Scriptural historicity: not taking it too literal

In Gospel Doctrine and Essentials classes, we are discussing Creation, Falk, etc.

Fundamentalist Christians, which includes some Mormons, insist on literal historicity of all scripture,, including the early chapters of Genesis. This causes clashes with science on various issues, including creatio ex nihilo (creation from nothing), evolution, and the age of the earth.

I have no problem with people have personal beliefs regarding any of this. For me, the problem lies in picking and choosing what will be taken literally/historically and what isn’t.

For example, many Young Earth Creationists (YEC) demand we believe in a 6000 year old earth, with dinosaurs dying in the Great Flood or a deception placed in the soil by Satan. Most of the YEC are not consistent, however. Genesis 1 is based on a flat earth, domed above by an expanse of water, with the lights (Sun, moon and stars) planted into the revolving dome. Surrounding the land are the oceans. Below or underneath, one finds another expanse of water and Sheol. All of this was supported on great pillars connecting earth and sky.

If we are to reject a 14 billion year old earth, evolution and other science because of a literalistic view of Genesis 1, should we not also reject a round earth that revolves around a Sun that revolves around a galaxy of 200 billion stars (many of them billions of years old), etc.?

Shouldn’t we question the claims that men have walked in space and on the moon, and sent Voyager I outside our solar system, beyond the thin expanse of sky and into the great waters above, according to ancient belief?

Do we ignore the consistent dating given by science via various methods of measurement? What about living trees that exceed 6000 years of life (ring counts) by thousands and even tens of thousands of years? Did Satan plant those trees, as well as dinosaur bones in order to deceive us? Where exactly in scripture does it teach us about such deceptions? Or is it all speculation based on a poorly understood teaching God gave to ancient peoples, not to teach them history and science, but to give them a symbolic beginning.

The Creation describes God’s creation of a cosmic temple. Ancient temples, whether Solomon’s, Baal’s, Zeus’, or of any other god, represented the cosmos and Creation. Many ancient cultures had a sacred Year Rite, where the king (sometimes also including his people) would be enthroned in the temple as a divine son of God. Some enthronement psalms suggest the Israelites also practiced the Year Rite.

The focus was not on a literal history, but on important symbols that connected man with God.

I believe much of the Bible to be based on historical peoples, though the stories may be based on myth and symbols, rather than actual history. I believe the same of the Book of Mormon, knowing Mormon was writing on things that occurred centuries before, and seeking to make sense of things unknown to him personally (would Mormon’s Book of Lehi contain many Hebrew culture ideas and views, vs Mesoamerican cultural understandings)?

It is good the LDS Church has no official position on evolution, creation, dinosaurs, etc. It allows each of us to determine for ourselves what we choose to believe. The scriptures can hold greater spiritual power for us, as we focus on what is spiritually important. And we don’t have to pick and choose on the exactness of historicity of scripture – forcing us to believe in a flat earth simply because ancient traditions held them.



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About rameumptom

Gerald (Rameumptom) Smith is a student of the gospel. Joining the Church of Jesus Christ when he was 16, he served a mission in Santa Cruz Bolivia (1978=1980). He is married to Ramona, has 3 stepchildren and 7 grandchildren. Retired Air Force (Aim High!). He has been on the Internet since 1986 when only colleges and military were online. Gerald has defended the gospel since the 1980s, and was on the first Latter-Day Saint email lists, including the late Bill Hamblin's Morm-Ant. Gerald has worked with FairMormon, More Good Foundation, LDS.Net and other pro-LDS online groups. He has blogged on the scriptures for over a decade at his site: Joel's Monastery ( He has the following degrees: AAS Computer Management, BS Resource Mgmt, MA Teaching/History. Gerald was the leader for the Tuskegee Alabama group, prior to it becoming a branch. He opened the door for missionary work to African Americans in Montgomery Alabama in the 1980s. He's served in two bishoprics, stake clerk, high council, HP group leader and several other callings over the years. While on his mission, he served as a counselor in a branch Relief Society presidency.

72 thoughts on “Scriptural historicity: not taking it too literal

  1. Today our Gospel Doctrine discussion elicited on answer which I feel threatens secularism, namely that to believe Adam and Eve are real people is naive. On the other hand I feel that accepting the time scales modern science attributes to the age of the planet and modern man is not a problem. However long creation took, it was under a plan supervised by God. When we are in a condition (resurrected) to know everything, we will doubtless feel a bit rueful about how very ignorant we were. God created the earth, and Adam and Eve and Satan are real beings. Most significantly, so is Christ. Everything else is seen ‘through a glass darkly’.

  2. As I see it…. Both the Genesis story and the scientific story are vastly incomplete. There is no need to think they contradict one another, unless you take either as being complete and exhaustive, or take the Genesis story as literal.

    When the overall big picture story that melds the two separate stories together (essentially both the “how” and the “why”) is revealed, both sides will say “ahaaaa!” and everyone will understand why the details were withheld. I think it will be realized that we “couldn’t handle the (shockingly awesome) truth.”

    The Genesis account starts out with an enigma… “In the beginning…”

    What beginning? Who’s beginning? The beginning of what? God’s work is one eternal round, cycle upon cycle. Was it the beginning of our solar system, the beginning of our galaxy, or the beginning of our universe/Hubble Space ?

    The more I learn about curved space, string theory, higher dimensions of space-time, multi-verses, etc., the more possibilities I see for how revealed spiritual truths “fit” into those frameworks. And the LESS I see of excuses to write off spiritual matters as mumbo-jumbo that don’t fit theoretical physics and astro-physics.

  3. Robert, you are wrong. God reveals himself in nature and natural processes. We do not need a God of the Gaps. We need a God that does all things in a manner we, as his children, may some day learn and understand.
    Why six days? Why not snap his fingers and have all things created ex nihilo in an instant? The why is more important than the how, for ancient Israel.
    I know you are a literalist in a young earth, Rob. Do you also embrace the flat, domed earth? If not, how did you arrive at the conclusion of which parts of Genesis are literal and which are based on cultural belief (Canaanites, Babylonians, and other Israelite neighbors also held the same views)? The Bible is Not God Breathed.

    Bookslinger, I agree there are many holes in both religion and science. That said, there are some certainties in both: God lives, Jesus is the Christ; the earth is not flat, the universe is billions of years old.

    We have to consider both sides and their proper roles, in order to learn (the Bible is not a science book, science cannot disprove God or miracles). But we must remain open minded and judicious.

  4. Pat, I believe Adam and Eve are historical. That said, I do not believe they are the literal parents of all humans. Rather, I believe the pattern we see with Abraham, Nephi and others. They are the holders of the covenant, and others can be adopted into the spiritual family. Adam was the first human with the gospel, and others were invited to be sons of Adam by embracing that gospel. The Nephites adopted Lamanites, Mulekites, Zoramites, and others in the same way. Even today, many of us are adopted into the House of Israel, our new tribe specified in our Patriarchal Blessings.

