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Monday, October 24, 2005

The Flood and the Black Sea

On my LDSFAQ page on science and Mormon beliefs, I have discussed the issue of Noah's flood and offered my personal view - shared by many LDS people - that the flood must have been a local flood. But even reducing the scope of the flood to local rather than global proportions leaves many questions unanswered, including the question of where any evidence can be found for such a major flood. But Mike Parker recently posted a link to an insightful article that may offer a possible answer. I recommend that you read "Noah's Flood: Modern Scholarship and Mormon Traditions" by Duane E. Jeffery, Sunstone, Oct. 2004, pp. 27-45. According to one hypothesis currently being explored, the regions that were wiped out by Noah's flood may presently still be underwater and unexplored in the region that is now the Black Sea. Preliminary evidence points to the possibility of a massive flood around 5600 B.C. as breach of the Bosporus land bridge allowed waters from the Mediterranean Sea to flood the area, expanding a small ancient freshwater lake into the present Black Sea. If evidence of flooded cities under the Black Sea is found, the hypothesis will become more interesting.

58 comments:

Bookslinger said...

If Adam lived in what is now the Northern part of the Western Hemisphere, I wonder if we can assume that all or most of his descendants through Noah also lived in the general area.

If so, did the flood somehow carry Noah from the Western Hemisphere to the Middle East?

I wonder what is meant by the phrase "in his days was the earth divided" in Genesis 10:25, in reference to Peleg, who was 4 generations descended from Shem. Could that have been the separation of the Western Hemisphere from Europe and Africa?

Wouldn't it be cool to get a "Genesis Commentary" direct from Moses?

Mike Parker said...

Indy,

It would seem to me that Noah would have been carried during the Flood from the Western to Eastern hemispheres. The Genesis account indicates he was on the ark over a year; this is more than enough time to make the journey.

The division in Genesis 10:25 is a cultural division, i.e. a separation of peoples based on shared languages and belief systems. A movement of the earth's tectonic plates of only a few feet causes massive earthquakes; a separation of hemispheres in as short a time as you suggest would have ripped the earth apart.

Bookslinger said...

Mike, with every living thing having drowned (except sea creatures, I presume) and Noah floating safely on top of the water, a flood would have been the perfect time for the tectonic plates to separate, if indeed that was the case.

I can't put my finger on it, but isn't there a scripture that says that at one time all the land on earth was in one land-mass?

In a couple places, scriptures say that the mountains will flow down, valleys will be made level, and all the land will be gathered into one place at the Lord's second coming. Maybe the phrase "as it was in the beginning" is in there somewhere, and that implies that land was all in one land mass in the beginning.

When I read that, I was a little sad at thinking we're going to lose all the beautiful mountains and valleys, and lose a lot of shore line.

ltbugaf said...

The reference is Genesis 10:25-- "And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan," or 1 Chronicles 1:19--"And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg; because in his days the earth was divided: and his brother’s name was Joktan."

However, the interpretation you give to "the earth was divided" is certainly not the only one. Some suppose that the division was a more basic one, such as a political division, or something else. Many find it difficult to believe that the entire separation of the continents took place so suddenly, in the lifetime of one man.

ltbugaf said...

By the way, my apologies for being somewhat repetitive of the material already found in the first and second comments. I was writing a response the the third comment without reading as thoroughly as I should have.

Mike Parker said...

Indy,

Whether the plates are submerged or not makes no difference — when they move even slightly, huge disasters occur (witness the underwater earthquake and resulting tsunami last year in the Indian Ocean). For the South American and African continents to be separated during the lifetime of a single person (Peleg), the required tectonic forces would disintegrate the earth. In other words, it just isn't possible according to the laws of physics.

The scriptural references to the mountains flowing down (Isa 64:1), valleys being exalted (Isa 40:4), etc., are allegorical, similar to D&C 128:23's call for the valleys to cry aloud, the trees to praise the Lord, and the rocks to weep for joy. One of the common errors made by us westerners to is to read the highly metaphorical writings of orientals (like Isaiah and the Revelation of John) and interpret them literally.

David said...

There are some more clear verses on what is ment by "the earth was divided. In the Doctrine and Covenants(D&C 133: 23-24)

http://scriptures.lds.org/dc/133/23#23

Bookslinger said...

Thanks David, that's what I was trying to think of.

I'm thinking that the tectonic plates shifted during the _flood_ and that the division in Peleg's day was something else.

From DC 133:

19 Wherefore, prepare ye for the coming• of the Bridegroom; go ye, go ye out to meet him.

20 For behold, he shall stand• upon the mount of Olivet, and upon the mighty ocean, even the great deep, and upon the islands of the sea, and upon the land of Zion.

21 And he shall utter• his voice out of Zion•, and he shall speak from Jerusalem, and his voice• shall be heard among all people;

22 And it shall be a voice as the voice• of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder•, which shall break• down the mountains, and the valleys shall not be found.

23 He shall command the great deep, and it shall be driven back into the north countries, and the islands• shall become one land;
24 And the land of Jerusalem and the land of Zion shall be turned back into their own place, and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided•.

Mike Parker said...

Again, there are several ways to interpret that passage. The most literal reading is not necessarily the correct one.

Shadow Spawn said...

Then again, it's not entirely out of the realm of God's powers to have flooded the whole earth. There is still the interesting story of a large vessel of some sort possibly buried in ice on Mt. Ararat.

I also have to wonder, if it was just a localized flood, then why did God command Noah to collect all those animals? I am not trying to debunk the theory that the flood was localized, it probably was, but I think it was probably on a much grander scale than the word "local" seems to suggest.

Bookslinger said...

Mike, the plates being submerged, and the only surviving humans floating at the surface in open ocean (not a continental shelf) makes a big difference.

Perhaps the division of the continents occurred during the flood, and the division during Peleg's life was some other kind of division.

The periods of tsunami waves are large, like 30 minutes. It is said that passengers aboard ships at sea can't tell (without sophisticated equipment) that a tsunami wave just passed under them, because you have 15 minutes from crest to trough.

The crust of the earth's surface which comprises the tectonic plates is relatively thin compared to the total volume of the earth. The magma underneath the plates is fluid and is a sea upon which the plates float. Lots can happen on the surface without seriously deforming the ball of magma underneath.

Another possibility is that the arrangements of the continents and tectonic plates could have been pre-Genesis.

Joseph Smith is reputed to have said that this planet was put together with fragments or pieces of a pre-existing planet. (We've had this conversation before.)

When Jehovah said in Abraham 3:24 "and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;" I think he was referring to materials that were from a pre-existing planet that was ready to be recycled, or re-made into a planet for _us_.

Perhaps the "beginning" of this earth, as described in Genesis, was not with virgin never-before-used planetary material, but was with "recycled" planetary material.

I think the point described as "in the beginning" in Genesis starts with the "materials" that were ready to be recycled. And that traces of those previous creations were not entirely wiped out, which could explain the fossil and geological record being millions of years older than what Genesis can account for.

