Saturday, June 4, 2016

Were There Volcanoes Involved in the Destruction of 3 Nephi? – Part II

Continuing with the previous post regarding the descriptions about the three days of darkness in 3 Nephi at the time of the crucifixion, and the disagreement over volcano eruptions between Mesoamericanists and the Great Lakes/Eastern U.S./Heartland theorists.
Large, explosive volcanic eruptions inject water vapor, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride, and ash (pulverized rock and pumice) into the stratosphere to heights of ten to twenty miles  above the Earth's surface.
    The most significant impacts from these injections come from the conversion of sulfur dioxide to sulfuric acid, which condenses rapidly in the stratosphere to form fine sufate aerosols. It is worth mentioning that the SO2 emissions alone of two different eruptions are sufficient to compare their potential climatic impact. The aerosols increase the Earth's albedo—its reflection of radiation from the Sun back into space, and thus cool the Earth's lower atmosphere or troposphere; however, they also absorb heat radiated up from the Earth, thereby warming the stratosphere. Several eruptions during the past century have caused a decline in the average temperature at the Earth's surface of up to half a degree (Fahrenheit) for periods of one to three years.
Coarse particles of volcanic ash look and feel like grains of sand, while very fine particles are powdery. Particles are sometimes called tephra—which actually refers to all solid material ejected by volcanoes. Ash is a product of explosive volcanic eruptions. Volcanic ash deposits tend to be thicker and have larger particles closer to the eruption site. As distance from the volcano increases, the deposit tends to thin out. The 1994 double eruption of Vulcan and Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea covered the nearby city of Rabaul in a layer of ash about 2 feet deep, while areas closer to the volcanoes were buried under 5-7 feet of ash.
However, it should be noted the plumes of volcanic ash can spread over large areas of sky, turning daylight into complete darkness and drastically reducing visibility. These enormous and menacing clouds are often accompanied by thunder and lightning. Volcanic lightning is a unique phenomenon and scientists continue to debate the way it works. Many scientists think that the sheer energy of a volcanic explosion charges its ash particles with electricity. Positively charged particles meet up with negatively charged particles, either in the cooler atmosphere or in the volcanic debris itself. Lightning bolts then occur as a means of balancing these charge distributions.
Volcanic ash and gases can sometimes reach the stratosphere, the upper layer in Earth’s atmosphere. This volcanic debris can reflect incoming solar radiation and absorb outgoing land radiation, leading to a cooling of the Earth’s temperature. In extreme cases, these “volcanic winters” can affect weather patterns across the globe. The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, Indonesia, the largest eruption in recorded history, ejected an estimated 150 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of debris into the air. The average global temperature cooled by as much as 5.4° Fahrenheit, causing extreme weather around the world for a period of three years. As a result of Mount Tambora’s volcanic ash, North America and Europe experienced the “Year Without a Summer” in 1816. This year was characterized by widespread crop failure, deadly famine, and disease. 
    If inhaled, volcanic ash can cause breathing problems and damage the lungs. Inhaling large amounts of ash and volcanic gases can cause a person to suffocate. Suffocation is the most common cause of death from a volcano. 
    Now, given all this information, if you were the prophet Nephite wriiting in 34 A.D. how would you write and describe the events in 3 Nephi regarding the destruction and three days of darkness and its cause?
    And the people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet Samuel, the Lamanite, yea, for the time that there should be darkness for the space of three days over the face of the land” (3 Nephi 8:3). Or And it came to pass that when the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the storm, and the tempest, and the quakings of the earth did cease -- for behold, they did last for about the space of three hours; and it was said by some that the time was greater; nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours -- and then behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land” (3 Nephi 8:19). And finally, “there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could feel the vapor of darkness; And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all; And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land. And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen” (3 Nephi 8:20-23).
    Without using the words: “volcano,” “lava,” “volcanic ash,” the author of 3 Nephi was about as accurate in describing several volcanoes erupting at the same time, filling the entire area with the gases of eruption that covered the sky and blocked out every bit of sunlight until it was blanketed in absolute nighttime darkness for the space of three days.
