Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Looking Through a Keyhole – Part III

Continuing from the last two posts about looking through a keyhole at a particular spot for placement of the Land of Promise, such as citing the ruins in Central America and saying this must be the Nephite lands, etc., rather than starting with the scriptures and following through with what they tell us about this Land of Promise. 
    When we look beyond the keyhole and see the much larger picture, we are in a better position to identify the Land of Promise as described by Nephi, Mormon and Moroni (Ether), as well as the others who lived upon it and wrote about it.
    As an example, in addition to those several steps outlined in the previous post, there is the changeable things you can look for that match the scriptural record, such as areas where significant mountains in both the Land Southward and the Land Northward rose to levels “whose height is great.”
    And for such things as signs of an ancient people that accomplished great things, built great cities, and worked with their hands, which Nephi tells us he caused his people to do.
By this time, if you have really done your homework, been open-minded, followed exactly the wordage of the scriptural record without reading into it other than it means, you likely will be in the right area. Then, and only then, will you have a chance at finding certain described places, like the City of Nephi, the City of Zarahemla, the hill Cumorah, etc.
    Perhaps the best thing, though, is to consider all the points the scriptural record has given us to locate the Land of Promise. It is not that you can fine one, two, or even ten of these individual placers or things and say, “This is the place.” For the Land of Promise, you must find all of these.
1) Mountains, “whose height is great” [Helaman 14:23]
    There are mountains in most areas, though those in the eastern United States are so low in height, they hardly qualify for “whose height is great.” So in looking for matches, one should look to the meaning behind Samuel’s comment, i.e., to the Nephites, at the time of the crucifixion and the rising of these mountains, their height would be abnormal for the area and obviously noticeable to the Nephites in seeing the fulfillment of this prophecy.
2) Two unknown animals [Ether 9:19]
    In this case, Joseph Smith, growing up on a farm, and knowing the names of almost all animals that would have been known in that time and location, could not place the animals the vision gave him and, therefore, had to rely on the name that was on the plates—cureloms and cumoms. Consequently, any animals chosen as these two would have to be those unknown to Joseph Smith, yet still fill the requirement of being more useful than horses and asses, and on a par in usefulness as the elephant at the time of the Jaredites.
3) Two unknown grains [Mosiah 9:9]
    Same as the animals. Joseph Smith was a farmer and knew the basic grains of his day. These two were unknown to him, yet were as valuable as corn, wheat and barley, thus we would look for grains of such value then and now.
4) Land of promise as an island [2 Nephi 10:20]
    At the time the Nephites landed and for at least the next six hundred years, the Land of Promise was an island in the midst of the sea over which Lehi traveled. If it is not an island today, then we look to the destruction and changes wrought about in 3 Nephi, and compare that with geologic history.
5) The four seas surrounding the Land of Promise [Helaman 3:8]
    Because four seas existed as late as 46 B.C., it would appear that the change occurred around the time of Christ, making the destruction described in 3 Nephi the realistic changing period from an island to a larger land mass.
6) Plants that cure fever [Alma 46:40]
    We call this deadly fever “malaria” today, and there is only one natural cure for malaria and that plant is found in only one place (prior to the 18th century when it was transplanted) in the entire world.
7) the Climate where Lehi’s seeds grew that he brought to the Land of Promise [1 Nephi 18:24]
    Jerusalem is a Mediterranean Climate. There are only five such climates in the world, and only two in the Western Hemisphere. Therefore, one of these two areas has to be the Land of Promise.
8) Roads and Highways [3 Nephi 6:8]
    There are only two places in the Western Hemisphere where ancient roads dating to the period of the Nephites and went “from place to place and land to land” as described; only one of these places also has the Mediterranean Climate (and other matches mentioned above)
9) Driven before the wind to the promised land [1 Nephi 18:8-9]
    Upon leaving the southern Arabian Peninsula, winds and currents only blew in one direction out to sea—take that course and you find where Nephi’s ship was driven and would have landed
10) Lehi’s Course to the Land of Promise [1 Nephi 18:8-9]
    The winds and currents are steady and constant and have always blown in the same directions. Follow those winds and currents and you arrive at the Land of Promise as Nephi did
11) Both Gold and Silver and Copper [1 Nephi 18:25]
    Wherever you place the Land of Promise, there must be the ores mentioned; gold, silver and copper are three of the main ones—the eastern U.S. does not have gold to speak of and none ever recorded in single units with silver and copper like described
12) Hagoth’s ships went northward [Alma 63:4,6]
    Winds and currents need to take sailing ships northward from the narrow neck area; also there needs to be evidence of another similarly developed culture to the north of the Land of Promise
13) Forts, fortifications and resorts [Alma 48:5,8; 49:13,18; 52:6]
    Nephi taught his people to build (2 Nephi 5:15); Nephi knew of the stone work of Jerusalem, and built a temple like Solomon’s (2 Nephi 5:16), consequently one should find buildings of stone like those of Jerusalem and such are only found in two places in the Western Hemisphere. The forts of wood talked about in the eastern U.S. simply does not match the Nephite capabilities, nor that of the Jews in 600 B.C. to which Nephi, Sam and Zoram would have been familiar. 
