Friday, October 9, 2015

More Comments from Readers – Part III

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “When I read your series about the tree ring data, I was greatly impressed, and it brought back to mind something I heard during a rather heated college class debate a few years ago, but had since forgotten about it. I think it was called something like cross-disturbances or matching or something like that, which would show longer dates than actual without multiple annual tree ring production. Do you know anything about that?” Vince N.
    Response: Thank you for your comment. As for your question, I imagine you are referring to the existence of Migrating Ring-Disturbing Events, what is sometimes called Natural Disturbance Frequency, or the natural causes of tree ring production disturbance. This can result from such things as insect attack, earthquakes, releases of gas, etc. If such disturbances occur at sufficient frequency, and reappear in sequence in other trees at later times, the actually-contemporaneous trees would cross-match in an age-staggered manner, thus creating an artificially longer chronology.
To illustrate this, let’s take a simplified situation in just three trees: tree A, tree B, and tree C. Let’s say they started growing at exactly the same time, and each lived exactly 500 years. If nothing happened in those five centuries, the tree-ring series would normally cross-match perfectly (with each other) according to climatic signal, with the crosmatch point starting with the first ring of each tree. That is, all the constituents of the three-tree chronology would overlap completely, creating a chronology that spans exactly 500 years.
    On the other hand, let’s say that an external disturbance causes rings 2, 6, 9, 14, etc., in Tree A to grow much bigger or smaller than they otherwise would. At about this time, rings 1, 7, 10, 13, etc. are perturbed in Tree B. 300 years after the disturbance of the growth of the rings in Tree A, the sequence of disturbances repeats in Tree B, affecting rings 302, 306, 309, 314, etc. Now this repetition does not have to be exact, since such discrepancies can be covered by inferred missing rings, which are common in the Bristlecone Pine chronology. So, 400 years after the disturbances in the early rings of Tree B, similar disturbances occur in Tree C, affecting rings 401, 407, 410, 413, etc. (Of course, identical reasoning can be applied to many more trees over a much longer period of time.)
    The net result is the fact that Trees A, B, and C (and whatever others we include) will no longer cross-match across their 500-year common growth history. They will now only cross-match at their ring-perturbed ends. The result is an illusory chronology that is 1200 years long, not the accurate 500 years.
    Such cross-matching experiments have been conducted by scientists that show it is only necessary to disturb two or three rings per decade, sustained across at least a few decades, in order to override the climatic signal, and to cause the tree-ring series to artificially cross-match at the ring-perturbed ends.
This information is often presented by John Woodmorappe (a pseudonym), who has written at least 7 books and more than 18 articles showing fallacies in many current scientific dogmas, and is an outspoken critic of radiometric dating methods (The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods), to which he has drawn much ire from mainstream scientists. His “Young Earth Creationist” views often elicit heated debates with “Old Earth Advocates.”
    Comment #2: “You mention Alma 46:41 about plants and herbs the Lord prepared for the Nephites and cover quinine of the Chinchona tree, but having recently returned from several years in the area, there are many other plants and herbs known throughout Peru and the Andes that are unique in the healing powers, including the plant Ayahuasca” Janie Irena K.
    Response: Indeed there are. We have referred to a few over the numerous articles on the subject, and Ayahuasca, which refers to a medicinal drink incorporating two or more distinctive plant species, produce profound mental and physical (and some say spiritual) effects when brewed together.
Ayahuasca (left), the giant woody liana vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) mixed with the leaves of chacruna (Psychotria viridis) and oco yagé; also known as chalipanga, chagraponga, and huambisa (Diplopterys cabrerana), are known thoughout the Andean area, including Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia and western Brazil. In fact, at least 42 indigenous names are used for this preparation, and at least 72 different indigenous tribes of Amazonia, despite being widely separated by distance, language, and cultural differences, all manifested a detailed common knowledge of ayahuasca and its use. Still, it is only one of many medicinal and useful plants known in the Andes.
    For thousands of years people of the Andes and the Amazon have relied on herbal medicines to treat common ailments like headaches, infections and inflammations. Today, along with modern medicine, people continue utilizing the same plants with these positive health benefits! Many of these medicinal plants are native to the Amazon and the Andes of Peru, such as Uña de gato (Cat’s Claw), contain high levels of alkaloids that activate the immune system, reduce inflammation, protect against tumor growth and carcinogens; Achiote, good for digestion asthma and antimalarial medicine; Sacha Inchi, a nut known for its extra virgin oil, and has incredibly high levels of Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, even more than fish oil; Muña, like an herbal tea that has high levels of calcium and phosphorous and is good for bones and teeth and prevents osteoporosis; and the list goes on and on, with Maca, Coca, Sangre de Grado, etc.
    Comment #3: ”You were right in the last of your articles on “How Far Back Can We Measure Dates? Part XII,” when you wrote “For those who feel we belabored this point far beyond the need over the last several posts, we apologize.” I really got tired of reading the dating stuff over and over again. It was like reading the first half of your first book about winds and currents. Seems you could have condensed all of this considerably” Albert J.
    Response: Thank you for your suggestion. It is always a difficult decision as to how much to write about on a given subject. The problem stems from knowing how much of the opposite view is within the public conscience, i.e., how deeply the error has been engrained in people’s thinking. As an example, it takes the public a long time to accept something—Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859) and his somewhat revolutionary idea of evolution (Jean de Monet Lamarack, Charles Lyell, Robert Chambers, Alfred R. Wallace, etc.) was not completely accepted in all of its tenets until the 1930s and 1940s, and his centerpiece of evolutionary biology and sexual selection received little attention before 1970! It took more than 100 years to overcome what was in the public conscience regarding the “Great Chain of Being,” i.e., 6000 year old Earth and "God created man" beliefs.
