The Flood: Global or Localized?

I would argue neither.

With the rising tide of modern science, historical criticism, and other scholarly disciplines, those committed to a strict literalist interpretation of the Flood stories in Gen 6-9 have had to retreat farther and farther up the metaphorical beach in order to maintain their belief in the historical reality of the Biblical tale.  For instance, basic problems with a literal reading of the narrative include the fact that there is no geological evidence for a global flood, and that the Biblical Flood narrative in large part is derivative of an older Mesopotamian Flood story from the myth Atrahasis (among many other reasons).  Sometimes, though, more liberal readers of the text suggest that the Flood was a historical event but that it was localized in a specific area, and that from the shortsighted view of the ancient author the whole land (including the mountains) indeed was covered with water. Thus we shouldn’t expect there to be evidence in the geological record for a global flood. However, there is, in my view, a more adequate understanding of the text, one that takes it on its own terms.

Israelite cosmology as it is reflected in the Bible basically consisted of a three-tiered world with the heavens/sky above, the earth below the sky, and the waters below the earth.  In the heavens (which, for some authors, had multiple levels) the gods resided, while humans lived on the earth. Moreover, Israelites believed that there was water above the earth, presumably because the sky, like the sea, is blue and, moreover, rain would often come down from the sky. In this pre-scientific worldview there was a solid, clear (perhaps ice or crystal?) dome-like structure that prevented the waters above the earth from crashing down onto the earth. This material object is translated as “firmament” in the KJV in Gen 1. The so-called “windows” of heaven were, in their view, sluices cut into the dome through which YHWH would send down rain according to his providence.  The sun and the stars were underneath this solid dome.  Furthermore, pillars were sunk into the subterranean waters to support the earth, and below the earth was also She’ol, the underworld.  Mountains, on the other hand, were thought by some to support the dome.  For more visual readers, see HERE for a basic representation of this cosmological worldview.

Gen 1 describes creation as a divine process of organizing the world from the chaotic primeval waters by separating different elements so as to provide order.  The Israelite God separates the waters using the dome in order to create the sky and then, within this “bubble,” proceeds to organize the rest of the world through separation and demarcation.  Just as, on the social level, God separated the Israelites from the other nations and gave them his covenant and its attendant laws in order to organize their lives and provide them with well-being, so too, on the cosmological level, proceeded the creation of the world.  The formation of the world, in a sense, mirrored the creation of Israel, and vice versa.

Thus it would seem somewhat unfair either to criticize or to validate – on scientific grounds – the author(s) of the Flood stories by measuring their texts against the ruler of modern scientific cosmology.  The Flood stories do not comment upon whether the Flood was local or global in scientific terms; indeed, their view was pre-scientific.  Rather, for the Israelites who authored these stories the Flood primarily represents “uncreation”: that is, the disorder and chaos that existed before God’s mastery over creation brought order. When sin filled the world the God of Israel unleashed the subterranean and heavenly waters to fill the bubble. So too if Israel transgressed its covenant and failed to keep the laws of YHWH their society would fall into chaos and ruin.

  • http://www.feastuponthewordblog.org BrianJ

    “the Flood represents “uncreation””

    That seems so obvious to me now, but I never saw that before. Thank you!

  • chris

    The symbolism is nice, but I don’t know why the symbolism has to wash away the other meanings as well simply because our incomplete understanding of science is at odds with our incomplete understanding of the historicity of the religious record.

    Can you comment on why we shouldn’t also discard the following because they can’t be explained by science?
    - Atonement
    - Resurrection
    - Feeding of the 5000
    - Turning water into wine
    - Walking on Water
    - Parting the red sea
    - etc.

    This is not antagonistic toward what you are saying, because I like how you’re using your faith to pull some deep meaning out of the text. But at what point do we resist the urge to wave away any element of the text that just doesn’t scientifically make sense?

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/ TYD

    chris,

    I am not suggesting that one has to believe only the theological reading that I presented above to the exclusion of a belief in a historical basis or reality for the Flood stories in Genesis. What I am trying to get at is that simply asking the question whether the Flood stories are displaying a global or local Flood seems misplaced, because the worldview that the Flood stories assume is pre-scientific and doesn’t conform to scientific reality as we know it. The bubble or space that God made by dividing the waters in Gen 1 is filled up by the heavenly and subterranean waters in the Flood stories. It is showing “uncreation,” what occurs when God’s mastery over chaos is removed.

    Finally, to the extent that religious texts make historical claims, I think we can (and should) explore them as best we can. I personally don’t know of any scientific or historical methodology for determining whether Jesus was the Son of God, but I do think modern science could say something, for instance, about whether there was physical death before Adam and Eve.

    Best wishes,

    TYD

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com The Yellow Dart

    P.S. Thanks for participating here!

    TYD

  • Bradley

    Good point Chris. Modern science might have something to say about physical death before Adam and Eve. Something about five mass extinctions such as the one 250M years ago that killed off 90% of life and the one 70M years ago that killed the dinosaurs. Our civilization is working real hard on number six.

    As for proving that Jesus is the son of God, you can only prove it to yourself using the parable of the mustard seed. Fortunately, that proof can be absolute.

  • http://bycommonconsent.com Aaron R.

    TYD, great post. These themes really resonate with me, although my exploration of them have been more devotional than thoughtful.

    chris, the miraculous accounts in the NT are beyond discussions of historicity in my view and so reading the scriptures (inc. the miracles) for their theological value seems like a very responsible approach. More responsible, at least, than one which claims historicity.

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen M (Ethesis)

    The Indo-European root tongue appears to have originated in the area currently covered by the Black Sea. That flood really occurred (where the Black Sea was created).

  • Clark

    I suspect that the flood story that ended up in Genesis was an amalgamation of different stories and myths. (The Babylonian stories are quite interesting here) I think for Mormons what’s more interesting is whether there was a real Noah or not. i.e. for lack of a better word what the de-mythologized history was.

    I agree with you regarding the view of the Noah story especially in post-exilic times. I think many Mormons think they need an historic Noah because of the relationship of priesthood keys as they move down from Adam through Noah and so forth. (And in the July 1839 sermon by Joseph we see that he thinks Adam is Michael and Noah is Gabriel and sees them as both historic and having a future place in evens of the last days)

  • http://faithpromotingrumor.com Nitsav

    Exactly.

    My personal views on the story are complicated, but I’m beginning to lean strongly towards the idea that the account is meant to be universal in scope, and cosmological/non-historical in genre. As such, I’m not sure how the later Israelite author of the account would have conceived of the Ark. Heb. tevah or “ark” just refers to a square box, but I think the BAR suggestion about it being a sewn boat on the basis of Mesopotamian models likely as well.

    I don’t think the text *as it currently stands* can describe a historical geographically-limited flood.

    I think there may be a historical, limited-flood text behind it, but it’s been pressed into use and expanded (for polemical anti-Mesopotamican purposes?) into a universal cosmological flood, that re-creates the world by returning it to its pre-creation watery/chaotic state (as in Gen. 1:2, the tehom from which everything is created.) Noah is the new Adam. This is tied very closely to the P creation account (Gen 1-2:4a), which I think is also non-historical and meant to teach certain things.

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    I’ve got nothing relevant to add, but wanted to thank you for your occasional posting of this kind of study. Comment or not, I devour them.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/ TYD

    Thanks all for your comments and compliments. I hope to respond when I have more time.

    Best wishes,

    TYD

  • Clark

    I don’t think the text *as it currently stands* can describe a historical geographically-limited flood.

    Have you read Hamblin’s attempt to do this? I think he does a pretty good job. Nibley’s hermeneutic in “Before Adam” is interesting as well. i.e. if we are talking about particular people who are largely ignorant of all we know how would they describe a flood where everything they could see was covered in water? Would it be unreasonable for them to say the world was covered? Then later generations read that and, divorced from context, expand the context farther.

    I do agree though that especially during it’s post-exilic editing, the Noah story is supposed to parallel the ordering of chaos by God in Genesis 1.

  • John

    If we can read Noah as a myth and remain a believing Mormon, can we read the BOM as a myth with a message and still remain Mormon? Or does that put us on shakier ground? If so, what is the difference? Sincere question, not trying to be controversial.

  • Ben S
  • John

    Ben, thanks for the link. I agree you cannot make the logical leap “If the flood is fiction then the rest must be also.” But in saying that the flood, Jonah, or Job are fiction is to admit that God uses inspired folklore and myth as a people/religion making mechanism. If God accepts the inspired mythmaking of ancient Hebrew writers as beneficial scripture, then it seems consistent to believe it is at least possible that the same could be applied to the Joseph Smith’s BOM.

    While a slippery slope toward doubting all scripture is not necessary, it does seem inevitable for most, especially since figures like Job and Noah are corroborated in restoration scripture. In order for myths to have the nation building, religion making power that TYD is arguing for with the flood story, they have to be believed. For most people, believing that large portions of scripture are inspired myth is a little disenchanting.

  • http://infiniteenigma.wordpress.com/ Nate

    “For most people, believing that large portions of scripture are inspired myth is a little disenchanting.”

    That may be the case, and if so, we must tread lightly so as not to unduly shake the faith of those who cannot reconcile themselves with a God who might pass off myth as historical.

    I however, am utterly enchanted by the mythology of the flood as “uncreation.” I think it has the potential to completely transforms my own spiritual meditation on the flood, and it’s symbolic meaning in my own life. What gives the story it’s power is not the wonderment and awe of imagining a historical world that once was covered with water. What gives the story power is the symbolism of baptism, of uncreation, being born again, of becoming clean through spiritual showers cutting through the firmament from the pure reservoirs of heaven, the “water of everlasting life.”

    Wonderful post. Thank you.

  • Ben S

    “the same could be applied to the Joseph Smith’s BOM.”

    If so, it would fail. Whatever the genre of the Book of Mormon as a whole (and it’s quite possible that parts of it aren’t historical), the goals set out for it in the title page aren’t met unless it’s historical in at least some basic aspects.

    It’s as if you needed directions to a certain place, and I offered you a map of Oz with your location written on it. You’d never actually get there; the nature of the content couldn’t accomplish the stated goal of the content.

    That said, I’m fine with people in the Church who believe in an inspired fiction model (as is Elder Holland in his PBS interview); I just think it’s not a coherent argument.

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen M (Ethesis)

    btw, on the flood, ever since I read through the Pearl of Great Price where it explains that every land was a world … and the history of this world only do I give you … it opens the possibility that when the term world or earth is being used it means only the local ecosystem area or people.

    So a localized flood would indeed be the entire world.

    Instead of “neither” try “both” — understanding that a universal flood in that context is only a localized one.

    Now, if the speakers of the root language that we speak had not been forced from their original homeland by a flood (the one that created the Black Sea) I might not be so fond of this particular analysis.

    But the language behind Hebrew (and English and all the romance languages and all of the various indo-european peoples) comes from an area that was flooded.

    That ties into an interesting point about language, in that the original language was much more complicated than ours — nouns were conjugated as well as verbs, for example.

  • Rob Osborn

    It never ceases to amaze me that one will only find what one is looking for. The looking glasses people look through are shaped by what they want to see. The scope of the flood story has been discounted, disregarded, laughed at, mocked at, and everything inbetween. What do we as LDS make of the flood story? Well, it all depends on what looking glasses one is looking through. If one goes on faith alone, looking through the prophets in faith, he may not understand how the flood was global, only that it was- perhaps by some unimaginable miracle. For these people it doesn’ matter so much if science doesn’t add up, only that they hold fast to the iron rod in faith alone.

    For others who have seen this as not good enough, have done research on their own and have found the truth that science is really not all it is chalked up to be. Sure, science can answer many marvelous things, but when it comes to real history and the events that transpired, it has no real idea, only biased opinions and often times- ill muttered rubbish. On emust step outside of the box to know the reality and truth of the flood- in it’s literal global and historically accurate condition. That “should” be where all christians unite and find common ground. But, ah, the ease of finding fulfillment in the wisdom of man- so easy to just conform to popular opinion.