(See the next post, Looking Through a Keyhole – Part IV,” for the continuation of these first items to look for in the Land of Promise to verify any model or location)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Looking Through a Keyhole – Part II

Continuing from the last post about looking through a keyhole at a particular spot for placement of the Land of Promise, such as citing the ruins in Central America and saying this must be the Nephitee lands, then trying to find other matches. Instead, we need to approach the scriptural record with a much broader view. Once again, the point is, and always will be, when one starts looking for one specific issue, it may be found or at least identified with one specific area. But where do you go from there? Do you just say, then this must be the Land of Promise. Or do you look further and if something fits, add to your claim, but if it does not fit—like the north-south arrangement of Mormon’s Land of Promise and east-west Mesoamerica? You are left with two choices: 1) Discard your first belief, or 2) Change, fudge, reinterpret, etc., the scriptural record so it does fit. 
    Actually, what you should do is quite simple, and we have mentioned it in these posts before. You go to the scriptural record and follow verbatim exactly what Nephi and Mormon say, and you first start with Nephi:
1. He built a sailing ship (1 Nephi 17:8);
2. It was driven forward by the wind (1 Nephi 18:8);
3. Winds blow currents and they work in tandem, therefore, follow the currents from where he set forth and they will take you to where he would have landed.
    It really is as simple as that, though not very adventuresome—in fact, it is usually difficult work, time consuming, and not always rewarding.
    If you are one of those many people who believe the Land of Promise is in a particular spot, like mentioned in the previous post, then you are approaching the Book of Mormon geography backward. Nephi tells you basically where he landed, Jacob describes that landing area in general terms, Helaman verifies that information. Thus, following those winds and currents can lead you only to one basic area.
    Then, you can verify that one specific area by looking at what Nephi tells you he found exactly where he landed—not some distance away, not where he later founded the City of Nephi (and Land of Nephi), but where he landed. And that info is clearly set forth at the end of Chapter 18:23-25):
1. A climate (which would include temperature, soil, precipitation, etc.), where "seeds from Jerusalem" would grow exceedingly and provide an abundant crop” (1 Nephi 18:24). Now Jerusalem is a Mediterranean Climate as any climate index, chart or map will show you. So where, along that path that the winds and currents would have taken his ship "driven forth before the wind" would you find a Mediterranean climate where his seeds would grow (in 600 B.C. seeds did not grow just anywhere--even today, seeds have a growth area, climate requirement, etc.);
2. A forest (which included all types of animals(1 Nephi 18:25); however, the animals are movable and are only secondary to this). A forest within walking distance of the landing site where they landed and pitched their tents.
3. A location where gold, silver and copper (1 Nephi 18:25) are so plentiful that Nephi remarked about finding it where he landed (within walking distance, such as a distance you would walk in a hunting or exploring journey around your base of operations—the tents you pitched and where you have your base camp). We are not talking about this ore being deep in the ground, or not visible sufficiently that it would not immediately be seen as you walked around. In addition, these ores are mentioned in a single occurrence, so the gold, silver and copper needs to be in single ore (one rock formation—not found just anywhere, but not that rare, either)
4. A location where both domesticated type animals (though running wild at the time) as well as wild beasts (carnivores), would have been found (1 Nephi 18:25). What is found today is immaterial, since animal habitats can change with seasons and over centuries.
    So now you have these three types of things to look for in the area where Nephi’s ship would have sailed.
1) A location where winds and currents would have taken a sailing ship "driven forth before the wind" which means fixed sails—not tacking and maneuvering all over the place—much like everyone sailed before the later Age of Sail before mariners learned to use more than winds and currents to reach destinations;
2) Climate (Mediterranean);
3) Permanent location items (ore, forest, etc.)
    As for me, after more than 30 years of doing this, reading thousands of books (long before the internet), journals of travelers, ancient histories, etc., etc., etc., as well as naval journals, wind and current studies, reading about the men who discovered these winds and currents etc., etc., etc., and studying plants, seeds, climate, etc., etc., etc., only one place stood out, no matter how closely I looked elsewhere—only one!
    This was a single location in all the Western Hemisphere that matches what Nephi describes. And once you have arrived at this point, the next step is to find a place where Nephi would have moved to in order to escape his brother's, and the sons of Ishmael's death threats, that was far enough away so no immediate discovery would be likely, where a defensive city and civilization could be built, and where all the things described in the scriptural record could be found—including gold, silver, copper, other precious metals, including iron, and wood for serious construction efforts (like Solomon's Temple comparison), where buildings of every kind were built north of there (Jaredites), where at least two cities, and likely several more, had been built by Nephi and his descendants over the next 350 years before Mosiah left that area, etc.
Then you look within that area for:
1. Signs of an ancient civilization that more or less begins with the type of construction and technology of 600 B.C. Jerusalem that Nephi, Sam and Zoram would have known;
2. For stone construction where masons cut and dressed stones somewhat like Israel’s building of Jerusalem;
3. For ancient signs of advanced metallurgy, with masons capable of making both decorative and construction type metal products, including weapons;