Maybe we'll learn the real story in Planet Building 101 in the next life.

Mike Parker said...

Indy,

You are, of course, free to believe anything you wish. But it seems to me that you have to jump through improbable hoop after improbable hoop to arrive at the conclusions you do.

I don't think you're understanding what I'm saying about plate tectonics. The sea floor under the Atlantic Ocean is made up material that has come up from beneath the earth's surface — the South American and African plates are moving away from each other, while other plates are submerging beneath each other (it's a three-dimensional process, not just a two-dimensional one). The distance between South America and Africa has appeared over hundreds of millions of years; to exact the same results in a short period of time (only dozens or hundreds of years) would require so much force that the earth — the entire globe — would be torn apart and end up as rubble floating in space.

Your theory of the earth being assembled from chunks of other planets doesn't fly either. The fossil record appears in layers, with simpler organisms down deep, and higher layers having more complex organisms. This is true around the world, with the same layers showing the same types of organisms. This indicates that these fossils were placed there uniformly, over a long period of time. A world assembled from bits and pieces of other worlds would have different fossil types appearing randomly at different layers.

Anonymous said...

At no time anywhere have I ever heard from any teacher in Church that the flood was anything but global and that the Bible tells the literal story of Noah. No missionary that I know of has ever taught that the flood was not global. I had several discussions on my misssion with other missionaries and they all agreed. The flood was global and it was the babtisim of the earth by water.
BOMII, some of the things you are suggesting fly in the face of science and geology as we know it. Of course you could just say, Well God can do anything he wants. But that would certainly not help furthur any discussion on topics such as these.

BYU alter ego said...

Shadow Spawn: "I also have to wonder, if it was just a localized flood, then why did God command Noah to collect all those animals? I am not trying to debunk the theory that the flood was localized, it probably was, but I think it was probably on a much grander scale than the word "local" seems to suggest."

I was wondering when someone would finally get to that point...lol.

LDS leadership have repeatedly endorsed the concept that the flood was worldwide. Many symbolisms have been taught such as the Earth having need of baptism, both by water and fire. Of course the water part is by immersion.

Ham is supposed to be the route which the the seed of Cain survive.

Also, Genesis, aka canonized scripture, the gold standard, what have you cleary describes a worldwide devastation, ie; last eight people, mountain tops covered etc...

I don't think I have to go into detail about the argument for a literal flood, I'm sure you're all familiar with it.

But I wanted to ask you all a question:

If it's not okay to subscribe to Genesis and thus the Bible as being literally interpreted and historical, why isn't it then okay to believe the Book of Mormon too is not historical?

Canon is canon right?

Bookslinger said...

BYU Alter: Just because parts of Genesis may not be literal to a 20th Century mind-set, doesn't mean it's not historical. That's a pretty big jump.

Whether the flood was universal or localized has no bearing on whether there was actually a flood or a Noah.

If parts of the Book of Mormon are not literal, that actually adds credence to it, because many of the arguments against the historicity of the BoM require a literal interpretation of it

ltbugaf said...

First, a few generalities (please be patient).

It's good and useful to look at these passages of scripture and try to reconcile them with scientific knowledge. But in the absence of further revelation, ultimately we're still just guessing.

I believe that there is much we don't yet know in the scientific world, and also much we don't yet know about the true meaning of the scriptures (as well as the gaps left in the scriptures). I also believe that when we do have all knowledge, we will see where we were wrong in both areas and all the truths, learned by study and also by faith, will harmonize. But for the time being, we shouldn't overestimate our ability to figure these things out through guesswork.

Now to get a little more specific:

Many posters insist that since current scientific knowledge doesn't support the possibility of a worldwide flood, or of a rapid division of the continents, some other more scientifically acceptable interpretation of these passages MUST be correct. Other posters seem to insist that since the scriptures are scripture, the science must simply be wrong. I think neither position is a very defensible one.

We should remember that God works miracles. In other words, he does things we don't understand and can't explain scientifically. That doesn't mean they VIOLATE the laws of nature or science. But it must at least mean that they conform to those laws in ways we don't understand.

So what we know about the consequences of tectonic shifts doesn't lead inevitably to the conclusion that God couldn't cause one to happen in a way we don't yet understand through science, that wouldn't cause the calamities normally associated with such shifts. What we know about floods doesn't preclude the greatest Scientist of all from bringing about a worldwide flood in a way we don't understand.

On the other hand, the fact that scriptures contain mistakes (see Book of Mormon Title Page as well as the Articles of Faith) means that some of what we read is probably not historically true. That's all right, because its value as scripture is not always the same as its value as history. So the fact that the scriptures say something happened, or even say it happened in a certain way, doesn't always have to mean that those details are fully accurate. And it doesn't mean we're losing faith if we muse or speculate about possible reconciliations of science and scripture that include some scriptural error.

I know I'm not saying anything earth-shaking or new for most of those who are reading. But I think we ought to be a lot less cocksure about categorically stating that, for example, Peleg's division was definitely a political/cultural division rather than a physical one, or vice-versa. All we can really do is keep studying these things out in our minds and waiting until the Lord thinks it's proper to let the real answers come to us.

Bookslinger said...

Mike,
Your assertion that a quick separation of plates would have reduced the earth to rubble floating in space is just as speculative as my belief that it may have happened quickly. My model does not imply the types and direction of forces you apparently think it does.

We don't really know how Jehovah and others created moons, planets, solar systems and galaxies, or whether they created them out of virgin unorganized elements or recycled (previously organized) elements. But I must assume he/they were able to apply forces on planetary and galactic levels. We are told that the very elements obey his mere word. How that translates into or supercedes "F=ma", I don't know. The Lord is not limited to Newtonian physics.

Secondly, I don't think I said that the earth is made up of more than one previous planet. I wrote that it came from parts (plural) of one previous planet, I.E., a pre-existing planet got recycled with a new beginning.

Bookslinger said...

Anon at 6:29,
Actually, the recycled planet theory tends to resolve the geological and fossil record with the biblical account, suggesting that fossils are the remnants of a previous "creation" upon this sphere. Perhaps those animals lived and died upon this planet, and after all was extinct, that is when the Lord uttered Abraham 3:24.

Otherwise, one is forced to conclude that the 6 periods of creation lasted millions of years, or that Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden for millions of years, in order for the fossil record to be laid down.

Schuyler said...

I like the following scripture (D&C 101: 32-34) because it hints to us that we can’t fully discover how the earth was created without being taught by God. It also points out that it is important for us to understanding how and why the earth was created. Regardless, I can't image the Lord creating the Earth in such a way as to deceive us.

32 Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day• when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal• all things—

33 Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof—

34 Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven.

There's a scripture that says all things testify of God. Those first 10 or so chapters of Genesis are filled with lots of mysteries. How was the earth created? Where does the ice age fit into the flood story, and the dividing of the earth. Was sea level so low that the continents were connected? Also, after the flood, we see an exponential decline man’s life expectancy. If this is not due to a change in how age was calculated, what happened in nature to change man's life expectancy?

