Monday, March 26, 2012

When is Reason Called Speculation? Responding to Rod Meldrum’s Answer – Part V

Continuing from the last post regarding two questions that were asked in an earlier blog: “Why did the Lord tell Nephi to build a ship unlike ones built by man? And Why did the Lord tell Nephi to work the timbers unlike that of man?” and Rod Meldrum’s uninformed answers, Meldrum wrote in his series of “maybes” of possible reasons:

“4. Maybe the Lord had Nephi add water catchment systems to gather rain water for drinking”

This suggestion does not even merit an answer. Could anyone, especially Nephi, feel that having a manner to collect water at sea was cause to say the ship was not built after the manner of men?

“5. Maybe Nephi's ship had separate rooms below deck for individual families, rather than a large open hull”

This is only the second reasonable suggestion Meldrum has made. Since passenger ships were unknown in 600 B.C., and since at least five or six families were represented on board for the length of the voyage, separate areas seems logical; however, it would be more likely that blankets or rugs were stretched across open spaces to divide the hull into rooms, like was done in the Beduin tents of the day, which Lehi would surely have had in his eight years wandering in the desert.

“6. Maybe Nephi's ship used more than one mast, unlike the Phoenician ships”

First of all, some later Phoenician ships had two masts around the time of Lehi (as shown above), though they were still oar-driven. Secondly, as stated earlier, it is unlikely those from Jerusalem living inland and on top of a mountain, knew much about Phoenician ships. If anything, they would have known more about Arabian and Egyptian ships in the area of Ezion-geber, where Solomon earlier had his fleet docked about a thousand years before Lehi left Jerusalem, and where a major ship building port existed in Lehi’s time as the colony passed by their area on the way to the Red Sea.

“7. Maybe Nephi had a larger/more effective rudder for better control of his ship”

Rudders of the day were on the outside of the ship—either one along one side of the ship at the rear, or one on either side, providing two. The problem with such rudders, is that they require brute force to move when confronted with ocean waves and strong currents. In any event, larger does not make better in rudders, unless they are connected and moved hydraulically, or with ropes and wires like European ships two thousand years later.

“8. Maybe Nephi's ship had higher sides or bows to handle rough seas better”

Again, Meldrum does not understand the dynamics of waves and ocean movement. One look at later European vessels, such as that of Columbus (see pic at left), shows the fallacy of high sides on an ocean vessel. Such height would be meaningless. Even bows did not have to be too high, though higher than the deck with a gentle slope downward, such as in the later Caravels. It was the sterncastle that was important, to keep from being pooped or swamped by a following sea.

“9. Maybe Nephi's ship was larger, with more storage capacity for food, water, supplies”

In 600 B.C., the Bireme warship, with two decks of oars, was almost three times as long as Columbus’ ship two thousand years later. Large ships were not unknown in Lehi’s time, and about the size of the much later Mayflower. Both these ships were basically cargo ships. So Meldrum’s idea of a larger ship with more storage capacity would require a ship of some 150-foot length, requiring upwards of fifty or more men to handle. This hardly sounds like the ship Nephi built.

“10. Maybe the Lord showed Nephi a different system for sealing the wooden hull planks”

This is very possible, however, the material to do so would have to have been available to Nephi in 600 B.C. in the area of Oman along the Arabian Sea. Nearly two thousand years earlier, the Lord told Noah to seal his Ark with pitch, which may have been pitch from pine trees, which was discovered as a source of sealing about one hundred years ago. However, there are no pine trees in Oman, though the Frankincense tree was available, which provides an incense sap. Once again, however, sealing ships to make them water-right was common knowledge in the area in 600 B.C. and long before.

(See the next post, “When is Reason Called Speculation? Responding to Rod Meldrum’s Answer – Part VI” for responses to more of Meldrum’s “maybes” that fall far short of knowledgeable answers)

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