Sunday, September 1, 2013

More Comments and Questions from Readers -- Part VIII

Here are some additional comments or questions sent in by readers of this website:
Comment #1: “Joseph Smith said that there are men living on the moon who dress like Quakers and live to be nearly 1000 years old. Since he was wrong about the moon, is it safe to trust him regarding the way to Heaven? (The Young Woman's Journal, Vol. 3, pages 263-264. See reprint in Mormonism --Shadow or Reality? by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, page 4.)” Dieter V.
Response: It is interesting that a statement made by one man, based upon another man’s unpublished comment, some fifty-five years after hearing it, has become a broad-based, and widely accepted matter. Oliver Boardman Huntington (far left), claims as his source, Philo Dibble (left), both members of the early Church, said that he recalled Joseph Smith saying that men lived on the moon, and described their attire and longevity.
Huntington was quoted in the Young Woman’s Journal, Vol 3, No 6, published in March 1892, under the heading: “Our Sunday Chapter: Inhabitants of the Moon,” pp 263-64. While critics claim this was a church publication, this volume was published five years before the journal was adopted (1897) as the official magazine for the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association.
In addition, Philo Dibble’s narrative “Early Scenes in Church History,” in his autobiography covering 1806-1843, and published by Bookcraft in 1968, pp 74-96, and ending one year before Joseph’s death, makes no mention of anything about the moon or quaker dress or Joseph’s alleged statement, other than listing waiting for the moonlight that was needed for a baptism, yet at the same time includes several comments regarding the prophet Joseph Smith. Hutington’s comment is taken from The History of Oliver B. Huntington, p. 10, typed copy, Marriott Library, University of Utah.
Though Huntington wrote of this, he used Philo Dibble as his source. In other words, Huntington never heard Joseph Smith say this at all. Nor do we have any testimony or writing from Philo Dibble that he heard Joseph say this. The reference is an article in Sunstone, printed by Sunstone Education Foundation, a magazine claiming to be a vehicle for free and frank exchange, which tries to pass itself off as an arm, or at least an accepted publication and organization of the LDS Church, and though it claims to bring together traditional and non-traditional Latter-day Saints, its many articles are far into the non-traditional LDS camp.
Critics also quote Daniel Arion Vogel, born 1955, the author of a number of books relating to early Mormon history, and a former member of the Church, but now an avowed atheist and a skeptic, who considers Joseph Smith a pious fraud. His attitude has been likened to that of Korihor (left) by FARMS' author Stephen E. Robinson. Vogel, in his writing about Joseph Smith, quotes Huntington as his source about men living on the moon.
It all simply boils down to one man writing an article about something claimed to have been said by Joseph Smith, using a source that he claims to have heard say the statement, of which there is no record by the man.
It is always interesting that someone, anyone, would choose to pass on and make issues out of such an unproven, and unprovable, statement, attributed to a man as having said it 55 years before the first record of it having been said. Such a remark is called unsubstantiated hearsay in court, and as such would be thrown out of every court in the land as “hearsay evidence.”
Comment #2: Distances in the Book of Mormon are given in terms of days of travel. Moreover, many named cities are mentioned, sometimes with their approximate directional relationship to others. When one looks at the time stated to travel all the way from the southernmost part to the north, it is only a matter of weeks (Mosiah 23:3, 20,25), which implies that the greatest dimension of the entire area is only a few hundred miles” Marcio.
Response: Mosiah 23:3 says they were fleeing for 8 days. How fast were they moving? Mosiah 23:20, 25, have nothing to do with distance, they talk about Alma and his group being in the land of Helam where they built a city, and that a Lamanite army approaches them in Helam while they are tilling their land. Hardly the fodder for a distance evaluation. Nor can we use the overall 21 days (Mosiah 23:3; 24:20; 24:25) it took to go from the Waters of Mormon (Mosiah 18:30) to the land of Zarahemla, since no one can say how fast they traveled, over what kind of terrain, and how long the distance was for the travel. And, other than the day and a half journey across the narrow neck of land mentioned in Alma 22:32, there are no other descriptions of distance. Certainly, no one can say with any confidence at all how far anything was from anything else in terms of miles.
In addition, when it is said, “When one looks at the time stated to travel all the way from the southernmost part to the north,” they are assuming the Waters of Mormon were in the southernmost part of the land, however, the waters of Mormon were outside the city of Lehi-Nephi (Mormon 18:4-5), which was originally called the City of Nephi, and that was "many days" travel to the north of where they first landed (2 Nephi 5:7). And while the Waters of Mormon were outside the City of Nephi, we don’t know how far, or how long it took to travel from the city to the waters. Nor, do we know where Alma’s 21-day journey ended, for it says after 21 days they reached the land of Zarahemla (Mosiah 24:25). For all we know, that may have been yet some distance from the city of Zarahemla.
So all we know from this 21-day journey, is that Alma traveled from the Waters of Mormon, which exact spot is unknown, to the land of Zarahemla, at what spot in that land we don’t know. Or, stated differently, Alma began from an unknown spot and traveled to another unknown spot in 21 days. Now, how helpful is that in determining distances of the Land of Promise? Finally, when it is said, “When one looks at the time stated to travel all the way from the southernmost part to the north,” where in the north are we talking about?  Zarahemla, even the city of Zarahemla, is some distance south of the Land of Bountiful, which is south of the narrow neck of land, which is south of the Land of Desolation, which is south of Cumorah and the Land of Many Waters, which is south of the Ripliancum sea, the furthest point north in the Land of Promise mentioned.
Consequently, it might be said that the distance from the City of Nephi to the City of Zarahemla covers only a small portion of the Land of Promise. If that distance is only “a few hundred miles,” then how far is it from the first landing to the Ripliancum sea?
Comment #3: “Lehi blessed Sam that his seed would inherit the land like unto Nephi’s and his seed would be numbered with Nephi’s. While, in the Book of Mormon, Sam’s name gets lost as a branch of the people, in the indigenous literature it does not appear to have been lost. Rather, it is Nephi’s tribe that looses its unique identity” Hayden
Response: It is not that Nephi’s descendants lost their uniqueness, but were expanded to encompass much more than just their own tribe, somewhat like everyone in Jerusalem, etc., now are called Jews even though their actual tribe might be different, but especially Dan who was absorbed into Judah. Lehi’s actual blessing was to grant to Sam all the blessings conferred upon Nephi—none of his other sons were given such a privilege. Obviously, Sam was a very obedient and righteous individual, but evidently one who preferred living in the background and supporting Nephi to the end (like Joseph Smith’s brother, Hyrum).


