Saturday, December 20, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part X

These are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “I read where George Potter claims that the great sea mentioned in Ether 13 is the same body of water as the “sea in the wilderness” mentioned in Ether 6, and that the account in the Ether record of building ships to cross a sea is simply a more detailed description of the same event in Ether 6. What is your take on this?” Kirby M. 
Response: Potter claims that this event is really what Biblical scholars call a “doublet,” which is the same event being told more than once but each time from a different perspective or for a different purpose.  Richard Friedman (Who Wrote the Bible? Harper Collins, 1997) shows doublets used in the writing of the creation, in Moses getting water from the stone, of God changing Jacob’s name, naming Isaac, and the Abrahamic covenant. The problem is that the story of the Jaredites does not use doublets, it is simply a chronological series of events that Moroni abridged and condensed from the original writing.
    In that abridgement, a series of events took place:
1. The Lord agreed not to confound their language (Ether 1:37);
2. The Lord met them (the Jaredites) in a valley to the north (Ether 1:42);
3. From the valley they went into the wilderness (Ether 2:6);
4. They built barges to cross “many waters” (Ether 2:6);
5. They did not stop beyond the sea in the wilderness (Ether 2:7);
6. They traveled to a great sea, where they spent four years (Ether 2:13);
7. They built barges to cross the great sea (Ether 2:16).
There is no repetition involved in these events. Moroni listed this sequence in their proper order with no repetition involved or suggested. The sea in the wilderness is different from the great sea and is called by a different “name” which provides a different understanding. A sea in the wilderness could be one of several things, but most likely an inlet sea, such as the Persian Gulf, which by the way, was known anciently as “the sea above Akkad,” “Pars Sea” (Persian Sea), “Ahmar Sea,” and even the “Red Sea“). At the time of the Jaredites, the kingdom of Sumer had been established (in the 26th century B.C., according to Juris Zarins, archaeologist and professor of the Middle East), referred to as the Dilmun (Telmun), of which the earliest mention of Dilmun is that of king Ur-Nanshe of Lagash, dated to 2300 B.C. (the time of the Jaredites).
The Sea in the Wilderness would have been the Persian Sea (Persian Gulf), which would hve been encountered upon leaving Mesopotamia and crossing the "many waters"
    The Dilmun controlled eastern Arabia and monopolized trade in the region. It is possible that the Lord did not want the Jaredites to have anything to do with this civilization, which might have been a warring people, controlling the Persian Gulf at the time, thus his injunction: “that they should not stop beyond the sea in the wilderness,” but that “they should come forth even unto the land of promise,” which lay beyond the great sea far to the south.
The Jaredite line of march. 1) Leaving their homeland near Babylon, they 2) traveled north to the Valley of Nimrod, and when leaving there, 3) traveled down the unoccupied land near the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, then crossed the lakes, rivers, ponds, and wetlands of the Mesopotamia Marshes,  4) passed by the Sea in the Wilderness, and 5&6) traveled down the coastal area of the Persian Gulf along what became the Trading Road to the south to the area of Qatar, then 6&7) set out into the desert from water hole to water hole to 8) the area of Salalah beside the Great Sea (Sea of Arabia)
    It should also be of note that the Dilmun traded with Oman, also far to the south, and that the western regions of the Gulf would have had roads or trails to send trade goods to and from Oman along the seacoast of the Arabian Sea—what is likely called the “Great Sea” in Ether (for more information, see the upcoming post “Jatredite Direction of Travel – Part III – The Route the Jaredites Took”), which should be posted in about 4 or 5 days.
    Comment #2: “You recently wrote that Sorenson said: “There were the Plates of Zeniff." And then you added: “While there is no mention of a Zeniff record, Zeniff plates, Plates of Zeniff, Record of Zeniff, when Limhi reached Zarahemla, he had with him their records, plus the records of the Jaredites (Mosiah 22:14). We can assume Zeniff started a record, but have no way of knowing this. It seems obvious Noah would not have created a record of his doings. So all we know is that Limhi had a record of his people.” My point is, I must insist that we most certainly can know if Zeniff kept a record! Mosiah 9:1 begins with "I, Zeniff....!" Sorenson comes up with some real whoppers, but this is one whopper you definitely get to chalk up to yourself. :)“ W.B.
Ziniff (left); king Noah (center); king Limhi (right)
    Response: Chapter 8 of Mosiah starts out saying that king Limhi told his people all the things concerning their brethren who were in the land of Zarahemla, then Ammon told of all that had happened in Zarahemla since Zeniff (Limhi’s grandfather) led a group out of Zarahemla back to the city of Nephi to reclaim the land of their inheritance, including king Benjamin’s teachings, then Limhi dismissed everyone to go back to their homes, then king Limhi “caused that the plates which contained the record of his people from the time they left the land of Zarahemla, should be brought before Ammon, that he might read them: (Mosiah 8:6). Limhi then recounted the story of his 43-man expedition he sent to find Zarahemla, and which discovered the Land Northward and Ether’s 24 plates and Jaredite artifacts, then Ammon reads from the plates Limhi gave him, which starts out “I, Zeniff, having been taught…” and provides us with the story of Zeniff and both his and the original expedition out of Zarahemla that ended in disaster.
    We don’t know who recorded this information after Chapter 10, for the record then switches to the third person and starts out “And now it came to pass that Zeniff conferred the kingdom upon Noah, one of his sons…” (Mosiah 11:1). In which in my comment about Sorenson’s statement of the Plates of Zeniff, I said, which you quoted, “While there is no mention of a Zeniff record, Zeniff plates, Plates of Zeniff, Record of Zeniff, when Limhi reached Zarahemla…”
    I apologize for the poor writing structure. What I was getting at is that there is no actual mention of any Plates of Zeniff in the statement, or anything called “the record of Zeniff.” There was, of course, “a record of his people” (Mosiah 8:5), which I referred to in the continuation of my earlier statement, which stated “he had with him their records, plus the records of the Jaredites.”