What I find interesting is geologist's understanding of cataclysmic events. Until the last 10-20 years mainstream theories were based upon gradual change (uniformitarianism.) Now, they are finding that the earth history is laced with a series of cataclysmic events.

I read a book written 40 years ago that postulated the ice age was caused by an extra-terrestrial ice body being trapped and shattered by the earth's gravity. The resulting minus 100-150F charged ice particles were attracted to the poles, froze the mammoths and changed the earths's atmosphere. An interesting theory. I tend to believe something cataclysmic happened to the earth, but doubt the earth was completely flooded. The diversity of man and creatures contradict the extinction of all life except for those one the arc.

BYU alter ego said...

BOM INDY: "If parts of the Book of Mormon are not literal, that actually adds credence to it, because many of the arguments against the historicity of the BoM require a literal interpretation of it."

Indy, something being not literal, not historical makes it fiction. There's no truth in fiction.

Fiction is pretty easy to defend, you don't see J.K. Rowling having to explain the physics of flying broomsticks do you?

Sarah said...

Books of Mormon in Indy said:

"If parts of the Book of Mormon are not literal, that actually adds credence to it, because many of the arguments against the historicity of the BoM require a literal interpretation of it."

come again?? Maybe you want to try and untie that pretzel of logic...

Bookslinger said...

One of the arguments against a truely universal flood is the biblical statement that the waters receded. Where could they recede to if literally 100% of the earth's surface was already covered?

If the flood were universal and lasted for months, would not all the land vegetation have died? And if so, how could the dove have recovered an olive leaf?

A universal flood would require us to assume miraculous intervention to either preserve or restore-to-life flora and fauna that were not on the ark.

Switching models for a moment, let's assume it really was a literal 100% universal flood, and ask "What circumstances and events would enable a 'receding of waters' in the universal flood model?"

A possible answer to that question could be that prior to the flood, the oceans were not as deep as they are now, and the mountains were not as high as they are now. If so, then the oceans were deepened, and mountains were created and/or made taller, i.e., some kind of tectonic upheaval during the flood. If that happened, the waters could have receded to the now-deeper oceans thereby exposing land.

Either model, universal or localized, requires the presence of events that we either have no geological record of, or no biblical record of. Either our scriptural information or our historical/geological knowledge is incomplete, or both.

BYU alter ego said...

Bom INDY: "Either model, universal or localized, requires the presence of events that we either have no geological record of, or no biblical record of. Either our scriptural information or our historical/geological knowledge is incomplete, or both."

Or, the Bible could just be full of tall tales like the BOM.

Bookslinger said...

BYU-Alter:

Things can be figurative and still be true. "Not literal" doesn't equate to fiction. Where did you get that?

Something can be figurative, I.E., "not literal," and still be true. Duh.

How often do you use figurative phrases or idioms and still assert their truthfulness? Have you ever asserted someone is "full of excrement"? (um, wording changed to fit blog standards), or "has his head up his butt"? Or "I've told you a MILLION times!"

Doesn't everyone use similar non-literal phrases to convey a true idea or actual event?

Noah's statement about "all the earth" does not have to be literal as the 20th/21st century mind understands the phrase. It's already been said that "the whole earth" could still be a true statement in that it was everything that Noah could see with his eyes.

Whether or not Noah's statements were literal in the 20th/21st century meaning of literal has no bearing on whether or not there was a flood. Is it that hard to understand? "All the earth" = figurative (not literal), but there still was a cataclysmic flood?

See Jeff's write-up on the Flood at:
http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/science.shtml#flood
where he illustrates other figurative descriptions in the Bible:

----------------------------

"But such language is commonly used figuratively to indicate a significant extent without requiring a literal reading. For example, in Deuteronomy 2:25, as the Lord is commanding Moses to go battle Sihon the Amorite, of Heshbon, the Lord encourages Moses with these words:

'This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee.'

Now should we imagine that the lords of the Olmec empire in southern Mexico would soon be learning of that awesome warrior, Moses, and tremble in fear and anguish? Did the emperor of China lose sleep, worried that Moses and his several thousand warriors might make a surprise thrust across thousands of miles to overthrow his empire?"

----------------------------

A literal interpretation of scripture is not always necessary. But it generally is necessary in order for RfM'ers to raise strawmen to attack.

Samuel said...

"Or, the Bible could just be full of tall tales like the BOM."

I hesitate to ask, but what tales in the BoM do you think are false?

Anonymous said...

Whether the flood was global or local is really secondary to what the Bible says about the gathering of the animals. The Bible is very clear that every animal with the breath of life outside the ark perished. I don't think there is much dispute about that. Yet, for that to be true, it would mean that every mammal died that was not on the ark. I don't think people understand the scope of that statement. Have you ever counted how many mammals there are? And you would need at least 2 of each. Don't forget water and food for a year as well. I once had a Sunday school lesson where the teacher suggested that for this to be true, the ark would have to be the size of the North American Continent. It was amazing to see people come unglued at that suggestion. The whole class errupted in chaos with the arguing and several chairs were sent flying across the room. (I am being literal when I speak of flying chairs here)

Bookslinger said...

BYU-Alter:

Those who deny the divine origin of the Bible are on shaky ground when their attacks are directed solely against one church instead of on Christianity and Judaism as a whole.

If the Bible is full of tall tales...

Uh, wait a second. Did you mean that LITERALLY? :-)

uh.. back to my point...

Don't you see the lack of standing and lack of logic that an atheist or agnostic has when attacking no other canon than the Book of Mormon or no other church than the LDS church ?

The Book of Mormon presumes the divine origin of the Bible. The LDS church presumes the existence of a God.

Once one denies the Bible, or denies the existence of God, then all further arguments are superfluous.

Attacking the Book of Mormon or the LDS church, but not their underlying presumptions (Bible/God)is to give credence to those underlying presumptions.

The mere utterance "the Mormons aren't the true church" itself implies the existence of God.

To pick on the LDS and no other church is to lend credence to the others.

If every Mormon were to renounce the Book of Mormon and the LDS church, and go join other churches, what would you do? Would your job be done? Or would you track us down in those other churches and attack those churches too, until we had all renounced the very existence of God?

What's your goal? To make everyone an agnostic/atheist? And why us? Why not the Catholics? Are they "stupid" or "deluded" too for believing in God? Are Mormons "more stupid" or "more deluded" than other religions, and that's what merits attacking our beliefs?

Are all Christians stupid and deluded, but somehow Mormons are worse? Is that why you go after us?

Are members of other churches allowed on the RfM board? What about ex-Mormons who go join other churches? How are they treated on the RfM board? Are they ridiculed for still believing in God, or are they patted on the back for leaving the Mormons?

Agnostics and atheists who speak and work against the Book of Mormon and the LDS church, but against NO other church, are implying all other churches and docrrines are better or "more acceptable" than the LDS church and doctrine. Yet if there is no God, they are just as 'wrong' as we are.

