Sunday, September 30, 2018

Connecting the Dots in South America – Part IV

Continued from the previous post about the connection with South America and the islands of the Pacific.
Top LtoR: Marqueasas, Polynesia; Easter Island; Colombia; Bottom LtoR: Peru; Bolivia; Ecuador

Another area of comparison between Andean Peru and Easter Island and Polynesia, is that the stone statues, called tiki, with hands on their bellies are found not only on Easter Island, but also on other Polynesian islands, often standing on ceremonial platforms, and tend to be fairly crude in their making. These are found in French Polynesia in the Marquesas Islands, where the tallest is 8-feet and on Raivavae in the Austral Islands, where the tallest is 9-feet in height. While of much higher workmanship and slightly different design, such statues are found in Andean South America from San Augustin in Colombia to Tiahuanaco in Bolivia around Lake Titicaca.
    All the giant statues on Easter Island have long ears, and some islanders still practiced ear elongation at the time the first Europeans arrived. The custom was also practiced in the Marquesas Islands in Polynesia, and in Peru; the Incas said they had inherited the custom from their divine ancestors.
    John Macmillan Brown, who spent five months on Easter Island in 1923, believed that the stone giants of Easter Island were closely related to those of South America and that the differences were due to stylistic and artistic variations. He thought that the inspiration for the Marquesan statues probably came from the tropical regions of Colombia, while those of Easter Island are more akin to the art of Tiahuanaco.
    But, as said, there are notable differences, and the question of who might have inspired whom is unsettled. Sir Clements Markham and Argentine ethnologist José Imbelloni thought that Easter Island could have inspired the pre-Inca culture; however, when proof was found in 1978 that some of the Easter Island statues once had inlaid eyes, it came as a shock to most mainstream researchers, who had opposed the idea on the grounds that this was not a Polynesian custom. Inlaid eyes were a common feature of many of the oldest images of the Middle East, and many prehistoric American stone statues also had inlaid eyes.
A pyramidal platform on top of the Huaca Pucllana pyramid in the Miraflores just south of Lima in Peru, just north of Pachacamac
In addition to the statues, Easter Island’s platforms are usually compared to the marae of Polynesia, though none of the latter are as impressive as the island’s best platforms. Thor Heyerdahl claimed that Easter Island’s platforms resembled the huaca platforms found in the Andean region, while the marvelous stonework at Ahu Vinapú near the west end of Easter Island is reminiscent of the finest pre-Inca masonry in Peru.
    Heyerdahl’s expedition to Easter Island in the 1950s uncovered a number of unusual statues which he believed strengthened the South American connection. A unique discovery at Rano Raraku toward the east end of the island was the kneeling statue Tukuturi, which was almost completely buried. With a total height of 12-feet, the figure kneels with its hands on its knees and its buttocks resting on its heels. Its round, upturned face has short ears and a goatee beard. Another complete but badly eroded kneeling statue has been found inside the crater.
Left: A kneeling statue in Easter Island; Right: A kneeling statue at Tiahuanaco, they are very similar and unlike all the other statues found in Polynesia

Heyerdahl compares Tukuturi to the smaller kneeling stone statues that were typical of Tiahuanaco. Conventional researchers compare it to a small squatting stone statue from Tahiti; however, that stone statue is sitting, not kneeling, and its arms are resting on chair arms, not the body. In the sunken temple plaza at Vinapu, on Easter Island, Heyerdahl’s team found a rectangular block of red scoria, representing a body with its arms resting on the stomach and stunted legs. A deep hole had been cut into the chest and the head was broken and missing, but when set up the image fragment still stood 11.5 feet tall. He concluded that the cross section of the pillar-like figure has the rounded, rectangular form so characteristic of the pre-Inca stone giants of the Tiahuanaco area.
    The Easter Islanders used to make an incredible variety of curious lava sculptures (moai maea), and wooden figures (moai toromiro), including moai kavakava or ‘statues of ribs’, and weird monsters and creatures, showing unbridled imagination and creativity. Petroglyphs on the island also display a wide range of imaginative motifs. They include bizarre human masks and eye motifs, birds and birdmen, turtles, fish, whales, spiders, lizards, monsters, boats, and strange symbols.
    Heyerdahl claims that this different artistry stands in sharp contrast with the rest of Polynesia, and archaeologist Henri Lavachery, who spent six months on Easter Island in 1934, drew comparisons with the imagination and variety displayed by the pottery motifs of the early Mochica art in Peru, dating from the first few centuries AD.
    In addition to statues, there is also the Rapanui language of Easter Island, which is generally claimed by mainstream linguists to be derived entirely from Polynesian. However, in 1770 the Spanish visitors compiled a vocabulary which included words clearly of Polynesian origin along with others which were clearly not, and the numerals from 1 to 10 were totally different. When Captain Cook visited the island four years later, he had a Tahitian with him who could converse with the islanders to a limited extent; a list of 17 Polynesian words was compiled, and also correct proto-Polynesian words for 1 to 10.
    Linguists Robert Langdon and Darrell Tryon have argued that at the time of contact, Easter Island’s language was made up of three elements: one of west Polynesian origin, one from east Polynesia, and a third of unidentified origin, probably from the east (South America). However, other more mainstream researchers hold that there is no satisfactory evidence for the existence of a pre-Polynesian language or second wave of Polynesian immigrants, and that the Rapanui language is a member of the eastern Polynesian subgroup.
The point of all of this is to show, first, that the idea that all of the South Pacific was settled by people from the west, i.e., Indonesians, Taiwanese, Chinese, etc., is neither a proven issue, nor one that is widely adhered to outside mainstream anthropology and similar sciences. Since the Lamanite descendants, now known as the indigenous peoples of North, Central and South America, were incapable of such fetes when first discovered by Cook and other Europeans in the 17th through the 19th centuries, is the basis of their inability to have constructed ships capable of en masse migration, does not mean that an earlier culture or civilization lacked that ability. And as a result of the knowledge of the Book of Mormon, it is easy to see how this disparity in capability ensued.
    Obviously, after the Nephites were annihilated, and after the debilitating civil war that lasted for a great length of time (after 36 years it was still raging violently across the land), it is easy to see how such abilities, if they ever were known by the Lamanites, were lost and never revived.
Thus, when Columbus arrived, as well as the explorers of the early 16th century, and later Magellan, Balboa, Cortez, Pizarro, or Cook, the natives they encountered lacked any such ability as to build ships that would sail the deep oceans carrying extensive passengers, baggage and supplies. In fact, while some natives by Cook’s time possessed remarkably sea-worthy long canoes, Hōkūle‘a, outriggers and sixty-foot multihull vessels, none possessed deep-ocean sailing vessels capable of the fetes the Europeans understood and accomplished. Thus, what existed in the 17th century among the indigenous people of the Pacific Islands, irrespective of their origin, has no bearing on what was capable among Lehi’s children when they arrived in the Land of Promise two thousand years earlier.
    In addition, because it has never been considered by anthropologists, archaeologists, and similar sciences that the early man encountered in the Pacific could have accomplish such sailing fetes, the only way these professionals believed the Western Hemisphere could have been occupied was via a land bridge from Siberia to Alaska.
    Both of these ideas are neither sound or accurate. The Book of Mormon tells us that, and testifies of the fact that Lehi came, and others the Lord has led elsewhere is indeed a fact!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Connecting the Dots in South America – Part III

