JMS Sunday School Lesson #6

January 31, 2006 | 190 comments
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Write on the board:

authorship
historicity
number symbolism
theme: covenants
intertextual readings
moral implications

Introduction
Because this is the first story that we study from the OT and because pretty much everyone is already familiar with it, it is a good opportunity to explore some issues that come up repeatedly in the study of the OT. We’ll look at several big issues and consider how they apply to our study of the flood.

Authorship
–Read 6:19 and 7:2. There are many small differences in the OT and this is how scholars explain them: The Documentary Hypothesis (i.e. JEPD). I am explaining this because you are very likely to encounter it since it is presupposition of virtually all OT scholarship—even the kind that makes it into Newsweek.

–The position thru history and of the Church today is that Moses is the author. So there is a disconnect.

–Possibilities:
(1) JEPD may be flat wrong (one of its weaknesses is that at some point an editor thought 6:19 and 7:2 could exist together, so why couldn’t an author have thought this?)
(2) Traditional history could be wrong in ascribing it to Moses.
(3) Some middle ground. Many possibilities: either many texts before Moses and he was the editor, or Moses writes an original that goes through many other editors after him, or in bulk it is all Moses’ with small exceptions inserted or deleted by others (i.e., end of Deut described Moses’ death).

–Discuss how authorship issues affect us when we read. I’ll assume that your testimony of the restored gospel doesn’t hinge on how many animals Noah took on the ark! Big point: to some extent it doesn’t matter—what matters is what the text teaches. And be grateful that we have prophets to clarify that!

–Questions or comments?

Historicity
–The big question is: Did the flood really happen?

–Good reasons to believe it was universal:
(1) more natural reading of Genesis 7:19-21
(2) better to err on the side of literal readings
(3) traditional reading; no church leader has taught otherwise and most seem to assume that it is literal
(4) issue of earth’s baptism

–Poor reasons to believe it was universal:
(1) because the scriptures must always be read literally
(2) because traditional readings are always right

–Good reasons to believe it was localized:
(1) ‘earth’ in Heb. Also means ‘land’ (cf. Genesis 4:14—Cain wasn’t kicked off the planet!)
(2) Nibley said that the story was literally true from Noah’s perspective, which explains above data points
(3) Moses 7:52 makes no sense unless people besides Noah’s lineage survived the flood because Noah is the great-grandson of Enoch
(4) several ‘parlor tricks’: extraterrestrial water, keeping those animals alive and fed, etc.
(5) Elder John A. Widstoe (an apostle and a scientist) suggested that a heavy, all-over rain could constitute immersion for purposes of flood and baptism, which suggests a willingness to tweak the story
(6) this story isn’t mentioned by prophets much at all, and the baptism angle gets very little attention; plus, would it have to be full immersion?
(7) it agrees with science

–Poor reasons to believe it was localized:
(1) Because it couldn’t have really happened. (I believe in a God who can raise the dead—a flood is small potatoes.)

–Cautions with either belief:
(1) cause of contention in Sunday School
(2) spending time justifying your view instead of working out ‘the moral of the story’
(3) assuming that it matters
(4) assuming that the other side is apostate or fundie nuts
(5) assuming that you are right (i.e., being unteachable)

–To sum: I think a faithful LDS can take either view; I think it is virtually impossible to change someone’s mind during a SS lesson; I think focusing on making your case can be detrimental to understanding what the story can teach us.

–Questions or comments?

Number Symbolism
–The idea that a number could be symbolic is very foreign for us, very normal for the Hebrews.

three—symbolizes God (the Godhead has three members)
four—symbolizes the Earth (see Isaiah 11:12, Ezekiel 7:2, and Jeremiah 49:36)
five—symbolizes the Law of Moses (the five books of Moses)
seven—symbolizes completeness or perfection (seven days in the Creation week)
ten—symbolizes the Law of Moses (Ten Commandments, tithing)
twelve—symbolizes all of Israel (twelve tribes)

–So when we encounter a number, we have to decide whether it is just a number, just a symbol, or both. Example: when Jesus tells us to forgive 7 * 70, I don’t think that means you get to punch someone for the 491st infraction. 7 is a symbol for completeness or totality, multiplying symbolizes, well, multiplying, and factors of 10 symbolize ‘a lot.’ This means that Jesus is really emphasizing the idea of complete forgiveness.

–A good way to go about trying to decide whether a number is literal, a symbol, or both is to think about other uses of that number in the scriptures.

–One example: It rains for 40 days and 40 nights (7:4). What else are there 40 of in the scriptures?
(a) period of embalming (Gen 50:3)
(b) children of Israel in wilderness (Ex 16:35)
(c) Moses on mount with Lord, fasting (Ex 24:18)
(d) spies in land of Canaan (Num 13:25)
(e) Jesus fasts (Matt 4:2)
(f) Jesus with disciples after his death (Acts 1:3)

–So: is the 40 days and nights of rain literal, symbolic, or both? If it has a symbolic element, what is it? What do we learn from it?

–I am hesitant to ever dismiss a literal reading without a solid reason.

–There seems to be a symbolic level.

–The references involve a trial, but also God’s care during that trial.

–Other symbolic numbers in the story (seven animals?)?

Theme: Covenants
–Read 9:8-13 and discuss. (Note that ‘bow’ means hunting bow. What is the suggestion?)

–Notice how in 6:17-18 covenants are set in opposition to destruction.

Intertextual Readings
–Number symbolism is a special type of this, but there are many others. This is one of the best ways of getting more out of the scriptures.

–Parallels to the creation story:

Creation……………………………………………….Flood
1:2 the deeps (tehom)………………………….7:11 the deeps (tehom)
1:2 the wind………………………………………..8:1 the wind
1:6-7 splitting of waters……………………………7:11 reuniting of waters
1:14 rhythm of nature……………………………..8:22 rhythm of nature fixed
1:26-27 create humanity………………………….6:7 wipe out humanity
1:28 divine blessing……………………………….9:7 divine blessing
1:11-12, 21, 24-25 classification of animals…..6:20, 7:14 classification of animals
1:29-30 provisioning of food…………………….6:21 provisioning of food
1:28 divine blessing ………………………………9:7 divine blessing
[Please forgive funky formatting and if you know how to do charts in WordPress, lemme know.]

So: What do we learn from these parallels?

–Noah as Gabriel:

While speaking in 1839 to members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and some Seventies prior to their leaving for missionary service, the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “Noah, who is Gabriel, … stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this office, and was the father of all living in his day, and to him was given the dominion. These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven.� . . . After his death, Noah continued his role as a great preacher of righteousness. In his role as the angel Gabriel, he visited Zacharias to announce the birth of John, called the Baptist, and to Mary to announce her calling as mother of the Savior (see Luke 1:18–19, 26–27). Less well known is Noah’s appearance to Daniel to instruct him about the coming of the Messiah in the last days (see Dan. 8:15–19; Dan. 9:21–23). Joseph B. Romney, “Noah, The Great Preacher of Righteousness,� Ensign, Feb. 1998, 22

These other activities of Noah’s are intertextual events. What do they teach us about his role in this story?

–‘Ark’ is a loanword from Egyptians; it has an underlying meaning of ‘coffin’ (relative dimensions are about right!) and is the same word used for Moses’ basket in Ex 2:3,5. (Note that it is not the same word as ‘ark’ of the covenant.) Can we learn anything from comparing Noah’s ark with Moses’ ark? Interesting idea of salvation through death; waters are chaos which the Lord or intermediaries (women!) protect us from.

–(If time) Matthew 24:37: What does this mean?

–(If time) Moses 7:32-47: What does Enoch’s vision add to our understanding of Noah’s experience?

–If time, read Hebrews 11:7.

–For further study: Ether 2:15-25: The brother of Jared builds a boat. 1 Nephi 17:8-19: Nephi builds a ship. How does he compare with Noah?

–These three boats are the only things in the scriptures besides the temple that has a ‘divine blueprint.’ Why?

Moral Implications
Ask: What moral lessons do you learn from this story? My thoughts:

(1) God will not allow wickedness to take over. This can be great comfort given current conditions. (Read 1 Nephi 3:7)

(2) Noah’s obedience is a huge issue in this story. Note that he chose this despite all that was going on around him. (And he probably looked reeeeaaally stupid building a boat that big.) Ask: What is the tipping point in ensuring your own obedience? What makes it hard for you to obey and how do you overcome those things? My thought: focusing on One Specific Thing in Church can let God tell you what you need to know and improve your obedience.

(3) God is the creator and is in control of the creation. Ask: Does knowing this make any concrete difference in your life?

(4) Idea of the ‘righteous remnant’ (also Lehi’s people, etc.) They will be preserved by God’s hand. Ask: Do we think of ourselves this way? Should we?

(5) Note that this story is all about the wicked but they are barely mentioned. Why? (Maybe because we are supposed to identify with Noah.)

(6) Preparedness—spiritual and temporal. Note that the whole reason this happens is because some people were not spiritually prepared, but the key to surviving it is temporal preparedness as well:

“We all need to build a personal ark, to fortify ourselves against this rising tide of evil, to protect ourselves and our families against the floodwaters of iniquity around us. And we shouldn’t wait until it starts raining, but prepare in advance. This has been the message of all the prophets in this dispensation, including President Hunter, as well as the prophets of old. Unfortunately we don’t always heed the clear warnings of our prophets. We coast complacently along until calamity strikes, and then we panic. When it starts raining, it is too late to begin building the ark. However, we do need to listen to the Lord’s spokesmen. We need to calmly continue to move ahead and to prepare for what will surely come. We need not panic or fear, for if we are prepared, spiritually and temporally, we and our families will survive any flood. Our arks will float on a sea of faith if our works have been steadily and surely preparing for the future. The key is to accept the invitation of our prophet, whom we sustained this morning, “to live with ever more attention to the life and example of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially the love and hope and compassion He displayedâ€? –W. Don Ladd, “Make Thee an Ark,â€? Ensign, Nov. 1994, 28

Conclusion
This story is a good example of a precious treasure from the OT—is needs special handling, but will yield great things. We should be aware of some of the critical issues, but they need not be the focus of our study. When we focus on what the text teaches (regardless of who wrote it or how literal it is), we learn that God protects those who are true and faithful.

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190 Responses to JMS Sunday School Lesson #6

  1. Laura W on January 31, 2006 at 10:13 pm

    I’m sure you are familiar with the Bill Cosby routine about Noah and the Flood (which may or may not be appropriate for Sunday School…), but it always drives home your 2nd Moral Implication for me- how much faith it must have taken to build that ark.

    In the routine, Noah protests, grumbles and is ridiculed by his neighbors. But God repeatedly nudges him to build the ark, and will not give up on Noah, no matter how much he complains. In the end, Noah builds the ark. It reminds me that God will continue to try and guide me and give me second chances even when I resist.

  2. Julie M. Smith on January 31, 2006 at 10:16 pm

    I actually don’t know that one, Laura. My favorite bit of ark humor is the Far Side where Noah is standing next to one crying unicorn and saying, “From now on, all carnivores are confined to the C deck.”

    I do like your reading of the story.

  3. Gary on February 1, 2006 at 8:01 am

    The Sunday School Manual assumes the historicity of a worldwide Flood. Before questioning these assumptions, your readers may wish to review three feature articles in the Ensign that have addressed these questions directly: 1. F. Kent Nielsen, “The Gospel and the Scientific View: How Earth Came to Be,” (Ensign, Sept. 1980, 67-72), 2. Donald W. Parry, “The Flood and the Tower of Babel,” (Ensign, Jan. 1998, 35), and 3. Joseph B. Romney, “Noah, The Great Preacher of Righteousness,” (Ensign, Feb. 1998, 22).

  4. Tony on February 1, 2006 at 9:34 am

    And before assuming Brother Parry’s article, please read Brother Jeffery’s.

    http://www.sunstoneonline.com/magazine/mag-issue-134.asp

  5. Julie M. Smith on February 1, 2006 at 10:38 am

    “The Sunday School Manual assumes the historicity of a worldwide Flood.”

    I dispute this almost as much as I admire your ability to create proper links to lds.org, a feat I’ve never been able to pull off. :)

    (I also think it is about as useful to engage you on this as it is on evolution, so I won’t.)

  6. Jonathan Green on February 1, 2006 at 11:39 am

    Julie, about “The idea that a number could be symbolic is very foreign for us, very normal for the Hebrews”…

    I don’t think this is true. I know the lesson manual does engage in some flights of fancy about how very different the Hebrew mind was from our Western way of thinking (in ways that seem almost like an emergency call to Edward Said), but I’ve always been skeptical.

    I mean, number symbolism? It’s all over the place on our national icons and in our literary canon. We might not have precisely the same interpretations, but the idea of number symbolism is pretty much at home in our culture, I think. Plus, wasn’t some of that stuff the Hebrews wrote pretty influential in the formation of our culture?

    As to whether or not a numerological interpretation is correct or not, I usually want more evidence. The number twelve for Israel works well in most cases, I think, but three for God? Maybe in some places, but I want some close textual support before deciding that any given ‘three’ is supposed to be God. Sometimes triplets are just triplets.

  7. Clark on February 1, 2006 at 12:49 pm

    Jonathan that’s true to a degree. However I think the fascination with numeric symbolism was much more a feature of early 19th century and 18th century America than late 20th century and early 21st century America.

  8. Julie M. Smith on February 1, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    Jonathan, if you can point me to examples of symbolic numbers in our culture, I’d be happy to stand corrected. But if someone writes in the Atlantic Monthly that Bush ordered 7 ships to the Persian Gulf, I assume that Bush ordered 6+1 ships and not the complete US Navy to the Gulf.

    I agree with you about ‘wanting more evidence’ and that’s why I stated in the lesson that each time we come across a number we have to decide if we think it literal, symbolic, or both.

  9. Ben S. on February 1, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    I’m fairly skeptical of number symbolism as well. Or at least, I think that most people introduced to the idea of number symbolism tend to run wild with it and see it everywhere. I do think it exists in the texts, but only rarely.

    I’m also inclined to see things like the number 40 not as symbolic per se, but rather as the rough equivalent to “the other day,” ie. a vague way of indicating time without being terribly specific.

    But great overview of the material, Julie.

    I second the reading of the Flod article by Jeffries above. And (hearsay warning) I’ve heard through the grapevine that Parry had several discussions with BYU science professors after that article appeared, and that he would write it differently today.

  10. Julie M. Smith on February 1, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    So, Ben, would you conclude that the reference to 40 days doesn’t hint at a relationship to the children of Israel in the wilderness, Jesus fasting, etc.? I agree with you that number symbolism can be overdone, but I have a hard time believing that the three events I just mentioned only include the number 40 because of coincidence.

    I’m glad the Jeffries article has been mentioned; I liked it too.

  11. Mike Parker on February 1, 2006 at 3:01 pm

    The Genesis flood account has a high parallel, chiastic structure. For example, this pattern:

    7:4 7 days
    7:10 7 days
    7:17 40 days
    7:24 150 days
    8:1 GOD REMEMBERED NOAH
    8:3 150 days
    8:6 40 days
    8:10 7 days
    8:12 7 days

    IMO, a worldwide flood has enormous scientific and logical difficulties that are simply insurmountable. The Jeffrey article mentioned in comment 4 covers many of them.

  12. Julie M. Smith on February 1, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    Very interesting, Mike, I hadn’t noticed it. So–what’s its significance?

    “IMO, a worldwide flood has enormous scientific and logical difficulties that are simply insurmountable.”

    You wanna know my favorite? That with all of those methane-producing animals on the ark, lighting a flame would have BOOM! End of ark! Penguins flying through the air! Splash!

    (sorry–got a little carried away)

  13. Jonathan Green on February 1, 2006 at 4:53 pm

    Julie, I’m thinking of things like the US flag with 13 stripes, 50 stars. Those numbers are not chosen by accident, hence the observation that number symbolism is not foreign to us.

  14. Julie M. Smith on February 1, 2006 at 5:39 pm

    Oh, sure, Jonathan, I’d agree with that. In fact, those would be good examples to use when explaining number symbolism to a class. I was thinking more about symbolic numbers in writing, which I think is rare to nonexistent.

