Saturday, January 2, 2016

America is the Land of Promise—But Where is America?-Part XVII

Continuing with the previous posts regarding one of our readers sending us information of a blog and asking our opinion and comments. 
    Blog comment: “As I mentioned earlier, lack of written evidence is not evidence of no oral usage of the term.”
    Response: “Neither does lack of written evidence lead to evidence of an oral use of a term. Such an argument is neither useful nor of any value whatever. To suggest that Joseph Smith said that the hill in New York was called Cumorah without any written documentation or suggestive material to support that is as useless as saying that though Joseph Smith never wrote that the Nephites were in Andean Peru it can be suggested that from all his conversations with the Angel Moroni about the Nephite people that he must have said verbally to others that they were there. If there is no written documentation that can be attributed without question and without doubt to Joseph Smith, then such an idea cannot be attributed to him no matter how much a person might believe it to be true.
    Nor can it be implied that if a word or term was used in his presence that he agreed with it or did not correct it verbally. Chastisement or correction verbally is one thing and carries little negative connotations; however, to write down one’s disagreement is a lasting comment that can cause one’s reputation undue harm. Just because there is no written record that Joseph Smith disagreed with, or at least did not agree with, Oliver Cowdery’s point of view about the hill Cumorah does not mean that he actually agreed with something Oliver believed. Once again, Joseph was well known for not correcting or making a statement about a point that he may not have had an opinion on or even with which he disagreed.
To assume Joseph said things that are not recorded and have that belief used as proof of his saying something is a type of reasoning with which the blog author fills his writing, and is no different than saying the ship that Nephi built was a two-masted sailing vessel somewhat like the ships built almost two thousands years later by the Europeans leading to their Age of Discovery, despite the fact that no such comment is made or implied by Nephi’s writings on the plates.
    It does not matter how much a person might believe that, there is no way to use Nephi’s writings as a proof of that point. It could be said that the stress of a single mast sailing ship, to the pounding of waves and strength of winds in the deep oceans requiring such a minimal canvas design, but Nephi’s writings cannot be used for proof or support of the point.
What can be used in Nephi’s writings is his comment “driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8, 9) which in today’s maritime terminology is the same as “Running Downwind,” or “Running with the wind,” or “Running before the wind,” all of which means that the ship is being pushed forward by the wind which is coming from directly behind the vessel. When running downwind for protracted periods when ocean-crossing in steady trade winds, for example, which makes the use of a tiller (steering) difficult and if the wind is not constant and the currents compatible, the ship can easily be moved off course. On ships that can reach (traveling approximately perpendicular, 90º, to the wind) or beat (sailing close or into the wind) and run point of sail (orientation to wind, i.e., port tack or starboard tack), running with the wind can be both difficult and dangerous for an inexperienced crew; however, in a fixed sail vessel that can only run with the wind, it is the fastest and simplest means of sailing and requires little if almost any degree of knowledge since both wind and current push the boat in the direction one intends to sail.
    With this statement by Nephi “we did put forth into the sea and were driven forth before the wind towards the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:8, 9), we can obviously know what type of sailing vessel it was, i.e., fixed sails that had fixed yardarms and could not tack (move off from the following wind—could not beat or reach). But even so, it could not be said how many masts, how many sails, the ship had or how it was configured other than the fact that it ran with the wind (sailed only in the direction the winds and currents pushed it along).
    Blog comment: “Documented history does support the use of the term (Cumorah) in Joseph's presence before 1830, use in 1833 in the official Church newspaper, and extensive, specific identification of the New York hill as Cumorah in 1835 that Joseph incorporated into his own history.”
