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mikbone

Figurative vs Literal

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Is it ok to believe that the Fall of Adam or that the Book of Mormon narratives are just stories that God has revealed or should we perceive these accounts as actual events that occurred to real people? And does it matter?

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I personally don't believe that Adam and Eve existed as described in the scriptures.  I'm more inclined to believe that "Adam and Eve" were the humans chosen at the time that the species had evolved sufficiently both biologically and cognitively that the Lord chose to reveal himself to them and start the clock on human accountability.  For me, it follow then that there was no Tree of Life nor a Tree of Knowledge, and that those are constructs used to teach principles.  

I'm on the fence about the Book of Mormon as a literal history. I don't think there's sufficient evidence to make a conclusion either way. I doubt the Book of Mormon was what some early Church leaders understood it to be (a record of the principal ancestors of the Americas), preferring the narrative that the American continents were populated by other peoples than just the Nephites, Lamanites, and Jaredites.

If it is a literal history, I still assume it has some heavy biases. That doesn't mean it wasn't inspired, but much like Biblical authors had biases and viewpoints that leaked into their writing, Nephi, Mormon, Alma, and others likely had biases and opinions that leak through into their writing. 

Does it matter?  Not really. If you believe in God and Jesus Christ, Adam and Eve being the first humans or Adam and Eve being the first human to whom God revealed himself is kind of irrelevant. The principles that follow are the same.  Similarly for the Book of Mormon--if you believe it is a message from God, whether it is allegory, history, or something in between is irrelevant.

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1 hour ago, mikbone said:

Is it ok to believe that the Fall of Adam or that the Book of Mormon narratives are just stories that God has revealed or should we perceive these accounts as actual events that occurred to real people? And does it matter?

Adam and Eve: we know that aspects of this story are figurative, but we also know that there was/is a literal daughter & son of God with the names Adam & Eve.  Honestly, I don't think it particularly matters where how much you find any particular aspects is figurative versus literal -- the big point is to testify of Christ.  There's lots of parts I'm personally in the "I don't know and I don't care" camp.  I can also give my my passionate speech about how I do believe in creation AND evolution and how they are not opposed to each other.  

Scriptures being literal (because the question applies to *all* scriptures): ok, this is actually the same answer as above.   

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1 hour ago, mikbone said:

Is it ok to believe that the Fall of Adam or that the Book of Mormon narratives are just stories that God has revealed or should we perceive these accounts as actual events that occurred to real people? And does it matter?

Yes you can believe that, but don’t cry it from the roof tops as if it were true. Don’t turn it into a “gospel hobby” where you become obsessed with sharing it with people and finding other scriptural stories and demand they be accepted as figurative too...

I would argue however that there is some impressive revelatory evidence from apostles and prophets that says the Book of Mormon is literal. But will being wrong in this matter effect your salvation? Perhaps...

Edited by Fether

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1 hour ago, mikbone said:

Is it ok to believe that the Fall of Adam or that the Book of Mormon narratives are just stories that God has revealed or should we perceive these accounts as actual events that occurred to real people? And does it matter?

I think it depends on where you are and what you are doing. Language by nature is figurative in that it offers only a good-faith description of actual events past, present or future. Language and symbols also offer good-faith descriptions of eternal principles through parable and fiction. Belief is required to apply the meaning of either to one's life. Given that one man's story is another man's reality, only God can judge the bearer of belief in either.

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I did some more pondering on the topic and I think their is a problem with believing the Book of Mormon is a figurative and fictional book. The intro to the Book of Mormon says the Lamanites are among the ancestors of the native Americans and there are multiple church supported sources where they speak of the evidence for the Book of Mormon.

Believing that the Book of Mormon is figurative is not the problem, but believing you know better than the church in any matter seems to me to be sowing the seeds of apostasy in your own life.

When times goes on and the church does something you disagree with, you can then point to the matter of the reality/figurativity of the Book of Mormon as proof that the church isn’t always right and further separate yourself from church’s teachings. Apostasy doesn’t happen all at once, but little by little.