    This is probably because once people buy into an idea, they often cannot be moved from it without a great deal of effort. In this sense, when M. Wells Jakeman earned his doctorate in archaeology and history at UC Berkeley in 1938, and placed the Land of Promise in Mesoamerica, it began a series of events at BYU starting in 1946 with the creation of the first archaeology department that led to hundreds of students being taught that the Book of Mormon lands were located in Mesoamerica.
In fact, the first expedition from BYU archaeology (above) was to Aguacatal, Campeche, Mexico, considered then to be the probable Book of Mormon city of Bountiful, (2nd thru 6th expeditions 1948-1961 were also to this location), and culminating in 1984 with John L. Sorenson’s seminal work, “An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon.”
    The point is, since then, anyone (member or critic) talking about the Book of Mormon Land of Promise, home of the Jaredites, Mulekites and Nephites, think Mesoamerica.
    The winds and currents were written about in my first book and numerous subsequent posts in this blog, to try and overcome the fact that in 600 B.C., in a ship “driven forth before the wind,” the only location that could have been reached would be along the Chilean or Peruvian coast of South America. However, that does not change the fact that thousands of people still think Mesoamerica, no matter how illogical that location has become based on modern knowledge, discovery and technology.
    It takes time to overcome people’s erroneous thinking. It takes a bombardment of truthful facts over extended time of repetition to get new ideas to sink down into the public conscience. For those who readily accept truth, it need not be that way—but most people “fight against the pricks,” when dealing with the truth and repetition is constantly required. I apologize for the difficulty this presents to some of you.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

More Comments from Readers – Part II

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “It seems to me you are trying to cloud the issue of tree-ring dating by claiming trees grow more than one ring per year. But everyone knows that trees grow only one ring per year and that is how they are dated” Carol O.
Left: (Yellow Arrow) Area of Cross Section shown magnified to the Right: (Red Arrows) Annual Ring; (Blue Arrow) Early wood-larger spring cells; (Green Arrow) Late wood-smaller summer cells
    Response: According to dendrochronologists, sometimes dark-wood is produced which does not have a distinct outer boundary, but a fuzzy one, like the inner boundary. Under the microscope it can be seen that the cells of dark-wood do not end abruptly but gradually start getting bigger again. This is usually interpreted as the tree, for some reason, slowing down its growth during the growing season, but then picking up its growth again before beginning the final slow down that occurs at the end of a season. The entire growth band for that year would then include a ‘false’ band of dark-wood (such dark bands are designated as ‘false’ because they did not occur at the end of the growing season as ‘true’ dark bands should). If not detected, false bands would lead one to believe that two rings were present, representing two years, rather than one year’s worth of growth with a ‘false’ dark band in the midst of that year’s light-wood. So it was assumed that ‘false’ rings (and thereby multiplicity) could be easily detected because the outer edge of the dark-wood would be less distinct than the outer edge of normal annual rings.
Left: Easy to count these rings; Right: Can you tell which are real and which are “false” rings?
    Later, however, W. S. Glock et al. (Smithsonian Collections, 1960), demonstrated that in dry climates, not only are ‘false’ rings common in many species, but the bands of ‘false’ dark-wood can have outer boundaries that are every bit as distinct as the outer boundaries of a true annual ring. Therefore, ‘false rings’ can be indistinguishable from ‘true’ annual rings; ‘ … the growth layers resulting from intra-annual flushes (of growth) may, and commonly do, possess outer borders indistinguishable from the borders terminating the annual increment.”
    LaMarche and Harlan see four lines of evidence as supporting the annularity of rings in Bristlecone Pines (Journal of Geophysical Research 78(36), 1973, pp8849–8858). The first is that the dark-wood bands in Bristlecone Pines do not have diffuse outer boundaries, implying that none of the rings are ‘false rings.’ Glock also showed that at least some species can have ‘false rings’ that are indistinguishable from the annual rings. It may well be that White Mountain Bristlecone Pines have false rings which are indistinguishable from annual rings. It is also often the case that extremely thin rings have inner and outer boundaries, which are virtually identical.
    By the way, there are only three false rings in the two images above: two in the top and one in the bottom, for a combined 13 real annual rings, not the 16 (or 18) that appear. How did you do?
Photo of thin-ring dark-wood with diffuse inner and outer boundary. It is difficult to tell which is the inner, and which is the outer boundary (they are virtually identical). The frame is about 0.1 mm wide
    Additionally, Glock found that some of these rings were only one cell thick. Others have interpreted this as being multiple rings in a single season. As an example:
Three dark-wood bands tied together. B continues to the right of A with the black vertical line at approximately the same location. If traced to the left, the dark-wood band in A indicated by the white arrow merges completely with the dark-wood band above it. Likewise, the same dark-wood band in B (also indicated by the white arrow) if followed to the right blends in completely with the dark-wood band below it, giving the strong indication that all three dark-bands were grown during the same growing season. The total length of A and B together is about 2 cm
    Comment #2: “How do you come up with the date of 2344 B.C. for Noah’s Flood? It is my understanding that Irish Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656) did serious work in Genesis chapters 5 and 11 to compile genealogical chronologies that were widely accepted in his day. Scientists such as Isaac Newton believed in Ussher's work, which was even published for years in the margins of the King James Version of the Bible, starting in 1701. Ussher placed the date of Noah's flood at 2350 B.C. and creation at 4004 B.C. Other Biblical scholars have researched dates for the flood ranging from 3398 B.C. to 2348 B.C. and creation between 3760 B.C. and 5555 B.C.” Brett B.
