Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Forming and Dating of Rocks on the Earth

It is always interesting how people who think of themselves as knowledgeable of history and events so often become entrapped in the current thinking during the time of man that “things were always this way.” Take as an example, the rising of the Andes Mountains and the uplift of the central South American continent and its eastward tilt that formed its current appearance; or the rising of the Panama Isthmus, blocking off what had been the Great Panama Seaway.
    While most may not even now these events took place, geologists have written much about them and there is no question among scientists of the validity of the events. The problem lies in the time frame surrounding these well documented events.
At the age of 500, the Lord told Noah to build an ark It took him 100  years, along with his three sons, to complete the task

It is also interesting that among knowledgeable people, especially members of the Church who know and understand that Noah’s Flood took place, and that the Biblical time frame of that based on the ages of the Patriarch’s and the births of their listed sons to that of Noah (Genesis 5:3-29), who had three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth when he was 500 years old when (Genesis 5:32; 6:10), which age occurred in 2344 BC, when he was told to build the Ark. It took 100 years, and when he was 600 years old, he was told to board the Ark (Genesis 7:11). It rained for forty days and forty nights (Genesis 7:12), and at the end of that forty days, the flood upon the Earth lifted the ark above the earth (Geness 7:17), and as the waters increased greatly on the Earth and all the high hills under heaven were covered, and the waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward and the mountains were covered (Genesis 7:19-20), and every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven—only Noah remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark” (Genesis 7:21-23).
    The waters prevailed upon the Earth 150 days (genesis 7:24), in which they abated, and after 9½ months, Noah opened the window of the ark and sent out a dove, though the waters still prevailed on the whole earth ((Genesis 8:9). However, it was not until the 601st year, in the first moth and first day, the waters were nearly dried up off the earth (Genesis 8:13), and in the 27th day of the following month, the waters were gone completely (Genesis 8:14).
    Thus, in the year 2343 BC, Shem, Ham, and Japeth went forth from the ark and the settling of the Earth commenced. This was approximately 240 years before the Jaredites built that barges and crossed the Great Deep, or oceans to the land promised to them (Ether 2:13,16-17;6:4-12) .
    The point is, we either accept the scriptures or we do not. We cannot decide which scriptures we like and accept them, and decide which we do not like and reject those. The story of Noah is both well stated with details, and time frames. We know when the flood occurred and can place it within the time frame of secular history, knowing as we do that Adam preceded Noah by approximately 1656 years when he was ejected from the Garden of Eden.
It is claimed by geologists that it take upwards of 100 million years for a mountain to completely form during the shifting of Tectonic Plates

Therefore, claims of this world being millions or billions of years old is both inaccurate and fallacious. This, of course, makes the idea of mountains taking millions of years to form, rise, or erode is also deceptive and delusive. However, so deeply ingrained in man’s mind from the early 1800s (Lamarck 1820; Darwin 1858) until now, man has been conditioned for generations to think that the scriptures must be inaccurate because science has “proven” the age of the Earth to be 4.55 billion years old. At the same time, geologists have convinced us that it takes a very long time for anything in nature to occur—millions and millions of years, therefore the age of the Earth is verified by them. 
    In addition, many cannot accept the story of Noah, because he lived to 950 years of age, building the ark at the age of 500 to 600 years of age. We are conditioned to think life ceases between 80 to 110 years under normal circumstances. Yet, the early patriarchs lived ten times as long, and Christians and LDS in particular believe in living throughout eternity in the resurrection.
    However, the Lord has told us the age of the Earth since Adam left the garden of Eden, and we can track that information in the Genesis record which the Lord dictated to Moses (Moses 1:40) so we would have the truth and not be subject to the singular belief and speculation of scientists.
    As an example, science claims that the geological period is one of the several subdivisions of geologic time enabling cross-referencing of rocks and geologic events from place to place. A “geon” (geologic eon) are large, geological units of time, to represent either the span of the average geologic period, or the thickness of the average stratigraphic equivalent, a matter of 60,000,000 years, and 50,000 feet of clastic depositions. They traditionally subdivide earth history into a hierarchy of named intervals, eons, eras, periods, etc., which divisions are of equal rank but characteristically of unequal duration primarily based on its fossils, artifacts, or cultural content
    These periods form elements of a hierarchy of divisions into which geologists have split the Earth's history. This is all well and good, except we know from the Lord that the Earth itself is not as old as geologists claim certain rocks are, thus the idea of such reference of events is inaccurate and of no value to determine the age of the actual Earth—however, it does tell us how old parts of the universe are since these rocks were used in the forming of the Earth, and therefore are far older than the Earth itself. It would be like taking wood and nails from an 18th century barn and using them to build a new, modern barn. While the wood and nails would be much older, the barn itself as newly finished would be nowhere near as old.
Matter unorganized in the Universe
Thus, we also know from modern-day revelations that when the Earth was first organized, “the Lord said: let us go down. And they went down at the beginning and that they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heaven and the earth” (Abraham 4:1). That is, the heaven and the earth were formed by those under the Lord’s direction, all things of which the Earth was formed came from existing material, reorganized into this modern world.
    We also know that in that organizing and forming, “there was matter unorganized,” which they took and organized it into “a world like unto the other worlds we have heretofore formed,”—the global world form that is now this planet.
    The reason this is so important is simply that some scriptural information is not understandable when interpreted in the terms that some scientists claim are factual, like the age of the Earth, and therefore the various ancient ages of events that took place in the Earth’s pre-history.  It might be of interest to now in these divisions, it is claimed while the Earth formed about 4550 million years ago (4.55 billion), an event that is assigned to Geon 45. Rocks formed at 1851 million (1.851 Billion) or 1800 million (1.8 Billion) both belong to Geon 18. Thus, according to the geologic scale, rocks formed in a relatively short period. However, the rocks measured on the Earth vary over a very considerable difference.
A 4.03-billion year-old sample for the small Acasta River, an obscure little drainage up near Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories in Canada (some age-dating now claims this material is 4.2 billion years old)

Thus we find from modern measurements that the ages of felsic rocks are generally between 2.5 and 3.8 billion years. Metasedimentary rock in Greenland has been dated to 3.7 billion years old; 4.1-billion-year-old zircon rocks have been found in Western Australia; In fact, the oldest known rock on Earth, part of the Acasta Gneiss of the Slave craton in northwestern Canadian Shield, is dated to 4.03 billion years old.
    If one wasn’t so conditioned to think in a geologic time frame, one might wonder why rocks in different areas, sometimes in the same area, are of different age. One might think that if the world was created at one time from one source, such as a “Big Bang,” that its parts would be dated to the same period—like a model car built in Detroit, you don’t find a 1920 fender, a 1954 hood, a 1987 trunk and a 1999 axel—you find all parts dated to the time when the car was built. Thus, one would expect that in the forming of primordial protons and neutrons from the quark-gluon plasma of the early Universe as it cooled below two trillion degrees that the result would be somewhat similar in time measurement when the following primordial protons and neutrons formed during the process known as Big Bang nucleosynthesis.
    Yet, nothing dated on the Earth of its origin is constant according to the geologic time scale—it varies over millions and millions of years, as well as billions and billions of years.
    On the other hand, with the Earth being formed out of various pieces of unorganized matter as the Lord has told us, the material coming from different uses at different times, the ages of individual pieces, such as rocks, would vary considerably as we find that it does.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Facts About the Zelph Mound – Part II