    That Zeniff wrote something is obvious, and that the writing was on plates is also stated, or at least that "plates of his people" were brought out. My point at the time was Sorenson has a habit of stating things his own way that are in the scriptural record instead of stating what the scriptural record specifically says. We may assume that there were Plates of Zeniff, or a Record of Zeniff, but such specific wordage does not appear in the scriptural record. Nor, from the continuation in the third person, and in accordance with my earlier statement “Noah would not have created a record of his doings,” we do not know in what form that record was continued or first appeared. Somewhat like the Plates of Lehi, which we would not have known existed except for Joseph Smith’s comment about those lost 116 pages being the “Book of Lehi.” We do not have any record of Mosiah I in a “book” or “plate” form other than Amaleki’s brief 530 words found in12 verses. All we really know is that “Limhi had a record of his people.”
    In pointing this out to me, it shows that I was careless in my writing and not clear with my meaning. Thank you. There is no question I need to be better than that when I write. Especially when pointing out the mistakes of others... :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part IX

These are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:
    Comment #1 : “I like this article very much. Jacob and Nephi clearly considered themselves to be upon an isle of the sea, which was kept from the knowledge of other nations.
As you know, I favor a peninsular setting for the lands being described. The Baja peninsula is “something resembling an island, especially in being isolated or having little or no direct communication with others.” I wouldn't say that it's impossible for an isthmus to also fit this description if the isthmus in question were significantly isolated from all other nations, but I am not aware of any actual isthmus setting for the Book of Mormon lands that seems to fit this description. For roughly 400 years after Lehi's landing, the Nephite nation was apparently unaware of the existence of the Mulekite city of Zarahemla to their north, nor of the destroyed Jaredite nation to their north, nor of the "many lakes and large bodies of water" which were "exceedingly great distances" away in the land northward. I see no reason to believe that Jacob or Nephi knew whether or not their isle was isolated by water on the north. If Nephi and Jacob were speaking of their home in the cape region of the Baja peninsula, it makes sense that they would describe their land as an isle” Elbeau.
    Response: It is interesting that the word peninsula comes from the Latin pæninsua (pæne “almost) and insula “island), which literally means “almost an island,” yet that term was not used by Joseph Smith in his translation, nor by the Spirit’s promptings.
    You might be interested to know that in ancient Hebrew, the word “island” did not exist. The word used was “i” and pronounced “ee” that meant “coastlands,” and could also mean “coast, border, region, country in the sea, coast-land,
    Many Bible translators use the word “coastland” where the King James version uses “isle” such as in Genesis 10:5; Esther 10:1; Isaiah 20:6, 23:2; 23:6; 24:15; 401:1; 41:5; 42:4; 42:12; 51:5; 59:18; 60:9; 66:19; Jeremiah 2:10; 25:22; 31:10—though they both used “islands” in Psalm 72:10; 97:1; Isaiah 11:11; 40:15; 42:10; 49:1—but used “coastland” where King James version uses “country” in Jeremiah 47:4.
It is interesting that Jacob and Nephi both understood their Land of Promise beyond what we might think. Why would Jacob and Nephi call it an island? No doubt, because the Spirit had told them, Nephi had seen the Land of Promise in a vision, and that in reading Isaiah who talks about the isles of the sea and understood the Nephites being separated from the House of Israel and led away (as were others), the understanding was given to Jacob and Nephi that they were part of what Isaiah wrote about. I suppose other assumptions about this could be made, but Prophets who write are given knowledge of what to write far beyond our understanding. It is unwise to limit the knowledge of those who write the scriptures. As an example, Isaiah knew the name of Cyrus more than 120 years before he was born--I believe it is called Inspiration. Why Jacob and Nephi knew it was an island, and why when Joseph Smith wrote "isle" that the Spirit acknowledged that was true, seems pretty clear to me. After all, the understanding of an isthmus and a peninsula was known in Joseph Smith's time--and his method of translating was not word for word, but understanding for understanding, that an island was an island. And since the word peninsula is taken from a word meaning "not an island" I have a hard time thinking that the Lord is going to allow translation of the scriptural record to be inaccurate. God is not a God of confusion. I realize you want it to be a peninsula, but an island is an island when the scriptural record says it is.
    Comment #2: “In your opinion, what is the strength of the South American movement compared to the Mesoamerican movement? Or, put another way, are SA followers growing, shrinking, or just holding serve? I don't think I can stomach one more inane paper or post touting MESO. UGH….They are really holding BOM geographical studies hostage. Setting it back decades, really” Sam P.
Response: I think that South America (left) is becoming more known than it ever has been in regard to being the Land of Promise—our blog is growing in numbers of followers and the hits on the site are steadily increasing—but it is still just a drop in the bucket. Mesoamerica, because of the ruins there (and in far better shape than so many in South America) which people see and stop thinking about anything else. Also, Latter-day Saints from the very beginning wanted evidence of Nephite existence in the Western Hemisphere and Mesoamerica answered that need and few, if any, looked beyond that—they just jumped on the bandwagon and felt good that proof existed. Those that did look into scriptural references had to find ways to make the scriptures adjust to that thinking, and some of those, like Sorenson, did so with no regard to the scriptures at all (I think that professors are so used to having 18-20 year-olds lap up everything they say without questioning anything that they get in the habit of thinking that whatever they say or think is accurate). As an aside, it would not surprise me if the Lord did not want a mass movement within the Church toward South America thinking simply because of the renewed attacks from critics who would then have a whole new area to fuel their criticisms, but that’s just my thought on the matter. As for Mesoamerica Theorists setting back Land of Promise research decades, I couldn’t agree more! I think the Church and the Book of Mormon are not well served by all this fodder for the critics these so-called Land of Promise Theorists keep coming up with that are far afield from the actual scriptural record. 