    This is a pattern that fits Adam into our modern scientific world.

  5. I think we need to pay much more attention to the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, modern prophets, and truth in general (as contrasted to the Bible and weird “creationist” theories when we delve into the Creation story.

    All teach the Creation was accomplished using existing materials. We learn that the Gods have to obey eternal law (that is why they are God) – they are defined by it, they does not define it. We are the same species as God (As man is God once was . . . .). The Creation of this world was just one of an infinite number (still ongoing). Adam and Eve were the “first” man and woman, but not the first hominids. Maybe that just means the first human beings with a human spirit, I don’t know.

    Truth must be self consistent. To the extent certain parts of what we have been taught to believe are contradicted by facts then the teaching has been incomplete by definition. We need to accept all truth and move on.

    What matters is that God directed the Creation, Christ carried it out, and we participated.

    Since we have DNA and fossils that show humans (not just hominids) have been around for much longer than the age claimed by some of the scriptures by definition the scriptures are incomplete (or wrong) on this topic.

    Brigham Young said the Creation Story was just that, a story God told to children who couldn’t understand it. We can understand much more of the physical sciences now than could prophets in ancient times, we should accept what we can understand.

  6. Rameumpton,
    Im definitely not a YEC. It always bothers me when people try to defend the gospel from a secular view. We might as well just say that the bible is a fairytale.

  7. In chapter 6 of Exodus we have an interesting detail about the ‘sons of God’ marrying the ‘daughters of men’ and God decides to limit their lifespan. In my opinion the ‘daughters of men’ were what we call hominids, creatures of God but not of Adam’s lineage, therefore forbidden to those with the uncreated spirits of Adam’s line. I know some who believe there are remnants of the hominid line still extant which might explain some things. Some Protestants read this scripture as referring to angels becoming involved with human women, which wouldn’t seem to fit with LDS ideas of the nature of angels, particularly fallen angels who have no bodies with which to ‘marry’.
    This would fit with both the idea that physically modern humans were developed and refined over a great time span, but still with the status of creatures, and that Adam and Eve were the apex of this evolution, but bestowed with uncreated spirits. As both a mother and an artist I am keenly aware of the difference between a creation and a child. If I created a beautiful, intelligent robot with whom I could converse and who had an artificial womb designed to carry a child to healthy birth, I would utterly reject the idea that my son should marry my creation. Much of this is speculation based on available evidence. I look forward to the time when truth is known, but I’ll be content to exist iin my mortal and therefore ignorant frame for a few more years.

  8. “This post is heavily weighed in secularism.” I think secularism can be a good thing if it seeks for truth without bias. Traditional, literalist interpretations of Genesis often shroud the real beauty and meaning of the Genesis stories. The earth is billions of years old. There was death on earth before the fall. Modern man is descended from other life forms; sharing a common ancestor with modern apes. These are established facts. Humans are capable of understanding this earth and the laws that govern it. If that is secularism, I pray to God we get a little bit more of it in religion (not just Mormonism). To me, the Bible is a much more interesting (and rich) text when stories like the creation, the fall, Job, Jonah, etc. are read as allegory. The ancient Hebrews were a very, very different people than we are. They wrote history in a very different way and they passed on cultural identity and morals in ways that are different than 21st century Westerners.

  9. I should clarify that while I’m open to the idea that Adam’s progeny coexisted with non Adamic hominids, today all mankind can count Adam and Eve as their progenitors, and are children of God as opposed to creations of God like animals, plants, planets and stars.

  10. Thirty years ago two separate researchers working with mitochondrial DNA came up with the theory that all modern humans are descended from one woman who lived about 30,000 years ago. This shook the world of anthropology which looked at figures closer to a million years for the human progenitor. Over time various calculations pushed the number back to around 200,000 years at the extreme but a change in mtDNA calculations drove it back to between 6000 to 7000 years. No matter what the numbers, they are way too recent for conservative anthropology which seems avid to avoid any hint of what might seem biblucal timing. Whatever you choose to call our common ancestors, we all share whatever mutations were responsible for our unique position as the only meme creating animal. Other animals have marvelous abilities but none of them transmit accumulated knowledge by means of leaving written records. By contrast, humans suffer a real deficit in instinctive abilities. So perhaps we could echo John that the beginning of being human has a lot to do with words.

  11. Robert,
    The Bible isn’t a fairytale. It is myth. Myth is based on fact, but changed to develop symbolism and purpose.

  12. Troy,
    A correction if I may. You bring up some edtablished opinions, not facts. Thanks, thats all.

  13. Robert,
    Not “established opinions” but scientific theories that have held up well for almost two centuries against multiple tests. The evidence strongly supports these theories, not young earth creationism.
    Do you believe in a young earth? If so, then you are a YEC.

  14. Elder Bruce R. McConkie made a comment years ago. While I think his tone was probably a chastisement more than an invitation, he said that if you don’t know an answer then don’t be afraid of saying, “I don’t know.”

    There is something liberating about coming to an apparent conflict between science and religion (or history and religion) and thinking, “Huh. That doesn’t mesh at all with what I believe, but it makes sense. I don’t know enough to come down on either side of the issue, however, so for right now I’m comfortable saying, ‘I don’t know.'”

  15. Robert, these are not opinions. Rameumptom more accurately describes what I am trying to communicate (thanks). An opinion would be something like, “I think blue is the best color.” This is a subjective opinion and it is perfectly logical to suppose that others may have a different opinion about what color is best. There is objective evidence regarding the age of the earth, evolution, etc. These ideas have been tested again and again and again using different techniques and the answers all point to an old earth and common ancestry. The evidence is actually 100% contrary to the notion of a young earth or that evolution does not occur. This is not an opinion. You may continue to believe that the earth is young or that man is not descended from other life forms, but you do so with no evidence to support your claim. You may as well believe that this planet we live on is actually Saturn and that your arms are made out of carrots.

  16. Troy,
    All the more reason I want to reject your words. It bothers me when we misuse words like “fact”. This all points to typical secular jargon. A fact is something that is indesputable such as “dogs have hair”. Evolution from a common ancestor is certainly in dispute based on actual scientific inquiry. It is thus not a fact. Secularism has pervaded almost all of public education. Its a framework of half truths, lies and deception.

  17. I think all of us — from the young earth creationists to the atheist Darwinists — are going to be amazed and surprised with the reality of how the Earth was created. The great truth we all should accept is that we don’t know enough to even imagine the things we don’t know.

  18. Geoff B. You are right. At this point there are things that we don’t know that we can’t even imagine yet. However, that is always the case in science. Yet science progresses and things that were once unimaginable become assumed and common knowledge. In the 1500s, the things that Darwin discovered and described couldn’t have been imagined. Here we are 150 years later and we have learned things that Darwin himself didn’t conceive of. I suppose we will never come to a realization of all knowledge on this earth but science is the best tool, the ONLY tool, for figuring it out and it works darn well.

