The Infancy of Mesoamerican Studies

In a recent post, I discussed the fortifications described in the Book of Mormon and compared them to some of the remnants of similar fortifications in Mesoamerica. I noted that scholars had long thought that the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica were thought to be peaceful, but that recent evidence has shown that they faced numerous wars, consistent with Book of Mormon descriptions. One person denounced this statement as unsubstantiated rubbish. While I provided a lot of documentation in that post, I didn’t provide much on the old paradigm of the peaceful Mayan people, thinking that this was pretty well known. For those of you who may not realize how wrong past scholars have been, and how recent our knowledge of Mesoamerican warfare is, here is a helpful reminder from the Smithsonian Magazine, July 2004:

For much of the 20th century, Maya experts followed the lead of Carnegie Institution of Washington archaeologist J. Eric Thompson, who argued that the Maya were peaceful philosophers and extraordinary observers of celestial events content to ponder the nature of time and the cosmos. Thompson, who died in 1975, theorized that Tikal and other sites were virtually unpopulated “ceremonial centers” where priests studied planets and stars and the mysteries of the calendar. It was a beautiful vision-but nearly all wrong.

When, in the 1960s, the hieroglyphs-the most sophisticated writing system created in the New World-were at last beginning to be deciphered, a new picture of these people emerged. Mayan art and writing, it turned out, contained stories of battles, sacrificial offerings and torture. Far from being peaceful, the Maya were warriors, their kings vainglorious despots. Maya cities were not merely ceremonial; instead, they were a patchwork of feudal fiefdoms bent on conquest and living in constant fear of attack.

If scholars were ignorant of the most basic aspects of Mayan life until recent years, it should come as no surprise that much still remains poorly understood. Other paradigms may yet be shaken. A critical problem is that nearly all of the written documents from the ancient literary peoples of Mesoamerica were destroyed by the Spaniards. It sickens me to read of Friar Diego de Landa burning the books of the Mayan people because they were felt to be evil. Michael D. Coe laments that “our knowledge of ancient Maya thought must represent only a tiny fraction of the whole picture, for of the thousands of books in which the full extent of their learning and ritual was recorded, only four have survived to modern times (as though all that posterity knew of ourselves were to be based upon three prayer books and Pilgrim’s Progress).” (Michael D. Coe, The Maya, London: Thames and Hudson, 4th ed., 1987, p. 161.)

A knowledge of ancient Mesoamerica – the region many of us LDS folks see as the epicenter of Book of Mormon lands – is still in its infancy. Archaeological research is decades behind work in Israel and the Middle East in general. Documents are rare. Digs are hindered by many factors, not the least of which have been political chaos. And scholars have only recently figured out the most basic aspects of ancient life in Mesoamerica, such as the fact that they faced many wars and indeed had to spend a lot of time making weapons and fortifications, including some in Book of Mormon style. So for those of you who think a clear knowledge of Mesoamerican warfare, fortifications, and human sacrifice would have been readily available to Joseph Smith to include in his vain little attempt at plagiarism, think again.

Please note that non-LDS Mesoamerican scholars ARE NOT coming out in support of the Book of Mormon. It’s utter silliness to them and provides no compelling reason to believe to anyone who will not read it seriously and ponder. But to those who will look and understand what it really says and does not say, there are increasing grounds for accepting its plausibility, and the impossibility that Joseph Smith just made it up based on what was known in 1830.

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Author: Jeff Lindsay

84 thoughts on “The Infancy of Mesoamerican Studies

  1. The charge that I personally love is cement. A hundred or so years ago it was utterly ludicrous to even think that there could be any fortifications or buildings erected with a ‘cement’ technology. Even at the turn of the XX century, many left the Church because of this. Now it has been shown that a form of cement technology was known before the arrival of Spaniards.