    Now let me adjust your viewing glasses- here let me take them for a minute and put a new set of lenses in them…

    Do we have evidence of a global catastrophe happening in our past? The geologic layers around the entire earth testify of their forming under water layering sedimentary layer after layer miles thick. Those water lain layers were then upthrust in violent catastrophic fashion testifying of their reality all over the world. Inside those sedimentary layers we find trillions upon trillions of once living organisms now transformed through time into rock. It is no question that these fossils we see were once living but all died and buried in and under great catastrophic conditions.

    We all realize that the great mountain chains we have on every continent were at one time under vast amounts of water where there sedimentary layers were formed. We also know that due to geologic events, these watery laid layers were brought forth out of the water and upthrust to great heights and in the process, they bent, fragmented, broke, displaced and jutted in all directions for everyones viewing pleasure. If one is smart, then he realizes that at one time, all of the mountains in the world were at one time formed under the ocean. It is not hard thus to show that the mountains themselves testify that in our past, there was a geologic catastrophe of the which we have never witnessed in more modern times. But, according to written historical accounts, prophets of God- his chosen voices on the earth, recorded the actual and historical record of this great geologic catastrophe- the global flood. As a testimony to their words, God brought up out of the depths of th eflood the major mountain chains of the world as a testimony that the flood was real. For those with the right and correct glasses, the monument to the flood is everywhere- indisputable evidence that God’s word is true- that the flood really is what it is reported to have been.

    So when I hear someone say that the “facts” state there is no evidence of a flood, I must calculte to myself that obviously they must be wearing the wrong looking glasses.

  • Jonathan Green

    Stephen M, I don’t want to interrupt the discussion, but this:

    “But the language behind Hebrew (and English and all the romance languages and all of the various indo-european peoples) comes from an area that was flooded”

    is not good evidence for anything. You’re mixing Semitic and Indo-European ancestor languages in a way that hasn’t been accepted since the 19th century. If we leave out Hebrew from your statement, you’re still placing the PIE homeland in a time and place (shores of the Black Sea, 6th millennium B.C.) where few scholars will agree with you. There’s undoubtedly someone who has proposed this theory, but the closest thing to a scholarly consensus on the PIE homeland (which isn’t all that close, actually) would use a far larger area not restricted to the Black Sea shore and a time a couple millennia later.

  • Jeff G

    Rob,

    “It never ceases to amaze me that one will only find what one is looking for. The looking glasses people look through are shaped by what they want to see.”

    If this is true, then doesn’t it apply to you? If each person only sees what they want to see, then how can any person ever place their perspective over anybody else’s? In other words, either A) you also only see what you want to see or B) you are somehow able to rise above this.

    If A, then aren’t your glasses “obviously wrong” to other people in the exact same way that that their glasses are “obviously wrong” to you?

    If B, what allows you to see more than what you want while everybody else can’t? What makes you so special?

  • Steve

    Rob –

    A key flaw in your argument is that not “all of the mountains in the world were at one time formed under the ocean.”

    Mountains vary greatly as to the kind of rock that they are made up of. Some are made of sea-originating sedimentary limestone (from ancient calcium forming sea animals in warm seas). Other are shale (clay layers deposited in slow moving water). Some are sandstone (ancient deserts) or granite (extrudes from magma below the surface) or rhyolite and basalt (volcanic in origin).

    Throughout the Rockies you can find mountains (often fairly close to each other) that consist of various materials.

    If there was a worldwide flood, you would see commonality in the materials that make-up mountains. Instead, you find various materials indicating multiple processes over multiple times.

  • Rob Osborn

    Jeff,

    The thing that makes me special is that my glasses are adjusted through the eyes of God’s holy prophets and not the nearsightedness of man.

  • Rob Osborn

    Steve,

    The major mountain chains of the world were formed under water. That is what I meant. Some people (most in fact) think that the global flood couldn’t have happened because how do you cover Mt. Everest? That was what I was in reference to- that Mt. Everest and like mountain chains were once under the ocean- the global flood.

  • Rob Osborn

    Steve,

    The major mountain chains of the world were formed under water. That is what I meant. Some people (most in fact) think that the global flood couldn’t have happened because how do you cover Mt. Everest? That was what I was in reference to- that Mt. Everest and like mountain chains were once under the ocean as flat layered sediments before they were upthrust which then formed into the vast mountains we have today. The Old Testament even states that God caused the mountains to rise and the ocean valleys to sink to create a border so that the flood waters would never again cover the entire earth.

  • http://www.feastuponthewordblog.org BrianJ

    Dear admin: is it time for some FPR merchandising? If so, I’d like #23 on a coffee hot cocoa mug please.

  • Ben S

    Rob, that is an amazing statement, and not in a good way…

  • Steve

    Rob,

    You are skipping over the key point — many of the world’s major mountains are not topped with sea-originating sediments. Some are. But many, many are not.

  • Rob Osborn

    Steve,

    Of all the major mountain chains in the world, which ones are not made of ocean laid sediment layers?

  • John L

    Ummm…its hardly worth pointing about, but I’m bored…the sea layers and fossils you are talking about did not form in 40 days or even 40 years, but rather millions of years.

  • John L

    “pointing out” rather…

  • Steve

    Off the top of my head, here are a few . .

    Cascades in Washington are volcanic. Sawtooths in Idaho are granite. Next door is the Big Lost Range which has lots of shale and limestone on top. Colorado Rockies are mostly granite. Himalayas & Alps are mostly sedimentary. Sierra Nevada mountains have sections that are granite, others are volcanic and some are shale & limestone.

    The point is some mountaintops are ancient seas. Others are old volcanoes or granite uplift. Some are even ancient deserts. Tremendous, tremendous variation.

  • Rob Osborn

    Steve,

    And the main point is that all of them have one thing in common- they all were upthrust. That is my point.

  • Rob Osborn

    John L,

    Perhaps that is the opinions of men. None of has a time machine to actually document some unfathomable time frame of million years!

  • Steve

    Rob,

    You are shifting. Your original point was that the mountains of the world were originally seabed and than uplifted.

    But, pursuing your course, the mountains indicate that their was no universal flood. Why? Different mountain were upthrust at different times. Some have eroded very heavily (Appalachians). Others are much newer (Sierra Nevada). Erosion takes a long, long time. The Appalachians have been eroded for many millions of years (Around 450+ million years).

    Some mountains are young. Some are very old. And, there is absolutely no evidence that all were inundated at one time.

  • Rob Osborn

    Steve,

    What a fantasy that must be- to actually believe that all that is 450+ million years old. We actually have a written historical record of the flood. How can you just discount that in light of some far fetched millions of years old pipe dream?

  • Steve

    Rob,

    Indications are that the Appalachians were the size of the present day Himalayas. The rate of erosion can be calculated. Also, the nearby deposits can be used to date.

    The techniques are used

  • Steve

    to date mountain ranges are all over the globe.

    What they show is that different ranges have been eroding for different periods (and, some are completely gone).

    For instance, the Rocky Mountains started to erode about 80 million years ago. Of note, parts of the Rockies are predominately igneous, others metamorphic and some parts are sedimentary.

  • Rob Osborn

    Steve,

    Uniformatarianism is the oft failed strategy for geologists. The present is not the key to the past. Even in our Book of Mormon we learn of entire cities vanishing into the sea and mountains coming out of the ground practically overnight. Those events, if true (is the Book of Mormon true) show that the past geologic events were very catastrophic in the past. Thus, the current geologic events such as slow mountian upthrust and erosion is “NOT” the key to the past.

    So, either geologists are right and all of mormonism is a fraud or the Book of Mormon is correct and geologists are greatly in error. I tend to believe the latter.

  • Steve

    Rob,

    Uhmmm, no.

    First, you misunderstand geology. Dramatic events are part of the geologic record. The asteroid strikes that killed the dinosaurs. The Yellowstone super volcano. The bursting of Lake Missoula and Lake Bonneville. All evident.

    But those big events do not override the fact that some things occur over vast periods of time. Continents moving. Mountains erroding. Rock formation.

    The bottom line is that a universal flood would have left consistent, worldwide evidence of erosion and depositing at the same time. There is no such evidence, only regional events widely seperated in time.

  • Rob Osborn

    Steve,

    So what about all of the reported geologic catastrophes that happened in the Book of Mormon? What does geology have to say about that? Did it not say that a great mountain came up pretty much overnight?

  • Steve

    Rob,

    The only mountains that rise quickly are volcanic ones. Given that the Book of Mormon events likely happened in Central America, that is consistent.

  • Rob Osborn

    Steve,

    And your basing that off of uniformatarian information? Why couldn’t a non-volcanic mountain come into being through being upthrust rather quickly?

  • Steve

    Rob,

    What builds most mountains is tectonic action, namely where plates clash. Though immensely powerful (this is the method for the major mountain ranges), it takes time (the plates move typically move 2-5 centimeters per year).

    To create mountains quickly, the plates would have to move quickly. The evidence is clear that they don’t (I can detail the evidence if necessary).

    In contrast, volcanic action can raise mountains in weeks.

  • Rob Osborn

    I just don’t buy it. There seems to be evidence that at least in South America, the elevation was raised rather quickly.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com JJ Rousseau

    TYD,

    This has been a great thread. Thanks.

  • Steve

    Rob,

    If you are talking about a multi-million year process. Look on Google Earth. You can see the edge of the plate buckling.

    On another point, why the constant suspicion of those who study the topic?

  • Steve

    Oops.

    “But, you are talking about . . “

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    My favorite argument in favor of a universal flood are the statements made my Peter in the New Testament and more recently the statement by God to Joseph Smith by revelation included in the Doctrine and Covenants proclaiming that only “eight souls” survived the Great Flood. I cannot think of any way a local or regional flood could have left behind only eight survivors.

    And I don’t worry too much about science. It is constantly proving itself to be wrong. In science that is called progress. Truth is eternal and unchanging regardless of how we perceive it.

  • Clark

    Why don’t you think a regional flood could leave only 8 survivors. Think of pre-Columbian groups in say the Carolinas in a massive rare hurricane. Would it really be that surprising if only 8 survived?

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    JWRedelfs is saying that God himself (not a local observer who wouldn’t know anything outside of his region) said in modern revelation that there were only eight survivors, and he’s interpreting that to mean that God said there were only eight survivors anywhere in the whole wide world. His way of reading is the same as that of people who insist that the Book of Job was historical/biographical because God, again in modern revelation, referred to Job, or than Jonah’s story was historical because the New Testament evangelist referred to Jonah. That literalist way of reading doesn’t allow God to use familiar human metaphor to communicate with human beings.

  • Steve

    John R.,

    A very good point.

    Clark’s posting makes for a good analysis. Assume in pre-Columbian North Carolina, a Category 5 hurricane struck full on — what would be the result?

    Certainly considerable loss of life, particularly in the Outer Banks.

    But, many — particularly Inland — would have been fine. The uplands wouldn’t have been flooded.

    To me, that is an attractive part of the Black Sea thesis. In such an environment, a sudden flood would have been catastrophic and few would have survived.

  • Steve

    Ah, Ardis. I was taking his post of somewhat tongue-in-check.

    After reading your post and re-reading it, I think you are right.

    Sigh.

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    JWR is a familiar internet figure who never writes with tongue in cheek. Best always to take what he says in as stone-cold sober a way possible, no matter how outlandish it would sound coming from anybody else you know. He always means exactly what he says.

    Sigh.

  • Rob Osborn

    I think the best evidence fromthe bible is that Noah went around through all the land and said a flood was coming- a 120 years in advance. It was also prophesied that through Noah’s loins would all the earth be populated after the flood. Now certainly there would have been some foolishly wise souls who perhaps thought if they could just move as far away as possible- perhaps even to the other side of the world and perch themselves on the highest land possible they could thus escape the flood. But it wasn’ to be- only 8 survived and literally all of todays earth’s population can be traced back to Noah- every single soul on this planet today. That to me provides the best logical proof the flood was way more than something localized- it had to have been global in aspect.

  • http://www.feastuponthewordblog.org BrianJ

    Are you suggesting that Noah traveled the entire world preaching about the flood before it happened? Or were there some people who simply didn’t get the warning?