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1 minute ago, Fether said:

I did some more pondering on the topic and I think their is a problem with believing the Book of Mormon is a figurative and fictional book. The intro to the Book of Mormon says the Lamanites are among the ancestors of the native Americans and there are multiple church supported sources where they speak of the evidence for the Book of Mormon.

Believing that the Book of Mormon is figurative is not the problem, but believing you know better than the church in any matter seems to me to be sowing the seeds of apostasy in your own life.

When times goes on and the church does something you disagree with, you can then point to the matter of the reality/figurativity of the Book of Mormon as proof that the church isn’t always right and further separate yourself from church’s teachings. Apostasy doesn’t happen all at once, but little by little.

Hmmm....not so sure.  The 1981 introduction to the Book of Mormon stated "the Lamanites are the principal ancestors of the American Indians."  That has since been scaled back to "are among the ancestors of the American Indians."

If I had said, "I don't believe the Lamanites are the principal ancestors of the American Indians" in 1982, would you say I had been sowing the seeds of apostasy in my own life?

I get where you're coming from with the slippery slope argument here.  But realistically speaking, the Church has published and propagated theories and teachings that haven't held up to scrutiny. Having established that such mistakes and misinterpretations are possible, the door is already open to questioning what other mistakes and misinterpretations are waiting to be discovered.

Some people don't want to explore those questions, and that's fine.  Still, there are people that do want and/or feel compelled to explore those questions. For those people, telling them they shouldn't is counterproductive.  It's a lot better to teach them how to explore those questions in a way that can still build faith in Christ, even if the evidence leads them to conclusions you disagree with.

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3 hours ago, mikbone said:

Is it ok to believe that the Fall of Adam or that the Book of Mormon narratives are just stories that God has revealed or should we perceive these accounts as actual events that occurred to real people? And does it matter?

There has long been a debate over what is the greater truth - What is or what is perceived.  Most would argue that what is - is the greater truth.  But it is not difficult to argue that unless what is - is perceived we cannot act upon it.  The real challenge that everyone must face is how useful and beneficial is the information that they are perceiving. 

The question in the op is a little misleading - at least to me.  This is because the phrase "just stories" carries a connotation that the information is not universally applicable and realistically useable.  I have attempted to insert the notion that there is no line between historical truths and historical lies but rather a spectrum. Let me give one example with the character Job that is given by revelation is scripture.  From the structure of the op - does it matter if there was someone named Job?  Is it possible that Job is a symbolic reference to all saints in all dispensations?  What carries more weight of truth that is applicable, realistic and useable?  If in all of the history of mankind that was one and only one unique individual named Job that experienced the epoch as accounted in scripture.  Of if the epoch of Job is symbolic of truths applicable to each person that believes in and is loyal to G-d?

I would suggest that regardless of how historically accurate any information is - unless it can be applied to solve current problems, the information just as well be a lie.  And so the idea of what is truth and what is a lie becomes a very interesting conundrum. We are to understand that Satan is a lier and there is no truth in him (the symbolism is light verses darkness or day versus night) - and yet we recognize that many things that Satan speaks as recorded in scripture is applicable, realistic truths that when properly perceived is useful to us - or why else would G-d cause such to be recorded in scripture?

But there is another dimension or caveat to what is truth and what is a lie that has to do with the Holy Ghost.  I have the impression that anything one perceives on their own is flawed and a lie.  Only that which is perceived through the assistance of the Holy Ghost is applicable, realistic, usable truth.

Back to the question about the Book of Mormon.  It is my opinion that the characters in the Book of Mormon are specific individuals that existed in some place and time.  I believe the information in the Book of Mormon to be historically accurate - meaning applicable, realistic and useful in describing the journey of Lehi through the Arabian peninsula but once the journey goes to the seas and comes to the Americas I have not found sufficient historical information to pinpoint the locations of the Nephits here in the Americas.  Since I cannot use the information to find the historical places - I cannot testify to the historical usefulness of the Book of Mormon geographical setting of the Americas.  But I can give witness that the Book of Mormon contains applicable, useful truths that I (or anyone else) can apply and use to discern (through the Holy Ghost) truths concerning religious things that must be resolved to understand G-d and his works concerning his covenant people currently living on this planet.  Without the understanding of the Book of Mormon by the power of the Holy Ghost - no one living today will be able to find and embrace the restoration of the laws, ordinances and covenants G-d has brought in preparation for the return of Christ.