    This might not prove a definitive ‘smoking gun’ for the Book of Mormon, but I wonder, if in 20 or 30 years, when studies about Mesoamerican have advance a bit, if there could be more about some of the claims current critics love to revel in.

    As an afterthought, I would sumbit the following story that appeared in the BBC news website. Was Mesoamerica a peaceful and tranquil place. Hardly. But I was taught in school that Mayans were quite peaceful. This was back in the mid 1980’s.

  2. Wow, Smithsonian Magazine! Now that’s authoritative! Couldn’t you find anything in USA Today?

    Eric Thompson was a lovable old duffer out of the “King Kong” days of archaeology. My own proficiency in Mayan studies is from the linguistic side—I can’t resist a good ergative—and Eric scored no points there.

    Jeff has his Mormon-tinted glasses on again and misses the point. Thompson’s unscientific and romantic musings were an anomaly. More to the point, in the days of that ol’ faker Joe Smith it was taken for granted that the whole lot of American Indians were coarse savages—there was none of this new agey “wisdom of the Native Americans” nonsense then! The BoM’s picture of warlike American peoples fit the contemporary mindset quite well. The fact that many years later there were a few eccentrics who unsuccessfully challenged this view is really immaterial.

    Infancy of Mesoamerican studies? Hardly.

    As for Alex G, it sounds like he went to the same school as Gilligan!

  3. Now that’s nice RfP. Please dont say that you are feminist. It just kills the spirit of true feminism. As for poet… well, its dire.

    My sources include the National Anthropology and History Institute and the works of several leading archaelogical authorities in Mexico. Wrong? Maybe. I do not defend what was researched in the 50’s and still taught in the 80’s. It only shows that there has been new knowledge added on to it.

  4. “Wow, Smithsonian Magazine! Now that’s authoritative!”

    Of course, we all should have realized that radicalfeminist poet is the one and only authoritative source on this matter–far above those monkey-brained fools at the Smithsonian Institution. We should all simply sit back and watch in awe as radicalfeminist poet teaches truths. Yet, no matter how hard we try, there’s no way our puny Mormon brains will ever grasp them. Sigh. It is so hard to look at the Olympian heights of rfp’s intellect and know we can never match them.

  5. People. Just ignore the RadicalFeministPoet. She is only posting to distract everyone from the point of Jeff’s messages and ruffle feathers. Don’t give her the satistfaction. It will be much more annoying to her if you ignore her idol rantings. Seriously. Much like a child throwing a tantrum to get what they want – if you ignore the fit, eventually they will learn that through their negative behavior no satisfaction will come.

  6. Mormanity, do you ever ban posters who do nothing but sneer, mock, and disrupt?

    You should seriously consider doing it in this instance. How many threads will this blathering poseur attempt to destroy?

  7. Radicalfeministpoet: “…in the days of that ol’ faker Joe Smith it was taken for granted that the whole lot of American Indians were coarse savages—there was none of this new agey ‘wisdom of the Native Americans’ nonsense then!”

    Which is all the more interesting because the Book of Mormon portrays ancient Americans as having complex political and social organizations, cities, organized strategic warfare, and a written language … which doesn’t sound at all like the “coarse savages” of ol’ Joe Smith’s day.

  8. OK, everybody put their fingers in their ears and Hummmmmmmmm. That should drown out the sound of the critic. Don’t read her sneering words either. That sneering person. Jealous is she of what we have. Say no to the contention she has brought among us. It is of the devil. Someone block her as she has no right to mock us. Mock not less ye be mocked. Ye of little mock shall be blessed.

  9. Book of Mormon portrays ancient Americans as having complex political and social organizations, cities, organized strategic warfare, and a written language
    That’s right. They even rode horses, didn’t they? Or tapirs, or llamas, or something.

    Though it’s not up to me, I would encourage Jeff not to ban Amour, as Dan Peterson has so ungraciously demanded. Though we may not agree with his viewpoints, the way to open an ignorant person’s mind is not to shut him off or ignore him. Someone else suggested we should all act in a more Christ-like manner, and I would encourage Dan to behave this way to Amour.

