Friday, November 25, 2016

The Problem With Time – Part I

As Science gains more information, and technology improves to evaluate that information, the scientific beliefs have changed drastically over the years. As an example, on a single issue—the Age of the Earth—science has changed its mind numerous times.  
In the 1700s the Earth was believed to be 6000 years old, but by 1774, it was believed to be at least 75,000 years old. However, during these years evolutionists began to realize that it would have taken far longer for life to have evolved than a mere 75,000 years and started discussing an Earth that was millions of years old.  In 1893 the Age of the Earth was thought to be 55 million years old; and in 1911, it was believed to be between 340 million years to accomodate for a much longer period of time for life to evolve than first believed. Yet, by the 1920s that age was bumped up through the hundreds of millions and in 1926 the age settled on 1,640 million or 1.64 billion years. 
    When I first entered school in 1941, the earth was considered to be 3.2 billion years old under the principle that "given enough time, anything could happen" principle and, in 1946 it was believed to be 3.6 billion years old. Finally, in 1953 it was thought to be 4.5 billion years old, and by 1957, it had arrived at 4.55 billion years old with a plus or minus figure of 0.07 billion years. 
    During most of those years, it wasn't that any evidence of any kind promoted the increase in age, only that new discoveries kept showing how long it would take for life to independently evolve in the manner many scientists believed it occurred. In a matter of just 16 years with science technology at a well advanced state, science claimed the Earth’s Age expanded  1.35 billion years. In 2015, the best estimate of the Earth’s Age had been downgraded to 4.55 billion years with a plus or minus figure of 0.02 billion years. A figure that is now well established in the minds and conscience of most educated people and in the minds of most people in general.
    Herein lies one of the major problems with placing the location of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. Is the Earth thousands of years old as the Lord has said, or anciently old, in the billions of years, as science claims? Naturally, to an “Old Earth” person, scientist or not, placing the Land of Promise in South America makes no sense at all, since it is claimed to have been an island, and South America has not been an island for many millions of years, nor has it been disconnected from Panama for a like number of millennia.
    However, to a “Young Earth” person, who accepts the Biblical age of the Earth, which would place the Earth’s age around 13,000 years old to-date, as the Bible tells us, an island South America in the age of man makes sense. This is the problem that most members of the Church have today is in seeing the huge continent of South America and knowing from Book of Mormon study that the Jaredite and Nephite Land of Promise was nowhere near that size, thus they are forced to look elsewhere, and at the moment, that seems to be between Mesoamerica and North America for the location of their models.
Readers of the Book of Mormon often limit their ability to fully grasp and understand the contents when they dismiss its geographical setting as something unimportant. While it is true that the Church has no official position on geography, and it is certainly secondary to the teachings about Christ and being a Another Witness of the Savior, its authors constantly felt physical details were important enough to include in their writing numerous references to the physical setting of events--especially Mormon who was abridging the record for a future people to read.
    As a writing consistently linked to physical details, not just common statements or preaching of theoretical platitudes and lofty doctrine. Authors of the scriptural record spent time to describe specific hills, valleys, rivers, cities, and lands with names and real physical locations carefully and accurately woven into the story. There are temples, thrones, prisons, fortifications, markets, and social structures to match: priests, kings, lawyers and judges, soldiers, and merchants. In some cases, these details matter a great deal and are part of the message for our day.
    Of course, it should be noted that such trappings of native American life are not the type of things that Joseph Smith would have known living in upstate New York in his era, but they are elements of authentic cultures of the Americas that took place many thousands of miles away from where he grew up, and the only material that offers hope of reasonably locating the places built into the record of the Book of Mormon. They matter not just for validating or defending the work, but for better understanding what happened, to whom, and why, sometimes with added understanding in drawing lessons for our day and our lives.
    Thus, we can see that if it could be shown without a question of a doubt that South America was an island along the Western Andean shelf as geologists tell us, but during the Book of Mormon era, from about 2100 B.C. until the time of the crucifixion when “there was a great and terrible destruction in the land southward [and] there was a more great and terrible destruction in the land northward” (3 Nephi 8:11-12), and “the face of the whole earth became deformed” (3 Nephni 8:17), then South America would be a much more viable location for the Jaredite kingdom and the Nephite nation to call the Land of Promise.
    So one of the first things the Mesoamericanist has to do to disqualify South America is to claim the changes wrought by the terrible destruction in 3 Nephi 8 was not so terrible after all, but just a few surface changes, cosmetic, which is the exact approach taken by John L. Sorenson in his book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon.
    The problem lies in understanding. What actually took place at the time of the crucifixion during the three-hour period of destruction described in 3 Nephi 8. Until we fully understand this event, we can in nowise understand the location of the Land of Promise for those so inclined. Even Sorenson claims: “Tempest, earthquake, and risings and sinkings of the land are vividly described” (p318), and goes on to admit “the face of the whole earth became deformed and even basic rock strata were cracked.” However, he then goes on to say, “So we need to use restraint in the picture we allow our minds to construct of the totality of the destruction…we should not go beyond what the text declares with measured care” (pp319-320).
Part of the problem lies in the lack of common language between Mormon and Joseph Smith. After all, the word “tornado” was unknown to Mormon, as well as several other words we use today to describe such devastating events. But we also need to recognize that such events bring about such results that are so well known and documented and sometimes easily to describe, such as whirlwind/tornado. Sorenson in his book cite several events in Mesoamerica, yet, others could be cited around what is loosely called the Ring of Fire, or the circum-Pacific Belt, that is the major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where a vast number of all earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the world occur.
    In a huge horseshoe shape around the Pacific, this Ring of Fire is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes. About 90% of the world's earthquakes and 81% of the world's largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire. It is also important to know that this area is not limited to Mesoamerica as Sorenson tries to imply—it covers approximately 25,000 miles, of which about 4,400 miles is along South America and only about 1,400 miles of Mesoamerica coastline, of which there are between 35 and 40 volcanoes in Mesoamerica and 142 volcanoes in South America—all along the western coastal belt.
    According to James L. Baer: “One of the more active subduction zones of the world is located along the western coast of South America and the western edge of Central America. The west coasts of South and Central America have the geologic features that one would expect to find at the site of such a disaster [as described in 3 Nephi]” (“The Third Nephi Disaster, a Geological View,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 19/1, Spring 1986, p130-131).
In fact, “The mountainous area of South America abuts a long, linear ocean trench [that] exceeds 20,000 feet in depth and is bordered along the shore by mountains more than 22,000 feet high” (p130).
    Thus the elevation difference of more than 40,000 feet along the South American west coast makes this a likely site for large-scale fault development, allowing blocks of earth to slip oceanward. Such a slippage could occur during a devastating earthquake and could explain the loss of the city of Moroni into the depths. It should be noted that high-altitude air photos of the Andean Mountains reveal what may be disconnected segments of an ancient highway system, apparently separate by considerable vertical displacements, which could have been disrupted by the earthquakes described in 3 Nephi 8.
    As Nephi wrote: “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 the people mourned, filling the air with their moanings and groanings over their fate: “and the great destruction which had come upon them” (3 Nephi 8:23).
(See the next post, “The Problem With Time – Part II,” for more information about the destruction in 3 Nephi 8 and its significant meaning in understanding the location of the Land of Promise)

