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LDS Old Testament Notes 03: The creation

LDS Old Testament Notes 03: The creation

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Published by Mike Parker
All Old Testament notes: http://www.scribd.com/collections/4343354
Class website: http://bit.ly/ldsarc
Handout for these notes: http://www.scribd.com/doc/29505279
Slideshow for these notes: http://www.scribd.com/doc/29549340
All Old Testament notes: http://www.scribd.com/collections/4343354
Class website: http://bit.ly/ldsarc
Handout for these notes: http://www.scribd.com/doc/29505279
Slideshow for these notes: http://www.scribd.com/doc/29549340

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Published by: Mike Parker on Apr 06, 2010
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© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Old Testament Week 3: The Creation (Genesis 1
2; Moses 3
4; Abraham 4
5)
1)
 
[SLIDE 2]
Latter-day Saints have four primary sources on the creation: a)
 
These accounts are: i)
 
Genesis chapters 1
2. ii)
 
Moses chapters 2
3. (1)
 
This is Joseph Smith
‘s
 translation of Genesis 1
2, which he completed in the summer and early fall of 1830. iii)
 
 Abraham chapters 4
5. (1)
 
This is a portion of the Book of Abraham, which was translated or revealed after the Church purchased some Egyptian artifacts in 1835.
1
 iv)
 
The ritual drama portion of the temple endowment. (1)
 
This was revealed by Joseph Smith in May 1842 and has been revised several times by Church leaders since then.  b)
 
 All four accounts follow the same basic outline, with a few subtle variations. Moses and  Abraham mostly add details not in the Genesis account, but don
t change the sequence; the endowment rearranges the creative steps and the days on which they occurred.
2
 
2)
 
 We‘re going to start off tonight by addressing
 one of the most common questions about the creation: How do we square the scriptural accounts of the creation with what science tells us about the formation of the solar system and the origin of life on earth? a)
 
The manner, sequence, and timeframe of the creation have been the subject of much debate since the Enlightenment and the beginning of the Age of Reason in the 17th century.  b)
 
Dealing with this question may help us understand why the creation accounts in the scriptures read the way they do. c)
 
[SLIDE 3]
Latter-day Saints have held different views on science and the creation. One possible way to express these is with a spectrum:
 scholarly traditional
 
“6 days” of
creation are metaphorical Earth created in 6
days
 of billions of years each Earth created in 6
days
 of 1,000 years each Earth created in 6 days of 24 hours each
i)
 
Those on the right
at the traditional or fundamentalist end of the spectrum
take the creation accounts literally: God created the earth in six 24-hour days, or in six 1,000-year periods.
1
 
 We‘ll cover the origins of the Book of Ab
raham in greater detail in lesson 7.
2
 The six days of creation in Genesis, Moses, and Abraham consist of (1) light, (2) sea and sky, (3) land and plants, (4) heavenly bodies, (5) fish and birds, (6) land animals and man. In the temple endowment, the six periods of creation are (1) the earth from unorganized matter, (2) separation of water and land, (3) separation of light and darkness, heavenly bodies, (4) plants, (5) land animals, birds, fish, and insects, (6) man.
 
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 2 © 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
(1)
 
These individuals sometimes align themselves with a broader fundamentalist
Christian movement known as ―young
-
earth creationism‖ (YEC).
 ii)
 
Those on the left take a more scholarly approach, and agree with the findings of science that the earth is very old
3
 and, therefore, that the creation accounts are
metaphorical, symbolic, or even ―sacred
myth
.‖
4
 iii)
 
Note that this is a
theological
spectrum, which presumes that everyone represented on this chart believes that God played
some
 role in the creation of the earth
there is no atheism here. Although individuals at the scholarly end may believe that God
takes a more ―hands
-
off‖ approach than those at the traditional end, God does play a
role in all of these explanations. d)
 
[SLIDE 4]
 The spectrum approach can also be used to describe various Latter-day Saint  views on the creation of human beings:
 scholarly traditional
 God waits for undirected evolution to take its course God nurtures and directs human evolution
“Creation science”/ “Intelligent Design”
(old earth,  punctuated creations)  Adam physically born and brought to
earth (“dust”
metaphorical)  Adam literally created from the dust of the earth
i)
 
Those on the right side of the spectrum take the Genesis account
literally
: When the
scriptures say ―
the L
ORD
God formed man of the dust of the ground
‖ (Genesis 2:7; cf. Moses 3:7; Abraham 5:7), they interpret that to mean that God made Adam‘s body by
gathering a pile of dirt.
5
 ii)
 
Moving to the left we find those who take the Genesis account
 figuratively
, and see it
as a metaphor for another, ―hidden‖ divine creation account.
 (1)
 
 Among Latter-day Saints, this is often expressed in the belief that Adam was physically born and then brought to this earth.
6
 
In this view, Adam‘s creation ―of dust‖ is metaphorical for the birth process (see
Moses 6:59). iii)
 
Closer to the center are those who believe that God created plants, animals, and man in their current form, fully developed, but that this took place periodically over  billions of years. (1)
 
This is the idea behind so-called
―creation science‖—
recently renamed
―Intelligent Design Theory‖—
 which attempts to put creationism into an old-earth context. iv)
 
Individuals on the left side of the spectrum accept that evolution is the best way to explain the origins and diversity of life, that human beings are the result of evolutionary development, and that God used evolution to create man by closely directing it
or at least ―kick 
-
starting‖ it.
 
