Volcanic Lightning and the Book of Mormon

Volcanic Lightning and the Book of Mormon February 10, 2018


Volcanic eruption with lightning
Indonesia’s Mount Rinjani erupts in 1994
(Wikimedia Commons public domain)


I received the following important communication from a correspondent who frequently writes to me, anonymously and pseudonymously, from his perch over at the predominantly atheist apostate website maintained by “Dr. Shades.”  As he sometimes does, he composed this latest treatise under the nom de plume of Nomen Nescio:


“weekend gorge-fest for pasterson glutton.  howfatcha blotus?”


This time, rather exceptionally, his composition contained no obscenities.




Some will find this interesting:


“How Do Volcanoes Make Lightning?”


I was immediately reminded of 3 Nephi 8:5-23, which seems to record a massive seismic event that probably involved volcanic eruption(s):


And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land.

And there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder.

And there were exceedingly sharp lightnings, such as never had been known in all the land.

And the city of Zarahemla did take fire.

And the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof were drowned.

10 And the earth was carried up upon the city of Moronihah, that in the place of the city there became a great mountain.

11 And there was a great and terrible destruction in the land southward.

12 But behold, there was a more great and terrible destruction in the land northward; for behold, the wholeface of the land was changed, because of the tempest and the whirlwinds, and the thunderings and the lightnings, and the exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth;

13 And the highways were broken up, and the level roads were spoiled, and many smooth places became rough.

14 And many great and notable cities were sunk, and many were burned, and many were shaken till the buildings thereof had fallen to the earth, and the inhabitants thereof were slain, and the places were left desolate.

15 And there were some cities which remained; but the damage thereof was exceedingly great, and there were many in them who were slain.

16 And there were some who were carried away in the whirlwind; and whither they went no man knoweth, save they know that they were carried away.

17 And thus the face of the whole earth became deformed, because of the tempests, and the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the quaking of the earth.

18 And behold, the rocks were rent in twain; they were broken up upon the face of the whole earth, insomuch that they were found in broken fragments, and in seams and in cracks, upon all the face of the land.

19 And it came to pass that when the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the storm, and the tempest, and the quakings of the earth did cease—for behold, they did last for about the space of three hours; and it was said by some that the time was greater; nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours—and then behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land.

20 And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could feel the vapor of darkness;

21 And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all;

22 And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.

23 And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; and there was great mourning and howling and weeping among all the people continually; yea, great were the groanings of the people, because of the darkness and the great destruction which had come upon them.


If you’re interested in reading more about some of the science behind the catastrophic events recorded among the Nephites at the time of the death of Christ, I heartily recommend this article by my long-time friend and BYU colleague, geologist Bart Kowallis:


“In the Thirty and Fourth Year: A Geologist’s View of the Great Destruction in 3 Nephi”


So far as I’m aware, Joseph Smith experienced no earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.  Presumably, though, he was a deep student of seismology and vulcanology . . .




Don’t forget the Interpreter radio show on Sunday night at 7 PM, Utah time, on K-Talk (1640 AM).  It’s also available online through the K-Talk website.



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