Sunday, January 21, 2018

Who First Settled Here? – Part IV

Continuing from the previous post regarding why there is no concrete evidence of the Nephite Land of Promise in terms of everyday archaeological findings. In  (answering the oft-asked question, “Why is there no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon?”
    Interestingly, critics frequently like to compare the lack of archaeological support for the Book of Mormon with what they are certain is voluminous archaeological support for the Bible. There is a drastic difference, however, between the two worlds (Old and New) when it comes to epigraphic data, iconographic data, the continuity of culture, and toponyms (place names).
    We have already noted the dearth of readable New World inscriptions from Nephite times. From biblical lands, however, we know of thousands of contemporary inscriptions that have survived to modern times. We have pointed out that very few toponyms can be read in the surviving few epigraphic fragments from the Nephite-era New World. In contrast, we find for the Bible not only has scores of epigraphic records identifying ancient Mediterranean cities, but we also sometimes find a “continuity of culture” that preserves city names. In other words, many modern Near Eastern cities are known today by the same name as they were known anciently. Many biblical toponyms continued to be used in not only the Hebrew language, but also in Aramaic, Arabic, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian inscriptions and papyri.
The writings of Eusebius Pamphill, the 4th century Bishop of Caesarea (260-340 A.D.), known as the Father of Church History, supply biblical archaeologists with toponyms from the Holy Land as well as detailed lists (in some instances) of distances between cities. Knowing the exact location of one city helps biblical archaeologists locate other cities, simply by calculating the distances.
    Many people would be tempted to think that toponyms generally continue from one generation to the next, but that is not always true. Generally, a toponym changes during periods of major changes to that city–-because of political transformations or major cultural or language changes. Many Old World cities have changed toponyms through the years. As one of many examples, the classical Greek city Byzantium became Constantinople in the fourth century A.D. and then Istanbul in the fifteenth century A.D. We even see the same phenomenon in the Book of Mormon where the Jaredite hill Ramah is later called the hill Cumorah by the Nephites.
    Even acknowledging the archaeological advantages for determining the location and historical actuality of biblical lands, we find that only slightly more than half of all place names mentioned in the Bible have been located and positively identified. Most of these identifications are based on the preservation of the toponym. For biblical locations with no toponym preserved, only about 8% of them have been identified to a degree of certainty and about another 7% of them have been identified with some degree of conjectural certainty.
    The identification of these locations without place names could not have been made were it not for the identification of locations with preserved toponyms. If few or no Biblical toponyms survived, the identification of biblical locations would be largely speculative.
    Despite the identification of some biblical sites, many important Bible locations have not been identified. The location of Mt. Sinai, for example, is unknown, and there are over twenty possible candidates. Some scholars reject the claim that the city of Jericho existed at the time of Joshua. The exact route taken by the Israelites on their Exodus is unknown, and some scholars dispute the biblical claim that there ever was an Israelite conquest of Canaan.
    William Dever is a non-LDS biblical archaeologist, a professor of Near Eastern archaeology and anthropology at the University of Arizona, and head of the university’s Near Eastern Studies Department. He claims that archaeology should never be supposed to prove the Bible in any sense. “After a century of modern research,” writes Dever, “neither Biblical scholars nor archaeologists have been able to document as historical any of the events, much less the personalities, of the patriarchal or Mosaic era.” After more than a century of modern research, archaeology has never substantiated a variety of biblical narratives, including the existence of Abraham, Joseph of Egypt, Moses, or an Israelite presence in Egypt.
    The past is nowhere near as understood as many people think.
Current names found in Andean Peru and their meaning, which obviously shows more of a Lamanite naming process than that of the Nephite type names found in the scriptural record

What do we find in the Americas regarding the archaeology associated with toponyms? First, unlike the biblical lands where many toponyms survived due to a continuity of culture, there is no reason to assume that Maya languages and Nephite languages were related in Mesoamerica, or that Quechua and Nephite languages were related in Peru. Secondly, we find that toponyms often disappeared from one era to the next. Many of the American cities today have Spanish names such as San Lorenzo, La Venta, and El Mirador, or in Peru, where names often lack their original purity because of contractions, the introduction of new words and because names are sometimes incorrectly written down by those who are ignorant of Quechua and of phonetics. Thus, we have Cuzco (navel), Akilpo (fine sand), Jurau (thin-leafed grass), Choquequirao, (city of gold), Ancash (Azure), Llaca (ash-colored wheat liquid), Huinay Huayna (forever young), Putaca (thick mist), and Callán (earthenware cook pot).
    It is interesting that the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega noted how much Quechua had been corrupted during the first thirty years of the conquest. In 1573 Viceroy Toledo founded the Chair of Indian Languages at the University of San Marcos in the thirty-eighth year of that oldest of America’s institutions of higher learning. Courses on Quechua were given for 200 years until they were abolished in 1784 by Viceroy Jáuregui after the rebellion of the Inca Tupac Amaru.
    Señior Morales describes the principal works on the language of the Incas, especially the early seventeenth century studies by P. Gonzáles Holguín and Alonso de Huerta. He also mentions more modern works which deal primarily with Quechua etymology and with the naming of geographical features in Peru. He explains how Quechua is being spoken less, especially by hill people who move to Lima and of steps being taken by the government and by cultural groups to prevent its disappearance
    The “collapse of the indigenous civilizations before the conquistadors created a sharp historical discontinuity. We have the names of almost none of the Classic Mayan and Olmec cities of two millennia ago, which is why they are known today under Spanish titles.” Archaeologists simply don’t know what many of the original names for these Mayan cities were. If archaeologists don’t know the names of some cities they have discovered, how could we ever hope to provide English names for those cities, such as names provided in the Book of Mormon?
    The same is true in Andean Peru. At best, we may know the name the Inca gave a city or area, but not its original name 1000 or more years earlier, dating back into B.C. times. Such cases in the Americas is next to impossible to trace back names since there simply is no record of continuity of culture. Generally, what we know an area by is the name given it by modern archaeologists who uncovered or discovered the site.
    Additionally, scholars are uncertain as to the pronunciation of cities for which they do have names because city-inscriptions are often iconographic, and not all scholars are in agreement that such icons represent city names. These icons are not only rare (as previously noted) but they are symbolic rather than phonetic. In other words, when archaeologists find an iconographic inscription designating a place as the Hill of the Jaguar, the pronunciation of this inscription would be dependent on the language of the speaker–be it a Zapotec, a Mixtec, Moche or Wari, or for that matter, a Nephite. The only way to identify an ancient site is by way of an inscription giving a phonetically intelligible name. Barring further discoveries, we may never know how the names of American cities were pronounced in Book of Mormon times.
A short list of the numerous Old World city names known anciently by far different names than they were later called by other groups that took over the locations

