Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part X

Continuing with this, the final post, on Dan R. Hender’s article about the Lehi’s landing site at 30º south latitude and his belief that it is not correct and more of myth than truth. Hender, after concluding his final arguments about why Chile could not have been the landing site, which were covered and answered in the last nine posts on this, he then switches to an interesting view of how Lehi got to Central America. 
    Hender: “Nature supports this site [a little south of the Isthmus of Darien] as we now understand that in years of El Niño, the trade winds and currents could bring a ship in at this site quite easily.”
    Response: First of all, as we now understand, no deep sea sailing ship dependent upon wind direction “driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8-9) could have sailed eastward toward Indonesia from the south coast of Arabia, nor negotiated the 18,307 archipelago of Indonesia into the Pacific Ocean, in order to pick up the current El Niño, the Pacific Equatorial Countercurrent.
    This current runs between 3º and 10º north latitude, with about 2400 miles of Indonesian islands blocking an eastward movement from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean by ship, including Sumatra, Malaysia, Borneo, and the Philippines from Palawan to Mindanao. There are also the diverging currents of seas to deal with including the Andaman Sea, South China Sea, Sulu Sea, and the Celebes Sea, or, the Andaman, Java, Banda, Molucca, and Ceram seas, including the negotiation of the very dangerous Strait of Malacca, the Balabac Strait, the Straits thru the Sulu Archipelgo, and the Celebes Sea corridor, or down through the Karimata Strait and Makasar Strait, or, thru the Pulaus or the Flores Sea, and up through the Moluccas—all directions around, between, and through an enormous number of island chains.
This map shows the congestion of islands (there are thousands more than shown  here) through the route Lehi’s ship would have had to take to reach the countercurrent and an El Niño
    We need to keep in mind that the geographical configuration of any of these routes required constant maneuvering, negotiating narrow, shallow, and twisting channels, that kept trade ships on their toes through the entire voyage to keep from running aground or wrecked on unseen shoals. The problem was so severe that anciently this area was known as the Graveyard of Ships. Even today ships run aground or collide trying to negotiate the narrow passages, sometimes less than a mile wide between shores of massive rocks.
A small example of the crowded sea through Indonesia
    Consider then, the difficulty Lehi would have had sailing in a wind-driven ship with a crew that had never before been to sea, with at least half inclining toward mutiny. While the liahona could show them the way, the men still had to steer, take in sails, adjust cordage, run lines, tighten rigging and shrouds, jury rig solutions, bail water from swamping, man the prow (or a crow’s nest) to look out for shoals, rocks, and changing waters—the normal things any crew would have to do to keep the ship running.
    In addition, since these islands were such a hazard to sailing vessels during the Age of Discovery, and Lehi’s ship was propelled by wind, there is no way they could have sailed after dark, and would have had to put in to land until dawn. With such a mutinous crew, this seems highly improbable.
    Perhaps to illustrate the fact that these are not open waters, but have numerous islands, hidden coasts, and deep channels that create escape routes, unknown areas, and well protected sanctuaries, pirates for centuries have been rampant here, and even today, causing the three main countries, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia to create Coast Watch South Project stations, and Coastal Guard Special Operations Groups, and Combat Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships forces that constantly patrol these waters
Left: A Philippine-Malaysia Border Patrol Coordinating Group conducts joint patrols as part of the JSRCA to keep these waters free from piracy—a job that so far has proven futile; Right: NASA satellite view of some of the Indonesian islands showing how crowded they are and how difficult it would be to sail through them
    Secondly, even if Lehi could have negotiated all this to reach the Pacific (sailing against all the winds and currents all the way), there is the question of the El Niño. This is not merely a current reversal as Hender would have us believe, but is a very destructive current that nearly levels everything in its path. As the U.S. Geological Survey states: “El Niño is a natural but largely unpredictable condition that results from complex interplay among clouds and storms, regional winds, oceanic temperatures, and ocean currents along the equatorial Pacific.” During this time, the Trade Winds weaken, and as the waters of the central and eastern Pacific warm, “the powerful tropical Pacific storms begin to form farther east than usual, and the effects are widespread, and the impacts are devastating.”
    Michael H. Glantz, who was provided funds from the U.N. Foundation to undertake a 16-country study on lessons learned from the 1997-1998 El Niño event, reported: “Inland, drought (sometimes with associated wildfires) in many nations of the western and southwestern Pacific Rim, southern Africa, southern India and Sri Lanka, Spain, Portugal, northern Africa, and parts of South and Central America; severe cyclones that damaged island communities in the Pacific; flooding over wide areas of South America, in western Europe, as well as in the Gulf Coastal states and some Caribbean islands; and severe storms in the western and northeastern United States.”
Clouds build, seas rise and churn, tides hit the coasts, and destroy just about everything in sight, from Australia to the Americas
    The point of all this is to show that the El Niño events are devastating, causing widespread damage, sometimes far inland; however, the major effect in damage is across the Pacific and along the coasts—exactly where Hender would have Lehi traveling. El Niño certainly would not “bring a ship in at this site quite easily.” In fact, during an El Niño event, all along the west coast of North, Central and South America, ships are warned to put to sea to avoid being caught along the coast or in harbors when the devastating currents and winds of El Niño reach them.
    Hender: “[My] Third and Fourth [reasons], as portrayed in the Book of Mormon, this is a bounteous forested land and it could well have been filled with the hungry domestic beast of the Jaredites as it is just south of the narrow neck of the Isthmus of Darien from the land where the Jaredites perceivably occupied.”
    Response: The Isthmus of Panama was earlier called the Isthmus of Darien, and is a narrow area of land that connects Central and South America. Anciently, the Central American Seaway separated the continents of North and South America, allowing the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to mix freely. This connecting bridge between two vast land masses that was once submerged but arose through sediment filling, is filled with overlapping fauna and flora from both North and South America.
    978 species of birds are in the isthmus area, and the tropical climate also encourages a myriad of large and brightly colored species such as insects, snakes, birds, fish and reptiles. This rising created what is called the Great American Interchange, with opossum, armadillo and porcupine from the south, and bears, cats, dogs, horses, llamas and raccoons from the north. There are also jaguars and wild pigs.
