Few observers would deny that the most fantastic American discovery of all time was the Book of Mormon.
Maybe the word "discovery" is not quite correct, because the golden plates upon which the original document was inscribed were actually handed over to Joseph Smith in 1827 by the angel Moroni. What I'm trying to say is: Can we seriously use the term "discovery" in the case of a holy gift from a heavenly creature? Long ago, there was a good old English word, derived from the Latin noun inventio (the act or faculty of discovery), that served perfectly well for great findings of this kind. For example, after Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in the year 327 and unearthed the true cross of Jesus (along with the crown of thorns and some nails), her amazing exploit was referred to formally as the Invention of the Cross. Since then, this usage of the term "invention" has become obsolete. So, there would be a danger of being misunderstood if one were to speak of the invention of Moroni's document.
A few decades after the Moroni event, reports of another miraculous American discovery started to appear in the press... and they still do. I'm referring to sightings of an extraordinary creature known today as Bigfoot. [Click the photo to access the Wikipedia page on this amazing subject.] Superficially, Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, looks like a large hairy ape, but there are strong arguments for considering this humanoid creature as a cousin of Man: a kind of surviving Neanderthal.
Yesterday, at Palo Alto in California (site of the prestigious Stanford University), there was an extraordinary press conference about the latest Bigfoot sighting.
It's all rather secretive, in the sense that the three men behind this press conference did not actually bring along any biological samples of the Bigfoot corpse they claim to have discovered... which remains stored in a refrigerator at an unidentified location.
Various aspects of this latest Bigfoot affair seem to fall into place once you visit the shopping section of the trio's website [click the lapel pin, which can be purchased for $6.50, or a dozen for forty bucks]. It would appear that the three discoverers are associated with this commercial affair. In any case, two of them turned up wearing Bigfoot caps... priced $24.99 on the website. It goes without saying that this website would become a tremendous money-making affair... if only a real specimen of the legendary beast were to be found.
Incidentally, reading between the lines of his excellent The Ancestor's Tale, I have the impression that Richard Dawkins doesn't believe in Bigfoot. That's hardly surprising. Dawkins doesn't even believe in God.
As for me, I think that we should believe in both of these great American discoveries: the angel Moroni and the ape man Bigfoot. Clearly, if God didn't intend us to believe in these creatures, then why did He put them on Earth and allow them to be discovered? That's the solid line of reasoning I used in my decision, long ago, to wear glasses... along with the fact that they help me to see things better. If God didn't intend us to wear glasses, then why did He provide us with a nose and a pair of ears?