Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Reality Check

Many years ago I read a book claimed to be written by a sea captain about his experiences in the mid-1880s. He claimed to have sailed from the Pacific Ocean into the Great Salt Lake in his 19th-century sailing vessel, where he saw women leaning out the windows of the top floors of the Salt Lake Temple screaming for help. He said one woman jumped from the temple window into the Salt Lake and swam over to the ship where she was rescued. The ship then sailed away, saving the woman from a “fate worse than death.”

Obviously, there are a few difficulties in this captain’s story that were and are impossible to overlook.

First: There is no access now, nor ever was any access, from any Ocean, Gulf or River into the Great Salt Lake. It is a terminal, endorheic, land-locked basin and is a closed hydrologic system, receiving a northward drainage from Utah Lake, but without any outlets to rivers or seas. The first scientific measurements were taken in 1849, which showed the lake to be, as it is now, about 75 miles long and about 35 miles wide.

Second: while it is true the one-story (plus mezzanine) Tabernacle was finished in 1867, the 253,015-square-foot temple in Salt Lake City was not finished until 1893. In April 6 of the previous year, the capstone was laid, thus completing the work of the temple’s exterior, but it was not dedicated until April of 1893, some 8 to 10 years after the Captain’s claim that women were leaning out the top floor windows, screaming for help.

Third: The closest shore of the Great Salt Lake is about 16 miles north and west of the Temple grounds in Salt Lake City. The temple itself is located on a 10-acre site called Temple Square. 16 miles would be a giant leap out of an upstairs Temple window into the lake.

A Giant Leap to the Lake?

16 miles from Temple to Shore

Despite the impossibility of the facts stated, many people believed the story, which circulated widely during the latter decade of the 19th century.

In this same vein, it seems that Great Lakes Theorists are making statements that cannot stand up to the facts regarding 1) the lack of surrounding seas of the Land of Promise, 2) it being an island, 3) the Land Southward not surrounded by water except for a narrow neck of land, 4) the Sea West having no access to an ocean where the Lehi Colony landed and was the Land of First Inheritance, and 5) No River or water access to the Great Lakes from any ocean or gulf--as well as many others as has been pointed out in previous blogs here.

Any cursory glance at a map will show that the nearest ocean to the Great Lakes area is over 300 miles away, and no Land Southward of any Great Lakes Land of Promise map shows it is surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land. In addition, any perfunctory study of the two major waterways into the Great Lakes, the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence, will show that prior to the 19th century, could not be navigated by any type of vessel beyond impassable rapids and waterfalls, making entrance to any of the lakes from the sea impossible. In addition, any overland journey from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes Area Sea West would pass around half Lake Erie to reach a point along the seashore at the most southern tip of the lake, which would cause anyone to wonder why they would travel so far out of the way to reach that particular spot to agree with that statement in scripture “on the west sea south.”

The problem is, with most theories not based upon ALL the scripture illustrative of the geography of the Land of Promise in the Book of Mormon, it cannot pass a reality check. The reality of distance, method of travel, location, size, shape, etc., is critical to any concept of the location for a Land of Promise—not to mention the sizable remains of buildings, temples, roads, etc., that would still have survived the time.

Any reality check would immediately disqualify the Great Lakes and Heartland areas as the location for the Land of Promise. Yet, the theory is gaining ground and interest and one can only wonder why?

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