Saturday, May 21, 2016

What is Opinion and What is Not? – Part VIII

Continuing from the previous posts regarding what is actually “fact” and not just “opinion” when dealing with the Land of Promise location, in which the first question to be asked and answered is “What does the scriptural record actually say?” 
An example of the area of Coquimbo Bay and La Serena
    Continuing with what Nephi says they found at the point of their landing site:
6. “both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men” (1 Nephi 18:25b). Again, most theorists when they come to this verse, busy themselves with concerns over the type of animals; however, since the forest is the key issue, one might wonder a little about that forest itself.
    First of all, it had to be large enough to house both wild (carnivorous) and domestic (herbivorous) animals in the same area. Secondly, there had to be sufficient food available for the life cycle of animals to be maintained, i.e., enough animals born to offset the amount killed by the wild beasts. So we are not talking about a small area of trees, but a forest of considerable size, yet one within walking distance of their landing site and obviously not far from where they pitched their tents and set up their settlement that would later be called "The (Lamanite) Land of First Inheritance.” It is interesting that such a forest exists just on the edge of La Serena, today called the Fray Jorge National Park, which is a temperate rainforest.
    This forest, by the way is the largest tropical rain forest in South America beginning about 1 1/2 miles inland from the bay at Coquimbo and covers approximately 103,301 square miles (of which 70% lies within Chile), and is the second largest of five temperate rainforests in the world. Still existing today, it is the only present rainforest in South America, and has multiple ecosystems, and includes at least five tree species indigenous to that area overflowing with ferns and cinnamon trees, and is home to the majestic Alerce tree, which can reach heights of 377 feet, and live for more than 3000 years, along with a variety of species including eagles, pumas and guanacos (wild parent of the llama). Of the estimated 87,687 square miles of original forest existing at the time of European contact, only about 40% remains today, suggesting it was probably even larger in Lehi’s time.
Top: At 30º south latitude, the western edge of the forest looking westward at the Pacific Ocean; Bottom: Looking over the forest eastward toward the distant Andes  
    Obviously, this rainforest was not only right next to La Serena and Coquimbo, but is certainly large enough to have housed all the animals Nephi described. What a joy it must have been for the colony to discover all these animals, and if there had been any question of why they were not told to bring them, it certainly would have been dispelled in seeing such an abundance of animals of all kinds.
7. The last thing Nephi mentions finding is “we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25). It is interesting that there are two copper smelting plants on either side of Coquimbo Bay, and to the south is the Topado quartz-vein gold ore deposit located in the IV region of Chile, and linked to the nearest city of La Serena. In all, this general area of Chile ranks among the world's top five producer of all three of these metals today: gold, silver and copper.
    In addition to these descriptions of the Land of Promise from Nephi building his ship, setting sail, and reaching shore, then what he found there, there are numerous other areas where descriptions of the Land of Promise are given; however, until a land is found that matches all of these, the others cannot be discussed. We cannot get the cart before the horse. We need to find where Nephi landed his ship and where the Land of First Inheritance was actually located.
    Because the vast majority of theorists ignore this first part, they are forever floundering in trying to find a location, in every case having to change, alter, ignore, or add to the scriptural record to try and make their model fit the written word. This adding or changing effort first began with John L. Sorenson and his changing the cardinal compass directions of his model of Mesoamerica, which are almost 90º off from those mentioned by Mormon in Alma 22 and elsewhere, to the myriad of theorists there are today with ideas ranging from Malaysia, to Baja California, to Florida and the Caribbean, to the Great Lakes, Heartland, and the eastern United States. The fact that each of these models merely shows the lack of attention people place on the scriptural record, which is not open for personal interpretation, according to Paul, but should be taken the way the scriptural accounts are written.
Sorenson’s East-West Map; Following is Mormon’s Description of the Land: “And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward…that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed…And they came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful…it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alm 22:30-32)
