Saturday, April 26, 2014

Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part VI

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. Following are more of his opposing points: 
    Hender: “A later Book of Mormon reference states that these animals had wandered into the land southward for the want of food. This would imply that they were from the Jaredite source and that as Shiz swept the land desolate, any surviving animals had to leave the land northward and travel to the land southward to find food. Any such hungry animal will so migrate for food, even dumb cows.”
Response: First, “wandering” suggests a slow, meandering pace, such as while foraging. These animals did not wander, they were running for their lives, i.e., “their flocks began to flee before the poisonous serpents, towards the land southward” (Ether 9:31) and “some fled into the land southward” (Ether 9:32). If you have never been on the range herding large numbers of cattle or horses and have them stampede, you may not realize the impact of such a thing--frightened animals running for their lives are going to run for a long time over a very long distance before realizing the threat is over.
    Second, there is no indication in the scriptural record that Shez “swept the land desolate,” nor do we know of any animals surviving the poisonous serpents that did not get into the Land Southward, though this might be expected. The point is, we cannot speculate on any animals left in the Land Northward.
    If Shiz, who Coriantumr killed, is meant, this period of time would have been at the conclusion of at least 1000 years since the animals were driven into the Land Southward and would not have any impact on what those early “escapees” did or where they went, or ended up. We only know at the time of Lehi’s arrival, there were many animals in the area of his landing.
Third, between the time of Heth when the poisonous serpents appeared and the time of Lib, when the serpents were destroyed was 7 generations of men who lived to an exceeding great age. While we use 35 years per generation today, a generation of Jaredites, who had children in their old age, would probably be longer—maybe around 50 years. That would be 350 years covering those seven generations. Left unmolested, how many animals might have existed after 350 years? The numbers could be astronomical, though most animal populations tend to balance out over time; however, as they increased in size, movement would have been forced upon them to seek “greener pastures”—and that movement would have to have been southward.
    Fourth, we also have a period of 13 generations between Lib, and Coriantumr, when the Jaredites were destroyed. At 50 years per generation, that would be another 650 years, or about 1000 years that animals were in the land southward, with much of the 650 of those years hunters going into the land to hunt them—which would have driven the survivors further and further southward.
Fifth, while any dumb animal will migrate in search of food and water, all will seek new lands if their own land is threatening to them. In the Land of Promise, it would be unlikely that animals frightened out of one area would not find “the grass greener” somewhere else (other than the Atacama Desert). So it would appear that the animals the Jaredites brought to the Land of Promise after the Flood, were the only animals in the land, since there is no record that the Nephites brought anything other than “seeds of every kind.” Nor would the Mulekites, who were escaping the Babylonians who nearly circled the Jerusalem area at the time, likely to have had the means or time to bring animals with them.
    Hender: “In the July 1950 Improvement Era, John A. Widtsoe on page 547 discounts the so called Joseph Smith revelation. It seems that the 'quote' attributed to Joseph Smith's History was not taken from there at all. It's source was an obscure slip of paper in the possession of the Church Historian and was said to have been the property of President Frederick G. Williams, one of Joseph's counselors.”
    Response: This is the so-called revelation that Lehi landed at the 30º south latitude in Chile. Since we will never know about this, let us concede that this was not a revelation, thereby eliminating everyone’s concern over it, with one caveat. However, I would not concede that it was “an obscure slip of paper,” since it also had written on it the revelation (D&C 7) relating to John the beloved disciple, remaining on earth, until the glorious coming of Jesus to reign with his Saints.
In fact, the paper was described as “a loose sheet of paper” with both statement and revelation in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams (left), and certified by his son Ezra G. Williams, one could hardly call it “obscure.” However, whether the Lord told Joseph Smith, or whether Joseph wrote it himself, or whether it was discussed in a Presidency meeting at which Frederick G. Williams (2nd Counselor in the First Presidency) was present, or something mentioned or discussed between Joseph and his scribe (Williams), or Williams himself merely jotted it down, the question that has to be asked, which no one has to my knowledge, is “How did anyone in the 1840s come up with such an idea as Lehi landing at the 30º south latitude on the Chilean coast?”
    Given the unbelievable matches (see “So Where is the Land of Promise? Parts 1 through 12, posted between December 26, 2013 and January 7, 2014) between that particular location along the Chilean coast and the numerous descriptions and statements in the Book of Mormon relating to Lehi’s landing site and Nephi’s record of his ship and how it was “driven forth before the wind,” and what was found at their landing site, etc., etc., etc., how can anyone discount that statement, given in any form or from any source?
Columbus was very detailed in his reports of where he sailed, what he saw, and what he found—so much so we can pinpoint his exact passages, sightings and landings today
    Because of Columbus’ descriptions of his voyage of discovery, what he saw, the coasts he described, and Indians he saw, etc., historians have been able to accurately show where he went to a very close exactness. We have as much information as to Lehi’s landing site and can pinpoint that to within a very close exactness, also, which was along the Chilean coast. And it just so happens to match exactly with the notation made in the 1840s by a member of the First Presidency, before any of this could have been known about that physical location along the South American coast—a particular location that matches exactly to the descriptions in the scriptural record.
    We should be exulting with great excitement over the knowledge the Lord has revealed, as he said he would in the latter days, that has led to our understanding of Lehi’s landing site. Instead, Theorists with models of Mesoamerica, Great Lakes, Heartland, eastern U.S., New York, Baja California, Malaysia, etc., have all raised up on their hind legs to fight, discredit, shout down, and in short, vehemently disregard all these matches from central Chile to Ecuador, matches that are unparalleled anywhere else in the world.
It reminds me of the trouble Joseph Smith had when he declared simply and with honest fervor that he had seen God and his son, Jesus Christ. Talk about negative reactions across the board. Everyone wants to hold onto their piece of the pie—their fortunes, honor, pride, casreer, recognition, and approval all demand it of them. Yet, in the end, they have been and will be all proven in error. With so many perfect matches to the scriptural record in the Andean area of South America, it would appear that this, too, will eventually be proven correct.
    However, until that time, we will continue to point out the comparisons between scripture and the ideas of men. So, see the next post, “Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part VII,” for Hender’s reasons why he says “it does seem to me that the Chilean Landing Site is not correct and more of myth than truth,” and our response and clarification as to why Chile was the site.

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