Continued from the previous post about the connection with South America and the islands of the Pacific.
    In the last post we outlined several connective factors between Easter Island and Polynesia with that of Andean Peru. In addition, a further argument for a strong South American influence is the complete absence of the South American style pressure-flaking technique on stone tools throughout Polynesia (involving ‘pushing’ flakes off a core as opposed to striking them), and the total absence of South American metalwork on Easter Island.
The Statues of Easter Island present a riddle of engineering that has not stopped archaeologists from debating how the giant carved stones were carved without metal tools and transported around the island

It should also be pointed out that no one has yet demonstrated how nearly 1,000 monolithic statues, averaging 13 feet tall and weighing 14 tons of tough basalt blocks could have been cut without metal tools. After all, basalt forms when lava reaches the Earth's surface at a volcano, with the lava between 2012º and 2282º F. when it gets to the surface. It then cools quickly, within a few days or a couple weeks, forming solid rock called basalt, a rock much harder than granite. Rano Raraku is a volcanic crater formed located on the lower slopes of Terevaka on Easter Island and was a quarry for about 500 years until the early eighteenth century, and supplied the stone from which about 95% of the island's known monolithic sculptures (moai) were carved, of which 397 statues still remain.
Top: Rano Raraku, the mount where 95% of the Easter Island statues were carved from the interior wall of the crater; Bottom: An incomplete statue in the Easter Island quarry of basalt rock

The incomplete statues in the quarry are remarkable both for their number, for the inaccessibility of some that were high on the outside crater wall and for the size of the largest, at 71 feet in height, almost twice that of any moai ever completed and weighing an estimated 270 tonnes, many times the weight of any transported. Some of these incomplete statues seem to have been abandoned after the carvers encountered inclusions of very hard rock in the material.
    In addition, it should be noted that there are two very important factors:
1. During the last century B.C., during the time of Hagoth’s shipbuilding (Alma 63:5), it was noted by Mormon that besides several ships sailing north from the Narrow Neck area, at least one sailed to an unknown destination. As he stated: “And it came to pass that one other ship also did sail forth; and whither she did go we know not” (Alma 63:8);
2. In addition, since ships sailed northward “the land which was northward” (Alma 63:4), and that at least one other ship sailed northward and: “they were never heard of more” (Alma 63:8). Assuming some of these ships found their way northward beyond the Land of Promise, and reached Central and Mesoamerica, it is entirely possible that later some brave, adventurous Nephites and Lamanites sailed down to Polynesia, since archaeological evidence suggests that these settled in northern and eastern Polynesia (North gene pool), while those who sailed from Peru westward and into the southern and western Polynesia (South gene pool).
    It should also be noted that
• In speaking to the Hawaiians at Laie, Elder Matthew Cowley said to them: “Brothers and sisters, you are God’s children—you are Israel. You have in your veins the blood of Nephi” (Cowley, Matthew. Matthew Cowley—Speaks. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1954).
• “The Polynesian Saints are characterized by a tremendous faith. Why do they have this great faith? It is because these people are of the blood of Israel. They are heirs to the promises of the Book of Mormon. God is now awakening them to their great destiny. As Latter-day Saints we have always believed that the Polynesians are descendants of Lehi and blood relatives of the American Indians, despite the contrary theories of other men” (Mark E. Petersen, “New Evidence for the Book of Mormon,” Improvement Era, June 1962, Vol.65, pp456–59; also in Conference Report,April 1962, pp111–115).
• Elder Hugh B. Brown, in dedicating the laying of the New Zealand Temple cornerstone, said, “We thank Thee, O God, for revealing to us the Book of Mormon, the story of the ancient inhabitants of America. We thank Thee that from among those inhabitants, the ancestors of these whose heads are bowed before Thee here, came from the western shores of America into the South Seas pursuant to Thy plan and now their descendants humbly raise their voices in grateful acknowledgement of Thy kindness…[these] faithful Maoris who came here in early days, descendants of Father Lehi, may be remembered by their descendants and saved through the ordinances that will, in this House, be performed in their behalf” (Paul R. Cheesman and Millie Foster Cheesman, Early America and the Polynesians, Promised Lands Publication, Inc., Provo, Utah, 1975).
• In dedicating the New Zealand Temple, President David O. McKay said in his open sentence: “We express gratitude that to these fertile islands thou didst guide descendants of Father Lehi and hast enabled them to prosper” (David O. McKay, “Dedicatory Prayer Delivered by Pres. McKay at New Zealand Temple,” Church News, 10 May 1958, pp2,6.
• In a talk to the Samoans in 1976, President Spencer W. Kimball said: “In the sixty-third chapter of Alma [He then read the account of Hagoth.] And so it seems to me rather clear that your ancestors moved northward and crossed a part of the South Pacific. You did not bring your records with you, but you brought much food and provisions. And so we have a great congregation of people in the South seas who came from the Nephites, and who came from the land southward and went to the land northward, which could have been Hawaii. And then the further settlement could have been a move southward again to all of these islands and even to New Zealand. The Lord knows what he is doing when he sends his people from one place to another” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Official Report of the Samoa Area Conference Held in Pago Pago and Apia, Samoa, February 15-18, 1976).
• Joseph Fielding Smith said, and was quoted by Spencer W. Kimball, “I would like to say to you brethren and sisters from New Zealand, you are some of Hagoth’s people, and there is No Perhaps about it!” He didn’t want any arguments about it. That was definite. So you are of Israel. You have been scattered. Now you are being gathered” (Ibid).
And while numerous other examples could be given, we will use just one more: “Dr. Paul Cheesman notes in Early America and the Polynesians that Bruce G. Pitt, a graduate student, “viewed a portion of microfilm #34 in the BYU library” which contained the patriarchal blessings given to these people in regard to the lineage declared in the blessings. The following information was found: “Of 321 total Polynesian lineages viewed, 155 were declared to be of Manasseh, 2 of Manasseh and Ephraim, 68 of Joseph, 62 of Israel, 4 of Jacob, 28 of Ephraim, 1 of Lehi and 1 of Japeth…Another [graduate] researcher, Max Hirschi, recorded that out of 35 patriarchal blessings given to Polynesians, thirteen were from the tribe of Ephraim, fourteen were told they were from Manasseh, and the other eight were of the tribe of Joseph” (Paul R. Cheesman and Millie Foster Cheesman, Early America and the Polynesians, Promised Lands Publication, Inc., Provo, Utah, 1975).
    Now, since Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh (Alma 10:3) and Ishmael was a descendant of Ephraim (Journal of Discourses 23:184), the common lineage of these two descendants of Joseph who was sold into Egypt and the Polynesian Saints gives support to the theory that the Polynesians came from the American Nephites.
    These quotes were taken from a BYU Religious Education, Religious Studies Center article “Hagoth and the Polynesians,” by Robert E. Parsons in 1992. It also might be noted that Parsons’ closing comment on this issue: “It might be of interest to you to know that when Elder Spencer W. Kimball set me apart for my mission to New Zealand in 1946, he said: “We bless you with power and the ‘gift of tongues’ to learn the language of the Maoris…We set you apart among the Children of Lehi to do good.”
(See the next post, “Connecting the Dots in South America – Part IV,” for a better understanding of how the early cultures of Andean Peru relate to the various islands of the South Pacific)

