Sunday, December 11, 2011

So-Called Book of Mormon Anachronisms: the Compass – Part I

Critics of the Book of Mormon, and the so-called LDS Apologists’ views of the Book of Mormon often miss the mark by a great distance in 1) trying to show why certain objects or animals did not exist during the era, and 2) trying to find some other answer than the actual scriptural record to explain away these “out-of-order” introductions.

First, the critics take the singular view of history, that it began in cave-dwelling man which progressed step-by-step through to hunters and gatherers, to an agricultural level, then to mechanism, and to modern man. In so doing, the inventive genius of mankind progressed in a similar fashion, that is, certain things were invented in the order we now know them to have happened, with nothing out of place and no giant leaps in the process. Anything not in this order, is referred to as an anachronism. These critics use certain ideas in the Book of Mormon to show that Joseph Smith inserted later known objects or inventions into a much earlier time frame, thus negating the correctness and authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

Second, the “LDS Apologists” try to explain away such “anachronisms” by using sectarian knowledge and understanding. Neither of these approaches is on track to understand what was written originally, and what was translated in modern times.

By way of explanation, an anachronism, a word taken from the Greek “ana” and “chronos,” referring to moving something backward in time, is defined as an accidental or deliberate inconsistency in the arrangement of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other. The item is often an object, but may be a verbal expression, a technology, a philosophical idea, a musical style, a material, a custom, or anything else so closely associated with a particular period in time that it would be incorrect to place it outside its proper domain. A representation of something as existing or occurring at other than its proper time in history—such as stating that the United States of America existed in 1200 A.D., or that Martin Luther was a contemporary with Charlemagne.

According to such critics, there are a variety of words and phrases in the Book of Mormon that are at odds with archaeological findings regarding an artifact, animal, plant, or technology that they and some archaeologists believe did not exist in the Americas during this time period. Thus, they claim, the use of “compass” regarding the Liahona is an anachronisms since history does not show the invention of a compass until 1100 A.D. by the Chinese—which is true for the world in general.

The problem with this type of thinking is it disregards the Creator of all things, the Inventor of all things, and the Inspirer of mankind to develop such things according to His time frame. It also limits the Creator from stepping outside man’s small box of knowledge to do something without man’s knowledge of the fact. Thus, for a small moment in time, the Lord provided Lehi with a Liahona, which Joseph called a compass according to how it was depicted in the ancient writing—a compass which existed in man’s hands for a short period of time, then was placed in sacred holding under the direction of the Lord, and eventually sealed up from man’s knowledge all together.

Nobody needs to explain that away. The Lord operates under His own time frame, in His own manner, for the benefit of His plans for His children. It is always interesting that man, with his extremely limited knowledge and even more limited understanding of the ways of God, who created all things, that they will limit His knowledge and efforts to fit within their tiny little “box” of knowledge.

Whether the compass worked on a north basis as modern compasses, is not the question. We do know that it pointed in the direction, according to man’s faith, the Lord wanted Lehi and later Nephi to travel. We can also understand that it had some reference to cardinal compass points since Nephi described Lehi’s direction of travel, after obtaining the Liahona, as south-southeast (1 Nephi 16:10-13) and later as east (1 Nephi 17:1).

In addition, the “Apologists’” view that “There is no indication in the Book of Mormon that the Liahona was copied or used by the Nephite civilization for anything other than a sacred relic, and as such it is not unreasonable that the ancient American peoples did not have compass technology,” is of no importance whatsoever. In fact, we do not know that the Liahona was ever used again once Nephi reached the land they called after him and where the city of Nephi was eventually built. It is understood that Mosiah I had that instrument, along with the sacred records, Urim and Thummim, etc., when he reached Zarahemla. But how the Liahona was used, it at all, is of little import, since it was designed by the Lord to show the way, and teach the necessity of faith on the part of Lehi’s family, to reach the Land of Promise.

It had a purpose and the purpose was served. Which is typically the case with all things the Lord shows man when there is a short-duration objective to reach—such as Nephi’s ship he built. The compass would not be needed again in the Lord’s time frame until it came time for Columbus to discover the Americas.

(See the next post, “So-Called Book of Mormon Anachronisms: Glass Windows – Part II,” to see more of this issue and the simple answers to critics’ uneducated complaints about the scriptural record)

No comments:

Post a Comment