Thursday, July 24, 2014

Questions I Would Like to Ask – Part XIII

Using strictly the scriptures, I would like to ask the following questions of those many Theorists who claim their pet theories about the location of the Land of Promise are consistent with the scriptural record. 
    This Thirteenth question is directed mostly to John L. Sorenson, but also to all Mesoamericanists who claim Lehi landed along the Pacific Coast of Guatemala in Mesoamerica.
    The question to ask is quite simple and strictly scripturally based:
    13. “What makes you think the seeds from Jerusalem (1 Nephi 18:24), a Mediterranean Climate, would have grown at all in 600 B.C. in Mesoamerica, along the coastal area in the vicinity of 14º north latitude, Guatemala, which is a hot and humid tropical climate?”
    First, Nephi makes it clear that upon landing, the first thing they did was pitch their tents, then plant their seeds they brought from Jerusalem, which produced an exceeding and abundant crop (1 Nephi 18:24).
    Second, on page 138 of Sorenson’s book, An Ancient America Setting for the Book of Mormon, he writes: “Lehi and his party launched their vessel into the Indian Ocean from the south coast of the Arabian peninsula. The same winds no doubt bore them on the same sea lanes that Arab, Chinese and Portuguese ships used later, touching India and ultimately the Malayan peninsula. From that point Nephi’s ship likely threaded through the islands of the western Pacific, then across the open reaches north of the equator to landfall around 14 degrees north latitude.”
    Third, 14º north latitude is along an area of coast between the mouth of the Rio Nahualate at the town of Nueva Venecia where highway 5 ends, and the town of El Semillero Barra Nahualate, which is where highway 27 ends along the coast (the rest of his comment is also questionable and will be dealt with at a later time.)
Mouth of the Rio Nahualate, not far from Lehi’s proposed landing site. This is a hot and humid tropical climate zone where temperatures only fluctuate between 86ºF and 88ºF all year long, and certainly not conducive to planting a crop of Mediterranean Seeds that produced an exceeding and abundant crop (1 Nephi 18:24)
    Fourth, this area is a tropical climate zone, including tropical storms, humidity and rain. These Guatemala lowlands have daytime temperatures reaching 100° F and nights rarely dropping below 70° F, with temperature fairly uniform throughout the year. The two seasons, are the dry season (summer—November through April) and the wet season (winter—mid-May to October or November), with the coolest months (only time to visit) in December and January.
    Fifth, according to the worldwide Permanent Agriculture Research Institute, Mediterranean Climates are found in specific areas around the world: “western Australia, western South Africa, the ring of countries around the Mediterranean Sea (Portugal, Spain, southern France, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Algeria, Morocco, etc), coastal Chile, and central California. (Notice they all have the ocean on their west, which keeps their winters mild.) “Mediterranean” means that during a large part of the year there is little or no rain, and since this arid condition is among those that can really benefit from permaculture practices, it is conducive to the benefits of winter gardening.
World climate zones with only five such Mediterranean climates in the entire world outside the Mediterranean Sea area; only two are in the Western Hemisphere—one in Chile (30º S. Latitude) and the other in Central California
    Sixth, climate, from the ancient Greek klima, meaning “inclination,” is commonly defined as the weather averaged over a long period and takes into consideration air mass, precipitation, and temperature. In planting, climate is one of the more important factors to be considered, and before all the modern technology of chemical, managing and harvesting, anciently seeds grew in the climate from which they had been grown, i.e., tropical seeds grew in tropical climates, desert seeds grew in desert climates, subarctic seeds grew in subarctic climates, humid subtropical seeds grew in humid subtropical climates, highland seeds grew in highland climates, and Mediterranean seeds grew in Mediterranean climates—there are three climate zones: tropical, temperate, and polar; with five climate types (tropical, moderate, continental, polar, dry, and a unnamed sixth, which is where highland climate plants survive). In addition, these five types are broken down into 12 specific climates on the earth, and there are numerous sub-climate conditions for planting (as an example, a Dry Climate can be sub-divided into “dry arid,” and “dry sem-aird.”)