I can respect devout and sincere members of other religions who think the Mormons are deluded, and who try to correct us from our allegedly erroneous beliefs. They actually have something good that they believe in, and want to share it, and build it up.

I can respect agnostics and atheists who say they disagree with us and just ask to be left alone.

Those who want to tear down others' beliefs but have no overarching philosophy with which to replace them, well, I don't know how to respect them yet.

ghettooutlaw said...

A great website to visit for more information on this topic is The Institute for Creation Research at icr.org. The website has a wealth of information from HIGHLY qualified, educated scientists in every field who adhere to a literal reading of the Biblical account of the flood. In addition, I like what my father-in-law once told me, "Anytime science and scripture appear to clash it is because science is in error or we do not understand the science through which God causes things to happen."

Mike Parker said...

A few summary thoughts:

1) Someone claimed that every missionary he knew believed the Flood was global. Someone else claimed that every general authority he ever heard speak on the subject said the Flood was global. My response is just because something is widely believed does not mean it is true. There are many assumptions that we bring to the scriptures that affect how we interpret them. The majority of Christians have believed the Flood to be global, and as they converted to the LDS faith they brought their pre-existing beliefs with them — their fundamentalist spectacles, as it were.

2) Nowhere in scripture is it claimed that the Flood was a "baptism" of the earth. This belief has been advanced by Latter-day Saints as an interpretation without any revelation to back it up.

3) When we read the account of the Flood, we need to keep in mind that it was written thousands of years after the fact, by a people whose scientific understanding of the world was extremely primitive, based on a first-person account of the events (Noah's). From Noah's perspective the entire world was flooded and all animal life was destroyed. That doesn't mean there were places beyond his line of sight that weren't destroyed.

4) Considering the vast diversity of life on the earth — estimated at ten million macroscopic species — it is simply ludicrous to claim that every land animal came out of a single ship 5000 years ago. The biological uniqueness of such places as Australia simply sinks that theory. (Unless one is willing to claim that God miraculously overcame all the logical and scientific impossibilities in the Flood story.)

5) It is possible for a historical record to contain history that is based on the limited understandings of the writers, and yet is still history. Just because the story of the Flood has been exaggerated by the writers beyond what it really was does not mean that there wasn't a Noah (or a Moses). And just because the Bible contains some element of allegory, does not mean that it is all allegory. The same applies to the Book of Mormon: Just because Mormon, writing 1000 years after the fact, may have misstated some of the early historical record, doesn't mean there wasn't a Lehi or a Nephi. The "all or nothing" approach suggested by BYU-Alter is a fundamentalist reading that requires overly strict interpretation or complete rejection of the text as authentic (a common error on the part of ex-Mormons).

Finally, Jeff encouraged us all to read Duane Jeffery's Sunstone article, but it doesn't sound like anyone has. I recommend it before opining any further on this subject.

Shadow Spawn said...

TO INDY, JEFF, AND MIKE PARKER

The following I have typed verbatim from W. Cleon Skousen’s book, “The First 2,000 Years” I think you both may be interested to read these remarks as he seems to refute many of the statements made in this thread, and he backs it up with scripture and statements from prophets. I offer it for your consideration.

Did the flood cover the entire Earth?
Many students have wondered how such a thing could be possible. Numerous explanations have been given. The important thing to keep in mind, however, is that persons living in that day witnessed the fact that it did occur. In summarizing these events for modern students the Lord himself verifies that it did occur. The scripture could not be much plainer than to say that “all the high hills under the whole heavens were covered. . .and the mountains were covered.” The scriptures indicate that it was not until the tenth month after the commencement of the flood that the tops of the mountains were again seen!43

Some students have assumed that this was just a local flood and have believed that the Bible is merely describing the destruction of life in a “given area.” However, the scriptures clearly refute any such interpretation.

First, the Lord declared that this great Flood would destroy “all flesh from off the earth”44 No local flood would have fulfilled this prediction.

Second, we know from modern scriptures that the Ark was launched from the Western Hemisphere and finally came to rest on a high peak of the Eastern Hemisphere. This would require a world-wide flood.

Third, the Lord has verified the fact that the Flood included the part of the earth which is now America. He made known to Ether that “after the waters had receded from off the face of THIS LAND it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord.”45 Note also that after the Flood it was necessary for the Jaredites to replenish America with animal life by bringing with them “flocks and herds and whatsoever beast or animal of fowl they should carry with them.”46

Fourth, the great Flood is spoken of as the “baptism” of the earth or burial of the earth in water. As Brigham Young declared: “The earth. . .has been baptized with water, and will, in the future be baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost, to be prepared to go back into the celestial presence of God.”47 The symbolism of baptism for the earth would require a universal flood. John A. Widtsoe declared: “The Latter-day Saints. . .look upon the Flood as a baptism of the earth, symbolizing a cleansing of the impurities of the past, and the beginning of a new life. This has been repeatedly taught by the leaders of the Church. The deluge was an immersion of the earth in water.”48

THREE MORE PARAGRAPHS. BEAR WITH ME. VERY VERY WORTH WHILE


How many animals could be accommodated in the Ark? Scientists and scholars have wondered how a single vessel - even as large as the Ark - could have possibly housed enough animals to account for all of the species which now exist on the earth. However, the problem is simplified somewhat as we gain a better knowledge of the laws of heredity and learn that from a single set of parents a great variety of “breeds” or types may eventually be produced.

In this connection one authority states: “The term ‘species’ may be defined as a group of individuals of animals of plants which breed together freely and reproduce fertile offspring; hence all dogs, wolves, coyotes, jackals and dingoes, all of which are inter fertile, needed to have only one pair to represent them in the Ark. The same applied ot the cat family which includes the lions, tigers, pumas. leopards, jaguars, wild cats, ocelots and others. . .”23

Darwin observed the fact that many different types are merely variations of a common ancestor.

23 - A.M. Rehwinkel, the flood, P. 70
43 - Genesis 8:5
44 - Moses 8:30
45 - Ether 13:2
46 - Ether 6:4
47- Brigham Young, October 6, 1863, JD 10:252
48 - John A. Widtsoe, evidences and reconciliation's, 1:111.


I think Skousen makes a very strong case here guys. Don’t get me wrong. I have total respect for one who strives to see the science behind the scriptures, but I think we can get carried away sometimes to the point where we shoot beyond the simple answer that lies right in front of us in the scriptures. We get involved in discussion of the tectonic plates and what not, when the answer might be simply, God did it. We might not know how, so let’s move on.

Anonymous said...

Mike P.: All things are possible with God and all things are in His hands. The fact that current scientific understanding (which is ever changing) says one thing does not negate God's power to do all things, including create the earth, divide the earth, and flood the earth.

You haven't established the fact that Moses or Noah exaggerated anything in their records. I do not think it is right for you to disparage LDS leaders and members as fundamentalists or primitive thinkers.

BYU alter ego said...