If the epigraphic data from the Old World were as slim as the epigraphic data from the New World, scholars would be severely limited in their understanding of the Israelites or early Christianity. It would likely be impossible, using strictly non-epigraphic archaeological evidences, to distinguish between Canaanites and Israelites when they co-existed in the pre-Babylonian (pre-587 B.C.) Holy Land. We find that the same problems would be apparent in the study of early Christianity if scholars were faced with the absence of epigraphic data. For instance, if Diocletian’s persecutions of Christianity had been successful, if Constantine had never converted, and if Christianity had disappeared around 300 A.D., it would be very difficult if not impossible to reconstruct the history of Christianity using nothing but archaeological artifacts and imperial Roman inscriptions.
    “It is quite possible,” notes William J. Hamblin a professor of History at BYU and a former board member of FARMS, “for a religion, especially an aniconic religion [a religion without images], to simply disappear from the archaeological record. Despite the fact that there were several million Christians in the Roman Empire in the late third century, it is very difficult to [discover] almost anything of substance about them from archaeology alone.”
    Thus, it should be noted, that except for the epigraphic writing of the Book of Mormon, what we know about the Nephites and Lamanites, or the earlier Jaredites, would be almost nothing at all. The preservation of the ancient writings, which involved much effort and understanding on the part of these early writers, is remarkable, and with the Lord’s intervention, would be non-existent today. To expect to find obvious archaeological records of Nephites or the Jaredites before them, without the ancient writings in the scriptural record, would be impossible.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Who First Settled Here? – Part III

Continuing from the previous post regarding why there is no concrete evidence of the Nephite Land of Promise in terms of everyday archaeological findings. In answering the oft-asked question, “Why is there no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon?” 
    Critics, for example, sometimes deride the idea that Nephites were, for most of their written history, “Christians.” In their view there should be archaeological remains indicating a Christian presence in the ancient New World.
What does a Christian pot look like compared to a non-Christian pot of antiquity?

How, exactly, would an archaeologist distinguish a Christian-owned pot from that of a non-Christian pot? What would a Christian pot look like? Also keep in mind that according to the Book of Mormon the New World “Christians” were a persecuted minority who were wiped out over fifteen hundred years ago. How much archaeological evidence would we really expect to have survived the intervening centuries?
    For the archaeologist, the strongest contextual clues are in the form of writings or markings that are sometimes found on the physical evidence. These are of two general types: epigraphic and iconographic. Epigraphic evidence consists of a written record, such as the text you are reading, while iconographic evidence consists of pictures, or icons. 
For instance, the word “cross” is epigraphic, but a picture of a cross is iconographic.
    Epigraphic evidence, providing it can be translated, gives a record of what people thought or did. Iconographic evidence is much more symbolic and its interpretation depends on the context in which the image is used. As an example, the only way archaeologists can determine the names of political kingdoms, people, ethnography, and religion of an ancient people is through written records. Iconography can be helpful, but must be understood in a particular cultural context which can only be fully understood through written records.
    Thus, the existence of swastikas on late medieval mosques in Central Asia or on Tibetan Buddhist temples in Tibet does not demonstrate that Muslims and Buddhists are Nazis, nor, for that matter, that Nazis are Buddhists or Muslims. Rather it demonstrates that the swastika has different symbolic meanings in early twentieth century Germany, Muslim Central Asia, and in Tibet.
Perishable material used for writing anciently tends to disintegrate over time and is only partially useful in determining information about the society that developed it. Often archaeologists insert their own understanding into the missing wordage to come up with information