Continued from the previous post, regarding the events surrounding the Zelph story and what those who were there had to say about it as compared to what has been written about the event and what was added to their original journal entries later on.
In any event, the bones of Zelph were then carried in Wilford Woodruff’s wagon for the purpose of burying them in the envisioned temple site, but the later eviction of the Saints from Missouri before the temple could be built caused Wilford Woodruff to take the bones to Clay County “near the house owned by Colonel Arthur and occupied by Lyman Wight,” where he reburied the thigh bone near Liberty.
The journals of Woodruff, Heber C. Kimball, Levi W. Hancock (left), George A. Smith, Moses Martin and Reuben McBride, all recorded the incident. It was further and formally recorded in Church history from available sources in 1842 by Church historian, Willard Richards, who recorded that Joseph said, “The visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton lay before us was a white Lamanite, a large thick-set man, a white Lamanite, and a man of God…He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains” (Joseph Smith History of the Church, Vol.2, pp79–80).
(Red Line) Zion’s Camp march westward. Beyond Detroit in Pike County, some of the Elders (Yellow Dotted Line) walked about a mile northward to the large mound in which they found the bones of the skeleton

According to the Smithsonian, the mound, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, was “On the right bank of the Illinois river about 300 yards below [south of] Griggsville Landing, rises a lofty bluff fully 300 feet above the level of the river. On the summit is a beautiful, oval mound, 150 long, 92 feet wide in the middle, and 25 or 30 feet high…within a radius of 5 miles from Naples there are a least fifty mounds, very few of which have ever been opened" (Smithsonian Institution, 1882, p692).
    As for the event being downplayed by our South American interests, the opposite is true. The History of the Church records the Zelph incident as factual, and we consider it likewise to be factual, so long as it is taken in its original context and not including all the changes that have been made since. That the Zelph event took place in North America is merely proof of the claim that we have always stated that all of North and South America is the Land of Promise (though only a small portion of it was the land to which the Jaredites were led and later promised to Lehi and his descendants (2 Nephi 1:5) and thus the portion of the land written about in the Book of Mormon.
According to Joseph Smith, the ancient prophet Onandagus was known from the Rocky Mountains to the Eastern Sea

Since Joseph Smith tells us that Zelph lived at the time of the ancient prophet Onandagus, a name not mentioned in any way in the scriptural record, yet we are told he was well known from the Rocky Mountains to the eastern sea—clearly, Onandagus lived after the demise of the Nephites in 385 AD, and after the Nephite record, which ended in 421 AD, for surely if such a prominent prophet was that well known, he would have been mentioned had he lived during the Nephite era. But neither he nor the name Zelph are included in the record, or are there any references suggesting such individuals in the record.
    Obviously, Onandagus (and Zelph) lived after the demise of the Nephites at Cumorah (Mormon 6:9-13) and after those few Nephites who escaped were hunted down and were all destroyed (Mormon 8:2). In fact, Moroni assures us “the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall; yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites” (Mormon 8:7, emphasis added).
    To make sure we understand that the Nephites were all killed off, Moroni adds, “I say no more concerning them, for there are none save it be the Lamanites and robbers that do exist upon the face of the land” (Mormon 8:9, emphasis added).
    It is interesting that while North American theorists place a great deal of emphasis on Zelph’s bones being found in Illinois, they fail to mention that he and Onandagus, the prophet of Zelph’s time, are not mentioned in the scriptural record. That, alone, should suggest to even the most skeptical, that if no Nephites remained in the Land of Promise, as both Mormon and Moroni state, that Zelph and Onandagus lived elsewhere at a later time.
    That elsewhere was obviously in North America, in the area of what is now west-central Illinois. In fact, as Apostle John A. Widtsoe remarked regarding the story of Zelph, “This is not of much value in Book of Mormon geographical studies, since Zelph probably dated from a later time when Nephites and Lamanites had been somewhat dispersed and had wandered over the country” (Improvement Era, July 1950, p547).
The Movement of the Nephites and Lamanites via the exceedingly large ships that Hagoth built is recorded in Alma 63:4-7, which sailed northward

So, given that Zelph and Onandagus were not within the area referred to in the Book of Mormon as the land promised to Lehi, how did Zelph and Onandagus get to North America? The answer is plain and simple, and given us by Mormon when he abridged the record of Alma. As he stated: “the first ship did also return, and many more people did enter into it; and they also took much provisions, and set out again to the land northward. And it came to pass that they were never heard of more…and one other ship also did sail forth; and whither she did go we know not” (Alma 63:7-8).
    That one ship was believed to have sunk at sea, is only because they did not return and “were never beard of more,” but another ship also sailed, and nothing more was known of that one either. The fact that “there were many of the Nephites who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children; and they took their course northward” (Alma 63:6, emphasis added) should suggest that when some did not return or were heard from again, that if they survived the voyage, went to “a land which was northward,” and ended up in an area separate from the island upon which the Jaredite kingdom and the Nephite nation occupied and were promised.
    Thus we see how Nephites and Lamanites ended up in lands to the north of the land promised to Lehi, of which there are ample examples of their existence in Central and Mesoamerica, and as Zelph shows, also in North America. In fact, there are the plains over which the Nephites roamed, according to Joseph Smith. Consequently, the Church leaders from Joseph Smith’s time forward until now, whose comments and speculations covered both North and South America, are both factual and consistent with the scriptural record and modern comments regarding the location of Lehi’s descendants at the time of the organization of the Church in 1830.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Facts About the Zelph Mound – Part I

North American theorists, particularly those of the Heartland model championed by Rod L. Meldrum, Wayne May and others, claim that the information regarding
    The story of Zelph, a skeleton of a man Joseph Smith identified as a Lamanite warrior during the time of the prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Rocky Mountains to the sea has had an interesting side effect among theorists today.
    Take North American theorists, particularly those of the Heartland model championed by Rod L. Meldrum, Wayne May and others, who claim that the story of Zelph is downplayed or ignored by both Central American theorists and those who claim South American to be the Land of Promise. While that claim might well fit Mesoamericanists who disregard North American claims of Heartland and Great Lake theorists, it certain does not match our interest and writing about South America.
The mound in which Zelph’s skeleton was found is now called the Naples-Russel Mound 8 (Illinois Archaeology Survey)

