Monday, October 15, 2018

Are Theorists’ Statements and Claims Accurate and Consistent with Scripture? – Part III

Continued from the previous post, regarding the meaning of the scriptural record as opposed to statements frequently made by theorists in order to support or lend credence to their erroneous beliefs and opinions. Below we continue with Phylis Carol Olive’s view of the Hill Cumorah as found in her book: The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon, (Bonneville Books, 1998) about the hill Cumorah being in western New York.
Samuel the Lamanite preaching to the Nephites from the wall of the Temple in Zarahemla 

First, we should compare this idea with the scriptural record, in which we find Samuel the Lamanite prophesying to the Nephites from the wall of the Temple in Zarahemla, when he said, that the Land of Promise, after the crucifixion would be filled with new mountains, “whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23). O.K., we all know that, but what does it mean? First of all, it means that in the Land of Promise today, there should be mountains. And not just any mountains, but ones whose height is great, that ast the time of Samuel, there were mountains present, but evidently not much more than high hills or small to medium high mountains. These new mountains that would arise at the time of the crucifixion that he mentions, were to impress the Nephites, and therefore would have been much higher than what had existed in the land previously. This is why Samuel said “whose height is great.”
    To better understand that comment, we might want to consider that geologists and geographers have long classified a mountain as a landform that rises at least 1,000 feet or more above its surrounding area (called its prominence), below that was considered a hill (the Oxford Dictionary places that height at twice that amount).
    Prominence is that distance between the surrounding land and the height of the mountain peak, i.e., a 15,000-foot mountain elevation above sea level is not its prominence, which is determined by the distance between the peak and the land below that is around it. So if the land around the mountain is at 12,000 above sea level, the prominence is only 3,000 feet. As an example, the height of   in Chiapas, Guatemala, is 13,343 feet; however, its prominence is only 3,402 feet; while Montañas Peña Blanca in Guatemala has an elevation of 11,542 feet above sea level, it has a prominence of 6,096 feet, and the elevation of Volcán de Agua is 12,339 feet and the prominence is 6,499, making both these smaller mountains appear much higher than the taller mountain, Volcán Tacaná.
    The point being, that the mountains “whose height is great” would have to be both high in overall elevation and high in prominence for them to have impressed the Nephites and the Lamanites in the Land of Promise—for the Lord to have told them through Samuel, “to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men—and this to the intent that whosoever will believe might be saved, and that whosoever will not believe, a righteous judgment might come upon them; and also if they are condemned they bring upon themselves their own condemnation” (Helaman 14:28-29).
    As an example, while the tallest mountain in Mesoamerica is Volcán Tajumulco, a dormant volcano located in western Guatemala, near the Mexican border, with a peak elevation of 13,845 feet, Peru alone has 24 mountain ranges with 41 mountains between 19,000 and 22,200 feet elevations, 12 peaks with over 6,000-feet prominence, one over 9,000-foot prominence, one over 8,000-foot, one over 7,000-foot, and nine over 6,000-foot.
The high Mountains of Andean Peru 

In addition, mountains do not change height (other than through improved measurement methods and devices) with growth or loss generally measured in millimeters (one inch equals 25.4 millimeters). Thus mountains, if they change at all, do so very, very slowly—except when the Lord is involved. By comparison Mesoamerica has 16 peaks over 7,000-feet, and only 8 over 10,000-feet, with the highest at 13,845-feet.
    It should also be noted that while mountains tend to remain stationary, with growth and shrinkage measured in millimeters per year, those in the Land of Promise rose in the course of just three days (Helaman 14:27), and for the purpose 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). Thus, not just any mountains would do, even medium to tall ones, unless they were quite prominent in their height and prominence.
    As for the Heartland and Great Lakes theories, are there any mountains whose “height is great”? No. As an example, in the land the Phyllis Carol Olive  claims was the Nephite and Lamanite lands around Cumorah in western New York, of the fifteen counties that could be considered in the area of her Land of Promise, not one has a hill that could be called a mountain, let alone  “whose height is great”: Wayne County, 892 feet; Monroe County, 1026 feet; Genesee County, 1470 feet; Oswego County, 1550 feet; Seneca County, 1640 feet; Cayuga County, 1860 feet; Erie County, 1940 feet; Niagara County, 1940 feet; Oneida County, 1940 feet; Onondaga County, 2060 feet; Wyoming County, 2116 feet; Yates County, 2140 feet; Livingston County, 2244 feet; Ontario County, 2256 feet; Orleans County, 3858 feet. Just from this one check, it is easy to see that Olive’s claim of starting with the Hill Cumorah for a location of the Land of Promise doesn’t even qualify under one simple scriptural reference.
    No wonder that when it comes to lists of things theorists talk about the list for support of their theories, they never mention Samuel the Lamanite and his prophecies Yet, the problem is more than just no mountains. In another example of ignoring the scriptural reference in light of her own opinions, she has on her map has the Land Northward North Countries far to the east of the East Sea, and also has the Land of Many Waters to the east of the East Sea, which does not match a single comment in the scriptural record which never mentions anything to the east of the East Sea. Olive also places the Land of First Inheritance in the southeast shore of Lake Erie, her West Sea, between Cleveland and Sandusky, however, as we have reported here so many times that there was no way to get a sea-going ship into Lake Erie from either the Mississippi (or inland waterway system) or up the St. Lawrence River.
Left: U.S. Corps of Engineers Snag Boat in the 1800s, capturing floating logs and river debris: Right: The Engineers strengthening a levee along the river; even in the 1800s  flat-bottomed paddle wheel boats were being damaged or sunk because of the shallow depth, changing sediment layers, and floating debris; since 1812, the Corps of Engineers have been tasked to dredge, deepen and keep the river open to shipping, including building side channels, locks, and throughways