    Comment #3: “If science was right all along about the dominant Siberian ancestry of American Indians, are they also right about the timing of their entry? There is abundant evidence, some now coming from the DNA research, that their [American Indian] Siberian ancestors arrived over 12,000 years ago. How does such a date fit with other LDS beliefs?" Trevor F.
Response: Three points: 1) Science has yet to be “right all along,” in almost any category of archaeology, anthropology, settlement patterns, etc. We have written numerous times about this (see the book Scientific Fallacies & Other Myths). 2) DNA research is again and again shown to be inaccurate and has to be changed, updated, etc., as new and larger samples become available to scientific study (see earlier blog series “DNA and the American Indian – Parts I & II,” March 1, 2, 2013; “Comments from out DNA Series – Parts 1-4,”April 24-27, 2013); 3) Since there was a Great Flood that engulfed the entire planet, dated by information the Lord dictated to Moses, in 2344 B.C., about 4350 years ago, nothing that took place prior to that time is of any value to anything since in regard to records, movement, settlements, migratory patterns, etc. Not even DNA, since everyone on the planet came through Noah and his wife, basically with their DNA, which all came from Canaan through Mesopotamia (with the addition of Ham’s wife somewhere in that vicinity, and the other two wives). These three points, then, make science and science’s claim not only wrong, but irrelevant.
    Comment #4: “What do you think of John L. Sorenson's astute comments that any attempt to identify the New World setting for the Book of Mormon should be driven by relevant criteria. He says: “Our first task is to analyze from the text [the Book of Mormon] the key characteristics of the lands described. This will produce a set of requirements. Any area in the Americas proposed as the location of Book of Mormon events must match these criteria or else be judged mistaken” Johnny H.
    Response: I think that is a great idea. So why don’t we start with:
    1. Jacob’s comment regarding their new home in the Land of Promise when he says: “we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20);
2. Nephi’s comment that: “we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance” (1 Nephi 18:24)—with the thought in mind that seeds from Jerusalem (Mediterranean climate) would not grow in Mesoamerica (tropical and sub-tropical climate);
    3. Ether’s words when he said of the Jaredites: “and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; and they did dig it out of the earth; wherefore they did cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. And they did work all manner of fine work” (Ether 10:23), which would have been around 1500 B.C. or earlier, yet metallurgy was not found to exist in Mesoamerica until long after both the Jaredites and Nephites were gone. “The emergence of Metallurgy in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica occurred relatively late in the region's history, with distinctive works of metal apparent in West Mexico by roughly AD 800, and perhaps as early as AD 600” (Dorothy Hosler, “Ancient West Mexican Metallurgy: South and Central American Origins and West Mexican Transformations,” American Anthropologist 90, 1988, pp 832-855)
    4. Mormon’s description of “the king sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west…” The two seas in Mesoamerica are to the north (Gulf of Mexico) and the south (Pacific Ocean).
    “…and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west…” The land ran north and south, with the two seas to the east and west, with the narrow strip of wilderness dividing the land north and south.
    “… and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla…” The Land of Zarahemla was to the north of the Land of Nephi.
    “…thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided” (Alma 22:27).
“The Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful” (Alma 22:29). That is, Zarahemla was north of the Land of Nephi, and Bountiful was north of the Land of Zarahemla. However, in Mesoamerica, the Land of Zarahemla is the west of the Land of Nephi; and the Land of Bountiful is to the west of the Land of Zarahemla.
    Many more examples could be added here, but the point is, if Sorenson wants to make “any attempt to identify the New World setting for the Book of Mormon should be driven by relevant criteria,” such criteria would be what Nephi, Jacob, Ether and Mormon had to say, which Sorenson ignores at every turn. In addition, Sorenson also says: “Our first task is to analyze from the text [the Book of Mormon] the key characteristics of the lands described,” which he fails to do at every turn. Evidently, with Sorenson, words mean only what he chooses them to mean, à la Lewis Carroll who penned: “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part VIII

These are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “When I read the B of M I always wonder what happened to the evidence of the life of the Jaredites” Todd P.
    Response: There is a lot of evidence of the Jaredites and we have written about it on the blog in a few posts a while back. The animals are the thing that most people concern themselves with, especially the critics. However, as we have discussed in our posts, there are several factors involved, one of which is that the uninhabited area of Andean Peru, Ecuador, and Chile, etc., is very large and the Spanish, when they arrived, covered just a very small area of it for a couple of hundred years.
    What common animals were found there after the Spanish arrived were always credited to the Spanish bringing them, but there is no way to say there weren’t some of the animals Nephi mentioned in the “outback,” in the hills, upland valleys, etc., where the Spanish never ventured. Nor would the natives of the highland areas know or understand our concern about what animals were there before the Spanish and which ones were not.
The native population used certain animals (alpaca and llama) and for quite some time science did not know about the guanaco and vicuna wild ancestors. In fact, much of Andean Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador today remains unknown to the Western World, other than tours that take one to the sites of early ruins.
    It also remains to be considered what happened to the area of the Land of Promise after Moroni’s last entry. We know that a civil war took place in the entire land for some forty years and was still raging after that time. As Moroni wrote: “the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:8) and also “their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves;” (Moroni 1:2). One can only imagine what condition the land and its flora and fauna would be in with such a condition. 
