Explorer Thor Heyerdahl says his famous ocean drift voyages prove that voyages recounted in the Book of Mormon are possible, according to a BYU professor emeritus.
Paul R. Cheesman, BYU professor emeritus now living in St. George, Utah, attended the Explorers Club Conference in New York April 8, at which Heyerdahl was keynote speaker.Cheesman said the conference gave him the chance to renew a 20-year association with Heyerdahl. The two have conversed and exchanged letters and photographs relating to their respective studies.
During their conversation at the conference, Cheesman said, he asked the explorer if he had ever received a copy of the Book of Mormon.
"His response was: `I have received hundreds of them! I don't understand why your people work so hard at trying to convince people that the Book of Mormon is a correct record. I have already proven to the world that such a voyage as described in this book is perfectly possible,' " Cheesman reported Heyerdahl as saying.
Cheesman said he asked Heyerdahl if he had read the book, and the explorer replied: "I always read the parts that are underlined." Cheesman said he jokingly promised to send him a copy with everything underlined.
Heyerdahl drew worldwide attention in 1947 with his 101-day drift voyage aboard the balsa raft, Kon-Tiki, from Peru to the Tuamotu Islands in eastern Polynesia. A documentary of the voyage won an Academy Award for Heyerdahl.
In 1970, he led an expedition in his papyrus reed ship, Ra II (built in Egypt), from Morocco, across the Atlantic, to establish that Mediterranean vessels built before Columbus could have managed a one-way drift to ancient America.
The Book of Mormon tells of oceanic voyages by Lehi's family and other groups of people many years before the birth of Christ.