Friday, November 7, 2014

Comments from Readers – Part I

We continue to have comments, questions and critiques being sent in from readers of our blog. Here are a few more with our responses. 
   Comment #1: “The land Desolation is by the Sea West, so the phrase 'narrow pass which led by the sea' indicates the narrow pass is also by the Sea West” Nick I.
Response: There is no reason to believe that the Land of Desolation is only near the Sea West. It would seem from the size and shape of the land described that it stretched across the southern part of the Land Northward from sea to sea, since this narrow pass is not only by the Sea West, but is also by the Sea East as described: “And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34). That is, the narrow pass, which ran along the narrow neck of land from the Land Southward to the Land Northward, was flanked on two sides (the east and west) by both the Sea East and the Sea West. Thus, it might be concluded that the Land of Desolation, which also bordered on the Sea West, that it stretched to the Sea East, which would not have been a great distance at this point.
    Comment #2: “I saw where some archaeologists claim that John L. Sorenson “belongs to a renegade group of anthropologists known as "diffusionists," who believe numerous voyages carried people and animals to the New World, and that such views are scorned by most conventional archaeologists. I imagine that not only do you agree with that, but are glad to see his work so scorned” Silas W.
Response: Actually, while I disagree with Sorenson on almost everything regarding his stand on Mesoamerica and his linking the scriptural record to that area, I have always applauded Sorenson’s “work and thinking outside the box.” If more archaeologists were willing to do that, perhaps we would have more open minds to see things beyond what most leading archaeologists and anthropologist have been trying to cram down our throats for decades. At least Sorenson’s stand on diffusion, i.e., movement of man across the oceans to settle in the Western Hemisphere is correct (maybe not as many or as random as he claims), for that is how Lehi brought his part of the House of Israel to the American continent (the Western Hemisphere). Whether the Lord brought other groups, I do not know and we have no word on that other than Jacob’s comment, “…wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren” (2 Nephi 10:21; for context see also vs 20).
You might also want to know that whoever was quoting Sorenson that you read, we should also mention that a short time ago, Sorenson teamed up and worked with Carl L. Johannessen (left), a non-LDS geographer at the University of Oregon, on a paper entitled, "Biological Evidence for Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Voyages." In it, they cited 99 plant species that appeared in both the old and new worlds before the Spaniards' arrival. This is such an important issue, ignored by archaeologists who are too busy defending their Beringia migration patterns across the Siberian-Alaskan area, that they cannot see any other possibility, and certainly would not be looking at the Book of Mormon for answers.
Skirting the western edges of the Arabian Sea, picking up the Indian Ocean Gyre and swinging along its counter-clockwise path into the Southern Ocean and into the strong West Wind Drift current and driven by the Prevailing Westerlies winds, Lehi would have been moved northward along the Humboldt Current to land where the winds and currents drop to a near standstill at 30º south latitude
    The only problem with Sorenson’s work on all this is his insistence that Lehi simply sailed across the Pacific, without studying out how that happened, i.e., wind and ocean currents that Nephi said they were “driven forth before the wind towards the promised land.” Actually, a serious knowledge of this shows they could not have taken Sorenson’s route through Indonesia as has been stated in these pages on numerous occasions, showing east to west currents that do not agree with Nephi’s “being driven forth before the wind.” Instead, as the map shows above, Lehi would have gone down into the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and across the West Wind Drift and Prevailing Westerlies to South America and up the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current to 30º south latitude—the first and almost last place a landing could have been easily achieved on the west coast of South America.
    Comment #3: “While the Book of Mormon text makes no claims about lineage, the book's 1981 introduction was the only text that said "Lamanites were the principal ancestors of American Indians," and that could be changed. Sometime later, LDS authorities instructed Doubleday, which published the only unofficial version of the Book of Mormon, to change its introduction to read: "Lamanites were among the ancestors of the American Indians. That sounds rather fishy to me" Driscoll J.
Response: Fishy is not the correct word, however, man’s mistake or error is. This is what happens when man thinks he knows what God means but has not said, and inserts his own thinking into the scriptural record. That introduction and wordage was never in the record Joseph Smith translated, it was not even in my very dog-eared 1977 edition. The introduction first appeared, as far as I know, in the 1981 edition, and by my 1999 reprint, the statement is as the latter you quoted: “…all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.”
    The problem is, people do not bother to understand what they are reading. The Introduction is clearly shown to be just that, an introduction written in our day to give the reader a little background on what they are about to read. While members have heard this from earliest Primary age, non-members, investigators, and those coming across this for the first time, are aided in their mind-set for reading the scriptural record, which actually starts with Moroni’s comment on the title page, and then with 1 Nephi 1:1. The Introduction and chapter headings have been added to assist the reader, as indicated above—they are not actually part of the translated scriptural record.
    The wonderful thing about the Lord, is he is willing to work with imperfect men to lead and direct his Church here on Earth. It has also always been his way to allow man to learn from his own mistakes. Imperfect men, by definition of course, are not perfect, i.e., we make mistakes from time to time. In fact, Moroni makes that crystal clear in his title page comment: “And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may he found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.”
    May I most humbly, being an imperfect man, suggest that you try recognizing the things that are man’s imperfection and separate them from the words of God, which are perfect. This is what Joseph Smith meant when he said to the early Church, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” He was not referring to man’s imperfections (spelling, grammar, etc.), but to the word of God contained within it.
After all, the original translation Joseph Smith did was not in chapter and verse, but one continuous writing, similar to how a regular book is written. It was not divided into chapters and verses until 1879, when Orson Pratt (far left) was given that assignment along with the help of James E. Talmage (near left), who was only 17 years old at the time. In case you are interested, the Book of Mormon was divided into double-column pages in 1920, and to the book were added chapter headings, chronological data, revised footnote references, a pronouncing vocabulary, and an index (In fact, if you were to be transported back to Nephite times, you might not recognize the pronunciations of names, cities, etc., since we have no knowledge how these were actually pronounced). Elder Talmage, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was the chairman of the committee that affected these changes. The Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price were changed to double-column pages in 1921.
    While I do not and never have had a problem or concern with all this, I do recognize that when man does things, there is always a possibility of a mistake cropping up somewhere—we are not perfect beings. In my mind, whether one says that the Lamanites were the progenitors of the American Indian, or that they were the principal progenitors of the American Indian, I see so little difference that I would never waste the time over such an unimportant point. It is only when such statements go against or are in opposition to the actual scriptural record that I take exception, which any long-time reader of this blog would know.

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