    Animals have been killed into extinction under normal conditions, think what could happen during such a land-covering civil war, especially with Lamanites who were not known for planting or harvesting (providing their own food). One can imagine that all the domestic animals (localized and easy to catch) would have been the first to give way under vast armies living off the land as they wage wars for a generation or more. And without human care, domestic animals would starve without feed provided. 
An interesting “Animals in War Memorial” was erected in London in 2004, to commemorate the countless animals that have served and died during war. And inscription reads: “Many and various animals were employed to support British and Allied Forces in wars and campaigns over the centuries, and as a result millions died. From the pigeon to the elephant, they all played a vital role in every region of the world in the cause of human freedom.”
According to an NBC World News Report in February of this year, during the three-year civil war in Syria, food became unavailable and people were starving. After a four-month siege of Yarmouk, people resorted to eating cats and dogs, even grass, cactus and animal feed. According to the BBC News, during October of last year in Damascus, clerics issued a fatwa (ruling) allowing people living in the besieged suburbs to eat cats, dogs and donkeys to stave off hunger. And just as obviously, during wars, animals themselves starve for want of food. In North Korea, people have resorted to eating rats to avoid starvation.
    For those of us who would never think to eat horsemeat, in France special butchers (boucherie chevaline) sell nothing but butchered horsemeat. Elephant meat is also considered a delicacy in some areas of the world and poachers make more money on the selling of elephant meat than their ivory tusks.
    So what happened to the animals the Nephites had? We don’t know, but numerous situations suggest that they might have become extinct during the wars of the Lamanites.
    Comment #2: “It would be great if you could insert a map of the general navigational routes and landing of Lehi in Chile and later the people with Mulek to the north (Central America) area. Thanks” Kevan D
    Response: The maps have been shown in the blog before, but here are a couple.
Lehi left the Arabian Peninsula from the coast of Oman (Khor Rori) and sailed into the Sea of Arabia on the southwest summer winds and current, picked up the western curve of the South Indian Ocean Gyre, and swung down into the Southern Ocean on the Prevailing Westerlies and West Wind Drift that took him across the “Great Deep” to where the Humboldt (Peru) Current swung him north along the coast of Chile and landed at 30º south latitude where the winds and currents die down and where Coquimbo Bay is located
    First of all, any landing in Central America would have been those emigrants who sailed in Hagoth’s ships and took their course northward and were never heard from again (Alma 63:4-8). These are the Nephites who built the ruins we now see in Mesoamerica, but were not part of the actual Book of Mormon record after leaving in Hagoth’s ships.
    Secondly, as for Mulek’s landing, he would have landed where Mosiah found his descendants in the city and land of Zarahemla (Omni 1:15-16), and that would have been in the area of Lima, Peru, the ruins today are called Pachacamac.
The ancient city of Pachacamac (Earth Maker, Creator God) outside Lima, which for centuries during Nephite times was the religious center of Andean Peru
    Comment #3: “In Osomo (Chile) was found a gomphotherium in 2008 (12,000 years old), but it has nothing to do with any religion just because “god” does not exist of course. True spirituality does not live in the mythological religions but on the conscious humanity itself” Ken J.
    Response: Yes, we have written about that. As for God not existing, that is an odd belief, shared no doubt by a large number of people, however, His existence is undeniable. Nor does he exist in some mythological religion. Mythological, by the way, means appearing in myths or mythology, lacking factual basis or historical validity. My religion does not appear in such things. There is no lack of factual basis involved, and certainly its history is well known and documented. I might also add that true spirituality is that which drives a person to live a good, righteous life, repenting of his mistakes and acknowledging God in all things. And frankly, while I have a great respect for the humanity God created, I have less appreciation for the consciousness of that humanity and those who deny the very Being who created them.
    We live every day fighting a war that few people realize even exists. That war is between Jesus Christ, the son of God, and Lucifer, the son of the morning, the Devil—Satan, whose desire is for all mankind to be as evil and deplorable as he, himself, became. That war exists in our daily lives—choices we make each day, to follow Christ, or to follow Satan—the choice, of course is our own. Satan is involved in all things, from school, to business, to politics, to every aspect of life. We either stand up to his evil or we succumb to it—but we can never ignore it though most people think they are doing just that.
I do agree with you that good and evil exist at the human conscious level. But our existence goes far beyond that. We are children of that Divine Being who created the Universe and all things within, and we can honor Him by learning to be like Him. “Be ye therefore perfect,” he instructs us. Our conscious should be devoted to fulfilling that assignment in the perfecting of our lives, being better today than we were yesterday, and learning more of Him tomorrow than we know today. It is a lofty goal, but we came from loftier spheres than this and are destined to return to those loftier places. Whether we reach the mark or fall short is within our power to control, as long as we realize that that is the goal, and there is an evil force dedicated to our not reaching it.
    It is not mystical. It is not a myth, though Satan loves to try and convince us it is. So good luck with your conscious—I prefer a much greater purpose and far higher goal to govern my life. As an ancient man far above our level once said, “choose ye this day whom ye will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part VII

These are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “The Nephites that left on Hagoth's ships to the Land Northward probably lost their identity as Nephites after a few generations. Accepting a South American geography for the BoM account, the word Northward in Alma 63:5 means that these people went to Central or North America, not to the Pacific Islands that would be Westward of them” George W.
Response: From the scriptures we cannot pinpoint where the emigrants in Hagoth’s ships went; however, from modern observation, it would seem self-evident they landed in Central America from all the magnificent ruins found there that resemble the masterful building in the Book of Mormon lands of South America, whose height of achievement seems to have been in Mesoamerica, covering the area modern history attributes to the Maya and Aztec. These two areas are the only ones in all of the Western Hemisphere that show such a magnificence of a pre-history people, both groups fitting nicely into the scriptural record, one (the latter) north of the other.