 

The Traveler

Edited by Traveler

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An interesting question. I expect that I am on the path towards something like Moe's viewpoint. Until I get there:

One of the most contentious issues I see is the issues of a literal Adam and Eve (and no death before the fall and other cosmological questions). I have seen it suggested that a big reason Joseph Fielding Smith adopted young earth creationism and defended it so vigorously was this specific issue -- can you read the Bible as something less than literal history. He seemed to believe that anything less than literal history was an offense against scripture, so he taught young earth creationism. For whatever reason, the Church's response (members and curriculum writers, but not necessarily the official official position) was to adopt creationism as the semi-official position of the Church. We waffled a bit on young versus old, but we were decidedly creationists (but never quite officially).

Donald Parry, in his Ensign article in the late '90's about Noah's flood, asserts that Mormons are among the few who take the Bible literally -- including a belief in a literal, global flood exactly as the Bible describes, with no room for a "local flood" theory or even an allegorical reading.

As to the Book of Mormon, we have long adopted a kind of "all or nothing" approach to the Book of Mormon -- and Elder Callister's recent book doubles down on the idea. Either it is all true (including historically accurate) and therefore proof of the restoration, or it is all false and the entirety of our restoration narrative from Joseph Smith to Russel M Nelson is fraudulent.

All to say that we have a history of insisting on literal readings of scripture -- more literal than I am comfortable with (but I'm just some internet nobody, so who cares what I think, right?). A few years ago, I started this thread asking what parts of ancient scripture must be historical and what can I tolerate as fictional/allegorical/less than history. At the time, I concluded (and mostly still agree) that the only thing I really need to be historical is about Christ and His atonement. I'm not too worried about whether He died on a cross or a pole (as the Jehovah's Witnesses like to argue) or whether he actually spoke to a woman at the well or not, or whether he was born in the spring, fall, or winter, or any of the details described by the evangelists. Something about him allowed him suffer and die to provide a substitiary atonement for me (and the rest of you, I suppose), and be raised from the dead (whether a part of three separate calendar days or 72 hours or some other time after, I don't care) so that I will also be raised to live with God and Christ again. I think I can tolerate a lot of ancient scripture being fictional/allegorical/ahistorical as long as that doesn't change. I think I can even tolerate less than literal historical readings of modern scripture. If I learn that details of Joseph Smith's First vision are not exactly as they are described in the 1838 account as canonized in the PoGP, I think I can be okay with that. If something about the way polygamy was taught and practiced under Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and on to Wilford Woodruff (and after) was not exactly how God intended to reveal it, I think I can accept that, too. If the Book of Mormon proves to be less than a history of actual people in this hemisphere, maybe I can be okay with that without losing all belief in the Restoration.

Are these important questions? Like MoE, I'd like to say that they are not important. However, it seems to me that we frequently inflate their importance. Because of the theological relationship we usually draw between fall and atonement, many will argue that anything less than a literal, historical, physical interpretation of the accounts of Adam and Eve destroys the entire Christian narrative (more of that all or nothing thinking). Because of the importance of Joseph Smith to our restoration narrative, anything less than perfect, historical accuracy in his accounts of the restoration events and his understanding of what the Book of Mormon is destroys the entire restoration. Any chink in the "all or nothing" armor shatters the entire LDS paradigm. I sometimes think the importance of the literal versus figurative is in how it encourages and/or discourages people to remain as active participants in the Church. Perhaps this puts me in opposition to Fether's argument that figurative/ahistorical readings are a step on the road to apostasy, but I sometimes wonder if some of those who leave the Church would have stayed if there was more open tolerance for these figurative/ahistorical readings of scripture. That might be the real importance, in my opinion, for this discussion. How does the debate over literal vs. figurative figure into whether some accept or reject -- stay or leave -- the Church.