Friday, September 28, 2018

Connecting the Dots in South America – Part II

Continued from the previous post about the connection with South America and the islands of the Pacific.
    In the last post, it was discussed how the archaeologist and explorer, Thor Heyerdahl, discovered the connection between the Easter Island people and South America. However, most researchers dismissed Heyerdahl’s theory of a South American source for Easter Island’s culture, mainly since it countered an age-old belief in the opposite, arguing that not a single South American artifact had ever been found in 50 years of intensive archaeology in Polynesia, and that there was no trace of a sudden influx of new cultural influences at any point in Easter Island’s history. They describe his theory as “a tottering edifice precariously based on preconceptions, extreme subjectivity, distortions and very little hard evidence” (Paul Bahn and John Flenley, Easter Island, Earth Island, Thames and Hudson, London, 1992, p68).
    However, even these hardened critics concede that there must have been at least sporadic contacts between Polynesians and South America, though they think it was probably, in maintaining the old paradigm, the Polynesians who went to South America rather than the other way round.
The Sweet Potato has been found all over Polynesia, though it originated anciently in the Peruvian and Ecuadorian lands

However, that does not explain the appearance of the Sweet Potato throughout Polynesia. In fact, by analyzing the DNA of 1,245 sweet potato varieties (sets of marker chloroplast and nuclear microsatellites) with modern and herbarium samples from Asia and the Americas, researchers have found genetic proof that the root vegetable made it all the way to Polynesia from the Andes (specifically Peru and Ecuador—nearly 400 years before the Spanish conquest of South America (Caroline Roullier, et al, “Historical collections reveal patterns of diffusion of sweet potato in Oceania,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol.110, No.6, February 5, 2013, pp2205-2210). In addition, the lexical similarity between terms for sweet potato in Polynesian languages (“kuumala” and its derivatives) and the terms for this plant (“kumara,” “cumar,” or “cumal”) found among Quechua speakers of northwestern South America supports the view that humans introduced sweet potato from South America into Polynesia (Ibid).
    Die-hard anthropologists who promote so fervently a west to east migration of Polynesia, have been heavily engaged in a controversial debate. Begun because anthropologist and similar scientists, with their pre-conceived viewpoint of west to east development of Polynesia and could not accept that the Sweet Potato was brought by South Americans to Polynesia. In trying to prove their theory, they were hindered in their evaluative proof seeking because modern sweet potatoes are a genetic disorder—a hybrid of different cultivars that Europeans helped spread around the globe—so it was difficult to decipher their origins from their DNA. However, Rouiller and her team got around this problem by turning to dried sweet potato remains kept in a London museum. Capt. James Cook's crew picked up the vegetables in Polynesia back in 1769, before all this interbreeding began. Examining the genetic blueprint of Cook's sweet potatoes allowed Rouiller to trace the root's evolution all the way back to Ecuador and Peru.
    A similar pattern of the gourd has also been found. Thus, such foods would be considered “biofacts” in archaeology, which is a plant, seed or remains of either, which show the foods grown by prehistoric people (John Algeo and Adele Algeo, American Speech, Vol.63, No.4, Duke University Press, 988, pp345-352).
The quipu was a method used by the Incas and other ancient Andean cultures to keep records and communicate information

It might also be noted that the ancient Peruvian quipu, the system of knotted cords, is used on many island in Polynesia and Melanesia, into Indonesia and through China. Thus there seems little doubt that, contrary to what anthropologists and such sciences avidly claim, people from South America either completely, or in part, immigrated to and founded the island populations of Polynesia.
    In addition, in a 2014 study published in Current Biology, that analyzed the genomes of 27 modern Rapanui. Like most people who live on the island today, they have Polynesian, European, and Native American ancestry—with about 8% of their DNA inherited from Native American ancestors, appearing in their genomes in short bursts rather than long stretches. Because the contribution of each group’s DNA becomes more fragmented over time, that’s a strong signal of a long-ago meeting between different populations.
    Based on the length of the Native American DNA sequences, the researchers concluded that the Rapanui’s Polynesian and Native American ancestors must have met at least 19 generations ago, between 1280 AD and 1495 AD—long before Europeans arrived on the island in 1722 AD, and at least 36 years before the Spanish arrived in South America (J. Victor Moreno-Mayar, et al., “Genome-wide Ancestry Patterns in Rapanu9 suggest Pre-European Admixture with Native Americans,” Current Biology, Vol.24, Iss.21, November 2014, pp2518-2525).
Easter Islander writing called Rongorongo that has never been deciphered

