Monday, March 20, 2017

Book of Mormon Anachronisms, Animals

2000 Stripling Warriors in The Book of Mormon

An anachronism is when something is placed in a story for a particular time period that did not exist historically for that place in time.  So, if I were writing a story about an author in the 18th century, and said he used his laptop to write his stories, that would be anachronistic.

Of course, having anachronisms in a book generally isn't an issue.  It becomes an issue though, when the book claims total authenticity and history.  On top of that, when the book claims to be "the most correct" of any book, translated by the power of God, you would have some certainty that everything in the book is real.  The Book of Mormon is no stranger to these anachronisms, and I never even knew it.

Why would I have ever known it?  The majority of Mormons are simpletons really, never really researching the stories in the Book of Mormon.  There was never a need to research them.  Again, I had known it was a True book from childhood.  Now, I had been tipped off to these concerns and I wouldn't be honest if I didn't look into them, and not just wave them off because the book is True.

I learned in church the Americas were populated by people who migrated over from the Middle East. That the first inhabitants of this land were the Jaredites around 2200 BCE. (Chapter 50: Ether 1-5Book of Mormon Student Manual (2009) and "Book of Mormon Time Line," Ensign October 2011.)  Then, the date Moroni buries the Plates into the ground is approximately 421 CE. Therefore, all the events that play out in the Book of Mormon are between 2200 BCE and 421 CE.  There was nobody in the Americas before 2200 BCE, according to everything I was ever taught growing up.

Horses play a common role in the Book of Mormon, and were found by Nephi and his family when they arrived in America:

"And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper." (1 Nephi 18:25)

Elephants to:

"And also all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man.

And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms." (Ether 9:18-19)

Horses simply did not exist in America during the Book of Mormon time period.  They died out about 10,000 years ago and did not reappear until the Spaniards came over to the Americas in the 15th and 16th century CE.  Mormon apologists will try to explain away these animal anachronisms by saying:

"Is "horse" in the Book of Mormon merely a matter of labeling by analogy some other quadruped with the name Equus, the true horse, or does the scripture's use of "horse" refer to the actual survival into very recent times of the American Pleistocene horse (Equus equus)? If, as most zoologists and paleontologists assume, Equus equus was absent from the New World during Book of Mormon times, could deer, tapir, or another quadruped have been termed "horse" by Joseph Smith in his translating?" (Reexploring the Book of Mormon, Once More: the Horse)

A Tapir
By even implying the horses in the Book of Mormon could be something else, misunderstood by Joseph, goes against everything Mormons are ever taught about the translation process of the Book of Mormon itself.  Even knowing about the stones in the top hat method, it is still taught Joesph saw the words in the hat and dictated what he saw.  His scribe would read back the words to ensure it was correct before they could move on.  So, if that were the case, would God, who was presumably providing the words to Joseph, be wrong and not understand the difference between a horse and a tapir?  It's one thing to see an animal, and not know what it is, so you use a word you do know to describe it, but another thing to have a perfect knowledge and still get it wrong.  The fact Joseph writes about a curelom and and cumon in the same passage tells me he can write down animal names he has no clue about.  Whatever a curelom and a cumon is, Joesph didn't use a modern word to try and describe this animal, so why would he do the same for a tapir?

Elephants are in the same boat as horses.  They are mentioned, but no evidence supports elephants being around during the time periods of the Book of Mormon.  The closest possibility are mastodons and mammoths, which even if Joesph simply mistranslated those, were extinct by the time the Jaredites came over from the Old World.

As far as goats and cattle are concerned, there is no evidence of domesticated cattle or goats to exist in the Americas before the 15th century.  There were bison and mountain goats, but those were not domestic animals, and the Book of Mormon even distinguishes between goats and wild goats. (Enos 1:21)

Again, if these animals are mentioned in a work not specifically claimed to be a perfect history, then it could be forgivable.  Even if these things were claimed to be misinterpreted by the authors themselves, like Nephi calling a tapir a horse because that's what he knew in Jerusalem, then you would at least expect a perfect God to correct that misunderstanding for Joseph.  It wasn't Joseph translating by reading the Plates and giving the English version to his scribe.  He was spoon fed the words from God.  And if God intentionally gave Joseph the wrong interpretation just to "try our faith", then God is simply a dick.

As I stated in my last post, the fact Joseph translated the Book of Mormon by non traditional methods isn't a problem for me.  It's when that reality is mixed with the errors within the Book of Mormon itself, it becomes an issue.  This is just the beginning of the Book of Mormon issues, and it was just the beginning of my realization the Book of Mormon was in reality, a work of fiction.

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