Now I realize that the Great Lakes theorists object vehemently to volcanic eruption as a cause of the events in 3 Nephi, since there are no volcanoes or even mountains basically in the eastern United States within the areas different theorists have placed the Land of Promise, centering around western New York. And, according to them, there is no mention of "volcano," "ash," or "lava," therefore it could not be a volcano eruption being written about.
   So granted the words of a volcano eruption are not used in the scriptural record, as described earlier, the words associated with volcanoes were not coined in Hebrew and would not have been in Egyptian, where volcanoes never erupted, but the results of such an eruption are clearly given and described by the disciple Nephi and abridged by Mormon (however, it should be added that in 2007, Egyptian archaeologists found what they believe are traces of solidified lava on the northern coast of Sinai Peninsula that date to around 1650-1550 B.C. supporting accounts that ancient Egyptian settlements were buried by a massive volcanic eruption in the Mediterranean where the Nile Delta meets the Sinai peninsula. According to Zahi Hawass, the lava and ash hail from Santorini, an eastern Mediterranean volcano that has been linked to the myth of Atlantis. Other experts doubt the origin in Egypt, but believe that the lava was carried in by regular ocean currents).
    As the BYU Daily Universe stated: “There has been a shift more recently to finding Mesoamerica in the Book of Mormon instead of finding the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica,” which is an excellent point; however, one must understand what is actually written and being described. It is one thing to say that the darkness in 3 Nephi is not from a volcano, but we know it is from something. Did the Lord just up and cause it because he wanted it dark as in mourning his death? Of course he could have since he can do anything as we’ve often described. However, it is doubtful he did that without it being from some natural occurrence, such as the volcano the description so aptly fits.
    Here, then, we see the Great Lakes theorist looking at the Book of Mormon through Great Lakes lens, complaining that the Mesoamericanists are looking through Mesoamerican lens.
Whether you wear Mesoamerican Lens or Great Lakes Lens, or any other lens of one theory or another, you are bound to have already made up your mind, or are at least leaning in that direction and tend to interpret what you hear, read, and see through the lens you are wearing
    As the above theorist added, “Once you start looking at the Book of Mormon through a Mesoamerican lens, you can’t unsee it.” On the other hand, the same is true for the Great Lakes lensif you look through that, you cannot unsee that, either.
    The sad thing is, neither one can see that they are looking through tinted lensInstead, they and we should be wearing scriptural reference lens and seeing what is actually written and not what we want to be written. If we do that, we can see tht what is being described sounds a lot like a series of volcanoes--so the questions should be, if not volcanoes, what then? Something caused the three days of darkness!
    In an effort to make his point, but not see that he is describing his own error at the same time, the author of the website adds: “Thanks to a historical mistake from 1842, millions of people have been indoctrinated to read the Book of Mormon through a Mesoamerican lens and now they "can't unsee it. They're stuck. And so they produce new translations that reflect what they "see" through the Mesoamerican lens. (Maybe we should go ahead and call it the Mesoamerican Urim and Thummim, because that's how authoritative these new translations have become).”
(See the next post, ”Were There Volcanoes Involved in the Destruction of 3 Nephi? – Part III,” as we continue with the descriptions about the three days of darkness in 3 Nephi at the time of the crucifixion, and the disagreement over volcano eruptions between Mesoamericanists and the Great Lakes/Eastern U.S./Heartland theorists).


  1. I've been talking to the folks who believe the North American model lately and you are correct that when they look through those lenses they can't see anything else. It doesn't matter to them what the scriptures say. Joseph and Olive said NY Cumorah was the place and that is that.

    But the Meso-American folks have a better claim than the NA model because at least the land has a North and South separated by a narrow neck with west and east seas. That is something that the NA folks really have to twist themselves into a pretzel to make work.

    It takes a careful reading of the scriptures to get it right and that is the point. Thanks Del for your careful reading. Ira

  2. Del, following your blog is like taking a college class. Maybe you should put it on some day.

  3. Thank you for you kind remarks. Always nice to get a compliment :)