Confusion about Adam and Eve:

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wayfarer
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Re: Confusion about Adam and Eve:

Post by wayfarer » 09 Jan 2012, 04:46

Ilovechrist77 wrote:Thanks. These are interesting insights. I always thought we were supposed to take the Garden of Eden as literal. At least, that's always what I thought.
before 1990 we were to take it figuratively. i think the church has moved to the mainstream to appease christian criticism, but could be wrong.

do you think that reading scripture figuratively helps you with (a) interpreting its content and meaning, and (b) reconciling cognitive dissonance?
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mercyngrace
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Re: Confusion about Adam and Eve:

Post by mercyngrace » 09 Jan 2012, 09:31

My understanding of all this is completely different. Here's my interpretation (add in all those "IMO" disclaimers wherever you see fit :) ):

The account of Adam and Eve in the endowment, up through the ejection from Eden, is premortal and parallels with the initatory. The initiatory revisits the covenant we entered into with God as part of our acceptance of the plan of salvation/progression.

When we are clothed in the initiatory with clothing which "represent the coats of skins", we are being clothed in mortality. We leave the initiatory (i.e. initial pre-mortal covenant), receive a new name, and begin the endowment in the telestial world.

Basically, the garden represents our lives in the premortal presence of God.
Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. ~ Luke 7:47

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Confusion about Adam and Eve:

Post by Brian Johnston » 09 Jan 2012, 10:08

wayfarer wrote:When we adopt a moral schema of good and evil without thinking, disregarding observable truth, and without personal spiritual confirmation, we are partaking of the fruit. It's easy. It's delicious to the taste and very desirable. And its' wrong.
I bow to you Wayfarer. That was a fantastic way to work the story.

I'll only add my agreement that the story is mythology and not a journalistic account of a specific event (mythology is still very valuable, I do not use that term to dismiss it). I think there are several logical problems built into the Genesis creation story because, IMO, Jewish scholars in captivity in Bablyon borrowed this creation myth from a different culture/religion. They took a very long story (the Enuma Elish) with around 1,000 lines of text and crunched it into a few verses. They also re-tooled it to fit with their radically new monotheistic paradigm. The end result doesn't always make sense ~3,000 years later to our modern Christian (LDS) minds. Not only is it not a Christian story, it wasn't a Jewish story either, originally. We're two religions removed and live in a completely different worldview (modern materialistic vs ancient magical).

So naturally, there's going to be some spots were it doesn't seem to make sense to us. ;)

Having said all that, let me say again: I don't dismiss this myth by pointing out that it isn't literal. A story that stands the test of time for thousands of years does so because it is an extremely valuable story. The mere fact of its history alone speaks some level to the profound nature of the meaning. I think this creation myth speaks deeply to our ascension to sentience and/or the nature of our existence in this reality. It is a story that transmits valuable information to us from a time before history. It also speaks to us from a part of our soul that is beyond the suffocating limits of rational though, and can only communicate through story/art/music/etc.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Re: Confusion about Adam and Eve:

Post by Old-Timer » 09 Jan 2012, 11:13

My own personal view of the story, especially as it is combined with the other temple ordinances, is much like mercy&grace's. I'm not saying that is what the story meant to teach in its original recording. I have no doubt that wasn't the intent of the original authors . . . but I like it within the temple theology, so I don't care.

wayfarer, all I meant by my comment about Lucifer is that I see the story ***in the endowment*** as Lucifer positioning himself as the "God of this world" by inserting himself between Adam/Eve and God, "commanding them" and convincing them to hide from God. Iow, Lucifer used their nakedness as a wedge to separate them from God. I should have made the endowment link more clear.

Now, having said that, I don't take it literally, so I don't believe it actually happened as I just described it - not at all. I'm talking about the meaning taken from the story within the endowment - and I'm OK with that meaning, since it also includes shame and guilt being introduced by the "father of lies". The idea that nakedness is shameful is a horrible lie, imo - and I'm fine with a story that figuratively attributes that shame to "the devil".

One more point about Brian's excellent comment:

It's fascinating to read the creation stories from numerous religions and cultures. They are different in some ways, but they almost all share common themes that would be baffling if they all came from totally different sources. I looked at synthesizing them at one point in my life and compiling a "common creation myth" based only on elements that were shared by many, if not most, and sometimes all, of them - but I never did it. It was really instructive, however, to do the research and realize how similar they are in so many ways. Christians like to think their story is unique; it's not - and I see that as "evidence" of some of the core claims of Mormonism and other non-Christian religions. (Can you tell that I have a really negative view of mainstream Christianity's theology? :twisted: )
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: Confusion about Adam and Eve:

Post by Brian Johnston » 09 Jan 2012, 11:46

Old-Timer wrote:but I like it within the temple theology, so I don't care.
I think that's actually what it all boils down to. It works. Period. You can invent the wheel over and over again, but in the end it has to be round and help you move things. Temple Mormonism picked this story back up and reworked it to teach truths, adding our own flavors and spices, yet again like so many religions before have done. No matter how you slice it, you're going to end up with a creation myth that explains the relationship between God and Humans. I think we have a pretty cool one. Ours has a lots of details. I like that.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Re: Confusion about Adam and Eve:

Post by wayfarer » 09 Jan 2012, 12:24

mercyngrace wrote:My understanding of all this is completely different. Here's my interpretation (add in all those "IMO" disclaimers wherever you see fit :) ):
...
Basically, the garden represents our lives in the premortal presence of God.
Once we set aside literalism, a world of wonder becomes available to us! each person's interpretation of the story, "likening scripture to ourselves," adds to the meaning of the story.