    Unfortunately, we know nothing of the Nephites entering North America above Mexico., though it is certain that some did, whether at the time of Hagoth’s emigrants, or later through land movement northward, since Zelph's skeleton was found in Illinois near Griggsville. However, Zelph was not a Nephite as E.D. Howe wrote in his anti-Mormon book "Mormonism Unveiled," but identified by Joseph Smith as a while Lamanite warrior officer or chieftan, who lived and served under the Prophet Onandagus, who is not further identified other than his being known from the mountains to the sea.
The winds and currents move from Peru and Ecuador flow directly down to Polynesia as Tiki proved
     As for Polynesia, while we know of at least three ships that went northward from Hagoth’s shipyards, we also know of one that went elsewhere “And it came to pass that one other ship also did sail forth; and whither she did go we know not.” (Alma 63:8). Now, if it didn’t go north, and wouldn’t have gone south where the Lamanite lands were located, then it had to go west since Hagoth built his ships on the west sea coast (Alma 63:5). An interesting phenomenon takes place when leaving the coast of South America around the Bay of Guayaquil (3º south latitude) and heading west, the inner current of the South Pacific Gyre swings westward out into Polynesia. This is the same current Thor Heyerdahl used for his drift voyage of the Kon-Tiki, which ended up in Tuamotu islands of Polynesia.
    Comment #2: “'And I Mormon do not write but a hundredth part.' Just because it's not recorded doesn't mean the possibilities of other things. It's not black and white. I bet my bottom dollar a believer in Christ besides Moroni was overlooked.”
    Response: First, be careful…your “bottom dollar” means your very last cent, and in this case, you would lose even that. Second, it is doubtful that Moroni, except for the Lord’s intervention, would have survived among the warring Lamanties and Robbers that infested the Land of Promise. Keep in mind that Mormon closed out his writing saying some of the Nephites escaped into the country southward and obviously he did not know what happened to them; however, Moroni later makes the following statement closing out his father’s record: “the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites, until they were all destroyed” (Mormon 8:2). Now, one might ask, how did he know that? Certainly the Lamanites did not tell him, for he tells us he did not make himself known to the Lamanites for they would have killed him (Moroni 1:1), and there was no New York Times or  Six O’clock Evening News to inform him. The only way he would have known what happened to them was if the Spirit told him—and that led to his statements: “and I even remain alone,” “my people…are gone,” “the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more.” Now, "even until they are no more" sounds pretty final to me.
Comment #3: “The Mormon Church views temples as profit centers. When a temple is built, they have an identifiable increase in all revenue from the area, and specifically tithing.
    Response: There is a saying among most LDS about "dividing to multiply," i.e., as a Ward or Stake is divided, more people are involved and more activity takes place. As activity in the Church increases, no matter where in the world, people become more active, more willing to respond to the Lord and more willing to help in the process. As this happens, people become more faithful, more prayerful, more involved; more people go to Church, more people draw closer to the Lord, more people take part in church programs; more young men and women are available for missionary work, people are more drawn to family, the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes more of the center of their lives.
    All of this is the goal! It is a natural process. It is what leaders in the Church strive for, what bishoprics and stake presidencies donate untold and unpaid hours to achieve, what unpaid church service is all about—to bring the gospel more into the lives of every member, and spread the gospel of Christ to all people interested in hearing it.
    When millions of people around the world donate their time, energy, and talents in such willing service, there are many results to this increased activity and involvement in the gospel of Christ. Families are strengthened, communities are strengthened, nations are strengthened. Freedoms increase, lives are improved, evil is combatted.
    While tithing increases out of natural increases in all these areas, it is a singular and hypocritical comment to make that it is done simply to create profit centers. The early apostles donated their time, their energies, their strength to the spreading of the gospel, i.e., “Good News” of Christ’s death and resurrection, his atonement and the salvation of all mankind.
    Yes, it is true that tithing increases as people increase their activity. Build a new Ward, tithing increases. Divide a Ward, tithing increases. Build a Temple, tithing increases. Increased numbers of chapels closer to the people, attendance increases; increased attendance at church increases tithing. All of this is simply the result of people becoming more righteous—that is, improving their lives and becoming better people.
    The question I would ask of you is simply this. As the Lord blesses people, they become better people, smarter people, more accomplished people, which, in turn, become more successful people and as such, generally earn more money and can pay more in tithing. Now does the Lord bless us so we can pay him more money? Or does he have a higher, more noble end in mind?
    Comment #4: “It appears that the Mormon Church gave in to the Blacks because of desperation to run their new temple built in Africa in 1978—the revelation was made in June and the temple was dedicated in October. Initial training of workers was held in September. Very tight time frames and if they did not increase the available Blacks to attend and operate the temple they would have wasted all that money.
Response: It would appear that the God who created the Universe, organized this world and others without number, can stop seas and move mountains, etc., etc., etc., can certainly operate a plan. He knows when things will be and are ready and does things according to his purposes. Let’s just turn your time frame around and suggest that the Lord knew when he planned to offer his priesthood to all worthy men, and in that plan, had a temple ready for them when they were available to attend.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part VI

These are more comments that we have received on this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “I read Richard Packham’s statement “Why I left the Mormon Church,” in which he stated: “the ultimate goal of the church, as stated publicly by its early leaders Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (but not mentioned so publicly by more recent Mormon leaders), is to establish the Mormon Kingdom of God in America, and to govern the world as God's appointed representatives. The church is already influential in the making of secular policy, as was proven not so long ago when the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated with decisive help from the Mormon church. To me, the possibility that the Mormon church might control America is a frightening prospect.  I wonder how you see that statement” Randy R.