A problem, however, known as the “epigraphic habit,” is that many ancient peoples wrote, but wrote on perishable materials which are destroyed over the course of centuries, or survive only under very specific environmental conditions. Hence, we have almost no written records for some ancient peoples, even though we know they wrote. Others had the “epigraphic habit” of writing on non-perishable materials–clay tablets, stone, metal plates–which can survive as archaeological data. Thus, the problem of what records survive in a state that can be discovered by archaeologists is dependent on the cultural habits of the civilization being studied. (Note, there is a different means of preservation of traditional texts which are copied and recopied by subsequent cultures.)
    This creates for archaeology a natural and unavoidable imbalance in understanding more about civilizations with the epigraphic habit, and much less about civilizations without the epigraphic habit. Egypt, for example, had the epigraphic habit—though actually not in all of its dynastic periods, only in some of them. Judah did not. Hence, from archaeological data alone we would know almost nothing about the religion and kingdom of ancient Judah. Indeed, based on archaeological data alone we would assume the Jews were polytheists exactly like their neighbors. Judaism, as a unique religion, would simply disappear without the survival of the Bible and other Jewish written texts.
    This raises the next issue. Methodologically speaking, does the absence of archaeologically discovered written records demonstrate that a certain kingdom does not exist? Or to put it another way, does the existence of an ancient kingdom depend on whether or not twenty-first century archaeologists have discovered written records of that kingdom? Or does the kingdom exist irrespective of whether or not it is part of the knowledge horizon of early twenty-first century archaeologists?
Or, to state the principle more broadly, does absence of evidence equal evidence of absence?
    Understanding what archaeologists look for in historical evidence, and that a written record (epigraphic or iconographic) is necessary for building context, what do we find when we turn to the records of the ancient Americas? (Remember that the time period covered by the Book of Mormon ended in about 400 A.D., so we need to look at evidence from before that time).
    Of the approximately half dozen known written language systems in the New World (all of which are located in Mesoamerica), only the Mayan language can be fully read with confidence. Scholars can understand some basic structure of some of the other languages, but they cannot fully understand what the ancients were saying. In other words, there is a problem with deciphering the epigraphic record. According to the experts, “the pronunciation of the actual names of the earliest Maya kings and other name-glyphs from other writing systems is not known with certainty.”
    At the same time, we need to recognize that on Easter Island the script “rongorongo” has been discovered, with evidence from early settlers there that the language came from the mainland when they migrated from Peru. However, despite there being several samples of the language, and that numerous linguists have made the attempt, none have been able to translate the language to date.
    For the time period in which the Nephites lived, scholars are aware of only a very limited number of inscriptions from the entire ancient New World that can be read with some degree of certainty. Even with these fragments, however, scholars are still uncertain from these inscriptions just how the ancients pronounced the proper names and place names (toponyms). Four of these readable inscriptions merely give dates or a king’s name–a very limited cultural context. Another five inscriptions contain historical information and proper names–the mention of the cities Tikal and Uaxactun (for which the ancient pronunciation remain uncertain) and five kings from these two cities (whom we know by iconographic symbols and whose ancient pronunciation remains uncertain).
    With such sparse epigraphic information, how could we possibly recognize, under current conditions, the location of cities we know as Bountiful and Zarahemla, or if the religious rulers were actually named Nephi or Moroni? The critics like to claim that there is no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, but the truth is that there is scant archaeological data to tell us anything about the names of ancient New World inhabitants or locations–and names are the only means by which we could archaeologically identify whether there were Nephites in ancient America.
    Now with that in mind, we need to recall the problems with the Nephite records that were always threatened to be destroyed if they were discovered or fell into Lamanite hands. Both Mormon and Moroni make this quite clear that anything that fell into Lamanite hands would be destroyed. This provides yet another problem to the archaeologist—if no record is found, does that mean a record never or once existed?
    Still another problem facing the Western World archaeologist is the fact that names have not continued. The Lamanite or American Indian seems not to have been in the habit of using names on a long term basis. This is even pointed out in the Book of Mormon when Lehi settled for a time along the River he named Laman, in the valley he named Lemuel. Once he moved on, it is unlikely these two areas retained those names unless others had remained in the area and used the same name; however, it was always the custom of the nomadic Hebrew or Arab to name what they found according to their own desires. Take, as an example, when Alma and his group of some 450 people moved into an area that they named Haran, after the first of the converts that was baptized. At a later date, they moved on, fleeing from the Lamanites. It would be unexpected to have that name “Haran” retained in the area.
    In another case, nowhere on the Small Plates do we have the name of the Land of First Inheritance where Lehi landed. Yet, in his record on the Large Plates, originally translated by Joseph Smith until the first 116 pages were lost, that area was called the Land of Lehi. And what of the City of Nephi, for no sooner had the Nephites moved out with Mosiah to resettled in Zarahemla than the Lamanites renamed the city Lehi, later called by Mormon Lehi-Nephi.
(See the next post, “Who First Settled Here? – Part IV,” for more information on why we don’t have archaeological information regarding the Land of Promise)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Who First Settled Here? – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding why there is no concrete evidence of the Nephite Land of Promise in terms of everyday archaeological findings. In answering the oft-asked question, “Why is there no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon?” 
     One of the problems when this question arises is the lack of real understanding on the part of the questioner as to what archaeology does, what it finds, and how we know what it is or is not. Stated differently, this common query often expresses the questioner’s incorrect assumptions about archaeological methodology–assumptions usually based on the questioner’s lack of knowledge about a very specialized academic area.
Critics seem to think that there should be signs of some kind, some written material to point out a Nephite location that would authenticate the Book of Mormon