  15. Clinton on February 1, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    I have to agree with Julie here extensively about the fascination the Isrealites had with numbers and the symbolism that they evoke. Not only are people today fascinated by these themes but the Jews have been fascinated by numbers for long before we Mormons got ahold of the Bible. In fact their fascination with numbers extends even further than those listed by Julie as anyone who has ever studied gematria would know. Very good comments Julie. The number forty was definetly a “magic” number as can be attested to in Jewish midrash from the 1400′s and earlier.

    I also second (or third or nineth) Jeffrey’s article.

  16. Clark on February 1, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    Johnathan I’m not sure those are really equivalent. Yes for flags and the like there will be minor symbolism like that. However in the era of Joseph Smith things like “seventh son” or the like had more significance. I think science quickly de-enchanted the world.

  17. Robert C. on February 1, 2006 at 6:34 pm

    Regarding the creation motif, I found this dialogue article by Sheldon Greave very intesting. One point he makes about the Noah account is that the whole account takes 277 days, which is 9 months and 1 week, basically the same time human creation takes. And that the waters reach their max at 150 days, which corresponds to the point when water swelling peaks in the uterus.

    A larger point in the article is about “the measure of our creation” as humans, and that if we overstep that measure (e.g. by not taking care of the environment), we will face God’s wrath and/or destruction.

  18. Geoff J on February 1, 2006 at 6:48 pm

    Wow. Good stuff Julie. Gets my little brain a-whirrin’. I was especially struck by the Adam-Noah connection as well as the creation-flood parallels… Considering my recent musings on Adam’s adventures in the Garden of Eden as possibly being allegorical, this adds more food for thought.

    And thanks for the Dialogue article link Robert C. I’m interested in seeing what Greave had to say.

  19. Robert C. on February 1, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    Sorry, it’s Sheldon GreaveS, not Greave. And the article starts on p. 157. (Link to Dialogue issue in Comment #17.)

  20. Mike Parker on February 1, 2006 at 7:43 pm

    Julie #12: “Very interesting, Mike, I hadn’t noticed it. So–what’s its significance?”

    Parallelism (of which chiasmus is but one example) gives structure and order to a narrative. It would be natural for the authors of Genesis, writing thousands of years after the flood, to present the narrative as a great cycle, thereby showing that God controlled the events (i.e., Noah wasn’t the victim of something random). The “hinge” of the parallelism (“God remembered Noah”) is the focal point and message of the story.

  21. Gary on February 1, 2006 at 10:35 pm

    Re (#4, and #9 through #12),

    Duane Jeffery, in his 2004 Sunstone article, frankly acknowledges a lack of modern prophetic evidence for his “alternate explanations” of Flood scripture.

    “What have LDS prophets and apostles taught about the Flood? To date, all seem to have accepted Noah as an historical personage [and] uniformly there seems to be a tacit assumption that [the Flood] was universal. Usually it is treated as a miracle to be accepted without further analysis.” (Sunstone, October 2004, 36.)

    An article from the Church’s Guide to the Scriptures titled “Flood At Noah’s Time,” contains a good example of the uniform assumption Jeffery noted:

    “During Noah’s time the earth was completely covered with water. This was the baptism of the earth and symbolized a cleansing (1 Pet. 3: 20-21)… After the waters had receded, the land of America became a choice land, Ether 13: 2.”

    If faithful LDS can take either view, this view is tolerable, right?

  22. Mike Parker on February 1, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    Of course, Gary.

    (But we’ve discussed this before. {g} )

    BTW, I still plan to respond to your email.

  23. Julie M. Smith on February 1, 2006 at 11:01 pm

    “If faithful LDS can take either view, this view is tolerable, right?”

    Completely tolerable. What is less tolerable is your stance that–when the topic is evolution–only authorized 1P statements [that you like] count but–when the topic is the flood–any ol’ thing written in the Ensign and/or the silence of the prophets (which could easily be interpreted differently)–is sufficient evidence.

  24. Gary on February 2, 2006 at 12:13 am

    Hey, Julie, it’s not a problem.   “I also think it is about as useful to engage you on this as it is on evolution, so I won’t.”   I’m sure you’ll teach a great lesson on the Flood.

  25. grego on February 2, 2006 at 3:44 am

    first, that was a great, quick feast for my brain. like a superfood bar!
    i especially like the “moral implications” part and the “divine plan” comment. i would spend more time on that.

    “If faithful LDS can take either view, this view is tolerable, right?�
    depends on who you’re talking to, on either side. :)

    ah, problems with the flood. i’ve read all the flood articles before. i didn’t agree that lots of the universal flood “problems” are really problems–i think that everyone assumes a huge flood over the entire planet. while some places might have flooded a lot (like where noah was), that’s hardly necessary elsewhere. rain, springs bursting up everywhere, etc. perhaps a local huge flood, and water covering the earth, in whatever degree, all over. was the earth flooded? yes, but not necessarily 2 miles under everywhere. i think we’ve all seen “flood” to mean more “water being where it’s usually not, causing problems”–not just “water over my head”–as in “my house flooded”.

    numbers–first, let’s notice that there’s a difference between literature and normal life, and the use of number symbology in literature much more. (dante, anyone? ok, not american, but…) even normal life–bad luck 13, 7 years bad luck, 7 year itch, baker’s dozen, she talked for half a day, i wouldn’t give you two minutes, wait a second, etc. i imagine it wouldn’t be that much of a jump for most.

  26. Mike Parker on February 2, 2006 at 4:27 pm

    grego #25: My problem is not where all the water came from, but the abundance and diversity of animal and plant life coming from one small set of land animals on a (relatively) small ship landing somewhere in the Near East. The biological distinctiveness of Australian fauna alone strongly suggests that it has developed quite separate from the rest of the world. And introducing that much water into the existing water systems of the world would kill off water animals that depend on salinity or lack thereof to survive.

    Like I said, enormous scientific and logical difficulties.

  27. Julie M. Smith on February 2, 2006 at 5:27 pm

    “Like I said, enormous scientific and logical difficulties.”

    While I agree with this statement, I do think that a God who can create our entire world and heal the sick and raise the dead could pull this off if desired.

  28. Mike Parker on February 2, 2006 at 7:05 pm

    Julie #27: Yes, it is possible that God could have created new plants and animals — or caused the ones who came from the ark to evolve very rapidly — to replace those that were lost in the Flood. But is it likely?

    Furthermore, the fossil record is very consistent worldwide, and doesn’t show a global catastrophe occurring ~3000 BC that wiped everything out.

    One can jump through hoop after hoop on the backing of miracles, but eventually it becomes simpler to just accept that the flood was local.

    Numquam ponenda est pluritas sine necessitate.

  29. Julie M. Smith on February 2, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    “But is it likely?”

    In my book, not at all likely. But we have too many scriptural examples of the unlikely–if not the impossible–happening for me to feel comforable saying that it _didn’t_ happen. I just think it important to remember that God _could_ have done this.

  30. Geoff J on February 2, 2006 at 8:05 pm

    I just think it important to remember that God _could_ have done this.

    I agree that it is important to remaining open minded Julie. On top of that, I don’t think this issue is at all worth generating doctrinal contention over.

    Having said that, it sure seems like nearly instantaneous repopulation of the earth (all plant and animal life) after the massive devastation of a worldwide flood would require creatio ex nihilo to be a true doctrine doesn’t it? I wonder if a lot of saints realize that…

    BTW – I put up a post inspired by your post and that Dialogue article cited in #17. Thanks for the inspiration.

  31. Jim F. on February 2, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    Geoff J, I probably need to read your post before commenting, but I haven’t read it yet, so I hope you’ll forgive this comment if it is off base: I don’t see why nearly instantaneous repopulation or perhaps even instantaneous repopulation would require creation ex nihilo.

  32. Tim Jacob on February 2, 2006 at 8:49 pm

    Geoff,

    I know you defend the BOM’s hisoricity (though I understand that could very well change by next week), so how do you argue that instaneous repopulation after the flood is so different from the instaneous population of the promised land by Lehi’s family. Both spawned Great Nations in a little amount of time.

  33. Geoff J on February 2, 2006 at 9:04 pm

    You’re right Jim — nearly instant repopulation of the earth wouldn’t require a belief in creation ex nihilo doctrine. I meant to qualify my comment to say that the notion is highly remiscent of the ex nihilo doctrine to me.

    Tim – I defend the historicity of the Book of Mormon (and no, that won’t change any time soon) but don’t at all buy the idea that both North and South America were exclusively populated by the peoples we read about in the record. I think the limited geography approach to the BoM is the best bet.

  34. Julie M. Smith on February 3, 2006 at 1:05 am

    Geoff J,

    I really liked your post. I don’t necessarily agree with every word of it, but I like seeing Saints grappling with the scriptures and thinking outside of the box.

  35. Aaron Brown on February 3, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    Julie said:
    “While I agree with this statement, I do think that a God who can create our entire world and heal the sick and raise the dead could pull this off if desired.”

    O.K., but I think this comment misses the point in a crucial way. (O.K., who am I to say what “the point” is? I mean that it misses a point that I personally find most significant.) Sure, there are lots of individual miracles or incidents in the scriptures (or LDS history) that couldn’t have happened without divine, supernatural intervention, and we know this. We just choose to have faith in these incidents, believing that God is powerful enough to perform all sorts of wonderful feats.

    But with he flood, it seems to me, we’re dealing with something different. Sure, God “can” do all sorts of things, but when you think of all the various, implausible or impossible things you have to believe in order to salvage the story of the flood, the question arises: Why do we want to invoke God’s miraculous intervention over and over and over and over and over and over again to prop up the literalness of a story when that story’s literalness isn’t really that significant theologically. For a fun read on this issue see the following article (which Duane Jeffries turned me on to at BYU):

    http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/8619_issue_11_volume_4_number_1__3_12_2003.asp\\

    Aaron B

  36. Aaron Brown on February 3, 2006 at 2:22 pm
  37. Rob Osborn on February 3, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    If we can’t as LDS believe the flood was universal, where is our faith? It says the waters under the whole heavens. It also says the only living land dwelling life was saved on the Ark. Noah had 120 years to prepare the world and build the Ark.

    Believing in a global flood just as we believe in God requires that we discard what science has said on these two issues. Science wants us to believe there can be no God. Where is your faith people?

    The flood really happened and it covered the entire earth destroying it. The new land masses with their flood laid sediments containing millions of fossils is the testimony that it really happened. God was so clear on this statement to us that everywhere in the world we see the testament that the flood happenend and the word of the Lord is True. This also testifies that the Old testament accounts of Adam and Noah and Moses were real people.

    We know that the great oceans that divide the continents are the same waters of Noah and that when the earth is renewed when Christ comes, the waters of Noah will go back from where they came from in the north countries, and that the great oceanic vallies and great mountain chains will be removed. We also know that the lands will return to their locations as they were before the great destruction of the flood and dividing of the earth. To say otherwise is to say you believe not the Lord God but in man.

    Science wants you to believe that there will be no great destruction in the near future, instead they talk in millions of years.

    Believe in God and not in man, have faith in your creator, discard the vain philosophies of man and become one with the true word of God.

  38. Julie M. Smith on February 3, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    Aaron, I don’t lean toward thinking the flood was universal, but I still think that to deny the possibility is, in some senes, to deny God’s power to have done it. Again, I don’t think it _likely_, but I’m standing my ground that it was _possible_.

    Rob, unless you think Elder Widstoe and Hugh Nibley were lacking in faith, you may want to reconsider your position.

  39. Rob Osborn on February 3, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    Julie,

    I do think that obviously Elder Widstoe and Hugh Nibley lack a complete faith in the Old Testament. They were so convinced that the word of God was wrong and that science was right that they probably had lots of doubts- which is to lack in faith. It seems they were so convinced that science was right and that the word of God was mistranslated that they tried to conform the word of God to science, instead of having faith. I have no problem with their opinions- because I know that is all they are, they do not conform to what the gospel teaches.

    Just because somebody in high position At BYU or in the Church states something on their own does not mean it supercedes the written word of God.

  40. Aaron Brown on February 3, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    Rob,

    I have this friend named Prudence with views very similar to your own. You guys should hook up.

    Aaron B

  41. Julie M. Smith on February 3, 2006 at 5:48 pm

    Rob, I’m really surprised that you’d speak about a member of the Quorum of the Twelve that way. I think your statement is really disrespectful.

  42. Rob Osborn on February 3, 2006 at 7:26 pm

    Iregardless of who in the Church says something, I still have the right to judge for myself on the matter and if it just so happens that what is said by them contradicts what is written in the bible then I would discard what they say as opinions of men. I do not find that disrespectful, after all they are just men like me who are entitled to the same Holy spirit to judge. Don’t get me wrong, I do like a lot of what they had to say and write about, but on these kind of indisputable issues, I truly feel that they lack faith concerning their beliefs on the flood and the age of the earth and evolution. They would rather believe their radiometric dating stats then the word of God any day. We know that radiometric dating has its problems, the scientists know this too, and yet they continue on firm in their beliefs iregardless of what the word of God says. And that is why I question their faith.

  43. Mike Parker on February 4, 2006 at 12:24 pm

    Rob,

    There are two ways to read scripture: (1) from a “God’s-eye-view” or (2) from a “man’s-eye-view.” It seems evident to me that scripture was written from position #2 — men interacted with God and then wrote about their experience from their own point of view. Sometimes they misunderstood God, and sometimes they didn’t have all the facts, but God worked with them to the best of their ability.

    From the #2 standpoint, the Flood could very likely have been local. When the scriptures say “all the high hills…were covered” (Gen. 7:19) and “all flesh died that moved upon the earth” (7:21), from Noah’s point of view, they were. But what about the world beyond his own horizon? (Keep in mind that “the earth” in the OT doesn’t mean the planet we moderns think of, but simply “dry land.”)

    And as far as geologic evidence goes (“new land masses with their flood laid sediments containing millions of fossils” – #37), there is simply no such evidence for a worldwide catastrophic event such as the traditional flood.

    Your fundamentalistic reading of the scriptures and rejection of virtually all science are simply unnecessary. In fact, I would argue that your point of view is much more likely to be harmful to faith; for when young adults grow up, begin to reason, and go to college, the facts of science and history are going to run smack up against their fundamentalist upbringing, and they are likely to choose to abandon the latter. A more nuanced approach, one that combines faith and reason, is much more likely to preserve testimonies while using the wisdom and intelligence God gave us.

  44. Julie M. Smith on February 4, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    Well said, Mike Parker.

  45. Rob Osborn on February 4, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    Mike,

    Maybe you should read 2 Peter chapter 3 where it talks about latter day scoffers and compares them to the inhabitants of the world in Noah’s time. In verse 5 it speaks of the land masses being both in the water and out of the water and then in 6 it speaks of the world being overflowed with water perished.

    The viewpoints of both Noah, Moses and Enoch were actually the viewpoints from the Lord’s perspectives and not their own. All of them were shown the vision from God’s viewpoint which they saw the whole world and also many other earths, so to say that it was from their man standpoint view is unwarranted. I find it interesting that whenever something does not agree with mans learning in science that we try to read something into the scriptures that is not really there. If you hold this belief about their viewpoints then you have to hold the same logic when talking about the whole earth to be burned at Christ’s coming and at the end of the world after the millenium- Will only man’s viewpoint of the whole earth be burned while other parts of the earth remain untouched? Such reasoning is both unsound and without true merit.

    As far as the evidence goes, You can either believe what you can see with your own eyes with all of the flood laid sediment everywhere in the world or you can continue to believe that such tales are just for little kids imaginations. As far as science goes, they will not dispute that at one point or another all parts of the earth was submerged under water, this is a scientific fact. The question truly lies in whether or not it was submerged all at the same time or not. Science will tell you that it happened at different times over the coarse of billions of years. The interesting point here is that which science says is factual is actually an unprovable theory! There is absolutely no way for man’s technology to document whether or not dating methods are correct because they cannot time travel so to speak back to the eras in which they hypothesize about.

    I do not reject man’s science and for the most part am pleased. I am however judgemental though when it comes to science trying to decieve mankind with heresay and lies.

