Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nibley’s Asian Steppes and the Jaredites – Part III

Leaving the Asian Plateau after more than a three thousand mile journey across the steppes, as some scholars claim, the Jareidtes would have faced a formidable obstacle. This plateau ends where the current borders of China, Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan come together. The obstacle facing them at this point was the Altai Mountain Range.

These mountains merge with the Sayan Mountains and have summits over 14,000 feet. These mountains themselves are extremely high, rising directly from the steppes, and whose peaks are continually covered in deep snow. Passes between Gora Belucha at 14,783 feet and Najrambal Uul at 14,291 feet, both in an area of year-round snow. In these mountains and passes, the temperature can reach 105º during the day and drop to -40º at night, with 10-20 inches of rain or equivalent snowfall.
The mountain ranges the Jaredites would have had to cross are continuous as this picture shows. One very tall range after another for miles and miles

In all mountain ranges there are depressions, which in Switzerland are called necks, and in America are called a notch, and elsewhere in the world are called passes. In these are found the pathways, trails and roads over the ranges. In the case of the Altai Mountains, passes across the range are few and difficult, the chief being the Ulan–daban to the north, which is 9,445 feet and the Chapchan-daban to the south, at 10,554 feet, where the permanent snow line exists, which is the altitude boundary of a snow-capped mountain.

Crossing mountains today are less of a problem than in antiquity, with special cold-weather gear, hiking shoes and clothes, pitons, clamps, light-weight ropes, backpacks, water bottles, hand warmers, concentrated food, maps, and trails clearly marked. Because of these and other advantages, mountain climbing has become a major sport, and hiking mountain trails and passes a weekend adventures. But in 2100 B.C., and in the area under discussion, climbing those mountain passes would have been a serious and deadly journey.

Consider the plight of the famous Hannibal Barca, who started out to cross the French Alps and drop down into Italy to commence the second Punic War in 218 B.C. When he left his Spanish base he had a 100,000-man army of mercenaries and officers, 8,000 horsemen and their mounts, and around 40 elephants. His fatal trek across the Alps has been called one of the greatest military journeys in ancient history. However, when he reached the Italian side of the Alps, he had only 25,000 troops and 3 elephants, the bulk of the losses occurring crossing the Alps through a mountain pass of about 10,500 feet, considered to be not only the highest pass in the Alps—yet, lower than the passes the Jaredites would have traversed.

Hannibal had no baggage train, each soldier carried his own supplies, and there were engineers who forged ahead of the army to build roads they could use through the pass, yet his hourney was fraught with dangers, extreme difficulties, and constant problems with his veteran and combat-hardened army, who were continually frightened from the weather, storms, snowfall, and alpine sounds. The Jaredites, on the other hand, would have had about one hundred people, including children and babies, numerous animals, birds, fish, bees and seeds of every kind.

The two passes mentioned earlier over the Altai mountains were the best and most used passes between the steppes and China and the only way to traverse this mountain range until well into modern times. To suggest that the Jaredites, who would have been the first to cross this range in 2100 B.C., could have crossed either of these passes that were even higher than Hannibal’s, who had battle hardened troops, cavalry horses, war elephants and road engineers, yet lost about one half of their men, and most of their elephants, seems beyond a sensible person’s imagination. No matter whether the Jaredites would have started from the steppes area (Nibley), or from Mesopotamia and gone north and across the Caspian (Reynolds) into the steppes area, one can only imagine at the impossible crossing of these mountains down into the Gobi and to the sea beyond.

(See Part IV for additional information on how Nibley has the Jaredites reaching the Steppes from Mesopotamia over the Caucasus Barrier)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nibley’s Asian Steppes and the Jaredites – Part II

While many scenarios might be possible relating to the Jaredite migration in 2100 B.C., only 220 years or so after the Flood, there are some significant problems with Hugh Nibley’s idea of the Jaredites being from the Steppes area. (See Part I for the previous information on this).
Those problems are:

1. The Steppes, as shown above, lie over 1000 miles to the north of Mesopotamia where the Tower was built. Why were the Jaredites so far away from the Tower and the land of Shinar when the scriptures claim the Jaredites “came forth from the great tower at the time the Lord confounded the language” (Ether 1:33)?

2. If what was meant was the progenitors of Jared, his brother and friends were from the Steppes area, then one must wonder about the timing. Nimrod, the son of Cush, was the great grandson of Noah, born probably within fifty years or so of the Ark landing. It is unlikely that Ham or Cush went north up above the Aral Sea, to dwell in the Steppes area for just a few years, then in a single generation backtracked their journey and went west through Iran to Mesopotamia.

3. The extreme western steppes area is approximately 700-800 miles north of Mt. Ararat along the Turkish-Iranian border—the proposed landing site of the Ark. On the other hand, the tower area of Babel is about 400 miles south of Mt. Ararat. We know of no children or grandchildren of Noah who went north from the Ark after the waters regressed. The age-old understanding was that descendants of Japheth went east, Ham went south, and Shem moved west and south.

4. While the later Jaredite generations became a warring nation in the land of promise, there is nothing in scripture to suggest that Jared, his brother, or their friends had been warring people in Mesopotamia. First of all, the whole earth “was of one language and of one speech” (Genesis 11:1), a situation that does not often lead to warring tribes. Second, they worked together to build a city and a tower (Genesis 11:4), again, not the fodder for warring tendencies. Third, the brother of Jared, a large and mighty man, was highly favored of the Lord (Ether 1:34) and had been a very prayerful man much of his life (Ether 1:43). His brother was also a faithful man who knew that the Lord (Ether 1:34) had compassion for him (Ether 1:35), who felt the Lord would lead them into the most choice land of all (Ether 1:38). None of this speaks of a people “from the warring steppes of Asia,” but rather of God-fearing men who knew and conversed with the Lord through prayer with some regularity, close descendants of Noah, and no doubt, living in close proximity to him.

5. Nor can it be shown from scripture that Jared and his brother and friends were people used to “issuing forth from the well-known dispersion center of the great migrations in western Asia.” In fact, Jared did not even know that the Lord was going to drive them out of the land (Ether 1:38). And if they lived in a well-known dispersion area, why would Jared not know where to go if they were driven out of the land of Shinar?

Nothing regarding Nibley’s statement seems consistent with the Book of Mormon, nor of the Jaredite people as a whole. Nor do we know from history that the Steppes were occupied by “warring tribes” around 2100 B.C., about two years after the Flood. In those twoo hundred years or so, all the people of the earth were brothers, cousins, uncles, etc. While warring tribes could have existed, we find nothing to verify this fact so close to when Noah and his sons lived after the Ark landed.

(See Part III for additional information on how Nibley has the Jaredites reaching the Pacific Ocean and the severe problems involved)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Nibley’s Asian Steppes and the Jaredites – Part I

The most popular belief among Book of Mormon scholars is the one submitted by Hugh Nibley, and currently found in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, namely, that the Jaredites were “from the warring steppes of Asia issuing forth from the well-known dispersion center of the great migrations in western Asia and moved across the central plains, crossing the shallow seas (left over from the last ice age) in barges and… reaching the great sea.”

First of all, these Steppes cover an area stretching from the western borders of Hungary to the eastern borders of Mongolia, including the area of western Russia and the Ukraine. This huge area runs east and west between the Siberian Plain on the north and the Turanian Plain on the south, from the Black Sea on the west, north above the Caspain and Aral seas to the mountains and plateau of Mongolia in the east. The closest part of the steppes to Mesopotamia is across the entire country of Iran about eleven hundred miles (about 1600 miles to the center of the steppe region). This means that Hugh Nibley in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism places the Jaredites over a thousand miles to the north from the region of the Tower of Babel where the Book of Ether places them (Ether 1:33).

