Monday, February 3, 2014

More Comments Answered Part V

Continuing with more comments on our website and our responses:
    Comment #1: “You recently posted a series on “It’s Past Time to Bury the Big Bang,” which was informative; however, you did not list many references. As an example, you stated that ‘galaxies would require roughly the age of the universe to assemble into the largest structures like superclusters and walls” and that it would take “in excess of 100 billion years” which have no references; nor did “strong evidence that quasar redshifts are intrinsic.” Do you have references for these and several other uncited points?” Quentin.
    Response: The posts you mention have over fifty citings; however, space in posts is not conducive to list very many references. Our original article had 67 references, but we paired it down for the blog. As for the three you mentioned, the remark about “superclusters and walls” is referenced to Science Magazine, 2001, issue 291, pp 579-581; “100 billion years” is E.J. Lerner, The Big Bang Never Happened, Random House, New York, 1991, pp. 23 & 28; and the one on quasar redshifts are intrinsic is found in The Astrophysics Journal, 2002, issue 566, pp 705-711. We will send the entire article to those who request it.
    “Comment #2: “Regarding the command level groups of 10,000 in Mormon’s account of the last battle, I read that ancient militaristic texts, including those of the Bible, frequently exaggerated the numbers involved in battle for their own propagandistic purposes, or to simply convey the general concept of 'a very large number'. Very large numbers in the scriptures should always be taken with a grain of salt, since ancient authors (having their own purposes and approach) did not use such terms with the same precision as a modern military historian. It has also been noted that "so-and-so and his 10,000" may use the term "10,000" as a designation for a military unit. Roman armies had "centuries" (or centuria) which were lead by a "centurion," which implies a hundred men. While such units originally had 100 men, the normal size of such units (even at full strength) was only 60–80 men. Also, at the time of the Spanish Conquest, Bernal Diaz described Tlascalan armies in the same terms: “Of the followers of the old Xicotenga . . . there were ten thousand; of another great chief named Moseescaci there were another ten thousand; of a third, who was called Chichimecatecle, there were as many more...” Without further information, it is difficult to know whether the Book of Mormon uses the term literally, in a symbolic/propagandist sense to convey a great number of dead, or as a technical military term familiar to Mormon and Moroni but opaque to the modern reader” Maxime.
A Roman Centurion and his Centuria, or legion of 100 men
    Response: First of all, a full strength Roman centuria, was made up of 10 Contubernium, called a squad or unit, with each Contubernium having 8 men, making a centuria at full strength a total of 80 men. Two Centuria was called a Maniple Unit, meaning “handful,” and equaled 170 men at full strength. Three Maniples (6 Centuria), called a Corhortal, (Cohor or Cohort), which totaled 510 men at full strength, and finally, ten Cohorts made up a Legio (Legion, called a Phalanx before 400 B.C.) was at full strength with 5200 men. Attached auxiliary units composed of non Roman Citizens (archers, slingers, "Ala"-cavalry) could bring the manpower of a mid to late First Century Legion to about 5400 men). During combat situations or campaigns where several battles were fought, there was no way of replacing fallen soldiers and by the time the campaign was completed, a Legion could be as few as 4000 men, and other units less respectively. The belief that a Centuria had 100 men stems from its original organization, but by 100 B.C. it was reduced to 60 men at full strength and optimally in Caesar’s time it had 80 men. Centuria comes from centum, meaning one hundred, and initially was used in the political voting unit called the centuriate comices (comitia centuriata) and taken up by the military. The actual concept of the military Centuria was the full strength 80 man units, with the other 20 men non-combatants attached for administrative, logistical or other purposes within the legion. Therefore, it cannot be said that Mormon’s 23 field commanders had understaffed units and the 10,000 each was not an accurate count based upon the Roman factors used.
Secondly, there is no way of knowing the answers to such comments; however, rather than look for ancient records to be incorrect, why not just accept them as being written? Secondly, the idea of Mormon describing his losses in terms of an “exaggerated text,” someone would have to explain to me why he would do that. Mormon was writing to an unknown reader(s) in the far distant future—what benefit would it be to list inaccurate, fudged, or exaggerated numbers? One would also have to explain to me why a prophet writing in the Bible would exaggerate numbers “for their own propagandistic purposes”? I can see where such a tactic would help MacArthur to say he had a million men for a landing on the Philippines, but only if the Japanese defending the islands were to have access to the propaganda. In Vietnam, enemy dead were exaggerated for propaganda purposes for the “folks back home.” But biblical and especially Book of Mormon exaggerations of troop size sounds absurd. Third, I’m not sure I would trust a “modern military historian’s” figures any more than numbers used anciently. However, to suggest that the actual numbers used in the Book of Mormon are suspect, there is absolutely nothing anywhere to suggest this but someone’s opinion. To make an issue out of a personal opinion is far short of accepted scholarship.
Fourth, the fact that military units in modern times seldom were at full strength for battles is obviously true—however, when units are first formed, they are formed at full strength. In the course of battles, that full strength number is lowered merely because of casualties that cannot always be replaced until, hopefully, when a unit is recycled (taken off the front lines for a time before reinsertion); however, there is no indication that the Nephites had units of any particular size since no mention of any military unit sizes are mentioned anywhere in the scriptural record. Lastly, when we talk about Mormon’s 10,000 strong subunits, we need to keep in mind that Mormon is telling us two things: 1) He is mourning the loss of his men over whom he was the supreme commander—to exaggerate numbers would be meaningless since it is his mourning he wrote about, not the strength of his army. As he wrote: “And my soul was rent with anguish, because of the slain of my people” (Mormon 6:16); and 2) While Mormon is telling us that he had 10,000-man subunits under the commands of his field commanders, he also tells us that these men had their wives and children with them (Mormon 6:7). If we are talking about military numbers, the women and children would never have been included in such tally numbers, therefore, the numbers, even if at less than full strength, would still have exceeded the numbers listed. Lastly, it is sad that people today want to cloud the issue of ancient writing by talking about so many variations that can in no way be explained or discarded, yet add nothing to any understanding and, in fact, do nothing but cause questions in people’s minds that are both unnecessary and unfounded.
    Comment #3: “Why is there no tribe of Sam? Even Jacob and Joseph, whose descendants are referred to as Nephites, were also called by their individual tribe names” Madison A.
Response: For some reason, unknown to us, Lehi determined that Sam’s descendants should be considered the same as Nephi’s descendants, saying in his blessing to Sam (left): “Blessed art thou, and thy seed; for thou shalt inherit the land like unto thy brother Nephi. And thy seed shall be numbered with his seed; and thou shalt be even like unto thy brother, and thy seed like unto his seed; and thou shalt be blessed in all thy days” (2 Nephi 4:11). This blessing was not given to Lehi’s other sons, just to Sam. And it was a magnificent blessing to a son of whom we know almost nothing—but that he would share equally in the blessings of the land with his erstwhile brother, Nephi. Why Lehi wanted these two son’s descendants mingled into one is not explained.

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