4. For ancient signs of advanced textiles, such as fine-twined linen, silk, etc.
5. For roads and highways that went from place to place and connected the ancient kingdom where the Nephites are thought to have occupied;
6. For similarities in Egyptian (Lehi) and Mesopotamia (Jaredite and Lehi) cultures;
    After this, you can start looking for perishable but solid evidence of items that at least existed in the Nephite era (including Jaredites), such as:
1. Two interesting animals that would have been unknown in the U.S. in 1830s, but more valuable to man than horses and asses, and on a par with elephants, that are indigenous to the area;
2. Two valuable grains that would not have been known to Joseph Smith, a farmer, in 1830 U.S., but nutritious on a par with wheat and barley;
3. You look for an herb or plant that is a cure for killing fevers, like malaria, and keep people from dying from it (Alma 46:40);
(See the next post and final post in this series, “Looking Through a Keyhole – Part III,” to follow the final steps in location the Land of Promise)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Looking Through a Keyhole – Part I

In a recent Saturday session of General Conference, Dallin H. Oaks spoke on having a “Keyhole View” of the gospel. His point of looking through a keyhole seems quite appropriate to the events surrounding many theorists’ views of the geography of the Book of Mormon and their placement of the location of the Land of Promise. 
   In the more than fifty years I have been involved with the Book of Mormon and the more than thirty years I have been researching the geographical setting of the Jaredite and Nephite nations, and reading all that has been written about this by various individuals and groups, I have found that nearly every person with an opinion on this subject falls prey to Elder Oaks’ example of looking through a keyhole.
When looking through a keyhole, all that can be seen is that very limited view that the keyhole opening allows
The problem arises in thinking the keyhole view is everything on the subject. However, the keyhole view may show what appears to be a very tranquil scene.
The size and shape of the keyhole determines your field of view beyond it
    Again the problem arises when one thinks that what one is seeing is the entire picture, and is unaware that the actual view can be much larger, and provide a total different image than what the limited view through the keyhole provides.
    But what if there is more beyond what can be seen that is important to the scene being viewed.
    As an example, through the keyhole (the singular view) a person can become quite convinced one thing is the case; however, when seeing beyond that (more than the keyhole allows), the view might be very different and change the entire meaning of the first (limited) view.
In reality, the view through the keyhole may show a very inaccurate view of what may be the Big Picture, as these two shots suggest 
    This can be seen in such views as certain approaches show. Take, as an example, those in the early days of the Book of Mormon who heard about the ruins in Central America and immediately decided those were ruins of the Nephites and centered their attention in that area, believing that was the site of the Land of Promise.
    Or take those who decided that the hill Cumorah in upstate western New York was the same as the hill Cumorah mentioned in the scriptural record, and centered their belief and drew up their model that the Great Lakes area was the site of the Nephite nation.
    In both of these instances, the “keyhole view” centered on what could be seen in 1) Mesoamerica, and nothing beyond that area; or 2) on the Hill Cumorah in New York and its surrounding area, with anything beyond that view being ignored.
    In these cases, the architect of the theory builds an entire model of the Land of Promise based on a single idea, looking then for anything that would match that idea and, unfortunately, ignoring anything that did not fit into that pre-conceived idea or model.
    As a result, such people (the theorist) finds themselves having to squeeze something into the model that does not fit, usually by fudging with the scriptural record so it looks like it fits. A good example of this is John L. Sorenson’s model of Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise. In order to make Mesoamerica fit, Sorenson had to change the meaning of “north,” “east,” “south,” and “west,” in the scriptural record to what he called “Nephite North.”
Blue Arrow: Land Northward; Green Arrow: Land Southward; Red Arrow East Sea; Yellow Arrow: West Sea; White Line: Narrow Neck of Land 
    This change of directions allowed him to take Mormon's very clear compass directions stated in the scriptural record and alter them to a different meaning that was clearly stated in the scriptural record. Thus, “north” became “west,” and “south” became “east,” resulting in the north-lying Gulf of Mexico becoming the “Sea East,” and the south-lying Pacific Ocean becoming the “Sea West,” and the narrow neck of land being to the west of the Land of Bountiful, and the Land of Desolation being to the west of the narrow neck of land, instead of to the north as Mormon so clearly states it. To support this, he creates his "Nephite North" with a very distinct "clouding the issue" explanation of how the ancient Israelites knew "east" and their cardinal directions.
Joseph Allen’s map of the Land of Promise: Brown Arrow: Land Northward; Green Arrow: Hill Cumorah; Blue Arrow: Land of Many Waters; Red Arrow: Bountiful 
    Or, other theorists like Joseph L. Allen, who positions Bountiful far north in the Yucatan Peninsula, which is about 600 miles away from the Land Northward, the hill Cumorah and his narrow neck of land, as well as placing the Land of Many Waters about 300 miles to the east of the hill Cumorah, though Mormon places this hill within the many waters area, and Bountiful along the border of the Land Northward and Land of Desolation. In addition, others create two Bountifuls in order to squeeze the scriptural record statements into their models.
    Like Phyllis Carol Olive and her “keyhole view” of the hill Cumorah in New York (see the previous 10-part Series: “What is in a Description”); or Rod Meldrum’s “keyhole view” that places the Land of Promise in the heartland of the United States.
