FairMormon is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of LDS doctrine, belief and practice.
Pergunta: Como é possível que houve três dias de escuridão no Novo Mundo e não no Velho Mundo?
Question: How is it possible that there were three days of darkness in the New World and not in the Old World?
The three days of darkness are consistent with a massive volcanic and seismic eruption
Some argue that the "three days of darkness" in the New World following Christ's death is implausible. However, 3 Nephi 8:5-25 provides a detailed description consistent with a massive volcanic and seismic eruption. Such details are precise for both ancient and modern accounts, though they would have been unknown to Joseph Smith.
Remarkably, one of the models most favored by LDS scholars (Sorenson's Mesoamerican model) has candidate eruptions which are largely restricted to the proper time period.
The three days of darkness is consistent with a period of intense volcanism. This explanation of the darkness has been particularly popular among those who advocate a limited geographical model of the Book of Mormon. Most LGT models place Book of Mormon lands in central America; this area is well-known for active seismic activity.
One author suggested:
- The basic cause of the destruction was a tremendous seismic upheaval.
- Numerous destructive mechanisms were involved, but rain was not one of them.
- The accompanying period of darkness was caused by an immense local cloud of volcanic ash.
- The unprecedented lightning was due to electrical discharges within the ash cloud.
- The intense thunder was due both to the lightning and to the rumbling of the earth due to seismic movements.
- The vapor of darkness (1 Nephi 12:5; Predefinição:Sv) and the mist of darkness (3 Nephi 8:20) were volcanic ash and dust stirred up by the quaking of the ground.
A concentration of dense volcanic gases (carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide) at ground level is sufficient to prevent igniting of the kindling and to cause suffocation
The inability to ignite the exceedingly dry wood is interesting in view of the fact that a few people are also described as dying from suffocation during the period of destruction which preceded the period of darkness (3 Nephi 10:13). This suggests that in some regions the concentration of dense volcanic gases (carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide) at ground level was sufficient to prevent igniting of the kindling and to cause suffocation. The uncle of Pliny died of suffocation as a consequence of a volcanic eruption.
Volcanic eruptions could have accompanied the violent earthquake described in 3 Nephi
James Baer notes that volcanic eruptions could have accompanied the violent earthquake described in 3 Nephi. He notes that these would have made the atmosphere dark with dust and cinders and would have released carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and sulfurous gases, which would have been suffocating and could have made fire kindling impossible.
The "mist of darkness" and "vapor of darkness" is consistent with the falling of volcanic ash
Another mechanism, however, seems an equally likely explanation of the inability to ignite the dry tinder. If one assumes that sparks from flint were the common method of starting fires, then the heavy ash fall could have been effective in preventing ignition. This heavy ash fall also offers a likely explanation for the terms mist of darkness and vapor of darkness used in 1 Nephi 12:4–5.
There is evidence dating volcanic eruptions in Mesoamerica to the proper timeframe
Given the wide variety of geographic models proposed for the Book of Mormon, there is obviously not evidence of volcanism in all areas, especially at the proper (i.e., at around AD 30, at Christ's death). (If the volcanic hypothesis for the three days' darkness is true, this provides one data point which can exclude many models, including a hemispheric or exclusively North American model.)
However, Sorenson's Mesoamerican model has been noted to have some interesting features in this regard: volcanoes do exist in the proper area, and these volcanoes have been shown by modern dating to have erupted only during two periods during the past 8600 years (3% of the time):
- 1230–1190 BC [too early]
- 30 BC – AD 170 [matches the circa AD 30 eruption at Christ's death]
Thus, Sorenson's model could have been easily disproven by these data, but was not.
Furthermore, ice core data is consistent with a major volcanic event at the time of Christ's death, within the margin of error provided by the dating measurements, though it is not at present possible to determine the location of these eruptions.
- Russell H. Ball, "An Hypothesis concerning the Three Days of Darkness among the Nephites," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993): 107–123. off-site PDF link wiki
- Russell H. Ball, "An Hypothesis concerning the Three Days of Darkness among the Nephites," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993): 107–123. off-site PDF link wiki (italics in original); citing James Baer, "The Third Nephi Disaster: A Geological View," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 19 no. 1 (Spring 1986), 129–132.
- "Book of Mormon Geophysics," mormonmatters.org (28 August 2010) off-site
- Benjamin R. Jordan, "Volcanic Destruction in the Book of Mormon: Possible Evidence from Ice Cores," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12/1 (2003): 78–87. off-site PDF link wiki