  • oudenos

    After reading comment 56 I am pretty sure that Bob Osborn is yanking y’alls’ chains. No way he is serious.

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    So … Rob … you suspect there were people who believed Noah’s warning so totally that they would uproot their lives to move as far away as possible, even to the tops of the highest mountains possible, in order to escape the flood prophesied by Noah … but who did not believe him enough to, you know, actually follow his advice about repentance and stuff?

  • Steve

    Rob,

    Pray tell, how can everyone on the Earth be traced back to Noah?

    DNA shows no common ancestor in the past 100,000 years or so. Our genetic diversity shows a narrowing about 70,000 years ago (down to about 10,000 or so souls — probably caused by an Indonesian super volcano.) But, no dramatic narrowing to 8 individuals in a very, very long time.

    Historical evidence — ie. ancient civilizations, written history, etc. — shows no gap caused by a worldwide flood.
    One can walk through the dynasties of Egypt and much of Mesopotamia back to about 3000 B.C.

    Where’s this evidence of common ancestry from Noah?

  • http://www.feastuponthewordblog.org BrianJ

    Ardis: they wouldn’t have even needed to repent. They just had to step inside his boat. Their total unwillingness to listen to reason certainly makes reason stare….

  • Rob Osborn

    Steve,

    Do you even believe the scriptures, or are they some fantasy?

  • Steve

    Rob,

    The Old Testament is neither a true history nor a scientific text.

    For instance, the story of Daniel names the wrong Babylonian leaders. Job is filled with geographic and descriptive errors. Solomon, if he existed, was a minor ruler not the dramatic figure depicted. Israel itself was virtually irrelevant compared to the great powers of Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persian and the Hittites.

    Science? All kinds of errors from mathematics to geology to astronomy to animal identification.

    So, does one junk the book? No!

    It is a powerful religious book with moral components. It provides tremendous insight into the Israelites and God’s dealings with them. But, one must understand the distinction between the historical parts and the literary elements.

    The Bible combines history, literature, myth and poetry in way designed to teach moral lessons. Today’s often-literal approach really trivalizes it.

  • Rob Osborn

    Steve,

    So, if anything in scripture that doesn’t align with mainstream science exists, we should just chalk it up as myth? Where does this place the Book of Mormon?

  • Steve

    Rob,

    From the beginning, you’ve make accusations. When confronted, you don’t acknowledge or deal with the facts. Instead, you jump to something else.

    As I mentioned immediately above, the Bible is not a history of the world. Rather, it is the religious literature of the House of Israel with combinations of history, myth, literature and poetry.

    It only becomes problematic if one assumes that 100% of the text is an accurate portrayal of historical events. Some parts simply aren’t.

    The Book of Mormon is problematic. But, its primary issue is the fundamental issue of where the events occurred. Right now, we simply don’t know. Lots of theories. No direct evidence.

    For now, we can rely on its messages. They are valid and relevant. The archeological questions are for another day until we are given further revelation.

  • telson

    The Flood has often been regarded as a mere legend. Especially those people who believe in the theory of evolution do not believe that the Flood has ever taken place. It is impossible for them to think that it has ever occurred on Earth.
    However, we should ask ourselves whether the Flood really took place. If we make practical observations based on what has been found in the ground, the fossils and traditional folklore, they quite often refer to the Flood. These indicate that a large mass destruction took place in the immediate past. The following paragraphs will deal with these different sources of information, referring to the Flood.

    Chapter 1 – The mass graves of animals and fossils
    Chapter 2 – Marine creatures discoveries on mountains and dry land
    Chapter 3 – Carbon and Oil
    Chapter 4 – The devastation of dinosaurs

    The whole article is here: http://www.jariiivanainen.net/theflood.html

  • Rob Osborn

    Steve,

    I don’t see any problems with the Book of Mormon. But then again- I don’t go off the stupid dates archaeologists give things either. I see evidence in South America of sudden uplift and the abandoning of city, just as the BoM would state.

  • Steve

    Telson,

    I’m going to tackle a part of your posted link.

    The overall claim is that mass fossil deposits show evidence of a worldwide flood. A few minutes of scrutiny will show otherwise.

    There are numerous die-off sites. If they were connected to Noah’s flood, each would have several characteristics: 1) A mix of different creatures, ie. mammoths, dinosaurs and sea creatures. 2) There would be clear evidence of salt water depositing, ie. sea creatures, plants and salt. 3) They would have been deposited at roughly the same time.

    Many of the deposited in the link don’t meet that criteria at all.

    First, Agate Springs in Nebraska has Ice Age mammals. No dinosaurs. No sea creatures. No indications of salt.

    Second, the Siberian permafrost deposits contain Ice Age mammals — no dinosaurs, no sea creatures, etc.

    Third, mention is made of one my favorite sites. It is a deposit of about 10,000 duck-billed dinosaurs near Chouteau, Montana. This deposit consists of jumbled bones of very cool plant eating dinosaurs. They were probably killed by a volcano (hint: ash deposits). No sea creatures at all. Or, salt. Nearby (in site) is the famous Egg Mountain which has dinosaur nests. They are intact with some containing eggs, others juveniles, etc. If there had been this destructive flood, wouldn’t the nests been destroyed? They aren’t and you can see them at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana.

    There are lots of die-offs. But, they never mix creatures from different eras nor seas creatures with land animals. Nor is there evidence of ocean salt on the land die-offs. Another dry hole.

    As to the sea creatures on mountains, that was extensively explained above.

  • Rob Osborn

    Steve,

    I find it interesting that the refutal of a global flood (like your post above) speaks of “what should be found” if a global flood had happened and yet what conclusions are you basing this off of? Is it that you are basing off in your own mind what you “think” rather than how it really is? I believe so. None of us can be sure what kind of evidence there should or shouldn’t be because none of us have witnessed first hand what kind of evidence a global flood would produce- exactly how it works. So it is all conjecture on anyones part (including myself).

    In saying that, I am left to wonder just how we make conclusions like this in science? I am left only to believe that these conclusions are based almost entirely off of conjecture and very little real evidence.

    If you are an expert, what exactly would a global flood look like in the evidence? You seem so sure there was no flood but this can only be based upon a knowledge of what a global flood “should” produce. So- what would a global flood evidence look like?

  • Steve

    Rob,

    That is a good point.

    We do know what massive floods leave behind.

    The Missoula Flood, whic occured during the last big Ice Age left evidence across Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon; Scoured landscapes, rounded boulders, huge deposits, etc. This was from the emptying og a lake similar to the Great Lakes (wave a kilometer plus high).

    Similar evidence from Lake Bonneville.

    Basically, a massive movement of water would leave deposits of similar age. It would kill animals and leave types equivalent to the area covered. Thus, a worldwide version would leave sea and land animals together. The deposits would reflect the water type.

    The problem with examples above is that neither the rocks or animals show water over sea and land, rather one or the other.

  • Rob Osborn

    One could not rule out that perhaps in a global deluge and the extreme environment at hand that there would be a myriad of other events such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes, volcanic activity along with obvious things as sedimentation and layering and water everywhere. If we mixed all of those things together over a period of time- perhaps a few hundred years, what type of geologic structures would it leave in it’s wake?

  • Clark

    Rob, I’ve no desire to go into this for you but it’s fairly trivial to find scientists pointing out evidence of a great flood. The obvious one would be sediment in caves. If you are really interested just do a quick google. The evidence is overwhelming.

  • http://www.feastuponthewordblog.org BrianJ

    Rob: “over a period of time- perhaps a few hundred years”

    Where in the scriptures do you get any indication of “a few hundred years”?

  • Clark

    Sorry that should read, “trivial to find scientists pointing out evidence of problems with a great flood.” The problem of species separated around the world is obvious. Dating is pretty exact and can falsify most claims. The problems with a global flood are even worse than the problems with young earth creationism and they were pretty horrific for YEC.

  • Steve

    Let me give an example of a cave that indicates that no global flood has occured in the past 15,000 years.

    It is the Wasden Cave 17 miles west of Idaho Falls, Idaho.

    The cave is volcanic in origin. Every winter, owls nest in the cave and leave droppings. The droppings are like tree rings. Also, men have left charcoal at discrete intervals which can dated. Also, volcanic eruptions have left well-dated layers.

    The cave shows the kinds of animals in the past. Towards the bottom are three mammoths that were trapped, killed and butchered — about 12,000 years ago. About 8,000 years ago, 67 ancient bison were killed in the cave. Other creatures in the upper layers are modern varieties.

    Of note, no water-carried deposits meaning that in the past 15,000, no flood covered this portion of Southeast Idaho.

  • Rob Osborn

    Steve,

    But, man has only been around for the last 6000 years. Should we just throw out all scripture?

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    Do you have any hesitation about your throwing out of all science, Rob?

  • Rob Osborn

    Ardis,

    Throwing out all of scripture that conflicts with our supposed knowledge of science is pretty bad. By doing that we put the scriptures in the back seat and place man’s knowledge in the drivers seat. You tell me- what is worse?

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com TT

    Rob, it isn’t a zero sum game. To open your eyes around you, use your brain, and accept verifiable facts, as well as acknowledging the historical conditions that shape both scripture and its interpretation, does not lead one to reject God as an inevitability.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Rob,

    Stick to your guns. Amateur scientists are not the same thing as scientists. And never forget that in both science and religion it is human nature to go along with the evidence that supports your prejudices and ignore everything else. There are actually scientists who believe there is no God even though they see the evidence every time they open their eyes. For nonscientists, science is a form of substitute for religion with all the same “take it on faith” one finds in any church. As for “verifiable facts,” some do not understand the word “verifiable” very well.

  • http://www.feastuponthewordblog.org BrianJ

    Redelfs: Likewise, amateur scriptorians are not the same thing as scriptorians. But then again, if this is the Steve I think it is, he is no amateur scientist. And neither am I.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Er… there is no such thing as a professional scriptorian. For that matter, there is no such thing as a scriptorian. There is no such word in the English language. Check any dictionary.

    Now if by scriptorian you mean a person who is deeply learned in the scriptures, you could not be more wrong. While there is no such thing as a professional scriptorian, and everyone who knows anything about the scriptures is an amateur, it is also true that it takes more than book learning to become deeply learned in the scriptures. It takes great faith and the personal revelation that comes only with such faith. Without both, it is impossible to know anything about the scriptures that is correct.

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    Rob, you do violence to the scripture you claim to revere when you force it to do duty it was never intended to do. You make scripture an imposter when you force it to pretend to be science, or history, in cases when it is no such thing. Men like Steve who do you the courtesy of engaging you (they are under no obligation to shoulder the thankless task of writing courteously and thoughtfully to someone who hides behind rigid ideological error) are showing far more respect to the scripture by letting it carry its own legitimate burdens while shifting the false loads you place on scripture over to science, where they belong.

    Which is worse? I’d say it’s worse to misunderstand the scriptures in the way you do, and try to mislead other Latter-day Saints by teaching your false doctrine.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Oh… and I did not say that there were no professional scientists that are so messed up with their prejudices that they cannot separate fact from theory or understand what is knowable and is not. I was trying to say that science as religion is a much more common among amateur scientists than among credible, professional scientist who actually know what they are talking about.

  • http://www.feastuponthewordblog.org BrianJ

    Nope, sorry Redelfs, but I’m “sticking to my guns.” First, there is such a word as “scriptorian,” and as evidence I point to your #81 which shows that you verifiably knew exactly what I meant by it and then used the word properly yourself. Second, many people study scripture for a living—incidentally, not too unlike the prophets of the Old Testament (fancy that!)—and you haven’t the slightest idea how much they know. Third, it really doesn’t matter what you were trying to say because what you said and what you tried to say were both irrelevant: you’re dealing with professional scientists on this thread and thus your admonition to stay away from “amateur” scientists is just silly. Fourth, even if Steve turns out to be a 9-yr delivery boy, or a collection of monkeys banging randomly on typewriters, what “he” has written here is nonetheless correct and can’t be dismissed just because you refuse to engage with it. And fifth, the fourth point is worth two points.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    You got me! If all you say here is true, then I am a complete idiot. Since I will not accept that, I have to believe that some of what you said is incorrect. It has occurred to me that we may be using different definitions of professional and amateur. Also, our respective definitions of “scientist” is probably different. Finally, I am entitled to add amendments to what I have written. If I try to say something, and it comes out wrong, I can say it differently to make myself better understood. If you disagree, then there is truly no basis for an intelligent exchange. Of course that may have been true from the beginning.

