Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part IX

Continuing with Dan R. Hender’s article about the Lehi’s landing site at 30º south latitude and his belief that it is not correct and more of myth than truth. 
    Hender: “So where they [animals] came from is not ascertainable thus leaving gaps in the logic of fit.”
    Response: Of course it is ascertainable, and there are no gaps in the scriptural record regarding the animals Nephi found and from where they came.
1. There was a Flood that killed every living thing on the planet except those in the Ark (Genesis 7:21-23)
2. The Ark settled after the Flood on Mt. Ararat near Mesopotamia, where life was renewed once again (Genesis 8:4)
3. The Jaredites were commanded to gather all their flocks and herds (Ether 1:41), which they brought within barges to the Land of Promise (Ether 6:4)
4. After the waters had receded from off the face of this land, the land of promise, it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof—therefore the land was barren of man and animal after the Flood (Ether 13:2)
5. The Jaredites had all their animals in the Land Northward after they landed (Ether 9:17-19)
6. Some of these animals were driven into the Land Southward (Ether 9:32)
7. When Lehi landed in the Land of Promise, there were animals on the land (1 Nephi 18:25)
Just where else would you have the animals come from that Lehi found, if not from the only other people upon the face of the Land of Promise that we know the Lord led there?
    Hender: “For one thing there are no such forest lands near that landing site…
    Response: This has been covered extensively, but they say a picture is worth a thousand words:
The Fray Jorje National Forest in La Serena, Chile, within walking distance of where Lehi landed at 30º south latitude—the largest temperate forest in all of South America
    For those who have trouble identifying the picture, it is of a forest. It is in the La Serena area of Chile, within view of the coast, and right along the area Lehi landed at 30º south latitude.
    Hender: “…and for another the domestic animals couldn't just appear out of thin air so to speak.”
    Response: It is interesting that Hender uses the term "domestic" animals--a term not used in the scriptures. We need to keep in mind, that Nephi was describing to us animals he found in the wild. He said, “we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men” (1 Nephi 18:25). He does not separate domestic and non-domestic animals. However, of course, cows and goats are generally considered domestic, but the ox, ass and horse, along with the wild goat, are not domestic until someone domesticates them. And cows, left on their own for generations, and found in the wild, are not the same as cows one might pasture and milk.
Top Leftx: There are wild feral (not habituated with humans) cattle (cows) in south Texas; Top Right: also found in central Florida; Bottom Right: and along the upper plat and Mogollon Rim of Arizona; Bottom Right: as well as in Venezuela. The females are all referred to as cows (cattle collectively)
    On the other hand, domestic cows Bos primigenius exist in the billions but their wild ancestors died out by 1627; other species of wild cow, which are listed by the IUCN, have not been seen since 1980s. In 2009, a herd of gaurs, a rare kind of wild cattle today, were discovered still living in Southeast Asia, and a breed called Chillingham Cattle have been found to be living in an undisturbed area of Northumberland, England since the Middle Ages.
    There are places in the world where what we call domesticated animals run in the wild, are not habituated with humans, and do well, including cattle (cows) and though we call them gentle breeds, they can be quite dangerous in their wild state. In addition, for those who might not study animals, a “wild ox,” unlike what most people might think is a casterated bull, is actually any of various wild bovines especially of the genera Bos or closely related Bibos—wild and domestic cattle, and are of the Bovidae family, i.e., true antelopes, cattle, oxen, sheep, and goats.
Top Left: A gaur is a massive wild ox; Top Right: The Urochs, a wild ox, recently reclassified by the ITIS as Bos Taurus, the same species as domestic cattle; Middle Left: A wild goat; Middle Right: A (domestic) goat; Bottom Left: A Wild Ass in its natural habitat; Bottom
Middle: (Female) Wild Cow; Bottom Right: Wild (Chilling) cows in England
    Hender: “endHenAn Alternative Logical and Reasonable Site That Is Attributable to Joseph Smith is that Lehi landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien.”
Once again, a little south of the Isthmus of Darien (Panama) is the Darien Gap, a 4,592-square-mile impassable jungle that not even the 16,000 mile Pan American highway from Alaska to Chile could build through--a fact not known to Americans in Joseph Smith's time 
    Response: As has been covered in numerous earlier posts of this blog, the Isthmus of Darien in no way fits the scriptural record. Hender gets his backing of this idea from The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p 267, which states: "...Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land, and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien,..."
    First of all, this book was written by his great-nephew, Joseph Fielding Smith, and was a collection of gospel principles discussed by the prophet. It was not a book about geography. On page 267, the reference given was under the heading “Facts Are Stubborn Things—Greatness of the Jaredites and Nephites.” This begins with “From an extract from “Stephen’s Incidents of Travel in Central America,” it will be seen that the proof of the Nephites and Lamanites dwelling on this continent, according to the account in the book of Mormon, is developing itself in a more satisfactory way than the most sanguine believer in that revelation could have anticipated (p 266), and goes on to say: Surely “facts are stubborn things. It will be as it ever has been, the world will prove Joseph Smith a true prophet by circumstantial evidence, in experiments as they did Moses and Elijah. Now read Stephen’s story.”
Page 267 goes on to quote a paragraph of Stephens work about a manuscript of Don Juan Torres regarding a chronicle that fell into the hands of Father Francis Vasques stating that the Totecas being descended from the house of Israel. The part about landing a little south of Darien was taken from Stephens book, which was given to the Prophet in 1842. It cannot be overemphasized that Joseph Smith made no direct quote on this to the Church in general, made no official statement on this, and never stated in any official, prophetic, or presidential manner regarding this, though he did write briefly about it in his journal and in the History of the Church. The article itself was taken from something written in Times & Seasons.
    It should be kept in mind that Stephens book showed the Prophet and members of the Church at the time, that there actually were ruins of a lost civilization that existed in Central America. And logically, the nearest “narrow neck of land” area to that was the Isthmus of Darien.
    What was important to Joseph Smith in this, and to the members of the Church, was that their existence verified the Book of Mormon, and showed that such a civilization actually existed in the Americas anciently. They were excited about this find in what is now called Mesoamerica. Consider what their reaction would have been had someone discovered the ruins of an equally ancient civilization in Andean Peru, or if Stephens had traveled to Peru and not Central America--would there have been equal comment about Lehi landing there?
    However, that knowledge did not come forth until many years later.
(See the next post, “Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part IX,” for Hender’s concluding reasons why he thinks the actual landing took place in Central America)

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