Meldrum’s heartland model showing the (Red Arrow) Land of Zarahemla to the west of the (White Arrow) Land of Bountiful, and the (Yellow Arrow) Land of Nephi south of Bountiful, not Zarahemla, all completely out of the alignment in which Mormon describes the land he lived upon, walked upon, and fought across all his life 
    There are several other “keyhole view” approaches that have been written about and persevere despite their not matching the scriptural record in most of the matching descriptions Mormon left us or Nephi wrote about. As an example:
1. Trying to identify the Narrow Neck of Land since it was the most notable feature of the Land of Promise, therefore, looking for a place with a narrow isthmus or neck;
2. Belief in Moroni’s comment about “this continent,” limiting the Land of Promise to North America;
3. Parochial view of the United States, eliminating other areas, such as Canada, Latin America, etc.
4. Belief in U.S. Mound Builders mounds being built by the Nephites;
5. Belief that the Land of Promise of the Western Hemisphere was limited to the land promised in the Book of Mormon;
6. Trying to match Book of Mormon geography to existing geography;
7. Belief that any one scripture (such as Helaman 3:8) is the only determining factor;
8. Looking for identifiable sites of cities and events, such as locating the Waters of Mormon;
9. Looking for a people in the Western Hemisphere with a written history;
10. Looking for a location of the final Lamanite-Nephite battle area, with buried bones, weapons, etc.;
11. Looking for a Peninsular area, such as Malay or Baja California, since the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water;
12. Articles in the Times & Seasons suggesting where Lehi landed, written by Joseph Smith or other early-day leaders;
13. Prophetic comments about America being the Land of Promise, and centering within the United States.
   The point is, and always will be, when one starts looking for one specific issue, it may be found or at least identified with one specific area. But where do you go from there? Do you just say, well this must be the Land of Promise. Or do you look further and if something fits, add to your claim, but if it does not fit—like the north-south arrangement of Mormon’s Land of Promise and east-west Mesoamerica? You are left with two choices: 1) Discard your first belief, or 2) Change, fudge, reinterpret, etc., the scriptural record so it does fit.
(See the next post, “Looking Through a Keyhole – Part II,” to see what others have done and what one should do)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

South America: Part Once Under Water – Part II

Continuing from the previous post on explaining how South America was once partially under water. To best understand this, it is important to realize that the Earth is a dynamic, constantly changing planet, with moving parts forever in motion. As an example, the wind and pressure systems of the Pacific conform closely to the planetary system—the patterns of air pressure and the consequent wind patterns that develop in the atmosphere of the Earth as a result of its rotation (Coriolis force) and the inclination of its axis (ecliptic) toward the Sun. They are, in essence, a three-celled latitudinal arrangement of the atmospheric circulation, with the systems in the Northern and Southern hemispheres mirroring each other on opposite sides of the Equator.
The vast extent of open water in the Pacific influences wind and pressure patterns over it, and climatic conditions in the southern and eastern Pacific—where the steadiness of the trade winds and the westerlies is remarkable—are the most uniform on the globe. In the North Pacific, however, conditions are not so uniform, particularly the considerable climatic differences between the eastern and western regions in the same latitude. The rigor of the winters off the east coast of Russia, for instance, contrasts sharply with the relative mildness of winters in the region of British Columbia.  
    The trade winds of the Pacific represent the eastern and equatorial parts of the air circulation system; they originate in the subtropical high-pressure zones that are most pronounced over the northeast and southeast Pacific between latitudes 30° and 40° N and S, respectively. The obliquity of the ecliptic (an angle of 23.44° that is the difference between the planes of the Earth’s rotation on its axis and its revolution around the Sun) limits the seasonal shifting of the Pacific trade-wind belts to about 5° of latitude. The easterly winds between the two subtropical zones form the intertropical airflow and tend to be strongest in the eastern Pacific. The equatorial region, where the trade winds of the Northern and Southern hemispheres converge, is an area of calms or light variable breezes and is known as the doldrums.
    All of this is constant and has been going on for millennia in the same manner and under the same circumstances. The winds obviously move the oceans and create currents that are constant and never-ending, moving in the same direction over the history of the Earth.
    At the same time, continents move in their slow process as the tectonic plates move into (subduction) and around (slippage) one another. Islands, of course, are continental in nature—geologically, they consists partly of sedimentary rocks and their structures are similar to those of the coastal mountain ranges of the adjacent continent. All the islands, mountain ranges, and other features are the result of plate tectonics—the movement of continental plates. The western Pacific arcs of volcanic islands and deep trenches are convergent zones where two plates are colliding, one being subducted (forced under the other), with the East Pacific Rise an active spreading center where new crust is being created. The northeastern Pacific margin is the strike-slip zone where the American Plate and the Pacific Plate are gliding laterally past each other via the major San Andreas Fault system
As the (Blue) Nazca Oceanic Plate subducts, is forced beneath the (Red) Continental South American Plate, the entire plate is (White Arrow) lifted upward and at the convergence, the earth folds and buckles, causing (Red Arrow) Mountains to form and rise
    In the southeastern Pacific the Nazca Plate and the South American Plate are colliding to form the Andes Mountains along western South America and, a short distance offshore, the Peru-Chile Trench. The floor of the northeastern Pacific is remarkable for its several major fracture zones, which extend east and west and which, in some instances, are identifiable over distances of thousands of miles.
    With this in mind, then, we turn to South America, a very large continent, though very different from almost all the others. As an example, South America west of the Andes slopes gently toward the Pacific Ocean, honeycombed by criss-crossing mountain ranges creating numerous valleys; however, to the east of the Andes, the continent is relative flat with almost all of the Amazon Basin—an area 2.67 million square miles and about the size of the 48 contiguous United States—is barely above sea level as it slopes toward the Atlantic Ocean 4,000 miles to the east. Some 15,000 tributary rivers flow through this largest river basin in the world, and into the Amazon River. The entire Basin is contained by two large stable masses of ancient rock, the Guiana Shield or Highlands to the north and the Central Brazilian Shield or Plateau to the south, with the Andes Mountains to the west.