Yellow Arrow is the Isthmus of Darien (Isthmus of Panama), White Arrow is the Darien Gap, just south of the Isthmus, which is a “no man’s land” that  few enter and fewer still come out
    If Lehi landed just south of the Isthmus, then he landed in what is called the Darien Gap, considered the most dangerous jungle in the world, and one in which few have ever successfully crossed. There is no way in the world that Lehi, Sariah, and children could have managed this area, nor could Nephi and those who went with him have been able to cross it northward to escape his brothers. People talk about this area from looking at a map; however, its existence is far from habitual and certainly not favorable to any type of family settlement.
    This 10,000-square-mile Darién Gap stretches from the sandy shores of the Caribbean south to the rocky cliffs of the Pacific. It begins just beyond the suburbs of Panama City and sprawls east, thickening as it goes, until it has erased all roads, all telephone lines, all signs of civilization, turning the landscape into one solid band of unruly vegetation filled with jaguars, deadly bushmasters, and other exotic wildlife.
The formidable Darien Gap, just south of the Isthmus of Panama. It has a long and dangerous history and few have ever braved its interior
    Hender: “And Fifth, Indian history/legend supports the Isthmus of Darien landing as told by the Indian leader ‘Big Warrior’ in Alabama in the year 1822, prior to the coming forth of the Golden Plates and the printing of the Book of Mormon in 1830.”
    Response: Frankly, the legends surrounding Andean Peru in South America so closely follow the scriptural record it is uncanny. As for legends of indigenuous people, two lady missionaries came across a man in Venezuela named Neffi (Nephi) and told a long history of his family name all the way back into antiquity and that after reading the Book of Mormon, told of those stories that had been told around campfires in his youth by parents and grandparents. My son, as the District Leader, was well familiar with these events and involved in the subsequent leadership interactions. Oh, by the way, the man said his family originated many generations earlier in Peru.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part IX

Continuing with Dan R. Hender’s article about the Lehi’s landing site at 30º south latitude and his belief that it is not correct and more of myth than truth. 
    Hender: “So where they [animals] came from is not ascertainable thus leaving gaps in the logic of fit.”
    Response: Of course it is ascertainable, and there are no gaps in the scriptural record regarding the animals Nephi found and from where they came.
1. There was a Flood that killed every living thing on the planet except those in the Ark (Genesis 7:21-23)
2. The Ark settled after the Flood on Mt. Ararat near Mesopotamia, where life was renewed once again (Genesis 8:4)
3. The Jaredites were commanded to gather all their flocks and herds (Ether 1:41), which they brought within barges to the Land of Promise (Ether 6:4)
4. After the waters had receded from off the face of this land, the land of promise, it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof—therefore the land was barren of man and animal after the Flood (Ether 13:2)
5. The Jaredites had all their animals in the Land Northward after they landed (Ether 9:17-19)
6. Some of these animals were driven into the Land Southward (Ether 9:32)
7. When Lehi landed in the Land of Promise, there were animals on the land (1 Nephi 18:25)
Just where else would you have the animals come from that Lehi found, if not from the only other people upon the face of the Land of Promise that we know the Lord led there?
    Hender: “For one thing there are no such forest lands near that landing site…
    Response: This has been covered extensively, but they say a picture is worth a thousand words:
The Fray Jorje National Forest in La Serena, Chile, within walking distance of where Lehi landed at 30º south latitude—the largest temperate forest in all of South America
    For those who have trouble identifying the picture, it is of a forest. It is in the La Serena area of Chile, within view of the coast, and right along the area Lehi landed at 30º south latitude.
    Hender: “…and for another the domestic animals couldn't just appear out of thin air so to speak.”
    Response: It is interesting that Hender uses the term "domestic" animals--a term not used in the scriptures. We need to keep in mind, that Nephi was describing to us animals he found in the wild. He said, “we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men” (1 Nephi 18:25). He does not separate domestic and non-domestic animals. However, of course, cows and goats are generally considered domestic, but the ox, ass and horse, along with the wild goat, are not domestic until someone domesticates them. And cows, left on their own for generations, and found in the wild, are not the same as cows one might pasture and milk.
Top Leftx: There are wild feral (not habituated with humans) cattle (cows) in south Texas; Top Right: also found in central Florida; Bottom Right: and along the upper plat and Mogollon Rim of Arizona; Bottom Right: as well as in Venezuela. The females are all referred to as cows (cattle collectively)
    On the other hand, domestic cows Bos primigenius exist in the billions but their wild ancestors died out by 1627; other species of wild cow, which are listed by the IUCN, have not been seen since 1980s. In 2009, a herd of gaurs, a rare kind of wild cattle today, were discovered still living in Southeast Asia, and a breed called Chillingham Cattle have been found to be living in an undisturbed area of Northumberland, England since the Middle Ages.
    There are places in the world where what we call domesticated animals run in the wild, are not habituated with humans, and do well, including cattle (cows) and though we call them gentle breeds, they can be quite dangerous in their wild state. In addition, for those who might not study animals, a “wild ox,” unlike what most people might think is a casterated bull, is actually any of various wild bovines especially of the genera Bos or closely related Bibos—wild and domestic cattle, and are of the Bovidae family, i.e., true antelopes, cattle, oxen, sheep, and goats.
Top Left: A gaur is a massive wild ox; Top Right: The Urochs, a wild ox, recently reclassified by the ITIS as Bos Taurus, the same species as domestic cattle; Middle Left: A wild goat; Middle Right: A (domestic) goat; Bottom Left: A Wild Ass in its natural habitat; Bottom
Middle: (Female) Wild Cow; Bottom Right: Wild (Chilling) cows in England
    Hender: “endHenAn Alternative Logical and Reasonable Site That Is Attributable to Joseph Smith is that Lehi landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien.”
Once again, a little south of the Isthmus of Darien (Panama) is the Darien Gap, a 4,592-square-mile impassable jungle that not even the 16,000 mile Pan American highway from Alaska to Chile could build through--a fact not known to Americans in Joseph Smith's time 
    Response: As has been covered in numerous earlier posts of this blog, the Isthmus of Darien in no way fits the scriptural record. Hender gets his backing of this idea from The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p 267, which states: "...Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land, and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien,..."