 

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43 minutes ago, MarginOfError said:

Hmmm....not so sure.  The 1981 introduction to the Book of Mormon stated "the Lamanites are the principal ancestors of the American Indians."  That has since been scaled back to "are among the ancestors of the American Indians."

If I had said, "I don't believe the Lamanites are the principal ancestors of the American Indians" in 1982, would you say I had been sowing the seeds of apostasy in my own life?

I get where you're coming from with the slippery slope argument here.  But realistically speaking, the Church has published and propagated theories and teachings that haven't held up to scrutiny. Having established that such mistakes and misinterpretations are possible, the door is already open to questioning what other mistakes and misinterpretations are waiting to be discovered.

Some people don't want to explore those questions, and that's fine.  Still, there are people that do want and/or feel compelled to explore those questions. For those people, telling them they shouldn't is counterproductive.  It's a lot better to teach them how to explore those questions in a way that can still build faith in Christ, even if the evidence leads them to conclusions you disagree with.

I am fully aware of the change in the Book of Mormon intro as well as other “shifts” that have been made.

The problem isn't that the church may be wrong or that changes come and go at times, the problem is thinking you know better than the church.

That attitude is the problem. I don’t know how someone can have disagree with church teachings and not cultivate that thinking in their life.

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1 hour ago, MarginOfError said:

Hmmm....not so sure.  The 1981 introduction to the Book of Mormon stated "the Lamanites are the principal ancestors of the American Indians."  That has since been scaled back to "are among the ancestors of the American Indians."

If I had said, "I don't believe the Lamanites are the principal ancestors of the American Indians" in 1982, would you say I had been sowing the seeds of apostasy in my own life?

This particular example isn't really a very good one. What does it mean to be "the principal ancestor"? Does it mean that a plurality of your genetic inheritance derives from that source? Or does it mean simply that, for the purposes of your conversation, that's your most important and relevant ancestor? I think it's perfectly accurate to argue that the Lehite party constitutes the principal ancestry of the American Indians, even if the actual genetic inheritance is extremely small (as appears to be the case).

As a general rule that I think holds true 99% of the time, it's counterproductive to find fault with the Church or its leaders, even when you think you're right—even when you really are right. The truths of the gospel are far more important, now and in the eternities, than the fact that Joseph or Brigham or Russell were and are imperfect men who made and make mistakes.

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I personally take the Bible and Book of Mormon as being literal.

I also know that we can show that they could not possibly have occurred with our current historical, geological, archeological, and other records in the secular world.

How do I sync up these two views?

I don't, I simply hold them as separate portions of my life.

There ARE gaps in the genetic records and other areas which I feel will change as time passes (and have already changed during my lifetime in how we understand it).

A prime example is DNA and the origins of people.  To determine where the origins of people come from, in many instances, relies on CURRENT DNA relations.  In otherwords, those from the Middle East and especially Palestine is based more on the genetic makeup of those who reside there now, rather than who actually lived there 2000 or 3000 years ago.  This is because...for no surprise to anyone...we have a massive lack of DNA from those time periods.  We have some testing, but overall, there is more DNA matching with current DNA than old DNA in recourse of determining the origins of individuals.

With that view, and seeing that Jew is short of those who are part of the tribe of Judah, and the ten tribes are actually seen as LOST...how does one actually KNOW what the DNA of the lost ten tribes IS?  What were they?

Could it be the same as the Jews and those who have origins in the Middle East today or at least Palestine?  That's the supposition.

Is it a correct one?

I don't know.  We'd at least suppose they had a common ancestor within the past 10,000 years, but honestly, as those tribes are supposedly lost...I'd say...we don't know.

Even as we can show what we feel occurred in the world with our scientific records and other items from the past, those who think we have a PERFECT knowledge of it all are just fooling themselves.

Things will continue to change as our understanding increases.  Whether that shows things from the Book of Mormon or Bible have any accuracy at all, or continue to show a greater deviation in the actual history is something I cannot foretell. 

