Thursday, April 17, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part XVIII

Here are more comments, questions and criticisms that have been sent in from readers of our blog, along with our responses.  
    Comment #1: “Your post on The Book of Abraham and the Facsimile Image-Part IV, was very good” Bumbu P B
    Response: I’m glad you enjoyed it. And thank you for the suggestions of more info on the subject.
    Comment #2: “Did you not read the next page of that pretend article about Lehi where the anti-Mormon author said he made up the whole thing to mock Mormon's? There is no need for rebuttal, just a need to warn people” Thomas W.
Response: My grateful thanks to you. I wrote those articles for three reasons, one to send to Richard Packham (left), who wrote the article under the name of L. Dwayne Samuelson, and who, by the way, left the LDS Church in 1958 when he was 25 years old, and later founded the Exmormon Foundation (2001); and also to show how any erroneous information about the Book of Mormon Land of Promise can easily be rebutted, whether spoof, real, or otherwise, and finally as a point to Mesoamericanists, such as John L. Sorenson, who believes Lehi actually traveled across the Pacific somewhat in this manner, as does George Potter.
    When the first five articles were finished, they were forwarded to Packham’s website. My final article on “Was this Lehi's Route Across the Pacific? – Part VI” was then set aside awaiting a reply—which, unfortunately, never came. In the meantime, with Christmas and the holidays, etc., I forgot all about it even afterward because of the amount of mail we get and questions asked, each new request supplanting the older ones. Not until I was checking my comments page on the website for any really old responses I had missed, which I do occasionally, and found your pointed reply—more than a year later!
    So with egg on my face, let me answer your comment with a condensed version of that long overdue post:
    “In the past five posts, we have taken a moment to show that such folly as Lehi crossing the Pacific and there being any proof left along the way is not only idle speculation, but so improbable as to not warrant a comment. However, as one will find in this wild world of theorists, there is always a wild idea that ignores completely the scriptural record and, in this case, ocean currents and winds that drive them. Some are so wild and far out, that it occasionally catches people’s imagination, even one as dumb as this one.
The red line is the island-hopping path across the Pacific many Theorists attribute to the Lehi voyage. However, as can be seen, the winds and currents (yellow lines) run contrary to that path, keeping any ship “driven forth before the wind” from taking any similar path
Lehi’s actual course, consistent with winds and currents, is shown in red. After sailing with the winds and currents away from Arabia and across the Arabian Sea, their ship picked up the western edge of the Indian Ocean Gyre, swining it southeast and into the wind of the Prevailing Westerlies and the West Wind Drift Current, a fast-moving circumpolar current that circles the globe. Upon reaching the South American shelf, the northern edge of this current is pushed northward along the coast in the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current to where the winds and currents die down around the 30º south latitude and a landing could be achieved
    “Yet, Lehi did cross an ocean to get to the Land of Promise. John L. Sorenson paid little attention to how Lehi crossed the Pacific, but George Potter was quite specific, using nearly Packham’s exact course to take Lehi to South America. So where did Lehi cross?
    “L. Dwayne Samuelson suggested island-hopping across the southern Pacific Ocean. But who is Samuelson? What research did he do? How much does he really know? Did anyone reading his article look him up? Shame on you if you did not.
    “Why, L. Dwayne Samuelson is none other than a Book of anti-Mormon and LDS critic, making fun of Mormons and their many attempts to show proof of the Book of Mormon. In his own words, he states: “The article "Lehi In the Pacific" is pure bunk. I happen to know this, because I wrote it. I made it up. There is no such person as L. Dwayne Samuelson. If there is, I apologize to him for using his name. I wrote the article in about four hours, using nothing but maps of southeast Asia and the Pacific and a good dictionary of biblical Hebrew.
    “My purpose was to show how easy it is to construct ‘evidence’ for the Book of Mormon from superficial similarities in words and names, such as Mormon apologists continue to do. I submit that my phony correspondences between various names in my article are just as convincing and just as valid as those proposed by the scholars at FARMS and BYU. Knowing that my article is a spoof, I am sure they would find many valid objections to my methodology and my evidence. But their (valid) objections to my "evidences" are the same objections any scholar would justifiably raise against their claims about ‘Nehem’ and the ‘people of Lihy.’
    “Do the ‘amazing similarities’ I present in my article prove that the Book of Mormon is true? Of course not! The Book of Mormon is still a fictional work of the 19th century. It is not history. I have no doubt, however, that some Mormons reading this article will accept it as genuine proof that the Book of Mormon is historical.”
    So Packham tried to pull the wool over our eyes!
    Of course, anyone, and I mean anyone, who accepted such ridiculous reasoning as was used in Packham/Samuelson’s article as reality and proof of any kind of Lehi’s voyage, is simply both ignorant of the scriptural record, and the facts surrounding Nephi’s 2500-year-old journey.
    I reprinted the article and responded to each point to show two things: 1) Any inaccurate description of Book of Mormon events are easily recognized, and 2) they are easily explained and countered. I also wrote the articles to help any who might have been swayed by the ideas and “facts” presented to show that they would not stand up to even the most cursory reading, let alone a serious examination—as do all such ideas not founded upon the scriptural record as it was written and translated.
And so it is with all theories about the Book of Mormon Land of Promise that stray from the scriptural record. While I am an historian, researcher and writer, I am also a very big supporter of truth and the Book of Mormon, and of all those who engraved the plates that Joseph Smith accurately translated. One can stand by every word found on those pages, for the content and meaning make up the most accurate book ever written.
    We do not need to go outside those pages to try and prove anything about the writings or Mormon’s descriptions. They stand on their own. If someone doesn’t think so, then they need to do more reading, more research and increase their knowledge and understanding. Sooner or later, all that Mormon abridged will stand upon their own merits. When Mormon said they had horses, then know they had horses, even when no remains of such had ever been found. Sooner or later. Then, when the time is right, the Lord allows additional information to come forth and, lo and behold, horse remains are found in the Americas, specifically in Andean South America, along with elephants, etc.
    It is not the Book of Mormon that is on trial here. It is those who read it. May I in all honesty and fervor testify to you that every word in that book is the Word of God as it was written in the time of the Nephites and has come forth in our day.
    Comment #3: “Hi Del ~ I have been a fan of your blog for a couple years and recently went to Peru as part of a humanitarian trip and as part of that was able to visit some of the sites. I'm already looking forward to another trip where I can really spend time there. Anyway, after the trip my folks are now interested in going to Peru and I told them they should see if you are planning a trip anytime soon. Not sure if you do group tours, but if so they would be interested in visiting with you about a trip together to have you tell them about the sites rather than some other "typical" guide. Do you do this? Would you consider doing this?” Darryl B.
    Response: Thank you for your confidence and interest. However, I have never taken groups to, or been a guide for people in, South America, it is not among the things I want to accomplish in my work with the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. I don’t object to those who do, however, making commercializing my work would lessen the importance I attach to the Book of Mormon. Besides, at my age now, I couldn’t get a third of the way up Machu Picchu  :)
    Comment #4: “Pretty good post. I found your website perfect for my needs. Thanks for sharing these great ideas” Leslie L.
    Response: Always nice to know. Thank you.