     Response: For clarification, the numbers we use for simplicity of the Bible dates is 4000 B.C. when Adam left the Garden of Eden (his mortal life began), and from that, using Moses dating of the Patriarchs, arriving at 2344 B.C. when the Flood began and 2343 when the Flood ended. The 4000 B.C. date is much like the 600 B.C. date we use when Lehi left Jerusalem when, in reality, he left during the commencement of the first year of Zedekiah’s reign (1 Nephi 1:4), which began in 597 B.C. according to Jewish dating of their events, which shows that the Babylonians in 597 B.C. under King Nebuchadrezzar besieged and captured Jerusalem, deported Jehoiachin to Babylon and made Mattaniah regent under the name Zedekiah.
    Comment #3: “ In your series about the dating of tree rings, how certain are you that trees grow more than one ring a year? I was taught even in grade school, that all trees grow just one ring a year. Does this mean the Bible ages are correct now?” Claire P.
    Response: As we’ve pointed out in that series and in other writings, many years ago, in the infancy of dendrochronology, certain assumptions were made from the type of research that such disciplines were capable of achieving. However, today with the powerful microscopes available, and greater knowledge achievable, there is no question that we are finding more and more examples of multiple rings per year—as much as five in a single year in some cases.
Thus, in earlier years (and even today in far too many cases) people refer to the great ages achieved through tree-ring dating of Bristlecone Pines in the White Mountains of California, claiming as much as eight or nine thousand years—this became famous in scientific circles through the work of Dr. Edmund Schulman (1908-1958) of the University of Arizona, whose dendrochronological studies spanned almost thirty years, of which the last five were spent mostly in the White Mountains (his work was carried on after his death by Dr. H.C. Fritts and Dr. Charles W. Ferguson). However, upon later and much closer scrutiny today there is strong evidence that multiplicity of ring formation is common under the environmental conditions where the trees grow that are used in the master chronology. Thus the assumptions behind the great ages are not correct.
    The number of growth rings produced by Bristlecone Pines seems to be more a function of the soil water status of the area in which the they grow: the drier the environment, the more rings are produced. Multiplicity of growth rings and the strip growth habit are possibly physiological mechanisms for conserving water in dry conditions. Past studies that have sought to prove annularity in Bristlecone Pines have not used a correct methodology or time frame, and more suitable experimental methods have been proposed. In investigating direct evidence for multiplicity, the effect of environmental conditions needs to be accounted for—once again, uniformitarian assumptions about the constancy of rates in the past are shown to be too simplistic. The Bristlecone Pine research may well verify biblical dates, since the far shorter time frames of the trees, such as those indicated in the Bible can accommodate this new and more correct data.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

More Comments from Readers – Part I

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:    
    Comment #1: “The Lord warned that the Gentiles in our day would pollute the Holy church of God (Mormon 8:38; 3 Nephi 16:7-13), and my conviction is that this pollution includes the rejection of a prophet foreordained by the Lord. If the leadership of the Lord's Gentile church in their great pride would not have rejected the foreordained prophet and cast him out, then the promises of true continuing revelation for the church would have resumed. When the Lord finally begins His work of cleansing His church and preparing it for His ancient covenant people's sake-- then the Word of the Lord will again be given to the church membership”  E. Richard
Response: This information is not directed to the Church itself, or the present Church of righteous members, but is addressed to: “O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled” (Mormon 8:33).
    That is, Mormon/Moroni is addressing their remarks to a future unrighteous people who begin creating their own churches who will say, “Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins” (Mormon 8:32), and this will occur in a day when there will be “great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day” (Mormon 8:31)—in other words, in our day today.
    It is important when reading scripture to know to whom the prophet is speaking, and in this case, it is to all those who will (in Moroni’s day) and have (in our day) built up numerous sectarian churches and that “walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts” (Mormon 8:36). In addition, these various churches are described further, “For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted” (Mormon 8:37), hardly describe the LDS Church in any way as you suggest.
     When it is mentioned that this future people have “polluted the holy church of God” (Mormon 8:38), the reference is that the people have created churches, but they are not like the holy church of God, but give claim that they are. It is hardly descriptive of the LDS Church that “Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not? Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?”
    And as far as the 3 Nephi quote, the disciple was speaking of not future church members, but of the “unbelieving Gentiles” who are not members of the Church when he said, “But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles -- for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel; and my people who are of the house of Israel have been cast out from among them, and have been trodden under feet by them” (3 Nephi 16:8), he is referring to the non-believers among the Gentiles when he adds, “And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them” (3 Nephi 16:10).
Obviously, this references the government of the United States and all those politicians who are working against gospel principles in the government and demanding that society accept them, “working their abominations” on the people with “all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy.”
    Comment #2: “In an article you wrote about Zeniff returning to the land of Nephi to acquire the Cities of Nephi and Shilom, you said about the seed of corn, “It is also interesting that for the first time, the crop “corn” is mentioned since evidently, this was not a seed brought from Jerusalem, but a crop the Nephites somehow acquired while in Zarahemla, either as a singular domestication of their own, or more likely a domestication of the Mulekites in their 350-375 year occupation of Zarahemla or one that somehow came to them via the Jaredites, such as contained in Coriantumr’s bag where he had a cob he had been eating, or a seed to be planted—after all, he had to have been living somehow between his battle with Shiz around the hill Shim in the land of Antum (Nephite hill Cumorah) and when he wandered into the Mulekite camp or city (Zarahemla).” What makes you think that Coriantumr wandered into Zarahemla? He was in the land northward” Carlo G.