  • Steve

    Brianj,

    Can I please be a collection of monkeys banging on drums??

    Sounds like fun . .

    More seriously, the real challenge is for John and Rob to engage the evidence.

    Instead, it has degenerated to 1) A claim that failure to adopt biblical literalism is heresy or 2) Scientists/those who follow scientific discovery are idiots.

  • Steve

    Oops. The correct phrasing should have been “banking on typewriters”.

  • Steve

    Argh.

    “banging on typewriters.”

  • http://www.feastuponthewordblog.org BrianJ

    Don’t be too upset by the typos Steve: probability states that most of what a bunch of monkeys would type would be gibberish anyway
    :)

  • http://www.feastuponthewordblog.org BrianJ

    Redelfs: “…then I am a complete idiot.”

    I don’t see why that must be the necessary conclusion. You could just be wrong, misinformed, and/or stubborn.

    “Since I will not accept that”

    Why not? Mind you, I just stated that I haven’t reached that conclusion, but I wonder what makes you unwilling to accept that possibility.

    “I have to believe that some of what you said is incorrect.”

    Why do you have to? Seems the most honest, straightforward, and sure approach would be to simply check what I (and Steve et al) have said—check the facts and let them speak for themselves. Then you wouldn’t be left to only assume that I’m wrong (or right). I mean, no scientist here is saying anything that can’t be independently verified by anyone who reads this thread; e.g., Steve didn’t pull all that orogeny info from a secret pile of papers locked in his basement. (Or his monkey cage, since that aspect of his character has still not been verified.)

    “It has occurred to me that we may be using different definitions of professional and amateur.”

    I’m really curious what your definitions are. I thought mine were pretty standard: “professional” means someone who does a thing as their principal occupation and derives all or most of their income from such.

    “Also, our respective definitions of “scientist” is probably different.”

    Again, I’m curious. I think my definition is pretty standard. For example, I refer to myself as a scientist because I spend most of my time systematically planning, conducting, analyzing, and reporting the results of experiments.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Brian,

    I have tried a half dozen times to draft a good response to your last comment, and I cannot. Our world views are so different that communication between us is difficult. I live in a world where there are very few verities, and everything else is subject to a changing understanding resulting from new information. Everything known to the human race has been recently acquired, and when our science and scholarship is mature in a few thousand years or more, mankind will learn that almost everything he knew or thought he knew at the beginning of the 21st century is wrong or understood far differently.

    Hence, facts are not facts. Evidence is not evidence. Men do not know the truth. All they know is the current and and constantly changing perception of truth.

    I wish I had a nickle for all the times I’ve heard people who think they are smart say something like, “Life on other planets is high improbable.” Or they might say, “There may be a God but it is highly improbable.” When in fact there is no way to compute the probabilities because the essential data is not available.

    Another way of explaining my point of view is to say all facts, evidence and truth is a matter of personal opinion. Others may not agree, but from my point of view, that is just their personal opinion.

    To take this thread full circle, I think that if there was a universal Great Flood, it was a great miracle, one of the greatest miracles of all time. But then, so was the Savior’s resurrection, his raising of the dead, the parting of the Red Sea, and many other events that actually took place in violation of all known science, facts, laws, and evidence.

    There may be no scientific evidence of a universal flood, but that may just mean that scientists haven’t looked hard enough or with a sufficiently open mind. Just like the rest of us, scientists labor under a heavy burden of preconceived notions.

    Science can no more disprove the actual existence in the past of a universal Great Flood, than it can prove that Jesus never rose from the dead because it is impossible according to current scientific thinking. Some things are simply not susceptible of proof because there was no observer there to take photographs. And even that would prove nothing because of PhotoShop.

  • Steve

    John,

    I’m going to vigorously disagree.

    Scientists and amateurs have looked for evidence of the global flood for several centuries. There is no evidence of water covering the Earth at one time. There is no sediment deposits simultaneously deposited. Nor, is there the mixed fossils entrapped in the same time period.

    Instead, we have a rather complicate crust that shows lots of events of many millions of years with all kinds of fossil deposits from very simple to very complex and recent.

    This lack of evidence is categorically different than contemporary evidence of a sole being who lived two thousand years ago.

    The only way a global flood could have occurred is if God proceeded to remove all the evidence afterwards. I don’t believe in such a trickster god who formulates nature in order to mislead. I would hope you do not either.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Maybe tectonic shifting takes place catastropically from time to time and not just gradually. Perhaps there was a flood, and the evidence of it has been swept away not by a trickster God but by natural means that we are not aware of yet. Maybe the Flood took place on an identical earth in a parallel universe. Maybe we are all asleep in high tech coffins like those portrayed in the Matrix movies and the world we think the scientists know so well are just part of an induced hallucination. Maybe none of the above but something else we cannot even imagine is the truth if we could just learn it. My point is, nothing can be proven. Nothing can be disproven. No matter what understandings we come up with for the visible evidence, the true understanding might be yet something else that we haven’t even dreamed of. We are all God’s children, ’tis true. But we are his newborn infants, not his teenagers who think they know everything.

    Scientists, if they are any good, know that it is foolish to draw conclusions from insufficient data. Well, almost all data is insufficient. How can we “prove” anything when we don’t have all the facts and for the time being cannot get them either?

    If you think we have all the facts we need on the matter of a universal flood, tell me, just exactly how much evidence is sufficient to determine the answer to this question, and where exactly can I go to see this evidence for myself? So many scientists have been wrong about so many things. Why is there so much disaqreement about fundamental principles among scientists in their respective fields?

    I am content that you do not believe there was a universal flood. People believe all kinds of things. Just consider those crazy Mormons. But how are you injured if I believe the story of a universal flood? You believe whatever you want, and I’ll believe whatever I want.

    There is good science and there is bad science. Do you feel you are qualified make this distinction? I’m not. But if you like facts, I’ll give you one. Scientists are human beings and make mistakes just like the rest of mankind does. They may think they have evidence and facts to back up their claims, but they do not all claim the same thing. More importantly, when a scientist or when all science learns that it has made a mistake or failed to take everything needed into account, they invariably learn that what they thought was evidence was not, and what they thought were facts were not, and what they thought was the correct interpretation of facts and evidence was not.

    Facts and evidence are like tea leaves in the bottom of a cup. Like the scriptures or the Constitution, they can be interpreted many different ways depending on the interpreter. Unless there is unanimity on some scientific claim, it is not a fact or law. And sometimes every single scientist in the world can be wrong about something just as can occur in nearly all other fields.

  • http://www.feastuponthewordblog.org BrianJ

    John,

    I think you were finally successful at getting your point across to me. It was this line that did it:

    Another way of explaining my point of view is to say all facts, evidence and truth is a matter of personal opinion. Others may not agree, but from my point of view, that is just their personal opinion.

    …and thus, John, you continue to refuse to engage in the actual evidence, instead favoring to simply dismiss it—not because the evidence isn’t there (it is!), and not because the conclusions are wrong (they’re not!). It’s a slick approach: whoever you agree with is right, whoever you disagree with is a flawed human who makes mistakes—and you never have to actually consider what they’re saying.

    On that foundation—meaning, the foundation in what I quoted—you were absolutely correct when you stated previously that there is no basis for an intelligent dialog between us. The amount of freedom you’ve given yourself to accept or reject evidence, or reinterpret words, etc., renders conversation impossible. Well, not so much impossible as irrelevant.

    According to your rules, nothing can ever be known (except what you know, of course). You’d even be free to, for example, state that my comment #90 doesn’t even exist. Others might point to it and say that they see it right there, but you have freed yourself from having to accept such “verifiable evidence.” No, nothing can be known. Nothing at all.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Heh, heh… You got that right. My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with facts. LOL

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Throughout my life I have thought I knew something based upon the evidence only to find out I was wrong. In such cases what I thought was evidence apparently was no such thing. I’m not egotistical enough to suppose I’m the only person who ever experienced that. I just assume others have the same problem. Maybe not you. You may be one of those rare ones that is right all the time.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Who decides how much evidence is needed to constitute a proof?

  • Steve

    John,

    In the case of a global flood, less reduce the level of evidence required a bit. How about to ANY evidence of one?

  • Steve

    Oops again. That should have read:

    In the case of a global flood, let’s reduce the level of evidence required a bit. How about to ANY evidence of one?

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Well, it is a “fact” that there is a story of such a flood in Genesis. I don’t know what other evidence there is outside of the scripturea because I have never felt the need to prove something I believe on religious grounds. Doing so defeats the whole purpose of religion, it seems to me.

  • Steve

    John,

    The problem with that approach is there is a myriad of evidence indicating that a global flood has not occurred. You’re in Western Idaho. There is evidence of repeated supervolcano eruptions (the one that now underlies Yellowstone starting with an asteroid strike in Oregon), subsequent smaller eruptions and Miocene lake beds (that’s where the natural gas is being discovered in the Payette area). North of you in the Hells Canyon area is evidence of ancient islands docking with North America as the crust moved. To the Northeast is the Sawtooth formation which is granite rising out of the Earth and further to the East is the volcanic Challis formation. But, not a shred of evidence of water covering everything at the same time. No widespread sediment deposits of recent age. There are some marine deposits in some limited areas but of widely varying and very ancient vintage.

    I would argue that the geologic evidence in your own area indicates no widespread flood event. That seems pretty compelling.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    You may be right. I am not a geologist nor am I qualified to believe or disbelieve what you say. The truth is. I don’t know anything, or to be more accurate, I know very little unlike most of the know-it-alls I’ve met in my life.

    There are passages in THE TEACHINGS OF JOSEPH SMITH and in the Doctrine and Covenants that say there is no time from God’s perspective. The past, present and future are one eternal now, whatever that means. It is part of my faith that God is a personal, hands on God and also that he unchanging. His existence in the universe shapes the world and universe in which we live. Now if he tampers or changes the world today, why not in geologic ages past since there is no past from where he stands? Like you I don’t think God is a trickster who goes about tampering with the evidence just to confuse poor, ignorant mankind. But neither am I so arrogant as to suppose that I know everything that he has been doing, or what the consequences are. Perhaps there was a universal flood that left no evidence for reasons that we cannot even imagine. Perhaps there is evidence that there was no flood even though there was one for unknown reasons. And perhaps the current generation of geologists are omniscient just as God is, and because they make no mistakes their current interpretation of the evidence is 100 percent correct. I just don’t know. These question make my head swim. How am I supposed to know this stuff?

    Because the universe is just too vast and complex for me to fathom, without my religion I would be hopelessly confused to the point where I could not function as a human being. I have CHOSEN to solve this problem by cleaving to the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And the Church as well as all the scriptures indicate that the flood was universal. I have never seen any president of the Church or apostle in the Twelve indicate otherwise. Nor have I ever seen a scripture, ancient or modern, that suggestss a local or regional flood. And since every man’s understanding of the world around him is largely a fiction, I’ll stick with my fiction, and you can go with yours. No problem. But at the end of the day, I just don’t know. I don’t know anything but my own faith in the most fundamental principles of my religion.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Let me tell you why geologists and other scientists do not have much credibility with me. A disproportionate number of them are atheists. The significance of that fact is great. I believe that all truth and all human knowledge are circumscribed into one great whole. In other words, every part of the truth and reality is irrevocably related to or connected with every other part.

    Further, we learn line upon line, precept upon precept. We cannot learn multiplication and division before we first learn addition and subtraction. If we fail to learn the prerequisites we are unable to learn what come next.

    Keeping this in mind, the most basic principle there is has to do with God. There is a God. That is the ultimate and most fundamental truth. Every other truth precedes forth from that one.