    First of all, this book was written by his great-nephew, Joseph Fielding Smith, and was a collection of gospel principles discussed by the prophet. It was not a book about geography. On page 267, the reference given was under the heading “Facts Are Stubborn Things—Greatness of the Jaredites and Nephites.” This begins with “From an extract from “Stephen’s Incidents of Travel in Central America,” it will be seen that the proof of the Nephites and Lamanites dwelling on this continent, according to the account in the book of Mormon, is developing itself in a more satisfactory way than the most sanguine believer in that revelation could have anticipated (p 266), and goes on to say: Surely “facts are stubborn things. It will be as it ever has been, the world will prove Joseph Smith a true prophet by circumstantial evidence, in experiments as they did Moses and Elijah. Now read Stephen’s story.”
Page 267 goes on to quote a paragraph of Stephens work about a manuscript of Don Juan Torres regarding a chronicle that fell into the hands of Father Francis Vasques stating that the Totecas being descended from the house of Israel. The part about landing a little south of Darien was taken from Stephens book, which was given to the Prophet in 1842. It cannot be overemphasized that Joseph Smith made no direct quote on this to the Church in general, made no official statement on this, and never stated in any official, prophetic, or presidential manner regarding this, though he did write briefly about it in his journal and in the History of the Church. The article itself was taken from something written in Times & Seasons.
    It should be kept in mind that Stephens book showed the Prophet and members of the Church at the time, that there actually were ruins of a lost civilization that existed in Central America. And logically, the nearest “narrow neck of land” area to that was the Isthmus of Darien.
    What was important to Joseph Smith in this, and to the members of the Church, was that their existence verified the Book of Mormon, and showed that such a civilization actually existed in the Americas anciently. They were excited about this find in what is now called Mesoamerica. Consider what their reaction would have been had someone discovered the ruins of an equally ancient civilization in Andean Peru, or if Stephens had traveled to Peru and not Central America--would there have been equal comment about Lehi landing there?
    However, that knowledge did not come forth until many years later.
(See the next post, “Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part IX,” for Hender’s concluding reasons why he thinks the actual landing took place in Central America)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part VIII

Continuing with Dan R. Hender’s article about the Lehi’s landing site at 30º south latitude and his belief that it is not correct and more of myth than truth. Following is the continuation regarding the paper about Lehi’s landing written in the hand of Frederick G.Williams discussed in the last post] 
    Continuing the comment on the last post:
    To understand the importance of Frederick G. Williams’ notation about Lehi landing at 30º south latitude along then Chilean coast of South America, we have to consider that in 1864 (and especially in the 1830s when it was considered written), the area of Coquimbo and La Serena, Chile (30º South Latitude), were still basically unknown in America.
As an example, thirty years after Williams wrote that statement, in December 1870, at a time when Peru, Chile and Bolivia were moving closer to war (since early the year before), President Ulysses S. Grant (left), in his State of the Union Address in Washington, had not even been able to get his Secretary of State to hold a conference with these neighboring countries and Spain. He hoped that: “The allied and other Republics of Spanish origin on this continent may see in this fact as new proof of our sincere interest in their welfare. Or our desire to see them blessed with good government, capable of maintaining order and of preserving their respective territorial integrity.
    At the time, the U.S. had little connection with these different Republics, since they had been under Spanish rule for several hundred years, and America had been embroiled over a Civil War and all the internal problems leading up to and following the conflict. Besides several lengthy statements pointed toward England and their involvement in that conflict, Grant did say, “The time is not probably far distant when, in the natural course of events, the European political connection with this continent will cease. Our policy should be shaped, in view of this probability, so as to ally the commercial interests of the Spanish American States more closely to our own.”
    In this 1870 Address, Peru was mentioned only once, with Ecuador and Chile only twice each, while Caribbean and Central American areas were mentioned several times. As an example San Domingo (now the Dominican Republic) was mentioned eleven times. Obviously, in late 1870, America was just beginning to look to the South, yet, even then, that look was directed to the Caribbean, along with Venezuela, and Panama. In fact, extradition treaties had only that year been enacted with the northern republics—Peru and Chile were still out of mind.
    As late as 1900, with the Panama Canal still 14 years away from use, western South American countries were reached via “sailing around the Horn” (Cape Horn, Tierra del Fuego of southern Chile), and from there it was easier to sail directly to Europe than to Washington or New York. France and Europe, even Japan and China, had far more involvement in Andean South America than did the U.S. When these American republics needed help, they looked to France and “Latin Europe.” As late as the mid-twentieth century in the U.S. there was a trend to classify all of the territory south of the United States as “Latin America,” or the “Caribbean,” and not particularly by individual country.
As late as the early 20th century, the clipper routes, which carried much of the world’s trade, sailed from Europe around Cape Horn to Asia, Australia, Japan, etc., but not up the West Coast of South America--not even to San Francisco
    So how interesting is it that Frederick G. Williams, counselor and scribe to Joseph Smith (D&C 90:19), or the prophet himself, knew anything about 30º South Latitude along the west coast of Chile? Odd, that that very spot was chosen, which supported the same climate as Jerusalem, a fact that was not known and understood until the late 20th century. Interesting that a place as unique as that was written down by Williams that matches every description of the scriptural record like no other place in the Western Hemisphere, yet Theorists quibble over whether or not it was a revelation, when the issue should be the remarkable location chosen.
    Hender: “B. H. Roberts points to another record source of such a statement. It is in the writings of Orson Pratt (Pratt's Works, edition of 1851, "Remarkable visions," p. 7). Elder Roberts concludes from this and the previous sited quote, that Lehi did land in Chile in his book "A Book of Mormon Study," page 253. It seems from these sources that it was the logical and reasonable assumed truth that Lehi landed 3000-4000 miles south of the Land occupied by the Jaredites.”