For the Jaredites to then travel toward the Pacific Ocean (Nibley’s “great sea”), the journey, would begin somewhere around the Caspian or Aral seas in western Kazarkhan (the steppes), a country twice the size of Alaska, at near sea level, cross thousands of miles to where the current borders of China, Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan come together, then climb through the Altai mountain range then drop down onto the Mongolian plateau through gradual minor plateaus to the Gobi Desert.

After crossing the thousand mile wide Gobi Desert, with its frequent thousand square mile dust storms, they would reach the area of Tianjin along the northwestern coast of the Bay of Chihli, which would have taken them past the area of present-day Beijing on their 4000 mile journey, traverse mountain passes as high as 9,000 to 10,000 feet and a daily temperature swing of over 100-degrees.

Then, once at the sea and barges built, these small, lightweight vessels would have to cross the currents of the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, then the widest point of the Pacific Ocean, around the 30º north latitude, which runs a little north of Hawaii and a little south of San Diego, a total distance of more than 7,500 sea miles—the entire way against all known sea and wind currents.

If, once into the East China Sea they picked up the Kuroshio Current, they would travel with the current and winds up past Japan, east of the Kuril Islands, south of the Aleutians, and down the western coast of America, to about the 30º north latitude (northern Baja California) and then back out to sea by the north equatorial current in the constant ocean gyre of the North Pacific. Again, a trip of some 7,500 miles, with no sea or wind currents to drive them into either Central or South American shores.

Obviously, what may seem logical looking at a map, is not always quite so easy in actual travel—in fact would have been quite impossible in 2100 B.C.

While many scenarios might be possible relating to the Jaredite migration in 2100 B.C., only 220 years or so after the Flood, there are some significant problems with Hugh Nibley’s idea of the Jaredites being from the Steppes area. (See Part II for this information)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Oldest Archaeolgocial Find in Americas Discovered in Peru

A 4,000-year-old temple filled with murals has been unearthed in the Lambayeque valley, near the ancient Sipan complex on the northern coast of Peru, making it one of the oldest finds in the Americas, a leading archaeologist said on Saturday. Discoveries at Sipan, an administrative and religious center of the Moche culture, have included a gold-filled tomb built 1,700 years ago for a pre-Incan king.

The ancient "Fire Temple" found in Peru was built thousands of years ago according to carbon dating tests and excavation. The colorful temple, built long before the Inca, was built thousands of years ago by an advanced civilization according to Walter Alva, a museum director and prominent archaeologist, as published by a Peruvian newspaper. The carbon dating tests indicate that the site is 4,000 years old—the oldest known city in the Americas is Caral, also near the Peruvian coast, which researchers dated to 2627 B.C.; however, the mural at Ventarron is considered the oldest artifact found in the Americas.

Unearthed in Peru's archeologically rich northern coastal desert, the temple has a staircase leading to an altar that was used for worshipping fire and making offerings to deities. Some of the walls of the 27,000-square-foot site—almost half the size of a football field—were painted, and a white and red mural depicts a deer being hunted with a net. The stairway caught their attention because it is an architectural oddity in that region, Alva said. The temple was apparently constructed by an "advanced civilization" because it was built from blocks of river sediment rather than adobe or stone.

The site was built by a culture that predated other pre-Columbian cultures such as the Cupisnique, Chavinoide, Chavín, and Moche, Alva said. "This discovery shows an architectural and iconographic tradition different from what has been known until now.” Scientists have called the site Ventarron, which is about 470 miles from Lima, and twelve miles from another ancient site, called Sipan that flourished from 1 A.D. onward.

The impressive state of preservation at the 4,000-year-old site is likely due to its having been intentionally buried thousands of years ago. When the site's use was complete, the culture that built the temple covered it with earth. The discovery of this temple reveals evidence suggesting the region of Lambayeque was one of great cultural exchange between the Pacific coast and the rest of Peru." According to Alva, they found shells that would have come from coastal Ecuador.

Once again, non LDS scientists, archaeologists and anthropologists have found evidence of an advanced civilization in the Andea area of South America that not only predates Mesoamerica, buy shows a building ability commensurate with the abilities of the Nephites.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The New World’s Oldest Calendar

Researchers at a 4,200-year-old temple in Peru yields clues to an ancient people who clocked the heavens

According to Anne Bolen, they were excavating at Buena Vista, an ancient settlement in the foothills of the Andes an hour's drive north of Lima, Peru. A dozen archaeology students hauled rocks out of a sunken temple and found bits of tan rope poking out of the rubble in the temple's central room. Buried beneath that were the mummified remains of a woman in her late 40s, her body mummified by the dry desert climate. Two intertwined ropes, one of braided llama wool and the other of twisted cotton, bound her straw shroud, bundling the skeleton in the fetal position typical of ancient Peruvian burials.

Nearby, the researchers found a metal pendant that they believe she wore.
The mummy—the only complete set of human remains yet recovered from Buena Vista—may play a role in a crucial debate about the origin of civilization in Peru. The excavation's leaders, Robert Benfer and Neil Duncan, both of the University of Missouri, claim that this find shows that "Peru is the only exception to how civilizations developed 4,000 to 5,000 years ago."

Duncan says these people must have grown many plants for food, given evidence that they also grew cotton (for fishing nets) and gourds (for floats). Benfer and his team began excavating at Buena Vista in 2002. Two years later they uncovered the site's most notable feature, a ceremonial temple complex about 55 feet long. At the heart of the temple was an offering chamber about six feet deep and six feet wide. It was brimming with layers of partially burned grass; pieces of squash, guava and another native fruit called lucuma; guinea pig; a few mussel shells; and scraps of cotton fabric—all capped by river rocks. Carbon-dated burned twigs from the pit suggest the temple was completed more than 4,200 years ago.

A few weeks before the end of the excavation season, the archaeologists cleared away rocks from an entrance to the temple and found themselves staring at a mural. It was staring back. A catlike eye was the first thing they saw, and when they exposed the rest of the mural they found that the eye belonged to a fox nestled inside the womb of a llama.

Within days, Duncan spied a prominent rock on a ridge to the east. It lined up with the center of the offering chamber, midway between its front and back openings. The rock appeared to have been shaped into the profile of a face and placed on the ridge. It occurred to Benfer that the temple may have been built to track the movements of the sun and stars.

Actually, as has been reported before in these Posts, the ancient Peruvians built several observatories around this time.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Earliest-known Evidence of Peanut, Cotton and Squash Farming Found

Anthropologists working on the slopes of the Andes in northern Peru have discovered the earliest-known evidence of peanut, cotton and squash farming in the Western Hemisphere, dating back 5,000 to 9,000 years. Their findings provide long-sought-after evidence that some of the early development of agriculture in the New World took place at farming settlements in the Andes.
The discovery was published in "Science" Magazine. The research team made their discovery in the Ñanchoc Valley, which is approximately 500 meters above sea level on the lower western slopes of the Andes in northern Peru. “We believe the development of agriculture by the Ñanchoc people served as a catalyst for cultural and social changes that eventually led to intensified agriculture, institutionalized political power and new towns in the Andean highlands and along the coast 4,000 to 5,500 years ago,” Tom D. Dillehay, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University and lead author on the publication, said. He added, “Our new findings indicate that agriculture played a broader role in these sweeping developments than was previously understood.”