In addition, it was found that the Napa Nui, or Easter islanders, had their own writing system, known as Rongorongo, which we have written about extensively in this blog. The scientific orthodox view is that either the islanders invented it after the arrival of the Europeans, or that they brought it with them from another Polynesian island, even though no Polynesian tribe is known to have possessed the art of writing. Thor Heyerdahl points out that a variety of writing systems were in use in pre-Columbian America. It should also be noted, as we have reported before, that when initially questioned about the rongorongo boards on the island, the indigenous Rapa Nui claimed they writing was brought from the east (South America) when their forefathers first settled on the island.
    Yet despite all that Thor Heyerdahl found regarding the Rapa Nui and the Polynesians, there is no question that the U.S. academic world, anthropologists, archaeologists and similar sciences joined in a cabal, whether knowingly or unknowingly, to dismiss Thor Heyerdahl’s findings and claims, banding together to ignore him regardless of what he turned up. They ridiculed his excavations, his research and his exciting evidences with vitriolic responses for years, accused him of being a racial supremacist (on the basis that a man-god Viracocha was reputed to have had pale skin) patronized him as a “swashbuckler” because he actually got out from behind a desk and tested his theories in the field, and classified him as “a nuisance, an obstruction and a pest.”
    As earlier mentioned, some plants on Easter Island clearly came from South America, such as the islanders’ staple food the sweet potato, and also the root vegetable manioc and the bottle gourd. Typically, mainstream researchers prefer to believe that the Polynesians made contact with the South American mainland and returned with the sweet potato, rather than South Americans sailing to Easter Island and bringing the sweet potato and other plants with them.
    These skeptics also point out that the island had no maize, beans, or squash—which are staple resources in South America. Two species of freshwater plants, found in Easter Island’s crater lakes but nowhere else in the Pacific, and both useful to man, come from South America. One of them was the totora reed, which dominated the banks of South America’s Lake Titicaca and was cultivated in vast irrigated fields in the desert valleys on the coast below; it was used for making mats, houses, and boats.
    The other was known to the islanders as tavari, and was used as a medicinal plant. Like the totora, it grew in Lake Titicaca. The most useful wild tree on Easter Island was the toromiro tree, which was used for carving. It is so close to its continental Chilean relative that it could be considered the same species; no other closely related species existed in Polynesia.
    Pollen analysis shows that totora has been present on Easter Island for thousands of years, contradicting native traditions that it was brought by the Polynesian Hotu Matua. Mainstream writers suggest that seeds could have been transported to the island by the wind, ocean, or on birds’ feet. Another possibility is that they were brought by an earlier ‘Hotu Matua’.
LtoR: Tapa mallet; bell-shaped pounder; kava-drinking bowl
On the other hand Heyerdahl pointed out that the cultural elements usually considered indicative of Polynesian culture are the grooved wooden mallet for making bark cloth (tapa), the bell-shaped pounder for making poi (food paste made from the taro root), and the wooden bowl for the kava-drinking ceremonies, but that none of them had found their way to aboriginal Easter Island.
    Most researchers see the total absence of woven textiles and pottery on Easter Island as damning evidence against it having had any significant links with Peru, since these are the two most characteristic and abundant products of Peruvian culture; obviously, since prehistoric pottery has been found in the Marquesas, double standards are at play here. Yet, that does not stop many researchers believing that Easter Island was originally settled from the west.
(See the next post, “Connecting the Dots in South America – Part III,” for a better understanding of how the early cultures of Andean Peru relate to the various islands of the South Pacific)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Connecting the Dots in South America – Part I

As my certainty increases, my doubt decreases; conversely, as my doubt increases, my certainty decreases. The requirement that knowledge is to be based in complete, or perfect certainty, amounts to requiring a complete absence of doubt”           --René Descartes

One should keep in mind that nobody, absolutely nobody has the right to claim to know the whole truth about the past; for there are simply too many elements of uncertainty involved, which leads to some doubt regarding most matters, ideas, philosophies and viewpoints.
For someone to have eliminated all ability for their conviction to be altered, can only consider that his or her knowledge is absolute perfection, where no additional information can possibly be obtained or incorporated, that would make any difference whatsoever to the outcome of the issue, which Descartes taught marked an epistemological innovation.
    As an example of theorists with absolute ideas on the location of the Land of Promise:
• “There is of course, only one area in the USA that meets these and other criteria: Florida” (Tylor Livingston, FAIR Mormon, “Land of Promise in the Book of Mormon”);
• “The Book of Mormon occurred in the heartland of America, and North America is the Promised Land” (David W. Allan, “Where does the Book of Mormon Really Take Place and Does it Matter,” It’s About Time, Legends Library, New York, 2014)
• John L. Sorenson, after describing Mesoamerica, states: “There are no contradictions” between his map and the Book of Mormon descriptions, except in when he adds a little later about Mexico and Guatemala, “matchup decisively with the requirements for the Book of Mormon territory, except perhaps for one major anomaly, and that is regarding the Land of Promise running north and south and his Mesoamerica runs east and west. After a lengthy explanation regarding Mormon meaning east-west when he said north-south, he states of his Mesoameirca is accurate and that “no other map correlation will do” because others have “fatal flaws” (Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1984, pp37-38,47)
• Restricting the Land of Promise to North America and more specifically the Great Lakes area, Phyllis Carol Olive states emphatically, “Thus, the term ‘Lamanite,’ in the more general sense, describes only the North American Indians who were destined to roam the land as nomads after the destruction at Cumorah” (Phyllis Carol Olive, The lost Lands of the Book of Mormon, Bonneville Books, Springville, UT, 1998, p270)
Ralph Olsen’s claimed route for Lehi and his party reaching the Land of Promise (Malay)

• Despite Jacob’s claim of being on an island, Ralph A. Olsen states of his Malay theory: “And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward. (Alma 22:32) This clearly indicates a narrow peninsula extending southward into the sea. (Ralph Austin Olsen, A More Promising Land of Promise, Vivid Volumes, Logan, UT, 2006, p88).
• Embaye Melekin states of his African theory of the Book of Mormon location: “beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Book of Mormon is an African book and about Africans” (Embaye Melekin, The African Bible, Author House, Bloomington IN, 2011)
    In each of the six varying theories above, the establishers of those theories all speak with finality, expressing that their opinions are above reproach and not subject to divergent ideas or input. Many more examples could be added. Each of these and numerous others claim they began their theories based on pre-determined views. As an example, M. Wells Jakeman, who taught Book of Mormon origins began in Mesoamerica, came to BYU as head of the archaeology department with a previous history of Mayan beliefs, having written The Origins and History of the Mayas (1945) and numerous other papers before arriving at BYU in 1946 to head up a newly created department. Phyllis Carol Olive tells us that her theory began with a firm fixed belief that the hill Cumorah in New York was the one mentioned in the scriptural record. Olsen claims his theory was based on a short trip for Lehi and the existence of all the animals of the Book of Mormon being only in Malay.
    As William G. Dever, an American archaeologist, specializing in the history of Israel and the Near East in Biblical times, correctly posits that “in history-writing of any kind, the choice of method is fundamental, because to a large degree it determines the outcome of the inquiry. Where you arrive depends not only upon where you think you are going, but also upon how you decide to get there.” (William G. Dever, Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005, p8).
    It might be added, that it depends also upon where you start, as well. The point is, as most historians have written one way or another, that a researcher’s methods can easily determine the outcome of his research.
    Consequently, whether or not Descartes teachings and his described state is achievable is not for this blog, but rests entirely in the philosophical realm. For the point of this article, there are issues constantly being discovered, proven and others disproven that lend an ever-increasing amount of knowledge to infiltrate one’s thinking. There can be no question that people’s ideas, opinions, and theories are the result of their pre-determined beliefs and viewpoints.
Mainstream thinkers claim that the South Pacific island groups, Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia, were all settled from a westward movement toward the east across the Pacific Ocean

