long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Friday, October 26, 2018

5 year correspondences

A good indicator of confirmation bias is pattern recognition. For M2C, a standard form of pattern recognition is the claim that an element from one culture "corresponds" to an element in another culture, thereby somehow linking the two cultures.

There's an excellent example in a recent post from one of my favorite bloggers. This one is titled "5 Year Prophecies." You can see it here: http://bookofmormonresources.blogspot.com/2018/10/5-year-prophecies.html

Let's have a look. Original in blue, my comments in red. My emphasis in bold.

In the book The Ancient Future of the Itza: The Book of Chilam Balam of Tizimin written by unknown Maya scribes over centuries and translated and annotated by Munro  S. Edmonson, (Austin: University of Texas Press: 1982), we find a significant correspondence with the Book of Mormon.

You might wonder, as I have, why the M2C intellectuals use the term "correspondence" so frequently. 

Here's a simple Google definition: 

a close similarity, connection, or equivalence.
"there is a simple correspondence between the distance of a focused object from the eye and the size of its image on the retina"
synonyms: correlation, similarity, resemblance, comparability, compatibility, agreement, consistency, congruity, conformity, uniformity, harmony, affinity, accordance, accord, concurrence, coincidence; association, relationship, connection, interaction
"there is some correspondence between the two variables"

It's a great term because it can imply an equivalence or affinity while preserving deniability. The fluid meaning allows the claim to be as close or as attenuated as one wants.

Of course, a "similarity," no matter how close, means only that one thing reminds us of another. 

Munro Sterling Edmonson (1924 - 2002) was a Mayanist on the faculty of the Middle American Research Institute (MARI) at Tulane. 

Here we get an application of the "quality" filter. Presumably, we'll see what this qualified expert had to say about the Book of Mormon.

He is best known for a highly-acclaimed translation of the Popol Vuh published in 1971 that was the best available until BYU's Alan  Christenson came out with his superior translation in 2003. 

Oops. So much for our "quality" expert. He has been eclipsed by a BYU M2C scholar. Since the blog post doesn't address the Popol Vuh, why the gratuitous reference to Christenson? Are we supposed to infer that this makes Christenson a "more quality" expert than Edmonson?  

There are many books of Chilam Balam known by the Yucatecan city of their provenance (Chumayel, Mani, Teabo, etc.) and they share many characteristics as divinatory almanacs tied to the cyclical Maya calendar. They are sometimes called "prophetic history" because they contain both predictions for the coming katun (7,200 day or 20 year cycle) and a history of the past katun. Important elements in the books of Chilam Balam are where was the seat of government, who was the ruler, and what were the major events that took place during a given katun? 

All fascinating, I'm sure, but what's the point?

All of this sounds very like what we read in the Book of Mormon.

Ah. Here comes the "correspondence." You can see already how illusory this is. What human society did not care about where was the seat of government, who the ruler was, and what major events took place in that society? 

By this standard, there is a "correspondence" between every human society and the Book of Mormon. Which, actually, is useful; at least the Book of Mormon matches up with human society. It's not a book about aliens (although presumably even aliens would care about these three elements). 

And, of course, every fictional society has these three elements.

One parallel caught my attention. In his introduction, Edmonson says the predictions were usually given 5 years before the beginning of a katun (The Ancient Future of the Itza, p. xii).  

5 year periods are not unique to Mayans, of course. The Soviet Union made five-year plans famous in the modern world, and India has also used them. 

We have a brilliant example of a five year prophecy by Samuel the Lamanite in Helaman 14:2. 

Hold on. The simplest explanation, of course, is coincidence. Samuel visited the Nephites because they were wicked. The Nephites rejected him. He left. The Lord commanded him to go back. We don't know what time frame this all took, but it could have involved months. Nothing special about the 5 years.

What makes this example "brilliant" is the M2C confirmation bias.

But it turns out, even if we assume the 5 years was more than a coincidence, it could relate directly to the most famous 5 year prophecy in the world, given by Joseph in Egypt, in Genesis 45:6.

4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.

5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest...

11 And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.

Joseph is a familiar figure in the Book of Mormon, which contains at least six passages, from 1 Nephi through Ether, that specifically refer to Joseph in Egypt. Here's an example: 

1 Nephi 5:14 And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine.

Joseph in Egypt was a type for the Nephites in America. 