Dillehay and his colleagues found wild-type peanuts, squash and cotton as well as a quinoa-like grain, manioc and other tubers and fruits in the floors and hearths of buried preceramic sites, garden plots, irrigation canals, storage structures and on hoes. The researchers used a technique called accelerator mass spectrometry to determine the radiocarbon dates of the materials. Data gleaned from botanists, other archaeological findings and a review of the current plant community in the area suggest the specific strains of the discovered plant remains did not naturally grow in the immediate area.
“The plants we found in northern Peru did not typically grow in the wild in that area,” Dillehay said. “We believe they must have therefore been domesticated elsewhere first and then brought to this valley.”

“The use of these domesticated plants goes along with broader cultural changes we believe existed at that time in this area, such as people staying in one place, developing irrigation and other water management techniques, creating public ceremonials, building mounds and obtaining and saving exotic artifacts.” The researchers dated the squash from approximately 9,200 years ago, the peanut from 7,600 years ago and the cotton from 5,500 years ago.

Dillehay published the findings with fellow researchers Jack Rossen, Ithaca College, Ithaca, N.Y.; Thomas C. Andres, The Curcurbit Network News, New York; and David E. Williams, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Dillehay is chair of the Department of Anthropology at Vanderbilt, Professor Extraordinaire at the Universidad Austral de Chile and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007. The research was supported by the Instituto Nacional de Cultura, Lima; the National Science Foundation; the Heinz Foundation; the University of Kentucky and Vanderbilt University.

Once again, non-LDS anthropologists, archaeologists and scientists, have verified the fact that the Andean area of South America was settled long before the area of Central America and, specifically, Mesoamerica, verifying the accuracy of the Book of Mormon and that Lehi landed in South America.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Drift Voyages from Western Hemisphere

One of the important things to keep in mind, is that the currents moving westward from Mexico and Guatemala (Mesoamerica) take a sailing ship directly to the Philippine Islands, north of Indonesia. However, drift voyages from the Andean coast (Peru, Ecuador and northern Chile) take a sailing ship to Polynesia.

Thor Heyerdahl proved the drift voyage route in the “Kon-Tiki” from Peru in 1947, across an area of the Pacific Ocean about the size of Western Europe, and landing in the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia.
(Left: Construction in progress of the Tangaroa at the navy shipyard at Callao, Peru, two weeks prior to launch)
60 years later, a more sophisticated vessel, the “Tangaroa,” sailed in a drift voyage from the Peruvian coast to the Polynesian islands, a distance of 4,620 miles from late April to early August 2006. The idea behind the design of the raft was to improve upon Thor Heyerdahl's 1947 “Kon-Tiki” expedition, and from a technical point of view, the ship’s sail was three times larger, and the ship itself larger and better built.
The “Tangaroa” also used a Polynesian design for a “guara,” a centerboard to steer the craft, which resulted in a shorter, and thus, faster journey. However, this was a drift voyage—that is, the ship rode on the currents and was driven forth before the wind as Nephi’s ship had been in 600 B.C.

Not only does this verify the fact that Hagoth’s ship that sailed to an unknown destination, would have been driven to Polynesia, but also shows why a weather-driven ship in 600 B.C., “driven forth before the wind” would have reached the area of Coquimbo Bay in Chile after setting sail from the southern Arabian coast and not reached Mesoamerica as so many theorists claim.

The problem with trying to prove a model for the Land of Promise based upon 21st century knowledge is that people today, unless they are experienced in the matter, tend to look at a map and say “this is where they went,” when, in reality, such a journey in such a direction would have been impossible at the time. This is true with Hugh Nibley’s course for the Jaredites over the sacred mountains of east China to the coast and directly across the Pacific, to John L. Sorenson’s claim that the Lehi Colony sailed east across the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean to Indonesia, then across the Pacific to Mesoamerica. Neither voyage would have been possible in 600 B.C., and actually not until around the 17th or 18th century.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Languages in the Land of Promise

Mesoamerican Theorists are always showing that there were numerous languages in Mesoamerica during the time of the Book of Mormon, and use this as a reason to create indigenous peoples in the land of promise that are never mentioned or eluded to in the scriptures. In the Book of Mormon, though, we find only two languages during the thousand year history of the Nephite nation—the Hebrew of the Nephites, and that of the Lamanites, being so corrupted from time to time from the Hebrew, they had to be retaught the Hebrew language by the priests of Noah.

Two Native American languages of South America predominate the Andean area today, as well as throughout its ancient history: Quechua and Aymara. Some linguists believe that because speakers of Aymara and Quechua have had a great deal of contact with each other over many centuries, even millennia, all over the Andes from central Peru southwards to Bolivia, that their languages have influenced each other very strongly, if not the originally same language.

These two languages suggest a connection to the Nephites and Lamanites. According to the record of Mosiah, Alma, Helaman and Mormon, the Lamanites settled in the southern highlands (Land of Nephi), while the Nephites were in the northern lands and coastal regions (Land of Zarahemla and Land of Bountiful) during the last centuries of the two nations’ 1000-year-history. Using the Andean model, the southern highlands would be from Cuzco to Lake Titicaca and Tiahuanaco (southern Peru and western Bolivia), while the Nephites were north of there, in the central highlands and coastal regions.

The Nephite and Lamanite languages were once the same, both originating from Hebrew within the family of Lehi who lived at Jerusalem all his days (1 Nephi 1:4). And after a separation of 400 years, both groups could still converse as evidenced by Zeniff communicating in 200 BC with the King of the Lamanites (Mosiah 9:6-7), and King Noah’s chief priest, Amulon, in 150 BC, pleading with the Lamanites for their safety (Mosiah 23:33).

However, Amulon then taught the Lamanites the Nephite language (Mosiah 24:4) despite the fact that they could talk to one another. Thus it might be that what Amulon taught the Lamanites was the written Nephite language (Mosiah 24:6), which opened the door to Lamanite commerce and business (Mosiah 24:7), enabling them to become rich through trade, but also wise and cunning in the ways of the world, though they had previously been a simple and friendly people toward each other.

Around 80 BC, the Lamanites and Nephites were communicating with one another on a large scale (Alma 23:18), and during the first two centuries AD, there was no longer a division between these people (4 Nephi 1:17) during which time they would have had a completely compatible common language. This probably lasted throughout the next two centuries, and by 385 AD, Mormon was communicating with the King of the Lamanites, at least through correspondence (Mormon 6:2).

Therefore, in the Land of Promise, we might expect to find a language that may well have been divisional through separation over some 1000 years, and somewhat changed from its original core. Such a division of language may well be found in Quechua and Aymara in the Andes. Take for example the change in our common English:

English sentence common in 1000 AD: Wé cildra biddaþ þé, éalá láréow, þæt þú taéce ús sprecan rihte, forþám ungelaérede wé sindon, and gewæmmodlíce we sprecaþ...

How this sentence appears in 2000 AD: We children beg you, teacher, that you should teach us to speak correctly, because we are ignorant and we speak corruptly...

This is taken from Ælfric's Colloquy or the Colloquy of Aelfric, a monk in Dorset and Oxfordshire about the end of the tenth and the beginning of the eleventh centuries, who took young pupils and wrote his colloquy (or dialogue) in Old English and also in Latin to teach them the Latin language. That is, he wrote a sentence in their known English language and the same sentence in Latin, then by showing them the difference, he was able to teach them Latin.