However, overall, I simply separate my religious beliefs from my secular ideas and thoughts in many instances.

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A main reason I don't mind living in real present day life, is because I can pull principles and figurative knowledge out of it.  And out of you people.  

Other than that, I don't really care if you people are figurative or literal.

(I'm joking, but not 100% joking. :) )

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Reason I ask this question:  A returned missionary that is currently studying at BYU came over to the house and was discussing his beliefs about evolution and archaeology and because these sciences don't support a record of Adam and Eve nor the peoples of the Book of Mormon in the Americas - he rationalized that the stories must be figurative.  

For him science is stronger than revelation.

I happen to believe that revelation is much more solid than our current understanding of science.

I believe in a literal Adam and Eve and the fall just as described in the Scriptures.  Just like Jeffery R. Holland; Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet. April 2015

Quote

In our increasingly secular society, it is as uncommon as it is unfashionable to speak of Adam and Eve or the Garden of Eden or of a “fortunate fall” into mortality. Nevertheless, the simple truth is that we cannot fully comprehend the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ and we will not adequately appreciate the unique purpose of His birth or His death—in other words, there is no way to truly celebrate Christmas or Easter—without understanding that there was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it.  I do not know the details of what happened on this planet before that, but I do know these two were created under the divine hand of God, that for a time they lived alone in a paradisiacal setting where there was neither human death nor future family, and that through a sequence of choices they transgressed a commandment of God which required that they leave their garden setting but which allowed them to have children before facing physical death.

 

I also believe the Book of Mormon as a literal historical account.  The angel Moroni who wrote the majority of the book instructed Joseph Smith personally.  

 

I think that some of the instruction that students are getting at BYU (as well as the remainder of 'Higher Education') is questionable. 

 

We don't know as much as we think we do.  There is a God and He is infinitely more intelligent than any University Professor.  

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Viewing the Book of Mormon (as a whole) as inspired non-history is problematic because of the tangible physical way it was revealed. As I've written elsewhere:

On 8/11/2016 at 4:26 PM, mordorbund said:

The challenge with a non-historical Book of Mormon is that Joseph had the plates. 3 witnesses were shown the plates by an angel and had the voice of God testify it was true. 8 witnesses received a secular testimony with no angel or voice of God, but still leafed through the plates.

Joseph made a claim that he translated the plates. God was very clever and backed up Joseph's account with additional secular and spiritual witnesses to appeal to both camps.

So perhaps there were plates but Joseph made up the translation - but then we have the angel showing the plates and the voice of God confirming its truth. So I'm compelled to turn to the supernatural to explain it. God or the devil. If the devil, then the book is not what it purports to be (another testimony of Christ) and I have no problems with it being non-historical.

If it is from God though, then we have God creating a set of plates to convince 12 people that this is the real deal. That's highly suspect. Or the plates were real enough, but Mormon and Moroni made up a great story and God then preserved the plates with the false narrative and gave power to Joseph to translate it. My credulity is straining.

I feel compelled to accept the book for what it claims to be - a record of a fallen civilization that historically existed, as compiled by prophets.

 

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5 hours ago, mikbone said:

Is it ok to believe that the Fall of Adam or that the Book of Mormon narratives are just stories that God has revealed

"OK" in the sense that you're allowed to believe it? Sure. "OK" in the sense that it's a true belief? No. "OK" in the sense that you can believe that and still inherit eternal life? No, not in the long sense, though in the immediate short term you believe all sorts of false things that eventually you will have to give up believing if you are to gain exaltation. So you might be able to get away with disbelieving gospel doctrine or scriptures for a while. But you will eventually have to gain an understanding through faith of such things. You cannot remain a child forever and hope to gain what the Father offers.

5 hours ago, mikbone said:

And does it matter?

In the long term, absolutely it matters. In the short term, it probably matters, but people's understanding and testimony are at different levels. We don't discard the spiritually immature, or else none would be exalted.

Humility is perhaps a more important principle than dogged belief. At some point, you need to make a stand and defend that; that point is when the Spirit testifies to you. But until that point, humbly acknowledging your own fallible understanding, at least to yourself, is always a good thing.