    The movement of water from the Andes to the Atlantic is about eight trillion gallons a day, 60 times that of the Nile and eleven times that of the Mississippi, with an average discharge of 6,350,000 cubic feet per second, which rises to more than 7,000,000 during a flood. All of this empties into the Atlantic through a mouth that is 250 miles wide.
Top: The Amazon River. Yellow Arrow points to the Andes Mountains in the far distance and out of sight; White Arrow points to the direction of flow of the Amazon. Note the extreme flatness of the entire Basin area; Bottom: Mouth of the Amazon River on a NASA satellite photo showing it 250 miles wide
While the Amazon River is 150 feet deep, it increases to 300 feet at the mouth, and its width varies from one mile to 35 miles along its course; however, during flood time, which is more than half of the year, the flood waters render nearly the entire Basin under water.
Anciently, this continent sat mostly beneath the surface, with the area in the west, called the Proto-Andean rift, a comparatively flat lowland of hills and an occasional mountain visible above the surface, and in the east two large mountainous plateau areas—Guayana Shield to the northeast, and the Brazilian Shield to the central and southeast. In between were the Pebesian Sea to the north and the Paranense Sea to the south with the Amazon Through Seaway to the east that flowed past and between the Guayana and Brazilian Shields.
    During this time the Nazca Plate collided with the South American Plate, creating a rise all along the proto-Andean rift, and uplifting the Andes Mountains. As these mountains lifted, the land to the east making up the two seabeds, rose with them, bringing them up to sea level or a little above. Waters trapped within the spaces of the uplifting mountains rose to several thousands of feet, creating the Lauricocha (Lawriqucha) and Titicaca lakes, along with several other small water areas, and forming numerous rivers, such as the Marañòn and Apurímac, that flowed eastward into the newly formed Amazon Basin.
    Thus, when oceanic and continental plates come together, geologists claim the continental crust buckles. On the surface, the buckling manifests itself as a rising mountain range, but beneath the crust, the buckling creates a heavy, high-density "root" that holds the crust down like an anchor as tectonic convection of the fluid mantle deep in the Earth erodes this heavy root, allowing mountains to rise as the crust shortens and thickens.
    Of course, while this usually takes time to occur, Samuel the Lamanite saw it happen immediately, so when the Lord is involved, the root heats up quickly and oozes downward, breaking free and sinking into the hot fluid mantle, causing the mountains above, suddenly free of the weight of the blob, to rush upward and, in the case of the Andes, suddenly lift from the valley floor upward to a “height which is great” (Helaman 14:23).
    In fact, Samuel said, “many shall see greater things than these, to the intent that they might believe that these signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men” (Helaman 14:28).
    Obviously, this was done in a unique manner by the Lord, as a sign of his involvement and the fulfillment of Samuel’s prophesy, that the ancient Nephites as well as we today can see the hand of the Lord in all things.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

South America: Part Once Under Water - Part I

We receive numerous inquiries from time to time regarding our publishing articles about South America once being partially submerged. Many people, looking at the gigantic continent today, have a hard time buying into this concept. The problem is, much depends on three things:
1. Realizing that geological dating of the Earth keeps many from knowing how young the Earth is;
2. Realizing the Earth underwent a considerable change from being mostly land with the seas in the north country to being divided and the waters that covered the mountain tops receding across the lands and into subterranean caverns, rivers, and oceans played havoc with various land masses and their tectonic plates;
3. Contrary to popular belief, these forces happened at times in a sudden and catastrophic manner, not over the extended periods we see today.
    As an example, most people are not aware of the fact that at one time, much of Utah, almost all of Nevada, part of Oregon and a sliver of Idaho and California, which now make up the Great Basin (actually many small basins)—an area of about 184,427 square miles—was once under water.
Top: The Great Basin runs between the Columbia Plateau to the north, Rocky Mountains to the east, Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west, and the Colorado Plateau to the south, forming a huge, rather flat basin and the largest contiguous closed drainage basin (endorheic) watershed in North America; Bottom: Part of the Basin valley that was once a deep ocean or inland sea
    The basin’s lowest point is Death Valley at 282 feet below sea level, with the Bonneville Salt Flats showing evidence of the once huge lake that covered the area to the west. Whole ancient mountain ranges were uplifted by earth movements until, at one point, holes were forced through the mountains and the water punched through on its way to the newly formed seas to the west and south, leaving much of the once magnificent inland sea a sagebrush and shadescale desert today. It should be noted that there are no rivers or outlets to either the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Ocean from this basin today, and most of the water this area once held, contrary to popular and long-held beliefs, evaporates, seeps into the underground aquifer, or flows into lakes.
    In a different manner, but none-the-less spectacular and similarly as known to geologists, at one time most of South America, what is now east of the Andes mountains, was once submerged. Today, the entire continent is divided into several intra-continental basins and is quite flat in most areas, not only in the Amazon Drainage Basin, an area nearly three million square miles, but in numerous other areas as well. The Ancient Amazon Sea, along with the Amazon Arm (a flow-thru of sea water from the Atlantic between the Guiana and Brazil highlands or shields, was a natural channel to the sea as it is today to the Atlantic Ocean. While the Amazon is the largest drainage basin in the world, it is not the only one in South America.