The example above of the Old English sentence compared to that of our day should show how much a language can change over a 1000 year period, even when found within a prolifically written language as English. Then consider how changes would have been made in early Hebrew among the Nephites, who also wrote profusely (Helaman 3:13-15), and among the Lamanites who had no written language for many centuries. Thus, Moroni, at the close of this 1000 year period, wrote: “..we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also..” (Mormon 9:32-33).

Thus, we find no need for numerous languages in the Land of Promise as Mesoamerican Theorists try to claim to satisfy their model.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Translation of the Book of Mormon - Part III

Perhaps the final word on the translation of the Book of Mormon and the cavalier approach to this event taken by Mesoamerican Theorists, including John L. Sorenson, Joseph Allen, and a myriad of other “scholars” who use these scriptures to further their own purposes, will be found in the book: “Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican and Other Theorists.”

This book points out the misuse of scripture by these and numerous other “scholars” for the purpose of supporting their Mesoamerican theory regarding the location of the Land of Promise. It begins with the skewing of directions from the scriptural account of lands to the north, Land Northward, Land North, Land Southward, Land South, etc., to Sorenson’s map showing almost a direct east-west directional outline, and his many pages to explain away why the record is wrong and the Nephites did not understand the cardinal compass points. On their maps, these theorists continually put the Land of Desolation to the west of Bountiful, which they put to the west of Zarahemla, etc., when the scriptures make it clear these lands are north of one another.

These changes continue with altering the scriptural dates of the Flood as listed by Moses in Genesis and the Pearl of Great Price, so as to accommodate the Mesoamerican Mayan Calendar, pushing back that date from the recorded 2344 B.C. to 3100 B.C. It also includes a preference for the unreliable writings of Ixtlilxochitl and other Colonial-era codice writers, that talk about early settlement of the Western Hemisphere, typically in non-conclusive terms.

In all, these Mesoamerican Theorists are so dedicated to their singular belief and model that no other ideas are allowed into the mix. Yet, in so many instances, the Mesoamerican theorist must change, alter, ignore, or ridicule the scriptural record in order to justify their beliefs. In addition, when items in the scriptural account are not found in Mesoamerica, such as coins, metallurgy, animals, plants, etc., these “scholars” then alter or change or call into question the scriptural record. Recently we posted some of this about animals in the Post “When is a Cow not a Cow” in which Sorenson tried to change the entire meaning of the unknown animals “cumom” and the “curelom” to be such animals as the sloth, tapir, agouti and paca, which Ether/Moroni wrote: “And they also had horses and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and curmons, all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms” (Ether 9:19). Sorenson’s animals cannot fit that description in the slightest manner.

Another wild claim by Mesoamerican Theorists, made necessary by their Mesoamerican beliefs, is that the Book of Mormon prophets did not write about the scores of indigenous people they claim filled the Land of Promise and interacted with Nephites, Mulekites and Lamanites—this despite the fact that the scriptural account does not mention, suggest, or even hint at any other people in the land at all! To compensate for this, these theorists claim the Nephite prophets ignored others because of their “prejudiced and narrow view” of what was happening around them.

In addition, in our previous three posts, “Answers from the Book of Mormon,” parts one and two, fifty specific points found in scripture about the Land of Promise are never mentioned, let alone answered, by Mesoamerican Theorists, plus another 20 points of Israel heritage, mentioned in part three, are totally ignored by these theorists—though each of these 70 points can be easily found and answered in the Peruvian Andes region of the Western Hemisphere.

The book: “Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican and Other Theorists,” gives a clear view of these wild and inaccurate claims by these theorists in precise, scripture-backed manner that should make it clear to anyone interested that Mesoamerican could not possibly be the Land of Promise. In a follow-up book, “Who Really Settled Mesoamerica,” the Mesoamerican scene is completely and accurately covered and questions answered.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Translation of the Book of Mormon - Part II

Continuing with Joseph Smith’s translation, David Whitmer said: "At times when brother Joseph would attempt to translate he would look into the hat in which the stone was placed, [to exclude the light], he found he was spiritually blind and could not translate. He told us that his mind dwelt too much on earthly things, and various causes would make him incapable of proceeding with the translation. When in this condition he would go out and pray, and when he became sufficiently humble before God, he could then proceed with the translation. Now we see how very strict the Lord is, and how he requires the heart of man to be just right in his sight before he can receive revelation from him.

“That is, the Prophet Joseph Smith looked into the Interpreters or Seer Stone, saw there by the power of God and the gift of God to him, the ancient Nephite characters, and by bending every power of his mind to know the meaning thereof, the interpretation wrought out in his mind by this effort "by studying it out in his mind," to use the phrase of the revelations—was reflected in the sacred instruments, there to remain until correctly written by the scribe.”

Oliver Cowdery wrote: "These were the days never to be forgotten, under the sound of voice dictated by inspiration of heaven." The translation of the "ancient record called the Book of Mormon" further enlarged Joseph's understanding of how to receive revelation and established that "God does inspire men and call them to his holy work in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old."

There can be no doubt, either, that the interpretation thus obtained was expressed in such language as the Prophet could command, in such phraseology as he was master of and common to the time and locality where he lived; modified, of course, by the application of that phraseology to facts and ideas new to him in many respects, and above the ordinary level of the Prophet's thoughts and language, because of the inspiration of God that was upon him. This view of the translation of the Nephite record accounts for the fact that the Book of Mormon, though a translation of an ancient record, is, nevertheless, given in English idiom of the period and locality in which the Prophet lived; and in the faulty English, moreover, both as to composition, phraseology, and grammar, of a person of Joseph Smith's limited education; and also accounts for the general sameness of phraseology and literary style which runs through the whole translated volume.

In summary, B. H. Roberts concluded: "The sum of the whole matter, then, concerning the manner of translating the sacred record of the Nephites, according to the testimony of the only witnesses competent to testify in the matter is: With the Nephite record was deposited a curious instrument, consisting of two transparent stones, set in the rim of a bow, somewhat resembling spectacles, but larger, called by the ancient Hebrews “Urim and Thummim,” but by the Nephites “Interpreters.” In addition to these Interpreters the Prophet Joseph had a Seer Stone, which to him was as Urim and Thummim; that the Prophet sometimes used one and sometimes the other of these sacred instruments in the work of translation; that whether the Interpreters or the Seer Stone was used the Nephite characters with the English interpretation appeared in the sacred instrument; that the Prophet would pronounce the English translation to his scribe, which, when correctly written, would disappear and other characters with their interpretation take their place, and so on until the work was completed."

It would appear, then, that any attempt by scholars or others to conclude that what is written in the Book of Mormon is in error, is not interpreted correctly, is in a language other than what we use today (that is, in era of 1828 when translated and the local in which it was translated), or meant something entirely different than what we know and understand is completely without basis. It would do well for those scholars who like to claim certain statements were only political, that had meaning then but not now, that the scriptures were merely a text written by scribes, etc., to take into account who wrote the various books of the Book of Mormon, under what condition they were written, who translated the writings, and under what conditions that translation took place. To try and alter those sacred writings to agree with personal views, or to detract from the purpose and intent of the writing, or to suggest the writers were satisfying a personal, narrow view of their land of promise is, again, is totally without merit.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Translation of the Book of Mormon – Part I

The Prophet Joseph Smith said: "With the record was found a curious instrument which the ancients called Urim and Thummim, that consisted of two transparent stones sat in a rim of a bow fastened to a breast-plate." Martin Harris added that this instrument contained two clear stones sat in two rims, very much resembling spectacles, only they were larger.” Of this, the Prophet added: "Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God." B.H. Roberts added, "For convenience he sometimes used the Seer Stone. Martin said that the Seer Stone differed in appearance from the Urim and Thummim, and was a chocolate-colored, somewhat egg-shaped stone which the Prophet found while digging a well in company with his brother Hyrum."