The bones of an ancient skeleton, known to us today as Zelph, were found on June 3, 1834, on a large burial mound three miles east of Griggsville in Pike county, west-central Illinois. Observing the remains from earlier excavations by white settlers of several bones strewn over the surface of the ground on the west side of the Illinois River, one mile south of present-day Valley city, and across from Naples, some of the brethren of Zion’s Camp secured a shovel and dug down into the mound about a foot to where they found the skeleton (LaMar C. Berrett, Keith W. Perkins and Donald Q. Cannon, Vol. 3 Sacred Places: Ohio and Illinois, vol.3, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, 2002, p228).
    It should always be considered regarding such incidents that to the early members of the Church, all ancient American artifacts were obvious evidences for the Book of Mormon—it was not the locations of these artifacts or knowledge (as shown by John Lloyd Stephens book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan), that was the concern of early members, but that they existed, showing that the Book of Mormon people were really based on factual matters, i.e., an early advanced civilization in the Americas showing the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
    This, of course, caused many non-Mormon critics to suggest opposite views about such findings. It is interesting that in one such case, Eber D. Howe, in his 1834 book Mormonism Unveiled, claimed that Joseph Smith said the bones belonged to “a General among the Nephites,” however, Joseph never wrote about the event, though the six prominent men of the Church who did write in their journals who were then present, all stated Joseph said Zelph was “a white Lamanite” (Kenneth W. Godfrey, “What is the Significance of Zelph in the Study of Book of Mormon Geography?” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol.8, no.2, Maxwell Institute, Provo, 1999, pp70-79).
It was later in the day, while continuing on the journey westward, that Joseph Smith made the identification of the man whose bones they found. Sometime afterward, Wilford Woodruff, who had not been part of the discovery on the mound, stated regarding the finding of the bones that: “Brother Joseph, feeling anxious to learn something of this man, asked the Lord, and received an open vision. 
"The man's name was Zelph. He was a white Lamanite, the curse having been removed because of his righteousness. He was a great warrior, and fought for the Nephites under the direction of the Prophet Onandagus. The latter had charge of the Nephite armies from the Eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains. Although the Book of Mormon does not mention Onandagus, he was a great warrior, leader, general, and prophet. Zelph had his thigh bone broken by a stone thrown from a sling, but was killed by the arrow found sticking in his backbone. There was a great slaughter at that time. The bodies were heaped upon the earth, and buried in the mound, which is nearly three hundred feet in height" (History of the Life and Labors of Wilford Woodruff, as recorded in his Daily Journals prepared for publication by Matthias Cowley, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, 1909, p41).
    However, this account was written in the 1850s, some 20 years after the event, in which he included the term “fought for the Nephites,” which was not included in his Journal written at the time. It is also of interest to note, that changes were made to some of Wilford Woodruff’s entry as it was copied into the Church History. As the writer Godfrey further notes: “Wilford Woodruff’s statement that mounds in the area had been built “probably by the Nephites and Lamanites” became an implied certainty when Willard Richards left out the word “probably” in the Church History. The mere word “arrow” of the three earliest accounts became an “Indian Arrow” and finally a “Lamanitish Arrow.” The phrase “known from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains,” later became “known from the Hill Cumorah” or “eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains. The statement that the battle in which Zelph was killed occurred “among the Lamanites…became “with the Lamanites.”
Rueben McBride (left), whose account is generally regarded as the earliest, possibly written within days of the event, simply said Zelph “was killed in battle,” while Wilford Woodruff wrote a few months later in his journal “he was killed in battle with an arrow.” It should also be noted that none of the sources before the Willard Richards composition, actually say that Zelph died “in battle with the Nephites,” only that he died “in battle” when the otherwise unidentified people of Onandagus were engaged in great wars “among the Lamanites”.
    In addition, “the earlier accounts do not expressly identify Zelph with the Nephites, as do the later accounts.” Nothing about the Nephites is mentioned in Woodruff’s earlier account, written in 1834 probably within a few months of the events described, and some details in his later account are contradicted by his and the other earlier accounts. None of the other accounts written before Joseph Smith’s death mention the Nephites either.
    In fact, some of the accounts claimed Zelph had been a man of large stature, whereas other accounts claimed that he was “short” and “stout.” It might also be noted that not one of the six early journal accounts used the term “Nephite” from Joseph’s statements. In fact, in the pre-publication manuscript in the handwriting of Willard Richards, written in 1842–1843, under Joseph Smith’s guidance and direction of this event, the word “and Nephites” was crossed out by Joseph. It read: “During our travels we visited several of the mounds which had been thrown up by the ancient inhabitants of this country, Nephites, Lamanites” (History of the Church 1838-1856, vol.1-A, p483).
    Further, in an account published as part of the “History of Joseph Smith” in 1846, after Joseph Smith’s death, the names “Hill Cumorah” and “Zelph” were directly linked to the final battles “fought between the Nephites and Lamanites in the fourth century AD” through adding this information to Joseph’s own account: “The visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the spirit of the Almighty I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us, was a white Lamanite…He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Omandagus, who was known from the hill Cumorah, or Eastern sea, to the Rocky Mountains. His name was Zelph…He was killed in battle, by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites (“History of the Church,” Times and Season,s vol.6, no.20, January 1, 1846, pp1076).
    Obviously, unless one reads the actual and original six accounts that were written after the event, it is sometimes difficult to know which comments were actually made, and which comments became additions or even changes to the original journals.
(See the next post, “The Facts About the Zelph Mound – Part II,” for more on the event)

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Fallacy of Using Modern Terms to Interpret Book of Mormon Language or That of Joseph Smith’s Era

