Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Looking for Zarahemla – Part V

Continuing with this last segment on another comment from a new reader, evidently promoting his own book “Finding Zarahemla,” to which we are responding and continuing with an understanding of this entire Delmarva Peninsula that Franklin Reid claims was the Land Southward. 
    The geologic background and development of this area simply does not fit the Land of Promise and its many descriptions from the scriptural record. We continue here with this development and bring it up to date to the time of the Nephites.
Middle Ordovician Paleomap 485 Million Years Ago showing the Taconic Island arc complex
    If we go back in geologic periods, to a time when the current Delaware area was forming, it was a series of tiny islands off a ragged, peninsula strewn east coast, during the period known as Taconic Orogeny and referred to as Ancestral North America. Beginning 510 million years ago, the current Delaware area was a solid coastline northeast of the Taconic Arc, with the Lauentian land mass along the east coast subducting beneath the Taconic arc, and off the coastal area to the east was a series of mountains.
    The eastern (northern) portion of Avalonia was sandwiched between both eastern Canada and parts of Baltica. Contact between Avalonia and Proto (New) North America progressed to the south and west over the next 40 million years. Ongoing collisions created the Northern Appalachian mountains. The event is known as the Acadian orogeny (or sometimes the
Appalachian or Avalonian orogeny)
    According to Dr. Ron Blakely, Northern Arizona University, there was a multi-step process that added New England to Proto North America and added land to the coast as far south as the Carolinas. This Taconic island chain began to collide with North America about 470 to 450 million years ago, the energy of ongoing impacts was still raising mountains from Canada to Virginia 430 million years ago.
    It should be kept in mind that at this time, the Proto North America was straddling the equator and the present east coast was actually the south then.

Yellow Arrow: Location of present-day Delaware, shown as a solid coastline
    The Iapetus Ocean, which had been the shoreline for Proto North America, is closing as Western and Eastern Avalonia, following behind the Taconic arc, are heading for collision with the recently-extended coast of Proto North America. The first impact was against what is now Greenland and eastern Canada, then moving southward, the collision zone moved through New York near the present Hudson River valley. The Taconic mountain chain was created as the arc rode up and onto the Laurentian landmass, a part of which was subducted below the Taconic arc. A wide swath of Iapetus Ocean seabed material will be pushed onto this mainland as the Avalonian islands push against and onto Proto North America.
    Prior to the Taconic orogeny, the "east" coast of what is now the United States was located near the Hudson River valley, Philadelphia, Washington, DC and extended to western South Carolina. The Taconic orogeny added land to Proto North America that is now the western portions of New England and the Canadian Maritime provinces. This collision added land and raised mountains southward through northern New Jersey, south-eastern Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina. The orogeny ended about 445 million years ago.
Paleontologists have developed maps of eastern North America covering the last 550 million years of geologic history, with time slices of more than 100 maps of about 5-10 million years apart, these images bring us up to the last ice age
    Once the east coast was formalized, about 370 million years ago, the eastern coast from Main to Connecticut was filled with volcanic material and Iapetus Ocean sediments as the land masses converged, forming a band of younger terrane between the older Laurentian and avalonia terranes. It is also found in South Carolina (Carolina Terrane) as well as north in New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
    By this time, the area of present day Delaware was pretty much set, which is easily seen as a peninsula, not an island. And as already discussed in this series, a peninsula with a “narrow neck of land” only 12 miles across which does not fit Mormon’s day-and-a-half-journey width requirement (Alma 22:32).
    In addition, as stated earlier, the winds and currents of the Chesapeake Bay would not have allowed Nephi’s ship “driven forth before the wind” to have even entered, and the very shallow shoaling along the peninsula’s west coast would not have allowed his ship to dock anywhere in the West Sea South (Alma 22:28).
With the entire eastern United States to move into in an effort to escape the lamanite horde, why would Mormon and the Nephites stand and fight somewhere in the Land Northward—after all, in Franklin’s model, they could have retreated in any direction quite easily; and why would those who did escape, go back into the Land Southward into the south country rather than northward into the mainland interior?
    Another very important point is found in Mormon when we are told: “And the three hundred and forty and ninth year had passed away. And in the three hundred and fiftieth year we made a treaty with the Lamanites and the robbers of Gadianton, in which we did get the lands of our inheritance divided” (Mormon 2:28)
    When Mormon and the Lamanite king entered into a treaty, and the Lamanites were given the tiny area of the Land Southward in Franklin’s model, and the Nephites were given all the land to the north, which encompasses over 220,000 square miles in just immediately surrounding area as can be seen on the map above, though the land to the north would not be limited even to that small of an area.
    The point is, in this scenario, with unlimited land easily accessible to the north of the treaty line, why would Mormon and the Nephites stand and fight a battle they could not possibly win against overwhelming odds when they could have continued to retreat, which they had been doing for several years before the treaty (Mormon 2:3,5-6,16,20) and after the treaty (Mormon 4:3,20-21,22; 5:5.7;6:1). So why stop at Cumorah and fight a foe whose overwhelming numbers caused “every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers” (Mormon 6:8).
    No, it simply does not make sense to place the Land of Promise in an area like Delmarva where there is no delineated Land Northward that did not contain the Nephites and force them to fight a last, desperate battle they had no chance of winning.
    The problem with writing about the Book of Mormon is when someone tries to sell a setting that makes no sense related to the descriptive material of the scriptural record. The Nephites were hemmed in within the Land Northward. They had retreated as far as they could go. The Land of Many Waters, Rivers and Fountains, which land also contained the Land of Cumorah and the hill Cumorah—as Mormon tells us: “And I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle” (Mormon 6:2), and “we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Mormon 6:4).
    First of all, there simply is no location in Franklin’s Land Northward that could be called a land of many waters, rivers and fountains. To reach any sizable water source, it is 332 miles to Lake Erie, and also 332 miles to Seneca Lake of the Finger Lakes which, by the way, are not fountains at all, nor are the Great Lakes, which receive their replenishment from rainfall and snowfall, not from natural fountains. What rivers supply the lakes are found in the sources far to the north in Canada.
The point is, you cannot look at a map, no matter how detailed it might be, and decide where the Land of Promise might have been. This is especially true when one starts out looking for a peninsula as the location—since a peninsula is not how the entire Land of Promise is described, but as an island (2 Nephi 10:20).
    Consequently, one then cannot start looking for where Zarahemla was located when one starts out in the wrong area to begin with—after all, the only way to find the Land of Promise is to trace Nephi’s ship’s course as he describes it, i.e., a ship that is driven forth before the wind (1 Nephi 18:8,9), that is, being pushed forward by wind currents, and obviously having to follow sea currents which the winds direct.
    In 1828, “forth” meant “forward”; and “driven” meant urged forward by force, impelled to move, constrained by necessity, and “before” meant “in front of.”  That is, “driven forth before the wind” meant exactly what is sounds like: Nephi’s vessel was “moved forward by the force of the wind” as well as being constrained within that path, i.e., it could not go elsewhere than where the wind blew it within the ocean currents.
    Since winds move ocean currents, the idea is that Nephi is telling us that his vessel was driven forth before the wind along the ocean currents also driven forth before the wind. All we have to do, then, is follow the ocean currents and where the winds blew from off the southern coast of Arabia to follow the path Lehi took and, therefore, where he landed. And those currents certainly did not led down around the horn of Africa through the worst ship's graveyard on the planet, nor up local rivers along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. against winds and currents as we have explained here many times over the past six years.

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