After landing, Nephit makes plates and writes upon them, and Lehi before his death blesses his children and family. When Lehi dies, Laman and Lemuel feel free to carry our their threats against Nephi and the Lord warns him to flee into the wilderness
    Response: Why don’t we keep things straight. Lehi landed 30º south latitude in Chile. However, after Lehi died, probably only a handful of years after landing, Nephite states: “I, Nephi, did cry much unto the Lord my God, because of the anger of my brethren…their anger did increase against me, insomuch that they did seek to take away my life“ (2 Nephi 5:1-2). The Lord then tells Nephi to flee into the wilderness, and take all those who would go with him (2 Nephi 5:5).
    Now, if Nephi traveled northward to the area of Lake Titicaca and Cuzco, where factors discussed in these posts for the past four years, and covered in detail in the book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica, places them, then they traveled about 980 miles, far shorter than the distance they traveled from the Red Sea across to the area they called Bountiful (1350 miles). From this point, say around 560 B. C., until Mosiah is told to flee the city Nephi founded, around 200 B.C., the events described take place within a very small area, maybe a hundred square miles or less. Then from Mosiah’s time (200 B.C.) until Mormon’s time (350 A.D.), nearly the entire record (Mosiah through 4 Nephi) takes place in an area between the City of Nephi location and the city of Zarahemla, a distance of a few hundred miles (about the distance of St. George to Logan, Utah). In Alma, much of the events take place near the city of Zarahemla, or along the East Sea, from the City of Moroni to Bountiful, again a distance of a few hundred miles.
The point is, at no time does the scriptural record take place in the Andean area 3000 to 4000 apart. If we look at the three places of landing along the West Coast of South America, or the West Sea (Lehi, Mulekites, and Jaredites), the overall distance (though the first two had no contact with the Jaredites) is about 2500 miles, with the distance between Lehi and the Mulekites about 1500 miles, and the distance between the city of Nephi and the Mulekite landing about 280 miles, and between the city of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla about 60-70 miles.
    Once again, most of the events in the Book of Mormon take place in a reasonably small area, about the same as Salt Lake City to Spanish Fork at any given time. When the Lamanites came down to do battle in the Land of Zarahemla, they were traveling a distance of around 50 to 60 miles. Seldom, as an example, do they move as far as from the city of Nephi to the city of Zarahemla—only once in the entire record; and even then we have no idea how long it took them to reach the city since they were battling through the center of the land, i.e., not along the coasts where the Nephites stationed their two armies.
    Hender: “And thus Elder Roberts concludes that it was totally impossible for the Jaredite domestic animals to be those found by Lehi's landing party.”
    Response: Offering no disrespect to Elder B. H. Roberts, that while a 3000 to 4000 journey for animals would be improbable, three things need to be kept in mind: 1) The journey at its longest would have been about 2500 miles, of which we have much evidence today (probably unknown in Roberts day) of animal migrations of that distance and more in a single year—year after year; 2) These animals had about 1000 years to roam or drift from the Jaredite lands to the point of Lehi’s landing; and 3) This was all done under the direction of the Lord, who got the animals and snakes moving in the first place (Ether 9:33).
    After all, for the person who created the heavens and all that is in them, and worlds without number, moving a few animals across the land so they would be positioned where Lehi landed would not be a very difficult thing.
(See the next post, “Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part IX,” for Hender’s reasons why he says “it does seem to me that the Chilean Landing Site is not correct and more of myth than truth,” and our response and clarification as to why Chile was the site)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part VII

Continuing with Dan R. Hender’s article about the Lehi’s landing site at 30º south latitude and his belief that it is not correct and more of myth than truth. Following is the continuation regarding the paper about Lehi’s landing written in the hand of Frederick G.Williams discussed in the last post] 
    Hender: “On that paper where found notes pertaining to the doctrine and history of the Church. And there also was found the above quote. Elder Widtsoe points out that diligent search has failed to trace it to the Prophet.”
    Response: Interesting. I don’t know who wrote it or who didn’t. I do know that if Elder Faust or Elder Uchtdorf were to jot down a statement on a paper that had other important words about doctrine and Church history, that basically only Pres. Monson knew or was known to have discussed, one might think they were connected.
    Evidently, however, though Frederick G. Williams was both Joseph Smith’s personal scribe, and his second counselor in the First Presidency, and as such around the prophet a great deal, Elder Widtsoe could find no connection between them on this matter.
A little background at this point might be of importance. In 1946, M. Wells Jakeman (far left) came to teach at Brigham Young University and founded the department of archaeology (now anthropology), encouraged by Elder John A. Widtsoe (left) of the Council of the Twelve. Jakeman believed thoroughly in a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon Land of Promise and taught it openly until his retirement in 1976, influencing a large number of BYU students and faculty and made consideration of the Mesoamerican hypothesis acceptable—including LDS archaeologists Ross T. Christensen and John L. Sorenson, each of whom later became chairman of the same BYU department and also taught the Mesoamerican Theory, along with V. Garth Norman, Gareth W. Lowe, and Bruce W. Warren, all of whom taught in that department.
    Elder Widtsoe, while acknowledging that Joseph Smith “did not say where, on the American continent, Book of Mormon activities occurred,” leaned toward the Mesoamerican view (John A. Widtsoe, “Is Book of Mormon Geography Known?” Improvement Era 53/7, July 1950, pp 547, 596-7).
Coquimbo Bay and La Serena along the 30º south latitude on the west Chilean coast of South America. It is one of only three or four such possible landing sites along the entire Chilean coast, a fact that would have been unknown in New England in 1830s
    But whether Elder Widstoe was right or not in his assessment of the statement, it does not change the caveat outlined above. How did anyone of these men know about the 30º South Latitude in 1840s America? All of the information showing such a connection and match to the scriptural record did not appear in print or understanding until the following century, and some of these areas not until the latter part of the 20th century.
    Hender: “The Church Historian obtained the paper as a gift from Ezra G. Williams, the son of Frederick G. Williams in 1864, twenty years after Joseph's death.”