    BTW, Smithsonian magazine is a popular (ie, for the masses) journal whose articles are provided by non-specialist freelancers, not by Smithsonian Institution staff. I’ve known some of them, like Pico Iyer, who spent a year or so at Harvard (not Yale!) in the 1980s. Jeff could tell us more, since he’s spilled considerable ink trying to refute Smithsonian statements on the BoM.

  10. Please note that Radicalfeministpoet has confirmed her vast expertise and objective, scholarly position by completely ignoring my last argument and instead replying with a sarcastic dodge that betrays her ignorance of what the Book of Mormon claims.

    Sad, but telling.

  11. I have yet to see a solid argument from RfP. Like good ole’ Tom Paine (yes, the American lover) s/he appears to be far more effective at criticizing otherse than s/he is at building her own case. Just like the other critics–no explanation, just trash talk. Trash talk and Mesoamerica don’t exactly mix. It’s like we’ve playing Mesoamerican basketball with college dudes from the “B” team (cocky, but incompetent) Doh! I said “dude.” There goes my claim to cultural superiority–along with my saying “doh.” And I appealed to basketball–how heathen of me.

  12. I will try and indulge PM, but perhaps I’d better bring it down a grade level or two. Jeff makes several claims, among which are:

    1) Mesoamerican studies are in their infancy.
    2) Everyone used to think the Mayans were peaceful.
    3) Joe Smith described a tumultuous, violent pre-Columbian period—therefore his knowledge was miraculous.
    4) Joe Smith displayed a “clear knowledge” of “Mesoamerican warfare, fortifications, and human sacrifice”.

    To which I respond:

    1) Balderdash. Westerners became aware of the old Mayan sites, for instance, over 150 years ago. And of course, the Aztec empire a powerful force at the time of the Spanish conquest.
    2) More balderdash. Eric Thompson was an anomaly; the novelty of his claims was what made them so intriguing. Unfortunately, that’s often the way to get noticed in academia. But Eric wasn’t much better at social anthropology than he was at phonetics.
    3) Nothing miraculous at all here. The common view of American Indians in the 1800s was that they were warlike savages. I’m referring to their ethical, not their material culture, of course: that relatively advanced native cultures had existed (eg, the Aztecs) was common knowledge, and it was also known that the conquistadors had been seeking legendary cities like El Dorado. There’s hardly anything surprising in Smith inventing stories that merely reflected the contemporary image of Indians.
    4) There’s nothing clear about it. To the impartial investigator, alleged correspondences between the BoM and Mayans et al are fanciful and forced—less credible than the fevered musings of Erich von Däniken.

    Personally I have no particular wish to disabuse individual Mormons of their delusions. You can believe the moon’s made of green cheese, for all I care, or that God and Mrs God live next door to the planet / star Kobol. What’s fascinating to me is how much intellectual energy people can spend propping up a faulty edifice:

    To save appeerances, how gird the Sphear
    With Centric and Eccentric scribl’d o’re,
    Cycle and Epicycle, Orb in Orb

    (Next you’ll be telling me that the Iraqis are grateful for the American invasion.)

  13. You can believe the moon’s made of green cheese

    There you go being silly again. The only cheese that is green is moldy cheese, and everyone knows there’s no mold on the moon.

    BTW, compared to most of the rest of the world, mesoamerican archaelogy is certainly in it’s infancy. Infancy, in this case is a relative term, so please keep balderdash, scrabble, and yahtzee to yourself.

  14. I don’t mind the anonymity; it’s the orthography I find offensive. Spelling the third person neuter pronoun with an apostrophe is an utter abomination. Where are the howls of protest from Dan Peterson et al now?