    Now if a person is so lacking in true intelligence and wisdom that he cannot see the obvious evidence of God’s existence, and he gets the first fact wrong, how can any of his other findings be trusted?

    I do not intend to offend anyone when I say it, but I honestly feel that atheists are mental retards. They cannot see the evidence of the Creator that is in front of their face every time they open their eyes. Now perhaps I will be misunderstood by saying atheists are mental retards. I do not mean to say that they are not smart. It would be more accurate to say that they are spritual retards. They are so committed to a materialist world view that nothing else matters to them. Part of their philosophy is that if they cannot see it or measure it, then it doesn’t exist. Nothing is true unless one can produce “empirical evidence” that it is so. When I consider the vastness of the universe and how tiny the knowledge of mankind is, I am astounded that any scientist can believe he knows anything about what can and cannot be.

    If a man is not intelligent enough to see the evidence that there is a Creator God, then he is not intelligent enough to be trusted with the empirical data of science.

  • Steve

    John,

    So, science and scientists are part of an atheist conspiracy by mental retards.

    Please explain that to the geologists and evolutionary biologists at BYU. They spend millions a year in tithing money to explore the geologic record, dig dinosaur and evaluate the evolutionary development of species both ancient and modern — all with the support of the Board of Directors (the First Presidency and certain members of the Quorum of the Twelve).

    I don’t know how to have a real discussion with you. You dismiss all evidence with a wave of your hand. Obviously, nothing in the physical world matters one bit.

    This kind of narrow attitude is a real challenge for LDS students who study the sciences. Many are led to believe that their only choice is to reject the gospel because the evidence they see can’t be dismissed so casually.

    I am so thankful to those who can mentor these young folks by embracing Darwin, geology and the Gospel. I personally find the geological complexity of Earth to be inspiring. I revel in the idea that God uses national processes .. the Big Bang, plate tectonics and evolutionary processes to do his will. Pretty darn cool in my estimation.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    — Steve —
    So, science and scientists are part of an atheist conspiracy by mental retards.

    — John W. Redelfs —
    I didn’t say that, and you know it. I have little patience with people who intentionally mischaracterize what I write. I was talking about atheists, not scientists as I’m sure you already know. I merely pointed out that there is a dispproortionate number of atheists among scientists which does speak well for science.

    And I know all about the evolutionary biologists at BYU. There are psychologists, sociologists and football coaches there too. I’m sure most of them are wonderful men. But that doesn’t mean I have much respsect for the fields they are in.

    You see, I am certain of very little that I know. Most academics are lacking in humility about their learning. They are forever proving each other wrong, but it never occurs to them that there might be problem with there own ideas and findings.

    I can’t stand hubris, and I see it all around me, especially among mediocre scientists.

    And I too think that God is the Great Scientist who uses natural processes to work his miracles. I just do not believe that anyone in this stage of human evolution knows what those natural processes are. We are Gods in embryo. Our puny efforts to understand the workings of God are so rudimentary that we never have cause to be proud of our learning. And before we let a contradiction between true religion and sciencee destroy our testimonies, we need to make sure that our understanding of science is correct.

  • http://Faithpromotingrumor.com TT

    “Throughout my life I have thought I knew something based upon the evidence only to find out I was wrong. In such cases what I thought was evidence apparently was no such thing. ”

    John, I’m afraid that this is most certainly, without a doubt, one of those times.

  • http://none pepete

    Professional Scientists – what is the definition of a Professional Scientist – one who gets paid for their scientific views, one who makes a living doing science, one who has sufficient credentials to be identified as such. Who identifies and catagorizes them as such?

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Good point. To me a professionl is anyone who has a profession. You know: Dentist, Medical Doctor, Engineer, School Teacher (Ugh), and so forth. It has just been my experience over the last 20 years online that the vast majority of experts on the Great Flood, evolution, the Garden of Eden, etc. are people who claim to be scientists who have no credentials whatever in the field of religion. And if they are commenting outside of their chosen field, they are just amateurs the same as I am. If such “scientists” wanted a modicum of credibility, they would learn a bit more about religion. To be credible in commenting on science and religion, one has to be well versed in both. Most of the “scientists” are 90 percent science and 10 percent religion.

    I have a good friend, Tim Heaton, who is the head of the Department of Geology at the Universy of South Dakota. He is an atheist who grew up in the Church and served a mission in Norway. When he was in school, I think it was Harvard, his mentor was Stephen Jay Gould who in his day was one of the foremost noted spokesmen for Darwinism. Tim and I get along just great because he feels as Bruce R. McConkie and I do that there is no way to reconcile evolution and Mormonism. They contradict each other completely. Those who do not agree need to study a little more Darwin or a little more gospel of Jesus Christ. Usually those who disagree are sub par in their understanding of the gospel. It is easy to harmonize science and religion if you know only a little about either or both.

  • Steve

    John,

    If evolution is so incompatible with the gospel, why does the Church spend millions each year out of tithing money to build, support and expand biology, paleontology and geology departments at BYU that consist of folks who believe, research and teach evolution? Of note, I don’t think any of those departments have a single professor who is a creationist or believer in intelligent design.

    Of note, those departments are leaders in their fields, publishing extensively on evolutionary biology, dinosaur evolution, etc. Hundreds of articles showing how evolution has worked and is working. I’m not aware of a single article pushing or backing intelligent design or creationism. Just last last year, BYU scientists discovered very cool sauropods and outlined their evolutionary history in a key scientific journal. BYU has and evolutionary biology lab that is a leader in analyzing how diseases and human species evolve. A BYU Vice President wrote one of the key books outlining evolution for lay audiences.

    These activities have been backed by the Board of Trustees which consists of the First Presidency and most of the Quorum of the Twelve. Of note, several of these professors have played key roles in some of the Church auxiliaries, including serving on the General Boards, writing manuals, etc.

    To be blunt, your claims about the separation between evolution and the Church are not backed by the Church today.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    You said:
    I don’t think any of those departments have a single professor who is a creationist or believer in intelligent design.

    I don’t doubt that. Such a professor would make BYU the laughing stock of the university community. Beside, as any person deeply immersed in the teachings of the Latter-day prophets would know, the Church presidents of the past have not been evolutionists, creationists and did not believe in intelligent design. They believed that life on this planet was transplanted here from elsewhere, you know, somewhere near Kolob.

    You said:
    Of note, those departments are leaders in their fields,

    I do not doubt that. When they set their minds to it, Mormons can kiss up to the world and the philosophies of the world with the best of them. Fortunately we have the temples to give us the real story.

    You said:
    publishing extensively on evolutionary biology, dinosaur evolution, etc. Hundreds of articles showing how evolution has worked and is working. I’m not aware of a single article pushing or backing intelligent design or creationism. Just last last year, BYU scientists discovered very cool sauropods and outlined their evolutionary history in a key scientific journal. BYU has and evolutionary biology lab that is a leader in analyzing how diseases and human species evolve. A BYU Vice President wrote one of the key books outlining evolution for lay audiences.

    In 1970-72 I took a five hour university course in introductory biology at the University of Nebraska, one that I aced. The course was taught by Dr. Charles O. Ingram, PhD. He was also a high priest and served on the high council in our stake. I knew that he admired Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie as much as I did, so I was surprised to learn that he was teaching the upper division course in evolution. I expressed my surprise, and he told me that he taught it “as a theory” only. I asked him why the head of the biology department would let him teach such a course, and he said it was because he knew evolution better than anyone else in the department.

    Now tell me, was this guy a crackpot or raving lunatic? No. He told me that he had to be low key with his misgivings about evolution because were he to express them his career might be damaged.

    You see, the reason there are no scientists who disbelieve evolution is because they have all been driven out of the field. The best way to achieve unanimity in anything is to drive out every dissenter.

    I have known other highly qualified scientists who privately disbelieve evolution. Needless to say whenever I mention their names, I am instantly informed that they have no credibility in the scientific community and are just crackpots.

    A book I found interesting a few years ago was The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn. It confirmed something I already knew, that there is a lot of politics in science, a lot of professional jealousy and turf building. Further, that a lot of what is and is not accepted as good science is determined by factors having nothing to do with the evidence.

    I am of the belief that the ironclad grip that Darwinism has on science is due more to these factors than the actual evidence. Perhaps it would be reasonable to say that Darwinism is very much like so-called global warming science. It is a body of ideas that are promoted primarily for political reasons and is like religion in some ways. The practitioners of this atheistic religion battle for the minds of the community of scientists, and they play dirty. They ruin the reputations of any who do not agree with them, and do everything they can to drive them out of the field. it should surprise no one that nearly all scientists believe in evolution. All the others have been driven out by the group and not because of the evidence.

    You said:
    These activities have been backed by the Board of Trustees which consists of the First Presidency and most of the Quorum of the Twelve. Of note, several of these professors have played key roles in some of the Church auxiliaries, including serving on the General Boards, writing manuals, etc.

    So? Church leaders are not perfect. In some cases they can be misled just like the rest of us. I challenge you to find me a Church publication currently in print that confirms the validity of Darwinism as the origin of man. And I challenge you to find such a publication teaching that the Great Flood was a local or regional flood. I don’t believe you can do it.

    And if the Board of Trustees, the Twelve and the First Presidency want BYU to be respected in the same circles that bestow respect upon Harvard, Stanford, Yale, etc. of course these activities have been backed by them.

    You said:
    To be blunt, your claims about the separation between evolution and the Church are not backed by the Church today.

    So? Tell me what does the Church back? They don’t back the Big Bang Theory either. In fact, they don’t back much of anything except the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not the Church’s job to go about settling petty squabbles over things that have little or nothing to do with faith, repentance, baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The fact that the Church doesn’t back something tells us nothing.

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    The fact that the Church doesn’t back something tells us nothing.

    You haven’t responded to Steve’s notice that the Church does back this science to the extent of “spend[ing] millions each year out of tithing money to build, support and expand biology, paleontology and geology departments at BYU that consist of folks who believe, research and teach evolution.” How do you explain that, John? Just another case of “Church leaders not being perfect”?

  • Nitsav

    “it is a “fact” that there is a story of such a flood in Genesis.”

    It is a fact that such a text exists. It is not a fact that your view of it is correct. You do not seem to apply your maxim that “all facts, evidence and truth is a matter of personal opinion” to your religious views, instead preferring a simplistic reductionist and exceedingly selective paradigm.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Ardis, you must not have read my whole post. You missed something:

    “And if the Board of Trustees, the Twelve and the First Presidency want BYU to be respected in the same circles that bestow respect upon Harvard, Stanford, Yale, etc. of course these activities have been backed by them.”

    In my mind it is clearly a possibility, perhaps even a probability, that the Board of Trustees support these programs because without them BYU would be a laughing stock. If they have a strong dessire to make BYU an institution admired by the world, they have no choice but to support these programs. That is not an indication that they are supporters of Darwinism as the origin of man.

    I think I wrote this in my last post. You must have missed it.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Nitsav,

    Huh? I do not read on a high enough level to understand what you just wrote. Could you dumb it down a little for my sake? I’m sure the Big Brains in this discussion are impressed.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    I do apply the same philosophy concerning “evidence, facts and truth” to my religion. I am certain of only a few things. I always keep in mind that if there is an abundance of “evidence, facts and truth” in religion it is no longer religion. Religion is about fath in the unseen, not something you can measure in a laboratory.

  • http://www.approachingjustice.wordpress.com Chris H.

    “I’m sure the Big Brains in this discussion are impressed.”

    Yep, I am impressed.

    FPR dumbs down for nobody.

    “I do not read on a high enough level to understand what you just wrote.”

    Johm, that should be a hint for ya.

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    I did miss that, John, but don’t think it quite answers the whole matter. According to your other comments here, you evidently believe that atheism and what passes for science are inevitably linked. How do you explain the Church’s ongoing investment, their willingness, apparently, to fund the teaching of ideas that will destroy student testimonies and create atheists rather than Saints? That’s all just for the sake of not being laughed at by other atheistic organizations?

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Chris H.

    Thank you for dumbing down for me. I had no trouble understanding your post.

