Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Reader’s Exception to Baja Critique—Part II

Continuing with the reader, identifying himself only as Elbeau, who took several exceptions to a previous series of posts about Baja California not qualifying for the site of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise (The Fallacy of Extremist Theories--the Baja California Theory). His critiques of our posts along with current answering responses, are listed blow:

2. Our post said, "there are no tall peaks to look out over the rugged terrain to see if any force was amassing for an attack."

Elbeau's comment: "There are many, many, many, many, many tall peaks that are perfect for watching out for approaching armies. Open Google Earth and try for yourself."

Response: The problem involved here is that for an outpost to be of any value, it must be tall enough to see over the other "many, many, many, many, many tall peaks." In this area, most peaks are equally high, from 3,000 to 4,000 feet. When you have an outpost on a 3,000 foot peak, and the enemy is coming down a canyon beyond another 3,000 foot peak, you simply have no vantage point and your outpost is of little or no value. Having numerous peaks is not the answer--having peaks that overlook passes valleys, and canyons is the point. In this so-called "narrow neck of land" the peaks are about the same height and numerous canyons and passes are blocked from view atop any peak. It has little value to have a lookout on these "many, many, many, many, many tall peaks," since the purpose of a lookout station is to call in an army to repulse an enemy advance. How is an army to cross over these various peaks, or find one of the many passes into those canyons and passages in time simply from a warning lookout? The purpose of the comment in the post was to show that there are no tall peaks from which a lookout could operate effectively in seeing down into the various canyons and passes to see an advancing army.

3. In addition to saying: "In addition, there is no one single pass or passage through this area from south to north that would allow a military force to bottle up an enemy and keep it from penetrating into the lands beyond," as Elbeau stated, it was also written: "[regarding] this map, there are numerous canyons cuts, rifts among the hills that stretch from the Pacific coastal area to the Sea of Cortes. With so many passes or passages through these hills, it wold be, as stated in the last post, almost impossible to guard against a military incursion. Nor is there any one pass as Mormon described (Mormon 50:34; 52:9)."

The point of the post was that there was not only ONE passage. There are several passes or passages as shown on the map in the last post (green lines). The fact that there are numerous such passes or passages, or means to get from the south to the north through their so-called "narrow neck of land" negates the idea of one pass as Mormon described that could keep the Lamanites from gaining the northern lands.

4. Our post said, "Simply put, seeds brought "from the land of Jerusalem" would not grow in this climate." This, however, was the last sentence of a two paragraph comment about the soils and temperature in Baja California, which is NOT a Mediterranean climate like Jerusalem, and with the exception of the San Diego area northward in California, the soils, temperature, soil groups. climate, plants, and rain fall do not match a Mediterranean Climate in any way, shape, or form throughout the Baja Peninsula.

Included in the post was the Map Left: Baja is an extension of the Mojave and Sonora desert, and except for a small area along the northern coast and southern tip, the Peninsula is basically a desert with four desert regions within it. Desert is not a Mediterranean Climate where seeds from the Mediterranean would have grown in 600 B.C.; and Right: Matching Climate Locations where different Theorists have placed the Land of Promise.

Elbeau's Comment: "Points #'s 3, 4, and 5 in their entirety, summarized by seeds brought from the land of Jerusalem" would not grow in this climate" Fact #1: The Baja model that this article claims to be critiquing places the land where the seeds would grow (the landing spot of Lehi's party) in the cape area of Baja, which is a rich tropical paradise except around the shoreline. Seeds from the middle east would flourish there."

Response: First, a Mediterranean Climate is not a "tropical climate," which is found in the area Elbeau mentions. In fact, it is far different. Mesoamerica is a tropical climate, as are many other places, but there are only five Mediterranean Climates, outside the Mediterranean Basin, in the world (see climate chart above). Second, seeds from the Middle East might grow other places, but seeds from Jerusalem (and the Mediterranean Basin) will not. After all, seeds from much of Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, et all (Middle East) will not grow in a Mediterranean Climate.