It is always interesting that modern man insists on using modern terminology and definitions in the interpretation and understanding of earlier writing and language. Take, for example, the use of the word “America” and “American.” While we have discussed this many times before, it is always disappointing to see people of today, especially those given to a theory about the location of the Land of Promise and the Book of Mormon peoples, misuse the term to describe their particular views and opinions.
    Here in the United States, we call ourselves “Americans,” and our country “America,” but that is basically a nickname. The country is the United States of America, meaning several independent states banding together to form a union, a country, a nation. The “USA” is merely one part of “America.” No one else in either North or South America refer to the people of the United States as “Americans,” since they consider themselves Americans as well, being part of America—the Continent making up the Western Hemisphere.
In the days of the Book of Mormon prophets, of course, there was no such word as “America.” That word was coined in 1507 by, a German cartographer named Martin Waldseemüller which took the name of Amerigo Vespucci, and applied the name Amerigo, or America, to the entire discovery of the New World, thus both North and South America became “America,” which Waldseemüller placed on his 1507 map by name for the entire area after the Italian explorer.
    In fact, in the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster defined the word “America” as: One of the great continents, first discovered by Sebastian Cabot, June 11, O.S. 1498, and by Columbus, or Christoval Colon, Aug. 1, the same year. It extends from the eightieth degree of North, to the fifty-fourth degree of South Latitude; and from the thirty-fifth to the one hundred and fifty-sixth degree of Longitude West from Greenwich, being about nine thousand miles in length. Its breadth at Darien is narrowed to about forty-five miles, but at the northern extremity is nearly four thousand miles. From Darien to the North, the continent is called North America and to the South, it is called South America.”
    Under the term “American,” Webster defined it as: “A native of America; originally applied to the aboriginals, or copper-colored races, found here by the Europeans; but now applied to the descendants of Europeans born in America.” Thus, when those of Joseph Smith’s time used the term America, it did not have the same meaning as it does today.
    Another word is “continent,” which most theorists today think in terms of their being two continents in the Western Hemisphere, i.e., North America and South America. Consequently, when they quote Moroni’s comment to Joseph Smith, who said, “there was a book deposited written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang” (Joseph Smith History 1:34), they claim Moroni was referring to the continent of North America. However, in the 19th century, including the time of Joseph smith, and continuing through to almost the Second World War near the mid-20th century, the term “continent” referred to both North and South America, which was known as a single continent, and had been since the item of Waldseemüller.
    As to Webster’s definition in 1828, the word continent meant “In geography, a great extent of land, not disjoined or interrupted by a sea; a connected tract of land of great extent; as the Eastern and Western continent It differs from an isle only in extent.”
    It should be noted that the United States always viewed the two continents (North America and South America) as a single continent and referred to it as the Americas, which was common in the United States until World War II, and remains prevalent in some Asian six-continent models today.
In fact, “while it might seem surprising to find North and South America still joined into a single continent in a book published in the United States in 1937, such a notion remained fairly common until the 1940s. By the 1950s, however, virtually all American geographers had come to insist that the visually distinct landmasses of North and South America deserved separate designations" (Martin W. Lewis and Kären E. Wigen, The Myth of Continents: a Critique of Metageography,” University of California Press, Berkeley, 1997).
    Even so, though the Americas are two continents in the U.S. and among many nations today, the fact that they are one continent, called the Americas, remains the more common vision in Latin American countries, including Central and South America, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Greece, where they are taught as a single continent.
    Another word is “country.” Webster defined the word in 1828, among other meanings, as “any tract of land, or inhabited land; any region, as distinguished from other regions; a kingdom, state or lesser district. Inhabited territory; land as opposed to water. Paul said of the word: “They desire a better country a heavenly country” (Hebrews 11:9), meaning a land without country borders, where God dwelt.
    It also needs to be understood that heavenly beings are not so concerned about borders and lines on a map, like temporal beings, as they are in the overall land area under their discussion, prophecy or topic. Thus, when mentioning something that modern man places boundaries to, such as land, country, continent, he is generally going to be off because of his limited or finite way of thinking, where from an eternal viewpoint, boundaries and lines on a map change—but the land itself remains and is the point of discussion.
Map of the United States area as it appeared in 1820. Joseph Smith lived in Palmyra, New York, with Ohio, Indiana and Illinois states, but Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin were not

As an example, take any discussion regarding “land” or “country” in Joseph Smith’s time—the United States then comprised only about one-third of today’s contiguous 48 states. Another third belonged to a foreign country (Spain), and another 15-20% belonged to or was disputed with another foreign country (United Kingdom). In fact, the year Moroni visited Joseph for the first time when he was 14 (1819) and told him about the ancient inhabitants, Alabama was not part of the U.S. and neither was Louisiana. In addition, a much larger portion of Wisconsin and Minnesota were controlled by England under the Red River Colony (Selkirk Concession), Alaska was owned by Russia, and Hawaii by the UK.
    Thus, when Moroni told Joseph Smith that the ancient record that contained “an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang,” the word continent meant the entire North and South America, which was known as a continent in Joseph Smith’s time. In Moroni’s time, the area of Lehi’s isle of promise was located in a small portion of that overall land—but that the inhabitants eventually spread over the entire Americas.
    The problem often lies in 1) interpreting ancient words and statements by current definitions and meanings, and 2) looking for something that agrees with one’s own views.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Did Joseph Use the Word Cumorah to describe the Hill in Western New York?

We receive, from time to time, inquiries about something claimed to have been said by Joseph Smith that was not actually said by him according to Church records, his history or his written documents. In this case it was a story retold in her book History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, Lucy Mack Smith, regarding an incident where Joseph was late coming home one night that gave his father some concern for his safety. When confronted about it upon his arrived, Joseph Smith recounted the event.
    The comment received by a Reader provides their point of view on sending this comment to us:
Reader: “I came across this point in an article recently in which Lucy Mack Smith recounted Joseph Smith’s story when he came home quite late one night: “Presently he [Joseph] smiled, and said in a very calm tone, “I have taken the severest chastisement, that I have ever had in my life.” My husband, supposing it was from some of the neighbors, was quite angry; and observed, “I would like to know what business anybody has to find fault with you.” “Stop, father, Stop,” said Joseph, “it was the angel of the Lord—as I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel of the Lord met me and said, that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord; that the time had come for the record to be​brought forth; and, that I must be up and doing, and set myself about the things which God had commanded me to do.” Since you claim the hill near Joseph Smith’s farm was never called Cumorah by him, I was wondering if you had seen this?” Brad T.
Response: “Thanks for the reference. We have been over this before in more than one article in this blog, but will answer this once again since it has underlying importance, which is often used by Heartland, Great Lakes and North American theorists.
    Lucy Mack Smith's writing was in 1845, more than 15 years after the event of Joseph telling her this story, and long after the hill in New York had been called “Cumorah” by members of the early Church and used commonly in descriptions of it.
    There is no attempt here to suggest that Lucy Mack Smith misstated the information Joseph Smith said, she simply clarified the hill he was walking by as “the Hill Cumorah” which was well understood by the Church at the time she wrote this. It is not in the original statement since the name was not known then, but added later.
    It should be noted that about four years after the First Vision, the angel Moroni appeared to young Joseph several times, telling him about the book written on gold plates and preparing him for the work that lay ahead. Lucy Mack Smith tells how her 18-year-old prophet-son shared the wondrous news of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration with his family. As she described: “By sunset…we were all seated, and Joseph commenced telling us the great and glorious things which God had manifested to him…he proceeded to relate…particulars concerning the work which he was appointed to do, and we received them joyfully” (pp82-83, 324-328).
Joseph teaching his parents and family about the people of the American continent many an evening in the family home

