Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dates In The Book of Mormon

[from http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/the-genghis-khan-effect/]

8% of the men in  Central Asia carry this y-chromosome, half a percent of all men. One of the authors of that study made an interesting mistake: Chris Tyler-Smith, in an interview, said "We don't think that Genghis Khan was the common ancestor, because our best estimate of the time when the common ancestor lived was a few generations before he was born."

Now that's silly, because are big error bars in that kind of TMRCA, not least when you're doing Y-chromosomes with STRs, the state of the art at that time. If you found a piece of trinitite at Alamagordo and came up with a date of  1943 from some kind of radioactive dating, forget it: it was July 16th, 1945, 05:29:21 MWT (plus or minus 2 seconds)...

It seems to me that this error stems from geneticists thinking that genetic data is the only real data: sloppy genetic time estimates trump precise historical dates.  In much the same way, people (using the old too-high mutation rate) estimated that the split with Neanderthals was ~300,000  years ago, even though the fossil record clearly showed hominids in Europe shambling towards Neanderhood half a million years ago.  The new, lower estimates of the mutation rate have reconciled genetic and paleontological evidence on the split time  – but the geneticists should have realized that there was an inconsistency.

Unfortunately other disciplines have the exact same problem.

I would include "Biblical scholarship" among disciplines that can have this problem. Biblical scholars often estimate the reign of king Zedekiah as beginning around 597 BC, and the birth of Christ at somewhere between 1 and 5 BC. For pure Biblical scholars, that's fine, but for LDS Biblical scholars the more precise dates are available and should be preferred: Christ was born 600 years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem and 92 years into the reign of the judges. While there is some uncertainty as to how literally to take D&C 20 when it comes to the date of Christ's birth, when it comes to king Zedekiah, the Book of Mormon trumps the biblical scholarship estimates: 597 BC is wrong. We know this because the Book of Mormon date is not reconstructed from multiple historical sources, they were tracking this specifically as the foundation of their calendar. Unless you think that Nephites were total incompetents at basic arithmetic, you have to take this date more seriously than the indirect arguments which result in the 597 general consensus.


Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.
Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.
Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.
Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.
Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honor more.

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