    Response: Amaleki says the Mulekites came into the land (landed) where Mosiah found them, which would have been in the area of Zarahemla, and dwelt there from that time onward (Omni 1:16). Where else would Coriantumr have encountered them? Besides, the last Jaredite wrote out his history on a large stone—probably sufficient in size to have been difficult to carry around, yet it was in Zarahemla when Mosiah arrived and interpreted it (Omni 1:20-21).
Coriantumr’s stone as depicted by an artist, of which Mosiah is interpreting and someone is writing down the interpretation, perhaps Amaleki
    Granted, the above is merely an artist’s view, however, for Coriantumr to have written out his history, he would have needed something of some size and this depiction seems to be about right.
    Comment #3: ”It is amazing that no one in the New Testament period used the Urim and Thummim, there was no need for it, neither do we find any historical reason that it existed then
Response: Biblically, the term "Urim and Thummim” is mentioned seven times in the Old Testament (Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8; Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65; Deuteronomy 33:8; Numbers 27:21; 1 Samuel 28:6 — in the latter two passages "Urim" is used by itself). In these passages the Urim and Thummim are presented as a means of divine revelation, and are frequently associated with the garments of the High Priest, the ephod and breastplate. The Bible gives no description of the object(s) that constituted the Urim and Thummim, nor of the manner of their use; however, Jewish experts have spoken on the subject, and several drawings have been made to suggest what it might have looked like. As for its use, there seems no question its purpose was regarding translation and obtaining knowledge, especially through inquiring of God (the Lord) for answers. Seven times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New Testament, casting lots is mentioned, though nothing is known about the actual lots themselves. Modern scholars say it is like flipping a coin, though that might be questionable. The practice was used to determine God’s will for a given situation (Joshua 18:6-10; 1 Chronicles 24:5, 31). Various offices and functions in the temple were also determined by lot (1 Chronicles 24:5, 31; 25:8-9; 26:13-14). And the eleven cast lots to determine who would replace Judas (Acts 1:26), but only after questioning the two candidates, and praying earnestly for an answer. Evidently, "casting lots" meant inquiring of the Lord through prayer to determine an answer between two or more options, and expecting the Lord to respond through the process of the "casting of lots."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Don’t Put a Question Mark Where Mormon Placed a Period

In another attempt to show that what Mormon wrote should be maintained the way it was written and not the way some theorists believe, we need to stop placing question marks needing answers where the prophet Mormon placed periods.
The message of the Book of Mormon, in all of its areas of interest—doctrine, principles, lives, events, geographical setting, directions given, and ideas introduced, was meant to bring about a change in our lives as a Second Witness of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, what has happened among numerous theorists about the geographical setting of the scriptural record and the location of the Land of Promise is that theorists have changed the message.
     Stated simply, when it comes to the Book of Mormon, we shouldn’t change the message—the message should change us!
Somewhere in the latter half of the 4th century A.D., Mormon was faced with a herculean task that might have been insurmountable to any man had it not been for the Spirit. Mormon had at his disposal a very large library of books written by Nephites between 600 B.C. and 385 A.D., that some have numbered in the thousands, written on plates that filled a very large room and referred to as sacred records, given to him from which he was to abridge a record of the ancient Nephites and children of Lehi. In addition, his son abridged the record of the Jaredites, an even older civilization with even less connection to the life Moroni led, than the record of Nephi was to Mormon's life.
    However, Mormon, at the close of his life (Words of Mormon 1:1-2) approached this assignment given him by the Lord through the Spirit and the prophet Ammaron, the last of the Nephi prophets before Mormon and Moroni (4 Nephi 1:47-48, Mormon 2-6). He did so with a sad heart, having witnessed the complete ending of the Nephite nation and his people (Mormon 6:16-20), “with the intent that future generations, including Gentiles, 12 Tribes of Israel, and the remainder of his people, in fact, to every soul who belongs to the whole human family of Adam” (Mormon 3:17-20), standing at the end as a witness “to manifest unto the world the things which I saw and heard according to the manifestations of the Spirit which had testified of things to come” (Mormon 3:16), leaving it up to his son, Moroni, “to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people” (Mormon 8:3).
Yet, despite the despair and anguish of what Mormon was faced with, the many theorists could not wait to jump on the bandwagon and start placing question marks all over Mormon’s periods! His cardinal directions were wrong; his placement of lands to the north were wrong; his physical knowledge of the entire Land of Promise was wrong; his understanding of the Spirit directing him was wrong.
    He didn’t know which way the River Sidon flowed; or where the headwaters of that mighty river was located; he was wrong in how long it took a Nephite to walk a day and a half; he was wrong when he wrote about horses pulling chariots; he was wrong about there being roads all over the land over which he passed. Though he had fought from one end of that land to the other, from the north to the south and from the east to the west, Mormon was wrong when he showed us there were four seas as he abridged Helaman’s record; he was wrong when he showed us the directional settings of the Lamanite king Lamoni’s land; he was wrong when he abridged Alma’s record and talked of healing plants that cured killing fevers.
    Though he fought behind these walls, Mormon was wrong when he said the Nephites had built “walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land—he was there, but according to these various theorists, he was wrong!
Mormon was also wrong when he described a passage leading from the Land Southward into the Land Norhtward; he was wrong, though having passed through here where he later made a treaty with the Lamanites, that it had the Sea East on one side and the Sea West on the other side; and he was wrong about this area he defended at the end being a passage through the narrow neck as the only passage between the two major lands.