Response: First of all, you might want to be cautious of someone who makes wild statements without supportive data. If you were to look up Brigham Young’s (far left) preachings, you would not find him referring to this in that way at all. Secondly, It is not the Mormon Church that will control America, it is the Church of God that will do this. Actually, the Kingdom of God will be established on the earth, not just in America. At that time “every knee will bend and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ” (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10; Isaiah 45:23). In Revelations 11:15, we are told “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” This is the kingdom of God Brigham Young and other early Church leaders were referring to, and it is still talked about publicly in the Church—the difference is that in the mid 1800s, the Church was more localized in America (the vast majority in Utah); however, today, the Church is worldwide with over 15-million members, over 29,000 congregations, with the Book of Mormon published in 189 languages. Daniel predicted this growth as the “stone cut out without hands” that would overrun the earth and destroy all the other kingdoms becoming “a great mountain that filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:34-35).
    It is a sad commentary from anyone that they would find that frightening.
As for the Mormon Church being “influential” in American politics, some people misunderstand, like most politicians today misunderstand the people they govern, and that is that it is the people who stand up to be counted. Sometimes the people require a nudge here and there, but in the end, it is the people who cast their vote, and it was the people in California (myself being one of them at the time) who helped defeat the Equal Rights Amendment, and later defeated the move to change the marriage laws, etc.
    As for the Mormon Church, unlike other Christian churches, the LDS pulpit is never used to promote political issues. These are not even discussed in our meetings. None of the “influence” proposed was done from the pulpit, it was done through the process of individual rights of voters—which, is what America has always been about. If that frightens someone, that people can go to the poles and defeat unwanted ideas, movements and proposals, then perhaps America is not their country.
    Comment #2: “Good stuff thanks!” Roland
    Response: Thank you. Glad you enjoy the blog.
    Comment #3: “Incredible! It brings tears into my eyes! Thank you for your amazing comments. You have answered a lot of questions about Nephi's temple. I can't wait to visit the place” Flamengo.
    Response: I would have loved to have seen it after Nephi finished it. What a remarkable thing it must have been.
    Comment #4: “What tribes of Israel did the Nephites , Lamanites, Mulekites and Zoramites belong to?” Jonathan C.
Response: Elder Erastus Snow said that “Joseph Smith informed them” that Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh, and Ishmael was a descendant of Ephraim, which tells us that the Nephites and the Lamanites were of the tribe of Joseph (left: Joseph blessing Ephraim and Manasseh). Mulek, of course, was the son of Zedekiah, of the tribe of Judah and the last king of Judah; however, those who came with him, while probably all of that tribe, we cannot say for certain and have no scriptural confirmation of their descendancy.
    As for Zoram, I am unaware of any scriptural statement as to Zoram’s tribal descendancy, however, being in Jerusalem and Laban’s highly trusted servant, one might consider him a Jew or of the house of Judah. However, according to the law of Moses under which Lehi’s family lived (2 Nephi 5:10), as did all those in the Book of Mormon (Alma 25:15) up to the time of Christ (3 Nephi 12:19), the law stated that “for only in the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry” (Numbers 36:6), which is verified in “thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father's brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them” (Numbers 27:6). The passing on of the patriarch’s property of a family was extremely important in Israel, and if this was the case with Ephraim and Ishmael, then it makes sense that Zoram was from the tribe of Joseph, perhaps even Ephraim. But again, we do not know that.
Looking at it a different way, Lehi, and his four sons, became the heads of five families of the half tribe of Manasseh, while Ishmael and his two sons became the heads of three families of the half tribe of Ephraim. All eight of these families were 100% of the tribe of Joseph, divided equally between Manasseh and Ephraim. That leaves Zoram. His descendants would have been half from the tribe of Ephraim through his wife (the oldest daughter of Ishmael), the other half through his own lineage—which most likely would have been Manasseh, or at least Ephraim—which seems borne out by the statement in the Doctrine and Covenants 3:16-18.
    Comment #3: “There is one problem which keeps popping up in regards to the dividing of the land south and north and that is the Jaredite records in the book of Ether. It seems to indicate that there were no poisonous snakes in the land north but many in the land south and that for a time they were so abundant in the border region that travel to the land south were lethal” Thomas.
    Response: You need to take another look at Ether. Writing about the events occurring in the Land Northward—the land of the Jaredites—he writes (Ether 9:30): “And there came forth poisonous serpents also upon the face of the land,” and these serpents or snakes “did poison many people.” Now “came forth” does not mean they entered the land from elsewhere—the word is defined as “happens or occurs as a result of something,” which we are told was the result of “there began to be a great dearth [drought] upon the land…for there was no rain upon the face of the earth” and “the inhabitants began to be destroyed exceedingly fast” (Ether 9:30). 
The snakes obviously caused panic among the animals, which “flocks began to flee before the poisonous serpents, towards the land southward” (Ether 9:31). Thus the snakes and animals were in the Land Northward, the land of the Jaredites, with the surviving animals fleeing into the Land Southward (Ether 9:32), while the snakes stopped in the narrow neck of land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward to keep the people following the animals from entering the Land Southward (Ether 9:33).

Monday, December 15, 2014

More Comments from Readers - Part V

These are more comments that we have received on this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “Despite the insistence of the Book of Mormon that many parts have been taken away from the Bible, the New Testament makes it very clear that this would never be permitted by God: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Mt. 5:18). Also, Joseph Smith stated that the Book of Mormon was the most correct book written, yet it is filled with mistakes, and not just grammar. Take, for instance in the 1830 edition: “Yea, if my days could have been in them days, then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness of my brethren. But behold, I am consigned that these are my days “Helaman 7:8, 9).” The Mormon editors caught the first error and changed "them" to "these," but left "consigned," which should have been changed to "resigned," but was not.
