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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Across the Pacific in a Year--Without Oars, Sails, or Motor!

A Japanese fishing craft, lost during the tsunami of March 2011, turned up off the coast of North America  in March 2012. No one was on board.

This should quell some of the hysterical glee outsiders indulge in when they read (or, more likely, just hear about) the Book of  Mormon.

 The last section of the Book of Mormon, entitled Ether, is the account of a group of travelers who left from the Tower of Babel and came to the New World. According to Ether 6:11-12, it took 344 days to travel across the waters from the Eastern Hemisphere to the Western, nearly the same time it took the Japanese craft to cross.

The possibilities for humor in the name Ether prompted Mark Twain to quip that it is "chloroform in print."

The Japanese boat suggests clues to the answers to two important questions: 1) Can the Book of Mormon be substantiated? and 2) How did the first Americans actually get here?

Now no one is saying that the Jaredites were the first people on the American continents. We don't know when they lived, nor when the earliest inhabitants arrived. Ether claims that these people left the Tower of Babel, whenever that was, and eventually arrived in the New World.

Josephus (Antiquities Chapter 5) tells us that:

1. AFTER this they were dispersed abroad, on account of their languages, and went out by colonies every where; and each colony took possession of that land which they light[ed] upon, and unto which God led them; so that the whole continent was filled with them, both the inland and the maritime countries. There were some also who passed over the sea in ships, and inhabited the islands:
This by no means "proves" the Book of Mormon to be correct; it does, however, show that it could be correct.

Next: How did those intrepid earliest Americans get here? It was long thought that they walked across a land bridge, Beringia, from Asia. It still seems likely that many of them did, though there are now competing theories. I personally have no credentials to permit me to argue the subject. But common sense tells me that in the time before the enormous diesel engines crossing the great waters, either the Atlantic or Pacific, must have been possible. Why? Because in our day people do it all the time. Sometimes solo.

This is too big a subject to tackle here, so I will defer expressing my personal suppositions to a later time. But I will point out that in 1916, after the breakup in the ice of their ship Endurance, Sir Ernest Shackleton and five men of his crew rowed 800 nautical miles (1,500 km; 920 mi), from Elephant Island to South Georgia, in a 22.5' open boat  across the South Atlantic. This is no doubt the most horrifically dangerous ocean on earth, with hard winds and 8-meter (or more) waves. This feat makes crossing either the Pacific or the Atlantic in warm subtropical areas look like a walk in the park.

So stop giggling and actually read the Book of Mormon. Ether won't put you to sleep.

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