Wade E. Miller discusses "glass" in the Book of Mormon; proposes various types of glass for the transparent stones in Ether 3, such as fulgurite.

Wade E. Miller

Wade E. Miller, Science and the Book of Mormon: Cureloms, Cumoms, Horses and More (Laguna Niguel, CA: KCT & Associates, 2009), 11-13

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Glass is another of the items that Book of Mormon critics have used to discount the Book, stating that glass was not present in the Americas before the time of Columbus. Actually, glass is not mentioned as being in the New World by either the Jaredites or Nephites. Its mention only comes in the repeating of a chapter of Isaiah in 2 Nephi. “The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.” (Isaiah 3:23; 2 Nephi 13:23).

The only other place in the Book of Mormon where I could find a mention of glass in the Book of Ether. Here it’s stated that the brother of Jared, “ . . . did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as transparent glass . . . “ (3:1). A possible inference of glass is also recorded in Ether. Here the statement is, “What will ye that I [the Lord] should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed to pieces . . . “ (2:23).

Now, back to the critics. They have used the existence of glass in the New World as an argument against the validity of the Book of Mormon, claiming it wasn’t present in the Americas during this time. If so, then they have not read the Book carefully. As noted above, the glass (actually glasses) mentioned in the Nephite record is just a quote from Isaiah. The glass referred to in the Jaredite record was one made while these people were still somewhere in the Old World—not yet in the Americas. Some critics have said that there was no record of glass even in the Old World at the time of the Jaredites.

Therefore this, too, would cast doubts on the Book of Mormon being a true account. However, this is also a false ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian archaeological sites. Obtained dates for these go back over 3000 years B.C. (Diamond, 1953, p. 10: Macfarlane and Martin, 2002, p. 10). This significantly predates the Jaredite record.

Glass has actually been around in different forms before man was on earth. Volcanic glass it one type. It is not transparent, though, such as the kind listed in Ether (3:1). Another type of glass is produced when lightning strikes sand or a sandy soil. This kind of glass is known as a fulgurite. Thin pieces of fulgurite can be transparent depending upon the composition of the sand struck. However, this kind of glass is very irregular in shape, and difficult to work.

Another type of natural “glass” is isinglass. At one time it was commonly used for windows, especially in horse-drawn carriages of various types. This material is a mica called muscovite, which is usually “white and clear” as mentioned in the scripture above. If isinglass were the material considered by the brother of Jared for barge windows, these windows would have been “dashed in pieces” (Ether 2:23), if strong waves struck them. However, it just isn’t known whether the Jaredites were able to produce glass or not. But since there is no record of them actually producing or having (glass) in the New World, there can be no valid criticism regarding this issue.

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