Science in Christian Perspective
Letter to the Editor
Dr. Key Responds ...
Thomas D. S. Key
1613 Forrest Lane
Bainbridge, GA 31717
From: JASA (December 1985): 256
I appreciate very much the response of Ellis Davis to my June, 1985 Communication on "A Biologist Examines the Book of Mormon." Dr. Davis is a Mormon, a former student of mine, and a good friend. I have many good Mormon friends.
"Irreantum" does not mean "many waters" (I. Nephi 17:5) in Hebrew, Egyptian, or any other Semitic language.
While it is certainly natural for travelers to give temporary names to places, yet the names unique to the Book of Mormon simply are not Hebrew, Aramaic, Egyptian, or of any other known languages.
Regarding Dr. Davis' explanation that "Deseret" (Ether 2:3) was from the Jaredites about 2,000-600 B.C., antedating the people of Lehi, and living prior to the confusion of languages at BabelUssher dates Babel at 2,247 B.C. and Abram's moving from Ur at 2126 B.C. And, Ussher is very conservative.
I would be interested in knowing more about the wooded spot in Arabia. My brother lived in Arabia for four years, and knows nothing about it even though he traveled widely. It was a geologist friend that told me that Arabia has possessed no rivers since the Pleistocene. It was he who said that the nearest thing to a river that Arabia ever had since the Pleistocene was certain intermittent wadis, certainly not "continually running" (L Nephi 3:9).
I would be interested to know some specific names of non-Mormon archaelogists who use the Book of Mormon as a guide in locating ruins in North America. While a student at University of California at Berkeley, I walked into the Office of the Department of Archaeology, and started asking questions like "Did North American Indians use swords, plows, highways, head-plates of metal, sickles, cement, chains, etc.?" The woman archaeologist answered my question with a question: "You are a Mormon, aren't you?" I said "No, but several of my good friends are, and they encouraged me to read the Book of Mormon." She said, "Well, I am a graduate of B.Y.U., and I was a Temple Mormon in Salt Lake City. When I saw how far off the Book of Mormon is in archaeology, I left the Church." She said that the answer to all of my questions is "No."
I asked the archaeologist if it is true that non-Mormon archaeologists rely on the Book of Mormon as a guide. She said that most are aware of it, but because of its numerous errors, none take it seriously.
While it is true that lemons, oranges, olives, pomegranates, figs, and other Middle Eastern plants thrive in parts of North America, all such plants are derived from those brought over by the Spanish and other modern Europeans.
Regarding Nephi,s quotation of Isaiah, why would he pick the KJV of Isaiah among all the English translations? Mormons rightly say they accept the Bible where it is correctly translated. However, the KJV wrongly translated many things, e.g., unicorns, satyrs, fiery flying serpents, apple tree, mulberry tree, Red Sea, barrel, raven and others too numerous to mention. But the Book of Mormon quotes the KJV errors without correcting them. What an excellent opportunity Joseph Smith would have had to prove he was a true prophet! Mormons insist that the B. of M. is correctly translated. Why did it not correct the errors of the KJV?
I cannot agree that Isaiah's terms, asp and cockatrice, are idiomatic names of North American snakes during the Millennium. They are too specific. He could have said "serpents" or "vipers"something more general.
It seems hardly likely that anything so common and so useful as neas, sheum, cureloms, and cumoms were said to be would be allowed to become extinct.
The rabbis I talked with said that the ancient Jews did not refer to their country as "the land of Jerusalem."
I would be interested in more specific information on blood types among certain Indian tribes that are similar to those of Hebrews.
I am puzzled about why my Mormon friends insist that the Book of Mormon is translated correctly when the original, a copy of which I read, had so many grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. If the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Bible had these, I would flatly reject the Bible as not inspired. Can any Mormon help me here?
We have no Middle Eastern fish or birds in North America that have not been brought here since Columbus.
The implied reproductive rate in the B. of M. is astronomical. The placement of animals of Asia Minor in the Americas is inexcusable as is the assertion that America's plants are from Asia Minor.
I appreciate the attempts of my former student and my good friend in answering the many scientific problems in the Book of Mormon, but as I see it all of the ones not discussed and practically all of the ones discussed still stand.