    Response: In the first example, Matthew was telling us that the law of God would remain the law, no matter what, till heaven and earth pass away—in fact, he says, “not one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” He did not say a word or phrase or entire meaning might not be removed from the writing, but that it will not be removed from the law of God, no matter what. The purpose of his statement is to assure us that God is the same yesterdays, today and forever, and that his law and word is the same yesterday, today and forever, and will not pass away until it is all fulfilled.

In the second example, Joseph Smith was referring to the value of the Book of Mormon to draw a person closer to God than any other book. His comment, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book,” was not about the perfection of the writing, but the perfection of the doctrine—perhaps if you read it with spiritual intent, you might understand this.
    As for the example of “them” instead of “these,” you might want to study the English language in 1830—there were no rules for grammar, and there was no correct or incorrect spelling of words. People, very important and educated people, still spelled differently than we do today—quite often phonetically. As for the word “consign,” you might want to look it up.
    The word means “to deliver something to a person’s custody,” ”to give to the care of another,” “to entrust” “to turn over permanently to another’s charge or to a lasting condition.”
Nephi read upon the Brass Plates about a more righteous time in the history of the Hebrews with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and others
    Now suppose, after Nephi seeing all the iniquity of his day, and having the records of a former day when the people were far more righteous, was lamenting his placement in the flow of time, saying “I would rather have been born then, but I was not, for the Lord has placed me here, and I am consigned to that,” meaning:
    1. “to deliver something to a person’s custody,”—he is delivering himself into the custody of God;
    2. ”to give to the care of another,”—he is giving himself unto the care of God;
    3. “to entrust”—he is entrusting himself to God’s care and decision;
    4. “to turn over permanently to another’s charge or to a lasting condition”—he is turning over himself permanently to God’s charge, to God’s lasting purposes.
    How we use phrases, sentences, and meaning today has not always been the case in English, let alone in other languages. Nephi is consigning himself to God—not resigning himself, but consigning himself. The two carry very different commitments and very different meanings—and is an example to us all!
    Comment #2: “I read where: ‘Nephite-type forts found to either side of this ancient pass [a foot bridge over Lake Tonawanda] helps solidify its importance during primitive times, and the likelihood that it was the narrow neck mentioned in the scriptures. E.G. Squire found an unbroken chain of no fewer than twenty ancient fortifications which stretched from the lake ridge southward to the Buffalo River, (the proposed river Sidon), a distance of 50 miles, the reason undoubtedly being the need to protect and facilitate those crossing the narrow neck into the land northward, and the reverse.’ That sounds pretty convincing to me” Carter B.
    Response: Vincent Coon mentions these forts in connection with defending his narrow neck of land, a path about fifty feet wide over the ancient Lake Tonawanda between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. First of all, twenty forts on a 50-mile line would not have been needed to protect or defend this very narrow path across the Batavia Moraine and would have been a costly and totally unnecessary waste of time, money, resources and personnel to build and maintain.
Top: The Narrow Neck across the ancient LakeTonawanda, which would lead into a very tiny Land Northward; Bottom; Gates or narrow openings between high walls would have been all that was needed to defend the Batavia Moraine from anyone passing through it
    Secondly, if defending this narrow path was the intent of building a fort, all the Nephites would have needed to do was build one fort, wall, or gate across the entrance to this path where access to the land beyond would have had to go through the fort—a type of fortification that was not unknown in the ancient world when simply guarding a small, singular and very narrow entrance between two important areas.
    Thirdly, the forts the Nephites built in the scriptural record were much further south in the Land Southward to guard the northern approaches to the Land of Zarahemla along the border of the narrow strip of wilderness (Alma 50:11) and also around their cities (Alma 49:13). There are only a few activities mentioned around the Narrow Neck of Land, and that is the building of a city by the Jaredites (Ether 10:20); Hagoth’s shipyards (Alma 63:5); the Treaty Mormon signed with the Lamanties and Robbers (Mormon 2:28), and then the battles between Mormon’s army and the Lamanites near the city of Desolation when the Lamanites broke the treaty, beginning with Mormon gathering his people there (Mormon 3:5).
    There simply is no mention, suggestion or implication that the Nephites built any forts near the narrow neck of land at any time, since most of the first 950 years or so basically took place in the Land Southward from the Land of Nephi to the Land of Zarahemla, not reaching the Land of Bountiful until sometime in the last century B.C., and no battles are recorded there other than that of a few Nephite defectors, such as Morianton.
    Comment #3: “If science was right all along about the dominant Siberian ancestry of American Indians, are they also right about the timing of their entry? There is abundant evidence, some now coming from the DNA research, that their [American Indian] Siberian ancestors arrived over 12,000 years ago. How does such a date fit with other LDS beliefs?" Trevor F.
    Response: Three points: 1) Science has yet to be “right all along,” in almost any category of archaeology, anthropology, settlement patterns, etc. We have written numerous times about this (see the book Scientific Fallacies & Other Myths). 2) Ancient DNA research is again and again shown to be inaccurate and has to be changed, updated, etc., as new and larger samples become available to scientific study (see earlier blog series “DNA and the American Indian – Parts I & II,” March 1, 2, 2013; “Comments from our DNA Series – Parts 1-4,”April 24-27, 2013); 3) Since there was a Great Flood that engulfed the entire planet, dated by information the Lord dictated to Moses, in 2344 B.C., about 4350 years ago, the value of anything that took place prior to that time would be questionable, especially anything regarding records, movement, settlements, migratory patterns, etc.