    I do like your approach to using both faith and reason though. And that is my approach- I read about a global flood, I then study for years and years and make various trips into the four corners region and the grand canyon gathering knowledge and evidence and then make very careful considerations and then using both faith and sound reason come up with the most likely conclusion. The conclusion I came up with is that there are parts of science that have to be clarified before they can just assume, and until then what they say is fact is nothing more than an untested, unproven theory.

    I also find it interesting that man and especially Christian people will find what they absolutely have to believe in the bible for their salvation while discarding much of the other truths. Example is this- Science will absolutely tell you that there will be no resurrection from the dead for all living things that ever have been or ever will be. Christians discard this scientific teaching because they have believe in the resurrection because their eternity lies at stake. Another teaching is that of living without anything dieing, science will tell you that it is impossible. Christians also discard this as theory because they have to believe it because once again- their eternity is at stake.

    The whole point is that for the most part man will only believe from God what is needful for their eternal self and all else falls under the critique of science!

  46. Mike Parker on February 4, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    Rob,

    Question: Do you believe that one’s acceptance of a global flood has any bearing on his salvation?

    In other words, if I believe your logic and interpretation of the scriptures are incorrect and overly, unnecessarily fundamentalistic, do I “have [no] faith in [my] creator”?

  47. Dan P on February 4, 2006 at 5:29 pm

    Guys, not wanting to appear to be on my soapbox, here are my feelings on this whole “was it a universal flood” issue you’ve been arguing:

    Everyone has a right to personal revelation, if it’s that big a deal to you then look to Him who knows all.

    Is SS the right forum to discuss if it really happened or not? Categorically NO! Curiously it is called Gospel Doctrine, not Gospel Theories. If you have concerns about the Flood actually happening, then teach the principles that the story brings up:

    Personal spiritual preparedness
    Obedience regardless of personal social effects
    Relying on our own strength will bring our downfall
    Heed to the word of the Lord, through the mouths of his servants the Prophets

    Lets remember that its the spirit that converts, are any of us or our classes truly converted? i doubt it. i certainly am not, otherwise i wouldn’t do half the things i do, and do all the things i dont do. SS is such a great opportunity for us to help other members of our wards become more converted, but we can only do this through inviting the spirit into the lesson.

    My personal belief is that the flood was universal, it was a complete flooding of the earth. The flood was a baptism of water for the earth, baptism as i recall from my experience as an 8 yr old and as a missionary requires complete submersion, hair and clothing included.

    How did all the things we cannot comprehend happen? What about the little things like where did all the waste go? how did they have enough food? why didn’t the carnivores go on a rampage? The God i believe in is a God of miracles, the priesthood power is an incredible thing people, and i have only seen its use by feeble, imperfect mortals.

    I am sure that some of you will have something to say regards my comments, i shall anticipate them gleefully. Please know that this is not meant as a bash at any of you, rather a reminder that we are called of God to teach His Doctrine to His disciples. Now i’m done i better get on preparing my lesson, only 12 hrs before it’s due to be presented.

  48. Brenda C on February 4, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    Mike,
    I don’t think Rob is saying anything about anyone’s eternal salvation. He just is pointing out that too many in this discussion are relying solely on science, rather than faith. I think he brings up many wonderful points, and I agree with what he is saying.

    I don’t think the objective of this lesson is to discuss local or global flooding, whether the numbers should be taken literally or symbolically, although they are interesting topics for discussion. It just makes me sad that some need verification of science to recognize truth. When I’ve studied scientific principles, the Lord has given me acknowledgment that what I’ve studied is truth. It doesn’t happen with every scientific principle, but it does tend to happen with important areas that are pertinent to my life at the time. Maybe I find this whole discussion a bit on the silly side because I could care less whether the flood was local or global. I’ll teach the lesson tomorrow, and cover the objectives I feel are important for my ward at this time: preparation of personal arks, avoiding evil in the world today, etc.

    Julie, I do appreciate a lot of your insights with this lesson, but I think some are being overly harsh to Rob.

  49. Rob Osborn on February 4, 2006 at 7:12 pm

    Mike,

    Personal salvation does not lie in whether or not one accepts or rejects the global flood.
    The point I was bringing up was that as far as Apostles or those in Church paid position go, teaching contrary to the written word of God would cause me to think that they lack faith in the Ancient prophets and written word of God.

  50. Geoff J on February 4, 2006 at 7:38 pm

    Rob O.: as far as Apostles or those in Church paid position go, teaching contrary to the written word of God would cause me to think that they lack faith in the Ancient prophets and written word of God.

    Pheww! Well that lets Elder Widtsoe off the hook since the scriptures don’t claim the Great Flood was global (or even necessarily literal).

    Dan P.: Is SS the right forum to discuss if it really happened or not? Categorically NO!

    I disagree. Gospel Doctrine is the place to discuss what the scriptures mean (and the only place most members do so in fact). Julie’s approach here is a good way to do it too. Explain that the issue is unresolved and that different people have had different opinions on the subject (including apostles). A teacher could tactfully present the idea, explain that we have not been given any explicit revelation on the subject, and let the class ponder the subject for themselves. That’s what I will do.

  51. Julie M. Smith on February 4, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    To clarify: I would never, ever open the floor in GD and allow the class to ‘debate’ whether the flood was universal or local. However, I plan on introducing this issue (although I probably won’t even go through the bits of evidence I list in the lesson) with this spin: “Those who think it was universal point to evidence from the scriptures to support their position, those who think it was local point to evidence from the scriptures to support their position, this isn’t something that will be solved in Sunday School, and it doesn’t really matter because the point of the story isn’t whether it happened locally or universally, the point is what moral lessons we learn from it.” (I’ll try not to have such a heinous run-on sentence, tho :).) Further, I expect this to take about 2 minutes of my class–we’ll be focusing on the moral of the story mainly. However, I think it is an important 2 minute ‘reality check’ if you will, because I know at least one person (but probably many) in my class will read this story and wonder, “Did this _really_ happen?” and I want to give them a framework in which to think about it later.

    I hope all concerned will note that many of those who think the flood was localized aren’t ‘relying solely on science,’ but relying on the scriptures, particulary the passage in Moses that Nibley points us to and a better understanding of the Hebrew word that was translated ‘earth.’ (I note that those who have expressed their belief that the flood was universal have been too busy demonizing science to engage the issue of the scriptural evidence that suggests the flood was local.)

  52. Ivan Wolfe on February 4, 2006 at 8:21 pm

    Cain wasn’t kicked off the planet!

    AH – but what if he was?

    The Original Battlestar Galactica suddenly makes a lot of sense! That’s why Cain was a common first name in the colonies!

    ;-)

  53. Mike Parker on February 4, 2006 at 8:54 pm

    I completely agree with Julie’s approach in #51.

    And I think Rob should reconsider his approach of “questioning other people’s faith” because they don’t agree with his interpretation of scripture. It’s offensive, Rob.

  54. Brenda C on February 4, 2006 at 10:40 pm

    Here is a quote from John Taylor in Journal of Discourses, 26:74-75

    “I would like to know by what known law the immersion of the globe could be accomplished. It is explained here in a few words: ‘The windows of heaven were opened’ that is, the waters that exist throughout the space surrounding the earth from whence come these clouds from which the rain descends. That was one cause. Another cause was ‘the fountains of the great deep were broken up’ – that is something beyond the oceans, something outside of the seas, some reservoirs of which we have no knowledge, were made to contribute to this event, and the waters were let loose by the hand and by the power of God; for God said He would bring a flood upon the earth and He brought it, but He had to let loose the fountains of the great deep, and pour out the waters from there, and when the flood commenced to subside, we are told ‘that the fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restained, and the waters returned from off the earth.’ Where did they go to? From whence they came”

    This is a prophet, and he used the word ‘immersion.’ As far as my thoughts go, I don’t care if someone finds some ‘scientific’ reason to say differently. This is how I view faith. You can have a scientist say that a wine is good, and that it had to have been fermenting for at least a couple of years to be good! Yet Christ turned the water to wine in Cana in a short time period. And it was said to be good. Science would say that is impossible! You need to have these conditions.

    As far as a scriptural basis, I have not read any scriptures that would lead me to believe otherwise. If I am going to read another’s opinion of a scripture, it will need to be a prophet. And yes, Elder Widstoe was an apostle/prophet. But I don’t hear any modern day prophets or the GD manual promoting the theory of a localized flood. (See Benson, “14 fundamentals in following the prophet” to understand this thought process)

  55. Aaron Brown on February 5, 2006 at 12:31 am

    See Benson, “14 fundamentals in following the prophet,” for a list of unbelievably robust claims about prophetic authority, several of which, if taken at face value, lead to completely untenable conclusions, in light of numerous indisputable historical episodes and much counter-authority.

  56. Aaron Brown on February 5, 2006 at 12:41 am

    Julie said:

    “I hope all concerned will note that many of those who think the flood was localized aren’t ‘relying solely on science,’ but relying on the scriptures …”

    Aaron adds:

    I hope all concerned will also note that many of those who DON’T think the flood was localized are completely and unabashedly ‘relying solely on science,’ and not at all on the scriptures, when they read Joshua 10:13 and refuse to conclude that the Sun revolves around the Earth.

    Aaron B

  57. Aaron Brown on February 5, 2006 at 12:41 am

    Julie said:

    “I hope all concerned will note that many of those who think the flood was localized aren’t ‘relying solely on science,’ but relying on the scriptures …”

    Aaron adds:

    I hope all concerned will also note that many of those who DON’T think the flood was localized are completely and unabashedly ‘relying solely on science,’ and not at all on the scriptures, when they read Joshua 10:13 and refuse to conclude that the Sun revolves around the Earth.

    Aaron B

  58. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 1:06 am

    Scriptual evidence that the flood was global-

    11 The earth also was acorrupt before God, and the earth was filled with bviolence.
    12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all aflesh had corrupted his bway upon the earth.
    13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with aviolence through them; and, behold, I will bdestroy them cwith the earth.

    (Old Testament | Genesis 6:11 – 13)

    17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

    (Old Testament | Genesis 6:17)
    19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.

    (Old Testament | Genesis 6:19)

    3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.
    4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to arain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.

    (Old Testament | Genesis 7:3 – 4)
    18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.
    19 And the awaters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and ball the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
    20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
    21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and aevery man:
    22 All in whose nostrils was the abreath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.
    23 And every living substance was adestroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and bNoah only remained calive, and they that were with him in the ark.

    (Old Testament | Genesis 7:18 – 23)

    21 And the LORD smelled a sweet asavour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again bcurse the ground any more cfor man’s sake; for the dimagination of man’s heart is eevil from his youth; neither will I again fsmite any more every thing living, as I have done.

    (Old Testament | Genesis 8:21)
    11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a aflood to bdestroy the earth.c
    12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

    (Old Testament | Genesis 9:11 – 12)

    15 And I will remember my acovenant, which bis between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a cflood to destroy all flesh.
    16 aAnd the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the beverlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
    17 And God said unto Noah, This is the atoken of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

    (Old Testament | Genesis 9:15 – 17)

    9 For athis, the bwaters of Noah unto me, for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee.

    6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the awaters stood above the mountains.
    7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.
    8 They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.
    9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to acover the earth.

    (Old Testament | Psalms 104:6 – 9)

    (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 22:9)
    39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

    (New Testament | Matthew 24:39)

    20 aWhich sometime were bdisobedient, when once the clongsuffering of God waited in the days of dNoah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were esaved by fwater.
    21 The like figure whereunto even abaptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

    (New Testament | 1 Peter 3:20 – 21)

    5 And spared not the old world, but saved aNoah the eighth person, a preacher of brighteousness, bringing in the cflood upon the world of the ungodly;

    (New Testament | 2 Peter 2:5)

    5 For this they willingly are aignorant of, that by the bword of God the heavens were of old, and the cearth standing out of the water and in the water:
    6 Whereby the world that then was, being aoverflowed with bwater, perished:

    (New Testament | 2 Peter 3:5 – 6)

    2 For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had areceded from off the face of this bland it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should cserve him who dwell upon the face thereof;

    (Book of Mormon | Ether 13:2)

    45 And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; and he cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the Righteous be shed, that all they that mourn may be asanctified and have eternal life?

    (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 7:45)

    50 And it came to pass that Enoch continued his cry unto the Lord, saying: I ask thee, O Lord, in the name of thine Only Begotten, even Jesus Christ, that thou wilt have mercy upon Noah and his seed, that the earth might never more be covered by the afloods.

    (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 7:50)
    52 And he sent forth an unalterable decree, that a aremnant of his seed should always be found among all nations, while the earth should stand;

    (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 7:52)
    3 And it came to pass that Methuselah aprophesied that from his loins should spring all the kingdoms of the earth (through Noah), and he took glory unto himself.

    (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 8:3)
    26 And the Lord said: I will adestroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Noah that I have created them, and that I have made them; and he hath called upon me; for they have sought his blife.

    (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 8:26)
    28 The aearth was bcorrupt before God, and it was filled with violence.
    29 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its away upon the earth.
    30 And God said unto Noah: The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence, and behold I will adestroy all flesh from off the earth.

    (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 8:28 – 30)

    Sorry about the length of the post, eh eh.

    I do not see anywhere in the scriptures where you could strongly argue for a localized flood event. Nibleys assumption of the promise given to Enoch is wrong concerning his seed. The answer to resolve that issue of Moses 7:51-52 lies in Moses 8:2-3. Methuselah prophesied that from his loins should all of the kingdoms of the earth come, meaning after the flood.

  59. Brenda C on February 5, 2006 at 9:02 am

    Aaron,
    Your comment about Joshua 10:13 does not even make one bit of logical sense to me. My read of your comment is that because I don’t believe the flood was localized, I must be relying on science because in Josh. 10:13 the sun would now revolve around the earth. I am a very logical person, and what you said makes absolutely no sense to me!

    My read of the Joshua scripture without any extra study or opinion by anyone else, just my initial read of the scripture, would lead me to just assume that if God wanted to stop man’s earthly vision of time, He can do it. The sun and moon are often in the sky together. Now that I think about it, I took an astromony class at one time and scientists have gone back in time, studying rotation and revolution, and there is a 24 hour period missing. I believe the teacher linked it to this event in the Bible, although he was not an LDS teacher. It was totally a secular class. So science may verify that event for some of you.

    I’d believe it happened without that scientific verification. I believe evolution will sometime be explained by God’s scientific knowledge. I guess my view of these events are based on faith first, knowing the scientific base will come later. I believe God is the greatest scientist around, and someday we will understand how “scientifically” all things work. So when there seems to be a conflict with science now, it just leads me to “wonder”, not “question” how it will all fit together when I have more knowledge. I believe that is how I’m different than you. You seem to want to “question” and prove wrong, rather than wonder in awe.

  60. Mike Parker on February 5, 2006 at 11:52 am

    Rob and Brenda,

    Your quotations presume that God has revealed to ancient and modern prophets the principles of geophysics, astrophysics, hydrogeology, and cartography — i.e., that he is desperately concerned with the higher sciences, makes sure that his prophets are completely versed in them, and that they do not pass this knowledge on to the larger scientific community of their time.

    Quite the contrary, a plain reading of the scriptures indicates that God does not do any of the above, but allows prophets to maintain their own understanding of the world and to work within it. The creation account is a perfect example, where the author of Genesis presumes that the world is flat, covered by a solid dome (the “firmament”; see this image) in which there are doors that God can open to cast down rain or other blessings (the “windows of heaven”). This geocentric cosmological view was the understanding of virtually the entire ancient world. If OT prophets had the correct cosmology from God, it didn’t get beyond them into the rest of the world, nor did it effect how the OT was written or understood by contemporary Israelites.

    The same thing applies to the Flood. There are so many impossibilities in the story that it can only be explained as a pre-scientific, mythological understanding of the physical world. For example, the dimensions given for the ark indicate that it was 450 feet long. However, the longest wooden ships ever constructed — nine six-masted schooners of the early twentieth century, the longest of which was 329 feet — suffered from serious warping and stress to their hulls — and they had iron supports throughout! It is simply physically impossible to float a ship the length of the ark. Now, one can say that God showed Noah how to do it, but why then did that shipbuilding knowledge not pass down to his descendants? Why were no large-hulled vessels built for over a thousand years after Noah? Why have no ships even approaching the size of the ark ever been built? And if God miraculously overcame the millions of scientific and logical problems involved the Flood story, why bother with the ark in the first place — why not just kill off all the wicked people in a more simple way (say, fire and brimstone) and save himself the trouble of the flood and its legion of related problems?