  19. I agree that science is a great tool when applied correctly. Secularists dont apply it very well. Thats the problem. They disobey known laws and principles and make up different unproven ones in place and chalk these things up as empirical facts. Like Ive said before, my daughters fairytales have more truth in them.

  20. Until we can observe the “spirit matter” mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants, we are just kids playing with an old chemistry set. We can calculate an estimate of the age of the universe based on observations, be until we understand how a “big bang” could be ignited, we remain clueless about how sudden the first expansion was and what existed or not before that. I am somewhat amazed at how confidently some here have put forward their positions and notions of “fact”, including you Rame, when the science points a big bang from…what? and what was before that? That takes far more gullibility than a belief in a God who can “look on the wide expanse of eternity”.

  21. Also, if God can move mountains, why not worlds? I am reminded of the Yoda scene with Luke…moving rocks but not the spacecraft. We have no idea of the methods God used in preparing this world/universe for our testing and growth. I don’t yet see a literalist view of much of the bible in conflict with the available evidence of science because I believe he can move mountains and stop the earth in its rotation. Yes, I understand that stopping the spinning of the earth would be catastrophic by scientific terms. But…Yoda. Why couldn’t God do both? Both, stop the spinning and make it imperceptible to everyone on the planet, or, just make it appear to be so. Don’t care which it is. It was real to those who witnessed it. Call it myth if you want, but I’m okay with real and literal.

  22. Rameumpton,
    I already said Im not a YEC. Scientific theories have held up only because of the great dogmatism by secularists refusing to acknowledge any intelligent involvement. Their entire premise is a library of conjecture. It truly boggles my brain that they are still trying to replicate life in the lab by natural processes from scratch. Are we stupid? I mean really- are we so stupid in the face of mountains of evidence that states otherwise? The infamous law of biogenesis is secularisms fairytale, or so they wish. Dont you find it strange that they keep trying in utter futility to prove facts wrong?

  23. Rob, so far you have made claims against “secularists”, insisting there is a secret combination, or something. Evidence, please? Otherwise, it’s just conspiracy theories.

    Not all those who accept the idea of an old earth and universe are secularists. When I was young, I was a YEC. Since then, I’ve studied the evidence on all sides and prayerfully chosen the best solutions available, knowing both science and revelation come up short for scholars and prophets alike.

    If and when the First Presidency and Q12 unitedly put out a proclamation on the issue to replace the current 1937 statement, which makes no decision, then I’ll go along with a religious stance. Until then, I have to rely on science, personal research and inspiration.

    As it is, YECs and other literalists must deal with a flat earth. Consistency is the important so as not to be a hypocrite in rejecting a major concept related to the Creation.

  24. Rob, I suggest you do some deep investigation into what the scientific method involves. Really. Your comments convey a lack of understanding as to what science is and how it is done. Science, as a method of learning about the natural world, does not acknowledge the involvement of a grand creator because that falls outside of the realms of science. God cannot be scientifically studied. This is no way invalidates the knowledge that science has achieved because this earth operates off of natural law which, like it or not, one does not need to believe in God to understand. As for scientists “disobeying knowing laws and principles to make up different, unproven ones,” I don’t even know what that means. You’re going to need to cite some examples here.

    You say “Scientific theories have held up only because of the great dogmatism by secularists…” This statement alone tells me that you don’t know what a scientific theory is. A scientific theory is an explanation of some aspect of the natural that can be objectively tested and has withstood serious and continued scrutiny. Thus, the idea that a scientific theory could hold up because of dogmatism is contrary to the very definition of a scientific theory. I’ll tell you why scientific theories have held up – it’s because for generations and, in some cases, hundreds of years, people have tested hypotheses over and over again and the results are all consistent.
    You claim to not be a YEC, yet you seem to discount science. So let’s hear your opinion – how old do you think the earth is? And what evidence do you have that this opinion is correct. If you don’t want to deal with the age of the earth we can try evolution and common descent. Do you believe that modern man is descended from earlier life forms? If not, what evidence do you have to support your opinion?

  25. Ram,
    Which member of the first presidency or quorum of the 12 do you think would describe Adam and Eve as a cosmic creation myth.

    I’ll put my lot in with them. I don’t care about these things from day to day, but the truth is I know Adam more than you. I have no problem with someone describing the Genesis story as being like a fairy tale, if what they mean is to say that in reality it was much more deliberate and concrete than depicted — not that the idea of Adam and Eve as the mother and father of all living is symbolic. Sorry my faith doesn’t do there because God told me otherwise.

    Fortunately I’m on the same side as the continuous membership of the first presidency and quorum of the 12!

    I hope you are too.

  26. Abaltie,

    I believe in a historical Adam and Eve. I also believe other humans without the gospel were upon the earth. Adam became the first son of God, accepting and receiving the covenants and Christ.

    But their story IS cosmic creation myth. Myths are not fairytales, but are stories, often based in truth, that tell important messages to a people.

    Homer’s myth of Helen and the destruction of Troy, may not have had the Greek gods involved, but was accurate enough to lead an early archaeologist to rediscover the lost city.

  27. Troy,
    Im not a YEC. I dont know or really care how old the earth is. Im of the belief that matter has always existed.

    As for man, no, I dont believe we have evolved from a lower order of animals. As for evidence? I think the greatedt evidence is why we are so higher in intelligence than any other animal. Why such a glaring difference? I mean, its not even close. The smartest animals cant even compare with human intelligence. One would think that if evolution from a common ancestor was real that there would be far greater ranges of intelligence with some animals close to being as smart as humans. But we dont see that at all. The smartest animals are pretty close in intelligence to each other and the jump from there to human intelligence is absolutely staggering. A chimp may be able to work with simple tools and do some novel things, humans build spaceships that go out into space and land on a planet millions of miles away to do scientific testing and relay the information back to earth.
    Scientific theories are intetedting because in their proper understanding it can add light and knowledge. Now, the theory of evolution from a common ancestor shouldnt even be a theory as it lacks both facts and testing to show how it or if it is possible. Theories have to be based on facts. Now I know there arent any facts that humans evolved from a lower order. So where is the actual theory here? Similarities arent facts either. So, Im a bit confused as to where the strong evidence of facts and tests are to show how humans evolved.