Ether 13:7 For as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there; wherefore, the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem, that he might be merciful unto the seed of Joseph that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph that he should perish not.

Just as Joseph promised salvation to his family after five years of drought, a five-year prophecy familiar to the Nephites since Joseph was their common ancestor and the type of their migration to the new world, Samuel the Lamanites gave a five-year prophecy of the coming of the Redeemer. 

Does this qualify as a "correspondence" in M2C mindset? 

Apparently not. Because next we're going to see that the Nephites didn't think about Joseph in Egypt. Instead, they cared about how Mayan priests prophesied!

We have known for years that Samuel the Lamanite's four hundred year prophecies in Helaman 13:5, 9 are examples of Mesoamerican (Maya) baktun prophecies. 

This is classic M2C dogma. Notice the rhetoric: not we have "speculated" or "proposed," but we have known that Samuel's prophecy was an example of a Mesoamerican baktun prophecy.

This takes us far beyond a mere correspondence. Now, according to M2C, Samuel the Lamanite was actually a Mayan priest making a baktum prophecy!

Those of us who read the Bible and see more than merely a "correspondence" between the Bible and the Book of Mormon remember another 400 year prophecy. Here's the Hebrew explanation for the four hundred year prophecy in the Book of Mormon:

Genesis 15:13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;

14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

There are several references in the Book of Mormon to the children of Israel being in bondage and being freed. I think it makes more sense for the Book of Mormon authors to look at the 400 year period in the context of Genesis than in the context of a Mayan culture they never mention.

Unless Samuel the Lamanite was also Samuel the Mayan priest.

A baktun is 20 katuns, 144,000 days or 400 years. Another clear example of a baktun prophecy is Alma 45:10. 

This is a "clear example" of a Mayan prophecy? Now Alma is also a Mayan priest

Here's an alternative explanation. Maybe Alma, too, was invoking the example, well-known among the Nephites, of the children of Israel in Egypt. Look at what Alma prophesied:

Alma 45:10 And these are the words: Behold, I perceive that this very people, the Nephites, according to the spirit of revelation which is in me, in four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ shall manifest himself unto them, shall dwindle in unbelief.

I don't know of a single "quality" Mesoamerican scholar who has found anything remotely comparable to Alma's prophecy. 

The only similarity (correspondence) between the Mayan prophecies and Alma's (and Samuel's) is the 400 years. 

The 400-year prophecy involving the children of Israel in Egypt has far more in common with the Book of Mormon prophets than merely the duration of time. Both Joseph in Egypt and the children of Israel in Egypt were recurring themes in the Book of Mormon, used to teach gospel principles and the covenants of the Lord.  

Moroni reports baktun history in Mormon 8:6. 

Now, Moroni, too, is a Mayan? 

Actually, he merely reports the fulfillment of Alma's prophecy:

Mormon 8:6 Behold, four hundred years have passed away since the coming of our Lord and Savior.

Moroni was not unfamiliar with the history of the children of Israel in Egypt; he related the account of Joseph in Egypt in Ether 13:7. 

Then, to erase all doubt about the time reckoning system his culture used, Moroni ends his record by reporting one final katun history Moroni 10:1.

Now Moroni intended "to erase all doubt about the time reckoning system his culture used." If that was his intent, perhaps he should have written katun instead of years, but for an M2C scholar, that's Joseph's fault for mistranslating what is "obviously" a Mayan codex. 

Or, even worse, since the M2C scholars now don't believe Joseph actually translated the plates (i.e., he merely "transmitted" the words that appeared on the stone in the hat), the Lord Himself mistranslated Moroni's words.

What did Moroni write that was so convincing as to erase all doubt?

Moroni 10:1 Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; and I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites; and I would that they should know that more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ.

There it is.

Moroni lived 20 years after he observed, in Mormon 8:6, that Alma's 400-year prophecy had been fulfilled. That makes Moroni a Mayan.

And thus we see the power of confirmation bias.

By this same M2C reasoning, Joseph Smith was also a Mayan. He claimed the First Vision occurred in 1820, a date divisible by 20. The 400 year period (baktun) fits easily, depending on when you start the clock. Either 200 BC or 200 AD will do.

Anything is feasible when you are confirming your bias. There is always a "correspondence" that you can use.

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