Samuel: "I hesitate to ask, but what tales in the BoM do you think are false?"

All of them of course... :)

BYU alter ego said...

Indy: "Something can be figurative, I.E., 'not literal,' and still be true. Duh."

Figurative: "Expressing one thing in terms normally denoting another with which it may be regarded as analogous : METAPHORICAL"

No, something is figurative when it's analogous or metaphorical, not true.

True is historical, true are events that actually happened, true are real people, duh.

BYU alter ego said...

BOM INDY: "Those who deny the divine origin of the Bible are on shaky ground when their attacks are directed solely against one church instead of on Christianity and Judaism as a whole."

BYU Alter Ego = Agnostic

See my blog... :)

Mike Parker said...

Shadow Spawn: Quoting Cleon Skousen does absolutely nothing for me. Skousen is frequently wrong in his interpretations, and his works have had far, far too much influence over LDS thinking during the last 50 years. He represents a school of thought that requires the most literal interpretation, seen through Western eyes (a school echoed by Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie), and one that is anti-science (i.e., evolution is a fraud, the earth is only 6000 years old, etc.). It's unfortunate that other LDS voices that accepted scientific discoveries (like James E. Talmage and Henry Eyring) have been subordinated to more fundamentalist thinkers.

Anonymous: It is not my intention to "disparage" LDS leaders. All I'm doing is pointing out the limits of our understanding and the limits of revelation. It is natural to try to correlate one's understanding of the universe with the scriptural record. In so doing, many Latter-day Saints have come to illogical or incorrect conclusions. That does not mean that some of these people are not called of God to lead His Church; it means they have their own opinions and beliefs, some of which are right, and some of which are wrong. "A prophet is only a prophet when he is acting as such," etc.

Yes, it's possible that God overcame many of the logical and scientific difficulties presented in the Genesis account simply by miracle. It's possible that the earth is only 6000 years old, that the Flood produced enough water to cover the entire surface of the earth (including Mount Everest), that every species of plant and animal is descended from two ancestors 5000 years ago, etc. But is it logical? Based on the fossil record, carbon dating, and other scientific data, is it not more plausible to say that the early Genesis account represents the best understanding of a primitive people, based on the limited light and knowledge God gave them, and that we now know better today? They weren't exaggerating anything, they were simply describing the world from their point of view, a point of view that has since been superseded by further light and knowledge.

To me, the message of Genesis is that God created the earth and is the Father of mankind. How he did it is not important; that he did it is.

Mike Parker said...

BYU Alter-Ego: "True is historical, true are events that actually happened, true are real people, duh."

I don't think you grasp the limits of history or the historical record. History has always been written by people who have a limited perspective — what they could see or the materials they had available, and the presumptions they brought to their task. This means that all histories (even modern ones) are inaccurate to some degree. But just because they are not "events as they actually happened" does not mean that something didn't happen or that the people in those histories didn't exist.

This has great bearing on religious texts (including the Bible and the Book of Mormon), for they may not describe what happened perfectly due to the limitations of later authors, but it's still possible that the people in them did exist and did do some of the things they are credited with doing.

Shadow Spawn said...

TO MIKE PARKER,

I full heartedly agree with your position on Skousen. His interpretations are not revelation, and his work has to be taken with a grain of salt. However, I was hoping you would read his quotation of Brigham Young's and John A. Widtsoe's. For your benefit I will re past their quotes here:

Fourth, the great Flood is spoken of as the “baptism” of the earth or burial of the earth in water. As Brigham Young declared: “The earth. . .has been baptized with water, and will, in the future be baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost, to be prepared to go back into the celestial presence of God.”47 The symbolism of baptism for the earth would require a universal flood. John A. Widtsoe declared: “The Latter-day Saints. . .look upon the Flood as a baptism of the earth, symbolizing a cleansing of the impurities of the past, and the beginning of a new life. This has been repeatedly taught by the leaders of the Church. The deluge was an immersion of the earth in water.”

I think this directly affects what you said earlier:

"2) Nowhere in scripture is it claimed that the Flood was a "baptism" of the earth. This belief has been advanced by Latter-day Saints as an interpretation WITHOUT ANY REVELATION TO BACK IT UP."

I think the two above statements can refute your claim here, and have to be taken into consideration when making the argument that the great Flood was localized. Don't read Skousen't interpretation. Just read the scriptures and prophetic statements he provides in my above post. It's pretty cut and dry.

BYU alter ego said...

Mike Parker: "I don't think you grasp the limits of history or the historical record. History has always been written by people who have a limited perspective — what they could see or the materials they had available, and the presumptions they brought to their task."

By historical I mean real, something that could be written as a history. Historical implies that a story not be an allegory, or a metaphor, or symbolic, it contains events that really occurred.

My point to INDY was that if you can't take the canonized scripture at face value, then where's the value? If the lessons they teach can't be inferred by people like us who have "limited perspective" as you said then we have a problem.

The world being baptized by immersion as a lesson to follow Christ would be a good message. If it's not that, that what? Sinners will die?

If we have to infer it then nobody will get the same message. That's why Mormons rely on Prophets right? But like Shadow Spawn pointed out, you obviously dismiss that avenue of understanding in this case.

So what are you left with man?

Mike Parker said...

It's cut and dried only if you assume:

a) That Brigham Young was speaking from revelation and not personal belief or interpretation, and

b) That, for his metaphor to work, the entire earth had to be completely submerged, just as we require a human being to be completely submerged.

I'm not sure about (a) and I reject (b).

BYU alter ego said...

Mike Parker: "I'm not sure about (a) and I reject (b)."

About A: The idea that a prophet is only a prophet when he's a prophet is so ridiculous. It leaves such a huge chasm of ambiguity in what the leaders of the Church say and always leaves an escape clause for when they're wrong.

That whole notion is cowardly.

About B: Why reject the metaphor? It's just as metaphorical for people as it would be for the earth. People don't actually die and leave their sins in the water. So why wouldn't the same standard apply?

Mike Parker said...

BYU-Alter Ego,

I'm not sure I follow your line of reasoning in your last two messages, but let me see if I can respond.

By historical I mean real, something that could be written as a history. Historical implies that a story not be an allegory, or a metaphor, or symbolic, it contains events that really occurred.

My point was that all history contains inaccuracies and exaggerations, simply because the writers of history are limited in their understanding of the events and their views are tainted by their own beliefs. For example, the numbers of Israelites in the exodus are unrealistically high (in the millions), so it's quite possible that the original historians were exaggerating the figures, either intentionally (to inflate the significance of the exodus) or unintentionally (because of errors in transmission from the eyewitness accounts). But just because the exodus may not have included millions of Israelites, but only say, thousands, does not mean it didn't happen. Likewise, just because it's a logical impossibility to fit all land animals onto a ship the size of the ark doesn't mean there wasn't actually a Noah and a flood. The details may be garbled, but the essential story is still true. (I potentially see the same thing in the numbers of Nephite dead in Mormon's account of the final battles with the Lamanites.)