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Specifics are also important. For example, it may be easy to believe in an actual Jesus but not an actual Adam… but are not the persons as real as the events and conditions the prophets attribute to them? Also, why are we sealed to Jesus spiritually through Adam (i.e. exalted as families and not as individuals), if the physical mortal genealogy of our human race, including Jesus’ through Mary, is not as real?

As Joseph Smith wrote (D&C 131:7-8), “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.” We may perceive matter at a quantum level as "just" force fields that give rise to events through their interactions at successive levels, and in opposition to that, result in the absence of time on other levels. Theoretically. 😊 It is a matter of where we stand and our reckoning.

So to paraphrase, “all testimony is event, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer spirits; We cannot see it; but when our spirits are purified we shall see that it all took place with the respective actors.”

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1 hour ago, mikbone said:

Reason I ask this question:  A returned missionary that is currently studying at BYU came over to the house and was discussing his beliefs about evolution and archaeology and because these sciences don't support a record of Adam and Eve nor the peoples of the Book of Mormon in the Americas - he rationalized that the stories must be figurative.  

For him science is stronger than revelation.

It really doesn't have to be a believe one or the other, there are views where both is believed.  

For example: I believe in the Creation.  I also believe in evolution.  Evolution being the methodology God --- whom uses natural tools and does great things by small things --- created the world, including the world we live in.

Us knowing a tiny bit about how God works His wonders doesn't make the work any less wonderful.  It just means our knowledge is growing.  

1 hour ago, mikbone said:

I think that some of the instruction that students are getting at BYU (as well as the remainder of 'Higher Education') is questionable. 

The BYU evolution course specifically covers how this is NOT a conflict at all.  I don't know the specifics of what's going on with your undergrad friend (maybe he didn't pay attention), but this topic is specifically covered.

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I am reminded of something Dr. Henry Eyring said (quoting from Dan Peterson's blog -- not original sources https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2019/08/henry-eyring.html

Quote

Still, he recognized that there are “those who find themselves troubled by an inner conflict between the traditional teachings of the Christian faith on the one hand, and on the other the challenge of modern education to explore, to dissect and to test in the cold light of fact and demonstrated proof.

“I believe,” he continued, “that many of our young people have impoverished their lives by a thoughtless denial of all aspects of the faith of their fathers in their desire to be what they call scientific and objective.”

But the blame was shared. “I am also of the opinion that some theologians have unwittingly assisted in this rebellion by taking positions so dogmatic as to stifle the honest and thoughtful inquiries of youth when they needed help and sought it.” However, he insisted, “In this church, you only have to believe the truth. Find out what the truth is!” said Eyring, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 

I tend to agree with Dr. Eyring. Yes, some have accepted scientific claims so dogmatically as to limit their spiritual growth. It also seems to me that some religionists -- including some of our apostles and prophets -- have been so dogmatic about their private interpretation of scripture as to limit our ability to discover the real truth. I'm not sure which side of this coin I fall on. Ultimately, I like Dr. Eyring's conclusion. I don't have to believe anything that is not true. I'm not sure if or how I will always, infallibly know what is true and what is not true -- as Vort says, this is where enough humility to accept that I don't really know the final answers.

Edited by MrShorty
Attempting to take my statement out of the block quote, but can't seem to do it. Finally got it!

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Adam and Eve were real people. The fall took place, and was a necessary event. The stories in the Book of Mormon really happened, as did those in the Bible..as far as they are translated correctly. It matters very much as these accounts were not recorded at large for people during those times, but for our benefit in this day and age.

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1 hour ago, mikbone said:

Reason I ask this question:  A returned missionary that is currently studying at BYU came over to the house and was discussing his beliefs about evolution and archaeology and because these sciences don't support a record of Adam and Eve nor the peoples of the Book of Mormon in the Americas - he rationalized that the stories must be figurative.  

For him science is stronger than revelation.