One can only wonder what might have taken place if the engraved plates of Nephi, which Mormon abridged, had been found by a secular archaeological team digging in the mountains of northern Ecuador, instead of by Joseph Smith obtaining them from an angel at the Hill Cumorah in western upstate New York. What if the newspaper headlines had screamed that an ancient record of a 2500-year-old-civilization had been found in South America amid the hundreds of ruins down there? What if it had not been a religious book, but strictly a record of an ancient people who sailed to the Western Hemisphere from the Middle East in 600 B.C.?
    Do you think the results might have been different? Would scientists throw it out and ridicule it because it mentioned horses and elephants, Hebrew and Jew, and gave a history of a people who carved out a new life in a new world, building all the ancient sites now found there and dating them all by what was written? Might not scores of archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians beaten a path to South America to study this people and their historical sites in which they built, lived and fought numerous wars before being annihilated?
    More importantly, would there be people saying “show us the evidence of this people in South America?” No, they would be bumping into these sites every time they turned around. They would marvel at the method of building construction the ancients achieved, and would be linking accomplishments with the Egyptians and the Hebrews and their stone cities in the Middle East with these stone cities in South America.
    They would be revising their old paradigms of a Siberian land bridge and highway across Alaska, and how people got from the Middle East to the Americas. There would be ships built like Nephi’s (however they might determine such construction) and groups sailing the currents Nephi describes.
    If it wasn’t such a sad disclosure of human nature, it would be downright humorous.
    But it does point out one simple fact. Once you tie something into religion, you cast aside your believability. Science cannot handle God and for the most part, will relegate Him to some forbidden corner of history rather than recognize the great things He has done and how impacted each one of us are on the things He has and does do for mankind.
    However, that aside, let us take a look at what we need to know before we dive into archaeological matters, i.e., the location of the Land of Promise and all that is involved in determining that one simple fact.
    First, let’s take a look at what archaeological evidence means in relation to the Land of Promise in the Book of Mormon. Since people are always telling us what is not correct about the Book of Mormon, its geography, and the location of the Land of Promise, perhaps we should ask them “What archaeological evidence might be considered the minimal irrefutable proof needed to convince a non-believing world of the authenticity of the Nephite record?”
    Would finding the existence of horses and elephants do it? Would finding barley and wheat growing anciently in the Americas do it? Would finding a plant that cured malaria as Alma states do it? Would finding the tower Mormon describes Noah building do it? Would finding the myriad and complex roads and highway system described in 3 Nephi do it?
    Well, we can easily cast those aside, for evidences of horses and elephants in South America in the pre-Columbian period living at the same time as man, has been found—but all it has done is create stronger criticism. Also, barley has been found to have grown ancient in the Americas in the time frame needed, but that has not convinced anyone of anything—the critics just switch to another issue. Nor has the knowledge that quinine, the cure for killing fevers of malaria been found to not only be indigenous to Peru in South America, but until the Dutch replanted starts in Indonesia in the 17th century, it was found nowhere else in the entire world. Still, that has not convinced anyone, neither scientist nor layman.
    Neither has the finding of a complex road system dating to Nephite times, nor a tower found by the invading conquistadors on a hill overlooking an ancient city, nor two unknown animals, nor two unknown grains—nothing yet found that matches the Nephite record has had any impact on the sectarian world who rejects the record out of hand because it is a religious record as well as a limited history of such a people.
Left: The llama and alpaca, two of the most beneficial animals for man found anciently only in Andean Peru; Right: The highly nutritious grain quinoa, and along with kiwichi, two of the most beneficial grains known to man found anciently only in Andean Peru
    What about something else? Would finding two unknown animals indigenous to the region that meets the criteria stated do it? Would finding two unknown grains on a nutritional level with corn, wheat and barley do it? Would finding gold, silver and copper in quantities that exceeded anywhere else in the world do it?
    Again, two unknown animals that fit perfectly the description in Ether are found in the Andes of South America—and are not only indigenous to the area, but found nowhere else and that is the llama and alpaca. Has that changed anything? Lessened the criticism? Not at all. Well, what about finding two unknown grains on a par nutritionally with corn, wheat and barley. Quinoa and kiwicha, two unknown grains outside of Andean South America until recently, and indigenous to the area for thousands of years, and two of the most nutritious grains found anywhere in the world. But that didn’t change anyone’s mind, either. Nor has the fact that between Peru and Chile, without question they own the gold, silver and copper producing markets of the world. None of these facts, which all point to Book of Mormon descriptions of the Land of Promise, have swayed very many people to look into South America.
    Why is that? It is as though people do not want to know the truth, they merely want to hold on to their pre-conceived paradigms, to keep their reputations intact, their careers on track, and their control over what is correct and what is not.
    For critics of the work, some may have moved from “Joseph Smith got it wrong,” to “Wow, Joseph smith sure made some lucky guesses.” If that is a step in the right direction, then good. However, it seems more like a grudging concession and nothing more—South America is still not the place, and the Book of Mormon is still full of problems. Certainly these nine areas do not amount to “proof” of anything.
    Of course the Book of Mormon mentions cities, trade, warfare, towers, and the use of armor–all of which did exist in the ancient Americas–yet their existence has not convinced critics that the Book of Mormon is an authentic ancient text. Thus, it can be seen that archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon–which does exist, does not constitute proof, nor does it translate into belief.
    Another step in archaeology that has to be understood is that archaeologists generally work with a very fragmentary record, yet, when they find evidence, in and of itself the evidence doesn’t prove anything until it is placed within a context—a framework by which it can be understood.
    Quoting one archaeologist: “If we find a pot (or, more likely, a fragment of a pot), that unfortunately provides little evidence concerning the civilization that created or used the pot. Contextual clues–-such as other artifacts uncovered near the pot–-may provide some help concerning the time frame in which the pot was last used, but it certainly doesn’t provide conclusive evidence as to what the civilization, or the individuals in that civilization, were like.”
(See the next post, “Who First Settled Here? – Part III,” for more information on the existence of matching locations within South America to the descriptions of Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni, that show the history of the Nephite Nation)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Who First Settled Here? –Part I

From time to time we receive inquiries as to why there is no evidence of Nephite existence in the Land of Promise after their 1,000-year-history. It seems like people expect there to be some type of definitive awareness of someone who lived 2500 years ago. After all, they say, we know about the Romans, Persians, Greeks, Sumarians, Olmecs, Angeans, Phoenicians, etc. We know about these, why not the Nephites?
A section of the temple complex (one of five circular pits so far excavated) at Gobekil Tepe located six miles from Urfa in south-eastern Turkey, dated earlier than Stonehenge

However, without written histories, we would know little about these groups, perhaps nothing at all except their remains. Take, for example the Gobleki Tepe, of south-eastern Turkey who built massive circular structures some 12,000 years ago; or the Nan Modol, who built on a coral reef in Micronesia, a culture that built a series of small artificial islands, a grouping of 100 artificial islets linked by a network of canals; or the Rama Empire around 500 B.C. in India that may actually date back several thousand years before that; or who built the Longyou Caves, which the Chines call the “Ninth Wonder of the Ancient World”?
    The point is there are as many unknown ancient civilizations as there are known ones. Some kept records, or information about them survived, others did not; and who built the 12,000 year-old-stone age tunnels that run from Scotland to Turkey. There are also some better known civilizations of which we actually know next to nothing about, though their names are linked within the network of civilizations and accepted along a chronology, but the truth is we know nothing about them: such as the Minoans, the Caral-Supe, the Olmec, the Angkor, the Moche, the predynastic Egypt, Nasca, and the Dilmun.
    Our knowing nothing about so many of these ancient civilizations provides yet another solid reason why it was so important for Nephi to kill Laban to obtain the records of Lehi’s ancestry and a knowledge of who they were dating back to the beginning.