My point to INDY was that if you can't take the canonized scripture at face value, then where's the value? If the lessons they teach can't be inferred by people like us who have "limited perspective" as you said then we have a problem.

What I'm suggesting is a nuanced and interpretive reading of the scriptures, one that accepts that the earliest documents may not be completely accurate, but are accurate enough to convey the message that God operates among his children and commissions some of them to do great things.

When "taking the scriptures at face value" means that they have to be correct in every historical detail, then one is certain to be disappointed when the historical record falls short here or there. The authors of the Book of Mormon themselves explained several times that their writing was imperfect, but that the teachings in the book were from God (Title Page; 1 Nephi 19:6; 2 Nephi 33:4; Mormon 8:17; 9:31-33; Ether 12:23-26).

The world being baptized by immersion as a lesson to follow Christ would be a good message. If it's not that, that what? Sinners will die?

No. That Noah was faithful and obedient in the face of overwhelming rejection and sin, and was preserved by God because of his faithfulness.

If we have to infer it then nobody will get the same message. That's why Mormons rely on Prophets right? But like Shadow Spawn pointed out, you obviously dismiss that avenue of understanding in this case. So what are you left with man?

I don't dismiss prophets, I understand the limitations under which they operate. God does not tell them everything from beginning to end, nor does he tell them what opinions and beliefs to hold. God gives "line upon line, precept upon precept." There are many things the Church takes no position on simply because there has been no revelation on those subjects (evolution is a key example).

We've had this discussion before: Blind acceptance of everything that comes out of a prophet's mouth is not sanctioned or required by the Church. To be a Latter-day Saint means to use your intellect and the Holy Spirit together to determine the truth.

The idea that a prophet is only a prophet when he's a prophet is so ridiculous. It leaves such a huge chasm of ambiguity in what the leaders of the Church say and always leaves an escape clause for when they're wrong. That whole notion is cowardly.

No, the notion is realistic. God is not a puppet-master pulling the prophet's strings. Prophets have their own agency, are fallible, and put their pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us. This is why we have the Spirit — to help us determine when the prophet is speaking from God and when he's speaking of himself. This is a well-established LDS doctrine, and I'm surprised that you could spend so much time in the Church and think it's so aberrant on my part.

Why reject the metaphor? It's just as metaphorical for people as it would be for the earth. People don't actually die and leave their sins in the water. So why wouldn't the same standard apply?

I didn't say I reject the metaphor. I said it's not necessary for a complete immersion for the metaphor to work.

Mike Parker said...

One other thing I need to point out: This notion that the only good history is one that is completely accurate historically is a modern notion that been at play since about the time of the Renaissance. The vast majority of cultures that have ever lived have used history and allegory interchangably to tell great stories about great people.

When we require ancient scriptures to read like a modern history text, with citations and a bibliography, we're sure to be disappointed.

Shadow Spawn said...

MIKE PARKER

I think it's all too easy for people to say, " who knows if he was being prophetic or merely speaking from his own opinion." When confronted with a quote from a prophet that happens to contradict what they believe or have argued against.

You seem afwfully smug in your position, and unwilling to budge or open your mind to the possiblity that you may be wrong here. You come out with all-knowing statements like, claiming there is no scripture or revelation to back up the belief the earth was baptised. Then when someone provides you with a quote from a prophet you seek to discredit the quote. first by discrediting Skousen, who's work is some of the most important in modern LDS scripture study. Then you seek to discredit Brigham Young's quote by assuming he may not have been speaking prophetically at the time, even though what Brigham said is also backed by another quote from Widtsoe.

You and I have gone at it before with almost the same results. Remember the post on this blog called, " Remembering Nagasaki and Captain Moroni" ?

http://mormanity.blogspot.com/2005/08/remembering-nagasaki-and-captain.html#comments

You made a similar challenge then, " But I have yet to see one post where the mass extinction of 120,000 lives can be justified by a scripture or quote from a living prophet."

And when I provided you a quote by Orson Pratt during conference that dealt exactly with what we'd been discussing, you basically stopped commenting on topic.

I know you mean well, but I think you need to give some ground up when someone is able to meet your challenges with quotes from prophets, instead of seeking to discredit the source of the quotes.

Anonymous said...

"At no time anywhere have I ever heard from any teacher in Church that the flood was anything but global and that the Bible tells the literal story of Noah. "

Well, you missed my classes:) I've taught Institute and at BYU (in the Religion department and elsewhere). I've always told my students when they ask that I strongly lean towards a local flood.

Mike Parker said...

Shadow Spawn,

I'm sorry if my stance is frustrating you. For what it's worth, I feel the same frustration from Latter-day Saints who take the extreme literalist viewpoint on the early Genesis accounts, and who simply dismiss evolution, the fossil record, and carbon dating as false conspiracies to undermine the truth of the scriptures.

One point you made that I would like to directly respond to:

You come out with all-knowing statements like, claiming there is no scripture or revelation to back up the belief the earth was baptised. Then when someone provides you with a quote from a prophet you seek to discredit the quote. first by discrediting Skousen, who's work is some of the most important in modern LDS scripture study. Then you seek to discredit Brigham Young's quote by assuming he may not have been speaking prophetically at the time, even though what Brigham said is also backed by another quote from Widtsoe.

This is an important issue to me, and I've spent many years grappling with it. I do not dismiss Brigham Young (certainly not lightly), but I think there is a larger point here that many Latter-day Saints miss.

The fact is that Brigham Young's statement — most readily found in the enormously useful Journal of Discourses — represents Brigham Young's belief, not official LDS doctrine. Doctrine is established in (a) canonized scripture and (b) formal statements from the First Presidency. Outside of this, statements by general authorities are not formal doctrine. They may be true, but they are not doctrine.

So, for example: President Hinckley is interviewed by a San Francisco newspaper and asked about the teachings in the King Follett discourse. He downplays some of them. ("I don't think we teach it, I don't think we emphasize it.") Is his statement doctrine, or his personal belief? I would suggest the latter. Doctrine is not established in newspaper interviews, and President Hinckley was careful to state that he "thinks" (i.e., believes) that we don't teach or emphasize King Follett.

How about general conference? The talks there are given for our instruction and edification, but do not establish formal doctrine unless submitted to the Church for ratification. It is up to each member to use to Spirit to determine how best to apply what he or she learns at conference, but there is no standard of infallibility imputed to the speakers.

So my original statement still stands: There is no scriptural or revealed statement that the Flood was a baptism for the earth. It's an interesting idea, and it might be true, and because Brigham Young said it I should give it serious consideration, but I am not required to believe it because it is not accepted, sustained, established doctrine of the Church.

As far as Cleon Skousen goes, I think that, on balance, he has done about as much good as harm to the general LDS understanding of the scriptures. He takes an extreme conservative view of the scriptures, requiring literal interpretations and infallible texts. On Kevin Barney's scale, he's a solid 6. Personally I'm more of a 4.

