Monday, August 03, 2009

Problem with Jaredites?

I saw a video on YouTube the other day criticizing the Book of Mormon over the perceived absurdity of the Jaredite ocean crossing to America. The critic indicated that part of the reason he could not take the Book of Mormon seriously was the implausibility of the Jaredite ocean crossing. According to the Book of Mormon about 22 people crossed the ocean to the Americas in 344 days in 8 barges. According to the critic, he thought that at 10mph the Jaredites would have been able to circumnavigate the globe 3 1/2 times in that time span. Also the critic thought it absurd that the account said there were about 22 people. He said that after 344 days shouldn't someone have enough time to get a head count. He also questioned the apparent lack of bathroom facilities as well as the wisdom of traveling with honeybees.

1. Speed of Journey: the assumption that a barge should travel even close to 10 mph without sails is an incorrect assumption. The swiftest ocean currents flow at 3-4 knots. Barges would travel even slower because of inertial drag. The fastest racing sailboats to this day have not averaged 10 mph when crossing the ocean.
2. Sanitation Concerns: 22 people with animals on small barges creates sanitation issues. Because the Jaredites arrived in America together, it's not a stretch to assume the barges were connected together by ropes making transfer from one barge to another easy. Therefore it would also be reasonable to assume animals and cargo were stored in certain barges and people in another. Additionally we must remember that the barges had watertight doors on top and bottom. If you stop the top door and open the bottom, water does not rush in and displace the air because the air cannot escape. Therefore what this creates it a "moonpool" in the bottom of the barge which would serve very effectively for waste elimination and fishing.
3. Head Count: the critic doesn't like that the book of Ether says there were about 22 souls in the barges. What the critic forgets is that neither the Brother of Jared, nor Ether wrote the Book of Ether in the Book of Mormon which contains this account. Ether was a summary of the Jaredite Plates by Moroni who is the son of Mormon who lived thousands of years after the event. It is probable the account written second-hand by Ether listed names but didn't give an exact headcount. Moroni also says children were born en route which could also explain why he says there were "about" 22 souls.
4. Honeybees: lastly the critic of the Jaredites had a problem with them possibly taking honeybees with them. In his mind he pictured a journey lasting 344 days without bathroom facilities, animal and human excrement all over, violent storms constantly tipping the barges over and over, with swarms of angry stinging honeybees aboard. However, what the critic overlooks is that native-American species of honeybees are stingerless. Only after Europeans arrived did they bring over the familiar stinging European honeybee because it had been developed to produce more honey. Search for "melipona" for more info on the American stingless honeybee.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

umm...the mellifera arrived post-BoM timeframe (thanks google). now, there is Apis Nearctica discovered in the Americas, but that dates to 14 million years ago. do ever feel guilty about your bold-face lies? You should probably stick to medicine...

Morgan Deane said...

So in short, the criticisms don't hold water (pun intended) when you actually read what the BoM has to say about it and think about the implications of those details.

BRoz said...

Before jumping to the conclusion that I am intentionally lying, yes Apis mellifera (European honey bee) arrived in the new world after columbus. What I am referring to is a completely different genus (melipona) of stingless honey bee that is native to the Americas. It is more likely the Jaredites brought swarms of stingless bees with them to the Americas.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that even today bees are transported all over the country without problems. They are confined to their hives and then opend on site. It is not an issue for me and I don't believe it was an issue in the past.

BRoz said...

I don't have a problem with stingers either but the account seemed to say the barges might get tipped over and the critic had a problem with being in a confined space with swarms of angry bees.

But the facts are that pre-columbian honeybees from the genus Melipona are Stingerless and are a very common bee from Mexico to south America. Colonist only brought over the stinging european Apis melliferis because it had been developed to produce more honey. But there are many plants and trees like vanilla that can only be pollenates by the stingless Melipona. So my point is that a stingless species may be what the Jaredites brought and therefore the story should not be considered absurd.

Michael A. Cleverly said...

Moonpool is a word I don't recall ever having heard before reading your post tonight.

Wikipedia has an article on moon pools which includes an illustration showing four configurations labeled A thru D. The hole in the bottom of the Jaredite barges could have been examples of either B (at the waterline) or C (below the waterline, given the barges were air tight when the top hole was plugged up).

Interesting stuff. Thanks for teaching me a new vocabulary word. :-)

Glenn Smith said...

My imagination suggests the Jaredite "barges, boats, submarines" had a swinging floor in them that always remained level. Otherwise, when the barges overturned*, all contents would come crashing down. The outer hull could spin around as pushed by the water. I like the term "moon pool" to describe the bottom door opening. If the seas were in turmoil**, the barges could have traveled many more miles than a direct line would suggest.

Re bees, and, jumping a time warp, domestic and non-domestic animals on the Ark, I expect the Spirit of the Lord had a calming influence on all such creatures while traveling on the sea. Stingers, or not, the bees, etc. could have been quiet, in the hives, during the voyage.

Re: head count. Ether 6:16 ...the friends of Jard and his brother were in number about twenty and two souls... Assuming the count was similar to the Bible counting of men only, then 24 men (Jared, his brother and 22 friends) plus wives (likely 24) their sons and daughters (number unknown). Were Jared's four sons named in verse 14 counted among the friends or additional????. Were the sons old enough to be married? Have children? How old was Jared? His brother?

Re: tied together. Perhaps, but I imagine a rope snapping in the storms, or by monsters or whales (Ether 6:10). Perhaps, simply, the hand of the Lord kept them gathered together.

* Ether 2:20 I read into this that either hole may be unstopped to let air into the barge. So, if the hull spun in the water, how would the people, animals and cargo remain level (not tumbled every where)?

** Ether 2:20 ...water come in upon thee...
Ether 2:23 ...cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces...
Ether 2:24 ...the mountain waves*** shall dash upon thee...up again out of the depths of the sea...
Ether 6:5-7 ...when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them...

***Just watch an episode of "Deadliest Catch" on the Discovery Channel, or the movie, "The Perfect Storm".

Anonymous said...

More information on the Melipona Bee and the Jaredite "Deseret" connection can be found at
http://www.nativebees.com/melipona.html