    When you are as ignorant as I am, it is easy to be humble.

    The ignorance of ignorance is the greatest of all ignorance.

  • http://www.feastuponthewordblog.org BrianJ

    John: I’ll point out—for perhaps the fourth time—that your persistent pattern is to ignore whatever evidence or argument doesn’t fit with what you want to be true. It wouldn’t bother me if you just buried your head in the sand; that’s your own business. But you bury your head in the sand and then talk like you are more aware than those who keep their heads unburied.

    You keep trying to dismiss science on counter-arguments (if they can be called that) like “scientists keep contradicting each other” or blanket and unsupported quasi-statements like “most of the ‘scientists’ are 90 percent science and 10 percent religion”—as if you had any sort of measure or even knew enough scientists to reach such a conclusion.

    In #108 you repeat an absurd rubric you used before: “And if they are commenting outside of their chosen field, they are just amateurs the same as I am.” What you fail to comprehend is that the validity of an argument or conclusion is not based on the authority of the person making it; rather, it rests on whether or not the argument/conclusion is in fact true. Let’s use an example:

    Scenario 1: An esteemed chair of mathematics from Oxford approaches you and informs you that “5*7=35.”

    Scenario 2: A 3-yr old child approaches you and informs you that “5*7=35.”

    Which of the two has the greater credentials? which is more correct? (Hint: The correct answer is that you decide to independently test their statements before you go off commenting about—let alone denying—either one.)

    Your approach on this thread is to dismiss the second scenario because the child “is not a professional mathematician,” and dismiss the first because “he must be an atheist”—even though neither of those ‘observations’ has anything to do with whether or not the statement is actually correct.

  • http://www.feastuponthewordblog.org BrianJ

    I will add, in a sort of fairness, that I don’t think Steve’s response in #109 is exactly helpful. The question of whether or not evolution is compatible with Mormonism cannot be answered by looking at a BYU course catalog or poking around labs in the Benson and Widstoe buildings.

    Evolution is true; the Gospel is true; the two are compatible regardless of what BYU chooses to do.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Atheists are the only people on earth that believe the universe created itself. They have never seen anything else create itself. Not once. But they think the whole universe did it.

    Do a little research. I think you will find a lot of atheists have lost their religious faith because of their misunderstanding of science including Darwinism.

    Regardless, I did not say that all scientists are atheist at BYU or anywhere else. I said that a far greater number of scientists are atheist than is the case with those in other fields. I think medical doctors might be worse. My dad was a medical doctor and an atheist, but shortly before he died he asked my wife and me to do his temple work for him just in case. He was 79, just three months shy of his 80th birtday.

    As for why the Board of Trustees supports the science departments at BYU, they probably understand that a testimony is worthless unless it is tested. I’ll bet they don’t get rid of the communists in the English department either. Every field composed primarily of the “philosophies of men” is a threat to the testimony of one not firmly grounded in his faith. It is the Lord’s natural weeding out process. “Stait is the gate that leads to eternal life,” etc.

  • Steve

    Brian J. –

    I agree with your basic point. I was trying to point out that the Church certainly doesn’t act like it sees a big contradiction.

  • Steve

    John –

    Some years ago, I saw a small fireside where the guest speaker was then-Elder James E. Faust.

    He was asked about reconciling the Gospel with the scientific evidence and theories on creation. He made the comment that many don’t understand how little guidance we have on these matters. He noted that the Old Testament was given to a per-scientific society and was couched in terms that was have relevance to them. He said we were in a great age where understanding was growing by leaps and bound, that human understanding of the complexity of the Universe was progressing in ways that were not even conceived a century or so ago. He specifically noted that the Board of Trustees was encouraging scientific research at BYU as highly fruitful endeavors and he encouraged LDS students to go into the hard sciences. He used a quote from Brigham Young that the Gospel and science would, in the end, not be contradictory.

    I think Elder Faust was on the right track.

  • Steve

    Apologize for the spelling errors. Trying to do this on a phone.

  • Steve

    John –

    If I’m getting your posting correctly, you believe that the Board of Trustees structure Church universities in a manner as to put all kinds of testimony-undermining material in front of the students — to test them??

    I suspect both Elder Holland and Elder Oaks would find that fascinating.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    My email tag line for just short of 20 years has been: “All my opinions are tentative pending further data.” Occasionally I have been told that my tone when I write puts the lie to that. I sound absolutely dead certain even when I am not. Perhaps an explanation is in order.

    When I state an opinion as an absolute, incontrovertible fact, I do so because I want to put my opinion through the refiners fire. Will my opinion stand up to opposition? Who will come against me on the field of intellectual battle? True, I make a lot of enemies doing this, but I also learn which of my opinions will bear scutiny, which ones will survive the fire. This may not be the best way to test ones own opinions, but it is my way, and I have been doing it ever since I learned to talk, in other words almost 66 years

    Some of you, not knowing me very well, may not realize that I have a strong interest in science, a very strong interest. I am not nor will I ever be a scientist, but only a fool would claim that science never or rarely understands anything. And while many others may think me a fool, I do not think of myself as a fool, ignorant perhaps, but not a fool.

    The problem with email discussion lists and blogs with a lot of comments is they tend to focus the mind on the things that separate us rather than the things we know in common. Hence, this whole thread has been about whether or not the Great Flood was universal or local, about Darwinism, and about science itself. On these issues we are divided. But I’ll bet we have many tentative convictions in common. We just don’t ever get around to discussing them because of the format.

    The truth is for many years I have wondered about the fossil record and the bones of creatures that are supposedly the ancestors of mankind. If they are not evidence of evolution, what are they evidence of? I simply do not know. If I could ask God any question and get an answer, I would ask him, “What about the bones?” They simply do not make sense with the evidence we currently have. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. And it is not just Darwinism that I don’t know about. I don’t know about many other things. Was there a Big Bang? Did anything exist before the Big Bang? Why can’t we understand gravity well enough to develop an anti-gravity technology? Eistein did mathematice that indicated it should be as easy to travel in time as it is to travel in three dimensions. Why haven’t we done that? Why have we been unable to cure cancer? What more must we know to put an end to aging or at least enable us to live to the age of a tortise? How is it that we have not yet conquered the common cold? Why are we so myopic we let a few sucesses go to our head? There is so much we don’t know, largely because we have insuffient data. Some think we know a lot. But all of mankind’s knowledge together makes less than a drop in an ocean of what remains to be learned.

    I am sure that someday, when we know more than we do now, we will understand both science and religion well enough to see the complete harmony. We will know all about Darwinism. We will know about the Great Flood. Until then our minds must remain open. And we must consider the vastness of our own ignorance.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Steve, of course our Board of Trustees does not “put all kinds of testimony-undermining material in front of the students.” But knowing that every man’s testimony is tested regardless of what field he goes into, they do not allow that fact to deter them from their determination to make BYU one of the great univerities of our land. And if they did not allow the teaching of many things, some of them false, that could never happen.

    Personally, it bothers me to see faithful saints and prophets try to kiss up to the world and its academic fashions. But I am confident that they know what they are doing. And what they are doing is what the Lord wants them to do. But I’ll need “further data” before I can be certain that they have not been tempted and deceived into seeking the applause of the world. I don’t know whether they have or not. But in the absence of sufficient data, I will proceed on the assumption they are doing the right thing.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Well, the Church has been clear that it takes no position on the matter. However, individual apostles might have strong opinions one way or the another. That is not the position of the Church however. Still, I have never seen any hint in our manuals and other official learning materials that our Church leaders embrace either Darwinism or a local Great Flood.

    If we are still looking for something to argue about, I don’t think the Church has ever taken a position on where the Book of Mormon lands are. Sure, F.A.R.M.S has been integratied into BYU, but that means little except the brethren want to encourage the kind of study they are doing. Joseph Smith and Joseph Fielding Smith were certain that the Book of Mormon lands included all of both North and South America. Modern scholars are certain that such a thing is impossible. Who is right? I don’t know. And maybe the Church encourages The Neal Maxwell Institute to continue their research until they have advanced our knowledge on the matter.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Steve,

    I agree with everything that President Faust said at that fireside. Like Brigham Young we will someday know how perfectly true science harmonizes with true religion. Until then, we need to make sure that both our science and our religion is true. I am sure that our science has not yet done this, and I admit the possibility that the Church teaches some things that are false, or at least hard to understand with our current knowledge.

  • http://www.feastuponthewordblog.org BrianJ

    Steve, #122: that is what I suspected and I agree with you.

    John, #126: I am sympathetic when you admit that you “do not know”—that what you believe (your faith/religion) and the conclusions of scientists (regarding, for example, the bones) do not match up. You can’t find a way to reconcile the existence of the latter with your faith in the former. I am sympathetic to that.

  • Jenny

    This is an amazingly amusing series of comments. It makes me wonder what proportion of regular Joe Mormons dismiss evolution and/or universal flood, just because?

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    That would be hard to determine. So many of us are know-it-alls. Of course I believe this occurs in other faiths as well. As for evolution and the universal flood, we pretty much divide into two camps. Cultural Mormons place science above religion, and religios Mormons place religion above science. Our Church takes no position either way on evolution or the Great Flood. Some of our prophet-leaders do, but few of them speak for the Church.

  • http://ndbf.blogspot.com R. Gary

    Steve (#104) said:

    “Geologists and evolutionary biologists at BYU … spend millions a year in tithing money to explore the geologic record, dig dinosaur and evaluate the evolutionary development of species both ancient and modern — all with the support of the Board of Directors (the First Presidency and certain members of the Quorum of the Twelve).”

    Steve, BYU evolution courses clearly do NOT establish approval of the theory by the BYU Board of Trustess. Let’s look at some history.

    President Joseph F. Smith, in an April 1911 Improvement Era editorial, publicly berated three BYU instructors who had “advanced certain theories on evolution as applied to the origin of man.” And when their ideas came into conflict with scripture, “it required the modification of the latter to come into harmony with the former.” Cancelling BYU evolution courses, President Smith said:

    “Teachers in a Church school [should] not be given opportunity to inculcate theories that [are] out of harmony with the recognized doctrines of the Church, and hence that they be required to refrain from so doing.”

    Sixty years later, in an effort to help its students prepare for biology graduate programs at other universities, BYU resumed undergraduate evolution courses. Harold B. Lee was involved in obtaining the required permission from the 1971 BYU Board of Trustees. But, he said, “don’t … beat the Church with it.” (See Duane Jeffery interview, Dialogue, Vol. 35, No. 4, Winter 2002, 12.)

    This is the same Harold B. Lee who, six months after becoming Church President, expressed sorrow in an Ensign First Presidency Message over a Church member who had asked him about pre-Adamites:

    “She wondered about the creation because she had read the theories of the scientists, and the question that she was really asking was: How do you reconcile science with religion? The answer must be, If science is not true, you cannot reconcile truth with error.”

    This is also the same Harold B. Lee who, just weeks before his death, praised Joseph Fielding Smith’s book Man, His Origin and Destiny as the finest Church book for science teachers.

    It seems pretty clear that President Lee didn’t view BYU evolution courses as evidence for Church acceptance of the theory.

    In 1971, when evolution courses returned to BYU, Joseph Fielding Smith was Chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees. Here is one of President Smith’s legendary comments about the theory:

    “Today the world … has adopted and is promulgating in textbooks and schools the debasing doctrine that man is … a natural development through countless ages from the lowest forms of physical life to his present form and intelligence. Such a doctrine is an insult to our Father in whose Image we were created. [It] is the doctrine of the devil.”

    It should be obvious that permission from Joseph Fielding Smith to resume evolution courses was not an endorsement of the theory.

    President Boyd K. Packer and Elder Russell M. Nelson have each been asked to serve on the BYU Board of Trustees and both have warned BYU students about evolution. President Packer and Elder Nelson clearly don’t believe BYU evolution courses establish Church acceptance of the theory.

    President Ezra Taft Benson made this suggestion to parents:

    “If your children are taught untruths on evolution in the public schools or even in our Church schools, provide them with a copy of President Joseph Fielding Smith’s excellent rebuttal in his book Man, His Origin and Destiny.”

