Biblical Literalism

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.

Do you believe in a literal Adam and Eve, and a Global Flood?

yes
0
No votes
no
14
93%
Not sure
1
7%
 
Total votes: 15

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gospeltangents
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Biblical Literalism

Post by gospeltangents » 27 Aug 2017, 19:49

There was a new post today at Wheat and Tares on Biblical Literalism. You can check it out, but I thought it would be interesting to post here as well. https://wheatandtares.org/2017/08/27/bi ... iteralism/
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Re: Biblical Literalism

Post by Curt Sunshine » 28 Aug 2017, 04:29

I am open to the idea of a first "man" and "woman" into whom God placed spirits at some point, born through an evolutionary process, but I don't believe the Garden of Eden narrative is literal history in any way.

I believe a catastrophic flood destroyed the entire Earth that was known to the ancestors of the people who complied the Old Testament - or that they borrowed a catastrophic flood narrative from another group, since such flood narratives are quite common among multiple ancient peoples.
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Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

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Re: Biblical Literalism

Post by DoubtingTom » 28 Aug 2017, 05:59

Ray, in your view of a first man and woman that received spirits, where in time would you place them? I used to entertain this notion, but ultimately had to abandon it for several reasons.

First, the genetic diversity present in humans is much too diverse to have come from a common set of ancestors within the last 10 or even 20 thousand years. I think you'd have to go back hundreds of thousands for that to even be possible which doesn't mesh with Adam and Eve doctrines. And the "genetic Adam" is not even the same time frame as the "genetic Eve." (You can look those up on wikipedia)

Second, all evolution evidence shows humans evolved and developed in parallel across all continents. So where does this spirit theory leave ancient native americans who were already on this continent 20,000 years ago? Did they just not have spirits?

Third, all the other events surrounding the creation narrative just seems too much like myth to me to take literally. The garden of Eden, no death before the fall, an actual fall from an immortal state, etc. So if I'm rejecting all of that as literal, why hold on to this notion of a literal Adam and Eve?

So for me personally, I have had to reject even the idea that humans evolved with God's hand and then at some point he put spirits in Adam and Eve, our first parents. Just too many problems for me. How do you make it work for you?

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Re: Biblical Literalism

Post by dande48 » 28 Aug 2017, 11:25

I put "no", but I really wish Adam and Eve were seperated from the Global Flood. I just believe it happened around 2.5 Billion years ago, instead of the 4,000-5,00 years ago claimed by the bible, and lasted a lot longer than 40 days.

It's pretty obvious that there were creatures who walked this earth, related to man, but of a different species who used tools, wore clothing, performed religious rites, held hands with their children, took care of the sick and wounded, and buried their dead. I can't rule them out as our equal brothers and sisters, children of God.
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Re: Biblical Literalism

Post by Beefster » 28 Aug 2017, 17:42

No.

I suspect there were details here and there with some literal truth to them (Adam was the first prophet, the Garden of Eden was a real place, Noah was a prophet among some really wicked people), but it was mostly metaphorical. I see the Garden of Eden as symbolic for childhood, the forbidden fruit as accountability, the flood as baptism, etc...

It's far easier to reconcile everything this way. Our entire species coming out of 2 or 8 people is genetically impossible.
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Re: Biblical Literalism

Post by Curt Sunshine » 28 Aug 2017, 20:18

Doubting Tom, I am open completely to the idea of human ancestors appearing in multiple places around the world, with inter-breeding slowly tying humans together into one complex group. If the idea of a spirit and body is real (which, obviously, is debatable), it wouldn't matter when the "first human" became the first human - as long as it was early enough for a widespread intermingling to occur. The Biblical population demographics make no sense whatsoever, unless there were other "whatevers" for Adam and Eve's children to marry / have kids with. That also would explain why Cain's son, Enoch, needed to build a "city" - and the story of "the sons of God" marrying "the daughters of men" - and people marrying giants that were in the land. (The first few verses of Genesis 6 are fascinating.)

Also, a fascinating aspect of the Biblical story is that God doesn't place a spirit into Eve in the account; she simply is formed from Adam. I get the inherent sexism of that construct (only Adam perpetuating the spiritual nature of humanity - which would explain the term "mankind" in an interesting way), but it does open all kinds of possibilities for the creative process when it is framed with that particular allegorical structure.