    Response: Note: Williams written paper can be found in Frederick G. Williams III, Did Lehi Land in Chile? p. 1. LDS Archives, MSD 3408 fd 4 v, S. L. C., Utah). It was a sheet of paper that had been separated into four sections by a line drawing. The top section contained a copy of the revelation pertinent to John, the second had "Questions in English and Answers in Hebrew," and the third section had writings titled "Characters on the Book of Mormon." The Lehi statement was found at the bottom of the page in the fourth section.
    It is pointed out by critics of the Chilean landing site that this sheet of paper containing the reference to John the Beloved was clearly labeled "A Revelation concerning John the beloved," yet the section of paper containing the Lehi’s travel statement had no title or header calling it a revelation or anything else. However, the issue should not be whether or not it was a revelation, but that it was suggested and written in the 1830s at all!
    Along this line, one of the most bizarre statements made is that of Phyllis Olive in her book, The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon, which states: “Even though no information about the physical geology of Lehi’s landing site is ever given in the scriptures, those who were following the journey of Lehi eastward from the Arabian Peninsula may have still found the Chilean landing site plausible.”
    One might want to ask “how plausible?” 
Top: A visual direct route to South America; Bottom: A visual route island-hopping to Central America
    A glance at any map would have shown most people in the 19th century that a direct route to South America would have been through Indonesia and the South Pacific islands for a landing around Ecuador. Chile is visually not along any direct route and would hardly be “plausible” looking at a world map, let along even considered. Ecuador or maybe Peru would be within that direct route; and a visual route to Central America might even have been considered. The fact that winds and currents would not have allowed any of these routes would not have been known in the 1830s and many of which were not even discovered until Admiral Halsey sent his Task Force 38 into the Philippine Sea during World War II.
    The point is, no one would have considered a 40º-50º southern ocean current or path taking Lehi to Chile—it would have been out of the question. Only modern knowledge of the Prevailing Westerlies wind and the strong West Wind Drift current of an area named an ocean only in the 20th century would suggest to anyone of such a voyage. Olive, like so many others, used 20th century knowledge to suggest a route for an 19th century written document.
The idea of a southeast sailing through the Indian Ocean and then crossing the Pacific and landing in Chile would not have been a logical idea looking at a map, since no one would have known of this southern current and would think this would be too close to Antarctica
    Finally, B. H. Roberts dismissed the writing with the comment: “Now, if no more evidence can be found to establish this passage in Richards and Little’s Compendium as a ‘Revelation to Joseph the Seer,’ than the fact that it is found in the hand writing of Frederick G. Williams, and on the same sheet of paper with the body of the revelation about John, the evidence of its being a ‘revelation to Joseph, the Seer,’ rests on a very unsatisfactory basis (John Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, p. 386, quoting B. H. Roberts, NewWitness for God, Vol. II. Deseret News; Salt Lake City, 1909 pp. 501-502.)
    John Sorenson added, “There was no reference to authorship or headers of any kind in this section. Therefore, no basis for it being considered a revelation to Joseph could ever be justified.”
    So, because they could dismiss the statement as not being a revelation, they dismissed the statement out of hand. Yet, once again, the importance of the statement in the 1830s is not whether it was a revelation, but that someone made it at all—a subject that would have been inconceivable to just about everyone in the eastern United States at the time. Discussing a place for Lehi’s landing that not until the late 20th century could be verified on every single point of description given in the scriptural record is a matter quite remarkable. It may seem quite natural to think this in our day, but in the 19th century, no one even knew about these winds, currents, and the area of Coquimbo and La Serena and how they match so perfectly with Lehi’s landing site.
(See the next post, “Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part VIII,” for more on Lehi’s landing site and whether or not it was in Chile)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part VI

Continuing with Dan R. Hender’s article about the Lehi’s landing site at 30º south latitude and his belief that it is not correct and more of myth than truth. Following are more of his opposing points: 
    Hender: “A later Book of Mormon reference states that these animals had wandered into the land southward for the want of food. This would imply that they were from the Jaredite source and that as Shiz swept the land desolate, any surviving animals had to leave the land northward and travel to the land southward to find food. Any such hungry animal will so migrate for food, even dumb cows.”
Response: First, “wandering” suggests a slow, meandering pace, such as while foraging. These animals did not wander, they were running for their lives, i.e., “their flocks began to flee before the poisonous serpents, towards the land southward” (Ether 9:31) and “some fled into the land southward” (Ether 9:32). If you have never been on the range herding large numbers of cattle or horses and have them stampede, you may not realize the impact of such a thing--frightened animals running for their lives are going to run for a long time over a very long distance before realizing the threat is over.
    Second, there is no indication in the scriptural record that Shez “swept the land desolate,” nor do we know of any animals surviving the poisonous serpents that did not get into the Land Southward, though this might be expected. The point is, we cannot speculate on any animals left in the Land Northward.
    If Shiz, who Coriantumr killed, is meant, this period of time would have been at the conclusion of at least 1000 years since the animals were driven into the Land Southward and would not have any impact on what those early “escapees” did or where they went, or ended up. We only know at the time of Lehi’s arrival, there were many animals in the area of his landing.
Third, between the time of Heth when the poisonous serpents appeared and the time of Lib, when the serpents were destroyed was 7 generations of men who lived to an exceeding great age. While we use 35 years per generation today, a generation of Jaredites, who had children in their old age, would probably be longer—maybe around 50 years. That would be 350 years covering those seven generations. Left unmolested, how many animals might have existed after 350 years? The numbers could be astronomical, though most animal populations tend to balance out over time; however, as they increased in size, movement would have been forced upon them to seek “greener pastures”—and that movement would have to have been southward.
    Fourth, we also have a period of 13 generations between Lib, and Coriantumr, when the Jaredites were destroyed. At 50 years per generation, that would be another 650 years, or about 1000 years that animals were in the land southward, with much of the 650 of those years hunters going into the land to hunt them—which would have driven the survivors further and further southward.
Fifth, while any dumb animal will migrate in search of food and water, all will seek new lands if their own land is threatening to them. In the Land of Promise, it would be unlikely that animals frightened out of one area would not find “the grass greener” somewhere else (other than the Atacama Desert). So it would appear that the animals the Jaredites brought to the Land of Promise after the Flood, were the only animals in the land, since there is no record that the Nephites brought anything other than “seeds of every kind.” Nor would the Mulekites, who were escaping the Babylonians who nearly circled the Jerusalem area at the time, likely to have had the means or time to bring animals with them.