    Elder Bruce R. McConkie warned BYU students that one of today’s seven deadly heresies is trying to harmonize organic evolution with revealed religion. “There is no harmony,” McConkie consistently taught, “between the truths of revealed religion and the theories of organic evolution.”

    President Benson and Elder McConkie both served on the BYU Board of Trustees, yet it seems quite apparent that neither of them felt BYU evolution courses meant Church acceptance of the theory.

    Yes, BYU teaches evolution courses. But all BYU students are also required to take religion classes where evolution theory is countered with a gospel perspective. BYU evolution courses clearly do NOT establish approval of the theory by the BYU Board of Trustess.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Excellent comment, Gary. Far better than I could have written. The problem faced by those who accept Darwinism is that they have nothing to replace the theory if they give it up. Removing it just leaves a huge hole in their understanding with nothing to fill that hole.

    What human beings fail to understand, and that includes many scientists, is that some questions do not need to be answered now. Indeed they cannot be answered correctly until we have more data, sometimes data that will be unavailable for some time. Sure, evolution seems to explain many questions about the fossil record. But how can they possibly know that it is the only explanation that accounts for all the evidence? They can’t.

    Genealogists, historians and other scholars all know about this problem: It is human nature to fill in the holes remaining in the record. They fill those holes with their best guess, an educated estimate, or poor research from unreliable sources, anything to fill the hole. But the best way is to just leave the question unanswered until they have additional data, sometimes much later or even after they are dead and buried.

    How could scientists know of a certainty what has happened in the far distant past without examining the fossil record on other planets, something that is currently beyond our abilities? Their ideas would be far more certain if someone could have been there at the time, taken photos and good notes. In nearly all other things scientists rely upon observationa to do their studies and make ther conclusions. On this one topic they seem content to go with prevailing scientific opinion and forego the observations. Doing this makes of Darwinism a type of religion, something believed on faith mingled with a few dissertations and incomplete research.

    What all of us need is more humility and to stop being know-it-alls.

  • Latter-day Guy

    But all BYU students are also required to take religion classes where evolution theory is countered with a gospel perspective.

    Heh. One of the best religion courses I ever took at BYU was taught by an evolutionary biologist. He certainly didn’t waste our time “countering” evolutionary theory with gospel perspective — he didn’t need to. They reconcile just fine, thanks.

    Brother Redelfs, there is so much wrong with your comment that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Yes, there are gaps in the fossil record. Indeed, science actually predicts that there will be gaps in the fossil record (among other reasons, some living things just don’t fossilize very well). You seem to be working from the assumption that the word “theory” as used in science means something like “hunch” or “best guess.” It doesn’t. Evolution is a theory in the same way that electromagnetism is a theory, in the same way gravity is a theory.

    Your comments about humility and being know-it-alls suggest that you don’t really get the idea of science in general. The truth is, science must be humble, it must bow to observation, it must yield to data. That’s why science has “theories”–they’re perpetually works-in-progress that must be refined in the face of new information. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be reliable. Electromagnetism may be just a theory, but here I am, typing into a computer that functions according to that theory’s predictions.

    Biology and, more specifically, modern medicine are under-girded by the theory of evolution (for which, as it happens, there is a shload of evidence). Pooh-pooh-ing science in general–and evolution in particular–is fine, I guess, but only if you promise that the next time you get sick you won’t go to a doctor or take medicine, and you will instead dance with a snake. Anything else is hypocritical.

  • http://ndbf.blogspot.com R. Gary

    Latter-day Guy: Religion teachers at BYU are given a course manual. They are instructed to stay true to the scriptures, the teachings of the apostles and prophets, and what’s in the manual. How did it become this guy’s job as a BYU religion instructor to teach that the manual is wrong?

  • Nitsav

    R Gary, BYU Religion Profs. absolutely are not given a course manual, and receive no instruction to adhere to this fictitious course manual.

  • http://www.bycommonconsent.com John C.

    R. Gary,
    I actually taught religion at the BYU. I was given no manual and I was never told how to use a manual, should I have been given one. My class was never visited by anyone I didn’t explicitly ask to be there and no-one ever exerted any sort of influence regarding what I taught or how I taught it. My students, at times, disagreed with how I interpreted things; nonetheless, no outside influence came in to correct my understanding or the content of my teaching. BYU Religion is many things, but the ministry of thought control isn’t one of them.

  • http://ndbf.blogspot.com R. Gary

    So these 15 Teachers Manuals and 17 Student Manuals offered at LDS.org for purchase or immediate download exist only in my imagination? And the BYU Religion Department exists outside and independent of the Church Education System?

  • Nitsav

    Gary, you leave me speechless. I’ve never seen any teacher at BYU use, recommend, teach from, or require those manuals. They’re not for BYU professors.

  • Nitsav

    Actually, I’ve never seen any Institute people use them for class (either for teaching or students) either.

  • http://ndbf.blogspot.com R. Gary

    Is it just my imagination that the manual titles linked above match the Religion Department course titles at BYU?

  • Nitsav

    So… the whole department of Religious Education, from the head, associate deans, on down to the summer hires… is out of line, and completely ignoring the manuals they are *supposed* to teach from and assign?

    Is that what you’re asserting? If so… really? REALLY?

  • http://ndbf.blogspot.com R. Gary

    Well, the manual titles linked above *do* match the Religion Department course titles at BYU, right down to the course numbers. Do they not?

  • Nitsav

    They do indeed. But you’ve apparently been misreading them for years. Ask any relatives that have ever gone to BYU. Heck, call up someone in the department. Obviously I wasn’t there in the 70′s, but I don’t think they were ever even *intended* to be used at BYU, and they certainly weren’t prescribed or required to be taught from.

  • http://ndbf.blogspot.com R. Gary

    Is Institute credit transferable to BYU? Answer here. Oh. I forgot. You’ve never seen any Institute people use the CES manuals either. So is the Church just totally wasting all of the time and energy currently allocated to writing, editing, and publishing those CES manuals?

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/ TYD

    R. Gary,

    That is interesting that Institute credits are transferable to BYU. Not because I think it proves your point (far from it), but because I think it seriously calls into question whether BYU’s Religious Education classes should be accredited at the college level. Fascinating.

    Best wishes,

    TYD

  • Nitsav

    Gary, to have Institute credit transfer, they just have to take a test and write a paper, as well as meet minimal attendance requirements. I’ve taught those classes, and I was never instructed to use the manuals or to make sure students read them, and it’s certainly not required for credit.

    There are new manuals being written, as I believe you know, which may be quite different. At least, the writers have been instructed not to cite either Elder McConkie or JFieldingSmith.

    They’ve always been a the closest thing to an LDS scripture commentary or reference book, essentially a replacement for an informed instructor or BYU Professor. Not a teaching manual.

  • http://ndbf.blogspot.com R. Gary

    If TYD had followed the link in my comment, he would have known about the extra work required for credit transfer. I attended institute myself a few years ago as a young single adult advisor and I know from personal experience that institute instructors use the manuals. Of course, I freely admit that my experience doesn’t necessarily represent Church-wide reality any more than yours does.

    As for what’s in the new CES manuals, the newly rewritten Book of Mormon manual was published just two years ago. It quotes McConkie 17 times and Fielding Smith 16 times. Yet you claim the writers were instructed not to cite McConkie or Smith. Apparently the writers don’t follow instructions any better than you and your friends do.

  • Nitsav

    My friend on the writing committee is working on the Old Testament, btw, so your cite of the Book of Mormon manual is irrelevant. I don’t know what *they* were instructed, nor when that manual was written. And of course, requirements and instructions can change. I haven’t talked to him about it for a while.

    Your original claim that even BYU profs *must* use the manuals is vastly different than suggesting than *some* Institute instructors *may* use them.

  • http://ndbf.blogspot.com R. Gary

    Don’t misquote. I said “they are instructed to stay true to the scriptures, the teachings of the apostles and prophets, and what’s in the manual [and not] teach that the manual is wrong” (#136).

  • http://www.bycommonconsent.com John C.

    R. Gary,
    Again. I actually taught at BYU (you can find some record of it somewhere, I am sure). I was not told to use those manuals. I didn’t use the manual as anything other than a guide for how to group chapters (and rarely for even that). It is optional reading for most courses, as I understand. It certainly doesn’t constrain teaching. You are completely wrong on this account. I know, because I have actually taught at BYU.

  • Nitsav

    Eye roll. It wasn’t a quote Gary, but a summary.

    Here’s a quote, with an ellipsis. “Religion teachers at BYU are given a course manual.They are instructed to stay true… what’s in the manual..”

    Now, you want to claim that you *weren’t* saying BYU professors have to teach from a manual they’re given, which then you equated with the Institute manuals? Fine.

    Like John C., I too have taught at the BYU, as well as in S&I and the claims you’re making simply have no credibility.

  • http://juvenileinstructor.org Ben Park

    I’ll add my voice just to say I taught at BYU just this last semester, and I never once considered using those manuals, nor was I ever instructed to use the manuals. In fact, when soliciting advice from many members of the faculty (which included professors from many different backgrounds and drastically different teaching styles), not one recommended using the manual.

  • http://www.approachingjustice.wordpress.com Chris H.

    ” So is the Church just totally wasting all of the time and energy currently allocated to writing, editing, and publishing those CES manuals?”

    Most of them have not been significantly updated in years (if not decades). So, they are not allocating much time or energy.

    Great thread folks!

  • oudenos

    It consistently blows my mind that folks like R. Gary are so reactionary that they find themselves calling out the practices of BYU Rel. Ed. for being out of touch with the “truth” or whatever it is that they think that they are so faithfully protecting.

    This thread is shaping up like that one about that renowned artist who found his work removed from the BYU bookstore and was scandalized that liberals, intellectuals, and socialists had taken over the BYU that he thought he knew.

    R. Gary, you are wrong here and you need to admit and move on.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Latter-day Guy vs. John W. Redelfs

    Brother Redelfs, there is so much wrong with your comment that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Yes, there are gaps in the fossil record. Indeed, science actually predicts that there will be gaps in the fossil record (among other reasons, some living things just don’t fossilize very well).

    You seem to be working from the assumption that the word “theory” as used in science means something like “hunch” or “best guess.” It doesn’t. Evolution is a theory in the same way that electromagnetism is a theory, in the same way gravity is a theory.

    John Redelfs:
    I already know the difference between an hypothesis, a theory and a law. You are instructing me as if I were still in the third grade. For shame.

    Latter-day Guy:
    Your comments about humility and being know-it-alls suggest that you don’t really get the idea of science in general.

    Your whole post indicates that you are a know-it-all indeed.

    The truth is, science must be humble, it must bow to observation, it must yield to data.

    John W. Redelfs:
    This is just false. You are confusing the way science is supposed to be with the way it actually is. They are not the same. Many scientists are know-it-alls just like you. There is an on going argument between scientists about who the first Americans were. Some highly respected scientists say the Clovis people were first. Others think there were American inhabitants here before them. Both sides have lots of data, but they still wage war to determine whose paradigm will prevail.

    But according to your naive view of science, a war like this could not exist because “science must be humble, it must bow to observation, it must yield to data.” Whose data? Whose interpretation of data. Scientists are human beings like the rest of us and they make mistakes. big mistakes in some cases.

    Latter-day Guy
    That’s why science has “theories”–they’re perpetually works-in-progress that must be refined in the face of new information. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be reliable. Electromagnetism may be just a theory, but here I am, typing into a computer that functions according to that theory’s predictions.

    John W. Redelfs:
    I don’t doubt that for a minute, but physicists can study electromagnatism in a laboratory and it is happening now. Darwinism took place hundreds of thousand or even millions of years ago, and the research cannot be done in a laboratory, nor can other scientists duplicate ones experiments to determine whether or not the experiment was any good.