Of the actual translation, David Whitmer said: "In the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God and not by any power of man.''

Martin Harris added: "By aid of the Seer Stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say 'written;' and if correctly written, the sentence would disappear and another appear in its place; but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraved on the plates, precisely in the language then used."

It should not be supposed, however, that this translation, though accomplished by means of the Interpreters and Seer Stone, was merely a mechanical procedure; that no faith, or mental or spiritual effort was required on the Prophet's part; that the instruments did all, while he who used them did nothing but look and repeat mechanically what he saw there reflected. It required the utmost concentration of mental and spiritual force possessed by the Prophet, in order to exercise the gift of translation through the means of the sacred instruments provided for that work.

Fortunately we have the most perfect evidence of the fact, though it could be inferred from the general truth that God sets no premium upon mental or spiritual laziness; for whatever means God may have provided to assist man to arrive at the truth, he has always made it necessary for man to couple with those means his utmost endeavor of mind and heart.

It is, therefore, disingenuous for people like John L. Sorenson to question such translation as though he knows more about what the ancient prophets wrote as has been shown in several posts here. When Joseph wrote “cow,” he meant cow. When the ancient prophets wrote about the people in the Land of Promise, they wrote about all of them, if briefly. For modern scholars to decide they know more than those who lived at the time, and those the Lord inspired to abridge the record, and the prophet assigned and inspired to translate the work is beyond imagination.

The Book of Mormon stands as an accurate and correct book in all regards, not just the doctrines, but also the geography and descriptions. We need to interpret it that way!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Do DNA Findings Prove or Discredit the BOM -- Part II

Many LDS people believe that the current Lamanite descendants as found in South, Central and North America, should have some DNA matches to the ancient Israelites and peoples of the Mediterranean area. Because of this, and that so far no DNA matches have been found in typing American Indians in the Western Hemisphere, many have found it difficult to support the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s claim.

However, the problem is not in finding DNA matches, but in expecting to find them. Quite often, critics raise a question about the authenticity of the BOM or of Joseph Smith’s claims regarding Lamanite descendants, and LDS people feel obligated to try and refute, rather than understand the circumstances and knowledge involved in the claim.

When God organized man, he organized every part of man, including his cells, molecular structure, Chromosomes and DNA. In simple terms, DNA controls the production of proteins within the cell. These proteins in turn, form the structural units of cells and control all chemical processes within the cell. Think of proteins as the building blocks for an organism, proteins make up your skin, your hair, parts of individual cells, etc. How you look is largely determined by the proteins that are made, and the proteins that are made are determined by the sequence of DNA in the nucleus. The Chromosomes are composed of genes, which is a segment of DNA that codes for a particular protein which in turn codes for a trait. Hence you hear it commonly referred to as the gene for baldness or the gene for blue eyes.

Meanwhile, DNA is the chemical that genes and chromosomes are made of. DNA is called a nucleic acid because it was first found in the nucleus. We now know that DNA is also found in organelles, the mitochrondria and chloroplasts, though it is the DNA in the nucleus that actually controls the cell's workings.

Now keep in mind, that God organized these factors, typed each of us for the traits that would result, and is the architect of the DNA itself. It would certainly be within his power and ability to change that DNA if he chose to do so.

So why do we not find DNA matches between the Western Hemisphere Indian and the Mediterranean peoples? Well, the Book of Mormon tells us why the Lamanite DNA does not match Israelite DNA—because God changed the Lamanite DNA.

“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). “And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers” (Alma 3:6).

Obviously, God, in placing this curse upon the Lamanites, changed their skin color, which became hereditary. In order to do this, the DNA that produces the melanin that determines skin color was changed. Since the Lamanite DNA was changed, we would not expect it to match the previous DNA that made up Laman, Lemnuel and the sons of Ishmael (the Lamanite progenitors). In fact, if DNA matches were found between the Lamanite descendants located in South, Central and North America today, one would have to question the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. However, the fact that the DNA does not match, is another support of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph Smith’s claims regarding the descendants of the Lamanites.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Do DNA Findings Prove or Discredit the BOM? Part I

The simple question is, does all the current DNA research prove or disprove the Book of Mormon? In an attempt to answer this, Daniel C. Peterson has written a book entitled “DNA Research and the Book of Mormon.”

He states that “Recently, some persons have announced that modern DNA research has conclusively proved that the Book of Mormon is false and that Joseph Smith was a fraud. The past decade has seen a revolution in the way in which biologists collect data and proceed with their research. This revolution has come about by technological innovations that allow scientists to efficiently sequence DNA for a wide range of organisms, resulting in vast quantities of genetic data from a diverse array of creatures.”

Peterson goes on to say: ”One such misunderstanding is the current controversy over DNA evidence and its bearing on the veracity of the Book of Mormon. On the one hand, statements by the Prophet Joseph Smith indicate that Native Americans are descended from the Lamanites. On the other, recent scientific studies have evaluated the current genetic compositions of selected worldwide human populations, and several of these have concluded that the principal genetic origin of the sampled Native American peoples has been Asiatic, likely due to the constant documented flow of humans back and forth across the Bering Strait. The real issue, however, is not necessarily if Native Americans are the inheritors of Asian genetic material; it is whether or not this evidence refutes the story line of the Book of Mormon and the claims of Joseph Smith relative to Native Americans.”

He also adds: “The first point that should be clarified is that those persons who state that DNA evidence falsifies the authenticity of the Book of Mormon are not themselves performing genetic research to test this claim. This conclusion is not coming from the scientists studying human population genetics. It is not the result of a formal scientific investigation specifically designed to test the authenticity of the Book of Mormon by means of genetic evidence, nor has it been published in any reputable scientific journal open to scientific peer review. Rather, it has come from outside persons who have interpreted the conclusions of an array of population genetic studies and forced the applicability of these results onto the Book of Mormon. The studies cited by these critics were never formulated by their original authors as a specific test of the veracity of the Book of Mormon. To my knowledge there is no reputable researcher who is specifically attempting to test the authenticity of the Book of Mormon with DNA evidence.”

While this blog is not meant to criticize or minimize Peterson’s efforts, for his book can be of great value to those interested in DNA, it is meant to suggest that LDS people are trying to answer or refute a problem that others believe exists, but in reality, does not exist at all. While no DNA has been found to support Lamanite descendancy from the Israelite or Mediterranean people of antiquity, LDS have made a grave mistake in believing this is a problem and needs to be countered.

The truth of the matter is simply this: There SHOULD BE NO DNA matches of Lamanite descendancy at all. However, in trying to find a way around this lack of DNA findings, LDS people, such as scientists, DNA experts, and others have mistakenly taken a defensive stance and it has placed them in a quandary as to how to deal with what they perceive as a “problem.”

In the next post, we will discuss what the Book of Mormon says on the matter and why there should be no DNA matching of Lamanite desendency from Israelite or Mediterranean people.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Heated Debate Over BOM Geography

For those involved in the current debates on Book of Mormon geography and the location of the Land of Promise, a debate, by the way, that has been going on since the 1940s, and among many, has never died down, the recent lead article of the “Mormon Times,” might be of interest. This supplement is mailed with the Deseret News to those subscribers who live outside the state of Utah.