Joseph’s mother continues, “From this time forth, Joseph continued to receive instructions from the Lord, and we continued to get the children together every evening for the purpose of listening while he gave us a relation of the same…During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of [the American] continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them” (pp82-83).
    Yet, until Joseph and Oliver Cowdery began translating, and not until nearly the end of that period, i.e., following May 15, 1829 when they were translating 3 Nephi (D&C 13), did they encounter the name “Cumorah,” and that was only when translating Mormon’s writing of his own book, with 8 uses of the term “Cumorah” in verse 6 (4 for land of Cumorh, and 4 for hill Cumorah), and once in verse 8, when Moroni wrote the name, referring to Cumorah where the last battle took place. Moroni also refers to the hill (Cumorah) in Ether but not by name, saying it was the same hill the Jaredites called the hill Ramah.
    Since Joseph Smith was 18 in 1823, when Lucy Mack Smith describes Joseph telling them stories about the people who inhabited the American continent, that means Joseph would not have encountered the name “Cumorah” until about 6 years later, a year before the Church was organized. Consequently, there is no compelling evidence that Moroni, or even Joseph Smith, used the term “Cumorah” in 1823. In fact, even in 1838 the term “Hill Cumorah” is never used in Joseph Smith’s description of finding the plates, instead he merely states “hill” or “the hill.” In fact, Joseph described the hill in his written record simply as “the place,” though his scribe James Mulholland appended the paper to add, “a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood.”
    So, it would seem self-evident that by the time Lucy Mack Smith wrote her book about Joseph and these events he told to the family, that she added the term “Cumorah” to “the hill” in order for clarification. Such would be like saying that Joseph Smith as a 14-year-old boy went into the Sacred Grove to pray, where he received the First Vision. In both cases, the term "Sacred Grove" and "First Vision" are accurately stated, however, at the time he went into the woods behind his father's house where they lived, it was not called the “Sacred Grove” nor was the prayer referred to as the “First Vision”—these are terms added later for clarification and well understood and used contemporary with the event for better understanding.
The Smith family home was surrounded by forest, some of it around the home itself and that area used for planting, had to be cleared by cutting down the trees; however, in Joseph’s time, there were forests on three sides of the farm (note the Farm house in the right image)

This happened a great deal in colonial writing, especially in writing to someone or a future group of people who might confuse events without such clarification. If Joseph went into the woods to pray, without all the knowledge known afterward of the event, it could be asked "which woods" since the home was surrounded by forest, woods, trees, etc. This is quite similar to the addition in Alma where Mormon inserted a description of the Land of Promise, using such terms as “small neck of land,” “land of Desolation,” “land northward,” “day and a half distance,” etc., at a time (around 90 BC) those terms would not have been known to the Nephites, since their entire emphasis was in the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi.
    Actually, there is no mention of anything taking place in the north, near the narrow neck of land until more than 20 years later, when the incident with Morianton takes place and the term “narrow passage” is mentioned (Alma 50:34; 52:9), and narrow neck 35 year later (Alma 63:5). In fact, we do not even know if the name Bountiful was known at this time, since Mormon later adds the name to the record he was abridging for clarification (Alma 50:34). In addition, the north is not mentioned with any regularity until we learn that the Nephites “did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east” (Helaman 3:8). After that time, especially in Mormon’s time, we learn more about this area.
    The point being, the term “Cumorah” was never used by Joseph Smith according to any record of his writing except for one. In fact, in Joseph’s account in the Pearl of Great Price, he refers to the hill where the plates were buried, but never calls it by any name. The onlyh incident known where Joeph used the word Cumorah was in the Doctrine and Covenants the name 'Cumorah' only appears one time, in an 1842 epistle written by Joseph Smith: “And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah” (D&C 128:20). No other use of Cumorah have ever been found in any other of Joseph Smith's personal writings. When this name does appear it has been added by later editors or is being quoted from another individual (Rex C. Reeve, Jr., and Richard O. Cowan, “The Hill Called Cumorah,” in Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: New York and Pennsylvania, Department of Church History and Doctrine, BYU, Provo, 1992, pp73–74).
    Thus, it is highly unlikely that Joseph Smith used the term “hill Cumorah,” in discussions with his family, but that Lucy Mack Smith added the term for clarification as to what hill Joseph was describing after it had been given a name several years after the event she recounted.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

How Some Readers Get Quite Picky—the Use of the Word “Decimate”

It is interesting that someone can take exception of a word without knowing its true meaning and usage. Recently we had a reader write an extensive article deprecating our use of the word “decimate” in describing the horrendous effect of malaria anciently in a discussion about the herbal remedies the Lord provided to offset disease and specifically killing fevers. The Reader took exception by claiming decimate meant only “to kill one in ten.” The Reader went on to disclaim the need for herbal cures, claiming a simple remedy.
    So let’s deal first with the complaint of using the wrong word. According to the Oxford Dictionaries, “most people have a linguistic pet peeve or two, a useful complaint about language that they can sound off about to show other people that they know how to wield the English language. Most of these peeves tend to be rather irrational…a classic example of this is the word ‘decimate.’ The complaint about the word typically centers on the fact that decimate is used improperly to refer to ‘destroying a large portion of something’, when the ‘true’ meaning of the word is ‘to put to death (or punish) one of every ten’. 
    "There are several problems with this complaint. The first, and most obvious, is that language has an ineluctable desire to change, and there are almost no words in English which have been around for more than a few hundred years without taking on new meanings, changing their old ones, or coming to simultaneously mean one thing and the opposite (a type of word known as a contronym).”
In fact, in 1606, the word “decimate” meant to tithe one-tenth, which meaning was far more popular in English than the meaning to punish every tenth man, which did not appear in dictionary form (Thomas Blount’s Glossographia) until 1656. The meaning of “tythe” first appeared in the 16th century, some seventy years before, in a 1528 book by William Barlow, where he writes: “To forge excommunications for tythes and decimacions is their continual exercise.”
    In this sense, then, and unfortunately for the etymological purists, the English OxfordWords of the Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford University Press) claims that the word “decimate” comes from the Medieval Latin word “decimatus,” which means “to tithe.” The word was then assigned retrospectively to the Roman practice of punishing every tenth soldier (Ammon Shea, consulting editor for American Dictionaries for Oxford University Press).
    The current problem with so-called linguists, is that they fall prey to what is known as the Etymological Fallacy, a tendency to believe that a word’s current meaning should be dictated by its roots. In fact, very few words in English retain but a single meaning, some even ignore or no longer are applicable to their root. An enormous percentage of the items in our vocabulary are capable of “semantic multitasking.”
    When a person uses a word such as “tricky,” “person,” “use,” “a,” and even “when,” and “word,” all of which have multiple meanings, we use context to understand the speaker’s intent. So it is with decimate. In addition, many words have changed their meaning from the original root. As an example, about 400 years ago, when “decimate” was used as one-tenth, the word “girl” meant any young person, and a “deer,” meant any kind of wild game. Today, when either “girl” or “deer” are used in a sentence no one wonders what is meant, even though it is far different than from its root.
    For those who truly believe that words which started out in English having a single meaning that pertains to ancient Rome should remain that way forever, the following brief list of such will come in handy: 
Century: “a subdivision of the Roman legion.” 
Forum: “the marketplace or public place of an ancient Roman city forming the center of judicial and public business.”
Tribune: “a Roman official, or elected official, under the monarchy and the republic with the function of protecting the plebeian citizen from arbitrary action by the patrician magistrates.” 
Missiles: “Gifts thrown to the crowds by Roman emperors.” 
Actor: “In Roman law, one that conducts a legal action.” 
Legion: “the principal unit of the Roman army comprising 3000.
    Today, in the English language, it is totally fine to use “decimate” as a synonym for “devastate,” along with annihilate, ruin, slaughter, demolish, reduce, lay waste, destroy, abolish, eradicate, extinguish, obliterate, liquidate, exterminate, etc. (Merriam-Webster, Words).
    The current dictionary definition and meaning of “decimate” is “kill, destroy, or remove a large percentage or part of,” which pretty much define the result of malaria, which, according to the World Health Organization’s November 2018 report, kills one child every two minutes, with 446,000 in 2015 and 445,000 in 2016, with 78% of deaths from malaria being children under the age of 5, which is pretty “decimating.” In fact, malaria is one of the world’s deadliest diseases, and remains one of the top child killers on the planet.
    Thus, just two years ago malaria was on the rise, and the death toll was increasing significantly; however, an introduced program of prevention—treating malaria by preventing it—was introduced involving the distribution of mosquito nets, safe insecticidal coating of dwellings (with a two year life), and larviciding, which has reduced recorded malaria cases from between 60% and 90% where applied.
    Malaria was known before the time of Pericles, with Hippocrates first noting the principal symptoms. In The Compendium of Susruta, (600 BC) a Sanskrit medical treatise, the symptoms of malarial fever were described and attributed to the bites of certain insects. A number of Roman writers attributed malarial diseases to the swamps. The first treatment of malaria was introduced in the second century BC, the Qinghao plant (Artemisia annua) found in the Mawangdui Tomb, called Wormwood in the U.S. By 340 AD, the antifever properties of Qinghao were first described by Ge Hong of the Jin Dynasty, but not actually isolated by Chinese scientists until 1971—today this extract, known as “artemisinins” is very potent and an effective antimalarial drug, especially in combination with other medicines.
Harvested bark from the Cinchona officinalis tree indigenous only to Andean South America 