    Hender: “In the July 1950 Improvement Era, John A. Widtsoe on page 547 discounts the so called Joseph Smith revelation. It seems that the 'quote' attributed to Joseph Smith's History was not taken from there at all. It's source was an obscure slip of paper in the possession of the Church Historian and was said to have been the property of President Frederick G. Williams, one of Joseph's counselors.”
    Response: This is the so-called revelation that Lehi landed at the 30º south latitude in Chile. Since we will never know about this, let us concede that this was not a revelation, thereby eliminating everyone’s concern over it, with one caveat. However, I would not concede that it was “an obscure slip of paper,” since it also had written on it the revelation (D&C 7) relating to John the beloved disciple, remaining on earth, until the glorious coming of Jesus to reign with his Saints.
In fact, the paper was described as “a loose sheet of paper” with both statement and revelation in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams (left), and certified by his son Ezra G. Williams, one could hardly call it “obscure.” However, whether the Lord told Joseph Smith, or whether Joseph wrote it himself, or whether it was discussed in a Presidency meeting at which Frederick G. Williams (2nd Counselor in the First Presidency) was present, or something mentioned or discussed between Joseph and his scribe (Williams), or Williams himself merely jotted it down, the question that has to be asked, which no one has to my knowledge, is “How did anyone in the 1840s come up with such an idea as Lehi landing at the 30º south latitude on the Chilean coast?”
    Given the unbelievable matches (see “So Where is the Land of Promise? Parts 1 through 12, posted between December 26, 2013 and January 7, 2014) between that particular location along the Chilean coast and the numerous descriptions and statements in the Book of Mormon relating to Lehi’s landing site and Nephi’s record of his ship and how it was “driven forth before the wind,” and what was found at their landing site, etc., etc., etc., how can anyone discount that statement, given in any form or from any source?
Columbus was very detailed in his reports of where he sailed, what he saw, and what he found—so much so we can pinpoint his exact passages, sightings and landings today
    Because of Columbus’ descriptions of his voyage of discovery, what he saw, the coasts he described, and Indians he saw, etc., historians have been able to accurately show where he went to a very close exactness. We have as much information as to Lehi’s landing site and can pinpoint that to within a very close exactness, also, which was along the Chilean coast. And it just so happens to match exactly with the notation made in the 1840s by a member of the First Presidency, before any of this could have been known about that physical location along the South American coast—a particular location that matches exactly to the descriptions in the scriptural record.
    We should be exulting with great excitement over the knowledge the Lord has revealed, as he said he would in the latter days, that has led to our understanding of Lehi’s landing site. Instead, Theorists with models of Mesoamerica, Great Lakes, Heartland, eastern U.S., New York, Baja California, Malaysia, etc., have all raised up on their hind legs to fight, discredit, shout down, and in short, vehemently disregard all these matches from central Chile to Ecuador, matches that are unparalleled anywhere else in the world.
It reminds me of the trouble Joseph Smith had when he declared simply and with honest fervor that he had seen God and his son, Jesus Christ. Talk about negative reactions across the board. Everyone wants to hold onto their piece of the pie—their fortunes, honor, pride, casreer, recognition, and approval all demand it of them. Yet, in the end, they have been and will be all proven in error. With so many perfect matches to the scriptural record in the Andean area of South America, it would appear that this, too, will eventually be proven correct.
    However, until that time, we will continue to point out the comparisons between scripture and the ideas of men. So, see the next post, “Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part VII,” for Hender’s reasons why he says “it does seem to me that the Chilean Landing Site is not correct and more of myth than truth,” and our response and clarification as to why Chile was the site.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part V

Continuing with Dan R. Hender’s article about the Lehi’s landing site at 30º south latitude and his belief that it is not correct and more of myth than truth. Following are more of his opposing points: 
    Hender: “Domestic animals were wiped out by Noah's flood and only brought back to the land north of the narrow neck of land by the Jaredites. Chile would be too far south of the land north for any such domestic animals to have traveled to be available for Lehi's party. So there is no logical source of those domestic animals of the Jaredites to be south of the Atacama Desert around La Serena, Chile at the date of Lehi's landing.”
Annual migration of a million and a half wildebeest covering over a thousand miles in the African Serengeti and Masai Mara. They are accompanied by 400,000 zebra and 200,000 gazelles, making a total of 2 million migration animals each year
    Response: Hender should spend some time learning about animal migratory habits, travels and distances. As an example, the annual Wildebeest migration of the Serengeti covers many hundreds of miles and includes millions of animals; Zebras migrate 1,000 miles annually, as do the gazelles across the Savannah, all of these crossing crocodile-infested rivers, lions prowling among the tall grass, and other predators following behind. In addition, elephants travels great distances, caribou migrate 3,000 miles annually in herds of half a million or more. What is interesting about this is that all animals around this migratory movement are swept along with it, or trampled beneath the horde. Domestic anmimals, as well as wild animals, would have become part of the movement south, fleeing from the poisonous snakes, and would have continued with one another in any further movement south as even events today show us.
Caribou are always on the move; a typical caribou will travel between 2,000 and 3,000 miles a year across spongy muskeg, flooding rivers, and snowy mountains
    The Porcupine caribou has a migration range of over 155,000 square miles, and will cover over 800 miles in a single year
    American Bison migrated 400 miles each year, with elk, mule deer, and Dall sheep covering long distances each year. Springbok (Springbuck) antelope anciently migrated great distances over their vast range in South Africa, as did the mammoth, saber-toothed tiger, etc. In fact, scientists claim that animals migrated from Siberia across a land bridge into North America and all the way south to South America—distances of more than ten thousand miles.
The second largest migration in Africa is that of approximately 15,000 Zebra make their annual pilgrimage to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in search of water and good grazing
    The distances between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, over which the animals frightened by the poisonous snakes would have traveled less than 2000 miles to La Serena, Chile. And this would have been over at least a thousand year period (from the days of Com to Lehi’s landing)--not in just one year; nor do we know that animals had not already migrated into the Land Southward over the 1600 year existence of the Jaredites. In a thousand years, foraging animals can travel a great distance when uninterrupted by man. And certainly, the Lord would have had a hand in their movement to where Lehi landed since they were to be the Nephite’s source of food for some time.