Jeff Lindsay has a terrific article on the fallibility of prophets. I recommend it.

Mike Parker said...

Additional:

Jeff's article on prophetic fallibility references a terrific piece by Stephen Robinson, "What Is Official Doctrine?"

This is well worth reading, and articulates my position even better than I could have.

Anonymous said...

I find Professor Donald Parry's examination of the flood story to be very logical and scripturally sound.

His article can be found here.

Shadow Spawn said...

MIKE PARKER

I understand where you are coming from mostly. I just got the feeling from your previous posts that you are unbending in your stance, despite credible statements from prophets that seem to contradict what you believe.

Since your last post, I don't feel so "frustrated" with your stance. I just think it's important to remaiin open miinded enough ( both sides ) to be prepared to accept that yeah, despite scientific data there may be things that God has accomplished that may seem impossible to us.

I also think that we have to form our own opinions and feelings as the spirit guides us individually. But, I think we get into dangerous territory when we start to allow our own education, and what we think we know, begin to discredit stories from the scriptures. Not that that's what you are doing, but I think that the slope to that end is very slippery.

As far as Brigham Young's unofficial comment, therefore not scripture, or official doctrine goes; I think it would behoove us to consider a prophet's opinion, and take it seriously. In other words if Brigham believed it, who am I to reject it without serious consideration and evidence?

Mike Parker said...

I've read Parry's article, and its one great, fatal flaw is this comment from the fourth paragraph:

"There is a third group of people — those who accept the literal message of the Bible regarding Noah, the ark, and the Deluge. Latter-day Saints belong to this group. In spite of the world’s arguments against the historicity of the Flood, and despite the supposed lack of geologic evidence, we Latter-day Saints believe that Noah was an actual man, a prophet of God, who preached repentance and raised a voice of warning, built an ark, gathered his family and a host of animals onto the ark, and floated safely away as waters covered the entire earth."

Thus with a single stroke of the pen, Parry dismisses and disenfranchises the many Latter-day Saints who believe in a local flood.

I think Duane Jeffrey brings this up in his Sunstone article.

Mike Parker said...

Shadow Spawn,

Thank you for your conciliatory follow-up comments. I'm certain that both of us can hold different viewpoints on this issue and still be considered faithful Latter-day Saints.

A couple of responses:

I just think it's important to remain open minded enough (both sides) to be prepared to accept that yeah, despite scientific data there may be things that God has accomplished that may seem impossible to us.

I'm completely willing to accept that, otherwise I wouldn't be a Latter-day Saint. Science tells us that angels don't appear to people and that translations don't take place through the medium of stones. Yet, I believe both of these happened to Joseph Smith. Certainly there is a requirement for belief in the supernatural in any religion, including ours.

It may very well be that the entire earth was submerged in the Flood. I find it improbable and illogical, but I may be proven wrong. In the end, I don't think my salvation depends on it

But I have seen people reject the gospel over what they see as irreconcilable differences between the scriptures and science, and I'm trying to say that it's possible to accept science and a local flood while still maintaining a testimony of the gospel (I know because I've done it). Likewise, it is not necessary to ditch the gospel to embrace evolution.

As far as Brigham Young's unofficial comment, therefore not scripture, or official doctrine goes; I think it would behoove us to consider a prophet's opinion, and take it seriously. In other words if Brigham believed it, who am I to reject it without serious consideration and evidence?

I agree with you. What's the point of having a prophet if we don't listen to him? When the prophet speaks, my obligation as a covenant member of the Church is to take his words very seriously, ponder upon them, pray about them, and ask God how I can apply them. This is especially true of prophetic counsel (such as getting out of debt and reading the Book of Mormon).

Statements by general authorities on matters of doctrine are a related, but different, matter. I can study, ponder, and pray to know if a certain statement is true, and if I know it to be true then I should hold to it. But if it's not doctrine — presented and sustained — I'm not obligated to believe it.

Adam-God is a perfect example. If we are to believe everything that came out of Brigham Young's mouth, then we would need to seriously realign our beliefs on the nature of God. But Brigham's occasional teaching on Adam was not presented to and sustained by the Church, and later Church presidents did not follow the direction Brigham went. Was Brigham wrong? I don't know. Should we believe Adam-God? I don't think we're under any obligation to do so, and I think we're at least under obligation not to teach it or advocate publicly for it, because later Church presidents have warned against it.

As you can see, this is complex subject, with many subtle shades that are not easily seen by most members (and completely ignored by our critics).

Bookslinger said...

Shadow,

Just for the record, I am committed neither to a global flood or a localized flood. My posts merely tried to point out the assumptions and apparent contraditions that each would require, and the resolutions that each offers to the apparent contradictions of the other.

Secondly, a "localized" flood doesn't mean country-wide area. It still could have covered significant portions of the globe.

The pet-theory I'm strongly attached to is the recycled-planet theory (pieces of a single planet, not pieces of mulitple planets), in which the fossil record was laid down when this planet was a previous "creation". The Books of Abraham, Moses and Genesis can be interpreted and "nuanced" to allow for this.

This theory occured to me prior to having read that Joseph Smith said something to the same effect. (Granted, the only record, that I'm aware of, of his remarks on the subject is in someone's personal journal, and not in a more official document.)

Or course, we don't know for sure about the details of the creation or of the flood. But that doesn't mean we can't play the speculation game trying our best to understand the mysteries before they are finally revealed and explained in the future as described in the D&C.

Anonymous said...

After all this discussion, I guess when it comes right down to it, we have no idea if the flood is literal or not. We would have to discount what the General Authoritys have said about it and other Church scholars have written about it for years to believe in a localized flood. And only a literal reading of the Bible would suggest a literal global flood.
I do find it hard to believe the stories that are passed around about the earth being one land mass only a few thousand years ago. Or that the animals back then were few enough to get on the ark. Those theories just don't hold water. I guess we are left with the conclussion that in regards to God, anything is possible and He is all powerful.
Some would suggest that this is just another of those mysteries that helps us to learn faith.

JoelH said...

Indy,

The "recycled planet" theory holds water if you mean that this earth, our solar system, and the other things in our universe are made from recycled matter of a more fundamental nature (gas, dust, molecules, atomic particles). But I think it's a big stretch to assume that God took a number of leftover "pieces" of other worlds and assembled them together like a jigsaw puzzle. This runs contrary to everything we observe about forming planetary systems around other starts, etc. The heat, pressure, gravity, and other forces involved are so great that even if big chunks of rocks containing fossils were used, it would be impossible for fossils or other things to survive intact.

Bookslinger said...

I didn't write that this planet might be made of previous planets(plural). My belief is that it is from a previous planet (singular).

I used the word "pieces" [of a planet] because that is allegedly what Joseph Smith used. But Joseph Smith also (allegedly) said a singular planet, not multiple planets, was the source material.

A singular recycled planet is what my imagination conjured up, as a means to explain the fossil record, when I read (past tense) Abraham 3:24.