We not only have the remains of Roman architecture, but a lengthy knowledge of the Romans and their civilization 

One of the more interesting questions is why we don’t know as much about the Nephites as we do about the Romans—both lived about the same time, and both achieved similar greatness in their building and the arts (not in conquest).
    However, it could be asked how much evidence would we have today of the Romans, if another occupying force swept through Rome in 400 A.D., systematically killing all the Romans, renaming Roman cities, destroyed all Roman records, rewriting history and imposing their own culture? And, 400 years prior to that, the Roman Empire had been decimated by a massive earthquake, after which the rubble was picked up and some cities rebuilt by survivors? And, over 1,000 years after, all The Romans in what would be the land no longer known as Rome were killed and the vast body of their written records was destroyed by invaders from another country?
    And what would have happened if that invading people, themselves, were barbaric, without a government of their own, driven by fragmented tribal interactions, killings, and constant warfare so much so that no culture survived long enough to establish a history or record? What if these people reverted to complete barbarism, destroying, not building, living as nomads, moving with the weather and the wild game, living off the land until there was no wild game left? And what if they were illiterate, having no written records to tell of their own existence on the scene of history?
    The problem is, the Nephites were systematically exterminated by the Lamanites. As far back as Enos, who tells us the Lamanites swore that if it were possible, “they would destroy our records and us, and also all the traditions of our fathers” (Enos 1:14). This is repeated at the end, nearly 1000 years after Enos, when Mormon and Moroni tell us basically the same thing about the intentions of the Lamanites.
    This goes way beyond one nation simply conquering another. It even goes further than book burning. The Lamanites swore to destroy every trace of the Nephites, their practices, their traditions, everything.
    That should suggest to us that the Lamanites had different practices. Things we wouldn’t know to look for. Did the Lamanites find any Nephite records? If they did, they swore to destroy them. Did they keep city names? No, they would have changed them—we have that in the fact that they called the city of Nephi, the city of Lehi once they occupied it (which Mormon then called the City of Lehi-Nephi). Did they tell the history of what actually happened? No, they didn’t keep any records, so would not have written down anything about their annihilation of the Nephites, or their many years of civil wars afterward.
    Rome merely fell, their records, history and accomplishments still intact—and numerous peoples throughout the region well aware of their one-time existence. The Nephite civilization was utterly destroyed; annihilated; wiped off the face of the Earth. Nothing that could be destroyed remained. Only large buildings that within a few centuries no one had any idea who built them. And the magnificent roads that were used by generations of cultures afterward until not a soul knew who built them. No writings survived. No names survived. No history survived. Just buildings, albeit of magnificent construction, and roads that marveled those of Rome, and bits and pieces of cultures that worked metallurgy in far back ancient times, had silk before the eastern lands, and were able to build in stone pyramidal temples, fortresses, and palaces that have lasted as long as that of Rome. That so many tribal cultures rose and fell in between then and now, that no one even knows who those ancient people were that built all the stone marvels they see today.
One of numerous ancient cities found in Andean Peru dating back to Nephite times showing an advanced civilization throughout Peru and Ecuador of whose existence there is no extant sectarian written record