    Relative? Champollion translated the Rosetta hieroglyphs in the 1820s. Ventris deciphered Linear A in the 1950s; Linear B and the Phaistos disc are as yet unread. So is the Indus Valley script (which was unknown before the 1920s!). All these are from civilisations far older and more advanced than the Mayan, yet we can do much more with the Mayan glyphs, nearly all (nine tenths or so) of which are comprehensible. Furthermore, for diachronic comparison we have modern Mayans around today—one of the fellows I studies with at Hahvahd years ago was John Watanabe, who’s done extensive fieldwork there.

    Still, this is all something of a red herring. Smith was unlikely to have known about the Maya, but everyone knew about the Aztec cities—heck, Vivaldi composed an opera about Montezuma in the 1700s! (If any of you ever make it to the east coast of the US, you should try and go to an opera, before Dubbya bans them.)

  15. Mike, it might be cause your question is based on fiction. I don’t know but maybe she just doesn’t take fantasy literature all that serious.

    You all seem to devote a lot of time and energy to this world of hidden stone boxes and miracle glasses that translate non-existent languages.

    Isn’t there something fact based you would rather be studying? All of you sheep put together might be able to actually accomplish something if you put as much energy into it as you do to this.

  16. Dang… Dubbya’s gonna ban operas? Ahh, no big loss. There are loads of other things to do here on the enlightened east coast.

    Of course, I was hoping he’d deport radical feminist poets first. Tons of places they’d be more appreciated. Hey you mentioned Iraq, why not be proactive and repatriate? Oh yeah, I forgot… you and your army of anonymous trolls have the job of spending loads of intellectual energy laughing at the heathen from your “great and spacious building” of wisdom.

    Anyway, Jeff… Thanks for your posts and the time you spend working on this blog. And thank you to those (myself excluded, of course) who are able to submit posts that do not smack of mockery.

    In response to ME’s post…
    What haven’t we accomplished? Living 10 years longer than the general public? A successful lay ministry building one of the fastest growing Churches? The ability to modivate 50,000 people each year to pay their own way and serve Christ? How about actually convincing people to change their lives, not just on Sundays? If you want to make the world a better place, shouldn’t you start with you and your family? Alcoholism, STD’s, rape, wars, and the disrespect of women are all a direct result of decisions made outside the gospel of Christ, wouldn’t you agree?

  17. Ooh! I was posting as “me” on the other thread. The “me” here isn’t me! Hey, Me! Get your own name. I’m offically changing mine to Rad Girl.

  18. Mormons… all concerned with family and service… how stupid! yeah, now that i think of it, maybe the mormons have the wrong priorities. They should all stop the healthy living, family oreintation, and service others crap and lead lives of selfishness and indulgence- thats fulfilling. Now thats doing something!

    I totally respect those who ridicule others ideas, thoughts, and beliefs without having any knowledge of them or their beliefs. Brilliant! Thats doing something.

  19. Rad, I object to your mischaracterization of my argument. You paraphrase me as follows:

    1) Mesoamerican studies are in their infancy.
    2) Everyone used to think the Mayans were peaceful.
    3) Joe Smith described a tumultuous, violent pre-Columbian period—therefore his knowledge was miraculous.
    4) Joe Smith displayed a “clear knowledge” of “Mesoamerican warfare, fortifications, and human sacrifice”.

    1. You got this one right – that is what I said. And it’s still true. Read Michael Coe and note how much we still don’t know. The Mayans were one of several peoples in ancient Mesoamerica – some remain largely unknown. The amount of work that has been done in Mesoamerica is FAR LESS than in Israel or many other places in the Middle East.

    2. I did not say “everyone.” But I am quite surprised that you do not recognize that the “peaceful Mayans” paradigm was a widely touted one, at least for a period of time. The fact that it had a loud, dogmatic, and now discredited proponent does not change the facts: the extensive warfare in ancient Mesoamerica was not immediately obvious based on the evidence available in the first half of this century.