An example of this we can take a look at the anthropologists and scientists who, from the very beginning of Polynesian origins have stated without equivocation, that the various Polynesian groups—including Samoans, Tongans, Niueans, Cook Islanders, Tahitians, Hawaiians, Marquesans and Māori, who they claim are genetically linked to indigenous peoples of parts of Maritime Southeast Asia, meaning Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Timor Leste, including those of Taiwanese aborigines, meaning Taiwanese, Formosan, Austronesian and the high mountain Gaoshan people—originated from the west.
    Albeit that this group is dominated and represented by a small, zealous group, who will not permit any points of view other than their own, they have not only arbitrarily linked into one culture all of Polynesia, but of all these separate cultures “from whence all came.” This, even though some of these groups, especially the most eastern ones, have ancient traditions that they came from the east, that is, South America.
    It has been obvious over the years, from both personal contact and written opinions, papers and books, that any discussion, scientific or otherwise, with those who follow this western origin point of view will not even consider any other viewpoint than their opinion that Polynesia was inhabited from the western region of the South Pacific.
    However, there have been for some time now, at least since 1947, and for some time earlier, a different point of view, which was so forcibly demonstrated and proven by Thor Heyerdahl in 1947 with his first voyage, that of the Kon-Tiki balsa raft, which he built to show how winds and currents from the east (South America) flowed directly westward into Polynesia. In fact, toward the end of the following decade, Heyerdahl personally led archaeological expeditions to Easter Island in 1955-56 and 1986-88, where he found and demonstrated that Easter Island culture did not originate from the west but that it was settled from the east, from South America, as their various verbal history and legends claimed. Heyerdahl also held that the sweet potato, bottle gourd, and totora reed were introduced to the island from South America, while the chicken, banana, and sugar cane, for example, were introduced from Polynesia.
Ocean Currents move out from the mainland beyond the Humboldt and swing out and down into Polynesia

He thought that a pre-Inca society had reached Easter Island from Peru, by making use of the prevailing westerly trade winds. In 1947 he demonstrated that such voyages were feasible when he sailed his balsa raft Kon-Tiki from South America to Raroia Atoll, in Polynesia’s Tuamotu archipelago.
    Heyerdahl originally proposed that Easter Island was initially settled by South Americans around 400 AD, and that the Polynesians arrived centuries later, massacring most of Amerindian population. However, he later modified his opinion: he felt that the Polynesians had largely abandoned their own distinct faith and culture after arriving on Easter Island, and concluded that they had probably been brought there against their will by people from South America.
    During the late 14th century the Incas rose to power in Peru, bringing about considerable unrest and the expulsion of many earlier settlers. Heyerdahl speculated that some of these Peruvians sailed west and brought Polynesians to Easter Island, either through force or cunning. In his view, history was repeating itself when, in 1862, Peruvian slave raiders sailed to Easter Island and put an end to the aboriginal culture.
(See the next post, “Connecting the Dots in South America – Part II,” for a better understanding of how the early cultures of Andean Peru relate to the various islands of the South Pacific)

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Correcting a Critic’s Comments and Blog – Part IV

Continuing with Jared Methrandir’s comments referring us to his website when commenting on one of our articles back in 2013.
    While discussing this issue in the previous article, while the Jaredites and Nephites occupied a portion of this Land of Promise, the New Jerusalem (a holy city) would be built on this land (it doesn’t say the same portion that the Jaredites and Nephites occupied), and that this overall land (the entire Land of Promise) would be a land of liberty.
    While many Americans, people of the United States, consider the U.S. superior to any other country in the Western Hemisphere, and to-date the economy, freedoms, and status certainly warrant that thought, it does not mean that the Land of Promise is just in the U.S. any more than the state of Israel now or Israel in the past, is just in Jerusalem. The Lord preserved this entire Western Hemisphere from foreign involvement and foreign intrigue by the world’s countries until he was ready to have it settled.
First he brought the Jaredites, then the Nephites, Lamanites, and Mulekites. Who else he might have brought before the Spanish conquerors and then the Europeans, is not known. But since there is absolutely no mention of any others in the entire scriptural record, it just might be that none others came. On the other hand, we certainly have evidence that others were here. While it is true that this land would have been heavily settled by antediluvians, those before the Flood, and their record to some extent survived in the ground, we really have no idea who else and when might have been here.
    Blog Comment: “In fact one Mormon blog I've looked at called the NephiCode makes a point of distinguishing between the House of Lehi and their promises/destiny, and the Diaspora of either Kingdom.”
    Response: Evidently you feel the Lord would not act independently from the Kingdom of Judah and/or the Kingdom of Israel. Limiting the Lord’s involvement in Earthly matters is an interesting concept—I wonder where it came from. The fact of the matter is that “it is impossible to know in how many different directions the people went—the number of dispersions and migrations undoubtedly were many.” In fact, they were scattered through the countries (Ezekiel 6:8), they were scattered among nations they had not known (Zechariah 7:14), led away into all nations (Luke 21:24), and all countries (Ezekiel 36:24), scattered to the east and the west, to the north and the south (Isaiah 43:1, 5-6). “Wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered among all nations…and the Jews shall be scattered by other nations. For behold, the Lord God has led away from time to time from the house of Israel, according to his will and pleasure” (2 Nephi 10:15-16).
    Blog Comment: ”So the genetic affinity Native Americans have to East Asia, in both their Y-Chormosone and Mithocondrial DNA Haplogroups is a problem for the Book of Mormon.
    Response: As pointed out in the previous post on this subject: “In an article in Science, by Scott Armstrong Elias (2014) he points out that “Genetic evidence shows there is no direct ancestral link between the people of ancient East Asia and modern Native Americans.” And in another article in Nature about the “Dual ancestry of Native Americans,” by Maanasa Raghavan, et al, it states that “Modern-day western Eurasians are genetically closely related to modern-day Native Americas, with no close affinity to east Asians.”
This is not a problem for the Book of Mormon, but for those who think they know about DNA and write about something that is continually changing as wider and wider samples are being used with more accurate and truthful results.
    While the theory that the Americas were populated by humans crossing from Siberia to Alaska across a land bridge was first proposed as far back as 1590, and has been generally accepted since the 1930s, the idea of DNA and a Land Bridge have no connection. That is, showing a DNA connection would not confirm they arrived in America via a Land Bridge.
    Nor is it even proven that people came over a land bridge in the first place. Whether they did or did not, it is still a highly controversial issue and for everyone who thinks they did, there are those who think they did not. In fact, according to Scott Armstrong Elias, he further argues that “Based on archaeological evidence, humans did not survive the last ice age’s peak in northeastern Siberia, and yet there is no evidence they had reached Alaska or the rest of the New World either. While there is evidence to suggest northeast Siberia was inhabited during a warm period about 30,000 years ago before the last ice age peaked, after this the archaeological record goes silent, and only returns 15,000 years ago, after the last ice age ended.” This 15,000-year gap, not related to East Asians, is a point still being debated.
    Maanasa Raghavan, further states: “The origins of the First Americans remain contentious.” In checking what is considered the “oldest anatomically modern human genome reported to date,” the 31-member team found that the MA-1 mitochondrial genome belongs to haplogroup U, which has also been found at high frequency among Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers, and the Y chromosome of MA-1 to modern-day Western Eurasians and near the root of most Native American lineages. Further it was “estimated that 14% to 38% of Native American ancestry may originate through gene flow from this ancient population,” explaining that “Gene flow from the MA-1 lineage into Native American ancestors could explain why several crania from the First Americans have been reported as bearing morphological characteristics that do not resemble those of east Asians.” They conclude that “western Eurasian genetic signatures in modern-day Native Americans derive not only from post-Columbian admixture, as commonly thought, but also from a mixed ancestry of the First Americans.”
    Blog Comment: “But [it is not a problem] for me since…I believe they traveled across Asia, intermingled with East Asian population, and became ancestral to people groups in East Asia, before some of them came to the Americas and mingled with people already here. I talk about my theories on Israelite DNA.”
Response: Perhaps you should not talk about your theories, but find out what the DNA experts are saying about this matter. Opinions are counter-productive to scholarly work since they work to skew the results during the process.
     Blog Comment: “Joseph Smith's intent was definitely entirely about making special the land he lived in.”
    Response: Clearly, you have no idea of the nature and thinking of Joseph Smith. He placed the existence of the Nephites from the central area of Chile to the northern U.S. area, encompassing much of the entire Western Hemisphere, or approximately one-third of the world. At no time did he try to use the Nephite storyline as proof of a superiority of the United States. It is neither scholarly nor beneficial to try and put words in other people’s mouths, especially those of an earlier age.
    It is always amazing how little people know that try to criticize the Church, the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith. It is as though knowledge is unimportant—just opinions are all that is necessary!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Correcting a Critic’s Comments and Blog – Part III

