What does it mean when LDS scholars find circumstantial parallels between the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerica? For example, as John L. Sorenson points out in his book entitled An ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, he says:
Identical in principal to Egyptian writing? Identical in what way? If we compared the Mesoamerican glyphic writing to other scripts besides Egyptian, like Chinese for example, could we find the same similarities?
we have no reason to expect scholars to find traces of Egyptian speech in the New World...But as we have seen , the glyphic writing...in...Mesoamerica is identical in principle to Egyptian writing.
Other circumstantial parallels
Another parallel that most LDS scholars like to bring up is Quetzalcoatl. Most of the parallels between Jesus and Quetzalcoatl are circumstantial as well. I will talk into more detail about my findings of Quetzalcoatl and how I don't think it is the same person as described in the Book of Mormon in a later post.
Another perfect example of circumstantial parallels is the discovery of temples in Mesoamerica. The Book of Mormon speaks of temples, but none of the Mayan or Aztec temples are closely related to what is described in the Book of Mormon. They might find a temple that was destroyed around the birth of Christ, like the one in Chiapa de Corzo, however when you take a closer look, there is no way it could be a Nephite City because the city was first occupied in 1,400 B.C. and the writing script they used in that temple was based on a late Olmec script.
They also say that an Elephant as described in the Book of Mormon could be a Mammoth as found in Mesoamerica. However, the Mammoth became extinct in that region around 10,000 B.C.
They will mention that the Book of Mormon describes secret societies, and there is evidence to support secret societies within the Aztecs called the "nahualistas". I would venture out to say that you could find secret societies in just about ANY society.
New World Order Archaeological Foundation
It got me thinking: The LDS church has spent millions of dollars funded through BYU and the NWAF as well as countless man-hours searching through archaeological digs trying to find any evidence to support the Book of Mormon, but the best they can come up with is a few circumstantial parallels.
What about control groups?
It makes me wonder if the only reason that LDS scholars find parallels from the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerica is because that is the only place they look for them. In other words, to find out just how relevant and meaningful those parallels are, we could have a couple of "control groups". We would take a couple of completely unrelated cultures, say Chinese and Africans for example. We would then send out archaeologists and anthropologists to specifically search and look for ancient literary forms, ancient names, records made on tablets, any Hebrew origins, metal swords and overall ancient cultures of these areas. Their specific goal is to search for anything that could be considered evidence that would support the Book of Mormon.
We would then look at the data after years of research and determine if Mesoamerica has substantially more, less, or an equal number of parallels than the other "control groups" with the Book of Mormon culture. If the other cultures have equal or more parallels between them and the Book of Mormon, it would seriously question just how meaningful the parallels are between the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerica. It would also give us an idea of how many "coincidental" parallels one could expect when trying to place the Book of Mormon with ANY culture.
It is unlikely such a study will ever be done
Such "control" studies have not been performed because obviously such an undertaking would require a lot of money, and most importantly, there is no incentive for anyone to take on such a huge task. The LDS church has a vested interest in Mesoamerica, but would have absolutely no interest in looking at other cultures. Not only that, but the LDS church has been actively looking since the 1950's. It is doubtful that anyone would spend that kind of manpower and money just to prove a point.
Parallels Between Other Cultures and the Book of Mormon
Regardless of the fact that this kind of study will never be done, I can already see more parallels between Chinese and African cultures and the Book of Mormon simply with what we know already.
We know that the Chinese started using cast Iron during the Zhou Dynasty of the 6th century B.C. The Native Americans didn't use metal until 600 A.D. and only gold and silver for artwork. pre-Colombian Native Americans didn't use metal weapons.
The word "Mormon" is used in the ancient Chinese language for various meanings (pronounced mo-man) . There could be other similar names to ancient Chinese words. There aren't any names in the Book of Mormon that are similar at all to any Native American script.
There are some African tribes of Hebrew origin, whereas there is not a single Native American to be found of Middle Eastern decent.
What this demonstrates to me is that one could find parallels between the Book of Mormon and ANY diverse culture. In fact, I see more parallels between Chinese and African cultures than any Native American culture. It just demonstrates to me how readily parallels occur strictly by chance alone.