    In addition, these theorists have placed their own question marks over Nephi’s writing. He was, according to them and if you can image, wrong in where he landed; he was wrong in how his ship arrived in the Land of Promise; he was wrong in finding horses there; he was wrong when he told us of a climate where “seeds from Jerusalem” grew in abundance; he was wrong when he agreed with Jacob that they were on an island; he was wrong when he told us that island was in the midst of the sea over which they had traveled; he was wrong when he told us he built a temple like Solomon’s.
    And, too, these theorists have gladly pointed out to us how Moroni was wrong in there being metallurgy in both the Land Northward and the Land Southward, he was wrong in their being two unknown animals in the land that were as important as elephants—in fact, he was wrong in their being elephants in the land at all, while the theorists called them sloths and tapirs, animals of great worth to man, more so than horses and asses.
    We would not think of placing a question mark where God has placed a period. Yet, it has always amazed me that such religious stalwarts as Hugh Nibley, educated professors as John L. Sorenson, dedicated scriptorians as Carol Phyllis Olive, would allow themselves to start placing question marks, and then insert their own answers to those question marks where Mormon, without any question in his mind, placed a period in his abridgement.
    As pointed out earlier, it is amazing that these theorists today want to change the meaning of Mormon’s words because they think they know more. It is unlikely that anyone throughout the 1000 year history of the Land of Promise walked across more of that land than Mormon in the defense of his country and people.
    It is doubtful that anyone today, assuming they were actually in the Land of Promise of which Mormon writes, has covered as much ground as Mormon did. Yet, there seems no end to the amount of theorists that feel they know more about the land of Promise than did those who lived there, fought there, planted and harvested there, hunted and herded there, and spent their lives there, whatever number of years that might have been, are being second-guessed today as to what they meant when they wrote such simple information for our benefit today.
    Perhaps we should stop putting question marks where these ancient writers put periods and start reading the scriptural record as it was written and without our own ideas as to what was meant, but accept what Mormon, Nephi, Moroni and Jacob actually wrote!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Why Wouldn’t the Nephites Know East?

Since our last few posts have stirred an interest in the azimuth reading of the sunset and sunrise between various models, let’s take a look at this issue a little closer. 
    First of all, by way of reminder and placing 12 cities in three models in comparison with Jerusalem, we get a clearer view of the closeness of some of these locations that would not have required a second thought—that is, they are so close together as viewed along the azimuth setting, that in 600 B.C. would not have appeared any different than what they had been used to in an eastern sky.
As the chart shows, a person standing in any of these locations would see the sun rising along the degree point listed (as seen on a compass)
    Thus whether in Jersualem or La Serena, Chile, the sun rises within one degree of either location. Since there are 360-degrees in a (horizontal) circle, the difference in a view of the sun is insignificant. As an example, at the equator, each degree of latitude is 69 miles, and a degree remains fairly constant from the equator to the poles; however, the variance in longitudinal lines is dependent on the latitude since these lines converge at the poles.
    The azimuth line, which is measured in degrees on the compass, with the degree along the horizon from north to south, which over a year’s time would show the progression of the winter and summer solstices. For a significant difference noticeable to the human eye, it would have to be at least 5º. Of course, the closer the figures are to Jerusalem the more identical it would appear in the course of the sun’s movement and bring an appreciable consciousness of that difference. But first, we have to keep in mind that the perspective of the objects, depends entirely whether or not an object looks big or small in at the distances involved. With the sun, 92,960,000 miles from earth, the perspective over that distance would not notice a degree or two.
Depending on perspective of objects, the sun could look like a marble (left) or a small ball (middle), or a large street bulb light being hauled in a wagon
    Consequently, the Ohio/Great Lakes area is 4 to 5º off from Jerusalem, while the Mexico/Guatemala is only 3 to 4º off, with La Serena, Chile, but one degree off compared to Jerusalem. However; none of these differences would have caused a Nephite landing in one of these areas to be concerned about where the sun rose and set, which would be to the east with a very close setting, making John L. Sorenson’s complete theory of having to have a back to the sea to know east nothing but a fallacious and futile argument.
The sun going down in two settings approximately two degrees apart at a distance looking across the ocean. Without instruments, the Nepnhites would not have known these were not basically identical to the locations they had known in the past in a different location—that of Jerusalem
    Thus, one degree at Jerusalem would be about 60 miles, while one degree at Guatemala City would be about 65 miles, and one degree at Le Serena would be about 60 miles. This means that on a 90º azimuth, the difference between Jerusalem and Guatemala City would be approximately four degrees or 260 miles; while the different between Jerusalem and La Serena at 60º azimuth would be one degree at 60 miles. Stated differently, looking across millions of miles of space in an alignment, you see the sun rising in the east 260 miles off a compass point in Guatemala City (Mesoamerican city of Nephi), or only 60 miles off that compass point in La Serena (Lehi landing site) as compared to Jerusalem.
    Now in the course of the year, as the sun moves toward the winter and summer solstices, it does not rise in the exact same place two days in a row until it reaches the solstice (furthest point before returning).
    Now while these solstices that show the extreme winter and summer swings of the sun, and the equinox showing the day and night periods vary along the suns yearly path, they are relative similar in their locations to any 600 B.C. measurement.