  1. After reading your post, I looked up Packham's article and read this rebuttal that I thought you might be interested in: "I am embarrassed by those suppositions. When comparing similarities in languages looking for cognates, one must be careful of false cognate (words which appear to share an origin, but have different meaning. As an example, the Portuguese word "taco" means a roof tile, and not the tasty Mexican food. The Japanese "tako" means octopus. Since I am from Hawaii, I will tackle Hawaiian false cognates. Samuelson supposes that "Hawaii'i" is derived from the name of Jehovah. In fact, it can be broken into the following roots: Ha (breath) wai (water) 'i (life); it is poetically translated as "breath of life in the waters". Mauna is Hawaiian for "Mount", not derived from the Hebrew "maon" (habitation). And Samuelson got the Hawaiian word "kea" completely backwards. He supposes that it is derived from the Hebrew "kehah" (darkness or smoking) literally means "white". It has long been believed (and echoed in temple dedications) that "Hagoth" from the Book of Alma is "Hawai'i Loa" - the ancestor of Polynesians. When I read the title "Lehi in the Pacific" I thought Samuelson would address the descendants of Hagoth and not try to plot Lehi's voyage.

  2. The article you quote showed up on Answer Bag in October 2009 by someone who identified themselves as laie_tehie. Interesting how people accept as reality whatever they read on the internet. This individual from Hawaii, while correct in showing Packham’s article to be filled with inaccuracies regarding the Hawaiian-Hebrew language comparison, as obviously it was from the get-go, is incorrect on one thing (which shows that many LDS write and talk about an error themselves). The scriptural record does not suggest that Hagoth ever sailed anywhere (Alma 63:5-9). Hagoth is identified as a shipbuilder, not an explorer, sailor, or adventurer—while he was building ships, those ships sailed and at least one returned and sailed again. Nor can we suggest that Hagoth’s descendants were among those who emigrated elsewhere (northward, or to an unknown destination). The scriptural record gives no such suggestion.

    Consequently, and given them the benefit of the doubt, while some speakers might have used Hagoth’s name in conjunction with those who went in the ship that sailed to an unknown destination—which many (including myself) believe it was to Polynesia, since that is where the currents would have taken it—it was probably simply for easy identification purposes. That is, “Hagoth’s people” refers to those who sailed in Hagoth’s ships—not himself or his literal offspring.