Do we have any evidence of the Nephite people and the land they occupied? Certainly. Is it Nephite specific? It certainly matches the written record discovered and translated in the early 1800s, but is it Nephite specific? No. Nothing appears in all the land that would draw attention to the name Nephite, or Lamanite, or Land of Promise.
    But it is there, just the same!
    If we look at the western ledge of the Andean shelf, an area from southern Colombia to central Chile, and from the Pacific coastal area between the seashore and the far side of the Andes Oriental Mountain Range or Cordillera, we find an enormous amount of matches between the Book of Mormon scriptural references to the Land of Promise and the land itself.
    Do we find signs indicating the city of Zarahemla, or Nephi, or Bountiful, etc.? Of course not. But we do find cities in those general areas, matching size and scope, and we find a massive complex road and highway system as briefly described in 3 Nephi. As has been pointed out in this blog over the past eight years, we have found some 65 matches to the scriptural record, at least 44 specific scripture references, like a cure for killer fevers, such as malaria (Alma 46:40)—an indigenous plant grown only in the Andean area until the 17th century A.D. when the Dutch transplanted it in Indonesia; two unknown animals on an equal footing with the elephant in their value to man (Ether 9:19)—two indigenous animals found only in the Andes of South America; two unknown grains on a nutritional footing with corn, wheat and barley (Mosiah 9:9)—found only in the Andes of South America; a climate where only Lehi’s “seeds from Jerusalem” would grow (1 Nephi 18:25)—an area found only in 30º South Latitude, Chile, or in Central California, in all of the Western Hemisphere; where a narrow passage within a narrow neck of land is found (Alma 50:34; 52:9; Mormon 2:29; 3:5)—which can be crossed in a day-and-a-half, and numerous others.
(See the next post, “Who Settled Here? – Part II,” for more information on the existence of matching locations within South America to the descriptions of Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni, that show the history of the Nephite Nation)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dotting the “I”s and Crossing the “T”s – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding one of the problems in dealing readers who believe in the old Earth policies and theories of “mainstream science.” 
    It is also believed by “mainstream science” that the earth is currently in an interglacial period known as the Holocene and has been for around 11,700 years, and it is argued that it might be most analogous to a previous interglacial that lasted 28,000 years ago, and claimed that the predicted changes in orbital forcing (tilting of the Earth) suggest that the next glacial period would begin at least 50,000 years from now.
With the claimed last glacial period ending about 10,000 years ago, all that remains of the continental ice sheets are the Arctic, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and smaller glaciers such as on Baffin Island. Outside these five distinct ages, “mainstream science’s” belief is that the Earth seems to have been ice free even in high latitudes.
    Also according to “mainstream science,” geological evidence for ice ages comes in various forms, including rock scouring and scratching, glacial moraines, drumlins, valley cutting, and the deposition of till or tillites and glacial erratics, which of course can be seen today. However, it is claimed that successive glaciations tend to distort and erase the geological evidence, making it difficult to interpret. Furthermore, this evidence was difficult to date exactly; early theories assumed that the glacials were short compared to the long interglacials. The advent of sediment and ice cores led to the “current” beliefs that glacials are long, and interglacials are short.
    It took some time for the current theory to be worked out, all together taking several decades until the ice age theory was fully accepted by scientists. This happened on an international scale in the second half of the 1870s following the work of James Croll, including the publication of Climate and Time, in Their Geological Relations in 1875, which provided a credible explanation to scientists for the causes of ice ages.
    On the other hand, there are several scientists today who do not accept much of this ice age information, including Melvin A. Cook who states “Not only does the observed global adjustment (uplift-depression) cycle verify that there were really two ice sheets, one at the north pole and one at the south pole involved in the division of the earth or continental drift, but the apparent absence of more than one such global adjustment cycle shows that there was really only one ice age!” He also goes on to add, “Scientists have evidently overlooked these requirements in crustal adjustments in assessing the theory of multiple ice ages. Not only is an ice cap model singularly applicable in explaining these isostasy adjustments, but one knows that every large ice sheet of the magnitude of those of the ‘Wisconsin’ must cause such uplift and depressions of the continent in accord with the requirements of isostasy.”
    With this in mind, it is easy to see that such multiple ice ages, there would be multiple seashore cycles for each ice age, but only one cycle is evident in the shoreline record.
    Furthermore, in evaluating five or more of the claimed ice ages, at least in the northern hemisphere were supposed to have occupied essentially the same zone according to the maps of the ice sheet advancement depicted by geologists and this, of course, would have been impossible! After all, as Cook concludes, “There would be enough hysteresis in global crustal adjustment and material flow patterns for any given ice age cycle to prevent any subsequent ice sheet from occupying the same zone as the one before it.”
    Thus, in answer to the question raised about when the “last” Ice Age occurred or ended, without getting too finite, it is that the Ice Age ended, or more accurately, began to recede not long before the Flood, the weight of the two-mile-thick ice sheet (though thinner at its edges), having led to the collapsing of the Earth’s crust, which is suggested in the scripture: “In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened (Genesis 7:11), obviously, as a result of the weight of these overpowering ice sheets.
It is also of interest to note that while the rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights (Genesis 7:12), but the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days (Genesis 7:24), and then decreased continually until the tenth month (Genesis 8:5), when the tops of the mountains were seen. Evidently, the waters of the Flood apparently kept right on increasing another 110 days after the rains stopped, then decreased for the next 150 days. Thus, it must be concluded that the fountains of the great deep was the primary cause of the continually increasing Flood waters. This is apparent, since a Flood so great a magnitude as to cover the highest contains to a depth of fifteen cubits, or 22 ½ feet, upward would have required something vastly different than mere torrential rains even for 40 days. Thus, the breaking up of the fountains of the great deep may, in fact, have been simply the earth cracking under tremendous, rapidly growing ice caps.
    In any event, the Flood and the division of the earth probably both occurring in the period between 2350 and 2250 B.C. as a result of the overpowering ice sheets as they receded and melted.
    As Parley P. Pratt wrote and Joseph Fielding Smith later quoted, “How far the flood may have contributed to produce the various changes as to the division of the earth into broken fragments, islands, and continents, mountains and valleys, we have not been informed—the change must have been considerable. But after the flood, in the days of Peleg, the earth was divide. A short history, to be sure, of so great an event: but still it will account for the mighty revolution, which rolled the sea from its own place in the north, and brought it to interpose between different portions of the earth, which were just parted asunder, and moved into something near their present form; this together with the earthquakes, revolutions, and commotions which have since taken place, have all contributed to reduce the face of the earth to its present state; while the great curses which have fallen upon different portions, because of the wickedness of men, will account for the stagnant swamps, the sunken lakes the dead seas, and great deserts” (Chapter V, Voice of Warning, W. Sandford, New York, 1837).
    Earlier in the same chapter, Pratt wrote: “When God had created the heavens and the earth, and separated the light from the darkness…God said, Let the waters under the heaven, be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so." From this we learn a marvelous fact, which very few have ever realized or believed in this benighted age; we learn that the waters, which are now divided into oceans, seas, and lakes, were then all gathered together, into one vast ocean; and, consequently, that the land, which is now torn asunder, and divided into continents and islands, almost innumerable, was then one vast continent or body, not separated as it now is.”
    The point is, what man knows, and this includes the “mainstream sciences,” and understands about the formation of the Earth and its makeup, is far from what God formed and where Adam and his descendants lived down to the Flood. What happened during the Flood and directly after, in the division of the Earth in Peleg’s time, and also during the Crucifixion, at least on the American continent, reshaped the world into what we now understand it to be—but not as it was before.
    Ideas, hypothesis, guesses, and theories of man not-with-standing, the Earth has undergone serious changes, and all happening within a very short time in various ages since its formation, about 13,000 years ago. That “mainstream science” has no clue to these events, and God’s works among men, is of little consequence to the actual history of this Earth.
    However, in the defense of this blog and many of its articles on this subject, in dealing with readers who happen to believe in “mainstream science” and its dates and geologic column, evolution, etc., we sometimes refer to their dates in order to counter their errors and misunderstandings of God’s works. It may not be the easiest for those knowing the fallacies of “mainstream science’s” errors, but it tends to being the correct argument into focus for those to whom it is mainly directed. Our apologies for any difficulties it causes to those who regularly follow this blog and agree, at least in part, with what is written here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dotting the “I”s and Crossing the “T”s – Part I

We received the following comment recently: “I know you believe in Noah's flood and a young earth, but you keep using these erroneous ages of 30,000 years, etc. If there was a Noah's flood then the Ice Age had to occur after the flood. If the Ice Age happened between 3,000 BC and 2350 BC then those dates are all wrong. So the question is was there a mile deep glacier at the time of the Jaredites in North America or do you believe the glaciers were gone by 10,000 BC?” I.T. 
    Response: In this two-part series, we will discuss some of the problems we encounter in dealing with this type of thing, for in most cases we are responding to comments from people who do believe in the accepted “mainstream science” belief of an ancient 4.55-billion-year-old Earth, and though we try to make it clear that we do not, we use their dates to show that their argument does not work on the points they raise.
    Obviously, when people who feel the Earth is much younger as such the reader who commented above, or as we do that it is about 13,000 years old, any argument with “mainstream science” beliefs is automatically discarded by such old Earth people, and any points being made are rejected as irrelevant. Consequently, to counter the comment(s) being made, we use their dating system to show that their points are not correct.
An earlier comment from a reader suggested a map much like this one where he claimed there were bays open to the Atlantic Ocean from the Great Lakes Area and that the St. Lawrence Valley was flooded, providing easy access to the Great Lakes