As for images of Lehi's proposed landing site along the southwest Baja Peninsula to see the type of climate and topography that exists there, see a future post entitled "The Lehi Landing Site in Baja California Sur."

(See the next post, "A Readers Exception to Baja Critique--Part III," for more of Elbeau's disagreements to our earlier series of posts and our responses)


  1. As I mentioned in my recent response to your article:


    I only recently realized that you wrote these responses, so please excuse my delay in responding.

    In regards to #2, You said:

    "The problem involved here is that for an outpost to be of any value, it must be tall enough to see over the other many, many, many, many, many tall peaks."

    I understand that you are trying to say that approaching armies could hide in rough terrain. This is inaccurate. Approaching armies would have to travel across low-lying desert regions before coming to the narrow neck. Baja's topography presents a large number of appropriate 'lookout' locations to monitor such advances. This is particularly true when you consider the information I provided in my last post regarding the nature of the narrow neck, narrow pass, and travel through those areas of Baja. I encourage anyone who wants to understand this to read those comments:


    Those comments also address issue #3 from this post.

    continued below...

  2. ...continued from above:

    Regarding issue #4, you said: "soils and temperature in Baja California, which is NOT a Mediterranean climate like Jerusalem, and with the exception of the San Diego area northward". This is incorrect. The modern extent of the Mediterranean climate extends far south of San Diego and includes a large section of the Baja peninsula (Correlates of Plant Biodiversity in Mediterranean Baja California, Mexico; Vanderplank, Sula Elizabeth; 2013; http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/3qd3x9t8).

    On the other hand, this northwest section of the peninsula is far from the areas where Nephi's seeds grew, so your argument has merit in this regard.

    There are a couple of lines of thought regarding this.

    First, it is very possible, perhaps even likely, that the Baja peninsula experienced significantly more rainfall during Book of Mormon times than it does now (see http://www.bofmmodel.org/study/now-vs-then/climate/). If the climate was significantly different during Book of Mormon times, it is possible that Mediterranean conditions extended farther into the peninsula than they currently do.

    Secondly, disregarding the climate-change argument entirely, the agriculture introduced by the Spanish is a fine proxy that demonstrates that the seeds planted by Lehi's party could have thrived in the oasis environments in the peninsula. Consider the following from the Journal of Ethnobiology last year:

    "These missionaries developed the oases into complex agroecological systems with stratified cropping structures, livestock and crop rotations, terraced fields, winding canals, and open spaces between hedgerows of mixed perennials where they planted annual vegetable and grain crops. The crop repertoire within each oasis embodies cumulative geographies of agricultural and cultural dissemination from around the world. The Jesuit missionaries transported perennial crop species available in Spain at the time as well as those species they found in the landscapes of their New World conquests. These included figs, date palms, pomegranates, grapes, and olives species that originated in Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean region introduced by the Moors and earlier trade and conquest; citrus species transported along silk and spice routes from Asia, mango and coconut brought on ships directly across the Pacific, and several New World species introduced across the peninsula, as well as a few native to the peninsula. The oases, spanning the lower two-thirds of the peninsula, have varied climates and microclimates to successfully support a broad range of these introduced food crop species, including tropical fruits such as breadfruit, mangosteen, and cherimoya in the central and southern oasis sites, and more temperate apple, pear, peach and quince species in the northern oases." -(AGROBIODIVERSITY IN AN OASIS ARCHIPELAGO; Rafael de Grenade, Gary Paul Nabhan; Journal of Ethnobiology 33(2): 203–236; Fall/Winter 2013)

    The cape region's climate is different than the rest of the peninsula. It has a unique climate exemplified by three different vegetation regimes that exist and vary from each other based on altitude. There is no appropriate label like "Mediterranean" or "Tropical" or anything else that appropriately describes the cape region's agricultural potential. My label of a "rich tropical paradise" back in 2011 is an inappropriate description of the agricultural potential. The best way to understand it is to simply notice that farming of old-world species (including Mediterranean species) has been successful there throughout recorded history.