    It’s at this point that I came to realize that God is not interested in science in the scriptures. He cares about the message that he loves his children, interacts with them, and gives them commandments. Can prophets (ancient and modern) be wrong about the science and right about the message? Certainly!

    So, as I said before, this view of scripture is much more likely to maintain the faith of the majority of young and old Latter-day Saints who are not simply willing to simply “wonder in awe,” but have serious doubts about the historicity of the Bible. Many, many people have completely lost their testimonies after concluding that the scriptures simply cannot be true because the Genesis creation and flood stories are in complete conflict with scientific reality. Isn’t it better to take a less literal view — a local over a global flood, for example — and keep these bright, capable individuals within the gospel?

    And I renew my objection that anyone who doesn’t accept Rob’s prooftexting is somehow “lacking in faith.” I may disagree with Rob’s conclusions and interpretations, but I would never question the quality of his faith. I expect the same courtesy in return.

  61. Kristine Haglund Harris on February 5, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    Rob, you can assume for purposes of discussion that commenters here are familiar with LDS scriptures–go ahead and post the references, then give us your argument; there’s no need to paste in long citations.

    And Mike is correct in his request that you not question the faith of those who disagree with you–that is a requirement both of courtesy and of our comment policies.

  62. Tim Jacob on February 5, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    “The creation account is a perfect example, where the author of Genesis presumes that the world is flat, covered by a solid dome (the “firmamentâ€?; see this image) in which there are doors that God can open to cast down rain or other blessings (the “windows of heavenâ€?).”

    I’m not so sure this is true. There are several verses that seem to indicate a knowledge of the water-cycle.

    In Genesis 2:6 (in th ecreation narrative itself):
    “…there went up a mist FROM THE EARTH and watered the whole face of the ground.�

    Psalms 135:7
    “He causeth vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth…�

    Ecclesiastes 1:7
    “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.�

    I’m not even sure they believed the earth was flat.

    Job 22:14
    “…he walketh in the circuit (translation should read “arch�, which would mean the earth would be round) of heaven.�

    Isaiah 40:22
    “…sitteth upon the circle of the Earth..�

    And finally this one:

    Job 26:7
    “He…hangeth the earth upon nothing.�

  63. Tim Jacob on February 5, 2006 at 12:24 pm

    Kristine and Mike,

    I don’t think Rob is questioning Faith in God per se, but rather faith in a literal reading of Bible as well as in the Prophets’ knowledge/inspiration concerning their writings. I think you guys are finding offense where none was intended.

  64. Mike Parker on February 5, 2006 at 12:50 pm

    Tim,

    Re-read comment #37 and you’ll see that Rob calls those who don’t accept his fundamentalist interpretation to repentance with these words: “Believe in God and not in man, have faith in your creator, discard the vain philosophies of man.”

  65. Mike Parker on February 5, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    Tim #62,

    Actually, the passages you quoted indicate a pre-scientific, geocentric understanding of the world:

    In Genesis 2:6 (in th ecreation narrative itself):
    “…there went up a mist FROM THE EARTH and watered the whole face of the ground.�

    Actually, the word rendered “mist” in the KJV is better translated “springs.” The ancient understanding is that there were vast subterranean seas that could open up at various times and places. The Flood narrative presumes this: “…the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” (Genesis 7:11).

    Psalms 135:7
    “He causeth vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth…�

    This presumes that there are “ends of the earth,” as the ancients believed. This is where the land meets the pillars of heaven (Job 26:11) which support the firmament.

    Ecclesiastes 1:7
    “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.�

    Read this in conjunction with 1:6: “The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits” (which we know is not the case, BTW).

    The idea emphasized here is the continual action of the wind and the waters. Everything in nature continually repeats its actions. The Preacher’s point is that, for all of the repetition of the cycles of nature, nothing changes; all the constant motion produces nothing new.

    I’m not even sure they believed the earth was flat.
    Job 22:14
    “…he walketh in the circuit (translation should read “arch�, which would mean the earth would be round) of heaven.�

    Actually, this verse supports my argument more than it does yours. A more modern translation of this verse:

    “Thick clouds are a veil for him, so he does not see us as he goes back and forth in the vault of heaven” (NET).

    The word “circuit” (KJV) or “vault” (NET) means “circle; domeâ€?; this is the dome (firmament) that covers the earth, beyond which God sits enthroned.

    Isaiah 40:22
    “…sitteth upon the circle of the Earth..�

    This actually refers to the horizon. The earth appears from the human vantage point as a flat, circular disk.

    Job 26:7
    “He…hangeth the earth upon nothing.�

    This suggests that Job had outgrown the idea of the earth on pillars, and was beginning to see it was suspended in space; but in verse 11 of the same chapter he still refers to the pillars.

  66. Kristine Haglund Harris on February 5, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    Arguing about every little foul is no fun–everybody just play nice, OK?

  67. Mike Parker on February 5, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    Kristine: Will do. Sorry.

  68. Tim Jacob on February 5, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    I appreciate the explanations, Mike. I’ll obviously have to give this some more thought. Thanks.

  69. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2006 at 1:44 pm

    Rob–

    Unless you think Cain was kicked off of the planet Earth, you need to entertain the idea that when the scriptures say ‘earth’ in relation to the flood story, they mean ‘land’ because it is the same Hebrew word as the one used to describe the thing that Cain was kicked out of. As this is the case, virtually none of the scriptures that you cite make any claim to a universal flood.

  70. Mike Parker on February 5, 2006 at 2:26 pm

    What Julie is describing in #69 is an excellent example of eisegesis, where one reads the scriptures based on one’s own ideas and understanding.

    In the post-Newtonian world, we understand the ground on which we stand to be part of a sphere circling the sun. We call this sphere “the earth.” Before this time, “earth” meant simply the ground, dry land, and this is the meaning of the scriptural references to “earth.”

    We need to be careful not to think “planet earth” when reading them — such a notion was foreign to the ancient authors of the scripture. Planets (“wandering stars”) were objects placed in the firmament, not the earth on which we stood.

  71. Aaron Brown on February 5, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    Mike, great comment #60. My thoughts exactly.

    Of course, I’m guessing you like Moore’s “The Impossible Voyage of Noah’s Ark” as much as I do. Once again, I invite everybody to read this:

    http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/8619_issue_11_volume_4_number_1__3_12_2003.asp

    Aaron B

  72. Brenda C on February 5, 2006 at 5:01 pm

    Testimonies are not built upon agreeance of science and scripture or your historicity. If that’s all the is keeping them in the gospel, they have far more serious issues to contend with in their testimony. Where is faith?

    Mike, how do you know the prophets weren’t knowledgeable in science? I don’t know that the early patriarchs had much more more knowledge than we have. Their bodies were actually in better shape to live much longer than we do today. How come we can’t replicate that now? How do I know that it wasn’t some scientific principle the Lord shared with the early people that granted them longer lives? How were the pyramids built? Why wasn’t that knowledge passed along?

    To me a possible reason Noah did not pass on how to build a large boat comes from the Tower of Babel story. The descendents built the tower so they would not be separated. So maybe Noah didn’t share his knowledge because he wanted family togetherness! :)

    One of the main points of the Noah story is, listen to the prophet! He will warn! So show me a quote where a prophet says it was a local flood, and maybe you’ll convince me.

  73. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 6:50 pm

    I am sorry if any of you have felt offended by my comments, I do respect those who post here as intelligent individuals.

    Julie,

    I am well aware of how words are used in the scriptures, I do a lot of word studies and write papers about them. Your view that the interpretation of the word “land” here refering to a local area needs biblical support. There are many references to both local and global with this word in the old testament. Try checking out the word “flood” in Hebrew to describe the flood and you will find that the word is unique only to the Flood of Noah.

    As far as no claim sited in the scriptures for a global catastrphe, What is your interpretation of when the Lord is speaking and he has said that the “..world being overflowed with water perished”? Was this a partial destruction of part of the earth where Noah lived or was it all of the world? I would like to see your scriptural references.

    Mike,

    As far as your criteria for Noah not having the skills or knowledge for Highly techno shipbuilding in ancient times, you cannot prove this, it is merely speculation without any biblical support. You suggest that it would be impossible to build a wooden ship in those times. I wonder if You also disbelieve that the Jaredites made airtight ships with glowing rocks for light touched by the finger of the Lord. What is your view on Lehi and his wonderful highly techno compass? It seems to me that when the Lord wants something done on earth he uses sometimes miraculous feats to accomplish them. The story of the Ark is no different.

    I would challenge any of you who believe it was a localized event to show scriptural references and evidence for your beliefs. If I am wrong in my understanding please show me using the scriptures. There has been so much talk about me not showing proof and I have given it to you for your interpretation. I would like that same courtesy back.

  74. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2006 at 7:54 pm

    “Your view that the interpretation of the word “landâ€? here refering to a local area needs biblical support. ”

    OK:

    The word ‘erets appears 2504 times in the OT, translated as follows in the KJV: land 1543, earth 712, country 140, ground 98, world 4, way 3, common 1, field 1, nations 1, wilderness. The immediate context–by which I mean the surrounding chapters–strongly supports the reading as ‘land’ instead of ‘planet,’ as I’ve already mentioned with the Cain story. However, since it is unlikely that the ancient Hebrews had any concept of earth as planet orbiting in space, it is questionable whether the modern connotation of ‘earth’ is ever an appropriate translation for modern readers.

    Further, since mabbuwl is a hapax legomenon relative to the flood story (possible exception is the one reference in Ps 29:10, but unfortunately, there isn’t enough info there to clarify its meaning), your conclusion that it implies a universal flood is unwarranted. There simply isn’t enough information to determine what it means. For all you know, it is a specialized term meaning ‘localized flood for the purpose of destroying the wicked and wasting the time of the Saints 1000s of years later through the engagement in petty, meaningless, unsolvable arguments.’

  75. Mike Parker on February 5, 2006 at 8:01 pm

    Brenda and Rob,

    If you read the document Aaron linked in comment 71 (great stuff, Aaron!), you’ll get a taste of the enormous impossibilities involved in the traditional interpretation of the flood story. It literally gets to the point where God has to miraculously intervene thousands of times daily throughout every facet of the story, until it becomes simply absurd and untenable.

    How long do we hold onto the old traditions that simply cannot fit into any sense of reality? How many people, young and old, have to leave the Church, thinking that only the strictest, most literal interpretation of the scriptures is possible among Mormons, before we admit that it’s possible to believe that much of Genesis 1–11 reflects a primitive understanding of the world and not what really happened to Adam, Noah, and their kin?

  76. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    Mike, thank you for replying to Brenda and Rob. As much as it bothers me to see unreasonable statements go unanswered, I won’t be replying to Brenda and Rob any more because my sense is that, on this issue, neither one is willing to consider other possibilities besides their own, which makes further discussion pointless.

    Until and unless Brenda and/or Rob reads and responds point by point to the article you and Aaron have linked, I will not continue this conversation with them.

  77. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    Julie,

    I am duly impressed with your reply, you are very knowledgeable, I commend you!

    If I am correct, Both Moses, Enoch and Noah all saw the earth from the Lord’s perspective- as a planet. If we take Moses to be the author of Genesis and the book of Moses in the PoGP then we know that Moses was writing with the knowledge of what planets were. There can be no question on that matter. In Moses chapter one we learn that Moses was shown our planet from God’s perspective. Because we know that the selection of the PoGP was a retranslation to Joseph Smith, we can conclude with faith that with Joseph and his knowledge of the planet he would not of retranslated it to mean a localized event. The last sentence of Moses sums it up well-

    ” And God said unto Noah: The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence, and behold I will destroy all flesh from off the earth”.

    Because these are a correct translation from original words we can know that they truly mean “all flesh” filled in the earth.

  78. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    OK, Rob, you’ve made a hypocrite out of me: I’m so dismayed by the logic of #77 that I am going to respond. Yes, I know, I have no backbone.

    (1) To say that Moses et al saw the earth from the Lord’s perspective is not to say that they saw the NASA photo of the earth as an orb in space. This is an unwarranted assumption.

    (2) � And God said unto Noah: The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence, and behold I will destroy all flesh from off the earth�.

    The simple fact that the people and animals on the ark were not destroyed should suggest to you that “all flesh” will not withstand a strictly literal reading.

  79. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    Mike,

    I respect your view about your beliefs in not running off those who have but yet small testimonies on matters such as these. I do however have a problem in my mind of the reasons why we don’t believe in parts of the scriptures that require a certain amount of faith.

    We could go back and forth with links to websites and written papers swaying one way or the other there are a ton of them out there. The point is why should we have to rely on others opinions when we have the written word of God to study and pray about right before us?

    I am a little alarmed that you would call some of our greatest and most sacred revelations concerning the creation, man’s connection with God and the flood in Noah’s day “primitive understanding”. If we write of Genesis 1-11 as a type of Fairytale, what’s left? Evolution?

  80. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 8:49 pm

    Julie,

    First off we have the knowledge that -…” And it came to pass, as the voice was still speaking, Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God.”

    (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 1:27)

    I would say that maybe he saw it even better and with higher detail than our friends at NASA!

    Second, “All flesh” refers to the land dwelling nostril breathing animals outside of the ark.

  81. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2006 at 8:53 pm

    Rob,

    There’s nothing in Moses 1:27 to suggest that Moses apprehended that the earth was a spherical orb in space.

    Your statement about “all flesh” is an assertion without evidence.

    And I’d still like you to read the article that was linked and get back to me, even if my utter dismay at the poor arguments being presented has tempted me beyond what I could bear to respond to them.

  82. Kristine Haglund Harris on February 5, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    “Second, “All fleshâ€? refers to the land dwelling nostril breathing animals outside of the ark.”

    Rob, how do you know that?? If you want us to stick to the “written word of God”, how do you justify such an interpretation? Scriptures virtually always require interpretation. The choice, where we don’t have authoritative revelatory statements from modern prophets, is only whether to rely on one’s own uneducated speculation for that interpretation or consult the opinions of people who have spent time studying the languages and cultures in which the words we have are properly situated and understood. It would appear that you prefer speculation to scholarship–it’s not clear to me that that is the proper demonstration of faith in a God who asks us to love him with our whole minds.

  83. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 9:05 pm

    Julie,

    I will read the link and get back with you on that, it will take me some time though.

    If one could look upon the whole earth and discern all of it by the spirit of God and then not be able to later tell whether or not it was a sperical orb, they either don’t have eyes to see or a brain to comprehend.

  84. Ivan Wolfe on February 5, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    I think the article by Moore that was linked too was rather -

    unhelpful. As Julie said in the initial post: –Poor reasons to believe it was localized:
    (1) Because it couldn’t have really happened. (I believe in a God who can raise the dead—a flood is small potatoes.)

    I am constantly presented with scientific “proofs” that Jesus’ miracles could not have happened, etc. etc. I think, as Julie said in #74, it’s an “unsolvable argument” – we just can’t know.

    I tend towards the idea of a localized flood myself, but I find that Moore article a bit too strident and didactic for my tastes. Moore seems like the kind of person who would argue that Lazarus was just in a coma or something.

  85. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 9:12 pm

    Kristine,

    I am not knocking down the scholarly type. I am saying though that anyone with a sound mind and a prayerful heart should be able to discern the written word of God. As far as the type of animals that died from off the face of the earth-

    ” And the Lord said: I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Noah that I have created them, and that I have made them; and he hath called upon me; for they have sought his life.”

    (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 8:26)

    As far as the PoGP is concerned, I don’t think that it would require an educated scholar to define the wording- that comes to each of us through the Holy Ghost.

  86. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    Ivan, while I think that Moore uses some rhetoric that I definitely wouldn’t have chosen, the value of the article lies in its exhaustive catalogue of the ways in which a literal reading of the ark story violates the laws of nature in a hundred different ways.