None of these waterways were open to the Great Lakes until the Corps of Engineers and the Canadian engineers dredged rivers, deepened them, built canals around extensive rapids and built locks to raise vessels to the level of Erie and Ontario. This is not an opinion or belief, but factual information that can be easily checked and verified, yet it is totally ignored by all Heartland and Great Lakes theorists, who want to claim that Lehi could sail up the Mississippi River to the Nauvoo area, or up the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes area—neither of which was possible until the 20th century.
    Olive has also placed numerous large islands along the coast of the East Sea, both adjacent to her Land of Zarahemla and the Land Northward, yet there is not a single inference, suggestion, or intimation of large islands or other lands as part of the East Sea in the scriptural record. In addition, she claims this East Sea is the Genesee River—originally known as the Zinochsaa by early writers (Jeddidiah Morse, Dobson’s Encyclopedia, Vol.4, the first encyclopedia in the newly independent U.S., cites Morse as its source, probably the American Gazetteer, 1795)—where it flowed through the Genesee Valley, according to geologists, was never more than a mile or so wide, which cannot lay claim to being a sea—having always been called a “river” by geologists, map makers, and historians.
    In addition, according to geologist Ray Hughes Whitbeck, the Genesee River was often referred to as a gorge, with the river a fast moving flow of water, often no more than a few hundred yards wide (“The Pre-Glacial Course of the Middle Portion of the Genesee River,” Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, Vol 34 No1, 1902, pp32-44). The rock-cutting effects Olive claims occurred during Nephite times is said to have been a part of the pre-glacial era (more than 12,000 years ago) of the pre-glacial rock-cutting events (Report of John Bogard, State Engineer and Surveyor of New York, 1890).
    In fact, according to Richard A. Young (Department of Geological Sciences, SUNY, Geneseo, NY, “Genesee Valley Glacial and Postglacial Geology from 50,000 Years Ago to the Present: A Selective Annotated Review”), geologists have pieced together the extent of the Genesee River and the Genesee Flood Plain back 100,000 years in detail, with additional information dating to some 2.5 million years ago (International Union of Geological Sciences).
    In all this time, the widest the Genesee has been is 2500 meters, or 8202 feet, which is about 1½ miles, which can hardly be called a sea, and only a theorist who needs to make it a sea would call it one. The point is, just because Olive wants to pick the hill Cumorah where the plates were located by Joseph Smith, as her starting point for location the Land of Promise, does not mean that anything else in the scriptural record fits her location for the Land of Promise. That however, did not keep her from claiming that this was the Book of Mormon lands and claiming that “everything fit perfectly.” Saying something is one thing, but having it be accurate and correct is another thing entirely.
Geologic history of the Genesee Valley is well known and understood 

According to geologists, the middle and late Wisconsin glacial history of the Genesee Valley has been extended back approximately 50,000 years by the dating of glacial and interglacial sediments, as well as wood samples recovered from water well drill holes, and by a complex stratigraphic record preserved in two adjacent gravel excavations on the west bank of the Genesee River near its confluence with Honeoye Creek (Richard A. Young, Geololgical Sciences SUNY College, and Les Sirkin, Earth Sciences, Adelphi University, 1994; Richard A. Young and G. S. Burr, 2006). The glacial history has been extended back through a middle Wisconsin ice advance that occurred approximately 35,000 years ago to a warmer interstadial episode that peaked globally around 50,000 years ago. This middle Wisconsin ice advance buried interstadial spruce trees growing on the ancestral Genesee floodplain that have finite radiocarbon ages as old as 48,800 Carbon-14 years Before the Present and extending slightly beyond the range of conventional radiocarbon dating (Richard A. Young and G.S. Burr, 2006).
    A pithy statement regarding geology, namely “Geography is not an indoor sport,” is clearly an accurate statement since one of the problems so many theorists make is writing about places they have not been and do not understand its history or the greater details of which they write—which results in numerous mistakes and erroneous assumptions or conclusions. This is especially true of critics who are looking for the slightest comment or statement they think will support their opinions and beliefs. 
(See the next post, “Determining the Location of Cumorah – Part IV,” for more on these criteria as to how theorists place geographical features of the Land of Promise wherever they want them to be despite what the scriptural record states)

1 comment:

  1. The mountains mentioned by Samuel were not made in three days, but three hours, at which time the tempest was over. Three days of darkness was the aftermath.

    "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;"