1) Amazon Basin; 2) Parana Basin; 3) Orinoco Basin; 4) Xingu Basin; 5) Tocantins/ Araguaia Basin; 6) Rio de Plate Basin; 7) Magdalena Basin;8) Essequibo Basin; 9) Patagonia (several basins)
    The Rio de la Plata drainage basin is 1.6 million square miles; the Parana River Basin is 997,000 square miles; the Orinoco Basin is 340,000 square miles, the Tocantins/Araguaia Basin is 314,000 square miles; the Rio de Plate Basin is 1.6 million square miles; the Xingu River Basin is 200,000 square miles; the Magdalena Basin is 105,405 square miles; and the Essequibo Basin is about 90,000 square miles—these seven basins, all independent of one another, total about 4,641,200 square miles, which would make that total area the second largest country in the world, behind only Russia.
    Such an area of all these drainage basins (except Patagonia), are basically flat, all around sea level, could, with a slight change in either sea level or a low rising of the continental plate, bring the area either above or below sea level. While such an idea might be a great surprise to most people, the fact derived by numerous scientists from the sediments, rocks, fossils and other matter found in these areas shows that such has happened on more than one occasion in the past.
    In addition, the Falkland plateau extends the South American continental shelf eastward occupying the north-central part of the plateau, which forms a 750-mile long continental promontory of South America. Should the Nazca plate, which is moving east along the west coastal area, continue to subduct under and lift the South American Plate, the entire Falkland plateau could rise up above sea level, creating a very different outline of southeastern South America (map green area below). It is also interesting that geologists claim the Falkland Plateau is mobile along with the southernmost South America.
Yellow: Current western coast of South America; Light Blue: Continental Shelf; Dark Blue: Ocean; Green: South America, including extended Shelf of East coast and the Falkland Plateau
    Three connected basins surround the southern Falklands: 1) the Falkland Plateau Basin lies to the east; 2) the South Falkland Basin lies to the south; and 3) the Malvinas Basin lies to the west. The latter basin lies beneath 492 feet to 820 feet of water to the west of the Falkland Islands. The basin extends westwards to the Rio Chico High in Argentine waters, and then further westwards to the onshore area of Tierra del Fuego and southern Argentina, where it is termed the Austral or Magellan’s Basin.
    The origin of the southeast margin of the Falkland Islands as a volcanic rifted continental margin, and of the floor of the major part of the Falkland Plateau Basin as elevated oceanic crust is not far below the surface. In fact, the distance between the eastern coast and the Falkland Islands is only about 13,000 feet, the same distance below sea level, by the way, than where Darwin found ocean sea shells in the Andes at 13,000 feet above sea level, showing that high surface was once under water.
    It should also be noted that the independent westward and clockwise rotation of the Falkland Islands block, suggests that southernmost South America was also a collection of microplates moving independently within a generally extensional environment—which is incompatible with assumptions of a rigid southernmost South America over this time, and a dominant role for a continuous dextral strike-slip Gastre Fault—an extension of the Lanalhue Fault located in south-central Chile on an imaginary line between Santiago and the Falkland Islands.
    The Falkland Plateau, along the southern boundary of the South American Plate, butts into the Scotia Plate, where rocks were thrust upward during transpression of the plate as it slides around the South American Plate. Should the Scotia Plate press further north and ride onto the South American Plate, the Falkland Plateau could be lifted upward and surface much like the western South American Plate did as the Nazca Plate subducted beneath it along the Andean Fault line some time earlier.
The Scotia Sea lies to the east of the tip of South America, where an enormous amount of subsurface islands are scattered just below the surface along the western half of the sea
    The Scotia Plate is named after the sea, which overlies it, and this region near the Scotia Sea in the southern Atlantic Ocean is a complex area of marginal basins bordered by the South America and Antarctic plates. The boundary motion between these two larger plates is predominately strike-slip, which results in a partitioning of one or both of the Scotia Sea boundaries. A movement northward, into the South American Plate is a likely scenario as these plates continue to slip around and into one another—especially since the Sandwich Plate (to the east of the Scotia Plate) is moving rapidly eastward and that the westward motion of the South American Plate has forced the Scotia Plate at its northern and southern ends respectively to squeeze around it as well as being subducted along its eastern boundary.
The Jason Islands, to the north and west of the Falklands, were anciently above sea level as part of the raised Falkland Plateau, then sunk into the sea, only to rise again in the modern era, now forming a large land area off the Argentine coast.
    All of this merely points out that for those who think South America has always been the way it is now simply do not understand 1) Plate Tectonics and how they reshape the continents, especially in dynamic zones like those around South America, and 2) The fact that Earth has not always been in the appearance it now is.

Friday, May 22, 2015

What is in a Scriptural Description? The Waters of Ripliancum and the Sea That Divides the Land

Olive’s map of her Land of Promise, showing Lake Ontario as her Waters of Ripliancum as the North Sea     
    The word “Repliancum” was evidently a word in the Jaredite language that meant “very large,” or “to exceed all” in size. It also appears from the abridgement of Ether’s writing that Moroni has given us, that the Jaredite language did not use phrases like “Sea East” or “North Sea,” since there is no such wordage in the record.
