you don't see volcanoes in the text, you're wrong; you just need to put on the right spectacles.
I'm going to give some examples next, but first I want to emphasize what I've said from the outset: I know many of the Mesoamerican proponents, including some of the authors of the articles I cite in this post. I like every one of them on a personal level. I consider them brothers and sisters in the gospel. I intend no offense, and I don't criticize any of them. I'm focused solely on the words on the page, the evidence and arguments made, etc. Whenever you read the ad hominem attacks in FARMS, Fairmormon, BMAF, the Interpreter, etc., I hope you chalk it up to desperation, as I do. The last resort of a losing argument is to attack others personally. I don't care who wrote any of these articles; actually, I wish they had left them anonymous the way Benjamin Winchester did in the Gospel Reflector and the Times and Seasons.
Here's a fun one to start with: found here. Check out this quotation from the introduction: "The main reason for the article on the BMAF website is to show that the events that occurred throughout the Book of Mormon could not possibly have been located in the eastern half of North America."
I've pointed out before that BMAF is essentially a club for Mesoamerican seers; i.e., people who wear the Mesoamerican spectacles. They are only interested in archaeology, anthropology, etc., "within a Mesoamerican context." They don't even purport to be neutral, let alone objective. The organization exists to perpetuate the Mesoamerican setting. I have no problem with that; in fact, it's delightful, sort of like a Klingon fan club.
So this article fits right in. Most of it is quotations from others who wear the Mesoamerican lenses, so I'm only going to focus on the original material.
The premise, of course, is that 3 Nephi describes volcanoes. Somehow Mormon supposedly described all the things a volcano did but didn't think to simply write, "Volcanoes erupted." That's no problem when you read the text with the Mesoamerican spectacles, though; the word is apparently on every page, invisible to anyone not wearing these specs.
To save time and space, I'll make interlinear notes.
USGS increases earthquake risk along New Madrid FaultPosted: Jul 22, 2014 3:34 PM MDTUpdated: Jul 22, 2014 3:36 PM MDT
The next article to discuss is titled "“Thick Darkness”: Volcanoes and the Historicity of the Book of Mormon." It's found here.
While this article is as fun as the first one, it has a little more serious implications. The gist of the article is that Joseph Smith could not have been an eyewitness to a volcanic eruption, so he could not have described one "with such vividness and accuracy." Of course, the author is wearing the Mesoamerican spectacles; the text Joseph and Oliver translated doesn't mention volcanoes.
The reason I say it has serious implications is that what the text describes is fully consistent with the reports from the New Madrid earthquakes from 1811-1812. IOW, the BMAF argument folds back on itself; instead of proving Joseph couldn't have written 3 Nephi because he hadn't experienced a volcanic eruption, the article supports anti-Mormon arguments that Joseph could have been simply repeating what was known about the New Madrid events.
This is a typical outcome of articles written by the Mesoamerican seers. Their desperation to prop up an indefensible theory of geography leads them to make claims that undermine the text.
Here's an example from this article. "When readers truly understand the nature of massive volcanic eruptions, their evaluation of Joseph Smith in Palmyra, New York, in 1829 will be that the New World crucifixion-of-Christ events recorded in 3 Nephi 8 show, from a historicity perspective, that Joseph Smith translated, not merely authored, the Book of Mormon."
Arguments such as this are persuasive only to Mesoamerican seers; if you're not wearing the Mesoamerican lenses, then you can't see the term "volcano" anywhere in the Book of Mormon. Like other Mesoamerican arguments, this one boils down to the assertion that Joseph just didn't translate the text correctly, so we have to supply the terms he overlooked.
Here's another missing term supplied by the Mesoamerican Urim and Thummim: "That wording clearly suggests the presence of poisonous volcanic gases that are commonly associated with volcanic eruptions and that can be fatal to those who breathe the air filled with those gases."
The article goes on to cite Mount St. Helens and Vesuvius as examples of volcanoes that caused widespread destruction. I've visited both of those sites and a major feature of each is the volcanic ash. I know people in the military who spent months in Washington cleaning up the ash. Yet, unless you're wearing the Mesoamerican lenses, you can't find a single reference in the text to all this ash.
Here's one of my favorite lines from the article: "The singular, most remarkable thing about 3 Nephi 8 is that it is obviously an eyewitness account of the events that commonly take place during certain kinds of massive volcanic eruptions."
I can't wait to see an actual, detailed account of a "massive volcanic eruption" that doesn't mention either the volcano or the ash (let alone the lava). The author provides no such account as an example--except for the account in the Book of Mormon itself.
The author cites Payson Sheets' account of a volcanic eruption in Central America in the second century A.D. Here's what Sheets also had to say: "After the eruption, the area could not sustain its entire population and therefore groups of Protoclassic people emigrated to sites where they might hope to establish new homes."
By contrast, what does the Book of Mormon say? Instead of abandoning the land, as the people in Central America and Pompeii did and the people in Washington would have but for modern mechanized equipment, the Book of Mormon people rebuilt the cities, including Zarahemla. The land was not covered with thick ash.
In most cases, when you remove the Mesoamerican lenses, you realize that the arguments made by the Mesoamerican seers disproves their own theory. Here, the claim that 3 Nephi describes massive volcanic eruptions is contradicted by the text itself.
IOW, not only does the otherwise detailed account in 3 Nephi never once mention volcanoes or volcanic ash, the Nephites immediately rebuilt the cities, which would have been impossible if they had been buried in volcanic ash.
Here's another fun quotation: "Kowallis also says that “Central American volcanoes are so explosive that liquid lava is rarely erupted. Instead, almost all (99 percent) of the magma erupted out of Central American volcanoes is in the form of ash and pumice. This would perhaps explain why there is no mention in the 3 Nephi account of anything that sounds like lava flows.”
Juxtapose this with another quotation from the article: "A “great mountain” took the place of the city of Moronihah, and hills and valleys took the place of other cities. The Book of Mormon wording for these events describes aptly the city of Paricutin, Mexico, west of Mexico City. In the 1940s, a volcanic eruption caused the earth to cover the entire village. Thereafter, the only visible evidence of the village is the Catholic church steeple that pokes up through the lava."
So first the text never mentions lava because Mesoamerican volcanoes don't produce lava, but then the text specifically describes lava as the "great mountain" that "took the place of the city of Moronihah." The proof is that a city in Mexico was completely covered with lava except for the steeple of a Catholic church.
You need to wear Mesoamerican lenses to think this is a coherent argument.
Finally, I'll just note what the official text says. Readers should remove their Mesoamerican spectacles for a moment, if possible.
3 Nephi 8:10 And the earth was carried up upon the city of Moronihah, that in the place of the city there became a great mountain.
How is earth "carried up upon" a city? I'll leave it to you to figure that one out, although it's pretty simple if you aren't wearing Mesoamerican lenses.
Hint: It's not a lava flow...