As an example, the previous three articles were in answer to a point made in an earlier reader’s comment that between the end of the last Ice Age and when Lehi reached the Great Lakes (in their theory): 1) The Great Lakes had access to the sea via large inland bays of the Atlantic that reached the Great Lakes area, and 2) That the St. Lawrence valley was flooded and provided a so-called river access from the sea to the Great Lakes.
    This, they claim, which was based on a couple of articles they read and submitted for “proof” of their view, and supported, they felt, their belief in Lehi and the Nephites settling in North America. Consequently, the previous 3-part series dealt with the view of “mainstream science” or a portion of it, using their dates and events, to show that their information was inaccurate and downright fallacious based on the best “mainstream science” available of the events they were describing.
    Consequently, “mainstream science” claims the last Ice Age “ended” between 13,000 B.C. and 10,000 B.C., or as some claim, “years ago,” making it between 11,000 B.C. and 8,000 B.C. We do not treat those dates as facts, merely as their starting point. Thus the arguments in the previous three articles showed that, according to “mainstream science,” there were no bays of the Atlantic Ocean stretching anywhere inland near the Great Lakes, that the Ice Age filled in the land clear to the present area of New York City, etc., and even at one time beyond—as an example, as found in K.O. Emery and L.E. Garrison, (Science Vol.167, 1967, p684; and A.C. Redfield, S. Redfield, p687), among other supporting factors, “evidence that the shore lines along the eastern sea coast of the U.S.A. were right out to the edge of the continental shelf at the beginning of the down warping stage only a few thousand years ago,” which would have covered the time frame of Lehi’s voyage.
    In addition, the St. Lawrence Valley was never so flooded as claimed, and that the river was pretty much as we know it today, both narrow and shallow, again showing that Lehi in Nephi’s ship could not have sailed from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Ontario.
Originally there was one great ice sheet in the Northern Hemisphere, which tore in two when Panagaea split from the weight of the ice and (yellow lines) dividing (dotted red arrows) forming two large ice sheets: 1) Laurentide in Canada, which included Cordilleran and Greenland sheets; and the Fennoscandia in Europe and Asia, which included Kara, Barents and Scandinavian sheets

As for the Ice Sheets, there were two great land masses formerly covered with ice which suddenly lost their ice caps and began suddenly to uplift in order to restore “isotosy” (vertical balance). These land masses comprise a great half-moon shaped, glacial denuded (“shield”) zone in northeastern Canada and another one in Europe and Asia called “Fennoscandia.”
    Both of these land masses began to rise (following a sudden denudation of ice) at precisely the same time and have followed identical land-rise curves ever since. They are both still in the process of vertical adjustment (uplifting) and will be so for some time yet because of the "relaxation time” of the earth’s crust is in the thousands of years (relaxation time is the time it takes for the Earth to relax to the changed surface mass distribution which in some cases is longer than the periods of ice cycles). The date assigned to the beginning of these famous uplifts was about 10,000 years ago (W. A. Heiskanen and F.A. Vening-Meinesz, The Earth and Its Gravity Field, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1958; and W.R. Farrand and R.T. Gajda, “Isobases of the Marine Limit in Canada,” Geological Bulletin, No.17, Canadian Dept of Mines and Technical Surveys, Ottawa 1962).
    Incontrovertible evidence shows that at one time a single land mass existed upon which both of these Ice Sheets were connected in a single Sheet. In fact, the detailed patterns of the uplifted regions themselves bear this out; the land masses inward from these shorelines have exhibited gradually decreasing uplifts. Therefore, the depressed continental shield zone under the ice caps would have sloped downward toward the present shorelines.
    Under such circumstances the ice caps could not have remained stable but would simply have slid off into the seas if the two land masses had not then been joined together.
    It should also be noted that the outermost “isobase” and the present arctic and Atlantic shorelines define a semi-circular-shaped zone in northeastern Canada with the straight part of the half circle corresponding to the shoreline. Similar “isobases” in Fennoscandia define a similarly shaped zone for that (also uplifting) region. Most remarkable is the fact that the two zones fit together to complete a roughly circular one when fitting the continents back together as they were before they were divided off from the original continent.
    Thus the two semi-circular-shaped zones form a roughly circular zone corresponding to a roughly circular single ice sheet for the northern hemisphere of Pangaea.
    In addition, Geological evidence developed in1937 by Dr. Alexis DuToit, South African geologist, and reviewed in 1961 by Dr. A.J. Eardley, Professor of Geology, University of Utah, showed that the split that initiated continental drift (a rift zone predicted as to location by Alfred Wegener many years before it was found and identified) began along these identical shorelines evidently at the southern tip of Greenland, forking northward to define this presently ice-bound continent, the Arctic in and the far northern Atlantic basin, and southward to Antarctica to define the most of the present Atlantic  basin and Atlantic shorelines.
    According to Melvin A. Cook, formerly of the University of Utah, “An ice cap of the size described by geologist for the ‘Wisconsin ice age’ was large enough to have caused the disruption of Pangaea. As a matter of fact, this is the only mechanism yet suggested which can account for the force required to rupture the earth’s approximately 20-mile thick crust and force apart its continental fragment the required several thousand miles” (Prehistory and Earth Models, Random House TBS, Colchester Essex UK, 1966).
    It should also be noted that “mainstream science” believes that there have been at least five major ice ages in the Earth's history (the Huronian, Cryogenian, Andean-Saharan, Karoo Ice Age, and the current Quaternary glaciation). It is claimed by “mainstream science” that the current ice age, called the Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation, started about 2.58 million years ago during the late Pliocene, when it is believed the spread of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere began. 
   Since then, it is claimed, the world has seen cycles of glaciation with ice sheets advancing and retreating on 40,000- and 100,000-year time scales called glacial periods, glacials or glacial advances. Further, that within the ice ages (or at least within the current one), more temperate and more severe periods occur. The colder periods are called glacial periods, the warmer periods interclacial periods, interglacials or glacial retreats, such as the claimed Eemian Stage (115,000 to 115,000 years ago).
(See the net post, “Dotting the “I”s and Crossing the “T”s – Part II,” for more information on this and why factual science shows that there was only one Ice Age.)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Were the Great Lakes Ever Open to the Atlantic? – Part III