    Now, maybe Moore and others conclude that it couldn’t have happened because of these violations. I don’t. I believe that as the creator, God understands and applies the laws of nature in ways that we don’t understand and I believe that it is within God’s power to have managed a universal flood. The quesiton for me is not ‘could God have done this’ but rather ‘did God do this.’

    Moore points out that the ark story requires minute-by-minute, thousand-upon-thousand miracles: How did Noah keep wood-eating animals from destroying the ark? How did he keep the penguins and the hippos at the proper temperatures? How did those two poor kangaroos get back to Australia on their sea-sick legs? Perhaps one will answer that all these involved miracles. Which leads to the question: Why would God exercise this micromanaging of an event–performing miracle after miracle–when there is literally no other story in all of scriptures where God violates natural laws with such amazing abandon? Especially since the ‘goal’ of the story, if you will, was to destroy ‘all flesh’, which–dumb little fallible human that I am–I can imagine thousands of ways to accomplish that don’t involve 8 people taking care of literally millions of animals in the dark on a rocking ship for a year.

  87. Ivan Wolfe on February 5, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    Julie -

    all those points are given – but really, raising the dead, etc. violate the laws of nature “in a hundred different ways.”

    Also – “Moore points out that the ark story requires minute-by-minute, thousand-upon-thousand miracles” – but we believe in an “infinite” God. I’m not sure how this argument flies.

    But, like I said – I’m more for the localized event than a global one – but I think Moore’s rhetoric is more than just badly choosen – it’s meant to do damage to “literal” religion in general. Because of that, I find it unhelpful.

  88. Brenda C on February 5, 2006 at 9:48 pm

    Julie says: How long do we hold onto the old traditions that simply cannot fit into any sense of reality? How many people, young and old, have to leave the Church, thinking that only the strictest, most literal interpretation of the scriptures is possible among Mormons, before we admit that it’s possible to believe that much of Genesis 1–11 reflects a primitive understanding of the world and not what really happened to Adam, Noah, and their kin?”

    My question is, How does your approach help anyone with their testimony?

    You are correct Julie that the article you advised me to read answers your question of “did God do it?” and therein lies my problem with your reasons for not responding to my questions. Why is that your question? I will be the first to admit I am not a deep theory intellectual. I’m not even a scripture scholar. I’m a humble gospel doctrine teacher who tries to make my lessons applicable to my ward in their lives today. Discussing the possibility that it was a local flood would never even enter my mind as a topic. I know you said you were only going to mention it and give them some food for thought. Why? My opinion is God chose to flood the earth as a baptism. He accomplishes two things at one time: rids the world of wickedness, and performs its baptism. God did do it. God can do it. Your mind may not be able to comprehend how God did it, but He doesn’t make your salvation dependent on a full understanding of how His works are accomplished.

    I agree we have a primitive understanding, but I don’t think your scholarly suggestions have been any more help in making me have a better understanding of the story than what has been written in the scriptures. That has been my problem all along with this thread. Why are we even asking these questions?

    Julie, just as frustrated as you seem to be with not accepting my opinion about global flooding, I feel about your total embracing of secular reasons for spiritual events. I know I won’t be able to change your opinion any more than you can change mine. In fact my testimony has been strengthened the past few days. I live in a conservative area, surrounded by fellow LDS, so I’m sure my experience with those leaving the church because of literal interpretations is non-existent. Thus my blind faith. I wish I could understand a person’s need for this open-mindedness. It is not that I haven’t tried to see your point of view through this discussion, but it seems such a dumb thing for people to leave the gospel over. If you question the flood/creation story, how do you have faith to believe in the atonement? Tell me how the Savior could have suffered for everyone’s sins, heartaches, etc. in one night? The flood/creation question pales in comparison to this miraculous event. Where is your “article” that will explain how this event could not have happened the way it was literally written? And why would that knowledge be important to my testimony? It isn’t!

  89. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2006 at 9:52 pm

    Ivan, again, the issue (for me) isn’t “could” God have done this but “did” God do this, and the order and magnitude and quantity of “unnecessary” (given the goal) miracles in the literal reading is something that requires an explanation that no one has provided. Yes, Moore’s rhetoric is unfortunate, but his catalogue is (as far as I know) incomparable.

    But since we agree, I’m not sure why we are arguing about this. :)

    Brenda, you ascribe to me something someone else said–that quotation is from Mike Parker in #75. If you want to rewrite your post and separate out the statements I made from those Mike made, I’ll delete comment #88 and we can take the discussion from there. As it stands now, it makes no sense for me to respond to something I didn’t say.

  90. Ivan Wolfe on February 5, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    Julie -

    I guess it’s just my aversion to embracing someone or something that agrees with me on one point, but is otherwise actively trying to damage to nearly everything else I believe in.

    But then again, it’s nigh near impossible to find allies who agree with you in all respects, so I guess sometimes you just gotta go with what you can get………

  91. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2006 at 10:02 pm

    Fair enough, Ivan.

  92. Mike Parker on February 5, 2006 at 10:04 pm

    Rob,

    What disturbs me is that you seem to have a black-and-white view of scriptural interpretation — either we accept Genesis in the most literal fashion possible, or we discard it as a fairytale. There is a third option, the one I have been attempting to explain:

    The scriptures are the product of men who experienced God. God did not come down to tell them about history, geology, astrophysics, or cartography. He came down to tell them that he wants them to accept his covenant and be obedient to his commandments. These men then, in turn, shared their experience with others. The record of their experiences is written from their own point of view, including all the assumptions and understandings that God does not care to correct. In the course of his instruction, God may show these men some things about this earth and the universe, but the vision is not designed to alter their cosmology, only to give them enough information to understand the message God is communicating to them (which, again, is about covenants and commandments, not astrophysics). So the scriptures do not reflect an Einstein/Hawking/quantum mechanics view of the universe, but one in which the earth is the center of the universe.

    For example the purpose of the vision in Abraham 3 is to show to Abraham “that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all” (3:19). In order to demonstrate this, God shows Abraham the planets and stars, and explains how they are hierarchical (3:8–9) &mash; “one above another” — exactly how the creation accounts place the earth at center and stars in the firmament in a one-above-another approach. This is not how we now know the universe to be, but that doesn’t matter: God is attempting to prove a point and working within Abraham’s understanding. (Along these lines I recommend John Gee, William Hamblin, and Daniel C. Peterson, “‘And I Saw the Stars’: The Book of Abraham and Ancient Geocentric Astronomy,” in Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant, FARMS, 2005.)

    So, until you are willing to accept that there are other legitimate interpretations of scripture — ones that solve many of the problems of science and reason while still maintaining faith — I’m not sure I see much point in continuing this conversation.

  93. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2006 at 10:07 pm

    {By the way to Ivan, did you know that New York Doll will be at the Drafthouse downtown tomorrow, T, and W only? I’ll be there with a few friends on Mon at 9:45pm.}

  94. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    Julie,

    I have had time to read the link. First off, I know that the background of The National Center for Science Education works very closely with the ACLU in trying to destroy and take away our religious freedoms. These freedoms include removing anything in public that mentions God or religion.

    Amongst Moore’s countless assumptions that are already biased, He dwells mostly with how many actual animals were on the ship and how they were taken care of during the flood. There is a very bitter dispute as to how many actual animals needed to be on the Ark to preserve life. On one side it is in the millions and on the other it seldom reaches a 100,000 animals. Because both sides use reputable scientists with degrees in biology I will not get into that here. AIG has some pretty good arguments towards Moore’s though.

    Like I said before we could start linking to a zillion different websites swaying one way or the other, and each one leaves the reader wondering just how true the statements really are. Science does not have to prove that the flood was possible in order for us good Mormons to believe anyway. If we used that logic then why don’t we make science prove there is a God before believing in him or in miracles?

    The question to us isn’t whether the flood actually happened, it is whether it was global or local. If it was local, and the land masses were all in one piece then why not just migrate to the dry piece before the flood comes? If the flood was local and Noah went all over the earth telling people they would be destroyed, then why couldn’t the wicked people just migrate to the dry section? If it was local then why have all of the families from the earth sprang from Noah’s seed? If it was local why try to save birds when we know they can migrate thousands of miles? If it was local, why build such a humongous ark? If it was local, then has God broken his promise that he should never flood land again? If it was local, why the covenant to Enoch that he would never cover the earth again to destroy all flesh? If it was local, why do we have such a huge record of fossil laid flood sediment around the world?

  95. Ivan Wolfe on February 5, 2006 at 10:11 pm

    [Julie -

    I did not know that, but my wife and I were planning on going to the Drafthouse for Valentine's day. We hadn't decided on a movie yet - but perhaps now we have....]

  96. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    Rob Osborn–

    At this point I think you are deliberately misreading me. I’ve said in several places that it isn’t about ‘proving’ or ‘disproving’ a universal flood, but about whether God would choose to do something that violates so very many laws of nature when it wasn’t strictly necessary to accomplish the goal. You still haven’t answered that, and changing Moore’s numbers–even by several orders of magnitude–doesn’t change anything in terms of my question. I also notice that you don’t address anything he has to say about a whole host of other issues, from boatbuilding to rotting wood to habitats to gathering and then dispersing the animals.

    “If it was local, and the land masses were all in one piece then why not just migrate to the dry piece before the flood comes? ”

    Because there is important symbolic value in a flood for a variety of reasons: it ties us to the creation story and to Moses’ ark in the bulrushes and to the earth’s baptism (for some readers) for one thing.

    “If the flood was local and Noah went all over the earth telling people they would be destroyed, then why couldn’t the wicked people just migrate to the dry section?”

    If they believed Noah enough to think that a flood was coming, they would have believed him enough to repent. If they didn’t, it was probably too darn late to migrate when the flood came.

    “If it was local then why have all of the families from the earth sprang from Noah’s seed?”

    Is ‘all’ from God’s perspective or Noah’s? And back to that list of miracles: you think the physical differences between, say, Koreans, Scandinavians, and Aborigines are about 3000 years old?

    “f it was local why try to save birds when we know they can migrate thousands of miles?”

    Beats me.

    “If it was local, then has God broken his promise that he should never flood land again?”

    To my knowledge, God has never used a flood for the express purpose of destroying the wicked.

    “If it was local, why the covenant to Enoch that he would never cover the earth again to destroy all flesh? ”

    Again, ‘all flesh’ from whose perspective?

    “If it was local, why do we have such a huge record of fossil laid flood sediment around the world?”

    I cannot respond to that assertion kindly so I won’t.

  97. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 10:20 pm

    Mike,

    I agree fully. i have no problem with my faith and knowledge, and they do coincide with science- the science of God.

  98. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2006 at 10:21 pm

    Ivan–

    Be sure you have your dates right–it is playing this week, not Valentine’s Day:

    http://www.originalalamo.com/downtown/frames.asp?b=/online_tix/show_details.asp?show_id=3399

  99. Mike Parker on February 5, 2006 at 10:26 pm

    Rob, your last comment is full of presumptions! To wit:

    The question to us isn’t whether the flood actually happened, it is whether it was global or local. If it was local, and the land masses were all in one piece then why not just migrate to the dry piece before the flood comes?

    You’re presuming a single land mass pre-Flood. (An overly literal interpretation of Genesis 10:25.)

    If the flood was local and Noah went all over the earth telling people they would be destroyed, then why couldn’t the wicked people just migrate to the dry section?

    (a) No one believed him.
    (b) It’s possible there were other people in other parts of the world who were not part of the wicked group who were destroyed. In fact, from what we know of genetics and population growth, it seems likely.

    If it was local then why have all of the families from the earth sprang from Noah’s seed?

    See above.

    If it was local why try to save birds when we know they can migrate thousands of miles?

    If it was global, how did Noah obtain and house the approximately 10,000 species of birds, including ones that require extremely cold climates and simultaneously those that require tropical climates, and provide enough feed and space for them to fly? Or did they not eat or fly for one year?

    If it was local, why build such a humongous ark?

    You’re missing the point. The measurements for the ark are impossibly large. No wooden ship that size would survive the torque placed on it by even a mild ocean current, let alone a raging storm. The size of the ark has been inflated by later writers. (Horror! The text isn’t inerrant!)

    If it was local, then has God broken his promise that he should never flood land again? If it was local, why the covenant to Enoch that he would never cover the earth again to destroy all flesh?

    Certainly not to the degree that actually took place.

    If it was local, why do we have such a huge record of fossil laid flood sediment around the world?

    We don’t. You’ve bought into the creationist “science.”

  100. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 10:27 pm

    Julie,

    Maybe you should study the BoM where God used floods or sinking land masses into oceans to destroy the wicked. The recent tsunami in Indonesia brings to mind the destruction of the wicked or even New Orleans. These were what one could call floods of water upon the earth- the wrath of God.

  101. Mike Parker on February 5, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    Rob #97:

    Oh, barf.

  102. Wilfried on February 5, 2006 at 10:30 pm

    Wow. 100, 101, 102… What a flood of comments. Congratulations, Julie, for keeping this arch afloat.

    I should add, bravo for your best comment: “For all you know, it is a specialized term meaning ‘localized flood for the purpose of destroying the wicked and wasting the time of the Saints 1000s of years later through the engagement in petty, meaningless, unsolvable arguments.’ ”

  103. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2006 at 10:33 pm

    Rob,

    Go to lds.org and do a keyword search on “flood” in the BoM; you will find nothing related to the 3 Nephi destructions.

    To the extent that you are claiming that the purpose of the tsunami or Katrina was to destroy the wicked, you are speaking contrary to waht President Hinckley has taught: “Now, I do not say, and I repeat emphatically that I do not say or infer, that what has happened is the punishment of the Lord.”

  104. Brenda C on February 5, 2006 at 10:33 pm

    You are right Julie. Sorry. I was going back from your comments and Mikes and I apologize for mixing them up.

  105. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2006 at 10:34 pm

    “What a flood of comments. ”

    groan You’ve been hanging around Kaimi too long.

  106. Geoff J on February 5, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    Rob: The question to us isn’t whether the flood actually happened, it is whether it was global or local.

    Actually, one of the questions is whether a flood literally happened or if it is an allegory. I think it is entirely possible that none of the pre-Abrahamic tales should be read as literal history. See my recent post on that.

    And by the way, this appeal to “faith” on this issue doesn’t work for me. Faith is a hope for things which are not seen which are true (Alma 32:21). I am convinced that a literal global flood is not true, so I consider Rob’s belief to be something other than true faith.

  107. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 10:44 pm

    Mike,

    What is your interpretation of D&C 133:22-24 where the mountains go back down, the oceans depart, no more islands, and the lands becoming one again as they were before they were divided?

    What is your interpretation of Moses 7:45 where all the families of the earth come from Noah?

    It wasn’t man’s knowledge that built the ark, it was God’s. Because no one has built a replica of the ark as per God’s plans we cannot know the physics of it, so why question God’s technology?

    There are points to creationists that I do not agree with just as there are points to modern teachings of biology and geology that I don’t buy into, so don’t just assume that I am bought off by a group. There are seashells on every major uplifted mountain chain in the world. Near to my house you could go fossil hunting in the mountain valleys that are in the 6-7000 ft. elevation and there are evidences of ocean laid fossils in abundance.

  108. Mike Parker on February 5, 2006 at 10:52 pm

    Rob #107:

    What is your interpretation of D&C 133:22-24 where the mountains go back down, the oceans depart, no more islands, and the lands becoming one again as they were before they were divided? What is your interpretation of Moses 7:45 where all the families of the earth come from Noah?

    Like many such statements in the OT, these are hyperbolic.

    It wasn’t man’s knowledge that built the ark, it was God’s. Because no one has built a replica of the ark as per God’s plans we cannot know the physics of it, so why question God’s technology?

    I question only, if God revealed how to create a ship that no one has ever been able to create, then why didn’t he pass this technology on to his descendants? Why are there no examples of large ships being built for over one thousand years after Noah? The introduction of new technology always spawns imitators; why are there none here?

    There are seashells on every major uplifted mountain chain in the world. Near to my house you could go fossil hunting in the mountain valleys that are in the 6-7000 ft. elevation and there are evidences of ocean laid fossils in abundance.

    Which are much more easily accounted for by lower-level strata being thrust upward over millions of years by tectonic shifts than by a global flood and its thousands of logical impossibilities.