I think his problem is that there are many kinds of science, and they should be integrated before closing one's mind against a religious view (tall order), and then, according to he mission of BYU, intelligently integrated with and by the power of study, faith, revelation, the Spirit, etc.

I think God designs laws, both spiritual and natural, by manipulating forces and their fields, which are actually refined matter (as I alluded to in a post above) interacting with other refined matter in various combinations (D&C 131:7-8).

The finer and purer God can see, the finer and purer are the laws He constructs commensurate with the kingdom He is organizing, influencing and governing: “All kingdoms have a law given; And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom. And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.” (D&C 88:36-38). We are in a kingdom of randomness and chaos by virtue of the Fall; Paradise was organized out of yet other unorganized kingdoms of randomness and chaos. Evolution as we see it may well be a co-existing, but not the same, process to those God used to organize Adam and Eve.

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3 hours ago, CV75 said:

I think God designs laws, both spiritual and natural, by manipulating forces and their fields, which are actually refined matter (as I alluded to in a post above) interacting with other refined matter in various combinations (D&C 131:7-8).

According to science there are two kinds of fundamental matter - fermions and bosons.  Without going int to detail considering quantum particle spin, I would just say that bosons have a tendency to behave a lot like what we think is "spiritual" and fermions have all the qualities that we traditionally think of as "physical" stuff.  Most of what we think of as matter is really composite and a combination of fermions and bosons that have the charistic of half integer spin so we call the particular composite a fermion - which has mass.  But it is interesting that mass is defined by a boson particle called the Higgs Boson that itself has no mass - and cannot have mass. 

But at least 95% of the universe that we are aware of that exists is what we call Dark Matter, Dark Energy and Dark Radiation.  What we do not know is if all this dark stuff are bosons, fermions or something else that we do not understand or know anything about - yet.  It is interesting to me that this dark stuff was defined during my lifetime.   Under Newtonian physics there was no definition of boson particles.  So in the day of Joseph Smith, even if spirit matter are bosons Joseph could not have said that spirit matter are bosons - it would not have been meaningful and no one in his day could see or sense a boson.  Or we could go one step more and wonder about Dark Matter, Dark Energy and Dark Radiation and the possibility that such stuff is ill named and is better understood as Light Matter, Light Energy and Light Radiation - just not electromagnetic light with alternating magnetic and electrical dipoles. 

Do I know what spirit matter is.  No I am speculating.

But I would also address the idea that G-d designs physical and spiritual laws.  It is not that I disagree because I do not know the better - but I am inclined that such physical and spiritual laws are independent of G-d and would exist, if it was possible, outside of that which G-d designs.  But I agree that G-d is an engineer and uses the physical and spiritual laws to order his kingdom - both concerning that which is physical and that which is spiritual. 

 

The Traveler

Edited by Traveler

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3 hours ago, Traveler said:

According to science there are two kinds of fundamental matter - fermions and bosons.  Without going int to detail considering quantum particle spin, I would just say that bosons have a tendency to behave a lot like what we think is "spiritual" and fermions have all the qualities that we traditionally think of as "physical" stuff.  Most of what we think of as matter is really composite and a combination of fermions and bosons that have the charistic of half integer spin so we call the particular composite a fermion - which has mass.  But it is interesting that mass is defined by a boson particle called the Higgs Boson that itself has no mass - and cannot have mass. 

But at least 95% of the universe that we are aware of that exists is what we call Dark Matter, Dark Energy and Dark Radiation.  What we do not know is if all this dark stuff are bosons, fermions or something else that we do not understand or know anything about - yet.  It is interesting to me that this dark stuff was defined during my lifetime.   Under Newtonian physics there was no definition of boson particles.  So in the day of Joseph Smith, even if spirit matter are bosons Joseph could not have said that spirit matter are bosons - it would not have been meaningful and no one in his day could see or sense a boson.  Or we could go one step more and wonder about Dark Matter, Dark Energy and Dark Radiation and the possibility that such stuff is ill named and is better understood as Light Matter, Light Energy and Light Radiation - just not electromagnetic light with alternating magnetic and electrical dipoles. 

Do I know what spirit matter is.  No I am speculating.