    Evidently, the Jaredites referred to the noun “sea” by itself, giving a description of location to place it, such as “sea in the wilderness” (Ether 2:7), or by its size, such as “great sea that divideth the lands” (Ether 2:13), when referred to the ocean—which evidently is how Ripliancum was used, i.e., The Great Sea.
    They also used the term “seashore” (Ether 2:13; 9:3; 14:12-13, 26). And they seem to have used the term “sea” as we would use “ocean” (Ether 2:24-25; 3:4; 6:4-6,10), which was pretty common for the time. In addition, they used the term “waters,” as did Lehi, when he called the sea Irreantum, meaning “many waters” (1 Nephi 17:5). In Lehi’s case, he was referring to the ocean itself, which is now called by many names in that area (Sea of Arabia, Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean, Pacific Ocean, etc.), where several different bodies of water are connected into one overall water mass. If the Jaredites had the same meaning, which the term “very large,” or “to exceed all,” would also apply, then we can consider Ripliancum was one body of water connected to numerous others. In this case, Ripliancum would be part of the great ocean of the world, which not only would make it the same term the Nephites applied to it when they called it the Sea North (Helaman 3:8).
    This also seems to be the term used in “waters of the Red Sea” (Helaman 3:11), a body of water that opens into the Sea of Arabia, Indian Ocean, etc.; as in “the great waters” (Ether 6:3), meaning the ocean
This is also the same as in “upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land” (Ether 6:5), or “while they were upon the waters” (Ether 6:8), or “three hundred and forty and four days upon the water” (Ether 6:11). They also used the term “great deep” (Ether 2:25; 7:27; 8:9) and “raging deep” (Ether 3:3), or “buried in the deep” (Ether 6:7), or just “the deep” (Ether 10:2).
    In addition, they used the terms “fish of the waters” (Ether 2:2), meaning any waters for fish are almost everywhere, or “after the waters had receded” (Ether 13:2), referring to the waters that covered the Earth during the Flood. The term also seems to have applied to “an abundance of water” as used in “encompassed about by many waters” (Ether 6:7).
    So when they “came to the waters of Ripliancum,” we might infer this was not only a large body of water, but one connected to other waters, as their North Sea would have been—after all, Jacob made it clear that the Land of Promise was an island in the midst of the sea over which they had sailed in Nephi’s ship (2 Nephi 10:20). This is borne out in Helaman’s statement when describing the Nephite expansion during a time of immigrating to all parts of the land, when he said, “they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east” (Helaman 3:8).
    Consequently, it seems clear that when the term “sea that divides the land” (Ether 10:20) was used to described an obvious separation of the lands, that this sea was part of a larger connection of water such as is seen in the Bay of Guayaquil in Ecuador, which separated the Land Northward from the Land Southward, and was not some small, isolated water, like a small lake as the ancient Lake Tonawanda.
Olive claims that Lake Tonawanda was the “Sea that Divides the Land” as mentioned in Ether; however, as described above, the Jaredites seem to have used “sea” to refer to a large ocean or many connected waters and Tonawanda, Ontario and Erie do not connect with such waters; but were originally established through glaciation and have no connection with oceans or seas
    However, this is not necessarily the meaning of the “sea that divides the land,” for all it means is that the land was divided, it does not state by what type of water source, in what size, shape, or purpose. However, elsewhere we are also told about land divisions. As an example, the Land of Nephi was divided by a narrow strip of wilderness from the Land of Zarahemla, meaning the Nephites and the Lamanties were divided by this narrow strip of wilderness (Alma 22:27; 27:14); we are also told that the land was divided by a narrow neck of land that separated the Land Northward from the Land Southward (Alma 22:32). In the case of the sea division, it also divided the land Northward from the Land Southward where the narrow neck of land was located (Ether 10:20). In all these cases, a separation of land is involved.
    Consequently, if we look at the narrow neck of land, we should find two seas, one on either side (Alma 50:34), which obviously means that an incursion from the sea on either one side or the other or both is the separator, i.e., the sea is what separates the land—the narrow neck merely joins those two lands.
With a Land Northward and a Land Southward and a Narrow Neck of Land in between, the sea on either side becomes the divider, i.e., the “sea that divides the land” as shown in this diagram
    Thus, any infringement of the sea into the land, such as a large bay, would certainly be recognized as a “sea that divides the land,” especially if that division was the same as earlier mentioned in what divided the Land Northward from the land Southward, and was on one or the other or both sides of the narrow neck of land, which formed a passage that provided movement between the two land masses. This, obviously, is why the place was chosen as the point of division for the treaty between the Nephites and Lamanites in the latter years of the war in 350 A.D. (Mormon 2:28). It was a natural dividing point, one which Mormon hoped would give the Nephites some security from Lamanite invasion since it provided a natural defensive position.
    Consequently, this is not a separate sea that divides the land, but a part of the sea that separates two land masses, leaving just a narrow neck and passage between the two lands. As a result, when the Andes Mountains came up, fulfilling Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy of valleys that would become mountains “whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23), the sea on the east was pushed back eastward into what today is called the great Amazon Basin—an area that is mostly just below sea level and is the largest such drainage basin in the world.
