Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Fallacy of Seven Matching Points – Part I

A reader sent me a copy of Joseph Warren Grammer’s Book of Mormon Evicdences Revisited (2009), containing 14 chapters and 3 appendices.
First of all, let me state that I have no disagreement with part of Grammer’s preface statement “For those who seriously believe that there is no evidence in support of the Book of Mormon” his work is “a documented work, utilizing the research of professionals in several fields, setting forth various overwhelming scientific evidence in support of the Book of Mormon being as it claims, that of holy scripture from God.” On this issue, we agree—there is much evidence within the pages of the Book of Mormon to prove its authenticity many times over. But this is about the only issue in his work where agreement can be reached based on the very scriptural record he intends to validate with his “overwhelming evidence.”
    In the preface, Grammer goes on to state: “Not to be read by those who have trouble accepting overwhelming evidence of scientific discovery” as though his points are beyond understanding or so accurate that they cannot be denied. So let’s take a look at his so-called evidence:
    First of all, he takes the Adena and Hopewell cultures of the northeastern United States and claims they are none other than the Jaredite and Nephite cultures. “There are,” he claims, “a few very interesting parallels between them” and goes on to present what he believes are seven matching points. Following are his points with our responses:
    Point One: Grammer: “The Jaredites came to this North American continent during the time of the tower of Babel, about 2243-2004 B.C., that is if we calculate by using the genealogies as found in the Bible.”
The Jaredites left Mesopotamia and the area of the Tower of Babel at about the time the languages were confounded during the life of Nimrod, Noah’s great grandson
Response: First, to be accurate, the Jaredites left Mesopotamia at the time of the tower of Babel. Speaking only in the broadest sense would we include reaching their final destination at the time of the Tower of Babel since by then, the Lord had confounded the people’s languages and scattered them abroad from Babel over the face of the whole earth (Genesis 11:7-8).
    Second, The Jaredites, like the Nephites and Mulekites (People of Zarahemla) came to the Western Hemisphere.
    We have no reason to believe that this was to North America. Such a comment is neither scientific nor accurate to the scriptural record—which does not specifically tell us where in the Western Hemisphere either of these three groups landed. Third, the only clue as to where they landed was the fact that the “Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.” This is quite similar to Nephi’s statement where he twice tells us that his ship was “driven forth before the winds” to the promised land.
    While there is no agreement between scholars as to where the Jaredites set off in their barges, most scholars agree with the site where Nephi left along the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Thus, we can track Nephi’s voyage by the winds and ocean currents from that point and see where he would have landed (see the book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica). There is also good reason to believe that the Jaredites were led to this same point, and thus we can also track their path across the sea and to their landing point (see the book Who Really Settled Mesoamerica).
    Point One (cont): Grammer: “Now we don’t know exactly how much time elapsed between the time that Jared and his people left Babylon and when they embarked for their new world; it could have been considerable.”
Response: Seven specific events are described in the record. 1] The Lord directed the Jaredites to meet him in the Valley of Nimrod, to which they then traveled after gathering all their flocks, (Ether 2:4) 2] The Lord led them in the wilderness and the Lord went before them and talked to them and gave directions whither they should travel (Ether 2:2), 3] They built barges and crossed many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord (Ether 2:6), 4] Not allowing them to stop by a large Sea in the wilderness, they traveled to “that great sea that divideth the lands” (Ether 2: 7, 13), 5] they spent four years living in tents along this seashore they called Moriancumer (Ether 2:13), 6] the Lord commanded them to build airtight barges in order to cross the great sea (Ether 2:16-18), and 7] they set out in their barges and crossed the great sea (Ether 6:4) to finally land 344 days later in the promised land (Ether 6:12).
    How long all these seven events took is unknown, though we know the length of two of them; however, we can probably make a close assessment by attaching one to two years to steps 1-4, we know there were 4 years for step 5, assuming another year to build the barges, step 6, and we know there was almost another year in crossing the sea, step 7, which gives us a total of about seven to eight years. Nephi, on the other hand, tells us it took them 8 years in the wilderness before reaching Bountiful, and figuring one to two years building his ship, probably about ten years between leaving Jerusalem to reaching the Land of Promise. Thus, we might be able to suggest that the Jaredites took a similar 8 to 10 years before landing in the Land Northward of the Land of Promise.
    Point One (cont): Grammer: “So once they arrived in America, and considering that the people of Jared were most likely a small group, it would have taken them many years to develop into a civilization large enough to be considered a culture of their own.”
    Response: Again, by the term “arrived in America” is meant North America, that is merely an assumption. On the other hand, both North and South America were once referred to as a single continent, “the American Continent,” then this term could be used, though Western Hemisphere is more accurately applied here since no specific reference can be drawn from it.
Second, as to the population, “the friends of Jared and his brother were in number about twenty and two souls” (Ether 6:16), which based upon the ancients’ tendency to count men and not women, it might be accurately assumed that there were twenty-two couples beside Jared and his brother and their wives, for a grand total of 48 adults.
    In addition, the numbers of children among Jaredites, throughout their history was very high, and they lived old ages (Ether 9:24-25), and had children when they were old (Ether 7:3,7,26;9:14,10:4,14,16;11:4). Thus we see that Jared had twelve sons and daughters while his brother had twenty-two, making 34 children among the two. Using that number to extrapolate an overall figure, each family could have had 17 children, or 22x17=374 children in the first generation, which was about the time they landed, since “they also begat sons and daughters before they came to the promised land, and therefor they began to be many" (Ether 6:16). Taking this figure, we can see that there would have been 3,179 in the second generation, 27,021 in the third generation, with 229,678 in the fourth generation.
    Thus we can see that within four generations, less than 200 years of landing, the Jaredite nation could have numbered well over 200,000 people, which is well beyond the anthropological assignment of a “culture.”
(See the next post, “Fallacy of Seven Matching Points-Part II,” of Joseph Warren Grammer’s work Book of Mormon Evicdences Revisited (2009), containing 14 chapters and 3 appendices, for the final part of his first point and his second so-called “matching” point)

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