Tuesday, February 4, 2014

More Comments Answered Part VI

Continuing with more comments from viewers of our website, and our responses:
    Comment #1: “Why are you and others so intent on having a map of the Land of Promise? Is one really necessary to our study of the Book of Mormon—it seems like it would be distracting” Michal O.
    Response: Since Mormon took the time to insert a description of the land, not only for our benefit to better understand the land the Lamanite king controlled and sent out his proclamation to (Alma 22), but also so that his future reader would better be able to understand the events throughout Alma, Helaman, and 3 Nephi, that were to follow leading up to the destruction at the time of the crucifixion—all of which, to him, was far in the past. Obviously, since he had read all the records, and had his own views looking back over the 1000 year history, he could see what might be of benefit to his future reader. Personally, I think it behooves us to pay attention to his insights—I have certainly found them beneficial in understanding all that flows through the scriptural record.
    Comment #2: “As a scientist, when I read the Lord touched stones and they gave permanent light both day and night, I closed the Book of Mormon and decided this was foolish. Stones don’t give light!” Adler.
Response: I have read where certain stones of radium and polonium glow in the dark. It is claimed that other stones, when pressured, can give light. And obviously, phosphorescent minerals in rocks glow or provide light. Minerologist George Frederick Kunz included stories about glowing stones in his 1913 book The Curious Lore of Precious Stones (pp168-170). For example, a treatise written in 1675 by physician Christiani Mentzel, concerns a phosphorescent stone discovered in 1604 and called the Bologna or lunar stone, which, in the dark, would give off the light it had received from the sun. The book also cites experiments by Kunz and others two centuries earlier in which certain diamonds were made to glow in the dark. In fact, precious stones exposed to cathode rays or to radium produce a glow. 
   The point, however, is not what stones can do, but what the Lord can do—the same God who created the universe, who created stars, quasars, galaxies, and who is “the light of the world” (John 8:12), and who turns darkness into light (Psalm 18:28; 2 Samuel 22:29), can certainly cause a stone to give forth light. It is a shame that man throughout history has always tried to place restrictions on what the Lord can do. However, God is omnipotent, which is a word taken from Latin Omni Potens, which means “all powerful.” That is, He has unlimited power. Why man tries to limit his power is beyond my imagination, and is more than being arrogant—it sets one up to believe he is smarter than the Lord.
    Comment #3: “I read where V. Garth Norman wrote in his introduction to Book of Mormon geographic history: “The validity of scientific thought does not rest on the authority of individuals, but on the authority of empirical observation, which the student should prayerfully ponder in the quest for truth.” What exactly does he mean by that?” Garth B.
    Response: A good question. While one cannot crawl into his mind to answer that, we should look at what he is trying to prove. This is part of his “Mesoamerica & Book of Mormon Lands study Map,” which he claims “establishes the big picture, and provides a base map for progressive study.” The problem is that an empirical observation is “based on our observations of the world rather than on intuition, faith, reasoning, or appeals to authority.” So if we remove “faith, reasoning, and authority,” which in this case, must be the Book of Mormon and Mormon’s writing, then exactly what do we have?
Dallin H. Oaks, in a general conference address said, “The idea that all important knowledge is based on scientific evidence is simply untrue. While there are some “evidences” for gospel truths…scientific methods will not yield spiritual knowledge” (April 2008).
    The problem is, so many people believe in the Mesoamerican model to be representative of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise, though they do not question it being skewed about 90º off alignment of Mormon’s description of a north-south land as he outlines in Alma 22:27-34. It is hard to imagine how one can support Norman’s map (below) as an accurate model of the Land of Promise since it simply does not agree with Mormon’s placement and directions.
Norman’s map of Mesoamerica with Book of Mormon places inserted. Basically, among other problems of error is his Land Northward is to the west rather than to the north, and his Land Southward is to the east rather than to the south; he has two east seas, one of which is to the north, and a west sea that is to the south, etc., etc., etc.
    It seems rather arrogant for someone who cannot align his model of the Land of Promise to those descriptions Mormon so carefully left for us so we could understand the land upon which the Nephites and Lamanites lived and fought, to then tell us how we should understand the scriptural record. To me, the scriptural record is superior to science, since it is an actual historical writing describing some events that took place over two thousand years ago of which we have no other record. What a find it is both spiritually and intellectually, as well as physically. It is the kind of record that were it not about the spirit and God's dealing with man, archaeologists and scientists would drool over in the pursuit of their achievements and knowledge.
    Comment #4: “I was doing my geneology and in some of my research came upon a statement made where my forefather, who was an Indian in Alabama, wrote that his ancestors came over from Asia and landed upon the Isthmus of Darien. I am LDS and was always under the impression that Lehi had landed on the coast of Peru. This ancestor of mine had made this comment in 1822, before the prophet Joseph had even received the golden plates for translation’. What do you think?” Sherard A.
    Response: I love these reports about ancestors and their stories. When my second son was a district leader on his mission in the back country of Andean Venezuela, two sister missionaries in his district came across an old Indian gentleman who, after being given the Book of Mormon said during their follow-up meeting that he had heard all those stories before when he was a young lad from the lips of his fathers. He said his name was “Neffi” (Nephi) and that the oldest in his family had always been called Neffi for generations as far back as he knew, and that his ancestors had come to Venezuela from Peru. As for your story, hand-me-down family stories, like legends and myth, generally have a lot of truth to them. While Lehi could not have landed on the coast of Peru, since there is no climate anywhere along there in which seeds from Jerusalem would have grown so abundantly (the landing had to be in a Mediterranean Climate like that of Jerusalem, which places it at 30º South Latitude, or in the Bay of Coquimbo, La Serena, Chile) they traveled up to Peru when Nephi fled from his brothers. Hagoth’s ships obviously went north into “a land which was northward” and landed in Central America.
    Comment #5: “Why do the lands of Peru, Ecuador, etc., seem to date back so far into B.C. times. I read about these ancient civilizations to 3000 B.C., 2000 B.C., 1000 B.C., etc. I thought you claimed Lehi landed there in 600 B.C.” Renfred S.
    Response: We’ve written about this before, but the point is that archaeologists and anthropologist, as well as other scientists have their formulas of people and civilization development that pass through numerous stages. They do not accept, under any circumstances, a culture appearing suddenly out of nowhere, so when they find such a culture, they create backward development stages they claim had to have occurred. So Lehi’s landing and establishment as a new culture in the Land of Promise is not within their understanding, so they create backward from there, somethings a thousand years or more. The same is true with Jaredites, etc. 
Left: Noah preaching repentance to a mocking world; Right: The Lord destroyed the evil world with a Flood, only those on the Ark survived
    It might also be understood that the world was well populated between the time of Adam and the time of Noah's Flood--a period of over twenty-five hundred years. That civilization disappeared with the Flood, however, there is bound to be some evidence of it in places buried in the ground in various areas of the world. Since science and archaeology do not accept a world created by God some 13,000 years ago or so, they see such ancient artifacts as evidence of a continuous existence of man dating back many thousands of years.

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