Continued from the previous post regarding possible bays and inlets to the Great Lakes from the Atlantic Ocean in antiquity. 
    According to Dr. Joerg Schaefer, a researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, the rocks of New York City are a climate archive, and most New Yorkers are unaware that they are living in the middle of a glacial event park." On Long Island, in Manhattan and at locations up the Hudson River toward Albany, Dr. Schaefers three-scientist team are measuring the retreat velocity of the last glacier. What makes this possible for the first time is a new age-measuring technique that has one simple, but seemingly unreasonable, requirement: the testing of relatively clean surfaces that have been undisturbed for 18,000 years.
    According to Dr. Schaefer, evidence has been found of the glacier retreat in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem; Inwood and Morningside Parks on the West Side of Manhattan; a pristine glacial expanse in Harriman State Park; and even a truck-size glacial boulder in Port Jefferson, N.Y. (a parking lot was built around it, given its size). "It's spectacular that in such an urban setting, there are these completely ancient features."
Two glacial erratics that were transported by moving ice at the height of the Wisconsin glaciations when the Laurentide ice sheet coveted what is now New York City to a depth of about 1000 feet (Bruce Gervais and Jackie Phillips, Universities Space Research Association)
In Central Park, Dr. Schaefer has employed a new scientific tool called "cosmogenic dating," a pioneering way of measuring the age of landforms, finding much of the visible bedrock was shaped by ice, and unmodified glacial features abound include striations (abrasion grooves that show the flow direction from northwest to southeast), glacial polish (caused when rock was buffed by sediment), chatter marks (gouges in bedrock made by glacier-dragged stones), and erratics (boulders stranded on bedrock by the glacier, such as Umpire Rock south of Heckscher Ballfields to the east of West 62nd Street, by the pétanque court).
    "As you see the deep grooves, you can almost imagine these big boulders gouging out the bedrock," said Neil Calvanese, vice president for operations of the Central Park Conservancy, which manages the park under a contract with the city. Through the years, the park has attracted research endeavors from astronomy to environmental science, and the United States Geological Survey has monitored ground water in the park, and Lamont has also maintained a seismograph in the North Meadow.
An elongated asymmetrical landform called a roche moutonnee, showing the direction of flow of the ice (Bruce Gervais and Jackie Phillips, Universities Space Research Association)

The key to showing that this area east of the Great Lakes was landform following the retreat of the last ice age glaciers, is in the identifying of beryllium-10, an unstable isotope, or radionuclide, which forms in locations that have been struck by cosmic rays, including rock surfaces. As glacial ice retreated, "it opened up the rock to cosmic rays," Dr. Schaefer said. "An isotope is created at the moment the cosmic rays strike the rock, and when the surface is exposed, the clock begins ticking."
    The unstable isotope formed in the rock has a half-life of 1.5 million years, a rate of radioactive decay that can be measured. Beryllium-10 accumulates in quartz, which has veined much of New York City's bedrock, including the Manhattan schist that underlies Central Park. Precision in identifying glacially exposed quartz "is crucial in taking the samples," Dr. Schaefer said, not only to get the right data, but also because, at $500 to $2,000 per test, the geological team cannot afford to choose too many wrong outcrops.
    Therefore, an unconventional but decidedly low-tech research tool was a 1782 British Headquarters map from the occupation of New York in the Revolutionary War. The team referenced its depiction of Manhattan's streams, lakes and landforms while roaming Central Park to identify undisturbed glacial outcrops. Dr. Schaefer and his team chiseled out small pieces of quartz, numbered them with red marker, digitally photographed them and fixed their latitude and longitude with a global positioning unit. In the lab, the rock was pulverized and, in a complex process, beryllium-10 was isolated from contaminants, then measured with a mass spectrometer to determine how long ago it had been exposed to cosmic rays.
    "We can date the retreat of the glacier to within 500 years with prime samples," said Dr. Schaefer, who is a geochemist. He hopes to reconcile his glacial-dating techniques with the ages of Hudson River marine sediments and marsh sediments. And his team hopes that study of the British Headquarters map may yield clues about subglacial water channels and patterns of ice-sheet melting, which tended to dump erratics in north-south alignments. So far, the worldwide evidence indicates that "wherever we look, the glacier seems to have decided to retreat at the same time.
    Evidently, though it has been long believed that ice sheets took a long time to melt, glacial systems, according to Dr. Schaefer, their melt "may be much more quickly moving than we thought before, and they may react on pretty small climate changes in a very dramatic way. The indications are that the rate of collapse is faster than previously believed." Some scientists have theorized that the rapid melting of prehistoric glaciers could have triggered powerful climatic change. Eventually, as the last ice sheet melted, the planet entered the relatively warm, unusually stable interglacial era it currently enjoys.
    The obvious point in all this is to show that ideas of the landforms to the east of the Great Lakes region, between the lakes and the Atlantic coast, were never huge bays, open to the lakes after the last Ice Age around 10,000 B.C. Any discussion or historical factors submitted in defense of such a landform concept is against all scientific data that has been found and measured. Therefore, the argument that there was access from the sea to the Great Lakes other than the St. Lawrence River in any time frame involving either the Jaredites or Nephites is completely without merit and has no place in a serious discussion of how Lehi could have reached Lake Erie by ship in 600 B.C.
    In light of all this, and our recent series on the inland water systems of the eastern and southern United States areas, it seems well beyond time to discard the idea of a Heartland Model or Great Lakes Model as the location for the Land of Promisesince Nephis ship or any other vessel larger than a canoe, as has been thoroughly shown by experts, could not have reached either location from the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic coast.
    While all these articles may seem like extensive overkill on the subject, it should be noted despite all the various ways modern science and continued new discoveries of the impossibility of Lehi or anyone else in history sailing up the St. Lawrence River past Montreal, or up the Mississippi River past Baton Rouge, has been shown time and again to have been impossible for most any vessel, especially one with the deep draft necessary to cross oceans, dogged insistence by some theorists of such happening in order to prove their theories is completely ill-founded. It is time for such theorists to face this reality and stop burying their heads in the sands and believing something could have occurred that has been proven to have not been possible.