  28. Oh, Rob. Rob, Rob, Rob. You do realize that all other human-like species that once existed on this planet went extinct, right? In fact, our species may have contributed to their extinctions. If you want to see intelligence similar to that of human intelligence, you would have seen it there. Intelligence is nothing more than brain power and the growth and development of brains like ours is understood by science. We may be smarter (in some respects, but not all) than many animals but most non-human animals are capable of things that we aren’t capable of. Our intelligence can be explained by natural processes so it is not objective evidence of a special creation. You claim that the theory of common ancestry lacks “facts” and testing. I don’t know what to say to that. I doubt that you really have seriously sought for the evidence in support of that theory. Let alone tried to analyze it objectively. The evidence is bountiful. Where to begin? Look into the origins of the human chromosome 2. That’s a good place to start. Then look at the vestigial organs, muscles, and tissues that exist in humans. Evidence of descent from a common ancestor. Pseudogenes, such as the dysfunctional L-gulonolactone oxidase gene of humans. Why would God give us genes that flat out don’t work?? Especially after he made those genes to work perfectly fine in other species? If you want to go beyond human evolution, you can consider functionless wings in flightless birds or remnant eye structures in animal species that have lost their sight (ie – blind cavefish). Further, I reject your claim that similarities are not facts. What do you mean? Similarities absolutely are facts and, when understood properly, are incredible evidence in favor of common ancestry. Look, I suspect we could go back and forth on this forever and a day. I’m a spiritual person. I believe in God. I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. I also am a scientist and I am forced to confront, every day, the evidence in support of evolution. It is real and it is overwhelming. It is not some story made up by conspiring men to trick people into accepting atheism. I would invite you to sincerely and honestly study the science behind these evidences if it is really something that interests you. For myself, I didn’t really come to know God until I finally allowed myself to accept the evidence for evolution. Then God became real to me because I could understand who he is and how he operates. I don’t want to sound condescending. I know that people can have a genuine relationship with God without accepting evolution but there is an incredible amount of knowledge out there and it comes from God. Seek it out. It takes time. It takes an enormous effort and it takes a reshuffling of things that you may have been told your whole life but the truth sets you free.

  29. Troy,
    Thats a lot of conjecture. (BTW, Im not trying to prove God).
    Still not seeing any evidence of fact that man evolved from a lower order. You do know the meaning of conjecture dont you? Saying our closest next common ancestor went extinct is the very definition of conjecture. Where are the facts? One would have to have verifiable evidence that an inferior race went extinct that was directly related to us. There is no documented facts that man was anything other than man.

  30. OK Rob. I was going to say that I think you’re refusing to see what is plainly before you but I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think you see it. I spent the first half of my life believing the scriptural account of creation as being a literal explanation for what occurred. I know that story inside and out. I’ve spent my life since then still believing strongly in God but also studying science very intensely. Here is the truth of things – there is evidence, and lots of it, consistent with the notion that the earth is billions of years old and that man’s body was produced through natural processes. And more evidence is discovered and published every month. You can refuse to try to understand it but that doesn’t make it not so. There is zero evidence, zero, that the Bible story is literal. That doesn’t mean the Bible story doesn’t have something to teach us – it definitely does – but what it teaches us has nothing to do with how we got here. I’ve got nothing else to say.

  31. Troy,
    I giess its all in what one wants to see. You see a purely naturalistic creation I see otherwise. Thats fine. I see God procreating Adam and Eve. We may not find scientific evidence of that event but neither do we see scientific evidence that man evolved from a lower order. All these are beliefs, opinions. I just want otgers to know that they must be careful with what secular academia has to say about our origins. They definitely do have a political agenda, its not really scientific what they surmise with mans origins.

  32. Rob,
    And I say that science is doing a fine job, and Troy isn’t deceived by some grand conspiracy that you’ve invented.
    Second, science is from God, and he’s inspired many scientists to discover great ideas. You are typing on a device that couldn’t work without scientific theory behind it.
    Nor do I think you take religion seriously. The Articles of Faith teach we should look forward to new enlightenment. DC 88 tells us to study science, including those things “under the earth” and to learn by study and faith.
    Joseph Smith revealed many awesome things, but first had to leave old ideas behind.

    In LDS scripture and temple there are at least 8 complete or partial Creation stories
    Most are very distinct from one another. Isaiah has God fighting the great sea monster Rahab, or chaos, Proverbs has God/El creating with his consort, Wisdom/Asherah. Gen 1 and 2 give two different accounts (P and J in the Documentary Hypothesis). Abraham has the Divine Council create the world, while Moses has Jesus doing it. Then we get Jesus and Michael creating in the temple endowment.
    Some have plants before the great.lights appear, while others have them reversed. Some have Adam created last, while Gen 2 has him formed first.
    All of it is allegory, based on some truth, to teach important concepts to various groups and cultures: Northern Kingdom, Southern Kingdom, Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Canaanites, etc.

  33. Thank you Rameumptom. It is nice to have you confirm that I am not part of some grand scientific conspiracy to kill God. I am an active scientific researcher. I have been associated with scientists for over 20 years. They are my friends and colleagues. Many of them believe in God. Some don’t. But they all have one thing in common – a sincere desire to find truth. They are objective and genuine in this endeavor. It is NOT all about what “one wants to see.” Science isn’t about that at all. To believe otherwise shows a massive failure to understand what science is. I get more than a bit defensive when somebody who presumably has no basis from which to make a statement contrary to that which I have just made, takes it upon him/herself to pretend to know what scientists are up to, or what our real goals are. There is no political agenda associated with evolution and man’s origin. I could just as easily state that there is a political agenda being pushed by creationists and Biblical literalists. But there isn’t a political agenda there either. It’s merely ignorance of things as they really are.

  34. Troy & rameumpton,
    Dont get me wrong, I do love science. I have always been intrigued with how science research and discovery leads to new insights, inventions, etc. I embrace good science. But, there really is a secular , even atheistic, agenda in certain areas like evolution to push a purely naturalistic explanation for why we are here. Organizqtions are funded and ran to defend this agenda. Places like the NCSE were formed entirely in their beginning to defend and push naturalism and secularism in schools. Their enemy is religious text. They want it out of the schools, out of public discourse.
    The paradox here is paramount. The creation accounts do tell us why we are here, how we are here and religion teaches us where we are going. That is truth. But, secular evolution doesnt like this, calling it a “myth”. So, as LDS, we are supposed to uphold truth. But, evolution doesnt lead us to truth, it leads us away, into secular atheism. Going to the extreme, Jefferey Dahmer, the serial killer, attributed his lack of care to humanity to his belief in evolution. In prison he supposedly was converted to Christianity but the facts remained, evolution and its atheist agenda always leads to destroy our knowledge of a divine purpose and birthright. We arent animals ever evolving in a dog eat dog world. No, we are divine literal offspring of deity and our endstate is immortality and eternal life. Evolution will never teach that reality, will never guide us in truth.

  35. Rob, Christians in the 12th and 13th centuries committed unspeakable atrocities in the name of Christ. Does that diminish the goodness of Christ’s actual message? Of course not. People have always used good things to justify their bad acts. Evolution does not lead inevitably to atheism anymore than Christianity leads to the murder of non-believers. That argument is just plain lazy. You’re going to have to do better than that.