The Summer solstice occurs during the hemisphere’s summer, with the sun at its highest elevation, marking the onset of summer, at the time of the longest day and longest night. This is around June 21 in the northern hemisphere and December 22 in the southern hemisphere. At this time, of course, daylight is continuous in the polar regions, which allows Sorenson to claim that those living in the extreme northern latitudes would have different views, words, and understanding of directions—this is also arguable, however, the point is the Land of Promise was not placed in an extreme northern or southern latitude and so Sorenson's point is a moot one.
    The summer solstice day has the longest period of daylight – except in the polar regions, where daylight is continuous, from a few days to six months around the summer solstice. The earliest sunset and latest sunrise dates differ from winter solstice, however, and these depend on latitude, due to the variation in the solar day throughout the year caused by the Earth's elliptical orbit.
    This also, by the way, makes another point we have written about in the past and that is the distance of narrowing between longitudinal lines as one travels across the Pacific Ocean at the equator, as many Mesoamerican theorists claim.
    The problem few consider is that the curvature of the globe in a horizontal direction narrows longitudinal lines considerably and make an equatorial area crossing (Arabia, past India, through Indonesia, and then from island to island across the Pacific to Mesoamerica) a travel distance along the horizontal (latitudinal) plane of 13,530 miles.
    However, by dropping down to the Southern Ocean before making the crossing, the distance would be considerably less. Along a straight horizontal plane, that distance at 55º south latitude would be 3,230 miles, or 7,300 miles less (shorter) than going straight across the Pacific around the equator (Coquimbo travel: Salalah eastward from 55º W. longitude to 70º E. longitude is 85º at 38 miles per degree, or 3230 miles).
In addition, when figuring in the vertical drop from Arabia to the Southern Ocean, the curvature of the ocean currents would drop the ship to 110º W. Longitude, not 55º, thus the distance along the horizontal plane would be only 1520 miles, or an extreme 9,010 miles shorter for the Southern Ocean route (55º W. longitude to 70º E. longitude is 40º at 38 miles per degree, or 1520 miles, making a 9,010 shorter mileage than Sorenson’s line of travel)
    The point of all of this is that when Sorenson or any other theorist begins making claims about this or that part of their theory, we need to look at the reality of that information or idea. The sun rises in the Guatemala area (Mesoamerica) pretty much where it does in Jerusalem from a boots on the ground compass heading) and even if Lehi were to somehow have managed to land there, there is no way the compass directions would have needed to be changed according to the rationale Sorenson uses to justify the skewed land of promise directions by nearly 90º or any at all, since as shown above, they are very closely aligned to the sunrise and sunset that would have been viewed by them.
    Another point is that when we look at a map of the world and start plotting reasonable courses across the oceans or land, we need to understand the curvature of the planet and how that effects distances on the ground. From Salalah, Arabia, to Guatemala (Sorenson’s location of Lehi’s landing site), is about 13,530 miles; however, a route down to the Southern Ocean and across to the landing site in Coquimbo, Chile, which matches the scriptural record, is only about 4520 miles overall).
(These figures are for illustration purposes only--exact distances would be impossible to determine since a sailing ship is subject to movement within currents. Exact figures would differ only slightly but not effect the point of the illustration of the extreme shorter distance of travel for Lehi going along the Southern Ocean to the Western Hemisphere landing than crossing the Pacific Ocean at the equator as Sorenson claims)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Why Are High Mountains so Important? – Part II

Continuing from the last post on Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy and its importance to us today in identifying the Land of Promise.
    So the issue is simply this: if one is to find the present location of the ancient Land of Promise once occupied by the Jaredites, Nephites and Lamanites, all one has to do is find an area where mountains are plentiful, i.e., can be seen from all over the land and, in fact, cover all of the land as Samuel foretold according to the words put into his heart by an angel--mountains “whose height is great.”
    Now in the entire Western Hemisphere, there are only two locations where mountains have so great a height that the Lord would have chosen “mountains whose height is great” as a sign to look forward to at the time of his crucifixion, and forever after remind people of the event those mountains signaled.
Mt. McKinley in Alaska, now called Mt. Denali after the Athabascan Native Americans, which means “The Great One.” The mountain reaches 20,316 feet
    In all of North America, Mt. Denali in Alaska is the highest mountain peak at 20,310 feet. Mt. Logan in the Yukon is 19,551 feet—in fact, of the top 16 peaks, 12 are in Alaska, and only eight are above 17,000 feet. On the other hand, the highest mountains in the Western Hemisphere are found in South America, beginning with Aconcagua in Chile at 22,841 feet, and Ojos del Salado, also in Chile at 22,608.
Top: Aconcagua, Chile, 22,841 feet; Bottom: Huascarán Sur, Peru, 22,205 feet
    Peru’s highest peak is Huascarán Sur at 22,205 feet, and Huascarán Norte at 21,834, and Yerupajá at 21,769. In western Bolivia is Nevado Sajama at 21,463 feet, and Illimani at 21,201 feet, and in Ecuador is Chimborazo at 20,561, and Cotopaxi at 19,347. As a matter of fact, in the Andean area of the Land of Promise there are 70 mountains over 20,000 feet, 24 of which are in Peru, and 6 more in western Bolivia, which includes the area of the Land of Promise. There are also 18 in Chile and one in Ecuador—all over 20,000 feet in height. There are 100 mountain peaks at 19,700 or more, and ten with prominent peaks (above the ground around them) of 10,833 feet, which means they stand all alone for that height above all surrounding summits.