Not even DNA, since everyone on the planet came through Noah and his wife, basically with their DNA, which all came from Canaan through Mesopotamia (with the addition of Ham’s wife somewhere in that vicinity). These three points, then, make science and science’s claim not only wrong, but irrelevant.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Answers to Reader's Comments - Part IV

Here are more comments that we have received on this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “I’m not trying to be contrary here, but where exactly does the Book of Mormon state that the Sidon River flowed north as you claim?  We know it had east/west banks, making it possible to narrow down the direction it flowed as either north or south, but how do you know positively that the river ran north?  The fact is, nowhere in the Book of Mormon does it state that the river flows north or south, and this makes a huge difference in some of your criticisms of other land of promise models” Georgia C.
Response: Let me answer you with two scriptures: 1) Alma 22:27: “the king sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west -- and thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided.”
    This inserted statement by Mormon is meant to give us a clear picture of the land of the Lamanites. In this explanation, Mormon mentions a narrow strip of wilderness, which is the border or line or boundary between the Land of Nephi (Lamanite lands) and the Land of Zarahemla (Nephite lands). Obviously, this strip is to the south of the Land of Zarahemla and to the north of the Land of Nephi, for the “Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness” (Alma 22:29). In addition, in this narrow strip of wilderness was the “head” or “headwaters” of the river Sidon, placing it to the south of the Land of Zarahemla.
    2) Alma 2:15: “And it came to pass that the Amlicites came upon the hill Amnihu, which was east of the river Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla, and there they began to make war with the Nephites.”
    Obviously then, the river Sidon ran past the land of Zarahemla. Since the Land of Zarahemla was to the north of the narrow strip of wilderness where the river Sidon had its headwaters, the river had to run northward from this narrow strip past the Land of Zarahemla on the north in its course to the sea—where it went after passing the Land of Zarahemla is not stated other than to the sea.
    Thus, with its headwaters to the south, the river Sidon could only flow northward in order to run past the Land of Zarahemla.
    Comment #2: “What makes you think the sons of Ishmael had children. The text doesn’t say that” Max T.
Nephi talks to Ishmael and his family about joining Lehi in the wilderness. At this time, Ishmael’s sons had families
    Response: Nephi writes: “and the two sons of Ishmael and their families” (1 Nephi 7:6). And their families translates to children.
    Comment #3: “While one, two, a few, or a fair amount of these "explanations" might plausibly account for some of the amazing Book of Mormon coincidences, at some point they can't ALL be explained away. If we are to believe the critics, then the literally thousands of "plausible explanations" should really start to make us question the fabric of the space-time continuum and the metaphysical structure of the universe! If we are to explain away the Book of Mormon using every one of the objections to amazing BOM coincidences, then Joseph Smith's genius exceeds Einsteins and Shakespeare's collective genius by several orders of magnitude. Which is preposterous. At some point, you reach what is called "an orgy of evidence." Too many coincidences. Too many things to have to explain away. Too many things for one person to combine perfectly from a thousand disparate fields of study and knowledge. This "orgy of evidence" concept is not new in the defense of the Book of Mormon (although, I'm fairly certain my phrase hasn't been used before). However, what's becoming increasingly apparent is that Mormons WITHIN THE FOLD are themselves guilty of the same oversight at times. The Frederick Williams "coincidence" is just one of many. On its own, it ought to raise eyebrows pretty high. Combined with the wealth of supporting evidence for South America, someday people will be astounded that the saints ever believed it could have been anywhere else. But, not today. Someday, though. The orgy of evidence for SA is building, and it will continue to do so. We now live in a dispensation where the truth cannot be stopped or snuffed out like it was in the past. The truth, as Taleb puts it, is anti-fragile. With time and testing it only becomes stronger and more apparent. It's frustrating that one of the forces fighting it comes from within the BOM community itself, but at some point those forces will subside or give way to the superior weight of evidence. Keep up the good work” W.B.
    Response: Very well put. Court decisions and people’s lives have been decided on far less evidence.
    Comment #4: “Since the concept or commandment of tithing is an Old Testament requirement and not mentioned in the New Testament, nor in the Book of Mormon, why does your Church demand 10% tithe of its members?” Axelle C.
Response: First of all, like most, if not all Christians, you seem to see the Old Testament and New Testament as different religious practices. I wonder if you have ever wondered why it is called the Old Testament, and why it is called the New Testament? Both are testaments of the same thing—Jesus Christ. Both are records of God’s dealings with man. The Ten Commandments of the Old Testament are as much a part of the New Testament as any other doctrine.
    Christ said he came “not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it” (Matthew 5:17), and quoted six of the commandments to the rich young ruler for him to follow (Matthew 19:18-19), and stated the most important commandment (Matthew 22:37-38), and also said, “if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:16-17). The Apostle John said of the righteous “which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelations 12:17). Why people want to claim the Old Testament is not binding on us as is the New Testament is beyond my understanding.
    Secondly, the LDS Church does not demand anything of its members. There is a bar set by the Lord, which is found in the scriptures, and we are expected to live up to it the best we can. The bar set for tithing is found in the Old Testament–ten percent:
    When Abraham paid his tithes and offerings to the great High Priest, Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20), he apportioned a tenth part of everything (Hebrews 7:2; Alma 13:15); Jacob promised to give God a full tenth (Genesis 18:22); the tithe in Moses’s time was a tenth (Leviticus 27:30).
    Latter-day Saints pay tithing as an understanding that everything belongs to the Lord, and He only asks for 10% back—which is a pretty good deal for anyone. And, as Malachi preached (3:8), if we do not pay back the ten percent, then we are robbing God—a fact that at some time, no doubt, a toll will be extracted by the Lord for those who rob Him.