  109. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    Julie,

    I cannot infer what exactly Hinkley was getting at. But I can refer you to the word of God- read D&C 88:85-91 where the Lord specifically calls the destruction of the wicked by the the seas going beyond their bounds.

  110. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 10:59 pm

    Geoff,
    I am well aware of your allegorical tales, the problem there lies in the fact that what you propose is very contrary to the teachings of the gospel.

  111. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 11:03 pm

    Mike,

    Do you believe in evolution?

  112. Mike Parker on February 5, 2006 at 11:05 pm

    Rob,

    Do you believe that the lost ten tribes are located somewhere under a hole near the polar ice cap?

  113. Ivan Wolfe on February 5, 2006 at 11:07 pm

    [Oh - wait - NYDoll was this week only. Oops. Hmm - I wonder if we can go this week?]

  114. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 11:14 pm

    Mike,

    What does people under the ice have to do with a flood or my question of evolution? I do not specifically know the whereabouts of those lost tribes.

    The reason I asked if you believe in evolution is because you mentioned the mountains being upthrust over millions of years and I was just wondering if you also believe in evolutuion over millions of years?

  115. Mike Parker on February 5, 2006 at 11:14 pm

    Rob,

    I believe that species adapt to changing conditions (natural selection).

    I believe that current animal species are the adapted descendants of a smaller set of previous animal species that no longer exist (common descent).

    I am not sure how that relates to human existence, but I am sure that Adam was a son of God and came to this earth specifically to be the first prophet and covenant individual.

  116. Rob Osborn on February 5, 2006 at 11:29 pm

    The way I have usually found what people believe in can be summarized by three categories.
    1. Believe in evolution- also believe in no global flood
    2. undecided belief in evolution- also undecided on global or local flood
    3. No belief in evolution- also believe in global flood

    From this logic we can see that 9 out of 10 times this logic holds up. If one is not swayed with the teachings of evolution then it is easier to believe in more of a literal learning of Genesis. But if one is already swayed towards evolution then there is not much room for the stories of the flood and creation. Those who are undecided in their belief of the flood are usually also undecided in the age of the earth and evolution.

    Very very interesting.

  117. Geoff J on February 5, 2006 at 11:38 pm

    I am well aware of your allegorical tales, the problem there lies in the fact that what you propose is very contrary to the teachings of the gospel.

    Hehe. Niiice.

    If you mean The Gospel according to Rob Osborn then I readily agree.

  118. Mike Parker on February 5, 2006 at 11:44 pm

    Rob,

    FWIW, I agree with your three categories and the 9/10ths application in comment #116.

    I reject the notion, popular among certain fundamentalist Mormons, that evolution is a heresy and incompatible with the gospel. But I’m not interested in going off on a discussion about evolution. I think we’ve worked one controversial topic over well enough.

    Thanks for the healthy debate. I hope you can accept the legitimacy of my beliefs as much as I accept the legitimacy of yours. I think they are incorrect, but I don’t think that they are incompatible with faith in the restored gospel.

  119. Kaimi Wenger on February 6, 2006 at 12:41 am

    Rob Osborn,

    Your interpretational approach is rather curious. You casually dismiss statements made by President Hinckley and John Widstoe, yet you elevate written scripture — or at least, your interpretation of this — to a completely untouchable status.

    You openly question the faith of modern prophets and apostles to the extent that their statements contradict your own view of scripture (see #42) and dismiss their statements as the statements of men. You have stated that your own view of the D&C as related to Katrina is superior to the Prophet’s statements on the matter. The Prophet is only a man, and the D&C is scripture.

    Yet the scripture itself was written by men. The only claim that scripture can have to superior status is that we believe that those men who wrote scripture were inspired of God. And does not that same authority claim mean that when they speak as prophets, that their statements are due some deference. I find it very curious that you are so quick to dismiss their statements, given the level of deference that you insist that others ought to have for the selected prophetic writings that have been canonized. (If President Hickley’s (or other leaders’) statements were added to the D&C tomorrow, then would you take them seriously?)

    My sense of the discussion (perhaps wrong) is that one source of the continued back-and-forth may be that you are advocating a relatively unique interpretational approach that is not often seen within the church.

  120. Kaimi Wenger on February 6, 2006 at 12:50 am

    Wilfried,

    Yes, it is a flood of comments indeed. But at least it’s only a localized flood! :)

  121. Kaimi Wenger on February 6, 2006 at 12:52 am

    One other note, to everyone: Let’s keep the comments civil, please.

    This means both you, Mike (101), and you, Rob (comments such as 85 and 110). This discussion is great, and we’re happy to have it. But let’s keep it within bounds. Don’t tempt the evil trigger-happy comment-deleting admins. We wouldn’t want to have to cleanse this thread with a flood of deleted or redacted comments.

    Okay, back to the debate at hand. Play ball!

  122. Tim Jacob on February 6, 2006 at 1:01 am

    Man, I go watch one little football game and look what happens.

    “Now, I do not say, and I repeat emphatically that I do not say or infer, that what has happened is the punishment of the Lord.�

    GBH isn’t saying that it_wasn’t_punishment either. He could have easily have said, “This is_not_a punishment from the Lord,” but he didn’t.

  123. Rob Osborn on February 6, 2006 at 1:33 am

    Kaimi,

    I am not stating that my opinion was superior to Hinkley, I was just stating that it was to hard to infer what it was exactly that he meant. He was in a position where he had to use some political speaking so to say in behalf of the church. He neither states whether it was God’s wrath or wasn’t, he is just making a political statement in behalf of the church saying basically that he does not truly know if it was wrath or not.

    As far as Widstoe goes, Yes I am questioning his faith on this subject. The prophet at the time also questioned his faith as well on this subject as I recall. Just because a past prophet has said that I will not be exalted unless i enter into plural marriage does not mean I have to believe him when the word of God says otherwise.

    I never said that D&C section 88 was superior to Hinkley, I just feel that that scripture can be applied to what is currently happening around the world. It doesn’t take much reason to see how the destruction of the earth coincides with the written word of God.

  124. Rob Osborn on February 6, 2006 at 1:50 am

    A very good book to read on the subject of the Flood is a book called “Grand Canyon a different view”. I picked this book up at the bookstore at the south rim a few years back and have read it several times. The book is getting national attention and the evolutionists are very bitter that it is being sold at the Government owned bookstore. The book contains many wonderful pictures and essays written by various scholars and scientists that bring many questions into the whole debate. I would highly reccomend the read.

    I think a lot of the times it would be good to hear both sides of the debate of the flood in a civilized classroom atmosphere. I think too often that our children are bombarded so much with just one side that it leaves very little room for their tiny seed of faith to grow. I teach to my son that the scriptures are some of the most correct books we have on earth and that we should use them as our foundational basis to judge all things.

  125. Jim F. on February 6, 2006 at 1:57 am

    Question: Is anything new being said in this discussion? We all now know that some people believe that they can deny that the flood was universal and be good members. We all now know that other people believe that the only position we can reasonably take is that the flood was universal, that to say otherwise is to deny the scriptures. If there is something that will take us beyond those two positions, then it seems to me that the discussion is worth it. However, we haven’t seen anything going beyond those two poles in a long time, so I conclude that this discussion is a waste of ether space (and since there is no ether, that says a lot about the discussion’s current value).

    If you wish to go on beating each other over the heads with your contrary positions, go ahead. No one will stop you (unless you get nasty with each other). But surely you have better things to do now that each side has had its say and we’ve come to a position beyond which we are unable to move. Go do your home teaching!

  126. Matt Evans on February 6, 2006 at 3:02 am

    “How long do we hold onto the old traditions that simply cannot fit into any sense of reality?”

    I find this sentiment to be the most interesting here, since it was presumably given in good faith, and received warmly by others, yet parallels the arguments of Korihor and the order of Nehor: “Foolish traditions of your fathers,” and “It is not reasonable that a being such as Christ shall come.” I don’t think Mike or anyone else was deliberately quoting the bad guys from scriptures, and I want to make that clear, but I think it is important to address this point because I think it is absolutely wrong. Like Julie said, there is no reason God couldn’t pull off a universal flood.

    I can’t think of any way in which one can claim to believe in miracles yet ridicule a particular miracle, like the universal flood, as being impossible. All of the miracles are impossible by naturalistic standard, and the primary argument of Moore’s seems to be that, unlike some other miracles, the miracle of the flood would have required God to have sustained the miracle for a very long time. But why is that dimension of miracle too hard for God?

    It makes a lot more sense to me to believe in the universal flood than to believe someone can distinguish the possible from the impossible miracles of scripture. The Jaredite journey to the promised land is similarly incredible, as is the story of Jericho, Moses’s arm-height determining the battle’s victor, the plagues of Egypt, mannah six-days-a-week, feeding 5000 with a few loaves, raising Lazarus from the dead, Christ raising himself from the dead, and John the Baptist ordaining Smith and Cowdery to the priesthood in 1829. No one can say with a straight face that those miracles are “realistic,” and few of them are “necessary.” There are seemingly less complicated ways to accomplish all of the perceived objectives, minus the raw display of God’s infinite power.

    Some here have warned against teaching youth to have a strict belief in the universal flood, for fear that they’d leave the church when they went to college, but I don’t know where that logic ends. Our kids’ anthropology professors will teach them that there were no silk-wearing, horse-riding, pre-Columbians fighting with steel swords, so on the basis of the “college professor will think they’re nuts” basis we should warn them against a literal reading of Book of Mormon history. But it seems to me that we shouldn’t tell them that the Book of Mormon is a moral fable, but instead should prepare them to reject the naturalistic assumptions of their professors, whose response as learned and wise people is, and always has been, that belief in miracles is “foolishness.”

    Rather than judge miracles against “reality” or “old traditions,” which appear to be a euphemism for checking them against naturalistic assumptions; we should read the scriptures and teachings of the prophets to see what the scriptures and stories are intended to mean, and whether they write as though the story really happened, and if the story describes God’s interaction with the human race, or if it’s figurative.

    It’s important to distinguish the literal from the figurative because figurative stories can’t inspire literal faith.

  127. Aaron Brown on February 6, 2006 at 4:43 am

    Matt Evans said:
    “I can’t think of any way in which one can claim to believe in miracles yet ridicule a particular miracle, like the universal flood, as being impossible.”

    No one is saying this. No one is saying that the miracle of a great flood is qualitatively distinguishable from other well-known miracles, such that the former is “impossible,” while the latter are possible (albeit impossible for us to currently understand fully).

    “All of the miracles are impossible by naturalistic standard, and the primary argument of Moore’s seems to be that, unlike some other miracles, the miracle of the flood would have required God to have sustained the miracle for a very long time”

    No. This is not what Moore is saying. See some of Julie’s and Mike Parker’s comments above. Moore’s problem with the flood is not that it required God “to have sustained the miracle for a very long time.” His problem is that to accept the story at face value, you have to believe that God engaged in hundreds of separate mirific events. Over and over and over and over and over again. And for what? You have to keep invoking them just to save a “literal” understanding of this story. There comes a point at which one says, “Why should I go through all these intellectual gymnastics, when it seems more likely that the story is allegorical, and/or is based on pre-modern understandings of ________, etc.”

    “But why is that dimension of miracle too hard for God?”

    Come on, Matt. This is a red herring. Do you really hear skeptics of a universal flood saying, “I just can’t believe the flood happened because I just don’t believe God is powerful enough! Pulling off this miracle sounds like it would be really, really, really hard! I just can’t imagine that God is up to the task!” I would venture to guess that NO ONE holds this view (except for atheists, of course, but they’re beyond the scope of who I’m talking about). I’ve never run across anyone who believes the plausibility of a specific miracle turns on this question, and I know a lot of “Mormon finitists.” The whole “Who-are-you-to-say-that-God-isn’t-powerful-enough-to-do-such-and-such” line is a distraction from the real issue.

    What is the real issue? Well, as I think about whether to take a given miracle at face value or not, one of the issues for me is whether a given miracle seems like it is a crucial event of significant theological importance. For example, Joseph Smith claimed to see God the Father and Jesus Christ in a vision. Joseph claimed to have been directed to some Gold Plates by an angel. The scriptures attest to Jesus’ rising from the dead, and other miracles. Yes, these all seem “implausible” in the same way that perhaps a global flood does. But they are central to the theology of Christianity (or the historical claims of Mormonism, as it were), and those who believe them (or, like Joseph Smith, bear first-hand testimony of them) are very cognizant of how incredible and unusual these claims are. I find faith in these sorts of things do be what Christianity means to demand from its adherents. There are some central, core claims that Christians are asked to believe in and that non-Christians, by definition, will reject. Those claims will necessarily be fantastic, in some sense. But this doesn’t mean I need to embrace all the peripheral fantastic-ness in the scriptures that seems like it can be better explained via more mundane means.

    I have my doubts that Christianity, properly understood, requires us to accept every little thing in the scriptural text — no matter how peripheral it appears to be — just because it’s in the text. I see no reason to automatically take a miraculous story at face value just because someone several thousand years ago put it in the scriptures. I would not want to excise the miraculous from the text or the religion completely (see above), but I do think it is reasonable to assume that some of what we read there reflects pre-modern understandings that are more a function of the limited beliefs of mankind in earlier times than they are reflections of God’s having held his followers’ hands in such a way as to ensure the literal accuracy (by modern historical or scientific standards) of all the stories in the text.

    In short, I think the question of how we read the scriptures and what kind of presumptions we bring to the text are central, while discussions of God’s power are peripheral.

    Aaron B

  128. Brenda C on February 6, 2006 at 9:03 am

    Great job Matt!

    I still would like someone from the local flooding side to explain to me how justifying the Noah/Creation story somehow so it fits with science helps their testimony. My perspective would be if someone needs a reason such as this to remain a member of the church, how can they ever understand the Atonement?

    I’m just trying to understand this part of the debate. Aaron somewhat answers this in the end of his comments (128) saying we don’t need to take everything literally to be true Christians.

    I wasn’t participating when we talked about the fall. This is another place where maybe I take the scriptures more literal than some. I believe the earth actually fell into the solar system at the time of the fall. The reason I think this is because there was no opposition in the Garden of Eden. So even though day and night had been created, it was not used because then there would have been opposition, and Adam and Eve knew not what that was. Brigham Young in Journal of Discourses agrees. He said the earth was near Kolob during the Eden days, and literally fell at the time of the fall. Any thoughts on this?

  129. Clinton on February 6, 2006 at 10:24 am

    Rob,
    “The prophet at the time also questioned his faith as well on this subject as I recall.”
    I’m calling you on this one Rob. You are wrong … The prophet NEVER called him on this. Nor did he call Talmage on the same thing. Unless of course you have documentation to refute me. The story you are referencing was Joseph Fielding Smith who questioned Henry Eyring … And what you blantantly left out the most important part of the story. At the end of the discussion of the merits of both sides JFS and HE left on agreeable terms each respecting the other’s views. I agree with previous statements – Please do not dismiss my faith because my approach is defferent than yours.

  130. Rob Osborn on February 6, 2006 at 11:03 am

    Clinton,

    My apologies on the issue then. I do think it is safe to say however that Church leaders high up have had disagreements about this before. I do not dismiss your faith. Several years ago I got into a fairly good heated debate with the folks at FARMS. One of the topics we debated was where the hill Cumorah was located, I insisted that we could not conclude and rule out that the hill in upstate New York was not that hill as is spoken of in the BoM. They on the other hand said that it could not possibly be the hill and had already ruled it out despite what just about every Church prophet has said on the matter. The point I am getting at is that there are certain individuals that are linked with the church in paid positions (at BYU) that have continually rejected what the prophets have said on everything from BoM locations to evolution and the literalness of the flood. These individuals are pursuing there own lusts and causing the questioning of faith of many good young bright LDS scholars. It seems that not too long from now there will be a dividing of those who profess the authority of the OT and those who don’t.

    Faith is based upon belief. And if the belief is not true, can there be any faith? No, because when the truth is revealed they undrstand it not becuse of disbelief. Slowly and slowly the teachings of men have crept into that same area where we have that seed of faith planted, and if not watched carefully one will discard the seed and take hold of the world and it’s lusts.