Still, quinine, from the bark of the Cinchona tree, is the most effective antimalarial drug available today. It was first discovered by the ancient Peruvians who used it for many, many centuries, stretching back into BC times long before the Spanish arrived, who then took the drug back to Europe where it became quite popular. Because of the invention of DDT, malaria was controlled in 1947 in the U.S., and eradicated by 1951.
    As for body temperature (it is well known that a person is considered febrile or pyrexial with an oral temperature exceeding 99.5º (37.5ºC), and a slightly elevated temperature (102º) indicates an infection—above normal but under 100.4º is sometimes considered a low-grade or mild fever, which might indicate that the body is responding to an infection; however, 103º (39.4º C) or higher, is a very serious matter and could become life-threatening, but fevers fighting infections rarely rise over 105º (40.6º C), yet such temperatures can cause seizures, especially in young children. If extended, hyperthermia (failed thermoregulation) could result which is life threatening.
As for treatment other than drugs, the plasmodium infection of malaria can be treated with cinnamon, which is an effective with honey and pepper powder. Also, lime and lemon, the Indian herb Datura (above) is useful in tertian type of malaria. On the other hand, high body temperature is both a poor diagnostic for determining malaria, and a poor predictor of malaria parasitaemia; at the same time, malaria causes perspiration, elevated temperatures, fever and sweats, 
    The Reader went on to state that “another cure for malaria is to raise the body temperature to just under a hundred and five degrees for about eight full hours, which will kill the disease as malaria is a disease which cause a reoccurring fever of abut 103 degrees about every 90 days. Once you hold it there for a while it kills if off.” However, neither the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the WHO (World Health Organization), or the NIH (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) list raising body temperature in order to either control or cure malaria—in fact, during the fever stage, the body temperatures rise automatically, as high as 107º F., which lasts about four hours. 
    While the role of a fever in defense against malaria remains unclear, it has been shown that febrile temperatures inhibit the growth of P. falciparum in vitro (cause of severe malaria), yet, at the same time, all disease control experts warn that if drugs are not available or if the parasites are resistant to them, malaria infection can develop to anemia, hypoglycemia or cerebral malaria, in which the capillaries carrying blood to the brain are blocked. Cerebral malaria can cause coma, life-long-learning disabilities, and death. 
    At the same time, according to one source, raised body temperature can be used to treat the common cold by raising body temperature to 103º, which alerts the body’s natural infection fighting mechanisms, such as the macrophages. However, no doubt, if raising body temperature to cure malaria was such an obvious cure, it would be mentioned all around the malaria circles, however, it is not—not mentioned even once.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Is the Land of Promise Being in South America Plagiarized from the RLDS?