    Hender: Occasionally in an El Nino year there will be a down pour of rain in some part of the desert, but for the most part, year in and year out, it just does not rain there at all. There is no life there. NASA has used it to test its NOMAD moon and planet exploration vehicle, as the land surface of the Atacama Desert is more like the surface of Mars than it is of any living surface here on earth.”
The Desierto florido (Flowering of the desert) in Barranquilla, Atacama Region, which occurred in 2010 during an El Nino event
    Response: First, most of the El Nino effects that hit South America do so in Ecuador and Northern Peru with extremely heavy rains, or also in Central Chile—pretty much bypassing the Atacama Desert. What rainfall does strike the desert results in the phenomenon of the blossoming of a wide variety of flowers (see above) between the months of September and November in the southern desert area around 28º south latitude, a little north of Huasco, Vallenar, and La Serena.
    Second, it is interesting that Hender wants to spend so much time talking about this 600-mile-long stretch of desert as though that was where Lehi landed, or where he lived, or where he and/or Nephi traveled. None of these things occurred there and, to my knowledge, no one I have heard or read about relating to a South American west coast landing has ever suggested such a thing.
    Hender: Yet the Book of Mormon states that the land at the site of Lehi's landing was a bounteous land. When Lehi's party first landed they planted well needed crops and the land brought forth such abundantly. Logically this is not the arid Chilean site.”
Response: The problem lies in people trying to write about areas they seem to know very little about. The Atacama Desert’s northern point is 18.48º south latitude, and southern point is about 28º south latitude, with its mean center, or the driest area, about 24.5º south latitude. On the other hand, Lehi’s landing site was written down at 30º south latitude (where Coquimbo and LaSerena are now located). That difference is about the distance from the center of Salt Lake City to the city of Nephi in the south, or from SLC to just north of downtown Logan, Utah. And in the case of Chile, the difference is between a very dry desert climate to a Mediterranean Climate—a very big difference!
In 2007 (the last agricultural census), Chile had 324,293 ha of fruit orchards. The most important were table grapes (20%), avocados (13%) and apples (12%). Some 22% of the fruit crops growing area were prunes (42%) and blueberries (56%). According to Revista Brasileira de Fruticultura and Chilena de Fruticultura, 70% of the orchards are located between latitude 27º18` S (Copiapó) and 36º50´S (Conceptión), with most of those (16,000 growers) from Coquimbo/LaSerena to Parral, and supplied North America, Europe and Asia
    The La Serena Mediterranean Climate in 600 B.C. would have been immeasurably important since seeds (without modern techniques) will not grow in different climates from where they originated. Even today, when you purchase seeds, the packet states what climate zone they will grow in. The Mediterranean Climate of 30º south latitude in Chile, matching the Mediterranean Climate of Jerusalem, allowed Lehi's seeds to grow “exceedingly and bring forth an abundant crop,” just as the scriptural record tells us.
    Hender: “The Book of Mormon also states that as Lehi's party began to journey in the wilderness from the site of landing to the Land of First Inheritance, they found in the forests beasts of every kind wild and domestic. The 1000 mile desert north of the Chilean site was no forested land filled with beasts of every kind.”
    Response: While there are a few animals in the Atacama, there are definitely no forests. However, in La Serena, as mentioned in the previous post, there are and were huge forests of at least five tree species indigenous to that area. As an example, the Valdivian forest of Chile is a multiple ecosystems in the immense Fray Jorge National Park along Route 5 in La Serena, Chile, and includes Valdivian forests overflowing with ferns and cinnamon trees, and is home to the majestic Alerce tree, which can reach heights of 377 feet, and live for more than 3000 years, along with a variety of species including eagles, pumas and guanacos (wild parent of the llama).
Top: The rainforest at La Serena, Chile in the Coquimbo Region; Bottom: The famous and mighty Alerce trees of La Serena, Chile
    This temperate rainforest, which begins today only about 1.5 miles inland from the bay at Coquimbo (though the entrance to the park is further), covers approximately 103,301 square miles (of which 70% lies within Chile), and is the second largest of five temperate rainforests in the world and the only one in South America—which only shows how exact La Serena matches the scriptural record of Lehi’s landing site. Incidentally, of the estimated 87,687 square miles of original forest existing at the time of European contact, only about 40% remains today, suggesting it might have been even larger in 600 B.C.
(Image F – Top: At 30º south latitude, the western edge of the forest looking westward at the Pacific Ocean; Bottom: Looking over the forest eastward toward the distant Andes
    Remember what Nephi said: “…we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind…” (1 Nephi 18:25). Well, La Serena has a very large forest, unbelievable dense with 350-foot tall trees, and animals of every kind. An interesting parallel to the scriptural record, wouldn’t you say? Too bad Hender had not seen this remarkable area that astounds everyone who visits it, before he wrote about no forests in Chile at 30º south latitude.
And let’s not forget what Hender said in his opening statement, ““truth and reason,” that while truth is reason, reason is not always truth, and that “just because something seems logical and reasonable given the known facts, and our reasoning and logic assures our limited academic mentalities of such as truth; when given all the facts of which we are total y unaware, we may be actually dead wrong as to the real truth of the matter.” 
    Perhaps we might add to Hender’s opening statement that one probably should not consider he knows the truth when he has not studied, visited, and researched the area about which he writes and, in this case, discounts out of hand.
(See the next post, “Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part VI,” for Hender’s reasons why he says “it does seem to me that the Chilean Landing Site is not correct and more of myth than truth,” and our response and clarification as to why Chile was the site)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part IV

Continuing with Dan R. Hender’s article about the Lehi’s landing site at 30º south latitude and his belief that it is not correct and more of myth than truth. Following are more of his opposing points: 
    Hender: “This Chilean landing site places Lehi's party in an arid climate, as we know it today.”