Every seed packet sold has a set of instructions as to where, when, and how to plant, including pictures of local or nation-wide planting zones so you can find the area best suited for the seeds grown inside the packet
    Seventh, even today, seeds for flowers, fruits, vegetables, etc., are sold to be planted in specific climates. While today, with advanced technology and knowledge, it might be possible to grow a seed from one climate to another, in 600 B.C., that would not have been possible. The Pilgrims found in the 17th century that their seeds from Holland and England would not grow in Plymouth, New England, and they would have perished as a colony except for the help of local Indians who fed them and then helped them learn how to plant in the local soils seeds that would grow there.
    Eighth, the area at 30º South Latitude, where Lehi landed, is the only Mediterranean Climate in the Western/Southern Hemisphere, the only other one in the Western Hemisphere is in Central California in the Northern Hemisphere. These Mediterranean climates are classified under the Köeppen climate classification system as “Cs”—the “C” stands for warm temperature climates, where the average temperature of the coldest months is 64° F. The “s” stands for a dry season in the summer.  In the winter the Mediterranean climate, is mild and moist.  During the summer it is very hot and dry. The annual temperature range is between 30° and 100° F.
    Ninth, coastal Guatemala has a tropical rainforest type climate that is hot and wet all year, with temperatures remaining in the high 80s, while Mediterranean Climates are characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters.
Planting maize (corn) within velvetbean mulching in the lowlands of Guatemala. Once the velvetbeans reach 8-feet in height, the Kekchi slash the growth with machetes and chop it up into fine mulch through which the maize grows
    Tenth, wheat, barley and other European-type grains do not grow well in Guatemala—their principal crops are coffee, sugar, bananas, and cotton, followed by hemp, essential oils, and cacao. By comparison, Guatemala produced 15,459,000 tons of sugarcane compared to 1,109,000 tons of corn. But even corn, the largest produced grain in Guatemala, reaches only about 30 bushels per acre, while by comparison, corn in the United States averages 123 bushels per acre. Though Guatemala is the fastest growing market for wheat in the region (importing 424,000 tons annually), Guatemala produces only about 5,000 tons of wheat annually, and is the only wheat producer of any kind in all of Central America region.
    Eleventh, according to the Food Security Outlook updates, Guatemala is considered a grain reserve deficient country, with grain reserves almost constantly depleted and food security conditions over much of the country considered either “stressed” or in “crisis” state. Nor is it believed that current harvests will cover the food consumption deficits of households, and food reserves dangerously low.
    Twelfth, while Sorenson claims (pg 139) that “the experience of pioneers suggests that first success for an imported crop does not necessarily mean continued vigor for it,” in order to claim that “flourishing plants don’t always yield good seed in turn,” to make room for the loss of wheat and barley in his Mesoamerica Land of Promise (where it does not particularly grow), he then finally states,” what happened later to those plants from the seeds the Lehi party carried across the ocean is not stated,” in order to lay claim that “by 130 B.C. “corn” (this is maize)—a native plant of America—had become the leading crop in the land of Nephi.” It is interesting that Nephi tells us exactly what happened to those Jerusalem seeds, and the seeds produced by their first planting when he writes after separating from his brothers and founding the city and land of Nephi: “and we did prosper exceedingly; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance” (2 Nephi 5:11). Evidentl Sorenson missed that scripture.
Coastal Guatemala near the 14º North Latitude where Sorenson claims Lehi would have landed
    Thirteenth, it is obvious, even from Sorenson’s own writing, and all reports of Guatemala agriculture now and anciently, that wheat and barley would not grow in Guatemala to any degree, certainly not as Nephi tell us it did in his Land of Promise.
    Fourteenth, even after four hundred years, wheat and barley were growing exceedingly in the Land of Promise, as was a new crop, corn, and two other grains unknown in 1830 to Joseph Smith, called neas and sheum (Mosiah 9:9).
    So we ask again, “What makes you think the seeds from Jerusalem (1 Nephi 18:24), a Mediterranean Climate, would have grown at all in 600 B.C. in Mesoamerica, along the coastal area in the vicinity of 14º north latitude, Guatemala, which is a hot and humid tropical climate?"

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