Continuing with Jared Methrandir’s comments referring us to his website when commenting on one of our articles back in 2013.
    Blog Comment: “because Joseph Smith imagined all this [sea travel] before the bearing strait hypothesis became the standard.” (cont)
    Response (cont): Though this idea has been bounced around through Anthropologists and other scientists for at least mid to late 1700s (before Joseph Smith’s time), it is by no means an accepted fact. According to David J. Meltzer, a paleoanthropologist and archaeologist at Southern Methodist University, the ice-free corridor though the Canadian cordillera couldn’t have supported human migration until about 12,600 years ago (10,600 BC), a hundred years after people were already living south of the ice sheets, based on archaeological sites showing evidence of human living uncovered across North and South America, and as far south as Chile” (Mikkel W. Pedersen, et al. (17 contributors in all), “Postglacial viability and colonization in North America’s ice-free corridor,” Journal Nature, Vol.537, 2016. pp45-49).
The greyed area and dotted line indicates the size and scope of the so-called Beringia or Land Bridge between Russia and Alaska

Secondly, it is not the bearing strait, but the Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea, and the Bering Strait, along with the Beringia Land Bridge (also known as the central part of Beringia). For some time after Acosta, it was thought that the early Paleoamericans were descended from people who crossed over from Asia across de Costa’s land bridge to present-day Alaska and then drifted down the continent in a single long migration.
    Third, in an article in Science, by Scott Armstrong Elias (2014) he points out that “Genetic evidence shows there is no direct ancestral link between the people of ancient East Asia and modern Native Americans.” He goes on to write extensively about this fact. In another article in Nature about the “Dual ancestry of Native Americans,” by Maanasa Raghavan, et al (31 contributors in all), it states that “Modern-day western Eurasians are genetically closely related to modern-day Native Americas, with no close affinity to east Asians.”
    Whether Joseph Smith knew this or not is unknown, however, it was certainly one of the theories that had been discussed “From the minute Europeans arrived in North America, they began speculating on the origins of the continent’s Native American inhabitants.” It was not an unknown subject where Joseph grew up.
    Blog Comment: “Many Mormons now insist the Book of Mormon does leave room for other populations, this mostly correlates to if they hold a Limited Geography interpretation rather than a Hemispheric one.”
    Response: By “many Mormons,” this is related to those who accept Mesoamerica as the landing site of Lehi—and it is by no means a large percentage of LDS people. For the many who do not, this is not correct. On the other hand, after 421 A.D., and up to the coming of the Spanish in 1492 onward, we have no idea who or what may have occurred, landed, arrived at, or been led to, the Western Hemisphere during that thousand years. It is just that during the time of the scriptural record, about 2100 B.C. to about 421 A.D., no other peoples are mentioned, suggested, or intimated to have co-existed with the Jaredites, Nephites, or Lamanites.
    It might be noted that numerous Church Presidents and leaders have mentioned time and again that the Western Hemisphere is the land of Zion in various Conference talks and written messages. A Limited Geography interpretation would not fit into this scenario, though the idea that the actual Land of Promise discussed and outlined in the Book of Mormon is not the entire area of the dedication of the Western Hemisphere as the land of Zion.
    Blog Comment: “If a limited Geography model were the correct interpretation only the Heartland Model would be plausible, because Joseph Smith's intent was definitely entirely about making special the land he lived in, drawing on prior speculation about the builders of the Missipian Mound Builders.”
    Response: This is far from the truth. Joseph Smith’s comments about where the Land of Promise took place cover a much wider range of areas, from 30º South Latitude in Chile, to the finding of Zelph in the northcentral United States.
Mounds have been found all over the eastern states, but none were ever built in Palestine, Mesopotamia, or the Middle East where the Hebrews were located