    But when you have the so-called guru of the Land of Promise location changing directions almost 90º, listing west as north and east as south, you create an entire generation of historians who feel completely free to alter and change the record, or ignore those parts they don’t agree with in order to maintain their own views. As an example, the entire land of Western New York is almost as flat as a pancake, from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario being the area’s sea level it rises across the westernmost region of the state of New York and includes the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Niagara Falls, the surrounding suburbs, as well as the outlying rural areas of the Great Lakes lowlands, the Genesee Valley, and the Southern Tier—in other words, the entire Land of Promise claimed to be in Western New York or the Great Lakes region. As an overall understanding of how low this area is, the following cities, all through the proposed Book of Mormon site is shown as:
    Oswego 285 feet; Syracuse 381 feet; Ithaca 404 feet; Oneida 430 feet; Seneca Falls 449 feet; Newark 457 feet; Palmyra 480 feet; Rochester 505 feet; Buffalo 600 feet; Geneva 610 feet; Niagara Falls 614 feet; Auburn 686 feet; Dansville 705 feet; Elmira 873 feet; Batavia 873 feet; Corning 1093 feet; Cortland 1129 feet; Salamanca 1381 feet; Belmont 1391 feet. Now from Buffalo (600) Eire (595) and Cleveland (653) along the coast of Lake Erie (their Sea West) for about 175 miles shows that the coastal height of the area is about 616 feet—making a rough rise from the shores of Lake Erie into the area of Belmont, about 775 feet; and that of Lake Ontario (their Sea North), for 140 miles from the coastal town of St. Catherines near Niagara Falls (321) to Rochester (505) and Oswego (285) averages about 371 feet, so the highest rise from Lake Erie (their West Sea) to the highest level in Western New York at Cortland (1129) would be a rise of about 758 feet. These are rises of about fifteen feet per mile, which is hardly enough to mention.
Yet, in Helaman, Samuel the Lamanite makes it very clear that at the time of the crucifixion, “there shall be many mountains laid low like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23).
    This was not just a statement of Samuel’s but he tells us an “thus hath the Lord commanded me, by his angel, that I should come and tell this thing unto you; yea, he hath commanded that I should prophesy these things unto you” (Helaman 14:9). Samuel also said the angel told him that all of these signs were for the “intent that they might believe that these signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men” (Helaman 14:28). Obviously, then, all would see these signs, they would be widespread so all could see them, and know for a surety that they were brought about as a sign by God. Mountains whose height is great is very specific!
    How on earth can anyone think Western New York would qualify for the Land of Promise when the Angel told Samuel to prophesy to the Nephites in Zarahemla that there would be mountains whose height is great rise up at the time of the Savior’s death? 
    Where are these mountains today? 
    Certainly not in western or southern New York state! Certainly not in the area of the hill Cumorah outside Palmyra. Certainly not in the area of the theorists’ Zarahemla!
    How clear, how plain and simple, how exact does the scriptural record have to be to show these Great lakes and eastern United States theorists that this area is not the land described in the scriptural record? 
    And that is just one issue. There are many others, such as where are the cities, the buildings, the roads, the palaces, the temples, the walls made of stone surrounding the cities and the land?
    It is a sad commentary indeed of so-called historians and scholars who write about the Book of Mormon but ignore what is written within its pages. The same can be said about every theory we find written today regarding the location of the Land of Promise except one.
    Only one area matches the descriptions Nephi gave us as listed in this series of posts.
Only one covers every single scriptural reference found in the Book of Mormon describing the Land of Promise. Only one connects every single scripture description to its location.
    Take all of these twenty-four scriptures (32 in all counting ones already mentioned) describing some part of the location of the Land of Promise. Every single one is found in the Andean area of South America, some of them nowhere else in the world:
(See the next post, “What is Opinion and What is Not? – Part VIII,” for more regarding what is fact about the Land of Promise and the scriptural record by comparing the scriptural account with the location and separating “fact” from “opinion” through the listing of 32 scriptures)

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