While most of our Readers are quite knowledgeable and enlightened regarding the scriptural record, geography, science and how the world works, we do get some really interesting and sometimes unusual comments from readers and critics alike on issues that seemingly are just made up, or certainly not thought out beyond the initial blush of a thought.
    One such reader recently wrote, saying:
Reader: “A major point to address here. Your theory that Book of Mormon geography is in Northern South America came from RLDS Scholars - H.A Stebbins and a later RLDS gentleman named Louise Edward Hills who placed it farther north in Central America - which is what the current Book of Mormon Central, FairMormon former F.A.R.M.S., The Mormon Interpreter and current like-minded, have also plagiarized.”
Response: Interesting you seem to think you know where we got our idea of South America. However, you are completely wrong in addressing all of that to our work. When we began this journey, we knew nothing about any of the people you mention, or even the RLDS Church at the time other than their being a break off from the LDS Church back after Joseph and Hyrum’s death.
    Whether or not you have any interest in the truth of this matter, it pains us to think that because you wrote this flagrant accusation that other readers might attribute our writing, location and maps to being plagiarized, so let us straighten this issue out.
    Briefly, when we were all younger, the majority belief among Church members was that North America was the Land Northward, South America the Land Southward, and Central America the narrow neck area. As a young adult this interest centered in the belief that Mesoamerica was the area, mostly from a  book given us written by Hunter and Ferguson entitled Ancient America and the Book of Mormon. However, when much older and seriously studying the Book of Mormon that we developed a sincere interest in the geographical setting of the Land of Promise.
    Taking the advice of a friend, which has ever been the standard of our study since, a search was started by first and foremost reading Nephi’s writing. His description of his travels to Bountiful was closely followed along the trail he had to have taken and the only one that made any sense, and that was to Salalah (Khor Rori) in Oman, along the Sea of Arabia (Irreantum).
At this time a friend’s copy of John L. Sorenson’s book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon came into our hands and we began comparing it with the scriptural record, and found so many errors in his interpretations and many, many changes of Mormon’s words and meaning, that we eventually wrote down pages and pages of Sorenson’s statements and the scriptural responses he claimed supported his view. This included an expanded study of Allen’s work and some others regarding Mesoamerica, and overall endeavor that took nearly eight years, and resulted in our book Inaccuracies of Mesoamerica and Other Theories, which was strictly a comparison between Mesoamerican statements made by these theorists and how they were mostly contrary to the statements and descriptions found in the scriptural record.
    As for a pursuit of the location, it was a matter of following the winds and currents, which were the only avenue to take since Nephi tells us his ship “was driven before the wind” on two occasions (1 Nephi 18:8,9). That led to a remarkable area where the winds die down, the currents die down, and minimal landward currents arose—taking a ship dependent on wind and current power into the shore, which happened to be at a place called Coquimbo Bay, Chile. Up to that point, we had never heard of Coquimbo, La Serena, or any other place in western South America, and only vaguely knew about Ecuador, Peru and Chile. Colombia was a little more familiar since a nephew served a mission there, but that was in the mountains to the north.
    From there it was a matter of scriptural study and enormous research that involved most of the best libraries in the States because of a constant travel itinerary at the time, where there were days available for research in the best libraries across the nation where thousands of books in more than 100 libraries (before the internet), and a lot of journals of explorers and adventurers and what they fund was undertaken.
    One of the things that came of this was learning how much more accurate historical documents were that had been published before 1900, and those later were still pretty good until about 1920, when history began to be people’s opinions and speculation, not actual facts.
The point is, this work on and in South America was the result of our own personal study without any other person’s involvement, books, writings, beliefs or theories. We find it both disappointing and extremely erroneous to label our work as that of someone else, of whom we have never heard (RLDS Scholars, Stebbins, Hills, etc. nor know anything about their writing or beliefs).
    In fact, knowledge of FARMS became available only through the works studied regarding Mesoamerica, and through that found their critique of other people’s writings both non-scholarly and extremely prejudicial.
    As far as believing any view we provide, which is strictly the result of studying the scriptural record on every single point and matching that work with available information. In fact, we found within the scriptural record 45 specific and exact Book of Mormon quotes and related them to Andean South America and another 20 related to history, Jewish/Hebrew history and practices.
    Regarding Henry A. Stebbins, who wrote a book in 1901, published by the Board of Publication of the Reorganized Church (RLDS), through the Herald Publishing House, in Lamoni, Iowa. The content of this work was a series of nine Sermons delivered in the RLDS Church’s Saints’ chapel, at Independence, Missouri, from February 13-21, 1894, that had been corrected and revised for the publication. The purpose of the lectures were “to give proper proofs from many antiquarians, historians, and scientists, in connection with the synopsis of the story of the peoples that came to America in ancient times.”
    In “Lecture 6” of these nine lectures, the case for a South American landing is made in articles entitled: From the Red Sea through Arabia; the Compass; they cross the Indian and Pacific Oceans landing in Peru; fertility of Peruvian Soil; Nephi writes their history; a Branch of Israel; Lamanite Rebellion; division of the Colony; Nephite faith and doctrine; and America a Land of Liberty.”
    In “Lecture 9,” Stebbins states: “Neither this story nor the traditions of the natives give us reason to believe that it included anything more than Central America and the northern part of South America (along the Caribbean Sea), and likely Southern Mexico, in which lands then dwelt the main bodies of the Nephites and Lamanites. The scene of the history, and the region into which Christ came to them, was Northern South America, evidently, but the book says that even greater destruction took place in the land northward. And we learn from Bancroft and other writers that Central America was indeed the chief center of those great catastrophes, by which much land was sunk and the waves of the sea came over the cities. The Book of Mormon and the historians agree on this point. Neither of them locate the scene of the great overthrow as in the United States, but further south in Central and South America.”
    He also concludes with, “As a result of this war, wherein the Lamanites began to offer the Nephites in sacrifice before their idols, the Nephites were driven from their homes and from their country. Some escaped into South America, but the main body was driven north and northeast. Others, doubtless, hid away in distant valleys and canyons.”

The point of all this is that Stebbins (left) gave these lectures in 1894 and they were published in 1901. However, Orson Pratt, in 1838, more than 55 years earlier, wrote a pamphlet entitled Remarkable visions, which subsequently went through multiple editions, stating that Lehi landed in Chile, saying: “The remnant of Joseph were also led in a miraculous manner from Jerusalem, in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. They were first led to the eastern borders of the Red Sea; then they journeyed for some time along the borders thereof, nearly in a south-east direction; after which, they altered their course nearly eastward, until they came to the great waters, where, by the commandment of God, they built a vessel, in which they were safely brought across the great Pacific Ocean, and landed upon the western coast of South America” (Orson Pratt, A Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records, Ballantyne and Hughes, Edinburgh, 1840, pp15-21, emphasis added).
    After securing a copy of Orson Pratt’s pamphlet, Elder Orson Hyde, another Apostle who was a close associate of Joseph smith, verified the accuracy of this publication by translating it (with only a few modifications) into German (Milton V. Backman, Jr., “Defender of the Faith,” in Regional studies in Latter-day Saint Church History, BYU Department of Church History and Doctrine, BYU, 1992, pp34-38).
    In another instance of 1841, Benjamin Winchester, an original member of the first Quorum of the Seventy who had been the youngest adult member of Zion’s Camp, and editor of the first independent Mormon periodical, The Gospel Reflector, and President of a large branch of the church in Philadelphia, defended that the American Indian belonged to the house of Israel, and also in comparing the "History of the Ancients of America, and Also of the Book of Mormon," he wrote: “Six hundred years B.C. according to the Book of Mormon, Lehi fled into the wilderness. He pitched his tent in the wilderness near the Red Sea…and after a long and tedious journey, they came to the great waters, or the Ocean...they set sail, and in proper time landed as we infer from their records somewhere on the western coast of South America” (Winchester, “The Claims of the Book of Mormon Established—It Also Defended," The Gospel Reflector 1, 15 March 1841, pp105-23).
Also, Elder John Taylor (left), in 1842, stated: “When we read in the Book of Mormon that Jared and his brother came on to this continent from the confusion and scattering at the Tower, and lived here more than a thousand years, and covered the whole continent from sea to sea, with towns and cities; and that 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, and improved the country according to the word of the Lord, as a branch of the house of Israel” (Taylor, “Facts Are Stubborn Things,” Times and Seasons, vol.3, no.22, September 15, 1842, pp921-922).
    From these 1838 to 1879 years, the latter when Orson Pratt died following40 years in senior Church leadership and as the geographical “expert” on the Book of Mormon, the idea that Lehi landed in South America was the standard point of belief among the Church and Church members.
    So why is it that someone can claim anyone in the church today is plagiarizing an RLDS leader’s lectures in 1894, and printed in 1901, about South America being the landing site of Lehi?
    It seems reasonable to state that if anyone is going to criticize our work regarding South America, which some certainly have been doing, perhaps they would like to at least be accurate in their comments about what is found in our work by reading the articles written and stated by the earliest Church leaders, as well as those posted in this blog as so many others have done and who comment regularly on our pages.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Understanding the Shorter Route in the Southern Ocean – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding the critique of a Reader and our responses regarding sailing through the shorter route of the Southern Ocean for Lehi.
• Reader: “Nephi's ship sailed in the Southern Ocean south of Australia and New Zealand, near the cold waters of Antarctica.”
Where Lehi sailed would have been in the northern part of the Southern Ocean where the waters are considerably warmer than further south