    Look, religion tells us why we are here and how to live good, clean lives. It does not tell us how we got here. That falls to science and science has answered the call. If you see the two as being contradictory, that’s because you are reading something into the scripture that isn’t actually in the text. Rameumptom has done a fine job of describing how it is not tenable to believe that the scriptures mean for the creation story to be literal.

    “Evolution always leads to the destruction of knowledge of our divine birthright.” Uh…no. It doesn’t. I can guarantee you that you sit near people every week in church who accept evolution and they believe in Jesus Christ and the salvation offered through his grace.

  36. What fun I’ve missed with this discussion, hanging out in Nauvoo and driving 14 hours back to my home.

    Have we even touched on the likelihood that the creation described in Genesis was significantly “shaped” during the Babylonian captivity (e.g., bearing extraordinary resemblance to the Babylonian creation narrative)? If you’ve missed it, this is why I got all geeky about the Book of Mormon creation narrative that may have been in the lost manuscript pages.

    Independent of whether Adam and Eve are literally the parents of all living, we are each an Adam or Eve with respect to our progeny. And out parents are the Adam and Eve to our Abel or Cain or Seth, etc.

    Whatever actually happened is what really happened. I look forward to learning from God what that is. And if the atheists have the right of it, I will die happy in anticipation of a reunion that will never happen. But I’d rather die happy in hope that not die happy.

  37. Troy,
    Christians didnt committ murders like you say in the dark ages. This is a common tact darwinists use to confront religion. Youve been taught well (Kudos to you Dawkins). But, that tact is wrong, a blunt distraction. A “christian” is one who believes and follows Christ in deed and action. A person doing the devils bidding is not a christian. Just as Satan isnt Christ even though he tries to convince many he is.

    The scriptures do tell us why we are here and how we came about. This truth is a threat however to secularism and so they attack the bible and use different means to diminish the literalness of its text. The scriptures teach that Adam was the son of God and thst before Adam there was no other “man”. Now, of course you are going to say Im wrong, the bible doesnt teach that. Once again, I must congradulate darwinists, they are being quite effective in their agenda if its even convincing actual Christians to disbelieve their own scriptures.
    I dont just speak to you. I hope to raise a voice of warning to others in hope that they will learn to discern the tools the devil employs to destroy Gods word. One of them tools is darwinian evolution. Its a direct frontal attack to God. Its part of an overall agenda by many in left wing politics to remove God from everything publicly. Remove God from schools, public places, government, currency, etc. They even are attacking religious freedom now and and churches. This is a collective attack and its roots always are built on the principle of the removal of God from society.
    It thus strikes me as odd that many within Christianity, even LDS are now saying God doesnt belong in the creation, that it wasnt his actual hand for the why in lifes existance. I asked Steven Peck a few years ago just where he thought the Creator fit into His creation and he honestly couldnt tell me. He was of the belief that Gid himself was the product of naturalism. That belief places naturalism above God as a god! In doing so it removes God completely from the law we answer to saying its the laws of nature we must answer to. Oh how perverse we have become. We are not much different than ol Lucifer who championed we should do as we please, be a law unto ourselves. By removing God we do just that.

  38. OK Rob, so you want to deny that the Latin Church sanctioned holy wars against Islam during medieval times for the purposes of securing holy sites. They killed for Christ. Fine. Let’s go to the KKK and its connection to a white Christian narrative. People are using the name of Christ to do really bad things. The point is that good things can be twisted by people. The fact that some people follow evolution to atheism does not insist that evolution is, of necessity, atheistic. You are having this conversation with one who both believes in God and accepts evolution. Your definition of a Christian is an apt one. Allow me to define for you what it means to accept evolution. It means that we accept the overwhelming evidence that the human body has evolved from other forms of life. It says nothing about the nature of eternal soul and it says absolutely nothing about the existence of God. Any claims that you make to the contrary are simply inaccurate. Evolution does not make any claims about God. Those who accept evolution may have opinions about God one way or the other but the data does not speak about the existence of God. It simply doesn’t. Now, if you are going to believe the Bible literally then you have to address the points that Rameumptom brought up earlier. Which of the many creation accounts in the scriptures (which contradict each other) is the one that I should believe in?

  39. Rob,
    I am a historian and Bible scholar. You have the right to not believe in evolution.
    However, you do not have the right to make accusations or statements without good evidence to back it up. I’ve seen no evidence that science has a Satanic secret combination pushing atheism via evolution.
    You also do not get to define the term Christian. In the Bible, it is one who believes in Christ. So, Crusaders and those doing the Inquisition were Christian, believing terhey were doing God’s work. They slaughtered thousands, even as Moses and Joshua did before.
    You also do not have the right to make statements without also answering the questions asked.
    Finally, you are not the arbiter of good and evil. You cannot say what is of Satan with out evidence.

    Troy and I have given evidence from science, archaeology, and ancient scripture. You have given opinion. I feel I’m talking with a fundamental evangelist about the Restoration. I share the evidence, but only find closed minds with a fixed opinion that Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon are of the devil – regardless of the evidence.

    Please answer the questions, or I’ll end this thread.

  40. It appears as if you reject all of the creation accounts that dont coincide with evolution.
    Let me ask you the same question I ask other Christian evolutionists- Is it possible that life can or does arise without Gods hand? If not, then- what physical (and thus scientific) thing or process does God do to cause life to arise?
    As LDS we believe that without God there can be no creation, no life. So, do you also agree with this or not? Please dont say “we dont know, science doesnt tell us”.

  41. Science doesn’t tell us about God. Yet, there are evidences in nature of a guiding hand.
    For example, science cannot explain why our universe exists. At it’s Creation in the Big Bang, equal amounts of matter and anti-matter were created.
    So why didn’t they cancel each other out? Why is there so much more matter than anti-matter?

    Why did galaxies form? The odds are against so many things going right to create them. Odds of an earth sitting in a perfect zone to create an atmosphere, have Jupiter to clean out much of the space debris that could annihilate planets, have one moon to stabilize our orbit, to have water freeze from the top down, etc.,
    All of this against the odds. Then life begins, and science has yet to figure out that full process. Had the dinosaurs not been wiped out 250 and 65 million years ago, mammals would not have become prominent. Humans emerging from hominids in a period perfect for them to build societies, invent and improve to where we are today, could not have happened without the oil we get from long dead dinosaurs.
    There are many scientists who do believe, precisely because of the evidence.
    I believe God allows evolution and natural processes to occur, tweaking them occasionally to get the outcome he desires.
    As for the various Creation accounts, which is historically accurate? They all differ. They agree that God created things, but the specifics of Creation are often left by God to be understood via myth and allegory. Jesus did the same thing with the parables he taught. The story wasn’t as important as the lesson.