The Saturday, May 20, 2010, issue of “Mormon Times,” was sent to me this week from a friend in Oregon. The front-page heading is: "The fight over Book of Mormon Geography" with two issues—Northeast United States and Mesoamerica shown in the illustration. Within the article, it reads: "Inside: Strengths and weaknesses of Book of Mormon geography theories are examined." Interestingly enough, South America or the Andean area, is mentioned only once and only in passing, and is not even considered as a theory of BOM geography.

While knowing where the Book of Mormon Land of Promise was located is not a “salvation” issue, it is of interest to a large percentage of members who have been inundated for most of the past century that the location was in Mesoamerica. But since the area throughout Central America does not meet or match the many statements of scripture about the Land of Promise, many have become disenchanted with the model of these theorists and, in fact, there is much anti-Mormon comments all over the internet and in discussions, because Mesoamerica has been sold hook, line, and sinker to the vast majority of LDS theologians, which cannot be supported by fact or scripture and, therefore, opens the church to such ridicule from these sources.

Yet the Mesoamerican Theorists, who cannot in any way support their view or model through even the majority of scriptural references to the subject, continue to hammer away at their beliefs, even to the changing, altering or ignoring of scripture (see numerous earlier posts on this subject).

I realize that people of conscience and thought can disagree on a lot of issues--but to deny the opportunity for people to know there is a valid, scripture-backed, historical supported area other than Mesoamerica to be considered, is beyond my comprehension. I have a library of over 20 books written on this subject (Mesoamerica, Great Lakes, Baja California, etc.) and most contain the most fanciful thinking imaginable and basically without scripture support.

My book, “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica,” is right in time for this discussion--a discussion for most that is far afield in many areas from actual scripture, which my book, and the two companion books: “Who Really Settled Mesoamerica,” and “Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican and Other Theorists,” answer in great detail, all backed up with scripture reference and statements.

I think it is a real disservice to those who are interested, especially to those who have knowledge of the scriptures, to maintain a Mesoamerican model in light of all the controversy surrounding this model and the lack of scriptural support for its existence.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Answers from the Book of Mormon – Part III

In addition to the fifty scriptural references used in the previous two posts, we also need to consider how the Lehi Colony reached the Western Hemisphere. Obviously, we know they came by boat, and there are sufficient clues in Nephi’s writings to illustrate what kind of ship it was, how big it was, and it how it sailed (propulsion force), and where it disembarked. In knowing these most important aspects of the journey, which Nephi points out in many ways, we can know for a surety on what currents, and with what winds, their ship was propelled. And in knowing this, where the ship went and where it landed.

First of all, we need to consider:

• What was the size of Nephi's ship?
• What was the appearance of Nephi's ship?
• How long did it take to construct Nephi's ship?
• How was Nephi's ship built?
• How many people set sail on Nephi's ship?
• Where was Nephi's ship built?
• Into what ocean or sea did Nephi launch his ship?
• In what direction did the ship travel and why?
• What ocean(s) did Nephi's ship cross?
• What are the ocean currents like along the route Lehi took?
• What caused the great storm that turned Nephi's ship back?
• Where is such a constant counter-current found?
• How important are winds and sea currents to a weather-driven ship?
• Where exactly was the landing site of the Lehi Colony and how do we know that?
• What did the Lehi Colony find after first landing?

In addition, Nephi and others, as well as a knowledge of 600 B.C. Jewish custom, helps us identify other aspects of Nephite life and, therefore, what to look for when we start talking about a geographical model for the Land of Promise. As an example, where do we find:

• Irrigation as an important development in the new land?
• Circumcision practiced by the House of Israel in the Land of Promise?
• Advanced medical knowledge among the Chosen People in the Land of Promise?
• Extensive Roads built and meant for foot traffic rather than wheels?
• Skeletal remains of great battles in a matching location to scripture?

The point of all this in these three posts is to show that if one is to determine a site or model for the Land of Promise, one must show how that location matches ALL the scriptural indicters—-how the scriptural references are found and explained within the model. To-date, only the island of Andean South America, as it appeared between 600 B.C. and 400 A.D. can match EVERY one of these 69 points listed in this three posts.

For verification of this, and answers to all these questions and how they match a Land of Promise model, see the book: “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

Answers from the Book of Mormon – Part II

After finding a model or location that satisfies the first twenty-five points raised by the Book of Mormon in the past post, next we need to make sure this model or location matches the following twenty-five points described in the scriptures. Where do we find:

• Four seas surrounding the Land of Promise which is an isle (island)?
• People coming by sea and moving into the central lands, one group to the north and one group to the south?
• Two groups joining each other for a time, then fracturing once again?
• One group in the south settled the land suddenly and were more skilled, but a second group, further south, annihilated them?
• Legends and writings of brothers coming to the Land of Promise as the first settlers and how they interacted with one another?
• A geographical setting showing why cities and lands were so divided in the Land of Promise even though the Nephites filled up the land from sea to sea?
• The ability to grow seeds of every kind brought by the Jaredites in their new land—the Land Northward?
• A series of devastating wars around 400 A.D. in which one group was either totally or almost totally annihilated?
• The appearance of a kindly, divine being in legend and writing after a period of darkness and devastation, who teaches light and truth of his ways and then disappears and is never seen again?
• A people of the Middle East, typically white skinned, bearded, and wearing flowing robes arrive or appear suddenly on the scene and are considered religious and spreaders of culture, then were eventually wiped out or disappeared?
• A land where seams and cracks in the rocks and mountains can be found significant enough to be mentioned in religious and secular history?
• A sailing and shipping connection between the Land of Promise and a land to the North where Hagoth's ships landed?
• A land to the north of the Land of Promise where Nephite culture, skills, and evidences are to be found?
• A hill in the north lands where records or treasures are believed buried?
• Use of thin sheets of gold, like in a book, around 600 B.C.?
• Two unknown animals to represent the curelom and the cumom?
• A temple like unto Solomon's temple?
• A mist of darkness with lightning and thundering, where mountains tumbled down and others rose up to great heights, and cities sank and burned?
• In the northern land of the Land of Promise wars began constantly to be fought beginning around 200 B.C. and up until about 400 A.D.?
• A land where earliest beginnings are along the southern coast, then the next major development of culture in the southern highlands, and the second development in the north?
• A reason why the Lamanites attacked the coastal Nephite cities rather than using other lines of attack?
• The fortified wall the Nephites constructed to defend their north country against the Lamanites?
• Use of slings for weapons?
• Two grains unknown in 1830 planted in the Land of Promise?
• Skeletal remains of great battles of significance?

See Part III in the next post.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Answers from the Book of Mormon – Part I

The Book of Mormon poses, and answers, numerous questions regarding the Land of Promise, from how it was reached, where it was located, and what was found there. I have often referred to this as the "Nephi Code," that is, understanding what Nephi wrote and what it meant. These answers are obtained by asking oneself questions regarding what Nephi wrote.

These are the type of questions a Land of Promise model should answer. Instead, Mesoamerican (and other) Theorists spend their energies in trying to determine within their own models where Book of Mormon locations were, such as the location of cities, rivers, valleys, plains, etc.

What these theorists seem to forget, is that the Book of Mormon itself holds the answers, and one does not have to go much further than that to find the location of this area. Rather than starting with a pre-determined location and then guessing at how the topography fits, one should start with what the Book of Mormon tells us and see if it fits the model.

Following are numerous questions posed by the Book of Mormon scripture, as listed and answered in the book “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica.” There are all sorts of information in the scriptures Nephit and others left us--all we have to do is read the text and ask the question "Where do we find..."