Response: In the south Pacific, the cold waters from the east to west Antarctic Coastal Current (around 70º South Latitude) run vertically off the Antarctic continent and along the bottom northward (Bottom Water), while the southward flowing Pacific Ocean flows above that toward the continent (Deep Water). Another current off the Antarctic flows above that (Intermediate Water) to the north or northward, and above that the Pacific Ocean flows along the surface—however, the surface waters flow from north to south, and actually overlay the colder waters below. This means, that as the warmer waters flow southward, the surface temperatures are warmed, thus the colder waters of the Antarctic mix and grow warmer the further away from the Antarctic continent they flow in their northward movement beneath the surface.
Water flow in the Southern Ocean shows surface water moving southward from then equator, bringing warm surface waters southward; the extremely cold waters along the Antarctic coast (Antarctic Coastal Current) flows downward toward the bottom as it flows northward into the Pacific

Along the western South American coast, especially from Chile to northern Peru, these bottom waters flow upward, creating the Humboldt (Peruvian) current that brings enormous nutrients in the upwelling to the surface creating one of the great fishing areas of the world.
    Now, the current that flows west to east in the Southern Ocean flows across about 25º from 40º south latitude to about 65º south latitude. The closer one sails to the 40-45º area the warmer the water. Also, sailing along this latitude would allow a ship “driven forth before the wind” to be turned upward (northward) with the currents off Tierra del Fuego along the continental shelf of South America—the course Nephi’s ship would have taken. That part of the current that does not flow northward along South America, passes through the Drake Passage and into the Atlantic Ocean.
• Reader: “The year-round temperature in the Tasman Sea near Hobart, Australia barely gets above 60F degrees if you're thinking winter in Oman and summer in Australia.”
Response: Actually, the temperature of the Tasman Sea (40º to 50º south latitude) varies—the normal sea temperature from December to February (summer) is 70º F. (“Climate of Launceston (Tasmania),” Bureau of Meteorology Australian Government, Melbourne, Australia). That 70º is far higher than your 60ºF. Conversely, the lowest recorded winter temperature is 8.6ºF.
    In fact, there are times when it is much warmer than normal, stretching clear south of Campbell Island (400 miles due south of the southern tip of New Zealand), as it happens to be at the moment (since late November), due to a heat wave in the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia. The same thing happened last year when the temperature of the sea rose almost 10 degrees through December January and February. It was also similarly recorded in earlier periods back to 1934-1935 (Paul Gorman, “Scientists watching rising Tasman Sea temperatures—again,” December 2018; Dr. Brett Mullan, Principal Climate Scientist for NIWA, The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research).
• Reader: “But you assume they sailed farther south to catch the Antarctic Circumpolar Current in the Southern Ocean which blows west to east? That's nice, but Brrrrrrr! They must have turned into Popsicles! That's brilliant. Ha ha ha!”
Response: The Lord took Lehi and his party across the Empty Quarter (Rub’ al Khali), the largest sand desert in the world, where the temperatures get as high as 133º F. We’re not sure how you would interpret that, but that is very hot, yet the Lord took them along that route, instead of keeping to the cooler coastal route. And since the Southern Ocean has been sailed regularly today by mariners, with ships using that ocean even as far back in the 17th through 19th centuries in old sailing vessels, one would have to assume that such temperatures, while highly uncomfortable, were not a deterrent to such travel.
The Southern Ocean stretches from 40º to 60º South Latitude. The roaring 40s are warmer than the Furious Fifties, which are warmer than the Screaming Sixties. In the Antarctic Coastal Current along the continental shelf around 70º South Latitude, it freezes in the winter and is always around 25-32º in winter and about 35-40º in summer

By comparison for temperatures, the temperature off the coast of Southern California (at San Clemente) in July is 64º, and 59º at Point Mugu, a few miles north of Malibu, and 58º in San Francisco; the temperature in the Southern Ocean (South Pacific) for an equivalent summer month is 50º (David P. Schneider and F. David B., Reusch, “Antarctic and Southern Ocean Surface Temperatures in CMIP5 Models,” AMS100, 2015; The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation). The Southern Ocean is colder in the South Atlantic than in the Pacific.
• Reader: “All so Laman and Lemuel wouldn't defect on islands near the strait of Malacca or Borneo, New Guinea or the Philippines, etc. Brilliant.
Response: The Lord took Lehi and his party about 2,260 miles from Jerusalem, down the Red Sea, across the Empty Quarter, and down into Oman, the last 40% over a desert that even the Arabs tend to avoid. Whether this was because of Laman and Lemuel’s nature or not is unknown. It seems reasonable to assume, however, that where there is no opportunity to alter their condition or situation, Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, would have been less inclined to rebellious acts than when they felt they had an opportunity as he scriptural record well points out.
• Reader: “Well, guess what, it's 7,000 miles from Oman to Tasmania and 6,500 from Tasmania to Coquimbo = 13,500 approx miles. Use the measuring tool on Google Earth. From Oman to the Cape is roughly 4,500 miles and there to Florida 7,700 miles approx. = 12,200 approx.”
On a flat map, the distance looks much further for distance from (yellow line) Oman to the Southern Ocean and across to South America, than the distance from (red line) Oman around the
African cape and up to Florida; However, flat maps do not show the curvature of a globe and the far shorter distance around the globe in the Southern Ocean

Response: The mileage we stated in the previous responses are sea miles, not air miles, which we verified with google.
• Reader: “No need to sail through "Antarctica" frigid waters nor come in sight of an island as it's possible to do when sailing between Africa and Madagascar.”
Response: Lehi did not sail through the Mozambique Channel between Africa and Madagascar. They sailed with the current that sweeps out into the South Indian Ocean gyre, east of Kilmia, Samhah islands, and just east of Socotra islands, and further east of Seychelles, Coetivy, and Gingt Cinq islands, and far east of Mauritius and Réunion, and even east of Port Mathurin island—which, by the way, cuts down considerably on the distance covered to the Southern Ocean.
    The route of the current would be west of the Maldives, the Chagos Archipelago and the British Indian Ocean Territory, then east of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, as well as Heard and McDonald islands, sailing west of Tasmania, and rounding the South Island of New Zealand to the south and curving into the Southern Ocean (ACC or West Wind Drift) around 50º south latitude and turning north with the current around 90º west longitude and toward the Chilean coast.
    This is the shortest and fastest route from Oman to the Western Hemisphere. It should also be noted that in the open sea, you do not have to be too far from an island, not to be able to see it due to the curvature of the earth.