  42. Rameumpton,
    It appears you are saying that God doesnt control nature, he just allows it in the sense that its a law higher than him. Am I incorrect? And in saying this it doesnt really seem like you are willing for God to actually physically do something that, because of His actions, creates life. Am I incorrect?
    My guess here is that to concede that God must do something in order for life to exist then one must admit the tenets of intelligent design theory are in fact true. But you wouldnt do that would you? After all, darwinian evolution and an actual intelligent Creator are not compatable. My guess is that you will discount ID theory as not science and then say something along the lines of “again, religion doesnt teach how we got here”. Please, I beg, prove me wrong.

  43. You’re must be a clairvoyant, Rob, but I’ll say it for Rameumptom: ID theory is not science. For many reasons, ID theory is not science. First and foremost, ID theory does not provide a falsifiable hypothesis. Thus, it cannot be scientifically tested.

    You raise some interesting questions, though? Does God control nature. If what you mean by that is that God determines where and when it will rain or where and when there will be an earthquake, then no, God does not control nature. If that is what you believe then you have to explain why God sends hurricanes to harm innocent people. You have to explain why it is that God allows one region to wallow in drought while another region suffers from flood and fire while another region enjoys peace and plenty. Weather patterns and natural disasters are caused by natural forces which follow natural laws that mankind can study and understand. Please don’t tell me that we can’t at least agree that weather patterns follow natural laws. Now, is God capable of causing the elements to align in such a way as to cause a flood or an earthquake? I suppose he is but, in that case, you run up against the question of how does God make those decisions? I mean, if God is using disaster to punish mankind as the Old Testament myths describe, what is the threshold at which God will smite a city? Does he need 100,000 heathens? 200,000? Maybe 50,000 adulterers and 25,000 robbers? Or maybe 10 atheistic scientists is enough to earn his wrath 🙂

    I believe that God CAN affect nature but I think he does this so infrequently that I would never claim that a certain natural event was the direct handiwork of God. These are the kinds of difficulties that you run into with a literal interpretation of the Bible. I see God as so great and so far superior to anything on this earth that he doesn’t see the need to be buried in the intimate details of what is happening here. This does mean that he doesn’t watch it and that he doesn’t love us. Clearly, he loves us because he sent his son as a physical representation of that love to reconcile us back to him. But I see God as quite hands off. I think he allows everything its agency. I have the ability to choose my path. The earth has its ability to choose its path (evolution). God has set this all in motion in a way that he knows it will all work out to fulfill his ultimate purpose but he doesn’t need to be a helicopter parent. God is much greater than that. You need to look into BioLogos. It does a nice job of reconciling what you call Darwinian evolution and the notion of a Creator. The two are absolutely compatible. Maybe your mind doesn’t see it yet but I’m sitting here as somebody who accepts Darwinian evolution AND the existence of God. They are compatible if you do some work and be willing to shift your way of thinking to accept truth.

    Oh, and so that you aren’t disappointed, I’ll gladly say it again, religion doesn’t teach us how we got here. We learn that God is somehow involved in it but scripture does not tell us how, exactly, we got here. You seem to think that it does, so please enlighten us. How did God make Adam? Did he have sex with Heavenly Mother? Did he just wave his wand and form Adam de novo? Did he mold him out of mud and give him a magical kiss wherein “the breath of life” animated his dirt lungs? If the scriptures tell us how God made Adam, point me to the verse.

  44. Rob,
    You are incorrect. God can manage nature, but usually allows nature and us our agency. He is the great chess master, who can see all the possible moves coming up, and tweaks the game only when he needs to. The book of Abraham tells us the gods commanded, then waited for nature to obey in its own time and manner – support for my theory.
    Intelligent Design is not a testable theory, so it isn’t scientific. It should be taught in a religion class, not science class.
    D&C 88 and 93 teach that all things are animated in some fashion by the Light of Christ. Until science can “see” that light, it is religious theory. Perhaps we will find it is Dark Energy? If so, then maybe we may find a way to measure this. Still, science will not be able to recognize it as God’s power, simply because we can’t find God to ask him about it. God works through natural means, means science can measure and explain.

    Now, I’ve answered your questions. Show me equal respect by answering mine. Otherwise admit you have no answers, but are only wasting our time in an insincere effort to outlast us.

  45. Hum…Im kind of waiting for an answer I will never get. I habe never met an evolutionist that will admit that without God doing something life wouldnt arise. I was perhaps vain in my hopes that one of you would at leadt revognize that for life to arise God has to do something.
    As for my own beliefs, why mess around with a process taking billions of years, God has within himself procreative powers and we are told tge geneolgy of mans physical begatting goes directlly back to God himself. Its not too hard to connect the dots. After all, we are the literal seed of deity. It doesnt matter if we cant prove that scientifically, after all- who has a time machine? Sadly, tgat same philosophy isnt applied to evolution, they can make up the rules on the fly having never observed what really happened.

  46. Gerald,
    Im curious to know what science will say when Christ comes and the resurrection takes place. What will science say? That its all black magic? Im convinced God works through tge laws of science also. Secular understanding is in for a genuine shocker as we will find that Gid himself is the cause for all we see in the universe. Imagine that- the priesthood being an actual governing law in science. Right now they laugh and mock God and his miracles. Yet we will find out, in the end that all truth is tied directly to God and that scientific truths will testify of God in all things.

  47. Rob, I did address your question. God is involved in Creation and life. Science has no way to test that. When Christ comes again, sincere seekers of truth will embrace him.
    Now, you still have answered none of my questions, but instead have preached to us your philosophy. That’s exactly the method I get from antiMormons, never answering a question, dodging questions by making new accusations.
    You clearly are not wanting a discussion, but only want to preach. I wonder what your reaction is when Christ returns and he tells us he did everything through natural selection.
    As it is, I’m done with being lectured and preached to. This conversation is over

  48. Gerald,
    Unless I am mistaken, or you have another name you go by Im not sure what “questions” you want me to answer?

  49. Rob, I go by rameumptom at times
    But you haven’t answered Troy’s questions, either. But don’t bother. I’ve grown tired of your tactics and I’m not interested in pursuing your white rabbit down anymore holes.

  50. Rob, I too admitted clearly in one of my more recent comments that “God set this in motion” but you aren’t actually listening to what anybody else has to say. For some reason, your worldview requires that evolution leads to atheism by necessity and that evolutionists are Satan’s tools. And you’ve come here to preach that message, and to hell with anybody who disagrees. See, you aren’t willing to view Rameumptom and me as anything other than a caricature that your ultra-conservative information sources have sketched out for you. I don’t know if that’s because you are incapable of seeing nuance in an argument or if you are just haven’t yet explored what science actually is, how it works, and what it has taught us about the origins of the earth. Regardless, the result has been this discussion, where you are incapable (or unwilling?) to consider a different reality than the one you have known your entire life. As I said earlier, I have spent my life considering each concept (approximately half of my life on each). I know both ideas very well and I know enough now to take what is true from each. There is a God, yes, and he somehow is involved in creating this world but a so-called big bang is how this came to be and evolution is how life has diversified on this planet. To go back to the place of belief where you find yourself would be to deny all of the knowledge that God has given me.

