Taylor Halverson: 3 questions and 3 myths about the Americas before Columbus arrived

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  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 14, 2016 3:51 p.m.

    (continued), another commonly mispreached idea is that all Native Americans were decedents of the Lamanites, science can conclusively show far more civilizations than the two discussed in the Book of Mormon; but that doesn't mean those two civilizations did not exist.

    In fact, even since I was a child from reading I suggested looking closer at the Amazon; and I was not wrong; current archeological evidence shows a lot in the Amazon that bears up statements by the Book of Mormon. But, sure you may claim no smoking gun as it were.

    Some people proclaim DNA evidence disproves the Book of Mormon; but from all I have read that is misguided as well. I have understood that maternal DNA is what is used when dating back hundreds of generations; and the study in question was based on Native American DNA compared to Judean DNA. But the Lamanites were not Judean; they were from another house of Israel by a different mother in a time polygamy was common enough.

    I have reason to believe that the Book of Mormon is true; those people did exist; but it is not meant to be a complete and accurate history of all American civilizations.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 14, 2016 3:40 p.m.

    @ Ernest T and skeptic,

    I knew on an article about pre-columbian civilizations someone would bring up arguments as to why they feel the Book of Mormon is wrong. Before I delve into my observations let me first state that I recognize that many Mormons (historical and current) have preached things that science can now identify as incorrect; but that is simply because they had only revelation pertaining to their knowledge to rely on. Revelation comes line upon line by study and to mans current knowledge.

    One of the most common claims is that horses did not exist in the Americas prior to Columbus. Yet, archeological digs have turned up per-columbian pictographs of animals that resemble horses. Science might say they weren't even the same species as horses; but such animals (beasts of burden) most certainly existed.

    If Joseph Smith had translated the word as "glinkan" (just a made up example) instead of the word "horses" (Alma 20:6) no one would have known what it was; and it would have made no sense to people of his day. But, by translating it as "horse" we know that they used such animals.

    To be continued

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    Oct. 13, 2016 7:58 p.m.

    The books 1491, about the Americas before Columbus, and its sequel, 1493, about the world-changing consequences for not only the Americas and Europe, but also Asia, of migration and trade around the world, are fascinating insights. The fact that modern science is only now discovering entire swaths of early American civilizations that were previously unknown tells me that there is lots of room in the history of the Americas for new discoveries about the people who lived there before 1492, including room for the entire story of the two cultures depicted in the Book of Mormon. Anyone who claims that archeologists now know EVERYTHING that can EVER be known about the Americas before 1492 is a patently false assertion.

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    Oct. 13, 2016 3:27 a.m.

    Reality: The New World may have been populated with as many as 100 million people before Columbus. Old World diseases may have wiped out 95 percent of the population.

    Racist myths: 1 Nephi 13:14-15, Ether 2:9-10, 13:2

  • Abeille West Haven, UT
    Oct. 12, 2016 5:29 p.m.

    "It's sad to see this subjectivity used to support your ideology after the fact, rather than to let the science reveal the past as it was."

    And yet that same "subjectivity" is used as "science" in order to "disprove" the Book of Mormon (see Ernest T. Bass, Silver Stingray, and Skeptic above). While you lament the 'subjectivity used to support [our] ideology after the fact...' I lament the subjectity used to support your ideology before the fact, rather than letting time reveal the past as it was. I agree - archeology is not an exact science. Those who hold science (including archeology) as the ultimate answer find that, in time, the tidbits they used to attack the BOM are disproved. Instead of learning from this and recognizing scientific evidence disproved, most go on to the next 'tidbit' and continue to attempt to 'prove' the BOM wrong while ridiculing believers with 'Santa Clause' and the 'Easter Bunny'. Shall we ridicule those who rely on science so heavily by bringing up the pseudo-science that created the 'Mini Ice Age' scare of the 1980s? No. We should treat each other better.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    Oct. 10, 2016 5:01 p.m.