Response: If all that is true, then why did President Joseph F. Smith (left), Joseph Smth’s nephew and Hyrum Smith’s son, declare that “the Lord has not yet revealed it” (Cannon, p 160), and Anthony W. Ivins, counselor in the First Presidency, who added in 1929, 'There has never been anything yet set forth that definitely settles that question [of Book of Mormon geography].... We are just waiting until we discover the truth" (CR, Apr. 1929, p. 16). While the Church does not currently take an official position with regard to location of geographical places, the authorities do not discourage private efforts to deal with the subject (John E. Clark, “Book of Mormon Geography,” Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1992, pp. 176–179). In addition, it cannot be overstated that, even as the blog author states, “Joseph had a record of allowing people to believe whatever they wanted and not correcting false doctrine, preferring to let people judge for themselves.” Of course, the term “false doctrine” is his term, not mine, but the fact is that Joseph Smith did, as has been stated earlier, allow people their own opinions both stated and in writing.
    The point should be made that if there was a need to correct one misstatement then there would be a need to correct other misstatements, whether about the Urim and Thumim or the hill Cumorah. The assumptions here are unfounded. The statement of importance is that Joseph Smith had a record of allowing people to believe whatever they wanted and not correcting it—this would be true especially in areas where people’s opinions are used, rather than saying “false doctrine.” Joseph’s desire to allow people their own free will in their beliefs is the same as every President of the Church since his time. As has been pointed out here, even Joseph Fielding Smith made that clear when Sidney Sperry was fearful of printing something that contradicted what President Smith had said, as has been reported in this work earlier.
    Blog comment: “Some people continue to resist the facts so this blog seeks to open a few minds.”
    Response: Without quoting a single scripture from the scriptural record to support his view, the blog author rambles on and on about a very important controversial issue based on the scriptural record, i.e., the Hill Cumorah.
It is hard to understand how someone can use such determined comments that are not supportable by clear cut provisions, but something Oliver Cowdery wrote of his own beliefs, suggesting that Joseph Smith and he were given insights into the information by the Angel Moroni without any supportable evidence, that Joseph Smith believed the hill in New York was the hill Cumorah of the scriptural record where there is not evidence he ever said or thought that other than it appeared in print in the Times & Seasons of which it is assumed he read and knew about, etc. It should be noted that if this type of reasoning prevails, then why do we have such a resistance to Frederick G. Williams writing down in a First Presidency meeting, when he was the Second Counselor to Joseph Smith, that Lehi landed at 30º South Latitude in Chile? How can we accept one and reject the other?
    When it is written “Some people continue to resist the facts so this blog seeks to open a few minds,” one must consider that “some people insist on something that cannot be shown to be true other than by innuendo, unsupportable evidence, opinions and beliefs.”
    The interesting thing is, the blog author claims the Book of Mormon took place in what is now the United States, yet as has been pointed out in this series, America has always been North and South America; this continent has always been up until WWII the American Continent
    Isn’t it about time we stopped trying to force a location for the Book of Mormon Land of Promise that simply does not fit the profile outlined in the scriptural record? Or stop trying to make the term “America,” apply only to the United States when, in the early 1800s during Joseph Smith’s lifetime and for nearly a century after his death, “America” stood for the Western Hemisphere and the continent was the “American Continent,” which encompasses all of North, Central and South America.
    As one of our readers, David K., recently sent in from Webster’s1828 dictionary: “Clearly shows that America at the time included North and South…AMER'ICA, noun [from Amerigo Vespucci, a Florentine, who pretended to have first discovered the western continent.]
One of the great continents, first discovered by Sebastian Cabot, June 11, O.S. 1498, and by Columbus, or Christoval Colon, Aug. 1, the same year. It extends from the eightieth degree of North, to the fifty-fourth degree of South Latitude; and from the thirty-fifth to the one hundred and fifty-sixth degree of Longitude West from Greenwich, being about nine thousand miles in length. Its breadth at Darien is narrowed to about forty-five miles, but at the northern extremity is nearly four thousand miles. From Darien to the North, the continent is called North america and to the South, it is called South America” (Noah Webster 1828).

    As Galileo Galilei once said, All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.

No comments:

Post a Comment