    3. I did not say that a miracle was needed to say that wars occurred ini the ancient Americas. My argument was that the parallels between Mesoamerica and Book of Mormon features – things like patterns of warfare, raised earthen walls with palisades around cities (not to mention temples, gardens, chief markets, highways, various officers, and other elements of advanced civilizations) – were not something that could easily be derived from common knowledge, and represent a potential argument for plausibility of the text.

    4. I did not say that Joseph Smith had a “clear knowledge” of anything. Rather, I question those who think he could have had such knowledge of Mesoamerica based on available information in his day. In fact, our modern knowledge of the ancient Americas is still unclear in many areas, though it is clear that they did have many wars, human sacrifice, political and priestly officers, complex trade systems, temples, gardens, multiple markets, highways, and many other elements not particularly well represented among the Native Americans Joseph Smith might have encountered in New York.

  20. Regarding “infancy,” see this passage from a book review in the Canadian Journal of History:

    “Somewhat less familiar will be the author’s insistence on including all the original Nahuatl and the additional remarks this sometimes requires. This inclusion is necessary because the adequate translation and interpretation of early Nahuatl texts is still in its infancy and further advances are to be expected. Nonetheless I must add that the author is among the literal handful of scholars in the world who are adept enough at the language and knowledgeable enough about the corpus to do this sort of work. I am familiar with much of the ecclesiastical and civil Nahuatl corpus and I am impressed with the breadth and variety of sources she includes.”

    Mormons aren’t the only ones who might use the word “infancy” to describe at least some aspects of Mesoamerican studies.

  21. “…everyone knew about the Aztec cities—heck, Vivaldi composed an opera about Montezuma in the 1700s!”

    And to think, all this time I never knew Joseph Smith had been reading and attending Vivaldi operas in his childhood! (Heck, I never even knew he could speak Italian.) I hope you’ll provide a list of all the performances that came through the villages of Manchester and Palmyra.

  22. Please note that non-LDS Mesoamerican scholars ARE NOT coming out in support of the Book of Mormon.

    Why not? There is so much evidence that they would be fools not to see it.

    It’s utter silliness to them and provides no compelling reason to believe to anyone who will not read it seriously and ponder.

    Silliness? You mean the I can run and hop over fences with 100 lbs of gold under my arm part? Or the part about the gold plates can only be seen by who God chooses or they will be smitten down, but wait, they have to be kept safe from thieves cause God will not smite them down part?
    OHH, Got it. The scholars are not seriously reading it and pondering it. If they did, well then, fill up the font man.

    But to those who will look and understand what it really says and does not say, there are increasing grounds for accepting its plausibility, and the impossibility that Joseph Smith just made it up based on what was known in 1830.

    Ohh so you got to know what it really says? That makes perfect sense now. All those scholars are not reading it seriously, not pondering it seriously, and do not know what it REALLY says. So therefore, they are not supporting the BOM. Always good to post all those escape clauses Jeff.

    Thanks Jeff, like I told some other sheep. I come for the stories, you are one entertaining fellow. You da man!

    Oh and since it ticks off some of the other posters, I will just post as anonymous. They really hate it when I do that, they start with the name calling. You know how they get? It’s all this, I love Jesus, but you are a troll and a coward. boo hoo

  23. The scholars are not seriously reading it and pondering it.

    Nor are you, my friend. When you do, we might be able to have an interesting discussion, whether you believe the BOM or not. Good luck in your endeavor to find truth (which I hope you are honestly seeking).

  24. I suspect that the obsessive and supercilious “poet” (now turned anonymous in order to maximize irritation) has had a more substantial connection with the Church than merely an occasional encounter, a few years back, with “pimply-faced” missionaries during the period when the “poet” allegedly served as the chief ornament of Harvard University and as North America’s sole claim to culture.