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  2. In response to comment #1.. I would like to add that if one were to do a search on google for moon hoax of 1835.. you would see that there was published in a New York newspaper, 6 articles written about a new discovery!!! Life on the moon! The articles described fantastic animals on the Moon, including bison, goats, unicorns, bipedal tail-less beavers and bat-like winged humanoids ("Vespertilio-homo") who built temples. There were trees, oceans and beaches. These discoveries were supposedly made with "an immense telescope of an entirely new principle."

    People believed this and don't think that the Saints were immune to newspaper stories. A prophet is only a prophet when he is acting like one. Which means.. when God is giving you revelation.. you are a prophet. When he gives you NO revelation about a particular topic.. then you are on your own and anything you have to say is of whatever you believe at the time and of your own opinion. There has been no verification from God. And we all know how silent God can be about trivial things as life being discovered on the moon.

    If Joseph did say anything about it.. and I use the word IF.. it was probably due to these articles. He could have been relaying what he knew had been written.. or been guessing what he would think they would be like. Either way.. the critics of the Church have a false notion that every word that falls from the mouth of the Prophet is revelation from God. This just is not true folks.

  3. No doubt these articles may well have inspired the 37-year-old French author, Jules Vern's 1865 novel "De la terre a la lune," ["From the Earth to the Moon"] in his Voyages Extraordinaries, this being the fourth in that series, which was published in the U.S. in 1867. A concept, voyaging to the moon, by the way, that swept around the world at the time. While there is no evidence Joseph ever said any such thing regarding people on the moon, such stories did spark the imagination of many, many people in the mid-1800s.