3
 Modern scientists calculate the age of earth at 4.54 billion years. See
http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/age.html
 
4
 Calling the creation accounts
myth
 
is not a dismissive or derogatory way of saying ―it never happened.‖ One definition of myth is ―worldview cast in narrative form.‖ See 
” 
 page 13. 
5
 One example of a Latter-day Saint who accepted this is 19th-century LDS apostle Orson Pratt, who taught this in many
 venues over a period of time. See, for example, ―The Pre
-
existence of Man,‖
The Seer
1/4 (April 1853), 57
58 (
http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/NCMP1820-1846/id/18094
).
6
 This interpretation is found in Brigha
m Young‘s teaching that Adam was physically born of a mother and brought to this earth, and that the Genesis account is allegorical, one of ―
the baby stories my mother taught me when I was a child.
 Journal of  Discourses
 2:6 (
http://en.fairmormon.org/Journal_of_Discourses/2/1#6
). See also
 JD
 3:319; 7:285
 
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 3 © 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
 v)
 
 Again, this is a
theological 
 spectrum
faithful, believing Latter-day Saints can be found on all sides of this issue. e)
 
None of these interpretations are revealed and endorsed by the Church. All of them are
possibilities; we don‘t know yet which is correct.
7
 i)
 
[SLIDE 5]
In response to the question, ―
In just what manner did the mortal bodies of Adam and Eve come into existence on this earth?
‖, President Joseph F. Smith
 wrote in an editorial in the
 Improvement Era
, the Church‘s magazine for priesthood
quorums:
Of course, all are familiar with the statements in Genesis…[and] also in the Book of Moses…and in the
 
Book of Abraham…. [Abraham 5:7] reads: “And the Gods formed man from the dust of the ground, and took his spirit (that is, the man’s spirit) and
put it into him; and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a
living soul.”
 These are the authentic statements of the scriptures, ancient and modern, and it is best to rest with these, until the Lord shall see fit to give more light on the subject. Whether the mortal bodies of man evolved in natural processes to present perfection, through the direction and power of God; whether the first parents of our generations, Adam and Eve, were transplanted from another sphere, with immortal tabernacles, which became corrupted through sin and the partaking of natural foods, in the process of time; whether they were born here in mortality, as other mortals have been, are questions not fully answered in the revealed word of God.
8
 
ii)
 
[SLIDE 6]
In 1931
after an intense debate between general authorities on death  before the Fall and the existence of humans before Adam
the First Presidency of the Church sent a memorandum to all of the General Authorities of the Church on the matter, and concluded:
Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church
…. Upon one thing we should all
be able to agree, namely, that [the
First Presidency, writing in 1909] were right when they said: “Adam is the primal parent of our race.”
9
 
7
 In 1992 BYU prepared a packet to be used in science classes, entitled
 Evolution and the Origin of Man
, that included statements by the First Presidency on the subject of human evolution (
). William E. Evenson, then dean of the College of
Physical and Mathematical Sciences, wrote: ―If one i
ncluded statements by LDS apostles in a handout on evolution, the range of views would include some statements against evolution, some sympathetic to evolution and several shades of opinion in  between. We want to avoid the implication that a greater sense of unanimity or resolution of this topic exists than is actually
the case….‖ Evenson, ―
Evolution packet defined
,‖
 BYU Daily Universe
, 12 November 1992, 3 (
). For a history of the packet itself, see Stephen Ott,
―An Explanation of the BYU Library Packet on Evolution,‖
 Perspective
 4/2 (Spring 2004), 30
37 (
).
8
 
Priesthood Quorums
 Table
,‖
 Improvement Era
 13/6 (April 1910), 570 (
). The article itself does not have a byline, but Joseph F. Smith and Edward H. Anderson were co-editors of the
 Improvement Era
and would have either written its unsigned content or had someone write it with their approval.
9
 First Presidency memorandum, 7 April 1931; quoted
in Richard Sherlock, ―‗We Can See No Advantage to a Continuation of the Discussion:‘ The Roberts/Smith/Talmage Affair,‖
 Dialogue
13/3 (Fall 1980), 70 (63
78) (
). See also the follow-up article by Jeffrey E. Keller,
―Discussion Continued: The Sequel to the Roberts/Smith/Talmage Affair,‖
 Dialogue
 15/1 (Spring 1982), 79
98 (
).

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