  51. I’m finished with you Rob. This is maddening. In two of my posts now I have literally and specifically stated that God is involved in the creation. You refuse to see it because it exposes your narrative as false and you would prefer to go on believing what you believe. You are the kind of person who would have investigated and queried Galileo in the 1600s because you are unwilling to consider any worldview other than the one that is comfortable to you. You aren’t here to have a discussion or to try to learn something. You already have it all figured out so why should you listen to me, right?

  52. “I thought I did a pretty good job of answering your questions,”

    As an outsider, this is not factual.

    “a lot more than you answered mine.”

    Also not factual.

    “I realize why you dont want to answer mine as it may cause you to actually place the Creator in the creation.”

    By this statement it is obvious that you haven’t even read everyone else’s response.

    ” Anyways, hopefully someone else reading all this will come to see darwinian evolution for the problems and implications it creates for Mormons.”

    It behoveth you to read – carefully – the following statements:

    The Church has no official position on the theory of evolution. Organic evolution, or changes to species’ inherited traits over time, is a matter for scientific study. Nothing has been revealed concerning evolution. Though the details of what happened on earth before Adam and Eve, including how their bodies were created, have not been revealed, our teachings regarding man’s origin are clear and come from revelation.

    There is simply no ‘implications’ to anyone regardless of their world view, except those who can’t see the forest for the trees.

  53. Since Rob is being untruthful on the issues at hand, I will be deleting his future posts. Troy and I have answered his questions truthfully, perhaps not as he wants us to do so. He has not answered questions, but responded with more questions of his own.
    I fear the YEC and anti-evolutionists as they will destroy Christianity. I’ve known many youth who were raised YEC, only to lose their faith when they saw the scientific evidence. Instead, we should teach how religion and science can coexist and benefit us.
    Sadly, there are groups on all sides who use Rob’s tactics – evading questions by changing the subject or “answering” questions with more questions. He also uses straw man and other fallacies. These are the tactics I’ve seen from anti-Mormons for 40 years, and the tactics continue with this version of fundamentalism, as well.

  54. Controversial topics ALWAYS devolve into meta-discussions, “arguing about arguing.”

    Geoff/Meg/Ram, PLEASE post another blog entry, so that this fades down the list, and comments taper off and stop overflowing the comment list in the side-bar.

    BTW, the Colonel Jessup quote above was me. That’s a line from _A Few Good Men_ movie.

    There is a good REASON (or several reasons) why God has not revealed the minute details of creation, and specifically the details of the physical creation of our mortal bodies. And even the reasons themselves are not exactly spelled out.

    We are told it is “not lawful” for prophets to reveal/repeat much of what they see/hear in heaven or on the other side of the veil.

    We are told God reveals line upon line, etc. And that God reveals/gives/blesses commensurate to people’s ability to receive and righteously “handle” the information/gift.

    Hence, my deduction that we haven’t received because we are not able/ready to receive/handle that information.

    The circuitous “discussion” above (of Robert, Troy, Ram) is more about epistemology than science or religion. IE, what do we “know” and what exactly is “knowledge”, versus belief, conclusion, deduction, supposition, theory, evidence, measurement, etc.

  55. I agree with the author that knowing what is intended figuratively and what is intended literally in scripture can be a challenge. The author seems to suggest that we should allow our current understanding of science to be our principle guide in this decision. It’s easy to see that letting science become the ultimate measuring stick by which judge truth would lead to some significant alterations in our faith tradition; alterations that I would be uncomfortable with. For example science doesn’t support the idea of a virgin birth, walking on water, turning water to wine or a resurrection. So we would have to assume then that those were only intended figuratively. Science doesn’t support translating ancient records using stones in a hat or angelic visitations either, so we should probably throw those out too.

  56. As the author, I say that there is room for miracles, virgin birth, resurrection and walking on water. They just are not measurable in the science realm, and so science cannot speak to such things.
    There is a big difference between miracles in Jesus’ life being separated from the authors of the gospels by only a couple generations, and Genesis (as we now have it) being written thousands of years after the actual events by various authors.

    There is no science issues regarding miracles. There are issues with a 6000 year old earth.

  57. Rameumptum, for what it’s worth, I agree with you that we need a way to judge what should be taken literally and what should be taken figuratively. I think that disregarding all scripture that seems to contradict our current understanding of scientific evidence is not a good way to interpret scripture. Science is a fickle master and we may find that we are ‘driven with the wind and tossed’ if we allow science to be our measuring stick of last resort. I also appreciate your last thought: “It is good the LDS Church has no official position on evolution, creation, dinosaurs, etc. It allows each of us to determine for ourselves what we choose to believe.”

  58. Stewart, I don’t think it’s necessary to disregard scripture in the face of science, but we need to be open to acknowledging that maybe scripture has been misinterpreted. This is how science works. When some scientific concept is found to be partially incorrect by new data (often driven by new technologies), scientists readjust and refine their interpretation of the data.

  59. I’m on a FB list of LDS studying scripture. Last year we did the New Testament. This year it is the Old Testament. We use scholarly textbooks to learn and discuss. That means we discuss the Documentary Hypothesis, where the Pentateuch as we have it, was written by several groups.
    You can’t be afraid of facts and evidence, if you want to grow.
    These do not shake my testimony, which is based on spiritual experience. These cause me to question assumptions.
    I embrace evolution until something with better evidence comes along. It fits well with the gospel, as long as I do not allow personal opinions and dogma get in the way, building walls and stopping revelation

  60. Anything is possible. Currently, the testing of theories suggest a Big Bang, as we know the universe continues to expand, and there is a constant background radiation that is consistent with the Big Bang theory.

    If the theory changes, it won’t affect my belief in science nor in religion, as I believe in continual revelation and science.

  61. Minor correction
    “Currently, the testing of CERTAIN theories suggest a Big Bang”

    No reason to get so hung up on scientific theories. I work in the medical field and constantly have to read up on changes to what we thought we knew. I don’t get why people get so zealous over theories like the big bang.

    As long as it leaves room to acknowledge God and doesn’t contradict scripture, believe away. I tend to lean more towards theories that acknowledge what I already know to be true through scriptures and prophets.

    Either way, id rather read what Moses or Abraham have to say about the universe than Stephen Hawkins or Neil degrasse tyson

  62. Here are some of my thoughts on this post. I disagree with much of what it says specifically. Historicity and allegory are not exclusive to each other. My own beliefs can be found here at Millennial Star if interested.

    “Genesis 1 is based on a flat earth, dome above by an expanse of water, with the lights (Sun, moon and stars) planted into the revolving dome. Surrounding the land are the oceans. Below or underneath, one finds another expanse of water and Sheol. All of this was supported on great pillars connecting earth and sky.”