You have a wonderful point of view.
"Those who speak don't know, those who know don't speak." Lao Tzu.
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Re: Confusion about Adam and Eve:

Post by mercyngrace » 09 Jan 2012, 13:10

I should add that I don't we were intended to take the story literally. We are told in the endowment that the characters represent each of us. Historical accuracy is irrelevant.

The key to understanding Isaiah, per Nephi, and I think this has broader application to all scripture, is to understand the manner of the writing and propheysing of the culture that produced these works. Hebrew scriptures are collections of songs, poems, and narratives that are rich with metaphor, symbolism, and literary devices. Without an understanding of these things, we are left to approach the scriptures literally and inevitably miss the message and the beauty they contain.

That's a real tragedy. And ultimately, counterproductive.
Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. ~ Luke 7:47

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Re: Confusion about Adam and Eve:

Post by Bringiton » 09 Jan 2012, 14:55

LITERALNESS

I don't know about you guys, but I love to take the Adam & Eve story literally, although I also believe that even literal, historical events have deep methaphorical meanings. That's how God works, actually. Just look into your own lives. Things do happen to you. It's a history. But if you try to step back and look at it from a broader perspective (and I know it is difficult, since it is your own history), you would agree that it is quite epic. I believe that to look your life as an epic struggle is to understand yourself better and ultimately heal yourself.

LOVE TO STRUGGLE WITH IT

As for looking the Adam & Eve story as a literal, historical account, I love to struggle with exact same issues that you guys brought up in this thread. One of the most obvious is, of course, "Multiply & Replenish" commandment before the fall.

CLUES

First of all, I found that I wasn't able to reconcile until I decided to think exclusivelly literal. Then I kept asking questions and the looking for clues in the account. Here are the clues that I found important to bring more sense into it, though I am not yet finished with it:

1) "Multiply & Replenish"
2) "Partake not, nevertheless thou shalt choose for thyself"
3) "We will come back and give you further instructions"
4) "You have a world here like unto the world where we used to live"
5) "If thou cursest me for the same thing that has been done in another worlds..."


CONNECTING DOTS

Now, let me connect dots. Adam & Eve would have remained in the state of innocence and would have not have children had they not partaken. It is seemingly contradictory to No 1) from the above list. But, I believe that No 3), 4) and 5) are the clues. "Further instructions" were coming. That is certain, the instructions were promised before the fall. We can easily deduce, however, that those instructions would have been much more different, had Adam & Eve not partaken.

ETERNAL PROGRESSION

Now, let's step back for a moment. What were we doing before the Earth was created? We were progressing until the time we were ready for mortal probation. Is it possible that No 4) and perhaps even No 5) from the list above has something to do with it? Obviously, Lucifer was there. I don't believe he lied. True lucifer deals in half truths, like "theeere is nooooo ottther waaaay".

USE IMAGINATION

From there, I sketch a picture. I won't put many details, because, you need to use imagination and work it through for yourself. (That's why we don't discuss it outside the temple.)

We did progress before the Earth was created, that's for sure. How did we progress? Perhaps, we might have rehearsed a bit in a form of "other worlds". Rehearsal might have consisted of playing doctors with plastic tools, like children do. But fuses were built in situations. Nothing bad could have happened. As we played, we matured. Our personal traits were developed. Lucifer's included. He obviously liked always to play the doctor.

As we progressed, we might have slipped into the real thing without even noticing that we are not playing with the plastic tools any more. That seems to be the arrangement from the beginning. Fuses were removed from us one by one, until we, including Lucifer, ended up having none. Actually, there is one fuse left indeed, Jesus, but that's the fuse for grown-ups. And not for Lucifer, I'm afraid.

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Re: Confusion about Adam and Eve:

Post by Old-Timer » 09 Jan 2012, 21:47

I think bringiton's comment is a good example of people finding meaning in different ways that work for them, even if those ways don't work for others. I don't see it that way (and, honestly, I've never thought of it that way and don't get anything special from seeing it that way), but that's OK - since the purpose isn't to have everyone see it exactly alike but, instead, have each person see it in a way that gives meaning and "enlightenment" to them personally.

I think it's cool that someone can think about it uniquely and find great meaning in a way that just doesn't work for me. Thanks, bringiton, for sharing your thoughts about it.
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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Ilovechrist77
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Re: Confusion about Adam and Eve:

Post by Ilovechrist77 » 09 Jan 2012, 22:44

I believe the story was to be taken literally. Parts of it don't make sense, but I guess that's why we're supposed to accept Gospel teachings on faith.

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