    "It never happened, they never existed, it is a spiritual fable." In the same vain prove millet was grown in America, other than one priests writing. Prove the Book of Mormon people never existed, never happened, and is simply a fable.

    You can no more prove it didn't than I can prove to you it did. And no I don't expect you to believe, but why are you offended that I do?

    We are now learning ancient Polynesians traded with civilizations along the coast of Peru. Who were the Viracochas, of Inca legends. Why do researchers think there were early inhabitants of South America that may have been descended from Carthinagians and Celtic ancestory? There is a lot to learn about the many peoples of South and North America and science is just scratching the surface.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Oct. 10, 2016 2:42 p.m.

    I respectfully disagree with you; it is not an attack on the BOM. It is a question of the validity of the history of the Isreal people and the lamanite American Indian that are portrayed and the subject of the book. It never happened, they never existed, it is a spiritual fable. But one shouldn't be required to believe it is true history, anymore than one should be required to believe Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy are real. What is wrong with knowing or admitting the truth. If I am wrong, then please prove me wrong. Otherwise, do a little research and fact checking and learn the truth for yourself.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    Oct. 10, 2016 2:01 p.m.

    An early Spanish missionary wrote about the successful cultivation of millet here in the Americas. Four centuries later there is no evidence of the millet or cultivation of that millet he wrote about. Does that mean it didn't exist.

    In the America's, with populations moving often, maze was a better and more productive use of resources.

    Evidence of cultivated barley has been found in North America when it was previously not believed to exist.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    Oct. 10, 2016 1:41 p.m.

    Interesting how an article about a book that shows the changing understanding of about the peoples of North and South America from previous incorrect beliefs, is turned into an attack on the BOM and the church.

    "It's sad to see this subjectivity used to support your ideology after the fact, rather than to let the science reveal the past as it was. Is not what the book 1491 is doing, revealing the past as it was, removing subjective interpretation of past beliefs.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Oct. 10, 2016 9:18 a.m.

    It supports science revealing that the BOM is a fantacy and not a reality. Since the BOM is not a true physical history of Isreal immigrants to the Americas, then what is its basis, the church should give a true explanation.

  • Silver Stingray St. George, UT
    Oct. 10, 2016 9:08 a.m.

    Where was the wheat, the steel and the horses?

  • Homer1 MIDVALE, UT
    Oct. 9, 2016 11:57 p.m.

    "1491" is a fascinating book, with new ideas supported by modern archeaology and other sciences such as satelite photo analysis and DNA work, that significantly alter our past "myths" or notions about pre-columbian life. I appreciate how Charles Mann normalizes the pre-hispanic peoples as humans instead of romanticizing the "noble savage" or diminishing their lives as mere primitives from the stone age.

  • wwhitlock Apple Valley, CA
    Oct. 9, 2016 6:38 p.m.

    Charles Mann's work is fascinating. The follow up book "1493" goes further. He develops the idea that the first contact made by Columbus was actually the beginning of a new age in the history of the world. He proposes the name homogeneocene era and supports it well.
    Truly, the world today is vastly different than the one in which Columbus lived.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 9, 2016 6:10 p.m.

    Interesting fact: those European diseases that wiped out so many natives came from livestock, sheep, cattle, etc. The same livestock that supposedly existed in South America per a locally famous book.

  • casual observer Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 9, 2016 10:50 a.m.

    The ethic of Native Americans as it was for all civilizations is the law of conquest. We occupy a particular land because we conquered it. Mythologizing the Nobel Savage was a construct of English politicians.

  • Sneaky Jimmy Bay Area, CA
    Oct. 9, 2016 10:35 a.m.

    The review is accurate, but the book 1491 is only a beginning. The civilizations of north and south America were many, varied and complex. So complex that we are just starting to realize how amazing these civilizations were. If religion inspires you to investigate this subject, then that's as good a motivtor and anything

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Oct. 9, 2016 9:53 a.m.

    To quote a character in the first 'Indiana Jones' movie, archaeology is not an exact science.
    It's sad to see this subjectivity used to support your ideology after the fact, rather than to let the science reveal the past as it was.