    Response: Not true. 30º South Latitude is, as it has always been and as we know it today, is a Mediterranean climate exactly like the one Lehi left in Jerusalem. In fact, it is the only other place in the entire world that matches perfectly the six parts of a Mediterranean Climate with the Mediterranean area of which Israel is part. In fact, though there are five Mediterranean Climate zones outside the Mediterranean Sea area, only the one in Chile matches all six of the parts of such a climate (climate, plants, temperature, soil, soil group and rainfall). It also has the same ore and metals, and has/had the geographical setting of the scriptural record descriptions.
Left: Matching Climate Locations, showing 12 locations around the world that are either Mediterranean climates themselves (Jerusalem, Chile, southern tips of Africa and Australia, and Southern California), or otherwise associated with different Theory Models of where the Land of Promise is supposed to have ben located. Note only one place matches all of the climate criteria with Jerusalem—that of 30º South Latitude, La Serna, Chile, in Andean South America; Right: A comparison between the five major areas considered to be the Land of Promise and showing 15 descriptions stated in the scriptural record. Note, only one location matches every one—Andean South America
    Hender: “They would be south of any forested lands…
    Response: Again, this is not true. For those unaware, at the 30º south latitude of Chile, it is home to the second largest temperate rainforest in the world, and the most biologically diverse, as well as some distinctive local trees found only in small pockets in the country’s unique ecosystem. According to Chile’s forestry service, Conaf, today about 18% of the country is covered by native forest, with much more having existed before man arrived. While a beautiful hardwood is endemic to central Chilean forests, an area not far from Lehi’s landing site, called the canelo, whose bark, leaves and roots have medicinal properties, and is sacred to Chile’s largest indigenous group, the Mapuche, and to the south of Lehi’s landing area the land is full of forests and trees.
Just to the south of La Serena and covering much of the land southward, are Chilean forests, such as this one, and are home to some of the world’s oldest tallest, and most exceptional tree species
    And while we’re at it, we might suggest that Chile is one of the fastest rising fruit exporters in the world, a more than $4-billion industry, exporting millions of tons of apples, cherries, nuts, avocados, and blueberrie, and along with Argentina, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, South Africa and Peru supply about 50% of the non-banana fruit imported into the U.S. annually. In fact, much of the Western U.S. winter fruit comes from Chile.
    Hender: “…having to cross over a 1000-miles desert lands northward to arrive at such in Bolivia and Southern Peru. This includes the 600 mile Atacama desert known as the driest desert and land on earth.”
    Response: As explained earlier (see maps last post), there is no time Lehi or his company, nor Nephi later, and those who went with him, would have crossed the Atacama Desert in their trek northward. This desert is along a 600-mile strip of coastal land. Directly to the east, and paralleling this desert, is the altiplano, a 600-mile-long high plain where there is plenty of water, grasses grow and animals roam.
Hender: “I work at Dugway Utah in the middle of the Western Utah Desert south of the Great Salt Lake and bordering the Salt Flats.”
    Response: There is no connection, comparison or similarity between Dugway, Utah, and La Serena, Chile, but since you bring it up, let’s take a look at the summer and winter temperatures: La Serena has a cool desert climate, and in the summer months there is an absence of precipitation, but with abundant morning cloudiness and drizzles. These dissipate around noon, giving way to clear skies and warm 72 °F days. Compare this to Dugway, Utah, whose summer temps average 74º in May, 85º June, 95º July, 92º August, 81º in September. Winter temps in Dugway are 26º November, 18º December, 16º January, 23º February and 29º March, while in La Serena, the winter temperatures range from 45ºF to 61º, and being located in a coastal zone the minimums and maximums are moderated by the maritime influence and the temperature of the cold Humboldt Current.
Left: Llama running wild in the hills outside La Serena; Right: Horses in Skull Valley
    Hender: As I drive Skull Valley each day there is life everywhere, sagebrush, grasses and noxious weeds all over the place and even some native scrubby scrub-oak trees. It is open range and deer, wild horses, antelope and rancher's cows graze on this western desert land. Birds and insects are everywhere. There are a number of ranch houses, a Goshute Indian reservation, and a one time Polynesian settlement town called Iosepha, not to mention Dugway Proving Grounds out here.
    Response: I have never been to Skull Valley or Dugway, so I am reliant upon posted pictures of the area; however, I believe these are representative of the referred to area. I have taken pics of La Serena and the Valley at 30º south latitude along the Chile coast and placed them beside some from Dugway and Skull Valley. I am not sure why you want to compare the two, but it would seem that La Serena’s Mediterranean Climate is obvious when compared against Dugway’s Desert Climate.
Photos (below) of 30º south latitude La Serena and Valley area (on left) and photos of Dugway and Skull Valley, Utah (on right)
    Hender:“The Atacama is not a 'living desert.' It is a dead, dry land for hundreds of miles and shows no signs of any such thing as previously being forested or having had abundant animal life.”
    Response: Granted. It is a unique desert. But while parts haven’t seen a drop of rain since recordkeeping began, there are animals and more than a million people who live there in coastal cities, mining towns, and fishing villages. There are also farmers who grow olives, tomatoes, and cucumbers with drip-irrigation systems, culling water from aquifers in the northern area of this desert, and toward the eastern foothills, Aymara and Atacama Indians herd llamas and alpacas and grow crops with water from snowmelt streams. Others harvest water with nets they use in thick fog banks that roll in off the Pacific Ocean.

Photos showing the Atacama Desert in bloom, and the other is a Llama living on the Atacama
And snow on the Atacama at San Pedro de Atacama in the southern region of the driest desert on earth.
Harvesting water from snow banks that roll in over the Atacama
    Once again, however, the point of this is that while the Atacama could have been skirted by Nephi and those who went with him, there was no reason for him to travel along the coastal route when the inland altiplano would have been much easier and provided more protection from being followed, and led directly to the area where Nephi settled at the northern end of this altiplano.
(See the next post, “Is the Chile Landing Site a Myth? – Part V,” for Hender’s reasons why he says “it does seem to me that the Chilean Landing Site is not correct and more of myth than truth,” and our response and clarification as to why Chile was the site)