Criticisms: Ether/Moroni

Criticisms: Ether/Moroni

Ether 2:2. Old World vs. New World Fish

Though the Book of Mormon has the Jaredites bringing fish with them (Ether 2:2), the species of fish found in the Old and New Worlds are not identical, suggesting that New World species were not brought by the Jaredites.

Moroni Plates Cumorah MormonThe passage says that “they did also prepare a vessel, in which they did carry with them the fish of the waters,” but this was when they first left their homeland, traveling overland. Following that, they spent “many years . . . in the wilderness” (Ether 3:3) and lived four years on the seashore before constructing barges to bring them across the ocean (see Ether 2:13-14). By the time they prepared to cross the ocean, they brought into their barges “flocks and herds, and whatever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them” (Ether 6:4), but fish are not mentioned.

Ether 2:3. Jaredite Bees

The Book of Mormon notes that the Jaredites brought honey bees with them from their homeland (Ether 2:3). But the honeybee was actually brought to the New World after the arrival of Europeans.

The Book of Mormon never says that the Jaredites brought bees with them to the New World, only that they carried them during their Old World travels. They spent “many years . . . in the wilderness” (Ether 3:3) and lived four years on the seashore before constructing barges to bring them across the ocean (see Ether 2:13-14). (Read More)

Ether 2:16-18. Glowing Stones in the Jaredite Barges

Ether 2:16-18 informs us that the Jaredites built barges “according to the instructions of the Lord,” but the Lord evidently forgot to tell them how to provide both air and light inside the barges and had to be approached by the brother of Jared about these matters (Ether 2:19-21; 3:1, 4, 6). Is the Lord really so forgetful? And why should he respond to every whim of the brother of Jared?

The Lord is, of course, not forgetful, but he does not always give complete instructions. Instead, he gives us a chance to think for ourselves, in order to learn. (Read More)

Ether 2:23 Windows in the Jaredite barges

The mention of windows that could be “dashed in pieces” in Ether 2:23is anachronistic, since glass windows were not invented until Roman times.

The term “window” originally referred to an opening through which the wind could enter. It is found 42 times in the King James version of the Bible, but, of course, does not refer to glass windows as we know them. (Read More)

Ether 6:4. New World vs. Old World Animal Species

The Jaredites, who lived in the region before the Nephites and Lamanites, brought with them on their ocean-going barges “food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them” (Ether 6:4). Yet the animal species known from the New World are not the same as those known in the Old World from which the Jaredites supposedly came.

It is possible that the Jaredites brought animals on board the barges only for food during their lengthy ocean voyage. We do not know if any of them survived to arrive in the New World, nor do we know if they were domestic fowl or a mixture of domestic and wild fowl. The Book of Mormon does not claim that American animal species descended from animals imported by the Jaredites or any other people, and we should be careful not to read this into the text. Once settled in the New World, the Jaredites had a number of domesticated animals (Ether 9:18-19; see also Ether 9:31; 10:12), but we cannot be sure which of these, if any, came on the barges and which were domesticated from native American stock. (Read More)

Ether 6:5 etc. The Jaredite Ocean Crossing

With a “furious wind” that “did never cease to blow towards the promised land” (Ether 6:5, 8) pushing them across the ocean, the Jaredites should have arrived much sooner than the 344 days-nearly a year-it took them to cross (Ether 6:11).

The furious wind caused them to be “tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind” (Ether 6:5), but only “while they were upon the waters” (Ether 6:6), for “they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them” (Ether 6:6). While thus buried, the winds could have had little effect upon their vessels. We must also remember that these were not vessels with sails and were therefore dependent on the waves and especially ocean currents. (Read More)

Ether 9:19. Elephants in the New World

The Book of Mormon mentions elephants being useful to the Jaredites (Ether 9:19), yet the only elephant species to have existed in the Americas, the mammoth and the mastodon, died out many centuries before Book of Mormon times.

The Book of Mormon text does not even suggest that elephants were ever numerous, only that at one time they were “useful unto man” (Ether 9:19). This may suggest that some species of the mammoth or the mastodon survived in the Jaredite region into at least the third millennium BC, but then afterward became extinct in the region inhabited by Book of Mormon peoples due to climactic changes. There is a variety of evidence that suggests that limited species of mastodon or mammoth may have indeed survived in scattered regions of the New World until fairly recent times. For example, some have argued that elephants are depicted in pre-Columbian Mayan art in Mexico. Even more significant, for Book of Mormon purposes, is the fact that mammoth and horse bones discovered near Saint Petersburg, Florida, were radiocarbon-dated to about 100 BC. The remains of a butchered mastodon ¬†found in Ecuador were dated to the first or second century AD from pottery found on the site. Lumps of charcoal used to cook parts of the animal (whose bones had burn traces) were subsequently radiocarbon dated to ca. AD 150. (More)

Ether 15:29-32. Shiz Gasping for Breath

The description of Shiz raising up on his hands and gasping for breath after having been decapitated is impossible (Ether 15:29-32).

M. Gary Hadfield, M.D., Professor of Pathology (Neuropathology) at the Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, Virginia, has written:

Though the combatants in this story were well acquainted with wholesale carnage, Shiz’s unique death struggle was so astonishing that his throes were reported in grisly detail. Perhaps Ether and Coriantumr interpreted this astounding incident as a sign of Shiz’s indomitable fighting spirit or refusal to die. However, Shiz’s death struggle illustrates the classic reflex posture that occurs in both humans and animals when the upper brain stem (midbrain/mesencephalon) is disconnected from the brain. (Read More)

Moroni 8:8-10. Sinless State of Children

The Book of Mormon teaches that little children are are without sin (Moroni 8:8-10), but children, like adults, suffer grief, sorrow and pain, which are all effects of sin. The Bible says that death is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23; cf. Romans 5:12-21; Ephesians 2:3; 1 Corinthians 15:56) and that, “the soul that sinneth it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:21), yet children die. How can we explain this?

There is a big difference between suffering the effects of mortality and being responsible and accountable for sin. Death and its effects entered the world as a result of Adam’s transgression, which brought all mankind under the effects of the fall, from which we could never escape without the atonement of Christ. The apostle Paul made it clear that “sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Romans 5:13; cf. Romans 7:7; Alma 42:17). Small children are not capable of fully understanding God’s laws. (Read More)