• fevers and diseases due to climate and herbal remedies?
• gold and silver as a single unit with copper?
• all manner of ore?
• roads and highway systems rivaling Rome?
• use of metal coins in B.C. times?
• ancient buildings of great size and magnificent construction?
• volcanoes and earthquakes?
• results of 3 hours of earthquakes, rising of mountains, sinking of cities?
• ancient use of fine-twined linen?
• ancient animals including two species unkown elsewhere in the world?
• anient wild and domesticated animals?
• corn, wheat and barley growing ancient?
• two ancient grains unknown elsewhere in the world?
• Arabic ancestors of the First Settlers?
• A north-south elongated island in 600 B.C.
• Two distinct racial characteristics?
• Ancient shipyard building and port at the Narrow Neck of land?
• Lamanite living conditions differing from Nephite conditions?
• Signs of a combining or mixing of two cultures not at war with each other?
• An explosion of cultural, building, and rapid growth around 600 B.C.?
• The building of fortresses and fortifications?
• Culture and society dominated by religion?
• A central figure and his honored parents who was the ruler of the first settlers
• A Land Northward containing at its northern end "many waters" of lakes, rivers, and fountains?
• A single language spoken by the surviving Lamanites after the destruction of the Nephite nation?

To verify a model, or to find a location, one must not only answer all these scriptural points found in the Land of Promise, but also the ones following in the next post. To simply start saying this is the City of Moroni, and these are the Waters of Mormon is not helpful in any way. We need to think in terms of the above questions and see how they fit a location.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Precious Metals Ore in the Land of Promise

Nephi describes the ore and precious metals of the promised land as finding all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper (1 Nephi 18:25). Obviously, for a match to be made for Lehi's Isle of Promise, the Land of Promise area would have to include these metals. An interesting side note is the way in which these three items were translated: both of gold, and of silver, and of copper—which sounds like three, not both. Gold and silver, of course, are two, therefore both, but as a unit of precious metals, they are one. Add copper to the unit of precious metals and then both again applies, identifying two units—the precious metals unit and the copper unit.

Thus, the Land of Promise area must contain ores where precious metals of gold and silver are found with copper—that is, the ore itself must contain all three metals. And that is exactly what is found in the Andean area of South America, and not at all within the area of Mesoamerica.

Gold: The majority of the gold mined in modern times comes either as a by-product of other mining (such as copper) or from gold mines (such as those in South Africa and the two largest in the United States), in which the quantity of gold is so small (about 1/3 ounce per ton of ore) that its recovery is practical only when the ore is mined on a very large scale. But in earlier times there were mines from which ore that would have suited Nephi's purpose could have been obtained. From his earlier experiences (1Nephi 17:9-11,16), Nephi knew something about smelting and metal fabrication, and gold is one of the easiest metals to work with. It is practically immune to natural corrosion and is highly malleable (workable), and would have been the ideal metal to form the plates on which his record was kept.

Gold and Silver as a Unit: Any general map of minerals of Chile and Peru will show the presence of gold, silver, copper, tungsten, nitrates, antimony, lead, zinc, bismuth, sulfur, iron, molyedenum, manganese, coal and vanadium. A close look at South America shows Chile as the only place where gold and silver are found as a unit, with copper surrounding that unit—this is the same configuration found in the Meditrerranean Sub-tropical climate of Palestine. Interestingly, neither Southern California nor the southern tips of Africa and Austrailia possess the ores in the combination Nephi describes.

Mountain building, the forming of the great mountains, has contributed extensive mineralization, with intrusive rocks, such as diorites, andesites, and porphyries, accounting for most metalic minerals. One region in Chile produced over a billion dollars in silver since its discovery by Spanish conquistadores in 1545. Today, Chile leads South American in copper production. Copper and tin are more plentiful than gold and silver, and one of three main areas it exists in South America is in the cordillera Occidental, the western cordillera east of the nitrate zone in northern Chile.

The point is, when the Lehi Colony landed in the Land of Promise, Nephi says they found gold and silver and copper in single units of ore. This is consistent with the landing site of 30º south latitude in Coquimbo Bay, Chile, and the surrunding La Serna. However, it is not consistent with any place in Mesoamerica.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Where Would Mediterranean Seeds Grow Abundantly? Part II

In the last post, we discussed the type of soils, temperature, and other natural parts of a Mediterranean Climate where the seeds Lehi brought from the Land of Jerusalem had been grown. It was also discussed that for those seeds to grow, especially abundantly, they would need a similar Mediterranean Climate in the Land of Promise. We also discussed in the last post the


that makes up a Mediterranean Climate. In this post, we will add Soil Groups, Precipitation, and natural vegetation of such a climate.

Soil Group: This Chilean strip, like Jerusalem, has a brown soil group. This type soil group is found elsewhere only in the Mediterranean area, the southern tips of South Africa and Australia, and in the central United States. Central America has soil in the Laterites group, the same as north, eastern and central South America, the Caribbean Islands, central and southern Africa, Madagascar, the west coast of India, Indochina, and Indonesia. Brown forest soils are found to the south of the Chilean strip, eastern United States, and most of Europe.

Precipitation: The mean annual precipitation of the Chilean strip, like Jerusalem, is 20" to 40", as it is in the northern coast of the Yucatan peninsula. North of the Chilean strip, it drops to less than 10", like the Arabian Peninsula. To the south of the Chilean strip, precipitation climbs to 40" to 60", and even further south to over 80". Central America ranges between 60" and 80" and in some areas, over 80".

Natural Vegetation: This portion of Chile has broadleaf, evergreen trees, Mediterranean scrub, citrus, olive and agave. To the north of this area the vegetation is largely absent and to the south, it is semi-deciduous and needle leaf evergreen trees. Inland vegetation is mostly grassland, savannas, shrubs, deciduous and semi-deciduous plants and trees.

Thus, for seeds “brought from the land of Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 18:24) to grow exceedingly and bring forth an abundant crop, they would have had to have been planted in a like Mediterranean Climate—and there is only one such climate that covers all of these groupings in the entire world outside the Mediterranean area.

And that is Chile, South America, around the 30º south latitude.

So when Nephi speaks of seeds growing exceedingly and providing an abundant harvest, it should be considered that there are very few places, if any outside Chile, South America, where seeds from Jerusalem could grow in 590 B.C. without the aid of modern chemicals and farming methods.

The question is: “Does Mesoamerica fit any of these requirements?” The resounding answer is: “No!”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Where Would Mediterranean Seeds Grow Abundantly? Part I

Nephi records that when they left Jerusalem, Lehi took his family, tents and provisions before departing into the wilderness (1 Nephi 2:4). Later we find that the party had gathered together seeds of every kind, both of grain of every kind,and also of fruit of every kind (1 Nephi 8:1). After reaching the Land of Promise, the Lehi colony began to till the earth, and began to plant seeds; “yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 18:24). These Mediterranean seeds grew exceedingly and the colony was blessed with an abundant crop (1 Nephi 18:24). A second planting resulted in the same abundance (2 Nephi 5:11).

Where Would Mediterranean Seeds Grow?

Bringing seeds from the area of Jerusalem to be planted in the new world was an act that Nephi was commanded to do—it was to be their staple, their initial means of existence in a new land. In 1620, over 2100 years after the Lehi Colony, the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and were nearly wiped out from starvation when their seeds, brought from a different climate, did not grow sufficiently to harvest crops. Had it not been for the gift of the Indians, the Pilgrims would have died out, unable to support themselves from the seeds they had brought from Europe. Thus, it should be kept in mind that seeds do not grow just anywhere, especially, as Nephi stated, exceedingly (1 Nephi 18:24) and in abundance (2 Nephi 5:11). It might be well, therefore, to take a look at the climate, temperature and soils in which the Jerusalem seeds would have grown exceedingly, giving the Lehi Colony food in abundance.