    When you combine all this with the fact that the Andes stretch for 4,500 miles north to south, located along the entire western coast of South America, and is considered the world’s longest mountain chain. Thus we can easily conclude that the Andes would fulfill the two requirements of Samuel’s prophecy:
1. The height of the mountains, with more than 100 over 20,000 feet, obviously mountains "whose height is great";
2. They stretch over the entire distance and realm of the Land of Promise. There would be nowhere in the entire area from the Land Southward to the Land Northward, that would not have easily been able to see mountains rising to heights over 20,000 feet, with prominences 10,000 feet or higher above their surrounding landscapes. For these to have shot up within hours as a "sign" of the Savior's crucifixion would not only have been impressive, but certainly fulfill Samuel's prophecy like no other place in all of the Western Hemisphere, and certainly like no other area theorists have concluded would be the Land of Promise--a sign that even today is undeniable.
    There is no other place in the entire Western Hemisphere that comes even close to these mountains in height and visibility. The latter being important since a sign would have to be seen by the majority of people in the Land of Promise in order for it to have any effect.
    In addition when these Andes mountains came upward to a “height which is great” they changed the entire face of the land as the Disciple Nephi claims. One of those major changes was the elimination of the Sea East, which is never mentioned following these events. Nor is the narrow neck of land. Of course, with the mountains rising so high, the Nephites would not have known there was land beyond to the east.
Dead Woman Pass in Peru at 13,780 is a tortuous stone staircase of mountain trail built on the western slopes of the Andes just out of Cuzco in ancient times. Once in the pass, it is about 120 miles to the east through these labyrinthine mountains to get to the eastern slopes. It is easy to see why no one traveled anciently over the Andes
    The Andes were not crossed for centuries. The passes through the mountains to the east have summits at 14,000 feet and except for the one Darwin took out of Santiago, Chile, over to Mendoza in Argentina, most are extremely difficult to reach. Even today, almost all movement east to west would be over deep chasms of frightful depth and crossed only by ancient rope bridges. These mountains are not only the second highest in the world (Himalayas being the highest), but these are very steep, with sharp ridges and lofty peaks frequently projecting from the Andean table-lands ending in steep and very deep chasms. In addition, the mountains south of Ecuador are so high that clouds loaded with rain, cannot get across, creating a fog that rises from the Pacific and carries moisture over the narrow strip of land at this west foot of the Andes.
One of the Nephite roads up into the mountains as high as 14,000 feet to one of the many passes
    It is also of interest that the mountains to the north of Ecuador had kept any movement in that direction to a minimum until 1536, when conquistador Sebastián de Benalcázar, hearing of great wealth to the northeast (in present day eastern Colombia or Venezuela), including the presence of the famed “El Dorado,” caused him to leave Quito in Ecuador with an expedition to cross the formidable Andes mountains to the east and enter Colombia.
    The wet, eastern slopes of the Andes in the north were part of the area rumored to contain the city of gold, and this story along with other tales of legendary wealth, such as a "Land of Cinnamon," inspired Spanish conquistadores to cross the eastern range of the Andes from Quito into present-day Colombia. Besides Benalcázar who left Quito in 1536; Gonzalo Pizarro also crosssed over in 1541; and Pedro de Ursúa, who embarked from Lima, the Spanish capitol of Peru, in 1559. A German explorer, Nikolaus Federmann, began his search for the land of El Dorado in Colombia and Venezuela. He became the first to cross the Andes from west to east in 1536. However, the Andes were never “conquered” until Prussian geographer, naturalist and explorer, Fredrick Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt at the turn of the 19th century.
Alexander von Humboldt: Left: Age 45; Right: Age 86. The Berlin-born Prussian geographer, naturalist, explorer, a younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher and linguist, William, and influential in Andean history, laid the groundwork for modern geomagnetic and meteorological monitoring.
    Along with the French botanist Aimé Jacques Alexandre Bonpland, he was granted permission by Spanish king Charles IV to explore Spanish possessions in the New World with Bonpland. He attempted to climb Mount Chimborazo, reaching with 1400 feet of the summit before having to turn back, establishing a height record for climbing of 19,000 feet not to be broken for 30 years. Humboldt eventually crossed the Andes five times, as he explored the lands from Ecuador to Peru.
    The point once again, is that we write about such things from time to time to try and stress the point that the scriptural record tells us exactly what we need to know to learn of the location of the Land of Promise. All we have to do is:
1) approach the descriptions and information with an open mind, i.e., not already have some place in mind to try to fit scripture into, 
2) read the descriptions as they are written and not try to change them to fit a pre-determined location or area, and 
3) follow the information the way it is written without trying to make it read something other than what it does.
    Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni were all writing to a future people, us, to inform us of their world, lives, and lands—all we have to do is listen to them the way they foretold it and not try to make it more complicated by claiming they meant something other than what they said. It is also helpful to understand the world, now and then, to know how oceans move and winds blow, to understand what key words like “driven forth before the wind,” mean; to accept north as north; not limit what God has done or can do; and know there was a Plan from the beginning and that the being who created the world and the universe, knows how to do things within his creations.
    In the case of mountains, they are still there, rising majestically up above 20,000 feet in all their majesty as a commemoration of the crucifixion, from one end of the land to the other. To deny this so obvious "sign" is to deny the prophecy of Samuel, a prophecy sent by the Lord for the Nephites and Lamanites of old, and for us today.
As Jeremiah asked, “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear” (Jeremiah 5:21), or as the Lord said to his disciples: “Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not?” (Mark 8:18), or again to his disciples: “He who has ears, let him hear." The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: " 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving” (Matthew 13:9-14).