I also believe the Garden story is completely mythological and allegorical. I don't take the Biblical chronology literally at all, including the earliest genealogies and lifespans. I'm just open to the idea that there was a first man (as our theology defines a combined body and spirit) and a first woman (same definition) - even if they weren't the people described in the first chapters of Genesis - or the idea of first men and first women, represented by mythological prototypes. (For example, even if they were from completely different continents and times.) "Adam" means "man", and "Eve" means "mother" - and our temple theology is fine applying those terms to multiple people - so I am fine with God doing that way back in the day, as well. If both / all could pass on their spiritual inheritance to their children, we could have what we now have.

Theologically and in practical terms, I like the simplicity of a couple receiving spirits and generating a new species - but, biologically, it just doesn't work - except through an intermingling with physical equals who previously didn't have spirits until the worldwide human species was formed as children with spirits had more children with spirits in one eternal round. Exactly when or how often the spiritual insertion occurred isn't an issue, once we reject the restrictions of Biblical time narratives as merely mythological.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: Biblical Literalism

Post by DarkJedi » 29 Aug 2017, 04:31

I believe the terms "Adam" and "Eve" are representative of all humans. I don't believe there was one Adam and one Eve, but they are representative of all humans. At some point God apparently recognized these beings had evolved into humans as we know them. I am open to the idea that there could have been leaders among them, perhaps prophets, known as Adam and Eve. I do not believe all humans are the offspring of two (or later 8) humans.

It is interesting to me that many faith/belief systems have a flood story. It is hard for me to fathom a literal global flooding event, but I do see the symbolic side of it.
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Re: Biblical Literalism

Post by DoubtingTom » 29 Aug 2017, 05:26

Ray thanks for your answer. I love your well-reasoned yet spiritually uplifting take on this issue.

The ubiquity of the global flood myth is interesting. In my mind it is either because of some cataclysmic (or locally devastating) event that occurred however many years ago and was passed down in oral tradtions. Or, it is just a myth story that was created and as religions developed and diverged many adopted that common origin of a flood myth. But I have no actual knowledge on the flood myth and what religous scholars say about its origin.

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Re: Biblical Literalism

Post by nibbler » 29 Aug 2017, 05:29

It might help for people to clarify what they mean by spirit.

Under many definitions I'd say that my dog has a spirit. I don't think god is waiting around for evolution to make dogs human enough before they are granted a spirit; or put less facetiously, dogs aren't waiting around for evolution to make them meet some minimum threshold for what god defines as a dog before they are granted a spirit. We're all still evolving, at what point is a spirit introduced into the mix? We're human now but will we be even more human in some distant future? Do we not have a spirit now but will then?

Another potential way to look at the spirit as it relates to pinpointing the first humans is when something becomes self aware. I'm sure there are other methods.

The topic is biblical literalism but the survey question is more focused. That's interesting because I think people look at biblical literalism on a subject by subject basis. For instance:
Acts 2:20 wrote:The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
I think the majority of people in 2017 would look at that verse and think, "Oh, they mean solar and lunar eclipses." Which is a departure from a literal interpretation. I don't know, but maybe 1500 years ago people may have taken that more literally, the moon will turn into actual blood.

What causes individual people or collective groups to depart from or adhere to literal interpretations? Finding alternate explanations that fit within some science that people accept, as could be the case with Adam and Even and evolution?

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Re: Biblical Literalism

Post by nibbler » 29 Aug 2017, 05:44

I don't think Noah's flood has to be rooted in a cataclysmic flood event, and by cataclysmic I mean something that either effected the entire planet or something that killed off an overwhelming majority of the human population at the time.

Look at what's happening in Texas right now, hurricane Katrina, the 1931 China floods, and the 2004 tsunami. They're all horrible events but not typically of the scale we think of when talking about Noah's flood, which is often preached as the earth's baptism, with everything that a baptism entails.

Imagine one of the events I mentioned occurring during prehistoric times and the event being passed down orally over generations. Every culture would have them because floods are a common thing on earth and I don't find it at all surprising that a local flood would "purple monkey dishwasher" it's way into a story about a global event where it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, waters covered the land for 150 days (or however long it was), and it was so bad we had to put all the animals in a boat.

Also, in prehistoric times I've got to think that if you were living in a village and the whole area flooded you wouldn't have much knowledge of the whole planet. A localized flood would be seen as a global event because for all intents and purposes it encompasses a person's entire world... which now we recognize was limited in scope.

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