As for a setting among the Mysterious Mound-Builders of North America (Mississippian Culture), the idea coincides best with the literary setting identified by mainstream American History and Literature specialists (Roger G. Kennedy, Hidden Cities – The Discovery and Loss of Ancient North American Civilization), and nothing to do with Joseph Smith.
    In a paper read at the Nineteenth Annual Symposium on the Archaeology of the Scriptures, held at Brigham Young University on October 18, 1969, entitled “Joseph Smith and the Prehistoric Mound-Builders of Eastern North America,” by John H. Wittorf, editor, Biochemical Indexing Department, Chemical Abstracts Service, and former president of the SEHA Campus Chapter, the following statement is attributed to him: “The legend of the Mound Builders achieved its apotheosis when a major religious creed was founded upon it by Joseph Smith and made lasting by his successor Brigham Young.” The paper also went on to state: “The Book of Mormon itself, interestingly enough, does not mention the term “mound” at all and refers only twice to “heaps of earth” having been dug up, once in connection with the fortification of cities and the other in connection with mining operations.’  Joseph Smith appears to have regarded the main centers of occupation of the Book of Mormon peoples as being situated in the Middle American area when he editorialized two years before his death in the Times and Seasons, commenting on the then-recent rediscovery of the Maya civilization by John Lloyd Stephens.”
The point is, Joseph Smith himself never said or referred to the Mound-Builders of Mississippi or elsewhere in connection to the Book of Mormon. The author of the blog once again is quoting from information that someone else might have written or said, and attributing it to a different source, in this case, Joseph Smith. While others may think the Book of Mormon was written about the Mound-Builders, it in no way has any connection to those cultures in the United States who built mounds, instead of the rock walls and buildings all around the land Mormon tells us the Nephites built in the days of Moroni and his son, Moronihah, in the last century B.C. (Alma 48:8).
    Blog Comment: “The ancient Nephite Prophets of The Book of Mormon foretell The United States of America, referring to it as a Great Nation appointed to God to do his will.”
    Response: Obviously, the author has never read the Book of Mormon, since the Nephite prophets never mentioned the United States or refer to any country by name. To them, and to any reader, the term Land of Promise is used throughout the scriptural record, and means that land upon which the storyline takes place as well as all that land that was included after the destruction in 3 Nephi, at the time of the Lord’s crucifixion, which changed the whole face of the land. At this time mountains tumbled into valleys, and flat, level ground rose suddenly into mountains, whose height is great.
    In fact, as Moroni stated: “and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land 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. And that it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord.
    Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land. And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come -- after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel. And that a New Jerusalem should be built upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type” (Ether 13:3-6).
(See the next post, “Correcting a Critic’s Comments and Blog – Part III,” regarding erroneous comments made on a blogsite about the Book of Mormon)

Monday, September 24, 2018

Correcting a Critic’s Comments and Blog – Part II

Continuing with Jared Methrandir’s comments referring us to his website when commenting on one of our articles back in 2013.
    Blog Comment: “LDS Mormons debate back and forth, some saying the only things in The Bible Mormons should agree with are what the Book of Mormon or other Mormon Scriptures explicitly endorse.”
    Response: Having been a member of the Church for seventy years, and having been involved in discussions about most things connected with both the LDS religion and sectarian religions, spending two years in the Bible Belt teaching LDS doctrine from the New Testament, in all that time serving in numerous areas of responsibility, a debate about the Bible among LDS members as you describe, has never been witnessed or even heard about. Basically, LDS people accept the Bible as the Word of God. We also know and understand that scribes over the centuries made changes, eliminated some doctrine and emphasized others in their copying of the scriptures—which is an understanding among most Biblical scholars, LDS and otherwise, even Jewish rabbis.
    Blog Comment: “The point remains however, the seed for doubting God's word is planted, and from that all kinds of heretical madness has developed
The LDS Church’s 9th Article of Faith clearly states our belief in all that God has revealed, and all that He will reveal

Response: LDS people do not doubt God’s word. However, your idea of God’s word and and LDS understanding of God’s word might well be at odds from time to time, even if you want to strictly deal with the Old and New Testaments; however, that mostly comes from different interpretations of the plain and simple language of the scriptures, such as the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost not being one individual; or whether infant baptism is correct; or that Heavenly Father is a physical (though resurrected and perfect) being and made us in his own image, etc.
    Blog Comment: “The ancient Nephite Prophets of The Book of Mormon foretell The United States of America, referring to it as a Great Nation appointed to God to do his will.  In other words, American Exceptionalism, Divine Providence and Manifest Destiny, all those ideas Christians should condemn as Patriotic Idolatry but instead fully support, that is all Canonical Scripture for Mormons
    Response: Actually, the Nephite prophets and the LDS Church leaders, have spoken from the beginning about the Land of Promise being North and South America. It is true that some LDS people want to claim that means only the United States, but that is not the Church standing at all. LDS leaders have also spoken of Polynesia as pretty much the same standard. The fact that we are a world-wide Church—“after 166 years in existence as the restored Church of Christ, in 1996, the LDS Church’s membership outside the United States exceeded the membership within the U.S. by the end of February 1996, there were just over 9,438,000 members of the Church, with more than half living outside the U.S.” (Ensign Magazine, Nov 1995, p70).  It might also be understood that in 1850, there were about 30,747 members in the British Isles and only 26,911 in the U.S.
Painting showing the western movement and the concept of Manifest Destiny which permeated through the minds of the U.S. Congress, citizens, and newspaper writers and editors in the mid-1800s

It should also be noted that the concept of American Exceptionalism, Divine Providence and Manifest Destiny are not religious doctrines or beliefs, but was originated by John Louis O’Sullivan, an American columnist and editor who coined the term in an 1845 article in The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, to promote the annexation of Texas and Oregon Country to the U.S., and break for all time the hold that England, France and all of Europe felt they held on the Americas. It’s main theme from O’Sullivan was that “God had destined the U.S. to spread out across the continent of North America.” 
    In fact, the “black-letter international law,” and the “right of discovery, exploration, settlement and continuity” contained in the then current Doctrine of Discovery, seems the basis of O’Sullivan’s thinking, thus there seems little doubt that he used these points to form the Manifest Destiny them leading to the promotion of the Texas and Oregon movements.  It might also be of interest to know that O’Sullivan predicted that there would be two hundred and fifty to three hundred million Americans at the end of 100 years (in 1945 there were 139.9 million in the U.S., up from 17.1 million in 1845 when the theme was introduced).
    The concept of Manifest Destiny was widely held among the people in the U.S. that its settlers were destined to expand across North America, and held three themes:
• The special virtues of the American people and their institutions;
• The mission of the United States to redeem and remake the west in the image of agrarian America;
• An irresistible destiny to accomplish this essential duty.
    All of which “became very popular with many politicians, citizens, and newspapers and was widely used in the debate about expanding into Oregon” (Robert J. Miller, Native America, Discovered and Conquered, Greenwood, 2006,pp119-120)
American Exceptionalism, the belief that America is unique on the global stage because of its certain characteristics that are held to be unique to the United States