  131. Matt Evans on February 6, 2006 at 11:28 am

    Aaron,

    Moore’s strategy is to parse the miracle “whereby eight were saved” into its component parts to show that this miracle is actually a gazillion different miracles, and to then suggest that the sheer quantity of miracles says something about the probability of its happening. This doesn’t make sense to me because every miracle can be parsed into a gazillion component parts. As someone said already, I think it was Ivan, raising someone from the dead would also involve a gazillion miracles. (“Then you’re saying God caused each one of the billions of nucleotides to regenerate. Then you believe God caused the cellular membranes of all six billion deteriorating neural cells to restore their shape. Then he caused the body to metabolize the lethal levels of carbon dioxide currently in the dead body.” Etc. I don’t know the biological consequences of death in any detail, but I’m confident an expert could break it down into a thousand dependent parts.)

    Then after the expert is done explaining what resurrection actually entails we could all stand back and, according to Moore, decide that it’s patently absurd to think that God would perform ten trillion miracles just to spare a man’s life when he could have simply prevented him from getting dysentary in the first place. (Overlooking, of course, the fact that preventing one man from getting dysentary could be parsed into a thousand miracles, too.)

    If you read Moore to be making a different argument than the one I’ve attributed to him, please explain it because this is how I read his claim.

    I agree with you that some miracles are more central to our theology than others, but I don’t see any justification for judging whether a particular miracle happened based on its role in our theology. The seagulls eating the crickets isn’t important for our theology, for example, but I don’t see how that observation helps us know whether God actually sent countless seagulls to save the crops of the pioneers.

  132. Clinton on February 6, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    [#131] So now all Mormons who believe in a limited flood geology “are pursuing there own lusts and causing the questioning of faith.” I accept your sincere apology and the knife in the back.

  133. Mike Parker on February 6, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    Clinton #133: It really is offensive, isn’t it?

  134. Rob Osborn on February 6, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    Clinton,

    I did not say that all mormons who believe in a limited flood geology. I specifically stated those I associate with this are those paid professors with links to the Church and other high up members who are in a position to have some clout. They should know better than to contradict what the written word of God says. And yes I do attribute 2 Peter 3:5-6 T their willing ignorance of the reality of the flood.

    Take offense if you will but I am pointing my thoughts directly at those individuals in teaching callings or paid positions that teach contrary to the revealed word.

  135. Julie M. Smith on February 6, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    Re #123:

    Rob,

    I am very displeased to see you suggest that our Prophet would make a statement over the pulpit in General Conference to be ‘political.’ I find that very, very offensive. I do not believe that he would mislead the Saints on the interpretation of what some regard as a sign of the time in order to curry favor with the world.

    And just when Jim F. shows up to inject some reason into the debate by suggesting that it end because it is not getting anywhere, Matt Evans shows up with something new under the sun. So I’d like to respond to Matt. I think that your question about the issue of gazillions of miracles and their necessity is a very good one. I’d like to explain how I answer it using your comparison.

    Goal: to raise Lazarus from the dead to teach Jesus’ followers that He holds the keys of life and death
    Necessary Miracle: to raise a human from the dead, whether you call that one miracle or six trillion separate ones

    Goal: to destory the wicked to show that the Lord will exercise judgment
    Unnecessary Miracle: to keep all animal and plant life alive aboard a big boat for a year, whether you call that one miracle or six trillion separate ones

    Again, for me the big issue isn’t _could_ but _would_, and to date no one here has given me a reason why God would micromanage nature contrary to his apparent laws in order to have a universal flood.

  136. Ben on February 6, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    “These individuals are pursuing there own lusts and causing the questioning of faith of many good young bright LDS scholars. It seems that not too long from now there will be a dividing of those who profess the authority of the OT and those who don’t. ”

    Whoa there!

    Whether the Old Testament is authoritative is not identical to whether it should be read literally. You’re conflating the two issues.

    I also find it vaguely amusing that you think BYU religion professors are fomenting apostasy. Isn’t it up to the Apostles to determine that?

    Further, as one who considers himself a young LDS scholar (the “bright” part is debatable, but I’m teaching at BYU this summer again), I think enforcing an (overly) literal reading of the Old Testament does more harm to faith than putting out all the data and allowing students to make up their own minds. Mental rigidity only makes you prone to snapping. (Ask Steve Benson.)

    That’s not to say there aren’t doctrinal issues we should not be dogmatic on, only that they are few, and the flood is not one of them.

  137. Ben on February 6, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    Sorry, read- “That’s not to say we shouldn’t be dogmatic on *any* doctrinal issues, only that they are few, and the flood is not one of them.”

  138. Mike Parker on February 6, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    Ben #136/37: Hear, hear!

  139. John C. on February 6, 2006 at 5:54 pm

    It’s important to distinguish the literal from the figurative because figurative stories can’t inspire literal faith.

    Matt,
    I don’t follow. Please explain

  140. John C. on February 6, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    “Now, I do not say, and I repeat emphatically that I do not say or infer, that what has happened is the punishment of the Lord.�

    GBH isn’t saying that it_wasn’t_punishment either. He could have easily have said, “This is_not_a punishment from the Lord,� but he didn’t.

    Tim,
    I don’t understand how you got from point a to point b here. Please explain.

  141. Rob Osborn on February 6, 2006 at 8:09 pm

    I am sorryt for my wrong approach to this subject, forgive me people. I thought a lot about everything and although I am set in my ways I would like to try to take a more humble approach from now on. It seems easier to be more open minded.

  142. Julie M. Smith on February 6, 2006 at 8:39 pm

    Rob, I admire your honesty, humility, and willingness to consider new ideas.

  143. Matt Evans on February 6, 2006 at 8:59 pm

    Julie,

    A global flood is a very good way to baptize the earth, and is pretty much the only way I can think of doing it. I think the weakness in your rebuttal is the presumption that we know why God performs a miracle such as the flood, but as you point out, if his only objective was to wipe the earth clean (figuratively rather than literally speaking), he could have knocked everyone off some other way. But maybe he really wanted a type and a shadow of Christ’s baptism, or maybe the earth needs ordinances in a way we don’t comprehend. So maybe focusing on the animals and the ark is beside the point.

    I also think that there would be simpler ways to achieve most miracle’s “apparent” objectives, not just the flood. If Jesus wanted to call his sheep in anticipation of his second coming, for example, I can think of leaner methods than calling a 14-year-old farm boy from a small town to start a church. The miraculous way Christ has chosen to gather his elect in the last days makes his miracle with Noah look downright efficient.

  144. Rob Osborn on February 6, 2006 at 8:59 pm

    Thanks Julie,

    I am a thinking that even though we might think different, there is a common ground for all of us.

  145. Julie M. Smith on February 6, 2006 at 9:07 pm

    Matt, if one believes (1) that the flood was the baptism of the earth and (2) that a full immersion baptism was necessary for the earth, then, yes, a universal flood would be a necessity. Of course, not everyone agree with (1) and/or (2). As I stated waaaay back in the lesson material, I think a case can be made for a universal flood and a case can be made for a local flood. You’ve presented some of (what I think are) the best reasons to think that the flood was universal.

  146. Matt Evans on February 6, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    John C.,

    I don’t believe figurative stories of God protecting his followers can inspire the faith necessary for people to rely on God for their preservation. My guess is that people who know Paul H. Dunn’s stories are figurative are less inspired by them.

  147. Julie M. Smith on February 6, 2006 at 9:16 pm

    Matt, what about parables? From the records that we have, it appears that Jesus used ‘figurative stories’ far more than he used ‘historical’ ones.

  148. Matt Evans on February 6, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    Julie, I think parables are useful for teaching principles, but not for inspiring faith. From the parables of Jesus that I can think of right now, he used all of them to illustrate a principle he wanted the people to understand. So for scripture stories whose sole value is to teach an abstract principle, I don’t think it matters if the story happened or not, but stories that claim God saved a person, or a whole nation, who relied on him, are bankrupt if they’re not historically true.

    There’s probably no better example than the way we use the story of Joseph Smith reading James 1:5. Millions have asked God because they think that story really happened, but I don’t think it would motivate a soul if we learned that his story was just a story.

  149. Jared on February 6, 2006 at 10:26 pm

    I’ve written elsewhere that I do not deny God any power, but we have to deal with what we have in the way of evidence. Aside from the logistical problems, in order to believe in a global flood it seems that I also have to believe that God cleaned up after himself so that nobody could know of the flood by any way other than the scriptures. In fact he planted contradictory evidence. I suppose that it is possible that God deliberately made it look like there wasn’t a global flood, just to test the people who lived in the scientific era–there’s no way to disprove it–but I don’t find that option appealing.

    It also works against Book of Mormon apologetics. The Native Americans have Asian DNA? No problem, we’re talking about a small group of people mixing in to an already populated continent. If the flood was global, it seems to me that that scenario becomes more tenuous.

  150. Rob Osborn on February 6, 2006 at 10:39 pm

    Jared,
    On whether God deliberatly made it look like there was no flood.

    I was driving back from California from vacation 2 years ago and coming through that stretch before you hit Vegas, I was just looking at all of the rough terrain and the sedimentary laid rocks and it dawned on me that to me there was all kinds of evidence for the flood right there out in the desert. I could see where a massive mountain had uplifted violently and then tilted and broke in half exposing twisted and fragmented strata, It is like it just happened not too long ago. That great mountain that was at one time underneath the flood waters and then being violently uplifted. I was truly impressed for the first time with the ugly sublime scenery.

  151. BrianJ on February 7, 2006 at 12:02 am

    RE: Post #116

    Rob said:

    The way I have usually found what people believe in can be summarized by three categories.
    1. Believe in evolution- also believe in no global flood
    2. undecided belief in evolution- also undecided on global or local flood
    3. No belief in evolution- also believe in global flood

    I have noticed more or less the same pattern, and I also find it “very, very interesting.” This is because the “No evolution/Yes Global Flood” pairing seems bizarre. Those I have talked to who fall in this category (“#3-ers”) are always ready to accept that the millions of species we classify today could never fit into a vessel the size of Noah’s ark. Those #3-ers I have talked to resolve this by using the 8,000-50,000 species number you allude to in Post #94. But that solution necessitates evolution after the Flood in order to generate today’s diversity. Nevertheless, the same #3-ers I have talked to decry evolution as heresy. What is your view on this apparent disconnect?

    Thanks.

  152. Mike Parker on February 7, 2006 at 2:44 am

    Rob #150: The problem with your example is that there are other explanations for the existence of your mountain that make much more sense than a global flood … and also conveniently explain all the other geologic features that can’t possibly fit in with a flood.

  153. Matt Evans on February 7, 2006 at 8:56 am

    Jared,

    I think God does a very good job covering his tracks all the time. As we discussed in the thread Does everything denote their is a God?, God’s managed to create and design the world so that people are able to avoid seeing his fingerprints. God seems to prevent us from ever being able to walk by sight — there’s no conclusive Book of Mormon archeology, Moroni retreived the gold plates, the Urim & Thumim aren’t on display, there’s no third-party (Egyptian) verification of God’s parting the Red Sea, and science suggests that death entered the world before Adam and Eve. Because there’s no shortage of examples of God hiding himself so we’re forced to walk by faith, I don’t know that we can conclude anything from our inability to prove that God baptized the earth a few thousand years ago.

  154. John C. on February 7, 2006 at 9:14 am

    Are people inspired to repent after reading the parable of the prodigal? Do their home-teaching after reading the parable of the lost sheep? Can such things inspire faith in a saving God?

  155. BrianJ on February 7, 2006 at 9:31 am

    RE: Post #116

    Rob said:

    The way I have usually found what people believe in can be summarized by three categories.
    1. Believe in evolution- also believe in no global flood
    2. undecided belief in evolution- also undecided on global or local flood
    3. No belief in evolution- also believe in global flood

    I have also noticed the same pattern and I too find it “very, very interesting.� The people I have talked to who believe in a global flood (“#3-ers�) also do not believe that evolution occurs. Interestingly, the #3-ers that I have talked to readily suggest that the ark could not have held the millions of air-breathing species we identify today; this is overcome by the #3-ers I have talked to by citing the 8,00-50,000 species number alluded to in post #94. However, this solution necessitates that there be evolution after the Flood in order to generate today’s diversity. The #3-ers I have talked to have not explained or even acknowledged this apparent disconnect.

    Rob et al, what are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks.

  156. John C. on February 7, 2006 at 9:57 am

    Matt,
    I just think that you are wrong. Parables and other examples of fiction can inspire action and one of those actions is the search for faith. The means of actually confirmation is not for us to judge, condemn, or deny (who am I to say that people who say they got their initial testimony from reading the Work and the Glory have an insufficient basis for belief).

  157. John C. on February 7, 2006 at 10:08 am

    Is there some sort of comment queue for comments that disagree with Matt?

  158. Rob Osborn on February 7, 2006 at 11:13 am

    Brian,

    I am not aware of every species on the world that is a nostril breathing critter that could have been represented on the Ark, I do not know the exact number, I don’t think anyone knows that for sure. Depending on what professional scholar you talk too they will either tell you it was impossible as their are too many different diverse creatures today, or from others they will tell you there was only about 15,000 to 100,000 all of which have been proven that they could have fit on a ship of that magnitude.

    It’s like I asked in a recent post- Why have such a large boat if it was just a localized event?

    Mike, What are them other models you are refering to I am really interested?

    Matt, I find evidences everywhere of evidence of BoM lands, of the Flood and also no death before fall. I guess it must be all in what type of goggles one is looking through.

  159. John C. on February 7, 2006 at 11:28 am

    Matt,
    Parables and other fictions can inspire people to act and some of those acts can be acts of faith. People who found the works of Gerald Lund inspiring enough to lead to their conversion should not be shunned. Some people return to the church based solely on ideas contained in parables like the lost sheep or the prodigal son. I think your distinction requires more nuance.

  160. Jared on February 7, 2006 at 11:54 am

    Matt,

    My view is that we usually cannot see God’s fingerprints because he often works by means indistinguishable from natural processes or in a way that cannot be examined. I see that as somewhat different than planting counter evidence. If someone claims to be healed of cancer, it may or may not be a miracle–sometimes tumors regress. But we would at least expect to see a page in their chart with a diagnosis of the tumor in the first place. Jesus’ body was rumored to be stolen–a look-alike body wasn’t left in his place. There is much in the Book of Mormon that cannot be verified, but some of it can–there was such a place as Jerusalem.

    I suppose that ultimately, any argument about what God would or wouldn’t do is fundametally flawed. But I don’t see why the “fudge factor” must always fall on the science side.

  161. BrianJ on February 7, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Rob,

    I am sorry that I was not clear. My question is not whether n number of species could have fit on the ark. My question is: if we take as fact that the ark held fewer species than are alive today (be it by a factor of 10 or 1,000), then how do we account for the appearance of so many species after the Flood?

    By the way, regarding a question posed to you earlier: Why weren’t there any other hugmongous ships built after Noah/why didn’t he pass on the big-ship building knowledge? My answer: whether Noah passed on the knowledge or not we cannot tell, but lets suppose he did. Who is going to want to build a gigantic boat like that? What use would it serve? Knowledge, once possessed, but not used, will be forgotten.

    Thanks.

  162. Tim J. on February 7, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    Do you really think Noah could have replicated the Ark again without God’s help? I doubt it. I don’t think one can be shown one time how to do something, and then become an expert all of a sudden.

  163. Rob Osborn on February 7, 2006 at 3:01 pm

    Brian’

    What is most always overlooked are a few assumable facts. I will list them below
    1. Species as defined by scientists are probably not the same thing as when the Lord told Noah to gather two of every kind.
    2. Over time, especially thousands of years, species change in order to adapt to their surroundings, this can be interpreted as everytime a species changes enough it gets a new species classification.
    3. Assuming the flood was global- we should look in the fossil record for what types of animals Noah would of taken on the Ark versus what types of animals are walking the earth today as they would have changed enough to be classified as a different species.
    4. Assuming #3 statement can be used as the hypothesis- How many land dwelling, nostril breathing species remains have been found in the geologic column?
    5. All species numbers as marked by todays leading taxonomists are estimations- therefor to validate what numbers were actually on the ark would also be just estimates.