    If all of science had as much hubris as you seem to have, we would still be in the stone age. And if there are too many arrogant know-it-alls in the field, science will be utterly corrupted with bad data and and even worse interpretations. I’m glad you posted though. Your arrogance proves my point.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like aa duck, maybe it is a duck. I have long thought that were BYU to get rid of its religion classes or it science classes, it would retain the religion classes. This thread has convinced me that I may be wrong. I think the Church is in big trouble. It may be true, but it is also wacked as demonstrated here. The Lord will have to do something about that. I imagine he will.

  • http://www.approachingjustice.wordpress.com Chris H.

    “This thread is shaping up like that one about that renowned artist who found his work removed from the BYU bookstore and was scandalized that liberals, intellectuals, and socialists had taken over the BYU that he thought he knew.”

    Isn’t it great? R. Gary is, sadly, a Ute. He probably spied on Lowell Bennion and crew for Ernest Wilkinson.

  • http://www.approachingjustice.wordpress.com Chris H.

    “This thread has convinced me that I may be wrong. I think the Church is in big trouble. It may be true, but it is also wacked as demonstrated here. The Lord will have to do something about that. I imagine he will.”

    Ummmm…get a grip, man!

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    Chris H., you can proudly match commenters on this thread against BCC’s His Supreme Dustiness any day of the week.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/ TYD

    R. Gary,

    I am aware of the “extra work” you mentioned. It doesn’t change my comment one bit.

    Best wishes,

    TYD

  • Latter-day Guy

    I hate to take the focus off my obviously enormous ego, crippling, stone-age-making hubris, and towering arrogance, but I’d like to address a couple of your other points:

    There is an on going argument between scientists about who the first Americans were. Some highly respected scientists say the Clovis people were first. Others think there were American inhabitants here before them. Both sides have lots of data, but they still wage war to determine whose paradigm will prevail.

    But according to your naive view of science, a war like this could not exist because “science must be humble, it must bow to observation, it must yield to data.” Whose data? Whose interpretation of data[?] Scientists are human beings like the rest of us and they make mistakes. [B]ig mistakes in some cases.

    Sure. But the issue you’re raising here isn’t really analogous with the theory of evolution. I’m sure there’s plenty of in-fighting in evolutionary biology on many details. (And you know what they say about academia: “The fights are so brutal, because the stakes are so low!”) But on the issue of evolution in general there is very broad consensus, largely because the evidence is so overwhelming.

    …physicists can study electromagnatism in a laboratory and it is happening now. Darwinism took place hundreds of thousand or even millions of years ago, and the research cannot be done in a laboratory, nor can other scientists duplicate ones experiments to determine whether or not the experiment was any good.

    You’re wrong here on several counts: 1) Evolution does occur over a very broad time-frame, but it wasn’t just something that happened and now it’s done. Evolution is ongoing, which is kinda the whole idea. 2) Many elements of evolutionary theory can be (and are!) tested in laboratories –– white coats and all. For instance, genetic mutation in fruit-flies is observable in a matter of weeks. 3) Suggesting that only lab experiments count as science ignores whole swathes of various scientific disciplines –– geology, astronomy, astrophysics, etc. Just because you cannot put a supernova in a test-tube doesn’t mean that those who study them aren’t really scientists. That’s just silly.

    Anyway, I’ve got to get back to pondering just how awesome I am. The vast hauteur and self-importance you ascribe to me can really cut into blogging time. (Also, I’m soooo not letting you off the hook with the whole snake-dancing thing. I want pictures, Brother Redelfs… or maybe a YouTube video.)

    Hugs and kisses,
    L-dG

  • http://bycommonconsent.com SteveP

    FYI, I’m (note the P after the Steve just to keep things clear) leading a 14-week faculty seminar at BYU on the book ‘Darwin’s Pious Idea’ (http://www.amazon.com/Darwins-Pious-Idea-Ultra-Darwinists-Creationists/dp/0802848389/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315885371&sr=8-1). The idea Darwinism is dangerous to LDS thought is silly and is itself dangerous (People who argue otherwise cause more harm than they can possible imagine). I’ll let you know how it goes.

  • Aaron B

    Steve P, please videotape your awesome seminar and let me watch it.

    This has been a fun thread. I’ve very much enjoyed reading.

  • http://ndbf.blogspot.com R. Gary

    Awesome, a current member of the BYU Board of Trustees causes more harm than he can possible imagine.

  • http://bycommonconsent.com SteveP

    Gary R. I’ve never heard any of the Board argue that Science and Religion are not reconcilable as you do. You who sit in your arm chair not having to confront students are facing the massive evidence for evolution in their classrooms and tell them in effect to choose between their faith or science. For make no mistake that is the impression that your harmful, worship the manuals, worship the opinion of our leaders, rather than the substance of the actual official decelerations and the stance of the church on evolution, brings harm. People, like you who think the GAs are infallible and who turn them into Popes rather than prophets, but then turn around and claim they are blind to what’s going on at BYU or they are doing it to please the world, dismiss and disrespect them through the other side of their mouth.

  • http://ndbf.blogspot.com R. Gary

    Speaking of popes and prophets, was President Kimball just sitting in his arm chair when he wrote these six paragraphs found at LDS.org?

  • Nitsav

    Gary has no argument but authoritarianism.

  • http://bycommonconsent.com SteveP

    Yes, he is the Beast Master of the uncontextualized quote.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Name calling, the last refuge of someone who has just lost an argument.

  • http://www.approachingjustice.wordpress.com Chris H.

    Complaining about name-calling, the last refuge of the self-righteous ass.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    If scientists are so aware of facts and evidence, why don’t they scientifically prove that most faithful saints believe GA’s to be infallible. Those who make such claims don’t know squat about what faithful saints believe. They are just jumping to conclusions based upon an incorrect interpretation of observable data. You know, just as they do with evolution. Just because an explanation explains all of the known data doesn’t mean it is the only explanations that does so. Nor does it explain all the data that has not yet come to light.

    I have never met a faithful saint who believes the prophets are infallible although my wife comes as close as I’ve ever seen. It is possible to have a testimony and still recognize that prophets are mortal men who make mistakes. Some however find their mistakes where there are none just to justify themselves in their sins.

  • Nitsav

    Their sins?! Like, accepting demonstrated scientific information?

    “Our religion is not hostile to real science. That which is demonstrated we accept with joy.” Joseph F. Smith and the First Presidency, 1910.

    The real issue is epistemology. Gary and like-minded thinkers reject all knowledge and authority except that which comes through the Church. When the Ensign speaks, the thinking has been done?

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    I’m going to leave the thread. It has been fun, but I feel it is futile to speak of the things of God among spiritual retards. I’m sure that is not a description that justly applies to all here, but I am equally sure that there are some here to whom it does apply. Continuing to participate would just throw gasoline on a fire that should be allowed to go out.

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    Name calling, the last refuge of someone who has just lost an argument. — John W. Redelfs

    spiritual regards — John W. Redelfs

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    retards — *RETARDS* — ohmigosh, Redelfs is right!

  • Nitsav

    “the things of God”… like ignorance? Name-calling? Proof-texting and quote-mining?

  • http://www.approachingjustice.wordpress.com Chris H.

    Some of the most spiritual people I have ever known have been the mentally disabled.

  • oudenos

    “I feel it is futile to speak of the things of God among spiritual retards.”

    Hold on a sec, Corky! Are you suggesting that obtaining graduate degrees is the equivalent of going full retard?

    Nuts.

    *Ardis, you aren’t off the hook for going full retard and such since you are as invested in academics as any of the other retards in this thread.

    **I loathe myself for using the word retard, even in mimicry.

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    ** Me too, oudenos.

  • http://ndbf.blogspot.com R. Gary

    Nitsav: Proof-texting and quote-mining happens when the quoted excerpt misrepresents the intent of the author. I’ve quoted four Church Presidents and linked to quotes from President Kimball and Elder Nelson. I’m curious friend, which of these quotes misrepresents the author’s intent.

    Or, looking at a broader context, we might consider all that the apostles and prophets have said about these things in Church media for the past 50 years. Which of my quotes misrepresents that cumulative point of view?

    By the way, rejecting science when it clashes with the apostles and prophets is not the same thing as rejecting “all knowledge and authority except that which comes through the Church.” Not even close. But you already knew that, didn’t you!

  • http://www.bycommonconsent.com John C.

    R. Gary,
    That last quote you quoted is entirely irrelevant to the discussion. No-one was ill-speaking of the Brethren but you. You are being ridiculous.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    I know I ruffled some feathers here on this thread a few days back when I spoke disrespectfully of science, for some a type of religion. I pointed out how hard it is to know anything for sure in this life and questioned whether or not we should believe the teachings of the latter-day prophets on the subjects of the Great Flood and Darwinism. I tried to make the point that in science we are constantly finding out that we are wrong and therefore we ought to assume that some or much of our current knowledge is also wrong.

    Well, I found this today. It doesn’t really prove anything. Nothing does. But I do find it interesting because it fits so nicely into the discussion we were having. Maybe it is possible for some things to travel faster than the speed of light. What do you think? Does it relate in any way to what we were talking about?

    What if those who are so sure of themselves on the topics of Darwinism and the Great Flood are as wrong as all the physicists for most of the last century and all of this one may have been?

    In any case, check this out and let me know what you think.
    http://www.universetoday.com/89135/breaking-the-speed-of-light/

  • Romney / Huntsman 2012

    When I saw the title in this post, I thought it said Food: Global or Localized?

    As in eat local vs. eat genetically modified fruit imported from Chile.

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    No one here makes a religion out of science, JWR. No one. That is in some contrast, perhaps, to those who make anti-science, or ignorance of science, or misrepresentation of science, a facet of their religion.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Ardis Parshall:
    No one here makes a religion out of science, JWR. No one.

    And you know this how? Do you personally know every single person who reads this list whether they contribute to the comments section or not? I doubt that very much. And are you a mind reader that you know exactly what I had in mind when I said that some make a religion out of science? The fact is, and I’m the ulimate authorith on this, I meant all
    men everywhere who get silly about the faith they put in science.

    And while I am not a mind reader either, you may foolishly suppose that I am anti-science, but the fact is I am not. I am just anti know-it-all. Good scientists do not suppose they know it all. Their minds are always open to new knowledge and consequently the possibility that their present knowledge may be wrong.

  • http://www.keepapitchinin.org Ardis E. Parshall

    When you write one thing, JWR, and have something else in mind, as you explain was the case in your last as well as in several earlier comments, mind reading is really the only technique possible for understanding you. My failure in that regard is on embarrassing display in #54, where I credited you, based on our long internet acquaintance, with always meaning what you say.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    I do almost always mean what I say, but I am not always a good enough writer to avoid confusion. The fault is mine. However, in interpersonal communications as I once learned in a Mickey Mouse college speech class, part of the process is feedback which enables the encoder to determine whether or not the decoder has understood correctly. In the same class I was also taught that for communication to take place you must have a motivated encoder and a motivated decoder. If your partner in converstaion is not motivated to understand what you are saying, he probably won’t.

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Here is a phrase we ought to see more of in these threads:

    “Let me see. If I understand you correctly, you think… is that right?”

    I don’t know if this would eliminate all contention but at least there would be more understanding involved. Very few of us can communicate in written English as well as we should, or as well as we think we do for that matter.

  • http://www.approachingjustice.wordpress.com Chris H.

    John, while I am no longer an active perma here at FPR, I need to warn you that messing with Ardis makes the skin of my blogging persona turn green.

    I do not think there is a communication problem here at all…I just have a problem with what is being communicated.

  • James in Houston

    Oh shoot I missed a discussion involving geology and Mormonism! Those don’t happen often. I’m now finishing up my graduate work on the structural geology of a portion of the Himalaya….rest assured the Himalaya did not originate as an underwater mountain chan :)

    James

  • http://ironrod.wordpress.com John W. Redelfs

    Ah, but that is a straw man. Genesis doesn’t suggest that any of the world’s mountains originated in the flood. They were covered a very brief time:

    3 And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.

    4 And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.

    5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen. (Genesis 8:3-5)

    Geologically speaking, how long is 150 days? I cannot imagine that such a short immersion would have caused major changes such as would attract the attention of geologists today. It is also a slight possibility that in these primitive times the geologists don’t know everything.


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