The theory only appears that far-fetched because some people are reading more into it than what I wrote. Or perhaps because some don't fully understand how Genesis really said the world was "organized", not "created". Even some LDS who accept the "organized" translation of the original word, still unnecessarily cling to the thought that the "organization" process had to have started with gases.

I believe the "organization" process of Genesis, and the "make an Earth upon which these may dwell" of Abraham, started with an old planet that had been wiped out, and it was essentially re-organized.

Throughout the scriptures, Heavenly Father uses a wonderful combination of the mundane and supernatural to accomplish his purposes. Our musings about the missing pieces of the creation story need not exclude one nor the other.

We need not assume that our world was "organized" (the original Hebrew word) at the same time as the Universe, or at the same time as other galaxies and solar systems. (Remember, that if we ascribe our whole observable Universe to Heavenly Father Elohim, then other gods must have other universes. Given that, and that at some point in eternity, Elohim "became" the god of this Universe, I'm led to wonder the state of the universe or physical matter that he inherited. Was it all gaseous atomic matter? Or was there any degree of organization to it? Does the "big bang theory" bear even a remote relationship to the origin of this universe?)

Remember that a key to understanding the Genesis and Abraham creation story is the more correct translation of "organize" as opposed to "create out of nothingness."

Moreover, there is nothing in Genesis or Abraham to demand that the "organizing" of Genesis or "make an earth" of Abraham 3:24 be construed as starting with mere atoms and molecules.

Because Elohim and Jehovah work in eternity, outside of time, and because other worlds were apparently created before ours, and because we had a spiritual existence prior to the organizing of this planet (for us), the point described as "in the beginning" in Genesis, or the point where "Here is material" was uttered cannnot be an "absolute" beginning. It is apparently (to me at least) a relative starting off point for the purpose of the narrative. Or merely our earth's beginning.

And if we accept the word "organized" as a more correct translation of the Hebrew "baurau" which the KJV translates as "created", then we can separate the original process in which the planetary ball was formed from the "organizational" process in which the planetary ball was organized into a world.

And if the planetary ball was organized into a world for us, there is also nothing that demands a belief that it never was organized previously into a world for others. It may or may not have been peopled.

If there are begotten sons and daughters of God on other planets (DC 76:24), and if this world of ours is not the first to have been made out of this planetary ball, it may well have been peopled anyway.

Although this planetary ball was not necessarily crushed and ground to molecular pieces to recycle it, the evidence of ice ages, carbon dating, the evidence of shifting for the magnetic north, etc., all point to MAJOR cataclysms that occurred before the evidence of human history.

The thing I really like about the recycled-planet theory is that it allows for the fossil and other geological records without requiring that Adam and Eve be in the Garden of Eden for eons while the fossil record was laid down. The more I envision the whole thing and ponder it, the more questions it seems to answer.

The scriptures and the geological record (that we know of so far) have huge gaps in them. There is plenty of room for conjecture.

So this all is just opinion and speculation on my part. And I will defend to the death your right to read my opinion!

Shadow Spawn said...

Who knows how long God really waited to put man on the earth after it was created? How long is a "day" in the creation? For all we know the earth sat without man for a few billion years.

Bookslinger said...

Shadow,
From the start of the creation story, ie, the start of Genesis, up until the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, there was no mortal flesh upon the Earth. The fall of Adam and Eve brought mortality and death into the world. Both their mortality, and the mortality of the plants and animals.

Therefore, it is unlikely that the fossil record (animals living and dieing) could have been laid down once the Genesis/Moses account commenced. That's my opinion at least.

I'm not sure what scripture backs that up. I could be wrong, and maybe all the plant and animal species really were mortal _before_ the fall of Adam and Eve. But my understanding is that the plants and animals were immortal as were Adam and Eve, and lost their immortality when Adam and Eve did.

Bookslinger said...

Since this thread is about the flood, I thought this comment might be more appropriate here.

I made a cool chart of the ages, birth years, and death years of the patriarchs from Adam to Shem/Ham/Japheth. (I don't know if this will line up right. Comments won't use fixed width fonts, so I used dashes.) But you can use it to see who was alive in who's life time, and problem knew each other. Let me know if you catch any errors.

Name------Year--Age@Birth-Age@-Year
-----------Born---Of-Son----Death--Died
Adam---------0---130-------930---930
Seth-------130---105-------912--1042
Enos-------235----90-------905--1140
Cainan-----325----70-------910--1235
Mahalaleel-395----65-------895--1290
Jared------460---162-------962--1422
Enoch------622----65------*430-*1052
Methuselah-687---187-------969--1656
Lamech-----874---182-------777--1651
Noah------1056---500
Shem,etc--1556--+100
Flood-----1656

* (when translated)
+ (approx age at flood)

Lamech died before his father, Methuselah.

Adam and Seth didn't have a chance to know Noah (in mortality at least) having died before he was born.

But everyone after them (except Enoch) had a chance to know Noah. Only Methuselah and Lamech knew Shem/Ham/Japheth.

Enoch's son and grandson, Methuselah and Lamech, were born before Enoch was translated, but were not translated with him, and remained in mortal flesh to have children.

Adam and Seth died before Enoch was translated. And the other patriarchs born before Enoch, from Enos to Jared, though alive at the time of translation, were not translated with Enoch, because they are noted to have died _after_ Enoch was translated.

Enoch knew everybody going back to Adam, but was translated 4 years before Noah was born. However, given that the ages were rounded off, or more likely truncated off to the year, an allowance for the rounding/truncating factor would allow the possibility that Enoch could have seen and blessed the young Noah.

In fact, everyone down to and including Noah's father, Lamech, was alive during Adam's lifetime, and must have known each other. Lamech would have been 54 when Adam died, and was probably at Adam's farewell speech at Adam-Ondi-Aman.

And they all probably knew what was going to happen with Lamech's son, Noah, that his family would be the sole survivors of the flood.

Noah was the first patriarch not to have seen Adam in the flesh.

Interesting how this line of patriarchs all died off before the flood, with Methuselah dieing the year of the flood.

Also of note is how long Noah waited to have children. There could have been at least four more generations from him before the flood. Maybe that was to spare him the agony of leaving any progeny behind, and to allow enough time for the previous patriarchs to die naturally.

Looked at this way, it was an interesting community.

MrNirom said...

Here is something I heard one time.. No references.. just ideas.

Prior to the flood.. earth had rings.. like Saturn. And these rings were made up of water. (The firmament in the Heavens)

There was not the water level there is today on the planet... so the deep of our now oceans were visible land.

Where mountains are today.. were not there back then as other have said.

When it started to rain.. it also included the water dump from the ring of water surrounding the planet that covered up what is now the bottom of the oceans.

It has been thought that before the flood.. because there was no water where the bottom of the ocean was.. people lived there. The elevation was much lower than our "sea level" of today which is one of the reasons that man lived much longer. He was not as "high" up.

Would it not be interesting to see what the earth would look like if you were able to remove the water from the oceans and put it out into space?