Climate of Palestine: Palestine has a Mediterranean Sub-tropical climate. Outside the Mediterranean area, only four other places on earth have the same climate as that of Jerusalem. Those locations are: Southern California, Southern tip of Africa, Southern tips of Australia, and Chile around the 30º South Latitude. In addition, of these four areas, only Chile, matches all the requirements indicated by Nephi's account. The uniqueness of Chile around 30º South Latitude, is well known. This strip of Chilean land has, like Jerusalem, a Mediterranean Sub-tropical climate. But that is not all. Between Punta Lavapie (about 37º south latitude) and Tongoy (about 30º south latitude), Chile is unique in plant life, temperature, soil, soil group, and precipitation—all things that determine plant growth. Not only do these not match any other area in South or Central America, they match very few other places in the entire world.

Temperature: the mean annual temperature of this Chilean strip, like Jerusalem, is 60º to 70º F, which is also the temperature of southwest Australia and Southern Califonria. South of this Chilean strip, the temperature drops to a level of 50º to 60º F., and further south, to 40º to 50º F. North of this strip, the temperature climbs to 70º to 80º, as it does inland and throughout most of northern South America, Central America, and Mexico.

Soil: This Chilean strip, like Jerusalem, has the desertic soil of the arid climate, with shallow stony soils, sparsely covered, and is fertile when irrigated, and is appropriate for dry farming when not irrigated. This same soil is found all along the South American coast north of the Chilean strip. On the other hand, Central America has Latsolic soils of humid or wet temperature to dry tropical and subtropical climates, along with most of the South American interior, none of which would grow Mediterranean seeds.

In Part II of this comparison, further matches will be discussed.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nibley’s and Sorenson’s Disservice

From the very beginning, prolific writers such as Hugh Nibley and John L. Sorenson have centered their writings of Book of Mormon geography of the Land of Promise in Mesoamerica. Since so many scriptural listings of the geography did not and do not match Mesoamerica, these writers tried to change the scriptures to meet their model. In doing so, others, following later, have also tried to change scripture, or the facts, in order to present their models. This attitude has led to a widespread and ridiculous tendency to ignore scripture, unless it is agreeable to their model, and present the most outlandish ideas as to where the Book of Mormon Land of Promise was located.

This has done a great disservice to the Church, to the credibility of the Book of Mormon, and to those ancient prophets who so diligently wrote what they were inspired to write, and Mormon and Moroni so diligently abridged, and Joseph Smith so diligently translated.

A recent map sent to me shows one of these ridiculous ideas and the extent to which one of these Mesoamerican Theorists will go to create a model and then have to make changes to try and match scripture.
First of all, there is no geologic record of there ever being two seas or water ways nearly separating the Yucatan peninsula from Mesoamerica as shown in this map—but even if so, how could they be the south sea when the narrow neck of land is separated by the West Sea and East Sea? (Alma 22:32) Nor is Zarahemla separated by the South Sea as shown. Nor is Bountiful north of the Narrow Neck of Land. Also, the narrow strip of wilderness which ran from the West Sea to the East Sea (Alma 22:27), which scripture tells us separates the Land of Nephi from the Land of Zarahemla, is listed on this map as south of the Land of Nephi. Of course, one could go on with this map and show other discrepancies, like there being no Land of Many Waters north of the Land of Desolation (Helaman 3:4), but the point is the map is totally out of context with the scriptures. So why do these people create such ridiculous examples as this?

Because of the disservice Nibley, Sorenson, Joseph Allen, and others who have made such outlandish claims that the Book of Mormon geography of the Land of Promise matches Mesoamerica. And in so doing, these and other Mesoamerican Theorists have altered scripture to fit their models—thus, others following them, feel no compunction to follow suit and alter scripture to fit their own particular interests.

The fact is, however, that the scriptures are accurate as stated. They need to altering, changing, fudging, or ignoring—-they are accurate as they stand. To make changes, especially when considering the manner in which the Book of Mormon was written, abridged, and translated, there can be no tinkering with the statements. If a model of the geography of the Book of Mormon cannot stand up to the scriptures, then that model should be discarded—-not defended by changing scripture.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Were Nephites Prejudiced Against the Lamanites?

In an unbelievable comment, John L. Sorenson in his book “An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon,” on page 90, makes these outlandish statements:

“The scripture is clear that the Nephites were prejudiced against the Lamanites (Jacob 3:5; Mosiah 9:1-2; Alma 26:23-25). That must have influenced how they perceived their enemies.” In the same paragraph, he adds, “The Nephite picture of their relatives, in Jarom 1:6 and Enos 1:20, sounds so similar to the Near Eastern epithets that this language probably should be considered a literary formula rather than an objective description, labeling applied to any feared, despised, “backward” people.” Finally, in the same paragraph, Sorenson adds, “But all this does not exclude a cultural and biological difference between the two groups. The question is how great the difference was; we may doubt that it was as dramatic as the Nephite record keepers made out.”

First of all, in the Jacob scripture Sorenson quotes, Jacob writes: “The Lamanites, your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you” (Jacob 3:5). Hardly a prejudicial statement. His son, Enos, after praying all day and all night, and after having a conversaton with the Lord, asked Him for the preservation of the record so it would be available to the Lamanites, and that “the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God” (Enos 1:16-20). His son, Jarom, refers to the Lamanites as “our brethren” and that his writings were “for the intent of the benefit” of the Lamanites (Jarom 1:2), and refers to the Nephites as having “hardness of hearts, deafness of ears, blindness of minds, and stiffness of necks” (Jarom 1:3).

It is hard to imagine these three men, whom the Lord talked to, in whom was entrusted the prophetic callings to the Nephites, were prejudiced against the Lamanites who they sought “diligently to convert.” In Mosiah 9:1-2, is recorded the first effort of Zeniff and a large party to reclaim the land of their inheritance, wherein he refers to a Nephite as “a severe and bloodthirsty man” and the Lamanites as “that which was good among them,” it is difficult to see any prejudicial attitude.

Obviously, some of the Nephites were both fearful of, and hateful toward, the Lamanites who had been attacking them for some 500 years by the time we come to the statement Sorenson quotes in Alma. It should be kept in mind that later on, these Lamanites sacrificed captured Nephite women and children to dumb idols (Mormon 5:21), killed and hunted down every Nephite and put them to death (Mormon 8:2), and following the killing of millions of Nephites (Mormon 6:11-15), these Lamanites fought a savage civil war among themselves lasting more than 40 years (Mormon 8:8; Moroni 1:2). King Lamoni's father who was king over all the Lamanites said in describing his people after his conversion that the Nephites would destroy them because of all the murders and sins they (the Lamanites) had committed against the Nephites (Alma 27:6,8). Would Sorenson consider this a prejudicial statement by a Lamanite about his fellow Lamanites?

It is hard to understand why descriptions of such a savage people would be considered prejudicial when it is accurately based upon the actual events tht unfolded over the 1000 years of their recorded history. Yet, the Lord told Mormon that the Nephites would become a darker people than the Lamanites (Mormon 5:15), and took away their blessings and would give them to others (Mormon 5:19). Again, hardly a prejudicial statement.

Despite numerous scriptures to the contrary, Sorenson once again decides to take a path contrary to the written word and the attitude and actions of the Nephites, ignoring the attitudes and actions of the Lamanites. In the modern vernacular, this is called a Revision of History!