But I would also address the idea that G-d designs physical and spiritual laws.  It is not that I disagree because I do not know the better - but I am inclined that such physical and spiritual laws are independent of G-d and would exist, if it was possible, outside of that which G-d designs.  But I agree that G-d is an engineer and uses the physical and spiritual laws to order his kingdom - both concerning that which is physical and that which is spiritual. 

 

The Traveler

You are describing the observations of one branch of one kind of science (particle physics). I was describing another (theoretical physics) which uses mathematical models to reconcile gaps and contradictions in our understanding particle and other kinds of physics experimental results. This is why I mentioned having to integrate many kinds of science (blind men and the elephant) before using them to base negative conclusions about religious and spiritual phenomena.

Joseph Smith taught eternal principles which are the basis for everything else, spiritual and physical, eternal and temporal, scientific and prophetic.

My remark about God seeing and using infinitesimally fine and pure matter came from conversations with others who assert that He is subject to and obeys natural laws. According to theoretical physics, forces and fields are things, even laws (extremely fine and pure matter, element, light, etc.). The definition of existence in D&C 93 does not permit things to act on God, or independently of the sphere in which He has placed them to act, and which spheres His light enters and governs.

“All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.” (D&C 93:30). “Existence” is the confluence of forces and fields that are organized into the laws operating in their respective kingdoms. These organized forces, fields and law act for themselves as defined (or “named”—an eternal principle of stewardship taught to Adam in naming the animals) and acted upon by God, can be discerned only by the like intelligences God has organized (His children), who act by agency. (Abraham 3:21-22).

My effort here is not to posit anything with certitude, but to demonstrate that the more we know, the more we know we don’t know. It was once explained to me as the surface of an expanding balloon: the boundary between what we know and don’t know continually expands. A disciple cultivates the discipline to integrate all the forms of good-faith learning, preventing the faith crisis described by the biology student.

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On 9/6/2019 at 7:43 AM, mikbone said:

Is it ok to believe that the Fall of Adam or that the Book of Mormon narratives are just stories that God has revealed or should we perceive these accounts as actual events that occurred to real people? And does it matter?

This incongruous idea of a Book of Mormon that presents itself in a most solemn and unmistakable manner as a true history of a real people, and most solemnly attested to be a real history in no less than the sacred name of Jesus Christ, is a perfect example of how Satan can carefully and cunningly lead the Church of God Into a state apostasy. It’s all so diabolically clever because it’s a strategy to seed the Church with unbelieving but still participating members of record who, if  they are not open and transparent about the state of their unbelief (at very least with their bishops), could end up masquerading as testimony bearing members of the Church. This, in turn, could create a detrimental atmosphere of dishonesty and deception that would no doubt hinder a fuller presence of the Spirit of truth and light.

Even worse, if such unbelievers developed a proselyting spirit that seeks to gain “converts” to their way of thinking. they may be numbered among those ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing so often warned of in the scriptures. Such people might also serve in the role of “sleeper agents” who could significantly undermine the the Church at a time of crisis when the testimonies of the saints need to be strengthened. 

I can almost imagine the Adversary and his generals gathered for a strategy session as one of them speaks up and says, “I’ve got a better idea... Instead of destroying the testimonies of the Latter-Day Saints so that they leave Church and harass it from without, better yet, let’s destroy their testimonies and find a way to keep them in the Church where they’ll be in a much better positions to do significant  harm.”

On the flip side, I do acknowledge that for the more sincere and humble among the “Book of Mormon as fantasy” crowd, it may be better for them to remain in the Church where there’s a better chance to regain their weakened testimonies.

Edited by Jersey Boy

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2 minutes ago, Jersey Boy said:

This incongruous idea of a Book of Mormon that presents itself in a most solemn and unmistakable manner as a true history of a real people, and most solemnly attested to as a real history in no less than the sacred name of Jesus Christ, is a perfect example of how Satan can carefully and cunningly lead the Church of God Into a state apostasy.

As we saw starting thirty or so years ago with the then-RLDS Church (now the Community of Christ).

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