The Amazon River Drainage Basin. The darker band on the left is the Amazon (jungle) side of the Andes, and all waters drain eastward into the basin and make their way to the Amazon River. Red Arrow is the narrow neck or passage between Peru and Ecuador caused by the bay on the west and the tall cliff-like Andes on the east
    Thus, we have a portion of the sea that surrounded the "island" Jacob mentioned, the four location seas Helaman mentioned, and a portion of that sea that actually separated or divided the land masses of the Land Northward and the Land Southward. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

What is in a Scriptural Description? The Land Northward

When it comes to the Land Northward Phyllis Carol Olive takes an interesting, but non-supportive view of this in her diagram map. First of all, the one separately published does not show the full extent of her Land Northward. As can be seen from the map below, it would appear that the Land Northward was simply north of her Lake Tonawanda and, though quite narrow, appears to at least be placed in a correct north position from the rest of her map, i.e., the Land Southward, Bountiful, Zarahemla, etc.
Olive identifies the (white arrow) Land Northward in her model
However, the problem arises when we look into her book at a full map of her Land of Promise and see that she has added a very large extension of her Land Northward to the northeast of her other map. In this case, the land extends in a very narrow sliver to the south of her Sea North (Lake Ontario), then curves around the east of the lake and continues north and east.
Yellow area is her Land Northward. The Red Arrows point to her labels of Land “Northward,” and the green arrow points to her extension to the north and east of her Land of Many Waters
    Again, the problem arises when we try to match this to the scriptural record. First of all, her Land of Many Waters is not in her Land Northward, and is to the east of her East Sea, both of which are inaccurate according to Mormon’s descriptions. He, of course, places the Land of Many Waters far to the north in the Land Northward, where the final battle between the Lamanites and Nephites took place (Mormon 6:4). She also places her Land of Many Waters far to the east of her Land Southward, again in violation of Mormon’s very clear description of the Land of Zarahemla being in the south, the Land of Bountiful to the north of that, the narrow neck of land to the north of that, and the Land of Desolation to the north of that in the Land Northward (Alma 22:27-34).
Blue Arrow points to the Land of Many Waters, which is directly east of the Sea East, which is directly east of the Land Southward—none of which agrees with Mormon’s descriptions
    Now we come to the placement of the Sea East, which Olive correctly places in the diagram below to the east of the Land Southward; however, her Sea East ends south of her Land Northward, and does not continue to the east of her Land Northward as Ether so obviously describes when Omer departs out of the land and “traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed (hill Cumorah) and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablolm, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent” (Ether 9:3, emphasis mine).
    Thus, there is an East Sea to the east of the Land of Many Waters (where the Nephites were destroyed) in the Land Northward, but Olive shows no East Sea to the east of either the Land Northward or the Land of Many Waters.
Blue Arrow: the East Sea, and the Orange Arrow: There is no East Sea in her Land Northward
    In addition, there were many Nephite cities built along the eastern seashore (Sea East), beginning with Moroni in the far south, near the Land of Nephi and the Lamanite lands (Alma 50:13), and those cities, as they went northward from Moroni, were Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid, and Mulek (Alma 51:24, 26); however, Olive places them from south to north: Mulek, Moroni, Nephiha, Aaron, Antionan, Morianton, Jershon, Lehi, Omner, Gid, and Bountiful (map below from her book, p 317).
    The important thing, other than these being inaccurately place, she has Mulek in the far south, in fact south of the narrow strip of wilderness, which puts it in the Land Southward (Alma 22:27), whereas Mormon places the city of Mulek along the east sea to the east of the city of Bountiful, in the far north, where Teancum marches to the west of Mulek (Alma 52:22), toward the city of Bountiful (Alma 22:27), but when Moroni’s army attacked from one side, with Teancum;’s army on the other, the Lamanites retreated toward Mulek (22:34). After the battle, with Moroni wounded and Jacob killed (Alma 22:35), Moroni then went to the city of Mulek (Alma 53:2) while the captured Lamanites were set to labor digging ditches around the city of Bountiful (Alma 53:3).
Left: Red Arrow: Land of Bountiful; Green Arrow: Land of Zarahemla; Orange Arrow: Land of Nephi; Blue Arrow: City of Mulek; Brown Arrow: City of Moroni. Note that Moroni is north of Mulek, and Mulek is far south of Bountiful in opposition to Mormon’s descriptions; Right: Red Arrow: City of Bountiful; Green Arrow: City of Lehi; Brown Arrow: City of Moroni; Blue Arrow: City of Mulek
    Thus, quite contrary to Olive’s placement of the Sea East and the cities along it, Mulek is in the extreme south in the Land of Zarahemla and Bountiful is in the extreme north of the Land of Bountiful.
    It seems unnecessary, if not downright fallacious to place cities, lands and seas in such outlandish positions when Mormon has taken the time to place them in relationship to one another for us, inserting the information for his future reader (Alma 22:27-34), and then listing those areas as they related to the events as they unfold in the words of the original writers, so that their information will make sense to us with Mormon’s mental map. What, then, is the purpose of rearranging the lands and cities and seas?
    Obviously, because in Olive’s map, the placements are made for her once she chose to use the area around the Great Lakes as the land of Promise. And just as obviously, her land and map simply do not agree with and follow the descriptions Mormon left us so we could better understand the events in the scriptural record as they unfolded. When Theorists go so far afield in their models and writing, one can only wonder why Mormon went to the trouble of trying to give us a clear picture of the events he describes in the first place.