    Despite a lot of talk about this, I have yet to read any believable evidence that is what Genesis 1 is based on. There is a lot of assumptions and claims, but no actual historical research presented. Besides, one can still read modern understandings of Earth and the Universe into Genesis 1 without warping it’s text. One cannot say the same about Evolution vs. Adam and Eve and the Fall. There is a huge difference between tweaking our understanding and completely dismissing it all in a forced allegory. This is especially the case when the original authors themselves wrote it as history (lacking any evidence to the contrary, even if “history” was a subjective term more than what it means today).

    “If we are to reject a 14 billion year old earth, evolution and other science because of a literalistic view of Genesis 1, should we not also reject a round earth that revolves around a Sun that revolves around a galaxy of 200 billion stars (many of them billions of years old), etc.?”

    Yes, if it was against a theological necessity of belief. Since the earth revolving around a Sun revolving around a galaxy of 200 billion starts doesn’t dismiss The Creation and the Fall, then there is no need for rejection. Call it “selectivity of science concepts,” but rejecting science isn’t the point. Theological purity is the main concern. And I could say the same thing with all the other points that are brought up. Science is a tool that has become a religion. Religion is a philosophy that may or may not concern itself with science.

    “The focus was not on a literal history, but on important symbols that connected man with God.”

    But that assumes they saw it as only allegorical, that assuredly they did not. Yes, their conceptions of history are loose and different than the modern, but they did take it as an objective truth (even if a little T that is uncomfortable for moderns). This huge gap between allegory and history is a very recent development. One that I personally find destructive to religious belief, and for those who created the chasm an intentional byproduct. I believe we can take things in Scripture as both literal (with some tweaking) and allegorical without disparaging one or the other. In fact, I find this essential to understanding spiritual things.

    “And we don’t have to pick and choose on the exactness of historicity of scripture – forcing us to believe in a flat earth simply because ancient traditions held them.”

    It goes the other way as well. We don’t have to NOT pick and choose on the exactness of historicity of scripture. I am on the believe in Evolution camp, but I am equally on the Garden of Eden and the Fall were historical. Like I said, my views can be found here if you want. What I am not into is the Evolution vs. Allegorical argument that I think plays into atheists hands and rejects the profound complicated nature of Scripture and beliefs in general.

  63. Jettboy,
    Since my op was on the age of the earth, and not on evolution, your issue goes somewhat beyond my point.
    I also believe in the historicity of the Garden, Adam and Eve, the Fall, etc. But I think we sometimes make too many assumptions on what is historical vs myth. Was it really a snake that tempted Eve, or does the Book of Moses show that to be allegorical and showing it was actually Satan?

    Was Adam the only man? Was there no death before Adam on the entire earth? Or are we only speaking about the Garden? Can Adam be the father of all mankind in the way Abraham is the adoptive father of believing Gentiles?

    We need to review assumptions that risk turning history into fiction. I’ve seen too many young people raised on young earth concepts, then go off to college. Upon seeing the evidence, many have a faith crisis and stop believing. Why? Because we often teach sloppy religion that hasn’t kept up with facts and truth.
    Elders Talmage, Widstoe and BH Roberts had no problems with an old earth or evolution. Joseph Fielding Smith, a scriptorian, not a scientist nor scholar, disagreed and outlived the others. He also refused to accept the fact of Joseph Smith Jr used a seer stone in translating the BoM. The Church is officially correcting wrong assumptions made by GAs and others regarding several such issues.
    I see current leadership as not having a problem with an old earth, as long as we acknowledge God’s hand in creation. Which I do.

  64. “Since my op was on the age of the earth, and not on evolution, your issue goes somewhat beyond my point.”

    But, I did quote and comment on your article, so I didn’t exactly go beyond your point. In fact, Evolution is the very central issue of why Young Earth belief is argued about and so cannot be separated from the age of the Earth.

    “But I think we sometimes make too many assumptions on what is historical vs myth.”

    I think those against Young Earth assume they know while not allowing the opposition to make assumptions. This leaves us with “we don’t know” that this very op denies (or at least ignores) as a choice. It insists that someone who believes one thing must by necessity believe a whole set of propositions that frankly they don’t have to believe. That people lose faith because of what they learn in College says more about how far from God and the Spirit they are, and how evil college is, than how sloppy religion is taught.

    History *is* fiction. It is the fiction we tell ourselves about things we can only assume by the evidence we have. Some history is far less fiction than others, but unless we can go back in time then assumptions are all we have. Like I said, I am not a YE person at all, but my respect for them and why they believe what they do is tremendous. My major concern with them is when they don’t give me the same courtesy. They have a right to their assumptions and I defend that because I hold many of their assumptions myself. The difference I have with the YE is my open belief in the scientific evidence. The difference I have with the Old Earth and Evolutionists is I still consider the Bible literal (someone may challenge me on that, but I just read the Bible differently than is normally expected in some places). My belief is that Young Earth and Old Earth/Evolutionists can live in the same religion side by side with out accusations of bad faith, bad science, or bad theology.

  65. Thanks for the OP, and the patient discussion in the comment thread. I appreciate your focus on consistency, rameumptom, and how that highlights that everyone brings an interpretative lens to ancient scripture–choosing to accept some premises while rejecting others. The many sets of competing ideas within the Biblical texts, where both sides are canonized, make the slippery slope argument regarding miracles untenable IMO.

    For me, the work of reassessing the the Creation, Flood, and Fall myths as an adult has been a fascinating and double-pronged approach. On the one hand, source criticism has given me a framework for interpreting how and why the Biblical texts were produced and assembled. This has led to a greater appreciation for ancient cultures and the questions they asked about our origins. On the other, modern scientific inquiry has shown that some questions asked by our ancestors are no longer sensical. To wit, the human genome is inconsistent with descent from a single pair of humans, so the question “Who were the first two humans?” only has frustrating answers. Within the framework of evolution, speciation can occur without a single life form ever being a different species than its parent(s). So, there’s a tension at the interface between modern and ancient interpretative frameworks that IME takes generations to resolve on any particular topic.

  66. For me the important point to remember is that God(s) is(are) *bound* by eternal law. They exist as God(s) because they completely understand and obey eternal law. God(s) had to follow eternal law with respect to the Plan of Salvation, the Atonement, Creation, etc. When the second coming occurs and the mass resurrection starts it will be consistent with eternal law. Science is our best attempt to understand eternal law,. To the extent science gets things correct those theories will mess perfectly with eternal law, since reality also messes perfectly with eternal law, the scientific method (structured testing of falsifiable conjectures/hypotheses) is the best method we have to uncover eternal law.

    Relying solely on revelation to learn eternal law is somewhat problematic as the revelation must come through a person and that person’s preconceptions and biases filter the information.

    Eternal progression is not only going to require obedience, it will also eventually require the most intensive science education in the universe.

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