Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Theories—The problem with Speculation – Part IV

Continuing from the last post regarding the problems created when theorists begin speculating about the scriptural record in light of clear descriptions to the contrary, or where there is nothing to suggest such a thing at all.
Some of these speculations are even more apparent and just as misleading. As Duane R. Ashton, in his book The Other Side of Cumorah, wrote: “180 years after Lehi left Jerusalem the Lamanites had become exceedingly more numerous than were they of the Nephites (Jarom 6). Might this imply that Lamanites may have found it convenient to inter-marry into tribes of indigenous peoples with the same life styles as them?”
    This is the worst type of speculation since there is not a single scriptural reference of there being anyone else in the Land of Promise than the Nephites/Mulekites and Lamanites, and not a single reference to anyone else, yet several references to this land being held for Lehi and his family and descendants. Hugh Nibley and John L. Sorenson also make such speculations to justify their Mesoamerican models, such as Sorenson’s comment “The Lamanites superior skills and knowledge they had brought with them to gain dominance over local remnants of the previous civilization” (p149).
    It is interesting that despite Nibley making a point in his book “Lehi in the Desert” that “We must not fall into the old vice of reading into the scripture things that are not there” (p 165), then turns around on another issue and says, “Who is to say that given thousands of years to wander in, plus a great tradition of hunting and nomadism, no Jaredites could have gone to the outer most limits of the continent?” (p 250), and goes on to say, “The descendants of Lehi were never the only people on the continent and the Jaredites never claimed to be” (p 252), and “No one would deny that anciently this land was kept form the knowledge of other nations, but that does not mean that it was kept empty of inhabitants” (p 253).
    Yet, the scriptures tell us it was an island (2 Nephi 10:20), not a continent, and makes no even hidden hint that any other people were on this land after the Flood and before or during the time of the Jaredites, nor any after the the Jaredites, other than the Mulekites, Nephites and Lamamnites. Also, we might correct Nibley in that the Jaredites were only in the promised land for about 1600 years (2100 B.C. to 600 B.C.), not “thousands.” It also might be of note to understand that at no time and in no place in the scriptural record are the Jaredites shown as wanderers, nor are they shown to be nomads in any way. They spent all their time in Moron or one other location where two opposing families or factions warred with one another.
No matter where you read and what author you read, there is never any mention of another people in the Land of Promise before the Gentiles arrived as shown in Nephi’s vision
    It is always interesting how theorists, no matter how smart and brilliant they may he, continue to try and include other people in the Land of Promise that are neither mentioned nor even suggested by the scriptural record. Is that not what we call “speculation”?
    Take May’s comment that “Verse 7 of Moroni 8 make it clear that the Nephites were still around in small pockets throughout the land for many years” (p 53).
    First of all, it is verse 7 of Mormon 8, not Moroni, in which the author of that chapter, Moroni, states: “And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall; yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites” (Mormon 8:7).
    Because of the mix-up of writers, and therefore the time frame involved, May believes, without checking it out completely, that several years have passed between Cumorah and this statement and also misunderstands that there were not several pockets of Nephites still alive, but one group “a few” Mormon called them, who had escaped death at Cumorah and headed south.
    Mormon in 385 A.D., at the very conclusion of the war, after his 23 commands of 10,000 each had been wiped out by the Lamamites, states that some had escaped into the south countries, and a few had deserted over unto the Lamanites (Mormon 6:15). About 15 years later, Moroni is adding to the record of his father, in which he writes what his father has commanded him (Mormon 8:1), and from his own knowledge, such as saying “Now after the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah, behold, the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites until they were all destroyed” (Mormon 8:2)
    We do not know of any other Nephites who had escaped from Cumorah, and they were accounted for immediately after the war ended at Cumorah—there were no “pockets of Nephites throughout the land for many years,” as May speculates.
    May again states, “The battle at Cumorah was almost the end, but the Lamanites continued to pursue a groups of Nephites that escaped into the land Southward” (p 53-54). Again, there were no “pockets” of resistence or “hiding Nephites.” When the business at hand, the annihilation of the Nephites at Cumorah, was completed, they turned their attention to those who had escaped—a fact that might have even begun before the end of the war at Cumorah, or as some escaped, Lamanites were dispatched immediately to run them down and kill them. The scriptural record does not explain this one way or the other. But nowhere can we suppose it was many years.
    And also May speculates: “The final battle took place in Kentucky at ‘the Falls of the Ohio,’ located on the Ohio River at present-day Louisville, Kentucky in a battle Mormon and Mornoni did not witness and did not know about” (p55, 58). Since there is no record of any further battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites, or any reference to it at all, and since Mormon was dead and Moroni brought us up to date on all that had and was taking place for the next 26 years, with his closing remarks of the Lamanites “And because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ” (Moroni 1:2), concluding his record in 421 A.D., we can only say that May was simply speculating on events of his own imagination.
    In another case of speculation, Sorenson writes: “The people of Zarahemla…arrived first in the land northward, then moved south. Probably they first settled at the east-coast site known later as ‘the city of Mulek.’ And they came from their up into the south wilderness” (p 148-149).
As has been said many times, Amaleki, who was with Mosiah when the people of Zarahemla were first encountered by the Nephites wrote: “the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon (shown above). And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:15-16). The land where Mosiah discovered them, of course, was the Land of Zarahemla. Thus, they landed there in that land and lived there in that land all the time up to when Mosiah encountered them.
    Phyllis Carol Olive states: “The only metal mentioned in the scriptures that is not found in the New York area today is gold. This metal was undoubtedly depleted in much the same way that California was depleted of her vast gold reserves during the California gold rush in the 1800s.
    The truth of the matter is, that the Gold Rush days in California were based mainly on gold in gravel beds, which could be “panned,” however, “placer” mining could not be done on a large scale and later techniques such as “cradles,” “rockers” or “long-toms” were employed to process larger volumes of gravel, or “coyoteing,” digging shafts into the richest veins of pay dirt. This led to the removal of $16-billion dollars worth of gold removed in the first five years—after that, there was still gold there, and still is, however, it is not as economical to remove as it is in other areas, such as Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, New Mexico and Alaska. It was not depleted, just the "easy to pick up" was removed. The difference is, while there is still much gold in the ground in California and elsewhere in the West, there is basically none in the ground in the Great Lakes area and has not been to any extent ever according to geologists who track gold in the U.S.
    And when it comes to copper, the most often mentioned ore in the Book of Mormon, in New York where one copper mine operated, in Canton, St. Lawrence County, in the 19th century, the only copper mine listed for the entire state of New York. And in adjoining Pennsylvania, colonial governor William Keith made the first attempt to mine copper in Pennsylvania. His mine, in York County, failed within a short time. The Lancaster County copper mine opened in 1732, shut down in 1755, and reopened as a nickle mine in 1850, producing some byproduct copper, but was shut down in 1893. In Michigan, a very long way from the Great Lakes Land of Promise, large quantities of copper were found in the early period of the U.S. Those mines were in the far northern peninsula bordering with Canada and Wisconsin. No mines are listed for Ohio, Indiana, or West Virginia, the only states around the Great Lakes area claimed to be in the Land of Promise.
(See the next and final post on speculation, “Theories—The problem with Speculation – PtV,” for more of the problems with speculation and its effect on the scriptural record and those who read it)

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