Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Three Very Important Questions-– Part I – Three Important Questions

When we start thinking about where the Land of Promise might have been located, there are three very important questions we should consider, and answer if we can:
1. How old is the Earth, that is, when was it formed and when was man placed upon it?
2. What did the Earth look like in that day, and specifically what did the Land of Promise area look like?
3. After the destruction outlined in 3 Nephi took place, what changes in the Land of Promise occurred?
The first question deals with the most significant problem facing anyone trying to place the Land of Promise—the time frame of Creation. Put differently, the Earth is either 4.55 billions years old as geologists and earth scientists claim, or it is about 13,000 years old as the scriptures say. There is no other alternative. Because this is such a critical issue, it was the subject of the 4th book in the series about the Book of Mormon shown here on this website (Scientific Fallacies & Other Myths).
Since the attitude that the Earth is 4.55 billion years old is so steeped in the American conscience, even to LDS people, when talking about things ancient, they have a tendency to think in terms before man. However, that tendency eliminates a clear and accurate understanding of the way things were when Lehi set sail, and where he landed.
As has been pointed out in the several previous posts, the South American continent was definitely under water at one time and emerged when the plate tectonics drove up the mighty Andes Mountain chain, creating mountains whose “height is great.” Only the Himalayas in Asia are taller and considered younger (mainly because geologists consider they have not had time to weather like the Urals and the Appalachians).

Left: Peruvian Nevado Alpamayo Peak in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range of the Andes Mountain stands at 19,511 feet. Its Quechua name is Shuyturahu, meaning long and thin snowy mountain; Center: Yerupaja Peak in the Cordillera Huayhuash, stands at a staggering 21,768 feet; Right: Huantsan, a mountain in the Ancash Region and part of the Cordillera Blanca, which is a sub-range of the Andes, and stands at 20,895 feet

But what if the Andes did rise suddenly, as Samuel the Lamanite foresaw and the Disciple Nephi witnessed in the Land of Promise? What if this event was out of the norm of other, slower developments science claims to have happened elsewhere? This then brings the question of how quickly the mountains attained such heights into a very important area—and has been a contentious question in geological circles for quite some time. Some researchers claim the central Andes rose abruptly to nearly their current height and others maintain the uplift was a more gradual process.
No matter where we want to place the Land of Promise, we know from the scriptural record that some mountain range rose up out of the level ground to a height that the Angel told Samuel was great. Could this have been the Andes? It certainly is the only range in the Western Hemisphere that meets such a criteria.
So how old are the Andes Mountains? Depending on what you are looking for, who you want to listen to, and how you accept the basis of the different arguments, depends entirely on your answer. First of all, the Andes are claimed to be 7 to 8 million years old—that is, when they started to rise. On a geologic scale that covers 4.55 billion years—7 to 8 million is extremely recent. Lately, however, science is pushing back that start date to about 25 to 30 million years ago—still extremely young on the geologic scale.
But what caused this revision? Actually, it is the location of sediment that has been washed down from the mountain and accumulated in nearby lake bottoms, and the belief that the oxygen-16 level (oxygen has two main isotopes—Oxygen-16 and Oxygen-18) once believed to have existed in the Andes has now been determined to be Oxygen-18, and had not risen sharply, but been based on greater rainfall.
The problem arises, however, like it does with all of this type of science, no one was around that long ago and consequently, the mountains could have risen sharply, or there could have been a high increase in rain—no one can ever know this. So what does science do? They rely upon their belief in the very slow process of change they see about them today, thus the Andes are older than they thought and did not rise as fast as they thought.
The problem is enhanced when we start trying to equate science’s dating of events with the far lesser time frame of God’s creation. It is not that these geologic events did not happen, it is that they happened within a far shorter time frame than science wants to believe. Which leads us to the method of dating events that science uses, which brings the method into question.
Science rejects that the Earth was divided in Peleg’s time; science rejects that there was a flood; science rejects that there was a mighty change at the time of Christ’s crucifixion. Thus, science sees only very slow change and refuses to consider any other factors—even when they are shown to have not only happened, but actually answer problems much more accurately.
On the other hand, accepting the word of God causes us to realize that there has been both slow and sudden changes that have formed the world, from the creation, to Noah’s Flood, to the dividing of the Earth, to the changes at the crucifixion. These instances occurred suddenly, within hours or days, or in some cases, perhaps months or a few years—but not the millions of years science attributes to drastic change.
All of this lays the ground work for an understanding of the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon regarding then location of Lehi’s Isle of Promise and the location of the Land of Promise.
(See the next post, “Three Very Important Questions – Part II – The Second Question,” for a continuation of these questions and their answers)

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