    Rather than falling into that category of the non-seeing, non-hearing, non-understanding, we need to follow the scriptural record--the way it is written--to the Land of Promise. We need to see, hear and understand what we have been told and not try to keep changing things so they agree with our pre-determined ideas.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Why Are High Mountains so Important? – Part I

From time to time we get inquiries about different events or happenings in the Land of Promise of the Book of Mormon, asking for clarification or additional information. Sometimes we have new readers, or returning readers, who have missed some posts that covered a certain idea and thinking we had not written about it, ask us questions regarding the subject. And occasionally we are asked why we “harp” on or emphasize so often a particular subject.
    It is to this last issue we address this post, with all respect for our daily readers who might feel they’ve heard all this before—though whenever we write about a repeated subject, we write without cutting and pasting already posted material as much as possible. Sometimes the point is better made with a repeat of a paragraph, but for the most part we start every article from scratch. This is due, in part, because world knowledge is always increasing and the internet has become an important location for studies, research papers, theses, and a trove for immediate access to new scientific, archaeologic, and numerous other fields. So though a topic has been covered, it is written anew quite differently and often with new supportive evidence.
This is the case with our article today about the mountains mentioned in Helaman regarding the prophesies of Samuel the Lamanite (left), who left his home in the Land of Nephi to come to Zarahemla to preach the gospel. What motivated him to do so we are not informed, at least on his first visit to the Nephite capital. This takes place at a time in Nephite history when the Lamanites had become a righteous people and the Nephites had fallen into evil ways. In fact, this event begins with “And now it came to pass in the eighty and sixth year, the Nephites did still remain in wickedness, yea in great wickedness, while the Lamanites did observe strictly to keep the commandments of God, according to the law of Moses” (Helaman 13:1).
    We only know that Samuel came into the Land of Zarahemla and began to preach unto the Nephites for many days (Helaman 13:2), but he was eventually cast out by the people and was about to return to his own land when the voice of the Lord came unto him that he should return again and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart (Helaman 13:3). Obviously, the Lord had a message he wanted the Nephites to hear and understand. Unable to enter the city, Samuel boldly climbed upon the city walls and began to preach (Helaman 13:4).
Now the words he uttered were 1) given to him by the Spirit to say, 2) given for the people to know when the birth and the crucifixion of the Savior was to take place, and 3) given so all could know throughout the Land of Promise the signs involved in both instances.
    Now Samuel made the statement that mountains would crumble at this time into level valleys (Helaman 14:23), a vision Nephi also saw and described as: “mountains tumbling into pieces” (1 Nephi 12:4); then Samuel said, “and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great“ (Helaman 14:23, emphasis mine).
No matter how many arrows they shot at him, Samuel was untouched, guarded by the Spirit while he delivered the Lord’s message to the Nephites
    Why did Samuel utter these words? Because “the angel said unto me that 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).
    Note the significance of his words:
1. All the people might believe seeing the signs unfold;
2. The signs would be seen on all the face of the land;
3. So obvious would be the signs that no one would be able to disbelieve them;
4. In five years time the Savior would be born, and there would be two days with no night, a new star and many signs and wonders in heaven;
5. It was all being declared by an angel through Samuel;
6. At Christ’s death there would be three days of darkness;
7. There would be great tempests, and "there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great."
    This should convince us that the signs Samuel foretold would be so thoroughly seen and understood throughout all the Land of Promise, both in the Land Northward and in the Land Southward, they would be observed by everyone, and all would know of their source so obviously would the events preceding and during the rising of the mountains be to all.
    From the city wall Samuel proclaimed: “I, Samuel, a Lamanite, do speak the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart; and behold he hath put it into my heart to say unto this people…” (Helaman 13:5, emphasis mine).
So while those Nephites who rejected his message “cast stones at him, and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall, the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows” (Helaman 16:2). No doubt the Lord was trying to impress the Nephites with his message through Samuel, but in the end they rejected the Lamanite prophet and he escaped capture by “casting himself down from the wall, and did flee out of their lands, yea, even unto his own country, and began to preach and to prophesy among his own people” (Helaman 16:7).
It should be well understood that the message of repentance was Samuel’s purpose in being sent to the Nephites in Zarahemla, and then returning to preach the same message to the Lamanites throughout his own land. Not only was the message to repent, but that at the time of the Savior’s birth there would be obvious signs, and that there would be exceptional destruction at the time of his crucifixion, so much so, that everyone, Nephite and Lamantie, would be well aware of it. And besides the signs of overall destruction at the time of his death, mountains would rise “whose height was great.”
    Now the idea that mountains would rise over night being a significant point of notice as a sign, they would rise to a monumentous height, one everyone in the land could see, and not be able to attribute to anything else but the prophesy of Samuel and the work of the Lord.
The mountain that came up to cover the city of Moronihah must have risen within minutes, or at least hours
    At one point, an eye-witness of these events at the Savior’s death, wrote: “And the earth was carried up upon the city of Moronihah that in the place of the city there became a great mountain” (3 Nephi 8:10), which the Lord verified he had done (3 Nephi 9:5), and made hills and valleys in the places of other cities (3 Nephi 9:8). The significant comment, however, in helping to locate the Land of Promise was in Samuel’s statement about mountains, “whose height is great.”
    This was not only significant to those who lived at the time to look up and see very tall mountains about them, obviously taller than the ones that had been there before but tumbled to the ground, otherwise the difference might not have seemed significant. And more importantly, this event would be seen and understood throughout the entire “face of the land,” i.e., throughout all the Land of Promise.
(See the next post, “Why Are High Mountains so Important? – Part II,” for the second part of Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy and its importance to us today in identifying the Land of Promise.)