    On one level, of course, the self-proclaimed “poet’s” posts represent nothing more than a shallow pastiche of wearisome insults and childish put-downs. (We should be grateful, I suspect, that we haven’t been subjected to any of the poetry allegedly emitted by the “poet.”) On another level, though, it’s pretty obvious that the “poet” has too extensive an acquaintance with Mormon beliefs, practices, and culture — superficial though the “poet’s” grasp of such things indisputably appears — for it to be the result merely of a passing interest. Plainly, along with the “poet’s” manifestly obsessive urge to pester Latter-day Saints, that points to some more substantial involvement (presumably past) with the Church. This is the same sort of thing that is on constant display on certain ex-Mormon message boards. It’s dreary and pathetic there, too.

  25. Apologies for not replying sooner, the cares and worries of this world have kept me rather busy today.

    Though not usually succeptablle to flattery, Dan P’s post made me smile. I am indeed guilty of knowing a great deal about Mormonism, but my guilt extends to many more subjects besides; in fact, I doubt there is anything I don’t know. I understand there is a feeling among Mormons that ex-Mormons have an unpleasant habit of pestering them, which may be the case, and really isn’t that surprising—aren’t these ex-Mormons merely practicing the same persistence they were taught to use when on their “mission”?—but as I’ve said before, I find this phenomenon isn’t restricted to Mormonism. Trawl around the web for a few minutes and you’ll find all sorts of sites run by ex-Catholics for Christ, ex-Baptists for the Pope, ex-Mohammedans for atheism—in fact, sites by ex-everything,except perhaps ex-Jews, but most of them are functionally no longer Jews already. A word of friendly advice from someone who admires your use of language: it’s usually not worth one’s time to speculate on the background or motives of people who post on the internet. It’s far more profitable to consider what’s being said on its own merits rather than worry about who’s saying it.

    Turning to our host: Jeff politely objects to my characterisation of his argument. Objection overruled. My responses:

    1. As, anonymous-1 pointed out, use of the metaphor “infancy” here is relative. There are reasons that more is known about the archaeology of Palestine (to use the extreme example Jeff offers): civilisations there has been more advanced , have existed longer, and have contributed more to the world than in Mesoamerica. Other peoples and tribes have vanished, some no doubt without a trace: that is the case not only in Mesoamerica, everywhere else intheworld as well (including Europe).
    But the word “infancy” is a loaded term: it implies that there is a lot more to come. Barring the discovery of some Guatemalan Qumran, the fact is there may not be much left to discover. The hope among Mormons, it appears, is that should new findings come to light, among them will be stunning corroborations of what most rational people view as an idiosyncratic work of historical fiction. Jeff’s use of the word ‘paradigm’ is instructive; though we may curse Kuhn for turning a perfectly good linguistic term into a cliché, the fact is Mormons will be tripping over themselves to seize upon anything dug up in the jungle and force it into their preconceived construct of a time that never was.

    2-3. Jeff did not say “that a miracle was needed to say that wars occurred ini the ancient Americas”, but he did imply it was miraculous that the BoM should tell of such things. But was it? What society has ever existed that has not frequently engaged in war (excepting those have been unable because they were held subject by a stronger power)? A peaceful society: that would be miraculous—but it would also make for a poor story, and even the prolix J Smith would have had trouble spinning a yarn about one. (The “peaceful Mayan” hypothesis, which I’m sure you will admit postdated Smith, gained notice precisely because it was so unnatural.)

    That Smith wrote about “temples, gardens, chief markets, highways, various officers, and other elements of advanced civilization” is not at all surprising: that they existed in America was not only common knowledge in the 19th century but had been part of folklore since the time of the conquistadors. And of course they existed in Europe, Asia and Africa for ages. Burroughs used his imagination in a similar way on Mars; Haggard, in Africa.

    4. The assumption here seems to be that unless Smith had supernatural revelation, he would have assumed all Indians were like the ones in NY and refrained allowing his imagination to suggest anything further. Why? Apart from the fact that the Aztecs and Incas were well known from historic times, Smith would have had a poor imagination indeed (and we know that he did not!) if he had been unable to dream up a few temples and gardens.