15 comments:

  1. http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/age.html

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    1. Since you are a scientist in Geology, I am curious if you believe it is possible that the Amazon basin was underwater before the time of Christ? I am not sure how Del would respond to this usgs.gov link, but Mormonism teaches that the elements are eternal, so I am sure he is not teaching a "creation out of nothing" 6000 years ago like some teach.

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  2. Tell me where it is written that the Lord said the earth is only thousands of years old.

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  3. https://www.lds.org/new-era/2016/07/science-and-our-search-for-truth?lang=eng

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  4. https://www.lds.org/new-era/2016/07/science-and-our-search-for-truth?lang=eng

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  5. I happened to look up the history of the word "hour" since it was used in the Book of Mormon. It turns out that even though the Bible does not mention that word, and there is no evidence the ancient Israelites used the term, however the ancient Egyptians were the ones that developed it: their sundial was divided into 12 parts during the day. Since the Nephites obviously had Egyptian education, they would know about the 12 hour daytime "hours".

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  6. Brandon, let me explain something to you about time. I'm a geologist that accepts the fact that the earth is young. I studied at Utah State University and received my degree there and have worked as a geologist for over 35 years. There are two camps and the one you are talking about is the secular, humanists who reject the bible and other scriptures. These people reject Noah's flood of Genesis 6 as well. BYU accepts this however and the reason they do is because graduates would not be able to get a job if they do not accept this dogma. To be short however, Del's site will give you good information about the true time scale that coicides with the scriptures. The Evang. Christians have done an outstanding job of correcting the record as well. Go to the Insitute for Creation research = ICR.org for very good articles on the creation and Noah's flood. They reject the 4.55 billion year earth and have done excellent research that refutes it. I can give you scriptures as well from the book of Moses that tell you that Adam was the 1st flesh and the 1st man created on the earth. The 6-day creation in Genesis and PofGP is a spiritual creation not the physical. But you can research that out yourself. Just go get educated on this subject and don't believe all the stuff you get in school because it's simply wrong and it will contradict the scriptures. Ira

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  7. iterry. Well said.