    What scientists cal micro-evolution can be also called adjustment within a kind to adapt to their surroundings. The aboriginees of Australia did not evolve into a different species, they just adapted to the climate over hundereds or perhaps thousands of years. There would be no difference with all types of animals as well. So to speak in todays terms as to how many animals would have to be represented on the ark- we can only check the fossil record for that account.

    There were about 1.5 billion cubic feet of space on the ark. The estimated volume size is equal to abot 570 railroad stock cars.

    Another interesting feature of the miracle of the flood was that the Lord God was in the Ark and who knows what kind of miracles happened with that situation.

  164. Jared on February 7, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    Rob,

    Are you sure fossils are an accurate guide to pre-flood fauna? Some people believe that fossils are remnants from old planets–how would you rule that out?

  165. Mike Parker on February 7, 2006 at 8:18 pm

    Rob #158: “Mike, What are them other models you are refering to I am really interested?”

    I’ve mentioned before the longer-term model of upward thrusting strata via tectonic shifts over longer periods of time (which is the generally-accepted view).

    The problems with your comment 163 are legion, and addressed in the article Aaron Brown linked above. You said you read it, yet you continue to make the same claims that it refuted. For example, the “570 stock cars” issue is really a red herring, because it doesn’t take into account the modern necessity (a federal legal requirement, actually) of taking the animals off the cars once a day to allow them to walk, stretch, and feed. No such opportunity was afforded them on the ark, which leads to a whole host of additional problems.

    In the global flood view, all the animals unique to specific parts of the world (and there are a lot of these) would have to migrate or be carried there. This includes animals that can’t fly or swim, like the kiwi bird in New Zealand. And the duck-billed platypus in Australia (remember, 90% of Australian species are unique to Australia) — with its poisonous bite and freshwater requirement — would be exceedingly difficult to take there.

    And none of this addresses the fossil record which clearly shows ancestors of unique animals living in the same locations as their descendants. If the flood was global, all the “flood laid sediments containing millions of fossils” wouldn’t have moved at all in the year the world was underwater.

    Simply unbelievable.

  166. David B. on February 8, 2006 at 12:22 am

    Reading the comments in this thread was more fun than reading the Sunday comics.

    We need to remember that the purpose of the lesson based upon the scriptural account of Noah and the flood is “To help class members desire to live worthily and avoid the evils of the world.” I suggest that we teach the doctrine as contained in the scriptures and focus on faith promoting gospel principles.

  167. David B. on February 8, 2006 at 12:29 am

    P.S. Julie: Good job!

  168. Rob Osborn on February 8, 2006 at 1:08 am

    Jared,

    The belief that fossils come from different earths in my opinion is quite a stretch really. The main problems being-
    1. Why do a lot of current animals resemble their fore-father fossil remains.
    2. The fossils that exist on the earth were buried in a watery catastrophic event
    3. The massive oil deposits that are a by-product of the fossils carbon would require that the animals at the time of their watery burial were still intact as a living being and over time these completely large groups of buried carbon will turn into an oil reserve. Animals that die in land or on ocean bottons do not leave these oils as they are decomposed by the working elements and other living specimens.

    An interesting case to study would be what science calls living fossils. These are current animals that were thought to have been extinct but then either suddenly appear or are known specimens that are pretty much identical to specimens that were thought to have lived millions of years before.

  169. Rob Osborn on February 8, 2006 at 1:29 am

    Mike,

    Your rules of assumptions do not carry the same requirements of a pre-flood environment as one would have to insist upon. Namely-
    1. The earth as we now know it would have been totally different in both land location, animal location, plant location in the pre-flood world
    2. There were no divisions of land masses in the pre-flood world. All land masses were connected.
    3. Animals specific to certain locations now were probably dispersed there from the Ararat location. We know that when God divided the earth with water in the days of Peleg, that groups like the Jaredites took with them all manner of animals, seeds, and other life sustaining provisions with them- even the honey bee. We could hold out this same assumable logic for plant and animal distributuion in a post flood world. Another reason of logic would be that before the land was divided (about 200-300 years) many animals could have migrated from the arks resting point to many parts of the land. When the Nephites crossed the ocean they did not have to do the same procedure as the Jaredites because the Jaredites had already brought life back into that area of the land and was well established at the later Nephites arrivals.
    4. To say that fossil remains are particular only to the areas where they now live is wrong. In fact most fossils found including plant fossils are usually completely out of place with their current environments.
    5. The physical needs of the animals excersize is an assumption based on theory. Humans which are the most diversified of life have been known to live in extremely tight conditions for very long periods without adequate excersize and diet.

  170. Mike Parker on February 8, 2006 at 11:58 am

    Rob #169: Your five claims are completely without any connection to historical and scientific reality. They are, in fact, a fantasy created to prop up a dogmatic insistence on an inerrant, literal interpretation of the Bible. The cart has been put before the horse.

    We can continue going round and round on this issue, but I think we’ve each said enough to allow others to come to their own conclusions on this issue. I wish you the best.

  171. VeritasLiberat on February 8, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    Just one more comment:

    Matt wrote: “A global flood is a very good way to baptize the earth, and is pretty much the only way I can think of doing it.”

    There IS another way; one that Mormons use in temples every day.

    Baptism by proxy, with a single individual being baptized repeatedly for the sake of many, many people.

    Thus a single part of the earth, innundated by flood, could stand as proxy for the entire earth.

  172. Old Charley on February 8, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    This is a freind of Charley’s, and I don’t have time to go through the whole page, but in my skimming, you made me want to get a couple points here.

    I quote:

    –Good reasons to believe it was localized:
    (1) ‘earth’ in Heb. Also means ‘land’ (cf. Genesis 4:14—Cain wasn’t kicked off the planet!)
    (2) Nibley said that the story was literally true from Noah’s perspective, which explains above data points
    (3) Moses 7:52 makes no sense unless people besides Noah’s lineage survived the flood because Noah is the great-grandson of Enoch
    (4) several ‘parlor tricks’: extraterrestrial water, keeping those animals alive and fed, etc.
    (5) Elder John A. Widstoe (an apostle and a scientist) suggested that a heavy, all-over rain could constitute immersion for purposes of flood and baptism, which suggests a willingness to tweak the story
    (6) this story isn’t mentioned by prophets much at all, and the baptism angle gets very little attention; plus, would it have to be full immersion?
    (7) it agrees with science

    1) I’m not an expert on hebrew, so I won’t argue there
    2 & 5) I’d rather not comment on twisting the words of prophets and apostles. Look where it’s gotten the protestant world. The only thing they come close to agreeing on is Jesus Christ Himself
    3) You are VERY FUNNY! Remember the wives of Noah’s sons? Where do you think they came from? This is for your point. Then, also, if a “remnant” of his seed would exist among all nations, there can be found that remnant if it consists of ONLY his seed (and those of his daughters-in-law). You can’t find any that aren’t!
    4) They were only in the ark 40 days. People can live almost that long without any food, so can animals. It isn’t said that they lived in luxury!
    6) Very few stories get mentioned time after time after time. Jesus Christ was the focus, and His Atonement, not the types for Him, such as the Ark, saving this remnant of the pre-flood people and animals. However, Noah IS mentioned, as is the flood, in the NT

    And Finally, my favorite, 7)Who cares what science has to say? Find me ONE scientist that doesn’t base everything on scientific THEORY. Where does theory come from? From hypotheses that are tested, and SEEM to indicate a specific concept.

    One tip. The scriptures are the WORD OF GOD, they’ve been translated by men, the bible by uninspired men. Cut them a break, translation is not exact. I know bits and pieces of 7 languages, and not one of them translates much of anything directly to English, or vice versa.

    My visit has been fun, I’ll try to visit again eventually, if I can find it again. Keep up the good humor!

  173. Rob Osborn on February 8, 2006 at 5:20 pm

    Mike,

    thaks for not being able to address the 5 points I put out. They are usually what stumps the unbelievers as they try to make reconciliation on science with the bible.

  174. Rob Osborn on February 8, 2006 at 5:23 pm

    A point on Cain,

    Cain was not promised life like the three Nephites or John. He died of old age or some other disaster just like everyone else in their time. The tale of Cain still alive has absolutley no support other than tall tale storytelling.

  175. Mike Parker on February 8, 2006 at 6:48 pm

    Rob #173:

    To clarify: It’s not that I’m not able to address your five points, nor am I “stumped.” Your five points simply represent a paradigm that is disconnected from all known reality, scientific observation, physical law, and logic. So, because your initial assumptions are so different from mine, there’s no point in continuing this any further.

    And I resent you labeling me an “unbeliever.” You need to come to terms with the fact that there are people of faith who simply don’t interpret the scriptures the same narrow-minded way you do.

  176. Mike Parker on February 8, 2006 at 6:53 pm

    Rob #174:

    But President Kimball in The Miracle of Forgiveness repeats the story of Cain wandering the earth and appearing to David W. Patten! And I thought you had encouraged us to have faith the teachings of the prophets…. [g]

  177. Rob Osborn on February 8, 2006 at 8:13 pm

    Mike,

    I am not aware of the teaching that Cain would still be alive. I will have to look into it more.

  178. Mike Parker on February 8, 2006 at 10:32 pm

    Rob #177: See The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 127–28.

    FWIW, I don’t believe the story; it comes third-hand and very late through Abraham Smoot. That means the President Kimball — like all the rest of us Latter-day Saints — had his own personal beliefs, some of which were wrong.

  179. Julie M. Smith on February 8, 2006 at 10:42 pm

    Mike-

    I think it is possible to dismiss the story without dissing Pres. Kimball: all he does with the story is say that it is ‘interesting,’ which is extremely vague. Further, the story itself refers not to Cain but to “a very remarkable person who represented himself as Cain.” Since the being is clearly evil, there’s no reason to assume that that is a truthful statement! I have no idea what Pres. Kimball intended in relating this story, but it is possible that he just meant to suggest that Cain had become the archtype of mortal evil.

    Even if the story did represent Pres. Kimball’s belief, it is, I think we would agree, going way, way too far to suggest that the story proves that Cain didn’t die.

  180. Jack on February 8, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    Listen folks–

    If Cain had, by some miraculous power, the capacity to remain alive for thousands of years, who knows but what he could survive a global flood by virture of that same power. C’mon.

    I’m not expressing an opinion on the flood–only suggesting that Cain’s walking the earth today (however unlikely that may be) is probably irrelavent to determining the magnitude of the deluge.

  181. Tim Cross on February 8, 2006 at 11:38 pm

    I was wondering if the presence of deluge texts from non-biblical and semi-biblical land has any bearing on this discussion. I don’t necessarily think they prove anything, but it is a dynamic part of this discussion that is missing.

    Incidentally, I am also surprised that people have so many firm opinions about a subject that I consider rather unimportant and of which we have such limited information about. I can’t even begin to guess what I really think, and I am not just ignoring the question.

  182. Rob Osborn on February 8, 2006 at 11:43 pm

    ……..As Noah looked out his porthole his worst fears were confirmed, there not 1000 cubits back was the evil Cain trailing in the wake of the ship, and he was gaining ground. Thoughts turned into panic. Suddenly the door was thrust open, “what is it Father” exclaimed Japheth his oldest son. “it’s Cain, he’s trailing in our wake and gaining ground” cried out Father. ” “Should I release the pirahnahs” “No, heavens no we only have a male and female”………..

  183. Mike Parker on February 9, 2006 at 12:04 am

    Julie #179: I’m not “dissing” President (then-Elder) Kimball by any means. His standard for including the story is not the same standard that a historian would have applied.

    Still, I can’t help but wonder if the Cain myth would have been that much more dead if he hadn’t resurrected it in the late 1960s….

  184. Julie M. Smith on February 9, 2006 at 12:11 am

    Oh, Mike, sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that *you* personally were dissing him. But I agree with you that inclusion of the story may have been unwise because of the way so many people choose to interpret it.

  185. Jack on February 10, 2006 at 12:33 am

    “it’s Cain, he’s trailing in our wake and gaining ground.”

    Looking upward as if he could see the breeze Japeth said, “I wonder if he’s using the same wind we’re using?”

  186. Harold B. Curtis on February 10, 2006 at 12:36 am

    My two bits…….

    The stability of the current solar system is a divine anomaly. In times past many things have impacted not only the earth but the solar system environs in general. Such was the case of the flood, the exodus, the earth turning back, and the planet rattling tumult of the crucifixion. We wonder with anxious humility Enoch and his city’s translation and transportation. Of course we can not leave out the “fall”, a condition that altered the very nature of plants, animals, man and earth.

    Such “falling out” will be the case in the future when peace is again taken from the earth and it reels to and fro, the land masses gather together, the seas are moved to the north countries, the ice flows down, the sun is darkened and the moon turned to blood. Alas in that day we will fall up to a better terrestrial atmosphere, breathed by those who quantify themselves by Quantum righteousness. But before that, fire.

    In short hang on to your toenails folks, in a day not distant ones tattoos, crisping pins, and personal perforations will not mean much but a white shirt and tie may be what rescuing angels are looking for.

    In the meantime we know so little about the early history of man and the planet upon which man walks. Perhaps the terror of what transpired before is sketchy for a reason. The thought of millions of bodies floating on a raging sea is not pleasant to contemplate, a merciful God sparing us the details of it all, for now. Indeed it is the same merciful God who allowed the flood to happen in the first place.

    Well I could say much more but for now I toss my two cents into the fountain of knowledge and hope it brings me good luck.

    Oh yes, Noah died in the year of the earths existence from the fall 2006. Four thousand years later it is 2006 again. Shouldn’t we have a memorial or something for him?

    Harold B. Curtis

  187. Christina Sheldon on February 11, 2006 at 2:49 am

    Jack #185: Inconceivable!

    And to the rest of you: You really need to get out more! I hate to call what you’re doing a waste of time, but if the shoe fits… I can’t believe I wasted my time reading this dribble. As a new GD teacher, I thought I’d check out what’s available, but really, you people go way overboard! There is so much more to life! Get out there a do something CONSTRUCTIVE! (My personal favorite is humanitarian service projects) Use your time WISELY!

  188. Kaimi Wenger on February 11, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    Christina,

    “Use your time wisely” and “get out more” from a person who drops drive-by comments that insult every other commenter in a long blog thread?

    Look in the mirror as you say it, sweetheart.

  189. Kathy Jackson on February 12, 2006 at 4:49 am

    #187: I do not think that word means what you think it means.:-) (there is probably an alternate translation somewhere)

    Wow! I have actually finished most of this extremely long thread. I’ll admit I skipped some by the end. Much more interesting than late night TV.

    Thank you Julie for your notes. I especially liked the part about the number symbolism. As for the number 40, I remember hearing in an institute class that it represented a life cycle (hence, the children of Isreal were in the wilderness for a life cycle). I can’t cite anything on that, so it’s just heresay (or heresy–those words are so alike:-)) It would be an appropriate interpretation here too, as God was wiping out all life (or whatever you’d like to interpret as “all life” I am sooo staying out of that one).

    The thread was very educational in a number of ways. You people have really put a lot of thought and study into this and the information shared was very interesting for my own personal knowledge. Not knowing Hebrew, it is always interesting to hear alternate meanings for words and the new perspectives they can give. But most importantly respecting my lesson tomorrow, I learned that, after seeing the reactions here, and knowing my class as I do, I think I will refrain from bringing up the whole local/global issue at all. In fact, if anyone brings it up in discussion, I may have to invite them to leave the room :-). It apparently evokes so much passionate debate, we may never get on to anything else! :-)

    My father was like that about the Adam and Eve account. It got so I would cringe every time anyone brought it up. It was like an initiation for my friends and boyfriends. Once they got the Adam and Eve lecture they were “family.”

    But again, it is much more intertaining than late night TV. I am amazed at how passionate people are about these OT stories, perhaps because they have been around for so long and are so universally known that everyone has an opinion? Do people get this worked up about the Book of Mormon too?

  190. Julie M. Smith on February 12, 2006 at 9:14 am

    “But most importantly respecting my lesson tomorrow, I learned that, after seeing the reactions here, and knowing my class as I do, I think I will refrain from bringing up the whole local/global issue at all.”

    Good has been done here.