    The history of the rest of the Americas was of keen interest in the US in Smith’s day. Even those of no education could not have been unaware that there had once been (comparatively speaking) moderately advanced civilisations to the south. No one has ever claimed WH Prescott’s works were received to so much acclaim for their novelty: quite the contrary, theywere met with such enthusiasm because they addressed a subject that already fascinated ordinary Americans.

    Ltbugaf’s ejaculation puzzles me. Does he really think that ordinary Americans were unaware of the civilisations that had greeted the Spaniards? Smith would not have had to understand Italian to know about them—though with his seer stone, that would hardly have presented a problem—because such knowledge was common currency. Are Mormons actually unaware of this?

    Or perhaps is he suggesting that Joe Smith was unique in that, unlike any other freeman, he was completely unfamiliar with such basic andcommon knowledge? We hear a similar plea from Mohammedans when they insist that their prophet was so unlettered that he couldn’t possibly have made up the Koran. It’s unconvincing there too (and, unless God is really messing with our minds, then at least one of those men couldn’t have been as stupid as his adherents claim). But we know more about Smith’s times than Mohammed’s, and we know what Americans knew in the 1800s.

    It occurs to me that it would require less energy (and save considerable face) if Mormons would begin to describe the BoM not as a literal history of divine origin, but rather an imperfect attempt by humankind to reach God, or vice versa, full of speculation and historical errors—something along the lines modern liberal Christians might describe the old Testament. Is there any movement along these lines?

  26. The “poet” sounds like Natalie Collins to me. The snarky factor is similar. Not saying it is her, just sounds like her.

  27. To lighten the mood, and with apologies to Radicalfeministpoet and Douglas Adams:

    Vogon poetry is of course, the third worst in the universe. The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria. During a recitation by their poet master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem “Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning” four of his audience died of internal haemorrhaging and the president of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his own legs off. Grunthos was reported to have been “disappointed” by the poem’s reception, and was about to embark on a reading of his 12-book epic entitled “My Favourite Bathtime Gurgles” when his own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save humanity, leapt straight up through his neck and throttled his brain. The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator, Radicalfeministpoet, in the destruction of the planet Earth. Vogon poetry is mild by comparison.

  28. And of course, the point must be made that whatever Joseph Smith’s knowledge or education (which is shown to be of a low level in a more concrete manner than the claims of Muhammad’s illiteracy in my opinion), he still got it amazingly right, from the geography (internally consistent and matchable to the real world), weather, and the timing of cultures in Mesoamerica. The 450 AD treaty which gave the Lamanites dominion over the entire land southward matches exactly to the rise of the Maya in the region. Sure was stupid of JS to date the BoM I guess.

    “in fact, I doubt there is anything I don’t know”

    How wonderful for you. I would, however, mention that the BoM never mentions people riding horses, which you claimed in an earlier post. So there is one thing you didn’t know (I suspect there are more.)

    And of course, the precedent of naming new animals after animals one is familiar with is common in history. For example, calling the manatee a sea cow or a hippo a river horse (I would argue that the tapirs of Central America look more like horses than hippos do.)

    I love how RFP claims the Europeans are so much smarter than us because they have history all around them yet she studied in the United States. Obviously, since we are a bunch of ninnies, our schools must be full of them as well. The brilliant Europeans are too smart to be swayed by silly spiritualism. No, they have simply been swayed (and invented) fascism, socialism, communism, while we poor stupid Americans have to suffer through living in the greatest and freest country in the world. Poor us.

    And on a personal note, my brother is serving with the Marines in Iraq and sent back some pictures of the poor oppressed Iraqis smiling ear to ear with my brother and his friends. Yes they are obviously upset that we are making their country a safe democracy where they will be able to live their life how they want.