    Brandon: You might be interested in an upcoming blog article slated for publication in about ten days. It is titled "The Jewish Hour" relating to the "hour" that the Nephites undoubtedly used, at least while living under the Law of Moses through 34 A.D. and I would assume beyond.

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  8. Brandon. If you would spend some time reading this blog, the subject of "where it is written" that the Earth is 13,000 years old is covered in several different articles. As for the scientific part of this blog, we published a book called "Scientific Fallacies and Other Myths" which is quite extensive and complete that you would find answers all your questions regarding what we write about here.

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  9. As for listing url addys it might be of interest to you that i spend time in reading all or parts of some 50 blogs a day on average. I am a researcher by nature and in my later years have spent some 30 years in the numerous fields I write about, starting with the scriptures first.

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  10. Brandon...as for your geotime/age website, no one is arguing the age of the Universe and the rocks that can be found on the Earth. As we have discussed many times here, the Earth was organized out of existing material and tha tmeans you will have a Young Earth in its organization but old material used to make it. Much like using existing wood from a barn and making another structure out of it--the barn wood would have much older nail holes, etc., in it than the actual forming of the current structure.

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  11. erichard...contrarily, the word "hour" is mentioned in the Bible: Jesus answered, “Are there not 12 hours in a day?” (John 11:9). And in Matthew: “The householder went out "early in the morning" to hire laborers to work in his vineyard; and he also went out "about the third hour," "about the sixth and ninth hour," and "about the eleventh hour," to hire more workers. And "when even was come," he paid them their wages” (Matthew 20:1-12). The point is that the Jews had a specific "hour" that fluctuated in time based on time of year and the amount of daylight between sunrise and sunset. See our upcoming article on “The Jewish Hour.”

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  12. erichard. I have written numerous articles over the years in this blog to the fact that ex nihilo (out of nothing) was a later addition to the Cristian thinking--the world was organized out of existing materials (matter) which is eternal according to Joseph Smith, Pearl of Great Price (Abraham) and the Temple instruction.

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  13. Welcome to the blog Brandon. The dates are below- from Del's blog entry april 14, 2010 (the blog has a good search engine). The books of Genesis and Moses clearly give the dates back to when Adam left the garden of eden (4,000 bc). Add 7,000 years for the creation of the earth and 2,000 years since 0 AD and you have an earth that is 13,000 years old. If you believe the Bible, I don't know how you come to any other conclusion. Even if you aren't sure how long the creation took, the scriptures are clear that there was no death until Adam left the garden of Eden. So, dinosaurs, etc could not have died prior to 4,000 b.c. - or 13,000 years ago. Either the scientists claiming dinosaurs are millions of years old are wrong or the Bible is.

    These are the dates of the Patriarchs as Moses recorded them:

    Adam was 130 when Seth was born in 3870 BC (Moses 6:10)(Gen 5:3)
    Seth 105 when Enos born in 3765 BC (Moses 6:13)(Gen 5:6)
    Enos 90 when Cainan born in 3675 BC (Moses 6:17)(Gen 5:9)
    Cainan 70 when Mahalaleel born in 3605 BC (Moses 6:19)(Gen 5:12)
    Mahalaleel 65 when Jared born in 3540 BC (Moses 6:20)(Gen 5:15)
    Jared 162 when Enoch born in 3378 BC (Moses 6:21)(Gen 5:18)
    Enoch 65 when Methuselah; born in 3313 BC (Moses 6:25)(Gen 5:21)
    Methuselah 187 when Lamech born in 312 BC (Moes 6 8:5)(Gen 5:25)
    Lamech 182 when Noah born in 2944 BC (Moses 8:8)(Gen 5:28)
    Noah 450 when Japheth born in 2494 BC (Moses 8:12)
    Noah 492 when Shem born in 2452 BC (Moses 8:12)
    Noah 500 when Ham born in 2444 BC (Moses 8:12)(Gen 5:32)
    Flood came 100 years later in 2344 BC (Gen 7:6)
    1656 total years elapsed

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