On the other hand, American Exceptionalism is a more recent concept and broadly based on a belief that historical facts make the U.S. exceptional in the history of civilization. Again, it is not a religious concept, but one first mentioned by Alexis de Tocqueville, describing America as exceptional in 1831, and the actual term “American Exceptionalism” was first oined by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, making it an “exception to certain elements of Marxist theory.” Seymour Martin Lipset, was a Hazel Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University and a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, defined American Exceptionalism as “liberty, equality (of opportunity and respect), individualism, populism, and laissez-faire economics” (American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword, Norton & Co., New York 1996, p18).
    As for Divine Providence, it has been defined as “The history of the United States displays an uncanny pattern: At moments of crisis, when the odds against success seem overwhelming and disaster looks imminent, fate intervenes to provide deliverance and progress…the most notable leaders of the past four hundred years have identified this good fortune as something else—a reflection of divine providence” (Michael Medved, The American Miracle, Crown Forum, New York, 2016).
    As can be seen, none of these concepts originated with, or are unique to, or part of the LDS Church doctrine or beliefs. The LDS Church does believe that God set up this government through men he raised up to do this very thing, and as almost all of them have stated in their personal writings, Divine Providence was at the heart of this nation, and instrumental in its development. Divine Providence, and the special role in the development and especially in the defense of Christianity and all religions, could hardly be considered “those ideas Christians should condemn as Patriotic Idolatry.”
    Blog Comment: “And Lehi left by sea (as did the Jaredites) in Arabia, because Joseph Smith imagined all this before the bearing strait hypothesis became the standard.”
Response: First of all, it should be noted that as early as 1590, the Spanish missionary Fray José de Acosta produced the first written record to suggest a land bridge connecting Asia to North America. The question of how people migrated to the New World was a topic widely debated among the thinkers and theorists of his time. Acosta rejected many of the theories proposed by his contemporaries. Instead, he believed that hunters from Asia had crossed into North America via a land bridge or narrow strait located far to the north. He thought the land bridge was still in existence during his lifetime (“Bering Land Bridge,” National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Nome, Alaska).
    The problem is, as stated in Science: “While there is general agreement that the Americas were first settled from Asia, the pattern of migration, its timing, and the place(s) of origin in Eurasia of the peoples who migrated to the Americas remain unclear (Ted Goebel et al., The Late Pleistocene Dispersal of Modern Humans in the Americas,” Science, Vol.319, No.5869, 2008, pp1497-1502).
(See the next post, “Correcting a Critic’s Comments and Blog – Part III,” regarding erroneous comments made on a blogsite about the Book of Mormon)

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Correcting a Critic’s Blog – Part I

In an article written back in 2011, “Were There Other People in the Land of Promise? Part III, Jared Methrandir wrote three responses on September 4, 2015, directing us to his blog “The Mid-Seventieth Week Rapture,” who refers to himself as: “A Christian who believes in the Bible as the inherent Word of God, in Salvation by Faith Alone, and a Libertarian.” He chose in his answers to direct me to his blog site on which are numerous inaccuracies which, since they have been referenced here on our blog, are being shown here with our response:
    Comment left on our site: “I have noticed how contrary to popular assumption the Mormon doctrine of Native Americans being Israelites isn't about the "Lost Tribes" at all. In fact I've noticed a high tendency for Mormons to believe in British Israelism. Then of course Joseph's Smith's claim that he descended form Jesus further complicates things. How does a Mormon apologist genealogically back that up? 
    Response: The Book of Mormon has never claimed to be about the Lost Ten Tribes—any assumption of this is strictly on the part of non-LDS people. The Book of Mormon is a scriptural record about a branch of the House of Israel through the prophet Lehi, a descendant of the tribe of Menasseh, and is specifically a Second Witness of Jesus Christ.
The general belief of scientists where the Lost Ten Tribes ended up, mingling with other nations

As for British Israelism (also called Anglo-Israelism), which is defined as: “a doctrine based on the hypothesis that people of Western European and Northern European descent, particularly those in Great Britain, are the direct lineal descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of the ancient Israelites.”
    Since the term implies something more than what LDS generally believe (including organizations dating back to the 19th century, connections of the Saka-Scythians and Crimmerians to the Celts, etc.), we would rather put more accurately that the Lost Ten Tribes went into the north countries and their progress can be tracked across eastern and western Europe in many ways. While numerous eastern and western Europeans, including the English, Scotch and Irish, would be in one way or another connected to, or descendants of, that migration, though not all are, and to what percentage, no one has ventured even a guess. It is written that “For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth” (Amos 9:9). 
    However, it is generally understood by LDS who have an interest in this area that the Lost Ten Tribes are more or less in one body, have religious leaders and keep a record that will eventually be brought forth to connect with the Bible and Book of Mormon. The fact that they will return as a body is foretold (Isaiah 11:10-16; Jeremiah 3:18; 16:14-21). This is what James Talmadge (Articles of Faith, 18, p. 340-341) wrote: “From the scriptural passages already considered, it is plain that, while many of those belonging to the Ten Tribes were diffused among the nations, a sufficient number to justify the retention of the original name were led away as a body and are now in existence in some place where the Lord has hidden them." 
    As for Joseph Smith, he never claimed to be descended from Jesus, like a father-son genealogy in the flesh. He taught and LDS believe that we are all spiritual sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father, sired in the spirit world before becoming mortal via earthly parents, that Jesus is the only begotten son in the flesh of Heavenly Father, and that in an eternal family sense, we are all brothers and sisters. 
    Turning now to the blog site listed, some of the comments need correction: 
    Blog Comment: “In fact one Mormon blog I've looked at called the NephiCode…”
    Response: is not a “Mormon blog.” It has nothing to do with the LDS Church or any LDS organization other than we write about the Book of Mormon and the scriptural record, specifically in regard to the geography stated within the storyline. The author’s comment makes it sound like it represents LDS thought, leadership, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—it does not. It is an independently owned, operated, and written blog based on the Book of Mormon and one person’s understanding and interpretation of that scriptural record.
    Blog Comment: “Second of all, The Book of Mormon claims the Nephites practiced strict Mosaic Judaism.”
Moses delivering the Ten Commandments to the House of Israel in the desert at Sinai

 Response: Strict Mosaic Judaism is not mentioned in the Book of Mormon at all…what is said is that Nephi understood the need to obtain the Brass Plates from Laban, which he was sent back to Jerusalem to get: “Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law. And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass“ (1 Nephi 4:15-16). 
    Later, while in the Land of Promise, Nephi states: ”And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things according to the law of Moses” (2 Nephi 5:10), and that was during Nephi’s time, who also said,” Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him” (2 Nephi 11:4); and again, “And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled” (2 Nephi 25:24).
    Any observance of the Strict Law of Moses as understood by the Jewish rabbis and generally the people, would not have allowed for the coming of Christ in the sense Nephi is referring, nor do we know exactly what is meant by Nephi when referring to keeping the Law of Moses in all things, for he also said, “For I, Nephi, have not taught them many things concerning the manner of the Jews; for their works were works of darkness, and their doings were doings of abominations” (2 Nephi 25:2). It should be kept in mind that the “strict law of Moses” in 600 B.C., which Nephi would have known the Jews practiced, was full of additions and confining limitations that the Nephites no doubt did not follow.
    Blog Comment: “First and foremost, Nephi prophesied that the Bible will be a "stumbling block".
The LDS Church holds, as its standard and official works of the Church, the Bible along with the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price 

Response: Nephi uses the term “stumbling block” three times in the Book of Mormon and none refer to the Bible at all.
    “And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks” (1 Nephi 14:1);
    “O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy” (2 Nephi 4:33);
    “And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor” (2 Nephi 26:20).
    Consequently, all of these comments made by the reader are from inaccurate to false!
(See the next post, “Correcting a Critic’s Comments and Blog – Part II,” regarding erroneous comments made on a blogsite about the Book of Mormon)