Monday, December 9, 2013

Was this Lehi's Route Across the Pacific? – Part V

To see L. Swayne Samuelson’s article, entitled Lehi in the Pacific, Powerful New Evidence for the Book of Mormon, and our responses to his points, go to the previous four posts. This post has to do with the overall reasons why Samuelson’s belief that both Lehi and Mulek island-hopping across the Pacific after traveling through Indonesia is simply not a viable path for either vessel to have taken.
    First of all, to sum up Samuelson’s points covered in the last four posts:
    1. Archaeological evidence shows that in so many cases, which is critically and extremely important to this issue, most of these islands and areas were not inhabited at the time of Lehi or Mulek’s claimed passing. In such a situation, even if Samuelson’s point could be correct, there would be no evidence today of any of this information, names, etc., since there was no one there to register it, or use the names after Lehi and Mulek passed by.
When an island or group of islands are uninhabited and a ship passes by, even if it lands for a short time, who would be around when the ship left the area (as Lehi’s and Mulek’s vessels would have done) to know a name was given, understand the meaning of the name, and repeat the name to others, and cause the name to last for 2600 years? The entire idea is preposterous
    2. We have to consider the value of a Hebrew name in the area of India and Thailand (ancient Siam), then down between Malaysia and Sumatra to Java. As we look at Samuelson’s claim of Lehi’s voyage through that area, suppose Lehi gave a name to a group of islands—who would have understood the Hebrew word, and who would have accepted that name in the first place? No one in this area spoke or understood Hebrew, so why would they have accepted a Hebrew name for their island, even if they understood it?
    3. We have to consider the survivability of names given in antiquity. What would have caused any name given by a passing ship to an island, a group of islands, or a sea to have remained for 2000 years or more by the time of the Age of Discovery and explorers hearing that name repeated it? For any name to continue over centuries, the people giving that name have to remain in the area, and their posterity remain there so the name takes hold and becomes repeated by others.
    4. Lehi named at least four places in his travels of which we know: Valley of Lemuel, River of Laban, Bountiful (in Arabia), and the Irreantum Sea. Not one of these names stuck to the area after Lehi passed on. No one outside readers of the Book of Mormon have ever heard of these places by those names.
    5. Captain James Cook, when he discovered Hawaii, named the archipelago the Sandwich Islands in honor of Lord Sandwich and it was logged throughout Europe at the time; however, though well known, that name remained less than 70 years before the original name given the area by the indigenous natives was reinstated by King Kamehameha in 1810, who named his country the Kingdom of Hawai’i.
    6. When the name of a place is imbedded in the local, indigenous language, it should be accepted that it was the name of an area and accept what the meaning is in that language.

Notice that for a ship to be driven forth before the wind requires three things: 1) the direction of the wind, 2) the direction of the current, and 3) the direction of the ship all moving in the same direction. If the ship was moving in the opposite direction of the wind and current during Lehi’s time, it would be driven backward, or at least make no forward progress
Now, having said all that, let us proceed with the entire idea of heading in the direction Samuelson claims both ships went. Nephi tells how his ship was propelled: “we did put forth into the sea and were driven forth before the wind towards the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:8). Now what does it mean to be driven forth before the wind? The origin and literal use of this phrase is nautical, and in nautical terms, “driven forth before the wind,” means “in the direction of the wind and by its impulse, having the wind aft.” The word before means “in front,” “ahead.” Other definitions are: “driven ahead of,” “being propelled forward.” Victor Hugo makes this idea clear in Les Miserables (1862) when he wrote that “clouds were driving before the wind,” which is a clear indication of something being driven before the wind. Mormon said it differently with the same result, “and they are driven about as chaff before the wind” (Mormon 5:16). We can easily picture clouds and chaff being driven by the wind—they go exactly where the wind takes them and nowhere else.
    Nephi also told us where his ship went since we only have to understand where the wind blew that propelled his ship. He also tells us when those winds affected his ship, “we did put forth into the sea and were driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8). That is, as soon as they shoved off in their ship, the wind began to drive it forward. So where do the winds blow along the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula?
    Every Atlas can tell us where those winds blow. So before showing where the winds would have blown Nephi’s ship, let us look at where the winds blow in the area of the Andaman Sea and Indonesia, as well as the islands along the path Samuelson claims Lehi went.

Note the dark arrows (summer months) blowing against the direction Samuelson sends both Lehi and Mulek’s ships; the gray arrows (winter months) also move in the wrong direction for his Indonesia passage

    Getting through Indonesia in a wind-driven vessel being driven forth before the wind would be extremely difficult. Ancient traders broached some of those winds by sailing close to the coast in coastal, flat-bottom vessels that were incapable of sailing in deep water because their hulls were weaker and could not take the constant pounding of waves in deep water. Nor would their flat bottomed designs withstand the rolling action of deep sea waves. However, making that trip in a deep sea vessel would be next to impossible, even with ships that sailed the seas during the Age of Discovery. Those professional seamen, for the most part, were unable to accomplish that, but Samuelson would have Lehi, with an inexperienced crew and not a single seaman among them, sail through these islands with their strong and violent currents, in opposition to the winds, as though it was not a problem at all.

Note the red arrows showing the winds along Samuelson’s predicted course—the entire direction he would have Lehi go is completely in opposition to the winds and currents. Blue arrows at the bottom show the circumpolar route of the Prevailing Westerlies and the West Wind Drift
    The problem is, many modern-day people are used to being able to go wherever they want because of engines in their boats and planes, roads for their cars, and paths to walk upon. Little thought is ever given to the kinds of restrictions of the past, especially in antiquity in weather sailing ships dependent upon the winds and ocean currents. The idea of island hopping in a deep-sea vessel through the South Pacific was so difficult for early explorers, many islands simply were not reachable and remained undiscovered for centuries. Much has been written on this blog over the years about this subject
    It was simply not possible for early man to sail just anywhere. The Polynesians who were such great navigators and seamen, were in small out-rigger canoe-type craft which sailed on top of the water and were highly maneuverable. However, even these were not capable of sailing many thousands of miles—Samoa to Hawaii, as an example is about 2500 miles; however, Arabia to the Western Hemisphere along the Southern Ocean is about 10,000 miles, and about 15,000 miles sailing along the equatorial bulge.
    Consequently, when we look at the reality of what Nephi said and compare it with the actual winds and currents of the oceans, the winds blow and the sea currents move from the Arabian coast to the western hemisphere along the Southern Ocean and, in fact, the only way a ship could have sailed between those two points being “driven forth before the wind.” Incidentally, it is also the shortest, fastest and most direct route between these two areas.

Lehi’s course from the southern Arabian coast to the Western Hemisphere where a ship leaving Arabia could sail immediately with the wind behind it clear to the Western Hemisphere. It is also much shorter than any other route, meaning a quicker passage, needing less supplies, etc.

No comments:

Post a Comment